Switch off, log on

So, the Guardian reports today that the Daily Mail website is ‘most popular newspaper website in the UK, with nearly 18 million readers a month, and is second only to the New York Times worldwide’. This is not really a surprise, just more evidence that a huge amount of people enjoy mindless rubbish. Whenever I see the unique visitor count of the Daily Mail website I am saddened that Bill Hicks is no longer around to spell out just why such banal tripe is evil. His comments on the apathetic, mindless mass of Americans who could be sleepwalked into submission by 24-hour cable TV showing American Gladiators have never been more timely.

At the time when the Coalition government dismantles the welfare state because of a recession caused by stupendously irresponsible and wealthy banks; the majority of people in Britain are more concerned with logging into the Mail website to check out the latest celebrity to gain or lose weight whilst angrily reading about the ‘workshy’. I mean, sure, the banks may have lost hundreds of billions of pounds and inflated house prices so that most people have either been priced out of the market or now own a property worth far less than their mortgage, but the real problem is that couple down the road who don’t work and have too many children. Sure, stopping their benefits will hurt children who have played no part in their circumstance, but hey, I’m an angry Daily Mail reader so it’s fine to punish children so long as I feel that my taxes aren’t being wasted on things outside of my immediate circle.

The point that Bill Hicks wanted to drive home is that the majority of human beings are so easily distracted by moving images and flashing lights that they spend their lives politically nullified, the American elite don’t need guns or violence to maintain their hegemony, just the ownership of 24-hour cable TV.

It depresses me that the Mail website has so many readers. I know a lot of them are not Mail readers, but people with hearts, brains and souls who stare despairingly into the intellectual and moral abyss, just to remind themselves that we live in a society that has some serious issues. What concerned Hicks’ most was that people were so badly informed about how the rich were screwing them over everyday, and how easily such people could be nullified by a puerile, unthinking TV schedule. As long as people want to buy celebrity magazines or read the Mail website to be titillated and enraged in equal measure the world will never improve. The Mail isn’t entirely to blame, it is serving an audience, an audience that does want to know all about celebrities. An audience that wants to hate immigrants, single mothers and other easy targets because it satisfies a simplistic need to be angry and to know who is to blame. This audience learns its behaviours, and behaviours can be changed. There is hope, but only a thin slither.

Meanwhile, David Cameron can visit China to discuss international ‘trade imbalances’ without anyone asking about whether there are any other forms of trade inbalance that are far more pressing. Cameron argued – along with the US – that an unfair trade balance currently exists. Essentially, people in Britain and the US spend too much money consuming products that are made in China. People in China don’t spend as much, as they generally save a proportion of their income in case of illness because they have to foot the bill for medical care. This means that we buy more stuff from China than we sell to them, they have a big trade surplus, we have a big trade deficit. David Camerson says that this is bad because too much money is flowing from Britain and the US to China, which means less money is available to the UK economy and we become poorer.

This is all well and good, but what about the trade deficit that the population of planet earth has with global corporations? Why not mention this if he really is concerned with the flow of money from one group to another. Is is useful for the UK economy to have several large corporations taking billions of pounds out of circulation? Where did  the billions of pounds of record profits that the banks sucked out of the UK economy from the average earner go? None of this money was left when the crash hit, by then we all realised that the banks had given it all away to already wealthy share holders or wealthy employees who took so much in bonuses that the banks had to be bailed out by governments.

When China generates a trade surplus the British government gets concerned that too much money is taken out of the economy, yet when Tesco announce that they have made many more billions in profit than they managed last year it celebrates because businesses are supposed to grow. Why do they not question where this money is going, or realise that very little is going back into the economy. Capitalism generates wealth, the trouble is that wealth becomes concentrated in the hands of a few who have soo much money they cannot possibly spend it, and if they do spend it, they aren’t interested in the sort of products or services offered by the average guy. This means that the average person has to survive on less, or loses their job because there just isn’t enough money left in the system.

Billionaires have massive trade surpluses. The average person is likely to have a trade deficit. The two are linked, you just never seem to hear about it.

Anyway, forget about the millionaires and billionaires, switch off your brain, log on to the Mail website and look at all the juicy celebrity gossip. Look at this immigrant with a council house and flat screen TV, they are to blame you know, they are taking your money, not us. Have you seen how many workshy scroungers there are? Loads, we tried to give them jobs, but they said no, they’d rather sit at home and let you pay for them. Remember, the poor are at fault, the rich are your superiors. Have you seen Simon Cowell’s house? He’s a fantastic success story don’t you know. Rich people are good. We can all be rich you know. Keep working, keep trying.You can always buy a lottery ticket. Here, have a picture of a horse in the back of a car.

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