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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Privatize Everything ... But Information

I was recently listening to Jim Lehrer (at least I think it was the News Hour) and they had a point-counterpoint about the recent New York Times article which disclosed the Bush Administration's "covert" activities relating to bank records. The Editor of the Times even bothered to justify himself. The Bush administration did what any fascist government does when challenged by the press: it treats the press as traitors who are threatening "National Security."

I'm relatively certain that if you read this blog, I don't need to convince you of the frightening overtones and slippery slope that the Bush Administration's argument contains. Nonetheless, there was a talking point I found so particularly hilarious and insidious, I just had to mention it.

During the News Hour, the pro-Bush guest (excuse me if I can't remember his name) that the New York Times is a "for profit" entity and therefore made this decision in order to sell newspapers. How dare they, he said, put their own profit above the security of the United States. I'm sure if this was said once, it will be repeated again and again. Republicans are nothing if not automated to stay "on message."

What is stunning about this argument is that the Bush administration is a firm believer in the market to regulate things like health care, social security, the environment, schools and prisons. It believes the basic social infrastructure is best left to for-profit enterprises. He's farmed out half the war effort to private contractors (I won't say Halliburton, whoops), he's pushed privatization across the board. Even Vouchers for Private Schools, which are, in fact, charging for the right to earn an education.

Amazing, therefore, to claim that the Press having a profit-margin somehow means they cannot be trusted. If anything, the press living and dying by its journalistic impact makes sense (the idea that people will read well-written journalism notwithstanding). It makes far more sense than a state-controlled (or even approved) Press. It makes far more sense than a profit-margin attached to AIDs medication in the Third World, or leaving environmental controls up to an industry that's eyes are on their bottom line.

Truthfully, though, after all this time, it's become imperative to stop responding to the arguments being made, and to start responding to the reason behind the arguments. The Bush Administration and its supporters do not make consistent statements and their talking points shift expediently. When these massive contradictions appear, they indicate that those in the opposition must attack the meaning, not the "message."

The Republican Party's consistent message is that questioning them is akin to apostasy.

It believes that all things should be controlled by large, for-profit corporations, except the most valuable commodity of all...information.

They won't say those words, and no one can make them. But that is exactly what they mean.

5 comments:

Lucas Krech said...

It's curious. I had always thought living in a fascist state would *feel different* somehow. Everything just goes on the same as always, except your voice can not be heard, or have any impact.

Jamespeak said...

Pete and I remembered watching some talking head on TV a couple years back (I absolutely can't remember who said this) that what this administration has gotten right where other totalitarian states haven't is that, where other totalitarian governments have banned or limited art, this administration is saying, "Let the people have their subversive art," thereby allowing us to keep our soabpoxes, just making them irrelevant.

Sigh...

Scott Walters said...

I agree with Lucas -- we are living in a totalitarian state. Totalitarianism has always been based on fear and "security," which is used to justify the curtailment of freedom. Next step: watch the Republicans ressurrect the image of FDR and push for a third term for Bush because of the "war on terror."

Jamespeak said...

Fortunately, Scott, our dear Dubya's approval ratings are in the toilet, so the odds of getting enough support for trying to go for a third term (as Nixon once hoped for) or be granted "emergency powers" aren't too high (although before the 2004 election I was absolutely convinced they were going to try some sort of election postponement and, for a while, they were trying for it).

Joshua James said...

Craziness - they blame the media but not those leaking to the media - funny when you think how they thought the outing of Plame was no big deal, but the fact that the government is breaking the fourth amendment gets reported is endangering the lives of soldiers, such bullhocky -

Speaking of men in uniform, I stumbled across an interesting person - posted him in the dojo, matt - check it out -