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Category: Politics

Not News
Did you hear about the 3.6 earthquake in Barstow? It was in the newspaper.

I confess that I didn’t get past the headline. Any quake under 6.0 is just not worth worrying about, and for Barstow I’d put the minimum at 8.0. Otherwise, it’s not news.

If there is a poll showing that people think global warming is a hoax but that there’s some truth to astrology, please don’t waste my time. The insight this provides into human nature is not news.

The Yankees are in the playoffs? Tell me something I don’t know.

The Dow is up a hundred points? Now it’s down a hundred? Wake me when it swings a thousand or more.

Feel free to edit out all celebrity updates, especially those involving long iterations about struggles with addiction. Thanks; I’m trying to quit.

I guess I do need to know about corporate malfeasance and political corruption. It’s not news, but I do have to keep my outrage fully inflated at all times. You know — just in case I’m presented with an opportunity to do something about it.

I do not need to know about Rush Limbaugh’s latest vile exudation. As a wise man once said, Rush Limbaugh is a big fat idiot, and that will suffice for me. As to his followers, who proudly proclaim their identity as “dittoheads,” I can only say that I don’t know whether or not they are overweight.

I suppose the end of the world would be a newsworthy event, but what good would it do me to know it was near? Thanks for your concern, but it’s not news.

It is possible that, with all these deletions, my daily newspaper would shrink even more than it already has. Some of my favorite online sources might disappear entirely. I would mourn these losses. I suppose I could subscribe to one of those tailored news feeds, but those services assume that I know what I want. I don’t; all I know is what I don’t want.

If only there was some service that could comb the various news outlets, weed out the useless stuff, then submit the remainder to me for reading.

Oh, wait a minute; that’s me.
Capitalism
I won’t say that capitalism is bad.

It rewards individual enterprise, after all. It also rewards ingenuity, hard work, and the building of long-lasting, beneficial institutions. Unfortunately, capitalism also rewards greed — more handsomely than all those other things put together. I am willing to say that greed is bad.

What’s so bad about greed? Isn’t it just as good at animating the Invisible Hand that Adam Smith assured us would magically guide the economy toward a good result for everyone? No. They made greed a cardinal sin for a very good reason. It kills any positive motivation (enterprise, let’s say) that might exist alongside it and goes straight for the money. It dictates an all-out, all the time, full-on sociopathic pursuit of personal gain. As with all the other cardinal sins, it will lead you to a bad end.

And by “bad end,” I don’t mean hell. I mean human suffering, and the more greed there is at play, the more suffering will result. In fact, of all the cardinal sins, including wrath, it has the most potential to do harm. Slavery is a prime example. Slave traders certainly make plenty of money, but they also create a lot of human misery. My guess is that they don't care. That is because the traders’ greed has overcome their human decency. I would also argue that most war — the ugliest, stupidest, most destructive thing we do — has greed at its motivational core.

So capitalism has a problem. It incentivizes the most poisonous of all vices. It sews the seeds of its own undoing, cripples the invisible hand, and in the end will bring all of us down. Adam Smith himself recognized this danger. He warned against cartels and monopolies, which are antithetical to the idea of consumer sovereignty that is central to his theories. And he wasn’t even aware of the monstrous corporate “persons” we live with today.

Still, I won’t say capitalism is bad. Instead, it’s more like an undisciplined child, potentially good, but in need of structure and guidance. That leaves us to decide how to provide that structure. For this job, there are two options: Church or State.

I’m not really crazy about either one, but I’ll have to go with State. Church is just too unreliable. With State, assuming it’s a democracy, we have the promise of our own authority written into law. It’s not an ironclad guarantee, certainly, but it is something tangible we can use to defend ourselves from the ravages of greed and the excesses of capitalism.
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No "new normal" for me, this shit ain't normal.
~ MS, Truckee