Question for Chap

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Re: Question for Chap

Postby spongebob » Mon Sep 26, 2016 2:15 pm

I've made most of the points I needed to make regarding welfare programs. Now I want to turn the page to discuss another form of government assistance; the military industrial complex. This is something that the highly regarded Republican president Eisenhower warned congress and the American people about, but it has none the less grown exponentially since his time. I'm not advocating that the US doesn't need a strong military, but I am questioning the size and scope of our military. Why do I consider it a form of government assistance? Because there are dozens of bases within the US and abroad that we simply do not need. There are scores of ships and aircraft and military weapons of many types that are either no longer necessary, demonstrable failures or extremely redundant. Military leaders themselves have expressed this opinion. Aircraft are ordered that the air force doesn't need or even want. The same goes for the Navy and weapons for the army. Bases that the military would prefer to shut down entirely continue to employ millions. Of course I understand the implications of a mass reduction in military spending. I live in Huntsville, AL, a town that is highly dependent on government military contracts. There's a small city sized area here called "research park" housing numerous engineering and software firms that literally live on government contracts. Redstone Arsenal is also here and all sorts of munitions work is done there. It employs something like 30,000 people. Madison, AL, where I actually live, would be nothing more than a small farming community without Redstone. Marshall space flight center is also here, but of course that's not supposed to be military. Without these military dollars, the entire Huntsville metropolitan area would probably consist of maybe 50,000 people instead of the quarter million it is today. The question to ask is whether all of this is really necessary. And Huntsville isn't unique; there are plenty of other cities in the US today that exist almost solely because of military expenditures. And just in case you aren't aware; lawmakers fight tooth and nail against reducing any spending in their district. So this certainly amounts to a federal welfare system. Many millions of people make very generous salaries because of these bases and programs and any attempt to shut them down would result in massive unemployment and that alone would be a monumental problem, but these people are just as addicted to a constant government check and it is essentially money that goes back into the community with almost no production of product. I will admit that we benefit through the development of technology, but that's about all.

Of course we couldn't have the world's best military without a lot of spending, but what amount is really necessary? Currently, the US outspends the entire world by orders of magnitude. It's over $600 Billion without including things like the VA. Who knows what the fully absorbed cost of our military really is? Conservatives constantly criticize spending on things like welfare and medicaid and Social Security, but they don't bat an eye at the equally enormous spending on the military. Don't misunderstand me; we need a military. We have very powerful enemies. I'm just asking if this magnitude is really necessary? Imagine if we cut just 20% of it (about $120 Billion) how far that would go toward reducing the debt. Combine that with a 20% cut in social programs and imagine that debt shrinking even faster. Now combine that with a modest increase in taxation on the wealthiest citizens and it becomes clear that our debt problem could be gone in less than a generation. And This could be accomplished without making the super rich destitute.
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Re: Question for Chap

Postby Keep The Reason » Mon Sep 26, 2016 3:42 pm

Chapabel wrote:Believe it or not, but I have been on government assistance. When we had our first child we were on WIC. Even though I was in the military, I qualified for WIC. We used it as much as we could. When our second child came along, my pay was more than enough so we didn't even apply for it. We used it until we didn't need it any more.


And...

Chapabel wrote:If the government programs helped the poor, I wouldn't condemn them. Unfortunately, these programs don't help people as much as they handicap them. People get on these programs and they stay there. They work harder to stay on government assistance than they would at a regular job.


Sometimes the very worst people with this kind of thing are those who needed to use it and want to "pull the door closed behind them". We see this trait all the time in people who were plebes for a club, got hazed badly, and then rolled it downhill when it was their turn to haze plebes. Or they use an assistance program and then vote to shut it down when it's time for the next person to use it. Or they are gay but are the biggest obstacles to gay rights imaginable.

It's like rather than have an empathy gene for those in similar plights, they exhibit a form of self-loathing for having been in similar straits (or having similar desires), and they project a punishment mentality on those who mirror the thing they wish most to condemn.

And then other people really feel the suffering of others and want them to NOT experience it, and are willing to help.

