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Member since: Sun Jul 11, 2004, 07:58 PM
Number of posts: 36,922

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George Orwell on why economic inequality exists

I stumbled upon this a couple of years ago, but it is even more relevant today.

It is a neat piece of doublethink that has distracted us from how much more wealth a worker creates than in the past, yet isn't shared with them.

Instead, we have been convinced that being given a job is a form of charity bestowed upon us by "job creators" and that they deign to pay us at all is further sign of their altruism and generosity.

The investor class could let a lot more of the grain the ox tramples make it into our feed bag and still be wealthy beyond human imagination, but the reason they don't is precisely what Orwell mentions here.

From the moment when the machine first made its appearance it was clear to all thinking people that the need for human drudgery, and therefore to a great extent for human inequality, had disappeared. If the machine were used deliberately for that end, hunger, overwork, dirt, illiteracy, and disease could be eliminated within a few generations. And in fact, without being used for any such purpose, but by a sort of automatic process -- by producing wealth which it was sometimes impossible not to distribute -- the machine did raise the living standards of the average human being vary greatly over a period of about fifty years at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries.

But it was also clear that an all-round increase in wealth threatened the destruction -- indeed, in some sense was the destruction -- of a hierarchical society. In a world in which everyone worked short hours, had enough to eat, lived in a house with a bathroom and a refrigerator, and possessed a motor-car or even an aeroplane, the most obvious and perhaps the most important form of inequality would already have disappeared. If it once became general, wealth would confer no distinction. It was possible, no doubt, to imagine a society in which wealth, in the sense of personal possessions and luxuries, should be evenly distributed, while power remained in the hands of a small privileged caste. But in practice such a society could not long remain stable. For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away.


Wasn't ISIS smuggling oil through Turkey?

The changing sides in the Syria mess is truly dizzying.

Who will be punished for Brexit?

This is a separate question from who should be, which I would argue are those who set the economic and foreign policy that made average Brits decide this was necessary.

EDIT: I mean punished by the financial elite, not soccer hooligans, or anybody else without a trust fund.

Obama Excoriates Republican Obsession With The Term ‘Radical Islam’

Source: Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Tuesday forcefully rebuked Republicans who have berated him for refusing to characterize lone wolf terror attacks by Muslim individuals as acts of “radical Islam.”

Speaking from the Treasury Department two days after a Muslim man shot 49 people to death at a gay nightclub in Orlando after declaring allegiance to the self-described Islamic State group, the president challenged his detractors to identify a single tangible benefit of adjusting his choice of words to describe the attack.

“What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to try to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this?” Obama asked rhetorically, using another name for the Islamic State.

“The answer is none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away.”

Read more: http://new.www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/obama-radical-islam_us_57603cdbe4b0e4fe5143dc4c

He should have called bullshit on them like this the day he was inaugurated.

TOON: the economist & the goose that laid the golden egg

I would put hedge fund manager instead of economist, but same difference.

MORE of the same

Republicans really believe in guaranteed minimum income

FOUR of their last six presidential candidates have been trust fund babies:

Papa Bush
Baby Bush
Mitt Romney
The Donald Trump

Not that I have anything against trust fund babies per se.

One of, if not our very best presidents, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was a trust fund baby.

So if an opulent guaranteed for life income didn't make them lazy and aimless (apart from Baby Bush), why would a far more modest guaranteed minimum income make working and middle class people shiftless loafers?

How will Trump v Hillary be different from Bush v Gore?

Obviously, demographics are far more in favor of any Democratic candidate today, but as far as the candidates themselves, it seems eerily similar.

In both campaigns, the Democrats had a relatively competent, knowledgable candidate. Their weakness, coming from the DLC/Third Way wing of the party was their policy prescriptions were incremental at best (though Gore was following the still popular Bill Clinton).

The Republicans ran trust fund babies with few facts at their command and questionable resumes, but the unique ability to incite some white folks' inner lynch mob.

Though Bush "won" by dubious means, he got close enough to look respectable (to those who didn't look to closely).

How will it be different this time?

BBC NEWS: America's secret engagement with Khomeini during the Iranian Revolution

Khomeini wanted the US to know "our" economic interests would not be threatened if he took over, but he needed Carter to help calm the Iranian military to make the transition peaceful.

This doesn't sound like the raving fanatic presented in our press at the time or since.

Fidel Castro and Ho Chi Minh made similar conciliatory overtures to the United States before we spent decades try to assassinate Castro and going on a decade long killing spree in Vietnam.

Even Iran after Khomeini and before the Obama peace deal reached out to us after Bush invaded neighbors on either side of Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq, and they said everything was open to negotiation.

Russia and China are now about as capitalist as any other countries in the world. Do we really need to ramp up a new cold war with them if enemies we had far less in common with were willing work with us on very amicable terms?

We have a bigger military than the rest of the world combined, so talking rather than fighting isn't a matter of cowardice, it's a matter of having friendly relations with less powerful countries without forcing them to be the absolute slave of corporate and banking interests.

Doing so might allow us to cut that massive military spending a bit too since fewer countries and groups would have grievances with us.

I think I could live with that.

From his home in exile outside Paris, the defiant leader of the Iranian revolution effectively offered the Carter administration a deal: Iranian military leaders listen to you, he said, but the Iranian people follow my orders.

If President Jimmy Carter could use his influence on the military to clear the way for his takeover, Khomeini suggested, he would calm the nation. Stability could be restored, America's interests and citizens in Iran would be protected.

At the time, the Iranian scene was chaotic. Protesters clashed with troops, shops were closed, public services suspended. Meanwhile, labour strikes had all but halted the flow of oil, jeopardising a vital Western interest.

Persuaded by Carter, Iran's autocratic ruler, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, known as the Shah, had finally departed on a "vacation" abroad, leaving behind an unpopular prime minister and a military in disarray - a force of 400,000 men with heavy dependence on American arms and advice.


What will Republicans do if Trump implodes either before the convention or after?

I don't think there's much chance he could lose the support of low information voters since by definition they are impervious to information, but what if wealthy patrons of the GOP decide he is too much of a risk and embarrassment?

What happens then?

TOM TOMORROW TOON: Even more primary phenomena

I'm embarrassed the first one didn't occur to me before.

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