The greater the disparity in wealth within a society, the greater the disparity between ability to pay in and the greater the suspicion that exists regarding who is and who isn't paying a fair share and who is and who isn't getting his fair share of the benefits. The more suspicion and distrust there is the more poorly the society functions; the society fights itself, tears itself more and more apart, becoming more and more distrustful with each suspicion of someone shirking or someone taking advantage. Distrust, suspicion, resentment, feelings of inequity and unfairness, all have real, quantifiable effects on individual and public health.
Following the world-wide collapse of laissez-faire capitalism in the early 20th century, and the shake-ups and insecurities brought about by two world wars, people did what the members of all social species do when faced with trouble,-they came together in cooperative mutual aid. General MacArthur's Japan rebuilding policies narrowed the divisive economic disparities between classes, and in doing that he created a healthy and prosperous nation out of the ashes of a sickly, suspicious dead-end of extreme disparity and its resultant economic stagnation. Europe rebuilt itself in a generous spirit of collective effort that informed their new economies and their invigorated social ethics. In the US we adopted the ideas of Douglas MacArthur and Maynard Keynes, and enjoyed a generation of belief in what worked so well for us,-a trust in mutually beneficial collectivism with government management.
Trust is self-perpetuating; it takes an egregious violation of the belief in others to erode that trust. It's looking at the effect rather than the cause to say that governments here and in Europe started betraying society's trust by re-enabling pirate capitalism. Those policy changes were the effect of the cause, the cause being a decades-long, intensive, well-financed effort by moneyed interests to attack the integrity of this trust on two fronts,-to corrupt legislators in government, and to glamorize some glorious mythos of empowered individualism and "enlightened" self-interest.
This corrupting of legislators is not proof that government is inherently an untrustworthy manager. It only proves that people in the public sector can be corrupted by the necessarily pre-existing corruption of the private sector. It only shows that the private sector will always corrupt and undermine the public sector unless prevented from doing so. This means more controls, not fewer.
The paid-for evangelizing for narrow self-interest as a moral good and magical recipe for advancement over others is a knockout punch for trust in others. Self-interested competition reinforces the concentration on individualism. Suspicion of others destroys empathy and enables a solipsistic asocial pathology of ruthlessness. Each anti-social act by others is seen as proof that people are awful creatures, and life becomes a self-protective battle against our fellow men and the danger of a tyranny of any effective organization of others.
"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world....
The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity."
“An economic democracy is a precondition of a political democracy.” (Dennis Kucinich, speaking in Wisconsin)
Conservatives might tend to take that comment as condescending paternalism by a liberal, or worse, a proselytizing for some kind of socialism. But when the SCOTUS can give vast corporations so much electoral clout while Republican state legislatures (such as in Tennessee) propose bills barring union contributions to candidates, it’s no longer reasonable to say that workers have a fair chance to effect beneficial change at the ballot box.
Workers are now forced to take to the streets. They have to gather signatures to recall legislators. They are anything but the passive and soft dregs of a welfare state. They are anything but deeply conservative, no matter how much we’re told they are. They are anything but represented in proportion to their numbers. When the CEO of GE essentially gets a million or so votes for his political choices, through his influence and the power of his money, and the worker gets one vote- providing there’s not a half-dozen new exclusionary laws barring him from even casting that one vote- then that’s not a political democracy. And it’s because there’s no economic democracy.
Would it be fair for some governor to take YOUR money, beyond taxes, to help make up budget shortfalls? No? Then it’s not fair either to take money from teachers and other public workers. It’s neither here nor there that public workers are paid with tax dollars; if it’s not fair to take YOUR money, then it’s not fair to take public workers’ money. But private sector workers are resentful because management IS taking their money to make up for what management considers an inadequate profit. Guided resentment makes the private sector attack fellow workers instead of attacking the political economy that is hurting all workers. Private sector workers see public workers as greedy parasites, lazy receivers of welfare, enemies of decent society. If private sector workers “have to” tighten their belts, then damn it so should public workers, the hurt and resentful private sector workers say.
This is the new class war: private against public. Pitting worker against worker is supposed to keep us from attacking the real enemy,-the political/financial co-dependency that pits all the power in America against the worker. This is so clear to the rest of the world that Wisconsin protestors received moral support –and support in the form of pizza- from individuals and groups around the world, from every continent, including Antarctica. As America goes, so goes- to some extent- the rest of the world, and the world doesn’t want America to return to the Gilded Age of de facto rule by the wealthy and grinding poverty for the masses.
President Truman said “Out of the great progress of this country, out of our great advances in achieving a better life for all, out of our rise to world leadership, the Republican leaders have learned nothing. Confronted by the great record of this country, and the tremendous promise of its future, all they do is croak, ‘socialism.’” Though he said this over half a century ago, it still appears to be at least as true now as then. Eisenhower’s monumental use of the most progressive tax rates we’ve ever seen to build the Interstate Highway System showed that he knew the power of positive socialized spending to profoundly improve the country, but the only recognition of this from his fellow Republicans was accusations of communist ties. It took Democrats to see to it that widows and orphans were not thrown out to the streets, for which they were called socialists. It took Democrats to try, over the past half century, to assure that sickness or accident doesn’t get people thrown out to the streets, for which they are called socialists.
It’s not GDP or the bottom line that makes for a good life. The measure of the success of civilization’s development is the achievement of a life for the masses of useful work enjoyed in the freedom from worry about one’s life being at the whim of charity when old age or illness strikes. Those creations that ease us from constant worry over the unavoidable are hysterically maligned as a socialist pox destroying America, and that’s an absurdity that has to stop. It’s only the wealthy who have a genuine reason to badmouth anything remotely socialist. They have the resources to saturate this country with hysterical dread of anything that eases the lives of the masses, and they’ve been hard at it these past several decades.
It’s the market that constrains us unless government advocates for us. It’s not government that tells us to go into the mines that are clearly unsafe. It’s not the government that drops employee medical insurance, or outsources our jobs. Government could provide jobs, if we didn’t blast it for doing so. It’s not the agencies in government that come up with policies that hurt us; it’s the elected politicians dependent on lobbyist bribes that do this. Government as a whole is not our enemy. It’s because government can be our advocate that it has to be undermined by private power and made an object of ridicule and disdain in the public mind.
We've been like scorpions in a box being shaken into a frenzy of attacking our fellows instead of getting out of the box to sting the tormentor that turns us against each other.
