74 posts tagged politics
For those who have never seen these infographics, I repost from Mother Jones now:
HOW RICH ARE THE SUPERRICH?
A huge share of the nation’s economic growth over the past 30 years has gone to the top one-hundredth of one percent, who now make an average of $27 million per household. The average income for the bottom 90 percent of us? $31,244.
Note: The 2007 data (the most current) doesn’t reflect the impact of the housing market crash. In 2007, the bottom 60% of Americans had 65% of their net worth tied up in their homes. The top 1%, in contrast, had just 10%. The housing crisis has no doubt further swelled the share of total net worth held by the superrich.
The superrich have grabbed the bulk of the past three decades’ gains.
A Harvard business prof and a behavioral economist recently asked more than 5,000 Americans how they thought wealth is distributed in the United States. Most thought that it’s more balanced than it actually is. Asked to choose their ideal distribution of wealth, 92% picked one that was even more equitable.
Why Washington is closer to Wall Street than Main Street.Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)$451.1 millionRep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.)$435.4 millionRep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.)$366.2 millionSen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)$294.9 millionRep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.)$285.1 millionSen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)$283.1 millionSen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.)$231.2 millionRep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas)$201.5 millionSen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.)$136.2 millionSen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)$108.1 million
Congressional data from 2009. Family net worth data from 2007. Sources: Center for Responsive Politics; US Census; Edward Wolff, Bard College.
For a healthy few, it’s getting better all the time.
How much income have you given up for the top 1 percent?
Productivity has surged, but income and wages have stagnated for most Americans. If the median household income had kept pace with the economy since 1970, it would now be nearly $92,000, not $50,000.
A remix sort-of the song by Dead Prez called Globalization (scene of the crime)
Let me begin by saying that voluntaryism in my assessment is just a new word for anarchism being used by pro-capitalist, right-wing “libertarians” who got tired of defending their views on the wage system and absentee land ownership from criticism by actual anarchists. And yes, I have a right to say “actual anarchists”. Anarchists are historically and ideologically anti-capitalist. Anarchism is the belief in the creation of human societies where all individuals are free to reach their greatest possible potential absent coercion, not a clean slate where individuals can position themselves above others in society and use that position to extract wealth from their labor.
Voluntaryists like to reduce all matters of moral action down to the voluntary consent of individuals while completely ignoring presupposed environmental variables which they sneak in the backdoor. For instance, one can easily say that I “voluntarily” pay rent to live in this apartment. And indeed, I of my own will cash my check and deposit the money into the landlord’s account on a monthly basis. Indeed, I signed the contract agreeing to pay this amount monthly. What voluntaryists ignore however, is that I by my very nature do not have a choice in whether I occupy space on the planet, or whether the “right” to occupy that specific space has been claimed by someone else. They ignore the consequences of not paying rent, homelessness, while claiming that the payment of rent represents a voluntary agreement. The threat of homelessness in this case could be easily equated to the threat of an armed robbers gun. Sure it can be said one voluntarily gives up their valuables to the robber if we choose to ignore the coercive variable which compel them to do so, their own necessity. It could just as easily be said that a 19th century English peasant voluntarily accepted monarchy by bowing to royalty if we ignore the law commanding them to do so.
These rationalizations for rent and usury are just logical extensions of what Walter Block called “Voluntary Slavery”. It stems from the idea that individuals should be able to barter their present liberty as a bargaining chip in an economic exchange. Rather than renting ones self to a capitalist, Block argues that you should be able to sell your future liberty indefinitely. While not all voluntaryists agree with this extreme example, they do agree in principle that a person should be able to sell their liberty, in part, for access to necessary property, i.e. wage employment.
So what is the justification for it all? Well natural rights, of course! “This man owns his property!” they cry, “who could dispossess him of it without being a thief or a tyrant?”. They argue that legitimate property is made legitimate by voluntary purchase, and that that purchase grants them an absolute right to the use value of said property, again, without consideration of their presupposition that an absolute right to the use of physical matter, or property, is legitimate in the first place. They do not consider a voluntary agreement to this absolutist conception of property as a qualifier for voluntary action in regard to it, and they go to great lengths to hide that fact. Some even claim to reject natural rights, like Ludwig Von Mises, instead favoring “universal absolutes”, which are basically the exact same thing. They will say “Look around you, property is everywhere! One cannot even live without the use of property!” without ever reconciling the fact that they have merely just labeled all physical matter that can be potentially possessed by humans as their conception of “property”. One using or possessing something has absolutely no correlation to it being considered their property, therefore one cannot make the argument that things merely being used or possessed makes the concept of property a “universal absolute”. One may use the light of the moon to navigate in the darkness, yet they do not own it, likewise one may own a building they never step foot in. One is not mutually exclusive to the other.
