Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How much is Too Much? (2.8.09)

I promised myself not to write here today.   So much for promises kept...

I am struck this morning by three things.  One is a post by Amelie, who is simply trying to stay afloat (and avoid foreclosure) as her family's income dwindles and they try to arrange for paying their mortgage (in 30 years, rather than 15).  Next is an article, hidden in the Sunday Styles section of the Times, begging the reader to understand how important it is that no one can live the "good life" in New York City on half a million a year.  And finally, we turn to the Times Week in Review, where an article on "Welfare" sits side by side with one on people having to scale back on "Plan B" (the hope to retire early and live the "good life").  Yes, I know I said "three things" and have listed five.  So much for plans carried out....

As I wrote briefly this past week, we seem to be facing the demise of the consumer economy.  Or at least some of us seem to be facing that.  Others apparently are in a negotiating phase.  Begging citizens, for example, to grant them more than half a million a year, while disparaging those fellow citizens simply trying, like Amelie and her family, to eke out the best they can manage on the "the less" they foresee at this moment.

I honestly encourage you to read all of the articles I've mentioned.  It may open your eyes.  As they did mine.  Especially the plight of these bankers.  Forced to live on half a million a year.  You've only got to read how they must have the money for private schools and limos and chauffeurs and personal trainers and whatnot.   Not that I begrudge some for having these things.  But how helpful it might be if bankers had to take public transportation and make use of public schools and thus see for themselves how important these two publicly funded institutions can be - for the rest of us.  Maybe they would have a little sympathy for Amelie and her family.  Maybe they would have a little sympathy for the word welfare.

I'm distressed here.  I'll admit that.  I'm distressed at the selfishness and the self-centeredness of some.  I'm distressed that they would plead for better than half a million dollars a year - to support their cosseted lifestyles.  When having to live on less might help them understand what the country is going through. 

It seems to me that if this country is going through hard times, some of our leaders need to be the first ones to decide to live on less.  They need to try it, if only for a year.  They need it - to understand how the rest of us live.  To know what it is, even if you having savings, to see the lay of the land, to realize your future may look far dimmer than you had envisioned, and that if you don't get used to living on less (or at the very least not expect "more"), you may be one of those seeking soup kitchens and homeless shelters down the road.

Larry H. wrote several comments here, here, and here. which I commend to your attention.  He very much wants us to look more deeply at this demise of the consumer economy and where we're going as a nation.  As SleepinJesus wrote about so eloquently here.    I suspect we need to severely downscale our military presence abroad.  And to consider other solutions, as Tim noted here.  We may need to reassess many things about ourselves as a people and how we live our lives as individuals.  For example, this comment, by our own quinn this morning (and his thought on previous blogs like this one).

You can see I'm setting a table here.  Not really laying out a menu.  But more of a buffet.  A buffet of articles and comments and issues.  Because we need to reassess.  Like people who've been on a drunken binge and finally wake up and decide to go all-out with AA, we need to look at those 12 steps, so to speak.  To consider our values (as Tom is doing) and what really matters.

This is a post about what really matters.  Quinn gets at that and has done in many posts and comments.  Many of us writing here are grappling with it.  Meanwhile, for whatever reason, some are trying to distract from that grappling and make our business here one of infighting, rather than honest wrestling with the real issues that confront each of us as our country heads into the equivalent of a half-way house for debters and PTSD sufferers, while some want to play the fiddle, like Nero, and pretend the "good life" (and their view of it) is owed to them.

I hope that in the comments we can discuss the realities of our current situation.  And the need to address them realistically.  And the ways in which each of us can work on that in our own lives or work together for the good of the nation and the world.  Let us confine ourselves to practicalities and desist from wasteful word-wars, which accomplish nothing.  If you want a nasty free-for-all, please put up a blog for that purpose.  Or I'll be glad to put one up for you.   Because I've laid a buffet here.  Not a food-fight.  Our nation is at a cross-roads, and I for one am completely in agreement with the ideals of stillidealistic - not just for the wider world around us, but right here on this blog and this website.

Let us honestly reason together.  And leave behind us childish things.



I think a wave of public indignation is building, possibly a tsunami, and the people at the top of the income scale who are about to get hit by it don't even see it coming. One of the things that I'm going to explore in an upcoming post is how, for evolutionary reasons, dominance creates feelings of entitlement and suppresses feelings of empathy. This means that that people at the top actually feel that it is wrong, morally, in the sense of injustice, for them to have to live on a half million a year. And when people feel that something is morally true, they can never understand why everyone else can't the same thing. Boy, are they in for a shock. In a year people will be coming at them with pitchforks.
I hope it never gets to pitchforks. But yes, I can see that Tsunami building too.
“The puzzle to me is the lack of social unrest,” [political philosopher Sheldon S.] Wolin said when I asked why we have not yet seen rioting or protests. He said he worried that popular protests will be dismissed and ignored by the corporate media. This, he said, is what happened when tens of thousands protested the war in Iraq. This will permit the state to ruthlessly suppress local protests, as happened during the Democratic and Republic conventions.
A sobering thought, thanks Ellen.

Hmmm, first to the buffet. Before I follow the links, I'll sample from your offering, Thera P.
"Especially the plight of these bankers. Forced to live on half a million a year."
I've noted several instances lately of these poor folks speaking in a very defensive tone. That's new. That says they are feeling the weight of millions of citizens who are shaking their fists and throwing virtual tomatoes at them. Poor investment bankers, mortgage bankers, financial leading lights. How are they to bear the disdain and even hatred they've engendered? Whine even more about the personal trainer or chauffeur they've had to let go?
Then we will begin to throw rotten eggs, to let them know that, while we empathize with the chauffeur who's out of a job, we wish no solace for greedy, entitled so-and-sos who absolutely, positively are at least 70% responsible for the financial tsunami engulfing the globe.
If you've not seen this video, you really must. Music and beauty and emotion are in the toolbox we must use wisely to help repair our hurting nation, and earth.
You point out something similar to Tom (above). The ones with the perks are now having to defend that or else feeling shame. A very interesting development here. (I'll pursue your link)
Ravenwind, thank you so much for that link. I'm sending it to my contact list and putting it up on my facebook page.
I'm going to need the box of kleenex that I sent to Bwak back!
This may surpass "Proud To Be An American" as my favorite modern patriotic song...
Please consider putting it up as a blog of it's own. If you don't want to please let me know ( or comment here) and I'll do it...
Anyone who didn't click the link, please do. It will be worth the few minutes it takes to listen.
Amelie presents an example of what the government should be looking at in terms of solving the housing problem.
"We can do it if...." And here is how. The 'equity' in the home is gone, but that does not mean it will not reappear in five, ten, fifteen years and the homeowners are willing to stick it out, if adjustments can be made. It is fiscally irresponsible not to work out a way to help those people. Everybody wins.
This model of mortgage 'amendment' could be applied to $500,000 mortgages or $100,000.00 mortgages. The middle class.
I was watching Sunday cable and regular news shows this morning and it all ends up being political to me. I get angry. The reps are crying socialism and fiscal irresponsibility and blah, blah, blah. Underneath it all they are saying that people need to work out their own problems.
We Amelie and millions of others are saying, look we can work this out. Just tweak the payment schedule. And whether it is the half a million dollar mortgage or the the hundred thousand dollar mortgage, we know what happens if nothing is worked out. The home is abandoned, the neighborhood is hurt--everybody's home in the area goes down in value. The cost of fix up together with the cost of sale as well as the cost of new financing...everybody loses.
As far as the millionaires in areas like NYC--the plush residences, I have no comment. I do not care and never will. I suppose the market will make those places less expensive.
Amelie covers any issue concerning the drunken binge. She and her partner lost two jobs. They are back attempting to survive and from her comment, they would be more than happy to keep their home. New suburban gas guzzlers or the the
latest in fashion would be irrelevant to their lives.
Without helping the middle class with more than just $300.00 rebates, all those with less lose much automatically.
The middle class has been losing a grand a year since w took office and could lose a hell of a lot more in the next couple of years if nothing is done.
On a personal level I have already cried enough about losing everything in 'my prime' so to speak.
Individually you find that everything is relative.
Today I am happy it is in the thirties and I could open up windows in my small apartment for a change. The air rushed out of the apartment and killed two small birds and a squirrel.
Maybe you might tell us more of your travails, being homeless for time, having major medical problems that must have been difficult in a society that offers so little care for times when a person is down on their luck or in medical need.
This post needs to be published wide and far. Thanks so much.
For better or worse, we all are products/victims of our environments. Most only 'know' what, where and who of their own lifestyles.
It is only when we 'escape' our own environment, whether due to want or need, that we can relate, understand and even acknowledge with any clarity another's truth.
That old saw, 'I felt bad because I had no shoes, until I saw one with no feet' may be pertinent, but perhaps how each would answer to the queries, 'What would you give up to feed a hungry child.......deliver medicine to those in need......provide heat to the shivering......(and the list goes on).
I have a fantasy that all our elected officials should have to live as the poorest of us for 90 days. That the richest of us should 'exchange' lifestyles with the poorest of us. Again, the list goes on...
It isn't until we all truly suffer and prosper as one heart that too many of us can or will truly understand or even care about 'those other people'.
Instead of 'What have you done for me lately?', how about 'What can I do to help (even a stranger)?'

