Earlier this week the Washington Independent announced it was going the way of the rest of real journalism and whoever runs this mysterious blog purporting to cover the payday lending industry posted that he or she was “dancing on the grave” of a short-lived institution it characterized as being “anti-free markets, a critic of all industries that offered private sector solutions to the problems of working Americans and in general an ideologically driven news institution” that “lived off [sic] of donations, probably from people who made money in ways the Independent journalists wouldn’t approve of.” (Later the Payday Pundit reported that this comment had spiked his or her own meager traffic by “1,000 individual page views.”) The Independent published a lot of unfashionably comprehensive journalism about distinctly SEO-unfriendly subjects during its short life, which began roughly about the same time in late 2007 as the Great American Recession’s technical birth. This morning I waded through about 40,000 words of it, and man I am glad I won’t be doing that again…
1. In the absence of intrusive intervention from Big Government and Socialist Labor, for-profit coal miners blast mountaintops into craters using workers whose lives it considers so disposable its response to an accident that ends 29 of them is to threaten survivors that they’ll be fired if they miss work to attend funerals. In contrast with Charles Lane‘s favorite free-market fairytale the Chilean mining rescue, which drew a stunning 18 million Tweets in China alone, the reality of free-market mining is grim, deadly, chronically and prodigiously lied about by its most abusive practitioners, and apparently that is all fine by Larry Summers. The Independent‘s Mike Lillis took on mining as a beat back when Jonathan Franzen was just about the only other general interest writer who cared. Not that anyone cared.
2. But people need jobs, because without them people are likely to conclude that their lives are worthless, and end them anyway. We know this from guys like Joe Stack but few besides the Independent‘s Annie Lowrey really focused on the trend, I guess because they were focusing on the nation’s real problems, like the horrific possibility of having your thighs grazed at airport security.
3. Still, even with a job, if you bought a house or took out a home equity loan any time during the second term of the Bush Administration (as Tavis Smiley and Alan Greenspan advised) you are probably screwed in some variation on the sad, typical tale of this 55-year-old Manassas housepainter with a broken knee who gets thrown out of his house by someone representing the long-defunct subprime unit of bankrupt Lehman Brothers. In a wrenching story illustrating how the supposed “holiday foreclosure moratorium” of December 2008 was just another fucking fraud like everything else this country sells to the unimportant, former Independent editor Mary Kane was probably the first reporter to observe the eerie, robotic nature of “a foreclosure machine that seems to be almost unstoppable.” (Tellingly, no one at the scene of the eviction seems to possess any claim to who precisely owned the houses.) Two years and millions of ruined lives later, most major newsrooms are still debating whether this is a big story or a ‘technicality.’ Maybe at this point in America the systemic and inexplicably destructive financial rape of the not-rich at by unseen anonymous fee-raking robots is, as Kim Kardashian observes of hoop earrings, such a “staple” it doesn’t merit headlines anymore.
4. And so the struggling attend gun fairs and channel their rage at a president who is reasonable enough to empathize with them for clinging to guns but powerless to take any reasonable steps to help them in part because the “mainstream” media is too busy rousting him for being condescending to the angry gun-clinging Glenn Beck-fearing masses to step back and begin to grasp the extent to which the Glenn Beck propaganda complex’s less paranoid factions had irrevocably distorted their own senses of reality. Back a dozen or so jobs ago in April 2009 when Dave Weigel was covering the Glenn Beck gun show beat for the Independent, he wrote one of the most insightful scene pieces about the Tea Party’s early-adopting wingnuts. In one section, he talks to a guy looking for “Impeach Obama” bumper stickers who later grabs his notebook and blacks out his name, saying. “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know if you work for the Southern Poverty Law Center. I don’t know if you work for the government.” And of course, the Southern Poverty Law Center would be a household demon name in some segments of the population, but has anyone even attempted to do the same with MERS, much less Mercatus? No. Because they have gobs of money, yes, but also because liberals are stupid.
5. And finally, illegal immigrants do a huge amount of shit work in this country, in exchange for no rights. I think they do this because at one point American workers did have rights, which translated into a higher standard of living for the masses than back home, where it turns out that even a country so redolent of economic freedom it can have the world’s richest man can still have problems that seem to elude “market based” solutions. The Independent followed Prince William County’s illegal immigration crackdown more aggressively than any DC media outlet with the possible exception of the Washington Times, but now that’s over. Hopefully Elise Foley can quickly hone some new expertise on, say, the Palins. I bet Piper doesn’t have a ghostwriter locked up yet, Elise, get on that shit!