Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Stimulous Package: "Will it work?"

That is the question that the media has been asking over and over again for the last month. Every time I turn on the news, or what passes for news, there's some obligatorily shrill-voiced actor playing the role of an anchorperson screaming, "Obama's Stimulus Package: Will it work? When we come back, our panel of experts will try to answer that question, and later we will talk to Republican Senator Pede Erast about whether the bill isn't really all about government spending. Stay with us."

Then the commercials come on. And, Christ Almighty, if anyone is wondering whether this country is on its way into the bowels of hell with the irresistible speed of an elephant on a luge, then all he has to do is take a close look at these ridiculous commercials. Without question, the most repulsive ones are the ones that use bright, pastel-ish colors to illustrate birds, and trees, and butterflies, and children, while the zen-like soundtrack of American Beauty plays in the background, a happy, hopeful harmony of soft bings and dings. It's a sunny day, the kids are running in the field, there's a young woman in appropriate east-coast blue-blood-wanna-be GAP attire, smiling; one of the kids blows into her palm and all these pretty petals go exploding into the air; and its all just beautiful, happy, and healthy, because, as the narrator assures you--the fucking coal companies are watching out for "your" environment.

Then there are the bank and investment-firm commercials, repeatedly reminding you of how "solid" they are, as if they fully expect the viewer to be so utterly clueless as to believe them. These banks telling people that they are somehow looking out for their families are, on the contrary, far more akin to a person who's just come-to after a terrorist bombing at a cafe--dumbstruck, shell-shocked, mumbling comforting nonsense--than they are like the sober, responsible, and alert group of professionals that they pretend to be. But then, a tweaker on a week-long binge would actually be confident that people believe him when he tells them that he's a jet fighter pilot. But then, again, there are a lot of people in this country who would believe him wholeheartedly and even ask for his autograph, because it is not every day that they meet a real jet fighter pilot. And that's the whole fucking problem, as we all know.

Once the length of time that psychologists have determined a middle-aged, drugged couple sitting on their couch can endure mindless commercials (a very, very long time) is mercifully over, the real torture begins: While commercials try to convince you that this or that product is good, a relatively honest venture, news programs take mind-fucking to a whole new level and try to convince you that the entire world is a certain way. They try to convince you that there is such a thing in the world as the "axis of evil"; that John McCaine's getting captured and tortured for years, after not being able to manage bombing women and children from thousands of feet in the air, makes him singularly fit to be the President; that during times of struggle and depression, Americans "pull together" instead of stomp one another to death on Black Friday as they make a mad dash to the electronics department. You know, bullshit.

And who better to administer these memory laxatives than a charismatic figure, say, Anderson Cooper for the girls, and Campbell Brown for the boys. Anderson Cooper's head, if you think about it, is a natural anomaly, but a serendipitous one if you are a cable news producer. It combines the unthreatening, wise silver hair of a sixty year old with the glowing and hairlessly smooth skin of an adolescent, and beaming out from that perfectly manicured head are a pair of bright blue eyes, at once penetrating and innocent, trusting and trustworthy. And if that weren't enough, his Steve McQueen-lite pose that he strikes right before going to commercial is just the kind of dickless macho that makes menopausal women fall in love: They don't know if they want to fuck him first and then cuddle him, or cuddle him first, then fuck him, then cuddle him again. Anderson Cooper is the consummate menopausal toy-boy. If someone shrank him down to dildo size and mass produced him, he'd be marketable in buy-2, get-1-free packages. "I've got one 'Dandy Andy' in the dresser, one in bathroom, and one in...the car!" They'd say to one another and giggle. "Get yours! Today!"