Technically, much of what is identified as Conservative or Republican economic orthodoxy is more properly termed neoliberalism. There’s no liberal element to neoliberalism, despite strained attempts to ascribe social benefits to some of the economic effects of neoliberalism. Neoliberal language uses a familiar emotive vocabulary: individual autonomy, choice, personal responsibility, and the like. Their use has the intent of shifting responsibility and risk from government and corporations onto individuals. The resulting defunding of public agencies transfers control of the economy from public to private sectors, with private sector corporations relieved of responsibility and risk. There’s a surprising reason for neoliberals’ minimization of government, as you’ll see in a minute.
Republicans were hot to bring into their tent the conservative southern states that fled the Democrats after LBJ’s civil rights legislation. Republicans then became the party of conservative “social values”. The overlap between neoliberal social values and conservative social values made an alliance between Republicans and neoliberals mutually beneficial. Since there is no neoliberal party, neoliberals don’t mind being invisible while Republican Conservatives do the heavy lifting for them. Those intensely principled Tea Party Republicans are the co-opted zombies of neoliberals and Conservatives. But wait, don’t leave yet.
In 1971, President Nixon took US currency off the gold standard, and most western nations followed suit. Before that time, budget shortfalls had to be made up for by raising taxes and/or borrowing, usually from the private sector, which gave the private sector a serious measure of control over the government. Replacing regulated asset-backed currencies with fiat currencies meant that governments no longer had to fund their spending. This sounds intuitively wrong,-wrong not only as in incorrect, but also wrong as in immoral, or at least unwholesome. But more about this in a bit.
The onset of WWII forced western nations (well, Japan, too) into massive deficit spending. The result was full employment for the first time since the crash of 1929. The tax revenue realizable with full employment could go so far toward paying off deficits that allowing some net deficit became acceptable. During private sector busts, direct employment by the government provides a buffer to maintain full employment, and public welfare systems for those who can’t work but still consume allow production and consumption and consequent tax revenues that pretty well pay for these welfare systems.
But as long as currencies are asset-backed, deficits are costly debts. With fiat currencies, there needn’t be any borrowing, so there needn’t be any national debt. Why, oh why, then, do western nations with fiat currencies impose unnecessary debt obligations on themselves? (Can’t count EU countries; they gave up their monetary sovereignty when they joined the Union.) I’ll get to this eventually.
Fiscal conservatives are philosophically committed to balanced budgets. As long as we had to balance our budgets or borrow, their argument stood on merit. The financial drain of the Vietnam War during the 1960s rallied them in their efforts, particularly within the sect of fiscal conservatism called neoliberalism. With the 1971 creation of fiat currency, if it became widely understood that deficits no longer mattered, it would discredit core tenets of fiscal conservatism and, by association, conservatism in general, as well as discredit one of neoliberalism’s essential premises, and hence all of neoliberalism’s ideas. To preserve their philosophy, conservatives- and neoliberals through conservatives- seized on the OPEC inflation of the mid-1970s, and its rise in unemployment, to discredit deficit spending, as though its decades-long success could be deemed a failure because it could not stand up to a historic, externally-sourced inflationary shock.
And, cleverly, rather than argue economic theory in their effort to discredit deficit spending, conservatives launched a blitz of emotive talking points: Unemployment, conservatives scolded, was not a temporary glitch in a system under extraordinary circumstances, but was the result of welfare-spoiled low-lifes with no work ethic. Part of the prescribed tough-love schema was fiscal toughness that focused on the effort to falsely equate the budgets of sovereign nations with family budgets. Now, you and I ARE beholden to balance our budgets; sovereign nations with fiat monetary systems are NOT. But since families only know the realities that apply to beholden family budgets, people simply cannot believe, refuse to accept, out of pique, that nations do not have to balance their budgets by some means or another. So without even having to sell the base premise conservatives could build on it and say, without fear of contradiction, that we can’t afford public sector spending because it will bust the budget. This contrived story makes sense to millions of people, here and all over the world, and so this conservative narrative packs lots of political clout. So much so that national leaders have to at least give lip service to it, as though it were not a lot of hooey. And so every president for the past forty years, regardless of party, has, with much gravitas, enunciated this conventional wisdom,-and then ran a deficit (with the notable exception of Bill Clinton).
So governments run deficits because on the one hand they can. But then, on the other hand, they take on debt and ruin the benefit of not having to pay interest, and, as well, ruin the premise that deficits don’t matter. Why do they take on debt when they don’t have to? Well figure it out. Think about it. If sovereign nations with fiat currencies can just print money, so to speak, they could just give it away to their citizens, and no one would have to work. But if no one had to work, who would build factories, work in them, be nurses or teachers or farmers or senators or CEOs? Who would build houses for people who don’t have to work, or run power plants or produce TV shows or make laptops?
And so governments pretend that government budgets are the same as household budgets. They tax us to make the shared sacrifice for the greater good personal and real and meaningful, because there’s no need to raise revenue through taxation. We get up in the dark to go to work and argue over the water cooler about healthcare bills, what else can we do? Because otherwise there wouldn’t be anything for us to buy with our free money. And if money is free, why even bother with it? Trying to imagine what civic life, our personal lives, the existence of nations and governments would be like, may be beyond us. Transitioning to this new paradigm would be the most dangerous gamble mankind has ever tried. And so we’ll stay stuck on the edge, afraid to take the leap of faith, and stick with all those anachronistic ideologies, arguing them as if they made sense or mattered in the least.
The commons,-the parks and roads and police and libraries and community centers and “Sesame Street”,-those things that give us the faith that we are each part of a worthwhile effort over the generations to create and live in a civilized place, a community where we can raise children for eons to come,-this is what the right is taking away from us, brick by brick, under the rubric of “fiscal responsibility.” Everything we’ve paid for all these years to build up, the right is selling it out from under us, “to save the economy.” If we lose the commons to save the economy, is it worth it?
If they take from us what we’ve built, in order to save the economy, whose economy is it that we’re saving? Obviously not ours; ours is the one being sacrificed for some other economy,-you know, the one that’s supposed to “trickle down” to us, the wildly irresponsible one that we’re forced to bail out, again and again.
If there are adults in the room, they’re not the financiers, the bankers, the speculators, the Republicans. Adults are not the ones for whom a greater threat than terrorists is a community organizer! They’re not the ones who claim that it’s prudent to hand over Social Security and Medicare to Wall Street, and hand over our schools to BP and Halliburton.
No, the adults here are those who faced beatings by anti-union goons in service of the belief that working people are no more unworthy of humane treatment than are the millionaires and billionaires who tell us that WE are the children, whining brats dependent on a nanny state. The true adults are those who work to set aside our little contributions to the commons, with the long view of building a permanent structure of civilization for our children and children’s children, unlike the short-sighted views of the get-rich-quick schemers and their corrupting lobbyists. Adults are the ones who pay their taxes, not the corporations and the wealthy who shirk their responsibility and yet still cry all the time that they’re so burdened with taxes that they can’t afford to invest in America, who expect us to support them while they make their millions and billions, who say they’re so indispensible that we cannot exist without them, like the spoiled brats they are.
