Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mitt Romney, the Two Americas and being a liberal capitalist

Mitt Romney has won the New Hampshire Republican primary and, while it isn't the end of the race and other candidates are coming up in some poles, it is worth-while to examine some of the language in victory speech last night.

In his victory speech Romney made one big declaration that frightened me and I use the word frighten with a purpose, it shows the type of man he is and his world view, no matter how much he has flip-flopped over the years;

Our campaign is about more than replacing a President; it is about saving the soul of America. This election is a choice between two very different destinies.President Obama wants to “fundamentally transform” America. We want to restore America to the founding principles that made this country great.He wants to turn America into a European-style entitlement society. We want to ensure that we remain a free and prosperous land of opportunity.

First of all, If I were Mitt, given his most recent hits from Gingrich on his job-destroying past, I would not want to try and create a divided vision like this. It would lead me, and many others who have seen first hand what evils can happen for profit, that there is a different view point between an American where it continues to be competition of man verses man and every man for himself or an America of working towards the common goal. The practice of slicing out companies, creating towns filled with the unemployed just to benefit those who invest in your organization seems wrong on far too many levels. In my mind, the vision and destiny that he would have America go to would be towards ruin, both from his economic point and his vision of reality.

One of the lessons that we should of learned from economic practices that started in the seventy's, became rampant in the eighty's, and shifted to whom bust models in the ninety's is that a while certain actions might be in the best financial interest in the immediate sense for large corporations and for financiers, they are not always in the best interests in the long term for those same people and for the country at that place is housed.

Imagine that you run a company in the United States that emplo

yes 1000 people. You figure out that you can cut overhead by %20 by shipping the jobs over seas so you do. Great, your stock goes up, your investors are happy, Americans are happy because that dingus you sell costs less, and only 1000 people had to lose their job. Now imagine that happens on a scale where there is an example in almost every municipality in the United States. No one can buy your dingus anymore because no one has jobs and even the governments are failing because there is no revenue from sales tax or from income tax.

Some of Mitt's company's actions were even worse then that; gutting other companies and causing massive unemployment JUST to make money for investors.

But selling our jobs to other countries for profit has been a huge issue in everything from energy, to manufacturing to service and engineering jobs and I believe we are feeling some of the effects of those practices, we have to alter our practices and priorities.

The choice between two futures of America, for students of history, seems a gross over-simplification of facts and reality. Breaking America into a false dichotomy is dangerous, and it has been warned against since the beginning of our country. From phrases/concepts like; "with us" or "against us," patriot or terrorist, the haves and the have-nots, and even Democrat and Republican, have caused strife, violence, disunity, stagnation and as a nation we really need to just get over it. There is far more than black and white.

Here is an example that I have noticed popping up in a few different social circles that can be applied to the anti-corporatist rant this post has become.

Traditionally, thinking of a "liberal" in America is a split against the conservative ideals down all political issues; fiscal conservative, social conservative, etc. By pitting his views against Obama it is clear that Romney believes that it is this same split that drives the diverging destinies. But reality doesn't work like that, and we see that even today in the Republican and Democratic party.

An interesting post by a friend of mine Peggy Friday, brought up thoughts and issues on economics and if there really is an issue with being a liberal capitalist. Personally, as a self proclaimed crazy lefty I will admit that while the concept of being a non-capitalist system or lifestyle doesn't frighten me, I see nothing inherently wrong with aspects of capitalism when applied well.

To call me a true capitalist would be wrong. I do not and never will believe in unfettered capitalism. This is mainly for the same two reasons I will never truly believe in an unfettered communist or authoritarian system in the real world; human nature and looking at what happens in extremes. A common thread in money and politics is the concept of "power." Money and political authority are both measures of power, the more political authority you have or the more money you have the more power you have. Power is a narcotic; the more you have, the more you want. It is, arguably, human nature.

A more proper definition of my socio-political beliefs would be I am a "Socialist-Keynesian." While this concept is has in the past been hated by self described conservatives, it has nothing against capitalism, it is mainly based in a market/capitalist based system with restrictions, regulations and controls. Many of the base ideas of Keynesian economics have already been instituted in the United States since the New Deal, some before.

