Why this dog has to die.

A common claim by the antireligious is that religion can and should be blamed for the wealth of atrocities committed in its name.  From the Crusades to the bombing of abortion clinics, religion is to shoulder the blame for the sins of those who claim it justifies mass murder.  By that logic, this poor lil’ pup is to be held accountable for six murders committed by David Berkowitz in 1976 and 1977.  Sorry Harvey, but it’s your word against his, and you can’t talk, ’cause you’re a dog.  Don’t worry though, you’re in good company.  Last week we put J. D. Salinger to death for the murders of John Lennon, Rebecca Schaeffer, and the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan.  And while we’re doing away with any arbitrary reason people might use to murder, we better get rid of love, lust, power, property, politics, money, drugs, music, books, food, water, shelter, nature… let’s see, anything else?

 

US Gov’t Shuts Down In Wake Of “Breaking Bad” Finale

 

At 12:01am EDT, the Federal Government of the United States finished the series finale of AMC’s Breaking Bad, and, unsure of what to do with itself, decided to shut down indefinitely.  The central government of the world’s foremost superpower was forced to postpone its viewing of the highly-anticipated television event, as it had a “thing to go to” Sunday night.  But as soon as it had finished the no-holds-barred nail-biting final episode late Monday night, it announced that it would need some time to recover.  “I just don’t know what to do with my life now that it’s over,” decried the legislative branch.  “Without ‘B Bad’ to look forward to every week,” sniffed the judicial branch, “what’s the point?”  President Obama could not be reached for comment, but could be heard whimpering the lyrics to “Baby Blue” from the Oval Office.  When asked how long it would need to deal with the emotional stress of not seeing its favorite characters return to its TV set every week, the global standard for a functional democracy stated, “I don’t know.  Maybe when Walking Dead comes back I’ll think about getting out of bed.”  This is the first time the US Government has shut down since the finale of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in 1996, and may have as much of an impact on the economy as the recession caused by the end of The Wire in 2008.

Daily Show Sums Up America’s Biggest Problems

I’m usually not one to do a post like this, but this segment of The Daily Show just struck me as near genius. John Oliver, in Jon Stewart’s absence, teams with correspondent Jessica Williams to neatly sum up two of the biggest problems in America in a hilarious and deliciously ironic joke news segment that, as often happens on the show, is more relevant and topical than any other news show on the air.

If you’re short on time, I’d suggest the second video for the crux of the joke.

 

Rand Rants Part 2: Ignoring the Obvious

Ayn Rand

You’d think it’d be obvious that, when creating a ‘new philosophy,’ that you’d have to provide some argument against the obvious and inherent alternative to your philosophy.  Especially when that alternative is 300 years old and a widely held as a philosophical standard.  But when touting their completely unprecedented philosophy they call Objectivism, Rand and Peikof don’t even address the obvious opposition to this philosophy, Subjectivism.  From the Wikipedia page:

“Subjectivism is the philosophical tenet that “our own mental activity is the only unquestionable fact of our experience”.[1] The success of this position is historically attributed to Descartes and his methodic doubt.”

Along with basically inventing graphs, Descartes laid the groundwork for modern philosophy, basing his technique on methodic doubt, something Rand and Peikof seem to have been born without.  He called into question every knowledge claim that he could think of, and ultimately determined that he could only know for certain that he exists, because he can doubt these claims.  Hence his famous line, “I think, therefore I am.”  Every other facet of his existence and perception was subject to some degree of doubt, and so cannot be said to be wholly true.  Yet Rand and Peikof claim, without providing any argument against his reasoning, that reality exists objectively, independent of consciousness.

Along with completely ignoring, while at the same time opposing, Descartes’ subjectivism, Rand and Peikof completely ignore subjective experience as part of their logical equations.  Their attempt to prove the axiom of existence, through the character of John Galt in Atlas Shrugged, goes something like this:

“If nothing exists, there can be no consciousness: a consciousness with nothing to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms. A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms: before it could identify itself as consciousness, it had to be conscious of something. If that which you claim to perceive does not exist, what you possess is not consciousness.”

