Wednesday, January 09, 2008


In a recent post entitled “Is the Economy Good for You”, the Author addressed a National Public Radio segment that interviewed folks along Interstate 10. The Author addressed an interview with a Texas woman who was working as an assistant manager at a convenience store. The single mother and her family could not make ends meet and could not afford health insurance. But when asked what was the biggest issue she faced, she stated “illegal immigration”.

She went on to claim that illegal immigrants got welfare and government healthcare and this prevented people like her from obtaining such services. When the interviewer told her that illegal immigrants have little access to healthcare and welfare, she ignored this fact.

She then voiced her resentment with the statement that she saw “them” driving “nicer cars”. The Author noted in his earlier post that this sounded much like Ronald Reagan’s race-baiting allusions to “Welfare Queens” and their “taxpayer-financed” Cadillac’s.

In a perceptive and well-reasoned post entitled “Competency as a Cultural Value” on the “Easily Distracted” website, the author of that post stated that this Texas woman was trapped in a narrative, a culturally reinforced “just add water” worldview where vaguely sinister forces were at work in government and everywhere else at the higher levels of power and privilege she can neither access not understand.

The blogger wrote:

Her [Texas woman] key issue maybe ought to be health care reform, but she’s enmeshed in another kind of narrative, one where racial resentment, among other things, is lurking very powerfully just underneath the surface. But even that is a layer covering the real depths. What I heard listening to her was someone who basically thinks that she’s in a hopeless place because some great engine (emphasis added) is churning mysteriously in the depths of history, that life is just bad now.


In the view of the blogger, policy proposals and the prospect of competent governance cannot reach deeply into the masses of the disaffected.

Offering a tangible plan that promises this tax incentive, that fact-finding commission, this reinvestment project, this funding for retraining doesn’t reach people who perceive the present as a slum left behind by a low-rent version of Benjamin’s angel of history. In fact, all it does is convince them that the candidate with the plans is one of those folks with his hands on the levers, one of them who always seems to come out on top.

Re-routing (or hijacking) the perception of reality has proven to be an easy thing for human leaders. Billions of humans believe, based upon various belief systems, that intervening imaginary beings can bend the laws of physics and biology for the benefit of a supplicant. A few superstitious twits on the Ducati.MS forum (and millions elsewhere) believe that the number “666” is unlucky, or cursed. Probably about 30% of Americans still believe that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and was involved in the 9-11 attacks.


In the post “is the Economy Good For You?” the Author also addressed the “social contract” as envisioned by the 17th-Century English Philosopher Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes concept of the “social contract” is that humans will give up some liberties to live in a stable society. That society, as envisioned by Hobbes, would be run by a despot.

The Author noted that aspects of the social contract may be breaking down. If the contract is breaking down, then the basis of the bargain erodes. The value perceived is lessened. The “Great Engine” is running in reverse and no longer works, or is perceived not to work, for many Americans. But that does not mean the state, the enforcer of the contract, will relinquish any control. In the last seven years, the state has arrogated more control unto itself. No, the state will still demand its taxes, compliance with criminal and civil law, and require the recognition of privileges and monetary transfers to state-favored organizations or individuals.

In some sense, the Author feels the dissatisfaction, the de-coupling from the social contract. He has watched wages stagnate and erode for quite some time. He has seen the costs of healthcare skyrocket, raising the price of coverage to unsustainable heights. And he has watched as the burden of taxation shifts to the middle class from the wealthy.

And he watches the deceit with which the improbable presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and his hucksters promote the so-called “Fair Tax”, a brutally regressive national sales tax that will blast the middle class and operate as a windfall for the wealthy. He still does not believe that the nation will fall for this scam, but cannot be sure.

Will the vast mass of the disaffected latch onto the promise of the [Un]-Fair Tax to disband the Internal Revenue Service to permit its passage? The prospect is palpable. And what will replace the IRS? An armed force of revenue police to force stores and sellers to collect the tax? Yard-sale cops? “Shoot-to-Kill” orders for black marketers?



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