Friday, October 28, 2011

World Fantasy Con and the Class panel

World Fantasy is being a lot of fun—seeing many old friends we haven't seen in much too long.

I maybe should've stayed off the Class panel. Six people is too many for a subject that hasn't been explored much in this community, so this ended up feeling like an intro panel to me, not Class 101, but Intro to Class 101. Then again, that's undoubtedly necessary, and we had a large audience, so I hope we laid a good groundwork for future discussions, even if all we did was to do it so wrong that others want to correct us.

Everyone contributed well, and no one seemed defensive, so that was pure win. I was glad to have everyone up there, but I was especially happy that Kari Sperring was there; she brought an informed British perspective that was especially helpful, for me, at least.

Things I wish I'd mentioned:

1. Martin Luther King's quote about talking about poverty rather than race because there are twice as many poor whites as poor blacks (which is still true today).

2. The L-curve of US income.

Things I wish we'd gotten to:

1. Fiction! It was all intro material and author backgrounds. Or it seemed that way to me. I wanted to get into what we take for granted and what we could use more skillfully.

2. Fear of the working class in our genre. That's obvious with Morlocks. Is it implied with Frankenstein's monster? How often are rednecks used as "the other"?

3. Who are the working class heroes? Is Sam Gamgee a class traitor? If Conan's a prole and Elric's a king, where do Fafhrd and the Mouser fit?

4. Contemporary fantasy is a rejection of the imaginary setting of pseudo-medieval fantasy, but is it also a rejection of rigid class systems?

Well. Back to the convention now.

Monday, October 24, 2011

George Carlin on political correctness and censorship

"Political correctness is America's newest form of intolerance, and it's especially pernicious because it comes disguised as tolerance. It presents itself as fairness, yet attempts to restrict and control people's language with strict codes and rigid rules. I'm not sure that's the way to fight discrimination. I'm not sure silencing people or forcing them to alter their speech is the best method for solving problems that go much deeper than speech." —George Carlin

'Thomas the Tank Engine' controversy

'Thomas the Tank Engine' Controversy Is Out of Control! | The Stir: "In an effort to make Thomas the Tank Engine more innocuous (yeah, 'cause it's really a hotbed of controversy now), the producers of the series removed the word Christmas from the episode "Keeping Up With James," replacing it with the festive catch-all term "winter holidays."" Note: the books were written by a clergyman.

on the list of things that racists, I mean, antiracists, do that annoy me

Fail to understand that while it is impossible to join a race, history is full of examples of people joining a tribe. (The first examples that occur to me are Terence the playwright and Simon Girty the frontiersman, but that says more about my reading than anything else.)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

racial democracy vs. social democracy

I just reread Adolph Reed's essay on the limits of anti-racism, and this struck me:
...what the political scientist Preston Smith calls “racial democracy” came gradually to replace social democracy as a political goal—the redress of grievances that could be construed as specifically racial took precedence over the redistribution of wealth, and an individualized psychology replaced notions of reworking the material sphere. This dynamic intensified with the combination of popular demobilization in black politics and emergence of the post-segregation black political class in the 1970s and 1980s.

We live under a regime now that is capable simultaneously of including black people and Latinos, even celebrating that inclusion as a fulfillment of democracy, while excluding poor people without a whimper of opposition. Of course, those most visible in the excluded class are disproportionately black and Latino, and that fact gives the lie to the celebration. Or does it really? From the standpoint of a neoliberal ideal of equality, in which classification by race, gender, sexual orientation or any other recognized ascriptive status (that is, status based on what one allegedly is rather than what one does) does not impose explicit, intrinsic or necessary limitations on one’s participation and aspirations in the society, this celebration of inclusion of blacks, Latinos and others is warranted.
Googling for more about Smith and racial democracy, I found this, from '“The House I Line In”: Race, Class, and African American Suburban Dreams in the Postwar United States' by Andrew Wiese:
By emphasizing their rights as citizens and their membership in a particular socioeconomic class, middle-class black suburbanites articulated a vision of racial identity that largely ignored or evaded class inequalities. Political scientist Preston Smith points out that most approached the problem of race with a class bias, defending a brand of “racial democracy” in which “affluent blacks should have access to the same housing as affluent whites. Likewise working-class and poor blacks would have the same quality of housing as working-class and poor whites.” Hence, open-housing advocates such as Carl Fuqua, the executive secretary of the Chicago NAACP, could argue that “the goal is to let a man live where he wants to live, if he can assume the proper responsibilities.” In Smith’s view, “embracing racial democracy meant black civic elites accepted class privileges and the distribution of social goods according to conventional political economy.”
On the list of reasons I love Occupy Wall Street: It's about social democracy. That troubles some people who are used to thinking in terms of racial democracy. It should.

a Racefail 09 flare-up

The World Fantasy Convention program arrived Thursday night. I was surprised to find I wasn't scheduled for anything, even though I was nominated for a World Fantasy Award a few years ago and the con is using my idea and description for the class panel—usually if you propose a panel, you're on it.

