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      CommentAuthorDoc Ocassi
    • CommentTimeSep 28th 2011
     (10239.1)
    Oddbill

    first you need to identify what is driving wealth inequality, it would probably be placed at the reality that wealth gives one an disproportionate influence in the politics and society, and the means to influence it to for your own benefit. This has been taken to quite an extreme in the developed west and drives inequality worldwide.

    This is a systemic problem.

    You said earlier:
    The people who participate think they are doing something, but really they are just doing the lazy thing. It's easy to run out into the street for a few days. It's hard to get a law degree, or launch a political career, or found and run a business, and use your position afterward as a broker of strength in your community for the betterment of people's lives.

    What if the energy that you put into holding these positions exacerbate the problem because you must support the very system that you profess to be working to fix?

    This is definitely a problem that I struggle with on a daily basis. Yet does my job give me the time I need to for all the social causes I want to help, no it doesn't, and I don't see the changing any time soon through conventional means.

    Do you want a solution? What we are dealing with is a living system and any changes may have a beneficial or detrimental effect on the system. Now a group of people who have wealth and can use that wealth to influence th system to their advantage, will always win against a the poor and disenfranchised. Hell just listen to some Goerge Carlin, he can put it better than I ever could, and how many years has he or others pointed out these problems, and we still don't seem to get it.

    I can also point you back to the Howard Beale clip above. My answer is I don't know.
    •  
      CommentAuthoroddbill
    • CommentTimeSep 28th 2011 edited
     (10239.2)
    wealth gives one an disproportionate influence in the politics and society, and the means to influence it to for your own benefit. This has been taken to quite an extreme in the developed west


    I would argue that you are being extremely myopic in thinking that somehow this is a worse problem in the "developed west" than it is anywhere else in the world, or even anywhen else in time.

    Wealth is influence. It just is. You can't stop it from being that. It is that by definition. People who have the ability to influence will do it, people in positions to be influenced will be, that is not a changeable fact. It is a feature of human communal existence, not a bug. It cannot be fixed without scrapping humanity altogether.

    You cannot stop wealth from influencing politics. It always, always has. In all times and everywhere. In every sort of society, whether there is a system of currency, or system of reputation wealth, or simply the rule of the strongest, whoever holds whatever equals wealth in that society runs things.

    Currency as wealth as influence is actually a more democratized medium than, for example, brute strength, or charisma. In practice, more people can gather wealth, and therefore influence their government, than can exert brute strength, or sway large numbers of others with their personalities. Currency as wealth is a better option than most others because it is fluid and can be accumulated in so many different ways.

    When you argue about not putting energy into the system to try to accumulate influence, I wonder what you are proposing as an alternative.
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      CommentAuthorBrianMowrey
    • CommentTimeSep 28th 2011 edited
     (10239.3)
    When illegal immigrants were protesting a few years ago I was really impressed by how they held their protests together. They managed to get hundreds of thousands of people to show up and stick to the issue. I did not see a single person protesting to free Mumia, abolish Israel, legalize pot, or replace the US Government with a Maoist dictatorship. The protestors actually protested; nobody was getting high or playing hackey-sack. And the stage was mostly serious speakers; it never turned into a free indie rock festival. Everything was well planned and legal, and when the permit ended everybody went home without pulling stupid stunts to intentionally get arrested.

    It is good that the protests passed without people getting beat up or making messes. But in terms of results measurement, how well were their specific causes advanced (I don't recall which protests you are referring to, so I don't know what to measure)? Was it related to:

    Obama set to outpace Bush on deportations
    President Barack Obama says he backs immigration reform, announcing last month an initiative to ease deportation policies, but he has sent home more than 1 million illegal immigrants in 2 1/2 years — on pace to deport more in one term than George W. Bush did in two.

    The Obama administration had deported about 1.06 million as of Sept. 12, against 1.57 million in Bush's two full presidential terms.

    This seeming contradiction between rhetoric and reality is a key element of debate over U.S. immigration policy, and stakes are high for 2012's presidential election as Obama faces criticism from both conservatives and liberals.

