As I watch the city government in Richmond Virginia, lead by an African-American mayor, disrespect the memory of the American slave in a way that Holocaust descendants would never disrespect the memories of their ancestors, I think. This is the fruit of a collective ignorance which facilitates comparison of American slavery, in grand acts of public trivialization, to mandatory health care access (in the case of Dr. Ben “Americans-use-too-much-healthcare” Carson) or to the national debt (from Sarah “you-can-actually see-Russia-from-land-here-in-Alaska” Palin). In the minds of “I-built-this” American, the self-made person (I mean who needs God or grace anyway?), it is perfectly logical, in the minds of the history-illiterate, to link slavery to health care or to say slavery is like the national debt. American history, as we are taught it, plays up the image of colonial America as the land of the persecuted-taxation-without-representation Christians even as it down plays the foundation of the independence America felt compelled to declare from Great Britain, an independence borne aloft on the scarred backs of black men and women. Peering back at the past would show how ludicrous the notion of unassisted-by-government wealth creation like comparing health care or the national debt to slavery really is. It was government which made wealth accumulation possible. Without laws and the apparatus (can you say government) to ensure their application and maintenance the following would not have been possible.
“Slavery led to great wealth not only in England but in the
Chesapeake as well: “In the middle of the seventeenth century … the
richest 10 percent of the families owned roughly 40 percent of the
wealth, a figure that was to approach 70 percent by the eve of
independence.”80 Studying inventories of planters’ estates, Menard
notes that “slaves accounted for only 20 percent of inventorial wealth
in the seventeenth century … but nearly 60 percent by the 1720s and
65 percent in the 1740s.”81 Slave labor was the central source of
Chesapeake wealth and capital. The best-known Chesapeake
entrepreneur, Thomas Jefferson, owned about 200 enslaved workers
in the year of the Declaration of Independence; fifty years later, in the
year of his death, he owned more than that.82 Howsoever some leaders
of the revolution might philosophize about the Rights of Man and
liberty for all, they took care not to apply such doctrines to the
enslaved workers they owned.”
~ A Short History of American Capitalism
by Meyer Weinberg
It is the nation’s collective, seemingly hermetically-sealed ignorance which gives us a middleclass and underclass enslaved by miseducation and sedated by entertainment. We just don’t seem to get it. While the CONNINGservatives are telling us that government is the problem, they are using the government to write rules that increase their wealth even while they call many who vote for them lazy 47%ers, takers. How do you know that our government, that is to say the structure given to us by the lobbyists who write the laws while I play fantasy football or keep up with the Kardashians or attend a Tea Party rally carrying an Obama-is-a-socialist-witch-doctor-from-Kenya poster decrying government hands on my Social Security, our government (a system of laws with the apparatus to ensure their application and maintenance) is committed to doing things which have as a by-product, the maintenance and increase of a permanent underclass? In the latest regression, the corporatists sold the public a bill of goods called NAFTA and watched as Mexicans, pushed out of farming at home by American agri-business, fled their country for work in America even as they, the corporatists, exported middle-class jobs and kept profits offshore. And somehow we believe that baseball diamonds in Richmond, Va. and, in the case of Mississippi, outlet malls are the answer to our economic woes.
Of course the corporatists, the Citizens United crowd, would have you believe that these are the forces (producing job exportation and profit offshoring) of globalization at work, the forces that have Americans scrambling for jobs at baseball stadiums or outlet malls and for foreign investment for manufacturing by Siemens and Toyota and Yokohama as defined benefit plans disappear and conservatives seek to cut food assistance programs and resist Medicaid expansion. The narrative says that we, the American public, just need more education so that we can profit from the globalization trends and that Obamacare is ruining our economy. The irony is those foreigners from whom we beg for investment subsidize education better (Japanese doctors don’t have nearly the education debt that American doctors have) and have excellent universal health care. Contrary to what the CONNINGservatives preach, I guess that stuff, universal health care, doesn’t kill jobs after all. The jobs don’t die; they multiply because of the foreign facsimiles of Obamacare; Universal healthcare countries even send jobs all the way overseas to America. What they, the American corporatists, make sure we never hear much about or at least what that attempt to make sure is crowded out off our consciousness by their Think Tanks and talk industry, when we aren’t trying to see who gets voted off the island next or wins the Amazing Race, what is pushed from our field of vision, what is flooded from our cognizance is how the Germans have 200 insurance plans (nonprofit entities that pay medical bills not dividends) and they have insurance even when they are unemployed. While attacking the Affordable Care Act, you’ll never learn that Germans, to whom southern governors go begging for plant investments, make certain that their workers have great input into corporate decisions with works councils, the co-determined board, and wage-setting institutions. Of course the lethargic, infantile American Labor movement would finally grow up and do the American public a great service if it adopted some of these concepts. But even the American Labor Movement appears to be as trickle-down, top-down oriented, and untrusting of truly democratic functioning with real leadership rotation.
No, you see if things like these were widely known and taught we’d laugh, the joker, John Boehner off the podium when he says that America had the best health care delivery system in the world before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and he would be forced to help improve healthcare access which is substandard instead of running interference for the health insurance industry. We’d laughed at the clown, the mayor of Richmond, and tell him to advocate for a national development plan where certain industries are nurtured the way the Korean’s and others nurtured industries to improve the living standards of their countrymen. But target the plans to the areas “left-behind” so that we can reduce the “takers” in America and increase the number of Americans participating in the production processes in the country. That would be true patriotism.
One thing is evident by the language and focus of these two “economic” leaders, the clown on the left and the joke on the right, is whether it’s the Mayor in Richmond Virginia or the Speaker of the U.S House of Representatives, offense is not easily achieved in America where it is entertainment which is truly the opiate of the people.