I shrugged and assumed it just meant my hard work at becoming a has-been is finally paying off.

But yesterday, someone I trust gave me the backstory: They had enough volunteers for the class panel, so they wanted to put me on the Islam panel, which would seem to make sense. Emma and I were the editors of the Liavek anthologies, which were set in a faux Arabian Nights Middle East because we were tired of stories set in a faux Medieval Europe, and I've been pushing Reza Aslan's No God But God at Islamophobes ever since it was published, and when Elizabeth Moon wrote her post about American Muslims, I was one of the first to criticize her.

But someone blackballed me, claiming Racefail 09 had made me too controversial. (The quick take on that flamewar: while some people insist on talking about race as though class is irrelevant, I agree with Rev. Thandeka, who said "We must not forget that white racism was from the start a vehicle for classism," and Adolph Reed Jr., who said, "I remain curious why the “debate” over antiracism as a politics takes such indirect and evasive forms—like the analogizing and guilt by association, moralistic bombast in lieu of concrete argument—and why it persists in establishing, even often while denying the move, the terms of debate as race vs. class. I’m increasingly convinced that a likely reason is that the race line is itself a class line, one that is entirely consistent with the neoliberal redefinition of equality and democracy.")

After I was blackballed from the Islam panel, my supporters tried to add me to the class panel that I had proposed. But again, I was blackballed. (I suspect the only reason the class panel itself wasn't cancelled was because other people had volunteered for it. One reason I love Occupy Wall Street is it's made a lot of people talk about America's last taboo.)

Armed with what had happened, I emailed friends involved with WFC. They turned the situation around: I will be on the Role of Class in Fantasy and Horror—It's a better fit for me than the Islam panel, which I hope to attend and learn from.

I don't know who tried to blackball me. My source didn't want to name the guilty, and I respect that. It's enough for me to know that this time, the anonymous cowards lost.

One thing I want to stress: no one should blame anyone involved in the running of WFC. They were put in an extremely awkward position, but it's been resolved as well as it could be, and I'm grateful to them

See also: racial democracy vs. social democracy

Katt Williams Pimp Chronicles Pt. 1: Haters

Katt Williams Pimp Chronicles Pt. 1: Haters - YouTube

Friday, October 21, 2011

poem of the day: "Stanzas on Freedom" by James Russell Lowell

Men! whose boast it is that ye
Come of fathers brave and free,
If there breathe on earth a slave,
Are ye truly free and brave?
If ye do not feel the chain,
When it works a brother’s pain,
Are ye not base slaves indeed,
Slaves unworthy to be freed?

Women! who shall one day bear,
Sons to breathe New England air,
If ye hear, without a blush,
Deeds to make the roused blood rush
Like red lava through your veins,
For your sisters now in chains—
Answer! are ye fit to be
Mothers of the brave and free?

Is true Freedom but to break
Fetters for our own dear sake,
And, with leathem hearts, forget
That we owe mankind a debt?
No! true Freedom is to share
All the chains our brothers wear,
And, with heart and hand, to be
Earnest to make others free!

They are slaves who fear to speak
For the fallen and the weak;
They are slaves who will not choose
Hatred, scoffing, and abuse,
Rather than in silence shrink
From the truth they needs must think;
They are slaves who dare not be
In the right with two or three.

they're doing a class panel at World Fantasy Con!

Emma and I don't go to many science fiction and fantasy conventions anymore, but when we do, I suggest panels about class. I think the best was the last one, at Armadillocon, and the worst was at 4th Street Fantasy (because we blithely assumed it would be easy).

Now World Fantasy Con is doing one I proposed, and I feel that's a major victory for two reasons:

1. In terms of influence in the field, WFC is huge, arguably more important than World Con.

2. I'm not on the panel. If it works, it'll be because of the subject, not me. (But I will be in the audience to ask a helpful question, if I can.)

