Class Warfare Blog

July 13, 2019

I Have Said This Before But Hearing It Again Always Helps

Filed under: History,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 11:16 am
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The cost of liberty is eternal vigilance is, I believe, the correct assessment.

Is There a Global Future for Unions?

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July 5, 2019

Patriotism 101: Were the Pilgrims Seeking Religious Freedom?

As school children, we were taught that the Pilgrims came to these shores at Plymouth Rock, seeking religious freedom. Is this true? Actually, it is not true, per se. Again, this is a form of soft propaganda. Americans tend to pump the “freedom” aspect whether it is valid or not.

The Pilgrims were a persecuted religious sect in England. In fact, virtually all religious sects in England were persecuted as the kingship of that country changed based upon wars, etc. When the Kings/Queens were Catholic, the Protestants were heretics. When the King/Queen was a Protestant, the Catholics were heretics. This is what you get when the king is also the head of the state church. This is why the drafters of the constitution built a wall between church and state and built a country based upon laws and not royal whims.

Back to the Pilgrims.

Many Pilgrims fled English persecution to . . . Amsterdam. The Dutch had created a haven of religious tolerance in their country. The Pilgrims were tolerated, were not persecuted, and stayed there for some years. But then, some of these Dutch Pilgrims fled The Netherlands to America. The question is why? It wasn’t because they were fleeing religious persecution. In their own words they wanted to escape having to live and work rubbing elbows with all of the non-Pilgrims in their adopted country.

When they arrived here, what kind of society did they build? They built a theocracy that was stern and unforgiving. In other words, they became the religious persecutors. There were laws based upon theological issues. Blasphemy was punishable by death. Not going to church got you put into the stocks.

So, the Pilgrims did not come to the “New World” to acquire religious tolerance, certainly not religious freedom, unless you believe that religious freedom is the freedom of one religion to repress all of the others.

If I may quote from The Founding Myth by Andrew L. Seidel (p. 106):
“The Puritans and the Pilgrims wanted—and got—Christian nations. They established pure theocracies: strongly religious governments able to stamp out heresy, execute schismatics, and banish all but the meekest. Few settlers wanted to permanently join this harsh monoculture after experiencing it. One of the pillars of the Dutch settlement at New Amsterdam (later to become New York when the English took over SR), a young lawyer named Adriaen van der Donck, wrote about an English refugee, a clergyman, who “came to New England at the commencement of the troubles in England, in order to escape them, and found that he had got out of the frying pan and into the fire. He betook himself, in consequence, under the protection of the Netherlanders, in order that he may, according to the Dutch reformation, enjoy freedom of conscience, which he unexpectedly missed in New England.”

“The Puritans imposed the death penalty for worshipping other gods, blasphemy, homosexuality, and adultery. It is out of this society and this mindset that the terrible idea of a Christian nation founded on Christian principles lodged itself in the American psyche. And it is this intolerant legacy that must be abandoned. That is what a Christian government looks like: exclusive, exclusionary, divisive, hateful, severe, and lethal. It resembles modern theocracies in the Middle East. The insufferable Puritan theocracy declined after King Charles II revoked the colonial charter and passed the Toleration Act of 1689.”

So, America was the “Land of Opportunity” the “opportunity to do what” was left blank.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t add the following quote from that same book to address what the “bringing of Christian civilization” to the heathens in the New World looked like:
“The Puritans also waged a holy war on the Pequots, setting fire to a village on the Mystic River, killing 700 Native men, women, and children. The survivors were sold into slavery. The genocide was like something out of the Book of Joshua. And indeed, the Puritans saw it that way. They saw themselves as instruments of their god’s holy will: ‘Such a dreadful Terror did the ALMIGHTY let fall upon [the Natives’] Spirits, that they would fly from us and run into the very Flames, where many of them perished.” According to John Mason, the Puritan militia commander, his god laughed while he murdered: “But GOD was above them, who laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to Scorn, making them as a fiery Oven…. Thus did the LORD judge among the Heathen, filling the Place with dead Bodies!”’

Followup–Same Point, Different Spin https://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/why-the-pilgrims-really-came-to-america-hint-it-wasn-t-religious-freedom.html

July 1, 2019

Will We Never Learn?

Filed under: Politics,Science — Steve Ruis @ 8:54 am
Tags: , ,

There was a notice in The Guardian today (“Ozone layer finally healing after damage caused by aerosols, UN says”) which stated (in part):

“The ozone layer is showing signs of continuing recovery from man-made damage and is likely to heal fully by 2060, new evidence shows.”

