“All this violence, the inner cities, the school shootings – it’s always the same weapons, the AR-15 and so on, the assault rifles… you make then unattainable, well, you’ve gone a long way to solving the problem… so why don’t these politicians do it? You got to face the fact that someone wants this shit to go on, the killing, the terror of our kids… they do say that fear is what feeds a police state, the kind of high security admin situation that someone like Trump wants in place… if his daughter got blown away you might see some action on guns – ‘til then though you’re going to see nothing…”
– Caleb Bencher (Florida)
“More folks die in traffic accidents every day, we’re going to ban the car? Of course not. We need more guns not fewer… have armed guards in every school… a gun is the only protection any of us have got against these terrorist…”
– Henry Posner (National Rifle Association)
O, America! You’re
supposedly a democracy, aren’t you? Have a referendum on this gun
issue, it’s the democratic way – see what the people really think and want.
Then, whatever the result, at least we’ll know who bears the tragic flaw, who
in fact wants this slaughter to continue on forever. But I suspect
Washington fears to have what the people really want etched there in stone
for all the world to see – for the government has no interest in what the
people want, and it rarely ever has. This explains the vested interest in
stupidity for the masses that every administration since Roosevelt has
displayed in a concerted and wholly successful attack on education. If the state schools are bad the working poor attending them won’t get any smarter, will they? And further assisting this stupidity drive, many will drop out of crummy schools around Grade Nine or Ten, certified for life as dumb. When you’re dumb, politics, the economy, etc etc, are beyond your ken, outside your sphere of reference – which encompasses sports, maybe religion (invariably fundamentalist Christian), hunting, food, possibly drink and maybe vacations in the US. Perhaps you see voting in elections as a waste of time; perhaps you always vote for the party that convinces you it’s on your side? This is always the Republican Party, whose candidates are always schooled in what you want (but almost never give it to you – and you always seem to forget or overlook this betrayal). The corporate-owned media see to it that your position of extravagant stupidity is never lampooned, or not cruelly, and indeed extolled in numberless dramas as a paragon to be aspired to by all invisibly indentured Americans, the wage-slaves who are the nation – but, alas, the nation isn’t them. Docility, steady work and obedience are guaranteed by the vast range of loans they all have to pay into each month, the mortgages, rents, health insurance, pensions, car loans, kids’ education fees and all the other rabid but unforeseen drains on the wallet to which we’re all vulnerable heirs. A thousand sources say this is the way, the truth and the life all yearn to live – and if you don’t or can’t read, how can you ever discover it may not be all they say it is? You do what your friends do, vote for the person who claims to be all about you and your needs, but remaining loyal and undeterred when they prove to have been fibbers (but not for themselves, f course, but rather because of unexpected situations arising during their term). In effect, the blue-collar masses always vote against their own interests, which are best represented by policies of the more liberal-minded. It’s a mystery. But the overall subtext of TV and video broadcasts clears up the mystery. Not all but most programs or shows reflect values, celebrate and endorse the situational plight of a proletariat oppressed and exploited by Big Business — without them even knowing it, which shows you how well-planned and successful the scheme is. This is the truth about most of America – and few dare
utter it, none of this few ever allowed to utter it on major media.
As in Britain and elsewhere in the West particularly, education is for a monied elite, those who can effortlessly afford the vertiginous fees of private schools, where classes are small (less than a quarter of those in the best state schools), the syllabi rigorous, useful and thorough. These schools of course feed the major universities (the lesser ones are mostly all businesses in disguise, profit their only real concern, their decrees scarcely worth the paper they’re on), where fees are a struggle for the poorer students, many of who are paying off loans into their forties or beyond. It is a system designed solely for the wealthy, to ensure their caste remains near the apex of our social pyramid (which once all North Americans could climb, but now all are discouraged and even prevented legally from climbing it – just as they do in Europe to keep the strata stratified). It is blatantly iniquitous, this system, and until it is dismantled – all receiving the same education – society will not evolve or adapt well to a rapidly evolving global world. Private schools are the principal problem here, and there is no rational justification for their continued existence if a society is truly egalitarian. Poverty is a part of this problem too, though, and one of its solutions may well be a guaranteed universal wage, the sum paid to all regardless of their situation and without a means test. Small-scale experiments – conducted here in Manitoba – have shown that a major effect of this guaranteed income is people returning to school or college, or else continuing on with an education without fear of a chronically reduced income. Of course there are those who say why give people money for nothing – it’s unnatural and encourages the idle. But the vast subsidies paid out to large businesses are generally money handed out for nothing. For that matter so is inherited wealth. Descendants do nothing generally to earn their inheritances – which are sometimes fabulous – yet these same people denigrate those who receive a guaranteed income to help them out of poverty, and for which they have done nothing – if caring for sick relatives, raising children, cleaning homes, pursuing a course of study, and so on are nothing. In fact just cutting subsidies to big businesses – which often use this money to pay executives ridiculously inflated salaries – would in itself finance the guaranteed universal income, which is still the only sure way to date for a practical eradication of poverty and its concomitant transformation of society. Naturally, though, I don’t expect this to happen, not soon and not ever – for those we elect to govern us, not all but most of them, either are or become beholden to the cash from big business interests, the real powers that be, whose interests are all too well known and immovably rigid when it comes to certain issues. This is far more true in America than it is in Canada, but the cautionary tale so much easier to see is still indispensable here. Just watching the pathetic spectacle of a distraught public pleading for Washington to do something about guns is a grim warning of how easily things can slide – with a President tweeting that the FBI is to blame for not following through with tips about the latest shooter, and this was because all 33,000 of their special agents were tied up being obsessed with the Russian collusion red herring. God, how do Americans tolerate this?