It's happening Thursday at 8pm:
Pacific 2/3: The Role of Class in Fantasy and Horror

Science fiction often deals with class conflict. How does fantasy and horror pursue the same concepts? Are vampires and elves the bourgeoisie? Are werewolves and orcs the working class? Who are the working class heroes of our genre?
John Hornor Jacobs, Jeff Mariotte (M), Kirstyn McDermott, Kari Sperring, Kathryn Sullivan
Y'know, it's a victory for three reasons:

3. World Fantasy's an expensive con, by f&sf standards. I'd bet it's got a higher percentage of folks in the top 1% than World Con.

ETA: My short post about "Class Issues in Science Fiction and Fantasy" at Armadillocon.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

about human progress

Nothing's tidy, no one's pure, and no one gets 100% of what they want. But flawed folks can still fumble toward a better world. I think that's the only way we progress.


(I said that in a comment on G+, and it got a few pluses, so I hope it's worth noting here.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Will every US party run a black guy next year?

Cain is ahead in the Republican polls, Obama's running again, and the Socialist Party USA has nominated Stewart Alexander. So if the Greens and the Libertarians will get on the band wagon, 2012 could be awesome.

Hmm. Then Asian women in 2016? I'd love to vote for Margaret Cho.

are any failfans talking about Occupy Wall Street?

I took a look at a couple of the usual suspects, then got bored. So far as I can tell, the folks who get all upset about "racefail" have no interest in Occupy Wall Street because it doesn't fit their understanding of the nature of power in the US.

I bring this up 'cause I did a search for "racefail" recently and found this:

thewayoftheid: I dunno, reading about all the #racefail going on in #ows protests makes me less sympathetic to the cause. *shrug*

Are these folks all part of the 1%? I can't believe that's possible. But then, given the number of grads from expensive private schools who took part in Racefail 09, it's no surprise if that's where their sympathy lies.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How Friends Ruin Memory: The Social Conformity Effect | Wired Science | Wired.com

How Friends Ruin Memory: The Social Conformity Effect | Wired Science | Wired.com: "Consider an investigation of flashbulb memories from September 11, 2001. A few days after the tragic attacks, a team of psychologists led by William Hirst and Elizabeth Phelps began interviewing people about their personal experiences. In the years since, the researchers have tracked the steady decay of these personal stories. They’ve shown, for instance, that subjects have dramatically changed their recollection of how they first learned about the attacks. After one year, 37 percent of the details in their original story had changed. By 2004, that number was approaching 50 percent."

quote: Campbell

"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek." —Joseph Campbell

Monday, October 17, 2011

quote: King

“Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all of God’s children.” —Martin Luther King

Saturday, October 15, 2011

quote: Marx

"There must be something rotten in the very core of a social system which increases its wealth without diminishing its misery." —Karl Marx

(Quoted in Love and Capital, which I'm now reading)

if you think capitalism is fair because some people make it into the 1%

Some people win at casinos, but still, the house always wins.

Fact from Social mobility and inequality: Upper bound | The Economist: "Parental income is a better predictor of a child’s future in America than in much of Europe, implying that social mobility is less powerful." Yes, there's greater class mobility among more socialist countries than among more capitalist ones.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

for anti-racists who make racist comments about Herman Cain

On Google+, F.S.J. Ledgister shared Herman Cain: 'Racism In This Country Today' Doesn't Hold 'Anybody Back In A Big Way' with the comment: "Herman is full of something brown and malodorous." Other identitarians are jumping up and down about how Cain is deluded or lying because, in their minds, only racists would claim something like that.I left this comment for Ledgister:
Mind you, I despise Cain's politics, but I also despise the weird racist slurs that self-styled anti-racists cast on blacks who don't buy into their race-over-all ideology. Here's something from 2007:

"A 53% majority of African Americans say that blacks who don’t get ahead are mainly responsible for their situation, while just three-in-ten say discrimination is mainly to blame. As recently as the mid-1990s, black opinion on this question tilted in the opposite direction, with a majority of African Americans saying then that discrimination is the main reason for a lack of black progress."

That's from a Pew survey that found the class divide among black folks is so extreme that 37% of American blacks say they're no longer a single race.
So, really, if you're dissing Cain for his comment about racism in the US, you're also dissing at least 70% of black folks in the USA who believe the same thing. But if you want to dis Cain for saying things like "if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself!” I'm 100% with you.

