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Sunday, 15 June 2014

Class Water-War

In Michigan there is a clear, geographic divide between the classes. It isn't like Manhattan or Chicago, where you need to wait for a street sign to tell you that this is the point of no return. 

In the low lying lands of Southeastern Michigan, you have the blue-collar communities. The once marshy land has been developed into a dry, concrete jungle. Here people live mostly hand to mouth; the few that grasp at the cusp of white-collar are usually pretenders. They got their mansions during the building of the housing bubble and scam, and owe twice the amount they paid for it, or their jobs pay nearly enough for two who do not have kids. That frees up an easy thousand dollars a year that would have been burned on school jerseys and ballet lessons.

In this world, water is a rare thing, contained in a clear pool or else on the tap. The only life inside it is viral--something the chlorine cannot kill. Any water outside of that--your Detroit river and Lake Erie--are dangerous places. People die in them. Pollution is rampant. Both have caught fire in the past.

Up North--or just Northish by Michigan standards--you have the richer, wetter lands of the wealthy. Out there the inland lakes are numerous. The houses built up around them are newer, better. The schools are bigger; the programs funded to excess. Out there, the trickle down politics of Rick Snyder are gospel. A world balanced and paid for by the sacrifice of the working poor is a perfect world.

Going out there is the only time where I feel that there is real tangible evidence of the Aquatic Ape Theory. At my Uncle's home, which is on a lake, I watch as the neighborhood kids hop casually into the boats, and set off into the depths. A lake where, not sixteen months ago, a man died, and it took a full day to recover his body. Yet these kids jumped into paddle boats and kayaks and canoes and take to the water like experts, unaware or simply unafraid of the dangers of open water.

I stood on the dock, my son dangling his feet over the edge and playing with my fiance, and I felt terror. Any moment could mean doom. The water has that power. It is death if it wants to be.

As that wretched emotion begins to take its hold, constricting my lungs and pumping adrenaline into my blood, I do the only sensible thing: I turn away. I walk off the dock and back to the hard, dry land--my natural state.

The state of my social class.

That's all from Elliott at the Kitchen Table.