Inescapable

A segment on NPR yesterday had me going back to Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter From Birmingham Jail." What an astonishing and rich document that is. The epistle of Martin to the churches that are in Alabama is inspired and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness.

Which may explain why King's words these days are treated with the kind of disingenuous but-of-course lip service usually reserved for the Bible or the Constitution. Martin Luther King Jr. is frequently cited as something like a talisman — as an invocation and a protective inoculation.

King is invoked most often these days defensively, as a counter-balance to some statement or stance that would otherwise seem to contradict the great revival of civil rights that King the preacher and person and actual historical figure embodied.

And I don't think such invocations ought to be allowed to go unchallenged or unexplored.

So here's one antidote and an assignment for journalists. Memorize the following three sentences from "Letter From a Birmingham Jail":

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

That's far from the most radical or controversial or threatening or shocking thing Martin Luther King Jr. ever said, but it still gets to the core of his revolutionary philosophy and of his life's work and achievement.

So memorize this and have it at the ready. And the next time a Chuck Colson or a Rand Paul defensively name-checks Martin Luther King Jr., lavishing praise on him and asserting their unqualified agreement with all that he said, recite this to them.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

Politely ask them to explain what this means to them. Ask them how this idea of "inescapable … mutuality" influences their own thinking.

Politely ask them to reconcile this mutuality with their advocacy of radical deregulation or of the primacy of anti-gay legislation or whatever it is they were arguing that caused them to pause and shore up their defenses, inoculating themselves from predictable criticism by invoking King's name.

Politely ask them if they understand that others might view these opposites of mutuality and exclusive irresponsibility as difficult to reconcile. Politely ask if Martin Luther King Jr. is really the best person to invoke when what they're advocating is an escape from his "network of mutuality."

Rand Paul seems a particularly unconvincing admirer of King. Paul's central belief is an enthusiastic denial of mutuality. He is a disciple of his libertarian namesake, Ayn Rand, the author of The Virtue of Selfishness. Yet Paul insists he's a fan of King — calling him a great "idealist."

That won't do. King did not regard himself as an idealist. He did not think of that "network of mutuality" as an ideal, or as a lovely suggestion, or aspiration or mere dream. He did not regard it as a thing to be admired when convenient, but as a thing that was and is and will be regardless of whether or not we choose to admire it. He saw it as a fundamental law of the universe.

That's what he meant by "inescapable."

We can no more ignore this law of the universe, King believed, that we can the law of gravity. Denying our mutuality he said would be like stepping off the highest building in Detroit — it would result in inescapable consequences.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

That is either true or it's not.

If it is true, then Ayn Rand was colossally wrong and her followers are fools, leaping one by one from the roof of the Renaissance Center.

If it is not true, then King was colossally wrong and his followers are fools, their admiration of him is in vain and they are of all people most to be pitied.

Left Behind Classic Fridays, No. 40: 'Ars poetica'
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Sunday WTF?
Fourth of July fireworks
  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    So you actually have a nuanced position and would like everyone to see it as such.
    Dornier, are you saying that it’s a crude position to support straightforward marriage equality? Because, y’know, sometimes a simple solution actually is the best. Not everything has to be over-complicated, and sometimes it can be an outright obstacle to getting things done.

  • StuJay

    Kit and Will (and Rebecca- why I did not respond to Hawaii’s situation),
    Well I guess we just disagree over tactics. How to change the rules in the most efficient way.
    In principle, I agree with Tonio: marriage should not be up for a vote. But I think that the way to make that happen is for it to be done out side of government. (Art has expressed this view earlier- quite well in some posts, less clearly in others).
    If you want to make a principled stand about Marriage Equality then that is fine, do so; stand up and yell, march, write, put the view in public. If you can stir up a groundswell and create a victory in one go, great. Then I will admit that my view of the political conditions in play was wrong.
    But given (what I see as) the current political climate I don’t see that confrontation on this issue as an effective strategy for changing the status quo anytime soon. This change is going to require at least a majority vote in the Congress (a 2/3rds vote if the Constitution is involved).
    Frankly Will, if as you say, that I am right about my assessment of the situation then I don’t see how these factors are IR-relevant. Those in Congress see a vicious backlash building via the Tea Party et al. against pretty much anything that might be construed as progressive. Even the most progressive in Congress are going to say to SSM advocates “yes, we want to help you but NOW is NOT the time.”
    Plus I am pretty sure that the uncommitted middle see this as a ‘trivial’ issue not worthy of spending anyones time on esp. given other more pressing issues on the table – I am not saying I agree with this view just that a lot of the the ‘support for SSM’ is the soft: “OK, if it doesn’t cost me any thing” type. That is not something any member of Congress is going to feel they can take on the Right wing zealots with.
    Canada accomplished this feat by a “back door” route of gradually, quietly, extending benefits to same sex couples until by the time the Law was written it was “almost” an after thought. I think this is the most effective route to follow. Slow, gradual, one move at a time, start with the the thin end of the wedge and keep it moving. That I think will be the fastest way to get to real equal treatment of all couples regardless of what it is called. The equal treatment to me is what counts. Not how some bigot thinks about the contract (civil union /marriage), they will have to accept it if it has the rule of law behind it.
    I also like LE ‘s idea of temporary partnerships (which the participants can choose to call a marriage or not).

