Yeah, I know the right-wing says the same thing, but . . . (1) they have the same puppeteers as we do, as we’ll show, and (2) they think Obama was a socialist, so . . .
I need to start with television and my generation, the so-called baby boomers, born roughly between 1945 and 1955. We were the first generation to spent a fair chunk of our formative years under the influence of television — the most effective propaganda technology in history. I was born in 1951, and we got our first TV when I was three, a boxy monochromatic thing well in advance of color TV.
Since then, every generation has been raised with these things, which have contributed substantially to our isolation in tract houses and apartments, determined which stories we were formed by, told us what the world was about, and generally acted as a kind of window on the world that you can operate from a recliner or a couch.
As creatures, television has mutilated us intellectually. By the time a person goes to college (if s/he should be that fortunate), the first step in expanding that student’s processes of intellection is to overcome all the shit that has been stuffed into our heads by television. It is a powerful agent of social conformity that has always operated on behalf of the ruling class.
We are going to talk about that here, because you never hear the term “ruling class” on television.
In 2016, Pew Research showed that 57% of Americans get their news from television. Within that number, around half watch local news, and a third watch network news, and another third watches cable channels, some a combination. There’s an age difference. Eighty-five percent of the over-65’s like me use TV for our window on the world. Seventy-two percent for over-50. The 30–49 demographic watches at a rate of 45%, and of the 18–29 crew only one in four watches TV for news. Only one out of ten Americans now relies mainly on print media, and there’s a further age breakout on “watching” (TV or other) or “reading” news (print or electronic).
Television news, network or cable, is both owned and sponsored. Obvious, yeah, but a fact that can fade into the background as we fall under the hypnotic spell of the “electronic hallucination.”
Let’s focus on that — owned and sponsored — instead of using impressionistic ideological frames like liberal or conservative. If we rely on the latter, we have already fallen into a trap; because these terms and how they are interpreted are actually products of our own indoctrination by television. Let’s look, then, at the Big Three cable networks, Fox, CNN, and MSNBC.
Fox is owned by Fox News Group, which is in turn owned by Fox Networks Group, which began as right-wing billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s corporation, until it was bought out by Disney, which owns National Geographic channels, Disney channels, FX and several others which include networks around the world.
Before we begin unpacking the rest, I should remind readers that the stockholders do not care what you watch, as long as you watch something among the menu of choices. The ideology of Fox News is engineered to get the attention and loyalty of a demographic which is targeted then with ads from sponsors, even as it is steered ideologically in the (often tactical) interests of the owning class. The same owning class owns and runs CNN and MSNBC. The owners, collectively, are interested in two things: making shit tons of money, and ensuring a political climate that allows them to continue making shit tons of money. So they want to sell things to you — which they do by pandering to your prejudices — and indoctrinate those who watch against ideas and actions that threaten the framework or the exposure of the processes of capital accumulation by the ruling class.
CNN is owned by Time-Warner, itself harkening to a merger between AT&T, Time, and Warner Brothers that would go on to buy out Turner networks. MSNBC is owned by Comcast. MS refers to Bill Gates’ Microsoft empire and the NBC network, and that merger was catfished by Comcast, which is a subsidiary of General Electric. Yup, you heard that right. GE, the 14th largest defense contractor in the US. (Remember this, when we talk about MSNBC’s carnal embrace of the security state.)
Six transnational corporations now control 90% of what we see on television: GE (Comcast, NBC, Universal Pictures, Focus Features), News-Corp (Wall Street Journal, NY Post), Disney (ABC, Fox, ESPN, Pixar, Miramax, Marvel Studios), Viacom (MTV, Nick Jr., BET, CMT, Paramount Pictures), Time-Warner (CNN, HBO, Time, Warner Brothers), and CBS (Showtime, Smithsonian Channel, NFLcom, Jeopardy, 60 Minutes). 235 corporate executives determine what is and is not news for 277,000,000 Americans.
This article is about MSNBC, so let’s zero in now on Comcast. Who or what owns the lion’s share of Comcast stocks? The answer in a nutshell is “Wall Street.” (see the APPENDIX for a short deconstruction of “Wall Street”) “Wall Street” is shorthand for the dominant American class of rentier capitalists — people who make money without actually producing anything . . . the same institution that lends to the builders of a house makes another loan to the buyers, and if the buyers go underwater, the financial institutions gets the house to sell to the next mortgage holder. The same folks who brought you the 2007–8 financial collapse and who were rewarded for that with trillions of dollars (an indication of the stranglehold they have on the US state).
