22 Responses From An Evolutionist To Creationists

All images ripped off from Matt Stopera of BuzzFeed in case they ever change the links and also so I’m not leeching their bandwidth. (Also, I’m not sure I’d have gone with “believe in evolution” for the headline, but… whatever.)

1.

For starters, I’d like to see what your definition of “positive” is if you’re even asking this question. But yes, gaining an understanding of the universe based on observational data and experiments is probably going to work out well for kids.

2.

Not really, it’s largely irrelevant. And any god worth believing in wouldn’t be insecure and petulant and shitty about whether or not I believed in him.

3.

That would qualify as “illogical”, yes. But also it renders all argument meaningless: the universe could have been created forty seconds ago and everything was just brought into existence the way it is.

So, I mean, sure, if we’re throwing out all the rules, it could have happened that way. But it’s equally likely it was created just now. Or just now. Or just now. And all evidence otherwise, and all our memories, are just fabrications.

4.

Wow, do you always look this smug? Also, it’s okay to use contractions.

And to answer your question, no, it doesn’t. Earth isn’t a closed system. Also, you have to factor in quantum physics and conscious observation, which are all still somewhat of a mystery (though that doesn’t mean “God Did It”), and which seems to do strange things to matter. (Check out “quantum tunneling” for instance — it’s why our sun can burn as hot as it does, when it otherwise (if tunneling weren’t a thing) shouldn’t.)

5.

I think you mean “there’re”.

6.

They don’t. Where are you getting this?

7.

If you’re going to argue that evolution is evidence of divine intellect, I suggest you look at the nerve that runs all the way down a giraffe’s neck to get back up to its tongue. Or the forward tilt of human pelvises. Or any of the other mishmash grab bag bullshit that constitutes most living organisms, seemingly at random.

8.

You have to make your own meaning, and life is no less special and amazing if you factor out god. In fact, it’s even more special and amazing. Enjoy your life. Be a good person. Don’t always look to some bullshit authority figure to dictate the boundaries of your capabilities and sensibilities.

9.

Yup, pretty much. And the odds aren’t that crazy when you consider how probability works in our universe, and just how incredibly long it’s all been going on.

10.

Uh, okay. Why don’t you go BANG a horse.

11.

It’s “they’re’re”, dammit.

And also, they don’t, largely. Nobody respectable is saying “aliens made humans”, at least not as anything more than science fiction.

12.

Define “official proof”. Also, organic matter deteriorates, not sure if you’ve noticed. I’m imagining you and some of these other idiots opening up an exhumed coffin and being shocked that the body isn’t perfectly preserved. But: there are actually quite a number of australopithecus afarensis fossils that have been found.

13.

What? I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here. Please stop trying to be clever, because it’s not working. I mean, it’s clearly part of evolution? I’m… I’m really confused about what you’re trying to say, here.

14.

You don’t understand what “theory” means. And Creationism isn’t a theory, it’s a proposition with no real evidence other than a storybook. And the Bible isn’t a theory, it’s a logically internally wildly inconsistent storybook that, if truly penned by god using human hands, is indicative that god is really shitty at narrative and continuity. And evolution isn’t taught as “fact”, it’s taught as “this is what the evidence seems to be indicating.” Science is an ongoing and ever-evolving process that’s constantly observing the data we have and throwing out explanations that aren’t supported by the evidence. That’s how science works.

Faith on the other hand just does whatever the fuck it wants to. It never questions itself or changes at all in light of new developments or information. And isn’t it a bit odd how god didn’t even think to mention any goddamn thing about anything beyond the social and cultural ideals and collective knowledge pool of the time the Bible was written? To me, it’s just really fucking weird that a supposedly omnipotent being would have the same basic understanding of the universe and the same basic wants and desires and personality traits as humans ~2000 years ago.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson pointed out that Revelation says that the stars will fall from the sky. It’s indicative of a fundamental lack of understanding of what stars even are. So the idea that God would say “yeah, the stars will fall out of the sky — these massive balls of flaming gas millions of miles away that dwarf Earth by magnitudes are just gonna crash and land on the ground” is ludicrous. But yeah, let’s trust that for all our science facts.

