The Ownership Society

Remember that Bush slogan? This was going be the time when people and businesses would be responsible for themselves, without the government clinging like a monkey on their backs. The free market would set things right and, unfettered by bureaucracy and unspoiled by handouts, America would prosper like never before.

Well, it didn’t exactly turn out that way, did it?

I’m not sure how many of you have heard of Danny Schechter, a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, former 20/20 producer and reporter, winner of several Emmys and one of the smartest critics of the American media on the planet. I used to link to him until about 2006, when he fell off my radar screen.

Now he’s back on my radar screen. I just read one of his articles that is so terrifying, I have to conclude Schechter is either clinically insane or a prophet. If you want to google around, you’ll see that he is highly respected and has a rather incredible track record when it comes to dissecting what’s actually going on in the world (as opposed to what we see in the media).

Anyway, all of that was just a way to lead up to to this link. This is about as over the top as one can possibly get – or so it seems. But it would also have been over the top six months ago to even think, let alone to say out loud, that Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, AIG and others (many more to come) would crumble one right after the other. Totally over the top.

Schechter says we may be on the verge of a civil war. Normally this type of alarmist talk would make me laugh my head off, but not in a week when I read that the domino effect of the subprime crisis could soon lead to similar meltdowns around the globe.

But back to Schecter’s post. Just a short snip:

Some are saying that because of this dire emergency, the election could be “postponed.” That may be too unlikely and unnecesary, especially if it is fixed or if both candidates sign on to the PLAN, what ever it is. We don’t even know the details yet but both McCain and Obama are aboard as you may have seen on 60 Minutes Sunday night.

This seems to follow the pattern layed out by Naomi Klein–create a shock and disorient the normal processes of government to impose emergency rules by fiat. It is shocking, but few in the media are even presenting the voices of critics who feel this way.

This measure is being sold as a way to help everyday Americans but the first time that members of Congress wanted the bailout to apply to distressed homeowners, Tresasury Secretary Paulson’s predictable response was a big fat NO WAY.

Thanks a lot.

This power grab has a name—“the troubled assets relief program” or TARP. Gretchen Morgenson of the NY Times compares this tarp to others, “the kind of thing they spread over muddy fields so you don’t spoil your Guccis.” This is also a tarp they seem to be pulled over the eyes of the American people and its Congress as the fear weapon is used again as it was after the last 9/11.

He goes on to say an actual armed insurrection in America is not out of the question in the weeks ahead. Yes, I know how nuts that is sounds. But this guy is not a fool and he’s not crazy. Of course, he may be totally wrong (I sure hope so), but he’s got credentials and he’s equal opportunity – he goes after Obama’s campaign manager without mercy. (Scroll down in that post to find the Schechter quote.)

So I am not saying I agree, only that I am listening and wondering, just how serious is the crisis we are in? Are we on the verge of a precipice as steep and equilibrium-eradicating as 911? It doesn’t feel quite that severe, but can anyone read the headlines and say there isn’t a surreal mood settling in around the nation, a state of angst and confusion, as if we were heading into an uncharted and possibly dangerous territory? I can only relate it to 911 because that was perhaps the only time in America, ever, that I had to ask myself, What the fuck is going on? Is this a dream or reality? What is happening to the world? Today, especially after reading Schechter’s piece but even by simply reading the headlines.

And do keep an eye on gold.

The Discussion: 7 Comments

A quick link: the reprehensible William Kristol has long been rumored to be a McCain campaign advisor. (Which would be strictly verboten at the NYT.) Reading today’s column on what to do about the mother of all meltdowns, I am more inclined to believe the rumor than ever:

Or McCain — more of a gambler than Obama — could take a big risk. While assuring the public and the financial markets that his administration will act forcefully and swiftly to deal with the crisis, he could decide that he must oppose the bailout as the panicked product of a discredited administration, an irresponsible Congress, and a feckless financial establishment, all of which got us into this fine mess.

Critics would charge that in opposing the bailout, in standing against an apparent bipartisan consensus, McCain was being irresponsible.

Or would this be an act of responsibility and courage?

So not at all surprising to see McCain suddenly questioning the Paulson Plan and adding conditions. Maybe just a coincidence, of course.

September 22, 2008 @ 11:41 pm | Comment

The Ownership Society…

Remember that Bush slogan? This was going be the time when people and businesses would be responsible for themselves, without the government clinging like a monkey on their backs. The free market would set things right and, ……

September 23, 2008 @ 12:00 am | Trackback

How we became the United States of France – This would be hilarious if it weren’t so damn true.

September 23, 2008 @ 12:15 am | Comment

In re: “an actual armed insurrection in America is not out of the question in the weeks ahead” Sorry Richard, I think he’s drinking the water. You won’t see any armed insurrection in the U.S. for years, unless it’s by idiots of the Waco/Branch Davidian stripe. But then, no one can control the miniscule armegedons of the quirky self-immolation types, but they have no real national impact except to tie up the evening news. Real revolution, via insurrection or ballot, is not around the corner. We will just have to muddle through.

September 23, 2008 @ 6:59 am | Comment

Lirelou, I certainly don’t believe there will an insurrection in the US – unless enough businesses and banks suddenly go under. And I acknowledge it sounds nuts. But when you get structural changes of the scale of what’s happening right now, I’m not discounting any possibility, even the seizure of all gold by the government, which Franklin Roosevelt did in 1933.

September 23, 2008 @ 9:48 am | Comment

I’m trying to get a vision of the hordes of art-history majors from San Francisco storming Wyoming and North Dakota………but I just can’t get the image to stay put. Maybe hordes of students with spray cans in Austin?

September 23, 2008 @ 2:06 pm | Comment

Sam, just tell me one thing: are you still willing to make that bet with me? Because I’m ready. Shall we?

September 23, 2008 @ 9:56 pm | Comment

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