    In 2008, 67 percent of Hispanics voted for Obama over Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin.

    But Obama fell short on his promise to have a comprehensive reform bill in Congress in his first year. And despite his push of the DREAM Act in 2010, that bill failed in the Senate at the end of the Democrat-run 111th Congress. (source: msnbc)
  1.  (10239.4)
    I would argue that you are being extremely myopic in thinking that somehow this is a worse problem in the "developed west" than [...] anywhen else in time.

    er?



    [or] anywhere else in the world


    err?

    "Differences in national income equality around the world as measured by the national Gini coefficient. The Gini coefficient is a number between 0 and 1, where 0 corresponds with perfect equality (where everyone has the same income) and 1 corresponds with perfect inequality (where one person has all the income, and everyone else has zero income)."

    (blue is more equal than purple) (egypt is blue)


    When you argue about not putting energy into the system to try to accumulate influence, I wonder what you are proposing as an alternative.

    Revolution is logistically difficult. Suicide shootout of a packed wall street building, or in-house murder of your nearest local rich dude, would be logistically easy, but for whatever reason people on the left don't do it at all. Obviously, disenfranchisement is not something most people are willing to die over. It is more common on the right (see: right-wing terrorism), because I think right wing political ideas after 1960 are increasing couched in absolutism). So, for the less absolutist left, protests are if nothing else an outlet of that same energy after deciding not to become a murderer. They are also possibly a water-testing. A lets-see-what-happens move, an attainment of poise. Like going to a bar in the hopes of magically scoring.
  2.  (10239.5)
    It's that philosophical absolutism coupled with the stupidity of the left that has been giving the right all of the leeway it needs to completely dismantle the New Deal and restructure the American political machine to make it near impossible to undo their changes. Their current tactic is to make it very difficult to vote if you're likely to not vote for them.

    They need not worry since lefties are such a bunch of whining pussies they think stamping off in a huff and not voting will magically solve the problems cause by the statistical minority of people who are voting.

    So, basically, the last few decades has been the fault of the left and the moderates, not the right. And I'd be okay with this is the damage caused stayed in America. But it doesn't.
    •  
      CommentAuthordorkmuffin
    • CommentTimeSep 28th 2011
     (10239.6)
    I... I can't take any of this seriously. Yeah, boooo, booooo Wall Street, but also, allllllll the people I know who would be interested in protesting at this thing are... Well. They're not adults. They might be older than me but they hold a lot of incredibly naive beliefs about how people are and how government should work.

    Or maybe I'm a serious pessimist.
    •  
      CommentAuthoroddbill
    • CommentTimeSep 28th 2011
     (10239.7)
    Yes, I get the fact that income differences in the purple and blue areas are more extreme than the green areas, but look at that map, that is hardly "the developed west". Look at Brazil, China, Africa. And the point I was actually making in response to this:

    wealth gives one an disproportionate influence in the politics and society, and the means to influence it to for your own benefit. This has been taken to quite an extreme in the developed west


    is that wealth conferring "disproportionate influence" is not more of a problem now than it ever has been, or ever will be. It's the wrong thing to focus on, it's like saying water makes things "disproportionately wet".

    Like going to a bar in the hopes of magically scoring.


    Exactly, and my argument is that recognizing this is a very poor strategy for romance is part of growing up.

    I know it sucks to watch idealism waved away by cynicism, but honestly I have seen these kinds of protests over and over and over again over the last 20 years, over elections and executions and college fee increases and land seizures and globalization and wars and on and on. When they look like this one does, with drum circles and topless girls and anger over the economy one day and a death sentence the next and are full of open mic committees about what the protest should be about, they just don't work. They never work. They don't change anyone's opinions. They are a waste of time.

    What would make an impression? Suppose, as Rachael suggested above, everyone showed up dressed in work clothes, or they way they would dress at a job interview, and all carried signs that said simple, on message things like "Tax the Rich", "Pay your Share", "No Free Ride", "Not Above the Law" and "You are Responsible" - and these messages were clearly aimed at the financial industry. And these people stayed there. And left the "Free Speech Zones" but did it slowly and deliberately, so that police would be arresting parents and middle aged office workers holding signs and moving calmly, instead of kids who come across on TV as aspiring hippies taunting and dodging the cops. It is two completely different faces, and the former one would be far more effective in getting across a message.

