Living in America at a time when the terms of virtually every political debate are set by the right-wing noise machine is like living in a science fiction dystopia in which malign forces try to enslave the population by deliberately causing mass brain damage. If evil alien overlords were attempting to infest all of our minds with toxins that made us all significantly stupider, and thus made us increasingly fearful of things that couldn’t possibly harm us, it would be exactly like living with widespread conservative propaganda.
They introduce themselves as pro-life. And I say, ‘Oh, I’m so glad. You must be fighting for healthcare for the poor.’ And they look at me like I’m bonkers.
Debt is the most effective way to take a relation of violent subordination and make the victims feel that it’s their fault. Colonial regimes did this all the time; they would charge people for the cost of their own conquest, via taxes. However, using debt in this way also has a notorious tendency to rebound, because the subtle thing about debt relations is that, on a certain level, they are premised on equality—we are both equal parties to a contract. This both makes the sting of inequality worse, because it implies you should be equal to your creditor but you somehow messed up, but also, makes it possible to start saying ‘wait a minute, who owes what to who here?’ But of course once you do that, you have accepted the idea that debt really is the essence of morality. You’ve accepted the masters’ language.
The situation at the convergence of all these trends is something like this: the American economy, like all market economies, needs people to have children to fuel its growth, or else it has to import them from other countries. Yet in typical capitalist fashion, society has placed all of the burden of producing new laborers on individuals. Not only do you have to sell your time for wages to survive, but you also have to spend your wages raising the next generation of laborers so they can face (likely) even worse economic and ecological chaos. The goal of the system—not a dastardly plot, just the indisputable logic of capitalism—is to achieve 100 percent exploitation of its “human resources.” That means that as close as possible to 100 percent of your time and energy should be “consumed” by the system: you work your hours, then when you’re done, you spend all the rest of the time and all your paltry wages investing in the system’s next class of laborers. There’s no place in this system for becoming “you”—no place for leisure, for social relations, for intellectual development, for rest or recharging. The only way any of those things exist is through state intervention. And with our paltry minimum wages, nonexistent guaranteed vacation and nonexistent parental leave in the United States, we might as well not have a state.
Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.
WASHINGTON — The National Rifle Association has rallied gun-owners — and raised tens of millions of dollars — campaigning against the threat of a national database of firearms or their owners.
But in fact, the sort of vast, secret database the NRA often warns of already exists, despite having been assembled largely without the knowledge or consent of gun owners. It is housed in the Virginia offices of the NRA itself. The country’s largest privately held database of current, former, and prospective gun owners is one of the powerful lobby’s secret weapons, expanding its influence well beyond its estimated 3 million members and bolstering its political supremacy.
That database has been built through years of acquiring gun permit registration lists from state and county offices, gathering names of new owners from the thousands of gun-safety classes taught by NRA-certified instructors and by buying lists of attendees of gun shows, subscribers to gun magazines and more, BuzzFeed has learned.
The result: a Big Data powerhouse that deploys the same high-tech tactics all year round that the vaunted Obama campaign used to win two presidential elections.
Gandhi remains today the only complete critique of advanced industrial society. Others have criticized its totalitarianism but not its productive apparatus. He is not against science and technology, but he places priority on the right to work and opposes mechanization to the extent that it usurps this right. Large-scale machinery, he holds, concentrates wealth in the hands of one man who tyrannizes the rest. He favors the small machine; he seeks to keep the individual in control of his tools, to maintain an interdependent love relation between the two, as a cricketer with his bat or Krishna with his flute. Above all, he seeks to liberate the individual from his alienation to the machine and restore morality to the productive process.
One of the most compelling-seeming arguments that the pro-Walmart forces have been making is that DC should reject the bill and welcome Walmart into the community, because Walmart would create much-needed jobs. So I decided to look at what the research says about Walmart’s impact on employment. Guess what? Contrary to the happy talk, Walmart does not create jobs. Actually, it kills them.
Here’s why: first, at the local level, all Walmart does is put mom-and-pop stores out of business. The overwhelming body of evidence, including the most rigorous peer-reviewed studies, suggests that when Walmart enters a community, the most likely result is a net loss of jobs; at best, it’s a wash. In fact, the biggest, best scholarly study about the impact of Walmart on local employment was done by an economist at University of California at Irvine named David Neumark, who is not exactly a wild-eyed liberal. He’s the kind of economist, actually, who writes anti-minimum wage op-eds for the Wall Street Journal.
The devastating impact Walmart has had on jobs becomes most clear when you go macro, and look at its impact not just locally, but on the national economy. In its relentless quest for low prices, Walmart strong-arms its suppliers to cut labor costs to the bone. What this has meant in practice is that many suppliers have been forced to lay off workers and ship jobs to low-wage countries overseas. Because of Walmart, countless jobs in the U.S. have been lost, mostly in manufacturing.