Textproduktion: Comment/Creative Writing "Just Business" by E. Bogosian
For generations of Americans the idea of the American Dream has become something like a creed. It is the firm believe that anybody can make it if they only want to. Self-efficiency and a fair amount of grit are the essentials of this very American idea that every man is the artisan of his own fortune. However, in times of globalisation the notion of the American Dream has lost much of its shine. Avarice and corporate interests have very often replaced solidarity and humanity. This makes the entrepreneur’s motto a rather cynical remark.
Up until a quarter of a century ago when the Iron Curtain still divided the world into a capitalist West and a communist East, the USA was the undisputed economic leader. Being top in so many sectors made it easy for most Americans to believe that gaining wealth and happiness was only a matter of personal success. Since then the world has changed radically. The enormous competition on the world market, the rise of countries like China, India or Brazil and global economic crisis have made life much tougher for the average American. While the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer and even many middle class Americans are struggling to afford the lifestyle they were used to.
Lately Americans used to blame inhumane business policies or the state for somebody’s misfortune. In the world of Puritan work ethics loss of job, house or family car were considered the result of some fault of one’s own. Even though such believes are still deeply rooted in American society, the number of those who put the blame on an insatiable and exploitative capitalism has risen in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis which struck the USA rather hard. As it has become much harder to fulfil one’s personal American Dream, many Americans have begun to call for help from the state.
All in all, the employer’s remark displays an aggressive and inhumane sense of business. The bitter irony of it is that it ranks the worth of money far beyond that of the people who make it and to whose use it should be. Globalisation has thrown the social inequalities around the world into sharp relief and it makes us more than ever aware that the material greed of some has led to a shameful disregard of people and sometimes even human life.
(Jack is sitting in a garden chair in Barry’s backyard holding a drink and looking at Barry who is standing at the pool with his back to him pulling off leaves from a nearby bush.)
JACK: Listen, Barry! I know it’s tough.
BARRY (without turning round): Tough?
JACK: Come on, Barry. Sit down! Let’s talk this through properly.
BARRY (turning half round shredding leaves): What is there to talk through? 25 years I’ve been with this company and suddenly I’ve become dispensable. Do you know what that means? Financially and all?
JACK: I thought you were financially in the dry.
BARRY: We were. As long as I had a job and only because we were scraping it together. We’ve just paid off this house. Took us far too long to sell the old one and with that damned crisis on the real estate market we got much less for it than we had calculated for. And then Karen’s mother got ill. Do you know what Alzheimer treatment costs? And the insurance doesn’t cover it all. Of course Karen insisted that we step in with the costs for the nursing home. That’s bloody 2500 dollars a month! Not that I don’t like my mother-in-law, but HELL! That’s a lot of money for an old lady who barely remembers who we are. And then the kids’ college fees! Do you know what one of them costs me to get through college? 30 grand!
JACK: That’s rough, man! Have you spoken to Karen? She’s a resourceful woman.
BARRY (taking a deep sigh): Even a resourceful woman can get to her wit’s end sometimes. She has asked her boss for a rise. She would have been due for one anyway, but her boss turned her down. She told her that “the company’s situation just didn’t allow for it right now”. It’s the same all round. (silence) The boss owes me, you know. I am his best man.
JACK: I’m sure he does, Barry. And I’m sure you are. I mean, I’ve seen you working all these years and you did a great job. The boss said so, too, but…
BARRY: So, what did he say then? You spoke to him, right! WHAT did he say? If I was so bloody good why did he sack ME then?
JACK: Barry, you know the market. There is competition everywhere. The Chinese are squeezing in big time. It’s tough at the moment. He needs to make the business more profitable. He said he was very sorry, but…
BARRY: But, what? He couldn’t afford me anymore? I was too old? What?
JACK (not looking up from his glass): Both. (downs his drink and looks embarrassed) And he thought a younger guy…
BARRY: OH! I get the picture! He thinks a newbie will come cheaper and even kiss his ass and lick his shoes in thanks for being underpaid and overworked.
BARRY (shouting): I WAS THE ONE who set up the Brazil business! I WAS THE ONE who negotiated with the Mexicans when they threatened to make the deal with ENOXX. Does he really believe that they would have been half so impressed if a newbie had stepped in?
JACK: No, Barry. Probably not, but… (looks at his watch) Damn! Listen, buddy! I’ve gotta go. I promised Jeanette to be home earlier tonight. Let us talk about this some more another time. Give my regards to Karen. And keep your chin up! Thanks for the drink. Bye, Barry!
BARRY: Bye, Jack!
(Barry keeps staring after Jack, then takes Jack’s glass and smashes it on the ground in frustration.)
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