We the Underdogs: Capitalism and Democracy

I think most of America’s problems stem from two things.

Firstly, we are supposedly a capitalist country and democratic republic.  And yet, it seems as if capitalism and democracy, by their very nature, are diametrically opposed. Until the people that are supposed to represent us stop taking campaign money from business lobbyists and religious organizations, we can never hope to realize the freedoms we thought our constitution protected.

Capitalism is (supposedly/ideally) is a social system based on the principle of individual rights. Politically, it is the system of laissez-faire (freedom). Legally it is a system of objective laws (rule of law as opposed to rule of man). Economically, when such freedom is applied to the sphere of production its’ result is the free-market.(source)

Closer to the truth of the matter, yet still idealistic, may be the Wikipedia definition:

An economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital assets and goods. In a capitalist economy, investors are free to buy, sell, produce, and distribute goods and services with at most limited government control, at prices determined primarily by a competition for profit in a free market. Central elements of capitalism include capital accumulation, competitive markets, and a price system.

What capitalism seems to mean in America now, though, is closer to Jafar’s idea of the golden rule:

kyECWTX

It feels like everything is crony capitalism,

I found it rather interesting (in a sad and ironic way) how Ayn Rand described capitalism.

When I say “capitalism,” I mean a full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism—with a separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.

That’s all swell, but we really don’t have separation of church and state either. But this will never stop until politicians are disallowed from taking campaign money from lobbyists and churches. Until that happens, politicians will always be more influenced by what their contributors want then by what the people want.  Some people debate the meaning of the “separation of church and state” mentioned in constitution.  Some people, myself included, feel that parts of the constitution are obsolete. Sacrilege!  But I do wonder, how “ironclad” can it be if it can be “amended” so much?  I think regardless of what was intended then, I think today one can not write legislation for a whole country based on one religion, and with many politicians in the church’s pocket, that’s pretty much exactly what’s happening (think about how they’re trying to jam prayer back into school and force women’s reproductive rights issues.)

Anyway, it’s my opinion…my belief…that between the capitalism that keeps the poor poor–

Attempts at eliminating minimum wage and claiming it will “help” the poor (one can only guess at the ass backwards logic behind that one).  Forcing taxpayers to subsidize their profits by footing the bill for all the Walmart employees  on welfare or food stamps as a result of their pitifully inadequate wages, and let’s not forget the government bailing out Big Business–

–and the religious conservatives bent on forcing us all to follow their rules and code of morality through legislation (lobbyists giving money to influence representatives…and here money comes into play again) the majority of America is in a stranglehold.  Basically, if we’re not CEOs of the gas companies, we’re the schmucks who pay 3.69 a gallon because we have no real recourse.  After all,  our representatives’ campaigns are probably being financed by the gas company.  This is a very simplistic generalization, but you see what I’m getting at, and I am not the only person who feels the weight of being low man on the totem…    

Let me finish up by leaving you with another Ayn Rand quote to think on:

When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed.

Yup…we’re doomed.

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Just Sayin’

Came across this on Facebook this morning.  In the interest of brevity, I edited some of it out, but you can see the whole thing here.  Also, it should be noted that the validity of some of the facts contained in the following have been called into question. You can check out one guy’s rebuttal here.

Wal-Mart vs. The Morons
1. Americans spend $36,000,000 at Wal-Mart Every hour of every day. 2. This works out to $20,928 profit every minute!
4. Wal-Mart is bigger than Home Depot + Kroger + Target +Sears + CostcoK-Mart combined.
5. Wal-Mart employs 1.6 million people, is the world’s largest private employer, and most speak English.
6. Wal-Mart is the largest company in the history of the world.
7. Wal-Mart now sells more food than Kroger and Safeway combined…
8. During this same period, 31 big supermarket chains sought
bankruptcy…
11. This year 7.2 billion different purchasing experiences will occur at Wal-Mart stores. (Earth’s population is approximately 6.5 Billion.)
You may think that I am complaining, but I am really laying the ground work for suggesting that MAYBE we should hire the guys who run Wal-Mart to fix the economy.
To President Obama and all 535 voting members of the Legislature…
a. The U.S. Postal Service was established in 1775. You have had 234 years to get it right and it is broke.
b. Social Security was established in 1935. You have had 74 years to get it right and it is broke.
c. Fannie Mae was established in 1938. You have had 71 years to get it right and it is broke.
d. War on Poverty started in 1964. You have had 45 years to get it right; $1 trillion of our money is confiscated each year and transferred to”the poor” and they only want more.
e. Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965. You have had 44 years to get it right and they are broke.
You have FAILED in every “government service” you have shoved down our throats while overspending our tax dollars.
AND YOU WANT AMERICANS TO BELIEVE YOU CAN BE TRUSTED WITH A GOVERNMENT-RUN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM??
AND I know what’s wrong. We have lost our minds to “Political Correctness”
Someone please tell me what is wrong with all the people that
run this country!!!!!!
We’re “broke” and can’t help our own Seniors, Veterans, Orphans, Homeless, etc. and the last months we have provided aid to Haiti, Chile, and Turkey and now Pakistan ( the previous home of bin Laden). literally, BILLIONS of DOLLARS!!!
Our retired seniors living on a ‘fixed income’ receive no aid nor do they get any breaks.
AMERICA: a country where we have homeless without shelter, children going to bed hungry, elderly going without needed medicines, and mentally ill without treatment, etc.

