The Odyssey 2018: Generosity in the age of Trump

January 2, 2018

generosity in the age of trump

I’ve been reading a new translation by Emily Wilson of the Odyssey  —language straightforward, down to earth despite the ever- presence of Zeus, Athena and Poseidon et. al. Not to mention Olympus or Mar a Lago. I’m enjoying it and am reminded once again how much things change yet remain the same.

In fact I found in that 3000 year-old tale in a few lines about midway through the rationale for the smug cruelties of congressional Republicans (the governmental arm of the unconscionable rich) and the far right in general. We may have come far in many ways but in matters of who gets what of all there is Republicans can claim a long, classic tradition.

At one point in the Odyssey King Alcinous offers the wandering Odysseus hospitality with a bon voyage accompanied by many gifts. The gifts came from Alcinous himself and other of the rich elites in Alcinous’ kingdom. In his appeal to the others to give generously Alcinous says:

“Our guest has clothes packed up inside a trunk.,
and other gifts that we have given him.
Each of us now should add a mighty tripod
and cauldron.
……………………… I WILL MAKE THE PEOPLE PAY
A LEVY, SO THAT NONE OF US WILL SUFFER
FROM UNREWARDED GENEROSITY.”

Right there, from 3000 years in the past, echoing through the ages, you have the engine that has driven the earth’s millennia of poverty. It has also given us the just-signed Republican “tax reform” bill which has showered even more riches upon the rich and will be paid for by the people by means of a “levy so that none of (the rich) will suffer from unrewarded generosity.”

To wit: cuts to Medicare, SS, health care coverage, public education and on and on and on…

Jim Culleny
1/2/18

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