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Member since: Fri May 5, 2006, 06:55 PM
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A part of me wants to see a default, just to prove the GOP is crazy

But another part of me thinks this is like being on the Titanic and wanting to hit an iceberg, just to prove my contention that the captain is running the ship too fast too far north.

When does this country hit bottom and realize we've got a political problem? The GOP is crazy and the Dems aren't helping.

But hitting bottom doesn't always mean you rebound.

Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Tue Oct 15, 2013, 02:37 PM (2 replies)

Polarizing wedge issues, how many are inherently left vs. right rather than arbitrary?

The whole left/right thing gets to be a bit silly. The real world is full of color, even the most well-meaning of philosophies can reduce it to mere shades of gray, and the dull-minded and rigid try to posterize that down to black and white.

At it's most basic, politics is a way of deciding who gets what and how. It's one step up from just bashing each other over the head with rocks to determine winners and losers. In any political system, the conservatives will be the ones happy with the status quo, those who are on top. The reformers will usually be the ones who feel they have a raw deal. And if soever fortunes are reversed, so, too, are the political leanings.

If we look at at the Stalinist take on communism or national socialism, we see philosophies that arose from what are considered opposite sides of the political spectrum but have arrived at the same end state. I doubt the interns of a stalag would find much to differentiate it form a gulag. A bullet in the back of the head from a communist's gun feels about the same as from a fascist's.

Here's one take on the political spectrum as circle rather than line. You go far enough to the left and far enough to the right, you end up meeting in an ugly place.

Given that our society is running with the left/right framing, any given issue is going to be placed in one camp or the other. It will either be championed by one side and so the opponents will naturally flock to the other or it will be campaigned against actively by a side and thus defenders will go to the opposite side.

Given that the GOP base is white, it's natural to pander to them and support racist policies. When the Democrats abandoned Jim Crow, the Republicans swooped in to take up the cause. It gained them a lot of support. Democrats never really seemed to want to embrace gay rights but gays knew they'd have no traction with the Republicans and so picked the lesser of two evils. With a lot of arm-twisting, they were able to make the Dems take up the cause. Funny thing, though, the libertarian side of the right thinks sexual orientation isn't anyone's business but they don't have a strong enough voice to affect the party's platform. It's an inherent contradiction in their base. Likewise, the religious types are crusading against pornography and self-declared cultural filth even as the billionaires who fund the party have made their fortunes off of those very products.

What kind of amuses me is that nannystate is usually a critique levied by the right against the left for what's seen as social engineering even as they are blind to their own efforts at social engineering, i.e. banning abortion. It's the same kind of cognitive dissonance that sees defending segregation as simply a matter of states' rights while the DEA stomping over legalized pot is perfectly fine.

So, what sorts of wedge issues do you think could have gone either way? Gay rights, for example, could never have been taken up by the GOP. Nutrition, healthy lifestyle, anti-GMO crusading, that well could have become a religious issue if things had gone differently. Corporations could well have turned to the Democrats to create political opposition. It's pretty easy to see how wholesome foods and healthy living could be packaged with the Christian message and become as strong of a culture war issue as sex and abortion.

Can you think of any other issues that could have gone differently just as easily?
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Wed Oct 9, 2013, 05:36 PM (0 replies)

Does anyone have a crazy left wing family member?

One would tend to think that all ideas are fair game and there can be conspiracies on the left and right and therefore among a population with people getting older and more set in their ways, getting more suspicious and paranoid, there should be as many left wing nuts as there are right wing nuts.

Thing is, it just doesn't seem that way.

I'm trying to think about what a liberal nut would have to bang on about. I don't see crackpot left wing chain mails forwarding around. We never had the inaccurate lies about either Bush floating around as we have had against Clinton and Obama. Nobody accused Laura of being a lesbian or Bush orchestrating the murder of a Vice Foster. About the strongest accusation was his election was illegitimate which is a far sight away from calling him a Kenyan Muslim.

