NPR news has deteriorated to the point that I can barely stand them anymore but do occasionally listen when I am driving somewhere. Yesterday (MLK Day) I listened to NPR’s replay of the BBC’s World Service, which had some commentary on the Oxfam study on concentration of wealth. It was a masterful work of propaganda for controlling the boundaries of debate.
I updated the links in response to criticism in comments.....didn't realize the link wasn't done correctly. (Haven't done a diary in ages.)
Also, the NPR report must have been some hybrid of the BBC and their own report. The BBC report on the web is much better. Sorry but I can't find the exact transcript that was broadcast.
Please follow below the orange swirly for the Geonomist's take.....
The story begins covering the obscene distribution of wealth in the world and has the initial appearance of supporting a progressive issue. (This supports the ‘Liberal NPR’ tag.) But then they invite three different commentators on to give a ‘variety’ of opinions. (I can’t find a link identifying the ‘experts’ and didn’t take notes while driving.) Note the nod to multiple points of view. But the varied commentators all were in vigorous agreement on a couple of points.
1. It isn’t productive to delve into how the super-rich got that way; it is much more sensible to study a few case studies of how some small group somewhere managed to beat the odds.
2. Redistribution is unthinkable and would be terrible for wealth production, even for the poors. Redistribution is smeared through a few historical examples while ignoring the many successful examples.
3. All commentators ignored through silence the role of government in assisting the concentration of wealth.
4. Any solution must rely on the kindness of the oligarchs in redistributing ‘their’ money as an act of charity, which is necessary for the system to function well.
This is a case study in how the 'news' is used to shape people’s understanding of what is possible, while appearing to be oh-so-reasonable. The commentators are all using that gentle, faux-concerned tone of voice with that subtle condescension toward anyone suggesting more radical action. Note the complete avoidance of a few clear truths.
1. The super rich get that way through monopoly power, which is a product of government. Different policies could easily treat monopoly power differently. Much of the super-rich fortunes are obtained through privileges, theft and bribery. (But let’s not go there….)
2. Direct taxation of monopoly privileges (particularly natural resources) does not interfere with wealth production and will likely stimulate greater economic activity. Citing crude examples of socialist wealth seizures does not undermine this key economic truth.
3. What is not discussed may be more important than what is discussed. Note the appearance of a variety of opinion. But isn’t it interesting that they all agree on the imperative of continuing the existing system, while diverting everyone’s attention to a few exceptions that could never be generalized?
4. A system that relies on charity of sociopaths is no workable system at all, yet is all these ‘experts’ propose. Charity between people may be a find an wonderful thing but it is no pillar upon which to base an economic system.
We are so all so bombarded with propaganda daily that perhaps it is futile to deconstruct one example like this one. But if any real progressive solutions are to gain traction we simply have to find a way to counter the bullshit being slung from every corporate media outlet 24/7. And really the explicit right-wing FOX’s and CNN’s are a minor part of the problem. Lots of persuadable people listen to NPR and other outlets convinced that they are hearing a more reasoned view while actually only being hosed with well-crafted right-wing propaganda.
Should we start a special series on Kos to deconstruct the propaganda?