Patricia Fry (via onlinecounsellingcollege)
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Knowledge is power.
On Labor Day, families gather, politicians pay tribute to values of hard work, and some workers even get an extra day off. But this Labor Day arrives with working families struggling to stay afloat. Incomes haven’t gone up in the twenty-first century. Inequality reaches new extremes. Corporate profits are reaping a record portion of the nation’s income while worker wages wallow at record lows. Three-fourths of Americans fear their children will fair less well than they have. This Labor Day, we should do more than celebrate workers – we should understand how vital reviving worker unions is to rebuilding a broad middle class.
The raging debate on inequality and its remedies often omits discussion of unions. Inequality is blamed on globalization and technology that have transformed our workforce. Remedies focus on better education and more training, with liberals supporting fair taxes to help pay the freight.
But this leaves power and politics out of the equation. Fact is Americans are better educated than ever, with high school and college graduation rates at record levels. Technological change was as rapid when America was building the middle class as it is now. Globalization isn’t an act of nature; it is a set of trade, tax and corporate policies that benefit some and injure others. Our extreme inequality and our sinking middle class are the product of political choices and political power.
Few movements in the United States today harbor stranger political ideas than the self-proclaimed libertarians. The Rand Paul school of libertarianism is at least as far outside the mainstream on the right as, say, a rather doctrinaire old-school form of Marxism/Leninism is on the left. The difference is this: The mainstream media isn’t telling us that we’re in the middle of a “Marxist/Leninist moment.” Leninist politicians aren’t being touted as serious presidential contenders. And all the media chatter we’re hearing about a “Libertarian moment” ignores the very harsh, extreme and sometimes downright ugly ideas that are being disseminated under that banner.
It’s great to have allies like Rand Paul working alongside other Americans to defend our right to privacy, restrain the NSA and reduce the military/industrial complex’s grip on foreign policy. It’s possible to admire their political courage in these areas while at the same time recognize that we may not care for the environment they inhabit.
There’s another reason to challenge libertarians on the extreme nature of their ideology: A number of them seem determined to drive competing ideas out of the free market for ideas—which isn’t very libertarian of them. There has been a concerted effort to marginalize mainstream values and ideas about everything from workers’ rights to the role of government in national life. So by all means, let’s have an open debate. Let’s make sure that all ideas, no matter how unusual they may seem, are welcome for debate and consideration. But let’s not allow any political movement to become a Trojan horse, one which is allowed to have a “moment” without ever telling us what it really represents.
Obviously, not every self-proclaimed libertarian believes these ideas, but libertarianism is a space which nurtures them. Can the Republican Party really succeed by embracing this space? Why does the mainstream media treat libertarian ideas as somehow more legitimate than, say, the social welfare principles which guide Great Britain or Sweden?
Here are seven of modern libertarianism’s strangest and most extreme notions.
1. Parents should be allowed to let their children starve to death. We’re not making this up. From progressive writer Matt Bruenig (via Sean McElwee at Salon) comes this excerpt from libertarian economist Murray Rothbard:
“a parent does not have the right to aggress against his children, but also … should not have a legal obligation to feed, clothe, or educate his children, since such obligations would entail positive acts coerced upon the parent and depriving the parent of his rights. The parent therefore may not murder or mutilate his child, and the law properly outlaws a parent from doing so. But the parent should have the legal right not to feed the child, i.e., to allow it to die.”
Note the repetitive use of the word “it” to describe the child. This linguistic dehumanization of helpless individuals is surprisingly common in libertarian literature. (See Ayn Rand and the young Alan Greenspan for further examples.)
Rothbard is a member of the so-called Austrian School of economics, cofounded the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and is widely admired among libertarians. He continues:
“The law, therefore, may not properly compel the parent to feed a child or to keep it alive. (Again, whether or not a parent has a moral rather than a legally enforceable obligation to keep his child alive is a completely separate question.) This rule allows us to solve such vexing questions as: should a parent have the right to allow a deformed baby to die (e.g., by not feeding it)? The answer is of course yes, following a fortiori from the larger right to allow any baby, whether deformed or not, to die. (Though, as we shall see below, in a libertarian society the existence of a free baby market will bring such “neglect” down to a minimum.)”
In other words, society may have moral values, but it may not impose those values on anyone.
To his credit, Rothbard preaches a form of libertarianism which is internally consistent. That’s a virtue some of his peers in that community lack. But people should understand: this idea isn’t an outlier in the libertarian world. It is, in fact, a logical outgrowth of the philosophy.
2. We must deregulate companies like Uber, even when they cheat. So-called ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber are actually taxi services using unlicensed contractors. They’re heavily promoted by libertarians who tout them as ideal examples of the free market as a counter to bureaucratized, more traditional taxicab services.
