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Author Topic: Top political donors 1989-2014
Elison R. Salazar
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Can people stop using my real name, thanks m'kay, especially when used as an obvious and not particularly subtle pejorative.

quote:

People on food stamps also often make lots of cost-inefficient decisions with their food stamps, like buying lots of meat, or spending most of their money immediately and running out of food in the last week of the month.

Interestingly enough, the health of the average Brit went up during the Second World War when they were on a ration system, this was because nutritionists were advising the rationing system.

You know what would help those in poverty making better nutritional decisions? I wonder if it would cost tax payers money?

Putting that aside though, "People make bad decisions with their life line" doesn't mean "starve the bastards" by removing those benefits is the right decision; this is part of a calculated propaganda and misinformation war to convince people that the dirty poors don't deserve help, they don't really "need" it, look at those Xbox's and Refigerators they have in a first world country!

How many people would need to starve to death before you'ld concede that a rigorous government social safety net is required to prevent it? 100,000? One Million? A Holodomor or Half a Holodomor? Would you concede Two and a Half Holodomors?

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TomDavidson
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quote:
If people don't listen to you be as obnoxious as possible? I mean that's what you do all the time.
I solemnly promise you that I am capable of being far, far more obnoxious than you have ever seen me.
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Boris
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quote:
Unless you'd rather stick to gabbing with hostile would-be revolutionaries who will adopt exactly that approach towards you? If so please let us know and save everyone some trouble. This vacillation between honest discussion and 'you liberals think stuff is bad because of rich people!' crap has grown tedious.
I am trying to foster an honest discussion here, but sometimes the lizard brain kicks in and goes off on some stupid tangent. I apologize. But I really would like to know where the idea that the system is against minorities comes from. I fully understand it was a massive problem 50 years ago, but I want to see the evidence used to come to the conclusion that it is a systemic issue *now*, because I can't find any.

And here's the thing, calls of privilege piss me off because they are a barrier to honest discussion and problem solving. Nobody knows what it's like to be someone else. Ever. You can attempt to sympathize as much as possible, but it is absolutely impossible to really understand what people go through. As to people who fail to get some level of success in their lives, this may seem cliche, but it really is true that you only fail when you give up. Seriously, every person who works hard to succeed and then fails to do so, at what point did they decide to stop trying? Because the only correct time to stop trying to better yourself or achieve something is when you die.

quote:
I solemnly promise you that I am capable of being far, far more obnoxious than you have ever seen me.
I have no doubt that you can accomplish anything you set your mind on.
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Rakeesh
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Wait, should we use Blayne or Elison? Serious question. I was critical of your style of discussion, but nothing was perjorative in my use of your name. If I used an unpreferred name, it was accidental.

---------

Boris,

Thanks for saying so. I've had to make a similar statement more times than I should in the past as well, so I know it can w difficult. Props.

Now, that said, as for the system and minorities I suppose one of the most straightforward ways of discussing that topic is to simply ask: where have you looked? That's a serious question, and you're obviously not alone in thinking systematic racism is largely or even entirely a thing of the past. So that's why it might be useful to ask what one of your favorite sources for that opinion is, when you mentioned having looked. I'll be happy to answer the same question if you'd like, and I think others would too, but I admit I'm frankly concerned about being immediately tarred with the 'dislikes America and rich people liberal' brush. Cards on the table there.

As for walking in someone else's shoes, I entirely agree with much of what you've said. Even for people whose circumstances are quite closely aligned, perfect empathy is going to be impossible. Even really good empathy between like minded similar people is unusual. All of that said, though, don't you think there is a contradiction involved in rejecting-completely rejecting, btw-a discussion of privilege because of imperfect understanding...and then holding forth on how other people embrace an ideology of victimhood, and how if they truly tried and wished to improve, they would, etc.? Doesn't that assume a level of understanding that you just rejected as so difficult to attain it doesn't bear discussion? Can you see how it appears you're trying to have it both ways?

As for using it as a tool to stop discussion, well on that I also agree. Often it is. And I am certainly biased, but I do think that it is also often responded to as though a mention of privilege were really a ploy to tell the other party to be quiet, than it actually is. I think that because serious people don't actually think privilege is an open and shut total determining factor. If they did, social mobility would be static. Serious people, and there are some here, think it's of substantial importance-not that it's the first and last word in the discussion.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
it really is true that you only fail when you give up
My great-grandfather was storming a trench and was shot. He failed to storm the trench, but I don't know that he ever gave up.
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Dan_Frank
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Boris specifically allowed for death as well a bit further down. Would've been better to include it in the quoted passage, too, but come on.
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Rakeesh
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Dan, c'mon, I *know* you see the contradiction to which Tom is alluding. Boris said in plain language that the only time one fails is when one stops trying. His mention of death did not touch on success for failure-it wasn't an exception, that is-but only a statement of the only time when it's appropriate to stop trying.

Which is in fact an admirable outlook, though few-even among proponents-live up to it, because it's a doctrine of heroic ceaseless struggle. Tom's use of a plain, undeniable example of a time when major, even heroic effort did not achieve success thus seems pretty apt to me.

