Tag Archives: socialism

Just watched “Capitalism: A love story”

7 Jun

I will state up front that I consider myself a socialist. Not the “Zomg! Obama’s a fascist/socialist/communist/racist/muslim!!!11” kind that the people with tinfoil hats seem to think is socialism, but the one of the actual kinds of socialism.

To be completely honest, I’m not quite sure exactly where I fit on the socialist spectrum. I think I land somewhere between “progressive” and “democratic socialist“.  (At least those were my top too according to this test)

I’m of the position that a government, formed by the people, should be charged with conducting itself in a manner that best protects the interests of the people as a whole. In other words, the government should work to make sure the greatest number of people possible have the best standard of living possible. (Yet the rights/views of minorities should be protected, hence why I don’t believe in direct democracies that lead to mob rule, but I digress)

I feel that hard work should be rewarded, and that people should benefit from their labor. But then this is where my views get confusing, even to me. I do not feel that the wealthiest people in America are necessarily “hard workers”. I feel they cynically game the system much the same way welfare freebooters game the system.

My view that the wealthiest people unfairly manipulate the system was really confirmed by this movie. Now before you make the assumption that I am some Michael Moore fan boy, there was a lot about this movie that did not sit well with me. I felt the lion share of this movie was an appeal to emotion, which makes sense, Moore is trying to outrage you into action, yet I would have preferred he focus more on facts rather than sensationalist teary-eyed families being forced out of their homes.

The facts that are in this movie should speak for themselves. The most compelling part of the film is when Moore weaves together the story of how America became a plutonomy starting with the recession of the Carter years and the capturing of the government by Wall Street during Reagan’s presidency. The scene where Don Regan tells president Ronald Reagan to “speed it [his speech to the NY stock exchange] up” is amazing.

The whole tale of a calculated and organized hijacking of the nation by Wall Street’s CEOs seemed to smack of conspiracy theory. It’s an amazing, and infuriating, story, but I would like to find some evidence outside of Moore’s documentary in order to decide for myself if it’s true. There is one thing, however, that this conspiracy story has going for it that others don’t:

In most conspiracies, the actors are the government. The problem with this is that the government is notoriously incompetent.* The “9/11 was an inside job” conspiracy is extremely improbable merely because of the high level of planning and competency required to pull off such and act and then cover it up. A government is just not capable of that level of finesse. (Especially under Bush’s incompetent reign) In this conspiracy story, however, the actors are not some clumsy government, but a small collection of some of the smartest, most brilliant people in America, the CEOs on Wall Street.

“But wouldn’t market competition dictate that different CEOs be working against each other?” Yes and no. While they most assuredly were in competition with one another, it makes more sense for them to work together on something that would benefit them all greatly. (Like no regulations) However, the ultimate “winner” was Goldman Sachs. Under Clinton and Bush, Goldman Sachs managed to fill top Treasury Department positions with its “former” employees, including even the position of Secretary of Treasury with Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs. (His net worth was $700 million when he left to become Sec. of Treas.) With this superior posturing, Goldman Sachs was in prime position to pressure its will on the government.

(Goldman Sachs also had their CEO in the Sec. of Treas. position with Robert Rubin. (Who also served as CEO of Citigroup) The current Sec. of Treas., Timothy Geithner, is a protegee of Rubin’s)

The most shocking and outrageous part of the film for me came when Moore discussed the recent bailouts of the super banks.  Two months before elections, Sec. Paulson drew up a 3 page plan to bail out Wall Street. (Keep in mind, usually legislation passed by congress is hundreds, if not thousands, of pages long) In that plan Paulson stipulated that all laws, including court review, would be waived:

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Checks and balances anyone? The American people were rightfully outraged, but Paulson and his goons ramped up the fear factor, hoping to cram through the bill with a little debate as possible, just as Bush had done for the Patriot Act and the war in Iraq. Amazingly, for once, the American people fought back and the bill was defeated, by 12 votes. Congress then went home to prepare for elections.

