Class Warfare Blog

September 23, 2020

We Are Oh-So-Kind . . . to Ourselves

I was reading an article about some Native American archaeology and came to this statement “In the 1800’s, European settlers drove ancestral Wichita people from their native lands, leading to the destruction of their villages and communal traditions.”

I have made this point before but am still struck by the terminology.

If someone invaded your community and forcefully ejected you from your homes and farms, killing many of you in the process, would you refer to them as settlers . . . or invaders? Was not this land already “settled?” In this instance they are talking about a “city” of possibly 40,000 Native American inhabitants.

But European “settlers” “drove” the people off. It sounds like they are referring to cattle or buffalo which could be “driven” to another location.

By what right were these things done? Oh, God told them it was okay for the Europeans to make war on the indigenous peoples they encountered, in order to bring Christianity to the natives. Gee, you’d think this was an educational mission instead of a land grab.

At the time, Europe had recovered from the repeated decimation of the population of Europe due to the Black Plague and other plagues and was overpopulated. The “European settlers” were searching for land, land that could be tilled, land that could be mined, land that could make them rich. They came as soldier-farmers. They didn’t work in their fields without their guns nearby, because the people they stole the land from wanted it back.

These were not settlers. They were an army of invaders. And we are descended from them.

And President Trump wants our schools to teach that we did nothing wrong. Sure we took their land, but we gave them the Bible. From Mr. Trump’s perspective, this was a great deal, and American deal, an exceptional deal.

And the winners of the deal get to write and re-write the history any way they want. Mr. Trump’s way is what we will get if he is re-elected.

 

 

September 15, 2020

They Say They Are Against Wealth Redistribution

Filed under: Economics,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 8:40 am
Tags: , , ,

The Fat Cats of America say they are against income redistribution and wealth redistribution but once again, it is only one particular type of that: they are arguing against taxing wealthy people to provide of the rest of us (social safety net, universal health care, etc.). They are not opposed to wealth redistribution when they are doing it, however.

As I have mentioned over and over that the very wealthy in this country have been gaming the system for the past roughly 50 years to redistribute wealth out of your pocket (the many) into theirs (the few). This has been now documented in a new economic study and according to Time magazine (link) the amount of wealth transferred is staggering. Here is an excerpt of that article. (Note that they are talking trillions of dollars, not just billions . . . thousands of billions!)

“This is not some back-of-the-napkin approximation. According to a groundbreaking new working paper by Carter C. Price and Kathryn Edwards of the RAND Corporation, had the more equitable income distributions of the three decades following World War II (1945 through 1974) merely held steady, the aggregate annual income of Americans earning below the 90th percentile would have been $2.5 trillion higher in the year 2018 alone. That is an amount equal to nearly 12 percent of GDP—enough to more than double median income—enough to pay every single working American in the bottom nine deciles an additional $1,144 a month. Every month. Every single year.

“Price and Edwards calculate that the cumulative tab for our four-decade-long experiment in radical inequality had grown to over $47 trillion from 1975 through 2018. At a recent pace of about $2.5 trillion a year, that number we estimate crossed the $50 trillion mark by early 2020. That’s $50 trillion that would have gone into the paychecks of working Americans had inequality held constant—$50 trillion that would have built a far larger and more prosperous economy—$50 trillion that would have enabled the vast majority of Americans to enter this pandemic far more healthy, resilient, and financially secure.”

They have stolen enough money that had it flowed instead to the rest of us, it would have been “enough to more than double median income—enough to pay every single working American in the bottom nine deciles an additional $1,144 a month. Every month. Every single year.” That’s the bottom 90% of U.S. society were talking about, including you and me.

These are the same people who are against regulation of the markets . . . unless they are doing the manipulating themselves. Against all kinds of other things . . . for other people, but okay for themselves.

Wake up people, your house is being robbed . . . right now. Wake up and stop the robbery. They are stealing your retirement. They are stealing your kid’s futures. It doesn’t have to be this way.

The Time article’s bottom line? “We chose to cut taxes on billionaires and to deregulate the financial industry. We chose to allow CEOs to manipulate share prices through stock buybacks, and to lavishly reward themselves with the proceeds. We chose to permit giant corporations, through mergers and acquisitions, to accumulate the vast monopoly power necessary to dictate both prices charged and wages paid. We chose to erode the minimum wage and the overtime threshold and the bargaining power of labor. For four decades, we chose to elect political leaders who put the material interests of the rich and powerful above those of the American people.”

