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Archive for August 2008

Sarah Palin Vice Presidential Candidate: The Strangest Choice Made Perfect Sense

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The big news right now on the television and all over the internet is the announcement that John McCain will name Sarah Palin his running mate. The selection of the Alaskan governor (governess?) came as a big surprise, but it shouldn’t. Despite the criticism she will receive, she was the perfect choice and an example of the expert strategy employed by the Republican Party.The huge intellectually dishonest mismatch of rhetoric and policy in the McCain campaign’s choosing of an relatively young candidate with little political experience while their strongest rhetorical weapon against Obama has been to claim that he lacks the experience necessary to lead the nation was too obvious to go unnoticed. It’s definitely going to make it more difficult to make this accusation stick, but it’s a calculated risk that shrewd Republican strategists have decided does not outweigh the benefits of making this choice.

This decision is a classic example of strategic politicking in the Republican style. This is something they’re very good at, and they stick with what works. It’s all a matter of numbers. This is the same method they used to retain administrative power for eight years and what seats they retain in Congress. In the last Congressional election, they did lose seats and control, but considering how much damage they’ve done to the people of the nation and the world, and how much good this has done for their own wealthy class at our expense, their well-oiled political machine is responsible for any support they retain and any elections they win, and this election should not be taken for granted.

Americans have a tendency to want to take the moral high ground. This is why we like to hear candidates denounce negative campaigning, when in fact, if we really only have two choices, many of the reasons to choose one party are defined by alternatives. Most Americans like to think of themselves as being “in the middle” in politics, and say they are not in favor of either party, that they are not part of political conflict, and that they would vote for their favorite candidate regardless of what party they were in. This is not because we are unable to choose, or do not want to take sides or judge. This is because we want to feel like we are above the conflict, above politics, transcendent, but we are not and should not be. Democracy is too important to be seen on such narrow terms, and when our democracy has been so neglected that it has been taken over by self-interested groups attempting to separate the nation into rich and poor and stay on the rich side, the time comes to take a stand.

This is why middle-of-the-road politics are so unsuccessful, because on one level we want to be above conflict, and on the other we want to do what’s right. A good political strategy speaks to people on the level which convinces them to go out and vote for them. The Democrats have had little success with the middle of the road, and hopefully Barack Obama, while still a bit too conventional for my tastes, will make our country start to lean the other way.

In the last election, while George W. Bush was going around trying to make himself seem like a strong leader, the Republican Party was conducting covert campaigns through local church leaders in crucial districts, attempting to get out the Christian vote. This was an important strategy which received very little media coverage. They also made sure that the most extreme far-right voters would feel an urgent need to get out and vote, and I guarantee you that they did. In a split electorate, if you only half-convince the large groups of people, like the middle-ground voters, some of them will vote for you, and some of them will vote for the other guy, but a lot of them will just stay home. But if you convince a small group of extreme voters to vote for you, you will receive their full support.

Palin was practically engineered to get into all the little knooks and crannies of the voting populace where McCain might not reach. She will speak to the conservative voters, the ones who might have been less than enthusiastic about this election if they remember the harsh criticism of McCain coming from Rush Limbaugh and Anne Coulter during the primaries, where they claimed they would vote Democrat if McCain won. This idea has vanished into thin air, of course. Palin’s role is not so much to balance the ticket, but to weigh it as a final selling point for these voters to show their numbers.

Palin’s main job is to encourage and exploit a split in the Democratic Party among women voters. The idea is, if all you wanted was a woman candidate, here she is. Her first action as vice presidential candidate was to make a speech mentioning Hillary Clinton loud and clear, and saying she was going to finish her unfinished work in shattering the glass ceiling completely. Strong words when you consider the fact that, while Clinton was presumably a frontrunner in the primaries not because she is a woman but because of her extensive proximity to the world of politics and her own important political career, Palin was specifically chosen for her job because she is a woman, in order to exploit women voters. I hope the “feminist vote” will realize how ridiculous it would be to vote for McCain because of her.