We now know that Uber is as ruthless in its anticompetitive tactics as it is hypocritical in its public statements. A recent report from the Verge shows that Uber employees frequently hire drivers from competitor Lyft for short, relatively unprofitable rides in an attempt to recruit them. Uber promised to “tone down” these tactics. Instead, in a related move, its employees made and then canceled 5,493 Lyft reservations, reducing the availability of Lyft drivers and hurting its drivers.
Yet here’s what Uber CEO Travis Kalanick had to say about taxis:
“The taxi industry [is] trying to protect a monopoly that has been granted them by local officials, so they’re trying to slow down competition.”
That sounds a lot like what Uber is doing. In a Twitter exchange this week, Kalanick insisted that Lyft drivers were welcome to sign with Uber while keeping their Lyft affiliation. But Uber lied to its own drivers about that recently in New York, when it sent out a text message falsely claiming that New York regulations barred them from signing with Lyft.
Have libertarians expressed their outrage with Uber for its dirty tricks, or for its assault on the idea of competition? Not at all. In fact, libertarian Nick Gillespie wrote in Time last March that, “Letting markets work to find new ways of delivering goods and services isn’t just better for customers in the short term, it’s the only way to unleash the innovation that ultimately propels long-term economic growth.”
Of course, “letting markets work” is precisely what Uber isn’t doing. Gillespie also expresses outrage that California has imposed regulations that include “mandatory criminal-background checks for drivers, licensing via public-utilities commissions, and driver-training programs.”
Which one of those things don’t you want to have in place when a driver comes to your house at four in the morning for an emergency drive to the hospital? But Gillespie equates regulators to “mobsters.”
(Update: Gillespie has been silent about these recent Uber revelations. For its part, Uber has hired former Obama aide David Plouffe, which means nothing politically but will help them leverage their market dominance and suppress competition even more. Expect further radio silence from the libertarian front.)
3. We should eliminate Social Security and Medicare. Libertarian/Republican icon Rand Paul holds with the libertarian faith in his steadfast opposition to both Medicare and Social Security. “The fundamental reason why Medicare is failing is why the Soviet Union failed,” says Paul. “Socialism doesn’t work.”
Except that Medicare isn’t failing. It provides healthcare at lower direct cost, lower administrative cost, and with lower cost inflation than equivalent private-sector insurance. Its biggest efficiency problem stems from the runaway profit motive in the delivery of healthcare. Medicare must purchase goods and services from for-profit medical corporations, hospital chains and pharmaceutical companies. (Conservatives have forbidden it from negotiating prices with Big Pharma.)
In other words: It’s the private sector, not government, which is causing our country’s healthcare problems.
Social Security is entirely self-funded through its own contributions. It has far lower costs than any equivalent private program. Medicare and Social Security annoy libertarians, not because they don’t work, but because they do, putting “free enterprise” in the dust.
4. Society doesn’t have the right to enforce basic justice in public places of business. From Rep. Ron Paul, Sen. Paul’s father:
“… the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not improve race relations or enhance freedom. Instead, the forced integration dictated by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty.”
This was Rep. Paul’s reasoning in voting against a resolution which praised the Civil Rights Act. The libertarian position, as articulated by the Paul family, appears to be this: a business owner’s rights, even in a public place of business, extend to the ability to discriminate solely on the basis of skin color.
That is a violation of the United States Constitution, and of federal law. The libertarian position is that some laws cannot be enforced on private property. But which ones? If the government can’t forbid discrimination, can it forbid theft? Assault? Murder?
As with so many libertarian positions, the reasoning seems murky and the differences appear arbitrary. After all, won’t the free market eventually make a murderer’s business unpopular and force a correction to the killer’s behavior?
5. Selflessness is vile. From libertarian avatar and prophet Ayn Rand: “The man who attempts to live for others is a dependent. He is a parasite in motive and makes parasites of those he serves.”
Aid workers. Doctors Without Borders. Gandhi. Martin Luther King Jr. Mother Teresa. In this libertarian view, all of them are “parasites” who make parasites of those they serve—because, of course, the free market would eventually eliminate poverty. (Never mind the millions who would starve in the meantime.)
Not only are these good people “parasites” in this libertarian view, they are deliberately parasitical (“in motive”). They lack the nobility of character needed to act purely out of self-interest, like the murderer Ayn Rand so admired. As Mark Ames reported in 2012, Rand,
“became enthralled by a real-life American serial killer, William Edward Hickman, whose gruesome, sadistic dismemberment of a 12-year-old girl named Marion Parker in 1927 shocked the nation. Rand filled her early notebooks with worshipful praise of Hickman. According to biographer Jennifer Burn… Rand was so smitten with Hickman that she modeled her first literary creation… on him.”
