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Thread: The Decline of the Debate and the Rise of the Far Left and Right

  1. #101
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Unfortunately, things like advocating a living wage get you penned as far left in America.

    For example, why is Ocasio-Cortez depicted as taking the Democrats to a radical, extreme direction (and not only in conservative media, btw)? What is she really saying that is so far left and out there?
    Last edited by Starker; 21st Aug 2018 at 15:07.

  2. #102
    Moderator
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    Quote Originally Posted by Nameless Voice View Post
    It seems strange to be complaining about the far left when the world is being increasingly taken over by the far right and the alt-right.

    Where are all these far-left people hiding? I don't see them. Am I one of them . . .
    Maybe I just don't travel in enough circles to see them?
    You and me both. As far as I'm concerned, until Brexit and Trump, most people in my left and right circles have been muddling along in a middling kind of way. They may have believed various untruths but the Trump effect has allowed them to express their nasty thoughts. And expressing them seems to have resulted in an increase in thinking and saying - hopelessly muddled but I expect you understand what I'm trying to say.

    But what I don't agree with is that hatred should be protected by the right of free speech. If your speech is designed solely to attack and hurt others, then that is not okay and you should not have the right to that speech. You have the right to have an option. You do not have a right to spread hatred and vitriol, to attack others. Those aren't valid political beliefs, they're behaviours which are unacceptable in any society.
    I'd guess this might come from the 'incitement to racial hatred' law (Wikipedia entry) that we have or whatever similar you have:

    This offence refers to:

    deliberately provoking hatred of a racial group
    distributing racist material to the public
    making inflammatory public speeches
    creating racist websites on the Internet
    inciting inflammatory rumours about an individual or an ethnic group, for the purpose of spreading racial discontent.
    I think that covers most of what we have to deal with in those terms. There's a helluva lot of debating you can do without falling foul of that law.

  3. #103
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    Quote Originally Posted by Starker View Post
    Hmm... if Lord Dampnut can have his rallies, why can't the Tea Party people? What's so different about them?

    The only ones I've seen suppressed so far are the alt right, like what happened at Unite the Right 2. But these are a bunch of white supremacists and literal Nazis, who quite unironically talk about ethnic cleansing and the day of the rope. Hardly legitimate political discourse.
    In my area it's happening to the "alt-lite" and some libertarians as well. I think the antifa and other militant left groups just lump everybody on the right together. It doesn't matter if you actually espouse white supremacist views or not, if you have any association or connection with the alt-right you are assumed to be a closet white supremacist.

    Last year, there was a "free speech" rally planned in Boston by a local alt-lite group. They had lined up two local libertarian Congressional candidates and some alt-right speakers. The most controversial name I can recall is Augustus Invictus, who they later disinvited due to the negative publicity. The rally never really got going because a huge crowd of ~40k counter-protestors showed up and overwhelmed the police who couldn't keep the entry way to the rally open. The crowd chased off anybody who was trying to get into the rally, so attendance was limited to a handful of people who showed up early, and some of the planned speakers never made it in. The police got spooked by the swelling crowd and basically had to smuggle the rally-goers out through a tunnel and police vans. Some of the crowd tried to block the police vans from leaving. Police vehicles were vandalized, some cops got assaulted as they tried to clear a path through the crowd, some had urine thrown on them.

    At a more recent alt-lite rally in Providence, the cops had horse manure thrown on them, and one of the rally-goers was confronted on his way back to his car and hit in the head with a bike lock. And a Free State Project (libertarian) protest was overrun by rioting college students.

    And there's been a bunch of minor things recently. A Trump bumper sticker prompted a case of road rage and a hit & run. A group of people went nuts in a restaurant because some guy eating there wouldn't take off his MAGA hat and they had to be arrested. I live in one of the swingiest of swing districts, and at this stage of the election cycle there's normally a lot of campaigning. The usual practice of holding signs up at a local roundabout has stopped after an incident of cars going by throwing eggs at them. And lawn signs are being stolen at night.