  • chris y

    I also like LE ‘s idea of temporary partnerships (which the participants can choose to call a marriage or not).
    Art can correct me, please, but I believe something like this, recognised as a kind of marriage, is theoretically permitted in Shi’a Islam, although I understand that most Shi’ites today, even (especially?) those whose outlook is less traditional, regard it as rather suspect behaviour – traditionalists prefer to encourage more permanent marriages, anti-traditionalists prefer to just get it on.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    @StuJay: the thing is, I think the situation, if it’s as you describe, is one that an intelligent politican could well play to their advantage. You describe a situation with equality advocates at one end, an uncommitted middle who don’t particularly care, and some screaming bigots who aren’t very strong numerically speaking. Play to the first two and let the screaming bigots show their ugly true colours, then use that to say, ‘Are these the people you want to be associated with?’ The Tea Partiers are nothing like a majority, and they consistently act badly enough that a shrewd PR team could use them as a powerful recruiting tool for the other side.
    The far right has had a disproportionate influence on government because of noise rather than numbers for far too long now. I think they need to be put in sharp perspective.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mmy mmy

    @StuJay: Canada accomplished this feat by a “back door” route of gradually, quietly, extending benefits to same sex couples until by the time the Law was written it was “almost” an after thought.
    Although I certainly agree that Canada backed into SSM by effectively granting economic equality and then ending up with a situation where adding full acknowledgment changed little it is important to realize that it was indeed gradual but not really slow.
    In 1999 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that same sex partners had many of the same economic/legal rights/benefits as different sex partners.
    By 2003, the governments of 3 provinces had called on the federal government to implement same-sex marriage within the next 2-3 years. Two of those provinces, Ontario and Quebec, are the most populated in Canada.
    By the time (2005) that same-sex marriage became legalized on a federal level 90% of the population of Canada lived in provinces/territories that accepted SSM.
    In other words from beginning to end the process took just over half a decade. In the world of law that isn’t gradualism that is lightning speed.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mmy mmy

    follow-up to my own post.
    I am in favour of gradualism as a way of speeding things along. Unfortunately gradualism is often used as a rear-guard action against change.
    Also, if you look at it, large parts of Canada were ready for SSM long before the courts figured out a way of implementing it. For example, there was a SSM in Toronto in 2001. Although the Ontario government didn’t get around to making SSM legal in the province until 2003 it did recognize the validity of the 2001 marriage.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    In other words from beginning to end the process took just over half a decade. In the world of law that isn’t gradualism that is lightning speed.
    Hail Canada.
    I don’t know the people involved, of course, but that doesn’t look like a commitment to gradual change. It looks like a commitment to get things changed as fast as was realistically possible.
    The calls for gradualism in America I hear, on the other hand, don’t have that ring to them. They seem to anticipate a much slower timescale at best. I mean, if we have to wait for the extreme right to become less of a factor, we could wait for a generation or more – and pandering to them isn’t going to help shift them.
    If the American gradualist plan was to move towards same sex marriage within a few years, that would be one thing. But at the moment, it strikes me as too darn gradual, to the point of not actually achieving anything in many states.
    And, for the record, my own country isn’t doing too brilliantly either. We’ve got civil unions for same sex couples, which mean the same ‘rights and responsibilities’ (as my MP quoted about five times in the letter she sent me explaining why she wasn’t going to support SSM) as marriage. So what does that mean? The middle grounders all stand firm against same sex marriage because they don’t think there’s any need for it. A compromise is better than nothing, but it can also be a sticking point. Gradualism can turn into deadlock.

