Freethinking for Dummies

Skepticism, secular humanism, social issues

Redefining “Makers” and “Takers”

There has been much talk from the political right about makers and takers.  Let us take a closer look at these terms.

Here is how the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines these terms:

Makes: 

  • to bring into being by forming, shaping, or altering material : fashion 
  • to lay out and construct
  • to put together from components
  • to assemble to
  • repare, fix

Maker: 

  • one that makes

Takes:  

  • to get into one’s hands or into one’s possession, power, or control
  • to transfer into one’s own keeping
  • to obtain or secure for use
  • to obtain possession

Taker:  

  • one who takes


American workers make things.  Lots of things.  

  • physical things like cars, buildings, roads, clothes, etc.  
  • productive, non-physical things like spreadsheets, reports, financial forecasts, sales, ideas, computer code and applications.
  • intangible services, like customer service, technical support, mechanical repairs, maintenance of equipment, processes, and workflow.


As for the job creators:

  • they take the fruit of the workers.
  • profits from sale or use of the cars, buildings, roads, clothing, etc.
  • profits that are maintained by the rest of the above mentioned services and productivity by American workers.

 

For the American worker, for their hard work, the work of their hands, brains, and ingenuity, they get:

  • one to two weeks vacation a year (often after a year or more with the company)
  • health insurance and a retirement package, if they are lucky enough to be working a full time schedule (many aren’t)
  • five paid sick days a year, if they are lucky enough.  Many get none.
  • unpaid maternity leave (which many can’t afford due to lose of income)
  • twelve weeks of unpaid leave (which many can’t afford due to lose of income)
  • a wage that they may or may not be able support themselves and a family on, if they are lucky (many must work two or more jobs to make ends meet)
  • a safe working environment, assuming their employer is following the law (laws that were put in place because unions fought for them)

 


It is time to correctly define our political terms.  The real makers are the people who make everything that make profits for the real takers: the “job creators”.

The makers are the American workers.

The takers are the owners, CEOs, VPs, stock holders of the companies where the makers work.

It would seem, looking at things in this context that the takers take home much more of the fruits of the labor of the makers than the makers themselves could ever hope to.

We pride ourselves on being a nation that built its self up from nothing to the most powerful nation in the world.  But all of the real work; the hands that produced the materials; built the homes and great works of architecture; did the research that led to amazing technological advances; the men and women who fought and died in our wars, they made everything we see around us.

The American workers are, and always have been, the true makers, while the real takers have lived high on the hog of the fruits of their labors.

     

     

      

 





January 30, 2013 Posted by | Humanism, Social Justice | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Books, Music, and Life in Genral

I’m listening to The Beatles “Abbey Road”. “Here Comes the Sun” right now. If you like The Beatles and you have all their recordings (as I do), listen starting with the “Please Please Me” and go in cronologic order until you reach “Abbey Road”. It will blow your mind. Oh, listen to then on Bose headphones. You’ll get a fanatic aural experience. If you don’t have Bose and you love Music, spend the extra $$$ (About $120. Worth every penny. Try Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” first. Amazing!

No job yet. I’m waiting to hear back from one company in Ohio. I could work remote from home. $80,000, no benefits, so after arranging for my own, I’d be taking home about what was at my last job.

I’ve been out of one of my psyho meds for about a month. At $197 for a month’s supply, it’s a big chunk of my limited finances. I really need them. Without them, I go from cranky to angry outbursts to uncontrollable tears. Now I understand how the poor and unemployed can’t hold down a job.

Nebraska gives virtually nothing to adults for Medicaid. We’d have to rack up $1100 dollars a month before they a penny. With a total monthly income of Barely $200, this would bankrupt us.

I’m lucky, I can go to the VA. My wife on the hand has nothing. Everything is out of pocket.

Ugh.

Hey, the “Abbey Road” CD left of “Her Majesty”. Bastards!

November 26, 2012 Posted by | Music, Social Justice | , | Leave a comment

Atheism+: Doing Good Without God.

It’s been said that getting atheists to agree on something is like herding cats.  I’d say it’s more like trying to herd cats into a tub of water.  Atheists tend to be an inquisitive bunch; an intellectually bunch.  We reject dogma and the authority that goes along with it, hence we are loathed to being told what to do and what to think.  You could say we are fiercely independent (at least I say that we are).  

