Bread & Circuses

17 Mar

If you’ve read my little thing here at all, from time to time you’ve probably noticed me referring to the bread and circuses aspect of the Fascist takeover which has resulted mainly from the corporate take over of not only professional sports but… at least to a certain degree and in a certain ways… collegiate sports too.  Most of you understand the reference but for those that might not be able to relate the phrase to the situation in the US today, I offer the following from Wikipedia:

Bread and Circuses” (or bread and games) (from Latin: panem et circenses) is a metaphor for a superficial means of appeasement. It was the basic Roman formula for the well-being of the population, and hence a political strategy unto itself.  In the case of politics, the phrase is used to describe the creation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or public policy, but through diversion, distraction, and/or the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace.  The phrase also implies the erosion or ignorance of civic duty amongst the concerns of the common man (l’homme moyen sensuel).

In modern usage, the phrase is taken to describe a populace that no longer values civic virtues and the public life. To many across the political spectrum, left and right, it connotes a supposed triviality and frivolity that characterized the Roman Republic prior to its decline into the autocratic monarchy characteristic of the later Roman Empire‘s transformation about 44 BCE.

So far, our little New World empire has only lasted about a tenth as long as that of the Romans but during that relatively short length of time we’ve managed to repeat every stupid mistake the Roman populace ever made and managed to come up with a few that they never thought about due to the fact that their eventual downfall as a republic was largely due to external forces acting on the weaknesses created toward the end by a corrupt government and inept leadership whereas our own collapse has been deliberately engineered from within as a (hopefully) bloodless coup with the cessation of any and all democratic process and the establishment of a Fascist dictatorship with concentration of all wealth and power in the hands of as few people as possible as the primary goal.

We keep talking about our politicians as if they were morons incapable of rendering a cogent decision when the actual truth is exactly the opposite.  These people have been handpicked for the jobs they hold and barring a few minor hiccups and glitches, they’ve done a damned good job of keeping us distracted while their lords and masters and Wall Street executed their takeover.

Of course that credit has to be tempered by the fact that we Americans are pretty goddamned easily distracted to start with.  In fact, our attention spans can be likened to those of gnats and we do love us some bright shiny objects like ball games and car races, blockbuster movies and big assed TV shows.  That old saying, “When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag.”, had already been amended to include “and carrying a Bible“.  Now we can add “It will be  riding into town in a NASCAR racer and its first rally will take place at half time during the Super Bowl” because the major weapon of mass distraction in the corporate arsenal today has got to be our corporate sports industry.

Now I’ll admit that I took a hell of a long way around to get to this but there was a story in my feed from the Chicago Sun Times today explaining how the poor working folks in Sacramento had apparently been about to lose their NBA franchise because their “home” team didn’t like the arena they were playing in and thought the taxpayers ought to build them a new one. (LINK).  This excerpt kind of explains what happened:

Congratulations, Sacramento, the good news is you’ve kept your NBA franchise. The bad news is that you’ve struck another deal against common sense and civic responsibility.

Yes, once again, ordinary citizens will pay an extraordinary price to pay for a new rich-people’s playpen. To prevent the Kings from leaving, a compliant Sacramento city council voted 7-2 to foot two-thirds of the cost of a new arena. The arena project was spearheaded by former NBA star Kevin Johnson, who was elected mayor of Sacramento but acts more like mayor of the Sacramento Kings.

Of course Sacramento isn’t the only place this kind of thing has been happening nor is it even the first time it’s happened in Sacramento.  It’s even happened right here in our little town where the 99% of the population who don’t watch the games got to fund a multimillion buck renovation of the local minor league baseball field for the 1% or so that do.

On the ultimate scale, that monstrosity the Cowboys play in comes to mind as a perfect example of a government bailout… yeah, that’s what it is, don’t give me that “It pays for itself” crap… that actually DESERVES the derision the Republicans heap on our auto industry turnaround because you know what?  The average Joe today will certainly never see the inside of one of those luxury sky boxes they paid for and in fact, the vast majority of them will never see the inside of that Taj Mahal POS .  Scaling it back again:

In 2006, Sacramento voters overwhelmingly rejected funding an arena through a sales-tax increase. The city had already helped build two other arenas since 1985 —the feckless civic leaders there are serial subsidizers. And, now, Sacramento will contribute $255.5 million to the cost of the Kings’ new $391 million palace, largely through parking revenue.

‘‘This city is on the verge of insolvency,’’ said councilwoman Sandy Sheedy, a rare dissenting voice who contends the project ‘‘will scoop up every nickel and dime’’ left in the budget.

The happy recipients of the city’s largesse are Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof, broke millionaires getting a bailout from people who can’t even afford to attend NBA games.

(If you want to go to this Sunday’s Timberwolves-Kings game in Sacramento, a good mid-court ticket will run you $169, something behind the basket costs $114 and the nosebleed seats go for $50 a pop. If a family of four goes the cheap route, it’s still $250 with parking and concessions.)

I’ll leave all y’all (that’s the way you really say it, Mittens) to figure out how we arrive at situations in which at LEAST two-thirds of the people who are footing two-thirds of the cost for this new sports palace will be unable to afford tickets to see the games, but it just looks like good old modern American capitalism to me.

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Posted by on March 17, 2012 in Uncategorized


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