"That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing." David Foster Wallace said those words in his commencement speech to Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio but he wasn't talking to the rats!
Lily Tomlin, best known for her appearances on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-Ins, is often credited with coining this phrase in an article for Life magazine, a little differently saying "the trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat." Others say it was Wiliam Sloane Coffin, a clergyman and activist, a few decades earlier that first turned the phrase. Regardless of who said it first the phrase holds more meaning today than when it first appeared.
Some aspiring revolutionary scrawled the words on white washed brick walls of some city, echoing a Banksy type sentiment. We aren't talking about cute little lab rats or friendly Muppets like Rizzo--we're talking about dirty sewer rats, city rats, plague rats that crawl over each others backs spreading filth and carrying smaller vermin under their fur. This is the rat race that the corporation fueled government that turns us into brainwashed, mindless rats that push each other down to get their slice of the cheese. Only the dirtiest, meanest rat can win that race. Get out of the maze if you can.