It's becoming increasingly clear we are moving into a period where anyone with centrist or moderate political leanings is now being placed in a position to have to take sides in the face of Republican Extremism, and Democratic spinelessness... we are in for... interesting times.
As a Designer by trade I tend to respond to insanity out of my immediate reach with ART. I cobbled together an image of a determined Miyamoto Musashi with his two swords and the caption "GET ANGRY! or GET EATEN! RESIST!" For whatever Gods' or principles you hold dear, GET THE POINT, and pay attention to what's happening out there.
If enough of us get angry, we might no longer be content in being led by politicians that are not leaders, who have need for decades handing the nation over to the uber-rich. And if you think that my once grudging, on-the-fence stance concerning the bailouts that greeted the Obama Administration like a toxic "Welcome to Washington. ** you." present, has tipped off the fence to "it was a bad idea after all," you'd be right. Considering the state of the economy two years later, reflected in corporate profits, crashed state budgets, flat wages, and hardly budging unemployment, and massive bonuses of taxpayer money for bankers and Wall Street CEO's it seems the historical behavior of Plutocrats for centuries remains consistent.
Guess what, folks? They kept the money.
The appalling devastation in unfolding in Japan kind of puts things in perspective. While the current political mayhem here in the States is very unsettling. It would seem that the Republicans are bound and determined to bit by bit separate us from both our wealth and our rights and dismantle what's left of our democracy in favor of a corporate run plutocracy. And the Democrats just seem to be content to let them do it.
But I might be a fiscal conservative and a social liberal, and both sides look at me like I just stepped off the saucer still trailing the wires from the anal probes, for not swallowing the entire boatload of insanity from either side.
OK, I'm going to pile it on now.
This is Michael Moore, addressing the protesters in Wisconsin. If you're not patient to watch through it, (29 min, long for YouTube...) Here's some of the gist.
"Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you'll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It's just that it's not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich." -- Michael Moore
But the takeaway is, "we want our country back, the United States of America, not the Corporate States of America. The United States of America."
I've commented that I find American Media to be utterly compromised by corporate ownership, and their behind-the-curtain ability to craft and twist the message. I find both FOX and MSBNBC to be too partisan and slanted to be proper journalism, and both offer opinion as news. But FOX takes it to an extreme level, and outright distorts and fabricates, and MSNBC does talk about things that the RIGHT would rather not have looked at, much less discussed. I've been finding the left leaning media to bitch and moan overmuch, but the behavior and extremism of the Right is pushing me towards the Left again. That said, Rachel Maddow's editorial ire is her take on the goings on in Michigan...
This one is even more disturbing, and just plain terrifying. While the media was distracted with Wisconsin, and Egypt, Libya and Oil Prices, and now Japan; the State Senate and Assembly of Michigan has voted their Republican Governor Rick Synder sweeping "emergency powers" to strip local government of elected representation and turn government functions over to Gubernatorial appointees or corporations, including termination of contracts, firing any state employee, and suspension of labor rights and elected local representation.
WHAT? HUH? And this got NO national media attention?
WOW. Just... WOW.
I recently wrote an article encouraging people to be more aware of the big picture, and to go outside the usual media. In that work I commented, "But it appears to me that the expectation of both the media and our politicians is that the general public has become increasingly helpless and dependent. I suspect that this has been encouraged-- (certainly cultivated by politicians) to make us more willing consumers and more compliant and unquestioning citizens." Ya think? The slant of the media seems to be to keep us quiet and compliant, entertained and distracted, and keep BUYING. Let the corps run everything and take care of us, but for god's sake, keep spending. But don't forget for a microsecond, that the corps OWN American Media. Which is one reason that the Right is so bound and determined to wipe Public Broadcasting, which includes NPR and PBS off the airwaves. They cannot tolerate independent media offering contrary views and voices to what's good for business.
