Why Now?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way.-opening sentences of Dickens’ “Tale of Two Cities”

When I first started talking about the notion that we were in an Interregnum–Gramsci’s notion that “The old is dying and the new cannot be born.  In this interregnum there arises a great diversity of morbid symptoms”–I didn’t really suspect that it would get quite so morbid. A couple of days ago, a reporter, having read my Brave New World Redux post, called me up to ask about the reference to “Flash Robs” in the context of the London Riots. I made what I thought was a fairly uncontroversial remark about two facts. First, that in a world of increasing inequality, there is a group of unemployed young people who are totally untethered to the social norms. Second, those young people use social media for everything, including organizing vandalism and looting. Even though the reporter took a long discussion and boiled it down to one line, I still feel my comment was true. What I have seen since then is an onslaught of hate mail, much of it overtly racist, probably brought on by this blog post revealing me to be “an undisclosed new media leftist”. And here I thought I could return to my community and have a decent, civil conversation. Jeesh! Here’s an example of the kind of shit I read every morning. This one from one Dan Anthony.

Let’s tell it how it is.. These Mobs are Black Ghetto Welfare Slaves. Their parents and grandparents were also Welfare Slaves. A bunch of people caught in a cycle of no education, no ambition, and no morals. Stupid People breed Stupid People. If this was the best Economy in the history of the country , these people would still be doing this. The Economy up and downs do not effect Welfare Slaves. Maybe if people in this country told the truth without worrying about who’s feelings get hurt, we can move on and become a better society. Stay out in Cali with the rest of the elitest, leftwing nuts. You assholes out there are phooney, full of shit, Limo Liberals GO FUCK YOURSELF AND FUCK YOU JERK OFF.

I’m trying to figure out why my comments about the haves and the have nots has struck such a cord.I assume most of the people  who took the time to find me on line and write, as Mr. Combs did, that I “was twisting facts to fit my socialist agenda”, probably are not working on Wall Street making $10 million per year. If Mr. Combs was working on Wall Street, he wouldn’t have time to trash me. Which leads me to the question, why are middle class folks so intent on defending the top 1%’s right to not pay their fair share of taxes? The conventional wisdom says that Mr. Combs dreams that one day he will make $10 million a year, so he want’s to make sure that when he gets to the top, he won’t get taxed. But the myth of American economic mobility is just that–a myth.

Most people think that there is more economic mobility in America than in Europe. Guess again. We’re also near the bottom of rich countries in this category, for example as measured by the percentage of low-income households that escape from this status each year.

So unless Mr. Combs first name is Puffy, he’s probably not going to get that mansion on the hill he dreams about. So why else would a comment about the London Riots bring out such vitriol from the Right? I think because it points to the possibility that extremes of inequality are not costless to a society. In my last essay, I assumed that at least in the U.S. Aldous Huxley was right. We are living in a Brave New World where the power of 24/7 entertainment mixed with lots of drugs and alcohol will keep the poor fairly pacified. The London riots as well as our own examples of Flash Robs put the lie to that myth. I have no idea what the next 12 months of the Interregnum will bring, but I do think social unrest will continue to be a problem. Many years ago I wanted to do a documentary on Robert Kaplan’s book, The Coming Anarchy. In describing the world of the future Kaplan wrote this prescient quote.

We are entering a bifurcated world. Part of the globe is inhabited by Hegel’s and Fukuyama’s Last Man, healthy, well fed, and pampered by technology. The other, larger, part is inhabited by Hobbes’s First Man, condemned to a life that is “poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

So why did I start this essay off with the Dickens’ quote about “the best of times, the worst of times”? How could I possibly think this was a season of Light? Well, because I see wisdom and light in small communities of practice. I see it in the students and professors who congregate in the Innovation Lab. I see it in the incredible generosity of the small rock and roll worship community I belong to that is lead by Jimmy Bartz. And like our correspondent Alex Bowles, I see it in the politics of California and Los Angeles, that are feeling their way towards a rational election system that may unlock the gridlock of our broken democracy.

