The Propaganda Machine

So, I spent the day watching Live 8, not because I particularly cared… mainly because Jenna was there, and it was the closest thing I could do next to actually being there with her.

But the whole thing got me thinking. They were throwing numbers around like it was no big deal.

For instance, they said “Did you know it would only take 7 cents on every dollar from the 8 richest countries in the world to eliminate poverty?”

Let’s think about what that actually means for a second. First of all, let’s point out the obvious, which I’m sure many people didn’t think about. Currently, 100 cents on every dollar are already being spent on something. So right off the bat, we have two choices… cut current things, or raise taxes.

The tax option is terrible. We pay plenty of taxes already. Cutting is not as simple as it sounds, and that’s coming from a card-carrying Republican. What are we going to cut? National defense is probably what most of the Live 8 attendees would say. Somehow, I tend to think the government’s primary responsibility is to protect its citizens. I’d be willing to cut other programs, for instance welfare… but I certainly wouldn’t condone cutting social programs in America to fund social programs in other countries.

The fundamental problem is, whatever you suggest cutting, there will be about 50% of the population that doesn’t want it cut. In a democracy, that means that everything stays.

But there’s another problem… one that wasn’t really addressed at all by the Live 8 propaganda machine. No matter how much money we pour into Africa and other poverty-stricken countries, it will not fix the things that caused the poverty in the first place. If we look at Africa, it’s clear that tribalism and religious conflicts are a deep-rooted problem. What you end up with is one group oppressing another, taking their rights, until another group knocks them off the top of the hill, and then the process starts again.

There is always a group with the power and the money, and everyone else is poor. So we send them tons of money, do you honestly think anyone that needs it is actually going to get it? Or is it more likely that money will not fix the problems.

In America, we started with an idea, and we spent 200 years trying to figure out how to make it work. We still have problems that are humongous, but we’ve taken the entire journey from rebellion, to increasing people’s freedoms and rights. Our very system is what allows us to be so incredibly rich. Without the system, earned by the sweat and blood of Americans, we would be living in poverty ourselves.

The midwest used to be known as the “Great American Desert” and today, it’s known as the “Bread basket of the World.” That didn’t happen on accident, and it didn’t happen because other wealthy countries came in and gave us help. It happened because we agreed that everyone in this country could have freedom and a voice.

Without changing their system, Africa has no chance of eliminating poverty. The example of a system that works already exists in several countries around the world. But we can’t do it for them. They have to do it for themselves or it won’t ever be knitted into the fabric of the country, as it is in America.

This is exactly the reason that our interference in the Middle East will ultimately fail. The example is there for them to learn from, but ultimately, it has to be done by choice, not at gunpoint. Most of the Middle East is Muslim, which is a religion that teaches certain things which I believe prevent the people from rising up and choosing freedom. As pointed out in a previous comment thread, “Islam” means “Submission.”

Submission and Freedom cannot coexist. Every country must find their own way to freedom. It cannot be done for them.


  29 comments for “The Propaganda Machine

  1. July 2, 2005 at 6:34 pm

    After an eight hour day in the thick of Live 8, I can say I agree AND disagree with you.
    …But I mostly agree.
    …And I’d like to state for the record: Jay-Z did NOT deserve how many more songs than The Kaiser Cheifs he got. 😉

  2. Rik
    July 2, 2005 at 8:53 pm

    I read an article from a prominet Muslim cleric (translated) and the gist i got from it is that democracy is viewed as a form of worship. Giving humans freedom to rule themselves goes against their submission to God. It is therefore, sacrilegious (sp)to espouse democracy. I’m afraid that we are going to fail in Iraq. (and i wholly support our actions there) Hard-core Muslims will not be democratic, ever. I am saddened by this.

  3. July 2, 2005 at 9:56 pm

    Thanks for the breakdown on that Incredipete. I knew if anybody could break it down and explain it for me it would be you and you did not disappoint. Thanks for the insight. Lots of people had lots of good things to say today and some things I also disagreed with. You are my favorite political geek!

  4. July 2, 2005 at 11:46 pm

    Aww, you’re too sweet, Joey! Rik, I agree with you wholeheartedly. It’s sad, but I fear there isn’t much chance for them to experience freedom.

