by Jack Ballinger
October 25, 2003
Paul Krugman wrote a piece about a week ago that still haunts me. If Mr. Krugman’s worst case is right America may soon become a place where, for the first time in decades, our corporations will recruit at home instead of abroad. Why?
Because social programs, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and various health and safety enterprises will cease to exist.
Unions, already suffering, will be brought to their death by Administration policies, “sexed up” Homeland Security needs and a Justice Department gone wild with a kill-the-unions policy. Already, hundreds-of-thousands of union members have lost their representation, due to "Security concerns", according to the Bush administration. Suddenly, and with no negotiation, people who had been represented by a union for decades were told they were now so crucial in our need for homeland security that they could no longer expect any of the employment protections that the government had granted to them in their union’s negotiations. They could be transferred, demoted and/or terminated based on the whims of the administrations political appointees.
Unemployment and the loss of economic security caused by crooked corporate executives (still running free) have caused widespread financial woes to those poor and middle-class families who now face an economy that has fallen to the point that many comparisons to the Great Depression can be made. The consequences of the decline in our economic health in just the three years of the Bush administration should cause much anxiety.
Mortgages will be impossible to pay, causing widespread foreclosures.
The Fed treasury is already further in debt than ever in our history, and Republicans (ala Texas) are locking up every office from President to local meter reader. In almost every election the Republican is running on a “cut taxes” platform that will eventually leave any but the very wealthy in a free-fire zone of economic doom. Every family will be affected. When relatives, friends and neighbors falter, and there are no longer any funds for today’s few remaining social safety nets, those that have anything left will face a Hobson’s choice. Do you horde what little you have so as to insure a little more secure future for your immediate family, while watching those you love sink, or do you help them out at the expense of your immediate family.
Remember, with the wealthy no longer paying a fair share into the Federal, State and municipality coffers, there can be no governmental intervention.
Public Education will cease to exist, as we know it. In its place will be a two [or more] tiered system in which a "full" education will be offered at pay-as-you-go private schools while public schools will become corporate sponsored enclaves. McDonalds sponsored PS!! will teach basics, as well as courses in cooking fries, flipping burgers and pressing register keys covered with pictures of the various food selections.
Similar schools will have courses linked to training a cadre of functioning illiterate, or barely literate, employees who will excel at repetitive assembly-line tasks, cleaning house experts, military recruits with 12 years of learning to follow orders and wage war, and a plethora of other menial tasks.
Those lucky enough to afford the expensive private schools will be grateful that the lower class has earned their degrees in servicing the wealthy.
Is this all a conspiracy? It surely is!
However, I don’t believe it is a conspiracy wherein a small group of like-minded individuals lay out a detailed plan. There is no Snidely Whiplash staring down from a huge mansion stroking his mustache while chuckling at the suffering of the minions below.
It's a conspiracy of greed that, as with physical evolution, just slowly changes everything at a rate in which each generation hardly notices the small, but extremely important and all invasive, changes. Corporate greed, teamed with political ambition, has taken over our government. The need to raise campaign funds have taken the importance of pleasing the voters to stay in office and turned it on its head. "Pleasing" your constituency in an era wherein you can't get elected without wheelbarrows full of advertising money become more of a job of pleasing those constituents who can fill that wheelbarrow.
The only reason it is being noticed now is, as with certain steps in some species evolutionary chain, an aberration has made the slow evolution take a leap that would normally have taken many generations to effect. In science, such a leap is usually labeled a mutation.
That mutation in this conspiracy of greed occurred when the Republican Party, due in part to one of the smartest and dumbest President's the US has ever had, took control of both Houses of Congress AND the Supreme Court. That led to a bloodless coup in which the guy with the fewer votes took control of our executive branch.
That left one party totally in control of every government function, from war to inoculations, from legislation to incarceration, from generating laws, enforcing laws through deciding if such laws and arrests were Constitutional.
Suddenly, the slow moving tugboat charged with towing the fragile cargo that is socio-political change in America through the rough waters of change was replaced by a vast fleet of those sleek cigarette racing boats like the one piloted often by the first Pres Bush. Change is being recklessly dragged through white-water rapids that could well cause a major upset.
As the checks and balances envisioned by those famous founding fathers were not operative any longer, there was only one entity left that could slow the flotilla from taking our speeding evolutionary mutation into waters where it was bound to break up and become a disaster just on the rocks. The media.
But the media had undergone a mutation of its own. Through consolidation, or what some would categorize as media monopolization, the corporate media became a vanity press, limited to the thoughts of a handful of modern day media barons.
Instead of utilizing the antagonistic attitude towards power that had been a cornerstone of the best of US media, the modern day media became greedy for power itself. It became the propaganda center for far right candidates and commentators.
