Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Inequality For All

I watched this documentary, Inequality For All,  the other night.  I like to pepper my movie watching with a few documentaries here and there to try and stay informed.  This recent documentary addresses the current economic divide between the top 1% wealth holders of the country and the middle class.  I thought it might get a bit tedious and be a bit boring, but I was wrong on both accounts.  It's very accessible and interesting overall.

It is hosted by Robert Reich, who was President Clinton's former Labor Secretary.  He eventually resigned from that job, to spend  more time with his family.  He currently teaching at UC Berkeley, and from the small clips taken from some of his lectures at Berkeley, he would be one of those professors that you would admire and involve you to set goals and do more with your life. 

It begins with a bit of history on where Reich came from and where he grew up, and what he's currently doing.  Then it goes eventually into how the middle class is stagnating.  I also will admit that it's fairly nonpartisan, so no matter which side of politics you favor, I think the film is handled pretty evenhandedly.  I will say that although I'm not an economist, though I took a course in college (that I hated), however,  my views on how some of this inequality came about have been confirmed.  Still I learned quite a bit from it.

It explains how it appears the economy and stock market is doing well and is robust, yet it's hard for the middle class to stay ahead in this modern world.  Back in the 1950's just coming out of WWII it was a different world.  Reich says the decades  the war  the 50's 60's, and 70's were unparalleled as a good time for our economy.  The middle class was large and had  money to spend.  Most young adults could afford college, now college tuition has skyrocketed.  In the 50's and 60's the man of the house as a general rule went to work and the women stayed home and raised the kids.  Sometime in the late 60's eventually women entered the work force as well.  In the late 70's things started to slide there had to be two wage earners just keep paying their bills or one large wage earner or maybe a part time wage earner.   Our wages has stagnated over this period of time as well.  So how did it get to this point?  Check out the movie, and remain open minded.  

One of the things that ran through my mind as I watched the film was how I got my political view points?   Sure I'm aware of nature and nurture, and I realize how big an influence our parents have on our outlook on life along with the generation we're brought up in, our environment and so forth.  My parents I think were pretty middle of the road.  I think they pretty much voted for President Eisenhower coming out of WWII, and I can see why they might have done that.  For myself, I do think the Vietnam years and the late 60's influenced a lot of my outlook on life, but not just that alone.  Another thing I wonder about is where and how other people go to get informed of their views and their political views.  Let's face it, most news is biased and slanted to either the right or left.  So I tried doing a search on which news source is less biased.  The best I could come up with is PBS and NPR.  My guess is that it isn't corporate sponsored so they can be more even handed. 

Plus I'm always shocked by what some people believe, and it's hard to figure out at times whether they are just playing devil's advocate, or just being controversial or a gadfly, but let's face it, some are just out and out dumb, easily fooled, brainwashed, etc.  There's no other explanation to be had. 

I had a friend that me and my brother grew up with, and used to communicate with.  He was the youngest kid  in that family, so a bit spoiled.  He grew up with that mindset as well.  Well, he moved on and is living around Austin, Tx. now.  But anyway, he was sending me all these emails and they got stranger and stranger as they went on.  He used to be a big President Bush supporter, then sort of supported Romney (sort of), but jumped ship on that and was supporting Ron Paul.  I wondered why he'd jumped to extremes, but something was up.  I might add, he ended all credibility with me when he became a part of the  "Birther movement"--one that does not think Obama was born in the U.S. and doubts his origins. 

At any rate, his politics got weirder and weirder.  He started listening this Alex Jones conspiracy wacko stuff, and the Bilderberg Group conspiracy nonsense and the infowar and prisonplanet.com craziness.  I hate to give these nut jobs a name drop as I think they are such looney tunes.  Alex Jones has a radio show around the Austin, Tx area, so I don't know if he became aware of it from a friend or tuned in one night or whatever, but he got brainwashed pretty quickly. 

