Monday, December 07, 2009

Are you unemployed?

Hat tip to PD.


RiPPa said...

Friggin hilarious!

I loved the way the media jumped on the "recession's over" kick when the "official" figures went from 10.2% to 10%.

Thanks for sharing, Bro.

callmeishmael said...

I guess all of you who own businesses or work for corporations are pleased that some form of capitalism has worked well enough to enable you to keep your jobs. In all seriousness--and none intended otherwise by my first sentence--if you advocate, as the Cracker does, socialism as the "cure" for capitalism (the exact word used by a fellow blogger, evidently a friend of the Cracker), then my question becomes will governmental ownership and centralized planning maintain the same levels of economic productivity? Will we as human beings have access to the same level of goods and services--which is what socialism promises and believes will increase under the "liberated" and "just" system--as the free market provides? Will there instead not be an enormous temptation on the part of planners making those economic decisions to "cross over" into the realm of deciding how the rest of us are to live our lives, think as we will and other forms of personal freedom? Is it not only logical, a la Michel Foucault and O'Brien from _1984_to conclude and soon enforce (O'Brien and the Inner Party)that the there is no such entity as the "individual?" Foucault may not have been a Marxist, but he clearly argues that the "individual" as a "construct" of early modern Europe (post-1600 and arguably _Hamlet_) does not "exist" beyond the particularities of that era in European civilization? How then does centralized economic and political power not feel and fall toward the temptation of dismissing the unique, singular human in the name of altering the "structures of power" toward some sort of "liberating process" in which life will not merely survivie, but "thrive" (the exact word used by my Systemtic Theology professor from Vanderbilt some 22 years ago)? Liberation for what? Thrive for whom? Why liberate if there is no "one" to benefit from it? How is it possible beyond phrases such as I heard 21 years ago from that same professor that after structrual altering, "everything else will take care of itself?" How is it possible that those phrases in short order will become the sorts of dehumanizing horrors from the Gulag to the Killing Fields that make capitalist indifference seem like the transcendent experience after the first time one hears Beethoven's "Ode to Joy?" If, in short, unique and singular human beings do not matter and socialism does not produce the same level of economic goods and services that will benefit them, where is the "cure?"
These are difficult times for all of us. I have been very lucky recently and will be entering into that working luck quite soon. As you rightly suggest, all too many others are barely surviving for reasons that are somewhat not their doing. To argue that, as a palliative, the central government somehow knows best (a la Robert Young's television show from 50 years ago. Need I remind the readers here that "Father" and Dr. Marcus Welby was an alcoholic? Maybe there's a metaphor there for the central government becoming too "enebriated" with its own power and priviledge) in seemingly every facet of life from the corporate to the smallest of individual details is troubling, frightening and oblivious to the history of the 20th Century.

Steve Steffens said...

You sure seem to have difficulty getting past Vanderbilt, CMI.

What you describe as "socialism" is merely a return to capitalism of the non-crony, non-corporate variety such as we had in the 60s and 70s, when we had LOTS of small business, and very few that were "too big to fail".

Regulation of business, enforcement of anti-trust laws, de-financialization of the worldwide economy, that's all anyone really wants.

And what did your rant have to do with the fact that, beginning with 41 (IIRC), the Labor Departments cook the books on unemployment statistics, which is what the vide o is about?

callmeishmael said...

