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Old 12-05-2009, 01:34 AM   #16
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Had he been elected the country would be on the mend about now and not sinking into the abyss.
Name one reason this isn't absurd propaganda.
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Old 12-05-2009, 02:35 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by phillyfan26 View Post
Name one reason this isn't absurd propaganda.

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The Massachusetts health care reform law was enacted in 2006. It requires nearly every resident of Massachusetts to obtain health insurance coverage. Through the law, Massachusetts provides free health care for residents earning less than 150% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)[1], and partially subsidized health care for those earning up to 300% of the FPL, depending on an income-based sliding scale. The law is credited with covering an additional 439,000 Massachusetts residents as of April 1, 2008.[2]
The law established an independent public authority, the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, also known as the Health Connector, which offers the subsidized coverage and facilitates the selection and purchase of private insurance plans by individuals and small businesses.[3][4] Incentives for residents to obtain health insurance coverage include tax penalties for failing to obtain an insurance plan. In 2007, Massachusetts tax filers who failed to enroll in a health insurance plan that was deemed affordable for them lost the $219 personal exemption on their income tax. In 2008, penalties increase by monthly increments, and are based on half of the cost of a health insurance plan.[5][6]
The reform law was enacted as Chapter 58 of the Acts of 2006 of the Massachusetts General Court, entitled An Act Providing Access to Affordable, Quality, Accountable Health Care. In October 2006, January 2007, and November 2007, bills were enacted that amended and made technical corrections to the statute (Chapters 324 and 450 of the Acts of 2006, and chapter 205 of the Acts of 2007).[7]
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Old 12-05-2009, 02:39 AM   #18
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Had he been elected the country would be on the mend about now and not sinking into the abyss.
Besides your cut and paste fail...

How would Mitt deal with this NATIONAL economy?

If you answer this I'll be amazed.
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Old 12-05-2009, 02:45 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by BVS View Post
Besides your cut and paste fail...

How would Mitt deal with this NATIONAL economy?

If you answer this I'll be amazed.


Quote:
Mr. President, here's how to lift our economy
By Mitt Romney

Today's White House jobs summit comes too late for millions of Americans who through no fault of their own have lost their jobs, their homes, their savings and, in many cases, the self-esteem and self-respect that come from work. Like other presidents before him, Barack Obama inherited a recession. But unlike them, he has made it worse, not better.

His failure to stem the unemployment tide should not have been a surprise. With no experience whatsoever in the world of employment and business formation, he had no compass to guide his path. Instead, he turned over much of his economic recovery agenda to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, themselves nearly as inexperienced in the private sector as he. Congress gave him and them everything they asked for, including a history-making three-quarters of a trillion dollar stimulus.

But it did little to stimulate the real economy — where jobs are created. Studies, initiatives and programs that liberal think tanks had long pined for were given life even as the private economy was on life support. The president's team assured us that their massive stimulus would hold unemployment below 8%. So with unemployment now at 10.2%, it is clear that their stimulus was a miscalculated failure.

In an attempt to disguise the truth, the administration has touted inflated figures of jobs "created." But every month, in good times and bad, jobs are created and jobs are lost. What matters is the net difference between the two numbers. Focusing solely on jobs created while ignoring the far greater numbers of jobs lost is Harry Houdini economics.

Growing government, as was done with the stimulus, inevitably depresses the private sector and job creation. Shrinking government and reducing government jobs is healthier for the economy, but this option was never seriously considered. That's no wonder: As White House guest logs for the first half of the year reveal, the most frequent visitor to the executive mansion was Andy Stern, the head of the Service Employees International Union, which represents government workers.

My 10-point plan

The president's economists insist that technically, the recession is over. But double-digit unemployment was neither prevented nor has it ended. To get people back to work as rapidly as possible and to restore America's economic vitality, the nation must change course. Here's the advice I would give:

• Repair the stimulus. Freeze the funds that haven't yet been spent and redirect them to immediate, private sector job-creation priorities.

• Create tax incentives that promote business expansion and hiring. For example, install a robust investment tax credit, permit businesses to expense capital purchases made in 2010, and reduce payroll taxes. These will reignite construction, technology and a wide array of capital goods industries, and lead to expanded employment.

• Prove to the global investors that finance America's debt that we are serious about reining in spending and becoming fiscally prudent by adopting limits on non-military discretionary spending and reforming our unsustainable, unfunded entitlements. These are key to strengthening the dollar, reducing the threat of rampant inflation and holding down interest rates.

• Close down any talk of carbon cap-and-trade. It will burden consumers and employers with billions in new costs. Instead, greatly expand our commitment to natural gas and nuclear, boosting jobs now and reducing the export of energy jobs and dollars later.