When Japan is dashed by disaster, it’s the infrastructure BUILDERS who will fix her up again, not the selfish and short-sighted and greedy. When Wisconsin workers start getting Mississippi wages, setting off a flood of foreclosures and a consequent decimating of tax revenue, resulting in a state budget deficit greater than today’s, it will be the believers in humans over blue-in-the-face corporations who will painstakingly rebuild what we had. When the child poverty rate in America is 20% and rising, while it’s less than 3% in Finland,-oh, wait, that’s right now!-it will be the grown-ups, the parents paying taxes, who will rise to the occasion and shout down the anti-tax cranks who keep chipping away at our commons. And it will be not a moment too soon.
On a crowded lifeboat, full of women and children, if one man was aggressive enough, menacing enough, strong enough to take all the food and drinkable water, what philosophy would champion his right to it all, and argue the fairness and justness of his actions? (Surely Rush Limbaugh would argue that the women on the boat could nag the man to death, and that the children could use political correctness to bludgeon the man into chum. Limbaugh has already made basically these arguments before to belittle anyone who can’t take what he wants, or more than he could even use, so this spokesman for the sociopaths within our society can sensibly be put into the screw-you, screw-everybody-just-as-a-matter-of-policy column.)
Imagine the horror of an Ayn Rand disciple seeing that a long-dead French philosopher (or was Rousseau Swiss?) proposed that citizens’ behavior cannot be totally laissez-faire or we would have rapacious, murderous anarchy, and social collapse! No jails! the disciple would say (except for progressives, communists, and jihadists). No censure! No “political correctness!” Just total freedom to do whatever you want, total freedom from burdensome social responsibility, total freedom to take as many slaves as you can manage, total freedom from caring a whit about consequences to others, to tomorrow, to the Earth.
The moderates in this camp would say that the freedom to be rapacious and murderous, if one so chooses, doesn’t REQUIRE that we be so, that this is where “personal responsibility” comes in. But what percentage of people, from whatever camp, if shown that the law of the land is to take whatever you want, would volunteer to be the exceptionally self-disciplined and principled oddball who refused to rape or pillage or murder? Would there be much chance of a population having a “critical mass” of decent people necessary to achieve fusion, the coming-together of people into a functioning and stable and healthy society?
It was the generational life experiences of early humans, and the inherited genes of cooperative socialization, that made golden such rules as: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you;” “You reap what you sow;” “Pass it forward, and it will return in kind;” and comparable expressions in all of the world’s major religions (yes, Islam, too) and folklore. The meanest of us drop everything and dig- with our bare hands, if necessary- to save baby Jessica from the well. So political positions, economic positions, that can survive only if the social compact is toothless and disrespected, are a hard sell that requires lavish funding to make any headway against the natural inclination of humans to behave as social beings.
“Personal responsibility,” as a wink-and-a-nod provision to let members of a society have total freedom without destroying that society gives lip service to ethics and caring for others, without serious expectation that there will be enough ethical and caring oddballs to be a threat to the oligarchs who made up this song and dance. Most people, looking temptation in the eye, reject it. But still, more harm is done by insisting on maintaining some dubious total, pure freedom as one step short of totalitarianism than is necessary to preserve the capacity for and expression of uniqueness and wit and beyond-the-call-of-duty generosity of spirit. Total freedom, as a solipsistic demand, does more harm than good. If you believe at all in law, then you believe that there is bad and good behavior, and that good behavior is more than some airy-fairy ideal, it’s the law. If you believe in law at all, you admit that “personal responsibility” is a pretense. If law is an unacceptable constriction of your freedom, then you are an anarchist, and your “freedom” is anti-social license.
Contributors to the current state of business and the economy:
1) In the 1960s it looked like an entire generation was rejecting consumerism and capitalism, which scared business and left them feeling that the mutual social contract was being reneged upon by the public.
2) Europe and Japan recovered from the war and became industrial powerhouses, wrecking the new US business model that required unreasonable rates of growth. Again business was scared. Note that European and Japanese workers were well-paid, so US workers were never in danger of having to work for less to be competitive. The story of the overpaid American worker was invented later.
3) Reagan pushed the wish-list of the deposed Robber Barons. He has to take some blame here, because he INTENDED to hurt the working class for the sake of higher corporate profits.
4) Years of neo-liberal philosophy deliberately tried to send US business overseas for obscure, arcane reasons no amount of explanation has ever made clear to me. Every kind of tax incentive made corporations an offer they couldn't refuse. We curse the corporations for this, but the devils in this case were neo-liberal ideologues in Congress. (NB: neo-liberalism is NOT liberalism.)
5) Businesses that used to make money selling products found they could make even more money making loans to workers whose wages had flattened, or whose jobs had vanished (GMAC, for example). Banks found a lucrative market in second mortgages as struggling homeowners found they could put off, for a little longer, facing the reality that they were ruined, as they sank even deeper into debt.
6) Computers increased worker productivity so much that legions of workers had to be laid off. This destroyed any remaining sense of corporate compassion for workers. Only the callous could be CEOs. It didn't hurt that these CEOs got bonuses the more workers they fired.
7) Many work-averse investors eschewed the complex process of building factories, hiring a workforce, etc, and figured it was soooo smart to just play with "financial instruments" instead, making money while producing nothing, driving the economy while leaving absolutely nothing behind that could be used by manufacturers, nothing that was demanded by consumers, nothing that can be machined or cooked or riveted or spread on roads or flown to the moon or implanted into a sick person's heart. Nothing. Their useless activity, that had no concern for purpose or utility or ethics or consequences, moved enough dollars around that it falsely made it appear our economy was alive and well.
8) And of course NAFTA, GATT, IMF.
I have to revisit my excoriation of Reagan, to say that he may have been a dupe, a rather stupid man who came into a position of such power that his co-opting by dark forces affected much of the world in ways we're only starting to sense as cold sweat and sick dread.
Lately, in Britain, popular protests are confronting the idea that the only way for their economy to survive is to cut services to the people who had already paid for them,-by pointing out that “necessary” funding cuts that would drive 200,000 people from their homes could be canceled out by just one corporation paying off the tax debt it has owed for years. Multiply this by all the wealthy tax deadbeats paying what they owe, and Britain’s economic crisis could be shrunk to something easily manageable without cuts to what makes civilization civilized.
