Showing posts with label capitalism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label capitalism. Show all posts

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Atheist Intersectionality: The Many Hats We Wear

I was just recently thinking about atheist intersectionality: how atheism intersects with my gender, race, place of origins, my politics, ethics, economic philosophy, and views on sexuality. Additionally, the question of whether my atheism should affect my views on these things is an open question. I was inspired by intersectional feminism, which a lot of people, mostly feminists, like talk about. The idea of applying intersectionality itself to other things is a wonderful philosophical venture and one I want to explore here.

We all 'wear many hats' so to speak, and some of these hats are more important to us than others for various reasons. Atheism is very important to me in how I identify myself overall, but depending on the situation, other hats I wear are more important. I want to explore the relationships between these various identities I have with atheism. So let me start by listing some of the many hats I wear as part of my identity. In no particular order:

Atheist: I am an atheist in that I do not believe any gods exist. An atheist is someone who lacks a belief in any gods existing. This is what I like to call bare minimum atheism. It is the minimum requirement for one to properly be called an atheist as I define it. One can go further and declare they know god doesn't exist, but it isn't necessary. I've been an atheist or agnostic all of my life, and I wear the identity proudly, although I'm not always wearing it on my sleeve. You could technically classify me as a moderate atheist on this scale.

Anti-theist: Not only am I an atheist, I go a step further and say I'm an anti-theist. An anti-theist is an atheist who opposes religious belief. Not all atheists are anti-theists. Most atheists are more or less indifferent to religion. I was inspired by the New Atheism movement to oppose religious belief and dedicate myself to decreasing religiosity in the world and increasing secularism and atheism. It is an extremely important motivating factor in my life.

Determinist: I am a determinist in the sense that I reject the notion of libertarian free will and I think that everything in the universe that happens is inevitable given the initial conditions in the big bang. In this view if you were to rewind the universe back to the big bang and play it again, you'd get the same exact results and events every time you did so, ad infinitum. This you can say is part of my metaphysical worldview.

Epiphenominalist: I am an epiphenominalist in that I think whatever the mind is, it is ultimately caused or explained by something going on in the brain. Understanding the brain will most likely unlock the mystery of consciousness, although it is certainly possible a full understanding of the brain will not resolve the hard problem of consciousness. As an epiphenominalist, I reject substance dualism in the sense of dualistic interactionism.

Eternalist: I am an eternalist whose ontology includes all moments of time existing at different areas of spacetime. In this metaphysical worldview the universe is basically a block that is composed of all of spacetime laid out.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Thinker - A Novel (Chapter 1 Part 4) Economics 101


I MET UP WITH STEVE A HALF HOUR LATER. He was a first generation Korean immigrant who came to the US when he was three. As is typical of many Koreans, he excelled in school, especially math, and had decided to go into a career in finance. We met in my first year in college in economics class. He was studying business and I was studying tech. We soon started partying together. I still remember the day when I first introduced him to cocaine at a house party. He liked it so much that doing coke soon became our thing, and for the rest of college, me, Steve, and our other friend Mario, got together virtually every weekend to drink beer, snort coke, and then go bar hopping in the city. Eventually it started getting out of hand. Doing coke had initially started out as a side thing, a little extra something something to make our nights a little more interesting. We’d pregame it at someone's house, usually Mario's. We'd drink, do a little coke, and then head out to a bar or club for the real fun. But before long, coke had become the main dish. It started replacing everything else in importance. We eventually got to the point where we were spending all our money on coke, and we didn’t even want to go out to the bars anymore. We began thinking like total cokeheads, with each of us reinforcing the worst ideas of drug addiction in the others. Why go out to a bar and spend ten dollars on a drink if we could just spend that money on more coke? It seemed logical. And so we did. Mario especially got out of hand, so much so that I eventually had to stop hanging out with him altogether. At some point, when my tolerance got so high to where I had to spend at least fifty dollars on coke just to sustain a decent buzz, a light bulb went off in my head. I realized that the coke was using me and I wasn’t using the coke anymore. It was working against me and not for me. So I gradually stopped doing it until I didn't need it anymore, which is the way George Carlin quit. Neither Steve nor Mario were able to have this epiphany, and they both spiraled further down the hole. Eventually I managed to get Steve off of it for the most part, but Mario was a goner.
     Being in finance, Steve could never kick the habit entirely, as it generally goes with the lifestyle. But for the most part he kept it under control. He was a diehard capitalist, a true free market proponent. Over the years we had many heated discussions on economics. And so when I met up with him that day I wanted to talk to him about my situation and whether he thought there was anything wrong with our current state of affairs. We went to one of those Irish pubs you see all over Manhattan. I liked those places. I could go in an anonymously drink among strangers and feel like I could fit right in. Steve knew the bartender it seemed from the way he greeted him, although it was hard to tell since he always acted like he was everybody’s best friend. He kindly ordered me a beer and we sat down in one of the booths in the back, away from the rowdy patrons at the bar.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

