As Above So Below: Part Two

Remember The Drones Club, Woolcott Fans?

Remember The Drones Club, Wodehouse Fans?

Now that I have all the silliness out of my system, let’s take a serious look at the new trend in dorm rooms.  The designer creations featured in the Time pictorial that I featured yesterday was by an outfit called American Campus Communities.   From their website:

American Campus Communities is one of the nation’s largest developers, owners and managers of high-quality student housing communities.  We led the industry to a new plateau in 2004 when we became the first publicly traded student housing REIT (NYSE: ACC).  Since 1996, we’ve developed more than $1.5 billion in properties for our own account and our university clients, and we have acquired in excess of $2 billion in student housing assets. Also, we’ve become a national leader in third-party development and management of on-campus student housing, having been awarded the development of 46 on-campus projects (in addition to our 11 projects developed off campus).  We have forged strong relationships through our on-campus developments: 11 of our college, university and system partners have called ACC back for 24 additional projects or phases after we completed their initial communities.

There we go folks; it’s a real estate scam.  Universities get to increase their real estate values without having to manage the properties.   Then they pass on the added expenses with their tuitions.   University regents live in a make-believe world where they can raise tuition without limit.  Rather than create an atmosphere where all students are equal, colleges are now enforcing the capitalist class system where wealthy students will be isolated from their less wealthy fellow students.   This will certainly help to assure that what happened in the Sixties will never happen again.  Different classes of people will never mix.  The upper class kids will never be exposed to poverty, and never see that there is anything wrong in our society. So there is one class of students living in dorms with their own 7-11s and private gyms . Then there is another class of students who have to go to the food pantry to survive.

As above, so below, folks.   This is a reflection of America today.  As more and more Americans lose their homes and jobs, more and more Americans are eating from food pantries.   At the same time, more and more Americans are living in luxury.   So which America does the media focus on?  Time Magazine does a a puff piece on American Campus Communities and present this as if all college students are living that lifestyle.

What amazes me is that people are actually going to believe this.   They have their heads so far up their butts that they are going to start kvetching about how easy college kids have it these days.  Of course they are going to ignore the kids who are eating out of food pantries.  People have a tendency to see what they want to see.  So while the world looks through its rose colored glasses, corporate America is busily stealing everything that’s not nailed down and returning with crowbars.

I think the next paragraph from their website brings a greater understanding of this idiocy:

Today’s sophisticated student consumers demand more and expect the modern conveniences they grew up with.  Private bedrooms, private baths, Internet connectivity, fully equipped kitchens, spacious living areas and resort-style amenities are seen as necessities – and universities are catching on.  They now know that to recruit and retain students, they must offer modern housing options that support their academic mission.  With college enrollment at an all-time high, universities are turning to private developers to meet this rising demand for amenity-rich student housing both on and off campus.

Show of hands here. How many of us have grown up in this sort of atmosphere?   Internet connectivity is no big deal.  There are homeless shelters with WiFi for the residents who managed to hang on to their laptops. I grew up with a fully equipped kitchen and I used it, too.   Nobody in their right minds would have let my mother anywhere near a frying pan.   Really folks, how many of us grew up with resort style amenities?  Show of hands. Whatever happened to the good old fashioned cafeteria?   I got my first two years of college mad money washing dishes.

Education has become class-driven.  We are no longer training our young people to become the best they can be.   We gave up the space race.  We surrendered the war on poverty.  Colleges are no longer places of learning. They have devolved into places where kids go to make contact with people of their own class.  Is it any wonder the very people who screwed the pooch and caused a world wide stock market crash simply don’t see that they have done the slightest thing wrong?

Republican Housing Plan

Republican Housing Plan

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12. Obsession With Crime and Punishment

Progress Is A Crime Against Libertarian Democracy

Progress Is A Crime Against Libertarian Democracy

In Libertarianville, the government is always committing crimes against the public.  Most of these crimes are only violations of the Libertarian sense of morality.  By the same token, Libertarians are constantly accusing the government of violating the Constitution any time the actual Constitution contradicts the Federalist Papers.  Quite often, Libertarians ignore actual crimes and constitutional violations.

Ron Paul’s crusade against the income tax is a good example of this.  Paul’s handlers have spent massive amounts of money on a campaign claiming that the 50 states were fooled into ratifying the income tax amendment.  They falsely claim that the tax is illegally collected, and they cite the Federalist Papers as their proof.

If Paul cited the actual Constitution, they would have to concede that the income tax is perfectly Constitutional.  The Founders were not setting themselves up as prophets.  They realized that time marches forward and there needed to be a mechanism for change.  Otherwise the Constitution would have collapsed from the weight of supporting a United States with 50 states and billions of citizens.  The Founders foresaw that the world would change and were wise enough not to try to predict what these changes were.  Being men of vision and not religious lunatics, the Founders did not try to predict the future.  They left us the mechanism of the Constitutional amendment so that we, the living, could better manage our affairs without the dead hand of the past holding us back.

This is not to say that the federal income tax is perfect. Far from it.  There is a tremendous need to reform the institution and the offices that surround it.  Most certainly corporations need to pay their fair share and not place all the burden on the employees.  When running for President in 1976, Jerry Brown proposed a straight 2% across the board income tax.  No exceptions and no refunds.  Not only would that streamline government offices, it would also clear out the parasitic industries that grew up around the income tax.

