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When we first moved to Los Angeles, our cat, Ajax (from whom my name is derived), disappeared.  He had always been an indoor cat, having spent his entire existence in 425 square feet on the second floor and having only seen birds and other cats from windows and doorways, and even though he was a bit of a bruiser (We stopped going to the bathroom at night because it was too dangerous.  He was panther-sized, black, and strong and would stalk us mercilessly at night, pouncing and then wapping us hard across the Achilles tendon as we  dashed for the safety of the bathroom), we worried about him going outside.  He was sleek, big, and aggressive, but he was also dumber than hair.

When he disappeared, we decided to put up signs around the neighborhood.  We did them in English and in Spanish, transliterated directly because neither of us remembered much from high school.  Perdido Gato from Lost Cat.  It had a picture of him on it and a phone number.  We posted them.   Then we were reminded by a passer-by that, in Spanish, the adjective follows the noun.  With what we had written, what we wanted was loss that took the form of a cat.  A cat that was, in effect, Loss embodied.

Fortunately, that was exactly correct because we found him three days later under the house.  He had been there for days, crying softly next to an open vent.   Aside from getting lost under the house for days on end, he also predated on pumpkin innards and spinach at every opportunity.  If there was ever a lost cat, it was Ajax.

I love language.  Like most great things, it is as fun as it is useful and when I find myself using it well, it makes me feel oogy inside like almost nothing else can.  I write novels.  I write blogs.  I write poetry (but that's a secret).  And I talk.  I talk a lot.  I'm sure the captive-audience aspect of the classroom was part of the appeal for me and why I didn't go on to become a lawyer like I intended.    Since I loved language, I was fascinated by the difference in how Spanish and English dealt with states of being.

In English, we say "I am hungry," which implies that while we are undernourished, the state becomes the entirety of our identity.  In Spanish, "Yo Tengo Hambre," translates directly as "I have hunger."  The speaker's identity remains constant and is not displaced by physical, emotional, or social need like in English.

English is a language which forces its user's very identities to be supplanted by their own desires.

When we are hungry, it is who we are.
When we are tired, it is who we are.
When we are happy, it is who we are.
When we are angry, too, it becomes our identity.

And this is the problem identified so well by Daily Kos diarist, Mark Sumner in his diary entitled "Why Solyndra Signifies a Ray of Hope." His main point, though hopeful, isn't what fascinated me.  It was his introduction in which he describes scenes from the Rush Limbaugh television show.  He gives us a fine exemplar of how, in English, our identity is our state.  Anger, on the right, is not simply an emotion, it's an identity.

They are anger.

It is not something that they have, along with a nice wardrobe, hunger, and faith, it is something that they are.

And they are angry at us.

Being angry at "liberals" and progressives is not about issues, it's about identity.  This means that the efforts we make to try and ameliorate their anger, or to re-channel it, simply exacerbate it.  When we say, "this helps you,too" and when we say "you are arguing against your own interests," their only response will be, "If you want it, we are against it because we are angry at you."

So what do we do?

How do you get somebody to willingly change their identity?  How do we get somebody from "I am angry" to "I am an American who feels frustration?"

I don't know.  I really don't.  If I had an answer, other people much smarter and more connected than myself would also already have it and they would be doing it and I would simply be saying, "Yeah.  What they said."    But they're not saying it and so I'm just lost.

But what I do know is that when we call ourselves progressives, they hear us say that we think they aren't good enough.  When we say we are liberals, they are angered by the fact that we are proud libertines.  When we say we want what's best for America, they hear that they are not it.

We can't stop saying it but we also can't simply allow 20-30% of our citizenry to stew on the sidelines.  That would be just plain dangerous.  We also can't let them have their way because they don't have a way of their own, they simply have the opposite of whatever we say.

This is why 27% of people with pre-existing conditions believe that our new healthcare laws will make them worse off.

This is why working class people are screaming for deficit reduction and reigned in government spending.

This is why workers are anti-union even as they drop like flies in Amazon warehouses.

This is why your conservative relatives argue that black is white (unless you say it, too, and then it's purple).

It's not about the issue, it's about you.

It's personal.

So...

What do we do?  

Crossposted from Eminently Credulant Musings

Originally posted to Eminently Credulant Musings on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 06:08 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (161+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bhfrik, jlms qkw, tobendaro, bwren, penguins4peace, Black Max, kevinpdx, EdMass, PeterHug, WisePiper, murrayewv, emeraldmaiden, irishwitch, fumie, edrie, Purple Priestess, cai, jacey, The Raven, JonBarleycorn, MaryinHammondsport, CherryTheTart, TexasTom, corvaire, dot farmer, hoolia, radarlady, DontTaseMeBro, JanL, fallina7, Emerson, dwayne, PvtJarHead, blueoasis, Naniboujou, Geenius at Wrok, Canis Aureus, salmo, varro, goobop, sdf, Graff, drewfromct, karmsy, paintitblue, Nowhere Man, Oh Mary Oh, marleycat, Thinking Fella, not4morewars, Hill Jill, leftykook, Glen The Plumber, Mayfly, Wee Mama, Dirtandiron, historys mysteries, RunawayRose, Azubia, niteskolar, NJpeach, Byron from Denver, orson, jfromga, kathny, Nag, Debby, dejavu, dotsright, snazzzybird, qannabbos, mkfarkus, home solar, PBen, Clytemnestra, nzanne, LSmith, AnnieR, The Pollster, texasmom, sherlyle, Kimball Cross, edie haskell, Gowrie Gal, mofembot, Unit Zero, ccr4nine, caul, Orinoco, FindingMyVoice, lynneinfla, multilee, theKgirls, LibbyLuLu, neecie100, GeorgeXVIII, Duncan Idaho, MKinTN, Gustogirl, StateOfGrace, Statusquomustgo, bleeding blue, Oldowan, Dave925, brown and blue all over, Trotskyrepublican, NormAl1792, Amber6541, Bulldawg, SteelerGrrl, susakinovember, DruidQueen, OldDragon, ER Doc, lineatus, SuWho, prfb, eataTREE, greycat, librarianman, mzinformed, gatorcog, La Gitane, anafreeka, tkwasny, science nerd, 88kathy, Seamus D, klompendanser, Gemina13, roadbear, Pinko Elephant, Sun Tzu, redlum jak, bakeneko, sawgrass727, Matt Z, sb, Dube, spacecadet1, Deep Dark, rlochow, triplepoint, UtopianPablo, pbearsailor, Paulie200, frankzappatista, laurnj, bnasley, Wary, renbear, antirove, rogerdaddy, cv lurking gf, DianeNYS, Panurge, Mathazar, Albatross, Lightbulb, stratocasterman, Pat K California

    Credulant (adj): Something that is not fully credible because it is unsourced but it sounds true so it is accepted without argument.

    by xajaxsingerx on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 06:08:29 PM PDT

  •  So long as they (24+ / 0-)

    are given their marching orders and true belief by the Murdochs, Ailes, Limbaughs etc etc etc... there truly may be no way to reach them.   I think the only way to really affect the right wing echo chamber which feeds this mass delusion is to take the profit motive out of it, and that isn't going to happen with the makeup of the Roberts court.

    Does anyone really believe that Limbaugh would continue on air if he were paid subsitence wages?  Or that Murdoch would take mulit year multi million dollar profit loss in order to keep broadcasting?  So how do we legally remove the profitability of being part of the right wing megaphone?  

    I am the neo-con nightmare, I am a liberal with the facts.

    by bhfrik on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 06:20:01 PM PDT

    •  In an interesting way (14+ / 0-)

      I think you express the counterpoint to what the diarist has suggested.

      If you substitute "conservative" for "liberal" you get this

      Being angry at "conservatives is not about issues, it's about identity.  This means that the efforts we make to try and ameliorate their anger, or to re-channel it, simply exacerbate it.  When we say, "this helps you,too" and when we say "you are arguing against your own interests," their only response will be, "If you want it, we are against it because we are angry at you."

      So, if I read the diarist rightly, "So What do we do?",  implies not only how we affect their positions, but how we alter/propose ours so as not to incur the same reaction ad infinitum and actually gain concurrence.  

      Thanks, xajaxsingerx and bhfrik, will think about this more.

      Best

      Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

      by EdMass on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 06:42:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  DJs aren't usually paid much anymore.... (14+ / 0-)

      ....Limbaugh is a prime example of "I got mine, you can too if you weren't a lazy bum!"