  5. Wen
    July 3, 2005 at 1:49 am

    I totally ignored “Lie-8” today. Which I think is funny, because 20 years ago (less about 10 days) I was in Paris with my friends, desperately trying to figure out how to get to London and go to Live Aid. We didn’t succeed getting there. And we haven’t succeeded in making Afica a better place for africans.
    I never thought I’d say it, but I agree with you Incredipete. The continent is too vast, too corrupt politically, too un-educated, and too poor to ever make great strides in OUR lifetime. However, it doesn’t mean that we should stop caring or sending aid. We can afford to help, but we can’t force change.

  6. Wen
    July 3, 2005 at 1:51 am

    “Afica” I really gotta cut my fingernails, I can’t even type anymore.

    Or it could be that I was playing code monkey today. Or monkeying around with code. Anyway, I’m all moved in. I’m not sure when I’ll update, though. I am SO sick of looking at my diary it’s not funny…

  7. July 3, 2005 at 9:17 am

    Well said, Incredipete.

  8. July 3, 2005 at 3:11 pm

    Hear ye, Hear ye!! By the way, I link-whored your forum in my blog comments.

  9. July 3, 2005 at 5:38 pm

    Thanks, DK!

  10. HRT
    July 4, 2005 at 11:59 am

    I find it funny when people who have more money than god (a gross hyperbole mind you, seeing as God owns everything) think that if they can just get enough other people with “lots-o-cash” together and throw some of that “lots-o-cash” at the problem then everything will be fixed. I mean, why not, most of the people, especially in the entertainment business, at one time, usually in the not so distant past, were once poor. Name almost any major star and you can usually trace their personal history back to one of, if not abject poverty, certainly not significant riches (Paris Hilton excluded). So naturally these people think, “well gee my life sucked when I was poor, but now that I have money everything is wonderful, poor people should have more money, then they can all be as happy as I am!”

    People are short-sighted, they think that success, happiness and contentment is a destination to be given to everyone. What these people lack is the wisdom to realize its not the destination that brings true joy its the hard work and sacrifice that one develops in the journey itself that builds the character to sustain success.

  11. July 4, 2005 at 12:10 pm

    Incredibly eloquent, as always, Todd!

  12. July 4, 2005 at 12:15 pm

    There was a concert? Well Fuck I missed that all to hell. So We want to end poverty? Why is that? If we get rid of poverty who will clean the sewer lines and pick my lettuce? I don’t want to be harsh here but really we would have no janitors, no field workers, 1/2 as much recycled aluminum cans, and the thirft stores would never get rid of all of the left shoes that they somehow collect.

    So end poverty? And take away all of the hopes and dreams of some poor immigrant? I think not. Live in the now, and relish in the fact we have a caste system in place that allows us to have hopes and dreams that are just this side of reachable.

    Now would someone please fetch me a cocktail, I feel a little parched…Oh Boy, Garcion??!! Gin and Tonic please.

  13. July 4, 2005 at 12:15 pm

    I wish somebody would throw money at me. I’d rather be rich and miserable than poor and miserable. 😉

  14. July 4, 2005 at 7:37 pm

    What about the poor and hungry in the States? Why can’t the American musicians throw some money at them?

  15. July 5, 2005 at 8:36 am

    Because it’s not “hip” to worry about Americans.

  16. July 5, 2005 at 8:43 am

    GODDAMNIT!! I left a fucking comment like two days ago and the little fucker isn’t here!! I was on a good rant too!

    Here was the gist of it!

    We cannot aboloish poverty! in doing so we would crush the hopes and dreams of man yan immigrant! We all know that eveyone wants to come to America and work for scut wages and do shit work while they are searching for the American dream! Who is going to bus our tabless, clean the grease traps and pick the lettuce if we don’t have poor people around to do it for us? I mean really. We have become a service nation. We don’t build anything anymore, we just providse all of the manufacturing countrys with middle men who get paid to sit on their fat asses and shuffle papers. And since this is the way we have decided to steer our country politically and economically we are not allowed to aboliosh poverty or our society will fall. It is already on the slippery slope to ruin, I blame the unions, who’s time has come and gone, and if we continue wanting to co-exisit with the rest of the world, we need the poor to help keep America thriving. So keep the dream alive and keep on making more money so poor people have someone to look up to. Well look up to and do all of the work us Americans refuse to do because it is beneath us…or so we think.

    I am still waiting patiently for the nuclear war I was promised in Mad Max to wipe out everything but the cockroaches and refineries.

