I was hoping these issues would be addressed somehow and while I have seen and heard some talk about these issues, mostly I hear people talk about what they heard on FOX or from the tea party.  ‘Ideas’ that seem to me have as little to do with reality as does green cheese on the moon.

A wit once said that the only reason to have laws is to keep from people killing each other in the streets.
By extension this has come to mean preventing people from pulling one over on or taking undue advantage of each other.  Examples in the marketplace range from things like identity theft to simple things like ignoring ads on tv of stuff we know we probably shouldn’t get.
But people want our money and while the salesmen will say it is  ‘in exchange for a service or quality product’, the advertisers know that if our emotions are engaged before we even see the product, they’ll get paid before we know whether we really like the product or not. [Cue ad for the new iPad]

A great example is the recent senate special election in Massachusetts.  Martha Coakley may have arguably been the better quality ‘product'(more experienced, all the connections and so on), but her ad men (if she had any) failed to engage the emotions of the electorate, while Scott Brown’s obviously did.  Sight unseen, a politician that effectively appeals to our emotions wins the seat.  I’m not against the guy. We’ll see how he does.  Obama could be accused of the same sort of thing.  People complain about the lack of transparency in politics, about the lobbyists and corporate power helping themselves at the pork troughs and so on.
But I think we as a nation fail to recognize the lack of transparency and openness especially in the marketplace.  Especially in hot button emotional issues like security, health care, and apparently even
insurance industries.

Sure, we know there’s a ton of stuff on tv, say, that we probably shouldn’t ought to buy, ads deluge us all the time and we think we’re pretty good at ignoring the ambulance chasers, turning it off, tuning it out.
But if we really want it […] we won’t listen to anyone about prudence or responsibility.  In America we like to say and think it can be ours.   We’ll go without the things we need to have the thing we want. That’s irrational and the ad men know it.  Have known it.
Until recently, people would put their homes up for second and third mortgages to get a new flat screen tv , a computer and a new car, or that vacation we never take, for example.
People all over going against their own best financial interests to make them feel temporarily happier.  Not everyone to be sure, but we all know none of us is immune.

All our lives this has been the case.  Some would say it’s good, it’s part of our culture, we spend and borrow on credit and so on, keeps the economic wheel in spin.  But it is a nation-wide legacy of borrowing against the future.  Putting things we don’t need on credit.  Not just the government, even the taxpayers enthused in it.  Nation-wide.
Just a few years ago as great an authority as Dick Cheney used to crow in agreement with Reagan and Alexander Hamilton before him saying that national budgetary deficits were a good thing.  Not widely touted in the press was just who exactly was extending that credit to the government for, this time, our wars.  Turns out it was largely our Asian business partners. We think we’re in trouble now.  When China decides our T-bills aren’t worth the paper they’re written on, we may have to pull our heads out of the
sand only to learn TRUE indebtedness.  Hope that day doesn’t come.
In Reagan’s day, the chickens came home to roost on Black Monday and afterward with the S&L scandal.   And I haven’t even mentioned the current bailouts, TARP and the various stimulus measures.
But rather than being doom and gloom I wanted to say something positive and encouraging.  Things like labels on products with the ingredients on them have been a good start toward providing some openness and transparency in the marketplace and a good example of how to move forward.  Government institutions like the FDA and the USDA, the Chamber of Commerce and even some parts of the Dept of Justice, while notoriously bureaucratic, still keep sawdust out of the meat, water out of the gas and
hopefully health practices from becoming injurious (even if in the latter case it is often sadly after the fact).
By and large, new products in what some may call the ‘health-food market’ have a vested interest in transparency itself as they advocate and sell organic and simpler goods.  ‘Getting back to nature’ and all that.
Not all of course, every industry has its swindlers.  A case in point are those branding items they sell as ‘organic’ without having any certification by any authoritative third-party (like the GOV, like the FDA though there are others) stating simply and clearly just what is meant by the term ‘organic’.  For example, if the product is wheat, does organic wheat mean the soil has never had chemical pesticides put into it, etc.

And if certain industries want to (and boy do they ever), they can lobby with enough money and have their own definitions of ‘what is what’ put into law, unless that system itself is changed.

So people have to be educated, industries have to be re-made credible and government has to help put laws on the books to keep people from being swindled.  And the anger at wall street is just that feeling of injustice that I mentioned at the top.  This all should be plainly obvious, but, we live in a culture where many in the marketplace feel it is in their best interest to swindle the customer with impunity and without the customer knowing they’re being swindled or over-extended or however you want to put it.  It is unjust. And our emotions are constantly being appealed to in order to make the sale.   From people being queued for receiving a ct-scan when they have  a back-ache, to rebates on flatscreens designed to get you to buy, to mutual funds that have been hedged against (whether we knew it or not), mortgage securities that have been given a AAA-rating by the feds when they don’t deserve a C, to peanut butter with mouse shit in it and so on.
Not because the business owner is necessarily a cheat exactly, but because as many of them see it they can simply improve their game and reap more profits by maximizing the benefits in the pitch to the consumer and minimizing any side-effects.  With more sales, more products used or sign-ups etc they increase their businesses market value over last year’s projection, thereby get bigger loans and expand their business next year.