Britain’s version of Tea Party protests are smart and practical and they put the focus exactly where it needs to be forcefully focused,-on those vast and arrogant corporations which- if they had paid what they owed all along- could have kept state and federal budgets afloat. Will people in America and other countries start pointing out the obvious,-that there’s plenty of money, we’re not going to run out of it, it’s just that it’s all in the hands of modern Robber Barons who tell us that there is no money left and that it’s up to us to pay the charges racked up by them.
In Wisconsin we’re seeing a similar story line. The wealthy, who took our money, are to be given even more- as tax breaks- while the governor intends to make up all the shortfall by taking from people who are working as teachers, firefighters, police,-taking away even any future possibility of their recovering what they used to have, by outlawing collective arbitration. All the usual lies keep getting shouted at us that basically boil down to: nothing else matters except the comfort and ease of business, we have to give up everything, if necessary, to keep business happy and profitable. This is a ruthlessness we haven’t seen since the last time the Robber Barons ruled. It’s worse this time, because they had unions to destroy this time.
The spirited and determined support for civil service and for workers’ defense in Wisconsin is as pleasant a surprise as the uprisings in the Middle East. Bizarrely, though, the remaking of entire countries to achieve representative governance may be a more confident bet than our stopping the right’s juggernaut attack on our own civil society and the working and middle classes. Seven other states besides Wisconsin (Ohio, South Dakota, Colorado, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma) are considering weakening or abolishing collective bargaining. All fifty states want to limit public workers’ benefits. (All info in this post comes from THE NATION, 3/7/11).
If this latter sounds just fine to those people disturbed by the size of public pensions, note that in fifteen states, local and state employees are not eligible for Social Security, and rely entirely on their pensions. Also, the right is determined to enable states to declare bankruptcy, allowing them to walk away from all of their pension obligations. This would leave many public workers with nothing, as those pensions are not guaranteed by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. The right has already pretty much destroyed private pensions, and now is determined to destroy already under attack public ones.
BTW, the supposed excessive pay of public workers is such a cynical deception. Public workers are not nineteen-year-old high school dropout Walmart shelf stockers, but rather are more likely to be well-educated, older and more experienced. When private and public workers of the same age and education are compared, the public worker is paid about 4% LESS than the private worker.
And, come on, this recession didn’t result from paying a Cooperative Extension agronomist a modest wage for her expertise, or from letting the widow of a slain cop have his pension. Yet that’s who the right insists must bail out an economy that was gutted by the games of the wealthy. Not only are the workers expected to make up what was stolen by those speculators who sold out just before the crash, but these same millionaires and billionaires are being given even greater gifts from the public sector as tax breaks.
BTWII, claims that state pension funds are doomed to collapse are based on absurdly slanted assumptions that fund managers will magically become really bad at their jobs and reverse their long history of strong management. New York State’s teacher pension fund managers, for instance, did not get suckered into investing in those toxic assets that took so many people’s IRAs away, and so NYS teachers still have pensions. Now, should teachers be punished for prudently husbanding their payroll deductions? According to the right, yes, their savings should be redistributed upwards from those spoiled brats to the millionaires and billionaires as tax cuts.
BTWIII, those gifts to the wealthy are supposed to induce them to give us jobs. Baloney! They’re not going to hire us to make products there’s no market for. If there are emerging markets in India and China, the workers making the goods won’t be here in America. So we’re supposed to redistribute our modest savings upward to build factories in Indonesia for the sole benefit of millionaires and billionaires who won’t pay any taxes here in America?
Wisconsin’s feistiness HAS to spread to all fifty states if we’re to have a chance of slowing the momentum of the right’s steamroller. We can’t let Wisconsin’s insurgency make us complacent. But, we also can’t let ourselves despair. We beat down the Robber Barons before. We can do it again.
Capitalism is the redistribution of wealth upwards. This is not some biased, sour-grapes reframing, but a statement of plain truth. If the worker does not pay for the oil filter he buys for his car, where does the store get the money (after profit) to send to the manufacturer, who sends it (after profit) to the materials suppliers, and so on, at every step going excessively to the capo, the CEO? So the only possible honest definition of capitalism is the redistribution of wealth upwards from the ever poorer to the ever richer.
Without a mechanism to keep money circulating back to the worker, the economy stagnates and dies and even the top cannot make money any longer. Supposedly, in capitalism, this circulation back to the worker comes in the form of wages and benefits and taxes on the wealthy applied to the common good. But capitalism’s essence is a greed that has proved over and over cannot be relied upon to allow a good-faith return.
Capitalism is so stupid in its greed that without adult supervision it will even do itself in after it has destroyed everyone and everything else. If something is so selfish that it will destroy people and nations without a qualm, what else could it be called but either totally amoral, or else purely evil?
From the movie, “Capitalism: A Love Story":
MICHAEL MOORE: “Is capitalism a sin?”
FATHER DICK PRESTON: “Yes. Capitalism is…an evil….It’s contrary to the common good….Capitalism is precisely what the holy books…remind us is unjust, and in some form and fashion God will come down and eradicate somehow.”
FATHER PETER DOUGHERTY: “It is radically evil.”
BISHOP THOMAS GUMBLETON; “The system doesn’t seem to be providing for the well-being of all the people, and that’s what makes it, almost in its very nature, something contrary to the Jesus who said ‘Blessed are the poor, woe to the rich.’”
MOORE: “How have we put up with this system for so long?”
DOUGHERTY: “The system has built into it what we call propaganda…-the ability to convince people who are victimized by the very system to support the system and see it as good.”
For effective propaganda, “nothing works better in the land of the brave than fear” (Moore), in this case fear of the lazy person, an abject terror of the unassertive commoner, a revulsion for those lacking a marketable trick or gimmick or angle or talent. Nothing strikes greater fear in the hearts of some than the possibility that somewhere a slacker lounges in the lap of luxury on the taxpayer’s dime.
You (I am NOT addressing any particular person) worked hard all your life, you say? Well, boo-hoo, so did I, so did everyone but a small percentage. Why DID you work so hard? If you did not work hard because you were morally driven to, because you were raised right, then what? Did you do it for the money? You know what that makes you. If you do not do the best you can at your job unless the pay is what you demand, then that explains why you’re so sure no one else will, either, and that those others like you (but not you) have to be punished as an object lesson. Lazy bums, let them starve! Don’t rob from me to support them, you say.
Of course this whole contrived and distorted narrative of lazy parasites is the product of the propaganda mills of the wealthy in an effort to so poison the idea of taxation for anything else but cops to protect them from the riff-raff, that government is afraid not to acquiesce to those who have no conceivable use for the surplus money they’d save if there were almost no taxes.