American Free Market Capitalism In Action - 1960: Harvest of Shame

This is what a total unregulated free market dictates. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Religion Is Declining In The US, But Why? Here's A Few Explanations

Most atheists and secularists cheered this past week when the new PEW Religious Landscape survey made news showing the increasing secularism and the decreasing levels of religiosity in the US. Between 2007 and 2014, the percentage of Christians in the US decreased from 78.4% to 70.6%. The percentage of "nones" or the religiously unaffiliated, increased from 16.1% to 22.8%. And the number of atheists and agnostics increased from 4% to 7.1% according to the survey.

Nearly every Christian denomination decreased in numbers and the unaffiliated now outnumber the number of Catholics (22.8% compared to 20.8%) making them the second largest identifiable religious affiliation after Protestants, who now are less than half of the population 46.5%.

If you're a secularist like me this news is fucking awesome. It means we're winning, religion is losing, and the tide has clearly turned in our favor. It's felt that way for a while now. I live in a very secular part of the country so my gauge is a bit skewed, but it is very rare for me to meet people who believe in god and who are openly religious about it. It seems as if more and more, religion just isn't visible.

This recent trend towards secularization began in the early nineties, however, it has sped up tremendously in the past 10 years. But now the question sociologists and political scientists will be asking is: why? Why is the US, which for a long time bucked the trend towards secularization in the Western world, starting to rapidly secularize now? I have a feeling that the answer is very complicated. Luckily we have Phil Zuckerman, a professor of sociology at Pitzer College to help make things a little easier. He specializes in secular studies and has written about the subject in great detail. Zuckerman has listed several possible explanations why the US is secularizing today. Here's his explanations of the increased secularism. In no particular order:

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Few Notes On Spirituality & "Beloved"

I just got back earlier this week from a week-and-a-half long vacation in Oregon. I had attended a music/art/spiritual festival called Beloved and I also got to see my mother, sister and my eight year old nephew. At Beloved, I got to spend several days camping with thousands of free-spirited hippies, many of whom take their spiritual beliefs very seriously. And I have to say it was a very enlightening experience. I spend my time around mostly secular people who rarely, if ever, show any strong outward signs of religiosity - even those who believe in god. So after speaking and spending time with several thousand people who'd probably self identify as "spiritual," I have gained a new perspective.

I wasn't there to preach to anybody. In fact I kept my atheism in the closet the whole time. I was there to learn. I was there to absorb. I was there to warmly educate myself on a slice of humanity that I rarely encounter. "Beloveds" as the attendees are called, are free-spirited hippie types, who mostly feel very passionately about the earth, the environment, humanity and humankind's connection to the spirit world.

