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America is ours

July 4, 2008

Some people will insist that Independence Day in the United States is an occasion ill befitting a partisan political rant. To those people I say: Screw you. Read another blog.

With that out of the way, let us consider the sad fact that the American right has effectively co-opted patriotism. Not only have they convinced themselves–and the media– that they are the most patriotic Americans alive, they have convinced many lefties as well! Many’s the time when I have seen left-leaning Americans shy away from expressions of patriotism simply because they believe such expressions connote the kind of jingoistic right-wing craziness that makes them want to vomit.

To those Americans–my fellow liberals and Democrats–I remind you that America is ours, too.

William Lloyd Garrison is ours.

Frederick Douglass is ours.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt is ours.

Martin Luther King is ours.

John F. Kennedy is ours.

Barack Obama is ours, too.

So, let us give thanks for the benefits that these and other patriotic Americans have given us.

If your workplace is safe; if your children go to school rather than being forced into labor; if you are paid a living wage, including overtime; if you enjoy a forty-hour week and you are allowed to join a union to protect your rights- you can thank liberals. if your food is not poisoned and your water is drinkable – you can thank liberals. If your parents are eligible for Medicare and Social Security, so they can grow old in dignity without bankrupting your family – you can thank liberals. If our rivers are getting cleaner and our air isn’t black with pollution; if our wilderness is protected and our countryside is still green – you can thank liberals. If people of all races can share the same public facilities; if everyone has the right to vote; if couples fall in love and marry regardless of race; if we have finally begun to transcend a segregated society – you can thank liberals. Progressive innovations like those and so many others were achieved by long, difficult struggles against entrenched power. What defined conservatism, and conservatives, was their opposition to everyone of those advances. (Joe Conason)

Finally, it is with all this in mind that I wish you a heartfelt and happy Independence Day here in the greatest nation on earth.

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  1. I am shocked that no right wingers chimed in on this one…


  2. I know, right?! I think I’ve lost a good portion of my audience since I don’t hang at some of the nuttier right-wing blogs anymore.


  3. I’m not right-winger, and I find you Republicans/Democrats jaw-droppingly crazy with your rah-rah-rah-go-team bullshit, but what that dude said is nonsense.

    The laws he appears to be referring too are redundant at best, and harmful at worst. You think people would just poison food absent a law? Why would we buy food from a company that poisons it? You’re in favor of Ponzi schemes so long as they are government run?

    Liberals/Conservatives trample personal freedom and individual rights all the time. It’s all of you–both of your ridiculous teams–that forgot what America is about.


  4. You think people would just poison food absent a law? Why would we buy food from a company that poisons it?

    You really don’t know the answers to these questions? Really?

    And you really don’t know the difference between a “Ponzi scheme” and Social Security? Honestly??

    You’re too smart for these kinds of statements, man.


  5. The answers to those questions are that most companies would continue to not poison food even if there were a law because poisoning food is bad for business. As are lawsuits. See e.g. Sizzler on HWY 100. Fear of being sued and having your company name smeared all over a papers is a far bigger incentive to not poison food than some little fine.

    Why don’t you explain the difference between social sceurity and a Ponzi scheme for me?


  6. poisoning food is bad for business.

    Things are not that simple. First, it presupposes that people who eat food that makes them sick know what caused it. Even in acute cases of e coli break out it takes teams of researchers weeks and months to figure out what caused it. You think individuals are going to know who’s tomatoes to avoid next time? C’mon. And we’re not even getting into food products that don’t cause you to become acutely ill within 24 hours, either. People are not epidemiologists. They’re not nutritionists. And they’re not likely to become them any time soon. A world where market forces fix all because everyone has all the information all of the time is just a dream.

    A Ponzi Scheme is an investment scam in which the thing you’re investing in doesn’t really exist. Social Security isn’t an investment plan–it’s insurance against an event we all hope to see and collect on: Old age. It works just fine. The fact that demographic fluctuations sometimes mean premiums must rise or benefits must decrease for a time doesn’t indicate that it is an inherently untenable situation.


  7. “A Ponzi Scheme is an investment scam in which the thing you’re investing in doesn’t really exist.”

    Sort of, but you’re missing the point. You’re focusing on the lie that the advertised return is attributed to, not the mechanism. The mechanism of the Ponzi scheme is the same as social security. It involves paying returns to investors out of money paid by subsequent investors. The lie involved in social security that get people like you behind it is that it is an insurance program. It’s not because the event that is purports to insure, as you noted, is getting old. Getting old enough to collect is not unlikely enough to insure.


  8. “First, it presupposes that people who eat food that makes them sick know what caused it.”

    No it doesn’t. It assumes that some people might know that they got sick and explore there options. Why is that an infair assumption? You have to make the same assumptions to draft regulations anyway.

    Look, this is what I’m trying to say. I don’t have data for food safety regulations, but I think the OSHA data below is helpful to illustrate the obvious point I’m trying to make:

    Annual OSHA penalties for safety violations (2002): $149,000,000

    Annual Workers Compensation Premiums (2001): $26,000,000,000

    Estimated Annual Wage Premiums for Risky Activities (2004 dollars): $245,000,000,000

    See, the market provides MUCH stronger incentives to be safe than do regulations.