I’ve heard it argued that, historically, it was governments that has caused the most misery for the people, not economic theories. But it was not a government that made Dickens’ London a place of such grinding misery, it was unregulated free enterprise. It was not a government that made Appalachia a world-wide symbol of poverty, but rather the region’s uselessness to capitalism. It was capitalism that made –and then killed- Detroit and Flint and Lansing. Let them live while they’re useful to the top, then gut them, capitalism says. If capitalism is to retain its ability to create jobs and wealth, the story goes, it must be freed from the restrictions of morality and law. It must be not only freed from paying taxes in most cases, but must also get subsidies from taxes on workers. If this fragile, hot-house primadonna god-king is to survive and thrive, we must lavish TLC on it. Because, after all, it’s this theory that must be preserved, at all cost, not human beings,-that merits our worship, not whining, useless people. Let’s get our priorities straight; people are expendable serfs to King Greed. (Imagine! Exalting in awe an economic system based on GREED! Is that a slap in the face of every moral impulse mankind has ever had, or what?)
I’ve lost the delightful comment our esteemed Larry Summers made, saying that the economic value to US corporations of our dumping mountains of toxic waste on third-world peoples is too great to dismiss merely because it is disgustingly selfish. When he made that comment, it was not the brother/neighbor/friend/decent guy speaking, it was the capitalist zealot , the mobster speaking. You know, the thick-necked enforcer saying “It’s just business. You can’t take it personally.” So the victim about to get whacked says “Oh, well, if it’s just business, then by all means, whack away.”…Oh yeah? No one –NO ONE- gives a flying f-bomb that it’s just business if business is about to snuff out his life that so many years of effort and worry have gone into. No one –NO ONE- who has not gone over the edge can look at what uncontrolled capitalism does and say that it is good and that it seeks to “promote the general welfare.” To say that capitalism is all about freedom and choice and that only capitalism can give us freedom and choice, is to echo il capo di capo’s enforcer. Buy it as revealed truth and you legitimize the rule of mobster mentality, which is, in essence, the unsocialized child’s solipsism gone bratty.
Now is the time, now, when capitalism is lying in its own vomit and urine and feces after its latest stupid orgy,-now is the time to ground it, cut up its credit card, cancel its twitter account, make it do some chores around the house, straighten up and fly right. Yes, “make it.” It’s not a responsible grown-up, after all. It’s not even the selfish brat I was comparing it to. It’s a fiction without a single natural right, only obligations to serve society or be dissolved.
There is a tipping point in wealth at which wealth can stand on its own two feet, and doesn’t need any more support in the form of capital input. Those people poor enough to have only a checking account with minimum balance get no interest. With a higher balance they may get some microscopic interest rate. A savings account gets a little more. A small CD gets more yet. A big CD even more, and on and on and on. The poor, with no or little interest, can’t even keep up with inflation. They get poorer by the day without even spending a dime.
The more money you have, the more you get for loaning it to a bank or broker. The interest income pushes the wealthy into ever higher interest rate brackets. This system abuses the poor, using their money for free, while the wealthy, who don’t need more money, are given interest rates that loudly say “in your face, you s**t-faced peasants.” It’s the investor’s usefulness to the bank that matters, not at all how the bank could so easily encourage the struggling. Bankers foreclosing on houses have often said outright that they foreclose rather than rent the house to the mortgage-holders to PUNISH the mortgage-holders. Our whole system of late is legalized mugging of the poor by the rich. It just isn’t necessary to be so aggressively crappy to people.
So it’s really galling to hear some people say that wealth is a sign of hard work and superior morality. Get past a certain point and you can’t help but keep getting richer and richer without even getting out of bed. Ooh, look how productive I am! Ooh, look how superior I am to you! Whew, all this hard work! I deserve all this money, and more. It’s mine, all mine, and that damned immigrant working out in that 100 degree heat we’ve been having had better not expect to get a penny of medical help if he gets heat stroke outside my window!
I’d venture to say that the total dollar amount by which the top 1% have gained works out to just about what the other 99% would have gained in another era. So it’s not that the worker has stagnant wages because there’s just less money out there, or because we’re in competition against third-world workers and have to settle for less. It’s that the top 1% are just getting it all after rigging the house odds farther in their favor. Years ago, a worker could build cars and support his family, send his kids to college. Today, “industry” increasingly consists of financial gaming, peasants need not apply. Walmart or McDonald’s will only keep people off welfare rolls, not provide an income that can accrue.
I don’t need to see capitalism die. But a system that’s BASED on greed and stab-in-the-back competition OF COURSE needs to be regulated. And who by? Who else could it be, but a strong government? More socialist countries, such as those in Europe, are no more oppressively centrally managed than ours, and still we’re not managing our more capitalist economy properly. Those countries that have imitated our ways in recent years were hard-hit by the recession, and the rich/poor gap is approaching America’s. Countries that kept up their public-economy-first, private-economy-second approach, such as Sweden, (OK, not Greece), were hardly touched by the downturn. Letting uncontrolled private interests control the economy invites bubbles and busts and horrific rich/poor gaps.
Say I need one bag of groceries per week. If food becomes free, would I take 2 bags, or 3, or 10? I can't eat more, I'd get sick trying. I'd have to find a place to store the excess, and it would go bad in time and stink up the place. Then I'd have to find a place to dispose of it, wasted. Not a single reason I can see to take 2 or 3 or 10 bags, but, let's see, how many reasons not to?
Say one bag of money takes care of all my needs,-medical care, property taxes, clothes, etc. Again I can think of no reason to take 2 or 3 or 10 bags. If someone does take more, then I don't know what to call that but greed. Taking an excess because maybe it says somewhere that you're entitled to more, or that you've earned more, or that it's only fair that you get more,-such iffy and abstruse arguments ignore the real and basic point that you don't need more, and that taking more is wasteful and irrational.
Sometimes people are defiantly wasteful, driving a Hummer instead of a Chevy Aveo, for instance, and daring anyone to tread on his inalienable right to waste. Different viewpoints of equal validity? Or is one just plain wrong and the other undervalued? Does some right to do your own thing, free of any nanny-like interference have absolute moral authority over what's hopefully a sensible attitude in a world of finite resources?
The extreme, unconscionable wealth gap we have here go too far toward some kind of screw you, I got mine excess. Total license to do only what you want is not desirable. It's those who will not be human unless they're made to that create the need for edicts from Washington saying that we WILL be a society and not an anarchy.
From the AARP: "A funny thing happened on the way to the Tea Party: A growing number of American voters have started to tell their political leaders they’d rather pay more taxes, not less—especially if the additional revenue will preserve important government services like schools and programs for seniors.
From Oregon to Kansas and from Maine to New Mexico, voters and their legislative leaders suddenly seem to be agreeing that tax hikes are essential even at a time when the great recession isn’t quite over.