      And I'm wondering where the money comes to pay Limbaugh enough to keep him in Oxycontin and underage Dominican boys?  Who advertises on a show that guarantees to alienate half the population and probably turns off a large portion of the half that might be sympathetic to him?

      9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

      by varro on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 05:25:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You've touched on what I think is the root of (13+ / 0-)

      the problem.  Case in point.  I had Good Morning America on this morning.  Jake Tapper was reported, talking to George S.  Tapper made the comment that the Republican audience response to the hyptheticl uninsured 30 year old, the executions in TX, and the booing of the soldier in Iraq were, to paraphrase, in all three instances just a handful of people.  And George S. just ignored it and went on.  The media no longer reports with accuracy, just each reporters' own personal thoughts and views, and it passes as news.  They've rendered themselves irrelevant, useless, and therefore dangerous, and they and we barely notice.  I wrote into the show and commented on what transpired.  I'm not sure they even read those comments, or at the very least are aware or care how it comes across to those of us who pay attention.  

      The GOP will destroy anything they can't own.

      by AnnieR on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 07:30:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Time to replace Limbaugh with an undocumented (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bhfrik

      immigrant at below minimum wage.

      Probably end up with someone with wider cosmopolitan (and human) experience and at least bilingual.  Don't think Mario Rubio would be interested.  At that salary level.

      I am waiting to see Rush go Galt and take unknown numbers of jobs with him (maybe three? you think? two?)

      Real plastic here; none of that new synthetic stuff made from chicken feathers. By the morning of 9/12/2001 the people of NYC had won the War on Terror.

      by triplepoint on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 02:56:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Two things: (44+ / 0-)

    One, I'm very glad that you found Ajax safe and sound.

    Two, they aren't focusing their anger and frustration on us. They are focusing their hate. We can say whatever we want, we can be as accomodating and as inclusive as it's possible to be, and they will continue to hate us in the same way that I hate cockroaches. They don't see us as part of their species. To them, we are worthy only of contempt and, when possible, eradication.

    That's why bargaining with them never works for any real length of time. That's why we need to (politically) beat them down to the point where they have no power and no influence.

    It's a long and difficult path to get from here to there, but we're the ones who enabled them to get here, so what we gave, we can take away.

    Liberals are a little like the Celts, when we don't have someone else to fight we fight amongst ourselves. -- LaFeminista

    by Black Max on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 06:32:53 PM PDT

    •  The best solution is victory (22+ / 0-)

      Conservatives are engaged in a class war, even the ones in our class.  There will be no peace treaty.  The middle and working classes will win battles, but never the war.  Therefore, the solution is to win those battles, and control the history of the struggle so that our children know they have to fight too to keep their republic and their quality of life.  

    •  It's like there are two different arguments (17+ / 0-)

      One, the attempt to convince "conservatives" that we have their best interests, too.

      Two, the attempt to convince individual conservatives that each individual liberal is not the enemy.

      I can work on the first, but I have no answer for the second.  I stopped talking to my father two years ago when he called me (not for the first time) unpatriotic because I'm a Democrat.  You should also know at the time I was a locally-elected official.  He was there when I promised to uphold the Constitution, et al.  An otherwise intelligent man, his mind has been contaminated by Rush, Fox and the rest of that bunch who constantly tell him Democrats are 5th Columnists and traitors.  So, even though he knows me, and knows I'm not a traitor, he can't help himself.

      I like the looking at language and how it frames our points of reference.  Thanks, xajaxsingerx.

      •  it helps to remember sports fans (19+ / 0-)

        Yankees vs Red Sox, for instance.
        Whether a baseball fan or not, just about everyone knows about this..rivalry? or blood feud?
        In Boston, you run a real risk of being assaulted if you wear Yankees memorabilia, especially near Fenway Park, and definitely near game time..
        Red Sox Nation is an identity (like Red America), and one that is incomplete without its nemesis.
        Tribalism cannot exist without a nemesis; and tribalism is crucial to instilling a lizard-brain response to complex issues - itself crucial to right wing authoritarianism.
        Therefore, tribalism has been deliberately fostered while critical thinking has been denigrated and made unavailable.
        This has engendered an environment of 'us vs them' that equates nicely with the most rabid sports fans:

        1. Winning is everything. Methods are nothing more than a means to that end.
        2. Every play by the hated opponent is clearly in violation of the rules.
        2a. If the referees don't agree with that, then it is they who are wrong, corrupt, and in thrall to the hated opponent.
        3. Every play by the home team is courageous, ethically pure, and directed toward a noble purpose; (this fact is so self-evident it never needs explaining just what that purpose is).
        4. Every loss is due to unforeseen circumstances or nefarious activity by outside forces.
        5. Every win is due to the superiority of the home team, and nothing else, ever.
        6. Every "game" is critically important because it's always the playoffs when the hated opponent is arrayed against "Us".
        7. Boorish, buffoonish behavior is considered a good way of showing support, from face and body painting to pictures of the opposition in, say, a witch doctor outfit...

        The rise of spectator sport as a huge part of our entertainment-obsessed culture had to have some larger effect in society. unfortunately, we have transplanted the worst of it into our political culture.

        Class war has consequences, and we are living them.

        by kamarvt on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 08:48:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  What you're saying about the wingers (18+ / 0-)

    fits nicely with this analysis from Addicting Info ~

    Real reason why conservatives hate welfare

    Basically, it's the "I've got to have someone beneath me to feel better about myself" thing. But it's worth reading.

    I don't know the answer, either, although I think it does help the more we can understand the fine points.

    Glad you found Alex. Did he eat the pumpkin & spinach while he was lost, or after he got found? ;)

  •  Sometimes it's hard to call yourself a 'liberal'.. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nice Ogre, jan4insight, drewfromct

    ...when you're always advocating the regulation of other's behavior.  We need to explain to the wingnuts that our liberty is liberty from the hardships of life, vanquished by our benevolent Democratic government.

    •  I am not a Liberal (11+ / 0-)

      When I was younger I wore the badge 'liberal' with pride.  Then i learned what the term means basically everywhere other than the US.  It means liberal, really liberal, on both social and economic policy.  So, basically Libertarian of one stripe or another.

      So, yeah, I'm a progressive.  When I'm feeling brave, I admit I'm a bit of a Socialist.  When I'm being descriptive, I say that I'm a socially Liberal, radically Democratic Socialist.

      But nah, not a Liberal.  That term in my mind is way too interconnected with ideas about the sanctity of the Right to Property, and the wonders of pure Contractual Law as the only truly ethical law.

      Whereas I think there should be definite limitations to the right to property, and that contractual law without other structures creates deeply coercive relations that bear structural resemblance to slavery.  Just slavery made more palatable by giving it a veneer of coerced consent.

    •  I hope this is snark (8+ / 0-)

      but I think based on your record here, it is not.

      "The truth will set you free...but first it'll piss you off." - Gloria Steinem

      by Sharoney on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 08:47:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Trollish, IMHO n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gustogirl

      Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

      by Dirtandiron on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 06:24:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh, THAT ought to do it. (0+ / 0-)
    •  It's hard to call yourself a "conservative" (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharoney, SuWho, SadieB, sb, laurnj, stratocasterman

      ...when you both advocate the destruction of the environment while at the same time denying that any destruction is taking place.

      And it certainly isn't liberals who want to stand in front of a woman's womb and dictate who controls it.

      It isn't liberals who want to protect banksters from the hardships of the consequences of their own malfeasance, or coddle the wealthy with tax breaks, no-bid contracts and opportunities for war profiteering; with capitalized profits and socialized losses.

      So yes, bankers and corporations who have no regard for humanity seem to need a little external control, since they completely lack the control that is born of a conscience.  There's some regulation of behavior that is sorely needed.

      Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

      by Gustogirl on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 09:10:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Check this clown's (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Seamus D, laurnj

      comments and his snarky one and only diary. It's a troll that thinks it's much more clever than the stupid libs at the GOS.

      It even has a friend.

      "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

      by happy camper on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 10:17:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's About a Story (27+ / 0-)

    People are conservative because they believe in a story where lower rank people must submit and obey higher rank people. For example, the wife submits to the husband, and the children submit to the parents. Liberals believe in equality. Disagreements are settled by talking with the wife and husband considered as equals; children are nurtured not just punished.

    I trust cats more than Republican politicians.

  •  well-spake, my friend! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mayfly, Dirtandiron, Matt Z, sb

    now if only more would listen!

