SYNDICATED COLUMN: Death and Trivia

Bankrupt and Corrupt, U.S. Can’t/Won’t Address Issues We Care About

Millions of Americans won’t vote this November. “Voter participation in the U.S. remains consistently below corresponding levels in most other western democracies,” the International Business Times reported last year. “In countries like Italy, Belgium, Austria and Australia, more than 90 percent of the voting public cast ballots at election time.”

They—the corporate politicians and their media mouthpieces—call it apathy. Obama advisor David Axelrod blamed it for the Iraq War. “There was apathy in 2000, and Al Gore lost that election to George W. Bush by 300 votes, and as a result we wound up in Iraq,” he told the Harvard Crimson. That’s crap. People don’t boycott elections because they don’t care. They are alienated.

We don’t care about two-party electoral politics because two-party electoral politics don’t care about us.

What are Americans most worried about this election season? The same thing we’ve been most worried about for years: the economy. You name the poll: local or national, liberals or conservatives doesn’t matter. Tens of millions of people are unemployed. People who still have jobs live in terror of layoffs. Real inflation is out of control but salaries are frozen or falling. (The fact that we have to specify “real” says a lot about the gap between life out here “on the ground” and over there “inside the Beltway.”)

We’re being ground down. Demoralized. Bankrupted. And they don’t care. Not only do they not care, they don’t notice.

The Fed and the White House are colluding in their quadrennial tradition of ginning up a pseudo-boomlet to support the incumbent. Thus the latest Dow bubble and phony 8.3 percent unemployment rate, which count people who have given up looking for work as “employed.”

Everyone knows the recovery is fiction. Who are you going to believe—the talking heads or your lying, overdrawn, second-mortage line of credit? According to the latest Gallup tracking poll, which actually asks actual people how they’re actually doing in the actual world, 9.1 percent of Americans are unemployed and 19.0 percent are underemployed. When 28.1 percent of Americans are broke, that affects everyone, including the richest 1% trying to sell goods and services.

People expect their “representative” democracy to represent their interests. To address their problems. And solve them.

No wonder why we’re so apathetic. Our “leaders” hardly talk about the economy.

Santorum is more worried about how easy it is to get sex than how hard it is to find work.

Romney thinks it’s 1992 and that he’s Ross Perot, the businessman who promised to run America like a corporation. As though it wasn’t already. As if that wasn’t the problem.

Obama imagines that we didn’t notice that he only started asking Congress to work on the economy after Congress fell under the control of the other party. We’re slow. We’re not deranged.

Our dying political system is unwilling and unable to address joblessness and the widening class divide because our misery isn’t an aberration. It’s an inherent manifestation of corporate capitalism. Ordinary Americans understand this. Half the citizens of this “conservative” country already prefer socialism or communism, according to a Gallup poll conducted in December—watch that go up—yet the political class dares not question the Crappy Economic System That Must Not Be Named.

Since they can’t take on the real issues the elites are reduced to the politics of distraction.

Kids and death.

Those are the D-grade “issues” the powers that be are using this week in order to avoid talking about the atrocious economy.

Federal regulators announced on February 27th that all cars manufactured after 2014 must feature rearview cameras that allow drivers to see what is behind them. The National Highway Traffic Administration says that “95 to 112 deaths and as many as 8,374 injuries could be eliminated each year by eliminating the wide blind spot behind a vehicle,” reported The New York Times. The estimated cost of the devices is $2.7 billion per year.

“In terms of absolute numbers of lives saved, it certainly isn’t the highest,” admitted Clarence Ditlow of the Center for Auto Safety. “But in terms of emotional tragedy, backover deaths are some of the worst imaginable. When you have a parent that kills a child in an accident that’s utterly avoidable, they don’t ever forget it.”

No doubt. I can imagine. By all means, put in those cameras.

But there’s something screwy about a political culture that slaps this trivial story on the front page of the biggest newspaper in the country and makes it a Congressional priority while the elephants in the room go unaddressed. Every year 17,000 Americans die in slip and fall accidents—151 times the rate from backover car accidents. Maybe we should install cameras on the backs of our heads.

