State of the Union on the 4th of July
Expanded from the Sunday, 7-4-2004, Daily
Sparks, Nev., Tribune
and the 7-9-2004 Comstock Chronicle
So how fares the nation on its symbolic birthday? I fear that we have regressed toward Thomas Jefferson's original goals: life, liberty and the pursuit of property, a not necessarily contradictory construct coming from an oxymoronic libertarian slave owner.
I forget who convinced Jefferson to change the chase from the concrete to the abstract, but his earlier draft has proven prescient. Our relentless pursuit of property has perverted all else we have become.
The desire to consume has subsumed all other values.
Indeed, greed can explain all of the ills which afflict us. The avaricious know that the best way to vacuum people's pockets is to make them afraid. The exploitation of fear is the grease lubricating the wheels of greed.
Why do so many people get sold on buying bigger guns, the latest in fashion, sexier deodorants, macho SUVs or low-carb but nonetheless chick-magnet beer?
Fear. Fear of the other, of not being popular, or attractive, or of looking unsuccessful.
Advertisers even motivate us to buy through manipulating the clock. If you don't show up before the sale ends on Saturday, you must fear not getting the best price and selection during "the greatest sale in our history."
What's more exhilarating than becoming more deadly, or attractive, or fragrant while achieving those goals at 40 percent off?
NUMBER ONE WITH A BULLET
Mike on the road with Crackers the Corporate Crime-Fighting Chicken.
There is no greater example of the death spiral of greed than Wal-Mart. Sam Walton started out with an arguably meritorious idea: bringing more goods to small communities. The monster eventually got out of control, turning formerly robust downtowns into ghost towns.
"The $12 billion worth of Chinese goods Wal-Mart bought in 2002 represented 10 percent of all U.S. imports from China," BusinessWeek reported last October. U.S. companies now fire their customers in order to get cheaper goods produced overseas.
The biggest problem with corporations is that they don't die but enjoy all the rights and privileges of citizens who do. Our current U.S. Supreme Court was not the first staunchly pro-business group of conservative black robes. A late 19th Century version declared corporations to be people and today we carbon-based life forms come into increasing conflict with the soulless undead who live only on paper.
As was written of the acid-blooded insectiform beasts of the "Alien" movies, corporations are perfect, their ability to survive matched only by their hostility. The predators instinctively know that they must eat more and more to grow and grow. The bill of fare includes people, governments and countries.
Greed may be found as a driving cause of every war in which this nation has ever participated. War is the most counterproductive and brutally bearish thing you can do to your own economy. But we're talking greed here, and greed is good. remember. It motivates people.
Appealing or seeming to appeal to self interest is always good salesmanship for everyone from car dealers to presidents.
But somewhere, the law of the jungle is supposed to take a back seat to a more enlightened, kinder and gentler way of doing things. Isn't it?
Not as long as the paper aliens are in charge. Once again, life imitates art. Like the evil robots of so many movies, corporate decisions are becoming increasingly efficient at eliminating inefficient and obstructionist carbon-based life forms, also known as people.
We of the land of the free and home of the brave probably still think we can rise above all that if other people would just recognize our good intentions. (What was that material paving the road to hell?)
Some make a big deal of calling us a Christian nation. We aren't. Not as long as we spread mayhem along with our money.
A union carpenter from Nazareth once said it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. This Christian nation has chosen to ignore that ancient admonition.
The advice of Jesus was sound. When the U.S. had a tax code that spread the wealth and taxed corporations like people, we enjoyed the greatest economy the world has ever known. We peaked in 1968 and have been going downhill since.
The pursuit of happiness is not the pursuit of property. Doing so hurts both life and liberty. Thomas Jefferson never learned that lesson and apparently neither have the rest of us.
How independent do you feel on Independence Day?
REGISTER TO VOTE TODAY. Unlike the continuing attempts by Jebya in Florida to prevent lots of people from voting, if you cast a ballot in Nevada, there's a pretty good chance it will be counted. Local Latino media are promoting voter registration at the Sparks Marina today and you will be allowed to register even if you don't speak Spanish. Hours are 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Tell 'em the Barbwire sent you by.
Be well. Raise hell.
Copyright © 1982-2004 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 35-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
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