Can American Exceptionalism be a dangerous ideal?

Atticus is the author of the progressive-right political and lifestyle blog BlogTruth. His experience spans almost a decade providing business and consulting services to firms across the globe. Stop by his blog and say hello.

*It should be noted that the ideas in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the blog owner, John Barron.

Patriotism, in any form, always runs the risk of becoming a subtle form of selfishness and ego driven elitism. Usually its affects are subtle, subconscious, but no less sinister.  And in many ways I believe that is the form of Patriotism that has taken hold in America.

To understand what I’m talking about I want to define the good and bad forms of patriotism. The good form of patriotism is like a sports fan. The sports fan takes pride in his “team”, maybe donates to their cause in exchange for a event ticket, chants their anthem, and proudly wears their colors. At the end of the day the Sport fan has no delusion that he is more valuable than the other team.

The bad kind of patriotism, the kind often present in America, has taken on a particular and perhaps dangerous form of psychological elitism. It is highlighted by a subtle, yet ever present belief that we are entitled to more because were born in a rich country rather than a poor one.  It is a feeling that because we were born here that the advantages of said birth are ours alone – and to be protected. Let me provide two examples I would like to hear about in the comments.

1. Why do we find it morally acceptable to border a 3rd world country where people live in unacceptable conditions and at the same time refuse them entry into America to find a better life – to escape poverty, oppression, and corruption? Do they not deserve the same advantages we were granted by birth? Why not have an open border? Are their lives less valuable than ours?

2. Why are we okay with buying iPhones and the latest gadgets when we are well aware that they were made with slave-like labor. How can we claim moral superiority when we merely turn a blind eye (and perpetuate with our purchases) to the moral atrocities that occur across the world?

I would like to end with a quote:

My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.

**Without Googling who said it ask yourself if you agree with that quote. Does it make it any less true?

Comments

  1. We need borders because we’re a sovereign nation. It has nothing to do with the value of the person. Mexico or any other 3rd world nation is that way because of the government and isn’t really our problem.

    It is because of our capitalist state that we can have gadgets like we do. For more than 200 years we have bucked the world trend of government intervention in free market (up until recently). Nations which don’t have the disposable income that we do can thank their government as well. We shouldn’t feel bad because we have it better. We did it. We worked and created a society that this can be done in. It could happen anywhere for the most part. But notice that when we try to free a nations people from tyranny everyone complains that we shouldn’t try to force our way of life on them. You can’t have it both ways.

    Here’s the problem I have with your line of thinking and mind set. I look at a society like we have, the wealth, the freedom and I think everyone should raise themselves up to our level. You look at our success and want to take us down to their level.

    Wealth and success is not a bad thing. I’m not embarrassed for it.

    • @John

      John, I don’t think you get it.

      “Mexico or any other 3rd world nation is that way because of the government and isn’t really our problem.”

      Really? This coming from a conservative Christian? Isn’t the well-being of all humanity everyone’s problem? We are humans. Not American, Mexican, etc. We have what we have because we were fortunate enough to be born in America. We could have just as easily been born a slave, a farmer, or a factory worker.

      “We shouldn’t feel bad because we have it better. We did it. We worked and created a society that this can be done in. It could happen anywhere for the most part.”

      We didn’t do anything. We ride the coat tails of great men who did it for us. We were lucky enough to be born in a nation with these opportunities. It can’t happen anywhere – that is a fallacy.

      “But notice that when we try to free a nations people from tyranny everyone complains that we shouldn’t try to force our way of life on them. You can’t have it both ways.”

      Who have we tried to “free”? Our wars are for self-interests, not for some noble spread of freedom. We need resources. We overthrow non-friendly foreign leaders. We engage in perpetual war to ensure our economy is stable. Please tell me what nation we are so kindly trying to free?

      “Here’s the problem I have with your line of thinking and mind set. I look at a society like we have, the wealth, the freedom and I think everyone should raise themselves up to our level. You look at our success and want to take us down to their level.”

      Wrong. You missed my point. My point is that we are all humans. Humans of equal value – regardless of race or nationality. Americans were lucky to be born in a country with wealth – others were not so lucky. Everyone deserves these opportunities as much as we do.

      “Wealth and success is not a bad thing. I’m not embarrassed for it.”

      Wealth and success is not embarrassing. What is embarrassing is the means in which you obtain that wealth, who you step on in the process, and greed.

      • Are you saying that because we are all human, everyone has a right to everything?

        By the way, God never told the Israelites this message.
        It’s great and noble to idealize, but reality is a fickle thing. Help where you can, but just because some live in poverty and oppression doesn’t mean I have to.

        Have you shared your wealth? Have you shared “enough”? Do you open your home to the homeless?

        • “Are you saying that because we are all human, everyone has a right to everything?

          No. I am saying because we are all human we all have EQUAL rights to everything.

          And I’m pretty sure that Jesus talked a lot about human rights issues. Wasn’t he God in the flesh? Don’t forget – the historical Jesus of the bible was executed because he preached these radical ideas that the powers that be did not appreciate.

          • Instead of being pretty sure, read the gospels and make that case. Jesus wasn’t a socialist.

            • This isn’t about capitalism and socialism. You are making a political argument because you do not like the idea of pure equality.

              My argument is that we should treat everyone equally and everyone should be given equal OPPORTUNITY. There will always be those who have more than others, but that shouldn’t be a matter of what country you were born in or who your father was.

              I am talking about the value of human life.

              • You’re confusing equal outcome with equal opportunity.

              • I think you are. All humans do not have equal opportunity. There is, and should not be, forced equal outcome.

                I want equal opportunity.

              • That their governments don’t allow better opportunity is not the fault of america. They tolerate the government they have.

              • That’s an ignorant statement.

                People deal with the Government they have for many reasons.

                1. They do not know any better (ignorance)
                2. They are not empowered to take action because of lack of resources (food, money, infrastructure)
                3. They have bigger problems (eating)
                4. Lack of education and opportunity

                So to imply that people “allow” it to happen because they tolerate their government is a pretty big leap.

              • And me being sorry that I have it so good in comparison won’t change any of that.

                Dude, I’m not easily offended, but I hate people shitting on the American way of life and who want me to feel sorry for it. Too many men and women have died to give credence to that noise.

              • Your conclusion “therefore open the borders” doesn’t follow.

      • Your problem is you think American Exceptionalism makes a value judgment on human beings and it doesnt.

        • I think the brand of American patriotism and exceptionalism that many Americans share do place a value on humanity.

          It places the value of American life above that of non-American life.

          Do you disagree with that?

          • The American life is better than Afghan life, better than Libyan life, better than Venezuelan life. Take a trip there some time. If it weren’t better why are they clamoring to get here?

            • Of course it’s better. What are you even talking about?

            • Richard Nash says:

              John, doesn’t the book of Luke in particular expound at length on what Jesus thought about poverty? How does your life rank next to those examples? I am not sure that the jesus in that book would think that everyone everywhere, including here in America has an equal opportunity. I think that’s the bullshit cognitive dissonance talking. That’s the lie conservatives tell themselves to continue their life of delusion. And curious that you brought up military personnel as a way to justify such selfish ideals, the country was not militarily founded. But the military was used, in this country founded on christian “principles,” the military was used for 140 years to exterminate all of those red devils who should have understood that their government didn’t have their best interests at heart. Those are the shirt tails your riding on.

      • Btw, everyone does everything for greed. What do you do for a living? Consider that you could live more modestly. The fact that you work a job that enables you to have a computer, phone, Internet access, etc. shows your greed. You could live in a tent and exchange food and clothes for piecemeal work but you dont. You greedily want your luxuries.

        Greed drives technology and advanced medical breakthroughs. Look at the non capitalist countries and see what they contribute to the world as a whole.

        • I disagree. It’s not because of greed. It is because I enjoy the conveniences (or whatever benefit such possessions provide me).

          And I’m not railing against capitalism – lets not lose focus. I love capitalism – I think capitalism drives out poverty and increases everyone’s station in life.

          My beef is equality and human value. Under capitalism all human beings are given a fair chance. That is no what we have today.

          I think you have no footing in your arguments so far.

          • You’ve described greed. Wanting something more than what you have and more than you need. With all your possessions, how can you make this argument at all?

            • That is not what greed is.

              Greed: Greed is the inordinate desire to possess wealth, goods, or objects of abstract value with the intention to keep it for one’s self, far beyond the dictates of basic survival and comfort.

              I do agree that everyone is selfish to a point, but we all are not greedy.

              • Where do you get the idea that because people love America and the American way of life it means they think others are worth less. That’s a jump that isn’t proven.

              • Really?

                I think its proven everyday when we argue that Mexicans shouldn’t come to this country to “steal our jobs”.

                I also think its proven when we are okay with drone attacks as long as it is not used on American Citizens.

                Or when we are okay with mass surveillance as long as its not on American citizen.

                The list goes on.

                There are many people who value the lives of Americans over that of a life from another country. We should strive to value all lives equally. We can love and protect our country, but need to recognize the value of humanity as a whole.

              • Dude. The argument isn’t that they shouldn’t come here, it’s that they shouldn’t come here illegally.

                We use drones on terrorists plotting and carrying out terrorism on americans.

                It’s ideas and arguments like you’ve expressed that are touted by communists.

              • Not true!!!! You are spouting propaganda!!!

                Communism is a belief that a central government should manage all resources and divide them equally. I believe no such thing. NOT EVEN CLOSE!

                I believe that all people deserve equal opportunity – a basic human right. What they do with that opportunity is up to them.

                “Dude. The argument isn’t that they shouldn’t come here, it’s that they shouldn’t come here illegally.”

                That is my point! We should make it ridiculously easy to come here LEGALLY! It shouldn’t be expensive or difficult. We should allow anyone over and give them a chance at life. If they screw up – they can be deported.

