Just some random Tuesday afternoon thoughts on a central theme. . .
The real brilliance of the political game as played in these neoliberalized United States has been the way the winners, the ones who’ve amassed all that wealth and power, have been able to control the messaging, target the optics.
The winners are those who have demonstrably benefited most from the direction the game of politics has evolved.
The United States went from a nation in which the rich paid a big part of their income back to the institution nominally representing the interests of those who had produced and consumed the products that had so enriched them. Taxes also bankrolled the infrastructure required by wealth producers to generate their riches efficiently.
For corporations, things have usually been just peachy in the United States.
Railroad corporations were bankrolled by Native Americans through the military seizure of their ancestral lands.
Interstate highways are bankrolled in part through fuel taxes paid disproportionately by private motorists, while commercial truckers pay fuel and mileage taxes amounting to only a fraction of the damage their trucks cause to the freeways.
The list is endless.
Corporations dodge taxes through offshoring operations and nominal headquarters, lobbyist-written tax law changes, and a host of other tweaks and outright robberies, while governments give them ever larger slices of that which was once owned by all in common.
Corporations have offloaded pension obligations onto the backs of their employees, cut benefits, robotized and virtualized jobs into oblivion, while busting unions and levying endless threats to leave altogether unless yet further concessions are made [we watched Bayer do that here in Berkeley, threatening to move a high tech plant unless the city came up with more giveaways]. Much of the East Bay shoreline is now one big Enterprise Zone, an orchard of nice, ripe giveaway plums nt allowed to Mom and Pop operations.
Then there was public schools, colleges, and universities, once largely financed by governments for the benefit of student citizens and now bankrolled increasingly by those very students, with escape-proof loans for which they be paying financial predators for decades to come.
Ah, yes, liberal Berkeley. . .
The discourse used locally is much the same as employed nationally, the implicit assertion of corporate over human rights, a trend about to be launched on steroids if and when the two major transoceanic trade agreements are activated.
What is billed as the “ownership society” is anything but.
Or, perhaps, it really means what it really says: Every aspect of our lives is owned by a corporation, a parasitic metaorganism into which we are assimilated.
We don’t owned most of the music we hear, and unlike sheet music, records, and CDs, we can’t give it away. We don’t truly own cars and appliances: They contain or embody corporate intellectual property which cannot be severed from ultimate ownership by the corporations.
Dude, did you get owned!
We no longer buy things. We acquire only condition rights.
Oh, sure, we can still but some things. Our next to last toaster was a wonderful thing, until it wasn’t. When it abruptly stopped work, out came the toolbox. But on turning the toaster over in search of screws to open the case, all was hermetically sealed plastic. Any effort to fix it would’ve destroyed it.
No wonder, then, that trade agreements were spearheaded by corporations with the most tenuous of rights, with the leading exemplar being a certain big-eared rodent.
While all this has been going on, the media distract with the ornamental rages of the American two party system, a spat between competing parties of the wealthy, one willing to make minor social concessions, the other unwilling.
Step right up ladies and gentlemen!
To distract us from the reality, politics itself has become a reality show, one in which the camera’s focus and the microphone’s range are very narrow.
Want to cut spending schools? Make the discourse all about race, rather than addressing the very real needs of our children.
Want to concentrate wealth on the guns and butter side of the equation, from the local streets to nations halfway across the globe? Then whip up racial, ethnic, and religions antagonisms.
An ailing construction industry? How about wall in Mexico, a metaphorically and literally monument construction job! And then there was the truly Hitlerian American embassy compound in Baghdad, a project even Albert Speer would’ve envied. Arms manufacturers hungry for more moolah?
And, hey, why not turn life itself into intellectual property, property you can keep alive only by purchasing our other products. Why not be Roundup Ready?
Because, if those Evangelical Christian Republicans are right, we all need to be Roundup Ready.