Proportionality

“But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait.” — John Lennon

I usually don’t do this at night, but I just got done with the obligatory training videos we have to do every year at the beginning of the school year. Thankfully, I was able to finish those before school so I can focus on stuff that really matters when I get there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that sexual harassment, bullying, and blood born pathogens aren’t important, it’s just that they don’t change from year to year.

We had a relatively new one this year. Human trafficking. This one lasted an hour where most of them were around 30 minutes. So, this is where we feel compelled to make the obligatory statements as if they are the cover charge at the local club. Human trafficking exists and it is awful. Okay, we’ve said it and hopefully we can move on.

This seems to be the way with movement conservatives. We are forced to take things that are serious, but relatively rare as huge problems or we are considered to be uncaring. The irony is palpable. Essentially, it breaks down because those that are so “concerned” about human trafficking usually don’t understand the root causes. Either that or they aren’t concerned with addressing the root causes.

Naturally, a lot of this comes from Q’Anon, so we have to consider the source, but it is the exact same as the abortion issue. It’s a vicious cycle with these folks. They call you cold and uncaring unless you profess an overabundance of concern. Yet, when you start to suggest real common sense solutions to help with the problem it usually gets no legitimate response.

If you want to draw a ridiculous parallel let’s consider this. Bestiality is against the law in all 50 states. I would imagine it is against the law in just about every country. I can’t think of a single person that could provide any justification for having sex with animals. So, do we really need to go on and on about horrible sex with animals really is?

Listen, if you don’t come out and say that bestiality is the scourge of human existence then you must be for bestiality. We need a task force and an educational program for the kids. They need to be told about the dangers of bestiality. Imagine all of the diseases that could be caused by having sex with goats, cats, dogs, and other farm animals. Think of the psychological damage it causes for those poor animals. You must be a horrible human being unless you take this bestiality problem seriously.

Hopefully you get the point. I had a discussion with someone about this last year. I asked him point blank how many people he knew that had been trafficked. He said none. Then I asked him if he knew anyone that knew someone that had been trafficked. He then went on to talk about how he had been abused as a child. Of course, that’s not the point. Yet, it effectively shut down the discussion.

Human trafficking can be a genuine thing and be overblown at the same time. We can acknowledge its existence and acknowledge that it is awful for those involved, but also agree that the amount of focus that some people are placing on it is excessive. We can agree that the Democrats are not trafficking children. We can agree that Tom Hanks isn’t trafficking children. We can agree Hillary Clinton isn’t trafficking children in the basement of a pizzeria in a building that doesn’t have a basement.

Children aren’t being abducted in the HEB parking lot. They usually don’t find themselves abducted from school either. Obviously, that’s not an absolute. Just like I can’t say that no one had sex with a goat tonight. In order to get a handle on a problem we have to agree on its scope. People have sex with chickens. It is disgusting and wrong, but it is also rare. At least we all hope it is.

The Phantom Menace

“And I’m bleeding words. They escape me, the recoil, it hurts. And I can’t look the other way. I’m chasing starlight to find it’s died away.” — Jonathan Ng

As we move through these tricky times, we find people picking and choosing which bedrock principles they will choose to follow. These choices are based on fear. They are based on things that aren’t real and have never been real. Some of these choices are based on bedrock principles that are invisible.

Keep in mind, these were the jackasses that saw a group of protesters walking down their street. None of them actually came on the property, but what the hell, the second amendment saved their lives. Those protesters kept going after the McCloskey’s were standing on their porch with their ridiculously huge guns. Someone might take their guns from their cold dead hands, but it will be after they’ve accidentally shot each other.

Listen to any second amendment fanatic long enough and you will hear two inevitable “truths”. They need those big guns to protect them in case of a home invasion. They need those guns to protect them when the government goes rogue. Lost in the translation is the extreme unlikelihood of either of those things actually happening.

Lost in the translation is the near complete cancellation of portions of the first amendment. In particular, movement conservatives now want to cancel the establishment clause and want to tear down the walls between church and state. This isn’t rumor. This isn’t innuendo. They are saying this explicitly out loud.

