Monthly Archives: August 2012

Who is Worthy of Love?

This originally posted on June 6th, but I’m reposting in light of the announcement of Paul Ryan for VP.

This video on Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and a foremother to our current extreme right politics, is educational to me. It’s outrageous really, she says that a weak man or woman is beyond love. The interviewer asks:

I: If a man is weak, if a woman is weak, he is beyond, she is beyond love?

Rand: He certainly don’t deserve it, he certainly is beyond.

I: There are very few in this world, by your standards, who are worthy of love?

Rand: uh, unfortunately yes, very few.


The video was created by Think Progress, an unashamedly progressive but non partisan info center. Even though Paul Ryan has recently turned against her, her work is still undoubtedly read, seen (Atlas shrugged came out on film last spring), and admired by a healthy portion of the Republican leadership and constituency. From a National Review – an unashamedly conservative magazine – piece this spring:

“You know you’ve arrived in politics when you have an urban legend about you, and this one is mine,” chuckles Representative Paul Ryan, the Budget Committee chairman, as we discuss his purported obsession with author and philosopher Ayn Rand.

“I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas,” who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he says.

Several have called Ryan out on his rewrite, such as Lawrence O’Donnell here. O’Donnell’s delivery is a bit dramatic (to a discredit), but start watching at 5:00 to hear an expanded version of Paul Ryan’s own speech on Ayn Rand. The post, The Hording Hoarde discusses the clash of Rand’s philosophy and that of Jesus.

Rand eventually found it necessary to accept social security and Medicare. Her thoughts were recorded in a paper she did called, A Question of Scholarship:

The recipient of a public scholarship is morally justified only so long as he regards it as restitution and opposes all forms of welfare statism. Those who advocate public scholarships, have no right to them; those who oppose them, have. If this sounds like a paradox, the fault lies in the moral contradictions of welfare statism, not in its victims.

It does indeed sound like a paradox. Talk about getting the facts to fit the frame! I wonder if she still found herself worthy of love while she had cancer from smoking too many cigarettes? Jesus would have.

Chart courtesy of UPWORTHY.com.

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More Mom and Pop, Less Lobbyists and Loopholes

Mom and Pop Shop closing – photo credit Fredricksburg.com

Thanks to all of the kind words and support I have received from readers since I let you in on my own personal struggles in this economy. Things are looking up for me, I may have more detailed updates in the future. I am busy working on some other things at the moment so I would like to offer this article from POLITICO by Elizabeth Warren.

 

Stop rigging system against small business
By: Elizabeth Warren
August 5, 2012 10:56 PM EDT
I meant what I said.

I stood before a group of voters in Massachusetts last year and talked about what it would take to move forward as a nation. I laid out how we all needed to invest in our country, to build a strong foundation for our families today and make sure the next kid with the great idea has the chance to succeed.

But too often that kid can’t succeed because the system is rigged against him.

Small-business owners bust their tails every day. They’re the first ones in and the last to leave, six and often seven days a week. That’s how my Aunt Alice ran her small restaurant, where I worked as a kid. My brother and my daughter both started small businesses. And I’ve visited and talked with small-business owners across Massachusetts. From the insurance agency in Brockton to the coffee shop in Greenfield and the manufacturing plant in Lawrence — all started and run by people with good ideas and a determination to succeed.

I believe in small businesses. They’re the heart and soul of our economy. They create jobs and opportunities for the future.

Washington politicians line up 10-deep to claim they support small businesses, but they avoid talking about a harsh reality: The system is rigged against small business. These owners can’t afford armies of lobbyists in D.C., but the big corporations can. It’s those armies of lobbyists that create the loopholes and special breaks that let big corporations off the hook for paying taxes. While small businesses are left to pay the bills.

We’ve got to close those loopholes and end the special breaks — so small businesses have a level playing field and a fair chance to succeed.

When small businesses grow and flourish, we should applaud their success, and the companies should benefit from their hard work and clever ideas. But here’s my point: If a business makes it big, the reward shouldn’t be the ability to rig the system to stop the next guy.

If a business takes its profits to the Cayman Islands, ships its jobs overseas or finds a loophole to avoid paying its fair share of taxes, then that business now has a leg up over every small business and start up that can’t take advantage of those loopholes. Sometimes the big can get bigger not because they are better but because they can work the system better. That’s bad for every small business in America.

Asked recently about news that Mitt Romney had money in offshore tax havens, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said, “It’s really American to avoid paying taxes, legally…. It’s a game we play. … I see nothing wrong with playing the game because we set it up to be a game.”

Graham is right about one thing — it’s a game for some. It’s a rigged game that benefits big corporations and billionaires who can deploy armies of lobbyists and lawyers to create those tax loopholes and then exploit them.

The game is rigged to work for profitable oil companies, who made $137 billion in profits last year — and still collected billions of dollars’ worth of government subsidies. The game is rigged to work for big multinational corporations, which get tax breaks to ship U.S. jobs overseas and park investments abroad. The game is rigged to work for hedge fund managers and billionaires, who pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Meanwhile, their Republican allies are making sure the rules stay rigged in their favor.

But for the tens of millions of working families and small businesses left holding the bag — it’s not a game. For the small businesses that can’t spend millions of dollars to hire lobbyists who get them special deals or hire armies of lawyers to move their money overseas or restructure their operations to take advantage of every loophole, it isn’t a game.

Washington is rigged to work against their interests with real-life consequences. They compete against the big companies, working hard to hold on to the American dream of providing a better life for their kids and grandkids. They see how the game is rigged.