Sound logic yes?  But the something of which you must be conscious is not objective reality.  Descartes is quite clear that the only thing of which he is conscious is his own thoughts.  What we are aware of is the experience of our senses, i.e. subjective experience.  Whether or not the data gathered from our senses corresponds to objects that exist independently, is something that Descartes showed as clearly dubious.  We know that we cannot always trust our senses, and we also know that what we actually experience is our brains’ interpretation of that data, not the data itself.  But Rand and Peikof need not doubt these things, because they simply know them.  They are axioms, and hence unquestionable.  Even though the father of modern philosophy saw fit to question them, according to Rand, we don’t need to at all.

Rand Rants Part 1: Objecting to Objectivism

There’s a debate going on on Dan O’Brian’s blog The Search for Truth about Ayn Rand’s Objectivism.  I had never read much by or about Ayn Rand, but this debate sparked my interest, mainly because I had no idea that she dabbled in pure philosophy.  And by dabble, I mean she dips her toes in just enough to get wet and then says she went swimming.  The more I read of her ‘philosophy,’ the more I want to bring her back from the dead just to slap her across the face.  Yet for some reason, I can’t stop reading it; it’s like picking at a scab.  It’s frustrated me so much that I’ve come back from a short hiatus just to write a series of posts strictly dedicated to deconstructing every facet of her flawed ‘logic.’  I’m not sure how many I’ll write, depending on how soon this rage wares off, but hopefully it will be more than just this one.  If these posts seem a bit unorganized and ranting, I apologize, but that’s just the kind of thing someone like her does to my ADD-addled brain.  It’s hard to even pick a place to begin with her, but I suppose it’s best to start at the foundation of her self-proclaimed ‘new philosophy.’

When introducing her philosophy, Rand audaciously claims that it is unprecedented and entirely of her own conjuring, which should be a huge red flag to anyone interested in philosophy.  She also claims that it is a philosophy based entirely on reason, and that reasoning is the only way a person makes sense of the world, so it seems odd that she doesn’t even consider that another person could reasonably come to the same conclusions she has, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Rand calls her entirely new and revolutionary philosophy ‘Objectivism,’ opting against ‘Randism’ as Mike Wallace suggests in his 1959 interview with her (though it wouldn’t be out of character for her).  Objectivism is based on three propositions that Rand claims are ‘axioms.’  This an extremely convenient way to start a philosophical discussion, because an axiom, by definition, cannot be called into question.  By claiming these propositions are axioms, besides kicking logic squarely in the scrotum, Rand evades the very line of questioning that would unravel her entire philosophy.  Let’s take a look at each of these ‘axioms’ in depth, and see if they are in fact unquestionable.

The first axiom is the axiom of existence.  The simplest explanation of this axiom that Rand provides is “Existence exists.”  This is a bafflingly muddled and ultimately meaningless statement for several reasons.  If Rand means existence as ‘the state of existing,’ then the statement is definitively untrue.  ‘Existence’ by definition does not have the attributes of itself, i.e. can’t exist or not exist.  If we start to argue for or against the existence of existence, then we end up in a grammatical conundrum of endless meaninglessness, so let’s hop off that train right now.  Rand clarifies this axiom in The Objectivist Newsletter (1962) by stating, “Reality exists as an objective absolute – facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes, or fears.”  This seems to be Rand’s attempt to completely disregard the entire branch of philosophy known as metaphysics.  The objective existence of reality may be one of the oldest questions of philosophy, and one that has yet to be definitively answered, except by Rand’s own volition.  To claim this proposition to be true beyond question is to completely undermine the works of Aristotle, DesCartes, Kant, Russell, and of course, our boy Wittgenstein, just to name a few.  The second part of the statement just shows more of Rand’s ignorance, as well as her tendency to generalize all opposition to her theory as superstition.  If she were a real philosopher, that statement might have gone something like ‘facts are the case independent of consciousness,’ which is just untrue.  Facts do not exist in objective reality.  A fact is something understood by a mind.  The fact that a cup is blue is not a physical object.  The cup is a physical object, blue is a certain wavelength of light, but the blueness of the cup is something understood by a conscious observer.  Leonard Peikoff, a Rand acolyte who is much more well-versed in philosophy than herself, clarifies even further, stating, “If nothing exists, there can be no consciousness: a consciousness with nothing to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms.”  This is logically true, but it does not prove the objective existence of reality.  If I hallucinate an object, then I am conscious of something that doesn’t exist.  You could argue that the object exists as a construct of my consciousness, and so exists in reality, but this is not the ‘objectively absolute’ reality that Rand claims exists.