    The Wall Street Occupation self-identifies as the 99%, but they do not look, feel or behave like the 99%, they are the other 1% and that is the real image they are putting out.

    I know I am an old cynical asshole, but I've seen this futile posturing so many times, and no matter how many times all the cliched observations I am making now are made, the angry white urban college kids who do these things never seem to hear it or learn a thing.
  3.  (10239.8)
    So, perhaps a protest towards the end goal of shutting down the acceptance of lobbying and as a legal means to earn votes and representation would be more direct and worthwhile? Perhaps placing a cap on the duration and expense of campaigns, as well? Those would be direct ways to make politicians more beholden to those they were supposed to represent and protect, instead of big money, no?

    How does one lobby to eradicate lobbying?
  4.  (10239.9)
    Very good article from a citizen journalist about the way the NYPD are (mis)handling things.

    Oddbill, whilst it seems a touch jaded, your viewpoint is a sound one I think. Just maybe this kind of citizen journalism can lift the veil on things for some of the population who otherwise wouldn't be made aware of important events that the mainstream media doesn't cover.

    New media is always (and has been, historically) at the forefront of social revolution since time began. Discuss.
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      CommentAuthordorkmuffin
    • CommentTimeSep 28th 2011 edited
     (10239.10)
    Follow up:

    Mainstream media covering police brutality.

    I'm having a really hard time watching this, honestly. It's pretty appalling.

    EDIT: Regardless of whether this is biased, the footage they show is really disgusting.
  5.  (10239.11)
    Damn, that's a good piece. Was that on US TV?
  6.  (10239.12)
    Obama set to outpace Bush on deportations…

    At that time the big issues seemed to be cutting off illegals from various state services, along with right-wing plans to make employers check new employees Social Security numbers to identify people working illegally. The protests seemed to scuttle those plans in some states and at the federal level. There have been a lot of deportations under Obama, but many of them are of immigrants who broke the law while here. Obama’s high deportation numbers might also be the result of immigrants choosing to just leave the US without a fight because they can’t find work here anyway.

    What would make an impression?

    Leadership. The right have a plethora of leaders. They established entire colleges just to crank out right-wing extremist leaders. Fundamentalist and LDS churches raise their kids to speak and lead. Liberals have raised kids to play kickball and get high or something. And the liberals who really do get fired up to lead are usually cranks who end up organizing A.N.S.W.E.R. rallies. Part of this is probably due to partisan/religious divides over gay rights, abortion, gun rights, etc.. The Churches and Boy Scouts and so on almost always side with the GOP. We need a big liberal wing of civil society producing the next John and Bobby Kennedys.

    How does one lobby to eradicate lobbying?

    A massive campaign to amend the Constitution is necessary. That was how prohibition was swept in. Just remember that “big money” is still just groups of lots of people. Having a society in which people who form a group suddenly have their rights to petition government curtailed might not work out so well.
  7.  (10239.13)
    The right have a plethora of leaders. They established entire colleges just to crank out right-wing extremist leaders. Fundamentalist and LDS churches raise their kids to speak and lead. Liberals have raised kids to play kickball and get high or something.


    Yes. A thousand times yes.

    They're just better at democracy. That doesn't mean they're not human shit. But at least they work hard at it.
    • CommentAuthorArgos
    • CommentTimeSep 28th 2011
     (10239.14)
    Can we not use the word "illegals?" Maybe I'm just being overly PC here but I find that term incredibly dehumanizing, and the immigration issue is huge for me. That said, the Obama admin has also been deporting many immigrants who have absolutely no criminal record, or only minor offenses such as traffic violations. The Obama admin. has also been deporting DREAM act eligible youth who had no say in coming to states in the first place when their parents brought them as children. In a related to Occupy Wall Street issue, did you know that people can pay $500k for an investor's visa? Kinda fucked up considering we won't give DREAM act eligible college graduates who have been here the majority of their lives temporary residence and a work permit. But if you have the money, no prob.
  8.  (10239.15)
    I feel the same way about people complaining about the deportation of illegal immigrants as I do about people complaining about being arrested for smoking weed.