I suspect that Boris didn't actually mean to suggest that all effort will eventually achieve success. There's a bit more nuance to it-not all failures are quitters, but all quitters have failed might be a better way to describe it-so I don't think Boris meant his words to be an end-all summation of his position. (I suspect Tom thought something similar, actually.)

But it's a potentially useful remark because Boris does appear to talk a good deal in ways that seem to express a belief that it IS true. That effort is the only real, permanent solution to dissatisfaction and failure in these glorious United States-and that anyone who has failed or is dissatisfied is thus guilty simply of not trying hard enough.

Tom's example is a useful one because it punctures such absolutist thinking, though I have little doubt it was also quite a bit motivated by snark as well. Are you gonna lecture him about that? Not long ago you were smugly lecturing-in the form of commiserating with Boris-your opponents, using a heapin helping of snark too.

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kmbboots
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Yeah. So condemning folks to sisyphean struggle but, hey, they have to keep at it because, instead of acknowledging that they need help - that they will likely fail without it - you offer crap platitudes about never giving up! Delightful.

And even should they, against the odds, find a small measure of success, why, for God's sake, must we keep it so difficult for them?

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Samprimary
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That doesn't matter. The passage is still ridiculous on its face.

Saying "It really is true that you only fail when you give up" is saying something which is completely untrue, whether or not we're applying a caveat about dying.

You can fail due to injury, illness, actions taken against you by other parties, disaster, or economic forces well outside of your control.

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Samprimary
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Like I watched someone work very hard to build up his construction company from scratch, then he got leukemia and could hardly stand and so his company failed, especially what with the having to liquidate it to cover medical costs even while "insured™" american-style.

I want to walk up to him and tell him that irrelevant of the fact that he became so anemic he could barely walk from a bed to a bathroom, he only failed because he stopped trying. That would be so awesome because he would punch me in my smug goddamned face, and I'd deserve it for peddling The Secret level platitudes prejudging failure as purely a measure of lack of effort.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Boris:
And I realize I probably mis-spoke earlier on what the left is saying to people, and trust me, I do realize that conservatives have serious issues communicating what they actually mean to people and the left is much more capable when it comes to messaging.

See, why is it always this? Why is it always that if you could just *communicate* your idea more effectively, it would be more attractive? What if you message is fundamentally flawed? Your lack of clarity on what the liberal message even is, is clear evidence that liberals don't do much better at communicating than you do.

Perhaps the problem is that the Republican message has a deliberately broad appeal, while the Democratic one actually deals in fact and real data. Perhaps the Republican message is *just wrong.*

quote:
But here's my point. What do you think would have happened if a group of people had told me that the hard work I put in studying wasn't going to make much of a difference because it's too hard to move upward now? If someone had told me that my hard work meant little in the face of my circumstances, I probably wouldn't have put any effort in. I probably wouldn't have risked 150 dollars of the last thousand I had to get an IT certification that was necessary to get the career jump-starting job less than a month later.
Nobody is saying hard work isn't important.

What I *am* saying, is that hard work for you is not the same as hard work for everyone. For some people, it's hard work to even get in the door of a job interview. For some people, it's near impossible to be believed when they say they'll work hard and do the right thing. A hard luck story makes a white guy from a middle class background seem *credible*. A hard luck story makes a black guy look dangerous. That's the way things are, unfortunately. The standards to which you are held are not the same as they are for others.

Look, I'm a waspy, upper-middle class white guy with a good education. I can walk into interviews for jobs I'm barely qualified for, and get them easily. Can I honestly think that my being able to work hard is, while true, the essence of why I live in comfort while others do not?

We've got higher income inequality than we did at the end of the 19th century in America. We've got universities with 10 Billion dollars in endowments, 2 Million a student a Harvard, and adjusted spending on public education has cratered in the past 30 years. And we talk about how hard people are willing to work.

I often think of this analogy: suppose the government came to you and offered you a gift of $10,000 dollars. Do you consider yourself the type of person that could make good use of that money? Do you know what you would do with it? Would you be responsible with it? Would you start a business? Give it to a good charity? Use it to make art or to do research?

Now imagine there was a stipulation: if you want the money, you also need to give permission for the government to give $10,000 to a person in poverty. A person on the bleeding edge of survival. Would you feel that that $10,000 dollars would be a waste? If you do, why? Are you morally better than that man who will receive the money? Is it because he is not as well educated as you? Is it because he will waste it? Is it because he will do harm with it? Will that money harm him, when it wouldn't do harm to you? Why is that?

That is the essence of systematic inequality. It is the truth that giving money to poor people can be bad for them. And that is a very scary truth indeed. It means that we are so far from a society in which people have a chance at succeeding, that even offering certain kinds of help will only hurt people more. If you can't recognize the fundamental brokenness of that kind of system, then I don't trust you as a human being.

quote:
But I really would like to know where the idea that the system is against minorities comes from. I fully understand it was a massive problem 50 years ago, but I want to see the evidence used to come to the conclusion that it is a systemic issue *now*, because I can't find any.
13% of the American population is black. Black people make up 40% of the American prison population.

