Socialism or Social Justice?

Tom Cantrell, a friend and a smart guy whom I respect immensely, wrote me an email questioning my stand on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I responded. We have different points of view. He has agreed that our discussion can go forward in this blog. I have opened it up for others to contribute, but there are rules.

Rule #1: This is my publication, these are my rules, if you don’t like the rules, that’s okay.

Rule #2: No cheap shots. Some will say I take cheap shots. I will change something if I think I should, but see Rule 1.

Rule #3: Stay on topic. We are not going to talk about the Meuller probe, or chem trails. Who decides what’s on topic? C’mon.

Rule #4 (as of 9:00 a.m. March 8, 2019): You’ve buried me! I am unable to respond to the sheer volume of words coming in via email, Word .docs, comments, with photos, etc.

Therefore, limit your responses to ONE point. Under 500 words. Comments MUST be posted here, below. Sign in, do the Captcha dance, and I will try to get them up asap. If you want to drop me a note (“Hey, Erik, I put a comment up, where is it?”) that’s fine.

~ Erik Dolson

On Mar 4, 2019, at 9:06 AM, Tom Cantrell wrote:
Erik, you are not really advocating Socialist governing concepts are you??

On Mon, Mar 4, 2019 1:21 pm, Erik Dolson wrote:
Tom, that’s such an open ended, loaded, and ill-defined “gotcha” question, I can’t possibly answer it.

Tell me what you mean and are referring to. Give me an example based on something I wrote or said. Disagree with the specific, and let’s talk about it. If you want to discuss something, be fair in your question.

To Erik Dolson:
I do not intend to be rude but I do intend to be direct. The reason I asked was to understand why you have so much respect and agreement for AOC’s (U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) thoughts and opinions. America is a Republic and AOC does not believe in a Republic system of Government. AOC has made it clear that she supports Socialist style of Government. There is a difference in making laws based on the support of the majority versus imposing laws that the minority believes are best for the majority. No gotcha, just curious.

To: Tom Cantrell
Tom, I have clearly stated that I disagree with some of her ideas: “I was skeptical at first and don’t agree with everything she believes, but I do think she is fast becoming the most important political voice in America.”

No support for socialism there.

Again, you do not give me a specific statement that I made or that AOC has made to discuss. Show me where I have said, or for that matter, where AOC has said, that she promotes “imposing laws that the minority believes are best for the majority.”

In any case, a minority can hope to pursuade a majority that there are other points of view. That used to be the strength of America. And there is no disagreement from me that some of her views are currently a minority opinion. That the right seeks to supress her ideas by saying they are unAmerican, as you do here, is an indication of their power.

My enthusiasm for AOC has to do with her willingness to put in the work and ask tough questions. The first post noted her questioning the way corporations can and do buy senators and representatives and how this hurts ordinary Americans. The second was about AOC asking Trump’s consiglieri Michael Cohen who knew what about possible racketeering by Trump.

Nothing to do with socialism in either case.

At 10 p.m. on March 5, Tom Cantrell wrote:
Eric, my question was: “Are you advocating socialist governing concepts” ?

 I was not implying that you suggest imposing laws that the minority think are best for the majority but you do think she is a fresh voice.  So I asked you a direct question as to your views/advocacy on Socialist governing.

As for AOC, here is what she has said:  “Yup. If you don’t like the #GreenNewDeal, then come up with your own ambitious, on-scale proposal to address the global climate crisis. Until then, we’re in charge – and you’re just shouting from the cheap seats”. 

I am sure there will be other polls that some will point to but here is the best one I have seen and not only provides the exact question that was asked but also provides the demographics. https://remingtonresearchgroup.com/green_new_deal_survey/

 As for the Green Deal being a socialist ideal here is another poll with good info. https://thehill.com/hilltv/what-americas-thinking/432102-most-voters-view-green-new-deal-as-largely-socialist-poll-shows

 I can not agree that I am suppressing her opinions, however if the majority of Americans do not agree with her or me, it is not suppression it is free thought.  I am not agreeing with her that is clear. 

