Friday, October 21, 2011

Why Socialism?

By Albert Einstein

Is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic and social issues to express views on the subject of socialism? I believe for a number of reasons that it is.

Let us first consider the question from the point of view of scientific knowledge. It might appear that there are no essential methodological differences between astronomy and economics: scientists in both fields attempt to discover laws of general acceptability for a circumscribed group of phenomena in order to make the interconnection of these phenomena as clearly understandable as possible. But in reality such methodological differences do exist. The discovery of general laws in the field of economics is made difficult by the circumstance that observed economic phenomena are often affected by many factors which are very hard to evaluate separately. In addition, the experience which has accumulated since the beginning of the so-called civilized period of human history has -- as is well known -- been largely influenced and limited by causes which are by no means exclusively economic in nature. For example, most of the major states of history owed their existence to conquest. The conquering peoples established themselves, legally and economically, as the privileged class of the conquered country. They seized for themselves a monopoly of the land ownership and appointed a priesthood from among their own ranks. The priests, in control of education, made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior.

But historic tradition is, so to speak, of yesterday; nowhere have we really overcome what Thorstein Veblen called "the predatory phase" of human development. The observable economic facts belong to that phase and even such laws as we can derive from them are not applicable to other phases. Since the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development, economic science in its present state can throw little light on the socialist society of the future.

Second, socialism is directed toward a social-ethical end. Science, however, cannot create ends and, even less, instill them in human beings; science, at most, can supply the means by which to attain certain ends. But the ends themselves are conceived by personalities with lofty ethical ideals and -- if these ends are not stillborn, but vital and vigorous -- are adopted and carried forward by those many human beings who, half-unconsciously, determine the slow evolution of society.

For these reasons, we should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.

Innumerable voices have been asserting for some time now that human society is passing through a crisis, that its stability has been gravely shattered. It is characteristic of such a situation that individuals feel indifferent or even hostile toward the group, small or large, to which they belong. In order to illustrate my meaning, let me record here a personal experience. I recently discussed with an intelligent and well-disposed man the threat of another war, which in my opinion would seriously endanger the existence of mankind, and I remarked that only a supranational organization would offer protection from that danger. Thereupon my visitor, very calmly and coolly, said to me: "Why are you so deeply opposed to the disappearance of the human race?"

I am sure that as little as a century ago no one would have so lightly made a statement of this kind. It is the statement of a man who has striven in vain to attain an equilibrium within himself and has more or less lost hope of succeeding. It is the expression of a painful solitude and isolation from which so many people are suffering in these days. What is the cause? Is there a way out?

It is easy to raise such questions, but difficult to answer them with any degree of assurance. I must try, however, as best I can, although I am very conscious of the fact that our feelings and strivings are often contradictory and obscure and that they cannot be expressed in easy and simple formulas.

Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being. As a solitary being, he attempts to protect his own existence and that of those who are closest to him, to satisfy his personal desires, and to develop his innate abilities. As a social being, he seeks to gain the recognition and affection of his fellow human beings, to share in their pleasures, to comfort them in their sorrows, and to improve their conditions of life. Only the existence of these varied, frequently conflicting strivings accounts for the special character of a man, and their specific combination determines the extent to which an individual can achieve an inner equilibrium and can contribute to the well-being of society. It is quite possible that the relative strength of these two drives is, in the main, fixed by inheritance. But the personality that finally emerges is largely formed by the environment in which a man happens to find himself during his development, by the structure of the society in which he grows up, by the tradition of that society, and by its appraisal of particular types of behavior. The abstract concept "society" means to the individual human being the sum total of his direct and indirect relations to his contemporaries and to all the people of earlier generations. The individual is able to think, feel, strive, and work by himself; but he depends so much upon society -- in his physical, intellectual, and emotional existence -- that it is impossible to think of him, or to understand him, outside the framework of society. It is "society" which provides man with food, clothing, a home, the tools of work, language, the forms of thought, and most of the content of thought; his life is made possible through the labor and the accomplishments of the many millions past and present who are all hidden behind the small word "society."

It is evident, therefore, that the dependence of the individual upon society is a fact of nature which cannot be abolished -- just as in the case of ants and bees. However, while the whole life process of ants and bees is fixed down to the smallest detail by rigid, hereditary instincts, the social pattern and interrelationships of human beings are very variable and susceptible to change. Memory, the capacity to make new combinations, the gift of oral communication have made possible developments among human beings which are not dictated by biological necessities. Such developments manifest themselves in traditions, institutions, and organizations; in literature; in scientific and engineering accomplishments; in works of art. This explains how it happens that, in a certain sense, man can influence his life through his own conduct, and that in this process conscious thinking and wanting can play a part.

