Our Saving Disgrace: Economic Sheep Dip

I’ve walked and I’ve crawled
on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles
in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard,
it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.
– Bob Dylan (A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall)


This morning I awoke to the sound of a hard rain washing away yesterday’s fog. I’m an American; I live in Greece.

In the ‘States’, yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday, in some respects a day that has become less about NFL football and more about big business and advertising. In Greece it was just a ‘lack of business’ as usual. While pre-game tail parties and the commercial brainwashing of Americans were in full swing, political theatrics were being played out by Greek technocrats and bureaucrats that have turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the will of the people.

And, all the while bankers and ‘big business’ continue to turn the screws on ‘we’ the sheep.

The Big Game Or The Big Ad Blitz?

Given the 8 hours difference between time zones, I didn’t stay up and watch the big game. This morning, however, I went online to NFL.com to see the highlights. Now one would assume the games’ video highlights would be front and center … it wasn’t. Instead, emblazoned in large capital letters was a link to “WATCH THE SUPER BOWL ADS”. Apparently, this is the appalling state of affairs the NFL and to a larger extent our American pastime has deteriorated into at the hands of big business and capitalism. Nothing is sacred anymore, not even the Super Bowl. These days all the sport has to show for its glory is Doritos, Coca-Cola, Donald Trump and special effects laden Hollywood would be blockbusters. Oh yeah, there was at least one saving grace: Danica Patrick, but that’s another story.

Even this morning, YouTube has a little football in its main logo. But clicking on it doesn’t get you any Super Bowl realted video, or any football video for that matter. You get what YouTube/Google (SkyNet) refers to as “Ad Blitz 2012”. You can’t watch the game again, but you can see all the ads your brain can muster. You can even vote for your favorite ad, over and over again. Yes, yes … it’s all about big money, big business, and big brainwashing these days.

Interestingly enough, I decided to stomach the glitz and glitter that have nothing to do with grit and gridiron football. You see, I wanted to ‘be in the know’ concerning what would obviously be today’s Twitter trends. So I watched.

At one moment, I was pleasantly surprised that Chrysler would include Clint Eastwood delivering a sobering yet rallying pep-talk, spurring our nation on to an industrious comeback. His speech took the form of a Detroit oriented fist-pumping commercial titled “It’s Half-Time America”. In the next moment, I saw a giddy pig gleefully racing down a highway doing a street luge for an insurance company. A short time later I was inspired with a General Electric (GE) ad touching on employees as the impetus for innovation and creativity in the USA. This gave way to my scratching my head over a mind-numbing ad equating the satisfaction from receiving a tax refund with a little boy pissing in his family’s swimming pool. With ad rates going for about 3.5 millions dollars per spot, I was confused. Very Confused.

Deaf, Blind and Dumb

Meanwhile in economically strapped Greece: the country’s political leaders have declared war on their own people. For months, the Greek government has been negotiating over the terms of a second financial bailout, another ‘saving disgrace’ to cover up for previous governments’ ineptitude in ‘mismangling’ the country into debt. Yes, more money is needed to be flushed down the debt toilet; the bog is hungry. Deadlines and ultimatums for accpeting harsh austerity meausres are announced … but then come and go. It’s all a game really; mental masturbation in the form of sour faced technocrats huffing, puffing, and chest beating in denial of the fact that throwing good money after bad simply does not work.

Yes, I know it’s a delicate situation. Yes, I know the Greek people are caught between a rock and a hard place. I live here. I suffer, too.

Adding insult to injury is a game of theatrics that the leading hypocrites of the 3 main political parties are playing. Despite economic ruin, they shirk from responsibility and play party politics in some obscene vote seeking maneuvers in light of  upcoming election. Seizing power and sustaining their political careers is all that really matters to them … and yet, votes will continue to be squandered on them for no good reason, perhaps just to maintain the status quo and keep the house of cards from collapsing completely. 

No Guts, No Balls, No Brains

It’s the usual story with the usual suspects. The bankers want money. The politicians want votes. The people want relief and in general a good life. Sorry folks, but as usual ‘the people’ are the odd man out. Yes, in the end we, the 99%, all get screwed. Promises are made, votes are given, money is lost. What else is new?

In Greece, it’s even more morose. Despite all the dead horse beating, financial default at some point in the future is almost a foregone conclusion. Yet, no one wants to state the obvious that beating your head against the wall, even one more time, won’t make the headache go away. No one wants to admit that joining the Euro was a mistake. No one wants to admit that the formation of the European Union (EU) was really about easing restrictions for getting German and French products into neighboring European countries. Come on now, you all know it’s true. The one thing you can count on regarding a possible collapse of the EU is that when the German chain of Lidl supermarkets shut their doors in Greece, the fat lady will have sung the EU’s requiem.