A black male born in 1991 has a 29% chance of serving time in prison at some point in his life. Almost 1 in 3 black males in America are in the supervision of the criminal justice system. For the population as a whole, that number is 1 in 43.

Currently there are 44 black congresspersons in the United States, for a total of 8% of seats, against 13% by population. 0.005% of black Americans hold a doctoral degree or higher. Over 3% of the total population holds a doctoral degree or higher. About 30% of whites over 25 hold bachelor's degrees. about 18% of blacks over 25 hold bachelor's degrees.

Need we go on?

[ February 25, 2014, 04:40 PM: Message edited by: Orincoro ]

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Dan_Frank
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This is fascinating to me because apparently it wasn't a nitpick, all of you genuinely read his statement totally different than I did.

He specifically says fail "to achieve a level of success in their lives."

Pretty sure he'll correct me if I'm wrong, but... He's not saying the only way to fail at X arbitrary endeavor is to stop trying. Any given venture can fail. He described some things he did that failed, too. Failure is always a possibility. Failure is the easiest possibility.

He's saying the only way to [/I]be[/i] a failure, to never succeed at anything and be low value your entire life, is to give up. (And die.)

This fits into the context of the conversation better than your interpretations, too. Which means you aren't trying very hard to actually understand. [Frown]

Orincoro's post slipped in while I was writing this, not meant as a reply to him.

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NobleHunter
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quote:

He's saying the only way to be a failure, to never succeed at anything and be low value your entire life, is to give up. (And die.)

That's not significantly different from how people have been interpreting Boris' statements. A person can try and try and try their whole life and still never succeed at anything. It becomes more likely if their situation is particularly vulnerable to being compromised by stupid mistakes, like attracting the attention of law enforcement. They start bad, head worse, and then spend their whole life just trying to get back to bad.
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Boris
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quote:
the Democratic one actually deals in fact and real data
If what you're using in your post is what you consider "Fact" and "Real data" then I guess that's the case...but...

This:
quote:
13% of the American population is black. Black people make up 40% of the American prison population.

A black male born in 1991 has a 29% chance of serving time in prison at some point in his life. Almost 1 in 3 black males in America are in the supervision of the criminal justice system. For the population as a whole, that number is 1 in 43.

Currently there are 44 black congresspersons in the United States, for a total of 8% of seats, against 13% by population. 0.005% of black Americans hold a doctoral degree or higher. Over 3% of the total population holds a doctoral degree or higher. About 30% of whites over 25 hold bachelor's degrees. about 18% of blacks over 25 hold bachelor's degrees.

Is not facts. This is just a giant blob of numbers with no context. There is no logical way to go from any one of those numbers to "Black people are failing because the system is stacked against them." There is a logical link between this: "0.005% of black Americans hold a doctoral degree or higher" and this: "Black Americans are not getting Doctoral degrees at a rate that is equal to the national average." That is completely logical. What you have stated is not.

It takes a lot more information to go from the statistics you posted to the conclusion you've reached, and none of that information is in what you posted.

I say this because in saying that these numbers represent systemic inequality,it is therefore possible to infer that such systemic inequality will always exist until all those numbers are in parity. It is then possible to infer that your solution to the problem of systemic inequality is to bring those numbers into parity. Now how do you expect us to do that? Do you expect us to ignore our personal opinions when voting and vote based on race until exactly 13% of the representatives in government are black? Give doctorates or make doctorates more attainable for blacks until exactly 3% of blacks have doctorates?

And I have to point something out here:

quote:
That is the essence of systematic inequality. It is the truth that giving money to poor people can be bad for them. And that is a very scary truth indeed. It means that we are so far from a society in which people have a chance at succeeding, that even offering certain kinds of help will only hurt people more. If you can't recognize the fundamental brokenness of that kind of system, then I don't trust you as a human being.
Let me explain something to you. What you are describing is not systemic inequality, at least as far as I understand the term. But hey, words mean things but words don't always mean the same things to different people, so how about before we go into a discussion on systemic equality, we first have a discussion about what that *is*.

At any rate, what bothers me about what you have stated here is this, specifically:
quote:
That is the essence of systematic inequality. It is the truth that giving money to poor people can be bad for them. And that is a very scary truth indeed. It means that we are so far from a society in which people have a chance at succeeding, that even offering certain kinds of help will only hurt people more.
Now, this is not a failing of "the system" as I understand it. This is a failing that comes as a result of people being able to make their own choices *at all*. You can give a poor person 10,000 dollars and they have a choice of what to do with it, because it is "theirs" now. How do you think that person would feel if you demanded they only do what you want them to do with that money. Don't you think that would be an incredible intrusion into their life? Do you think that they would be grateful for your help, or do you think they would be resentful that you treated them with such contempt, even if it is warranted by their past actions?

