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  1. #11
    Babylon Candle Venom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Decline View Post
    tl;dr. I'll stick to answering to the concise thread title.

    I have a problem with quite a few of the cultural values that find their imposing way to my doorstep by ways of the various agents of socialization (media, family, peer group, education, etc). First and foremost is the myth of meritocracy which enables the country at large to believe that the wealthier among us found their way to the higher-tier classes completely through their own efforts, and the poorer by a lack of effort. The flaw to this argument lies in the tremendous strength of an unmentioned variable: discrimination deeply embedded within our social institutions.

    All of the socially constructed identities (cultural identities & stereotypes such as gender roles) enable impoverishment and enrichment trends to impose themselves upon the individual in society. It is in this way that our culture has allowed us to blame the poor's woes on their own merit, or to refuse immigrants their rights as human beings. Narcissistic fixations on an ideal image or the spending of all of one's money on high-classed material goods is not considered a problem since our value system encourages upper socio-economic mobility as a definition of "success", even if it's only a faade.

    There are plenty more elaborations to be made, but I'm tired.
    the bolded part is this biggest problem with the reactionaries that are currently in power. Were the conservatives wrong to say that wealthy people are always more wealthy because they deserve it? yes.

    However, the idea of wealth redistribution makes the same mistake the other direction: assuming that no wealthy person made their money fairly. Its a ridiculous notion to try to then go "figure out" who's made their money fairly or unfairly and only take away money from the unfairly rich... assuming that all rich people made their money unfairly and taxing them all to pay for people that are assumed to have all been unfairly poor is JUST as retarded as the previous paradigm.


    Quote Originally Posted by solitarywalker
    ...
    Blue Wing very much lost credibility with me because he picked sides. Liberal/conservative republican/democrat are very much like training wheels in that they are there to help people whose views cant stand on their own.

  2. #12
    Supreme Allied Commander Take Five's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victor View Post
    American bureaucracy is truly awful. So Americans rightly avoid their bureaucracy and regard it with suspicion bordering on paranoia.

    So it is not so much that Americans don't want a socialized State, it's that they are incapable of running one.

    Whereas my country is so harsh and lacking in water and fertile land, we needed to depend on Government in order to survive. And as a consequence we have become very good at bureaucracy.

    So Americans are always disappointed to discover we are not a frontier society but rather we are a suburban bureaucracy.

    Even our Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, is the epitome of a suburban bureaucrat - that's why we elected him.

    And he has done the job for us - he has ensured we have sailed through this current economic crisis.

    Like a good bureaucrat he is dull and boring and he does the job. Kevin is heaven.
    This is not it at all really.
    Johari Nohari

    "If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared. "--Niccolo Machiavelli

  3. #13
    Senior Member iamathousandapples's Avatar
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    Zealots are the problem and will continue to exacerbate the problem. They further isolate us from the world and teach us that we are the only people we can trust. They then use this fear and paranoia to push their own hateful agenda and bring this country further and further into the brink.

  4. #14
    (☞゚∀゚)☞ The Decline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Babylon Candle View Post
    However, the idea of wealth redistribution makes the same mistake the other direction: assuming that no wealthy person made their money fairly. Its a ridiculous notion to try to then go "figure out" who's made their money fairly or unfairly and only take away money from the unfairly rich... assuming that all rich people made their money unfairly and taxing them all to pay for people that are assumed to have all been unfairly poor is JUST as retarded as the previous paradigm.
    It is assuredly a temporary cure to a holistic ailment to "redistribute" wealth through tax tiers, but essentially the taxing of the rich moreso than other classes (especially the incredibly rich) is a good step to keeping the impoverished from suffering while the system is being repaired (or not). I will not go into too much depth on the problem with wealth accumulation in the current system, but a fundamental of it comes from wealth begetting wealth, which does skew the unfairness incredibly for the impoverished. Higher-classed people can therefore accumulate wealth much more easily than their lower-classed counterparts. The poor get trapped in a cycle of impoverishment because they lack many resources (cultural and material capital) to maintain any wealth ). Most cultures don't like to witness poor people starving to death in the streets, so the notion of progressive socialized welfare for the poor is born.

