Monday, March 18, 2013

Austerity for the Rich. A Good Idea

“The rich are different from you and me.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

Remember the 1997 movie “The Titanic”, when director James Cameron--a millionaire--spent millions of dollars to entice us non-millionaires into movie theaters with a disaster spectacle whose core message was that, given the opportunity, the rich will indeed lock you and yours into the hold of a sinking ship while they escape in the lifeboats?

We the People love disaster spectacles, and so we lapped it up. The Cameron ploy worked spectacularly for the rich as we allowed ourselves to be bled into the disastrous Bush years, and served as a role model for all future lavishly funded disaster distractions. The most expensive blockbuster in history up to that time, “The Titanic” netted over two billion dollars of our hard-earned disposable entertainment income while simultaneously instilling in us the subliminal message to eat more popcorn and just shut up. What a bargain for the rich, and how we learned their lesson.

The latest example of this curious quirk in our collective human nature is how a multitude of millionaire media stars (including politicians) are successfully distracting us with yet another seductive version of tragic love scenes and naked ladies known as “The Sequester”. Sounds sexy, like a zombie movie. So, as is our nature, we lap it up.

This one’s science-fiction, with the emphasis on “fiction”, and the plot-line–written by millionaires--goes something like this: The United States is about to be taken over by Evil Deficits from China. The only one who can save us is our hero, a mild-mannered used-car salesman whose secret identity is the steely-nerved, irrepressible PaulRyanMan(!) who wears full-body bulletproof spandex under his polo shirts and slacks. With the help of a growing but self-limited cadre of lesser superheroes, known to themselves as “patriots”, PaulRyanMan(!) has broken the code of the Evil Deficits’ true intentions by means of a conspiracy-revealing x-ray decoder ring, which all the “patriots” also possess.

It turns out these decoder rings are expensive. To obtain one, you have to send in two million box tops of fruit-flavored tea (from China, of course) to a secret “patriot” website that deals in fruit-flavored tea along with the accompanying conspiracy theories and decoder rings necessary to believe the conspiracy theories. The plot thickens as we find out that PaulRyanMan(!) owns stock in this corporation, which, according to plot-narrative, is an example of market-based solutions to opportunities created by self-induced mass-paranoia. A nice fit for everyone, in other words.

Unfortunately for Truth and Justice, not everyone can tolerate, let alone afford, this much tea. So this cadre of “patriots” is necessarily exclusive and misunderstood. In fact, their leader, PaulRyanMan(!), has just recently suffered a dastardly setback in an “election” on top of the Empire State Building--overlooking Wall Street--with the Evil Deficits’ minion, the seemingly-congenial NiceMan, who in reality is an alien genius who maintains a secret brain-cooking laboratory under an impregnable mountain in Kenya. Why this evil laboratory is located in Kenya is not examined in this narrative, which is a shortcoming in this otherwise-tight screenplay. But never mind. The intent of the Evil Deficits is to so muddle our sense of Truth and Justice using the hypnotic powers of NiceMan that the Deficits can scoop up U.S. citizens by the fistful and hand them over the U.N. , where they will leach every molecule of gold out of each and everyone of them by throwing them into huge vats and sprinkling cyanide on them, similar to modern gold mining technologies that PaulRyanMan(!) also owns stock in. This is the Evil Deficits’ undoing, because this leaching of every molecule of gold out of everything near and dear to us is correctly recognized for what it is by PaulRyanMan(!) and his small but growing cadre—using their decoder rings. It is the depraved epitome of Unfair Competition.

Only PaulRyanMan(!) and his “patriots” know the true identity and intentions of NiceMan, and the publics’ incredulous disbelief at their babbling in seemingly incoherent phrases serves only to strengthen their steely resolve. PaulRyanMan(!) loses the election on top of the Empire State Building, but this cannot stop him and his intrepid compadres. They, and they alone, understand that the only way to save America is to throw everyone who cannot afford the tea (from China, of course)  into the frigid waters of Austerity. This necessarily includes everyone’s children and grandchildren. There is no other way. And of course there’s a twist at the end of the story which makes us jump from the edges of our seats we’re perched on with bated breath, which is a standard trick of lavishly-funded disaster spectacles.

And I’m going to spoil it for you now. Are you ready? The twist is that at the very last second PaulRyanMan(!), at characteristic lightening speed and with no apologies, dumps a fair number of “patriots”—and their children and grandchildren--into the frigid waters of Austerity as well. Exactly why this occurred is not examined in “The Sequester” and is a shortcoming in this otherwise-tight screenplay. But never mind. The credits roll, a chill runs down our spine, and we march dutifully out of the theater, bleary-eyed and indoctrinated.

Or are we? Isn’t it another peculiar quirk in our collective human natures to learn, more or less, from our mistakes? Do we really have to be told how to think by rich folks? As all grown-ups (“progressives” in the modern vernacular) know by now, this is exactly how that movie’s gonna end. If we haven’t learned by now that “The Sequester” and it sequel “Austerity” are worn-out clichés that the corporatists recycle every time they need to cash in on us while we’re distracted, then maybe we ought to consider changing species.

I have nothing against rich folks, or corporations or frigid water for that matter. And I’m all for clichés, up to a point. I’m just sayin’ to all you lavishly-funded purveyors of clichés (otherwise known as corporate scriptwriters): if you really believe that the polar plunge into those frigid waters of austerity looks good enough for the likes of me and mine, then by all means, sir and madam.

After you.

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