Basically, what I don't understand is what are you guys wanting to turn the world into? What would your ideal, perfect, unbroken "system" look like? Have you considered trying to explain that? I'd really like to know.

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NobleHunter
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Boris, if it's not systemic inequality, how do you explain those numbers?
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Boris:

Basically, what I don't understand is what are you guys wanting to turn the world into? What would your ideal, perfect, unbroken "system" look like? Have you considered trying to explain that? I'd really like to know.

It is the system we would design if we didn't know who we were going to be when we were born. If we didn't know who our parents would be. If we didn't know what race we would be. If we didn't know what our talents would be, or our gender, or our challenges.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by NobleHunter:
quote:

He's saying the only way to be a failure, to never succeed at anything and be low value your entire life, is to give up. (And die.)

That's not significantly different from how people have been interpreting Boris' statements. A person can try and try and try their whole life and still never succeed at anything. It becomes more likely if their situation is particularly vulnerable to being compromised by stupid mistakes, like attracting the attention of law enforcement. They start bad, head worse, and then spend their whole life just trying to get back to bad.
This. And in relation to this and the question of the presence of institutional racism in society, multiple studies have been done on the effects of things like ethnicity in regards to employment. Several concurrent bouts of research from NYC to Milwaukee show that being black (or, in the case of online resumes, even just having a black sounding name) has as much or more of an impact on your chances of employment as having a felony conviction would.

The individual experiment done by a one Yolanda Spivey when she changed her name to "Bianca White" and her ethnicity from black to white are repeatable, essentially, all across the nation, and represent only the tip of the effects of discrimination.

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Elison R. Salazar
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
Wait, should we use Blayne or Elison? Serious question. I was critical of your style of discussion, but nothing was perjorative in my use of your name. If I used an unpreferred name, it was accidental.

It was Dan and the term "[name]-ism" not you; but I'ld prefer Elison; I like to use it as my middle name but is actually my brothers iirc, but the username doesn't link to say, my FB account.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
I like to use it as my middle name but is actually my brothers iirc
You don't know your brother's full name?
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TomDavidson
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FWIW, Boris, are you truly saying that you don't believe systemic inequality exists? That you're looking for and receptive to any evidence that it does?

Because I can't believe that's what you're saying, but on the face of it that's what it appears you're asking for.

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Elison R. Salazar
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
I like to use it as my middle name but is actually my brothers iirc
You don't know your brother's full name?
When would that ever come up in conversation? I think I only saw my birth certificate (not from Kenya) once.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Boris:
I say this because in saying that these numbers represent systemic inequality,it is therefore possible to infer that such systemic inequality will always exist until all those numbers are in parity.

No, you have the cart before the horse. Those numbers are evidence of systematic inequality. Changing the numbers by any means doesn't *guarantee* the erasure of systematic inequality, but it would be *very* hard to change them any other way. It's not a case of post hoc ergo propter hoc, because it is well understood why these numbers are not in closer alignment (and for that, you can look at statistics of income inequality, substandard education, racially motivated drug legislation, and police practices around the country).

However, the across-the-board statistics are a strong determiner of systematic biases that are far deeper than mere college admissions, court decisions, or budgetary problems for any given municipality or state. These kinds of statistics are, in fact, convincing evidence of a systematic problem.

This is the "systematic," part of systematic inequality. I think you're imagining that we all start at zero, and work our way up or down, and if the system is levered against one class of people, they have a greater chance of failure. That isn't exactly the case. We live in a fluid system, where the mere fact that black people are inordinately more likely to be actual criminals disadvantages other black people in a very basic way. Systematic biases spring up from a system that has evolved to treat a class of people in a certain way, but in turn ends up also reinforcing the consequences of past injustices and past results.

The "three strikes," rule, as an example, is argued to have negatively impacted communities by significantly displacing black male populations and disadvantaging the children of black criminal offenders, leading to decreased economic opportunities in already high-crime areas. Areas in which the police were *already* more likely to arrest and to pursue black men for petty crimes, which would then lead to disproportionately long sentences. The feedback loop that an injust system creates are pernicious precisely because it *is* real crime that police and legislatures are talking about. But they do not take the long view of whether incarceration will actually increase overall economic inequality or not.

quote:
Now, this is not a failing of "the system" as I understand it. This is a failing that comes as a result of people being able to make their own choices *at all*.
Yes, such as the choice a very rich person makes to vote for the guy who will lower his taxes, even when he knows where that money is coming from. Choice is a problem.

[ February 26, 2014, 05:58 AM: Message edited by: Orincoro ]

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Elison R. Salazar:
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
I like to use it as my middle name but is actually my brothers iirc
You don't know your brother's full name?
When would that ever come up in conversation? I think I only saw my birth certificate (not from Kenya) once.
That is bizarre, "Elison." I know the full names of all my family members. I think most people do.
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Kwea
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I do.
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kmbboots
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I even know the full names of my twelve nieces and nephews.
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Boris
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quote:
FWIW, Boris, are you truly saying that you don't believe systemic inequality exists? That you're looking for and receptive to any evidence that it does?