    It's the Supreme Court, Stoopid!

    by edrie on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 10:33:47 PM PDT

  •  Predated? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dot farmer, Debby

    "he also predated on pumpkin innards and spinach at every opportunity"

    He may be a predator, but predate is not a verb, and I don't think you meant previous in date order.

  •  Good question. nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    laurnj

    There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. - Elizabeth Warren

    by Susan Grigsby on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 01:03:29 AM PDT

  •  dont pay the game. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh, Nowhere Man

    It isn't easy and I fail as often as I succeed.
    But, stop the you-ing and they-ing, that is both projection and affirmation of identity politics.  I wish this site would drop hate-mailapaoza too.

    That aside, very insightful comments on the linguistic subtleties.  

  •  Great Diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seamus D, Matt Z

    It's making me think.

  •  an insight into the right (23+ / 0-)

    Back when I could still stomach listening to Limbaugh and his ilk, I specifically remember a moment on his radio show that provided a great deal of insight.

    Bill Clinton had given a speech in which he said some of his critics on the right were mad at him because "now I have a little money."  (He not only got money for speeches but a sizable chunk for his memoirs.)  Rush blasted the hell out of him for bringing that up, with a palpable, teeth-gritting anger that actually sounded real.  He sounded like he wanted to climb out of my radio and start killing people.

    Rush gets noticeably angry when progressives do financially well.  It's his version of torture.  Waterboard him, tie him to a chair and kick him 100 times in the crotch with golf cleats--none of that would hurt him as badly as just tying him to a chair and having someone read off the net worth of a number of well known progressives.  That's his vision of living hell.

    The right is specifically angry at us for being successful.  For having so many opinions that most people agree with, left to their own devices.  Because so many of our beliefs are meant to be well-meaning, and they don't have it in their hearts, minds or souls to do that.  They hate the living hell out of us for that.  Because just living and let live and sticking up for what we believe in, reminds the world how rotten and corrupt they can all be.  

    I keep trying to think of a liberal version of Rush having the trees cut down on his TV show.  Burning money?  Running a Lincoln Town Car or Rolls Royce off a cliff?  I can't think of a single thing that would be the equivalence, except maybe planting trees somewhere in Rush's honor.  That might actually send him into a rage.

    A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves. - Edward R. Murrow

    by dwayne on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 04:39:57 AM PDT

  •  We should tell them that "Liberals really love (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, caul, Matt Z, sb, UtopianPablo, laurnj

    food, water, and oxygen!"

    Naw, seriously...

    Hate and identifying what one is against is the new tribalism. Race and class are still there of course, but what it really comes down to is the ideology.

    That, and some notion that one is obligated to carry out base actions motivated by sheer spite.

  •  It's talking to individuals that turns them.... (12+ / 0-)

    ....not as much as protests.

    Case in point - my closest friend in Pittsburgh who was brought up in a Republican household.  He's socially liberal, but it'll take something to get him to not vote for the Republican.

    That something might just have been Gov. Corbett's repeated threats to cut his job (he's a public employee) just as his wife was about to have a baby....

    9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

    by varro on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 05:22:23 AM PDT

    •  self interest (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z, UtopianPablo, laurnj

      sounds like the deciding factor for this person, no offense to you and your efforts.

      and that is too often the case with right wingers. The plights of others do not compute. They have to feel the pain themselves before they acknowledge that the pain is real.
      All too often, again, once their personal hardship is over, they revert to type.
      And yes, that is sociopathy. The recent studies on the phenomenon are profoundly disturbing.

      Class war has consequences, and we are living them.

      by kamarvt on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 08:55:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Glad Kitty turned up safe n/t (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snazzzybird, sherlyle, caul, Seamus D, Matt Z

    "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

    by leftykook on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 06:10:30 AM PDT

  •  My opinion (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Orinoco, caul, Matt Z

    Posting what I think will be my customary disclaimer from now on before getting to my comment :) --

    I'll upfront this by saying that I'm a conservative leaning libertarian (hoping to avoid any 'you're a moron' etc. comments ;  I'm here not to get into heated arguments but rather have good discussion so that I may broaden my knowledge base with varying opinions)...

    Now, my post is based on the voting/arguing against one's own interests comment...  Personally my response to this would be that just because I could vote for someone else to pay more in order for me to get more government benefits or have someone else pay more so that I can get the principal on my mortgage reduced, or have someone else pay more for anything that might benefit me more than them (and thus being in my own interest) doesn't make it right.  

    And while I won't presume to speak for everyone on the right, that's the argument that most of the people I chat with make as well, that forcing someone else to do something they don't want to in order to make my own life better just shouldn't be done...

    Hoping to hear everyone's thoughts!

    •  First, let me say, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z

      thank you for being here, and for being up front about your POV. I hope we can all have a rational, interesting conversation.

      That said, I truly don't understand your third paragraph.

      just because I could vote for someone else to pay more in order for me to get more government benefits or have someone else pay more so that I can get the principal on my mortgage reduced, or have someone else pay more for anything that might benefit me more than them (and thus being in my own interest) doesn't make it right.  

      Can you give me specific examples here, instead of generalities so vague as to just confuse me? Are you saying that by voting for, say, Obama, it would cost you more to get government benefits, or...? Can you elaborate, please?

      thanks

      •  What I mean to say (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Matt Z

        Is that I could vote someone in to office (President Obama in your example) who might raise taxes on a group of people (someone making greater than X amount of dollars for instance) to put more money in the pockets of a less fortunate individual (me for instance) which, by the 'voting in one's best interest' logic, seems to me that it would make sense to vote for a politician who would shift the tax code in my favor.  But just because I could vote for someone to force others to remove money from their pocket and (directly or indirectly) put it into mine (whether that be through more EBT benefits, longer unemployment benefits, lowering the principal on my mortgage, etc.) doesn't necessarily make it right.  

        Which is what I meant to get at in my closing paragraph, that I think what may seem like self-proclaimed conservatives (or pick your right leaning flavor of political background) voting against their best interests is actually voting for a sense of what is right and wrong and whether one group of people should have money forcefully taken out of their pockets to benefit another group of people.

        •  Progressives need to turn that thinking around. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Th3Drizzle, SuWho, Matt Z

          I agree with you that this is ingrained in many, if not most conservatives/Republicans.  They ask why shouldn't millionaires/billionaires get to keep the money they make?  Its only fair? Right.  They made it, they get to keep it and the kicker, if I make it, I get to keep it.

          What they don't ever take into consideration is that those millionaires are paying a much smaller percentage of their earnings than someone making $30,000. per year.

          I'm not sure conservatives understand common good, as we Progressives understand it.  

          There is also an awful lot of lying going on by Republicans, Corporations, and scoundrels like Limbaugh and Beck.  I am actually flabbergasted by some of the Republican trash mailings that make the rounds.  Only someone brainwashed could believe any of it.  

          •  I agree that (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Matt Z

            The tax code is extremely flawed and that because of the way it is structured that millionaires and billionaires could potentially pay a lower tax rate than others, however I don't think that's true in all instances where someone is earning X amount of dollars.  

            On a semi-related topic, I'd personally prefer all corporate subsidies were done away with (both for historically right wing causes like the oil industry, but also for historically left wing causes like ethanol production, and green energy) and all associated tax loopholes/trickery removed, and be replaced with either lower tax rates at all tax brackets, or else something a bit more extreme in the form of a consumption tax.  

            While I would imagine that a number of people here would be opposed to a consumption tax (due to it being a regressive tax) I think that it could be beneficial particularly if as I mentioned above, it meant that the tax code was completely transparent and clear.  In a perfect world I think it would go so far as to increase government revenue because it would make it next to impossible to hide income (as it's fairly easy to do right now for anyone with the money to pay for a smart accountant).

          •  What the libertarian view (7+ / 0-)

            fails to consider is that millionaires and billionaires got that money by taking part of the productive labor of their employees and keeping it for themselves.

            The only way to prevent capitalism from producing a few winners and a bunch of losers is to have a mechanism that will prevent the majority of the production of society from being captured by an ever-smaller number of uber-rich people. Because like a game of Monopoly, at that point the game is over. The system fails to function properly.

            That system is progressive taxation. From the 30's until Reagan, the rich paid some very high marginal rates, yet they were still rich, and the larger economy thrived.

            "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

            by happy camper on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 10:25:40 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  It isn't about someone paying (6+ / 0-)

          more to benefit someone else.  It's about everyone paying their fair share to benefit everyone.