On the first night, around the "sacred fire" where at night I would sit to warm up from the cold mountain air, one of the hosts gave a speech about fire. He spoke of the ways in which fire is misused, such as in war, and spoke of the ways it should be properly used. Then we were all instructed to give thanks to all four directions, north, south, east, west. I played along and participated, hoping that there would be a strong emotional response in me, but there wasn't. I seem to have an adverse reaction for group rituals. To me, anything that appears religious or cult like, such as group rituals, makes me uncomfortable. On the second day, we did another group prayer. We were asked to think about those suffering in the world and I did get an emotional response. It wasn't the group prayer that I think did it, it was my empathy for those suffering. I've had emotional moments like that all by myself and so I know the way my body and brain react. Group prayer or singing still isn't my thing. Even Sunday Assembly didn't quite rub me the right way. I was amazed however at some of the people attending who really seemed deeply and sincerely connected to whatever spirits they believed in.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Jon Stewart Grills Nancy Pelosi On Political Corruption

The other night on The Daily Show Jon Stewart had House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on and to my surprise, he grilled her pretty strong on the corruption systemic within Washington. Pelosi, being the typical politician gave circular answers and avoided the one thing Stewart kept pressing her on, and that is the undeniable fact that both parties in Washington have become tools for corporate America. Her reactions to Stewart's accusations are symbolic of what I hate so much about politics: She repeats her talking points over and over again to avoid answering the questions and pretends not to understand when she clearly does.

If we are going to do anything to resolve the problem of there being too much big moneyed interests in Washington, it won't be with politicians like Pelosi, it will be with reformers like Elizabeth Warren who hopefully will not be corrupted by the same things that corrupt all politicians. There must be an intensified effort on behalf of the American people to pressure our politicians to seek and enable real reform to end this system of corruption so that the American government will once again work on behalf of its citizens, and not its corporations.

I'd Be Scared To Be A Republican

The republicans are losing the American public on almost every front. They're clinging desperately to outdated morality from bygone eras in the wide-eyed hopes that they will one day become the cultural and political paradigms again. But here's a news flash: we are never going back to those "puritan" times that republicans fantasize about. Ever. The momentum of the culture is rapidly swinging against their favor and it's hopelessly naive to not recognize this. Younger Americans are even changing their mind on socialism, with almost half of 18-29 year olds viewing it favorably, according to a new Pew survey. So if you're a staunchly conservative republican who supports "traditional marriage," unfettered capitalism, and you're against contraception, abortion and secularism, your demographic is shriveling up like an old man with shrinkage.

If I were a conservative or a republican, I'd be really scared of these trends. The big money spent to brainwash the masses via the likes of Fox News and World Net Daily will only go so far. It seems that the only way the republican agenda will be able to survive this massive cultural paradigm shift away from their values will be through the support of a handful of wealthy donors like the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson. But as the republican base of older, rural, white Americans begins to die off, all that big money spending will increasingly become less and less effective. And republicans know this. So what we've seen in response are increasingly unfair tactics employed by the republicans to try and win elections. Jerrymandering is a prime example, but eventually none of it will be enough. When generation Y and X are in power, liberal values will be the norm, and those who are in support of conservative values will be all but shut out. They will be left to certain rural districts of the country and could disappear from the radar altogether as this century marches onward. What we'd see would be the death of the far right, replaced by a moderate conservative wing, resembling something like today's libertarian party e.g. liberal social values coupled with conservative economic policies.

As a liberal, I of course see this all as something immensely positive, especially after surviving the hellish ordeal of the Bush years. But I cannot imagine what it must be like to be a republican today - that is to say, a republican who isn't insulated in the bubble and who thinks that the party is doing just fine and that any day now we'll just start repealing all the liberal advances society has made thus far. To be a republican who lives in reality must be a scary thing.

That said, the future looks good for liberalism, at least in the West, but we've still got plenty of struggle ahead.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Great Video On How Wealth Is Spread In The US

If there was ever a reason to be angry at the unequal distribution of wealth in the US, it is exemplified in this nice little video. It graphically represents the wealth distribution seen from three different perspectives: how we'd like it to be; how we think it is; and how it actually is.

Perhaps after issues of religion and secularism, our current dire economic situation is what I'm most passionate about. The reason why our economy is in the gutter is because the people who carry it - the middle class - are barely getting by. Something has to be done. If enough Americans knew and cared about what's going on, we'd be able to make some real changes to the system.

