Shucking off the costs of the effects of climate change

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.

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“Your poverty is hurting my profits!”

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.

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No flags for me this patriotic week

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.

Not me.

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Dancing around the truth of Charleston

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

Killing a killer is killing

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.

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Hey, you! — Stop fracturing your own spine back there!

The reactions to the arrest-related death of Freddie King in Baltimore are as varied as you’d expect. Some of them defy comprehension, while others show careful, clear thought.

It’s not easy to excuse arsonists and looters, but it is possible to understand them. You try living with the profound weight of both poverty and racism, day after day, year after year. At best, your outrage overflows when a Freddie King dies, and you join a street protest that you know, deep down, will do little other than give your more violent impulses a non-violent outlet. At worst, you’ve been shortchanged so often and in so many ways that you never experienced the self-respect that would have restrained the mindlessness of the mob you’ve joined. Sometimes, when a scream of outrage isn’t enough, there just isn’t any other way to let the injustice out than an act of rage. I’m not condoning it, mind you, but I do have to try to understand it.

The reactions of some of our public actors are no easier to condone, but they are harder to understand. Just a few of them will give us a sense of the range of these outrageous responses.

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