Rand described the child-killer as a “genuinely beautiful soul.” But that aid worker sweating in the Darfur heat, spooning food into a skeletal child’s mouth? Despicable.
This is not fringe libertarianism. Ayn Rand is its heart and soul.
6. Democracy is unacceptable, especially since we began feeding poor people and allowing women to vote. This isn’t a fringe idea, but one that was proclaimed in a prominent libertarian outlet by one of the movement’s leading funders:
Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of “capitalist democracy” into an oxymoron.
In the face of these realities, one would despair if one limited one’s horizon to the world of politics. I do not despair because I no longer believe that politics encompasses all possible futures of our world. In our time, the great task for libertarians is to find an escape from politics in all its forms — from the totalitarian and fundamentalist catastrophes to the unthinking demos that guides so-called “social democracy.
Translation: Things have gone to hell with all those black and brown poor people around, especially with all those weak-willed women feeling sorry for them and voting to feed them. This isn’t your lunatic uncle talking. These are the words of Peter Thiel, PayPal billionaire and leading libertarian, not spoken in a drunken rage at Thanksgiving dinner, but published in Cato Unbound, perhaps the nation’s leading libertarian outlet.
Thiel clearly felt the heat on this one, since he was forced to append a statement at the end saying, “It would be absurd to suggest that women’s votes will be taken away or that this would solve the political problems that vex us,” adding: “While I don’t think any class of people should be disenfranchised, I have little hope that voting will make things better.”
Thiel’s prescription? “Escape” democracy by using technology to create spaces where the democratic process cannot go. His ideas include ocean colonization, or “seasteading”; outer space; and inevitably, “cyberspace.”
Unfortunately for the libertarian ethos, cyberspace is a government creation. The Internet, and the core technology which enables us to access it, were both created at government expense using government resources. But Thiel’s dream, the libertarian dream, is one in which publicly created tools, which should rightly be considered the modern “commons,” are usurped by a handful of ultra-wealthy individuals for their own undemocratic and noncompetitive purposes.
7. We can replace death with libertarianism.If they can’t bend us to their will in this lifetime, they’ll achieve the goal by other means. Thiel begins his Cato essay this way:
“I remain committed to the faith of my teenage years: to authentic human freedom as a precondition for the highest good. I stand against confiscatory taxes, totalitarian collectives, and the ideology of the inevitability of the death of every individual.”
That’s right. The new libertarian ideology insists that private entrepreneurs will conquer death. Then they’ll force us to bend to their will in the new dominion of eternal life, whether in biochemically preserved flesh or as uploaded spirits in a digital netherworld. Either way, their freedom won’t be ours. Based on their past behavior, they’ll “monetize” our afterlife with advertising and by manipulating our artificial-life experiences.
Life extension has its merits, if handled humanely and justly. But an eternity of “curated content” governed by Silicon Valley billionaires? I’d rather die, thanks very much. And if the Republican Party accepts the “libertarian moment” as its new ideological covering, it apparently has a death wish too.
I fit the description. I was a black man….
What happened to Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson, Missouri has resonated across the country with African Americans because all of us feel that it could have easily happened to any of us.
Every black person has their own story of racial profiling, especially black men. Any white person, not just police, engages in racial profiling when they suspect, avoid, follow, report or challenge a black person simply because of their race and their own idea of where black people “belong.”
My own family is more typical than exceptional. I was about ten years old, and my family was living in a newly integrated part of Los Angeles in the 1960’s. We had been on a family outing to the more exclusively white area of the San Fernando Valley. When returning at the end of the day, my father noticed a police car had begun following us. The police car followed us fully ten miles back to our neighborhood and didn’t stop until my father pulled into the driveway of our own home.
As we exited the car, the officer got out to question my father. I remember hearing the officer ask my father, “Where do you live?” Insulted and incredulous, my father responded, “I’m standing in front of my home.” After inspecting his driver license, the officer left. But he left my father standing there, embarrassed as a grown man, humiliated in front of his family, and reminded once more that in spite of his college education, middle class home and tidy children, he was no more than a criminal suspect in the eyes of America.
"The officer left my father standing there, embarrassed as a grown man, humiliated in front of his family."