  • Dav

    The calls for gradualism in America I hear, on the other hand, don’t have that ring to them. They seem to anticipate a much slower timescale at best.
    Yeah, it’s not a “what can we realistically accomplish right now, and what can we work for for tomorrow”, which I think is a fair attitude towards activism. It’s a “let’s wait for the bigots to die off and then it’ll just happen without anyone pushing for it”, which is . . . not so awesome. Or it comes from people who feel that SSM is inevitable, and it’s inevitable not because of activism, but because people just magically become less bigoted over time. It’s true that there’s a big generation gap, but it’s not like young people have just magically evolved – that change in attitude is a direct result of the work people have been doing for decades. Activism can seem really invisible if you’re privileged, so to a lot of people, these changes in attitude just sort of happened.
    The other suspicious thing about gradualism is that there’s little pressure on the far-right to change – generally, this is a way to shut up activists. (I don’t think this is what all gradualists *intend*, but it is what happens, which parallels a suspicious marginalization of other minority issues on the left, past and present.)
    I’m fortunate in that my congressperson is gay, out, and ~95% awesome, so I frequently receive updates on what’s she’s doing for LGBTQ populations. (Or trying to do.) It’s a nice feeling to know that your personal representative is actually kind of representative of you, even if the situation is deadlocked for now. Then again, my state has a extra-depressing history of homophobic legislation and policy, so it’s a mixed bag. We have legislation in place that makes it illegal to provide “marriage-like” states or benefits to same-sex couples, just in case the ban on SSM didn’t make it clear that we really, really don’t like gay people.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    The other thing about SSM in America – like I say, my own country’s a different situation – is that some states have actually legalised it already. And then had massive fights over whether to keep it. Gradualism and civil unions would be, in many places, a step backwards.
    When states are fighting over whether it’s Constitutional to allow or forbid same sex marriage, a plan of gradualism just doesn’t reflect the political reality. Dramatic solutions one way or the other are already being passed into law or debated at the highest Constitutional levels. The present situation is drastic and changing all the time; slow change isn’t appropriate here, because this isn’t a climate of slow change, it’s a climate of fast and intense battles.
    If America had taken the Canadian route and worked out a national program of gradual change over the last decade or two, then it might be different. But that’s not what happened. What America has done over the last decade is take dramatic leaps both forwards and backwards until everyone is seasick.
    Peaceful, gradual change sounds nice in theory, but America doesn’t have the calm weather to carry it through. What it has is a current and rapidly-changing crisis, and crises need to be dealt with decisively.

  • StuJay

    The Tea Partiers are nothing like a majority, and they consistently act badly enough that a shrewd PR team could use them as a powerful recruiting tool for the other side.
    The far right has had a disproportionate influence on government because of noise rather than numbers for far too long now. I think they need to be put in sharp perspective.- Kit

    I like your plan, Kit. (OTOH I like anything that might result in a huge sink hole swallowing up the Tea Baggers) Where do we get this PR firm? Democrats don’t seem to have the *stones* for this kind of thing anymore.
    We need to aim this PR team at Tom Corbett, too! (the guy makes me want to go wash my hands after merely typing his name). Where do all these slimy people come from? Is there a factory in China somewhere?
    Hmm, You know I bet it is part of China’s master plan to dominate the world – cripple the US with “leaders” who refuse to see Reality and thereby lead Americans over a cliff. And since we have all seen the Manchurian Candidate no one will believe me! I feel like Kevin McCarthy at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. (Only the original B&W version ever scared me. )
    We need that PR team STAT.
    I am in favour of gradualism as a way of speeding things along. Unfortunately gradualism is often used as a rear-guard action against change. – mmy
    I am fully in favor of the former gradualism in this case. I have not been arguing for he latter in spite of ‘accusations’ to the contrary.
    And thanks for the summary of Canadian history vis this issue.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mmy mmy

    @StuJfay: I have not been arguing for he latter in spite of ‘accusations’ to the contrary.
    I wasn’t accusing you — sorry if it sounded that way.

  • hapax

    A pedantic note — the “temporary marriage” (Nikah al-mut’ah) which is permitted in the Shi’ite schools of Shariah law, is viewed with distaste by many modern Muslims because it is often used as a form of legalized prostitution.
    Of course, it is also regarded positively by many modern Muslims for exactly the same reason.

  • StuJay

    @mmy
    No I did not mean you, mmy. Kit and Will and I have been trading posts back and forth about what needs to be done when & how etc. I am not blaming them or anyone, we just having a disagreement (and perhaps misunderstanding each other). That was why I put accusations in quotes. Sorry you got caught in the middle. I just wanted to comment on your post as well,
    Best Regards.

