Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Notes from a Non-Believer Part III


It is not easy to get beneath and around all the lies, deceptions, mis-statements and half-truths about the economy. What is constantly parroted in defense of globalization is patent nonsense. It is a sham of the worst order, for it is lies packaged to sound like truth.

All the much lauded trade agreements that are signed with such fanfare are nothing more than part of the domination game, through which the corporate powers of the West are busy digesting larger and larger pieces of the world pie. It is economic exploitation engineered to amass wealth on a grand scale. It is a plan to control the world’s energy, drinkable water supply, agriculture and other natural resources. Through the marvelous invention of intellectual property rights, the technologically advanced nations hope to dominate the pharmaceutical and computer software industries. The ultimate obscenity is to subvert biological diversity itself through the control and distribution of genetically modified organisms.
This strategy has left millions of suffering human beings in its wake. The bean counters dominate the landscape and they are about as empathic as bookends. To them, there is no reality outside the bottom line. To them, nothing of significance exists outside the margins of profit. To them all the world, its natural wonders, its diverse peoples its dynamic evolution lives in a shadow land and the only truth resides in what can be bought and sold.

In such a world, profits can be made from illness, dying, old age, children, education, fashion, recreation, eating, drinking and ultimately breathing. There is no area of existence that seems to be safe from the lecherous grasp of business. Every aspect of living is being plumbed for possible new markets. Nothing is sacrosanct from this endeavor. Human intimacy, the most private bodily functions and medical problems have all been placed under the bright unforgiving light of commerce.

Marketing has become a quasi-science that has learned to exploit both human fears and human needs and excels at finding the juxtaposition of both. The most effective tool for the marketer is sex. Sex is used to sell every conceivable product. The queue of aspiring buxom starlets hoping to break into the commercial arena selling their “wares” is a long one. When one can combine sex with the anxiety about sex and sexual dysfunction, well there in lies a gold mine. Viagra is but one small case in point.

In my judgment, the most despicable of all behaviors regarding the arena of sales is the exploitation of human aggression. There are industries inseparably tied to prejudice, hatred, fear of one’s alleged enemies and the warrior culture. These exploitations come wrapped in many forms. There is of course the most pernicious industry of all, the defense industry that consumes trillions of dollars in the development and manufacture of grotesque weapons designed for industrial warfare. The fact that such weapons have been routinely used against human beings, so-called soft targets, on a monstrous scale is made even more possible as a result of the conditioning of our children who participate vicariously in fictional violence against fictional enemies in film and interact with such violent images in video games.

The effectiveness of this conditioning is made apparent in light of the fact that during the so-called Second Gulf War, viewers could eat their snack food in front of the television and watch real time as a U.S. launched rocket destroyed a bunker in which many Iraqi soldiers were hiding. It was obvious from the footage that all those soldiers were obliterated efficiently and from a safe distance. This scene is not very different from what is seen in video games, with only one small difference: in this case the carnage was real. The media, in consort with the military, made sure, of course, that the audience did not get to witness the real affects of that missile, i.e. the twisted flesh burned beyond recognition, the scattered body parts, the smell of death, etc. The enemy is never to be viewed as a member of the human race with a mother and father, sons or daughters, spouse or lover, but as some kind of dehumanized repository for all the hate, fear and self-loathing of those that beat and follow the drums of war. In this process, the human mind is turned into an unthinking machine invigorated by the power of raw emotion, which, if left unchecked, will ultimately kill us all.

Our economy is propelled by war and the possibility of war. It is sustained by what President Eisenhower had referred to as the military-industrial complex. The capitalists build the factories, the technocrats design the machinery and the politicians manufacture the enemy of the moment with superb acumen. The media make the possibility of war palpable to the masses and the poor fight and die as adjuncts to the voracious killing machines.

Beneath all the bombast regarding defending democratic institutions, national security, fighting the evil specter of terrorism, below the veneer of sophistry and misstatements, lies the real motivation for war: the maintenance and spread of economic hegemony. The beast is forever hungry and it must be fed. Though the world be sucked dry, though millions of the world’s poor be annihilated, though hatred grow unbounded, the beast must be fed.

Americans can not expect to drive huge energy consuming cars, amass a great wealth of personal belongings, live in oversized homes, purchase goods cheaply at the expense of subsistence overseas labor and extract prodigious amounts of resources from the earth, without invoking the use of weapons of mass destruction to protect this extravagance from those who would challenge it. This is the true origin of what has come to be called terrorism. Terrorism is seen as a threat to the established order and rightfully so for the haves are being attacked by those who despise us, and have nothing left to lose.

I do not accept the validity of an economy existing on such a foundation. It is far from successful as claimed, as a matter of fact; it is failing and is doomed to fall in on itself sooner or later, unless systemic changes are undertaken. There are many examples to support the conclusion that the system as currently standing is profoundly corrupt. The CEOs of the major conglomerates make incomes that far exceed their true worth. As a matter of fact, these same individuals have in many instances, Enron and Worldcom being excellent contemporary examples, bled their companies and stockholders to death. Their thievery goes essentially unpunished, although occasionally scapegoats are chosen to ease the public ire. The corrupting influence of money and power has essentially purchased the Presidency and the Congress. Only two Senators out of the entire U.S. Congress did not take political contributions from Enron, for example.

There is a vast army of unemployed, under employed and employed workers earning wages that can not sustain them and their families. Their cheap labor subsidizes the rest of the economy through low priced goods and services. At the same time this is going on, over forty-four million are denied any health coverage at all. These exploited human beings are going to emergency rooms and hospitals where they are offered minimal services and often denied life sustaining medications or procedures based on the ability to pay. The system of public assistance has been substantially eroded by the same federal and state governments that are overtaken by the corrupting influence of corporate power. The fact that the proponents of these cuts attempt to take the moral high ground with nonsensical rationales such as “tough love” is ridiculous to the extreme.

What is needed is an economy based on humanizing principles where truly free trade is encouraged as long as it helps to free humanity from the devastating affects of extreme poverty.

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