Every day we live our lives, most of us, in stark reality. Some of us may say: What? Stark reality? Few of us think of “reality” as being stark or even thinking of our daily lives as being reality. We live in an atmosphere that is a visual and audible perception of events, a parade of activities that take us to our jobs, our homes, our friends’ homes, to libraries, supermarkets and churches…some of us. But one way of describing that is “stark reality.” It could be defined in many more relaxed, perhaps less jarring terms. Nevertheless, we are reality-based. We may have dreams of becoming a banker, but meanwhile we live our daily reality, whatever that may be.
Our reality is what we do every day, what we eat, where we live, whom we know. Much of our reality is our work, our daily job. The reality is that life without a job is normally life without income. At its worst, that means starvation and death. And that is a reality for many around the world every day, even as you read this. Consequently, jobs are important. We ameliorate the absence of employment through the contributions of society…we share small parts of our goods for the good of others through taxes. We share our goods with others through charity. But reality says that you are either working and being paid or you are not. We dream while living our daily reality.
The biggest dream that most of us have is that we will never die. We really don’t want to die, most of us. In the United States today there is a large component of society who do not live in reality and dream of everlasting life. They live in the dream of everlasting life and deny reality. Not people who are merely religious. No, this is the group that actually lives life in a dream of an afterlife. The reality of their daily lives in invaded by their dream of life after death.
Not a bad life if you can get it. Of course, we can’t. This set of non-reality based thinkers would lead us to some kind of spiritual paradise. They demand that we all live our lives in a transcendent reality. In other words, according to a set of rules, supposedly from God, according to their interpretation, which, frankly, is based on the flimsiest sort of theology. More often than not, it is based on no theology at at…based more often on currency than theology. These people are the the fundamental Christians of the Right Wing of the Neoconservative Republican Party.
Belief and hope are good things. Religion is a belief that is very simple to define, although we often make it much more complex. Religion says this: if you follow certain rules, when your body dies, something called a spirit will carry on. It will carry you, your essence, into some realm invisible and only vaguely knowable to us now. Each person’s belief is slightly different–even within the same religion–from that of another. one person’s vision of heaven may include Pebble Beach golf course and another a perpetually mild Alaska where the anointed catch one salmon after the other throughout eternity. For others that could be the place where punishment occurs. Most of us by now have heard of the 72 virgins, although most of us doubt seriously that murdering 3,000 people enabled that dream to come true.
Reality says something else. Reality says that most of us must get up and go to work tomorrow. This of course assumes that you even have employment. So that brings us to current reality. In current reality, those whom we mentioned have a non-reality based theory tell us that a Deity, which, in this country is normally Jesus because he is the most common and most often quoted and read and understood, has ordained that we must live our lives a certain way. In real life it turns out that people normally follow paths directed by very complex circumstances, their DNA, their environment, parental guidance, education, psychological shocks, not to mention spontaneous talent and genius. If your family was Muslim, for example, it is quite likely that you will become and live your entire life as a Muslim…or a Catholic or a Lutheran. Right or Wrong. You had no choice at birth.
So we live with an inner conflict. We may dream about everlasting life or about riches beyond avarice, but we need to deal with reality today. So what is our reality? Right now, reality says that the same people who have been telling us to dream as if tomorrow were already here are also citizens of immense wealth and power. They most certainly do not want the vast number of Americans, used to working in pretty good jobs, owning cars, sending kids off to affordable colleges to think about current reality.
Current reality is not very pleasant. On the other hand, some of the most powerful political forces are using our difficult reality, the current depressed economic circumstances, to try to re-write recent history. The six big media companies have one real goal. To maximize their profits. They certainly do not want to focus on the reality of our current economic situation. They want us to believe that life is getting better because then we will spend more and corporations…big national advertisers will spend more on media.
Americans understand and are angry at our current reality. Not the kind of anger that the trumped-up “tea bagger” demonstrations would suggest. These were simply morons promoted, paid or encouraged to come out in public and express their petty grievances or their racist attitudes. They were stirred up by those same six big media companies and that handful of boards of directors who wanted to shift attention away from their scandalous behavior for the last eight years. They wanted to shift the reality onto a President and a Congress who have been in office for less than a year. They want to shift blame for greed and indolence to a group of people who have been able to do a remarkable job, given the fact that the first six months was primarily an attempt to keep us from total collapse as a nation.
