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MSNBC’s left leaning prime time shows have become must see tv for me each night for the past 3 or 4 years. Chris Matthews on Hardball, Chris Hayes on All In, and Rachel Maddow host of Maddow Blog. Of course the network has never been perfect but they distinguished themselves from other cable news networks by offering a broad range of views and it was the only cable news network to have more than one minority host. The channel’s minority hosts were Al Sharpton, Joy Ann Reid, Melissa Harris Perry, Karen Finney, Touré, Alex Wagner, and Jose Diaz-Balart. It was pretty impressive to find that kind of diversity on cable news. The network also had a lot of minority contributors like Jonathan Capehart, Eugene Robinson, and Michael Steele (just to name a few). All of these people brought a unique intelligent perspective that was lacking on the other networks. Almost a year ago I started to see signs that the network wanted to downplay the progressive perspective that made the network enjoyable for liberals like me. Hardball with Chris Matthews decided to get behind GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul and predicted Rand would be the republican nominee for 2016. Chris heaped praise upon Rand and went after the other GOP hopefuls with tough but fair criticism. I didn’t understand this prediction and I thought it was very strange for a progressive network to give a conservative presidential candidate great press. Then after the Ferguson riots occurred the network covered some other similar situations where a police officer shot and killed an unarmed African American.
Then I noticed that the network stopped covering “black lives matters” protest and did not cover police shootings at all after a point. That’s when I really started paying attention because that change was very noticeable. Then came the firing and demotions of all of the network’s minority hosts. Joy Reid’s show started to pickup viewers even though they gave her a terrible time slot (3pm). I loved her show and she was a complete pro. She made it look easy and that isn’t an easy thing to do. Not too long after giving her a show, they abruptly canceled it and never really gave a coherent reason for the cancellation. She still had a contract with the network so they demoted her to “paid contributor” (aka pundit). Then Karen’s show disappeared. The show Touré hosted got canceled. Alex Wagner got canceled, Jose Diaz-Blart’s show disappeared with no warning or explanation, and Al Sharpton’s daily show at 6pm got canceled, then brought back once a week on Sundays, but not every Sunday (weird right?). The impressive roster of minority contributors slowly began to shrink as well.
Then they came after Melissa Harris Perry and her amazing Sunday show. At first they didn’t cancel her show. They just didn’t put it on the schedule at all for a long time until she sent them an email voicing her frustration with the executives
and programing director snubbing her and not giving her an answer as to when they were going to put her show back in the lineup. MSNBC knew she wasn’t going to go quietly so they told her she could get her show back for a few weeks but she couldn’t use any of her team, she couldn’t decided what to cover, and the network said they will pick the show’s panel. Melissa Harris Perry has a masters degree in political science, she’s a professor at Wake Forrest and has taught political science at Princeton and Tulane University. Obviously she knows a great deal about politics and has hosted a successful show for years. To ignore her talent and expertise and demote her to “news reader” is a huge insult. She turned them down and then things got interesting (read more about this at the bottom of this post).
All of those events have upset every progressive viewer who supported the network and looked to them for commentary on a daily basis. Melissa was the last minority host to get screwed over by MSNBC. Obviously the network has decided that they no longer want
minority viewers, and have set a course to be more like Fox News. Hardball with Chris Matthews is almost unwatchable now. He constantly defends Donald Trump. After two African American protesters were physically assaulted, spat upon, and called a slue of racial slurs, Chris Matthews said the Trump campaign look like it was “full of joy” and instead of calling Trump a racist, Chris calls him a nationalist who loves his country. Chris has also added a new contributor that he likes to book over and over again, and her name is Ann Coulter. So they get rid of the minorities and replace them with racist, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic far right wing nut Ann Coulter. Yesterday on Hardball she said America needs to close the border before “Latin American rape culture” comes over to the United States. This is the kind of ignorance that she spouts every chance she gets, so I wasn’t surprised she said that. But I was absolutely shocked at Chris’s reaction. He smiled and almost chuckled and didn’t challenge Ann’s racist statement at all. He seemed to enjoy it.
