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Feb 08 2014

Blow it out your ass, Sam Zell

That title is the mildest phrase that ran through my mind listening to billionaire real estate investor whining about how the rich are so fucking persecuted.

The one percent work harder, the one percent are much bigger factors in all forms of our society

Good god. I’d like to introduce Sam Zell to my father, who spent most of his life living well below the poverty line, working overtime just to bring in enough money to feed his kids. He spent his years working with heavy machinery all day long (or sometime all night long, when he was stuck on a night shift); he would come home with hands caked with grease and oil, his back aching, often barely able to move until he had to rise for the next shift. He didn’t have a nice suit. He didn’t get to go out to expensive restaurants for over-priced meals. He didn’t fly first class everywhere — he didn’t fly anywhere, period.

And this smug asshole declares that he works so much harder than everyone else; that my father earned $10,000/year while Sam Zell gets billions because that’s what they deserve.

I’d like to introduce him to my father, but I can’t, because years of hard labor as a blue-collar grunt had their toll, and he’s dead.

Keep opening your mouths, you privileged coddled rich fuckwads. Marie Antoinette had nothing on the American upper class. If there is a revolution, what’s going to drive it is the arrogance of these parasites.

107 comments

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  1. 1
    Kan Enas

    I’m not a vengeful person; I’m certainly not violent. And I’m definitely against the death penalty.

    I ask you then: why do I have fantasies involving guillotines when I hear billionaire assholes whine about how awful and unappreciative we are to them?

  2. 2
    PZ Myers

    I know! I’m a pacifist, think violence is never a good solution, but these people leave me shaking with rage and considering the possibility that firing squads aren’t that bad an idea. And then I have to talk myself down. It’s disturbing…and I start thinking that maybe some of those revolutions were comprehensible after all.

  3. 3
    Lynna, OM

    So Sam Zell’s take on the world of work and money is that guts and instinct will win out over, say, Harvard.

    Sam loves himself and only his fellow billionaires come even close to being as admirable as he is. No empathy. Very little attention to facts.

  4. 4
    LykeX

    The rich like to think that they work harder because it justifies their wealth. It makes them feel that they deserve what they have, so they don’t have to feel sorry about not giving any money to the homeless person they pass on the way out of the restaurant where they spent a month’s pay on a single meal.

    The poor like to think that the rich work harder because it makes them think that they can be rich too if they just work at it. It let’s them think that they’re different from all those other poor people, because they’re hard-working and sensible. It helps them to pretend that the system isn’t rigged against them and that some day, it’ll all be better.

    Now, I’m sure that some rich people work very hard, perhaps even many of them do. However, they’re not rich because they work hard and the richer you get, the less important hard work becomes.

  5. 5
    PZ Myers

    I am wealthier and more secure than my father, and I know that I don’t work anywhere as near as hard as he did. I have my share of aches and pains as I grow older, but I know I don’t suffer as much as he did. I remember the callouses on his hands and the lines in his face and the scars he carried, and I know that in comparison I have the soft hands of a child and the life of desk worker.

    I’ve never had to work two jobs to just make ends meet. If I had to do the manual labor I did as a teenager, and that my father did for his whole life, I’d just melt into a quivering ball of helplessness. And for some reason, I get paid a comfortable middle-class wage and he got treated as disposable meat.

  6. 6
    Lynna, OM

    Someone needs to look into Sam Zell the way Chris Hayes looked at Bill O’Reilly. There’s bound to be some kind of privilege or leg up in Zell’s past, something for which he takes personal credit undeservedly.

    Chris Hayes talks about Ezra Klein about the affluent. http://www.msnbc.com/all-in/watch/the-affluenza-epidemic-141911619998

  7. 7
    doubtthat

    Set aside whether Sam Zell worked harder or whether he was more fortunate, it is just demonstrably false that the 1%, as a group, work harder.

    Let’s assume Sam Zell really is a working fiend. Great. Is his wife? His kids? His grandkids? His extended family that he put on the payroll?

    As much of a commie as I am, I have less of a problem with Bill Gates and Oprah (in a wealth sense) than I do with the Walton family and the Rockefellers. Sam Zell may or may not have worked hard, but he will be able to create generations of totally useless people, all members of the 1%.

    Of course, Sam Zell didn’t work harder than the other thousands of people in his profession or harder than teachers and janitors and whoever else, but legacies are a much bigger problem. I would almost be in favor of keeping the top tax rate low like it is and just institute insanely harsh inheritance and estate taxes. If you make the money, awesome, enjoy it, but you better direct where it goes before you shuffle off because your coke-huffing progeny aren’t going to be allowed to wallow in unearned wealth.

  8. 8
    carlie

    I would love for every millionaire and higher to have to spend one week working like an average person. One week. Here’s the schedule:
    Monday: picker at an online distribution fulfillment center
    Tuesday: assembly line, the kind where you have to move stuff around (not push buttons for robots to do it)
    Wednesday: slaughterhouse floor janitor
    Thursday: restaurant waitstaff
    Friday: hotel cleaning service
    Saturday: fast food cook

    Each of them being 10 hour shifts, all in a row for no recovery time between. Just once.

  9. 9
    mikeconley

    I start thinking that maybe some of those revolutions were comprehensible after all.

    They are all comprehensible. Whether all — or any — of them worked out as they should have is another question. But given the utter arrogance and cluelessness of the elites they overthrew, they are all perfectly understandable. As will the next one be, except by those who are marched to the scaffold, because they are simply not able to comprehend anything except their own desires and lust for power.

    Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.

  10. 10
    HappyNat

    They have convinced themselves they must have earned all that money because they have all that money. Why else would I be rich if I didn’t deserve to be rich? It’s a circular argument that many people buy into and it’s why they scream “class warfare” when income disparity if brought up. I think they buy into this argument because if they actually thought about it they would realize what horrible greedy hateful people they are. They might have to try and better themselves or something terrible like that, instead they blame the 99% for being jealous.

  11. 11
    Marcus Ranum

    Zell appears to have gotten his start in life from parents who fled to the US from Germany, before the war. Then he got his extreme wealth by buying and selling companies – that sure is hard work.

  12. 12
    Doubting Thomas

    I’m sure there were plenty of folks during the French and Russian Revolutions that abhorred the violence inflicted on the privileged classes. As there will be when the masses come for Zell and his friends. Its those whom the 1% wanted to keep uneducated and ignorant who will storm the Bastille and man the Guillotines.

  13. 13
    rogerfirth

    Let’s hope these poor little rich boys keep publicly whining about their sad lot in life, and let’s hope that enough of the 99% get pissed enough to do something about it SOON ENOUGH to avoid the US turning into all-out oligarchy. We’re well on our way, and at some point we’ll pass the point of no return if we don’t do something.

  14. 14
    Artor

    The richest man I know has probably a few hundred million in assets. He’s mostly retired now, but he, at least, worked very hard to attain what he has. Mostly not physical work, but he was an inventor, and taught himself electronics and engineering. However, he also went out of his way to structure his business in order to help as many people as possible. He bought up buildings in his tiny mountain locale, and paid good wages to refurbish them and provide the maximum number of jobs in a depressed rural community. He also regularly gave multi-thousand-dollar gifts to needy people in his area, no questions asked. He didn’t have the greatest people skills, but he’s an exceptionally good guy to the core. However, he would be disgusted by some jerkoff like Sam Zell or Tom “Krystallyacht” Perkins.

  15. 15
    kevinalexander

    My fantasy doesn’t involve any violence on my part.
    It goes like this: The one percenters are holed up in the upper floors of Wall Street skyscrapers while a baying mob roll up the tumbrils all around.
    Just when it looks hopeless for them, Army Rangers swoop in in helicopters and carry them to the safety of an impenetrable bunker in Martha’s Vineyard and explain to them that, for their safety, the doors are being welded shut from the outside.
    Sam Zell calls out “There’s been a mistake! We have a fully equipped kitchen, knives and cooking pots and such, but there’s no FOOD!”
    Colonel Chavez of the Rangers, remembering his father who died of a stroke in a melon field, just laughs and says:
    “Ah shit, I knew I was forgetting something.”

