As Iron Knee notes, "Considering that the Boston Tea Party was actually against the East
India Tea Company (the then equivalent of a multinational corporation)
it is difficult to believe that the founders of this country really
intended for corporations to have the same rights as people and for
money to be considered protected speech."
David Brooks's column in today's New York Times is smart and spot-on. Be sure to read it.
Take a look at the figures below, which shows (left pyramid) the categories that federal agricultural subsidies fall into, compared to
(right pyramid) federal recommendations for how often we should eat those types of food.
As Gwen Sharp notes at Sociological Images:
Just to clarify, the 73.8% figure for meat and dairy on the left doesn’t
refer just to direct subsidies; it also includes subsidies for crops
that are grown primarily to feed livestock. The “grains” category
(13.23%) refers to grains grown for human consumption. If you included
all grains in one category it would be much larger, but somewhat
misleading in that the vast majority of grains grown in the U.S. aren’t
intended for people to eat.
Without subsidized grain, keeping livestock in confined feeding
facilities to fatten them up would be much more expensive, if not
entirely cost-prohibitive. Thus, farm subsidies are an essential
component of U.S. agribusiness.
The U.S. government does not look out for the interests and welfare of citizens. It looks out for the interests and welfare of powerful, organized interests.
For a perfect lesson in what is wrong with American government and American politics, look at this item by Jim Fallows.
Throw them all out. Every last one of them. But that won't solve the problem. We need to have a Constitutional Convention to redesign our pathetic system.
What the hell is wrong with this country?! The oil companies and the government have not learned anything in thirty years. The American people — profligate, wasteful, stupid — have not learned anything. The oil industry is arrogant, incompetent, and reckless. Our government has failed to protect us from it.
Jim Fallows has been inveighing recently against the idiocy of the Transportation Security Administration. I agree with all of his observations. Here's an item from a post by him today — one that I found particularly compelling. The last paragraph, containing Jim's observations about the marmalade menace, is particularly good.
The TSA and the Marmalade "Gel" Menace. My friend Bruce Williams
describes his latest security-theater encounter with TSA rules. Here's
my point in passing along stories like this: if security measures are
ridiculous, eventually they bring ridicule to the entire security
effort. In the long run, marmalade seizures, Supreme Court
stair-closures, and "security level is 'orange'" foolishness "help the
terrorists win," because they erode the legitimacy of real security
efforts. I could belabor the point (eg, no one who passes through an
airport in Israel would dream of making fun of their security efforts,
because they're 100% serious) but instead I'll just turn the microphone
over to Williams:
I flew back from London on Monday. The
international segment was Heathrow to Denver on UAL. At Heathrow, I
bought a jar of marmalade at the Harrods shop inside Terminal 1; it,
like many other stores in the Terminal one shopping mall, is in the
post-security area. I didn't think twice about stuffing it into my
roller bag. It flew across the pond in the overhead bin above me. I
passed through immigration and customs at Denver without difficulties–I
even noted the jam on my customs form.
is standard procedure at most US airports, transferring passengers must
go through TSA security after they clear customs and immigration–even
though they've already passed inspection before flying into the US. So I
didn't think twice about the jar of Harrod's orange marmalade in my
bag. But the sharp-eyed guy manning the X-ray machine spotted it, and I
was pulled aside for a personal inspection. The TSA officer was nice
("Happens all the time," he said), but he unwrapped the jar from its
green Harrods bag and told me I couldn't carry the jar of "gel" on the
airplane, receipt and shrink-wrap seal notwithstanding.
Not wanting to disappoint a friend who loves the authentic
stuff, I dashed upstairs to check my bag and its contraband and then had
to go back through security again.
Of course, if I'd been on a nonstop flight from London to
Seattle–or outbound from Seattle–carrying a jar of jam (or any number
of other liquids and gels sold inside airport duty-free shops) wouldn't
have been a problem. Only TSA could come up with and enforce such a
You know what I "resent" about our freedoms? I
resent the loss of them, through small-minded and smaller-hearted
"security state" thinking, and the distortion of what it means to be an
American. It should mean someone who takes things in stride, recognizes
that life has ups and downs, and follows rules because the rules are
reasonable and deserve respect. Thanks largely to security theater,
Americans are coming to be people who scurry and worry, and follow rules
no matter how obviously inane because they keep us "safe."
The Fucked-Up States of America. That's what we have become. This country is so seriously screwed up that we might as well pack it in.
To the long list of indications that we are in serious decline — policies that bail out the rich, failures to fix decaying infrastructure, crippling partisan polarization, a dysfunctional U.S. Senate, etc., etc. — let's add this minor, but telling, news item: Congress and the White House are standing in the way of efforts to cut rapidly rising postal costs.
Forty years ago, the Congress and President Richard Nixon approved the Postal Reorganization Act, which converted the U.S. Post Office Department from an old-line Cabinet department of the federal government into a government corporation, with the specific purpose of giving postal managers and executives the freedom (from political considerations and constraints) to run the system in a more businesslike way. But ever since then, whenever postal executives have tried to be businesslike in their management of the system (cutting waste, controlling costs, etc.), the politicians have stepped in to stop any change. Consequently, the Postal Service remains a bloated organization with too many unnecessary and expensive features: too many post offices, too many pick-up points, too many delivery points, and too many delivery days — all at a time when its volume (and, thus, revenues) are in serious decline. [Read all about these problems in this fascinating and illuminating book that for some mysterious reason never became a bestseller.]
In any case, here we are again, with the Postal Service facing truly monumental problems of declining volume and revenue. So, postal executives have let it be known that they would like to drop the frequency of deliveries from six days a week to five. Nobody needs residential delivery six days a week, and opinion polls show the public would find such a change acceptable. But the craven politicians go into spasms of panic and say, "Over our dead bodies. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with one another in our efforts to protect our constituents from such a heinous change in policy. We can't agree on anything else, but — by gosh! — we're certain we don't want to see the frequency of your home mail delivery pared back at all." good lord. What nonsense.
We're going down the tubes. No doubt about it. The signs are everywhere — even the FUPAs that plague many of us, male and female. But appearances aren't our problem. Reality is our problem. We're the FUSA.
Apparently, the REAL buzz in Washington today isn't about Obama's State of the Union message itself but about the amazing breach of protocol committed during the speech by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.
Here's interesting commentary on why Alito's conduct Thursday night was so much worse than Rep. Joe Wilson's "You lie" outburst during Obama's September speech on health care.