Thursday, March 23, 2017

Monetized Nation

Yes, we've always been capitalists.  But capitalists who tried to outlaw corporations (the Founding Fathers) and capitalists who abolished the capitalist epitome that was chattel slavery and capitalists who alleviated its worst abominations with a social safety net.

Fuck, even as late as the 1970s, corporations acknowledged a responsibility to their customers and their communities - at least until the "share price uber alles" movement took over the nation.

Not any more. Now it's so bad the Ferengi aren't a satire of greed so much as a glimpse of tomorrow's world.

Slate's Jordan Weissmann writes:
Got that? Mulvaney says the White House is cutting Head Start to make sure it doesn't waste the taxes of single mothers in Detroit, because it's just that compassionate. Honestly, I would have more respect for the man if he'd stood up on stage with a stock pot and said the administration had decided that the poor should be boiled into bone broth. At least then he'd have the courage of his convictions.
"Proper function" is a most curious turn of phrase. In What is America for? a few weeks ago, I noted that caring for money has taken the place of caring for people in American governance. Mulvaney's response confirms that, as does Trump's choice of Goldman Sachs veterans for high positions in his administration (and Obama's before him). Serving money takes precedence over serving people — unless they have lots of money.

At Netroots-Detroit in 2014, Anat Shenker-Osorio spoke to the conceptual shift that makes not feeding hungry children and the elderly "compassionate." With schools, for example:
We've moved from this garden metaphor to the language of the factory, right? So we have inputs, and we have outputs and we ratchet up expectations, and the kid is a product of a good school.

The entailments of that metaphor are that children are like widgets, they're all uniform and why would the widgets need art? And the teachers are factory workers and they do a thing to the kids, and it's all the same and they're on a conveyor belt and they move to the next one after they've been tested and a stamp is put on their ass and they're... none are left behind.

This mechanistic language is so widespread, that we have now monetized children, right? We invest in the future and we invest in our kids, and they're too small to fail. And we can kid ourselves all we want, but the prevailing understanding of the investment frame is financial return. That is how it is used in language. And so we are saying, "The reason to do a thing, the reason it's right, is because it's lucrative"

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