Your comments are so rare and discerning.
I am honored to have your recommendation here.
Oh Puleeze. Your posts are always 'le creme'.
Thanks for the kind words, but most of all I extend gratitude for making us think, care and acknowledge humanity. The good, bad and truly ugly. No one does it better. Please, keep on....
I am humbled.
I'll keep trying.
Ah, looks like some of the same words and images were coming to Tom and me at about the same time.
That image of a Tsunami is a mark of how scary things are right now. Very telling that it's cropping up frequently.
However, "pitchforks" is a lot stronger than my little "throwing tomatoes." Yes, pitchforks and torchlight, makes one long for the good old days. When one's oppressors lived in closer proximity. Sigh. I'm a long way from Wall Street.
Maybe some time you'd like to put up a blog detailing how far from Wall Street. As I said to dd above, sometimes it's very helpful to paint for others just how difficult things can be when any of us falls on hard times for whatever reason, spouse abuse, medical problems, and so on.
You mean to tell others about how someone can go from making $70k a year to bankruptcy to losing their home (a very modest manufactured home in a mobilehome park) in under three years, all due to illness?
Always being in the avant garde, I went through my losses a few years before the rest of the country, starting in 2001. But an insane amount of the problem was due directly not only to my illness but also to the cost of taking care of myself, all in the hope that when I got "better," I could salvage everything I'd worked for.
No matter what savings I had to deplete or what possessions I had to sell, the first thing I made sure I paid for—out of the fear of things getting even worse—was my health insurance. And then, of course, all of the expenses for doctors' visits, medication, and all the rest came next.
I am absolutely certain that without those costs off the top of what I had and what little I could earn, I would not have lost everything ultimately. And I am also certain that the stress and depression and worry around not just my illness but the need to make sure that I could continue to pay for my care exacerbated the situation and slowed my recovery.
Of all the things that we need to do to get us out of this dreadful economic mess we're in now, I firmly believe that establishing single-payer healthcare based on HR 676 is the first and best thing to do. So much will fall into place when Americans do not need to be fearful about how they can stay healthy or get the right care and treatment for their illnesses.
If you haven't taken a look at it, give the CA Nurses' Assn.-sponsored analysis of the economic benefits of single-payer healthcare at .
Pardon the delay in replying dear Facilitatrix. And thank you for laying out your personal situation and how lack of free medical care left you in a downward spiral - as so many others have found.
I'd like to quote you as it pertains (below):
You can call a lack of interest in screaming and taunting "wake up people, you're all fools!" elitism if you wish. I call it a desire for intelligent civil conversation.
Thank you for those words of wisdom!
As the world around you crumbles, let us take to mind that reality as you perceive it is wrong.
By continuing the sham and shame of a two party system (that is not), you have sown the seeds of your own destruction.
The sooner you realize that the elected officials in Congress have more similarities among them (no matter what party) than you do and any of them, you will realize that the word "representative" is not accurate.
Stop framing your discussion in old ways. Stop imagining the Democratic Party of 2008 are like the Democratic Party of 1932.
It's over.
YOU perpetuate the problem by constantly sending the same people back to Congress!!!
You remind me of the person who, driving a car, notices a loud grinding sound. You keep on driving, hoping the sound will go away.
Your ideas are subtlety framed by the media. That's why you don't think you can form a REAL LEFT PARTY.
Watch this and also this.
(You are so swallowed up by the media, you dont' even know what a real leftist voice sounds like!!!)
TPM "regurgitates conventional pieties". This is the problem.
Here is the second link I meant to include.
PS The same techniques are used at TPM (with less finesse) but for the same purpose. That purpose is to control the scope and nature of the discussion by the reigning elite.
Thank you.

Exhibit "A" in how you try to stifle debate, TheraP.
It's clear you haven't even read my comment, let alone thought about it.
Care to try for Exhibit "B"???

You're commenting in the wrong place, Fred.
A special place for Fred's Food Fights is here:
YIKES! here is how you get off on the wrong foot:
As the world around you crumbles, let us take to mind that reality as you perceive it is wrong.
A person's perceptions ARE their reality. They cannot be judged by others as right or wrong, just different. When you come storming in proclaiming that your view is the only right one, everyone gets defensive and quits listening.
I happen to agree in large part that they are all Repulicrats. But in a 2-party system, that's what we have to deal with. Voting for a fringe group is, imho, a waste of a vote. It makes you feel good, but it is, in MY "reality" a vote for the opposition. So for me, the dems are my best bet to get to the America I want to live in. I feel like I will better off pressuring them to see things my way.
That doesn't make me right and you wrong. It just means we have different viewpoints. The sooner you realize THAT and start trying to CONVINCE people as to the validity or your viewpoint, rather than DEMANDING that we accept it, the sooner your voice will be heard.
A person's perceptions ARE their reality.
Not true. Just because you don't believe in gravity doesn't mean you won't die if you walk off a cliff!!!
And how do you feel about TheraP deliberately trying to goad me personally? By trying to violate my privacy??? Especially after my comments were made to Barefoot and OLD GROUCH???

The sooner you realize THAT and start trying to CONVINCE people as to the validity or your viewpoint, rather than DEMANDING that we accept it, the sooner your voice will be heard.
I don't have to demand anything.
You keep trying to use a hammer on a screw and can't figure out why it doesn't go in. When you don't use the right tool, it doesn't matter how hard you try, you will fail.
In the meantime, Rome burns, whether you get it or not!!!
That's why I don't have to demand. At some point, you will be desperate enough to figure out you need a NEW WAY!!! Maybe it will be in time to save Rome (yourself) or maybe not.
I'm trying to get that idea across.
Please watch the Chomsky video I suggested. YOU WILL SEE!!!

Use your own analogy on your behavior:
You keep trying to use a hammer on a screw and can't figure out why it doesn't go in. When you don't use the right tool, it doesn't matter how hard you try, you will fail.
You are using a hammer on a screw...try using a screwdriver...
Just a suggestion.
Have you watched the videos???

Fred, it is time for you to realize that the sort of shite you sling means you will not be taken seriously here.
After your GBCW post of yesterday, I'm sure many were hoping that the last we heard of you would be the door hitting you on your exit.
Then again, Warren Zevon said the same things you did, albeit much better, stronger, and with a good melody to boot:
"Oh, poor, poor me,
poor poor pitiful me..."
Your ship has sailed , Fred. Too bad you weren't on it. Better start swimming now.

Or what, Fred?
For me, I'm going to have friends on each end of the pitchfork. Because, though I hate to say it, even if it doesn't come to physical violence quite like that - we're already getting "violent" consequences from the world we have built. When you get thrown out of your job, or your house... that's probably more violent, in some sense, that a pitchfork in the arse.
But to know people on both sides, to have had a life-path that took that route, to have had years, decades, of talks (and laughs, and goodness) with friends on both ends... my. In one way, it makes me feel affirmed in the path I took. But mostly, I just feel a dreadful sadness, to see this thing play out as it is. Pain for those who don't have much & lose it. Pain for my friends who played for wealth, some of whom were - and even still are - good people. And I guess, most of all, pain when I think of what our generation(s) have done. To have been given so much, and so much TIME, and to have wasted it.
It's not over yet, our story, but my God, we had better get this next bit right. Because the pain is rising, and the losses have already accumulated, and to end our lives having put things in such a mess? Unforgiveable.
By the way, I suggest everyone look at this video too.
Quite clearly discusses how the Democrats and the Republicans are just FACTIONS of the SAME ONE PARTY SYSTEM!!!
You will be left to wonder why you can't change things because you are starting off with the wrong assumptions!!!
This is Exibit "B".
What are you so frightened of, TheraP???
Why not watch the video???
And continue to play your antagonistic games. I know the ruling elite here must be really upset with me to goad me like that.
Continue to expose who you really are, TheraP. Keep going.