Because I can't believe that's what you're saying, but on the face of it that's what it appears you're asking for.

I'm trying to get to the core of the philosophical disconnect between our ideals, primarily so I can understand where you guys are coming from. And really, I think the responses I've gotten to my last post have given me some insight.

I apparently didn't understand what you guys meant when you said "Systemic inequality." I'm still not exactly sure what you guys are saying.

But based on what you've said, particularly this:
quote:
Yes, such as the choice a very rich person makes to vote for the guy who will lower his taxes, even when he knows where that money is coming from. Choice is a problem.
I want no part of your perfect world. If you are honestly saying that the government should be making life decisions for me or anyone else, then get the hell away from me.
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Rakeesh
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I would probably be instructive to ask what *you* think is meant by systemic inequality when other peoe use the term, and what you mean by the term when you use it, if you think it exists. Samprimary gave a pretty solid, specific example. Do you believe, for example, that having an 'ethnic-sounding' name can be a liability even in non-face to face situations?
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TomDavidson
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quote:
But based on what you've said...
Just to clarify, that's a broadly-meant "you," right? Because I didn't actually say that. I'm actually considerably less of an economic leftist than you might think. [Smile]

When people talk about systemic inequality and privilege, it's important to note that these are actually two different things (although specific examples might overlap).

Privilege is the experience of being the default, from which many benefits accrue almost imperceptibly to the holder (but which are perceived by those without that benefit.) It is the experience of having implicit assumptions made about identity and background and experience which largely fit your own. You see people who look like you on television. Articles are aimed at your demographic. When you pull up in a certain type of automobile, you do not surprise people when you step out of it. Obviously this can be a somewhat mushy yardstick; an 18 to 24-year-old white male arguably benefits more from his self-identification in some ways than, say, a 56-year-old white male, but is harmed by other assumptions (like, for example, the idea that a 22-year-old will be more irresponsible or has less managerial talent). The closer you are to certain defaults, the more greased you'll find the wheels of life; while outliers can occasionally benefit (or at least compensate for their background) by pimping their outsider narrative -- like a poor inner-city kid who invented something and is now on Oprah to promote it partially by promoting himself -- these cases are tautologically uncommon.

It is important to understand privilege so that you can understand actual equivalencies. As a basic and common example, let's discuss the very common idea I've heard from homophobes that "gay people don't need to shove their gayness in my face" -- that it's fine for homosexuals to engage in homosexual behavior as long as they don't discuss it publicly or otherwise try to bring it into the public sphere, because that constitutes "pushing" their lifestyle at unwilling victims. Recognizing the extreme privilege that heterosexuals enjoyed in this context until very recently makes it easier to understand why this position is so ridiculous. Every picture of a spouse, every discussion of a vacation weekend or casual encounter with a co-worker and his significant other at a restaurant, every discussion of adoption or romantic pairing you see in film or read in novels, is fraught with meaning for someone who has to avoid publicly "pushing" his sexuality at someone, but is absolutely trivial for those who benefit from being able to broadcast their own sexuality because it is the default.

Systemic inequality can of course be informed and abetted by privilege, but doesn't depend on the assumption of privilege or even prejudice to persist. Consider that we know poor children will, by and large, receive worse educations and meet fewer wealthy associates and as a consequence will have both fewer networking opportunities and fewer role models. We also know that, for various historical reasons, certain ethnic groups were much more likely to be poor. As a consequence, those ethnic groups are much more likely to remain poor, because they have fewer networking opportunities and fewer role models. (In the same way, someone born to a rich family has a very small chance of becoming poor.) There are latent advantages to a given position which wind up solidifying those advantages in the next generation, and there exist systems that -- while ostensibly blind to all other factors -- wind up advantaging people who already have those advantages while ignoring or actively suppressing the chances of those without them. It's not impossible to rise above these disadvantages, but it often takes multiple generations or exceptional effort -- and by definition, exceptional effort is exceptional.

Sometimes racism plays a part, too. Consider the case Sam gave you, of the "ethnic-sounding" name; there's a scenario where someone confronted with their own kneejerk racism might justify it by arguing that an "ethnic" name might signify a meaningful cultural difference. But how is someone going to overcome that, especially when they've never had any reason to realize that it's a disadvantage?

The question becomes whether the government should step in, then, and deliberately tilt the playing field towards those who are disadvantaged. I believe they should, for three reasons:

1) Compassion. The disadvantaged need more help than the wealthy need to keep their wealth. I don't even notice the taxes I pay, but I pay more in taxes than nearly half the population makes in a year.

2) Redistribution. The wealthy circulate their wealth inefficiently; they don't spend it enough, or in the right places. Giving money to the poor ensures that services and manufacturing continue to exist.

