I'm a little behind on TV, so I was catching up on the Daily Show this morning. Last Thursday had one of the best segments I've ever seen (and that bar is pretty high):
The impetus for this segment was this op-ed in the New York Times by billionaire Warren Buffet, and the subsequent right-wing freakout. Jon Stewart is perfect - I won't summarize, just watch it.
"Socialist" Warren Buffet:
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.
I didn't refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone -- not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 -- shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what's happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.
It astounds me that we as a nation could even be having this conversation, but if this is class warfare, it's finally a war I can get behind.
It's not hard to see why Neal Boortz is a hero of the right. Listen to his radio show and you'll find that he literally considers the poor subhuman.
Why is it unbelievable?? Isn't this one of the central issues in your America? I can see it from here from scienceblogs (and now freethought blogs), when I check the 24 hours page. On Ed brayton's blog, mike the mad biologist, and other blogs it is often featured. Also from having watched the rachel maddow show for a little while there a couple months ago. I sort of lost interest because you might as well just make one episode and play it over and over again: Rich people kick everyone else's ass, we lie down and take it.
Yes, yes they are kicking you ass. And you're the one who lets them. If people spend a fraction as much time during the (at the time) most recent elections before the Madison protests as they did on the protests, they would not have had anything to protest. In the end they have lost their protest, too. You loose.
Warren Buffet is one of the few decent rich people and he can and is helping a great deal but in the end no one but us can change this. Therefore if we do not blame ourselves, it will never change. Let's stop letting them win!
To clarify: Those who can effect the change must be held responsible for doing so, otherwise it will never occur.
@ Tyler D -
Listen to his radio show and you'll find that he literally considers the poor subhuman
Then is it OK that I'd really rather not?
@ Ed - I don't disagree with anything you've said. I've written more letters to my congressmen and the white house in the last 8 months than in my entire life up until this point. But protesting actively takes time, and unfortunately, the people who need to get engaged the most often don't have the time or the resources to do so.
Im afraid thats not how it works:
No, we don't have time. Prey never have time to defend themselves against the parasites and the predators. We make a living building things, doing things, curing disease and having lives. Most of the wealthy make a living by having power over other people and sucking up all the results of our hard work. It's a matter of either dealing with the problem or letting it fester, weakening us until we end up in a third world country in which the wealthy own everything and we have nothing.
I say we deal with it and the first place to start is taking away the political power of the wealthy. We can't make sensible tax policy(those tax cut extensions a couple months back), fix the economy (the wealthy are preventing us from implementing stimulus programs and effectively regulating banks), or even educational policy (the wealthy keep trying to like their own pockets by privatizing everything) address the growing wealth gap ("shared sacrifice" destroying funding for WIC and food stamps, job search programs and college tuition/pell grants) or even balance the budget (S&P tampering with the budgeting by threatening the government) when the wealthy have such undue influence on the government. Nothing can be done sensibly when the government only serves the few. Let's make it one person, one vote, period.
Well I shouldn't be such a wet blanket. Let's look at not just averting catastrophe but on the much nicer world we could get than the one we know for sure we are in and are headed for... mmm, sensible policy and no parasites!
In Sweden and other Scandinavian countries the middle class is the norm. People here have the time and resources to object loudly, which is why we have fewer assholes in politics. In fact, even the conservative party is keen to distance itself from the loonies in the populist far right. They know they cannot get away with the shit American pols do as a matter of course.
As for Americans... maybe you should check out the guy in India who went on a hunger strike after the government was persecuting him over his campaingn against corruption.
If even India has vital activism, it seems activism in America can survive bad times. I mean, come on, despite the Republican efforts you do not have a hundred thousand people living on the streets like they do in Calcutta.
(incidentally, Indian conditions may be what the GOP is aiming for)
Wow. You know, I got stuck next to a wealthy Fox viewer in class once. I assumed s/he was just born without a moral compass. This explains a lot.
It's nice that people are trying to make their voices heard. But the system is broken. As long as you expect the cynical nihilists who benefit from that to fix it, nothing will change.
In the meantime, why listen to Neal Boortz? Why listen to greedy strangers in any medium? They don't know what they're talking about. They're obsessed with defending their opulent corner of dysfunction from the Other. And the angriest, nosiest ones know that the best way to deflect accountability is to level charges at someone else.
Simply calling someone a parasite or a greedy stranger is meaningless. The only way to hold these people accountable is to determine, and articulate, exactly what our grievance is against them.
This does not mean taking the time to get counsel for a legal formulation, or even to draft one ourselves.
But it does mean taking the time to explain encyclopedically what they committed against us. Because otherwise it's just a war of emotions.
@ Anon - I know, but it's the best I've got at this point.
@ Ed - Sounds like a great idea, what's your strategy to get there?
@ Birger - If those Scandinavian languages weren't such a pain in the ass to learn, I'd seriously consider moving. Or maybe not, I really do want to fix the system here, it's just a bit disheartening to figure out how. I was one of those naive idiots that thought Barack Obama could do it...
@ Minding - Agree completely, but again, how do we move from the cynical nihilists running things to a better system?
@ Collin - In today's media landscape, the people who systematically document the problems are considered partisan hacks (or are named Jon Stewart), and the "serious" journalists only seem interested in covering he-said-she-said politics. And it's hard not to get emotional.
Thanks for introducing me to Jon Stewart. I looked him up on Wikipedia. (I spend more time at the computer than the TV.)
Yes, exactly what I'm talking about. The world needs more people like him, not just in politics but in other hot topics like evolution, climate change, and quantum mechanics.
Too "audacious" for me to expect this? Perhaps. I guess I'll always be a naive idiot. :)