Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Distrust of Government at Historic Highs*

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

This poll result from Pew has been getting a lot of play across the internet today, but I don’t think it really means as much as people are making it out to. To put it simply, I’ d expect distrust of government to be very high during economic downturn. The government plays a sort of abstract role in giving people an entity to project their resentsments, frustrations, and anxiaties onto, and you would expect that to go up during a severe recession. The fact that 61% of respondents want the government to do more to crack down on Wall Street supports this idea, and shoots through any notion that this means what people want is “small government.” Via Mistermix, this chart of some of the polls internals is quite amusing as well:

In other words, Republicans don’t trust the government, unless a Republican is in the White House. In that case, Republicans trust the government more than any other demographic has since before the Vietnam War and Watergate. The right-wing echo chamber has certainly done its job hasn’t it?

It’s Alright, Cuz It’s All White

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

I think Yglesias is driving at a good point in this post, but he kind of goes off the rails here:

But instead of complaining about the hypocrisy involved in not trying to whip people into a fit of terror and madness about this incident, I think it makes more sense to congratulate everyone on handling this in a calm and sensible manner. The key point, that all authorities seem to agree on, is that while this is a serious crime and a genuinely Bad Thing To Have Happen, that you need to put the likelihood of this sort of incident into a broader context. Simply put, the odds of “death by disgruntled anti-tax activist flying an airplane into your office” are extremely small and it’s extremely difficult to think of cost-effective and efficacious methods of ensuring that this never happens again. Off the top of my head, this looks to me like a demonstration of the desirability of better mental health services in the United States, but that’s something that I would think was true one way or the other.

The problem with this is that what you’re seeing isn’t a rationally subdued response to a terrorist attack so much as people arguing that this wasn’t actually a terrorist attack. Which is absurd, of course, Stack used violence for the same cause al Qaeda uses it; to provoke an over-reaction from the government in the hope of furthering their ideological cause with the populace. It’s certainly nice that we’re probably not going to over-react to this attack, but given the freakout over the attempted underwear bomber, who failed to kill or injure a single person, it’s seems much more accurate to say that racial/religious factors are playing an outsized role in peoples’ response to terrorist acts than to assume we’ve suddenly gotten rational about our response to small scale terrorist actions.

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Heaven’s Not Beyond The Clouds, It’s For Us to Find Here

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Until we find a better way:

Peace on Earth.

The White House Strategy

Friday, September 25th, 2009

by Brien Jackson

Responding to a previous post, commenter J made some very good points. I’ve been pretty busy recently between work and assignments and screaming children, so not yet having a chance to address them, I figure they deserve their own post. The response comes in two parts. The first:

if the rhetoric thus far has been of little importance, would there have been a big price to pay if the President had made his message “the public option is a really important piece of reform” rather than “the public option would be kinda nice” (which is at least how the White House position is being perceived)? I can’t imagine those messages would be that different if the desired end result is to “exhaust” the bipartisan process.

As far as I can say, the only thing I can take away from this is that the White House has basically wanted to take an ambiguous stance on the specifics of the bill. There’s a couple of reasons for that. First of all, you don’t really want to clearly define the “liberal Obama position,” because that sets up a pretty bright marker for “centrist” Democrats in Congress for ways in which they can alter the bill and then run to the cameras to proclaim they “broke with the White House” and “put a check on Obama.” Secondly, I’m really not sure you can overstate the degree to which the Obama team is trying to avoid what they see as the mistakes the Clinton administration made in pushing healthcare, chief among which was burning the gunpowder far too soon, and exhausting their capital before the Congressional meatgrinder did its dirty work. For better or worse, there really isn’t any way to work around that messy process, and the Obama team has made the decision upfront that they’re going to let Congress work, and try to keep the powder dry until they can be most effective, which is probably somewhere around the conference committee. But up until that point, I wouldn’t expect too many bright policy lines from the White House.

Secondly:

don’t you think that less “faulty messaging” on behalf of the White House could increase the pressure on some right-wing democratic senators, making them more likely to support a public option?