  16. 16
    Artor

    I should add, however, that his son grew up rich, and has a terminal case of affluenza. While doing some work for him, and trying to feed my family, I occasionally got a song & dance routine; “Dude, I’m sorry, but I’m tapped out. Can I pay you for your work next week? (after my electricity has been shut off) Cool! But check out this new ATV I just got! It’s totally different from the other 3 I already have!” He tried to be a good guy, but had no idea of the depth of his privilege, or how other people managed not being millionaires.

  17. 17
    ludicrous

    How can they have no idea how sickening they are? How can they be that brain dead? Boggles.

    By running between houses my father could finish his meter reading route by early afternoon, then sell used cars in the afternoon and evening, sometimes not getting home till 10pm. On Friday and Saturday nights he drove cab. In December in MN, nobody sold any cars so he rented a lot and sold Xmas trees. I remember one Xmas eve by dark we put the last two scrawny trees out on the sidewalk and went home. I remember it because tears flow whenever I think of how hard he worked for us. He never complained and I didn’t realize until many years later how scary those days must have been for him.

  18. 18
    closeted

    As Bill Maher put it, not to Zell, but somebody making a similar argument a while back:

    If hard work was a guarantee of success, trust me, this nation would be run by a bunch of Mexican guys with leaf blowers.

  19. 19
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    I only wish them taxes. And an upper limit to how much profit they are allowed to make, in relation to how much their lowest paying employee is getting.

  20. 20
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Y’know, if being rich is so bloody hard, as we keep getting told, I have to wonder… why don’t they just give it all to charity, and opt for a nice easy life?

  21. 21
    kevinalexander

    I would make a rule that the highest paid person in any business got paid a set percentage of the total payroll. That way the only way he could raise his own pay would be to hire more people or pay more to the ones he has–or both.

  22. 22
    zenlike

    There are just so many hours in a day, and there are physical limits on what a person can do in that amount of time.

    Let’s say every single one of the 99% only work 7 hours a day for 5 days and Sam Zell works 20 hours per day for 7 days.

    Let’s say every single one of the 99% are layabouts who do the minimal amount of work in that time, and that Sam Zell work super efficient and does 100 times the amount of work in the same time.

    That still means that Sam Zell works ‘just’ 400 times harder (which is also impossible, but let’s follow this logic).

    Sam Zell is worth 4 billion. Are us slackers worth on average 400 times less, which is 0,01 billion? Of course not.

    Also, it is important to note that Sam Zell isn’t even part of the 1%, he is a 0,000033386%er.

  23. 23
    razzlefrog

    Awwwwwwwwwww! But PZ, be more kind! Here we have these poor people who work all of .0012 hours a week and are forced to subsist on a meager 453 billion dollars a year!

  24. 24
    wondering

    Remember when the popular phrasing was “the idle rich and the industrious poor”? There was a time that it was generally recognized that the poor worked very, very hard just to make a living. And the rich, well, the rich did not, because it was their money doing all the work.

  25. 25
    Pierce R. Butler

    Hey, if Zell doesn’t have it so rough, how come he’s just one voice in a chorus singing the billionaire blues?

  26. 26
    burninglove

    I think at this point a revolution is inevitable.

    I’m worried about a few of the details though. Obama put a bandaid on a very large problem and then tried to negotiate with people who hated him until he lost a total majority in Congress, which means he basically passed up his chance to be the FDR of our time. The problem with this is that if a crash happens now, even if it’s related to the Householes holding everything hostage, in November the House and Senate would be taken by Republicans.

    Even worse, in 2016, it’s very likely that the Republicans would get their wish and have a total majority.

    One of two things is for sure in this scenario: either the Republicans would definitely not end up with a total majority in 2020, or we wouldn’t make it to 2020 without a revolution.

    I think it’s really likely that it’s about to hit the fan. I’m no psychic but I’ve gotten a few things right over the years. I made a number of predictions related to market conditions using historical trends on December 31st, and right now there are six of them all hinging on what happens to the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

    1) Crash to slightly below 15,500 around the 3rd (correct)
    2) A jump to around 16,000 around the 10th (we’re at almost 15,800 right now)
    3) Slight drop leading to the 14th
    4) Tanking to below 13,500 on the 25th
    5) Jump to almost 14,500 on the 28th
    6) Back to 13,500 for the 3rd of March

    All dates +/- 3 days, which isn’t that big of a margin of error when you’re dealing with numbers like these. As a side note, when the market closed before starting to go up again it closed just below 15,400, from a high of 16,700. When I say around 16,000, I mean probably between 15,900 and 16,100.

    Now okay, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, I just noticed some kind of pattern in the numbers I can’t explain. If you charted the Dow Jones out over a number of months, it looks a surprising amount like 1929. I had these ideas beforehand, but charting them out is what convinced me things are about to get serious.

    So hey, if the economy tanks in 17 days, remember this. A drop of 20% in less than 3 months would be nothing short of catastrophic, because there’s no doubt it would set off a chain reaction. There are no more bandaids. And we know nobody is doing a damn thing to fix our market-based uncertainties.

    On the flipside, I’m of the opinion that a crash should happen sooner rather than later. People will die and things will get really bad, but a peaceful revolution was made impossible by the conspirators and Kochsuckers. They denied us our moment, a real solution, so I guess the only solution left will be revolution.

    Will we, in that case, take a wrong turn towards fascism or will we go the right way, to the left?

    Time will tell. Maybe sooner than we thought. It’s no wonder Zell and people like him are getting louder and more publicly worried. They tried to swindle us and now they’re the ones about to get burned.

  27. 27
    mikeyb

    America is a large scale Banana republic. Instead of selling bananas we sell banking, oil, pharmaceuticals, heath insurance, football, weapons, etc., etc., whatever can make a quick and consistent buck. The super rich and corporations who buy elections need to keep the populace focused on squabbling about the evils of welfare queens, disability cheats, voter fraud and other miniscule fables to keep the masses distracted about what’s really going on. Another fable is if you work hard you’ll get ahead, meaning that if you are not rich, you are a lazy bum and are responsible for your state in life, and should deserve no sympathy from anyone. Like the prols in 1984, a combination of myths and entertainment will keep enough of the masses in line so that nothing substantive ever will get done, to stop the money making racket at the expense of most of us stopped or even seriously questioned. If you have a TV set, a refridgerator and an internet connection, you should have nothing to complain about, right?

  28. 28
    ludicrous

    How can they not know that their whining is counterpructive, just riles folks all the more. May as well ask how a frozen heart pumps blood.

    I hope they keep it up.

  29. 29
    Amphiox

    Some of these one preventers make over 204 times as much as an average person.

    Does anyone know what their metabolic costs would have to be to work 204 times harder than average?

    I want to know if the residual heat from this would be enough to make them spontaneously combust.

  30. 30
    barbyau

    Let’s put this to a thought experiment. Let’s make it so that we give the 99% a year’s supply of everything they need to survive and then allow then to stop working. And let’s see exactly how hard the 1% work and what exactly the create that adds to society. There are lots of people down in the bottom 99% who actually MAKE things that society needs. Food, shelter, stuff like that.

    Sitting on a yacht, yelling BUY! SELL! into a phone isn’t working hard and it isn’t doing anything for society. And we’d find that out real fast if the rest of us stopped working. But if the 1% stopped working? I imagine things would keep on chugging along much like they already are.

  31. 31
    Quodlibet

    I’m glad that I have no idea who Sam Zell is, and I’m not going to waste time or bandwidth to find out. I know all I need (or want) to know simply by what’s quoted in the OP. I spit on him and his ilk.
    .

