Newtown Truthers and their mainstream brethren: the NRA

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Newtown Truthers exist. This takes it to a new level. I don’t trust the government, and I think they are corrupt, and I think they lie to us. But it is not about this. This just distracts everyone from the real problems.

But to all those various Truthers, all I have to say is: I wish I lived in a world where I thought the government was that competent. Rather than the world where the head of the CIA is so un-savvy that he used his normal email to correspond with his mistress, where the General Services Administration (an independent oversight committee responsible for, in addition to other things, encouraging government efficiency and cost cutting) spent $800,000 of taxpayer money on a party for themselves in Las Vegas which included complementary yearbooks, or the world where the administration can’t distribute the correct information about the cause of the Benghazi attacks to its press secretary…. And those examples are an attempt to pick incompetent behavior of the kind one would think the government would not want to exhibit even if they were in the midst of a massive, all encompassing conspiracy to enslave the world, and completely ignoring the obvious stuff like the apparent desire of a third of the House to dismantle the government into nothing but an agency to make sure no one can get an abortion; or the fact we can’t go even a year anymore without almost shutting down the government because no one can compromise over cutting $30 billion or $60 billion until the last minute, resulting in our countries credit rating being downgraded unnecessarily; or that people, including those in high office, apparently think Obama’s a socialist when he’s actually to the right of Regan… which could all theoretically be brushed aside as a smoke screen to distract everyone from their nefarious plans to enslave us all.

So yeah, ok, the government is totally capable of perpetrating massive conspiracies to enslave the American public without a single lowly bureaucrat deciding a book deal, talk show time, and millions of dollars might be a better option than being complicit in the tyrannical takeover of the whole country. Clinton couldn’t even keep it under wraps that he was banging an intern. But sure, Alex Jones and David Ike know what they’re talking about, Lizard People rule the world… and neither of them are trolls motivated by all the money they are making. Moreover, if you overanalyse any point in time inconsistencies and oddities crop up, but that doesn’t necessary make the answer malevolent conspiracy. It’s like the guy with the umbrella in the JFK footage who was probably just symbolically mocking JFK for his father’s support of Neville Chamberlin.

But the thing I really don’t get about this latest Truther movement is why would anyone think the government had anything to do with this specifically at all? What are they trying to do? It doesn’t make any sense for a variety of reasons. One, this is not unprecedented. Mass shootings have been happening for years. They happened when Bush was president, when access to guns was being expanded. Moreover, this is not even close to 9/11, which I do not think was an inside job, but I get that point of view more, or at least the knee-jerk reaction to try and make sense of it in that way. I actually used to hold that opinion, I watched Zeitgeist and shit my pants for like a year until I decided to do the thing those kind of videos tell you to do as a rhetorical way of justifying their own existence, and ‘looked into everything, and questioned everything.’ And when I stuck my head outside the conspiracy echo-chamber, I decided that some of it was true, but most of it was contrarian bullshit. That’s actually what got me started on caring about current affairs…. but I digress.

The point is, this is not some crazy off the wall thing, nor is it going to result in the confiscation of all guns… that is not pragmatically possible, much less something the government is going to try and do. Even that uber-unprecedented (although it actually is not) New York law allows people to keep assault rifles they already own. And it’s not like the government couldn’t kill us all if they wanted to anyway. This is actually what makes the more mainstream FOX fear mongering about the Second Amendment almost as crazy as Newtown Truthers. The population doesn’t have tanks, or APCs, or large explosive projectiles, or surface to air anything, much less ballistic missiles. And even if they took away our assault rifles, we still have all the other kinds of guns, and we can go to HomeDepot and buy all the materials to make an IED, so it’s not like if they tried to put us all in slave labour camps the population wouldn’t possess the capability to make this country a hellscape no one would even want to hegemonically rule over. And if the goal is to kill us, they don’t need to take away our guns to do that. And if they actually confiscated all our guns, we could all just pull a Ghandi, sit down in the street and say ‘fuck it, kill us all and then you won’t have anyone to rule over.’ It’s not like that’s a lot more suicidal that running up against a tank with an m-16, and as the Palestinian situation shows, smalls arms can really only get you deadlock anyway. But that is all assuming they could get soldiers to attack civilians without some kind of ‘other’ mentality working in their favour. And actually, Ghandi style would probably be a much more effective way of stopping our government and American soldiers from doing some tyrannical purge of society for the same reason it worked so well against the British and would not have worked in Nazi Germany. Shooting at the Army when they come marching down your street to ‘remove’ you, is probably the most effective way to motivate those soldiers to ‘remove’ you.