I don’t know why MSNBC decided to insult the entire African American community and marginalize their only Latino host, but it is clear that they no longer care. Now they invite white pundits to come on and explain the “black vote” just like their idols Fox News. I could list hundreds of incidents like the few I’ve explained in this post but to sum all of them up with one sentence, I’d say “MSNBC has created the 2016 version of Jim Crow where white men have the only opinions they’re interested in, and blacks need not apply”.
Melissa Harris Perry’s letter to her show contributors:
While listening to some very early blues players music on youtube a while ago I had an inspirational thought that made me feel even more connected to the music because of the rough history my people have had in this country. I thought about the vileness of slavery, the hell of Jim Crow, the rough journey we’ve taken from being sold as slaves to where we are now… a free people with full constitutional rights. While listening to Arthur Crudup literally inventing a new genre of music it makes that journey seem even more remarkable to me. A very small number of oppressed black people 1 generation removed from slavery creating new art-forms that have become wildly popular all over the world. Blues, rock, jazz, R&B, etc all created in a country that officially amended our constitution counting black people as 1/5th of a person. Just that thought alone inspired me. If musical pioneers like Arthur Crudup could achieve so much with so little, it makes me feel that anything is possible regardless of your current circumstances. Unfortunately someone read my inspirational comment and got offended by it. This person read it and thought what I wrote was racist. It literally makes no sense so I decided to do a print-screen and share the exchange with everyone. Here’s the full conversation so you can decide for yourself. I didn’t edit anything out or add anything in. I did blur his name and picture because I thought it was the right thing to do.
Interesting right? I’ve never had anyone tell me I should be thankful for slavery. That is definitely a first. After the last comment above, I informed him that I would love to share our conversation on my blog which lead him to quickly delete his side of the conversation. I figured something like that might happen so I made sure I copied everything just in case. It’s weird how he saw my comment as being racist against whites. History is history. Slavery happened, Jim Crow happened, lynchings happened, the kkk happened. Using those very hard times as a marker for progress shouldn’t upset anyone and it certainly doesn’t make someone a racist for talking about it. Especially when someone talks about it in an inspirational way like I did. Americans shouldn’t be ashamed of the progress we’ve made. We should talk about it more in my opinion. That’s a pretty stark contrast from then to now. That should be celebrated. Even-though we still have inequality within our institutions we can overcome that as well. Just like the abolishment of slavery, just like ending Jim Crow, just like gaining amendments to protect our right to vote. There’s always progress to be made. In my opinion, I think he knew what he was saying wasn’t right. He probably had some time to think about it and that may have lead him to come back, read it again, and delete it. Misunderstandings happen all the time and we’re all imperfect human beings, so I don’t think any of this makes him a bad person. But that’s just my opinion.
After I posted this blog I got another comment from the same person. Apparently I have angered him. He wanted to call me a racial slur but he stopped himself and left hints about the slur he had in mind instead. So here’s the latest:
Here’s the latest developments (2/2/2016). This guy came back and deleted his comment about calling me a racial slur (the one from the 1st update), then tried to pretend he never said anything about a racial slur, and somehow I hallucinated the entire thing. He should have known I was going to screenshot the comment as soon as he posted it. It was only up for 20 seconds but I was quick enough to grab it. Here’s how it went:
After this last comment he decided he had enough and deleted everything again. People don’t know how to react when they are angry and lashing out but you are cool, calm, and rational. They end up looking like the irrational crazy person, which is what they are usually. When you’re smart, confident in your message, and honest about your point of view, there’s no need for anything extra like insults, slurs, and put-downs. Whenever I engage with people who try to attack me personally instead of debating the merits of my ideas, I try to keep that in mind. It’s hard not to call people like him assholes, but I know measured restraint is always the better option.
Spoken word artist Crystal Valentine performs a very emotionally charged poem titled “Black Privilege” in a poetry slam competition. One of the most moving lines in her poem tackled the issue of police brutality against black men, and the scourge of gun violence taking way too many young promising lives in urban communities. She says “Black privilege is me having already memorized my nephew’s eulogy, my brother’s eulogy, my father’s eulogy, my unconceived child’s eulogy. Black privilege is me thinking my sister’s name is safe from that list.” Valentine is one of six performing poets who represented NYU at the poetry slam this year. Her team ended up winning which was no surprise to anyone who listened to her performance.
