Author Archives: wiggums

Response to 2015 State of the Union

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As most of you are aware, last night was the President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address. It was filled with hope, togetherness, and some new ideas. It was, however, also ridden with inaccuracies. I am not going to say that it was incorrect in its entirety, or that Obama is living in a pipe dream, as some others have, but there were some key points that were mis-represented. Those are the things that I am going to focus on. I will not simply paraphrase his words and state an opinion based on that, I will directly quote from the transcript, which can be found in many locations across the web. If you want to read it for yourself, here is where I read it and am copying it from.

Here goes:

The first point that stood out to me was the example he used to about the family that went through hard times.

“America, Rebekah and Ben’s story is our story. They represent the millions who have worked hard, and scrimped, and sacrificed, and retooled.” While that is great, for this family, what about all of the other families who when this kind of financial insecurity hits, they end up homeless, having used up all of their unemployment, or, still have unemployment, but it isn’t enough to get by? I have known many people who, the only reason they are on the street is because of one big, unexpected emergency expense or lay off. While this is a touching story, it is not even close to being representative to what happens in a situation like this.

Next, we have education. Obama talks about our improvement, “We believed we could prepare our kids for a more competitive world. And today, our younger students have earned the highest math and reading scores on record.” While that may be true, I, personally wouldn’t be bragging about being 14th in education, as a whole, 14th in math, and 25th in reading, respectively. This is not something to be shouting from the rooftops about. Who is #1, you may be asking? None other than South Korea. This is a country that, in the 1950s was one of the poorest in the world. in about 50 years, they have gone from bottom of the barrel to top dog (at least in education).

The next point Obama talked about that is not completely valid is his statement, “Today, we have new tools to stop taxpayer-funded bailouts.” What he is talking about, I believe, is the Dodd-Frank Law. This is a law, passed in 2010 that, supposedly, will make taxpayer funded bailouts a thing of the past, and “Too Big to Fail,” a relic of the past. There is, however, language that gives banks and other corporations plenty of other tools that give them advantages over your mom and pop shops. The other options they have include “liquidation, receivership, a division of the institution into a good and bad bank, with the former to be run by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), selling the good bank to another bank or recapitalization. Fears of counterparty risk and former bondholders carrying equity of questionable value could engender a sale of its and its competitors’ shares.” (Via Investopedia) This “New Tool,” is more a new tool for big corporations to keep their money and avoid failure, while giving the illusion of limiting them.

Going right into his next point, “Middle-class economics works.” First off, Middle-Class economics is something that the current administration pulled out of thin air a short time ago. It sounds good to blue collar workers, because it makes it seem as if their representatives have them in mind, but even if you use the definition that Obama used last night, it has failed before it was even a term. “The nation’s median income remains lower than it was when the Great Recession ended, $52,000 at the end of 2013 compared to $54,400 at the end of 2008 in today’s dollars.” (Via The Washington Post) The fact remains, the United States Government is giving more priority to business, and exactly the same to their constituents.

“We know that more small business owners plan to raise their employees’ pay than at any time since 2007.” While, that is great, and thanks for that, what about large businesses? They get larger tax breaks, they have legislation that will protect them, they outsource manufacturing to China and Singapore, where is their plan to raise wages?

While there were lots of good ideas, and pipe dreams being touted and spouted last night, I didn’t hear any solutions…did you? What do you think? Did I miss something? Let me know.

-Wiggums, The Wanderer

Working Title Here

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I don’t know why when I think about you
thoughts and dreams come into view.

I give you my thoughts, my dreams, my prayers, my affection, my time
Waiting, wondering, worrying, what will happen when you find out who you are.
Will you be my lovely partner in crime
Or will we simply be friends who can share…
Everything, or nothing.

I don’t know, it’s not up to me.
Either way, when it happens, it will set me free.

Either to give you my all,
or to work through the pall,
get up and try anew.