• Tell the unions that job-stifling "card check" legislation is off the table. Laying new burdens on small business will kill entrepreneurship and job creation.

• Don't allow a massive tax increase to go into effect in 2011 with the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. The specter of more tax-fueled government spending and the reduction of capital available for small business will hinder investment and business expansion.

• New spending should be strictly limited to items that are critically needed and that we would have acquired in the future, such as new military equipment to support our troops abroad and essential infrastructure at home.

• Install dynamic regulations for the financial sector — rules that are up to date, efficient and not excessively burdensome. But do not so tie up the financial sector with red tape that we lose a vital component of our economic system.

• Open the doors to trade. Give important friends like Colombia favored trade status rather than bow to protectionist demands. Now is the time for aggressive pursuit of opportunities for new markets for American goods, not insular retrenchment.

• Stop frightening the private sector by continuing to hold GM stock, by imposing tighter and tighter controls on compensation, and by pursuing a public insurance plan to compete with private insurers. Government encroachment on free enterprise is depressing investment and job creation.

The 10% unemployment crisis hangs like an albatross around President Obama's neck. Eventually, as with every recession and recovery, the economy will improve and jobs will be created, but those who were unnecessarily unemployed due to the president's faulty economic program will not forget. In order to most rapidly re-employ all Americans and to speed a strong recovery, the president must change course. If he does not, Republicans will bring a change of their own to Washington in the 2010 elections.

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, was a Republican presidential candidate last year.

Posted at 12:15 AM/ET, December 03, 2009 in Business issues - Forum, Economy - Forum, Forum commentary | Permalink
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Comments: (861)Showing: New: Most recommended!


red_kite (9 friends, send message) wrote:1d 22h ago
Mitt Romney clearly understands the problems in our economy and his recommendations (see - My 10-point plan) provide solid advice to the president and his administration. It’s too bad that this good advice will go unheeded!

Instead, we will be subjected to another ‘White House “__________” (fill-in-the-blank) Summit. Standard format for these one-day WH “_______” (fill-in-the-blank) summits is:

1) gather a prominent crowd in the White House,
2) spend the morning in the gaga mode,
3) breakup into working groups to discuss issue,
4) groups reports its views/feelings to the forum,
5) the President makes closing remarks, thanks participants, and then hails this otherwise worthless assembly as very valuable and illuminating.

‘White House “_______” (fill-in-the-blank) Summits are a big waste of time. Alternatively, Mitt Romney’s, “My 10-point plan,” would go a long way toward returning the country to prosperity, unfortunately, Mr. Romney’s plan is ‘worldviews' apart from the Left-liberal ideology.

Recommend 212 | Report Abuse

ChuckDarwin (0 friends, send message) wrote:1d 19h ago
Say, is this the same Romney who just last year promised all those Michigan voters that their auto industry jobs would come back? Yeah, I remember him.

Recommend 109 | Report Abuse

just_hmm (0 friends, send message) wrote:1d 19h ago
Obama got elected by telling everybody the wealthy people were going to pay for everything. These folks aren't dumb and know how to protect their money. The way to recovery is to cater to these people and make them want to invest more in the US. Another part of the plan should be to get more global off-shore accounts into the US. Push capitalism....not socialism.

Recommend 145 | Report Abuse

jacobomorales (0 friends, send message) wrote:1d 19h ago
The gop had 8 yrs to destroy the country in the name of greed and incompetence all for the rich and corporate entities. Now you have all the answers. You all had it all wrong before and you continue to peddle the same tired and wrong ideas.

Recommend 122 | Report Abuse

dont know (18 friends, send message) wrote:1d 19h ago
He knows how to fix the U.S. economy but yet Mass had gone broke when he was gov. They all know what to do except when they are running the show.

Recommend 111 | Report Abuse

someoneshouldsay (21 friends, send message) wrote:1d 19h ago
Allowing the New York banks to gamble away their assets by leveraging their bets 30:1 killed the economy. Mr. Romney, this was a republican idea.

Recommend 91 | Report Abuse

mrrubiks (0 friends, send message) wrote:1d 19h ago
Mitt Romney, the man I voted for in the presidential primary and my single hope for the next election. Mitt's biggest political obstacle which is Mike Huckabee has been removed from contention based on the events of the past week in Seattle which he allowed to happen. We need a person with family values, who is a brilliant thinker and speaker and who understands the economy. Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney!

Recommend 142 | Report Abuse

someoneshouldsay (21 friends, send message) wrote:1d 19h ago
This republican idea was written by Phil Gramm, passed by 100% Republican support with 0% Democrat support other than the signature of a Democrat Clinton. It was a bad idea then and now we know why. It is not surprising Enron assisted Gramm in writing the legislation.