We’ve discussed gun control and gun rights before. Certainly we can produce commentary from the framers that would seem to indicate a desire for unfettered access, but a broader look at history doesn’t back it up. Boil it all down and it’s all pure fantasy. It is about as meaningful as the need to protect ourselves from a rogue government or rogue home invader.

What we haven’t touched on is the seemingly randomness of holding some rights sacrosanct while others are ignored. Freedom of speech, religion, expression, and assembly is at the very heart of our political culture. The ability to travel freely and unfettered is there too. But by all means let’s have those big guns so we can protect ourselves from our neighbors and “others.” By all means, let’s protect us from a rogue government that would attack us while opening the door for them to take away our privacy and dominion over our bodies.

Perfect is the Enemy of Good

“So we cheated and we lied and we tested. And we never failed to fail. It was the easiest thing to do. You will survive being bested. Somebody fine will come along make me forget about loving you.” — Stephen Stills

We’ve discussed this before to the point of obsession. I have to admit my mind becomes stuck on certain things. In this case, it is a political phenomenon that I simply have to describe. It’s the space between what people want and what they ultimately get. It is the space between popular opinion and what actually happens. I simply don’t have a good name for the gap.

A part of that is my failing. I’m good at a few things but bumper sticker slogans isn’t one of them. I grew up thinking that if I couldn’t describe something in over 100 words than I simply wasn’t trying hard enough. It’s why these things become so long-winded.

Describing why it happens is the easy part. People simply vote against their own interests and beliefs far too often. Sometimes they don’t know what their beliefs are as presented in the political realm. Sometimes they are led by their emotions to become captive to their fears and prejudices. Sometimes they know exactly what they are doing and simply want to punish their own side for their failures to implement the policies they want.

Elections have consequences and most of them are relatively close when looking at statewide or national tickets. A few percentage points here or there will turn the whole thing. For instance, in 2016 close to a million Democrats stayed home specifically to punish Hillary Clinton. Another 800,000 chose to vote for Trump to punish her. They told themselves, “what possibly could go wrong in four years?” Well…

Add almost two million votes to her ledger and she likely would have won five additional states. Plus, it’s harder to ignore an election where she won the popular vote by five million instead of three. The simple fact that we have seen this happen twice in the span of 16 years and that it happened to the Democrats both times kind of tells you something.

If you do nothing but add the judges that George W. Bush appointed along with Donald Trump and then add in the judges blocked by Senate Republicans during Obama’s presidency the results are quite frankly staggering. That literally flipped the Supreme Court from 6-3 one way to 6-3 the other way. What it has done to the entire federal bench is staggering.

That’s just the judiciary. Imagine what it has done legislatively. Imagine what it has done in the day to day mechanisms of government. Bureaucracies have been impacted. Day to day regulations have been impacted. Executive actions on weather and natural disasters have been impacted. Just imagine competent assistance during Katrina and Maria. Imagine better assistant during the California wild fires. Imagine what might have happened during the COVID pandemic. What would have happened had we handled the pandemic as most of Europe and Asia did?

It is quite simply a ripple effect. Certainly, those that believe the other side could go through a similar mental exercise. However, they can’t complain that they have had a majority and lost. It has been minority rule and it has been there for quite some time. A plurality of people identify as Democrats. Again, national elections are fairly close, but under a parliamentary system Congress would have been under consistent Democratic control. These are just facts.

The current exploits of Joe Mancin and Kirsten Synema certainly demonstrate that majorities aren’t a guarantee of anything and yet they highlight the problem. We have a 50-50 Senate. If the Senate reflected even the advantage in the House it would likely be a 52-48 Senate. Then, they become irrelevant. If access to the ballot was unfettered and fair then the advantage likely would be 55-45 with similar larger gaps in the House as well.