But sure, it’s possible, anything’s possible. Jesus might come back tomorrow. Maybe everyone in the world is a figment of my own imagination… maybe if you go back far enough in time the whole Tolkien series plays out verbatim and the Assyrians just didn’t want to put any of it in their records because hobbits and elves freaked them the fuck out. I’m being a hyperbolic ass, and I guess in all honesty I’m down with post-modern question everything mentality. Dogma is bad, and people need to keep open minds, but if you don’t filter information, there is no way to decide anything, and you end up talking about a bunch of fake stuff while our incompetent leaders drive us off a cliff. This kind of conspiracy nonsense is the hipster version of ‘gay people are the biggest threat to civilization ever.’

So my question is why? Why would the government want to do this? Because I can think of a lot of reasons someone would make a conspiracy video, and a lot of reasons people would want to push nonsensical fear mongering about the current administration…. I can even think of a lot of indisputable examples of that kind of thing happening in the recent past. But I can’t think of any reason the government would have anything to do with killing a bunch of elementary school kids. The government doesn’t want your guns, no one in their right mind could think the Democrats wanted to waste a big chunk of Obama’s second term dicking around with the all-divisive issue of gun control only to pass the ineffectual and partial gun laws that will probably come out of this and will leave everyone upset. But the gun laws in this country are pathetic, and we should all be embarrassed that it is harder to buy Sudafed than an assault rifle. The normal Second Amendment enthusiasts aren’t much better than the Newtown Truthers because they are afraid of the same implausible doomsday scenario and are similarly romanticizing the defensive capability an AR-15 gives you against an ICBM. The only difference is they are not currently admitting they believe the government is actively trying to contrive that doomsday scenario, and because there are more of them, they are currently doing signification more damage to our nation’s political discourse. Although, none of that is to say problems with poverty and the mental health service are perhaps not equally, if not more important aspects of dealing with mass shootings and gun crime in general. Additionally, it is important to note that gun crime in general is down, although mass shootings have increased in prevalence.

Moreover, There are so many real things to be afraid of and upset about. To give a really specific example in addition to all the aforementioned incompetence, why isn’t there a video with 8million views about congressional gerrymandering? If the government hadn’t years ago delegated the power to re-draw congressional lines to ‘fit’ census data in the most idiotic way possible… we would not currently be dealing with a Republican House and political deadlock for the next two years. More people overall voted for Democratic congressmen than Republican, but nevertheless it’s still 200-233. So much for one person one vote. Not as sexy, but real and infuriating.

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Why the UK does not have an Immigration Problem… much less a crisis:

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Do immigrants take our jobs? Common sense would say yes, but truly the answer is yes and no. There is more competition for employment, but not necessarily the same employment. Immigrants often fill voids in the economy that are not filled by the local population. This can lead to growth in economic sectors that would otherwise be made unviable in domestic or global markets through providing cheaper labour. This, itself, can lead to economic growth and increases in standards of living through depreciating the cost of desired commodities and services –making them more accessible– and increasing overall demand. These arguments themselves are so often cited by proponents of immigration they can seem clichéd. Further, they have failed to end the immigration debate: perhaps because of their counterintuitive nature. But if the wider trend is observed, two less mentioned but simpler points can be made.

The UK is not a self-subsisting country, but is one that is indelibly linked to the wider world. This is a fact that applies not only to the import of commodities such as food and energy, but also to people. The UK’s fertility rate is only 1.94, a number that is at least 0.2 points lower than is necessary to prevent a population decline when factors such as premature death and emigration are taken into account. Although there is no consensus regarding the effects a declining population will have on a national economy, it is not a prospect that should be disregarded lightly by a country engaged in social welfare policies for its senior citizens. Although Germany, Japan and Russia are often cited examples of nations experiencing economic growth while sustaining population declines, the long-term effects of such phenomena are unknown.  No country has experienced net population decline since the 1950s. This is a problem the world will perhaps inevitably face, but is not one any single nation seemingly should joyously embrace.

