Three Cheers for South Park

After South Park was banned by China for criticism on censorship, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone issued the following "official apology":

Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts. We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn't like Winnie the Pooh at all. Long live the Great Communist Party of China! May this autumn's sorghum harvest be bountiful! We good now China? [Note: Winnie the Pooh was blocked in China when people compared the Pooh to President Xi Jinping.]

The key line (if you missed it): WE TOO LOVE MONEY MORE THAN FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY.

This sums up business and politics in the U.S.--not just the NBA. Money and power versus innovation and hard work are pretty much the yin and yang of American exceptionalism. [Thanks again China for your ancient philosophy of dualism.] Apparently, satire is the most direct way to the truth; certainly no truth telling from business and political leaders.

Corporations: maximize profit above all else. Don't break the law, but enter well into the gray areas. If laws are broken, hire a battalion of the finest lawyers and call in the chits from the politicians, while denying everything.

Politicians: get reelected above all else; satisfy the influence peddlers with the money and power; follow the party line, ignore the public good.

How it should be:

Business: apply stakeholder capitalism; that is, act in the long-term best interests of all stakeholders: employees, customers, stock and bond holders, general public and the environment, even executives; plus pay an appropriate amount of taxes--not zero if you can get away with it. [Note: the top billionaires pay a lower tax rate (23%) than the bottom half of American households (over 24%) and about half of what they used to pay (47% in 1980).]

Politicians: politics used to be considered an honorable profession, but not anymore. People should run for office to promote the public interest. Granted it is a deceptive process. I can't imagine getting many votes by telling the truth (e.g., fix Social Security by raising taxes and cutting benefits). People with charisma, intelligence and drive can be patriotic, run for office, and be relatively honest. There are plenty of role models.

To my mind, the key fix is getting private money out of politics. That means only public money used for campaigns. Get the special interests out and reform can follow. Part of that reform is appropriate regulation of business.

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© 2016 Gary Giroux