As wildfires burn in British Columbia and rage in California, now is a good time to contemplate one of the nastiest results of the collision — collusion? — of the corporatist’s insatiable love of profit and the neoliberal’s deification of small government.
Both of these stances zero in on the same fundamental target: taxation, in all of its forms. Not just direct taxes, graduated or not, but also those “extra” costs of doing business forced on industry by government regulation. The target is the same, for more than anything else the corporatist hates the loss of potential profit, and more than anything else the neoliberal hates the intrusion of “big government” into the marketplace.
Why is now such a good time to consider the consequences of this unholy alliance of the economic elite and the politicians it has purchased? Just look at the under-reported results.
Apparently, Jeb Bush now is urging Americans to work longer hours to help the economy. It seems that working Americans aren’t spending enough, which means that corporations aren’t making enough money. Financial disaster looms!
Talk about blaming the victims! First you gut the earning power of the working classes, then you scold them for not having the full-time, living wage jobs that fuel spending across the economy.
Confederate battle flags unfurled at state capitals. Ten Commandments monuments in courthouses. Swastika tattoos on the forearms of skinheads.
It’s pretty easy to dislike and descry totems like these, isn’t it?
The first is a sad remnant of not just a lost war but a morally bankrupt way of life, one based on the false presumption of the inherent inequality of different iterations of our single species. The second enforces the desire to impose the majority mythology on the personal, social, and political lives of everyone, believer or not. And the last is nothing else than a declaration of ignorance, hatred, and violence.
This week, with Canada Day on the Tuesday and U. S. Independence Day on Saturday, one question begs to be asked: How about adding the Maple Leaf and the Star Spangled Banner? Do they belong on the same list of evil influences as the others?
Most people will say no, and many will find the very question offensive, if not nonsensical.
At the core of the right’s self-serving reactions to the Charleston massacre is one truth that’s so obvious that it must be its blinding clarity that keeps conservatives from seeing it. America’s racism is so deeply engrained in the culture that to many people it has become invisible.
How else to comprehend explanations like Mike Huckabee’s, that a young, male white supremacist’s slaughter of nine black churchgoers is most importantly another secularist attack on Americans’ right to pray? Or the NRA’s loathsome cry for — what else? — more guns, so that those targeted churchgoers could have gone all O.K. Corral on the perp’s ass?
This mass murder — no, it’s not an “incident” or an “event” — highlights how hard it is for some white people to admit the widespread reality of racism. No, it hasn’t gone away. And ignoring it won’t make it go away. Continue reading
Why capital punishment?
What makes a society kill with calculated, cold-blooded rationality?
If I were ever going to support the death penalty, certainly the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving Boston Marathon bomber, would qualify for my approval. After all, he and his brother killed four people and injured more than 250 others, apparently without a thought for the lives they were changing, wrecking, and ending. Tsarnaev is reported to have shown little or no remorse, nor has he ever denied his part in the attack. He was quite willing to plead guilty and accept life in prison without parole if the state would take the death penalty off the table.
But even in this case, I am as revolted by the penalty verdict as I was by the initial outrage.
Perhaps more revolted.
The reactionary remnant of movie hero Clint Eastwood was at it again recently, boasting that if Michael Moore had arrived uninvited at Eastwood’s home, the way that Moore famously did at the home of Charlton Heston, Eastwood would have shot him.
Eastwood didn’t talk about having his gun pried from his “cold, dead hands,” but his bravado was clearly part of the misunderstanding of history that underlies much of the mindset — and too much of the rhetoric — of the Tea Party and its sympathizers.
It’s too bad that very few of these uber-patriots will hear of, much less read, a meticulously researched, absolutely persuasive book — Robert J. Spitzer’s Guns across America: Reconciling Gun Rules and Rights (Oxford, May 2015).