Chuck BerryRichard and Pat NixonSurvivalist’s stockpileDollar store, Saddlebrook, N.J.Aggragate pit, Irwindale, Ca.Abandoned commercial buildings, AlabamaMug shot, John Henry1919 Chicago White SocksBarry Bonds
Gillette, Wyoming, coal and gas boom townDetroitJ.P. Morgan Library LizGrant Wood, Daughters of the American Revolution
The boys of spring are out on the diamonds, though some have skipped onto the courts. And not the basketball ones. The pressures of commerce, which as has been said is America’s purpose for existing, naturally warps the great American past-time, no less than it warps the doctors who prescribe mountains of pills at the behest of the pharmaceutical industry. “The business of America is business,” said Calvin Coolidge, and for the most part it seems Americans have taken that mantra as their own. We live, it seems, to make money. The politics of the moment merely underline this old American adage, as Representative Ryan sells his snake-oil “plan” and President Obama retorts with his. Shall we or shall we not throw Granny and Gramps under the bus? Or when and how?
Inexorably the nation moves towards its fiscal truth, which certainly no elected politician can utter, except in the most oblique of manners: the bill has come due, and it must be paid. We don’t really say from whom the bill comes and we don’t really say why. Instead we discuss who must pay it, and how. The reason is that an honest look all points to the very system which America has raised to a religion, that good old Free Market Economy Capitalism, which, left to its own devices does whatever is needed to make a bigger faster buck. If towards that end ravaging the landscape, selling sugar and oil saturated food to ever bigger and sicker customers, peddling fast gas guzzling cars, shipping factories and production systems to lands of cheaper labor and less onerous regulations, building a giant near-private military establishment to protect our global “interests,” and developing an all pervasive mass media to sell lies to the citizenry all looks to make the quickest fortune, then America will do it. That’s how capitalism works, and it has worked its magic on America.
The current end result is that a tiny one or two percent sliver end up owning about everything – especially those things, like the mass media, the educational systems, and the military, which serve its purposes best. And of course, the political system, which now is pretty much totally under the control of the corporate systems which that most rich segment has devised and uses to control the rest of us. The reckoning perhaps has already arrived, or it is arriving now – it depends on how we slice and dice our view of history.
The ship of state has run aground on the usual shoals of empire (that forbidden word which we Americans dare not utter): an over- extended and overgrown military gobbling up our remaining resources and busy making us unwelcome where ever it goes; a fat and complacent hoi polloi happy to be distracted with trivial circuses (the Super Bowl, the World Series, American Idol), and a bickering political class in panic as the last pieces of imminent collapse fall into place. It is, of course, all the others’ fault, though they all agree we can only put it right by carefully avoiding reality.
Pumped on the latest designer drugs our colosseum gladiators take brain-dimming hits, swat homers, collect the hottest chicks and take home millions, to the adulation of the crowd. Our stars and CEO’s are swamped in “earnings” for their secret labors, the stock market curiously goes up each time unemployment figures head higher, and outside the gate the bread begins running short and the circus begins to grow stale.