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Taxation (3) Nightmares on Scam St

If America wakes up, it will wake up screaming, because it is living a nightmare within a nightmare. Within our general nightmare of national wealth mismanagement, we’re entering a nightmare of taxation mismanagement. If we don’t wake up soon, we’ll be wakened, too late, by an American economic and social catastrophe.

[[I’ve now read all of this page, including the linked articles, and more, and I have to say, What happens when we have driven even more people into survival-by-public-assistance, reduced public assistance, impoverished and sickened people who were struggling to stay out of poverty, enfeebled the aspiring middle class by making it impossible to obtain education, thereby reducing the size of the professional upper middle class, insolated the lower upper class from need to pay attention, and all of that thereby sapping the power of the citizenry and putting the wellbeing of the nation (and the globe) in the hands of a well moneyed elite who don’t gave a shit about anybody but themselves? As The Lion of the Senate put it, “When does the greed stop?!” Because for all their pseudo-sophisticated Chicago School, Randy economic rationalizations and protestations (see e.g. Republican Hatch and Dem Cloobeck), it’s all about their greed. These are crazy people. They have broken the electric chain of humanity. They have lost touch.]]

Really? Could things be that bad? Yep, if the criterion is the amount of misery in the living conditions of the vast majority of the population, many of whom are already living in daily misery. Just wait until we don’t have the money to deal with global warming, and government is in the hands of a handful of rich people who don’t experience our level of need, and who don’t give a damn about our wellbeing.

I wonder why the people of Boston who threw that tea into the harbor were so pissed with the London government. Was it because the king was insisting that they make do with rum with their cake? Or was it because the London rich and their global corporation, The East India Company, was threatening their standard of living?

For decades, the income level and standard of living of all Americans, except the very rich, have stagnated or declined. Our quality of life—measured either by the spiritual standard of Thoreau’s “amount of life that must be expended” for something, “immediately or in the long run,” or by the mundane material standards of “(a) how much of what I need can I buy with a buck? (b) how many bucks do I need in order to buy what I need? (c) do I have that many bucks? (d) what’s the chance I can get more? or (e) if I buy something, how will its quality compare with the quality of such a thing 50 years ago?—ain’t  what it was during the postwar years before “the Reagan revolution.”

(Answers: (a) not much, (b) a lot, (c) r u kidding?, (d) see (c), (e) most things other than luxuries are approaching the state of lemon. We’re all being programmed according to planned obsolescence.  Now add the rising cost of necessities such as clean water.)

But there will be wealth, and as long as there are the wealthy, there might be Good Will. We can re-invent the workhouse and the poorhouse, American style (oh wait, we’ve done that).

Why the mismanagement? Because the economy, in the largest sense, has been managed by the corporate monopolists of the financial sector, which now includes every other sector, including the federal government. Those monopolists are the rich, who serve nobody’s interest but their own. They, and their Republican shills, are currently in the process of revising federal taxation to more amply serve their interests.

See, for instance, this analysis in The Guardian (great photo too: that’s Steve Mnuchin, our Secretary of the Treasury, proudly exhibiting his signature on the newly printed bucks, and his notorious wife – quels jerks, and an anonymous generic citizen bomber).  [In case you’re a masochist, more links to analysis below.]

The Rs are triumphally rolling back The New Deal—yes FDR’s programs (and Truman’s, JFK’s, and LBJ’s). They’ve been gunning for it from that long-ago moment when the Ds started to put it in place, and now they have their best chance to take it down. They’re saying, okay, you think an income tax is a good idea? Then you pay it. We rich people and corporations think it’s a bad idea, so we’re not going to pay it; and in fact we’ll rig taxation so that it’s another means of transferring your wealth into our pockets.

The radical Rs (that’s almost all of the active R politicians and their donors) made a Mephistophelian deal to get control of the federal government, so that they can grab more power, wealth, and fame, at the nation’s expense. If they succeed, the Devil will get his due, but we’ll pay the piper.