    It's illegal. The role of the government is to uphold law, no? Complaining that the government is following it's own edicts makes no sense. People who are living illegally in ANY country are deported. People using illegal substances are arrested. To fault the law enforcers for enforcing the law seems ... weird.

    A friend of mine was upset because they passed a new legal precedent recently, where a fellow was being chased by police for having commited a robbery or something, they followed him in an apartment building, but then, when inside, they smelled marijuana and heard something suspicious from a different apartment, entered the apartment, and arrested the potheads inside. The actions were defended by a judge. My friend was angry that this means that if a cop smells weed, he can just bust down your door. But that's not the point. If I were being raped, I sure as hell hope that a police officer would come to my aid even if that's NOT why he was in the area. The problem is that weed is illegal, not that police are given the power to pursue illegality when they come across it.

    The laws should be changed. Giving people who are fucking INDIGENOUS TO THIS CONTINENT the opportunity to legally reside in the United States should be allowed. However, I can understand why having thousands of humans without any knowledge of who they are or where they came from is not something that can just be let go. Much like the failure of alcohol prohibition, where people went blind from moonshine, crime was rampant, and the police were warring on the streets, so is the modern American drug war, and so is the modern American attack on Mexican immigration.

    And gosh, that investor's visa is som serious bullshit. Wasn't there going to be a reality game show and the winner would get a green card? I swear that was in pre-production until someone decided it would be a terrible and illegal idea.
  9.  (10239.16)
    Can we not use the word "illegals?" Maybe I'm just being overly PC here but I find that term incredibly dehumanizing, and the immigration issue is huge for me.

    And that is one more huge reason the American left is going nowhere. Conversations about serious issues get derailed to avoid offending easily offended people. “Illegal immigrant” is not dehumanizing, it is a statement of fact. They immigrated, and did so illegally. Thus they are illegal immigrants. Trying to make up new words for it does not make their immigration status any less illegal. Referring to them as “undocumented workers” or some other such silliness just makes people stop taking you seriously. Political correctness turns good conversations into the scene from “Life of Brian” where they have to argue over whether or they need to protect the right of men to have babies despite men not having wombs.
    •  
      CommentAuthorDoc Ocassi
    • CommentTimeSep 29th 2011 edited
     (10239.17)
    Bill

    I don't believe it is myopic to understand that influence of the west over the rest of the world is greater than at any time in history. nor is it myopic to realize there is escalating inequality in the major industrialised countries of the west, see Brian's post above.

    Wealth is influence. It just is. You can't stop it from being that. It is that by definition. People who have the ability to influence will do it, people in positions to be influenced will be, that is not a changeable fact. It is a feature of human communal existence, not a bug. It cannot be fixed without scrapping humanity altogether.

    This probably comes to the crux of our difference, You have put what I believe to be an learned social trait into human nature, We do not always act like this and what causes us to act like this is a system which rewards these types of behavior. Your and others view of the immutability of this 'feature', I would say supports my point that wealth as influence has been taken to an extreme in the developed west.

    The system that we currently use to organize society is not and never will be a perfect model for human nature. The global economic system currently seems to dictate the way that society is organized. Is this system just one part of society that we use or is this system a functionally perfect system that dictates how society should be organized. I would go with the former and therefore we are free to make other requirements of this system. But because of the prevalence of ideas that support the current view of society it makes it very difficult to have change enacted in any meaningful sense.

    Back to Occupy Wall street, what I believe the people there are fighting is the idea I outlined above. if the people protesting remove the influence of wealth from politics they can influence politics in what ever way they want, how about the best dancers dictate policy? Isn't that just as arbitrary as the greatest wealth accumulators. EDIT: I don't think anyone who believes in the fundamental ideas of democracy can fail to notice the problem here.