Yo, moron journalists and politicos: Jobs! We care about jobs!

If you idiots must obsess over cars, why aren’t you pushing through radical improvements in fuel efficiency, like requiring that every car made after 2014 be either electric or a hybrid? Autos are a major cause of air pollution, which triggers asthma attacks, which kill at least 5000 people annually in the U.S.

It’s not just about the kiddie-poos. The establishments is still wallowing in Bush’s hoary post-9/11 death cult.

The day after its hold-the-presses car-cameras scoop the Times was back with another page-one heartstopper:

“The mortuary at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware disposed of body parts of some victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks by burning them and dumping the ashes in a landfill,” began the story. The victims were killed on Flight 93, which crashed in western Pennsylvania.

Gross? No doubt. Inappropriate? Unquestionably. Important? Hell no.

The worst thing that could ever happened to the people to whom those body parts belonged occurred before. They were dead. Murdered. What went down after that was comparatively trivial.

Not to stir up the Truthers (with whom I disagree), but a more appropriate front-page story would ask: “More Than 11 Years After 9/11, Why Hasn’t There Been an Independent Investigation?”

Here’s what we’ve come to: Get killed on Flight 93 and no one bothers to find out what really happened to you. Have your remains disposed of in a culturally insensitive manner and it’s a scandal.

What if Flight 93 had landed safely? Some passengers would gotten laid off. Some would have been foreclosed upon. And the government wouldn’t have given a rat’s ass about them.

Why don’t people vote?

A better question is: Why do people vote?

(Ted Rall is the author of “The Anti-American Manifesto.” His website is tedrall.com.)

COPYRIGHT 2012 TED RALL

19 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: Death and Trivia

  1. Two points:

    1. People don’t vote because day-by-day they understand that an unelectable elite make all important policy decisions, foreign and domestic. The people they vote for are not leaders nor legislators. They’re proxies, nothing more. Politicians do as told, period. If they don’t, they’re out. Why else would U.S. foreign policy not only NOT change, but actually become MORE extreme under Obama? Because he has absolutely NOTHING to do with crafting America’s foreign policy. The unelectable elite craft such policy, and carry it out no matter who is in charge. Hence, Iran. The Middle East policy that’s playing out now was crafted decades ago, continually refined, and carried no matter who was in office. Americans are starting to understand that, so why vote? You can’t vote for CIA goons. You can’t vote for MIC goons. You can’t vote for Council on Foreign Relations goons. In short, your vote is irrelevant in our non-democracy.

    2. “No doubt. I can imagine. By all means, put in those cameras.” I’m not sure if this was sarcasm or not, but when I heard this non-story I thought of one thing: HOW ABOUT LOOKING BEHIND THE FUCKING CAR BEFORE YOU GET IN AND BACK OUT!! People are so dependent on technology today, it’s embarrassing. What the fucking hell did we do, however did we get the fuck along before cameras? I mean, by all means we MUST have them mandatory in cars now, because however did we even DARE to drive without them. Won’t someone PLEASE think of the children?!?

    Someday, everyone will have eternal life through science. There will be no human disease, there will be no human death. Then the world will finally be perfect. Yippee for humans!!

  2. Those who vote go vote for the same reason that people accept the horrors of radiation/chemo- the alternative is way worse.

  3. Another piece of Whimsical, as useless as the rest. This time with lame analogy. Also with no evidence of what that a “worse reality” would be in the case of not voting.

    Eh, no surprise. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all just Whimsical our way through life?

  4. Ex-

    Keep following Ted’s lead in encouraging others not to vote (or worse, try to foment that revolution you’re so suspiciously keen on having) and you’ll find out exactly what a “worse reality” will be.

    And sadly, experiencing it for yourself is the only way you’ll believe it. It’s a sad thing that your mule-headeness will insist on trying to drag the rest of the country along your road to hell.

