“Red States, Inc.”
Art and commentary by Dr. Bob Hieronimus
High-quality reprint posters of this piece are available for $15 postage included with a free 8-page interpretation booklet.
This piece came to me after reading a powerful essay by Stephan Schwartz entitled “Social Values, Social Wellness: Can We Know What Works?” (first published in the SchwartzReport EXPLORE March/April 2012, Vol. 8, No. 2). Schwartz is a researcher, writer and editor on trends that are affecting the future, and in this article he was very careful to rely solely on statistical data rather than political opinion. He allows the statistical data to demonstrate the difference in the health and wellbeing of people living where progressive values and social welfare programs are endorsed, as compared to the health and wellbeing of the populations where conservative social beliefs are emphasized and social welfare programs are not endorsed. It’s quite clear from the data: more compassion for others = greater health and prosperity for all.
Stephan Schwartz asks: “Does the conservative theocratic worldview of the right, or the more inclusive social progressive left produce better outcomes”? He defines “better outcomes” as statistics that indicate greater wellness. Schwartz wonders: “Can we answer it in an objectively veriﬁable way? Can we avoid the mires of theological or ideological dispute? Can we know with surety which set of values produces greater social wellness? The answer: Yes, we can. And we can do it on the basis of data, with no reference to polemics, ideology, or theology. Just data. … Thanks to a network of excellence, created through the meticulous work of hundreds of researchers, publishing thousands of studies, we can work out an answer in which we can repose signiﬁcant conﬁdence. And we should.”
After reading “Social Values, Social Wellness” in my mind I developed a mythical place called “Red States, Inc.” and this is the exaggerated visual of what you see here. This is what happens when the ancient maxim of “As Above So Below” is filtered through greed and selfishness. This is what happens when corporations are given all the benefits of real live people without being held to any of the ethical and legal, or even taxable, standards that accompany personhood.
When the corporations and the nefarious political manipulators behind their all-consuming power are able to fill the skies and the very air we breathe and the food we eat with their messages of greed and corporate dominance, then the air, the food, and the real live people turn into robots. The point is, these robots are dying and suffering in statistically higher numbers in states that legislate along conservative social values than their fellow Americans in more progressive areas. In “Red States, Inc.” you see the red robots driving through dying cornfields that are filled with Genetically Modified Organisms. The sky above is on fire with some kind of Armageddon-like storm, and overhead flies a bomber plane towing the banners of some of the corporate advertisers who are dictating profit over wellness.
Now, of course, I know that there are a lot of clear-minded progressive and compassionate people living in “Red States”, just as there are a lot of greedy, evil politicos and people who want corporations to have all the benefits of personhood who are living in “Blue States”. The name of this piece is simply a shorthand way of referring to the differences in values that predominate in the one vs. the other and how they filter down to actual health and happiness of the individuals.
Before reading my commentary describing the details in my artwork, I urge you to first read the full report by Stephan Schwartz, which can be found here: www.21stcenturyradio.com/news/Social-Wellness-Stephan-Schwartz.html
INTERPRETATION OF “RED STATES, INC.” BY DR. BOB HIERONIMUS
What we see in my piece “Red States, Inc.” is a parade of vehicles driven by robotic people who have bought into the rhetoric of their political leaders and right wing commentators. They blithely drive along the road of life parroting infantile phrases like “Guns don’t kill” and “Our way or no way.” They believe the fabricated construct created for them as their version of reality: every man for himself, and becoming as rich as possible should be everyone’s goal, and their version of Christian values should be imposed on all Americans. I guess when your diet consists mainly of nutritiously empty junk food, and your education is a steady stream of misinformation from FOX and right wing talk show hosts, it is easier to be swayed by such advertising. There is always hope, however, that some will wake up from the brainwashing. Exposing this brainwashing for what it is, is what this piece is all about.
My preferred artform is one that allows for multiple interpretations. I am not attracted so much to realistic renderings that look exactly like the object in reality. I also enjoy adding subtle and stealthy elements to my work that are not seen or appreciated without close scrutiny. That is why I usually prepare a written guide like this one for viewers who want to slowly make your way around the piece and appreciate all the hidden elements and understand their message.
