Category Archives: Politics

A Guaranteed Basic Income?

Guaranteeing A Basic Income

Hmmm… I know that there are many, many problems with this ‘crazy’ idea. But I like it. I like the sheer audacity of this kind of idea. Obviously, it would cause many conservatives to implode but if you read the entire short article, it might give them pause, too.

As I’ve previously mentioned, it horrifies me that we don’t have a guaranteed social safety net in place for everyone. Or health care for everyone. Oh, and don’t forget education.

“If investments in the banks fail, ‘Oh, it’s a tragedy,’ but if people die of hunger or don’t have food or health, nothing happens. This is our crisis today.” – that crazy Pope Francis telling it like it is.

06172014 To Become Again What We Never Were…

I made this picture for a friend of a friend on social media. He was evidently mocking an argument, using the Stephen Colbert’s persona from “The Colbert Report.”

The words on the picture are his and they resonated with me, as one of my common refrains is that people should desist from saying they wish things would go back to the way they were.

Whenever that supposedly was!

We are smarter now, live longer, and enjoy more social and economic liberties than ever before in our world. It is in our hands to make the world we want. Whatever we believe the world once was, we have the opportunity to reshape it to our liking. For everyone – not just with your group.

 

08032014 Baptistan (Update 08 2014)

                    ( Picture without caption, modified with my caption from Petr Kratochvil, http://www.publicdomainpictures.net )

I just wanted a post to identify the word “Baptistan.” I saw it used somewhere recently, or I dreamed I did.

It was being used derisively in regards to politicians and religious zealots who would seek to demand that their extremist views be the law of the land. (Evocative of the crazy fundamentalists found elsewhere in the world.)

-X

08092012 Women As Clergy

Ricky Gervais:

“Suggesting I hate people with religion because I hate religion, is like suggesting I hate people with cancer because I hate cancer.”

“On my Twitter feed, I express MY feelings. If that hurts YOUR feelings you should immediately unfollow or block. Hope that helps 🙂 ”

Whether it is my place to judge, I have the ability to share my thoughts here, just as if you and I were having a conversation. Under that light, it is is harder to be so demanding about the requirements of justifications, explanations, or accountability. I’m not singling out a specific religion and I’m the first to admit that each of us has our own opinion about the matter at hand. Where religion lives, opinion is the rule, although most of us wish to paint our beliefs as if they were infinitely perfect.

“Assuming they ever had one,  a person will lose his or her mind when religion walks into the room.” -x

I’ve written before in this blog about my lack of enthusiasm for religions or denominations which do not allow women to be clergy. In my opinion, all of them are critically wounded and flawed. Having visited many, many types of churches, I can still say that some of my disfavor with modern churches and dogma is the lack of objection toward religions which prohibit women from being clergy.

The religions which do so have a long and complex rationalization for it and their ongoing campaigns have surprisingly not been stripped entirely of their ability to convince women to willingly submit to its ongoing existence.  I know many women who are members of such denominations; many are fiercely loyal to their churches, despite being relegated to a “lesser” status. Apparently, many women don’t feel “lesser” as members of these churches.They each have found a way to accept it and persist in their application of loyalty toward their churches. I’m fascinated by this. I know that many churches are wrestling heavily with this issue and that many women are beginning to agree with me.

I’ve no doubt that in the future, churches which unilaterally prohibit women from being clergy will change their dogma or wither away – and rightly so. The historical arc of this development is undeniable, in my opinion and after years of watching.

But even if churches willingly or unwillingly have women clergy, there will still be those who would want to continue the old traditions, even if no longer accepted.

I personally can’t attend any church which prohibits me from being clergy based on physical characteristics. It’s hard for me to understand anyone who would knowingly allow it in their own case, either.

 

Registration Day Voting or Election Day Registration (EDR)

It is an odd thing that people in many states can register to vote on election day itself. It blows people’s minds. In some other states, you can register to vote and then vote at the same time ahead of the election.Imagine being able to get your friends to go with you to both sign up and vote at the same time. It would eliminate much of the procrastination people tend to exercise about registering to vote.

Studies have shown that states that allow election day voter registration have a much higher voter turnout than states that don’t. There are several states which allow election day registration.

North Dakota has no voter registration laws at all. Think about that one, especially when so many of us live in states where the politicians still attempt to pass laws to affect how minorities or certain demographics have the ability to vote.