  • Dornier Pfeil

    hapax-
    @Dornier Pfeil — I just want to thank you for sticking around and composing such an extensive and thoughtful response.
    Some of us here — including me — have been giving you a pretty hard time, mostly because the self-described libertarians we have encountered (here, elsewhere online, those described as the leaders of the libertarian movement) are, to put it politely, on the more extreme, doctrinaire, and thoughtless fringe.

    Thankyou.
    Having never attended a Libertarian Party meeting myself, I will grant you the benefit of the doubt when you insist that most (well, at least half) of your fellows are not like that, and that there is considerably more nuance and depth to the philosophy.
    The common ground on what Liberals and Libertarians can agree on is not nonzero. On issues of economic social justice there is very little if any agreement. Even the saner types have tremendous problems getting that self-interest can be served by not letting significant parts of humanity suffer. I have my own analogies, that I use to argue for social safety net issues with my fellows, that have convinced a marginal handful, people who share the no-true-scotsman stain that I have. But I am just a peon at the bottom of the pile and altering the platform of an entire party is unreachable.
    On civil social justice issues there is a great deal of overlap and there should be less hostility. The chief criterian for a Lib about what is moral and what is not is simply the use of force. Unfortunately the current example under examination is one that involved the use of force by necessity falling down on the side of ending an oppression, so this is one issue that is divisive. But most rights that Liberals endorse are also endorsed by Libertarians. Including abortion. So you can work it out for yourself why Ron Paul and Son are Republicans now.
    I just didn’t want your post to be buried without acknowledgment.
    Thankyou again
    I feel that no person, no matter their economic condition or ability or willingness to work, ever achieves success (“productivity” if you like) entirely by their own merit. All of us build upon the framework (a “network of mutuality”, as some have said) of those who went before us, who surround us, support us, teach us, maintain the society in which we live and produce.
    If all the corporations of the modern world had to pay Michael Faraday royalties for the work he did that forms the basis of the modern technology supporting corporate profitability, his estate would be worth trillions. He is my favorite example of our mutual interdependence, not just across geographic space but across historical time.
    To speak of clinging to the results of MY productivity in the context of members of that same society STARVING is almost difficult to make sense of.
    While I have quibbles of degree in execution, I have no difficulties in kind with your sentiment.
    ciao bella
    @Pius Thicknesse-
    There’s some basic decency due one another as human beings and that includes not letting people fucking STARVE.
    I expected that kind of simplistic, vilifying sarcasm and you certainly didn’t dissappoint. Empathy is our evolutionary heritage but our species does not consist of 6,500,000,000 clones of Pius Thicknesse who all have identical levels of empathy and tribal affinities and allegiances chemically imprinted into their brains. If there had been some selective pressure for it, maybe we could all be just like you, but we aren’t. That is a strong indicator that the diversity of thought and feeling in our species is a GOOD thing. (I will grant, though, that our mental faculties are probably still too firmly rooted to the African Savanna and they need advance. A lot.) The hardest right Repugs and Libs simply don’t feel so strongly as that and declaring them as somehow not even subhuman is oh so very productive. You will never succeed in waving a magic wand and making all the Repugs vanish nor they you. So learn how to live with them. And yes, I have said the same thing to Repugs. And yes, I still call them Repugs and I like doing it.
    @Rebecca-
    Differences being:
    The differences you mention are tangential to my point, which is just the fact that a government must spend money; where it goes is a political contest and different people/parties will have different priorities and consider different self-rationalizations important. (Not that I disagree with either 1 or 3, and while not an official policy, I have heard the sentiment expressed in 2 a handful of times over the years from nationally prominent Dem’s in random interviews.)
    Sooo…how do you propose funding all of this?
    I like Alexander Hamilton’s barely fleshed out and never pursued notion of a commerce tax. The modern computer age would make it eminently workable.
    The graduated income tax is the only way to both
    ONLY? Europe’s VAT was invented from wholecloth less than a century ago. Inventing new taxes seems like something governments would be good at. People who would use the word only are showing a dearth of imagination, no offense intended.
    2) not overburden those same programs by throwing half the country into poverty.
    I am guessing you are referencing the disingenuous attempts of the Repugs to pass off some kind of national sales tax as a wonderful thing for the lower classes, but I am not sure. May I ask if you can elaborate on how?
    But you won’t extend the same demand to yourself and stop privileging the free market over the citizenry?
    The privilege and preference I referenced was poorly elaborated on. Forgive me. That P&P is, in our day and age, functionally expressed by raising an alleged free market over the citizenry. In my mind the phrase ‘free market’ is incomplete. Free market entrepreneurialism is complete. The blacksmith working out of the back of his truck I read about in the paper earlier this week. The carpenter doing the same. The woman who operates a daycare out of her home one block down from me. The independent bookstore I shop in. The new coffee house that opened up earlier this year between here and the daycare. The hi-tech startup some college chums put together in silicon valley. That is the free market to me. Corporate capitalism(corporatism) subsisting off the teats of government, and in more forms than just simple subsidy, is not the free market. The most visible example we have right now is the regulatory corruption of the Mine Dept(fuzzy on the name just now) and the most visible consequence is the BP disaster. The entire state of Montana was once a wholely owned subsidiary of the Anaconda Copper Company. Participatory democracy was impotent in that state for 10 decades. (I almost wrote “did not exist”. Too over the top?) Admittedly that is probably the most extreme example I could grasp at. But it illustrates my point. I guess I would say I feel the citizenry is the free market and vice versa. Corporations are not people.

