can/must

Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we have to do it, and just because we posses something doesn’t mean we deserve to possess it.

I read an article that said the coming revolution in artificial intelligence and automation is going to cause social upheaval as millions of people are thrown out of work. Self-driving cars and trucks eliminate the need for taxi drivers and truckers, self-checkouts eliminate the need for cashiers, robots will cook the meals in restaurants and assemble consumer goods.

But we don’t have to build those things. We can leave things the way they are, or even go back to a simpler time if we want to. If a robot is going to ruin our lives, then lets not build it.  It’s not “progress” if it’s making everyone unhappy.

And on a different topic, Republicans believe that because they have accumulated a pile of money it logically follows that they deserve to have accumulated a pile of money; and furthermore, it would be a sin and a disgrace to tax that pile of money to take care of the people they took it from.

I don’t think it’s wrong to expect a little better than that from people.

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Bloodbath

People forget what an extremist Ronald Reagan was. He wasn’t a kindly old man who told funny stories, he was a demagogue who wanted to end political unrest by slaughtering all the hippies:

“If it’s to be a bloodbath, let it be now.”

Later he claimed that “bloodbath” was just a figure of speech. I’ve never heard anyone else use “bloodbath” as a figure of speech. Certainly the National Guard at Kent State didn’t use it that way.  They loaded their rifles with live ammunition, took aim, and fired.

Of course this is the same man who, when called out for telling a joke denigrating Poles and Italians, claimed that he was merely giving an example of the sort of thing he personally did not find funny.

So I don’t think telling the truth was of particular importance to him.

And I don’t think our current political climate is an aberration.

It’s more of a culmination.

“We stoked each other’s anger. And it felt good.”

Via Humans of New York:

“I felt humiliated and suicidal in college. It seemed like my personal failings were on display for everyone to see. I’m not all that attractive. I have a speech impediment. I’m not good socially. I saw other guys having romantic success and I felt a lot of envy. I concluded that women owed me something. They owed me a chance. And I was angry they weren’t giving it to me. I’m ashamed of it now, but during that time I formed a lot of bad and hateful opinions. I joined ‘incel’ communities on 4chan and Reddit. I found a lot of men there who felt just like me. The community provided this pseudoscientific justification for hating women. It let us feel like it wasn’t our fault. We stoked each other’s anger. And it felt good. Honestly, anger is just very addictive. You want to feel angry when you’re suffering. It gives you adrenaline. It gets your endorphins going. It’s a release. It’s a substitute for what you’re missing.”

He’s not really so unusual.

Outrage is America’s drug of choice- and there’s a dealer on every news channel.

Misguided

In this excerpt from Huey Long by T. Harry Williams, ©1969, Huey Long explains why he did not fight in the First World War:

“I did not go into that war,” he proclaimed in the Senate. “I was within the draft age. I could have gone, except for my dependents. I did not go because I did not want to go, aside from that fact… I did not go because I was not mad at anybody over there. I did not go because it was not the first time in history that the sons of America had volunteered themselves as cannon fodder under the misguided apprehension that it was going to be a fight for humanity,” when in reality they had been used to centralize “the wealth of the United States and the world in the hands of a few.”

Since then, similar words have been spoken about nearly every American conflict.

Unhealthy

I can remember a time that this image was everywhere; on patches, posters, stickers, graffiti.

It’s hard now to remember a time when war without end was considered an aberration, a time before a daily body count was just part of the background noise, like crickets in the country.

 

Spectrum

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.” ~Noam Chomsky

Not just in politics, but in most fields there are possibilities that are immediately discarded without discussion.

It’s something to be on guard against.