The real irony with the concern of suppression and BIG money in elections is the actions of the past to the Tea Party and the Freedom Caucus.  As we all know the IRS took a very long look at these groups and all conservative groups.  The IRS denied them 501-C status, investigated conservative groups for months/years and even tried to fine them.  So little said by so many about their fight against BIG money and it’s influence at that time.  The fight is the same but the people are different, but now those fighting are a breath of fresh air.  I would call that discrimination.  To be clear I am not suggesting that you did this.

I agree that the minority can or may convince the majority to change their line of thinking but I doubt it will happen. The attitude as been broadcast by the Political Party Leaders that a Party must stand shoulder to shoulder and vote the party line, no matter how bad the legislation is or what it’s effect would be.  Sure there will be one or two defectors but not enough to make a change.  When one sees a party that has defectors in the range of 5 to 10 people one should ask them selves a few hard questions about fair and free thinking or if they are also just following the party line.. 

Our Fore Fathers provided us with the best solutions for prosperity and Governance which can be proven by comparing America to any other country in history for success and freedom for period of 242 years.  Our Fore Fathers warned us time and time again thru the Federalist papers, Bill of Rights, Constitution and multiple speeches regarding other systems of Government yet we seem to try to flirt with the very things they warned us about.  We are acting as rebellious teenagers and trying to do what has already been done but expecting different results. Looking at the political landscape, I do not think the” tyranny of the majority” has fueled that length of success and prosperity of America for over 200 years, in fact I think the opposite.

At 10:30 March 5, Erik Dolson replied:

Tom, this is a bit of a moving target, but I’ll do my best.

Your first emails to me clearly indicate that since I expressed appreciation for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, that I was advocating “socialist governing concepts.” Your phrasing noted. Which is still not true, see argument above.

It’s as if I’d said that since you’re a capitalist who favors deregulation, you want more people to have lung cancer, more lead in drinking water, tornados or wildfires to kill hundreds of people. I know that you are not in favor of poisoning children with lead in their drinking water. That’s the danger of labels, right?

None the less, you did say that AOC favors minority rule, if you will pardon the short hand. Which I don’t think is true and you don’t really offer much evidence.

The right wing has stuffed the media with mischaracterizations of what AOC said about the Green New Deal (which I do NOT support in total). It took 6 Google pages to get to an actual quote and that was from a British newspaper, once you get through “Glocknews” and the “Washington Examiner,” “Pig-in-the-Poke Daily,” etc. Six pages, that is not an exageration.

Here is what AOC said: “So people are like ‘Oh it’s unrealistic, oh it’s vague, oh it doesn’t address this little minute thing’ and I’m like ‘You try! You do it!’ Because you’re not, so until you do it, I’m the boss, How about that?”

See the words, “You try! You do it!” and “…until you do it?” She is putting ideas out there. Boy, does that have the right wing riled up. The first six pages of a Google search full of fear and loathing that a 29 year-old freshman congresswoman said  the planet is in danger and Americans need a future!

Damn straight I think she’s becoming one of the more important voices in American politics. AOC is trying to start a discussion about what is possibly the greatest threat to mankind since the last comet hit the earth. She is trying to put Americans to work (albeit poorly, in my opinion). She is trying to address the corrosive influence of Senators for Sale.

About damn time we had these dicussions in ways that Americans can understand.

Your comments about the majority of people being opposed to her concepts or her words? A majority of people think we need a better health care system. A majority of people think Trump’s unfit for office. If you want to credit opinion polls, then let’s go with those, too, okay?

Tea Party and Freedom Caucus? I will admit to disparaging both. And some were targeted by the IRS for abusing the system, possibly some which had not. But they had a pretty good run until they got swallowed by Mitch McConnel and Trump Republicans who rammed through a non-conservative, hyopocritical, budget busting give-away to huge corporations which are not hiring more workers but using their tax break windfall to buy their own stock and prop up share prices, further enriching the top 1 percent.

And when it’s time to cut the budgets, it will be the poor and middle class who will bear the burden because “America can’t afford these dangerous deficits.” The rich will scream “class warfare, class warfare” when they were the ones who started it.

