Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Brief Visit with the Tea Party: A Special Message From The Senior Council Member

by Jim Strider, Senior Council Member and creator of the term "Yummish."

In my ongoing efforts to understand the thinking that drives Tea Party supporters, I had a small insight.  Preface each Tea Party or "conservative" anti-government assertion with the notion that -

"The primary activity of politicians is to extort money from corporations in exchange for favorable regulations."

That fundamental assumption makes much of the anti-government hullabaloo much more comprehensible.

Historically, I have been more aligned with the converse notion, which you hear from Michael Moore and company -

"Corporations bribe government officials in exchange for favorable regulations."

In truth, these are two statements of the same thing.  For this condition to endure, corporations and politicians cannot be in conflict, one "extorting" or "bribing" the other, they have to be in collusion.  As long as the arrangement continues to work for both sides, it will not change regardless of the damage done to the rest of us who are not highly-paid corporate executives, wealthy investors, or politicians.

I think it is obvious at this point that the paradigm under discussion parallels the "war on drugs".  Both sides (the law industry and the drug merchants) make substantial money at the expense of the relatively powerless people in the middle.  The real "trade" is between those two sides, with the masses (us) as the resource pool from which wealth is drawn and upon whom power is exercised and confirmed.  Both the law industry and the drug merchants promote falsehoods, dividing the rest of us into misguided "pro" and "con" camps, to ensure that their profitable paradigm endures.

Similarly, the "liberal" vs. "conservative" argument is a distraction to prevent us from recognizing how we are being used and from acting in our own best interests.  Many people know this, but most who do are among the wealthy or powerful who benefit from the situation and who are too selfish, greedy, or ego-driven to endorse change that would benefit a greater number of people.  Those of us with less power or wealth who recognize the problem, obviously, have neither the power nor wealth to adequately fight the propaganda so incessantly imposed upon us by the media machines of the wealthy and powerful.

Those media machines are designed to confuse us.  They seek opportunities to divide us as a people and distract us from the myriad ways in which they both compromise our civil liberties and game the economic system in their favor.  Their tools include fear, distraction, saturation, and "spin".

Fear enables the infringement of civil liberties.  (Airport "security theater", warrantless wiretapping, habeas corpus.)

Distraction encourages people to vote against their best interests.  ("Taxation" or "environment" as single-issue platforms.)

Saturation, or repetition, can lead people to believe assertions that are, in fact, false.  ("There is no consensus in the scientific community regarding climate change", "Sarah Palin banned books from the Wasilla library".  [Both are false.])

The two notions that opened this essay embody the insidious quality of "spin"; the statements about "extortion" and "bribery" are not entirely untrue, but are presented in such a way as to hide what is true and to create a false conflict.

Why do you think "class warfare" is a taboo topic in the media, instantly shot down and disparaged at any mention?  You can be sure that both the corporate and government elite want to avoid that topic above all others.

There is so much more to say about what can be done and about the obstacles to change that protect the status quo, but I am at work and my lunch break is almost over.  (This is a small example of one of the typical obstacles for "us", actually.)

I think it is worth sharing the small insight that makes some aspects of the Tea Party comprehensible to me, a "liberal".  If you consider yourself a "conservative", try it the other way around.  Preface each "liberal" anti-corporate sentiment you hear with the notion that "Corporations bribe government officials in exchange for favorable regulations."  You might find that you and I are not completely in opposition after all.

This message brought to you by The Cocktail Party

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