Money Jungle: Demolition Men

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Election 2010: Is this Where Florida Ends?

Folio is published every Tuesday, but it’s unclear how many of you actually read it that day. If the office has ever done any research into the subject, I have no idea; it’s possible, since they’re pretty good at understanding their audience (other than the whole “Steven Humphrey is worth more than Money Jungle” calculation, which really does nothing to dispel the stereotype of Floridians as being terrible at math). Certainly, many readers are not able to pick one up on Tuesday; some hold off until the weekend.

I only mention this because this Tuesday, August 24, is the day for primaries in the statewide elections that will ultimately be settled on November 2. No need to preview the race, since most of you will have already voted by now. Obviously, this is the most important cycle for local elections in many, many years, and the results are all but guaranteed to be catastrophic for Northeast Florida, and the state in general. We are about to take major steps backwards in terms of the competence of our elected officials, and in the overall desirability of life in Florida.

While the election of Barack Obama was awesome for the country, it seems now clear that his administration kinda sucks, and that our hopes of dramatic positive changes were naïve pipe-dreams, invested in someone who basically represents the interests of the most corrupt and dangerous elements of Wall Street and Washington. Chicago Flash and his loyal team of Clinton-betrayers have been such a disaster that an unspeakable outside possibility has now been raised: that the likely loss of his congressional majority may be followed by the loss of his job in two years.

The problem, in my opinion, is that many Americans, who sometimes coalesce under the Tea Party banner, still believe that it’s possible to kill our way out of this. If we can just start another war, the theory goes, or cut even deeper into services for children, old people and the poor, the old America will come right back, like the shining silver that emerges after a good polishing. By this analogy, the polish is spewing from the mouth of Glenn Beck, and being rubbed in by Sarah Palin on the campaign trail.

The right loves their “free market”—the idea that, if corporations are given godlike authority its workers and consumers, altruism and civic responsibility will trump the profit motive. Well, ask a Gulf fisherman about that, if you can find one. Having had the central theme of their ideology repudiated by those very markets, the right has found itself a new baby: Austerity. The Republicans of 2010 are running on one promise: to lower taxes for the rich, which is fair enough, but also to put the screws to the underclass like nothing this country has ever seen. Deregulated banks have pissed away the life’s savings of millions, and the only thing that appears to have been manifested by health care “reform” is the Manchurian Candidacy of Rick Scott.

It’s really depressing to think about—a truly hopeless situation. If Jeff Greene beats Kendrick Meek, thereby making Charlie Crist the hold-your-nose choice for US Senate, and Rick Scott beats Bill McCollum for the right to stomp Alex Sink for Governor, you can basically close the door on Florida for the next decade. Being a political junkie myself, I’ve been looking at the 2010 elections across the board, and unfortunately I can report that Florida is leading the nation in collective myopia, willful self-destruction and craven capitulation to the wave of Trojan Horse candidates that is flooding this country like a busted sewer line. But at least you can grow plants with sewage; the only things these guys can grow are gravestones.

Here in Jacksonville, which has already paid a terrible price for not taking this state over when we had the chance, the elections that follow in 2011 will basically mark the end of 30 years of our leaders making good faith efforts (however blatantly shady) to build up this city. It saddens me to think of all those dead (and dying) political giants that once walked among us, putting personal interest aside to do what’s right—or, at least, what they thought was right—for the people, and to know that in 20 years all of their names will have been effectively erased from history, as history itself is eclipsed by the exigencies of present-time or, as Obama puts it, “the fierce urgency of now”.

Today’s Florida kids will have to endure the kind of hardships that most of us have only read about on the “Internets” (Ted Stevens, RIP), and they will probably never know that none of it had to happen. But, like any generation facing existential crises, they will need scapegoats, and that dishonor belongs to those of us casting ballots in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Our terrible decision-making will have “forced” them into whatever fake choices they decide are necessary. I’d hate to be their parents!

sdh666@hotmail.com; August 16, 2010

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One response »

  1. “The right loves their ‘free market’—the idea that, if corporations are given godlike authority its workers and consumers, altruism and civic responsibility will trump the profit motive.”

    You are spot on with this! Aside from the Gulf disaster, consider the product recalls. Without the (albeit poorly executed) FDA and CPSC, we would never know what we were ingesting or handling until there was a death. And even (for the most part) the media is under the thumb of big business and many are reticent to offer more than a passing glance in the direction of corporate indiscretions.

    I pick up the Folio every Tuesday when I go to lunch, and after reading the Mail from wingnuts, I look for your column which is more often than not missing. It’s a sad thing to see, that Northeast Florida prefers a television column over an insightful look at current events.

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