Tag: predation

Predator: A Portrait of America

Would you like to see a symbolic self-portrait of America, circa 2009. Here it is. I give you the Predator:

Ugly, isn’t it? But it wasn’t designed to be pretty. It was designed to kill without warning – cheaply, efficiently, and at no risk to the operator. That’s a Hellfire missile under the wing. It can destroy any armored vehicle or demolish a small building. The little sensor globe under the nose allows the remote pilot, sitting in a cubicle somewhere in the good old USA, to deliver sudden death to America’s enemies on command. There is no defense against the predator, and no warning.

This is who we are now. This is our new national bird. We thrill at the killing of victims who never know what hit them. Aggressive violence has become a perfected perversion in America, and its ultimate expression is the ability to kill with absolute impunity. American industry and ingenuity have supplied this perfect remote killing device, and for this they have the thanks of a grateful, bloodthirsty nation.

Predators and predation are terms used increasingly to describe the miscreants of Wall Street, but these are only the best-paid of America’s predators. The whole “success” culture of America has morphed from a value-based model to a smash-and-grab, quick kill paradigm that equates to predation.

This transformation is perfectly represented in our mass culture. The measure of progress in the American popular cinema is the intensity of stylized violence in our beloved “action films.” Each new Batman movie, for example, shows the (progressively “darker”) costumed protagonist unleashing sudden, unexpected violence on the villains. He strikes with overwhelming force, out of nowhere, then vanishes completely.

So what’s so bad about predation? After all, nature is full of predators and prey. It’s a jungle out there. The problem is that civilization is based on value exchange. Giving fair measure in return for fair payment is the foundation of all commerce, and, arguably all human relations. When we adopt predation as our model for living, we regress from the civilized state to animalistic behavior. When predation becomes a society’s behavioral paradigm, businessmen become gangsters, government becomes brutal, and trust vanishes.

If you want to experience cognitive whiplash, ask any young adult what they think of Goldman Sachs, then ask them if they would take a job there. The fast hit to make a killing is now the American Dream. We are now a nation of predators.

The wrong-way economy

The current economic troubles in the US can be explained as a simple case of policy inversion. Because our government is a plutocracy, controlled by the wealthy, its response to economic distress is to provide aid disproportionately to those who need it least. What we are witnessing is a zero-sum struggle between the 1 million people who run America and everyone else. Bankers, realtors, lawyers, lobbyists, and corporate executives are using the Federal Treasury to maintain their incomes, and this is being done at the expense of the vast majority of the American public.

An elaborate propaganda campaign has been created to persuade the people that the world will explode if the earnings of the plutocrats diminish. But the continuation of this reverse-Robin Hood policy is far more dangerous than cutting Federal subsidies to the wealthy. It is the American citizenry that provides the economic base that supports the affluent elites. By sinking the population under unsustainable debt to win a few more quarters of big bonuses and golden parachutes, the plutocrats are risking the total collapse of the US economy.

The correct course for US fiscal policy is for the government to stop being the lender of last resort and instead to become the EMPLOYER of last resort. Only by restoring a secure income stream to the working class and middle class can America’s prosperity be rebuilt. It is objected that government employment programs are wasteful. But just how efficient have our private employment markets been? How efficient has Wall Street been? How efficient has General Motors been? How efficient was Enron?

What Obama needs to do now is throw out his economic team and commit to a populist agenda. We need to stop grinding the US people down to keep champagne flowing on Wall Street.  Corporate executives with myopic vision restricted to the next quarter are not going to rebuild America’s transportation network, energy infrastructure, and educational facilities. Our government needs to put people back to work making the things America NEEDS. Instead, it is piling on more debt so that we can continue to consume the garbage that makes unsustainable profits for corrupt corporations.

When the private sector fails to allocate resources properly, the government must step in. We have witnessed a massive failure of resource allocation in America, and attempts to persist in that misallocation are doomed. The wealth of the people should be spent on the welfare of the people, not on the aggrandizement of a predatory elite. This is the change that America needs, and it is the change that Obama has failed to deliver.