Tag Archives: Greed

The Real Causes of the American Civil War

Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemtery

Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery – Wikipedia

In this excellent article, Ta-Nehisi Coates lays bare the principles the American Civil War was fought over and the mask of deception practiced by racists ever since. He quotes the documents of secession and other relevant historical documents to prove his point.

This is a good resource to point to when you run into the willfully ignorant who claim the Civil War as a “War of Northern Aggression” or the hateful flag as a symbol of a proud (non-slave) heritage. It may not shut them up, let alone open their eyes, but their reaction to this evidence will be a good gauge as to whether further engagement is a waste of your time.

Our True Parasites – The Ruling Class

Man’s responsibility to his fellow man is a common thread running through every major ethical system, religious and secular. People are morally bound to contribute to their society according to their benefit from it. The poor benefit very little and so owe very little in return. Ideally we would create a society in which everyone benefits and is invested in maintaining and improving it. 

As it stands now, those who benefit the most generally contribute the least in return, making them parasites. The right wing loves to call people parasites, but this is largely a measure to put their opponents on the defensive and minimize the number of people who realize the right and their patrons are the real parasites. 

Philosophy Professor Jason Read describes the situation in terms of biology, in which successful parasites are not recognized as such by their host, which is exactly the case with the very wealthy in this nation. They thrive by preventing the majority from recognizing their true enemies.

rulingClassAsParasites

Angry, Greedy, Ignorant White Men Need to Go Extinct

I’m very active on G+ – https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ChristopherLamke/ – and I often argue against the willfully ignorant and the grossly stupid. Some aspects of the hateful opposition really irritate me, and one of those is the angry, greedy, ignorant white man who’s angry because he’s being forced to give back a little to the nation that made him what he is. The setting for this particular foolishness was an ACA post – https://plus.google.com/u/0/+OleOlson/posts/1T5dM584ZBY.

Here’s the comment:

Offender: “Got something against creating wealth from hard work? Well I’ll tell you something. I’ve worked hard all my life. In College and 62 years of working (all non government) I can tell you this….I’ve tried poor and I’ve tried rich and I much prefer rich and the lifelong achievement it took to attain it. Redistributing the results of achievement is ignorant envy. Get off your dead ass and make something good happen….Amen”

Me: “Your faulty assumption is that others don’t work as hard as you, especially those who aren’t as wealthy. That’s not backed up by evidence. If you’re wealthy, you had help getting there, by living in a nation with the infrastructure and culture that made it possible, by having or being able to gain desirable skills, and by being fortunate. You may have worked hard but so do most others, including many who work harder than you just to make ends meet.

It’s borderline absurd for a white male in this nation to claim he’s a self made man. You’re playing the game on “Easy”. If you were born a poor black female, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Try peeking outside the shell of your narcissism and seeing the world through the eyes of others. It’s called empathy and it’s essential to being a full human being.”

The fool who wrote this had no reply, certainly not because he agrees with my comment. I’m sure he just wasn’t clever enough to answer it meaningfully.

If you’re lucky enough to live in the developed world and to be born a white male in the current era, the only reasonable stance is to be grateful and the only humane stance is to reach out to help others achieve some measure of what you have. If you can’t do these things, you don’t deserve any of the bounty nature and chance have given you.

Feedly Behaves Badly

Image Source – http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/feedly-was-stealing-your-content-heres-the-story-and-their-code/

Feedly has just been caught engaging in very bad behavior and whoever made those decisions needs to be fired for both poor ethics and stupidity at thinking no one would notice the change.

I have all my RSS feeds stored in Feedly, though I only sporadically make time to catch up on them, and I’ve gone back and forth on whether I should pay for the pro account for my use. I like paying for services I use a lot, so they’ll stay alive and grow ever better, as long as the price is reasonable for what you get.

I don’t know of a better service than Feedly, so I’m not inclined to jump ship to another RSS service yet. I’d probably just restart using an open source RSS tool on my hosting service if I did, but don’t want the headache. Hopefully this will be Feedly’s Netscape Moment, when they went temporarily insane, then smacked the people who made the stupid decisions and got back on track. Time will tell.