    Quote Originally Posted by Renzatic
    No, the extreme left are anachro communists and other fringe weirdos. The people you're talking about are just regular left.
    The extreme left are relatively few in number and have been fairly quiet for the last 10 years or so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Starker View Post
    Unfortunately, things like advocating a living wage get you penned as far left in America.

    For example, why is Ocasio-Cortez depicted as taking the Democrats to a radical, extreme direction (and not only in conservative media, btw)? What is she really saying that is so far left and out there?
    Here's a quick list of proposals. The first two are becoming pretty mainstream among Democratic party voters. Not so much for the last three.

    1. Medicare for all

    2. Legalizing pot

    3. Eliminating immigration and customs enforcement

    4. Tuition-free public colleges, universities, and trade schools. She wants the federal government to write off all student loans they currently hold AND she wants the federal government to pay off all privately held student loans.

    5. A guaranteed government job for anybody who wants one, with a living wage and benefits

  4. #104
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Hmm... maybe it's because I'm not American, but I have a seriously hard time seeing how most of these proposals are so radical that they'd be extreme far left ideas.

    1. Universal healthcare is incredibly common all around the world. Nothing radical about it.
    2. This might seem a bit radical, but is it really more radical than legalising alcohol and tobacco? Also, while so far there are only a few places where cannabis is legal, there are quite a few countries where personal use is not criminalised and it looks like the US too is moving in that direction.
    3. I can see how this might seem radical, even though ICE is a fairly new agency created in the aftermath of 9/11. But is it really much more radical than the very mainstream Republican ideas of getting rid of the Environmental Protection Agency or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? Honestly, to me the creation of ICE seems far more radical than abolishing it.
    4. A lot of European countries like Germany, France, and Greece are doing free or nearly free tuition. And forgiving student debt does not really seem all that much more radical to me than bailing out corporations.
    5. With the looming threat of automation, this might be one solution to combat that. Either that or basic income. Just creating garbage jobs that pay next to nothing would help nobody, but there could be, say, infrastructure projects that make good use of the workforce and pay reasonably well, for example.
    Last edited by Starker; 23rd Aug 2018 at 19:01.

  5. #105
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Quote Originally Posted by Starker View Post
    4. A lot of European countries like Germany, France, and Greece are doing free or nearly free tuition. And forgiving student debt does not really seem all that much more radical to me than bailing out corporations.
    The bailouts weren't a gift to our corporations. They were loans, expected to be paid back with interest.

    I could understand offering some form of student debt relief, but to nix them entirely would help one group at the expense of multiple others.

  6. #106
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Fair enough.

  7. #107
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: The Land of Make Believe
    University tuition isn't free here, but despite the hysteria about students graduating with mammoth debts, it doesn't need to be paid off until a person is earning a decent wage, and even then it's only a small percentage over a certain threshold. So it functions rather like a graduate income tax, which seems like a decent compromise between the two extremes (of poor people not being able to afford university versus poor people paying taxes so the middle classes can attend university).

  8. #108
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    That's the best way to approach the issue. Though it still doesn't address why college tuitions have skyrocketed over the last few decades, which is the major reason why we have a student debt problem to begin with.

  9. #109
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Over here there is a minority of the far left that want our country to allow 100% of immigrants and refugees in. That's just complete madness.

    We don't have sufficient infrastructure for our current population and the average person can't afford a house anymore, due to sky rocketing house prices over the past 10 years.

    For me I see this one as a far left, head in the clouds type thing.

  10. #110
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Well yeah. In the end we're going to run out of space world wide. Which will either = World War 3, or we actually start putting money back into space tech again in-order to be able colonies other planets (teraforming would be way better, but far harder to work out how to do). Mars be first on that list for sure. I have doubts that that one will ever happen. More likely to get WW3. Bring on the Vault Tec bunkers.

