First Do No Harm

Partisan Politics

Editor’s Note: This is one of the most important articles you will read at this site. We are a non profit and we cannot post our political favorites, but we can talk about politics. The health of our nation is tied up in the health of our politics and, basically, we are a very sick nation. This article should really be called, “Why I Hate Partisan Politics,” and the simple answer is: Look where it’s gotten us. Nothing’s getting done. The rich get richer. The poor get poorer. And we’re all responsible for this because we’re at each other’s throats fighting over silly issues.

We are a site dedicated to health and wellness, and our poor country, as of December 2015, is neither healthy nor well.

The purpose of democracy is to protect the masses from the rich and powerful.

Obviously, if that is true, then America is no longer a democracy. There are some recent studies showing that we’ve become a:

Plutocracy ― a government by the wealthy

Oligarchya government by a small group of people

Corporatocracya government by corporate interests

A Democracy is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. A representative democracy is one in which we vote for people who represent “our” wishes, desires, and demands. A Democratic Republic is, according to dictionary.com: a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them. [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/republic?s=t]

In a Republic, there is an unwritten rule that the Majority may not damage, destroy, or injure the minority. Or to put it a nicer way, “the individual is protected from the Majority.”

Nobody voted for this situation we are currently in, specifically, but it came about because of partisan politics.

The Marketplace

According to Wikipedia, Amitai Etzioni is a sociologist, best known for his work on socioeconomics and communitarianism. He lectures all over the world and one of his lectures goes like this.

In the Middle Ages, there were cities, towns, villages, and countrysides. There was also the “marketplace.” Everyone knew that they had to be careful in the marketplace; there were thieves, pickpockets, and murderers. It was a place of deceit. Sure, you could buy a lamp and oil for your home, but you’d probably pay more than if you had built your own. People went to the marketplace to purchase things they needed, but they went with care, usually surrounding themselves with friends and family to watch over them.

For the most part, people traded among themselves for food, clothing, and tools, but if something was needed that bartering couldn’t get, well, they had to go to the market.

Then came the growth of “market towns.” People started living nearer and nearer the market, until towns grew up around the market; the market being the city center, as it were.

Today, the market has invaded our lives. It’s all over the internet. The internet is like a restroom wall (people write anything they want) with advertising. You cannot visit a site (even ours) where there is no advertising. On some sites it’s more blatant, more in your face, but sites have to survive so they post advertising. Then there are the sites that thrive off of advertising, like those sites posting: Ten Ways To Make Her Love You More, or Celebrities Whose Plastic Surgery Went Wrong, or Actresses Who Modeled Nude Before They Became Famous. These sites spread their pages out so you have to click and click and click to get to the next and the next; all filled with tons of advertising (and many more pages you can visit). Some people make hundreds of thousands of dollars from these sites.

The market has invaded our lives. It’s on TV, it’s in our schools, and most frighteningly, it has invaded out government.

Businesses employ lobbyists to make the laws that keep the business owners rich and powerful.

The system is rigged.

Are There Real Differences Between Parties?

Political parties bend, change, and evolve. The Republican party was once liberal and the Democratic party was once conservative. What doesn’t change are the philosophies and ideologies of the party members.

Throughout history there have been two major ideologies in politics that we can label: Conservative and Liberal.

These two groups are very different, but a human being doesn’t have to be either one or the other. There are people who are liberal in their economics but are conservative over, say crime, or education. There are people conservative in their economics, but liberal in their social policies.

However, those who tend to lean mostly to one side are quite different from the opposing stance in their philosophy, approach to problems, and methods.

What Is a Conservative?

The most basic definition of a conservative is “traditional.” Conservatives believe in traditional values, traditional attitudes, and are very cautious about innovation and/or change. Religions are, typically, conservative. They hold age-old values and have age-old traditions (many of which, most adherents have long forgotten their origins). Medicine is conservative in that it balks at change and innovation. The moneyed are also conservative in that they love their wealth and power and certainly don’t want anything to change that.

Conservatives have a very low tolerance to cognitive dissonance. When hit with information contrary to a belief, it is ignored or quickly rationalized away.

Two researchers, Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler, discovered what they called the “Backfire Effect,” which showed that when presented with opposing facts, conservatives who believed otherwise ignored the facts and actually became even more convinced that their original beliefs were correct. The study can be found here: “When Corrections Fail: The Persistence of Political Misperceptions.” 

Conservatives lean toward authority and authoritarian behavior. They are the original rugged individualists who fight hard for themselves and their families. They believe in a strong ruler and laws that are unbending.

Conservatives believe that humans are basically bad and need to be controlled; need to be kept in line.

For conservatives, their outside world must conform to certain rules of order, structure, closure, certainty, consistency, simplicity, and familiarity, while continually sensitive to physical threat, danger, and anxiety over these threats and possible death and destruction. [Scientists Are Beginning to Figure Out Why Conservatives Are…Conservative]

Conservatives respond quicker (than liberals) to threatening or gross images and feel revulsion greater (than liberals). [Kevin B. Smith, PhD, Douglas Oxley, PhD, Matthew V. Hibbing, PhD, John R. Alford, PhD, and John R. Hibbing, PhD, "Disgust Sensitivity and the Neurophysiology of Left-Right Political Orientations,"  PLOS ONE, Oct. 19, 2011]

Ironically conservatives, online, spend more time looking at unpleasant images while liberals spend more time looking at pleasant images. [Differences in Conservative and Liberal Brains]

Conservatives focus on preventing negative outcomes. Additionally, conservatives learn better from negative sanctions (punishment) than from positive sanctions (praise). [Natalie J. Shook, PhD, and Russell H. Fazio, PhD, "Political Ideology, Exploration of Novel Stimuli, and Attitude Formation," Experimental Social Psychology, Apr. 3, 2009]

Conservatives are orderly and organized. When faced with confrontation or conflict, conservatives fall back on old, well-rooted responses. Conservatives like quick, low effort solutions to problems.