Poverty and Wealth Are Moral Issues

Paul Krugman on Republican Hatred of the Poor

Paul Krugman on Republican Hatred of the Poor

I’m trying to cut down on my arguments with those on the right. Anyone who actually believes the GOP, Libertarians, or Tea Party (AKA regressives) are good people trying to do the right thing for our nation is unlikely to even hear any evidence to the contrary, much less take it to heart. Regressives are captive of a worldview so closed that it permits no empathy or reason to enter. This worldview simply filters out anything that threatens its integrity.

I did engage in a brief skirmish recently, mostly because the people I’ve engaged previously on this topic were unable to answer my critiques of their position on previous threads, so they went silent on those threads, only to pop up and say the same thing on new threads. This frustrates me and I decided to weigh in on this thread a bit with what I believe are central issues here. No one responded again, though I’m sure they were unconvinced. Here is the substance of my remarks.

Wealth and Poverty Are Moral Issues

Is it morally right to allow human beings to suffer from lack of shelter, quality food, education, and health care while some have more than enough? This is the fundamental moral question at the heart of this issue.

Civilization Means Caring for All

The idea of civilization contains the idea that all are cared for to some extent. Civilization is always based on a moral system, and every major ethical system requires that we take care of the poor, providing them with the essentials for a good life if we’re able. In most models, those who benefit the most from a civilization pay the most into it.

Most regressives claim that we’re a Christian nation and that they base their behavior on the Bible. Yet almost every aspect of their behavior contradicts the teachings of Jesus, who was very explicit in his instructions on caring for the poor and the sick, and on rendering to Caesar that which belongs to Caesar (the government). I’m not a Christian, but I fully support Jesus’ instructions on taking care of our fellow humans. 

If You Don’t Like It Here, Go Somewhere Else

Progressives tend to hold up the many prosperous socialist leaning nations as good examples, proof that it’s possible to live well in a nation that takes better care of its people than the US. Our ideological opponents in these debates often say that if these socialist nations are so good, we should move there, because that’s not America.

Progressives want everyone to have an equal chance at a good life. Like our nation’s founders, they look to other nations and their ideas as examples. Regressives want to take our nation in the other direction, destroying the parts of government that safeguard our environment, provide for the poor, and conduct research to advance science. There are nations where these agencies don’t exist, and people are free to do as they wish with the environment, child labor, education, et cetera … so it’s equally valid to say regressives can move to Somalia or another nation with “small government”.

The Poor as a Left Wing Voting Base

I find it interesting that regressives cite the homeless and unemployed as a left wing voting base. Mitt Romney’s 47% declaration made this claim infamous. Such a claim is more than a little absurd and reflects a very impoverished view of human nature.

The Left Wants to Use Other People’s Money

Regressives commonly claim that they contribute voluntarily to charity while progressives just want to use other people’s money. As far as contributing to charities, many progressives, including me, give quite a bit to humanitarian groups like Oxfam, Anera, MSF, … but I have a well paying job and can afford this. The claim that people who don’t contribute to charities are selfish or hypocritical just demonstrates an inability to see beyond the narrow regressive worldview. Progressives understand that supporting the government that makes our lives possible, partly through taxes, is better than just handing money to small charities. We believe in our government’s ability to do great things, based on history.

The Biblical Basis of Right-wing “Christian” Beliefs

A G+ user (I’ll call him TP in this piece) posted this article (from his blog) to the G+ Democracy community, explaining (in his mind) how his absurd beliefs are justified by the Bible. I normally ignore his posts, explaining how compassionate conservatives are and how Christian they are, because they aren’t worth my time, but this one struck a chord and I decided to reply. My original reply post is here. I’ll restate my reply below.

 There is no Biblical Basis for Right Wing “Christian” Beliefs.

In his attempt to demonstrate Biblical justification for his beliefs, TP cited several of the Ten Commandments, rules given by the Judaic God to Moses for the Israelites. This is an interesting and very telling choice. These commandments were for the Jewish people and are a small subset of the many, many laws given to the Jews during that period. They are also not at all exclusive to Judaism. Most of all, TP ignores the very clear teaching of Jesus on virtually all the issues he cites as Biblically justified.

