current events – October 16, 2011

two stories and questions (and short answers):

gawker – right wing version of we are the 99 percent is heartbreaking

I work 3 jobs.
I have a house a can’t sell.
My family insurance costs are outrageous.
But I don’t blame Wall Street.
Suck it up you whiners.
I am the 53% subsidizing you so you can hang out on Wall Street and complain.

This is where the best of American values meet their most masochistic applications. Did you work 60-70 hours a week for nearly a decade to get a college degree after serving in this country’s military? This is America! Drive on! Do you now have two different jobs, neither of which will pay you insurance? Suck it up, whiner! Driving a shitty car and narrowly making ends meet? Stop whining and suck it up! And if any of those problems are directly attributable to reckless, self-serving behavior on the part of enormous banking conglomerates, for God’s sake don’t blame them! You are the 53 percent!

(named after the 53% who pay taxes)

what are we entitled to? what are “basic human rights”? reminds me of the republican debate where people cheered when people died. should we be guaranteed things like a living wage, and basic healthcare?

what is “fair”? should one very, very small portion of the population be “allowed” to prosper while the majority of people can’t move up in the world? should the 1% subsidize the 99% even more than what they are doing now? I think this is a really dicey question. I really have absolutely no idea what the answer to this question is. some charts:

so-what-does-all-this-mean-in-terms-of-net-worth-well-for-starters-it-means-that-the-top-1-of-americans-own-42-of-the-financial-wealth-in-this-country-the-top-5-meanwhile-own-nearly-70
always reminds me of this classroom experiment where 10 students get 10 chairs. 1 person gets to take up 8 chairs, 1 person gets 1 chair, 3 people split the last chair, and 5 people don’t get to sit at all.

in-fact-income-inequality-has-gotten-so-extreme-here-that-the-us-now-ranks-93rd-in-the-world-in-income-equality-chinas-ahead-of-us-so-is-india-so-is-iran
the united states has one of the most unequal economies, even more unequal than china.

ceo-pay-has-skyrocketed-300-since-1990-corporate-profits-have-doubled-average-production-worker-pay-has-increased-4-the-minimum-wage-has-dropped-all-numbers-adjusted-for-inflation
people living in the lower brackets are making less “real” money than they have previously.

economix-11securities-custom1
people working in finance are making way more than they used to.

source

what exactly does occupy wall street want to accomplish? I think we all agree that it is a populist movement that is trying to express frustration with the way things have went/are going. but I don’t think anyone really knows what tangible things they want to accomplish. would imagine it would be something along the lines of banking regulation and getting people to “pay” for “destroying the economy”.

is protesting the best way of accomplishing what they want to accomplish? I would actually wager… yes on this one.

is there a benefit to “suffering”? don’t even know if this is nietzschean, but will attribute this to him. that our culture/society has taught us that suffering will make us better people, I think is… questionable.

nietzsche, summarized:

  • proverbial lambs disliked proverbial birds of prey (99% vs. 1%)
  • lambs vilified birds as evil, because they choose to be evil with their strength
  • what lambs don’t think: “we’re weak, we couldn’t do anything more if we wanted to”
  • what lambs do think: “there is a virtue and merit to suffering that birds never get to experience”

[okay, definitely pulled out my genealogy of morals (first essay, section 13) from ihum. makes as little sense as it did when I first read it. don’t think I’m quite cut out for philosophy. is the above paraphrasing even right!? I remember being totally obsessed with this idea in college.]

I always feel this way about heartbreak; people are always like “hey, now you are so much more prepared for the next heartbreak, think about how much you grew. other people won’t know what it’s like to be heartbroken.” or “oh, they’ve just had money all their life and don’t know how to use money wisely, they’ll be in trouble in the long run.” no, I would rather just not be heartbroken and just be rich.

is it a good thing that financial firms are taking up the nation’s best talent for “socially useless” jobs? this op ed argues no. counterpoint would be that you need smart people to stop the next bubble/etc. but as we know, humans are greedy people and are generally willing to act irrationally if money is involved.

gawker – steve jobs wasn’t god

Among my Facebook friends yesterday,more than one wrote publicly that they were “crying” or “can’t stop crying” or “teared up” due to Steve Jobs’ death. Really now. You can’t stop crying, now that you’ve heard that a middle-aged CEO has passed on, after a long battle with cancer? If humans were always so empathetic, well, that would be understandable. But this type of one-upmanship of public displays of grief is both unbecoming and undeserved.

totally felt this way on the night of steve jobs’ death.  it was weird because I felt really moved as well, but couldn’t exactly explain why I was so bothered by this random guy’s death.  and because I am not a huge fan of apple.

what exactly has steve jobs done for humanity?  (answers range anywhere from “put a blackberry in a nice case” and “revolutionized the way we interact with technology”. I would wager it is somewhere in between)

is this all attributable to steve jobs? I think he hired a lot of talented designers and engineers, but I don’t think that steve jobs is “responsible” for the iphone/ipod/etc the way that we hold him up to be.

should steve jobs be more appreciated than those who sacrificed so much more for much more nobler causes?  what does it say about society if we care more about the head of an incredibly profitable, hip company (and celebrities at large) than, say, a civil rights leader who was beaten and jailed to uphold human rights? I’ve discussed this point with several people, but can’t seem to get any traction on this argument.  I do think it does say something negative about values in society, but I am equally at fault. 

how much does timing matter?  it helps that apple is currently the hottest thing in the world right now, that apple is peaking.  it is tragic that steve jobs died so young. 

best comment response:

You are going to look pretty foolish in three days when the rock rolls away.

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