  9. See, the market provides MUCH stronger incentives to be safe than do regulations.

    Yeah, tell that to Upton Sinclair. I’m just not buying it for a nanosecond.

    Getting old enough to collect is not unlikely enough to insure.

    Who says so? Pretty much everyone gets sick at one point or another, don’t they? We insure that, don’t we? Where’s the problem?

    It involves paying returns to investors out of money paid by subsequent investors.

    Social Security involves paying the claims of the old and infirm out of money paid by the able-bodied employed. Health insurance involves paying the claims of the sick out of money paid in by the healthy. So frickin’ what?

    I bet if you repealed Bush’s tax cuts on the top 3% of earners, Social Security would become solvent to kingdom come. It’s not fundamentally flawed, untenable or “broken.” It works fine.


  10. “Yeah, tell that to Upton Sinclair. I’m just not buying it for a nanosecond.”

    As much as he’d hate it, Upton Sinclair is a great example of what I’m talking about. He wrote a book that caused a huge uproar. Ultimately, it helped get some regulations passed, but the uproar itself was enough to push the meat industry into making changes.

    “Who says so? Pretty much everyone gets sick at one point or another, don’t they? We insure that, don’t we? Where’s the problem?”

    Webster says so. We shouldn’t insure the kinds of sicknesses that everyone gets. In order for something to be insurance, by definition, a contingency will be covered in consideration for payment proportional to the risk involved. If we’re “insuring” something that isn’t risky, we’re just splitting the check. Or passing the buck. Or entering into a Ponzi scheme.

    “Social Security involves paying the claims of the old and infirm out of money paid by the able-bodied employed. ”

    To-may-to, to-mah-to. It’s crazy you you liberals/conservatives can never admit when they are wrong. Would you admit that the “old and infirm” are people that previously invested (or paid) into social security? Would you agree that the money they are now recieving is paid by able-bodied employed people that are now “investing” into social security?

    “Health insurance involves paying the claims of the sick out of money paid in by the healthy. So frickin’ what?”

    Health insurance is paying claims of the sick out of money paid in by a bunch of people to cover the possibility that a few people in that group will become sick. That’s an important difference.

    “I bet if you repealed Bush’s tax cuts on the top 3% of earners, Social Security would become solvent to kingdom come. It’s not fundamentally flawed, untenable or “broken.” It works fine.”

    Maybe. But no other Ponzi scheme has ever made it. They all collapse. And the bush tax cut on the top 3% of earners aren’t cuts to the social security tax. Social security is super duper regressive. The top 3% of earners pay the same into social security as people that make just $100,000 a year regardless of the Bush tax cuts.


  11. I can see how the definition of “insurance” is somewhat maliable these days, but could you at least admit that Social Security meets the definition of a Ponzi Scheme? Or is the Republican/Democrat in you preventing you from examining the evidence and coming to the appropriate conclusion?


  12. Even if you still like it, couldn’t you at least say, “Yes it’s a Ponzi Scheme, but in this case it’s acceptable.” Maybe you could even explain why it is acceptable while still calling it a Ponzi Scheme? Or maybe you think all Ponzi Schemes are acceptable? It would just say so much about you, positively, if you wouldn’t argue with the dictionary (or more likely the encyclopedia in this case) like you’re Fred Dooley or something.


  13. I think it’s highly misleading to say that Social Security is like a Ponzi scheme–not because of how its definition is worded, but because one of them is a completely untenable investment racket (which is why it’s illegal), and the other is a successful and perfectly sustainable social safety net, the likes of which is used all over the world. Ignoring this fundamental difference and saying that they are “like” one another is extremely misleading.


  14. Very odd examples that you chose to cite as Democrat icons:

    Abolitionists were generally in line with Republican thinking. It was the Democrats who brought us slavery and Jim Crow. It was Lincoln who stood up to end the institution.

    While Roosevelt started many of the left’s favorite social institutions, he actually felt that they should be used as a helping hand instead of a way of life. Roosevelt also ran in 1940 on a promise to keep American soldiers out of foreign wars, even as he was sending war materials and aid to Britain, stationing US troops in harms way, and working behind the scenes in an attempt to take America headlong into WW2.

    As for MLK, well I seem to have read someplace that it was Democrats standing in those schoolhouse doors, and Democrats dircting that those firehoses be used against civil rights marchers. Also, it was Republican President Eisenhower who pushed to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1957 ( first civils rights legislation since reconstruction) and sent troops to Arkansas to desegregate schools. President Eisenhower also appointed Chief Justice Earl Warren to the U.S. Supreme Court which resulted in the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision ending school segregation.

    Kennedy too? Well, let us remember that Democrat President John F. Kennedy voted against the 1957 Civil rights Act while he was a senator, as did Democrat Senator Al Gore, Sr. JFK was opposed to the 1963 March on Washington by Dr. King (which was organized by A. Phillip Randolph, a black Republican). JFK asked then Attorney General Robert Kennedy to have Dr. King wiretapped and investigated by the FBI on suspicion of being a Communist. JFK also bolstered the US military and began our involvement in Vietnam.

    Barack Obama? Well, him you can have. Change that keeps on changing.

    Perhaps you should rethink your list of liberal idols before you pat yourself on the back for being so pro-American.


  15. Very nice!!



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