Admittedly, not all of that is due to people putting their thumb on the scale. Some of it certainly is. Some of it is due to people not understanding who is for what and how that impacts them. Some of it is due to younger people getting angry and refusing to participate in the process. Then, that lack of participation is used against them. Some people have gotten so angry they’ve voted for the other side. These are relatively small numbers, but they add up to huge results.

This all pays off with the gap. We look up and we get the 21st century version of the apartheid. We get climate change unabated. We get gross incompetence in times of crisis. We get a larger wealth gap. We get fewer consumer and employee protections. We get a cold and uncaring world that most of us can’t recognize. The gap between the world we want and the world we see is real. The gap is real. We should be angry. We just need to remember who to be angry at.

Two little lies and one big one

“And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgement of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song.” — Pete Townsend

Much has been said about the big lie. we could go back to Joseph Goebbels and his thoughts on propaganda. The big lie is important and it is the one that we focus on now, but there actually are three. There is the big lie, but there is also the long lie, and the shameful lie. We should start with the long lie.

The Long Lie

Donald Trump has done one successful thing in his life. He has managed to convince people he is a successful businessman. It has taken a long time, but this is the biggest of all the cons. How many bankruptcies has he had? How many business ideas have failed miserably? How much money does he actually have?

Yes, business people fail. They try things that don’t work, but it is the volume of failure that is staggering here. It is the incredibly bad timing and half-baked ideas that are mind-boggling. Who sells steaks at the Sharper Image? Who opens casinos that fail? How do these things work and how do we come to the conclusion that this guy is brilliant?

Well, if he is brilliant then he could run the country like he runs his businesses. We would be back on top in no time. Unfortunately, he ran the country exactly likes he runs his businesses. It’s why we are in the trouble we are in right now. That also plays into all of these accusations and how people interpret them. They all seem so stupid and so juvenile. How could someone so successful not only do these things, but also fail miserably at it? Well, if we understood the real history we’d understand that this is exactly who Donald Trump is.

The Shameful Lie

Watch clips of people at Trump rallies. Listen to friends and family that are strong MAGA people. Listen long enough and you will hear many of the same things. Trump did great things for us. He looks out for the little guy. He made our country great. Yet, when you ask them what he did to help them or make the country great they can’t seem to give you any specifics. The generalities they give usually have nothing to do with actually helping their situation.

The shameful part of the lie is that he did help them in some way. He gave them cover to espouse the things they want to espouse but can’t. They can’t even do it now, so they speak in code. The code involves talking about all of the things that he’s done for them. Yet, they can’t tell you what that is. They can’t tell you because they don’t exist.

The fact is that he hates the same people that they hate. The fact is that he hurts the people they hate is so much better. He angers the liberals so it warms their hearts. Some of them revel in this and openly admit it. Others have to speak in code. He’s done so many things for us. Yet, they can’t tell you exactly what he has done.

The Big Lie

We know the big lie revolves around the election, but that isn’t really what the big lie is. When you repeat the lies often enough people will believe. Not only that, but people seem to believe the bigger lies than the smaller ones. So, we focus on Hillary’s emails and Hunter Biden’s laptop. We focus on all of the insignificant stuff and ignore the huge stuff.

The media helps in this regard. They treat those things evenly. They feel like they have to give them equal time. Proportionality doesn’t exist. The press doesn’t call balls and strikes. The press makes sure there are as many walks as strikeouts. That’s obviously not the same thing.

So, the whole January 6th thing is just beyond the scope that some people can consider. They can’t understand the difference. They haven’t been made to understand the difference. That is the big lie. The big lie is that somehow what Trump and others do is somehow equivalent to the indiscretions of others.

The Deserving

“So I don’t feel alone on the way to the stone
Now that I’ve found somewhere safe to bury my bones
And any fool knows a dog needs a home
A shelter from pigs on the wing.” — Roger Waters

A few people commented on yesterday’s post. I was reminded of another event earlier in my life that might cast light on the subject. The commenter basically said that the rich don’t deserve their tax breaks and corporate welfare. I would agree except we have a fundamental problem with that line of thinking.