Lastly, she is the Alaskan governor. This is going to be an important factor in the election. One of the major differences between McCain and Obama’s campaigns, and something that McCain will be doing his best to exploit, is the difference in approach to the foreign oil dependency problem. McCain promotes unlimited drilling and Obama promotes alternative fuel. The answer here is obvious to me, I’ve always been a proponent of a radical conversion to alternative fuel sources in a 10-year time period, but for people who don’t take environmental issues into account or think global warming is a lie, and who also seem to think that oil is and forever will be abundant in our generous land, when oil becomes such an important economic and national security issue, we can’t just sit on the oil we’ve got. While she has no lack of oppositors in Alaska, her place on the ticket is a huge promotion of drilling policy and almost like permission from Alaska to be drilled.

A lot of talk is being made right now that this is going to be a tough sell for McCain. My prediction is that this will not be the case among Republicans. They will accept her with open arms. The idea that her lack of experience will expose the McCain campaign’s hypocrisy is a moot point, because those who may currently support McCain that no longer would because of this are far fewer than those conservatives who will be enthused about this candidate, and who are famous for their blindness to hypocrisy among their leaders.

Palin is obviously not qualified to be president, less so than McCain, and even Larry King is now talking about how old McCain is and how he may die in office. That’s like the Grim Reaper himself telling you not to make plans for the next eight years. It is important that the vice president be qualified for president in the event of the president’s death, but this is not as likely as it suddenly seems to be. McCain has had skin cancer in the past, but he’s also going to be checked daily for skin anomalies. I’ve done some research on skin cancer for the content articles bad economic times have forced me to write, and if, unlike millions of Americans, you have the economic power or health coverage to see a doctor whenever you want, you can have an infinite number of individual skin cancers removed in their earliest stages and never get sick.

McCain is also receiving some criticism because he is not personally familiar with the person he chose as his vice presidential candidate. This is not uncommon. The decision is completely strategic, and the actual well-being of the United States and its people is not necessarily an important part of this choice. In the 1972 campaign, George McGovern was not personally familiar with his VP candidate, Thomas Eagleton, who later became his downfall. During the same election in which the Nixon campaign was caught bugging the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel, someone stole Eagleton’s medical records showing that he had received shock treatment and released them to the press. A controversial enough candidate, McGovern lost votes both on the left and in the middle when he was forced to drop Eagleton from the ticket. McGovern told Hunter Thompson in an interview for Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 that he made the final decision because of the fact that he didn’t trust Eagleton with the presidency if he died. It turns out Eagleton may have done more harm to McGovern than he knew; Robert Novak posthumously named him as the source of the Amnesty, Acid, Abortion quote.

McCain, on the other hand, probably won’t see much controversy for his candidate, but the choice was most definitely strategic in nature and intimate knowledge of the candidate is not necessary. It will be part of a strategy to move voters in specific areas, down to the district, in swing states, continuing a long bipartisan tradition of using the electoral college to make the opinion of the majority of the public irrelevant.

The McCain campaign is not going to suffer the publicity they’ve received for making this controversial choice. Now Palin is being questioned, but when the conservatives come out in her support, it will be a positive story for McCain, and an excellent mediatic leadup to the Republican National Convention, where Palin will seal all doubts for conservative voters and they’ll both come out looking golden among their base. It’s excellent strategy, but it’s bad for us as a nation. We need to analyze this decision for what it is, a strategic decision to move conservative voters, to appeal to voters who want a woman candidate, and to reinforce McCain’s energy policy, and take the thunder out of this media storm.

Written by Alex (Capitalocracy)

August 31, 2008 at 10:31 am

The Face of the Nation: U.S. Presidency Is More Than Just For Show

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The role of the United States presidency has changed over time in some interesting ways, and most of these changes have been more a reflection of the changes in the social and political situation in the U.S. and the world than legislation, amendment, or judicial tweaking of the actual structure of government, although these factors have been important. The U.S. presidency has changed from the chief negotiator, both among the states and with foreign powers, to the face and representation of collective American values, policy, and direction. While this position serves its purpose, it is beyond the originally intended role of president and comes with some disadvantages and distractions from the intended function of the office.When the Constitution was written to replace the Articles of Confederation, the structure of the United States was still conceived more as a union of individual states. U.S.A. 2.0 improved the relations between the states, allowing Congress not only to issue a common currency but also to improve interstate communications and relations by building postal infrastructure and roads, regulate interstate and international trade, define weights and measures, and impose common recognition of state-issued legal documents, all necessities made obvious by the breakdown of interstate relations under the Articles. The function of the federal government was closer to the function today of the European Union.

