Category Archives: American Greed
A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters and serfs.Teachers, their unions under attack, are becoming as replaceable as minimum-wage employees at Burger King. We spurn real teachers—those with the capacity to inspire children to think, those who help the young discover their gifts and potential—and replace them with instructors who teach to narrow, standardized tests. These instructors obey. They teach children to obey. And that is the point. The No Child Left Behind program, modeled on the “Texas Miracle,” is a fraud. It worked no better than our deregulated financial system. But when you shut out debate these dead ideas are self-perpetuating.
Passing bubble tests celebrates and rewards a peculiar form of analytical intelligence. This kind of intelligence is prized by money managers and corporations. They don’t want employees to ask uncomfortable questions or examine existing structures and assumptions. They want them to serve the system. These tests produce men and women who are just literate and numerate enough to perform basic functions and service jobs. The tests elevate those with the financial means to prepare for them. They reward those who obey the rules, memorize the formulas and pay deference to authority. Rebels, artists, independent thinkers, eccentrics and iconoclasts—those who march to the beat of their own drum—are weeded out.
—-The demonizing of teachers is another public relations feint, a way for corporations to deflect attention from the theft of some $17 billion in wages, savings and earnings among American workers and a landscape where one in six workers is without employment. The speculators on Wall Street looted the U.S. Treasury. They stymied any kind of regulation. They have avoided criminal charges. They are stripping basic social services. And now they are demanding to run our schools and universities.“Not only have the reformers removed poverty as a factor, they’ve removed students’ aptitude and motivation as factors,” said this teacher, who is in a teachers union. “They seem to believe that students are something like plants where you just add water and place them in the sun of your teaching and everything blooms. This is a fantasy that insults both student and teacher. The reformers have come up with a variety of insidious schemes pushed as steps to professionalize the profession of teaching. As they are all businessmen who know nothing of the field, it goes without saying that you do not do this by giving teachers autonomy and respect. They use merit pay in which teachers whose students do well on bubble tests will receive more money and teachers whose students do not do so well on bubble tests will receive less money. Of course, the only way this could conceivably be fair is to have an identical group of students in each class—an impossibility. The real purposes of merit pay are to divide teachers against themselves as they scramble for the brighter and more motivated students and to further institutionalize the idiot notion of standardized tests. There is a certain diabolical intelligence at work in both of these.”
They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking… They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that . . . that doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests. That’s right. … … They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard thirty fucking years ago. … … They don’t want that! You know what they want? They want obedient workers . . . Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. … And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shitty jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it,
The dumbing down of America was essential for the hostile corporate takeover, the banishment of critical thinking skills and a knowledge of history, true history that is, had to be stifled. Creativity and questioning of idiotic people and policies are not things that are desired in the corporate state and no dissent is brooked let alone tolerated. Today’s average office settings are top down authoritarian entities where a group identity that is far more akin to classical Stalinist communism rather than the grand capitalism that they trumpet is the norm. Asking questions is denounced as heresy or gasp…”negative thinking” and the poor souls packed into cubicles slightly smaller than the cells at Gitmo are policed with ruthless efficiency by networks of finks, stooges and goons straight out of Solzhenitzen’s Gulag Archipelago. Any violation of the corporate thought police is the cause for scorn from one’s co-inhabitants of cubicle hell, ostracism and in situations with psychotic mid-level straw bosses lead to collective punishment and eventually exile. These people are the lucky ones in corporate Amerika because at least they have jobs in air-conditioned settings, the less fortunate who have been culled out at an earlier production stage in the educational process end up as harangued Wal-Mart clerks, prison guards, manual toilers and food service workers. It’s the ownership society and the snorting porkers who run it own all of our asses, high-rolling, four-flushing pigs like Donald Trump. The prototypical ugly American is now rocketing to the top of the polls largely due to his brazen I’m an asshole and proud of it! attitude, his pandering to the dumbest motherfuckers on the planet who are the racist birthers and scumbaggers and having a hit show on the tee-vee to boot! Only in America, a land where one now evolves into a grunting cave person over time, bred to worship their rich masters always at the expense of themselves and the closer their understanding to the primitive concept of “God’s will” the better. While the Germans aspired to the perfect Aryan Übermensch 21st Century Americans are blessedly ignorant, filled with primal hatred and fear and devolving by the minute thanks to the electronic dreck vomited forth from their televisions. It is truly eugenics American style.