The second axiom is that of consciousness.  It’s at this point that anyone who’s read even a little bit of philosophy would throw their hands up in frustration.  These first two axioms combined completely contradict Cartesian Dualism, arguably the most widely-held philosophy of mind, without directly addressing it or providing any kind of argument against it.  Once again, Rand states these as axioms to avoid any such discussion, and fails to see that in an objectively absolute reality, consciousness cannot exist.  Rand also claims that existence has primacy over consciousness, that consciousness conforms to existence.  Again, providing no evidence or reasoning, she and her lackey Peikoff claim this as axiomatic, and that any philosophy that claims the primacy of consciousness is mystical, superstitious mumbo jumbo, despite the overwhelming evidence that consciousness does in fact directly affect reality.

The final axiom is the law of identity.  This is a law of logic set down by Aristotle, and may be the only actual axiom of the three.  The law of identity is that “A is A,” that a thing is itself.  This is foundational for defining logic and is hardly new to philosophy, though Rand and her devil’s advocate Peikoff claim that “You have never grasped the meaning of his statement. I am here to complete it: Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification.”  And the audacity continues.  With not even a morsel of respect for any thinker since Aristotle, Peikoff claims, based on Rand’s teachings, that no one has fully understood this basic and not-at-all-hard-to-understand principle of logic.  They use this axiom to neatly tie together all three into an absurd and unfounded statement that defines their entire philosophy, and which, according to them, is not subject to debate.

Stay tuned for more ranting about this non-philosophic philosophy and its self-obsessed and deluded founder. 🙂

How to Redefine Marriage

hipster henry viii

 

I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about,” Chick-Fila-A’s Dan Cathy

Despite the countless examples of why marriage has never been ‘traditionally defined’ the way they think it is, fundamentalists still stick to the argument that allowing gays to marry would be ‘redefining’ marriage.  And because marriage is a religious institution, according to them, the government has no authority to do so.  You could waste your time trying to present a logical argument to these people, but if they were logical, they wouldn’t be fundamentalists.  Instead, I say fight fire with fire.  If marriage is a religious institution, you have every right to form a new religion that defines marriage anyway you’d like.  Then by supporting heterosexual marriage and not homosexual marriage, the government would be violating the first amendment by “respecting an establishment of religion” and “prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  Think this is an original approach?  Think again!  Turns out it was done 500 years ago, with Christianity!  In fact, the Protestant Reformation, which paved the way for nearly every denomination of Christianity besides Catholicism, was sparked in part by one man’s wish to redefine marriage.

Henry VIII was the King of England from 1509 to 1541.  At the time, England was a Catholic country, part of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.  But after Henry’s wife Catherine of Aragon did not bear him a male heir (and after he decided that he liked her cousins more), he needed a way to get out of his marriage.  Pope Clement VII denied his request for an annulment on the grounds that it violated church doctrine, so Henry, undeterred, decided to form his own church whose doctrine would allow his annulment.  Thus began the Church of England, one of the first official Protestant Churches in Europe.  It is to this redefinition of marriage that all major denominations of Protestantism in America owe their freedom to practice their religion, including Baptists, undoubtedly the most outspoken opponents to gay marriage.

Now the good news is that we live in a day and age where you don’t have to be a king to start a new religion, and you don’t have to go around destroying all the churches that disagree with you, as Henry did.  All you have to do is decide to start one and voila! it shall be done.  As a matter of fact….

I hereby proclaim a new religion that I shall call Equalitism.  Its doctrines are simple:

1. Love everybody.

2. Gays can get married.

Bam! Now any government that does not recognize the rights of gays to marry is violating my constitutional right to practice my religion.  Anyone care to be a disciple?

U.S. Healthcare is NOT a free market

“…the U.S. health care system doesn’t operate according to the standards of competition that govern other industries.”

If we Americans believe in the free market, why do we continuously let industries like healthcare and finance go unchecked by free market economics. Freedom in any form must be fought for, or did we forget that at some point?  It’s time to overthrow these economic tyrants and free these industries from authoritarianism.