Man acquires at birth, through heredity, a biological constitution which we must consider fixed and unalterable, including the natural urges which are characteristic of the human species. In addition, during his lifetime, he acquires a cultural constitution which he adopts from society through communication and through many other types of influences. It is this cultural constitution which, with the passage of time, is subject to change and which determines to a very large extent the relationship between the individual and society. Modern anthropology has taught us, through comparative investigation of so-called primitive cultures, that the social behavior of human beings may differ greatly, depending upon prevailing cultural patterns and the types of organization which predominate in society. It is on this that those who are striving to improve the lot of man may ground their hopes: human beings are not condemned, because of their biological constitution, to annihilate each other or to be at the mercy of a cruel, self-inflicted fate.

If we ask ourselves how the structure of society and the cultural attitude of man should be changed in order to make human life as satisfying as possible, we should constantly be conscious of the fact that there are certain conditions which we are unable to modify. As mentioned before, the biological nature of man is, for all practical purposes, not subject to change. Furthermore, technological and demographic developments of the last few centuries have created conditions which are here to stay. In relatively densely settled populations with the goods which are indispensable to their continued existence, an extreme division of labor and a highly centralized productive apparatus are absolutely necessary. The time -- which, looking back, seems so idyllic -- is gone forever when individuals or relatively small groups could be completely self-sufficient. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that mankind constitutes even now a planetary community of production and consumption.

I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.

The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor -- not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules. In this respect, it is important to realize that the means of production -- that is to say, the entire productive capacity that is needed for producing consumer goods as well as additional capital goods -- may legally be, and for the most part are, the private property of individuals.

For the sake of simplicity, in the discussion that follows I shall call "workers" all those who do not share in the ownership of the means of production -- although this does not quite correspond to the customary use of the term. The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist. The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value. In so far as the labor contract is "free," what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists' requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.

Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of the smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

The situation prevailing in an economy based on the private ownership of capital is thus characterized main principles: first, means of production (capital) are privately owned and the owners dispose of them as they see fit; second, the labor contract is free. Of course, there is no such thing as a pure capitalist society in this sense. In particular, it should be noted that the workers, through long and bitter political struggles, have succeeded in securing a somewhat improved form of the "free labor contract" for certain categories of workers. But taken as a whole, the present-day economy does not differ much from "pure" capitalism.

Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an "army of unemployed" almost always exists. The worker is constantly in fear of losing his job. Since unemployed and poorly paid workers do not provide a profitable market, the production of consumers' goods is restricted, and great hardship is the consequence. Technological progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing of the burden of work for all. The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.

This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.

I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow-men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralization of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?

Monday, October 17, 2011

America the Ironic

So Libertarians in America are apparently anti-authoritarian and pro-free market. But why be against publicly elected authority figures rather than those who reached such a position through cutthroat individuality. At least in America the government is chosen by majority vote (including the electoral college), but the capitalist elite represent nobody but themselves. The fact that they have so much political sway through their lobbying and campaign donating is the subject of much ire from the citizenry.

True libertarians are wary of autocracy from the private sector and include Anarchists, Social Democrats, and a few of the more self-aware right wingers. There is also such a belief as libertarian communism, but since it has never been properly implemented it has less credence than other theories.

TL;DR: If you think you're anti-authoritarian then you'd also better be against individualistic capitalists' power.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Boycott Newscorp

So it was revealed recently that Rupert Murdoch and the gang of douchebags he employs were hacking into peoples' cellphone messages and emails, including politicians, murder victims, and 9/11 survivors. The Prime Minister of the UK is believed to have been in on the scheme, and several high-ranking scotland yard policemen have resigned their posts following the revelation of the scandal. To make matters even worse, the man who informed the public about the actions of Murdoch's douches was found dead a few days ago, while the Murdoch-bought UK police call it "not suspicious".

If you're like me, you believe that the person who is a big enough douchebag to hire people to hack the phone messages of murder victims is also a big enough douchebag to hire someone to kill the man who is costing his international corporation millions of dollars. That's why I believe we should all boycott newscorp and its shady and illegal practices. Here's a link to a Firefox add-on that warn you when you visit a Murdoch-owned website:

Here's a list of websites to avoid:

Hopefully together we can effect some change in the world.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