To understand the genesis of Fred's concerns, see here:
Note how Fred is uncomfortable with the fact that someone from TPM knows his name.
Now, Fred, go over to the blog I especially created for you to post. And leave this thread for the grown-ups.
Under the Terms of Use it says:
9. collect or store personal data about other users.
I don't know if deliberately using my name when I am uncomfortable with it, violates this Terms of Use but I will say it's Exhibit C in your trying to stifle debate.
Talk to the Old Grouch about that. You seem very uncomfortable about his divulging that... and apparently his info comes from elsewhere. It's now all over the spiders. That's your problem, not mine.
Now, run along. Be at peace. I have nothing further to say to you.
So you are going to try to blame OLD GROUCH???
So you admit you did something wrong but because OLD GROUCH did it, it was okay with you???
You are a scary tyrant!!!
You are the BILL OREILLY OF TPM!!!
You arrogantly flout the TERMS OF USE rules???
Okay... we'll see...
Correcting a mistake. Apparently it was barefooted, who knew your name.
You'll have to take it up with her. Indeed, she invited you over to her thread to do that.
Well, TheraP, you may just have an opportunity to explain it all to TPM Management.

Thera, I didn't divulge it first. I caught it and used it, because frankly, the guy is a pustule on the hindquarters of this place, and it clearly upsets him. Not that he's rational in any way now, I just wanted to bug him a bit more. Maybe (doubtful, still...) he'll get the message.
Very mature, OLD GROUCH. Talk about taunting with no practical purpose.

It annoys you. That's reason enough.
Admittedly, it's quite easy - you have the thinnest skin I've ever see, Fred.
Following the link provided, TheraP, there is no real explanation of how YIKES! became "Fred." Methinks it might be a red herring to keep everyone away from knowing who he actually is, especially given the attention "Fred" pays to the effort to get others to quit calling him Fred.
I've got a pretty good idea who it is, but it's not really important - certainly not enough to engage "Fred" in vituperative denials.
barefooted seems to know.... but to me, what's the dif? It's just been noted is all. But I agree with your advice nonetheless.
Melissa gave her real name on this blog and YIKES! responded with this:”
Will anyone on TPM come to my defense here???
Why is the ruling elite here so frightened of my original posts???
Or are the only kind of comments desired the KISS ASS ones???
Perhaps it is not what you say (write), but how you do it.
If what you have been posting has only gotten the same results, well.....try a different tact.
Nobody here is frightened of your postings, but only wishing you would deliver your messages in a more positive and constructive manner. (Will you consider that in this instance, it's not everyone else who has erred?)
And I for one, look forward to receiving your messages without all the 'noise'.
But... I wonder how many here will say "oh, that rape was justified because the girl's clothing was provacative..."

Now you're just being obtuse. You may be 'hearing' us, but you're not 'listening'.
Neither are you.

It must be all the 'noise' I was referencing.
Just so I understand what it is you are asserting:
We're all wrong and you are the only 'voice of reason'?
If you truly believe that, then ......
From TPM Comment Policy:
...3. TPMCafe is a venue for lively and passionate debate. But insults, personal attacks and the like make that sort of enlivening exchange impossible. If you just want to scream and taunt, please go somewhere else. If you wouldn't use a certain word or talk to someone a certain way in a real-life political discussion at a Coffee House, don't do it here either....
Looks to me like you're the only one doing a lot of screaming and taunting. Some are screaming back, but you're the main screamer. It's no surprise few are interested in defending you.
I remember telling you in a comment on one of your early complaint posts that if you planned on simply spouting agitprop, you wouldn't be well received here. I haven't seen you post much else so far besides a few jokes. You don't want to talk about specific issues, you simply want to scream "the Democrats and Republicans are shit, read Zinn and Chomsky." That's propaganda, waving Mao's little red book stuff.
If, on the other hand, you wrote more like oleeb, actually wrote about specific things and argued in good faith about specific issues, rather than just spout agitprop, telling everyone else they are blind, you'll be well received just like oleeb is. I daresay Mrs. Zinn and Chomsky, if members here, would sound a lot more like oleeb and lot less like you.
You can call a lack of interest in screaming and taunting "wake up people, you're all fools!" elitism if you wish. I call it a desire for intelligent civil conversation.
I didn't scream and taunt.
I expressed a point of view. Gave a couple of videos to further things.
And then TheraP came back and tried to goad (taunt) me by using a word or two.
Show me where I taunted TheraP personally???
I dont' use "agiprop". I am trying to point out that the entire discussion is framed IN A MEANINGLESS WAY... Go what Chomsky talk about THAT in the 3rd video I posted above.
WE ARE ASKING THE WRONG QUESTIONS so it's NO WONDER you don't get meaningful answers!!!
Thank you. Apology accepted.

I try not to respond to shouting all-caps. And I read Chomsky---he doesn't use them.
Assertion is not argument.
LOL!!! Well so far people would rather discuss anything EXCEPT the videos!!!
That has to tell you something, doesn't it, Tom???

It tells me you can't make an argument on your own, and expect Chomsky to do your work. Do you assume no one knows anything? How young are you? Come back when you know less, and can stop shouting.
I'm not shouting, I'm EMPHASIZING.
I would much rather bring Chomsky into the discussion than a bunch of bloggers like TheraP did in her blog. What does TheraP's post prove anyway??? That she can collect a bunch of posts and throw it on the wall to see what sticks???
I'm trying to show how the frame of this discussion is all wrong. And why not use Chomsky??? It properly sites his arguments and I don't have to reinvent the wheel.
I'm not young, but I'm not old. I'd tell you my age but I know someone here will start linking it to my name and try to do more harm when they don't like what I post.

PS I assume that people don't know these arguments because I seem to be one of the few who bring them up.

I defend your right to say whatever you please. I defend everyone else's right to be pissed off at the WAY you say it.
It's not WHAT you say, but HOW you say it that gets everyone in an uproar. Until you realize that, nothing is going to change.
BUT, I defend your right to continue on just as you are....the definition of insanity "keep doing things the same way over and over and expect a different outcome." Keep acting the way you are, and you'll keep getting the same response. To expect it to change, is, get my point.
I believe you genuinely think you have thoughts worth listening to, and you do. You are frustrated by your inability to get what you think is the proper recognition for those thoughts. Let me guarantee you that you are not going to get that recognition with the WAY you are communicating them.
It runs against human nature to respond positively to having opinions that differ from yours crammed down your throat...that's not TPM, that's life.
You've decided that TPM is the problem, not the way you communicate. Open your mind to the possibility that you may be wrong about that.
Go out to other blog sites and act just the way you are acting here. If you are accepted there, you will have found a new home and proved me wrong. You will be happier.
OR, moderate your tone, quit reacting to every single perceived wrong, join in the discussions w/o preaching, stop taking cheap shots (yeah, lots of people will continue to take them at you, but you need to ignore them, make that IGNORE THEM) and try to get a do over. It's hard to get a 2nd chance at a 1st impression, but if you want to be anything other than an annoyance around here, you're going to have to try. You come back w/ a "mea culpa" post and a better attitude, and I'll be 1st in line to suggest that you get another chance. Fair? Maybe not. Reality? You betcha!
Who am I to talk to you like this? I don't own this site. I am not an elite anything. I'm not part of a ruling class. My opinion is not worth more than anyone else's. I'm just someone who wants you be successful here and is willing to stick her neck into your guillotine to give you suggestions on how to do that. So take me out and shoot me.
BUT, I defend your right to continue on just as you are....the definition of insanity "keep doing things the same way over and over and expect a different outcome." Keep acting the way you are, and you'll keep getting the same response. To expect it to change, is, well...
And this is my point. How many people here are shocked by the fact that the country continues to devolve??? The bogey men like the Republicans don't explain anything.
So keep having debates that have been framed wrong and it's no wonder things aren't changing.
I never said anything harsh to anyone personally in my post.
Have you watched the videos yet???

Out of my whole heartfelt comment that quote is the only one you felt merited a response? Nothing to say about my honest suggestions? No concession that I may have a valid point? No "I'll give serious consideration to your suggestions?" No "thanks for trying, Stilli?"
Jeez, guy...I don't know how else I can help you.
I'm obviously not penetrating your defenses.
...and no. I did not watch the video you referenced here (although I did watch the 1st ones you posted.) I will not be paying any more attention to your political thoughts or view points or watching any videos, until you moderate the way you present them. You are acting like a spoiled child, and I intend to treat you like one as long as you do. You don't give a spoiled child what they want.
This is truly the stupidest post I've ever seen.
Apparently you have nothing to contribute EXCEPT to discuss personalities and write dreamy posts about an America that never existed.
The more I try to talk about the videos to talk about politics, the more you want to talk about my behavior.
Could there be any more proof that you don't come here for political discussion??? You come here for validation of your friends.
Which makes your "contribution" less than nothing.