COMCAST Top Institutional Shareholders (data taken from Nasdaq, Investopedia, and Stockzoa)
Numbers are current as of March 2019 — number of shares [column 1] Mar 19 valuations [column 2].
Vanguard. 383.70M… $15.34B
BlackRock. 316.53M… $12.65B
State Street Corporation. 171.71M… $6.86B
Massachusetts Financial Services Co. $140.66M… $5.62B
Dodge & Cox. 126.66M… $5.06B
Wellington Management Company. $123.00M… $4.92B
Capital Research and Management Company. 118.34M… $4.73B
Capital World Investors. $83.49M… $3.34B
JPMorgan Chase & Co. $66.07M… $2.65B
Geode Capital Management. 64.13M… $2.56B
Inves. $59.60M… $2.38B
Northern Trust. $53.86M… $2.15B
Bank of America Corporation. $52.69M… $2.11B
Bank of New York Mellon. $49.72M… $1.99B
T. Rowe Price Associates. $49.24M… $1.97B
UBS Group AG. $38.88M… $1.52B
Ameriprise Financial. $37.11M… $1.48B
Barrow, Hanley, Mewhinney & Strauss. $36.45M… $1.46B
First Eagle Investment Management. $34.63M… $1.38B
Robeco Investment Management. $34.30M… $1.37B
Eagle Capital Management. $33.05M… $1.32B
Alliancebernstein. $32.93M… $1.32B
Wells Fargo & Company. $32.44M… $1.30B
Franklin Resources. $31.10M… $1.24B
Legal & General. $27.21M… $1.09B
TIAA-CREF Investment Management. $26.52M… $1.06B
Goldman Sachs. $26.09M… $1.04B
Morgan Stanley. $25.27M… $842.26M
UBS Global Asset Management Americas. $24.01M… $959.94M
Harris Associates L.P. $23.96M… $957.99M
Charles Schwab Investment Management. $21.72M… $868.18M
Veritas Asset Management. $19.65M… $785.55M
Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. $19.07M… $762.26M
Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings. $18.13M… $766.69M
Nordea Investment Management Ab. $17.27M… $690.65M
Bank Of Montreal. $16.84M… $673.42M
Swiss National Bank. $15.82M… $632.52M
Neuberger Berman. $14.90M… $596.04M
Manufacturers Life Insurance Company. $14.79M… $591.44M
Allianz Asset Management AG. $14.33M… $573.50M
Chances are pretty good that you personally owe money to one or more of these entities, as well as Comcast. This really doesn’t give the big picture, yet, though. Let’s look at the top institutional shareholders for numero uno, Vanguard Group.
Oh my! Microsoft, Apple, Johnson & Johnson, Facebook, ExxonMobil, and JPMorgan. Well who is the top stockholder with Microsoft? Vanguard! Same top stockholder as for Comcast . . . wait, what? This is going in circles! It’s just the same characters circulating through the stratosphere of high finance, picking up the money that falls like rain.
It’s a club, everybody. An exclusive club. You’re not in it, and you never will be.
Here’s what you are to them: sheep. You can be shorn or butchered, but either way they’re gonna get paid. They herd us like docile quadrupeds through entertainment that looks like advertising and advertising that looks like entertainment, reproducing a worldview designed to soothe us into calm passivity. They consolidate those impressions with “news,” carefully filtered or manufactured to ensure you remain passive in everything except buying — where they, again, get paid. (They always get paid.)
Who are the top spending advertisers on TV? Disney (10), L’Oreal (9), Fiat-Chrysler (8), American Express (7), Ford (6), Verizon (5), Comcast (4), General Motors (3), AT&T (2), and Proctor & Gamble (WINNER!).
Top five institutional shareholders for Proctor & Gamble: Vanguard (13.54%), Blackrock (10.44%), State Street Corp (7.26%), Trian Fund Management (2.32%), Geode Capital Management (2.23%). The top three institutional shareholders for MSNBC are . . . drum roll . . . Vanguard, Blackrock, and State Street Corp. Let’s try number two, General Motors: Capital World Investors, Vanguard, and Blackrock. I hope we’ve included enough to stop bean-counting now to convince readers of the incestuous character of high finance.