15.

Science isn’t a theory. What are you talking about? “Examining observable data and running experiments that are objective as possible” isn’t a “theory”, and… I don’t… what the hell are you even trying to say?

16.

You look constipated. You might want to shit out some of the turds that keep rising up into your brain and coming out in the form of words and writing.

17.

I don’t necessarily think there IS a reason. I also don’t think there has to be some sort of divine dictate for the purpose of my life in order for it to have at least a meaning that’s significant to me and the people around me.

18.

We… have? Also, just FYI, there are likely millions of organisms on this planet that have died out without us ever having known they existed, and without a time machine, we never will. Also, again, organic material decomposes and deteriorates and erodes.

19.

Yes. You look out at the universe and examine all the data (like redshifting and also looking at star systems at different stages of development to our own) and you can piece together a pretty good picture of what the hell’s going on.

20.

It’s even MORE amazing if you factor out the notion that it was made by some divine source. But while we’re on this, it’s also really shitty. People are miserable and have been throughout history. We’re often cruel to each other for no real reason, and justify it with whatever bullshit explanations make us feel good at night. Organic organisms like humans are fragile and constantly rotting. And for some fucked-up reason, our food intake and our air intake are the same damn tube. So, if you’re going to posit that all of this was crafted by the most perfect mind, I mean… you’re really not giving god a lot of credit, because this shit’s pretty stupid all around.

21.

It wasn’t an exploding star, it was a singularity. The very fact that you’re even asking this question in this way indicates you have not even a remote clue what you’re talking about.

22.

If god created Adam and Eve, why are there still guys named Steve!?!?!?!?

But also, we didn’t, it was apes, and there’s a common ancestry, and just because one line of organisms evolves or adapts that doesn’t mean they ALL do. This is basically like saying “how can there be dogs if wolves still exist?”


Okay, ugh, after all that, here’s something to take the pain away.

Other Projects

A few of the projects and things that I’ve been working on over the last few years that you might find interesting:

Seinfelt, a daily-updated blog of fake Seinfeld plot synopses that I co-author with a close friend of mine. (Which has been written about in Yahoo! News and on The Daily Dot and some other places.)

Things I’ve drawn with Paper, a really cool iPad app.

Photoshopped images and other dumb visual crap I put together from time to time.

I also have a Twitter account if you’re into that kind of thing.

I’m going to try to keep this site updated again, because I’m a little sick of posting all my political shit to Facebook and I constantly have things to complain about. I’ve also been missing doing Chick Dissections, so I’m going to do my best to dump out at least a few of those a year. (I’m aiming for more than that, but I don’t want to make any promises I can’t keep, because we’ve all been there before.)

So, what about all of you? What have you been up to? I feel like we haven’t spoken in a while. We lost touch long ago. You lost weight — I did not know that you could ever look so nice after so much time.

Chick Dissection | Unloved

Rejected by his family, unemployed and with no one to turn to, Jimmy was ready for suicide. But then he met the One who truly loves him.

…Neo?

It’s a self-describing Chick Tract. Oh god, they’ve become self-aware! Everyone run!

Continue reading

Class Warmongering (Part 1.5 of 3)

ADDENDUM: WORKING HARD OR HARDLY WORKING

In Part I, I tossed out some salary figures, and I’d like to dissect those a little bit, briefly.

As mentioned, the CEO of UnitedHealth Group has a salary of $101,960,000 (again, not including his $111,400,000 in shares).

The average general surgeon salary in NYC is $259,000.

The highest pay for a firefighter in NYC is $161,281, including fringe benefits.

In a single hour — if you divide out his yearly income by 52 weeks, then 40 hours — the CEO of UnitedHealth Group makes $49,019.

