Thursday, July 19, 2018

U.S. Culture Is Fucked rant (February 16, 2018)

We can’t enact meaningful gun control, and our children are murdered in our schools.

We can’t enact meaningful environmental protections, and our planet is being steadily rendered uninhabitable.

We can’t enact meaningful education funding reforms, and opportunity is rapidly slipping away from working- and middle-class families.

We not only can’t enact effective redistributive policies, but actually enact a destructive tax plan that transfers even more wealth to the richest Americans—and ordinary Americans struggle to afford everything from housing to health care to child care to education, let alone start businesses or save for the future.

What the hell is wrong with us?

One problem is that the SCOTUS decisions in Citizens United and McCutcheon have eviscerated even the weak campaign finance laws we once had. The ability of large corporations and other wealthy donors to make effectively unlimited contributions to political candidates has ushered in an era of political corruption usually only seen in the most wretched regimes of the developing world.

Another problem is the extensive and increasingly sophisticated use of political gerrymandering to create Congressional districts that are overwhelmingly red or blue. This has fostered a dynamic in which moderates cannot survive their primaries, and the more extreme candidates who win those primaries easily cruise to general election victories.

Still another problem is the transformation of the airways and other broadcast channels from a public good into a figment of the marketplace. Where we once had an “equal time” doctrine, we have now seen an atomization of major news media into outlets that cater to particular viewpoints. If you are a hard-right person who only watches the hard-right news channel and reads the hard-right website, then you probably aren’t going to give much thought to any opposing viewpoints. Of course, now you can even select your own facts to go with your diet of unfiltered, rage-breeding opinions.

Which brings me to the final point: we seem to have no mechanism for compelling truth or punishing dishonesty in this country. Absurd factual lies by people in positions of high authority are routine, and happen with seemingly no consequence to the speaker. Trump and his crew may be the epitome of this, but the problem is hardly limited to him or even to Republicans. Consider, for instance, that the same David Brock who wrote the odious, falsehood-laden hit piece “The Real Anita Hill” wound up running Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

How does that happen? People say shit. It’s false. Nobody cares. Nobody does anything. Our kids get shot in schools. The ice caps melt. College costs more than a house. A trip to the ER now ends in bankruptcy court. Nobody cares. Nobody does anything. What the hell us wrong with us?

This is what #doom looks like.

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