Arianna told Aaron that “we are in danger of becoming an America with the rich and the poor. And at the heart of America has always been a middle class. They've been the foundation of our Democracy..." She then goes on to imply that the American Dream has gone belly up, our Democracy is failing, and success in Third World America is now a matter of luck. She further notes that for ordinary people, the odds are not good.
This is all Old News here at DOTE. I don't mean to criticize Huffington when I note that. In fact, I'm glad she's saying what she's saying. Today I want to expand a bit on her remarks. You can read more about Arianna's views in my Shorting The Middle Class (in which I beat up CNBC's Money Honey Maria Bartiromo).
First, there is the question of whether we still live in a Democracy. My answer is an emphatic No, we don't. I characterize America as a waning Empire. The proof of that can be found everywhere. You can't leave your house without tripping over some kind of Imperial calamity—your need to drive in a country which produces only 1/3rd of the oil it consumes, your life in the suburban wasteland (Wendy's, Petco, Sam's Club, Target), your life in the urban wasteland (slums, the homeless, empty decaying buildings), etc.
An Empire is incompatible with a Democracy. Our democratic institutions had been decaying over many years. The Supreme Court finally pulled the plug on our comatose Democracy when they declared an end to limits on corporate donations to political campaigns earlier this year.
Thus I was pleased when Arianna Huffington did not suggest that there are political solutions to our problems. Let's make that a bullet point—
- There are no political solutions
After every election, some of the names & faces change up on Capitol Hill, but the political parties & their Imperial agendas do not. Once in Washington, new representatives quickly figure out how to live within the Imperial Bubble. They have to do that if they are going to be "successful" there. But let's go even further—
- Politics makes you stupid
The very moment you join the Democrats or the Republicans is also the very moment when your brain switches OFF. A modern-day Hamlet, someone like Paul Krugman, thinking of our economic problems, asks To stimulate or not to stimulate, that is the question.
But of course it makes no difference. That is a political question, part of the Imperial agenda, based on a now discredited economic theory favored by liberal Democrats. If you are among the ever-growing number of poor or heavily indebted (e.g. college graduates) forced to live in the Real World, and not one of the privileged few who draw their ever-growing wealth from the Money World, then you are very likely fucked regardless of whether the Federal government spends (borrows) more money. (If you have not read my blog post The Money World, you should.) Success for most people is now a matter of luck, as Arianna said.
Let's take a more concrete example. All the political mediocrities are trying to score points off the oil spill. There is a cacophony of shrill sounds, an orgy of finger pointing. The Democrats did it! No, the Republicans did it! (Everybody agrees that BP did it.) The response was timely! No, the response was slow! Obama should get angry! No, Obama really is angry!
This is all noise, it is Sound & Fury signifying nothing. Politics makes you stupid.
There are two and only two issues regarding the tragic oil leak—the environmental issue and oil dependency issue. The first is obvious (oil-covered birds) but the second can't be talked about among politicians because, frankly, they all did it! (A third issue, lax regulation by the Minerals Management Service, is part of our Imperial decline.)
For the last 30 years, our political leaders, regardless of party affiliation, have steadfastly ignored our growing dependence on foreign oil. It was our growing consumption and declining production, along with other unfavorable geopolitical factors, that forced us to drill in the ultra-deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico to get our drug fix.
Our politicians listened to kiss-ass Imperial courtiers like Daniel Yergin, who thought our new-found ability to drill in these waters was a great thing—this was exactly the message these Washington assholes wanted to hear. The world will never run out of petroleum exploitable hydrocarbons! Energy Independence! A Free Lunch each and every day! Now the chickens are coming home to roost, but what politician will dare to speak the truth?
Let's put up a final bullet—
- Don't vote (or pretend it makes any difference if you do)
So when Arianna Huffington talked about "solutions" to our woeful, deteriorating situation, she talked about how we can help each other, not voting. You can listen to her views in the video below. Her view, and mine, boils down to this: As the Empire declines, all we have is each other.
My way of helping others is writing this blog. And if you think about it, other people is all we ever really have, unless you think money can buy you love.