One step closer to the end of the world. The one-two combo of corporate greed and organized religion apparently proved to be too much for reason, sanity and compassion.
Atlas Yawned, Jesus Wept: The high priestess of the religion of “fuck you I got mine” who is novelist and cult leader Ayn Rand has always been a driving force for the destroyers of economies and the anal raping of the working class. Rand, who emigrated to America from her native Russia suffered from a delusional worldview resulting from her families experience during the rise of communism during the revolution days. Rather than learning a valuable lesson from the oppressive thugs who rose to power and then murdered with impunity and stole whatever the hell they wanted to all under the guise of a corrupt ideology instead became some sort of intellectual prophet of a ridiculous school of thought called objectivism which can be boiled down into bumper sticker simplicity as FUCK THE POOR. Rand worked her way up by writing screenplays and eventually novels which took on an increasingly political theme that demonized the state and basic human cooperation and decency which endeared her to the sort of high-rolling assholes that wrecked the country and while waging class war under the battle flag of free market capitalism they are nothing more than the parasites, looters and moochers that Rand condemned. Rand hit it big with her novel The Fountainhead in which the selfish prick hero Howard Roark waged battle and triumphed over an evil socialist system, although the book was rejected by twelve publishers it as all dreck does eventually finds a sucker, usually a self-interested one. The book was published and Rand was well on her way to becoming a cultural icon with a cause celebre. While Rand is often praised as a libertarian idol by selfish dolts it was prominent libertarian thinker Murray N. Rothbard who wrote on The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult, the glassy-eyed members would go on to use the work of Rand to justify the strip-mining of American society through removing the regulatory restraints on financial sociopaths whose crony capitalism is far closer to textbook style fascism than the cynical individuality that Rand often invoked.
An article from Mother Jones magazine pegs the goddess of greed dead on, the piece is entitled And the Rand Played On states that:
Rand’s particular genius has always been her ability to turn upside down traditional hierarchies and recast the wealthy, the talented, and the powerful as the oppressed. This topsy-turvy philosophy has echoed through the blame-the-victim ranting of CNBC host Rick Santelli and the tax-day tea parties. In this world, it is not possible to admit that the rich and the Republicans may have been undone by their own greed and cluelessness.
Greenspan’s rise is instead a tale of a gerbilish mirror-gazer who flattered and bullshitted his way up the Matterhorn of American power and then, once he got to the top, feverishly jacked himself off to the attentions of Wall Street for twenty consecutive years – in the process laying the intellectual foundation for a generation of orgiastic greed and overconsumption and turning the Federal Reserve into a permanent bailout mechanism for the super-rich.
Greenspan met Rand in the early fifties after leaving Columbia, attending meetings at Rand’s apartment with a circle of like-minded intellectual jerk-offs who called themselves by the ridiculous name of “The Collective” and who provided Greenspan with the desired forum for social ascent.