  17. July 5, 2005 at 8:44 am

    Does this not work for me?

  18. July 5, 2005 at 8:45 am

    Mother fuck! I tried twice to post something long and thought provoking and it didn’t go up twice!!! FUCK THIS NOISE!!

  19. July 5, 2005 at 9:12 am

    Apparently it’s working. Please, share with the group.

  20. July 5, 2005 at 12:55 pm

    I was just saying how we couldn’t afford to get rid of poverty because no one would do all of the shit work that we as Americans refuse to do. And that whereas it isn’t everyones dreams to clean up the shit of rich Americans there are plenty of people out there in 3rd world squalor that think picking lettuce for a living is infinitely better then taking a machete to the skull. That and since the American government has changeed the good ole USA into a “service oriented” country and not a manufacturing country like we used to be, we have created a country of middlemen.

    We don’t make anything, we don’t produce anything,except an abundance of food, that we share for a price and just so we can keep the prices at a point that makes every farmer live on the brink of poverty, doing a job most people won’t, we are hated world wide. We also let anyone into the country that wants to we have a continous supply of poor people who have hopes and dreams of living free, and raising their kids better off then they had it.

    So by eliminating poverty we kill off the whole socio-economic relationship we have strived to create for 229 years. Keep the poor, ditch the unions. If we aren’t making anything they don’t need jobs! make them go back to school or cleaning out the porta-pottys at all of the dumb ass live 8 concerts.

  21. HRT
    July 5, 2005 at 1:08 pm

    Jesus said that you will always have the poor with you (Mt. 26:11) and I think that is far more profound than most people realize. There are many poor who have the means to change their station, just not the desire to do so. Meaning that of the numerous poor people and nations many of them COULD be better off but are unwilling to make the change. Yes, some are literally unable to change, but some will never produce more than they consume.

    One of the reasons Americans are so envied and dispised at the same time is because we do consume alot, but we also do produce much, from the technology that makes furtile fields out of arid deserts to the transportation vehicles that span the globe, to the life-saving medications that have improved life expectancy around the world. It is true that to whom much is given much is required, I believe the great prophet Stan Lee said “With great power comes great responsibility” but even if the U.S. is doing 30% wrong, the other 70% we do good improves the lives of millions of people every day.

    Just because 2 lives are different one harder one “easier” does not mean that the one is necessarily better.

  22. July 5, 2005 at 4:52 pm

    Baby?? Did you make my name show up as IncrediJennaIncredipete on my comment thread or did I????

  23. July 5, 2005 at 6:13 pm

    Jesus is a myth.

  24. HRT
    July 5, 2005 at 9:36 pm

    that’s okay Jesus doesn’t believe in you either.

  25. July 5, 2005 at 11:02 pm

    Jesus LOVES you… everybody else thinks you’re a jerk … AND Jesus SAVES… just not on my salary.

  26. July 6, 2005 at 8:17 am

    I never said I didn’t believe in Jesus, I said he was a myth. I’m sure there was a guy 2000 + years ago named Jesus and he may have been quite the deep thinker. What I’m saying is the life of Jesus as cronicled by man is almost fiction. Very mythical. I tend to lean to a more fact, less faith, based reality. Only because I’m on te gravy train to hell. Now I’m not on the hell express like the guy who shot the pope or the child molesters, but I sincerely think that doing good on this plane of exsistence is just a pre-curser to a final destination that makes this lifetime seem like Heaven. And unless you have a completely different view of Heaven then most of the populace…this aint it.

  27. July 6, 2005 at 9:57 am

    *Jesus looks down at us; chuckles and shakes his head*

  28. July 6, 2005 at 10:23 am

    I don’t think Jesus would like being part of the conversation in terms of why we don’t help ourselves or other countries.

  29. July 6, 2005 at 12:42 pm

    The world will always need people to be generous to those who are less fortunate, and the world will always have people who take advantage of those willing to be generous. As far as Live 8 is concerned, I equate it to one of those timeshare vacation upsells. I’ll put up with the puling of pop stars who make more in a year than I have so far in my life, acting like I’M the one who should be giving away my money, just to watch Pink Floyd play together again. Oh, hell yes I will.

    And Mister Incredipete, thanks for the redirect code. I’ll use it eventually, but my Dland membership is paid up for quite a while yet, so I’ll be taking my sweet sweet time moving my archives over to blogger.

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