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435 Hohners — Our Simplistic Solution to the Nation’s Most Intractable Problem

Friday, August 19, 2011 — In his New York Times column this morning, Paul Krugman points out that the dominant ingredient of the federal government’s response to our economic situation is “awesome wrongness.”

Krugman did not explain why that is, but on the Diane Rehm show this morning, John King did. He argued that the voters bear substantial responsibility because they put enough Tea Partiers in Congress to dominate that body, after having put a Democrat in the White House.

King made no mention of the role, if any, that the national news media might have played in the electorate’s decision-making process. We would posit that the American electorate operates like a computer, at least to this extent: garbage in, garbage out.

The current Congress was elected by a coalition made up of large numbers of low-information voters, led by a smaller number of corporate tools who can play The Mighty Wurlitzer better than E. Power Biggs.

Sadly, The New York Times, CNN, and the nation’s other ubiquitous purveyors of news-like product are not susceptible to reform on any useful timescale.

So far there’s nothing new in this post. Here it comes, now:

To remedy this dismal situation, we propose the creation of 435 Hohners — small, self-supporting weekly or fortnightly tabloid newspapers, autonomous but cooperative — one in each Congressional district, all charged with the same mission: if the incumbent Congressperson puts corporations before people, make that known. If the incumbent puts people before corporations, there will be challengers who do not; make their positions known.

This probably seems utterly impractical. We disagree. Newspapers distributed for free can and do build their own readership. It’s just a matter of creating the content, paying the printer, and managing the distribution. If you put the papers where people can pick them up, they will.

Our cost per reader per year is on the order of $2 or $2.50. And if we pick up more readers, that cost drops. Our costs are covered by our advertising revenue, subscriptions, and contributions.

We’re not big enough to have a significant impact on New Hampshire’s First District, but we’d like to be. We’d have postponed this proposal until we did, but time’s a wasting.

Yes, we did just go on about this a few days ago. And we will again. It’s the only idea we have, and we’re sticking to it. Paraphrasing an earlier New England crank, we will be heard.

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