Where the central government has most authority over individual states is in the area of foreign relations. The United States act as one body in questions of defense, foreign policy, and the negotiation of treaties. The states obviously have a say in this, through the representatives and senators they send to Congress, but international policy is mainly, structurally, the work of the Administrative Branch and the president.

The role of the president, while it has expanded greatly, has always been very important. The president is not ultimately the final word in the lawmaking process as a 2/3 majority can override a veto, but a simple majority is only enough to pass a bill into law with the president’s approval. But the president is only meant to approve or deny the passage of legislation, and only federal legislation, which was originally meant to almost exclusively cover the areas concerning interstate relations. The president is only a balance of legislative power, and is specifically forbidden from submitting legislation to Congress for their consideration.

The most important functions of the presidency are the power of appointment and to be the architect of foreign policy and the head diplomat of the nation. The president is the commander of the armed forces, although theoretically unable to wage war without Congressional approval, and while unable to submit legislation concerning internal U.S. policy to Congress, the president is responsible for negotiating treaties with foreign states, and submitting these treaties for Congressional approval.

The individual states decided the manner in which the electors in the Electoral College were chosen, and in the beginning it was generally by state legislature. It would be a long time before all states agreed upon a popular vote determining who would receive the state’s electoral vote, and even in this system, as you probably already realize, this is very different from a direct popular vote. The citizens’ role in choosing the president is basically a state-by-state ballot initiative. But I won’t go into that here.

Today the role of the presidency has changed, possibly because people yearn for a national figure, possibly because news coverage is most pervasive on a national level. People look to the president as a representative of the United States not just in the world and in interstate relations but as the main proponent of policy, the center of public discussion, and the final responsible party for the nation’s strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures. The president is seen as the “moral compass” for the nation even in affairs over which this office technically has little power.

We find ourselves voting values over competence, patriotism over policy, and personal history over political promise. Even I have this tendency; one of the big selling points for me in voting for John Kerry was my idea that having a national symbolic face today, as our nation is bogged down once more in foreign wars, who worked with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War would have been culturally significant.

Even the Democrats constantly talk about McCain’s status of war hero as being just barely not a good enough reason to vote for him. A war hero is great, but a former prisoner of war who served our country with honor deserves an excellent and dignified retirement package, not a symbolic place as head of state.

Rather than a national clerk or a monarch or whatever position inbetween, the presidency today is more like an online social networking thumbs up-thumbs down vote on which of two options presented best represents our perception of our national identity. It’s more reminiscent of the up and coming marketing technique of compiling data on your customer base and putting together an “ideal customer profile”, putting an invented face on who you’re trying to market to.

Today we have split data. About half of our customers, it seems from the demographic data presented to us, fit into the Republican group, and the other half into the Democrat group. Is our “ideal American profile” a wisened old veteran, a former prisoner of war and a hero, who is willing to work across the aisle and yet remains loyal to his base of Christian values voters, and who, while he knows the horrors of war, is not afraid to put up a good fight, or is the “ideal American profile” the young upstart from a diverse background who pulled himself up “by his bootstraps”, the underdog who defeated the primary candidate we all thought would win?

Policy is secondary to this question, and policy is only brought up as it applies to the question of who best represents us, which is unfortunate because we’re not talking about a powerless figurehead but a politician with a very specific job. The presidential candidates mostly talk about internal issues, safe ground when all they can do in the end is pass or veto what Congress puts on their desk.

For internal issues, we should be turning to our own local and state candidates. A national program to improve education would be great, but electing an excellent school board could have the same effect. We have more power to make change on a local level by being active in local politics than we do to make change on a national level by electing a figurehead whose job isn’t policymaking.

