Tag Archives: debt

It’s a great time to be a conservative

7 Jan

Last Wednesday at noon the republicans took control of the house with the vow to slash domestic funding and decrease the federal deficit.  They came in with a strong list of new rules. One of the biggest changes was “Slash as you go” instead of “Pay as you go.” This means that for every dollar in government spending you add, you must slash a dollar somewhere else. They also forbade anything that would add to the deficit.

But these are republicans, rules? principles? You’ve got to be kidding. Cue massive hypocrisy.

The biggest target in republican’s cross-hairs is the weak sauce healthcare reform. Unfortunately for them, the Congressional Budget Office (the non-partisan organization that crunches the numbers for everything the government does or is considering doing) came out and stated that repealing the health care reform would add $143 billion onto the deficit. That’s a mathematical fact provided by an independent accounting organization.

But then again these are conservatives. Reality and facts are what you want them to be.

The new speaker of the house, republican John Boehner simply replied “The CBO is entitled to their opinion.” The republicans tacitly admitted they knew the CBO was right because they then passed one of their first acts: giving themselves and exemption to their rule of “slash as you go” so they could kill healthcare and add $143 billion to the deficit. Bravo…. (Oh, and don’t forget, even when they kill healthcare, the republicans are planning on keeping their free healthcare that they get as US congressmen.)

But healthcare hypocrisy is not the only reason to celebrate! The republicans plan on gutting every protective legislative body they can. The FDA regulates businesses that make sure the food your family eats or the drugs you take aren’t poison? Kill it. The EPA regulates corporations that would dump toxic sludge in your neighborhood rivers? Kill it.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, they are going after protective legislation with a battle ax.  The goal is to put us back to the turn of the 20th century, where you were either dirt poor or one of those robber barons, where snake oil salesmen went from town to town bilking people of their money in return for poison, where tainted meat and vegetables made their way easily onto your dinner table, where environmental protection was only a dream. This is the goal.

Speaking of environmental protection, it’s official, there will be no improvement in the fight against global warming; the most dangerous and pressing issue facing us today. If we do nothing we may all die. We may very well push our planet out of the the knife edge thin “Goldilocks zone” where the conditions for life are just right, into a run away greenhouse effect that is currently cooking the planet Venus.

But that won’t happen. You know why? JESUS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yep, denying reality (be it scientific or what the CBO says the numbers are) is mandatory for membership in the republican club house. A shinning example is John Shimkus. Johhny boy is trying to become the chairman of the committee responsible for oversight on those groups that regulate pollution, toxic waste, and the greenhouse gases that are cooking our planet. But have no fear! Even though all the observable evidence tells us that we are racing for the cliff edge, nothing bad will happen. Jesus won’t let it. God made this earth for us and he wouldn’t make it so we could corrupt it…. (original sin? releasing evil into the world? No? Guess he’s not big on reading his own book, but then again republican and hypocrisy are synonymous)

But the party continues! Now that the republicans are in control of the house they are promising non-stop investigations and witch hunts, even against organizations that don’t exist anymore.

Yet do you want to know the #1 reason right now is an amazing time to be a conservative? The icing on the cake? The piñata of goodies?

Because Obama is your bitch and no matter how bad your policies fuck up the country and the future of the world, ultimately he is president and there is a “D” by his name.  Obama just hired William Daley to be his chief of staff, replacing Rahm Emanuel. (Rahm who said liberals, ie the people who voted for Obama and make up the democratic base, were “fucking retarded.”) If you think Rahm is right wing and pro-establishment, get a load of Daley! Daley’s a right wing corporatist who works for JP Morgan and who wants to kill the consumer protection agency! There is no fucking way Obama is a liberal or has any intention of fighting the status quo! He is the status quo.

So republicans are vicariously living through Obama while pushing through their “kill all government agencies that don’t help the rich get richer” policies that, if they fail or fuck everything up, they can easily lay at the feet of the democrats just in time for the 2012 elections when they can do it all over again for another four years… Goddamn it’s a good time to be conservative!

Trying to understand the rules of the game

2 Jan

Natural selection is the engine that drives evolution, but within the heart of natural selection is a concept that is central to all of existence; there are rules to the game that determine who wins.

This concepts of rules exists in every aspect of our lives. The rules may change from scenario to scenario, but nonetheless there are rules. We are born into this game not knowing what the rules are for each scenario, and as we grow up we hope to uncover little by little what those rules are. In order to survive and prosper you must understand the rules of the game, for it is only then that you can manipulate and maneuver through them.

The most immediate and glaring example of the existence of these rules is in evolution, from whence we first discovered the concept of natural selection.

In evolution, the goal of the game is to survive and pass on your genes to your children. Nothing else matters. Anything that hinders you in this process will be phased out. A bird better adapted to catching a worm will survive and have children more successfully than a bird more poorly adapted to this task. Those are the rules. That which is most efficient in helping you achieve the goal of the game wins. There is no mercy or tolerance for anything less. Such is the brutality and indifference of nature.

One of the biggest challenges we face growing up is uncovering the true rules, the true mechanics of the game which are often hidden under the more palatable false rules.

