October 25, 2011
It use to be that he who controlled the message controlled the power. That rule hasn’t changed, but the he has. The former he was big media, dictators, governments, and big business. The new he (and she) is we. Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms have tipped the balance of power. We the people no longer need big media to package and shape the message, and the effect of this shift can be seen from the market squares of Cairo to the streets of lower Manhattan.
In any conventional cookbook for revolution, the recipe for a coup d’etat included taking control of TV and radio stations. Power has heretofore been inherent in he who controlled the media. Yet what has been evident in the events in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, London and now the US is that the power to organize and shape the message has moved from the 1% to the 99%.
Just as the revolutions that toppled Middle Eastern dictators were fueled by social media flames, the current dissatisfaction with the American system of corporatocracy is showing up as unrest in our streets.
Sure, things are different in the US than they are in Syria. US citizens have the right to vote. One person, one vote. Yet votes only place a candidate into office; influence is bought and purchased a dollar per unit of influence at a time.
Money buys power, influence, and control of the media outlets. Cash-purchased influence is corrupting the political system away from the original intent of the founding fathers. Insurance companies and big pharma interests muddled recent attempts of a US healthcare overhaul.
Take the anti-healthcare overhaul lobby’s talking points as an example: “Do you want a government bureaucrat standing between you and your doctor?” I for one would rather have a government bureaucrat who serves by the will of the people standing between my relationship with my doctor than my present insurance company bureaucrat whose bonus is dependent on denying my claim.
Well worn fables regarding wealthy Saudi princes who come to America to take advantage of the best healthcare system money can buy…well only 1% of the population can afford that kind of healthcare, which will still be available if a single payer system is implemented. There is still a private healthcare system available in the UK.
America has the most expensive healthcare system in the world, and according to the CIA, our infant mortality rate is behind Cuba, Slovenia, Greece, Italy and Spain. As for life expectancy, the CIA ranks us 50th behind Jordon, Puerto Rico, Bosnia and Herzegovina. If our babies have less chance of making it and our surviving babies don’t live as long as Jordanian citizens, then our only measure of American healthcare supremacy is our #1 ranking in cost per capita.
Oil interests shape our defense and energy policies retard technological innovation (see A Case For Renewable Energy). Banks and insurance companies, whose huge gambles have cratered our economies, benefit from government bailouts while regular folks lose their homes. The 99% are fed up with the hubris and excesses of the 1%.
Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg have created great wealth, great companies, and great American industries. I don’t believe that anyone begrudges the fairly-earned wealth of entrepreneurial, creative, brilliant entrepreneurs.
It is frustrating, however, when large embedded corporations use their wealth created in a bygone time to unfairly retain market leadership, stifle innovation, avoid market disruption and maintain the status quo. It is when influence is applied to support the special interest and not the interest of the people as a whole that outsiders grow restless.
Americans have taken a lesson from the streets of Cairo to stand up for fairness and democracy on Wall Street, and social media has given them a voice.
Will the special interests go the way of Middle East dictators?
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