Justice Integrity Project
My morning newspaper Feb. 17 provided several depressing reports. I learned more about the spread of horsemeat in Europe’s human food supply. Subscribers read also about austerity measures in the United States that hurt the young, old, and those in between.
The downward developments are worth noting, especially because they contrast so much with the uplifting words and stagecraft of the president’s recent second-term Inaugural and State of the Union speeches.
Our normal topic in this space — injustice — is gloomy in its own way. Legal rights will seem increasingly like a luxury in hard times ahead, subject to new limits on freedom. Few will recall that due process and other legal rights are not a luxurious token of the nation’s success, but were a necessary precondition.
As for Europe, we now know that unwitting consumers there have been eating horsemeat. It’s cheap for the food processors and under-funded, lax regulators have not been careful about eliminating mystery meat from processed foods.
So how far is the United States from that disgusting danger? Perhaps a long way. There are no known horsemeat gourmands here, unlike Europe. So it would be hard to slip meat into relevant plants even if inspectors are downsized.
But don’t count on avoiding other regulatory setbacks. We are much less worried about health, war costs, and privacy intrusions than we should be. In addition, our leaders and media focus us far more than is healthy on religion-inspired witch-hunts and sex obsessions. Those do nothing to help the economy and most consumers.
We should draw on our rich history of films and books portraying harsh economic conditions. As a reminder, the government-enforced poverty and other oppression of Orwell’s1984 was once regarded as so horrible that the public would resist it.
Instead, we in America dare not protest even with expert evidence available that the federal government is collecting virtually all of our emails and phone calls. No federal official dares call a hearing to invite testimony on these illegal searches. Instead, officials stand by as the whistleblowers are imprisoned under Bush and Obama administrations alike. On the economy, we endure a long-term propaganda campaign as if FDR, the Depression, and the New Deal never succeeded.
We and our representatives listen in near silence as paid liars with fancy job titles and graduate degrees pretend that taxes were low during the Eisenhower administration, and that trickle-down economics during the Bush administration did not destroy the economy in 2007-2008.
In 1973, the science fiction movie Soylent Green portrayed 2022, when the nation’s main food supply would be marketed under the brand name “Soylent.” The film starred Charlton Heston, shown above right. The film suggested that poverty and austerity would lead to harsh options in food supply and other living conditions. Although fantasy, the film’s concept was relatively logical compared to economic nostrums being peddled in Washington these days. That’s true especially in the hallowed halls of Congress and the most famous so-called “think tanks” filled with ideologic shills.
Movies get our attention, just like the stories in my Washington Post today. We can protect ourselves at least somewhat if we know both headlines and the history.
Listed below are today’s headlines. Regarding austerity, check out: State of the millennial union: Underemployed an overloaded and Future retirees at greater risk; Majority may be worse off than parents. Another angle is: Cash-strapped Job Corps won’t take new recruits. It shows the federal government curtailing jobs at the program designed to employ idealistic and under-employed young people. Read the rest of the post here.