Facts can at times be inconvenient, especially when they don’t match up to what you’ve been told, or what you have internalized as your worldview. This is understandable, but, it doesn’t change anything. Facts are facts, and are not dependent upon your biases or preconceptions.
“Somehow, firing people with jobs became the Republican strategy for job creation. People who taught our children; policed our streets; picked up our garbage; put out our fires; built and maintained our parks, libraries, and roads for a living wage became the scapegoat for the impoverishment the private sector imposed on workers. Instead of organizing to win back their own living wages and lost benefits, people were convinced that taking away those of government workers would somehow make them better off. Divide and conquer politics. The politics of fear, hate, greed, envy and spite. The race to the bottom. Orchestrated by plutocrats, executed by conservatives, allowed by Democrats.”—John Atcheson (via azspot)
What civilization is, is 6 billion people trying to make themselves happy by standing on each other’s shoulders and kicking each other’s teeth in. It’s not a pleasant situation.
And yet, you can stand back and look at this planet and see that we have the money, the power, the medical understanding, the scientific know-how, the love and the community to produce a kind of human paradise. But we are led by the least among us - the least intelligent, the least noble, the least visionary. We are led by the least among us and we do not fight back against the dehumanizing values that are handed down as control icons.
This is something, culture is not your friend. Culture is for other people’s convenience and the convenience of various institutions, churches, companies, tax collection schemes, what have you. It is not your friend. It insults you. It disempowers you. It uses and abuses you. None of us are well treated by culture.
Yet we glorify the creative potential of the individual, the rights of the individual. We understand the felt-presence of experience is what is most important. But the culture is a perversion. It fetishizes objects, creates consumer mania, it preaches endless forms of false happiness, endless forms of false understanding in the form of squirrelly religions and silly cults. It invites people to diminish themselves and dehumanize themselves by behaving like machines.
When David Cameron became PM, and announced his austerity plans — buying completely into both the confidence fairy and the invisible bond vigilantes — many were the hosannas, from both sides of the Atlantic. Pundits here urged Obama to “do a Cameron”; Cameron and Osborne were the toast of Very Serious People everywhere.
Now Britain is officially in double-dip recession, and has achieved the remarkable feat of doing worse this time around than it did in the 1930s.
Britain is also unique in having chosen the Big Wrong freely, facing neither pressure from bond markets nor conditions imposed by Berlin and Frankfurt.
Now, the defense I hear from Cameron apologists is that the austerity mostly hasn’t even hit yet. But that’s really not much of a defense. Remember, the austerity was supposed to work by inspiring confidence; where’s the confidence? Basically, the expansionary aspect should already have kicked in; it’s all contraction from here.
Needless to say, Cameron and Osborne insist that they will not change course, which means that Britain will continue on a death spiral of self-defeating austerity.
A California state Senate committee on Monday approved a bill that aims to protect citizens against “reparative” therapies intended to change the sexual orientation of LGBT people.
By a vote of 5-3, the state Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development advanced SB 1172, which would ban children under 18 from receiving so-called “ex-gay” therapies. Therapists would also have to provide adults receiving treatment with consent forms to warn them of potential dangers.
I’m going to go out on a limb here: being an atheist demands that we work for social justice.
A lot of atheists will argue with this. They’ll say that atheism means one thing and one thing only: the lack of belief in any god. And in the most literal sense, they’re right. It’s different from secular humanism in that way. Secular humanism is more than just not believing in gods or the supernatural. It’s a positive, multifaceted philosophy that includes specific principles of ethical conduct. Atheism, technically, means only the conclusion that there are no gods.
But conclusions don’t stand in a vacuum. They have implications. That’s true for the conclusion that there are no gods as much as any other conclusion. When you conclude that there are no gods, I would argue that one of the implications is a demand that we work for social justice: an end to extreme poverty, political disempowerment, government corruption, gross inequality in economic opportunity, misogyny, racism, homophobia, and so on. For reasons that are high-minded and noble and altruistic… and also for reasons that are pragmatic and Machiavellian to the point of being crass.
South Carolina governor Nikki Haley’s now infamous dismissal, that “Women don’t care about contraception. They care about jobs and their families …” was significant. Of course they care about jobs and their families, as well as their rights as women. But her party has had nothing to offer on the jobs and families front for the past four decades, or on other economic issues. They have chosen a whole set of policies to make the rich richer and the majority of American women and men poorer: from union-busting to tax cuts to de-industrialization, and anti-stimulus policies during our worst recession since the Great Depression. And now they promise more of the same, with spending cuts for the poor and unemployed, and tax cuts for the rich.
It is for these reasons that Republican strategy for four decades has been focused on creating a false populist appeal to white swing voters – who are mostly working class — based on appeals to racism, religious extremism, anti-immigrant sentiment, anti-gay attitudes and other “cultural” issues. The current “war on women” is just another one of the ugly locations to which this strategy has taken them, as they build their bridge to the 17th century.