  5. Nothing much either way is going to happen until even more Americans are hurt by this economy. This is because the majority of Americans are getting by, and scared of risking this status. The Corps and Power Brokers have a literal stranglehold on everything from ground beef to political issues and the candidates. Most people wallow in the D-grade issues because they have become numb to the real ones, or don’t feel that these greater issues CAN be addressed. Fantasy: Obama turns out to have been playing “rope a dope” his first term, and upon re-election uses every bit of presidential power to force through measures and laws to address the real issues, and ignores the D-level ones. He emerges from a phone booth as “Change You Can Believe In”. Nah! That would be too good, huh?

  6. Why vote? Easy. To make sure Mitt and Rick are utterly trounced in the general election.

    As for this Obama isn’t really in charge stuff, where is your evidence? Far as I can see the things Obama is talking about are the things the government is working on. Looks like he’s in charge to me. You might not like his priorities but that doesn’t mean he’s speaking for anyone other than himself. I think it’s much more reasonable to assume all of Washington is simply out of touch. To assume they are afraid of assassination or something is like saying humans came from aliens, the ancient egyptians had airplanes, the arc is in a church in Ethiopia and is powered by a nuclear reactor brought by aliens. Pure superstition.

    Why aren’t they focusing on jobs? Because they have no clue how to create jobs. Pure and simple. The politians honestly believe capitalism creates more jobs than socialism so they don’t think socialism is the answer.

  7. Obama et. al. do not believe in or support capitalism; they maintain a kleptocracy. As such, job creation is not their priority. The idea that the government cannot create jobs, or that government officials do not know how to create jobs, is so ludicrously stupid that one promulgating the notion should be immediately declared a lying troll since it is difficult to believe that there can even be a person that has the intelligence both form a sentence in English and maintain said notion. There is no organization on Earth that can more easily create a job than a government and goverment-created jobs were literally the main method used by the U.S. government to pull the U.S. out of its last major depression.

    It’s like claiming that the moon is so far away no human being will set foot on it: it’s so ahistorical a claim that it can only be trolling.

  8. Ted,

    Why do people vote? The answer is in another contradiction that I see frequently. You bring up (rightly) that it’s about jobs. Stepping back one itty bit, when you say “jobs” what you mean (I think) is “stable jobs that pay enough to live on, so that people can make ‘long game’ economic decisions” as opposed to “crappy jobs that you can be let go from without a moment’s notice because someone decided you wanted too much money and by firing you, the boss can make a little more profit for the quarter.” People want their politicians to provide a sense of control. I think it’s Weber who says that government is an agency that controls violence. Losing your home and everything else you’ve worked to accumulate over decades of labor is certainly violence. The government certainly isn’t doing much to control that violence.

    Previous technological innovations never allowed for the wholesale outsourcing of jobs in pretty much any field imaginable. Refrigerators might have wiped out icemen, but the icemen could easily shift over to a new field that was created BY the refrigerator: milkman. Or grocery store clerk, cashier, manager, milk plant employee, etc. Refrigeration INCREASED the number of jobs available to people. The jobs lost had not required lengthy training in the first place, and the jobs that were created by the new technology required little training either. If the Internet had increased the overall number of jobs, we wouldn’t have unemployment anymore. But every Internet innovation allows for more outsourcing. Economic misfortunes are becoming more harrowing because it takes longer to recover from them because (as you mention) wages are frozen or lessening. We live in a society in which jobs require lots of skills. Loss of a job is no longer just the loss of a job, it’s the loss of earning potential because your getting sent back to the beginning. What’s that, you’ve got another seven years on the mortgage and you stupidly had children? Tough cheese, old man, you should have worked smarter, not harder. You need to reinvent yourself. Why not go back to school for a degree in nursing or something? Sure, you and every other person who can’t come up with next month’s rent can just take some loans, and, fingers crossed, in four years, or three years, you’ll be able to get an entry-level position at the age of 51. Happens all the time.