    If I can't dance, it's not my revolution!
    If I can't dance, I don't want your revolution!
    If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution.
    A revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having.
    If there won't be dancing at the revolution, I'm not coming.
  10.  (10239.18)
    And that is one more huge reason the American left is going nowhere. Conversations about serious issues get derailed to avoid offending easily offended people.

    I would be interested in research that demonstrates the idea you are asserting.

    When the right and Frank Luntz re-word every issue to vector their epistemological framework into media and water-cooler conversations of issues (eg "cap and tax", "obamacare", "job creators" instead of "rich people") it is usually recognized as part of their good strategy.

    If someone wants to reword "illegals" to insert a more progressive framework into the conversation, you assert it is some liberal-owned emotional compulsion that destroys credibility.

    So, what is the research that supports there being different results to the same idea.
    •  
      CommentAuthorBrianMowrey
    • CommentTimeSep 29th 2011 edited
     (10239.19)
    I feel the same way about people complaining about the deportation of illegal immigrants as I do about people complaining about being arrested for smoking weed.

    Both issues are complicated by scale. The government's interest in how these laws are applied goes beyond the moral appropriateness of the ideas behind the laws -- it goes to the economic cost of enforcing them, which is huge for both, compared to the social impacts and civic policy results, which are astoundingly negative rather than positive. This is why support for immigration reform is bipartison until conservative voter backlash makes Republicans flop on the final vote. This is why the most leniant governor RE immigrant work policies and conditions in the American South is none other than Texas's Rick Perry, the current front-runner in the REPUBLICAN presidential polls.

    But complaining is different from advocating for change. It doesn't substitute advocation, but it isn't rendered an invalid mode of thought by the fact that advocation is needed or already happening.

    In other words it would be like if the govenrment suddenly ordered the evacuation of Richmond, VA, for the reason of it was going to become permanently flooded. However people didn't evacuate, and since this is a metaphor for immigration we'll say that their issue with evacuating was the HEAD-CHOPPING DRUG LORDS IN THE WOODS OUTSIDE TOWN. Now the flood happened and the residents of Richmond who are alive ("illegal non-evacuees") are being thrown into the woods by police every day, even though they're chill in Wet Richmond and the new Wet Richmond Outsourcing is getting lots of contracts and making tax money. The politicians of both parties agree it's a problem and a mess and the illegals need a path to becoming not thrown into Decapitation Forest. But ten years later it is still happening.

    One day you fell in love with a person on the Bank of America helpline who works in Wet Richmond Outsourcing Nexus 156, and a week later they are decapitated.

    Don't complain. The government's JOB is to enforce the law.
    • CommentAuthorArgos
    • CommentTimeSep 29th 2011 edited
     (10239.20)
    @James Puckett, then say "illegal immigrant". Just "illegal" is really offensive. It's like the person themselves is illegal contraband that you're forbidden by law to converse with because of their actions. And I didn't say anything against the term "illegal immigrant" to begin with, I agree with you there that that's what they are, there's no avoiding that. But you initially just said "illegals."


    And like i said earlier, not all illegal immigrants entered illegally. Some entered with work visas that the U.S. decided not to renew it (this is where the idea of a "line" starts to break down) because the homeland is so bad (take the drug cartels murdering people who post news about the drug cartels on their facebook back in Mexico, for example). Some are people who came legally seeking asylum but their paperwork got fucked up. And many, many of them are people who were brought as children and didn't even know they were here illegally, either through entering illegally to begin with or because their parents overstayed their visas, until they were entering college. For many people, it's a bigger issue than just "I jumped the border and I want to be pardoned for it." For some, it's "well, I was dragged into this situation and this is the only country I ever known. It's home, and I work hard to help my community." I sure as hell know a lot of immigrants who are better community members than some natural born citizens I've met who live contently on food stamps, so long as they don't have to do any work.

    It's a much, much more complicated issue than simply "well they immigrated illegally because they wanted to cut the line," but that's what everyone wants to reduce it to. A lot of it is a humanitarian issue as well.

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