    You bring up another gripe I have with U.S. culture, which is a sense of entitlement. This spans classes, though clearly if you have any empathy you could at least see why the poor would want to maintain what little resources they have. U.S. culture has imbued Americans with a sense of entitlement to whatever obvious things they have the right to, obviously starting with the Constitution and other government documents that mandate protection over individuals' civil and material rights. Clearly everyone's in agreement that this is a black-and-white positive thing, however what if this stark Libertarianism impedes in the way of progress, ie environmental protection put on the back burner because citizens feel they have the right to materials and services no matter the environmental cost? This sense of entitlement brings to mind an image of a spoiled child who's been spoonfed all its youth yet will refuse to tackle heavy work or settle for less because it feels that sort of life is less dignified.
    "Stop it, you fuck. Give him some butter."
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  5. #15
    Babylon Candle Venom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Decline View Post
    It is assuredly a temporary cure to a holistic ailment to "redistribute" wealth through tax tiers, but essentially the taxing of the rich moreso than other classes (especially the incredibly rich) is a good step to keeping the impoverished from suffering while the system is being repaired (or not). I will not go into too much depth on the problem with wealth accumulation in the current system, but a fundamental of it comes from wealth begetting wealth, which does skew the unfairness incredibly for the impoverished. Higher-classed people can therefore accumulate wealth much more easily than their lower-classed counterparts. The poor get trapped in a cycle of impoverishment because they lack many resources (cultural and material capital) to maintain any wealth ). Most cultures don't like to witness poor people starving to death in the streets, so the notion of progressive socialized welfare for the poor is born.

    You bring up another gripe I have with U.S. culture, which is a sense of entitlement. This spans classes, though clearly if you have any empathy you could at least see why the poor would want to maintain what little resources they have. U.S. culture has imbued Americans with a sense of entitlement to whatever obvious things they have the right to, obviously starting with the Constitution and other government documents that mandate protection over individuals' civil and material rights. Clearly everyone's in agreement that this is a black-and-white positive thing, however what if this stark Libertarianism impedes in the way of progress, ie environmental protection put on the back burner because citizens feel they have the right to materials and services no matter the environmental cost? This sense of entitlement brings to mind an image of a spoiled child who's been spoonfed all its youth yet will refuse to tackle heavy work or settle for less because it feels that sort of life is less dignified.
    again. you are making the SAME mistake going the OTHER direction. Yes the super rich often have a sense of entitlement to their property, opportunities and wealth (wether right or wrong). However, is it not also a sense of entitlement to demand that everyone gets free education, free healthcare, free retirement, etc.

    You would be mistaken to think that im a looney right-y. I simply think EITHER direction, someone gets unfairly treated or unfairly entitled. When you come upon a system as such, I find the best thing to do is simply leave it alone (let it lie in its regular state).

    Secondly, I find that solidarity of culture is rather important. Its almost like conservative relativism: liberal vs conservative has no real right answer, but making too great of a culture change one direction or other has the potential to be upsetting to the fabric of a culture.

    America was once a white protestant nation that shared racial, cultural, lingual and philosophic values. many of those values were inspired by the calvinist/protestant idea that "doing well" here on earth meant you were favored by God (ie, work hard and earn well = you are probably alright in Gods eyes).

    slowly these things that made america rather homogenous are disappearing. Its racially, linguistically, motivationally diverse. Can a country really be bound by utopian ideology? If the American culture you hate disappears, i fear there is nothing left to take its place...

  6. #16
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Decline View Post
    It is assuredly a temporary cure to a holistic ailment to "redistribute" wealth through tax tiers, but essentially the taxing of the rich moreso than other classes (especially the incredibly rich) is a good step to keeping the impoverished from suffering while the system is being repaired (or not). I will not go into too much depth on the problem with wealth accumulation in the current system, but a fundamental of it comes from wealth begetting wealth, which does skew the unfairness incredibly for the impoverished. Higher-classed people can therefore accumulate wealth much more easily than their lower-classed counterparts. The poor get trapped in a cycle of impoverishment because they lack many resources (cultural and material capital) to maintain any wealth ). Most cultures don't like to witness poor people starving to death in the streets, so the notion of progressive socialized welfare for the poor is born.

    You bring up another gripe I have with U.S. culture, which is a sense of entitlement. This spans classes, though clearly if you have any empathy you could at least see why the poor would want to maintain what little resources they have. U.S. culture has imbued Americans with a sense of entitlement to whatever obvious things they have the right to, obviously starting with the Constitution and other government documents that mandate protection over individuals' civil and material rights. Clearly everyone's in agreement that this is a black-and-white positive thing, however what if this stark Libertarianism impedes in the way of progress, ie environmental protection put on the back burner because citizens feel they have the right to materials and services no matter the environmental cost? This sense of entitlement brings to mind an image of a spoiled child who's been spoonfed all its youth yet will refuse to tackle heavy work or settle for less because it feels that sort of life is less dignified.