ETA: Ledgister also shared Racism Without Racists? - Thomas Chatterton Williams - National - The Atlantic, which I highly recommend. I'd forgotten that Oprah thought she was a victim of racism because a store wouldn't open up for her when she arrived fifteen minutes after closing time.

quote: Mary Shelley

“It is justice, not charity, that is wanting in the world.” — Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

quote: Einstein

“Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society.”

– Albert Einstein, “Why Socialism?” 1949

Monday, October 10, 2011

quotes of the day: Martin Luther and Voltaire

"Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?" —Martin Luther

"The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor." —Voltaire

Did Steve Jobs give to charity? or Ayn Rand and the paucity of philanthropy

No one knows if Jobs was a philanthropist. But Wozniak said of him, "I think Atlas Shrugged was one of his guides in life."

Ayn Rand thought little of charity: "My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue."

The Ayn Rand Center strongly disapproves of people promoting philanthropy. See Facebook founder’s philanthropy pledge angers Ayn Rand Center.

So I'm left with two thoughts:

1. We don't know whether Jobs indulged in philanthropy.

2. Even if he did, I agree with these folks:

"Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary." —Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Millionaires at one end of the scale involved paupers at the other end, and even so excellent a man as Mr. Carnegie is too dear at that price." — Hugh Price Hughes

“First they take billions from you, then they give back half. And that makes them the world’s greatest humanitarians.” —Slavoj Zizek

Philanthropy is the money that the rich spend on public relations. So ultimately, I don't care whether Jobs gave to charity. I want a world in which concern for ordinary people means no one has to hope people like Steve Jobs will share a little of the world's wealth.

Also of interest: Looking the Carnegie Gift Horse in the Mouth

Sunday, October 9, 2011

poem of the day: West London by Matthew Arnold

West London

Crouch'd on the pavement close by Belgrave Square
A tramp I saw, ill, moody, and tongue-tied;
A babe was in her arms, and at her side
A girl; their clothes were rags, their feet were bare.
Some labouring men, whose work lay somewhere there,
Pass'd opposite; she touch'd her girl, who hied
Across, and begg'd and came back satisfied.
The rich she had let pass with frozen stare.
Thought I: Above her state this spirit towers;
She will not ask of aliens, but of friends,
Of sharers in a common human fate.
She turns from that cold succour, which attends
The unknown little from the unknowing great,
And points us to a better time than ours.

—Matthew Arnold

Thursday, October 6, 2011

black reds: Claudia Jones, buried to the left of Karl Marx in Highgate

Claudia Jones: "Claudia Cumberbatch Jones (15 February 1915—24 December 1964) was a black nationalist, political activist, journalist and Communist in the United States. She served as secretary for the Women's Commission of the CPUSA and was tried alongside its president, her friend Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, and 11 other communist leaders.

Her most famous quote:
The bourgeoisie is fearful of the militancy of the Negro woman, and for good reason. The capitalists know, far better than many progressives seem to know, that once Negro women begin to take action, the militancy of the whole Negro people, and thus of the anti-imperialist coalition, is greatly enhanced...
As mother, as Negro, and as worker, the Negro woman fights against the wiping out of the Negro family, against the Jim Crow ghetto existence which destroys the health, morale, and very life of millions of her sisters, brothers, and children.
Viewed in this light, it is not accidental that the American bourgeoisie has intensified its oppression, not only of the Negro people in general, but of Negro women in particular. Nothing so exposes the drive to fascization in the nation as the callous attitude which the bourgeoisie displays and cultivates toward Negro women.[5]—Claudia Jones, An End to the Neglect of the Problems of the Negro Woman!

Through the eyes of a benefits adviser: a plea for a basic income

Through the eyes of a benefits adviser: a plea for a basic income | openDemocracy: "Can we, please – even at this last moment, on the cusp of Universal Benefit – consider once more a universal basic income? Non-means-tested, unconditional, financed through taxation, supplemented by conditional benefits; above all, asserting and supporting the essential dignity and worth of every person?"

99 Facts about the Top 1%

Note: After each group of facts is a link to their source.

