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Jackpine Radical

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Current location: Wisconsin
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 44,763

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I think this is fine for GD.

And we should probably do more of it.

I think it's a moderately complicated situation.

To lay a bit of groundwork, I will start by saying that the government is completely unresponsive to the needs of the public, except insofar as those needs match the desires of the ruling corporations. Thus we were allowed to have ACA but not universal health care because it served the interests of the insurance companies (e.g. guaranteeing them a captive pool of young, healthy people to insure), while incidentally actually doing some good for some of the public. (But many people now have insurance that they can't use because of the copays, deductibles, & exclusions).

Likewise, our Corporate Masters really don't care one way or the other about gay rights, women's rights, etc. because these matters don't much affect their pathways to profit. What they actually care about are things like deregulation, stifling (or, better, absorbing) competition,etc.

To be an acceptable candidate, you have to be "right" on the economic issues, no matter your party. On the social issues you are free to fight it out with the other side. The Big Guys don't care who wins at that level, but it serves their interests to continue the illusion that there are two parties with significant differences between them.

The one social issue that the Big Guys might care about is racial/ethnic discrimination. One of the sickest features of human nature, at least as it is expressed in this country, lies in the fact that some people will put up with almost any abuse or deprivation as long as they are assured that there is a class of people worse off than them, upon whom they might look down. The single best tool for controlling the masses is to play them off against each other. So Joe Sixpack knows damn well who's causing his problems. It's those (color-coded for easy recognition) dark folks down the street with their welfare Cadillacs.

So the parties are left to fight it out on issues that don't matter much to their masters, who really don't care whether it's a corporate Republican or a corporate Democrat as long as they vote to deregulate, keep up the military expenditures, and otherwise behave themselves.

Boehner is known to have declared, back in 2009, that their purpose was to destroy the Obama Presidency. I see it as pure partisanship, fueled with racism. I have no idea if Boehner is a racist in his (alleged) soul, but it doesn't matter; he's playing racist dog whistles to a racist audience.

I see the Republicans as divided into 2 groups: the corporatists and the Tea Party. For the most part, the corporatists are cynical, grandiose manipulators, and the Tea Partiers are largely useful fools who believe their own horseshit.

Posted by Jackpine Radical | Mon May 18, 2015, 06:07 PM (2 replies)

Thoughts on the Death Penalty

Four arguments are commonly made in opposition to the death penalty. Let me review them before moving on to the particular concerns I want to discuss. Here, then, are the traditional arguments:

First, we have no need for a death penalty to protect ourselves from murderers because Wisconsin law permits us to put them in prison for life without hope of ever being released.

Second, it is expensive to seek the death penalty. Studies in other states have shown that it costs more to sentence a murderer to death and then wade through the appeals process than it would have to simply imprison the criminal for life.

Third, there is always the possibility of executing an innocent person. Some people seem to think that the use of DNA evidence is an absolutely certain means of avoiding such errors, but that is simply not so. Any number of events, ranging from misbehavior on the part of police officers to errors at the crime lab, could bring about terrible miscarriages of justice.

And fourth, there is no evidence that the death penalty deters crime. Just consider for a moment—can you imagine criminals thinking to themselves, “I want to go on a killing spree, but they will put me to death if they catch me, so I won’t do it. However, I would go out and murder a bunch of people if all I had to face was life without parole.”

If you think the death penalty is somehow going to make you safer, how do you explain this?—Murder rates per 100,000 population range from a low of 1.2 in Maine to a high of 13.0 in Louisiana. Twelve states, including Wisconsin, have no death penalty. The average murder rate for these states is 2.90. The remaining 38 states have the death penalty. Their murder rate per hundred thousand residents is 5.3. The probability of this being a chance result is less than one in a hundred.

At 3.3 murders per 100,000, Wisconsin has a slightly higher murder rate than the average for states without the death penalty, but considerably lower than the average for states with the death penalty. Why, then, should we be in any hurry to legalize the death penalty and thereby join the group of states with the higher murder rates?

Another question—Might there be something about having a death penalty that causes states to have a higher murder rate? I think there may be a connection. Let us make no bones about it. To approve the death penalty is to assert that it is permissible for a large number of people—the state—to gang up and put one of its members to death. When a state authorizes executions, it is in effect saying that killing is not only permissible, but is in fact desirable, in some circumstances, including circumstances that do not involve immediate self-defense. Children learn both behaviors and attitudes by the example of their elders. From what we know of child development, there is every reason to imagine that children who grow up in a society that approves the killing of human beings will have lower inhibitions against killing than do children whose society teaches an absolute intolerance of killing.

