Moyers: So Close And Yet So Far

There are times that one has to lament the state of American “journalism” and how badly it has become infested with magical thinking.  Unfortunately, Mr. Moyers is one of those who has fallen to this disease.

The government is paralyzed. Our government is just not working. If the election continues the status quo, we are in trouble. Our political system has gotten us into such a mess that we can’t solve our problems. This happened once before when the political system broke down and could not work to bridge differences, and the result was a disastrous civil war. The system is failing now. It isn’t solving the debt problem or the foreclosure problem or anything. We have been able to use military to kill our enemies, but that’s about it. This election is one more chance to make good choices. If the Republicans send people to do what they have been doing – just keep saying “no” – we will reap the harvest of history. If the Democrats continue to wring their hands and settle for photo ops and rhetoric, we will get nowhere. They (political parties) are going to be finished unless we can settle the deep and divisive issues that are taking us down. This election should be opportunity for the people to take the bridge of the ship and say to the captain, “That’s an iceberg out there, turn the ship.”

So how does the election not continue the “status quo” when The Press refuses to speak to truth?

How would Bill define “good choices”?  And what “deep and divisive issues” are we talking about here?

Look, I know where Bill is going….. and then he serves it right up:

I know a lot of tea partiers. I was out listening to them and talking to them. They had a half-truth. Why do I want to put more of my taxes into a government that was serving special interests? They understood that. The other side says we have to have a safety net. The two sides can’t get together. The populist movement (of the tea party) was taken over and co-opted by corporate interests. It’s hard to retain fiery indignation and independence when that happens. I don’t think Occupy Wall Street will have the influence they want unless they do what the tea party did and take over the nominating process. Unless they do, they will never have the satisfaction that they want and that the civil rights movement, say, had back in the 1950s and ’60s. These people are not going to have long-ranging effect unless they have a party to act on their interests. They need to become a political movement instead of a grievance committee.

What “safety net” Bill?  This is what you don’t want to face: The so-called “safety net” you’re looking for is not a “safety net.”  A safety net is a soup kitchen and a charity ward at the hospital, along with a shelter — in short, “three hots and a cot, plus a doc.”  That’s all it is.

But somewhere along the way “a safety net” got defined as a $500 iPhone and the $100 in monthly service charges that go with it, a $2,000 plasma TV, $100+ in cable or satellite TV service, air conditioning blasting at 72F when it’s 95F outside and 75F inside when it’s -20F in the winter, lobster and T-bone steaks on “food stamps”, “disability” for adults who choose to act like babies and waddle around in diapers (literally!) and similar abuses.  That which everyone believes we can provide for those who truly need it got turned into an entitlement to a lifestyle that defined a tycoon’s life just 20 or 30 years ago!

“Education” is the same thing.  It used to be cinder-block dorms with a common bathroom down the hall and slop-house cafeteria-style food.  It could also be paid for flipping burgers or delivering pizzas when you weren’t in class.  Now it looks (and costs) more like a luxury condo complex.  We have outrageous for-profit edifices to football driving our “colleges” while 10 year old boys allegedly get buggered in the shower but boy oh boy those schools are great, and when the coach gets sacked the students riot to protest his firing, not the fact that a bunch of at-risk kids were allegedly sexually assaulted right under their noses on their university grounds for two decades!

“Medical care” used to mean, in the context of the safety net, the aforementioned charity ward.  Now it means Juanita the illegal Mexican coming into the US at 8 months pregnant with zero prenatal care in her nation and then going into premature labor, sticking the American taxpayer with a $1 million labor, delivery, and NICU bill. Instead of charging here with felony theft (which it is) from our nation she gets coddled, fed, housed, doctored and allowed to stay as a reward for her unlawful conduct.  Then when she, with no skills, goes on the dole we call it a “safety net” keeping her in subsidized housing and food instead of buying her and her kid a plane ticket back to her nation of residence. 

Jose comes to pick strawberries and gets hurt on the job; he steals $20,000 in medical care from us all since he can’t pay either and has no right to be here.  Rather than charge him with both the illegal entry and theft for ripping us off we treat him, allow him to stay and cover his subsidized housing and food all so we can pay 25 cents less for a quart of strawberries instead of having the millions of unemployed Americans pick them at a living US-style wage!

It also means approving for Prostate Cancer (a deadly disease) a $100,000 treatment for anyone who wants it and fits the profile, irrespective of ability to pay and the fact that this $100 large buys, on average, four months of additional life, $200,000+ open heart surgery for people who have lived their entire life with a BMI of 30+ and refuse to lose the weight, hip replacements on demand for those who destroyed them through a lifetime of bad habits and similar abuses.  This is not to say that people don’t have the right to eat themselves to death — they do.  But where does the “safety net” end when consequences are divorced from choices?

