Tuesday :: Dec 27, 2005

Wealthy Jesus


by pessimist
Don't care how big you are
I don't care what you worth
When it all ends up
You got to go back to Mother Earth

- Eric Burdon, Mother Earth

Kerry Packer, Australia's richest man, dies at 68

Kerry Packer, Australia's richest man whose fortune was recently estimated at US$5bn, has died at the age of 68, his family announced this morning. Forbes magazine earlier this year listed Packer as the 94th richest man in the world. A media mogul whose business empire also included petrochemicals, engineering, ski resorts, diamonds, coal mines and casinos, Packer's twin passions were polo and gambling.

Packer died overnight in his sleep. The cause of death was not immediately clear. His family's statement did not give a cause of death, but it was known that he had been battling cancer as well as having the weak heart and kidney problems. One of his former employees, Michael Pascoe, said today: 'It was almost a testimony to medical science that he did live as long as he did.'

Packer was a larger than life figure who achieved his monumental successes despite dyslexia and a bout of childhood polio myelitis that saw him spend nine months immobilised in an iron lung. He returned to school at the age of nine, having missed three years, and was never able to catch up academically.

Despite a poor health record in recent years, he had acquired a reputation of being almost immortal. In 1990 he suffered a major heart attack on the polo field and was clinically dead for eight minutes, until emergency medical officers revived him with electric shock treatment.

Afterwards he said: 'The good news is there's no devil. The bad news is there's no heaven. There's nothing.'

I guess he now knows the truth about the Biblical adage that claims "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a
needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God
". (Matthew 19:24)

If, however, things really are as he ascribed after his near-death experience, there is no reason to believe the Gospel of Matthew, is there? No reason to fear the application of Matthew 25:31-46, either: "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to Me."

Thus, the Gordon Gekkos of the modern world can shamelessly preach their otherwise unjustifiable doctrine of 'Greed is Good' to the young and impressionable, as this next post found out they are already doing recently:

SESAME STREET'S MESSAGE TO KIDS: DON'T SHARE THE WEALTH!

If this is the kind of rebarbative pollution Sesame Street is pumping into your kids' little heads, you'll want to exercise your v-chip prerogatives and keep your kids from watching this sort of crap -- permanently!

This is what caused all the outrage:


Antonio Gramsci on Sesame Street
by Paul Street
November 28, 2005

The hegemonic ideology of the ruling class, Antonio Gramsci once observed, becomes all too much like the "air we breathe." It comes to define the "common sense" of ordinary daily consciousness and experience, with tragic consequences all around.

[As Wikipedia describes it, "the perspective of the ruling class had been absorbed by the masses of workers" who listen to "the rhetoric of nationalist leaders, seeking consumer opportunities and middle-class status, embracing an individualist ethos of success through competition, and/or accepting the guidance of bourgeois religious leaders." Sounds like Red State America to me! - ed.]
Here is a small and childish example [of Gramsci's premise]. Flipping through the television clicker one morning, I recently I happened upon "Sesame Street" (SS), the venerable educational PBS series for pre- and early grade-school children.
The morning's lesson was on the just and inviolable nature of socioeconomic inequity and the sanctity of private property and possessive individualism.
At the point I clicked on the program, two very concerned and mature adults --- a black man and a black woman, both in their 40s it appeared --- were listening with raised eyebrows to a blue puppet animal ("Cookie Monster" perhaps) who had just designated himself 'Cookie-Hood'. 'Cookie Hood' had just come to the alarming (for him) realization that "some people have lots more cookies than they need" while "other people have no cookies at all."

That's a prescient observation in the industrialized world's most unequal and wealth-top-heavy society, where the top 1 percent owns at least 40 percent of total wealth [see also: Korten, David. When Corporations Rule the World, p. 108 - ed.] and more than 1 million black children are growing up at less than half the federal government's notoriously low and inadequate poverty level.

The solution, 'Cookie-Hood' announced, is to take the surplus cookies away from the wealthy few and give them away to the poor, cookie-less many. Imagine!

"Hooray!" the other puppet animals shouted.

The two adults were not pleased. "That," the father figure sternly intoned, "is stealing." And "stealing is wrong," he elaborated, "because it means taking something that doesn't belong to you."

No room, of course, in the [Sesame Street] script for why the cookie-less exist in the first place: because of societal dispossession, repression, and, well, theft.

No room for moral outrage at the fact that masses of cookie-less are born into a world they never made where billions go hungry and ill-housed while a wealthy minority lives surrounded by extravegant opulence.

No sense of justice in the demand of equal cookies for all.

'Cookie-Hood' felt sad and ashamed. He thought he'd been doing something good and just, but really he'd been doing something wrong. He'd been stealing cookies that didn't belong to him! Bad cookie puppet!!

The other puppet animals were confused. What to do now? And what about the cookie-less?

Not to worry! Sesame Street's wise and benevolent adults had a solution.

The solution is....currency.

Puppets and people don't have to steal cookies from the rich because, the father figure explained, "we can all go to the store and buy cookies." Yes, all of can us get as many cookies as we want with a magical medium called.....drumroll...ta-da....MONEY.

Because everybody's got money, right?

Money is equality. Who needs Robin Hoods when we've all got that great universal leveller and destoyer of hiearchy and inequality called money. Three cheers for money! Hooray for the means of exchange!

'Cookie-Hood' (Cookie-Monster?) was happy because he remembered that he just gotten his allowance. He held up a little bag of coins and shouted, "Hooray, let's go the store and buy cookies."

He wasn't worried anymore about whether other people have enough cookies. Now he just cared about getting his own. He knew that other people get money (allowances) too. Before going to the store, however, 'Cookie-Hood' had to take back the surplus cookies he'd stolen from the privileged few.

I was left to wonder how long it will take 'Cookie-Hood' to figure out that some few people's allowances are 500 and more times bigger than other peoples' allowances.
Here's my idea for a future SS episode: "Cookie Hood changes his name to 'Money Hood' and Robs a Bank." The adults can send "Money Hood" back to the bank with his ill-gotten green, explaining to him that people don't have to steal money....they just have to get jobs.

Everyone knows that jobs pay a lot of money to everyone who wants to work, right? Hooray for jobs. Get a job!

The next show after that can deal with the blue puppet animal's childish struggle against the authoritarian structure of the capitalist labor process.

We just celebrated the birthday of Jesus - he who accepted the outcasts as equals and cared for the poor and the sick. If this Sesame Street depiction is any example, we are hypocrites for having done so.


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