MONDAY, 7/2/12, Issue 49
Roxana: I have near-shored this letter-writing operation to Roxana, a woman in Macclenny. I pay her to write these letters to the T-U editor for me. You don’t mind, do you, Mr. T-U editor? A late-middle-aged high-school drop-out, Roxana’s rode-hard-and-put-up-wet, which is to say, she’s been around the block a few times. Her mix of malice, condescension, censoriousness, complacency, carelessness with facts, willful ignorance, sweeping generality, and moral callousness is just right. These letters she ghost-writes fit in perfectly with some of the crankiest items you print. I’m lucky to have found her. Good help is hard to find.
About near-shoring, I was way ahead of it. Others are just now catching on. The New York Times (07/02/2012) reports that Wall Street firms are near-shoring middle-level jobs to places like Jacksonville:
New York’s biggest investment houses are shifting jobs out of the area and expanding in cheaper locales in the United States, threatening the vast middle tier of positions that form the backbone of employment on Wall Street. . . . [S]ervices like accounting, trading and legal support, and human resources and compliance are being shifted to places like Salt Lake City, North Carolina, and Jacksonville, Florida . . . . Since the end of 2009, Deutsche Bank’s work force in the New York area has fallen to 6,900 from 7,400 even as its staff in Jacksonville rose to 1,000 from 600. . . . Deutsche Bank’s office in Jacksonville started out in 2008 as a back-office service center, according to bank officials. Since then, technology workers, legal and compliance staff members, and trading support jobs have been added. More recently, some traders who deal directly with clients are being located there. Lower costs and taxes are behind the moves, the officials said.
Read more here: Financial Giants Are Moving Jobs Off Wall Street
Well, once again I have found myself ahead of a trend. Near-shoring is nothing new to me. I thought of it before Deutsche Bank did. I went through a phase of off-shoring before discovering near-shoring.
I started with off-shoring. A lot of time can be saved by farming out to someone else the technicalities of writing the letter. Why should I opine when I can pay someone to do it for me? It’s not hard to find a tech writer in a relatively poor English-speaking country. They’re easy to locate through the Internet. And people in India, Ireland, Jamaica, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe are willing to work for dirt cheap. I used people in all of these countries. I’d give him or her an idea, and I’d send a link to Michael Savage’s radio program so they’d get a sense of speech rhythms and vocabulary I wanted. Then the person would do the heavy lifting of fleshing out my idea into words.
I mainly tried off-shoring to India. But there were problems. For one thing, the Indians use British idioms and diction. For another, these writers didn’t know our culture, so they could never get the tone right. If the letter was supposed to address the Jacksonville city council raising mileage rates, they could never stay on topic, but veered off into either a rant or a paean about the current prime minister, Manmohan Singh. It was frustrating.
Politics wasn’t the only problem. There was also religion. He or she couldn’t help sneaking in a reflection of personal bias. A Hindu writer would reference the 2008 Mumbai attacks. A Muslim would fleetingly mention the ghettoisation of Indian Muslims. And then there was the time I wanted a letter addressing the blasphemy inherent in the ‘God particle’: the Muslim writer took the matter so seriously he organized a Jihad, vowing to smash the Higgs boson particle himself. It was hopeless.
These writers understood the concept of vitriol well enough, but they could never nail down the nuances of Tea-Party rage. I needed a domestic source. So I put an ad on Craigslist. I needed an American with a remarkably limited information diet, and I found Roxana, the woman in Macclenny.
White, in her late 40s, stout, uneducated, a smoker, living in the sticks, never been out of Florida, no curiosity whatsoever, Roxana was perfect! I’m not sure she’s ever even been to Jacksonville. Back in the day she resembled Daisy Mae Yokum: beautiful and hopelessly in love with Macclenny’s most prominent resident. These days she done lapped, as in “Damn! Look at that girl: her stomach done lapped over her waste line.” Fortunately, she done lapped only once.
