The View From the Couch: 16 Tons and What Do You Get? Twenty Nine Dead



thing that has impressed me over the 80 plus days of the BP gulf oil spill is

what a good well it was BP dug. Whatever subcontracting entity actually dug

the well should be congratulated for a job well done. It's impressive,

the sight of 60,000 gallons of oil gushing upward day after day. It's

testimony that shows the, if you'll forgive the word, gulf between workers and

management. The drillers seemed to know what they were doing, whereas

management only showed ignorance, greed and general lack of foresight.

Oil rig workers are doubtless paid fairly well, especially in the light

of the decline of manufacturing jobs throughout the USA. But, of course,

their wages pale compared to the swells in management, especially the top guys,

the yacht owning class, the CEOs who want their life back, etc.

It was

management that decided on the cheaper version of the blowout preventer device;

it was management that decided not to dig simultaneously a relief well; it was

management who pressed workers to speed up, to switch out the mud too soon,

etc. The workers knew what they were doing; management failed and failed



statistics about what the differences in what management is paid and what

workers are paid are startling, the great spread that has occurred over recent

history. Any number of people have written over the last couple of

decades about the financialization of the country: Where making money from

money is the only manufacturing job left. That is what Wall Street has

accomplished since the Reagan years, with the aid and comfort of most everyone

in Congress. And now that the enormous bonuses are being doled out once

again (though they never really stopped) at the most famous Wall Street firms

nothing much has seemed to change.

Not the

regulatory reform legislation that Congress wants to enact. It changes

nothing substantial, except to produce more filters for lobbyists to affect.

It is, in the old Obama phrase, spreading the wealth, letting more people

be bought by lobbyists. The mass media continues to cover the human

interest stories, which, alas, have very little news value. The press

quandary is that it is hard to talk about anything substantial if you lack a

point of view. The saying goes that patriotism is the last refuge of a

scoundrel, but when it comes to journalism, objectivity is the last refuge of

the willfully ignorant.


News has managed to tilt the playing field a bit, being so up front with a POV.

The other cable channels are trying to follow, to secure an audience, but

the crowd for circuses (or NASCAR races) is always larger than those

you'll find in symphony halls. Progressives hoped President Obama would

bring a new tone to Washington. Tell it like it is was the general wish.

Now Obama occasionally can be confused with George W. Bush. Obama

has sunk into the rhetorical middle, the same sort of non-speech where saying

nothing is deemed the most successful form of communication. The voice of

Dreams From My Father has disappeared.


else but this general dumbing down can explain the rise of the new

no-and-know-nothing party, the Tea Party, which the press covers as if it means

something, but the only thing it means is that the no-and-know-nothings find

great comfort in large crowds of similar like-minded company? The

Republicans can take credit for generating this creature. They have

managed, with some help, to make something out of nothing.