Much of what passes for politics these days is symbolic. Anyone who studies the issue of illegal immigration concludes that the solution lies not in building $10 billion walls but in changing the incentive structure of citizenship, legal and illegal immigration. As long as successfully crossing the border enables access to free healthcare, education and sanctuary and the potential for cash work–the equivalent of winning the lottery for those with none of these benefits–walls will be tunneled under, overflown or bypassed by sea.
The Trump Administration’s proposed policies on tariffs, walls to stop illegal immigration, etc. are defended as symbolic gestures–in other words, their value is in communicating “things have changed”, not actually solving the problems facing the nation.
On the other side of the spectrum, protests in defense of a corrupt, failed status quo are also symbolic. No thinking person can claim that the status-quo policies on illegal immigration are fair, just or functional; how is letting illegal immigrants “jump the queue” ahead of the hundreds of thousands of legal immigrants who have labored patiently for years, paying all the outrageous costs of navigating the Kafkaesque complexities of legal immigration fair or just?
Protesting in defense of a racket-based status quo fixes nothing and solves nothing. Protests are also purely symbolic: the indignant express their indignation, gather to support a corrupt, venal system of rackets and then go home to stroke their egos on social media: I struck a blow today for… a corrupt system of rackets that enrich self-serving vested interests and privileged elites.
Dear Trump insiders and protesters: did either of you propose a real solution to the college debt-serfdom racket? No, you didn’t. Your symbolic gesture was nothing but a fix-nothing farce. If you think a trillion dollars of debt to pay for mostly worthless credentials is sustainable, fair, just or functional, you’re willfully blind to the ugly reality: higher education is just another cartel-state racket:
As Jim Kunstler as often observed, the status quo in the U.S. is nothing but an interconnected network of rackets run by protected technocrats to benefit a plutocracy of wealthy insiders and their political-class lackeys. These rackets–higher education, healthcare, defense weaponry, the corporate media, and on and on–are nothing but institutionalized extortion, embezzlement and fraud, systems that enrich the top 5% at the expense of the bottom 95%:
Dear protesters and Trump insiders: do either of you understand that the whole tragi-comedy of rackets passing for politics is a house of cards that depends on ever-expanding debt? Once the debt bubble pops, the rackets implode, and the real value of symbolic politics–zero– will be revealed.
The farce of symbolic politics fixes nothing. Solutions are not symbolic; solutions gut the rackets by breaking down the regulatory walls protecting the privileged elites who are stripmining the bottom 95%, “snowflakes” and “deplorables” alike.
That’s how the fraud and the rackets are enforced: get each camp to view the other as the enemy in the great coliseum of symbolic, do-nothing politics. Mix and stir, then stand back and continue skimming the nation’s wealth in whatever racket is buttering your bread while the two camps distract themselves with symbolic battles.
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