Archive for April 29th, 2010
I spotted this comment on Reddit.com:
You want to end illegal immigration tomorrow, Arizona? Put a $10,000 fine—per illegal, per day—on everyone who HIRES an illegal . . .
Here in America we have a saying: Money talks, and bullshit walks. So, Republicans, are you going to go after the real reason illegal immigrants come here? They come because they’re PAID to by your major donors, who must have their cheap labor.
Parents wonder how their kids will grow up. Will they be kind, smart, generous, or axe murderers? In my experience, the surest way to make sure your children develop compassion, empathy and generosity is to get them a cat.
“Daddy, Daddy!” the kids chorused. “Mommy said we could get a kitty!”
“I told them that if they did chores for 10 days straight,” she said, “each of them could get a kitty.”
We were having difficulty getting the kids to do their chores. My wife had solved both our chores-problem and the kids’ desire to have a pet in one stroke. The kids had wanted another cat since loyal friend Nat King Cat had died.
“Now you guys understand that YOU have to take care of your kitties,” said my wife.
As the result of the “deal,” my kids became chores maniacs. The whole thing smacked of bribery, but the house and kids were cleaner and the kids were happier.
The kittens would stay in the kids’ bedrooms for the first 10 days. After day eight of the chores marathon, we went to find kittens.
[more . . . ]
This video illustrates the conflict between truth and power. The parody troupe called the “Yes Men” staged a “press conference” presenting themselves to be representatives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. As part of this conference, they took the position that “clean coal” was a myth and that the Obama Administration should be instead focusing upon proven effective technologies such as solar energy and conservation.
In the middle of these proceedings, in walks the the Executive Director of Communications of the Chamber of Commerce making clear that he, Eric Wohlschlegel, was the true representative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, further announcing that the event was a “fraud” and a “stunt.” Wohlschlegel then twice announced, “If you have any questions, you are welcome to direct them to me.”
After a rather testy yet amusing moment where the two purported representatives questioned each others’ identities, a reporter took up the offer of Wohlschlegel, raising her hand and asking Wohlschlegel to comment on whether the Chamber of Commerce “acknowledges climate change.” Wohlschlegel refused to answer this simple question and, instead, scurried away. His actions aren’t surprising in light of the Chamber’s failure to even admit that the climate is changing. The Chamber and its cheerleaders simply can’t find the courage to admit that the climate is changing.
This stunt illustrates the interplay between truth and power. Scientists are virtually unanimous that climate change is happening as a result of increased greenhouse gases, and that this situation presents huge dangers to our civilization (and thus to our economy). Scientists don’t have enough money to flood Congress with lobbyists, however. “Clean coal” is a joke, technologically and as a public policy (and see here); no such technology exists, and there is nothing feasible on the horizon. It is beyond debate that coal is a terribly dangerous basis for an energy policy, yet the Chamber is married to Coal. In the meantime, conservation, ignored by the Chamber, is a guaranteed way to address energy needs and to minimize risk of further climate change, yet the Chamber would rather promote profits than truth. Here is the kind of company the Chamber keeps and the kinds of tactics it uses to prevent honest dialogue regarding the causes of climate change and meaningful steps that should be taken to address it. Here’s a lot more information from the website of the “Yes Men.” And here’s Rachel Maddow’s report.
If we’ve learned anything in the past 10 years, we’ve learned that you can “swiftboat” any person and any Truth, if you have a lot of money. In modern society, truth, all by itself, doesn’t have legs. A 2009 poll by Pew Research Center found that “[w]hile 84% of scientists say the earth is getting warmer because of human activity such as burning fossil fuels, just 49% of the public agrees.”
According to the March/April edition of Public Citizen News (I have the print edition only), the Chamber’s reactionary position has driven away numerous corporate giants such as Nike, General Electric and Apple. Public Citizen has presented a brochure of various legitimate ways of dealing with climate change. Ironically and sadly, the Chamber is wearing narrow blinders that needlessly drive it into the arms of the fossil fuel industries. Those with open minds know that “protecting the climate is not costly but profitable.”
Wohlschlegel barged into the fake conference to announce that the fake speaker was not “legitimate.” In reality, Wohlschlegel’s (and the Chamber’s) failure to deal with the issue of climate change honestly shows that they are not legitimate. Nonetheless, the Chamber has lots of money, and thus lots of power to load up the halls of Congress and media airwaves with falsehoods. And if you fill up enough airwaves with false statements, it will confuse the public, meaning that nothing gets done on these two critically important issues of energy supply and climate change. But that is exactly the plan of the Chamber.
Federal TARP watchdog Elizabeth Warren is warning that the Republican proposal for a “consumer protection agency” is anti-family.
“I’m tired of hearing politicians claim to support families and, at the same time, vote with the big banks on the most important financial reform package in generations. I’m deep-down tired of it.”
The current Senate bill, sponsored by Democrat Christopher Dodd, which would house the new consumer agency within the Federal Reserve,
adheres to Warren’s four tests: a chief appointed by the president, an independent source of funding, the authority to write consumer rules and the ability to enforce them against unscrupulous lenders. The unit, thus, focuses squarely on consumers. Ensuring banks’ profitability is left to banking regulators. The Republicans’ counter-proposal, released this week, fails all four of Warren’s tests.
Warren describes the Republican proposal as follows: “”The whole idea of the substitute is to take a bunch of regulators that already failed and throw them in a committee together.”
Richard Eskow is more optimistic than me about the “death” of free market fundamentalism. Here’s part of what he had to say at Huffpo:
We’re . . . seeing the death struggle of a dying ideology. This ideology provided intellectual cover to business and political elites for decades, but events have proved conclusively that it doesn’t work. What’s more, people are beginning to see that it’s inconsistent with the country’s traditional values of competition and free enterprise. . . . While the theories and rationalizations varied wildly, the conclusions were always the same: Deregulation was always the right approach, even (especially) for the most concentrated and rapacious businesses. Consumer regulations should be avoided because they hurt everybody, especially (somehow) consumers. And cutting taxes for the rich magically made things better for everybody else.
The arguments changed but the results were consistent: greater upward distribution of wealth, and more concentration of power, delivered by those the special interests funded and placed into positions of influence. . . . Now the ideology lies in ruins.
I am sold by Eskow’s description of why free market fundamentalism should be publicly discredited. But I think Eskow is over-optimistic about the “death” of that idea: In modern times, ideas get their legs from a combination of truth and power. We might have truth on our side, but we don’t have the power. There’s still too much money to be had by too many big business by promulgating fair market fundamentalism.
Lack of regulation and lack of transparency simply makes too much big money for many big businesses, many of whom have bought substantial control of the media, as well as having bought Congress. I don’t think free market fundamentalism will die until there is real debate, but that won’t happen without campaign finance reform and media reform. If the “merits” of free market fundamentalism were ever freely debated in the media, it would shrivel and die, but have a long way to go before that pernicious idea is fairly and freely debated.