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Gender: Male
Hometown: Orlando
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 12,151

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Bit Malthusian, maybe?

Growth is endemic to all Earth's life forms, but so far, nothing else has devoured the entire planet, and I think it's a little self-aggrandizing to imagine we are the exception.

Not to say we couldn't wreck the whole thing with a nuclear war or by further damaging the oceans, but growth alone isn't going to kill us all, or make life impossible.

Populations self-regulate, to some degree, with or without "misery and vice." Crude birth rates have been dropping since the 1950s.

And I don't think it's energy that's going to put the brakes on. Even without a breakthrough like nuclear fusion, solar, wind and other renewables are right in front of us.

Water and climate change will bring crisis first and hardest, I think.

And while I agree capitalism's model of constant, unlimited growth is a problem, I don't think a drastically different social or economic system of any kind has an answer to limited resources or human short-sightedness. If there is such a system, nothing people are talking about now fits the bill.

But we will find better ways to allocate resources, or the physical laws of the universe will pull us up short.

I don't see Earth's human population finding a peaceful, sustainable balance with Nature any time soon, but an apocalpyse based on just projecting current trends failed Malthus and Marx both. We bent the curve before hitting the wall head-on.

We'll be pushed, pulled, and dragged toward sustainable systems as we go.

How well we adapt and harmonize with those forces will determine how violent or how peaceably that occurs, but based on history so far, I'd bet on a lot of small-to-medium catastrophes over a gigantic, inevitable "splat," or the rise massively draconian cultural or political change designed to fix everything.

One strength of this point is that it perfectly illustrates

… an UPWARD conduit for "redistributing wealth," the phrase that so enrages workaday conservatives in this country.

We funnel wealth upward constantly, through big government contracts, through tax laws with loopholes available only to the rich, with job and education opportunities available only to the wealthy and connected, and nary a peep from these people.

But give a kid a hot breakfast at a public school, and suddenly it's Big Government Reaching Into My Pocket.

These huge companies with their MBA-think philosophy of ever-decreasing costs always come back to their labor force as a way to push next quarter's profit graph a little higher. It's unsustainable, and as people are now pointing out more and more, it not only stifles the economy by depressing consumer spending on the part of underpaid workers, but increases the burden on the meager social safety nets we do have by creating more and more "working poor."

It's not question of whether we should "redistribute wealth." That's what an economy and a civilization does. That's how this works. The question is where we distribute it, for what purpose, and what we as a whole society get out of it.

This is Maher at his best -- making cogent points that should be obvious, but that we don't talk about.

Or the nutty stuff could be intensifying because

... it's increasingly threatened.

Just spitballing, but I think, first of all, these things are cyclical.

Secondly, crazy talk has fewer and fewer places to hide. Sure, there's more of it in terms of sheer volume, but there's also more avenues for the truth to be revealed.

The rise of worldwide digital communication has been a many-edged sword, culturally. One big change has been that information is now a) ubiquitous and b) less filtered.

But notice how people -- not all, mind you, but maybe enough -- grow a little wiser, a little at a time?

Remember when you'd get at least one e-mail per week from an acquaintance or co-worker, warning of giant Toilet Spiders or HIV- tainted needles in gas pumps?

How long can sheer mythology or big lies hold out, in the long run?

And every time we get something right, it sticks, at least a little. Going to be hard to say gay marriage is an existential threat to civilization anymore. Now it's going to be a little harder to say we can do without government, or that healthcare reform is Devil worship.

Maybe I'm just optimistic tonight.

But I think we are staggering toward sanity. Insanity doesn't like that, so we'll be hearing its noisy complaints louder than ever for a while.

There's no question this administration has abused the Espionage Act

like no other.

Despite promises to strengthen protections for whistleblowers, the Obama administration has launched an aggressive crackdown on government employees who have leaked national security information to the press.

With charges filed against NSA leaker Edward Snowden this June, the administration has brought a total of seven cases under the Espionage Act, which dates from World War I and criminalizes disclosing information “relating to the national defense.” Prior to the current administration, there had been only three known casesresulting in indictments in which the Espionage Act was used to prosecute government officials for leaks.


It's indefensibly wrong, and directly counter to Obama's talk about transparency.

It is their monster. The "Gov't is Bad" Monster.

"Government is bad / can't do anything" is a marketing trope conservatives use when they want to get rid of things like regulation or environmental protection, or government services that compete with some business like mail delivery or retirement savings. Or when government is preventing them from doing something horrible they want to do to people, like enslave them or keep them from voting.

But these new guys, and the people voting them into office, just take "Bad Old Government" at face value. They actually think we should get rid of it. They're talking up just trying things with no federal government for a while.

Reminds me of creepy kid in my junior high school, who used to carry a knife. I heard him telling his friends once that you can "just stab someone in the stomach," and it wouldn't hurt them that badly. I wondered if any of them ever tried that theory out; ended up murdering someone in a playground fight.

Maybe they went to Congress instead.
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