In the last few years this strategy has broken down, mostly because the Great Recession and weak recovery have focused voters’ attention on the economy. But this latest fight shows that Republicans are losing their “culture wars” even on their own terms.
Some have complained that Democrats are “politicizing” gender issues, but this is what democracy looks like: if one party carries out an assault on the majority of voters – in this case women – their political opposition is going to make an electoral issue out of it. As they should.
What Republicans and some pundits miss, is that women did not need the Democratic Party to tell them there was a war being waged on their reproductive rights. It has been women and their families who have depended on the healthcare provided by Planned Parenthood for years and who see that access under attack.
It was women who saw friends die from illegal abortions and who fought for abortion rights and who want that safety for their granddaughters who raised the alarm about states infringing on that right and noted that Republican legislators decided the had the right to dictate what a woman does with her own body. Like many others of my generation, I was calling my friends and my daughter and granddaughter warning of the need to push back every time any state moved to claim a fetus had more rights to personhood and a woman’s body than the woman herself.
Like most middle and lower class adult women, I’ve worked all my life. I’ve felt pay inequality and never forgot the lawsuits we had to file to gain access to many areas of employment from factories to law firms. I’ve had to support my family both while married and as a single mom. Women recognized these attacks on our progress all on our own.
We recognize that attacks on Medicare and Social Security are not simply attacks on faceless elders. They are attacks on families, elders who want to remain independent and families who might face providing a home for an elderly parent and may have to make up the difference between what was promised and what is delivered. We know how hard that can be on younger struggling families and we know it could sink a struggling single working mom.
Women understand that attacks on unions are attacks on communities and families having the opportunity to improve lives. We understand that most of us are part of a class that has always had to struggle for the inch, much less the mile.
So even if the right and the pundits get the Democratic Party to cower on fighting this particular war, women won’t. Even us grandmothers well passed the time of that need. We may not want our daughters and granddaughters to have an abortion, but we sure held don’t want them being harmed or even to die because a medically safe one from a trained medical professional is not available.
Women understand how tightly woven is the cloth that weaves our reproductive rights, the social safety nets and our economic prosperity together. We understand the connectiveness of the world and the issues we face in our daily lives. We know that attacks on unions and safety nets like attacks on our reproductive rights are directly connected to our personal and family economies. And we know when we are being attacked without any man or party telling us.
Republicans and the right may win a skirmish or two, but in the end, we will win the war.
The Democratic Party had best stand with us as we will not abandon the fight. We fight for ourselves and our futures, but also for our families, communities, the nation and the world our great, great grandchildren will inhabit.
Banks in the US have made it very easy for customers to overdraw their accounts (e.g., by attempting to pay with debit for a transaction that exceeds the balance of the account) and then charge very high fees to punish the customer. These fees are around $25-$35, and around fifteen million people end up paying them ore then ten times a year. The total paid in overdraft fees has been over $30 billion for each of the last two years. This is a whole lot of money.
Even worse, some large banks have started to sell a service that they call “overdraft protection”, which doesn’t protect you against overdrafts (and the associated fees) but instead effectively increases the amount you pay in case of overdraft. If you’re wondering “wow would anyone buy such a service” apparently the banks are being deliberately misleading (some might say lying) to customers and making it sound like they’ll actually be shielded from those fees.
Anyway, nine banks (including JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America) are under investigation by he Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB seems pretty skeptical that overdraft protection is something the banks should be selling at all - and with good reason.
This is exactly where government regulation of the financial sector is most necessary and most effective - specific and targeted rules that protect consumers from misleading statements about misleading financial products. If this investigation leads to reductions in the tens of billions of dollars a year that banks are hauling in from the whole overdraft industry, then that might lead to some degree of funding squeeze. But honestly the banks deserve no sympathy whatsoever.
I complained once on Facebook about the excessive fees banks are charging for overdrafts, which are really in essence nothing more that a very short-term loan. I was told that maybe I shouldn’t overdraft my account then. I then calmly explained how banks have been very sneaky in the way they post items to your account, and a few banks were actually investigated for this very practice recently anyway.
Going back to the point about it being a short-term loan, it is my firm belief that prevailing interest rates should apply to overdrafts, not these exorbitant fees.
If they were higher, the working class would have more disposable income that they could spend on buying things like guitars. Increased aggregate demand for guitars would cause greater employment at guitar center.
Instead, the shitty minimum wage law allows employers to pay workers stupidly low wages, so that the working class can’t buy any thing fun, and thus guitar center can’t hire very many people.
The problem with your argument is the fact that employers cannot supply those jobs at higher wages artificially. Wages rise with time - employers do not have means to hire everyone at those higher wages.
They’re too busy paying themselves 375 times more than the average working class citizen. They could reduce their own pay to pay for more workers.
Unless there was some way to instantly grant employers the money to demand those jobs, they won’t be able to.
Employers already have the money, the monopoly on capital, and the support of the state. But they still need MORE before they stop exploiting people?
It’s like saying “Oh if you give a Mafia boss more guns then he’ll stop shooting people”.
