No Political Ads? AWESOME Idea!!!

Twitter recently announced that they will not be hosting any political advertising for the 2020 election season.

Some claim this is an infringement of free speech or some claptrap. No, this does not affect freedom of speech. The candidates can still have their own pages, they just cannot pay to promote those pages.

Yes, Facebook and all media should be following the same policy. So should Google. This is the absolute best, most fair system possible at this time.

There is no question that we are not going to get corporate media to cover all candidates equally or objectively. We once had the Fairness Doctrine which enforced equal coverage. Now we have neoliberal media on one side and Conservative media on the other. Corporate media intentionally conducts blackouts of Progressive candidates when not directly attacking them.

What elimination of political advertising does is even the playing field slightly. It means that the campaign with the least money has more chance of visibility, while campaigns with the most money cannot shove their campaign down your throat.

No political advertising also means PACs (Political Action Committees) will not be able to promote their favored candidate or agenda on any media that adopts this policy.

It also basically eliminates any more discussion about “Russians” paying for political ads on Twitter. Or Ukraine or China or whomever else. There can be no accusation of indirect influence via NRA funding, Planned Parenthood or whomever you care to name.

Yes, we will deal with claims that some media coverage is “Russian influenced” but then that has to be quantified more thoroughly. It has been a constant claim for years that RT is Russian propaganda. Yet when challenged to present one specific example, the claimants consistently fail to even attempt to present proof. I have asked Russiagaters if they think Larry King, Chris Hedges, Ed Schultz, Jesse Ventura, Abby Martin or Lee Camp are Russian propaganda because each and every one is or has been a regular on RT at some point. Jimmy Dore has been a guest anchor on several occasions.

The ultimate effect of such a policy would be the reduction of influence of money over elections. It’s a far more difficult battle we face to completely eliminate corporate money from politics but if we demand that social media and all media in general refuse to carry political advertising, we make the entire issue a moot point. It also reduces the chances that corporations and corporate media sources will invest massive sums into campaigns. The sum total effect would be a huge reduction in the amount of corporate money spent on campaigns. So no more $1.2 billion campaigns.

The only real concern I have with this is whether they will consider posts or videos by candidates to be advertising. As long as that’s not the case, it lends more power to individuals who share posts among ourselves. However, remember Correct The Record (CTR)? Paid trolls who posted for Hillary and attacked other candidates in all venues of social media? That is absolutely something we will see happening again. The advantage we have with them is that we can block them. So get ready to do that. They’re easy to spot and I will be posting methods through 2020 on how to identify them easily.

Right now we all need to write, post and petition all corporate media to follow the example being set by Twitter. If a corporate media source insists on hosting political advertising, we can organize mass boycotts of that source.

This is a very strong step toward what truly needs to be our ultimate goal for campaign finance reform- Federally funded elections at all levels, bottom to top. Equal funding for the top 4 parties (at least). No ballot access fees. We have many other steps we should push for but they are separate from campaign finance and advertising.

I’m A Top Economics Contributor for Medium!!

Only two people know the back story to this. My girlfriend and my daughter. I’ll tell it here.

On New Year’s Eve, daughter and I stayed home. It was raining here and she didn’t want to go anywhere. We had our own little party. Sparkling juice, pigs in blankets and popcorn. After MN, I checked my email. Had one from earlier in the evening from Medium. Looked at the title. Hmm? I opened it. It was notifying me that I had been named one of their top economic contributors for the year!

Now, that is how to start a New year!

Okay, here come the disclaimers. First of all, I don’t know what criteria they use to determine this. Neither am I going to read up on it because I don’t want to ruin it for myself if I don’t like it. The tag is now on my page for an entire year and knowing will not change that. I’m going to be happy with it and move on. It does help me with my single NY Resolution which is to expand my reach with my writing this year and try to make a living wage from my writing alone. Maybe add some related activities at some point if I can brand myself more effectively. Being able to devote all my work time to writing would make me a more effective writer.

Economics is not my major focus. I understand economics better than the average American, yes. However, I see economics as integral to the workings of society. That is my major focus. Society, equality across the spectrum is my personal focus.

I am not an economist. I have had education and experience which have led to my understanding of economics, both formal and informal.

When I was 19, I had a job as an assistant restaurant manager. That gave me my first real exposure to economics. I took it further than many by looking at what was happening like major events in my city to plan ahead for business flow. Even concerts or fairs. By that, I predicted peak business times which nobody expected, so I staffed and stocked in anticipation. I stepped down from manager to continue cooking but coordinated with managers for the same purpose the rest of my time in restaurants.

In the 80’s I took my first college classes for business management and administration. That introduced me to how the stock market worked. Just happened I was in Germany at the time and my teacher was a retired Brigadier General who had settled as an expat in Germany. I learned as much or more from conversations after class than I did in class. He was basically a Social Democrat. While in Germany, I observed their system compared to ours.

