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review 2020-06-30 21:59
Help I'm a cop
Burmese Days - George Orwell


"It's a drag being a cop" ~ Frank Zappa, "Help, I'm a rock"


George Orwell was brainwashed. This happened in Myanmar (formerly Burma) during his five years as a policeman. He was brainwashed by the pukka sahibs’ code. The code of imperialist occupiers. The code of colonial hypocrisy. A code similar to the one currently protested by the BLM movement.


The protagonist of "Burmese Days" is not a policeman. However, John Flory has seen through the code and now belongs nowhere--not in Burma, nor back in England.


"It is a stifling, stultifying world in which to live. It is a world in which every word and every thought is censored. In England it is hard even to imagine such an atmosphere. Everyone is free in England; we sell our souls in public and buy them back in private, among our friends. But even friendship can hardly exist when every white man is a cog in the wheels of despotism. Free speech is unthinkable. All other kinds of freedom are permitted. You are free to be a drunkard, an idler, a coward, a backbiter, a fornicator; but you are not free to think for yourself. Your opinion on every subject of any conceivable importance is dictated for you by the pukka sahibs’ code.


In the end the secrecy of your revolt poisons you like a secret disease. Your whole life is a life of lies. Year after year you sit in Kipling-haunted little Clubs, whisky to right of you, Pink’un to left of you, listening and eagerly agreeing while Colonel Bodger develops his theory that these bloody Nationalists should be boiled in oil. You hear your Oriental friends called ‘greasy little babus’, and you admit, dutifully, that they are greasy little babus. You see louts fresh from school kicking grey-haired servants. The time comes when you burn with hatred of your own countrymen, when you long for a native rising to drown their Empire in blood. And in this there is nothing honourable, hardly even any sincerity. For, au fond, what do you care if the Indian Empire is a despotism, if Indians are bullied and exploited? You only care because the right of free speech is denied you. You are a creature of the despotism, a pukka sahib, tied tighter than a monk or a savage by an unbreakable system of tabus."


John Flory's story isn't a pleasant one. It's a story of a conflicted man wanting, but unable, to do the right thing. I wonder how many good cops feel this way, wanting to improve society but hampered by their coworkers. At any rate, it's a good read. This essay about Orwell and BLM is another good read.

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photo 2020-06-03 22:15
Who we are

We are men. We know pain,

Which we freely acknowledge,

Yet we don’t complain.


It isn’t the pain that aggrieves.

It’s the unfairness that comes

From those who deceive us.


Hypocrites all, they try to fool us

With improvised news,

With which they would school us.


They haven’t an ethos they would defend

Unless it’s that destiny decrees they hold the hill,

Even if that means crushing those below.


Winners keep losers poor and in debt.

And as they drown push them deeper

until they sputter, “I can’t breathe.”


Winners need losers in order to win.

So brainwash some. Impoverish many.

Murder a few. But never admit.

You’re no better than they.


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text 2020-06-02 22:53
Why are they protesting?


Is our ship of state off course, or sinking? Here's one opinion:


"The core story of U.S. politics over the past four decades is that wealthy elites weaponized white racism to gain political power, which they used to pursue policies that enriched the already wealthy at workers’ expense." ~ Paul Krugman, New York Times, June 1, 2020

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text 2020-04-04 03:54
I read the news today. Oh, boy.


There’s been plenty to read in the news lately. I’d like to tell you about it, but I won’t. Several years ago I wrote a piece about how to adapt future social policy to meet Americans’ future needs. Although I did an adequate job, I subsequently decided that in the future I’d stick to what I know best.


Regardless, two headlines in the Washington Post caught my eye this morning. The first said that the White House plans on recommending that everyone wear face masks. The second stated that during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic masks failed to slow that virus. The moral here is that one should try to stay well informed. This well-respected newspaper was banned from the White House last fall. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which news is legitimate and which is fake.


When V. O. Diedlaff (her name has the same letters as mine) released her slim paperback in 2018, her intention was to address income inequality. “No one cares that the new tax act benefits billionaires and corporations instead of Americans living from paycheck to paycheck,” she told me recently. “Maybe now they will.”


“Isn’t income inequality a minor side effect of Capitalism?” I asked. “Isn’t there an ‘invisible hand’ that balances everything out?”


“What little truth that idea once held is long gone. The wealthy invoke the ‘invisible hand’ to avoid regulations on themselves while legislating ways of keeping the poor from prospering.”


“Is your book still free?”


“Yes, on Smashwords and B&N and elsewhere.”

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review 2020-02-11 19:30
The right idea at the wrong time
The War on Normal People: The Truth About America's Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future - Andrew Yang

When I read this book a few years back I didn't figure Yang would make good on his threat to run for president. I like the man, the way he interviews, his sense of humor, etc. However that doesn't make him right. Don't get me wrong, Yang gets it right that technology threatens jobs. But Yang is too early. At the moment we're running at close to full employment so what's the point of giving everyone a Universal Basic Income (UBI)?

This will change and Yang's ideas will be relevant again and there's plenty in this book to make it worth reading. I think Yang's solution is too limited and a broader one is needed. I'd make the argument for the broader solution, but it's best I stick to basics and urge others to understand the problem by reading this book.

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