Because of the "presidential horse race" mentality, the press avoids all the issues which the candidates agree on. To our media, asking a question about campaign finance reform or electronic wiretapping would be like putting a basketball hoop up at a football game – totally useless, because neither candidate would be able to score points with it.
I remember being in college and spending a lot of time doing/listening to debates about various -isms and inequality. (hint: we were against it). What is weird is, the teachers didn't give us the conceptual tools to discuss it productively.
For instance: any time there's a case of social inequality (the haves always do The Thing, and the have-nots don't get to do The Thing), there's actually TWO ways to remedy the situation. One: make the haves STOP doing the thing, and two: allow the have-nots TO start all doing the thing.
Both approaches result in equality, but through two totally opposite paths. And yet – as far as I can tell – for hundreds of years that people have been debating inequality, NO ONE HAS NOTICED THIS. You get idealistic people who will use every last bit of logic and passion and carefully-thought-out ideals (Jeffersonian republicanism! Pluralism! Transparency!) and spend a fucking hour advocating that we should make the haves STOP doing The Thing. . . . all based on a snap judgement that took a tenth of a second. Why should we make the haves STOP doing the thing? Why not allow everyone to ALL do the thing? You didn't even consider that for a whole second. . . .did you? Because, against all logic, BOTH FUCKING TOTALLY OPPOSITE approaches to justice are taught to you as THE EXACT SAME THING.
We're taught NOT to ask ourselves, "Which TYPE of equality should I advocate to remedy such-and-such an injustice?"
So, OK! Let me help the problem.
Let's call the "make the haves STOP doing the thing" approach LEVELING UP, and call the "let the have-nots ALL be able to do the thing" approach LEVELING DOWN.
Some instances are easy as shit: the overwhelming majority of domestic violence is done by men. You don't have to think too long to realize this is a LEVELING DOWN scenario: Men should STOP doing the thing.
Other instances are fairly easy: most senators are white, so most people would say that people of color should LEVEL UP. Unless you're an anarchist and think that NOBODY should have state authority, in which case you'd be all for LEVELING DOWN.
Then, a favorite of mine: farts. Men fart and burp, women don't. Are crude noises a form of oppressive male domination? Or are they a fundamental right which women have historically been forbidden to do by restrictive gender roles? In other words , should we get equality by LEVELING UP OR BY LEVELING DOWN?!?
Without these two concepts, you can't even begin to have that discussion!
Or song lyrics: a lot of rappers talk about killing young black men. Would the world be a better place if britney and lady gaga mostly sang about murdering white women? After all, that is more equal. And much much better.
Or this other thing, which I'm also surprised that no one has remarked upon: the american police / national security state's radical EQUALIZATION and ELIMINATION of racism. This is the single most equality-making development in government since King marched at Selma, and yet nobody even says thank you?!?? Consider this: government now treats upper-middle-class white people like Black Panthers: reading their mail, tapping their phone, strip-searches at airports without cause, "civil forfiture" of possessions without even an arrest, and "indefinite detention" without trial. Still waiting for a rapper to make fun of Occupy kids: "How's it feel, whitey? Oh, NOWWWW it's unfair, right, since it's happening to you! Welcome to the club, white kid."
Anyway, does treating whites as crappy as black people count as leveling up or leveling down?4 comments
It's great that Boing-boing could take time away from their busy Pedo-bear-shirt-selling schedule to rail against misogyny.
I'm looking forward to hearing the Boingers explain in their upcoming TED talk, which I believe is titled: "rape is never funny . . . unless it's children . . . . and I make ad revenue."
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Dear Madam! I was deeply offended that you would point out sometimes bicyclists hit pedestrians. How dare you attempt to hold us accountable for anything when cars kill SO MANY MORE PEOPLE??? Don't you realize we can't even have this discussion until after every motor vehicle has been wiped off the face of the earth? Until then, I will deny that cyclists ever do anything bad and exhibit no sympathy for people we hit.
Also, I was deeply hurt by your portrayal of cyclists as self-righteous and lacking in self-awareness.
