Saturday, June 12, 2021

So What Else Is New In the Pathocracy?

Are we at the tipping point when outrage fatigue no longer feeds upon itself and we are forced to rise up en masse against the overlords who seemingly want to kill us?

The UFO invasion and the Wuhan lab leak stories, obviously designed to soften us up for some sort of war (economic, military, cyber, whatever)  against China and also Russia, are taking a back seat to the undeniable reality of the class war at home.

First comes the totally unshocking blockbuster news that billionaires pay virtually no income tax. Then, closely on the heels of these well-heeled heels, the mainstream media is finally noticing that private equity is gobbling up whole neighborhoods and forcing an ever-increasing majority of people not only to give up all hope of home ownership, but to pay artificially bloated rents to an anonymous group of private investors. 

It's getting so egregious that even the lesser elites of the multimillionaire class are taking vast umbrage. Of course, it's only pretend umbrage; but we should probably appreciate even fleeting lip service reactions from the so-called experts whenever we can get them. The emergence of the tax cheat and land-grabbing stories are, incidentally, conveniently coincident to President Biden being out of the country to pressure European leaders to take part in some sort of war against China while he manfully refuses to hold a joint press conference with Vlad Putin. America is back, baby! is the overarching corporate media theme of the G-7 revelries, with the sycophantic French leader Emmanuel Macron gushing he is so happy that Uncle Joe has rejoined "The Club."

If a select few oligarchs back home have to pretend to take the heat for a few days or weeks in lieu of paying their fair share, while Biden and their other enablers go about the wealth-serving work of helping US citizens to overcome their "sickly inhibitions" against the Forever Wars which promise to add many more billions to the Wall Street portfolios of these same tax-evading oligarchs, then so be it. Crocodiles are, after all, known for their tough hides.

Cue Maureen Dowd of the New York Times to write a feisty op-ed on the "fat cats on a hot tin roof."  What upstanding member of #Resistance Inc could ever have possibly guessed that there are more Donald Trumps than Donald Trump?

It turns out Donald Trump was the canary in the gold mine.

While everyone was outraged about the first modern president who refused to show his tax returns, real billionaires were skating.

 This tax return dump news should help Trump immensely when and if he is ever criminally indicted. As he said so many times, his tax returns and real estate empire might be crooked, but they are also perfectly legal thanks to the codes enacted by crooked congress critters in on the perfectly legalized grift.

 The real canary in the gold mine is that before Congress will even pretend to act and maybe tweak the tax codes just a tad, the government will move quickly to hunt down and catch and jail whoever within the IRS leaked the tyrants' tax documents to ProPublica. Whistleblowers are still the ultimate enemy of the ruling class.

My comment on the Dowd column: 

Meanwhile, the DOJ has made catching the whistleblower(s) who leaked the billionaires' tax records to journalists a top priority. Despite the Attorney General's recent vow to protect journalists, his office is doing its utmost to dry up journalistic sources through intimidation and prosecution.

The DOJ is not, for example, dropping the Trump era's extradition case against Julian Assange, whose Wikileaks organization exposed US war crimes. Chelsea Manning was jailed a second time for refusing to help the government prosecute Assange. Even a sitting member of Congress, Ilhan Omar, is being lambasted from all sides for referring, even obliquely, to America's sordid history of war crimes and human rights abuses. Shooting the messenger has always been exactly how our ruling elites roll. It's a vicious class war of the rich (through their political lackeys, propagandists and lobbyists) against the rest of us. It has many fronts, and new revelations of oligarchic perfidy come almost every single day. Private equity. for example, is depriving people even of the basic right to shelter by buying up huge swathes of real estate and then renting homes back out to the foreclosed, indebted and desperate multitudes at obscenely inflated prices. When I saw a picture the other day of Jeff Bezos gleefully feasting on a roast iguana, I thought what a perfect symbol of the neo-feudalism that's taken over this country. 
How much longer can it take before the long-overdue peasants' revolt?


Erik Roth said...

A New Yorker cartoon, by an artist whose signature is indecipherable, comes to mind.
It features an old hillbilly couple sitting beside spittoons on the front porch of their shack.
Dark clouds hover and a dog is shown dashing away, while a trail of black powder that’s lit on fire like a fuse is coming over the horizon toward a keg of it standing in front of them.
In caption, the woman asks the man: “How much longer before you act?"

