The Koch-linked National Federation of Independent Business was last mentioned on this blog a couple of years ago, when Joe Olivo, a businessman affiliated with the federation, curiously showed up on one news broadcast after another denouncing Obama administration policies without his federation affiliation (or other media appearances) ever being noted by his (apparently oblivious) interviewers. I don't have anything like that to report about the NFIB tonight. I just have this tweet to show you:
OK, first of all: a cassette? Seriously? In 2014? Was clip art of an 8-track tape not available?
And this is NFIB's idea of a pro-small-business mixtape? "Sixteen Tons"? You mean this "Sixteen Tons"?
While the song is usually attributed to Merle Travis, to whom it is credited on his 1946 recording, George S. Davis, a folk singer and songwriter who had been a Kentucky coal miner, claimed on a 1966 recording for Folkways Records to have written the song as "Nine-to-ten tons" in the 1930s. Davis' recording of his version of the song appears on the albums George Davis: When Kentucky Had No Union Men and Classic Mountain Songs from Smithsonian.And "I Wanna Be Sedated"? Seriously? Never mind the fact that it was written by Joey Ramone, the most overtly left-leaning of the Ramones ("Livin' on a Prayer" and "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" were written by liberal rockers, too) -- "I Wanna Be Sedated" is, well, about wanting to be sedated. This is what entrepreneurial lifestyle is all about, according to the NFIB?
According to Travis, the line from the chorus, "another day older and deeper in debt", was a phrase often used by his father, a coal miner himself. This and the line, "I owe my soul to the company store", is a reference to the truck system and to debt bondage. Under this scrip system, workers were not paid cash; rather they were paid with non-transferable credit vouchers which could be exchanged only for goods sold at the company store. This made it impossible for workers to store up cash savings. Workers also usually lived in company-owned dormitories or houses, the rent for which was automatically deducted from their pay. In the United States the truck system and associated debt bondage persisted until the strikes of the newly formed United Mine Workers and affiliated unions forced an end to such practices.
But the two most bizarre choices are on Side 2, back to back. "Brother Can You Spare a Dime" (not "Buddy") is about the utter failure of the capitalist system during the Depression; its words were written by E.Y. "Yip" Harburg, a now-deceased lyricist who's remembered on his official website, yipharburg.com, as "Broadway's social conscience":
Yip followed the dream of democratic socialism: He believed that all people should be guaranteed basic human rights, political equality, free education, economic opportunity and free health services. He spent most of his life fighting for these goals; his songs "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" and "Over the Rainbow" express these universal cries for hope in hard times to all peoples.And then "Tubthumping" -- um, that was by Chumbawamba, a self-described anarchist collective. Chumbawamba is no more, but the group left us with this message, written just after the death of Margaret Thatcher:
... Let's make it clear: This is a cause to celebrate, to party, to stamp the dirt down. Tomorrow we can carry on shouting and writing and working and singing and striking against the successive governments that have so clearly followed Thatcher's Slash & Burn policies, none more so than the present lot. But for now, we can have a drink and a dance and propose a toast to the demise of someone who blighted so many people's lives for so long.Wanna rethink that set list, NFIB?
If we must show a little reverence and decorum at this time, then so be it. Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of all Margaret Thatcher's victims.