PARADE OF VEHICLES
“Promised Land Or Bust” Sports Car
Let’s start on the bottom right with the high-powered sports car, which is one of the first elements I created for this piece.
Inside we find two red beings who do not appear normal, because they are more like robots than humans, parading proudly in the direction of what they believe is the Promised Land of wealth and happiness. They have painted on the side of their sports car “Promised Land or Bust” and beneath that I added “Fair and Balanced?” with a question mark. The pole for their car flag is topped by a red cross, and the flag states “Profit Over Wellness.” There is a red cross also on the front of the car in place of the sole headlight, and a black serpent serves as the hood element. There is fire spitting from both the front and rear of this overpowered, polluting vehicle, and notice how the bottom of the cab is bulging out like a pot belly due to the obesity of its two passengers. Both of the wheels are spinning fiery swastikas as a reference to similarities with the Nazi regime’s “Our Way or No Way” philosophy that ultimately resulted in the massacre of over 10 million persons who chose “other ways”, such as Jews, Gypsies, Freemasons, astrologers, and indigenous nations. Other links between the Nazi party and the GOP can be found in books like Blowback: The First Full Account of America's Recruitment of Nazis and Its Disastrous Effect on The Cold war, Our Domestic and Foreign Policyby Christopher Simpson. The occupants of this car are oblivious to the deadly poison they are spewing from the exhaust as indicated by the skull atop the swirling mass of carbon that is filtering into the car behind them.
“Guns Don’t Kill” SUV
We cannot see the occupants of the red all-terrain vehicle that follows the sports car in the parade because they have filled their windows with slogans. Most clearly, we can see on the side of the car the absurd phrase “Guns Don’t Kill”. Of course they do – and the savage mentality of the right wing inspiring their followers to “lock and load” and take target practice on progressive politicians is only increasing the violent lunacy of the fringe elements of our society. Rationality is often compromised by visceral emotions in this mythical land of “Red States, Inc.” Shoot first and ask questions later saves time and money, I guess. The messages that are blacking out the windows of visibility for this vehicle’s occupants state: “Our Way or No Way,” “Corporations Are People”, and “No Global Warming.” Because the SUV has a bigger carbon footprint than the sports car, its plume of deadly carbon exhaust is larger, and is topped by both a skull and the crossed bones, indicating death with even greater potency. Once again this death is flowing directly into the car behind them.
“Uninsured” Pickup Truck
The final vehicle in the parade is a little hard to see because it has been painted in camouflage in an unsuccessful attempt to hide its pollution. The most striking thing about this vehicle is the big state flag of the lone star state of Texas propped in the truck bed, to which I added the word “Uninsured”. Why single out Texas? Because when you compare the lists of the ten most violent states and the ten most religious states, Texas is right up there near the top of both. Texas is a firmly “red” state, and as the home of the George H. W. and W. Bush dynasties, its flag serves as a good metaphor for our mythical “Red States, Inc.”. For all its conservative religious values, Texas children are raised in much more violent surroundings than children raised in a so-called blue state like Vermont. Stephan Schwartz’s essay “Social Values, Social Wellness” quotes from a study done by the BBC that compared the two:
If you look closely at the exhaust fumes from the pickup truck you will see they are made up of the letters “GE”. General Electric may advertise that they “bring good things to life” but under the camouflage, GE is actually one of our planet’s greatest polluters and near the top of the EPA’s list of Superfund toxic waste sites. It was not until “Deadly Deception”, the 1991 Academy Award®-winner for Best Short Documentary, uncovered the disastrous environmental and health impacts of GE’s production of nuclear materials, that GE pulled out of the nuclear weapons industry. Read more about the GE boycott and film here. But the worst infraction, in my mind, is when President Ronald Reagan opened up the floodgates for the co-opting of the news media by The Corporation by allowing his old pals General Electric to purchase NBC. When that happened, he basically ensured that NBC would no longer give uncompromised reporting on GE’s problems with nuclear waste and pollution. Would it be unfair to ask right now how much GE benefits today from “corporate welfare”? How many tax breaks is it given on the basis of being a large and powerful corporation? Corporations may want to have the rights of real people when it comes to voting, but they sure don’t want to have the responsibilities of real people when it comes to paying taxes.