It is a clear and obvious fact that all people desire power, and that those in power will desire to remain there. It was the driving force behind every empire ever created, every ruler ever to hold the throne, and every dollar ever made in a capitalist system because money is power. Pure and simple. It therefore follows that wealthy people will have more power than their less-well-off counterparts, and not just in a plutocratic system.
Is this injustice? Do wealthy people deserve to have their wants and needs fulfilled more than those who perhaps own less currency and possessions? Even when the wealthy elite are comprised of a much smaller amount of the population than the proletariat? Mind you, we no longer live in a society wherein a person's wealth is a reflection of his contribution to the general public. Not with all the scheming and dirty dealing that Wall Street has been engaged in since well before the bailouts or even Enron. I am personally of the opinion that a single elementary school teacher has more value to society than all of Goldman Sachs' employees put together.
If you're of the opinion that wealth automatically reflects value to society than you're even further right-wing than one who believes in meritocracy, and my writings will only further anger you.
Unfortunately this seems to be the case in most capitalist western countries. Those with the most political clout are the wealthy individuals and corporations, especially since the historically infamous Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. Politicians in the United States have even stopped concealing their pandering to the interests of the wealthy elite. Karl Rove's organization American Crossroads' sole purpose in the 2010 midterm election was to accept donation money from corporations and distribute it to republican candidates who Rove decided would represent their interests in congress. Say what you want about Karl Rove but the plan worked beautifully. Along with a revival of the politically-illiterate-but-still-active (tea party), American Crossroads allowed the furthest right wing fringes of American politics to be the majority party in the lower house of congress.
And what was the result? A major push back against some of the most beneficial legislation that this country has ever seen. The EPA, NPR, and Planned Parenthood all were threatened with the chopping block since the 2010 midterm election. All were public social programs put in place to benefit the average middle class American. Yet their existence hindered the amount of profit that Wall Street speculators would get away with. One cannot invest in a public institution.
Not to mention the doings of various republican governors, namely those of Wisconsin, Michigan, New Jersey, and Florida, who have actively pursued an agenda of lowering the standards of living for all unionized workers in their states in favor of giving state tax breaks to companies and millionaires in hopes of receiving a favorable jobs report for their term, as well as for ideological purposes.

So this is where were are left. Only those with an annual income of several million dollars and above can have their opinions heard in politics. This is the group of people that make up 2% of the United States population, yet have more wealth than almost 50% of the poorest members of that same population. So if you're like me, you'd like to hear a way to have that poor half of the population have their opinions represented in the government as well. And there is an answer.

I don't mean the watered-down, pansy definition that basically refers to anyone who steps a toe out of line with the corporate fascists. I mean real, actual, redistribution of the wealth, public control of the means of production, Socialism. It is the only conceivable means, in my opinion, of assuring that every single human being in the country receives a modicum of power.

Now this wouldn't be communism. There would be no forced equality beyond assured equality of opportunity. There would be no proletariat base rules by an authoritarian elite just as oppressive as the bourgeoisie.

If anyone has any criticisms of what I've written, I'd simply love to hear them.

P.S. If you're among those who use the terms Socialism, Communism, Fascism, Nazism, and/or Liberalism interchangeably, just don't even bother with this blog since you are politically illiterate to the point where I'm surprised you remember how to breathe.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Walker's Base

Over the past few days, Governor Scott Walker has been imposing his will over the obviously unwilling state of Wisconsin. He has been busy cutting education and workers' rights
This, predictably has caused a huge backlash from the citizens of the state, who value their progressive stances on almost every social issue. They prefer educating the youth of the nation over giving tax breaks to the people who need it least.

So why is it that so few supporters of Governor Walker have spoken out since the debate started? Perhaps because less than 20% of the state's population physically voted for the Governor.

Wisconsin's census measured population was measured to be 5.6 million in 2010, the year the election took place. As you can see, less than half the population even participated in the election, and of those who did, just over 50% voted for Walker.
What's more, the Sunlight Foundation, an organization dedicated to exposing campaign funding in state and federal elections reports that Scott Walker was the highest receiver of Koch money on the state level during the 2010 election.
The Koch brothers are multi-billionaires who have donated huge amounts of money to the tea party movement and other Astroturf (fake grassroots) conservative causes. And though the Sunlight Foundation only covers $43,000 in donations to Walker's campaign, they don't record secondary contributions. The Koch brothers are reported to have bought several political ads during Walker's campaign, with costs numbering in the millions.

So the lesson to take form this is that Scott Walker was only elected through the use of millions of corporate dollars, with votes from a very small segment of the population, and that he is now imposing his will on an obviously unwilling people.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Soros vs Murdoch

In the news, two billionaires have been feuding over exactly who controls more of the mindless drones (middle class) in America. If you're the type who thinks with their Glen Beck, you'll immediately take sides. If you're the "Obama is the best president ever" type, you'll immediately pick the other side. So let's prove them both wrong by looking at the facts.

The two billionaires are George Soros and Rupert Murdoch. Obviously the two both have inordinate control over the political processes in the developed world, highlighting the more obvious flaws in our political systems. Personally, I believe we should implement a separation of corporation and state in a similar fashion that the US has a separation of church and state.

Net worth:
Soros- ~$14.2 billion
Murdoch- ~$6.2 billion

Soros is the obvious winner. If he put his mind to it, the man could probably buy half of Europe. But where does he spend his money? What does he influence?

