Chronicling the follies of religion and superstition, the virtues of skepticism, and the wonders of the real (natural) universe as revealed by science. Plus other interesting and educational stuff.
"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."
“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.
“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”
The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.
The modern American right, and much of the alleged center, is obsessed with the notion that low tax rates at the top are essential to growth…
Yet in the 1950s incomes in the top bracket faced a marginal tax rate of 91, that’s right, 91 percent, while taxes on corporate profits were twice as large, relative to national income, as in recent years. The best estimates suggest that circa 1960 the top 0.01 percent of Americans paid an effective federal tax rate of more than 70 percent, twice what they pay today.
Nor were high taxes the only burden wealthy businessmen had to bear. They also faced a labor force with a degree of bargaining power hard to imagine today. In 1955 roughly a third of American workers were union members. In the biggest companies, management and labor bargained as equals, so much so that it was common to talk about corporations serving an array of “stakeholders” as opposed to merely serving stockholders…
[E]conomic justice and economic growth aren’t incompatible. America in the 1950s made the rich pay their fair share; it gave workers the power to bargain for decent wages and benefits; yet contrary to right-wing propaganda then and now, it prospered. And we can do that again.
The Congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein have been making waves with a new book acknowledging a truth that, until now, was unmentionable in polite circles. They say our political dysfunction is largely because of the transformation of the Republican Party into an extremist force that is “dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.” You can’t get cooperation to serve the national interest when one side of the divide sees no distinction between the national interest and its own partisan triumph.
So how did that happen? For the past century, political polarization has closely tracked income inequality, and there’s every reason to believe that the relationship is causal. Specifically, money buys power, and the increasing wealth of a tiny minority has effectively bought the allegiance of one of our two major political parties, in the process destroying any prospect for cooperation.
And the takeover of half our political spectrum by the 0.01 percent is, I’d argue, also responsible for the degradation of our economic discourse, which has made any sensible discussion of what we should be doing impossible.
Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison operator in America, statement to stockholders, 2005.
In other words: ending the Drug War and eliminating federal mandatory minimum sentences is bad for business. Adam Gopnik notes that CCA “spends millions lobbying legislators.” presumably, inter alia, to keep harsh sentencing laws on the books. Then he nails it:
Brecht could hardly have imagined such a document: a capitalist enterprise that feeds on the misery of man trying as hard as it can to be sure that nothing is done to decrease that misery.
BARF. Seriously, the privatization of prisons makes me feel sick to my stomach.
The lives of people who are ruined over this? Money is more important, right?
And shit won’t be done about it because it’s not something the affects people’s day to day lives enough for them to get pissed about it.
Welcome to the plutarchy.(via ignatius-m)
Silly me, I always assumed that “reducing demand for correctional facilities” was the goal! God, I’m so naive.
The way to understand [the Right’s reaction to Occupy Wall Street] is to realize that it’s part of a broader syndrome, in which wealthy Americans who benefit hugely from a system rigged in their favor react with hysteria to anyone who points out just how rigged the system is…
Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe realize, deep down, how morally indefensible their position is. They’re not John Galt; they’re not even Steve Jobs. They’re people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.
Yet they have paid no price. Their institutions were bailed out by taxpayers, with few strings attached. They continue to benefit from explicit and implicit federal guarantees — basically, they’re still in a game of heads they win, tails taxpayers lose. And they benefit from tax loopholes that in many cases have people with multimillion-dollar incomes paying lower rates than middle-class families.
This special treatment can’t bear close scrutiny — and therefore, as they see it, there must be no close scrutiny. Anyone who points out the obvious, no matter how calmly and moderately, must be demonized and driven from the stage. In fact, the more reasonable and moderate a critic sounds, the more urgently he or she must be demonized, hence the frantic sliming of Elizabeth Warren.
So who’s really being un-American here? Not the protesters, who are simply trying to get their voices heard. No, the real extremists here are America’s oligarchs, who want to suppress any criticism of the sources of their wealth.
Noam Chomsky, Understanding Power (via theworldofsleepers)
Karl Frisch on Countdown with Keith Olbermann (via domestic-terrorism)
On Labor day tweet @KeithOlbermann @TMorello @MMFlint @CornellWest @DylanRatigan
Tweet @ each of them individually tagged #occupywallst
Ask them for their help and support, basically for their voice. Be interesting, funny, and/or persuasive, stroke egos.
“End American plutocracy. Sept 17th #occupywallst. Lend us your voice Mike. @MMFlint
“This is the last Labor Day we celebrate in bad faith. #occupywallst needs your voice @KeithOlbermann”
If you don’t have a twitter, get one (or two actually) and do this. Between them, they have millions of followers, viewers, active supporters, and fans. Tweets seem stupid I know, but if they mean a few hundred or a few thousand more attendees, they could bring us to critical mass; we can begin the end of corporate rule-by-wealth. Time is becoming crucial. Please do this.
Abraham Lincoln, more or less predicting the future. (via cognitivedissonance)