Why the government does NOT have a bigger concern than gay marriage.

Image

So if you haven’t gotten on the internet at all the past couple days, you may be surprised today to find your news feed painted red. A little more digging might reveal to you that it all has to do with gay marriage. So what about gay marriage, you ask?  Well since you’re too lazy to do a quick google search, I’ll spell it out for you.  Due to a supreme court hearing about California’s Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriages Tuesday and a discussion about striking down the Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday, millions of gay rights advocates showed their support for the cause on social media websites (meaning facebook).  Now of course with any social media trend, there have been some dissenters.  And while most of them can be dismissed as hateful bigots, there are some attempting to be rational and reasonable in their refusal to support the cause.  The most frequent opposing response is that the government has ‘better things to do.’  It’s an amazing coincidence that the majority of these responses came from far-right conservatives, and so seemed like a safe way for them to cover up their real opinions about the issue by simply changing the subject, but for those who legitimately think that this is a sound argument, let me offer my two cents.

First of all, just to clear the air, there is absolutely NO REASON to oppose gay marriage or federal rights to same-sex couples that does not stem from hate, fear, or senseless adherence to tradition (or just general squeemishness). You may say, “But Logan, marriage is an institution of religion, so shouldn’t religious institutions make the final call?” Well let me begin my rebuttal with BULLSHIT!! Marriage and religion both developed before recorded history, and our earliest religious texts describe marriage and its rituals, so it can be argued that marriage actually predates religion.  Also this is just another semantic argument to avoid the issue, because marriage clearly has more influence on a person’s role in society and legal status than in their church.  But one might say, “But Logan, gay couples can get civil unions and domestic partnerships. Isn’t that enough?”  And my response would be an outright NO, YOU DUMBASS!!  Was 3/5 of a vote enough?  These are human fucking beings, just like you!  You’ve done absolutely nothing to earn the right to marriage, so you have no right to deny it to someone else.  This is ethics 101 people, the golden fucking rule!

But I’m not going to sit here and debunk all the inane reasons to oppose gay marriage.  This post was to debate the argument that the government ‘should have bigger concerns.’  While I agree that the government has some HUGE issues to deal with right now, not the least of which being economic reform, they have been making consistent progress on most of these issues for the past few years.  And while this may not be a big issue to you, it is a HUGE issue to the people it will affect, probably the biggest political issue to them by far!  So to say that because it’s not a big deal to you, that it shouldn’t be a big deal to the government, is selfish and narrow-minded.  Moreover, this is a human rights issue, one that should have been settled decades ago, so it should take some sort of precedence.  Furthermore (I am KILLIN’ IT with these transition words today), let’s not forget that there are literally hundreds of branches and committees and subcommittees that comprise the government, so just because the Supreme Court is ruling on this, and millions of people are showing their support for it, does not mean the rest of the government has stopped what it’s doing to pay attention.  The government, like a kid with ADD, has the wonderful ability to multitask, so whenever anyone says that the government is ‘focusing it’s attention’ on something, please feel free to call that person a dumbass.

Warped Rationales

So I know that in my last post I preambled that I don’t intend to post too much political opinion on this blog, but seeing as this has to do with perspectives and changing your mindset and all that good stuff that this blog was supposed to be about… here goes nothing.

It continues to amaze me the warped rationales that people have in this country in regards to politics.  You could be talking to someone who seems completely rational, and as soon as something slightly political comes up, they turn into a ranting raving lunatic.  Why is it that we put so much energy into things so far beyond our control?  It’s one thing if you’re an activist and your passionate about your work, but if you’re not involved in politics at all and just enjoy having an opinion, why do you have to shout it at the top of your lungs?

