Bring Out The Clowns

by James Howard Kunstler, May 4, 2016

In this decade of maximum peril, a prankish God delivers two maximally detested candidates to lead the faltering nation as events run ahead of all the convenient narratives.

For instance: the idea that Republican “insiders” can block Trump’s path to the nomination. The insiders may be phantoms after all. For instance, the loathsome Koch brothers have already made their move onto Hillary’s side of the game-board. Trump won’t miss their campaign contributions for a New York minute (while Hillary might find a way to stuff the cash into some Cayman Islands lock-box of the Clinton Foundation).

Events played right into Trump’s smallish hands last week when protesters outside a Donald rally in Costa Mesa, California, waved Mexican flags and placards calling for the reestablishment of Aztlán del Norte. Kind of proves his point about illegal immigration, don’t it? Trump also supposedly blundered in saying that Hillary had only “the women’s card” left to play in her donkey trot to the election. I’m not so sure he’s wrong about that — though the indignometer needle danced through the red-line after he said it.

Has it come to this? The women’s party against the men’s party? What kind of idiot psychodrama is this country acting out? Mom and dad mud-wrestling in an election year hog-wallow? A Reality TV show writ large from sea to shining sea? Are there no better ways of understanding the difficulties we face?

Lately Hillary has been boasting of her ability to bring Wall Street to heel, theoretically after Wall Street installs her in the White House. Voters (especially women) might want to pay attention to Hillary’s lavish praise for President Obama’s handling of the banking turpitudes still unresolved seven years after the crack-up of 2008. What did the Dodd-Frank Act (signed by “O” in 2010) accomplish except to provide more lucrative work-arounds, by Too-Complex-To-Comprehend legalese, for Too-Big-To-Fail banks? It was written by bank lobbyists and lawyers and was about 2,270 pages longer than the old Glass Steagall Act that Bill Clinton vaporized in 1999. Do you suppose that Bill and Hill might have talked about the repeal of Glass Steagall back then? Do you wonder what she thought about it at the time— being a lawyer and all?

This week attention is fixed on the Indiana primary where Devil Bat Ted Cruz desperately makes his last stand against the Trump juggernaut. It seems that former House Speaker John Boehner actually succeeded in driving a wooden stake through Cruz’s hypothetical heart by casually remarking that he was “the most miserable sonofabitch I ever worked with.” Kind of hard to explain that one away, though Ted tried by sending out his new attack dog Carly Fiorina and claiming that he never worked with the Speaker of the House — a risible claim for a national legislator in the same party.

All of this would be amusing if the USA wasn’t sliding into the twilight of what many people call “modernity” — which is code for the techno-industrial hyper-complexity we’ve been enjoying lately as a species. We have yet to comprehend the diminishing returns of heaping more complexity on what is already too complex. Exhibit A for most of the common folk must be the Affordable Care Act (also signed by “O” in 2010). Whereas the shrewd stylings of Dodd-Frank surely mystify the public, most full-functioning adults understand what it means when their health insurance premiums go up by 20% and the new deductible makes it unthinkable to even consider going to the emergency room.

The sad truth may be that rackets of this kind are unreformable, and that we can’t begin to do things differently until they collapse. It should be obvious, for instance, that American healthcare needs to move in the opposite direction from where it has been going — from giantism, as epitomized by colossal merged mega-hospital corporations, back to some kind of local clinic care in which doctors and their subalterns are not burdened by an oppressive matrix of Charge-Master grift. There may be less razzle-dazzle technology in that future model, but much more hands-on care, plus an end to the kind of financial pillage that bankrupts households for relatively routine illnesses (the $90,000 appendectomy).

Likewise in virtually all other areas of American life, the real trend as yet un-discussed in this election campaign, will be unwinding and downscaling of the onerous, toxic hyper-complexity of the age now passing and finding our way to a workable re-set of what used to be known as political-economy.

In the meantime: a clown show.

(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page: patreon.com/JamesHowardKunstler)

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