Remember how Main Street bailed out Wall Street? Wall Street took the money and gave themselves a raise.

Slavishly following the party line? You’re talking about Republicans, right? Lockstep for years, now? Right? Okay, agreed.

As to your comments about our form of govenment, our forefathers, other forms of government, etc.? Non arguments, more of that “she opposes DEMOCRACY!” fear mongering, kinda like saying that since the sky is blue and chocolate tastes good, you’re on the side of right.

The biggest threat to what our forefathers envisioned is sitting in the White House, tweeting Fox News releases to undermine the very principles you say are important.

AOC needs protecting NOW.

by Erik Dolson

Listen and watch this short video. It’s just a few minutes long.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of most remarkable people to appear on the American political scene in recent memory. Her perspective is honest and fresh. Her courage is astounding. She does truly represent the American people, and not special interests or the 1 percent who bought Mitch McConnell and others in Congress.

I was skeptical at first and don’t agree with everything she believes, but I do think she is fast becoming the most important political voice in America.

Which puts her in danger. Her words are so on point and her bravery so obvious  that many of those who voted for Trump can identify with this bartender from New York. Corporate, political and individual special interests will do anything to shut her down, shut her up,  because she is willing to expose their corruption. They. Will. Do. Anything.  They have in the past and will do so again. Perhaps the Koch Brothers and the CEO of Marathon Oil should be put under surveillance.

They have too much to lose if Ocasio-Cortez continues to highlight how they and others like them have stolen our country, and the future of our children. America needs AOC, and AOC needs protection now, before it’s too late.

 

Self-evident truths

Democrats need to quit pointing out hardships faced by so many ordinary people. They act as if hardship and despair is a byproduct of greed. It’s not. Hardship is itself a goal of the Republican Party, the means to an end.

Oh, I hear the snarls and howls of outrage coming from the right. “Class warfare!” they exhale with feigned shock and dismay. Yes. And they started the war. But for a very good reason.

The GOP believes if they make life frightening, lonely, famished and cold for those not in the top one percent, society will return to a holy, orderly and value-based future. Not values-based, but value. You are what you own.

Since the GOP is the party of the ruling class, it creates laws that protects their ownership.

“But not ALL the people who voted for the half-smart, very cunning, pathological liar and malignant narcissist who occupies the White House is a member of the one percent!” foolish liberals exclaim. True enough. Many of those who voted for President Trumpkin are good, decent, hard working or decent and unemployed Americans who are angry that undeserving people are getting more than their share.

By undeserving, they mean someone who is not them.

Conditioned with fear and outrage by Fox News, the propaganda arm of the Republican Party, those good people often still believe that a serial bankrupt who cheated in business, defrauded those who sought to better themselves, who abused women, who still hides his tax returns and flaunts his horrid ignorance, has their interests at heart. Seriously.

Democrats colluded in this, by the way. As towns and small cities across the country were being hollowed out by the offshoring of industry so Home Depot could sell cheap air conditioners to people losing their jobs, the Democrats were arguing among themselves about how many colors should be in the LGBTSQRXZEP flag.

Yeah, yeah, I know you Democrats think this is important, but that’s because you have a job and live on the Left Coast surrounded by people who agree with you. I think it’s important, too. But please… the house is burning down. Now is not the time to debate into which closet the photo albums should go. Because you’re so passionate about what doesn’t really matter in a time of crisis, you’ve lost so big it will take generations to clean this up.

Shut up. I don’t want to hear it. Go take an Econ 101 course and quit hating other people’s money. When Main Street was forced to bail out Wall Street a decade ago, you failed in your mission to support the working class and lost your moral authority.

The story of how Republicans seized control of the country using poor white people to vote against their interests is one for history books when they are written, if anyone has the education to write them, if anyone has the attention span to read them, if and only if control of the media by the ruling class is not yet absolute.

The Russians are thrilled.

It’s about to get much worse this year as the tax code is rewritten and deficit explodes, ownership of the Internet is handed over to AT&T and Verizon, and health insurance becomes such a heavy burden that everyone below the top 40 percent will have to choose between health care or college for their children.