I remember going to downtown Fort Worth with some classmates to go watch a movie. They came upon a homeless guy and agreed to buy him a Whataburger. However, there was a string attached. He would have to accept a Bible before he would get any of the food. The bargain seemed cruel, but even worse was the assumption behind it.

See, why does he need a Bible? We are assuming that his plight is somehow connected to his lack of faith. If he had more faith then maybe he would be more successful. The Old Testament is full of these stories. Success is tied to virtue. The virtuous have success and the poor and destitute lack virtue. So, you see a homeless man that is hungry and down on his luck and it must be because he has angered God somehow. Therefore, he needs religion to get back on his feet.

Therefore, captains of industry have earned their success through virtue. They’ve earned it through hard work. They’ve earned it through doing the right thing and avoiding the wrong things. Therefore, if someone brings up corporate welfare and whether they deserve their tax breaks the answer will undoubtedly be yes. See, they do right by God and therefore they will do right if we give them the breaks. They’ve earned their reward.

What we understand is that this is really not the case. The successful people are not necessarily the best people. They may not be the most talented people. They may have just been lucky. The reverse is also true of those that struggle. Maybe they made some key mistakes or made bad choices. Maybe they were just the victims of bad luck. We have no way of knowing one way or the other just by looking at them.

Government spending can’t be about who deserves what. Government spending has to do the most amount of good for the most amount of people. Government is charged with protecting our life, liberty, and property. Government is charged with making us better people. They do that through a social safety net. They do that through public works like education, endowment of the arts, or scientific study. They do that by protecting consumers, workers, and citizens from those that would prey on them. They do that by providing security through police and our legal system.

So, the question of corporate welfare vs. welfare for the poor isn’t a question of who deserves it. It is a question of how sound an investment it is. If we help poor people escape poverty we benefit society. If we give rich people more money they usually pocket it or funnel it to stockholders. So, it is ultimately about benefit.

If we forgive college loans, offer free community college, or eliminate interest then we allow young people to spend more. They might be able to afford that first home. That first home is the start of building generational wealth. When we elevate more people out of poverty or into the middle class we benefit more. So, it is ultimately about benefit and not about being deserving.

What do we deserve?

“Would you send me packing or would you take me home?” — Roger Waters

I was reminded of a time during my childhood when a family of strangers rang our doorbell. They came in beaten and bloody and told my parents that they had an accident and didn’t have any money. They had scrapes and bruises, so they didn’t require bandages or a hospital visit. They just appeared to be more down on their luck than anything.

I may have been nine or ten at the time. It’s hard to remember precisely when this happened. I just remember my parents giving them a little bit of money and a black and white television we didn’t use anymore. I think my sister and I gave the children some toys we didn’t play with. At the end of the day it didn’t amount to very much.

Jt didn’t occur to me until much later that no one bothered to verify their story. They could have easily gone door to door using the same act and raked in numerous toys, used televisions, and small amounts of cash that add up to large amounts of cash. We certainly didn’t discuss it as a family. We just gave a little of what we had and didn’t need.

The question of whether they deserved the help didn’t come up, but it certainly comes up today. I remember years later sitting on the Pastoral Council at church and listening to how the Christian Action directors of all the local churches work together to coordinate their giving. They report on who comes in, what they ask for, and what problems they report having. It seems that a number of them encounter the same people and not all of those people are on the up and up.

When confronted with our politics it seems I have fluctuated between the nine and ten year old me and the attitudes of young adult version of me that questioned those we gave to. There are many instances where I just can’t identify with conservative ideology. Sadly, this is one where I definitely can relate because I used to think the same way.

The breakdown occurs when we ask the question of whether someone deserves assistance. It’s an innocent enough question at the outset. No one wants to be taken for a ride. No one wants to give up their hard earned money to someone capable of surviving on their own. No one wants to comfort the comfortable. We want to know that we are helping people that really need our help. It’s simple enough and yet it leads us to a very dark place.

