Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Of Women and Narratives

I'm not a feminist... I'm also somewhat opposed to certain things that Radical Feminism stands for and I am opposed to the bigotry that comes from Radical Feminism at times. I call myself an egalitarian or something like that... actually I just call myself a person and stop giving a shit after that. Anyways, back to the topic at hand.

I occasionally read Radical Feminist blogs (and a few of them are well written and actually bigotry free!) and there is one notion that I agree with completely. Women, in society, are stuck with the role of being involved in the male's narrative (Or at least most of them) and that itself is problematic. Women accompany men to the dance, women are asked by the man to marry them, women are married to the man and so on so forth. Even today in modern society I think that women are stuck with this shitty notion of being acted upon (as opposed to being actors themselves)

"All the world's a stage, and all the men are merely players. The others are extras."
This is the fundamental flaw that exists in the gender roles in society today. Men wearing suits, women wearing dresses, women being maternal and all that are completely irrelevant to this strange action dichotomy that underlies most social interactions. Men are actors, women and children are extras. They are there for the men to save, for the men to marry and for the men to grow old together with. It's a pity society perceives things this way since there is no foreseeable reason that things should be this way.

When women demanded the ability to act. Men nodded in accordance and told them they'd find a way for women to act. They invented a judicial system, largely run by men, that would make sure women had the ability to act. Women insisted that they assist in the creation of the judicial system and in time men nodded in accordance with that. Fine said the man, you may now appoint female judges to deal with these cases. The narrative has changed yet the actors remain the same.

One of the most vocal groups that oppose the "female-biased" judicial system are Men's Rights Activists (Or MRAs). They recognize that there is a problem with the judicial system and attribute it to a woman's innate desire for security or that all women are gold-digging sluts. In my opinion, the problem with the judicial system that is female biased is that it is female biased because of the role women are given in our actor-dominated society today.

Since women cannot act on their own accord, since women cannot make decisions and since women are subservient to the actors that are men, women are forced to go through a bureaucracy to attain a semblance of equal status. The role of the actor and the extras is continued in this narrative. Instead of the woman going to court to fight for their rights as a women, the women goes to court to fight for her additional rights as a woman. Special treatment is given once again and the motto of "Women and children first" lives on.

Isn't it about time we had come actresses in society's narrative?

Saturday, 7 July 2012

And then Atlas Shrugged

Randites often talk about the book Atlas Shrugged being their rude awakening into the realities of free market economics. Randites often cite this influence to explain why neo-liberal policies are better for everyone and that the policies of the 30s until the 60s were horribly horrible misguided. The government is a powerful form of oppression they scream... it robs from the productive and gives to the unproductive. Those unproductive scum they mumble... those who seek free healthcare, welfare cheques and the Wal-Mart jobs. They are the problem they cry... they are the massive parasites that are destroying our economy.

If they want to make more money, they should go become productive. Anybody can be a businessman they say. Just take your idea, go to the bank, get funding and set up a shop. With hard work the world will fall to your feet. You too can be rich... if you just work hard like the next guy. Wealth is a direct correlation to work they claim. The harder you work... the more you get paid. Tell that to the janitor at Wal-mart or the Cashier at the grocery store.

If you can't make it in the world of business then you must join the working class. Funny word, the working class... it implies that there is a non-working class. They point your attention to those on welfare, those who collect food stamps and those who can't get a job. They tell you that they are the parasites on society... they take your money (And their money, that's the important part) and then blow it on things such as food, shelter and clothes. Look at the unproductive they scream... such useless things they buy. When asked what they'd do with the money, they answer that they'd create jobs. That a rising tide floats all boats and that the wealth would trickle down from the top.

When asked how the water would trickle down they assure you through a massive pipe system. I asked the architect about this distribution system... he assured me such a top-heavy structure would work fine. He said it's practically gravity that the bottom would reap the benefits of the top. It's also practically gravity that, in time, the top would fall and crush the bottom. But that's just details he said, the free market would work that out. He called it economics. I looked at him, a bit puzzled, but would not challenge his credentials. I could not challenge his credentials.