That is:

- In about 5 1/2 hours, he makes more than the average surgeon in NYC makes in an entire year.
- In about 3 1/2 hours, he makes more than the highest-paid firefighter in NYC.

There’s merit to the argument that those who have to make the toughest decisions should be paid more than the average employee. If the person working the cash register makes a mistake, a customer gets overcharged or undercharged a few dollars, but if an executive makes a mistake, it could cost hundreds of workers their jobs. Plus, the idea is that their skills and experience are rarer and more valuable. I’m on board with that.

But it’s the quantity where we run headlong into the absurd. The difference in pay is so tremendous that it’s offensive. You can’t argue that UnitedHealth Group CEO Stephen J. Hemsley works harder in two hours than a five-year firefighter works in an entire year. You can’t argue that five hours of his labor is worth about the same as an entire year of a general surgeon’s.

Some argue that giving basic-level handouts to the poor creates a disincentive to work. But doesn’t allowing someone to make $100,000,000 in a single year have a similar effect? If you could work 1 year and make more than a New York City surgeon would make in 389 years, or a minimum wage worker would make in 6,733 years, what’s to stop you from just retiring? I thought these people were valuable, and that’s why we pay them more. Why create such a huge incentive for them to work for such a short time?

We’re so worried about whether or not someone will quit the menial, pointless job almost anyone else could do just because they could get welfare food for free, but we see nothing wrong with giving someone we consider extremely valuable all the money they could ever want in a single year’s paycheck. If it’s disincentives you care about, you might want to try looking upward sometimes, too.

The fact is, nobody is worth that much. Imagine if Stephen J. Hemsley gave a press release that said “my contribution to the world this year was worth more than 1,700 Lieutenant Colonels in the Army.” Imagine the audacity! Yet, that’s what quite a number of conservatives will argue: that this guy works that hard, and that his work is that much more valuable than theirs, so he deserves to make as much as 1,700 of them.

I certainly don’t think so.

Class Warmongering (Part 1 of 3)

I: THE MINIMUM WAGE DEFICIT

The wealthiest in the United States make more and are taxed less than ever before, but quite a number of them claim that this somehow isn’t enough, that taxes need to be lower, that they need to be allowed to make even more. In other words, they’re admitting that they’re unable to be as industrious and efficient as the wealthy individuals half a century ago who had a fraction as much and paid far, far more in taxes.*

Yet somehow, lower-income workers are “lazy”, and asking for a higher minimum wage is “greedy”, even though the minimum wage hasn’t risen at all, adjusted for inflation, and is in fact worth about $2 less than it should be, if adjusted for inflation since 1968. The wealthiest can’t do as much with substantially greater resources, yet the poor have no choice but to do more with less, and somehow they’re the ones called lazy.

And there are different values for less:

- At a minimum wage of $7.25/hour for a full-time, 40-hours-a-week job, that amounts to: $15,080 a year
- An additional $2/hour for the same full-time, 40-hours-a-week job would be: $4,160 a year

To put that into perspective, the CEO of McDonald’s (a company often associated with minimum wages) makes, according to Forbes, $20,710,000 a year. That doesn’t include stock bonuses and retirement packages and other things. So, going in the other direction:

- With a yearly salary of $20,710,000, over 52 weeks a year, assuming 40-hour weeks, that amounts to: about $9,956 per hour

Of course, to be fair, the $15,000/year income is going to incur little if any tax burden (aside from FICA and such, which you don’t get back), and the $20,710,000/year income is going to have a much higher tax burden than that (because he’s making twenty fucking million dollars a year), but there are loopholes and offshore funds and trusts and things that can be used to weasel out of a lot of that, so it’s impossible to determine how much he’s actually paying.

But even if we take an extremely conservative estimate and say that his take-home was half of that, that’s still over $10,000,000. And once you have that much, you’re already so wealthy that everything beyond a certain point is meaningless. Having $20,000,000 or $10,000,000 at the end of the year still makes you pretty phenomenally wealthy. You can still buy that car or that house or that TV or that movie theater or that black-market kidney you want and it would barely make a dent. Compare that with the person making $15,000 a year — if they only took home half of their income, that’s only $7,500, and you can barely even survive on that. The less you make, the more every cent matters. A single dollar actually has meaning.