No. There really aren’t any mechanisms by which Obama can pressure truly intransigent Democrats, particularly in the Senate. If you look at Mary Landrieu, for example, she doesn’t have to run for re-election until 2014 when, presumably, Obama could have been voted out of office. Evan Bayh and Max Baucus are safe in their own right, and other marginal Democrats have their own agendas. I know some progressives imagine Obama threatening to cut off DNC or DSCC money, but the real truth of the matter is that Senators, by and large, don’t really need that money. Thanks to their long terms and disproportionate impact on policy, it’s fairly easy for incumbent Senators to amass substantial war-chests, even if they don’t really need them. Evan Bayh, for example, is currently sitting on about $14 million in available funds, even though he isn’t likely to face any sort of credible challenge. And institutionally, this sort of pressure has to come from the larger Senate caucus, not the President.

Sen. Edward Kennedy (1932-2009)

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

by Brien Jackson

I’m certainly not of the generation of Americans who are usually considered to be enamored with the Kennedy brothers, but it was, and still is, impossible not to be awed and moved by Ted Kennedy. Teddy doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves, and is obviously not thought of nearly so fondly as his older brothers, yes, in part because his life was not artificially cut short. People can imagine what Jack and Bobby might have done, and impute their own vision of their better angels to them, but with Teddy, we actually have a full life and body of work to look at, warts and all.

There’s a lot of things that deserve to be said, both about the life he lived and what this means for the rest of us going forward, but for now, at least for me, the passing is too sad for words. Thank you Teddy. That’s really all that needs to be said today.

What Happens if the Uninsured Pick Up a Gun?

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

By Writeside

Watching MTP today I was struck by how Dick Armey and Tom Coburn avoided any responsibility for the right wink kooks who are gathering weapons and ammunition, joining militias, buying gold and stockpiling cans of beef stew. Certainly it should be as obvious to those two gentleman as it is to everyone else that these nuts are being riled up because they are being told – by the Republicans – that the Obama administration is doing everything from wanting to kill grandma to destroying the American way of life. The right needs responsible leaders who will stand up and loudly repudiate the violent threats.

But after all, what the right wing wants is to preserve the status quo. They want those who “have” now staying that way, and as for those who “have not?” Well, the Republican party is pretty sure that those who have not are illegal aliens, lazy African Americans, Marxists, just plain evil or a combination of all of those things, and not deserving of having anything like health care in the first place. Certainly they are people who made “poor choices” in their lives and thus deserve to die young and leave nothing behind for their children.

Yes, the people like the idiot who brought a gun and threatening signs to the Portsmouth town hall, and the nutbag who held up the “Death to Obama and Family” signs in Maryland are a small percentage of even the right wing nuts, but all of them want to preserve the status quo. What about those who don’t?

What if the 46 million people without health care decided to form their own militias? It seems to me that the “have nots” in this country should be more motivated to change the way things are than the “haves.” Latest estimates are that 37 million people live in poverty in the United States. If only 1% of those who either live in poverty or who do not also have health care coverage decided that our system – despite overwhelming Democratic majorities – was not going to respond to them in general, and to the health care crisis in general, that would be an army of between 370,000 and 460,000 people. What percentage might it be if we see the moneyed interests come away with a “win” here? 3%? 5%? 10%?

And none of their anger would be based upon lies.

This is why I am anxious to see some leadership from those on the right. They threaten us with military coups to “restore” the GOP to power, and the Republican leadership winks and says that they know nothing about that. Then they turn around and say that they “understand” the anger that infuses the radical right.

They miss those with grievances on the left, those who worked last year to put huge Democratic majorities in place to effect change, those who worked within the system to try to make this a better country.

They Republicans play the “we know how to use a gun” schtick a bit too loosely, and they forget that they’re not the only ones who do…

Confirmation

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Barack HusseinSecretMuslimTerroristMarxistMalcomXScaryBlackDudeCopHater Obama is not a citizen.