                “We use drones on terrorists plotting and carrying out terrorism on americans.”

                Really? There are numerous reports of drones strikes that kill civilians. Drones are also used to guard pipelines. I won’t go down the drone path, but there are a lot of problems with the program – morally and otherwise.

  2. Well, I am not sure if you realize this, but our border is open. If it wasn’t we would still be a colony in VA. As you can see the numbers game makes it untenable financially to continue the way we have. This in spite of the trillions in dollars and hours given outside of direct governmental spending. I think that if we could all live in a Star Trek like set of circumstances we would, but the human condition prevents it. This is not about the value of life of one over another. It’s about the need to perpetually improve your lot in life. That slave labor in China could go without a job if they like. That would lower their lot. Th caste/consumer system is arbitrary and is constantly changing. Take for example the number of first world countries on the planet. 50 years ago it was 12. 100 years ago it was 3. Now it’s almost 60. Lifespan has more than doubled for an ever increasing number of people in spite of the global population increasing by an order of 24 in the last 2k years.

    If we entertain that Mexico is our responsibility because we share a border, who is to say that the border is not just an arbitrary metric? Why not the planet or the galaxy? We take care of more people as a government, within our own borders and outside both privately and as state sanctioned policy that the next 20 countries combined. To the point of it being mathematically impossible. Where does it end?

    Some of us refuse to buy things that come from China or anywhere in which the quality of life for the work force is compromised. Some refuse to shop at Walmart etc. Some of us refuse to invest in stocks, mutual funds etc in which companies act immorally.

    But most just don’t care where there plastic shit comes from. That’s what your up against. Apathetic, self centered consumerism is incurable.

    Patriotism is at it’s worst when the populace is blindly allegiant to ideals that they do not necessarily understand. Their motivations can often times be distilled for the simpletons who make up such majorities. Yes it’s dangerous…..but it’s easy.

    Our exceptionalism is at it’s best when we lead by example. And unfortunately it has not been the case for some time.

  3. Someone has been reading Oscar Wilde, I see…

    1. Why do we find it morally acceptable to border a 3rd world country where people live in unacceptable conditions and at the same time refuse them entry into America to find a better life – to escape poverty, oppression, and corruption? Do they not deserve the same advantages we were granted by birth? Why not have an open border? Are their lives less valuable than ours?

    We can’t afford to open our borders up to the world. Not only would it drive us deeper into debt, but America would lose its identity and open itself up to an untold number of national security threats.

    Lastly, I can’t help noticing the subtle tones of racism your position carries. Do you believe Mexicans are too stupid to launch a revolution, set up good government, and build infrastructure? Are only Americans capable of this, Atticus?

    2. Why are we okay with buying iPhones and the latest gadgets when we are well aware that they were made with slave-like labor. How can we claim moral superiority when we merely turn a blind eye (and perpetuate with our purchases) to the moral atrocities that occur across the world?

    It’s called Free Trade. It manages to keep prices affordable. Get rid of it and see how you like the economy. As far as what other countries do, that’s up to them. Again, are these people too stupid to change things themselves? Do they really need arrogant Americans to ride in and save the day?

    And way to quote a brutal communist! No questioning your patriotism!

  4. paynehollow says:

    Some thoughts, for what they’re worth (not much, on the stock market…) Atticus…

    Why do we find it morally acceptable to border a 3rd world country where people live in unacceptable conditions and at the same time refuse them entry into America to find a better life – to escape poverty, oppression, and corruption? Do they not deserve the same advantages we were granted by birth? Why not have an open border? Are their lives less valuable than ours?

    1. I, for one, don’t think that most of us think that people from other countries’ lives are worth less than ours. Of course there are bigots and idiots, but I think most of us love our neighbors and want the best for them.

    2. At the same time, I think most people’s lives are on autopilot and it’s easy not to think about the ramifications of how we live or if our life choices impact other people in other nations.

    3. I think that people of good will – religious and otherwise – will recognize that there is some deep fundamental truth to the notion that we ARE, at least in some measure, our brothers/sisters’ keepers. We ARE tied to one another by a common humanity.

    4. The difficult question is HOW do we best help, for instance (and just to keep it from being too vague and large), the very poor in Mexico?

    5. Certainly, I think there is good reason to think that criminalizing the act of coming to a country looking for work is a morally bad idea on the face of it. How is it rational to say, “I know you’re starving and have NO opportunity at home to stop starving and save your family, but legally, we will block you from coming to our nation…” and call that a morally valid option?

    6. Also, for those who love the Bible, there are plenty of verses telling us to welcome the foreigner, to treat them like native-born peoples, as well as those who are poor (which in Mexico’s case is often true on both counts).

    7. So, speaking for myself, I would support the idea of decriminalizing immigration.

    8. HOWEVER (and it’s a big “however”), I don’t think that will solve the problem. If everyone came here who wanted to come here, I suspect that we’d have a much worse unemployment problem than we do now. Now, to be sure, that is a reasoning based in fear, not in compassion or morality, but there it is just the same.

    9. I think the answer needs to come (as some have at least hinted at) in helping other nations improve their own lot, ultimately. We can’t hire the whole starving world in our economy, so as moral humans, it would behoove us to work on figuring out steps to raising the sea level for everyone everywhere, not just invite people here.

    That is a rather rudimentary and obvious conclusion and of course, the problem is, “HOW do we do this miracle?” For all its problems, I think part of the solution is in encouraging healthy capitalistic economies – here and abroad.

    However, I don’t think the answer lies in, “We got ours, they got to figure it out for themselves…” Not for humans interested in moral solutions.

    Just as my starting point…

    ~Dan

  5. paynehollow says:

    John…

    That their governments don’t allow better opportunity is not the fault of america.

    I might point out that, at least in those cases where we helped prop up a regime or gov’t, it IS at least partially our fault. The Somozas in Nicaragua, Pinochet in Chile, Noriega in Panama, Hernandez in El Salvador… Saddam Hussein in Iraq… etc… We have involved ourselves in other people’s nations, undermining the will of the people and propping up thugs and dictators when it was convenient for us to “protect national interests…” (which often meant protecting our businesses that were operating there).

    I had/have friends and acquaintances in Nicaragua. I went their once for a trip and visited a village that was largely destroyed by US-backed Contra terrorists. An elderly lady there looked at me as an American and said, “Why? Why did you do this to us? On whose authority did you let this Reagan come in and take away our schools, our health care, our lives?” That was a tough conversation with no good answers.

    Am I saying that Nicaragua’s chosen Sandinista gov’t was perfect? Absolutely not, but it was the democratically elected gov’t and at least some people there believed things were going well – their children were in schools and there was high literacy, they had health care… all of this was taken away/undermined by US support for the Contras.

    At least in some cases, I think there is an awful lot of fault to lay at our feet.

    And don’t misunderstand: I love our nation. But because I love it, I will stand opposed when our leaders act in ways that undermine the will of other people.

    But that’s sort of an aside, just a history refresher…

    ~Dan

  6. Dan,

    It’s not the fault of America that these people continue to put up with corrupt government – unless our military is still in the business of actively quelling revolutions.

    And Atticus’ attempt to justify inaction is ridiculous.

    1. They do not know any better (ignorance)

    So Mexicans are either too stupid to know it or the government isn’t so corrupt as to be noticeably so. Ridiculous.

    2. They are not empowered to take action because of lack of resources (food, money, infrastructure)

    People always find a way. The Americans, the French, the Cubans, the Jews, the Egyptians, et cetera…

    3. They have bigger problems (eating)

    So Mexicans eat so much they haven’t the time to think about other shit? Seriously, people can accomplish more than one thing at a time and ya know it.

    4,. Lack of education and opportunity

    How much education do you need to stand up and say, “No more!”

    People allow corrupt government to exist. “Power is in the hands of the powerless” is an oft-used expression and its true.

    • Terrance, John,

      Do either one of you feel that if we could go back and do anything differently, that maybe we should? Maybe slavery, the subjugation of women, child labor, countless military incursions on the part of America/American big business interests? Have you ever been to any of the ports in Nigeria? American big oil has destroyed Lagos for centuries to come.

      The US has (on the books) military installations in 150 of 192 countries, we spend half a trillion dollars+ annually on this military. The US spends enough on their military to match the next 62 countries combined. We fly drones anywhere want and drop bombs on anyone we want without seeking or needing authority……….if any one of these things was being done by any other country you would be calling for change, for your government to do something. You would boycott their goods, not travel their etc. Taken all together this military/economic imperialism is always painted as either patriotism or flat out ignored by many Americans……why?

      Why not call it for what it is and change it?

      Can you tell us honestly that if Mexico was waging a cartel war in the US with drones and regular military incursions, that you would sit idly by with your blasé attitudes? Why is it that when America acts in countless aggressive, manipulative and subversive ways you find a way to justify all of it, yet if the tables were ever turned you would have something to say about it?

      “How much education do you need to stand up and say, “No more!”

      People allow corrupt government to exist. “Power is in the hands of the powerless” is an oft-used expression and its true.”

      I mean I could tell you to “overthrow” your government since you hold such disdain. Why not change it if that’s so easy? Show us what it looks like to do more than say “No More”.

    • @TerranceH

      1. Ignorance means their ignorance as to what to do. Or ignorance to the fact that there may or may not be a better way. How to organize, or how to organize a rebellion, or just how to solve their economic woes. Ignorance does not imply stupidity.

      2. People always find a way? Wrong. Sometimes they are conquered. The Mayans, the native Americans, etc. etc. Sometimes the oppressed lose – the do not always find a way.

      3. I meant they have bigger problems to worry about. Like they are starving so finding food is a bigger problem than revolting against their government or finding an education.

      4. Enough of an education to know how to organize. To realize there is a better way. And to make a better way forward.

      I’m very disheartened by your overall responses.