Recommend 59 | Report Abuse

skintero (32 friends, send message) wrote:1d 19h ago
From the article, "Open the doors to trade. Give important friends like Colombia favored trade status rather than bow to protectionist demands. Now is the time for aggressive pursuit of opportunities for new markets for American goods, not insular retrenchment."
=============
He makes some good points in his plan, but this one isn't one of them. We've all seen the US economy shed jobs and record pace since we gave China favored nation trading status and NAFTA. The last thing we need is more of those type of one-sided trade agreements. Of course Mr. Romney looks at it from the ultra-wealthy side where the guys sitting at the top of these corporations get to put even more money in their pockets by outsourcing jobs to cheap overseas sweat shops.

Recommend 13 | Report Abuse
More comments on this story: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next
thank you..now go to sleep..
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Old 12-05-2009, 02:48 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BVS View Post
Besides your cut and paste fail...

How would Mitt deal with this NATIONAL economy?

If you answer this I'll be amazed.


Quote:
Mr. President, here's how to lift our economy
By Mitt Romney

Today's White House jobs summit comes too late for millions of Americans who through no fault of their own have lost their jobs, their homes, their savings and, in many cases, the self-esteem and self-respect that come from work. Like other presidents before him, Barack Obama inherited a recession. But unlike them, he has made it worse, not better.

His failure to stem the unemployment tide should not have been a surprise. With no experience whatsoever in the world of employment and business formation, he had no compass to guide his path. Instead, he turned over much of his economic recovery agenda to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, themselves nearly as inexperienced in the private sector as he. Congress gave him and them everything they asked for, including a history-making three-quarters of a trillion dollar stimulus.

But it did little to stimulate the real economy — where jobs are created. Studies, initiatives and programs that liberal think tanks had long pined for were given life even as the private economy was on life support. The president's team assured us that their massive stimulus would hold unemployment below 8%. So with unemployment now at 10.2%, it is clear that their stimulus was a miscalculated failure.

In an attempt to disguise the truth, the administration has touted inflated figures of jobs "created." But every month, in good times and bad, jobs are created and jobs are lost. What matters is the net difference between the two numbers. Focusing solely on jobs created while ignoring the far greater numbers of jobs lost is Harry Houdini economics.

Growing government, as was done with the stimulus, inevitably depresses the private sector and job creation. Shrinking government and reducing government jobs is healthier for the economy, but this option was never seriously considered. That's no wonder: As White House guest logs for the first half of the year reveal, the most frequent visitor to the executive mansion was Andy Stern, the head of the Service Employees International Union, which represents government workers.

My 10-point plan

The president's economists insist that technically, the recession is over. But double-digit unemployment was neither prevented nor has it ended. To get people back to work as rapidly as possible and to restore America's economic vitality, the nation must change course. Here's the advice I would give:

• Repair the stimulus. Freeze the funds that haven't yet been spent and redirect them to immediate, private sector job-creation priorities.

• Create tax incentives that promote business expansion and hiring. For example, install a robust investment tax credit, permit businesses to expense capital purchases made in 2010, and reduce payroll taxes. These will reignite construction, technology and a wide array of capital goods industries, and lead to expanded employment.

• Prove to the global investors that finance America's debt that we are serious about reining in spending and becoming fiscally prudent by adopting limits on non-military discretionary spending and reforming our unsustainable, unfunded entitlements. These are key to strengthening the dollar, reducing the threat of rampant inflation and holding down interest rates.

• Close down any talk of carbon cap-and-trade. It will burden consumers and employers with billions in new costs. Instead, greatly expand our commitment to natural gas and nuclear, boosting jobs now and reducing the export of energy jobs and dollars later.

• Tell the unions that job-stifling "card check" legislation is off the table. Laying new burdens on small business will kill entrepreneurship and job creation.

• Don't allow a massive tax increase to go into effect in 2011 with the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. The specter of more tax-fueled government spending and the reduction of capital available for small business will hinder investment and business expansion.

• New spending should be strictly limited to items that are critically needed and that we would have acquired in the future, such as new military equipment to support our troops abroad and essential infrastructure at home.

• Install dynamic regulations for the financial sector — rules that are up to date, efficient and not excessively burdensome. But do not so tie up the financial sector with red tape that we lose a vital component of our economic system.

• Open the doors to trade. Give important friends like Colombia favored trade status rather than bow to protectionist demands. Now is the time for aggressive pursuit of opportunities for new markets for American goods, not insular retrenchment.