’There are times when the public is ahead of the politicians, and this is one of those times,’ said Jon Shure, deputy director of the state fiscal project for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, an independent think tank based in Washington. ‘When people are given the opportunity to support taxes to pay for important services, they agree to do it.’
In fiscal year 2010, 29 states enacted tax increases worth $23.9 billion, while nine cut taxes, according to the National Governors Association. Already for fiscal year 2011, which for most states begins on July 1, 18 states have proposed tax hikes, while nine sought decreases….
While Tea Party activists have claimed victories in Kentucky’s GOP primary and the Massachusetts U.S. Senate campaign, a number of other states have bucked the trend and assessed new taxes.
In January, for instance, Oregon voters agreed to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy by $727 million. And in Illinois, an estimated 15,000 state workers, union and community activists rallied in April at the Capitol in Springfield, demanding that legislators boost taxes to lessen the blow of potential layoffs. ‘We want taxes!’ they screamed—a defiant dissent from Tea Party wisdom.”
People are NOT saying "hurt me, take my money." They're saying that all of us need to stop whining and chip in what it takes to keep a modern, technological society improving itself instead of letting it deteriorate closer and closer to third-world status.
If we were seeing the same tax rates we used to have being insufficient today, that would indicate some defect in use of this revenue, such as waste. But having the lowest rates (overall) in 55 years, and seeing we don't have enough to keep things going on less, shows not some natural decay, some inexorable entropy, but rather the effect of Republican efforts to eliminate the public sector. They get taxes too low to sustain civil society, and then say "We can't afford Social Security, Medicare, the Department of Education, and so on." But we're NOT running out of money. It's just being increasingly redistributed to the top, leaving all the rest of us with less and less all the time. There are more trillions of dollars out there than we've ever had, but we just don't see any trace of it because it's squirreled away in the Cayman Island accounts of American royalty. The LAST thing to do is to keep enabling the wealthy by buying the narrative that there's less money available and we need to give up more and more or we'll run out of it altogether. If we properly maintain our infrastructure and institutions, and see that the shrinking middle class is paying enough, then there'll start to be a push for the billionaires to pay a bit more. We did not go broke when we did have a vital public sector. But we're expected to believe that we're now a poor country that has to settle for so much less? Or is it that we know we have the money, but want the competent and shrewd individuals to get it all, and screw the also-ran?
After all, people are evil, the story goes, so no harm is done if they get hurt? Maybe so. Our history is not one whit less barbaric than the dark histories of places we feel so superior to. We can match the cruelty of any country's past, blow for blow, if only we honestly look at our real past. How many times have sheriffs or hired goons smashed faces for some cold rich person or some nasty class or racial status quo? Four hundred years so far we've been waiting for decent justice to be the natural state, and it doesn't look much more promising today than before. So, if ever there was at least a theoretical argument for strong and proactive governance, it is this: a single entity, if passably moral, under the scrutiny of the world, is likelier to keep society on good behavior than is the sheriff or the goon, the CEO, or the good old boy next door.
I'm tired of waiting for free, proud individualists to grow up and behave. American free enterprise has had centuries to grow up and behave, and we find yet again, predictably, that it has to be watched and controlled like a two-year-old. Workers briefly get a break, and then get undermined all over again. The hateful reversal of the South's racial progress during Reconstruction has been repeated a hundred ways in a hundred cities, and yet we're so proud of ourselves. Overcompensatingly proud. Not only do we have to see justness clawed back down into the muck over and over, but we had better be proud, too, or else, and chant "one nation, under God."
The notion that anyone who works hard will prosper, is fantasy. More real is witnessing the one who does nothing socially useful living as a multi-millionaire, while millions labor all their days to live and die in shabbiness. It's only the rare and temporary ascendancy of a progressive administration now and then that forces business to shape up. And then it all goes to hell again, because selfishness never gives up.
The primary job of parents, far beyond keeping their young safe, is to properly socialize them, to "raise them right", to teach them that no good comes to anyone if they act like selfish little anarchists. Some parents misguidedly want their children to get ahead by any means, and turn out little Madoffs and Haywards and Blankfeins. Good parents turn out teachers and nurses and conscientious and ethical business people, or at the least good and decent people who become good parents in turn.
Long after grown children leave home thinking they have nothing more to learn about how to be good citizens, they learn lessons still; socialization does not stop at the end of your parents' driveway. A moral society does not take a laissez-faire stance; it actively proselytizes to "pass it forward", the kindnesses that make society a pleasure to grow up in, a sort of heaven on Earth, rather than some dystopian Mad Max hell on Earth.
Conservatism's intellectual high priestess, Ayn Rand, wrote "What are your masses but mud to be ground underfoot, fuel to be burned for those who deserve it?" What could such a comment as this be but hate speech? Yet this exaltation of the "successful" capitalist (and the contemptuous dismissal of the "failed" rest of humanity) is a conservative principle. Should such an antisocial value be inculcated in your grandchildren?
In a commentary on video gaming, Michael Atkinson ("In These Times", July, 2010) said that "video gaming is about" (individual) "control....In this sense, most video games are infantile in nature, and inherently conservative....At the core of the medium is the lust for and the rewards of unfettered control. These are the primitive precepts of conservatism as it's practiced in the modern world....Could there be such a thing as a progressive virtual 'game'?...We should figure out how communal politics can be expressed in this medium...-before our culture completely morphs into one all-encompassing dog-eat-dog meta-landscape, and only the conscience-less survive."
Bill McKibbon, of 350.org, said in "The Nation", 3/23/09, "The real poison of the past few decades has been the hyper-individualism that we've let dominate our political life -the idea that everything works best if we think not a whit about the common interest." As the extremist ideology of capitalism continues to decline throughout more and more of the world, conservatism's class/race control paradigm will also decline. The commonly accepted wisdom of the not-too-distant future will be more humane and humanistic than the sociopathic ethos of today's capitalistic/conservative world view.
To those who feel men are hopelessly evil and we should not delude ourselves into thinking there is any point in expecting ethical and decent behavior, I have to ask why it is important to you to make license to do evil a keystone of your society? You say let them do evil and then, using the laws of the land, punish them. I say shape,-yes, actively shape the social beings humans are into good and engaged citizens so we can close three-fourths of our prisons (we are 5% of the world's population, but 25% of the world's incarcerated), and be able to trust each other again. We may be the most punitive culture on Earth BECAUSE of our national dedication to the ideas of freedom and free will. It's our patriotic duty to exercise our free will to show how free we Americans are. Just so long as we pay for what we choose to do that goes over the line, in prison or in Hell. The Amish don't have prisons, because they shape responsible behavior rather than punish irresponsible behavior. Our way may be infantilizing us to some extent, making us not the best citizens.
