Monthly Archives: July 2009

The peasants are(n’t) revolting.

  I was thinking, the other day, that it is odd that more people are not in revolt about the great theft of their personal earnings presently going on via the various bailouts.  How bills are passed that, while wordy and convoluted, are nevertheless clear in their intent to serve big businesses and not humans, once one shuffles through the legalese; in fact, quite a few bills passed through Congress now serve no purpose other than taking the  money or the property or the very health of Americans (see climate change bill with its bowing to the laughable idea of clean coal)  and handing these over to corporations or the already wealthy.   How people seem to want something done about health care, but seem incurious as to how it is handled in other countries and don’t demand that Congress offer some real insight into the systems utilized elsewhere and explain to us why those plans won’t work here.  (Just calling it “scary socialized medicine” does not count as research.  I’m sure many Congressmen have assistants and aides who could do this research.) Now Congress is talking about paying for health care reform by taking away some of the benefits of Medicare and charity hospitals; i.e., the people who already cannot afford private insurance at all will have to forgo some of the care they are currently offered on Medicare and Medicaid.   Follow this for a second.  The health insurance companies don’t want a public option/Medicare-for-all plan because everyone would go for it (duh) and they would, rightfully, be out of business.  So now the idea, which Congress is batting around in order to cave in thoroughly to the insurance lobby while pretending not to, is to so gut Medicare that no-one would willingly choose it.  Presto-chango, Congress can say they are offering a public option, while actually guaranteeing everyone will have to pick a private company.  The Medicare deduction on your paycheck will be spent to hire a government employee who will help you pick out a for-profit plan from a corporate insurance company.  It isn’t health care or health care reform, it’s just forced health insurance with the only alternative offered being a government plan that covers practically nothing.  Your Medicare deduction will go to subsidies for private insurers rather than the purpose for which it was designed – to give health care to humans who are in need of it and can’t afford it any other way, or to older people who have paid into the system all their working lives.   It’s kind of like the way we gave money to the banks, who stole our 401k’s and IRA’s in the first place, so that they could lend our own money back to us at whatever interest rate they choose.  Or not; they presently are using the money to buy other banks, bail out European banks and pay themselves huge salaries, which they hide in offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes themselves, and once this load of cash is gone, they’ll be back for more.  Which they may lend back to us, or not, depending on how stupid we prove to be this go-round.

Anyway, I decided to refresh my memory on the French Revolution; how did they get it together to form their revolt?   The French people had arisen, en masse, and changed the course of their country and, indeed, of history,  in 1789.  But my memory was fuzzy on some of the details  ( it was mostly a financial crisis, and the fact that the poor were being exploited at the hands of the rich, and, very specifically, that the king had dismissed the finance minister who would have helped balance things out, replacing him with a fellow who was part of the ruling elite.  Does this sound familiar?)

I read this on wikipedia’s page on the French revolution;

“By this time, Necker had earned the enmity of many members of the French court for his support and guidance to the Third Estate. Marie Antoinette, the King’s younger brother the Comte d’Artois, and other conservative members of the King’s privy council urged him to dismiss Necker from his role as King’s financial advisor. On 11 July 1789, after Necker suggested that the royal family live according to a budget to conserve funds, the King fired him, and completely reconstructed the finance ministry at the same time.

“Many Parisians presumed Louis’s actions to be the start of a royal coup by the conservatives and began open rebellion when they heard the news the next day. They were also afraid that arriving soldiers – mostly foreigners under French service rather than native French troops – had been summoned to shut down the National Constituent Assembly. The Assembly, meeting at Versailles, went into nonstop session to prevent eviction from their meeting place once again. Paris was soon consumed with riots, chaos, and widespread looting. The mobs soon had the support of the French Guard, including arms and trained soldiers, and the royal leadership essentially abandoned the city.” [wikipedia: The French Revolution]

Now read again the phrase, “…when they heard the news the next day…”

Think about this.  The people were following intently the politics of their day, aware that the politicians and the wealthy in their country were ruining them.  This is in 1789.  The printing press was invented in 1440, but prior to 1800 was very limited in its ability to “mass-produce” printed material.  There was, of course, no television, no radio, no telephone, certainly no computer or internet.  The peasant and working classes were avid for political news, but how did they GET the news?  Perhaps a few pamphlets were printed off, but it would have been a slow process which, at that time, would produce perhaps 100 pages per hour.   They must have simply talked to one another, spreading the news through word of mouth, neighbor to neighbor; and they didn’t like the news they heard – they stormed the Bastille and brought down the rulers.

So I wonder why exactly, WE, with our amazing system of communication via the internet cannot act to prevent our ruling elite from stealing everything from us?  It cannot be that we don’t know what they are doing – there is no lack of articles or blogs or on-line newspapers that reveal the truth every single day. Lots of people read these; even a cursory glance at the “comments” sections of any given article shows that there is traffic.  I think perhaps the internet itself, ironically,  has become almost a sort of reverse activism machine where although we can interact on-line with others, we are using that to replace real-life activity.  The act of logging on, reading an article, and leaving a comment makes us feel like we have DONE something.  Sometimes just keeping up with the news takes as much time as actually driving to a protest and doing the protesting.  The leaders we have can safely ignore the internet as long as this apathy remains in place.

If we use the internet to contact our Congressmen, write our local papers, or plan actual real-life protests, we can go back to using it as a tool, rather than as an excuse.  Of course, it’s ironic that I’m using the internet to say all this, but if it gets some people to seek out truly activist websites, write Congress, participate, and join in the fray, I don’t mind.