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06.15 This all-male council in Texas just voted to ban abortion [1:59 video; Bad assumptions foment ignorant actions...]

06.14 The Trans Mountain pipeline is a disaster – but Trudeau can make it right

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06.14 Climate crisis: Alaska is melting and it’s likely to accelerate global heating

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06.12 Plant Species Have Been Disappearing 500 Times Faster Than Normal, Thanks to Humans

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06.12 Politics as Usual and Planetary Destruction

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06.09 Racism as a Public Health Crisis

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06.07 The Other Climate Threat is Fear & Apathy: We can Fix this by Voting in a Manhattan Project

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06.07 For 'Challenging Us All to Confront the Realities of the Climate Crisis,' Greta Thunberg and Fridays for Future Movement Win Amnesty's Top Human Rights Award

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06.07 All New British Columbia Light-Duty Vehicles Will Be Zero Emissions By 2040

06.07 Caribbean Solar Update: Curacao Solar Saves 10% In Energy Costs; Montecristi In The DR Doubles To 116 MW

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06.13 Even the 1% Know They Aren't Paying Their Fair Share: New Poll Shows 60% of Millionaires Support Warren's Ultra-Wealth Tax

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06.14 Justice Denied, Delayed, or Done Right? Serious Concerns as Prosecutors Throw Out Charges in Flint Water Crisis Cases [A very flawed prosecution using suspiciously limited evidence has been thrown out, a stronger case will be brought using newly found, voluminous evidence.]

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06.11 Hundreds of North Korean execution sites identified, says rights group

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06.11 Capitalism isn't 'broken'. It's working all too well - and we're the worse for it

06.11 The problem with billionaires fighting climate change? The billionaires [Bloomberg's sanity to control greed to save the life-on-earth (and continuing profits) is unfortunately rare]

06.09 Elizabeth Warren’s economic nationalism vision shows there's a better way [As like championed by Economist Joseph Stiglitz]

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06.15 Africa’s Lost Kingdoms

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06.15 Extinction Rebellion protesters stop rush-hour traffic in London

06.15 Hong Kong leader suspends extradition bill amid protest pressure [1:37 video]

06.15 The US must stand with the people of Hong Kong [But this attacks Xi's authoritarianism, which Trump is most envious of for himself...]

06.14 As Angus Taylor ducks, weaves and dithers, China zooms past

06.13 What does it mean to be genetically Jewish? [Doing a mental dance with archanery: could a significant number of Russians and Palestinians be intentionally included or excluded as genetically Jewish? And why would Israel do this?]

06.13 Two oil tankers struck in suspected attacks in Gulf of Oman

06.13 Theresa May’s carbon emissions plan will fail if the chancellor remains complacent

06.12 Hong Kong: police use rubber bullets as protesters vow 'no retreat' [1:34 video]

06.12 French medics warn health service is on brink of collapse

06.12 Leaked documents reveal Russian effort to exert influence in Africa

06.12 Extending the US Embargo on Cuba & Hurting the People [Doing what's cruelest]

06.12 Annexation Without Citizenship Is Apartheid

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  Everything is Broken: Money Power and the Minneapolis Bridge
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COMMENTARY:

Everything is Broken: Money Power and the Minneapolis Bridge

by Chris Floyd
photo of bridge collapse
Ain't no use jivin'
Ain't no use jokin'
Everything is broken.

-- Bob Dylan
What is different today is the vastly magnified scale of the corruption and cronyism, and the ever-growing cumulative effect of year after year of this rot on our infrastructure, our politics and our lives.
Anyone of a certain age -- and not a very great one at that -- knows perfectly well from their own experience how the country's infrastructure has been allowed to wither and rot over the past three decades. They can see with their own eyes how the absolute ascendancy of crony capitalism -- the rigged "free market" feasting on gargantuan pork and sweetheart laws laid out by well-bribed pols -- has transformed the country into an ugly, crumbling, slap-dash monoculture laid over broken roads, abandoned cities and hard, harsh lives. As Dylan put it in a recent interview:
Well, America's a different place than it was when those [older] records were made. It was more like Europe used to be, where every territory was different -- every country was different, every state was different. A different culture, different architecture, different food. You could go 100 miles in the States and it would be like going from Stalingrad to Paris or something. It’s just not that way anymore. It's all homogenized. People wear the same clothes, eat the same food, think the same things.
And one of the "same things" they think is that the brutal ascendancy of Money Power is just the natural order of things, that there's nothing to be done about it: you just vote for one slickly earnest Bible-quoting goober after another, knowing all the while that he will steer the contracts for roads and bridges and sewer pipes and health inspections and safety checks and schools and hospitals to some crony or contributor who will cut every corner he can to fill his pockets. What does he care? He'll take a helicopter, he doesn't need the highway. He's got the finest doctors on call, his house is custom-made, his children go to the best private schools, and if one of the meat-packing plants he and his fellow venture capitalists own blows up and kills a bunch of locked-in workers, so what? The insurance will cover it, and if it doesn't, you can just slice and dice another deal to get an extra wad: maybe some crony pol will sell you the city water system for peanuts, and you can jack up the rates.