Who will be the responsible parents to our future young,-that is, "shape" them? Since the common ethos will be more society-friendly, how much does it matter who teaches it, as long as it is taught? There is free will, which is the freedom to choose censure for bad behavior, and there is license, which is the free expression of every infantile whim. The solipsism of much of the political, social, and financial narratives we hear today is hard to believe as the product of the best in us.
Social democrats? Progressives? Anyone?
Limbaugh's fit to be tied. That dratted Obama is so lucky to be handed this catastrophe in Haiti! It just plays right into his hands, Limbaugh says. It's an undeserved chance for Obama to come off as cuddly and caring. Of course Bush never got such a piece of good fortune handed to him!
No, you can't count Katrina. The inept response there was part of the Conservative effort to make government look incompetent so that people will turn away from government and depend on for-profit providers. "The best govt employee is the worst govt employee." (Conservative mantra)
Of course, what's bizarre about this is: Destroying all govt except for the military (to protect corporate interests), police (to protect the wealthy from the rabble), courts (to enforce contracts),-and having everything else privatized, is that this hugely benefits the wealthy only, while redistributing any wealth from the bottom 95% to the top 5%,-and that today the ranks of Conservative supporters are largely filled by people already struggling financially as a direct result of the ascendancy of such policies since Reagan. Now THAT's some snow job.
Hand it to Limbaugh and company: What would be marginalized as crackpot behavior gets reinforced across the country on monolithic Clear Channel, and communities can't do anything about it, can't keep such dirt out of their airwaves, because the dollar has more power than community standards,-and Limbaugh knows this and gets fat on the profit from this, the good old American way.
Then of course there's Pat Robertson. He said Haitians must have made a pact with the devil, to be punished so by the earthquake. Now, his comments typically sound like the gibberish of "speaking in tongues," so I can't be sure what he meant here. But, extrapolating from his record, I'd say the "deal with the devil" was Haitians' revolt against their earlier enslavement, a heretical defiance of natural law. (You know,-white supremacy.)
It has to be a deal with the devil. Because if a white president didn't take on as his burden the saving of former slaves in New Orleans, then surely a black president can't be allowed to help former slaves in Haiti. No way. And if Obama does help, he'd be aiding the devil, see?
That's what passes for logic in today's opinion-makers.
The right’s horror of “redistributing the wealth” through taxation, that "slippery slope to socialism,” is oh so detached from sense. Every nation is- and has to be- socialist to a great extent. Whenever taxes levied on citizens and businesses pay for disaster cleanup, police, roads, the creation of the internet,-that’s socialism.
Currently in America we’re socializing business losses while privatizing business gains. Currently in America we’re fighting tooth and nail against any kind of public stabilization of health care, while socializing the moving of businesses from America to foreign countries. If socialism can be thought of as evil, it has to be America’s version of socialism that’s bad, not the foundational idea of everyone chipping in to build where building is needed.
Those interests that are invested in this parasitic American form of socialism make sure that any socialism that benefits the public, that returns citizens’ taxes with value added, is regarded as something disgusting and un-American. There is far too much obsession with imagined legions of lazy people with no self-respect. There’s nowhere near enough hostility directed at the ugly reality that we’ve been reduced to thinking like gazelles on the Serengeti: Whew! I got away from the lion THAT time, thanks be to God that my old pal Joe tripped….The richest country on the planet, and the public is reduced to this. Reduced to this because politicians are deathly afraid of bumping up taxes, and they make it sound like it’s impossible to save Social Security, Medicare, anything public, when a minor bump-up would save them all.
Some people see any taxation as unjust confiscation, tyranny. The no-tax people seem not to comprehend how totally business depends on socialized courts, socialized roads, socialized subsidies. The no-tax people fixate neurotically on Joe, who tripped, whom the government protects, as governments should. When the earnings of workers go to corporations as subsidies or bailouts or profits, with no return with value added, THAT redistribution of wealth is praised. But if a corporation or wealthy individual is taxed like we are, that’s tyrannical, confiscatorial redistribution of wealth, evil socialism.
It’s not right that well-funded PR agents working for the wealthy get so many of us to view life in simplistic video-game terms of deserving winners and deserving losers, and to call this “the American way.” That’s insulting, and disrespectful of all the good people who care for others instead of seeing them as enemies to profit from as body-count points. Those people who haven’t tripped yet are able to view survival as a video game with glowing phosphor dots mistaken for reality, a contrived game with unnatural movements and bizarre premise, a game that grants the obsessive devotee a snarling “YES!” as reward for mastery of pathological behavior.
By the flimsiest theory, anyone can be a hedge fund manager and get rich. But that theory is posited by those managers as a rationale for grabbing their hundreds of millions of annual income extracted from mogul wannabes. Practically speaking, the closest that 99% of us could get to being hedge fund managers is to be gardeners budgeting the master’s allowance for boxwood hedge maintenance. The job is distasteful, the story goes, so of course the Wall Streeter should be well-compensated. But so is garbage collection and public toilet cleaning unpleasant, jobs that actually have social utility, yet these jobs are poorly compensated, while the Wall Streeter does nothing really useful, and is outrageously rewarded.
People make their decisions. “I would never sell drugs to kids, no matter how rich I could get doing that.” “I would never pimp children, no matter how rich I could get doing that.” “I would never be a hedge fund manager, no matter how rich I could get doing that.” But those sick enough to profit from these activities make out like bandits, and this is the worst situation we could allow to occur on our watch, to corrupt our young, our society, our future. It takes a community to raise a child, and our community has been taken over by the ideological drug pushers, the pimps, the Wall Streeters. It’s time for some community organizers to get us working together to drive out the corruptors.
Now and then, an idea pops up that changes things radically for generations. Who knows when the momentous day was that the right stumbled upon their sure-fire gimmick to perpetually control US foreign policy, the US economy and budget? History has been distorted since then.
JFK didn’t want to invade Cuba. He thought it would be a mistake to get into Vietnam. LBJ was sure that escalating our involvement in Vietnam would be a mistake. Both of them did what they did out of fear of right wing “gotcha” assertions of weakness. Can you believe that? Decisions that killed 58,000 Americans and one to three million Vietnamese were dictated by a political gimmick!
At the time we were told that Vietnam was a necessary war that we absolutely had to win. Later we asked what the heck was so necessary about it. Now we’re told yet again that the war du jour is a necessary war that we absolutely have to win. As will tomorrow’s war be absolutely necessary, and today’s will be yesterday’s “whoops not so much.”. Since we’re never not at war, the right never loses control of all the big decisions.