    But I did know my dad, who, like Dr Myers’ father, did back-breaking, deafening (literally) work so that his family might be fed, sheltered, warmed, and educated. I, too, remember him coming home exhausted, dirty, grease engrained into his hands and nails, numb with exhaustion. He ran his own small manufacturing business; he was out of the house before we awoke, and came home late at night to eat and sleep before rising at dawn to do it again. He worked harder than anyone I’ve known, except perhaps for those of my siblings who were/are small farmers, caring for animals and land so that others might eat wholesome food. And my mother, who chose to work as a home-maker, was his equal partner and lover, making a home for us all from his earnings.
    .

    My dad was also the most honest person I’ve ever known. He never cheated anyone, or, to my knowledge, lied or took advantage of others. He taught us to respect the truth, and to be our best selves in whatever line of work we aspired to. He was good to my mother, and she to him, and together they set an example of a good loving partnership. Our house was shabby and threadbare, but with my parents there, it was a good home. I feel very fortunate to have been born to them.
    .

    Hmmm….. I guess that though we were poor, we were rich in the things that mattered.
    .

    ludicrous @17: “He never complained and I didn’t realize until many years later how scary those days must have been for him.”
    .

    QFT!!

  32. 32
    mikeconley

    ‘Crush humanity out of shape once more, under similar hammers, and it will twist itself into the same tortured forms. Sow the same seed of rapacious licence and oppression over again, and it will surely yield the same fruit according to its kind.’

    - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Book 3, Chapter 13.

  33. 33
    kevinalexander

    There are lots of people down in the bottom 99% who actually MAKE things that society needs. Food, shelter, stuff like that.

    .
    Are you suggesting that the people who work for a living making stuff and providing services are the actual wealth creators?! Seriously!?
    .
    THAT’S COMMIE TALK!!
    .
    Even if Adam Smith did say it first.

  34. 34
    ougaseon

    I find it more helpful to talk about actual dollars, rather than how many times more money a billion dollars is than average. So here’s how colossally rich having a billion dollars makes you:

    Life expectancy in the US is 78.64 years. A billion dollars allows you to spend $38,835 every day for your entire life. Without a single penny in additional income. That’s more than I make in a year.

    Median annual household income in the US is about $52,000. An individual with a billion dollars can spend that every year for 19,230 years. If they felt the need to spend the annual income of the median US household every day, they could do so for 52 years, 8 months, and 7 days.

  35. 35
    Rey Fox

    Inheriting money and investing is REALLY hard work.

  36. 36
    Gregory Greenwood

    If there is a revolution, what’s going to drive it is the arrogance of these parasites.

    Sadly, and all idle vengeance fantasies aside, if there were to be an attempted revolution, the likely outcome would be that the xian infested police force, secret police ‘domestic intelligence agencies’, and perhaps the military in the US could probably be counted upon to gun the would be revolutionaries down in droves with high end military grade weaponry, and then to plant a few weapons or bomb belts on the corpses and call it counter terrorism. And after that, the mass arrests and water-boarding in the name of ‘defending the American way of life’ would begin in earnest. We might even catch the contagion over here in the UK. Cameron does so love to follow where America leads in all things, afterall…

    The system is so rigged and so corrupt now, and modern technology allows so few to kill so many, that the window for change acheived through popular force has probably passed in the US, and it seems likely that even if a popular revolutionary movement were prepared to walk the very dark path of using violence to try to effect social change, then the outcome would simply be a massacre of the would be revolutionaries, no matter what idiot gun-fondlers might believe about the ability that a relative handful of anti-personnel weapons in private hands supposedly have to protect constitutional freedoms.

    Attempting to change the system by peaceable efforts is the only option realistically open to the ninety nine percent. Unfortunately, that system is comprehensively rigged against the ordinary citizen, and its entire architecture is built around maintaining the unearned privilege of the elite. As a result, the road to change is going to be a long one indeed, even assuming that it is possible to acheive any lasting change at all.

    And even if we ignore all of that, there is an even more fundamental problem outlined by LykeX @ 4;

    The poor like to think that the rich work harder because it makes them think that they can be rich too if they just work at it. It let’s them think that they’re different from all those other poor people, because they’re hard-working and sensible. It helps them to pretend that the system isn’t rigged against them and that some day, it’ll all be better.

    That is the biggest obstacle to any change in the system – the pernicious lie of the ‘American Dream’; the bad joke that the US is some notional ‘land of opportunity’ where anyone can succeed, no matter their background or personal circumstances. The poisonous, ubiquitous notion that if they can just dream big enough, praise jeebus loudly enough, and work hard enough, then in defiance of the obvious fact that the only way that the few can become so obscenely rich is if the majority remain relatively poor (and that the 1% have long since ensured that the system is rigged to make the rich richer by means of grinding the poor into ever greater privation), then they too will join the ranks of the Olympians one day.

    Of course, this almost never actually happens, but the promise of it is enough to stop people from taking the time to realise how exploited they really are. And of course, in those rare cases where it actually does come to pass and some ordinary person acheives vast wealth, then it is a sad aspect of human nature that their first action is to do all they can to slam the door behind them rather than trying to effect any meaningful redistribution of wealth.

    Until this changes, until the American Dream can be exposed as the shackle around the neck of the average citizen that it really is, then the ultra rich in society won’t even need their gun-toting thugs since most people will prefer the fantasy of somehow ‘making it big’ one day to the difficulties of tackling the actual iniquities of modern society.

    Welcome to the modern equivalent of bread and circuses.

    ————————————————————————

    Wow. I really am a ray of sunshine today, aren’t I?

  37. 37
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    carlie @8:
    Oh godz yes!

  38. 38
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Gregory Greenwood:

    Wow. I really am a ray of sunshine today, aren’t I?

    Yup.
    Sadly, I think you’re correct.

  39. 39
    ludicrous

    Quodlibet @31

    “ludicrous @17: “He never complained and I didn’t realize until many years later how scary those days must have been for him.”
    .QFT!!”

    Then when my youngest sister was 2 years old my mom got cancer. There was no medical insurance in those days. I don’t know how he managed to persevere but he did.

    Much as I am pissed at Obummer for not going for medicare for all, there are now millions who don’t have to be scared to death at losing their job’s medical insurance.

  40. 40
    cartomancer

    There seems to be one aspect of this conversation that frequently gets ignored – Why is mindless, brute hard work still being praised as a universal good in itself? Surely the state we should be aiming for is one in which as few people as possible have to work hard, and the work is as easy and pleasant as it possibly can be? Surely it is better if we get things done easily and painlessly and with plenty of time left over in which to enjoy ourselves? If there is no other way to get something done apart from hard work then surely that work should be spread among many hands to make it lighter? Sure, if someone has no other choice but to run themself ragged with work then it should be seen as noble and praiseworthy that they do so – but the fact still remains that something has failed in society to create that situation and remove more pleasant options in the first place.

    Max Weber noted it in his Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Most people, at least in Northern Europe and America, still attach a kind of religious awe to the notion of toil and exertion for its own sake. Weber noted that it seems to stem from a kind of asceticism at the heart of the social outlook – that toil and the denial of pleasure, earning money through effort and hoarding it rather than spending it on yourself – is strongly equated with moral rectitude in such societies. Not working is “lazy”, rather than “fortunate”, because it means you are devoting your time to enjoying yourself and not slogging away as you’re supposed to be in the name of moral rectitude. It’s a very religious notion at heart. It’s not really about being “productive” in an economic sense (because some work is much more productive than other work) – it’s about honouring the notion that busy hands are godly hands, and the devil makes work for them when they’re idle. It’s a secularised form of penance and devotional works and self-mortification. It’s exactly the same rationale behind monasticism.

