Uncommon Sense

May 29, 2023

We Need to Get Rid of the Elites

What a mistake! In our pre-history we allowed certain people to assume authority over the rest of us. It wasn’t just as war band leaders, but that was part of it. We created priests and potentates and then they ruined our lives.

Those early elites established the pattern for those to follow them. They assumed an air of superiority and we, gullibly, accepted their superiority and therefore our inferiority.

Their first step was to absolve themselves from having to work for their living. Their efforts—to organize society, to interact with the gods, etc. meant that they had to be supported by the rest of the people. But their leisure and “important work” they adopted as their own lead them to feeling that they were special. From that point onward, these “elites” were driven by the sense that they were better than everyone else. And so thousands of years has passed and the same attitude has been in play. Today’s elites still think they are better than we are because their lives are provided with ease, wealth, opportunity, etc. In most cases that was inherited, not earned.

But what have they actually done for us?

They established the hereditary inheritance of power/money. So, their bairns became entitled little twats (see British royal family), learning the mantra of “We are better than the hoi polloi” with their mother’s milk (or at least their wet nurse’s).

They created caste systems/perpetual poverty. Since the castes act as cultural enforcement agencies, they made sure the poor stayed poor. In that way, the rich could ensure they stayed rich.

They even established a class system in the U.S. Americans assume they have a classless society, but that is just propaganda. Look around and you can see the classes of Americans quite easily (there are books available for more detail).

The elites gave us snobbery. By establishing rules of behavior, often nonsensical ones (we call them etiquette or manners), they were able to signal who was in and who was not, easily. Eat with the wrong fork—clearly you are a barbarian. Not pass the salt when asked for the pepper, clearly you are uncultured. Wear white after Labor Day? Oh, my heavens, what a maroon!

Invented mythology of the “self-made man” and others.

Embraced and adopted capitalism, based upon the unbridled greed of rich people, and called it “good” for all. (They considered the fact that capitalism puts no limits upon greed as a feature, not a bug.)

Invented mass slavery, bondage, serfdom, and marriage as ways of labeling people as property that they might own them. Note that is not owning the right to their labor, but their actual bodies, too.

I am sure I could come up with a list of the services elites provide, but no matter—whatever they are they are just too expensive. We need to find another way.

I am not advocating exterminating the elites, but modernity gives us better, more humane ways to eliminating their influence. We need to stop paying homage, for one. They do not deserve the respect they claim they are due because of their valuable service, as job creators and other imaginary “good things.” Ignoring them instead of praising them is a good start. But we need to pay close attention to them because of the dangers they pose. For example, calling Elon Musk and Donald Trump paragons of business is not only untrue, but feeding their egos to get them to do more and more outlandish things. And then we need to tax away their fortunes. Money is power, they say, and we need to strip them of their power. There are other things we can do, but stripping them of their actual capital as well as their social capital would be a good start.

And, Ayn Rand fans, I am not worried about the collapse of society were we to do this. There are many examples of stupid actions taken, for example when the Chinese were expelled from Malaysia (twice). Each time the economy collapsed and they needed to invite the Chinese-Malaysians back. But then it was the elites (hoity-toity Malaysians) ejecting hard working Chinese, not the other way around. The Chinese-Malaysians were doing vital work that just stopped when they were given the boot. Were the Chinese to have expelled the Malaysian elites, there would have been no effect such as a collapsing economy because those elites performed no effective labors.

Postscript Yes, this is being posted on Memorial Day, a day to remember proles who gave their all to protect the wealth and power of their lords and masters. What better way to teach us to act self-sacrificingly. (And don’t get your panties in a twist. I am not denigrating the heroism of soldiers sent into war (voluntarily or not). I just point out that prior to WW2, in the U.S. the vast majority of citizens wanted no part of the wars being waged in Europe and the Pacific theater. A Japanese mistake (attacking Peral Harbor without declaring war) followed by a German mistake (Hitler declaring war with the U.S.) lead us into both situations. It was the elites causing all the trouble; the people don’t start wars.