Ms Valentine makes me proud to be part of a resilient culture who takes oppression and intolerance and turns it into extraordinary talent and beautiful artistry. If you’re not moved by her amazing 3 minute video clip, you should contact a doctor immediately because something is seriously wrong with you. She poured her heart out on that stage layering vulnerability on top of confidence on top of self critical introspection. There aren’t many people who can touch your soul with just a few words. That’s power. That’s talent. That’s the power of blackness.
Conservative media and the GOP crowned their newest hero over this past week, and his name is Cliven Bundy. Mr Bundy is a Nevada rancher who had a very tense armed standoff with government officials trying to collect money he rightfully owed to the US government for 20 years worth of grazing fees that he refused to pay. Fox News and every single conservative media outlet rushed to Mr Bundy’s side very quickly because they saw an opportunity to exploit the situation and feed it to their base as big bad Obama government persecuting a hard working man who’s done nothing wrong. Casting Mr Bundy as a “maker” instead of a “taker”… which is ironic because Mr Bundy is so obviously a “taker” but I’ll explain that a little later in my post. First let’s go over the facts about the situation and the man at the center of it.
1. Mr. Bundy has been grazing his cattle on government owned land for 20 years without paying the proper fees that ALL ranchers have to pay. Accumulating for the past 20 years these fees add up to approximately $1 million. When normal American’s duck taxes and refuse to pay their bills, they get liens, repossessions, court judgments, and property seized. If a bank repossess someone’s home and the occupant refuses to leave, the bank will show up with an armed Sheriff and they will drag you out and arrest you for not complying.
2. Instead of handling this tax/fee dispute in court, Mr Bundy goes on Fox News and makes a call for armed anti-government militia men to come to his ranch with their guns to help him in an armed confrontation with the Bureau of Land Management so he can continue to steal from the government with no consequences.
3. When the government officials from the Bureau of Land Management came to seise Mr Bundy’s cattle for the 20 years of nonpayment and trespassing on government owned land they were met with heavily armed militiamen who watched Fox News and listened to Sean Hannity’s and Mr Bundy’s call for assistance. They had snipers pointing sniper rifles directly at law enforcement. Everyone who came to Bundy’s ranch had guns pointing at law enforcement… and here’s the unbelievable part, NO ONE GOT ARRESTED. Not one person was put in handcuffs.
4. Mr Bundy makes easily confirmable lies in numerous interviews but all of conservative media decided to ignore these warning signs that this man is dishonest and is misrepresenting himself and his situation. One of the biggest lies was about how long his family owned the ranch. He told Fox and all the others that his family has been on that land since the 1800’s, when county records clearly state that his family only purchased the land sometime in the 1980’s.
5. Mr Bundy says in an interview that he doesn’t recognize the authority of the United States government. Then he holds a victory rally and brings a state sheriff on stage to berate him for 20 minutes while the crowd cheers him on. He tells the sheriff and every other county sheriff in the country that they need to “disarm government bureaucrats” and if they couldn’t do the job then the citizens need to take-up arms against them just like he did. This was his third public on air call to violence… armed violence against law enforcement. The sheriff on stage listened to all of this and did nothing.
After going over the 5 factual points I’ve made, please tell me how anyone could see this man as a hero. Everything he’s done is supposed to be the stuff that conservatives are against. He doesn’t pay his debts. He does not follow the law. He shows contempt for law enforcement. He lies very easily. He wants the government to provide free grazing land for his cattle. He makes anti-American statements and says he does not consider himself as part of America. All of this and somehow conservative media loved this man. Can you imagine if a black man went on television calling for armed assistance to settle a dispute with the government? If a group of black men pointed guns and sniper rifles at law enforcement? Everyone knows exactly what would happen if Bundy was black.
