Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for July 16, 2010
Yowsa! Yowsa! Step right up, Suckers! The National Casino is now open for business. That annoying “economic downturn” is over, the one that saw you living in a tent down by the river after losing your home and job and family. So put away your sad, frowny face. Happy times are here again! Wall Street is hiring. Yowsa!
Yes, the Street of Dreams, our National Roulette Wheel is once again cranking up to roll it out for the mega banksters who helped bring this country to the brink of financial ruin. The Street’s wholly owned Congressfolk have whittled down tough new regulations into something that can be quickly loopholed and ignored (Whew, that was a close one. We thought Congress was serious about all this. Bwahahahah. Champagne all ‘round!), so the games for the mega wealthy, the mega Corps, the major players, can begin.
Naturally, Americans, like Pavlov’s dog, have been trained for the past 30 years to believe that list includes the likes of you and me, you know, regular working folks. In our unbounded delusional optimistic folly, we think we’re all Rockefellers. How else to explain how easy it was to pass “estate tax” breaks for the mega-wealthy, for example. Frame it as a “death tax,” forget to explain fully that the breaks would never, ever apply to the likes of you and me, and, voi la!, support for this tax break remains high. Why? Because, in our heart of hearts, we actually think that tax break applies to us, or might apply to us one day. And if we question that tax-break, we’re accused of engaging in “Class War,” or we’re “Socialists!” It’s a shell game played so well by Corporate Republicans. Just look at how well it worked on and for “Joe the Plumber.”
And so it goes. Trickle up wealth from poorer to richer, supported by the Average (Poorer) Joe because he thinks he’s gonna be the recipient of this trickle-up since he’s convinced that he’s one of the haves and soon-to-have-mores. Untrue, but since when did “reality” mean much in our collective national delusions?
But our love affair with Wall Street never was sane. More like a crazy passion for a serial abuser or an addiction by a compulsive gambler. Wall Street always was the guy your Mother warned you against: a fickle, greedy, untrustworthy, corrupted man in an expensive suit, pomander in his pointed moustache. But every generation we run off with this guy, convinced, against all odds, that this time it’ll be different.
It never is.
And now it’s starting again. Not a day goes by that the media doesn’t report on every tick and twitch of the stock market. The day begins with the report and ends with it. As if those chirons running under the talking TV heads actually meant something. After all, like the Lilies of the Field, “Wall Street” neither spins nor toils. It does not build bridges or roads, it does not teach a child, nor does it start a home grown business that will employ Average Joes like you and me. What it does do is turn fake money into real money for a tiny handful of top players, while leaving the real world with fake, worthless money and a deadly culture that mistakes fake for real.
We can see the end result all around us -- a real world beggared, full of fallen bridges, pot-holed roads, overcrowded schools, a populace growing poorer and poorer. In short, a reality that is falling to pieces from neglect because we did not see any of these things as worthwhile real investments. Instead, bedazzled, we blew our real money on fake money, on a rigged game, on delusional promises of riches, of return on worthless investments.
And now we’re back on square one, once again faced with the same old questions: What really constitutes a Nation’s wealth? Wall Street Ponzi Schemes that enrich a few? Or Main Street investments in jobs and streets and roads and public parks and urban renewal and affordable housing and decent health care and better education and green technology. All of which are long term investments in ourselves, the “us” in U.S.A.
So, the exciting, sparkly crap tables are now open. The dull, boring infrastructure repair contracts stand ready to be signed. Step right up, Ladies and Gents, and take your pick. Yowsa!