Class Warfare Blog

June 14, 2018

What Harm Does It Do?

Often when the topic of religion comes up in online and other debates a point pushed is “It is harmless. What harm does it do?” I mentioned in a recent post that I have been working my way through Jerry Coyne’s Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible (Penguin Publishing Group, Kindle Edition). As to what harm religion does, Professor Coyne offered this rather brilliant quotation:

“John Shimkus, a congressman from Illinois, went even further, quoting from the Book of Genesis when testifying in 2009 before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment:

Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood, and never again will I destroy all living creatures as I have done. As long as the Earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease’ [Genesis 8: 21– 22]. I believe that’s the infallible word of God, and that’s the way it’s going to be toward his creation. . . . The Earth will end only when God declares it’s time to be over. Man will not destroy this Earth. This Earth will not be destroyed by a flood. I appreciate having panelists here who are men of faith, and we can get into the theological discourse of that position. But I do believe God’s word is infallible, unchanging, perfect.

Arrogance on display. I get to punch this punching bag as he is from my home state.

Regarding “The Earth will end only when God declares it’s time to be over.” This is scripture according to this person. Christian scripture says no such thing. And we are not talking about Earth ending, we are talking about leaving enough resources for our children to have lives that are relatively full. If you are religious, do you want your children living in squalor and danger as they await the Second Coming?

Regarding “Man will not destroy this Earth.” Of course not, it is fucking planet. We do not have the means to destroy it. But we can make it almost impossible for it to support a population of people of any size if we keep going in the rapacious manner we have been going. We currently harvest nature’s bounty, for profit, until the harvested resource is all used up, then we go make money some other way. Think about all of the abundant fishing sites that no longer have any fish to catch or lakes that have had all of their water “diverted.” Think about soils so depleted they won’t grow anything any more. There are spots in the Gulf of Mexico that no longer support life (they are called “Dead Zones”) because of all of the agricultural chemical runoff funneled to it by the Mississippi River. None of these actions will “end the Earth” but a few more like them will end life on Earth as we know it.

Regarding “This Earth will not be destroyed by a flood.” Scripture doesn’t say anything about destroying half of Florida or the coastal Northeast which will be underwater in less than 100 years. The Earth will not be destroyed, it says, but that claim doesn’t cover just the coastal plains; they can “die” any time.

So, according to this moron, our climate change playbook is to be a 2-2500 year old book that has not a single correct scientific fact in it. Ah, the power of faith, especially in an ignoramus with just enough brain cells to get elected to state office with the help of his Christian friends.

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April 29, 2018

Wither Public Education?

I was reading a comment recently that in the U.S. no one expects to be given housing or food and drink or medical care, but all parents expect their children to be given a good education. The “why” of this was immediately apparent … because we have already paid for it. Education is funded through property taxes and state taxes with a smidgen of federal funds thrown (but always with strings attached, so those are not funds to support ongoing efforts). If you are a homeowner and say that you are unfairly singled out for these taxes, please realize that those of us who do not own our homes (of which I am one) pay rent, which is used by the rental unit’s owner to pay his property taxes. And we all pay income taxes or other taxes to our states. We are also not paying just for our own kid’s educations, but everyone’s, as part of the commonweal.

So, in our “pay as you go” culture, we have paid for the “go” but it is currently under attack.

As a scientist and a trained meeting facilitator and a sports coach I know that the most important part of solving problems is the careful elucidation of what the real problem is. If you misidentify the problem, the odds of you solving it plummet.

With regard to public education, the problems have been misidentified for years. Starting roughly in 1983 with the publishing of a major (and very flawed) study given the title of “A Nation at Risk,” which launched the false narrative that American public schools were failing, a systematic false narrative about “the problem” was being proffered. The nation, at the time of that study, was in the throes of a recession, and the authors of the report blamed the schools, which is patently stupid because the lag period between youths being in public schools and being out in society where they can have a major impact on the economy has to be measured in decades. Nothing happening now could be caused by the state of schools now; twenty years ago, maybe.

In any case, since that time a major disinformation campaign has been continuously waged against public schools (they are failing and the sky is falling, too). The current object of that campaign is to “privatize” public schools so as to extract profits from them. The justification for the profits is as spurious as the disinformation about what is wrong with our schools. The justification is that “market forces,” aka “school choice,” will solve all of the problems. This is a belief in what I call “market woo” and really should be advanced by “experts” dressed up as witch doctors because it has as much value as does spiritual medicine. The real justification for the profits is the profits themselves. Being able to extract profits from the huge pile of money set aside to educate our kids is the primary motive and it has the oligarchs drooling.