Relevant Political contributions:
Soros- $23 million Soros made it his personal mission during the 2004 election to defeat incumbent President Bush, which obviously failed. he has also donated over $7 billion to non-partisan causes such as donations to universities.
Murdoch- Though Murdoch was a citizen of Australia until 1987 and was thus unable to contribute to American political campaigns, he is widely regarded as a king maker. He owns NewsCorp which has employed numerous prominent public figures, including Olliver North, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and the political clown Glen Beck.

Winner: Murdoch. Twenty three million dollars towards a failed presidential campaign is insubstantial compared to owning an entire conglomerate of media and biased news outlets.

"Spreading the Message":
Soros: List of journalism provided by Soros (click for link)

Winner: Obviously Murdoch. Here's an info graphic of all his holdings.

Overall winner? It's up to you. Do you believe that Soros' $7 billion contributions over the years solidifies his status as the ultimate evil overlord? Or do you believe Murdoch's ownership of one of the four major broadcast companies still left in the US, as well as fox news, makes his mindless followers more prevalent and potent? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Inequality in the United States

Not many people know, realize, or acknowledge that the gap between the rich and the poor in the US has been growing alarmingly fast over the past 50 or so years. Sure, we've all heard the news about the sorry state of the job market while Wall Street CEOs give each other hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses, but most of us never surmised exactly how dark the future looked for us and our children.

Here's a graph showing exactly how big that gap has grown:

And here's how that compares to how Americans want it to be:

Don't get me wrong, an essential part of capitalism involves the rich being insanely wealthy while the rest remain destitute, but the degree to which America is now experiencing that is now nearly unprecedented.
Back in 2008, the US passed a .45 on the Gini Ratio, the ratio which measures the concentration of wealth. If a nation were to reach a Gini ratio of exactly 1, the wealth of that nation would lie solely in the hands of a single individual. As it stands, America's coefficient is surpassed only by third-world countries.

Now, one in five Americans shows an inability to afford food:

So what can you do with this knowledge? Simply have it, and know it, and act upon it as you see fit. For a brighter future.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Hey followers, if ever there's a lapse in my regular tweeting or blogging routine, it's because I'm focusing on classwork. I just finished a big history paper so I'll be back to my routine.

Here's a comparison of data from states in the USA.

Education spending per pupil per state:

And here's educational results per state:

Notice the states that spend more on education almost always get better educational results. The outliers are Utah and West Virginia, yet even with them in the mix, the correlation is undeniable.
Look up other factors yourself at

Sunday, February 27, 2011

It's Funny!

I remember that, after Mubarak was kicked out of Egypt but before the pro-union worker movement began, one of my more conservative followers mentioned that Egypt-style protests would spring up in the United States with the ultimate purpose being the removal of President Obama.

Well, sociologically speaking, that might have been likely...if the right hadn't already exhausted their political clout fighting for the benefit of their political corporate benefactors by fighting health care reform! The delicious irony is that, since the right caused so many pointless protests back in November, the left now gets to take the opportunity to rise up against the right!

There could be no more justice in this situation. The teabaggers, whether they realize it or not, were protesting in favor of corporate oligarchy taking over our democratic system. And it backfired. The anti-worker bill will be defeated in Wisconsin, and the sentiment will spread to Florida, New Jersey, and Indiana.

Note to the teabagger-minded:
  • Union workers DO pay taxes. The value of their labor is subtracted from their paycheck in order to equal exactly what a private worker would pay.
  • Plus, the workers already accepted a cut on wages and benefits. The Governor still refuses to negotiate. The remainder of the debate is about collective bargaining, or basically the right of the union to exist at all.
  • Some claim that it is the "corrupt Union Bosses" versus the Koch bros. All I can say is that it is not the union bosses out protesting in 20 degree weather. It's the hardworking American people.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Party Politics

Tired of Dems and Repubs battling it out over who can screw you better? I sure am. That's why America needs an individual taxpayer-centered third party to keep us on top. And since we all know how weak the libertarian, green, and socialist parties are, it's time for a completely new option.

Vote for the Lemon Party with me in the next election! Only they are capable of throwing the Lemons out of the Federal Government.

For A Bitter Tomorrow!

PS: Party politics matter to keep any democratic (or republican) society healthy and strong. No matter how much it seems like one side or both sides are hurting the little guy, the solution is never to say "F@#k it, I'm not voting." Protesting by NOT getting your opinion out? Idiotic. You have the power to vote out the bums and the corrupt, so USE that power!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Koch Whores

If you're like me, you'd rather see public benefits go toward the American people than two greedy, corrupting billionaires. That's why I'm posting a list of Koch products for my readers to boycott with me, if you so choose.

Note: The Union workers pay for 100% of their pension and benefits through deferred wages. These aren't freeloaders who "get something for nothing."