3) Competition. As money and advantages accumulate to the wealthy, they can create additional systems to accelerate this accumulation. It winds up creating oligarchies, in much the same way monopolies tend to form in unregulated industries with high barriers to entry; the rich, who are uniquely enabled to adjust those barriers to entry, work to ensure their uniqueness and lack of competition. To prevent the rule of a handful of privileged few, the majority needs to break up the power accumulated by those few every so often. When this doesn't happen, it eventually happens anyway in a rather more bloody fashion.

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Dogbreath
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
[QUOTE]1) Compassion. The disadvantaged need more help than the wealthy need to keep their wealth. I don't even notice the taxes I pay, but I pay more in taxes than nearly half the population makes in a year.

So, this is somewhat tangential to the subject at hand, but there's an interesting (and rather depressing) psycological phenomenon I've noticed that seems to coincide with an icrease in wealth.

When I was about 17 or 18, I remember a family friend of mine in Indiana who was going through some financial hardship telling my father "I just need to make $100,000 a year - that'd be enough for me to get by." and I thought "good lord, who in the world (especially in a state with a rather low cost of living, and for a person with only 2 children) considers 100 grand a year 'getting by'?"

The thing is, I've always fantasized about giving away a good portion of my income to charity. I do donate to charity (I've always worked a job where they can take your charitable donation right from your paycheck, so it's not like it requires an actual conscious effort), but not more than $500-$1000 a year.

So anyway, when I first started living on my own, I made $20,000/year as a student, and didn't give because my income more or less matched my expenses. Expenses at that point were a rent payment for a house I shared with 4 men, gas, food, tuition.

Then later, when I was making $40,000 a year (though because the military automatically deducts the cost of free housing/food the actually income paid looks different) my expenses still miraculously matched my income. Though by this point expenses were insurance, monthly deposits on my IRA and savings account, cell phone, gas, plane tickets to go home twice a year, beer and entertainment, etc. So I still didn't give.

Now I make a little over $70,000/year, and for the firt time I make more money than I really have any reason to spend in a month. But that's mostly lifestyle choices. I cook almost all my meals at home and pack my lunch each day though I could afford to eat out. I drive a used car, though I could afford a new one. I live in a small house. I don't have children.

And it's now for the first time I've really realized that I could still very easily live off of $15,000 or $20,000 a year, and that I'm not really noticably more happy than I was when I did live off that much money. I've merely become accustomed to spending more. I'm used to having my own house instead of sharing one with several other people or families. I'm used to eating higher quality food, with more variety. I'm used to driving everywhere even when I have enough time to just ride my bike. I'm used to having a new laptop with internet in my home, though I could do everything I really need to with the internet at work or at the library. Ditto for spending hundreds of dollars a year on my Kindle, when I could just get the books from my library.

But will I, of my own volition, go back to living off of $20,000/year and give the rest away to charity? Probably not. At most, this period of introspection will make me decide to cut out of a few expenditures and maybe curb my spending for the next few years, and pat myself on the back for doing that. Which is rather depressing.

At what point to things stop being luxuries and start being "necessities"? Like, once a make x dollars a year, do you simply say "well, I have pretty much everything I need, let me give the rest away to charity", or do people legitimately view vacation homes and 5 star hotel stays and BMWs as "necessities?" I mean, I often think my mother in law is rather absurd when she says things like "I just need a new car every 2 years" or "we absolutely need to take a cruise this year, it's been forever!" to justify her exorbitant spending. But compared to, say, a villager in the Philippines or even someone living in the ghetto in Chicago, is there even a noticable difference? (between me and my MIL, I mean)

I think that's the main flaw behind the argument of people who assume that charity can effectively replace welfare. I'm not hoarding wealth because I hate poor people, or think they need to work hard rather than get handouts, or even because I don't care/don't understand. I do care, and have spent quite a bit of time volunteering at homeless shelters. No, I hoard wealth simply because I'm too lazy not to. Because I constantly make the flaw of planning to increase my contribution to charity by increasing my income rather than lowering my expenses. Because it's human nature, and honestly, without some outside source forcing people to redistribute meaningful amounts of wealth, it's unlikely to happen.

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MattP
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quote:
But will I, of my own volition, go back to living off of $20,000/year and give the rest away to charity? Probably not. At most, this period of introspection will make me decide to cut out of a few expenditures and maybe curb my spending for the next few years, and pat myself on the back for doing that. Which is rather depressing.
If you are actually spending the money rather than building up a fortune, (Reasonable retirement savings exempted) then I see no reason to fault you. Money spent is salaries paid and people hired.
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The Black Pearl
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpaCQKJpE9k
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Boris:
I want no part of your perfect world. If you are honestly saying that the government should be making life decisions for me or anyone else, then get the hell away from me.

So you want no part of a world in which if someone kills you for your wallet, the government can prosecute them on your behalf and even imprison them, or do literally anything related to the most basic functions of managing law.

That's good to know, I guess, but what you are saying is ideologically blind beyond reason. You're already part of this 'perfect world' where the government makes decisions for people, you always have been, you always will be, and being aghast at this is blinkered.