Read your own some time, Fred.
Stilli, you have made the best recommendation so far. You wil notice I have not chosen to engage this SHOUTING BABOON for some time now. After all, why mud-wrestle with pigs? All you get is dirty, and you discover that the pig actually enjoys it.
Fair? Maybe not. Reality? You betcha!
Remember this the next time you don't think the government is "fair".

I had a similar argument with my very republican father when pointing out what I believe is a strong need for limits on executive compensation. Our CEO made $11 million or so in 2007 in salary alone, and if he'd just cut that salary to a million, they could pay the salaries of 200 or more of the people they laid off. It's really frustrating, as it was his (and other senior executives) whose policies led to the losses in the first place. How much is too much? Don't know an exact answer. But until now, the Boards of companies like mine weren't even asking. Very soon, however, there will be some answers.

Yes, I suspect that many corporations will have such questions. I'm thinking of those nuns, for example, who buy one share of a company and use that to go to shareholder meetings and bring certain topics up. For example here:
But why confine it to nuns? Some of us here might resolve to do the same.
Thera, thanks for the thought provoking post and links that made for an enjoyable morning's read.
Sorry for participating in the derailment, but for some unknown reason, I feel the need to help this guy get rehabilitated here. I know it is probably a lost cause, but sometimes I'm just the queen of lost causes. Isn't that part of why you love me :-)
Thanks for calling me a lost cause.
Why not go back up the thread and decide who really derailed it???
Unless your point is that I should have been allowed to post on this thread to begin with???

Typo... should NOT have been allowed to post on this thread to begin with???

This is how the tit for tat crap goes...I didn't say YOU were a lost cause, I said your rehabilitation was probably a lost cause. I never suggested you shouldn't post on this thread. I pointed out that your very first sentence was combative. If you want to have a dialog, at least be factual, and if it isn't germane to the post as hand, let's take it somewhere else.
We can meet at your last post, if you'd like.
And yet not a single comment about how TheraP was deliberately trying to use a word (in boldface) to taunt me... after I asked several other posters not to... and after everyone knew it was a privacy issue???
You see??? Two sets of rules... one for the elite, one for the others.
Mirrors our own society. How can we begin fixing society when even in this microcosm we can't get it right???

I can't go back and piece together who did what 1st. I have no ability to demand a cease fire around here. What I do have is a lot of evidence that you have pissed off a lot of people around here, and I am trying to give you my very best advise as to how to proceed if you want to be heard.
Sometimes in this world, you just have to suck it up. You can be right, or you can be happy. I've always chosen happy. Here, you can be right (in your mind) or you can suck it up and try for a do over. Your choice. Can't for the life of me figure out why I care. I must see SOMETHING in you...(or I'm just a sucker...who knows.)
Really hypocritical, Stillidealistic. If you have no idea on what transpired, why the hell did you jump in and start giving a lecture to ME??? (And it's not that hard, just go to my first comment on this thread and proceed... if you were really interested that is... which it's clear you are not...)
By the way, when you ask "what happened to that America?" Just take your own advice... SUCK IT UP!!!
Did I get your advice correct???
In fact, you have no reason to be upset at all.
Just SUCK IT UP!!!
Really works, doesn't it???

I wasn't talking about what happened on this thread, duh....I was talking about your arrival at TPM. What happened on this thread is a direct result of the views people hold of you, based on what has occurred since your arrival.
That's it...I'm done. You are intentionally and with malice of forethought twisting everything I say, and refusing to accept my hand in friendship...If you need any further example of your schizophrenic behavior, compare this to your comment on my thread. You are capable of niceness. You chose not to be.
So make a notch on whatever you have been notching. You've pushed another one over the edge... But if you are truly attempting to change thinking in this country, you've alienated another person who was open to your thinking. Way to go!

You remind me of the kid who threatens to hold her breath to show she is displeased.
TheraP apparently didn't want debate, she wanted consensus and validation. That's why with my first post here on this thread, she wanted to put it into her "food fight" blog. In other words, limit the type of ideas here.
And if you can't attack the ideas, attack the personality of person saying the ideas. Chomskey directly refers to this in his video when he talks about how the public isn't supposed to vote on the issues, but the "quality" of the candidates (where you want to drink a beer with Bush for example).
So, Stillidealistic, I FORBID you from going to read Howard Zinn and I FORBID you from ever watching a Noam Chomsky video again. You are FORBIDDEN from thinking about anything I would think about... and please don't ever agree with anything I say.
YES. YES. NOW ALL IS WELL IN THE WORLD. And we can talk about the "best of two choices presented" and wonder why neither party delivers for us.
It's comfortable in THE MATRIX, YES???
And now people are collecting and using this data.
And showing their real behavior, especially when I ask them not to.
But I thank you for showing how rotten your souls are.

If you have anything to say to me, I'll see you on the other thread where trash is welcome. But not another word from me to you here.
Back from the road, M. Got your back again, should it prove necessary.
I didn't say YOU were a lost cause, I said your rehabilitation was probably a lost cause.
Nice word parsing. Maybe you have a future in Washington DC also.

I think we need to give it up and use our energy to communicate with someone who truly is interested in doing more than venting and attempting to stir the pot.
That said, good to see ya, hope all is well.

Thanks, Sam! I miss you! If you get back to this...e-mail me ( I'd love to catch up.
I've missed you too. Will email later, I promise.
Don't you find it interesting that with all YIKES diatribe, Fred hasn't posted what he would give up for others on my post? Hmmmmm. One would think he would be all over that shouting out all he would 'give up'.
And remember, part of why you are so treasured is because you don't give up easily and always try to help others. God Bless.
That must be the measure of a someone - a willingness to give.
That should have read "the measure of a person" or else "the measure of someone" - but it got lost in translation.
You sanctimonious arrogant person!!!
I am out of work. As of yesterday, I put in a call to cancel my Internet connection. I am cutting back to save a few dollars. It's outlined in my blog if you care (which I know you don't).
So go ahead and enjoy your short term gain. You may have something to "give up" today, but the middle class is eroding. And all your treasured assets may end up like so much paper in the wind.
I'm sure you feel superior so you can publicly post your big hearts about charity.
But you know what??? I never needed a crisis to help a neighbor. That's the difference between YOU and ME!!!

Maybe you could give up arrogant self-righteousness, Fred. It doesn't help you any, and makes it far too easy for the rest of us to dismiss you out of hand.
Me, I just like bothering you. Nice, big, slow-moving target...
It is apparent that you are a very stressed out person. I'm sure I speak for most here when I urge you to have your blood pressure checked (it's free at many places); be careful of your sugar and salt intake; limit alcohol and/or other drugs that only serve to further your depression and try some relaxing meditation or other stress relievers. Eat protein, vegetables and take vitamins.
Perhaps you should refrain from placing yourself in stressful situations whenever possible. For example, interacting here where you obviously get too frustrated and upset.
If you do not regain some sense of balance, you could suffer serious consequences such as heart disease, stroke and impotency. No one wants you to continue to suffer or experience any ill health.
Take care. This is a reality check.
I do love you. No doubt about that. And I take you as you are. Though I think a little of Aunt Sam's advice could be taken by all of us as well. :)
I know (tail between legs!) I keep getting sucked in. Sometimes its hard to just admit defeat.
There. You've put your finger on it!
Admit defeat? You have not conceded to Fred's view, and Fred has not conceded to your's. It is a draw. Although it appears there are many people in agreement with your POV and no readers have found it reasonable to agree with Fred's.
If there is one theme that I can find in all of the different links you presented this morning, it is that everyone, regardless of their circumstance, is seeking a new and better understanding of their situation. I take this as a small confirmation that I was correct when I suggested that you were on to something bigger than personal buying habits in your post “RIP: Consumer Economy.”
When those whom you cited ventured a suggestion for the place to look for that new understanding, they pointed to the past, especially their familial and cultural ancestors. This is simple wisdom I suspect. If one’s house has collapsed because the foundation eroded away, then the rebuilding should begin with digging deep enough to anchor the new foundation in solid bed rock. In that spirit, and in the spirit of moving toward solutions (which is always the energy behind your posts TheraP), I offer this little personal source of encouragement from my ancestors. As “Quinn Esq.” so nicely points out, they showed courage and, because they did, here I am.
I am in possession of a diary written by a man in my father’s lineage who came across the country with his family in a covered wagon, circa 1850. They were ordinary folk. He was a Protestant minister.
Friday, May 24, 1850
“Started at six o’clock before another company camping close by which crossed the Missouri the day before. Crossed the Pappio twelve miles and went to the Elk Horn River five miles further. This we also crossed and then camped two and a half miles beyond the creek. Just by was Charles Davis’ company. The scenery as you descend the hills to the Elk Horn is perfectly enchanting. The river flows at your feet, clothed on both sides with luxuriant trees which were just appearing in all their greenness. Beyond it lie the plains, extending for hundreds of miles and in the distance is the Platte River again fringed by trees. I stopped the mare to gaze on the scene and to be alone being in advance of the company. So this, I thought, is the abode of the wild men and in such a scene as this is witnessed their Indian propensities and here in this beautiful place, we have to feel less secure and beware of their acts…”
Rev. Hinds did press on and so, as “Quinn Esq.” explains, here I am.
“The thousand mile journey begins with the first step.” (Lao Tzu) Perhaps it is enough right now just to take that first step, to press on. Our first step may be simply to recognize that we have begun another “thousand mile journey,” another migration. If such is the case then the first question is “What do we want to take with us to our destination, and what do we want to leave behind?”
And let me add a little moral imperative to this discussion. Will those who come after us be able to say they owe a little something to our fortitude and courage now?