It’s one half of a very dark and very sordid strategy to play into basic human emotions. You can imagine the simple mention of the dreaded “Obama phones” that people supposedly got. It gets us started on a cycle that spirals out of control. Why do they get free phones? Are they nice phones? How many free minutes and how much data is free? How come I have to pay for my phone, my minutes, and my data?

When you hear any mention of free tuition or college loan forgiveness that is the number one response. Why do THEY deserve it? It is the same overwhelming emotion older Americans have when they return to their high school or college alma mater. Why did this get so nice? How come they are spending all this money on them? What did they do to deserve this? Why didn’t we get this stuff?

In point of fact, it inflicts the left on occasion as well. We ask the same questions of captains of industry. Why do they get tax breaks? Why don’t they have to pay more in taxes? What did they do to deserve all of this? In many instances, how we answer those questions helps determine why we are conservative or liberal, but it doesn’t answer why we ask those questions in the first place.

Decades later, I couldn’t tell you exactly what that family in the beginning got. I certainly can’t say that we missed any of it. The better angels of our nature certainly would like to know that they turned out okay, but those darker angels might have appeared had we learned that we were just another easy mark on their way to easy luxury.

In a similar way, I don’t know how to parse out who deserves assistance? I’m certain some don’t really need it and are taking advantage of the situation. Still, it took me a long time to get there. It took me a long time to get to the place where someone’s free phone, free lunch, or free health care doesn’t cost me much, so I shouldn’t worry so much about whether they deserve it. At the end of the day, what exactly does any of us deserve anyway?

Gas, Murder, and Employment

“Rape, murder, it’s just a shot away. It’s just a shot away.” — Mick Jagger

There are obviously four big things where conservatives love to attack those on the left. I’m not even going to parse the labels between liberals, leftists, and progressives. We will consider them the same thing for now and allow anyone and everyone to declare themselves. This the anti-Biden thing. Brandon has ruined everything. We have to pay more for gas, we have to pay more for other stuff. Godless heathens are murdering people in the streets of our liberal cities. You get the idea.

One of the things we have to remember about presidential politics is that elections happen on even years, but the terms begin the next year. Plus, there is a credible argument to be made that presidents have to wait for their policies to take effect. So, the first year of a presidency is really the last year of the previous presidency. We will go back to 2001 and the George W. Bush era and compare our last three presidents in terms of murder rate, unemployment rate, GDP growth, inflation rate, and the price of gas in 2022 dollars. We will separate the first year of a presidency and then average the last seven years (or three in Trump’s case).

Gas Prices

George W. Bush 2001– 2.39

George W. Bush 2002-2008– 3.29

Barack Obama 2009– 3.79

Barack Obama 2010-2016– 3.84

Donald Trump 2017– 2.86

Donald Trump 2018-2020– 2.84

So, if we were to grade these presidents just on the price of gas then Trump does end up looking good. We would have to acknowledge that he was put into a far better position to start than Barack Obama was, but still we saw a net decrease in the price of gas. So, one point for Trump.

Unemployment

George W. Bush 2001– 5.7%

George W. Bush 2002-2008– 5.5%

Barack Obama 2009– 9.9%

Barack Obama 2010-2016: 6.8%

Donald Trump 2017– 4.1%

Donald Trump 2018-2020– 4.7%

Anyone that touts Trump’s record here is not really giving Obama credit for putting him in a good place. It should be noted that price of gas was going down at the end of the Obama presidency and the unemployment rate was also going down. The opposite was true at the end of the Bush years.

GDP Growth

George W. Bush 2001– +1.0

George W. Bush 2002-2008– +2.4

Barack Obama 2009– -2.6

Barack Obama 2010-2016– +2.1

Donald Trump 2017– 2.3

Donald Trump 2018-2020– +0.6

Yes, GDP reduction in 2020 was an obvious negative effect of the pandemic. Yes, Trump’s incompetence exacerbated the pandemic. We will never know what a competent handling of the pandemic would have made America look like. We can guess based on the two almost pandemics that the Obama administration dealt with. By the way, that is not a typo for Obama in 2009. He inherited a negative GDP situation. Let me know when you start to decipher a pattern.