From the Archives: Why Marxism Failed

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This is a paper that I wrote in College, originally posted on my LiveJournal on April 5th, 2005

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Karl Marx believed that man, when civil society is abolished will be in a perfect free state, namely, that of Communism. For Marx, all of humanity is altruistic, a devotion to others or to Humanity (The New Webster Dictionary), and will do what is right for the other members of a society. Marx must have simply been ignoring what was staring him in the face, as both the state of affairs in Germany at the time he was writing and World History were the complete opposites of altruism. Man is selfish and egotistical. The Communist society, which is based on the idea that man is altruistic, would never and will never work anywhere except in the theoretical realm of Marx’s mind
Marx states that once distribution of labor is destroyed and a Communist state comes into being,
Society… thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic. (Page 160)

He also says that you will go down to the factory and have the machine make shirts, pants, shoes and blouses as they are needed. Well this is all fine and dandy if everything goes according to the perfectly structured plan, but what if you have people that like hunting, fishing, rearing cattle, criticising, playing baseball, writing poetry or something else, and they really do not like cutting hair or plumbing? If this is a society of normal human beings, then he is going to do the thing that he enjoys and not the grunt work. As Marx says on page 156, “life involves before everything else eating and drinking, a habitation, clothing, and many other things. The first historical act is thus the production of the means to satisfy these needs, the production of material life itself.” So, once man is “Free,” then all he has to worry about is how to take care of these needs, and if man is the same as he was before the Communist revolution, then he won’t worry about everyone else, he will just look out for number one. He is going to do what he wants to and not worry about all of the other things that need to be done in order for the society to go according to Marx’s plan. If there is a society of one-hundred thousand citizens and eighty thousand of them would rather do what they want instead of what the guidelines for the society says that they should do, then we have a society of unequal citizens, or even, individuals. Marx seems to think that as soon as man is placed within the Communist society the entire race will change its nature and that once the Bourgeois is overthrown, they will not simply see this as an opportunity to grab property for themselves and not give it to the society. Marx thinks that Man is simply an economic being, and that once money and classes are done away with, people are going to want to be equal to everyone else, when, in fact, man is a being that always wants to have an edge over his fellow man so that he is thought better of, both by others and by himself.
Property is part of economy and, according to Marx, man is an economic being. So, Marx is mistaken that when the pecuniary aspect of economy has disappeared that man will not try to acquire as much property for himself as possible. There will always be more misers that do not want to give up all private property, because no man wants another to have an edge over him and that part of Human Nature will not be given up at the drop of a hat. It is the same with the government, if the government has all of the power in the society the control over every person, all property, and what they say goes, everyone will want to have a position in the government, as it gives the mass man all of the power that he could ever want. Once that power is gained, no one in their right mind would want to give it up. All that they would need to do is just not go and hunt or fish or go to the factory.
Marx states on page one-hundred sixty-one that, “Social power… they thus cannot control, which on the contrary passes through a peculiar series of phases and stages independent of the will and the action of man, nay even being the prime governor of these.” So if the social power, or the government is something beyond the mass man and in Marxist society all men are mass men then the government and the outlines of Communist society will be beyond everyone’s comprehension. This will, in turn, lead to a society in which everyone is free to do whatsoever they please, but no one knows the reason that they are in this government and social structures, or, indeed, no one knows what the government or social structures are anymore. So, there is no God to govern morality and there is no government to rule over what is correct and incorrect in the society as man, “cannot control,” and they are ignorant of the functioning of the government, or if it is functioning at all. So, by logical conclusion, if you take what Marx says, from a society that is Communist it disintegrates into Anarchy. As, part of the definition of anarchy is political confusion, and if confusion does not come from the loss of God, loss of class structure, loss of individuality, and loss of a government that is understandable, then I do not know what confusion is.
Order tends towards chaos and chaos tends towards order. These seem like two contradictory statements but they are two intertwined truths. As order is brought about, it gives rise to chaos and vice versa. A perfectly ordered society, like Communism, will lead to uprisings and discontent, and a society of discontent will tend towards an ordered system. A prime example is that of the society in Germany that Marx was writing against. Aristocrats, Bourgeoisie, and Proletariats; an ordered society that in its form at the time of Marx was ordered so that nothing should have gone amiss, but from the order…Chaos ensued.
Marx made a mistake that other political philosophers have made, namely, a reduction of man. Helvetius, Locke, Calvin, Hobbes and others all thought, along with Marx, that they could reduce man to one quality and make a perfect society for man. However, they could not have succeeded, as man is not simply a being with one quality, but hundreds. You cannot impose a new system upon man that only serves the purpose of one aspect of a complex race and expect that man will just fall into it perfectly content with the system. T. S. Eliot, in his essay, Tradition and The Individual Talent, talks about poetry, in the sense that you cannot have a complete break with Tradition and still be within poetry, tradition links the past, present, and future. Although Eliot was writing about poetry, you can apply this idea to political structures as well. A complete break with tradition cannot, and will not, work with either poetry or societies, as there is a reason that certain aspects of poetry, and of society hold through the ages. “These are principles that every man, of every race can embrace! (Boondock Saints – The Movie)” They are things that, in society, relate to the beggar, the shopkeeper, the public official, the business mogul, the C. E. O., and the leader of a nation. When Marx creates a totally new system, breaking irreparably with tradition, he also removes those qualities that people can relate to. That is why Communism will never work out and The United States, whose Declaration of Independence was written, “Of the people, by the people, and for the people,” this is a statement proclaiming that this nation’s laws are those that are for every American and that they can all stand behind. With Communism, there is nothing of the sort.
Communism was inherently flawed. What with altruism, reductionism, believing that it was for everyone, and its breaking with tradition, there is no way that Marx’s idea of the perfectly free society could ever work. Man is too complex a being to ever accept something so different. With Communism, you are free, but at the same time your Humanity is suppressed. Abolishment of civil society would also be an abolishment of the possibility of man’s changing and improving the world in which he lives.