From what or from whom are we being distracted? Let’s take one example. A man named Grover Norquist runs an organization called Americans for Tax Reform. His entire career has been a combination of working through Right Wing Republican connections to cut social programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He has referred to the inheritance tax as a death tax ( it is better referred to as the Paris Hilton Retirement Tax) and he says that it is, somehow, equivalent to “genocide.” It is in reality an inheritance tax that averages out to approximately of 15% on inherited income over about $5,000,000
Norquist is an example of the new Republican reality. He is not only against elderly and poor citizens receiving their tax money back in the form of social services, he is also against the average worker making a decent living. His organization is against the recent Employee Free Choice Act which would once again, after nearly 30 years, make it easier for workers to try organize a union without having the organizers fired for doing so. He is known also for having been involved with Jack Abramoff. It was clear from Emails from Abramoff to others, talking about Americans for Tax Reform, that Abramoff’s clients would have to pay as much as $50,000 to Grover Norquist’s group to gain access to people in government. It was further alleged by the justice department that Noquist’s group laundered about $1.3 million of money from Abramoff’s lobbying clients.
In the last eight years, Grover Norquist has watched and said nothing, did no effective lobbying, prevented no expenditures by his own party, resulting in an additional $5 trillion added to our national debt. That includes $700 billion at one stroke in the last quarter of 2008, just to save the country’s financial system which his spendthrift Republican colleagues devastated. Grover Norquist’s organization has received millions of dollars from the Republican party. But we hear nothing about it in the six major media.
Grover Norquist represents another kind of reality. He represents the reality of American politics, encumbered by people like himself, swirling around the Congress and every new Administration, like vultures, waiting to pounce on the smallest piece of the budget and fold it and put in in their own pockets. Reality for Grover Norquist is pretending to be against higher taxes for citizens. Yes, he pretends to urge cutting the size of government. But in the meantime, while he was distracting the public and many sincere Republicans, the Neoconservatives under Bush created such huge debt that the government would be forced to cut essential services for citizens. The services that Grover Norquist’s reality says are not necessary for you to have.
The powerful interests in Washington, especially those on the Right do not want those who have been laid off from their jobs to dwell on their current reality. Many of those jobs have been sent overseas, to make more money for the wealthy while further impoverishing the former middle class.
We used to look up to the wealthy, especially the families like the Rockefellers who spent the second and third generations using their wealth to improve society non-stop. Or the new generation, like the dot com millionaires, many of whom gave away huge portions of their millions after earning them. Or like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. We know their story…billions to charity. The term “look up to” probably started with the idea that God was in his Heaven, up there somewhere. We bow our heads because the general direction of heaven is up. We look up to prominent citizens. Often these days, when a baseball player hits a home run or a football player scores a touchdown, you will see them raise an index finger to the sky…pointing up to a higher power that helped them achieve the goal. So we look up to Deities, scholars, the wealthy, the anointed or the appointed. We look “up” to them as if an authority. But is that true any longer? Are we so certain that they are worth “looking up to?”
How do we know what we know? We read newspapers, read books. But most of us let the intrusive media wash over us like a tide, let information drift into our system on electronic waves, from television and radio. For many centuries the superior class, those who were most identified with religion and authority, which were largely the same, were those individuals ironically referred to as “noblemen.” Ironically because these were people who became noblemen through having greater success in ignobly killing people than than those who did not become noblemen.
They became noble by eliminating others. But God and authority and power became mixed in Western society. Over time, the wealthy, prominent and powerful, while not always God-like, were nevertheless honored. Today it almost seems to defy reason. Should we honor those who send thousands of our citizens abroad to kill others without good reason? Is it our moral duty to run off to foreign lands to kill people with great efficiency so that the rest of the world will “look up” to us. Should we believe that the more people we kill, the more respected we will be? Is that how it works, still in the 21st Century? That noblemen are killers and killers, therefore are noblemen?
Fortunately, inside the United States we solve most of our political problems through elections. Some problems are also created that way. But nature’s noblemen in our society have–for good or ill–been those who are either very wealthy, which implies success or those who have had such success in an endeavor that they are recognized by society as singularly proficient. But only the wealthy have real political power. Those who are Nobel laureates or are recognized with professional awards may or may not have wealth. But only if they do have wealth do they have any real political power. They often make money brutally…Henry Ford paid his workers well…then decided to retool his plants and simply basically fired them all for a year. And he wondered why they objected. After all he would hire them all back next year, once he had a better place for them to work.
How do we know what is real? It isn’t easy. The people who now run our media, structure the news, tell us what we know are the people who own it and they are not necessarily the people to whom we should entrust our daily reality. If noblemen would kill people in Jesus’ name to advance themselves, who is to say that owners of media would not slightly shade reality to advance their own agenda? What better way to control the agenda than to hand the people the reality that you want them to have.
That brings us back to jobs. Here is some stark reality: how many times a day does the media discuss jobs, the lack of jobs or how to create jobs? Not bloody often. Well, here is some more reality. Sixteen million (16,000,000) need jobs. And because they do not have jobs, and the stress on the economy that it brings, another sixteen million live with the daily anxiety and uncertainty of losing their jobs. But does the media discuss this? No, it does not.