1. The Top 1 Percent of Americans owns 40 percent of the nation’s wealth.

2. The Top 1 Percent of Americans take home 24 percent of national income.

3. The Top 1 Percent of Americans own half of the country’s stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.

4. The Top 1 Percent of Americans have only 5 percent of the nation’s personal debt.

5. The Top 1 Percent are taking in more of the nation’s income than at any other time since the 1920s.

6. The Top 1 Percent of Americans have an average income of $1.5 million.

via http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/10/03/334156/top-five-wealthiest-one-percent/

7. 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined.

via http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2011/mar/10/michael-moore/michael-moore-says-400-americans-have-more-wealth-/

8. The top 1 percent incomes captured half of the overall economic growth over the period 1993-2007.

via http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/14/income-inequality-is-at-a_n_259516.html

9. Lowering tax rates on capital gains, which is how the rich receive a large portion of their income, has given the wealthiest Americans close to a free ride.

10. Virtually all U.S. senators, and most of the representatives in the House, are members of the top 1 percent when they arrive, are kept in office by money from the top 1 percent, and know that if they serve the top 1 percent well they will be rewarded by the top 1 percent when they leave office.

11. By and large, the key executive-branch policymakers on trade and economic policy also come from the top 1 percent.

12. The top 1 percent rarely serve in the military—the reality is that the “all-volunteer” army does not pay enough to attract their sons and daughters, and patriotism goes only so far. Plus, the wealthiest class feels no pinch from higher taxes when the nation goes to war: borrowed money will pay for all that.

via http://www.vanityfair.com/society/features/2011/05/top-one-percent-201105

13. The US tax code is designed to benefit the rich. ”The richest 20% of families — those who make more than $115,000 a year — capture 71% of the benefits from the housing subsidies, as well as 80% of the benefits of retirement-savings deductions, according to the Tax Policy Center. Much of benefit accrues to the top 1% or top 0.1%.””

via http://www.marketwatch.com/story/we-should-slash-welfare-for-the-wealthy-2011-03-09

14. The top 1 percent of households in the United States received 8.9 percent of all pre-tax income in 1976. In 2008, the top 1 percent share had more than doubled to 21.0 percent.

15. In 2009, CEOs of major U.S. corporations averaged 263 times the average compensation of American workers.

16. The total inflation-adjusted net worth of America’s 400 richest individuals rose from $507 billion in 1995 to $1.37 trillion in 2010.

17. The top 1 percent of U.S. households owned 35.6 percent of the nation’s private wealth in 2009—more than the combined wealth of the bottom 90 percent.

18. The top 1 percent own 38.2 percent of all stock market wealth.

19. In 2000, the richest 1 percent of the world’s adult population, individuals worth at least $514,512, owned 39.9 percent of the world’s household wealth, a total greater than the wealth of the world’s poorest 95 percent, those adults worth under $150,145 who hold, together, just 29.4 percent of the world’s wealth.

20. The richest 0.5 percent of global adults hold well over a third of the world’s wealth.

21. The world’s 1,210 current billionaires, Forbes reported in March 2011, hold a combined wealth that equals over half the total wealth of the 3.01 billion adults around the world who, according to Credit Suisse, hold under $10,000 in net worth.

via http://inequality.org/inequality-data-statistics/

22. 1,400 millionaires paid no income taxes in 2009.

23. Due to a variety of breaks and loopholes, many U.S. corporations don't pay the top marginal rate. Over one-fourth of the U.S. corporations comprising the S&P 500 paid a corporate tax rate below 20 percent over the last half-decade

via http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/29/warren-buffett-taxes-berkshire-hathaway_n_941099.html

24. Some investment managers earn billions from their daily labors but are allowed to classify their income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate.

25. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

26. The federal tax bill of Warren Buffett, the second-richest person in the world and third-richest in the US, was only 17.4 percent of his taxable income — and a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in his office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

27. The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot.

28. In 1992, the 400 Americans reporting the largest income paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent. In 2008, the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent.

29. 88 of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income in 2008 reported no wages at all, though every one of them reported capital gains.

30. 8,274 households made $10 million or more in 2009.

via http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/opinion/stop-coddling-the-super-rich.html

31.  Advertising Age has declared that "mass affluence is over." Nearly half of consumer spending today is done by the richest 10 percent of households, and the richest of these richies are deemed to be the most desirable of consumers.

via http://www2.journalnow.com/news/opinion/2011/sep/03/wsopin02-jim-hightower-column-mass-marketing-goes--ar-1355255/

32. In the 1960s, women were nearly half of America’s richest 0.01 percent. Their share has dropped to one third. The prime reason? With the explosion of pay at the top of the corporate ladder, executives can now “work” their way into the ranks of America’s richest. In the process, points out the Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality, “the older road of direct inheritance has accordingly been superseded.” Adds the Center: “Until women crack the uppermost echelons of the labor market, we can therefore expect gender inequality in wealth to persist.”

