Tag Archives: partisan

Insightful comments on Romney’s 47%: Can we talk about poverty?

So I was reading this breakdown on the 47% that Romney described as ‘paying no income taxes’ and ‘freeloaders’ and I came across two reader comments that I wanted to share with my peeps. I found them to be right on, and truly, inspirational. If mainstream news channels brought in more people like this to share their perspectives, maybe we could have some actual conversations instead of just the usual partisan bickering.

The problem with folks that don’t really do their homework, is they think that folks earning 20K or less do so on purpose. They think folks are lazy and take the easiest, thoughtless jobs so they can spend most of their time doing nothing. If they actually tried living that way they’d see that it isn’t true. There’s also a toxic amount of judgement that happens without a depth of knowledge. I say this as a social worker who works with low income folks. There are many who are tired, stressed out, and cranky … and yes, sometimes it’s hard for them to give up time with their children to flip burgers or wait tables for people that do the same amount of work but make tons more. In America, we say you have to work hard for success but the truth is, we inherit our lifestyles and defend them to the death. In more socialized countries, folks get what they need and you work hard to get that extra. Do you really think Mitt Romney works harder that a miner in Eastern Kentucky? I say this with a healthy acknowledgment that I have been blessed with privilege myself.

And this comment in reply:

I also work with low-income people and have realized that a lot of “poor” people make more money than I do, but face much higher economic barriers because they got a point of destitute poverty.

For example, someone who is homeless and has to rent a hotel room every night for shelter might end up paying $1200/mo. Because it’s owed weekly or daily, there is no point where they actually have that $1200 all at once to use for an apartment rental.

Falling all the way into unassisted poverty incurs great cost to individuals. Going from homeless to housed and employed costs much, much more than being employed and finding new housing.

When was the last time you heard voices this insightful on FOX or MSNBC?

There is, indeed, a crazy amount of judgement towards people who are struggling that come from people who a) have never really struggled and b) have never worked with people who struggled. Furthermore, there is this tendency in our country to make giant, lazy leaps to socialism every time there is a call for greater government involvement. Support labor unions? You’re a socialist. Support a fair minimum wage? You’re a socialist! Support health care? Obvi, you’re a socialist. And of course, any support for these policies means we’re one step away from becoming the old Soviet Union or China … watch out!!!!

OK seriously. Calling someone a socialist for wanting a health care system that protects people from dying is way harsh, Tai. Instead of engaging in one-sided debates that avoid the complexity of the issue, perhaps Americans should  look beyond the confines of their small towns to countries in Western Europe, where people work their asses off despite a more socialized system. Reading this article by an American who lived in the Netherlands for a few years, titled “How I learned to love the Dutch Welfare state,” will prove enlightening. Here are some snippets:

“Over the course of the 20th century, American politics became entrenched in two positions, which remain fixed in many minds: the old left-wing idea of vast and direct government control of social welfare, and the right-wing determination to dismantle any advances toward it, privatize the system and leave people to their own devices. In Europe, meanwhile, the postwar cradle-to-grave idea of a welfare state gave way in the past few decades to some quite sophisticated mixing of public and private. And whether in health care, housing or the pension system (there actually is still a thriving pension system in the Netherlands, which covers about 80 percent of workers), the Dutch have proved to be particularly skilled at finding mixes that work.”

“I think it’s worth pondering how the best bits of the Dutch system might fit. One pretty good reason is this: The Dutch seem to be happier than we are. A 2007 Unicef study of the well-being of children in 21 developed countries ranked Dutch children at the top and American children second from the bottom. And children’s happiness is surely dependent on adult contentment. I used to think the commodious, built-in, paid vacations that Europeans enjoy translated into societies where nobody wants to work and everyone is waiting for the next holiday. That is not the case here. I’ve found that Dutch people take both their work and their time off seriously. Indeed, the two go together.”

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Filed under Inspirations

Critical Media – An Intro!