Employers don’t need more money or capital. They need to start paying their workers more, and they need to stop exploiting the shit out of the workers.
Eliminating minimum wage and allowing employers to create sweatshops will increase employment, but the working class would still be fucked over.
“Wages rise with time”
Too true! CEO wages increased 27% in just ONE YEAR! Average worker pay increase in that time period? 2.1%. Oh. Hmmm. Seems like we’ve granted these people plenty of money to hire people at higher than the minimum wage. Tell me, wise Libertarians: how much do we have to pay CEOs before we can make a living wage?
Hahaha. Adjusted for inflation, wages have actually been stagnant since the 1970s. Exactly how much time are we going to give wages to rise until they’re both liveable and poor and middle class people are actually earning more towards the American dream?
I’m sorry to say this, because people who don’t know much about Libertarian philosophy will think I’m being hyper-partisan or unable to sympathize with another person’s point of view, but anyone who buys Libertarianism whole hog is a fucking idiot.
You know what Libertarianism is, really? When you strip away all of the fluff and talking points? It’s a return to feudalism. Plain and simple. Allow me to explain.
Libertarianism is based upon what they say is the basic human right to own property. According to a Libertarian, all other rights stem from this right. Feudalism is an economic system controlled entirely by those who own land. Anyone who does not own land must work the land they live on for the landowners, in order to remain living on that land. In a Libertarian society, anyone who does not own land (or other real property) will be forced to work for those who do, and without wage laws and other forms of worker protection, will be screwed. The “free market” only works as such for those with economic power, i.e. landowners. In other words, feudalism.
So please, Libertarians, don’t try to tell me this is some new, magic-bullet idea that can save the country. Average people have been fighting this type of system for over 1000 years. You’re all assholes.
A law officer close to the investigation of the Trayvon Martin shooting said Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey will charge neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman Wednesday afternoon, according to The Washington Post.
The official did not indicate what charge Zimmerman will face for shooting and killing Martin on February 26th.
An announcement of the charge would come a day after Zimmerman’s lawyers, Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig, withdrew themselves from the case.
NBC News reports that Corey will file criminal charges against Zimmerman would be filed with an announcement at 6 PM. The Miami Heraldreported that Corey will make a decision on any charges by Friday.
The number of teen births in the U.S. dropped again in 2010, according to a government report, with nearly every state seeing a decrease. Nationally, the rate fell 9 percent to about 34 per 1,000 girls ages 15 through 19, and the drop was seen among all racial and ethnic groups. Mississippi continues to have the highest teen birth rate, with 55 births per 1,000 girls. New Hampshire has the lowest rate at just under 16 births per 1,000 girls.
This is the lowest national rate for teen births since the Centers for Disease Control began tracking it in 1940, and CDC officials attributed the decline to pregnancy prevention efforts. Other reports show that teenagers are having less sex and using contraception more often. Studies have backed this up. Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle found that teenagers who received some type of comprehensive sex education were 60 percent less likely to get pregnant or get someone else pregnant. And in 2007, a federal report showed that abstinence-only programs had “no impacts on rates of sexual abstinence.”
But 37 states require sex education that includes abstinence, 26 of which require that abstinence be stressed as the best method. Additionally, research shows that abstinence-only strategies could deter contraceptive use among teenagers, thus increasing their risk of unintended pregnancy.
The most common impediment to clear thinking that a non-believer must confront is the idea that the burden of proof can be fairly placed on his shoulders: “How do you know there is no God? Can you prove it? You atheists are just as dogmatic as the fundamentalists you criticise.” This is nonsense: even the devout tacitly reject thousands of gods, along with the cherished doctrines of every religion but their own. Every Christian can confidently judge the God of Zoroaster to be a creature of fiction, without first scouring the universe for evidence of his absence. Absence of evidence is all one ever needs to banish false knowledge. And bad evidence, proffered in a swoon of wishful thinking, is just as damning.
But honest reasoning can lead us further into the fields of unbelief, for we can prove that books such as the Bible and the Quran bear no trace of divine authorship. We know far too much about the history of these texts to accept what they say about their own origins. And just imagine how good a book would be if it had been written by an omniscient Being.
The moment one views the contents of scripture in this light, one can reject the doctrines of Judaism, Christianity and Islam definitively. The true authors of God’s eternal Word knew nothing about the origins of life, the relationship between mind and brain, the causes of illness, or how best to create a viable, global civilisation in the 21st century. That alone should resolve every conflict between religion and science in the latter’s favour, until the end of the world.
In fact, the notion that any ancient book could be an infallible guide to living in the present gets my vote for being the most dangerously stupid idea on earth.
What remains for us to discover, now and always, are those truths about our world that will allow us to survive and fully flourish. For this, we need only well-intentioned and honest inquiry - love and reason. Faith, if it is ever right about anything, is right by accident.
There is often a gender gap between the two political parties, with woman voters tending to favor the Democrats while a majority of men support Republican candidates. In recent weeks, however, as the Republican Party has become embroiled in the contraception issue, that gap has widened into an abyss.