When my kid was born we had to get WIC as well. We used it for about 2 years, and it's was horrible. Humiliating to me. But I couldn't find work. Never have I wanted off of something as badly as I wanted off of WIC. I hated being in line at the store using those coupons. And my response to assistance is not the minority response. It's the majority. Most people hate the fact they need assistance and desperately want off it. I was never happier when we got off that assistance.

But because Chapabel sees some people abusing it, he has become bitter about it and would pretty much gladly shut it down and he gives not a shit who it hurts. Of course, when he needed it, oh it was fine then.

Meanwhile, you can bet he's also likely to want to vote to increase (or at least keep as status quo) the most gigantic social welfare program in the history of humanity (and I mean that because it's demonstrably true-- it's not hyperbole at all) which is the massive jobs program that is the military. It's not bullshit to note we have a military 10 times the size of ALL the world's military combined. We could cut it 20% easily and educate millions of kids at the college level for years which is a direct and obvious return investment on our own future -- but nope. Nope, nope nope, that's too much to ask. We need more stealth bombers.

Or we could take that money and, like Roosevelt did, invest in America itself. New forms of energy. Fixing infrastructure. Putting people to work including the government contractors who build munitions and weapons. But nope, nope, nope. Gotta keep the oil companies and the Halliburton's happy so their thieving CEO's can walk away with hundreds of times the salaries of their workers, and get away without paying taxes as well.

What's remarkable is that people like Chap think they are "against the establishment" when they are by far it's greater facilitators. But try pointing that out to them even with proof, and you'll get entrenchment and bible verses thrown at you.

Because that fixes everything.
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Re: Question for Chap

Postby spongebob » Mon Sep 26, 2016 7:51 pm

Keep The Reason wrote:When my kid was born we had to get WIC as well. We used it for about 2 years, and it's was horrible. Humiliating to me. But I couldn't find work. Never have I wanted off of something as badly as I wanted off of WIC. I hated being in line at the store using those coupons. And my response to assistance is not the minority response. It's the majority. Most people hate the fact they need assistance and desperately want off it. I was never happier when we got off that assistance.


In fact, this is not at all an uncommon story, despite Chap's protest to the contrary.

But because Chapabel sees some people abusing it, he has become bitter about it and would pretty much gladly shut it down and he gives not a shit who it hurts. Of course, when he needed it, oh it was fine then.


I concur. This seems to be his entrenched opinion, that anyone who is using government assistance is automatically an abuser merely because he has witnessed a few people like this himself. When in reality, I suspect that his experiences are based on a very limited sample. People who brag about this sort of thing are seldom the most informed. I grew up with a friend who's family was among the working poor. Both his parents worked but they lived in a very small and modest house and my friend was always on the free lunch program at school. I imagine Chap's reaction to that would be anger, but I knew these people. I knew his parents. They were wonderful people; uneducated and under-skilled for sure but certainly not freeloaders who expected something for nothing. They were proud and they grew up during an age where blacks were expected to be subservient to whites. My friend grew up to serve in the Marines and now lives in that same house where he grew up. Without that free lunch program, he would likely have gone without food on many days. I think back on that now and wonder why I didn't just bring him something from my home. I knew my family was more fortunate and it didn't bother me that he got a free lunch while I paid a couple of dollars for mine. I knew his father was working hard as a janitor and it never occurred to me to think less of his family because of it. But to Chap this appears to be a failing of character of some sort.

Or we could take that money and, like Roosevelt did, invest in America itself. New forms of energy. Fixing infrastructure. Putting people to work including the government contractors who build munitions and weapons. But nope, nope, nope. Gotta keep the oil companies and the Halliburton's happy so their thieving CEO's can walk away with hundreds of times the salaries of their workers, and get away without paying taxes as well.