When Jimmy Bartz and I talked this week about the cultural, political and spiritual crisis we find our selves in, he gave me three notions to help combat the anomie:

  1. Lean In (towards your community)
  2. Make yourself vulnerable
  3. Resist the numbing (of the entertainment industrial complex)

So despite the hate mail, I’m going to continue to try and post an essay for your consideration every Thursday. I’m going to lean into this community, make myself vulnerable and hope that collectively we can resist the numbing.

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31 Responses to Why Now?

  1. Michael Rose says:

    Thank you for wading in and trying to shed some light in an era that is becoming shrouded in darkness and fear.

  2. Melba says:

    Jon, I read your column with great interest. It is also incomprehensible to me how people have become so instransigent that they seem uncapable of engaging in meaningful discourse. Labeling the person (leftist, commie, elitists) rather than addressing the argument seems to be the only way to discredit the person. I’m in San Diego County, and reading the comments sections in the newspapers exhausts me! Glad you are up to the challenge though. I do resist the numbing of the media but I must admit I am rather fond of my wine :D. Hey, nobody is perfect.

  3. Sean Naughton says:

    Jon, thank you for your integrity and your willingness to be both open and even-minded in the face of hostility. Bravo to you Sir!

    Your posts, as of late, are inspiring me to deeply consider, how can we, beyond the pipeline of the “Media Industrial Complex” or the Distraction Factory as it was so rightly named much earlier in this century, begin to author the vision for a new culture. A culture that holds as its foundation the understanding of our inter-connectedness, the requirement for sustainability and our personal responsibility to be grateful participants in upholding a just and equitable society… how indeed…how?

  4. John Tarnoff says:

    Jon:
    – Have you sent your original “Redux” post to Tom Blumer at Newsbusters? Would be interesting to engage w. him on that level vs. the usual stereotyping and sloganeering. Would certainly be a test of his integrity…
    – In trying to understand the Teap vitriol against you/us, e.g. Mr. Combs, it seems to come down to the old right wing idea that anyone on welfare is a lazy shiftless bum who could find work if they really wanted to, and those of us who support welfare programs are thus seeding civil unrest, so it is hypocritical of us to explain away unrest as due to structural issues. I know, I know – the numbers should speak for themselves, but ideology is a tough bitch and we’re not dealing with a population or a mindset that feels comfortable with nuance or complexity – both luxuries of the effete Left Coast intellectuals who am us. So how to actually develop dialogue at this point? ‘Cause we keep talkin’ and nothin’s changin’. The Super Committee is already being dismissed before it’s even met. So at what point do we get to that final scene in Metropolis where there is real surrender on both sides and the emergence of hope? Seems to me we have a long descent ahead of us.
    JT

  5. Jon Taplin says:

    Melba-I don’t find wine a bit numbing. It’s reality TV that’s the valium of today.

    John T-Thats why I like the New Federalism Idea. I don’t really care what the local customs are in Alabama. They don’t affect me in Los Angeles one bit. As far as I’m concerned they can shrink the Federal Government all they want, as long as the residents of California can get great public services from a State VAT or income tax.

  6. woodnsoul says:

    I believe the parameter of the size of community has a great deal to do with social issues and with the individual feeling of helplessness and powerless so rampant in much of what we see resulting in riots and anarchy.

    I’m not sure where the Panarchy that the U.S. has become is a result of that, but the feeling of local powerlessness is a real function of the size of the community.

    I live in a tiny hamlet, largely forgotten by most of society, and in this area, it is a people-to-people world. I cannot envision anything like London or Cairo or Watts or Detroit happening here. People here, and this is a fairly conservative community politically, help each other – period. It isn’t perfect, of course, but it does work.

    Perhaps our societies simply cannot function at the size and complexity that we have today. They eventually implode.