I like to think of myself as pretty middle-of-the-road, but I’ll admit that my beliefs are more liberally-aligned than not.  I’m from a very conservative community in southern Louisiana, so I was pretty liberal there, but I live in Los Angeles now and I feel more conservative than ever when I’m here.  I don’t eat vegan or even vegetarian (the animals we eat only exist because we breed them for eating.  Ever seen a wild cow or chicken?  No?  That’s because they wouldn’t survive!  They’d be eaten.  By other animals.) , I think that labeling food “organic” or “all-natural” is just a way for businesses to jack up prices, and I was opposed to Prop 37, which would have required genetically modified food to be labelled as such, driving customers away from those products.  Personally, I think genetically modified food is a crowning human achievement, and we don’t use it to its full extent.  If someone could genetically modify pizza to have all the vitamins and nutrients to make me healthy, I would be in paradise!  Granted most producers use it to simply grow bigger, more abundant food, but if it helps out local farmers, I say go for it; we’re losing a food battle to China right now.  Also I believe its your own responsibility to research the food you buy if you’re that concerned about it.

Anyways, back to the point.  Generally I find extremism on either side of the political spectrum to be absurd, but somehow there’s something more endearing to me about a flag-burning revolutionary anarchist or a pot-smoking hippie than a racist homophobic redneck or an old white billionaire with a monocle puffing on a cigar (not to stereotype extremists, but… no you know what, fuck ’em).  I don’t think that bringing down corporations or redistributing wealth is a good solution; it’s true that we need multi-billion dollar businesses to drive our economy by making investments and so on.  But I also don’t think that completely cutting out any program that benefits the poor is practical at all.  So there’s warped rationales on either end of the spectrum, yet somehow it seems the the conservative extreme is more permeating and publicized than the liberal extreme.  Maybe it’s simply that conservatives are more vocal about their opinions than liberals, or maybe the liberal opinion lends itself towards bowing out of political discussions altogether, and so is rarely heard.  So I apologize if this post is aimed mostly toward dispelling extreme conservative ideals, but it’s what I find myself bombarded by the most so I have to say something about it.

The rationale that some people use to justify their political opinions flies in the face of logical thinking, and oftentimes the individual’s own personal beliefs.  It seems so backwards to me that people let political agendas guide their personal beliefs instead of the other way around.  One of these hypocricies that continues to baffle me is the gargantuan amounts of ‘Christian conservatives’ who argue against welfare and other benefits to the poor.  Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t that contradict just about EVERYTHING that Jesus taught?  It seems so strange that a religion that’s based entirely on helping the poor has become associated with the political party that is so oppositely aligned.

Aside from contradicting personal beliefs, there are some ‘political’ opinions out there that contradict good solid facts.  The ever-popular conservative belief that the poor are poor and the rich are rich because the rich work hard and the poor are slackers, is just flat out absurd.  One look at a history book will tell you the exact opposite.  The Pharaoh didn’t build the pyramids, he ordered his subjects to build them while he sat on his throne and was fanned with palm leaves or whatever.  Now it is a blessing that we live in a time when you can rise on the socioeconomic ladder if you are determined enough, but on a large scale, the historical trend of the rich reaping the benefits of the poor still reigns true.  The entirety of history is a struggle for power.  Even before humans rose to be the dominant species, the whole of life was a struggle to get as much food as possible.  As soon as we invented money, it became an externalization of power amongst ourselves.  Now we’ve spent the last 500 years trying to decentralize power in our societies and make it easier for more people to live comfortably.  Yet there’s a ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality among conservatives that seems to me like back-pedaling.  If we let our societies be governed by those principles, we end up in the dark ages where people are murdering their brothers to become king, not to mention a stagnant socioeconomic scale with absolutely no upward mobility.  Survival of the fittest is the law of nature, and we as human beings have done nothing but try to separate ourselves from nature ever since we first started building houses to live in.  The point of any society, even among animals, is to protect the weaker individuals and provide for the well-being of all members of the group.  We didn’t become the dominant species on earth by letting our poor or our weak die in the street, we did it by helping each other out and knowing that every human has something to contribute to our society.