Given all that, you can see why trying to get a consensus about where to go for breakfast might be hard enough, never mind were we should all stand on a particular social issue.  And that’s the real issue in getting us all to band together for a common cause: we don’t like to be told what we should think or feel.

Still, being openminded and skeptical (yes, they do go hand in hand) we are able to listen to each other and really consider what each one of us has to say.  This attitude tends to lead to civilized debates, respect for each other’s rights to express ideas, and compromise, or at least it should.  I believe that it can and that it does.

The atheist/humanist/secular/(add your own label here) movements have much more in common than they do differences.   Most of us in these movements (and most of us identify with more than one) understand this and this has allowed us to begin to come together in the past few years in greater numbers and with great effect in support of issues that we all feel that we have a stake in.

Still, there is an ugly side to us as well.  Anti-feminism has shown its self to be much more prevalent that most of us imagined it was.  This is both bad and good.  It is bad, for the obvious reason that it shows that we all are not as enlightened as we’d like to be.  It is bad because it distracts us from working together to achieve our common goals.

It is good, however, that this is now out in the open.  You can’t tackle a problem until you can first acknowledge it.  Also, it is an opportunity to clean house, as it were.  By exposing the misogynists in our midst ( actually they tend to expose themselves) we can shame them into recognizing  their misplace sense of privilege or shun them from our ranks.  It is vital that we do so because we have the fight of our lives with the religious and social conservitives on our hands.

This is where Atheism+ comes in.  The new movement is not an attempt to establish an atheist dogma, as some try to claim.  Atheism+ is an attempt to bring together atheists who believe that we have a responsibility to go beyond fighting against superstition or fighting for the separation of church and state.  We strongly believe that we have a responsibility as atheists to fight for social justice for everyone, theist and non-theist, the superstitious and the skeptical, the religious and the non-believers.  

Feminism, gay rights, separation of church and state are just a few of the issues that most of us feel are important and that we are doing a good job of brining to the forefront of the social and political forums.  

We have already begun to raise our profile in the general public’s minds.  Just this year we had the Reason Rally, which made the national news.  We also have many good organizations supporting critical thinking and humanist issues such as the Secular Student Alliance, CFI, FFRF, American Atheists, the JREF, and American Humanists.  

Except for American Atheists and the Secular Student Alliance, most of these, while they might have many atheists as members, are not atheistic groups.  What Atheism+ is, or can be, is a way for those of us who self-identify as atheists to get out and fight for social issues in public where we can meet “average” people and have them get to know us.  It will allow us to be seen as people who care for others, who do good things.  This is vitally important if atheists hope to ever become accepted by a society that currently sees us a amoral, selfish, heartless.

I urge those of you want to fight for social justice for everyone, who want to fight against misogyny, racism, bigotry, homophobia, poverty, and ignorance to consider joining the Atheist+ movement.  Talk about it with your friends and family (if they are still talking to you, that is), write about it, blog about it, tweet about it, set your Facebook profile picture to the Atheists+ symbol (see below), join the Atheist+ forum.

Let’s show the world that we are not only good without God, but we do good without God.

 

Apluslogo sm

Use me as your profile picture on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or any other site of your choice.

September 4, 2012 Posted by | Atheism, Feminism, GLBT, Humanism, Social Justice | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Don’t You Get It? It’s Not About Your Religion, It’s About Your Hate.

Many people have been posting on FB and in the other social media showing their support for Chick-fil-a.  Good for them.  What they are also doing is insinuating that the reason that people are boycotting Chick-fil-a is because the owner is a Christian.  

Wrong.  It is because the owner is, very publicly and openly, a homophobe.  It has nothing to do with the owner being a Christian and has everything to do with hate and intolerance.  As you know, I’m an atheist.  Despite that, I still shop at Hobby Lobby and other well know Christian owned businesses, and I will continue to do so as long as they conduct their business in a, well, business like manner.  

Alienating your customers is not good business.  Publicly supporting intolerance against a specific segment of the population because their way of life goes against your religious beliefs is not just bad business, it’s stupid business.  Why drive away customers who, up until now, probably didn’t care one way or another what you thought of homosexuals?  But now that you have taken a stand, don’t be surprised that people suddenly don’t want to do business with you.  And sure as hell don’t think that it’s because you are Christian.  

I won’t eat at Chick-fil-a.  Not because they are an openly Christian company, but because they are an openly bigoted one.  It’s not about their religion, it’s about their hate.  Pure and simple.

