Saturday, August 26, 2017

Consumer Protection Law Humbles American Politicians and Mass Media

Dateline: WASHINGTON, D.C.—After Congress passed a law mandating that large American organizations report the average of their polled approval rating in their public statements, the White House, Congress, and the mainstream media stumbled in attempting to conduct their business.

The bill was in response to lobbying by several consumer advocacy groups, which argued that just as a food company should include the nutritional values on its food packages, any large organization should tell the individual consumer what the public in general thinks of that organization, in its public statements such as its advertisements or speeches.

The new requirement has hit certain industries the hardest, because of the gulf between their highly favourable self-image and their abysmal rating by the majority of Americans.

Democrats and Republicans, and President Trump and Congress in particular suffer from “lamentably low grades” as determined by an average of polls and by other indicators, including a decades-long pattern of low voter turnout in elections.

Cable news channels eagerly reported the infighting between those political groups, but the public’s estimation of those channels’ own value to society is “Hair-Raisingly Close to being Akin to a Flat-Line in an Emergency Room,” according to the technical assessment in an official analysis of the polls’ average.

Johnny Whatacretin, Arch-Amoralist at the Machiavelli Institute, explained the results:

“So you’ll have a news anchor like Don Limey at CNN say, ‘Trump is an insane buffoon, he’s unfit for office, and he’s an embarrassment to the nation,’ as he said on his news program in response to President Trump’s recent press conference.

“Ordinarily, before the new consumer protection law was passed, Limey could have left it at that, with the implied dichotomy between the evil Republicans and the holy Democrats and noble mass media. But now Limey was forced to add, ‘Having said that, Trump is publicly awarded a grade of being Execrable, while CNN is ranked as being Abominable, both of which, I’m obligated to report, fall well within the zone of being judged Flat-out Evil as well as Existential Threats to the Nation.’

“Limey then coughed and fidgeted with his papers, trying to change the subject, but you see how awkward it now is for him. ‘Sort of takes the wind out of our sails,’ said one of the CNN pundits who were there ostensibly to heap scorn on Trump as though the difference between the president and the mass media were as obvious as that between black and white.”

Trump himself bristled at the new requirements at a televised campaign rally, lambasting “the fake news media” for being “dishonest, bad people and enemies of the nation,” before he rolled his eyes at the troublesome consumer protection law which compelled him to reveal in his very next sentence, “Mind you, my administration is publicly ranked as being Only Slightly Less Evil than the Mainstream News Outlets.

“Still,” the president ad-libbed to lift his spirits, “the lesser of two evils is nothing to sneeze at, am I right?” He looked out at the audience, perhaps expecting raucous applause at his witticism, but crickets could distinctly be heard from all four corners of the stadium. 

The president went on to say, “Specifically, the awful mainstream media are, according to public wisdom as represented by the polls, Loathed Across the Land for being in the Shady Business of Distracting the Nation with Infotainment, being altogether In the Pocket of an Oligopoly of Plutocratic Corporations that Parasitically Thrives on World-Destroying Consumer Culture.”

The president chuckled and said, “See, I told you so. Didn’t I call it? But they’re saying I’ve got to add this next bit, so now would be a good time for you folks to go get a coffee or something. So, uh, my own administration is also judged by the overwhelming majority of Americans as being…let’s see here…uh, a Clown Car of Traitorous Fools and Babysitters who have Thrown America’s Good Reputation into a Sturdy Box, Locked that very Box and Hurled it into the Sea, whereupon that Reputation Sank to the Very Bottom, Never Again to be Seen nor Heard from by Anyone Now Living.

“Seems kind of harsh to me. Oh, but I see I’m not done, since it looks like I now have to add—what a pesky law this is!—well, let’s see here, it says the polls conclude that I, President Trump, am By a Wide Margin the Very Worst President in American History and am Simply Odious in Every Respect Relevant to Anyone Holding High Office or Merely to Anyone Attempting to be a Worthwhile Person.”

Sneering at the teleprompter, the president said, “According to the numbers, then—but who can trust these numbers, even though they come from most Americans, not just from the establishment—yeah, the numbers say the mass media and the Trump administration are Roughly Equal in their Degree of Evil Inhumanity, rather than the One being Evil and the Other being Anything Close to Good.”

The president proceeded to regain the crowd’s enthusiasm, by regaling it with unseemly rumours and innuendos.

Rebranding themselves after Hillary Clinton’s devastating loss of the presidency to Mr. Trump, Democratic Senator Belinda Lacksaclue, attempted to reassure her party’s base, reminding them that “Democrats stand for progress and for supporting the middle class even if that should mean raising taxes on the richest one percent who’ve benefitted too long from our economy that’s been rigged in the rich’s favour.”

Mandated by the new law, however, Senator Lacksaclue was compelled to add that a large majority of Americans, including the half that doesn’t vote at all, estimated that her entire political party “is Technically Beneath Contempt as well as being Roughly Equal to Republicans in its Bewildering Contribution to the Ludicrously-Dysfunctional State of American Democracy.”

The Senator soon regained her rhythm, promising that, despite that evidence of the public’s “sobering assessment” of her party’s value and reason for being, Democrats would “dedicate themselves to carrying out the will of the American working class.”

No sooner had she uttered that platitude than the consumer protection mandate kicked in, dictating that she add, “It turns out, though, that, um, most Americans deem the Democrats to be as Manifestly Untrustworthy as the Mainstream Media, both of which being Obviously Hypocritical and Contemptible for Just that Reason.

“Yes, well, we must all do our best, mustn’t we?” muttered the senator, a half smile on her face as she looked up from her notes, possibly expecting a smattering of merciful applause from the assembled registered Democrats.

Again, however, all that could be heard were crickets.


  1. As often as politicians say things like "The American people agree with me in saying [insert claim here]," it would be nice if they had to add, as a disclaimer "The American people overwhelmingly do not agree with me at all."

    I don't believe there are many institutions that a parent would gladly encourage their kids to be part of anymore. The Church? The business community? A politician?

    1. There are charities that help make the world better. Hospitals, too, obviously help many people. Any institution sets up a conflict, though, between the individual member and the interests of the collective, just as the individual inevitably conflicts with the good of the species. (Death serves the species, to make room for new genes, but the sentient individual doesn't want to die.)

      In the case of business institutions, there's still enormous incentive to join them, to make money. It's just that the good in capitalism has nothing to do with morality (unless you're an egoistic, self-interested utilitarian). Instrumentally, we usually need to join a business to make money to achieve our personal goals, but most jobs require selling-out. We need to compromise on our ideals, hoping that the end justifies the means.

      But with regard to the spectacle of American politics, as it's captured by the mass media, we have a special kind of ugliness. Trump's "administration," Congress, and the corporate media are all widely loathed, but the members of each speak of themselves as though they were heroic and their opponents are evil. In reality, all three are abominable only to slightly different degrees. So it's a mud-slinging match between three sides that are already covered in a shell of mud twelve feet thick.