Since then, I have had formal and informal education and experience in psychology and marketing, which means an understanding of human motivation. Sociology and social systems. Had a Socialist as a Sociology professor in college who was awesome. Can’t count the books I’ve read or how many hours I’ve spent listening to Dr Richard Wolff and Chris Hedges.

Back to the point. It really came as a pleasant shock when I got that email. Yet the one goal I have in writing about economic subjects is putting economic matters in plain language that anyone can understand. That will continue to be my goal because when I listen to discussions about economics, I find it most obvious that people are confused. Economists and WAR Street “experts” use terminology that is intended to confuse the public. Meanwhile, stock investors have been proven to be as accurate as a random program or cat playing with a toy picking stocks.

For people to have a legitimate discussion, they have to understand the way economic programs and systems work and how it affects them personally. It is when people do not understand terms and concepts that they can be manipulated by corporate interests and elected officials who are owned by those corporate interests.

I continue to learn. Even now I come up against terms and concepts which I do not understand or have a low understanding of. What I do not do is act like I understand things which I do not. What I do is look further into those issues until I do have an adequate grasp of what their implications are. If it turns out that concept is affecting many lives, I pass that information along in the simplest terms I can. I know some subjects can be complex but I try and break them down to make them easily grasped.

Am I afraid of being wrong? One thing about economics is that it encompasses a lot of different views and theories. Nobody likes to be wrong but to date anyone who has claimed In was incorrect focused on some trivia which changed nothing on the subject or (most likely) was trying to argue in favor of the failed status quo. I’m always open to rational debate but will never stand down easily when confronted by pure greed. In the event I am literally wrong about something, I will concede. Just know I always do my research before publishing a single word.

I hope my writing helps. I do hope that if my writing helps people understand any subject better that they will share the particular article or at least a credited quote/excerpt to promote further understanding.

Thank you, my readers, who are responsible for placing my writing as a top contributor. I hope to do even better this year and every future year.

Lost Social Skills

This is related to one of my most recent posts, regarding anger and fear as addictions.

In recent years, this country has seen a severe degradation of basic social skills. That has led me to occasionally refer to “America, Trailer Park Version”.

Many people have remarked on this for years but much of the time they refer to more superficial aspects, such as the use of “sir” or “ma’am”, which are too often used as a means of power manipulation. What I refer to is more basic. The lack of respect illustrated by a large percentage of people in everyday life.

One huge illustration of this is people interrupting one another. Even as I write this, I can barely think of a single time I have been speaking in the past several weeks where I was not interrupted by either the person I was speaking with or someone interjecting themselves with no invitation.

What is worse is that much of the time, the person interrupting does so with something completely unrelated to the subject at hand. The same is true with comments on social media. It has become like a national case of Tourette Syndrome.

This is not new. I have been watching this develop over decades. Watch TV news panels with multiple talking heads and they interrupt each other. Political debaters interrupt one another and go mostly unregulated by the alleged moderators. Comedies think it’s funny, dramas think it’s dramatic.

Some believe the loudest voice is the one heard. I do not agree. The loudest voice is the most obnoxious, least intelligent, to be heard last and least.

I know many will try and find someone to blame for this. Drug companies, minorities, women, schools, you name it. However, if you engage in this behavior you need look no further for blame than yourself. You cannot decry negative behavior when you personally propagate that exact same behavior. Blame fixes nothing.

Honestly, this is one thing which drove me to start creating content. Trying to discuss issues became nearly impossible with people trying to scream over each other, divert subjects or be obnoxious enough to mute any opposing views. Of course, my block list on social media is extensive. By creating content, I am able to cover individual topics thoroughly. Even then, I get comments which clearly indicate the person did not read the post, which I call out.

It does not end with speech by any means. People cut each other off in traffic. Even block entire aisles in grocery stores or needlessly stand in doorways or walkways, refusing to give walking space to others

There is an old saying, “If you want respect you must give respect.” This is true. When you think of people you personally encounter, do you respect those who treat you without respect? By extension, if you do not respect a person will you respect the ideas that person represents? This is literally a tactic used by paid trolls. They will portray themselves as indicative of the kind of people who promote certain ideas while being insulting and abusive. The intent is to discredit a movement by invalidating those who promote that movement.

As much as young people are spoken of poorly by older people, I see more hope with younger people than Gen X or Baby Boomers, who focus entirely on themselves. Millennials and younger seem to show more respect across racial, religious, sexual identity and gender lines than their older counterparts. Are they perfect? No, they are young and have to work past the indoctrination they have had forced upon them.

It’s not easy rejecting deeply ingrained societal norms. Yet that is precisely what we must do if we want to change the way our society works for the better. Meaning better for all of us, not just for those already privileged. Maybe that is why I see hope in younger people. They have not grown up with the privileges that previous generations have. They see the system for what it is, tilted in favor of existing wealth at the expense of those without.

