Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

BP, Capitalism, and GOP Brainwashing

Christopher Durang, the sardonic playwright and provocateur (I remember playing a minor role in his cutting play Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You when I was still in elementary school), writes a well-reasoned commentary on the oil spill and its evidence of so many ways we’ve gone wrong in today’s Huff Post. Not only does he soundly lambast those who like to rail against environmentalism (“the earth has always been changing” the conservatives say), but he takes corporations and greed-driven financial institutions to task.

The commentary has an air of sadness combined with anger, as if this disaster along our southern gulf is only the culmination of the poor oversight of business, the outlandish Tea Party claims of socialism, our communal overuse and abuse of resources for more cars, more production, more selfishness in sucking up the world’s riches. He’s not alone. I share his outrage. And I imagine he’d have a whole rally of frustrated Americans if we brought his case to the podium.

Citing Bob Herbert in a New York Times op ed, he writes:

If a bank is too big to fail, it’s way too big to exist. If an oil well is too far beneath the sea to be plugged when something goes wrong, it’s too deep to be drilled in the first place.

I’m reminded of the great Harvey Fierstein PSA a couple years ago, when Fierstein asks viewers, with a calm yet menacing restraint, “Where is our anger?” “Where is our anger?” he repeated, over and over. Why aren’t those of us who are pissed off with the greed of corporate America, the co-opting of the national conversation by ridiculous, fear-mongering people like Sarah Palin and the Tea Party maniacs, as vocal and organized and angry as those on the right?

The GOP, for all its misdirected views, has managed to organize and coalesce its values around Christianity and capitalism rather than humanism and rational dialogue. Christopher Durang questions these material values:

Has any Republican read the Beatitudes lately? They’re pretty significant, but you kind of have to be a saint to follow them. Republicans seem to have merged Christianity with … well, laissez-fair capitalism. I don’t think Jesus would approve.

Where is our anger? Have we become too comfortable with all our stuff? Why is it only now, after more than a month since the oil leak started, are we only seeing the devastating–but real–images of all kinds of wildlife covered in oil?

Maybe it’s because those of us with progressive views don’t want to sink to the Republican’s level of shouting. Their lack of discourse (and embrace of shock value and fear-mongering). What else will it take (because a catastrophic oil spill ain’t firing up the crowds) for more of us to get off our padded sofas and take the corporations to task?

Where is your anger?

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Filed under: business, consumerism, media, politics, , , , , , , , , , ,

One Response

  1. The Destructionist says:

    As countries around the world scramble to shore up their economies by implementing severe austerity plans (in an effort to salvage what they have left of their financial houses), the global markets will continue their slide downward into no-man’s land, as if caught up in some type of melancholy or malaise.

    Some say that we are headed into a recession or depression. I wholeheartedly disagree. What we are witnessing now is something newly created and born of corporate greed. It is a monster that we have never seen before and one in which we are ill-prepared to handle.

    For example, during the Depression, the United States was able to withstand the financial storm because it had American businesses at the ready to hire American workers back at a moment’s notice. Knowing that, it was for most, a psychological security blanket: an underlying assurance that no matter how bad times got, jobs would always be there once the economy improved. Unfortunately, that’s not the case today. Many American businesses have carted their factories and jobs off to other countries in an effort to reduce their overhead and labor costs. Without these jobs to fall back upon, as in times past, there is no real way for America to financially recover from a recession or depression.

    Some will balk at the assertion, claiming that the small ‘mom and pop’ stores will eventually see us through these hard financial times. But to them I ask, “Have you ever heard of Wal-Mart… With low, low prices, every day? How do you expect the common mom and pop stores to compete against such behemoths?” …Simply put, they can’t.
    This situation is not just happening here in America, but around the globe. Corporations are playing it fast and loose with their allegiances on every front; with no care at all to the country or the people that fostered their growth or prosperity. (If it’s cheaper for them to move jobs to some foreign country that pays its workers only .50 an hour, trust me, they’ll do it.) Business is cold and uncaring. Business does not care who suffers, just as long as there is a profit for their shareholders during every quarter. Business should be regulated to prevent such financial catastrophes from happening in the future.

    In closing, I understand that there are many other forces at work here that are contributing to the global economic crisis, but far beyond all others, corporate greed seems to be the thread that ties them together.

    Expect the Dow to continue on its downward slide.

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Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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