  7. paynehollow says:

    Re: They have bigger problems (eating) I think the point is that if you are spending all your time trying to scrape up enough food to keep your family from starving to death, you don’t have time to overthrow a gov’t.

    And people DID push back against American interventionism – in Nicaragua, for instance, they took us to the World Court and charged us with war crimes and they won. The US was charged with war crimes and ordered to pay, I think (going by memory), $17 billion in reparations.

    The US (Reagan) response? They ignored the ruling.

    Nicaragua is a small poor nation. Its citizens are amongst some of the poorest in the western hemisphere. Nonetheless, they took on the powerful and wealthy US and won. What good did it do them? Their democracy was still undermined by the US and their voice was largely stifled.

    Terrance, I have sat with these people at their tables and shared meals with them. I have friends who have lived in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico for years (or who grew up there). The reality is, if you are scrapping to keep your family alive, you just don’t have time or energy to fight political battles. It is presumptuous of us to blame the victims for their supposed “lack of initiative.” How many starving people scraping to get by have you sat and talked with in some of these nations?

    I would just ask for a bit or rational compassion. Until you have walked a mile in someone’s shoes… and all that.

    ~Dan

    • @paynehollow

      I have travelled around central America (Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala) and Mexico extensively. We should swap stories. I’ve written about it a lot in my blog. The experience is very enlightening and I think it may be difficult for some people to imagine what those people are going through if you haven’t witnessed it for yourself.

  8. paynehollow says:

    I have not traveled much at all – just the one trip for 10 days – but it was an eye opener.

    But I have friends who have traveled extensively throughout Latin America and a few who have lived there or came from there. There are some terrible stories out there, and a good number of the people who have lived there really hate our nation’s leaders (not the US or her people, but the leaders who’ve allowed or caused the pain they saw and/or experienced firsthand). And hearing the stories, it’s hard to blame them.

    That poor lady in El Regadio, Nicaragua and her question to me – that’s not a story or question or look I’ll ever forget. I promised myself that day to do what I could to make reparations to that lady for what has been wrongly done in my/our name.

    ~Dan

  9. Nash,

    There are countless American policies both now and in the past, both foreign and domestic, that I wish were changed. Slavery, the subjugation of women, child labor, rank discrimination of certain people and classes, abortion, and the predatory practices of big business are all policies that America got/has wrong.

    My love for this country, however, is not based on a list of good and bad policies. My love for this country is grounded in the idea of America, and like all ideas it requires revision from time to time. We’ve gotten a lot of things wrong, but we’ve also gotten a lot of things right. We have more work to do – and always will. America is incomplete and will remain that way as new situations and circumstances present themselves. We won’t get them all right, but because of the way this country operates, we have the mechanism to change what is wrong and ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

    But I agree there is more work to be done. I oppose, as you know, corporate pimps and their political whores. That’s something that needs to be changed. I don’t support big business setting up Banana Republics and exploiting the people, but I’m also a believer in self-determination. The Cubans stood up to American special interests and overthrew Batista. It’s too bad, obviously, that he was replaced with another despot – but that’s the way it goes. They’ll have to stand up again.

    And it’s not easy to overthrow a regime. Nobody said it was. Not to be cliché but nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

    But just because I feel America should do things better doesn’t mean I should feel bad for loving my country and, if you don’t mind my saying so, that seemed to be the point of the post. We should feel bad because other people don’t have it as good. I’m sorry but I’m not going to.

    • “But just because I feel America should do things better doesn’t mean I should feel bad for loving my country and, if you don’t mind my saying so, that seemed to be the point of the post. We should feel bad because other people don’t have it as good. I’m sorry but I’m not going to.”

      Then you completely missed the point of this post.

  10. paynehollow says:

    Atticus…

    People always find a way? Wrong. Sometimes they are conquered.

    Excellent point. People are vanquished all the time – even when they are the “good” ones or innocent bystanders being oppressed by the “bad” ones. Indeed, in our Bible, we see the Hebrew people calling out for generations for salvation, for an end to the oppression and domination, for God to strike down the enemy. It simply doesn’t always happen. And to blame the poor Mexicans, Guatemalans, Hebrews, native Americans… whoever, for “lacking the initiative” or “failing to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps…” that is just blaming the victims. How is that rational or moral? How is that biblical (for our friends who believe the Bible to be a book of Truth to be followed)?

    ~Dan

  11. paynehollow says:

    Terrance…

    I feel America should do things better doesn’t mean I should feel bad for loving my country and, if you don’t mind my saying so, that seemed to be the point of the post.

    I didn’t hear Atticus suggesting we should “feel bad…” Myself, I don’t give a flip about someone “feeling bad…” I think Atticus clearly said there was a good type of patriotism – that support and love of your “team” in a positive way, recognizing her weaknesses and strengths and not being convinced that all other teams are “bad…” just another team with its own supporters and strengths and weaknesses. We should love our nation and our fellow citizens and what is good about us, collectively.

    But we shouldn’t do that blindly, and we should recognize our weaknesses and work to change them – just as you’re saying. That’s what I heard Atticus say and that’s what makes sense to me.

    ~Dan

  12. 1. Ignorance means their ignorance as to what to do. Or ignorance to the fact that there may or may not be a better way. How to organize, or how to organize a rebellion, or just how to solve their economic woes. Ignorance does not imply stupidity.

    This is just an excuse for inaction. People in many nations have successfully launched revolutions despite the overwhelming odds against them. The American Revolution was originally a boondoggle. It was a rag-tag army that had no idea how to fight. But they learned. They got some outside help.

    2. People always find a way? Wrong. Sometimes they are conquered. The Mayans, the native Americans, etc. etc. Sometimes the oppressed lose – the do not always find a way.

    Then they try again. And again. Eventually, they’ll find a way if its truly worth doing.

    3. I meant they have bigger problems to worry about. Like they are starving so finding food is a bigger problem than revolting against their government or finding an education.

    Just another excuse.

    4. Enough of an education to know how to organize. To realize there is a better way. And to make a better way forward.

    If people know not of a better way then how legitimate is your argument? We may know there is a better way and according to our standards certain regimes may be brutal and despotic, but that is according to us and our standards. You are being no less arrogant in believing that we have a responsibility to step-up and save people from a problem of which they are unaware.

    I’m very disheartened by your overall responses.

    I’m disheartened by this post.

  13. Then you completely missed the point of this post.

    No. You just don’t express yourself clearly.

    You said,

    The bad kind of patriotism, the kind often present in America, has taken on a particular and perhaps dangerous form of psychological elitism. It is highlighted by a subtle, yet ever present belief that we are entitled to more because were born in a rich country rather than a poor one. It is a feeling that because we were born here that the advantages of said birth are ours alone – and to be protected. Let me provide two examples I would like to hear about in the comments.

    Dan,

    You’re only talking out of both sides of your mouth. You said previously that you didn’t think most Americans thought that way, so you obviously saw something in the post that made you think the author was implying something that is self-evidently asinine and untrue.

    • Yes. If you feel like you are entitled to more because you were born in American then you are wrong. We are all human beings and we all deserve the same decent treatment and equal opportunity. All of us. Every human in every country.

      I never said you should feel guilty though. Rather you should recognize that we are all human beings and hopefully work to make the world a better place for everyone. Not just better for Americans.

  14. Seriously, I should feel bad for buying my son an iPad? I should feel bad that I live in a country that has given me the means to do such things, even while knowing other people aren’t as fortunate?

    That’s bullshit and that’s precisely what the post seemed to suggest. You asked yourself, Atticus, why we buy gadgets, knowing yadda, yadda. That implies negativity. Like I should feel bad because I live in America and am able to do things like that.

  15. Atticus,

    If it’s one thing I’m not going to do is sit here and listen to you suggest for a minute that I don’t care about people. I’ve been the only conservative on this blog arguing with my own people about healthcare being a right rather than a privilege. The only conservative on this blog in months that has complained about the hypocrisy of berating those who collect individual welfare while remaining blissfully silent on the issue of corporate welfare. Where were you?

    So you can save your sanctimonious speeches for someone else.

    My point is that I’m not going to feel bad for loving my country, buying gadgets, locking down our borders, or enjoying the American way of life. If you want to feel bad then more power to ya.

  16. And then that bullshit about quoting a communist. What the hell was that about? That sonuvabitch Putin stands against every damn thing you’re advocating. He was a communist and he’s a dictator. People are arrested in Russia for badmouthing him, for crying out loud, and you’re quoting him like he’s some f*cking man of the people. Get real.

  17. paynehollow says:

    Terrance…

    You said previously that you didn’t think most Americans thought that way

    Yes, that is on the one hand. On the other hand, as I noted, we too often live our lives oblivious to the concerns and needs of those around us and our potential part we may be playing in that.

    I mean, Atticus’ point about how we gladly buy products built by slave or near-slave labor, by abusive child labor conditions, etc… that should gall us all, but I suspect that we all prefer to just not think about it and hope it goes away.

    If there was a maquiladora or sweat shop down the street and we saw the 10 to 14-year old kids from the poorest section of town getting on a bus at 4am to travel an hour or two to the sweat shop in the next town over, skipping school to work twelve hours to earn enough to not starve… I think we citizens would complain and stop that sort of behavior and stop it TOMORROW.

    But if it was (and it is) happening in the next nation over, well, we just don’t worry about it, as long as we can get our products for as cheap as possible from the walmarts.

    While I think a regulated capitalism is probably our best bet when it comes to an economic system, it has built in problems and one of those problems is that it encourages a “race to the bottom…” whatever the costs. If a widget costs $100 to build – paying a living wage and getting rid of wastes responsibly – but “the market” doesn’t like the $100 price tag, well, we can reduce the price to $75 if we move production over to Mexico, where the competition for jobs is stiffer. And we can bring it down to $50 if we take advantage of Mexico’s looser environmental rules and just dump waste into their waterways… But then another company finds that building widgets in India can bring the cost for widgets to $30.

