Posts tagged ‘Obama’

December 21, 2010

The Obama FCC

by nkwilczy

What did you expect? Something other than a borderlin capitulation?

The FCC will not allow broadband providers to discriminate against legal websites, for instance through pay for prioritization plans. This is the heart of net neutrality and represents a positive direction, it is supposed to stop things like Comcast’s attempts to shut down Netflix.

At the same time, nobody even in the FCC seems to be sure they have the legal authority to do it and all of them seem to see the courts in opposition. And also, I mean, it’s not like you can use PayPal to support Wikileaks again, so the internet is not, you know, totally neutral. And wireless devices aren’t covered.

So enjoy the semi-neutral internet from your PC for the next few months, before it gets totally dismantled by *cough* activist conservative judges *cough*

October 28, 2010

Election 2010

by nkwilczy

Harry Reid is fighting like a motherfucker I’ll tell you that. I get an email from that guy every six hours on the dot to ask for money or tell people about the evils that Sharon Angle represents. I think she’ll probably be an even bigger representation of those evils post-election, when she’s the biggest and onlyest win the tea party manages, fuck you Joe Miller, fuck you Christine O’Donell, and fuck you Sarah Palin, it aint happenin.

So I’ve been doing my part to close the enthusiasm gap, calling people for the Dems in Guilford County when I get the chance, if I get a couple hours, and I don’t know if you can tell by my lack of blog posts but I haven’t had a lot of free hours. I also spent less than an hour calling people to support prop 19.

And although I am more than happy to man to battlements, while I greatly enjoy this fight, I want to establish that I don’t care how it turns out, I don’t think it will make a big long term difference. If Republicans DO win and shut down the government then they will only serve to invigorate democrats in two years when they throw a hail Palin. And I have been more than happy to announce to people that during the original government shutdown in the nineties Bill Clinton spent his time helping to solve one of the most intractable foreign conflicts of our age, where do you think the IRA went?

Hamas can go that same place, Republicans, please win. But it’s only going to cost you in two years when you’ve made such a big deal about how now you’re running things and they still aren’t getting better.

Hell yeah Prop 19, go for it. If anyone needs a ride to D.C. from G-Boro on Saturday for the Jon Stewart rally then you should probably find someone else, my car is full.

August 18, 2010

Terminology: Freedom

by nkwilczy

There has been a lot of talk about freedom lately. So Let’s talk about freedom.

First things first, what is Freedom? What does it mean to be free?

It seems to me that freedom constitutes an unimpeded choice from options. We have, for instance, a variety of careers available to us in America. You can be an accountant or a DJ or a janitor, the choice is yours. There will be no forces that impede your decision-making. You are, in this case, “free” to choose your career. Freedom does not constitute guaranteed success.

But if you take the position that we are free in this way in America then there are a number of obvious holes in your logic. The recession makes it doubly obvious, what if there’s no jobs available in your chosen field? The unemployment rate is too high to pretend that it represents a choice made without interference.

Because freedom, in practice, in America, is extremely materialistic in nature. Allow me to make an example. If you are poor you have the freedom to possess a radio or a small television or whatever you can afford to entertain you, but if you are wealthy then you have the freedom to make an unimpeded choice between a HD TV, a 3D TV, a Blueray player, while still having unimpeded access to all of the aforementioned options of the lower socioeconomic classes. If you are rich in America you are, therefore, more free. This is why materialism is such a dominant philosophy in the United States, having a position in many people’s minds somewhere between a religious devotion and a serious drug habit.

Now, let’s say for the previous example that the wealthy fellow is a CEO and the poorer one is a janitor. You can make the case that if the janitor worked harder he would be able to advance his career to equate the income of the other man. In practice though this is obviously not the case, if it were the case then CEOs would represent the hardest working members of their companies, brought up from the inside. This is not the case. We should admit that the next time the Janitor fills out an application he’ll be putting Janitor down as his work experience, if you go back further into their respective pasts you will find that 9 times out of 10 there is also a broad difference between their educational backgrounds. Let’s say the CEO went to a private school where he was coddled with a high idealistic teacher to student ratio somewhere in New England and the Janitor went to a substantially shittier public school where the teachers had run out of patience for their students and the guidance counselor had no idea what they were doing and didn’t help anyone get into college or get scholarships. These things are not the fault of the janitor, but they do end up placing arbitrary impediments on his choices (read: makes him less free). Because of this he is limited in career choices

This also exposes the ‘self made man’ for the hoax that it always has been. The truth is that we do not start out in the same places and the same choices are not available to us from the start. We are all introduced to different influences according to the accidents of our births. The ‘self made man’ is simply too self absorbed to give due credit to those influences.

