In the two weeks since his song “Rich Men North of Richmond” went viral, Oliver Anthony has been dubbed “conservative hero‘, a right-wing villain who ‘knocks down‘ and in a bizarre way Wall Street Journal column, a “grumpy“Outliers in a genre “devoted to gratitude.”
The author, who describes himself as a “late country fan,” may never have heard the classic country music joke: “What do you get when you play country music backwards?” You get your house back, your car back, your wife back…”
Funnily enough, the media and political elite were shocked when Anthony ranted after Fox News ironically played his song to open the Republican debate to a group of people vying to become the ultimate rich (or at least powerful) To become a man north of Richmond.
“It’s annoying to see people on conservative news trying to identify with me like I’m one of them,” Anthony said The New York Times. “I see the right thing and try to characterize myself as one of yours. And I see that the left is trying to discredit me.”
Welcome, Oliver Anthony, in the face of the polarizing hostility, abuse and utter confusion experienced by whistleblowers across the country. However, he did not uncover any secrets hidden by the rich or profits he stole out of sheer greed.
On the contrary, in a case of reverse whistleblowing, Anthony spoke about actual American life to a select crowd who have no idea what it’s like to survive on the average American salary.
As someone who grew up as a latchkey on and under the Mason Dixon — raised by a single parent who once had to work four jobs — the song’s opening verse strikes me as truer than any pablo in a Harvard social thesis:
“I sold my soul and worked all day/
overtime for bullsh wage/
So I can sit out here and waste my life/
Go back home and drown out my worries.”
You’d think that in the decades since I was a child, things would have gotten better for America’s working class—the teachers, the cops, the firefighters, the miners. You are wrong.
On Wednesday, an Idaho teacher posting under the handle on TikTik @fouronacouch went viral after revealing her salary compared to her bills… showing that she ended up with a measly $25 left over each month. The teacher remarked, “I want to cry this month.” The nasty comments in the post, blaming her for lack of money, are deeply disturbing.
Or take Kentucky – the state where I graduated from high school (regarded as the third cheapest state in the Union), where the average salary is $51,500… which is one amount $43,313 after taxes. The cost of living In the state, the amount (per person) is $41,000. So if you’re single, that leaves a whopping $2,313 each year to gamble with.
Unless of course there is a car accident (average national car insurance deductible is $500), a medical emergency (average Deductible for state health insurance is $2,004) or something else that eats up the $192 that you could potentially be wasting every month.
And when you have a kid, you really suck. The cost of the increase A kid in the Bluegrass State costs $15,000. That means if you work for an average Kentucky salary, minus living expenses and child estimates, you’re left with it $12,687 in the hole.
To pay the rent and bills, most average people have more than one job. According to the US Census, the number of concurrent workers actually increased from 6.8% in the second quarter of 1996 to 7.8% in the first quarter of 2018. The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced this 8 million The Americans had “multiple jobs”.
The result? Many Americans — the vast majority who aren’t featured in newspapers, on websites, or on TV shows — race like gerbils on a bike week in and week out and are fortunate enough to have a day off to actually spend with the kids who they can’t afford. Yet soothsayers like Anthony or @fouronacouch are pilloried for simply proclaiming what the elites are trying so hard to deny.
Life is tough for most Americans—and it’s only gotten tougher. Shaming people like Anthony who sing about this reality only makes it worse. Politicians might try to adopt Anthony’s prose. But like an Orwellian version of the Three Wise Monkeys — in truth, they don’t see it, they don’t hear it, they don’t talk about it. You certainly don’t live it.