Morro dos Pescadores, Rio de Janeiro

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Losing control

I belong to a email discussion group. No Yahoo groups or other forums, we just keep a list of emails and exchange opinions, comments, or links to stories we think interesting to everyone. Recently, a friend of posted the following comments on the state of the media in our society that were so to the point I felt it should have as broad as possible a airing.

Enjoy, cry, then do something . . .

On Dec 18, 2009, at 12:54 PM, Homer Ferguson wrote:

“I remember that almost everyone trusted Walter Cronkite.  The sense of distrust and its accompanying attitude of cynicism may be a consequence of our feeling that there are no news sources we can trust as a nation. 
“I remember the advent of CNN: 24/7 news on a cable channel.  The idea was novel at the time; not yet having access to the internet, we could tune into a cable channel on TV or into the companion radio station and hear news.  At first we trusted CNN.  The rot began to really set in when Fox "News" and the hate talk-show hosts began to pander in large numbers to people whose frustrations and anger found validation. At the same time, the government was allowing corporations to acquire news outlets, even though most of them operated businesses unrelated to journalism.  These corporations, including those whose business had included news broadcasting (like CBS), driven to make ever-greater profits, had no interest in serving the public's right to know.  It should come as no surprise that they would pressure--if not force--the news outlets which they had bought to attract more viewers and listeners. 
To do so, these outlets now find themselves with little choice beyond offering entertainment, gossip, and sensationalism.  It should not come as a surprise, either, that the acquiring corporations look askance on any broadcasts whose content portrays them in an unfavorable manner.  By virtue of ownership or control, then, the owner exercises censorship.  It decides what the public will know and what it will not know--to the extent that the public tunes in to news outlets owned or controlled by their owner.  
According to (a nonpartisan site launched by Robert W. McChesney, journalist John Nichols and Josh Silver), six behemoths now own and/or control most of the media outlets today: GE, Walt Disney, News Corp., TimeWarner, VIACOM, and CBS  News Corp., its name notwithstanding, is the antithesis of true journalism: it belongs to Rupert Murdoch, a mogul who uses his wealth to become wealthier while controlling the content, tone, and (in)accuracy of his holdings.  The fact that he can rake in huge profits delivering equivocations, sophisms, corporatist propaganda (to him the heart of his message), misinformation, and even lies by pandering to the anger and anti-intellectualism (anti-intellectualism has long been an undercurrent of our culture; it should not be confused with intelligence, since many anti-intellectuals are far more intelligent that I) of tens of millions of Americans is living proof of the profitability of tapping into popular anger and preconceptions. 
Because turning Americans against Americans produces a house divided, the wealthiest élite can fly under the radar, not being held responsible for shipping out our manufacturing jobs and industrial base, for siphoning away taxpayer dollars in the hundreds of billions in the forms of subsidies, tax cuts, and contracts (including the breathtaking amounts we spend on military "contractors").  While we remain distracted as we squabble over display of the Ten Commandments, the flag as a symbol, gay marriage, the unenforceable recriminalization of abortion, etc., our pockets are being picked, our wages reduced, costs of our health care increased while accessibility to health care is reduced, and our pensions wiped out by the reckless gambling of the corporations on whose value and profits those pensions rely.
The corporatist right hammers us with scapegoats on which we can blame our financial and social woes.  It offers no solutions, of course, since any real solution must begin by the laying of responsibility for the state of our nation and economy at the doors of the few global corporations seeking, like cockroaches, to hide in the dark and the shadows.
We will remain uninformed, mutually suspicious, and cynical as long as we allow a few of the wealthiest entities ever known to run our government, manage the content of our media, and control our lives.  For this reason, I place at a premium the importance of breaking these corporations up under the anti-trust laws. 
Being a true conservative, I want to see a return of free, independent media governed by high journalistic ethics, many businesses in intense competition with each other--none of them vertically integrated.  No business should have the power to tell consumers how much they will pay for goods and services; whenever intense competition is possible and workable, prices, fees, and quality are (as a rule) best determined by competition. 
Workers must be afforded the right to organize into unions not just on paper but in real life so that they can bargain collectively with they employers rather than have their wages, working conditions, and dignity dictated to them by their bosses.  Enterprises abroad must pay workers a wage suffient for those workers to buy the necessaries of living their lives in dignity and providing for the futures of their children and the means for them to retire and live in dignity.  Those same enterprises must be held, at a minimum, to the same standards at which they would be held in the US by OSHA and the EPA.  Tax breaks for investing abroad must be ended.  The goods they bring into this country must be inspected for contraband, drugs, and any weapons or other means of destruction, and the exporter must pay fees for this inspection.
Women and men who elect to care for their children at homes must be provided a measure of societal gratitude and personal security--at the very least, quarterly credits for social security and access to the best health care this nation can provide.
There is much more.  But Americans can do and what we can dream are not allowed to come to fruition today: we no longer have a government daring us as a people to stride boldly into the future.  Our government, the global corporate sector, demands and gets the stagnant status quo.
I'll stop here.  Take care,

1 comment:

melissa said...

I really like your blog! I'm a new author and have enjoyed this new experience. I find that it's the most difficult and most rewarding. I'm also a graphic designer and love having that creative outlet as well.
Thanks for your post! I will be back for more updates. :-)

Melissa Nielsen