Fear Itself

Being wiped out with pneumonia the last week, I found myself without the energy to do much work, or even read much.  So, you know, did what you do, watched too much crappy TV.  Sports: that Montana v. Idaho State game was a barnburner!  Bunch of Dog Eat Dog re-runs.  And while I was at it, I watched some Fox News. My son tells me that he watches a ton of it, because it’s on 24-7 where he works, so thought I’d check it out.  Like I said: felt crappy, watched crappy TV.

What struck me, aside for Fox’s nearly endless supply of attractive young blonde conservative women, was this: they’re seriously afraid.  Wow, are they afraid.  Of course they’re all about the ‘debt crisis.’ I love the ominous tone they strike: “Economies collapse slowly . . . then all at once.”  And they love various little anecdotal parable-like stories.

Greece!  We’re turning into Greece!  If Greece didn’t exist, Fox News would have to invent it, but fortunately for them, we do have Greece, everyone’s favorite morality tale of profligacy and waste and corruption.  See Greece is a country!  With an economy!  And we’re also a country!  Also with an economy!  We’re exactly the same!

Yeah, and Justin Verlander and my neighbor’s twelve-year-old in Little League are both pitchers. And there’s no qualitative difference between Lionel Messi and these kids.  Exactly the same. Kicking a ball with their feet.

So on Fox, they’ve got all these ads for gold.  Gold! The one investment that never loses value!  The one thing that will survive the complete collapse of the US economy!  Buy gold!

I really don’t get it.  Gold is a commodity, like any other commodity, traded internationally, as subject to the vagaries of supply and demand as anything else.  Those constant ads on Fox–juxtaposed against very serious looking talking heads blathering on about the coming apocalypse–are just guys who seem to have a business model that apparently includes artificially increasing demand for their commodity.  Make some money off old scared white people. But the world hasn’t been on a gold standard since the Great Depression finally convinced everyone that maybe a little more flexible monetary policy than gold allowed for might give the Fed some tools to prevent another catastrophe.

Plus, the commercials.  Okay, my daughter and wife and I have been known, on occasion, to watch The Price is Right.  What can I say: Drew Carey is even better than Bob Barker.  But when you watch a show like that, you also get to watch the commercials, and you can tell what demographic they’re pitched at.  Ads for lift chairs.  Ads for those stair elevator things.  Ads for Dentu-creme and baldness remedies.  For fecal incontinence products.  Okay, I admit, I use a lift chair.  But I’m not old!  I’m not!  Get off my lawn, kids!

Well, Fox News ads skew even older than that.

So I’m a geezer.  I guess.  Don’t really feel like one, apart from the memory loss and constant joint pain.  But what I am is an optimist.  I feel hopeful. Maybe absurdly so, but I do.

I really have become convinced, that this last election was between hope and fear, and hope won.  Everything about the anti-Obama rhetoric was so extreme. He’s a socialist.  He’s a Moslem (which means in league with terrorists).  He’s anti-American.  Vote for Obama and you vote for the End.  Of America.  Of everything.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets Facebook posts like this one:

The democrat party has been taken over by extreme left radical socialist “progressives” who want to dramatically change our country to a top-down, authoritarian regime, where all aspects of our lives will be decided by bureaucrats in Washington. The ideas held by Obama and the other communist-leaning politicians have been tried before, and they fail every time. Have you not read history to see that this is true? Where do you find your faith to believe in a system that demands more and more from the hard working, to give to people who are fully capable of working, but choose not to? You don’t see any flaws in a system like that? You don’t see that this mentality has bankrupted cities and states who have followed this model for years, being run exclusively by democrats?

And I don’t know how to respond to any of that, except just to say, ‘come on.  Stop.  You’re making a fool of yourself.  You have to know that none of that’s true.’

But then I think of a time when things were really bad, where it really did seem as though capitalism itself had failed, when it really looked like our economy had collapsed entirely, when we wondered if it would ever right itself.  When we looked internationally, and saw, instead of pathetic Greece, actual terror, Germany in the hands of a madman, Italy under the control of vicious fascist buffoons.  And what happened?  Great men stepped to the fore.  Churchill.  Roosevelt.  Keynes.  And the right things were said and the right things were done.  And our current prosperity is built on their genius.



One thought on “Fear Itself

  1. David

    I work in an office that is extremely conservative… at least on my half of the office. I hear on a daily basis the unsupported fears that are propagated through Fox and other super conservative “news” sources. It drives me nuts!

    Seriously, fear tactics of Republican party are just getting old.


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