For example: “Just work hard and you will succeed” portends that the most efficient and best way of achieving the goal of succeeding is by hard work. Surely the harder you work, the more you will succeed.  While hard work is definately needed in a lot of situations in life, this is a misleading explanation of the rules.

In 2010 Nike’s CEO Mark Parker made 13.1 million dollars. The average Vietnamese Nike sweatshop worker makes $.26/hr. In order for the sweatshop worker to make the same as the CEO, she would have to work nonstop for 5,748 years. Most of these workers are trapped in sweatshop jobs with the choice to either work 40 hours in overtime a week or starve to death on the street.  Obviously in this scenario the notion that “hard work equals success” is a delusion.

A less extreme example is in the American workplace. Yet again, as children we are told that the rules are “hard work equals success” and that knowledge gives us a leg up. While these are both true in some degree, we quickly learn that this is not how the game functions. In order to achieve the goal of getting a promotion and being “successful” it is more important who you know than what you know.

We see the same thing in the dating world. From the onset guys are told that in order to succeed (ie, have lots of sex) the rules are “be sweet and caring.” Yet what it takes years for some guys to figure out, and others never learn, is that maximizing sweetness and caring in an attempt to maximize success fails because sweetness and caring equate to boring, and boring = death. Hence why aggressive asshole guys are more successful in having lots of sex because, while they might be assholes, they’re interesting.  (Now if the goal was to have a stable and healthy relationship and not just copious amounts of sex, then the rules would change and sweetness and caring would be more important)

Another great example of the concept of rules and false rules in action is politics. Ostensibly politics is about how to best lead the nation, how to best maximize the quality of life for the people who pay taxes and make up that nation. A naive person who still believed this would likely also believe that the rules would favor politicians and legislation best suited to this end. (I was once one such naive person) However, if you closely follow politics long enough, you will quickly discover that this is not the goal of the game, nor how the game operates. The game has never been about “the nation and the people who comprise it.”  That is just glittery lip-service every politician gives to half-heartedly mask the true mechanics of the game, namely the self-enrichment of the powerful players (the politicians) within the game.

In politics, as in much of life, those with the most money win. It is the cold and indifferent fact of the game, no different than the fact that the slower bunny will be dinner for the wolf. We may cheerfully delude ourselves with David and Goliath stories, but in the end the mechanics are what they are, irregardless of your strongest desires.

This is why nothing more than PR campaigns and package re-branding will ever be done about global warming until the problem is so severe it starts seriously hurting profit margins. (By which time it will be too late and our life sustaining eco-system is destroyed) This is why despite a 70% approval of a public option in healthcare the measure was defeated. Competition would have been bad for business for those who were writing the congressmen’s checks.  This is why America’s deficit will never be brought under control. Politicians will pay lip-service and feign outrage over the debt and then turn around and add $3.9 trillion in debt over the next 10 years by giving taxcuts to themselves and the other richest people in America.  That is the reality of the politics game and how it is played.

So the question then becomes “Is there a way to change the rules?” I honestly don’t know. The only example I can think of where we’ve changed the rules slightly is in basic survival. Over the centuries science has developed new technologies that increase our life span. Child mortality has fallen drastically in most parts of the world, and many people who normally would not have survived thousands of years ago do. Chances are you’re one of them. I know I am. I have poor eye-site; if it were not for the science of optics, I would be blind to everything 5 feet away from me.

Even if the rules pertaining to human survival have been tempered by technology, the rules regarding prospering and politics have not. Ultimately the rules regarding those two games effect the rules regarding basic survival. (Earlier I gave the example of global warming) So far we as a species have been unable to effect the rules governing politics and prosperity except by temporarily resetting them through violent revolutions.  “Cruel leaders are replaced only to have new leaders become cruel.” I’m not sure if it is possible to effect a paradigm shift other than regularly tearing everything down. But I digress.

I just wanted to reflect on the existence of these rules that govern every scenario and how one task of growing up is discovering these underlying principles through experimentation and observation.

Want to cut the deficit? Cut defense.

9 Nov

The United States’ debt is over 14 trillion dollars and the government is operating at a 1.171 trillion dollar deficit.  The conservatives just took control of the US House of representatives, which initiates all tax legislation, and they are demanding that the national debt be brought under control. What is their solution? They don’t have one. Economics 101: In order to lower the size of your debt, you need to either cut back on spending, or raise taxes. The conservatives refuse to do either. Instead they think giving a tax break to the richest people in the country will magically lower the deficit.

When it comes to cutting government spending, there is one area that is off limits; it is the sacred cow for conservatives: the military. They will cut anything else, usually education, but suggesting that the military be cut is akin to burning a bible wrapped in a flag.

Do you know how much the US spends on defense in 2010? $1.03 Trillion We spend more on war than any other part of our budget. We spend more on war than any other country on the planet. We spend more on war than the next 10+ runners up COMBINED. Despite this jaw-dropping expenditure, cutting it is off limits because it gives conservatives a massive hard-on. Nothing gets them more turned on than the idea of steamrolling darker skinned non-christian foreigners in the desert. In America, a nation drunk on war and the military industrial complex, suggesting the military be cut is unpatriotic.

