Conservative Emails Everyone She Knows!

Conservatives, Zombies, WhateverDo you get this? Conservatives you know put you on their mailing list and send you out every ridiculous thing that comes along? Today I got, “Bernie Sanders, the Bum Who Wants Your Money” — by those bastions of elite thought, the editors at Investor’s Business Daily. It came with the headline, “MUST READ scoop on Bernie….” It’s not what you are probably thinking: an article about how his policies would result in more wealth redistribution. No. It’s an attack on Sanders’ character, talking about how he didn’t get a “steady paycheck” until he was 40 — and you know what that was: a government paycheck! (For the record: Sanders, like many people in the years after college, had many jobs; that’s what they mean by him not having a “steady paycheck.”)

But I’m not here to respond to the article. It is idiotic — that why I’m not even linking to it. But I got the link from someone I’m in business with — a once hippy, now Tea Party Republican who is addicted to hate radio. She is convinced (despite the fact that he has less than a year left in office) that Obama is going to start a race war. Blah, blah, blah. As I’ve said many times: I don’t mind if you disagree with me, but please don’t bore me to death by repeating the same talking points I hear everywhere.

Interestingly enough, the word “pravda” (“Правда”) means “true” or “the truth.” And that is what the conservative media echo chamber has brought us: a bunch of propagandized ignoramuses who are certain that they know The Truth™.

It’s particularly bad because we have a professional relationship. She sends the email out through her business website address. It’s the same address she sends out announcements about conferences and other business related material. And given her business, I assume most of the people on the list are liberal like me. She certainly knows that I’m at least a liberal. Yet I constantly get my mail box filled with this kind of garbage — much of it conspiracy oriented.

Conservatives Are Attacking!

This is not the only such person in my life. It’s always the same: it’s always conservatives. I don’t have liberals constantly forwarding stuff to me. And you would think I would! After all, I write about it. But these conservatives are not sending stuff out to me; they are sending it out to everyone they know! That’s the main thing: liberals don’t seem to be in the habit of creating mailing lists and then thinking that their divisive opinions are something all the world needs to know about.

I think it shows the distinct immaturity of the conservative mind. I’ve especially run into this with libertarians, who believe that if I just read this one thing and had this one thought experiment, I would be a convert! What these people find, usually very starkly, is that I’ve thought about the issue in much greater depth than they have. Conservatives make the mistake of thinking that liberalism has no intellectual basis because most liberals aren’t intellectuals. That is, in fact, true. Most liberals I know have not thought through liberal policy very deeply. However, as Matt Bruenig has pointed out, just because most liberals are mistaken about why the minimum wage is a good idea, does not mean they are wrong about the fact that it is a good idea.

I believe the reason there are so many conservatives around forwarding all of this nonsense is because of hate radio and the related conservative infrastructure. People listen to Rush Limbaugh and think that they are getting educated. I’ve seen this especially with Fox News viewers who are convinced that since they watch a lot of political “news,” they are informed. This is like someone in Moscow in 1970 who read Pravda every day and thought they were well informed.

Interestingly enough, the word “pravda” (“Правда”) means “true” or “the truth.” And that is what the conservative media echo chamber has brought us: a bunch of propagandized ignoramuses who are certain that they know The Truth™. And so I get placed on email lists with links to really vile things rather than actually cool things like Henri: the Existential Cat.

Income Inequality and the Marco Rubio Tax Plan

Dividends TaxationPaul Krugman provided this fine pie chart that shows who exactly is paying taxes on long term capital gains. The reason it is important is because Marco Rubio wants to eliminate this tax. Up until now, this idea has been extreme even for Republicans. And you can see why: over half of benefits from Marco Rubio’s tax cut would go to the top 0.1% — the people in the top 1/1000th of the income distribution. And if you look at the whole of the top 1%, that’s almost 80% of where all the benefits go.

Still, I find the graph a tad bit deceptive, because people tend to assume that “everyone else” is somewhat equitable. I’m not suggesting that Krugman means to imply this. He’s making a different point anyway. I just know how non-mathematical people think about this kind of stuff. Something that Krugman has written about over the years is that inequality is kind of like a fractal. (Actually, I believe that’s my analogy, not his.) It doesn’t matter where you are in the income scale, the people above you are a lot more rich than you are. It’s such that people barely in the top 1% often think of themselves as poor because they are around people who are so much more wealthy. And so on until you get to Bill Gates, who when asked if he was rich said only, “Well, I’m certainly not middle class.” (Or something like that.)