Here is where I become really furious: Enter the democratic party leadership. Paulson and company rush back to DC and enter in backroom deals with the democrats. Promises are made, futures are sealed, and then congress does a complete 180, the American people be damned. Paulson gets the key to our pockets and makes off with 700 Billion; proof Wall Street has muscles to flex over our government.

The film is very thought provoking to say the least. It’s clear that our “free market” system is being manipulated to the benefit of a very select few. Employment near 10%, thousands of people being evicted from their homes, corporations making millions off of “dead peasant” policies, meanwhile banks take billions in our money, only to send their executives on luxurious vacations and the CEOs retire with unholy amounts of money. This isn’t working, but what’s the answer?

Despite the film being directed by Michael Moore, a person people on the right hate as strongly as they love Reagan, I feel a large portion of the movie would appeal to the right as well, especially the Tea Party movement. The fact that we’re being universally fucked by our leaders is something we can all rally behind, and I think this is one of the great points the movie tries to make. Moore references a Citigroup memo that was leaked where Citigroup explained to it’s top investors that they [Wall Street] had successfully turned America into a plutonomy, and that it was no longer a democracy. (Seriously, go read it, it’s scary) The memos explained that the top 1% of America now had more wealth than the bottom 95% COMBINED. Here’s the real kicker: Citigroup states in the memos that the biggest threat to their “gravy train” (yes, that is a direct quote) would be if society demanded a more equitable share of the wealth. The biggest problem was that despite having more money, a rich person can only cast as many votes as a poor person, 1. In other words, if the peasants realized that they were never going to get that carrot, the “American dream” of wealth, that they would revolt and vote the puppet government out of office. (Seriously, go read the memos)

I certainly feel communism is just as evil as American style unregulated capitalism. While we have vast economic inequity, communism, as practiced as a political system, is totalitarian and oppressive. I want there to be a middle ground, that’s why I call my self a progressive socialist. But do my views work? I don’t know. To be honest, I’m not sure how closely my views fall to those in Europe. I’ve always dreamed about moving to Europe because there they work to live, whereas here we live to work. Unfortunately, Europe is going through a financial crisis right now because Greece took that to the extreme, completely unbalancing their budget. I’m interested to see how European style socialism weathers this crisis.

*unless you work for the Coast Guard

View of Tea Party changing

28 Mar

Despite my usually hardline attitude on this blog, I’m not an unreasonable person. If someone calmly presents their case for an argument I’m willing to listen, and depending on their points, might even change my mind.

This has recently happened with my view of the Tea Party movement….sort of.

For the longest time I felt nothing but disdain for the group that I saw as silent during the Bush crimes and record deficits. I viewed them as completely created & led by Fox “news”; gullible angry people being manipulated by big business and special interest. I viewed them as the people who felt the republican party was not conservative enough. An angry mob that claims to love the constitution without ever having read it.

Well, my views have changed a bit.

As for the origins of the Tea Party movement, as it turns out, they did exist back during the Bush ear as the Pork Busters. Apparently they targeted the republican big spenders who were running the deeper and deeper into debt. This is a cause I can applaud. I hate earmarks on both sides of the aisle, and any attempt to cut the pork is good with me.

So what about my view of the tea partiers being silent during the Bush years? Well, if they were supportive of pork busters, then that’s obviously not true. Yet I still feel a bit the same way about the people who are only now just joining up with the tea party. Some attribute this to the economic collapse, but that still doesn’t address the issue of destroying the constitution.

I hear Tea Party protesters claim that Obama is destroying the constitution, and they are furious. (I have looked, and I can’t find any examples other than some people complaining about guns) But for the people who just recently joined up with the Tea Party movement after the republicans lost power, I’d like to ask “Why were you not  joining massive protests against the patriot act, or warrantless wiretaps, or indefinite detention, or the suspension of habeus corpus?” Those were far more drastic and real attacks on the constitution by Bush than anything Obama’s done. Or do you only care about the constitution if your wallet is being threatened?

