Friday, January 22, 2010

Idiot America Part 2

I continue to work my way through “Idiot America” by Charles Pierce. Nothing Pierce has talked about has been something I wasn’t aware of, although his descriptions of the Terri Shiavo affair contained details that I didn’t know, but seeing them addressed one after the other is downright depressing.

Now we can add Health Care Reform to the back of the list.

Although Pierce hasn’t articulated it this way, what he has been describing can best be understood as an “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with bullshit” strategy. Or, perhaps a better description would be, “If you can’t convince them, confuse them.”

The big problem of course is that the strategy has been used, and continues to be used, to divert the American public from the truth while the media nods its head and smiles idiotically like one of those bobbing head dolls in the back of a car with lousy shocks going over a dirt road.

It’s a battle of facts vs. fiction, science vs. marketing. The problem is that facts and science are constrained by reality while fiction and marketing know no bounds. I can make fiction anything I want. I can make it attractive; I can make it frightening; I can even make it a combination of the two if that’s what suits my purpose.

The fundamental problem in American politics today is that the Democrats still believe its all about facts and issues while the Republicans have figured out its all about marketing and public relations.

This is not to say that the Democrats are always right and the Republicans always wrong. There are in fact real questions and issues that need to be addressed and a lot to talk about particularly when it comes to things like the federal budget and the national debt.

The problem is that it’s so much easier to “baffle them with bullshit” and so hard to convince them with facts, especially when the facts are often against you. Success is addictive and breeds more of the same tactic.

Until of course you get caught in a lie and nailed. But even that’s ok. Because the American public has a short memory, an even shorter attention span, and will happily allow the same folks they caught lying yesterday to fool them again today if what they're pitching is well packaged, more attractive, and easier to understand than that messy unpleasant stuff called truth and reality.

The average American is an idiot; the average American wants to be fooled because being fooled allows existence in a pleasant fantasy. “We have the best health care system in the world,” “global warming isn’t a problem,” “socialism is going to take money from me, the working man, and give it to the welfare cheats” and “Jesus is going to come back and take me to heaven” are all examples of being fooled.

The realities are that our health care system is the most expensive and one of the most inefficient in the industrial world. Its rising costs are also what is driving the budget deficit.

Global warming is a big problem and its going to get bigger so we damned well better start worrying what, if anything, we can do about it.

Socialism tends to take money away from the so-called rich and redistribute it to the working man. It this particular case the “rich” would be those folks, like corporate CEOs, who have unfairly managed to divert much of the production profit to themselves rather than sharing it with the people actually producing the product. Think Wall Street bonuses if you need an example. The people who are fighting things like health care reform the loudest would probably benefit the most.

Last, but not least, Jesus isn’t coming back, ever. Religion, and especially Christianity, is the single biggest con job of them all. It basically convinces you to trade benefits in the here and now for promised rewards after you die. Of course, as a further incentive, Christianity throws in a good old dose of fear.

Like I said, I can make fiction both attractive and frightening at the same time if that’s what suits my purpose.

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