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Marc Dion
Marc Dion
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The Tide Is Going Out


Used to be, the best things for a junky to shoplift were cigarettes and razor blades, both of which could be taken to the nearest bar and disposed of for quick cash. Meat stolen from a supermarket ran a close third.

That tradition is far from dead. A year ago, I was sitting in a quiet little tavern when a cadaverous man came in off the street and offered to sell a five-pound bag of frozen shrimp to anyone who would give him $10. The bartender threw him out before I could get the money out of my pocket.

Now, various news sources are saying that Tide, an iconic American laundry detergent, is becoming a target for thieves. Police say the thieves are selling the shoplifted detergent and using the money to buy drugs. This is probably true, since everyone who is stealing anything is using the money to buy drugs.

I have a history with Tide. My mother has used it all her life, and I used it until I got married. My wife prefers another brand.

But Tide, like Campbell's soup, Heinz Ketchup, Miracle Whip and a host of other brands, was kind of a symbol to my parents.

They were Depression kids, and once they'd crawled out of that hungry hell into white collar security, they did not buy "off brand" or "store brand" items.

I'm like that, too. I don't go to those stores where you have to bag your own groceries. I don't pump my own gas. I eat SpaghettiOs, not store brand "spaghetti rings."

And it's not like anyone cares what I do or what I buy. No one is looking at me in the grocery store and thinking: "Look at the rich guy. He's buying real Ritz Crackers."

Tide has become steal-able because it's getting more expensive.

That's no knock on the Tide people, either. It's their business — they can charge what they want.

But I worry about the brand names, and I see the spread of the store brands as one more wearisome indication that the middle class and the steady-as-a-rock working class are in trouble.

There have always been products and services aimed at the poor, and there will always be products for the rich because the rich have money.

But I don't want to live in a world that produces Dom Perignon and store brand spaghetti rings and nothing in between. I know what that world is like because I've read about that world. That world is called "1835," or "1546," or any other year when rich people drank precious wine while watching half-naked peasants fight over half-rotten potatoes.

I want to live in an America where guys with stable jobs can buy products that are advertised by cartoon characters, on television, during prime time.

That's my country. Marlboro cigarettes. Budweiser beer. Twinkies. The standardized, mass-produced, dependably mediocre name brand products sold to clowns like me who spend their lives writing checks to the electric company and trying not to slip into poverty.

And I'm watching that country vanish, gone like a shoplifted box of Tide sold to put more junk into somebody's arm.

And that's what happened. The rich guys shoplifted the whole country to stick more of that green money dope into their arms.

And you and I, we're buying the store brand and lucky to have it since the layoffs, since the pay cut, since the unpaid furlough, since some caviar-breathed bond trader tied off his arm and shot our pension fund money into his collapsing veins.

I hate the stinkin', cheap-ass, dirty, dollar-store country we're becoming. I hate every self-serve inch of it.

To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit



6 Comments | Post Comment
"I hate the stinkin', cheap-ass, dirty, dollar-store country we're becoming. I hate every self-serve inch of it."

Get in line behind your President, his wife, the democratic party, the Senate, Bill Maher, birth control junkies... you name it, we arrived at this moment because of that hate. Dion is late to the party, but it's been goin' on a long time. Hate is how we got here.

Comment: #1
Posted by: Tom
Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:13 AM
Tom, I've been noticing that you have a lot of replies to various commentators here, and that they all seem to relate the same catch phrases and such that I here from some of the more extreme conservative viewpoints. Can I ask you a question? What is wrong with being unhappy with seeing the world I knew as a kid dissappearing into a world where so many people have colored their picture with the paint of misinformation? I'm of the same generation as Marc here, and I'm not real pleased myself. When we were kids it was Superman standing heroically for "Truth, Justice and the American Way". Now we seem to have a movement trying to embody the selfishness of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. I read Atlas Shrugged in the 80's. I've also read 1984. And it seems to me that the more vocal part of the right is becoming more like the latter than the former. (plus, in Atlas Shrugged, the ones who considered themselves the "producers", the big brains behind everything, dropped out of site and left the US to start something new somewhere else, something the current crop seems to have missed.

I always tell folks to look things up for yourself and make your own mind.

Do you stand to gain anything if the right manages to get us to a place where we are driven by their policies? Are you one of the wealthy? Or are you just a working guy like a lot of us and are sick of having to work for diminishing wages and making the sacrifice so the top cats can siphon the worlds prosperity in to fewer and fewer hands. I'm not saying share the wealth, I believe in an honest dollar for an honest day's work. I believe in everyone's right to be successful. But if you intend to do it at the expense of MY back, I'm not going to be too happy if all you do is throw me the crumbs. To quote a movie I like, " I'm a Human Being, god damn it, my life has value!".