    As far as the vitriol so prevalent today, I am unceasingly appalled by our inability to communicate with one another. It is the foundation for the failure of our societies – or one of them. Cognitive dissonance is hard at work in the authoritarian (usually conservative mind) and cannot be countered. It is “hard wired” that way.

  7. woodnsoul says:

    Of more concern to me are the reports of the British government trying to restrict the use of cell phones and social networking— shades of all despotic governments everywhere. In Britain? It could happen here just as easily, maybe more so.

  8. Morgan Wastrel says:

    Dan Anthony lives in extreme poverty.

  9. Callie K. says:

    Jon,
    The vitriolic tirade from Dan Anthony causes me to pose a question that has occurred to me before, but now I would really like an answer. What exactly is a “limousine Liberal”?
    Isn’t it just a rich person that cares about someone other than just him or herself? Is it worse to be a limousine Liberal than an armored car conservative? Is there a rule somewhere that once you have money or position, you’re required to immediately stop caring about anything other than your own money and taxes? If you have enough money to not care about the environment, healthcare, social safety nets, equality, or even anyone that is less fortunate than you, and you do anyway, why does cause such over the top hatred in so many people? I understand that some working people hate the idea that they are subsidizing people who they feel are inferior or lazy or otherwise un-deserving of any assistance, but the let’s use the one example of the missing 9 billion dollars in the Iraq war, or the no-bid contracts that led to multi-billions of dollars being siphoned out of our treasury into the hands of we will never know who, where’s the conservative outrage? That was tax money, too.

    I too am puzzled by why people, who could be wiped out by catastrophic illness under a rigged healthcare system, are so deeply opposed to any kind of regulation or creation of a system that allows people of this country to receive care as a right of citizenship. The Health insurance industry has proved itself incapable of serving it’s policy holders with the same approbation as it’s share holders. It’s better to let our poor, elderly and sick suffer rather than paying a little extra to not have to step over them in the street? Yet, that idea is an anathema to many who themselves may meet that fate. I, although I ride in Lincoln Town Cars, find that abhorrent. Please, if you can, explain what makes that so worthy of derision and scorn.

    I have many more questions about this. I’ve seen people in the streets who are raging against a system in which they are simply never going to succeed. They have no investment in continued civil society because they receive no benefit from it. I can understand, just through sheer empathy, the anger and hopelessness engendered by the circumstances in which they will not only fail to thrive, but in many cases, will not survive. My impulse is not to call them names. My impulse is to give a flying fuck. Does that make me a bad person?

  10. rhbee says:

    Yes, Jon, keep it up. Listen to all the new voices joining in since you’ve returned. And keep talking. We need to keep up the discussion not let it die under the name-calling that passes for discourse in our current day. Meanwhile, I am not sure but Morgan may have hit Mr. Combs exactly with his tweet-like comment. Combs, like many of his cohortians, doesn’t appear to know that it takes an assholic attitude like his to go off on someone like he did with you. My question is why doesn’t he recognize the similarity between his actions and those of the rioters/looters he decries?

  11. flint says:

    Sorry… Posted this in the wrong place. Long time since I’ve interacted with a blog.

    ey Jon, A lot of stuff to comment on, and I’m slow and impatient on the iPad.

    Let’s agree that ‘investment’, is a spent term. Not going to happen. We should have used the stimulus to do something bigger than prop up state and local government unions and a stinking diamond lane on the 405.

    And as far as tax hikes, I’m quite sure that the 2006 Dem senators had a very direct chat with Harry Reid and that caused the cave. More taxes aren’t happening. The ‘tax the rich’ stuff works when nobody is paying attention. People are paying attention. They are post-panic (never let a crisis go to waste’ was two years ago) and they want their money, rights and country back.

    Look at the British unrest and I see no racial component whatsoever. Plenty of stories about rich white kids out there. Most of it is about people with pointless lives having a tantrum. And these people have free health care, endless benefits, free homes and they’re rioting. What’s that tell us? In a way, something positive — people aren’t happy when they have coddled, worthless lives. We need to overcome fear and satisfy greed to be happy. Hence the most recent and perhaps poignant refutation of socialism.