Then Mr Bundy does an interview with The New York Times and decides to share his views on “the Negro”. I won’t paraphrase because you need to read his entire statement:
“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro. I recall driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do. And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do? They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.” – Cliven Bundy **video of him saying all of this is at the bottom of this page**
Yes, that was a direct quote. Mr Bundy’s comments are not only uninformed and blatantly racist… they are horrible, they are vile, they are disgusting, they are ignorant, moronic, vulgar, crass, imbecilic, dumb, idiotic and completely indefensible. What sane person with a working brain wonders if “the negro” was happier being a slave? Who thinks like that? And he has the nerve to talk about black people being on government assistance when he’s been receiving government subsidized grazing fees for 20 years and even with the huge government subsidies that only charges him 25% of the fair market price for grazing cattle, he can’t even pay that. I almost can’t blame him for thinking that black people are all on welfare, all living in government housing, all from single parent homes, all unemployed or in jail. He believes this because Fox News, conservative pundits, conservative media, Tea Party & GOP legislators are constantly pushing those false racist views. That’s why they have embraced people like Bundy over and over again. Remember Ted Nugent? He’s the no talent has-been “rockstar” that the Tea Party and conservative media embrased even after making racist and violent comments about the president. He called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel” in an interview. After Nugent learned that Obama won the election he said “Pimps whores & welfare brats & their soulless supporters have a president to destroy America.” Nugent told a CNN reporter that either Americans can vote Obama out of office or he can suck on my machine gun. Even after making these idiotic comments and violent threats republican congressman Steve Stockman invited Ted to attend the President’s State of the Union address as his guest. Ted even campaigned for Texas GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott. You are the company you keep.
Remember the Duck Dynasty guy? Phil Robertson made some really stupid racist remarks in an interview saying that black people were happy and singing picking cotton during segregation until the government came along with civil rights and gave all blacks welfare. After making those blatantly racist comments conservative media, the Tea Party, and the GOP all rallied around him and he became their hero. Again, you are the company you keep.
Remember George Zimmerman? He shoots and kills an unarmed teen after racially profiling him. Fox and conservative media rallied around Zimmerman… especially Hannity. A man that killed an unarmed teen became a hero to them. Then after the trial was over and he got acquitted Fox and conservative media was shocked and surprised when Zimmerman’s ex wife had to call 911 because he threatened her and her dad with a loaded gun. Since the Trayvon trial Mr Zimmerman has had 4 different incidents with law enforcement. Again, you are the company you keep.
I’m pointing out Ted Nugent, George Zimmerman, and Phil Robertson because it’s becoming a pattern for conservatives to hero worship these racist assholes. When it happens over and over again you can’t ignore it or say those are coincidental isolated incidents. The racism has become a very visible part of the conservative movement. Cliven Bundy is just the latest in a series that will keep repeating itself. Next month I’ll be blogging about the new conservative hero that turns out to be racist and all of conservative media will be shocked and surprised again… and again… and again. It’s sad that this keeps happening in 2014. I have friends who are republican and I know this kind of racialized politics makes them sick. I’m sure there are other republicans who are just like them but their party has been hijacked by the extremist and co opted by a huge billion dollar money making conservative media machine. Hannity, Limbaugh, and Beck are destroying the credibility and electability of real conservative legislators who do not agree with the nuts, but feel they have to go along with it to stay in office. That’s good news for democrats, but bad news for anyone trying to legislate and govern. Conservative media keeps talking about a “post-racial” America, while proving over and over again we are far far from it.
Before i begin this blog post i feel i need to preface it with some important factors to keep in mind while reading it. I am a very proud and vocal member of the Democratic party and even though I’m about to share some harsh critiques about my party and some of its representatives, I feel even at their worst they are still miles ahead of any republican at their best. Now, i felt I had to say that because it was needed to put things in the proper context.
The country-wide debate of New York’s “Stop and Frisk” policy that unfairly targets African American and Latino males has uncovered something surprising about my fellow liberals. A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about the Trayvon Martin shooting and racial profiling titled “No Justice For Trayvon”. In that blog I highlighted how some whites perceptions of young African American males are based on a subconscious irrational fear that makes them see those males as potential criminals. This is true for both conservative and liberal whites although that perception may be slightly more common among conservatives. After a court ruled that NY’s “Stop and Frisk” policy was unconstitutional and a violation of American civil rights it sparked a huge national debate about the ruling and NY mayor Michael Bloomberg’s defense of the program. Those who supported the policy pointed to the low crime rate in the city which they attributed to Stop and Frisk. To me and a lot of African Americans it sounded like they were saying it’s ok to violate a young black male’s civil rights if it makes whites feel less fearful. That was a huge insult unto itself but what came after that was even more insulting. They tried to spin it in the media by saying the policy is in place to protect African American’s living in poor neighborhoods. African American’s translated this to mean they were racially profiling and violating our rights for our own good. Like a parent punishing a petulant child. To me that insult was beyond disgusting because segregationist used the exact same language in the 1950’s to defend Jim Crow. I felt it necessary to write this blog because there were some very important points that were never articulated in the media and among pundits. Watching panel discussions on MSNBC and CNN became tortuous for me. I found myself screaming my points to the tv like they could hear me. Since I’m not a cable tv news political pundit or host, my blog will have to suffice (lol).