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Elison R. Salazar
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There's also that, suppose the US is invaded, he'ld be conscripted, immediately; the federal government as an 'entity' really is playing nice and holding back; but in truth his ideal perfect world is an illusion that will shatter like glass the second anything serious happens to threaten it.

His ideal world can't exist, its never existed; socialism has produced more functioning societies than libertarianism ever has (which is 0).

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TomDavidson
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Guys, don't throw straw men at Boris. He's at least semi-consistent in his libertarian positions; he's very much a negative liberty guy and is outright dismissive of positive liberty (or, rather, believes that positive liberty is already largely infinite, being limited only by human will.)

Prosecuting someone for forcibly violating the sanctity of another person and taking their life or property would be, from a pro-negative-liberty perspective, a perfectly reasonable function of government. As is conscription, actually, given the alternatives. This is why libertarians can also be hawks, although they're generally pseudo-isolationists.

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Samprimary
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If he's trying to articulate a negative/positive liberty thing, he needs to learn how to actually articulate it rather than saying what he said.

Imprisonment or other penalty for my violation of a legal right on the part of another is, to put it mildly, the government making decisions for me. Whether positive or negative rights were infiltrated by me, or whatever.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Boris:

quote:
Yes, such as the choice a very rich person makes to vote for the guy who will lower his taxes, even when he knows where that money is coming from. Choice is a problem.
I want no part of your perfect world. If you are honestly saying that the government should be making life decisions for me or anyone else, then get the hell away from me.
Lol. You think I'm saying you shouldn't be allowed to vote? Heh, no. I'm pointing out that the upward flow of money and power skews the political system toward defending the advantages of the rich, and the *illusion* of choice is the idea that if people want a better society, they will just vote for one. When in fact, inordinate amounts of time and money will be spent creating a deluge of misinformation (along with good old-fashioned gerry-mandering and voter harassment), to make that choice fairly obsolete.

In that sense, self-interested choices are a problem, because people are not capable of understanding their own greater interests. Such as the rich guy who votes for lower taxes: his choice seems self-interested, but is ultimately self-defeating. In that sense, choice is a problem.

Also: don't read "problem," as "aberration." That's too simplistic. A problem means, in that context, a system that confounds intentionality. You vote for how you want government to function, but you can't vote for the results.

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Elison R. Salazar
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Should the government not regulate industries regarding dumping toxic substances into the rivers and water tables?
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Orincoro
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No, because... um...because government bad.
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Rakeesh
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That's a *bit* of a straw man in the modern day, though not as much as I would like.

But I think it is worth remembering, when considering an ideology's current claims, to examine its track record. It's a complicated issue, and there are competing needs, but on environmental terms conservatives are usually crappier than liberals-who generally aren't especially interests themselves.

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Elison R. Salazar
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Liberals tend to be more counter productive, harmful mostly as a result of hijacking of the environmental movement by interest groups. For example, the predominantly European Green Party's idiotic Anti-Nucular stance. Personally, I prefer nucular power over hydro-electic power as more environmentally friendly (Hydro releases more C02 emissions through rotting wood in the flooded areas).

Conservatives have generally, I imagine maybe there's the odd Christian Conservative who takes "We're the grounds keepers of the lands God gave us" seriously, but in general, conservatives believe in a very Emmanuel Kantian view of the world; that there's no ethical imperative or inherent value to nature or preserving the environment if it means Human Inconvenience, and by 'inconvenience' obviously that just means "Corporations need to be compelled to spend money they otherwise didn't need to".

This is what largely drives Climate Change Denialism in the United States as well as knee jerk political rejection of anything Democratic or Internationalist.

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ScottF
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quote:
Originally posted by Elison R. Salazar:
Liberals tend to be more counter productive, harmful mostly as a result of hijacking of the environmental movement by interest groups. For example, the predominantly European Green Party's idiotic Anti-Nucular stance. Personally, I prefer nucular power over hydro-electic power as more environmentally friendly (Hydro releases more C02 emissions through rotting wood in the flooded areas).

Conservatives have generally, I imagine maybe there's the odd Christian Conservative who takes "We're the grounds keepers of the lands God gave us" seriously, but in general, conservatives believe in a very Emmanuel Kantian view of the world; that there's no ethical imperative or inherent value to nature or preserving the environment if it means Human Inconvenience, and by 'inconvenience' obviously that just means "Corporations need to be compelled to spend money they otherwise didn't need to".

This is what largely drives Climate Change Denialism in the United States as well as knee jerk political rejection of anything Democratic or Internationalist.

About the only thing I agree with here is our nonsensical aversion to nuclear power as a dominant energy source.

I'm confident that all the conservatives I know (as in 100%) would not agree to what you're saying they believe "in general". Even those who believe that man has "dominion over the earth" don't interpret that as license to f#$k up said earth.

My house exists to serve my needs, I have complete dominion over it and everything within. That doesn't mean I'm going to trash it or let it be damaged for convenience sake.