What’s important to realize is that for the GOP, that’s a good thing! The evils of public education, hardship housing, choice of sexual identity, free flow of information, minimal standards of living, and social security, will be banished not by passing laws, but by freedom of choice!

Hardship will clean up society! Hardship will restore the work ethic, put people back in church pews, reduce crime, keep families together, promote proper values! Because people will be forced by hardship to choose the right thing!

When the economic crisis comes, because it must, from budget deficits so large that cuts will have to be made, taxes won’t go up on the wealthy. The ruling class will have shielded their income in loopholes or offshore accounts where it can’t be touched.

Corporations won’t have to pay because they’ll scream “Job killer! Job killer! Job Killer!” to the unemployed as they turn robots into truck drivers, servers, health care workers, taxi drivers, retail clerks, back hoe operators, doctors, lawyers, writers, musicians and maybe policepersons, too.

Through those corporations, the ruling class will own these robots, by the way. Public services will be privatized because The Free Market shall provide! and the rest of us will have to pay even as those services are cut because our nation can’t afford it! after tax cuts the ruling class will have given themselves in a free kleptocracy.

The Boston Tea Party may have been a protest of taxes to the king, but the tea was owned by the East India Company. We hold these truths to be self-evident…

Turn it off, Part III

Whoa. The phone companies have been keeping records of all our calls! They have employees embedded with the Drug Enforcement Administration to comb information! And because it’s a company, not the government, that stores all these records, it’s legal!

May I be forgiven an “I told you so?” May I be forgiven for repeating, again, that we don’t know the half of it?

Think back to the beginning of our nation, when we learned hard lessons that economic power was as corrupting as political power. The East India Company was the target of the Tea Party, as much as the Crown. Railroads were broken up because they strangled the nation. Oil companies were broken up for the same.

A few decades ago, the phone company, Ma Bell, was dismantled. Wire taps had to be court approved. But we don’t use wires anymore! The Baby Bells have morphed into a technocorp, an oligarchy extending tentacles ever deeper into our lives. The lifeblood of our nation flows through portals of the internet, and they tap all communication with only a passing nod to courts protecting the Bill of Rights.

When oligarchs take control of vital services, corruption inevitably follows.

I was stupid when ranting on these “pages” about why there isn’t greater effort to promote competition in the telecomm industry. The government doesn’t want an effective “market!”  The oligopoly serves the government interest. It is easier to collude with four companies than a dozen.

A friend calls the government/corporate beast “Leviathan.”  2,000 years ago, Plato warned against the power of “Oligarchs.” The enemy is within the gates, and we have failed to defend ourselves.

We must not be stampeded into servitude by fears of terrorism or concerns about drug-fueled chaos. Privacy laws must be updated, and made ferociously effective.

Turn off the Security-Technology Complex

On January 17, 1961, when President Dwight Eisenhower delivered his farewell address, he warned the country about the “military-industrial complex.”

Acknowledging the need for a strong military during the Cold War (Eisenhower was a five-star general leading troops in World War II and Supreme Commander of allied forces in Europe), he cautioned against the loss of liberty if Congress, the military, and industry colluded to hijack the public interest (emphasis mine):

“Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.

It’s been nearly three generations since that speech. During that time, we have unwittingly initiated the greatest experiments in the history of our species on what it means to be mankind, and society. Television. Cell phones. The internet.

But Eisenhower’s warning is not only relevant today, it is more important than ever before. The phrase “military-industrial complex” sounds nearly quaint. But its spawn, the “security-technology complex,” is not only alive but very active, very aware of itself, and very sophisticated in its manipulation of information and abuse of power.

It’s not just politics, or the illusions of freedom. Hiding behind false facades built of threats and promises, they analyze what you buy, what you read, what you drive, where you live and where you go. They use sophisticated tools to learn what you think, then tailor information you receive to create perceived threats and solutions that serve their interests, not yours.

They manage you. They herd you behind fences of fear, corral you with a tight focus on “message,” follow you and quickly respond if you get out of line. They feast on the heart of what our founding fathers worked so hard to achieve.

