The following is an article from our Massachusetts corespondent.
Much has been made in the international press about the recent vote in the state of Massachusetts that killed the Democratic supermajority in the United States Senate. It certainly was a big story. As a Massachusetts resident, I can tell you that I’ve never seen my polling station so crowded. And this is just one year after Democrat Barack Obama swept in with huge popular support in my state. What happened?
To answer that, I must strive to impress upon you the impatience of the American people. Having been saved from the brink of a second Great Depression by our government, they are nevertheless unwilling to sit tight until the economy completes its recovery. They are looking for someone to be mad at and government is a convenient scapegoat.
With unemployment levels appearing to be entrenched at 10%, and underemployment a chronic reality, people are finding it harder to pay their bills and the anger they feel over their fall from fortune has them latching onto something to fight. Remember the Boston Tea Party? I thought you might. Well, there are many here in the U.S. who will put forth the misguided proposition that we have again fallen under the thumb of a monarchy that no longer represents them. Perhaps you have heard of a new phenomenon called the “Tea Bag Movement” that has formed to protest government spending and taxation. What the initiates of this movement fail to recognize is that government is not the root of their problems.
I believe that public outrage over this issue is woefully misplaced. Pulling back the veil, one discovers that the teabagger uprising originated as carefully constructed campaign for an agenda that in fact cares nothing about the middle class. This campaign has been funded by big business interests that have learned how to direct public anger at government rather than where I believe it should truly be focused, which is the unprecedented, gross abuses of power from certain segments of our unregulated business sector. This business sector, with tools like Roger Ailes and his conservative media empire, has become expert at targeting primal human instincts that are easy to exploit. They’ve been able to deflect from the truth and support this deflection with an around the clock cycle of talking heads targeting public the anger. The more they snarl and scream that government is the problem, the more they inflame their underinformed troops. What they won’t report is that the downturn in the economy was not caused by government spending but by unprecedented and unchecked corporate greed.
As the owner of two businesses that exist to make money, I believe in capitalism. But, there has been too much power concentrated into too few corporations in the past decade, and this has led to a downward spiral in the standard of living for the middle and working class. Business is the entity that cuts jobs when it consolidates with other businesses. Business is the entity that continually ships our jobs overseas. Business is the entity that rewards incompetent management with obscene bonuses. Business is the entity in the form of military contractors like Halliburton that squanders our tax dollars in the most corrupt way imaginable with zero accountability for the tax payer to scrutinize. Banks took advantage of us, gleefully, until their ponzi scheme was exposed and fell apart. Our government then had no choice but to grit its teeth and bail the banks out because not doing so would have thrown us into another Great Depression. It looks like we’ve avoided that fate. Unemployment is still a problem, but unemployment is a lagging economic indicator. It’s always the last thing to recover.
In the meantime, life does not stand still. And I believe that government does its best to provide the essentials in an imperfect world with multiple stakeholders and multiple priorities. As imperfect as it may be, government exists to serve people over profit. It’s designed to provide checks and balances. What I call upon government to do is to take that charge seriously. It must address the problem of business consolidations, unchecked power and the nefarious ease in shaping public opinion that has resulted.
- Talking Bollocks, Massachusetts