Downton Abbey, Rich Selfish Stupid Fucks

South Palm Beach, Fl —We were walking along State Road A1A, talking, when we heard a noise best described as CRUNCH, and looked up to see an SUV had hit a bicyclist, knocking him to the ground, about 30 feet ahead.

The car pulled over, the bicyclist stood up, we saw the driver get out of the SUV. The shoulder of the road is slender there, and as we headed over we looked back to make sure we weren’t going to be hit by the next car. So we missed completely when the driver made the executive decision to get back in his gigantic car with which he had just hit a bicyclist, and take off.

The bicyclist had a rip in his shorts and was trying to get his bike working again, but something about it wasn’t quite right. He thanked us for coming over, said he was fine, just shaken. Literally while he was talking, the scraped bruise exposed by the rip in his shorts swelled and took on more colors. It was going to hurt terribly later, and the main reason it didn’t yet was that he was  too shaken to feel it. The main squeeze offered to call the cops, or someone, to stall him, but he insisted he was fine. Eventually he got his bicycle going and wobbled off.

We went ahead and took our walk on the beach, Manalapan beach, where mansions that look like hotels line the shore, and where one of the mansion-dwellers on the other side of the road is spending millions of dollars to build a tunnel from his mansion to the sand so he won’t have to cross the street, and I found myself thinking of Downton Abbey.

I was talking to a relative, with whom I grew up, so who not only shares but instilled some of my values, on the phone recently, when I said I had to go and watch the show, which we had just discovered we could watch Season One of, on Netflix.

You can’t do that, my relative said, more instructionaly than dictatorially, it was created/written by a “Tory Piece Of Shit,” she went on to explain.

I expressed that objection to the main squeeze, who asked if she would prefer a “Labor Party Piece of Shit, like Tony Blair,” and, in that negative way having settled the issue, we settled down to watch Downton Abbey.

Since I became unemployed, we longer have cable, which means no live tv at all here, so we have few outlets of entertainment. Season one is basically free via Netflix, although my relative pointed out that our selection is registered somewhere, adding support for this Tory-Piece-of-Shit, overated soap opera. And I did feel bad about that, as I agree, watching it was like voting for a Tory Piece of Shit.

But I really like the costumes. And I have wasted enough of my life watching soap operas that it seems unfair to myself somehow to stop now, when everyone is talking about this one. So we watched again, and again.

You can’t help but notice it’s Father Knows Best on a grand scale. With the funny little gimmick, also an axis of plots for Father Knows Best, that Father Fucks Up. Like when he fires the valet who was his comrade in arms in the Boer War, because he has a limp (which he got in the Boer War). And like Father Knows Best, these dunderheaded fuckups are resolved by Father’s wisdom, like when he snatches the valet’s suitcases off the carriage just as it’s going to take him away forever, reversing his heartless decision (which he held firm to while the valet begged for his job), telling him “we will say no more about it.”

You also can’t help but notice that because it’s on a grand scale, it’s not so funny when the lord of the manor realizes he fucked up by taking away a loyal employee’s livlihood without thinking it out. The employee, surely, is always going to know now that his life work is maintaining the constant comfort of a twit who doesn’t give enough of a shit about his welfare and his dignity to think things out before firing him.

But that’s not only entertainment, but history — and of course, also the way things happen now. So we keep watching. Then, the other night, the Lady of the manor finds out that some of the servants have used one of the mansions on the property to start a soup kitchen for poor hungry veterans straggling back from their service in World War I. She looks stern, after the servant heading the effort tells her we didn’t use food from the main house, or something like that, and then, surprise, she says, something like that will have to stop immediately — yes you can use food from the main house to feed these poor men. Well it shouldn’t be a surprise that she has a heart of gold, since she probably has a lot of stuff made of gold. But then she says she will help, points out that they can serve the men more efficiently, by using another table or something like that. So now it turns out that even though she can’t get dressed by herself, and has probably never so much as gotten a glass of water unassisted, she knows more than the servants on how to serve food efficiently. Good thing she came along. The stupid servants weren’t doing it right.

It’s hard to imagine that reflects history, but its easy to imagine that it reflects the Tory Piece of Shit leanings that I had been warned about. It is a philosophy seen here in what has become the raison d’etre for the Republican party: The Rich are Different from You and Me; They are better.

The premise that rich people are not only rich because they are better, but deserve to stay richer than the rest of us at all costs of fairness, opportunity and decency because they will do the right thing is the fiction on which trickle down economics was based, as well as regressive taxation. We need to support the rich people at our own expense, because they can be counted on to do the right thing.

Yet you see evidence to the contrary, that just like the rest of us, the rich act from self interest all the time. Duh. Except on a grander scale than the rest of us so it’s more damaging.

Which is why the SUV and the bicyclist made me think of Downton Abbey.

I don’t know that the SUV driver was rich — I have no reason to think so. The problem, like the problem with Downton Abbey is on a grander scale than that. The problem is that, for years bicyclists have tried to get the next round of necessary improvements to the coastal road to include a bicycle lane. The property owners along the way have fought this hard, with little logic. There is no logic that can be spoken frankly of their objections over safety: they don’t want people who aren’t in cars to have the run of their island. There is no other reason.

But the premise of their objection is that people will do the right thing — that drivers will stay in their lanes, and if they hit someone, they will stop and make it right.

It doesn’t work that way. Even the Tory Piece of Shit who made Downton Abbey, who made the lady of the manor suddenly better at running a soup kitchen than her servants, knows that, because without those silly little fuckups that people, rich and poor alike do, there wouldn’t be a story. And the more inured they are to the impact of their own fuckups, like the gazillionaire who is building a multi-million dollar tunnel just so he won’t have to cross the street, the likely they are to err on the side of selfishness.

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