The wheels on the pickup truck both feature red crosses, with the front wheel also stating the motto for Red States, Inc.: “Our Way.” The words painted over the windows summarize just what that way is about. They state “Citizens United”, which is the landmark 2010 decision by the right wing of the Supreme Court giving more power to corporations and super PACs to raise unlimited funds for influencing elections without disclosing the names of their donors. The election cycle is now open to the highest bidder and the camouflaged money flowing into campaigns is undermining the true meaning of representative law making and keeping.
The nonprofit advocacy organization Common Cause is one of many working tirelessly to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. As they explained to us on 21st Century Radio, not only was the 5-4 majority vote in favor of Citizens United injurious to what our founders intended, but both Justices Thomas and Scalia should have recused themselves for conflicts of interest. Based on this failure of proper disclosure Common Cause is pursuing a retroactive recusal that would overturn the Court’s decision. If it is determined this decision was made unchecked by the standard code of ethics it is all the more appalling in light of the results. While originally arguing their decision would give the individual citizen a greater voice, their ruling, in fact, gave the special interests with the biggest bucks the biggest say in any election, local or national. Equating The Corporation with the citizen is not only an absurd interpretation of the sovereign person, it reflects what any banana republic knows – “he who holds the gold rules.” Citizens United represented neither citizens nor sovereign individuals, but instead special interests that can now secretly curry favor from, and even hand pick whom they want in office.
AIRPLANE TOWING ADVERTISING BANNERS
The “Stealth Bomber Advertiser” Plane
Speaking of camouflage, let’s look now at the airplane in the top left of this piece. I know it’s difficult to distinguish the boundaries of this plane from the electric sky behind it in the full piece, and that is because it is a “stealth” plane, in so far as those who are manipulating America’s dumbing down don’t want you to know who is driving the plane. It needs invisibility to successfully carry the corporations that are towed behind on the banner. The Corporation is the foundation of “Red States, Inc.” I chose black and red for the colors in the plane, again as a nod to the Nazi regime so similar in goals of dominating individual personhood. In the driver’s seat is Monsanto, the champion of Genetically Modified Foods and pesticide-driven agriculture, which is apparently responsible for the new and mysterious mass die-offs of nature’s pollinators like the bees and butterflies, which in turn is threatening the world’s food supply. Genetically Modified Foods not only lack nutrition, but their side effects even include death when tested on laboratory animals. We’ll return to the subject of Genetically Modified Foods later in this commentary, but just remember that Monsanto, the largest proponent of this dubious technology, initially marketed its herbicide called Roundup as “safe as table salt”. Thanks to new independent research studies, unfortunately, we now know that the main ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, is both genotoxic and endocrine disrupting (i.e. carcinogenic) even at levels far lower than those allowed in agricultural spraying.
Just below Monsanto on the plane, and also leading the pack of names (which you’ll notice are all intertwined and supporting one another) is FOX Broadcasting. While the right-leaning bias of reporting and opinion on the FOX Network has long been common knowledge, more interesting by far to me were the university studies performed in the last few years demonstrating that people who relied exclusively on FOX for their news were the least informed of all people in the study. FOX viewers consistently score the lowest in tests asking for the location and names of relevant places and people in current world events and history. As one commentator on Huffington Post summed it up: “Fox News viewers are idiots. This is pretty much common knowledge worldwide.”
Filling in the rear is Exxon who earned the right to appear on the plane with the millions of dollars they gave to spurious think tank organizations to manufacture media opposition to the worldwide scientific consensus that climate change is increasing – and the industry of Exxon is a main culprit. How much does Exxon evade on taxes through corporate welfare? Just as all the big polluting corporations in this country, Exxon operates under something like a “most favored nation” status as far as not having to pay taxes or regulation fines.
Tucked secretly below Exxon is the word Rove, as in Karl Rove, who, like Dick Cheney, was one of the evil masterminds behind the debacle known as the W Bush Administration. Now released back into the wilds of private life where he can do even more damage, Rove is leading the charge of the political manipulators taking advantage of the Citizens United ruling and raising anonymous money by the bucketful behind the smokescreen of a non-partisan non-profit Super PAC.