  • Dornier Pfeil

    LE-
    I’m interested in what you consider the “productive economy.” For example, a lot of what used to be considered “women’s work” is still not included in the GDP unless people are wealthy enough to farm it out. In my opinion, parents who stay at home and contribute their child care and homemaking skills to the household are still “productive,” at least in terms of providing a critical service to society. In most cases, it’s not work that can be neglected (not unless, for example, we want the next generation to grow up feral) – they either have to do it themselves, or pay someone else to do it, but only one of those methods gets rolled into GDP.
    It’s also not clear to me what you would consider a fair tax. I think I get indexing it to GDP (though I need to do some deep thinking about how that would work), but that’s about the rate, not the how. You said you disapprove of the income tax – so what would you tax?

    I love Henry George! :) But no, Alex Hamilton has the idea I take to.
    It is a shame that there is no real recognition of the value of domesticity(if you were looking for a better word than “women’s work”). IIRC once upon a time domestic work did not get credit in the SSA for retirement purposes and women had to fight for it? But no, productive is pretty much limited to commerce involving money Trying to tax domesticity would be a nightmare I could not countenance.
    The how is the tax itself. The total commerce of the country is actually much larger than the GDP(much larger even than the GNP) and a fixed rate tax would of the total commerce would amount to an index. Last year’s GDP was 13 trillion. According to the Christian Science Monitor total tax burden of the USA last year was 28% for combined federal, state, and local levels. The CSM did not break it into percentages for each level but I know the federal budget for 2009 passed 2 trillion so around 15% which, coincidentally, is my own personal bugaboo line in the sand. If total commerce of the country was even twice GDP a rate of only 7.5% would have supplied the same amount. Capital flows dwarf the economy of the poorer half of the nation. Significantly. Twice size is a conservative guess. The rate could be fixed and still apply to all segments of the economy and still be progressive in effect even if not in fact. Especially when coupled with the one original idea the Repugs have managed to pull from the anal orifice they call a brain in the last 100 years, the prebate. My pipedream prayer is that the rate be as little as 1 or 2 percent. When I finally manage to find the information I am looking for maybe I will be pleasantly surprised and find even less than 1%.
    @Mike Timonin-
    I won’t single out anything you wrote, my verbal vomit has gone on long enough, but your last paragraph is exactly how I try to convince others who have hard right views. It is a lot cheaper to prevent suffering than to treat it and much cheaper still than to deal with the consequences of social unrest after the fact. To continue with what I said to Pius, empathy arguments have very little traction. Thank you for understanding the spirit of my inquiry.
    our post-secondary education system is expensive,
    In North Carolina, the constitution promises a free post secondary education for the citizens to “the maximum extent practicable”. The state legislature hides behind that phrase to the maximum extent they can because not a year goes by that they don’t raise tuition, well past the inflation rate. Even when times are good.
    @Pius-
    Someday I will give you a drive on I-40. It is a wonderfully well kept road. At least the section I frequent. I would have to borrow my sister’s Mustang since I don’t own a car. Unfortunately, it is also boring. State and US highways that predate the interstate system are always more interesting. If you try California, go up the BigSur and Napa highways.

