I have seen the commercial and on it Fred’s husky voice tinged with a strong dose of down home country flavor easily brings back memories of elderly men gathering around an old roll-top soda cooler in a roadside general store talking politics, the weather, and crazy wives. It’s easy to imagine Fred as some grizzled county judge for whom the assembled gentleman look to for guidance on complicated matters such as when to plant the next corn crop or if it was going to be an early fall.
In the commercial Fred, using that voice and looking all official, appears to be in some office complete with desk and decorative American flag explaining to us how Bush’s tax cuts jump started the economy during the 2001-2002 recession. The gigantic and glaring omissions Mr. Law and Order left out was that Bush inherited a sizable federal surplus from that nasty Bill Clinton fella and that Bush’s following budgets doubled the national debt on their own long before Mr. Obama darken the hallways of Congress much to the chagrin of conservatives.
As I was running my early Saturday morning errands and listening to NPR the hackneyed actor and failed presidential candidate was asked to delve deeper into why the sky would fall if Bush’s tax cuts were not extended. My mind spun off into a fourth spatial dimension as Fred talked about how the federal deficit was an evil creature out to cook young children over an open fire then consume their tender flesh. But then, spinning neatly around began making the point that Bush’s tax cuts were needed so the richest one to two percent of the country would feel safe to invest their money and single handedly save us all from ruin. After all, he said, they do the big investing and take the biggest risks implying they should garner the biggest rewards.
Now this was not some puffball piece and the NPR guy got after Fred asking, well if you can’t cut the deficit by increasing taxes what would you do Mr. Bigshot?
Fred clearly drew on all his reserves of down home charm by saying in a nice way that cutting expected Social Security payments and raising the retirement age would be a big thing as well as cutting Medicare. In short, the working class would have to suck it up and take the hit for the country while the rich worked their financial magic. Being that my 401k, a major element of any possible retirement, was a tiny part of the two-trillion implosion of the stock and bond markets as financial wizards played their games Social Security increased its importance to me in my diminishing hope of living out my golden years fishing on some beach. To have the good senator essentially say I was shit out of luck and could not dependably plan on Social Security while his buddies toughed it out on their yachts and summer homes in the south of France about made my head explode.
That brings us to Reverend Manny and his book which explains how the working class keeps getting the shaft all through history while the rich swear up and down they are doing us a favor. In the first few pages of the book Manny asks,”All I’m asking is, does it seem like we are getting a fair shake for our sacrifices?” (page 7)
Given the pretentious rant I have already offered in this post I would easily and with enthusiasm say hell no! It’s not just retirement accounts, it’s the working and middle class being offered up as sacrificial lambs on the ornate alter of capitalism with business types worshipping profit above all else. We are talked down to like little children as smiling business people explain that sending the good paying jobs overseas allows consumers a greater variety of cheap products made in slave labor conditions. It’s those same cheap products that come back to haunt us when they poison our children because they are contaminated with toxic chemicals and covered in lead based paint.
Manny then asks another question, “Why do so few people in America organize for better systems?” (page 7)
He points out that the wealthy and powerful folks market their political ideas to us through religious figures, politicians, fake news broadcasts, corporate sponsored think tanks full of fake academics, and several other propagandistic avenues that ultimately turn a democratic system against itself. I’d have to throw in as well a healthy dose of basic and willful ignorance along with a large segment of simply not giving a damn, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Which brings me to: “In America, a great bulk of the political population has become little more than a reactive paranoid swarm, under the rhetorical, cultural, and political control of a few ideological strongmen.” (page 12)
Well, guess what group of little shits with delusions of godhood he is talking about and don’t limit yourself to just males. There are more than a couple of whacked out females who make a living spreading the corporate sponsored manure.
One of my favorite parts was how Manny took apart the classical American Dream, one being the Horatio Alger version where some kid, born to extreme poverty, becomes some sort of gazillionaire through hard work and persistence and the other being the suburbanite version.
Pigging backing on the Horatio myth, back in the 19th century a dude named Russell Conwell promoted the idea that if you don’t make it rich in America it is because in some fashion you are immoral. (page 26-27) It is curious how this idea has popped up again with several Teabagger candidates having cows saying something to effect that the unemployed in 2010 just want that free money from unemployment benefits. Never mind that when this crap started to be spoken out loud by them economists agreed that we have five people going after one job in this current economic downturn.
The second part jumping on my favorite people, the suburbanites, pretty much describes the warm fuzzies I get around them. These people who spend so much time cocooned in their McMansions doing their best to ignore the world freak out whenever the subject of tax increases are brought up. One fool I had the misfortune to talk with felt he should not be subject to school supporting property taxes since his kids had long since become adults.
In later chapters we get a history lesson the various shitheads that helped establish and work desperately to maintain a hold of the American consciousness. (page 46) Including a segment on the religious types who push their brand of Christianity robbing it of the compassion and forgiveness I was taught as a child by my grandparents. (page 103)
I could go one for several more pages giving hints on how Manny has detailed the criminal schemes that promote hate and ignorance both here in this country and around the world. Instead I will close saying that while I do not agree with his conclusions 100% there is very little daylight between our positions. A great many in this country have willingly sold their souls believing the lifestyle they have can be perpetuated indefinitely. Through ignorance and fear we are forfeiting those least able to deal with the hardships that keep most of us comfortable and safe.
Manny ends the book on a hopeful note saying that there are things that can be done. But honestly I am uncertain at best, for decades we have sown the wind with our actions and I believe there will come a time when we will reap the whirlwind. The funny thing is the idiot swarm, long since devoid of any ability of critical thought, will more than likely see no defect in themselves but in everyone else. I highly recommend you buy the book and decide for yourselves.
You can order the book at his website: Reverend Manny and The Twilight Empire.