 At any rate, he would copy and paste all this wacko stuff from their web site and send it to me, and I'd dispute it.  Now this is coming from someone that went to Baylor University, and majored in computer science, yet believes in this crazy horseshit!!  I couldn't believe it, and no matter how much common sense  I'd try to argue his points, he'd still come back with more conspiracy theory.  He'd never address my questions or arguments, just throw on more conspiracy.  I don't know if he was serious, or had ulterior motives, as I knew him to be pretty good at manipulation, but either way it sort of blew both me and my brother's minds as we grew up with the guy. 

Before it was all over he was blaming President Bush for 9-11, and saying the government was building caskets and graves for everyone in the U. S., and you better start saving gold, ammo, and guns, as "It's coming."   So after a while of this nonsense, I had to tell him, I was too busy to keep up, and not interested.  You can't argue with a brick wall.  The thing about it is, he's not the only one.  I've seen on websites and forums where others have spouted off things taken from this web site, and this disillusioned line of  thinking.  I wish I could say I have an answer to it all, but I don't.  I guess the bottom line is remain open minded and optimistic and hope for the best. 


At 2:16 PM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

Michael Shermer, contributor to Scientific American and also to the Skeptical Inquirer has written about how intelligent people are actually more likely to believe weird things -- he was speaking mostly apolitically about the paranormal. The git of his argument is that brighter people are more capable at twisting evidence through convoluted reasoning (See http://www.michaelshermer.com/2002/09/smart-people-believe-weird-things/ .) One can see his point.

At 11:12 PM, Blogger El Vox said...

Thanks for the link, Rich. I'm not sure I buy that theory, but I'll have to look into it further to see why he says that. You'd think less intelligent people would be more suspect, or at least that has been my observation. People do and think the darndest things. Me included ;)

At 7:55 AM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

Sounds like an interesting doc, I might have to check it out.

For news, I usually stick with BBC. They give a nice overview of world events, and proved an interesting outside view of US events as well. They aren't without bias, but most of it is centered around UK events. For the most part it is like reading reports from an interested but detached 3rd party.

My uncle used to say that everyone needs to believe in something. Even if that means fully believing that they don't believe in anything. Most folks center their beliefs on their religion or a political party or if they are nerdy like me, around a specific geek fandom. :) And some folks pick the conspiracies. Not sure what the appeal is there, but it happens.

When I worked at the video store, we had this really, um... interesting guy who would rent from us. He told us he was a freelance software developer and that he'd done some government work and would always tell us, "I know, man, I really know what's going on". He was convinced the government was watching everyone all the time. He would only show up about 5 minutes before we closed and stay for 30 minutes to 45 minutes after we closed (yeah we LOVED this guy). He really detested fantasy and horror films, and only tolerated sci-fi movies that were "realistic", so "Star Wars" was right out.

Anyway, he was such a strange man, obviously very smart, but paranoid about something. He'd tell us some conspiracy theories every once in a while. I remember him really going off on the ATF one day. My coworker who usually ended up closing with me on Fridays and Saturdays when this guy would come in (yeah he'd show up on the two days we actually wanted to go out and do something after work) kept calling him "Mulder X" - as in Mulder to the X power. Every once in a while I wonder what happened to that guy.

At 9:06 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

I've heard the BBC is a good source too Roman, and I listen to some of their broadcast off NPR ever so often. Yeah, it's hard to get a totally unfiltered version of news and events these days. Plus they want to pepper things with nonevents about pop stars or whatever as well, which I can understand to some degree.

I think PBS has a good news hour as well, and on Fridays has sort of a wrap-up look back at the week with Mark Shields & David Brooks (right & left commentary).

Good story on the Mulder X type, he may have had a bit of mental/paranoid thing, but as someone said, we are all a tad crazy. :) Yeah, nothing like a last minute shopper when you're tired and trying to get home. My brother used to work with a guy like that that was always reading these anti-government books by unknown authors, and conspiracy books, and questionable books that were tending towards sort of Ayran brotherhood stuff. He take vacations to compound survivalist stuff too, and once freaked out on a plane for some reason--I don't think it was a gremlin on a wing, probably just missed his meds. :)


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