Gatesgate

Monday, July 27th, 2009

by Brien Jackson
I haven’t commented on the Saga of Harry Gates yet, largely because I find the story, or, more appropriately, the media narrative around it, to be so stupid, but let’s clear something up here; what officer Crowley did was not only “stupid,” it was plainly illegal and a gross violation of Gates’s civil rights, and any person or society that does anything but condemn these actions in the strongest possible terms has a real problem on their hands in relation to how it respects the rights of its people.

But there’s the shiny object of race, and it’s a black man challenging the Irish-American white working class no less. Teh horrorz! In a way, I really wish the racial angle wasn’t present in this story. It’s not that there isn’t still a huge problem in the area where the police interact with African-Americans, because obviously that’s still a huge problem, it’s just that in this story, the nature of police abuse really has nothing to do with race, other than Officer Crowley’s umbrage at being called a racist. But it’s not hard to see the situation playing out more or less the same way if Gates had been white and had called the officer an incompetent donut eater or something. And beyond the rather silly question of whether or not the incident was racially motivated, or whether Crowley is a racist, that’s the real story here; the way police use their state sanctioned power to enforce deference to them and squash any criticism of them in public. Indeed, a cop blogging at Crooked Timber actually made the case for why this is a necessity.

Let’s be clear, there are many different ways in which people interpret the first amendment, and many different places at which people draw the line in regards to how far a right extends. But if the protection of free speech is to mean anything at all, it has to protect the right of the citizenry to criticize the government. Take that away and you’re just a run-of-the-mill authoritarian state. And the police, when on duty at least, are agents of the state, excercising state power to enforce the law, deprive people of their liberty, and in some cases their life, and just generally deprive you of your own self-agency. In a liberal democracy, that’s a tremendous power that must be wielded with the utmost discretion. Yes, policing is a difficult job in its own right, and the requirement to respect fundamental rights in cases like this makes it more difficult than it already is, but that’s just the way things are in an open society that’s conscious of protected rights like ours. It is much easier to be a cop in Tehran or Moscow I’m sure, but that’s hardly an argument for becoming more like those societies.

And also, to be as clear as I can, Gates himself certainly seems to be the worst kind of priviledged asshole. At least originally, there’s no reason to think Officer Crowley was doing anything other than checking out a report of a possible breaking and entering, which is perfectly reasonable. Indeed, does anyone doubt that had it been a real burglarly and the police had not responded, or had been slow to respond, Gates would have been (justly) righteously pissed off about that? I doubt it. So Gates never should have said anything, not because he should have feared the gun, but because there wasn’t anything to complain about at the time, but this does not excuse Crowley’s actions. Because while the juvenile “they were both assholes” contention might be true, only Crowley acted in a way that was an abuse of his power, and a violation of the other parties civil rights. It is not a violation of your rights to be called a racist, or pretty much any other name. Similarly, it is not against the law to criticize or personally insult a police officer, because the police are agents of the state and the Constitution protects your right to be disrespectful of state power, plain and simple. Police might not like it, but that’s just a part of the job they absolutely have to respect. And really, I don’t see what’s so hard about that. I mean, would it really have been that difficult for Crowley to offer up an insincere apology to Gates, walked away, and gone back to the station to have a laugh about what a gigantic d-bag Gates was? How does something that stupid even get to you? Anyone working any form of customer service has had stuff like that happen to them, and they don’t even get to talk back, much less arrest the asshole. And maybe more jarringly, is the kind of person who can’t let transparently stupid insults like that roll off his back the sort of person you really want walking around with a gun, and significant societal leeway to use it?

