Monday, August 04, 2008

Bread lines in Paradise

"The numbers are going through the roof. We think we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg"
said the Salvation Army volunteer. It seems that all of a sudden middle class families aren't contributing to local food banks any more, they're showing up hungry because they have to choose between going to work, filling their prescriptions, paying bills and eating. Air conditioning is being switched off in the oppressive heat and humidity of a Florida summer. Bush's recent experiment in socialism and wealth redistribution seems to have had results as ephemeral as the prizes on Queen For a Day. The $600 was gobbled up and disappeared in a flash. Fewer and fewer economic prognosticators see any end in sight. Efforts to pretend we're not in a recession seem increasingly strained if not comical.

Donations to food pantries are down by 30% and the number of people showing up looking for food is up by 50% in some places. Layoffs, foreclosures, medical bills have to be weighed against fuel and food costs. It's a question of survival. The Florida Treasure Coast is home to some of the world's wealthiest people. Nearly all of them seem to be committed Republicans and Bush received heavy support here. There are no Democratic candidates for local offices. I can't get through a day without hearing angry remarks about liberals taking God off the money and out of the Pledge." You still see "W" and "Under God" stickers on cars.

Even more comical are the passionate screeds I receive by e-mail, warning about how Barak Obama is going to ruin the economy if elected. Higher taxes will make our economy collapse, they assert despite the lessons of history and despite this latest evidence of the idiocy of Bush's dumbed down and more crooked version of Reaganomics.

The letter I got last night had the audacity to blame our economic decline on Bill Clinton and his high taxes, Bill Clinton and his failure to attack bin Laden, Bill Clinton and his emasculation of our military. It blames Liberals for making it too hard to criticize a black candidate although it continually reminds us that Obama's father was black. It's hard to believe this is the work of a believer and not of a propaganda mill, but it was forwarded to me by someone who believes it all, hates Obama and inexplicably is a lifelong Democrat.

Election time is always slime time in America, but it's also a reminder that Americans aren't rid of racism, don't give a damn about freedom or prosperity or about their fellow citizens. We care about our taxes. We bitch about our taxes and we blame everything but the weather on the fact that we have to pay taxes to pay for what we think grows on trees. We still look for a president who is a chimera composed of pieces of a South American General and a South Georgia preacher who was born in a log cabin and shares our distaste for paying our bills and loves a big military parade with marching bands. McCain is a "military man" and Obama is not -- easy decision.

Democracy is for adults. We're not and I'm finding it harder and harder to give a damn about this country's future.



Sadly, these same thoughts keep me up at night. The gloom and doom I feel is not just about the economy, or climate change, or a thousand other pressing issues, it is about the almost total lack of leadership pandering to an ignorant rabble. It feels as if our species will never get it right, and that depresses the hell out of me.

Capt. Fogg said...

I'm no longer sure that civilization as I used to envision it is the future of mankind. My vision used to be of continuous, if irregular progress and an ever better life, but the consequences of American democracy make me worry that those who have always championed it were hopelessly naive.

I don't think the human race is ready to be human. We haven't weeded out the instincts that no longer suit us.

realist said...

You asked for an answer, and Libby has barred me from her blog.

"The answer of course is someone who thinks making hopelessly quixotic runs at reality makes him sound wise. It does - you're a supreme wise-ass."

That paragraph was pretty much devoid of any content other than insult.

"Whine? Something I'm good at? Do you have any idea who you're talking to, you swollen-tongued cretin?"

Same as above. Perhaps you are referring to those who whine because someone in Mumbai can do the job better, instead of just going and finding something they are actually good at.

"One think I'm good at is skewering snide little nobodies who think Republican dialectic makes them sound smart and are too stupid to realize what pathetic pawns they are."

I was hoping to find something substantive to answer, but no luck so far.

"Of course that's the reason you're a Republican isn't it?"

I refuse to join that party.

"That's the party that has thrived by making the lower half of the bell curve feel intelligent while milking them for everything they have."

In reality, is the party that lowered taxes on all taxpayers, including the lower half. That's one reason Republicans get my vote compared to Democrats: they are a lot less greedy.

realist said...