Inflation

George W. Bush 2001– 1.6%

George W. Bush 2002-2008– 2.5%

Barack Obama 2009– 2.7%

Barack Obama 2010-2016– 1.6%

Donald Trump 2017– 2.1%

Donald Trump 2018-2020– 1.9%

This looks good for Trump until we notice what he saddled Biden with. The inflation rate for 2021 is 7.0 percent. That’s brutal as we haven’t seen anything close to that since the staglation days of the 1970s. As per usual, Bush leaves Obama in a bad situation and Obama leaves Trump in a relatively good situation. As you might predict, suddenly the rules of giving presidents time to put their own stamp on the economy will disappear and the inflation will be Brandon’s problem. It’s utterly predictable.

Murders per 100,000

George W. Bush 2001– 6.69

George W. Bush 2002-2008– 5.64

Barack Obama 2009– 5.03

Barack Obama 2010-2016– 4.79

Donald Trump 2017– 5.32

Donald Trump 2018-2020– 6.25

Here’s the thing. We can easily come up with all kinds of excuses as to why this happened. Numbers are numbers after all. Statistics don’t really lie but we can misinterpret them. Maybe there is nothing a president can do to impact the crime rate. However, these numbers have to sit in the backdrop of a president that told us about American carnage all the while that murders were at an over 30 year low as recently as 2014. Under Trump they reached their highest point since 1997. Keep in mind, he was the only one that could fix it. He would make us safe.

Again, numbers are numbers and we have to be careful in how we interpret them. However, if one were to just look at them with no context they would see that Republicans regularly saddle Democrats with shaky economies, unsafe communities, with inflation, and high gas prices. Democrats improve the situation and leave their Republican colleagues with a better situation than they found.

Naturally, this becomes important when we consider 2022 and 2024. Everyone blames Brandon for the inflation. Everyone blames Brandon for the high gas prices. Everyone blames Brandon for the “high crime rate” that we currently have. He is just too soft. He is too ineffectual. He is just in over his head. We need a strong leader that can get things done. Well, the facts are in. I don’t know if we can take much more of that winning.

Here we go again

“Our destiny relies on conscience. Red or blue what’s the difference?” — Cy Currin

It happened again and this time it happened on the fourth of July. Of course, for anyone doing the math, the fourth just happened to be another day on the calendar. In point of fact, there appears to be little rhyme or reason as to why some of these stick in our psyche while others just seem to fade into obscurity. Human life isn’t variable. Some lives cannot be worth than others. All loss of life is tragic and deserves our attention.

The jokes were rampant on social media. I get it. Gallows humor is all we really have at this point. So, the immediate jokes at Ted Cruz’s expense were plentiful. See, Cruz was the one that suggested that we needed only one door at our schools. If we could get more door control then we could eliminate these horrible events.

Obviously, there were no doors at Highland Park. It was a parade celebrating the holiday. So, immediately people starting calling for roof control and ladder control. Maybe if we removed all of the fire escapes then no one would be able to access the roof. Surely that would do the trick.

The mood for many Americans is a feeling of despair. The dictionary defines despair as the complete loss or absence of hope. Hope exists as long as there are people of character willing to address problems head on. Hope exists when people see an existential crisis and feel motivated to try to solve it. Our destiny clearly relies on conscience.

Maybe hope would exist if we collectively remembered what we were celebrating on the fourth. In one shining moment, a new nation gave the world notice that all people were created equal and that they were born with certain rights. It was the promise that was revolutionary. It is that promise that has kept us going even when we collectively fell short of those words.

Perhaps Mr. Jefferson knew something when he spoke of a pursuit of happiness. See, like freedom, happiness is often elusive. There is always the possibility that in our brokenness we may never be as happy as we are right now. We may not be as free as we right now. Recent events certainly indicate that those freedoms we often take for granted may not be there when we need them.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is a delicate balance. They weren’t just words on a page. They involve an intricate relationship where they cease to exist collectively when one is unduly threatened. If I’m dead then I’m not free in any political sense. I’m certainly not happy. If I’m frightened then I am not free. If we are forced to live in perpetual fear of those around us then is that a life worth living?