  • Dornier Pfeil

    Oh, I forgot to explain that according to some guy on the Daily Show, we needed an income tax before we could outlaw the sale of booze because taxes on alcohol in 1910 supplied 40% of federal funds. Because we used to drink an absurd amount. In 1830 it came to “7 1/2 gallons of pure alcohol a year.”
    The alcohol industry was among the most vociferous opponents of women’s suffrage because they feared the women’s temperance movement so much. There is a great deal of subtle and not-so-subtle interconnectedness of issues in history.
    @Andrew Glasgow Jul 15, 2010 at 12:57 AM-
    I am rapidly running out of wakefullness, so I will put you off til later, but your sarcasm is lost on me. I have used exactly the same sarcasm on conservatives too. I don’t disagree with you in the way you think I do.
    @Will Wildman-
    “Why am I responsible for caring for others?” and the answer is, always, every time, “Because I can.”
    You and I probably shouldn’t engage, but that is the correct answer for you. Different people will have different correct answers. Politics is where everybody’s individually correct answers are hashed into policy.
    @StuJay-
    Oh and @Will: Because I can = excellent reposte to the Libertarian “theft” nonsense. I have always hated that argument of theirs. I, to add my assent to those a few posts back, am a willing taxpayer and want my government to make lives better with what I pay.
    But what if a producer doesn’t want to pay taxes. Ok fine. He gets thrown in jail. Now he is 1)not producing anymore, 2) a drain on resources. How is this any better? This is not a defense of tax cheats, I just think we have a crappy system all around, that is working at cross-purposes to itself.

  • Dornier Pfeil

    Here is a nice connection between LGTB issues and Association
    A transgendered woman
    is kicked out of her country club.

  • MercuryBlue

    IIRC once upon a time domestic work did not get credit in the SSA for retirement purposes and women had to fight for it?
    Define your terms. A friend of my mother’s used to run a daycare. Social Security gave her credit for caring for the kids she got paid to take care of and not for caring for her own kids. And she’d still be running a daycare except she moved, and where she lives now, the county thinks it’s perfectly safe for her own kids but not for other people’s. The double standard here is…bizarre.

  • Dornier Pfeil

    @StuJay-
    The Tea Partiers are nothing like a majority, and they consistently act badly enough that a shrewd PR team could use them as a powerful recruiting tool for the other side.
    The far right has had a disproportionate influence on government because of noise rather than numbers for far too long now. I think they need to be put in sharp perspective.- Kit
    I like your plan, Kit. (OTOH I like anything that might result in a huge sink hole swallowing up the Tea Baggers) Where do we get this PR firm? Democrats don’t seem to have the *stones* for this kind of thing anymore.
    We need to aim this PR team at Tom Corbett, too! (the guy makes me want to go wash my hands after merely typing his name). Where do all these slimy people come from? Is there a factory in China somewhere?
    Hmm, You know I bet it is part of China’s master plan to dominate the world – cripple the US with “leaders” who refuse to see Reality and thereby lead Americans over a cliff. And since we have all seen the Manchurian Candidate no one will believe me! I feel like Kevin McCarthy at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. (Only the original B&W version ever scared me. )
    We need that PR team STAT.

    E.J. Dionne Jr. gives the TEA party what for. :)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Pius Thicknesse

    Someday I will give you a drive on I-40. It is a wonderfully well kept road. At least the section I frequent. I would have to borrow my sister’s Mustang since I don’t own a car. Unfortunately, it is also boring. State and US highways that predate the interstate system are always more interesting. If you try California, go up the BigSur and Napa highways.

    Been there done some of that. :P
    I’ll say, the cheeziest and most slapdash repaving job I ever did see was driving south from Flagstaff from Phoenix back in 1995 with the parents. AZ uses Bott’s Dots like California does (though I noticed New Mexico generally does not) and what the cheapos did was repave the lanes and leave the center strip of Bott’s Dots untouched.
    As for your commentary on my commentary about starvation -
    When anyone, anywhere, starts making self-righteous statements about how their “productivity” shouldn’t be used for someone else who doesn’t seemingly deserve it, I get testy.
    I’ve been particularly influenced by the writings of Edward Bellamy. One of the cornerstones of his writings is that every human being, simply by virtue of being one, deserves some fundamental basic consideration due them by that fact.
    Repugs (to steal your term) who don’t think like this — well, I can only say that they live very sad existences if they think worth as a human being depends on how much money or wealth one can command.

  • LE

    I love Henry George! :) But no, Alex Hamilton has the idea I take to.

    Huh. Until you brought him up I actually knew one, and only one, thing about Henry George, and that’s that my Great-Great Grandfather’s sister had a small cottage industry translating his books into Swedish. Now I’m going to actually have to go and read them, dammit!
    I’ll have to think on the tax thing and maybe read some Hamilton, because I still don’t see how it would work. I understand how you arrive at the rate, but not what exactly you are levying it on. At what point in a commercial transaction would you levy your tax? I’m having a hard time seeing how it doesn’t become a tax on profits (and if it is, good luck getting that one past the free marketeers) or a sales tax, and how it avoids encouraging the creation of a massive black market.
    BTW it probably wasn’t fair to bring up the domestic work thing. It’s a giant problem for our current system as well, except at least with the income tax, someone who forgoes income in order to engage in domestic work pays a lower tax. It’s just a personal interest of mine and I wondered how it fit in your economic view.

