“I want to emphasize something sad, really sad, not what we don’t do for the poor, but what we do do to the poor, and that is instead of helping the down and out in this culture we have a society that seems to persecute the poor. So that if you start sliding down you’re likely to accelerate all the way down to destitution, homelessness, even incarceration.”
– Barbara Ehrenreich.
If I lived 100,000 years, until the ice caps were gone, until Antarctica was an elite beach community, until the manifestation of the Kurzweilian singularity, until the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program was completed, until manufacturing jobs had moved from interior China to Southeast Asia and on to Africa and finally back to the ruined hellscape of America, if I lived that long I doubt I’d ever see or read about another human being as ignorant and vain and insufferably smug as you. You are a bad person, good day!
– Devin Howard
“Judging from what is happening in Russia and China, and even Vietnam, communist and capitalist societies eventually seem have one thing in common – the DNA of their dreams. After their revolutions, after building socialist societies that millions of workers and peasants paid for with their lives, both countries now have begun to reverse some of the gains of their revolutions and have turned into unbridled capitalist economies. For them, too, the ability to consume has become the yardstick by which progress is measured. For this kind of “progress” you need industry. To feed the industry you need a steady supply of raw material. For that, you need mines, dams, domination, colonies, war. Old powers are waning, new ones rising. Same story, different characters – rich countries plundering poor ones. Yesterday it was Europe and America, today it’s India and China. Maybe tomorrow it will be Africa. Will there be a tomorrow? Perhaps it’s too late to ask, but then hope has little to do with reason.”
“The first step towards reimagining a world gone terribly wrong would be to stop the annihilation of those who have a different imagination – an imagination that is outside of capitalism as well as communism. An imagination which has an altogether different understanding of what constitutes happiness and fulfilment. To gain this philosophical space, it is necessary to concede some physical space for the survival of those who may look like the keepers of our past, but who may really be the guides to our future. To do this, we have to ask our rulers: Can you leave the water in the rivers? The trees in the forest? Can you leave the bauxite in the mountain? If they say cannot, then perhaps they should stop preaching morality to the victims of their wars.”
Arundhati Roy, Walking with the Comrades
Have you ever woken up in the morning, gotten dressed, looked yourself in the mirror before setting out to work on demolishing women’s rights, hating poor people via cruel policy decisions, and denying basic climatological facts and thought, “Man, you know what, I’m a huge gaping asshole”?
Unsatisfied with waging simultaneous wars against reproductive rights, poor people, the environment, organized labor, single mothers, and Ronald Reagan phones, Republican lawmakers in state capitols across the country are seeking to add another front to their unrelenting fight against basic principles of logic and fundamental human decency: drug testing the unemployed. Now, this isn’t exactly a stretch of the imagination, considering how many bills have been introduced to test welfare-recipients. It is however, really, really fucking dumb.
Even a cursory examination of available information demonstrates that the entire enterprise is riddled with problems: it’s constitutionally untenable (just ask Florida), it doesn’t save any goddamn money (in fact, it does the exact opposite, most welfare-eligibility drug testing programs actually end up costing taxpayers more money than is saved. Just ask Florida! (and Georgia). “But Wait!” You’ll say, “that isn’t the point, the goal of testing is to get users off the dope!” Well, here’s the thing – welfare and unemployment benefits are notoriously unreliable predictors of drug use. In fact, individuals receiving food stamps, unemployment payments, or other forms of public assistance are no more likely (and often less likely) than those in higher economic brackets. National surveys put the rate of illegal drug use at about 8%. Florida’s adventure into blanket testing of welfare applicants? 2% tested positive. Additionally, erecting barriers to access for welfare and assistance programs is ultimately just going to harm already disadvantaged children.
None of these even touches on the Orwellian nature of a bunch of ‘small government’ zealots legislating into existence a variety of intrusive bureaucratic mechanisms that will siphon off public money into the hands of some corporate behemoth to perform all of these drug tests. Nevermind the almost unbelievable ideological hyprocisy. Nevermind that only the poor and desperate will be faced with additional hardship, or that these efforts are straw-men pandering at its most cruel and tribalistic, backed up solely by conservative think tanks and the purveyors of dystopic corporate interests over at ALEC.
But hey, if you’re still down with this absurd, insidious type of legislation I’m sure you won’t mind repeated unconstitutional privacy violations when you apply for a student loan, or a federally backed mortgage, or a small business loan. Sure you won’t because you probably don’t even use drugs and will therefore happily pee in cups over and over and over again to access basic public services.