 

Disallowing Convicted Criminals The Right To Vote Is Wrong

“Just to be clear, I think that no one’s right to vote should be abridged – ever. The potential abuse and demand for exemptions is arbitrary.” -x

Felony Record Vs. Voting Rights Map

USA Today Article on Voting Rights Changes

“There is no rational reason to take away someone’s voting rights for life just because they’ve committed a crime, especially after they’ve completed their sentence and made amends.” Attorney General Eric Holder

“A study by a parole commission in Florida found that formerly incarcerated people banned from voting were three times as likely to re-offend compared to those who were allowed to vote…” This seems logical to me, as being denied the right to participate in the most basic function of democracy is a deplorable way to further convince someone of their worthlessness. (Not all felons are murderers, either, so avoid using the worst case scenario to justify denying someone the right to vote.)

Telling someone he or she can’t vote while in prison is one thing, but denying them the right to ever vote again after paying for their crimes is one of the most asinine things I can think of. The fact that in many states the whim of the governor determines who can vote or not is dumb politics. Since felonies are defined by lawmakers and are subject to the capricious whims of politicians, anything can be made to be felonious, under any pretext, to strip someone or a group of their right to vote.

For those of you who don’t know, much of the body of these laws are remnants of the aftermath of the Civil War and Voting Rights for Blacks in the South. Reassigning crimes as felonious allowed whites to disenfranchise blacks in large numbers. I know that many readers will not believe this until they go search for themselves. But it’s true.

PS: If I were in charge, even those currently in prison would get to vote. And they’d vote where they are incarcerated, giving them a local voice which would require some accountability from the places where prisons are located.

 

 

 

06082014 Minimum Wage (And Petitions)

“I used to work at McDonalds making minimum wage. You know what that means when someone pays you minimum wage? You know what your boss was trying to say? It’s like “Hey if  I could pay you less, I would, but it’s against the law.” – Chris Rock

A signature collector rang the doorbell yesterday, on a nice quiet Sunday afternoon.

His task was to collect signatures for a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage in Arkansas. Of course I signed it. Not just because I agree with the particular initiative, but also because I get so weary of special interests bludgeoning the initiative process unfairly.

(To be clear, I very much endorse minimum wage increases, especially ones tied to ‘real’ economic indexes.)

As weird as it sounds, I always sign petitions, even if I disagree, believe it or not. I say let the democratic process have its chance. If I sign a petition with which I disagree, I had better make sure to get to the polls to vote against it, hadn’t I? Many people I know foam at the mouth when confronted with petitions they disagree with.

The minimum wage arguments are particularly odd to watch, as most people against such attempts are conservative.

 

Minimum Wage, Labor Efficiency and The Idiocy of Not Preparing Ourselves

Start with the premise that every adult goes to college, gets a degree, stays healthy and fulfills the imagined expectations of the steps necessary to achieve the American dream. Every single adult. I know it is a far-fetched premise, but imagine it – or even a future where most adults enter the job market with great educations and equal footing to the job market. Our push toward more education, health and opportunities ultimately results in just such a scenario if we can ever come together and agree upon a common implementation for access to resources.

How do we decide who mops the floors, cooks and delivers the pizza, works at Subway, or digs the ditches? How do continue to pay them less than is needed to sustain themselves?

We could no longer justify a terrible minimum wage. No one would “deserve” it. If we are still able to choose our field of work, most people would choose to do the work that traditionally has been identified as more meaningful. (Some people tell themselves that others have earned or somehow deserve their lower economic place in life. I know you find that hard to believe – that someone could be so dumb, right? Maybe laziness is a factor for some people, but certainly not everyone?) Implicit in this context is the idea that we are demeaning those who do service jobs by assigning their functions to the column of “less important.”

Factor in that we have continued to automate manufacturing and other sectors to such a degree that labor is at a massive surplus. Throw in the idea that we will still have a large population, one which grows increasingly old as health care, diet and lifestyle make further significant inroads toward human longevity.

Since people live longer, they retire later, further minimizing the job pool for those earning their degrees and looking for a spot to work, regardless of pay. No one is to blame as younger adults have no method of earning a living in the way that our ancestors did.

How do we “pay” those who have no means of employment? If we don’t pay them and no jobs are available, how do we fund a system to sustain them?

For those who do work, why would we allow a system of pay that cannot sustain them in the economy? Again, someone has to perform the service jobs and other functions that can’t be done by machines. If people are allowed to choose careers, then we will undoubtedly have a role reversal toward those who are willing to do the service economy jobs that are currently looked down upon by many people. It is indeed a strange possibility to imagine that well-educated people could and would choose occupations that are otherwise considered lower class in our current system.

First Step Toward Gay Marriage in Arkansas

Finally, after years of me insisting it was inevitable, a judge in Arkansas ruled that bans on gay marriage were unconstitutional. He mentioned, among other things, the 2004 amendment passed here in Arkansas. Whether the appeal is strong or successful, the inevitable tide has turned. I am glad to be alive to see another indicator that our society is moving toward acceptance and inclusion. Some people have not reacted well to the confidence I’ve shown toward this social justice issue, even though history demonstrates that we are moving toward a very progressive society, whether individuals want it or not.

