Why it matters that our politicians are rich
Politicians would like us to believe that all this money doesn’t matter in a deeper sense—that what matters is ideas, skills, and leadership ability. Aside from a little extra business savvy, they’re regular people just like the rest of us: They just happen to have more money.
But is that true? In fact, a number of new studies suggest that, in certain key ways, people with that much money are not like the rest of us at all. As a mounting body of research is showing, wealth can actually change how we think and behave—and not for the better. Rich people have a harder time connecting with others, showing less empathy to the extent of dehumanizing those who are different from them. They are less charitable and generous. They are less likely to help someone in trouble. And they are more likely to defend an unfair status quo. If you think you’d behave differently in their place, meanwhile, you’re probably wrong: These aren’t just inherited traits, but developed ones. Money, in other words, changes who you are.
As with all these studies of large groups they are noting trends, not absolutes in terms of individual behavior. They mention Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). Who knows what he is like on a personal level. In terms of public policy he is a fairly progressive politician – supports the social safety net, environmental regulation, public education and universities, women’s rights and is pro science. It is possible to have money and still retain empathy for others. It just seems that in many instances wealth becomes all about keeping wealth – even though in western free market societies all wealth can be traced back to labor. On of the more offensive perceptions of Romney – that he has of himself and his supporters have of him – is that of entrepreneur. Someone who had some kind of dream, worked hard, created a product or service that benefited a lot of people and created wealth. Modern financial machinations made Romney’s and the wealth of the investment bankers like Goldman Sachs possible. Not inventions or hard work. They leeched off the capital created by the labor of millions. In very typical modern crony capitalism fashion – they are the vultures who suck the value out of what others create. A phenomenon made possible by deregulation of the banking and financial sector. There are delusional Romney clones everywhere. They believe that they have created wealth. Since they are wealthy, the wealth itself is proof that how they behalf, what they do, is good and they are special. The conservative-libertarian Koch brothers really do imagine themselves real life John Galts. Most of the Kock brothers products are paper products like paper towels, paper plates and synthetic fibers made from petroleum. They are hardly new age innovators. Neither they or Romney are modern success stories – starting with nothing, they created a new technologies that made the world a better place and made millions while doing so. They started wealthy and despite any depth of intelligence, wisdom, hard work or genuine virtue – they parlayed that wealth into more wealth. Gosh, that is almost a miracle, right? If they simply enjoyed their wealth and went about their lives most Americans would be fine with that, regardless of whether the wealth was truly earned or not. Some people are just lucky. The problem with the Romneys and the Koch brothers is they are not satisfied with just having more collective wealth than half of working class America. They want the power to shove their public policy down everyone’s throat – Conservative Libertarian plantation owners don’t want labor to get too uppity – David Koch Admits Big Spending to Help Scott Walker Bust ‘Union Power’
Like their father before them, David Koch and his brother Charles are longtime champions of extreme right-wing causes. And Walker’s militant anti-labor policies coupled with a willingness to cut funding for public education and public services have made him a hero of conservative hardliners like the Kochs.
[ ]…Even as Walker struggles to explain why Wisconsin is shedding jobs while the rest of the country is gaining them, conservative groups funded by Charles and David Koch, such as Americans for Prosperity, are filling the state’s television airwaves with ads that claim Walker’s policies are “working.” According to Reuters, “a $700,000 advertising campaign sponsored by Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a foundation funded by conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch of oil and gas conglomerate Koch Industries, hit the Wisconsin airwaves, the latest phase of its ‘Stand with Walker’ campaign.”
[ ]…The IRS is explicit in this regard: “Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.”
The violation of our loophole filled campaign expenditure laws is disturbing. Even more so is the philosophy behind the campaign against unions, and at its core the campaign against the rights and dignity of everyone that works as an employee. The conservative-libertarian fantasy is to have a workplace where workers have no rights. That workers should not be allowed to speak up about wages, working conditions, discrimination, employers ethics violations or any other issue that workers face everyday. Imagine that the UAW or USW came out tomorrow with a statement saying they were dictated to a future America where employers had no rights. That employees would decide all company policy, behavior and rules. As pro labor as I am I would find that shocking. Any political philosophy that works towards making labor or capital powerless is a political movement in favor of tyranny. In some ways the plantation owners slowly but surely over the years have finally gotten their way. We have an economy based to some degree on the plantation model – with the masters – those with wealth and power at the top and the increasingly powerless wage slaves at the bottom.
railroad tracks sunset
A list called “the seven blunders that human society commits, and that cause all the violence.” In the U.S. you could substitute: poverty, health problems, misery, destruction of the middle-class.
