Tuesday, June 13, 2023


The biggest change in Amerika during my 65 years is the rise of rampant "bullyism." I'm not talking about schoolyard bullies who would steal your lunch money, or beat you up, or grab your well-scuffed football because they could. That kind of bullying is fairly-well excoriated now. It's a thing, kid-bullying. A medical term. And we scowl at it.

But since the rise of the right beginning when Richard Nixon became president in 1968, through rampant Reaganism through today's malevolent racist trumpism, bullying has gotten much more powerful, widespread and pernicious. It's become the behavior a la mode of most our nation, so much so that we hardly even notice it anymore.

The distance between the wealthy and the rest of us has grown and grown. It's greater than it was during the so-called Gilded Age. Greater than it was before the great depression. Along the way, the malefactors of great wealth (in Theodore Roosevelt's words) have bought legislatures and assured that as they grow ever wealthier, they pay less and less in tax. This is bullying.

Even worse, to my mind and my money is that giant swaths of our economy have been turned over to the oligopoly control of unregulated, untaxed corporations who make their own laws, fix their own prices, buy their own politicians while destroying (or profiting from) lands and resources that used to belong to all of us. From your cable provider, to your phone company, to our three or four remaining airlines, to our three or five remaining ad agencies, we are run by these companies, and there's no one to help us, no one--democratic or republican who gives a frozen rat's ass about it. 

I know permalancers who get no healthcare, while discrimination runs amok, while stock prices are manipulated allowing various c-suites to cash in before the companies they're pillaging go belly up.

Of late I've come yet another example of such bullying. It's been visited upon me by one of America's largest companies (they're in the Fortune 50) and one of the world's largest agency holding companies--I think they're number three or four in size.

You have to pay them to get paid.

That's right.

If they owe you 100X for services rendered, you have to wait 90 days for payment. (At four-percent inflation at the end of 90 days, your 100X is worth only 99X.) You can get your money faster--if you pay them. 1X and you get your money in sixty days. 1.5X and you get it in forty-five days.

This is de rigueur today.

It's bullying.

And there's more. The ad industry's bullying practices run deep. From making you pay twice to watch television (once for cable access, once by watching more and more commercials) to surveillance marketing, ad re-targeting and selling your data to anyone who will buy it--over and over again, to the bullying and shouting and hot-mix of the commercials we make, we do the opposite of stand up for the little guy.

Lincoln might have said, "God must love the poor, he made so many of them." But that ain't in evidence in Amerika today. Certainly not among millions of self-professed Christians.

Because they're big and you're small. They're powerful and you're not.

And there's nothing you can do about it.

During the depression, some companies paid some workers in scrip, aka funny money. I read that some workers in Minnesota during the Hunger Winters of the 1930s were paid in butter or sauerkraut. How long before we're paid WPPeanuts? Or Interpubucks? They can be used only at company-owned stores--where the company sets the non-market-pricing.

In Jared Diamond's 1997 Pulitzer-winner "Guns, Germs and Steel," he posited that social organizations eventually devolve into "kleptocracies," rule by thieves. During the trump mis-government, I learned the word "kakistocracy," the opposite of an aristocracy, meaning government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens.

Today, I propose a new term. Perhaps a candidate could run on it. I'd be happy to work for you if you pay me upfront. Amerika is a Bullyocracy. We are ruled by bullies.

Worse, we are so used to being ruled by bullies, that a) we don't even realize it and b) half the time we're rooting for them.

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