Posts Tagged ‘MSNBC’

Don’t Know Much about the History of Slavery

November 17, 2013

I found this YouTube video by Newsbusters courtesy of Moonbattery.com. MSNBC correspondent Martin Bashir calls Sarah Palin America’s resident dunce for suggesting that the result of our ever growing national debt will be to condemn our children and grandchildren to slavery. He is outraged by the abuses and atrocities that slave owners committed against their slaves and suggests that Palin ought to be subject to the same abuses.

I am sure that what bothers most viewers of thus clip, at least the decent viewers, is the venomous hatred Bashir spews against Sarah Palin. What impresses me however, is that the joke is actually on the man who thinks that Sarah Palin is an idiot. As it happens, one of the most common forms of slavery through the ages and even today is debt slavery.

Debt slavery is a situation in which someone will borrow money and to repay the loan will agree to work for his creditor. Somehow because of interest and other charges levied on the debtor, he never is quite able to work off the loan. This form of slavery was very common in ancient Rome and many other parts of the world, including the American colonies where white settlers became indentured servants in order to pay the cost of passage across the Atlantic. It is still prevalent today even though it is prohibited by international law. So, it may just be possible that Sarah Palin knew what she was talking about.

Actually, Martin Bashir doesn’t seem to know very much about slavery at all, judging from his commentary. He seems to believe that slavery was invented in the American colonies in the sixteenth century and that the conditions faced by the black slaves were somehow uniquely horrible. In fact, slavery has existed throughout human history in various forms, some more oppressive than others. The conditions of the black slaves on the North American mainland were more humane than in the Caribbean islands where the slaves were worked to death. Slavery in the Roman Empire was especially cruel as a slave owner had the legal right to kill or rape his slaves. Moreover the Arabs were involved in the African slave trade for centuries before the Europeans and continued the trade  until the European powers ended it with the colonization of Africa

. Of course slavery is always oppressive and degrading but perhaps Bashir should learn that America was not the only place slaves were kept and that there have been many different types of slavery.

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IRS Spells the “N-word”

June 6, 2013

Those Republicans are always trying to find new ways to use racial slurs that pass under the radar of non-racist Republicans. They can’t actually use words like the n-word anymore, thanks to the efforts of Progressives, but they have developed a whole vocabulary or code words that sound innocuous, but are, in fact, dog whistles that the racists understand perfectly. Michelle Malkin has compiled a short list of such words, which include; angry, constitution (written by slave owners), Chicago, inexperienced, golf, and many more. Martin Bashir from MSNBC has identified another code word used by racist Republicans, IRS.

MARTIN BASHIR: The IRS is being used in exactly the same way as they tried to used the president’s birth certificate. You see, for Republicans like Darrell Issa, who knows something about arson, the IRS now stands for something inflammatory. Those three letters are now on fire with political corruption and malfeasance, burning hot. Just like that suspicious fire that engulfed Mr. Issa’s warehouse back in 1982.

And, despite the complete lack of any evidence linking the president to the targeting of tea party groups, Republicans are using it as their latest weapon in the war against the black man in the White House.

This strategy is nothing new. And it was explained way back in 1981, by Lee Atwater, who was Bush 41’s chief strategist. In a tape recording, Mr. Atwater revealed how Republicans evolved their language to achieve the same purpose.

He said: ‘You start out in 1954, by saying ‘n*****, n*****, n*****. By 1968, you can’t say n*****, that hurts you, back-fires. So you say stuff like forced bussing, states rights, and all that stuff and you’re getting so abstract. Now you’re talking about cutting taxes. We want to cut this is much more abstract than even the bussing thing and a hell of a lot more abstract than n*****, n*****.’

So this afternoon, we welcomed the latest phrase in the lexicon of Republican attacks on this president: the IRS. Three letters that sound so innocent but we know what you mean.

I wonder if Lee Atwater really made the statements attributed to him, and if so, what context he made them in. Actually both states’ rights and forced busing are legitimate topics for discussion, even without any racial element. With the racial element, these topics might provide a good start to that discussion about race the liberals are always saying they want. Somehow, though, I think the discussion they want involves lecturing the rest of us on how racist we all are.

The debate over the balance of power between the states and the federal government is an old one, going back to the foundation of our country. The United States is meant to be a federal republic with powers and sovereignty divided between the states and the federal government. There is much to be said in favor of a decentralized government and the increasing power of the federal government at the expense of the states is legitimate concern. It is most unfortunate, however, that the cry of state’s rights has all too often been used to defend slavery and segregation. One can believe in state’s rights without supporting either of those two odious policies, but the modern day statist is quick to made the connection.