[More links to analysis:  Borosage / Nation: Cong Rs “think you’re an idiot.” Long / WaPo on what’s in the House bill. Davidson / NYer: “The report shows that the rich benefit and the poor are hurt in every way that it measures.” Rubin / WaPo: 5 ways the plan would inhibit growth, etc.  SamuelsonWaPo:  No historic evidence that tax cuts boost growth.  Bartlett (Republican) / WaPo: R playbook is to create deficit and then use it to pressure for reduction in social services such as medicare and SS.   Ollstein / TPM: trigger $25 billion Medicare cut.  Krugman / NYT on Medicare cut.  Lawson / DK: “Begin cycle of disinvestment in public education, . .directly by crippling state and local ability to collect adequate taxes, and indirectly with R’s call for further decreases in st & loc taxation/spending to ‘make up for’ what they would claim was increased fed taxation.”   Leonhard / NYT: “Which do you think sounds like a more urgent national priority: cutting this country’s depressingly-high child poverty rate or sending $130,000 a year to every household in the top 1 percent?  (More coming, but i need a break.)   ]

[Taxation (1) & (2)]

 

Sexual Abusers and Abusive Sexuality (6)

Below is a list of 14 allegations of sexual assault committed by the President of the United States.

Ninni Laaksonen, former Miss Finland, says “Trump stood right next to me and suddenly he squeezed my butt” in July 2006. Jessica Drake says Trump grabbed and kissed her without consent, then offered her $10,000 for sex in 2006.  Karena Virginia says she was groped by Trump at the U.S. Open in 1998. Cathy Heller says Trump grabbed her and attempted to kiss her at Mar-a-lago in 1997. Summer Zervos, an Apprentice contestant, says Trump kissed her, grabbed her breasts and began “thrusting his genitals” in 2007.  Kristin Andersonsays Trump reached under her skirt and grabbed her vagina through her underwear in the early 1990s. Jessica Leeds says Trump lifted up the armrest, grabbed her breasts and reached his hand up her skirt in the early 1980s. Rachel Crooks says she was sexually assaulted by Trump in an elevator in Trump Tower in 2005. Mindy McGillivray says Trump groped her while she was attending a concert at Mar-a-lago in 2003. Natasha Stoynoff says Trump pushed her against a wall and jammed his tongue down her throat at Mar-a-lago in 2005. Jennifer Murphy, another Apprentice contestant, says Trump kissed her on the lips after a job interview in 2005.  Cassandra Searles says Trump grabbed her ass and invited her to his hotel room in 2013. Temple Taggart McDowell, Former Miss Utah, says Trump kissed her directly on the lips the first time she met him in 1997. Jill Harth says Trump repeatedly sexually harassed her and groped her underneath a table in 1993. (The quoted article.)

The President says that these are all lies told by the lying liars who lie about him (to paraphrase the title of Al Franken’s 2003 book about Republican politics).

But if these allegations prove true (and let’s face it, they will), and Donald Trump is indeed our Violator-in-Chief, that man has a very sick, injurious, and corrupting imagination of his sexuality, and ours. His fall-back defense is the demeaning one which he has already tried, that women at are fault and he was only doing what men do.

A test of all of our accused leaders, in politics and other industries, is whether they have the character to respond in a manner that attempts to contribute to the healing of our deeply ailing*, cultural imagination of sexuality. So far, few have shown such good character.

Roy Moore has not. Since the voters of Alabama are deciding whether they will put him in a position to affect all of our lives, we have to ask them to look into their moral imaginations, join the resistance, and help us out.

11-19 From the endorsement of Doug Jones, by Alabama’s largest newspaper:

We each know someone in our lives who is a survivor of sexual assault or child abuse. Many of us are still searching for the words needed to tell our own stories and some may never find that voice. This election is about them.   

How can we look our neighbors, our parishioners, our colleagues, our partners, or our children in the eyes and tell them they are worth less than ensuring one political party keeps a Senate seat?  How can we expect young Alabamians to have faith in their government or their church, when its leaders equivocate on matters as clear cut as sexual abuse?

* For instance, when women need to carry panic buttons at work in a hotel, or in a restaurant.

[Pages (1) and (5) of this episode.]

Sexual Abusers and Abusive Sexuality (5)

Damn it, Al.

I want to say something very negative about this, and then something grimly positive, and then something maybe hopeful.

What gets to me most about that photographic image [*] in wartime (and it’s always wartime) is the helmet that she’s wearing. The horror. Up from our deeply suppressed knowledge of the weaponization of sexuality, in Europe and Asia during the ‘30s and ‘40s, in Nam, in Bangladesh, comes this reminder of the sexuality of warfare. Sheer physical and mental brutalization of women, and of the men who attack them. The heart-wrenching perversion and denial of our humanity. Our annihilating willingness to just throw it all away. The soul can barely stop sobbing. It is bathed in tears.