Update: The bill has passed the senate to the shouts of "Shame, shame!" from the protesters. Illegally.

Koch Products:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Libya Update

I've been focus very heavily on Wisconsin lately when there's actually a more pressing round of protests out there.

Libya is the country in the Middle East where the protests have really taken off, though unfortunately it is also the country where the most protesters are dying. President Omar Qaddafi has actually ordered his troops to fire live ammunition at the protesters, resulting in a body count of over 100. He then ordered those same troops to kill certain disloyal factions within the army who would not fire on unarmed civilians. The troops burned their barracks down.

Meanwhile, the protests only escalated. Some cities have actually been captured by the pro-democracy protesters, resulting in a situation similar to a civil war. Qaddafi, meanwhile, was going on a tangent about how the Protesters were all on hallucinogenic drugs, garnered from a foreign source. The president's rant was nearly incoherent at times, but he made perfectly clear the fact that he would not voluntarily leave the country any time soon.

Unfortunately, with the UN's recent resolution to not intervene in the conflict, the protesters are alone in their fight to force out the raving lunatic. I wish them huge amount of luck in their quest for democracy.

  • Meanwhile, overseas gas prices have been soaring thanks to the middle east unrest.
  • In China, a Planned "Jasmine Revolution" was put down by security forces who arrested several of the organizers of the protests, leaving the attendees to mull about at the protest site.
  • Protests in Bahrain and Algeria continue, though they are receiving substantially less coverage thanks to the happenings in Libya.
  • Wisconsin protests continue unchanged. Governor Walker still refuses to negotiate with unionists.

Monday, February 21, 2011


If you didn't have the time to read through my last post, here's a shorter version with some added bonuses.
  • The governor is pushing through a bill that would cause three major changes to the state's union structure.
  1. Their ability to bargain with their employers is reduced.
  2. Their ability to collect dues is undercut.
  3. An annual secret ballot would be necessary to vote the union back into existence every year.
  • The bill would effectively slash salaries and benefits to state employees in order to close the budget gap left from the governor's $200 million donation to corporate interests.
  • The unions have agreed to these concessions, and they are only interested in keeping their collective bargaining rights. They want to get rid of the above three changes. This is not about the money, this is about rights.
  • Governor Walker has rejected union concessions of giving up salaries and benefits in order to keep collective bargaining rights. He has made it his personal mission to dissolve the state's unions.
  • Governor Walker has received the majority of his campaign financing from Tea Party supporting billionaire Koch Brothers, who are now funding efforts to disrupt the protests.
  • At least 100,000 are expected to show up to the capitol building in protest today as a few rock legends are expected to put on an awesome show.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

On Wiunion

For days, demonstrators have been pouring into the streets of Madison, Wisconsin—and the halls of the state's Capitol building—to protest rookie Republican Governor Scott Walker's anti-union proposals. Big national unions, both major political parties, the tea party and Andrew Breitbart, are already involved. Democratic state senators have fled the state to prevent the legislature from voting on Walker's proposals. And the protests could soon spread to other states, including Ohio.

What's actually being proposed?

Walker says his legislation, which would strip most state employees of any meaningful collective bargaining rights, is necessary to close the state's $137 million budget gap. There are a number of problems with that argument, though. The unions are not to blame for the deficit, and

stripping unionized workers of their collective bargaining rights won't in and of itself save any money. Walker says he needs to strip the unions of their rights to close the gap. But public safety officers' unions, which have members who are more likely to support Republicans and who also tend to have the highest salaries and benefits, are exempted from the new rules. Meanwhile, a series of tax breaks and other goodies that Walker and the Republican legislature passed just after his inauguration dramatically increased the deficit that Walker now says he's trying to close. And Wisconsin has closed a much larger budget gap in the past without scrapping worker organizing rights.

What's really going on, as Kevin Drum has explained, is pure partisan warfare: Walker is trying to de-fund the unions that form the backbone of the Democratic party. The unions and the Democrats are, of course, fighting back. The Washington Post's Ezra Klein drops some knowledge [emphasis added]:

The best way to understand Walker's proposal is as a multi-part attack on the sta

te's labor unions. In part one, their ability to bargain benefits for their members is reduced. In part two, their ability to collect dues, and thus spend money organizing members or lobbying the legislature, is undercut. And in part three, workers have to vote the union back into existence every single year. Put it all together and it looks like this: Wisconsin's unions can't deliver value to their members, they're deprived of the resources

to change the rules so they can start delivering value to their members again, and because of that, their members eventually give in to employer pressure and shut the union down in one of the annual certification elections.

You may think Walker's proposal is a good idea or a bad idea. But that's what it does. And it's telling that he's exempting the unions that supported him and is trying to obscure his plan's specifics behind misleading language about what unions can still bargain for and misleading rhetoric about the state's budget.

