The Coastal Post - March, 1999

The Abuse of Substance

By Frank Scott

Now that our dysfunctional first family drama has concluded-momentarily -can we get on with what we've been missing ? As William the Shameless and Hillary Wynette Clinton do what they can to save their lame duck presidency, and congress tries to save an even lamer duck House of Representatives, our crippled turkey of a system needs some attention. Here's some of what's been going on while our consciousness industry has brutalized us with lack-of-substance abuse .

Remember the bombing of an alleged chemical warfare facility in the Sudan? Well, plenty of evidence has since revealed that there was no such thing at that site. And terrorist Boogie-Man Osama Bin Laden has become a hero to millions in the Islamic world , thanks to the ridiculous attention focused on him by dunderheads who bombed what were supposed to be his bases in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, another Arab demon, Sadam Hussein, continues to thrive, as his people continue to suffer under a cruel and stupid embargo. Iraq has been bombed several times by our air force, allegedly defending itself from radar as it patrols Iraqi skies . Kind of like Iraq flying over New York or California and bombing us, because our radar identified their entry into our space. This is the power of arrogance, and a triumph of ignorance, as the USA alienates more people in the Arab world, possibly leading to the very acts of terrorism we are supposedly trying to avoid.

The military orientation of our power structure continues, without regard to scandals. While under assault for flaws in his character, Clinton performed with flawless logic, in the eyes of the profiteers of war production. The crackpot Reagan Star Wars deal has been reactivated and military spending has been increased far beyond reason by a president still protected by people supposedly devoted to peace. After all, he is a lesser evil than...Al Gore?

At the Wall Street casino, the Vegas stock market continues to make many rich, and others relatively affluent. But the majority keeps sinking into debt, even as corporate media broadcasts the seemingly constant lowering of the unemployment rate. So? Under slavery, there was no unemployment at all among black people. Does what you do and for how much matter?

There are more folks working than ever before, but far too many are part-time and without any benefits. This is supposed to represent individual freedom, which is kind of like Clinton representing individual honesty. By the way, he never lied when he said he didn't have sexual relations with that woman. All the DNA test proved was that he may have had sexual relations with her dress.

There were more than 670,000 layoffs in 1998, mostly corporate jobs replaced, if at all, by small business employment and lower salaries, but this is missed in headlines about creation of so many new jobs. More folks are working, but less dollars are being earned. Corporate capital cannot profit by paying all workers what they are actually worth, but in profiting by paying them less, it runs the risk of having goods and services pile up because they are unaffordable . So, in order to get the under-paid to over-consume and buy up all the waste that makes us a great nation, credit is needed, not only on a national and international scale, but in personal life.

The credit binge made necessary in order for the underpaid majority to survive and consume has created a personal debt burden massive beyond belief. For the first time ever, the national savings rate shows a negative figure, meaning that most of us are spending more than we earn. Even as we buy into greater debt, a backlog of production is causing the greatest negative trade balance in our history as foreigners cannot afford to buy our exported excess. This is the booming economy behind the popularity of our president, keeping his polling rate high in public interest , no matter how low he sinks in private principle.

Moral confusion is vital to keep things running smoothly for the oligarchy of capital. Church, state and community training seem to teach that private morality is important, though public performance warrants no morality at all. Such confusion helps develop politicians who make public vows that they have never had sex, while privately prostituting themselves for campaign finance money. It also makes an already overcrowded political center more congested, as Republicans move to stifle their vocal right wing, the way Democrats have almost obliterated their barely audible left wing. But millions of Americans are nowhere near an economic or political center, instead falling victim to the widening gap between the top minority and the bottom majority.

Numerous world leaders, including the pope, have questioned the system of global capital, its lack of social responsibility and its tendency to destroy the very people and earth it depends on for creation of its profits. This contradiction was analyzed a long time ago by Karl Marx, but capital control has meant organized denial for more than a hundred years. We seem to be outgrowing that state of mind, but very slowly.

Our military is preparing America for terrorist raids, with maneuvers in cities and towns that threaten civil society more than any alleged outside threat. At the same time, we make enemies of the Kurds, a group we defend in Iraq and persecute in Turkey, and thereby create more hatred in a world we just don't seem to fathom. Maybe it's good that the misunderstood soap opera in Washington is over. For all its substance that was abused and not acknowledged, its end may allow us to acknowledge the greater substance in signs of dangerous abuse in our political economic system.

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