May 24, 2023

Florida Has Not Yet Gone “All In”

Florida’s current Republican majority has done amazing things so far. (Well, I am amazed anyway.) But they have yet to go all in on their current path. Here are a few things they could do to solidify that path.

Eject Disney World from the State
Clearly Disney is woke and getting woker. There is just no place for such a distorting corporation in Florida’s culture. Evict them. The 300,000 lost jobs and billions in revenue can be replaced.

Declare Florida to Be a Christian State
Stop being wishy-washy about your professed religion, you Floridian GOPers. You know you want it. Gotta have it. Do it. SCOTUS will back you up. When the other Confederate states follow, you will have a basis for a Constitutional amendment to make the whole country a Christian nation. (And you will be a Christian hero!)

Make Owning a Firearm a Requirement
The Second Amendment suck-ups aren’t willing to go this far, Florida can! Yahoo! Make it semi-automatic so the libs heads will explode!

Close All of Florida’s Public Universities
They are just grooming a new generation of atheists and preaching Critical Race Theory. Show them who’s boss. Florida can import educated people if any are really needed.

Convert All Public Schools to Charter Schools
They aren’t as good educationally but those damned teacher’s unions keep voting Democrat, so fuck ‘em. When they lose those cushy public school jobs and actually have to work for a living, they will wise up.

Declare All Interventions to Prevent Coastal Flooding Due to Climate Change Illegal
Since those interventions are wasteful, being based upon scientific hoaxes, we will all be better off.

Declare Florida to be a Democrat Free Zone
Democrats are drag queen loving, immigrant suck-ups that don’t deserve no respect. They need to leave Florida, now! This will make the state easier to run and a happier place.

Come on Florida! We are waiting on you to lead the way to a future full of promise, well, promises anyway. Don’t expect anything good to happen.

April 3, 2023

The Con of “The Side Hustle”

As the powers that be have stripped away fringe benefits and much of the salaries of the jobs on offer, leaving many of us struggling to just live month to month, a con was perpetrated upon us. Instead of honestly stating what they really think, “What you people need to learn is. . . ,” which is that rich people are superior and all y’all need to get by on what you can get, they stated that the cure for our poverty was . . . wait for it . . . entrepreneurship.

Can’t stand the shitty jobs you are being offered? Become your own boss! Create the job you want for yourself.

Right, you need to be a business owner, not a business employee, just like them!

What they do not tell you is that data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that approximately 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 45% during the first five years, and 65% during the first 10 years. Only 25% of new businesses make it to 15 years or more. And, “failure” usually means you lose all of the money, time, and effort invested in that attempt.

According to business owners, reasons for failure include their start-up money running out, being in the wrong market, a lack of research, bad partnerships, ineffective marketing, and not being an expert in the industry. Gosh could any of these apply to you?

This sounds like a soldier being encouraged to go explore a minefield.

But they have stopped giving that message. (When was the last time you heard the term entrepreneur? It used to be ubiquitous.) Now they are promoting “side hustles.” This is an effort, by you, to create your own job, while still working or seeking a traditional job.

The story goes that you work your “side hustle” until you are making so much money from that that you can quit your lame ass job or quit looking for one.

So, what are these “side hustles” being promoted? Here’s a sample:

  • One is to start your own accounting business from home! You can earn up to $69 per hour working from home, or so says Intuit QuickBooks, the accounting software brand.
  • Another is to become an Uber driver! Now that is a path to financial independence.
  • One genius suggests that you find free stuff on Craigslist that you can pick up locally and then sell on Craigslist!
  • Earn up to $25 per hour . . . delivering food through Doordash!
  • And, of course, selling thrift store finds on eBay.

As you can see this are just other shitty jobs you can do so that your total income is a little less shitty, but your life is way shittier.

Calling this entrepreneurship should be a crime. This is just “get another job you lazy bastard” in modern self-help speak, designed to get you to fall for their scams and keep you distracted from their wage and benefits thefts that put you in that position in the first place. You’ll be too bust scrabbling to join or form a union, for instance.

March 30, 2023

The Red State-Blue State Divorce Settlement

Ever since Marge Green (R-Georgia) said it was time for a divorce between the red states and the blues states we haven’t heard much from her about that topic. Maybe the divorce settlement talks weren’t going her way.

