In our time, the three main pillars of tyranny are money, media and trade; and the related barriers to restoring freedom include rigged ballot access laws, hack-able electronic voting machines, debts and economic depression created through the privatized trade and monetary systems, misdirection spewed out by the corporate news media, and campaign finance laws that financially favor the “two” establishment parties and limit free speech so it’s even harder for decent citizens to circulate the information needed for voting officeholders out, let alone having a reasonable chance of getting into office themselves.
While this list is not complete, it is a glimpse into our central reality: Those who control things have a specific structure in which they rule, composed of specific barriers designed to keep the people – the lab rats – within a certain allowable domain. Nothing is left to chance, and barriers are added or reinforced all the time.
That is why the federal government became nervous when a sizable cross section of the population got cold feet during the switch to digital TV, and it’s why the Obama administration has considered bailing out big newspapers: These institutions uphold the broad “party line” that misdirects and confuses the populace, keeping them transfixed on mostly diversionary topics so they do not “cross the Red Sea” into freedom.
This “Barriers to Freedom” theme will be covered in this column from time to time, to focus on actual examples.
For this installment, look no further than the immortal words of Texas State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, who commented at a critically important meeting in San Antonio Oct. 26, chiding fellow politicians who might consider listening to the 500 people who showed up on that date to speak out against plans to convert sections of U.S. 281 and Highway 1604 from freeways into toll roads — which compliments the Trans-Texas Corridor/NAFTA Superhighway system.
Such tolls could get very large, adding at least $3,000 per year to the average commuting bill of average workers. The area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) voted in favor of the toll scheme, despite thunderous opposition.
Let us sit in rapt silence as we consider the words of “Philosopher” Wentworth – who will receive a personalized copy of this column signed by this writer. He declared:
“Although I’m a scrawny little guy, I’ve got apparently a lot stronger backbone than a lot of my colleagues had. And you put them in a room with a whole bunch of really pissed-off constituents who are voters, and they’ll switch their votes.”
So Mr. Wentworth believes that political courage consists of resisting a large turnout of area citizens who have valid concerns and sound information on why tolling freeways is a bad idea. To him, it is brave to ignore them and close ranks, as if being elected to his Senate seat is incidental. Why does he believe this? In the final analysis, it’s because he CAN believe it. How so? Because the media will protect him, therefore he can say such things without severe consequence.
The San Antonio News-Express, the Austin American-Statesman and other establishment media that tend to favor more toll roads never make it a habit of publishing the voting records of state and federal legislators. Reams of stock quotes and sports statistics can be printed until entire forests vanish; but consistent publishing of legislative voting records of people like the illustrious Mr. Wentworth would give the voters a detailed “report card” that could lead to his ouster at the polls on the basis of merit, not party membership. Imagine if the publication of these voting records led not only to disappointment with individual legislators but created widespread disgust toward most Republicans and Democrats. That could lead to a big citizen push for other political parties to assume dominance.
But we can’t have that, so the big media will avoid printing legislative voting records to keep the two-party system in place; and those parties will spare no expense to keep using spiffy electronic voting machines and avoid returning to reliable hand-counted paper ballots, while making sure ballot-access laws keep other parties in minority status in terms of money and publicity.
With such firm “castle walls” erected around itself to keep the “peasants” at bay, the overall establishment – including members in good standing like Mr. Wentworth – can say and do whatever they please. Thus, Mr. Wentworth and the other MPO members who voted Oct. 26 to toll local freeway sections do not have much to worry about – except perhaps that the dominant print media are losing their circulation (their “grip” on public opinion) while papers like AMERICAN FREE PRESS are generating more interest nationally and locally.
For the record, the elected officials who voted for the toll plan are: Sen. Wentworth, along with City Commissioners Kevin Wolff and Chico Rodriguez; City Councilmen John Clamp, Ray Lopez and William Weeper; and city appointees Mary Briseno, Rick Pych, Majed Al-Ghafrey, Mike Frisbe and Joe Aceves. Two Transportation Department people also voted for tolls.
Those voting against the tolls: State Rep. David Leibowitz, Commissioner Tommy Adkisson, Mayor of Leon Valley Chris Riley, and City Council members Jennifer Ramos and Reed Williams.
These names are presented for the sake of accountability, a crucial component missing in a modern media that collaborates with the power structure instead of scrutinizing and scolding it. When the barriers erected to keep the “peasants” on the outside momentarily fail, the establishment scolds or ignores them when they do show up, like they did, 500 strong, on Oct. 26 in San Antonio.
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