The Coastal Post - January, 1998

Weapons of Mass Distraction

BY FRANK SCOTT

An economist testifying before the Senate said, "Self-interested capitalism is not designed to handle a ystem-wide, global risk to collective well-being." He was referring to the pending year 2000 computer problem and not the general crisis faced by the world. But he unwittingly addressed a broader truth. The self-interested focus of capitalism has become the greatest threat to any solutions to the problems we confront as a human collective .

The hazards of climate changes, chemical poisons, uncontrolled growth and corporate domination of governments all relate to a system desperately out of control. That system is self-interested, anti-social, capitalism. Don't hang by your lip waiting for this subject to be dealt with in public consciousness, especially with use of the "C" word.

More likely, you'll hear that the economy is booming, with more people employed than ever before. But they are working longer hours, at less secure jobs, making less money and falling into greater debt. You may also know that the U.S. is riding high as the world's only super power, giving orders and setting standards. But less people are willing to follow those orders or observe those standards, whether in the Arab Middle East, or the American Midwest.

U.S. power hasn't created any New World Order of peace and stability, but rather has helped bring about a New World Disorder of regional wars, growing pollution and increased poverty, within a global gambling casino producing market chaos.

The U.S. lashes out at developing nations, telling them to clean up their pollution, while it is the world's foremost creator of garbage, waste and poison. Treating the planet as a giant garbage dump, the U.S. merrily burns more fossil fuel in a day than some nations use in a year. Power corrupts, and absolute power makes you really stupid, and dangerous. It also enables you to control the flow of information and perceived reality without any need for secret police or official censorship. It's done with almost total control of what people read, watch and think.

The U.S. has less than five percent of the world's population, consumes 25 percent of the world's resources and belches more than 20 percent of global carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Last year we put far more carbon into the air than China, which has nearly five times our population. Now we lecture them about the need to clean up their act. And the Melendez twins asked for mercy because they were orphans. The difference is that corporate media will tell you all about the Melendez story and put it on the front page and prime time. It's the one about capitalism that is found only on the back pages or very late at night, if at all.

Corporate propaganda warns against ending the destruction of our environment, with dis-infomercials that tell us a cleaner and healthier planet will create calamity, unemployment and a depression. Sure. And good food will create starvation, clean air will choke us and good health will cause heart attacks and cancer. Our real problems are terrorism, anthrax and people swarming across our borders to take all the good jobs at Microsoft.

Don't worry, be stupid. That is the endless sub-text of corporate capital's message to the world .

Our nation sets a morally-shocking standard of poverty and misery within economically staggering affluence. Many live in upscale suburban ghettos and drive their polluters ever increasing miles to the mall, often in pursuit of material comfort as artificial as any drug-induced coma, while others live in downscale urban destitution that would disgrace a poorer nation. Millions of American children are malnourished in a nation that spends billions to feed its pets. More than 15% of American babies are born into poverty.

Confused, decent people tend to their dogs and cats while waging narrow struggles to get a token handful of young black men into prestigious universities. Meanwhile, broad-based racism sends tens of thousands of young black men into our jam-packed penal colonies. In the face of such contradictory horror, we are warned about Saddam Hussein.

The recently-ended season of peace, love and plastic has sunk our population into deeper financial servitude. The consumer debt burden, over five trillion dollars before the holy days of shopping, climbs higher. All these accounts receivable become artificial money for electronic transactions of a magnitude far beyond what individual consumers imagine.

Financial dealers in the global gambling casino use that sum of invisible cash to buy and sell still more make-believe money, in a deranged game that makes thousands rich while consigning millions to poverty. The self-interest of capitalism is triumphant, as nonexistent wealth smothers the fruits of actual labor performed by living beings.

As market forces further ravage the earth and its people, corporate propagandists scream for more discipline of governments that spend too much on social needs. The pattern of further cuts in public programs as a way to strengthen the deity of private, self-interested capitalism is bringing all of us closer to a global experience of complete social degradation. And this at an incredibly hopeful time for humanity, when the race can possibly achieve material progress not even dreamed in past millennia.

Instead, we are programmed to fear fictional weapons of mass destruction in the hands of boogie-men from the third world. Our real problem is the power of corporate capital's Weapons of Mass Distraction to cloud minds and dull senses, while its political economics destroy our planet and our people.

Do worry, get smart, and have a happy new year.

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