One of the key facts (Yes, Repubs, there are these things called facts; look up the term.) was that by and large the red states pay more in taxes than they get back from the Federal government in subsidies, services, etc.

A case in point: On a 7-4 party-line vote, a Florida Republican-dominated State Senate panel Monday rejected outright expansion of Medicaid under so-called Obamacare. So, instead of Floridians getting some of their federal taxes back, they get a dose of Republican ideology instead.

Of course, the Repubs offered an alternative, consisting of federal subsidies for private health insurance, so some of the Republican party donors can make a buck off of them. And, also of course, only 500,000 Floridians would get this deal instead of the 1,100,000 Floridians getting healthcare through a Medicare expansion. But then, all of this is to support poor people and we know what Republicans think of poor people, so I guess their attitude is “Fuck’em, they’re just the poor and they usually don’t vote anyway.”

March 16, 2023

The SVB Madness

The “collapse” of the Silicon Valley Bank is typical of today’s economic issues: much ado about nothing. The basic story is that the SVB experienced a bank run, which turned into a panic, and federal regulators stepped in and froze the bank’s assets and business.

Ideally, since the “bank run,” aka depositors rushing to remove their funds because they think the bank was in trouble, was based upon gossip, with a little time for things to settle down should have calmed the tribes and allowed normal business to continue.

The “problem” gossiped about was that the SVB had invested in large quantities of federal government bonds and mortgage bonds, long term. Were interest rates to stay at the historic lows that they have been, these would have been good very good, almost no risk investments. Since the Federal Reserve Bank has decided to raise interest rates for no good reason, then those investments are going to realize much smaller gains than predicted. Basically, those bonds will sell, eventually at a profit, just smaller than predicted. The SVB will lose predicted profits, but the question is how much? And could SVB cover those lost gains. We haven’t heard yet, but I suspect that they could.

So, the “depositors,” many of who deposited millions of dollars, knowing full well that the FDIC account insurance only covers deposits up to $250,000, are now clamoring for the federal government to step in and cover their entire deposits.

Too bad, so sad, this is what the Republicans have always referred to as “vagaries of the market.” Do something stupid, and you pay a price. But that attitude was really the attitude of the Republicans of old. Today it is “socialism for the rich, social Darwinism for the non-rich.”

So, if the U.S. government steps up and “insures” the entire bank accounts of all depositors and pays those depositors off, it would then own the SVB. Its assets are not insubstantial and it may get most or all of its money back.

But the motive for guaranteeing those deposits seems to be “to restore confidence in the banking system.” Gosh, all of my friends could be in that position: millions on deposit and not insured—not! What would actually restore confidence would be for the chips to fall where they may and ordinary citizens would see that the government didn’t exist to just bail out the rich. What ordinary citizens think now is that banks are scum sucking, double dealing sons of bitches that will foreclose on your house at the drop of a hat but run for cover the minute rich people are involved.

Confidence in the banking system, my ass. Show me that it works as described and I will gain confidence. Until then, it is the same old shuck and jive from the plutocrats running the government for their benefit and we can go suck eggs, if we could afford them.

March 9, 2023

Systemic Racism? Never Heard of It

Right-wing Republicans (Are there any other kinds any more?) are fond of denying that there are no after affects of black slavery in this country and pooh-pooh that claim that systemic racism even exists.

An article in The Guardian yesterday stated:

“When Paul Austin and Tenisha Tate-Austin had their home assessed by an appraiser in 2020, they learned it was worth $995,000. So the Black couple, who purchased their home in December 2016 and spent thousands in renovation costs over the years, decided to get a second opinion. They “white-washed” their property and had a white friend pose as the homeowner. Weeks later, a different appraiser assessed the house’s value at $1,482,500.

“The couple sued for discrimination.”

We certainly wouldn’t want those black folks to have enough money to buy into another white neighborhood and we want to make it easier for a white couple to replace this black couple . . . wait, WTF?