The water distribution system was built and it failed at doing it's job. When it didn't do it's job, we were informed that we just needed more of them. Sure, I said. I was a water system builder and whatever my boss told me I should get about doing. If I didn't, he told me that he'd just hire another water system builder. In time he said he figured out a way to offshore the water system process to a place where they manufactured fine plates and cutlery... China I think was the name.

He told me that the system had too high resistance in the pipes...we needed better materials... something that had a smaller coefficient of kinetic friction. He wanted it frictionless he said... the less friction the freer the water can flow. I nodded. He nodded back. We all nodded together until no one knew what were nodding about. We built the system. Resistance was still too high... must need a new material.

In 2007 the water tower collapsed. When asked why the water tower collapsed, we said it was the rent seekers that had caused it collapse. I couldn't understand why the rent seekers were mucking with the tower... it barely gave them enough water to drink... far from the amount of water required to live. I didn't argue, I might lose my job.

It is now present day. More and more people don't understand why we build water towers upside down and more and more people are starting to ask questions. They go onto websites and talk to others about these water towers. They talk about things called the free markets and how they don't seem to work. They hear that free markets don't really exist, that they've never existed and that the water towers were designed from the start to collapse. They are shocked... they are disgusted... they forget about it and go watch Survivor.

But more and more people are not forgetting about it. They heard about how a cartel of water towers managed to divert their channels such that the water always went to the top. A rising tide floats all boats... too bad the tide has been diverted. It now goes to propping up more and more water towers.

You can't ignore reality. The gravity of personal freedom always wins out in the long run. The day is coming when the builders revolt against the owners. The day is coming when the water towers come crumbling down. The builders are waiting... they are forming mobs. A giant is waking up. It is time for Atlas to shrug. But those who worship Atlas and the free market...they have made a grave mistake. They are not Atlas, they are both dangling on his back.

Friday, 6 July 2012

What Obama Really Represents

I've thought about this a lot lately and I think I've come to a conclusion about what Obama finally really represents to those who are not so dogmatically inclined. In saying this, I come not to these conclusions alone... influence from a wide array of economists, professors and bloggers have driven me to conclude this end. To the progressives Obama means hope, change and progress. Obama represents a monumental occasion in the world's history. The first African American President of the United States was elected and that means we are becoming more accepting of each other and that the world is becoming a more accepting and loving place.

What Obama really represents is the death of democracy and the perfection of commercial presidencies. Although it's argued that no president since Nixon has truly feared the electorate... I feel that Obama is the first president to really represent the death of the electorate. Obama was a businessman dealing in deception and he sold it all... hook, line and sinker. Obama represented a powerful commercial progressive image that was sold to the populace. The whole world stopped turning -for an instant- in awe of this image. Such hope, such change, such propaganda.

Obama represents a lot of things. He was sold as a people's person with issues himself, a hard worker who climbed the social ladder, a father with two daughters, a feminist, an environmentalist, a bleeding heart liberal, a man for the worker's unions, a man for the people, a man for Wall Street, the list goes on. He was sold on CNN during the reality TV show called the news. Sound clips of hope and change, a dash of pictures going onto a private air plane and pictures of tour buses. Obama was saving the world. That's what we were told, Obama was saving the world.

He was going to fly in on his private jet and put the evil bankers in their place. He was going to slay Global Warming and tame the beasts of Renewable Energy. Under his reign, the Gays, the Jews and the Muslims would all join hands and sing sweet prayers to the high heavens. He was going to solve the puzzle of World Peace, fix the United Nations and probably solve the Euro-zone's debt crisis. He was going to be such a bad-ass and that's all we cared about. He was going to fix EVERYTHING. Yeah, he was going to fix everything. I'm sure, if need be, he would have bombed China too for the conservatives too... just to make them happy. Then, of course, he would have dispatched a relief effort to help the Chinese out... he'd tell them it was a necessary evil for the greater good.