The UK’s contemporary net population growth rate is not unprecedented, or even abnormal. It is very much on par with growth occurring in the 1960s and early 1970s. It is up from the 1980s and early 1990s, but not substantially. This, ironically, is in part due to the higher fertility rates of recent immigrants, indicating that without them, this problem would be of even greater magnitude. This, itself, could be raised as another spectre of doom, perhaps it is, but potential failures of multiculturalism must be viewed as a separate issue entirely.

A simple and interesting perspective on the unemployment issue can also be gleaned from a wider vantage. If the doubling of unemployment that occurred during the six months subsequent to the 2008 financial crash is discounted, the UK’s unemployment rate has been flat-lining since the early 1990s. Unemployment levels did not rise following the EU directive in 2004 to allow free movement of labour within Europe, and following the spike in 2008, they have not continued to rise, despite the supposed horrific influx of ‘foreigners’ crossing the Channel. Nuance must be acknowledged because this does not mean there have been no changes in unemployment levels, but that there exists no discernible upward trend during this period.

Historically, unemployment rates have correlated with a lack of stable economic growth, and seem to have nothing to do with immigration influxes. The point is, immigrants are not the cause of unemployment, and to blame them is to miss the issue. We should be focusing on a way to restructure the UK’s economy so that it can weather the hit it will take when –or if– we implement drastically needed regulations on the financial services sector, to prevent another boom and bust bubble like the one that has caused our current high unemployment. Even if immigrants were kicked out to ethnocentrically provide jobs for fellow countrymen, this would only wrongly convince people the problem had been solved. Thus, leaving us exposed to another depression cycle, all the while punishing people who had nothing to do with the economic crisis we are currently experiencing.

To be concise, at the expense of vulgarity, we need to stop the conservative circle-jerking blame game and fess up to the financial services monster we have created ourselves.

Enlightened America:

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I am often plagued with depression, and it is because the world has gone crazy; or perhaps to put it better, the world seems incapable of shaking off the crazy we all inherited from our grandparents. The crazy I speak of is tradition: the proclivity to put on a pedestal the things that are associated with one’s ethnicity, culture, or nation. It is divisive and leads people to endorse ideas that are logically inferior to others.

Most of our grandparents were racists, and they had reasons to be racist, or at least they thought they did, and if that is your cultural context, it is forgivable to hide your head in cultural sand. But we do not have the burden, or luxury, of this pre-genetic-revolution rationality. That kind of behavior can no longer be seen as acceptable, and it generally is not. But in some ways racism is more prevalent in life than many realize. To say the traditions of my ancestors are particularly important and worth abiding by, simply for that reason, is to say that my ancestors are inherently superior to yours. How is that not racist?

I am not a racist, but I say that not because I was told not to be, although that probably helped, but because there is no reason to be a racist, and there are many reasons not to be a racist. This, I argue, is the only valid reason to think anything, and is the only reason that we have changed the norms of society away from the norms of the past. If everyone followed the traditional mores of their ancestors, women would still be chattel and anyone harking from another tribe would be ‘enslavable’. So, since in practice no one really wants to go back, why does anyone think it is okay to exalt ‘traditional values?’

Admittedly, what I ask for is impossible. Even on just a racial level, which I picked for hyperbolic effect, science tells us we are all biased and subconsciously racist. The cultural and genetic aspects of which can only fade in a truly post-cultural, post-racial, post-post-modern utopia… but people can still try. At least identify these things.

This brings me to America. America, the country founded on the enlightenment, the first secular state in the world, a social experiment in determining if the light of free speech truly will dispel ignorance if only given a chance. Why then has it failed? Why is America the cesspit of bad ideas that it is? Why are Americans still arguing about whether or not people are people? (I am talking about the gays)

Everyone knows the great enlightenment thinkers were hypocrites. They were misogynists and racists. So perhaps this poorly founded hypocritical base is why America has failed: the intellectual foundation of the enlightenment was not ready to found a country. But I do not think this is true for the same reason I think the enlightenment philosophers are worth celebrating. Their ideas not only allow for change, they demand change. Through applying the scientific method of persistent rational inquiry upon all aspects of thought and policy, they created a tradition designed to disregard and dispel tradition. This should be heralded as one of humanities greatest achievements. But it hasn’t caught on. If embraced it could fill the one pragmatic void the abandonment of tradition would leave: the Burkian glue of social cohesion.