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If Not Islamofascism, Then What?

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The media have been abuzz in recent weeks condemning the Islamofascism Awareness Week, held last week on college and university campuses across America. The event was organized by former communist turned conservative activist, David Horowitz, and his Freedom Center.

This event was marked to create awareness about the danger of Islamic extremism and terrorism, the oppression of women (polygamy, honour-killings, and genital mutilations) and persecution of minorities in Islamic countries, and the fanatical Jew-hatred among Muslims, etc.

Horowitz’s Freedom Center also takes aim at the American left, who have made the educational institutions into exclusive fortresses of their propaganda, impregnable to contrary views. He also accuses the left of forming an unassailable alliance with dangerous Islamists, who will make every effort to destroy the very ideals ― secularism, democracy, liberalism, human rights, and rights of homosexuals, etc. ― which they hold dear.

Looking at what is happening in Islamic countries, Horowitz is not at all wrong about his apprehensions of what would transpire when Muslims become dominant in western countries, which they will at least in Europe by 2050. Horowitz rightly regrets that the left is staunchly against his campaign, when they should be on his side. I think it is the left who should take the lead in this awareness campaign.

The major focus of criticism of Horowitz’s Islamofascism Week is that the term, Islamofascism, tends to lump all Muslims together as fascists or terrorists. FOX News Channel anchor Alan Colmes, told Horowitz that "The words, the phrase ‘Islamofascism' is hate speech. It equates an entire religion with fascism.” Although it became popular after President Bush once uttered it, the term "Islamofascism" was coined by secular Muslims to describe the murderous ideology and activities of the Islamic radicals in bloody, civil war stricken Algeria.

Horowitz, however, has been at pains trying to explain that he does not put all Muslims in the same basket. Instead, his message is targeted at a segment of Muslims, who use a fascistic and violent strain within Islam. He went on to explain in an interview that although not all Italians were fascists in the 1930-40s, Italian fascism was still a widely accepted phrase. Italian fascism did not mean that all Italians were fascists. So, it is groundless that Islamofascism lumps all Muslims together as fascists. But neither of his detractors, the Muslims and the leftists, would ever listen.

The result turned out just as expected. The left on campuses ganged up with the Muslim Students Association ― founded, according to Journalist Joe Kaufman, by the militant Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood ― to disrupt the Islamofascism Week talks. They created disruption and chaos in most campuses making it impossible for Horowitz and his fellow speakers express their views.

Quite correctly, Horowitz calls American university and colleges the impregnable forts of leftist propaganda. Amidst deafening shouting and jeers at his Emory lecture, a frustrated Horowitz said with good deal of justification that “this is exactly what the fascists did in Germany in the 1930s.” And ironically, organizations like the National Project to Defend Dissent & Critical Thinking in Academia joined hands in creating these fascist-style disruptions. Can Horowitz be faulted for condemning the left for forming an unholy alliance with the dangerous Islamists?

Let us now have a brief look at what Muslims have brought to the West. In November 2005, Muslim youths in France rioted and vandalized cars, homes and properties for weeks, leading to even death of an elderly man. Some 100,000 cars were vandalized or set on fire by French Muslim rioters and vandals in one year. Taking cues from their French brethren in action, Muslims in Belgium took it up on them to spread the Intifada in Brussels at the time.

Muslims in the Netherlands engaged in similar Intifada by rioting and setting cars on fire for more than a week since October 14, protesting the death of a young Muslim, who was shot dead as he started stabbing two policewomen entering a police station in Amsterdam. The two policewomen, critically wounded, narrowly escaped death.

At the same time, Turkish immigrants engaged in vandalism of Armenian properties and attacking Armenians in Brussels, protesting the U.S. initiative for recognizing the Turkish genocide of the Armenians. This was followed by another round of riots, attacking buses and trams and destroying cars and shops, in Brussels’ Turkish quarters over the rising tensions between Turkey and Kurdish rebels along Iraqi borders.

Such riots and vandalism are becoming increasingly common across Europe in areas with a high density of Muslims. Muslims have been creating more and more ghettos ridden with violence and crime, which have become no-go zones for non-Muslim Europeans, even for the police. If a non-Muslim girl happens to stray in those ghettos, there is a high possibility that she will come out raped.

