Wednesday, August 12, 2015

"Check Your Privileged" is evil.

Sometime before April 2006, an autocratic idiot, possibly at came up with an incredibly  evil concept. They coined the phrase "check your privilege" in a rather inept attempt to explain to racists that the reason why blacks, latinos, women, lbgt, non-christians, etc. etc. do poorly is because of systematic biases that do not affect tall, white, straight christian male Americans.

Some people still think it is a socially acceptable way to explain things.  Let me be clear, those people are wrong.  It does not in any way explain anything to a prejudiced person.  It makes things worse.  Yes, often people that have never had their rights violated do not understand how pervasive the problem is.  But using the word privilege makes it harder, not easier, for them to understand the problem.

This is partly because it is often used as an insult, but that is a side issue.

It is NOT a 'privilege' to:

  • Walk down the street without being catcalled.
  • Not be stopped by a police officer for walking/driving/standing while black, latino, etc.
  • Wear my religious gear, including artifacts of faith - such as a kirpan blade.
  • Get a mortgage based on my financials without regard to race, gender, etc.
  • Get married to the man/women of my choice without regard to my own gender

Those are not privileges. These are Rights.  Constitutional Rights in America, Chartered Rights in Canada, Human Rights in England, etc.

When you call these things as privileges, not rights you are saying these violations are not so bad.  You are saying that certain people get the advantage of not having to deal with them.   These things do not happen to tall, white, straight christian male Americans but that is not an unearned privilege that can/should be taken away from them, putting them in the same place as minorities.

That is the idea of an autocratic, dictatorial tyrant, not a democracy.

When you talk about "privileges" in this manner, including the incredibly obnoxious phrase "Check  Your Privilege", you are being totalitarianist.  You are making the problem worse, not better.

Anyone using the words "Check Your Privilege" is worse than the racists they are talking to.    The racist may not be aware of rights being violated, but at least they know Rights exist.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

In Defense of PACs

Political Action Committees are almost universally despised.

They allow politicians to avoid responsibility for 'their' advertisements, raise ridiculous amounts of money, and have a history of poor use of the funds.  (Some of them have been accused of diverting money raised for political speech into the hands of the people that run the PAC).

While all this is true, I have recently come to see certain benefits to PACs.  I'm not entirely sure (yet) that PAC's are not evil, but here are the ideas I have been mulling over.

1) PACS, while they may increase (or at least maintain) the big money in politics, put a wall up between the politicians and the money.   Which means large donations to PACs can not hide the kind of outright corrupt bribery made famous by Boss Tweed.   While the money may still be stolen for non-political speech, it will be stolen by the people running the PAC, not the politician.  The politicians may still be corrupt, but we have cut out at least one major method of them stealing from the people.

2)  Attack ads are not anything new, they have always been around.   While the PAC's do protect the politicians from blame, it also allows truly ethical people to run.   At one point in time a saintly man could NOT win an election because he could never get down and dirty enough to beat the devilish men willing to do or say anything.   Some people think this is why McCain lost the 2000 GOP Primary (Bush's people accused him, among other things of being the father of his adopted black child, while McCain said nothing that bad about Bush).  The existence of PACs allow a saintly man to run and still win, if only because his less saintly allies can act without his knowledge or permission.  

Let's assume that PACs are here to stay.  What can we do to make our elections fair while keeping the PACs.

  1. Start actually enforcing strict "no cooperation" rules.   If you run a PAC, you can never talk to anyone connected to a political campaign you are funding.  Not on the phone, not in person.  Put in an exception for listening to public addresses (speeches, ads, etc.)
  2. Require that only US citizens election may donate to a PACs.   Foreigners, and corporations (which may be secretly owned by foreigners) are not allowed to donate to a PAC - but they may of course independently pay for their own advertisements.  
  3. Require the PAC to list on their website - WITHIN ONE DAY, any donation that exceeds $10,000 and whose name was on the check.  We can set this to some other limit, such as the cut off for the lowest possible tax bracket, currently about $9,000.  When you check your bank account on-line you see it that same day, no reason we can't do a similar rule using modern technology.  Free Speech is a legal right - but there is NO right to anonymous free speech.  
  4. Make a "No Shouting" rule.   Limit spending by any one PAC to more than 1/2 as much the second candidate raised.   Money may be speech, but we don't let one person monopolize the conversation.  Both candidate's speech should be far more important than someone that isn't running.  Similarly, no person may contribute more than that same limit to PACS - so no one can give 1 billion to two PACs that proceed to each spend the maximum allowed.
If we enact these rules, PACs lose a lot of the problems we have with them.  No more will US politics be dominated by anonymous speech from the wealthy.