Wealth without work.
Pleasure without conscience.
Knowledge without character.
Commerce without morality.
Science without humanity.
Worship without sacrifice.
Politics without principles.
What does Lisbeth Salander ( The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) really look like? (VIDEO). A BBC report on using composite software to create sketches of literary characters.The report is based on the work of this web site: THE COMPOSITES
Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby
This is interesting as a sociological phenomenon as much as it is in how changing beliefs have shaped public policy – The ‘biblical view’ that’s younger than the Happy Meal
Ask any American evangelical, today, what the Bible says about abortion and they will insist that this is what it says. (Many don’t actually believe this, but they know it is the only answer that won’t get them in trouble.) They’ll be a little fuzzy on where, exactly, the Bible says this, but they’ll insist that it does.
That’s new. If you had asked American evangelicals that same question the year I was born you would not have gotten the same answer.
For example, one article by a professor from Dallas Theological Seminary criticized the Roman Catholic position on abortion as unbiblical. Jonathan Dudley quotes from the article in his book Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics. Keep in mind that this is from a conservative evangelical seminary professor, writing in Billy Graham’s magazine for editor Harold Lindsell:
God does not regard the fetus as a soul, no matter how far gestation has progressed. The Law plainly exacts: “If a man kills any human life he will be put to death” (Lev. 24:17). But according to Exodus 21:22-24, the destruction of the fetus is not a capital offense. … Clearly, then, in contrast to the mother, the fetus is not reckoned as a soul.
Christianity Today would not publish that article in 2012.
Withered as an autumn leaf
The text is from this poem: Turn Me to My Yellow Leaves by William Stanley Braithwaite (The Book of American Negro Poetry. 1922. James Weldon Johnson, ed. (1871–1938).)
TURN me to my yellow leaves,
I am better satisfied;
There is something in me grieves—
That was never born, and died.
Let me be a scarlet flame
On a windy autumn morn,
I who never had a name,
Nor from breathing image born.
From the margin let me fall
Where the farthest stars sink down,
And the void consumes me,—all
In nothingness to drown.
Let me dream my dream entire,
Withered as an autumn leaf—
Let me have my vain desire,
Vain—as it is brief.
Goldman Sachs Admits Record Speculation To Blame For Skyrocketing Gas Prices. A small group of people make the profits sweating mightily over an electronic spreadsheet in a leather bound chair, and working class Americans pay the price.
This sounds like something in a tabloid from the 1960s next to the story about Martians kidnapping a farmer’s cow. It just happens to be the new reality, Honest Defenders of Forced Penetration
So far, it’s been a little odd to read defenses of the bill—passed by the Virginia House of Delegates last week—to require “trans-vaginal ultrasounds” for women seeking abortions. Supporters conscious of public opinion argue that it is strictly a means to provide information and guarantee the safety of the mother. “The only way that they can determine the age of the fetus at an early age is by performing a trans-vaginal ultrasound,” said Delegate Kathy J. Byron, the Republican lawmaker who sponsored the House version of the legislation.
This, of course, isn’t the point. Whether or not a trans-vaginal ultrasound is medically necessary is separate from the fact that this is an involuntary procedure, forced by the state, and performed for political reasons. The issue here is consent, and the simple fact is that the state should not be allowed to stick something inside your body for the sake of preventing a legal and legitimate medical procedure. This doesn’t come as a big surprise, but it’s been the most right-wing members of the Virginia legislature who have been honest about their intentions:
Delegate Bob Marshall, a Republican who plans to vote for the bill, contends that the argument does not ring true because the abortion itself is far more invasive.
“The intrusion is already taking place,” he said.
In other words, once you’ve been penetrated, you are fair game for anyone who comes along, including the government.
So ladies since you might have been raped once, might as well let the state do it too.
Andrew Belle – Open Your Eyes