Tag Archives: Economy

Gerrymandering: An exciting way to keep your job through lies and cartography

I was just reading this piece by CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/18/politics/gerrymandering/index.html?on.cnn=1 about gerrymandering and it got my blood boiling on the issue.

Gerrymandering as a political practice needs to end. It is a tool which is not in the hands of the electorate and yet allows for huge control over electoral regions. The people in power should never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever be the ones deciding this kind of thing. Giving elected leaders tools to maintain their own positions of power that bypass the electorate are not healthy for democracy.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the vile temptation to gerrymander, and people will never stop doing it while its legal because its too powerful of a political tool. When you can redraw districts to make sure that there simply aren’t enough members of the opposing party in it to elect someone else then you have bypassed the purpose of the system. Of course its tempting. Of course I would love it if we just split some big Republican concentrations up by redrawing district lines to force hatemongering, fearmongering, warmongering Republicans out of office and replace them with Pro-education, pro-taxation, pro-infrastructure Democrats. But, I can’t agree that its ok, and the practice needs to end for everyone’s sake. A system used universally throughout the country is needed to place and shape districts. No party or politician should have the power to reshape districts to shape the outcome of elections. That is not democracy, its a farce.

The “culture wars” between left and right have lead to lines in the sand drawn so deep that the country may never recover. The feelings on both sides that they must “win” at all costs to have a culture and society they are happy living in has led to a corruption of democratic ideals that would disgust our founding fathers. They worked pretty damn hard to write up  documents that created a fair democracy and put in place the tools the citizens needed to protect themselves from the inevitable oppressive nature of government, tools that we are throwing away, baffled looks on our faces, too ignorant of their purpose to realize what we’re discarding. Americans have become quick to give away their freedoms in exchange for vague reassurances that doing so will make them safe, or even just allow them to keep living life as they are now. Its time to start demanding that we get a real working Democracy here and stop giving away powers that should be the people’s to elected officials who have proven again and again how little they deserve the trust. Send legislators to Washington, or your state capital, to legislate, not to play games with maps to protect their jobs.

Gerrymandering must be replaced with a system that automatically updates districts yearly based on population concentrations while maintaining simple grid patterns to avoid sneakily cutting townships out of districts they might tip the elections of. An automatic system has its potential flaws too: Districts made up of diverse populations with very different needs for their representatives to pursue, Districts which include small sections of cities that are largely made up of another district, etc… I am not trying to claim that those situations do not create problems of their own, but I would posit that the problems they create and the potential conflicts of interest experienced by Reps who’s diverse constituents may be seeking very different goals are irrelevant when compared to the larger evil of Gerrymandering and the potentials of abuse it brings with it. Districts should be based on population numbers, overlaid onto a simple grid, so that representatives all represent similar numbers of citizens but do not get to dictate which of their citizens they want to be responsible for reelecting them.

How about we all agree that we should live in a real Democracy, and suck it up when the other side is in power sometimes, instead of trading away freedoms and laws which men have fought and died over the centuries to gift to us today?

Demand Democracy. End Gerrymandering.

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Socialized Costs, Private Profits

People understand Corporate profits, people understand greed, people even understand that a lot of costs of business (such as pollution) get socialized, and they have been willing to accept these things as long as everyone kept smiling and passing some money around the table periodically. The Occupy movement, I feel, is the response to a breaking of a social contract between capital and labour, the contract that says” “You may never be rich, but work for the system and help make us richer and you’ll be able to save hard and own some nice things and take care of your family”. The contract has been broken because too many people can’t put food on plates. Too many people sit on the couch each day because the job market has gotten so bad that even the act of applying for one has become too soul-crushing. The contract has been broken because we’re talking about how many more Fire Houses and Schools we can cut, not about how the very companies Americans just pulled out of the fires of their own creation can turn around and give back to their Saviours. The contract was broken when the whole damn country were made Shareholders while companies were failing, but never got a dime of profits when the money started flowing again (I know many banks paid it back, thats not the same thing). This country shrieks “Socialism” and waves its arms panicking in the air at the faintest sign of a social and economic safety net for everyday Americans, but funnily enough its the “Capitalists” socializing now not just the larger costs of business (Pollution, wear and tear on infrastructure, incorrect pricing of non renewable resources) but also the RISKS of doing business. When profits are up, they pocket them. When profits are down they scream that they’re too big to fail and if we don’t save them they’ll take us all with them. Welcome to the America that spawned the Occupy movement.

This new America is one of broken social contracts and a rich elite who have grown so greedy, yet so powerful, that they can sit there, straight-faced, and tell us that what America really needs to do if they want everyone employed is write some big fat checks for the corporations in terms of tax breaks and loopholes in inconvenient environmental laws. You don’t make money by giving money away, especially not when you are giving your money away to the very people who claim they will hire you. Being paid in your own dollars is not considered profit by anyone save the most desperate and tricksey of accountants. You don’t create a healthy economy by allowing the so called “job-creators” to take away your schools. You don’t create a healthy economy by allowing people who are pocketing millions to tell you that all they really need is a few more millions and THEN, suddenly, they’ll start creating jobs. Giving the rich more money doesn’t help the economy. They ALREADY have money. Why would they choose to spend the latest million on jobs when they spent the last million on a new house for themselves? What drives an economy is demand. The rich do not, independently, create large demand, there just aren’t enough of them. Demand is created by people wanting to buy things and by having the means to buy things. The economy will not get fixed for anyone until large numbers of regular people (“The masses”, the 99%, whatever…) have $ in their hands to spend and enough confidence that their job will still be their tomorrow to spend that money rather than horde it against bad times.

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