Just above the plane’s wheel base is a skull and crossbones which could stand for death or poison, or even Yale’s secret society that continues to hold “Geronimo’s skull” captive despite years of protest from Native Americans. Below them is the most recognizable symbol in this entire piece, the M of McDonalds, here representing America’s obsession with the empty calories of fast food, and why our poor nutrition has resulted in an obesity epidemic.
Finally, in the tail of the plane is the symbol we all most admire when in the “Red State, Inc.” frame of mind, and that’s dollars, or mega bucks. This is the only thing on the plane depicted in bright colors, and that is because there’s no stealth about it: money is more valued than anything – even life!
“Eyes On” Aerial Advertising Banner Behind the Plane
While the leaders of the pack in the stealth bomber may not be interested in your knowing their identity, their sponsors who are firmly attached to the dollar sign on the tail are big and bold with their advertising banners. We’ve already reviewed the various reasons why Monsanto, FOX, GE, and Exxon, have made my list of some of this nation’s most nefarious corporations and polluters, but who is Sauron, you might be asking, and whose eye is that? Well, if you’re asking yourself that, it means you have not read J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings or seen Peter Jackson’s film versions of this 20th Century mythology. If you had, you would know Sauron represents pure evil, the baddest of the bad, the destroyer of the environment who controls minds through his single-eyed purpose, and indiscriminately mows down those who stand for freedom of thought, choice and religion.
BILLBOARDS OF DEATH
The billboards were my first idea to transmit the mottoes of “Red States, Inc.” and their prevalence in this piece is an indication of the creeping tentacles of billboard-style advertising surrounding us everywhere we look these days: from video screens in grocery stores to ads popping onto the display while you pump your gas, the insidious invasion of incessant advertising helps reinforce the profit driven motive to sustain The Corporation with the lifeblood of our cash.
The “Barbershop Pole” Billboard
The first billboard in the rear on the left starts out with “Our Way or No Way” at the top. In friendly warm colors and stripes, it welcomes us to “Red States, Inc.” where the statistics show we have greater problems with poor nutrition and the resulting disease, medications, obesity, diabetes, and prescription drug use that come with such a diet. These billboard proclamations are based on the data collected by Stephan Schwartz in his “Social Values, Social Wellness” article. He reports:
Notice also on this first billboard the quality of the lettering appears sloppy and rough. I even left in pencil marks in the background and deliberately misspelled Monsanto. These demonstrations of childish ignorance is one way of depicting the sloppy thinking of the residents of “Red States, Inc.” Particularly for those who get all their news from the FOX Network that churns out sloppy conclusions, sloppy thinking is bound to be the result. All the billboards in this piece were lettered to depict this same sort of rough and careless manner.
The “Black and White” Red, White and Blue Billboard
The second billboard is a replica of the first except a change in colors. Most of the color has been removed to reflect the tendency of “Red States, Inc.” inhabitants to see the world in black and white, and issues in terms of only good and bad. There is no room for any grey area of thinking. At least this time they took the trouble of spelling Monsanto right when they repeated the corporate mantra of supporters for their philosophy of life. Our Way or No Way.
As Stephan Schwartz points out, the states moderated by more conservative theological leaders not only rank the highest in terms of cases of obesity and diabetes and prescription medications, but ironically, they also have the highest rates of divorce:
The “Feminine Pastel” Billboard
The third billboard is done in a flowing design and pastel colors in an attempt to ease the minds of women, who, as nurturers, tend to vote along the lines of more social wellness when not subjected to the relentless manipulation of “Red States, Inc.” Don’t miss the tiny red cross on top of this billboard as a reminder that the Christian right wing wants us to believe America was founded to be a Christian nation.
The prettiness of this billboard almost hides its message that in “Red States, Inc.” the data shows more obesity and less education. From Stephan Schwartz’s “Social Values, Social Wellness” article:
The BBC reports, “In looking at key indicators of well-being, children from Texas are twice as likely to drop out of high school as children from Vermont. They are four times more likely to be uninsured, four times more likely to be incarcerated, and nearly twice as likely to die from abuse and neglect.” (National Child Abuse Statistics. Child-help. Accessed December 16, 2011.)
