The Free Market Fairy
…Rather will we continue doing what we had proposed; we will burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out libations to her, as we and our fathers, our kings and princes have done in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. Then we had enough food to eat and we were well off; we suffered no misfortune.
But since we stopped burning incense to the queen of heaven and pouring out libations to her, we are in need of everything and are being destroyed by the sword and by hunger.
Symbolically the United States has been bowing before the idol of the Free Market Fairy since 1981. No cakes and wine for the Queen of Heaven and thus, we have not known plenty and peace. It’s all war all the time. A few decades ago the question was “What if they gave a war and nobody came?” How we got from there to, “Let’s have a war that nobody will notice” is a mystery to me. As is how we have bred not one Marie Antoinette but fifty-nine million, the people George W. Bush thinks of as his base. The ones who believe that God takes care of those who help themselves and nobody else. If you’re poor, it’s surely a sign of personal failings and/or not among those favored by God. Hardly a new worldview or belief system in America.
Max Weber spoke of it a century ago. “According to Weber, modern capitalism owes a great deal to Calvinism, whose doctrine of predestination decisively linked spiritual worthiness to worldly wealth (a sign that one is one of God's "elect"),..." Of course, we’re not so crass as to discuss it publicly in those terms. We find euphemisms for it, like “ownership society,” “personal responsibility,” “compassionate conservative.” The outcome of all of these beliefs is to make it easier for a few to become richer, to display how much more they are blessed by God and to convince those that have that they will also be blessed in the next world.
GWB sleeps just fine at night. Fully confident that his final sleep will take him directly through the pearly gates. Not even the earthly gates of hell that were opened for so many in the Gulf this week intruded on GWB’s castle on the hill. He strummed and ate cake. Had another of his all too frequent, “What, me worry?” moments. Only this time, his patrons got really scared. This time his imperiousness risked ripping off the glittery, mesmerizing mask of the Free Market Fairy and expose the real demon that lurked behind all along.
The WH is now in full damage control mode. Filling in the broken levees of the breach in the WH image faster than they will fix those in New Orleans. “They couldn’t have anticipated.” “Nobody told them that they needed help.” “We’ve done everything possible.” “Our performance was superb” “The problem was the looters and shooters.” “Tomorrow will be a sun shiny day.” “Karl’s got the illusion smoke machines pumping as fast as they can.”
Was America watching? The rest of the world was but they had GWB’s number for four years. Did they see the dead bodies floating in the water and pushed to the side of a “relief” center? Or were they more interested in some petty looting and some snipers that for some reason eluded capture on film? Were the images of real people suffering for all to see more real to them than the mostly imagined ones of 9/11?
Katrina. Mother Nature. The Queen of Heaven. Big Mama is not happy about our worship of the Free Market Fairy. She’s been whispering, pleading, begging us to change our ways. Nothing, not the dot-com bust, 9/11, a recession, corporate scandals, GOP/Delay/Halliburton scandals, a war based on lies with no end, Abu Ghraib, fires or small natural disasters, nothing has pierced the illusion. Are we so stupid that unless it is shoved right in our faces in the starkest terms can we not see? Do we allow the whole world to sink and become the Atlantis of the universe?
The Free Market Fairy is a monster with an unquenchable appetite. It can never be slain, only chained. Never tamed but made to behave as long as the leg irons aren’t removed. Loosen them and the poor get poorer. We’ve been loosening them for so long now that the beast may have broken free and is now on the rampage. Giving the 59 million morons what they asked for. No government control. What we call price gouging and profiteering is the Free Market in operation. Doesn’t matter if you don’t like $6/gallon gas if that’s what a seller can get for it. Don’t like the “nanny state?” Prepare to watch more pictures of more dead bodies and more poverty. And worse. Watch the infrastructure of this country continue to age and crumble, leaving behind a wasteland like New Orleans only slower in the making.
The Free Market Fairy was well fed during the past few decades. May have even seen a private Major League Baseball doctor or two. Back in Hoover’s day the FMF wasn’t chomping away at the back pockets of the federal government. It learned that “big government” doesn’t mean that it has to go hungry. Learned that bigger government means even more for it to eat. It has the best of both worlds now. And the rest of us have the worst, the most expensive government in the history of this country and GWB tells a little girl to go down to the Salvation Army and get some clothes. (Probably a WH selected and scripted photo-op for which GWB forgot to memorize his lines.) New Orleans this past week is what the Free Market Fairy looks like when it is unconstrained.
Why is it that the Blacks in America always have to suffer more before our national conscience begins to bother us? Too many of them always suffer and we never notice. Little girls bombed in a church. Fire hoses turned on marchers. Lynchings. Finally it was too much for just enough of us. Still, we only did the minimum. Allowed some to get a better education, job, house. Just enough for us to deny the racism that lives buried a centimeter or six feet under in our hearts and minds. James Byrd. FL 2000. OH 2004. All dismissed. “Oh, no, we don’t want to go back to those days of race and class turmoil – those are so yesterday and the problems were solved long ago. If Black Americans don’t succeed today, it’s their own fault (drugs, violence, family values…),” an endless stream of false blame. How do we blame a mother holding a baby slowly dying of dehydration? A mother who did not have the means to get out of the path of a hurricane and is trapped in its aftermath? How many others just like her didn’t make it that far? Have drowned? How can we look into those faces and live with ourselves? Is this the moment we roll back the clock, pick up and dust off the forgotten and never waged “War on Poverty?” The only “war,” among so many that consumed, distracted and bankrupted us, that was worthy of our efforts.
This time we must lock up the Free Market Fairy in a maximum security facility (built by Halliburton as their new home). We tried being nice, and looked what that got us? Harding, Coolidge, Hoover and Nixon all rolled into one.
Dig deeply into our collective unconscious to rediscover and release the Queen of Heaven. Offer her new cakes and wine. Maybe she will again grace us with a smile and peace.