  • http://city-of-ladies.blogspot.com Rebecca

    @Dornier Pfeil, briefly:
    Graduated income tax as the only way was probably an exaggeration, but in my defense, the flat tax gets proposed a lot more. The thing with the flat tax is that, while it sounds fair to people who are a) rich and b) really unaware of things, it just doesn’t shake out that way because 25% (random number) of Bill Gates’s income or purchases still allows him to live with every luxury and 25% of someone else’s income or purchases means they have to choose between food and a roof over their head. Making it a lower number to help poorer people leaves the government without enough money, and making it a higher number to get more money from the rich screws the poor badly.
    With free market v. citizenry I’m referring to yours and Paul’s attempts to defend discrimination (as well as, perhaps, your comments about your “productivity” being “stolen” [was that it?] to help other people not live like animals).

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Pius, in response to Dornier: Repugs (to steal your term)…
    Dornier: And yes, I still call them Repugs and I like doing it.
    You can like it all you want, but you should understand – and expect – that this little tic of yours erects needless barriers against others reading your posts as being the output of a mature, thoughtful adult.
    Me, I’ve kind of stopped taking your posts seriously pages ago, because of your tendency to indulge in rhetoric of a playground-level maturity. I hit your “Repugs” and it’s like a particularly nasty speed-bump at 35 mph – My brain goes, “WTF? This person thinks insults are the height of debate cleverness? What age are we, five?” And then, most of the time, I don’t bother to read the rest of your post, because I’m not here to listen to 5-year-olds trade playground taunts.
    I don’t have to like the Republicans or identify as one to have this reaction. It would be no different if it were a Republican (or an exasperated Democrat) insulting “Dummycrats,” or a liberal insulting “Libertoss-offs,” or Rush Limbaugh inveighing against “Feminazis.” Doesn’t matter who it is or whose side they’re on: Name-calling brings the tone of the discourse way down. Down to the level of “Your mama!” and “I know you are but what am I?”
    It doesn’t help that this insult rhetoric is attached to someone who thinks that “I believe we shouldn’t let people STARVE” is “vilifyingly sarcastic” and not, perhaps, the natural reaction of a moral, feeling heart to your overweening concern that, sure, people are starving, but that doesn’t give them a right to a share of that piece of the pie that I Earned All By Myself With No Help From Luck Or Family Or Government Or Anything!!!! You may well protest that here’s more to your position than that, but why should you expect me to give your argument the close reading that would reveal its depths if you can’t be bothered to keep to a maturity level higher than that of most grade-school-level children?

  • Will Wildman

    But what if a producer doesn’t want to pay taxes. Ok fine. He gets thrown in jail. Now he is 1)not producing anymore, 2) a drain on resources. How is this any better? This is not a defense of tax cheats, I just think we have a crappy system all around, that is working at cross-purposes to itself.

    He was draining resources before by using public goods/services and not funding them. I’m confused as to what system you’d rather see – it sounds like you’re suggesting that the solution to tax evasion is to not charge taxes at all. This strikes me as something like saying that, if we don’t want to be robbed, we should avoid owning things that other people might want to steal.

  • http://j.com/ Tonio

    E.J. Dionne Jr. gives the TEA party what for. :)

    Dionne doesn’t go far enough. He seems to assume that racism is only a trait of the Obama-as-Joker sign-waving fringe in the Tea Party. From the interviews I’ve read and the personal encounters I’ve had with Tea Partiers, I strongly suspect that the driving force behind the movement is white resentment. In those interviews and encounters, the people start out by complaining about different aspects of government, but the end up at the same destination – aid for the “welfare class” at the literal and figurative expense of “good, hard-working people.” Polls show that Tea Partiers are not only white, but that they tend to be wealthier on average than the population as a whole, and the majority of them think that government favors blacks over whites.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Pius Thicknesse

    @Tonio:
    That sort of stuff always makes me sigh in frustration. How can people like that be so constantly resentful and spiteful towards others?
    Sure, they label blacks that way too but the blacks who they label probably have more reason to be resentful than these coddled white people do.
    I’m reminded of the “opposition” to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, which is predominantly lighter-skinned, and composed of people who tell the most ridiculous stories about how he’s going to kill them all, or something.
    This, by the way, is the same guy that let several high-level conspirators against him skedaddle off to Colombia in 2003.
    There’s color-racism at work there, too, because Chavez is darker-skinned and they have, in fact, mocked it before.

