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Forced to play against a stacked deck
by Andrew Barbano
Dec 19, 2010 | 711 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
       Everybody knows

the dice are loaded.

      Everybody rolls with

their fingers crossed.

       Everybody knows

the war is over.

       Everybody knows

the good guys lost.

       Everybody knows

the fight is fixed.

       The poor get poor,

The rich get rich.

       That’s how it goes.

Everybody knows.

— Leonard Cohen

Perhaps it has taken Great Depression Part Deux for many to realize that Wall Street is not running the biggest casino in the world. That dishonor falls to the United States of America.

We, the great unwashed, are being forced to play in a rigged game. At least the Nevada casino industry gives you a small chance of winning once in awhile. Not so the perverted plutocracy that rules the former land of the free and current home of the foolhardy brave.

I have written until my fingers and guts cramp about all the ways the little guy gets stuck: Gasoline, electricity, natural gas, health care, insurance, food, cable and satellite television, you name it. (See the war rooms under the latter headings.)

Competition, which is supposed to keep the free market honest, has been quietly assassinated wherever discovered. In its place, we are forced to consume a toxic brew of artificial shortages and spiraling prices.

Alas and alack, home values provide the current exception that proves the rule: Somebody  will get stuck on the end of a chain letter and be forced to pay for an orgy of deregulated speculation.

Our political system provides no relief. What do the Democratic and Republican parties have in common with the latest box of New and Improved Chocolate-Covered Sugar Bombs? The answer lies in the lack of choice at both the ballot box and your friendly local big box store. Before the products hit the shelves, all risk has been removed through careful culling and test marketing. The consumer/voter is allowed to select from the wide range spanning all the way from A to B.

A kid’s senses are assaulted hourly by overly-salted, sugar-suffused and fat-saturated products that he or she is ordered to purchase by friendly, smiling cartoon characters.

Parents and schools are helpless in the face of America’s well-honed marketing machines.

How many times have you heard that no education reform is possible without greater parent involvement? Sounds good, but it’s a shuck.

The average American worker hasn’t had a raise since 1973. The working wife was only thing that kept U.S. households anywhere near even in the 1970s. These days, family members are taking whatever jobs they can wherever they can find them in order to maintain food, shelter and clothing. Some fail in their quest: Witness the streets and riverbanks of Sparks and Reno.

The phony Time Magazine has named founder Mark Zuckerberg as its “person of the year,” a designation that lost all credibility when Time-Warner gave it to the bumbling Rudolf Giuliani in 2002. The award, which has included Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin among its more dubious honorees, is supposed to go to the individual or entity most affecting the world for good or evil.

If they didn’t have the guts to follow their own rules by giving it to the cold-blooded terrorist who has ruled as the most powerful man in the world for the past decade, they could have symbolically honored the people of New York City.

This year, they even overlooked the most powerful man in America, an immigrant named Rupert Murdoch who rules through his worldwide media empire. Lord Rupert selects prime ministers and presidents as he pursues the ultimate power trip.

The American people appear powerless before the media moguls and their minions who tell us how to think, look and act.

Formerly formidable mass movements like organized labor, consumerism and environmentalism can now be successfully ignored by those who can afford enough television spots to shout down the dissidents. We are left to take only the Pepsi Challenge or prove that we love to break the rules by buying a cookie-cutter Dodge truck (both examples of successful marketing campaigns).

To borrow a phrase from feminism eulogizer Susan Faludi, we are witnessing “the unfortunate convergence...of a mass movement’s collapse with the mass market’s ascendancy.” (“American Electra,” Harper’s Magazine, Oct. 2010)

I lament the demise of the idea and loss of the ideal once known as America.

What do you intend to do about it?

       Everybody knows

the deal is rotten.

       Old Black Joe

still picking cotton

       For your ribbons

and bows.

       Everybody knows.

Have as good a holiday as possible under current conditions, then...

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 42-year Nevadan and editor of E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.
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