Thursday, August 7, 2014

America Is Bummed

Not that we really needed an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll to tell us this stuff:

More people than ever before in the history of the greatest exceptional g-d-blessed nation that the world has never known now think that their children will be worse off than they are. The magic number is three-quarters, or 76% (as an aide-memoire for the pop quiz, just remember the magical year that the Declaration of Independence was signed, 1776).

  Also for the first time, most Americans now believe that record wealth disparity is a driver of the lousy economy. And for one more time in a whole series of many times, most Americans blame their elected officials for the perpetuation of the chronic lousiness. But in a deviation, more people are now including their own particular pork-barrel pols in the despised category.

Despite the vaunted recovery (of the One Percent) two-thirds of us still feel mired in a recession. Forty per cent of us report that at least one member of our family has lost a job in the past five years. Most of us feel that the country is in decline.

So, while Americans are bummed, their disaffection does have a healthy basis in reality. It's what they call an exogenous depression. It's a malady caused by outside forces. Therefore, these polls are actually a faint sign of hope: the majority of people at least are correct about the root causes.

The people win when the people refuse to blame themselves, despite the best efforts of the propagandists of Bootstrapville. 

It even sounds like the "folks" are morphing from depression into anger and actually directing their rage at all the right culprits.

Whether the people can resist the usual "divide and conquer" tactics commonly used by our leaders whenever the national mood turns sour and their power is threatened remains to be seen.

 Do we turn against each other when politicians manipulate such hot button issues as immigration, or do we embrace solidarity and finally turn against our common plutocratic enemy?

Never say never. Strange things happen.


Denis Neville said...

Whoa, they pissed in our cistern?

Americans are increasingly blaming their elected officials, including their own particular pork-barrel pols!

Politicians, so used to seeing Americans preferring excuses and finger-pointing over debate and compromise, appear to be unperturbed. So the beat goes on. They will continue to serve their own self-interests as long as they believe they can convince voters with their propaganda that someone else is to blame. When in doubt about who's to blame, blame Putin! Everyone loves a witch hunt as long as it's someone else's witch being hunted. It’s easier to fool people than it is to convince them that they’ve been snookered.

Aren’t America’s ignorant and apathetic masses also to blame?

“Every shortcoming of American governance is related in some fashion to the knowledge deficit of the public – if only because there is no widespread indignation at policies shaped by elected officials who suffer from the same intellectual blind spots as their constituents.” - Susan Jacoby, The Age of American Unreason

Our democracy can be only as good as the quality and wisdom of "We, The People," who are the source of its legitimacy.

Richard Shenkman, “How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter,” argues that there is too much focus of what ails American on corrupt politicians, the sycophantic media, and all the other egregious forces that lead voters by the nose.

“Does the electorate really know what it's talking about?” asks Shenkman. “Plenty of things are hurting American democracy - gridlock, negative campaigning, special interests - but one factor lies at the root of all the others, and nobody dares to discuss it. American voters, who are hiring the people who'll run a superpower democracy, are grossly ignorant.”

Shenkman’s five defining characteristics of stupidity: ignorance (of newsworthy events, of how the government works), negligence (failing to seek reliable sources of information), wooden-headedness (refusing to change beliefs in the face of contrary evidence), shortsightedness (supporting policies harmful to long-term national interests), and bone-headedness (believing stereotypes, simplistic policy diagnoses, and the like).

If Americans want a nation of smart voters who can't be played like a fiddle, they can certainly have one. Do they turn against each other when politicians manipulate such hot button issues as immigration, or do they embrace solidarity and, finally, turn against their common plutocratic enemy?

The truth will set them free, but first it will piss them off.

“Usually when people are sad, they don't do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.” - Malcolm X

James F Traynor said...

Yeah, hey, Karen! Well said. Is that a glimmer way down the tunnel? Hell, even a firefly would do, 'twould serve. Does this mean that Saunders or Warren stand a chance in a primary?

Fred Drumlevitch said...

Yes, Denis, for too many Americans, ignorance is bliss. Or at least the norm.