I’m going to let an awesome Gawker comment explain this one, from user skt.smh:
What dumbasses like Mitt fail to acknowledge, of course, is that 1/4 of the people who don’t owe federal income taxes are elderly people on Social Security, which is non-taxable income. Another 15% is from beneficiaries of the Earned Income Tax Credit and, *gasp*, the child and childcare credits. How dare those people have children and qualify for tax credits?!
And of course, not a single Republican falls into either of these categories. There are no elderly Republicans living off Social Security checks. There are no Republicans with children or who qualify for the EITC. I guess what we can deduce from this is that Republicans are both immortal and sterile. Thanks for the killer scoop, Mitt!
And a bonus from Wonkette user PuckStopsHere:
Oh my God. People think they are entitled to food! Are there no workhouses?
And a second bonus from my coworker Econ John:
What the fuck! My grandma thinks she’s entitled to food?!
As a snarky internet commenter I would say, “the whole earth is part of China, even the moon.” As an American I would say, “<Macho Man Randy Savage Voice> China’s tekin er’ jebs, they need t’ giiiiiiit out, and Obummer needs to quit apologizing for ‘Merica, ohhhh yeah!!!!” As a objective observer I would say, “Hmmm, US ‘pivots’ from Middle East to Asia to balance China by putting lots of military bases in the Philippines, expanding bases in Japan, Korea, Australia……..China starts challenging US regional allies on a regular basis? Makes sense to me.” Also as an objective observer I would say, “Reports of oil deposits on the nearby seafloor? Well, that explains it.”
But Devin, the US Ambassador’s car just got vandalized on the way to embassy. Ohhhh but internet commenter, China’s economy is starting to slow, the real estate markets are showing signs of bubbling, and access to the expanding middle class is experiencing a…..hiccup, and you think the Chi-coms are just gonna let this opportunity to deflect growing unease about the economy onto base, vulgar, nationalistic impulses (think US vs. Iraq) go to waste?
Gawker has posted an interesting roundup of current speculation that Sally Ride was a lesbian, and it really, really seems like Ride may have broken several barriers (earlier, closeted gay astronauts are clearly a possibility, but the solution here seems obvious: Ride was the first known gay person to achieve orbit), and considering the rapidly growing number of public and private individuals who feel comfortable enough with themselves and American society to come out by choice, with pride, its kind of a retrospective shame she didn’t feel welcome enough in this country to identify as gay more publicly. There was probably good reason for that. Could she have been fired for coming out? Yes. Could she have suffered professionally? Of course. Would she have been stigmatized and marginalized and treated appallingly? Probably. So it is perfectly logical Ride would have opted to keep it a secret.
Two quick notes:
1) I am clearly assuming she was gay despite the fact that she never publicly acknowledged it. Maybe she was bisexual! Maybe Tam was her friend! She was married to a man after all, which as everyone knows is incontrovertible evidence of homosexuality. Both are unlikely scenarios though. A relatively heated battle is currently unfolding on the Sally Ride Wikipedia talk page about whether or not it is appropriate to label Ride as gay, whether or not it matters, and whether or not more evidence is needed. It shouldn’t really matter, and neither should her gender, or her nationality. It should be enough to celebrate her as a human being who did amazing things and advanced our species with grace, dedication, and courage, but unfortunately we live in a world that has a few terrible legacies to address (discrimination based on sexuality and gender being the most pertinent here).
2) I am implying that her sexuality should have been an open, public, and freely shared piece of information. I am kind of saying that she should have been an activist, if public self-identification can, or maybe always is, a form of activism. As was the case with Anderson Cooper, there is a strong argument to be made that any individual’s sexual preference should be irrelevant, whether an influential figure or a private citizen (I would argue that this form of reasoning breaks down more so when the person in question is widely known and influential. Why? It just makes sense. With a greater audience public figures can affect national and international discourse, policy decisions, and provide valuable support to other victims of discrimination).
So does it matter? In a utopia, no but we don’t live there, so yes, her sexuality does matter and it elevates her accomplishments by demonstrating how much she sacrificed and how hard she worked for both the United States and the world. Oh, also, if the Gawker roundup doesn’t do it for you, just cast a quick google spell and pick your major outlet of choice to read more.
“When a country that calls itself a democracy openly declares war within its borders, what does that war look like? Does the resistance stand a chance? Should it? Who are the Maoists? Are they just violent nihilists foisting an outdated ideology on tribal people, goading them into a hopeless insurrection? What lessons have they learned from their past experience? Is armed struggle intrinsically undemocratic? Is the Sandwich Theory—of ‘ordinary’ tribals being caught in the crossfire between the State and the Maoists—an accurate one? Are ‘Maoists’ and ‘Tribals’ two entirely discrete categories as is being made out? Do their interests converge? Have they learned anything from each other? Have they changed each other?”