Monday, February 20, 2012

Week of 02/20/2012

The Politics of Emotional Blackmail
– by David Matthews 2

Imagine having someone you love in the hospital. They’re sick. They’re hooked up to machines, they’re coughing and puking and crying in misery, and all you can do is just watch and be there for them.

The doctor then tells you that your loved one is going to be in misery for a very long time. There’s nothing that can be done to make this person comfortable. They are going to be in complete agony, suffering every single day, and there is nothing that he or you can do about it.

However, the doctor says that there may be a cure. There is a remote chance that a certain drug could help cure your loved one, or at least to lessen the misery that they’re going through. The doctor would like to try the drug, but some bureaucrat is preventing it. He suggests that maybe if you were to convince the bureaucrat to okay the drug, he could then give it to your loved one, and it would cut down on some of the misery.

So you find the bureaucrat and you start a one-person campaign to harass and hassle and cajole that bureaucrat to relent. Now the bureaucrat tells you that the drug in question is still just experimental. They haven’t even finished testing it on animals yet. They don’t know the full extent of the side-effects. They don’t even know if it would work in the way that it was being touted as.

But that doesn’t matter, does it? No, because every day, you’re having to sit by your loved one’s side as they are moaning and crying and puking. They’re begging for help, and you can’t do a thing. It’s breaking your heart to have to go through this, and the doctor constantly tells you that “salvation” would come if only the bureaucrat could change his mind and approves the use of this drug.

You launch a personal vendetta against the bureaucrat. You drag the media into it. You get your friends into it. You make it your mission in life to make that bureaucrat suffer for every day that you suffer and for every day that your loved one suffers.

Finally the bureaucrat relents. He approves the testing of the drug. The doctor says thank you for your persistence, and that the drug would help a lot of people… eventually. It just won’t help your loved one. Not right now, anyway. But there is another drug that “could” help…

How many of you would want to punch that doctor’s lights out right then and there, after all that you went through? I’m sure a lot of us would understand if you were in that situation and you were strung along like that. We would want that doctor lynched for playing on your emotions, especially for something that doesn’t even do what the doctor was leading you to believe it to do.

So why aren’t we doing this right now with the politicians and members of the media when it comes to the price of gasoline? They certainly deserve it after playing this very trick on us repeatedly.

There is an annual game that we all are forced to play, and it goes something like this: every year right around this time, the price of gasoline at the pump creeps up and up and up. Executives from Big Oil and their “good friends” in the corporate-owned media will whip up a few dozen reasons to justify the hike – other than just economic greed, of course. They will blame the government on their ever-changing “boutique” blend regulations; they will blame Islamic extremists in the Middle East and Africa; they will blame it on the “forced shutdown” of key refineries; they will blame problems with the ports; they will blame competition from China and India; they will blame unrest in Europe; they will blame Wall Street insecurities; they will even blame the weather if there are enough hurricanes that year. If a sheik stubs his toe or if a futures expert gets his math wrong, the price at the pump doesn’t just go up, it goes up that very day. Sometimes even that very hour! Price hikes are instantaneous, but price drops supposedly take weeks, if not months, before they can take effect.

Every excuse and justification is offered to the masses except for the honest one: “Because we can.”

Then we hear about the effects of these higher gas prices. We hear about how the cost of living will go up, because trains and planes and trucks all rely on gas, and if that cost goes up, then so does the cost of the goods they transport. It costs us more to heat our homes, it costs us more to get to work, it costs us more to buy our groceries, and that’s money that we don’t have right now, do we? Certainly not now, thanks to Wall Street and “Too Big To Fail”. So we are all going to suffer even more because of the price at the pump, even if we do the smart thing and cut down on driving (which, by the way, we really don’t).

Then we hear about the supposed “solution”. There’s a bill, or a program, or a pipeline, or a trade agreement that’s being held up in Washington by a bunch of mealy-mouthed bureaucrats. Maybe there’s a warlord that needs to be ousted from office. Maybe there’s a terror cell that needs to be exterminated. Some “bureaucrat” is not letting things get done, and because of that, we are all suffering at the gas pump.

So we’re told that “salvation” will come when we can get this bill passed, or this program implemented, or this pipeline approved, or this trade agreement ratified. We need to get the “green-light” to bomb the warlord and break up the terror cell. Anything that we can do to help out Big Oil, we need to do it, and we need to do it right this very minute, because if we don’t then our misery will only “get worse”.