    The race to a bottom is sort of built in to capitalism and responsible citizens should try to take steps to remediate this problem. Seems to me.

    ~Dan

  18. Yes, that is on the one hand. On the other hand, as I noted, we too often live our lives oblivious to the concerns and needs of those around us and our potential part we may be playing in that.

    Now you’re arguing against apathy. That’s a completely different argument than saying we should feel bad for having things so good when other people have them so bad, according to our standards. Or, that we should feel bad for viewing America as exceptional. I’m sorry but the idea of America is exceptional.

    I mean, Atticus’ point about how we gladly buy products built by slave or near-slave labor, by abusive child labor conditions, etc… that should gall us all, but I suspect that we all prefer to just not think about it and hope it goes away.

    This again implies negativity. That we should feel bad about this. I’m sorry but I don’t feel bad that I’m able to afford an iPad for my son. It’s Free Trade. It’s not my responsibility to march into these far-off lands and start a revolution. I take care of the problems in my own country. I protest. I march. I vote. I write. I do what I can to better the lives of Americans. Let some Chinamen or Mexican do so for his country and I will give him whatever support I can, but I will not fundamentally alter my way of life. I’m not going to deny my children a necessary learning tool because it’s produced in a country with less than ideal working conditions. That, I’m sorry to say, is not my problem, nor should it be.

    I can remember liberals bitching about us going into Iraq, a sovereign nation that never attacked or threatened us. Well, so much for national sovereignty, ‘eh? Clearly America can’t take in every single person living under a despotic regime, so obviously the logical conclusion to Atticus’ argument is for America to go into those countries and fundamentally change them – and make them more like us. Talk about hypocrisy and arrogance.

    Whatever. I see the B.A.F Party is back in business.

  19. paynehollow says:

    Again, I don’t care that anyone “feels” bad. I don’t care what emotions you might or might not have. I’m saying that reasonable people should be concerned and act appropriately – as a matter of justice and morality – if the clothes I wear or products I buy are so cheap only because people were underpaid, or slave laborers, or their environment was damaged.

    As a matter of justice, I don’t WANT to buy an iPad for $400 (or whatever they cost) IF that cost is artificially low. I guess that’s what I’m saying.

    I don’t want anyone to “feel bad,” (myself included). I want us (and myself) to pay attention. For those of us who value morality – we should keep in mind the golden rule to do unto others as we’d have them do unto us.

    If we don’t want our children to eke by on a subsistence life – having to quit school at ten to go to work to keep from starving – then we shouldn’t want to see that happen to anyone else’s children, either.

    Where is that notion morally amiss?

    Or look at it this way: If I’m walking down the street and a sketchy looking guy walks up, pulls up his sleeve and shows me five likely stolen watches and says, “Hey pal, you want to buy a nice watch at half the cost…?” I don’t want to buy it and then feel bad for purchasing a stolen watch. I certainly don’t want people to buy it and NOT feel bad for buying a stolen watch. What I want is to encourage us NOT to buy the artificially cheap product in the first place.

    Given that analogy, is that not a morally reasonable position to stake out?

    ~Dan

  20. So I’m to blame for all the horrible working conditions because I bought an iPad? A pair of jeans? Seriously, you do the same damn thing and ya know it! We shouldn’t feel bad because it’s not our responsibility to change it. We can be mindful and argue against it, but fundamentally altering our way of life is something that most people, yourself and Atticus included, are not going to do – and ya know it. You won’t stop buying Chinese products. You might try it for awhile until you realize how expensive it is to buy strictly American Made.

    So if you guys aren’t going to practice what you preach – and John showed that Atticus ISN’T going to – then shut up. Seriously. Put up or shut up.

  21. I’d like to save the world. Honestly, I would. And as a younger man, I thought I could! But when you get older you realize that you can’t. You can do small things that make individual lives better, but you can’t fix the world. And, I’m sorry, but I don’t think foregoing the American way of life or berating Americans for enjoying the fruits of free trade is gonna turn the trick or make anyone’s life better.

    If anything, it makes our lives harder. I can’t afford to buy strictly American Made products. I’m not going to deprive my son of his iPad, which is a learning tool he uses to better understand the curriculum at school. I’m not doing it. I can’t afford to do it.

    I wish kids were loved and treated like precious gifts the world over. I wish men and women the world over could know each night that their family is provided for, and not have to worry about finding tomorrow’s dinner. I wish these things. But are any of these things not happening because of America and our way of life? No!

  22. paynehollow says:

    We certainly all have our part in this, myself included. It’s a huge and difficult problem to address. But that is not an argument against trying to make change. And certainly for people of faith and people in general who are concerned about morality, we have an obligation to not act in ways that contribute to problems.

    Terrance, do you think that the fundamental teaching, “We are our brothers/sisters’ keepers… we are obligated to strive to help our neighbor and our neighbor is pretty much everyone…” is true?

    As to our inconsistencies, there are many of us who deliberately strive to buy locally and sustainably. I don’t do it in every instance (computers probably being one of those), but when it comes to food, to clothes, to a good part of my regular expenses, we do. We at least make the effort to avoid sources we KNOW/have heard reports that the source has a problematic workers or environmental or human rights record.

    Let me address one thing you said, Terrance, and see if you can think it through with me. You said you won’t “deprive your son of his iPad…” I return back to my stolen watch example. IF the only way to provide your son with an iPad that you could afford was to buy a stolen one, would you do that?

    I’m pretty sure you have your limits, too, right?

    Would you buy it from a company that was found to have abused children? That dumped toxins into your city’s streams?

    Speaking for people like me, we try to have limits as to what companies we will support and what practices we won’t support with our dollars. And if my son can’t get an iPad, it isn’t a deprivation, it’s a teaching moment.

    ~Dan

  23. paynehollow says:

    Just to reiterate/summarize:

    1. I don’t care or want people to “feel guilty” for being rich. Guilt is mostly a useless emotion that most of us assuage in ways that aren’t helpful, too often.

    2. I want us to be citizen/shoppers who make moral decisions about what we buy and how we live, not just assume that we can live however we want, consequences be damned. I want us to live like moral adults who act responsibly, not childishly when it comes to lifestyle choices. This should be a message that conservative types embrace, and I expect most people here would agree with at least the sentiment.

    3. When it comes to specifics, I’m sure there will be times that reasonable people of good faith will disagree about “is it responsible to shop from that source that uses sweatshop labor, OR if I withdraw support for that source, will the employees move from an option of awful sweatshop labor to NO job and starve to death…” We can disagree about specifics. What I’m mostly concerned about though, is the uninformed and thoughtless consumer who’s ONLY bottom line is “Is this cheapest FOR ME…?” I want to see people make informed, adult, moral decisions about what they buy.

    4. I would also hope that we could agree that prices CAN be artificially low (the stolen watch, if nothing else) and that “cheap pricing” should not be our deciding factor, but “Is it legitimate, is it moral, is it sustainable, is it fair to the producers…”

    ~Dan

  24. Dan,

    You really should abstain from talking about business. You obviously don’t know jack. “Artificially low prices”?? Says you. Of far greater concern are artificially high prices. That is, prices increased by artificial forces, namely government intervention in the market place, or union pressures, rather than supply and demand. The effects of these is fewer people able to afford goods and services, businesses cutting salaries or positions, businesses moving to more business friendly environs. At least with so-called “artificially low prices”, the victims of the aforementioned pressures can afford to purchase goods and services they need, but might not otherwise have available to them.

    • Marshall,

      Artificially low prices have been built into: gas, oil, all grains, rice, all meat, all milk, sugar, steel, and all energy production from the mining of coal to the scrubbers that removed sulphur dioxide in the stack.

      Do you know what mechanism is responsible for controlling those costs below actual cost? The industry’s lobbying groups, not the government intervening in free markets etc.

      Below is a list, not comprehensive by any means, that control your free market:

      Grocery manufacturers Asc.

      Pharm. Researchers and Manufacturers Asc. (1 million dollars a month spent lobbying)

      US Chamber of Comm They are one of 3 lobby groups that is responsible for artificially protecting milk and 1 of 3 that provides legal defense funds for industries reliant on illegal immigrant labor, like the entire meat industry. (4-12 mil a month)

      American Petroleum Ins. (2-4 mil a month)

      National Assn of Manufacturers -They lobby mostly for funds to pay for new equipment upgrades in existing factories…..at our expense.

      Alcoa -Every time you meet an American made product that is contained within aluminum, these guys have been subsidized in that cans production, from the mining of the bauxite to the cheaper rates they pay for energy at their smelting plants.

      American Iron & Steel Ins.

      Sugar and the 3 species of corn used for ethanol production are lobbied for by these sectors to keep prices artificially high because those same producers are getting other subsidies to cover operating costs….namely the cost of illegal labor and to pay for electricity. Here is a nice summation of the current sugar deal that has been in place for over 50 years-
      http://dailycaller.com/2012/06/25/sugar-lobby-sweetens-deal-for-house-republicans-protecting-subsidy/

      The current Ag bill is 542 billion dollars. That is is just the federal welfare to the Ag and ranching interests, it doesn’t include the almost limitless number of state subsidies and tax breaks. The ag, dairy, and ranching sectors receive as much as the energy and pharmaceutical industries annually in subsidies to control their costs, either up or down, which ever benefits them the most.

      Dairy Farmers of Murica
      National Milk Producers Assn.
      They keep keep dairy products low, especially milk with federal monetary support. The legislation written into the Ag bill is theirs, not the governments.

      International Dairy Foods Assn. Why is dairy so high, and controlled artificially low with cost controls? Because we export over 30% of our production!!!
      We are paying dairy ranchers to produce milk for export, this in turn drives up cost due to low supply. Artificially and purposeful low supply.