The leading TV advertisers overall are insurance and telecommunications. The top ten spenders include Geico (1), Progressive (3), T-Mobile (4) State Farm (5), Samsung (8), Sprint (9), and Liberty Mutual (10).
Top 10 Brands advertised on MSNBC (Q1 through Feb. 24, 2018): Smile Direct Club $640K, Jeep $540K, Proactiv $379K, Otezla $318K, Office Depot $288K, Cadillac $287K, Trivago $269K, Sleep Number $263K, Humira $261K, Omaha Steaks $244K. Bear in mind that companies held in common get price breaks, so you may see Disney stuff advertised on Fox or Universal Pictures on MSNBC, not realizing that these are parts of the same conglomerations. Vanguard and Blackrock are advertising themselves through themselves.
Ads are further “targeted” to demographics, based on which demographics are dominant for each program. Nonetheless, in analyzing Sean Hannity, Rachel Maddow, and Anderson Cooper for 2018, researchers with AdWeek found that all three had top-ten advertisers for the same then-new drug (Big Pharma), Otezla. Otezla is marketed by Celgene, a pharmaceutical company, for which the top institutional shareholders are . . . another drum roll . . . Vanguard, Blackrock, and State Street.
The point we are sneaking up on here is that the shallow perception that MSNBC is the “voice of liberal common sense” is a manufactured and managed perception, created by people like Vanguard and Blackrock to get more money.
Here is what you will not hear on MSNBC. You will not hear “experts” who criticize insurance or pharmaceutical companies; and you will not hear experts who criticize Wall Street. Remembering, of course, that Wall Street owns the insurance and pharmaceutical companies. You will not hear criticism of our demented war budget; but GE does let war materiel competitors like Northrup-Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing take out pricey ads on their networks. Stories that lead watchers to criticize any of these entities are likewise spiked.
Lockheed-Martin: top five institutional shareholders — Bank of America (5), Blackrock (4), Vanguard (3), Capital World Investors (2), and State Street (1). Boeing, top six: Capital World (6), State Street (5), Newport Trust (4), T. Rowe Price (3), Blackrock (2), Vanguard (1). Northrup-Grumman, top six: Capital World (6), T. Rowe Price (5), Blackrock (4), Capital International (3), Vanguard (2), and State Street (1). Damn!
Now, as to what happened in 2016, that winnowing of a restless electorate into right and left poles in response to eight years of post-2008 stagnation and insecurity was precipitated by the same people who own and run Vanguard, which has, by the way, $5.3 trillion in assets. Only two countries in the world can match Vanguard’s asset values — China and the US. Vanguard’s assets outstrip the annual GDPs of Japan, Germany, or the UK, which are $4.972 T, $4 T, and $2.829 T respectively.
With billions in investments in insurance and pharmaceuticals, for example, would Vanguard let one of its media outlets air anything positive about a political candidate who promotes a single-payer health care plan that would threaten the profit margins of insurance and pharmaceutical companies? The plain answer is not only no, but Vanguard and others will be putting tremendous pressure on their outlets to wage a sustained campaign — direct and indirect — at derailing that candidate and bewildering the public about what a single-payer system is and would do. What it would do, by the by, is strengthen the 99% in the face of the 1%, which is also a big motivator for Vanguard, et al, because our dependency is an asset for the rich . . . the more we need money we don’t have, the cheaper we’ll work to get the money . . . making us the ultimate commodity — a docile workforce that works obediently to create value they can expropriate, and who consumes obediently — especially with credit, which lets them fleece you with debt — so they can reap a royalty off that, too.
The net worth of Anderson Cooper is $100 million. The net worth of Katie Couric is $75 million. Matt Lauer is worth $60 million. Brian Williams is worth $40 million. Shepard Smith, $25 M. Charlie Rose, $20 M. Gayle King, $20 M. Brett Baier, $16 million. Chris Wallace, $16 M. Wolf Blitzer, $16 M. Scott Pelley, $16 M. Megyn Kelley, $15 M. Lester Holt, $12 M. These are just anchors.
MSNBC: Rachel Maddow has $20 million in net worth. Chris Matthews, $20 million. Greta Ann Susteren, $35 million. Joe Scarborough, $16 million. Tamron Hall, $5 million. Andrea Mitchell claims a net worth of $5 million, but her husband, Alan Greenspan, former Chair of the Federal Reserve (the US central bank) quite possibly the most powerful political figure in the US for decades — and an Ayn Rand conservative whose policies led directly every asset bubble and subsequent crash we’ve experienced since Reagan — has $20 million more. So it goes.
