Monday, December 23, 2013

Why the poor should vote

Believe it or not, some candidates deserve to win elections, or rather, we deserve for them to win.  I've been trying to help a very strong advocate for the downtrodden win a state election in my district, so I am once again facing a hard political reality: the downtrodden don't vote.  It's a double-whammy.  Lower-income folks don't vote as much as upper-income folks, who also have more money to give.  But we still don't vote.  All the effort our side spends trying to limit political spending (although I agree we can never compete monetarily) would be much better spent turning out our people (where our true strength lies, in numbers), and everything that entails.  It means organizing, organizing, organizing, changing the laws to remove barriers to registering and voting, and organizing.

And here I have another bone to pick with some friends on the left. Some say it makes no difference to vote.  But if you're living on minimum wage, bub, and one side wants to raise it and the other side wants to get rid of it or keep it down, believe you me, it matters.

Everybody says Americans are the worst at showing up to vote.  Not true, actually.  The Swiss are worse, and sometimes so are Canadians.  In Brazil and Australia, you have to vote. It's the law.  (So it's not really a fair comparison.)  But does this make their result better?  I don't know.  Here's an interesting discussion of it, whether you agree with the conclusions or not.  (Check out the results about what voters don't know.  But, sorry, no, it doesn't mean you're smarter if you're not voting.  Just the opposite!)

I do know there are a lot of reasons Americans don't vote.  My two favorite sociologists ("You have favorite sociologists?") Frances Fox-Piven and Richard Cloward have written a few books about it and related effects (see Why Americans Don't Vote, Why Americans Still Don't Vote, and Poor Peoples' Movements).  Some of this has changed since Jim Crow ended and "Motor Voter" passed, but two facts remain: (1) Most people who are registered to vote actually do vote, and (2) There are still barriers to registering.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Get a Better Job - I'd Love to!

Along with a couple hundred other cities, our community had a big rally for fast-food workers Dec. 5.  About 75 people stood on a corner outside a McDonald's in bitter cold, waving signs, chanting and cheering at passing cars, Santa came with his naughty list (hint: McDonald's was on it), and we even tried to go inside the store to deliver the good news that low-wage jobs need not be so miserable if we all stand together and fight for justice (a couple of suits who claimed to be security blocked the doorways).  Media coverage was pretty good, and a good time was had by all.

However, a handful of detractors seemed to think that fast-food workers should just get a better job if the pay is so bad.  Well, there's a simple answer to that.  (More on the more complex answer another time.)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Rush to B.S.

I listened to a little Rush Limbaugh today (I know, a little goes a long way) trash-talking Obama (I know) about income inequality.  But he didn't talk much about in-equality.  He yells and screams about "equality" (as if anybody ever mentions that any more) and how it's not possible, never happens, "sameness isn't possible," blah, blah blah, blowhard.  This is what is known in logic -- something Rush avoids whenever possible (but he does try to appear to use it) -- as a straw dog.  It means Rush decided it was more fun to talk about something else and just appear to be talking about the same thing.

BTW, Obama never talks about economic "equality" and probably doesn't believe in it, -- and definitely doesn't support it.  What he and other Democrats sometimes talk about is how much inequality we have in the USA.  What most USAns believe, including Republicans, is that we have too much.  So you really don't have to be a "socialist" -- which Obama is not -- to want to rein it in.

But here's one interesting point while we're on the subject.  Rush claims in his rant that:
  1. the USA has the highest living standard in the world (untrue - see my previous post),
  2. the USA has the most economic freedom (untrue - also see my previous post), and
  3. no government program since the beginning of time has ever increased the living standards of a nation (STRRRRIIIIKE THREEEEE!  see Social Security, a very successful anti-poverty program for almost 80 years now).
Anyway, the straw-dog-meister then starts yelling about what "really pisses [him] off" (doesn't everything?).  And it's how the rich are "being demonized" -- you just can't make this stuff up!  On and on he shouts about people citing the rich getting richer.  And then he confirms it, reading a bunch of (conservative) data about the top income brackets increasing their income by 60% then 50% (a lot of money if you're already at the top) by smaller and smaller percentages as he drops the income ladder (never mentioning of course that even the same percentage on a lower income is a lot lower, much less a smaller and smaller and smaller percentage).

But this is all part and parcel of what Limbo does best.  He loves to take a part of an argument, without the parts that make it make sense (out of context), and ridicule the whole based on the part.  It's like holding up a spark plug and yelling, "This thing can't carry people around!  They must think we're stupid!"   Actually, it's Limbo who thinks we're stupid.