For me, I am far less concerned with political ideology of left vs. right, as I am with the corporatization of culture, which includes (to give a few of many examples):

  • The shrinking nature of public space. Corporate expression in the form of advertisements has permeated every inch of our streets, parks and even  schools. When malls start to look like towns, and libraries are nestled in a shopping center, that to me, implies that we are losing the notion of the public and we are seeing ourselves as consumers, not citizens. And while advertisers bombard us in the public space with their consumerist propaganda, graffiti and street artists are arrested for making art that often expresses social concerns!
  • How this corporate culture has affected our notion of ‘free expression’ when those who are able to have a voice and frame the dialogue are usually the elites (those that have the money, political influence and power) who control our government, schools, and airwaves. Of course, these elites are a tiny percentage of the population, and are usually white, and male. Anyone who has been following the “war on women” in Congress probably would agree with me that these hateful conversations wouldn’t be happening if we had a more diverse political body.
  • Along those lines, the merging of media organizations into just five corporations that own the vast majority of the media outlets we get our information from has further excluded diverse voices that are so desperately needed in a democracy. This corporate influence has resulted in excessive advertising during programming, the rise of ‘infotainment,’ (where Britney’s shaved head is the main headline on CNN) at the expense of important foreign coverage so that these corporations can make more money by catering to the basest ‘bread and circuses’ mentality, which also saves on the cost of operating expensive foreign bureaus that could cover foreign policy stories. It has allowed powerful political and military lobbyists from both the Republican and Democratic parties to give ‘objective’ views on pressing  issues like the Iraq War and the Health Care debate without revealing their corporate ties and thus, conflict of interest.

If this sounds ridiculously depressing, don’t worry! I will also be covering movements that are trying to take back the public sphere from the corporations and politicians. These include independent media outlets and social media bloggers, to street artists and culture jammers. This is an issue that blurs partisan lines and I can’t wait to work on this project with everyone!

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Filed under Media & Culture

So … what I hope we can do with this blog!

Here’s the thing. I am not a partisan, and I have never aligned myself with any particular party. I believe that ideology and identity are far more fluid than what being on a certain ‘side’ allows. I agree with rapper Killer Mike when he notes that our country conditions people to “think in teams,” whether it’s sports, or the clubs you should join starting in high school, or your religious affiliation. It is hard, as he put it, to just ‘be.’ Being curious, asking questions, and trying to form common ground are becoming more and more difficult in our seriously divided, increasingly corporatized culture.

Here’s what I hope to do …

  • I hope to blog regularly (several times per week).
  • My blogs will focus on three broad topics that I find myself always writing/talking about: critical media and culture; gender and sexuality; and critical posts on the fashion industry. I will also have a space for ‘inspirations,’ which will feature—you guessed it—all the amazing things that inspire me that week, from mantras to street art, poetry to speeches.
  • These posts will include links to relevant articles, radio shows, videos, magazines, academic material, podcasts and other blogs that have related and interested content.
  • I already have a ton of ideas (a review of the documentary film, Girl Model, about exploited underage models, the so-called elitism of the sustainability movement in fashion and other industries, why gender matters as much as sexuality in the marriage equality debate, why I love Frank Ocean in all of his gorgeous, ambiguous sexual identity, how the character Spinelli in General Hospital is challenging gender norms in ways I’ve never seen on a television show, and how the CW’s show Gossip Girl is selling haute couture and ideals of neoliberalism to millions of young women everywhere).

And here’s what I would like from you!

  • Please comment! I really want to hear your feedback! Tell me what you think about my posts and share your ideas, and definitely engage with each other! Feel free to share your constructive criticism as well.
  • Keep the conversation going and share! Feel free to send me interesting links—I’m always looking for new ideas to blog about! Also, link me to your blog so that we can keep the conversation going.
  • Let’s keep it respectful! Reading the comment sections of cultural and political blogs (more so political), really depresses me. How can most people be so civil in public but so hateful when the anonymity of the Internet allows it? I’m really not feeling that, and I don’t respect the opinions of people who feel the need to resort to that kind of dialogue. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE heated debate and dialogue, as long as it is respectful and actually engages with the other person!

My hope is that this space will encourage this dialogue, to engage others from different backgrounds and belief systems to join in the conversation, and really listen to each other, girlfriends. And yes, I call my friends, family and strangers on the street ‘girlfriend,’ including my guy friends. It could just be that I formed a subconscious response to the ubiquitous use of ‘guys’ to refer to any group of people, even if it is a group of girls! Or maybe it’s just because I watched the film Clueless one too many times during my all important, formative middle school years, and I have a bit of Cher/Valley Girl in me. 🙂

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Filed under Why I created this blog