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The linked review is quite good, and the book in question raises some points that should be discussed on a wider platform. Unfortunately, flagamuffin's quip above perfectly exemplifies everything that is wrong with politics today and the very basis for the claims the author makes in his book.
The primary issue here is that a significant portion of the populace is mired in fundamental religious intransigence and political demagoguery. They are fed a constant diet of half-truths and outright fabrications, then naturally use those experiences as the basis for their votes. They vote with their feelings and (mis)perceptions of candidates and issues rather than on facts.
This nation is founded on the idea that its citizens are informed enough about major political issues to vote in rational manners. For example, Jefferson wrote, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” Alexander Hamilton lamented, “The people commonly act more from their feelings than from their understandings.” John Adams wrote as much, “Evil, in humankind, lies in the lack of governance by reason over the passions.”
Ultimately, it is a fact that un- and misinformed voters are a major problem for us as a nation. Masses on both sides of the aisle exhibit the trait of refusing to take in new information and use it to modify their world views. However, this phenomenon disproportionately affects the people that self-identify as Republican. Reactionary, self-congratulatory platitudes like that which that above only serve to entrench that kind of mentality.
I'm not writing to defend the book. I find problems with it, and truly I have deep moral and practical concerns of what it would mean to attempt to restrict voting privileges. But I do think there is something deeply concerning with the fact that we have a huge percentage of people and politicians who are completely ignorant of the fields they command such as commerce, health care, the internet, and the environment; and worse, who deny basic scientific evidence in those areas and more. They aren't just ignorant of such things -- they are willfully, pridefully ignorant. They are either unwilling to put in the work necessary to educate themselves or unwilling to have their self-identities challenged in that they may have to change an opinion. Again, this trait disproportionate affects Republicans, who by their very nature cling to traditional attitudes and are reluctant to change.
For these reasons, I also reject any notion that voters don't need to be informed, i.e. that it's perfectly ok for people to vote selfishly. To do so ignores the fact that each of us occupies a very tiny part of a very big world. To live and vote like that requires an enormous faith in the political system that it will compromise the selfish desires of each constituency. Yet you will not have a functioning political system worthy of that faith if short-sighted buffoons are the ones running it because you put them there. Mass blocks of un- and misinformed voters turn political contests into cults of personality - giving jobs and publicity to who-ever says the most outrageous shit, who has the most charisma, who deals the sickest burns. Those are not character traits we need in our elected officials.
So... Divergent, the junior dystopian sci-fi where teens are separated into groups based on overly simplistic and crude personality categorizations, has more basis in fact than The Hunger Games, the junior dystopian sci-fi where everyone who lives in an area has the same job?
I for one find Jill Stein's arguments attractive. She speaks with vibrancy and elegance. Her points could even be said to be cute with their little dimples. Hillary on the other hand keeps trotting out the same tired, wrinkled language that really just does nothing for me. Her suppositions are flat and pale, and she's ghastly how she cozies up to big business. I will only vote for Hillary because I must, and I'll probably need a few shots before I can do the deed. I'd much rather vote for Jill. I'd vote for Jill every night if she were a viable candidate.
As I understand it, Venezuela is in this predicament because their president instituted extravagant, far-reaching social programs, all of which were funded by revenues from state-sponsored exports, chiefly oil. So, without attempting to write a lengthy essay here, that setup fell victim to a double whammy of 1) mismanagement of those resources and 2) continuing the social programs. Basically when the bottom fell out of the oil market, their revenue dried up, but the expensive social programs continued. It didn't take long before there was no money for basic services.
Self-professed libertarians and free-market anarchocapitalists use Venezuela as a prime example of social democracy as a failing strategy for governance. I don't find that appropriate because any rational person can see that there should have been a direct and immediate response to scale each program's reach to its per-period fiscal support. However, I do think Venezuela could be used as a case example that however the pathway, you don't want buffoons in charge of your country's most important things. In other words, I don't think that a greedy, short-sighted buffoon in private industry is any better than a greedy, short-sighted buffoon in government.
I think that's a satire website... abcnews.com.co
For several years I was firmly a part of the ever-strapped working class. Then I went to college and became part of the ever-strapped, over-educated working class! At one point I was working three jobs to afford living. I learned to cut expenses where I could - use (free) linux instead of a paid OS, no cable tv, no eating at restaurants, bike instead of drive, and so forth. And I'm not proud of it, but I downloaded pretty much all my music for free using Napster, Kazaa, and the like.
I have since made amends for that and now fully financially support the musicians whose music I enjoy. However I firmly believe that the argument, "If you can't afford it, you don't get to have it," shouldn't apply to certain things. Of course it makes sense that a person shouldn't have a European sportscar if they can't afford it, or they shouldn't have a large house in the suburbs if they can't afford it. But music is a whole other thing. The way Huxley writes about it is beautiful and perfect, and he shows just how important it is to our lives.
