Charlie Pierce: “Austerity: The Beatings Will Continue …“
Austerity has murdered any hope of recovery in the UK. It seems to have done the same thing in Italy. And, in Greece, the citizens of democracy’s birthplace seem to be taking offense at the notion that their first obligation is to punish themselves to make a lot of international bankers whole again, and to cement Angela Merkel’s place in European history, which will be further propped up in Germany by an economy that depends on strong labor unions, a thriving government safety net, and the world’s oldest universal health-care system, to which Germans are entitled, but to which Brits, Italians, Greeks and, if you believe David Gregory, Americans, are not.
Make no mistake about it. “Austerity” is a theological construct. It is about punishing the alleged sins of sloth and gluttony. It is about purging through pain. It is about enshrining into law every misbegotten slander about the poor and struggling that’s been floating around the political dialogue for generations. And it doesn’t work.
Bill McKibben: “The Great Carbon Bubble: Why the Fossil Fuel Industry Fights So Hard“
Why doesn’t it fold the way the tobacco industry eventually did? Why doesn’t it invest its riches in things like solar panels and so profit handsomely from the next generation of energy? As it happens, the answer is more interesting than you might think.
Part of it’s simple enough: the giant energy companies are making so much money right now that they can’t stop gorging themselves. ExxonMobil, year after year, pulls in more money than any company in history. Chevron’s not far behind. Everyone in the business is swimming in money.
Still, they could theoretically invest all that cash in new clean technology or research and development for the same. As it happens, though, they’ve got a deeper problem, one that’s become clear only in the last few years. Put briefly: their value is largely based on fossil-fuel reserves that won’t be burned if we ever take global warming seriously.
Sarah Moon: “Women matter“
It’s not even a whisper but a yell. “You don’t matter. Not when it comes to politics. Not when it comes to religion. Not even when it comes to your own health. You don’t matter.”
The world is telling us this every day, women. In the way it represents us, in the way it treats us, and in the way it speaks to us. The world is saying, “You don’t matter.”
… We see political policies that directly affect us women being discussed by men, and men only. We see religious decisions that directly affect the women of the church being made by men. And often, we don’t blink an eye because we’ve been told so often that we don’t matter, that we almost accept that it’s a man’s world.
Because the world is telling us we don’t matter.
It’s telling us everywhere we turn.
It’s yelling at us from cars as we walk down the streets. It’s hitting us over the head with these messages in movies and commercials and sitcoms. It’s preaching it at us from the pulpits and political campaigns.
But we don’t have to listen.
Here’s the thing that is instinctively obvious to any normal person: the women are being forced to undergo a physically invasive procedure they do not want and which has no medical purpose by state actors for political reasons. It’s like something out of the inquisition. No, these women are not virgins, but the last I heard the definition of rape didn’t require virginity. It’s about the state not being allowed to stick something inside your body in order to persuade you not to do something you have every legal right to do.
The argument about abortion is all about women’s right to make their own decisions about their own bodies. If you want to prove that this is about someone else making decisions about women’s bodies, there can be no better way to do that than insisting that pregnant women seeking abortions first have an instrument shoved inside them against their will. These disgusting little sadists are pretending there’s nothing wrong with that — but the pleasure they are clearly taking in the prospect is what gives them away. They know it’s coercive. That’s the whole point.
Erik Loomis: “Anthony Comstock: American Prude“
Has there ever been a more loathsome American than Anthony Comstock? The self-appointed regulator of American morality, Comstock acquired great power during the late 19th and early 20th centuries through taking advantage of the anxieties of the upper classes to pass anti-obscenity legislation and prosecute those he thought were smut-peddlers. Loathed even in his own time, but with powerful protectors, Comstock represents the worst of puritanical America. His pernicious influence still lives with us today. …
… Comstock frequently referred to himself in typical modest fashion as “the weeder in God’s garden.” In 1873, Comstock continued his national career of prudity by creating the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. Through his powerful congressional benefactors, Comstock pushed through Congress in 1874 the notorious Comstock Law, which made illegal sending “obscene, lewd, and lascivious” material through the U.S. mail. Examples of such material included information on birth control and biology textbooks that showed accurate representations of the human body. Comstock believed the birth control devices caused lust to rise in the human body and lewd behavior to follow. It was primarily to stop birth control from being propagated that Comstock fought for the law that bears his name. Soon after, 24 states enacted similar laws to prevent the dissemination of birth control on the state level. The worst of these laws was in Comstock’s home state of Connecticut, where even the use of birth control was a violation of the law. Married couples could be prosecuted for using birth control in the privacy of their own homes and sentenced to a year in prison.