Friday, June 22, 2012

Twilight of the Elites by Christopher Hayes

We live in a strange time. As we grow more cynical and apathetic, watching dancing and singing and reality shows on TV, our leaders become ever more estranged from us, and dysfunctional. Presidential elections are now little more than pop culture entertainment, about as important as who wins America's Next Top Model (or America's Got No Marketable Skills.) "The feeling of betrayal and alienation suffuses public life," says Christopher Hayes in TWILIGHT OF THE ELITES. Just as the debasing of metals used in coins pushed out gold and silver from our money, so too has steroid use pushed out non-"B12" usage in sports, and "getting the joke" (ie. accepting that Washington runs on bribes) has pushed out honesty from politics. "Meritocracy becomes oligarchy," argues Hayes, showing how even middle class America has accepted the goal of "escape" from the fate of poor social underlings. Yet those who succeed soon attempt to prevent those beneath them from succeeding, "pulling the ladder up that they just climbed." He compares the economic collapse to the Titanic. Those uber-rich in the upper suites didn't believe that the flooding of the servants quarters way down below could sink the whole ship, and when they did realize it they took to the lifeboats of bailouts and bonuses, paddling away from the cries of the doomed as fast as possible (engineering their escape before the regulators knew what was happening.) While the Tea Party wrangles with Democrats and Republicans, it becomes clear to Hayes that the real problem is income disparity maintained by elites who hold tight to the status quo. Even Obama, who initially campaigned on a platform of change, was ultimately neutered into stalemate by the elites, who have rigged the game in their favor. A great awakening will happen at the next collapse, when Americans finally realize that their trust in the system (including the military, whose endless wars serve them more than the taxpayer) was misplaced. The only way to prevent the U.S. from making Greece look like a tempest in a teacup is to demand a new dialogue that exposes our cultural assumptions as misguided, and our lawyer-elite tax manipulations as a recipe from hell. Read by Joe Barrett, BAILOUT is also an ear-opener.

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