• Stop frightening the private sector by continuing to hold GM stock, by imposing tighter and tighter controls on compensation, and by pursuing a public insurance plan to compete with private insurers. Government encroachment on free enterprise is depressing investment and job creation.

The 10% unemployment crisis hangs like an albatross around President Obama's neck. Eventually, as with every recession and recovery, the economy will improve and jobs will be created, but those who were unnecessarily unemployed due to the president's faulty economic program will not forget. In order to most rapidly re-employ all Americans and to speed a strong recovery, the president must change course. If he does not, Republicans will bring a change of their own to Washington in the 2010 elections.

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, was a Republican presidential candidate last year.


red_kite (9 friends, send message) wrote:1d 22h ago
Mitt Romney clearly understands the problems in our economy and his recommendations (see - My 10-point plan) provide solid advice to the president and his administration. It’s too bad that this good advice will go unheeded!

Instead, we will be subjected to another ‘White House “__________” (fill-in-the-blank) Summit. Standard format for these one-day WH “_______” (fill-in-the-blank) summits is:

1) gather a prominent crowd in the White House,
2) spend the morning in the gaga mode,
3) breakup into working groups to discuss issue,
4) groups reports its views/feelings to the forum,
5) the President makes closing remarks, thanks participants, and then hails this otherwise worthless assembly as very valuable and illuminating.

‘White House “_______” (fill-in-the-blank) Summits are a big waste of time. Alternatively, Mitt Romney’s, “My 10-point plan,” would go a long way toward returning the country to prosperity, unfortunately, Mr. Romney’s plan is ‘worldviews' apart from the Left-liberal ideology.

Recommend 212 | Report Abuse


just_hmm (0 friends, send message) wrote:1d 19h ago
Obama got elected by telling everybody the wealthy people were going to pay for everything. These folks aren't dumb and know how to protect their money. The way to recovery is to cater to these people and make them want to invest more in the US. Another part of the plan should be to get more global off-shore accounts into the US. Push capitalism....not socialism.


.

Recommend 111 | Report Abuse

someoneshouldsay (21 friends, send message) wrote:1d 19h ago
Allowing the New York banks to gamble away their assets by leveraging their bets 30:1 killed the economy. Mr. Romney, this was a republican idea.

Recommend 91 | Report Abuse

mrrubiks (0 friends, send message) wrote:1d 19h ago
Mitt Romney, the man I voted for in the presidential primary and my single hope for the next election. Mitt's biggest political obstacle which is Mike Huckabee has been removed from contention based on the events of the past week in Seattle which he allowed to happen. We need a person with family values, who is a brilliant thinker and speaker and who understands the economy. Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney!

Recommend 142 | Report Abuse

.

Recommend 59 | Report Abuse

skintero (32 friends, send message) wrote:1d 19h ago
From the article, "Open the doors to trade. Give important friends like Colombia favored trade status rather than bow to protectionist demands. Now is the time for aggressive pursuit of opportunities for new markets for American goods, not insular retrenchment."
=============
He makes some good points in his plan, but this one isn't one of them. We've all seen the US economy shed jobs and record pace since we gave China favored nation trading status and NAFTA. The last thing we need is more of those type of one-sided trade agreements. Of course Mr. Romney looks at it from the ultra-wealthy side where the guys sitting at the top of these corporations get to put even more money in their pockets by outsourcing jobs to cheap overseas sweat shops.

Recommend 13 | Report Abuse
More comments on this story: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next
thank you..now go to sleep..
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Old 12-05-2009, 05:11 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by deep View Post
I don't see our stardard of living improving anytime soon.
and by many measures it has been declining since the 1970s.


There is a bigger gap between the wealthy and the poor.

It seems many young people, under 30, will not have the same standard of living that their parents and grand parents enjoyed.
I agree.......the standard of living for America's working class was better during the 1970's than it is right now. We didn't make as much income, but your "dollar" stretched much, much farther. Because, the cost of living was cheaper.

I started my education at a local community college in 1979. At that time, a full time student payed eleven dollars per credit hour, per course. It is now almost five times that amount for the same required freshman english class. At the same community college.

I was able to pay for college, earn my degree, graduate with a 3.25 grade average and did not have any student loans, which I had to pay back. This is unheard of in today's economy.
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Old 12-05-2009, 11:45 AM   #22
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This kind of trivial partisan bickering is precisely the kind of activities the article alludes to as to why the U.S. is careening towards being a third-world nation.
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Old 12-05-2009, 12:06 PM   #23
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Can you be specific on what you'd consider a serious challenge?
I would say basically anything that requires long-term planning: health care, alternative energy, infrastructure (repair) projects, creating a 21st century energy grid, etc. The best we seem able to do, at this point, is organize bureaucracies to manage the current infrastructure and issue policy-related rulings. But, for example, when the telecom companies had been given billions in the early 1990s to create a nationwide fibre-optic infrastructure, not only did they take the money and not build anything, but government has also not bothered to hold them accountable whatsoever. I feel that this is a consistent pattern of incompetence and corruption.