The president is the person to turn to in foreign policy, but the discussion on foreign policy is limited to just a couple of very limited news items. We do not have a real discussion on foreign policy which includes in-depth ideas on trade, world poverty, or the covert political action, such as funding military dictatorships and undermining democracies which are not in line with our business efforts, we have taken in foreign nations for decades. The only things we generally tend to discuss are a few “rogue states”, the wars we’ve started, and very occasionally AIDS.

Right up there with foreign policy is the presidential power of appointment. Secretaries and judges can have a profound impact on policy, and there is generally almost no discussion of cabinet or judges during an election, no names are proposed, and Congressional oversight on appointment has been historically lax.

The president is more than just the face of the national identity, the president has an important job to do which has a real effect on the lives of Americans and an important position in the world. We need to focus more on policy and demand that policy questions be answered, rather than wasting our time pursuing candidates with invasive and nationally embarrassing questions concerning their own personal lives. We do need to make sure we’re not hiring a crook (something we’re notoriously bad at) but we don’t need to hire our favorite movie hero for the job either.

Written by Alex (Capitalocracy)

August 29, 2008 at 9:19 pm

How the Vice Presidency Cracked U.S. Democracy

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The history of vice presidential politics has been a setback to the progress of American democracy since the earliest elections under the U.S. Constitution and the subsequent tweaking and evolution of the U.S. government, its relationship with the states, and the democratic republic as a whole.

The vice presidency has been in the news a lot lately. Barack Obama recently named his running mate, Joe Biden. We’re already seeing rumblings in the media of a negative reaction among Hillary Clinton’s supporters, this despite the fact that she has made it clear that she is not interested in the vice presidency. This just shows that not only do people not believe candidates, even the ones they support, but they expect and approve of some withholding of information and a certain level of deceit, as Obama “snubbing” Clinton by not making her his running mate would imply that she was dishonest when she said she wouldn’t consider the possibility. I’m not saying I know whether she would take the position if offered, any serious negotiation is done behind the scenes and no real offer would be made until both parties are in agreement, but the possibly erroneous perception that she was interested in the vice presidency and bad blood between the two campaigns kept the two from running together is enough to illustrate public tolerance for coy or deceitful showmanship in campaigning.

In addition to being, in modern times, a springboard for aspiring future presidential candidates, with Al Gore making a name for himself and Dick Cheney seen as an important, possibly driving influence in the Bush administration as well as a very important conservative thinker in public policy and private business circles, the vice presidency has shown itself to be an important role in shaping the American political discourse.

The actual role of the vice president, to preside over the Senate, while important, is a bit nuts and bolts for the kind of head-of-state aspirations people who serve as vice president tend to have. This is why the vice president generally doesn’t bother doing this aspect of their job, thus the existence of the president pro tempore. The tie-breaking vote in the Senate, however, is not to be underestimated, especially in a nation split so evenly between two different worldviews.

In Argentina, the vice president broke party lines on a tied Senate vote and defeated a piece of legislation put forward by the administration to reinforce their taxation of soy exports. The plan was to prevent the spike in soy price on the international market from causing inflation and monocultivation, and at the same time raise funds for public projects. The opposition organized a roadblock which lasted several months in an attempt to cut off food supplies to the people, claiming that the export retentions would destroy the rentability of agriculture, despite the fact that even with increased retentions, the price spike would still lead to higher profits, and that the administration would “steal” the funds gathered.

Despite the position of importance that the vice president really does have, since the signing of the Constitution the office of vice president has been ridiculed. The office itself is that of a loser who doesn’t do anything important and who history forgets. Dick Cheney is the evil Star Wars emporer, Al Gore is boring, and Dan Quayle… well, we all remember Dan Quayle.

The original role of the office of vice president was to aide in the balance of power in our democracy. The original system was designed so that the winner of the highest number of electoral votes would be president, and the runner-up would be vice president. This was a power-sharing scheme between the two most popular parties of a multiparty system. The president would be the head of state in foreign policy matters, with the very important power to veto legislation, which could be overturned by a two-thirds majority in the Senate. The vice president would be the presiding officer of the senate, enforcing the rules of debate and making the final decision in the event of a tie.