Social Darwinist and laissez-faire to the core, she sports a rebel flag on her bumper and votes a straight NRA ticket. She’s nostalgic for the past, which she assumes was idyllic. She doesn’t think about what the future might be like: there’s not one atom of foresight in her. Best of all, she can’t see past her own nose—a veritable cyclops. Because she’s borderline illiterate, I have to clean up the spelling and syntax to make the letters intelligible.
Roxana works for a quarter of what I’d have to pay a Jacksonvillian. She has that unique quality of not having the slightest clue how anyone else thinks. She not only doesn’t care what other people think, she assumes all normal people must think the way she does. That someone would think differently is beyond her imagination. To disagree with her means you must be crazy. If she hears a contrary view, she hyperventilates.
Here’s how our arrangement works. I email Roxana the theme for the day and the points I want her to cover. Within hours she returns a draft. Night and day she keeps the cable commentators and hot-talk radio jocks blaring so that she can absorb their ideas and speech rhythms. Often her work arrives good-to-go. When she’s spot on, the pieces present an alternative universe, one in which neither the lessons of history nor the laws of arithmetic, nor the rule of law, nor even the laws of physics, apply. At her best, she does what the liberal maggots have always done: she presents her view of the ways things should be and then claims it’s already mandated in the U.S. Constitution. School prayer, water boarding, charter schools, corporations as persons, ‘show-me-your-papers,’ insurance rescissions, solitary for tweens, life sentences for juveniles—according to her, the Constitution allows it all. It’s stunning. Her best letters are downright delusional..
Other times I need to tweak the letter by amplifying (or moderating) the venom, depending on the topic and the level of invective I’m aiming for. Almost always I need to switch on the spell and grammar check. And I rework it and rework it until I’ve crafted it to convey the exact mood and tone I want: a letter to the editor from an ill-informed, simpleminded, and opinionated loudmouth. If a little extra punch is needed, I turn to my toolbox of rhetorical fallacies. Some of these are my favorites—the most powerful instruments of persuasion there are in today’s political discouse:
- ad hominem attack
- straw man
- guilt by association
- “any stick to beat the dog”
- post hoc ergo propter hoc
- non sequitur
- veiled threat
- begging the question
- hasty generalization
and so forth. “Any stick to beat the dog” comes up a lot in my letters. Have you noticed? I always use “any stick to beat the dog” when Obama is the subject.
And then there is my favorite rhetorical fallacy, the False Dilemma, or “Faulty Either/Or.” It goes like this: “Either we do things my way, or we’ll all face utter and complete destruction.” It’s kind of like blackmail. It’s remarkably effective, an “extra push over the cliff.” It’s similar to having eleven instead of ten as the top notch on a volume dial, as depicted in the film Spinal Tap.
On special occasions, I allude ever so gently to the prospect that the United States should commit mass genocide by using nuclear weapons to wipe out a people we don’t like. The only drawback with this suggestion is that it becomes easy to overuse. I don’t like resorting to it too often, as a few of the other T-U letter writers tend to do. If I did, it might become predictable and tiresome. Something like—‘There he goes again, saying let’s kill every last one of them. Same thing he said in his last letter.’ So I save it for the special cases. Like for the Iranians. And the liberals.
So, there you have it. That’s how it works. I tell Roxana what I want her to write, and she writes it. Pretty often she comes up with a perfect gem, something so mean-spirited and narrow-minded it’d make Timothy McVeigh blush. In that case, I just give the piece a quick (but usually, not so quick) proofread, sign it, and send it off to you. Then, in a few days, you publish it on the Letters from Readers page, where it blends in with the other ones of its kind.
Now, guess which one of us wrote most of this letter? I betcha can’t guess. Wanna hint?
I’ve had some other clever ideas besides near-shoring. Perhaps someone high-up at Deutsche Bank should contact me. We could meet for lunch.
Sincerely, Lemule Blogiver
GIT YOU’RE ASS OUTA HEAR, LEM BLOGIVER, OR I’LL KICK IT DOWN THE STREET LIKE A BEER BOTTEL. I WRIT THIS HEAR LETTR, SO I’M CLAIMIN’ THE CREDIT. NOW YOU JUS GIT!
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