Walker's proposals do have important fiscal elements: they roughly double health care premiums for many state employees. But the heart of the proposals, and the controversy, are the provisions that will effectively destroy public-sector unions in the Badger State. As Matt Yglesias notes, this won't destroy the Democratic party. But it will force the party to seek funding from sources other than unions, and that usually means the same rich businessmen who are the main financial backers for the Republican party. Speaking of which....

Who is Scott Walker?

Walker was elected governor in the GOP landslide of 2010, when Republicans also gained control of the Wisconsin state senate and house of representatives. His political career has been bankrolled by Charles and David Koch, the very rich, very conservative, and very anti-union oil-and-gas magnates. Koch-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Reason Foundation have long taken a very antagonistic view toward public-sector unions. They've used their vast fortunes to fight key Obama initiatives on health care and the environment, while writing fat checks to Republican candidates across the country. Walker's take for the 2010 election: $43,000 from the Koch Industries PAC, his second highest intake from any one donor. But that's not all!:

The Koch's PAC also helped Walker via a familiar and much-used political maneuver designed to allow donors to skirt campaign finance limits. The PAC gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent $65,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent a whopping $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker's opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Walker ended up beating Barrett by 5 points. The Koch money, no doubt, helped greatly.

What are the Democrats and the unions doing to respond?

Well, they're protesting, obviously—filling the halls of the Capitol and the streets of Madison with bodies and signs. They're calling their representatives and talking about recalling Walker (who cannot be recalled until next January) or any of eight GOP state senators who are eligible for recall right now. Meanwhile, all of the Democratic state senators have left the state in an attempt to deny Republicans the quorum they need to vote on Walker's proposals, but if just one of them returns (or is hauled back by state troopers), the GOP will have the quorum they need. (Interestingly, the head of the state patrol in the father of the Republican heads of the state senate and house of representatives, who are brothers.) Finally, Wisconsin public school teachers have been calling in sick, forcing schools to close while teachers in over a dozen other school

districts picket the capitol, plan vigils, and set up phone banks to try to block Walker's effort.

How could this spread?

Other Republican-governed states are trying to mimic Walker's assault on public employee unions. The GOP won a resounding series of state-level victories in high-union-density states in November. Now they can use their newly-won power to crack down on one of the Democrats' biggest sources of funds, volunteers, and political power. Plans are already under consideration in places like Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan.

How are conservatives working to support Walker?:

It was only a matter of time till the Tea Party got in on the action. Stephanie Mencimer reports that activists are bussing into Madison, and are "promising a massive counter-demonstration." The push is being led by American Majority, a conservative activist group that trains impressionable young foot soldiers to become state-level candidates (check out their ""I Stand With Scott Walker Rally" Facebook page). Founded by Republican operatives, the well-funded group (which, according to tax fillings, had a budget of nearly $2 million in 2009) gets much of its money from a group with ties to those adorable Koch brothers. Conservative media baron Andrew Breitbart will be leading the rally, and will be joined by presidential candidate Herman Cain and maybe—if we're lucky—Joe "The Plumber" Wurtzelbacher. Expect fireworks.

  • The words above were not written by me but by the great people at
  • Unfortunately for the Tea Baggers, less than 2,000 supporters of the governor actually showed up, resulting in a majority of pro-union supporters at a ratio of at least 35-1.
  • A huge protest is being planned for pro-unionists on Monday, with over 100,000 expected to show up.
  • I was having a lovely discussion with a misinformed right-winger last night. It turns out the protests are over "collective bargaining rights" or, basically, the right for the union to exist. This is not a drain on the state at all.
  • The right wing hate machine will do their darndest to lie, cheat, and spin in order to make it seem like the unionist protesters are the bad guys, but in reality they are simply peaceful teachers, firefighters, and police looking to keep their right to organize. These people did not cause the deficit and they certainly are not looking for handouts. They just want to keep their current jobs.

Friday, February 18, 2011

It's Nice Outside

Screw the polar bears, it's a nice day.

Just kidding, you should save the polar bears.

In Other News:
-Wisconsin has experienced protests against an anti-union bill that has little standing on the budget of the state. If it passes, thousands of state workers including teachers, firefighters, and police officers, would lose benefits for no reason other than the fact that the neocons had an agenda. Yesterday, all democratic state senators left the state to prevent a quorum on the proposed bill. Around 30,000 protesters had gathered in front of the state's capitol building in order to oppose the measure.

-The informant who convinced the US that Iraq had chemical weapons which prompted the 2003 invasion was discovered to be a liar. He knowingly tricked the western world into invading Iraq based on a lie. Ultimate facepalm.

-The US has unexpectedly joined in a international board to officially censure Israel. In my opinion, the state of Israel is the best hope of bringing peace and progressivism to the Middle East. But if this conference leads to that peace sooner rather than later, it is certainly a good thing.