From the Archives: Net Neutrality Part 2

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Originally Posted on Nov 25th, 2009.

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So after I read that, this issue has consumed a good chunk of my waking hours. I cannot believe that this would even be an issue here in the USA, “The land of the free and the brave,” this would seem to be something more in line with The People’s Republic of China’s take on the internet (such as this interesting factoid, or even more disturbing, this act of censoring information). It seems, however that, because internet stores and businesses have surpassed physical locations, in revenue, especially internet advertising companies, as illustrated in this pdf, this is an issue that we must be concerned about!

As Paul Erdman once said “The entire essence of America is the hope to first make money — then make money with money — then make lots of money with lots of money.” This is true, at least in big business, and what better way to make lots of money than to make sure that your URL loads 10, 100, or 1,000 times faster than all of your competitors? I cannot think of one, for if your URL is the fastest loading, in this age of faster is better, then it won’t matter whose product is better, because people will not use the “other guy,” and soon, the “other guy,” will not exist to keep prices down.

If The Internet Preservation Act of 2009 does not pass, there are so many things that will crumble into rubble…I get depressed just thinking about it.

Please sign this petition to help stop Big Business from getting its way!

-wiggums

From The Archives: Net Neutrality: Part 1

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Originally Posted on Nov 25, 2009.

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Last week, I discovered This page and immediately signed the petition, as this is something that is of the utmost import. For those of you who do not know what Net Neutrality is even about, I will begin at the beginning.

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Taken from their FAQ:

What is this about?

When we log onto the Internet, we take a lot for granted. We assume we’ll be able to access any Web site we want, whenever we want, at the fastest speed, whether it’s a corporate or mom-and-pop site. We assume that we can use any service we like — watching online video, listening to podcasts, sending instant messages — anytime we choose. What makes all these assumptions possible is Net Neutrality.

What is Net Neutrality?

Net Neutrality is the guiding principle that preserves the free and open Internet.

Net Neutrality simply means no discrimination. Net Neutrality prevents Internet providers from blocking, speeding up or slowing down Web content based on its source, ownership or destination.

Net Neutrality is the reason the Internet has driven economic innovation, democratic participation and free speech online. It protects the consumer’s right to use any equipment, content, application or service without interference from the network provider. With Net Neutrality, the network’s only job is to move data — not to choose which data to privilege with higher quality service.

Learn more in Net Neutrality 101.

Who wants to get rid of Net Neutrality?

The nation’s largest telephone and cable companies — including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner Cable — want to be Internet gatekeepers, deciding which Web sites go fast or slow and which won’t load at all.

They want to tax content providers to guarantee speedy delivery of their data. And they want to discriminate in favor of their own search engines, Internet phone services and streaming video — while slowing down or blocking services offered by their competitors.

These companies have a new vision for the Internet. Instead of a level playing field, they want to reserve express lanes for their own content and services — or those of big corporations that can afford the steep tolls — and leave the rest of us on a winding dirt road.

The big phone and cable companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to gut Net Neutrality, putting the future of the Internet at risk.

Is Net Neutrality a new regulation?