Conservative behaviors, such as anxiety and sensitivity to threats are evolutionarily responsible for the survival of our species. Conservatism goes back to the earliest human beings and have kept our species alive by sheer force. However, studies also show, that on average, conservatives are not as smart as liberals. [Why Liberals Are More Intelligent Than Conservatives]

You will find sites that make the exact opposite claim that conservatives are smarter (for the most part) than liberals, but these sites exist to keep up tensions between the two ideologies and keep us separate as a people.

The truth should suffice, but it hardly does. You will find liars among both conservatives and liberals. When I was growing up, it was assumed that both sides lied as much as the other, most of the time; but, it wasn’t a purposeful lie as much as it was information that was backed by bad data. However, with the advent of the neo-conservative, a study out of the nonpartisan Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University showed that Republicans lie about three times more than Democrats. Again, not all Republicans are conservative and not all Democrats are liberals.

Conservatives sleep soundly.

One new aspect to conservatives is that they dislike the idea of a middle class. In the sixties, our middle class was the largest and strongest middle class in the history of the world. From this strength came equal rights, the women’s movement, the Black Panthers, voter’s rights, gay rights, a whole bunch of hippies, and an anti-war movement.

Now conservatives aren’t entirely against equal rights, they just believe they must come slower. A strong middle class has lots of free time and fewer cares; they’ve got good jobs, a nice home, and two (or more) cars. They’re free to involve themselves in the political process.

One of the Roosevelts said that a “Necessitous man is not a free man.” If a person hasn’t got a good job, a good education, health care, and is out fighting the forces of poverty each and every day, he is not free. He is not free to get involved in politics or protest a war; he’s too busy trying to keep a roof over his head and food on the table.

The working poor could care less about elections; they want to feed their kids. Today, nearly 15 million American children go to bed hungry.

The vanishing middle class is a result of a strong conservative movement that not all conservatives support (because they happen to be middle class), but which they are supporting because of their ideology.

Take the history of unions.

Unions were created by liberals and fought against by conservatives. The reason Unions won out was because people were willing to fight and die and the American people wanted to better their lives. With unions came better wages, upward mobility, and security.

Conservatives wanted the profits to remain in the pockets of the wealthy, and they wanted the public to have a little less security because people who live in fear tend to vote conservatively. This is another historical fact.

Unions and good wages spread because people who were not in unions began saying, “Hey, they’ve got good wages and pensions. We want good wages and pensions too.” And businesses had to comply to get the best workers.

Today, because the best jobs have been shipped overseas and unions are being attacked, the masses are responding differently. “Hey, they’ve got good pay and pensions and I don’t. I want their pay and pensions cut.”

Thus the race to the bottom began in the eighties with the attacks on unions.

Most people do not know the history of the labor movement because “they” have pulled all references to it from our kids’ text books. But for some reason we all know a horror story about unions; about the bosses and the corruption. Why? Because there is a movement to keep the middle class small and weak, and so we know exactly what the people in power want us to know, and no more. And now we have a race to the bottom.

What is a Liberal?

The most basic definition of a liberal person is someone who is open to new ideas, new behaviors, and new thinking, while abandoning traditional values.

Liberals believe that humans are basically good.

Liberalism is relatively new in the evolution of humans. As the world has become more interdependent (we don’t have to rely on our personal strength to protect our family because the “system” protects our families) more liberals have been produced.

Liberals are generous and believe there is “enough” to go around. Liberals accept cognitive dissonance as a way of life and will change their beliefs to fit the new information. Facts mean something to liberals, and they acknowledge and can appreciate nuance. Liberals understand that all facts have contexts too.

Studies show that while liberals don’t react as strongly as conservatives to “gross/disgusting” images, liberals spend a lot less time, online, looking at disgusting images. Liberals tend to look at pleasant images.

Liberals enjoy thinking, deliberate reasoning, and logic, and don’t mind huge problems to work through. Liberals will often entertain more than one solution to any problem. [http://2012election.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=004818]

Liberals are less anxious about the future and more tolerant to uncertainty than conservatives.

Liberals, besides being open-minded, are also creative. Faced with a crisis, liberals are more likely to choose new solutions given new information, rather than falling back on old solutions that worked in the past.

Liberals do not sleep soundly, and oftentimes have bizarre and weird dreams.

Further Reading on Liberals/Conservatives:

Editor’s Note: I have tried to find non biased, non-partisan sites here, or at least sites that point to non-biased studies.

Differences in Conservative and Liberal Brains

The Backfire Effect

Unconscious Reactions Separate Liberals and Conservatives

Scientists Are Beginning to Figure Out Why Conservatives Are…Conservative

Psychologists Discover the Striking Difference Between Conservative and Liberal Brains

Conservatives and Liberals Smell Different

Conservatives Big on Fear

Conservatives Are Happier than Liberals 

Conservatives Have More Self Control

Conservatives Distrust Media More than Liberals

Why Liberals Are More Intelligent than Conservatives

Both Liberals and Conservatives Can Have Science Bias, Says New Study

Some Have Left the Pack

Not all liberals are all that liberal. When President Obama was running for office, conservatives labeled him “the most liberal” etc etc etc, and still call him a commie and a socialist. Objective, thinking people laugh at this, because he was not all that liberal to begin with. Sure, as a student at Harvard he was very liberal, but as people grow older, their ideas begin to change. For the most part, liberals turn more conservative as they age.

