While I was working late yesterday afternoon, Georgia governor Brian Kemp–my Georgia, my governor–announced the state would be reopening some of its businesses on Friday. The list is almost comically random: fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, hair and nail salons, and massage therapy businesses. On Sunday, the biggest business in the south –church–will be open. Then on Monday, theaters, personal clubs, and restaurants will be allowed to reopen.
Kemp added that people are expected to maintain six-feet social distancing–I guess tattoos will now just involve throwing paint across a room or something.
Because he’s as sexy as a jar of rancid mayonnaise covered in dead fleas left rotting in the sun on a hot swampy August afternoon, it’s tempting to imagine the whole thing as a grand scheme on the governor’s part to open the massage shops so little baby Bri-Bri can go get a tuggy-wuggy. Probably while dressed in a full baby outfit, possibly including a diaper.
And it’s tempting to imagine him as stupid, to call him a dumb-dumb and sit smugly with my arms folded as I revel in my superior intellect. I, a mere citizen with only a liberal arts degree, am able to fully understand the complexities of this pandemic, while my governor, who has a sentient piece of processed yellow cheese in the space where his brain should be, is an absolute fucking moron.
But the truth is this is an act of deliberate cruelty on the governor’s part. He isn’t stupid. During his announcement, Kemp gave the game away when he mentioned the importance of “getting Georgians back to work.” In a letter to the editor in Atlanta online newspaper, Decaturish, a guy named George Chidi hit the manicured nail on the head:
Not banks. Not software firms. Not factories. Not schools.
It is no coincidence that the businesses on this list are staffed by relatively poor people. Because that’s who he wants off the unemployment rolls. And if they die … well, they’re mostly black people, or Asian, and poor, and an acceptable political loss for a Republican governor.
The purpose of this isn’t to open up these businesses. It’s to get the workers there off the dole. Work, and die. Or don’t work … but you’re on your own. Because we can’t raise taxes to cover the time you spent trying to save your life and the lives of the people around you.
That cruelty–work or die–has always been at the heart of unfettered free-market capitalism. You have no value as a citizen, only as a worker, only for whatever money you can produce for your employer. It’s worth noting that the people I see talking on my TV at these protests (extremely small–we’re talking a couple hundred in cities of millions) are all owners of businesses and/or real estate. Not a whole lot of bowling alley workers screaming for the chance to disinfect somebody’s shoes.
One day this virus is going to pass. And while there’s no knowing what this country is going to look like, democracy-wise, I hope people remember what the governor, and the people who run Georgia think of them. As expendable garbage whose only purpose on earth is to make them rich so they can grill and watch football–hopefully the kind of football where the players aren’t paid any money–in an ugly brick mcmansion next to chain restaurants that serve shitty microwaved food.
So if I head out to the grocery store Saturday morning for my once-a-week bandanna-mouthed journey into the heart-of-the-virus and see the aisles clogged with freshly haircutted dipshits (dudes, your hair was ALREADY, like, extremely short), I’m going to be pissed. And I’m going to stay pissed until I see there’s a shortage of size XXL coffins after all these public-gatherers kick it. I mean, the next time I see Brian Kemp’s name, I’d better see it next to an online invitation to “watch you’re governors funeral.” And before you trot our a false-equivalence along the lines of, well you don’t like him causing people to die and yet here YOU are hoping for his death you hypocrite, let me just say that I am simply joining Brian in his pro-death philosophy, that is to say, his own callousness regarding the deaths of others. The difference is that he wants to see others die so that he, and his campaign contributors, can make more money. I want to see him die so that others might live. He is happy to be the cause of that death. I am happy merely to be a spectator.
Anyway, I’ve had this song stuck in my head for the past 12 hours. And despite its Abba-tastic-ness, it’s given me one more reason to think Brian Kemp is a piggy-faced piece of stinking pigshit.
So you better go back to your bars, your temples
Your massage parlors…