    Though, of course, it’s a notion that pre-dates even christianity. It can be found in Hesiod’s Works and Days for instance. But that’s the thing – Hesiod’s world was a simple, largely pre-urban one of small farming villages, where there was no other option for survival and prosperity than hard work. It’s an independent peasant farmer’s ethic, which does not belong in a modern, technological society with aspirations to progress and the betterment of people’s lives through social reform.

  41. 41
    kreativekaos

    I’d like to introduce him to my father,…–PZ Myers.
    For remarks and views like those expressed by these greedy and arrogant assholes, I’d like to introduce him (and others of the upper 1%-2% class) to the working end of a baseball bat.

  42. 42
    ludicrous

    Gregory @ 36,

    I agree with you that the phony american dream is big part of it. Another big part is the bread and games. TeeVeee, ball games, films, plentiful distractions. Now I think that in the US at least they are allowing the drug wars to wind down some so the sheeple can be even more zoned out and less troublesome.

  43. 43
    carlie

    kreativekaos – violence isn’t a good answer.

  44. 44
    anuran

    PZ, the Sikhs used to be pacifists. They still hold it as an ideal which is one of the reasons they’re vegetarians. But they learned its practical limits caught between Muslims and Hindus who both hated them for not being Muslim or Hindu.

    The degree of inequity and the increasing control “conservatives” and “libertarians” and other useful idiots of the very, very rich has made peaceful methods of improving conditions extremely difficult. The “emerging markets” such as China, India, Thailand and Vietnam have seen enormous increases in wealth and productivity without the development of a large, prosperous middle class. Almost all the wealth accrues to the very rich. Organized Labor has been destroyed worldwide. Democracy has become the ritual holding of elections where one candidate owned by the Important People squares off against another candidate owned by the Important People.

    We may be entering an era where there are no peaceful options. Then we will see if President Kennedy was correct when he said “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

  45. 45
    peanutcat

    What a WATB!

  46. 46
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    I think that the problem is that our society has made it possible for people to accumulate vast sums of money and power while possessing the morals of sociopaths. We need a better class of rich person.

  47. 47
    bionichips

    In my retirement financially as they say “I am comfortable.” I worked very, very hard as a SW developer and it was “very, very good to me” (Garret Morris – SNL). But I never, ever worked as hard as I did in a rendering plant one summer. (Look it up if you don’t know what it is – it gave me a lifetime of credibility with blue collar workers). And as I worked there I was smart enough to know, I was there for the summer between college and grad school and I would never have to work like that again.Unlike the people I worked with who were condemned to a life time of work like that. If Sam Zell thinks he works harder than I did or the people I worked with did he is willfully ignorant. 24 hour days programming were a picnic compared to one shift at the rendering plant.

    I have a double major BA, 2 masters degrees, countless continuing ed courses not to mention a lifetime of self study. To this day I regard the summer I worked in the rendering plant as the most educational 2 months of my life. I came away convinced everybody should once in their lives work a smelly, dirty shitty job to see how the other half lives.

    And reading some of the comments here, I know I had it good. Food was always on the table, clothes on my back, and a warm place to stay.

    Oh, yes – I love Undercover Boss. It is truly amazing how disconnected the senior managers are from the workers. They simply cannot conceive of food on the table or worse issues. But at least to their credit, the senior managers on the show decide to get educated.

  48. 48
    unclefrogy

    I would not discount something like an “Orange Revolution” or an “Arab Spring” type of event though as we see it can not be a single event but a continuous change, eternal vigilance?
    Taking the rich up the hill in a manure cart my be cathartic but unless it is followed by real systematic change it will be just changing the players/cast the game or play will remain the same.
    The thing that would really piss the rich of would be instead of killing them which would mean nothing to them would be just to confiscate all of their wealth not just some of it. Use the money for what ever it is needed for.
    Just how would it hurt society if their were no supper rich? No supper rich real estate developers, investors, bankers , mega corporation CEO’s or even mega corporations at all ?

    uncle frogy

  49. 49
    Onamission5

    My mom didn’t make hardly a dollar at her work when I was a kid. Raising rabbits and chickens, turning a half acre’s worth of soil by hand and carting out the rocks in a wheelbarrow until such time as she could borrow a tiller without breaking the tines, sewing our clothes, growing our food, canning, freezing, and storing away foodstuffs for the cold season, bartering with neighbors for our milk. Not hardly a dollar, except for the brief period when she cleaned house for other people in addition to cleaning house for her own family.

    I guess she was just too fucking lazy to learn proper work ethic.

    Same would go for my stepdad. Especially during that time he was laid up for a full year collecting disability after getting tossed through the lumber yard by a loose grapple hook to the back of the brain. So lazy, no sense of hard work whatsoever.

  50. 50
    The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs)

    @43 carlie:

    violence isn’t a good answer.

    Quite true. Unfortunately, if you actually pay attention to the history of the last fifty years or so, the history of the labor movement, or the history of revolutions, it has become abundantly clear that lack of violence isn’t an “answer” at all. It isn’t working. It arguably never works to stop the rich and powerful when they get out of control. I can’t think of a single case in which nonviolence has ever worked as a negotiation tool against the rich and powerful when there wasn’t at least a credible threat of violence being used instead, can you?

    All it will take to stop at least an attempted violent revolution will be for the rich and powerful to make a substantial majority of the country think that it’s desirable for tomorrow to look pretty much like today. They can do that. They did it for decades. It’s only since Clinton left office that they stopped even bothering to try. They don’t have to provide luxuries or go around door to door shaking hands and kissing babies, they just have to keep from being too obvious when they steal from people and not get in the way when other people are trying to make things better. Instead, we’ve got a substantial chunk of the population who know they’re going to be killed by the current conditions imposed by the rich and powerful sooner or later so it might as well be sooner, and an increasing chunk of the population who are suddenly discovering that tomorrow isn’t going to look like today anyway because the rich and powerful are robbing them blind and tomorrow they’re going to be out on the street.

  51. 51
    anuran

    @50 The Vicar
    The New Deal gave us half a century of equity, a thriving middle class and social progress. It was done with little or no violence by the People. It was in large part intended to prevent violence.

  52. 52
    The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs)

    @51, anuran:

    The New Deal gave us half a century of equity, a thriving middle class and social progress. It was done with little or no violence by the People. It was in large part intended to prevent violence.

    The New Deal was passed because of a (fairly realistic) fear of popular revolt and Communist revolution. Credible threat of violence. Try again.

  53. 53
    Al Dente

    anuran @51

    Most 1930s conservatives realized that 25%+ unemployment was not sustainable in a representative democracy. Fascism in Italy and Germany came about because of that sort of economic condition. So conservatives held their noses and gave Roosevelt enough support to let him pass the New Deal legislation.

  54. 54
    mikeconley

    So conservatives held their noses and gave Roosevelt enough support to let him pass the New Deal legislation.

    They acquiesced because the alternative was that a lot of them might have ended up at the end of a rope.

  55. 55
    mikeconley

    Besides which, the idea that conservative, wealthy businessmen were worried about fascism is laughable.

  56. 56
    anuran

    @52
    Try working on your reading comprehension again when someone’s agreeing with you, dimwit. I said there was relatively little violence but the New Deal was to prevent violence.

  57. 57
    ck

    burninglove wrote:

    Kochsuckers

    Your rant is better without casual homophobia, please avoid it in the future.

  58. 58
    anuran

    @55 mikeconley

    Oh, the wealthy businessmen were worried about fascism. They were worried they might not achieve it in America in their lifetime. (Yes, I’m agreeing with you)

    Roosevelt treated them way too generously. He should have hanged the traitors so high the crows got nosebleeds trying to peck out their eyes.

  59. 59
    anuran

    @57 OK, ck, how about Koch-whores?

  60. 60
    Al Dente

    anuran @59

    How about not making any othering insults? Or is that too PC for you?

  61. 61
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    anuran #59
    No, slut shaming doesn’t help either.