-A giant cheeseburger, later revealed to be the one true God, has eaten the polar ice caps which lead to a dramatic increase in warm temperatures in the United States. Tomorrow, the oceans are expected to turn into mcdonald's special sauce. I wonder who actually reads this far into my blog.

-The US recently cracked down on over 100 medical practices in order to try to prevent medicare fraud. Saving money through getting rid of illegal activity is always a good idea, so long as you make sure no innocents are harmed in the process.

-Protests in Libya, Yemen, and Bahrain have experienced a crackdown from police. In Bahrain, nearly 50 were injured and in Yemen around 24 were killed.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


  • The Patriot Act passed the Senate yesterday. President Obama is expected to sign it soon. Then we will continue living without our fourth amendment rights.
  • Democrats and Tea Partiers have also worked together to try to block $3 billion worth of defense spending which would only serve to increase our debt and make John Boehner look good. Seems like the libertarian Tea Party candidates finally realized the republican talking point about "smaller government' is really just a false facade.
  • Bahrain, a tiny middle eastern island nation, has had the most successful protests. Citizens have crowded into an important city square in a demonstration reminiscent of Egypt's protests. Earlier today, they were attacked by riot police while camping there overnight. I wish them luck in their attempts to truly change things.
  • Wisconsin has had its own protests. over 10,000 have gathered at the State capitol in order to object to the radical cuts proposed by the state's republicans. if only my state would do the same...
  • Justin Beiber on general politics: “I’m not sure about the parties. But whatever they have in Korea, that’s bad.” And people wonder why I hate this kid.
  • Unfortunately I have no Vlad comic for my followers this time, but here's something amusing

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

American Update

This is urgent. You now have a chance to stand up for your constitutional rights. It is a basic truth of politics that rights are not self-enforcing, and that sometimes you have tot take action.

Now before you try to overthrow the US government yourself, know that I'm simply talking about an online petition. But it's a really important online petition, trust me. You now have the chance to stop the extension of the worst infringement upon the fourth amendment since WW2, the Patriot Act.

This isn't a partisan issue, this is about the rights of the individual. Note that democrats in congress are attempting to form an alliance with tea party and libertarian candidates to block the extension of the bill.

Note: the ACLU and the EFF are working to block the bill. They're the good guys.

I've already contacted my senator after my idiot of a congressman voted in favor of the bill. I hope you will do the same.

Edit: If you'd like to call or email your senator, HERE's a list. I'll be calling mine as soon as my law and politics class is over.
Please, everyone take the short amount of time needed to write out a simple email regarding this rights-infringing bill. If you'd like me to write a quick copy-paste message here just let me know.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Demise of the Glenn Beck Program

Well good news for anyone who (like me) was just waiting for the day when the insane and politically-illiterate Glenn Beck got his just desserts.

In just under one month EIGHT advertisers have dropped Beck as a sponsor. In the UK, the program has been running without commercials for 5 days now. Two of these aforementioned sponsors have dropped the Fox News network entirely, meaning that Beck is now actually a drain on their funding.
Even the StopBeck twitter feed had been in a good mood.

Recently, Beck want on yet another wild and unsupported rant, though this time the subject was Egypt. Beck managed to tie in Egypt with George Soros, the Green movement, Van Jones, President Obama, and an imaginary "Communist insurrection' which...doesn't...exist...

Here's another Faux Noise pundit telling Beck that maybe he should tone it down:
You know it's gotten bad when "you-can't-explain-that" O'Reilly tells you you've extrapolated too far.

Remember, this is the same Beck who has:
-Called the first black president a racist
-Called Senator Marie Landrieu a "high class prostitute"
-Called the first Muslim congressman a Terrorist
-Called holocaust survivor George Soros a Nazi sympathizer
-Launched an unsubstantiated campaign of hatred against anyone he perceived to be his enemy, setting off a new "red scare"

So I call upon my followers, before the next time you insult George Soros, Van Jones, or the President, think for a second and make sure you're not just playing directly into the hands of the wingnuts of Fixed Noise?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy V-tines Day

Happy Valentines Day to all my followers. If you're like me, you're spending the day finishing your homework and then curling up alone with some Star Trek The Next Generation.

Then again, I will have Deanna Troi to keep me company. She could be my valentine any day of the year.

In other news, there's been no significant updates in the news so just chill for now. Except, of course, for the introduction to our new robot overlord on Jeopardy.

Dueling Budgets

Earlier this Week, US Republicans unveiled their budget plan which is projected to cut $61 billion off this year's budget. Their proposed cuts include limiting or ending funding to the Department of Education and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Obama this morning has unveiled his own budget which would cut $1.1 trillion over the next 10 years, or ~$110 billion per year. Cuts in this plan come from placing a spending freeze on domestic projects. Unfortunately, even this plan falls short of the $4 trillion in domestic cuts that would be needed to rectify the deficit.