Today Obama has made some very centrist choices, from the TPP to drilling in the Arctic to drone attacks. Even before he ran for the presidency, he voted against sanctioning and punishing communications companies that were illegally collecting data and monitoring people’s telephone calls. In other words, he voted with the conservatives on this one.

As for Conservatives, many in the Republican party have expressed concern that their party is no longer what it used to be.

Ben Bernanke, in his memoir, The Courage To Act says: "The Republican Party Left Me"

Conservatives are supposed to be conservationists; well, at least they started out that way. America’s first major conservationist was Teddy Roosevelt.

Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

He created more federal parks than any previous president in order to preserve this land for our posterity.

To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.  ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Today people who call themselves conservatives are selling off the rights to these lands. Like Bernanke, many feel that their party is no longer conservative, but has become something quite different.

But Theodore Roosevelt was a true conservative and wanted to conserve our beautiful lands. While he was in office, he signed legislation that created five new national parks. One of my favorite quotations of his was when he went to visit the Grand Canyon and said, “Golly, what a gully!”

Goldwater believed that government should stay out of the bedroom; that people in the military should shoot straight, not “be” straight. Conservatives also felt that people who made the most owed the most back to society. Eisenhower taxed wealth upwards of 90%. Even Ronald Reagan raised taxes more than he cut them. However, he did cut them below 50% which disincentivizes business owners to reinvest in their businesses. Cutting taxes that much is, historically, not a conservative policy, but has since the eighties become one of their basic beliefs; that all taxes are theft. This is a very modern neo-conservative belief.

This type of thing is not traditionally conservative. Theodor Roosevelt believed that all the people should be prosperous; that prosperity should be spread out and not centralized in a few pockets.

We should not forget that it will be just as important to our descendants to be prosperous in their time as it is to us to be prosperous in our time. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

And finally we arrive at: spending.

For years conservatives have continually attacked liberals with the cry, “Tax & Spend!” However, today people who call themselves conservatives are spending more than their liberal counterparts ever did.

Take a look at these figures.

The following figures are from the Office of Management and Budget, representing how much the national debt rose under different presidents since Jimmy Carter:

Carter 42%

Reagan 189%

GHWBush 55%

Clinton 36%

GWBush 89%

In my lifetime, Conservatives have gone from being fiscally conservative to being the really big spenders, and their spending supports a huge military and corporate welfare. We are told we need this huge military for our security, but that money is a big gift to the wealthy, and, like Jefferson who wasn’t fond of a standing army, Eisenhower spoke out against the "military-industrial complex"  in his farewell address:

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense. We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security alone more than the net income of all United States corporations.

Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

In my lifetime, Conservatives have become less conservative, and more authoritarian and tyrannical. And bigotry is not a traditional conservative ideology, but many bigots seem to call themselves conservatives.

This is not the conservatism I grew up with.

Let me illustrate this by giving you Eisenhower’s 1956 platform. Eisenhower was what many refer to as the last great conservative.

We have citizens who work full time jobs who live in poverty. This is absolutely contrary to everything America has stood for since the New Deal.

Yet, there are those who call themselves conservative who tell us that if you are not rich, it’s your own damn fault. If you are poor, it’s your own damn fault.

People are not poor because they choose to be poor or because they don’t work hard. People are poor because their employer doesn’t pay them a living wage.

A friend of mine, a comedian, once said (and it’s been quoted and misquoted a million time since): "Rich people pay news people to convince average people that poor people are the problem."

If you feel the problem with America is all those poor people getting “free stuff,” then those rich people have spent their money wisely and they’ve convinced you to go after the wrong people.

When the minimum wage was established, it was intended to be a “living wage.” It no longer is a living wage. People need society’s “safety net” just to feed their families, and yet there are people calling themselves conservatives who want to take away food stamps and allow people to starve.

And there are people who believe that cutting off food stamps is good for the economy just like during the last half of the Clinton administration, congress determined that reforming welfare would save lots of money and help the economy.

Well, they definitely reformed welfare and Clinton definitely signed the bill and do you know what happened?

When George W Bush came into office, he inherited a recession. Liberals everywhere claimed this was a lie.

However, non-partisan economists and the Office of Management and Budget both came out and said that the recession was real.

It was real and it was caused by our cutting welfare and removing billions of dollars from circulation.

There are certain laws we’ve established and confirmed in the past thirty years and they look like this:

  • Trickle Down Does Not Work; giving money to the wealthy (corporate welfare) does not stimulate the economy.
  • Giving money to the poor does stimulate the economy because they have to spend it to survive.
  • Giving money to the poor does NOT make them dependent on the government.
  • Giving money to the rich (corporate welfare) does make them dependent on the government.

There will be people who’ve stumbled across this essay who are right this minute violently disagreeing with the above.