  62. 62
    Jafafa Hots

    Billionaires are not job creators.
    Workers are billionaire creators.

    Being a billionaire should be considered a crime against humanity.

    Those are my mottoes.

  63. 63
    corporal klinger

    Try to imagine for a moment – every teacher, fire fighter, nurse, doctor, decent police officer, electrician, baker, mechanic, farmer etc. would somehow have vanished…………….and now imagine all those parasites somehow gone.
    I wonder which ones we would miss more??

    I also would really like to know, if something that has been written so far on this thread, some of the stories that have been told will ever be read by some of those onepercenters and what the reaction would be; mockery, insult, contempt, hate, fear?

    Thanks P.Z. and to everyone on this thread for sharing your stories. I loved my Dad too

  64. 64
    corporal klinger

    Bertolt Brecht

    Questions from A Worker Who Reads

    Who built Thebes of the seven gates?
    In the books you will find the name of kings.
    Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock?
    And Babylon, many times demolished.
    Who raised it up so many times? In what houses
    Of gold-glittering Lima did the builders live?
    Where, the evening that the Wall of China was finished
    Did the masons go? Great Rome
    Is full of triumphal arches. Who erected them? Over whom
    Did the Caesars triumph? Had Byzantium, much praised in song,
    Only palaces for its inhabitants? Even in fabled Atlantis
    The night the ocean engulfed it
    The drowning still bawled for their slaves.

    The young Alexander conquered India.
    Was he alone?
    Caesar beat the Gauls.
    Did he not have even a cook with him?
    Philip of Spain wept when his armada
    Went down. Was he the only one to weep?
    Frederick the Second won the Seven Years’ War. Who
    Else won it?

    Every page a victory.
    Who cooked the feast for the victors?
    Every ten years a great man.
    Who paid the bill?

    So many reports.
    So many questions.

    “Fragen eines lesenden Arbeiters” – translated by M. Hamburger
    from Bertolt Brecht, Poems 1913-1956, Methuen, N.Y., London, 1976

  65. 65
    Gregory Greenwood

    Not wishing to rain on anyone’s parade unduly, but leaving aside any practical problems with getting a revolution underway for the moment, it might also be a good idea to temper all this talk of revolution with a recognition that such things can go really wrong, really quickly. I once heard a comparison between a revolution and setting a fire in a forest – both things can very easily run out of control, and the people that start it can often be consumed by that which they create. I wonder if Robespierre ever expected to be executed on the orders of the revolutionary government he helped to create? Or if those among the Left wing thinkers who helped promote the revolutionary ideals in Russia only to later find themselves facing execution at the hands of their fellow revolutionaries saw it coming?

    The trouble with revolutions is that they, by their nature, are not limited or controlable things, and they are very vulnerable to being hijacked such that their original goal is lost, subsumed by another agenda. Just look at the anti-globalisation rallies whose leadership always has to struggle with elements who genuinely do seem to be there only to do as much damage as possible and steal whatever isn’t nailed down while they are at it. That angle is certainly overstated by biased media coverage in a bid to discredit the protests as a whole, but it would be naive to claim that the whole thing is a fabrication, and that there aren’t hangers on to such protest movements who have a less than noble reason for being there. Once you start the revolutionary ball rolling, people like that can become a very serious threat indeed.

    Then there is the problem of targetting the revolutionary ire solely at those who are responsible for the curent social maliase. We talk about the ’1%’, but how do you accurately define who deserves to feel the sharp end of the revolution? Is it simply a matter of raw wealth? In which case it seems a bit harsh to throw someone who has only just inherited a large amount of money to the wolves as if they have been crushing innocents under their heel for decades. It also seems very unlikely that the followers of a revolution sweeping through society are going to stop and carefully assess financial reports before acting. If you aren’t careful, anyone who is perceived – however unfairly – as being better off, unduly privileged, supporters of the elite, or simply lacking in sufficient revolutionary fervour could easily become a target on the basis of the notion that you are ‘either with us or against us’ (to ironically quote Shrub).

    As an example, how long would it be before at least some revolutionaries came to see universities not as seats of learning and advancement but rather as the lairs of ivory tower academics; children of privilege as much to blame for social ills as any wallstreet mogul? It would hardly be the first time that intellectuals became the targets of a revolution.

    And there will also always be those who would try to use a revolution as cover to settle old grudges and greivances, and promote existing prejudices, entirely unrelated to the original revolutionary ideals themsleves. As a case in point, I don’t think it would be very long before any revolution aimed at dismantling the power and privilege of the 1% began to attract anti-semites who would try to trade on the old stereotypes about Jewish people being unduly wealthy as a premise to use the revolution to promote their own bigotry.

    Then there is the problem of suddenly finding yourself insufficiently intellectually ‘pure’, as such things are defined by the more radical elements of a revolution, and any attempt to reign in their excesses could result in you finding yourself marked as a dangerous counter-revolutionary and thus winding up with your own neck on the chopping block.

    This really does sound like something of a careful what you wish for scenario to me. Revolutions on paper are often very different from the bloody, chaotic reality. The utmost care would have to be taken to avoid unleashing a new ‘reign of terror’ of our very own.

    And then there is still the most important question of all to address – what would we replace the current corrupt system with? Do we have a better option? How do we avoid the situation where all you do is shuffle the 1% around a bit, and create a new tiny minority of the super rich and privileged while the lot of most people remains unchanged or even worsens? How do you avoid a new crop of oligarchs and kleptocrats simply taking over where the last lot left off? Until we have an answer to that that at least most of us can agree on, any talk of revolution is entirely moot.

    ————————————————————————————-

    Sorry about all the negativity, but someone needs to be the naysayer around here, and the weather where I live is so utterly depressing that it just seems appropriate that it should be me.

  66. 66
    CaitieCat, in no way a robot nosireebot

    Well-said, PZ. My grandparents were a merchant seaman, a career infantryman, a school dinner-lady, and a factory seamstress. My father a mechanic, and my mother a bookkeeping clerk (from when she left school at 15).

    They all worked their asses off, as well as risking their lives in uniform during the war (an MTC driver and an antiaircraft spotter/rangefinder/communicator, were my grandmothers). None ever retired as such. My Granddad the merchant seaman died at sea at 55, chronic overwork and heart disease; my other Granddad worked as a postie after leaving the Argylls, before “retiring” as a part-time postie with Rolls-Royce until he died. My Nans both worked until they died in their late 70s.

    And if I added up every penny that all six of my direct ancestors earned with their endless labour, and rendered it in 2014 money, I’d be surprised if the six of them together had a cumulative lifetime income of CAD 3 000 000.

    Sam Zell lives off rents extracted from the USD 4 000 000 000 in wealth he claims title to.

    Does he honestly believe that he works (1333/6 =) 222 times harder than all six of my direct ancestors put together in their entire lives?

    If he does, then it’s even more mystifying how he manages to extract so much rent from his wealth, given his apparent inability to understand simple arithmetic.

    More reasonable and Occam-like to recognize that he’s a lying greed-head asshole, desperate to justify the unjustifiable obscenity of his worthless-to-society rentier-parasite life.

    I’ll lead the Forlorn Hope for the first assault. What have I got to lose anymore?

  67. 67
    Gregory Greenwood

    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop! @ 38;

    Sadly, I think you’re correct.

    I hear you – this is one of those times when I would much rather be wrong.

    ————————————————————————————————————————–

    ludicrous @ 42;

    I agree with you that the phony american dream is big part of it. Another big part is the bread and games. TeeVeee, ball games, films, plentiful distractions.

    Yup – anything to keep the masses quiescent and thus controllable. Distraction and manipulation are much cheaper and easier than openly ruling with an iron fist; that comes later, should the more cost-effective options prove insufficient.

    Now I think that in the US at least they are allowing the drug wars to wind down some so the sheeple can be even more zoned out and less troublesome.

