June 16, 2010
Five years ago, at the height of the housing bubble, President Bush spoke at Greece Athena Middle and High School in Greece, New York about the political resistance in Washington to Medicare and Social Security cuts. The attendees were sympathetic to the President’s remarks, and even applauded his blunt admission that the nature of his job requires endlessly repeating a few talking points.
The President said:
“As you — as I mentioned to you earlier, we’re going to redesign the current system. If you’ve retired, you don’t have anything to worry about — third time I’ve said that. (Laughter.) I’ll probably say it three more times. See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda. (Applause.)”
Reading it now, what’s most revealing about the comment is not that Bush confirmed people’s worst impressions of him in a moment of honesty, but that he is capable of speaking the truth far more than the current President is. In my book, that means Bush is a better man than Obama.
The other revelation from the quote is not as big because the practice of propaganda by modern political leaders is common knowledge in 2010. Without repetition, one of the main techniques by elites used to persuade the masses, unpopular policy proposals like dismantling Social Security would never be accepted by the broad public. But not all repetition is bad. Hell, without repetition, learning wouldn’t be possible. The real issue is what is being repeated, and why is it being repeated.
In the Army the main point that is repeated is, “kill,” and it is repeated to turn boys into killing machines. If it weren’t for the Army drill instructor, who also repeats racial slurs about foreigners to new recruits, and constantly tells them how moral and good they are, professional armies wouldn’t exist. The spirit, and service of the warrior has been corrupted in the modern era because of propaganda boot camps, which mechanically produce unfeeling and unthinking maniacs to fight wars for private profit, and corporate conquest.
When the survival and way of life of a community was threatened by an outside force in the past men didn’t require loud-mouth authoritarians to help them shift into the warrior mode. They were too proud. They defended the community out of their own fruition because they instinctively felt it was the right thing to do. And they didn’t need to be told who to kill because the villains were the ones who were burning his village and raping the women.
Turning men into killing machines is one example of how dangerous the tool of repetition can be, but it is not the deadliest. The most deadliest application of repetition is telling a people of a nation how moral and superior they are compared to other people. Almost all nations do this, but sometimes a fanatical leader of a nationalist movement comes around, and takes it to the next level. Hitler’s Germany is the most famous example in history of just how much a nation can be lied to through simple repetition. In our day, the governments of the United States, and Israel cannot stop telling their people how moral and superior they are, and why they deserve to be the ones on top, doing the most killing.
The President’s role in national life is similar to the drill instructor’s role in the personal lives of army recruits. The President’s top advisers, who believe his reelection is priority number one, constantly advise him to, “Drill, Mr. President, Drill.” If the President sticks to the talking points about a new initiative, policy proposal, or law that are laid out for him by his advisers, he will most likely be successful in selling them to the dumbfounded people, no matter how diabolical they are.
The Propagandist-in-Chief George W. Bush unknowingly, or perhaps, subconsciously, rehashed this basic principle of propaganda that was used extremely well by Hitler in his ascent to power. The struggling madman famously said: “But the most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly and with unflagging attention. It must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.” Joseph Goebbels stated the same dictum, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Other political leaders of regimes that were heavily based on propaganda for its existence also thought along these lines: “If you’re going to lie, lie hard.” Lenin said: “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”
But the proponents of propaganda in Nazi Germany, and Soviet Russia are amateurs compared with the modern-day practitioners of it, which includes transnational corporations, news agencies, and popular politicians. Propaganda is big business, and big power. PR firms that help corporations and governments craft their message for the public have a tremendous influence on how a story is told, and how it is perceived.
In regards to cutting Social Security and Medicare, the propaganda campaign against the American people that began during the Bush Administration has entered a new phase under Obama’s reign. The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform was set up by the President on 27 April, 2010. A report by the Commission is due in December. (It should be remembered that the Federal Reserve Act was also passed in December). Its eighteen members include Senator Judd Gregg, who serves on the Senate Budget Committee, and Congressman Paul Ryan, the ranking Republican on the House’s Budget Committee.