Nowadays people have outlets that didn't used to exist for free music or at least the ability to listen - youtube, bandcamp, soundcloud - plus some viable commercial services that are affordable and allow you to tune the flow of music to your own tastes. Being a part of a previous generation that did not have those options, if I'd had to go through my hardscrabble years with no music to listen to except the over-produced, tone deaf commercial shit that's shoved down our throats by pop radio, I'd have thrown myself off a bridge. Music is not simply a product to be consumed. It is integral to life itself.
Thanks very much for taking the time to write cogently; however, you're drawing a false equivalency between the two major parties. It's true that Democrats have plenty of examples of political shenanigans, illegal activities, and general selfish, elitist behavior. But Republicans have been doing all the same things for longer and more egregiously, so much to the point that they've institutionalized it. They've become a mockery of themselves and in the process mock the very foundations of compromise and rational discourse. You really have to dig deep to find clear examples of Democratic shenanigans, whereas Republicans outdo themselves on a weekly basis. For instance in the present, two of the top political stories aside from the presidential nomination process are Rick Scott (R-FL) embarrassing himself again, NC (R legislature, R governor) embarrassing itself again, both with stupid-headed legislation based not in fact or practicality but in religious and moral demagoguery; and more Republican obstructionism in re refusing to consider Supreme Court nominees. Jonathan Bernstein has written some good material about the unprecedented number of judge and department head positions that are currently vacant because of Republican stonewalling.
I don't wish to write more in direct response because you're incorrect or heavily biased on almost every example (you can't blame the failure of Detroit on any one person; the ACA was debated at length and was subject to Republican obstructionism not Democrat "bullying;" there are no "disasters" in California or Illinois; an article from the WSJ saying that rich people pay too much tax? color me shocked; etc.), and I just don't have the time for that. I will say though the one thing we agree on is that the process is corrupt and broken. Regular people like us can try to understand and argue rationally, but ultimately why cut each others' throats? We can never be fully sure whether we've been lied to about certain facts and elements of history by our so-called leaders. Plus the entire political process is designed to minimize contributions and effects by common citizens anyway. The rise of anti-establishment candidates on both sides of the aisle is a sign that citizens are sick to death of 'business as usual' politics. It's clear to everyone now that the interests of the establishment are 180 degrees from the interests of the common person. Rich elites were able to spin Occupy Wall Street as a bunch of lazy, disaffected, drug-addled young people and bums, crisis averted. They were able to both bail out the banks and keep all their cronies out of jail. But their inability to firmly entrench their desired presidential candidates this year has them quaking in their shoes.
I agree. It kind of sounds like the author is making a case for a European 'preventative war' doctrine even though it's proved itself so very terrible for the U.S.
I avoid funds like "retirement 2035" or whatever. I have money in a small collection of mutual funds like TISPX FCNKX and GCBLX. I've recently discovered spartan index funds e.g. FXSIX.
This is just in the broad strokes, too. Delving into more of the details reveals just how stupid and short-sighted the Republican strategy has been and what a disaster it's been for this country. What we could have accomplished without them holding us back. To think they actually met in a room when Obama was elected and said 'We're not going to work with this guy at all!' (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/the-republicans-plan-for-the-new-president/) It sounds like it belongs in some work of satire or a dystopian comedy.
The problem isn't merely that Republicans have en masse moved to the right, either. They've scorned facts, reason, knowledge, rational discourse, and the very notion of compromise. For instance, in my own state, the Republican-led legislature opted to 'combat' climate change by banning the use of scientific data (http://abcnews.go.com/US/north-carolina-bans-latest-science-rising-sea-level/story?id=16913782) in policy decisions.
Back in the national arena, Republicans now blame Obama for refusing to compromise with THEM (http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/gop-theme-blame-obama-114311). It is the height of absurdity, and psychological is a defining aspect of sociopaths (http://angiemedia.com/2010/11/12/sociopaths-in-our-midst-hate-the-truth-and-its-advocates/#.VvLebWH6wx4). Yet people like you all across America eat it up. You keep electing people that are fucking you and lying right to your face. They're fucking us all and you just keep voting them in and telling yourselves stories how things aren't your fault and one day your time will come. In reality we've had 30 years of predominantly Republican-led, rightward shifting (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/06/12/five-charts-that-show-how-conservatives-are-driving-partisan-rancor-in-dc/) policy-making to turn this country into your supposed utopia, and it hasn't happened. We have internet and smartphones and family sedans with ridiculous amounts of horsepower, yet income inequality is worse than ever, our infrastructure is crumbling, major companies pay no taxes into the systems that support them, and a single accident or illness is enough to force a person or a family into bankruptcy.