    It’s the old story – much like terrorism, the drug trade is only a problem until it becomes useful to the ruling elite. Once upon a time it was useful as the convenient bogeyman that could function as a premise for expansionist, neo-imperial foreign policy. Now that terrorism has taken over that role, perhaps the drug trade has found a new niche as you suggest. People busy chasing the dragon are in no fit state to oppose their exploitation by the system, afterall…

  68. 68
    chrisv

    I don’t see where anyone has mentioned how the system uses Xians as a tool, having convinced them that it is the 1%’s that are protecting their right to give their lives to Jebus. Also, they have managed to convince “us” that it is they who understand how them “libs” continue to manipulate “them people” (you know who I mean) into taking advantage of “us”. Divide and conquer. Nothing new, but being done so much more efficiently.

  69. 69
    Azuma Hazuki

    So tired of people like him. I cannot, unfortunately, share PZ’s pacifism; I’m too damaged.

    The most frightening thing about this, to me, is that we’re mimicking the downfall of the Roman empire almost exactly in all the important particulars. We’re engaged in useless foreign wars, our manufacturing base is overseas, our upper class is decadent and frankly acts inbred and brain-damaged, and ordinary people are getting screwed.

    We can only hope we go down like the USSR, not like some other empires I can name.

  70. 70
    LykeX

    Besides which, the idea that conservative, wealthy businessmen were worried about fascism is laughable.

    Sure, as long as they’re running the show. However, what about a fascist state controlled by somebody else?

  71. 71
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Gregory Greenwood,

    You are a voice a reason among wannabe revolutionaries.

    There were protestors on the streets in Bosnia on Friday. They set fire to government buildings in several cities. They set fire to cars. They burned down the national archive which managed to survive three wars, but fell under wannabe revolutionaries.

    I don’t think much of wannabe revolutionaries. As my father commented the goings on in Bosnia, who’s going to lead the country if they bring down the government? They?! (as in, people who are willing to tear up the streets and burn their own infrastructure)

  72. 72
    zenlike

    Gregory Greenwood, as always, I fully agree with you.

    I think at this point the only way things can drastically change is by a revolution, but the chances of a revolution screwing over the exact people it sought to better is almost 100%.

    A revolution will ultimately end with a different small elite ruling class, not with a more egalitarian society.

    Revolutions tend to devour their own children.

  73. 73
    kreativekaos

    carlie@43:

    Very true carlie. My apologies if I was negative in my metaphorical expression of resistance in my earlier comment, but the direction that social, political and economic power has been going for 30 plus years has been generally anti-progressive, and I find that troubling.

    Unfortunately, whether we like it or not (and despite my previous post, I am at root a deeply non-violent person and believe in non-violent solutions), we may not know what the future holds for society in terms of necessary resistance or change needed to tip the scales in the other direction.

    Like it or not (and I don’t), violent resistance has been necessary (or at least driven by social conditions) in history, even if only to get the attention of the wider society in a country or region, or even the world-at-large, to get change started or to stop abuse, exploitation, etc.

    Extremes in the social fabric brought on by human frailties like greed, injustice, state-sponsored violence or the pressures brought on by breakdown of our environmental security such as widespread famines, drought, energy concerns have the potential to drive violent change–something nobody desires, but may be driving factors.
    [ Or, even if the populace/citizens don't advocate or initiate violent resistance, it can be applied to them by reigning political/economic powers. ]
    We certainly have seen at least mild violent repression of essentially non-violent protest in situations such as the 1968 Chicago political protests, the protests involving the G-8 Summit(s) [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/27th_G8_summit], the protests of the 99% movement from a few years ago, etc. It’s been expressed by some that radical problems may need radical solutions. Again, something nobody wants, but perhaps severe and lingering social problems have a way of directing actions of a larger society that may, to some extent, be beyond a great deal of control at some point; historically, The Reign of Terror comes to mind. Like one of my heroes, Pete Seeger, singing the Florence Reece song– Which side are you on? To be sure, he was a advocate of non-violence, but certainly could understand and empathize with the struggles and suffering of those who endured and fought–both politically and physically–for social and economic justice.

    Slightly off topic, here are some links (there are more at the site) to a series called FutureStates–independent film makers doing short 20-30 minute fictional films on important social or philosophical issues (such as inequality, class, womens’ issues, environment, life/death, forced choice, the police state, the effects of future technology, etc.), many of which may be of interest to Pharygulites/FtB-ers who aren’t familiar with this PBS/ITVS series.

    http://video.dptv.org/video/2218345828/
    http://video.dptv.org/video/2364990369/
    http://video.dptv.org/video/2364990266/

    Here’s the complete roster of short films:
    http://video.dptv.org/program/future-states/episodes/

    Some are ‘so-so’, others a quite good.

  74. 74
    garydargan

    Marie Antoinette had it wrong. Forget about eating cake. When the revolution comes make these privileged, whining, put upon 1 percenters eat their own shit.

  75. 75
    burninglove

    @57 ck

    Are you suggesting that an openly transgender and queer person is homophobic? Nevermind that I’m an MTF and have been with both sexes (and various other gender combinations) both before and after transitioning, what’s the rationale?

    I was implying that they are Koch-funded societal leeches, not people who get on their knees to suck off the Kochs. (The latter would actually be giving them too much credit.)

    But wow, I’m homophobic. That’s pretty amusing. My polyamorous ex-boyfriend and ex-girlfriend would have a fun time with that one!

  76. 76
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    burninglove #75

    And yet, here we are with an obvious play on “cocksuckers” used as an insult staring us in the face. Your intent is not magic.

  77. 77
    burninglove

    @76

    I don’t understand what your intent here is. You are attacking a queer person for making a pun on “cocksucker.” What’s the point in doing that? You’re attacking someone comfortable and open with their LGBT identity as a homophobe. Doesn’t that seem a little… extreme?

    Because it most definitely is. No apologies from me, sorry. I’m offended.

  78. 78
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    burninglove #77

    Who accused you of being a homophobe? You were accused of using a homophobic slur. Also, why are you seemingly assuming that your accusers are straight?

    You might not feel that your sexuality is being insulted by the use of the word as a slur. That does not give you the right to assume that others don’t; any more than someone who doesn’t mind taking the occasional punch has the right to sling punches about at random.

  79. 79
    LykeX

    @burninglove

    You are attacking a queer person for making a pun on “cocksucker.”

    Wrong. Daz is correcting a person for making an insult that relies for its effectiveness on the implicit notion that being a cocksucker is a bad thing.

    You’re not being attacked for being a homophobe. You’re being alerted to the fact that you said something with homophobic implications. Assuming that you’re not a homophobe, you probably want to change your behavior.

    You apparently think that being queer means that you can’t possibly do any wrong on this subject. That incorrect, and obviously so.

  80. 80
    Amphiox

    Revolutions will always spiral out of control, and they will never benefit the downtrodden classes in the end, because the environmental conditions that revolutions create are ones that promote the success of the venal and manipulative. So it is always a new ruling elite that rises to the top at the end, because that is, ultimately, what it takes to survive and prosper in the conditions of a revolution.

    Take a page of evolutionary science. If you want a trait to rise to fixation in the population, the only way to do it is the create an environment where that trait is advantageous and can outcompete rival traits. For the traits we want here, a revolution does the exact opposite.

  81. 81
    burninglove

    @78 and @79

    You don’t have the right to not be offended. I’ve explained what it was and you can either accept that and move on or continue fighting over a point that I will not concede because I’m not going to stop using the word.

    I’m betting you’re the same people who have the guts to call yourselves “allies” too.

    It’s official everyone: any LGBT person that uses so-called homophobic slurs is now a homophobe. Let me tell you, there are going to be a lot more homophobes with this official designation, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people in my crowds throw around “fag” like it’s “hello.”

    The Democrats better pack it up, there’s about to be a tidal wave of gay Republicans now… /s

  82. 82
    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk

    There’s a difference between reclaiming a slur and perpetuating a damaging meme. Just sayin.