We face a real choice in this country between the Republicans’ “I’ve got mine,” approach and the belief that, as a nation, we reward success and hard work — keeping the playing field level so that everyone with a good idea, a dream of making it big and plenty of determination has a chance to make it.

We must be committed to the American dream, the approach that made us the most prosperous and strongest country in the world and built a future of opportunity for our children and grandchildren.

The choice is ours.

Elizabeth Warren is running as a Democrat for the Senate in Massachusetts, against Republican Sen. Scott Brown. She served as chairwoman of the Congressional Oversight Panel for TARP and as assistant to the president and special adviser to the treasury secretary for the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.

© 2012 POLITICO LLC

Winning an Argument (with an Elephant)

When a dog is happy, it wags its tail. If you try to wag the tail for the dog, it does not make the dog happy, it’s not the same thing at all. You cannot force happiness by waving a tail around.

The same is true for actually winning someone over to your way of thinking. No amount of waving around “facts”, “reasons”, or “rationale” will get your audience to align with your side. You cannot state a rationale that makes sense to you and expect it to move someone else unless you’ve done the hard work of building trust and rapport with that audience first.

Every salesman knows this already, it is no secret, so why is it so hard to accept in other realms of “selling” ideas?

When it comes to politics and morality, we think we are more rational than we are. In order to get to the rational, reasonable parts, we must- at first – ignore those factual arguments. What follows is a proven method for persuading someone to your side – which may or may not be the same thing as “winning” the argument. Continue reading

Starve the Beast and Watch it Eat Itself

The following piece appeared in Addicting Info by Don Hamel (link here). I took some editing liberties in my reprint. The first point is relevant, there is a big hoo-hah about whether we are a democracy or a republic (note the root words for our two party system – they’d both like to be the driving value that is considered to be ultimately American). The truth is that we are a constitutionally limited democratic republic.

This term “constitutionally limited democratic republic” means that #1 the Constitution is our founding document and authority, #2 we have a representative government – each individual citizens does not vote on each piece of legislation, so we elect people to act on our behalf, and #3 those representatives are supposed to be elected democratically – by the people for the people.

I agree with the author that the heart of our nation lies in democratic ideology. Indeed many of the current movements – Move to Amend, Occupy, Transition Towns, even many Tea Partiers are all about increasing citizen empowerment – they’re about democracy. The Citizens United ruling that granted corporate personhood is the backdoor that allows a corporation to pretend like they are also a citizen that is looking for some individual empowerment and wants to take liberties (and oh boy do they!).

I know some readers love to point out the disadvantages of having government involved in our daily lives, my question is, would you rather it be replaced with an entity just as large – or larger – but with a mission statement that clearly does not have the best interest of humans in mind. This question is especially poignant in the case of that entity providing human services. Also my question is: does their ideology make them comfortable with watching people suffer and die as a result of losing those human services if the “beast” really could be drowned in the proverbial bathtub?

My value system does not allow me to be comfortable at all with our status quo. My ideology and value system is outraged at every life taken by military force whether it is through direct targeting, “friendly fire”, or the poison that is put into the earth and slowly kills those around it. My values are insulted at every belch of toxic waste onto this beautiful planet. My conscience screams out as cyclical poverty leads to ignorant, desperate people, who hurt each other in their struggle for survival. My religious upbringing tells me to love my neighbor, feed my people, and to give and forgive. My spiritual being feels sucker punched when I see our prison industrial complex, our military industrial complex, and all of our our fear based industrial complexes. I am deeply disturbed at how our collective greed and laziness have allowed disposable gadgets to outweigh the value of the human being – depending on what socio-economic benefit can be rendered from them.

That’s why I can’t stay silent about the injustices happening to me and my fellow humans. What follows is Don Hamel’s piece; here’s what he has to say about it: Continue reading

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Pot Juice, Kenny Rogers Meets Terminator, and A Word from Our Sponsors

Three interesting stories that might make you go hmmmm.

Who knew? Pot juice is even more medicinal than pot smoke. So medicine, juice/salad, recreation, and a sustainable strong fiber source – what are the reasons against it again?

In other news…

In case you missed it, robots are getting more humanoid than ever. This in conjunction with the mosquito drone story make me want to go all Ewok Warrior on this new wave of biologically modeled robots. Watch to the end where he talks about his human zoo.

The Top 5 Most Hypocritical Sponsors

And now for something more based in our everyday reality – the craziness of mismatched sponsorships. I’ve always wondered about non-profits that have sponsors who get crazy amounts of advertising for their “generosity”. In any other setting it is simply called “buying advertising”.  If a company truly wants to support a cause to give back to the community, they should not insist on emblazoning their logo everywhere they can find, or creating another pile of plastic promo crap that folks don’t use after event day. If they really want to market themselves that way, then let’s just be frank  and call it a marketing strategy.

This article calls out a current obvious mismatch of McDonalds and Coca-Cola being major sponsors of the Olympic Games with an unbelievable quote from the mayor of London:

…Despite the on-going debate, McDonalds and Coca-Cola are still sponsoring the Games. On the day before the opening ceremony, London’s mayor Boris Johnson responded to the criticism by telling reporters, “This is all just bourgeois snobbery about McDonald’s … It’s classic liberal hysteria about very nutritious, delicious, food — extremely good for you I’m told — not that I eat a lot of it myself … Apparently this stuff is absolutely bursting with nutrients.”