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Est. April 5, 2002
July 21, 2016 - Issue 663

The Hype of U.S. Politics
Is of Little Concern
Developing Nations


"Technology has run far ahead of our capacity
to deal with it, to mull it over, to talk with family,
friends, and co-workers or colleagues. That was
the main way that people came to a decision on
local or national issues before the 'information age.'
There was time to do that, because things did not
come at them in a wall of voices, each one (often)
screaming the outlines of a position or opinion."

While millions in the U.S. are riveted to their television sets and other electronic devices to follow every word and phrase of the participants in the Republican National Convention, most of the rest of the world is carrying on as they usually do, trying to survive.

Analysis of what’s happening on their screens may be helpful to potential voters in far-off November, but most of what passes as analysis largely fills the gaps of airtime between the commercials. It’s hot air that passes for what used to be called the “first draft of history,” way back in newspaper days. Way back in those days, there was a small debate in a newsroom far away about the differences between newspapers’ content in the Soviet Union and newspapers in the U.S.

Most said that the Soviet newspapers were all controlled by the powers that be, so not much in them could be given credibility. And, there was truth to that position, since the Politburo or Central Committee closely controlled most elements in that collection of nations. Citizens of the Soviet Union, however, were said to be very sophisticated readers of those papers and knew how to interpret the verbiage. But, said the minority in this argument, we have in this country nearly unlimited sources of information, including newspapers, television, magazines, radio, and others, to the extent that what we get is a “white noise” of information. If that was true 40 years ago, what passes for news today is many times as indecipherable to the average citizen in this age of cable TV, Smartphones, computers, and other means of the instant transmission of information.

Unfortunately, that’s all it is: raw information that is passed on unfiltered. There is very little time to reflect and consider what is really happening. More to the point, that flow of endless information (most of which could be ignored in the moment) hides what is really happening and, usually, there is very little that is new (as in news). Rather, it is a thin film on the surface that does not allow the viewer to see very deeply beneath.

That’s the reality of our time, that the technology has run far ahead of our capacity to deal with it, to mull it over, to talk with family, friends, and co-workers or colleagues. That was the main way that people came to a decision on local or national issues before the “information age.” There was time to do that, because things did not come at them in a wall of voices, each one (often) screaming the outlines of a position or opinion. It doesn’t make for reasoned responses. U.S. citizens, unlike the Soviets of long ago, generally have not been the best interpreters of what they see and read in our “free press.” There’s just too much to handle and it’s too loud.

The “free press” has been so atomized that most individuals find a “news source” that they agree with and stick to that as their only source of news. As much as anything, that is an important factor in the political polarization of the people and a major factor in causing the two major political parties to be so opposed to one another that they can’t agree on much of anything. There are destructive and dangerous things happening to their country and world: climate change, mass extinction, pollution of air and water, the impending demise of fishing in our oceans, economic disruptions, terrorism (individual and state), and debasement of food production.

The state of food production is vitally important to billions of the world’s citizens, yet the rich countries are in control of much of it and they are seeking more and more control, mainly because that is another source of incredible potential wealth and power. Henry Kissinger said four decades ago: “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.” Transnational corporations have figured out ways to maximize the control of food and people and the governments of a handful of rich nations have helped them stride across the world, disrupting traditional farming practices and even the cultures of peoples.

Issues like these are of vital importance to the prey countries. The people of the so-called First World are similarly affected and could do something about it, but there is not a word of it mentioned in the presidential primary elections and it is not likely to be mentioned in the conventions of either major party. Millions of small farmers having been pushed off their land and forced to the urban areas to find jobs, usually at a low rate of pay. It’s not likely that U.S. lawmakers will ever begin to address the abuse of corporate power in other countries, because of the fear that it might provoke debate about what has happened to agriculture and the food system right at home.

Worldwide control of food systems is being done under the guise of “free trade,” which gives transnational corporations the right to sue sovereign governments for money they might have made, had those governments not passed laws that protect the environment, maintain decent standards for working men and women, or had the temerity to ban the use of genetically modified organisms (or, at the least, labeling food-like substances that contain GMOs). There are many other things that corporations could sue governments for, but the important thing to remember is that this would never be a lawsuit in a court of law, but a tribunal of the “free trade” partners and adjudicators (faux judges) would be of corporate partners’ choosing.

This is what “globalization” of the economy has been doing and will continue to do in the future: plunder of weaker countries and those with unstable or corrupt governments, with not a thought to what the people have to suffer. As long as the rich get what they want, the U.S. will continue to act in this manner. The endless wars and “targeted” drone killings will continue, leaving regions or entire countries in smoking ash piles. These are things that are being done worldwide as the sideshow of electoral politics is being played out in Cleveland and Philadelphia.

The substance of our policies, at home or in the rest of the world will not be discussed during the vaunted free-elections that are supposed to be the hallmark of a nation founded on the principles of freedom, liberty, fraternity, and the pursuit of happiness, as it says in the founding documents.

While the political conventions are, and will be, hyped in the U.S., in all of the countries where the “free world” has its tentacles, the people (say, 6 billion out of the 7.4 billion in the world) are struggling just to get by for another day. Just like a sizable percentage of Americans who are not paying attention to what’s going on at either political convention, because they don’t believe that much will change, no matter who wins in November. Many of them will not vote, because they don’t believe the words of the candidates or their minions.

The wide array of problems that need to be solved in the U.S., starting with the disparity in treatment of black and other minority citizens by law enforcement and the judicial system, are obvious and must be dealt with, but the two major parties have done little to bring the nation together to solve the problems. On the campaign trail, they love to call themselves “uniters,” but what we have seen so far is nothing but calls for tax cuts for the rich and corporations, cuts in social programs, and rampant exploitation (and destruction) of our natural environment…and gridlock.

When the conventions are finished, the American people will hear a lot of promises, but the proof will be in the delivery of solutions to the very real and continuing problems that are on the TV news each night. This election year is a turning point. We have been told as much by the millions of voters who dislike both of the apparent presidential candidates. Many more millions don’t like either party. The millions who are independent, if they decide to form a new party, may be the force needed to change the way government functions. For a change the people could try a government that is of the people, by the people, and for the people, as the founders had hoped.

The story goes that a woman encountered Benjamin Franklin in the streets of Philadelphia, during the time when he and the other founders had worked out the nation’s founding documents and she asked him, “Mr. Franklin, what have you wrought?” He answered, “A republic, if you can keep it.” The people are in some danger of losing their democratic republic and, as the political show goes on, many are contemplating a future in which their days are filled with the attempt just to survive. Just like the other 6 billion people are doing today. Columnist, John Funiciello, is a long-time former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.




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Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
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Peter Gamble

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