Can't access the video and revelatory experiences are necessary for intellectual insight. If my revelation had not come at Vanderbilt, it would have occured somewhere else.
In your comment, LWC, to the response of your friend (Captain Kona?) who owns a business there in which he said "socialism is the cure" for the sort of capitalism you and he decry, you indicated that "I could not have said it any better" or something very close to those words. In short, I believe that neither of you want capitalism in either what you perceive as its present or fantasize about its past form (IBM was a gigantic corporation in those years, along with Ford, US Steel and others. What has changed is the technologically-rooted integration of the world that allows for the flow of capital across international boundaries. That new reality has caused both benefits and, as you suggest, serious problems. Your solution to those problems, however, is to impose a system that will cause problems so monstrous that any benefit derived is long since "strewn into the stratosphere" [as O'Brien told Winston what would happen to him in_1984_]). You want to replace capitalism with no evidence to support your promised outcomes other than your continual need to deny what happened during the 20th Century. You further refuse to admit that the basic, ineradicable problem with behind human misery is not social systems of oppression, but the human beings who form, regulate and enforce those systems to their own advantage. If, in other words, one "system" is replaced, its successor will still be formed, regulated and enforced by another set of human beings. You have often said that you will never concede the notion that human beings cannot be fundamentally changed. In so doing and in the face of at the very least a century of evidence (one might consider going all the way back to the start of Stanley Kubrick's "2001" and the murder of one ape by another as a pre-pre-pre historical example of what we were, are and always will be), you deny reality in the name of ideology.
I had these thoughts, incidentally, long prior to my years at Vanderbilt. My exposure there to the rigid inflexibility of those who sought "justice" and "inclusion," however, only served to incarnate my previously somewhat disembodied thoughts. In short, I began to discover that the liberalism of my ancestors and earlier personal inclinations had become the "liberalism" which is authoritarian, dictatorial and dehumanizing. Once currently where I have been for the last several years, I discovered that rather than giving up the claims of "socalism," the "postmodern" liberal arts academic establishment has, in effect, "double-downed" on itself by now giving credence to Foucault, Derrida and other "deconstructionists" who argue that the the "individual" is what I mentioned earlier (irony intended). Instead, as I have mentioned over these recent years, of admitting their mistakes, they have done what--with respect--you are doing: denying history, evidence and reality. In so doing, those people whose horrid suffering you wish to end will only increase.

Steve Steffens said...

Yes, we're all evil, so let's just all cut each others throats, right?

Sorry, that is a flawed (and downright tragic) view of humanity and history. Humans have the capacity for both evil and good, and have to find a way to the good.

What you espouse in saying that humans are irreparably evil is nothing short of nihilism. Period.

callmeishmael said...

As usual, you miss my point. If we were "irreparably evil," you and I would not be having a civilized exchange over a blog. We would instead be plotting ways to rip each other's throat out and rid the world of an intellectual nuisance (or something to that effect). In any case, you have once more not dealt with the realities and implications of history upon which you are claiming to base your ideological premises. What does it mean to "have the capacity for both evil and good?" What does it mean to "find the good?" What will the "good" look like? Who will determine what "it" is? Are you perhaps suggesting that we might look at instances in which your undefined "good" has been achieved? In that case and given that your defintion of "good" appears to be something involving the improvement of human existence outside any restrictive or arbitrary boundaries, would you be willing to concede that capitalism has produced more goods and services than any economic system in the history of the world? Karl Marx said as much in _The Communist Manifesto._ Would you be willing to concede that socialism has not, in fact, lived up to its most basic economic promises of "land, peace and bread?" In fact, would you be willing to concede that socialism as it has been practiced is but a logical outcome of its ideological premises?
To say, in fact, that "humans have the capacity for both good and evil" while once more dismissing my arguments under a sweeping banner of nihilistic throat-slashing does an injustice to both nihilists and throat slashers. I have never denied the capacity of human beings--let's be more specific, of US--to achieve transformative good. I do deny the capacity for perfection or, in more grand phrasing, "the end of history," which is what my professor(s) have advocated in the name of socialism and "human thriving." On the other hand, I very much affirm the tragic view of history in that human arrogance--or, more gently, the lack of human awareness of our own limitations--has led to untold horror, degradation and suffering. By thinking itself incapable of wrong, "socialism" has created regimes that were, in James Madison's words, worse than the disease it sought to cure. Capitalism, at its core, conversely plays one human desire for influence and power against another. In so doing, it feeds both sets of ambitions and does not--at best: there are, as you rightly point out, more than a few problems in actuality. The question is what to do about them--attempt to influence the outcome. Capitalism, in short, recognizes the complex ironically-rooted paradox of what it means to be human in that our nobility is also the cornerstone of our capacity for "evil." Though such recognition and the tragedy it asserts as both inevitable, but not (necessarily) necessary, capitalism creates the conditions for human comfort and the space to enter into exchanges such as the present encounter. That is NOT nihilism, but hope rooted in reality.

Steve Steffens said...

"To say, in fact, that "humans have the capacity for both good and evil" while once more dismissing my arguments under a sweeping banner of nihilistic throat-slashing does an injustice to both nihilists and throat slashers."

Agree or not, that's some fine writing there!!!!

Overall, the best explanation for your points that I have seen.

To be human means anything can happen, and often does.

callmeishmael said...

Anything is indeed possible. What, however, is probable roots itself in the realities of history. Those realties are not, by and large, pleasant.