Quote:
Not to be glib, but crisis after crisis we have shown a consistent track record of allowing politicians to scare us into submission.

What do you think might change that pattern?
Economically, probably some form of ordoliberalism, and, politically, some resurgence of procedural liberalism, whereupon there is added emphasis on government ethics preventing conflicts of interest between the private and public sectors. I think one of the major problems is that there has been too much abandonment of liberal political philosophy, as the right has been too conservative--thus, due to their contempt for government, having bred many inefficiencies into the system--and the left has been too socialist--hence, being too preoccupied with social welfare programs.

And, although I generally dislike Marxism, I do like to borrow from Gramsci his ideas regarding hegemony and the importance he ascribed to education as a means of keeping the hegemony in check. I don't think that this point can be underscored enough; if the public is too stupid to effectively participate in a representative democracy, then we are ultimately responsible for breeding a system that is ineffective. I think we are suffering, at its core, a major crisis in intellectualism in our culture, and I believe that the right, because of its embrace of nonsense to placate fanatics, and the left, because of its embrace of postmodernism--and, again, compulsive preoccupation with social programs--have made it impossible to have a rational, erudite and civil national discourse. Until we start reemphasizing, for instance, critical thinking in education, we're always going to be vulnerable to pseudo-philosophical and pseudo-scientific demagogues.
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Old 12-05-2009, 12:18 PM   #24
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thank you..now go to sleep..
Again, conservative propaganda. I'd like to hear your thoughts in detail, not some Republican hack that you like because he's the same religion.
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Old 12-05-2009, 02:05 PM   #25
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thank you..now go to sleep..
A lot of platitudes and bullshit that wouldn't work...

But you get credit for trying.
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Old 12-07-2009, 09:06 PM   #26
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I would say basically anything that requires long-term planning: health care, alternative energy, infrastructure (repair) projects, creating a 21st century energy grid, etc. The best we seem able to do, at this point, is organize bureaucracies to manage the current infrastructure and issue policy-related rulings. But, for example, when the telecom companies had been given billions in the early 1990s to create a nationwide fibre-optic infrastructure, not only did they take the money and not build anything, but government has also not bothered to hold them accountable whatsoever. I feel that this is a consistent pattern of incompetence and corruption.
Currently we're not structured for any type of long-term planning. We measure results quarter to quarter. I'm not sure how we get out of that cycle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by melon View Post
And, although I generally dislike Marxism, I do like to borrow from Gramsci his ideas regarding hegemony and the importance he ascribed to education as a means of keeping the hegemony in check. I don't think that this point can be underscored enough; if the public is too stupid to effectively participate in a representative democracy, then we are ultimately responsible for breeding a system that is ineffective. I think we are suffering, at its core, a major crisis in intellectualism in our culture, and I believe that the right, because of its embrace of nonsense to placate fanatics, and the left, because of its embrace of postmodernism--and, again, compulsive preoccupation with social programs--have made it impossible to have a rational, erudite and civil national discourse. Until we start reemphasizing, for instance, critical thinking in education, we're always going to be vulnerable to pseudo-philosophical and pseudo-scientific demagogues.
Are people too stupid or too demoralized? I agree critical and conceptual thinking seem to have taken a back seat to grandstanding. Are people not capable of sound thinking due to the education system or are they just broken? I thought this was an interesting article - hadn't thought about it this way before.

Are Americans Too Broken for the Truth to Set Us Free?

By BRUCE E. LEVINE

Can people become so broken that truths of how they are being screwed do not “set them free” but instead further demoralize them? Has such a demoralization happened in the United States? Do some totalitarians actually want us to hear how we have been screwed because they know that humiliating passivity in the face of obvious oppression will demoralize us even further? What forces have created a demoralized, passive, disCouraged U.S. population? Can anything be done to turn this around?

Can people become so broken that truths of how they are being screwed do not “set them free” but instead further demoralize them?

YES. It is called the “abuse syndrome.” How do abusive pimps, spouses, bosses, corporations, and governments stay in control? They shove lies, emotional and physical abuses, and injustices in their victims’ faces, and when victims are afraid to exit from these relationships, they get weaker; and so the abuser then makes their victims eat even more lies, abuses, and injustices, resulting in victims even weaker as they remain in these relationships.