via http://toomuchonline.org/weeklies2009/july0609.html

33. SAT testing favors the rich: Bob Schaeffer, the public education director for Fairtest, says that "the SAT is a pretty accurate gauge of accumulated advantage." He points out that richer kids, assuming their parents were rich all along, have advantages from before birth, starting with better prenatal care right up through school, where they get better teachers and up-to-date textbooks and, finally, "when they are ready to take the SAT, their parents can buy them 100+ points on the test by spending $1,000 or more for test coaching."

via http://www.forbes.com/2009/07/03/rich-sat-income-inequality-opinions-columnists-middle-class.html

34. For the rich, most income does not come from "working": in 2008, only 19% of the income reported by the 13,480 individuals or families making over $10 million came from wages and salaries.

35. The lower half of the top 1% has far less than those in the top half; in fact, both wealth and income are super-concentrated in the top 0.1%, which is one in a thousand.

36. Average Americans have been hit much harder by the Great Recession than wealthy Americans. Edward Wolff, the economist, concludes that there has been an "astounding" 36.1% drop in the wealth (marketable assets) of the median household since the peak of the housing bubble in 2007. By contrast, the wealth of the top 1% of households dropped by just 11.1%. So as of April 2010, it looks like the wealth distribution is even more unequal than it was in 2007.

37. The top 1% of income earners actually pay a smaller percentage of their incomes to taxes than the 9% just below them.

38. As of 2007, the top 1% of households owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned 85%.

39. The top one percent of households have 38.3% of all privately held stock.

40. The top one percent of households have 60.6% of all financial securities.

41. The top one percent of households have 62.4% of all business equity.

42. Only 1.6% of Americans receive $100,000 or more in inheritance. 91.9% receive nothing.

43. The attempt by ultra-conservatives to eliminate inheritance taxes -- which they call "death taxes" for P.R. reasons -- would take a huge bite out of government revenues (an estimated $1 trillion between 2012 and 2022) for the benefit of the heirs of the mere 0.6% of Americans whose death would lead to the payment of any estate taxes whatsoever.

44. 18 super-rich families (mostly Republican financial donors, but a few who support Democrats) provide activists with most of the money for the effort to eliminate inheritance taxes.

44. The rich have another way to avoid inheritance taxes forever. After Congress passed a reform in 1986 making it impossible for a "trust" to skip a generation before paying inheritance taxes, bankers convinced legislatures in many states to eliminate their "rules against perpetuities," which means that trust funds set up in those states can exist in perpetuity, thereby allowing the trust funds to own new businesses, houses, and much else for descendants of rich people, and even to allow the beneficiaries to avoid payments to creditors when in personal debt or sued for causing accidents and injuries. About $100 billion in trust funds has flowed into those states so far.

45. Of all the new financial wealth created by the American economy between 1983 and 2004, fully 42% of it went to the top 1%. The bottom 80% received only 6% of all the new financial wealth.

46. The only industrialized democracy with a higher concentration of wealth in the top 10% than the United States is Switzerland.
47. Details on those who earn millions of dollars each year are very hard to come by, because they can stash a large part of their wealth in off-shore tax havens in the Caribbean and little countries in Europe, starting with Switzerland. And there are many loopholes and gimmicks they can use.

48. 20% of the tax deductions taken for dependent children actually go to people earning over $100,000 a year.

49. The ratio of CEO pay to factory worker pay rose from 42:1 in 1960 to as high as 531:1 in 2000, at the height of the stock market bubble, when CEOs were cashing in big stock options. It was at 411:1 in 2005 and 344:1 in 2007. The same ratio is about 25:1 in Europe.

50. From 1990 to 2005, CEOs' pay increased almost 300% (adjusted for inflation), while production workers gained a scant 4.3%.

51. The median compensation for CEO's in all industries as of early 2010 is $3.9 million; it's $10.6 million for the companies listed in Standard and Poor's 500, and $19.8 million for the companies listed in the Dow-Jones Industrial Average. Since the median worker's pay is about $36,000, then you can quickly calculate that CEOs in general make 100 times as much as the workers, that CEO's of S&P 500 firms make almost 300 times as much, and that CEOs at the Dow-Jones companies make 550 times as much.