DTTM said...

How much longer? A lot lot longer...

Americans who vote regularly--particularly white Republicans-- don't consider themselves to be "peasants" and act accordingly, even if it's against their economic interest to do so.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Ha-ha! Good question we could ask us all.

Marcus A. A. said...

Karen, you and I think so much alike it is amazingly refreshing to read. I thought I was the “last man standing” so to speak, do to the inaction of the masses. I keep wondering when the people of the US will have had enough of these demagogic oligarchs and publicly do away with the lot of them. True leadership, and the will of the people are
what I believe it will take, albeit I’ve been waiting 74 years to see and be apart of it. Please, please keep up the pressure, you make me nod and smile. Aloha and be safe. ( rise up! enough already)

Kat said...

The mainstream press has been covering the story of institutional investors buying up housing for years now. The New York Times Magazine had a long story-- from the perspective of renters from private equity owners last year. It was very good.
It seems like it is the latest cause among the right/"left" alliance grifters. That awful Krystal Ball even retweeted a thread by some right wing ideologue who spoke of "cabals". It was a very right wing perspective-- the oligarchs are crushing the serfs and the dream of home ownership is out of reach. Talk abut your phony populism! Home ownership gives you a "stake" in society.
It is sad that there are so many out there that take genuine frustration with the two party system and play on people's gullibility. It can be a profitable living, though.
You do understand that our institutions are very counter majoritarian, right? It is not just a matter of installing the right leadership.

Karen Garcia said...

I agree that "home ownership" is overrated. You may think you own your home, but your continued housing security is wholly dependent upon your ability to pay a 25 or 30 year mortgage, not to mention property taxes - which are the major funding mechanism of the nation's public school system. The dream of home ownership was peddled with a vengeance by George W. Bush and helped legitimate the subprime mortgage industry - which pumped up the housing bubble, and whose blatant mortgage frauds contributed to the 2007-08 financial collapse - leading in turn to the foreclosure fraud. Both left and right voters were victimized, but it was the right wing Tea Party movement that was the perfect co-optive vehicle for the rich. Obama and the Democrats did virtually nothing to counter this chain of events

The takeover of housing stock is nothing new, only saying that mainstream media are covering it more strongly than they previously had. When, for example, Obama signed a bill in 2014 tripling the number of public housing units allowed to be sold to private equity, there was little to no publicity, let alone outrage. This was probably due to its being hidden within a year-end omnibus bill - the usual tactic whereby things most people won't like are snuck through.

The terror of this so-called right-left populist alliance is shaking the elites the same way that the terror of the intra-racial labor unions shook them back in the 70s, before they were "rescued" by the bond crisis and near-bankruptcy of New York City.

The "horseshoe theory" that the "radical" right and the left are the same extremist entity is as old as the hills. There are plenty of people who've called me a closet Trumpist or worse when I critique the Dems. I tend to ignore them, and I also don't pay much attention to the alleged motivations of media celebrities. I don't watch a lot of TV, which helps. I read a lot, which helps even more in the fight to stay sane.

Karen Garcia said...


Thank you for your kind words. Being told I bring a smile brings a smile to my own face.

Kat said...

Horseshoe theory is ridiculous. You would have to believe that these media figures are leftists to begin with, which I don't. I do think that right wingers are trying to co opt the left though and some are either fine with it, or are useful idiots.
I don't think "the elites" are terrified of a right left coalition. There is no teeth to the anti elitism of the right.

Kat said...

Did you mean inter racial, by the way? I don't know if it was just fear by elites. There were more reactionary unions and members who did not want to integrate. Then there was the public v. private sector unions. I believe this was covered in Fear City (read it a few years ago) This started some of the peeling off of the white union vote by Republicans that started with Nixon.

Karen Garcia said...

"Fear City" is a must read. Also recommend "Stayin' Alive" by Jefferson Cowie. To your point about integrated unions (yeah, I meant interracial) he goes into great detail about the
integrated auto union at the Lordstown Michigan GM plant and its destruction.

Cowie also writes extensively about the movie "Norma Rae," based on the life of textile union organizer Crystal Sutton, whose factory also was totally integrated. The marketing of the film downplayed the interracial worker solidarity portrayed in the movie in favor of touting Norma Rae's individualism and feminism. I wrote about this here:

Another book now on my bedside table on the racialist divide and conquer anti-labor campaign is David Kahn's "The Hardhat Riot" which is about Richard Nixon's Southern Strategy method of dividing the white working class and the black working class. Its effectiveness is painfully obvious half a century later, when "working class" has pretty much become the corporate media code word for "bigoted white male."