No one really wants true socialism as the video mentions, I certainly don't, but we absolutely need greater equality in the share of wealth in the country. Corporate profits are at an all time high, worker output is also at or near all time highs, but the wealth is almost all flowing to the top. What's going on? Workers are being shafted. They're being squeezed out of every drop of energy that they can produce and yet their salaries have remained virtually flat. I know this because it's happened to me.

At the end, if we cannot pressure corporations and businesses to increase the salaries of their workers, then they will have to be forced through appropriate legislation.

The struggle continues....

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Is Capitalism A Sin?

There was a scene in Michael Moore's 2009 documentary Capitalism: A Love Story when he sits down with a Catholic Priest and asks him if capitalism is a sin. The Priest responds saying the practice of capitalism as it is today, is a sin and is contrary to what is moral and what is for the common good. Was the Priest actually right? Is today's incarnation of capitalism immoral?

I've written about my views on capitalism before. I'm a compassionate capitalist as I say, because without the element of compassion, capitalism is unnecessarily cruel and immoral. There is new episode of Frontline on PBS about the financial crisis of 2008 when the mortgage bubble burst triggering the Great Recession and  it investigates how over four years later, there hasn't been a single prosecution and conviction of anyone involved. Many people feel that the banks involved with the mortgage crisis were fraudulently responsible for the fallout, and that top executives should have been criminally charged at the very least.

Watch The Untouchables on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Wouldn't it have been great if those knowingly responsible for the mortgage crisis were convicted and sent to jail along with your common ordinary criminals?

Bankers don't particularly score very high for me on the sympathy scale. I've worked on Wall Street before so I know their general mentality. Most of them are not particularly religious although some may say that they believe in god at some level. Opportunistic theists will seize on the lack of moral and legal accountability on Wall Street and say it's another example of the problems that are the result of our secular culture. (Although conservatives who tend to be more religious seem to be against regulation as the very thought of it conjures up nightmares of socialism.) Perhaps there are many Wall Street execs who feel that they're above the law and that they're heading banks they think that are too big to fail and too big to jail.

Some people theorize that CEOs and execs tend to be charismatic sociopaths who care not at all for the millions of lives their decisions can sometimes ruin. I think at some level there is a culture of sociopathy in the corporate world. When profit is put up so high on a pedestal, the common good down below is out of view. I don't propose invoking the fear of god and all the baggage that comes along with it as a cure, but a culture where compassion is emphasized will help reduce the problems associated with the mindless narcissistic indulgences. Legal accountability and regulation will help also.

All we really need to do is once again have an economy primarily based on producing real tangible goods and real services to real human beings along with clean energy standards, where a getting-filthy-rich-as-soon-as-possible-by-any-means-necessary mentality is avoided because its harmfulness is recognized.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The "War" On Christmas?

It is once again the holiday season. Oh sorry, I meant to say it's "Christmas" season. Damn my political correctness and those godless liberals for making me fall in line with their war on Christmas! Ha ha, just kidding. Even though I am a pretty staunch atheist, I was raised in a cultural Christian setting. We celebrated Easter and Christmas although I was never really taught their religious significance. Today as an adult, I really don't celebrate any holidays to be honest with you and it kind of sickens me how Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Halloween have now become month long celebrations. My uncle told me that decades ago Christmas season used to start a week or so before Christmas, and now it starts at midnight on Thanksgiving day.

When it comes to Christmas today I see it for what it is: a pagan tradition incorporated into Christianity that evolved into a celebration of unfettered capitalistic materialism. Yes I am against the nativity scenes on public property; they belong on private land and paid for by private individuals. The so called war on Christmas is really just secularists repealing the violations of the first amendment when countless state and local governments created religious displays with tax payer money. Christmas time for generations has really been the war on secularism. But what I really think is an interesting note on the "Christmas" holiday, is how capitalistic it is and how that is really what drives the continuation of the holiday. What I think some people fear about secularism pushing back the religious displays is that it might lead to a time when Christmas is not celebrated and this would ultimately hurt the economy. In other words people care only about the bottom line.