The criminalization of “contempt of cop” simply has got to stop. There’s nothing illegal about talking back to the police, asking for their badge number, criticizing the way they do their job, or even calling them names. It might get under a cop’s skin, it might be totally baseless, and it may even be downright offensive, but it’s simply not against the law. You have a Constitutional right to do it. And in this country, you simply can not be arrested for excercising your Constitutional rights, no matter how much of an asshole you may be in the process. And then you have this:

So, since the president is keen on offering instruction, here is what I would advise he teach his Ivy League pals, and anyone else who may find himself unexpectedly confronted by a police officer: You may be as pure as the driven snow itself, but you have no idea what horrible crime that police officer might suspect you of committing.  You may be tooling along on a Sunday drive in your 1932 Hupmobile when, quite unknown to you, someone else in a 1932 Hupmobile knocks off the nearby Piggly Wiggly.  A passing police officer sees you and, asking himself how many 1932 Hupmobiles can there be around here, pulls you over.  At that moment I can assure you the officer is not all that concerned with trying not to offend you.  He is instead concerned with protecting his mortal hide from having holes placed in it where God did not intend.  And you, if in asserting your constitutional right to be free from unlawful search and seizure fail to do as the officer asks, run the risk of having such holes placed in your own.

So you either acquiesce to police disregard for your Constitutionally protected rights, or they shoot you. Lovely. I have no idea if this guy is legit, or how representative it is of cop culture (or the LAPD culture), but in any event, the warlike mentality of police departments absolutely has to stop.

“If There’s Hope, It Lies in the Polls”

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

I wonder how many people will understand the political literary reference I made in the title of this post? More on that later, but what I am describing is the hope that is brightening the breasts of many of those poor defeated souls on the right who are now clinging to an arbitrary measurement devised by a pollster who has consistently had poll results that skew to the right as the “evidence” that the country is “moving to the right” and ostensibly away from President Obama and the Democrats.

Of course I’m talking about the Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll and the bogus “Presidential Approval Index” that Rasmussen has devised that current shows the President at “Minus 8.”

Reading that figure would lead many to believe that 54% of the public disapproved of the job he is doing with only 46% in favor, right? Wrong, because, you see, what Rasmussen has done is to subtract those who “strongly disapprove” of the President’s job performance from those who “strongly approve.” This “index” does not consider those who either simply approve or disapprove.

First off, the subjective nature of the word “strongly” makes polling based upon this kind of judgment suspect in my mind.

Second, the fact is that even Rasmussen’s poll shows that a majority approve of the President’s job performance.

Third, as I have said before, Rasmussen’s poll numbers are way skewed to the right compared to other pollsters. The RCP average of polls has the President’s overall approval/disapproval rating at 56.3% – 38.5%.

Fourth, whereas approval ratings can be leading indicators as predictive agents for future elections, we are still almost 3 and a half years away from the next Presidential election, so these polls are mostly meaningless in terms of analyzing them to assess the President’s “vulnerability” next time out.

So we have a pollster who skews right making up an index that means nothing especially given the placement of his data alongside others, and we have a group of people on the right misinterpreting the significance of those same flawed numbers in an effort to “prove” to themselves that they were right all along and that the country was somehow “mislead” into voting for the President and are now “seeing the light,” right?

The good news is that most people, if asked to comment about this “significant drop in the President’s popularity” and being asked if they “regretted voting for the President (which is another way the right wingnuts like to cheer themselves up)” would likely respond to the person asking them this question by saying: “What the fuck are you talking about?”

So, take heart all you Fox News devotees. You have three and a half more years to cry yourselves to sleep at night with made up numbers.

Then you will probably have to come up with some new ones to hold you until 2016…

by Writeside

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Thriller

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Michael Jackson was a contemporary of mine. The fact that he died suddenly and without regard to the resources available to him can only raise my own sense of mortality. It should remind all of us how precious every minute, every sunrise, every moment with those we love really is.

Despite enormous talent, enormous success and enormous wealth, Michael Jackson seemed to be tormented throughout his life.

Tonight we hope that he finally finds peace…

By Writeside

What To Do About North Korea

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

The speech President Obama should give from the East Room at the White House:

Good evening. I would like to address my comments to the leaders and citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

With your recent tests of nuclear weapons and tests of both short and long range missiles, it is apparent to all the nations of the world that you have entered the “Nuclear Club.”

