THE DEPARTED, directed by Martin Scorsese (2006)
THE OCCUPY movement’s most powerful unifying factor has been its clear and simple identification of the key problem in American society: the divide between the vast majority of the population—the 99 percent—and the richest and most powerful 1 percent.
This 99 percent/1 percent formulation isn’t just a statement about income inequality in the U.S. today. It’s also an acknowledgement that the 1 percent largely controls the government and is therefore able to rig laws, taxes and regulations in its favor.
If you look at opinion polls on questions like taxing the rich, regulating Wall Street, spending money on jobs, prioritizing economic growth over cutting the deficit or preserving and protecting Social Security and Medicare, you’ll find popular, often lopsided, majorities opposed to austerity and in favor of “redistributionist” policies.
Yet the dysfunctional government seems incapable—and not even much interested—in doing much of anything to meet these popular demands. By contrast, Congress acted with tremendous speed—and with little regard for the deficit—to appropriate hundreds of billions of dollars for the banks and other corporations when the financial crisis struck in 2008.
In theory, we’re all equal at the ballot box, and so popular majorities should be able to force politicians to address their concerns. But the Occupy movement has caught fire because millions of Americans realize that the way Washington works in reality bears no resemblance to the political science textbook explanations.
So how does the 1 percent get away with it?
CoffeeCompany WiFi headlines.
Holland’s largest chain of coffee shops is called CoffeCompany. They wanted to attract more students, so they installed WiFi in some of its stores near universities. The problem is, lots of students just come into the store for the WiFi but hardly look at the menu.
So CoffeeCompany decided to move the store’s menu into the WiFi menu of customers’ laptops. They periodically changed the wireless network name from the normal “CoffeeCompany” to hard-selling headlines. So as students looked for a network, they found menu lines such as “mmm….YummyMuffinsOnly1,99″
This is beyond awesome.
So, here is a new recommendation list of active and semi-active public media shows and stations and more here on Tumblr…
on Tom Perrotta’s post-millennial suburban humanism.American Cannibal © Blaine Fontana
St. Martin’s Press, August 2011. 368 pp.
When Tom Perrotta was in the third grade, he wrote a short composition from the perspective of the Apollo 13 astronauts. “My essay,” he recalled, in an interview for Post Road magazine, “called for optimism and determination in the face of danger.” This anecdote, told with a characteristic blend of self-effacement and humor — Perrotta admits, for instance, that he cannot take credit for the Tom Hanks movie to follow 25 years later — speaks to the complicated mix of nostalgia, disillusion, and yearning that seems to mark a particular contemporary brand of American mourning, our mourning for a past that, while imperfect, still offered enough of us a sense of confidence and hope. You know that Perrotta is winking at us about his 8-year-old self — his JFK-style call-to-action, if it weren’t a child’s, would feel old-fashioned, platitudinous, unearned. But, you also get the sneaking suspicion that Perrotta still believes in that call — or, more precisely, believes in the boy who made it. After all, his novels, for all their mordancy, are, at heart, humanist. As William Blythe pointed out in his New York Times review of Little Children, Perrotta’s novels raise the question of “how a writer can be so entertainingly vicious and yet so full of fellow feeling.”
Prior to The Abstinence Teacher, Perrotta seemed ever ready to puncture his characters, but clearly strove to make sure we liked most of them just enough in the end. In his latest novel, The Leftovers, Perrotta is harder on his characters than ever, and harsher about the world. And yet ultimately the novel is even more humane than its predecessors — with a humanism that extends beyond an understanding of his characters’s foibles into something much deeper and messier. He has assembled a cast of distinctly Perrotta-style suburban dwellers and exposed them to a world both dark and inhospitable, a world where they prove themselves helpless, unable to reckon with a future or even the present, unequal to the big sorrows of life, those that strike more powerfully than personal disappointment, rattling marriages, and suburban discontent.