Larry, you are outstanding! You read, you think, you point to the heart of the matter, and you urge us on. It reminds me again of quinn's post about the shaman woman. And her people, who followed her into a new life.
Quinn is busy trying to forecast what's coming. And you chime in with this necessary question:
“What do we want to take with us to our destination, and what do we want to leave behind?”
I was working on this comment, when bwak posted below. But it's the nub of what we're after here. And I thank for that, Larry!
And to underscore your moral imperative:
Will those who come after us be able to say they owe a little something to our fortitude and courage now?
Great stuff, JLH. The U2 song "Walk On" captures this perfectly for me. You probably know it, but it starts, "The only baggage you can bring, Is all that you can't leave behind." And closes with a list: "You've got to leave it behind. All that you fashion. All that you make. All that you build. All that you break. All that you measure. All that you feel. All this you can leave behind.
I've come to believe that this thing we're living in is... though it scares me to death... "done." So... perhaps, another migration. Or maybe better, as many have said, a putting down of roots, for the first time, in this place. Which is why I told that story of the 12,000 year old woman shaman a while back. Whose people had likely been migratory, but who then, began to settle down. Houses appearing. Harvested crops. Domesticated animals. Burials, including hers, the first in that particular cave. She made me think about what they went through, what she must have seen/felt. And what could she have brought with her? She was crippled, a bum leg - so she would have understood fairly well what you can take with you, and what you couldn't.
Right now, as you say, when we look for alternatives, we pull the ones we know best off the shelf. Some politicos pull Socialism off. That may be. There are likely some things of value there. Others hear "Crash" & "Depression," and their minds kick back to the 30's. They start thinking of "self-sufficient living," or perhaps, the WPA. But this Depression isn't 100% like that one. therefore, neither will all their solutions work. The US is a debtor nation this time, not a creditor. Was surpassing old Europe then, this time watching Asia rise. Is 90% urbanized, and our extended families & family farms often can't be returned to. Others see chaos, warfare, militias, Mad Max, dystopian novels, SciFi.
I see parts of all of these, but most of all want to avoid these jaws, this crossing, avoid leaving so much behind.
If we go, what do we take? Well, to sort that out - and assuming we're getting past the denial - we have to review these other alternatives & histories in our minds, and do the wheat/chaff. We have to understand the new forces which we have created, these past 40+ years, whether green/energy tech, the Internet, etc. And then, we have to see how much of this we want to carry, can carry, and can PLANT.
What will those who come after say? Well, all we can do is place our bets with our blood/sweat, hands/hearts, minds, eh? I think we've got a fair bit of that in storage, actually. Though it's gotten damned dusty in there, these past years. Still. I think we may just surprise our kids & grandkids. Here's hoping.
Will those who come after us be able to say they owe a little something to our fortitude and courage now?
That is up to every single one of us.
Good point, and thanks for bringing it home.
Will those who come after us be able to say they owe a little something to our fortitude and courage now?
I see neither here at TPM.
But there is a lot of self-congratulation for it.
Is that what you meant???
Speaking only about myself I think you are right. I am afraid to respond to you. I don't think I have the fortitude to outlast your barbs. And I do congratulate myself, therefore, for not responding.
You seem to think that my replies are uniform in tone and you have no evidence for that. I treat everyone here as individuals.
But I agree, you are definitely self-congratulatory.

I congratulate you as well, Larry. I did not have that self discipline, and what did it get me?
BTW, nice comment.
It seems to me that if this country is going through hard times, some of our leaders need to be the first ones to decide to live on less. They need to try it, if only for a year.
You are asking the powerful to give up their power for a time.
How practical is that???
What do you think it will take for the powerful to give up their power???

(This is a reply to Quinn Esq and Oleeb as well but you were first to bring me back.)
Thanks for bringing me back on topic. You are quite right. The “powerful” will not likely give up their power. What we should do is simple leave them behind. “Quinn Esq.” quoted U2 very effectively, let me go back a ways and quote Jefferson Airplane: “All your property is targets for your enemy, and your enemy is we.” (Volunteers of America). It takes an enormous amount of labor to provide the infrastructure that supports the modern elites. If the ordinary person were to simply walk away from that labor and find a new “economy,” then the elites would have no one to protect and maintain their pile of things. As a strategy this has the charm that it is both peaceful in its execution and toxic to the culture of greed that dominates modern life. Food or energy or any other thing one might consider worth having is supplied only by the local community, eschewing the false “economy of scale” that has produced our current economic dilemma. This in my thinking is the modern “Benedictine Rule.” If you remember your history it was the success of the monastery that led to the “manor system” which in turn made the Middle Ages a time of economic security and in fact more “liberal” than our modern era. The historian James Burke observed about technologies “If you understand it then it is outdated technology.” The new rule should be “If you don’t understand it, it is useless.”
Now let’s go out to the garage and see what we want to keep and what we want to leave behind.

The easiest thing to do is not to reelect these people again and again. Congress should not be a lifetime job. You can see how that, and the seniority system, gums up the entire works.
That would be a start in leaving them behind.
The problem, as I see it, is that people get fixated on labels. So they want to keep reelecting someone if they are from the "correct" party and will merely oppose someone that is from the "wrong" party.
How often is a Congress person challenged in a primary??? They have rigged the rules to entitle themselves to longevity of career. It seems to me, this is the easiest place to start.

