It is interesting to me that the same disproportion keeps showing up in various unfavorable parameters. The United States belches out about 1/4th of the world's CO2 emissions; it uses about 1/4th of the daily energy; it consumes about 1/4th of the world's supply of petroleum. Those three data points, of course, are related directly. I wonder if they might be related to the fourth, the incarceration rate. More than one out of every 150 Americans currently lives in the pokey, while outside the prison walls the free citizens spend their times driving and burning energy at unprecedented rates.
It's probably just a coincidence. We have to remember that 500,000 of those American inmates are in jail on drug charges. Although, when you think about it, could that be a clue as well? What's with all the drug use? Could it have something to do with the profligate use of energy, the indifference to the natural environment, the contempt for the natural horrors that such things bring about? Are all of these things actually related, and are they all, really, symptoms and different manifestations of the same social breakdown?
June 27, 2007
Posted by Waldenswimmer at 12:20:00 PM
June 24, 2007
As for running concentration camps - simply unnecessary. Americans, in general, pay no attention to what's going on, and their dissent is limited to writing stupid blogs like this one and to periodically altering the mix of Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate. At the time of the Iraq invasion, 70% of the American populace thought Saddam Hussein was chiefly responsible for 9/11 (see note on "free" press above). While it's true that Bush has a 26% approval rating and Congress is at about 25%, this is because of economic factors. Most Americans, probably on the order of 80%, aren't doing too well anymore, and they will channel their "rage" into voting in a slightly different mix of Republicans and Democrats in 2008, then turn on the 42" plasma and watch re-runs of "Everybody Loves Raymond."
Thus, despite the looming catastrophe of the entitlements programs, and the unstanched flow of American jobs to foreign countries, and our declining standard of living, and the absence of national health, or a comprehensive railroad system that really works, and the insane budget and trade deficits, the current workforce in Congress will, for the most part, remain on the job, enjoying premium healthcare, guaranteed pensions, large staffs, power and influence, and salaries the vast majority of them could not earn in the private sector. As such books as Hostile Takeover, by David Sirota; The Best Congress Money Can Buy, by Greg Palast; What's the Matter with Kansas?, by Thomas Frank (awesomely brilliant), describe in detail, Congress is not engaged in a "conspiracy" against the American people; it is just that they have learned that money is the means by which they can ensure their life-long tenure in Washinton. And the best source of money are the folks who have a lot of it, the lobbyists from America's (increasingly transnationally-oriented) large industries, who tell Congress what to do.
The power flowing through a system defines the system. So said the very bright people who devised systems analysis. What could be simpler? The power in American politics is money: serving the needs of Big Money, passing laws for Big Money, and ignoring anything (like the floundering entitlements programs) not concerned with Big Money. The Republicans build on an unlikely base of the not-well-off by throwing out anti-abortion, anti-gay and pro-Fundamentalist rhetoric. The Booboisie swallow it, hook, line and sinker (see Frank, ibid;). The 26% residual support is only partly comprised of America's fat cats; there simply aren't that many of them. The rest are Falwell and Robertson's wingnut brigades.
So it's not Fascism. Fascism would almost be interesting compared to what we got. This is about as interesting as a new Starbucks opening on another corner downtown. The American Congress, and the Executive Branch (unchallenged by the Republican-stacked judiciary or by a tame and compliant press) are more simply a Chamber of Commerce. Whatever is good for business - war, defense contractors, monopoly, tax cuts, lax standards for the environment -defines their mission statement. I don't think it will end well, but neither is it reformable.
Posted by Waldenswimmer at 9:52:00 AM