Anyone doubting the existence of systemic racism is exposing willful ignorance. The federal government has admitted to creating a red-lining program that prevented black and brown people from even securing federal or even private loans on houses in white neighborhoods, for Pete’s sake.

And I assume every denial of systemic racism begins with a prologue starting with “I am not a racist, but . . . “ This should be a clear sign the speaker is a racist, because if you feel you have to deny it, you are about to utter some racist bullshit.

Oh, and the Austins won their case.

And, if you still have doubts The Guardian article went on to state that a pair of researchers “analyzed more than 47m appraisal reports collected from licensed appraisers between 2013 and 2022. The data had been made public for the first time, a decade after Howell and Korver-Glenn (the two researchers SR) first pursued it.

They found the gap between the home values of white homeowners and homeowners of color widened over the last decade. When unpacked by race, the results were staggering: appraisers valued homes in white neighborhoods two and half times more than homes in Black neighborhoods. For homes in Latino neighborhoods, the gap is larger, despite the fact that the value of the Latino residents’ homes were bigger than Black residents’.

Systemic racism doesn’t exist my ass.

Shame, What’s That?

Fox (sic) News, caught red-handed lying about Donald Trump’s Big Lie (The election was stolen, the election was stolen!), apparently has been skillfully editing the footage from the Capitol’s security cameras provided it by Speaker McCarthy (indicating a New McCarthyism?) showing the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. capitol to be just a few tourists getting rambunctious.

When asked if they had no shame about continuing their program of lies, Fox (sic) News leaders said, “Shame, what’s that?”

March 6, 2023

The Origins of Cancel Culture Panic

It seems as if the GOP has lost what little mind it has left over things like Drag Queen library readings and the “cancel culture.”

These distractions are in a stream of idiocies including trigger warnings and blasphemy laws. It seems that college students get as far as they have without growing a spine. They seem to want to be warned whenever a topic might disturb them emotionally or relate to personal experiences they have had, or . . . God forbid, ideas that challenge their religious beliefs because, well, I guess, God forbids.

Back when I was in college, students were a fairly passive group. But then the Student Movements began: initially, college students protested against social injustices like poverty, the unfair treatment of African Americans, and freedom of speech on college campuses. They later shifted their focus to opposing the Vietnam War, aka the anti-war movement, which greatly offended “conservations” (so much so they got revenge by preventing student loans from being discharged in bankruptcy).

So, now when a speaker is invited to a campus and holds beliefs opposed to what many students hold, students will protest and speakers engagements get “cancelled,” hence the “cancel culture.” This has expanded to hiring and firing job scenarios, political campaigns, entertainer performances, and whatnot.

Republicans especially object to “Woke cancel cultures” because they are focused upon racial and social justice issues. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis (FL) has declared his state as the place where “woke goes to die.” This is a strange position for a party which has based many nationwide political campaigns on what are called the culture wars, in which the GOP is the Russians invading everyone’s else calm states.

So, the cancel culture panic? Fostered by the egregious Fox (sic) News, this is an elevation of a trivial movement to Armageddon-like status. At the most recent CPAC meeting, Nikki Haley, a GOP presidential candidate, stated “Wokeness is a virus more dangerous than any pandemic, hands down.” (Quick, shoot it! And I will bet their “cure” will involve neither masks nor vaccines.))

Apparently, the Republicans are following in the steps of precious college students who cannot handle the emotional or intellectual stress of having their ideas challenged. And like those students, who are ignoring a major reason for going to college is to have your ideas challenged, the GOP does not want any opposition to its politics, worldview, or actions. The truly alarming thing is that they are using fascistic tools to enforce their way by canceling whole swaths of our culture. In Florida, you had better not be caught teaching Black History, of with the book “Jennifer has Two Daddies” in your school library. And whole groups of people are being denied official acknowledgement of their existence; Florida is even considering banning Democrats!

The students adopted a culture of canceling activities they didn’t agree with. The GOP has moved the dial up to 11 by cancelling whole swaths of their culture they don’t agree with.

Ah, how terms evolve.

March 1, 2023

SCOTUS Tackles Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Program

As reported on the ArcaMax news site:

“The Supreme Court’s conservatives gave a sharply critical hearing Tuesday to President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive more than $400 billion in student loans, arguing that only Congress could approve such a large amount of federal spending.

“Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh said he was skeptical of allowing the executive branch to create ‘a massive new program’ based on a vaguely worded old law.

“He was referring to a 2003 law adopted at the time of the Iraq War allowing the Education secretary to ‘modify or waive’ any student aid program ‘in connection with a war or other military operation or national emergency.’

“But before the justices can rule on Biden’s plan, they must first decide whether anyone has legal standing to challenge it in court. Typically that means some person or entity, including states, must show they are or will be harmed by a law or government action.

“Taxpayers do not have standing to sue to stop the government from spending money, and it’s not clear if anyone could show they will be hurt if the government forgives another person’s loan.”

Wait, Brett Cavanaugh “was skeptical of allowing the executive branch to create “a massive new program” based on a vaguely worded old law.” Did not Justice Thomas recently quote a 17th century precedent when axing Roe v. Wade? So, 2003 is now “old”? And “‘modify or waive’ any student aid program ‘in connection with a war or other military operation or national emergency’” is vague? Seems clear to me; “modify or waive any student aid program” couldn’t be any clearer. Has he not heard of the War on Terror currently going on (. . . and on, and on, and on, . . .)?

Oh, so giving away billions in tax relief to billionaires is okay but giving anything to students doesn’t pass the sniff test?

February 16, 2023

I Think the Idea of Gender Identity is Wrong

This is a hot topic for discussion right now so I find myself doing some thinking about it. By stating my thoughts, I feel as if I were holding a lightning rod over my head in a storm, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The basics are clear cut: sex is biological and gender is socially defined. Is anyone arguing against that? There is some confusion generated by an unwillingness to use the word sex in such discussions as being too close to the topic of sexual intercourse, which is the subject of many taboos, but that is a trivial problem as I see it.

Apparently people with axes to grind claim that there are a great many genders in existence (near a hundred and growing!). Since we are free to define whatever the heck we want, this has been done. But this is a little like stating how many colors are in a rainbow. The obvious answer is that there are a tremendous number of colors in that smear, but we are trained to state that there are seven: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. But between yellow and green in lime green, and, well, you know. All colors are not even represented there as there is no brown, pink, or myriad other colors.

Genders are like the rainbow, there are spectra involved. So, biologically, there are two sexes (by and large, there is a tiny fraction of births classified as intersex). There are two primary genders assigned by society: male and female. But the expression of these genders varies all over the map. At one end of the male gender are effeminate men, or as Arnold Schwarzenegger would say, “girly men.” Some of these males like to dress up in women’s clothing and are considered “cross dressers.” (Like Eddie Izzard; I love Eddie Izzard!) At one end of the female gender are females who grew up as “tomboys” and then became “butch females,” wearing plaid work shirts, Timberland boots, and denim pants instead of dresses. It seems like the male and female extremes overlap the other spectra. In addition to these gender expressions are sexual expressions: men who love only other men, women who love only other women, and every other combination under the Sun.

The problem with slicing and dicing humanity this way is it enables prejudice based upon division. One of the tools used by the rich to keep the common people distracted with their running the country to their likes with us picking up their tab, is to undermine solidarity, human solidarity. One sure way they do that is to create “others.” For example, “those LGBTQ folks are not like us, eww.”

So, the Balkanization of human expression is a mistake, in my book. Such folderol undermines human solidarity. We all deserve equal rights in this country, but the uber-rich don’t want us to have the same rights as them. So, they divide us to be able to conquer. And encouraging individuals to choose a gender identity just plays into the farce. If I got to choose an identity when young it would have been Batman or Superman, not “adamas gender” which apparently is a gender that is indefinable or indomitable. People identifying with this gender refuse to be categorized in any particular gender identity. So, by identifying as this gender, you are eschewing a gender identification? WTF? Why not call yourself a “None of the Above?”

Conservatives really bristle at such displays as they are more wedded to authoritarianism and compliance with social norms, but liberals are just as fussy about other things. We are both letting our “natural” inclinations be used against us by our real enemies, the aggressively wealthy.

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