Now, we’re also aware of the history of our army’s providing shows of “cheesecake” and humor, to entertain the troops who are more or less toughing it out, in their restrictions. The USO gives them a moment of sanctioned imaginary indulgence in sexual pleasure. The women on stage have applied for the job, and apparently they agree to play their parts.

But off stage we remember that they are persons. So, for a thought experiment, let’s imagine a variant on that photo (and, frankly, I’d like to see it, if we leave out the helmet) in which Al Franken sits sleeping, legs fallen open, and a woman from the cast is posed, poised with her hand just above his crotch, about to make a forceful grab.

In the context of that moment in 2006, given the universal context of the sexualization and sexual enslavement of women, that photo might have been grimly funny. But it wouldn’t have qualified as a “prank.” It could only have been a dead-serious piece of satire, in which the exploitee turns the tables on the exploitor. We would know that Al was not really in danger; but the women in his cast were always in danger, awake or sleeping, at the very least of being the butt of a male sexual joke.

Still, I’m not saying, “Damn you,” Al. In that 8th-grader moment of foolish, id-iotic recklessness, you were not exhibiting the worst of what we males reveal about ourselves. The present, political and entertainment industry, context of the publication of the photo intensifies its stupidity and hurtfulness, and our current resistance and bravery intensifies its importance. These are treacherous times, overdetermined with urgency. We’ve got to turn defeat into progress, and any setback feels like a deathly betrayal.

But admirably, in this present context, rather than excuse or defend yourself, as is the typical male response when we feel our back against the wall, you have published a lengthy, well thought-out apology (reprinted in full, below). To my mind, it reads as an apology not only to the woman whom you harmed, but to all of us. Your doing this, it seems to me, is a hopeful step in the sexual education of a lot of us males, especially those of us who haven yet gotten it, but want to. Whatever your ongoing exposure, and whatever the consequences for your political career, I hope you will continue to play that role. You’ve cast yourself in it.

Franken’s apology:

The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There’s more I want to say, but the first and foremost thing—and if it’s the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine—is: I’m sorry.

I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.

But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us—including and especially men who respect women—have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.

For instance, that picture. I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate. It’s obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what’s more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it—women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.

Coming from the world of comedy, I’ve told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren’t the point at all. It’s the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to come to terms with that.

While I don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences. 

I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.

And the truth is, what people think of me in light of this is less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories. They deserve to be heard, and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them.

I don’t think men can make up for what we’ve done collectively over the millennia, or even in America during my lifetime; but here and now, at the least, we have to seize the moment to make things significantly better. Al, do your best to help us out.  You get a chance to redeem the foolish moment.  Let’s see who will join you in that service.  Here’s some careful thinking about that.

[ * 11-18  More photos released, suggesting a different take on the aledgedly violating kiss.]

[Pages (1), (2), (3), (4) of this episode.]

Sexual Abusers and Abusive Sexuality (4)

Humans haven’t done sex in a very long time, come to think of it. We do sexuality, and too often we do it abusively.

That is, in the present episode, by le mot “sex” I mean our placement of an egg cell and a sperm cell in proximity, in an environment where they might unite and grow into a new member of their species.

I’ll use les mots “sexual” and “sexuality” to mean what sex became for humans, when the human brain had evolved its ability to reflect upon its own activity, and beyond that, to imagine. Things have never been the same. Sex became sex as we imagine it to be. Our fantasies of sex. We don’t do unimagined sex. So the questions for the person and community become: what forms do we imagine it taking, and how do we enact those fantasies.

It is too late to go back to an eon before we had differentiated, self-re-flective consciousness, imagination, language, re-presentation, the conceptualization of beauty as a loving and lovely something in which we participate as in a womb, with our creation of beauty as of a passage through a dark tunnel and out into the light.

It’s even too late to get back to before we imagined family and we conceptualized familial love, imagining healthy sexuality as an act of mutual love.

And in America today, it is too late to go back (even if that were a good idea, which it isn’t) to European culture before 1000, before the patriarchal culture of “courtly love,” when we began to see women as a form of chattel more valuable to a rich man than his cattle (btw, would you believe in a love at first sight? and how often might that happen, to you? Oh, help, we’re so far out of tune.).

Today our idealized fantasy of sexuality is crystallized in les mots suprêmes, je vous aime (comme chanté par Lucienne Boyer , ou Juliette Gréco; (text in English) and this one sung by Nat King Cole, that so strongly influenced my imagination, at age 15.) But words (even outside of song lyrics) are acts of imagination, and they can be tricky. Too often our terribly hurtful, sexual fantasies and acts include those words, I love you, along with destructive attributions of beauty. That’s how American sexuality is. We (almost always men) also imagine, and enact, a sexual fantasy of fear, hatred, and annihilation of personhood (and sometimes of person).