Rand’s magnum opus of bullshit was the massive tome Atlas Shrugged, a 1,200 + page hunk of rancid tripe and sanctimonious garbage so incredibly boring that I was never able to finish the damned thing and I am well accustomed to plowing through tedious volumes of writing. Hell…I couldn’t stand it after the first couple of hundred pages, it is not only as large as a phone book but as entertaining as well. Rand wrote it while holed up in her New York digs jacked up on amphetamines which could explain the length of her screed. The plot is based on the wealthy being portrayed as social victims and seeking out a cultish figure named John Galt as though he is the messiah who can deliver them absolution for their self-centered, sociopathic natures and justification for their throwing a tantrum and withdrawing their ‘gifts’ from a society that doesn’t deserve them primarily because they are not turned into demigods like Donald Trump. Galt has bolted from a society that he like all snobs see no common interest in being good citizens of despite such concepts as basic human decency and morality. Rand uses a climactic speech from Galt that runs from 60-75 pages long depending on the edition as the centerpiece for Shrugged which is very nicely summed up by Taibbi as:
Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged, for instance, remains a towering monument to humanity’s capacity for unrestrained self-pity – it’s a bizarre and incredibly long-winded piece of aristocratic paranoia in which a group of Randian supermen decide to break off from the rest of society and form a pure free-market utopia, and naturally the parasitic lower classes immediately drown in their own laziness and ineptitude
The book fairly gushes with the resentment these poor “Atlases” (they are shouldering the burdens of the whole world!) feel toward those who try to use “moral guilt” to make them share their wealth. In the climatic scene the Randian hero John Galt sounds off in defense of self-interest and attacks the notion of self-sacrifice as a worthy human ideal in a speech that lasts seventy-five pages.
It goes without saying that only a person possessing a mathematically inexpressible level of humorless self-importance would subject anyone to a seventy-five page speach about anything. Hell, even Jesus Christ barely cracked two pages with the Sermon on the Mount. Rand/Galt manages it, however, and this speech lays the foundation of objectivism, a term that was probably chosen because “greedism” isn’t catchy enough.”
Amen! The oligarchy has Rand down and is currently in the process of propagandizing the costumed idiots that are the teabaggers into adopting Randian philosophy in promoting the filthy Republican 2012 budget and the destruction of Medicare and Social Security in order to give more tax cuts to the “Atlases”. There has been a recent campaign by the front group for tax chiselers, Dick Armey’s Orwellian named Freedom Works to promote a low-budget film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged using a guerilla marketing campaign designed to circumvent the librul [sic] media and mobilize their mouth-breathing brownshirts to bully theater chains into showing the flick. How effective the introduction of the real Rand into a disorganized, anti-intellectual, semi-literate gaggle of angry rabble whose fourth grade level reading skills are challenged by the ghost written books of Glenn Beck is unknown. The movie has gotten for the most part poor reviews outside of the normal neocon propaganda organs thus reason for the end run around the traditional marketing methods that would normally promote such epics. It is all just more of the same crap though, there will likely be many meetup groups in which selective portions of Rand’s book will be spoonfed to the lemmings much like the constitution was after the GOP co-opted the movement. It’s going to be just like bible study groups where the peaceful and humane messages of Jesus Christ are twisted like inflatable balloon animals into justification for prejudice, servitude, war-mongering and idolatry of the money changers and since so many of the scumbaggers overlap between the churches of false prophets it should be at least marginally successful. Sales of Atlas Shrugged will surely skyrocket although I suspect the majority of those buying will be bored to death after a few dozen pages and simply park it in a place where it can be easily observed by fellow miscreants and travelers.
Regarding Ayn Rand, I will give the devil her due for one thing – she was a devout atheist who allegedly once admonished the iconic neoconservative propagandist William F. Buckley by telling him that “you are too intelligent to belive in God.” That the teabaggers and right-wing freaks in general have latched onto Rand’s rapacious looter theology while they pound their bibles and caterwaul about the evils of liberalism, altruism and scientific advancement is just another example of both their hypocrisy and their imbecility. But the fascists are relentless, well-funded and with Ayn Rand and God on their side are determined to once and for all overthrow the system and the secret Muslim in the White House who doesn’t have a birth certificate. There are no shortage of con-artists, grifters, liars, cheats and flim-flammers who don’t understand the great political benefit of having millions of easily hoodwinked and malleable useful idiots at their disposal which is why a guy like Donald Trump has such appeal. In the end of course we all lose but there is no shortage of nincompoops and jackasses who are happy to wage war against phantom menaces and have no problem whatsoever in putting their children to bed at night cold and hungry as long as they can stick it to the enemy du jour that is rolled out by the plutocrats who depend on their remaining ignorant as an insurance policy.