As to the “real problem” with public schools I offer the following: if you segregate out public schools in relatively wealthy parts of the U.S., you will find that they perform at very high levels. Massachusetts public schools, for example, perform on international tests higher than the current darlings of those tests, e.g. Singapore, Finland, etc. This fact alone obliterates the claim that government cannot do public schools well.

Now, if you think I am going to follow this up with a claim that schools are underfunded, you will be quite wrong. They are often underfunded and that is part of the problem, but school funding alone will not make the schools that are not performing at a high level do so. (The wealthy cannot claim that school funding is not an issue when they are sending their own children to schools that have very high levels of funding.) Careful studies show that there are real roadblocks to performance in schools. (Hint: teacher competence is not a major concern here, even though that has been part of the misinformation smear campaign of the oligarchs.) The roadblocks are poverty, racism, and violence. In school districts where the students are chronically hungry and receive threats of violence on a frequent basis, we now have solid research showing that almost nothing else can be done to raise performance up to the levels of schools in which these forces are absent. Asking the schools to fix these problems is stupid. We can ameliorate them a little. We can escort students to and from schools, but they are being preyed upon in the neighborhoods as well. Fear for one’s physical safety is an all-consuming distraction. We can provide school breakfasts and lunches (and I recommend we do that for all students) and by so doing that we can ameliorate the effects of hunger on being able to concentrate in class. (My son wrote a history of school lunch programs, so we have a great deal of history with regard to what does and does not work in that, plus we have examples in other countries as to what is possible.)

It is now clear that the “reformers” claims of the value of vouchers and charter schools are bogus. These “solutions” were proffered as solutions for “the problem.” Since the problem was a false construct in the first place, the solutions were hardly likely to work and have been proven not to. They also have unleashed a tide of corruption as fly-by-night charter operations which have bilked states out of many millions of dollars. This has become such a common event that a premature closing of charter schools has become commonplace.

This is a con, pure and simple. The con artists (in order to extract our money) established “the problem” and “the solution.” (Any time the problem and solution come from the same source, you know it is a con.) The con artists did a good job of obfuscating who is behind the scam, but we can see it all now. And politicians, who are receiving “campaign donations” from charter schools(!!), are always willing to “serve the public” by giving us what we want: “school choice.” But we don’t want school choice, that is their solution. We want the good education for our children that we have paid for.

A careful consideration of the real issues shows that the “crisis” in our schools was not there in the first place. The real problems center on inconsistency. We demonstrate, on a daily basis that we can “do” public schools very, very well but we also demonstrate that we are willing to accept a very much lower standard of performance in some schools. Much of this attitude is racist and some is politically and religiously motivated, but it does not solve “the problem.”

If we want to continue the “pay as you go” system we have created, with all of its incentives, what is the incentive in crippling some of our citizens with a poor education, so they cannot earn enough to pay for a decent life for themselves and their families? The answer is that there is none, that the effort to undermine the education of the poor is fueled out of animus and this just has to stop.

We can start by “calling bullshit” on the public education reformers. If you need any ammunition, any of Diane Ravitch’s recent books will do (Reign of Error or The Death and Life of the Great American School System, etc.) And do realize that our democracy is teetering. While we should be making efforts to strengthen it, it is being undermined by authoritarian rich assholes and one of their leverage points is public education. Privatize that, let public schools wither away, and our democracy is in extreme peril.

April 17, 2018

Taxing the Rich: A Good Idea or Not?

To those whom much is given, much is required.

The standard narratives regarding not taxing the rich are quite bankrupt but are still used, much like the tired old arguments of religious apologists (there is always a new audience to whom these arguments make sense). The usual thing touted is that the rich are the job creators and if you tax them (at all?) they won’t take risks and start new companies which hire workers and we all suffer thereby.

As a counter narrative consider the story of Toys R Us, a huge entrepreneurial success story, which ended in a financial meltdown. The company, however, made its owner rich when individual and corporate taxes were ever so much higher and met its demise in a time when those taxes became ever so much lower.

Read this fascinating story here.