This was ended very shortly after the Constitution was signed. Within a very few presidential elections, with the major parties offering two candidates, the winning party’s candidates both received the same number of votes from their supporting electors. Rather than voting for two candidates from separate parties, as would be the case in an instant runoff or ranking voting system, the electors in the Electoral College voted for both candidates from the party they supported. This led to a tie, which was resolved by the Congress, and the party’s intended presidential candidate became vice president, and vice versa. This led to the immediate amendment of the Constitution; today electors vote for a presidential candidate and a vice presidential candidate, technically separately, but always from the same party.

This was a leap away from the intended power-sharing scheme in the direction of the existing winner-takes-all system, and no correction was made to attempt to promote diversity in the political arena. Where first past the post is a very common system, many nations use runoff elections, instant runoffs, or ranking systems which make it possible for voters to vote for the candidate they want most, and then strategically vote for their second choice. This promotes diversity in the political arena and the public dialogue by allowing multiple parties a real chance at winning elections, or at least losing elections without being blamed as the “spoilers” who cause the major parties to lose possible supporters.

This was the original intention of the office of vice president, to serve as a balance of power and an agent for promoting political pluralism. Today the United States is suffering because voters feel they can only choose between two parties they may have little in common with, and part of the cause of this is the simple flawed mechanic in the architecture of our democracy which was fixed without adding a contingency to preserve its intended function.

Rick Warren Drops Obama-Osama Slip, Media No Longer Cares

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If you caught Rick Warren’s Larry King interview following his dramatic event interviewing the candidates on matters of politics, faith, and values, interviewing the candidates in his church in a bold departure from secular reporting (OK, that’s sarcasm, the major news networks still haven’t decided whether Obama is a Muslim or not), you may have caught him saying Osama while referring to Obama, a fairly common mistake which I have written about in the past.

In CNN’s defense, they have not corrected this mistake in their transcript of the program. However, something as simple as a typographical error changing the meaning of a person’s statement in a newspaper should show up in the retractions/corrections section, but I’ve been unable to find any interest in this matter in the media in general. The only thing I’ve managed to find is that another blogger noticed as well.

When I was watching this interview, I wasn’t even certain I believed my ears when I heard Warren make this all-too-common slip of the tongue.  King and Warren were discussing the question Warren had asked each candidate of whether evil existed and whether it should be negotiated with or “defeated”. Considering the target audience of this civil forum and the amount of time given to a candidate to respond to a question, anything but the same response you would have to a video game villain (it’s evil, kill it) would have been impossible, so the question in itself was completely ridiculous.

Warren, while describing John McCain’s response, dropped the Obama-Osama slip in the most psychologically revealing way possible, while he was talking about McCain’s resolve in defeating evil.

“On the other hand, John was very clear that you can’t negotiate with evil. You have to defeat it. Honestly, I think he was thinking not just of Obama, I think really what was on his heart too was this interest of Russia recently invading Georgia. ”

The placement of the slip-up in the conversation on evil and how McCain plans to defeat it is very interesting here. Is Warren subconsciously thinking of Obama as evil, or as something for McCain to defeat? Is this connection in his own subconscious, or is he deliberately attempting to create this subconscious connection in others? Of all those who have made this mistake in public forums, how many of them made this mistake honestly and how many are attempting to scare voters on a subconscious level? Are they organized?

As much as we all tire of hearing the same news stories over and over again, I think the media should hold people accountable for making this mistake. Although it may not be a deliberate attempt to bring negative associations to a candidate in the minds of the public, a Freudian slip of this kind may reveal where the speaker is coming from, which is just as important as what they actually say.

It will also help prevent subconscious negative association if attention is called to these slips of the tongue. I wonder how many viewers didn’t even notice when it happened.

 

Apart from the Obama-Osama slip, and the unfortunately simplistic viewpoint our candidatesclaim to have on the subject of evil, the most interesting thing about the Warren event was the candidates’ response to the question on the definition of wealth. I liked Obama’s answer. Warren asked for a number, and he gave it to him. McCain’s answer made me think that Michael Moore might have been right when he described the infection of the American mindset with the Horatio Alger fantasy in “Dude, Where’s My Country”.

He started talking like a poor little rich girl and said he wants us all to be rich.