  11. #111
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Quote Originally Posted by icemann View Post
    Well yeah. In the end we're going to run out of space world wide.
    We might end up having a few big fights over resources once the population gets so large, but I'm not worried about us running out of room anytime soon.

    The US is a good example here, because no one realizes just how staggeringly empty the middle of the country is. The entire state of Montana only has 1/8th the population of New York City, and it's a big fucking state.

  12. #112
    Moderator
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    Quote Originally Posted by SD View Post
    University tuition isn't free here, but . . . it doesn't need to be paid off until a person is earning a decent wage, and even then it's only a small percentage over a certain threshold.
    I've never managed to reach the threshold and it's too late now. Interestingly, I thought, it used to be the only debt that wasn't wiped out by bankruptcy although I don't know if that's still the case.

  13. #113
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Quote Originally Posted by Abysmal View Post
    That just means other ecosystems run out of room. If only everyone would stop chasing a higher standard of living. The proper way of a colony is inequality, as nature intended. Gotta keep most people low or the whole thing breaks. I didn’t say I wanted it that way.
    You're not entirely wrong, but good luck trying to convince people of that greater good.

  14. #114
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Abysmal View Post
    If only everyone would stop chasing a higher standard of living.
    Higher standards of living correspond very well with lower birth rates. Mostly it seems to come down to the availability of contraceptives. Make sure that everyone who wants birth control, gets birth control, and we'd solve our population growth problem overnight. 'Course, evolution would eventually have something to say about that...

  15. #115
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Abysmal View Post
    After we automate them away, what's the plan?
    I actually think that's a lot further away than people like to think. The U.S. automated and off-shored the vast majority of its prior economy, and has never shown the slightest sign of a fundamental labor excess (obviously we've had plenty of recessions and depressions where demand for labor temporarily dropped, but those were all fiscal fiascos). The jobs just changed. If we really reach a point where we need people to not work, some sort of UBI is the obvious plan of attack.

  16. #116
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: The Land of Make Believe
    Quote Originally Posted by nickie View Post
    I've never managed to reach the threshold and it's too late now. Interestingly, I thought, it used to be the only debt that wasn't wiped out by bankruptcy although I don't know if that's still the case.
    I've not quite reached the threshold either, although the threshold is much smaller for newer graduates, albeit their repayments are lower and more fairly structured (if I breach the threshold even by 1, I am obligated to pay my entire debt off over five years).

    Tuition was free for me, at least; ironically, the only reason I took out two years of student loans was because I needed to guarantee I had a certain quantity of money in the bank in order to attend university in the USA.

    Yes, they changed the law in 2004 to exclude student debt from consideration in bankruptcy. Otherwise, I suppose, every graduate would be tempted to go bankrupt.

  17. #117
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    Re: free tuition

    The rising cost of post-secondary education is largely due to the growth in demand exceeding the growth of supply. There's a limited number of reputable institutions and degree programs, and stiff competition among students for admission to schools that will give them marketable degrees. I don't see how that would change if public universities were free. Private institutions would still attract paying students, and the good public universities would still be highly selective. There would be fewer people going deep into debt for a worthless degree, but there would be even more people getting worthless degrees.

    In my opinion, it would be better to put more public money into improving primary and secondary education as well as trades and skills. We still have a ton of under-funded and under-performing primary and secondary schools. Also, it seems to me that shortages of skilled workers in certain regions is more of a factor in limiting economic growth than shortages of degrees. I'd rather we spend to improve basic education and reduce structural unemployment and skills gaps than produce more history and psychology degrees.


    Re: automation

    Our standard of living is largely a function of our productivity. We've always been finding more efficient ways to do things that require less labor. Whenever we take a step forward in productivity, we temporarily displace some workers. But over the long term, every advance in efficiency has resulted in an increase in the standard of living and no net loss of demand for labor.

