Well, it appears to be apocryphal but for years I've held onto the notion that either Camus or Sartre wrote a short story in which two strangers are sharing a compartment on a train. Their entire dialogue consists of talking about "them" and what "they" are doing to us. They, naturally, are never identified, but we are all familiar with this rhetorical device and have probably engaged in a bit of "they are to blame for it all" ourselves. The amorphous "they" enables us to vent our spleen but at the same time to refrain from delving into details that might necessitate doing more than whining about how they are robbing us blind.
Progressive talk radio, to me, exemplifies this sort of gassing. I've tried to listen but I think I'm too old for it. If you think Rush Limbaugh condescends to his audience, listen to Keith Olbermann without agreeing or disagreeing—I would've thought no one could possibly sound nearly as righteous as Glenn Beck. Oh, but wait a minute. That's right. You can't listen to Keith Olbermann. Because he sold out. Even though this principled individual already had a guaranteed 14 million smackers for yammering, he traded in his microphone, promising to be a quiet little boy for a while, for additional wads of cash. How much? Well, haven't you heard of the right to privacy?
Speaking of which, I suppose we shouldn't be nosing around Larry Page's 60 million dollar yacht. I mean, he's worth it, right? Still, it's difficult to refrain from doing the math. Keith and his 14 mil, Larry and his disposable 60—74 million dollars. Two thirds of American households take in less than $65,000 annually. http://www.mybudget360.com/how-much-does-the-average-american-make-breaking-down-the-us-household-income-numbers/ So something like 1138 plus families could survive for a year on what these men regard as chump change. Okay. I take that back. Olbermann lives on his 14 plus million. He needs it.
Because the question about both men is how they add $74,000,000 in value to our economy. Of course, Page is draining far more than that since he bought a toy (not a home or some other necessity) with an obscene amount of money. Years ago men with this much moola at hand were giving 90% of it to Uncle Sam. Trickle down put an end to that, otherwise known as "voodoo economics." The mysteries of how megabucks descend from offshore accounts or offshore investments into the pockets of American workers have never been solved (although Obama has recently adopted the theory).
Yes, where is progressive radio in all this murk? Listening one day to a station billing itself as "Progressive Talk," I turned and furled my brow to hear the following: Initially, what struck me as a pretty good analysis of why the tax on the rich used to be 90%--namely, because in a previous US lifetime it was understood that the rich, by making money off investments, produced no value. They didn't make widgets that saved people in the grip of heart attacks or devices that warmed cold feet in frostbite weather. They merely made money off of money. You might visualize it as siphoning the gas from your car while telling you the deed will increase the engine's efficiency. Good, I thought. Nice going. Until . . . .
The very same commentator turned to his ad material and in the same tone of voice waxed ecstatic over gold as an investment. He himself, he enthused, had been investing in gold for years. Oh my.
The superficiality of this man's understanding or his ethics (I can't say which) boggles the mind. But it also points out the narrow bandwidth employed by progressives. Years ago, the right co-opted the left by denouncing the censorship of so-called "political correctness." The left caved, completely intimidated by this rhetoric coup. The right is not oblivious to the power of words to shape thinking. George Bush and his gang hired hordes of PR specialists to design a language that would enfeeble critical thinking skills and punch all the knee-jerk buttons.
They hammered in acceptance of the "entitlements" for insurance programs into which workers have paid. When the press describes Obama as a "centrist"—which basically means someone without a guiding political philosophy, otherwise known as a "wet finger in the wind"—they participate in the obfuscation that makes it increasingly difficult for the American voter to recognize where his or her own interests lay.
In his State of the Union address, the President never mentioned homelessness. He never mentioned foreclosures. His references to joblessness were gilded with fantasies of getting Congress to "invest" in our crumbling infrastructure. He paved over the reality that more and more citizens are succumbing to abject poverty and talked instead about "competitiveness". Guided by Republican cynicism, he avoided the word "spend," hoping that use of the business term "invest" would derail criticism.
He spent some verbiage on improving education without alluding to the crisis nearly every state in the Union faces, forcing slashes to education budgets already pathetic. Once a great university, UC Berkeley, has had its resources hacked to crumbs by philistines like our President whose eyes are on short-term gains without reference to the long-term calamity they expedite.
A Congressional committee on the financial meltdown concluded (apart from a handful of diehards who want to blame the greedy poor) that three entities were primarily responsible for the pandemic squeezing governments across the globe, noting that the outcome was entirely predictable: greedy and reckless corporations, financial institutions recklessly investing, and feeble government oversight.
Think about Obama's address. He focuses on the importance of empowering those greedy and reckless corporations, removing the shackles of regulation that keep them from expanding their reach. As for the financial institutions, he touts new regulations that will keep greed in check. Allan Sloan of the Washington Post is unimpressed:
. . . with a rare exception or two, this 2,000-page bill nibbles at the toes of the problems that brought us the worldwide financial meltdown. It doesn't go for the throat -- its sponsors just pretend that it does.
Yes, Dodd-Frank may be, as President Obama calls it, "the toughest financial reform since the ones we created in the aftermath of the Great Depression." If that's the case, the bill shows how narrow our ambitions have become, and how little history we know. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/28/AR2010062804483.html
We are in the mouth of the dragon and our President comes with a toothpick. God help us indeed.