July 29, 2012 Posted by | Humanism, Religion, secular humanism, Social Justice | , , | 2 Comments

Cold, Heartless, Selfish, Greedy Bastards

I stumbled into an unintended and upsetting FB conversation last night.  It started with this:

 

stupid

So I commented that if you can’t afford food, you do.

What follows is the conversation that ensued.  Much of the tone was expected, but some of it was a bit more… well, read on.  

(The identities of the other commenters have been masked out, mainly to protect myself from being banned from FB for calling them cold, heartless, selfish, greedy bastards)

Stupid1

Ok, fair enough.  Maybe she doesn’t understand that some people just find themselves in an unfortunate situations beyond their control.  Although, I do abhor this whole “mooching off the taxpayers” crap.  Doesn’t the U.S. Constitution say that one of the reasons that this government was created was to promote the general welfare?  I’d think feeding those who need it part of the general welfare.

So I decided to pull from my own experience and give an example of why programs like Food Stamps are important.

Stupid2

She doesn’t seem to get the idea that I got laid off.  I didn’t quite my job.  I didn’t get fired for being a fuck up.  I got laid off.   That wasn’t a good enough excuse for her though.

Stupid3

Now the greed and avarice become plainly apparent.  My comparison of paying taxes for food stamps to paying for fire departments didn’t fly.  I guess if it doesn’t immediately benefit her, it isn’t a valid tax.  

So I give a, sadly, too common example of how someone can find themselves and their children in a situation for which they have no responsibility at all.  She never replied to my last point, but posted another pithy, pity-the-poor-tax-payer, image.  Someone else, however, did respond.  His response was as vile and repugnant as anything I’ve ever read.  

Stupid4

Yeah.  Read it again.  If you aren’t angry enough to spit, then you better head off to Oz to ask the Great and Powerful Wizard for a heart.

I’m not going to go into why people feel like they can be such assholes when the have the anonymity of the internet to protect them, a recent article in Scientific America covers that topic pretty well.  What really disgusts and, honestly, frightens me, is that even though this bastard might feel emboldened to write this due to not having to actually look anyone who needs assistance in the eye while saying it, he surely believes it.

People like this talk about entitlement programs like they are a plague out to bring ruin to them.  They don’t like “entitlement” programs, but in reality, they are just trying to protect their own sense of entitlement.  The feel that they are entitled to everything they have, which is fine, we all deserve to enjoy the fruits of our labor, but they also seem to think that they are entitled to tell others what they can and can not have.  

Yes, we all pay taxes and none of us like everything our taxes go to.  I don’t like that my taxes went to bail out a bunch of greedy fucks on Wall Street, but I think that the bail out was needed to keep us out of a depression.  I didn’t like my taxes going to a completely unnecessary war in Iraq.   We can’t just have our taxes go to only the things we like.  Living in a democracy means that sometimes you have to accept things you don’t like.  When one party controls the government by 51%, 49% of the people have to deal with a government that they didn’t vote for.  This is the price of living in a free, democratic society.  

But this example I’ve given here speaks to more than just the reality of living in a democracy, it highlights the uncaring, selfishness and cupidity that seems to permeate our society.  The mood in our society is one of contumely and avarice.  There is no sense of charity or caring for anyone but ourselves and our families.  We have gone from a great society of Americans bound together by a shared vision of liberty and equality to a band of millions of small, insignificant familial tribes who care only for their own interests.  We have become a society of cold, heartless, selfish, greedy bastards. 

July 28, 2012 Posted by | Humanism, Social Justice | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

It’s Not About Abortion Anymore

The so called War on Women has been escalating for months now.  Republican controlled legislatures across the country have been proposing and passing laws that aim to restrict the legal procedure of abortion by basically bullying women and doctors with threats of unneeded exams, arrests, and anything else that they can think of.  

Until now, the issue of the morality of abortion has been up for debate.  Until now.  

State Reps. Lisa Brown, D-West Bloomfield, and Barb Byrum, D-Onondaga of the Michigan House of Representatives have been told that they may no longer speak on the House floor.   The reason is that they dared to propose an amendment to a that would put new restrictions on abortion provider which would restrict a man’s access to a vasectomy.

Brown, who voted against the legislation, told supporters of the bill, “I’m flattered you’re all so interested in my vagina. But no means no.”

