Far more prestigious members of the pundit class than me tried their best to analyze the mindless anger of last summer's mislabeled teabaggers. (See below.) The best anyone could do was say that the anger was real, but the reasoning was not. Really? Corporate media really are a self-reinforcing loop for the morally obtuse. I can do better. The average American has been treading water since 1973, the last time the average worker got a raise, adjusted for inflation. We've sent wives and kids to work, maxed out credit cards, taken out every form of legalized loan-shark credit. The middle class has shrunk considerably over the past 30 years as we've exported our jobs to Wal-Mart suppliers. Adding insult to injury, every time that beleaguered customer plunks her pennies down at Wal-Mart, she is reminded that she has no choice. Corporate advertising is big on creating the myth of options. But all you really get are the same things with minor variations. Worse, competition is an almost extinct species. It's supposed to lower prices and create products and services the consumer wants. In reality, so much is a rigged game. Regular readers have heard me scream for years (see ReSurge.TV) about the rigged television pricing system. The local cable company charges about 10 times more than the product would be worth under a competitive environment. (In the few places where competition has reared its ugly head, cable prices drop about 90 percent.) Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Newt Gingrich promised that cable prices would drop like rocks after their passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Actually, they created a deregulated monopoly with prices rising five times faster than inflation with almost no regulation. Satellite companies just take the cable price, cut it by a few percentage points, and make you think you’re getting a deal. Bill Clinton signed the repeal of Roosevelt-era financial regulation, leading to the collapse of the world economy. Big banks still can run roughshod over consumers. Regular Tribune readers remember the case of Janie Boykins-Raschilla, who saw a 37-cent overdraft at the Sparks branch of USeless Bank balloon into almost $1,000 in service charges. I've written for two decades now about how the major oil companies have created a controlled environment on the retail price of gasoline. The dogma of deregulation combined with the fact that BigOil hires smarter lawyers than the government means that nobody talks about price-fixing anymore. If you're interested, see the Barbwire Oilogopoly archive at NevadaLabor.com. The stranglehold of corporations on our lives and governments is now so complete that a rancher was forbidden to test his herd for mad cow disease. He wanted to resume exporting to the Far East, but many countries, smarter than us, won't allow U.S. beef because we have a head-in-the-sand attitude on the deadly disorder. Some poor lout wanted to pay for his own testing so he could do business and the feds threatened to bust him if he did. Our meat supply used to be safe 40 years ago or so. Then, we deregulated and began letting producers police themselves. Lots of people have gotten sick or died, but that's just part of the cost of doing business. Many years ago, an economist toted how far down the Fortune 500 list of the biggest companies you would have to go before you reached control of half the corporate assets in the country. You used to have to go pretty deep. Not anymore. Rather than innovate, the Microsofts of the world buy up smaller companies to control and ration. Once the big fish has eaten all the smaller fish, somebody's gonna starve. Maybe the people will rise up and hook the big fish, slice him and dice him and feed the masses. The last guy who made that work got crucified, as I recall. Harper's Magazine senior editor Luke Mitchell predicted last year that the health care bill that passes Congress will be one the insurance companies like. So far, he's been proven correct. If you want to get even more depressed, read "Obamas' Wall Street Sellout" by journalist Matt Taibbi in the Dec. 10 edition of Rolling Stone. The template for this fall's elections is already set. Republicans just need to run as "not Democrats." As Mitchell pointed out, the GOP has nothing better to do but carp and complain now that it has been replaced by the Dems as the party of business. The future looks bleak. Our political system is irreparably broken. What will happen? As I've been saying for 30 years, city-regions will have no choice but to take the bull by the horns and begin doing things that work. It will eventually mean that there will be no longer be a United States of America. Things will get better in a hundred years when we've stopped our hemorrhagic military spending, as the former empires of Great Britain and the Netherlands found out. Perhaps India can provide a strong enough check against China so that we will be left alone. The USA long ago sowed the seeds of her own devolution. I'm just as angry as any protester in the street, only I know why. Alas and alack, I despair of hope because the fight is fixed, the game is rigged and we have no choice but to play. American History 1-A For the record once again, the Boston Tea Party was a protest against taxes being cut. Sam Adams and the boys made good money smuggling tea and selling it on the black market without King George's tax, which represented their profit. When the Brits cut the tax, the Beantowners went ballistic. Hope you enjoyed Happy High Holly Days. Be well. Raise hell.
Andrew Barbano is a 40-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.