The brilliant and colourful English Lit professor and occasional philosopher Marshall McLuhan presciently wrote, “Politics will eventually be replaced by imagery. The Politician will be only too happy to abdicate in favour of his image, because the image will be much more powerful than he could ever be.”
McLuhan passed away in December of 1980, yet he seems to have had the capacity to perceive so many vacuous celebrity politicians which today fill our electoral landscape – empty vessels which float to re-election on electoral carpets of wishful thinking and ignorance. With an uninquisitive media abstaining from accurate reporting, the misinformed public remains in the dark.
No-where is that ignorance of “imagery” politicians in more glorious display than on all matters economic. Politicians may not hold forth on brain surgery or Mars landings, but they certainly expound profusely on the economy and its forces. This week we were treated to a rather typical display of incomprehensible idiocy by none other than a Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee. Perhaps we should underline “Financial Services Committee.”
Congresswoman Maxine Waters made the following statement,“Yesterday we did have Mr. Bernanke in our committee and he came to tell us what he’s doing with quantitative easing and that is trying to stimulate the economy with the bond purchases that he’s been doing because he’s trying to keep the interest rates low and create jobs–and he said that if sequestration takes place, that’s going to be a great setback. We don’t need to be having something like sequestration that’s going to cause these jobs losses, over 170 million jobs that could be lost–and so he made it very clear he’s not opposed to cuts but cuts must be done over a long period of time and in a very planned way rather than this blunt cutting that will be done by sequestration. . . . . And so, we are here today, one more time, talking about women and children and families and how we can protect our women, children, and families and have a decent quality of life–sequestration will set us back. All of the gains that we have made will be lost with sequestration.”
So there you have it from very near the top of the Nation’s political hierarchy – a statement providing clear insight into the frightening lack of comprehension with which the country’s financial affairs are supervised. Let’s ignore the absurd claim, “170 million jobs that could be lost,” since there are only 141,614,000 jobs as of January 2013 in total – and well, anyone can make a mistake when making a supposedly critical statement to the Nation. No?
Of greater import is Waters’ description and characterization of Bernanke’s presentation to her Committee? Does she, or any other member of her Committee understand enough of what Bernanke is doing, or why? She states, “he came to tell us what he’s doing with quantitative easing and that is trying to stimulate the economy with the bond purchases that he’s been doing because he’s trying to keep the interest rates low and create jobs.” Huh? Does anyone ask her how her brain connects all those dots? That would be embarrassing, since the dots don’t connect. They don’t and they can’t. Did anyone on her committee ask Bernanke to connect those dots?
Her statement demonstrates that this “imagery” politician is lost and baffled by economic matters and realities, but she is evidently confident of achieving a successful outcome for herself through the spewing of unintelligible gibberish as long as it is followed by a comment about the sky falling on single women and children. Pretend to somehow be protecting single women and children, which is even better than championing motherhood and apple pies, and Walters succeeds in propping her own statue another day.
Waters is simply another fear-mongering politician ignorant of the fact that the Fiscal Cliff is only reducing some of the planned increases in discretionary spending. Almost nothing will be cut from mandatory entitlement programs – Social Security, and Medicare, or from debt interest payments. The Nation’s financial problems rests primarily on mandatory expenditures and their looming explosion. Should someone point that out?
With the quality of economic acuity we are subject to, as demonstrated by politicians of the Waters caliber, it is hardly surprising that nothing is being done to bring spending and debt under control. Nothing is being done to restrain the excessive growth of government. The complexity is too difficult for uninformed and uncreative minds of the “imagery” politicians to confront. It is so much easier to ignore a complicated reality, particularly when doing so might throw shadows on their ideology.
Let’s take another prod from Marshall McLuhan’s stimulative mind, in which he prophetically defined mindsets of the current leadership in Washington, “I wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t believed it.”
A constituent of the vast baby boomer generation with a career which has been fortunate to know the ponderous corporate worlds, as well as the intimately pressurized, and invigorating entrepreneurial domains of high tech and venture capital, I have harvested my share of mistakes meandering through corridors of enterprise from Silicon Valley, to London and endless, colourful, sometimes praetorian points in between. The voyage has provided an abundance of fodder for a pen yielding to an inquisitive keyboard, a foraging mind, and a passionate spirit.
Whether political or business or social or economic or personal, is it not all political? It is a privilege to write, and an even greater privilege to be read by anyone, and sometimes with the wind at my back the writing may occasionally be legible. I do not write to invite scorn, nor to invite respect, but if I get really lucky the writing can stimulate thinking. I also write for the very selfish purpose of animating my own processes, and engaging the best of what life offers. Above all, whether biting fire or swatting shadows, I am grateful to be gifted the freedom to write and publish whatever flows down to the keyboard. To all those who enabled this freedom, and to all those standing guard to preserve it, I am indebted.