    And we haven’t gotten to the western financial collapse. (uggg… Can’t maneuver around this interface. And have to go. More later)

    Figure that the same torrent that ripped into the private sector is going to rip through the public sector now that there’s no cushion.

    As far as violence, figure that you will be living in a seceded west side with something like Blackwater watching the perimeter.

  12. John Papola says:

    The hateful ignorant screaming really doesn’t even deserve a response, Jon. People cursing and condemning entire groups as “Welfare Slaves” aren’t coming from a healthy or constructive place and aren’t really interested in positive social change. So I reject them and their approach.

    But you don’t help yourself with weird claims like “why are middle class folks so intent on defending the top 1%’s right to not pay their fair share of taxes?”

    What does this even mean? Have you looked at the distribution of the tax burden? Have you looked at the distribution of the tax burden compared to the distribution of income? I don’t cry for the top 1% and I certainly share the scorn for those who have gotten bailouts and state advantages. But the numbers show that the top earners pay a disproportionate share of the total tax burden even when normalized for their share of the total income. So what is the “fair share”?

    These kinds of trite “fair share” comments make you sounds like a generic leftwing democrat. I know you’re not.

  13. rhbee says:

    So if not taxation how do we get the rich to pay to have the world be a betterplace for all of its inhabitants. Apple the corp is a person to the court. Why doesn’t the person that is Apple/google/Everycorp-poratewelloff want to make the world a sharable and livable place for all. Simple answer. Their economic system are archaic. Let them eat gold, I say. We need to redefine what work is in this electronic age and readapt the reward systems that we call pay. Electronics are our tools and we make bots to do the work. In our world there will never be enough of what we currently call a job to go around. We need to face that fact with a new attitude towards the kind of jobs we really should be producing/doing. We need to grow up to the fact that fattening ourselves is what business is currently selling us. Food to bulge our clothes with, Oil so we can keep on drivin’ on, Politicians so Colbert can make jokes.

    Apple and Google put your billions to work and quit screwing us around.

  14. John Papola says:

    rhbee,

    What are you talking about? In what way is Apple and Google “screwing us around”? Who is “us”? There’s lots of “we” in you comment. Who is this “we”? I’m serious.

    I’d also really appreciate some further explanation of the concerns you have regarding the so-called “personhood” of these corporations. I hear this complaint and read it all the time yet never see any depth to the criticism. It’s always just skin-deep demagoguery, aimed at drumming up anger. How DARE an entity be elevated to “personhood”!!!! But in what way are these organizations “people”? Let’s dig into this issue. I’m open to criticism of the notion of limited liability. I’m not sure I consider the idea legitimate. But what else?

    Remember, corporations are just collections of people.

    As for this idea that there aren’t enough “jobs” to go around… please. There’s plenty to do. The question is: at what wage? Is there coordination between the job opportunities that are paying well and serving real needs and the supply of qualified and experienced people to fill those rolls? That appears to be the problem, along with statutory prohibitions on hiring people at their honest market wage (see punishingly high teen unemployment and thank minimum wage laws).

    We had a decade plus of policy-driven misallocation into housing, housing-related industries, and finance. We’ve had decades of regulations and needless over-creditialing shrinking the opportunity for all kinds of employment and innovation in healthcare, energy and education.

    The “rich” who earn their property justly by creating value for voluntary customers are already providing social value and service. They don’t owe “us” anything and they pay way more in taxes than the rest of “us” far in excess of any notion of equal treatment under the law (true justice).

    The responsibility to get a job is on the job-seeker first. We now have European-levels of unemployment benefits. That’s more than enough help (and I not convinced that it doesn’t do more harm than good for many people’s motivation).

