Monday, February 22, 2010


So I was going to respond to my buddy Eric's comment on my post below, but I ran out of room in comments. So rather than cut my opinion short, I'm just going to make a new post. Below are my reactions to an article that Eric put together. You can read it here. This is directly speaking to Eric, so I apologize for any pronoun confusion.

Yeah, I have mixed feelings about your article. I read it when you posted it before it was "printed". I guess my biggest problem is that the sentiment as a whole neglects a lot of historical data. To clarify what I mean, you suggest some poll data as a way to show that others have similar anti-government sentiment, but in reality, that data is inherently skewed by concept.

Anytime an economy, and this is pretty much everywhere in the world, is in a downturn state, society will poll that it doesn't like the job the government is doing. These opinions aren't necessarily a reflection of even the current administration as anyone that understand how policy works would understand that in the first year of office no administration can really be blamed for that year's economy. The bail outs and stimulus were started during the Bush years and many of the economic policy of this administration has been more an adjustment to try to help those policy decisions along. I haven't been happy with every choice, but I can't deny that the decline is definitely slowed if not stopped and really our biggest problem is jobs right now, not taxes.

But in going back to this fella and his sentiment, and most specifically on the concept of no one in Washington making decisions with you in mind, I have to say, have you ever sent a letter to your Congressmen? Because I have and I've gotten responses that might not have been the response I expected, or unfortunately expected too much, but the responses always made it clear that my opinion did matter in the equation. You'd be surprised how much constituency is a factor in votes in Congress. Sometimes the harder problem is that individual politicians only want to do what their constituency polls and not necessarily what's best for the entire country. And this is not to suggest that our government is perfect or the best or even good and representational or anything like that. It's a system and it's a system that has flaws, but it isn't designed to be bad.

Personally, I've always felt that one of our problems with the way we govern in this country does have a large part to do with interests that seems superior to the average joe(think "drill baby drill" it really doesn't effect you, it affects a very few very large businesses). There are way more lobbyists and corporate sponsorship bills then is probably healthy for good clean discourse, but in a way the issue there is again a problem of attitude not so much a systematic flaw. If businesses don't want to lobby responsibly, bills won't be written well, but those businesses are run by constituents and are responsible for the jobs of more constituents, so again to see yourself as not a part of the big picture is not allowing for the effort of actually involving yourself in that discourse.

I work for a small company and every time a bill is presented that affects what we do, our President sends an email to petition our Congressmen. That's the civil and responsible way to make government change. And if you feel that's not enough you can run for public office and gain a support base of your own and make change. You can start a Political Action Committee. You can start a business and make waves through the local city boards and reflect those changes through to the state and then federal governments. The point I'm trying to make here is that no citizen of this country is powerless. That individuals like this guy feel that way is proof of a sentiment that doesn't involve the government, it involves that guy and his situation. Terrorism is a desperate form of political activism. It's also a very poor tool for getting anything done. Look at 9/11. Look at the previous WTC bombing. Look at terrorist attacks around the world. The pattern involves an oppressed minority intending to make a statement bigger than themselves to incite fear that could make change happen. But also look at how many of those attacks have been successful. The tactic itself is foolish and the result is often either more oppression or misplaced fear and excess aggression. What did 9/11 do but make people in this country fear the Islamic world that it doesn't want to understand? It didn't change our international opinion of that region. It didn't move us to act more responsibly in those areas of the world, it brought more bombs, more deaths and more instability. The participants of this type of desperation, especially in this country don't really have any good excuse, because the end doesn't justify the means.

This guy wants to claim taxes, but he also had three companies that had licenses suspended for unpaid taxes going back 20 years. Well when you don't pay your taxes, you have issues with the government, plain and simple. Those issues are resolvable and they really only involve dollars and cents. No one is being put into prison to be tortured or hung in the town square for tax evasion, but apparently to this person, putting several lives in jeopardy and even burning his own house to the ground seemed sensible? So because you're broke, or can't afford something you desire, you get to kill people? I didn't read in this manifesto about this man starving for his life, or being subjugated or prevented from living his life. These are atrocities that promote violent response. Things like segregation and enslavement, things that have happened to others in this country.