Religion isn't exclusively conservative but those are the only ones you really hear about. There's no strong religious left pushing for radical reform like gay rights or political and social reform. All religious pressure in this country is towards strengthening the norms or returning us to an imaginary Christian root which is radical but still on the right.

Alternative medicine is where I have seen the most woo but there's not really exclusivity there. For every macrobiotic hippie I can find you a winger who has equally odd notions. You might not find many republican vegans but antivax cuts across the spectrum.

What's my guess? There's more money to be made from and thus more money put into promoting right wing craziness. Therefore when someone gets older and is more susceptible to falling for bullshit, that's what's there to believe in. And I am starting to wonder at just how much hard work has been put into crafting the conservative message, not just in the mainstream but in crazyland. UN mandates and black helicopters could have been spun as evil corporations but it wasn't. OWS had good points and could have been the springboard for moving from valid critiques to paranoia and conspiracy stuff. It wasn't.

I suppose that you could consider what I'm saying here to be a left wing conspiracy theory, that older relatives going nutty towards a particular political bent is that sort or thing but its only a nutty conspiracy theory if it isn't true!
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Tue Oct 8, 2013, 07:53 AM (116 replies)

Musings on the limits of growth, our economy and our deranged politics

I've heard this idea attacked from multiple angles and it gets pretty complicated so here's my nickel synopsis. Trying to boil down the theses of several books I've read recently, including Graeber's Debt and Heinberg's End of Growth.

Our money is based on debt and debt carries interest and this is incompatible when working within a steady-state or declining system; interest only works in a growing economy.

Imagine we have an economy with ten people. There's a hundred bucks in total circulation. At the start, everyone has ten. I decide to put one of my dollars into an investment. Now if I'm only collecting simple interest, I get $1.05 back no matter how long it takes the borrower to return the cash. Assuming I get the first mover advantage and start accumulating more wealth, there's a certain point where I'm holding a significant fraction of the dollars. If I want my pile to get bigger, I might argue that we should make more dollars for this economy.

But what does the dollar represent, really? It's an IOU to collect on goods and services. There's a maximum amount of useful work any person could perform in life. If you're farming my land for me, you can't give me more than a day's work or seven days in a week. It's just not possible, no matter what the books say you owe. If I'm due a month's worth of work, I'm not getting it out of you in less than a month, likely more if I can't monopolize your time.

Now add compounding interest to this mix. A dollar invested and returned with simple interest is pretty honest. A dollar invested that perpetually returns interest seems like magic. It returns money endlessly for no additional expenditure of effort or capital. But for this to work, the money supply has to grow. The economy has to grow. Otherwise, we quickly reach absurdity.

Think about where inflation comes from. Inflation arises from more money chasing fewer resources. And how does that happen? Because the imaginary economy is growing faster than the real economy. In my ten person economy, let's imagine half of us are investors with our original $10 stake growing into $100 apiece. (Supposing they wrangled an increase in the money supply, beyond the original $100 total.) Each of us is trying to secure the laborers and I must outbid my fellow to attract attention. This drives the price up. But even as my wealth grows through interest, the laborers are left with dollars whose worth is shrinking by the same rate. They are unable to park their wealth in the same investments available to me and my ilk.

But to keep the whole game afloat, we need growth. It can't ever stop or the bubble bursts. Is this not the very definition of a Ponzi scheme, a rigged game that requires a constant addition of new money to pay off the original investors? And the payoff promised for the new investors can only be paid off if more people are added to the base of this tottering pyramid.

The real question regarding growth is whether infinite growth is possible on a finite planet. This is not a question of ideology but of facts and science. And the abundant evidence is that it just can't happen. And what this means is that we need to seriously reevaluate our basic assumptions about economics and finance or else we are going to be seriously fucked. This is going to be as significant of a removing gods and spirits from explanations of how the natural world operates. Our economics is still lousy with voodoo and witchcraft.
Posted by jollyreaper2112 | Mon Oct 7, 2013, 11:12 AM (2 replies)
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