  15. woodnsoul says:

    What happens is there is a protest and the cell phone service is shut-off? Egypt, Syria, China, Russia – nope,San Francisco.

    The enemy is right here folks. As Berk Breathed said, we have met the enemy, and he is us!

    There simply won’t be any protests here – the institutions here won’t allow it.

  16. rhbee says:

    John P., Screwing around by agonizing over how to “invest” their billions. And did you forget the last elections where corporations “won” the right to vote or donate as one? And I am talking directly about the meaningless jobs that are in place just to keep people from noticing that the job goes nowhere means nothing. Work there’s plenty to do but what exactly? And I didn’t say anyone is owed anything except ourselves. We are owed the right to grow up. I asked I didn’t as you so often like to do, tell.

    I live in San Diego County where the housing industry driven by the “need” to have jobs has created its gigantic share of the real estate crisis. Republican San Diego by the way where the rich idle away their days on multi-acre lots in Rancho Santa Fe.

    Oh, and are those “voluntary customers” the same ones fighting through their final years of cancer caused by their voluntary addiction to tobacco or are they the ones who used up their credit to buy the American “appear to be rich” dream?

  17. Jon Taplin says:

    Flint- I don’t want to live in a gated community with Blackwater guarding the perimeter. If I did, I could work in the Green Zone in Baghdad or Kabul. That’s not a decent outcome

    The thing you and I and Papola could probably agree on is that the cities and states could be smarter making infrastructure decisions than Federal Bureaucrats. I think we will only get out of the crisis if we experiment like hell. Let different states try different solutions for education or health care. And try to duplicate best practices.

  18. James says:

    There is abundance everywhere.

    When we lift up our eyes to the greater good, we function as close to our design as our creator intended.

    By focusing on compassion-ism as the new economic driver for Gross National Happiness (GNH), we recognize the importance of caring deeply for each other in an interconnected world.

    Let us concentrate our natural competitive tendencies toward who can provide the most innovative educational structures, and who can implement the most caring medical care coverage (cradle to grave), and which corporate systems do the most to employ the greatest amount of talent. Let us then watch the bountiful expression of mass employment that fully taps the wealth of ingenuity and creativity that’s in us all.

    What we are witnessing are evolutionary growing pains, where the organism known as humanity is responding to unsustainable greed by a very small percentage of the species, causing those in power to be blind to the needs and suffering of the rest of its body.

    When we rise above manufactured illusions of ‘deficit’ vs. ‘entitlement,’ there ought to be greater perspective for the average individual that we equally belong here in the divine miracle of creation that this universe has brought us forth into.

    Thus, the original thesis of the article is correct. To pave a positive path forward, we must embrace everyone with the support they need to contribute back to a better world, and most importantly to prove that each of us has value and worth far greater than what can be measured in our lifetimes.

    Thank you for leaning forward Jon!

  19. Fentex says:

    I happened to live and work in London, and for a while in Brixton, a few years after the riots there 30 years ago.

    Riots there do not surprise me. The place was a hell hole.

    When I was working in a hardware store a woman asked for a new door lock for her flat (U.K for apartment) to keep out an ejected boyfriend and I volunteered to go and replace it for her after work.

    I was dismayed to see where she lived in one of the ‘estates’ built in the sixties and seventies to house the people moving to urban life from Britains countryside and other immigrants.

    No grass, all was concrete. Only one door into a building housing thousands with a high coaming. No windows on the first three floors reserved for car parks.

    It was obviously designed as a prison where people could be contained.

    I could touch both sides of the hallways at once and the idea of replacing a lock in the door she had was a joke. I could easily have punched through the pathetic plywood construction of it.

    One day when for lunch I had bought a book and looking for somewhere to sit and read in the sun (the iron bar fenced park festooned with dog crap and drunks on benches being uninviting) I took shelter behind a wall, sat out of traffics way with a bottle of juice and meant to pass the hour quietly. Only to be accosted by a man demanding to know what I was doing. Confused I didn’t know what to say in repy to his insistence that “I have children you know!”