Wisconsin has never executed a criminal since attaining statehood in 1848, and explicitly forbade the practice in 1853. This is a proud tradition that I believe to be worth keeping.
Posted by Jackpine Radical | Fri May 15, 2015, 08:46 PM (80 replies)

Capitalism is dead. But how many of us is it gonna take with it? Look to OWS for answers.

The world economy as currently structured requires growth to sustain it. Capitalism has the same ethics as a cancer, and will just as surely kill its host if left unchecked. The host, of course, is the biosphere.

The species does NOT need growth to sustain it--either in population or in "productivity."

What we need is workable population control and a functional distribution system that ensures everyone has enough so they may live happy, self-fulfilling lives. If we have less attachment to useless, throwaway material possessions, we need to work less. If we have machines that absorb the work of production, then a major portion of the proceeds of that production ought to go to the people.

There is a path to a world in which everyone has the basics such as food, shelter, education and peace. People would not have to work as hard in this world. Everyone would have the time and opportunity to flourish as fully-functional humans. We just need wisdom to get there.

Unfortunately, the wise and fair-minded do not generally rise to power in this system, and perhaps not in any other.

The American Revolution was an attempt to build a more foolproof hierarchical system, based on a division of powers among 3 branches, those 3 branches themselves basing their authority on the consent of the governed.

But almost from the outset, the rich and powerful interests captured portions of the government and bent them to their own narrow purposes. Andrew Jackson & the smallpox blankets. Using cops & Guardsmen to bust strikes. Make up your own list. The point is that by now, the corruption is virtually complete.

So how can you build an incorruptible hierarchical system, one that is impervious to the toxic effects of money? The more I think about it, the more convinced become that you can't build such a system.

When I was a state employee, I used to say that the state's organizational chart consisted of a pyramid of boxes with names in them, each connected to the boxes below it by diodes. The system was designed to pass orders downward from the top, but not to allow any signals to arise into the system from below. It was a classic hierarchy. Shut up & do what you're told.

Nowhere was this hierarchical unidirectionality of communication made more clear than in the old Soviet Union. Right after the revolution, Lenin was faced with decisions about how to modernize his new nation in a hurry to elevate it from its quasi-feudal state. He thought about putting in a national telephone system. But he scrapped this plan. Instead, he wired the major cities for networks of loudspeakers--the ultimate one-way communication device.

Now, contrast any such hierarchical system with the system in place at an OWS General Assembly. In the GA, someone speaks and everybody gives immediate feedback on how they feel about what the speaker is saying.

Then there is the Human Mike. The "mic check" phenomenon is a very interesting one. One person's message is passed on to the crowd through the concerted, self-coordinated actions of those crowd members nearest the speaker. The speaker must have the consent of his "microphone" if he is to be heard. That's sure a bit different than Moscow, 1923. It's also different from any previous protest action in America. In the past, there were always defined leaders, whether Tom Hayden or MLK. Not this time. The power is distributed very differently.

The major difference between previous social actions and the present worldwide upheaval is the nearly universal access to the new social media. The 1% have their broadcast media, just as Lenin had his loudspeakers, and they have gotten very sophisticated in using these tools to shape public opinion. Classically, the public has had little capacity to respond. Oh, you could write a letter or make a phone call, but in general the public was limited to one-to-one communications, while the Mighty had one-to-many communication capability.

But the transpersonal environment is now very different than it has been at any time in the past. Each person has one-to-many capabilities. For example, I'm writing this in hopes that many more than one of my fellow-travelers will read it, and each of them will have the power to respond in kind, i.e. with one-to-many capabilities.

One way of looking at the massive one-to-many linkages among maybe 1 billion of us is that we have created a feedback mechanism unlike anything the world has yet seen. We are escaping the information filters that have always been imposed on us. We are making direct contact with each other around the world and sharing hour common humanity and our common concerns.

Learning occurs in the presence of feedback. Instant learning occurs in the presence of instant feedback. Learning means adaptability, constant change, constant updating of the information banks. No hierarchical system can coordinate an action as swift and graceful as a leaderless flock of birds suddenly executing a change in direction.

This is why I look to leaderless organizations such as OWS as experimental workshops for developing the new society.

Posted by Jackpine Radical | Thu Dec 22, 2011, 02:18 PM (14 replies)
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