Today in the US I can pretty much say anything I want criticizing religion, but what really is blasphemy today, is any critique of capitalistic materialism. Telling people that they really don't need to buy all the things they want, and that they should buy mostly what they need, or focus on non-material things, is the equivalent today of what doubting the existence of god was two or three hundred years ago. You will be branded a heretic if you even imply to Americans that materialism has gone too far. Now I understand consumption drives the economy, and that any curtailing of this will slow and hurt the economy and stock market. What I really want is the world to wake up and realize that our economy based on the consumption of goods made from finite resources that adds pollution to the world and that will eventually end up, in part, as unrecyclable waste, cannot last forever and is leading us to our downfall.

I don't celebrate Christmas because of this. I refuse to be a part of the machine that drives mankind into oblivion. When we have an economy that is based on the sale and purchase of fully recyclable goods made with fully renewable clean energy, then I will reconsider. But that day is many decades away at least. So with secularists working hard to keep religion out of government this time of the year, my war on Christmas is really a war on the type of capitalism we have today. We are still using a 20th century system to supply a 21st century demand of consumer goods. It is about time that business leaders realize this and put this concern ahead of their short term goals.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Are You A Capitalist?

When I talk economics with people I have a few times been mistaken for a socialist. It seems that in our country today this idea has been drummed into us that anything that even remotely curtails capitalism is immediately labeled to be socialist or communist. That means unless you are prepared to accept this label, (a la Fox News style) you must be a supporter of unobstructed capitalism. This has angered many who believe in free markets but with a fair and conscious approach to it.

When asked if I am a capitalist I usually respond that I am a liberal capitalist. Recently the idea of compassionate capitalism has struck me as more accurately describing my economic beliefs. While there is no single definition, compassionate capitalism is fair capitalism; it is conscious capitalism; it is against the cut throat corporatism that we've seen increasing over the past few decades that seeks to outsources jobs, and cut wages and benefits of workers regardless of the profits line. Compassionate capitalism is for protecting worker's rights to have fair and decent pay and benefits; it is for considering the environmental consequences of a business' actions, and it is for a fair tax code that doesn't allow those making the most money to pay a lower tax rate than those in the middle.

In an interview with, Raj Sisodia, head of the Conscious Capitalism Institute describes compassionate or conscious capitalism has having four traits as it relates to business:

  1. First is a higher purpose. There needs to be some other reason why you exist, not just to make money. 
  2. Second is aligning all the stakeholders around that sense of higher purpose and recognizing that their interests are all connected to each other, and therefore there's no exploitation of one for the benefit of another. 
  3. The third element is conscious leadership, which is driven by purpose and by service to people, and not by power or by personal enrichment. 
  4. And the fourth is a conscious culture, which really embodies all of these elements: trust, caring, compassion, and authenticity.
More or less, these were the characteristics that many businesses used to have that we have since strayed from. There was a time when CEOs recognized the value of their workers and the community in which they operated. Over the years, the thirst for greater and greater profits led many business leaders to put profits over people. And so here we are, with CEOs making 400 hundred times the average worker when it used to be 10 or 20 times; we have workers taking pay and benefit cuts while CEOs get raises and even while profits increase. Something's wrong here. It doesn't take a genius to recognize why our economy is virtually flat: the middle class carry the economy, and the less disposable income they have, the less Americans consume. 

The lack of compassion exhibited by many corporations in recent years demonstrates the inability to consider those outside their social circles. That's what it means to lack compassion. If you live your life with a mentality that only considers the well-being of yourself, your family and friends, and those basically inside your social circle, then you allow yourself to be open to economic policy that will hurt thousands or millions of people, as well as animals and the environment. 

There is much more to this than I can possibly mention in a single post. For example, how exactly would compassionate capitalism be implemented in relation to the healthy competition between competing business interests? It seems that the compassionate capitalist must strike a careful balance between collectivism and individualism. Either extreme serves many the wrong way and there is plenty of room for argument. I just want to help offer the liberal capitalist an identity that isn't between either extremes of communism and unobstructed capitalism.