The first and most important point I want to make is about those who think Stop and Frisk is necessary. In order to support stop and frisk you have to believe that race determines behavior. How else can you believe that stopping and searching African American’s and Latino’s almost exclusively is acceptable and necessary to prevent crime. This is a hard truth but it needs to be addressed so we can fix it and move on. I’m sure stop and frisk supporters do not want to ask themselves that question. Especially liberals and cable news pundits like those on MSNBC. Don’t get me wrong I love watching MSNBC because I like their reporting of political news and I’ve come to respect the on-air talent. One of my favorites is Chris Matthews the host of Hardball. He’s a moderate democrat with an astute political mind. His views usually mirror my own, but his coverage and views of Stop and Frisk has been very disappointing. Watching him interview pundits has exposed his support for the policy. Time after time he’s expressed fear of New York returning to the violent city it was in the 1970’s and 80’s. When one of his guest presented the idea of stopping more than just blacks and Latino’s Chris likened it to searching grandma at the airport for explosives. When Michael Smirconish guest hosted Chris’s Hardball he was a lot more vocal in his support for the policy. I naively thought progressives would see this Stop and Frisk policy for what it was. Racial profiling, unconstitutional, a severe violation of civil rights, a throw-back to Jim Crow, and just plain wrong. If equality, your personal ethics, and basic human fairness weren’t enough to convince you that this law is racist and unjust, take a look at the stats and ask yourself is this an effective use of police time and resources. According to a study done by the Center For Constitutional Rights during the year 2011 NYPD officers stopped and frisked a total of 636,288 people. Out of those 636,288 stops, 574,483 were African American and Latino. That’s a shocking 87%. Out of those 574,483 minorities only 2% were found to have contraband. TWO PERCENT!!!!!! Under any other circumstances this program would have been rejected years ago due to it’s ineffectiveness.
When you take an objective look at the overwhelming evidence against Stop and Frisk you have to ask yourself why is mayor Bloomberg fighting so hard to keep this in place and why are some white liberals like Chris Matthews and Michael Smirconish vocally supporting the policy or at the very least why aren’t they vocally advocating for its demise. I think the answer can be found in my Trayvon Martin blog titled “No Justice For Trayvon”. They see all young black males as potential criminals, and Stop and Frisk placates this irrational fear. I’m not saying these people are intentional racist. I believe they’ve been conditioned to think about young black males in that way. Their subconscious has made this connection and every crime committed by a young black male reinforces that belief. It’s very disappointing to see so many of my fellow democrats quietly supporting this vile version of institutionalized racism knowing it dehumanizes an entire race of people. Extremely disappointing. Unfortunately this race behavior linkage is perpetuated by the language we use when talking about inner city crime and violence. When we use terms like “the black community” it lumps all blacks together. Even the president has made this mistake. He said we need to address the crime and violence problem within the black community. But this problem mainly exist in the inner city. So instead of lumping all blacks together, he should have said we need to address the crime and violence happening in the inner city. I do not live in the inner city and I have never been involved in any crime. I’m a college educated law abiding citizen who lives on the coast of North Carolina. I have absolutely nothing in common with a violent gang member hundreds of miles away in Detroit. But since we share the same skin color I’m treated like a suspected criminal and I’m supposed to accept that. It’s ridiculous and extremely frustrating.