    Your understanding of libertarianism is misguided, to say the least.
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

  7. #17
    (☞゚∀゚)☞ The Decline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Babylon Candle View Post
    again. you are making the SAME mistake going the OTHER direction. Yes the super rich often have a sense of entitlement to their property, opportunities and wealth (wether right or wrong). However, is it not also a sense of entitlement to demand that everyone gets free education, free healthcare, free retirement, etc.

    You would be mistaken to think that im a looney right-y. I simply think EITHER direction, someone gets unfairly treated or unfairly entitled. When you come upon a system as such, I find the best thing to do is simply leave it alone (let it lie in its regular state).

    Secondly, I find that solidarity of culture is rather important. Its almost like conservative relativism: liberal vs conservative has no real right answer, but making too great of a culture change one direction or other has the potential to be upsetting to the fabric of a culture.

    America was once a white protestant nation that shared racial, cultural, lingual and philosophic values. many of those values were inspired by the calvinist/protestant idea that "doing well" here on earth meant you were favored by God (ie, work hard and earn well = you are probably alright in Gods eyes).

    slowly these things that made america rather homogenous are disappearing. Its racially, linguistically, motivationally diverse. Can a country really be bound by utopian ideology? If the American culture you hate disappears, i fear there is nothing left to take its place...
    Who is to say that the current system should be left alone? If you truly believe in allowing an even playing field where unfairness ends for everyone, then the embedded injustices within the system that allow certain people more opportunities than others should be abolished or reformed.

    Quote Originally Posted by pure_mercury View Post
    Your understanding of libertarianism is misguided, to say the least.
    I apologize, I meant to reference classical liberalism instead.
    "Stop it, you fuck. Give him some butter."
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  8. #18
    Senior Member chasingAJ's Avatar
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    I didn't have a chance to really read everything that's been written, I apologize but my head is going to pop...

    The "stupiding" of America was a funny in my head. We have these great catch phrases that are supposed to represent some complex and important idea and these are typically all that get passed around.

    The education system in our country is in decline. I have witnessed this over 12 years of college (long story) and now as a parent. Aptitude tests in our schools were never meant to ensure quality education, they were a business deal that gives test scoring companies an unlimited supply of new business and sends money from the government to this industry. They started in Texas (I was a kid during the initial testing phase and we had to have observers from the state come into our school to re-test when 100% of our gifted class scored 100% on the exams... yeah, I knew it was bunk then) and the link between the people pushing this agenda and the industry is fairly obvious. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to selling out school children. Ultimately, children who are socially well adapted and are willing to follow instructions to the letter are rewarded. Critical thinking is not required and children who are not well adjusted socially are shuffled around and put through crap even if they are simply not inclined to accept things at face value. Social acceptance in school is generally related to following the social norms that kids get from television/media. Advertising and trends are set in boardrooms and children do as they're "sold." The "No Child Left Behind" system encourages children to do as much as they have to and nothing more. Because the class will only progress when every child is at level, there is generally educational "socialism" where everyone stays in the middle. (another funny, don't kill me) These children graduate from public high school and public universities are legally required to accept them as students. They fully expect to receive a degree with the same level of commitment and effort as they showed in high school. Universities are ran like a business now and having a huge portion of the incoming students fail would be a horrible business move, so professors give them crutches. Some genius in New York threatened to cut funding to NYU if students could attend and receive credit without even going to class. They adopted an attendance policy and EVERY public university in the country quickly adopted one too for fear of budget cuts. Now, attendance points are given in most classes that penalize those who cut class and give college credit for just showing up. I took a class last semester that I loathed (grad student professor was not bright enough to answer my questions and we had conflict) I scored 100% on every exam and 80% on every assignment (she took off 20% because it wasn't double spaced b/c of open office/.doc/.docx issues!) and received a C for the semester because of the attendance penalty. I complained to another professor (Chemistry professor with 20+ years experience) and he ranted about the diluting of public education. We were in his office and he showed me a book (okay, threw it on the desk in disgust) that he used for his Freshman Chemistry class... the updated version of the same book is now being used for his Graduate students. The same book. Yes, really. It kills me to know that my degree will not mean as much when I graduate because those around me have done what it takes to get by. Will I graduate Magna Cum Laude? No. I've taken a stand on principle more often than was in my own best interests. I cherish my education and loathe my degree.