Gregg and Ryan were also participants in a conference on April 28 that was sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation called “2010 Fiscal Summit: America’s Crisis and A Way Forward.” The aim of the conference was, ” to launch a national bipartisan dialogue on America’s fiscal challenges. The Fiscal Summit will bring together hundreds of stakeholders from across the political spectrum with diverse ideas on how to address critical fiscal issues while continuing to meet the priorities of the American people.”
Peter Peterson, “the Wall Street billionaire who wants to loot Social Security,” as William Greider describes him, has used his private funds to indoctrinate the American people that social programs for seniors are unsustainable. Peterson’s previous propaganda efforts have benefited him, and the rest of America’s plundering class very well in the past. In October, 2007, economist Dean Baker wrote a critical article about Peterson called “Big Lies and Social Security: Peter Peterson’s Retirement is Secure”:
According to The Washington Post, Mr. Peterson was actively lobbying Congress to ensure he and his ilk are not taxed like ordinary workers. The Post reported that Mr. Peterson’s efforts apparently paid off: He and his fellow fund managers will continue to enjoy special tax breaks.
No doubt, the U.S. federal debt is a major issue that requires radical solutions, but Peterson is not a disinterested decision maker. Last month, Jane Hamsher wrote that Peterson’s machinations represents class warfare:
Peterson plays a huge role in the world that shapes the thinking that drives the commission. Bill Clinton simply gushed about him at Peterson’s own recent fiscal summit. As long as Peterson is allowed to hide in the shadows and pull the strings, the choices that the Commission will make will come from a very small menu. Defense cuts will not be a factor. They won’t be talking about the trillion dollars they could save over the next decade simply by expanding Medicare to cover businesses. They’re only going to ask the questions that drive them to the same answer: cut Social Security.
It’s going to be important to tell the tale of Peterson’s inexorable march and diffuse the notion that the Commission is simply responding to temporal economic factors. This is class war, pure and simple.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Joe Firestone has illustrated how to counter the financial elite’s propaganda about Social Security, Medicare, and the larger issues of government spending, and debt. In his article called “The Right Message,” Firestone writes, “many of the deficit hawks may understand very well that there is no solvency risk for the Governments sovereign in their own currency, but they may prefer to maintain the illusion that there is, because they think that then they can profit more from international markets, and prevent the people of various nations from realizing that interest rates on Government debt instruments can be entirely controlled by the Governments themselves, and imposed on the international markets.”
Ellen Brown, author of Web of Debt, has illustrated why all the deficit fearmongering by Peterson and others is not grounded in reality, but in politics, and why IMF-style austerity measures are not needed to spurt new growth in the economy. Brown writes:
All of this puts “fiscal responsibility” in a different light. Rather than saving the future for our grandchildren, as the President himself seems to think it means, it appears to be a code word for delivering public monies into private hands and raising taxes on the already-squeezed middle class. In the parlance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), these are called “austerity measures,” and they are the sorts of things that people are taking to the streets in Greece, Iceland and Latvia to protest. Americans are not taking to the streets only because nobody has told us that is what is being planned.
We have been deluded into thinking that “fiscal responsibility” (read “austerity”) is something for our benefit, something we actually need in order to save the country from bankruptcy. In the massive campaign to educate us to the perils of the federal debt, we have been repeatedly warned that the debt is disastrously large; that when foreign lenders decide to pull the plug on it, the U.S. will have to declare bankruptcy; and that all this is the fault of the citizenry for borrowing and spending too much. We are admonished to tighten our belts and save more; and since we can’t seem to impose that discipline on ourselves, the government will have to do it for us with a “mandatory savings” plan. The American people, who are already suffering massive unemployment and cutbacks in government services, will have to sacrifice more and pay the piper more, just as in those debt-strapped countries forced into austerity measures by the IMF.
Fortunately for us, however, there is a major difference between our debt and the debts of Greece, Latvia and Iceland. Our debt is owed in our own currency – U.S. dollars. Our government has the power to fix its solvency problems itself, by simply issuing the money it needs to pay off or refinance its debt. That time-tested solution goes back to the colonial scrip of the American colonists and the “Greenbacks” issued by Abraham Lincoln to avoid paying 24-36% interest rates.