    Trying to protect workers from being displaced by automation is counter-productive. If you don't take advantage of automation to increase efficiency, somebody else will, and they will out compete you and your workers will lose their jobs anyway.

    If you try to close off your economy to prevent competition, you will cause a drop in your standard of living, devaluation of your currency, inflation, and economic contraction. If you're able to live through that and reach a stable condition, you can be like Cuba and stand pat for four decades or so while the world passes you by.

  18. #118
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by heywood View Post
    In my opinion, it would be better to put more public money into improving primary and secondary education as well as trades and skills.
    I find these sorts of strategic quibbles disingenuous. Let's be clear: The same people who want to better fund higher education, also want to better fund lower education, and the same people that are actively defunding lower education are opposed to better funding higher education. We can debate exact tactics all we like, that's all well and good, but first we have to establish that education IS an important priority that should be given more consideration and funding instead of less.

  19. #119
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    That's a different argument.

    I thought we're talking about the merits of Ocasio-Cortez's proposal to make post-secondary education free?

    In my opinion, there are higher priority uses for public spending.

  20. #120
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Free tuition doesn't have to mean that a lot more people who want a "worthless degree" will be suddenly be able to get it. Also, not only would there be fewer people to go into debt over a "worthless degree", there would be much less people going into debt in general. Which to me seems like a good thing. Also, it would allow for more social mobility in a situation where 1 in 5 children in the US live in poverty and 2 in 5 live in low income families. And yes, primary and secondary education are important too, of course.

    And yes, automation does increase productivity. Which is why social programs are needed to distribute that increase in productivity. As the last three Republican presidents have demonstrated, it doesn't just trickle down to those in need. Dealing with the effects of automation doesn't mean you have to abandon automation to protect workers, it just means you don't have to let the displaced workers become destitute as a result.

    Quote Originally Posted by heywood View Post
    That's a different argument.

    I thought we're talking about the merits of Ocasio-Cortez's proposal to make post-secondary education free?

    In my opinion, there are higher priority uses for public spending.
    Well, the argument was that Ocasio-Cortez's proposals are not radical far left ideas, but pretty mainstream and ordinary.

    Also, investing in higher education seems a better priority to me than massive tax cuts for the rich and budget increases for the military that they didn't even ask for.

  21. #121
    Moderator
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    Quote Originally Posted by SD View Post
    . . . the only reason I took out two years of student loans was because I needed to guarantee I had a certain quantity of money in the bank in order to attend university in the USA.

    Yes, they changed the law in 2004 to exclude student debt from consideration in bankruptcy. Otherwise, I suppose, every graduate would be tempted to go bankrupt.
    And I took loans out because I became a single person a year in. It wasn't more than about 5000 though (long time ago now).

    Going bankrupt is not a good thing unless you're immoral or have family money to set you up again. It does affect your future prospects. But Inland Revenue debt is written off and student loans is government money (or used to be) so it seemed illogical.

    Apologies to icemann for wandering off topic so to salve my conscience, like Starker, I think, I've not noticed a rise in far left, only in far right. That may well be because I am only afraid of the far right.

  22. #122
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    There's no free lunch. A student might not be taking on debt under her proposal, but the federal government will be taking on the debt and we'll all have to pay it sooner or later with interest via taxation. So let's make sure it's well spent.

    Under the current US system, the costs may be covered in part by direct payments by the student or their family, academic or athletic or other scholarships funded from various sources, need-based financial aid funded from various sources, and student loans. It's a messy hodgepodge for sure, but it does accomplish a few things. First, students with high family incomes pay more and students with low family incomes get more subsidy. Second, it ensures that students have some skin in the game, so there is incentive to pursue studies that have a positive ROI.

    We're already wasteful in that a great many students obtain degrees that have little or no economic value. A lot of people were raised to think that Bachelor's degree = career with a middle class or better income. That's not the case and there are plenty of people out there who wasted time and money obtaining an unmarketable degree who are now tending bars, waiting tables, working in retail, doing administrative work, etc. There will be less incentive for students to get their money's worth out of an education if they're not paying for it.