If we want positive change, respect is mandatory. Speech is truly the most important indicator of that respect. When you interrupt others, you are literally saying that you don’t care what they are talking about and do not respect them as a human being. If that is how you feel, then have the guts to say that directly and say nothing else. Give them the option to end the conversation entirely or block you. Anything else you say is wasted air. Then ask yourself why anyone should respect your words.

Social Evolution Is Happening, Like It Or Not

Let me start this by admitting that I had a rather religious upbringing. I dived into it really young and by the age of 3 had the desire to become a Christian minister. I maintained that goal until my late teens. Even if I considered other careers, I intended to be a minister as well. I did not see the ministry as being exclusive.

Religion was my own security blanket, I could say. Yet it did not provide answers that I sought, so I left Christianity behind. I did still study philosophy and other religions extensively for years.

I will also admit that my religion held me back in some ways. Not nearly as many as some people because I could never accept the concept of not asking questions, as Christianity mandates.

In addition, I grew up in Texas and come from a family of veterans running in an unbroken line for centuries. So I had no shortage of Conservative views in my repertoire. Never a right-winger, though.

So, when I speak of personal evolution and the challenges involved, I do not come from a perspective of someone has never personally experienced those challenges in a direct manner. I have known the ethical and social dissonance, fear of rejection, and general doubt that comes from radical change to your entire world view.

People have strange views of evolution. Even Christians have to realize that we have evolved as a society over centuries and millennia. We find it unacceptable to nail people to crosses, burn them at stakes, feed them to lions, stretch them on racks, seal them in dungeons. Yes, some still believe in these things, always thinking it is they who will be in charge, not the victims. Once again, I am talking about our evolution as a society, not the random few who have never evolved past single syllable words.

Evolution can be curious. Physically, we evolve over centuries and millennia. We can adapt to different environments in shorter periods, either as individuals or communities but that is not evolution. It is not a permanent change to our biology. We can move to colder or warmer climates, drier or more humid, higher or lower elevation. We can develop a taste for different foods. Our digestion does not always keep up, as we can see from rising instances of food allergies, much of which comes from exposure to foods not in our genetic history. No, I am not getting into the GMO or glyphosate debate here. Take it somewhere else. I am sticking to the subject.

What I am focusing on is social/behavioral/ethical/cultural evolution. People seem to have some belief that social evolution is an organic process that just magically happens. Or that it occurs on a sudden mass scale. None of this could be further from the truth.

Social evolution begins with one person or a small group. That person or people have the bravery to talk to others, often sparking an initial awareness of some form of injustice, inequality or needed improvement to society. That can be behavior, economic process, unhealthy condition, repetitive legal injustice, prejudicial condition and on and on.

From the small group, that issue expands to gain the awareness of some part of the academic community. From there it continues to greater social awareness, gaining a foothold in the media. Today that is most often alternative media owing to the fact that some powerful lobby associated with mainstream media profits from the inequalities in our system. Once it gains footing in the media, it progresses to greater social awareness.

It is from this point that we often see failures or stasis of social evolution. Ideally, at this point it should progress to legislation and social change. However, this is also the point where the powerful forces who profit from existing conditions become involved on a large scale. They have the resources to fight against change, developing propaganda to convince one group that they will be disadvantaged by any change in the status quo. Most often, that is not true at all and even those convinced to oppose change already suffer from the existing condition but they have lived with the condition too long to understand their own struggle which can be alleviated. They fear change and are not willing to hear an opposing view.

The good part is that once awareness has spread, change is always inevitable. It may take years, even generations but change will always happen. Questions do not abate. Knowledge is not forgotten, nor is it static. It spreads, it gains power. For some it may be insidious but that knowledge will continue to gain strength. It causes doubt, examination, debate.

So, social evolution is inevitable. Once begun, it will happen. Society moves forward, not backward. Once ideas and systems have been rejected, we may see some level of retraction and return of old systems but they will not last. In fact, at that point they gain more adamant opposition from those seeking to move forward. Think of racism and gender bias as examples. It is far too late in our social evolution to try and contain awareness, to continue old prejudices on an effective large scale without violence. As of now, so many of us oppose those prejudices that attempts to reinstate them meet with large scale opposition.

Right now, as many cry out in angst, we should all be aware that bigotry is dying. What we are witnessing is the death throes of an already dead contingency. Those trying to perpetuate it prove themselves more mindless and heartless than we had even given them credit for. They show themselves incapable of evolution.

In evolution, only the strong survive. Only the greater numbers survive. Those that attack the society itself are winnowed out, isolated, exiled, possibly popularly denied the chance to reproduce. Even when they do reproduce, their own children are likely to evolve beyond them.

Evolution is here right now. The death throes have only gained the attention of the predators, the scavengers coming to feed on the carcasses. When the predators come, the greater society will do nothing to save those already exiled. They are rejects, weak links that serve no benefit in their continuation. They weaken and infect the herd with illness.

This is what evolution looks like. It is not a glamorous process but necessary. It comes with struggle but will happen nonetheless.

Let’s just hope we did not wait too late to evolve.

“You cannot kill an idea.”- V For Vendetta