Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Trickle-Down Economics, the Weather Channel & Me

It seems like a trivial matter, but the Weather Channel has changed it’s format: “Local on the Eights”, at least in my locality, has become “National on the Eights” with high tech graphics, glittery rhomboid flip screens, statistics about every city and section of the country … everything but the one thing I watch the Weather Channel to see: my local weather. Wind advisories, tide charts, sunrise and sunset times and what the chances are for a snow storm tomorrow. I have no idea why the geniuses at the Weather Channel made this change, though it seems to fit in with several general patterns: new is better, shiny video is more fun than information, and the problems and even the weather of any given small community just doesn’t really matter.

What really hit home, what made the issue seem so much more significant, was my response: I grumbled and complained and continued to watch. What was I supposed to do? Send an e-mail, write a letter to some monolithic media corporation owned by some other even more monolithic multinational corporation, and ask them to accommodate me? They have no interest in accommodating me. It’s a perfect metaphor , it sums up everything else, all the economic and political dead ends our country has built for itself since the end of World War II, when Dwight Eisenhower warned against the “military industrial complex”. Well, it’s the military-political-industrial-media complex now, with the same goals but with vastly more sophisticated tools at its command. I’m told to vote, but in my bones I know my vote means nothing and that even if I went in to politics and gave my liofe to the kind of change I long for, I would probably wind up like those Wisconsin Democrats, fleeing my own state to fight legislation I loathe and despise. Today I read that those brave legislators will soon return, the dreaded quorum will be achieved and Governor Scott Walker’s cruel, senseless union busting budget plan will be forced on the electorate of that bruised and battered state. And why? To solve a budget crisis? There would be no budget crisis if not for Walker’s scandalous tax cuts. But that’s the old voodoo economics, the trickle down hat trick: starve the beast. Suck the treasury dry with tax cuts then claim poverty and sacrifice the working poor to balance the budget. And this is no conspiracy, no secret plan hatched by a shadowy cabal in a back room. They brag about it!What did George Bush say at one of his fund raisers "The rich asnd the super rich ... or as I call them: my base."

The worst part is, I’m one of the few people in the nation who actually benefits from trickle down economics – these titans of economic fraud, these beneficiaries of global ponzi schemes, take their blackmail bailout money from the taxpayers and write themselves giant bonuses and spend the booty on – renovating their summer houses, among other indulgences. They hire me to paint the new kitchen and strip the floors of the new addition and so I find myself in the perverse position of rooting for them to stay wealthy and keep gutting the rest of the country. Supposedly 400 people have as much wealth and property as half of the rest of the population combined. What’s scarier than that statistic? Most of them summer on Nantucket.

And I make my living off of them. But my livelihood actually refutes the whole sleazy theory. These new hedge fund robber barons aren’t taking their ill-gotten gains and starting new businesses, and opening new factories and “innovating” and expanding the economy. They’re faux-painting the guest cabin on their new yacht. Like a dog’s favorite tree, I happen to be in the direct line of fire of that famous trickle. Everyone else just continues to suffer with the dead grass, the poisoned soil and the reek of waste.

In other eras, this kind of wanton savage greed eventually brought down corrupt regimes whether it was the court of the Russian Czar or Louis the 14th. . But those oligarchs were crude and inept. They didn’t have KFC and flat screen TVs and the NFL. They understood the “bread and circus’ concept but could never perfect it in practice. They had propaganda, but they didn’t have the ubiquitous media chorus big money can buy today. It seems like they may have finally created the thousand year Reich. Only the total collapse of the system, when there is no more tax money to bail out the next mindless orgy of naked avarice, or when the ecosystem collapses from limitless abuse can bring this power structure down, and the sad truth is, it will take all of us with it when it goes.

The only hope I can see is to outlaw political ads on television, as cigarette ads were outlawed so long ago. This would put a chisel into the works of a finely tuned mechanism: if politicians could be independent if they didn’t need the millions and millions and millions of dollars they spend on grotesque attack spots like this one:

“Steven Axelrod says he’d ‘blog for free’ but he accepts ‘tips’ and runs ads between his posts! What else is he lying about? Steven Axelrod: bad for Open Salon, bad for the Internet, Bad for America. I’m anonmyous and I approved this ad.”

Without the cash sucking black hole of televion attack ads, politicians could campaign the old fashioned way and govern the country according to their actual beliefs and the needs of their constituents, not the whims of the Proprietors who hold the wallet and the remote.

But that will never happen. So I’ll just continue to scribble the occasional rant here, and watch the Weather Channel. It’s scary out there – lots of floods and hurricanes and tornadoes. Thank goodness for Jim Cantore and the gang. I have no idea what the humidity or the temperature is on Nantucket this morning, but it’s 56 degrees in Detroit and there’s a chance of rain in Atlanta.

I guess I’ll have to settle for that.

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