But if you don’t feel like talking in generalities, let’s get specific.  My father worked his ass off his entire life and started a chain of physical therapy and rehabilitation clinics in New Orleans.  I came to find out later that my father was on the verge of being able to sell his company for enough money for he and my mother to retire comfortably.  However, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina came along, knocking out two of his offices right away, and causing another two to shut down due to poor business in the aftermath.  As they started to lose income, my mother started working in real estate, taking advice from her friends who were all having great success.  Unfortunately, she decided to do this right before the housing market collapsed.  Compounding on all of that, my brother and my sister and I all started college within the next three years.  My father would be damned if he was going to let this setback prevent his kids from going to good colleges, so in order to help pay my tuition, he applied for a Pell Grant.  It was not long into Obama’s presidency, and not long into my tenure at college, that I heard conservatives bashing Pell Grants and other “entitlements” as being reserved for lazy slackers on welfare.  Now, anyone who knows my father would tell you he is the opposite of a slacker.  He’s a workaholic.  He worked his ass off his entire life and he continues to do so.  He applied for a government grant because he NEEDED to.  Like most people who acquire entitlements NEED them.  Sure, there were always be a percentage of people who are lazy and collect welfare in order to get by, but that doesn’t mean we should punish everyone else for it.  We don’t take away tax incentives because some millionaires choose to abuse them to launder their money, do we?

The most recent political atrocity is the renewed interest in gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.  The tragedy was barely over before people started spouting their political agendas all over the media.  Can’t we have a second as a country to mourn the death of children before we’re at each other’s throats again?  It’s completely natural to want to find someone or something to blame for a tragedy of this magnitude, so it’s easy to understand why the victims’ families and community are calling for action on gun control policy.  But some of the backlash they received almost immediately from opponents to gun control was frankly disgusting.  These people are bereaved beyond anything most of us can imagine, yet some people didn’t so much as hesitate before calling them ‘unconstitutional’ or ‘un-American.’  If you’re friend’s dad died of lung cancer, you wouldn’t immediately pull out a cigarette and start puffing away, would you?  You’d probably stop smoking around him for a good while wouldn’t you?  So let these people have their say, for God’s sake.  Personally I think that the harder it is to get a gun, the better.  If you are an enthusiast or you are truly concerned for your own protection, there will always be proper avenues to go through to get firearms.  However, I don’t think any amount of gun control can stop a determined psychopath from committing tragedies like this.  It’s hard to hear, but sometimes there just isn’t an easy solution to problems like this.  We can’t keep tabs on everyone who seems a little depressed, and we can’t start arming teachers as some people have suggested.  (If any of the teachers I had growing up had a gun in class, I probably would have been shot by now.)  I’m not opposed to providing schools with trained law enforcement officials or even private security, but it’s a sad fact that some schools simply can’t afford to do that.  Like most other problems, the solution to this one lies within each of us.  If we can simply provide a more supportive and encouraging environment to young people, and people in general, than there wouldn’t be incidents like this.  Whatever government action is taken from here on out, just know that the only real way to stop people from hating is to love them.

So once again, I apologize if this post is a little biased, but it’s in response to numerous ridiculous ideologies I encounter on a regular basis.  Call me crazy, but I just like to organize my thoughts calmly rather than to shout them out at the top of my lungs.  Thanks for reading and please feel free to argue with me as much as you want. Peace!

Token Election Post

I had no intention of posting anything on this blog about politics… ever.  But seeing as it’s been a while since my last post, and the optimal timing, I decided to take this time to give my thoughts about this election and the state of politics in general.  So please, feel free to stop reading this at any time.  I would.

Let me start by saying that I’m not voting.  Now before you say that I shouldn’t be talking if I’m not voting, let me explain.  As it stands, I could have either registered to vote in Los Angeles County, or vote by absentee ballot in St. Tammany Parish Louisiana (yeah we have parishes instead of counties cause we’re that fucking cool).  I probably don’t have to tell you that Los Angeles County will  go blue, but you’re just going to have to take my word for it that St. Tammany Parish will go red (unless you want to do the research yourself, go ahead I’ll wait).  So either way, my vote will be a pretty insignificant one in the long run.  Whether you agree with me or not, it’s already election day, and I’m at work all day, so I won’t be able to register anyway.  Sorry.  Get over it.  Move on.

If I was voting, though, my vote would be against Mitt Romney.  As Larry King has said, this is an against election, meaning that most people in this election aren’t so much voting for their candidate as they are voting against the other.  What this says about the state of politics in our country… I’m not sure.  I don’t think that Obama has done a terrific job of running the country so far, but it’s pretty clear to me that Romney is not the right choice in this election.  For brevity’s sake, I’m going to focus on what I and most others believe is the biggest issue in this election.  You guessed it!  The economy.  I’ve heard some moderate republicans and independents say that they disagree with Romney on most social issues, but that his policies will save our economy.  To those people I say, how?  Sure he did a great job at that first debate.  He really seemed to know his shit when it comes to finances, and I’m sure he does.  He’s made it his business to go into other businesses and solve their financial problems, and he’s good at it.  So I can see why republicans can think that he will do the same for our country.  The only issue with this rationality is, our country is not a business.  And even if it was, our economic issues go far beyond the government’s budget.