People think that the rapidly expanding gap between the richest rich and everybody else is just the way things are, when in fact, it is totally unprecedented in America. Again, you don't have to be very old to remember when things weren't this way. And I'm not talking about some kind of nostalgic utopia where corruption and cronyism was never known. Such things we have had and will have with us always. What is different today is the vastly magnified scale of the corruption and cronyism, and its active, ruthless, relentless augmentation by government -- and the ever-growing cumulative effect of year after year of this rot on our infrastructure, our politics and our lives. But the bright, garish diversions and carefully cultivated, corporate-skewed media misinformation that have swallowed our civic society have induced a kind of amnesia amongst the older populace, who are led at every turn to distrust and reject the historical evidence of their own lives.

And of course, there are now generations of Americans who have lived well into adulthood in the "shambling catastrophe" that the Money Power has made of the country. For them, it really is the way of the world, and it takes a conscious, determined, continuous effort on their part to see beyond the grotesque carnival they've been born into. Fortunately, there are many such young people; but of course, the default position of most people (of all ages) is, quite naturally, just to get on with their lives as best they can in the world in which they find themselves.

At any rate, for whatever reason, beyond expressing displeasure at the state of the nation in an occasional poll, the majority of Americans seem to have sunk into a strangely apathetic state. I have seen some remarks around the blogosphere expressing hope that the Minneapolis bridge collapse will at last spark some productive anger in Americans, cause them to rise up and demand that their communities and nation be rebuilt and properly maintained, that corruption and incompetence will no longer be tolerated, and so on. But of course there is very little hope of that. We're talking about a nation that countenanced the destruction and abandonment of one of its greatest cities, New Orleans, that still sits by as the Bush Regime and its cronies gorge themselves on "reconstruction" pork while thousands upon thousands of people remain refugees in their own land. (See here, here, here and here, all via Buzzflash.) Will such a people swallow the destruction of a whole city but strain at the loss of a bridge? I doubt it.

Maybe the fact that most of the people affected by the bridge collapse are white might give the catastrophe a little extra political oomph; we probably won't see jowly white Republican congressman from the Midwest breezily suggesting we just forget about rebuilding the bridge and leave the people to their fate. (Hey, it's a free country; if they can't cross the Mississippi there, they can always up sticks and move somewhere else where the bridges are still standing, right?) And no doubt we will see the Bush Regime and state governments move to slip fat, no-bid contracts to favored cronies to "upgrade" bridges around the country, in the same corner-cutting, pocket-filling manner described above. But a mass movement to stem the accelerating decay of the country by putting a brake on the rigged-game Money Power and its many sniveling helpers in government? That's one thing we won't be seeing any time soon.

(For more, see Jon Schwarz' excellent piece: Our Crumbling America.)
photo of Chris FloydChris Floyd is an American journalist and the Editor and co-founder of the Atlantic Free Press. His work has appeared in print and online in venues all over the world, including the Nation, CounterPunch, Columbia Journalism Review, the Christian Science Monitor, Il Manifesto, the Moscow Times and many others. He is the author of Empire Burlesque: High Crimes and Low Comedy in the Bush Imperium, and is co-founder and editor of the "Empire Burlesque" political blog. He can be reached at cfloyd72@gmail.com.

This column originally appeared on Chris Floyd's site, and is republished here with the permission of the author.


Copyright © 2007 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on August 3, 2007.
 

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