52. The claim that CEOs deserve ever higher salaries because they "create wealth," is a "joke" according to retired CEO of DuPont, Edgar S. Woolard, Jr.

via http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

53. There are 1,210 billionaires in the world.

54. The wealthiest person in the world: Mexico’s Carlos Slim Helu and family are worth $74 billion dollars.

55. Nigeria's Aliko Dangote with a net worth of $13.8 billion is the richest Black person in the world.

56. The other Black billionaires on the 2011 list are South African gold magnate Patrice Motsepe with $3.3 billion, American Oprah Winfrey at $2.7 billion and Nigeria's Mike Adenuga with $2 billion.

via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_billionaires

57. Bill Gates, the richest American and second richest person, is worth 56 billion.

58. Warren Buffett, the second-richest American and third richest person (worth 50 billion) said, “There’s class warfare, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

59. The top 10 billionaires are from Mexico, the USA, France, India, Spain, Brazil, and Yemen.

60. Christy Walton, worth 26.5 billion, is the richest woman in the world, the tenth richest person in the world, and the fourth richest American.

via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forbes_list_of_billionaires

61. The ten richest Americans include four Waltons, Christy, Jim, Alice, and S. Robert. Together, they’re worth 83.2 billion dollars.

via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_members_of_the_Forbes_400_(2010)

62. In a study of members of the Forbes 400 "richest" list, the world's wealthiest individuals rated their satisfaction at exactly the same level as did the Inuit people of northern Greenland and the Masai of Kenya, who have no electricity or running water.

via http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/StockInvestingTrading/HowMuchMoneyIsEnough.aspx

63. The richest Republican member of Congress is Rep. Michael McCaul, R-TX, worth $294.21 million.

64. The richest Democrat member of Congress is Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), worth $193 million.

via http://www.upi.com/News_Photos/News/Richest-members-of-Congress/5703/?spt=rcc&or=tn

65. The average 2008 income for the bottom 90 percent of America’s households, after adjusting for inflation, amounted to about $900 less the bottom 90 percent average income in 1979. The average income for the top 1 percent ended 2008 “over $700,000 above its 1979 level.”

via http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3309&emailView=1

66. The world’s richest 1 percent, adults with at least $588,000 to call their own, hold 43 percent of the world’s wealth

via http://inequality.org/

67. The rich donate less than the poor: The poorest fifth of America's households contributed an average of 4.3 percent of their incomes to charitable organizations in 2007. The richest fifth gave at less than half that rate, 2.1 percent.

via http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2009/05/19/68456/americas-poor-are-its-most-generous.html

68. America’s top 400 held a combined $1.53 trillion in personal wealth, a total 12 percent up from last year.

via http://inequality.org/forbes-400-15-trillion/

69. 38 members of the Forbes 400 reside in Manhattan.

70. Warren Buffett--with a net worth of $36 billion--lives in the same home in Omaha, Nebr., that he bought in 1958 for $31,500. He also keeps a second home in Laguna Beach, Calif., which is said to be worth $4 million.

71. Bill Gates' Medina, Wash., home is one of the largest privately-owned single-family homes in the country, encompassing more than 66,000 square feet. The estate consumed 4.7 million gallons of water in 2000, according to The Seattle Times, and includes such lavish features as the latest technology, millions of dollars worth of art, and a 1,500-square-foot, 20-seat Art Deco theater.

72. Oprah Winfrey paid $50 million for a Montecito (Southern California) home that wasn't even for sale.

73. Steven Spielberg's summer home in the Hamptons is estimated to be worth $25 million.

via http://www.forbes.com/2003/09/18/cx_bs_0918home400.html

74. Mumbai has the 27-story skyscraper home of energy tycoon Mukesh Ambani. At $1 billion it is the world's most expensive home.

via http://www.forbes.com/2011/05/17/cities-with-most-billionaires.html

75. Moscow is the city with the most billionaire residents in the world.

The Russian capital boasts 79 billionaires. The combined fortunes of Moscow's billionaire population top $375 billion.

