Having Trouble Feeling “Pride”

I attended the StPete Pride parade, immersed in the zany energetic crazy dressed crowd. It was inspirational, for a few minutes, but the sheen quickly faded from the apple.

It started when I saw the many happy faces of the employees of local Wells Fargo bank. They were festooned in rainbow shirts and walked behind the trademark horse drawn stagecoach right down Bayshore holding signs touting diversity, equality and LGBTQ access. Am I the only one that remembers less than TWO MONTHS AGO that bank was fined ONE BILLION DOLLARS for criminal abuse & unethical conduct, after years of repeated illegal acts, completely ignoring their stained reputation with small consumers? Of course, with a fine that large, they easily justify bankrolling millions in bribes (a pittance!) to GOP senators & representatives to get the CFPB not actually repealed, but simply unstaffed and administratively shut down as an agency. No more pesky worries, Wells Fargo, consumer finance protection is now just a big empty building.  No more oversight, no people to check on your actions, no lights burning into the night looking at your records. I mean, it’s good Wells-Fargo gave out flag t-shirts to their employees, but I just couldn’t feel “pride” to see them represented in a parade of small consumers and working people.

Chase bank was there, too. You know they are big time political donors; hundreds of millions if I read correctly. Now, if you look you’ll see their money falls almost equally, 60/40 to the GOP. But if you look closely their “blue” money went to every fat cat wall street Democrat on the list, those that have gutted the people’s party into its modern version of “screw the poor, screw the worker, but throw them the fish of access to abortion”. Oh, and LGBT rights too, as long as it comes tied to a trillion dollar bank bailout, then a trillion dollar tax break, then gutting social security, medicare, and any security net left in the country. You know, THOSE Democrats that used every illegal maneuver to bar Bernie Sanders access to the ballot, then cry crocodile tears that people with unshakable student debt working at McDonalds didn’t support Hillary; after all “She’s a woman!” (and she supports abortion!).

Speaking of which, every fat-cat Democrat pol was there too, sitting on the back of some convertible; from Charlie Crist, Graham, right down to local county districts. I think I saw one actual progressive, maybe two (if Steny Hoyer hasn’t drown them all in some tiny political bathtub). The Pinellas Stonewall float went by, inspiring to see such good rank-and-file people; hard working and dedicated to the progressive cause of the working poor. But sitting on that float was our own county chair; she that supported in my hometown a “paper democrat” backed by big blue pols, dark money banks & builders, and now supporting tearing down houses to build McMansions. Despite of his multiple elections using lies and smears against truly progressive opponents, this time against the head of the local family shelter. “Its the rules”, she said … just like folks said in My Lai and Nuremberg, and she received equal sympathy from me.

I recall she also participated in selecting big money Alex Sink in handing over our local district to David Jolly (now the only sane Republican in all of Washington) but later big money Charlie Crist came back to make her look good. Yes, safely blue so expect those abortions to be protected … along with banks, the sanctity of high interest student loans, low taxes for the wealthiest, and balancing the budget on the back of the poorest, plus zillions spent for military while the poorest die of cured diseases. But at least those Wall Street democrats are not Republicans that do all that evil PLUS hate gays!

Raytheon was there, a local employer that obviously supports LGBT rights based on their employees proud faces. They also make their money as a defense contractor for our world-wide interventions. They supply whiz bang technology to the Department of Homeland Security. You know the guys that strip us naked at the airport, yank children from parents that are fleeing “bad guys with a gun”, and arm local police forces with more firepower than many countries’ military. Its good they don’t do all that and ALSO hate gays. But should we, as the working citizens of America, “cheer” their participation?

Accenture, the former Anderson consulting, celebrated their LGBT employees. They make hundreds of millions from outsourced government jobs (one of those Republican private sector “job creators”) by skimming off millions instead of us just paying those employees directly. If you recall, Accenture reincorporated out of the USA into Bermuda a while back, to avoid paying taxes to the government (that’s us) on all that income, much made from contracts with the government (that’s us). I mean, it’s good they don’t fire & discriminate based on sexual orientation, but it was just hard to feel ‘pride’.

So, has the working class, the working poor, the young and progressives in general now reached such a low point in America that we are just happy that things “could be EVEN WORSE”?

Wellcare, the Florida health insurance manager, was present. During ACA they donated millions to Florida republicans to get our state’s administrative non-enforcement passed. They have been fined for literally skimming money from Medicare, out of the pockets of the sick and hospitalized elderly and indigent. As an ACA administrator they profit from the pointlessly jack-upped prices of the Florida GOP manipulated insurance marketplace. Of course, part of manipulating the uninformed to hate so-called “obamacare” was to deny millions Medicaid that would be available with a simple stroke of a pen. So through this chain of money, payola, executive decisions and administrative acts; you could easily say that Wellcare has blood on their hands from the unnecessary deaths of hundreds, or even thousands, of poor, elderly, and ill in Florida. But at least they support LGBT employees.

HCA was there too, the place Rick Scott (is that my signature? I don’t remember my name) skimmed millions, pocketed it then used 75 of them for a 24/7 lie/scare campaign to buy the governor’s mansion. HCA only made $2 billion dollars profit a couple years ago, while warning us of the dangers of government provided healthcare, and are on a buying spree (of both hospitals and politicians). But they do not treat LGBT employees poorly, although rumor has it workers don’t fare so well.

Lots of us have pride in our gay & lesbian neighbors; we support them in words, deed, and action. I loved seeing activist church congregations like UUSP: the Unitarian Universalists of St Pete (including several members from my old UU congregation in Clearwater). Also the Allandale UMC with Rev Andy Oliver front and center, leading the charge on getting my old sect to accept their Lord’s lessons on love. Several other gay-friendly church congregations, Planned Parenthood, gay friendly clinics, plus the PFLAG support groups, PSTA transit, and fun social organizations like Gay Men’s chorus of course made me smile.

But the Hard Rock Casino? Sure that is a fun diversion, and without access to legal gambling (and legal marijuana and legal sex workers) we know that dark forces and sociopathic organizations like the Mafia roll in to fill the void. But while it’s good to see them support Pride, is it really a message to cheer, or just something to accept as “better than its alternative”. Also, I have a special part in my heart for the float from the Oz Gentleman’s (and now Ladies’) club, but I know that anybody there is involved in tremendous exploitation of “independent contractors” and employment arrangements that make “right to work” look like a godsend.

Both Macy & Nordstrom were marching, but for how long? Again good for them to support LGBT employees, but both are a failed business model based on decades of consumerism; that drove the American wall-street economy via consumer spending and bank financed debt. Do you remember the days immediately after 9/11? President W was asked to give advice to his fellow citizens. No FDR he: not solace for family, draw tight with your neighbors, plant a victory garden, or buy a savings bond. No, it was “go spend money” or the house of cards of wall street, supported by years of borrow and spend consumerism, would topple within a few weeks. (And, he added, be afraid … very very afraid … its “code red” out there!).

So I was glad to see corporate America paying lip service to LGBT rights while they simultaneously cut the legs out of both LGBT and non-LGBT employees; destroying the environment, destroying the economy for generations to come, and turning our once proud country into a third world nation. Giving the people bread and circuses always works, something to distract them. And think of all those companies that do all of this type of evil: Starving children, profiting from false imprisonment, profiting from the sale of guns and ammunition, profiting from unsustainable sprawl construction, getting government patent protections on necessary medicines, foods, even making the poor pay for life sustaining water that falls naturally from the sky … PLUS ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE in criminalizing and economically disenfranchising Americans based on their sexual orientation.

I guess we should feel “Pride” … after all, it could be even WORSE!

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