“MCCAIN: Some of the richest people I’ve ever known in my life are the most unhappy. I think that rich is — should be defined by a home, a good job, an education, and the ability to hand to our children a more prosperous and safer world than the one that we inherited. I don’t want to take any money from the rich. I want everybody to get rich.”

He doesn’t want to take any money from the rich, and he wants us all to be rich. I guess if we were all rich, the government wouldn’t have to take any money from any of us, if we wanted a road, we’d just build it ourselves. But that’s not how the world works, and John McCain knows it as well as I do. I can’t believe that any working human being could swallow the fantasy that the rich should be our heroes and we should do nothing to “harm” them, although taking a small portion of their money from them is about the least amount of harm you can do to a rich person. 

We need a government, and the government needs to spend some money in order to exist and work, and McCain’s only solution is to cut spending (except in war). And now we know, if he had his way, he would prefer to take what little money he believes the government needs from the poor before taking a penny from the rich.

Written by Alex (Capitalocracy)

August 24, 2008 at 12:29 pm

Welfare Chiselers

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There is a common misconception that the U.S. is bursting at the seams with deadbeats who want free money from the government and refuse to work, have children in order to get more food stamps, and live like kings on welfare. Now I don’t have any numbers on this, but I’ve known a lot of relatively poor people and I’ve never met one who liked it.

Looking for a job is hard work. Not only is it time-consuming, it is also extremely difficult emotionally. The lower your value as an employee, be it for lack of education or experience or for an employer-friendly job market, the more difficult it is. Your value as an employee can affect you emotionally, especially when you receive multiple rejections. Seeing hundreds of other people interviewing for the same jobs you are soliciting can make you feel like there’s no hope. And it is true that some people give up. It may even be true that a rare few come to accept and be happy with receiving the barest living in poor conditions with beer and cigarettes their only luxury and not working, but this is an adaptation to a system which doesn’t have a place for them. This isn’t anyone’s ambition.

Finding a job on your own is hard enough, but imagine trying to find work as a single parent. Looking for work is a full-time job, and if you don’t have a job you can’t afford day care while you look for one. So people end up feeling trapped in their houses, taking care of their children and unable to look for work. And if they raise their children well, it’s probably more important that they be with them than that they work, out of principle, without improving their lives by doing so, simply to avoid being on welfare.

The idea that people need to work in order to contribute to society is very prominent, even among those who cannot find work. Yet the concept that not working is immoral hasn’t been applied to those who do not work because they are financially independent. I will grant that even among the wealthy people tend to want to create projects, and some work very hard, but they certainly don’t have the same obligations as the average American worker, with the luxury of taking vacations anytime they want and setting their own hours. Not all financially independent people work, or spend as many years working as other people, and they can retire at any time. They don’t all work, and nobody says they’re not contributing to society. The idea that people have to work hard to get what they want, or to earn their living, does not seem to apply to everyone.

So if the concept that people have to earn their way through life is true, why are we not upset at people who live off of the success of their parents? If a single parent doesn’t work, or if a parent whose partner doesn’t make enough money doesn’t work, they are seen as bums if they take government assistance, while non-working parents whose partners make enough money to support them are seen as valuable members of society.

People who cant make enough money for their families are seen as lazy; if they worked harder they would have more money. Yet poor people often work harder jobs for more hours, or multiple jobs, and live a harder life with more stress and fewer commodities. It is unacceptable to say that poor people are lazy, when rich people have more commodities at home, hire servants, and do not rely on manual labor to survive. In an economic system in which there are a limited number of jobs for which workers must compete, why do we look down on those who don’t make it? If there are fewer available jobs than workers, someone will be left out. This is a reality that has nothing to do with laziness… perhaps they are, or are more importantly perceived as, less qualified for certain jobs, but they still have the right to live in the U.S. Starving them to death will not make them more qualified or make it easier for them to find work.

The purpose of government is to provide order and be the final mediator among the people, and to ensure their well-being when they cannot. Helping a business make money is not a contribution to society, only to that business and, if they are paid, to the workers. If these opportunities are not available to all people, the government must help them – it is their duty to do so. Be it through voluntary work placement programs, paid job training programs, or simply welfare, the government must see to it that all of its people are living in decent conditions with food and other basic necessities available. In doing so they should take into account factors which are more important for society than for business, for example, parents of children who are under school age should have the option of staying home to take care of them regardless of their marital status or financial situation.

