Social Articles from 2017
How to make people respect the flag
by Justin King
Posted July 5, 2017
It’s the Fourth of July. The most American of days. If you left your home today or scrolled your social media accounts, you undoubtedly saw disrespect towards the American flag. It isn’t a new expression of speech, but it is certainly more widespread today than in years past. So the question arises: how can you make people respect the flag?
Do the actions committed under the flag today match this symbolism? Does a pure country run torture camps or turn a blind eye when its allies do? Does an innocent nation intentionally foster a civil war in which millions of civilians are killed or displaced for political and economic gain? Does a hardy country turn away those seeking help because it is too difficult? Does a valorous nation conduct a drone strike program in which 90% of those killed are “collateral damage”? Do vigilant citizens let the government run amok, or should they monitor government overreach the way the Founding Fathers intended? Does the country display the perseverance to forge ahead through danger and terror, or does it let the fear generated by a tiny minority of extremists control its foreign policy? Is there true justice when the nation has the largest inmate population on the planet and law enforcement kills an unarmed person 10% of the time they kill someone? More…
The Original Monopoly Was Deeply Anti-Landlord
By Tristan Donovan
Posted June 27, 2017
The game of cutthroat capitalism was actually intended as a lesson on wealth inequality. The game was called the Landlord’s Game.
In the game players traveled around and around the board using paper money to buy lots, railroads, and utilities. After buying a property players could then charge rent to anyone who landed on it and build houses that increased the amount they could demand. Each time players completed the circuit of the board they would pass a corner square marked “Labor upon Mother Earth produces wages” and collect a salary of 100 dollars. Other squares on the board required players to pay tax, buy necessities, or take a Chance card. In one corner of the board was a square bearing the warning: “No trespassing. Go to jail.” This space, she explained in an article for the Single Tax Review, was owned by a British lord and represented “foreign ownership of American soil.” Anyone who landed there would be sent to the jail in the diagonally opposite corner of the board where they would stay until they rolled a double or paid a $50 fine. The final corner square contained a public park and the poor house where bankrupted players would be sent. Players could only leave the poor house if another player lent them enough money to clear their debts. After players had gone around the board a fixed number of times the game would end and the player with the most money would be declared the winner. More…
Forget far-right populism – crypto-anarchists are the new masters
by Jamie Bartlett
Posted June 25, 2017
Those who mistakenly thought 2016 was an anomaly, a series of unprecedented events, should have few remaining doubts. Marine Le Pen may have stuttered but still picked up almost 11 million votes. Her opponent, the “normal” candidate, was leader of a party only one year old. The ongoing terror attacks, fake news panic, Trump’s tweets and James Comey: last year never really ended, it just carried straight on into this one.
After decades of exaggerated prediction, the internet is finally transforming politics, but not in the way the digital prophets expected. The 90s, you may recall, were awash with optimism about our online future: limitless information and total connection would make us more informed, less bigoted and kinder citizens.
But the internet is an overwhelming mess of competing facts, claims, blogs, data, propaganda, misinformation, investigative journalism, charts, different charts, commentary and reportage. It’s not the slow and careful politicians who have thrived in this busy environment, it’s the people with the shareable cut-through messages. Donald Trump might very well be the first truly social-media politician: his emotion-filled, simplistic blasts are perfect for the medium. More…
How Prison Labor is the New American Slavery and Most of Us Unknowingly Support it
By Sara Burrows
Posted June 24, 2017
If you buy products or services from any of the 50 companies listed below (and you likely do), you are supporting modern American slavery. American slavery was technically abolished in 1865, but a loophole in the 13th Amendment has allowed it to continue “as a punishment for crimes” well into the 21st century. Not surprisingly, corporations have lobbied for a broader and broader definition of “crime” in the last 150 years. As a result, there are more (mostly dark-skinned) people performing mandatory, essentially unpaid, hard labor in America today than there were in 1830.
With 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prison population, the United States has the largest incarcerated population in the world. No other society in history has imprisoned more of its own citizens. There are half a million more prisoners in the U.S. than in China, which has five times our population. Approximately 1 in 100 adults in America were incarcerated in 2014. Out of an adult population of 245 million that year, there were 2.4 million people in prison, jail or some form of detention center. The vast majority – 86 percent – of prisoners have been locked up for non-violent, victimless crimes, many of them drug-related. More…
Lessons from George Orwell’s ‘1984’
By Ethan Indigo Smith
Posted June 19, 2017
“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” — George Orwell
Using a practice so well-defined by Orwell that it is known today as Orwellian speak, institutions transfer and confuse words and ideas by mixing up themselves, their policies and their products with patriotic ideas and words. They take the meaning of words and archetypes, and flip them on their heads: War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength, and true patriotism (such as that shown by government whistleblowers) is traitorous.
1984 is in part an expose on the four basic types of people in a society, the four types of institutions and the four types of institutional lies that enable them.
Characterized by how they respond to information, modern societies are made up of four archetypes of people — idiots, zealots, elitists and patriots. More…
The Top 3 Reasons Why the System Keeps Perpetuating Itself
by Makia Freeman
Posted June 16, 2017
The System, The Matrix, The Establishment – whatever name you call it by – seems to keep perpetuating itself no matter what. Puppet politicians come and go, but the System they serve remains fully in place, long after many of these misleaders and control freaks have used up their 5 minutes of fame by bossing people around.
Yes, the System appears to continue no matter what. Why? The reasons are to be found embedded in our psychology. Our unconscious mental attitudes and beliefs shape the world. To dethrone the tyrant from the outside world, you must must remove him from your mind. This is where we need to start if we truly wish to transition from a society based on monopolistic governmental force to one based on voluntary exchange and association. Below are the top 3 reasons why the System perpetuates itself. More…
Hiding the Ugly Business of Torture
by Ray McGovern
Posted June 13, 2017
So, you did not believe in the power of the Deep State? Well, you may change your mind after reading a report in The New York Times that the powers-that-be in Washington are about to deep-six the 6,700-page Senate report based on original CIA cables and other documents that not only depict savage torture practices during the George W. Bush era, but also show that CIA officials consistently lied in claiming these heinous practices yielded information of any intelligence value.
In what amounts to a gross violation of the public trust – not to mention his oath to the Constitution – Senate Intelligence Committee chair, Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, has recalled all copies and will put the report under lock and key for good – dismissing it as a “footnote in history.”
The only hope for those of us who want to see torturers held accountable is that some patriotic truthteller has – or will – put the report on a thumb drive and send it off to WikiLeaks or some other brave outlet that will publish it. More…
A tax on Wall Street trading is the best solution to income inequality
By Dean Baker
Posted June 12, 2017
In the years since the 2008 economic crisis, financial transactions taxes (FTTs) have gone from a fringe idea to a policy that is in mainstream policy debates. They are seen as a way to both raise large amounts of money and to slow the pace of churning in financial markets. For this reason, most progressive Democrats have come out in support, and even the Clinton campaign provided a hat-tip to some form of taxation on high frequency trading.
This is a welcome change from where things stood before the crisis, when the only people supporting FTTs were the far left of the party. As a long-time proponent of an FTT, I welcome this change, but even many of the proponents of FTTs don’t realize the full benefits of such a tax. More…
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