  • StuJay

    @Dornier RE: Tax evaders.
    What Will Said.
    And seconding Rebecca re: taxes. Especially the Flat Tax = a very unfair idea.
    @ Tonio RE: EJ Dionne
    I agree with your points here: that he lets the Tea Party off way to easy. Except that I am willing to give him a pass here, as I think he wanted to laser in on the racism issue (which he did perfectly). And he will have plenty more rapier cuts for the Tea Party in the future I am sure.
    How can people like that be so constantly resentful and spiteful towards others?-Pius Thicknesse
    It takes a lot of work but for them it is worth it because if the stop then their brains start working and they will realize what a load of crap they have gotten themselves into. It is too painful to think they chose to do so, so the alternative is this narrative that they were somehow ‘forced’ by the evil socialists (or whatever) who “stole their country from them”.

  • Francis D

    @Kit,
    You claimed (many pages ago) that there were strictly different legal rights between marriage and civil unions in Britain. Could you give me one example please?
    This is a non-trivial question. As I understand it the law legalising civil unions says that the two convey identical rights and responsibilities now and in forthcoming resolution, and then goes on to amend every single law mentioning the word marriage. At that point “Civil Unions” come under the heading of allowing a defeated enemy to carry off their pride even after having lost every single substantive point – a fair tactical maneuver. If there is genuinely a difference in rights and responsibilities invoked by the two then it truly is “separate but equal” rather than different dialects and there is still significant work to be done.

  • Will Wildman

    At that point “Civil Unions” come under the heading of allowing a defeated enemy to carry off their pride even after having lost every single substantive point – a fair tactical maneuver.

    Unless you subscribe to the notion that the legal right to call yourself ‘married’ and not ‘civilly united’ is a substantive point, as I do. Further, when the opposition’s side is rooted firmly in bigotry, I can’t imagine why letting them have their ‘pride’ is a good thing. That pride is the force that motivates them to keep on pushing for more injustice. I’m not in favour of letting people take pride in their prejudice.

    If there is genuinely a difference in rights and responsibilities invoked by the two then it truly is “separate but equal” rather than different dialects and there is still significant work to be done.

    No, that would be ‘separate and unequal’. The whole point behind the ‘separate but equal’ concept is that it Others, it reinforces barriers and gives bigots a starting point from which to keep pushing and rallying, while still being Fair On Paper and therefore easier to defend for those who want to escape accusations of bigotry on a technicality. It screams ‘Really, we promise, you’re just as good as us… but you will never be us.’

  • http://city-of-ladies.blogspot.com Rebecca

    FWIW it would seem that a top Lib Dem has said that the coalition will pass marriage equality before the next election. Let’s hope that happens.

  • Spearmint

    God, this thread really is inescapable.
    Now he is 1)not producing anymore, 2) a drain on resources.
    There’s always forced labor! *cracks whip* You can make him contribute to the economy and teach him all about the joys of contributing to our nation’s infrastructure! /sarcasm
    Re: commerce tax-
    I love Alexander Hamilton like a pet, but this amounts to either a giant sales tax or a giant tariff. Either of those things couldn’t help but be regressive. I’m not entirely against the latter, since it would bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States and cut our carbon footprint, and what’s regressive domestically may be progressive internationally. But it’s important to note who’s going to pay the price in terms of standard of living costs if we start taxing foreign trade- it’s the poor who won’t be able to afford coffee or cell phones, not the rich.

  • Francis D

    Unless you subscribe to the notion that the legal right to call yourself ‘married’ and not ‘civilly united’ is a substantive point, as I do.
    You can call yourself a teapot for all I care. And you can legally have every single benefit of being married.
    No, that would be ‘separate and unequal’. The whole point behind the ‘separate but equal’ concept is that it Others, it reinforces barriers and gives bigots a starting point from which to keep pushing and rallying, while still being Fair On Paper and therefore easier to defend for those who want to escape accusations of bigotry on a technicality.
    And by the very nature of being separate legally you can slip in the discrimination. If I understand the logic on the act, the only thing different is what you tick on very rare official forms (and at that point it becomes “The difference is married people do it like this, and civilly partnered people do it like that” – with no more difference allowed to be inflicted by law). It’s just a different pointer to the same set of legal subroutines.
    And is doomed to not remain separate pointers – I’ve faith in the courts and the ECHR to just do the last bit of polishing. (First to fall, if it hasn’t already, will be straight couples having Civil Unions, and at that point it’s inevitable.)

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