How Democracy Dies Part IV

“Don’t you think I know exactly where I stand? This world is forcing me to hold your hand.” — Gwen Stefani

This is the final edition of our series. We have covered ten of the twelve common traits of fascism leaving only two left. Admittedly, these two are not directly related. Unfortunately traits are not always easy to parcel out like that. However, they are important and we should not just skip them because they are easily put together.

Rampant Sexism

Admittedly, I am probably not the right person for this particular job. As you know, I’m a guy and if you are an avid reader of these you know I am also a Catholic. Both of those sort of go together in something like this to make me a really bad messenger.

See, with Roe v. Wade overturned, women’s rights have been taken back exactly 50 years. Furthermore, the Supreme Court isn’t done. The GOP isn’t done. Their goal is to eventually make abortion illegal nationwide. They will need majorities in Congress to do that. The courts will move onto contraception, same sex marriage, and possibly even interracial marriage.

Goodness knows how many more rights they would really like to roll back at the end of the day. The American church is complicit in part of this at the very least. That obviously puts me in a tough spot. My faith tells me that life is sacred. My politics tells me that freedom of choice is sacred. It’s hard to know which side should win sometimes, but the biggest key is it’s not about winning and losing. Freedom of choice means that everyone gets to make the right choice for themselves.

The other big key is that the anti-abortion movement has never really been about life. If it were about life it would be accompanied by an equally robust movement to take care of children that had no parents after the fact. The foster care numbers indicate something else. Furthermore, there seems to be no groundswell to alleviate those numbers. Eliminating choice seems to be the goal here.

Obviously, removing choice and removing women’s dominion over their own bodies has any number of motives. I have no doubt that a lot of people feel like they are protecting life and protecting women. I also have no doubt that a lot of people know exactly what they are doing. This makes the whole thing more about control than about life.

Obsession with crime and punishment

This one goes back a ways. The level of incarceration since 1970 has increased 500 percent. The world population has nearly doubled in that timespan. So, the prison population is growing nearly four times faster than the population as a whole. The important question is why this is happening.

In the early 1970s, the Nixon administration embarked on a war on drugs. Of course, one could easily explain the whys and what fors. We could argue that drug abuse was rampant in the 1960s and they wanted to get a handle on it. They could claim that drug related deaths were on the rise and they wanted to get a handle on it. They could claim that drug trafficking was becoming more dangerous and therefore needed to be stopped.

You could claim all of these things. You could also claim that mass incarceration was the goal all along. The numbers by race are stark and undeniable. Of course, this is where we get into all kinds of social engineering debates. Are laws purposefully targeting people of color? Are sentences purposefully longer for people of color? Are people of color adversely effected just because they happen to be poorer on average and poorer people have worse outcomes in court? These are all questions that critical race theory have endeavored to answer. Instead of engaging on that theory and providing real explanations the right has barred race from being mentioned at school so that any form of racism from now or in the past is forgotten and dismissed.

One cannot help but think of the natural advantages of how this has all gone down. Over the course of 50 years, the population has been conditioned to believe certain things. People of color are naturally more dangerous and more susceptible to criminal behavior. Therefore, we need to be protected from people of color. Only one party really promises to protect us from this “dangerous threat.”

Think of what we know about mass shootings. There are no universals, but we can predict that any mass shooter will be a young white male between 18 and 25 and usually with right wing political leanings. Notice how this compares with our collective notion that we aren’t safe in certain neighborhoods or around certain people. Do those images match up? This is what we call cognitive dissonance. It obviously is very strong these days.

How Democracy Dies Part III

“Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.” — Thomas Jefferson

The first thing I invite you to do is read the first two installments of this series. Ultimately, this won’t be the last, but we are closer to the end than we are to the beginning. I am sure that some will read some of these planks and think to themselves, “that doesn’t sound so bad” or “I actually kind of agree with that one.” Ultimately, the question will come whether that makes you a fascist.

