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The Prism

Eye on the Media

The Hidden Hand of the Market, and its Hidden Fist

  Is the US government and other world bodies set up to patrol the globe using violence to keep corporations wealthy? Does 'the global economy' exist only by using violence to sustain itself?

Will your brother or sister in the Air Force have to kill someone in another country so that Microsoft will have really high profits? Do you have to be crazy, or some burned out, 1960s-obsessed leftist loser to say such things?

No, you can believe these things and be a person who loves giant corporations, who works for a giant corporation, and who makes money by kissing up to powerful and rich people.

Read the words of Thomas Friedman, writing for the New York Times, a columnist who is treated as prestigious and insightful because he pals around with high government officials and prints what they say.

In his column he was pouting because executives of 'Silicon Valley' computing industries don't seem to pay much attention to US government activites, to foreign policies—or to Friedman's columns.

This is how he says this supposedly peaceful, self-regulating 'global economy' works:

... all the technologies Silicon Valley is designing to carry digital voices, videos and data farther and faster around the world, all the trade and financial integration it is promoting through its innovations, and all the wealth it is generating, is happening in a world stabilized by a benign superpower called the United States of America, with its capital in Washington, D.C.

The hidden hand of the global market would never work without the hidden fist. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies to flourish is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps (with the help, incidentally, of global institutions like the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund)...

Silicon Valley's tech-heads have become so obsessed with bandwidth they've forgotten balance of power. They've forgotten that without America on duty there will be no America Online. [Raleigh News & Observer, Tuesday, 21 Apr 98, 11A. Italics mine.]

Does Friedman's opinion matter? I think so. The New York Times is a big, rich company. They took in around $3 billion last year. They understand rich people fairly well. So does Thomas Friedman. He hangs around rich people a lot, and writes a lot of their opinions as 'foreign policy' columns. He gets invited to the White House and to television discussion shows to talk about issues that he hasn't really shown much insight about, at least not in his columns.

Many of the articles on national and international news appearing in your local paper are purchased from the New York Times. Radio and television networks like National Public Radio or CNN report what the New York Times reports as though it were news in itself. Their correspondents hang out with CIA agents and are treated like diplomats in foreign countries. Gutsy, independent reporters usually get fired while pathetic kiss-ups to the wealthy are kept on. (For more background see Ed Herman on the New York Times in Z Magazine, April 1998.)

So the next time someone complains that the US is about to send in planes to bomb people in another country, you look in their eyes and tell them that you'll have none of their doubts, that you're proud to support the US military, "the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley."

Wake Up, Labor: Republicans are On The Job

A fund raising letter sent out in January by the Wake County Republican Party and signed by its Chairman William W. Peaslee warns members,

"The Labor Unions' present silence should not be mistaken for inactivity. As the months tick by approaching the 1998 elections, the Labor Union bosses are collecting union members dues for the fight that lies ahead.

"The Wake County Republican Party is determined that the union bosses do not go unanswered in 1998...

"Please do not let the AFL-CIO dictate who your elected officials will be. Send a contribution today to support your local Republican Party."

The Republicans deserve your support, no? They're a very poor, beleaguered group. A tiny, resourceless group of waifs wandering the streets. "The Labor Bosses," they say, repeating the Only Name By Which Union Leaders May Be Known, "can rely on forced dues from union members. We can only rely on your generosity."

Pitiful souls, struggling to survive. Of course, it is also true that a great deal of money to Republican Parties comes in the form of 'soft money' from companies, who can form PACs to steer dollars to these anti-union pinheads. Needless to say, CCB employees and customers don't get to vote on whether or not CCB company funds will go to the CCB Free Enterprise PAC, but hey, who's worried about Big Businesses when the Labor Bosses are on the prowl?

-Jeff Saviano


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