“The results, presented on Monday in a four-year assessment of the health of the ozone layer, represent a rare instance of global environmental damage being repaired, and a victory for concerted global action by governments. Scientific evidence of the depletion of the ozone layer over the Antarctic was first presented in 1985, and in 1987 the Montreal protocol was signed, binding world governments to reduce and phase out the harmful chemicals identified as causing the problem.”

If you do not remember, there was quite the panic when it was discovered that the currently-used aerosol propellants (in spray paint, spray deodorant, hairspray, spray . . . everything) migrated into the upper atmosphere, where no one thought they would go, and decomposed under the influence of ultraviolet light producing a catalyst that caused the decomposition of ozone. (The mechanism for is was worked out in the early 1970’s, by the way.) We all then found out that ozone is a primary source of our protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays (those which cause sunburn on your skin) and that if we kept up our use of said aerosol propellants, we would be subjecting ourselves and all of the other plant and animal life on the planet to destructive radiation.

Even if you believe that some technological genius will save us,
the solution will take 100
years to work and the problem has always been
‘can we act fast enough’ and ‘can we adapt to the changes fast enough.’
The answers so far to these critical questions are ‘no’ and ‘no.’”

My point now is that effective measures took 20 years or so to agree upon and implement and then, even though we are now seeing positive results from those efforts 30 years later, it will take another 40 years for the damage to be fully healed. That’s a total of 70 years to fix the atmospheric problem we created in a much shorter time.

Now, we are standing in front of another atmospheric problem that is of much greater magnitude, that we have been bashing it around politically for 20 years or so and we have not come up with neither technological, nor political solutions to this problem. If the Ozone Hole Problem was any indicator, it may take as long as a century before we arrive at the end the Global Atmospheric Warming Problem . . . at the earliest.

While we have been whinging and cringing over who or what is at fault (Is it man-made? Is it natural? Is it CO2?) the fact that this is almost irrelevant to solving the problem eludes us. Even is natural CO2 is 50% to blame for the rise in atmospheric (and therefore ocean, and land, and . . .) temperatures, we still have to deal with the problem. The same is true for any other natural/man-made split. If it were 100% natural, then working to reduce man-made sources of CO2 would be futile, but it clearly is not this situation. To address the problem, we must shut off the source of the problem, as we did with the Ozone Hole Problem. Or we must remove that gas from the atmosphere in quantity.

We have not yet begun to fashion a solution and we are now seeing some of the dire effects predicted, actually occurring in advance of the dates predicted, so our estimates of the negative effects are too conservative. Even if you believe that some technological genius will save us, the solution will take 100 years to implement and the problem has always been “can we act fast enough” and “can we adapt to the changes fast enough.” The answers so far to these critical questions are “no” and “no.”

And it seems that the 1960’s prescription for what to do in the event of a nuclear attack also applies to how to respond to the effects of climate change (bend over and kiss your ass goodbye). At least we can do this ourselves.

And for us science types who thought that those quite dense aerosol propellants couldn’t possibly end up in the upper atmosphere, the lesson is “It ain’t what you don’t know that will kill you, it is what you think you know that ain’t so.” It is oh, so easy to confuse what we think we know with what we actually know. So often, what we think we know is an extension of what we do know and even mathematicians understand that interpolations (filling in the gaps) tend to be far more accurate than extrapolations (extending the trend out and out and out).

June 16, 2019

I am Shocked, Shocked I Tell You . . . Again

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 8:25 am
Tags:

According to an article in The Guardian:

A report published on 22 May by the Congressional Research Service, a non-partisan think tank for members of Congress, found the tax cuts did not significantly affect the economy or boost wages, but benefited investors more than anyone else.

“The evidence continues to mount that the Trump-GOP tax cuts were a scam, a giant bait-and-switch that promised workers big pay raises, a lot more jobs and new investments, but they largely enriched CEOs and the already wealthy,” said Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness.

He noted only 4% of the US workforce saw any sort of pay increase or bonus from the tax cuts. Meanwhile, data collected by ATF shows corporations have cut thousands of jobs since the tax cuts were passed, while using tax windfalls to buy back $1tn of their own stock, which primarily benefits corporate executives and wealthy investors since half of all Americans own no stock.

This was in the midst of an article about how AT&T has terminated 23,328 jobs since the tax bill was passed after promising to invest $1 billion in capital expenditures and create 7,000 new jobs at the company if Trump’s hugely controversial tax cut bill was passed.