          Why should I pay taxes to pay for highways upon which corporate big rigs drive for free and make a profit while causing more wear and tear on the highways?

          Why should I pay taxes for a privatized military granting no-bid contracts for shoddy and dangerous construction projects built by war profiteers?

          Your argument does not hold water because it can be turned upside down.

          Consequently, we have to get back to the notion that everyone should pay their fair share.  It is pretty well universally known that the wealthy are NOT paying their fair share.

          Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

          by Gustogirl on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 09:27:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I understand what you're saying and I think (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Matt Z

            That it goes to the heart of how I feel, which is that while you say it's about everyone paying their fair share to benefit everyone, should the benefit of "everyone" come at the expense of the individual?  

            In your example of semis causing more wear and tear on the highways, I think to the end that it could be determined how much wear and tear on roads is caused by semis vs. personal automobiles that the corporations / companies that employ those truck drivers should in fact pay more toward the upkeep of the roads.

            Similarly I would agree that any business or individual that makes the most use of any good or service should pay the bulk of the cost associated with that good or service.

            However, if we're talking about one group paying their "fair share" simply so that another group can partake of the same goods and services that the group "paying their fair share" can afford, then I think I would disagree.  

            For instance, I'd love to have some cadillac health insurance plan that would cover every little thing, but I can't afford such a plan, so I go with what I can afford.  I don't deny that there would be some greater benefit to me and potentially society if I were covered for every ailment or sickness, but we have to have some means of allocating scarce resources, which we can do with either the price system or else rationing.  

            And I think the overall economic system that we have of capitalism does the best job of that.  We will never have (or be able to afford for that matter) a system where we can give everyone (whether rich or poor) the best of everything, but in the words of an economics professor that I had, "capitalism provides the most out of life, for most people, most of the time" which I think is about the best we can hope to achieve.  And at least in my opinion (keeping in mind what I said above about companies / individuals paying for their use of goods and services) we shouldn't force one group of individuals to pay more to another group of individuals simply so that the latter may have a better life.  

            Like I had mentioned in other posts in this diary, I'm all for people donating what they can and want to, but forcing them to is where I've got qualms...

            •  A couple of things. (6+ / 0-)

              First the easy one.  You say:

              should the benefit of "everyone" come at the expense of the individual?  

              The individual is one of "everyone", so yes.  All individuals should contribute to the common good, whether that be our defense,  our highways or whatever, and all individuals benefit.  

              My second point is a little more complicated to explain, but here goes:

              Capitalism is not longer working the way we were raised to believe it works.  Just look at the most basic notion that Demand should dictate Supply.  This is a marvelous thing - the Market, which is often we, the people, drives what will be supplied by producers, or capitalists who compete to supply with higher quality or lower price.  It's supposed to be a win-win for all.

              Now let's take a look at what happened in our economy regarding self-service.  It started after the oil shortage during Carter's term, when gas pumps started offering gas a penny or two cheaper if you tried this new thing called "self-service".  Prior to this, when you drove into a gas station, a young guy would come out, get your order, fill your tank, wash your windshied and if asked, check your fluid levels or tire pressure or whatever.

              These young guys were often in training, learning how to repair and maintain automobiles.  It was a great opportunity for kids to earn a few bucks in the summer, something like an apprentice program for young men.

              But what happened is that everyone started pumping their own fuel, and before you know it, full service all but disappeared, fuel prices went back up and we were left holding the pump, with nothing gained and much lost, including hundreds of thousands of jobs for our kids, and their income removed from the general economy and placed in the pockets of the oil companies.

              Self-service took off from there, but it was imposed upon us rather than chosen.  We now unload our own grocery carts and no one helps us with our packages to load the car.  They just redesigned the service lines.  Many more examples out there.

              Look at what happened with planned obsolescence:  we now waste more natural resources because durable goods just aren't as durable as they could be because they want us to have to buy those goods more than once in our lives; though that should not be necessary.  By now, that planned obsolescence cannot be eliminated because it is integral to our economy.  Was that a demand from consumers, to get shoddier goods?

              People clearly want good, objective sources for news as well as good investigative journalism and a strong ethical standard in journalism.  Instead we are being fed celebrity obsession, and the news media has been consolidated into a few mega-international-super-corporations, and they now consciously control what news we receive.  

              I don't even hear about things on PBS that I learn about on the web.  The massive demonstrations in Israel, and some of them with Israeli's and Palestinians marching together and declaring they do not want to be enemies.  The Occupy movement is global, newsworthy and ignored by American media.  I didn't even learn about the millions of people around the world protesting the invasion of Iraq until well after the invasion was underway.

              Industries are consolidating their lobbying efforts.  Insurance, Pharma, Medical industries are all colluding.  The oil industry suppressed the development and deployment of alternative energy sources for more than 3 decades.  All these industries have become huge monopolies, integrated horizontally and vertically, and Demand, and therefore, the will of the people has been supplanted by "this is what we will Supply to you".

              It's not the capitalism I learned about in college.  It's corporatism, where all the power and control is in very few hands, and in 2008, those hands drained our pensions, robbed our treasury, handed out big bonuses and thumbed their noses at us.  "Quite frankly, the banks own this place," said Senator Dick Durbin regarding Congress.  Now they are going after our other investments:  Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid - all of which we have been paying for.  The notion that these programs are in such deep trouble that we can't give people the insurance they paid into is trumped up, false, but continually repeated in our corporate press.

              I've never been fond of capitalism, but I'd give my eye teeth to have capitalism back the way it used to be...

              Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

              by Gustogirl on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 11:35:13 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thank you for the post! (0+ / 0-)

                Regarding self service gas and carrying out one's own groceries, I think it may be reaching a bit to say that big oil or big grocery/food conspired against the people who pumped gas for people or carried out their groceries.  In those examples I think even today if they were still around that people would much rather pump their own gas or carry out their own groceries rather than pay extra to have someone else do it.  

                I think to say that we haven't chosen those paths is somewhat misleading because it would imply that gas stations or grocery stores are somehow forced to not employ people to pump customers' gas or carry out their groceries.  Because customers would typically rather pump their own gas or carry out their own groceries rather than pay extra to have someone else to do it implicitly says that we have chosen that.  

                As for shoddy work product and to quote your comment of "the will of the people has been supplanted by "this is what we will Supply to you", I think you give too much power to corporations.  No one forces us to buy shoddy products, and for every shoddy product that is out there, there's a quality one as well.  The difference is that we don't want to pay for quality products, we'd rather pay very little for relatively shoddy products instead of paying more for good quality.  

                I could go out and buy some vacuum cleaner for $30 that would do an 'eh' job of cleaning my floor and probably break down in a year or two, or I could buy a high quality one for $400-$1000 that would make my carpet spotless and would last for many years.  I just don't want to spend $400-$1000 for a vacuum, so I'll choose the $30 one every time.  No one is forcing me to buy the cheaper product, it's all a matter of personal choice.

                •  go check out the FP and watch (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Th3Drizzle, zett, laurnj, Gustogirl

                  the video just posted with the guy asking Obama to raise his taxes.

                  For me, it contains a response to your comment above, "That it goes to the heart of how I feel, which is that while you say it's about everyone paying their fair share to benefit everyone, should the benefit of "everyone" come at the expense of the individual?"

                  Obama said, "We benefited somewhere by someone making an investment in us - ... we're in this together."

                  Look, I'm one of the people who is actually doing okay with the stock market these days. But it's just not right that my capital gains - my gambling - get taxed at a lesser rate than my carpenter's hard work.

                  •  I agree with this completely (0+ / 0-)

                    I think you're spot on, as I'd mentioned in an earlier post I'd rather we did away with financial incentives through the tax code completely (including the income tax) in favor of a consumption tax.  I think this would completely simplify the tax code and would ensure that for every dollar that's being used, everyone is being taxed exactly the same.  I know that a number of people here wouldn't agree with me as it would be a regressive tax, but at least to me, that'd be the ideal situation...

                •  IDK (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Gustogirl

                  Where you get the idea that most people would prefer to pump their own gas. A couple of years ago I read somewhere that the trend seems to be to get the customer to take over the jobs that were formerly done by paid employees--gas stations w/self-serve, grocery stores w/self-checkout, etc.