"Name one? Rupert Murdoch's News Corp."

Please look up the definition of monopoly and try again. It does not mean "anyone who says things I don't like'. Fox News is one voice among many.

"No, the reason I want Fox to have competition is so that they can't get away with lying."

Or get away with expressing political opinion that you think should be forbidden. OK, let us grant your wish. Bring on CNN, NSNBC/NBC, C-Span, ABC, and CBS News. There, competition.

"Nobody is discussing "whomping" them but you."

Actually, you referred to the action of the government breaking up media monopolies in order to get rid of their bad views.

"You simply can't be stupid enough to think that approaching a one man ownership of all news sources serves the purposes of democracy"

Nor does Martian ownership of the news media help democracy, either. But we are not anywhere close to it, just like we are no where close to one-man ownership. So why even bring it up?

This is an issue I am not confused on at all. Anyone who thinks that Murdoch has any monopoly of any kind, or is like one man owning all the news is very confused indeed. Get it?


Realist, this one is for you ...


That is my cat anxiously awaiting a tasty troll.

realist said...

I hope he enjoys snacking on the guy that thinks that Fox News is a monopoly.

Capt. Fogg said...

Look, first of all you arrived at the Impolitic with condescension and insult on your lips, so stop looking for sympathy. Secondly you weren't banned, she made a comment that maybe you would go away if ignored. Don't look for sympathy there either because you're not being honest.

The trend is toward media monopolies because there are fewer and fewer players owning more papers and stations - that's why I'm bringing it up - because I don't want the trend to continue and it will continue under current FCC policies among which have been a halt to the requirement that stations serve the public interest in exchange for frequency allocations. Now it's about money and influence alone.

No, three principal owners is not a monopoly, but there is less and less standing in the way of having a few owners with similar or identical interests controlling the news and censoring the competition. No amount of chicanery on your part really invalidates that opinion. All you can do is keep restating it dishonestly to support your dogma.

I am not advocating, nor have I advocated - any kind of government censorship. That's your fantasy and yours alone. Competition is the backbone of a free press and free markets. That's what I want preserved. That's really not controversial unless you're some kind of Marxist.

And finally, as to Republicans lowering taxes on everybody - show me where financing an expanding government and two wars by borrowing while lowering taxes is good economic policy. Anything you might have saved in taxes is being eaten up by inflation and a shrinking dollar. It's a shell game. Tax cuts and massive debt don't bring prosperity - never has. Get over it and stop whining about the minimum wage and feeling sorry for yourself.

Bush's wars now rival WW II in cost and obviously the cost, unlike the costs of that war, will have to be payed to the foreign interests that own much of that debt and I'm saying the payment will cause prolonged inflation. I may be wrong, but I don't think so.

But isn't your entire personality based on hatred of taxes? Is it that you feel threatened by minimum wage workers? Something must have deranged you enough to claim that economic growth and entrepreneurship in China is being stunted by taxes. That's an astonishing viewpoint when facts are taken into consideration. Sorry, Republican promises of low taxes are fraudulent and supply side economics have consistently failed to bring anything but recession, high unemployment and inflation.

If you want to deny our current problems, if you want to blame it on martians or the party that hasn't had much influence for many years, that's your prerogative, but stop putting words in my mouth.

realist said...

I am being quite honest about Libby's statement. But it is her blog, so I shut up.

"No, three principal owners is not a monopoly"

Three principle owners is what we had 30 years ago. Since then, we have gained more. All 3 that existed back then are still around. Fox News and CNN have been added. We also have C-Span, which is not quite a full-flown news channel, but counts for something. The trend has been away from consolidation. It is not "restating it dishonestly" dishonestly to point out this fact.

This is the way is is now, and for the foreseeable future. Murdoch is nothing like a monopolist. Now, if Fox was buying NBC, or CNN waa taking over CBS, things would be different.

"current FCC policies among which have been a halt to the requirement that stations serve the public interest"

That "requirement" that the stations serve the government's definition of "the public interest" is a limitation of the First Amendment. Broadcasters must be treated with the same freedom as newspapers.