Freedom is also psychological, and those influences will heavily shape a person’s psychology. This is a complicated concept, so let me unpack it. When I say that freedom is psychological what I mean is that you only really have access to the choices you are aware of. If you are raised in a one room apartment, by cynical adults then you probably have a different conception of the sort of options that are available to you than you would have if you went to private schools and were treated like a golden boy. These are radical ends of the spectrum but the truth is that there are billions of shades between them. Each of them represents a different extent of freedom, the only way to explain this is that freedom has a deeply personal psychological aspect. Anyone could (read: is free to) rap as well as Lil’ Wayne for instance, but few people have the psychology to accept and appreciate that choice. Not that they even choose to pursue it, I’m saying that few people are even aware that the choice is there. If you don’t know the choice is available then this represents to me an impediment on what we have defined for the sake of this post as ‘freedom’.

Now, all of the impediments on freedom I have discussed so far have been economic in nature, not political. In America no matter what your economic situation you can chose to be a Klansman or a Socialist or a Republican or whatever you want. You can express these opinions freely, with once again certain economic conditions, and also certain psychological conditions in how well you are able to articulate and make your philosophy empathetic.

Government gets involved in the debate about freedom, as though it’s percentage of the GDP represented some sort of slave labor sector where people are routinely tortured. The reasoning behind this is, as far as I can tell, as follows. Because freedom is economic, we express our wealth and our freedom at once by making consumer choices. Devout Vegan Locavores express these characteristics through their consumer choices the same way that vapid bimbos express their own characteristics and psychology through their consumer choices. They are free to decide what to buy, and what they buy reflects how free they are. If you are free enough to only afford a sixteen inch regular ass television how will you feel when your neighbor is unloading his enormous plasma screen? You will then see that your neighbor is more free than you because he has a wider array of choices and has selected the finest of them to display to vastness of his decisions.

This is where Government steps in as the bogeyman, because they take taxes. This money that could be used to express your consumer choices and your freedom instead is shanghaied for public betterment. To build schools or provide stabler economic conditions for children, to positively impact their psychology (read: freedom). So that the end result is that instead of having the right to a fair opportunity, or the right to food or shelter, or the right to a good education, the one right that we hold sacred is the right to keep up with the joneses.

This idea rests on the crux that if certain members of the society are ‘maximum free’ that is, free to buy anything out of any array of choices, which is apparently best established with marginal tax rates for the top incomes, then we are as a society ‘more free’ And if you take that idea seriously, if you think it has merit then there is probably little I could do to convince you otherwise.

But my counterpoint is that America was founded as a country with freedom and justice for all. So if taxation limits your consumer choices then I am ready to accept that as a fair sacrifice to provide opportunities to other people. Because Freedom is about being able to make unimpeded choices from options.

So I don’t think that Bank of America should have the ‘freedom’ to charge outrageous overdraft fees or to malign their customers in any of the various ways that they institutionally do so. I don’t think that internet companies should have the ‘freedom’ to limit bandwidth to particular sites. I don’t respect the ‘freedom’ to rob banks so why should I put up with any of that shit. If recognizing freedoms means also denying other freedoms then we must take a very careful look when talking seriously about freedom. If the freedom to rob banks causes such problems because it violates other people’s freedoms to do stable business then I suggest that we take a utilitarian view of freedom. Our goal is to create the most freedom, and spread as evenly as possible. If the bank robber succeeds then he alone reaps the benefits of freedom, he’s the only one free to make consumer choices. More people will be free to make consumer choices if he is prevented from robbing the bank so we stop him.

But then we also have to limit the bank’s ability to rob you, we also have to make sure that businesses do fair business and don’t rip off their customers. We also make sure that our drugs pass basic safety tests and that our meat is inspected. We could give the producers the right to rip off the consumers, but then we limit the freedom of the consumer just as much as we expand the liberties of the producers. We would trade the casual freedom to eat steak in a city distant from dairy farms for the freedom to sell shoddy products.

So I suggest that it is possible that we the people may have come together as a nation to discuss the balance of freedom and have done so for hundreds of years. For decades I admit the conversation has been puerile and irrelevant, and run by individuals who advocated the aforementioned view about providing select individuals with ‘maximum freedom,’ and this is exactly why this issue must be brought up and discussed in a clear way. It has been a immoral and ineffective policy, and we have to consider alternatives. But I often feel like people consider Government the anti-freedom, which is a philosophy that is not helpful when going into a necessary operation to reform to create a working government out of this disaster we have on our hands in America.

I suspect there is a root to this evil.

Go set a Benjamin on fire.

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