In the 1890s, when the chief editor of the British Daily Mail was asked, “What sells a newspaper?,” he gave a three-letter cynical reply: “War.” The Daily Mail was the first half-penny paper in the UK, specifically directed toward an audience that had no deeper ambitions but to be entertained. At the time, wars supplied the best entertainment for that public. Cheap stories of battles and horrors of war kept the readers spending their half-pennies. The paper was instrumental in stirring the public opinion in favor of war against Germany in 1910-1914. Later, during the 1930s, Daily Mail acted as a propaganda paper in England for the German Nazis and the Italian Fascisti, as well as for their British counterpart, Oswald Mosley. Cheap entertainment, combined with political positions contrary to traditional Christian morality, was what sold the paper.
These days, if the chief editor of The Daily Mail is asked, “What sells a newspaper?,” he’ll probably have his modern three-letter cynical reply: “USA.” Its readers are often entertained with weird, dubious, and very often patently untrue stories about the United States. This last week The Daily Mail didn’t miss an opportunity to tell one of its “stories” about America: The tunnel people of Las Vegas: How 1,000 live in flooded labyrinth under Sin City’s shimmering strip
In short, a Daily Mail photographer discovered a community of very poor people who live in the flood tunnels of Las Vegas, using the cast-offs of the luckier residents to “furnish” their subterranean “homes.” They live off scavenging the slot machines in the casinos above for left behind chips. In their “homes” in the tunnels, the conditions are appalling, with water leaking through the walls of the tunnels and the stink in the air.
The article doesn’t make any value judgments as to the reasons for the condition the Vegas “tunnel people” live in. But the message is not lost on the British public, thoroughly programmed for over a century to think in socialist, Marxist categories. The comments under the article – over 150 of them – all point to the alleged shortcomings of the American society to “care for its poor.” How sad it is that America has so many rich, and they don’t care for their poor. Only a portion of those riches will help these “tunnel people.” How is it that America has such a gap between the poor and the rich. America is an unjust society if it treats its poor in such a way. This is what happens to a nation that doesn’t have a good welfare system. Witness the failure of the American way of life. And so on.
The editors of The Daily Mail did not make any such remarks in the article. But they know how to stir their readers’ emotions in the desired direction. Cheap emotions always sell newspapers. More than that, cheap emotions always sell ideologies. And the European newspapers are in the business of selling an ideology – the ideology of socialism. And The Daily Mail knows its business very well.
Of course, any person with any logical reasoning left will note the fact that the characters in the article are drug addicts. The article specifically states that the family interviewed lost their house because of their addiction to heroine. Drugs are expensive here in the US, and it takes special effort to find them (this is not Amsterdam, you know). The “poor” tunnel family made a self-conscious choice to spend their money on drugs. It was a moral choice. No one forced them to make it. They made the decision to change their lifestyle. Then they made a decision to move to Las Vegas, because someone told them “there were jobs available.” They knew that wasn’t exactly true: While jobs may be available in Las Vegas, the casino industry is very sensitive to the drug and alcohol history of the potential employees. The “poor” in the article made the choice to move there anyway, knowing that they weren’t qualified to be employed in Las Vegas. After years of unemployment they are still making the choice to stay in Vegas, even though it is obvious there are no jobs for hem there. They could have moved to Texas where there are plenty of jobs, and some industries are not so sensitive to the personal history of the candidates. One of the characters admits they found $900 once in a slot machine. $900 can take a person to any place in the United States, using a train or a Greyhound bus. But they prefer to stay in Vegas.
Of course, The Daily Mail and the commentaries under the article don’t mention other examples of desperately poor people in America. On November 11, 1620 a group of desperately poor and destitute people had to land on the inhospitable land of Cape Cod. There were no flood tunnels to live in, there were no slot machines to scavenger, and there were no food leftovers from restaurants. And yet, the poor people of the Plymouth Colony survived and laid the beginning of modern America. In the 1840s and 1850s, thousands of American families, having only a portion of what the modern “poor” in Las Vegas have, crossed the Great Plains to find their own land and destiny, and start new life for themselves and their children. They lived in houses made of mud, they worked the land, they barely survived, but they made history. Desperately poor people came from England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Eastern Europe, Greece – and within a generation or two they became wealthy, or middle class, using the opportunities their new country gave them. Even today, millions of immigrants come to America, very often having less than what the American “poor” enjoy, and make their living, and they don’t have to live in tunnels.
In fact, historically, no one has ever started rich in America. Any wealth that we see is the product of generations of future-oriented entrepreneurs, or thrifty workers, farmers, tradesmen, and artisans, who worked, saved, and left inheritance to their children. Therefore, no one today has any reason to complain if they remain poor in America. Poverty is not a forced condition; it is a chosen lifestyle. Blaming the rich for the conditions of a few poor misses the fact that those rich were poor before, and made it.