For me, unfettered and un-regulated capitalism is like giving heroin to someone with an addictive personality. This is especially true with the Citizen's United decision where companies can devote entire quarterly budgets to wielding the power of money and political authority. In my mind with regulations and controls on the system you prevent the junkie from overdosing and killing the country. There are amazing things that can be done with a capitalist structure, a middle ground between Capitalism and Nonprofit. Capitalism can be a force that makes business interactions and the creation of higher livelihoods easier. They can also be paired with-in a non-profit model that generates more good will than a solely charitable non-profit model is capable of. There are far too many examples to really list. But my belief in this system make me almost ostracized by those more fiscally radical than me.

It is interesting that there is a rising trend in both the democratic and republican parties to have a shift in viewpoints. Be it a libertarian surge or a rational objection to the current economic structure I could not say. But you cannot paint this angry liberal into the same corner as those who want to do away with all forms of government or a market-capitalist economy, we don't agree - just like I am sure there are those in Ron Paul's camp who would HATE to be stuck in a room full of die-hard Perry supporters.

The main point here is that any time you try to split a nation, especially one as diverse and changing as the United States into a dichotomy, you make huge assumptions that prove that you are out of touch with the reality of the world and not even thinking outside the box, missing possible solutions to the issues of today.

Also, capitalism is not necessarily evil, but greed is definitely not good as some movie sequels would have you believe. Sorry Mr. Gecko.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Advice to Congressional Members for "Occupy Congress"

Occupy Congress is in a little over 2 weeks, or is supposed to be, and it should be a fun and interesting day. I see this event as a huge opportunity to create a dialogue between the establishment and those who are trying to change it; a way to make a transition between older systems and new possible and enjoyable.

In lieu of preparing for the worst and increasing security protocols around this event and baring participants to chat with representatives I would like to offer the following advice to members of congress and their staff, though they probably already know this.


The Occupy movement has shown itself to be resilient, powerful, headline catching and popular. As an elected official, even beyond if you agree with the movement or not (and some of you have already jumped on the bandwagon) it is important to recognize the waxing and waning of popularity and to recognize was of engaging your constituents. The Occupy has a momentum that can continue as long as people have the energy and the passion and the ability to stay engaged. The internet and social media makes us all able to be informed and interacting, even without being on the mainland. This is an opportunity to look like a legislator who speaks to all sides, all parties and welcomes a challenge of the non-traditional constituent. When Occupy Congress comes, welcome it as something exciting and new, don't shun it.


Growing up with my family being from Texas I have picked up on something amazing about the south. The concept of being "Southern Sweet" basically being as hospitable as you can and overly sweet to strangers. Treat the Occupiers like you welcoming a newcomer to your village and you want to show it off and make sure they leave with a smile on their face. Don't refuse their permit for the Occupy date, make it easy for them. Remember that even if a permit isn't issued, that won't mean the occupation won't happen. Look into getting them port-o-potties, food vendors and water fountains. Think about ways that you can turn this into YOUR event, how YOU made it easier for the community to engage with their elected representatives. Hell, bake them German Chocolate Political Cake, always works at Union Halls.


At the early stages of the Occupy Movement the Colbert Report actually went out and interviewed the participants of the Movement and, in a great segment Colbert showed very quickly and simply that though they be marginalized based on their "disorganization" or their appearance - the Occupiers are pretty together.

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They are going to know the issues well, and they are going to test you and your staff on it. Do NOT be afraid to say "I am not sure on that, let me look it up" but don't try the normal skirting the issue poppycockery, it won't work. Do not underestimate them, they are organized and have almost immediate access to information. Keep a tab on their conversation stream. WATCH the "#J17" results for Twitter. It is the official hashtag of Occupy Congress. It would even be a good idea to engage in that conversation. Say something to the effect of "I look forward to chatting with you on January 17th" or "If you want some face to face time with me, come to my staff's tent on the Mall at 2:30 to 5:30" or "come to my open offices hours for the day of Jan. 17th between 12:15 and 5:15pm" just engage with them.


Odds are they are going to know your record better than you do and, given the opportunity, they will call you out on it. Just be honest and if you don't remember a certain subject or vote, they will hopefully forgive you for being human. The more honest you are with people and the more you actually have a conversation with them, the better this whole process will be.


I want to end with this; a note to the Occupy Congress occupiers. Sit-ins, popular movements and protests are great methods of participating in the political system and having your voice heard, but don't forget the most basic and most important aspect of the political system; - #occupythevote