Also, this FCC requirement never ever applied to cable. Fox News is cable.

Martians? They are as much part of the media landscape as a "Fox News Monopoly" is. The idea of a Fox News Monopoly comes from your words.

Saying that these companies must be busted up, and then listing the "fist bump = terrorism" comment as a reason does make your case into one of government punishing media companies for the opinions expressed by the companies. That fits 100% into the definition of censorship.

"Tax cuts and massive debt don't bring prosperity - never has"

Tax cuts have, as the revenues coming into the treasury have usually inreased. Massive debt does not. Bush, like the two presidents before him, is a huge overspender. McCain and Obama hardly mention the debt, so I doubt things would change with them.

"Sorry, Republican promises of low taxes are fraudulent"

Probably true. But they do tend to increase them a little less than Democrats, which makes Republicans a little less greedy.

I do not hate taxes. However, I recognize the fact that our tax rate now is excessive considering the waste and extravagance in federal spending.

Capt. Fogg said...

I have to admit you're motivated - how may posts is that today? A storm is brewing here so I'm out of the pool dealing with you. I must have done something wrong in a past life.

Look, I don't agree that allowing corporations to own as many media outlets in any marked as they like serves anyone's interest as regards fairness in reporting. Yes, we have competing media now, but I don't think that makes any difference. Sorry, that's my opinion and I'm sticking with it.

Broadcast media receive the use of public property in the form of a frequency allocation. I don't think that should come free. Requiring that they broadcast more than entertainment on a medium the public owns is not censorship or "interference" in my opinion.

You keep saying Fox instead of Murdoch. Murdoch owns newspapers, remember? Since cable and print aren't using public property, the government has no authority. I still see, and I believe a majority sees a disturbing reduction in media diversity. I don't see why this demands a tirade about censorship unless it's a diversionary tactic.

Saying that Republicans are less greedy than Democrats, beyond being a generalization so sweeping as to render comment unworthy of making, simply is hilarious. Over the last 50 years, republican administrations have been far less successful in promoting growth than Democratic administrations. The current administration is leading us back into the same prolonged, pernicious stagflation that hit us at the close of the Viet Nam war and for some similar reasons.

We had higher taxes under Clinton and I fear those may be the last good years we see for a long time. Consequently I am very tired of the same old tax platitudes. It's far better to make money and pay taxes, than to be flat broke with no prospects and get a $600 handout.

If you don't see that things are going in the wrong direction, you do have to realize that you are in a tiny minority.

realist said...

"Look, I don't agree that allowing corporations to own as many media outlets in any market as they like serves anyone's interest"

I'd like to know of problem areas, or problem markets. I've had people point out Clear Channel as being a radio problem to me, but every market they point, our I check, has only 10% or 20% of the stations owned by Clear Channel.

"I don't think that should come free. Requiring that they broadcast more than entertainment on a medium the public owns is not censorship or "interference" in my opinion."

I do agree on some things, like broadcasting storm warnings. But I don't think it should go as far as the government setting editorial content on the news division. Mario Cuomo, a thoughtful person, wrote on the need to treat broadcast media like newspapers, with full first-amendment rights.

As for the "disturbing reduction in media diversity", you have almost twice as many national news organizations/companies/etc as before, compared to 30 years ago. And while Rush Limbaugh and his ilk have flourished, so have NPR and Pacifica on radio. Under the fairness doctrine, you had hardly any issues or news radio right OR left.

And this is without even mentioning the web/internet. The majority not only "Sees" and explosion in media diversity, they experience it, and (in the blog world and public access cable) participate in it.

I know Fox is News Corp, and News Corp has newspapers. But then you said that print is not using public property, so it should not matter. So we are back down to just Fox again.

Stay out of that pool. We don't want lightning. But if you do go out, wear that sailor's raincoat.

Capt. Fogg said...

We have less diversity in the "traditional" media and the notion is reflected in the tendency of the MSM to concentrate on the same things, ignore the same things and describe things in the same way.

Sorry, I don't find anything wrong with disallowing one owner to own too much of a particular market even if it offends libertarian precepts.