The answer is simple: It never ends.  We made promises we can’t keep and The Press, including Bill Moyers, cheered those promises on as “compassion”, never once asking “uh, excuse me, but how much is the bill going to be for this fancy meal you’re serving up?” and refusing to recommend that people eat before they get an answer to the question.

Since 1979, 40 percent of the increase of wealth has gone to 1 percent of the population. I don’t know if the destruction of the middle class was by design, but that’s been the effect of it. Our economy favors the relative few at the top, and everything else is left barely hanging on, if that. That’s the story of the last 30 years. This is similar to what happened between the Civil War and 1912. The industrial revolution created incredible wealth at the top and great misery everywhere else. There was a feeling by political leaders that the wealthy deserved their riches because they are virtuous. And then the people rose up and in bloody soil planted the seeds that the 20th century used as markers to lay down a civilized society: the right of women to vote, the end of child labor, the creation of Social Security and rights for unions to organize and so on. Unless we can resurrect a vigorous fair government that works on behalf of everyday people, we are going to become a plutocracy like Mexico where wealth is concentrated at the top and everybody else is left with scraps.

Ah, but here’s the problem Bill.  You want $50 DVD players and a DOW in the 12,000s but the way we got both was by exporting our blue collar labor to places that abuse employees to the point that they have to net the buildings to prevent them from committing suicide!

We also used to pollute the hell out of the air and water; I grew up with a chemical plant a few miles from my home that would make your eyes water every time you drove by it.  We cut that crap out and doing so was expensive.  But our manufacturing, in addition to being exported to places where labor is exploited, also exploits damaging the environment!

In addition you want “protection” of housing prices but there’s no way to do that other than screwing everyone as the price appreciation was due to false economic demand that in fact did not exist.  Never mind that for the person without a house they want low prices, not high ones, just like the buyer of a stereo or DVD player wants low prices.

You can’t have this both ways and pretending to “fix it” with borrowing (which is what we’ve done serially since 1980) isn’t a fix — it’s a lie.  Bill’s lament may be nice at heart, but the truth requires more than “a good heart.”  If requires facing certain facts, such as:

  • A “safety net” isn’t equality of result.  It’s an emergency intervention mechanism for those who (a) truly need it, and (b) exists at a literal subsistence level so that people who have the ability to be productive will not willingly choose to stay within it.   Three hots, a cot and a doc but no iPhones, no plasma TVs and no luxury goods of any sort.  If you have $2,000 worth of rims on that ghetto-mobile we sell ’em and use ’em to pay your “benefits” with.  Food coupons are for reasonable and non-prepared foodstuffs — the outside “ring” of the grocery store ex luxury items (define it as anything that’s less than 150% of the per-serving cost for hamburger or chicken breast and that seems reasonable.)  Those who say that we must be “nicer” because some people don’t have full kitchens have obviously never been in these stores of late; they all sell $20 skillets and crock pots that are perfectly-sufficient to prepare real food and work anywhere there’s an electrical outlet.  For under $100 in hard goods I can equip a family of four with the ability to make and eat (including tableware) anything from omelettes, eggs and bacon to pot roasts.  Cut the crap Bill or even better, stop being a damned limousine liberal and go shopping for your own food for once — in a real store (you know, a Winn-Dixie, Publix or WalMart — NOT “Whole Paycheck.”)
  • Debt is nothing more than pulling forward tomorrow’s demand into today.  That assumes, incidentally, that you actually pay down the debt.  When you do what we’ve done, serially adding to it at a rate exceeding growth in GDP for a literal 30 straight years, it is known as a scam and the mainstream media is and has been a prime enabler of that scam.
  • The economic demand presented by debt that is never paid down is false.  This is obvious to anyone who has a hint of intelligence and honesty in their analysis, yet it seems to escape virtually everyone who comments on these matters.  How can that be, other than through malevolent intent?  It’s impossible to argue that this is a “mistake” or “difference of opinion” since the arithmetic is neither difficult or advanced; it is in fact fifth grade material.  Since one must assume that the mainstream media and economics professions are in fact professionals who have no less than an honest high-school education (with nearly all being degreed college graduates) it is simply impossible to accept that the willful and intentional failure to point this out and honestly present it is an accident.

There’s a real problem here and we cannot solve it without honest brokers in both the political sphere and the media.  The former is hard enough to obtain but when the media glad-handles the politicians it is literally impossible since the media becomes the enablers of those who steal from the public.

We can have an honest debate about the virtue of liberal versus conservative policies, what an appropriate and fair tax system looks like and what government services we should have in this nation and elsewhere.

But none of this can happen until we connect the services we demand from government with the means to pay for them in the present tense and stop lying across the board about what we’ve done over the last 30 years along with the mathematically-certain outcome of that behavior.

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