The answer ultimately comes in what your target is. What is the end game? This being independence day is kind of a good barometer. I’m sure the British never saw themselves as tyrants. They could take each of those things that they did and provide a justification for them. They all made sense when taken in isolation. When added together they created an environment that became unbearable.

Rampant Cronyism and Corruption

This one admittedly cuts both ways. When loyalty becomes the number one job skill then cronyism and corruption cannot be far behind. It starts innocently enough. We all would rather work with people we agree with it. It only makes sense at the end of the day. We’d rather work with people you get along with. I share an office (during the school year) with six other people. It would be miserable if we didn’t get along and laugh at the world on occasion.

However, people have to be qualified to do their job. At some point, all jobs have to have basic qualifications that need to be met. Otherwise, we will have chaos. Let’s say someone is in charge of the Department of Education that has never taken a step in a public school or a neurosurgeon is put in charge of Housing and Urban Development. Maybe the Energy Secretary didn’t even know the job description when he took the job.

When those same people utilize government to line their own pockets then you have cronyism, corruption, and incompetence. The wheels of bureaucracy kind of spin on their own, so nothing literally grinds to a halt, but it certainly slows down and becomes horribly inefficient.

Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts

Humanity is a story. When that story is studied against the animals we will ultimately find very few actual differences. Animals communicate. Animals travel in groups. Animals migrate for food or better living conditions. Humans do all of these things. They may do it with a level of sophistication that animals do not, but we are ultimately the same.

What ultimately makes us different is the specialization. We each either become an expert of sorts. Market economies are based on the relative value of that expertise. If our expertise involves putting together a burger quickly then we may get minimum wage. If our expertise is in healing the sick or inventing new technology then we earn considerably more.

All economies are inefficient in their purest form. We have a whole class of people that have expertise that is questionable in its value. They don’t create anything and yet make billions. It makes little sense. Even with those inefficiencies, society as a whole can make it as long as we recognize expertise when we need it. However, when those same forces that create wealth without expertise convince us that we don’t need it then society begins to break down. We begin to become disgusted by intelligence.

An intelligent society perpetuates itself because children ultimately look up to intelligent experts in that society. They want to emulate those experts. They want to become that expert some day. Societies break down when we actively dismiss those experts. When “do your own research” becomes the order of the day we all lose. We lose because when we aren’t an expert we really don’t know what that research entails. Being an expert means knowing where to find the best information about what you are an expert in. Conversely, idiots will find the “sage” advice of other idiots and that will be their research.

Corporate Power Protected/Labor Power Suppressed

These are actually two different ones, but they are so intertwined that we have to put them together. If one were to look at models in Germany from World War II and the current situation in Russia, one would find that Hitler and Putin have used corporate barons for their own purposes as a way to spread their power. So, this cannot be simply a corporation bad/labors good outlook. It isn’t that simple.

You ultimately, notice that some corporations have stood up for the rights of the oppressed as a part of their business model. Look at what has happened with Disney in Florida. They have done nothing but celebrate the LGTBQ+ community by giving them their own day to celebrate. The government response to this is telling. Florida went from protecting Disney to exerting its power over Disney. See, Disney was going against their wishes by simply adopting an inclusive business model.

What fascists do is highlight those businesses that buy into their world view. Maybe they don’t want their employees to have reproductive rights or they actively encourage discrimination against certain groups. Those corporations get favorable treatment. It is a tacit message that you too can get favorable treatment if you fall in line.

We all have been conditioned since the 1980s to hate labor unions. Think about how they are portrayed. They are lazy. They are overpaid. They stifle innovation. Companies make more when they don’t have to follow all of those stupid rules. They protect bad employees. There are certainly isolated cases where all of these things may be true, but the end results is undeniable. Wages have stagnated and wealth has somehow concentrated in the hands of a few. It’s almost as if that was the whole idea all along.