Oh where to start? To pinpoint an outrageous story of the day is impossible given the glut of ridiculous political headlines and cultural depravities that have become as American as apple pie. I could go with Nancy Pelosi and how the Democrat base has once again been shafted as they once again watch with dismay as the blue wave reveals its true neoliberal face caked in the foundation of corporatism. Or better yet, I could go with the absurdity of Donald Trump as he continues to one up himself in a race to the bottom of absurdity.
But I refuse! I won’t do that for I realize that these idiotic stories serve a purpose; they incite emotion while dulling us into inertia. Continuing to bite at the toxic catnip that mainstream media injects into the public square only distracts us from the wider injustices that happen on a daily basis. The founders of this nation placed a premium on a free press for a reason; news outlets were supposed to be the ultimate check on a government that would otherwise become tyrannical.
Sadly, the notion of a free press in America is as comical as Joe Biden presenting George W. Bush with a Liberty Medal Award last month for his “commitment to veterans”. Six companies control more than 90% of the content that Americans consume; that includes the news that is aired, printed and broadcast through the internet. The monetization of news has perverted the main principal of journalism; when mainstream media professionals are financially dependent on corporations for their livelihood, they are massively disincentivized from rooting out the corrupt behaviors of the same plutocrats who are signing their paychecks.
Think about this for a second. When was the last time a major story exposed the misdeeds of a big company? When was the last time a politician was implicated by a mainstream media journalists for taking bribes and kickbacks in exchange for enacting legislation on behalf of his/her wealthy benefactor? Do you think these scandals have disappeared? Of course not. These stories are rarely being reported because investigative journalism has been shredded and replaced by yellow sensationalism.
There are two reasons for the demise of muckrakers; the most obvious is that buffoonery and hyperbole sell. There is an innate part of humanity that is drawn to the outlandish. The more preposterous a story and the more ludicrous the headlines, the more we are drawn to them. Mainstream media executives understand this; in the age of omnipresent information where our attentions are limited, the likes of CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Washington Post and their cohorts made a business decision to focus on fluff in order to puff up their profit margins. Donald Trump is news all the time for this reason; love him or hate him, most Americans can’t quit him and neither can journalists and pundits who get paid for every eyeball they draw to their medium. Click To Tweet
The other reason is that the oligarchs who have successfully monopolized mainstream media prefer that we keep our attention focused on the megalomaniac in the White House, the corporate toady Pelosi or a supersized steer in Australia. Anything as long as we are not paying attention to the continued destruction of the middle class, the evisceration of the working class and the total annihilation of the poor. While the wealthiest few grow their fortunes exponentially, the rest of us are being driven slowly into the abyss of insolvency.
The root cause of these economic imbalances is easy to trace; our government—hijacked by corporate courtiers—keeps catering to the gentry by enacting policies that transfer wealth from the vast majority into the coffers of the .01%. Rome fell because they became a kleptocracy; the ruling class were so beset by greed that they drowned the most powerful empire with a mix of runaway debt and unchecked hubris. They racked up debt by unleashing endless wars, mortgaged their future to pay for bread and circus while taxing the public in order to finance the opulent lives of the aristocracy.
There is no need to read about Nero or Caligula in order to understand what happened to Rome, we are watching the empire we live in now crumble under the weight of mismanagement and malfeasance. Alas, we are not paying attention; our minds are too sedated by the powerful narcotic of politics and personality to notice. Want proof? Ask yourself this, if the feature picture above was of father who lost his job or a mother struggling to feed her children, would you have clicked on this article?
Give a man a mirror and he’ll stop looking outside his window::
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Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.