It may be too late, but there is one response they can’t control.

Turn it off.

Anonymity

Okay, I drank way, way too much ice tea last night, and am cruising into this lovely Sunday morning on far too little sleep. But still…

Public garbage cans in London have screens that display advertisements.

Those same garbage cans can recognize smart phones of people walking by.

And if the garbage can sees you going into a different coffee shop than usual, it can flash a “loyalty” message as you walk by.

Who told Ridley Scott and Terry Gilliam they were in charge?

In the past, I loved the future. My first favorite books were science fiction: Assimov, Heinlein, Bradbury, then on to Phillip K. Dick , William Gibson and Samuel R. Delany. There was something liberating about the future, not quite chaotic, not anarchistic, nor autarchistic, but a place… unbound, I guess.

Perhaps the only thing unbound was my imagination. I’ve heard that before. There was, of course, the threat of Orwell, but 1984 came and went and big brother had not arrived.

But now, maybe it has: The NSA. Black boxes under your dashboard record every stop and go, in your car or on your computer. Your cell phone broadcasts a constant stream of who you are, where you are, what you are doing and when. Drones. Verizon. Xfinity. CenturyLink. AT&T.

Yes, I fear corporate snooping more than government snooping, primarily because corporations are better at it and they own our lawmakers. But it doesn’t matter who is perched on my shoulder. Laws protecting privacy are in serious need of review. Because what we feel and what we do can be modified by those who anticipate our behavior through study of the habits of people just like us.

We are losing control not only of our freedom, but of what we think. And it may already be too late.

Oligarchs own America

It’s too late. They won.

Revelations about the National Security Agency spying on citizens by collecting phone records and Facebook messages, snooping on us via the Internet, finally brought the issue to light.

But the real story is exposed by connecting the dots. Edward J. Snowden, the man who leaked the NSA spying, didn’t work for the NSA. He worked for a corporation, Booz Allen Hamilton, whose vice-chairman was a former head of the NSA. Like using mercenaries in Iraq, our government has subcontracted security, and gives corporations powers greater than those of any individual citizen.

Corporations doing the work of government can be as pernicious as government trying to manage outcomes in the market place. Perhaps more so, because our government, at least in theory, serves at the will of its citizens.

Corporations have, and should have, as their primary obligation the maximisation of their own influence, power and profit. When corporations do the work of government, whether providing mercenaries or performing data collection, the lines of accountability become tangled.

Booz Allen wasn’t spying via telescopes or listening devices: They had other corporations hand over records of who we were calling, and when. They claim legitimacy, and deny they recorded our phone calls or messages, and that may be partially true. But we have very little privacy in this new digital world where the collection of data by government or corporations is of high interest and great value.

If you search for a car, for months you will see car ads online. Search for a vacuum in February, and you will see ads for those from March until May. This is no coincidence. They read what you are reading, they are looking over your shoulder and collecting this information. And they have the capacity to manipulate that information at will.

The biggest threat to democracy in America does not come directly from government. It comes from AT&T and Verizon. Not only do these behemoths increasingly control how we communicate with each other, they control the very information we depend on to make decisions. Yes, Google and Apple, too.

If one wants to research abuses by cell phone companies, it is increasingly likely the search results will contain pages of sponsored ads, or stories about cell phone contracts instead of real information. AT&T and Verizon, working alone or in collusion with other corporate partners such as Comcast,  have that capacity to manage what we see.

Given that these corporations now own the politicians of America, with congressmen like Oregon’s Rep. Greg Walden doing their bidding, the game is essentially over.

Despite warnings from President Eisenhower about the “military-industrial complex,”  despite the 1960s, despite mountains of evidence of market manipulation and collusion and outright lies by these voracious corporate gluttons, despite the vast transfer of wealth from the middle class to the 1/10 of one percent, despite all that and because of all that, they won.

They won because there now is one primary vehicle of information and communication, the lifeblood of any democracy, and they own it. They listen to what we are saying, they let us see what they allow. With that, they stunt our ideas and muffle our speech.