Does the truth of their abuse set people free when they are deep in these abuse syndromes? NO. For victims of the abuse syndrome, the truth of their passive submission to humiliating oppression is more than embarrassing -- it can feel shameful; and there is nothing more painful than shame. And when one already feels beaten down and demoralized, the likely response to the pain of shame is not constructive action but more attempts to shut down or divert oneself from this pain. It is not likely that the truth of one’s humiliating oppression is going to energize one to constructive actions.

Has such a demoralization happened in the U.S.?

In the United States, 47 million people are without health insurance and many millions more are underinsured or a job layoff away from losing their coverage. But despite the current sellout by their elected officials to the insurance industry, there is no outpouring of millions of U.S. citizens on the streets of Washington D.C. protesting this betrayal.

Polls show that the majority of Americans oppose U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the taxpayer bailout of the financial industry, yet only a handful of U.S. citizens have protested any of this.

Remember the 2000 U.S. presidential election? That’s the one in which Al Gore received 500,000 more votes than George W. Bush. That’s also the one that the Florida Supreme Court’s order for a recount of the disputed Florida vote was over-ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court in a politicized 5-4 decision, of which dissenting Justice John Paul Stevens remarked: “Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.” Yet, even all this provoked few demonstrators.

When people become broken, they cannot act on truths of injustice. Furthermore, when people have become broken, more truths about how they have been victimized can lead to shame about how they have allowed it. And shame, like fear, is one more psychological way we become even more broken.

U.S. citizens do not actively protest obvious injustices for the same reasons that people cannot leave their abusive spouses. They feel helpless to effect change. The more we don’t act, the weaker we get. And ultimately to deal with the painful humiliation over inaction in the face of an oppressor, we move to shutdown and escape strategies such as depression, substance abuse, and other diversions, which further keep us from acting. This is the vicious cycle of all abuse syndromes.

Do some totalitarians actually want us to hear how we have been screwed because they know that humiliating passivity in the face of obvious oppression will demoralize us even further?

Maybe.

Shortly before the 2000 U.S. presidential election, millions of Americans saw a clip of George W. Bush joking to a wealthy group of people, “What a crowd tonight: the haves and the haves more. Some people call you the elite; I call you my base.” Yet, even with these kind of inflammatory remarks, the tens of millions of U.S. citizens who had come to despise Bush and his arrogance remained passive in the face of the 2000 non-democratic presidential elections.

Perhaps the “political genius” of the Bush-Cheney regime was fully realizing that Americans were so broken that they could get away with damn near anything. And the more people did nothing about the boot slamming on their faces, the weaker people became.

What forces have created a demoralized, passive, disCouraged U.S. population?

The U.S. government-corporate partnership has used its share of guns and terror to break Native Americans, labor union organizers, and other dissidents and activists. But today, most U.S. citizens are broken by financial fears. There is potential legal debt if we speak out against a powerful authority, and all kinds of other debt if we do not comply on the job. Young people are broken by college-loan debts and fear of having no health insurance.

The U.S. population is increasingly broken by the social isolation created by corporate-governmental policies. A 2006 American Sociological Review study (“Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks over Two Decades”) reported that 25 percent of Americans did not have a single confidant in 2004 (10 percent of Americans lacked a single confidant in 1985). Sociologist Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone (2000) describes how social connectedness is disappearing in virtually every aspect of U.S. life. For example, there has been a significant decrease in face-to-face contact with neighbors and friends due to suburbanization, commuting, electronic entertainment, time and money pressures and other variables created by governmental-corporate policies. And union activities and other formal or informal ways that people give each other the support necessary to resist oppression have also decreased.

We are also broken by a corporate-government partnership that has rendered most of us out of control when it comes to the basic necessities of life, including our food supply. And we, like many other people in the world, are broken by socializing institutions that alienate us from our basic humanity. A few examples:

Schools and Universities: Do most schools teach young people to be action-oriented—or to be passive? Do most schools teach young people that they can affect their surroundings—or not to bother? Do schools provide examples of democratic institutions – or examples of authoritarian ones?

A long list of school critics from Henry David Thoreau to John Dewey, John Holt, Paul Goodman, Jonathan Kozol, Alfie Kohn, Ivan Illich, and John Taylor Gatto have pointed out that a school is nothing less than a miniature society: what young people experience in schools is the chief means of creating our future society. Schools are routinely places where kids -- through fear -- learn to comply to authorities for whom they often have no respect, and to regurgitate material they often find meaningless. These are great ways of breaking someone.
Today, U.S. colleges and universities have increasingly become places where young people are merely acquiring degree credentials -- badges of compliance for corporate employers -- in exchange for learning to accept bureaucratic domination and enslaving debt.