And Byrum was gaveled out of order after she protested when she wasn’t allowed to speak on her amendment to the bill that would have required proof of a medical emergency or that a man’s life was in danger before a doctor could perform a vasectomy. 1

This action by the leader of the Republican controlled house has turned this debate from one about abortion to one of the right to free speech.  Not only are the representatives being denied their right to speak about a bill that is up for consideration, they constituents are being denied their rights to representation.  

A democracy requires freedom of speech and a voice for everyone in the democratic process.  By denying these women their right to speak out against a proposed law that they disagree with, by denying the voters their right to effective representation, the Republican majority seeks to silence the minority. They seek to silence anyone who would dare challenge them.  This is not democracy; it is despotism.   

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of abortion, if you value what the U.S. stands for; freedom, democracy, liberty, then you must abhor an attempt to shut out and silence dissenting voices in the political process.

It is no longer about the morality of abortion.  It is about the morality of despotism.  It is about the rights of the minority being trampled by the majority.  

The American Revolution came about because Great Britain sought to control us against our will, without giving us the right of representation.  Now the political majority are attempting to do the same by denying dissenters the right to speak out, thereby denying them, and their voters, a voice in the political process.

We are slowly letting our liberties bleed away and those liberties, once gone, will be difficult to regain.    The freedom of speech is the most important right we have.  To attempt to take it away by political force should appall and frighten everyone of us.  

Don’t let your rights be trampled on just because you agree with those who would take them away.  Tell your representatives at every level of government that you won’t let this stand.  

As Michigan State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer said,

“Right now we are seeing our Republican colleagues in the House working to take away our rights to choose, our rights to health care, our rights to make decisions about our bodies. And just today, they’re taking away our female colleagues rights in the House, they’re right to speak on the floor.” 2

 

1) http://www.freep.com/article/20120614/NEWS15/120614049

2) http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/06/15/michigan-lawmakers-barred-from-floor-after-vagina-vasectomy-remarks/?iref=allsearch

June 17, 2012 Posted by | Humanism, Religion, secular humanism, Social Justice | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Skepticism’s Dirty Little Secret Isn’t Secret Anymore

It started with Elevatorgate.  Rebecca Watson related an experience she had at a conference at which she’d just spoken about how uncomfortable it makes women to be constantly hit on at conferences.  Afterwards she was going up to her hotel room in the elevator and there was a man there with her who was at the conference.  He asked her if she’d like to go back to his room.  That was exactly the type of unwelcome advance that she was speaking out about.  In a video blog about the incident she simply asked men to please not do that.  

She didn’t  call the guy a scumbag, she didn’t rail against men in general, or even those types in particular.  She didn’t call for all women to rally around the feminists flag.  She merely asked men to be respectful of women and not hit on them.

For her troubles she was called a bitch and a cunt.  She was told that she deserved to be raped.  She was threatened with rape and violence.  Even the venerable Richard Dawkins weighed in saying that women like her needed to stop whining and think about all the women in the world who are forced into prostitution, abused by men, forcible raped, etc.  

All of this highlighted the ugly underbelly of the skeptic, humanist, and atheist communities: men just don’t get it.   Yes, there women around the world in much worse situations that Rebecca and other women like her in our society.  That’s not the point.  The point is that women feel unsafe in places where they should feel safe.  The point is that women are being treated like objects.  This treatment may not raise to the level rape, forced prostitution, or genital mutilation, but it is still unacceptable because it creates fear in thousands of women.  No one she feel unsafe, especially in a community that prides itself on its inclusiveness.

Not only do some men in our community not get it, some are downright misogynistic.  They are quick to call women who speak out about sexism in the community feminazis, whores, and man-haters.  

Then there are the, what I will call, accommodationist.  They try to show their understanding and support of women while at the same time making excuses for mens’ bad behavior.  They say that these men are a product of their society, that they didn’t mean to offend, or some other lame assed excuse.  

The fact is that there is no excuse for sexist and myogynistic behavior.  And there certainly is no excuse for character assignations and threats of violence.  

Women in the community have had enough of this disgusting behavior from men.   They have said resoundingly that they do not feel safe at conferences.  The vicious attacks from the misogynists have frightened them.

The effects of this may be seen at this year’s registration for TAM.  Up until last year, registration for women was close to about 40%.  So far this year it is 18%.  Once can’t help but wonder if the events of this past year have had an influence on the huge drop in female registrations for TAM.