Absolutely not. Net Neutrality has been part of the Internet since its inception. Pioneers like Vint Cerf and Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, always intended the Internet to be a neutral network. And non-discrimination provisions like Net Neutrality have governed the nation’s communications networks since the 1920s.

But as a consequence of a 2005 decision by the Federal Communications Commission, Net Neutrality — the foundation of the free and open Internet — was put in jeopardy. Now, cable and phone company lobbyists are pushing to block legislation that would reinstate Net Neutrality.

Writing Net Neutrality into law would preserve the freedoms we currently enjoy on the Internet. For all their talk about “deregulation,” the cable and phone giants don’t want real competition. They want special rules written in their favor.

Isn’t the threat to Net Neutrality just hypothetical?

No. By far the most significant evidence of the network owners’ plans to discriminate is their stated intent to do so.

The CEOs of all the largest telecom companies have been clear about their plans to build a tiered Internet with faster service for the select few companies willing or able to pay exorbitant tolls. Net Neutrality advocates are not imagining a doomsday scenario. We are taking the telecom execs at their word.

So far, we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. But numerous examples show that without Net Neutrality requirements, Internet service providers will discriminate against content and competing services they don’t like. This type of censorship will become the norm unless we act now. Given the chance, these gatekeepers will consistently put their own interests before the public good.

The cable and phone companies already dominate the broadband marketplace. And when network owners start abusing their control of the pipes, there will be nowhere else for consumers to turn.

Isn’t this just a battle between giant corporations?

No. Our opponents would like to paint this debate as a clash of corporate titans. But the real story is the millions of everyday people fighting for their Internet freedom.

Small business owners benefit from an Internet that allows them to compete directly — not one where they can’t afford the price of entry. Net Neutrality ensures that innovators can start small and dream big about being the next EBay or Google without facing insurmountable hurdles. Without Net Neutrality, startups and entrepreneurs will be muscled out of the marketplace by big corporations that pay for a top spot on the Web.

If Congress turns the Internet over to the telecom giants, everyone who uses the Internet will be affected. Connecting to your office could take longer if you don’t purchase your carrier’s preferred applications. Sending family photos and videos could slow to a crawl. Web pages you always use for online banking, access to health care information, planning a trip, or communicating with friends and family could fall victim to pay-for-speed schemes.

Independent voices and political groups are especially vulnerable. Costs will skyrocket to post and share video and audio clips, silencing bloggers and amplifying the voices of the big media companies. Political organizing could be slowed by the handful of dominant Internet providers that ask advocacy groups or candidates to pay to join the “fast lane.”

What else are the phone and cable companies not telling the truth about?

AT&T and other telecom giants have funded a massive misinformation campaign, filled with deceptive advertising and “Astroturf” groups like Hands Off the Internet and NetCompetition.org.

Learn how to separate the myths from the realities in our report, Network Neutrality: Fact vs. Fiction.

What’s at stake if we lose Net Neutrality?

The consequences of a world without Net Neutrality would be devastating. Innovation would be stifled, competition limited, and access to information restricted. Consumer choice and the free market would be sacrificed to the interests of a few corporations.

On the Internet, consumers are in ultimate control — deciding between content, applications and services available anywhere, no matter who owns the network. There’s no middleman. But without Net Neutrality, the Internet will look more like cable TV. Network owners will decide which channels, content and applications are available; consumers will have to choose from their menu.

The free and open Internet brings with it the revolutionary possibility that any Internet site could have the reach of a TV or radio station. The loss of Net Neutrality would end this unparalleled opportunity for freedom of expression.

The Internet has always been driven by innovation. Web sites and services succeed or fail on their own merits. Without Net Neutrality, decisions now made collectively by millions of users will be made in corporate boardrooms. The choice we face now is whether we can choose the content and services we want, or whether the broadband barons will choose for us.

What’s happening in Congress?

In August 2009, Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) introduced the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009 (H.R. 3458). This landmark legislation would protect Net Neutrality under the Communications Act, safeguarding the future of the open Internet and protecting Internet users from discrimination online.

Urge your member of Congress to support this important piece of legislation today!

The SavetheInternet.com coalition also applauds the recent passage of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The law, which allocates $7.2 billion to expand broadband access and adoption, attaches open Internet conditions to all broadband networks built with public funds.