Whatever your opinion, be honest and rational about it and go on about your normal life and treat people like you want to be treated. The moon is not going to crash into the earth tomorrow and there isn’t going to be a gay army running to grab you away from your regular life.

10 years is a long time ago. The stats indicate that 3/4 of the population voted for the amendment. Without getting bogged down in the details, it amuses me intellectually to see so many people trot out the “will of the majority” argument, as if majority arguments are constitutional. Were it so, the status quo of any social issue would remain stagnant: women wouldn’t vote and some minorities still would be denied the right to vote, equal housing, etc.

I’ve from a declining area of Arkansas. Were this area in control of the law, there would be very little social justice in Arkansas. People insist that life must remain as it is. All change is thrust upon them involuntarily and every imaginable argument is made to fight social equality. For many, much of the argument toward maintaining the status quo is based on their own interpretation of religion. That people violently disagree on what religion indicates is immaterial to them. That our society is based on a system of secular laws that cannot be dictated by religion is anathema to them. They don’t “get it.” I would hate to be accountable to any dogma that encourages me to marginalize other people, regardless of whatever ‘sin’ they might be perceived to be committing.

(People do “get” that some religious folk have a problem with homosexuality and that even some don’t believe that homosexuality is not a choice. We really do. It would be easier to get our heads around it if most or almost all religious people shared a similar outlook – but they don’t. If people within the same denominations of a religion can’t agree, then I’ll go out on a limb and add that agreement is almost impossible in general society, too.  It’s not a question of ‘sin,’ but rather one of law. Our society is secular and we can’t limit one group’s options because of our religious beliefs. There has to be an overwhelming justification for any limitations based on discrimination. Then again, some people still believe that world is flat and that the planet is a few thousand years old. We need to listen to these people talk and then, without comment, turn our attention to people who are engaging meaningfully in our world.)

The reactions are going to be strong for many people. I’ll hear the same cliched and tired logic from those who oppose social change. The volume will proportionally increase as the validity of their claims decrease. But it will be interesting.

Decades after forced integration of schools and laws designed to FORCE people to comply with race equality issues, we still see racism and subtext to disparage minorities. It will be the same with gay marriage. Those who resent it will fume and fight the permanent change in attitude now required to be considered civil in our society. But time cures these people of their resistance. Even if their bitterness sticks with them, it will lessen with the next generation until it is a footnote in history.

In a few years, people will forget what all the fuss is about. Gays will be marrying, divorcing and proceeding on with their own private lives, just all we all do now. If you disagree with gay marriage, chances are that you won’t remember the sting so clearly. You will wonder why it was such a big deal at the time. That is how all social justice issues develop. After huge exaggeration and upheaval, the issue settles into a background concern.

The Same Stupid Arguments

To be clear, even an implication of a criticism toward one member of a group does not imply equal condemnation toward any other member, nor does a criticism regarding one aspect of a specific person or idea reflect on all possible affiliations of said person or idea.” 

(If I say I don’t like someone’s choice of shoes, it doesn’t mean I don’t like how they slice their cheese, nor that I hate everyone who wears the shoe in question or whether they wear shoes at all.)

If I criticize someone, it is possible that person could be or has been: a veteran, a husband or wife, a conservative or liberal, a fisherman, a politician, a collegiate sports fan, a christian, or a rodeo clown. Criticizing an aspect of someone’s life does not allow the careless reader to expand any such criticism toward all other members of the same group, membership, or interest – or even to stretch it inappropriately to include attributes or issues not even mentioned in context to the criticism.

For example, if I criticize a politician for being dishonest in the context of his policies, nowhere in my criticism is the fact that he is a veteran mentioned. It is immaterial to my argument. I’m not condemning other veterans, either. Likewise, if I point out that a female sports coach needs to focus more on academics, I’m not condemning her or any other woman – I’m discussing er commitment to academics. If a gay man hits my car and I sue him, I’m not suing him because he’s gay, I’m suing him because he was driving blind-folded in reverse, at night, with no headlights.

There are several argument fallacies that apply to this of idiocy:
Argumentum ad hominem, Confirmation bias, Ecological fallacy, Fallacy of quoting out of context, Red herring, Ignoratio elenchi…

No matter how harshly I might criticize someone’s political leanings or policy, someone’s possible status as a veteran is irrelevant, as his attendance at Harvard or the University of Oklahoma. It boggles my mind how stupidly people jump to say that I’m criticizing a person based on a criteria that the person objecting to has erroneously included in his argument. 

If you’re going to reframe an argument, at least try to do so properly – or in such a crazy fashion that no one will notice that you’ve pulled a fast one on everyone.