Is anyone shocked? Will anyone, besides Elizabeth Warren, make this a keystone of a run for the presidency? I would.

Mr. Trump claimed that the tax bill wouldn’t help him at all, so this guarantees that we won’t see any of his tax returns before the next election.

June 9, 2019

I Have Said It Before . . .

. . . and I will say it again. Say what?

The Guardian ran a story today “Can Trump win in 2020? This Pennsylvania county may be an indicator.” The subtitle for which was “Northampton county, Pennsylvania voted twice for Barack Obama before flipping for Trump – and could decide whether Trump gets a second term” What? A county in Pennsylvania voted for Barack Obama for president . . . twice . . . and then voted for Trump? What Red-Blue scenario, what White-Black scenario, what Rural-Urban scenario makes sense of that?

I’ve said it before . . .

The voters in this country were so fed up with the status quo (the rich get richer, the middle class and the poor get ground under their boot heels) that they voted in our first Black president. That should change things, no? Apparently not enough as Republican-Democrat infighting made sure “Hope” and “Change” were both little and infrequent. So, if that message didn’t get through, maybe the message of Donald Trump would.

Why don’t we try offering what the voters want? Candidates who aren’t bought and paid for by Wall Street and the major corporations and who will identify the will of the people and act upon that.

Novel idea, eh?

June 8, 2019

Let’s Use the Biblical Standard!

Recently, possibly because of GOP SCOTUS packing, any number of states have been passing egregious abortion laws. Actually, they would be better described as anti-abortion laws. I suspect that these are efforts to get one of these laws protested up to the Supreme Court to get them to reverse their Roe v. Wade decision, the one that made abortion legal in the U.S.

A mistaken notion of the anti-abortion folks centers on when an fetus can be declared to be a human being (or in some cases, they are referring to embryos, apparently from being ignorant or indifferent to human reproductive biology). Many of these people want embryos to be declared to be human beings at conception, but this is obviously not true, so is this a biological claim or just a political ruse?

I say this is a mistaken choice for the crux of the arguments because the real resistance is that these anti-abortion laws subvert a woman’s body to serve a fetus/embryo. The law currently does not allow any part of your body to be taken from you without permission, not a drop of blood or a tooth. Nor does it allow your body to be used by others without permission. You cannot be forced to donate blood, or kidneys, or any other part of your body through any legal procedure. Basically the law says your body is yours. Possibly because this is settled law, it being illegal to force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term against her will, is why the “antis” don’t mention this little “fact.”

So, let’s focus on their “when does a fetus become a human being” aspect of the debate.

Since many of the “antis” claim religious motivation, why don’t we just do what the Bible says?

Since abortion is not mentioned in the New testament, we are left to the Old Testament, aka Hebrew Bible, for our guidelines. Here are some indicators of what the Bible says:

Murder in Jewish law is based upon, where it is written: “He that smiteth a man so that he dieth shall surely be put to death.” The word “man” is interpreted by the sages to mean a man but not a fetus. Thus, the destruction of an unborn fetus is not considered murder. (Exodus 21:12)

Another scriptural passage is Leviticus 24:17, where it states: “And he that smiteth any person mortally shall surely be put to death.” However, an unborn fetus is not considered a person or nefesh and, therefore, its destruction does not incur the death penalty.

Turning to Talmudic sources, the Mishnah asserts the following: “If a woman is having difficulty in giving birth [and her life is in danger], one cuts up the fetus within her womb and extracts it limb by limb, because her life takes precedence over that of the fetus. But if the greater part was already born, one may not touch it, for one may not set aside one person’s life for that of another.”

Rabbi Yom Tov Lippman Heller, known as Tosafot Yom Tov, in his commentary on this passage in the Mishnah, explains that the fetus is not considered a nefesh until it has egressed into the air of the world and, therefore, one is permitted to destroy it to save the mother’s life. Similar reasoning is found in Rashi’s commentary on the talmudic discussion of this mishnaic passage, where Rashi states that as long as the child has not come out into the world, it is not called a living being, i.e., nefesh. Once the head of the child has come out, the child may not be harmed because it is considered as fully born, and one life may not be taken to save another.