People complain about injustice or ineffectiveness from government but no one talks about these obvious examples in the private sector.  If they know anything about it, very often they’ll say, ‘that’s how it works’.
One reason is the ad men’s appeal to our emotions and our inability to recognize it for what it is when it’s important.

Another goes back to the popularization of the myth of ineffective, intrusive or corrupt government itself.
I say myth because, as I’ve learned, the effectiveness of government depends on who is in place in government.  Reagan got elected largely on that quip saying they were going to Washington, not to fix government, but to dissolve it.  That where he came from, when the G-men showed up saying they wanted to fix things, it could only mean trouble.  I look at the teabaggers and wall street and fox news of today and I think perhaps that was his greatest legacy.  He’s famously known for saying ‘Ketchup is a vegetable’.  It’s not true obviously, but he said that to show that people of his era already knew what’s good for them and they didn’t need the government to show thru the FDA about four food groups to learn what’s good for them.  Maybe people of his generation did.  We have instead found out that without any sense of what facts are and what standards of correct labeling are and what a reductio ad absurdum argument is that many in the industry will just sell what sells easiest regardless if it’s good for anybody or not.

From Ketchup and Little Debbies to cigarettes and repackaged security assets.
‘The salesman says it’s what I want and he seems like a nice guy’.
‘What’s that?  Three-Card Monte?  What’s that?’

As a result, with a vengeance, the Right has tried to break up big government in every area but, tellingly, in the military and the biggest businesses.  They’ve made government seem to be the problem, they’ve made the market infallible even after it breaks itself through its OWN avarice and they’ve made the mis-educated of us crow only for the principles of the richest of us despite and counter to our own simpler best interests.
Because our emotions have been played with and spun up and we don’t remember how to take a step back, breathe and be rational and get educated.  To stand up and tell our neighbor they’re flat wrong and don’t have the facts.  That getting screwed may be what we’re used to but isn’t at all good for us, even if some people like it.  I’d say they’re liars and that it is the nice (or passionate) guy on the tv or radio or
internet that’s screwing with our emotions and guiding our thoughts and getting us to say and do things that our parents and grandparents would be horrified to see us do.

Another goal of breaking up big government is in cutting its funding, Congress makes government itself less and less effective in the things it has proven in the past it was quite capable of doing.  Like spending our way out of the Depression, by generating jobs.  Or alternatively, like cutting funding to useful GOV bureaucracies that act as the last defense against allowing salmonilla infested tomatoes to be sold to salsa makers or restaurants or checking chinese dry wall at the border before it makes us sick when it gets wet.
Like federal regulators turning their head when they know or should know those assets are not worth what they are said to be.

“What are you worried about?  We’re making money!  You’re a fool not to get on board.”

If regulating agencies had been funded instead of downsized in the Bush era or if these trading activities weren’t allowed to be so risky in the first place and hence so profitable in that cycle… it’s an open question if we would even had to suffer this global economic disaster.

Reagan was also famous for saying, “Facts are stupid things.”  Rings right along with the ketchup thing in a way, but with a distinct difference in intent.  His intelligent fans understood he meant that a fact can be interpreted in different ways.  The fact itself is dumb and won’t know how it is used.  All of us citizens in this country, in this marketplace are seen as facts by the industries, useful only until we leave the market — the job market — or until we die.  While we are sick, we are useful facts to the medical and insurance industries.  While we are dumb we are useful so long as our nerves can be appealed to and convinced.  They’ve been molding and shaping their technique for over a generation and they have plenty of money to spend on it.

Another reason people feel the sting of injustice in our current state is that if government itself needs fixing or alternatively more breaking — more defunding — and we are all so used to getting what we want when we want, we see the slowness of change in government as another example of its ineffectiveness.  Intransigent bureaucratic corruption and the like.  We used to say that you can’t turn this ship on a dime and that was on an aircraft carrier which is really big and takes miles typically for one to turn around.
The government is a lot bigger and will take more time to turn around.

I believe the right want to break the government or as they like to quote Reagan, “Government is the problem not the solution”.  Or “Starve the beast” like Cheney would say.  Look honestly at their policies of the last 30 years and the conclusions and effects are glaringly obvious.
If people can’t see this much then I have to conclude, with facts, dispassionately, that they think they still have a chance in playing the game of the Big Industries, getting screwed long enough to learn how to be the screwer and not the screwed up.

They’ve been laughing at us all the way to the bank, all our lives.
With the increase in the disparity of wealth over the last 10-15 years and with the Supreme Court’s recent ruling removing limits on any national or local campaign’s funding, the education battle will be more difficult still.  But we must.  We’re backed so far in the corner, there’s nowhere else to go but through it.  Going postal, or like Scott Roeder, going rogue or vigilante is still not a responsible option.   If we still want to keep the USA a country bound by the rule of laws.

And despite Rick Perry, Gov of TX wishes, or Glenn Beck’s, claiming the divine right of ‘austerity measures’ or secession or demonizing half the population isn’t a realistic option either.  And they need to be told so.

kspopulist

kspopulist