As heartless as it may seem to say so, in the midst of financial crisis, I believe that there is a sense in which we are experiencing a privileged moment. There are very few times in which the official narrative of our politics, the story of capitalism presented day after day as the only truth, falls away to reveal, if only for an instant, the reality behind the façade.
This is that moment, if you will, when Toto pulls the curtain back and we can all see the con man pulling the levers and yelling into the mike.
Recall, if you have not succumbed to the peculiar strain of amnesia prevalent in America, decades of political blather concerning the “free market.” The corporatists railed incessantly against regulation, saying that if only the restraints were taken off our fine economic system, prosperity would come. Conservative or “centrist” (liberal was now a dirty word), Democrat or Republican, all agreed that greed was good. And when the wingnuts came to power, first in Congress under Clinton (who co-opted their message instead of fighting them) and then in the White House under the current torturer, stealer of elections, and all-around useful idiot, they went whole hog—or whatever porcine metaphor you prefer.
The rich got a lot richer. You and I were forced to endure downsizing, outsourcing, and other forms of economic rape—with the result that both members of a household now work full-time, and often have to take second jobs to pay the bills. And the debt piled up.
Meanwhile, the official narrative was that poor people were the problem. Welfare queens and other shiftless minorities needed to be weaned from the welfare tit. Social programs were a waste of our hard-earned tax dollars—money that could be better used for war toys like the Star Wars missile defense boondoggle.
There aren't enough funds for all these liberal programs. Where are you going to get the money for all that? Just tighten your belt, salute the flag, and watch Survivor on TV.
Politicians became our elected school marms and moral instructors—wagging their fingers at us as they bleated about personal responsibility. Don’t have children out of wedlock, people! Stop looking for handouts and get a job—like the decent hard working people who vote for us. We’re sick of hearing about sexism and racism from people who basically hate American values. Instead of protesting war and poverty, look at the true moral issues facing us today—women getting abortions and those filthy queers flaunting their depravity in public. Don’t forget flag burning. And those creepy artists getting funded by the NEA. This is important stuff, people. And while we’re at it, let’s impeach the President for having sex with an intern.
Your problems are the fault of the others. Not with us. Blame the immigrants. Declare holy war on Islam. And behind all of it, the crazy, wacky, moonbat left. Obama, Osama. Coincidence?
And the hockey mom joe six-packs said Amen.
But now, when the thieves and pirates who’ve been getting filthy rich while the rest of us languish in socioeconomic limbo—when these captains of industry who think nothing of moving their companies overseas while screaming “Country first!”—finally bring the whole stinking edifice down around our ears, what do you think happens?
Suddenly there is $700 billion available from the public treasury to save their asses. There wasn’t enough money for those liberal social programs, but when Wall Street needs a bailout, well lookee! We just happen to have $700 billion handy.
But the voters didn’t buy it. Even the American electorate, capable of voting en masse for an empty Texas suit for President (twice!)—wasn’t fooled. The public was overwhelmingly against this bailout, and they let the Congress know it.
If you’ve been watching the news channels during this time—the regular networks, the cable networks, PBS, NPR, whatever—you couldn’t fail to notice that the corporate media was in favor of this bill. Barely a whisper of an alternative ever made it to the airwaves. We were bombarded with fear—if the bill didn’t pass, disaster would ensue. Your jobs were threatened. Your way of life was threatened. The survival of America was at stake. And this was not confined to Fox or right-wing commentators—all of them toed the line, even the supposedly liberal ones.
And yet—the public still opposed the bill!
After the first try failed, and the Dow plunged, the politicos went into panic mode. The people just don’t understand economics. They don’t realize how crucial this is. Something has to be done—now.
Obama supported the bill. What the hell did you expect? He’s heavily funded by Wall Street. McCain stumbled around like the clueless senile bastard he is, not knowing which way to go, because the extreme right of the party was afraid of getting blamed and voted No. What isn’t talked about much are the Democrats that voted No—they were on the left-end of the spectrum, like Kucinich. No one mentioned their arguments on the news channels. That might call into question the whole system, which is based on greed, exploitation and class war.
The amazing thing is, none of this con-job worked. The public still hated the bill.
So here comes the moment when Toto pulled open the curtain. A month before Congressional elections, with the voters angry as hell, the House ended up passing the bill.
I can’t imagine how the actual structure of power in this country could have been more clearly or obviously revealed. The government doesn’t run the country. Wall Street does. All that Wall Street had to do was kick and whine and declare emergency, and then take a big dive when it didn’t get its way at first, and eventually the Congress bailed them out.
Hey, joe six-pack hockey mom—try to learn a lesson here, if you’re not brain-dead already. The people who own the country don’t give a shit about you or your family. When they use race and sex and homophobia to sway your mind, they’re not looking out for anything but their own bottom line. When they talk about cutting government spending, they mean for you, not for themselves. Hell, no. Government is there to cater to them. They tell it what to do, and it will do what they say even if every single one of you calls your Congressperson to complain.
The man behind the curtain is the wizard of Wall Street. That’s the truth. All this talk about freedom and democracy and the American dream—it’s a sham, and it has been for many years. This is one of those moments when that truth is naked for all to see. Imprint it on your mind and don’t forget it.
There will be no change until we refuse to believe the lies.