Here is something I’ve published before and I’ll gladly publish again:

Action                                                       Economic Activity Generated

High “Bang for the Buck”

Temporarily increase food stamps

$1.73

   Extend unemployment benefits

$1.64

   Provide general aid to state governments

$1.36

 

 

Lower “Bang for the Buck”

 

   Extend Alternative Minimum Tax patch

$0.48

   Make dividend and capital gains tax cuts permanent

$0.37

   Cut corporate tax rate

$0.30

   Make Bush income tax cuts permanent

$0.29

From testimony by economist, Mark M. Zandi (from Moody’s Economy dot com) before congress.

The simple rule is, welfare (or money to the poor and working poor) stimulates the economy, while corporate welfare depresses the economy.

But the poor have such crappy lobbyists. And as John Steinbeck, Nobel Prize winning novelist has said: "Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires."


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So let us all take this in one more time.

A strong economy with a strong middle class was a classical conservative value; Eisenhower and Teddy Roosevelt were classical conservative presidents.

Today, many conservatives I’ve admired are walking away from their party. There is a new conservative movement, and the term for it comes from “New Conservative” and is: Neoconservative.

What is most interesting about the left and right is that at the “extremes,” both are totalitarian. Both want to control everything.

It’s much like the battle between Capitalism and Socialism. Neither one of these, if put in total control, ends nicely. They both lead to a huge income inequality gap with a handful of very rich elite and the masses living in near poverty. They both distribute income, but upwards. This is one reason non-partisan economists have recommended a mixture of economic policies are the healthiest. Even the father of Capitalism, a staunch conservative, said that Capitalism had to be regulated or, because of greed, the system would be corrupted, and only a handful would thrive while others barely survive.

The Battle Between Liberals & Conservatives

Everyone jokes about “the other.” Above, we learned that liberals are more generous than conservatives, and conservatives joke: “Sure they are. Generous with other people’s money.”

I get a newspaper called the Funny Times in which Dave Barry always has a column. While researching the difference between conservatives and republicans, I went searching for something he said and found this:

To paraphrase humor columnist Dave Barry, Republicans think of Democrats as godless, unpatriotic, Volvo-driving, France-loving, elitist latte guzzlers, whereas Democrats dismiss Republicans as ignorant, NASCAR-obsessed, gun-fondling religious fanatics.

Humor has, often enough at its foundation, a bit of truth. Liberals and conservatives are humans and humans are funny.

But funny or not, we are not supposed to be at each other’s throats. When I came into this world, both sides of the aisles worked together to solve problems. No matter who got elected, JFK or Nixon, the first day of congress, both sides rolled up their sleeves and went to work.

However, there is a false flag operation taking place every day in America that is killing democracy. It makes the rich richer. It makes all of us less human, less humane, and even takes food out of our mouths.

This False Flag is the continual battle between the LEFT and the RIGHT. This is a false separation, but heavily fortified for the purpose of bolstering up a ruling class while voters actually think they are battling for their own self interests.

Most would not call this a False Flag, but let me show you how this has worked in the past.

When I was in the third grade, I went to a Catholic school. The cold war was in its infancy and to bolster it, teachers were given lots of anti-communist propaganda to pass out to influence our susceptible and malleable minds. One thin, red magazine had such an horrendous picture on the cover that it is still etched in my mind to this day 58 years later. The cover was bright red; the communist hammer and sickle prominent with a large, black and white photograph of a firing squad in the middle. The picture was taken just a millisecond after the shots had been fired; the bodies of the victims writhing in pain, their eyes wide open in terror. The silent screaming on that page haunted my sleep for weeks. (The irony of this is that the Catholic Church, the one in which my third grade nun had lived most of her adult life, was a communist organization. She did not own the clothing she wore daily or even the shoes on her feet.)

Communism was something to be feared greatly. It would take away all our possessions; our homes, our cars; it would make us work endless hours for meager wages; it would empty our savings; we’d never have enough to take that vacation or build that dream house. We’d never be able to climb up the ladder of success. We’d be just a paycheck away from bankruptcy.

Now please think about the above paragraph. Read it again.

Then consider where we are today. The number of people who’ve been dispossessed of their homes, their pensions, their cars, their jobs, who today are working endlessly for meager wages, just a paycheck away from bankruptcy. Upward mobility is gone. It moved overseas. No time for a vacation. No dream house. An accident or injury could destroy us. Today (according to Pew Research) the average household could not come up with $400.00 if it needed to.

Do you see what has happened?

While we were busy battling the forces of communism, capitalism took everything we were told communism would take from us.

And it’s not necessarily because we fell asleep. Sure, many of us did fall asleep, but this was all very carefully planned.

Poverty is not an accident. Under LBJ, the War on Poverty took poverty levels to the lowest in our history.

Poverty is a blight that is self-inflicted upon a society.

The Cold War Was a False Flag Operation

It was intended to keep us worried about commies while capitalists picked our pockets.

And the battle between the Left and the Right is also a false flag operation. It’s intended to keep the people battling with each other while a handful of rich (oligarchy) took absolute control of everything.

While left and right are battling it out on Twitter, nobody notices that the lobbyists are writing our laws.

And when we fight among ourselves we don’t have time to think about those things we have in common.

Take Citizens United: The law of the land that allows unlimited funding of elections by corporations (even foreign corporations).

The last poll I saw on Citizens United was that 65% of Americans wanted that decision reversed (by a number of ways, including an amendment to the constitution).

That’s a pretty hefty majority in this country. You’ll find nearly the same numbers in favor of taking all money out of politics. And this comes from people on both the left and right sides of the fence.

So you see, the rich and powerful want us to fight each other rather than get together and take money out of politics.

When you take money out of politics, the rich no longer rule.