    The reason I bring up all this Internet stuff is that anyone who looks at it rationally understands that the Internet has not led to job creation in the United States in a way that translates to security. Has the Internet created jobs? Sure. Good-paying jobs? Sure. Ask Arianna Huffington. She made millions just from harvesting the sweat of fools who gladly worked for free in her Internet hong. And, even better, most of that content was simply swiped from other sites. But it isn’t just Arianna would made out well. Lots of graphic designers did too. Well, for a few years. But now all those jobs have been outsourced to India or China and people with skills that took years to acquire and hone are filling out applications at Starbucks.

    Look at Facebook. That’s quite a success. They employ something like 2,000 people. Maybe everyone could get a job at Facebook. There’s amazon.com, too. They have lots and lots of factory and warehouse jobs that pay something like $12 an hour. What 54-year-old wouldn’t jump at the chance to work for a pittance while the bank and credit cards keep calling and calling?

    The number of people who’ve come out ahead thanks to the Internet is not only smaller than the number who have been harmed, the money distribution has been skewed as well. A few people make millions, most make subsistence or less. And everyone, everyone, insists that this is, somehow, something we simply can’t live without.

    That’s why people vote, Ted. For the same reason people keep telling me I’m completely wrong about the Internet. Because the fix to the problem is simply too horrible for them to contemplate: Become involved with the political process? Pay for movies? We’re far too delicate, as a people, to do such impossible and unreasonable things.

  9. @alex

    I believe you are completely wrong, and that the solution you propose would be far more destructive than the current problem.

    But even though I believe you are completely and utterly incorrect, I would never do you the discourtesy of implying you were “too delicate” to contemplate the problem.

    I’m very interested in solving the problems that both you and Ted pose. I just don’t believe your solutions are the right ones.

  10. @Andy asked: “As for this Obama isn’t really in charge stuff, where is your evidence?”

    This is really the dumbest comment I’ve read. Ever.

    In terms of foreign policy, the evidence is clear and exactly as I pointed out. Obama’s foreign policy is no different from Bush’s foreign policy, except for the fact that it is even more extreme. THAT in itself is evidence.

    Obama ran on closing Gitmo. He didn’t.
    Obama ran on a foreign policy of diplomacy with Iran. He has done no such thing.
    Obama ran on renegotiating NAFTA. He’s done exactly nothing. In fact, cut new deals with N. Korea.

    This list could go on and on, but I don’t waste my time on the Andys of the world. Little whiny Andy will just claim I didn’t provide evidence, no matter what I write. No matter the facts, no matter the details, no matter the reality – the little Andys of the world just want their reality. You know, the one where fearless leader Obama has transformed America’s foreign policy. Nevermind the unelectable elite. They don’t exist in little Andy’s fantasyland.

  11. @ex

    Execpt the actual facts are:
    -Obama did everything within his power to close Gitmo
    -Obama IS using Diplomacy with Iran
    -Obama NEVER ran on a program of renogitaitng NAFTA (One misunderstood remark in a single speech does not make a case for “running on”).

    And cutting new deals with N. Korea is a GOOD thing, your irrelevant attempt to go off on a tanget nonwithstanding.

    And since you cannot provide evidence to dispute these claims, because these are the facts, you will, as you always do, ignore any facts that do not fit your worldview, and attempt to dismiss me with a personal attack in 5…4…3…2…1…

  12. Every time I hear someone blame the President for everything going wrong, it makes me shake my head sadly. This is exactly what the Corps and Power brokers want you to focus on. The US has 3 branches of Gov’t. and is still a democracy – although a democracy where the common man’s vote has less power – especially with the Corps and rich throwing mega-bucks into lobbying and supporting the nitwit hand-puppets that we call candidates. If people could ever stop barking for a minute, and stand up on their hind legs, they might see where the problems are rooted – in a greedy financial system out of control, a Congress that does what the people that give them money want, and a Supreme Court that has single-handedly turned the right of free speech into directly connecting candidates for Congress and the Presidency with special-interest $millions. People who should be focusing on stopping this incredible “right in your face” corruption instead focus on the D-level issues and bashing Obama for gas prices that he has no real control over. Dumb is as dumb does….