We then go ahead and call our congressmen and senators, we hassle the “bureaucrats”, we call up the White House and demand that “action” be taken. And all the while, we ignore the little disclaimer that is coming out about this action; the disclaimer that says that any action that is taken today won’t really help us tomorrow. We don’t want to hear that disclaimer, because we’re only listening the dings of the gas pump as they siphon more and more money out of our pockets, and the continual drum beat sponsored by Big Oil telling us that our collective suffering is all the fault of some “bureaucrat”.

You can probably figure out what happens next. The bill gets passed, the program gets implemented, the pipeline is approved, the trade agreement is ratified, the warlord is bombed, and the terror cell is destroyed. The politicians and their good buddies in the media and Big Oil all thank us for our diligence and our persistence in overcoming the obstruction of the bureaucrats.

But does the price at the pump go down? No. Not in the least. In fact, if anything, it may even go up. Because we all find out that it wasn’t really the bill or the program or the pipeline or the trade agreement or the warlord or even the terror cell that were behind the price spikes. Sure, that much-touted “solution” may help us all out eventually… but not today and probably not even tomorrow. Weren’t you paying attention to the disclaimer?

And as with every other time this game is played, the price at the pump does eventually go down… in time for the Holidays, when we are expected to spend more gas driving to the stores for midnight sales, and to relatives on the other side of the country. Then, come the spring, we play this game all over again.

Let’s get brutally honest here… we are all the victims of this ugly, pervasive, and systematic con job being perpetrated by politicians, corporate executives, lobbyists, and the paid whores of the corporate media. This game is played on us year after year after year, and with the exception of the October Crash of 2008 and the aftermath that followed, we have been willing dupes to its deception.

This is emotional blackmail for the sake of political and corporate gain. Rather than addressing and attacking the real sources of our misery, we are offered some placebo “remedy” complete with a willing patsy as our Goldstein-style enemy. We are told that this remedy is our solution, only to discover after the fact that it really was just a diversion.

And we are playing this game right now.

For 2012, the placebo “solution” is a pipeline deal. A pipeline cutting through from Canada to Louisiana that would supposedly guarantee hundreds of thousands of jobs and provide cheap oil. But some bureaucrat in the State Department is supposedly holding this up. “Pass it now,” we are being told, “or else that oil will go to China! Your misery at the pump is because that pipeline is being held up! Get it passed and the price will go down!”

In previous years, though, we were told a different story. Last year it was supposedly because of “Arab unrest” during the Arab Spring uprisings. Previously, we were told that it was the fault of oil being pumped from Cuba. Or it was because we couldn’t look for oil in some protected stretch of Arctic tundra. Remember the Alaskan Pipeline? Guess where that oil is ending up? (Here’s a hint: it’s not in American gas pumps.)

In 2003 we actually went to war in Iraq on the promise that getting rid of Saddam Hussein would, among other things, give us lower prices at the pump. Remember that? Yeah, that was the time when a Bush President actually admitted that it would be about “blood for oil”.

How about the great con-job of 2005? Remember that one? I do. It was the summer just before Hurricane Katrina. Gas prices were still going up and up and up with no end in sight. George W. Bush, the GOP’s lord and savior, said that our economic “salvation” rested with an Energy Policy bill that Vice-President Dick Cheney personally worked on but was being “held up” in the Senate. “Get that to his desk,” he told the American people, “and that will help us out with the high gas prices.”

I’m sure nobody – except for myself – found it somewhat strange that the White House would have trouble getting anything past both houses of Congress under same-party control, but the masses spoke out, and the bill was passed, and Bush Junior signed it, and as he signed it, he casually dropped the other shoe on us. No, the Energy Policy won’t lower gas prices, either then or in the immediate future. In fact it would take ten or fifteen years before we could see any kind of results. But, thanks for getting it to his desk so he could have his grandiose signing ceremony.

You know what? I’ll bet you that if we called out the politicians and the lobbyists and the members of the media back in 2005 and bitch-slapped each of them for their duplicity, we would not be hearing the same con game being played on us today.

There have been only two times when the price of gasoline sank with the same speed as it previously rose. The first was right after the ground offensive started in the Gulf War, when the so-called “mother of all battles” was about as one-sided as a tug-of-war against Mount Rushmore. The second time was in October of 2008, when Wall Street was on the verge of collapse. If you want those gas prices to go down, you may want to start looking there for immediate relief.

There are real solutions to our collective economic pain. The sooner we enact them, the sooner our own relief will come. The problem is that those solutions do not benefit the people behind our misery at the gas pump. They would rather see you in poverty and in misery than to give up one percentage point in profit or one iota of power. It is high time that we stop listening to these quacks and their manipulative snake oil “solutions” and start listening to that second opinion… the one that actually makes sense.

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