January 16th, 2011 18:53 EST
Making Washington a Scapegoat for The Cost of Government is a Scam
The scapegoaters are the problem
The people, the ones who troubled to vote, have just sent an army of politicians who profess to hate big government to Washington and our state capitals "so what we need six months or a year or two years from now is a complete picture of the extent to which these people will be found feeding at the public trough.
Never mind their blather, their obstructionism, their conspiracy theories about Barack Obama and health care reform "just tell us how much money getting elected will have put in their pockets. But who will tell us? Who will tell us about all those expensive lunches on K Street where the lobbyists hang out buying our government? Who will follow the money trail?
Not the hometown press, not Fox News, not CNN, not MSNBC, and not The New York Times and The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times, not doggedly enough to show us how politicians put our money where their mouths are. And not only because we have a diminished regional and local press that has been corrupted by absentee bottom-liners, not only because we are abandoning print for the digital era, but because the same interests that corrupt our politics corrupt our press "and by the same means.
The mainstream media are obsessed with Washington, but they don`t tell us what we need to know, they don`t follow the money trail. Why? Because it`s easy and cheap to give us blabbermouth politics, but it`s costly to follow the money, to track down corruption in its lairs. And as for the local press that ought to be putting local government under the microscope every day, it is practically invisible. What`s left of it would rather dramatize the weather than tell us who is pocketing our tax money. And the problem with that is that it helps the lying politicians put the blame on Washington whereas most of them could have done something about controlling taxes and giving us honest government while they were still local officials. But having looted Main Street, which is sometimes hard work, they want to move on to K Street where all they have to do is go to lunch to get bribed.
When money is god, truth becomes what the moneylenders say it is.
This antigovernment posturing is a scam. We have the best federal civil service in the world. It works. Most state civil services work. What does not work is the very sector of public life where conservatives hold sway "local government which has again and again sold out to over-developers, predatory lenders, and has again and again raised property taxes to pay for its mistakes and venality.
Scapegoating Washington is a cheap, easy ploy. Jimmy Carter came to Washington doing it, and so did almost every president following him, with the possible exceptions of Jerry Ford and Barack Obama. Both sides of the aisle stink with this hypocrisy. Our government works. What does not work is elected officialdom, jockeying for position, taking bribes, corrupting the civil service, bending its statistics, distorting its reports, appointing unqualified politicos "this is what doesn`t work. The people scapegoating Washington don`t work, not for us. They work for the people who get paid big bucks to corrupt government. Tell me the last time you saw the mainstream media offering a close look at the way lobbying works on K Street. Why the silence? Because the money that buys the politicians also buys advertising the media. That`s our dilemma, and unless somebody invents integrity shots or bribery vaccine and we make politicians and media moguls take them we`re likely to keep on getting lies served up as politics. Indeed the word has almost become synonymous with mendacity. Who associates the word politics with the workings of public life? It is commonly associated with something far more cheapening.
We have no measure of the hypocrisy of our politicians because the press feeds at the same troughs. Thirty or forty years ago when a big advertiser like Coca Cola or your local General Motors dealer threatened to pull advertising if a newspaper didn`t change its editorial stance on some issue or another we had local families to stand up to such extortion because they believed in their communities, because they felt an obligation to do the right thing. It didn`t matter if they were Republican or Democrat "most of them were Republican "they had some integrity. Not always enough, and not consistently, but it was enough to assure us of a vigilant local press. Those days are over. Advertising trumps integrity every time in this free-market circus.
You can argue, cogently, that newspapers were healthier in those days. They were. There was no Internet to daunt them. But you can`t pin a loss of integrity on changing times. It`s not that kind of commodity. You either have it in bad times as well as good times or you don`t have it at all.
So who will tell us whose pockets are being lined and by whom? Who will follow the boring, labyrinthine trail? Most journalists are unqualified to do it. It really needs journalists trained in forensic accounting, not rant or he said/she said polarization. It needs very smart cookies. And beyond that, it needs publishers willing to spend the money and time to let them do the job.
Djelloul Marbrook is a retired newspaperman. His second book of poems, Brushstrokes and Glances, will be published by Deerbrook Editions on December 20, 2010. His first book of poems, Far From Algiers, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University in 2007 and was published in 2008. It won the International Book Award in 2010. His novella, Artemisia`s Wolf, will be published by Prakash Books of India in December. His novella, Saraceno, was recently published as an e-book. His story, Artists Hill, adapted from the second novel of an unpublished trilogy, won the Literal LattÃ© first prize in fiction in 2008. The pioneering e-book publisher, Online Originals (UK), published his novella, Alice MIller`s Room, in 1999.
Del`s book, Far From Algiers: http://upress.kent.edu/books/Marbrook_D.htm
New review of Far from Algiers: http://www.rattle.com/blog/2009/05/far-from-algiers-by-djelloul-marbrook/
Artists Hill, Literal LattÃ©`s fiction first prize: http://www.literal-latte.com/author/djelloulmarbrook/
His blog: http://www.djelloulmarbrook.com
His mother`s art: http://www.juanitaguccione.com
His aunt`s art: http://www.irenericepereira.com