I don't believe in handouts or a welfare society, but it sure seems like there's a lot less honesty in the dollar given in exchange for my honest day's work.

Comment: #2
Posted by: WildBill
Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:55 AM

I am with you. But, if you stood up today and said you were all for "Truth, Justice, and the American way" who would make fun of you, Limbaugh or Maher? Which side treated Tim Tebow badly this year, and what has he done to hurt anybody?

I am also a contemporary of Dion's, and I'm sorry he hates America today, but in three weeks he will write a beautiful column, and I will swoon. He is the best writer on these pages, just not the best thinker. I draw a distinction there. The left hasn't been fond of America for nearly all of my life. I think Jack Kennedy thought America was wonderful, and Bill Clinton brought the party with him wherever he went in America,(God, I miss Bubba) but most of the left has never liked America. Tough. I stand by it, this country is way farther left than when I was ten, and if the left hates us today that's too bad because we are what they made us.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Tom
Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:40 AM
I don't think I've ever read a more poignant, eloquent expression of how deeply the rich, greedy, and powerful have hurt and corrupted this country and it's people. Even more repugnant, the very ones who stole this country's soul did it with the full blessing and support of the American people. The "Tom's" of this world will quickly point a finger at a liberal or progressive and shout "liar, liar" to the truth rather than face up or stand up to those who are really doing the lying, the cheating, and the stealing. The "Tom's" have the courage of their convictions to attack other dissenting "opinions", that's easy. But they lack the courage to make a difference. It's a game and it's fun for them. Those of us who woke up really early have always taken this stuff seriously. Especially those who travel out of the country and realize every time we return just how insulated and protected Americans are from the truth.
We lost jobs and friends because we wouldn't accept the lie that anything and everything was fine and it was ok to screw your fellow Americans to make a few extra $$ for the company or yourself. We were the ones you laughed at as you climbed your ladder to success. We were raised and raised our families to question everything and everyone when the trend was to raise children that didn't question authority. Now everyone is sad and angry because "authority" sold out America and those of us who questioned that authority were marginalized are not celebrating. Just wondering why it took so long and why so much had to be lost before people finally began to realize while they played by the "new rules" paid their bills, worked hard, feathered their nests, shopped till they dropped, their country was sold out from under them and for many, the only thing of value they have left is their family and friends.
Their self-respect and their dignity? Hopefully they'll get that back and begin to right the wrong that's been done.
Comment: #4
Posted by: demecra zydeem
Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:24 PM
Corperate greed would be much harder to do and get away with if so many politicians didn't play ball with the corperations. The government is picking the winners and losers in this market. They used to do it behind the scenes, but now they just do it out in the open. Everything from Haliburton giving the vile Dick Cheney a gazillion dollars, to Obama loaning green energy companies money, then contributing to him, then going belly up, its all eroding the principles that made this country so succesful in the first place. So don't you dare bring up the greed of the evil corperations without bringing up the greed of the evil government that facilitates it.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:26 AM
I myself am someone stuck in the middle, middle class, middle income, middle political view. I am so utterly disgusted with hearing liberal....conservative that I tune it all out at this point. I work VERY hard for my money as does my husband. We can rarely afford much extra and get plenty of those store brands ourselves to feed ourselves and our three children. My sister however who is beautiful, gifted, and very intelligent recieves over 700 dollars a month to feed herself, her husband, and her four children in government benefits. Two of these children were concieved after begging to recieve assistance for the first two. She attends many more girls nights and coffee runs than I do. Of course this is mainly because I am at work. Paying taxes. Her children have birthday parties with cakes (premade and iced decorated at your local Wal-Mart Food stamp approved!) ice cream and tons of soda. Actually they are never out of soda. Or steak. For our family of five, we budget, price compare, coupon and spend about 400 dollars a month. There are not a lot of sodas in this equasion. There has to be some change here. After school programs and dance classes. My sisters children get scholarships for these. My children will never know the joy because we always seem to make just a bit too much for these programs. I have always been rather liberal hearted, but the longer I work and struggle and see benefits collected fraudulantly and spent irresponsibly, the harder it is to say "yes here take this money I earned and give it to the less fortunate" This it the voting section that is alienated by both parties. I support taxing corporate America more and even the top one percent, however I believe soda, candy, etc. should not be covered by food stamps, these are extras or luxuries for most of the people footing the bill and should be so for those reaping the reward. I am very concerned about this countries future. But man, the last worry most of us have in this economic time is not wether or not we can afford the store brand, but if we will have enough to afford any brand.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Amanda
Fri Apr 6, 2012 2:25 PM
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