It does discuss Michael Jackson. Almost daily and for many weeks almost non-stop. While it does discuss somewhat critically the billions in bonuses for the same Wall Street executives who caused our economic problems, it does not–which it could–suggest converting some of that money into direct investment in creating jobs instead of more paper transactions on Wall Street. It does talk about the lives of movie stars and rock bands and all manner and form of entertainment. Is that your reality? Remember, big media does not want to discuss your reality.
Here’s why. the wealthiest in society do not dream of Valhalla. They already live the dream. They are not dreaming about 72 virgins or everlasting life. They want to live here, just the way they are living now. They do everything possible to continue to live a wonderful life. The owners of the six big media companies get it. They understand. Life is about reality. And their reality is not your reality. They want to keep the status quo. They have no incentive to change. They have an incentive to keep people dreaming about everlasting life or being a banker or why Michael Jackson changed his nose so that they can prolong this life and make it last as long as possible.
When Rush Limbaugh who basically owns his own “little” media empire says something, you can count on the fact that it serves only Rush Limbaugh. When Rupert Murdoch’s media empire puts out a memo to all staff and all outlets to promote “tea parties” you can count on the fact that Rupert is planning ahead, figuring out how this is going to benefit him. Rupert has good health care. He doesn’t bother his people about trying to help you get good health care. His goal is to disrupt new and progressive policies in government because the current situation…one that he controls heavily…his current reality…is one he likes just fine, thank you. Don’t shake the tree.
Your reality is that one out of every 8 people in richest country in the world are unemployed or moving from temporary job to temporary job. By the way, the United States is still the richest country in the world. But the wealth…most of it, the vast majority of it…is now in the hands of the top 1% of the population. The top 1% now earns more than the entire bottom 90% put together. The top .1% now earn more than the bottom 50% percent. So something like 3 million people, half the population of Chicago, earn over 50% of all the income. More than all the people west of the Mississippi River.
The American People must stop living a dream. Dream, yes, but live reality. Reality is …health care. Get behind health care. Reality is…better jobs. Get behind unions. Reality is…creating new energy opportunities because it is the future. Get behind energy legislation that will create more jobs. You probably should stop paying attention to the media. Except perhaps for those who are attacked by the rich and powerful.
Recently former President Bush the elder) pointed out two in particular. Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. Olbermann is a commentator on MSNBC who appears largely to debunk other television networks and obvious scams. His two most recent transgressions were, first, pointing out that calling a doctor who legitimately performs abortion procedures in a clean, safe clinic a “baby killer” is rash and dangerous. Even more so since that doctor was recently murdered by a religious and gun fanatic. This doctor was one of eight killed in the last several years by those who still believe that killing other people is the way to get to heaven. The idea apparently is that you understand what “God” wants and other people, often with much better educations than you (often any education is more) do not. Olbermann’s second transgression was raising well over a million dollars, the first $25,000 of which he donated himself to establish fee clinics to help those who are sick and have no insurance nor any way to get the kind of medical help they need.
Maddow, actually Dr. Maddow, Ph.d. a Rhodes scholar must have done something only the first President Bush understands because her program is normally to bring on conservatives with whom she disagrees and debate them. These two were called out by an American member of the “oiligarchy.” Yes, an oilman, co-founder of an arms conglomerate, the Carlyle Group, a Texas Republican, who like the Swift Boaters is part of that Right Wing political machine that literally re-drew the political map of Texas to eliminate almost all Democratic districts. A Right Wing Republican, he started the first Iraq war, and was unable to persuade his own son not to attack Iraq again. So he bears some responsibility for the death, destruction and debt of the last 28 years of Neoconservatism. Some might refer to him as the Founding Father of all our recent disasters.
Stark reality says that we must change this form of rule by political “nobility” where we “look up to” people who should be cast down. When half of an entire elected body refuses to participate in the creation of services that the people need desperately and then consciously work on behalf of the groups withholding those services… they should have no respect. And no position in government. When a media does not point out directly that this is happening, but equivocates and presents the truth on one side as fact and lies on the other side as fact…this is not journalism. They have too much power over the message. When banks are too big to fail, and so they grow to enormous size, then fail, then are bailed out by taxpayers, then grow and become rich again…on taxpayer money…that bizarre unreality must end. Government has been complicit in altering reality to plans of the wealthy and powerful. When media owners are so powerful that they can create their own reality…present a dream, a fantasy…as reality and persuade some foolish people, like the tea baggers, to believe it, then media must change.
As long as their reality wins…no private investment, no new jobs, no health care, no adjustment of the political structure–we will continue to move in the direction of those who want us to live their version of the dream. Only by facing reality…that we are now controlled more than ever by very powerful forces, enabling dreamers to create a nightmare of society…will we return to a truly American lifestyle.