The Reagan Catastrophe: More Evidence

trickle down cartoon

The Reagan Revolution (h/t Thatcher and Huntington) was a set of assertions about how to make life better for people. Despite possible cracks in the ice, TPTB in the United States have not yet come close to renouncing this still-regnant framework.

Meanwhile, the evidence is absolutely mountainous that the Reagan Revolution has been one of human history’s most catastrophic failures. All of its core claims about the benefits of allowing capitalists to return to their pre-WWII level of comfort and command have proven to be utterly wrong.

The most recent piece of evidence showing this trend pertains to media ecology. Here is what the Reuters Institute discovered in its latest survey of trust in news media in 92 countries:

Trust in the news has grown, on average, by six percentage points in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic with 44% of our total sample saying they trust most news most of the time. This reverses, to some extent, recent falls in average trust bringing levels back to those of 2018. Finland remains the country with the highest levels of overall trust (65%), and the USA now has the lowest levels (29%) in our survey.

This is major evidence.

Of course, given the problem it expresses, it will not be treated as such here in the market-totalitarian United States.

Instead, our pundits will make up silly explanations, to the tiny extent they mention it. Like, for example, this:

One explanation, though not necessarily the only one, is the extreme political polarization in the U.S. This study, like many others, found extremely high levels of distrust — 75% of those who identify as being on the right thought coverage of their views is unfair.

Yes, not necessarily.

Would we have the burgeoning crisis of an increasingly anti-rationalist “conservatism” if we hadn’t so completely surrendered our media to the lords of commerce? The thought never occurs, of course.

Neither does appreciation of the basic fact that the evidence shows that letting “markets” dictate media form and content is proving to be a complete and total disaster.

Fusion and Fission

The next phase of the “electric vehicles” haloware operation is apparently going to lead to a big build-out of charging stations.

Unsurprisingly, the stations are being planned as nodes for further communicating to “shoppers at retail and essential business locations– seconds before they select a brand.” As interfaces for big business marketing operations (including advertising and data scraping), that is.

The image above, from one of the aspiring installers, is fascinating at several levels. Where, for starters, are the actual automobiles? There’s one way across the scene, curiously NOT being charged.

More fundamentally, this depiction shows a society whose cultural planners have no intention of offering up anything but more of the same, come Hell and/or high water.

Shop til you drop, babies!

Holy Truths

Since the United States remains corporate capitalism’s flagship and proving ground, the forms of publicly-subsidized waste that sustain it have long been sacrosanct in American culture. When it comes to discussing these vital flows in public, rational questions are forbidden, and cover stories consist of the wildest fictions.

Consider what The New York Times says about today’s Congressional over-ride of a Presidential veto of the Pentagon’s new $740,000,000,000 budget:

The vote reflected the sweeping popularity of a measure that authorizes a pay raise for the nation’s military.

NYT, January 1, 2021

It would be very hard to cram more untruth into fewer words.

Is there, in fact, “sweeping” support for increased military spending? There certainly is among Congresspersons. But there absolutely is not such a sentiment among the population, as the slightest fact-check shows:

It is also difficult to decide which is more petulant and hateful: The appeal to raising soldiers’ compensation, or the use of the phrase “pay raise for the nation’s military” to denote this topic.

This is the kind of thing that makes it rather hard to get much worked up when this supposedly canonical source carps about other entities’ disdain for basic facts and logic. On topics where power requires it, prevarication here is just as brazen as it is in certain Floridian brothels and country clubs.

Trump as Excuse

New York Times Op-Ed columnist Jennifer Senior’s latest is titled “The President Has Made Selfishness Our National Credo.”

Compare that claim with the one stated by the late economist Robert Heilbroner:

“At a business forum, I was once brash enough to say that I thought the main cultural impact of television advertising was to teach children that grown-ups told lies for money. How strong, deep, or sustaining can be the values of a civilization that generates a ceaseless flow of half-truths and careful deceptions?”

The Source of Trump’s Fortune

apprentice logo image

Trump Derangement Syndrome is real, and very widespread.

Its cardinal symptom is perceiving this highly predictable product of market totalitarianism (itself a highly predictable product of corporate capitalist normalcy) as an anomaly, rather than an outcome.

TDS has two main strains.

One is the absurd, Clinton/Democratic Party-promoted idea that Trump, who is both patently incapable of holding complex thoughts and also the very definiton of unreliability, is somehow a Russian agent.

The other is what I call the “Doorstep-of-Fascism” hypothesis. This variant of TDS paints Trump as somehow about to unleash state totalitarianism in this increasingly progressive, structurally ungovernable, and thoroughly couch-potatoed society.

The New York Times‘ reporting this week on Trump’s long-hidden tax returns, however, shows the real truth about the origins of this mega-cretin:

The Times calculates that between 2004 and 2018, Mr. Trump made a combined $427.4 million from selling his image — an image of unapologetic wealth through shrewd business management. The marketing of this image has been a huge success, even if the underlying management of many of the operating Trump companies has not been.

Other firms, especially in real estate, have paid for the right to use the Trump name. The brand made possible “The Apprentice” — and the show then took the image to another level.

NYT, September 27, 2020, emphasis added

Trump inherited his daddy’s ill-gotten fortune, and used his privilege to sell himself, at a lucky early moment, as Reaganism’s Ideal Man. Commercial television, which exists to promote the sale of corporate products, then eventually hired Trump to continue peddling this sick fantasy — and it worked, all around, as the Times story reveals.

So, the obvious main fact is this: The bulk of Donald Trump’s fortune — half a billion dollars — came from the entirely normal and logical workings of mainstream American corporate media, meaning the normal and logical workings of “our economy.” Trump, in other words, is as American as Ronald McDonald, Nancy Pelosi, and the CBS Evening News.

Liberal and radical physicians, heal thyselves.

New Media

addiction spoof on Facebook logo

“Facebook might have won already, which would mean the end of democracy in this century,” [Jaron] Lanier said. “It’s possible that we can’t quite get out of this system of paranoia and tribalism for profit—it’s just too powerful and it’ll tear everything apart, leaving us with a world of oligarchs and autocrats who aren’t able to deal with real problems like pandemics and climate change and whatnot and that we fall apart, you know, we lose it. That is a real possibility for this century.”

A major hypothesis.

Nota bene: New media are new, but also not new. Both the incessant expansion of data-harvesting and the shift away from print-dominated media are major marketing (read: corporate capitalist) imperatives.