But aside from all of that, the CEO of McDonald’s makes in a single hour over twice as much as the entire yearly minimum wage inflation-adjust deficit for a bottom-pay employee.

He could lose an entire day’s pay and probably not even notice, but for someone making $15,000/year, that $4,000 is the difference between how many meals you and your children have to skip. Or how many times you have to opt for Dollar Menu offerings that will impact your health. Or whether or not you can afford the premiums for a health plan. Or whether or not you can fix your car, or pay for medicine, or pay off student loans. That $4,000 could be the difference between life and death. It’s over 1/4 the minimum wage yearly income.

Of course, over this same period of time (~1960s to present), average CEO salaries have risen from roughly 20 times as much as the average non-managerial employee to almost 300 times as much as the average non-managerial employee, and in the specific example listed above, the CEO of McDonald’s has a yearly income of 1,373 times as much as someone making minimum wage**, and that’s without factoring in “options realized”, which compensation metrics usually take into account.

And yet, they claim they need more.

—–

* In the 1950s and 60s, for instance, the top marginal tax rate was over 80%, and people still started businesses, had jobs, and could even raise a family of four on a single full-time income.  Today the average full-time worker is lucky to support themselves.

** The highest-paid CEO is Stephen J Hemsley of UnitedHealth Group, with a yearly salary of $101,960,000 — 6,761 times as much as a minimum wage worker’s yearly income.

20 Things the Rich (Have the Luxury to) Do Every Day

According to Dave Ramsey, whoever the hell he is, and his list of undoubtedly made-up “statistics” with no citations or specified sources for their origins, all you have to do if you want to get rich is conflate correlation and causation and already have the time and luxury to focus on self-improvement.

Here are at least 20 reasons why you’re wrong, Dave:

So what do the rich do every day that the poor don’t do?

Tom Corley, on his website RichHabits.net, outlines a few of the differences between the habits of the rich and the poor:

1. 70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day. 23% of wealthy gamble. 52% of poor people gamble.

Okay, ignoring for a second the fact that you loaded up #1 with two disparate items that actually should be separated into their own enumerations on this list (eating poorly and gambling), I’d wager that the reason poor people eat more junk food is that when you don’t have a lot of money, all you can really afford is the McDonald’s dollar menu. Especially when you’re working two jobs just to make ends meet and probably don’t have a lot of extra time, or don’t have your own personal chef in your all-stainless-steel, marble-countertop kitchen that looks like something out of a cooking show.

But let’s address the logic problem inherent within the entire premise you’ve outlined here: wealthy people didn’t GET wealthy by blowing all their money on organic health food. Rather, they can afford to eat higher-quality food BECAUSE THEY FUCKING ALREADY HAVE MONEY, YOU IDIOT. The horse goes IN FRONT OF the cart.

2. 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.

a) What is this even supposed to mean? How do you even measure that?

b) “Sorry, son, I know I promised to feed you in between my day job and my night job, but daddy needs to focus on accomplishing a single goal or he’ll never become successful.”

c) I don’t know about you, but I have a ton of projects and goals, and just because I’m spreading out the progress I make between, say, my job as a programmer and my novel and the (mostly) daily short fiction blog I co-author with a friend and all the other things I have going on, that doesn’t mean I’m unproductive, and doesn’t mean that my efforts in any of these ventures are unsuccessful. “Focus” isn’t really a great metric, and if you can’t handle more than one activity or have multiple goals, then maybe you’re just lucky more than you’re actually good at anything.

3. 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically 4 days a week. 23% of poor do this.

Dave, I’m beginning to think that you’ve just done a find/replace on “have time to ” => “”, and that it should’ve come after every instance of “wealthy” and “poor”, because that’s the only way any of this makes any sense.