The “standard narrative” of the rich about the rich is they made their money “themselves,” so they “deserve” the rewards. But in reality, does anyone make it themselves? Or is it like personal gifts one is born with and developed, in which we deserve some credit for the development but much of what happens to us and because of us depends upon things like genetics, luck, externalities (like available electricity and good roads provided to all), circumstances of birth (being born into a rich family is a strong marker for “becoming” rich)?

November 21, 2017

Teachers Unions? Bah, Who Needs Them?

Six years ago, the state of Wisconsin passed the highly controversial 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, which virtually eliminated collective bargaining rights for most public-sector workers, as well as slashed those workers’ benefits, among other changes.

As Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) argued, “We no longer have seniority or tenure. That means we can hire and fire based on merit, we can pay based on performance. That means we can put the best and the brightest in our classrooms and we can pay them to be there.”

Well, did they?

What do you think will happen to an employer who slashes wages and benefits? People will leave their employ. Who leaves first? The people who have the most confidence they can find another job, that is the best workers. Who stays. The sluggards, the unimaginative, the fearful … not all, of course, but a higher concentration of these stay. (Studies have shown this to be the case.)

Action Reaction
An analysis of the effect of Act 10 has found:

  • In the year immediately following the law’s passage, median compensation for Wisconsin teachers decreased by 8.2 percent in inflation-adjusted terms, with median benefits being cut by 18.6 percent and the median salary falling by 2.6 percent. Median salaries and benefits continued to fall during the next four years so that median compensation in the 2015-16 school year was 12.6 percent—or $10,843 dollars—lower than it was before the passage of Act 10.

  • The percentage of teachers who left the profession spiked to 10.5 percent after the 2010-11 school year, up from 6.4 percent in the year before Act 10 was implemented. Exit rates have remained higher than before, with 8.8 percent of teachers leaving after the 2015-16 school year— the most recent school year for which data are available.
  • The percentage of teachers with less than five years of experience increased from 19.6 percent in the 2010-11 school year to 24.1 percent in the 2015-16 school year.
  • Average teaching experience decreased from 14.6 years in the 2010-11 school year to 13.9 in the 2011-12 school year, which is where it remained in the 2015-16 school year.
  • Interdistrict moves—when a teacher leaves one Wisconsin district to teach at another the next school year—has increased from 1.3 percent before the passage of Act 10 to 3.4 percent at the end of the 2014-15 school year.

Are you surprised?

The False Narrative
The core of the false narrative is in plain sight; it is “That means we can hire and fire based on merit, we can pay based on performance.” This is a business model. The problem is that in a business, the “boss” owns the company (or the boss’s boss or the …). The owner has the right to hire and fire inherent in his ownership. In a public school, the “owner” is the public, the taxpayers of the school district. There is no mechanism by which those owners can fire anyone (by state law). Prior to Act 10, the “owner” of each school district elected a school board which carried out negotiations with the employees to determine wages and working conditions. In no school district of which I am aware are teachers getting rich. When you think of employees getting rich, you think of doctors, lawyers, stock brokers, high level executives, but teachers … not so much. Having high educational attainment did not result in abnormally high wages for teachers, but there were tradeoffs: instead of higher salaries, better benefits and working conditions were offered and accepted, through negotiation. Act 10 chopped the head off of local control and took it over at the state level. (Republicans in favor of local control? Not so much.)

So, how did the minions of the schools (principals?) do in hiring the best and the brightest? How did they do in paying for performance? How did they do with getting the bums out of the racket? Aren’t these business types always talking about how important good management is? Was there any effort to improve the quality of the people in charge? No? (No.)

As usual, the actual motives for Act 10 was not in the bullshit offered by proponents. The Koch Brothers-fueled politician, Scott Walker, was executing a typical anti-union action for the billionaire class. Unions are the only organization with enough power to resist the oppression of workers by employers, hence they have to go. (Plus they tend to vote Democrat.)

But actions have reactions. Too bad Scott Walker doesn’t feel any of the reaction … just the teachers and the students and the “owners” of the school district. The Koch Brothers, in reaction, kept pouring money into Scott Walker’s presidential candidacy and into his gubernatorial re-election campaign coffers. If you want quality workers, you gotta pay them!

October 20, 2017

The Brilliant Ian Welsh

I have recommended Ian Welsh’s work to you before. This follows on the topic of my post “Everything is Coming Together, and It Does Not Look Good” but was originally written four years ago.