                  It wasn't a big "oil company conspiracy" and I don't think that that was what Gustogirl was suggesting. But the "self-service" trend evidently involved corporate decisions with the goal of reducing payroll costs. One time I was in an A&P supermarket in north Jersey. I was looking for an express line, since my purchase wasn't a large one. One of the managers recommended the self-checkout. I replied that I'd rather wait a couple of minutes longer and deal with a real cashier, as I prefer to see actual people getting paid to handle my order.

                  The manager looked at me as if I was out of my mind. I gave him the same look. Then I got on a line and waited for a human cashier to check out my order.

                  I'm not lazy. I just don't like to see people's jobs made obsolete by corporate cost cutting measures.

                  As far as purchasing shoddy goods goes--I was raised to value quality--ultimately one winds up getting a better value in goods when one does research to identify the best of possible choices. It's sometimes better to invest in a high quality vacuum cleaner (using your example) that cleans really well and that'll last for many years, than to throw your money away on a cheap one that won't clean as well & that you would have to replace a few times.

                  •  Thanks, laurnj. (0+ / 0-)

                    I do the same thing and never use self-checkout.

                    Often, at our local home depot, self-checkout is the only option available.  I always get a person to check me out and tell them "I'm trying to save jobs for American workers!"

                    This gets me mixed responses.

                    Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

                    by Gustogirl on Tue Sep 27, 2011 at 06:13:36 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  And thank you for your reply as well, (0+ / 0-)

                  but your missed the point.

                  We aren't paying any less for anything because of self-service.  We are paying the same or more, and the lower cost is going to the producer, not to us.  This isn't how capitalism is supposed to work.

                  Lower costs of production are supposed to result in lower costs to the consumer.  The problem is that the producers are no longer innovating in a way that benefits the consumer.  Their innovations are more parasitical and often  take the form of financial instruments, which produce nothing, fees, interest rates, service charges.

                  The question, "how do I improve my profits?" is more and more frequently being answered with "by ripping off the consumer" rather than "by producing a more competitive product".  Keep the same box size and price, but lower the contents from 16 to 12 oz.  Now it's turning into "break up the unions" or "hire prison labor" or "move our factory overseas".  

                  When an industry colludes with itself or sister industries, that is monopolization.  The insurance companies started that in the 80's when they began to invest far more into their lobbies after taking a hit on their investments.  Voila!  We now have mandatory collision insurance in every state and mandated profits for insurance.  They are now lobbying the citizenry against their own self-interest by advocating tort reform - something totally trumped up and publicized by the insurance industry as a whole.

                  Monopolies are not legal, yet they exist when nearly every industry colludes within its own ranks for political influence.  How do you you think lobbying became such a huge industry?  Because nurses got mad?  LOL.

                  Don't forget, that they are taking the money we gave them for their product or service and using it against us in government.  This should not be legal.

                  As for planned obsolescence, it isn't a choice for most people.  Only the wealthy have the option to buy super high quality for most things, but that still doesn't answer the question of inefficient use of resources, and you claim earlier that the most efficient use of resources is one of the beautiful aspects of capitalism.

                  Take a look at the packaging industry, one of the most wasteful uses of resources out there!  What would happen to those companies and to the economy if the packaging industry were forced to provide the least wasteful packaging and distribution possible?  The industry would shrink faster than the plastic it wraps around everything!

                  Do you think the consumer would pay less once the exorbitant costs of packaging were reduced?  How would our dependence upon foreign oil be affected by a sharp reduction in the use of plastics?  Would our own oil industry suffer?  Is the packaging industry a good example of the most efficient use of resources?  Why are municipalities and local taxpayers held responsible for the excessive waste in their landfills?

                  It can be argued that on a finite planet, there is a natural limit to capitalism, which requires continual growth for survival.  When we see capitalism parasitizing itself, I think we should look at it with fresh eyes and ask ourselves whether some limits are being reached.

                  Because if I'm right, and we are seeing the beginning of the demise of capitalism as we know it, this is something that absolutely must be wisely managed in full consciousness.

                  We have to ask ourselves - are the capitalists still creating more wealth, or are they simply taking a larger share of the total existing wealth?  I maintain they are doing both, but that the balance has shifted to the latter.  That's capitalism on the demise, when parasitism becomes the dominant profit-making tool.  

                  Can you imagine the global disaster that would be if capitalism came to its natural, rather than a managed end?  Well, no worries, nothing like that is even remotely taking place!

                  Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

                  by Gustogirl on Tue Sep 27, 2011 at 06:11:37 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  That's the basic disconnect, isn't it? (12+ / 0-)

      Conservative/libertarians hear "voting against one's self interest" and you think of an individual who wants to steal someone else's money so they can have a free lunch. To use the tax code or other governmental force to feather their own nest.

      When liberals or progressives say "self interest", we mean the interests of whole classes of people.

      It's in the self interest of working class people to have an economy which has enough jobs that people can choose a job they want, not just whatever job they can get.

      It's in the self interest of anyone who works for wages or salary that those wages or that salary support the worker, and support the worker's family.

      It's in the self interest of entrepreneurial folks to have enough demand for products and services that starting a small business with prospects for growing it is realistic.

      It's in the self interest of pretty much all people to have peace and security in their neighborhoods, and to have quick response to disasters, whether the scope of the disaster is a small kitchen fire or an earthquake followed by a tsunami followed by a hurricane.

      It's in the self interest of everyone to have medical care when needed, to have clean drinking water, to have sewage and garbage not accumulate around living space, to be able to breath the air without getting sick.

      It's in the long term self interest of humanity that we do not foul our own nest beyond it's capability to support human life in the style we've become accustomed to, and to listen to knowledgeable people who warn us of long term dangers to our way of life, such as peak oil or climate change.  

      In short, liberals and progressives think there is something to the idea of "providing for the common welfare" that our constitution speaks of, and that government is our most effective mechanism for providing that common welfare. Not the perfect mechanism, by any means, and not a set and forget mechanism: it requires constant tinkering and maintenance to work properly.

      But democratic government is a much more effective mechanism to provide for the common welfare than 'benevolent' strong man rule, aristocracies, personal altruism, extended families, tribes or clans, or non-governmental organizations such as charities, lodge halls or churches.

      I suspect you and your right wing friends and acquaintances think alike about this because you all have a tendency to project what you would do when your hands are on the levers of power.

      "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

      by Orinoco on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 08:18:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for the response! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Matt Z, nzanne

        I don't want to seem like I'm one of the ultra libertarian/right wing people who want to do away with government entirely, I see the benefit of using tax-payer money to build infrastructure (although I would imagine we could have some debate about what I think is good infrastructure spending vs. what individuals here might consider good infrastructure spending, but that's probably a discussion for another time) or to have a publicly funded police/fire department.

        The sticking points for me are associated more with individuals who receive dollars (whether directly or indirectly) from the government (excluding social security / medicare).  Firstly, I have trouble with individuals who abuse the system (not sure of any numbers off-hand, but I think I'd be naive to think that there aren't plenty of people who do, not to say that there aren't also plenty of people who legitimately can't function in society and require special assistance which I have no trouble with) and secondly, wants vs. needs.  

        I think the first point doesn't really need any explanation because I would guess everyone would know what I mean by abuse.  As for the second point, being that we live in a society where someone can be classified as poor yet have cars in their driveway or parking lot, cable / internet, a big screen t.v, cell phone etc. I have a harder time seeing the need for increased benefits since while it may be nice to have certain things, they may not necessarily be required to get through life, and if a person isn't willing to part with those things, I don't necessarily think they should receive further government aid.  To put it a bit more concisely, I think that government aid should be provided only as a bare minimum to get by, enough so that a person can hoist themselves up, but not enough that they could rely on it forever.  The caveat to that would be that it be applicable to able bodied individuals that can function in general society ; as I mentioned before, I have no trouble with government assistance being provided to people with severe mental/physical health issues that inhibit them from providing for themselves.

        That may seem cold-hearted, but to be clear, I have no problem helping people in need, however I do have some issue with individuals being required to help others (whether through taxation or any other means).  I enjoy donating to charities / helping people out, to be sure ; but I don't feel it would be appropriate to require me to do so.  

        •  Do you get a mortgage deduction? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Orinoco, Matt Z, laurnj

          I rent, but subsidize your housing with my taxes.
          Do you have children?
          My money is taken away from me to give you a deduction for having children. Why should I reward you for that? You chose to have them, you should pay for them.
          And so it goes. We have decided that for the common good we give mortgage deductions to create stable communities.  We give deductions for children for the same reason. The middle and upper classes "take our tax money" all the time without thinking about it. Our communities are more stable if our tax code not only promotes a healthy middle class, but also provides a minimum standard of living for everyone.