First of all, Romney’s plan to balance the budget includes sifting through it and cutting tiny funds to programs like PBS, Planned Parenthood, and others that he and his party deem “unnecessary.”  The slightest bit of research will tell you that all of these programs put together make up less than 1% of the federal budget.  Meanwhile, he plans on bumping up the military budget, the single largest portion of the federal budget, by $2 trillion.  Now I’m no economist, but when I’m trying to cut down on my own personal spending, I don’t sift through and try to cut it down by less than 1%, I look at the largest chunk of my spending and see what I can cut from that.  For example, if the largest portion of my spending went to the military, I would probably try to cut down on that by, oh I don’t know, ending the two wars we’re in maybe?  The idea of balancing our federal budget by cutting entitlements and small publicly funded programs is the equivalent of trying to balance your own budget by not tipping your waitress or dropping your spare change into charity buckets.  It’s just not practical.

Secondly, balancing the federal budget won’t magically fix our nation’s economy.  Sure it would allow the government to make more investments in domestic businesses that would increase exports, ultimately increasing our GDP.  But there’s a bigger issue than our GDP.  For those of us who do most of our financial transactions within our own country, increasing our GDP isn’t really going to help us out that much.  What would help us out is if the financial stability of our country wasn’t dependent on the whim of a handful of people with way too much power.  The financial crisis that we’re all still dealing with wasn’t the result of spending too much on welfare and PBS.  It was the result of giant financial institutions taking advantage of their clients on an enormous scale and sucking funds out of money markets by merging and forming super-conglomerates that now have a monopoly on the finance industry.  What people seem to forget is that this all happened already.  And certain smart people put certain smart laws in place to limit the power of these financial tyrants and protect the middle and lower classes from being exploited and manipulated by them.  Over the past few decades, all of these laws have been systematically repealed due to the actions of lobbyists who were hired by the new financial tyrants that currently govern us, many of whom work for the same companies that the past financial tyrants started.

So if you really care about the economy, there’s only one thing you need to take into account during this election, and it’s right on Mitt Romney’s website.  Romney has promised that as soon as he is elected, he will work to repeal the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  If you’re unfamiliar with this bill, it’s the only thing preventing the actions that caused the financial crisis from happening again.  A handful of congressman, with the help of Obama’s office, worked their asses off to get this bill passed, despite overwhelming opposition from republicans and democrats alike.  However, despite it being probably the most important piece of legislation in recent history, it is still not enough to offset the damage that has already been done.  As much as I hate agreeing with an annoying campaign slogan, Obama’s approach is pretty spot on.  If we’re going to make any sort of progress, we can’t start backpedaling.  If anything, we need to demand the president do more for the state of our economy.  And this needs to come not in the form of stimulus packages to multi-billion dollar financial institutions who are then allowed to do whatever the fuck they want with it, but in the form of limiting the power of those financial institutions and holding them accountable for their actions in the future.

There is, however, one point on which I agree with conservatives.  We can’t depend on the government to do everything for us.  Each person needs to be responsible for being informed about the big decisions that are being made each and every day by powerful people that affect the rest of us.  When a person or corporation abuses their power at the expense of the masses, we the people need to hold them responsible.  We need to because the government can only do so much.  These people have experts on their team to help them circumvent and change laws in order to get away with huge financial crimes that affect millions of people.  If nothing else, this financial crisis should be a reminder to everyone that we need to stay informed and demand transparency when it comes to the conglomerates who control the fate of our economy.

So there you have it, my token election post.  It’s probably too late to affect anyone’s vote today, but you can’t blame me for trying.  The elections are always rigged anyway, so don’t even bother.  Just kidding… but not really.  Have fun practicing your right to sort-of-free will everyone!  And if you disagree with me, please let me know!  I could use the extra views.  Thanks!