Mental Health Institutions: Aldous Huxley predicted, “And it seems to me perfectly in the cards that there will be within the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude.” Today, increasing numbers of people in the U.S. who do not comply with authority are being diagnosed with mental illnesses and medicated with psychiatric drugs that make them less pained about their boredom, resentments, and other negative emotions, thus rendering them more compliant and manageable.

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is an increasingly popular diagnosis for children and teenagers. The official symptoms of ODD include, “often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rules," and "often argues with adults.” An even more common reaction to oppressive authorities than the overt defiance of ODD is some type of passive defiance -- for example, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Studies show that virtually all children diagnosed with ADHD will pay attention to activities that they actually enjoy or that they have chosen. In other words, when ADHD-labeled kids are having a good time and in control, the “disease” goes away.

When human beings feel too terrified and broken to actively protest, they may stage a “passive-aggressive revolution” by simply getting depressed, staying drunk, and not doing anything – this is one reason why the Soviet Empire crumbled. However, the diseasing/medicalizing of rebellion and drug “treatments” have weakened the power of even this passive-aggressive revolution.

Television: In his book Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television (1978), Jerry Mander (after reviewing totalitarian critics such as George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Jacques Ellul, and Ivan Illich) compiled a list of the “Eight Ideal Conditions for the Flowering of Autocracy.”

Television, Mander claimed, helps create all eight conditions for breaking a population. Television: (1) occupies people so that they don't know themselves—and what a human being is; (2) separates people from one another; (3) creates sensory deprivation; (4) occupies the mind and fills the brain with prearranged experience and thought; (5) encourages drug use to dampen dissatisfaction (while TV itself produces a drug-like effect, this was compounded in 1997 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration relaxing the rules of prescription-drug advertising); (6) centralizes knowledge and information; (7) eliminates or "museumize" other cultures to eliminate comparisons; and (8) redefines happiness and the meaning of life.

Commericalism of Damn Near Everything: While spirituality, music, and cinema can be revolutionary forces, the gross commercialization of all of these has deadened their capacity to energize rebellion. So now, damn near everything – not just organized religion -- has become “opiates of the masses.”

The primary societal role of U.S. citizens is no longer that of "citizen" but that of "consumer." While citizens know that buying and selling within community strengthens that community and that this strengthens democracy, consumers care only about the best deal. While citizens understand that dependency on an impersonal creditor is a kind of slavery, consumers get excited with credit cards that offer a temporarily low APR.

Consumerism breaks people by devaluing human connectedness, socializing self-absorption, obliterating self-reliance, alienating people from normal human emotional reactions, and by selling the idea that purchased products -- not themselves and their community -- are their salvation.

Can anything be done to turn this around?

When people get caught up in humiliating abuse syndromes, more truths about their oppressive humiliations don’t set them free. What sets them free is morale.

What gives people morale? Encouragement. Small victories. Models of courageous behaviors. And anything that helps them break out of the vicious cycle of pain, shut down, immobilization, shame over immobilization, more pain, and more shut down.


The last people I would turn to for help in remobilizing a demoralized population are mental health professionals—at least those who have not rebelled against their professional socialization. Much of the craft of relighting the pilot light requires talents that mental health professionals simply are not selected for nor are they trained in. Specifically, the talents required are a fearlessness around image, spontaneity, and definitely anti-authoritarianism. But these are not the traits that medical schools or graduate schools select for or encourage.

Mental health professionals’ focus on symptoms and feelings often create patients who take themselves and their moods far too seriously. In contrast, people talented in the craft of maintaining morale resist this kind of self-absorption. For example, in the Question & Answer session that followed a Noam Chomsky talk (reported in Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, 2002), a somewhat demoralized man in the audience asked Chomsky if he too ever went through a phase of hopelessness. Chomsky responded, “Yeah, every evening . . .

If you want to feel hopeless, there are a lot of things you could feel hopeless about. If you want to sort of work out objectively what’s the chance that the human species will survive for another century, probably not very high. But I mean, what’s the point? . . . First of all, those predictions don’t mean anything—they’re more just a reflection of your mood or your personality than anything else. And if you act on that assumption, then you’re guaranteeing that’ll happen. If you act on the assumption that things can change, well, maybe they will. Okay, the only rational choice, given those alternatives, is to forget pessimism.”