As for forced busing, surely it is simply insane to ship children to schools on the other side of a city just to achieve a racial quota, when they could be better off attending the nearest school. After all, the whole point of Brown vs. the Board of Education was that black parents did not want their children to have to attend a “black” school miles away when they could go to a “white” school just down the block.

But, of course, Mr Bashir is not really interested in uncovering racism at all. He, and others like him, want to forestall any discussion of the unethical and illegal antics of the IRS by simply labeling the entire topic as racist.

Children of the Commons

April 18, 2013

MSNBC commentator Melissa Harris-Perry‘s recent comment that we need to move away from the idea that our children are ours to the idea that children belong to the community has  proved to be more controversial than she, or anyone else at MSNBC, have anticipated, which shows that there is something terribly wrong at MSNBC.

Most conservative commentators have focused on the rather fascistic overtones of her remarks or have noted that public education is not, in fact, underfunded. I would like to tackle this subject from a different angle. I wonder if Melissa Harris-Perry is familiar with the concept of the tragedy of the commons.

The tragedy of the commons is a concept developed by Garrett Hardin in 1968. Put simply, it works something like this. Suppose there is a village in which every farmer has one cow which he grazes in the village commons. The number of cows that graze on the field is limited and the field is able to feed the cows. Now, suppose that one farmer decides to get another cow and let it graze on the common ground. He gets two cows to milk so he benefits more than his neighbors but two cows cost him no more than one. The presence of one more cow doesn’t hurt the green all that much. Then, other farmers decide to get another cow and put it on the green to graze. They get the benefits of having more cows to milk but their cost is no greater. However, as more cows are left to graze on the common field, at some point the field starts to become overgrazed and eventually what was once a fertile field becomes a barren, dusty wasteland.

The reason this happens is that while all of the farmers in the village benefit from the common field, it is no one person’s responsibility to maintain it. Each farmer gains the benefit of feeding his cows, whether he limits his number of cows or works to maintain the pasture and no one gains any extra benefit from doing the work of maintaining the field. Thus what is beneficial to each farmer individually, eventually ruins all the farmers in the village.

Garrett Hardin was an ecologist who was concerned about the problems associated with overpopulation and over use of natural resources. It is not easy to place him on any political or economic spectrum although he did favor government regulation as a means to resolve the tragedy and coercion to limit population. Environmentalists have used his analysis to justify restricting property rights for the common good. On the other hand, advocates of private property and the free market have pointed out that property and responsibility that belongs to everyone, really belongs to no one, and the best way to resolve the tragedy is through privatization of the commons. Human nature, being what it is, people are far more responsible for things that they feel personal ownership for, while common ownership property or a thing  means that no one person really feels they own it and so no one person feels really responsible for it, especially if they benefit from the use of it without the trouble of being responsible for it.

This is one of the reasons Communism didn’t work out so well. Consider Ivan, the worker at the collective farm. He didn’t own the farm, the fields or anything else at the farm. He did not benefit from the harvest and it made no difference to him if the crops rotted in the fields while he got drunk on vodka every afternoon. They weren’t his crops. They belonged to the people of the Soviet Union, so they really didn’t belong to anyone. Extend this sort of thinking over an entire national economy and you can see why there would be trouble.

With all of this in mind, we can revisit Melissa Harris-Parry’s statement that we need to get away from the idea that we personally own our children and are responsible for them and move toward an idea of community ownership of and responsibility for our children. If we make our children the responsibility of the village or the community rather than the responsibility of their parents, then the children will really be no one’s responsibility. Consider, as an extreme example to clarify matters, that there were a dystopian state that took children from their mothers at birth and raised them in institutions with trained caregivers attending to them. Does anyone truly believe that the children would be better off than if they were raised by their own parents? Melissa Harris-Perry has it backward. Children are more likely to be properly raised by parents who feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for them than by a village in which no one feels responsible for any one child. Indeed, it may be that part of the problem with public schools is precisely because they are public. No one really owns the public schools so no one is really responsible for the results of a public school education and no one feels any responsibility for spending the funding for public schools wisely.

The answer to the failure of the commons is not to create more commons but to privatize the commons as far as it is possible. If people have a stake in maintaining a continuing supply of a resource, they will see to it that the use of that resource is sustainable. It may be that the answer to the commons in education is greater privatization as a means of having the parents feel more that they are directly responsible for the state of their children’s education. In other words, we need to have more of a feeling of ownership of our children not less.

 


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