Talking Past Each Other

Bootstraps, a cartoon by Tom FergusonTom: Six members of the Walton family (Wal-mart) have more wealth than the bottom 30% of the US population. I guess that puts them in the 1%.

Other Guy: It isn’t immoral to work hard. they are rich. so what?  They also have created jobs for hundreds of thousands of people. They also have the abilitry to sell for less allowing folks to feed their families a bit better because they can afford more. There is more good to the storey than as you seem to see it, evil.

Tom: So, you think the Walton family works 30 billion times harder than the workers they hire at Wal-mart?

Other Guy: The company went public sometime ago. Teachers unions, firemens unions, cops etc have invested in Walmart. It is their retirement funds etc. All these people own the company. The waltons also give millions to charities. So what if they’re rich? They’re the ones who risk their money starting the company and their hard work. I would prefer them to someone who sits on their ass with their hand out wanting someone else to support them. Work is good for people. Welfare is not. I don’t like a Robin Hood society. Socialism doesn’t work.

Tom: I’m sure the Sheriff of Nottingham appreciates your support.

This email exchange  illustrates the Tea Party position – the whole movement being an artifice created by wealthy ideologues who are channeling social anomie, at least in part created by policies that have enriched them, into directions that distract members from noticing the tindy little oligarchic arrangement.

Obviously my devastating final repartee “won” the debate. But this exchange illustrates what the media, politicians, hell, nearly everybody publicly, and disingenuously, laments – polarization, people talking past each other, never for a moment suspending opinion and actually listening to each other.

I would submit that it is hard to patiently consider opinion you know is simply a parroting of sound bites propagated by billionaires via their thinktanks and minions. The purveyor and the adopter of that propaganda would claim, no doubt, that my position, as I accuse theirs, is received wisdom, propaganda bought by me, traceable to God-less Socialists who won’t be satisfied until we are all living in Gulags and driving compact cars, our incentive to excel totally and forever trod underfoot.

Somehow I resist the idea that the two positions are equivalent. Faux News for example as compared to MSNBC – both network commentators ridicule the other side but the former make stuff up out of whole cloth, or take it out of context such that it may as well be made up. The latter ridicule, often simply quoting the opposition or point out their lies, but fabricate they do not. They don’t have to. Faux News, and the politicians they support, do and that is understandable. If you were to openly take the position that the rich should have it all and the rest of us get to compete to maintain their lawns for minimum wage (the minimum wage dropped down to somewhere around zero), well, who would tune in Faux News? Who would vote for the party or individual who took those positions? Obviously no one but the 1%, perhaps a few diehard minions.

So the party and candidates and servants (media, thinktanks etc;) and ideologues of that percent must adopt positions to obscure their loyalties: waving flags is basic, anti-Communism, anti-Socialism, anti-choice and anti-gay have been pretty reliable strategies though becoming somewhat problematic as prejudices in this area wane, weak-on-defense is good, terrorism absolutely required, paint those who care about the life system as fringe radicals or alternatively, or concurrently, consult the corporate greenwashing handbook, and the old workhorse, race… use code here but get as close to open racism as you dare, know your constituency. Oh drugs and immigrants are de rigueur. Against both. And if your opponent attempts to expose any of these strategies try, “I’m just tired of all this polarization.” These positions will likely produce grateful corporate campaign contributions. Not taking these positions will definitely end them and very likely produce hostile attacks and lavish support of your opponent, who will take these positions. Additional groveling before the National Rifle Association, nuclear industry (keep it vague here) and private health insurers will also be helpful in your fund raising. And keep in mind, electronic voting machines are hackable! Good luck and… oh, almost forgot, use this phrase AOAP (as often as possible)… God Bless America.

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Image: Bootstraps, a cartoon by Tom Ferguson
Tom Ferguson

Tom Ferguson

Tom is a painter, a cartoonist, a musician, a thinker and more. View some of his web sites:

  • www.thinkspeak.net (Painting)
  • toons.thinkspeak.net (Political Cartoons)
  • thinkspeak.bandcamp.com (Music)
  • tfthinkspeak.blogspot.com (blog)