Occasionally I watch a talk show hosted by Charles Peete Rose, Jr. Rose’s forum is where aspiring ruling elites go to tell other aspiring ruling elites what to think. What they discuss is uninteresting. Who says what how, when, and why is. Here are glimpses of the current balance of power between agendas, competing and complimentary, within the network of personal relationships that form the real org chart of government, society, and business.
While most viewers get caught up in tactical theatrics of interaction between Rose and guests, it’s the underlying shifts in the tectonic plates of power, for which Rose’s guests, the timing of their booking, and their chosen storyline for the evening are the seismometer, where real entertainment lies. The prevailing ideology of Rose’s guests is that soft tyranny of low visibility known as “libertarian paternalism”, where business savvy needed for successful modern rent seeking meets the aspirations of 1960s leftist social engineering. They rarely use outright coercion to advance their goals (at least not at the moment). They draw on cutting edge fields of social control like behavioral economics and prospect theory to create “sensible defaults”. You get the freedom to choose something other than the defaults but you have to make an effort to do so. The research that libertarian paternalism is based on suggests that most people will never make the effort. This is how “sensible” defaults become insensible realities.
The foremost examples of card carrying members of this clique are Bill and Melinda Gates. Their namesake nonprofit innovatively combines advancement of “progressive” social agendas with creation of new opportunities for private rent seeking, often buoyed by tax payer funds attracted by the bait of matching private funds from the world’s richest man. Rose is their sympathetic interlocutor, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is their court mustache, and fellow Times columnist David “Token” Brooks is the spayed in-house right wing. There is also a deep bench of media spokesmen, academics, and other apparatchiks that Rose can draw on when he needs dependable echo on demand services.
Periodically, Rose throws Zoology Night. Here, some curious off the beaten path moonbats (right or left), are brought is so Rose’s audience can watch the Other pace back and forth behind the cage bars from an antiseptic distance. Last night was Vintage Commie Night at the Zoo. Rose exhibited David Hardy, “Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York”, and Richard Wolff, “Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University in New York”.
The interview segment belongs to the same genre as episodes of the Star Trek franchise set in the Mirror Universe. In this alternative reality, good guys are evil, bad guys are good, and Vulcans have goatees. In this interview, there are goatees aplenty. Hardy and Wolff’s call and response evokes an alternative universe with novel and distinctive features:
- Americans who are too quick to blame political power when it’s the economic power, stupid
- a fifty year conspiracy of silence to keep Americans from discussing “alternative” economic and social systems
- American universities are hot beds of censorship for discussions of alternative economic and social models and oppression by economics faculties
- American university faculties never assign readings from Marx, especially readings from the “late” Marx when that coffee house revolutionary reached peak enlightenment, because a zombie Joe McCarthy will rise from the grave and eat their brains
- cities are living billboards of capitalism induced economic inequality
- Americans aren’t Basque enough
- Cuba has economic and political problems, true, but it has infant mortality statistics better than people living next door to Johns Hopkins University
- the reason Cuba (despite world class education, non-infant mortality, and health care) has failed to reach an ideal alternative social or economic model: too little love, too much beard
- Occupy* is a coherent movement of idealistic young people motivated by love who are the first people in fifty years who are unafraid of the zombie Joe McCarthy’s brain eating oppression
- space in American cities have been privatized, leaving no space for the People to Assemble and exercise People Power
- American cities (and capitalist infested urban areas all over the world) are increasingly militarized (and not to stop McCarthyite zombie attacks)
- rent-a-movement tea party demonstrations have never been subjected to police oppression since they are wholly owned subsidiaries of the capitalists
- captains of industry in crisis become the biggest cheerleaders for government intervention
- real men don’t do welfare states. real men want to live in revolutionary alternative societies where resources are used righteously to keep grandma from being eaten by wolves
- love and good intentions are enough to drive the distribution of power throughout society
- why did communism fail: not enough love and good intentions
Rose does a heroic job trying to get his exhibits to provide real-life examples of alternative models they would endorse. Examples like those might be useful for Rose’s audience to form rent-seeking business plans around. However, his two specimens remain elusive with real life love-based societies, possibly due to a well-placed fear of sudden Joe McCarthy attacks, brain eating, and the resulting loss of tenure.
Comedy, on a Friday night.