How Our Everyday Life Creates Our Character and Our Destiny

October 17, 2017

The MOTB, Another Billionaire Sponsored Culture Abuse

In a review of the soon-to-open Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. a reviewer in The Guardian said “More unexpectedly, a display on the Bible’s influence around the world makes claims for links between science and the Bible and contains statues of Galileo Galilei, whose claim that the earth revolved around the sun was challenged by the church, Isaac Newton, a devoted student of the Bible, and George Washington Carver, who rose from slavery to become a scientist, botanist and inventor and regarded the Bible as a guide to the natural world. Likely to raise eyebrows, an information panel states: ‘Are the Bible and science mutually exclusive? There is broad agreement today among historians that modern science owes a great deal to the biblical worldview. The idea that the natural world is orderly springs from the Bible. As the biochemist and Nobel laureate Melvin Calvin said, the conviction that “the universe is governed by a single God … seems to be the historical foundation for modern science”.’”

Many modern Christian spin doctors also claim the Bible as the source of inspiration and knowledge for all of science … but (you were waiting for that but, weren’t you) … you won’t find mention of it in history of science classes. Once again, we must look into Christian history to find why this impression exists at all. There were two famous Christian spin doctors, possibly the most famous of all (although there were others), so famous they are referred to as Doctors of the Church (Spin Doctors of the Church?), Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas. The Church “fathers,” meaning the prominent politicians of the early church, knew that they had a handle on the theological end of the faith (although they fought wars over it for about 1500 years—yes, actual wars with millions being killed and dying from associated causes) but they didn’t have levers to control all of society. So, Augustine folded a great deal of Greek philosophy into Christianity for them, as one would fold whipped egg whites into a soufflé. Greek ideas of politics and economics and whatnot became Christian doctrine, if not supported even vaguely by scripture, then by “tradition.” (The Catholic Church is very big on “tradition” as it allows them to invent their own history and then claim it has always been done that way or it was passed down to them from disciples of Jesus, even though there is no independent corroboration such people even existed.) So, now Christians had support for their efforts to control politics and economics, etc. (Remember it is all about control fueled by greed for wealth and power.)

Thomas Aquinas became a Church Doctor predominantly by folding in science, mostly the science of Aristotle, which is why most of the science in the Bible is wrong. The influence of Aquinas on science was so strong that people who subscribed to his ideas were referred to as Thomists.

According to the Christian spin doctor Aquinas, while you live on this earth, you belong to a single natural order, and you must conduct yourself in accordance with its laws. The presence of the natural law in all men also meant that there must exist a community of all men. Aquinas should have patented Natural Law or trademarked it; we still have Supreme Court justices referring to “natural law” for Pete’s sake. Will someone please tell those people that the idea of natural law is spin, sheesh!)

The Thomists then developed a very complex set of explanations that underpinned what had by then become the orthodox definition of humanity. But their basic claim was that natural law was made accessible to all humans, no matter what their origins, by means of what they called “first precepts” that had been inscribed in the minds of all human beings—hard-wired, so to speak—by God at the creation.

These “first precepts” were not simple instincts, such as animals (and humans) possessed. They constituted what were called “innate ideas” or “innate senses.” They allowed humans to see the world God had created as it really was, which meant that they allowed the rational human animal to recognize God’s existence and then to distinguish between good and evil and to act accordingly.

Brilliantly, they went on to describe moral instincts the same way: the first precepts of the natural law, they thought, allowed you to know that killing, theft, rape, incest, the eating of human flesh, and so on were all unnatural. They could be summed up in the commandment “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” These same people, though, could not offer much guidance about all the myriad codes of conduct, the habits and customs of which all societies are composed. They did not tell you that modesty and the wearing of clothes was natural, as was offering hospitality to strangers. This was where reason came in. The rational mind, acting on the innate first precepts, could deduce what codes were natural and what were contrary to nature. The problem was that the further you traveled from the initial “innate” idea, the more specious the idea became. You could, therefore, only be certain that your particular deductions were correct if they coincided with those of your fellows. This “common persuasion,” as it was called, was your sole guarantee, not because the community must always be right, but because God had created all men’s minds alike. Ta da! As we now know, morals are human constructs created to mutual advantage through human interaction. Aquinas highjacks this real source of morals and co-opts it into his faith so that people who know the truth cannot wedge it between the faithful and their faith because they already have a built-in source for where morals come from. (These Christian spin doctors (at least of old, the moderns are lame in comparison), were very clever in making up stuff to please their sponsors and help them control us “farmer-types” for century after century.)