What I want to point out really has more to do with the attitude of the piece than with any specific “facts” represented within.  One passage in particular really rubbed me the wrong way.
Let’s look specifically at this passage:
We’re “broke” and can’t help our own Seniors, Veterans, Orphans, Homeless, etc. and the last months we have provided aid to Haiti, Chile, and Turkey and now Pakistan ( the previous home of bin Laden). literally, BILLIONS of DOLLARS!!!
Our retired seniors living on a ‘fixed income’ receive no aid nor do they get any breaks.
AMERICA: a country where we have homeless without shelter, children going to bed hungry, elderly going without needed medicines, and mentally ill without treatment, etc.
This would mean so much more if the people purporting this supposed injustice actually gave a shit. I don’t think it’s that we “can’t” help our own people… I think the problem is that many people in this country (specifically the “haves,” as opposed to the “have nots”) have just as much disdain for and issues with helping “our own” people as they do those of other countries.  There’s this perception that if you’re poor in American, it’s because you are lazy.  It’s evident in all the snide remarks about people on “welfare” and food stamps I see all over social media.  Don’t believe me?  The writer of this piece expressed some of that disdain with his claim:
$1 trillion of our money is confiscated each year and transferred to”the poor” and they only want more.
I’d like to take his little air quotes and shove them up his ass.  Sure, there are many people that milk the system.  But there are just as many people who try to do things to improve their situation and are rewarded with a reduction in help from the government.  If you’re pissed that people are being lazy, maybe you should re-examine the way the government rewards the laziness more than it does people who are trying to get out of the hole.   You can go to work, make a pittance, and lose your food stamps, yet if you stay home and sit on your ass, you will keep receiving the full amount.   So why would someone who is poor and needs all the help they can get want to be penalized for trying to do the right thing?
That aside, let’s take a minute to examine the self-important attitude and complete lack of compassion directed towards the poor in this country, as shown in just that single statement.  Apparently the writer has a better idea of how to decide who is worthy of help in this country and who is not.  The very “poor” people he decries for sucking up all the “confiscated” money may well be the parents of the “children going to bed hungry,” or the “elderly without needed medicine.”
Anyway, that said, I believe the article has some valid points.  The amount of money congress makes (and they can approve their own “automatic raises”) is obscene, and yet this country’s budget is in the toilet.   Maybe we should focus on changing that before passing judgment on and withholding aid from “the poor,” less fortunate people of our country.  Just sayin’.

On My Little Pony and “Being Fat”

Random thoughts, questions, and ideas for the day, punctuated with applicable pix of cats.

On My Little Pony…

Its-dangerous-to-go-alone-my-little-pony-friendship-is-magic-30730621-955-836

Could someone please explain to me why I am tearing up at an episode of My Little Pony this afternoon?

...is it because Neeners thought Pony "Friendship is Magic?"

…is it because Neeners thought pony “Friendship is Magic?”

Or…

...because I haven't yet realized my dreams of building a pony army to achieve world domination?

…because I haven’t yet realized my dreams of building a pony army to achieve world domination?

On “being fat…”

KY Walmart cat dares you to steal his 'lectric cart...

KY Walmart cat dares you to steal his ‘lectric cart…

I’m still struggling with that ten or so stubborn pounds that I gained back after last Christmas.  I’ve been watching re-runs of The Biggest Loser.  Despite my general distaste for most reality shows, I find this show fascinating.  It’s also eye-opening.  Give me a second to explain myself.  I try not to judge people…but I also think it’s natural to an extent.  Part of the reason I am so disgusted with the state of the population when I walk through my local Walmart is the impression I get that many of these people just don’t care enough to make the choices they need to be healthy.  It’s easier, and let’s face it, more enjoyable, to eat whatever, whenever, and sit on your ass and watch TV, than it is to get up and exercise, and also to exercise portion control and selective eating.  I know it is!  I feel that way too.  I miss being sixteen, and not giving a shit what I ate or how much.  But I also give myself enough credit to say, “hey, this is getting out of hand,” before it gets too out of hand.

That said, watching this show has not only inspired me to work harder for my own goals (if these people can muster the strength and courage to do it, I certainly can,) it has reconnected me to the feelings of despair and guilt and shame a lot of overweight people feel.   I think these feelings get buried, and people who are not overweight do not always realize those feelings exist.

I mean, I wasn’t intending to blog about weight loss or fitness today, but I stumbled upon one of today’s Freshly Pressed and it sort of cinched some ideas in my head.

I totally understand and respect this guy’s point of view.  Regardless of my feelings about weight and health, I do not offer my opinions on someone else’s body unless they ask me.  I love to share the things I’ve done that make me feel good and have been successful for me.  But I only talk about them in terms of myself, and usually only after the other person broaches the subject.  Still, this post reminded me that I would do well to try to remain empathetic and open minded to the feelings of others.

