Again, the past two days worth of news that was fit to print was just a blur to me. I guess the main sub-plot that has my attention on this soap opera version of the media is Iraq. The rest is just dust in the wind to me.
As you may have guessed if you were following along with my little experiment, I am pretty disappointed in the New York Times’ war coverage. Of course, I have been disappointed in the war coverage since 2002, when the ruling junta in the U.S. started banging the drums of war and the MSM only helped set up the amplifiers. Now, since I am trapped with only the NYTs to read because of my own dumb little experiment, deconstructing the war coverage in the Times is becoming something of a hobby to pass the time.
Today’s edition continued with more spectacular coverage.
There was a military story that made the front page today. Hoo-ah! But, sadly it was not the war we are continuing to fight. Today’s front page story dealt with an uproar over plans to close Air National Guard bases in the U.S. The war coverage sank again to pages 12 and 13, where it normally resides in the world’s greatest paper, in the world’s greatest country.
On page 13, we learn about more U.S. deaths. I think today’s (or two days ago, or whatever) death toll was five military personnel. If they could just break double digits again, the Times would surely move the story to page one. But, what is five anymore, other than 0.273% of the total fatalities to U.S. soldiers, if you believe the official count of 1,830.
But my favorite story of the day is on page 12. I guess you would classify this one as the “winning the peace” story. Here is the gist of it, as I understand it (and I would be happy to defer to those learned economists on dKos and Booman if I get this wrong). Apparently, under Saddam’s evil rule, something like one-third of the budget went to subsidize free food for everyone and super low gas and oil prices. That’s right. It appears that under the evil madman, the government was trying to feed people and ensure they had access to the major energy supply.
Of course, after the invasion by Haliburton, er, I mean the U.S., this policy became completely unthinkable. Iraq’s new finance minister proposed to eliminate these horrible subsidies, guided I am quite sure by advisors from the Western system of global capitalism. It is bad for your economy to subsidize food and energy for your population, I believe their argument would go. Saddam was only doing it in order to control the dissatisfied people, I would imagine the supporters of global capitalism would say.
But Iraq’s present cabinet has disagreed with the finance ministers proposal. Now is not the right time for the change, they say. They understand that these changes will be necessary in order for Iraq to become a good cog in the global corporate system, I think, but they are very afraid that the poor and starving masses might revolt if they were not fed and provided with low fuel costs.
It almost sounds to me, that in this instance, Saddam actually had something right. I know it is unpopular to advocate for a brutal tyrant. After all, his ouster is the reason we went to war, isn’t it? Well, maybe not, if memory serves. But, anyway, it is hard to advocate for him or his government. But, maybe – just maybe – his government’s policy of addressing the needs of the people – all people – in this one small regard is kind of more democratic than the system that generated this tyrannical war in the first place. I know Saddam’s means in coming to this plan were probably far from democratic. I have no reason to ascribe to him a happy motive in coming to these levels of subsidizing the needs of people. But, in one sense the subsidies are truly democratic. It seems the people like them. And, it seems the installed leadership is afraid to remove them for fear of mass unrest. If only the poor and needy in America were as spoiled to expect some minimum level of subsistence in this world. Maybe we could proudly hold our blue-inked thumbs for the cameras one day, too.