    As I said in my previous post, there's already fierce competition for admission to colleges and universities with a good reputation, because the education they get and the degrees they earn have more value. Many of those are private, and students will still pay to attend. The better public universities are already highly selective, so making them free isn't going to increase their enrollment.

    Also, most of the good schools (public and private) are already progressive with financial aid, to make opportunities for poor students who can get admitted on merit. The bigger problem that poor students have is that their primary and secondary education usually isn't very good, so they have a hard time getting admitted to a reputable degree program based on merit. And when they do, they are less likely to succeed because they weren't as well prepared. So the single biggest thing you can do, by far, to improve economic mobility is to improve the quality of primary and secondary education where poor people live.

    If you take a kid who graduates high school with the equivalent of a 9th grade education and expect him or her to attend a public college or university for free, they're going to end up at a bottom tier school earning a worthless degree. Better to put the money into ensuring they get a real high school education and/or sending them to a vocational school to learn a trade or marketable job skills.

  23. #123
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Rich families may pay more, but they are also able to afford it far better. They don't have to save up 10-20 years for their children's college fund. Subsidies may help some extremely talented poor people get a higher education, but removing the steep financial barrier would ensure a more level playing field for everybody, not just the select few.

    Yes, the government would have to pay for the education through taxes, but is it preferable to saddle young people with debt before they even really start their lives? Is it really better if those who go to bottom tier schools to get a "worthless degree" end up with a crippling debt as well?

    Also, free tuition doesn't mean that the taxpayers have to pay for every single degree, no matter how "worthless" of "worthwhile" it is. Naturally, there is a preference for qualifications that are deemed more important for the future.

    As for trade schools -- Ocasio-Cortez proposes to make them free as well. Though, I have to confess I don't quite understand what that means. Are public vocational schools in the US not free already?
    Last edited by Starker; 24th Aug 2018 at 18:06.

  24. #124
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    Quote Originally Posted by Starker View Post
    Are public vocational schools in the US not free already?
    Depends on where you're at. More often than not, trade schools have a smallish tuition, though sometimes you'll have some city, county, or state initiative that offers free class programs for people to take.

  25. #125
    SShock2.com
    Member

    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: The land of ever sideways rain
    Quote Originally Posted by icemann View Post
    So how did we get to this point, and how can we fix it?
    I will completely ignore the rest of this thread, because I'm tired and just want to express my opinion on this one quote. This will prove the point I'm making later.

    I believe we got to this point because of social media. I'm fairly leftist compared to most people, but I've always wanted a good discussion about things, because that's how you can prove that someone is wrong. However, in my experience, good discussions seem few and far between nowadays, people tend to have an opinion, stick to that, and only read social media that supports and strengthens their already held beliefs, no matter what side they're on, politically, religiously, whatever. If you only ever encounter items that support your opinion but are slightly a bit more extreme than you, and you never see any opposing views, you're quite likely to think "Yes! THAT's what I think, finally someone said what I've always thought", thus pushing you slightly further along the direction you're already heading. And then, when you DO hear an opposing view, they now seem so alien to you that you can no longer have that conversation that would have been so beneficial to you AND THEM making you both have to think about your opinions, and probably moderate them. Hence, you find no common ground, and needless conflict ensues.

    What's my point? Despite this medium of extreme mass communication we now have, where you have access to everything at all times, people tend to more and more find stuff that reinforces what they already believe, thus driving them further apart from people of opposing views, not closer. It's tribal thinking, amplified by technology. You can see examples of this everywhere. Trump. Brexit. General idiocy. If we're going to rely this heavily on technology as a society, we need to find a way that will spread unifying ideas, not dividing. Keep a dialogue, not an increasingly extremist monologue.

    Either that, or just run up to a racist and kick them in the nuts. Which, granted, is a lot more rewarding, until you get arrested.

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