Wednesday, September 4, 2013

How the Internet Made me a Liberal

I believe very firmly that the working class deserve a fair shake; that the spoils of their efforts should be to make enough to live comfortably, even if they toil away in a fast food existence. Labor is labor, and it is valuable.

And until social media, I believed the majority of conservatives thought as I did. I tend to be right center in most things in that my values tend to be conservative, but I believe liberty means allowing people to live their own lives without my dictating to them, as long as it doesn't harm others.

And I've spent a lot of time working crud jobs. Mainly because my personality quirks give me a limited tolerance for staying long term. I like working, but I don't like being caged. These jobs have given me exposure to a pretty large subset of America's working class. I've seen single mothers working and picking up their children from a sitter at day's end, I've seen young men working miles away from their families in dangerous conditions because it was the only work they can get, I've seen teenagers putting in 30 hour shifts to contribute part of their meager household.

So when the GOP groups started posting memes about how the poor are parasites, how the rich are job creators, and, most laughably, how wealth is the product of hard work (meaning, of course, that Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian must have an AMAZING work ethic), I become outraged. And that outrage grows as the myth continues.

There are certainly a group of people who sponge off of the system, but that group is in the minority. The majority of the poor work harder than most of us just to provide the needs for their family. And it's an outrageous insult to call them mooches or compare them to strays, who should not be fed because they might breed.

And it's certainly not Christian compassion to look upon the poor in such a manner.

If given a choice between a party that respects the working class and advocates for higher wages, or a party that believes the working class are parasites and leeches, well the choice is obvious. Attack the working class and I will defend them. And I believe, in my admittedly limited experience, that many of the "mooches" are not so naturally, but are people who have given up because they aren't a good fit for college, and aren't young enough or fit enough to meet the physical demands of many trades.

So the attempt to sway public opinion has, in my instance, steered me the opposite way. It has shown me the true personality of the GOP, and that they are steadfastly set against anyone who is not wealthy. And it has guaranteed that I will not, for the foreseeable future, punch a ballot with a single Republican candidate's name punched.

So, thanks, Republicans. You are the best argument against yourselves!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The "Collateral Damage" of Capitalism

Let's look at some numbers, shall we?

21 Million Americans are out of work (I knew this number would be controversial, so here is my source), with 50 million living in poverty; 47 million of those on the food stamp rolls. Over 2 million Americans languish in our prisons, and some 3.5 million Americans can expect to experience homelessness in a given year.

We're told to ignore those numbers, to look at the number of affluent Americans (43 million; interestingly enough, very similar to the number in poverty). We're told that the opportunity to accumulate wealth in America justifies ignoring social problems and pushing austerity. We're told, essentially, that the homeless, the addicts, the desperate masses living in substandard housing, are the collateral damage of capitalism. That we hold no duty to address these problems because, in creating a K-12 education system, we've eliminated every argument they have to justify their lack of success.

We're told, in short, that the ends justify the means. I wholly reject this premise and argue that the current capitalist system is nothing more than a cleaned up version of human sacrifice without the elaborate pageantry surrounding its formal practice. Our prisons have become the altars on which we sacrifice our victims, and we enslave and chain even the ones who call themselves free, forcing the bulk of the product of their labor to go to someone who did not earn it, but who simply provided the capital to force the employee's indenture.

Economists tell us that unemployment is necessary; that it is good for growth. They say that inflation helps an economy to grow and thrive when in reality it is nothing more than an exceptionally regressive taxation scheme that steals from the bank accounts of the working class all while their balance books show their assets to be the same.

The middle claass has allowed itself to be bought with gaudy trinkets, selling their souls for baubles and trinkets that give us a false sense of comfort and security. Meanwhile, 43% of Americans spend more than they earn every single year, and 25% of households have a negative net worth.

We fight against a change in the system because we believe the only alternative is socialism. We believe it because it is what we have been taught. It's time to change that thinking.

It is time to stop accepting the collateral damage of capitalism and start thinking of ways that we can ensure that ever single person in our nation first, and then the world, has access to clean drinking water, adequate food, shelter, clothing, education and health care. If we can allow businesses and individuals to become unimaginably wealthy, the very least we can do is ensure a sense of responsibility to those who are not. That's not socialism, it's compassion. And it is the one thing we should NEVER lose in pursuit of our own personal comforts!