So when asked if I'm a capitalist, I'd say yes. I believe in free markets and free people, I just don't think that the bottom line is above all that we should be focusing on and that there is a need to have an economic system that consciously and compassionately considers all the pieces entangled in its web. Therefore, you can call me a compassionate capitalist. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Why Secularism?

Debating with theists recently regarding opposing conceptions of government has lead me to ask the question: Why secularism? In other words, why do I believe in a secular government? Is secularism a religion unto itself? And is a secular government unfair to those who oppose it?

Secularism is defined as "the view that public education and other matters of civil policy should be conducted without the introduction of a religious element." Phrases like "the separation of church and state" are often evoked. Secularism is necessary in order to prevent laws from being passed that are based not on reason and science, but from a religious customs, traditions, rules and scripture. It it the absolutism of morality guided by revelation that I have such abhorrence for.

The idea is very simple: in a pluralistic society like the U.S., where many faiths are practiced, secularism becomes necessary to prevent laws from being passed and enforced onto people that are based on another person's religion. Most of us would not want to be forced to live under the rules of a religion that we do not hold, such as Islamic Sharia. Many people who are of a particular faith also do not want their religion's rules legislated onto them because they feel that many of their religion's obligations are a matter of personal observation. This is why secularism has been so successful in the West and continues to spread around the world.

As an atheist, I want to live in a society whose laws are rational and just, and based on reason and science. Religious laws sometimes enforce conduct that when examined through the light of reason and science, make little to no sense. For example, Jews and Muslims are forbidden to eat pork. Why? Because god says so. Now imagine a law forbidding pork from being served, regardless of whether you are a Jew, Muslim or not. "Because god says so" is not a justifiable way for a law to be passed, for reasons rather obvious to the atheist and theist alike. This also gets you into the problem of just whose god will it be whose commandments get inscribed into law. You will either have to have a national religion or some sort of religious partitioning that will usually lead to prolonged conflict. To prevent all of this, separating religion from government seems to be the obvious solution.

But the argument is far from over. Let's look at some issues made by some of those critical of secularism. Some claim that secularism is itself a religion, and that a secular government is merely one that has secularism as its state religion. It is certainly possible to define religion many ways. If religion is defined as to not include a deity, but to simply represent a system of beliefs, such as a political ideology, then one could twist out an argument that makes secularism look like an imposing force like so many theocracies today and of years past. The problem here, is that if you dilute the definition of religion to include any set of beliefs, then every belief could be come a religion. In other words, being a democrat or a republican can be your religion. Being a socialist or a capitalist can be your religion. So then under this diluted definition of religion, wouldn't our capitalist economy actually be a religion being imposed on every American, regardless of whether they agreed with it or not? All governments have to impose some system of rules and beliefs onto their citizens. It is just simply impossible to have a system so free that no one has anything ever imposed on them. That would lead to anarchy.

Now what about the person who opposes secularism? Are they being treated in a similar manner to how an atheist would be treated in a theocracy? In a theocracy, the atheist will have to be subjected to religious laws, at home and within the workplace. What they eat, who they can have sex with, how they can dress, whether they can drive or not, might be affected. They might have part of their income taken and given to the state religion, they might face penalties for not observing religious duties that could include jail time. They might not be able to speak out and criticize the state religion or the religion's leaders, with penalties ranging from fines to death. It might also be illegal to influence others with another religion or political ideology with similar penalties. A theocracy can force the believer and non believer alike to live as close as possible to the religion's rules, and this may include violations of some of the most basic of human rights.