I mean, yeah, no shit, maybe poor people could hit the gym a little more often if they didn’t have to work two jobs and squeeze in the tiny slivers of available time they can manage to wring out of the day to spend with their families.

Also, I’m pretty sure most low-paying jobs involve far more physical activity and being on your feet than anything the wealthy do. “Oh man, my biceps are killing me from sitting behind a computer tracking hedge funds all day.”

4. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% for poor people.

Have fun paying attention to an audio book when you’re fucking exhausted from working 80 hours in a week and the ongoing drone of a soothing human voice will probably just put you to sleep while you wait in the drive-thru to order dinner.

Oh, and by the way, not everyone has access to the kinds of devices required to play audiobooks, these days. Just because you have an iPhone, Dave, and the money to spend freely on media for it, that doesn’t mean that everyone does.

5. 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% for poor.

There’s not much of a point in a to-do list when you work more than one job just to make ends meet. I mean:

1) Get kids ready for school.
2) Go to day job.
3) Pick up kids from school.
4) Feed kids.
5) Go to night job.
6) Sleep.

…is pretty easy to remember, if you ask me.

See, a lot of poor people don’t have “to-dos”, they just have routines, because being able to decide what you do — having that autonomy — is a fucking privilege.

6. 63% of wealthy parents make their children read 2 or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% for poor.

If only they weren’t distracted and exhausted by working multiple jobs to feed their children, maybe they could spend more time with them and take a more active role in their education and lives in general.

Also, I mean, sure, you can maybe get those books from the library, but who’s going to take the kids? The teen babysitter you pay less than minimum wage?

Also also, is this on top of their existing school work? I’d say 2 non-fiction books a month is kind of a lot for kids who are already doing a ton of homework. And if they’re older kids, maybe they’re also working to help support the household, and are already ensnared in that “grind until you die” lifestyle.

7. 70% of wealthy parents make their children volunteer 10 hours or more a month vs. 3% for poor.

a) Who’s going to bring them to the place where they have to volunteer?

b) Uh, I thought you said they should be spending their free time reading non-fiction books.

c) So let’s see, unless you’re talking about a six-year-old kid working in a soup kitchen or something without his parents’ supervision (since a lot of poor people work multiple jobs just to get by), we’re talking teenagers. Yeah, okay, cool, let’s have them try to squeeze that in between school and the after-school job they have to work because their parents aren’t paid enough.

d) Are soup kitchens really supposed to be run by the people who, uh, need them?

8. 80% of wealthy make hbd calls vs. 11% of poor

“HBD”? …happy birthday? If that’s what you mean here, I’m pretty sure poor people tell each other “happy birthday”.

9. 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% for poor

Again, hearkening back to the “to-do list” entry above, poor people are too fucking busy just trying to survive to have lofty goals that would need to be written down.

10. 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs 2% for poor.

a) Wealthy people are better able to afford higher education.

b) Low-wage jobs don’t require a lot of training manuals.

11. 6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% for poor.

Not sure what this is supposed to mean, or what it’s intended to try to measure. But either way, when money talks — and talks way louder than words — everyone else has to shout constantly just to try to make up the difference.

12. 79% of wealthy network 5 hours or more each month vs. 16% for poor.

What’s the point in networking when you work menial or low-paying jobs that nobody really gives a shit about? “Yeah, I should totally pay $200 to go to this marketing conference so I can wow everyone with my intimate knowledge of floor-level inventory management at Walmart. All the executives and higher-ups there will totally allow me into their world and not just laugh at me for trying for a better life.”

This reads like, “As part of my finance job, I’m expected to spend a few hours a week shmoozing clients. Why don’t construction workers do that?”

Come on.

13. 67% of wealthy watch 1 hour or less of TV. every day vs. 23% for poor

Yeah, wouldn’t it be great if poor people could also afford, in both time and money, to enjoy all the other types of entertainment that wealthy people do? If you only have, say, an hour of free time a day, you can either watch some dumb TV show with your exhausted brain or you can fall asleep reading a book. Especially when you’re trying for some group activity that you and your kids can all partake in simultaneously.