Kat said...

Yes, I've readstaying alive. I wouldn't really call Norma Rae so much about feminism as about personal "empowerment". Feminism is not antithetical to class consciousness and actually is required for true class consciousness.
I'm not sure that is really what I got about the Lordstown strike from reading Stayin Alive. I ermember one of the young leaders saying that the goal was eventually no assembly line work-- that dreary jobs such as his would be replaced by better work.
From where I sit, the left/right alliance is a dead end. I live in a Republican controlled state. There is the more moderate governor and there is the truly loony legislature. The gubernatorial and senatorial candidates are all casting themselves as "anti establishment". Here are a few things they have been up to in the last month --making it harder to get SNAP benefits, cutting of the federal UI supplement, cutting off grants to public agencies to bring broadband to rural counties, forbidding the teaching of CRT (nobody is teaching a legal theory-- they don't want any discussion of structural racism/inequality. Slavery must be described as an aberration from American ideals), allowing unpermitted conceal carry, forbidding physicians who perform abortions to be employed by a university and requiring they live within a few miles of the abortion facility, criminalizing protest, allowing higher contaminant levels in water, universal vouchers, cutting state library funding, and more that I can't recollect right now. People that vote for these folks may be anti elite, but that doesn't make them class conscious. They also have a curious idea of what constitutes elite.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Outrage fatigue is a background constant about as old as the follow-on rumble from the Big Bang. Well, at least since the first caveman, with wiliness and brawn, pressed his neighbors into rendering unto him the driest cave, the freshest mastodon steak and the juiciest local beauty. Lawyers, who happened upon the scene, ruled such disparities legal. Running parallel with that remorseless social arrangement, the poor are and always have been with us. From time to time, contrarian prophets come along to say one way or another "Blessed are they who struggle through their outrage fatigue."

By accident on another blog, now that the rich-poor seesaw has again become absurdly lopsided, I came across this old chestnut. Back in 1894, Anatole France had tucked the following line into one of his novels: “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, and steal loaves of bread.”

What is to be done? How about another pay-go chicken-egg conundrum? Do we immediately feed the poor; or must we first empty the granaries of the rich? Safety net repair or revolution? I suspect nothing less than revolutions, both private and public, will ever elevate compassion to the first principal of government.

Mark Thomason said...

Karen's phrase "Pathocracy" is important.

It suggests to me an additional element, beyond just corrupt or serving the wealthy.

To me it suggests dysfunction, a fundamentally sick and dying, failing attempt to govern.

It suggests not merely doing the wrong things, but unable to do much of anything.

That of course is a classic accusation against the over used example of late Rome. However, it also describes very well the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the last Czar's Empire, and the last Chinese Emperors, and Yeltsin's drunken total failure to function.

None of the examples I see ever turned out well in some form of revival and reform. First they had to collapse of their own weight. Then usually something really ugly grabbed power, before any sanity returned, if it ever did.

Not here? Well, see Trump. Then think Ted Cruz or some alternative Trump. Say it could never happen, even if it just did happen for four years?

richard ohio said...

Current events in my part of the world are that workers are finally responding after 40 years of post Reagan years abuse. Not all ''jobs'' are about pay and work/life respect and balance are finally discussed as part of the equation. Workers are also aware that they need not turn into robots to avoid being replace by them or the threat of them.

Also it is fascinating to see how quickly the power elite is responding en masse to diversity awareness and accurate teaching of history. School boards are being inundated at meetings and with lawsuits. Just like the battles over sex ed.; Porn replaced schools and parents as the ruler in sex ed. and politics/ media news will be the new educators of history and culture. Yes, the empire without a past may be circling the drain.

Jay–Ottawa said...

OT. Hot tip on a film to view, a sleeper worth the time: 1hr, 44min. Among the issues all intertwined are immigration, customs enforcement, joblessness, homelessness, poverty, bureaucracy, feminism with a touch of LGBTQ, single parenthood, and a kind of resolution to the question: To obey or not to obey laws and regulations? A film made by Icelanders with English subtitles, except when they speak English. No violence and no schmaltz. On Netflix. Title: And Breathe Normally.