Wednesday, January 5, 2011

See No Simians
It looks like no one in charge made a New Year’s resolution to clear those 800 pound gorillas out of the White House. There they lie amid the overpowering stench that we refuse to even wrinkle a nose at.
We’ll call one of these beasts our expiring economy. Our national consensus holds that we should depend upon the free market rather than the government to restore prosperity. Just let corporations do their thing without having to fret taxes and regulations, we’re told, and we’ll soon be farting through silk again. Really? The ape on the ottoman poses a question we dare not ask ourselves because we don’t want to know the answer. To wit: What if the free market believes that there are more profitable places on earth to make money than in the these United States? What if they've decided to create more jobs overseas than here? What if we just become one big Michigan or upstate New York?
Side stepping that reality as if it were a simian stool on his new presidential seal carpet, President Obama instead offers platitudes about becoming more “innovative” and "out-competing other countries around the world."
Become more innovative? Out-compete? Who or what is he talking about?” asks former labor secretary Robert Reich. “Big American corporations are innovating like mad all over the world, with research and development centers in China and India And their profits are soaring. They're sitting on almost $1 trillion of cash. But they won't create jobs in America because there's not enough demand here to justify them.”
Demand, meaning people with the inclination and money to buy stuff, is the product of steady jobs and decent salaries. Both of those notions have been cast into disrepute by our current politics. We are told instead that austerity, meaning the shedding of jobs and cutting of pay packets, are the solution to our ills. And lots of us are stupid enough to believe it. Meanwhile, for our businesses, like say IBM, the action has moved on to Bahia and Bangalore.
The other primate in the parlor that we refuse to acknowledge is our failure at arms. It’s now a decade since the world’s most expensive and deadly military launched what used to be called a punitive expedition against the feudal Pashtun tribe in Afghanistan. At best, hedges our commander in chief, it will be another four years before we can think about getting ready to retire from what has become an exercise in self-punishment.
The pundits have already declared Iraq the worst foreign policy decision in U.S. history. With that slot filled, Afghanistan will have to settle for being the stupidest. But those superlatives aren’t actually so. We have merely repeated the Brit disaster in the same part of the world a century ago that prompted Kipling to pen, Now it is not good for the Christian's health to hustle the Aryan brown. For the Christian riles and the Aryan smiles and weareth the Christian down.
Amazingly, there’s still minimal outcry against this futile fight with the feudals. So long as their kids are not drafted, Americans have apparently become as willing to abide endless multi-trillion dollar wars as they are for being constantly in hock. So if you take the White House tour don’t forget your hip boots, nose plugs and a couple of bananas.

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