I'd like to see those bastards living on $50,000.00 year or on the poverty wages they are so comfortable paying others. We live in a modern Dickensian world where the rich are insufferably out of touch with reality and so self-absorbed they are apparently incapable of understanding what is going on in the world to most people.
I don't think it is the end of the consumer economy. I think it is the beginning of the end of the consumer. The one criticial element to the capitalist setup we now have that the reactionaries and apologists for all the rotten policies of the past 30 years forget is that in order to sustain the consumer economy you have to have a population that has some money. I'm not talking about a lot of money, but enough to get by and then enough to spend on enough nonessentials to keep the whole machine in motion. Now they have starved the middle class for decades and are rapidly unemploying them at this point. The whole scheme of the past 60 years collapses without a large and relatively prosperous middle class, a.k.a. a large consumer class.
In my view the most important thing people can do is to face the fact that we must now do many of the things that ought to have been done during the past 60 years but weren't. We need a national health care system, we need to invest in infrastructure, education and scientific research of all kinds. We need to dismantle the empire beginning with the obscene military expenditures and apparatus of the United States much of which is quite literally useless to us. We must accept responsibility for and then make sure we carry out the development and implementation of a radical plan to reverse the global warming problem. This is the most important responsibility we have becuase our action will literally decide the fate of the world. If we want future generations, we must act to preserve our environment and halt global warming with all the speed we can muster. The clock is running out on humanity.
Thank you, oleeb. It's such an honor to have you post here.
Hear, Hear, oleeb!
Another thought provoking comment, oleeb. I'm afraid we are in for some awfully rough times, but I think we can weather it. Hopefully those who recognize the dire straights we are in will prevail.
Now they have starved the middle class for decades and are rapidly unemploying them at this point. The whole scheme of the past 60 years collapses without a large and relatively prosperous middle class, a.k.a. a large consumer class.
Hasn't this happened before Oleeb?
I am the seed ground. I am a prairie that will stand for much plowing. Terrible storms pass over me. I forget. The best of me is sucked out and wasted. I forget. Everything but Death comes to me and makes me work and give up what I have. And I forget. --Sandburg
I don't disagree that we're in for a rough ride. I'm just not sure I want to stand with the creationists that seem to think the world is ending.
It's, pardon the pun, a bit chicken little-ish.
Let me get this right: "A rough ride on a chicken?" This is going to require some claymation ala "Chicken Run." Let me go get some Playdough. Wait a minute. The economy has collapsed. I don't have any dough. Now I'm really confused.
There is always play clay. Flour and baking soda. Loads of fun for the whole family.
I'm on it. But how do you keep from gumming up the keyboard? Oh I know. Stop typing.
I like you.
I don't get the connection between the end of the world and creationism and what I wrote at all. When I wrote that time is running out for humanity I was referring to the fact that if we don't act to reverse global warming now, that the destructive forces we have begun to unleash may not be able to be stopped. If we allow that to happen that means we will have made the future on earth virtually uninhabitable by human beings because we will no longer be able to sustain ourselves.
It is by no means an exaggeration to realize and articulate that the fate of the world is quite literally in the hands of the present generation with respect to climate change. It is a tremendous responsibility whether we want to take it seriously or not. It is far and away the greatest crisis humanity has ever faced or likely ever will face. The ice caps are already melting and very rapidly. Sea levels are already rising. The human generated gases that cause the warming are not only not abating but they are growing which means we are doing exactly what we shouldn't if we love humanity and that is we are accelerating the process.
Anyone paying any attention at all has noticed the changes in the weather patterns. Changing the weather is no small matter if you have even the slightest grasp of how enormous the implications of that are even in the short run. Not to take this challenge in the most serious and grave manner is foolishness beyond belief.
I am aware of absolutely nothing that would connect creationists with a realistic understanding of exactly what is at stake with global warming and climate change. I would actually point out that the creationists who are head in the sand sorts when it comes to science are far closer to those who are not taking global warming and climate change as seriously as they should simply because they do not feel immediately threatened by it. Both ignore the scientific evidence and in the case of global warming they ignore the dire warnings coming from the world's leading climate scientists.
As for the middle class, no, we really never have seen this happen before because the fact is that prior to the New Deal the middle class in America was extremely small. Only with the advent of the New Deal and the post war boom has a large and prosperous middle class been extant in the United States.
What we have experienced in the past 60 years in terms of the expansion of the middle class is unprecedented and almost exactly the opposite of the norm in the whole of US history. The traditional setup in America has been a small, elite and very wealthy ruling class, a small middle class, and a vast lower class that serves them. The rise of unions and the New Deal changed that and many, if not most, have forgotten that what we know as normal is not the norm at all historically speaking. Most of those who consider themselves middle class in this country come from families that only a short time ago were essentially peasants. That is where most of us are headed back to if we don't act quickly.
What is happening, and it should be no surprise, is that the caveman conservatives of the Republican Party and in the business world have dismantled and destroyed much what helped to expand today's middle class and keep it going. Accordingly, we are returning to the social structure of the past where few middle class people are possible. That is the past that conservatives worship where the government maintains laissez faire policies toward business and the "fittest" (read the richest) survive or prosper and everyone else suffers in order to make it so.
Well, you are both talking about the end of the world, is all. I was sort of trying to be funny, too. I guess I wasn't. I apologize.
(shuffling feet)
I happen to agree with most everything you said, truly. I was mostly referring to your comments on losing consumers. THAT, I believe has happened before, and may well get that bad this time.
We got through it, and I have a lot of faith in the mob.
de nada bwak
TheraP, you have once again brought us the best of the best. The best comments at the best blog.
Stay with us. We may learn much.
I hope we all learn together here. And heed the words of Larry and oleeb and quinn, of sandberg (above), and that wonderful quote from Steinbeck, quoted by Justice Putnam in Sleepin's blog:
"I'll be all around in the dark. I'll be everywhere. Wherever you can look, wherever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad. I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready, and when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build, I'll be there, too."
Grapes of Wrath
The only disagreement I have, Oleeb, with how you put your good thoughts together is: " . . .reactionaries and apologists for all the rotten policies of the past 30 years forget is that in order to sustain the consumer economy you have to have a population that has some money."
I simply don't believe they "forget." What I see is that they're caught in a horrible cognitive dissonance that has made them literally crazy.
Unions are bad, workers must be controlled, profit is god, must have workers to make profit, workers must not be paid well or profit not as high, workers paid lousy can't buy stuff; workers can't buy stuff, profits not as high, profits go down, workers laid off, profits go down, more workers laid off, can't buy stuff from anybody; unions bad, etc., etc., economy go boom!
Seems pretty crazy making to me.
Or (and I am merely repeating a comment I heard a caller make on the radio yesterday) those who have great wealth are happy to see the whole thing collapse. When the bottom is reached, as it must be, then they can come back in and buy everything – stocks, real estate, power itself – at bargain prices. It may be risky but it is not crazy. I give you Napolean III.
Larry, you've put your finger on it! Just let everything collapse, real estate, stocks, commodities - so they come back and rake it all in for themselves.
Thus, your idea above of the Benedictine Rule.
There is so much to learn from the monastic tradition!
I think that the entire history of Western Europe in the Middle Ages is instructive on the broad subject you have been raising of late. From the break up of the Western Roman Empire until the Renaissance, Western Europe experimented with ways to regain order and security after the collapse of Roman rule. I’m not talking so much about the institutions and the events as I am the process and the thinking behind them. We will be retracing those efforts in our own near future and for centuries to come. Benedict is a great example of a realist trying to address the problem of social order. He happily left religion in its place to state values and left the mind to grapple with the methods to attain those values.
Not only that, but spirituality has been best kept by monasteries. Spirituality. Hospitality. And good husbandry. They are all self-supporting. They work, study, and pray. Many lessons we could all learn.
Larry, you are a godsend! I truly mean it. Keep helping us along here. One foot in front of the other. Or taking turns kicking the ball down the field.
I'm more interested in the nunneries.
My favourite kind are like these, The Raging Grannies.
Go Grannies!
Thank you for the idea, quinn!
Which reminds me of a Benedictine Conundrum (a nod to Mr Hind above), that we would discuss in Altar Boy Ethics:
Question: "Is it ok to kiss a nun?"
Answer: "It's ok, as long as you don't get in the Habit."
Yikes. I've watched the Chomsky vids. Just the way I've read a lot of his stuff (not all, because the guy does have a serious chunk of output.) Here's the reason I don't reply when you mention Chomsky or Zinn. They're bloody limited. Thought it before, and think it still. And what you're doing is treating everyone as though they're clueless. You're insulting as hell to what you perceive as "TPM."
