I had a long comment on David Brooks' article yesterday. Allison Kilkenny has a good one today which takes a different approach. And, in case anyone wants to point out that slave labor was limited to the south, I suggest they read any good history of industrialization in the north. 'Free labor' is never free when the power is concentrated largely on the other side. The only freedom laborers had was to work them selves to death or starve to death. The freedom to move simply meant to do either in a different location. Southern commentators and novelists of the pre-Civil War period contrasted their labor system with that of the north and, surprise!!, found it more benevolent. The Southerners called the northern, industrial system as 'wage slavery' with good reason.
Susien Madrak at Crooks and Liars has a few pertinent comments on the anniversary 'celebrations' of 9/11. I agree with her on two points: 1) the coverage, as with so much else in our media, does border on the pornographic and 2) I really don't need the reminder. I find this 'cult of perpetual mourning' depressing, irritating, and completely exaggerated. I can understand the families of those who died still feeling the loss but the entire nation??? But then our response to this event has been so thoroughly exaggerated that I wonder about our collective psyche. I don't think it is very healthy.
Nicole Belle, also at Crooks and Liars, very nicely says much of what I have been thinking about the 'Bush Tax Cuts' and whether they should expire. Of course, much of my opinion is founded on my reaction when the cuts were passes: 'Tax cut??? What tax cut??' If you have seen any of the graphs showing who got the lion's share of the cut, you can readily guess why I asked that question. I really, really have a hard time with those politicians who on the one hand insist that we must, must, must address the budget deficit and then, on the other, pretend that tax cuts won't expand the deficit and will actually grow the economy. I simply don't see how either of those propositions hold water. However, I doubt that any of the elected representatives will listen to the polls cited. They have a wonderful ability to ignore unpleasant information that contradicts their opinions. Nor do they feel they have any real responsibility to faithfully represent their constituents. Unless, of course, their constituents are all in the upper 2% of the economic classes.
Charles Hughes Smith at oftwominds has an excellent post on 'conventional politics' this morning. As anyone who read my posts during the election two years ago might remember, I was very skeptical about Obama's promise of change. I wasn't at all convinced that any change he managed to make would be all that meaningful. I was sure that the Republicans would only give us more of the same so I voted for the slim possibility of change. Very few people can think 'outside' the box they are in. Both the Republican and Democratic leaders (as well as the leaders of most of the splinter parties) hold certain beliefs which mitigate against change. Our 'capitalist' system is not only good, but it has been imbued with an almost religious sanctity. Therefore, its basic tenets are never really questioned. Instead, the controversy hinges on just how much tweaking should be done of what parts. Tweaking is not change. So we debate whether underwater homeowners were irresponsible idiots who deserve to lose their homes to foreclosure or whether rapacious and unscrupulous mortgage bankers tried to boost their profits by hoodwinking ignorant but unqualified buyers into mortgages they couldn't afford. Or we debate whether the long-term unemployed are really unable to find jobs or if our 'generous' unemployment benefits encourage them to remain unemployed. Or we debate whether those who don't have health insurance are irresponsible or whether helping them means robbing those who were more responsible and provided their own. Luck, as you will notice, never has anything to do with these situations. The argument is always defined in terms of who 'deserves' what. In our capitalist system there are always winners and losers and for some time now there have been far fewer winners and far more losers.