The Talking Dog

March 23, 2013, March Madness

I'm pleased to report that the simple expedient of downloading Google Chrome has addressed my home blogging woes. For those of you who are still there.

The post title does not refer to, say, Harvard, the university with the largest endowment in the universe, finally spending enough money to get a basketball team capable of winning an NCAA tournament game. But it's close to that.

For our link today, we'll go with this LATimes piece that could be called "the rich are different-- they have more money." Its theme, unsurprisingly, is that people of means (defined as say 8 digits of wealth or more) favor public policies that favor themes near and dear to their own hearts -- yes -- lower taxes on themselves, and lower social spending for everyone else. Ever thus, in some sense. Except now the political class no longer fears the rabble as they once did. Not even a little. For one thing, so many members of Congress are millionaires themselves, or close to that, and hence, they themselves have a hard time identifying with the rabble (as opposed to, you know, themselves and their financial backers.) And so, the Neo-Victorianism rolls on. Have we not workhouses and prisons? Oh man, yes we do.

Which takes us, in some sense, back to the ongoing theme of this blog, which, in the course of the previous 11 1/2 years (wtf?) has meandered over a number of things... but perhaps we will try to rein things back in to focus on "psychological distance"... the fact that horrible things, be they murder via drone or carpet bomb or whatever, lax worker safety and environmental protection "somewhere else"... so that we can have cheap(er) iPhones, or that we can dump our political prisoners in places like Guantanamo where we can't actually see them...

And I submit to you, this is the universal problem of our time-- why we merrily threaten our species and our planet to extinction, in the name of a few creature comforts and privileges that didn't even exist just a few centuries ago, or to hold on to an ever more tenuous privileged position, rather than make a few adjustments in our life styles in the interests of any kind of "greater good." Psychological distance. We know better... but we'd prefer not. The theory that universal selfish behavior will magically result in some "invisible hand" providing a "greater good" hasn't exactly panned out-- but most people still put their heads down and pretend that... well, you know... it's all o.k. and if it isn't, since we can't see it in front of us (psychological distance again, be it the extinction of flora or fauna or some indigenous people somewhere or the horrible deaths of women and children)... well, it's all o.k., right?

Talking dogs, per se, make one uncomfortable (dogs aren't supposed to talk, after all). And so, alas, that's what we're going to have to do: try to put uncomfortable facts in front of you. As an exercise, you can start with this piece by Candace, and then read about the other mirth and merriment at GTMO, like the hunger strikes, the increasing violence against the prisoners (including evidently the ever popular return, if it ever really left, of abuse of the prisoners' Korans, and of course, the return to "complete radio silence" about matters GTMO)... and maybe we can all just wonder, "whatever happened to that President who said he'd close Guantanamo within a year" somewhere... back... then...

But he too has focused on the interests of "them what has." And it's time we start looking at the world from "psychological distance" of those powerful enough to get their way, rather than the obsolete "right" or "left" that we are seemingly trained to do.

Tee hee. This has been... "March Madness."