The Coastal Post - October, 1999

Political Madness and Economic Insanity

By Frank Scott

If ignorance is bliss and knowledge is power, we should be the happiest, weakest people in the world. A list released by the UN finds the USA 17th among developed nations in caring for its poor. Our schools are in a state of degradation, our markets are performing like roller coasters and our people are in greater debt than at any time in history. Meanwhile, millions are convinced that Clinton is their savior, or that the Republican party protects morality, or that our society is the best in the world. America is whistling Dixie and calling it We Shall Overcome.

Our confusion would be schizophrenic if diagnosed in an individual, with overtones of manic-depressiveness. We claim a booming economy, while the world reels from the most recent failings of global capitalism. Here at home, the survival gap between the toiling masses and the investor classes grows wider, even as the distance between democracy and madness narrows

What is happening to our minds reflects what is happening in our world. Those who have often been deserted by the president are among his most ardent supporters, while those whose agenda he has faithfully served are among his worst critics. The desperate and confused would forgive him, lest what is even worse takes over. The worst is waiting in the wings, but its only chance to rule is that the president remain in office, thereby destroying his party.

Grade school civics teaches that the vice president replaces a president who resigns, but the fear and loathing at the soul of the nation cannot find reason. Many think Bob Dole would become president, and turn us all into Viagra addicts. As the ship of state heads for the iceberg, its disassembling captain is under attack, its muddle-headed crew is in a fog , and its passengers all seem to be on medication.

Politicians consult polls to decide what action to take, forgetting that leaders should be creating public consciousness, not just following it. These politicians would have read polls revealing that Jews were unpopular in Germany in the 1930s , and thrown their support to the nazis . Such is the quality of American politics.

No better example of the triumph of personality over character can be found than the morally stained president who may have finally told the truth when he said the financial dilemma of global capital might be the most serious in fifty years. What is to be done ? Simple: the world should follow the advice of the global leader with no followers. His people consider him of low morals and lower character, yet they trust him because he is doing a fine job, and his opposition is even more dreadful.

The lesser evil choice has become an argument that says my despicable sleazebag is better than your disgraceful scuzbucket.

Our dysfunctional values and distorted process is bringing us close to the status of a national madhouse.

Most inmates at the asylum have little information other than that the director is their salvation, and that their system is infallible. But what was recently called the triumph of capital-at least by the priests and rabbis of the corporate ministry-is becoming the defeat of globalism, and at an alarming rate. So far, the worst aspects are being suffered elsewhere, with the USA merely showing signs of mental breakdown. But that could change, and quickly.

The country will certainly not be saved by simply dumping the incumbent immoralist and replacing him with Gore. But it will at least get the unusual political trash off the front pages and TV screens, so that we might begin to confront the more usual economic trash, which is of greater significance.

The Asian Miracle has become the Asian Nightmare. Latte consumers of Asia's budding yuppie class are becoming pushcart peddlers, as several nations find their new middle class vanishing overnight. The Russian experiment with fundamentalist capitalism is a total failure, with hunger and poverty becoming the norm for a people once guaranteed material security. Brazil is at the edge of an economic precipice, and the rest of Latin America is getting dizzy. The free flow of capital threatens to drown nations in an anti-democratic flood of profits for some and losses for most.

Much lauded and poorly understood globalism has created inequality and poverty so vast it is staggering. The top 20% of the world's people in the highest-income countries account for 86% of total private consumption, use 58% of total energy, 84% of all paper and own 87% of the world's vehicle fleet. We are over-consuming, polluting, wasting and burying ourselves in debt. Why? To maintain a system which only profits a minority investor class, and even then, on a short term basis that guarantees long term disaster for most of humanity.

As our one major party indulges a battle between its right wing and its wrong wing, both sides brandish their bibles and prayers, but neither side escapes the hypocrisy and double standards at the root of the system. Our moral breakdown might lead to disaster, but it could also bring an awakening from the mental stupor that calls itself democracy. If information creates knowledge and knowledge is power, then democracy demands that we need to learn: there is a difference between public and private, and between honesty and dishonesty. It may be that all this will lead to something better, but public consciousness will have to rise at a faster rate than political and economic morality is sinking.

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