Two Different Things

“Whut gempmums* say an’ whut gempmums mean is two diff’ent things.”

-Mammy, to Scarlett in “Gone With the Wind.”

*”gentlemen” in Mammy-ese…  (as a slave, she knew what she was talking about.)

Where’s Mammy when you need her?  The formation of the Cat Food Commission is merely the latest example of the media and political class serially advancing the dunderheaded notion that the imaginary “Free Market” is not only the supposed prerequisite to less monetized forms of “freedom,” but if the “Free Market” so much as gets a cold, Democracy might have to just be put to sleep to make it feel better, and save on vet bills.  Thus, we are treated to spectacles like the IMF coldly informing us that our elderly simply have to die sooner to maintain our credit rating, and Arizona Senator John Kyl saying, without a trace of embarrassment, that tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans were much more important than the relative pittance it would take to keep sending $1200 per month to people tossed out of the work force by deliberate Republican policies.  Never mind that for thirty years we’ve given the “free market” everything it supposedly wanted, and got another depression to show for it, along with the sort of vaulting inequality one associates with third-world dictatorships…  You see, the only reason the market failed was because it wasn’t free enough.  (!)

The boom and bust cycles of Randian Economics are well-known and depressingly familiar.  Corporations, usually those favored by government largesse (railroads, steel, real estate, autos, oil;  the list is long of industries that owe their very existence to the taxpayer dollar….), become so large and powerful that they have enough money left over to buy the government, even as they shower so much wealth to a chosen few executives that they can buy their wives opera houses for Christmas instead of another mink.   The purpose of free market fundamentalism is laughably obvious, and not exactly new…  selling despotism and mass poverty amid astonishingly concentrated wealth as something akin to God’s Will.  Remember that ol’ Divine Right thing?  What about “Let them eat cake?”  Down the memory hole for the Chicago School boys, who of course never expect to swallow the harsh medicine they endlessly prescribe for others.

Unfortunately for Louis XVI, there was no Fox News around in 1789, and thus no one was there to patiently explain to the uppity rabble that Marie Antoinette was not just expressing All-French Values, but was also an instrument of Our Lord.  If God had meant the peasants to have cake, He’d have given them all Easy-Bake ovens, as I’m sure Tom Friedman would be happy to tell you.  The measure of national greatness has become little more than the relative comfort of the superrich, a far cry from that dreary old “General Welfare ” crap those hippie Founders sneaked into Glenn Beck’s Constitution.  Freedom died a little, you see, when Dick Cheney moved his assets to Dubai.

It’s become increasingly clear over the last few decades that the Frankensteins created by the “Free Market:” a bloated and unproductive overclass dedicated only to Midas-like self-aggrandizement, a stodgy and backward industrial sector stuck in the 1950′s, a larcenous banking elite, and a policy-driving military sector aren’t just destroying the actual free market, but in the process are stomping all over the very concept of democratic government.

Protests, so revered by the corporate-sponsored Tea Party movement, fall like trees in an empty forest when they run counter to elite goals, and even two elections wherein the public overwhelmingly voted for change have been pushed under the rug in favor of the status quo…  The wars, the insider dealing, and the transparently false memes that sold it all still persist despite their failure and ruinous consequences.  Somehow, the Market didn’t fail us; we failed it, and must pay a heavy price:  public employees, those few who still have jobs anyway, must give up their hard-won pensions, Grandma must toil into her 70′s, and health care for the poor and elderly must be put before their own Death Panels.

Of course, the wealthy overclass isn’t being asked to give up anything; quite the opposite.  For them, even the recession ended a while back and they’ve already recovered so thoroughly that now their only worry is “the debt,” meaning the rather strong possibility that someday they might be asked to cough up something for the general good, which can never be tolerated.  Poll after poll shows that, propagandized and overworked though Americans are, few see “the debt” as a problem in the face of 10% unemployment.  Hedge fund managers are taxed at half the rate of waitresses, and Republicans say that it’s the waitress who ought to chip in by accepting sub-minimum wages….

Class warfare has reached its endgame; our idle and incompetent wealthy have decided of late that the biggest threat to America’s future is having a middle class at all, and are setting about doing away with it.  In a real democracy, such a thing would be impossible, because the wealthiest tenth of society is, in the end, arrayed against the other 90%.  Enter Citizens (!) United, FreedomWorks, electronic voting, and the Chamber of Commerce, with a healthy dose of craven propaganda about the hallowed “Free Market,” and its ironclad “laws,”  one of which seems to be that Democracy only exists these days for those who can afford to buy one.


  1. michlib says:

    Hey – take it easy on the overlords perched in the IMF aerie. The job they are ” taxed ” with, driving third world countries into perpetual debt and fertile ground for despots, exacts a heavy toll. They are forced to work to the old age of 50 or 51 and then pastured on a pittance of a $100,000 a year pension. So it’s only just that someone in the U.S. who only toiled for fortyfive years be forced to accept the sum of 12 to 14 grand a year to feather their opulent nest. The rich only call it class warfare when it appears the other 99.9 % of the population may be starting to wise up.

    • cocktailhag says:

      It was indeed reassuring to hear that those IMF guys get such a nice retirement, and so early. I was worried about them.

    • avelna says:

      Don’t know about 99.9% of the US population wising (oh is that actually a word?) up but a significant majority are finding that jobs all of a sudden are more important than the deficit. Go figure. But ‘you shouldn’t have to raise taxes in order to reduce taxes’, right?

      • cocktailhag says:

        Again, this depends entirely upon whom said taxes are raised. The rich? The sky will fall. Everyone else? They’re fat anyway, and some dieting is probably in order.

  2. nailheadtom says:

    ” Somehow, the Market didn’t fail us; we failed it, and must pay a heavy price: public employees, those few who still have jobs anyway, must give up their hard-won pensions. . . .