While being a member of that club means that you have achieved a certain level of technological adeptness for which you can be justifiably proud as a nation, reaching that goal also has some very unfortunate consequences.

At this moment, because of your newfound technological abilities, many nations around the world, including the other nations that have missile and nuclear technology equal to and beyond yours, have programmed military and other targets in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea into the guidance systems of their multiple warhead nuclear tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles.

A nuclear explosion anywhere around the world that can be traced or otherwise associated with your development and manufacturing of nuclear weapons will likely cause an immediate launch of perhaps hundreds of nuclear tipped ICBMs that would destroy much of your country and mean certain death for a large portion of your population, leaving behind land that would be useless to support human life for a generation or more. The effects of the nuclear war that would thus be ignited would kill hundreds of thousands more around the world, and disrupt life for every living person.

I say this not as a threat, but as a reminder to the leadership of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea of the awesome responsibility that comes with being a nuclear power. Presidents of the United States since Harry Truman have lived with this threat of mutually assured destruction and have thus far been able to keep these weapons from further use. I urge you to take whatever precautions are necessary to do the same to ensure a future for your children and grandchildren.

If you need assistance in ensuring the security of your nuclear weapons, we would be willing to help as would many other nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Sadly, there is another cost to your recent technological breakthroughs. When you abrogated your agreements to suspend your nuclear program, you also abrogated the willingness of countries around the world to provide you with the food, fuel and other assistance that was a part of those agreements.

We here in the United States stand willing to help you meet the needs of your people. We would love to once again offer assistance through trade and by delivering food and other needed supplies.

But we will not do that with a country that is an acknowledged nuclear power and has the means to threaten the rest of the countries in the world with destruction. To that end, I urge you to consider abandoning your nuclear program having already shown the world your technological capabilities and achievements. The world now understands the brilliance of Korean scientists in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, but it is time to put those advances aside in order to better care for your people.

If you wish, we can assist you in dismantling your nuclear program and returning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to its former non-nuclear status. Again, I am sure that many countries around the world would be willing to assist you in that regard.

After you are free from the responsibilities of being a nuclear power, we would be very happy to re-engage in discussions for ongoing trade and aid. We are always ready partners for peace.

As I said earlier: welcome to the club. It is a sad welcome because of the heavy burden you now bear both in terms of mutually assured destruction and in the loss of desperately needed aid, but I must believe that you did not make this decision without careful consideration of the consequences. Having made your point, you can now make the courageous decision to walk away from this terrible power, to show the world that you can make a decision that is best for your people and for all of the people in the world.

Again, the United States is always a ready partner for peace with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and we look forward to peace and prosperity in the future for both of our countries.

Thank you. Good night. And May God Bless America.

By Writeside

Why America’s Not Ready for an Iranian Revolution

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Just take a look at the nonsense that is being peddled by the right wing today (and the last few days). A lot of empty words attempting to incite a war or something (?!?) against Iran in the aftermath of their election that featured truly horrible stagecraft.

There are many who are “analyzing” the Iranian election results, from the statisticians at fivethirtyeight.com to editorialists and columnists around the world and I don’t want to rehash any of that here, particularly because they have – no doubt – done a better job than I would do, but really. Did they not notice the crowds in the streets supporting the4 opposition candidate when they decided to announce that the incumbent won with 63% of the vote? Laughable. If they had said that it was close, but Ahmadinejad ended up with 51% of the vote, likely very few would have done more than yawn.

But back to our story.

Some Americans seem to want to incite an armed insurrection in Iran (okay, some want to incite an armed insurrection in the United States, but that’s a different post, okay?). They do so without knowing who they are supporting.

They reflexively want to oust the theocracy currently in place. Perhaps they want a military dictator, someone who will rule with an iron hand but ensure that the next Iranian government is secular. Kind of like Saddam, right?