The “Attempted Flag” Billboard
The fourth billboard shows an attempt at making the American flag the foundation for their statement, but notice what they’ve done to the blue section. Prejudiced against blue because of their antagonism against blue states, they have diminished the field of blue (which in our own flag stands for the heavens or perseverance and justice), as well as varying the widths of the red and white stripes (which in our own flag stand for the parity of the original 13 states). In this “flag” the first red stripe with “Welcome to Red States, Inc.” is hugely disproportional to the others. Hidden inside the remaining stripes are some of the other facts you are welcomed to in the land of “Red States, Inc.” These include child abuse, a higher maternal death rate, and family rapes and murders. Why are these atrocities occurring more frequently in states that profess to hold conservative theological values? Stephan Schwartz collated the data:
The “Reddest of the Red” Billboards
The fifth billboard in the back row is a repeat of the messages of the first two billboards, but this time it is rendered primarily in the color red. The sponsors were left off, but we’ve returned to the childish motto of “Our Way or No Way”. They may have “no” health care for those who cannot afford to pay for it, but at least they also have “no” global warming! Unfortunately for the rest of us, however, the assertion that there is no man-made impact on climate change is a fabrication of The Corporation, peddled to the followers of the “Red States, Inc.” mentality in order to protect their current means of profit-making without regard to pollution of the future. Their advertising dollars are paying off so well that there is growing sentiment among “Red States, Inc.” to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency – along with anything else that stands in the way of maximizing profits!
The “Dick Cheney Yellow” Billboard
In front of the parade of vehicles is a row of three more billboards. The first on the left stands out in bright yellow welcoming the CIA and particularly former Vice President Dick Cheney with his links to the mind control program called MK-ULTRA. Featuring two tiny tombstones, this billboard also includes the name of Frank Olson, the unfortunate CIA official who suffered at the hands of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Although first revealed to the public in Congressional hearings in 1975, there is still little known for certain about the CIA-sponsored mind control and assassination programs like MK-ULTRA. We do know, however, that some of the psychoactive drug interrogation techniques begun by those programs are still being used today.
According to a new book about the mysterious death of Frank Olson by H.P. Albarelli, called A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments, p. 524:
The “Stylized” Child Abuse Billboard
The middle billboard in the front is another attempt at an artistic rendering in softer, muted tones to hide the ugly truth of the message. Welcome to “Red States, Inc.” where the data show the promises of this land include more child abuse and more family rapes. Topping off this message is another red cross, as if to say the Christian Church serves as a haven for these activities. Here is how Stephan Schwartz reported it:
The “Red White and Blues” of Maternal Mortality Billboard
The final billboard is predominantly red, white and blue and repeats many of the same claims to fame for “Red States, Inc.” including less education, more child abuse, more family rapes and murders, and valuing profit over individual wellness. All brought to you thanks to the continuous stream of fabricated realities spun out by General Electric, FOX, Exxon, and Monsanto, among others. In regards to the high rate of death for mothers giving birth in the United States, Stephan Schwartz quotes United Nations data and The Association of Reproductive Health Professionals as saying “between 1990 and 2008, while the vast majority of countries reduced their maternal mortality ratios for a global decrease of 34%, maternal mortality nearly doubled in the United States.” He goes on to conclude that it is very unlikely the U.S. will meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goal for a reduction of maternal mortality by 75 percent by the year 2015. (Goal 5: Improved Maternal Health. United Nations. Accessed December 16, 2011.)
Clearly, women’s issues are not a priority in “Red State, Inc.” mentality. Some of this antipathy can be traced to the conservative theological values of the Christian far right, who interpret the Bible as literal prose instead of the metaphorical poetry it was written to be. That is how the Christian right has come to distort the creation myth of the Garden of Eden to mean that all women must suffer for all time as a consequence of Eve’s tempting Adam with the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. If women are supposed to suffer the pangs of childbirth because of this sin, then the childish conclusion is that no assistance or alleviation of this suffering should be offered to the birthing mother. If she dies in childbirth, it must have been God’s will.