So long as we are in one or more necessary wars, the decision on whether or not to fund these wars is not really debatable; it would be weeeeeak to not send as many trillions into these wars as it takes to finish the job…jobs…neverending jobs. And so therefore we can never afford to repair our crumbling infrastructure, can never afford to invest in renewable energy, can never afford- in the richest country in the world- to alleviate the gut-wrenching worries that illness could send families into homeless poverty.
One gimmick has controlled the course of American domestic and foreign affairs, at hideous cost, for generations. That’s unconscionable and unacceptable and has to stop. But how can it be stopped? Ideas, anyone?
The social animal aspect of our being seeks efficiency through consensus. We were naturally democratic long before we invented kings. It was our capacity for ideation that drew us away from a collective, horizontal democracy.
The ideational in us, because of where in our brain ideas arise, is able to displace instincts as our behavioral guide with theories, inspirations, inventions, and crackpot delusions. We are, for instance, able to brush aside the instinct to protect and nurture our offspring and instead murder them in “honor killings”, civil warfare, sacrifices to various gods, and the like. We accept equally Gounod’s “Ave Maria” and Spain’s monstrous Inquisition.
We need a touchstone to distinguish societal ethics that are a codification of behavior that millennia of human experience showed to benefit the species,-to distinguish these from the faux, ideational morals that were thought up to support religious theories, economic theories, political theories. Because of how removed we are from our evolutionarily-deduced wisdom, any pass/fail test is, itself, likely to be overly influenced by the very ideas it is supposed to examine.
The most ferociously defended of all our ideas is that all life is naturally selfish at the individual level rather than naturally collective. Without the assertion of that idea as truth (Dawkins, THE SELFISH GENE; Rand, THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS; et al), too many other ideas lose any foundational basis, and too much is lost that was based on this first assumption. There is, therefore, powerful motive to bias the truth test in favor of the suspect ideas, and away from agenda-free evolutionary deduction.
Some of us would like to keep some of the better ideas, such as the wheel, agriculture, “Ave Maria”, and flatscreen TVs, and discard the rack, the bomb, all the pointless and deranged moralities. Some among us prefer the latter. The humane among us posit a test to determine if an idea is clearly beneficial to society and consequently to the individual, or if the idea requires a contrived rationalization and extensive faux morality to create a privileged class over society.
Those in the other camp posit a faith test,-if you believe in the political or economic or religious theory at hand you are good (useful), and will be allowed to prosper in your splendid isolation from the responsibilities of membership in a human society. You will be free to use all the benefits of collectivism while ostentatiously disdaining collectivism, free to only take from the social hand that feeds you and never giving to it for any other living soul. You will, though, be generous in supporting every PAC, every lobbyist, every double-speaking advocate for those bad ideas that harm society, leaving only the selfish ideologue as the free and lawless pillager. Seemingly self-confidant in your morality, you nonetheless feel the tell-tale need to arm yourself in self-defense against your own species.
“Politics isn’t about left versus right; it’s about top versus bottom.”-(Jim Hightower) This is because politics is one of the areas of ideation that keep trying to make things “better” by countering unguided social horizontality with this or that or another authoritarian hierarchy. The wheel, as an idea, does not proselytize for a hierarchy. Agriculture does not need a king or chairman. The musicality and spirituality of “Ave Maria” is not dependent on a class structure. But politics is a war of one regime over another, any regime over none.
The original collectivist center from which our economic theories deviate (communism and capitalism) does not require rigorously moralized, perfectly idealized, homogeneous, theoretical people. Communist theory imagines all people as totally selfless, and always fails as a consequence. Capitalism, at the opposite extreme, needs selfishness, and the farther someone can go toward deranged sociopathy, the more successful he can be as a capitalist. Both theories are bad ideas.
We once knew the Earth as our nurturing mother, and ourselves as her children. When we then thought we knew better than that, were sure we could do better, flexed our adolescent muscles and picked a fight with everything, we had to go far from what we had known, make lots of awful mistakes, before we could learn for ourselves that mother really did know best. When we reach adulthood, we won’t be exactly as we were as children, but closer than we are now. How we turn out depends a lot on how we were raised; it takes a community to rear a child, and hopefully we haven’t forgotten what we learned in our Earth community so long ago.
The thrust of the right appears to be that it distrusts civilization. It’s every man for himself. If you’re not ruthless you deserve to starve. Government is bad. Too much education is bad. As long as I have my gun inside my gated community all the rest of you can go to hell, unless we need to use you in spontaneous grassroots displays that help to hold back any kind of social justice.
No matter that the right’s financial religion depends entirely on a flawed (because abusable) abstraction created by this civilization they disdain, intended to serve people. This mere tool became revered and worshipped as a god for those with a particular mindset, one that seems to go hand in hand with militarism, slavery, and other acquisitive/dominatorial preoccupations. Social justice is poison to them because there’s no private profit or hierarchy in it.
Their belief is that if someone can’t buy something, then he doesn’t deserve it (like medical insurance). So the slacker who wins the lottery deserves every little thing he buys with his winnings, while the worker whose job gets outsourced and he loses his medical insurance, gets sick and loses his house and car,-doesn’t deserve anything? That means that people are deemed intrinsically worthless, except for the dollars they have in their pocket. Inarguably, inarguably that’s pathological.
It’s like the difference in perception between the left and the right on, say, saving whales from extinction. To the left, whales are part of an intricate and interconnected ecosystem, intrinsically worth preserving. To the right, whales are of no value, simply because no one has succeeded in claiming ownership of them who can set a price on them. No one, nothing has any value until some rightie owns it and sets his arbitrary price on it. As if he could possibly have any say in the worth of anything. As if his opinion, his ego, his judgment, his say, makes the sun rise in the east. The lethal arrogance of that proprietary belief defies understanding or forgiveness.
So, the right has come around to agreeing with Barack Hussein Obama’s fiery Reverend Wright, it appears.
At the right’s values voters summit this past weekend they sang “Why Should God Bless America?” They sang in chorus that America should be damned for turning away from the “values” of the right. Just like their saying that Katrina was God’s just punishment against a Democratic district.
To those on the right, people should die, by horrific means from above, or by bullets if God doesn’t have the stomach to do his job,-if people don’t do as the right wishes. Sounds like the right has delusions of uber-godhood, and a god-awful nasty streak.
Native Americans should have taken better care of that immigrant problem they had, and built a wall to keep out those damned Puritans. And when Europeans fleeing the French Revolution came here with a chip on their shoulder, and sired Conservatism, that really did in any chance that we would be a smart and civilized nation. And so today we are the only first-world nation with a death penalty and the highest per capita incarceration rate. And we are the only first world nation without medical insurance as a right, and a concomitant bottom ranking in health stats. And don’t forget the minority Conservative sect’s version of Sharia law,-death for this and death for that and damnation for most things in between.
We should be better than this.
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