But these conditions only apply to the broadband lines built with federal stimulus money. We need to make Net Neutrality the law of the land to ensure that all networks are open and free from discrimination. That’s why the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009 (H.R. 3458) is so important. Take action today to pass this bill and to make Net Neutrality the law.

Who’s part of the SavetheInternet.com Coalition?

The SavetheInternet.com Coalition is made up of hundreds of groups from across the political spectrum that are concerned about maintaining a free and open Internet. Click here to see a list of coalition members.

No corporation or political party funds our efforts. We simply agree to a statement of principles in support of Internet freedom.

The coalition is being coordinated by Free Press, a national, nonpartisan organization working to reform the media. Please complete this brief survey if your group would like to join this broad, bipartisan effort to save the Internet.

Who else supports Net Neutrality?

The supporters of Net Neutrality include leading tech companies such as Amazon.com, EBay, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Facebook, Skype and Yahoo. Prominent national figures such as Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig and Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps have called for stronger Net Neutrality protections.

President Barack Obama himself pledged to “take a back seat to no one” in his commitment to Net Neutrality. And the administration’s technology policies now posted on the White House Web site list Net Neutrality as the top priority.

Editorial boards at the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Seattle Times, St. Petersburg Times and Christian Science Monitor have all have urged Congress to save the Internet.

What can I do to help?

Sign the SavetheInternet.com petition and tell Congress to pass Net Neutrality legislation now.

Show your support for Internet freedom on your Web site or blog.

Tell your friends about this crucial issue before it’s too late

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From the Archives: Music, The “Industry,” and Pity…

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I found this in one of my old WordPress accounts, and I figured that this was as good a place as any to put it. This was originally posted on April 24th, 2009.

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The current American music industry angers me more and more every day…for one thing, unless an artist stays with an independent label or puts out their own albums, real artists don’t make it, just those “artists” that are either recording songs and albums to make money or because they are “hot” and they will get play time because hormone driven teenagers determine that because they have a good body and they don’t mind acting like a slut on camera, they are an “artist.” What about the real artists that are making music because they LOVE MUSIC!!?? I am talking about the people that have been struggling and striving to make their music an art since they were knee high to a grasshopper. Those people that write their own music, music which is poetry to the ears and the soul…and people who actually play all of their own beats and rhythms…

Unfortunately, in this age of instant gratification, it is counter productive, or so the studios want us to believe, to take two and a half years to record an Album…and I am talking about an Album, not an album, which, to clarify, Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” or for that matter, any Pink Floyd album is an Album…a series of tracks that have common themes, or, if they do not, they have incredible transitions, which make the album connected, at least in the musical themes. I am talking about, say AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” rather than, for example whatever teen idol is popular this week. Albums that will still be selling copies twenty years from now…Albums that were written for the music’s sake…not to make money, and certainly not just to record an album.

I HATE Simon Cowell and what he has done to the music industry…American Idol has destroyed the music industry…for every genuine Artiste that shows up on that hypocrisy, there are 1500 idiotic assholes that only showed up so they could be on television…and that is a conservative estimate.  I mean, have you ever listened to a Kelly Clarkson song? Unfortunately, I have, and let me tell you it is blatantly obvious to an audiophile such as myself that this girl has almost no love for the music, it is all for the money and the fame…how sad is that, when people will do something that they can barely tolerate in order to make money? Personally, I would rather struggle and strive at something for fifteen or twenty years, but have True Passion for! Actually, I feel sorry for Hannah Montana/Mylie Cyrus, The Jonas Brothers, Kelly Clarkson, etc. As of five minutes ago, I wouldn’t have said that, but it wasn’t True five minutes ago…they are going to be doing this as long as it makes the studios money, which is about as long as teens are going to be worshiping them…and then they will be cut loose in 2 or 5 or 10 years with no idea what they want to do with their lives and either go on trying to make it and revise their music into something worthwhile…as that is the only way they know to make money, and they don’t know how to do anything else.

Although, I can’t totally blame Simon Cowell, for if the music industry was the way it was in the 60’s, hell even the 80’s, He wouldn’t have even been able to get a foothold. I mean we had them actively searching for true art rather than waiting for money making clowns to get dropped in their laps…I mean how many actual musicians do you think are on any of the boards of any of the major labels? I mean, I hate to say it, but if Pink Floyd were appearing now instead of when they did…they probably have been told to get lost, and music today would be an entirely differerent animal…