This was my point in bringing up the socio-ecomonic disparity. There is an ongoing battle between the wealth hoarders and the rest of society (most of us). Somehow the hoarders are able to enlist some of the common people to their cause and that is the most confounding thing to me. During the middle of the 20th century, taxes were at their highest, unionization was at its peak, hourly pay was at its peak. The standard of living was growing by leaps and bounds for everyone. But by GOP standards this period can only be classified as a disaster! Of course we can't just return to that time because there is no fuel for an economy to match that one, but the shrinking pie that is the US economy has been increasingly gobbled up by the super rich, leaving only crumbs for the rest of us, in no small part due to dwindling wages and reduced taxation of the rich.

What's remarkable is that people like Chap think they are "against the establishment" when they are by far it's greater facilitators. But try pointing that out to them even with proof, and you'll get entrenchment and bible verses thrown at you.


Defense mechanisms that are enlisted whenever they experience opposition. Just like they taught us to do in church. Note the almost absolute refusal to acknowledge any point that we raise as valid.
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Re: Question for Chap

Postby Simplyme » Tue Sep 27, 2016 9:19 am

The most gigantic social welfare program in the history of humanity (and I mean that because it's demonstrably true-- it's not hyperbole at all) which is the massive jobs program that is the military


I did not see the military as this. KTR and Sponge opened my eyes. I feel rather stupid to have not even thought of it.
I find it rather amusing, when thought of as ignorant or stupid(though I can be on many subjects). Especially by those who believe in a deity up in heaven watching our every move, and rewarding or punishing us after we have expired.
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Re: Question for Chap

Postby spongebob » Tue Sep 27, 2016 11:39 am

Simplyme wrote:I did not see the military as this. KTR and Sponge opened my eyes. I feel rather stupid to have not even thought of it.


I wouldn't classify the entire enterprise this way, but the size and scope of the military is important. The US is not supposed to be an empirical nation, but we certainly have the sort of military you would expect if we were, and of course we are. There's virtually no place on earth that isn't influenced by the US and many are directly controlled by us.
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Re: Question for Chap

Postby Keep The Reason » Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:39 pm

This was my point in bringing up the socio-ecomonic disparity. There is an ongoing battle between the wealth hoarders and the rest of society (most of us). Somehow the hoarders are able to enlist some of the common people to their cause and that is the most confounding thing to me. During the middle of the 20th century, taxes were at their highest, unionization was at its peak, hourly pay was at its peak. The standard of living was growing by leaps and bounds for everyone. But by GOP standards this period can only be classified as a disaster! Of course we can't just return to that time because there is no fuel for an economy to match that one, but the shrinking pie that is the US economy has been increasingly gobbled up by the super rich, leaving only crumbs for the rest of us, in no small part due to dwindling wages and reduced taxation of the rich.


Actually, the GOP insists this was "the golden age". But they want these wonderful things while at the same time doing absolutely none of the things required to get there. So a couple of things we do have to face.

While the 90% tax brackets were in place, there were a lot of exemptions that the wealthy took advantage of. So it was 90% on paper but it was more like 60% when all was said and done. Still that's nearly double today's 30%-35% and #LoserDonald wants to cut it to an unprecedented 15% (of course he does. It fattens his wallet!).

Trickle down has never worked. It assumes the wealthy will "reinvest in businesses in America" and that's simply not their interest. With a couple of exceptions, the wealthy have but one goal -- profits. Get more wealth. If they can get wealthier by reinvesting in America then they will (hence, the "golden age"). But if they can get wealthier still by outsourcing their labor force to near-slave wages in third world countries, and protecting their wealth by hiding it in Caiman island tax shelters, they will do that without a second's hesitation. And that is precisely what they do. The insane thing is, we allow it and we allow it by consistently voting for people who sell us a bag of wishes on the "American Dream" story. Is it possible? sure, of course it is. But how likely is it for any individual to become the top 10%, or 5%, or 1%? It's an incredible long shot.