Under modern secularism, those who wish to observe their religions can do so freely, so long as it does not violate common sense laws based on reason and science. So for example, if your religion allows the forced marriage of underage girls to older men, if it allows honor killing, or if it prevents various justified civil liberties, then the secular government will have to step in to prevent this. This is no more of a violation of one's religious freedom as it is a protection of other's rights. If your religion does not recognize these civil rights, let me remind you that all Abrahamic religions condone various forms of human slavery. So the emancipation of slaves in the American south under this argument would technically qualify as a secular government limiting the "rights" of slave holders to continue their practice of slavery. The moral problem we see when faced with religion is that as the forces of modernity, precipitated by morality guided by a deeper scientific understanding of reality, clashes with Iron Age ideas, we are increasingly seeing hostility in a culture war where the battle lines are drawn in our classrooms and bedrooms.

Freedom gives you choice; it gives you options. If you don't like gay marriage, don't have one; if you don't like abortion, don't have one; if you don't like eating broccoli, don't eat it; but do not prevent others from doing so. And if you are against any morality based on reason and science because it violates your religion, then mount an argument based on science and reason against it without appeal to scripture. Revelation just doesn't cut it as a valid argument.

Finally, I want to add that it is certainly possible that a secularist can become so fundamental that they begin acting like the theocrats in various oppressive regimes. When secularists start acting like adamant communists in their treatment of religious freedom, I oppose them as I would the theocratist. Freedom of conscious is fundamental and must remain so. So I guess therefore what I am really against is any system that stifles freedom, whether it be theocratic or secular. Modern liberal secular democracies offer us the best hope for a free society, with the most justified laws, based not on Iron Age "revelations" when human knowledge of the world was in its infancy, but by using the powers of science and reason. It is because of this that I regard secularism as the best political system.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Watch this documentary: There's No Tomorrow

I came across this short, informative, animated documentary about the problem with capitalism's affect on our energy resources. In short, our current system is not practical on a long term basis. We are committed to non-renewable energy, and the little investment put into renewable alternatives, has hit some road blocks in regards to whether they can really be feasible replacements.

Getting rich in the short term via oil, coal and natural gas will plunder the Earth of resources, destroy it with pollution and ultimately be the end of humanity if we do not seriously consider a patchwork of alternative energy.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

Dear Occupy Wall Street Protesters,

You have my utmost support in taking our country back from the corporate fascists that have taken over our country, and have destroyed the very fabric of who we are: the 99 percent.

For the past month the Occupy Wall Street movement has grown from Zucotti Park, in downtown Manhattan to a world wide movement. Although I haven't been down there, I support their cause. Many critics of OWS, especially the Fox News assholes, say the protesters have no central focus. Let me explain that the main principle at the source of the rage coming from OWS is the unequal distribution of wealth in the United States, due to the long cozy relationship between our elected officials, and big business. OWS has giving voice to many of us who are disgusted by the practices of the wealthiest and most powerful individuals and corporations that are controlling our political system and thus are controlling the national agenda.

For example, most, if not all of our congressmen, senators, mayors, governors and presidents are bought and sold by corporations. The corporations are funding their elections, and therefore once these politicians are in office, they are beholden to the corporations and not the voters, even though it was the voters who elected the politician. This is why legislation often contains within it loopholes that corporations use to escape whatever practices the regulations were intended to stop.

But you already know this right? What corporations get away with today, is some of the most disgusting immoral behavior in the world. It makes me sick. It's just unbelievable what the state of American politics is today. Will it ever end? Can anything really be done to divorce this grotesque relationship between big money, and government?

I feel I should be down there protesting. Although I have a job and have benefited well from my college education, I am very passionate about the movement. We need Wall Street to hear our voice. Their greed cannot go unpunished. What is at stake here is nothing less than the future of the middle class, which in turn is the future of the United States. Should we raise taxes of the rich to pay for our debt? Of course!

OWS is all about:

1. Ending the influence that corporations and banks have on our elections and legislation.
2. Protect the middle class; stop the increasing economic disparity between the rich and everyone else, by
3. Making the economy work for everyone (especially the 99%).