And you won’t hear the media complain about money in politics because it’s the media that eventually rakes in those billions of dollars in politics.

How do they do it? How do those with power keep getting the people to vote against their own self interests? Let’s face it. Most Americans want health care. And by most, this is well over 80%, yet the House, which is supposed to represent that 80% keeps pulling up these crazy, symbolic votes against OBAMACARE that do nothing but waste our money.

How the hell did these people get elected? How did they ever get into a position where they can waste our taxes and accomplish nothing while our jobs are being shipped overseas with the only jobs left here being low paying jobs?

How did they get our pensions? Did anyone ever vote to have their pension stripped from them? We’ve voted to have others stripped of their pensions. Many voted for Gov Walker in Wisconsin so that he could destroy unions. But did they know that when they were voting for Walker to destroy the unions that Walker was also destroying their own jobs, their own pensions, their own livings?

This is like the so-called "frivolous lawsuit movement." People are told about frivolous lawsuits using up our tax money and wasting time in courts, so they create a referendum that people vote on and, poof, frivolous lawsuits are a thing of the past. Then one of the voters loses an arm at work and goes to court. He wins and is awarded $30,000.00. He gets angry and says his arm is worth more than that and that's when he learns the he voted to lower all the court awards. He says, "But I voted against 'frivolous lawsuits.'" No...he voted to let business run roughshod over employees and leave them stranded should they get injured on the job. He voted to make sure businesses can get away with murder.

Identity Issues

How did these people who do nothing for the voters ever get into office? Identity issues is how they got there.

Some have called these fringe issues. However, the best term is identity issues and there’s a bit of psychology involved, so pay attention.

You see, when a person identifies with an issue, that person invests his/her ego into that issue. And when someone argues against that issue, the person invested feels that s/he is being attacked personally.

This is a very, very important concept that we all must grasp if we are going to ever break the hold of partisan politics on us.

What are the identity issues?

Abortion, education, taxes, guns, terrorism, homosexual marriage, and Islamophobia are the bulk, with the big three being, “guns, God, and gays.”

Abortion has become a God issue, though if we study the major religions, we’ll learn that the idea that life begins at conception is a very modern idea and not found in the early religious writings (like the Bible).

During the time of Jesus, life began with the first breath, or the “breath of life.” The word for breath is the same word for soul, because with the first breath, one breathed in the soul, as with the last breath, they breathe it out.

Hating Muslims is the latest issue to bring like minds (of little intelligence) together. I would like every person screaming about the Muslim problem, for just one day, to substitute the word Jew and record every screed of that day. Then play it back and try to tell yourself that those are not Nazi screeds.

Lumping all Muslims together with terrorists would be like lumping all Christians together with Tim McVeigh, Dylan Roof, and Robert Dear.

Here is something I published in an old newsletter. This is what happens when an identity issue is attacked:

Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that triggers a protective state when we believe our thoughts have to be protected from others. One who is attached to a belief system who comes up against arguments contrary to that belief system experiences a rush of “fight or flight” chemicals such as adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol, normally associated with survival. In this defensive state, the primitive part of the brain interferes with rational thinking and the limbic system knocks out most of the working memory, physically causing narrow mindedness. 

Yes, we become “physically” narrow minded. And in a narrow minded state we will fight for what we feel is right rather than actually think about what is right. We’ll vote for that person who will stand up to our enemies and fight for me, my person, my issue.

The problem is, the person you vote for might or might not actually fight for you once elected. S/He promised to. S/He made a big deal of your issue. But whether or not s/he will actually do something, well…sometimes they put that off.

If they were to fix your issue, 100%, then why would you vote for them next election?

We know that politicians use the identity issues to get into office.

That politician who hates seeing gay people get married as much as you do gets into office on the gay issue, and then changes the banking laws that wipe out your pensions, repossess your home, and send your jobs overseas.

You voted for ONE issue only, but your elected official had a lot of issues to take care of because s/he has to pay back the wealthy who gave her/him the money to get elected.

Do you see what’s happening here?

De Toqueville once said that the basis of most political friendships is a common hatred.

Quite simply, for most, it’s not what we love that brings us together politically, it’s what we hate. And when we put our being into that hatred, nothing else matters.

People who focus solely on the 2nd amendment and their “right” to carry arms are very protective of that right and vote only for someone who promises to protect that right; and while the voter is so focused on protecting that right, the person he voted for is stealing his social security, robbing his pension, and shipping his job overseas.

Sadly, few of these voters ever realize what is going on because their entire being is invested in protecting their guns.

And politicians know this. The NRA knows this. And the whole gun industry knows this. Every time the NRA published: Obama’s coming for your guns, gun sales went through the roof. Profits were made. And yet, let me show you the room in which President Obama stores all the guns he’s confiscated.

This is why I despise partisan politics. The bad guys play dirty, and they seem to be winning. Because of identity issues, gerrymandering, and voter suppression, we have lost our democracy. Today, we elect representatives who listen to lobbyists who design our laws.

They were supposed to be listening to us.

One Last Partisan Issue: The Liberal Media

The hue and cry about the liberal media began in the late sixties. There is a great essay explaining all this here: The Left's Media Miscalculation.

I will attempt to sum it up briefly. We’ll start by quoting the essay:

Conservatives felt out-muscled on a wide range of public-policy fronts, blaming the media not only for the twin debacles of Watergate and Vietnam but also for contributing to the Right's defeat on issues such as civil rights and the environment.