76. No. 2 is New York with 59 billionaires. Their collective net worth is $221 billion.

77. No. 3 is London with 41. Total combined wealth: $164.3 billion.

78. No. 4 is Hong Kong. Number of Billionaires: 40. Total combined wealth: $176.8 billion.

79. No. 5 is Istanbul. Number of Billionaires: 36. Total combined wealth: $60.5 billion.

via http://realestate.yahoo.com/promo/cities-with-the-most-billionaires-2011.html

80. The USA has the most billionaires: 412.

81. Second in number, China: 115 billionaires.

82. Third, Russia: 101 billionaires.

83. Fourth, India: 55 billionaires.

84. Fifth, Germany: 52 billionaires.

85. Sixth, Turkey: 38 billionaires.

86. Seventh, Hong Kong: 36 billionaires.

87. Eighth, United Kingdom: 33 billionaires.

88. Ninth, Brazil: 30 billionaires.

89. Tenth, Japan: 26 billionaires.

90. Africa has 14 billionaires.

91. Asia has 258 billionaires.

92. Europe has 266 billionaires.

93. North America has 436 billionaires.

94. Australia and New Zealand together have 14 billionaires.

95. Latin America has 51 billionaires.

via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_the_number_of_US_dollar_billionaires

96. The combined wealth of the 400 richest Americans has gone up by 8 percent in past year.

97. California is the US state with the most billionaires: 94.

98. The average billionaire is an old white man—but there are exceptions
Gawker has done a demographic analysis of the list and found 10 Asian-Americans in the top 400, with four tracing their roots back to India; three openly gay billionaires; 34 women (Wal-Mart heiress Christy Walton is No. 4, with $24 billion); and 30 Jews in the top 100 (Bloomberg being the wealthiest).

99. The youngest billionaire is Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz (No. 290), who "was born eight days after his former business partner."


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

quote of the day: Dante

"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis." — Dante Alighieri

Being Offended

Being Offended - YouTube:

if you're interested in Malcolm X or Manning Marable's book about him

Tony Bouza 's Manning Marable's 'Malcolm X' is worth a read. I've known Bouza by reputation since he was the police chief of Minneapolis. He always impressed me as an honorable man; I'm not surprised that he admired Malcolm X and went to his funeral. While I'm sure there were plenty of cops who were glad to see Malcolm X die, I'm also sure there were others like Bouza. His take on the death of Malcolm X may not be accurate, but I'm sure it's honest and I find it convincing.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

quote of the day: Goethe

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

socialist bible verses: Luke 19:1-9


 1And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.
 2And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.
 3And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.
 4And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.
 5And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.
 6And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.
 7And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.
 8And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
 9And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.
—Luke 19:1-9 (KJV)


Brother Will says: Elsewhere, Jesus said if you want to be perfect, go full commie and share all you have (Luke 18:22). But here he says you can settle for being half perfect and just go socialist: if you're rich, give half of what you've got.

P.S. Obama's current suggested tax rate for the richest 1% is a lot less than Jesus's.

Monday, October 3, 2011

comments are back on!

Just noticed that commenting was hidden. I'm not sure how that happened. Fixed it, so anyone's now free to tell me what a maroon I am.

Follow the Drinking Gourd

Follow the Drinking Gourd.mpg - YouTube:

Dear Jewish and Christian Zionists

Someone on Google+ shared an astonishingly dishonest history of Palestine that ripped off the lecture and cartoon style of RSA Animate. So I went looking for something better and found this:



You can't do a complete history of anything in ten minutes, but this has the virtue of being a combination of actual footage and quotes from respected historians. I love the RSA Animate approach, but until I saw the rip-off, I hadn't realized how deceptive a competent lecturer and cartoonist could be.

Anonymous: A message to the powerful - Operation basic income guarantee

Anonymous: A message to the powerful - Operation basic income guarantee - YouTube

Sunday, October 2, 2011

on interactive art

I'm suspicious of most arguments for interactive art. With presented art, you get Shakespeare. With interactive art, you get Bowdler.

PS. I'm not knocking collaborative art when I say that. I love collaborative arts. But interactive art tends to mean someone else does the hard part, and then the audience gets to play.

(From a comment I made on Google+ to eric orchard)

notion of the day

We don't need a war on poverty. We need a war on greed.

The Reign of NYC's One Percenters

The Reign of the One Percenters: "the One Percenters consist of just 34,000 households, about 90,000 people. Relative to the great mass of New Yorkers—9 million of us—they’re nobody. We could snow them under in a New York minute."

China Mieville's Scrap Iron Man

Scrap Iron Man

May elves and sprites bring you good fortune on Hallowe'en!


via The Town Scryer: Return of the Son of Ephemera and Oddities

Low Vitamin B12 Tied to Brain Atrophy, Cognitive Impairment

Low Vitamin B12 Tied to Brain Atrophy, Cognitive Impairment: "A new study provides more evidence that poor vitamin B12 status is a risk factor for brain atrophy and cognitive impairment, and highlights the importance of vitamin B12 metabolites that are not routinely assessed."