Would the United States be in a position to help a fledgling actual democracy in Iran? Could we “get over’ the fact that they are almost all Muslim in that country – and we “know” that all Muslims just want to kill Americans and Jews (and not necessarily in that order), right?

You would think that we would have learned our lesson from instigating revolution in Iran in 1953 what could happen when you do things like that.

Or Chile.

Or South Vietnam.

Or Guatemala.

Or Pakistan.

Or Iraq…

Point is that unless we know for sure that the next government will be. Unless we can be certain that the next group will in fact be democrats, and will have the best interests of the Iranian people and world peace at heart, why the hell would we get involved?

And the truth is that we CANNOT know what would happen next.

The best we can do is to watch and see what happens, and wait to offer support and aid or to continue our discussions and hope to be able to achieve a level of diplomacy with whatever government ends up running that country.

Oh wait. That’s what the Obama administration is doing…

Never mind.

By Writeside

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Do What’s Right

Friday, June 12th, 2009

In the NY Times today Paul Krugman calls out Fox News Network (and specifically Glen Beck) and the Washington Times, citing them as examples of how the dividing line between “main stream conservatism and the black helicopter crowd” has all but disappeared.

I agree with him that making irrational statements like Beck’s that FEMA might be building concentration camps does very little to help the situation in the country, and, by ratcheting up partisan tensions may certainly instigate some of the less stable to violence.

But should Beck temper his rants, which some find entertaining? Does he and others like him have a responsibility for the idiots out there who are killing people? As much as I would love to say that they do, as much as I despise Beck and liars like him, the answer is “no.”

Entertainers do what entertainers do. If you don’t like it, you don’t watch it or listen to it, or buy it.

Even newspapers – especially newspapers – have a long history of slanting themselves to the whims of their publishers, going all the way back to the beginning of the country. Again, if no one buys the paper (or visits the website) that is what will make a difference there.

That being said, those who make statements that might lead others to violence need to make it clear that they do not advocate such.

Irresponsibly quoting Jefferson and saying “The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed, from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” can be nothing BUT a call to violence.

“Warning” the public that the Obama administration is “totalitarian” and building “concentration camps” can also be nothing BUT a call to violence – UNLESS IT IS COUPLED WITH A STATEMENT AGAINST VIOLENCE.

That’s what is owed here. Fox News needs to make it very clear that it abhors violence and that anyone interpreting any of its hosts to be calling for violence are wrong.

What is needed are prominent citizens from the right who will decry violence and declare that it is un-American.

I believe that everyone should have the right to pursue their own dreams, to make money where they can, to exercise their freedoms to speak, write, and whatever to their hearts content – until that activity infringes someone else\’s rights to do the same. Then there has to be compromise, there has to be accommodation.
When people are killing other people because what you are saying riles everything up, you need to do something about it.

I am not asking right wing entertainers to give up their schtick.

I just want them to also do what is right…

By Writeside

On the Road Towards “Post Capitalism”

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

I started to write about this idea once before, and you can go back and dig through the earlier blog posts to find it if you want. (I am not sure it would be worth it, though.)

Basically the idea is this: technology is reaching a point where the productivity of the American worker is becoming too great compared to the amount of work needed to be done in our country. These changes run from increased efficiency to technology assuming more of the workload. As technology advances (and it is advancing geometrically as opposed to arithmetically) there will be less and less need for human labor and thus, more and more leisure time.

The quandary for our consumer driven economy will be that humans will still need to, well, consume. That will ultimately mean that we will get paid for doing less.

Perhaps we will extend “the college years” into the late 20s, with most getting at least a master’s degree, and a good chunk a PhD. Maybe we will decrease the retirement age. Certainly there will be a lot of people getting paid an awful lot for doing basically nothing – even more than is being done now, but it will happen unless we abandon capitalism altogether and at once, something I don’t foresee happening.

But I want to take this on a tangent for today because of something that occurred to me while watching a show called Nextworld on the Science Channel.

