They carry baggage. Other people’s.
Men and women as the physical beasts of burden of their brethren is slavery. The poor who lug the luggage of the well-off for a subsistence wage and walk and jog the poorly paved streets of New York these days carrying the human yoke of socio-economic class in their mortgaged rickshaws, just as those of the cities of joy always have, have always been called coolies by the imperials within and without.
Coolies are innumerable in number. The countless appearing to swarm the streets of the underworld, the third world, are the untouchables to the locusts that swarm the netherworld, the first world, of the global economy. Somewhere in the middle are the aspirants, forever on the slippery slope between the under and the nether. Between the top billion and the bottom billion, global income is normally distributed, statistically. The issue with the Bell curve is the Brownian motion of the world’s burgeoning middle classes who carry their own burden when they cannot afford a coolie.
Living standards have been rising, particularly since walls, separating the civilized from the barbarians, began to fall like dominos about 2 decades ago. Along with better living, uncertainty has risen. The uncertainty not of about living well or living better than thy neighbors, the Joneses, but uncertainty because of the anxiety of running hard to remain where they are.
The stability of the economic colloid of the America of the 1950s gradually began to breakdown because of the burden of the Cold War, like cheese made from lemon to curdle milk in the giant vats of Wisconsin. The congealed aggregates of people, deciles to some economists and quintiles to others, whether the number 10 or 5 is more liked for the purposes of the statistical scalpels on the surgical tables of econometricians, are floating around like icebergs in the north Atlantic.
Milk, once broken, is irreversible. The random movement of protein in water that renders real and appetizing homogeneity to the food of life cannot be put back together. Lemonade cannot be made out of lemons. Yet, this is the challenge of the times: to instill order into an economic system whose current chaos can be more calamitous than the usual state of affairs of how the world really works, entropy, in its natural tendentiousness toward ever more disorder. The milk must be reconstituted because the cheese stinks.
The return to the natural stability of lactic homogeneity takes work. It is not as simplistic as breaking up the cheese, lowering the temperature of the vats by slowing down the economy, and mixing it up with ladles until it once again appears to be milk. The eyes may be deceived but not the taste. The digestion could be worse. It takes real leadership.
Leaders carry baggage. Other peoples’. Until the people can carry their own. And there is a dearth of them.