The term Islamofascism is not acceptable. Fair enough! But how about a Stop Islamization of Europe rally, which one transnational European group, wanted to bring about in Brussels to commemorate 9/11 this year? The secular-liberal fabric of western societies ― from New Zealand to Australia to Canada to Europe ― are being aggressively Islamized by Muslim immigrants. To give a few examples: airports must have a mosque; canteens in jails must have separate quarters, cutlery and menu for Muslim inmates; school and university canteens must remove pork and even alcohol from their premises; and they must have separate public swimming pools or specific days of the week exclusively for them. A poll in 2006 found some 40% of British Muslims would prefer an Islamic Sharia law based governance to replace the secular-democracy, while another poll in 2004 found 61% Muslims want the Sharia court system in the U.K..

In this context it seems reasonable for those Europeans, seeking to protect the secular and liberal fabric of their society from invasion by often repressive and cruel Islamic values and cultures, to hold a Stop Islamization of Europe rally. But this is not acceptable to Muslims either. For them, this rally also lumps all Muslims together and stigmatizes them. They were determined to prevent the rally with violence if needed. The leftist mayor of Brussels, heavily dependent on Muslim votes, took firm steps to prevent the rally, for the duel reasons of not upsetting his Muslim vote-bank and of the fear of violence by Muslims. Yet, he had no qualms about a militant Islamist group, who say the 9/11 was done by the Bush administration, to bring out a rally on 11th September to condemn the war on terrorism.

The mayor rightly feared the likely unleashing of violence by Muslims if the rally went ahead. The Danish chapter of the Stop Islamization of Europe brought out a small rally on 21 November in Copenhagen, a city having much fewer Muslims than Brussels with 25-30% Muslims. Anders Gravers, the organizer of the event, and his three associates, including two women, as they arrived for the rally, came under attack by Muslim thugs, armed with knifes and iron-rods, which left three associates hospitalized with bloodied head and face. Anders Gravers was probably saved by a bullet-proof vest he was wearing.

To these should be added the murder of Dutch filmmaker, Theo van Gogh, for making a film on the mistreatment of Muslim women in Islam, the death-warrants and widespread violent demonstrations over publishing Prophet Muhammad’s cartoons in a Danish paper in 2005, and the death-threats and large-scale vandalism over Salman Rushdie’s novel, The Satanic Verses (1989). There are numerous terrorist cells, directly or ideologically allied with the Al-Qaeda in western countries. Apart from the Madrid (March 2004) and London (July 2005) bombings, numerous terrorist plots often against civilian targets have been aborted in Europe, Australia, Canada and the U.S. The law enforcement agencies are watching 5000 Muslims for terrorist activities in Britain and 2000 in Australia ― a phenomenon which extends across all western countries.

The Little Mermaid statue at the entrance of Copenhagen harbour was found found draped in an Islamic veil in May, while naked statues across Germany were found veiled with Islamic garb in September. These veiling incidents, which are becoming increasingly common across Europe, highlight how Muslims would change the western liberal societies to fit the Islamic lifestyle and culture. When Muslims cannot tolerate lifeless statues in their natural state, how long will they tolerate the liberally (scantily) dressed real women who walk on the streets of Europe?

What should one call these activities brought to the West exclusively by Muslim immigrants? Whatever name you give them, these are all acts and signs of fascism with no doubt. Other immigrants, such as the Chinese or the Hindus, have not brought the same troubles. Muslims differ from them only in their religion. If any logical or sensible name is to be given to this brand of fascism, it has got to be Islamofascism or Muslim fascism. Islamofascism associates it with a strain of radical thought within the ideology of Islam, while Muslim fascism obviously lumps all Muslims together. When Islamofascism is unacceptable, Muslim fascism is going to be even less acceptable to Muslims and their leftist allies.

Give it a name or not, there is no doubt that a brand of fascism, brought by Muslim immigrants, has been spreading across western nations with increasing intensity. While chatting about these issues with Mr. Jamal Hasan, a coeditor of Beyond Jihad – Critical Voices from Inside Islam, he told me: “Have you considered what would have transpired if Salman Rushdie’s novel or Prophet Muhammad’s cartoons were published after a few decades, when Muslims are projected to become the dominant population in Europe?” Whether one agrees or not, this is an issue which all westerners, the liberal-left in particular, should be most concerned about.

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About Muhammad Hussain

  • Les Slater

    This article is nothing but racist supporting a racist David Horowitz and his ‘Islamofascism Awareness Week’.

    Let’s take one point by Alamgir Hussain here:

    “Let us now have a brief look at what Muslims have brought to the West. In November 2005, Muslim youths in France rioted and vandalized cars, homes and properties for weeks, leading to even death of an elderly man.”

