First step: Stop believing in the myths and the lies. Think of the zealots who embrace faith based free markets as the embodiment of the host of the Who Wants to be a Millionaire show in Slum Dog Millionaire – a complex film that covers the spectrums of fantasy, hope, love, renewal, abject poverty, cruelty, hate, murder, evil, greed, torture, lawlessness, corruption and suffering. Fast forward to the great gambling houses of Las Vegas, Monte Carlo, to name just two of many. Next visualize Sarah Palin who squandered 200K of other folk's money on her personal spending sprees. And the crowning jewel of free market insanity, Bernard Madoff, gets the prize for one of the worst spawned by the Republican voodoo economics ideologues.
Second Step: Stop being stupid.
In a New York Times editorial on Saturday entitled Stop Being Stupid, Bob Herbert reminds us of just how downright brainless and clueless we have become over the last several years.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12… In his article Mr. Herbert refers in principle to the right wing policies and ideologies of the Bush Administration and those of the RNC. And yet at the same time Herbert reminds we-the-people that we too have played our own enabling role in the current financial debacle.
And so have the U.S. press and corporate media who have willfully signed on as stenographers if not outright propagandists for the Republican right wing agenda of the last decade.
Indeed, collectively as lawmakers, journalists, voters, borrowers and credit card users alike, we all drank from the same toxic well. Few if any of us asked about its toxicity levels before imbibing its poison.
Regulators and gatekeepers joined in the mix and together all of us held power hour after power hour of tossing back shots, one after another, of a very poisonous brew. We grew drunk, silly and stupid on perceptions of mythical make believe money and fairy tale wealth. The more we grew silly, dumb, dazed and confused, the richer and more empowered and emboldened Bush Co. grew.
It is time to stop self-destructing, folks.
Look around you. We have behaved in ways that were incredibly, astonishingly and embarrassingly stupid for much too long. We've wrecked the economy and mortgaged the future of generations yet unborn. We don't even know if we'll have an automobile industry in the coming years. It's time to stop the self-destruction.
Mr. Herbert urges the U.S. government to stop spending money on unnecessary wars overseas. Instead it would be far more helpful and productive to invest in the overall well being of Americans and the health of our economy at home.
Herbert also implores us to stop spending money that we simply do not have. He cites Bernard Madoff, The Swindler of all Swindling, who admitted to the FBI that he paid investors with money “that was not really there.” How on earth Madoff could pay investors with nothing is beyond me, but he did it and he got away with it for decades. Had his sons not turned him in, Bernie Boy Made Off would still be in the business of paying investors with a mythical perception of money.
It is time to dispel the mythologies fabricated by the greed mongers, i.e. the Masters of the Universe on Wall Street, their right wing enablers in Washington and their complicit partners in the corporate media.
Somehow, over the past few decades, that has become the American way: to pay for things – from wars to Wall Street bonuses to flat-screen TVs to video games – with money that wasn't there.
Buying things with money that is not there will exact a heavy toll especially in the big leagues when there are no restraints placed on predatory sharks and drunken wild cowboy types on Wall St. and their partners in Washington.
Something for nothing became the order of the day. You want to invade Iraq? Convince yourself that oil revenues out of Baghdad will pay for it. (Meanwhile, carve out another deficit channel in the federal budget.) You want to pump up profits in the financial sector? End the oversight and let the lunatics in the asylum run wild.
The drive to keep up with the Joneses by using fairy tale home loans and credit cards corrupted by usury level interest rates and loan shark styled late fees may not have been such a good idea either.
For those who wanted a bigger house in a nicer neighborhood, there were mortgages with absurdly easy terms. Credit-card offers came in the mail like confetti, and we used them like there was no tomorrow. For students stunned by the skyrocketing cost of tuition, there were college loans that could last a lifetime.
Unfettered, unregulated capitalism on a global scale turned out to be yet another really dumb idea.
We were stupid in so many ways. We shipped American jobs overseas by the millions and came up with the fiction that this was a good deal for just about everybody. We could have and should have taken the time and made the effort to think globalization through, to be smarter about it and craft ways to cushion its more harmful effects and to share its benefits more equitably.
The fat cats in corporate America and their go-to pimps in Washington thought exclusively of the corporation's profit lines. An equitable sharing of the harmful benefits of a global economy never entered their greed-infested souls.
But the lunatics took full control of the financial levers and our impending financial doom when Washington threw open the asylum doors and swept in dramatic tax cuts while fighting two, yes, that would be two wars.
We bought into the dopey idea that you could radically cut taxes and still maintain critical government services – and fight two wars to boot!
OK so we're pumping billions upon billions of our tax dollars into a ginned up war with Iraq and yet here at home we are losing jobs, homes and a shameful number of us cannot afford health care insurance. Thank you, Bush Co., so very much. But Bush Co, has always been more about Halliburton than about us-the-people.
The lunatics also drove away any modicum of “adult supervision” of the predatory sharks and wild cowboy investors on Wall St.
We were living in a dream world. The general public, and to a great extent the press, closed its eyes to the increasingly complex and baffling machinations of the financial industry, which kept screaming that oversight would ruin everything.
We should have known better. It didn't require a genius (or even an economics degree) to understand a crucial point that popped up some years ago in a front-page article in The Wall Street Journal: “Markets are a great way to organize economic activity, but they need adult supervision.”
Mr. Herbert concludes by urging us to stop being stupid. He implores our political leaders to get smart by investing in a 21th century U.S. infrastructure, affordable health care, quality and meaningful education and other means by which the American people can become more productive, healthy and competitive. We should care for our environment, if we want to continue to enjoy a shred of healthy living and it behooves us to do something serious about weaning our energy dependence from foreign oil.
Can we hear the forthcoming crescendos of protest in the forms of self-righteous screeching and histrionics from the right wing and Southern Republicans? If one can, simply insert earplugs and ignore them. Turn off the TV and radio when their water carriers in the media spew the lying points.
And, finally, we need to start living within our means and get past the nauseating idea that the essence of our culture and the be-all and end-all of the American economy is the limitless consumption of trashy consumer goods.
Whatever happened to the notion that “there is no such thing as a free lunch?” Deep inside us we know this to be true and yet somehow we bought into the fairy tale of a free five-star quality dinner, with very fine wine to boot, with no strings attached whatsoever.
I applaud and approve Bob Herbert's message. I take the pledge to stop being stupid. I never bought into the free market lunacy but I've been stupid enough at times to believe some of the economic pundits on the TV news.
Those who have voted for W. and sold their souls to the evils of the free market fables and mythical perceptions of money may wish to join a fairy tale addition recovery program while taking the pledge to stop being stupid.