I’d like to share one more observation that no one else has brought up. The Stop and Frisk policy was built on a supreme court ruling that relaxed the rules for search and seizure when an officer believes a suspect may have a gun. Before this ruling law enforcement could not stop and search random citizens without a clear and articulatable reason. But Bloomberg found a way around the 4th amendment by using that supreme court case. He argued that NY police could stop and search anyone they wanted to and justify it by saying they thought the person had a firearm. My question is why aren’t the NRA (National Rifle Association) out lobbing to end Stop and Frisk? It goes against the very rights they say they are protecting. The right to own a firearm and the right to carry a firearm without being searched by police hoping to find and confiscate a legally owned firearm. The lack of action from their organization shows an obvious racial prejudice in the way they choose issues to speak out against. I sent this question to the head of the NRA but got no response in return. The lack of response makes me think my suspicions are valid.
As a result of discriminatory policing practices like stop and frisk, New Yorkers feel as if their communities are under siege. To learn more about the human impact of these practices, visit www.stopandfrisk.org.
A few weeks after I published this blog post I got the chance to ask MSNBC show host Chris Matthews where he stands on Stop and Frisk. In my blog post I stated that he seemed to support Stop and Frisk. It was very easy to draw this conclusion because he never condemned the policy and never once called it unconstitutional. Instead he would share his fear of New York’s crime rate returning to the very high levels the city had in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Here’s a link to read his response: http://sociallyurban.com/reply-headlines/chris-matthews-response/
As surely as rape is about power, not sex, income inequality is about power, not money. Forcing women to have babies against their will is about power, not babies. Forcing women to have babies even if it endangers the mother is about absolute power. Controlling who can vote and who cannot is about power, not political ideals. And forcing hungry people to starve is about about power, not tax dollars. Perhaps that was the allure and the ongoing attraction from racists regarding African Americans. Whites had power, and even the most down-trodden, poor white racist in 1860 “thought” he was better than the best black man. The KKK continued this abomination for power, nothing else. Power over someone else…to do as you please, when you please, regardless of the pain it causes someone else. But for today at least, I’ll stick to the economic aspect of income inequality if for no other reason but to keep my blood from boiling over at the inane stupidity, hatred and fear that drives the Tbagger faithful to be blind to the fact that a handful of the economic elite are using them as human shields in the same way cowardly dictators use civilians in times of war. The Koch Brothers and ALEC already have more money than they could ever spend in ten lifetimes, but what they want is power, because if you can buy anything you want material things lose their allure and the only thrill left is obtaining ever more power. They are economic terrorists using the hatred and a few choice causes that they could actually care less about (see 2nd Amendment “rights”) to effectuate their obsession with power. A new Census Bureau report released recently showed that since 2009 economic gains have accumulated to only the top 5 percent of households in the U.S.; the other 95 percent have gained virtually nothing; poverty remains high and income inequality has worsened. Yet libertarians still don’t understand that they’re next, or if they do, they simply don’t see light through that haze of hate that clouds their judgement and magnifies their inability to see the big picture. So, the meaningful question remains, does inequality matter in the overall economics of the United States or is it simply another liberal whining point? Is our desire for equality good economics or does it stand in the way of creativity, hard work and overall economic rewards for the entire population? Economists have debated, written and proselytized about this for more than 200 years. Adam Smith, that premier proponent of the free market meme, saw the political danger of inequality, and expressed it succinctly: “Wealth is power, as Mr. Hobbes says.” John Maynard Keynes, the bane of every libertarian’s xenophobic existence, wrote of the Victorian era: “It was precisely the inequality of the distribution of wealth which made possible those vast accumulations of fixed wealth and of capital improvements which distinguished that age from all others.” Even Thomas Jefferson, the darling of so-called libertarians (often referred to as“Lazy Marxists”)and Tea Party “Patriots” alike, had this to say regarding income inequality: “Whenever there are in any country uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. If for the encouragement of industry we allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be provided to those excluded from the appropriation. If we do not, the fundamental right to labor the earth returns to the unemployed. It is too soon yet in our country to say that every man who cannot find employment, but who can find uncultivated land, shall be at liberty to cultivate it, paying a moderate rent. But it is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land. The