The problem is, the conservatives are literally immune to facts. The list of things they outright deny is ludicrously long. You can show them how Kansas --trickle down paradise thanks to Brownback -- is literally swirling into the ground, meanwhile a state like California -- bluer than the sky -- is doing great financially.

but it's not really a coincidence that the most religiously inclined, authoritarian-wired people are also the most immune to hard facts, and who are also the biggest hypocrites imaginable. Their religion and their politics collide directly but they are rooted to both ideologies, and this outs them into a wild dilemma, and I think it accounts for the numbnuttery we hear from people like Chapabel, and One16. How can you possibly make any sense when your religion conflicts directly with your politics, and you are equally fanatical about fealty to both? you cannot; you remain in a constant state of conflict and cognitive dissonance. And of course humans being human, they will usually take the path of least resistance. Since god never actually does anything to confront them with their complete dismissal of their religious ideology, they twist into pretzels trying to force it to all make sense. They apply this metric to so many things they believe... and if you're looking at them going through it, you can only wonder (or in the case of some of us -- remember!) what it must be like to go to such extremes.
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Re: Question for Chap

Postby spongebob » Tue Sep 27, 2016 1:36 pm

Keep The Reason wrote:Actually, the GOP insists this was "the golden age". But they want these wonderful things while at the same time doing absolutely none of the things required to get there. So a couple of things we do have to face.


Yes, I was kind of making a point of the irony. America's "Golden Age" coincided with its great progressive era. Since that time, we have been moving more and more toward the conservative's ideal economy, lower taxes, less regulation, but those policies have not resulted in a new golden age. They won't because the global economic situation is different now and there is no driver for massive industrial growth in America. That's about the only thing that could drive the trickle down of wealth they believe should happen. Our economy doesn't export enough goods now. We have sectors that export well but others that have much higher imports than exports. A nation can't get richer if it doesn't export far more than it imports.
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Re: Question for Chap

Postby Keep The Reason » Tue Sep 27, 2016 5:35 pm

spongebob wrote:Yes, I was kind of making a point of the irony. America's "Golden Age" coincided with its great progressive era. Since that time, we have been moving more and more toward the conservative's ideal economy, lower taxes, less regulation, but those policies have not resulted in a new golden age. They won't because the global economic situation is different now and there is no driver for massive industrial growth in America. That's about the only thing that could drive the trickle down of wealth they believe should happen. Our economy doesn't export enough goods now. We have sectors that export well but others that have much higher imports than exports. A nation can't get richer if it doesn't export far more than it imports.


There was briefly a shot at a golden age-- the dot-com bubble. That was an awesome industry but it did not last anywhere near long enough (the post WW2 boom lasted for something like 35 years-- from 1945-ish to Reagan in 1980. Mainly downhill from there, with his "voodoo economics" as his VP George H W "Poppy" Bush - Bush of all people! -- called it.)

And there can be another massive driver-- renewable energy. It's so friggin' obvious. I'd be fine with incentivizing the goddamned oil companies to invest into renewables instead of oil, as long as they employ every American worker possible, and have full blown medical healthcare coverage (and a huge reduction in college tuition as well). The amount of retooling we could do would be staggering-- that alone would take 20 years or more. Then, for the foreseeable future, endless building of solar powered structures. Every building, every parking lot covered with them, highways using them, if not made from the new traction-friendly glass plates that would even have information built into LEDs on the very road itself... this would also pick up where melting polar ice is weakening by reflecting back huge amounts of solar heat -- thereby helping lower global temperatures. And then WE would sell cheap renewable energy to EVERYONE, thereby making trillions. And we wouldn't be able to outsource it because that construction needs to happen here -- always here. And imagine the industries that would build up around such booming towns? Commercial entities, support systems, restaurants, banks, etc. It's a gold mine just sitting there.

But instead? We invested in one solar panel company that failed and BAM! That's it-- no trying again.

Because as you know...we're the land of the free and home of the -- snort -- "brave".
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Re: Question for Chap

Postby spongebob » Tue Sep 27, 2016 6:26 pm

We have certainly become the land of the boring and predictable. How can we be the same nation that went to the moon in 1969?
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Re: Question for Chap

Postby Keep The Reason » Wed Sep 28, 2016 8:10 am

spongebob wrote:We have certainly become the land of the boring and predictable. How can we be the same nation that went to the moon in 1969?