          •  As I mentioned in another post (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Matt Z

            I would rather all of the deductions/subsidies etc. would be taken away in all instances in favor of lower rates for all brackets (or as I mentioned in the other post a consumption tax).  

            To answer your questions, I do not rent, but don't pay enough in interest on my mortgage to make a mortgage deduction worth it (I'm not terribly familiar with the tax code, and my wife typically fills out our taxes, so I'm under the assumption that you mean an interest deduction?).  The flip side to your rent comment is that my property taxes (which you wouldn't pay while renting) go toward schools etc. that while I don't have kids (which answers your second question) goes toward kids of renters which pay no property tax.

            I understand that the intent of the deductions is to encourage stable communities, but I also think that without those deductions people would still have kids, would still buy homes etc.  But that we'd have a clearer picture of what society truly wants out of a community by removing such deductions.  

            •  The Rent Includes the Property Tax n/t (0+ / 0-)

              Strange that a harp of (a) thousand strings should keep in tune so long

              by jabney on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 03:48:23 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  SRSLY (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                jabney

                Where do people get the idea that renters don't pay municipal property taxes? Rent includes property taxes--the landlord's property taxes. Otherwise, it wouldn't be worth it for the landlord to rent the property.

                I resent the implication that renters are somehow "getting over". Renters have no equity. They only have the receipts from their monthly payments to show for it.

                 My monthly rent eats up about 80% of my after-tax income. But at least my tap water is safe to drink and the roads in my town are usually in decent repair.

        •  A person without (7+ / 0-)

          a car or a phone is severely limited wrt finding work, or getting there once they have a job. Just because someone doesn't live in a box under an overpass doesn't mean they aren't poor, or don't need help.

          Really, all this stuff is not theoretical or untested. The best functioning societies on the planet are those with high taxes and healthy doses of socialism, including a robust safety net. There are no libertarian success stories.

          "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

          by happy camper on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 10:35:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, you did miss my point (6+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SuWho, Matt Z, snazzzybird, jabney, nzanne, laurnj
          The sticking points for me are associated more with individuals who receive dollars (whether directly or indirectly) from the government

          You still focus on individuals you think want to take your money to buy themselves stuff you don't think they deserve.

          You admit you are not familiar with "the numbers" even to the point of not doing your own taxes, but are all too ready to base your political philosophy on assumptions: "I'd be naive to think that there aren't plenty of people who [abuse the system]" that, on investigation, turn out to be false.

          Reagan invented the 'welfare queen' out of whole cloth.

          Here are some numbers to ponder: in the past three decades, the entire, as in 100%, of the benefits from American's increased productivity went to the top 1%.

          You would be really naive to think that those few people were the only ones whose productivity increased in the past 30 years, and yet, that is the clear implication of your political philosophy.

          While you may enjoy the warm fuzzies you get from donating to charity, the society you live is requires you to pay taxes for all the good things YOU enjoy as part of the commonwealth of people who live here.

          Obviously, if the enjoyment you got from helping people out was enough, the nation's food banks wouldn't be in crisis, and all the empty sauerkraut jars on 7/11 counters would be overflowing with cash to pay for little Debbie's operation.

          "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

          by Orinoco on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 10:52:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hmmm (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Matt Z

            If by saying "but are all too ready to base your political philosophy on assumptions: "I'd be naive to think that there aren't plenty of people who [abuse the system]" that, on investigation, turn out to be false." that there is never any abuse and that everyone who has ever received a dollar from the government has always needed it to continue living, I think we've got nothing more to discuss...

            As for a segment of the population receiving greater pay increases relative to another segment, my argument would be that as we turn out more and more college educated people with cheaper and cheaper higher education, the pool of labor that is able to do any particular job increases, which will cause wages to decrease.  When a large segment of the population becomes skilled labor, they are all (relative to one-another) unskilled.  

            To say that someone who would be classified as unskilled labor deserves high wages simply by virtue of having some job seems inappropriate to me.  As a society we decide what jobs merit what pay based on what the market will sustain.  It is up to a company to decide what to pay its workers, and if it isn't fair pay, or if the employee doesn't obtain some benefit from accepting the position, the employee is free to work somewhere else.  

            Similarly an employee who is outperforming his or her co-workers and making the company more profitable can threaten to quit if he or she doesn't receive a pay increase.  I guarantee you that if those in charge see that a pay increase would be less painful than the profits lost by losing that employee, they will raise one's pay.  Saying that everyone by merit of having a job should be paid some salary is like saying the government should just give everyone $10,000,000 and it will solve all of our problems.  Everyone has the opportunity to make their case that they are worth more money to whatever company they work for.  If they truly are worth more money they should (and will) be paid more.  If they're not worth the extra money, they won't.

            •  Nice straw men (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              laurnj

              I'm not saying there is zero abuse, as in none at all. I'm saying that, if you did look at the actual numbers, you'd find you're chasing houseflys with a howitzer. Besides, those government bureaucracies that seem to drive libertarians crazy are specifically set up to prevent the kind of abuse you worry about. Are they perfect? No, but neither can you tell me honestly that you have never been conned out of a nickle in your private charitable endeavors.

              You also seem to be unwilling or incapable of addressing the point that it's not whether the individual 'deserves' government largess, but whether society is better off for him having received it.

              in the past three decades, the entire, as in 100%, of the benefits from American's increased productivity went to the top 1%.

              This isn't about some workers getting a better salary because they got educated or outperformed their co-workers. This is about the economy, for 99% of us, has been a zero sum game for the past thirty years. The rising tide is only lifting 1% of the boats.

              Any employee these days who has gotten ahead of his peers in the salary game is living on borrowed time, as his boss is scheming ways to fire him and hire some inexperienced schnook right out of school for half the price.

              the government should just give everyone $10,000,000 and it will solve all of our problems
              Really, are all your arguments equally absurd? Still, to address it: the government (that is to say, we taxpayers) can't afford to give that much to everyone. However, there is a case to be made that, in a recession, just handing out money to boost demand is a good thing to do. Alaska, for example, just sent a check, around $1,200 I think, to every one of its residents. Most of the recipients are going to spend that windfall and the Alaskan economy will see a boost, which will be good for everyone in the state.

              Do they deserve it? Tell me, what makes the children of billionaires deserving of the windfall they receive from their parents?

              And, by the way, the food pantry shelves are still bare. Last year 14.5 percent of households (approximately one in seven), went hungry at some point during the year, the highest number ever recorded in the United States. 3.9 million of those households had children living there. This year, by all accounts, is worse, but the numbers haven't been collected yet.

              At last count, 45,000 people in the United States died, as in got dead, because of health issues that would not have killed them had they access to health care.

              But I don't suppose you or any of your right wing friends know any of these hungry or dead people, so I guess they really just don't matter, do they?

              "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

              by Orinoco on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 05:15:03 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Govt assistance (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          xajaxsingerx

          The need for government assistance for the poor is a purely pragmatic one.

          No capitalist system has ever managed full employment of the workforce.  The result of this is that, at the lowest level, the relationship between worker and employer is an inherently imbalanced one.  The level of this imbalance depends on the circumstance of those who are not employed.

          If there is no governmental assistance(and  the charity argument is invalid, considering that no society has ever given more than a pittance to such things), then the employer is a water merchant in a desert, with less water to sell than will keep all his customers alive.  Hence, he can very nearly literally set whatever deal he likes.  Including going so far as asking the employee to -go into debt- in order to be afforded the privilege of working, or offering credits at a company store instead of cash.

          This isn't hyperbole.  This is history.

          And if enough employers enact a profitable measure at workers' expenses, it becomes economically unfeasible for others to not.

          Now, this sets the rates for the very lowest workers.  In order to assure a higher quality employee, a business must offer some form of enticement.  Higher wage, benefits, a better workplace... whatever.  If the extra a business seeks is moderate, the traits or skills sought fairly common, the incentive over the condition of the poorest can be minute.  If it is greater, the incentive must be higher.  But all is relative to the lowest employee.

          Business capital owners have a vested interest in keeping the market value of labor low, and gain immediate value from shaving tiny amounts off wages.   Inflation tends to assist here, since real wages can be lowered without actual decrease.

          There have been 2 major responses to this phenomenon.  The first is unions.  Unions are a method of balancing the negotiating table between labor and capital owners.  But though very good for making singular pushes, they are messy, combatitive, and tend to have bureaucratic/corruption issues over time.

