The Fourth four years later: Nothing’s changed

As I predicted four years ago on the Fourth of July, little has changed. This year’s fireworks and barbecues offer only a brief respite from the problems of the nation, how they are worsening, and how those who are supposed to address them remain mere chanters of their respective ideologies.

Four years ago, I predicted that the cost of federal elections would continue to rise, that the role of money would increase dramatically. I did not predict — or even dream it could happen — the outcome of the Supremes’ consideration of Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission that deepened the hole in which corporate money could hide while paying for “electioneering communications.”

Sadly, I did not predict that more than 30,000 journalists would lose their jobs in the past four years, lessening the ability of the press to hold government accountable. To me, corporations are now essentially the American government; more journalists, not fewer, trained in the same accounting chicanery that allowed Enron to flourish, are necessary to hold corporate government accountable, too.

In fact, at some print entities, so many journalists have lost jobs (while top execs have enjoyed multi-million-dollar compensation) that it makes me wonder if they continue to deserve protection under the First Amendment. At what point does a news organization’s dedication to maintaining a profit margin trump the public service mission of journalism?

Four years ago I wrote:

It’d be nice if, by July 4, 2011, health care had become more equitable and affordable, if more school children had become competent critical thinkers, if more women had received equitable pay, if climate change had slowed, if voting had become fraud-proof, equitable and honest, if no more Americans had died in Iraq, all because President X had done something. But he or she will have been too busy raising money.

Has any of that happened? Even with the health-care reform the law of the land? About 42 states and the District of Columbia have faced $103 billion in shortfalls for the coming fiscal 2012. Minnesota has shut down for the second time in six years because its leaders cannot agree on how to close a $5 billion budget hole. They are stuck in the ideological version of children proclaiming, “He did it.” “No, he did it.” Sheesh.

So President X of Party A or Party B will be preoccupied with what officeholders have always been preoccupied with — obtaining power and retaining power. And he or she will know where to turn for help in paying the campaign bills.

Enjoy your Fourth of July, people. But Tuesday we return to the misery and madness that politicians have wreaked on us for the past four years.

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