Analysis Of Benefit

            Moyers and Company had the usual suspects on last night. Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone was on for his perspective of The Scam Wall Street Learned From The Mafia. Yves Smith concurred with views expressed in her latest book Econned. More grounds for appeal by the Occupy folks. The second half of the program was a conversation between Moyers and one of his peers: Peter Edelman who just released his So Rich, So Poor filled with statistics, charts and graphs and 8 x 10 glossies showing the stagnation and perpetration of lower wages, poverty level existence in the midst of incredible wealth. The rich get richer while the poor remain – poor, and grow in number. More fodder for Occupy. Of course, spanning the half century of study and involvement that these two old warriors contributed, the big picture, the long term solution was the only focus. Can anything be done? In the late fall of 2011 the Republican Governors Association was instructed in the manipulation of language to further the conservative agenda in the face of (at that time) growing Occupy influence in the economic conversation. Frank Luntz promoted seizing control by using “free market” instead of “capitalism”, “careers” instead of “jobs” (what happened to that one? Romney certainly isn’t promising careers for the unemployed!), “job creator” over “entrepreneur”. Just as the conservative solutions of mandatory jail sentences to be tough on crime, and waging “war” as a solution to addiction proved unsustainable and counter productive, we need to stand up and insist on fairness, transparency and economic justice when the “redistribution of wealth” is denigrated by political aspirants. The emphasis needs to be on what applies to and improves our country over the long haul, programs and policies that cultivate growth and sustenance. So recommended Peter Edelman. Moyers rhetorically asked how this is possible when we live in a society, an economically obsessed culture, where immediate returns and outcome determine policy/program decisions (whether last quarter showed a profit or not). In the face of what Taibbi and Smith presented, and Edelman confirmed, the short term outcome of any resistance or argument for alternative will always be deemed ineffective. And there’s the rub.

            Recently, a small group of loosely affiliated individuals intent on calling attention to the corrosive influence of big money on government and politics, exposing this inequity, this lack of transparency and justice within a constitutional democracy, found itself in disarray. By definition, this disparate group was filled with various interests and demands symptomatic of big money’s reach; be it environmental issues, lack of housing, pervasive hunger, etc. What fragmented the unity of intent that initially made up this community was not the plethora of interests but rather the insistence on efficiency, on projecting limited resources and membership exclusively on the basis of what would be most effective. No one noticed or recognized that such an approach, such methodology is precisely the same methodology and operational schema of that which the group was challenging and seeking an alternative for. As Moyers pointed out, the capitalist business emphasis is increasingly on instantaneous gratification, on what is most effective at showing a profit in the immediate or past quarter. This small group of patriots, intent on exposing the disastrous consequences of such a “get rich quick” approach on the good of our country, embraced the mode of operation, the very standard (of effectiveness and efficiency) that it wished to critique. Is it any wonder that such methodology produced eventual fragmentation? Insisting on short term effectiveness and efficiency in the face of long term major overhaul is a recipe for collapse. Trying to compete, let alone competition with late term capitalism, is like trying to out swim sharks. Swimming is what sharks do. Competition is what capitalists do. If the alternative is cooperation and consensus, the analysis of benefit cannot be founded on effectiveness and efficiency.

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