OK, now here are two items that help to provide background, numbers and history to put this in some real context. Of course Mother Jones is routinely criticized (and dismissed) as a Leftist screamer, but they do try to live up to their motto of "Smart, Fearless journalism" ... and they do seem to practice more actual journalism and certainly show less fear than CNN or the my once beloved NY Times, which mostly just regurgitates the AP feed these days. FOX of course, trades on people fears. Where was I, oh yes, in these two articles in a "Plutocracy Now" series, Kevin Drum keeps a calm tone, but brings the history, and REAL NUMBERS to the table. The first is lengthy, but worth the read to wrap your head around where we are.
"...you have to understand two crucial things about American politics.
"The first is this: Income inequality has grown dramatically since the mid-'70s--far more in the US than in most advanced countries--and the gap is only partly related to college grads outperforming high-school grads. Rather, the bulk of our growing inequality has been a product of skyrocketing incomes among the richest 1 percent and--even more dramatically--among the top 0.1 percent. It has, in other words, been CEOs and Wall Street traders at the very tippy-top who are hoovering up vast sums of money from everyone, even those who by ordinary standards are pretty well off.
"Second, American politicians don't care much about voters with moderate incomes. Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels studied the voting behavior of US senators in the early '90s and discovered that they respond far more to the desires of high-income groups than to anyone else. By itself, that's not a surprise. He also found that Republicans don't respond at all to the desires of voters with modest incomes. Maybe that's not a surprise, either. [my emphasis] But this should be: Bartels found that Democratic senators don't respond to the desires of these voters, either. At all.
"It doesn't take a multivariate correlation to conclude that these two things are tightly related: If politicians care almost exclusively about the concerns of the rich, it makes sense that over the past decades they've enacted policies that have ended up benefiting the rich. And if you're not rich yourself, this is a problem. First and foremost, it's an economic problem because it's siphoned vast sums of money from the pockets of most Americans into those of the ultrawealthy. At the same time, relentless concentration of wealth and power among the rich is deeply corrosive in a democracy, and this makes it a profoundly political problem as well.
"How did we get here?..." --Kevin Drum
This one not only brings the NUMBERS, but it also appeals to the graphic designer in me. The the visual beauty and clarity of the graphs and illustrations by Jason Schneider Nice. But also damn disturbing.
"How Rich Are the Superrich? A huge share of the nation's economic growth over the past 30 years has gone to the top one-hundredth of one percent, who now make an average of $27 million per household. The average income for the bottom 90 percent of us? $31,244.
"Winners Take All The superrich have grabbed the bulk of the past three decades' gains.
The fact that I am writing this is a testament to what I feel is the depth of these issues. I should be frakking working.
I used to be a Middle Class professional, making a modest but honest income as a mid career Art Director. No longer. I am now essentially part of the working poor, even though my Graphic Design Studio is booked, and I work into the night and most weekends. From my post-9/11 release from corporate servitude, (and health plan... whole separate rant,) in 2001, I have seen the design industry slowly condensing, and new entries to the field are being treated essentially as serfs, or being paid the wages of receptionists - to go with their 100k in student loans. I spent the best part of 2001 to 2006 in building a freelance practice, living modestly, and slowly climbing to profitability. In 2007 and 2008, it all turned over, and my income, half of what it was as a corporate Art Director, has been flat ever since, while our costs and expenses spiral ever upwards. Our relentlessly rising real estate taxes will most certainly drive us from our home, and likely the NYC region entirely, to much more modest surroundings. I am slowly eating away our retirement and our sons' inheritance in staying afloat. Many of my friends, family and colleagues are in worse situations, some desperate, and not improving.
But when I see where the money WENT and then witness our elected leadership willfully handing the nation's wealth and power over to the corps I can't help but feel betrayed by these feckless political hacks. If I am interpreting the coverage, history and numbers I've gathered here correctly, as much as 90% of the American People are UTTERLY unrepresented in Washington. That should make you angry. Back in 2008, I was surprised that we hadn't seen torches and pitchforks marching down Broadway to Wall Street.
But perhaps that is exactly what Washington, and Wall Street needs to see.