State of the Onion
Expanded from the 2-5-2006 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
|In a world of little men and big machines, the only way to win is build a bigger machine.|
Donald Duck's Uncle Scrooge
No one was surprised that Dubya vedged out during his state of the union address. The speech was more pungent than poignant, befitting the veggie of the evening: a mushy onion.
Peel away the thin skin and you start to cry. Things smell worse the deeper you delve. You can't help getting some of it on your body and you come away dripping with irony.
So stinks the State of the Onion, 2006. You gotta admire the sheer chutzpah of a bunch of guys who have figuratively and literally gotten away with mass murder. They are untouchable by law enforcement (which they control), by the political process (blame the queers for 9/11), or personally no one will come close to them because their rotten onions act like tear gas.
Must be nice to live above the law because you serve the higher power of corporate treasuries. Even the Saudis are playing the game, shocked shocked! that Bush the Lesser wants to cut petroleum purchases. Turns out that the president pulled his figure of 75 percent reduction out of the onion-soaked air in order to have something important-sounding to say. (He had to remove health care from his shpiel at the last minute.)
Us auld politicians know we're being shucked when some guy hawks a solution 10 or 20 years down the road. For the Cheney Gang, alternative fuel programs are just Trojan horses for dirty coal and carcinogenic nukes. Right on cue, a new pro-nuke group (based in Salt Lake City) just announced itself. It will work to open the Nevada Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dumpsite.
If you want proof that America's workers are indeed disposable, look no further than recent dowsizings by dying auto makers and the obituaries of needlessly dead coal miners. Read "Coal Miner's Slaughter" by Christopher Cook in the online edition of "In These Times" magazine.
General Motors and Ford are rolling over and playing dead while Africans with AIDS are being left to die. While some money goes to medical treatment, a huge chunk of Dubya's much-ballyhooed program (from a previous state of the union speech) gets shunted to the bank accounts of pet U.S. religious groups. As a result, millions in AIDS aid flows to just-say-no proselytizers and prophylacticphobiacs.
On the domestic front, Dubya last week took pains to mention medical savings accounts, a skulduggerous scam to give banks a share of physician decision-making now monopolized by insurers. MSA's give people monetary incentives not to seek treatment. This will eventually kill Medicare, which now serves all senior citizens. The MSA con job duplicates the so-far rejected strategy of killing Social Security by setting up competing privatization attractive mostly to wealthier whites. When the upper classes bail, political support evaporates. (See the Barbwire of May 3, 1998.)
Dubya's already started the destruction of Medicare by stiffing pharmacies that don't want to issue death sentences to their customers by witholding medicine for lack of payment from the government. Many private Medicare insurance peddlers have refused to pay under Bush's prescription for disaster program.
As economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote so long ago, these guys don't solve problems, they use them.
I retched last Tuesday when Pete Krueger of the Nevada Petroleum Retailers Assn. defended Exxon profits as a reflection of the free market. (Krueger's Jan. 31 interview with Sam Shad will be available for viewing at the Nevada Newsmakers website for the next several weeks.) The simpleton rules of supply and demand evaporate in a manipulated market. Alas and alack, no politician today shows the courage to defend us. You may view the proof at the Barbwire Oilogopoly Archive, now in its eleventh year of publishing the truth about gasoline pricing.
Which brings me to GM, Ford and Uncle Scrooge. Doesnt anybody except our poor pawns on the sands of Araby know how to fight anymore? If health care and pension costs are making U.S. industries uncompetitive, start a fight to fix them, dammit. U.S. manufacturers have gotten our government to sanction and subsidize their moving of jobs out of this country. Now, they whine when the furriners beat them at their own game. (Wal-Mart has been looking into both auto sales and banking.)
A free society stands on a tripod of business, labor and government. The legs must be balanced or the system falls down. U.S. big biz has purchased the most repressive labor laws among the major industrialized nations, paralleling the plunge of our formerly middle class toward third-world status.
Having succeeded in making workers disposable, they next focused on neutering government. Ronald Reagan said government is the problem. Nutso Grover Norquist said he wants to shrink government small enough to drown it in a bathtub. (He made his comment before New Orleans did the drowning courtesy of smaller government.)
Back in the 1950s, Walt Disney allowed his cartoonists to write some of the best political satire ever produced. The vehicle was the Uncle Scrooge comic books. The redoubtable inventor Gyro Gearloose said "there's no machine so smart that some guy wont be too dumb to use it."
Time to smarten up. If GM, Ford, airlines and other big corporations would start insisting that problems be solved rather than used, that the public welfare is more important than corporate welfare, we could all get well real quick. With the average laboring lout rendered powerless by a government of the greedy, only corporate America remains big enough to muscle the country back to the future.
So to all you corporate CEO alpha males: I dare you to show some balls.
MESSAGE FROM THE MAHATMA: Michael Moore's next movie (working title "Sicko") is about health care or lack of it. He's looking for real life horror stories. Go to MichaelMoore.com to tell your tortured tale. Send a copy to me.
Be well. Raise hell.
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Copyright © 2006 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 37-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
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