    People rioted there thirty years ago for I expect exactly the same reasons they riot now. The excitement is as good as anything else young men have to look forward to there.

    And the talk about online communications and social networks is a rationalised distraction. They played no part in riots in the past and if absent would play no part in the riots which would still occur.

  20. Fentex says:

    Thats why I like the New Federalism Idea. I don’t really care what the local customs are in Alabama. They don’t affect me in Los Angeles one bit. As far as I’m concerned they can shrink the Federal Government all they want, as long as the residents of California can get great public services from a State VAT or income tax.

    You my remember some time past I suggested splitting income tax and sales/consumption taxes between state and federal government?

    Sales tax for the feds also solves problems with states arguing with internet based companies over who gets to tax their sales while state based income tax allows states to differentiate themselves (and the republic as a whole to have varying examples and test beds) on what they believe.

    How easy to get elected would it be for a party to have a simple one or two hundred page tax code for this and air commercials that simply present it beside the behemoth that is the current U.S code?

  21. Fentex says:

    But the numbers show that the top earners pay a disproportionate share of the total tax burden even when normalized for their share of the total income. So what is the “fair share”?

    I find it an interesting question. In the past I’ve often contemplated it.

    It seems obvious to most that wealth should be taxed proportionately – the services provided are consumed (very roughly) in proportion to ones wealth (more property benefits from more police, more business benefits from more roads) but I often wonder if it’s possible to measure more accurately the relative benefits gained.

    I personally suspect the wealthy benefit disproportinately from good governance. I think stable social orders and functioning infrastructure is of more benefit to the investor than the labourer and there is a simple cost benefit argument to be made that they ought pay proportionately more for these things.

    Arguments that the rich ought pay more because they can, or because concentration of wealth is inherently dangerous and ought be discouraged, or because it’s simply neccesary all seem a bit subjective and born of ideological thought that is inherently suspect to me.

  22. Fentex says:

    I’d also really appreciate some further explanation of the concerns you have regarding the so-called “personhood” of these corporations. I hear this complaint and read it all the time yet never see any depth to the criticism. It’s always just skin-deep demagoguery, aimed at drumming up anger. How DARE an entity be elevated to “personhood”!!!

    Once more I am confused that a proud libertarian has a problem with this. I quote my last reply to this question…

    The libertarian ideal of personal freedoms and responsibility is undermined by corporate personhood that defuses responsibility among people making it impossible to affix responsbilities and denys the incentives for responsible behaviour libertarians expect.

    Who was to blame for Bhopal? The designers for underspecifying equipment, the maufacturers for building bad tanks, the management for underfunding maintenance, the engineers who overlooked flaws, the operators for over utilising equipment? Surely not someone named ‘Union Carbide’, because punishing that fictional identity lets the others go free.

    Even if a corporation is treated like a person in some contexts there are others it never can be treated as such – a corporation cannot be executed, it cannot be imprisoned as retribution, it’s victims can never take comfort in knowing it experiences (because corporations have no conciousness) regret or frustration in it’s cell.

    This reveals more reasons why people distrust libertarians – railing against an idea because it’s ‘left’ when the idea seems wholly consistent with professed libertarian ideology just leaves people suspicious, again, that libertarians are more motivated by expected personal priviledge from ownership of untrammeled corporate assets than their professed ideology of liberty.

  23. Fentex says:

    The “rich” who earn their property justly by creating value for voluntary customers are already providing social value and service.

    A problem with this position at the moment is the problem that one cannot be sure how much wealth is honestly earned in a society where regulation and governmnet granted priviledges have violently distorted economics.

    A person railing agaist an evil corporation is not neccessarily an enemy of a liberal economist who wants free trade.

    Both may be railing against the consequence of corrupt governance.

