Well said, sir.
Well said, sir.
A longer version of the "it doesn't make sense to have opinions if you own a cell phone" argument.
A few things to start, not that this matters too much, but: I don't own a smartphone, I have a barebones phone and plan that I use almost exclusively for work. That is, I have a job, and it's a job that benefits society. I pay taxes on my income, in fact my tax dollars that I pay today go directly towards paying people who are getting social security and medicare benefits today. I'm comfortable with that because those are generally speaking good systems. I get my clothes at thrift stores because I'm not a moron. I'm not going to pay hundreds of dollars for stupid clothes that costs a few dollars to produce. I don't care about brand names because I'm not a teenager. I cook most of my food and when I eat on the run I patronize local small businesses, which is easy because there are many where I live. I volunteer time and donate money to organizations to help the needy, because it's the right thing to do.
I don't totally agree with the OWS protests, in fact I have many criticisms, but I agree that they have many legitimate concerns which should be part of the public discussion.
That being said, this silly strawman that paints every protester as this silly caricature is irrelevant to their message.
1. Our society is entirely dominated by corporations, so almost everyone that lives here must patronize corporations for the basics of food, shelter, clothing, and communication.
2. Criticizing someone for having a cell phone or internet while at the same time telling them to get a job is ridiculous on its face. It is almost impossible to get a job if you don't have a means of communication. Employers need to be able to easily contact potential employees for interviews as well as current employees about work.
Just because someone owns a product doesn't mean that their criticisms of the current power structure, the distribution of wealth, the influence of money in politics, our substandard quality of education and healthcare, and so on, are invalid.
Let's look at the flipside: Conservatives are upset about "Big Government". They complain that the government is too large and influential, and is strangling the potential for society to thrive on it's own. Now if I wanted to simplify this message to the point of dumbing it down, I could just say "conservatives hate the government and want it to go away" this is the way people on the right simplify the message of these protesters.
However, conservatives are constantly using government services. Let's look at a Tea Party: The roads the TPers used to get to their protest were funded by the government and built by government employees. The highway system that many people used were part of a massive federal project. Many of the TPers were senior citizens. If I wanted to dumb it down like the guy in the video, I could say "they are all old social security recipients". THat means, they are receiving government money from a government program. Any time a conservative goes out to eat, needs some repair on their car or home, goes to the doctor, or basically uses any good or service that they themselves are not creating, they are relying on the government. Even if they go to a private company, that company employs workers who were mostly educated in a public, government-run education system. The cars the TPers drive were built by people who were educated in government schools, the food they eat was prepared by government students, and so on and so on. Utilities that they use like water are often provided by, or at least arranged and managed by government programs. The list goes on and on, so far that I'd run out of numbers if I tried to list them all.
The point is, Tea Partiers rely on the government all the time, and benefit either directly, or indirectly from it's services. However, does that alone make their points invalid? No it doesn't.
Bureaucratic inefficiency IS an important problem and issue. Corruption DOES exist. Programs like welfare ARE abused sometimes. The education system DOES have problems.
It would be stupid to say that just because a conservative benefits from government services, that they are not allowed to critique the government, or demand changes to the systems in place.
I disagree a LOT with the Tea Party crowd, but I don't think that their arguments should not even be heard simply because they benefit from the government. The tea party perspective should be discussed and criticized on it's merits.
Also, I understand that the Tea Party isn't a unified crowd, or at least it wasn't when it started. there were many different people with many different messages. Often times the goals of one Tea Partier would not be the same as the goals of another. Often times their criticisms would not be the same either. Often times, their messages would conflict with each other. That is fine, that is not a criticism of the Tea Party itself. All of those points of views should be looked at.
So taking it back to the OWS protesters, we should keep these same things in mind concerning their message.
Criticising the actions or methods of some protesters in one area does not invalidate the messages of other protesters in another area. Pointing out conflicting views in the protest doesn't mean that everyone is incoherent, it means that there is a variety of viewpoints.
