Friday, February 4, 2011

smoking the big banana

every time we think it's the end of the world, the world just keeps on hoppin'...

i can hardly think of any single event during my lifetime that has upset the global order in any substantial way. for that matter, gradual, incremental changes, which have been more substantial, have still only chipped away at the margins of a system that seems determined to continue its march in one particular direction.

that inexorable march is in the direction of concentrating wealth and power into the hands of the few, and at the expense of the many. it's by far the dominant paradigm worldwide, and shows no sign of change to its essential trajectory.

in broad, historical terms, this is the story of the modern world, and began in earnest with the industrial age. the economics have morphed from an economy based on making things to one that primarily is involved in making deals, but through it all the object has remained constant.

the modern world, which in so many respects, began with the enlightenment and the age of reason, has taken enlightenment ideas and the reliance on scientific rather than superstition and perverted them to reinforce superstition and dogma in a way that distracts and dis-empowers the masses. they accept their subservient and position, and genuinely believe they have power through instruments like the contemporary tea party movement in the US -- becoming playthings of the oligarchy through its power over the news and entertainment industries to create a reality based on the art and science of propaganda and marketing.

in effect, reality has become a moving target. when we talk about things that are happening in the world, there can be no agreement because the baseline, shared experience that we call "reality" is freely manipulated and defined as suits the occasion and agenda of parties with a stake in the outcome. in effect, if corporations and wealthy interests want something from government, for example, they pay someone to create the appropriate facade which makes their object acceptable or even attractive -- even to people who will most grievously suffer consequences.

you will no doubt see the expression of this particular phenomenon this spring when the radioactive core of the US government begins to melt down, and congress takes up raising the "debt ceiling".

this is a continuing game of chicken between GOPpers and demoncrats -- both of which share credit for creating this monstrosity in the first place -- and becomes larded with significance since the government must increase its borrowing authority to fund its various profligacies.

what's wretched about this periodic display of self-flagellation is the implied assurance that no matter how much of a clusterfuck the US financial house of cards becomes, the debt ceiling will always be extended to the next level. this is one of the most effective mechanisms for the transfer of wealth from working people to the wealthy yet devised.

an alternate reality has been cultivated within the tea party cult, however, that finds the level of government spending and debt to be symptomatic of overreaching by the federal government, whose wings must be clipped, in effect. the supposed values of thrift and self-reliance have been drilled into these folks' heads until they have internalized them and created a world view based on undeserving minorities living lives of luxury on the public dime while they, themselves, struggle. it is, at it's heart, an appeal to racist sentiment, presented in patriotic and even religious terms.

the game of chicken is over whether the erstwhile defenders of the social safety net, itself a relic of the depression-era new deal, will buckle under pressure on both sides -- their opponents in the opposite party, as well as the wealthy interests upon whom their campaign finances rely -- and gut any government department or function that costs money that could be funneled instead to the oligarchy.

it's remarkable how the tea party and the voices on the right almost without exception never mention the monumental waste of the "defense" and national security budgets, or any government program -- agricultural subsidies for mega corporations, for example -- that pay huge dividends to monied interests. these are, arguably, some of the most wasteful and excessive items in the budget, but they are viewed as beyond discussion when it comes to trimming the so-called fat from the federal budget.

indeed, there's every indication that these sacrosanct programs, and the debt ceiling that enables them, will continue their rise to infinity, as it is most notable that among the most lucrative lines of business when it comes  to the government is service on the debt. the savvy investor has grown to love the T-bill as a rock-solid investment, and there's little doubt that the big wheels on wall street -- whose bail-outs are responsible for most of our current deficits -- are ready to gouge washington for ever greater, more obscene profits at taxpayer expense. indeed, these leeches are ready to kill the very source of their own bailouts, as long as they can take the money and run first...

as we celebrate the 100th birthday of ronald reagan, it is fitting and proper that we acknowledge that his election in 1980 essentially marked the beginning of the gradual dismantling of the new deal social compact, and the beginning of a new, toxic era of government of, by and for the few. cloaked in patriotic bunting and embodying the racist and xenophobic tendencies of lazy and ignorant working-class americans, corporations and the wealthy have gnawed away at the underpinnings of a society based on rule of law and the values of the enlightenment.

what we're left with is a world order teetering on the edge of collapse, as a corrupt ruling class has become blind to the wreckage that its greed has caused to civil society. when the debt ceiling shenanigans crash the bond market and the dollar crashes, the tea partiers' tri-cornered hats and the bluster and bravado of rush limbaugh and glenn beck will start looking pretty damn stupid.

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