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I don’t know about your country, but in America, it’s impossible to have a rational discussion about unions. Conservatives hate them all, and lefties fall into one of two types: a) academics who like unions in theory because they “stick it to corporations” (but have no real-world experience dealing with unions’ bullshit), and b) union members who have no incentive to snitch on union corruption.
America is so dummin’! On the left, you can find reports decrying mis-treatment of military or corporate whistle-blowers. And, while there’s not a lot of exposure of corporate or government wrongdoing, you can find it if you look. Unions don’t have a tenth of the money or political clout of giant military-industrial corps, AND YET you CAN’T find whistle-blowing on THEM. Fucking weird, man.
You can’t find anyone who says, “OK, this industry’s union is pretty good, but that union over there is a bunch of – as Zappa said – flakesssssssssssssss.”
Union corruption isn’t just mob involvement. There’s other kinds:
You work in an office and need to fix a jam in a printer (or plug in a new computer). But you’re not allowed to do it yourself, you have to call the official union Maintainance Guy. Not only that but you have to fill out a request form in triplicate, and then wait 3 hours for the Maintanance Guy to show up and plug in your PC or fix your paper jam and charge you $20 for it. If you do it yourself for free in 3 seconds, the whole union goes on strike. Things like that are bad for efficiency.
Like the guy that gets paid $100,000 to sit in the boiler room and make sure the boiler don’t explode. Like probably he checks it 2 times a day and spends the rest of the time doing ebay to make even more money.
BEING DICKS TO THEIR OWN PEOPLE
Or, some unions are cool to new members, but other unions are assholes about seniority: giving all the perks to old timers even if the old-timers are total burn-outs or fart-knockers, and screwing new guys/gals who bring a lot more energy and new ideas to the job. Again, the degree of welcome extended to newcomers is vastly different from union to union, but you’d never know it by listening to the “unions are all good”/ “Unions are all bad” pundits.
COLLUDING WITH MANAGEMENT
The degree to which union bosses represent their rank-and-file or just represent themselves. AKA are the union officials respected by the workers? AKA The degree to which bosses are willing to fight the employers. Hmm, maybe that should be two different categories? I mean you could go by a popularity contest: have the union members vote on how much they liked union bosses, but probably the most corrupt unions would wind up with the most popular rankings!
RECRUITING VS. FUCKING WITH NON-UNION LABOR
some unions go out of their way to fuck with non-unionized labor all “We don’t WANT more workers in our unions because they’ll depress wages. Get the fuck out of here!”, and other unions try to RECRUIT the non-unionized labor and HELP them.
KNOW WHAT I WOULD LIKE????
A fucking graph! A line, a continuum of all the major unions by industry, from most corrupt to most sincerely trying to help the rank-and-file.
This would mean taking all the metrics I detailed above (mob involvement, standing up to management, wasting efficiency, wasting money, seniority issues, and non-union labor outreach) and making some kind of math equation that would add them all up and generate a single number that would place them somewhere on the line.
Since all these things are deliberately secret and off-the-books, any attempt at a ranking them would, of course, involve some guessing, un-named sources, and arbitrary opinions about how to weight the various variables of the equation. But so what? respectable newspapers and NGOs use these kind of “best guess” rankings all the time! From things like GNP to national corruption index, state transparency index, quality of life rankings, etc. . . there’s nothing new about “best guess” rankings. The only new thing would be to get one for unions.
Unfortunately, since this doesn’t suit the interests of the American right OR the American left, it will never happen.
In other countries, is there something like this?
The race to space! (aka the race to have LRBMs). Back in the ‘50s, when Russia launched sputnik (demonstrating it had the technology to lob a fucking nuke missile at us from across the ocean), science and smarts became an immediate matter of national survival. It’s difficult to imagine, but it used to be the most right-wing, General Jack D. Ripper type Crusty anti-commies that were pushing the HARDEST for more education. Smart kids were seen as vital for national defense. WWII vets got the GI bill to repay them for being good warriors. If a modern right-winger went back in time to the ‘50s and started talking about reducing teacher salaries and sending all the kids off to private religious schools to learn about Jesus, they would be laughed out of the fucking Republican party, if not called a Commie agent!
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