  24. In classical Greek mythology we meet a seer named Teiresias, a very old man who can see into the future. One day it occurred to me that the reason Teiresias could tell what was going to happen was because he knew what had already happened. He had already lived through it. He knew that history is cyclical and events repeat themselves albeit in different forms. Now that I am older and can look back over a wide spread of years, I extrapolate about a future that will include my children and their children. I sadly admit that I am not one of the hopeful. I see the Klan in other robes. I see globalization as the next incarnation of the plantation system, international conglomerates taking the place of elected governments. I see mercenary armies fighting myriad wars when they’re not stationed in D.C. clearing us out from Pennsylvania Ave. I do not relish the world my children will inherit. Ignorance reigns. It continues to astonish me, this willful ignorance, and as long as that willful ignorance is attached to fundamental, radical religion it will continue to grow more dangerous. Michelle Bachman and her ilk are real. She is not acting. The lady is a true believer, a religious fanatic, the kind that kills, and just look at her popularity. Please understand I mean only honor and respect to any creed that has at its heart the dignity and humanity of the rest of us, but most of my life I’ve felt that the true danger to the United States came from within, like beetles boring through the heart of an oak tree. Forget sharia law. It’s the beliefs of the radical right that worry me. On talk shows one hears these people whine and complain about being persecuted, but throughout the history of the western world they are the persecutors and always have been (Check out the crusades, lynch mobs, concentration camps, and pogroms for starters), militant and aggressive about a way of life that would set the United States back centuries and end life here as we know it. They are among us, folks, organized into a rabid cabal of self-anointed Dominionists and devotees of the New Apostolic Reformation (Rick Perry being one of their self-confessed prophets), with the aim of infiltrating our government so as to enforce their beliefs on us all. I fear civil war. I fear a time when people who disagree with the government will be “disappeared”. I fear witches will once again be hung. I am firm in my conviction that anyone who believes Jezebel and three demons are in control of the United States (told to the press by another moron from Perry’s Response day) is a menace to our society. A huge part of me believes there is little we can do to stop this political and social (r)evolution, but another part of me believes in fighting back as heartily as possible. We are in a battle for the very soul of the United States of America. To co-opt a popular right wing slogan, “I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees.” Hell hath no fury like a liberal scorned. Believe it.

  25. John Hayden says:

    Jon, welcome back! We need your voice. Please keep posting.

    I was thinking we might be nearing the end of the Interregnum, but if this is the end, then I shudder to think what the new order will bring. I’m seriously thinking it will be a repressive form of corporate-fascism.

    I’ve been trying the cover the “Debt Crisis of 2011″ on my own blog, but your insights cut much near the truth, and you do it in some detail. I count you along with Wash. Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein among the few observers and thinkers who can help the rest of us understand what’s going on. Please keep writing!! — John

  26. Pingback: News Flash — Jon Taplin Is Back! | Dispatches from ConsterNation

  27. OK, let’s actually think ahead about what is coming.

    The escalation and conclusion of the story and the technology is easy to grasp.

    There will be a “flash rob” and the store owner will pull out a gun and then there won’t be any more flash robs.

    The moment one criminal participant brings a gun as well.. and everyone else is going to jail for armed robbery.

    There won’t be any more flash robs. Say it with me: there won’t be any more flash robs.

    Looking at England, they just need to take a couple hundred and publicly kick them off the dole, and let them rot in the street, and there won’t be anymore riots.

    IF there are more riots, they will get sprayed with pink ink from high powered water canons and kicked off the dole.

    UK will grant store owners rights to own guns – hurrah!

    Stop rooting for the underdog, this shit isn’t romantic. Life is hard, it requires you work every day, it requires you be able to support your own children or not have them, these are basic truths NOTHING will keep these truths from manifesting themselves.

    Liberals would be smart to adopt them.

  28. woodnsoul says:

    Ahh, Morgan, glad to see you are back to name calling and pigeon-holing folks.

