Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Conspiracy Conspiracy

Bear with me while I struggle with some cognitive dissonance. On the one hand, the Internet is awash in conspiracy theories--about the real culprits of 9/11, the truth about the Federal Reserve, Obama's socialist agenda, and on and on. It would be fair, I think, to characterize these theories as completely wacko, although I suppose if you weren't familiar with the subject they could seem plausible. As usual, Hollywood both caters to and reinforces our fantasies; an action movie or TV show that doesn't at least hint darkly at a trail that leads all the way to the top (of something) is pretty weak beer these days.

But the other day (Thursday) in an hour or two on the Internet, I came up with some results that startled me: that the top one percent of households get almost one-quarter of national income, and that with a modest increase in the tax of the top 15,000 households you could pay more or less the entire cost of the House or Senate health reform plan. These results are not original, aside from some long division. But have you heard anyone talk about them on either the msm (Internet-speak for mainstream media) or the conspiracy blogs and websites?

Or take the Tea Party people. (Someone should tell them, by the way, that the motto of the Boston Tea Party of 1773 was not "No taxation.") They're indignant about the deficit, intrusive government and the bank bailout. Yet who are they lining up with? The Republicans, the very people that created all those things. The Democrats represent "government."

I don't believe in conspiracies. But suppose, hypothetically, that there were a conspiracy by the rich and powerful to hold onto their wealth and power. You could do a lot worse than channeling disgruntled people into worrying about how the Twin Towers fell and what happened at Roswell.

First, it distracts people from the huge inequalities of income in this country. Whoever that shadowy cabal was who brought down the World Trade Center, it's unlikely that the super-rich will be accused of being  members, unless at some point they spent time in the CIA. Second, it undercuts people's faith in government, and indeed increases their fear and suspicion of government, making it easier for you to defeat any attempts at burdensome taxation or regulation. All in all, a nice deal. Hypothetically.

The next time someone tries to convince you of one of these cockamamie theories, just smile and say, "That's what they want you to think."

The truth is out there.

1 comment:

  1. Coast to Coast has a website. (wink)

    Oh, and it is Jesse "The Mind" Ventura who has the new conspiracy TV show on cable.