As for my view that Fox “news” created and have been leading the Tea Party movement, that’s also changed. I accept that I was wrong about that, but it does look like Fox is trying its damnedest to capitalize on the Tea Party by portraying these protesters in a light drastically different from how they portrayed the massive anti-Bush agenda protesters. (But that is more of an attack on Fox than the protesters, for what “fair and balanced” news station would go to such lengths to promote one agenda over another?)

I can empathize with the anger of the Tea Party protesters. The rage they’re feeling now is something I grew up with. That type of anger, but directed at Bush, was constant. I can recognize that some of their aims are good. Smaller government, less waste, reducing the deficit, those are things I can get behind, yet it’s the side effects of the medicine that worry me.

While the Tea Party tends to avoid social issues, if they get power and the issues are laid at their feet, at the end of the day, a great deal of them are conservative. (Or I could be wrong, perhaps they are mainly true libertarians, socially liberal and economically conservative. But I get as riled up over social issues as they do over economic ones, if not more so.)

Atheists have killed millions!

23 Mar

One of the most often used attacks against Atheists is to try and associate them with the French revolution and Communism. The “argument” goes something like this:

“The French revolution and Communism were run by Atheists and they killed millions of people! Therefore Atheism is evil and morally bankrupt.”

This claim is ridiculous on so many levels, yet this does not stop people from hurling it at Atheists. So, where many leaders of the French revolution Atheists? Yes. Were some leaders of communism Atheist? Yes. So that’s checkmate for the Atheists right? No.

There is a very important point that people repeatable fail to recognize: Killing is one thing, killing in the name of something else is another.

This is very important because although the French revolution and communism killed a lot of people, they did not do it in the name of Atheism. Religious fanatics on the other hand have been killing people for thousands of years in the name of their religion, because of their religion.

This is not to say that the killing done by the French revolution and communism should be dismissed, but that you’re comparing apples to oranges. People who killed other people and happened to be Atheists vs people who killed other people because of their religion. In fact, this is an extremely slippery slope for religious people to go down. If they want to claim that Atheism is bad because some people who happened to be Atheists committed crimes, then they are completely damning themselves for this simple reason:

There has always been more religious people than Atheists. Because of Atheism’s smaller population, inevitably more people have been killed throughout history by those who happened to be religious. This includes all murders done by religious people for religious AND non-religious motives. Comparatively murders committed by Atheists are fewer in number, and murders done by Atheists for religious reasons fewer still.

“Well, ok, so there are more theists than Atheists, I bet proportionally the numbers are still equal.” Wrong. When you average out the data to see the ratio of murders done by Atheists per population of Atheists to murders done by theists per population of theists, Atheists commit fewer crimes than theists.

GOP nuts over “stay in school” speech

4 Sep

Ok, they have seriously gone over the deep end. I know there are people out there that think Obama is the anti-christ, and that everything he does is evil, but a “stay in school” speech? Give me a break.

Some conservatives are saying that Obama is trying to indoctrinate children by having them write letters to him on how they can best help the president. There are two major problems with this idea. First and foremost, Obama’s speech is not about how the children can help him, the speech is about staying in school and getting an education. Secondly, the “writing letters” part is voluntary and the white house clarified the language to “write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short‐term and long‐term education goals.”

Ah yes, getting an education, that just reeks of evil socialism. Next they’ll be trying to socialize our schools so every child can get an education.

Faux News, however, doesn’t report the facts and instead prefers to stoke the fears of their gullible audience as seen here:

I’m sorry, but they are really grabbing at straws here. Any reasonable person who takes the time to find out what’s really going on instead of just swallowing Faux New’s bull would have to agree that this is just silly. It just makes conservatives look desperate.