A major component of the craft of maintaining morale is not taking the advertised reality too seriously. In the early 1960s, when the overwhelming majority in the U.S. supported military intervention in Vietnam, Chomsky was one of the few U.S. citizens actively opposing it. Looking back at this era, Chomsky reflected, “When I got involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement, it seemed to me impossible that we would ever have any effect. . . . So looking back, I think my evaluation of the ‘hope’ was much too pessimistic: it was based on a complete misunderstanding. I was sort of believing what I read.”

An elitist assumption is that people don’t change because they are either ignorant of their problems or ignorant of solutions. Elitist “helpers” think they have done something useful by informing overweight people that they are obese and that they must reduce their caloric intake and increase exercise. An elitist who has never been broken by his or her circumstances does not know that people who have become demoralized do not need analyses and pontifications. Rather the immobilized need a shot of morale.
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Old 12-09-2009, 05:49 PM   #27
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It's a very interesting article, and it certainly offers very meaningful food for thought. One thing I've noticed is that Levine's definition of "knowledge" and mine are really quite different. Levine's notion of "knowledge" is more like making matter of fact statements; that is, outlining what's wrong with society without offering hope/solutions. I, on the other hand, am primarily interested in critical thinking and the philosophy of thought; that is, knowing that there is something wrong with society, what is the best course to correct it?

That is not to say that there are easy answers, because there isn't. And that's not to say that people aren't demoralized, because they are. But I find it very interesting that Levine's solution effectively centres around the mental health professions, which he admits is grossly corrupted by referring to the "uncorrupted" in this field, and mine around education, which can be university-centred (and, like the mental health arena, is also grossly corrupt) or a course of self-study. Or, even at that, group study. But that does come back to "social isolation," which I'd agree with him is a problem.

The conundrum appears to be "how to dismantle a culture and rebuild it." And cultural revolutions are very difficult propositions.
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Old 12-09-2009, 06:24 PM   #28
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That article comes across as nothing but left wing navel gazing.

Quote:
In the United States, 47 million people are without health insurance and many millions more are underinsured or a job layoff away from losing their coverage. But despite the current sellout by their elected officials to the insurance industry, there is no outpouring of millions of U.S. citizens on the streets of Washington D.C. protesting this betrayal.
Excuse me but many Americans did protest in Washington D.C. and at their representatives town hall meetings. But then they were against government spending and increased control so they don't count. In fact, they were called "mobs" and "astroturf." Apparently the author only laments that advocates have not mobilized.

Quote:
U.S. citizens do not actively protest obvious injustices for the same reasons that people cannot leave their abusive spouses. They feel helpless to effect change.
Who says citizens can only protest in the streets? In a few short years we've gone from Republicans in charge of Congress and the White house to Democrats. We are not South America, sometimes we protest at the ballot box. In a free market economy we also vote with our checkbook.
Quote:
Young people are broken by college-loan debts and fear of having no health insurance.
Mmmmm, gosh, no mention of an increasing tax burden and the generational national debt that is being thrown on them in the form of unfunded liabilities in Social Security, Medicare and government pensions.

Quote:
Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is an increasingly popular diagnosis for children and teenagers. The official symptoms of ODD include, “often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rules," and "often argues with adults.”
That's not what they called it when I was a kid.

There are more but you get the idea. But he is right about television.
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Old 12-09-2009, 07:31 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by melon View Post
Levine's notion of "knowledge" is more like making matter of fact statements; that is, outlining what's wrong with society without offering hope/solutions. I, on the other hand, am primarily interested in critical thinking and the philosophy of thought; that is, knowing that there is something wrong with society, what is the best course to correct it?.
His solution for a demoralized, immobilized population is to boost morale through encouragement, small victories and models of courageous behaviour.

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But I find it very interesting that Levine's solution effectively centres around the mental health professions,
Actually he said the mental health professions were the LAST to turn to...

Quote:
Much of the craft of relighting the pilot light requires talents that mental health professionals simply are not selected for nor are they trained in. Specifically, the talents required are a fearlessness around image, spontaneity, and definitely anti-authoritarianism.
Quote:
Originally Posted by melon View Post
and mine around education, which can be university-centred (and, like the mental health arena, is also grossly corrupt).
27% of the US population goes to university. Perhaps high school is the place to start.

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Originally Posted by melon View Post
The conundrum appears to be "how to dismantle a culture and rebuild it." And cultural revolutions are very difficult propositions.
Although I bet if you examined a few cultural revolutions, you'd find changes happen in small steps (small victories) reinforced by encouragement of models of courageous behaviour that reach a tipping point then go viral and spread.
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Old 12-09-2009, 09:34 PM   #30
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That article comes across as nothing but left wing navel gazing.




That's not what they called it when I was a kid.

There are more but you get the idea. But he is right about television.
I felt the same.
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