The same happened with the science of Aquinas; it was highjacked for Jesus. Unfortunately Aquinas didn’t have high quality science to highjack, but he did have a complaint culture, one in which “universities” were for example run by clerics, selling the company line every day of every academic term. (Ordinary people didn’t concern themselves with such weighty matters, they were too concerned where their next meal might come from.) It became a matter of common knowledge that all of nature was created by the Christian god and all physical laws were manifestations of the same god. So, it is no surprise that scientists like Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, George Washington Carver, and Melvin Calvin assumed that their god was behind it all, as that’s what the propaganda had been for hundreds of years prior. They have also since been proven wrong in that assumption, but that is okay, being wrong is part of science, we just make corrections and move on. It is a shame the same is not true of religion as this museum is telling the same lies that have been told for thousands of years now.

The statement on their placard “There is broad agreement today among historians that modern science owes a great deal to the biblical worldview” is a lie. There is no such broad agreement. In fact, if you laid out all of the science in the Bible, you couldn’t read as much as part of a page without bursting out laughing. The Earth is flat, supported on pillars, the stars are on the firmament (a dome over the flat Earth). The earth is the center of the universe and the Sun and other planets and all of the stars rotate around it. Rabbits chew their cud, like cows do. Serpents talk. Disease is caused by demons possessing the afflicted. Pigs can be stampeded by demons. Fig trees will die if cursed. People are resurrected from the dead. There is so much nonsense one is really hard pressed to find any scientific sense at all. The billionaire-funded Bible museum may know their “broad agreement” claim is a lie or is suffering from confirmation bias and is repeating someone else’s lie, but it is a lie.

At one point in time, the church was the fount of all true knowledge because they incorporated all they could find into their dogma. But when real science, begun about 400 years ago, started contradicting everything the Bible claims as a scientific truth, the church has excommunicated, imprisoned, or executed scientists for their contradictions, finally succumbing to the truth, leaving only a few pathetic fundamentalist Protestant sects fighting the Evolution War and Islam, being Islam, yearning for the seventh century. (Note: Excommunication in the mind of the church is a sentence to the Lake of Fire for ever and ever, amen. Its use was coercive, designed to get the miscreant back into the fold but if not, meh.)

And if you aren’t convinced, consider that during Gallileo’s heresy trial, the Vatican’s own astronomer had confirmed Galileo’s findings as being true, but as Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino stated in private: although he agreed with Galileo, if the rulings of the Church were to be refuted by direct observation on this issue—even if it was not, as he recognized, a matter of faith—they might be refuted on others, which were. (Gallileo, then, was just collateral damage, I guess.)

Note: Many of these insights on Gallileo, Augustine, and Aquinas came from Anthony Pagden’s The Enlightenment: and Why It Still Matters (Random House Publishing Group—Kindle Edition).

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Together, Coming Together, Things are Coming Together

My recent posts on greedy elites and education “reform,” led me to Bertrand Russell. (Don’t ask how. I read too much, understand too little, and make connections endlessly.) A book of Russell’s still worth reading is Free Thought and Official Propaganda, written I believe in 1922. Propaganda, the term, had just been invented and modern propaganda, to which Russell refers, was also recently born. Here are a few juicy tidbits:

“It must not be supposed that the officials in charge of education desire the young to become educated. On the contrary, their problem is to impart information without imparting intelligence. Education should have two objects: first, to give definite knowledge—reading and writing, languages and mathematics, and so on; secondly, to create those mental habits which will enable people to acquire knowledge and form sound judgments for themselves. The first of these we may call information, the second intelligence. The utility of information is admitted practically as well as theoretically; without a literate population a modern State is impossible. But the utility of intelligence is admitted only theoretically, not practically; it is not desired that ordinary people should think for themselves, because it is felt that people who think for themselves are awkward to manage and cause administrative difficulties. Only the guardians, in Plato’s language, are to think; the rest are to obey, or to follow leaders like a herd of sheep. This doctrine, often unconsciously, has survived the introduction of political democracy, and has radically vitiated all national systems of education.