      I could go on for pages, but this should be enough to instigate pause when considering just how “unfree” our markets are. There is zero capitalism here. The list of industries and special interests I have listed are all things we come in contact with and utilize daily…..all propped up by your taxes.

      Think about it this way: The car you bought has American steel in it? You paid for that steel twice minimum. The sugar you buy at the store? It should be free, you have already paid for it.

  25. paynehollow says:

    It is a fact that IF someone steals a watch and offers to sell it to you for half price, that is an artificially low price.

    I’m sure you agree with the principle. There are things that can be done to create an artificially low price – a price for some product that is lower than should be possible.

    If I have a neighbor who is a widget farmer and his costs for farming widgets is $25 and he can sell them for $35 and compete with the other widget farmers fairly. But, if widget farming creates toxic waste that has to be disposed of – and that disposal adds $5 to his widget cost, he can stop safely disposing of the waste safely and instead, dump it in the stream behind my house. He then sells his widgets for $30, undercutting the competition and getting more business because his widgets are the “cheapest…” THAT is an artificially low price. His widgets aren’t cheaper, he’s just cheating and being irresponsible by poisoning his neighbor’s water.

    Artificially cheap products are part of the systemic problem with capitalism. It requires consumers be aware and regulations be in place and enforced – which is why a wholly unfettered capitalism is just as bad or worse than socialism – it is anarchy and destruction, IF we allowed such behavior.

    So yes, I say these examples I’ve given are exactly and demonstrably a deep moral problem with capitalism. I’ve demonstrated WHY it is a moral and rational problem. Other than saying, “says you…” and making ad hom attacks, do you really think this is not a problem, at least in principle? Why specifically?

    ~Dan

  26. Atticus,

    For question #1, we do not deny entry to immigrants. But we have a duty to our citizens to monitor and limit the amount of people we allow into the country so as not to overburden our system. We are not obliged to remove our border gates and allow free movement into and out of the country as it is suicide security-wise. People in 3rd world countries are deserving of what they can provide for themselves, just as we are.

    As far as those with a sense of entitlement in this country, there are two versions. One is those who work hard and provide for themselves a good life. They are entitled to the fruits of their labors, and legitimately so. The others are those who just think they are entitled just because. They feel certain of their rights to have without having any track record of producing.

    For question #2, I do not know which American companies use slave labor, or even slave-like labor. Those American companies that felt the need to move operations overseas in order to lower costs don’t necessarily oppress their workers. Or rather, I don’t that this is commonly the case at all. I just here people insist it is so. Such people, however, never consider or prove what life was like for employees of such companies before they were hired. While they may seem poorly paid to us, they might consider their situation a great stroke of luck. I won’t belabor the point as I am totally without the facts. I just won’t swallow every sob tale about evil American corporations that comes down the pike.

  27. Dan,

    But that is not an argument against trying to make change. And certainly for people of faith and people in general who are concerned about morality, we have an obligation to not act in ways that contribute to problems.

    If all you’re willing to give are half measures then you should shut up. Either put up or shut up. I don’t mean to be rude, but seriously, you describe nothing but half measures and then suggest I’m in the wrong for buying my son an iPad. You admit to purchasing computers undoubtedly made with slave labor. I don’t see the difference.

    Terrance, do you think that the fundamental teaching, “We are our brothers/sisters’ keepers… we are obligated to strive to help our neighbor and our neighbor is pretty much everyone…” is true?

    Sure, person to person. But it is not our (America) business to tell another sovereign nation how to treat their citizen workers. They are treated poorly according to OUR standards – and that, I think, is something you and Atticus don’t understand.

    As to our inconsistencies, there are many of us who deliberately strive to buy locally and sustainably. I don’t do it in every instance (computers probably being one of those), but when it comes to food, to clothes, to a good part of my regular expenses, we do. We at least make the effort to avoid sources we KNOW/have heard reports that the source has a problematic workers or environmental or human rights record.

    First of all, I refuse to purchase foreign-made foodstuffs. Heineken is the only such item I purchase that is foreign-made.

    Most of my clothes are foreign-made because I can’t afford to spend outrageously on a pair of jeans. And I try to avoid certain places that are frequently flagged as unsympathetic to the plight of their employees, either direct or indirect. Wal-Mart is such a place. I prefer to shop, instead, at Meijer, a strictly Midwest equivalent of Wal-Mart.

    Let me address one thing you said, Terrance, and see if you can think it through with me. You said you won’t “deprive your son of his iPad…” I return back to my stolen watch example. IF the only way to provide your son with an iPad that you could afford was to buy a stolen one, would you do that?

    Seriously, what sort of thief would go about telling people that the item you’re about to buy is hot? Regardless, it would depend on who from it was stolen. If it was stolen from Wal-Mart or Best Buy or some other major corporation that can afford a loss, and merely writes it off on their taxes, then absolutely I’d buy it. I wouldn’t hesitate. My son’s educational needs are far more important to me than Wal-Mart’s bottom line.

    I wouldn’t purchase it if I knew it were stolen from an individual, but a major corporation? You bet – without hesitation. Relativistic? Probably.

    I’m pretty sure you have your limits, too, right?

    I have few limits when trying to provide for my family. I became a father young and there were times we couldn’t afford diapers. Well, I got them, suffice it to say. It was 7-years-ago now and I’ve had plenty of time to reflect and I don’t feel bad that my children’s needs were met. I admitted my sin and I believe I’ve been forgiven and I don’t do it anymore.

    Would you buy it from a company that was found to have abused children? That dumped toxins into your city’s streams?

    No, I wouldn’t.

    Speaking for people like me, we try to have limits as to what companies we will support and what practices we won’t support with our dollars. And if my son can’t get an iPad, it isn’t a deprivation, it’s a teaching moment.

    So I would imagine that you also throw away your home computer during this teaching lesson, right?

    1. I don’t care or want people to “feel guilty” for being rich. Guilt is mostly a useless emotion that most of us assuage in ways that aren’t helpful, too often.

    I believe guilt is a good thing – when you’re guilty. If you’ve wronged someone then you should feel bad about it so that you know not to do it again. If you have no feeling, no remorse, then what is to stop you from doing it again?

    2. I want us to be citizen/shoppers who make moral decisions about what we buy and how we live, not just assume that we can live however we want, consequences be damned. I want us to live like moral adults who act responsibly, not childishly when it comes to lifestyle choices. This should be a message that conservative types embrace, and I expect most people here would agree with at least the sentiment.

    The sentiment is well and good, but I don’t like what it implies. The fact of the matter is that unless you are willing to forego all foreign-made products then you are only giving half measures. And that, I argue, is worse than those who give nothing at all, because at least they aren’t pretending.

    3. When it comes to specifics, I’m sure there will be times that reasonable people of good faith will disagree about “is it responsible to shop from that source that uses sweatshop labor, OR if I withdraw support for that source, will the employees move from an option of awful sweatshop labor to NO job and starve to death…” We can disagree about specifics. What I’m mostly concerned about though, is the uninformed and thoughtless consumer who’s ONLY bottom line is “Is this cheapest FOR ME…?” I want to see people make informed, adult, moral decisions about what they buy.

    Look, I am deeply sorry that citizen workers in other nations are treated poorly. I wish it weren’t that way – but it is that way and I have to focus on me and my family, as well. I’ll do what I can for those people, but at the end of the day I am forced to admit that they aren’t going to pay my light bill, my rent, my children’s school tuition. I have to purchase cheaply as much as it pains me to do so.

    We are better off than the aforementioned workers, but we’re still being jerked around in this country. Why blame regular folks for doing what they can to get by? Why not write your Congressman and Senator and demand they do something about American businesses that purchase goods from these sweatshops? Why rest the blame on regular folks trying to support their family and make ends meet?

    Ya know, if I’m going to allow some ideological point of view to hinder my ability to support my family then what kind of person am I? If my family doesn’t have what they need because I’m more interested in playing Gandhi then I’ve lost the moral high ground already.

    The fault does not lie with regular folks trying to get buy, patriotic or not. You and Atticus are blaming the players when you should be blaming the referees. I’m playing by the rules they set.

    4. I would also hope that we could agree that prices CAN be artificially low (the stolen watch, if nothing else) and that “cheap pricing” should not be our deciding factor, but “Is it legitimate, is it moral, is it sustainable, is it fair to the producers…”

    Many people’s finances do not allow them to make purchases on moral grounds.

  28. paynehollow says:

    Terrance…

    If all you’re willing to give are half measures then you should shut up.

    Half measures? With very few exceptions, I do not knowingly purchase anything from a company that I think has unjust labor or environmental practices. That is not “half.” That is 100%. Now, do I research each and every purchase I make every day? No, I don’t. But if I’m aware of unjust practices, I deliberately avoid that company. Or at least try to. Now, one notable exception is my energy, which comes from coal powered plants which gets coal from companies with less-than-stellar practices, by my measure. But, in that case, I have one place to purchase energy from… what to do?

    Well, I am striving to move to a place where I can build a sustainable house that is off-the-grid or close to it, so I am not purchasing energy from that source. But that takes time. I’m moving towards that goal as best I can. An economy – personal and societal – is a complex thing and it can be difficult to make adjustments. I think the point is striving towards the ideal as best you can, rather than throwing your hands up and saying, “Well, I can’t live perfectly, so why worry about how I behave at all…”

    Nonetheless, I will certainly admit that it’s not a perfect approach and that perhaps I do send money sometimes – unwittingly – to corporations with practices I don’t approve of. But are you suggesting striving to live towards an ideal – even if one doesn’t make it perfectly – is WORSE than not trying to live right at all?

    I don’t think that’s a reasonable position to take. I rather doubt that anyone here would agree with that, at least I’d hope not.