Marco RubioThe data for this graph comes from the Tax Policy Center. And if you look at the top 5%, you get 92.3%. The top 10%? 95.4%. And the top 20% — the upper class? 97.5%. So 97.5% of Marco Rubio’s tax cut on long term capital gains would go to the upper class and only the upper class. Pretty amazing, huh?

So let’s talk about what these high incomes mean. In order to just make it into the top 10%, you would be making over $115,000 per year. To just make it into the top 1%, you need to be making more than $400,000. I can’t find data on the top 0.1%, but we are talking millions per year. So these are not people who are struggling. They are not the people who need helping and they are not the “job creators” who will start hiring if only they had just a bit more money.

But it’s worse than even that. There’s 2.5% left over for the bottom 80%. Is it shared even somewhat equally? Of course not!

The upper middle class gets most of the remaining: 1.9%. The middle class gets almost all of the rest: 0.6%. The lower-middle class get the final 0.1%. The lower class — those in the bottom 20% — get nothing at all. Of course, you can depend upon the Republicans finding some middle class person who gets all their income from long-term capital gains and dividends, and making a commercial where they talk about how much better their lives will be. Meanwhile, millions more children will go to bed each night hungry. But that won’t be mentioned.

Income inequality is a virus that is killing our democracy. And it does those who have excessive money no good. As Henry George noted long ago, “Man is the only animal whose desires increase as they are fed; the only animal that is never satisfied.” I don’t think this is a natural state, but rather the result of a civilization that has no values beyond that of commerce. And people like Marco Rubio think this is just great. The next time he mentions God, remember what he really worships.

Morning Music: Slumber Party’s I’m Not Sad

Psychedelicate - Slumber PartyToday we are going to listen to yet another band that is kinda sorta sadcore: Slumber Party. To be honest, what they sound most like to me is an all female version of the Velvet Underground — but really, with better musicianship — at least compared to the early albums. And even though Wikipedia says the band is still together, I find no real evidence of this fact. Their last album was Musik in 2006.

Thank God we are at the end of our sadcore week. I’m not saying that because the music is bad. I’ve loved all this music. But it’s frustrating. To begin with, it is, as I’ve discussed, an ill defined term. But it’s also the case that there just aren’t as many sadcore bands as I had thought. And that is itself sad. You would think there would be. There are a lot of depressed musicians out there.

The reason there probably aren’t more people doing this kind of music is because it’s a lot harder than it seems. One of the things that ties these bands together is their control of the mood of the songs. Other kinds of bands can just do whatever it is that they like. But even when American Music Club was being funny, they did it in their usual “Eeyore makes a joke” way.

Is Slumber Party Really Sadcore?

Today, we are going to listen to Slumber Party’s song “I’m Not Sad” off their 2001 album, Psychedelicate. Maybe it is more correct to call it slowcore rather than sadcore. It’s an uplifting song in a way. A relationship is over, but the guy was alright when they were together. And that’s why she’s not sad. Except that she starts the song by noting that she is sad. So it seems more one of those things where you try to convince yourself intellectually that you don’t feel the way you clearly do. It’s a beautiful song:

Women’s Suffrage and the Slow March of Progress

Women's SuffrageThis was an important day for women’s suffrage in 1918, UK women over the age of 30 got the right to vote. Even then, certain property requirements applied. It took until the end of that same year for women to be given the right to serve in parliament. But it took a whole decade for women to get voting parity with men. The Representation of the People Act 1928 allowed everyone over the age of 21 to vote. It’s nice to look back and be happy that women finally got the right to vote. But how frustrating it must have been for women of that time, even if the original Representation of the People Act 1918 was a huge victory.

This has some resonance in the Democratic primary for president. But not as much as I think people might believe. The truth is that you need the Clintons and the Sanderses. But they are not examples of these poles, because both of them are of the marginal change varieties. What we need are more radicals who say, “Change now! We’ve already waited far too long!” In other words, we need people who terrify the establishment. We need Thomas Paine and Malcolm X. The fact that Sanders terrifies the establishment is an indication of just how far our society has gone off the rails.

I can wait. I don’t like conflict and I hate violence. But my life is good. I don’t have to worry that I’ll be killed by a police officer just because I don’t do exactly what I’m told to. I don’t have to worry about much of anything at all. Given my inclinations and idiosyncracies, if I weren’t a straight white male, I’d probably be doing 25 to life in some prison somewhere.

So I respect those who are impatient. And we all should. They are critical to our development, whether it is in the fight for women’s suffrage, racial equality, or economic fairness.