Friday, November 30, 2012

Taking on the Household Analogy,
or,
some help making a common conservative argument for not increasing taxes on the rich look a bit more stupid

Okay, so, you know that "model" of America's budget woes that Republicans like to use? The one that goes on about how America is like a house that's gone over budget and is now in debt and has to cut spending in order to pay its debts? Yeah, it's not a perfect metaphor. In fact, it's a perfectly awful metaphor. Here's a better one:

An extended family is living in a big house. The adults all work, contributing a share of their income to the maintenance and expenses of the household. For some reason, say, an infestation of rodents requiring a major extermination maybe, combined with some major repairs, the household is way out of its budget. Now, logically, the thing to do would be for everyone to buckle down a bit, maybe eat some store brand foods and such for a while, and pay in a bit larger share of their money into the expenses. But this time, the biggest earner (Dad?) refuses to up his contribution, complaining that everyone needs to pay more because he already pays more than everyone else does, paying more will hurt his business prospects, blah blah blah. Everyone else, well aware of how they already brown bag their lunches while dad goes out to eat every day, find this a bit unfair. After all, they're all members of the same family, arent they?

Let's take this farther: In any large family, there are members who contribute nothing to the whole. We generally think of them as children. If you have kids, you know that they are messy and expensive and getting any kind of contribution out of them is sometimes almost as much effort as doing the work yourself. Do you toss them onto the street to fend for themselves? No, you feed them, cloth them and try to teach them what they need to be productive adults. As evidenced by the twenty-something still sleeping on the couch, some of them are slow learners, but they're family, so you keep doing at least a little something in the hopes that they one day will grow all the way up.

Or how about the grandparent living in this large household? They (probably) worked all their lives, giving you what they could to make sure that you become a productive adult. So now that they no longer contribute much to the household budget, do you boot them out? "Sorry Grandma, if you cant put more into the kitty, we're going to have to put you out on the ice. I mean, we'd love to do what we could to keep you comfortable, but we've got important stuff to do with our money, so you're out of luck". Yeah, thanks for raising us, now fuck off.

What about immigrants, especially the dreaded illegal ones? How about we consider them to be an adopted kid? Do we love them any less than our own flesh and blood? Honestly? Yeah, probably. But as (supposedly) decent human beings, we still take care of them, provide at least the essentials, until, again, they grow up to be adults, productive members of the family. If you think about it, and hard thought isnt required, I'm pretty sure you can come up with some fairly successful adoptees in American history. If you cannot, try thinking harder, or perhaps consider their children*. As for all the ballyhoo about Illegals, they represent about a fourth of America's immigrant population, and I'd be willing to bet that while we've gotten better at tracking and detecting them, that the percentage of those entering the country through legitimate channels and those not hasnt actually changed in the whole 200+ years of our history.

So that's my thought. Feel free to use this when arguing with Republicans who dont think that the wealthy ought to be asked to pay more to maintain the country. The arguments against that are well-honed, but no less dumb for that. If Liberals had as much money to burn as conservatives did, no doubt they'd have some carefully crafted and polished arguments as well, but I'm afraid we'll have to rely on crowd-sourcing instead.


Interesting tidbit regarding the above photo. It is, naturally, from Google Images. After the first page, all the rest of the extended families were, well, browner. How's that for a metaphor?




* odds are pretty good that you are one of them.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

sleeping in


Plus, I hate crowds and standing in line, and I have a deep suspicion of things that are only a bargain for an extremely limited time.

Monday, November 26, 2012

quote for the day

"I didn’t learn until I was in college about all the other cultures, and I should have learned that in the first grade. A first grader should understand that his or her culture isn’t a rational invention; that there are thousands of other cultures and they all work pretty well; that all cultures function on faith rather than truth; that there are lots of alternatives to our own society. Cultural relativism is defensible and attractive. It’s also a source of hope. It means we don’t have to continue this way if we don’t like it."

Kurt Vonnegut

via Gerry Canavan, the source of much goodness.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

saturday matinee



Man, I love thrift stores. But seriously, if you go to a thrift store, dont be throwing stuff all over the place, 'cause that's just plain rude.

Friday, November 23, 2012

black friday funny


No, they shouldnt.

