Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba just pulled this specimen off the Gates Corporate Propaganda And Wannabe Zuckerberg Clone Generator:
Good morning, pandemictravelers. We just reached a major milestone – over 10 million citizens of our planet have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. We are also quickly approaching > 500,000 deaths (499,307 today).
The USA is afire with the virus – the hotspot in the world, with a sustained first wave. Masks have become political instead of a show of concern for others, with those who refuse to wear one not exhibiting any societal responsibility.
My clients around the world have sent me emails and texts expressing concern and bewilderment, wondering how could the US could be doing so poorly and appear that it doesn’t know what it is doing.
What would you say to that question?
Hokay, You asked for it. Sit yourself down …
Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba lived in God’s Own Country (New Zealand, aka “Godzone“) during the 1980s. During the tiff between the USA and New Zealand over the latter’s “No Nukes” policy, which barred US warships from New Zealand ports because they refused to declare whether or not they carried nuclear weapons.
This annoyed the USA under Ronald Reagan, which, having run out of Carter’s Pills, had just reasserted its status as a Great Power by steamrollering the mighty Caribbean nation of Grenada, and it wasn’t about to put up with guff from any other pusillanimous little island. Especially one that wanted to be counted as a US ally, which meant that they were supposed to STFU and do as they were told.
We the People of these Untied States promptly, and unilaterally, suspended New Zealand from the ANZUS mutual defense treaty. And the Kiwi news media – increasingly US-owned and -influenced – tolled out stories of bill after bill being introduced into the US Congress, which, if passed, would mete out various forms of punishment on the New Zealand government (of which, of course, its people were dupes), including trade sanctions, mandatory Red Menace indoctrination sessions, and bare-bottomed spanking. And for God’s sake, Godzone, get rid of that ridiculous universal health care system, and make your medical practice safe for our insurance profiteers!
Aghast (which in a New Zealander generally means a slight furrowing of the brow, a minute dip in the corners of the mouth, a slight lowering of the voice – it was a most refreshing social environment to be in), folk would come up to YFNA, the resident Yankee, and ask how come the US government could be so intent on whipping up on a friend, and how the US people could possibly tolerate such a government.
To which YFNA responded with good news and bad news.
Good news: the introduction of a bill into the US Congress doesn’t mean what a New Zealander thinks it means.
The New Zealand system of government is a Westminster democracy, in which the legislative and executive branches are (in practice) merged, and there is little judicial review of laws passed. Moreover, the New Zealand legislature (Parliament) has a single chamber, the House of Representatives; there is no Senate or House of Lords through which legislation must pass, as in the United Kingdom or other Westminster-type governments, to win approval. Thus, in New Zealand, a bill introduced to the House of Representatives by the Government (the party or coalition holding a majority of seats) is destined to become law. The only ways for the bill not to become law are for the Government to withdraw the bill, or for the Government itself to collapse (and all of its bills with it), leading to dismissal of Parliament and new elections.
So, Kiwis hearing news of a bill introduced into the US House of Representatives, or the US Senate, and imposing their New Zealand interpretations on the event, may be excused for thinking that even the most ridiculous of those bills is official Government policy, and is destined to become law.
What these Kiwis typically did not understand is that, in the US Congress, any member may propose a bill, for any reason (including to make a propaganda statement to constituents, the news media, or other targeted audience), and that, far from being part of a coherent statement of Policy by Government, on which that Government stakes it reputation, nay its survival, the typical bill submitted to the US Congress is so much noise that seldom survives past its initial publication in the Federal Register. The member may be part of the majority party, the minority party, a fringe party, a cocktail party. It doesn’t matter. The only bills to pay attention to are the ones reported back to the House or Senate from a committee, and most of the bills don’t get that far. Especially (at least back then) the nut-case bills.
When YFNA reported all this to his New Zealand friends, they visibly relaxed. Especially as they realized that hordes of US troops with paddles in their hands were not about to descend on the North and South Islands.
That is, they relaxed until they got the bad news.
Which is that, seen from the lens of a country in which the Government decides and the people follow (or change the government), the United States of America is seen for what it is – the most responsive of all governments to the will of its peoples.
Not the fancy talking heads people who pretend to be in charge, and may even think they are in charge. Nope. Not them.
The ones whose daily activities define them. Whose spending patterns declare their allegiances. Whose lead the business executives and politicians dutifully follow, and profit from.
The Holocaust and moon-launch deniers.
The rolling coalers – both the redneck ones and the liberal ones who drive 50 miles, alone in their cars, to testify against climate change at a rally. (Or did this before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.)
The white supremacists. The ones wielding Confederate battle flags, and the ones wielding empty platitudes.
The males who spend billions on little blue entertainment pills (nicely profitable), while denying public and private funds for research and development on agents that will actually anticipate and cure disease (disgustingly unprofitable).
Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera.
The New Zealanders heard from YFNA that, if something ridiculous gets written into a bill before the US Congress, it is because a large enough segment of the US population to elect the person submitting the bill agrees with it. That “the Government” is not to blame for this ridiculous thing, the people are. For the electorate puts, in those offices, people who will do their bidding.
And the one group of people for whom there is no electorally significant constituency is the group of people who actually know what they’re talking about. And can’t, or don’t try to, turn that knowledge into a Kardashian-style – or an Apprentice-style – “reality” show.
How can the US be doing so poorly, and appear that it doesn’t know what it is doing? YFNA’s answer today is the same as the one he gave to the New Zealanders 25 years ago.
Because this is the Will of We the People of the Untied States of America, and We will have things no other way.
Most of this is my favorite of all your writings.
And I learned a new word: pusillanimous.