THE NO-NO-GMO CORNFIELDS
Serving as a road for the parade of “Red States, Inc.” vehicles is a trampled and dying field of corn. I chose corn both because it symbolizes the life-blood of the Earth to the Native Americans, and also because it is one of the top genetically modified crops. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, over 80% of all corn planted in the U.S. (and upwards of 90% of all soybean and cotton) are genetically modified. (Accessed September 29, 2012.) Aside from the concern about the unknown long-term effects of ingesting pesticides and mutated genes, many farmers are even more concerned about the corruption of their organic or heirloom seeds by seed drift from GMO fields nearby. Corn is wind-pollinated, and even wild corn is showing up as contaminated by GM strains.
You can tell this is a GM field by looking carefully between the detritus of the dying stalks to see the repetition of hundreds of the letters “N” and “O” or “no” repeated throughout the entire bottom of “Red States, Inc.” The “No-No-No-No Cornfield” is not only providing the poison feeding the vehicles that travel upon it, but it is also drifting above to the neighbor’s cornfield, giving birth to unhealthy life forms floating out towards the billboard row. Thanks to lobbying tactics by Monsanto, this field is labeled more clearly than any GMO products that reach your supermarket. This upper field is marked by the repetition of the letters “G-M-O” that transform upwards into dying spirits. No wonder Sauron is proud to be affiliated with such tactics.
Monsanto is savvy enough to know that the average consumer would reject any food labeled clearly as genetically manipulated. Unlike the governments in the U.K. and Europe that responded to public outcry, the U.S. government has allowed Monsanto and others the privilege of secretly selling us “Frankenfood” with the hopes that you will not find out and do your own research to learn about the serious health problems (including death) that can result. What’s good for the Monsanto Corporation is bad for humans -- especially farmers.
How bad? A new study by the Committee for Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology demonstrated convincingly that GMO agriculture causes cancer in lab rats. The study observed laboratory rats fed for two years the Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize, and compared them with rats fed maize grown with or without Roundup, as well as Roundup alone at levels permitted in drinking water and crops. The study authors concluded that not only did consumption of a genetically modified food crop cause tumor growth and death, but so did Roundup itself. Particularly at risk are females, as the results were heavily sex and hormone dependent. "In female animals, the largest tumors were in total 5 times more frequent in males after 2 years, with 93% being mammary tumors." They also "...observed a strikingly marked induction of mammary tumors by R[oundup] alone...even at the very lowest dose administered."
OH MY HEAVENS, IT’S ARMAGEDDON
The violent blues and purples in the skies overhead “Red States, Inc.” demonstrate the destructive energy that permeates a land ruled by The Corporation and motivated by maximizing profit and greed. The Corporate “gods” of this Armageddon need not concern themselves with social or individual wellness. As seen in the bomber plane dragging the banners, The Corporation feels right at home in this Armageddon. Even though thanks to Citizens United, it has the same voting rights as a real person, The Corporation has no feelings. It knows no compassion, it knows no remorse – it knows only profit as the sole motivating factor.
As I said at the beginning of this commentary, it’s a version of “As Above, So Below”. A sky filled with death from corporate domination is reflected in the death of our food supply through Genetically Modified Organisms and the monopoly of agribusinesses.
Is profit over wellness what you believe? Do you accept the excuses from The Corporation that we are not our brother’s keeper? Are you ready to welcome unchecked pollution and the decimation of Mother Nature as an exchange for the hollow and short-lived promise of “more jobs”? No? Well, then join me in a U-turn away from this promised land of “Red States, Inc.” Join me in awakening others from this nightmare, and speak out against further attempts to turn our earthly paradise into a graveyard. If we don’t put an end to the Corporate domination of our food, water, air, health care and political system, then Mother Nature may be called upon to end it for us. If She does it for us, however, it would likely mean the end of the world as we know it, and I’m sure most of us in both Red States and Blue States would agree that that would truly be a waste.
Open your minds, and before it’s too late, open your mouths and speak up. Boycott the “Red States, Inc.” mentality.
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