(Written by an American expat living in the European Union).
This is a review of a recent article published by a mainstream German magazine Spiegel's English language edition which asks, what potatoes say about the State of US Democracy. This comes on the backs of a number of important articles Spiegel's written such as, The Second Gilded Age. Has America Become an Oligarchy? The Spiegel's asking what potatoes say about the State of U.S. Democracy isn't just about small potatoes. Ergo review isn't just about the potato lobby which seeks to get french fries (errr freedom fries...) on the menu of every American school lunch program from sea to shining sea because we know freedom fries are a healthy all-American food! The problem is what the German magazine Spiegel points out, when Americans have lost control of our democracy when we can't even keep obviously unhealthy food saturated in fat and carbohydrates off school lunch menus from coast to coast and get them replaced with non-starch based healthier foods. What does that say for the state of American democracy?
The Spiegel tells us what we already know, that is we are no longer in control of our democracy. The lobbyists are. Clearly at no point in American history can that be clearer than it is today during the 2012 election cycle, which is bought by private capital, mostly financial capital. In the most expensive de-policitized election in American history (costing over $2 billion dollars). In an American society which is completely atomized, where millions of people in anger and confusion no longer know the way out. What they do know is that the lobbyists representing the 1% with endless super-pac money to spend are on a winning streak. Everybody gets that in America today, even Mr Potatohead gets it.
Spiegel quote: "The debate in the US Congress last winter over whether potatoes should be curbed in school lunches is emblematic of the modern-day crisis in US governance. Lobbyists and other powerful interest groups dominate the tenor of the debate. Unsurprisingly, most Americans have lost confidence in their leaders."The German magazine Spiegel boldly goes where no American mainstream press outlet has ever gone before. By boldly stating the simple truth which is that American elites have become the enemies of the ordinary American working class people. So it is that American elites are holding 59 million working class Americans hostage, as they do not have medical insurance in the only for-profit medical system of any major industrialized country in the world. Concurrently America is the only major industrialized country in the world that doesn't offer job protected paid maternity leave by right of law. In America today, the ranks of the nouveau poor are growing. So it is that we have 45 million Americans on food stamps. Whereas in the European Union, everyone has access to a medical plan and working parents receive paid maternity leave. In the European Union people are not degraded by using food stamps, they do not have a need to infantilize the poor and humiliate them by using food stamps in the grocery checkout line.
Spiegel quote:Part 2 Enemies of Ordinary PeopleWhat has America come to when everything has to be reduced to a bumper sticker slogan to be heard? It's a justifiable question that Spiegel asks. What happens to public debate when we have the attention span of a bumper sticker slogan. Who does that benefit? Clearly not the 99% of working class people.
"Since the eruption of the financial crisis, paranoia has taken hold in American politics. Americans' faith in institutions has been shaken. The government has become the adversary of the citizens, and the elites the enemies of ordinary people. Rallying cries characterize both left-wing and right-wing protest movements, from the Tea Party to Occupy Wall Street. Those who do not shout these slogans, at least in part, find it difficult to be heard at all."
Spiegel quote: Pricey PoliticsAt this point this diary will make cursory mention of the concept of sophistry, which roughly may be described as an argument appearing to be correct in form, which is however usually subtle or not so subtlely flawed, and is used primarily for the purpose of deception. Yes there are healthy ways to cook potatoes. However when we put too many carbohydrates and too much starch on a school lunch menu, this cannot be seen as a healthy alternative, save the sophistry of the potato lobby, which is clearly emblematic of the problem with K Street lobbyists, wherein they move to buy our politicians, in what may only be described as a legalized system of bribery, as soon as we can elect them. This threatens the enterprise of American democracy, as exemplified by the quote below, which shows us that the public can't even determine the school lunch menu anymore, even those the science is clear and childhood obesity is becoming an epidemic. The simple truth is America is becoming a government for the rich, by the rich and if you don't believe that consider that the majority of the members of Congress today are all millionaires. As such they represent their class values, rather than our class family values, that is what they put on the menu. But then again let's remember that their kids don't eat our of public school cafeterias, because their kids attend private schools.
"Politics has become more expensive. These days, a politician needs more and more money to be heard at all. A presidential candidate now has to raise more than $1 billion, a successful Senate campaign costs about $8.5 million, and even a seat in the House of Representatives can't be had for less than $1.4 million anymore. It's no accident that almost all presidential candidates today are millionaires."
Spiegel quote: "It's the core of his argument against the new guidelines that President Barack Obama wants to see enacted for school cafeterias. Obama had tried to separate healthy from unhealthy food in school cafeterias and have more vegetables served to students instead of just pizza and French fries. But Udall has gained the support of seven other senators in his bid to block Obama's guidelines. Instead, he has drafted Senate Amendment 804 to the 2012 spending bill for the Agriculture Department.Be that as it may, this is still America and it is still a country of one person, one vote. If you want to colloquially put screw up the American plutocracy vote! Don't just take a friend with you to the polls, take the whole neighborhood.
Every French fry and every Tater Tot, the 61-year-old politician argues, was once a potato, which makes it a vegetable, just like broccoli, green beans, spinach or carrots. Banning French fries, he says, is basically discriminating against potatoes just because they're sometimes dipped in oil. At issue, says Udall, is the equal treatment of vegetables, and the fact that even a potato has vitamins, as does pizza -- because of the tomato sauce."
Here is the link to the full Spiegel article below: Let's remember that democracy in America is never small potatoes!