We don’t need military bases all over the world. We don’t need to spend 1.03 trillion dollars on keeping the largest military force in the world. What conservatives fail to understand is that the world has changed since Reagan. The United States military, in it’s current form, initially grew to fight the Nazis and the Japanese. After WWII the next threat was the Soviet Empire. The weapons and tactics evolved, but the military was still designed to fight WWIII with the Russians. Newsflash: The USSR fell, it’s not a military threat anymore.

Now that the Soviets are gone we have this massive sledge hammer of a military, and nobody that can match us. There is no need to keep it this massive. Who are we fighting? Radical Islam. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan don’t drive around in armored convoys, they don’t have military bases, they don’t wear uniforms. They’re a bunch of guerrilla fighters with sandals and AK-47’s. Our gigantic military was built to fight pitch battles against similarly equipped armies, we’ve struggled to adapt to the more delicate job of building nations.

“What about China?” Good question. Here is another thing conservatives don’t understand has changed. Back in the old days wars were fought with armies and a nation’s greatness was measured in how many miles of land it owned. That is no longer how wars are going to be waged, and China gets that. China has no interest in getting involved with us militarily. It would be a lose-lose scenario, and it’s not good for business. That’s the key word there: business. China understands that future wars will be economic ones, and right now they’re winning. They’re winning big. Meanwhile we spend a trillion dollars fighting yesterday’s war, concerned only about where we can erect more phallic statues to our ego.

The threat of our nuclear arsenal and a small, nimble, technologically superior military that can strike at will is all we need to keep our interests safe. We can compete with the Chinese if we cut the military, end them from being our creditors, and then invest the money back into education. We can do it, but we won’t. Conservatives will only realize the trillions spent on defense are worthless when Asia crushes us economically, our education system collapses, and our prison systems are unable to handle the influx of new inmates. (Even then when they do realize their mistake, they won’t admit it. They’ll just blame it on gays, feminists, and not having enough god in the government)

 

Software License Culture

28 Oct

The other day I saw a really funny quote that made me think:

To most Christians, the bible is like a software license. Nobody actually reads it, they just scroll through it and hit ‘I agree’.”

While I agree that the majority of religious people in this country don’t actually give their faith much critical thought, I think this type of behavior extends beyond just religion. “Software license behavior” seems to affect every walk of life. Liberal, conservative, Christian, Muslim, and even atheists. You see this type of behavior even in areas outside of religion and politics. How often do people just flip through cell phone contracts, or medical papers, any type of form with content that requires critical analysis, and simply sign without reading?

I feel like it’s endemic to our life style. “I’m in a hurry, I just want to get in and out, I don’t have time to sit down and read all this crap. If it’s bad I’m sure I would have heard about it; I don’t want to make the effort to think.” It’s laziness pure and simple. We’re too focused on the here and now to worry much about the future. We tell ourselves we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, and that gives us the comforting delusion that we needn’t worry. Meanwhile, the average credit card in America is $15,788.

It has consequences! Yeah the cell phone salesman, the car dealer, or the medical secretary might get impatient if you take the time to read through the paperwork before you sign, but look what’s at stake! Is not making them frustrated worth all the harsh consequences you’ll have to deal with down the road? Of course not, so tell them to suck it up. But I’ve digressed from my original reason for posting this.

So given this software license laziness in our culture, I’m really surprised that when it comes to things that matter, big picture things like politics and religion; people will go out of their way to defend a position they were too lazy to even study in the first place! (Now again, this is a human thing so it affects everybody, but it has been my experience that this type of behavior tends to disproportional affect conservative religious types)

The bible and the constitution are perfect examples. Both are seen as sacred documents, and both are idolized by the conservative movement in this country. The funny thing is, it appears the conservative movement, despite worshiping these two texts, has never bothered to actually read them.

There is a little saying within the atheist community: “The bible is the greatest tool for making atheists.” Religious groups love to gloss over the bible and cherry pick the parts that best fit their agenda. There are hundreds of disgusting and disturbing passages in the bible that you’ll never hear in church, or hear a politician spouting. (Google them) If someone actually took the time to read the bible cover to cover, they’d see that the “good book” is anything but good.

Lately there have been a rash of conservative candidates around the country attacking the separation of church and state. They cite the constitution and claim that the concept is absent. Obviously many of them haven’t even read the document. Christine O’Donnell, the lovely theocrat from Delaware, apparently had no idea what the first amendment contained. “Where in the constitution is the phrase ‘separation of church and state’?” How about this? Where in the bible is the phrase “personal relationship with Jesus?” Apparently the Texas school board, while rewriting history books to fit their conservative christian agenda, was furious that the first amendment lessons completely ignored gun rights! The damn liberal conspiracy erased gun rights from the first amendment. Psst! Hey stupid, read the second amendment! These people get all fired up over facts they have completely wrong because they didn’t bother to read the facts in the first place. Furthermore, this ignorance is seen as a virtue! The less you know, the less you’re corrupted by that reality and its liberal bias.

I weep for humanity…