    As to your comments about “blaming” poor people who can’t “afford” to worry about where they purchase stuff from. If you look at my words, I have not blamed poor folk. In fact, just the opposite: I stated quite clearly that one of the problems with unjust practices in other locations is that if poor folk are struggling simply to find their next meal, they have little no energy or wherewithal to organize to change things. I’m specifically NOT blaming poor folk (whereas, you seem to want to blame them for their own inability to change unjust situations – at the same time you don’t want people blaming you for your moral inconsistencies.

    The Bible teaches, to those whom have been given much, much will be expected. I tend to think that is a rational position to take, sort of on a sliding scale – the more one has, the more one should be expected to act justly and with compassion. While firmly middle class (or lower middle class) I am in a position to strive to avoid companies that have unjust practices and so, where I can, I strive to do so. That seems reasonable to me.

    Do you disagree?

    ~Dan

  29. paynehollow says:

    Again, about the blaming thing…

    This is one of the things I like about the progressive mindset, in general (although there are certainly exceptions – many of them!): We tend not to be focused on blame and guilt*, but on solutions and support. For instance, I no longer drive a car on a regular basis, choosing to walk, instead.

    The reason I changed my position on this (well, in addition to much reading on the topic in general) was largely due to one fella – a guy who bikes everywhere he goes and advocates away from the personal car. The thing is, he didn’t go around trying to lay a guilt trip on me, trying to “blame” me for the many deaths and much destruction caused by this modern convenience. Instead, he simply laid out the case… HERE are the benefits to walking, biking, etc… HERE are the detriments caused by so many cars on the road… like that. If I told him, “I’m going to try to bike to work for a week…” he didn’t degrade me for not doing enough, he encouraged me, said “Have a great week!”

    Blame and guilt-trips are not the way to make change, raising awareness is, providing moral support is, having a good time while you’re doing it, is. Do I still drive occasionally? Sure, for long trips, or if I need to give someone else a ride (my elderly parents to the doctor, for instance), but I have cut my dependence on that practice way down, not out of guilt or because someone blamed me, but because it is the right thing to do (in my estimation) and I do it where I can. I do not make that judgment for others, nor do I blame others for the choices they make. I just try to make my case without pointing fingers, without trying to “guilt” people into their decisions. I think that’s the way to go about fostering change.
    ====
    *by “guilt,” I’m distinguishing between the soul-crushing self-disgust feelings as opposed to legitimate sorrow and regret. When I regret something or have sorrow for something, I want to see change or repentance – positive steps in the right direction.

    By “guilt,” I mean that self-loathing feeling that just makes you feel bad but doesn’t foster change, just an internalization of bad feelings.

    Just to define how I’m using that term.

    ~Dan

  30. Gentlemen,

    The difference in the attitudes expressed here is a basic conservative/liberal split. We all would love for everyone to have some sort of equally satisfactory life. Or at least a certain level of comfort.

    The difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals believe that it’s an achievable state. Conservatives don’t believe it is.

    It doesn’t matter that one country is not like another. Within each country, there are rich and poor. Some are worse than others at providing an environment where poor can become rich. But look at our country. We’ve tried to set up an opportunity-rich society. Don’t we hear about people who come from nothing and become extremely wealthy? And yes, some are born rich and lose it all.

    This is apparently unacceptable to liberals. And it’s not that conservatives like that people are poor. Only that it’s a fact that must be understood to be true. Acceptable, because there’s no just way to change it.

    And none of us should feel guilty about making life better for ourselves. In the last two years, I left a job that paid well and made me miserable to go to a nicer and more interesting job that paid very little. I have since left that job to be closer to home in a job that pays more than I’ve ever made. Here I sit, miserable again in the best paying job I’ve ever had. In the last week, I’ve been approached by another company. I think I’ll be happier there. I think it will work out that the pay will be about what I’m making now. What part of which move I’ve made in the last couple of years makes any difference to anyone else? What should I feel guilty about?

    This has been my pursuit of happiness. I want to do a good job and be happy doing it. The money is secondary. But, those who do a good job get paid. So what?

    What should I be doing different to help the sick and poor? Should I quit my job? What then?

    Does anyone think that my job hasn’t helped the sick and poor? If so, why? Simply because I have taken more money than they did?

    In the last 12 years, I have been involved in building churches, hospitals, homeless shelters, clinics… Certainly, I’ve done my part.

    And if the guilt of having received compensation had kept me from doing the things I did, who would have done them? Some other “greedy” SOB! And what if he had had the same crisis of conscience? Then who would build things? Someone else and someone else. Until all the people who felt guilty about having been paid more than nothing just end up roaming the earth, looking for someone to “help”.

    I’m not guilty. I’m helpfully employed.

    I have money. But the guy who doesn’t isn’t my victim. He never had the money I have. I didn’t take it from him. And my work benefits him.

  31. paynehollow says:

    C2C…

    What should I feel guilty about?

    This has been my pursuit of happiness. I want to do a good job and be happy doing it. The money is secondary. But, those who do a good job get paid. So what?

    What should I be doing different to help the sick and poor? Should I quit my job? What then?

    Who are you arguing with, C2C? No one here has advocated feeling “guilty…” As presumably the most liberal one here, I’ve advocated specifically against feeling guilty.

    Who is advocating that you quit your job?

    You appear to be arguing against points no one here has made, not that I can see.

    What I have said is that I advocate for personal responsibility – not trying to get the cheapest costing stuff, whatever the cost, but trying to be responsible to pay a reasonable, accurate price for stuff. I would posit that paying artificially low prices undermines responsible capitalism, not supports it.

    That’s the main point I’ve made here. Nothing about feeling guilty, nothing about quitting your job.

    C2C…

    The difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals believe that it’s an achievable state. Conservatives don’t believe it is.

    Again, not THIS “liberal.” Of course, we will always have poor with us, I don’t know anyone who says otherwise. The case we’re making is that we don’t want to be responsible for harming others by irresponsible consumerism.

    All I’m talking about (primarily) is personal and societal responsibility. I am pretty sure that, at least in principle, our conservative friends should be able to embrace that ideal.

    ~Dan

  32. paynehollow says:

    A couple of other points…

    C2C…

    Don’t we hear about people who come from nothing and become extremely wealthy?

    Yes, we do, but it is apparently quite rare in the US, statistically, not as likely here as in Europe, fyi…

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/05/us/harder-for-americans-to-rise-from-lower-rungs.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    CAN it happen? Sure, it does all the time. Does it regularly happen? Apparently not so much as one would hope for.

    But that’s mostly an aside.

    C2C…

    This is apparently unacceptable to liberals.

    Again, I don’t think this is an argument anyone here is making. I don’t see any argument against the classes in Atticus’ post, and I haven’t made that argument, to be sure.

    Yes, we do and will have poor people. That is a reality.

    Yes, rich people should not have their stuff taken from them. No one here has suggested that, that I can see.

    I’m positing two things that I think correspond with Atticus’ post:

    1. Moral, ethical people (religious and otherwise) should rightly be concerned about those who are in dire straits. We are not to just worry about “getting ours” and let everyone else sink or swim. We’re all in this together and reasonably and morally speaking, I think we all should watch out for the “least of these…” because it is in our self interest to do so and because it is morally right.

    Is that foolish to think this?

    2. Moral, responsible people will want to pay a reasonable price for goods, not the lowest one can possibly find, regardless of the source. Responsible, moral people should not want to pay for a product that is priced artificially low by theft, or by worker abuse or by environmental abuse. Following the Golden Rule reasoning: If it’s not a job/business you would want your children to work at or to have in your own literal back yard, then it not one that we should pay for to happen somewhere else.

    Is this foolish to think this?

    ~Dan

  33. Sorry, Dan. I had started writing based on the first few responses. It seemed like guilt, etc. was the way things were going.

    Never mind.

  34. But… Since I brought it up and you commented…

    It’s not rare that people come from almost nothing and become “rich”.

    It happened to me. But by rich, I don’t mean a millionaire.

  35. paynehollow says:

    Just going by what I’ve read. As I said, I know it happens, but that doesn’t mean it’s normative.

    Thanks.

    ~Dan

  36. Dan,

    You talk about this as though it were the most pressing moral issue since slavery, yet you aren’t willing, by your own admission, to research each and every purchase you make. If the issue were that important to you then it’s reasonable to assume that each and every purchase would be closely watched so as to ensure zero contribution to human right’s abuses. But since you don’t take it that far then you are not giving “100%,” as you say.

    “Well, I can’t live perfectly, so why worry about how I behave at all…”

    Most people don’t think this way – and ya know it. Most people are doing what they can to get by and support their families and sometimes that means buying goods from lands that, ACCORDING TO OUR STANDARDS, abuse their citizen workers. Again, the fault rests not with the players but the referees.

    Nonetheless, I will certainly admit that it’s not a perfect approach and that perhaps I do send money sometimes – unwittingly – to corporations with practices I don’t approve of.

    You’re not an idiot, Dan, so why do you behave as one? You said earlier that you purchase computers that are foreign-made. You admitted it! So stop saying it’s “unwittingly.” You know it!

    But are you suggesting striving to live towards an ideal – even if one doesn’t make it perfectly – is WORSE than not trying to live right at all?

    You aren’t striving towards “ideal,” Dan, and ya damn well know it. You aren’t going to stop buying foreign-made computers and cell phones – and I don’t blame you. You are merely a player. You are living the American way of life as best you can. The fault lies with the referees, as I’ve said.

    I’m specifically NOT blaming poor folk (whereas, you seem to want to blame them for their own inability to change unjust situations – at the same time you don’t want people blaming you for your moral inconsistencies.

    This is asinine. You obviously have no idea who you are talking to. I have defended poor people time and time again on this blog. You have me confused. Not that I’m surprised, though. You liberals are infamous for lumping those together who do not walk lock-step with your radical and hypocritical views.