There's more, of course, if you click on the image.

Monday, November 19, 2012

quote for the day

"They do that by a process known as the Delphi technique. The Delphi technique was developed by the Rand Corporation during the Cold War as a mind-control technique. It's also known as "consensive process." But basically the goal of the Delphi technique is to lead a targeted group of people to a pre-determined outcome while keeping the illusion of being open to public input."

Field Searcy, speaking at a briefing delivered to Republican state senators at the Georgia state Capitol last month.

Maybe I'm wrong, but in what way is this different from how the GOP does business? I mean, a group for whom "compromise" seems to be defined as "do it our way or we wont play" and who claims to respond to the "will" of the people but only seems to listen to lobbyists and other un-elected bigwigs doesnt strike me as having a lot to say about "pre-determined" outcomes.

Which is irrelevant anyway, because all this really is is a justification for further Republican intransigence.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

quote for the day

"No matter who wins the presidential race, no matter which party controls Congress, can we at least agree as reasonable adults that when it comes to voting itself the election of 2012 is a national disgrace? We ask our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives, to give their lives abroad for noble concepts like "freedom" and "democracy." And yet we are content as a nation, and as a people, to tolerate another cycle of election rules that require our fellow citizens to sacrifice a measure of basic human dignity simply to exercise their right to vote.
...
This is happening not because of a natural disaster or breakdown in machinery. It is happening by partisan design. Alarmed by the strong Democratic turnout in early voting in 2008, Republican lawmakers, including Governor Rick Scott, reduced the number of early voting days from 14 to eight. When the restrictions were challenged in federal court under the Voting Rights Act, a three-judge panel said they would have a discriminatory impact upon minority voters. But only five of the state's 67 counties are covered by the federal civil rights law."
Andrew Cohen, No One in America Should Have to Wait 7 Hours to Vote


via

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The evolution of Conservatism


I'm debating whether to assault Facebook with this or not.

via

Friday, November 09, 2012

follow-up quote for the day

"If American churches had pooled their money and decided to use it exclusively to help the poor and downtrodden, the government would never have had to get involved.

The joke is, Jesus ordered his followers to do just this. It’s a basic tenant at the core of Biblical Christianity.

But building grand churches and administrative structures to impress a god who directly told us he is not impressed by either was deemed more important than spreading his universal love of all humankind throughout the world.

We had a choice: willingly tithe 10% of our income and use it to fix the world, or abandon that and be forced to pay upwards of 30% of our income so the government can use a fraction of it to fix the world (and give the rest of it away to people they really like). We chose the second option.

There is of course a third alternative: clutch all your wealth to your chest and let the poor die of starvation and disease. But since even non-human apes are socially advanced enough to avoid that, it really shouldn’t be an option."


The Virgin Prince.

I think I like this person.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

quote for the day

"I can’t think of anything more conceited than prayer.

"I mean, let me say in the first place that there is no spiritual world, so it’s a waste of time to begin with.

But let’s assume for a second that God is real. You really think he’s going to personally intervene in your situation and radically, miraculously alter the laws of physics and time just to give you something you want? Who the fuck do you think you are?! Even if he says he loves you, so what? Jesus was tortured to death. Babies die of starvation in Africa and Asia all the time. Politicians get cancer. Planes crash. 30,000 get wiped out in a half-hour because the sea floor farts, creating a tsunami.

But sure, yeah, the guy who lets this happen is going to magically fix your stupid kid’s diabetes because you took 30 seconds to bug him about it. That’s why he created the universe and killed himself. Because you and your stupid problems are so terribly important to the guy who supposedly invented black holes.

See, even if God is real, your faith is irrational and small-minded."


The Virgin Prince (via)

I dont consider myself to be an atheist. I suspect that there is a form of higher intelligent organization. Whether it's some sort of meta-mind, or an actual bearded dude in a robe, I dont know. But I'm reasonably sure that whatever God may be, God is not the petty, spiteful, mean-spirited egoist that the most vocal of Christians in America (and elsewhere) make him out to be.

Let's include Muslims and Jews in that column also.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

quote for the post election hangover

"Make sure you vote this year, because OMG it fucking matters.