Speaking of that wretched fake philosopher Ayn Rand, there is an ideological component to all this, as well, which is where we return in earnest now to MSNBC, which has been called MSDNC for its slavish devotion to preserving the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party from the social democratic insurgency launched by the Sanders campaign — to which MSNBC has been openly and persistently hostile.
Prior to the 2016 tectonic shift that made Sanders a credible challenger to Clinton and that put Trump in the White House, MSNBC included marginally progressive anchors and “experts” to attack Republicans. That was when they saw Republicans represented by Bush II as a political rescue from the leftward tilt that could stand in between that left-shift and the bad-business chaos of Trump proto-fascism.
MSNBC had already dropped any criticism of Bush-Cheney militarism once Obama basically rubber-stamped the lucrative war economy by keeping and even expanding the Bush-Cheney military adventures abroad. Obama, with Secretary Clinton a the helm of foreign policy, even facilitated a coup d’etat against the democratically-elected Honduran government in 2009 on behalf of AT&T and others, a crime about which MSNBC said next to nothing . . . and calling it a “constitutional crisis” when they were obliged to mention it at all.
After Trump, who MSNBC had given massive air time on behalf of the DNC, which saw Trump as the most easily defeatable candidate (oops!) — yes, they did want that — the DNC/MSNBC nexus looked at the polarizing electorate. What they saw alarmed them, because it alarmed Vanguard and Blackrock and State Street.
A narcissistic manchild from their own class has ascended into the world’s biggest playroom and started knocking over furniture, breaking the china, and shitting on the floor with his tantrums. Bad, but there were good things that could come of it. Deregulation by executive order became the means for temporarily boosting profit figures (which MSNBC and the rest readily conflated with economic “health,” giving the Mango Mussolini “his due”), and capital wants to run as far as they can with him before he melts down and the Republican Party completes its slow disintegration.
The alternative was to be the former status quo, and — because their analyses had been so completely crossed up — they decided to double down on those same failed analyses by rejiggering the Democratic Party as something akin to Bush Republicans.
The idea is to reconsolidate the Democratic “center” somewhere between Bush and Obama (not a lot of room there, actually), capturing the refugees from Trump’s fascistic cult that had taken over the minds and bodies of 40% of the active electorate based on a dual appeal to misogynistic “tough-guy” masculinity and white supremacy. Those Republican refugees included much of the former Bush II crowd. MSNBC now regularly features Bill Kristol, a thoroughly evil man who bears major responsibility for the bloody 2003 invasion of Iraq and one of the intellectual godfathers of the neoconservative agenda taken up by the Bush-Cheney White House.
Nichole Wallace, the regular and manically pestiferous host of Deadline: White House on MSNBC was George W. Bush’s White House Communications Director, a fact she reminds viewers of at every opportunity to reaffirm her “insider” status. Wallace nearly always takes a “security state” perspective, even in attacking Trump — which has given MSNBC a “national security” angle by defending historically malignant agencies like the FBI, the CIA, and others, from the tantrums of the very manchild they helped put into office.
Enter . . . the Russia narrative, for which MSNBC can take a good deal of the credit. The whole thing began with the release by Wikileaks of a trove of damning emails from the DNC showing how they connived and cheated on behalf of the pre-coronate Hillary Clinton.
To shift the discussion away from the content of those emails — which was fairly explosive — they feigned outrage at “Russian interference,” which — fueled by our collective and justifiable fear of a Trump presidency — grew legs that then walked the Democratic party right back into another political swamp, where Trump could urinate on them from his billionaire duck blind.
Rachel Maddow made a sub-career out of her sustained, hyperventilating, and obsessive coverage of the “Russia story,” which collapsed into “obstruction” after the Mueller findings were published. (Yes. There was obstruction, but again that’s not the point.) Ratings agencies estimate she lost half a million viewers when Mueller delivered his barren little report. His semi-stoned Congressional performance has only made matters worse as the Democratic establishment keeps digging, digging, digging itself further down into what Republican fascists consider a deliciously witless hole.
Neither MSNBC nor Maddow ever called out Wall Street for its influence of elections. In 2016, Wall Street contributed $184 million to candidates and parties. But that would be calling out their parents.