The above is my narratorial position on this matter; and if, oddly enough, I’m right, then I think we’re in luck. Maybe anatomy isn’t destiny after all, for any of us. We can re-imagine our personal and cultural sexuality (and all that goes with it) to make it much better, for all of us.

(Readers of James Hillman know that I have applied one of his major insights about psychotherapy to this social phenomenon: individually, we can nourish and care for soul by joining her, consciously, in her logos, her imagining and re-imagining our lives. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that we can do that, as a people, with our culture of sexuality.)

Taxation (2) Why Not Oligarchy?

Because of the oligarchs. An oligarch puts his self-interest before every other interest, identifies protection and extension of his self-interest with large quantities of money, and uses that money to control everyone else, because everyone else’s interest threatens his/him. That’s how he deals with stress. And that’s how he became an oligarch (although along the way it became complicated). Oligarchy is a rogue tissue of cells that devours the tissues that surround it.

In this episode, like others in the novel, let’s try to be very clear about things that are obvious, instead of muddying them with falsifications and sublimations (such as stocks, yachts, and libertarianism).

So there you have it.

Masters of delusion, oligarchs (and wannabe oligarchs) serve their unenlightened self-interest (i.e. their unenlightened, if highly sophisticated, selves) with activities such as increasing global warming, increasing global poverty (and the debilitations that come with it), increasing global warfare, and decreasing community and democracy—in other words, by causing others to suffer, one by one and en masse, on a scale commensurate to the magnitude of an oligarch’s wealth.

They are not up to dealing with the fundamental problems of humanity.

In short, their interests run counter to ours. The solution to that problem is to take away their money. One form of sublimation of that solution, rather than chopping off their heads, is gloriously progressive taxation (enforced), probably on a global scale of cooperation among nations that are not controlled by oligarchs.

Let’s face it, to get started on that, in the US, we’re going to have to elect progressive democrats.

[In case you want to read, dear reader, some analysis and commentary about the current R tax machinations, I’ll add some links (keeping in mind my Way Left bias—but hey, I’m the narrator here and this is my story), beginning with Hair Trompf:

In Sept it appeared he was setting himself up to rake in maybe $125,000,000, and increase the domination of the economy by the addictive (my analysis) rich.  Well admittedly, to deny tax welfare for the rich would be an act of class warfare.  Just ask yr neighborhood CEO how much the rich need yr help.  Another way to help the addicts would be to keep the carried interest loophole.  (Alas there’s more to come.) ]

[Taxation (1)]

Sexual Abusers and Abusive Sexuality (3)

Pedophilia—sexually molesting a child—by a False Judge. And he might be elected to the US Senate, by the Republicans of Alabama. Bad judgment all around.

Going out (including to his house) with Roy Moore when she was 14 and he was 32 was bad judgment on the child’s part too; but sane adults don’t approach children sexually, because children are not capable of exercising good judgment about sex. With anybody. 14-yr-olds try; but they are deeply vulnerable, especially to a seductive adult. And if the 14-yr-old is a girl, she is especially vulnerable, because of the sexist pressure that permeates American culture—which can include fundamentalist religious culture (Christian and other), as demonstrated by one of the fundamentalist defenses of Moore’s behavior: it’s Biblical; Rebecca did it, Mary did it, and the result was the eternal hope of salvation from our sins. What could go wrong with that? As Nicholas Kristof put it, “Sigh. When Christians cite the Bible to defend child molestation, Jesus should sue for defamation.”

But all teenagers are especially vulnerable to predations of all kinds, because, as neurologists have discovered, the human brain simply does not adequately develop its judgment-making section (the prefrontal lobe) until almost adulthood. Around age 20.

Children frequently can not exercise good judgment in the face of temptation (especially Satanic temptation, as any fundamentalist predator undoubtedly knows), especially in matters of emotional arousal, stress, and/or personal esteem.  That’s a reason why sexual predators prey on them.  And that’s one way in which teenagers are still children.  Aaaaaaaaah!

On the other hand, that’s also why it’s easy, for some people, to blame the victim, the young Eve. (Like Huck said, there was Sunday School. Seriously, don’t miss this, or this.)