small landholders are the most precious part of a state.” On the other hand, the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter argued that inequality is the force behind technical advance. According to Schumpeter, progress is a lottery. And if the prizes are really big, more people will try to win them. Of course, many will try and fail, but many new advances will be the result. So tell me succinctly, so that I can understand, “Why have there been no libertarian countries…..EVER?” The Effects of Increasing Inequality faded during most of the 20th century, to Schumpeter’s extreme discomfort. But by 1958, even John Kenneth Galbraith could write, “few things are more evident in modern social history than the decline of interest in inequality as an economic issue.” In the 1980s and 1990s, though, inequality shot up and renewed interest in the condition revitalized. The political atmosphere leading up to the 2008 Bush Economic Meltdown was the result of deregulation, foolish unfunded wars, the assumption that the banking industry could regulate itself–despite the catastrophic failures of Enron, WorldCom, The Savings and Loan meltdown, and countless other indicators that business could NOT regulate itself any better than Congress can regulate itself–and rising income inequality causing the debate and enmity to escalate. Of course, market outcomes have always been unequal. And to liberals’ irritation, inequality is intensified in good times. In the late 1990s, under President Bill Clinton, the U.S. had four years of full employment, and income inequality hit levels not seen since 1929. The reason is simple: Inequality is driven mainly by capital gains–essentially, the income derived from owning something rather than producing something–stock options and the proceeds of venture capital and initial public offerings, all of which exploded during the information-technology boom. But do more unequal countries, generally, work better? In Europe, “labor market flexibility” has been the mantra of conservative reformers for years. According to them, skilled workers were paid too little and unskilled workers too much. The hypothetical tonic was to weaken unions, cut pensions and reduce state benefits for working people. Recently Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain carried out such “reforms.” To the conservatives dismay and denial, competitiveness didn’t return and unemployment rose. Here are two facts:
- First, rich countries are usually more equal than poor ones. For a country to be opulent and technically developed, it must — by definition — have a large and thriving middle class.
- Second, inequality and unemployment rise and fall together. If pay gaps are outsized, people will quit low-paying jobs (on farms, for example) and move to factory towns (or technology centers) where the jobs are better — but also more scarce. Those who can’t get the good jobs stay unemployed.
It’s really fairly pretty simple stuff. Also, if wage laws discourage low pay, then businesses innovate more rapidly and productivity increases. Decades ago the Scandinavians grasped this relationship, and since then, those countries have become some of the richest on earth. In short, economics is analogous to human’s blood sugar levels. There’s a healthy range. Within that range, lower is better but too low can be dangerous as well and zero puts you in the morgue with a toe tag as your only accouterment. When inequality rises, the symptoms aren’t necessarily immediate but they are just a deadly. It may not notice it until your brain—or the economy–panics; credit booms feel great. But rising inequality is a sign of a crisis on the horizon. Ignore it at your own, as well as those directly affected, peril. We saw this dynamic in 1930, in 2000 and again in 2008. You can’t eliminate inequality, and we don’t want to. But it should be kept within the “safe” range for everyone’s benefit. The Role of Minimum Wages on the Overall Economy I’ve established that on one hand, we want the lure of large rewards to help drive innovation through investment and entrepreneurial enticement. On the other hand, we need a stable and secure middle class. Are they mutually exclusive or can we have our pie and eat it too? Would raising the minimum hourly wage — let’s say to $12– threaten innovation? Of course it wouldn’t. More money in the middle class means more goods being purchased and less government assistance for those out of work. Neither would a more generous Social Security system, easier terms on student loans or a vigorous public jobs program. Quite the opposite has been proven time and time again. The lure of big rewards isn’t diminished by having to pay a little more in taxes. Realistically, it’s as significant as a gnat on a boar’s butt. Another key, though, is that innovation’s big rewards not fund family empires. The second and third generations never replicate the genius of the first(see Wal-Mart’s stark deterioration after the passing of Sam Walton). Instead, the descendants go into politics, or become speculators or tax evaders. An effective estate-and-gift tax works to prevent this. With a high rate and a generous exemption or even a full deduction for qualified altruism, those who have won great fortunes will give most of them away to promote themselves or their cause de jeur. We can stomach inequality, in other words, as long as we meet two conditions.
- First, there must be a strong, stable foundation for middle-class life with protection from poverty to keep profits and money circulating rather than stagnating in the hands of the few.
