Thursday, January 02, 2014

Missing the point

As I was thinking about blogging, the past year, and this one I realized that one of my least favorite pastimes had and has become both observing and commenting on the state of the Union here in the Land of the Big PX.

The simple reason is that what I see happening, and what I see and hear from all around me, are vastly different and cripplingly troublesome.

What I see as the single, comprehensive, massively important issue is the seemingly-inexorable slide towards the New Gilded Age.

This change affects everything in the United States - our politics, our economics, and our society - and in a way that as a member of the breaker-boy-and-match-girl segment of that society I find somewhere between appalling and revolting.

Somehow We, the People, seem to have lost sight of the fact that it is not in our best interests to vest an immense pile of wealth and, through that wealth, power, in a relatively small handful of people at the top of the demographic heap.

I don't see this as some sort of force of Nature or simple swing of the politico-economic pendulum. Instead I see it as a generations-long project driven by the greed and selfishness of the rentier-class at one end and propelled by the fuck-stupid ignorance and prejudices of the Duck Dynasty-class at the other.

The oligarchs are what they have always been; rapacious. In that rapacity they are also as they have predictably been; shortsighted. The lessons of 1789 and 1917 have largely faded far enough into the past for them to have forgotten why the Western democracies chose the welfare-state model in the first place.

While I don't particularly blame them for that I don't trust them, either.

Like British admirals, every generation or so they need a couple of heads on pikes to deliver the sharp encouragement to mind their civic manners and show some politesse to the proles. Instead they have been allowed to beaver away at the social contract here in the U.S. where it has become louche for even a Pope to remind these Mammon-fellating bastards that (if they are notionally Christian) by the very words of the text they profess to revere they can be rich, or Christian, but not both.

And the stupids are...well, stupid.

I can't exactly blame them for that, either, although it helps when the Stupid is directed towards despising the Idle Rich and their political lackeys rather than sucking up to them.

But the Teatards manage to be some sort of political Perfect Storm of Stupid; either too fatheaded to see ol' Sam Walton's kids waiting up there at the top of the chute with the humane killer, or too vitriolic in hating on the Niggers, the Queers, and the Lib'ruls to care, or both.

Between the two - the modern Bourbons at the top and the modern Australopithecenes at the bottom - we have managed to shove ourselves a hell of a long distance closer to the nasty conditions we last saw in 1929 than I would ever have thought possible.

And the third utterly rotten part of this is the degree to which our supposed press has managed to largely miss this entirely.

Instead - when we're not being simply fluffed with ridiculous nonsense - the news organizations have adopted the "both sides do it" nursery rhyme of "centerism" and the mindless stenography of reportage without ever managing to connect these dots of news into the larger point; our nation has become a vast Skinnerbox for maximizing wealth for the wealthy and power for the powerful to the detriment of everything else for everyone else.

Wonder why the U.S. can stumble about into foreign expeditions seemingly without any sort of strategic vision?

Wonder why the U.S. can gin up vast, unaccountable programs of foreign and domestic espionage?

Wonder why the U.S. can increase defense spending while cutting taxes, prosecute petty drug dealers with life sentences while letting wealth financiers walk for laundering millions in drug profits, fret endlessly about who puts what in whom, where, and how often while whistling unconcernedly past naked acts of crony capitalism, environmental despoilation, and violent "law-enforcement"?

Look no further than the old Latin tag: "qui bono?"; "who benefits?"

Or, rather, "Who is harmed?"

None of the problems you read in the news harm, or really even affect, the Truly Wealthy.

Their sons and daughters aren't dying - either of boredom or land mines - in Southwest Asia. Their mansions aren't soaked in spilled petroleum or mine tailings. They are not desperately looking for work after losing their job to offshoring, downsizing, or mechanization. Their doors are not knocked down at midnight, their cars not pulled over, their careers not destroyed by prison. They could care less about abortion - if they or their daughter needs one they can get one; safely and silently - or homos, or guns, or public prayer. Their wealth is not tied to their work, so the relative decline of wages, or of work itself, does not touch them.

They're doing juuuuust fine, thanks.

So, to me, all the random ranting about farkling about in Southwest Asia, or some homo marrying some other homo, or who can't buy that nifty rifle with the bayonet lug misses the point, too.

There is only one real story in the U.S. right now; will we be ruled by our own wealthy or will we rule ourselves?

And right now the answer doesn't look good to me, or to you, if you're not reading this on the computer inside your 6,000-square-foot palazzo.

So, frankly, I can't see any point in my throwing out more posts about politics, or economics, or how society in the U.S. is going to hell for the next year. We know why those things are happening to us, and it's not because of the blacks or the queers or the muslims.

And after that the only question left for me to ask is:

What are we doing about it?


Ael said...

Two basic options: Fight or flee.

If you flee, I suggest either Canada or Australia. They have their own problems, but the parliamentary system makes them a bit more responsive to the general public.

If you fight, you will have a tough road. It is no accident that the fundamental shape of America's institutions favors the rich. I suggest careful study of Occupy Wall St. (which demonstrated that you are not alone). Find a crack and agitate with others to make it bigger. A lot of the basic laws don't favor the Oligarchs (eg. one person, one vote). Their position is fundamentally unstable and it costs them time and energy to keep in dynamic equilibrium.

Syrbal/Labrys said...

There may be more to flee than plutocrats. But the hows and wheres of flight confound me these days.

Brian said...

Canada and Australia are headed down the same road, we just have further to fall. But we have the same sort of people in power, and they are likely to retain it - I'm not sure about Australia but in Canada people are withdrawing from politics, especially young ones.

Chief, I want you to know I check your blog every day or two (skipped a bit in the last two weeks because of my own holidays). I like your writing very much.

FDChief said...

Ael: I agree.

Right now I've chosen to fight, but to fight here, locally. Which is really a sort of coward's way out, since the upper left side of Oregon is more lefty than most places in the Northwest.

To my mind the real intractable issue is "campaign funding". So long as it costs the heavens and the Earth to get elected, and so long as those seeking office must go, cap (and bells) in hand to the wealthy to get that money to get elected the wealthy will always have a disproportionate influence on our nation's politics.

And how the hell do you "Reform" that system? Every one of the inside players has a stake in ensuring that it doesn't change.

Don Francisco said...

The rich don't care because they don't need the rest of the country. In times past they had to make concessions (ie trade unions) or (unbelievable as it sounds now) because they felt obliged to. Neither circumstance applies now.

My thoughts are either find somewhere where the ruling classes haven't rigged the entire system (good luck), or live somewhere & work in something they don't really care about.