23 January 2010

Demented or Possessed?

Did a lot of ironing this evening. Saturday is my Sunday, you see, and I try to put work aside. But while ironing my brain goes on walkabout, so that while I am pressing the yoke of my blue shirt I am thinking of lots of other things than ironing.

For example, the funeral I attended on Thursday evening for the husband of a colleague and friend. Packed. The little storefront church was full and then some with people like me and family. And it was a spontaneous thing, almost casual and yet overflowing with thoughts and feelings. Her associate Susan did it and boy is she good at it. I am professionally jealous as she is very new compared to me, but so gifted with presence.

Then I thought about the Supreme Court decision, see I told you this was weird, and why the Times analysis article is good but misses the point. You can read it here. Yes, it may not lead to outright corruption but it does tend to ossify the 'golden rule' to wit, whoever has the gold makes the rules.

The power of Wall Street even after its near collapse and outright demolition of the financial system, so severe that the government essentially had to ransom it back, is astonishing. I mean that a year or so later they are still saying they are the 'masters of the universe' and above all legitimate scrutiny. And they get away with it why?

Because they have so much money. Money being the mother's milk of politics since 1860 at least, and in these media saturated days the crack cocaine of politics, those who have the most to give or spend determine not who wins but what we are voting about.

Simple fact that gets overlooked - money = power. Not just fancy political power but the simple power to buy stuff. If voicing your opinion is free speech, but the air is for sale (air supposedly owned buy the people) those with more money can by more air. Their opinions get heard more. They shape if not set the agenda by what they say and what they do not. The whole tea bag movement was created by media and money. Nothing spontaneous about it as it required money and people and media to happen.

That's the problem. It does not corrupt the government. It corrupts the people. I called this decision the sign we are becoming Imperial Rome, not because of military swagger or the tyranny of the executive, but because it all happened because the people were seduced by bread and circuses.

We may not demand actual food anymore, but the circus is what politics is now, and we love it. Give us more, we say, salivating at quick quips and fast retorts, the jabs and uppercuts of words that make us cheer or wince. Blood in the sand is what we love, and we will cheer for whoever gives it to us, lifting them on our shoulders for that moment of vicarious courage.

This is what money does. It buys us cheap thrills on TV that gradually, like Gresham's law crowds out real discussion with real thinking. Until we can no more tell real debate from staged protests, just like we cannot tell real news from fake news. Hey, the fake news is more honest these days.

Ok, I gotta get my head out of the gutter and think holy thoughts for tomorrow. See ya.

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