Chicago nearly went bankrupt in 1930. New York nearly went bankrupt in 1975. But states have bailed out cities and the federal government has bailed out states. When there isn’t enough money to keep the dysfunctional political machine built on corruption and subsidies going, there’s always some larger entity to foot the bill.
The problem with this current government is that it’s operating at the federal level and there is no longer any larger entity to foot the bill. All the shopworn radicalism, the cries about making the rich pay their fair share, are old hat. The rich and the upper middle-class can pay more, but there’s no amount of money that will cover a government that spends money as if there is no tomorrow.
That is the lesson that has yet to be learned from the cities whose dysfunctional politics have been transplanted to the national government. Along with the politics has come the grievance mob, the outrage machine, the outpourings of self-righteousness, the class warfare fought by corrupt pols and the rest of the bread and circuses show that has blighted the American city for a century and a half.
Grievance Theater isn’t about race, it’s not about slavery, police brutality or separate lunch counters. It’s about power and money. Black politicians are not fundamentally different from white ones. They have more in common with their white colleagues than they do with their own communities. The only difference is that they are playing with the race cards they have been dealt.
The ghetto didn’t evolve naturally; it was created through a web of national and local government regulations that played with real estate, social welfare, voting districts and the manufacturing sector to achieve the desired results. We don’t have to have ghettos; we have them because at one point they were convenient for a number of political interests and because they were the unintended side-effect of urban socialist policies.
The ghetto farms black communities for votes and more importantly for subsidies. For every dollar that is taken to help minorities, a penny goes to the problem and ninety-nine cents goes to the hucksters, the administrators, the bureaucrats, the wives of influential pols hired on massive salaries to oversee some aspect of the program, the experts who monitor compliance, the affirmative action contractors who charge four times as much to build a school or provide meals, the unions who have the exclusive right to service the program, the slumlords who administer affordable housing and finally the politicians who have the money kicked back to them by all of the above.
When you look closely at where the school property tax money goes, why health care is so expensive and why so much money has to be spent on housing, a big chunk of it goes here. It’s the hole in our budget ozone layer and it can never be filled, because it is designed never to be filled. For a sizable number of influential people, both black and white, the black community’s social problems are a cash cow. The grievance theater is their way of collecting protection money and making sure that no one pays too much attention to what’s really wrong.
The problem isn’t limited to the black community. The same phenomenon crosses over different minority communities and some white ones as well, but the race card is still the best card in the deck. It carries too many emotional triggers, too much guilt and too much hope not to use it over and over again. The moral power of the civil rights movement still isn’t exhausted as long as hopeful white people smile at the sight of a black man in the White House as if his political power testified to their innocence.
But the power can only be retained through constant indoctrination in the rituals of guilt, through repetitions of the grievance theater which reminds us that national bankruptcy is a small price to pay for peace, that we will be better people and a better nation if we vote for Obama against our own economic interests. Grievance Theater takes many forms, but its elemental form is the street production that the Trayvon Martin case has brought us.
Grievance Theater, like light-hearted musicals, is one of those forms that work best when the economy is bad and everyone has trouble making ends meet. But while people voluntarily go to see musicals, or at least they used to, they have to be dragged to attend the latest grievance theater, the production numbers broadcast live on CNN and MSNBC, the programs printed in every paper that still hasn’t gone out of business, and breathless announcements of the latest developments broadcast in between Dunkin’ Donuts commercials.
The local productions of grievance theater have gone national and we are all compelled to watch it play out. No matter what happens to George Zimmerman or what we learn about Trayvon Martin, the people of this country have been turned into unwilling participants in a national drama that places a distorted idea of race at the center of our identity for the benefit of the same hucksters and politicians who have destroyed our cities and are hard at work destroying the country.
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