    I remember that quite well.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Les, I don’t think it can be considered racist since being Muslim is not a race. There are blond haired, blue eyed muslims in the Balkans, oriental muslims in China, polynesian muslims in the Philippines, etc.

    As for your ‘memories’ of rioting in France, I suspect that neither you nor Alamgir are eyewitneeses of that rioting and its scope. I’ve got a friend who lives in France, however, and he says that the riots which started in 2005 have basically never ended. That those neighborhoods remain lawless, with regular riots and outbreaks of violence and property destruction and that the problem is getting worse and incidents more frequent.

    And those north Africans are of arab/berber descent, if you think this is a skin color issue.

    dave

  • Les Slater

    “I don’t think it can be considered racist since being Muslim is not a race. There are blond haired, blue eyed muslims in the Balkans, oriental muslims in China, polynesian muslims in the Philippines, etc.”

    Those in question were mostly of North African descent. There were very few blond, blue-eyed of those people.

    In any case there is nothing to do with fascism here.

  • Nancy

    A cursory reading of any translation of the koran or Qu’ran or however it’s spelled, quickly reveals the entire fabric of Islam to be interwoven with the theme of non-tolerance of, & condoned – if not outright mandated – violence toward non-Muslims. Throughout that work, & the closely entwined Hadith, Mohammed repeatedly inveighs against anyone who does not or will not or has not accepted Islam & his authority. He further repeatedly spends long passages and pages issuing curses, dire predictions, threats, and blatantly incites all good Muslims to discriminate, attack, & even kill non-Muslims. I think there is only one (1) passage in which he says something even vaguely tolerant of non-muslims, a passage which is usually trotted out as proof of the tolerance of Islam, when it is in fact almost unique in all the Quran for it’s tolerance.

    This is no religion of peace and tolerance, by any stretch of the imagination, no matter how it’s twisted and turned. At bottom it teaches that it is not only OK, but absolutely a requirement to destroy non-muslims and/or their societies. If you want to be a ‘good’ muslim, that is.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Nancy, that’s really over the line and grossly inaccurate. The violent extremism of the Islamists is based on an interpretation of the Quran that most Muslims, now and historically, would find outrageous.

    You can selectively quote from the Old Testament and from the history of Christianity to make equally questionable cases about the intolerance of Jews and Christians toward non-believers. What you would be describing are intolerant minorities [who may have gained political or military strength at various times], not the religions as a whole.

    It doesn’t help the discussion of an issue as incendiary as this one when you pour lighter fluid on it in the form of your ill-conceived post.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    The examples the author cites of “what Muslims have brought to the West” are offensively misrepresented.

    The youths in France are certainly reacting to economic stagnation and yes, to racism. [France is not exempt from ethnic intolerance.] They don’t represent a ‘fascist’ movement. But they could be fertile ground for recruitment by more political Islamists. A good reason to try to reach out to them and make their prospects and lives more promising, instead of calling them names.

    When those of us who are not of the Right speak out about the hateful rhetoric employed in this article and by people like David Horowitz, the reaction is to speak of “the Left” defending Islamists.

    I am not defending the criminal behavior of Islamists. But I do stand up for portraying the situation accurately and with all the shades of gray acknowledged. The black/white us/them rhetoric gets us exactly nowhere.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Those in question were mostly of North African descent. There were very few blond, blue-eyed of those people.

    My french teacher in high-school was a blong haired, blue eyed Algerian ex-pat who was a Muslim. North Africans are NOT as a group considered ‘black’ africans.

    In any case there is nothing to do with fascism here.

    I agree that the term is poorly conceived, but it seems to have caught on so it’s hard to dislodge. I’d prefer a term like Islamocrats, which is certainly more accurately descriptive.

    Dave

  • Alamgir Hussain

    handyguy:”The violent extremism of the Islamists is based on an interpretation of the Quran that most Muslims, now and historically, would find outrageous.”

    “The youths in France are certainly reacting to economic stagnation and yes, to racism. [France is not exempt from ethnic intolerance.] They don’t represent a ‘fascist’ movement.”

    Of course, France, and any western country for that matter, is racist and intolerant — but only to Muslims, not to immigrants of other faiths of the same color and race.