Recently, I saw a distant cousin who was visiting Tucson (his parents still live here). Though he is a professional in his late forties, and generally would be considered middle-of-the-road politically (by today's standards), he nevertheless did not know who Joseph Stiglitz was! (He had heard of Krugman, though). I was, and remain, astounded. I could understand his disagreeing with Stiglitz, if that had been the case; his father used to (and may still) subscribe to the Cato Institute newsletter. But the reality wasn't that my cousin disagreed with Stiglitz, whether in small measure or in large --- it was that he hadn't heard of him! Talk about ideological Balkanization!

Well, at least I did something that might somewhat counter it. When the time came, I sent him off with a bundle of progressive reading matter for his flight home! Time will tell as to whether it will have any lasting effect.

Further evidence abounds as we move into the primary season. Campaign signs are prominently displayed at many intersections --- yet they convey virtually no information that might assist in a rational choice. Their continued use in today's intensive data analytics environment must mean that they must significantly work, and, prima facie, it cannot be via rational processes.

Denis Neville said...

“Propaganda is a soft weapon; hold it in your hands too long, and it will move about like a snake, and strike the other way.” - Jean Anouilh

Dissimulation by omission…

Never have so many been manipulated so much by so few.

Yves Smith @ Naked Capitalism writes, “One rapidly escalating trend among officials and government agencies is making more and more information, including decades-old material, either impossible to obtain or accessible only to journalists who are “trusted,” meaning they are deferential to authority and will put the best possible spin on what they are fed.”

David Sirota explains how the game is played,

“As states move to hide details of government deals with Wall Street and as politicians come up with new arguments to defend secrecy, it was revealed this week that many government information officers block specific journalists they don't like from accessing information. The news comes as 47 federal inspectors general sent a letter to lawmakers criticizing "serious limitations on access to records" that they say have "impeded" their oversight work.”

And from the American Historical Association:

“In May 2014, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the CIA that a volume of its 30-year-old history of the 53-year-old Bay of Pigs Invasion could "confuse the public" and should thus be kept secret; that any document the agency deems "predecisional" can be withheld ad infinitum.”

In these ways covering the criminal political elite in America disappears down the memory hole. By censoring information they prevent the public from becoming true critical thinkers and effective American citizens. Complacent, non-questioning citizens are what the elites want.

The plutocrats continue to pee on us and the media stenography of the scripted partisan talking points tells us it is raining.

annengimg said...

'We're not in Kansas anymore'.

Hillary famous quote certainly pertains to our being informed, to voting, or to even caring deeply,


We no longer live in a Democracy. We Americans also do not get real news from our corporate media. We get either infotainment or propaganda serving the Powers-That-Be, the Empire.

So please don't criticize fellow Americans too harshly who would give one hell of a damn IF they were even allowed to understand a shred of what's actually going on. We have to piece it together from multiple sources and coming from differing slants (business, religious, economic, security, etc) and we end up seeing different parts and not the whole beast in the living room. That beast is pulling the strings of the entire world, killing people and destroying governments for their personal enrichment and that of the Empire they serve.

The result is a divided populace. That is not an accident. Anyone who could could help shine a bright light on it, such as Noam Chomsky, are given short shrift. Americans have also been successfully programmed to not listen or to find fault if someone doesn't wear their gang colors. Loyalty to subsets rather than to country even defines our politicians who should know better and who even take an oath to the Constitution. Some even admit loyalty to another nation. Even our President was recorded as proudly saying he had the DNA of his favorite country in his blood. (Hint - it's not Ireland)

Whatever works to keep Americans divided serves the PTB. If someone doesn't know or recall who Joseph Stiglitz is, maybe they do know who Aaron Swartz or Rachel Corrie were and how/why they died. Some things leave a bigger impression on the mind and heart than others.

Isaiah Earhart said...


I love your comment.

Personally, I think the time is long overdue that we purge economists' thought from intellectual discourse and policy proposals. Some would think that the purging economists idea would be terrible, as the "intellectual elite" understand that the Empire's policy is an economic policy.....

But you can ask an economist what honey is worth anywhere in the world- and they will have an answer in a matter of minutes. Ask any economist anywhere in the world what a bee is worth- and their head may explode.

ste-vo said...

And what did Jane Jacob's criticize in her last and very prescient book "Dark Age Ahead?" Bad science - Elevation of economics as the main "science" to consider in making major political decisions.