Saturday, October 4, 2008

The American Public

I have for a long time had a theory about the role of media in the way the worst kind of capitalism works – all capitalism not being by any means bad. I'm not an economist, nor a political scientist, nor a sociologist, but I have my own little theories. jdid says I overestimate the intelligence of the American public. I've known the American public since I went to college in the US, at age seventeen, and I respectfully submit that the Democratic Party would not have a black man named Barack Obama running for president in the upcoming US election if the American public of now, this day and time in October 2008, were stupid people. I've already written about this. As I’ve said, I never thought I would live to see a black person as a viable candidate for president of the US. That it has happened in my lifetime says a lot of very positive things about our neighbours to the south and I rejoice in that. But being a victim of Bad Capitalism can leave a person open to manipulation. Here’s how it works. Bad Capitalism is rapacious. It has no conscience and its greed is limitless. Bad Capitalism wants to control not just the economy, but also the political system, the educational and health care systems, the transport system, the media, the entertainment systems, and so on, and so on. Once it controls all those systems, it ensures that they work together to achieve one purpose: making Bad Capitalists richer and more powerful. The Bad Capitalist system makes everything really hard for all but the privileged few: hard for a person to get a good education unless they have parents who can afford private schools or afford to live in areas where there are good public schools, so many middle and lower income folk have to make do with schools that aren't so good, and getting from those to college or university isn’t easy. It’s hard to find a job anyhow, and a not-so-well-qualified person must fight to get one, and must often work two or three jobs to make ends meet. The two- or three-job person gets caught up in a daily grind where work dominates and takes up all their time, and stress affects their health. Because this person is working so many hours, it’s hard to find time to spend with family, much less find time for reading books and newspapers to keep abreast with what is going on. Now, here's where some of the Bad Capitalist owned media come in on behalf of the greedy Bad Capitalists: they offer the public, not serious analysis and solid facts, but sound bits-and-bites and biased packaging of information. (jdid, you are absolutely right in this regard.) Television becomes a place where an exhausted person can sit and be diverted – by almost any foolishness. (I'm telling you. I know. I've been diverted in this way more hours than I care to count, especially if I'm depressed and frightened about how to meet the next month's mortgage payment.) And there is mostly foolishness on the Boob Tube. So the tired overworked person ends up picking up information where and when he can, and doing the best with it that he can, with two consequences. (1) He or she can end up reading and trusting only some kinds of programs, newspapers and magazines, and end up under-informed or misinformed. (For example, there’s an article on John McCain in Rolling Stone by Tim Dickinson (online, posted October 19th) that’s worth reading, whatever your politics. But it’s long, and though it’s well worth reading, many people will just not stick it out.) (2) People can end up thinking that such a person is stupid, because they are pressed and stressed by a difficult life. The amazing thing is, this overworked average Joe or Jemima in America really has not been fooled in recent elections. Let’s ignore for a moment that George Bush may well not have been elected President in either of the last two elections. (Lots of evidence for this, for anyone who is interested.) But if one takes the number of voters who voted for George W. Bush in 2004 and calculates it as a percentage of voters eligible to vote (estimates say between 55 and 60% of voters actually did vote in the 2004 election) then President Bush was most certainly NOT elected by the majority of the American people. Gallup polls distinguish between eligible voters and likely voters in their polls. Give thanks, that never mind things are so hard for so many people, never mind that their lives may be squeezed into very narrow spaces, they manage to find the truth. which means, for me, that the Spirit is alive and well and blows where it wishes. I have one plea this fall. Say your prayers, if you pray, fast if you fast, and for the sake of God and good citizenship – be a likely voter! Go out and vote. Once more, your life may depend on it… Selah!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lying politicians, and elections...

An update... I'm behind on responses to the folk who've dropped by to visit here and who've said things to me in conversations elsewhere, and I apologize. I've been snagged by that nemesis of those of us who are keyboard-bound, stalled in tunnels of the carpel kind, so both hands are now in splints. At a terrible time too: the goings on in the world are shrieking for comment. Unbridled capitalism has finally had its comeuppance, throwing the US into chaos and crashing stock markets... Don't get me wrong. I'm not crowing. Too many ordinary folks are in real trouble, not just in the USA, but here in Canada, and no doubt elsewhere as well. As usual, the people who can least afford it are hurting while the chaps on Wall Street who caused the trouble will walk away unscathed. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the rest will be bailed out (however that is arranged) by monies that come , one way or the other, from the taxpayer's pocket. Comments on two matters, for now. First! When it was reported that mortgage giant Freddie Mac had paid an advocacy group run by Rick Davis, John McCain's campaign manager, $30,000 a month until the end of 2005, the McCain campaign denied that Davis still had ties to Freddie Mac. Davis himself told reporters that "it's been over three years since ... I had any contact with those folks." Newsweek's Mike Isikoff reports, however, that Freddie Mac paid Rick Davis's consulting and lobbying firm a consulting fee of $15,000 a month starting in 2005 and ending only last month, when the U.S. government acquired the firm. This is scandalous, and makes liars of the two Republican candidates, a big part of whose platform is that they are against those nasty lobbyists. Fact checkers (found easily online) report that Sarah Palin, the Republican candidate for Vice-President, has used lobbyists as well. We all make fun of politicians – the only people who tell bigger lies than statisticians – but this barefaced lying is an insult to the intelligence of the American people and they should not put up with it. (Bible believers should also remember who Jesus ran out of his Father's temple – the moneylenders!) Second. Anyone who is thinking of voting for Stephen Harper in Canada's coming election ought to bear the American situation in mind and recognize how dangerous it is that he's emptied our coffers with his ill-advised tax cuts leaving us with no surplus, nothing to tide us over bad times. We now know clearly that hurricanes, out of whose paths God has kindly kept us, are not the only things that shatter economies and upend countries. Disease in humans or animals, collapsed infrastructure, crop failure, drought, floods, a nuclear meltdown in one of those old reactors, underhand dealing in our fiscal sector, any of these can suddenly arrive, and if they come now we have no nest egg to dip into, thanks to Mr Harper. Quite apart from the environment, quite apart from the divisive tactics according to which he's encouraging people who do needlepoint, sew, quilt and make handcrafted canoes to think they are somehow different from people who write and paint and carve, if you are thinking of voting Conservative in the upcoming Canadian election, remember America, a nation with empty coffers. These are critical times, requiring good government, and Conservatives aren't big on government: they think, the less of it, the better. But when the skies fall, as in times of war, disaster and famine, good government can make all the difference. So put you vote where it counts this election... Your life may depend on it.