Reading is a luxury, Dave. Understand this. It requires free time, and wealthy people have a lot more of that than poor people do.

14. 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% for poor.

a) See above.

b) Wealthy people probably also have far less inclination to try to make themselves feel better by watching some asshole try to eat a bug faster than some other asshole, too. And they’re probably also less likely to be drawn to the escapism of shit like “rebuild my house! Move that bus!” than poor people as well.

15. 44% of wealthy wake up 3 hours before work starts vs.3% for poor.

Are you fucking kidding me, Dave? If some poor people woke up 3 hours before work started, they’d be waking up at the end of their night job’s shift.

Also, 3 hours before which of their 2+ jobs? There’s a bit of a difference between waking up at 6:30AM before the 9:30AM office job and waking up at 2:00AM for the 5:00AM security job.

Jesus Christ, Dave.

16. 74% of wealthy teach good daily success habits to their children vs. 1% for poor.

Well, according to this list, poor people don’t have a lot of daily success habits, so how would they know how to teach them to their kids? The logic just crumbles as soon as you look at it.

Also, it really depends on how you define “success”: For the poor, “succeeding” means “getting to the next paycheck without a day having to skip a meal.” And I’m pretty sure they teach their kids how to do that.

17. 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity luck vs. 4% for poor.

I think this speaks more toward how desperate and hopeless things are for the poor than toward the accuracy of their views on opportunity and luck. Either way, the idea that you can influence luck is magical thinking madness.

18. 76% of wealthy believe bad habits create detrimental luck vs. 9% for poor.

Because, of course, there are no wealthy people who have terrible habits and suffer little or no consequences from their actions because they already have so much money that they’re effectively insulated from society.

And it’s not like our society rewards sociopathy and psychopathy or anything.

19. 86% of wealthy believe in life-long educational self-improvement vs. 5% for poor.

Yeah, no shit. How amazing, considering how little a college degree is worth these days and how much you have to pay for one.

And what motivation would a poor person have to spend what little free time they have studying things that aren’t necessarily relevant to their lives? It’s not like they’re going to get promoted to management because they’ve read a math textbook.

20. 86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% for poor.

Bullshit. This is so silly and subjective that it’s fucking meaningless. It’s trying to demonize the poor as “anti-intellectual” but that seems really ironic when this entire list is so unscientific and rife with logical fallacy that it’s clear the author is himself pretty goddamn dumb.

Dave, you don’t even bother to even try to define “wealthy” and “poor”. Or “good”. Or “bad”. Or even, oh, I don’t know, link to the supposed study you’re citing, or — hell, sorry, I know this is asking way too much — actually conduct a scientific study on socioeconomics.

This whole thing is like opening up Dave’s skull and digging through his brain down to the logical fallacies and watching the Just-World Fallacy gears spin. Watching Dave confuse causation and correlation — or even cause and effect, really — is like watching a drunk man fumble and roll around on the floor of a subway platform trying to make his way onto a train while he pukes and shits all over himself.

The wealthy have the luxury to do all of these things, because they’re already successful. Nobody got rich by eating fancy steak dinners every night. Nobody got rich by going to the gym frequently. Nobody got rich by listening to a bunch of ebooks. And all of these things cost money which, I’m not sure if you’ve heard, poor people tend to not have a lot of. It’s like saying that Barack Obama was elected President of the United States because he had the authority to nominate federal judges and veto laws. No. That came later.

Meanwhile, I have a statistic of my own to share:

100% of the people who think this article has any meaning or relevance at all are wrong, and probably also stupid.

The Fallacy of Competition in an Unregulated Capitalist System

Conservatives like to claim that “it’s corporatism, not capitalism” that’s to blame for our many economic and fiscal woes, but that’s a specious dodge. The fact is, corporatism is an inevitable result of capitalism, if necessary regulations and restrictions aren’t imposed to prevent it.