          The other is the enacting of social welfare systems.  A set of systems that have been -hugely- successful at creating a greater balance between workers and capital owners.  They have issues, but they are largely responsible for there being such thing as a middle class.  Because the poor being less desperate allows more of them to have the leeway to not take a bad deal from an employer, and that affect cascades up the wage structure.

          In fact, wealth equality is correlated so closely to social welfare quality as to be virtually inseparable.  And there is really no evidence that it depresses the economy.

          Even Milton Friedman, the Libertarian visionary, didn't suggest that a lack of governmental social welfare was wise, but rather suggested a 'negative income tax'.

          •  As for abusers: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            xajaxsingerx

            First off, why do you care?  If someone gets a pittance from the common pot and lives a life of impoverished and lazy bum, why do you care?  Their life isn't going to be a good one.  They may have it easy, but they get no real luxury from it.  They get little social respect.  In my opinion, they are to be pitied, not reviled.

            Second, there has never been a shred of evidence that this is a widespread tendency.  Yes, some young women intentionally ride out welfare as long as possible(while some badly made welfare systems through broken aspects weirdly make getting free hard...).  Yes, some people find ways to cheat.  But it's not an epidemic, nor is it a huge monetary burden.   The vast majority of people use the social safety net for a time, and then seek out employment.

            Nations with stronger systems don't show any stronger tendency of people to utilize the benefits than neighbors with weaker systems.   Nations with 'living wage' laws don't have hordes of indolent libertines living off the dole(though many young people use it for a time, and travel or go to school).

            So really, I think abusers of the welfare system are really a non-issue.   And compared to the benefits to the rest of society of a good social welfare system, they are ridiculous.

    •  Capitalism has a flaw (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xajaxsingerx

      Actually, it has a few, but one is glaring:  The lending of money at interest, along with the renting out of property for profit and the functional renting of business capital to workers for their use constitutes what is functionally a tax on the poor by the wealthy.

      In a circumstance where an effectively risk-free bond returns 5% interest a year,  an individual with $660k can make as much per year as the average worker by doing nothing.

      Think on that.  

      Capitalism is structured so that, despite some irregularities, the overwhelming force is that of a continued concentration of wealth.  Money attracts money.  And having more money allows one to utilize economic leverage to further disadvantage competitors.   New players will occasionally make it through such barriers, but they will, by and large, be those so focused on skill at playing the capital game that they are very unlikely to challenge it once they climb to the top.  In fact, they have a long history of kicking out the ladder.

      Before we instituted policies where those with concentrated wealth were forced to pay more, we had no such thing as a middle class.  Only the rich and poor and a great widening gap between them.  In recent years, we've moved back toward that and again we see that growing gap.

      Property is not a sacred right, and contractual property law is not the sole arbiter of ethical consideration.  Once, we had the belief in the divine right of kings.  It took a long time dying, but humanity was better for it.  Now we have what appears to be a divine providence of deed and contract.  Which says that regardless of the coercive nature of markets, the power of capital leverage, regardless of huge gaps between rich and poor, regardless of conditions in workplaces and rampant exploitation of a growing body of those with no recourse -but- to agree to bad deals... That society has no right to stand between a person and their property, and that a contract, once signed, is always binding.

      To which I say: Nonsense.  The sooner this twisted ethics joins the Divine Right of Kings, the better.

  •  Ajax's parent: You're a great writer. (0+ / 0-)

    But I have to say, I was really disappointed in this diary... the way it was constructed, the way you so appropriately spoke of Spanish vs. English and "having hunger" vs "being hungry", I was reading with ever increasing excitement thinking that THIS DIARIST was about to give me the keys to understanding how to communicate more effectively with others.

    But alas, you slipped into the eternal question, "So, what do we do?"

    And I still don't know. Bummer.

    Great writing though.

  •  What Do We (Progressives) Do? Well For One Thing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    laurnj

    you can't reason with an unreasonable person. The only solution is to 1. Continue to elect Progressives who share our vision, and work/contribute to remove tea party idiots and conservatives from office. 2. Boycott any and all products, programs, or services that contribute money to their obstructionist causes and politicians. 3. Continue to get a Progressive message out as best we can with letters to the editor, advertisements, etc.  4. Go around these obstructionist conservative idiots as best we can, whenever we can, and NEVER let them have what they want. In other words, treat them like the spoiled brat, temper tantrum taking children that they are. Once Progressive programs and solutions are put in place, and are successful (think Social Security and Medicare), then Progressives need to constantly REMIND citizens WHO put these programs and solutions into place, and WHO obstructed them.

    •  Copy all but the last sentence... (0+ / 0-)

      ...replace "progressive" with "conservative" and munge the two together and you've got a longwinded description of everyday "politics."

      Once Progressive programs and solutions are put in place, and are successful (think Social Security and Medicare), then Progressives need to constantly REMIND citizens WHO put these programs and solutions into place, and WHO obstructed them.

      Because, you know, that's just the sort of insight that's been escaping Democrats for going on 80 years.  Right up there with "Holy crap! They're are anger!"

  •  Pew study of media (0+ / 0-)

    http://people-press.org/...

    It's really, if you read a ways, a study of CNN and Fox News more than any other form of news media.

    Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

    by dadadata on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 08:24:56 AM PDT

  •  I really like your diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z

    It's not the usual rhetoric. It's about language, about grammar, and how both those define our identity. And it's about how the "other side" reacts to it.  Very thought provoking.  And yes, they ARE the Hate.  

    I see traitors, but they don't know they're traitors....

    by hcc in VA on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 08:39:30 AM PDT

  •  Don't know how to say this, so I'll be blunt (0+ / 0-)

    I appreciate the point about the value of identity in politics; with that I agree with you whole-heartedly.  Indeed, I think most of Obama's 'conceding' is simply seizing the moderate-conservative mantle, and wearing it because it will drive Republicans so far right that people will stop identifying with the soldier-booing, death-cheering, sick-dumping assholes.

    But, your linguistics leaves me shaking my head.  I don't mean that as an insult, but I do want to be frank, for in science frankness is helpful.  Alas, few people have been exposed in school to what science has learned about grammar in the last fifty years, so Americans' ignorance of how language works is right up there with our ignorance of geography, and I can't fault someone for trying to make the best of that.

    It is easy to read a lot into the meanings of individual words, but, the science on the matter shows that it rarely tells you much.  In this case, one's permanent identity is not tied up in the verb be.  If you're hungry, it's not who you are; it's what you are right now.  But if you're something more permanent, then that property can be who you are.  

    You should read about the distinction between stage-level and individual-level predicates.  I will summarize it briefly:  Stage-level predicates describe temporary conditions, that apply to a particular stage of an individual's lifespan, while individual-level ones describe more permanent conditions. Be hungry is stage-level, while be Canadian is individual-level.  

    Notice how the English verb be doesn't differentiate the two... this does not mean that the distinction is not present in English.  We know it's there because it shows up in subtler ways.  For instance, when you put be in the past tense, you can get an interesting "lifetime effect":

    If someone tells you John was Canadian, you get the sense he's dead.  If they tell you John was hungry, you don't.  That's because the individual-level predicate be Canadian describes an entire lifespan, so if it's in the past tense, the lifespan is, too.  So John is dead.  However, be hungry just describes a passing moment, which once over, says nothing about John's state of living afterwards.

    Interestingly, Spanish has two verbs that translate as be... ser is used for individual-level predicates, and estar for stage-level ones (like being at the bank).  But English only has be.  As for the use of a have verb with nouns like hunger, that doesn't tell us much either...

    Hungry is an adjective that is straightforwardly derived from the noun hunger and the suffix -y, which ascribes an association with the noun it affixes to.  The nature of the association varies with convention.  So someone who is hungry has hunger, while someone who is doughy resembles dough, and someone who is funny tends to induce comedic fun.  Being hungry is a prototypical stage-level predicate, though; it says nothing about who a person is.  

    I apologize if I sound rude, but I am simply trying to be concise and to the point, and mean no offense.  

    Pas de bras, pas de chocolat!

    by nominalize on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 09:03:23 AM PDT

    •  No.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Amber6541, Matt Z

      You're absolutely correct.  My love of language includes a basic knowledge of linguistics, but I disagree with the conclusion that there isn't a bleed between stages.