So why does it matter? As an anarchist I believe in the unimpeded right of all individuals to reach their greatest possible potential. I see anarchism as the liberatory force which can free humanity from these imagined social spooks which cause unending social ills and are the source of exploitation of man by man. When I see people arguing for what I believe to be the complete subjugation of millions of people to propertied individuals under the title of anarchism I am compelled to speak out against it. When I see people arguing for the “liberty” to sell ones liberty for economic necessity under the banner of human liberation I am outraged and disgusted, and rightfully so. Anarchist apartheid? No, Roderick, this is a defense of anarchism from people who have clearly stated goals which are the antithesis of anarchism. This is an intellectual purging of the enemies of human liberty.
Until all are free.
Because “deterrence” is a good strategy for peace.
Fifty-two years ago today, President Dwight D. Eisenhower used his farewell speech to the nation to warn the country against the rise of what he called the Military-Industrial Complex.
It was a nice try, Ike.
And to this day we’ve still not curbed its never-ceasing expansion into our own private lives and those of peoples the world over.
You don’t say…
Guns. Media. Mental Illness. Lax Security. All these and more have been offered as explanations for the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday, December 14 that left 26 people, including 20 children, dead. And all of those things may have played a role. But none are the cause of the problem. And heated debate about them, while important, serves to obscure some other very important conversations about the root issue, which is that the U.S. is a violent, militaristic culture that, in virtually every institution, demonstrates violence as a means of solving problems.
The US is a society organized for war. We spend almost 50 percent of federal tax monies every year on military—not just to pay soldiers and veterans, but to engage in conflict, for research and development of weapons and equipment, and more. When this amount of funding is spent on military, it clearly cannot be used to build infrastructure, to enhance the quality of our public schools, to provide social services, to assist the poor, hungry and mentally ill, etc. Our military budget is equal to that of the next fifteen countries combined. More than this, however, militarism is an ideology that privileges certain values, including hierarchy, competition, authoritarianism, and obedience, among others.
Politicians, fearful of being seen as “soft,” engage the country in still more violence, at the same time inadequately addressing human needs. This militaristic ideology has shaped the ways our schools are structured, what we teach, and how we teach it. It impacts our media, as commentators on either side of the political divide use the same aggressive methods of yelling at and interrupting one another and degrading their “enemy” whenever possible. Media over-represents the amount of violent crime, for which creates a fearful populace that will sometimes accept any effort that is supposed to keep us safe. Our criminal justice system is militaristic, from our incessant “wars on” mentality to our arming and equipping military-style swat teams and more. I could go on, but I hope the point is made.
To counter a militaristic culture, we need to begin infusing every institution with an alternate model. To do so will require not just schools but the other institutions listed here to begin to see their work as that of peacebuilding. We need to engage in dialogue that dissects our devotion to militarism and violence and that critically assesses its impact. [++]
Do you know how your tax dollars are spent?
US radio host Dennis Bernstein and investigative reporter Dave Lindorff illustrate just how much US tax money goes towards the country’s war chest.
“People have to realize that 53 cents of every dollar that they are paying into taxes is going to the military to an astonishing figure there is an enormous, enormous amount of money being blown on war and killing and destruction.”
Deep Green Resistance - Liberal vs Radical
I have never cared for describing myself as a radical because most do not care to differentiate radicals from the normalized conception of what the word ‘radical’ denotes. If they did many more would understand that the dominant culture, that is the culture of liberalism-versus-conservatism’s false dichotomy, is less ‘normal’ than it is an attempt to bastardize those of a collectivist worldview.
Here Lierre Keith gives us some of the most basic conceptual differences between radicals and liberals. It’s important to understand because it’s important for us to have a sound representation of what the terms that represent our political ideologies actually mean. I encourage my followers to visit what she says in this three part video, regardless of whether you agree or otherwise with her as a person or radicalism.
“The military establishments of the United States and the Soviet Union are, I am afraid, establishments with vested interests in war. They are meticulously trained for war; in time of war, there are rapid promotions, increases in pay, and opportunities for valor that are absent in peacetime. Where eager readiness for warfare exists, the likelihood of intentional or accidental warfare becomes much greater. By virtue of their training and temperament, military men are often not interested in other sorts of gainful employment. There are few other ways of life with the perquisites of power of the military officer. If peace broke out, the officer corps, their services no longer as necessary, would be profoundly discomfited. Premier Khrushchev once attempted to cashier a large number of senior officers in the Red Army, putting them in charge of hydroelectric power stations and the like. This was not to their liking, and in something like a year most of them were back in their old jobs. In fact, the military establishments in the United States and the Soviet Union owe their jobs to each other, and there is a very real sense in which they form a natural alliance against the rest of us. At equally strong vested interest in and maintain equally strong lobbies for the maintenance of the warfare state. Barring some awesomely atypical epidemic of reason, is there not some way that this powerful collection of vested interests could be moved toward more peaceful activities?”