    And on this issue, my “moral inconsistencies” are shared by you – and by your own admission. Where do your computers come from, again?

  37. R. Nash,

    I have copied and saved your list of groups you believe justify the notion of “artificially low” prices. It will take me some time to wade through each to get to the heart of the matter. I am going to make this preliminary statement, that you have not looked deeply enough into each of those (or any of those) to presume to have the absolute judgement.

    The whole concept of artificially low prices is problematic for a number of reasons.

    1. It is good business practice to offer one’s product or service at the best prices, often lower than a competitor’s, in order to turn a profit by attracting the most customers. One makes one’s fortune by the mass of customers one hopes to attract, not on the sale to one customer. One issue that affects this purpose is the cost of producing the product or service for sale to the end user. Keeping these costs as low as possible allows the company to offer the best prices.

    2. Lobbying is one way to succeed in keeping costs low, and seeking subsidies from government might have justifications, some of which could be to circumvent burdensome taxes and/or regulations (gov’t interference).

    Points such as those above do not qualify as “artificial” as it is natural for companies to want pricing the attracts business, and thus most any tactic or strategy to reduce the costs related to producing the product or service is normal.

    However, when burdensome taxation and/or regulations are imposed upon an industry or business, those costs associated result in higher prices. The products are produced with costs that are not directly related to that production and thus the high costs are indeed artificially high. For example, you mentioned petroleum. I’m sure you’ve seen the charts that list all the taxes that account for the price per gallon, and how little is left for the corporation. Whatever you seem to think is artificially keeping gasoline low might likely be intended to compensate for all the taxes that keep it higher than it could be.

    However, I do not intend to belabor this point in this thread as it is off topic.

    • Marshal you seem to have missed the crux of my point. And yes this speaks to the point of the thread. Those with power or money “use” others to elevate their position financially, or to continue in the consolidation of their power or position. We are being used to prop up every single lobbying group/industry I mentioned. This is taxation without representation.

      No part of the American economy, either foreign or domestic operates as free market enterprise. No part of it is true capitalism. Zero. Except your unregulated garage sales.

      It is all propped up repeatedly with state and federal taxes otherwise known as subsidies or corporate welfare.

      Some industries and sectors more than others. I listed several specifically because they are used daily by almost all Americans.

      When a company sells their trinket at a given price, and is being subsidized by the same customer via taxes on them, then you have not one leg to stand on. In just one example this company is alleviated of their true expenditures by their actual customer base. You are being taxed at least twice when you buy any one of the products I listed above.

      This is price fixing at it’s most sinister.

      Here is the perfect storm example: Hormel operates meat processing plants throughout the country. The one in Iowa, that has been in the news in the last decade for numerous abuses, namely the use of illegal labor and dumping of waste into local waterways, has just one reason behind their decisions, their bottom line, their shareholders, their board of directors quarterly earnings checks.

      They have 3 lobby groups that allow for them to continue using illegal labor and skirt numerous environmental issues. There are no “burdensome” regulations in play that are adversely effecting their bottom line. Their lawyers have argued before the state labor board and the US Dept of Labor to allow for the continued use of illegal labor, off the books, zero benefits.

      Hormel and the entire meat industry receives welfare from the half a trillion dollar Ag bill, the receive, they get to graze their cattle for pennies per acre on “public” lands, they then get further price fixing by exporting enough of their beef/meat abroad to elevate their subsidized products cost domestically.

      You and I are giving them free money to elevate their prices. This is an artificial price. Weather it is purposefully done to be low or high is irrelevant.

      And for you to even begin to suggest that lobbying is just some objective way for an industry to even the playing field is patently absurd. There are 9-12 lobbyists for every member of Congress, there are none representing the America taxpayer. Your use of Exxon is a detriment to your overall position. They have annually skirted the corporate tax of 35%, for 12 years straight and payed zero taxes. In 2009 Exxon received from us through the IRS, 156 million in return, after paying nothing on 19 billion in revenue.

      Poor Exxon with their 21 billion in revenue last year, all of those “burdensome” regulations that keep America from looking like Nigeria or souther Iraq, whoas me.

      This is atypical of toeing the party line. Celebrate blindly how you or a corporation got the success it has, and forget altogether what was destroyed in the process.

      Fire services, police, public education, every legislative act for the last hundred 85 years, EMS, SS, the EPA, all of them are left wing ideas. Our water and air are the quality they are because of people like Stegner and Nader being radical leftists in the 60’s. Just think the right has a fringe element that is so far off the map now as to call these guys enviro-nazis. Why?

      Can’t we all agree that unchecked corporotocracy is a bad idea? If so why not? I mean please give an example of a burdensome regulation that has adversely affected Exxon.

  38. paynehollow says:

    Marshall…

    when burdensome taxation and/or regulations are imposed upon an industry or business, those costs associated result in higher prices.

    But what constitutes a “burdensome” regulation? Requirements not to dump your wastes into streams, but dispose of it properly? Requirements to keep your air pollution to a less toxic level?

    Regulations are the equivalent of saying, “No, you can’t steal that watch then resell it at half the price, that is cheating, ie, artificially low – it’s selling low at a price that is based on harming someone else…” Now, we can disagree about what is “burdensome” and what is realistic/reasonable, but regulations are needed or businesses WILL cut their costs in ways that cause harm to others, and that is wrong.

    Can you at least agree with the principle that it’s not a reasonable “price savings” to reduce your costs in ways that cause harm to others?

    ~Dan

  39. Thanks, Dan, for bringing up again that nonsensical “stolen property” argument. Obviously, dealing in stolen property is not legitimate business and thus your point is also illegitimate.

    As to the rest, I am not about to rehash a discussion regarding regulations wherein you will once again refer only to the worst case scenarios in defending the practice. Besides which, it is totally off topic and I stated that I will not carry on with this tangent.

  40. I’ve been following this for a while and had a couple of things.

    !. As the question in the post title is framed the obvious answer is “Sure it can.”.

    2. In terms of the lot of people in other countries compared to the US I’m approaching this from a slightly different place. I think it is a given that all countries have the responsibility to regulate their borders and immigration. Where I divert is on the topic of wages paid to people in third world countries. Our tendency is to filter everything through the lens of our culture and worldview. So when we see a company that pays low wages we automatically compare those to wages in the US. The problem is that these countries are not the US, and we don’t often look from the perspective of the people who live there. I’ll use Haiti as an example, since that’s where I have the most experience. The average Haitian lives on somewhere around $400.00 per year. That’s pretty appalling. So let’s say that some US company builds a factory on Haiti. First they will have invested millions of dollars for just the most basic of infrastructure (water power, roads etc.), in addition to the costs to build the facility. So, how much should they pay their workers (keeping in mind that we are talking unskilled labor at this point, so there will be training costs and a learning curve before the company sees any return)? At $5.00 US per hour you’ve just started paying these employees more than 20 times the average yearly wage for Haiti. We’d see that and say, no way, but in Haiti I can guarantee that there will be more people lined up for those jobs than could ever be filled. We shouldn’t let our first world biases stand in the way of opportunity for people who literally have nothing and want to work. Is there a point where low wages become exploitation, sure. Am I assuming that these wages will increase as the skill level and productivity of the workers increases, yes. Do, I know Haitians who would be in heaven making $5.00 US per hour, yes. Personally, I think a lot of this gets driven by what Paul Farmer refers to as WL’s. There are too many people living relatively comfortable lives who feel the need to impose their notion of “fairness” on a country full of people who they don’t know, and most likely will never even visit.

    I’ll admit this is a bit of a personal thing for me since it is frustrating to see people who are unable to better themselves, due to systemic problems that date back to the 1800’s.

    As a side note, I’ve had a series of conversations recently with 3 different first generation immigrants, who are all 100% convinced that they can and will take advantage of the opportunities that they have, and that they can be orders of magnitude more successful than they ever could have dreamed in their home countries (Turkey, Somalia, Ethiopia). Personally, I believe them.

    Recently I’ve been thinking about the ramifications for the African American community as a whole, if the US born African Americans find that the African immigrants are becoming more successful due to a respect for education, intact family structure, and willingness to work incredibly hard. It is pretty well documented that those three things are significant predictors of poverty. Am I being to pessimistic to think that we could see some sort of “race war” between US born African Americans and African (and Caribbean) born African Americans?

    I know this is going way off topic, so I won’t be offended if John edits or deletes this.

  41. Nash,

    It is indeed off topic. The topic concerns American Exceptionalism. You want to talk about corporate greed. We get it. You think you understand “corporate welfare” and lobbying. But here’s the deal about lobbying that you fail to appreciate. Lobbyists cannot force change of legislation. They can only influence change at best. If they’re bribing their way to success in their lobbying efforts, then the real problem is the quality of politician, not the lobbyist (though I do not support bribing politicians to do anything). The term “lobbyist” covers a lot of ground and one individual who calls his rep is lobbying for something. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with lobbying. I totally support the concept.

    Here are examples of burdensome regulations on the petroleum industry.

    • How is it off topic if I feel that one of the two main reasons that America is less exceptional, is the lack of a free market economy, and that in fact that economy is often at the expense of it’s citizenry?

      And your ugly dismissal that I don’t actually understand corporate welfare or lobbying makes you look like a moron, especially when you have not offered any proof otherwise to counter the facts I have presented. I minored in economics and have studied the lobbying money train for more than 20 years. Please do tell me me what I don’t understand about it all. Maybe instead of just hollow abject dismissal you could offer proofs?

      “Lobbyists cannot force change of legislation. They can only influence change at best.” Have you ever been in the room when this process takes place? Only someone indeed void of any real experience could promote their own pro lobby position with such rhetoric.

      And how convenient that you support the concept, but not the actual practice, such as the actual writing of legislation. Sorry pal, lobbyists are in the room when legislation gets written. They pay for that privilege.

