Searching for Civility

Just listened to Obama’s speech. Was nice to hear him sound like a Democrat. And Jim, I’m guessing you would approve, as he was forceful, with a vision, and specifics, and was tough on the Republicans while also being diplomatic while making the case that we have to raise taxes on the wealthy (I would have liked to see him educate a bit more and remind Americans that taxes on the wealthy are at about a 70 year low and have been for a decade and that has no led to job growth).

You do always bring the tone of the blog back to civility, and that is the only way we will reach reasonable people, and hopefully there are some out there. At the same time, sometimes you do have to call a spade a spade. When you’re getting beaten up by a bully, it does little good to say calmly, oh, I know you really just want what is best for all of us, and your ideas are as valid as mine, so let’s discuss them…all while your face is being bloodied. When Paul Ryan screams class warfare, pretending he cares about the country and just has a different viewpoint is irresponsible. He knows, as they all do, that the class war has long been won by the wealthy, and that ALL of the financial gains of the last generation have gone to the small slice at the top, while the poor and middle class have stayed where they are or gone backwards. A simple look at who funds his campaigsn—the health insurance industry—tells the tale (And no, that isn’t my spin or my take, that is a fact, and I’ve provided links to the data many times. If you’re reading this and don’t believe me, spend five minutes on Google.)

Your way works great if you believe everyone really wants what is best for all Americans. They don’t. The wealthy want what is best for the wealthy, with some exceptions (see Buffett, Warren).  This is well documented, and again, it doesn’t really matter what you believe, the facts are the facts. Just look at the redistribution of income in the last generation. In just the last decade or so, the percent of our national wealth owned by the richest one percent has more than doubled. So when they scream class warfare and that the poor want to steal from the rich, it kind of falls on disbelieving ears. The fact that our corporate media just shows what he says without pointing out any context or data to support or refute him is a big part of the problem.

There was a great piece in the Tribune yesterday on a good Republican; former IL senator Charles Percy, who died at age 91. The piece recalls a time when both parties far more than today worked together for the good of the country. I long to see such a Republican today.

I do want a better tone, and a discussion based on facts. And when virtually everything I hear from the right is an easily demonstrable lie, it becomes hard to maintain that. You somehow do, and please keep it up. At the same time, it does me no good to say that I am at my worst when I slander the right in the same way as Perry or Bachmann do the left without providing any examples of when I have been snarky or slanderous without defending it with facts. Without specific examples, I can’t correct my statements.

I do think some of what you say is naïve, as with “…nor should we. Nor should we assume that corporations exist only to tread on the average person. The profit motive drives our economy, and a good corporate image is essential to success as much as revenue.” With virtually unlimited resources, it becomes quite easy to lie and create a good corporate image that has absolutely nothing to do with reality. And as I pointed out in my last post, in 1976 the presidential election was fully funded by the $3 check off box on tax returns, while today they are funded to the tune of close to a billion dollars, the great majority of which comes from the largest corporations in the world.

I do want to say that there are many good corporations, small and medium-sized corporations. I worked for one for the last decade. I am talking about the huge international corporations that have really taken over the world and the media and the conversation. If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to go and read any chapter from Thom Hartmann’s book “Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became ‘People’ and How You Can Fight Back.” See Chapter Ten on corporate liars, for a great case study of Nike creating a great corporate image with no connection to its reality. Pick anything from chapter 9 on (the earlier chapters are also wonderful, and outline how corporations became “people” and how they have abused that. One example; the 14th amendment to the constitution that freed the slaves has, over the decades, been invoked more than twice as often by corporations to claim rights of personhood than it has been to invoke the rights of actual living people.)

Truthout.org is doing a great service with Thom, posting the whole book a chapter at a time online. They’re up to chapter 17 now, about 3/4 of the way through the book.

It will be the most important book you read all year if you want to understand America today.

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About JP

We're two guys who met in college, in 1980. We've stayed in touch, and like to talk politics, current events, music and religion. JP is nore liberal than Sid, but not in every way. We figure that dialogue stimulates ideas, moderates perspective, and is in general friendly. These are things we need badly in these dangerous times. The blog name is taken from a song by Bruce Cockburn.
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