Write the Truth While You Can

No.: 
55

Mass media may have been the weakest link in the American political system until the financial crisis of 2008. Personal observations support this conclusion as well as assessments of discerning scholars like Doris A. Graber (see “Mass Media & American Politics,” 7th edition, 2006). However, the emerging media situation is more complex, with growing evidence that heroic visionaries are writing to greater effect than forked tongue villains or hopelessly compromised media celebrities.

Highly informative analysis and incisive writing is evident in the increasing visibility of market commentators such as David Weidner, David Callaway, Jim Jubak and Jon Markman — to name a few. Now, America’s best hope for a brighter future (out there somewhere) rests not with politicians, bank executives, educational elites or supposed religious leaders but with members of the media who have the guts, brains and even-handedness to tell it like it is.

It is not easy to buck the system in sensitive areas but David Weidner has finessed it during the unfolding financial crisis. Today’s unwrapping of big bank earnings reports is one more helpful example. Happily, Weidner is not reluctant to expose the moral implications of financial affairs, supported in this endeavor by other able minds at MarketWatch like Darrell Delamaide, Rex Nutting and Tom Bemis.

No one should take for granted the reporting and analysis being provided by some at MarketWatch.com or MoneyCentral.com. The day may come when individuals who provide competent analysis of the financial landscape will be sequestered into spaces of limited evaluative opportunity so that they will not splinter public support for top-down “solutions.”

Don’t say it cannot happen. It happened during WWI when Woodrow Wilson and the U.S. Congress clamped down on free speech so as to enhance efforts to finance the war machine and recruit men for military service. Massive fines and jail sentences of up to 20 years awaited those who ignored the so-called “Espionage Act of 1917” and the Sedition Act of 1918. Indeed, this legislation was passed through a filibuster-gutless U.S. Senate, Americans cowed by fears and insecurities. Wilson’s compelling presidential rhetoric made possible national capitulation in that test: ‘You’re not afraid to drink the Kool-Aid, are you’? But as the Jonestown, Guyana, story reminds us: People don’t always get their rights back after the little drink.

Americans have too much faith in the Internet as an impregnable bastion of freedom. Today it is the freest dynamic ever known. But wait until push comes to shove: The Internet gives Homeland Security (someday ‘Homeland Coercion’) the ability to trace the whereabouts of all participants. It was not quite so easy for Wilson when his federal act made it a crime to say “anything” to discourage the purchase of war bonds or to “utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” about the government (see “The American Presidency”, 5th ed., page 253, by the scholars Sidney Milkis and Michael Nelson).

There are American loyalists who will fight to the death before capitulating to an overt suspension of the U.S. Constitution. However, the future loss of constitutional rights will be instrumented insidiously by surreptitious means. It pays to remember that this is no longer our grandparents’ America. Relatively few people can adequately decipher what is possible nowadays within the political alphabet.

Most young people today wouldn’t have the guts or self-discipline to build a Hoover Dam the old way. Too many people are addicted to materialism, leisure and fantasy. People think they deserve to reap more goodness than they’ve sown. But the societal sowing and reaping equation is headed for a new equilibrium as a day of reckoning dawns. The democratic majority have already reneged on their obligation to support constitutionally responsible government. As measured by James Madison’s Publius No. 57 yardstick, extant generations have done enough to show us the nation’s destiny.

Just look at the madness all around. No sooner have we endured the partial collapse of various financial bubbles then we’re skipping ahead to new spending excursions fully clueless as to how we pay for further excesses. We’re celebrating “change.” Really? Change from what? From one irresponsible political party to another? Minor changes in the composition of interests at the largesse trough? Change in the conversion of private debt into public debt? But there is no change in the downward draft of the nation’s economic autonomy. There is no change in the dependency upon increased debt and monetary inflation to levitate stock prices.

We’re pushing up asset values while the exit door shrinks. What a way to build an economy, with Americans bowing to the Ponzi-god and no viable group in Congress promoting an alternative capitalist system. Why not design a new financial architecture where all suitably contributing members of society receive a variable but fair ‘value of contribution’ reward in the aggregated corporate profit stream?

Alas! Our leaders connive to burden us with more regulation while keeping intact a flawed model of capitalism where disproportionate rewards accrue to advantaged Mercurians who instrument asset price moves then exploit disequalibrias so as to siphon off for their own class and fraternity the fruits of American and global labor. (But we were warned!) The dynamic reeks of the values of Madoff, Soros and the Goldman Sachs crowd. It is often instrumented by Ivy League grads who never learned sufficient scruples. What unfathomable injustice in a nation pledged to “justice for all.” Can we not blush?

Jon Markham at Moneycentral.com published an article on July 17 that puts our developing catastrophe into perspective. In his essay, “The US-China Ponzi scheme,” Markman explains that China cannot cash-out its purchases of dollar denominated U.S. debt without decimating both economies. This puts China in an unsustainable position — a position that may someday lead to military confrontation. China sits on IOUs from a country planning to increase its dependency on debt at a time in which the number one buyer of U.S. Treasury debt — the Social Security Administration — is gradually headed for the sidelines. With a diminished prospect for bubble banking, America will struggle mightily to create enough good paying jobs to replace the ones lost, thus undermining sufficient growth in the tax base to fuel a robust new economic cycle. The handwriting is on the wall: The system’s days are numbered.

It is a misplaced fantasy to think that the type of people who have led the world into this morass are sufficiently enlightened and ethically scrupulous to articulate a tikkum olam solution to eventual calamities. Absurd! We’re where we are because too many super-elites have preyed upon societal weaknesses so as to maneuver democracies into tight corners where elitist designs can be accomplished. The corrosion that has served this end is evident in widespread excesses, irrationalities and unsustainable policies. Indeed, evolved democracy is the perfect vehicle for elitist conquest because democracies cannot resist intrusion by economic means when voters are ignorant, dependent and short-sighted.

A country can be lost as thoroughly by moral and economic enervation as through defeat on a military battlefield. If it so happens that military expenditures are insufficient to outpace inflation’s erosion of the public debt burden, the (perilous) health care imperative can be called into service to further expand the debt balloon, hastening our capitulation to hidden financial interests.

Eventually we will realize that debt growth leads to a decline of national greatness. But our dullness will force us to endure great hardships before we secure a financial architecture that is sustainable, honorable and fair. How sweet will be the healing when it finally comes!