Really, in the end what it all boils down to is people who base their entire lives and form their belief systems based on one book should not only be ignored but should be shunned like lepers. Whether that one holy book happens to be The Bible, Atlas Shrugged or even Gray’s Sports Almanac for that matter it makes no difference, given man’s capacity for learning and the availability of information if one just gets the fuck off of the couch and turns off the television people who live in an impenetrable bubble of willful ignorance that limits their worldview to the delusions of primitives, madmen, snake oil salesmen (or women) and money grubbers is a misfit. Why is it that in our creeping empire of idiocy that such simpletons and bags of shit bursting at the seams with false morality and certitude are accepted as rational people? It is only in the doomed and dying former land of plenty that rationality could be perversely turned upside down and idiocy worshipped.
As Leonard Cohen once proclaimed, I have seen the future and it’s murder….
Just my two cents
-Rush Hudson Limbaugh III
A while back at my local grocery store I noticed that there was a big sign with red letters taped to the front of the service desk that emphatically stated: WE NO LONGER ACCEPT ROLLED CHANGE. Sad to think that things are now so bad inflation wise that people are having to pay for food using scavenged rolls of pennies but some enterprising genius is going around down here in Florida putting in machines that convert such coinage to an easy to debit card – for a fee of course. Of course the official government line is that inflation is not a problem but most lies are of course comprised of half-truths mixed with outright lies and and one of the great lies is that core inflation doesn’t include either food or energy costs, it’s right up there with capitalism and democracy being interchangable.
Howard W. Campbell Jr. from Kurt Vonnegut’s classic Slaughterhouse Five:
And just who are our national role models and heroes? Who is there that Americans should hold in the highest of esteem? Brittney and Lindsay and Tomkat and the Donald and Paris don’t do it. Our history has been scrubbed and sanitized by the economic royalists and the fascists to eliminate any mention of true heroes of the working class and of a real democratic society. The vast majority of those compliant little consumers that have for too long been churned out by a starved for funds and battered into submission school public school system that has been turned into a nationwide network of drone factories (one of the only things that we mass produce in America anymore) have never heard of those who sacrificed for those things that came to be taken to granted to the point where they are now being taken away.
Where is there any mention given of Eugene Debs or of Joe Hill or of Saul Alinsky or of Mother Jones? What about General Smedley D . Butler who called out the blood barters with his tract War Is A Racket and his exposure of the Business Plot where wealthy traitors schemed about a coup against FDR? What is taught about Huey Long? I mean other than the widely accepted narrative of a power mad, corrupt tyrant instead of the man who scared the living shit out of the elitist establishment with his “share our wealth” program that ade the New Deal look like Reaganomics. Long stood up to entrenched interests and the moral rottenness of looter capitalism, he built roads, bridges, hospitals and schools as well as provided free textbooks and he even dared to take on the almighty Rockefellers and Standard Oil. Long railed against institutionalized corruption with his “every man a king” type of populism and he was making dangerous noises about running for president. The ending of the Huey Long story is all too predictable and familiar: he was of course assassinated.
America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American journalist Kin Hubbard “It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.” It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?” There will also be an American flag no larger than a child’s hand glued to a lollipop stick and flying fom the cash register.
Americans, like human beings everywhere believe that many things are obviously untrue. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and therefore those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say Napoleanic times. Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.
