Posts Tagged ‘denial’

The Confidential Memo at the Heart of the Global Financial Crisis | VICE United Kingdom.

[previously appeared in East Orlando Post (http://www.eastorlandopost.com/)]

>:/ Punkonomics responds >:/

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Game of Threads: 2 of the over 1100 dead workers in the recent collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh

Game of Thrones Viewers get their Panties in a Bunch

I’m shocked! Just shocked… at how shocked people are about The Red Wedding episode of Game of Thrones (season 3 episode 9). What’s your problem? You don’t seem to mind the slow-motion ballet-like torrents of blood in Quentin Tarantino’s film, or the mechanical butchery in a typical horror movie, or the gruesome pictures of victims in your run-of-the-mill TV crime drama? Where did this sensitive outrage come from?

Allow me to speculate that it’s all about the narrative: the story the authors tell us about the images we see and our own interpretation of it. Unlike in most media today, in this excellent gritty fantasy-drama, the heroic noble “good guys” get slaughtered randomly along with copious collateral damage (innocent bystanders). There is no cathartic moment in which justice is served and not even an overarching meaning to all the senseless suffering. Sort of like in the real world eh? The problem is that we are deeply conditioned to believe that if we do the right thing and behave well then we shall be rewarded. Really? Can I see some statistics please? Maybe there are just rewards in the afterlife, but there certainly aren’t any in this world.

If this rant is beginning to sound somewhat anti-religious then let me say that religious institutions do often behave deplorably, dupe people into submission, and justify horrible violence. However, every serious theology has a strong element of doubt built into it–read the book of Job in the Old Testament if you don’t believe me. Religion is what we make of it and what I’ll call the “media religion” is 3rd rate. It’s a rare pleasure to enjoy a highly entertaining, action packed, TV drama that bulks this trend. Whether the ubiquitous nudity is there for rating or is a valid element of the gritty realism I’m not quite sure but I ain’t complaining.

Now we need to deal with the two stinking bloated rotting elephant cadavers in the room: The Games of WAR and POVERTY. These games are not in an imagined medieval fantasy world. They are happening in the real world every day from the African Americans gunned down on our streets (one every 36 hours on average), through the torture centers and death squads in Iraq, and the mass sexual mutilation in the Congo, to the regular drone attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen (often on weddings BTW), to name just a few recent theatres of operations. Are these distasteful things we have to do to protect ourselves? Well the character Lord Walder Frey who orchestrated The Red Wedding massacre also had good reasons: revenge, sending a message, geo-political advancement, etc.

A little less obvious to our sensitive modern minds is the violence of poverty. Despite popular belief, people don’t just happen to be poor–a sad but inevitable human condition. The vast majority of human suffering is avoidable and is perpetrated by the powerful against the weak using violence. I’m thinking about the almost third of Americans who are hungry and half who are poor, the over billion people worldwide who are starving, the over 40,000 Americans who die each year from illness due to denied medical coverage, the generation(s) poisoned by our agricultural industry, and the many thousands of workers dying while crafting our cherished consumer goods in poor countries. These “savings” that cost so many lives do not go to the consumer as much as to the executive pay of our beloved leaders (North Korean pun intended). I am convinced that most Americans would be willing to pay a few percent more for our cheap apparel and electronics, but that option is not on the table because that’s not where the blood money goes. Instead we are offered crocodile tears, fake apologies, and public-relations campaigns that will have no positive effect on the suffering multitudes. Just like in the Game of Thrones: no happy ending, no justice, no balance .

So now you’re probably thinking I’m a socialist right? Well maybe I am but that’s not the point. Adam Smith is the greatest advocate of the free-market system (aka capitalism), and his concept of the Invisible Hand is constantly invoked to argue that unregulated individual self-interest leads to the best social outcomes. Sadly the people who use this to justify murder seldom read the great man himself, and if they do, seem to ignorantly or willfully misunderstand him. Smith argued that a free-market system could potentially yield such benefits if and only if it maintains an ethical balance by enforcing strict moral behavior. Wealthy and successful people must hold themselves ethically responsible and society as a whole must enforce a social ethic upon them. For example: insurance executives bragging that they denied coverage to so many thousands of people would not be celebrated by their peers nor rewarded with a monstrous Christmas bonus. Under Smith they would be socially ostracized by an elite that values entrepreneurial excellence and hard work and not economic warlordism, corporatism, and kleptocracy. Furthermore, their companies would be shut down for being destructive and criminal by a government representing the long term interests of all the people. Yeah, I know, this sadly sounds way more fantastical than anything Game of Thrones has to offer but my point is that a successful free-market economic system depends on a game of balance.

As the red witch Melisandre keeps telling everybody in Game of Thrones: “the night is dark and full of horrors.”

From Charles Davis

More rappers, less business leaders

Addressing graduates at Bowie State University, a historically black college in Florida, First Lady Michelle Obama on Friday said the reason more African-American children don’t go to college is because they’re lazy:

“Instead of walking miles every day to school, they’re sitting on couches for hours playing video games, watching TV. Instead of dreaming of being a teacher or a lawyer or a business leader, they’re fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper.”

Now, I ain’t black. I am, in fact, painfully white. That said, I do have access to some facts, courtesy the October 2012 study, “Invisible Men: Mass Incarceration and the Myth of Black Progress,” as reported by The New York Times:

¶ Among male high school dropouts born between 1975 and 1979, 68 percent of blacks (compared with 28 percent of whites) had been imprisoned at some point by 2009, and 37 percent of blacks (compared with 12 percent of whites) were incarcerated that year.

¶ By the time they turn 18, one in four black children will have experienced the imprisonment of a parent.

¶ More young black dropouts are in prison or jail than have paying jobs. Black men are more likely to go to prison than to graduate with a four-year college degree or complete military service.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I am not at all confident this metaphor works but I’d say it’s the mass-incarceration chicken. If kids aren’t going to college, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it has less to do with Nas and the Playstation 3 than it does with one or more of their parents being imprisoned, the lack of good job opportunities in America’s urban centers, and the absolute shit secondary schools that the urban poor often have no choice to attend.

Curiously, though, it appears the president’s wife would rather blame black culture than the institutionalized racism that manifests itself in mass incarceration and an official unemployment rate nearly twice that faced by whites. The notion that black children are too busy basketballin’ and hip-hoppin’ and shit must poll better.

US #1 in youth unemployment at 26.6%

Posted: 2013/05/08 by Punkonomics (@dearbalak) in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

The Idled Young Americans – NYTimes.com.

Violence against women in America’s backyard, from Amanda Berry to U.S. Military | Reel Girl.