I spent years of my life reading these guys. Marx, Weber, Durkheim, early German socialists, Russian anarchists, bloody truckloads that the Critical Theory guys put out (Habermas, Adorno, Marcuse, Horkheimer et al), Hobbes & Hume & the early Moderns, waves of the Philosophy of Science (try Feyerabend, my fave, but maybe Popper is more to your liking), dozens of standard political texts, histories, bios, Histories of the British Working Class, the causes of various wars, the Reformation, hundreds of analyses of post-WW2 systems, millions of journal articles from the New Left Review, Dissent, and more centrist ones, big Anglo thinkers like Charles Taylor, Polanyi (two of them, actually), and Rorty & Dewey & George Grant, Marshall McLuhan and tons of media analysts, Sartre, and Heidegger, de Beauvoir, Camus, Wittgenstein, Foucault, Derrida, that goofy little Parisian guy whose name I can never remember, histories of Modern East & South Africa, dozens of theologians, feminsist, greens, histories of the CIA, Cambodia, various works on Aboriginal North Americans, Mumford and Scitovsky, AK Sen and endless piles of economists, and novelists, and poets and films and travellers and archaeologists and well.. that's enough, actually. Except for Nietzsche, who kicked all their asses.
I read them, and I discussed them 24/7. With the best "academic" & non-academic minds I could find. And with dozens of my classmates who went on into politics and the media and science and pop shite and finance and non-profits and greens. And I've had a 30 year long running discussion going with these friends since. And with dozens of other friends and family members, who were working at it all, applying it, making new stuff up, living, reading, thinking.
And I come to TPM, and you know what? I kinda like it here. The mix of people is really good, actually. People bring a lot of expertise, a lot of questions, a lot they've learned or seen in their lives - and they throw it into the mix. They argue & fight, sometimes they talk out their ass, sometimes they talk from a lifetime's experience. some are pricks, some are so frigging knowledgeable it's scary. There are art people and psychology people and working class thinkers, and activists and Mums and greens, and on and on. Most of them choose not to play their academic or political or expertise cards. Some see it more as a cafe, some as an experiment, some as a political tool, some just as a chance to think and talk about things. And all of us, to greater and lesser degrees, recognize the social aspect of it. For some, that's central. Some don't recognize it at all.
You come onto blogs and are happy to fight and fight and fight and fight, about how you've been treated. You don't give a shit if you blow up all over what everyone else has been talking about, and destroy the topic for everyone. You complain about a half-dozen people, and demand that everyone else run in & say something to them. There are dozens and dozens, and probably hundreds, of people who read this. But you want a few people taken down. You have offered many times more comments related to fighting with them, than on the subjects at hand.
Do you not see how totally that isn't working? Didn't you hear when people said the site will change its mix, its mood, its style, over the coming months, as it has at least 3 times just in the 9 months I've been here? Can you not come up with another way of trying to communicate or interact other than the 1 or 2 you've been trying? Don't you get it that one reason people write the way they do here is that those more formal/academic debates tend to exclude new ideas, and tie themselves into knots?
But the thing is, see, I think you do KNOW all that. Already.
But you keep hammering the button, the same way, again & again. So you have to want some other result. Personally, I don't want to talk about Chomsky or Habermas or Weber or Hobbes. Nor do I want to discuss some vague "Socialism." Which is a topic which I suspect I know one hell of a lot more about, as it's been applied, in the English-speaking world, than most people. To me, those debates are as dead as the left/right, Republican/Democratic debates. Understand? Hell man, there are dozens of readers & bloggers here from Canada, Oz, Eastern Europe, the UK. Do you think THEY can't imagine a 3rd party? As for me... I think there's a small opening, a chance for good, in some of today's Democratic Party. Some. And in crisis times, that MAY - MAY - be the best, or even the only way through. But I don't know.
But you sound as though you're more attracted to messing about & fighting with people than with the Chomsky/Zinn stuff.
Give it a rest. Relax. Rethink. Reload. Find a new angle. The mind has many ways into these questions. As a friend here used to say, "It's all in the mind." Find some new ways in.
And I genuinely hope you have a good day, and many good days to come. Just... give it a pause. The pause that refreshes.
Amen. So well put. Thanks. (This comment was refreshing!)
Well quinn maybe you are the smartest person in the world and I don't know it yet. You seem to think that there is some "party line" being proposed. Chomsky is not a philosopher, he is simply a thinker. He pulls together facts. I'm not even saying that we should be anarchist. I'm only saying Chomsky shows that the country is screwed because we have a one party system. It's OBVIOUS to me. OCCAM'S RAZOR!!!
By the way, what the hell do I care about other people from other countries coming to TPM??? This is a website about the US and it's world relations. Not about fixing England/Canada/etc. And I'm not talking about a 3rd Party!!! I'm talking about a genuine 2nd Party!!! and one with a real LEFTIST voicepoint!!!
To summarize your post:
"Been there, done that."
Yes, I'm sure that works well with academics.
And I'm supposed to "find a new angle" because YOU don't like the angle I'm on???
I don't trust people in academia. They live in ivory towers. Like economists. They are only right when looking in the rear view mirror. Where were the economists as the bubbles built and burst again and again???
Here, go watch THE CORPORATION. Learn the mixing of the political and the business and prevents YOUR interests from being taken seriously!!!
The Democratic Party is DEAD. It's been BOUGHT AND SOLD. That's why Democrats can explain what they are for!!! That's why they have no discipline!!!
The Democrats practically OWN CONGRESS now and have the WHITE HOUSE and they STILL can't control the Republicans??? Why do you think that is???
Even the STATE REPUBLICANS (Governors) are breaking with the Washington Republicans.
And STILL the Democrats can't control things???
That is one weak party!!! And why??? Because they bark to their master's voice, arf arf!!!
Ok, you wanna keep shouting. I don't have much time tonight, but let's put a bullet through the hood of at least a couple of your ideas.
#1. You tell me to go see the Corporation? Funny, I saw it already. Odd, it was MADE IN CANADA. Really weird, I know about a dozen of the people in it. Like I said, maybe if you stopped shouting, you'd learn something - instead of always going into "instructor" mode & shouting at all of us.
#2. I left academia. Dozens of my class did. Why? Because we felt the ivory tower had gotten wood rot. Which means (in my opinion, and I might balance my view more now), there are a lot of very good minds who might ONCE have gone into academia, but who now are instead, out in the world. Including at places like TPM. You wanna hit me with the "academic" insult, when I've got 30 years under my belt, working in 3 countries, with dozens of at least nominally "socialist & social democratic" governments - as well as dozens of other stripes - I've set up dozens of non-profit companies, worked on every green technology I could find, but you're so busy SHOUTING at me about SOCIALISM that you don't even want to pause to talk.
Dude. Have a nice night.
I'm not shouting, I'm EMPHASIZING!!!
Get it???
And if you have all that knowledge, how come you didn't discuss it?? Instead you just say "been there done that"???
EDUCATE ME!!! Okay??? I'm waiting!!!
Posted earlier, but think you may have missed this response to one of your rants:
It is apparent that you are a very stressed out person. I'm sure I speak for most here when I urge you to have your blood pressure checked (it's free at many places); be careful of your sugar and salt intake; limit alcohol and/or other drugs that only serve to further your depression and try some relaxing meditation or other stress relievers. Eat protein, vegetables and take vitamins.
Perhaps you should refrain from placing yourself in stressful situations whenever possible. For example, interacting here where you obviously get too frustrated and upset.
If you do not regain some sense of balance, you could suffer serious consequences such as heart disease, stroke and impotency. No one wants you to continue to suffer or experience any ill health.
Take care. This is a reality check.
Ok. Sandwiches done. Quick comments.
What I know. The most important thing - as I discussed with Dick on his blog - is that every day, I'm more aware of what I don't know. My ignorance seems to rise as a cube of what I think I know. Bummer.
Socialism. Well, I have little faith in government bureaucrats - at ANY government level, by the way - and less in Wall St. If I take energy, I want to think about who should own it. My answer? I'm not sure I want the state owning it, controlling it. I've worked with public utilities. They're hellish. Only thing worse is... Exxon or a private electrical utility. So, since "ownership" is fairly central to most forms of "socialism," who should own it?
My answer? Look at a forest. Sounds like a dumb answer, but the variety & complexity & permeability of an ecology teaches me a lot about how an economy might work better. And no, I don't mean those limits to growth arguments, or steady-state debates. I just want to say... we can have a whole range of different ownership forms, for different types of energy, in different applications, etc. With various weightings & rights distributed to the "owners" in different ways. (And in many cases, not owned at all, in any traditional sense. e.g. Who owns energy efficiency? Or the passive solar gain in your house?)
See? A murky-as-hell answer. And in the world of party politics, neither one is very good on this stuff. But nor are most of the 3rd parties I know, or even Green parties. But the way I think about things now makes for poor sound-bites. Which is why I write long, seemingly tangent-filled, blogs.
You might start by telling him that you live in Canada...When he was slamming all the rest of the English speaking world, I got the impression he might not know that...
You gotta let it go, stilli.
I'm not talking TO him anymore, but I reserve the right to talk ABOUT him! :-) heeheehee!
Yes, indeedy!
dynamic equilibrium - soundbite for your post
A favorite thing I like to say is that, "The more I think I know, the more I know I do not know."
"He who lives by fighting with an enemy has an interest in the preservation of the enemy's life." F. Nietzsche