Actually the governmental representatives they bought did this all for them. We didn’t choose those things. We are only allowed to chose candidates that they have already bought. They did this, the filthy rich did this.

September 8, 2020

The Ten Convenient Commandments (How to Correctly Interpret These in a Modern Sense)

Filed under: Culture,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:31 am
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1 You shall have no other gods before me.

Okay, this does not apply to Trump worshipers. God will just have to take second place for a while. Oh, money, too. “No money, no life,” am I right?

2 You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

This doesn’t include all of the religious statuary in the Vatican or any of the paintings either. None of them statues and paintings in all of the local churches either, including those as stained glass windows. And those people who wear a crucifix pendant around their neck, that’s just good Christian behavior.

And while TV shows show a great many images “in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below” we just consider those as being special effects and besides, they go away when we turn the TV off, right?

3 You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

Jesus, of course not!

4 Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

This doesn’t apply to the wife who has to make the sandwiches and chili and serve the beer for the gang watching the NFL game. Those people on TV are all working on the Sabbath and we watch them do so with great glee, so they aren’t covered by this, otherwise they wouldn’t be allowed to do it.

5 Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

I hope they both got Social Security because I ain’t supporting them in their old age. Fuck that. I barely make enough as it is.

6 You shall not murder.

Okay, this is usually convenient so we can live with this one.

7 You shall not commit adultery.

Uh, mostly this should be obeyed, but geez, when the opportunity is hot, it is really inconvenient, so this is a “maybe yes, maybe no commandment.”

8 You shall not steal.

Obviously this doesn’t apply to filling in our tax forms. Cheating the federal government out of its legally dictated tax revenue is not like stealing from a real person. And taking a few things home from the office is not like stealing. We have put in extra hours that were not paid, so this is just payment for those hours, right?

9 You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

Of course not. That lying son of a bitch, however, never plays by the rules. I think he is a Scientologist and we all know how criminal those Scientologists are.

10 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Heck, if it weren’t for neighbor envy, none of us would struggle to get ahead in the rat race, am I right? Jeez, if I had a Mercedes like my neighbor has, I wouldn’t be jealous of him at all.

 

 

July 28, 2020

Motivations According to Conservatives

Unemployment insurance has been, irrationally, deeply controversial. It has always faced bitter opposition from conservatives who claim that it would discourage workers from seeking jobs.

This is a part of their “those people are lazy” mindset which is joined with the belief that if “those people” didn’t have to work, they wouldn’t.

Let’s see how this belief plays out if taken to heart.

In our “pay as you go culture,” you have to pay for everything: you pay for the food you eat, for the shelter over your head, and you pay for the utilities to keep that space livable, you pay for health care. You pay for all of this by getting a job that pays “enough.”

Let’s do an experiment—one that actually has already been done any number of times, but hey, this might be the first time you thought this through. Let’s offer someone who has one of those “keeping body and soul together” jobs, one that pays just enough to be able to pay the rent, keep the TV on, and feed himself (no family), the same amount of income, but he doesn’t need to go to work to receive it.

The conservatives will immediately see this guy in a hammock sipping a mint julep. He just got his ticket punched to Easy Street! Well, we all now know what “staying home” is like during this pandemic. Does it feel like Easy Street? “Are we not entertained?” So, after lolling about for a bit, this “lazy bum” we are paying to do nothing gets the idea that he could get a good job and really expand his income. After all, the government is covering his nut, but not for vacations, cars, or a family. Do, you think this guy would settle for another boring dead end job like he had before? I tend to think he would aim higher. If he applies for 10 jobs but doesn’t get one of those, what has he lost? He still has food and shelter, so he is not desperate. I think we can count on human ambition being at least moderately high. Having that minimum income to backstop him, he is less likely to settle, not more likely.

And what does this say about the shit jobs people were doing for poor wages? What would happen if people said “Why should I break my back for little more than the basic income I get automatically?” Quite a number of those jobs would go wanting. Consequently . . . if you believe in market forces . . . those jobs are not worth doing, or if they are, higher wages are going to have to be paid to entice people to do them.

And, what would a lot of people opting out of the job market do for those seeking jobs? Hmmm . . . fewer applicants for the same number of jobs means higher employment rates. Conservatives can’t argue this is false because they have been claiming for years that Mexicans, illegally in the U.S., are taking jobs away from Americans. We have argued that there aren’t a whole lot of Anglos seeking work in the roofing business in the Texas summer or in the fields picking vegetables, but the conservatives insist that Mexican “illegals” are taking those jobs away from Americans. If so, it has to work both ways. If poor people stop applying for the shit jobs they have been doing, there will be more jobs for Americans who want them.

