Monday, October 16, 2006

God and Politics

For some time now the fundamentalist Christians in this country have attempted to tell us what God thinks on all manner of political issues. Finally, though, God himself (the voice was distinctly masculine) has stepped in to share his thoughts on the minimum wage.

For the record, yes, God opposes increasing the minimum wage with inflation. And the wisdom is clear isn't it? Just because things *cost* more doesn't mean that the minimum amount of money somebday must earn to afford those things needs to increase. Put another way, where W is "(minimum) Wage" and C is "Cost of living":

W = C (currently)
W = C x 1.04n (in the future, where n is the number of years in the future)

Don't question the math, God said so!

For those who prefer repetition to blasphemy, click on the 5th thumbnail on the same page.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A strange demonstration...

This is probably the strangest piece of news so close to home that I've seen in a while. According to the story, a caravan of big, slow farm tractors is going to heave its way through perpetually-congested Downtown Seattle.

Why? To stage support for Initiative 933, a measure on the upcoming ballot that would force the state to "compensate" landowners or developers for any economic loss incurred by regulations on land use. This would be a disasterous precedent that will irreparably impair the planning of sustainable communities unless the state shells out HUGE bucks to developers for their miserable plans to build more useless stores on tracts of dry grass.

But regardless of whether you support I-933 or not, the logic of this demonstration seems very... off. People who live in the city already regard farm tractors at best "quaint" and at worst "backwards" - tractors are associated with bumpkins and not with progress. And oh my Lord - the delays! Check this out:

"Vehicles will then make a left on Second Avenue and head south on that street. From there, they will go to Fourth and eventually return to Eighth and Holgate. Organizers estimate about 100 tractors, heavy trucks and horse trailers could participate in the event."
Now, I-933 supporters are going to immobilize Downtown Seattle, the state's most densely worked-in area in the middle of the state's most densely populated region, with farm tractors and fucking HORSE TRAILERS that only invoke feelings of romantic support from people far, far away from Seattle where there are more fingers on your hand than people living within a mile radius of you.

I feel like the overall effect is going to be a new cohort of pissed-off and confused people who are going to be very curious about what was so important that farm tractors held them up for two hours in the middle of the smog. Even just preliminary research is enough to find out who is behind I-933 (the building industry) and who is against it (almost everyone else, including all living former governors of Washington state). Combine that with the lingering tension headache from being stuck in traffic as the tenth John Deere rolls by, and I calculate many, many NO votes.

Am I crazy?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Smokescreening privilege

Slate published this lovely indictment of why we all seem to dislike Bill O'Reilly so much. I never could quite put my finger on it. The article is actually quite old (2001), written as a review of O'Reilly's then-new book.

Best (weirdest) passage:
Yet O'Reilly, like many other people, clings to the fantasy that he is a stiff among the swells. He plays this chord repeatedly in the book, a potpourri of anecdotes and opinions about life in general and his in particular. He had a very strange experience as a graduate student at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government (which let the likes of Bill O'Reilly through its ivy-covered gates, he is careful to note, "in an effort to bring all sorts of people together"). Other Kennedy School students, he says, insisted on being called by three names, none of which could be "Vinny, Stevie, or Serge." Their "clothing was understated but top quality … and their rooms hinted of exotic vacations and sprawling family property. Winter Skiing in Grindelwald? No problem." They tried to be nice, but Bill was nevertheless humiliated, in a Thai restaurant, to be "the only one who didn't know how to order my meal in Thai."

The Slate article is hilarious. Please read it. It's not just about Bill O'Reilly, though - let's remember this critique about anyone who cannot handle their own privilege, and so prefers to create a smokescreen of poverty and powerlessness. What an insult to those whose marginalization is much thicker than mere smoke.

To face one's privilege is to accept responsibility for using it to further justice. So what is O'Reilly's smokescreen (and that of almost every politician today) really for? Just a question.

"From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded."

- Karl Marx Jesus Christ (Luke 12:48)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

No on I-933

There is a great editorial in the P-I this morning on I-933, the supposed 'property-rights' initiative. The editorial debunks a number of misconceptions put forth by backers of the measure. For most people right now, there are more questions than answers about the initiative and current polling suggests people generally favor it given the current limited knowledge. Learn more and talk to friends and family - passage of this measure would be one awful development for our state.