Which is why I need supper, instead of more scrapping here. Damn Nietzsche. He's just thaaaaaat good, isn't he?
Cheers JLH. My sandwiches are calling..... ;-)
Nicely put. You clearly have a slower fuse than I do. Or maybe it's just that I take a very negative view of someone insulting people I consider friends, and respond accordingly
Always liked those neighbors to the north, nice folks, eh?
So nice, I even married one of 'em. She's still got her green card, too, keeping all of her options open. Smart gal!
Well, not really. She could become a U.S. citizen and be recognized as such. Canada would regard her as a dual citizen. The U.S. wouldn't recognize her Canadian citizenship.
Weird, but that is how it goes. Those Canadians can be kinda weird. (No disrespect meant to your wife. Just the geese. And maybe Quinn).
No disrespect taken, bwak! But I gotta' admit, OyVeyMaria, my ecumenical, Canadian wife, is actually a little bit weird. But that keeps things interesting, you know?
Quinn, good luck my friend. I tried, I really did. I spent literally hours today trying to get him to see that he needs to take a new approach, but he sure isn't listening to me. Maybe you'll be the one...
Guess we found out how much is too much.
I was waiting to see who was gonna riff off that first. Couldn't think of one. $5 to Tom.
What was it Duran said that time? No mas? ;-)
butt sects
Well, Thera, my dear, you sure know how to throw one hell of a party! Hope I get invited to the next one!
You are invited to every one! :-)
In addition to our listening... er, reading audience as well! :-)
Not that I begrudge some for having these things.Frankly, ma'am, I do. Especially when they're paying for it on my nickel. I do believe we are seeing a paradigm shift in American economic life, away from the consumption society of the last sixty years to one that is, I hope, at once more sustainable and more fulfilling.
I've been giving a lot of thought to this lately and you've nudged me forward. Thanks for writing.
Sorry for not shutting off the quote.
no problema.... we've all done it!
Well, honestly I do agree about our dime. Thanks for your comments. And for letting yourself nudge forward. We'll do it together.
I do wish we spent more time exploring this side of the economic crisis. Ultimately, it is discussions like this that will determine whether we emerge a better people and a slightly less burdened world. It's a shame your thread got hijacked.
Fear not, bluemeanie, I will take this topic up again. Thanks for your encouragement!
Today I was thinking about Ted Kennedy returning to the Senate to vote on the stimulus bill. It reminded me, among other things, of his eulogy for Bobby, which is one of my favorite speeches.
While the most emotionally compelling passages are Ted's own, much of the speech recites an address Bobby made in 1966 to a group of young people in South Africa. Standing before a people whose hope was in danger of being extinguished under the crushing mantle of apartheid, Bobby spoke as well to us, a nation at war abroad and divided at home, its people of color locked in a tragic struggle for equality.
What Bobby said then bears repeating again.
The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and bold projects. Rather it will belong to those who can blend vision, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals and great enterprises of American Society. Our future may lie beyond our vision, but it is not completely beyond our control. It is the shaping impulse of America that neither fate nor nature nor the irresistible tides of history, but the work of our own hands, matched to reason and principle, that will determine our destiny. There is pride in that, even arrogance, but there is also experience and truth. In any event, it is the only way we can live.
Today we again find ourselves at war. Not just in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan; we are a nation at war with our own ideals. What began as a quest for equality, opportunity and prosperity, of government by and for the people, is at risk of being abandoned for the endless pursuit of material comfort. A nation that once sought the best of its citizens now asks nothing of most. The wealth created by the hands of many is enjoyed by few.
This is, as the President has said many times, a defining moment. Change has come to America.
I hope we make the most of it.
That would make a lovely blog, bluemeanie! A beautiful quote. I'm glad to have it where I can easily locate it. But it would be nice to have it up as a blog, to make sure others see it. Yes, it fits so well with this blog. And if you go over to Tom Wright's blog today, you can see, especially in the comments, more thoughts on this.
Modifying the perspective of persons who have so much more than average is a tall order.
While it may be desirable to transform our dilemma into a 'teaching moment' it is very much in conflict with a great deal of how this nation perceives itself.
I'm not in disagreement that at this particular point in time this wouldn't be beneficial, only that is doesn't come without built-in conflict.
In the midst of this conflict there is the chance to learn or the chance to sharpen the divide. So far we seem to be leaning toward the latter. Obama is doing his best to blunt that but there are others who want no part of it. The idea of there being a mid-point in all of this has been all but forsaken by those persons who happen to hold tremendous power and who have no intention of being party to financial, social or political equity.
There will come a time in all of this where Obama will have to either get nasty and unilaterally exert the power of the presidency or accept a terribly deficient compromise that will cost us dearly. In the end it may not matter. Few people will be happy either way. Fixing broken stuff is really, really hard and the repaired item usually never works as well afterward. We can't remake our financial system anew, so fixing is the only choice. The problem lies with sending the same person(s) back to the customer over and over. This is going to take some people with an altogether different perspective and a spine. So far we don't have that.
I must admit, thepeoplechoose, that I was not really expecting my suggestion to be implemented. But that it is a huge problem in a democratic society when you have a tiny percentage of the population wielding effective power through wealth accumulation and ignorant of how the vast majority of the population is living.
Seems to me that education may be able to help here. Literally, that some of the top universities could require some type of experience living and working among the poor. In addition to an educational component to that. Seminars, whatever. (mind you, any colleges or universities could do this, but I'm thinking of how so many of these oligarchs come from certain universities... and the responsibility those institutions therefore have to society at large, to ensure that they educate people in ways that assist society, not just the wealthy)
I recall that a number of years ago, a college president literally took a leave of absence from his job and worked as a garbage collector, I believe.
I agree with you that it is very hard to change behavior or modify perspectives. We can but try. We can but consider what we might do that would aid in that process.
I've only addressed one of your points. But thanks for voicing your thoughts and concerns here.
It is interesting that you comment about education when that is one of the pieces of the stimulus package that was ripped to shreds. I happen to think that takes a very shortsighted view of things. That is our senate though. More shortsighted than not. Education has increasingly been going for a premium price and absent assistance, families are not going to be able to educate their children. If average working class families can't afford to send their kids to college and the only people who go are well to do, we'll be in a heap of trouble before you can say jackrabbit. It'll only take a single generation of an educationally deprived citizenry before we are totally screwed.
There is so much that needs to be turned around in our society. Education is surely one of them. And yes, we can't really have a system where one class of people gets an education and a crack at the best jobs while another class of people languish. The future depends on all of us, on our valuing of human capital.
I am presuming this is the first bill of several. If so we'll have another crack at education pretty soon, I hope.
Tom Wright's Meditation on Power relates to this post, I think. You can find that here:
Since Thera P.'s aim is to promote rational discussion of our current societal predicament, I would like to re-emphasize my earlier concerns about the need to avoid succumbing to hysterical and intellectually extravagant reactions to the present challenges.
Unfortunately, Americans have shown throughout their history a pronounced tendency to embrace apocalyptic ideologies. There is always some new fanaticism. These ideologies are often extremely self-destructive and self-fulfilling. They generally produce more paralysis than action, they encourage fantasies of individual escape and salvation instead of the hard organizational work of collective action, and they blot out the sun of reasonable hopes for a better future with dismal fears of impending catastrophe. They are also more frequently the result of superstition and hysteria than rational thought. And I'm not just talking about religion. There are secular superstitions as well as religious ones.
I would suggest that many of the currently popular prophesies of the "the end of the world as we know it" fall into this category. For example, I'm not sure I understand what is meant by "the end of consumer society". I do understand that many Americans have in recent years engaged in excessive consumption and excessive buying on credit. A readjustment is called for. But consumption itself is a fundamental fact of economic life. In some sense, consumption is what all our productive labors are aimed at. We build houses so people can buy them and live in them; we grow food so people can buy it and eat it; we make cars so that people can buy them and travel usefully from place to place; and we write books and record music so people can read books and listen to music. Whatever our new economic equilibrium looks like when it arrives, we can safely assume there will be lots of healthy consumption.
It is tempting to want to turn a discussion of economic stresses, including job losses and bad decisions about savings, purchasing, borrowing and investment into a deep discussion of the states of our souls and our wicked, wicked habits of evil and sinful selfishness and profligacy. But what we are faced with is primarily a practical problem of the sort human beings have faced over and over, not a spiritual problem or millennial catastrophe. If the levee is leaking and threatening to flood our homes and streets, lets fix the levees and avoid running around screaming about the End of Human Habitation as We Know It. And while we are repairing the levees, we should also try to begin the process of re-designing them, so the same problems don't recur in the future. When the immediate crisis has been dealt with, we can then put some more sustained effort into long term structural redesign of our economy.
I would also add that Americans have, in my opinion, too much of a tendency to turn political and economic debates about social choices into moral and religious jeremiads about individual decisions. We can rail all we want against the moral turpitude and sinfulness of the wealthy, but people tend to look out for themselves, and will generally take whatever society gives them. There are always going to be people seeking riches and material comforts. The way other societies avoid stark inequalities, and the excesses of extreme and wasteful wealth, is by creating laws and institutions that prevent these things from occurring - not by preaching and railing.
Finally, I love Quinn's posts, but honestly, what does U2 have to teach us? What did Bono ever "leave behind"? My impression is that he's loaded.
I invite others to help me see how Dan's comment above pertains to my blog. For I fail to see that my blog is "apocalyptic" or calling people "sinful" or encouraging a hysterical reaction or fanaticism on the part of anyone.
But if someone can show me how this post encourages such alarmist words, then I would appreciate that information.
Since Dan's comment lacks any specificity, it seems more like a generic diatribe than something geared to this specific post.
Posted by TheraP

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