      The very fact that you posted a link to The Ins. for Energy Res. is proof enough that you are biased to the point of blindness. They are the dirtiest and ugliest form of lobbying. They are supported by the Koch brothers, have a former Enron executive as their CEO, and one of it’s 3 founders Thomas Pyle is a former oil lobbyist for Koch industries. He is also the president of the American Energy Alliance the most corrupt oil lobby PAC in the industry. We all remember that Steven Hayward of IER was caught in 07 or 08 trying to pay IPCC scientists to fabricate lies about their own research. Oh by the way he is a board of directors chair for IER.
      And to top it off they frequently promote “research” from the Heritage Foundation……which under no circumstances can be considered legitimate or objective.

      If you are going to whore yourself as a pro corporate welfare, lobbying shill, you should at least choose a group who doesn’t get caught lying, giving bribes and whose special interest isn’t so disgustingly glaring. If you had an ounce of integrity, and were even remotely capable of thinking independently about the subject, you couldn’t possibly think that the IER is a relevant unbiased example of “burdensome” regulations. “ANY” regulation is burdensome to these guys. They are what’s wrong with America. They make this country less exceptional. They would have this country looking like the coast of Nigeria if they could. Try harder.

  42. I suppose these corrupt lobbyists of yours hold guns to the heads of legislators as they craft policy? Is this what you’re saying? If this is not the case, then the problem is with those who take bribes and legislate accordingly. What’s more, I have tried to find something that would lend credence to your pants wetting accusations about IER, AEA or either Pyle or Hayward. I even tried Wiki and sourcewatch.org, who proclaims themselves to be shining a light on corruption. Haven’t found any dirt on any of them. However, I am more than familiar with those who would make such accusations due to their opposition to favored policies of people like, perhaps, yourself. I would have thought that had any of these people been guilty of the high crimes and misdemeanors of which you list, a search using terms like “corruption” and such attached to them would have yielded something that supports your accusation.

    Now, I have a problem with the term “corporate welfare” to be sure. It is a term too easily thrown about so as to make its use seem like lunatic ravings. I have stated my position that all business should rise or fall on its own abilities, but I don’t know that most people who scream about corporate welfare have any legs upon which to stand in most cases.

    And once again, lobbying is not an immoral act. It is what anyone does who encourages a politician to act one way as opposed to another. I have absolutely no problem with people being hired to lobby on behalf of others, be those others individuals, groups of individuals, corporations or groups. I don’t even have a problem with them being involved with crafting legislation. Where’s the problem if everything is done with the understanding that the benefits to the group represented by the lobbyist aren’t at the expense of anyone else? How are politicians to understand an industry without representatives of that industry having a relationship of some kind with those politicians? Are politicians commonly well versed in absolutely every area of interest that may come up before them, or do they seek information and knowledge before passing laws (I mean good politicians, not Democrats)?

    And again, this is all off topic. Try re-reading the post and then try to explain how this all ties in.

    • I stated twice why this is relevant to the title of the post. Twice. I f I need to explain it again I am afraid your capacity to understand is again, diminished.

      You have made zero legitimate argument for corporate welfare, completely and absolutely ignored the entirety of my two previous posts, and cannot seem to even grasp that lobbying has a proven dark side. It threatens the democratic ideals that made this country great.

      I will ask a series of starkly black and white questions. You try to answer without the usual whitewashing.

      Please give the audience one single industry that does not use lobbyists to secure federal and state monies, subsidies and tax breaks.

      Please give one example in which an industry or company with more than 50 employees utilizes legitimately free market enterprise without receiving any corporate welfare at all.

      “I don’t even have a problem with them being involved with crafting legislation. Where’s the problem if everything is done with the understanding that the benefits to the group represented by the lobbyist aren’t at the expense of anyone else”? Please give an example where lobbyists have written legislation and it didn’t just benefit their narrow interest and did not come at the expense of anyone else?

      Do you think that American exceptionalism allows for Exxon to get paid by the IRS every year after paying zero taxes?

      It has not been missed by anyone following this thread that you have repeatedly neglected to engage in the actual substance of any of the examples I gave. Why is that?
      You have done zero to show any other outcome beyond the ill effects of special interest monies effect costs/prices. This is the opposite of capitalism. Why do you continue to skirt the issue with this generalized and apologetic bs?

      You continue to suggest that I have no grasp of corporate welfare or lobbying and have not once shown what my non understanding is. Why?

      Do you know who was in the room crafting the ACA? Blue Cross Blue Shield and the AIHP………….the primary lobby group for health insurers. Did they have guns? Nope? Did they help write that legislation so that it favored their position? Yup. Did they pay for that access? Yes, to the tune of about 19 million dollars.

      I look forward to your wayward and generic replies.

  43. Whatever you think passes for explanations as to why your anti-capitalism rants are related to the topic fails to address the topic’s purpose, which is to discuss whether patriotic attitudes can be problematic. Thus they are off topic. They don’t even respond to the two questions posed by Atticus at the end of his post

    Now, you want to go further off track by having me answer questions that do not reflect anything I’ve said about lobbying. Ain’t gonna do it. I never claimed that there were no abuses in the lobbying process. I have merely defended lobbying as a legitimate concept that flows from the notion of petitioning our government. Only an idiot would suggest that lobbying is not a means to further the interests of the lobbyist or those he represents. That, too, is not, in itself, a horror. What is a horror is that there exists narrow minded people who feel that every move by a corporation is detrimental, that every politician is crooked and that lobbyists are all spawns of Satan.

    “Did they have guns? Nope? Did they help write that legislation so that it favored their position? Yup. Did they pay for that access? Yes, to the tune of about 19 million dollars.”

    Your concern should be with those who accepted payment.

    • That was exactly the generic non reply I expected.
      You are a real hoot.

      Anti-capitalism!!!!! Are for real? I am the only capitalist I know. You are not a capitalist. It is antithetical to be pro lobby and pro capitalism, they are mutually exclusive!

      The moment one single dollar is given to a special interest you have abandoned capitalism and free market enterprise, and it’s taxation without representation. So now that 1 trillion in corporate welfare changes hands annually (thats accounted for), what to do?

      Your replies prove that you have zero background in economics, much less political science. Your head is in the sand Marshall.

      *******Your patriotic attitude is a problem and harms American exceptionalism because you are effing cluless about the money that the government funnels from special interests. Yours is a world of delusion. You’re the problem. People like you who patriotically boast but have no clue what the US is or how it came to be in the position it is. How did it consolidate power? How does it continue to use corporate monies to do such a thing?

      The last presidential election funneled 1 billion dollars in PAC and Super PAC monies in the final 4 months. More than half cannot be accurately accounted for…….is this the lobby that the founding fathers envisioned? Where these same lobbyists can use the same mechanisms to buy elections to? Only a fool would delude themselves into thinking that “if we just elect politicians who won’t take the money, we will be dandy.” You should have taken the Blue Pill.

      Sorry, just because you are out of your pay grade doesn’t make my post off topic.

  44. “That was exactly the generic non reply I expected.”

    Not hard to elicit when asking straw-man questions that are not only irrelevant but not reflective of anything I’ve said thus far. To clarify what should not have been unclear to such a brilliant scholar as yourself, I was not defending anyone specific, but the concept of lobbying, which is only an attempt to influence public officials, usually for or against a specific cause. You seem to want to eliminate lobbying. How can we then petition the government for redress of grievances, something we have the Constitutional right to do?

    From a corporations point of view, lobbying is a part of their capitalist duties. They are seeking to affect changes beneficial to their quest for an expanding bottom line. Your real issue is with politicians who might be swayed by money to do what they otherwise would oppose, isn’t it? I don’t give a rat’s ass how much money is put up for a political action committee. As one who tries to be a responsible voter, I attempt to support the best and most honest candidate my limited time and efforts can find. If they prove themselves incompetent and/or crooked, I vote against them the next time around.

    But by crapping on lobbying, you deny legitimate attempts to influence legislation. You would insist that ALL lobbying is underhanded and criminal and that is evidence that it is YOU who knows little of the subject. I have never put forth the idea that all lobbyists are angelic or above acting unethically. But such people cannot succeed with quality people in government, which, in the same intellectually lazy manner, you believe is not even possible. Politicians who would be influenced by money and favors would not be better people or politicians if you remove those who might bribe them. What incredible foolishness.

    And still I await an explanation for how your ramblings about lobbyists and corporate welfare answers the question posed by the title of this post or either of the two questions (that seem off topic as well) at the end of it.

  45. You have a real problem and should seek counseling. After telling you I had little time for perusing and studying links, you offer nine more and two books! Why? So I can learn what I already know? That there is corruption in the lobbying process? Wow! What a freakin’ newsflash! You must be all the rage at your State the Obvious Club.

    “Delegations of citizenry”?? What do you think they were doing? They were lobbying for changes. If you think there should be alterations to the process, once again you state the obvious. I don’t see where you think you’re bringing light to anything here.

    My point, again, is that lobbying has its place. If it is abused, that doesn’t mean you throw out the baby with the bathwater. That’s where your laziness is manifested. You seem to think that corporations or industries aren’t constituents and can be abused by the people? Everyone has the right to take their concerns to their representatives, either by themselves or through the use of a spokesman known as a lobbyist. And exactly what evidence to I need to provide in support of any right such as this? I defend a right, and you want to eliminate that right due to abuses by some. More intellectual laziness.

    This is where honesty and morals comes in and you believe there is none available to represent us who display such virtue. That’s cynical and more the result if idiots in the voting booth (as well as those too lazy to register and pay attention). Change the laws or the rules, and the corrupt simply change tactics. You solve nothing.

    Now, how does any of your spewing connect to the topic exactly. I still await with breathless anticipation for that answer.

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