Maddow is emblematic, in many ways, of the MSNBC appeal. Fashionably liberal actors who can portray themselves as speaking directly to you (they are speaking into a dead lens as they manage their expressions), “hip” in that snotty, clueless, coke-enhanced Dupont Circle way that says screw off the tops of your heads and let us pour in our deep, pragmatic, bourgeois, technocratic wisdom. We know “the game.”
Here’s a link while you rest your head for a bit, called Comcast Cares Day, reported as a new story, starring Vanguard’s Manic Pixie Dream Girl, Michelle Wallace, and co-starring the infinitely slippery Al Sharpton, who Black Agenda Report’s Glen Ford calls the “black misleadership’s King Rat.”
It’s very difficult to choose which program on MSNBC is the best at insulting the intelligence of viewers, but The Truth Squad is near the top of my list. If I had the franchise to supply hair products alone to that program, I could be a millioneah. It is not the freewheeling discussion it is made to appear — they are acting, remember — or there wouldn’t be such ready-at-hand clips to reinforce their main points. It’s the petit bourgeois version of reality TV . . . or theatrical wrestling.
I am not sure why, something in my childhood no doubt, but the person who sets my teeth on edge more than any other — and it is a long list — is that tool, Chuck Todd. Todd impressed MSNBC with his ability to natter on indefinitely about electoral horse racing, or politics as a great game.
“You know,” he said, “it’s like watching a game. You want to compare it to a game, it is like watching a game of people that don’t play the game very well. You’d stop watching the game because you’re like, “Those baseball players stink,” or, “Those football players, they don’t respect it.” If you have politicians that know how to practice the art of politics, the democracy gets stronger, the world gets safer. And then that’s when you realize politics is a good thing.”
Deep, dude. Not.
He is a defensive little fella, whining when people call him out on his partisan drivel, even when he is defending torture in a debate with Glenn Greenwald, or playing gotcha with Bernie Sanders, schmoozing with genocidal war criminal Henry Kissinger, signing paeans to warmonger John McCain, or stroking one of the Generals from his “experts” bench. He is perfect for MSNBC. Entitled, arrogant, conceited . . . and obedient to his Wall Street masters.
“You were doing a great job,” he cried to his co-host Andrea Mitchell on Meet the Press once, “asking them some of the questions the American public is asking. And that’s our job as political journalists. In many ways, we’re the go-between. Which is why people sometimes get angry at us — politicians get angry at us, the public gets angry at us — because they want us to be that interpreter. And my issue these days, when people say, ‘I hate politics,’ it’s like, ‘No. No, you don’t. What you hate is the politicians who don’t know how to practice it.’”
No Chuck, we hate the fucking practice.
Sorry to be short, Chuck, but if you were a journalist instead of an actor, you’d know that, because you’d actually try to hold them accountable instead of giving the worst of them your slow handjobs. Here’s my phone. Call 1–800-WaaWaaWaa.
Interspersed with his power love-fests and his unremitting hostility to the left, Chucky Boy covers the heavy stuff, like comparisons of Chick-fil-A and Starbucks.
I would say that Todd’s “love of the game” is what’s wrong with American politics, but that would be on par with Todd’s own studied superficiality. Todd is part of American politics as an ideological transmission belt between Vanguard, Blackrock, et al, and the public. His “love of the game” is precisely what they want to air to continue their bewilderment of the public they regard as their own sheep herd.
MSNBC loves the Pentagon . . . a lot. And why not.
MSNBC>>Comcast>>GE>>Vanguard>>Northrup Grumman loves the Pentagon. It’s a multi-trillion dollar cash cow. MSNBC, after its pro-war turn during Obama, and in it’s Sanders-panic after 2016, had retired General Barry McCaffrey on repeatedly, another popular MSNBC war criminal. But in 2016, they also began featuring Eric Prince, the miscreant reptile who engendered Blackwater, a transnational mercenary corporation with lucrative Pentagon contracts. Prince is already aptly named for the underworld as Satan’s spawn — a dangerous loon who is sibling to another dangerous loon — Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. McCaffrey, Prince, James Clapper, John Brennan . . . all regulars on MSNBC, and devoted militarists.