Conservatives cried endlessly about the liberal media, even though, at the time, the media got it right. The people wanted Nixon out of office, the war ended, the environment cleaned up, and civil rights. The people got what they wanted.

Battered, the right went to work gaining control of the media, while the left went to work focusing on grassroots movements.

Many conservatives felt that there were no conservative voices out there, and thus conservative talk radio started up and soon conservatives found they could actually profit from professing their views. Conservative talk because big business.

Then, while that was going on, businesses started gathering up stations, one station at a time, and soon they had acquired over 90% of the media.

All the while they cried out about the “liberal media,” even though that liberal media was rapidly vanishing.

This is your consolidated media. These are huge corporations, and corporations tend to be very conservative. Many conservatives still complain about the liberal media today, even though it hardly exists. So if you think the media is liberal, that simply means the media is not as conservative as you are.

Populism

When we drop the labels of "I’m a liberal and you’re a conservative," or "he’s a liberal and I’m a conservative," we oftentimes find that we stand on the same side of many issues.

Always be aware that those with the real power (the moneyed), want the battle between liberals and conservatives to rage on, because that way, the people will never realize that the real struggle is The People v The Money, or the 99% v 1%.

When we start to fight back, they call it a “class war.” They didn’t call it a class war when Ronald Reagan fired off the first volley; when “trickle down” became our salient economic theory; when wages began to stagnate and the gap between the rich and the poor began to widen. Even George H W Bush called it "Voodoo Economics." But none dare call it a class war.

The rich and powerful tell us today we have to work harder, that we have to be more productive. They tell us that hard work and higher productivity will get us ahead.

But that is a lie because the simple fact is: Productivity in America has never dropped off since the eighties. It’s always continued to grow while those providing the productivity (the workers), earned less and less, performing more and more work.

Trickle Down Economics:

  1. was the start of our current class war

  2. redistributed wealth upwards

  3. stagnated wages

  4. shipped jobs overseas

  5. created the wealth gap we have today

  6. has never, ever been shown to help the middle class

In a recent poll (A New York Times/CBS News Poll on Income Inequality and Workers’ Rights), 60% of Americans feel we have to do something about income inequality.

Though income inequality is a “populist” issue, it is not as popular as the movement to overturn Citizens United.

Income inequality finds its roots in an identity issue. And that issue is the first issue I brought up in this paper: The Battle Against COMMUNISM.

People attached to this identity issue see all the "isms" as one and the same, and all are bad, bad, bad. They use terms like Leftists, Socialism, Marxism, etc, and to that person they are all the same, and no contrary information (such as actual facts) can make a difference.

For example, take Social Democracy, or Democratic Socialism. To the identity voter this is the same as communism. And even though today’s Capitalism (the worst form of socialism there is, where we privatize profits and socialize costs and loss) is picking their pockets, moving their jobs overseas, and stealing their pensions, these voters hate everything attached to “socialism.”

It’s an irrational hatred that is fed by the wealthy. The wealthy want to continue ripping off the public while being protected by these identity voters who are willing to kill to keep the wealthy even wealthier.

Democratic Socialism is quite simple. It’s a philosophy that our taxes should pay for our health care, care for the commons (prisons, schools, parks, hospitals, and the environment), and take care of the people. In a country where they have democratic socialism, children do not go to bed hungry. In a country where they have democratic socialism, the government is the employer of last resort. If a person cannot find a job in the private sector, that person will be employed by the government to care for the commons.

The arguments against this can be distilled to: this will cause a dependency on the government, and people will get “free stuff.”

As George Carlin put it: “Conservatives say if you don't give the rich more money, they will lose their incentive to invest. As for the poor, they tell us they've lost all incentive because we've given them too much money.”

And since this is an identity issue, contrary facts do not matter. In countries with democratic socialism, they do not see people getting lazy and becoming dependent on the government and, a plain and simple fact is that people live better quality lives. But you can’t tell that to an identity voter.

In America we have a very, very strange condition. Someone who has a little more than someone else looks down upon those who have less. I’ve got mine; screw you.

And now for some internet memes:


I find this ironic since as far as we know, the one thing Jesus was reported to have said most often was to care for the poor.


We can fix our problems only when we stop blaming the victims.

Let me digress here and tell you a little bit about Cognitive Dissonance.

There is a belief fostered among Americans that we are inherently better human beings that all those "others." After we were attacked and 3,000 of "ours" killed, it was this belief that allowed us to invade a nation that had nothing to do with the attack and was no threat to us at all, killing a million people, injuring still more, displacing 4 million, and leaving 4-5 million orphans behind, with that entire section of the globe in turmoil expecting even more death and destruction in their future.

However, and here is where the Cognitive Dissonance comes in, back home, other than going to war for "we who are inherently more valuable that those others," we do absolutely nothing for the masses. In fact, we do less than nothing. We don't have universal health care, we don't pay living wages, we incarcerate more than any nation in the world, we cut education, poison the water, air, earth, and food supply, and continue driving this bus right off the cliff while our scientists tell us, "Hey, how about putting on a little brake there?"

Now that is some Cognitive Dissonance.

Imagine a USA in which critical thinking is practiced.

If we look back on those standardized tests we knew as “No Child Left Behind,” every child was left behind because those tests did not teach our children how to think; they taught them what to think.

As someone who has taught school, knowing things is secondary to knowing how to think clearly and critically.

Imagine a USA in which critical thinking is practiced.

What Are The Populist Issues?

Populist issues are those that have more than 50% of the people demanding.