Still, it’s all hard to swallow. In ‘saving disgrace’, what’s the right answer? Do you take your medicine or do you tell the doctor to fuck off? I’d argue that yes the medicine tastes bad, but it’s more serious than that; the patient was misdiagnosed from the start and is basically being force-fed poison while bleeding out. Sure, I know it’s difficult to pull the plug, but let’s be honest: Greece is brain-dead. The body in the form of its people are twitching in agony. A brain transplant is needed, but there are no donors. No one wants to commit political suicide over this.

Junk Bonds And Fetid Feta

In many ways, Greece, much like the USA, is being held hostage by ‘bankers’ and investment firms, and in this case bondholders. Now it should be obvious to anyone that with investment comes risk. Guarantees? Forget it. Advice? Don’t invest in worthless bonds.

Oh, but wait … the government gave its word! Well, giving your word is easy. Standing behind it is a different matter altogether. Investing in bonds backed by a long procession of self-serving bureaucrats that are habitual defaulters and that have run the country into ruin is just stupid. Yes, I know ‘default’ is a dirty word, but there you have it: sorry guys, you got screwed! Take your lumps and scram. If you are a glutton for punishment, there are plenty of European Union ne’er do wells (Italy, Spain, Portugal, Romania) who are more than willing to fleece you. Really, for investors it’s “stupid is as stupid does”. No sympathy needed for those devils.

As for the ‘powers that be’, keep in mind that I’m not an economist, but ideally, I think that ‘government’ should be bringing money into the country by encouraging private industry to create products of value that the rest of the world needs … not begging for handouts and floating hollow bonds that burst faster than soap bubbles. Sure, I’ve got some prime property located under the Golden Gate Bridge, too.

Furthermore, in the specific case of Greece, it should be wise to note that exchanging public sector jobs for votes is not a way to run a country. Duh. Moreover, squashing private industry is no way to spark productivity and competitiveness. Bigger duh (ad nauseam)!

“Necessitous men are not free men”

If you’ve read some of my posts, you’d know that I believe that ‘Big Business’ is bad. You know what? Apathy is worse. There are those out there that are trying their best, regardless of their reasons, to change the world. Some call them anarchists. Some call them humanists. Some even call them revolutionaries. Big Business and its conservative lap dogs tend to generate fear by calling them ‘Marxists’ or even ‘threats to our way of life’ … as if ‘our way of life’ as mindless consumption slaves to multinational corporations and oil cartels is something to revere.

Last night I watched Michael Moore’s 2009 documentary titled, Capitalism: A Love Story. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it. Even if you can see through some of the stretches of innuendo, it’s still a great watch and very thought-provoking. However, what was most inspiring to me was not any sentiment or scandal Moore himself put forward, but rather it was a brief film clip of a 1944 ‘State of the Union’ address delivered by our 32nd president, Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR). It concerned his proposal for an economic Bill of Rights, or what he referred to as the 2nd Bill of Rights.

FDR understood what ‘Big Business’ wants you to dismiss: that our political rights that were guaranteed to us by the constitution, and then squashed on the captains of capitalism run amok, are inadequate to assure us equality as we flail about in our pursuit of happiness, convenience, gluttony, Big Macs and 4-wheel gas guzzlers. It’s mind-boggling to me that Roosevelt’s humanistic and cautionary message has been lost over the years in our willingness to be brainwashed by mind splitting orgasmic shopping experiences. What’s worse is that the message has most likely been insidiously suppressed by the puppet masters of ‘Big Business’.

Of Roosevelt’s words, please consider the following:

“It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure. This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however – as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness. We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made. In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed. Among these are:

  • The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation
  • The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation
  • The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living
  • The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad
  •  The right of every family to a decent home
  • The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health
  • The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment
  • The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being. America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.”

Personally, I was blown away by the above. For me, it was a wake up call of sorts, one in which I’m still reeling from. All this good intention and concern, spoken by an intelligent and caring president, who understood that a great nation must take care of its own. All this spoken by a man who understood that big business will eventually cripple the average person’s standard of living and that selling out to ‘Big Business’ is morally corrupt.

Yes, some days I wake up and wonder why the world has gone to hell in a hand-basket … and why despite our state of disgrace, we keep asking for more gruel.


Suggested Reading:

The Second Bill of Rights: FDR's Unfinished Revolution--And Why We Need It More Than Ever The Plots Against the President: FDR, A Nation in Crisis, and the Rise of the American Right Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life 


Suggested Viewing:

If you live in Greece: http://www.stopcartel.net/

If you’ve seen Capitalism: A Love Story, check out these extra facts: http://michaelmoore.com/books-films/facts/capitalism-love-story


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