The MSNBC granddaddy anchor is Chris Matthews, a man whose white male privilege burns brightly with unfettered arrogance. He is a trusted confidante of the Clinton family (and formerly with Bill Clinton’s administration); and he is a neoliberal par excellence. Matthews is also an almost jingoistic booster for American exceptionalism. He spits and fumes and interrupts incessantly, in love with the sound of his own voice, running roughshod over his guests, framing his shout-downs and discourtesies as “Hardball,” which it is anything but. His program is a running apologetic for Wall Street and empire. When MSNBC host Phil Donahue criticized Bush’s lies to foment an illegal war in 2003, Chris Matthews was the first bigwig to demand that Donahue be fired. Gabriel Sherman, writing for New York magazine:
“Donahue’s problems only increased when Chris Matthews let it be known that he wanted Donahue off the air. Matthews was a rising force at the network, with a reported salary of $5 million. He cultivated former GE CEO Jack Welch and had the ear of NBC CEO Bob Wright. (The two summered together on Nantucket.) Matthews saw himself as MSNBC‘s biggest star, and he was upset that the network was pumping significant resources into Donahue’s show. In the fall of 2002, U.S. News & World Report ran a gossip item that had Matthews saying over lunch in Washington that if Donahue stays on the air, he could bring down the network.
“After the item was published, Matthews showed up at Donahue’s office and apologized. ‘He didn’t deny it,’ Donahue remembers. With the war looming, Sorenson and Griffin decided to take him off the air to make way for 24/7 war coverage.”
The last actual “progressive” (I hate that term, but we seem stuck with it) standing at MSNBC is Chris Hayes, a leftish-liberal who also moonlights with Nation magazine. When you run a propaganda operation aimed at everyone left of Trump, you can’t neglect the left wing altogether. They want to keep that demographic engaged and absorbing the datastream, reaping who they can from among the still-bewildered, and they also need a bit of plausible deniability about how they are participating in the attempted strangulation of anti-neoliberal Democrats.
That’s fine with me. This will be distributed using Medium and Facebook and Twitter, for example, and those of us who on the rebellion-inclined end of the spectrum have to use the spaces that are available, including the latitude we have on social media, for example, to press as far as we can. Capitalism is a system wherein the ruling class members are still at war with one another, when they aren’t uniting to prevent any real shift in power away from their class. We can take advantage of that . . . we are in Wall Street’s regime, not apart from it . . . but we can subvert it as tactically agile bricoleurs.
I want to revisit and expand upon what I said earlier about MSNBC and the single-payer issue now, because the main objective of Wall Street and the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party is to stop this particular initiative at all costs. We need some class struggle perspective here.
One of the biggest threats to the relative power of the ruling class is single-payer health care. I have been advocating for single-payer for twenty-three years; and the ruling class managed to keep it far out of public discussion for most of that period. The breakthrough came with the 2016 Sanders campaign’s single-payer advocacy, called Medicare For All (M4A). Cat got out of the bag, and this is a catastrophe for the ruling class, whose general profits depend upon the enormous fraction accruing from medical and insurance industries. Not only is M4A a threat to profits, it is a threat to ruling class power.
That power is a function of four simple sequential realities: (1) We all depend for our lives on a scarce phenomenon, i.e., money. (2) The rich have lots more money, which makes us dependent on them to get enough of that scarce buy necessary resource. (3) Our dependency corresponds to their relative power, and independence corresponds with our relative power. (4) If our dependency on money-in-hand decreases, our power increases and ruling class power decreases.
Health care spending is around $11,000 a year per person in the US. Over a thousand dollars a year per capita is out-of-pocket, so in a household of five, for example, between $6–7,000 a year is dropped. But this average is skewed, as all averages ultimately are, and millions of people, usually those who can least afford it, are spending a lot more than the average, or in deadlier fashion . . . little to none at all. Medical costs are the single biggest cause of American bankruptcies. Bankruptcy is a way to default on debt. Forty percent of American households are in debt due to medical costs. If my self-employed brother had had affordable health care, he’d be fishing in the Upper Peninsula with me next month instead of having his ashes on the ground there.
Who owns the debt? Wall Street.
Who owns the debts of the corporations profiting from that debt? Wall Street.
M4A would abolish the commodification of the delivery of health care. The dependency of the entire bottom 90% would be decreased, our relative power increased, giving us far more bargaining power in disputes over land, law, and labor. M4A would be the first shift of power back toward the US working class since before the Reagan era, and the biggest.
MSNBC (and CNN for slightly older audiences) is positioned now to be Wall Street’s first line of defense against M4A, because there are now several Democratic candidates lined up behind it, and because that the actual proposal is becoming clear, it is increasingly popular. Danger, Will Robinson! Danger, danger!