Now, small business owners will complain (they have little power otherwise) that if they have to pay higher wages to keep people in the jobs they have on offer, they will go out of business. Again, let’s consider a small thought experiment. So, you Mr. Small Business Owner advertise for an employee to fill one of your shit jobs, and several desperate people apply. You pick one and you train them. They perform in a lackluster manner and quit or get fired after a short stint “on the job.” And so, you are back advertising for a replacement . . . again, which you will hire, train, and . . . well, I think you see the cycle. If, on the other hand, the job pays well, and this owner tells an employee they have to pick up the pace, they are much more likely to do so, because the impact of losing a higher paying job is greater. Many people won’t want to lose such a job and so will try harder. Fewer adverts get put, less time is spent training new employees, less over time is paid covering for employees who got fired/quit, etc. Which process is less expensive to the SB owner? I don’t think the answer is obvious.

Conservatives seem to think the very best motivation for poor people is desperation (you have all seen the drug company commercials showing poor people unable to afford the medicine their dependents need, the problem is not invisible). They, of course, reserve special scorn (“lazy and shiftless”) for the racial minorities who are poor, but all of the poor are painted with their wide brush. (They work out their schemes on the Black and Brown poor, and then they always bring it home on the White poor . . . always). On the other hand, in their lives and the lives of other white, privileged Americans, their salaries are more than adequate to meet a family person’s nut for the whole family, and while it may not be enough to pay for a McMansion, or private schools for the kids, and a Porsche, it is enough for cars, vacations, a paid healthcare plan, and a few splurges, etc., and the motivation preferred by this class is greed, pure and simple. They laud hedge fund managers and other financial fat cats as examples of what you can do if you apply greed to your work life.

So, basically, conservatives have very low opinions of the motivations that move people and I suspect that is because they have a low opinions of people in general, other than themselves and their close associates, of course. And I wonder where they learned to have a very low opinion of people . . . religion!

July 25, 2020

With Apologies to Lerner and Loewe

Musical theatre for 2020 and possibly the campaign song for Donald Trump’s re-election campaign:

Why can’t the poor be more like rich?
The rich are so honest, so thoroughly square;
Eternally noble, historically fair.
Who, when you win, will always give your back a pat.
Why can’t the poor be like that?

Why does every one do what the others do?
Can’t the poor learn to use their heads?
Why do they do everything their parents do?
Why don’t they grow up, well, like the rich instead?

Why can’t the poor take after the rich?
The rich are so pleasant, so easy to please.
Whenever you’re with them, you’re always at ease.

One rich man in a million may shout a bit.
Now and then, there’s one with slight defects.
One perhaps whose truthfulness you doubt a bit,
But by and large we are a marvelous sort!

Why can’t the poor take after the rich?
‘Cause the rich are so friendly, good-natured and kind.
Better companions you never will find.

Why can’t the poor be more like the rich?
The rich are so decent, such regular chaps;
Ready to help you through any mishaps;
Ready to buck you up whenever you’re glum.
Why can’t the poor be such chums?

Why is thinking something the poor never do?
And why is logic never even tried?
Applying for welfare is all they ever do.
Why don’t they straighten up the mess that’s inside?

Why can’t the poor behave like the rich?
If I were one of the poor who’d been to a ball,
Been hailed as royalty by one and by all;
Would I start whinging like a jilted lover,
Or carry on as if my home were in a tree?
Would I run off and tell no one where I’m going?
Why can’t the poor be like me?

Adapted from “Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man?” from My Fair Lady by Lerner and Loewe.

July 19, 2020

The “Respect My Beliefs” Campaign

Filed under: Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:09 am
Tags: , , ,

Note What you have come to expect on sabbath days, a religious post! Enjoy!

* * *

Well, maybe it is not a campaign, but it is a trope of the modern Christian movement. I have argued that any one demanding that atheists respect their religious beliefs is wrongheaded. You see respect is earned, not demanded. I acknowledge that people have such beliefs. I actually think that many are sincere in those beliefs, but respect them? No, not in the least. I do not respect anyone who elevates the supernatural, the mythological over the real. I just do not and will not.

And should not this be a two-way street? I firmly believe that sciences, especially foundational science like physics, chemistry, and biology are the best sources we have of information about the nature of reality. Are my beliefs respected? Not particularly, I guess they must be the “false beliefs” the religious rail about so often.