And there are others, there are many others who risked all to end child labor, to fight for equality and the forty-hour work week and unemployment protection and workers rights, workplace safety and a right to basic human decency but they go largely unheard of. A good and easy to read book about the working class American labor movements that I recommend is Sharon Smith’s Subterranean Fire because let’s face it, it is a hell of a rock that has to be rolled up that hill and education is necessary in order for the necessary deprogramming to occur. Official history is always written by the victors rather than the vanquished and because most of lying is through omission the banishment of American progressives from our history is a calculated and cynical effort to distort and distract until the final goal of a massive redistribution of wealth upwards and offshore has been completed and the country has been bankrupted and beggared by the economic royalists. Then the looters will either retreat behind the walls of their gated communities, hire private security firms for protection from the unwashed masses or flee this goddamned husk of a once great economic power altogether, their loyalty has always been to green and gold rather than red, white and blue.
AMY GOODMAN: Paul Krugman, can you talk — I mean, in your book, The Conscience of a Liberal, you’re talking about the growth of the whole neoconservative movement over the years. Give us some historical context here and in parallel with the growth of the economic disparity between rich and poor.
PAUL KRUGMAN: Yeah. A big discovery I made in doing the research for Conscience of a Liberal is that politics has actually led the economics. It’s not that we evolved into a new Gilded Age and we developed a right wing to support that. It’s that we developed a right wing that wanted a new Gilded Age, and they got it. Really, you know, a lot of this goes back — there was always a back — there were always people who hated FDR, who hated the New Deal, hated Social Security, but in the ’50s, they couldn’t get anywhere. Eisenhower once wrote a letter to his brother saying that this is a tiny minority and they are stupid.
But in the ’60s, they found their feet. Goldwater is actually less of a — I mean, he seized the Republican nomination, but much more important is first Reagan is the first central figure, because he found a way to exploit, found a rhetoric to exploit the white backlash against civil rights without actually being explicitly racist. So he talked about welfare queens driving Cadillacs. He talked about welfare cheats. He talked about — but he became governor of California largely by campaigning against the fair housing law. Nixon found the tactics. Nixon — you know, the dirty tricks, and it’s amazing how many, not just the sort of legacy, but actually the people of the Bush administration are coming from the Nixon years. I mean, Roger Ailes of Fox News was Nixon’s media adviser, right? They found these tactics. They found the moneyed interests wanted — supported the takeover of the Republican Party by people who really wanted to roll back as much of the New Deal as they could, but they were able to win elections by exploiting other issues, primarily race. And they were able to achieve about twenty-five years of political dominance in this country, largely by flipping the South and, to a certain extent, winning over, you know, the sort of Reagan Democrats in the North who were really upset about what amounts to the backlash against the Civil Rights Movement. It’s an extraordinary story.
And they were able to transform the way — look, my favorite example is just how much politics has mattered. We think of the decline of the union movement, which has all kinds of consequences, as being something — well, you know, the world economy changed and unions just didn’t have a place anymore. But that’s actually not true. Every place else in the advanced world, unions are still a powerful force. In the 1960s, Canada and the United States had the same rate of unionization. Canada still has about the same rate of unionization that it had in the 1960s. In the United States, the movement has been — you know, is a shadow of its former self, and that’s because of union busting, which was made possible by a permissive political environment, Ronal Reagan firing the air traffic controllers. The National Labor Relations Board turning hostile toward union organizers creates the possibility for massive union busting, and that, not the global economy, is why we are what we are.
A Time For Heroes
But heroes aren’t limited to only those who achieved or paid the most, they include all who took a stand against injustice. They are largely anonymous but they numbered in the thousands if not millions. Their mettle is lacking in an America gone fascist and populated by fearful sheeple and hateful lemmings. While the economic diaspora of the looting spree and the ravages of globalization number in the millions there is no unity, no organization and until there is quite frankly there is little hope. It is up to us all to be heroes even if as David Bowie once sang “just for one day” and to educate, inform, prop up and instill some self-esteem in others. We must all work together in order to cast off the hairshirt and to take back that which has been stolen from us.
What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can’t walk, can’t remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can’t stop them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.
But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.
Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.
It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.