And so, Anderson Cooper says, "The Stimulous Package: The Obama camp says that it will create jobs, cut taxes for those who need them most, and invest in the infrastructure of communities all accross America. But will it stimulate the economy? Joining me now is [some bored looking guy from a center you've never heard of]. Thank you for coming on the show, Bill. Will it work?" Bill then repeats the same ambiguous bullshit du jour, saying, in essence, that the stimulus package might work, but then it might not work; it will do all these positive things, but "I'm not sure whether it will be stimulative." Right, "stimulative." If you think that word sounds strange, even after it has gotten repeated over and over again for the last month, it is probably because you're used to hearing the far more standard adjectival form, "stimulatory." Some talking head dropped that word "stimulative" a few weeks ago, and now every commentator has to use it, and every time they do, they get this cautious, almost scared, look on their faces because it is the first time that they've used it. But they screw up their courage and go through with it because they've looked it up in the dictionary, and, indeed, it is technically correct, and it will make them sound smart. Or maybe I'm hallucinating the whole thing.

In any case, if the question is whether the stimulus package will prove stimulatory, the answer is clear: NO. But that answer is neither entertaining, nor good for ratings, let alone stimulative to the career of an anchorperson. But that is the answer: It won't work. Nothing any politician is willing to do would work.

And the answer is "no" because the markets are saturated, manufacturing and its accompanying jobs have been moved overseas, the US has shifted from a savings economy to a credit economy, government regulation of pretty much everything has been sabotaged, Wall Street owns all of the important politicians (including Obama), vital government services have been privatized, and so on and on.

There isn't going to be a real recovery, and everything is going to get much worse. And most people don't want to hear about it.


Ani said...

Stimulative = the love child of Stimulatory and Laxative

parisan said...

//f someone shrank him down to dildo size and mass produced him, he'd be marketable in buy-2, get-1-free packages.//

There you go, a good business idea that surely could stimulate America.

Taking the taxpayers' money to give jobs to taxpayers so they can pay taxes is a funny way to run free enterprise America.

Barack Obama, barracks communism?


what's new on the Armenian front? I left Armenia -- I wonder what's happening there. Where is Pashinian?

nazarian said...

The stimulus package makes sense as a tool to 'jump start' investment. Right now there is a lot of capital sitting on the side without being invested. The investors need guarantees that their investments are not more risky that they thought. And it is very difficult to assess risk right now with all the freakout and panic.

The US government is a low risk borrower so it can attract some of the idle capital. Since its credit rating is still good, the treasury can borrow at low rates (3-4% is a far lower rate than the expected rate of return of the market which is about 10%).

If the money is pent in a way that makes sure of future growth then the future taxpayers will be capable of paying it back.

As for the short term stimulus, let's not forget that this kind of a project can work. Remember Kirkorian's stimulus project in Armenia? His gift of infrastructure improvements like the Dilijan tunnel or road improvements single handedly made Armenia a 'regional tiger' as Oskanian put it.

Shiva said...

Armen, you should tune into PBS- The News Hour with Jim Lehrer beats CBS, NBC, ABC, et al. Though they've also been reporting extensively on the stimulus package.

Okay, so Jim Lehrer is not stud muffin Anderson Cooper and his program does not feature broadcast belles like Campbell Brown or Katie Couric, but it's better than most news shows.

Armen Filadelfiatsi said...

I get much of my news from Democracy Now. Nothing else compares.

But, yeah, the McNeal/Lehrer News Hour is good, too, except they subscribe to this, in my view, unimaginative, offensively positive, kind-of-left-leaning rhetoric that mildly, but consistently, annoys me. It's like Norman Rockwell meets the news. I get the feeling that if the world blew up, Lehrer would report it with the same type of slightly chipper delivery that he uses for everything: "The world blew up today..."

Plus, the ladies that write for the essay/commentary portion of the hour are totally retarded. They always go for an educated, sophisticated tone, and they always miss and sound like a nicer, kinder, liberal version of Sarah Palin. They sometimes even go off on these rants about themselves, as if anyone gives a fuck that they prefer Michal Jackson's dancing, on account of its "raw energy," to his singing.

But, again, I agree that McNeal/Lehrer is much better than the mainstream media. The problem is that PBS isn't what it used to be: It has turned into a corporate tool to an alarming degree, and many of its shows are just fluffy bullshit meant for the menopausal market.