For all of you still pretending our system is some kind of quaint democracy, here’s what we’re actually doing: two groups of super-rich people let you chose which one of two slightly-less-rich people gets to be military supervisor and de-facto political party leader for the next four years. And a “political party leader’s” job is 100% to determine which groups of super-rich people get taxpayer money given to them over that period of time.

Don’t worry about the military supervisor part - either guy will basically just let the military do what its been doing consistently for the last 50 years, which is making sure stupid poor foreigners don’t fuck with the super-rich people and their stuff.

And they only let us choose the glorious leader at this point because it gives us a sense that we matter. Which keeps us from rioting and attacking the super-rich people every time things go bad for us. Which they always will, because the only reason they don’t consistently is because sometimes the stuff the super-rich want accidentally happens to benefit the rest of us. That’s what makes our system better than what the Chinese do - our system is loose enough that there’s still some overlap between the rich and wannabe-rich. And that’s what you need to keep the wannabe’s happy.

That said, as the slice of the wealth pie controlled by the super-rich continues to grow at the expense of our slice of it, it’s going to be harder and harder for our collective wants and needs to line up. The top 20% currently control 85% of the nation’s wealth, and it’s increasing every year. When the Recession happened, it hit us, and was barely a blip to them (if they didn’t directly profit from it - many did). How much less will they care about economic crises when they control 90% of the wealth, 95%, 98%?

I’m not a Communist. I believe in free enterprise on a rational scale. But that’s not what we do in America anymore. Yes, you can run a small business, but how many of those exist only in service to enormous corporations? Look at our structure. There is no capitalism in a vacuum. We’re a republic controlled by a class of billionaire aristocrats who control the economy by the sheer size and power of their companies, which control elected lawmakers through lobbying. We are an unofficial, backroom plutocracy.

I oppose big-C Communism largely because it always turns into 10% of the population controlling 100% of the wealth and telling everyone else what they have to do to earn temporary access to tiny portions of it. We’re moving there. That’s why both parties dictate social ethics - they only represent minority viewpoints, but those viewpoints are supported by the aristocratic class, so they are more important than what the rest of us want. From there, it’s up to the billionaires to propagandize us into caring about their views on abortion, gay marriage, government debt, public healthcare, etc. They dictate, they get us on board, and then they pass what they wanted all along and act like it was our idea. And we feel like we matter.

So go vote. Feel important. It’s just like wearing makeup or getting plastic surgery, or buying overpriced junk you don’t need, or yelling out to nothing in church - you feel temporarily important on the basis of delusional romantic fantasy, and forget how fucked-over you are for another few hours. That’s the American Dream, after all. That’s why people come here. Because at least here, we have a good enough infrastructure that you can be comfortable while you delude yourself.

Enjoy it while you can. This expensive carousel will only spin so long, before the rich owners decide to pack it up and move the fair to another town."

The Virgin Prince

Okay, that's a bit over the top. I dont think it's as bad as all that. Not really. Hopefully.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

quote for the election

"You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I've found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don't believe that the earth's but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That's what the Bible says."

Congressman Paul Broun (R-Ga.), chairman of Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight which has general and special investigative authority on all matters within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

This is America under the Republican Party, folks. Think on that today if you havent yet voted.

Unless you intend to pull the "R" level. In which case, why dont you just go get so drunk you cant think straight, and then go around hitting poor people, children and anyone else who isnt exactly like you with a stick, which is pretty much just like being a Republican, but more localized*.

Addendum:

Did you know that Paul Broun was running unopposed? How does that even happen for an office at the national level?



* i.e., wont take down the rest of the country while you're doing it.

Monday, November 05, 2012

quote for the day before the election

"Obama’s best line came when he told Romney, “You seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.” That wasn’t just a good zinger, it’s a great summary of what’s at stake in this election. I hope voters ignore the supposedly savvy horse race coverage of this crucial debate, and pay attention to Romney’s lack of core convictions on foreign policy or anything else."

The man without a soul - Salon.com

via

Thursday, November 01, 2012

quote for the day

"Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we’d pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we’re only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we’re considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity – that that’s a pretty narrow vision."

President Obama, in an interview with Rolling Stone, when asked about Paul Ryan’s “obsession” with Rand.

via