See, there’s this myth built up around the idea of competition that ignores the realities in favor of a fantasy about Gentlemen Trying To Be Their Best. It’s an appealing thought — everyone wants to work hard and try their damnedest and be judged on the quality and merit of their output. It’s nice to think that we can all join in the race and feel that camaraderie of entrepreneurship as we push and work and get out what we put in. I’d love that!

Sadly, that’s not what capitalism is. The reality is much harsher, and involves things like entrenchment that give extremely unfair advantages to businesses that have been around longer. The reality is that the barrier for entry is constantly rising, preventing the competition utopia that conservatives keep promising “if only we deregulate.” The reality is that lack of regulation decreases the ability to compete, at least for average folk like you and me.

See, businesses don’t compete merely by trying to provide the best product or service at the lowest cost to themselves. If allowed, they compete by manipulating things outside of the realm of the marketplace in order to give themselves unfair advantages. Patent trolling, lawsuits, no-bid government contracts, favors from friendly politicians — it’s all part of the competition, if there aren’t laws in place to prevent that from happening. And when everyone else is already doing it, you have to as well, or you’re operating with a handicap.

Corporatism isn’t just some unexpected fluke — it’s a feature. The system is designed that way, and kept that way by the people who stand to profit the most from it. It baffles me when libertarians claim that the only way to stop corporatism is to deregulate capitalism. That’s like saying the only way to stop robbery is to make it legal.

And this tendency isn’t limited to just business. Take a look at gerrymandering: Instead of competing by offering the best ideas and platforms and policies and plans, they — typically conservative politicians — “compete” by changing the voting districts to favorably benefit their parties, virtually guaranteeing the election of a given candidate. It’s the very same kind of cheating.

The trick is that most of us have a particular picture in mind when we think about “competition”, especially with regard to “The Market”: a simple, heartwarming image of our grandpa going out and buying a store in a small town and working hard and putting his heart and soul into his offerings. Maybe he didn’t make much, but he raised his family, and did his best, and had a friendly rivalry with the guy across town. But that’s a fantasy, an oversimplified and outdated narrative that’s been bound to the word “competition”, a word they then use like a hypnosis trigger phrase to warm our emotions and get us to sit complacently by while they manipulate and contort our government and our marketplace to ensure that they can continue to do what they do. They sell us the fantasy of “competition” in order to strip away our actual ability to compete.

All that happens when you take away government oversight is create a power vacuum. And the businesses that ooze into those vacuums and exert their authority (in much the same way that a government can exert its authority, funny that) are only ever going to act in their own self-interests.

Meaning not yours.

All This Has Happened Before, and Will Happen Again

Something I’ve been having difficulty understanding:

We’ve ALREADY DONE the whole “huge wealth inequality” thing, time and time again throughout human history. Over and over and OVER and over and OVER. And it NEVER FUCKING WORKS.

And it’s DEMONSTRABLY PROVEN, in contemporary studies — meaning today, by people who have a much better understanding of science, the world, and economics than a hundred or two hundred or a thousand years ago — that even if many of us have to make marginal sacrifices to get there, and a marginal number of us have to make larger sacrifices (like having to take home a measly $5,000,000 as opposed to $10,000,000 per year), we’re ALL BETTER OFF when wealth is more evenly distributed. Think of how much better off the economy would be if we agreed to pay even the lowest positions enough to buy the standard necessities for living, and maybe even a few higher-end goods? Think of how that would drive demand, which would in turn lead to more jobs and more demand for other things and more jobs from those other things, and so on and so on.

Imagine the prosperity, for all of us! And it wouldn’t take much. Just some regulations and some tax hikes that would barely even affect most people, and would only affect the wealthy inasmuch as they would merely have incredible wealth instead of unbelievable, ridiculous, unfathomable wealth.