What invariably kills any discussion of this sensible solution is another myth long perpetrated by the financial elite — that allowing the government to increase the money supply would lead to hyperinflation. Rather than exercising its sovereign right to create the liquidity the nation needs, the government is told that it must borrow from private lenders. And where does their money come from? Ultimately from banks, which create it on their books just as the government would have done. The difference is that when bankers create it, it comes with a hefty fee attached in the form of interest.
On June 9, 2010, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke appeared before the House Budget Committee, where he repeated claims made by Peterson and others that government spending must be drastically cut if economic health is to be restored in the nation. He said:
“The entitlement programs are not self-funded,” Bernanke said, “they are unfunded liabilities. They are the single biggest component of spending going forward.”
Such rhetoric means that the rise in homelessness, unemployment, and other manifestations of mass suffering are not far behind. But will people take these dire pronouncements by the so-called experts seriously? As Dean Baker reminds us: “These same experts then told us that if the taxpayers didn’t hand the banks trillions in bailout dollars the world would end. Thanks to taxpayer generosity the banks are now back on their feet and the bonuses are higher than ever.”
Conferences like the The Fiscal Sustainability Teach-In Counter-Conference, which took place on April 28th in Washington D.C., and can be listened to here, represent the real interests of American citizens. The global financial oligarchy’s propaganda can only be countered by citizens engaging in public dialogue across the political spectrum, and across national boundaries. Selise of Selise’s blog says: “We have a massive need for a counter-narrative to their lies: that Federal deficit spending is bad, that it is a burden to the next generation, that deficit spending risks insolvency.”
There is no time to stall anymore, and pretend a global plundering class doesn’t exist. They do exist. And restraint is not in their vocabulary, as the philosopher Martin Buber disclosed in the middle of the last century. Peterson’s influence in the discourse about social spending, and government deficits is exemplary of the global elite’s larger influence in every issue of public importance in the West. As The Guardian’s Charlie Skelton writes in his latest report on Bilderberg 2010, “There’s an awful lot of unelected ‘advising’ in the world.”
Much of the “unelected advising” comes from institutions like the International Monetary Fund, who are the global insiders of mass fraud. The IMF’s austerity measures, which the Greek people sternly rejected, has compounded Greece’s suffering, originally caused at the hands of the international pariahs in Goldman Sachs. But the Greeks are fighting back. And so are the Spaniards. Soon, however, Americans will have to take to the streets, and join the mass global demonstrations against the IMF, and the global financial oligarchy, because the crisis that Greece and other European nations are engulfed in is the same crisis that will bring America down if Americans are not prepared to fight for their life and liberty.
Faith Bautista, and Preeti Vissa raise concerns about Goldman Sachs’s influence in California’s economy in their article, “Could Goldman Sachs do to California what it did to Greece?” They ask, “Just how much exposure does the state have to Goldman? Has the firm been transparent about any counsel it has provided to the state regarding finances?”
In “Austerity Fascism Is Coming And It Will Be Brutal,” Paul Joseph Watson describes what austerity measures do to a nation. Near the end of the article, Watson writes:
“Austerity fascism is the realization of the global elite’s agenda for a “post-industrial revolution,” after which living standards in the west will be dramatically lowered, economic growth will be stagnant, and people will be more concerned about how they are going to feed their families rather than standing up to the very financial terrorists who engineered the economic collapse in the first place.
However, a hungry mob is an angry mob. If the situation is allowed to spiral out of control and the “post-industrial revolution” unfolds quicker and more unwieldy than anticipated, the global elite may find themselves with an entirely different kind of revolution on their hands – one led by the people against the corrupt plutocrats intent on exploiting the suffering they masterminded in the move towards an authoritarian one world government.”
The global financial oligarchy are most concerned about America entering a state of rebellion against their power because of the country’s legacy of taking intelligent revolutionary action against financial tyranny. America was founded by a group of men who were well aware of mankind’s greatest enemy, disloyal international banksters. The early Republic prized self-reliance and economic independence even above political participation because enlightened citizens knew how important it is for families and communities to remain self-sufficient, and debt-free. That wisdom was lost, but it is being regained. And this time, the lessons are being learned across the world, from Greece to New York; from Latin America to India.
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