The Mishnah elsewhere states: “If a pregnant woman is taken out to be executed, one does not wait for her to give birth; but if her pains of parturition have already begun [lit. she has already sat on the birth stool], one waits for her until she gives birth.” One does not delay the execution of the mother in order to save the life of the fetus because the fetus is not yet a person (Heb. nefesh), and judgments in Judaism must be promptly implemented. The Talmud also explains that the embryo is part of the mother’s body and has no identity of its own, since it is dependent for its life upon the body of the woman. However, as soon as it starts to move from the womb, it is considered an autonomous being (nefesh) and thus unaffected by the mother’s state. This concept of the embryo being considered part of the mother and not a separate being recurs throughout the Talmud and rabbinic writings.

Extracted from Biomedical Ethics and Jewish Law

And the New Testament is silent on the issue of abortion. Jesus and Paul ignored every chance to condemn it. If abortion was an important concern, why didn’t Jesus just say so?

So, using a Biblical standard, a baby becomes a human being. with all rights and privileges of a child, when it is being born, not at conception, not when a heartbeat is detected, not any other time.

Anyone speaking against this position is definitely anti-Christian and part of the War on Christianity. They must be stopped from desecrating the Bible and the holy words it provides.

 

June 3, 2019

Why Are There So Many Signs of Distress in a Supposedly Robust Economy?

Over at the Naked Capitalism website there is a post focused on the St. Louis area but I think has application all over this country—St. Louis Fed Study Shows Rising Level of Financial Desperation Among the Poor, Hidden by Aggregates by Yves Smith.

I have blogged recently on economic indicators, basically claiming that if you use indicators of economic health that basically measure the fact the “the rich are getting richer,” you aren’t looking at the right indicators. For example, using the health of the stock market as an indicator of how ell the economy is doing is ludicrous at best.

This post by the wonderful Yves Smith addresses a ZIP code by ZIP code analysis of economic measures of economic distress and wealth accumulation or the lack of it, etc. The basic point is using “aggregate” economic measures (aka averages) masks the real situation.

Also, the “traditional” (aka what has always been recommended) strategy to “get ahead” no longer works. As a youth I was told that if I worked hard, saved some money, and was careful I could achieve the American dream. Because of wage suppression, run away health care costs, and near zero interest rates on savings, this strategy is broke, busted, and we are disgusted.

People work hard, often with more than one job, but sky high rents and health care costs, suck up the majority of what is made and no savings accrue. Actually debt is increasing in the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.

My first full time job made me the grand sum of $9000 per year. Today, health insurance for a family of four is around $16,000 per year. Granted that there has been a considerable amount of inflation since then, but. . . . As another comparison, if one were to work a job, full-time: 8-hours per day, 5 days per week, with 11 unpaid holidays and no vacation, you would gross around $14,400. That’s gross, not net, so taxes (little in the form of income taxes, but payroll taxes) and whatnot have to be taken out to get at the actual amount of income this job would provide. If a household had two such jobs, the total net income might reach $26,000 or about $2170 per month. If this family is four in number (kind of an average) there will be no health insurance in that budget. Even subsidized health insurance would eat up quite a bit of that. In many areas of this country, that would barely cover rent and food, with transportation in the form of a family car (insurance, gas, maintenance) being out of the question.

It seems that the majority in this country now lives pay check to paycheck (I do) and that had been the case for most of the history of this country, but we were starting to get away from that after WW2. Now we are backsliding, with the skids being greased by the greedy rich who have bought Congress and much of the judiciary.

This is an interesting post and I recommend it to any interested in our current economic system.

Postscript Any politician who runs around claiming that the economy is robust or strong and beats their chest about it will be crushed at the polls in the next election. People are hurting and having smug elites tell them they are wrong to hurt will just increase the disaffection with the status quo that got us first Barack Obama and then Donald Trump. The GOP is likely to put up Donald Trump again and if the Dems decide on an avatar of the status quo (like Joe Biden) expect the repercussions to be severe.

 

 

May 31, 2019

Joe Biden—Just Say No

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 8:50 am
Tags: , , , , ,

The current front runner for the Democratic nomination for the office of president is former senator and vice-president Joe Biden. Nominating him would be a horrible mistake, so why is he a front runner?

The talking heads all mention the “electability” of Joe Biden. How they make this determination is not shared and it is very, very flawed. Joe Biden is not electable, even with Donald Trump as his opponent.

Think about it. In 2008, this very racist country elected its first black president. Why? I say “hope and change.” Ordinary Americans have become very, very tired of the elites saying things are just hunky dory when their lives are swirling down the toilet. The status quo is very nice for the elites as they are reaping almost all of the benefits of society and government but that status quo represents lower wages, insecure jobs, part-time employment instead of full-time and fewer fringe benefits if you are lucky enough to acquire a full-time job for the rest of us.