When everyone is prospering — even if not everyone is working their absolute hardest, which will never happen anyway, regardless of incentive and disincentive — we don’t have dovetailing economic problems, our people are better off, and we can ACTUALLY FUND things that PUT US ALL IN A MUCH BETTER PLACE.

Right now, our educational system is getting defunded, and our overall intelligence is worsening compared to the rest of the world. We’re falling behind. How can America ever possibly hope to be at the top if we’re becoming progressively dumber every generation? How can we innovate and lead the world if we embrace anti-intellectualism?

Our healthcare system is even worse. We’re ranked well below the rest of the industrialized world in terms of life expectancy, infant mortality, and general health, and we all collectively pay more for it. (This is because the more something becomes a business, the more it focuses on making a profit instead of doing whatever it originally intended to do. You don’t make a profit by doing or making the best possible thing, you make a profit by advancing as little as possible and charging as much for it as you can get away with.) We’re far, far worse off than countries with socialized medicine. And what do we get? What’s the benefit to NOT having a socialized healthcare system? Slightly lower taxes for the middle and lower classes, and a larger tax break for the most wealthy, who already have so much money that the difference is effectively trivial? Is that really worth it?

How can anyone consider the United States to be “the greatest nation on earth” when we have knowledge of systems that work and systems that don’t work and we intentionally opt for the systems that DON’T work in the hope that this time, maybe, hopefully, we’ll break against millennia of recorded history, and our facilitation of massive imbalances in the distribution of wealth will somehow work out great for everyone?

Why do we insist on trying the “let a handful of people control most of the wealth and resources” thing over and over and over again, despite the fact that it’s been proven throughout history that shit like that leads to at best general economic stagnation and at worst massive poverty, suffering, and horrible widespread disease? What’s WRONG with us? It’s the definition of insanity, to keep trying the same thing over and over again expecting the result to be different.

We can do this, but only if we look at reality and we apply the solutions that ACTUALLY WORK, not the ones that, time after time after time, have resulted in failure and collapse and misery.

Look at the goddamn reality. Base your reasoning in what ACTUALLY happens when policies are implemented.

Look Down

So why is it that you don’t see traditionally oppressed and disenfranchised groups joining movements like the Tea Party? It’s typically almost exclusively white people, and of those, largely white men, and the sentiment among them seems to be that they feel oppressed because they work a job all the time and haven’t become millionaires for it.

And instead of blaming the wealthy for it, they blame those even worse off than they themselves are, for some reason. They blame the people who have actually largely been systematically disregarded and subjugated over the course of history.

That’s like if you were swimming in a pool and someone reached down and held your head underwater, and you got mad at the corpse floating at the very bottom of the pool for raising the water level a negligible amount.

The wealthy in America, and the biggest businesses, already make more and are taxed less than ever before in our nation’s history. And those with conservative leanings demand even more. Some businesses are effectively taxed $0, so it’s hard to tell how we could get even lower than that.

Yet the middle classes and mid- and low-range businesses blame the poor.

In the mid-20th century, taxes were substantially higher, especially on the wealthy, than they are right now. And executives made substantially less, with the highest-paid making somewhere around 50 times as much as the average worker. Today, the top-ranking executives make over 500 times as much as the average worker.

Money, by the way, is a limited resource. There aren’t infinite dollars to go around — there’s a fixed quantity, and the value of each dollar drops if we print more.

So, considering the tremendous increase in the amount of money that’s taken out of the system by the wealthiest in the country, why blame things like welfare and other social programs for making things harder? Has our spending on those programs really surpassed the difference in executive pay over the last half a century? Or the increase in what can be called “corporate welfare” — government programs that give subsidies and handouts to big businesses and to the wealthy?

Who has more to gain, and the ability to actually gain it? The person at the top making millions or billions of dollars from the unquestioning work of hundreds or thousands or millions of people, who has massive influence over the government and the media, or the person scraping by with a welfare allowance that can barely provide enough to feed their family?

Come on, America. Think.