JD Grothe, president of the JREF and TAM’s organizer certainly thinks so.  He recently stated, 

Last year we had 40% women attendees, something I’m really happy about. But this year only about 18% of TAM registrants so far are women, a significant and alarming decrease, and judging from dozens of emails we have received from women on our lists, this may be due to the messaging that some women receive from various quarters that going to TAM or other similar conferences means they will be accosted or harassed. (This is misinformation. Again, there’ve been on reports of such harassment the last two TAMs while I’ve been at the JREF, nor any reports filed with authorities at any other TAMs of which I’m aware.) We have gotten emails over the last few months from women vowing never to attend TAM because they heard that JREF is purported to condone child-sex-trafficking, and emails in response to various blog posts about JREF or me that seem to suggest I or others at the JREF promote the objectification of women, or that we condone violence or threats of violence against women, or that they believe that women would be unsafe because we feature this or that man on the program. I think this misinformation results from irresponsible messaging coming from a small number of prominent and well-meaning women skeptics who, in trying to help correct real problems of sexism in skepticism, actually and rather clumsily themselves help create a climate where women — who otherwise wouldn’t — end up feeling unwelcome and unsafe, and I find that unfortunate.

He singled out Rebecca as one of those who were being, as he claimed, irresponsible.

Rebecca: Off the top of my head, your quote in USA Today might suggest that the freethought or skeptics movements are unsafe for women. This is from the article:

“I thought it was a safe space,” Watson said of the freethought community. “The biggest lesson I have learned over the years is that it is not a safe space. . . ”

Rebecca recently announce that she will not be attending TAM this year.  I don’t blame her.  This is incredibly sad, not because a well know skeptic won’t be attending, but because that those 40% of woman attending last year is in large part due to Rebecca and others at Skepchick.  They have been raising money for years to send women to TAM and have succeeded in helping the number of women attending TAM to double over the last few years.   This surge in women attendees have spilled over into other conferences such as Skepticon, and has fueled a flowering of hundreds of skeptical female voices in the blogosphere.  

I was pondering attending TAM, but decided against it several weeks ago for financially reasons.  Now I’m defiantly glad that we didn’t register.  I would have been compelled to not attend TAM, despite losing  a substantial amount of money for the registration fee.  But more importantly, I could not attend TAM because I can not condone, or support with my money and presence, DJ’s stance here.  Blaming women who speak out about their feelings and fears is no different than blaming a rape victim for being raped.  

Of course this doesn’t rise to the level of rape, but the results are in the same.  Women are being victimized by being blamed for speaking out and taking action against an injustice.  They are being made to feel violated simply by saying they feel unsafe.  

I won’t consider attending TAM until I see that the organizers are willing to stop blaming women and take real, meaningful actions to stop sexual harassment at their conference.  I am also withholding my financial support for the JREF and will no longer write for the JREF blog while these conditions remain.

I am hoping that men in the community will respond to these events by voicing their support for Rebecca and all women in our community who are outraged by this latest turn of events.  I would call on PZ Myers, Phil Plait and other prominent male skeptics, who I know wholeheartedly support women’s rights,  to avoid TAM.  We need to send a message to DJ and other organizers that this behavior will not stand.  Maybe if we start throwing our support and our money behind other events, such at  CFI’s Women in Secularism conference, this will send a message to organizers of conferences to take real, meaningful actions to alleviate this problem.  Hopefully this will allow us to create events and venues where all participants can feel welcomed and safe. 

 

 

 

defiantly

June 2, 2012 Posted by | Atheism, Feminism, Humanism, secular humanism, Skepticism, Social Justice | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Corporate “Personhood” Should Come With Responsibility of “Personhood”

The US Supreme Court plans to consider the lawsuit in a case that could be a landmark case that could make companies liable for torture or genocide committed overseas.

According to Discovery News,King Emere Godwin Bebe Okpabi of the Ogoni and four other tribal leaders seek compensation for half a century of pollution from oil extraction and processing that has sickened people and poisoned the land and drinking water.”

The plaintiffs are suing Royal Dutch Shell under the Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789, a law designed to assure foreign governments that the U.S. would uphold international law.

A lawyer for the defendants said that the law was intended to apply to persons, not corporations, but, as the Supreme Court declared last year, corporations are, legally, persons.  As far as I’m concerned if corporations can reap the benefits of personhood that come with pouring millions of dollars to influence elections, they should also assume the liability for the actions of their employes who commit crimes in other countries, just as they would if crimes were committed in this country.

February 28, 2012 Posted by | secular humanism, Social Justice | , , , | 4 Comments

   

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