  83. 83
    burninglove

    Show of hands: how many people who have complained so far are on the LGBT spectrum?

  84. 84
    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk

    Being on the LGBT spectrum doesn’t make you immune to perpetuating problemating memes.

  85. 85
    Rey Fox

    LykeX:

    Who accused you of being a homophobe? You were accused of using a homophobic slur.

    Amphiox:

    You’re not being attacked for being a homophobe.

    burninglove:

    It’s official everyone: any LGBT person that uses so-called homophobic slurs is now a homophobe.

    Can I accuse you of being illiterate, or are you immune to that too?

  86. 86
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    burninglove #81

    I do not give a rat’s arse whether the word may be ironically “owned” or not. You used the word in a manner which made it implicitly an insult. Not irony. That insult relied on a homophobic reading, regardless of whether that was what you intended or not. This does not mean you are a homophobe, it means you used a (sadly) common insult, by habit, because you hadn’t thought it through—nothing more.

    If you cannot absorb this as a lesson to take away with you, please do us the courtesy of not using such insults at this blog, where they are not welcome.

  87. 87
    LykeX

    It’s official everyone: any LGBT person that uses so-called homophobic slurs is now a homophobe

    That’s funny. Especially since I said the exact opposite.

    Anything else you want to lie about?

  88. 88
    burninglove

    You can accuse me of whatever you like. I’ll think I’ll survive.

    I’m going to go ahead and bow out, but I would like to thank all involved parties for reminding me why I tend to avoid sites populated with liberals as much as those populated with conservatives and libertarians.

    Enjoy alienating everyone else as well as you alienate the juvenile anti-feminists and lolbertarians. I’m glad the real world isn’t quite so pretentious.

  89. 89
    chigau (違う)

    That was weird.

  90. 90
    LykeX

    @burninglove
    Don’t worry. I think we’ll somehow manage to muddle through without your priceless contributions.

  91. 91
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    burninglove:

    Did you actually read what was written? Any of it?

  92. 92
    Travis

    That was definitely interesting. This kind of anger at being criticised is something that I usually associate with that sadly common type of “ally” that decides they are going to take their ball and go home, and maybe threaten to stop being an ally because someone made them feel bad, but I do not see it that often with other LGBT persons themselves.

  93. 93
    Rey Fox

    I was implying that they are Koch-funded societal leeches, not people who get on their knees to suck off the Kochs.

    Ah yes, how silly of me. You meant like how firefighters fight for fire, and dogcatchers are funded by dogs. I guess I’m the illiterate one here.

  94. 94
    LykeX

    Moreover, if that was really the point intended, the correct response would have been: “Oh, I didn’t realize it could be read like that. My bad.”

    Then the matter would be settled and we’d move on. The best predictor for whether something will blow up into a huge thing is not whether an inappropriate word of phrase was used, but how the person using it responds when it’s pointed out.

  95. 95
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    I was implying that they are Koch-funded societal leeches, not people who get on their knees to suck off the Kochs.

    “Because, yes, I would totally use that construction with a name that didn’t sound like “cock”.”

    Zellsuckers, anyone?

  96. 96
    ck

    burninglove wrote:

    Are you suggesting that an openly transgender and queer person is homophobic?

    No, I was merely suggesting that a pun on the word cocksucker used as an insult contributes to the background radiation of homophobia (and misogyny) in the wider culture. Daz and LykeX covered it pretty well.

    I apologise if my original post came off as accusing you of being homophobic.

  97. 97
    LykeX

    Dammit, ck. How are we going to maintain our reputation as a vicious echo-chamber of hive-minded liberal shills if you go around apologizing for things?

    Don’t you realize that the only proper response to unclear communications is to deny it ever happened, yell at the people who pointed it out, lie about the entire train of events and then stomp off with declarations of how the community will now wither away and hand victory to the Evil Enemies of Everything Good and Proper™ in the process?

    Tsk. It’s so hard to get good help these days.

  98. 98
    Jerry

    My parents worked harder than I did, in a series of low wage jobs. However, their America let them raise a family, save money, buy a house, and send 2 out of 3 kids to college. My America will not do the same for mine and future generations. That angers me, quite a lot. While I deeply understand and sympathize with the people whose rage calls for a violent revolution, I cannot agree with it. As others have pointed out much more eloquently, revolutions are by definition harmful to everyone, not just the initial targets of that rage. The people least able to protect themselves are the people most likely to get hurt, whether from direct effects (lynchings, guillotine, shootings, riots, etc.) but also by more wisespread indirect effects (food supply disruption, hyperinflation, fraud, lawlessness). Furthermore, violent revolutions tend to be started by people who have lost hope and have little else to lose (food, home, family, dependents) that are not already being threatened by the cause of the revolution. I think, or maybe hope, that most people in America are not (yet) at the stage of of people in Tunisia or other Middle Eastern countries who had their Arab Spring. On the other hand, America is on the cusp of a political change, if we can only hold out long enough- the GOP and their far right wing clandestine supporters (the neo-Bircher Kochtopus) can be voted out of office enough that a more progressive majority can effect legal change. We will have to prevent yet more corporate buyout of central and (for America) left wing politicians for that political change to translate into progressive change. I still have hope.

    As far as this odd Koch-sucker/cocksucker insult argument going on, one point that blew my mind is when burninglove said in comment 88:

    “…but I would like to thank all involved parties for reminding me why I tend to avoid sites populated with liberals as much as those populated with conservatives and libertarians.”

    Wow, at a time when even some Log Cabin Republicans are realizing that they’re being used by people who actively hate them, we have a person who says he feels more at home with conservatives and gLibertarians. burninglove, it’s your own words that got you a mild rebuke here. Not who you are, not who you love, and not how you live. Leading conservative politicians are calling for your firing, your ostracism, if not your livelihood or your life. As for gLibertarians, well, look at their demographics: mainly younger white non-Hispanic males who (by 80%) voted for Mitt Romney (R-Money), and fully 50% are mainline Protestants or evangelicals. Think you’d be welcomed with open arms if you walked in to one of their gatherings? While you got a little verbal push back for using what other people regarded as a slur, you won’t need an armed bodyguard around most liberals.

  99. 99
    Jerry

    Gah, sorry burninglove, I should have said “she”, not “he”. My apologies.

  100. 100
    A. Noyd

    Jerry (#98)

    we have a person who says he feels more at home with conservatives and gLibertarians

    She’s not saying she feels more at home with those yahoos, only that we’re just as bad and she scorns us both. Because while they are going around making life unlivable for anyone but the most privileged of privileged, we are, y’know… pretentious.

  101. 101
    dailydouq

    Plus Sam Zell is a perfect icon of how the “rich” utterly destroy real businesses with their financial plotting. He borrows massive amounts of other peoples’ money to do leveraged buyouts and then promptly ran those businesses into the ground and then simply declares bankruptcy in a few of them (plus ruined the LATimes and the Trib). He gambles with our money, grabs any “profits” (just speculative gain) and socializes the losses, just like all the bankers with their toxic securities schemes in the 2008 crash.

    So who is he to talk about how hard he works, or even worse how he is a job creator (Repug euphemism for crooks)! The point PZ makes (or the other comments) only address the obvious injustice, but looking at Zell purely from a rational capitalistic view he is a parasite, not an investor and creator of wealth (for anyone else). Centuries of hard-working people have built the wealth of this country and now crooks like Zell and Kochs skim it off for their private gain and public loss. There aren’t nasty enough words for criminals like this.

  102. 102
    The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs)

    (I tried to post this last night, but apparently I hit the very beginning of the DDOS attack, because the site went down between my deciding to respond and finishing my original response.)