Using hate speech and barely hidden code words, it helped release the ugliest, most base attitudes of the American people. It stoked minor embers of hatred by using fear, ignorance and retribution ("any 9/11 insert goes here", as Bush's speech texts’ must read) as the fuel. Rupert Murdoch invested in money-losing tabloids and a new News cable station. He ran hate-filled headlines and stories in his newspapers, and seemed to have a dual roster of political talking heads to act as either guests or hosts on his various TV shows.
One roster consists of the foaming mouth Ann Coulter type of usual rah-rah, my God’s bigger than yours, kill the Arabs, and the "I was too busy to serve in the 60'-70's army, but I can sure order the troops around now" crowd.
The other list is of Republicans who either work under cover as Democrats [all the way up to a few Dem Pres candidates] or really believe that they're Democrats, despite the fact that they back almost everything this far-right Republican government has done and plans on doing. These pseudo Democrats are used on FOX News and in other Murdoch media to provide the "other side" for the "Fair and Balanced" network.
This "other side" crap usually consists of testosterone testing. The Republican making fun of his "girly boy" opposite, when it's a male playing the Democrat role in a FOX face-off, or gives a snide remark that insinuates that the female masquerading as a Democrat is a bit too butch to play the part of a woman, as if preferred sexuality has become the scientific criteria for separation of the sexes. There’s a bunch of people who gladly play a hapless Democrat on FOX, and I always believed it was some minor category of lower-level humans who either loved being humiliated or were just so enamored of having their mug on TV that they’d register Democrat just to be beaten on camera, as long as they could tape their appearance and watch the humiliation over and over on their TV at home. Now, though, I see some long-term Democrats willingly accepting heaps of scorn from their far-right brethren. And, even outside of the range of cameras, these long-in-the-tooth Democrats just keep taking a beating while muttering Republican platitudes on Sunday morning political interview shows. They seem to believe that if they were to loudly support true Democratic principles, they could get their air time cut and election chances lessened.
Of course, they know that Phil Donahue had the best ratings MSNBC has ever had in his time slot, but he got canned when an MSNBC big wrote a memo complaining about having an “anti-war” voice on their station. So these Democrats do know that speaking like a Democrat in an age of corporate media might be like talking to yourself.
Having the media in the far right's pocket allows them to do things even they thought would take many generations before the American public could swallow. The forth-estate allows Republican cover, by providing misleading (read: Lies) info to influence a gullible public. It is not coincidental that last week a survey showed that FOX viewers are by far those most likely to believe the lies about Iraq that those having contact with other, independent media have long known to be US propaganda. More than 60% of FOX viewers still think we either found WMD in Iraq or that we've already removed a load of it.
Regulatory agencies aren't just suffering through the equivalent of chemical neutering; they are facing a Congressional castration. Some may face the political death penalty, as Republicans begin to openly question the usefulness of Education, Health and Environmental guardians.
On the employment front, America is also mutating.
We're told that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This theory can be useful when watching today's politics. For example, we know that on the Liberal side, many say we should force countries that want to trade with the US to treat their workers in as fair of a manner as their peers in America are treated.
Not that a worker in China needs to receive the same salary as his/her American counterpart, but that an assembly-line worker at a Chinese automobile manufacturing plant should receive a salary that allows him to have the opportunity to buy such an auto, as his peers in America.
If, instead, the Chinese use wages so low that the worker can never reach that middle-class level, America should not subsidize such wage-slavery by allowing China to sell that auto here in America.
The corporate-political side uses these same facts about wage disparity, and also wants it brought into line, but views the solution a bit differently.
By allowing the Chinese to sell cars made by employees on slave wages we make it impossible for American car manufacturers to compete. So they seek a solution that insures corporate profits increase, with none going towards social improvement.
One solution they are utilizing is to move their plants to a country where starving workers are easy to come by.
The other, once thought to be very "long term" solution is to agree with the Liberal argument that workers in America shouldn't be made to compete with employees in backward countries where they serve as parasitic hosts to their governments and wealthy countrymen.
These Conservative/Corporate politicians know that by decimation our governmental Agency regulations, razing social programs and causing the country to owe so much in a deficit spending economy, our corporations can find a low-paid, illiterate workforce right here.
We already have a "Jobless Recovery." Next up, a Depression in which Wall Street is not affected, only the work force suffers this new hardship.
These changes in the “American Way” aren’t all large and startling. That wouldn’t work well. Much of the alterations to the fabric that made our country great will be subtle ones. The changes will, for the most part, sneak up on us.
One day, you’ll wake up and everything will have changed.
The incredible thing is, if those making the changes have done their jobs well, you won’t even notice.
It's all part of the plan!
Jack Ballinger is a Vietnam Veteran, with a Bronze Star, 2 Air Medals, a Combat Infantryman’s Badge (CIB) and a bunch of other pretty military ribbons. “I was Honorably Discharged in 1971. Both of my grandfathers fought in WWI, and both my father and my father-in-law were Marines in WWII.” He can be contacted at: NYCHASpotlight@netscape.net