We’ve achieved corporate feudalism in our lifetimes. Congratulations.
You must have wanted it. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have bought it. Now that your votes don’t matter but money does, we vote with our dollars, and what we buy rules the world. That’s why our hamburgers are extruded and why they sugar the buns at McDonald’s.
Did you know there was a time when you could get an actually good-tasting burger at McDonald’s? It had real meat and everything. Brilliant product, top quality, and it was served fast and hot and cheap in a day and age when you couldn’t get good service anywhere. Now, we get a patty that’s injection-molded pink goop. The milkshakes are shelf-stable powders that contain so little dairy the lactose-intolerant are apparently pretty safe from them. Not entirely; once folks found out and there was a stink, they started using things like real butter again, and they mix some milk in with the powder.
But the burgers are still tasteless textureless processed high-calorie crap. And we eat them. Some of us even profess to like the damned things. Lord knows I did when I was three.
Jeff Bezos is one of the most reviled multi-billionaires known to man. He ruthlessly exploits his workers, engages in business practices third-world kleptocracies would blush at, and evades corporate taxes like a champ. And yet we keep shopping at Amazon; we’ve spent so much there the past couple months, we’re making him a trillionaire.
Zuckerberg’s Facebook buys and sells our personal info. Everything about us is collected, collated, cross-referenced, and fed through one of the most massive databases ever made to generate custom target advertising that is still almost completely inappropriate to our wants and needs. He makes billions from this, has been successfully sued and censured for multiple counts of privacy violation, and still does it — which is fine because everyone from your Smart TV manufacturer to your Alexa and iPhone does the same, and they’re all made in China. And we keep buying these things. We pay people to spy on us and we’re somehow outraged when they do.
People blame the government, as though there’s something the government can do that we can’t. It’s like the War On Drugs. You don’t like drugs? You don’t want money funding militarized Central American gangs? It’s simple: Stop buying the damn drugs. If nobody bought them, the War On Drugs would be over tonight. The D.E.A. would be out of a job.
“There should be a law.” How about this law: If you shop at Amazon and complain about Jeff Bezos, you should be forced to punch yourself in the mouth hard enough to split your own lip.
Do you know what a monoculture is? It’s what happens when farmers rely on a single breed of a single crop. Iowa grows more than 70 million tons of the exact same corn every year, and it’s just one of the many corn states. There are only three surviving varieties of banana. People choose McIntosh apples as though they taste good, or Red Delicious; it happens that they mostly just look good and keep from rotting on the shelf better than my favorite Pink Ladies or Galas or Honeycrisps. All our pumpkin pies are made from the same squash, bred specifically for that purpose — no, it’s not actually a pumpkin any more; it’s a squash. For anyone who wants to know what’s wrong with a monoculture, I’ll refer you to Ireland in 1845.
We’re living in the world we made, people — and yes, that includes you Millennials too. The Boomers helped, but it’s you who haven’t fixed it yet. The Boomers are mostly retired now. What’s your excuse? Quit whining and go run for office.
Yesterday the Senate voted down an amendment to the Patriot Act that would have made it so the government could no longer spy on our browsing histories without a warrant. You know what I say to that? I say, So What!? It’s nothing Zuckerberg and Bezos and all the rest of them don’t do already, and for reasons that are if not authoritarian are thoroughly mercenary, and nobody’s offering me a piece of the damn action.
Once upon a time I believed we needed to find our best and brightest and get them to run for public office. We could fix so many things if only we could get great minds all in the same room, hold a national debate on the issues, use the internet for more than memes and cliquey-clicks and self-righteous echo chambers. Oh, I was so young and foolish.
Because instead what we’ve got is government by dollar, and where we spend our dollar has everything to do with it, and we don’t care one bit.
So go. Enjoy your McDonald’s burger and fries and mostly non-dairy powder-mix milkshake. Every dollar you spend there is a vote for more of the same.
And remember: Donald Trump likes burnt grey tasteless burgers too. Biden’s just as bad; his favorites are plain pasta and orange Gatorade. Processed all to hell and back, both of them, and you can tell by what they like to eat. And we chose them both.
Dear God in Heaven, why do I even bother talking to you people? Go away now and leave me in peace. Practice some social distancing. I’m going to go sip some whisky and brood for a while. I’ve still got some that doesn’t taste like paint thinner.
Normally this is where I beg for a contribution. Screw it. If you want to give, the button’s on the next article. My bet is, you won’t vote with your money anyway — who wants to get lectured on something they already know they do wrong but do anyway? Go blow it at Amazon or eat some more McDonald’s. God knows you deserve it.