  13. @Ted-

    “@Whimsical:
    Obama can close Gitmo with an executive order. He doesn’t have the political will or courage to do so.”

    He signed an executive order to close Gitmo. It was his first act as president. It was blocked. If that’s all you got, then thanks for proving my point for me.

    “@Whimsical: I know people who got better *because* they refused chemo.”
    Sure, miracles happen. But if you actually want to live, you go with what has the best odds of not killing you. In this elecation, that’s voting Democrat,

  14. @Whimsical

    1. Would you care to provide a link proving that Obama signed an executive order to close Gitmo? Because your claim contradicts Ted’s claim. Ted is a pundit and cartoonist, and reading the news is his job, and therefore I doubt that Obama signing an executive order to close Gitmo would have gotten past his radar screen. But … if you can provide credible links, I encourage you to do so.

    2. If you feel that you must vote because the alternative of not voting is worse, then by all means do so. But you’d be doing yourself a favor if you stopped pretending that the candidates that you choose are accomplishing something when they are not.

    3. If it is true that Obama is trying his utmost to do the work of a true public servant and is being thwarted at every turn, then it is his duty as a public servant to resign because of that fact, and not keep up the pretense of having any power when in actuality he has none. And if resigning is too cowardly an action, then Obama can tell the American People to come to DC and sit their ass down in front of the capital building until Congress does what needs to be done. Then he would be a true public servant.

  15. As election day approaches, two beef-cows debate their choices:

    Beef-cow #1: My family has a long tradition of voting for McDonalds so I’m sticking with them.

    Beef-cow #2: How could you be so stupid? You voted for McDonalds two years ago and now you’re getting slaughtered. If you were smart, you’d follow my lead and go with Burger King.

    Beef-cow #1: You backed Burger King in ’06 and ’08 and what did it get you. Your brother and your cousin ended up as Whoppers. Hope and change, my eye!

    Beef-cow #2: But look at how many Big Macs McDonalds turns out. Burger King can’t even compete. On balance, Burger King is the lesser of two evils.

    Beef-cow #3: (interrupts) Did you hear about this new party that’s gaining steam: the Vegetarian Party. Seriously, I’m thinking about throwing in with those guys.

    Beef-cow #1 and #2: (in chorus) Ha. Ha. You want to throw your vote away on those losers?

  16. Gosh, go away for a weekend and you miss all sorts of interesting things.

    @Susan

    1. rikster has already taken care of that for me, though I have several other links from other, more well-known sources, if his link doesn’t do it for you. I can’t say for certain, but my working theory would certainly be that Ted repressed the memory of the excutive order because it doesn’t fit his internal narrative about Obama. It’s a common problem among the left.

    Anyway, hopefully we can put that particular argument to rest now.

    2. If you want to empower Republicans by not voting because you’re dissapointed with Obama and the Democrats (even though there isn’t a politician on Earth who would’ve lived up to your expectations), feel free. But you’d be doing us all a favor if youd stop trying to make the fact that the President hasn’t accomplished what YOU want him to accomplish (not that anyone could), at the rate at YOU want him to accomplish it (again, not that anyone could) into him having NO accomplishments. Your unreasonable expectations of the man already make you look silly. Ignoring the obvious accomplishments of the Obama administration because they arent bullet points on your unreasonable checklist just makes you look, well, sillier.

    3. To misquote one of my favorite movies of all time “I do not think [goverment works] the way you think it works.” Obama is wielding what limited power the office has, and is doing so adequately, given that he’s had to fight a rear-guard action for the past two years, thanks to disaffected liberals driving down turn out in the ’10 midterms.

    @rikster
    Yeoman’s work, friend. And you’re right, there are none so blind as those who will not see. And none so hypocritical as those who screamed and yelled when Bush exceeded the authority of his office, but hold him up as an example when Obama refuses to do the same.