The Political Spectrum

political-spectrum-jpeg

Even though the election is over…divisiveness in America is as high as ever, if not at all time highs.


We’re seeing it hurtfully in terms of bias, bigotry, and hate all around us:


– Protests, outright hostility, and violence (some sponsored) between left and right.


– Murders of police officers and African Americans betwixt the rise of Black Lives Matter.


– Calls for justice to “Lock her up” and defiant calls of “Not my President!”


– Labeling of people as bigots and racists amidst calls to “Make America Great Again.”


– Conspiracy theories of links with Russia juxtaposed with Wikileaks of collusion against Bernie Sanders


– Powerful political machines, operatives, media handlers, fundraising, advertising, and big data to “get out the vote” for your candidate. 

– The blue wall falling in the election as working-class whites abandoned the party they felt abandoned them.


– Gender glass ceilings, pay differentials, and inequality going up against the hope of a first female President of the United States. 


– Growing income and wealth inequality of the elites and trade imbalances with other nations amidst Occupy Wall Street and a nostalgia to return our manufacturing, jobs, and main street to America. 


Divisiveness of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, wealth and more are showing up in the positioning of people along the broad political spectrum. 


This spectrum spans from ultimate control and dictatorship to outright chaos and anarchy, and with lots of options in between. 


So where do you fall on the political spectrum yesterday, today, and how about tomorrow? 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

What Are People Hungry For?

Katniss_salute_to_the_people

In the Hunger Games, the storyline is of the common people being punished for rebelling against “The Capital” generations ago, by having to put up male and female “Tributes” (kids age 12-18) from each of 12 districts to fight it out to the death, while the rich and powerful in The Capital watch, laugh, and enjoy the equivalent of the gladiators in the Coliseum.

The Games offer a restricted hope to the people–as hope is seen as “the only thing stronger than fear.” In this movie, the hope for winning the games is supposed to displace the fear of the central authorities over their subjects as well as any real hope of change, equality, and justice for the masses.

What the kids and adult fans of this movie seem to be lining up and cheering wildly for with this box-office smash hit is the main character Katniss Everdeen who defies the corrupt politicians and affluent capitalists by fighting not for her life in The Hunger Games as much as for the dignity of the common people in the districts.

From the beginning, Katniss become the first ever to volunteer for the games to take the place of her less adept, younger sister, Primrose, who is selected from District 12; Katniss put her life on the line to save her sister’s life.

And all along during the movie, Katniss refuses to be a pawn in the game and simply kill or be killed, but she rises above the fight and acts all the time with humanity, caring for other tributes and generally refusing to hurt others, unless her life is threatened and she literally has no choice.

For example, she cares for a younger girl from District 11 who eventually is speared to death by another tribute hunting them. Also, she cares for her companion from District 12, Peeta, who is injured, and she risks her life to get medicine to save his.

At climax, Katniss is ready to commit suicide, rather than continue playing to the evil dictates of the authorities.

Katniss comes from the poverty and ordinariness of the district people. However, her fighting spirit, humanity, and ability to outwit not only the other tributes, but the evil leaders–who play the tributes (and districts) off each other for their own power, permanence, and punishment of the lower class–makes her a hero among the masses who are at the ready to revolt at her simple salute to the people.

What I thought was going to be a kids movie that would put me to sleep, turned out to be an uplifting experience watching an old, familiar theme of Rocky the fighter win against all the odds, but in this case with the added twist of defying a corrupt government and elitist culture.

I think this movie is appealing to people at exactly a time now where the 99% are simmering and fed up with the shenanigans of the 1% and elements of both the Occupy movement and Tea Party are looking for principles of freedom, justice, and dignity to be restored.

The Hunger Games is not just about the dystopian future society that doesn’t exist today, but rather about a historical perspective of people who are craving for the proverbial “dirty politicians” and “greedy capitalists” to put aside their games, agendas, excuses, and pots of power and gold for a more utopian society where all people are created equal and treated fairly with hope anchored in reality.

(Source Photo: Adapted from here)

Visiting The Sins of The Fathers

Everyone was waiting for the big news this week out of the EU on how they were going to bail out their troubled economies–way too many: Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland…and more.

Their debt is through the roof–Greece is at 164% of it GDP and Italy is saddled with 1.9 trillion euros with more than 200 billion of it coming due next year.

Unemployment is soaring…with Greek unemployment of 16.7%, topped by Spain’s at 21.5%.

Economies are grinding to a halt: “Euro-zone economic data point to gloomy year-end…0.2% latest quarterly growth” (Wall Street Journal, 29-30 October 2011)

So news this week of a yet bigger (much bigger 4x or 5x) bailout fund of $1.4 trillion to backstop the losses,while sending the stock market soaring, left the pundits a little more than skeptical.

Why? Because where did the losses go…did they just disappear or is this a thoroughly massive shell game where the losses are spinning faster and faster under the shells of economic protectionism until they disappear altogether under the slight of hand of ministry of finance magicians?

I thought to myself this week–am I missing something? I wrote a friend–this guy is a genius–top of the class type, CPA, MBA and asked what he thought of the bailout? He too was baffled and said somebody just took a “50% haircut” referring to massive number of Greek bondholders who just took a huge loss–how is that a good thing?

And I thought what about the rest of the losses yet to be realized in the $1.4 trillion European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF)…by naming it “stability,” does it actually make people feel more secure, better?

Then came the reports later this week–“Doubts rise about EU deal”–that the financial rescue plan is short on details, and as we all know “the devil is in the details.”

Moreover, it’s just a plan–that’s the easy part–words are cheap! The real test lies in whether the financial rescuers can actually execute this time or will we be back at the drawing board in 6 months time again?

Then I thought of the saying from the Torah (Bible)–Exodus 34:7 that G-d “visits the sins of the fathers on the children.” Not in a malevolent way, but in an almost natural way–our actions have consequences.

While not limited to any individual, country, or continent, when we live beyond our means–when greed and gluttony surpass our ability to control our appetites for more, then a bubble builds and down the road, it eventually bursts–whether real estate, the dot com boom, stocks, commodities, or even tulips in the 17th century!

As we all know deep down, no shell game can go on forever–the hands tire, the players become more astute, and most importantly, the excesses of the past must be paid up–so that the next generation can eventually go on to a more stable and brighter future.

Both sides of the spectrum, the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street protesters know the same economic reckoning is coming–and even though not everyone can articulate the rising doubt and fear, we go toward resolution, hand-in-hand together.

(Source Picture: here and here)