It's too bad Obama wasn't in it to save the world. It's too bad we thought he was. Of course, we've had countless people actually run who want to save the world. People who genuinely believe in democracy... who abandon the American Dream to pursue the American Dream for the 99%. We never elect those people, their stories seem so good... so fake. People who believe in hard work, sacrifice and actually trying to make a change. Those people are real heroes. Too bad we won't deserve them, we don't even deserve democracy.

Those people are the heroes we need. We'll get the heroes we deserve.

Monday, 2 July 2012

What happened to Worker's Rights?

In modern politics a lot of time is spent debating working rights for minorities and women. They demand equal opportunity as white men in all domains and this goal (even if it does not always work out) it is a noble pursuit that, if the disparities are drastic, should be pursued. However, in today's globalized economy and in today's neoliberal political sphere one issue important to all workers has fallen aside. The issue of worker's rights has been forgotten, buried and now lie dead with champions of worker's rights such as Martin Luther King Jr and Harvey Milk.

In a time of progressive movements, "radical" liberals and pro-choice debates we have forgotten about perhaps the most important rights of all. The right to fair pay and the right to work. These two rights have been forgotten by the 99% and torn asunder for the richest 0.1%. People talk constantly about education... and how a good education will get you a good job but even the value of an education has been declining over the last decade. Youth today face an alarming environment where they are forced to either work minimum wage with little chance of promotion, take on large student debts or receive the aid of their parents in financing their post-secondary crusade. The choices are slim and the prospects are slimmer.

You may graduate with a degree in one of the hot fields... but if you don't you will likely wind up flipping burgers, serving coffee or making sandwiches. You will be paid minimum wage for these tasks and you will be kept constantly on edge by the threat of losing your job or in the case of more advanced degrees, being outsourced. This pressure keeps wage prices low, keeps CEO profits high and in an environment with high unemployment the threat can be infinitely sustained. Someone will do the job you do since there are plenty of candidates to do it.

The effect of this pressure destroy all safety nets supporting workers, shift the power from the labourer to the rent-collector and result in the growth of corporatism. Since the rent-collector now has excess power and seeks to increase their ability to collect rent, the rent-collector uses its influence to increase rent-flow and this results in money being siphoned away from the healthier parts of the economy. As consumers become unable to consume due to the high rent costs imposed on them (Largely a result of the financial sector not government taxes) the healthier parts of the economy become even more stagnant.

As the economy stagnates the rent collectors become unable to collect more rent through conventional means and turn to government backed insurance obligations and the likes to continue increasing their rent collecting efforts. This involves taking on more risk with the taxes from income tax payers who are facing squeezes from high rent collection on their revenue. The income tax payers grow to depend on government services which depend on income taxes from the income tax payers. The banks proceed to cut into the income tax revenue and this results in shrinking of government services.

This income tax revenue must be further leveraged to allow the economics of rent-extraction to continue and in an economy with less consumer power greater risks must be taken by the rent-collectors to allow profit growth to continue. These risks must be backed by something and as a result government backs these risking loans to allow continued economic growth... or at least allow the illusion to go on. However, these government backed insurances are once again backed by the income tax payer who is facing more and more of a squeeze due to shrinking consumer power and now shrinking government power.

As the government shrinks government jobs are cut resulting in further loss of consumer power. This creates a powerful feedback loop where consumer power and government power both keep decreasing while financial institutes grow larger and larger. Unable to maintain growth margins, the financial institutes must take on more and more risk to compensate for poor consumer power. As the system collapses underneath the worker's feet, media shifts attention from the failing financial system to the remaining unions. The unions becomes a martyr for a massive financial sector that needs consumer support to survive.

However, due to the economic problem of rent capture, the financial sector can no longer feed off just the consumer and must also feed off the government. Worker's unions are broken up to provide additional stomping grounds for the financial sector to feed off of and subsequently the economy contracts further. Without strong unions it becomes easier and easier for corporations to exert predatory behaviour and they become capable of destroying the labour market and even stagnating healthier markets. This is why worker's rights have been forgotten. Their death began in the 1970s with the dawn of Neoliberal economics and they are but a long lost dream now.