Mark Thoma: “The Purpose of Macroeconomic Policy?“
There clearly is a class of people willing to sacrifice the livelihood and well-being of others in pursuit of their ideological goal of a smaller government (so long as their own future remains secure). The notion of “expansionary austerity” was the cover, but so long as government shrinks as a result of the policy, the expansionary part is secondary. If reducing the size of government slows the recovery, that’s a small price to pay for such a worthy goal — for them anyway, the power behind this is in no danger of becoming unemployed. The main thing is to impose the small-government ideology whenever there is a chance, and to use whatever argument is needed to serve that purpose, austerity is expansionary, tax cuts pay for themselves — whatever works — the ideologues will even embrace Keynesian economics if it allows them to argue for tax cuts that might further “starve the beast” (e.g., see Bush’s argument for the first round of his tax cuts). But in the end the goal is a simple one, reduce the size and influence of government, and everything else is just a means of getting there.
Dave Johnson: “Democracy v. Plutocracy, Unions v. Servitude“
Unions are about building up the power of groups of people, to confront and overcome the advantages of wealth and the power wealth brings to a few. When a union is strong enough to be able to confront the power of big corporations the result is that the 99% get a share of the pie. When unions are strong we all get better wages and better working conditions and a say in how we are treated, whether we are in unions or not. The benefits flow to the rest of the economy.
It would be nice if our system worked well enough that we didn’t need to organize unions on top of the structure of laws and regulations, but it is just the fact of life that the wealthy and powerful and their corporations have throughout our history been able to exert tremendous influence over legislative bodies, again and again. So to fight that working people organize and build these organized unions of people, and leverage that power of the group to demand wages and benefits and weekends and a share of the prosperity. The story of the power confrontation between unions of working people (99%) and the large corporations (1%) is the story of how we built a middle class that brought us the prosperity we enjoyed.
It is not just a coincidence that the weakening of the unions coincides with the decline of the middle class. It is not just a coincidence that the current rise of the plutocrats brings in a swarm of anti-union legislation. It is not just a coincidence that the times when our democracy is strongest we all do so much better.
Yesterday I heard a radio report that students who are most likely to be bullied are gay kids, overweight kids, and Muslim kids.
I would venture to guess that at this point in American history, gay adults, overweight adults, and Muslim adults feel the most bullied as well.
Children are not cruel. Children are mirrors. They want to be “grown-up.” So they act how grown-ups act when we think they’re not looking. They do not act how we tell them to act at school assemblies. They act how we really act. They believe what we believe. They say what we say. And we have taught them that gay people are not okay. That overweight people are not okay. That Muslim people are not okay. That they are not equal. That they are to be feared. And people hurt the things they fear. We know that. What they are doing in the schools, what we are doing in the media – it’s all the same. The only difference is that children bully in the hallways and the cafeterias while we bully from behind pulpits and legislative benches and one liners on sit-coms.
And people are sensitive. People are heart-breakingly sensitive. If enough people tell someone over and over that he is not okay, he will believe it. And one way or another, he will die.
David Dark, in The Sacredness of Questioning Everything
Pervert is a verb, and we do it all the time. To pervert is to degrade, to cut down to size — and we do it to people in our minds. We devalue them. We reduce them to the limitations of our appetites, of our sense of what might prove useful to us, of our sense of what strikes us as appropriate. … We often only file them away — these living and breathing human beings — into separate files of crazy-making issues-talk. When we think of a person primarily as a problem, a potential buyer, a VIP, a celebrity, or an undocumented worker, we’re reducing them to the tiny sphere of our stunted attention span. This is how perversion works. Perversion is a failure of the imagination, a failure to pay adequate attention.
While perversion appears to be the modus operandi of governments and the transnational corporations they serve — and the language both speak in their broadcasts — the reductionism implicit in perversion doesn’t ultimately work. It doesn’t do justice to the fullness of what we are. We, the people, are always more than our use value. Like the God in whose image people are made, people are irreducible. There’s always more to a person — more stories, more life, more complexities — than we know. The human person, when viewed properly, is unfathomable, incalculable, and dear. Perversion always says otherwise. Perversion is a way of managing, getting down to business, getting a handle on people as if they were things. A person reduced to a thing has been, in the mind of the perverter, dispensed with, taken care of, filed away. Perversion is pigeonholing.
Amanda Marcotte: “Why Evangelicals Don’t Care When Rich White Conservatives Defile Marriage“
[Newt] Gingrich doesn’t live by the strict sexual rules laid out by conservatives, because those rules are meant for other people. Sex is a weapon being used against all those classes of Americans they don’t like: non-white people, gays, non-Christians, liberals, Democrats, people who have to work for a living, poor people, Democratic politicians. …
In the Republican worldview, sex is a luxury item to be reserved for the privileged, and everyone else who indulges deserves whatever horrible fate befalls them. In the world imagined by Gingrich and his fan base, rich people get to say they’re sorry and run for public office if they have sex out of wedlock; poor people should see their health decline because they have an STD but can’t afford to see a doctor to treat it. The wealthy can afford contraception and have all the sex they want, but if Republicans succeed in cutting off family planning subsidies, poor people will go without. If abortion is banned, wealthy women will be able to travel to get abortions or depend on discreet doctors, but the poor will simply be forced to have babies.