The Moment of Truth — February 14, 1998

CEO Pay, G. Ryan’s Organs, Etc.

Hi, I’m mejeffdorchen and this is the moment of truth, that one golden moment of integrity in a world of pernicious greed.

Now, I know that the Moment of Truth is most famous these days for its ability to entwine disparate threads of critique together into an elegant tether for the well-heeled aristocrats of capitalism to hang themselves with. Today, unfortunately or not, the Moment of Truth is merely a collection of tidbits, fragments, reflecting the shattered state of our social fabric as the republic draws ever closer to self-destruction as the narrative it tells about itself becomes more and more a story about how shallowness, hypocrisy, mendacity, pettiness, greed, insincerity, selfishness, and moral emptiness are the dominant features of human nature, are in fact the characteristics of human nature that are sitting in the driver’s seat as we hurtle down the highway toward the manifest destiny of advanced info-industrial capitalism - where, further down the road, around that next bend, just across the overpass under which the ideal of popular democracy sleeps in its stinking rags, beaten unconscious by neglect, further ahead, let me assure you, the bridge to the 21st century is out, babies - the bridge is out.

My khabibi the great Anaheed Alani sent me this tidbit from the copy-editor’s listserv: according to John Kenneth Galbraith in a speech to Americans for Democratic Action on July 13 of this year, and he’s quoting statistics from the AFL-CIO Fact Sheet on CEO Pay in 1997:

The estimated current minimum wage in the US, if it was indexed to the rate of growth in CEO salaries since 1980, would be $40.97 per hour, or $85,218 per year for a fulltime minimum wage worker.

Actual minimum wage: $5.15 per hour, or $10,712 dollars per year. So much for a rising tide floating all boats. So much for trickle down. So much for a booming economy meaning anything but that the rich get richer.

And we wonder why little kids seem to have no respect for human life. What kind of model do we display in a society that hates most of its people, continually undervaluing their contributions and withholding fair compensation from them, while prattling on at them messages about how they’re lucky to be getting what little they are? And all this week we’ve heard the mainstream, supposedly Christian media, bemoaning the fact that a seven and eight year-old kid can’t be executed, or at least put into a situation where they could be assaulted by adult prisoners. Our society on a collision course with its own inhumanity? I don’t know - you decide.

Secretary of state George Ryan, running for governor, used almost $150,000 of taxpayers’ money to send refrigerator magnets with his name on them to senior citizens. He wants us to believe that it was some kind of new strategy to publicize a seniors’ hotline - yeah, but in eight years he hasn’t done anything to publicize it, and now that he’s got an election coming up, out into the mail go $150,000 worth of refrigerator magnets.

Same thing with his big push to get Illinois drivers to fill out their organ donor cards - a huge and unprecedented ad campaign this spring featuring pictures of what - organs? No. Pictures of Sec of State George Ryan. When I went to renew my license in march I was very suspicious. I thought, why is this guy so eager for me to donate my organs? It’s kind of gruesome. Ryan’s body is notoriously lumpy, and I hypothesized, quite understandably, that not only are none of the organs in his body the original ones he was born with, but he’s also got extra livers and kidneys and eyeballs stuffed under his skin, stored subcutaneously for future use when the replacements he has now fail.

That may be true. But obviously it was also Ryan’s opportunistic way of getting publicity out of his position as Sec of State and using taxpayer dollars to get his name and image out to increase his recognition before the election.

Meanwhile, we have antiabortion, antigay Glen Poshard as the democratic candidate. Let’s see, could we have less of a choice, or a clearer demonstration of the failure of our political system to engage the diversity of the electorate? There’s only one way this election could be more of an exercise in futility: that would be if George Ryan stuffed Glen Poshard under his skin amongst all those extra organs, and we had only one combination fascist candidate to vote for.

Some quick news from the world of so-called public radio in Chicago: WBEZ station Manager Tory Malatia saw fit, in last year’s radical restructuring of the station, to replace the BBC news with a more American-centered program of spoon-fed international pabulum from Public Radio International called, arrogantly, The World. Yeah, right. The great thing about listening to genuine international news like the BBC and even the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is that every story doesn’t end with a quote from some US government official spouting his or her stinky bs about what “OUR” position is on this or that event. It’s really fascinating to note the difference in one’s perspective that is effected when every international story isn’t filtered through the US State Dept.’s fascist disinformation machine. Giving the State Department or some nazi in congress the last word on an international story has become an American news tradition that has helped to cripple our citizens’ collective understanding of world events to the extent that our electorate’s level of ignorance is a world-wide joke. And we have Tory Malatia to thank for giving us that extra little shove in the direction of provincialist stupidity.

Finally, on weekend edition, NPR’s Scott Simon seems to be suffering from the kind of mental degeneration associated with Friedrich Nietzsche in the last stages of syphilis. Simon had WBEZ’s Jim Nader on to talk about Nader’s Annoying Music Show, which you can hear today on WBEZ from 3pm to 3 oh five. Nader and his show are very funny. This is unfortunate, because Scott Simon will take any opportunity to practice his horribly fake laugh. It’s an infectious laugh, in the sense that e coli is infectious - it makes me puke and wish I were dead. We can only hope medical science can develop a vaccine against Scott Simon’s nauseating fake laughter.

That’s the Moment of Truth with mejeffdorchen, we’re right here on National Beer Presents This is Hell with your host Chuck Mertz every Saturday 10am to noon here on WNUR 89.3 FM Chicago’s sound experiment.