“Human Beings are not Commodities”

If you haven’t read Chris Hedges’ “America’s Democratic Address,” a lecture he gave at Furman University on May 28, then I’d encourage you to check it out.  Hedges gave the lecture as part of the protests organized by faculty and students at Furman over George W. Bush’s commencement address, and the lecture is bracing reminder of the terrible effects of the corporatization of the United States government.   More than anything, Hedges challenges the “Potemkin statistics” that create the illusion of economic growth when the reality is, of course, far different.  True unemployment and underemployment numbers, to name one example, are actually much higher than official numbers suggest.  While Hedges is far more critical of the Bush administration, he’s similarly critical of Bill Clinton’s support and promotion of NAFTA.  But in general, Hedges offers a chilling reminder of the human consequences of economic deregulation and of the increased concentration of power in the executive branch of the government.

There’s also quite a bit here about the degradation of political discourse.  Something I completely missed until now was Hedges’ reminder that ambulance-chasing gossip show TMZ and Pat Robertson’s 700 Club have both been recognized by the FCC as “bona fide newscasts,” exempting them from political equal-time requirements.  There’s obviously some history here.  Entertainment Tonight received bona fide newscast status in 1988 (under the Reagan administration). While there seem to be plenty of information sources out there, it’s worth noting that a vast majority of the American public gets its information (about politics, about the economy) from TV, as Josh Silver points out, so these distinctions still matter.

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