Grandma's coffee can
Expanded from the 12-31-2006 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
I make it a point not to speak ill of the deceased while eulogies are still being composed, but ex-presidents influence many lives. The death of Gerald Ford brings some very pressing problems into timely relief.
Mr. Ford by all accounts was a good and decent man, but his wife's accomplishments have already far outstripped his three years in the oval office.
With all due respect to Ford's long service, his public support of the invasion of Iraq was just plain shameful now that we know he actually believed the opposite. Hundreds of thousands lie dead, almost two million have been displaced and Americans will suffer the hatred spawned by these depredations for decades to come.
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and Ego Trips
The Dean of Reno Bloggers could very well be Andrew Barbano, self-described "fighter of public demons," who started putting his "Barbwire" columns online in 1996 and now runs 10 sites.
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Professional courtesy to a fellow member of the presidents' club provides pretty poor rationalization.
Many of my colleagues in columny have attributed Ford's defeat at the hands of Jimmy Carter to Ford's pardon of Richard the Rotten. That was only part of the picture. By the time Ford was sworn in, respect for the presidency had been going downhill since Lyndon Johnson.
Ronald Reagan's famous line "government is the problem" was a vote of no confidence both in himself and the job he coveted.
A democratic society can only survive with government balancing the interests of business and labor. We are today very off-center. This year, for the first time on record, wages and salaries represented the lowest percentage of national income since tracking began in (gasp) 1929. In stark contrast, the piece of the pie inhaled by corporate profit stands at its highest since 1950.
No wonder people are angry and lashing out at whomever or whatever is handy, from godless liberals to raving ragheads. As long as the upper crust can keep the lower classes fighting each other, they will have their way with us like a horny lacrosse team.
Economic stress causes voters to dis-elect parties and presidents. Johnson refused to raise taxes to pay for the Vietnam War, resulting in the rampant inflation of the 1970's which was only stemmed when Federal Reserve Chair Paul Volcker, with the midstream assistance of President Reagan, brought on the double-dip recessions of 1980-82.
President Ford's most lasting claim to fame on the economic front came in the form of his infamous "Whip Inflation Now" or "WIN" buttons. Inflation instead whipped us and we backlashed him out of office.
Today, a far less admirable man holds the presidency. Like Johnson, he has borrowed heavily to finance military adventurism. Although it has been increasing over the past several years, inflation has not yet reached double digits largely because of the export of American jobs. Layoffs, buyouts, downsizing, outsourcing, health care cost increases and pension ripoffs have produced the kind of insecurity that causes voter revolts but makes those who still have a job skittish about asking for a raise.
Suicide is not problem solving. I daresay that most voters don't like the idea of fighting inflation by sending our manufacturing to other countries. A robust economy is based on making things, not managing production in Beijing or Bangladesh.
Evidence that war wrecks national vitality is readily apparent in news footage from the likes of Baghdad and Beirut. Over here, it's much less obvious but just as corrosive. Dubya and his dogmatists have chosen to put everything on the nation's Mastercard, a guaranteed drain for decades to come.
Back in college in the 1960's, I remember how we were taught to scoff at what was termed "depression psychology," the attitude that bad times may come again tomorrow, so don't spend your money, save it preferably in a coffee can buried in the backyard just like grandma did. (She remembered 1929-32 when banks dropped like flies. Younger people can remember the savings and loan debacle under Bush the First when the same thing happened at great taxpayer expense.)
If consumers stop spending, economies crash. Look around you. By terminating thousands of workers, Ford and General Motors are firing their own customers. No less than voracious Wal-Mart saw its sales slump this year.
In retrospect, Gerald Ford has proven to be a model American, symptomatic of the poor choices which place a nation and a world at risk.
Happy New Year.
Save your coffee cans.
Be well. Raise hell.
Johnson, Chalmers; REPUBLIC OR EMPIRE? A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States; Harper's magazine; January, 2007; (not available online for several months, if at all). I love it when heavy hitters validate what I've been saying for years in the tiny Sparks Tribune.
Barlett, Donald L. and Steele, James B.; America: What Went Wrong? (1992); America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (1994); America: Who Stole the Dream? (1996) ; Andrews & McMeel/Universal Press Syndicate. For additional comments on the work of the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning team, use the NevadaLabor.com search engine and sweep for "Barlett."
The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey
Excerpted from the book available below
ORDER Taking the Risk Out of Democracy
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press
SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.
By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit big business goals. Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Alex Carey noted that by 1948, anti- New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)
Adjusted for inflation, that 1948 $100 million becomes $801,659,751.04 in 2005 dollars.
Conservatives Help Wal-Mart, and Vice Versa
As Wal-Mart struggles to rebut growing criticism, it has discovered a reliable ally: conservative research groups.
New York Times 9-8-2006; Free registration may be required
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A prescient Plato on the dangers of oligarchy
The sands of time do not cloud the long memories of the sheiks of Araby
Rinfret, Pierre A.; Peace is Bullish; Look magazine, 5-31-1966
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Copyright © 2006 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 38-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
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