What I am seeing is non-stop attempts to get people to stop thinking about what OWS protesters are saying, elaborate ways to ignore these people, or ways to discredit the entire movement without putting any thought into it. These are thought-terminating exercises and nothing more.
People have been throwing this talking point around left and right since the protest started, and I've replied before:
However the guy in the video makes one excellent point:
He says: "and one more word about social inequality. Do you think the chinese slave laborers who built your IPhone are really getting a fair shake? Or what about the Vietnamese children who made your J Crew clothes? It's your consumerism that's driving the social inequality that you're out protesting"
Interesting. He's mostly right too. He is saying that large corporations benefit from consumerism, and maximize their profits on the backs of underpaid workers, and that it is all connected.
He's saying that some hipsters buying clothes from a major clothing corporation, or buying a cell phone from apple, are contributing to the horrific labor conditions in other countries.
How is that possible? It's because the force that benefits and fuels business runs contrary to the force that benefits and sustains labor, high levels of consumerism and profits are made possible on the backs of laborers who are paid as little as companies are allowed to get away with.
In his attempt to "stick it" to the protesters for their corporate consumption, he highlighted the connection between consumption, profits, and labor.
It's a mutually sustaining, yet mutually opposed relationship. The labor force cannot sustain itself without a healthy business environment to employ them, but for a business to be most successful, it looks to keep it's labor costs low, which is against the interests of the workers. Likewise, for a company to be effective, it needs to manage the costs of labor associated with doing business, but without a labor force, the business cannot function. To expand more on the business side, companies need to pay their workers as little as they can get away with because they have legal obligations to their shareholders. It is not the job of a corporation to be socially conscious or be kind or "do the right thing", their job is to maximize profits for their shareholders. That is the sole reason they exist. However, even this profit motive can run against itself. For example, corporations will try to pay their workers as little as they can (and the calculations for how little is possible is complex, it's not simply minimum wage), but if corporations pay their workers too little on too large of scale, they can suffer from shrinking demand as the population has less disposable income. These two forces (those of business and labor) need each other, even though their interests are contrary to each other.
This antagonistic yet dependent relationship affects all levels of society.
Last edited by Wei Wu Wei; 10-27-2011 at 08:04 PM.
WWW, you are one of the 1% (i.e. "Americans" who are Marxists). Your ilk are the tail that wags the Leftist dog in this country; a mad dog made up of either naive spoiled kids or spoiled hippie kids from the 60's that never grew up).
No one that matters gives a shit what you or your fellows think about anything, or even if you live or die. Sorry to inform you, but you and your fellow travelers down the path of fail contribute even less in real life than you do to this message board or any other. You are the problem, not the solution. Hello?
I wouldn't call myself a "marxist". I have tried to critically read and analyze Marx's analysis of capitalism as a conceptual tool to make sense of world. I'm not claiming that Marx = Truth, but that in some contexts, a critical analysis of Marxian concepts is useful. It's about utility.
Anyway, insulting someone who is having a calm civil discussion doesn't do anything. It doesn't take a very strong or confident mind to stick one's fingers into one's ears and shout insults.
Most of the WORLD is laughing at you DUmmies. :D
Wee, you're either purposely being a douche or you really do not get it. It's not the cell phone that makes people angry, it's the railing about wanting this and that for free while owning a $300 cell phone with the $200 a month plan. How can you complain about health insurance when you devote $2400 a year so you can text your friends.
I want the unemployment benefits structure to be reformed, even though I have a job.
I want housing assistance for homeless families to be expanded, even though I have a home.
I want greater access to higher education, even though I'm already educated.
If someone is complaining that they can't afford their rent while paying $200+ a month for a glorified toy, then yes I agree they should shut up, stop crying, and learn how to prioritize and budget. However, the health care and health insurance systems are still a major issue, even if stupid kids are stupid.
Last edited by Wei Wu Wei; 10-27-2011 at 11:49 PM.
By the logic you are using, wealthy people should not complain about higher taxes as long as they have luxury cars, yachts, a 8-figure homes, right?
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