    It is a simple fact for those who have and control over 80% of the wealth, life is not hard. It is, in fact, pretty easy. And they don’t work everyday. It is the “great unwashed masses” for whom life is hard and they actually do work every day – they have to just to survive.

    Have you read “Conservatives without Conscience” yet? Read any of the even more recent studies showing that the conservative and authoritarian mind is simply incapable of absorbing facts contrary to their pre-conceived ideas [i.e. without foundation or factual basis]. It is a phenomenon known as cognitive dissonance.

    This issue, alas, is not with Morgan, but with most of the conservative ideologues. Facts are simply not a relevant part of life. It makes it very difficult to make progress when 40%+ of the population is simply incapable of making fact-based decisions.

    Solving complicated problems like the riots – which seem to be happening most everywhere – are not simple. The solutions, real solutions, are not amenable to jingoistic incantations from anyone. There are real problems, real issues and real compromises to be made that might actually go a long ways to resolution of the complex problems we all are facing.

  29. len says:

    Good to see you back, Tap. Much to catch up on here.

    Working behind a firewall these days so not much time. Still, very glad you are back in the fray. I’ve missed this dinner party. It’s been the most challenging since the early days of the internet.

  30. len says:

    >Taplin:
    1.Lean In (towards your community)
    2.Make yourself vulnerable
    3.Resist the numbing (of the entertainment industrial complex)

    or

    1. Respect your community.
    2. Make yourself valuable.
    2. Don’t waste your time.

    Callie asks the best questions and that calls for a respectful answer (respect is the antidote for rage, but it isn’t always a given and when not granted on merit, demanding it is not wrong):

    What exactly is a “limousine Liberal”?
    Isn’t it just a rich person that cares about someone other than just him or herself? Is it worse to be a limousine Liberal than an armored car conservative? Is there a rule somewhere that once you have money or position, you’re required to immediately stop caring about anything other than your own money and taxes?

    In order:

    1. A liberal who looks out through tinted glass in a car consuming too much fuel for the cargo it carries.

    2. It may be but not necessarily. The test in not that they care more for others but in what they can understand is actionable given all the other things they care about including their own wealth and those close to them who are affected by it. Many a plot there.

    3. No. It is the same. The difference is in what you care about and what of your wealth you dedicate to your cares for some. For others, it is exactly the same: people who need top much room for the cargo carrying cost. Liberals buy comfort and security. Conservatives buy security and comfort. Everyone buys what they can afford, or… steal it.

    A conservative tell you you are wrong, then yells, never knows the facts, calls you un-american and says you should leave the country, then threaten syou with Jesus. Liberals tell you you are wrong, then yell, won’t admit the facts, call you uncool (unelite), tell you to leave the list, and then threaten you with Bob Dylan.

    The difference isn’t a lot.

    The last question is more interesting:

    There is a rule that you have to care. Otherwise, you lose your personal wealth. The difference is how much a flying fuck is worth balanced against your wealth and how that will affect those whom you care about.

    Then a question of means. Means are very local. And this is also about access. So if the difference in the classes of limousiners is what they care about, it’s chiefly a question of when, where and why they lower the tinted windows and take action on the street. This is where Jon’s description is better than mine: when, where and for whom will you make yourself vulnerable?

    Oligarchies are evolutionarily unavoidable. It is about resource distribution in dense populations. Controls emerge and with them support for the makers of symbols that control access and production, the avatars, if you like. In emergent systems, they are what is emerging. If you want them to be what you think they should be, you have to tend to the walled garden. Angry farmers in practice are rare. Avatars never are. :)

    No, your wealth is not what people look at in rage. Your art, maybe and maybe that’s the point. Once you wrote a movie that changed the culture. When you do give a flying fuck, you are wise and passionate, so where it may not always be said of your class, it says of you, you are one of the good guys. You choose to give a flying fuck or you are so made by nature that you cannot do otherwise. You’ll have to work that one out. Happy trails!

    Why do people call each other names? Insecure politics. Kindergarden klatsch kitch.

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