Remember what sparked that? Kennedy set it as a national goal in 62. But you know, as much as I'd like to credit it to invigorating leadership, it was really sparked by a competitive drive with our enemy of the day, the USSR.

I wish we could find inspiration without the connections to money and business. Some things are good and right to do purely on their own.
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Re: Question for Chap

Postby spongebob » Tue Oct 04, 2016 9:53 am

Keep The Reason wrote:Remember what sparked that? Kennedy set it as a national goal in 62. But you know, as much as I'd like to credit it to invigorating leadership, it was really sparked by a competitive drive with our enemy of the day, the USSR.


Well, yes. The USSR was the key motivating factor to develop the space program, but that doesn't mean it was a foregone conclusion that we would do it. It still took the political leadership and will to accomplish it and to do so in less time that was originally estimated. A different President might not have done this or might not have had the leadership capabilities to shore up political support. Would a Trump Presidency be able or willing to do something similar? I doubt it.

I wish we could find inspiration without the connections to money and business. Some things are good and right to do purely on their own.


As much as I would like to agree, I just can't. I can't think of a single big accomplishment mankind has made without some sort of driving force behind it. It is kind of frightening but the biggest driver for technology has long been war or conflict with a rival power. It tends to drive the development of weapons but also all sorts of non-weapon technology. There are other drivers as well, but just plain knowledge is rarely one of those unless you are talking about core research, which is usually driven by the pursuit of raw knowledge. And interestingly, many people scoff at such research as wasteful when we actually never know what value it may be until years or decades later.
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Re: Question for Chap

Postby spongebob » Sun Oct 09, 2016 10:21 am

I'm going to put this here even though Chap hasn't responded in a while. Maybe he will comment; maybe not.

The big question is about trade. Should we approve the TPP? Is it a bad deal? Will it help or hurt jobs and business. I listened to a podcast that put it into clear perspective. Both Hillary and Trump have stated that they oppose the deal, but there's more to it than that. Hillary has some issues with the deal and would like to make some changes. She is completely in favor of trade and free trade for that matter. Hillary has no intention of raising tariffs. Trump, OTOH, is an isolationist. He supports ripping up trades deals and raising tariffs. He believes this will result in great deals for American business and workers, as if they entire world will just agree to pay exorbitant prices for American goods while getting shafted on theirs. WRONG! Trumps policies could lead to trade wars, isolation and possibly even outright war if it got extreme enough. Global trade is a complex issue and the downside (loss of manufacturing jobs) is easy to see and difficult to replace quickly. The benefits are more spread out and difficult to see directly, but they are there. So, consider this a jumping off point for a discussion on trade.
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Re: Question for Chap

Postby Keep The Reason » Sun Oct 09, 2016 12:27 pm

spongebob wrote:So, consider this a jumping off point for a discussion on trade.


So two things come to mind.

First, your assessment is absolutely correct and the repulican leadership and corporate puppetmasters LOVES these deals (the average American hates them, rightly so but that doesn't change the reality of it).

Second,. That anyone could actually expect Chapabel to have a well considered fact based opinion on this, I'm reminded of that ancient yet nearly always appropriate response which goes like this:

Hahahahaha.
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Re: Question for Chap

Postby spongebob » Sun Oct 09, 2016 3:12 pm

Keep The Reason wrote:First, your assessment is absolutely correct and the repulican leadership and corporate puppetmasters LOVES these deals (the average American hates them, rightly so but that doesn't change the reality of it).

Second,. That anyone could actually expect Chapabel to have a well considered fact based opinion on this, I'm reminded of that ancient yet nearly always appropriate response which goes like this:

Hahahahaha.


Well, you are highlighting the reason I posted this. That the average American, and apparently you as well, hates free trade is a real problem. Most likely they just don't understand it. It's not a simple issue; it's complex and just saying no to trade is not a good answer. Chap may not have thought about this much and may not care, but that's not a good reason for me to not try to discuss it. I don't just post things here to antagonize people. My intention is to have a discussion. If that's not possible, I tend to just move on.
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