Why is this so controversial? Because the banks and corporations who control the government and a large percentage of our media, are using their money and power to mischaracterize the OWS movement and are actively trying to frame it so that OWS looks like a socialist revolution. They are very good at using fear mongering, a la Fox News, to scare Americans into thinking that OWS wants to destroy capitalism and replace it with a communist-style socialist market. OWS protesters don't want a handout, they want jobs. They want good paying jobs with benefits. They want to work and earn a living and to be productive. They don't want the 1 percenters taking the lion's share of wealth and leaving everyone else to gnaw at the tiny pieces of meat left of the bones. Who can blame them when the wages for middle income people has been virtually flat for 30 years and the richest 1 in the U.S. soared 275 percent from 1979 to 2007.

Revolution is inevitable under such circumstances.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Noam Chomsky on the falacy of free-markets

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Economic Darwinism

I've been struggling to find an economic policy that I can agree with. I was flirting with socialism recently but I don't think I can ever call myself a socialist. I've been a capitalist but I have issues with the problems that cut throat capitalism brings, like monopolies. Essentially, I'm a capitalist, but a liberal capitalist. I'm a populist. I believe there's nothing wrong with someone profiting from a clever idea, and hard work. The issue I have is what happens when that business becomes too powerful and starts crushing the ideas and opportunities of others. It becomes a monopoly, or part of a duopoly, and then eventually we're living in a Corporatocracy, like we are now.

My friend is a die hard capitalist. He follows the more conservative line of capitalism, traditionally held by Republicans. He's all for globalization, outsourcing, tax cuts for the rich, and the cut throat tactics used by many corporations. He justifies all of this by the idea of economic Darwinism. Survival of the fittest, or the cruelest. He seems to acknowledge that many of these tactics are somehow immoral, or have negative consequences, but he feels they are necessary in order to succeed. It's very Machiavellian. It's very Wall Street.

I'm a big fan of Darwinism. I regard Darwin as a genius. He made some mistakes in his original theory, and as a result, Darwinism, has been improved upon with modern evolution. Regardless, Darwinism's essential principal is the same however, and that is of course, survival of the fittest. This plays out pretty evidently in the animal kingdom: The strong and cunning survive, and the weak, the slow and foolish die. I'm very weary of applying Darwinism to other areas of the world, such as economics. Survival of the fittest in economics means the strong will dominate the weak because they can, and the weak will have no choice than to submit to the will of the strong, or die. The strong will make it so that the weak cannot get into power and become strong like them, but they will dangle an illusion of opportunity just far enough in front of the weak so that they'll chase it, but can never reach it. There are always going to be those who do not make it in capitalism, and what about them? I've argued with my friend for hours about the fact that our current economic policies create more of the losers who won't make it in this system. He says they can always get another job that will pay more and I respond by asking where that job is going to come from. Is it going to be created out of thin air, like most of our money is?

Economic Darwinism scares me. Do we have to apply Darwinism to everything? I understand it existing in nature, in that it's not necessarily how I want things to be, but I'm willing to accept its existence based on the evidence derived. I don't expect every species of animal to care for the weak, although some actually do. But we are human beings. We have the ability to reason and apply logic to the toughest problems that face us. We created our economy, it's man-made and not natural. The forces of greed have taken over as I feel they inevitably would under capitalism. Can't we have a free market with some protection mechanisms placed in that ensure the poor and middle class aren't exploited by the rich? Can't we have some common sense policies that undermine or prevent tactics that increase short term gains for some, but will punish and create losses for the many in the long run?

I say no to economic Darwinism. I am not that strong financially and I've pretty much accepted the fact that I'm most likely never going to be rich. My friend is positive that he will one day join the upper crust in the top percentile of money makers. That's why he supports economic policies that favor the rich and powerful: he thinks he'll be one of them someday. That's the illusion the rich have dangling in front of our eyes just out of reach, while they do everything they can to make it harder for the poor and middle class to grow economically.

So I ask, what's wrong with just being middle class? Is the whole purpose of life to be rich? Is being middle class as embarrassing as begging for money on the street nowadays? Should one be ashamed to only have one car, or only two computers? Our goals in life have been warped by the hood of economic Darwinism pulled over our heads, blinding our sight with meaningless consumption that leads to debt, and the destruction of our natural world, all to make the rich a little more of what they already are.


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