what the cyclops feeds us
Expanded from the Sunday, 12-14-2003, Daily
Sparks, Nev., Tribune
12-18-2003 Comstock Chronicle
I've been carping, cursing and curmudgeoning for so long that even I get tired of hearing me complain. So herewith, just in time for Christmas giving, the first part of my personal list of stuff I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired about.
CORPORATE CYCLOPS. During the gilded age of the late 19th Century, a stacked U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons and thus have many of the same rights as people. Americans have paid a harsh price for creating such monstrosities. More than a century of legal inbreeding has produced the current generation of bloodless mutants. Because they have only one eye, their depth perception is limited to profit at the exclusion of humanity.
America entered into a phase of mature capitalism a couple of decades ago. Rather than innovate, companies now simply acquire other companies, cut them up like cannibals, sell the most valuable body parts and ship the remaining work to jungle sweatshops overseas. Look at some of the results. Three corporations own most of the radio stations serving this region. (See the December edition of Harper's magazine for a maddening story on how Clear Channel Communications, which has substantial holdings in this market, places a stranglehold on both recorded music and live concerts.)
Censorship is not the exclusive domain of media outfits. Wal-Mart sells so many recordings and magazines that it has affected the content of both. There are some albums and publications it will not sell. Recording companies have produced sanitized versions to cater to Wal-Mart's Confederate cracker tastes. (Tipper Gore is no doubt quite pleased.)
When Wal-Mart comes into a community, its first order of business is cutthroat competition to put local merchants out of business. The monster then hires them at minimum wage to sell the same goods to their former customers.
Watch "NOW with Bill Moyers" this Friday night and Saturday morning on KNPB TV-5 for the latest depredations of Wally World. The program will show how Wal-Mart's low wage/no benefit jobs impose huge social costs on communities for unnecessary luxuries such as food and health care.
Kinda like casinos.
The kissing cousins of these one-eyed jacks are...
MEDIA WIMPS. Wal-Mart is such a big advertiser that it can stifle negative news coverage. The art and science of creative censorship has its roots in WWI. Edward Bernays, the father of the public relations business, applied to the private sector the propaganda techniques he learned in the army. Fast forward eight decades and we have a free press which is largely not free, but corporate. The watchdogs of democracy set up by the founding fathers have mostly mutated into one-eyed cyclopses, too. The remaining vestiges of a free press repose in small newspapers and the Internet.
Foreign media have largely provided the best coverage of the ongoing Iraq War, while their corpulent and corporately compliant U.S. counterparts have been reduced to printing Pentagon press releases. The big media reflect twisted chivalry, not wanting to kiss and tell on anyone they've been embedded with.
No news medium informed me about Dubya using a prop turkey for his Baghdad Thanksgibleting photo op. I learned of it in a letter to His Accidency, the President of the United States. Michael Moore wrote: "I read in the paper that that big turkey you were holding in Baghdad (you know, the picture that's supposed to replace the now-embarrassing footage of you on that aircraft carrier with the sign "Mission Accomplished") well, it turns out that big, beautiful turkey of yours was never eaten by the troops! It wasn't eaten by anyone! That's because it wasn't real! It was a STUNT turkey, brought in to look like a real edible turkey for all those great camera angles...The fake honey glaze on that bird wasn't much different from the fake honey glaze that covers this war. And the fake stuffing in the fake bird was just the right symbol for our country during these times. America loves fake honey glaze, it loves to be stuffed, and, dammit, YOU knew that that's what makes you so in touch with the people you lead!"
GREASED POLITICIANS. Halliburton is gouging gas prices in Iraq in the finest corporate tradition. Last week, California State Sen. Tom Torlakson, D-Concord, held a hearing on pump prices. Immediately thereafter, he stated his agreement that the problem lies with inadequate west coast refinery capacity.
This rube swallowed the oil companies' chimera guts, feathers and all.
I sent him an e-mail referring him to the eight years of contrary research I've printed on this subject, available online at the Barbwire Oilogopoly Archive. I got a form letter in response.
What a guy.
More of the list soon.
THIS WEEK: The City of Reno Citizens Cable (TV) Compliance Committee, which I chair, meets at 6:30 p.m.Tuesday at Reno City Hall. It will be cablecast live on Charter/SNCAT Channel 13, with reruns at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 19, and 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 23. Watch Channel 13 on Wednesday as the Reno City Council votes on another freebie franchise extension for Charter Cable.
It's your money, so tune in, turn on and tell a friend.
Be well. Raise hell.
Copyright © 1982-2003 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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