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Don't know, don't care

I’ve always been fascinated by professional wrestling. Not because I enjoy watching steroid-bloated actors performing a carefully choreographed exhibition masquerading as an athletic competition, but because I’m fascinated by the type of person who would attend such an event. The performers in the ring are an irrelevant prop; the real show is in the stands.

I often wonder what percentage of the spectators doesn’t know professional wrestling is staged and what percentage does know, but don’t care. I’m trying to decide which is more disturbing. I’m fascinated by a person who would watch, even cheer, at a contest where the outcome is predetermined and is designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator of the spectators. It’s a microcosm of the problems with our culture, a lot of people are stupid and others don’t care.

Americans routinely reinforce the impression they aren’t terribly bright. Take for example, the shrinking sizes of consumer products in the grocery store. Instead of increasing prices, they merely reduce the size and people don’t seem to notice the hidden price increase. If there were two products on the shelf, one increased the price while retaining the same size, but another product kept the same price but reduced its size, the smaller sized product would outsell the other product by a wide margin. Companies do this for a good reason; they know people truly are that stupid.

There are other examples of our “don’t know/don’t care” attitude of our countrymen. In the last election, voters went to the polls and voted for people whose philosophy and agenda was contrary to the interests of the people who put them in office. Taxes were a big issue, and lowering tax rates for the wealthy and corporations was a cornerstone of their program.

Low tax rates on upper income individuals and corporations were supposed to spur the economy and create job growth. But these corporations are taking this tax break and using it to invest in overseas job growth and building manufacturing plants on foreign soil. For example, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a non-partisan Washington think tank, last year, US corporations created 1.4 million jobs overseas, while creating only 1 million here in the US.

If those jobs were created here in this country, it would have lowered the unemployment rate to 8.9 percent from the current 10.1 percent. Furthermore, Caterpillar has invested in three new plants in China to design and manufacture its earth-moving equipment, and I’m guessing there won’t be many American workers hired for those plants.

Others are doing the same thing. Of Coca Cola’s 93,000 global employees, less than 13 percent are here in the US, down from 19 percent five years ago. These are not a few isolated examples, it’s a trend. Overseas economic expansion has had such an impact that by 2015, for the first time in history, Asia’s middle class will equal those of Europe and North America combined.

Yet Americans march to the voting booth to vote for tax breaks that we are borrowing money to pay for, to create jobs in countries who are lending us that money. The leaders of these countries must have turned the TV and watched a professional wrestling match and thought these people are too stupid and apathetic to be this affluent. They probably thought that taking our money will be a lot easier than even they thought it would be.


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