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Elison R. Salazar
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Conservatives fundamentally reject the notion of a 'commons' from which by implication reject the notion of preserving said commons. Which you illustrate from the notion of "my house exists to serve my needs". You have your house and you think your doing fine in your house but this isn't universally true. Dumping toxic waste into the river is a Thing Companies Do In Their House, "Clean Coal" is by definition sticking toxic waste into the ground where it can potentially contaminate the water tables.

The "My House" analogy works in reverse, just as you think you are maintaining your house, you also likely do not believe you should be compelled to maintain it "better" than you think you need to, that it is "unnecessary". Climate Change Denial is all about rationalizing increasingly contrived explanations as to why there should not be any compulsion to achieve a more sustainable quality of life and standard of living.

Then there's selfish reasons, conservatives tend to be more beholden to corporate interest and corporate welfare; doing anything that increases the fiscal burden on a company is "anti business" and can lead to a "loss of jobs"; under a world view that economic pragmatism is the higher priority than the quality of life of human beings affected by that work. The debate over increasing environmental standards on coal plants and coal mines, fracking, and so on are indicative of this Corporatist way of thinking spearheaded primarily by conservatives. A corporation shouldn't be compelled to adhere to high environmental standards is the argument, that its too expensive and the plant may have to close, or let the 'free market' decide even though the health of hundreds of thousands is being affected "now", here not even humans are the priority, but stock portfolio and profit margins and knee jerk ideology.

Harming the commons harms humans and the environment, and harming the environment harms the ability for humans to live long term; this is why there needs to be laws and regulations and enforcement mechanisms with teeth, to prevent avoidable tragedy.

And right now climate change is happening and driven by excessive pollution; China is a good example of where America might see itself, poisoned rivers, poisoned water tables, contaminated food, soil erosion, drying lakes and rivers; preventing or more likely, softening the effects of climate change has a monetary cost and sacrifice that will require people and corporations to foot the bill.

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ScottF
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quote:
Originally posted by Elison R. Salazar:
Conservatives fundamentally reject the notion of a 'commons' from which by implication reject the notion of preserving said commons.

Hogwash. Clearly, we must associate with a different species of conservative.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
My house exists to serve my needs, I have complete dominion over it and everything within. That doesn't mean I'm going to trash it or let it be damaged for convenience sake.
You will, I think, agree that while a person's dominion over a given piece of property* doesn't necessarily mean they will mistreat it, it does do two things. One, it contains within it a right to mistreat it-if it's yours you can maintain or trash it. Two, it also sets a lower general standard for maintenance than one which has up front, for everyone, an idea that the property ought to be protected by its owners?

Relying totally on personal dominion relies essentially on the environmental values of that person. Will he for example decide that his dominion over his wallet justified trashing his dominion over a piece of land for short term profit? Will she decide that her dominion over a stretch of river and her need for farming grants her the right to draw huge amounts of water for irrigation, and dump waste to save expense of disposal?

These aren't abstract hypotheticals either, I'm sure you recognize. And I'm not saying that the plain problems these questions indicate mean that it's settled, huge environmental standards for everyone, period! I'm just trying to point out problems with relying entirely on self-interest.

*One way in which a house is a bit different than a piece of land or a river is that everyone that comes after you will have to find a piece of land to live on or near. If your dominion is careless, all of these future people will have a wrecked common inheritance to live with.

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ScottF
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I'll concede the house metaphor might not be the greatest. My intent was to call BS on the notion that conservatives "in general" are fine with trashing the environment for convenience or profit.
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Rakeesh
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In general is stretching it, yes. Many environmentalists come from an outdoorsy conservation/hunting angle historically.

But the thing is, trashing the environment for convenience or profit *is* contained explicitly in the whole dominion over mandate. In that system, the only thing that inhibits trashing the environment is a given person's circumstances and priorities. We see it all the time. Even in a system with heavy regulation, evasions of environmental laws happen all the time-for profit and convenience. Are we to assume that if we reverted totally to a dominion over angle, this would happen *less*?

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by ScottF:
I'll concede the house metaphor might not be the greatest. My intent was to call BS on the notion that conservatives "in general" are fine with trashing the environment for convenience or profit.

At the same time, they sure don't seem to want anyone (i.e. government because, who else?) stopping them from doing it.
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Elison R. Salazar
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Yeah the point is that the Conservative Political Class, i.e those who actually run and hold political office certainly do wish to raise corporate convenience in destroying the environment for profit; see the Coal and Fracking industries, the Keystone Pipeline is a perfect example. When it bursts (and its a matter of when not if) it'll destroy and poison the water tables covering something like three states for decades if not centuries.

The "average" conservative votes for them, even if pressed and if they even agree that destroying the environment is a Bad Idea they'll insist "Oh they're not actually doing that, that's just the Main stream Media bias telling lies."

Lets look in Canada, HarperGov literally destroyed thousands of documents, books, research papers, mountains of evidence and research into the environment, why? So Businesses can conduct business and not worry about having to account for environmental costs. There's no rational explanation other than the one that involves convenience for corporations.

How many times have prominant GOP politicians expressed a desire to abolish the EPA? Why? What reason is there for this? What national interest is served?

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