Stupidity would be one answer, although it’s spread over different areas, like the nationalist fervour that makes some reluctant to criticize the leader, or a class-bond with the ruling elite that chooses not to tarnish the GOP by broadcasting about the very bad apple in its current barrel. These are all forms of stupidity, whose brand burgeons by the day all over the world, and is the sole cause of social injustice and inequity. If you don’t support the abolition of private schools, for example, you’re stupid – because being part of the problem is just plain dumb. Ditto if you believe society has to be stratified, since people are not born equal or independent. Ditto if you have convinced yourself that some lead, some follow, and the rest should get out of the way. And ditto if you feel big profits justify fraud, deception, shoddy goods sold for top dollar, a thousand percent or more mark-ups, and any other felony or shameful practice you wouldn’t want practised on yourself. There are more of course, but the point is made. It is really all quite simple, this transformation of society from inequity to true egalitarianism, from plutocracy to real democracy; but it will never happen with the systems as they are – and a system will never change unless society itself is changed. It is a vicious circle, one leading only to even greater misery, really oppressive tyranny, vaster inequality, greater divisiveness, or of course bloody revolution – and these never work out well, assuming that when one nightmare is gone utopia ensues. No, an even worse hell takes over, and a dystopia no one has yet thought up ensues. You can see the problem. This latest gun issue is it in microcosm. Have the referendum – it’s clearly the only fair, reasonable and appropriately democratic course of action, isn’t it? What possible objection could there be? But will it happen? No, not in a dozen millennia. Why not? Well, this is the tricky part: the answer is because the United States is not a democracy by any stretch of the term, and it never has been. The electoral system is merely an elaborate guise to bamboozle the masses into believing the PR, when in fact two parties is an alternative not a choice, and the alternative is no alternative at all – look at the mass of congressmen and women: they’re all from the same caste, with some tokenism thrown in to make it deniable. These are not representative Americans, not remotely. Elections are easily rigged too, not that they really need to be rigged – no one undesirable ever runs for office. Win or lose, if you’re a ruler the government doesn’t change – it merely appears to change, usually by the character and personality of the leader, not – God forbid! – by any policy changes. US foreign policy has been consistent since the seventies, and economic policies have never veered far from a course set back in the late forties. You might assume from this that Americans don’t want change, but that is transparently untrue – a glance at the catastrophic conditions in cities shows you this, as does the decay of industry and the steep rise in unemployment. No, things don’t change because America’s rulers mostly serve those who are staunchly resistant to change, not per se but because the current deplorable state is good for business – their businesses of course. And these biggest businesses are the greatest of all worries: the arms trade, or the military-industrial complex, and now supply and logistics companies to keep a privatized army in all the things it used to do for itself, from rations to highly trained security personnel, men and occasionally women who fight for $1,000 a day alongside grunts earning a government salary of less than $100. It ought to give the military an idea of how it’s viewed these days – as an outfit ripe for replacement by robots – but a soldier’s code (aka brainwashing) instills a patriotism so fierce any criticism of the government is like wiping your ass on the flag. But do the math. Big Corporations = arms biz = government = perpetual war= ever-growing profits = dividends for shareholders = big corporations. The money-flow is circular, progenitors being the ultimate recipients too. But the system still depends on a proletariat to function at all – although this may soon change with robotic automation and other new technologies. So if change is to be it needs to come soon, or the cachet of labour will vanish, and with it all leverage. But change is not to be if so simple and rational a thing as banning assault rifles will never happen because too many in Congress are in the pocket of the National Rifle Association, one of the numerous very wealthy lobby groups that are also among the first things an y intelligent person would abolish in order to make government more viable. But they won’t go either, and because naked greed predominates in the upper echelons of American society – which in turn hands more power over to the ultra-rich. Another vicious circle; another condemnation of the moral character Americans love to flaunt as if they’d invented it – and usually as if they possessed it. I see a nation asleep down there, with no one at the wheel, each one thinking someone else will steer, so no one will ever steer. How terminally sad is it to see an entire country grieving over – what? – the 87th school shooting in a year, and wondering what to do about this malaise; then discovering that stronger gun controls will actually help immensely; and finally finding that this will never happen, the carnage will continue, many more children will die, and all because your elected representatives rely on handouts from the gun lobby to prop up their high lifestyles and bolster campaign funds? Is there anything sadder? Well, there is: the parents of those dead children who find their government mutters platitudes and says empty prayers, but does nothing useful at all – because it doesn’t really give a shit about kids in the morgue or their grieving kin. All those suits and ties care about is money – and that is not sad, it’s fantastically monstrous! Land of the Brave, Home of the Free? How anyone can sing those words with a straight face these days baffles and appalls me.
Paul William Roberts