- Second, great fortunes can pile up but they must have an avenue to be circulated.
In a democracy, no one should rule by inherited wealth — or it’s really not a democracy at all is it?. – Harvey Gold
When will conservatives stop listening to conservative media (Fox News & Limbaugh) and conservative politicians? How many times do they have to be wrong before their base starts to question their credibility? I know most liberals are well aware of the many conservative media lies that show up frequently in their reporting, but for those who watch conservative media exclusively I’m not so sure they know when they are being lied to. In recent history Fox News and their pundits have been proven wrong on a number of issues, and proven wrong in a big public way. First let’s start with the 2012 presidential election. All of conservative media which includes Fox, bloggers, columnist, radio personalities, religious leaders etc told their audience over and over again that Mitt Romney was going to win in a huge landslide. Even though every single poll projected President Obama as the winner. They duped their audience into ignoring the polls by telling them that all the polls were rigged by the liberal media to favor President Obama. Then on election night Obama wins with a very comfortable lead and Fox’s viewers were in shock because they all had their trust in a news network that was supposed to be “fair and balanced” as their slogan proclaims. You’d think a gaff that big would at least warrant some kind of apology… but surprisingly none were offered. For several months leading up to the election all of conservative media trotted out a number of big company ceo’s from across the nation to warn voters of the grave consequences that awaited them if President Obama won reelection. All of the ceo’s said the stock market would take a huge dive, they would have to lay off thousands of employees, they would have to close plants, interest rates would skyrocket, etc etc etc. These guys weren’t saying these things may happen, they were saying emphatically these things will happen. Now that we’re almost one year into President Obama’s second term we saw none of those doom and gloom predictions materialize. In fact quite the opposite. The stock market is surging at an all time high. Company’s are reporting record breaking profits. Unemployment has seen a slow but steady decline, but still no apology from any of those who made the misleading comments… not even an explanation as to why they got things wrong. I’m not even going to get into the many many many lies they’ve reported about Obamacare. For that I’d need at least 3 or 4 blog entries to properly address it. Fox has a habit of reporting misinformation to manipulate their viewers and sadly they continue to do this.
Watching the way conservative media has covered the murder of 17 year old Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman has been an eye opening experience for me. I have never seen the murderer of a teenager get embraced by a political party, a television network, and major radio personalities before. George Zimmerman was hailed as a hero to these sick minds. The Trayvon Martin shooting brought out the absolute worst in conservative media. Normally they would dance around race and use euphemisms and code words to keep plausible deniability just in case someone tried to call them out on it. But during the Zimmerman trial they threw caution to the wind and flew their confederate flag high. Bill O’Riley, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh all warned their viewers that if Zimmerman got acquitted African American’s would riot. They all reported this over and over again for a whole week. But hearing them say that made me realize they actually believe the racist crap they report. They believe every black man is a suspect and should be treated as such. They saw the whole black community in the same way that George Zimmerman saw Trayvon Martin… as a criminal. I knew there weren’t going to be any riots, and so did every other black person, but those who buy into ugly racist stereotypes talked about it like it was a forgone conclusion. Then the verdict came and surprise surprise NO RIOTS. There were plenty of civil protest but no riots. You’d think after being wrong about that they would stop warning their audience about scary black riots… right? No, of course that didn’t stop them. Truth and facts never gets in the way of reporting at Fox News. Over the weekend Reverend Al Sharpton and the parents of Trayvon organized rally’s in major cities all over the country. Sean Hannity again predicted violence and anti-white demonstrations. He even went as far as to warn his audience to expect a race riot if these Trayvon rallies continue. And again he was proven wrong. Thousands of black and white people gathered together all over the country for rallies and speeches and not one incident of violence of any kind. This is the second time Fox has promised racial violence and were 100% wrong. When are their viewers going to hold them accountable? When are conservatives going to demand the truth from the people they support. How many times do they have to be proven wrong before people start to see them as tired outdated racist clichés who are always part of the problem instead of being part of the solution?
“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” – Albert Einstein
TO FIND MORE CONSERVATIVE MEDIA LIES DEBUNKED VISIT THIS SITE: http://mythopedia.mediamatters.org/