What to do about it all is described in outline form in my September 2, 2010 entry on this blog, Avoiding the Even Greater Depression: We Can Still Build A Sustainable Recovery. I don’t know whether time is running out forever, or whether we’re just losing precious time. I guess when time runs out it’s always forever, isn’t it? But what I mean is, I don’t know whether we’ve already lost, or are losing, our last, best chance to begin to set things right, or whether, with the passage of time, it’s just become harder to do so, and perhaps likely that we will. Deep and excellent analyses of the problems we face are contained in the articles identified by their titles in the caption to this entry, and a few others whose inclusion would have made the title too long. They appear at http://www.counterpunch.org/green09062010.html (David Michael Green, Why the Right Is Winning); http://www.counterpunch.org/baker09022010.html (Dean Baker, Burning Down the House); http://pdamerica.org/articles/news/2010-09-06-10-19-05-news.php (Michael Hudson, Is the Economy As Broke As Lehman Was?); http://robertreich.org/post/1058622195/the-great-jobs-depression-worsens-and-the-choice-ahead (Robert Reich, The Great Jobs Depression Worsens); http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/waking_up_in_the_1930s_20100903/(Howie Stier, Waking Up In the 1930s); http://www.fpif.org/articles/the_political_consequences_of_stagnation (Walden Bello, The Political Consequences of Stagnation).
Bigger or smaller pieces of the solution are referred to, more or less, in some of them. I don’t think I have a monopoly on good ideas. But I don’t see much in the way of comprehensive prescriptions elsewhere, so again, if you’re looking for a program to address what’s happening, see my 9/2 entry, and the sources I cite. The likelihood of my program being enacted looks pretty slim, to put it mildly; but the likelihood of anything short of effectively addressing the problems outlined above is just about nil.
There is at least one thing further I want to mention about the rest of today’s buffet. There is in some of the articles, and in Jim Kunstler’s excellent piece of this morning, titled In The Headlights (http://kunstler.com/blog/2010/09/in-the-headlights.html), an assumption or conclusion that it’s because people are stupid that they’re taking all of us down for the count. While I understand not everyone has the same mental capacity, or intellectual ability, I think it misses the boat to ascribe so much of what’s happening to stupidity. Lack or paucity of intelligence is something for which a person is not responsible. And to call people stupid is to miss the workings of that vast propaganda system that does the job, with more funding than most of us can imagine, of keeping people confused, focusing their attention on trivialities, perhaps dividing them through skillful manipulation of xenophobia, even just burying them in irrelevant information. That system, its origins and general operations, is described in Noam Chomsky’s “Propaganda and Control of the Public Mind,” a brief talk available in transcript or on CD from David Barsamian’s Alternative Radio (http://www.alternativeradio.org/; 1-800-444-1977). An even briefer but excellent illustration is provided by John Pilger (Faking the News) at http://www.zcommunications.org/flying-the-flag-faking-the-news-by-john-pilger.
Polling data consistently show that the American public is generally to the left of policymakers in government and the media, perhaps more compassionate and even savvy than they, which I think says something for their intelligence. To the extent there is some explaining to do beyond the confusion, xenophobia and rest that I attribute to the propaganda system, I think denial is a more likely culprit than stupidity. I’m afraid I don’t understand denial – the apparent ability not to see or understand what is in front of your face, under your nose, assaulting your senses. But if you substitute “denial” for “stupidity” wherever the latter appears in the essays mentioned above, and perhaps elsewhere, I think you’ll be closer to an accurate statement of the problem.
I wish I could close with, Happy reading! But this is heavy fare. Let me wish you instead, Good understanding, and a chance to do something about where we’re otherwise going.