Saturday, November 13, 2010

Co-Conspiratorial Reign

The uber wealthy have been stealing from the workers, it seems, forever, but relatively recently they have gained a willing accomplice to aid in their thievery. The mainstream news media has abdicated their duties of public watchdog and reasoned analysis. From the selling of corporate products, to the selling of corporate policies, our public-discourse narrator on the meaningful issues of the day [the media] has devolved into an echo chamber of greed and commercialism.

We need a class action suit against the American media system as a whole. The majority of the noise being broadcast and printed daily is an advertisement, a nudge, a subtle persuasion, propaganda. It's no longer about how you can live your life better. It's about how you can live your life so that they may live better and, somehow, the rewards will make it back to you.

The Fairness Doctrine immediately needs to be reinstated. A higher proportion of programming should be dedicated to government, election, education, and other public concerns. And, since they are the public airwaves, why don't we charge the networks to broadcast? If they choose not to, those stations can be used for public good. And, if they choose to pay, that is more revenue we can use to repair roads, cut deficits, and catch-up on some long overdue public infrastructure projects.

[We should also be collecting more money from companies extracting minerals and resources from public lands. But that is a topic for another time.]

As Ralph Nader writes, "The television broadcasters were given free license to use public airwaves (worth around $70 billion) by a supine Congress in 1997." What kind of deal is this? So, we as a people, own the airwaves, which are very valuable. But our representatives made a deal with broadcasters to just allow them to operate freely. Are the broadcasters allowing us to watch for free? These are the types of backroom deals that are fiscally destroying the country by robbing us of much needed revenue. What possible reason could they have for suddenly deciding broadcasters shouldn't pay for use of the airwaves anymore?

This episode also parallels Buckly v. Valeo and its pernicious effect on campaigns and elections. Which we'll get to in a bit.

We can see and feel the direct effect on our daily lives from this unchecked, completely profit-driven media presence. The media is now a self-justifying corporate shill. We're instructed more what to buy, how to look, and given a passing he-said/she-said. Facts are now malleable. Everything is in the eye of the beholder. When we have no boundaries nor measurements for truth or fact, when everything is personal perspective, we no longer have truth nor fact.

Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann are worlds aparts. There is barely a Left at all anymore, and nothing that is comparable to the scope and ferocity of today's Right. 40 years ago Olbermann's views would have been considered moderate and Beck would have been laughed out of the political arena and sent back to the zanny morning radio schtick. Today, half of voting Republicans think Beck is a teacher and wise sage. Comparing today's right-wing with recent fascist regimes is much more plausible and supported than the "communist" and "socialist" chants of the Beck-heads.

It's no wonder that 40 years ago we had raising wages, one breadwinner, and shared prosperity. A period where Olbermann-esque moderation governed. A rising tide that lifted all boats. This new, hyper-commercialized, market-driven, greed-era we currently inhabit has resulted in exactly the opposite. Two workers can barely get by today, wages are stagnating, retirements are increasingly volatile, and people are having to choose between medical care and paying their rent.

The rich did not like seeing their social underlings driving cars, owning their homes, and living content lives. So they pushed through Buckley v Valeo (1976) and started buying elections and judges. Once they had their puppets in office, they started pushing through legislation and initiatives that would directly benefit them. Like tax cuts, deregulation, free airwaves, repealing Glass-Steagall, and on and on. All of this right under our noses, neatly packaged, and/or completely obfuscated by the media.

Here we are decades into this failed social experiment. Voters just enthusiastically elected the standard-bearers of this perverted and discredited worldview, in large part thanks to the media and their so-very-terrible representation of reality. To keep doing the same thing, yet expecting different results is insanity. "Cut word lines - Cut music lines - Smash the control images - Smash the control machine - Burn the books - Kill the priests - Kill! Kill! Kill!"

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