But the readers of The Daily Mail cannot think logically. Their minds are anesthetized against the real world. The Daily Mail is a tabloid newspaper. It is commonly accepted today that “tabloid” refers to the format and the layout of a newspaper. In reality, the “tabloid format” became popular much later, in 1918; and the term “tabloid journalism” became popular 17 years earlier, when “Tabloid” was the trademark name for a painkiller sold in a compressed tablet. “Tabloid journalism” became the name for the kind of shallow, “compressed” journalism that served as a mental “painkiller” for the masses. Its goal was not to look at the issues of the day from a moral perspective, but to give its readers the escape from the “evil of the day” in entertainment and stirring of cheap emotions. Tabloid journalism was the way to sway the masses without ever letting them think of the deeper implications of what has been said.
In the past, it was war that created those cheap emotions and sold a newspaper. Today, it’s manipulation through guilt.
And that’s what the goal of the above article is: Make the American society a target to blame, create an imaginary guilt which the American society is supposed to bear for “mistreating” its poor and weak. By creating this guilt, the newspaper will stir the cheap emotions of its British readers, enhance their sense of self-righteousness, and draw their attention away from the real problems of their own society. Everyone likes to hear how other people are wicked and unrighteous – this by implication creates a sense of their own righteousness and moral purity. The imaginary guilt of the American society is used as a painkiller to suppress the awareness of the real moral problems of the British society.
The Daily Mail is not the only newspaper to do that. European journalism in general likes to serve the image of the “bad and ugly capitalist America” as a painkiller drug to the European public – to the point where their readers are addicted to it. But every drug addiction comes at a price. Addiction to false reality eventually makes a person weak and incapacitated to meet the problems in the real world. Just like the characters in the article, drug addicts eventually end up living in flooded tunnels, eating the crumbs from someone else’s table. And European populations that once produced the most prosperous and moral civilizations in history, are now drugged to the point where they have to eat the crumbs of someone else’s table.
Guilt-manipulation is a powerful tool for control. And the elites of Europe in the last two generations have been building the culture of guilt-manipulation, step by step, line upon line, precept upon precept. People make moral choices, and they pay for them when they live in a moral society. But no, the European elites say, individuals are not responsible for their own lives, it is the society as a whole that bears the responsibility and guilt for the individuals’ conditions of living. Therefore, if we have poor among us, it must be the fault of those that are rich; if we have broken families, it must be the fault of those that have strong families; if we have bankrupt businesses, the fault must lie with the successful businesses; if we have alcoholics and drug addicts, the fault must lie with those that exercise self-control and soberness. The successful are to be blamed for the evils in the society; and therefore the successful are those to be penalized if we are to “redeem” our society from its “sins.”
The truth that people make individual moral choices and are judged for them is lost on those that are manipulated through guilt. The successful are helpless to justify their success. In reality, it is the product of their superior morality and the practical outcome of it. But in an atmosphere of guilt-manipulation, success is believed to come from unjust exploitation or “mistreatment.” What is the “moral” thing to do if success is only the product of “robbing the poor”? Part with your wealth, of course.
So when the government comes knocking at the doors of those that are wealthy to confiscate their wealth, they have no recourse against it. More and more the European governments have appropriated wealth and power for the state, and the peoples of Europe have been helpless to stop the march to tyranny. In fact, they have welcomed that robbery of their wealth and freedom in the name of “righting the wrongs” they have allegedly committed against those “less fortunate” than them. The pain of having their wealth and liberty taken away has been killed by the painkiller of guilt-manipulation. Europe has been drugged by the “tabloid ideology” of socialism.
America is not completely there yet. But the attempts to drug our society with the same painkiller of guilt-manipulation have been going for decades now. Americans, with their ingrained belief in personal moral responsibility, have been more resistant to guilt-manipulation. The history of America has shown that the “poor” can solve their own problems by simply changing their moral attitudes to life, work, and the future. But we have allowed our politicians and the media to serve us regular doses of guilt-manipulation, and we have bought into some of it. “Industry destroys the environment,” and therefore we need laws to curb industrial development. “Millions of Americans can’t afford health insurance,” and therefore we need government confiscation of our private healthcare. “Farmers need support,” and therefore we have allowed our government to confiscate money from the majority of the population and give it to farmers. “Auto industry workers are losing their jobs,” and therefore billions of dollars are wasted in “stimulus packages” for the auto industry. “Old people deserve nice retirement,” and therefore we have poured trillions of dollars into Social Security that is now bankrupt and will destroy the future of a whole generation.
We must reject all this. America’s greatness and prosperity were based on the risk of individual failure. The pain of individual failure, and the examples of individual failure of those that have wasted their time and resources is what gives the rest of us the motivation to work and produce. Personal responsibility is reality, and we must stick to that reality however painful it may be at times; the alternative – the painkiller of blaming the society – will only make us weak and dependent on others. The freedom to be successful only comes at the price of freedom to fail. When we try to redeem the failure of some, that will come only at the price of destroying the success of the many.
If we let us and our children be drugged by the tabloid ideology of socialism, we will end up where Europeans are today – in the tunnels of total tyranny and dependence on their governments. The effect of a drug lasts only for a time. When the effect is over, the person wakes up to the harsh reality. After 70 years of guilt-manipulation in Russia, more than half the population there lives at conditions worse than those of the “tunnel people” in Las Vegas. And they have no slot machines to scavenge. We cannot afford to leave such a world to our children.