    Violent Muslims behavior more resembles the actions of Prophet Muhammad, who during the 8 critical years of his prophetic mission, kept himself completely busy attacking one non-Muslim communities one after another curving out his kingdom of Medina calipahte. He had understaken 78-100 raids and wars during those few years according to his biographies. His last words in death bed was: let no other religion than Islam remain in the Arabia. Quran agrees too: fight until religion is Allah’s alone [Quran 2:193].

    Of coure, Muhammad did not know the interpretation of Quran as Handyguy would have it. Go to Saudi Arabia and say this — you will see how lovingly the followers of the religion of peace treat you.

    Historically! Muslims were almost going to overrun Europe in 732 if not luckily for Europe, repulsed by Charles Martel and the effort continued unabated well into 17th century when the Jihadists were at the Gates of Vienna for the second time in 1683. Their faiulre saved Western Europe, after much of Eastern Europe had fallen to Islam.

    In 1676, when they attacked Valyona in Esatern Europe, they herded away 400,000 people, the young women in particular, as slaves.

    In 17th century, Polland came under Ottoman Jihadi attacks nearly 20 times (last attack in 1694), in which they carried away about half a million slaves.

    In Afghanistan, a country never colonized, the Muslim king was conducting yearly attacks at night on its only still non-Muslim (Hindu) province of Kaffiristan in the middle of 19th century to capture slaves and plunder the wealth.

    Muslims must go to fight Jihad at least once in a year, advised Imam Ghazzali — the second greatest Muslim after Muhammad. Of course, Muhammad was going on Jihadi wars about one per month.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I don’t think jihad was the main motive for Ottoman imperialism in 1683. Seems to me there was a far more materialistic side to it.

    Also, ‘jihad’ does not necessarily mean holy war.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    Dr. Hussain [rather like ‘Dr.’ Nalle] picks individual sentences out of context and then smothers them with ‘facts’ to make it appear that he is winning the argument. When, in fact, he is avoiding the points I raised.

    The subtitle of his book is “Separating Myths from Reality.” Yet he seems determined to keep propagandistic myths alive about “the Left” and its alleged defense of Islamism.

    We live in a dangerous world, yes. It is not made less dangerous by phony scholarship and propaganda. We do indeed need to separate the myths from the reality. We need to do it honestly and completely, without leaving out the parts that don’t support our rigged theses.

  • Alamgir Hussain

    Dr Dreadfu: “I don’t think jihad was the main motive for Ottoman imperialism in 1683. Seems to me there was a far more materialistic side to it.”

    I agree. But exactly the same applies to Prophet Muhammad’s Jihad of 78-100 raids and wars between 623 and 631 in which he conquered infidel territory, plundered their wealth, slaughtered, enslaved and exiled them en masse. The prettier of the female captives went to his harem.

    Like Handyguy, you too will agree that Prophet Muhammad had misunderstood and misinterpreted the Quran. Someone of you good folks need to make this one point clear to Muslims. Then all the on-going misinterpreted jiahd problems in the world will the over.

  • Les Slater

    “Whatever name you give them, these are all acts and signs of fascism with no doubt.”

    Just because he says so? The term fascism should be taken more seriously than is currently in vogue. Much of the shit he is effusing has been said about Blacks in this country at various times. Much of what he and the likes of Horowitz are being said about immigrants in general, not with the religious angle, but with evoking fears that a ‘foreign’ culture will take over. It is nothing but reactionary.

    It is good that the Islamofascist awareness week was a failure. All that is left is the whining of these reactionaries.

  • SFC SKI

    It’s almost amusing that so many are busy arguing about whether the issue of militant extremists acting in the name of Islam is racist or fascist that they ignore the problem of the militant extremists entirely.

    Some of the same people who will ignore the actions of these militants as being caused by other than religious reasons are probably of the same opinion that Iraq and Afghanstan are failures because they fail to curb the actions of religious extemists there.

    Keep arranging the deck chairs, mind the deck being slippery when wetted by icy water.

  • Les Slater

    “Some of the same people who will ignore the actions of these militants as being caused by other than religious reasons are probably of the same opinion that Iraq and Afghanstan are failures because they fail to curb the actions of religious extemists there.”

    Despite the weaknesses and crimes of the Afghanistan Saur Revolution in 1978, it was secular and declared all laws, except the secular, null and void. One of the reforms they instituted was education for girls.