I see preachers telling us that the “Blood of Jesus” will save us from the COVID-19 disease (and then contracting it and dying, which should be a sign from god, but apparently . . . is not). I see people wanting to refuse medical treatment, even inoculations because of “religious beliefs.” These particular so-called beliefs actually endanger the rest of us by keeping a population of the disease ridden alive in our communities.

That other people are claiming that, for instance, being required to wear a mask and distance ourselves minimally from others violates our rights under the Constitution is equally ridiculous but doesn’t make the religious claims less ridiculous. And the religious are claiming special privilege for their beliefs.

Basically, I think you can have any cockamamie belief you want, but once you step into the realm of bad behavior, you lose my respect and you can even gain my opposition.

I just got off of Quora and someone summarized this point this way: “I think that any atheist who respects all god-based religions is a fool. Atheists, in being atheists, have no respect for gods, simply because they do not believe in them. So an atheist who respects god-based religions is respecting other people’s worship of the very thing that he or she does not believe exists, which is foolish.”

And . . . I keep coming up with additional points as I type . . . is the respect I should offer like the respect that Christian fundamentalists extend to Catholics? (They are not True Christians™.) or Muslims? Or any sane theists and Scientologists? Most religions don’t respect other religions because, well, they are just wrong, that’s why. So, we are supposed to respect all of them when they don’t respect one another. Talk about setting a high bar, much higher for atheists than for True Believers™.

July 12, 2020

The Rights of Kings

I just finished watching a documentary “Charles 1—Downfall of a King” (available on Amazon Prime Streaming Service) which covered a mere 50 days of British history that had rather profound ripple effects. Basically a deliberative body, the English Parliament, ousted a sitting monarch, Charles 1. Since this was in a time period ripe for copycatting, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and modern democracy can be claimed as children of this period.

British history is often interesting, but in this instance, the primary reason that Charles came a’cropper was that he believed in the divine right of kings, which he interpreted in his case to be that he rule according to his conscience and nothing else . .  by God’s will. (Interestingly all of these kings knew God’s will, but the priests did not because “no one can know the mind of God.”)

I wonder where old Charles got that idea? As with all matters religious he was brought up with that mindset and was indoctrinated from an early age (which he, in turn, did for his son).

Note that the idea, of course, came from the church but was welcomed by the royals. Both of those powers realized that if they fought for the ultimate power, one or both of them could be severely damaged. But if they became partners in power, they could reinforce one another and no institution or person could possibly be strong enough to oppose them. But, a monarch claiming the Divine Rights of Kings had better well be showing support of the clergy or he/she could be in for a rough ride. Similarly, a religion wanting state power had better get it or they could opt for another set of leaders.

So, this is a bit of a “lady and the tiger” situation. (Both the royals and the clergy considered the other the tiger, I believe.)

Charles was taking the laziest approach by ruling by divine right based upon his own counsel/conscience. If he had tried a more direct route, he would have to explain why Jesus, the God of Love, wanted him to kill all of those Irishmen, and all of those Scots. Sure, he could have had a whole crew of lackey spin meisters on tap to supply reasons why Jesus wanted him to take the actions he did, but at least he would have to justify his actions to someone/something.

I also found it interesting that the documentary’s host took umbrage on the part of Charles’s queen, who was accused of infidelity (indirectly) and the host thought this was foul play, even though at the time it was pointed out that Charles II, their son, was tall, had jet black hair and broad shoulders. Charles was short, with sandy hair and narrow shoulders. The queen’s suspected lover was tall, had jet black hair and broad shoulders and was constantly by her side.

Now, this may have been an unfair criticism at the time, but it was a criticism of that time and an historian is supposed to report the facts and not defend the honor of an aggrieved woman. And what wasn’t pointed out in this defense was that if anyone criticized the king or the queen directly, politically, factual, it was consider treason and would result in their immediate imprisonment and likely decapitation. The royals, being in power, got to make up rules that are illogical but protective of their “honor” and “dignity” that are capital offenses. I do not considered it unfair if ordinary people fight back with propaganda and fake news when direct criticism isn’t allowed.

Charles made an appalling string of bad decisions, most of them based upon his belief that his mere presence would awe any opposition and cow them into a defensive position, being God’s Own Agent Upon Earth, don’t you know. He actually believed he was ordained by god to rule over other people.

