The Moment of Truth — July 18, 1998
IMF/Indonesia; Poop on the Flag
Hello, I’m mejeffdorchen. Welcome to the Moment of Truth, the moment of radio commentary that stands out against the tawdry background of capitalist media machine malarkey the way a poop stain stands out against the red white and blue of a flag that has come to symbolize economic repression, political corruption, military aggression, and rhetorical emptiness.
I just heard Clinton talking about how we should support the IMF bailout of Asian financial institutions and corporations. He was worried about the trade deficit. He said that we need to get the Asian economies back on their feet so that Asians could quote "buy our products" unquote.
I found that phrase a little odd. "Our products." What does he mean, "our products"? What is he selling? He and Hillary got out of the real estate business. Is the Clinton Administration manufacturing something – I mean besides consent, propaganda and scandal? Is Donna Shalala managing a little factory on the side that produces Spice Girl action figures, sells them in Asia, and funnels the profits into the Gore 2000 campaign?
No, neither the Clinton family nor the Clinton administration has a product to sell in Asia – they’re all on fixed incomes. They make the same amount of money regardless of how much consent, propaganda and scandal they manufacture, and regardless of many Whoppers and Barbie dolls the people of the Pacific Rim have the power to buy.
So what does Clinton mean, "our products"? US products? I’m a US citizen, and I don’t have a product. I don’t have anything to gain from donating my taxes to the over 3 billion dollars the Congress just earmarked for the IMF. I’ll never see that money again. That’s money straight down the toilet as far as I’m concerned. It’d be different if the wealth that money was going to generate, once the Asians start stuffing themselves with dingdongs and spaghettios, was going to come back into the public sphere in the form of taxes, to pay for the national parks I like to camp in or to pay for the art and education that makes life worth living or to subsidize the public transportation I use to go to the places where I work or spread my dollars around, stimulating the economy like the dickens. But corporations and investors shoulder such a small percentage of the tax burden right now that I’m pretty much footing the bill for everything: the roads they use, the airwaves they fill with their crap, the courts they manipulate, the upkeep of the public buildings which house the elected officials that consider these freeloading corporations "ours".
I don’t own a god damn thing. Because I’m John Q Public. My wages have been stagnating since the seventies, while the corporate freeloaders are enriching themselves beyond their wildest dreams. The only things I own are public lands and public airwaves, and those are being sold and rented to corporate freeloaders for a fraction of their market value, because I’m stupid enough to leave a bunch of procapitalist politicians in charge of my public holdings.
So what does Clinton mean, "ours"? His maybe. What do the House and Senate mean by giving my tax dollars to the IMF: theirs, maybe. Me, I don’t have a damn thing.
Except my right to poop on the flag. And the more we examine the economic politics of the New World Order, the more pooping on the flag seems like a valid form of dissent. I mean, I don’t even own a flag. But Clinton and Gingrich and Trent Lott and Steve Forbes and Ronald McDonald, they’ve always got flags all around them. It’s the people with the flags that are pooping on us, so why shouldn’t we poop on their flags?
Course, what would really be appropriate is if we pooped on money, cuz they’re pooping on us with our own money. But nobody’s gonna do that, cuz you can buy stuff with money. See, if you really wanna protect the flag from desecration, you should make it worth something. It should be redeemable for like five hundred dollars worth of merchandise. That would create some real respect for the flag.
Remember, you can’t legislate respect. You have to earn it. That’s why all those kings and queens and czars are dead today. They tried to legislate respect instead of earning it, and they ended up on the trash heap of history. And you certainly can’t legislate respect for an object. It has to become imbued with value by the nobility of that which it represents. The world’s only superpower acts as if all that matters is money – and so money is the only attribute it has that people respect. Ask people if they had to burn either their flag or five hundred dollars of their own money – which do you think they’d choose, by a substantial majority? Y’know how many flags you can buy for five hundred bucks?
"Ours". Our products. Our flag. Our interests overseas. The word creates a division – between an us and a them. And right now I feel like them.
This has been me – jeffdorchen. Tune in for the MOMENT OF TRUTH next week on National Beer Presents This is Hell with your host Chuck Mertz Saturday from 10 am to noon on WNUR 89.3 FM Chicago’s sound experiment.