Part 2—The information vanishes: Did you happen to watch The Lady Vanishes on PBS Sunday night?
We happened to do that! That morning, we’d chuckled at the synopsis shown below, which appeared in the Washington Post.
Its author refers to several characters in the famous old tale:
CUTLER (8/18/13): Soon, Miss Froy simply vanishes from the moving train.Knowingly, we chuckled at Cutler’s synopsis. With an air of condescension, we thought of the information which routinely vanishes from our American discourse.
Many people definitely saw her, though they deny it.People have their own reasons for lying. Iris is made out to be mad or—as is more favored for 1931—a hysterical young woman in need of supervision.
But why? Why would a pleasant middle-aged lady vanish, and why would everyone who had seen her deny it?
A train is the perfect setting for such a mystery.
One such piece of information concerns the Finnish Miracle. Needless to say, we don’t refer to that country’s alleged education miracle, which isn’t especially miraculous and gets beaten to death in our press corps.
(And in comment threads!)
Every journalist has memorized, and repeated, that stirring miracle tale. This mandated tale helps major journalists think that the United States has endured “decades of embarrassing decline in K-12 education.”
(For Bill Keller’s astonishing statement to that effect, see yesterday’s post.)
You endlessly hear about the Finnish education miracle, which isn’t very miraculous. But how odd! The other Finnish Miracle keeps vanishing from the train:
Health care spending, per person, 2011:Say what? The Finns spend $5000 less, per person, than we spend over here? Multiply by four for a family of four to get a sense of the size of the looting which characterizes our system.
United States: $8508
Somehow, the Finns get by on $3374 per year! But how odd! This truly remarkable fact has generated no week-long junkets by American scribes to examine the wonders of Finland.
No one sponges in her Helsinki hotel typing the things she’s been told to type about this Finnish amazement. In this country, facts like these persistently disappear.
When it comes to health care, no trains lead to Finland! At least, none which suggest the obvious looting which characterizes our health care!
We thought of this standard vanishing act when we read Cutler’s review. Effortlessly, we engaged in some skillful rewriting:
CUTLER REWRITTEN: But why? Why would such a startling fact vanish, and why would everyone who is familiar with it deny it?The Finns spend $3374 per year! Why has this remarkable fact vanished from our discourse?
A newsroom is the perfect setting for such a mystery.
Why do highly important facts vanish? We can’t exactly say. But this particular vanished fact is a fact about corporate looting. You don’t hear that kind of fact discussed a lot, not even on the very fiery One True Liberal Channel.
Tomorrow, we’ll return to MSNBC’s recent nervous breakdown about the bad acts of a rodeo clown, some of which may have been imagined. Last night, though, we listened to one MSNBC host as she did tell a tale about corporate looting.
Unfortunately, the tale she told is now sixty years old! In her closing segment, Rachel Maddow let us in on the CIA-sponsored coup in Iran in 1953.
This story had been told in detail long ago. In April 2000, the New York Times published this gigantic report based on CIA documents.
But yesterday, the CIA formally declassified a document about the famous old coup. Acting at times as if the facts were brand new, Maddow told this important though recycled tale, as if to six-year-olds:
MADDOW (8/19/13): It was called Operation Ajax. August 1953. So in Iran, the shah was the king. He was technically in power.“Frankly, a majority of Iranians agreed” that the Brits shouldn’t steal their oil!
But Iran also had a prime minister who was democratically elected. And the elected prime minister in 1953 was Mohammed Mosaddegh. He was very popular. He also wanted policies that the shah did not want. And he scared the bejesus out of the West. So much so that Operation Ajax was hatched by the CIA to overthrow that prime minister in Iran.
The straw that broke the camel’s back, the reason they decided he definitely had to go, was him crusading for Iran to own its own oil. The shah had cut a deal with the British to essentially let England own all of Iran`s oil.
But Mosaddegh said that was ridiculous, it was a terrible deal for Iran, and frankly a majority of Iranians agreed with him. He was very, very popular among his own people. And he was very unpopular outside of Iran. Especially in the West.
Especially among leaders of the U.K., who until that time quite enjoyed totally running Iran’s oil operation with the blessing of their friend the shah.
And then here comes this democratically elected guy, this populist guy, telling the king of Iran and telling the prime minister of England and telling the president of the United States that he is going to reclaim his country’s oil industry because that’s what he thinks is fair, and most Iranians agree with him.
Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! Obviously, that could not stand!
We’re glad that Maddow told this story, even if she smoothed it way, way down and spoke as if to first graders. But let’s try to get clear on the nature of this story:
Maddow was telling a story of looting, a story told sixty years later. But as we noted last week, the story of American health care spending is a story of huge current looting.
This looting is happening now. The American public is getting looted, not people now dead in Iran.
The New York Times is now doing a somewhat peculiar series of front-page reports about this massive looting. In our view, the series is being written in such a way as to disguise the fact that it concerns giant looting.
At any rate, this high-profile, front-page series hasn’t been mentioned on MSNBC, not even once. Instead, an invented outrage by a rodeo clown has clogged the channel’s arteries.
Even on The One True Channel, basic facts about corporate looting seem to get thrown from the train! Who decides that these facts must disappear?
Who makes the looting vanish?
Tomorrow, more on last week’s pitiful furor about that disturbing rodeo clown. In our view, a very old pattern in plutocrat rule is perhaps being revived.
Tomorrow: “Blackface,” she said!
Let’s take a look at the record: What the heck! Here are the most recent figures from the OECD.
We’re looking at major developed nations. Plus little miraculous Finland, whose miracle here tends to vanish:
Health care spending, per person, 2011:Multiply for a family of four to see the size of the looting!
United States: $8508
United Kingdom: $3405
Where’s all that looted money going? Under current corporate/press corps arrangements, you aren’t permitted to wonder or care!
Instead, they let you eat rodeo clowns! Isn’t plutocracy grand?