They were speculating about the houses of the future, and they focused on the Microsoft model house, a house where the walls are made of giant led displays, with the result that your guest room – for example – can look completely different for each guest that stays there.

They can have personalized décor and lighting, right down to pictures and videos on the walls that relate only to them – and their own tastes in music too!

While I was thinking about how cool that is the thought occurred to me: how the hell much will that cost?

I would guess that each room you have outfitted like that could add up to $20K to the price of the house, so not very many people will be able to afford it in any event.

But how does that tie in to my theory of “Post Capitalism?” Well, I’m glad you asked!

The next thought that I had after thinking about the cost was that it wouldn’t really matter because we all were going to get paid a lot of cash for very little work anyway, specifically so that we could purchase this kind of stuff from Bill Gates’ company.

But then I thought: shouldn’t we have higher aspirations than that? Shouldn’t we use our resources to make sure everybody in the United States had somewhere decent to live first, before we started building houses that changed walls on your whim?

There are homeless people. There are people living in tents and campers. There are people living in tarpaper shacks from Appalachia to New Orleans and God knows where else.

As we move towards the next phase in our economy, the phase I am calling “post capitalism” but one that others most assuredly call by other names, shouldn’t concentrate on filling basic human needs for everyone before making sure someone, somewhere has a computer operated toilet?

And I am not sure how we achieve that. And I am skeptical that it can be done. But shouldn’t we at least try?

Is the goal in life in America to have more food than others who will then go to bed hungry? Should that be the goal?

Many argue that the profit motive, greed, is what has made America great, and that it provides the incentives needed to spur invention and creativity. I find it hard to argue against that, but it also creates supply and demand curves for labor which doom a certain percentage of people to poverty.

In my mind we need to find a way over this hurdle if we are to survive and survive well.

Maybe we start with universal health care and universal access to higher education.

Maybe we, as a society, will become inspired by someone or something to more readily respond to what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.”

But then again, maybe not.

By Writeside

Inconvenient Separate Truths?

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Through the wonders of the internet, we can discover that the truth isn’t really the truth anymore.

Nope. For any given issue, for any given bit of information really, you can find a source somewhere in the ethereal world that disputes it, thus not only giving the lie to your so called “fact,” but proving that the exact opposite is true – if someone wants it to be.

It would be easy to become alarmed at this phenomenon, after all, it IS kind of unnerving to know that there are a whole large group of people out there who believe that there has been a five decades long conspiracy embracing officials on four continents, including every member of every state’s electoral system, every member of the national committees of both national parties, every member of the Electoral College, every member of Congress and every member of the Supreme Court working together and in absolute silence to hide the fact that President Obama isn’t really eligible to be President either because he wasn’t born in Hawaii or because his father was not a citizen when he was born.

On one of the sites where these people gather someone asked if yesterday’s temporary stay of the Chrysler bankruptcy ruling meant that the Court was about to “take up” the eligibility case. “Do you think even liberal justice Ginsburg sees this as a way for the Supreme Court to rule on Obama’s eligibility?” WTF, right?

Like I said, it would be easy to e alarmed at the number of people holding idiotic beliefs and ideas in this world if you didn’t realize that its only because of the internet that you can now find out so much about them, and that they can reach places that you frequent.

As a point of fact, there have always been nuts like this running around, from the John Birch Society to those that believe that a select group of “industrialists” in Switzerland actually control the whole world. In my bookshelf I have a book from the 1950s called “The Unseen Hand” that traces the influence of such groups to virtually every war, to every major national and international action going back to the American Revolution!

While some would say that the internet makes it easier for these nutcases to organize if they were of a mind to, I kind of think that it’s a good thing that they are communicating in an arena that can be easily monitored by the appropriate authorities. I do think that some of them are nuts enough to be harmful to themselves or others, but again, being able to spout off on line also makes them feel like they are “doing something” and that might be enough to keep them docile.

The crazy will always be with us. In the meanwhile, lets enjoy their wackiness while we can!

By Writeside