    Hahahahahahah, you’re hilarious! You must have been one of Professor Irwin Corey’s second string writers. Too bad this dumpster full of unrelated vowels and consonants can’t be used in one of his routines. You’ve got to be really, truly totally deluded if you have one scintilla of sympathy for public employees, who are, after all, OUR EMPLOYEES. But, in a strange reversal of roles, they make more money than we do, have legendary job security, and retirement benefits that will eventually bankrupt the constituencies that once employed them even if every dime belonging to the “rich” is confiscated. And yet their numbers continue to grow. Thanks, at least in part, to morons like you.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Listen, Tom…. My mother taught school for almost 30 years, and routinely gave up salary increases in favor of future pensions to help the current school budget. All teachers did. She did end up with a nice retirement, but is that her fault? Had Donald Trump made such a deal you would be applauding it.
      Further, the only reason public employees appear to be doing well is because of the relative impoverishment of all private sector employees below the upper executive level. Used to be, everybody got health care and pensions, and I don’t rcall any depressions occurring during that era.
      Again, please name a country that adopted your demented ideas and didn’t crash and burn. You can go back to the Mayans if you need to. I continue to wait.
      Read a book.

      • nancy says:

        Your resident boob just sent me through the roof. My state employee husband, turning 72 soon, will begin his 41st year teaching in the college classroom this fall. Retirement not an option and yet he’s aware that he needs to make way for a newly-minted graduate. It’s a dilemma and a moral question, but when the retirement funds are gone, they don’t get replaced. I’m a decade+ younger and we have junior working his way into graduate school because of the complete absence of a job market. So maybe Nailhead hasn’t watched his retirement package get swallowed in the last 10 years, but then, he strikes me as a bit of a well-endowed jackass. He’s got enough time on his hands to pester you with regularity anyway. Off to have a glass of three-buck chuck purchased with our dole money.

        • cocktailhag says:

          Exactly. My mother had the good sense to die before Bush’s recession had totally crashed the economy, and with it teachers’ pensions, and she did work in a yarn store and taught knitting for extra money until a few years before she died.
          PS… if Nailhead is “well-endowed,” I’m Dick Cheney…..

          • nancy says:

            what, you don’t think he’s got a nice money-stream? you did’t refute the jackass part. i know–that”s the problem with wordpress–those “slips” just belong to ya.

          • cocktailhag says:

            I meant the other kind of “well-endowed.” He may have money.

    • avelna says:

      My good friend in WA, who has been a loyal state employee for the last 20 or so years is about to lose her job as a social worker because the state can’t afford to pay her. Instead the state is going to privatize her job and she’ll be left with a few months of unemployment benefits,if she’s lucky. So don’t give me that bullshit asshole.

    • michlib says:

      What fools we truly are to fund police forces, fire fighting, and public education. Or to have ” one scintilla ” of sympathy for any public employees.
      One scintilla – Tom’s total cranial volume.

      • cocktailhag says:

        Well, if only Blackwater replaced the police, Halliburton replaced the firefighters, and the Christian Coalition (and Glenn Beck U.) replaced the teachers… Think of the money Tom would save. (In the unlikely event he pays taxes at all….)

  3. “Democracy only exists these days for those who can afford to buy one.”

    You truly have a way with words, CH. I’m saving this one. Thanks.

  4. nailheadtom says:

    Maybe your “journalistic jeenius” can refute this but it’s doubtful:

    • cocktailhag says:

      Well, if I got to make up all my own facts, like that chickenhawk weasel did, it would be hard to refute, indeed. But I don’t. (One key lie out of a hundred or so… like Bush, he left the wars out of the deficits, and then notes how low they supposedly were…) Read a better newspaper.

    • dirigo says:

      Tom, our own Plato, resists admitting that most of this kerfuffle is about the drive to abolish Social Security, something the right has been “up to” since the thirties.

      This is it – in a nutshell. Or a scrotum.

      • cocktailhag says:

        You mean that 80-year old Ponzi scheme, silly. (Not like the much more short-lived Ponzi schemes with which we’ve recently been afflicted….)

  5. nailheadtom says:

    OK, that was a little mainstream. Butler Schaffer, on the other hand, thinks a little more outside the box:

  6. Ché Pasa says:

    Listen, Hag, anyone who quotes Mammy at the opening has got my vote.

    We were just discussing GWTW at Casa Ché the other day, and how when you got down to it, Mammy was the only character in the whole damn Dixie Psycho-Drama who was a match for Scarlett O’Hara, and everybody knew it. If she hadn’t been raised by Mammy, Scarlett would have been as simpering a little fool as Miss Mellie.

    But that aside.

    Our Rulers are most definitely in their end game and they do not intend to allow the Ruled more than a minimum subsistence — if anything at all — in future.

    The question is, will We the Ruled continue to put up with it, or as seems to be the case, will we eagerly emplace our own fetters and shackles? It is the most amazing thing. The only rumbling among the Masses are among the TeaBagging Right; “All Things Considered” did a feature on their Constitutional “Passion” during this evening’s drive time. It was revolting. But where is the revolt?

    Why are the guillotines still rusting in storage with all that Democrat(ic) Dry Powder?

    Mammy may have been only character who could match Scarlett’s strength, but she never stopped being a loyal slave. And as for Scarlett…

    • cocktailhag says:

      Ah, Mammy… That one time when she turned to Scarlett, who was dealing out orders, and said, “I’se free,” a simple statement of fact that did have its proper if somewhat belated effect on Scarlett, I couldn’t help but love her.
      As we enter the kinder, gentler slavery of the new century, Mammy’s wisdom could help us all.

  7. The other day, while I was at work, my cousin stole my iphone and tested to see if it can survive a thirty foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!