Libertarians would punish rather than reform.  They would eliminate the income tax and fund the federal government through a system that ceased to work over a century ago.  Unable to financially maintain itself, the federal government would fall into 50 rival countries.  Multinationals would have 50 third world countries they could rape and ruin as they do in the Middle East, Africa and South America.  With no federal government providing a minimum of oversight, even our presently poor ecological laws would be repealed. Industrial cities would return to choking in their own wastes.  There would be no oversight of interstate commerce, and nothing to keep a c orporation from shipping a load of poor kids from Oakland to work in Los Angeles factories for slave labor. If the state governments were enough to provide oversight, the federal government would not have taken on the job.  The Constitution cites that the Federal Government oversees what the State governments cannot.

The crimes that Libertarians obsess over are the crimes of growth and change.  The world changes and the Constitution changes with it.  The nation changes and our roles of citizens change as well.  The United States grew out of small capitalism over a century and a half ago.  Federalist Papers based morality will not change that.  The clock ticks only one way, and that is forward. It does not matter what Jefferson wrote over 200 years ago. We, the living, must take care of today’s problems with tomorrow’s solutions.  Looking to the past will only make us the slaves of the corporations.  That is the greatest crime of all.

Born to Lose, but Against McCain?

Born to Lose, but Against McCain?


6. Controlled Mass Media Part 2: The Marketplace of Ideas

Do Not Expect The Opposition to Tell the Truth Either

Do Not Expect The Opposition to Tell the Truth Either

The Internet is probably the most heavily controlled media on Earth; only it is controlled by chaos.  China could save billions of dollars if its government realized that total chaos is a more rigid censor than absolute control.  The Internet has become a mass of rumor, fact, confusion, paranoia, defamation, conspiracy theories, and deliberate misinformation.  All the Chinese government needs to do is hire a couple of hackers to begin rumors like the government is putting obedience drugs in the water, Israel is funding the Secret Police, or that Bush is secretly manipulating Chinese jobs, and there would be no need for censorship.  The population would take care of that themselves.

I first came across this unique form of censorship four years ago when I was co-moderating a Yahoo! group called Do Something America.  It took a little effort, but the group owner and I rid the board of most of the violently insane “net nuts”.  We even managed to do some cooperative actions, like calling our Congresspeople over the stolen 2004 election.  Then things started to change. First it was the rumors that Karl Rove was being indicted by a grand jury.  As I mentioned before, such rumors undermine the grand jury system and would invalidate any such indictment.  Personally, I think that the White House itself was behind those rumors, as they guaranteed that Turd Blossom walked free.

I tried to get people to check their sources before they posted, but I was fighting a losing battle.  I felt like the little Dutch Boy trying to stem a flood by sticking appendages into a leaking dike.  It seemed that every net nut in the U.S was posting the most incredible idiocy.  Most of it concerned Israel.  Hitler’s International Jewish Conspiracy was alive and well and living in Do Something America.  Israel was behind Sept. 11th. Israel was behind all the ills of the American economy. Israel was behind the Iraq war.  Israeli art students were spying on the DEA office in New Jersey.  These “articles” came complete with broken links and no way to verify the information.  The harder I banned and deleted, the more nonsense flooded the board.

Not that it would have made any difference.  The more idiotic the post, the more it had been cross posted to other Yahoo! groups.  It wasn’t just anti-semitic idiocy either.  There was a lot of AIDS denial, absurd Sept. 11th conspiracies–it got to the point where the idiocy so outweighed the factual information that I simply gave up.  The other Yahoo! boards were worse.  I just left Yahoo! to the net nuts.

With no regulation of Web content, there is no standards for truth or accuracy.  This reduces the Web to the same meaningless drivel as Fox News.  Worse, all the paranoid idiocy acts as a smoke screen to undermine the legal process.  When you have a bunch of loonies marching down the street demanding government investigations of the patently absurd, it drowns out the voices of those of us who want investigations of the provable crimes committed by the Bush Administration.

Of course we can depend on the Libertarians to be the loudest voice preventing us from fixing this problem.  Libertarians fight off the establishment of standards on the Web as hard as they fight the establishment of standards on all other media.  To the Libertarian, lies, misinformation, bigotry, and defamation are all part of free speech.  Requirements that statements be true and verifiable are considered censorship to the Libertarian.  Laws that protect minorities from defamation bring on accusations of oppression.  Libertarians deliberately confuse fact with opinion, and claim that an requiring an opinion to be stated as an opinion is a threat to their First Amendment rights.

One AIDS denier whom I banned from Do Something America, and later ran into on another board, called this nonsense The Marketplace of Ideas.  According to him, everybody should be free to post anything that they want without consequences, and it is the reader who has to pick out what is true or untrue.  With that sort of logic, Bayer can use rat poison for aspirin filler, and it’s up to the consumer to tell if it’s safe to take.  Nobody has the time to check every piece of drivel that comes through the Internet.  Besides, a lot of the conspiracy theories are backed with either the logic of madness or the logic of some damned good PR agents.

The lack of journalistic standards, enforcement of defamation laws, and prevention of rumor mongering reduces the Web to Fox McNews.  The only people who have anything to fear from establishing standards are the corporations.  Reliable information would cause their downfall.  If Bush was not protected by a fog of conspiracy theories, he might have been prosecuted for the actual incompetence that led to Sept. 11th. The statement of opinions would remain protected free speech as long as such opinions do not lead to harm to individuals or minorities.  So the establishment of standards would not silence Libertarians as they claim.  It would only cause the end of the most damnable form of censorship ever created.

These Millionaires are Asking Me for Money?

These Millionaires are Asking Me for Money?