—Carl Sagan, “Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective,” 1973
“In warfare, man against man, it is common for each side to dehumanize the other so that there will be none of the natural misgivings that a human being has at slaughtering another. The Nazis achieved this goal comprehensively by declaring whole peoples untermenschen, subhumans. It was then permissible, after such reclassification, to deprive these peoples of civil liberties, enslave them, and murder them. The Nazis are the most monstrous, but not the most recent, example. Many other cases could be quoted. For Americans, covert reclassifications of other peoples as untermenschen has been the lubricant of military involvements, where other human beings, military adversaries but inheritors of an ancient culture, are decried as gooks, slopeheads, slanteyes, and so on—a litany of dehumanization—until our soldiers and airmen could feel comfortable at slaughtering them. Automated warfare and aerial destruction of unseen targets make such dehumanization all the easier. It increases the “efficiency” of warfare because it undercuts our sympathies with our fellow creatures. If we do not see whom we kill, we feel not nearly so bad about murder. And if we can so easily rationalize the slaughter of others of our own species, how much more difficult will it be to have reverence for intelligent individuals of different species?”
—Carl Sagan, “Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective,” 1973
A soldier sets out to graduate at the top of his class. He succeeds, and he becomes a drone pilot working with a special unit of the United States Air Force in New Mexico. He kills dozens of people. But then, one day, he realizes that he can’t do it anymore.
For more than five years, Brandon Bryant worked in an oblong, windowless container about the size of a trailer, where the air-conditioning was kept at 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit) and, for security reasons, the door couldn’t be opened. Bryant and his coworkers sat in front of 14 computer monitors and four keyboards. When Bryant pressed a button in New Mexico, someone died on the other side of the world.
The container is filled with the humming of computers. It’s the brain of a drone, known as a cockpit in Air Force parlance. But the pilots in the container aren’t flying through the air. They’re just sitting at the controls.
Bryant was one of them, and he remembers one incident very clearly when a Predator drone was circling in a figure-eight pattern in the sky above Afghanistan, more than 10,000 kilometers (6,250 miles) away. There was a flat-roofed house made of mud, with a shed used to hold goats in the crosshairs, as Bryant recalls. When he received the order to fire, he pressed a button with his left hand and marked the roof with a laser. The pilot sitting next to him pressed the trigger on a joystick, causing the drone to launch a Hellfire missile. There were 16 seconds left until impact.
“These moments are like in slow motion,” he says today. Images taken with an infrared camera attached to the drone appeared on his monitor, transmitted by satellite, with a two-to-five-second time delay.
With seven seconds left to go, there was no one to be seen on the ground. Bryant could still have diverted the missile at that point. Then it was down to three seconds. Bryant felt as if he had to count each individual pixel on the monitor. Suddenly a child walked around the corner, he says.
Second zero was the moment in which Bryant’s digital world collided with the real one in a village between Baghlan and Mazar-e-Sharif.
Bryant saw a flash on the screen: the explosion. Parts of the building collapsed. The child had disappeared. Bryant had a sick feeling in his stomach.
“Did we just kill a kid?” he asked the man sitting next to him.
“Yeah, I guess that was a kid,” the pilot replied.
“Was that a kid?” they wrote into a chat window on the monitor.
Then, someone they didn’t know answered, someone sitting in a military command center somewhere in the world who had observed their attack. “No. That was a dog,” the person wrote.
They reviewed the scene on video. A dog on two legs?
When Bryant left the container that day, he stepped directly into America: dry grasslands stretching to the horizon, fields and the smell of liquid manure. Every few seconds, a light on the radar tower at the Cannon Air Force Base flashed in the twilight. There was no war going on there.
Modern warfare is as invisible as a thought, deprived of its meaning by distance. It is no unfettered war, but one that is controlled from small high-tech centers in various places in the world. The new (way of conducting) war is supposed to be more precise than the old one, which is why some call it “more humane.” It’s the war of an intellectual, a war United States President Barack Obama has promotedmore than any of his predecessors.
In a corridor at the Pentagon where the planning for this war takes place, the walls are covered with dark wood paneling. The men from the Air Force have their offices here. A painting of a Predator, a drone on canvas, hangs next to portraits of military leaders. From the military’s perspective, no other invention has been as successful in the “war on terror” in recent years as the Predator.
The US military guides its drones from seven air bases in the United States, as well as locations abroad, including one in the East African nation of Djibouti. From its headquarters in Langley, Virginia, the CIA controls operations in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.
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(Photo Credit: Gilles Mingasson/ DER SPIEGEL)
“Politics is the shadow cast by big business over society.”
“We do not have a two-party system anymore, we have one Business party with two factions.”
Well, let’s be honest, this is pretty much our situation.
Reblogging here for the sake of generating some thought on the matter.