The response is predictable because it is nearly inevitable. Wall Street and its well-compensated lackeys, like MSNBC, will attack, misrepresent, and slander M4A. They will marginalize and minimize the exposure of pro-M4A candidates. And they will elevate fear on other issues to distract from the centrality of M4A in the struggle of the 90% to emancipate itself from the 1/10 of one percent (the 9.9% below them are the ruling class’s retainer class . . . people like Chris Matthews, Chuck Todd, or Ali Velshi and Stephanie Ruhle (the latter two were raised by Wall Street).
The politics of distraction . . . and fear. Always fear. Russia! Boo! Are you scared, yet? Iran! Boo! (the big one) Trump! Boo!
Fearlessness is revolutionary.
MSNBC is the most adept as spinning out the canniest prevarication of all with the fear of Trump, whose actual monstrosity makes their job easier. But the narrative that has taken over is “electability,” or “Who can defeat Trump?” A rhetorical question, for which they already have the answer. Anyone who is not supporting M4A . . . but that can’t be out in the open . . . okay, let’s try anyone who might be tarred as “socialist.” (Because Trump could beat us with it . . . be afraid, be afraid, be afraid . . . “Fear is your only God.”)
Well, shit, who could the “socialist” be? (Here is a disturbing little secret. Wall Street would rather have Trump than Sanders; and so would the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party, which answers to its master.)
In fact, every poll out there shows that several Democratic candidates can beat Trump, Sanders always among the top two.
This is where an ideological transmission belt like MSNBC is most invaluable to Wall Street: conforming public opinion to the needs of the ruling class.
Many will ask — insulated as we are in little houses with our big televisions — where can we get news on current events without TV? That’s easier nowadays, as we the rebellious are still managing to colonize the interstices of social media. Here is a list of some alternatives. Take that remote they gave you with your cable subscription, press the voice activator, and say “YouTube.” From there, you can surf the alternatives without even leaving the recliner.
APPENDIX — “Wall Street”
Wall Street — that is, the dominant faction of the American ruling class, is terrified of Bernie Sanders, not because he is Bernie Sanders (c’mon, an eccentric geriatric Senator from Vermont?), but because the Sanders campaign in 2016 and the current Sanders campaign, are a practical focal point for a general political restlessness that is casting its shadow over the whole world as an anti-austerity movement.
That restlessness turned to Sanders in opposition to Clinton, on the left pole, and to Trump’s opposition to Republican technocrats. Wall Street is terrified of the emergent movements that are fanning wind under the wings of politicians like Sanders and Corbyn, in part because our political center was already so far to the right of most of the world.
The right, of course, embodied by psychopaths like Trump and Bolsonaro, is going for full-blown, ethnocentric, male-dominant, authoritarian capitalism — Mussolini or Pinochet style (China is close, too).
Sanders and Corbyn are social democrats in the FDR tradition, updated for our own period, but threatening capital per se, because the capitalist class is already under tremendous stress from growth stagnation, which it is adjusting to by tightening the screws on the rest of us. Not just out of greed, but to survive — something many don’t understand . . . including social democrats like Bernie Sanders. Many Sandercrats — like myself — are further left than Bernie will ever go; and we see this movement as an incubator for sharper forms of resistance to Wall Street (read: capital).
Not to become overly arcane, but our economic system cannot long evade bone-shattering crises without maintaining somewhere in the range of three percent compound growth on average. That hasn’t been happening, and it can’t . . . not in the old way of upping the circulation of new goods for new profits. They’ve used up the biosphere (yes, there is an unthinkable catastrophe looming right now), and they’ve met the limits of people’s toleration of their rapacious power in land grabs and labor exploitation. Financialization, which is for you and me debt peonage, is a means of dispossessing us, taking away things we had (pensions, houses, social security, living wages) to keep that destructive growth going at three percent compounded. Again, Wall Street owns your debt.
If they think Sanders is scary, wait until they understand what many of us who are united now in a bloc for Sanders really want to do. Once we get M4A, we’ll be talking about nationalizing the banks and transforming them into a publicly-run utility. Sanders wants to tame Wall Street. We are of a mind to liquidate it. There may be a time during a Sanders presidency, when the movement that put President Sanders in office continues to aggressively push their political agenda well past Sanders’s social democracy, and a beleaguered Wall Street will swing support to Sanders (or his political offspring) as a last-ditch defense. Of course, by then, it will be too late.
We are coming.