I don’t think there is a better argument for getting rid of all of the royals and the clergy they have conspired with to oppress ordinary people with their invented “special statuses.”

Also interesting was that part of the propaganda campaign used by the parliamentarians in this fight was the bogus claim that Catholics were preparing to invade England and impose their religion up the English.

It was pointed out that Charles’ French (and Catholic) queen was brought up in France where the concentration of Protestants, as a minority, was far greater that the concentration of Catholics in England and there was no persecution of the Protestants in France at that time. In this the historians committed the historical sin of leaving out context. The time we are talking about was 1642-43. Do you know what happened in 1517 and the following 130 years? It was called the Protestant Revolution. The protestors, starting with Martin Luther, were trying to reform the Catholic Church from its many corruptions. The result was entire new churches (Lutherans, Calvinists, etc.) instead, because the Catholic Church made little effort to reform itself. What it did do was make war. The Church was a major contributor of money, troops, political pressure, and what have you to make war on countries that harbored Protestants. (Realize that the Catholics had to believe that those who left God’s One True Church were going to Hell, but they just couldn’t wait, apparently.)

These religious wars were so vicious that they significantly lowered the population of Europe, so many people were killed. Catholic troops would ride through a village and act as court and executioner and if they felt there were many heretics in that village, rampage through and kill all of the civilians living there. This was not just a war of army against army.

England experienced the great joy of being a Protestant country, then a Catholic country, then a Protestant country again all because the ever changing monarchs decreed it so and then persecuted the priests of the out of favor flavor of Christianity. The residues of these wars led to this country’s Constitution being drafted with church and state being separated as the recent history of the religious wars fought in Europe were still on people’s minds and nobody wanted a part of that. Oh, and please do realize that for the entire time, all of the countries of Europe were Christian countries with state sponsored religions. The wars were between different varieties of the Christian religion. So, please, all of you “the United States is a Christian country” people can just fuck off.

June 15, 2020

GOP Has Been De-Funding the Police for Many Years!

Not surprisingly, anytime the federal government acted to police the activities of the rich, the GOP was there to oppose it or defund it.

Republicans are hypocrites. They happily ‘de-funded’ the police we actually need

 

 

May 19, 2020

Mr. Trump’s Administration (sic)

I have said quite a few times that President Trump is neither smart enough nor aware enough to receive credit or blame for many of the actions taken by “his administration.” He is responsible for his own actions and his own appointments, however, which are highlighted in these excerpts from Watchdog Was Investigating Pompeo for Arms Deal and Staff Misuse Before Firing  by Julian Borger in The Guardian (U.K.) today.

“The government watchdog who was fired last week had been investigating the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, for sidestepping Congress to approve arms sales to the Gulf and using staffers for personal errands, according to congressional sources.

“Donald Trump declared his intention to fire the state department inspector general, Steve Linick, in a letter sent to the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, late on Friday night. The White House said the decision was taken at Pompeo’s advice.”

“In his letter on Friday, announcing Linick’s dismissal, Trump said he no longer had full confidence in him. On Monday, he said he had never heard of Linick before being asked to fire him.

“’I don’t know him. Never heard of him,’ Trump said. ‘But they asked me to terminate him. I have the absolute right as president to terminate. I said who appointed him, and they say: President Obama. I said: look I’ll terminate him.’”

Mr. Trump has the ultimate defense against impeachment . . . “too stupid to know what he was doing.”

May 11, 2020

Texas Governor Declares Texans Fit for Guinea Pig Role

The Governor of the State of Texas is allowing businesses, including barber shops, to reopen. Since barber shops can scarcely function with distancing controls in place, I assume this means without any such controls. Other states are to follow.

I guess we should thank the Republican governors supporting Donald Trump for volunteering to be guinea pigs for this pandemic.

Since (a) we still do not have enough test kits available to determine an accurate count of such cases and (b) I do not trust these shitweasel politicians to report accurate counts even if they were, we will only have the numbers of deaths in Texas as a measure of their success or failure. Shitweasel politicians are always willing to send the able-bodied into wars, disease hotbeds, etc. as long as they themselves and their families are not at risk.

Interestingly, someone looked up the normal range of deaths for the months of the pandemic, nationwide, and that number is definitely not normal, that is it isn’t in the range of the numbers of people who would die over such a period. Interestingly the “overage” is about twice the number of COVID-19 deaths, so either those deaths are being under reported or there are secondary causes for these “extra” deaths, such as medical facilities being full of coronavirus patients and not enough care is available to go around to everyone.

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