Ah, Russell points out the current effort in education reform is to confine public education to depart only information, for the sole purpose of getting a job, but not to get citizens who think for themselves, because that undermines the urge to obey the elites and we just cannot have that. (Remember this is 1922.) He also says:

We are faced with the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought. This is due primarily to the fact that the State claims a monopoly; but that is by no means the sole cause.”

Russell was concerned that the state, the “government,” as an instrument of the elite rather than the people, might follow totalitarian aims and reduce education to the “acquiring of job skills” or as Russell states, mere information. (The Republicans then current were not like the Republicans now or he would have been running around with his hair on fire.)

Bertrand Russell is also concerned about government by the big lie, fueled by big money.

“The art of propaganda, as practised by modern politicians and governments, is derived from the art of advertisement. The science of psychology owes a great deal to advertisers. In former days most psychologists would probably have thought that a man could not convince many people of the excellence of his own wares by merely stating emphatically that they were excellent. Experience shows, however, that they were mistaken in this. If I were to stand up once in a public place and state that I am the most modest man alive, I should be laughed at; but if I could raise enough money to make the same statement on all the busses and on hoardings along all the principal railway lines, people would presently become convinced that I had an abnormal shrinking from publicity.”

He “caps” these comments with “Propaganda, conducted by the means which advertisers have found successful, is now one of the recognized methods of government in all advanced countries, and is especially the method by which democratic opinion is created.” and “There are two quite different evils about propaganda as now practised. On the one hand, its appeal is generally to irrational causes of belief rather than to serious argument; on the other hand, it gives an unfair advantage to those who can obtain most publicity, whether through wealth or through power.

You can see that religion does not get off of Russell’s hook (its (propaganda’s) appeal is generally to irrational causes of belief rather than to serious argument). If these statements don’t describe the situation we are in currently, I don’t know what would. And, remember, he said these things almost 100 years ago.

The public school propaganda campaign has led people to believe the schools are failing (they aren’t. That teachers are failing to serve their students well (they aren’t). That poverty is not a barrier to accomplishment in school (it is). All of these lies were generated by propaganda machines with programs to sell.

Wake up people, before it is too late. The clarion call was sounded long ago. Awake! Awake!

October 16, 2017

What Ever Happened to the Scathing Putdown?

The was a political kerfuffle recently when Louise Linton, the wife of our current Secretary of the Treasury, posted a photo of herself (see below) and the Secretary exiting a government airplane on Instagram with the caption: “Great #daytrip to #Kentucky! #rolandmouret, #hermesscarf, #tomford and #valentino,” the culminating hashtags apparently referring to various pieces of her very expensive wardrobe.

A commenter then upbraided Ms. Linton for using a taxpayer-supported plane for what appeared to be a personal trip. Others criticized the flaunting of her wealth. Ms. Linton, in perfect The Empire Strikes Back form, lashed out at her critics. Much frivolity followed.

But whatever happened to the scathing putdown … the withering putdown … the blistering putdown? (Where is Dorothy Parker, now that we need her?) Is this the best we can do, people?

A quick check of Ms. Linton’s Wikipedia page shows she has either inherited or married into her wealth and hence has no “street cred” amongst her class. Her main accomplishments have been in minor roles as an actor, a skill she picked up through private tutorials. Wikipedia says:

“Louise Hay was born in the Murrayfield area of Edinburgh, Scotland, the youngest of three children of William and Rachel Hay. Her family owns Melville Castle outside Edinburgh, where she used to spend weekends.”
“Linton was educated at St George’s School for Girls and Fettes College. According to Linton, she trained in Edinburgh with a private coach from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, from which she gained honours after an exam.”

So, we can do better, people. Where is your scorn?

How about:
So, your main life skill is … what … shopping?” or
Did you major in college in marrying well?” or
Where did you pick up your skill in spending other people’s money?”
Did you need coaching in being an asshat or did that come naturally?”

Obviously the wimpy ass critiques of the Instagram comments made no dent in this woman’s sense of privilege, we need to provide higher quality feedback if we are going to bring these people to their senses if not their knees, at least out of their sense of entitlement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Political-Economic Elites

I made the point in a recent post (It All Is Starting to Come Together … and It Does Not Look Good, October 15, 2017) that civilization was created by elites coercing “citizens” into doing work that then supplied the elites with enough food and more. The methods of coercion were by means of physical force and through religious threats and promises. In our current world, the physical threats are less often delivered by thugs/warriors and more often delivered through politics, that is through rules, laws, and the threats of legal and police actions. For example, the rich think nothing of lowering their own tax burdens and shifting that burden onto the farmer class. What are we for, otherwise?

