Tag Archives: poverty

America’s immigration “problem” is “solved” (a story with heavy implications)

You may have noticed this story in the Wall St. Journal several days ago:

Tide Turns on Border Crossing
– Number of Immigrants Arriving From Mexico Now Equaled by Those Going Home

Net migration from Mexico has plummeted to zero thanks to changing demographic and economic conditions on both sides of the border, a new study says, even as political battles over illegal immigration heat up and the issue heads to the U.S. Supreme Court. Continue reading America’s immigration “problem” is “solved” (a story with heavy implications)

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Andrew Breitbart: no grave-dancing, just sadness…

Andrew Breitbart is dead at 43.

The fair-and-balanced corporate media is in full swing, calling him a “conservative blogger,” which is true; a “conservative activist…[and] an influential voice in US Republican politics known for his attacks on liberals and Democrats,” which is true; and a “US conservative author and activist known for publishing embarrassing sting videos of left-wing groups,” which is at once true and pathologically deceptive.

For instance:

  • In 2010, he posted two videos excerpting a speech by Shirley Sherrod, then Georgia State Director of Rural Development for the USDA, at an NAACP event. The videos were edited together in a way that made it appear Sherrod was saying things she never said or meant, but the result was Sherrod being fired. Once the entire speech was made available, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was compelled to apologize to Sherrod and offer her a new job. Continue reading Andrew Breitbart: no grave-dancing, just sadness…

Positive freedom vs. negative freedom: what are your dreams on Martin Luther King Day?

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream, and by now hopefully most of us have heard the famous speech where he explained that magnificent vision. We have dreams, too, every one of us. Not all of our dreams are lofty and worthy, though. Not all of our dreams make the world a better place. Some of our dreams are shallow and selfish, and unfortunately we share this planet with too many whose dreams are hateful, destructive, evil. This is one of the reasons why MLK Day is so important: it’s one day each year where we are reminded of the enlightening, uplifting, ennobling power of a human’s ability to dream.

Today, Scholars & Rogues honors the memory of Dr. King by asking our readers to reflect on their own dreams. What do you dream of? Why do you have this dream? What impact do your dreams have on your family, your friends, your community, your country, your world? Continue reading Positive freedom vs. negative freedom: what are your dreams on Martin Luther King Day?

What would a progressive society look like? The Tricentennial Manifesto

The Tricentennial ManifestoOne of my lists is currently engaged in a fairly dynamic discussion about “what is a progressive?”

In thinking about the issue, I realized that it might help to ask the question a slightly different way: what would a progressive society look like? Maybe I can better understand what it means to be progressive in 2010 if I reverse-engineer the definition from a vision of the future where things work the way they ought to.

I have argued that the success of the progressive movement hinges on seriously long-term thinking. It’s not about the 2012 elections or the 2016 elections or even the 2020 elections – those fights are about the battle, not the war.

Instead, if we do things properly, if we concentrate on and win the war, what does America look like on our Tricentennial? The following 40 articles suggest some ideas. Continue reading What would a progressive society look like? The Tricentennial Manifesto

John, Elizabeth, Rielle and the dumpster fire at the end of the world

There’s a train rolling to a stop just outside of town. It’s a long train, and each flatbed carries 20 dumpsters. Each dumpster is filled to overflowing with nuclear waste and flaming grease. As the copter shot pulls away the final credits roll over the first few bars of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” We can all breathe a sigh of relief – all is well now, but just a few moments ago this train was hurtling at top speed toward the city center, its murdered conductor’s body holding the throttle in full-steam position.

This isn’t some wholesome, Focus on the Family-friendly Thomas the Train, folks. No, sir. This is the toxic, Viagra-addled nuclear dumpster grease fire Johnny the Train from Hell, and it came that close to plowing headlong into the unshielded nards of American democracy. Continue reading John, Elizabeth, Rielle and the dumpster fire at the end of the world

Democracy & Elitism 2: performance elitism vs privilege elitism, and why the difference matters

Democracy+ElitismPart two in a series.

“Elite” hasn’t always been an epithet. In fact, if we consider what the dictionary has to say about it, it still signifies something potentially worthy. Potentially. For instance:

e·lit·ism or é·lit·ism (-ltzm, -l-) n.
1. The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.le

That definition, while technically accurate enough, could use a bit of untangling, because it embodies the very nature of our problem with elitism in America. In popular use, the term “elite” and its derivatives has been twisted into a pure, distilled lackwit essence of “liberal” – another once-proud word that fell victim to our moneyed false consciousness machine. Continue reading Democracy & Elitism 2: performance elitism vs privilege elitism, and why the difference matters

Democracy & Elitism: an introduction to the American false consciousness

Democracy+ElitismPart one in a series.

Is there a more radioactive word in American politics today than elitist?

Admit it – you saw the word and had an instinctive negative reaction, didn’t you? If not, then count yourself among the rarest minority in our culture, the fraction of a percent that has not yet had its consciousness colonized by the “evil elitist” meme. If not, you’re one of a handful of people not yet victimized by a cynical public relations frame that poses perhaps the greatest danger to the health of our republic in American history.

Pretty dire language there, huh? Perhaps we’ve ventured a little too deeply into the land of hyperbole? It might seem so at a glance, but in truth the success of any society is largely a function of the things it believes and how those beliefs shape its actions and policies. Continue reading Democracy & Elitism: an introduction to the American false consciousness

Let the economy die?! Rushkoff’s goals are noble but his plan needs work

A couple of weeks ago author and NYU media theory lecturer Douglas Rushkoff penned a provocative essay for Arthur Magazine. Entitled “Let It Die,” the essay explains why we should stop trying to save the economy.

In a perfect world, the stock market would decline another 70 or 80 percent along with the shuttering of about that fraction of our nation’s banks. Yes, unemployment would rise as hundreds of thousands of formerly well-paid brokers and bankers lost their jobs; but at least they would no longer be extracting wealth at our expense. They would need to be fed, but that would be a lot cheaper than keeping them in the luxurious conditions they’re enjoying now. Even Bernie Madoff costs us less in jail than he does on Park Avenue.

Alas, I’m not being sarcastic. Continue reading Let the economy die?! Rushkoff’s goals are noble but his plan needs work

What Would Jesus Do (with $40 million)?

33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

– Matthew 25: 33-40

I was reminded of this little passage today as I reviewed these numbers: Continue reading What Would Jesus Do (with $40 million)?

Mapping American progress

About three weeks ago, Jim Moss over at The Seminal laid the 2008 electoral results map over maps of poverty and income inequality. The visual comparison was illuminating, and Jim’s post got me to thinking – what if you did the same thing with a wider range of measures and rankings? What kind of picture would emerge? (Jim has himself expanded on the exercise in a couple follow-up postings here and here.)

So I spent some time digging, looking for data that may tell us something about how America is constructed at our current moment in time. Continue reading Mapping American progress