From the category archives:

USA

This article in the Washington Post really gets at the crux of the difference in outlook between liberals and conservatives:

Chaffetz was articulating a commonly held belief that poverty in the United States is, by and large, the result of laziness, immorality and irresponsibility. If only people made better choices — if they worked harder, stayed in school, got married, didn’t have children they couldn’t afford, spent what money they had more wisely and saved more — then they wouldn’t be poor, or so the reasoning goes.

[ . . . ]

Since the invention of the mythic welfare queen in the 1960s, this has been the story we most reliably tell about why people are poor. Never mind that research from across the social sciences shows us, over and again, that it’s a lie. Never mind low wages or lack of jobs, the poor quality of too many schools, the dearth of marriageable males in poor black communities (thanks to a racialized criminal justice system and ongoing discrimination in the labor market), or the high cost of birth control and day care. Never mind the fact that the largest group of poor people in the United States are children. Never mind the grim reality that most American adults who are poor are not poor from lack of effort but despite it.

Conservatives believe in a meritocracy; people who get ahead do so because they “deserve” to, because they’ve worked hard and pulled themselves up by the proverbial bootstraps. The flip side to that is that poor people or the less successful are seen as also “deserving” of their failure, because they’re lazy, stupid, or otherwise unworthy.

Liberals tend to believe that success and failure are mostly based on factors completely outside of one’s control: Systematic and structural factors that set some people up with advantages that allow them to succeed despite themselves, and others with such insurmountable odds that it would take a miracle to defy them.

As usual, the real truth lies somewhere in between the two. A lot of our success or failure *is* structural and outside of our control. And our choices and actions do matter, but they’re not the only things that matter. I think so many people struggle with the notions of systematic discrimination and privilege simply because they don’t want to let go of feeling like they’re in control of their own lives. I get that. I really do. That doesn’t mean it’s okay to attack people for being poor, though.

Alain de Botton has a good TED talk about this, which is worth a watch if you have a few moments.

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It’s time to stop pointing out all the ways that Donald Trump is turning the US into a fascist state at worryingly break-neck speed. Fascism is here.

The question is, what are we going to do about it?

Let’s look at history to see what has worked to successfully fight fascist / totalitarian regimes.

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Bannon: Cabinet picks were meant to destroy their agencies

02.24.2017

Steve Bannon has admitted that Trump’s choices for his cabinet were deliberately set up to destroy the agencies that they were appointed to lead: In the clearest explanation for why nearly all of Trump’s cabinet choices are known mostly for despising and attacking the very Federal agencies they’ve been designated to lead, Bannon explained—in very clear [...]

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USA: Land of the Free, 1776-2016

02.03.2017

RIP, America.  

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No, it’s not peace in the Middle East. But it’s something.

01.31.2017

One of the more positive effects of what’s been happening lately has been the coming together of the Muslim and Jewish Communities towards a common cause: A photo of two kids — a Muslim girl and Jewish boy — rallying for the same cause alongside their dads, warmed the hearts of audiences across social media. [...]

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Warning: Political rant ahead

11.09.2016

WHAT. THE. FUCK. AMERICA??? Pardon my swearing. But if there’s ever a day that requires the bluest of language, it’s today. I went to sleep last night a little worried on your behalf, Americans, but not overly so. Clinton had consistently led in the polls. The electoral math seemed to be in her favour. I [...]

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Trump, women, mysogyny and cynicism

10.07.2016

So, Donald Trump was caught on tape making disgusting comments about being able to grope women. Raise your hand if you’re surprised. Hand up? You clearly haven’t been paying attention anytime this past, oh, say, decade. Everyone from both parties is rushing to condemn Trump’s comments and distance themselves from him, and the media and [...]

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Thoughts on Orlando

06.12.2016

Horrific news out of Orlando today. Hate crime, domestic terrorism, whatever you want to call it, at least 50 people are dead today who should be alive and well: An American-born man who’d pledged allegiance to ISIS gunned down 49 people early Sunday at a gay nightclub in Orlando, the deadliest mass shooting in the [...]

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Americans: Considering moving to Canada if Trump wins?

03.02.2016

Google searches for “moving to Canada” rose by 1000% after the US primary “Super Tuesday” results: In the four hours around the close of polls across Super Tuesday states, searches for “how can I move to Canada” on Google spiked by 350%. By midnight, the query had risen to more than 1000% its normal search volume. [...]

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Four thoughts on Bernie Sanders’s Jewishness

02.25.2016

Four thoughts about this New York Times piece on Bernie Sanders being the first viable Jewish candidate for President: He’s usually highly accessible to the media. But he declined to be interviewed for this article. Which is both admirable and highly telling: Admirable because the religious views of American politicians are usually front and centre [...]

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