I had my own initiation freshman year at Harvard College. I had just left a matinee movie in Harvard Square and crossed the street into Harvard Yard to rendezvous with friends in Grays Hall (one of the Yard dorms). Suddenly, I noticed a strange sight, a Cambridge police car, with blue lights flashing, driving in the Yard! One of the things a freshman learns upon arriving at school is the unique legal boundaries that envelop most colleges in the United States: all campus buildings and students are policed by the University Police, non-students and the surrounding community is policed by the City of Cambridge Police. As I approached my destination, I surmised that a serious crime must have occurred in Grays Hall for the police to be violating that boundary.
But suddenly I heard the screeching halt of the tires and the metallic disembarkation of the officers and noticed, as they crouched behind their opened car doors, that they had their hands poised above their gun holsters. Now my heart began to race and a fog of disorientation dissolved into the bracing reality that I was the emergency. It was a cold winter day and I had my hands deep in the pockets of my overcoat. The officers barked out their orders for me to, “Take your hands out of your pockets, SLOWLY.” As they cautiously approached me I could see the gathering crowd on the steps of Grays Hall watching nervously as the episode unfolded.
"My heart began to race and a fog of disorientation dissolved into the bracing reality that I was the emergency."
The officers demanded my identification. Fortunately, I was carrying my college ID card and was able to prove that I belonged on campus. As they relaxed and began to return to their cars, I had demands of my own. “Why did you stop me?” Dismissively, they tossed a “You fit the description” over their shoulder. There had been a report of an assault by a black man in a white coat in the subway station at Harvard Square. Yes, I fit the description. I was a black man.
This experience has stayed with me my entire life. It is a virtual rite of passage for every black boy. White boys lose their virginity, Jewish boys get bar mitvah’ed, and black boys have their first police stop. Now, I was a man.
"I fit the description. I was a black man."
This constant feeling of being under suspicion, under surveillance and perceived as a danger, is hard to shake. It first resulted in a rather comical experience that I had just a few months later. I was walking in the neighborhood where the campus and the community are indistinguishable. But I was apparently in front of a school-owned building because this incident involved the Harvard University Police. I was walking down a narrow side street about a block outside the Yard when I saw several Harvard Police cars with lights flashing and sirens sounding arriving from both directions.
Panic stricken and totally convinced they were coming for me, I froze; heart pounding out of my head, waiting for the first bullet to strike, when at least a dozen officers got out of their cars, ran towards me and then without a word, ran right past me and into the house behind me. I continued my journey but I would still not trust that next time they would be coming for me.
It is a testimony to the persistence of racial profiling that 35 years later (2009), on a street not far from that one, black Harvard professor (and close friend of President Barack Obama), Henry “Skip” Gates, would be arrested by Cambridge police officers for breaking and entering his own house. A white neighbor saw a suspicious black man forcing his way into a house. The police believed the white neighbor but disbelieved the professor who was in custody at the police department before he had the opportunity to prove that he belonged (in that house).
My next experience was also in a college community. A white female classmate and I were going to lunch, and I was driving. Before we could reach our destination, a city cop pulled us over. He didn’t ask for my driver license or registration. He asked her, “Are you alright?” While I was stunned and dumbfounded, she figured it out before I did. He saw a black man driving a white woman and deemed she needed saving.
Finally, my son has had it harder that I had it. He has had so many experiences that he doesn’t bother to tell me about them all. But this one was a gem. He and a friend were returning from a club late one night and got into a cab for a ride home. A few blocks away from the club, a police car pulled the cab over. Their first thought was that the cab driver had committed some traffic infraction. But instead of asking the driver for his license, the officers ordered my son and his friend to get out of the back seat and stand on the side walk.
“‘Riding a taxi while black’ had now been added to the catalogue of ‘_______while black’ crimes.”
Suddenly, they realized that the police weren’t stopping the driver but the two of them. What was their crime? Apparently, “riding a taxi while black” had now been added to the catalogue of “_______while black” crimes. No charges, just a harassing “catch and release” action that is the most common outcome of these encounters.
The presumption of guilt and danger that is at the heart of racial profiling lays heavy upon every black person living in America. It changes our relationship with the world. We are constantly on guard against a charge, a confrontation, a challenge. Racial profiling does long-term damage to the self-image, self-esteem and ego of the African American.
Source: Madison T. Shockley for The Huffington Post
An ongoing shameful disgrace.
For The First Time Ever, All Four Eyewitness Accounts of The Murder of Michael Brown Put In Chronological Order: The most detailed side-by-side telling of each eyewitness account of the Mike Brown murder in chronological order #JusticeForMichaelBrown [@ShaunKing]
Reblog the fuck out of this
Time to hear the truth.
this is on a whole new level of patience
This is natural art.
Jon Stewart is back from vacation, and he’s not wasting any time going after one of his favorite targets: Fox News.
This really is shit. It has to stop.