Neither plan addresses the three biggest contributors to the US budget: Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security, and Defense spending. However the lesser of the two evils would have to be Obama's plan. The republicans' is filled with impulsive reactions to programs that would actually save money if they were left alone.

Other Updates:
-Iran protests began earlier today as young university students met riot police in the streets. Continuity is not assured but hopeful. The US State Dept has launched a twitter account in Farsi in order to show support for the protesters.
-Protests in Yemen and Algeria are still going on but only Algeria seems to be picking up steam. Al Jazeera is now giving them equal time as Egypt's aftermath.
-The Grammys are going on. Maybe. I'm actively trying not to pay attention.
-Vlad Putin is still a badass.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

F!@# Yeah Anthony Weiner

Representative Anthony Weiner is possibly the most Principled Progressive ever to perpetuate his platform in a postmodern population.
A short list of the man's accomplishments:
-served on the Committee on Energy and Commerce (whatever that is)
-was a roommate with Jon Stewart in college
-stood up for healthcare reform even when his party was too chicken to do so
-defended the awesome notion of a public option in america
-advocated the unpopular decision of cutting defense spending
-called out unprincipled colleagues for being "wholly owned subsidiar[ies] of industry."
-blasted hypocrites for voting against the "9/11 First Responders Act"
-stood up to Bill O'Reilly. You can't explain that.

This man is like a "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" type character come to life. If Mr. Smith had huge swinging brass balls and was named Weiner. Honestly, I would vote for this guy fro president. Just look at this badass call for a Supreme Court Justice to excuse himself from an important case:

Routine Updates

-After Egypt Military has taken control of the country after Mubarak's resignation, they have pledged to ensure civilian rule. This is huge news tot hose who feared Mubarak's crones would regain power or that the military would rule.

-Algerian protests are still going strong. It's still unclear whether they will pick up enough steam to make a significant change. Meanwhile in Yemen, protesters have been getting savagely beaten by riot police.

-Similar protests are scheduled in Iran for Monday. The US has urged Ahmadinejad to allow the rally in an unexpectedly forceful stance.

-In the EU, the notion that multiculturalism has failed is spreading. First the Prime Minister of the UK and then the President of France have made official statements to that effect. This will most likely serve only to heighten anti-muslim sentiments across Europe.

-I've reached 200 followers! Thanks, all.

-Here's Al Jazeera's recent News Update

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Next Stop: Algeria

Egypt-style protests have begun in another dictator-plagued North African country, Algeria. Thousands of pro-reform protesters have gathered in downtown Algiers chanting the mantra of the protest, "No to the police state"

Since this is only the beginning of the protests (and hopefully not the end), it is unclear as to exactly how much support they have. Reports are that nearly 10,000 showed up today alone, however the police are expected to take a much more hand-on role in preventing the protests than in Egypt.
The government of Algeria has just shut down social media sites like twitter and facebook in a similar manner of the *former* governments of Tunisia and Egypt.
I wish the protesters of Algiers luck in their venture, and would like to remind them to keep the protests peaceful, progressive, and secular.
As with Egypt, I will be monitoring the protests and will blog about any relevant updates. And also as with Egypt, updates can be found with the only reliable middle east news network, Al Jazeera at

Countries where similar protests have the potential to form:
-Saudi Arabia
-Most likely Not the US or the western countries

Anonymous Uncovers Right-Wing Big Business Conspiracy

If this were truly a free country, this would be THE biggest headline in the news right now.

Anonymous is a loose coalition of hackers on steroids who are dedicated to the freedom of the domain of the internet. Based out of Ebaumsworld(?), they dedicate their time to the free spread of information regardless of the origin. And this past week they've uncovered something huge.

Apparently the right-wing Chamber of Commerce-which represents such huge corporations as ExxonMobil and AIG-has been hiring hackers and infiltrators to disrupt the goings-on of its political enemies including ThinkProgress and the Service Employees Union

The implications are obvious. Not only does this confirm the existence of a class war in the United States, but it demonstrates exactly how the Middle Class is losing without even being aware of it.

A separate leak showed a conspiracy by Bank of America and its big business partners to defame Wikileaks and Glenn Greenwald of BraveNewFilms who wrote in support of the site.

Anonymous may truly be the last, best hope for humanity.

Other Updates:
-The US House of Representatives has once again passed the "Patriot" Act which is a huge infringement on individual rights as well as the biggest insult to the fourth amendment perhaps since the US was a British colony. The yea votes were largely republicans while the nays were largely democrats.
-Egypt President Hosni Mubarak has officially stepped down as President of Egypt. Ruling power now resides in the hands of a military governing council as well as the vice president Omar Sulieman.
-I got rid of my pop-out ads. I know how annoying they were.