I liken it to when people offer me their unsolicited opinions and “medical” advice about how smoking is bad for me and I should quit.  Basically, whether it’s weight or smoking, a choice in music, clothing, sexual orientation…whatever…if it doesn’t affect you directly, and the person in question does not ask for your opinion, you offering your opinion and advice like you’re giving them the keys to the universe is just arrogant and makes you look like an ass.  Keep it to yourself!

On using Facebook to find your birth mom or child…

In just a few short weeks I’ve seen more and more of this.  Maybe I just can’t understand because I have always had my parents… two sets actually.  But I wonder why all of a sudden this boom in people looking for their birth mothers.   If you are raised your whole life by one set of parents and then you find out you’re adopted, I’m sure most of you would agree that your adoptive parents are still your parents.  So what causes the drive to meet what amounts to a perfect stranger?  So many things would go through my mind.  If I found out my parents were not biologically my parents, how would I feel?  I’m really not even sure.  It’s hard to imagine (especially given that I look so much like my mother.) Would I need or want to search for my birth parents?  What if they didn’t want to meet me?  What if they were in jail, or junkies, or dead?  Would finding that out be even worse than not knowing?

Well, this post certainly went from short and light, to long-winded and heavy.  To lighten the mood back up, I give you… Methos with his face jammed into a pillow while he sleeps.

"Oh, da hoomanity!"   I think I'll go back to thinking about ponies.

“Oh, da hoomanity!” I think I’ll go back to thinking about ponies.

Bah! Humbug! Homesick for the Holidays

Ah, the smell of BBQ, like a campfire in the fall.  My Peppermint Patty coffee creamer.  The joys of experiencing the holiday through my toddler’s eyes…

The ridiculous crowds at Walmart, the rude drivers, the stress of not having enough money to buy groceries, let alone presents…

Oh, and it’s currently 69 degrees outside.  Bah! Humbug!

But all of this I could handle if I didn’t feel so down and out.  The holidays are drawing inexorably nigh and it’s looking less and less like I’m going to make it home to see my family.  I was going to hitch a ride with my uncle in his motor home (he generously offered last year,) but he told me they had planned on taking the car this year.  This was a few weeks ago, and he said if they changed their minds, of course we could ride with them…  But it’s hard enough for my husband to get time off for the holidays ahead of time, so the closer the holidays approach before we ask, the less likely he is to be allowed off of work.  Last year, as we were the only one’s whose family is almost exclusively (with the exception of my uncle) out of state, he was the only one of his coworkers who did not get to spend Christmas with his family…any of them, because the baby and I flew home by ourselves (oh, holy night…mare that I will never repeat!)  He had off Christmas of course, but as we live 800 miles away from family, one day just isn’t sufficient travel time.

If my uncle were able to take the motor home to MD this year, I’d tell Hubby to tell his boss that he was takin’ off, and tough titty said the kitty if they didn’t like it.  It’s not right.  Seems to me they could spare him for a few days, as everyone else at his job generally stays instate.

“Tough Titty…” (Tough Kitty)

It’s bad enough I only see my parents like 3 times a year now (and consequently, they only see their granddaughter 3 times a year.)  It’s killing me, and I know it’s killing my mom.

I miss my family and I want to move back home… but I also don’t want to.  Simply put, I’d only move back to MD because most of the family is there.  Frankly, I don’t like what the place has become.  I feel safer out here with the good ol’ redneck, racist, ignorant, fat hillbillies than I would back home where I’d fear getting mugged going to the freakin’ Wawa.  I realize part of this is perception, and that there is crime everywhere…  but according to my perception, it seems like the people out here are more ignorant than actually malicious.  Prime example; last year, in my home state, a guy I went to school with was stabbed to death in his own apartment when a seventeen year old hood broke in to steal the gun my classmate had for home protection.  Did I mention he knew the kid from around the neighborhood?  Did I also mention this guy was legally blind?  Who the fuck stabs a blind guy?

But back to the point, suffice it to say this conflict of feeling is causing me some distress…

Were we to magically discover hubby had the time off of work, thus allowing us the opportunity to drive ourselves home, then there’s the question of the $300 dollars in gas we’d likely need to get there– one way.  Would our POS Explorer even make it that far?

Assuming we’re grounded and we just have to accept it, how now am I going to afford to get everyone I want to gifts?  Our parents usually understand if we can’t afford to get them anything, but I like to buy for my sisters, and then their are my nieces and nephews, and my best friend’s kids, and my cousin’s kid…

Obviously I am not the first person to observe with no small trace of irony that this holiday is not supposed to be this stressful.

Yet I feel blue, and despite what I intellectually know and what I would tell others in my position, I feel like I deserve a big lump of coal in my stocking for not being able to give my family, and most importantly, my child, the things I want to be able to give them this holiday season.

Yeah, yeah, I know.  That’s not what the holiday is about, if they really care about us, they’ll understand, and all the baby needs is love…

So why do I still feel like a giant, disappointing piece of crap?

Bah! Humbug!