Gross failure of the adult imagination. [ * ]

Moore’s other known victims were 16-18. These days we usually address an 18-yr-old female as “young woman” rather than “girl,” in respect for, and encouragement of, her approach to adulthood (we accept her into the military, and register her to vote, for instance). My experience of myself at that age, and my experience of some thousands of college frosh (not to mention the author’s kids and grandkids), jibe with those scientific observations that 18-yr-olds are still largely children (large children); and just at that moment when their impending adulthood is being recognized for social roles, life throws a bewildering array of situations into their path, in which they cannot call upon previous experience for guidance. So even then they are in trouble.

But a Roy Moore could call on previous experiences to guide his seductions. Yet his bad judgment has continued, even in his role as an Alabama Supreme Court judge.  In defending himself it continues at age 70.

Still, let’s not rush to judgment. Okay? Um, yep. He did it, and probably more [11-13 5th victim + analysis].  As David Dworkin points out:  “This isn’t a single isolated incident whose details might been confused or where intent might have been misunderstood. This is a pattern of behavior carried out with multiple young women over a period of years—and there was nothing subtle, debatable, or defensible about Moore’s actions.”  When asked whether he dated teenage girls, M replied, “Not generally, no.”

Well, nonfiction suddenly gave this narrator a remarkable page for this episode; but I wish it hadn’t.

Here are some opinions expressed by women in AL, a few days after the WaPo article.

I’ll update with some additional links to reportage and commentary about this story.

11-15  Pop Quiz Q:  If you have been a repeating sexual molester of children (and furthermore you won’t own up to it), should that disqualify you for public office?  (Hint:  the answer depends on who is taking the quiz.)

[ * ] And we should note other failures of imagination and justice, such as these shootings of children by police:  Tamir Rice, Jason Pero (more about Jason).

[Pages (1) & (2) & (4) of this episode.]

Taxation (1) Gates Upon Picketty

Taxation is not a complicated thing. One of the most natural and best things for humans is community. Probably second only to family. Then maybe third is the healthy individual. It’s tempting, certainly in America, where a man (although not many men) can make himself rich, to put the individual at number one, because the individual is a one (he thinks), and is the unit of thought—even, some say, of soul. But that’s a delusion of an ego that thinks that its individual is self-contained and independent. Nope.

A tool that is available for cultivating a healthy community (and family and persons) is government. That tool has to be paid for, so we share the expenses by kicking in our fair share of dollars through a system of taxation. Nothing is perfect, but in a democracy the community gets together and decides what is fair. That’s a shared responsibility of our governing ourselves (as a community, and as families and individuals).

That’s not hard to grasp.

It is hard to live in Seattle, especially with its homeless citizens, and not think, de temps en temps, of Bill Gates. That’s the price we pay, him and us, for his being such an outstandingly rich man. (Hey, wouldn’t it be great if Melinda Gates was listed, everywhere, as the world’s richest individual? I think Bill should give all his money to her. I’m sure she’d share. We could call her Mel.)

I was thinking, on an earlier page (I’ll be a bit repetitive, thinking out loud now in the context of the damnable R/Trompf effort to lower taxes on the super wealthy) about Gates and fair-share taxation. In his review of Thomas Picketty’s Capital, G agreed with much in that book, but then opined that he does not agree that very wealthy people should pay higher taxes (the rate currently down from 91% marginal to maybe 35%, or as little as you can get away with, maybe 0% plus lawyer fees).

It may be that G pays his fair share. He thinks so. But the point is his argument. He argues that HE should be the one to decide how much tax dollars he should pay, because HE, not the democratically elected government, knows best, about how his money can best be spent.

But that doesn’t make sense. That would suppose that he knows way more than an individual can know, and that he posseses extraordinarily good judgment about what is beneficial. It’s like Libertarians idealizing “freedom” as being the individual’s totally unrestricted choice in the market place, when in reality no individual can possibly possess enough information to be “freely” making a choice. Not to mention what would happen when only one individual (the Libertarian) had that much knowledge, or what would happen when more than one individual had that much knowledge. Only gods have that much knowledge, and they tend to abuse it.

Furthermore the Gates idea is unhealthy and counter-productive, because it undermines democratic community by pitting the individual citizen against government, and thus against community, including the houseless and homeless. We can’t have democracy if each individual (or even only each absurdly wealthy individual) gets to live in, and crucially benefit from, community, but decides for himself how much financial support he will offer for good governance.

11-13-17:  Wealth of Gates + Bezos + Buffet > wealth of poorest 50% of US population.