Honor your father and your mother
Every decent human being honors their father and mother. This is not a “conservative” concept at all. It’s a human social concept. Societies completely independent of Christianity, including those who’ve never been exposed to Western ideas, follow this idea.

You shall not commit adultery
The prohibition against adultery is implicit in the definition of marriage. It’s not original or exclusive to the Judaic line of religions. If we were to consider the fact that nothing under this Judaic law prevents a man from adding women and “concubines” as he desires, then it’s not really a very strong commandment, is it?

Consider the prohibitions against lying and bearing false witness. These are implicit in the definition of a viable human society. Just as you cannot have a proper marriage if one partner is sleeping with people outside the marriage, you cannot have a stable society if people are allowed to lie and bear false witness.

You shall not steal
I find it fascinating that TP interprets this commandment to support smaller government and no wealth redistribution. His interpretation contradicts not only the clear Judaic laws requiring that you help the poor, but Jesus’ own very clear stance on helping the poor and his command to “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods
TP brings up the myth of left wing wealth envy here. I don’t know any left leaning thinkers who care whether someone makes more money or has more stuff than they do. I bet he doesn’t either. I know many left leaning thinkers, and their concern, as mine, is that all are capable of living a good life, which requires good food, water, shelter, health care, and education.

Arguably, Christian Conservatives attempt to protect the weakest of the weak; the unborn.
This is not a commandment, but it’s striking that the vast majority of right wing politicians are against abortion but also against providing for the needs of children once they’re born. It almost seems like right leaning people care about the unborn as a symbol, but when the symbol becomes a real life that consumes resources, they abandon their concern. In fact, this is exactly how the right treats life, as a precious symbol to be safeguarded when it gives them power over others, but not so precious that it’s worth supporting with “their” resources.

You shall not kill
This is not one of the commandments TP listed, which is interesting. I’m well versed in the interpretations of this commandment and somewhat in Just War Theory. I would have liked to hear him explain how the right’s focus on using violence against other nations and people who’ve committed crimes against us is consistent with this commandment.

There are a couple other commandments which are at best inconsistently followed by right leaning Christians. I’d like to hear TP’s opinion on the Sabbath Day and graven images. I’d also like to see him justify his beliefs based on what Jesus actually said in the Gospels. Jesus covered all TP’s concerns, because these concerns have been with us since the first civilization worthy of the name.

TP never replied to my analysis. He’s one of the many on the far right who are trapped in a closed worldview devoid of reason and empathy.

GOP – Obama Threatening To Shut Down Government

Ted Cruz, Idiot R-Texas, is accusing Obama of threatening to shut down the Federal government. This should be interesting. Unfortunately, government employees who have nothing to do with this stupidity are going to suffer until hateful men like Cruz are thrown into the streets, to beg for food from their wealthy masters.

G+ Post: https://plus.google.com/104349621473431504452/posts/YXvXZPVmxbw

Source: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/07/30/ted-cruz-why-is-president-obama-threatening-to-shut-down-the-federal-government/

This is also an excellent example of the ham handed but still effective propaganda the right wing constantly employs. Accusing your opponent of doing the very thing you are engaged in is so simple it should be transparent to anyone paying attention, but it works for those not predisposed to analyzing what their political champions are saying and doing. That is, it works to keep the right wing zealots actively behind whatever their leaders are doing.

 

Paul Ryan Is Wrong – Part CXXIII

Calling Paul Ryan “wrong” seems inadequate. The man is somewhere beyond wrong, living in a grandiose construction of his own narcissism, probably with Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump as neighbors.

The Facts Are In and Paul Ryan Is Wrong

Everyone with two brain cells to rub together has known from the beginning that Paul Ryan is an idiot. But for any still entertaining the delusion that his ideas have merit, this will provide fodder for discussion, provided of course it’s possible to be simultaneously a Ryan acolyte and capable of discussion.