I’m not the only one who has seen Mad Max and thought “worst possible scenario for civilization.”
Mad Max is as bad as it could possibly get:
No social contract to rein in excess.
The 99% fighting for survival.
Perpetual war over fuel oil.
Women being tyrannized by men.
The earth scorched, barren and toxic.
Law serving only the powerful.
Mel Gibson being the lone voice of reason.
Alright, I don’t have to hit you over the head with it: welcome to 2012 (except for the Mel part).
The Conservative agenda is upon us.
Which brings us to the Progressive agenda.
… which is what again?
In the last decade we’ve lost Paul Wellstone & Ted Kennedy to death, John Edwards and Anthony Weiner to scandal, Russ Feingold and Alan Grayson to electoral insanity. And we’ve wound up with the most conservative Congress since the era of the Robber Barons of the late 1800s.
For those unfamiliar with the Robber Barons, Wikipedia defines them as “big businessmen (who) amassed huge fortunes immorally, unethically, and unjustly” during the “Gilded Age.” Very few of today’s rich would define themselves like that. They made their money the new-fashioned way – they invested it… then took their profit just in time to leave others holding the bag when the investment turned sour. At least some of the old time Robber Barons built railroads.
Conservatives are right about this: America was founded on the freedom to profit. Adam Smith’s 1776 publication The Wealth of Nations, in which he espoused the inspired guidance of the “Invisible Hand,” was as key to America’s fundamental philosophy as The Constitution.
The Constitution, however, threw Adam Smith one little curve in the clause that assigned the U.S. Congress the right to “regulate” interstate commerce. The Robber Barons solved that problem by bribing politicians; today’s Robber Barons do it by bribing wanna-be politicians.
Still, that Constitutional clause is what today’s Republicans and Tea-Baggers think they’re fighting. That and the bit in the preamble about “promote the general welfare.” Problem is, the “regulating” clause pertains to the government’s right to dole out tax money (or tax favors) and after a couple Centuries of bellowing about how government has no business tampering with business, the Conservative wealthy have only proved their willingness to bite the Invisible Hand that feeds them. Or feed from the Invisible Hand that should be biting them.
The Invisible Hand first started getting mixed up with The Invisible Handout early in U.S. history in the form of tax relief and subsidies. It kicked into high gear with the building of the railroads in the 1860s. It continued through the discovery of oil. It continues to this day.
Government subsidies for businesses are as old as commerce itself. Subsidies for the poor are a relatively recent phenomenon. The rail subsidies resulted in over-expansion that helped cause the Panic of 1873 – the greatest depression in the U.S. until the Great Depression. The implementation of the Social Security Act of 1935 helped get us out of the Great Depression. For 150 years, the wealthy have held their hands out with no shame. Yet shame is how the Conservative wealthy have manipulated the poor into feeling undeserving of support at even the most basic level.
Today’s Barons – Foster Friess, Sheldon Adelson, Philip Anschutz, the Koch brothers – are “amassing huge fortunes immorally, unethically, and unjustly” and perfectly legally because they control the lawmakers. That would be bad but what makes it worse is they are doing it by trying to force a male-dominated social agenda on women, destroying the planet, shaming the poor and putting as much distance as possible between themselves and the 99% of the rest of us. Their vision of a future includes no social contract to rein in excess. Excess is their goal, law that restrains that goal is their enemy and law that subsidizes this goal is their power.
So let’s review: breakdown of the social contract, fuel wars, growing disparity between ultra rich and the rest of us, attempt to subjugate women, law serving only the powerful…
The Mad Max apocalypse may not be around the corner but you don’t have to see the movie to see the road we’re on.
Liberals and progressives had better get their act together pretty damn quick.
Before Mel Gibson becomes the lone voice of reason.
Anything and Everything that has Nothing to Do with the Movies
Sometimes, we go to a movie to get away from the world and sometimes we go to see what’s going on in the world. This blog will offer comments on the world, the movies and their occasional overlap.