I don't often agree with Frank Rich of the New York Times. In fact I don't often agree with any one at the Times, even any of the so-called conservatives since Saffire retired. But Rich's column called "Is Obama Punking Us?" has elements that are hard to argue with.
Here I offer some red meat from Rich's column for you to chew on-
...this mood isn’t just about the banks, Public Enemy No. 1. What the Great Recession has crystallized is a larger syndrome that Obama tapped into during the campaign. It’s the sinking sensation that the American game is rigged ...What disturbs Americans of all ideological persuasions is the fear that almost everything, not just government, is fixed or manipulated by some powerful hidden hand, from commercial transactions as trivial as the sales of prime concert tickets to cultural forces as pervasive as the news media ...It’s a cynicism confirmed almost daily by events.
He's right. Every day, in every way I feel this undercurrent as well. I do not believe that the average business - the super market, the home improvement store, the local bank or even the dreaded and presumably evil gas station are part of some grand conspiracy to rip us off in every possible way. Nor do I believe that the average government bloke desires to dictate the terms and conditions of my daily life. But I do believe that powerful global/corporate and government interests have rigged the game of life the way the casino rigs the slot machines - the house always wins.
We are not fools out here in the real world but in many ways we are powerless. If we withhold our money, saving instead of spending, like is happening right now, then we and our friends and neighbors will lose our jobs. It's not like our direct bosses are making out much better - many of them lose their businesses or get laid off too. Somehow the the well connected on Wall Street and in the Halls of Congress make out just fine. What is this system? What they do can't be called capitalism - it's something perverse and rancid. It's not socialism either...
Honestly the elected politicians, the lobbyists (many former Congressmen among them) and the corporations they represent don't care a whit about political or even economic theory. They will get theirs regardless of what political or economic system stands before them.
Those on the left convince themselves that it's greedy corporations that rig the system and government is too weak and too timid to do much about it. Many on the right run with the mantra that government itself is the cause of so many of the problems that face our economy and our culture with its insatiable appetite for power and control. News flash! They're both right...
Who writes the tax laws and the rules that practically invite American corporations to ship jobs overseas - who shirks the responsibility of protecting our borders and guaranteeing that foreign workers are legitimate? Not the corporations. Who hires lobbyists, pays off political campaigns and blackmails municipalities for favorable tax loop holes until it they don't need it any more and close up shop - culling jobs - anyway? Not the government.
Even if a politician loses an election he has usually set himself up and become so well connected that his future is assured. When a CEO fails miserably he is still handed a going away present that should make him embarrassed. Yes, Frank the fix is in, the system is rigged.
But I think Mr. Rich's column was about more than just golden parachutes and comfortable ex-politicians. Yes, he tries to be political, tossing barbs at Bush and there's even a bit of uncharacteristic ridicule for Obama, but he taps into the sentiment that some greater force (not necessarily a large force) is channeling events into funnel that only a select few can access on the other end. The unseen hand that holds the marionette strings connected to Obama is the same one that manipulated Bush and every president before him. Or is it an ultra exclusive club that presidents get a membership pass to?
If not the Free Masons then perhaps the Bildeburgers. History is littered with grand conspiracy theories. These make great fodder for blockbuster movies and Internet lore, but can there possibly be anything to it? What possible purpose does a continual cycle of war, destruction, peace and prosperity, feast and famine, good times and bad serve? The short answer of course is money. But is money enough when obviously the unseen hand has more money than it knows what to do with? It can't just be money, can it? Is it just about power and ego?
If presidents get inclusion to the club why would they ever allow themselves to be treated the way Bush was treated, the way Clinton was treated - the way Obama will be treated eventually? It makes no sense. History is a their reward - not money. These are men of spectacular ego's - and the presidency is often called the most powerful position in the world. So either presidents are on the outside engaged in a shadow war against the unseen hand (and losing) or it isn't about money, power or ego.
I have always had a hard time accepting conspiracies on such a massive scale primarily because coordinating men with money, power and ego is like herding cats - damn near impossible...