    I don't think that the problems in our culture are political. Fear mongering, ideological/spiritual/value based divisions and ignorance perpetuating are not limited to any political party. I think that many of our problems stem from economic inequalities and corporate greed. There is a myth that people have a greater chance of upward social mobility in the United States than anywhere else. The "rugged individualism" ideology is so much a part of American social attitudes that we believe that social programs or public policies that help other people will actually harm us, even without any further investigations. People believe in "trickle down economics" even though statistics have shown that these policies actually cause economic harm to the lower 3/4ths of the population. (that's a generous figure btw). We believe that we have to step on others to make it to the top and that hard work and sacrifice are enough to make it. We work more hours and are more productive than any other industrialized nation, but we aren't any better for it. 1 in 4 American children went to bed hungry tonight (these are old statistics, it's worse than that now). 10% of all American families receive Food Stamp benefits. Roughly 25% of all homeless families include at least 1 working adult (I believe the statistic is full-time but not sure).

    I know that we can all think of explanations or justifications for the statistics and we are all intelligent enough to understand that statistics can paint whatever picture you want but too many people are not educated enough about the corporations around them.

    WalMart is the largest employer in the nation. Many of their employees make so little that they qualify for public assistance (food, housing, medical...). Because we are unwilling to force them to pay a living wage (fear of higher prices, fewer jobs, etc.) we are subsidizing their labor force while they make HUGE corporate profits. They offer health insurance but because they pay so little, most employees cannot afford the benefits. If they can afford the benefits, they cannot use the policy because they cannot afford the co-pays and deductibles. Statistics cannot show the number of people who are insured but allow their conditions to reach a critical level and use the ER for health care because they cannot afford doctor copays. WalMart's insurance company only pays what they have to for the care and the rest is "absorbed" by the hospital in the form of higher fees. They are FAR from the only company doing these things.

    We see manufacturing jobs being shipped to other countries and we see the people around us having to work more for less pay. Why don't we do something about it? Because our media tells us a different story. We're not working hard enough. The illegal immigrants are the problem. It's because too many people are on welfare. It's because the unions wanted too much money. It's because of whatever current popular catch phrase. The people who have good jobs, decent benefits and somewhat stable lives are obviously not going to get on board with any changes. Any ideas for helping the rest of the country have come with the IDEA that they have to be at the detriment of those few who "made it." The reality is that our country is not running low on money. Our GDP is something like $14trillion. We have tent cities popping up with people who have jobs and are willing to work but we believe that there is nothing that can be done. No one on the television mentions that in the first quarter of this year we had BILLIONS in corporate profits (that's right, money made after every expense and taxes are paid). Where do we think that this money comes from? It's not magic. It's a direct result of all of this work we're doing. Maybe I'm taking a slightly Marxist view but the corporate class are obviously controlling our culture through direct control of the means of production. We may have laws in place that prevent corporations from directly manipulating the markets (uhm.. lets go with this) but laying off a few thousand employees to cut costs is nothing unusual. These corporations may be turning huge profits but they'll lay off people anyway. A few corporations get together and lay off a few hundred thousand and in a couple of months when those people are on the brink of starvation, they'll hire them back at a lower wage. Corporations actually profit from high unemployment. Let's say that you spend $400 on gadgets from company X each year. If they can get 1 employee to work for $4000 less per year, they can afford for 10 of their customers to be unemployed. (This is overly simplified but paints a picture). Maybe having stocks trade higher and unemployment increasing simultaneously isn't so mystifying after all... The ugliest part of this is that corporation X will continue to run advertisements that tell you how much you need their gadgets so when you do find work, you'll work harder (or maybe take a lower wage to work right away) so that you can buy them and "feel normal."

    I could keep typing forever but the problems with the American culture (in my opinion naturally) are directly related to "selling out." Some people believe that we can change this through reinforcing values that will be more important to people than consumption, while others believe that we can change policies that encourage consumption. We are a nation full of addicts (health care reform and taking away our Prozac is scary as hell!) and we have been fed one intoxicating thing after another while a select few were robbing and pillaging. I think that education is the answer, but that we have to find a way to introduce it like every other "drug" packaged for our masses.

    Victor- It is for this reason that I believe that psuedo-intellectualism is much better than outright intellectual apathy. We could have a debate about the merits of peanut butter but the very fact that we're debating means that we're on the right road. I am Descartes' "thinking thing," as ignorant as Socrates and as immortal as yourself. If "new age" is the drug I need to free myself from Weber's "iron cage," I'll take whatever lines you're not buying.

  9. #19
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasingAJ View Post
    Victor- It is for this reason that I believe that psuedo-intellectualism is much better than outright intellectual apathy. We could have a debate about the merits of peanut butter but the very fact that we're debating means that we're on the right road. I am Descartes' "thinking thing," as ignorant as Socrates and as immortal as yourself. If "new age" is the drug I need to free myself from Weber's "iron cage," I'll take whatever lines you're not buying.
    Bravo. A tour de force. How could I not support you?

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