September 17, 2008

Crisis Mode?

NPR reported today on the contributions dealt out to both the Obama and McCain campaigns from the same Wall St. firms. "Candidates Biting the Hand that Feeds Them?" mentions Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs as just three firms which have hedged their bets by giving to both candidates. While "double-giving" is not exactly new, (Lockheed Martin has contributed to both parties for decades,) it has also been reported that both 2008 Conventions were similarly sponsored heavily by AT&T, Visa, Pfizer, and Object Video. Even the owner of the Washington Capitols spread a little wealth around. Democracy Now! did a segment in July on how the Conventions were paid for.

Americans do not so much elect individuals with mandates or plans but figureheads - walking , breathing advertisements even - for various lobbying interests which surely "compete" against each other but only within the narrow constraints drawn up by high-powered lawyers and bureaucrats on behalf of a corporate plutocracy. Advertising is crucial to constructing brand identity. The more spin doctors can convince the public that a product is qualitatively distinct from its competitor the less likely will the public go for the competitive brand. So just because you may see an elephant and a jackass calling each other names on television does not mean either one of them cares much about you at all nor even listens to you.

If the financial institutions go bust what would the effects be for the political debate? Are we in crisis mode yet? Would we even admit it if we were?

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