Just because a few people take advantage of welfare programs because they’ve given up hope to improve their lives does not make them any less vital to many Americans’ basic survival. It’s not the rampant problem opponents of social programs make it out to be, and you don’t dismantle an important system just because a few people misuse it. In a system in which there are not enough jobs for the people who need them and no other way to survive than to work, it is the duty of government to help the people who are left out to live in decent conditions. This must be paid for by tax money taken from the people and businesses who are succeeding through this system; they are wealthy due to the United States’ open policies on business and can afford to help the people who are left out of what is essentially their economic system. This is not a Communistic ideal, it is the most basic humanity and the duty and purpose of government: if the government does not protect its people from harm, protect their rights, provide justice, and help those of its citizens who are in need, it has no right to exist and no inherent sovereignty save through violence or the complacence of its people.

Written by Alex (Capitalocracy)

August 4, 2008 at 1:24 am

Posted in Opinion

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Fishy Conservative Worldview

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A conservative blogger wrote an analogy on Living Jersey which he feels demonstrates the difference between the Democrat and Republican viewpoints on the economy. He’s comparing the economy to fish.

Since we’re in an industrial age, I think sausages might be more appropriate.

However, I’m willing to stick with the fish analogy for the sake of argument. The Living Jersey blogger is a shining example of someone who has swallowed the simplistic narrative that economic disparity is the fault of the lazy and the poor, and that poverty is a lifestyle choice and nothing else. If that is the case, how presumptuous of a politician to propose government programs which not only limit how much money a hardworking American can make, but also infringe on your right to choose to be poor!

Here’s the gist of his argument, if you don’t feel like reading the post linked above. The economy is fish, work is fishing, and the man who fishes 12 hours a day is rich, while the lazy man who fishes only 2 hours a day has just enough fish to feed his family, and yet the Democratic Party would be so brash as to complain that one man has more fish than his neighbor.

I can’t help but thinking if the rich man has to work 12 hours a day and has a house made of fish, I don’t envy him.

Does he see the world as an equal opportunity utopia, where there is one big fish pond where any man may freely take his bounty of fish? Humans interact with eachother (and fish) in a much more complex manner. Someday, somebody is going to have more fish than somebody else. Maybe you’re right, maybe it will be because this man fishes 12 hours a day or more, maybe it’s because he’s smarter or because he’s luckier or what have you. Knowing the world we live in, I’d say it’s more likely that the fisherman who gets ahead will do so by killing a few other fishermen and stealing their fish or organizing in groups to go raid the ones who live on the other side of the pond.

Regardless of how the fish gap begins, those who have more fish are going to do their best to widen it. They will share their fish surplus with merceneries who will enforce one fisherman’s ownership of the pond. Then anyone who wants fish will have to work at his pond, 12 hours a day, catching enough fish to make a big stinking pile for their boss, and yet taking home only what they need to survive, or even less, living on the salted fish their grandparents saved up during better times. Those who can’t get a job fishing will be forced to eat worms or rob fish from their neighbors, and if they try to rob from the self-declared owner of the pond, they’ll be beaten with a trout.

I could go on with this, but I don’t think it’s genuinely worth it. You get the joke. The blogger who wrote the fish analogy believes in the perfection of the free market. Only the strong survive, and we as a society evolve into better fishermen.

Certain market controls do not make a communist society, and it is absolutely necessary. A free market is far from what exists today. You never see conservatives complain when the government takes tax money to bail out supposedly important businesses whose own actions threaten their existence. Even today, we’re bailing out banks with public money because they irresponsibly rode market bubbles to make temporary profits, and why? Because our system of credit is so important to maintaining the status quo, where some people own the pond and the rest are forced to fish for them. The very existence of government-endorsed currency is an infringement of the free market ideology. If we want a free market, we would have to print money ourselves, and we would be responsible for convincing others that it was worth something.

Here‘s a more in-depth analysis of my opinion on government aide for the poor.

Living Jersey, go fish.

Written by Alex (Capitalocracy)

August 4, 2008 at 1:22 am