Friday, October 01, 2010

A Nation in Decline - Potpourri

This week is the American Library Association's Banned Book Week, and all of the books in the photo have faced efforts to have them banned from libraries. Know anyone who believes books should be banned from libraries?

During the 2008 election, there was noise that Sarah Palin banned quite a list of books from the Wasilla library. In truth, she only inquired about banning books and backed off when the librarian went ballistic. From an article at the time:

"She asked the library how she could go about banning books," ..."The librarian was aghast." ... news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire the librarian, Mary Ellen Baker, for not giving "full support" to the mayor.

The Texas Board of Education has banned social studies books they allege are biased towards Islam and against Christianity. How did they conclude that this bias exists? They counted the words on each subject. The Islam word count was slightly higher. The material itself was not considered. The move was symbolic, as none of the books involved were still being used anyway.

Returning to Sarah, no doubt the inquiry was only academic. The Tea Party is about individual freedom and liberty. Banning or burning books would be completely anathema to its followers. Never mind the bit about Nickel and Dimed (Local Press).

Meanwhile: Fifth of USA thinks Obama is a cactus

In California, we see the Koch brothers fighting legislation to reduce the state's dependence on oil. From big oil to big pharma to big HMO to big finance, we see the fat cats scrambling to keep the system rigged so 2% of the country owns 80% of it. When we pass legislation banning outrageous bank fees, they invent others. We started screwing the middle class with Reagan in the 80's. Clinton provided some relief, but then Bush quadrupled the size of the screw.

America's hegemony is slipping as we fail to address real problems. While China, whose leadership has a lot of scientists and engineers, moves forward, the US is crippled by blathering about gays, abortion, evolution, guns, and textbook word counts. While our country faces a struggling economy and crushing unemployment, Republicans in Congress devote resources to an effort to execute homosexuals in Africa. Here, they filibuster any effort to address anything.

The brilliant mathematician John Nash rigorously refuted the Adam Smith notion that individuals pursuing self-interest optimize the utility of all.

No, they don't.

From Kaletsky's terrific Times piece: The Asian nations’ interest in American politics stems not just from America’s standing as the sole global superpower, but also from a growing belief among Asian leaders that the era of United States hegemony will soon be over, and that the polarization of its politics symbolizes America’s inability to adapt to the changing nature of global capitalism after the financial crisis.

The frogs must figure out how to get the scorpions to realize the greed fest cannot be sustained.


Blogger Sirocco said...

Many great states are eventually done in by in-fighting and bureaucracy long before the barbarians crash the gates. The Roman empire is the classic example, but it long pre-dates them, going back at least to the Sumerian period.

10/02/2010 6:59 AM  
Blogger Pamela said...

Very thoughtful post, as usual.

And I agree with Sirocco, also.

It will be interesting to see how Ed Schultz's workers' march goes today in DC.

10/02/2010 7:37 AM  
Blogger The Navigator said...

Great post, x4mr. I don't know how you do stuff like this.

The country is in deep shit. One of our two main political parties, when not in power, will watch the country burn before it lets the other party put the fire out.

Then, when it is in power, it sets the fire.

10/02/2010 1:18 PM  
Anonymous Another Anon said...

There were also labor gatherings/walks here in Tucson today. Unfortunately, the union locals didn't notify their membership -- at least the dues-paying union member in my house didn't hear a word about it from his local.

10/02/2010 8:04 PM  
Anonymous Observer said...

Thomas Friedman has a great article suggesting that this will be addressed by a third party candidate who runs against the paralysis of the current system.

The solution is not a teabagger who crawled out of some shit hole to repeal the minimum wage, ban education, and re-institute slavery for those with "inferior bodily fluids."

10/04/2010 6:40 AM  

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