    @65, Gregory Greenwood:

    Not wishing to rain on anyone’s parade unduly, but leaving aside any practical problems with getting a revolution underway for the moment, it might also be a good idea to temper all this talk of revolution with a recognition that such things can go really wrong, really quickly. I once heard a comparison between a revolution and setting a fire in a forest – both things can very easily run out of control, and the people that start it can often be consumed by that which they create. I wonder if Robespierre ever expected to be executed on the orders of the revolutionary government he helped to create? Or if those among the Left wing thinkers who helped promote the revolutionary ideals in Russia only to later find themselves facing execution at the hands of their fellow revolutionaries saw it coming?

    Two things, least important first:

    That last question? Yes. By the time the executions were going on, there had been hints for a long, long time that it was coming. (Heck, there whole Bolshevik/Menshevik naming jujitsu was a clue that the people who seized power were not at all willing to work in good faith.)

    More importantly, though, nothing, nothing in your post was anything which is new or anything which people like me have not already considered. By this time, wagging your head and saying “revolutions hurt everyone” is so much a part of consensus opinion that you would have to be an incredible fool not to already have considered it. Your comment, therefore, is either amazingly naive or amazingly condescending.

    Your whole argument fails to take into account what the conditions before a revolution really are. (Which is, incidentally, also a pointer to why there has not yet been a revolution in America. We haven’t really had those conditions in any widespread manner, until recently.) As I said above: what prevents a revolution is — and I will admit, this time, that I am stealing this phrasing from Terry Pratchett — that people want tomorrow to look pretty much like today. That extends all the way down to people who can say “well, perhaps my outlook is uncertain, and I am unemployed and just barely surviving, but I am surviving and I have a family and a place to sleep for tonight”. Even those people want tomorrow to look like today, because they still have a chance that tomorrow, they will be able to improve their lot — find a job, or get a better-paying job if they already have one, etc.

    When revolutions are brewing, though, you have large groups of people who (a) are already more or less certain to suffer and die, (b) have no reasonable expectation that things will get any better if things continue as they are, and (c) know that those responsible for this state of affairs will not be punished. The French and Russian peasantry both had those conditions. The argument is: “hey, maybe fighting won’t make my lot any better, but it can’t make it significantly worse — a fast death in battle might even be better than a lingering one by starvation — and there’s even a chance I’ll end up better off than I am now. And even if I die, maybe some of my friends and family will end up better off afterwards. And as extra enticement, in a revolution the people who are responsible for my rotten state now might end up punished, whereas right now that’s never, ever going to happen.”

    Since WWII until the last few years, that wasn’t the case in the U.S.; sure, most of us have been getting ripped off by the already-wealthy, and people have been endemically poor, and the rich have gotten away with crimes. But since 1980 the problems have been made dramatically worse by every single president (and every round of Congress). People are starting to realize that their personal situations are bad, are probably only going to get worse, that this state of affairs is deliberate, and that the people who planned it mostly aren’t even going to get a symbolic slap on the wrist.

    This is insanely dangerous, and it’s not really necessary. But in a sense, Sam Zell is actually correct — he and his fellow billionaires are more influential and important than the rest of us. Where he goes wrong is to decide that that means he deserves rewards — in actual fact, it means he and his buddies are deserving of vastly more punishment than anyone else. You and I (at least, I and presumably you, since you’re here reading the comments section on a blog) have only so much ability to influence things — if we want the minimum wage raised, for example, there’s not a whole lot we can do. We can vote for a bunch of Democrats who will lie to us about wanting to raise it and then help the bankers screw things up even more (like Obama), and — unless we’re willing to riot — that’s about it. Sam Zell and his buddies, though, could take a lot more action: they could pay for influential press campaigns, could buy Congressmen, could force the media to start asking intelligent questions, etc. etc. etc.

    At the moment, we haven’t tipped over into actual revolutionary conditions… yet. Despite all the hand-wringing, there’s still a middle class, and the food supply hasn’t collapsed. But the middle class is shrinking, our government is trying to starve the poor (cuts to food stamps, anyone?), and the trend is downward for everyone except the very, very rich. The only way we won’t eventually see actual revolutionary conditions are if the very rich change course — and they show no sign of doing so. Every time the law bends to the rich, or a pension fund is raided, or some idiot who was born a millionaire gives an interview criticizing the poor for being poor, it takes us one step further towards most of us wanting it all to stop, no matter what it might cost.

    (And, incidentally, this is yet another reason why climate change is so dangerous, beyond the obvious. There are nuclear nations which have no significant cropland above what sea level will be if the icecaps melt. When a majority of their populations are starving and homeless, do you think they won’t be willing to try some nuclear blackmail? Or to take revenge on the nations perceived as responsible for climate change? Or even just to attack their traditional enemies because it’s the last chance they’ll have and a quick death from retaliation beats a slow death from starvation? Gonna be interesting times, all right.)

  103. 103
    csue

    “Kochtopus” ???

    You leave those poor octopi alone!!1!

  104. 104
    kevinalexander

    The only way we won’t eventually see actual revolutionary conditions are if the very rich change course — and they show no sign of doing so.

    .
    They can’t. Money is the most powerful hallucinogen ever invented and it’s dose dependent. The more you have, the more your version of reality diverges from actual reality. It’s why they never hear the tumbrils until it’s too late.
    When the parasite priests and princes were led up the steps to the guillotine not one had any clue as to how they got there. They were completely convinced that god with his miraculous power could make the peasants produce two or three hundred percent of their abilities.

  105. 105
    Gregory Greenwood

    The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs) @ 102;

    More importantly, though, nothing, nothing in your post was anything which is new or anything which people like me have not already considered. By this time, wagging your head and saying “revolutions hurt everyone” is so much a part of consensus opinion that you would have to be an incredible fool not to already have considered it. Your comment, therefore, is either amazingly naive or amazingly condescending.

    So you have considered all these points already? Good for you, but that doesn’t mean that everyone who entertains the notion of revolution has considered all these issues in advance. Revolutions are, if they have any chance of success, typically mass popular movements with an extremely broad membership. If you honestly think that everyone who has ever dreamed of fixing society via revolutionary means has considered all the potential pitfalls, and none of them have ever held a dangerously romantacised view of the nature of the ideal revolution that failed entirely to match up with the often bloody reality, and that no group with an ulterior motive has ever succeeded in subverting a revolutionary movement to their own nefarious ends, then I would humbly suggest that it might be you who is naive.

    Most revolutions of the type discussed on this thread are violent political events; violent events in which people – real, living people whether privileged or not – actually die. With stakes so high, perhaps it warrents reiterating the point that revolution is the riskiest of all political endeavours. That they can and do go wrong, and that they are, or at least should be, the option of last resort for good reason.

    That is not being patronising, nor naive – that is merely pointing out that blood cannot be unspilled, no matter how righteous the adherants of a cause may consider their actions to be.

  106. 106
    ck

    The Vicar wrote:

    And, incidentally, this is yet another reason why climate change is so dangerous, beyond the obvious. There are nuclear nations which have no significant cropland above what sea level will be if the icecaps melt.

    I believe the current estimates is that it would take around 5,000 years for all the icecaps to melt, so worrying about what current nuclear powers might do is probably pointless. The world’s borders are likely to be redrawn several times before that happens, and who is and is not capable of delivering that kind of destructive power will almost certainly change.

    Not that it isn’t going to be bad. National Geographic has an interactive map that shows how bad things would be. It’s just going to take quite some time before these places are actually under water.

  107. 107
    po8crg

    I visited Versailles last year on holiday.

    Walking up through the town of Versailles, you’re in a pretty ordinary French town. Nice (cheap) restaurants, little guesthouses, shops, terraced houses, a church, a town hall with a giant 1914-18 war monument with about a hundred names on it. Then you turn the corner and there’s this thing that landed from space and is squatting on the edge of the town.

    It feels like an alien invasion. I remember feeling right at that moment, “ah, so that’s why they set up the guillotine”

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