Mr. Obama runs for re-election in 2012 and who do the Republican choose but a smarmy rich guy, a more obvious icon of the former status quo as you can get and he loses, of course. But Mr. Obama promised hope and change and partially because of Republican intransigence and their own commitment to the status quo, the status quo gets disrupted very, very little and income and wealth disparities continue to rise. It also didn’t help that the Obama administration decided to bail out banks and their effing shareholders but not ordinary Americans from the ravages of the Great Recession.

So, then we arrive at the 2016 election and we have a choice between Hillary Clinton, another avatar of the status quo, and Donald Trump and we elect the execrable Donald Trump. Was there ever a greater statement of dissatisfaction with the way things were going than the election of Donald Fucking Trump to be President of the United States?

And people are now talking seriously about running Joe Biden for president. If he is selected as the Democratic nominee, expect four more years of Donald Trump. If you can say anything positive about our current POTUS is that he is definitely not acting like the people who got us into this mess in the first place. That he is acting in a very negative way doesn’t seem to matter to many voters who want ever so much something other than the status quo created by the post Viet Nam war era political parties.

 

 

 

May 26, 2019

The Law of Unintended Consequences, Still Unsurpassed

As conservative American politicians are doing their damnedest to pound a square peg into a round hole with regard to any issue involving women, they are accomplishing the exact opposite of what they want. They are undermining the societal structure they most value: the family. An article in The Guardian indicates why (Women are happier without children or a spouse, says happiness expert). Here’s an excerpt:

We may have suspected it already, but now the science backs it up: unmarried and childless women are the happiest subgroup in the population. And they are more likely to live longer than their married and child-rearing peers, according to a leading expert in happiness.

Speaking at the Hay festival on Saturday, Paul Dolan, a professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics, said the latest evidence showed that the traditional markers used to measure success did not correlate with happiness – particularly marriage and raising children.

“Married people are happier than other population subgroups, but only when their spouse is in the room when they’re asked how happy they are. When the spouse is not present: fucking miserable,” he said.

“We do have some good longitudinal data following the same people over time, but I am going to do a massive disservice to that science and just say: if you’re a man, you should probably get married; if you’re a woman, don’t bother.”

Men benefited from marriage because they “calmed down”, he said. “You take less risks, you earn more money at work, and you live a little longer. She, on the other hand, has to put up with that, and dies sooner than if she never married. The healthiest and happiest population subgroup are women who never married or had children,” he said.

As the benefits of family and children have shrunk substantially, the “duties” of the position of “wife” have escalated. Not only are they still obligated to all or most of the household management choirs and child rearing chores but are also expected to bring in a full-time salary. Would any man get married if they were offered the same “bargain”?

The “bargain” when I was a child was the wife stayed home and worked while the husband went out to work and “brought home the bacon.” This arrangement was reinforced by women being excluded from most jobs as being “unsuitable” or incompetent. The fact that women are doing all of those jobs now and just as competently as men or more so, gives the lie to that prejudice. It was also largely reinforced through societal memes: the bride as princess, mothers as Madonnas, the “fulfillment of marriage,” the wedding ceremony as mini-coronation, etc.

So, why would women take such a bad deal? Apparently, they are beginning to no longer do so in numbers. Their reward? Greater happiness, less strife; less pressure, longer life. If they choose to have children, there no longer is much of a stigma attached to single parenting and while raising a child by yourself might be daunting, it is certainly easier than raising a child while serving a man as maid, cook, errand runner, etc. and working a full-time job at the same time.

There is an axiom in politics that when a politician is undermining himself, don’t interrupt. Go, GOP, go!

May 25, 2019

Now I Understand!

Filed under: Economics,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 11:59 am
Tags: , ,

In a recent post (What, The Huge Trump Tax Cut Didn’t Prevent This?) I pointed out that the Ford Motor Company has been laying off employees and will be laying off even more in an effort to save money. I though this is what the huge tax cut given to corporations like Ford was supposed to solve.

Then I stumbled on this NYT graphic of the corporations in 2018 which paid no federal tax (some even receiving rebates!):

Stunningly FoMoCo was not on this list, which means they have been paying corporate income taxes! (Apparently three out the past ten years!)

No wonder they are having financial problems! Fools!

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