If 90% of people want background checks before someone can purchase a gun, then that is a populist issue.

If congress does nothing and ignores that 90%, that’s one sign we no longer have a Democratic Republic.

And we lost our democratic republic by people voting for identity issues. If someone hates equal marriage or abortion or thinks we’re going to take his guns away, he voted for his particular issue and elected a representative who went to Washington DC to ignore the will of the people.

This is why I hate partisan politics. In the end, the will of the people is not carried out. We end up fighting over petty issues, nothing gets done, and the wealthy are the only ones who benefit.

We have a saying here in Minnesota: If nothing changes, nothing changes.

Populism in the US wants to “take back the government,” but not from the leaders and representatives; from the corporate hold on it. Its banner proclaims: Making government work for the people, not the powerful.

So, here are some populist issues. If we are ever going to get this country to work properly, these are some of the issues we must demand of our candidates.

Let’s face it: why allow someone to get elected who will not work for the people?

Gun Reform: Let’s face it, doing nothing is not working. There are many, many things we can do to bring down gun deaths in this country. We can treat guns like cars: license them, demand training, and demand they’re insured. Personally, I’d like to see specific psychological testing that would weed out those people who are most likely to walk into a theater and shoot up everyone.

Citizens United: People on both sides of the political spectrum think that this decision was the worst decision our Supreme Court has ever made. But you won’t hear about this one much because the media is making billions and billions of dollars. They don’t want to kill their goose that lays golden eggs. A related issue is just getting all money out of politics. Why should the wealthy have a louder voice than the people?

The Environment and Climate Change: The people want clean air, clean water, and clean food. The people want something done about climate change. The science is no longer questioned; it is accepted. But business wants business as usual. Even very ignorant people can figure out that if we clean up our environment and lower the CO2 levels, the benefits to humanity are worth the effort.

Rebuilding our Infrastructure: When Ronald Reagan was elected president, we were already 20 years behind schedule for repairing our infrastructure. Bridges are collapsing and engineers are warning us of even more problems. We are told we cannot afford this, yet we cannot afford not to do this. Everyone needs the infrastructure, and business/commerce needs it even more.

Jobs: Politicians talk talk talk about jobs. Yet, they make it easier and easier for businesses to send jobs overseas. One solution is creating Worker Co-ops; businesses that give workers a stake in the operation. Studies show that productivity goes up and so does job satisfaction. Instead of tax breaks for those who ship jobs overseas, tax those and give the tax breaks to businesses with worker co-ops.

Unions: The thing about unions is we all know one horrible union story. The things we don’t know about unions could fill volumes. One reason we know so little about unions is they’ve been stripped from our history texts. High school kids do not even know that people died for a 40 hour work week. Unions built the strongest middle class in the world. Even businesses that did not have unions had to compete with the unions because the people saw that unions had better wages, better health care, and pensions. They said, “Hey, they’ve got those benefits. We want them.” Today, for some crazy reason, we hear: “Hey they’ve got benefits I don’t have. Take them away from them!” This facilitates the race to the bottom. One feels better as long as there are people who have less than them. It’s a sickness.

Living Wages: When the minimum wage was established, it was a living wage. If a person doesn’t make a living wage, they fall back on the country’s safety net, which you and I pay for. Workers at Walmart, MacDonald’s, Burger King, etc, depend on our tax dollars to survive. They cost the taxpayers billions and billions of dollars. And this is the worst form of socialism, because we, the tax payers, are paying employees what their employers are not paying them; so the businesses reap the profits and we pay the costs. This is one thing that upwards of 80% of Americans want to see fixed. They want a minimum wage that is a living wage.

Pay Equality for Women: Personally, I cannot believe we have to fight for this. We are a country based upon equality, yet it took women 143 years to get the right to vote in America and yet still, they do not have a right to equal pay for equal work. This is shameful.

Affordable College: Did you know that there was a time that college sports brought in enough money to colleges to keep student costs down? Our taxes helped too. And was this good for America? Of course. Colleges produce our workforce of the future: teachers, executives, leaders, engineers, leaders in the world of technology. Today, when a young people go into debt for the rest of their lives to get a college education, they become almost “indentured servants” to businesses. They have no say in their work, they can’t afford to quit and find a better job; they are basically wage slaves. Affordable college is as American as apple pie. It was around since our beginning. Here’s a fun little fact: President Obama paid off his student loans while he was running for president the first time.

Take Back Wall Street: Do you know what the difference is between a banker and a pirate? A pirate doesn’t get to keep his booty when he sinks his own ship. The people on Wall Street broke laws and sunk their own ships and not only did they get to keep all the money they stole, we gave them even more to keep their ships afloat. Banking has to be for the people, not for the wealthy. In Iceland, they jailed their bankers. In America, only Bernie Madoff went to prison, but that was because he robbed from the rich while bankers robbed from the poor. Again, this is another example of the poor having some really bad lobbyists.

Trade Policies: The problem in the past, whether liberal or conservative, is that trade policies always seemed to favor businesses and put greater burdens on the workers. And this was done by calling them “trade agreements” when in fact, they are treaties. Treaty discussions must be conducted “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” Trade agreements have become “executive agreements,” and need no input from the senate, no vote. NAFTA and CAFTA were horrible for American workers. And this new one, known by some of us as SHAFTA (TPP) is another that will put the “shaft” to workers. We need trade policies that favor the people and not the business elite.

