Not many people in that single percent at the top who own almost everything have had to bite the bullet, literally, and pull out a jaw tooth with a pair of pliers because they didn't have the money to go to a dentist. Maybe none of them have ever had to consider doing such a thing. The back tooth at the top on the right side was intact enough for the pliers to clamp down, although it had broken twice in a month and the exposed surface had rapidly dwindled during that time. Every time it was jarred for any reason a mind altering, sharp explosion of pain caused me to gasp and clench my eyes and fists shut. During the worst part of the initial economic crisis of 2009 I lost my job and had no income whatsoever. On top of that I was in a part of the United States where the concept of a charity hospital was alien and unexplored, and even in Baton Rouge, where there is a charity hospital, getting a spot of dental work has been described to me as nearly impossible.
So there I was with a broken tooth in the back of my mouth, at the top, that made eating akin to torture. Drinking water a slightly different temperature than my mouth could set off shock inducing waves of agony. I forgot and drank something cold and screamed for a couple of minutes, but I only did that once. I made the decision to take the matter into my own hands for fear of losing my mind.
I gripped my only pair of pliers and attempted to squeeze the engagement jaws on the tooth. That firm pressure caused waves of light to radiate in my eyes themselves, with or without my eyes closed, and dragged a low moan from my throat. I took a large mouthful of whiskey and held it, which burned and had it's own pain signature, but which was unquestionably necessary. The second and third attempts fared no better. I did not have the cold blooded tenacity to move the tooth, until I decided the whiskey was my savior and finished off a pint as though it were a shot. One minute and a half later I grabbed the tooth between the jaws of the pliers and wrestled with it, though I squealed, my features contorted and my awareness was consumed entirely by consideration of the tooth and the tool.
I managed to tear that tooth out of my mouth before my motor functions degenerated beyond functionality. The bleeding was significant but nothing like I thought it would be. I immediately felt relief from the nerve that had taken control of my life for over ten days. Fearing a dry socket I jabbed an Exacto knife a short way into the gums surrounding the prior location of the tooth, but as soon as I struck the devil nerve that still sent out signals from that location I desisted. I packed it with a couple of cotton balls soaked in whiskey, thankful to God there had been money enough to purchase the alcohol.
The ordeal ended that night. The next day I was able to eat cautiously and within a couple of days the socket had healed. There's still nothing in that spot far in the back of my mouth. I never forgot about that. I had never wished for the money to see a dentist so hard in my life. In the end, thanks to economic realities, I was forced to handle it myself, with what I had at my disposal.
I wonder how Meg Whitman would fare in such a situation. The top executives at Morgan Stanley might pay to see someone stuck in such a predicament. The nation's most successful investment bankers make it no secret that they have the killer instinct when it comes to human interaction. Many of them would toss a young man or woman to the wolves in a heartbeat, literally, to be torn to shreds by teeth and claws, and in the past would have had no qualms about standing up for that ideology. Many have spoken of being ruthless with pride, although at this stage in American history even the most dilettante veteran of hostile takeovers and obscene derivative profit taking might defer such pronouncements, and the savvy would definitely demure for the time being. Such discussion could prolong the little commotion called Occupy Wall Street.
I have complete awareness and understanding of the alpha male, warrior businessperson mentality, the outlook that deems climbing over the bodies of broken competitors the mark of a great person, a success story. Of course my "complete awareness and understanding" comes only from what I've read in books and is really laughable considering my background. I have a familiarity with the way some business philosophy has been described, would be a better way to put it. The entire myth was created to lead such people down a path littered with material reward, but mostly to make the authors of such philosophies a small heap of their own money. Nevertheless, the philosophy exists and the path is real. That path is not something I know about, nor would I want to.
I am thankful that compassion makes up a large share of my character. I would not wish the pains I have felt on the greediest, most corrupt men, and women, in this nation. They don't deserve the wisdom I have gleaned from my experiences. That tooth ache was nothing compared to the pain so many have felt when they lost everything because of the corrupt practices of those "warrior businesspeople." My pain was caused by nature, but every day during economic crises somebody loses everything they have worked for their entire lives. That pain builds from and on deep emptiness, from complete lack, from a vacuum of capital ability. That pain is deep and wide and the men and few women who value financial success and the accompanying power of it are responsible in a huge number of cases. Those responsible parties in such cases can be like participants in an economic genocide, and that philosophy is built on reasoning very closely akin to the war crimes of ethnic cleansing: The strong should thrive and eliminate the weak, the loathsome, who are merely objects on the path to the glory of the chosen few.
Philosophies touting social natural selection can be very serious, very dark and disturbing, just like all the indicators of our day and age that point to the chances the masses have of ever getting ahead. Many of us are the victims of class destruction. In the long run the reduction of oneself to just being a part of nearly everyone actually hinders empowerment, one might think.
[The errors were particularly painful. Failed to proof first]
Almost permanently deleted this... have a blinding migraine.