Feed them, and deceive them


The government “shutdown” is both a blessing and a tragedy.

The nonsense at the Capitol is a blessing because it reflects clearly what politicos of all stripes have always known: Feed them and you can deceive them.

It shows us who is being fed and deceived, who is doing the feeding and the deceiving … and why.

It is a tragedy because it reveals the increasing intellectual, political and ethical bankruptcy of our society.

The food is money, attention and entertainment. The nourishment comes in the form of entitlements, benefits, ego-soothing and empty, sentimental patriotic slogans, scripted cable “news,” Internet blather and endless hours of fraudulent ideological “battles” conducted by elected officials.

Knowing that money is food (be it in the form of Social Security, Medicare, veteran’s benefits or military salaries) look for it and the search leads first to Congress. From there, it leads to those at the center of our political system. For, despite the pap shoveled and devoured about our vaunted democracy, we live in a growing oligarchy. The behavior of many elected officials in this current mess shows this; they act at the behest of those who feed them. The food: contributions from powerful interests — individuals and organizations that allow politicians to maintain office in which they receive a substantial salary, perks, prestige, health insurance and the chance for lucrative post-service employment with those interests.

Ask yourself: If this were a real shutdown of government, one propelled by true ideological fuel, would not the entire government be shut down? If the principle is worthy, shouldn’t the result be emphatic?

Instead, this “shutdown” is a show, serving interests whose profits are at stake — profits involved with the “health care” industries and a health care law with burdens put on large employers. It is not a fight about principles; if it were, there would be no exceptions: yes, Tea Party advocates who elect me, you will get your Social Security and Medicare: yes, seniors who vote in great numbers, Medicare and Social Security are safe, as are your veteran benefits and government pensions; yes, members of the military who could do us great damage, you will get your money.

Most telling: Yes, fellow members of Congress, our checks will be issued.

Americans who are a threat at the ballot box or elsewhere are fed and deceived, and many do not understand or accept that a growing oligarchy controls the system with relative impunity. Instead, they continue to sup on their checks, the drivel spewed by Constitution-waving buffoons parading before news cameras, and a brew from a gang of righteously indignant souls trumpeting “principle” on all sides of the issues.

In the place of wisdom, Congress delivers empty and sentimental patriotic talking points. Instead of meaningful oration, we are served readings from children’s books. In the place of philosophers, we find clowns.

This is the tragedy: Too many holler about government while enjoying its benefits; we elect shills for corporate interests who deliver meaningless screeds and posture in ways that gild our ever-simpler opinions. Too many talk change and even revolution, but can’t do without the food. Thus, all we have is talk. The least we can do is vote the fools out of office and reject the sorry charades that hide true goals and masters.

Societies, as well as individuals, can be defined in large part by their dialogues and arguments and, ultimately, not by the end results as much as by the character and quality of the process.

If this is the case, we are in trouble.

Karl Isberg