Universal Health Care: In most nations, it’s just assumed that health care is a right, not a privilege. Every time a politician points to another country that does health care better than we do, some other politician points out the flaws and how UnAmerican it is to do something they do. Well, okay, we are America. We can look at all the “better” systems and create our own that is better than all of them. Right? Well, let us roll up our sleeves and do that.

Care for the Vulnerable in Our Society: From Jesus to Gandhi we’ve been told we will be judged by how we treat the weakest among us. There is a horrid movement in this country to shame the poor and blame the poor for being poor. It’s time to care for the poor, the handicapped, and the elderly. We all know this is right. Now we just have to do it. We have to strengthen the safety net. Make sure Social Security and Medicare are both sound. This is the least we can do as human beings and this is a very critical populist issue. The people want this because anyone one of us could need that safety net without a moment’s notice. And all of us will be seniors some day.

Peace: Everyone wants peace, and they’re always willing to go to war to get it. That seems to be how it works. We’re always fighting for peace. But the simple fact is this: war causes endless war; if you want peace, you have to stop warring. There is a wonderful little book online called War is a Racket by an American war hero, General Smedley Butler. No one despises war more than a veteran and I am a veteran. I’m tired of old men creating new wars for young men to die in. Our invasion of Iraq was the biggest blunder in America’s history. Everything that is wrong with the Middle East today is a result of our meddling. There had never been a car bomb in Iraq in its history till we invaded. ISIS would not exist were it not for our invasion. And ISIS’s main goal is to prove to the Muslim world that we in the West are at war with Islam. Thus, every time we kill a single innocent Muslim in our attacks, that is the proof they need. Listening to candidates boast how tough they are and how they’re going to wipe out ISIS makes my blood boil. We need not play into their hands. Attacking Iraq played right into the hands of Bin Laden. Let’s not be stupid again. If you want peace, then stop warring. It’s that simple.

The End to Slavery

I’m sure many of you reading this just said to yourselves, “Wait, what?”

Whether you are aware of it or not, slavery is alive and thriving in the world, and ending it is a populist issue that must be talked about in length because the average person just doesn’t realize how universal this problem is today.

Just recently I read in the news about Walmart, Red Lobster and a few other businesses selling peeled shrimp that was peeled by slaves.

From the reports:

The companies that ended up being the face of slave-produced shrimp say they were not aware of the working conditions involved in their shrimp processing chain, and that they abhor the forced-labor practices uncovered by Associated Press. Some claim to have taken steps to remedy their tainted supply chains. [Report]pan>

Do you really think these corporations didn’t know something “fishy” was going on? These companies choose their sources looking for the “cheapest” suppliers. With the costs so low, are you going to tell me that nobody suspected that slavery was being used?

Apparently the heads of the chocolate industry know all about children being sold into slavery to work chocolate plantations and have done little to stop it beyond tossing the media a few pithy words. Profits are quite high when costs are so low.

Here are the companies known to use slave-produced chocolate:

  • M&M Mars
  • HerHershey
  • Kraft:(including Cadbury, Nabisco, Toblerone)
  • Nestlé
  • General Mills (including Häagen Dazs)
  • Lindt and Sprungli (including Ghirardelli)
  • Unilever (including Breyer’s Ice Cream)
  • Godivai>

And there are others.

Now here’s a fun fact: owning a slave today, as they were owned in the early 1800s in the South, would cost more than paying minimum wage.

Have you got that? It’s cheaper to pay minimum wage today than it would be to own slaves.

You see, owning slaves means that you have to house them, feed them, clothe them, provide them transportation, and you have to give them medical care. Slaves are an investment. You have to keep them healthy to keep them productive.

Today, just pay lousy wages. If you find a person who hates his job and just isn’t productive enough, fire him and hire someone else. People who need a job will take a job at crappy wages.

Now get this: if it’s immoral to own slaves, it is even more immoral to pay less than living wages.

Yet, slavery goes on and on and on and because some people somewhere are reaping huge profits.

We must stop slavery everywhere, from sweatshops to free prison labor. There’s a saying: You get what you pay for. Look around. The people have nothing. We’ve paid for nothing.

We must end slavery and human trafficking.

The Future Starts Today

You can draw a line in the sand and proclaim you’re a liberal or conservative and that you are at war with the enemy (a liberal or a conservative) or you can admit that, in the end, you’re just a human being, trying to make it through the day and get home to your family. You can acknowledge that everyone is just like you. You can admit that we’re all in this together and that it’s the moneyed oligarchy that is trying to keep us at each other’s throats because they know that revolution, real revolution, ends on a scaffold at the guillotine where their throats are at stake.

You can help them by believing that other human beings are your enemies. You can help them by focusing on their “fringe” issues, those “identity” issues that separate us all.

Or you can fight back by supporting issues that we all want and need; issues that will make us all prosperous. Issues that bring us together rather than tear us asunder.

We have another saying here in Minnesota: When everyone prospers, everyone prospers.

Also, a rising tide raises all boats.

This is a country I would love to be proud of again. Because let’s face it: what do we all want as human beings? Health, happiness, a good job, family, and peace of mind.

If you think about that, it should not be so damn hard to get all that. Unless you’re a puppet on a string and you think you need that new car, a 60 inch HDTV, and the latest fashions.

If we all focus on what’s real and possible, what makes us truly content, what makes us human and what makes us humane, and what makes others truly content, then we have to focus on populist issues. We have to put down our grudges and prejudices and focus on what we all want and need. We have to work together realizing that our neighbors are not our enemies.

And this will change our futures. Not overnight, but soon. Very soon.


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