It shows a scene from a New York City street, circa 1913*. The text offers a pretty standard revisionist history of the United States prior to the Sixteenth Amendment, suggesting that the U.S. was doing just fine without federal income tax. Then, of course, it throws in the “taxation = theft” bit, which I’m not even going to bother refuting here because the people who make that argument are incapable of feeling intellectual shame. Continue reading →
It’s worth pondering for a moment just how difficult it is to survive on $2 per day. That’s a single gallon of gasoline. Or half a gallon of milk. If you took a D.C. bus this morning, you have 25 cents left for dinner. Among this group in extreme poverty, some get a boost from housing subsidies. Many collect food stamps — an essential part of survival. But so complete is their destitution, they have little means to climb out. (The book described one woman who scored a job interview, couldn’t afford transportation, walked 20 blocks to get there, and showed up looking haggard and drenched in sweat. She didn’t get hired.)
Edin is a professor specializing in poverty at Johns Hopkins University. Shaefer is an associate professor of social work and public policy at the University of Michigan. In several years of research that led to this book, they set up field offices both urban and rural — in Chicago, in Cleveland, in Johnson City, Tenn., in the Mississippi Delta — and tried to document this jarring form of American poverty.
The sound of gunfire rang off in the distance. Tense and paranoid, the backroom of the Westside Pistol Range felt like an Alex Jones discussion board come to life. Amalia arrived late with a lot on her mind. She shuffled through a handful of notes from her independent research on a nightmare anti-Utopian vision of America in which citizens are rounded up by their own government and placed in giant concentration camps. “They could just take us — because they kind of own us!” she stated with certainty.
The group listened intently. A large man behind me chimed in, his words accented by gunshots: “When the banks fail, they can confiscate our assets and not pay us back,” he said. Then he added that what Amalia mentioned could be found in a secret military manual called Civilian Management.
The 15 members present were frustrated, and wanted to take control of their lives in an America which they see as spinning out of control. Most importantly, these patriots wanted to hold on to their guns, so as to be armed against “unconstitutional” orders from an increasingly tyrannical government.
These are the Oath Keepers, a nonpartisan (but libertarian-leaning) organization whose members call themselves “Guardians of the Republic.” Founded in 2009 by Yale-educated attorney, former army paratrooper, and Ron Paul staffer Stewart Rhodes, their mission is to defend the Constitution against all enemies both foreign and domestic. The Oath Keepers’ core membership is largely comprised of active duty and retired police officers, firefighters, and military. Since Hurricane Katrina, they’ve feared that martial law will be instigated during future disasters and land every American in a 24/7 FEMA camp. Their motto: “Not on our watch!”
Ruin porn is one of the more interesting “first-world” developments of recent years, at least in my humble opinion. For those unfamiliar with the concept, “urban exploration” involves visiting and photographingdecaying areas, usually in cities.
In the course of trying to clear out blog post drafts, I cam across many half-formed thoughts on this topic, as well as links to interesting examples. I figured I’d just try to distill everything down to one post here, even if it just means listing some of the links: Continue reading →
Seattle Police Officer Cynthia Whitlatch was fired Tuesday for showing racial bias and a lack of remorse when she improperly arrested a 69-year-old black man who was using a golf club as a cane.
“I was disappointed by your failure during your Loudermill hearing to take any responsibility, or show any understanding that your conduct at issue here was inappropriate,” Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole wrote in her decision to fire Whitlatch. “In particular, when I asked you what if anything you would do differently in retrospect, you stated that you would do nothing differently.”
Rancho Santa Fe, California is about to become subject to water rationing for the first time, and some residents aren’t happy, according to this Washington Post story that really has to be read to be believed (h/t Ned Resnikoff):
RANCHO SANTA FE, CALIF. — Drought or no drought, Steve Yuhas resents the idea that it is somehow shameful to be a water hog. If you can pay for it, he argues, you should get your water.
People “should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful,” Yuhas fumed recently on social media. “We pay significant property taxes based on where we live,” he added in an interview. “And, no, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.”
I’ve seen a number of people recently post an article published on Vox, written by an anonymous college professor*, about the threats to his career and his “academic freedom” (whatever that term means anymore) posed by today’s college students and their “identity politics” (whatever that term means anymore).
I spent quite a bit of time deconstructing the article, at least in my mind. It’s worth noting that the anonymous professor only mentions one specific incident, in which a presumably conservative student reported him to the administration for having communist sympathies or something. That incident went nowhere.
I eventually came to the conclusion that the anonymous professor has a serious problem with regard to the tenuousness of his career, but that his beef is with his university, not his students. Why are professors’ jobs so shaky, and why are universities allegedly so quick to punish professors for offending people mostly age 18 to 22 (who are supposed to be there to learn from said professors)?
One could point to the increasing corporatization of academia, or the increasing tendency to treat students as consumers. Luckily, Amanda Taub, a fellow former-lawyer-turned-writer who deserves better than to be compared to me any more than that, addressed these issues quite thoroughly in a post at Vox. She notes that not only is there a serious problem in academic employment, but that many people are all too willing to dump the problem off on a bunch of teenagers, who make an easy target, quite frankly: Continue reading →
Have you always wanted to live off the grid, close to nature, in a simple dwelling you designed and built yourself? Well, you can!…..assuming, of course, that you have access to land that would enable you to do so, along with the means to do all the stuff I just described, the physical ability to live away from the amenities of civilization, and so forth.
Via Collective Evolution (so consider the source) (h/t Lisé), we learn of a guy who built his “dream mini-home.” In Thailand. On land that was pretty much donated to him. But it’s still a pretty cool house. It has a rooftop hammock platform, which I would totally dig.
Don’t get me wrong—I think it would be great if people en masse could live in a more sustainable way. The key term there is en masse. Continue reading →
In America, class lines run parallel to racial lines. At the very bottom are people of color. The Caucasian equivalent is me—an Appalachian. As a male Caucasian in America, I am supposed to have an inherent advantage in every possible way. It’s true. I can pass more easily in society. I have better access to education, health care, and employment. But if I insist on behaving like a poor white person—shopping at secondhand shops and eating mullet—I not only earn the epithet of “trash,” I somehow deserve it.
The term “white trash” is class disparagement due to economics. Polite society regards me as stupid, lazy, ignorant, violent and untrustworthy.
I am trash because of where I’m from.
I am trash because of where I shop.
I am trash because of what I eat.
– Chris Offut, “Trash Food,” Oxford American, April 10, 2015