Tag: magical thinking

Whither America?

Crossposted from Antemedius

The other day, on April 15, veteran journalist, war correspondent and truthdig.com columnist Chris Hedges was interviewed on RT News about the state of American society, repeating his oft stated warnings about the long corporate assault on and takeover of politics, the seeming death of reason and critical thinking in public discourse, and the development of a feudalistic “totalitarian democracy” in which the vast majority of the population is reduced through a media manufactured state of ignorance, inability to think clearly, and entertainment dazed complacence to a state of serfdom as a renewable ‘resource’ for a capitalism defined by American and multinational big business, and critiquing from this perspective the US budget developments of the past few days.

The budget is closing American schools and libraries across the country while firing teachers and taking away collective bargaining rights, Hedges notes, while banks and the largest corporations are not paying any taxes, including Bank of America, Exxon Mobil, and GE. Protesters gathered on Saturday April 17 at New York City’s Union Square for the Sound of Resistance protests, part of the US Uncut tax weekend protests challenging the banks, most notably Bank of America, for avoiding paying taxes.

usuncut.org’s about page states that:

US Uncut is a grassroots movement taking direct action against corporate tax cheats and unnecessary and unfair public service cuts across the U.S. Washington’s proposed budget for the coming year sends a clear message: The wrath of budget cuts will fall upon the shoulders of hard-working Americans. That’s unacceptable.

Obama seeks to trim $1.1 trillion from the budget in the next ten years by cutting or eliminating over 200 federal programs, many dedicated to social services and education. For instance, it cuts in half funding to subsidize heating for low-income Americans; limits an expansion of the Pell grant program for students; and decreases Environmental Protection Agency funding by over 12%.

Meanwhile, Republicans are using their new House majority to slash spending even more brutally. The GOP has made it clear that they are bent on raiding funds for Social Security, Medicare, education; determined to kill health care reform; and gut needed investments in infrastructure, climate change and job creation, at a time when America needs it most.

These cuts will come on top of very painful austerity measures made at the state-level across our nation–worth hundreds of billions–since the recession began.

In short, budget cuts demonstrate that Washington has abandoned ordinary Americans.

What is making the situation worse is the ignorance of politicians and others leaping around he fringes. Hedges also reminds that the US is the only industrialized nation in the world that argues over the existence of evolution. Magical thinking, combined with a military superpower, is frightening, he says. “We invest emotional energy on the ridiculous and the sublime… the liberal class has been decimated… what used to be unconstitutional is now legal“, he says, pointing to illegal searches under the Patriot Act and corporate bailouts under the health care legislation. The rights and needs of citizens are being ignored in favor of corporations.

Whither America?

While all across the blogosphere and in mainstream media I watch people argue about which faction of the ‘corporatist party’ to elect in 2012, I’m reminded strongly here of something Chris Floyd wrote nearly four years ago, in September 2007:

McCain, Obama, and the politics of desperation

A strange thing is happening in the Presidential race. The increasing economic pressures on American voters are not resulting in a resurgence of rationality and pragmatism. Instead, we seem to be witnessing a desperate grasping for magical solutions. McCain and Palin are dispensing Republican magic, and Obama is offering Democratic magic. Poor old Biden is just peddling the same old, same old.

What can one say to a population that refuses to face facts and believes that a ferocious old Vietnam ghost or a perky hockey mom can be a “game changer?” What can one say to people who believe that sports and gambling metaphors are the best way to describe American Presidential politics? America is like a broken down gambler at a craps table in Las Vegas risking his last few dollars on one more high-stakes roll.

Unfortunately, even if the gambler wins another throw of the dice, the odds remain against him, and that is his doom. Maybe we dodge a flu pandemic, and maybe we luck out of the next warming-related cycle of droughts and weather disruptions, and maybe we slink out of the Mideast without igniting a global war, and maybe the Chinese decide to keep lending us money for another few years, but how long can all this “good luck” continue. Not much longer. We appear to be past the point of no return in a politics of national self-delusion that features instant messiahs of varying degrees of credibility and durability. Each one promises that magic will solve our problems. But there is no such magic. You can’t get something for nothing, and you can’t lie your way to the truth.

Prudent people should be making plans to move their dollar-denominated savings into stable assets likely to survive the repudiation of America’s foreign debt and the resultant hyper-inflation. Those with the option to relocate should consider moving to nations with sound economies and responsible leaders. Americans are spending their last night in the casino praying for magic, but they will face the dawn with empty pockets and broken dreams.