The New York Times today headlines an interpretive piece, the main claim of which is this:
Yet even as vital signs weaken — plunging home sales, a bleak job market and, on Friday, confirmation that the quarterly rate of economic growth had slowed, to 1.6 percent — a sense has taken hold that government policy makers cannot deliver meaningful intervention. That is because nearly any proposed curative could risk adding to the national debt — a political nonstarter.
Translation: The overclass, as always, prefers Great Depression to a pro-labor shift in the distribution of power. This society remains entirely capable of employing all its able-bodied workers and thereby ending the present economic cliffwalk. What it lacks is a left coherent enough to demand what the elite won’t mention.
On what passes for the political left, analysis of corporate capitalism’s radical commercialization of off-the-job life has been atrocious. Among the disservices performed by allegedly radical thinkers has been their thoughtless habit of adopting the business elite’s “consumer” vocabulary as a legitimate conceptual framework. From the unjustly famous to the realm of everyday flippancy, examples of this disastrous, careless parrot-job abound.
If you wonder how much violence gets done to reality by not only swallowing the notion that “consumer” is a fair-minded label for product-users, but by the accompanying habit of treating the steeply stratified and deeply divided world of actual off-the-job humans as a pool of undifferentiated “consumers,” take a look at this recent report by Barbara Ehrenreich and Dedrick Muhammad.
It’s all over, this Great Depression III, they say. The stock market is somewhat happy and there’s an unfreezing of the short-term securitization markets, they say. You know, those two things are clearly the engines of economic well-being.
The mouse that doesn’t even squeak, the Orwellian sop to Naderian special pleading, the organization that dares put “highway traffic” and “safety” not just together, but together in its very name…
So, let’s say the Congress wanted to find a way to give away some free money to help further bail out car capitalists by encouraging commoners to step up their anemic, Great Depression III automotive purchasing rates. Which governmental agency would one expect the money to be managed by? The Commerce Department, perhaps?
In reality, can you guess where the conduit lies for the federal government’s new Car Allowance Rebate System, a.k.a. “C.A.R.S.”, a.k.a. “cash-for-guzzlers” program?
Yep: In the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration!
This fact speaks volumes in several directions, not least as proof that the NHTSA, both by design and established practice, does nothing serious to make personal mobility safer in this market-totalitarian society. It is a cover, a shield, a deflector for our massively deadly, dangerous, and irrational cars-first arrangement. Hence, in a nation where 35,000-55,000 people die in car crashes each and every year, the NHTSA in the year 2009 has the time and staff to administer a complex program for passing out free money for even more cars!
Footnote: If you watch any TV, you’ll have already noticed that, in local auto dealers’ aggressive come-on advertising, “cash-for-guzzlers” is most certainly not being explained in any substantial degree. Judging from these ads, which (at least in my “market” of Portland, Oregon) are blatantly mis-labeling the program “cash-for-clunkers,” any reasonable person would conclude there are no requirements for obtaining money other than owning a clunker.
In reality, there are narrow rules based on vehicle age and gas-mileage ratings.
Hence, the actual main effect of the “cash-for-guzzlers reimbursement system” is to serve as a publicly-sponsored marketing platform for a new round of bait-and-switch selling on the nation’s car lots. “Now that you’re here…”
Turns out the odious phrase “the American dream” was coined in 1931, during corporate capitalism’s Second Great Depression.
This invasive, oft-injected mental virus is highly adaptive, too, according to the most recent polls of citizens living during this present Third Depression.
Somehow, this Satanic distraction fuses the polar notions that having a chance to become a billionaire and “having a roof over your head and food on the table” are not only one and the same thing, but also acceptable dreams about the highest possible outcomes history’s richest, most powerful empire might possibly produce.
As Barry Glassner suggests to The New York Times, it’s absurd, this deeply corrupted, business-boosted culture of ours.