All of this comes from greed on the part of the elites. Greed causes the amassing of great wealth and then the wealth is used as a status symbol, even a symbol of cultural superiority. The old saw was that the rich were born on third base, thinking they hit a triple.

A classic example is available to us now in the form of our current federal Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Like all such secretaries, she was appointed by a rich and powerful person, and then confirmed by another set of rich and powerful persons (just barely, being confirmed in a “tie-breaker”).

You can find much of what you need to know from Mrs. DeVos’s Wikipedia page:

Elisabeth Dee DeVos (/dəˈvɒs/; née Prince; born January 8, 1958) is an American businesswoman, politician, and the 11th and current United States Secretary of Education.

Her credentials as a rich person are also evident:

DeVos is married to Dick DeVos, the former CEO of the multi-level marketing company Amway, and is the daughter-in-law of Amway’s billionaire co-founder, Richard DeVos. Her brother, Erik Prince, a former U.S. Navy SEAL officer, is the founder of Blackwater USA. Their father is Edgar Prince, founder of the Prince Corporation. In 2016, the DeVos family was listed by Forbes as the 88th richest family in America, with an estimated net worth of $5.4 billion.

Since, when describing her wealth they refer to her relatives, we suspect that it was acquired through inheritance and/or marriage, but there is a reference to her being a “businesswoman,” so maybe she has acquired some of her wealth through skill, so back to Wikipedia:

DeVos is chairwoman of the Windquest Group, a privately held operating group that invests in technology, manufacturing, and clean energy. DeVos and her husband founded it in 1989.

An investment group, not a real business, and with her rich husband … so, her wealth was not acquired through her own skill, but like all rich people of this ilk “her” wealth translates into an attitude of wanting to reshape the world to their liking, in this particular case, through education.

So, politics provides the physical force to coerce the “farmer” class into doing what the elites wish … still. I wonder about whether the religion coercion will be there, too. Ah … again according to Wikipedia:

DeVos in 2001 listed education activism and reform efforts as a means to “advance God’s Kingdom.” In an interview that year, she also said that “changing the way we approach … the system of education in the country … really may have greater Kingdom gain in the long run.”

Apparently God’s Kingdom on Earth involves many, many serfs working frantically to make wealth for the already wealthy.

And the agenda being promoted by Secretary DeVos? It seems to be the defunding and/or destruction of our current public schools system, which despite the current massive negative propaganda campaign, is working better than ever (the corporate media won’t run a story counter to the narrative that the schools are failing) and replacing those schools with charter schools and educational vouchers. The public schools are being run by the, well, public, so are not really under the control of the elites, so, reform is necessary (Sarcasm alert!). The charter schools can be large profit-extraction businesses, even when run as a non-profit (by paying large management fees to corporations owned by the charter operators to supply “management” and through real estate scams, amongst others) and the vouchers can be used to funnel public funds to religious schools.

There seems to be this hesitance in this country to provide tax revenues to support religious schools. Apparently it has to do with some vague church-state separation principle. So, if the outright support of religious schools (to, you know, “advance God’s Kingdom”—I wonder if she has a particular god in mind, hmmm …) through the front door won’t fly now, then maybe funding them through the back door will work (it is not public money, it is just a voucher).

Also, it has been a stick in the craws of the rich for a long time that they send their children to private schools but still have to pay taxes to send the unwashed children to public schools. The fact that they can afford this without stint is irrelevant; it is the principle of the thing. School vouchers is a way to get the public to pay for their children’s private educations.

And, as good Christians, there is no limit to the lies they are willing to tell, as long as it advances their religious jihad. At least the Muslims had the decency to put this rule in writing for their adherents. Yes, it is allowed to lie to infidels in Islam (taqiyya) and “allowed” in religions is a euphemism for “recommended.”

October 15, 2017

Sunday Religion Tidbit: Jesus Hates Fags?

The problem with Christianity is Christians. The most obvious idiots that prove this point are the members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, KS. (Remember Fred Phelps, their pastor? Surely he is burning in Hell right now … if he was right about all of that.) These are the lovely people with the God Hates Fags posters. They clearly don’t know their scripture because in Mark 11:13 it clearly shows that God hates figs. Figs, people, not fags.

Idiots.

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