November 8, 2003

Corporate Dystopia

The story I am about to tell is true. No names are changed because there are no innocent.

It's about Republican-conservative-supply sider-fascists, whatever you call the rich 5% or so that owns and operates America, with their many slaves and minions (or is that mignons?). And it is particularly about the Wall Street Journal. Friday's Wall Street Journal.

If you want to imagine a Republifascist's perfect world, it would seem reasonable to look at its policies and what kinds of world they produce.

Using George W. Bush as the model -- because he is clearly the agent of this top 5% -- one could more or less construct the perfect world according to the Republicans. It's a place where a very few people have a tremendous amount of money, and power is very concentrated.

Somehow this group that took control of practically the entire government in the 1990s doesn't seem to be able to enjoy its massive concentrations of wealth unless a lot of other people are suffering miserably from lack of the necessities of life. It's not fun if you can't flaunt it in front of the less fortunate.

So put people in prisons instead of schools or jobs, even though it's more expensive in the short term and incalculably and irreversibly damaging to the quality of the society in the long run. That's the Republican way. Think short term, think fearfully, spitefully, selfishly. It's the siege mentality, a vision of scarcity. Grab everything you can, you may never get another chance. Be careful, someone's always after you. Hold on tight. Lock your doors. Put up chains, alarms, barbed wire. Make sure you have plenty of guns.

The logic of the Bush/fascist policies escapes me unless you imagine it as the behavior of very disturbed people who hold the kinds of attitudes described in the previous paragraph. None of it works. Their economic policies don't work for anyone but the little clique that is grabbing everything that isn't nailed down while the roof is falling in. Like there's no tomorrow. It's understandable that someone like Dick Cheney, after about 40 heart operations might feel that way.

The logic is not so hard to figure out, but its behavioral manifestations at times approach the bizarre. Lately the right wing, which means virtually the entire broadcast media corps, has been blasting this third quarter growth data hysterically, as if they only have a few weeks to make hay out of it. And they probably do. There is very little reason to believe that this pimple on the growth curve is going to be sustained, or lead to anything more substantial. There is nothing under those figures except a couple of accounting accidents, like people receiving their tax returns, which isn't much if you make under $200,000 a year.

But even if some divine intervention causes this "growth" to continue, it is not good news unless you are among the wealthiest minority. It doesn't take a lot of piercing analysis to see that jobs are going down the drain with an astonishing rapidity, even though a lot of money is obviously being made by some people. Industries are being exported overseas because the U.S. government does not look out for its people, but only for the multinational corporations who fund the politicians' campaigns and their careers. Any policy may quickly be understood if seen as a means to further enrich and enhance the power of the top 5%, particularly the president's clique, and the network that extends from them. It's unfortunate that people are killed in war, but it makes the stock market rise. That means prosperity.

But back to today's Wall Street Journal. This little group that shares this ideology, the religion of The Market, needs to find as many ways to hype this third quarter surge as it can. Remember, these are people in whose language the recession long ago. This is The Recovery. It just happens to be, incidentally, a "jobless recovery." In other words, no recovery for jobs, in fact, continued decline, hemorrhaging job loss in this great "recovery". And now that the great righteous right (including Clinton) has "ended welfare as we know it", we haven't ended poverty, or homelessness, or joblessness, so we seem to be reverting back to a pre-New Deal world, a sort of Dust Bowl migration world. But this is no cause for distress, not in the Bush world. Unless the masses start to get too restless and cause trouble.

The few beneficiaries of the alleged recovery want to convince the rest of us that things are great and we are in the midst of a "Bush Boom." This is already a logo theme for the coming season. But they are quickly running out of ideas for how to hype this. On day three or so of the Great Boom of 2003, or the Bush Boom, as historians may alternately call it, the Wall Street Journal was really scratching the bottom of the manure can to find some way to stick this Third Quarter Productivity legend in its primo front page right column position.

The headline says "Behind Surging Productivity: The Service Sector Delivers." (The service sector is at a lower wage scale than the manufacturing jobs office jobs that are being lost. Hence, less labor cost, more "productivity".) Then under the headline: "Firms Once Thought Immune to Boosting Worker Output Are Now Big Part of Trend". The article then begins: "For more than 200 years, 'The Marriage of Figaro' has been performed with a full orchestra. But when the Opera Company of Brooklyn stages the Mozart opera in January, the pit will be occupied by only 12 musicians -- and one technician overseeing a computer program that plays all the other parts."

Great. That's the Republican, supply sider's idea of progress. A step toward the Republican utopia. The worship of the bottom line and tight focus on arcane economic formulas that would lead one to believe that this half live-half recorded orchestral performance is evidence that "productivity" is higher and therefore we are experiencing economic prosperity, even though it feels like poverty.

I am not making this up. Look on the front page of Friday's Wall Street Journal, top right.

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