      And even if there is no bleed, Psychology -- the other social science that everybody cites and few people know -- is pretty clear that language has a strong influence on identity.

      Even so, my point wasn't a scientific, it was social, political, and emotional.  I reserve the right to deviate from Truth in order to make a point.  In my family, this is known as Truth in the Greek Sense of the Word. ;)

      Please, also, reference my sig.

      Credulant (adj): Something that is not fully credible because it is unsourced but it sounds true so it is accepted without argument.

      by xajaxsingerx on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 09:24:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, because that's what this country needs... (0+ / 0-)

        ...more credulous people.

      •  I know you weren't expounding a thesis (0+ / 0-)

        and as I'm re-reading my comment, let me apologize:  I was venting personal frustrations via unrelated dailykos comments, and I shouldn't have taken them out on you.

        If you are suspicious about identifying stages, I understand... identifying particular time intervals is a challenge for linguistic scientists. But so is identifying spatial locations (how close is "here"?), groups (how many is "a bunch"), masses, and pretty much anything.  The tricky thing with natural language semantics is that there is that much (or most) lexical meaning is not strictly defined.  As a Supreme Court justice once famously opined "I can't tell what pornography is, but I know it when I see it."  This ineffability goes for words like 'temporary', too, or cognitive concepts that rely on such notions, like stages.

        Essentially, linguists (semanticists namely) realize that there is just going to be some level of uncertainty with lexical meaning, and there's nothing that can be done to remove it, except turning people into robots.  The acceptance of natural uncertainty annoys philosophers to no end, and the difficulty of statistically mapping out the exact level of uncertainty annoys psychologists to no end.

        As to identity, I am aware of the role that language plays in identity, both in affirmative and negative ways.  As a native American who's helping to preserve and rehabilitate my tribe's dying language, that role is quite evident to me even outside of academic journals.  I don't mean to say that language and identity are completely distinct.   Language plays a role in identity, through its association with culture.  But the grammar does not, because it is tied to cognition and biology rather than culture [some dispute this notion, I admit].  I don't think I made that distinction clear enough, so I thank you for highlighting it.

        Pas de bras, pas de chocolat!

        by nominalize on Wed Sep 28, 2011 at 08:12:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  There will always be Kansans - the trick (0+ / 0-)

    however is to just be succesful by being forceful with our agenda and winning. So called indepedendents are just people who follow whichever way the wind blows - they cannot possibly have any idea what teh policy differences are to actually vote Dem one time and GOP another. Therefore as long as they see success, they will come along and that 30% will remain isolated and we will continue to do right by them regardless and hopefully they will be satisfied enough by living in a system that works... idealistic? Maybe so, I can't possibly think of any way to cut through hate!

    Sept 2011 - How Obama got his groove back! I'm super charged, Fired Up and Ready to go!

    by karanja on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 10:48:57 AM PDT

  •  They aren't even that angry, they are in the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, Amber6541, laurnj

    Amway political chain.  They get their information from their forward-all, political up-line.  "Aunt Sally can't be wrong."

    These addresses have been collected and data mined for years.  My cousin will quickly forward-all to her list when she receives marching orders from her up-line.  She firmly believes this up-line works at the Department of Homeland Security.  Far from being insane, she has been needle sorted for naivete and gullibility.   Not bright, Christian college graduate, good heart, many addresses in her address book.  She works overtime, passing on that Obama is from blackest Africa (which she considers one country) and all the oldies and goodies whenever she is asked.

    When do people figure out they will not be rich selling Amway?  How long does it take?   It will take even longer to figure out that their political up-line isn't on the up and up.

    . . . from Julie, Julia. "Oh, well. Boo-hoo. Now what?"

    by 88kathy on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 11:37:44 AM PDT

  •  I started my day with your post (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541

    and it has been interesting food for thought all morning.

    I don't have any solutions to offer at the moment, but getting people to think along these lines seems a good beginning. Thank you!

    Inside of me are two dogs. One is mean and evil. The other is gentle and good. The two dogs fight all the time. Which dog wins? The one I feed the most.

    by bakeneko on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 12:41:23 PM PDT

  •  Heh great diary, thanks (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, Amber6541, laurnj

    Despite a few language lawyers here in the comments, this was a fun read. Also, yay kitty! Mine are named after Doctor Who (the original series) characters Alistair and Romana. After I read the first part of your story I had to go check that they're both okay :)

  •  First of all, I'm so glad you found kitty safe and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    laurnj

    sound.

    To these questions:

    How do you get somebody to willingly change their identity?  How do we get somebody from "I am angry" to "I am an American who feels frustration?"

    Simple answer: In most cases, you can't. So don't waste your valuable energy or time trying to convert the folks who will likely never be converted.  Nothing wrong with making an attempt to share your viewpoint but then move on, otherwise it's counterproductive to the progressive movement.  To the second question: sadly these people already believe they are Americans who feel frustration and don't consider you either an American OR worthy of consideration or even breathing in some cases.
    But what I do know is that when we call ourselves progressives, they hear us say that we think they aren't good enough.  When we say we are liberals, they are angered by the fact that we are proud libertines.  When we say we want what's best for America, they hear that they are not it.

    We can't stop saying it but we also can't simply allow 20-30% of our citizenry to stew on the sidelines.  That would be just plain dangerous.  We also can't let them have their way because they don't have a way of their own, they simply have the opposite of whatever we say


    I'm going to risk sounding harsh here, but why not let 20-30% "sit on the sidelines" as you call it?  Why do you feel the need to rescue them, change their minds or win them over to your side?  I disagree that these folks are actually sitting on the sidelines, rather they are not embracing your viewpoint, and acting, volunteering or voting accordingly - to their detriment.  Not all can or will be enlightened.  Ever.

    The folks that make up the most vitriolic portion of the right wingers have wounds that run deeply into their individual psyches and that won't change with a few conversations.  That type of damage requires specialized repair which most of us couldn't offer.

    In other words, actually to quote two wise men:

    Let It Be.  Keep fighting the good fight.  (The liberal causes that is.)

    Peace,

    When everybody talkin' all at once no one can hear the wise one speak, So just be still and silence will provide the wisdom that you seek - by Tori del Allen

    by Dumas EagerSeton on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 02:27:56 PM PDT

    •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

      Last week I upset a liberal acquaintance of mine by saying that, as a rule, I no longer give much time to listen to the pov of self-identified right-wingers, teabaggers, libertarians, what have you. Tea Party and Libertarians might as well walk it like they talk it and try moving to Somalia, since that country doesn't have much of a government. Libertarian Paradise.

      But I was just being honest (I really have no personal animosity toward citizens of Somalia--it's just the example that comes to mind). I believe that most of the right wingers are trolls, that they are the opposite of interested in having a constructive discussion with those with whom they do not agree. Proof of this is that our economy is being held hostage over disaster relief.

      Hard to believe that the current GOP majority is even more batshit crazy than the freshman class of 1994--but, then again, the country is in far worse shape now than it was then.

      Senator McConnell was arrogant enough to declare that his objective was to ensure that the POTUS only got to serve one term. It is more of a priority to the GOP than jobs or decent health care for US citizens.

      When they declare who/what they are and what they mean to do-BELIEVE THEM.

      My acquaintance called me a radical, which amuses me. I just smiled and told her that I don't have to waste my time being so fair-minded to those who are not fair-minded, as I am confident that there are people such as she who will persist in that wild goose chase.

      Takes all types.

  •  Speaking for myself, I'm ANGRY TOO. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    laurnj

    This is just an affectation to believe that only the Tea Partiers are angry.  Fuck them.  I'm angry too.  You know who aren't angry?  People who have it just fine.

  •  So it's about us? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xajaxsingerx

    So why not just ask them point blank what it is about us that makes them angry?  Maybe once they do that, we can appeal to their sense of fair play (which they do have) and show them how their anger is misdirected--or else just point out that their anger doesn't mean we should have second-class status forced on us.

    The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

    by Panurge on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 09:27:36 PM PDT

  •  There is no such thing as an indoor cat (0+ / 0-)

    and anyone who imprisons a cat indoors and is then surprised when that cat disappears doesn't understand the meaning of the word escape.

    No cat is born to be an indoor cat.

  •  Who cares what drives the right? (0+ / 0-)

    As long as the trends hold, what passes for conservatism today will go the way of the Whigs by the mid 21st century.  Then soft science and "credulant" types can have all the fun they want stringing together whatever narrative they find most satisfying.

    In the end, most people won't care.

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