On taxes, one could argue(and this is lately the Republican spin point) that the government spends too much and that's why taxes are so high, but it seldom gets mentioned by those same politicians how much of that tax revenue buys equipment for military that really isn't necessary for the largest and strongest economic empire of the past 200 years. But just like most hypocrisy, it's based just close enough to truth that it passes for reason. It's ok to overspend on military machines but not for poor people without jobs. It's not socialist to maintain a local and foreign army that occupies sovereign nations without concern for their freedoms and laws and culture, but it is to suggest that all people should be able to visit a doctor when they have a health condition. It's backward senselessness intended to make people like this fella feel powerless. Why would you vote to change teams if you didn't feel that the one in office wasn't on your side? Why allow the atrocities of the previous government be tied with the same obstructionists that sit on that side of aisle when you can demonize the previous leader as corrupt and somehow not of the same basic ideals that you stand on a pulpit and declare today?

It's like the people that claim that climate change is BS because it snowed last weekend. You have to see the depth of history to see where you are. And where we are now isn't as terrible as it's made to be. Personally I feel there are big changes that are necessary. And allowing corporations to now be able to contribute to campaigns as if they are actual people is not one of them. Neither are many of the anti-tax and libertarian views spouted today. History is a good proving ground and none of these ideas are new. In fact sometimes I wish someone would actually look into the future and try to think something new and different. Not just read Ayn Rand's rewrite of Thus Spoke Zarathustra and suddenly feel that you've contributed more than your fair share.

And this argument is a complex one for sure. And I honestly don't intend to deny that sympathy for any human plight is undeserved. Certainly distrust of the government is a valid sentiment as is concern for how decisions are made and where you fit in the equation. I just feel that it's disingenuous to be a person who's had your own business, in success or failure, that doesn't appreciate that taxes are required to allow the arena for your business to exist in the first place. Like Glenn Beck blasting Teddy Roosevelt for believing that wealth comes with responsibility, if anything, the past 20 years should've proven this. Business requires rules, or else greed will be worse than power that corrupts. The wealthy in society need to be responsible for their fellow citizenry. Whether that is through taxable contribution or by doing business well or by maintaining fair hiring and compensation policies or contributing to charitable causes, the list goes on and on. All of these things come with tax incentive because the government knows that it also owes that business or that wealthy individual. There are no Gaults here. I don't know. I guess the larger point is that you can't feel like the little guy when you meet the demographic of the majority. And I don't mean that as a racist statement that you can't complain if you're male and white, but answer this question:

Same manifesto, same incident, same everything except this guy is black, or follows Islam, or pretty much anything but middle class white and male and I doubt you'd have written that article. Am I wrong?

Again, I think there is room for plentiful discussion here. And a lot of the ideas I'm presenting aren't intended to denigrate your opinions in any way. I'm just curious how it's possible to stand for something without considering how to solve it responsibly. It's like suicide. A person that attempts suicide really hasn't tried every option, they just don't choose to see any that exist or they don't want to take responsibility for the options that are available. Violence is a powerful tool, but it's pathetic next to strong reason, peaceable debate and nonviolent protest. Talk to Nelson Mandela about government atrocity. Read about Ghandi. These men did what they could in desperate situations and lost many many times before they ever won and I highly doubt either of them thought the best solution was senseless violence. These men are admirable because they fought adversity, they didn't just give in to base desires and say fuck all, they fought and put their own lives in the way of making real progressive change. That's true sacrifice. This guy? He's just as bad as the man who just started shooting at Fort Hood. He's a pathetic example of a man and a pathetic example of our history. If he proves anything at all, he proves that we can all make stupid choices if we fail to see our lives from the perspective of history and reality.


E.Pollarine said...

John-or Doc-whichever you want to go by.

I will continue to read this and post a reply to your post- though now I am writting about the jobs bill-

however I would like to answer one thing here-

the question of "if I would have written about the incident if it would have been carried out by an urban black man or muslim"

Yes- I would. Though I have to apologize about the above parapharsing-

My answer is a resounding-yes. Always the supporter of the under dog-

Look for that reply to come out sometime today- glad I got a response!

Anonymous said...

Some underdogs do not deserve or need support, they need a swift kick in the ass & to get off the poor me bs.. everyone has problems, life is tough.. those facts dont justify being a dick or hurting other ppl