    The education for girls and other reforms, like the land reform, brought brutal opposition by the landlords and clerics, the most reactionary forces in Afghan society. This was subsequently organized by the Mujahedeen. It was Jimmy ‘Human Rights’ Carter and National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski that began to covertly fund and supply arms for the Mujahedeen terror. It was only AFTER such U.S. intervention that the Soviet Union intervened.

    It was the U.S. and its imperialist allies that brought the reactionaries to power in Afghanistan.

  • moonraven

    Look guys, it is always about MONEY.

    Religion and race are just the propagandistic tools used to implement wars–which are all about MONEY.

    And now I see we have [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor] Nancy, who has never been anywhere near any Muslims or Muslim countries, pontificating on the Koran!

    What next?

  • Les Slater

    Money is a fetish. From SparkNotes:

    “The word fetish refers to any object that people fixate on or are fascinated by and that keeps them from seeing the truth. According to Marx, when people try to understand the world in which they live, they fixate on money—who has it, how is it acquired, how is it spent—or they fixate on commodities, trying to understand economics as a matter of what it costs to make or to buy a product, what the demand for a product is, and so on. Marx believed that commodities and money are fetishes that prevent people from seeing the truth about economics and society: that one class of people is exploiting another. In capitalism, the production of commodities is based on an exploitative economic relationship between owners of factories and the workers who produce the commodities. In everyday life, we think only of the market value of a commodity—in other words, its price. But this monetary value simultaneously depends on and masks the fact that someone was exploited to make that commodity.”

  • troll

    …nice quote Les…but leave that toe fetish out of this you kinky boy

  • http://www.reformislam.org Muslims Against Sharia

    Muslims Against Sharia congratulate David Horowitz FREEDOM CENTER and Mike Adams, Tammy Bruce, Phyllis Chesler, Ann Coulter, Nonie Darwish, Greg Davis, Stephen Gale, David Horowitz, Joe Kaufman, Michael Ledeen, Michael Medved, Alan Nathan, Cyrus Nowrasteh, Daphne Patai, Daniel Pipes, Dennis Prager, Luana Saghieh, Rick Santorum, Jonathan Schanzer, Christina Sommers, Robert Spencer, Brian Sussman, Ed Turzanski, Ibn Warraq and other speakers on the success of the Islamofascism Awareness Week.

    Islamofascism (or Islamism) is the main threat facing modern civilization and ignorance about this threat is astounding. We hope that this event becomes regular and reaches every campus.

    A great many Westerners do not see the clear distinction between Islam and Islamism (Islamofascism). They need to understand that the difference between Islam and Islamism (Islamofascism) is the same as the difference between Christianity and Christian Identity Movement (White Supremacy Movement).

    Original post

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    It was the U.S. and its imperialist allies that brought the reactionaries to power in Afghanistan.

    Which you seem to think means that we must repeat the same mistakes over and over? Why can’t we learn from the errors of one era and act more wisely in the present as a result?

    Dave

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Moon,

    Nancy may be fat or not, she may be pontificating or not, but she is, nevertheless correct. The Koran has numerous references concerning intolerance of non-believers and the violence that should be committed against them. Apostates are, perhaps even more reviled.

    I don’t suggest that most Muslims actively adhere to those strictures, but when push comes to shove – which is apparently happening – what side do you suppose they will come down on?

    B-tone

  • Les Slater

    #19 Dave,

    “…you seem to think means that we must repeat the same mistakes over and over?”

    The U.S. government was not motivated by supporting any religion, or by any sense of ‘democracy’. It was a pure case of class interests. It was the landlord regime it was supporting over any encroachment to their property rights.

    All so-called religious conflicts in modern times have a class root to them. All Muslims in advanced capitalist countries are oppressed. Some religious minorities see their religion as a means to liberation. The problem however, is the class system that oppresses them. Islam is not the problem. It is capitalism.

    Les

  • Baronius

    Interesting article. Fascism can mean a lot of different things, but it usually includes nationalism, militarism, and corporatism. Islamofascists aren’t nationalists at all. The reliance on military force, yes. And the economies of a lot of Muslim states have that characteristic blend of government and industry. So fascism isn’t a bad description.

    The odd thing is, fascism and Islamofascism share anti-Semitism. But there’s no reason that fascism has to be anti-Semitic. It just worked out that way. Many Islamofascists praise the Nazis and/or deny the Holocaust. So they’re strengthening the mental association between the two.

    But what about “shariaist”? Would that term be offensive to moderate Muslims? International sharia is the real agenda of the Islamic terrorists, so why not call them shariaists?

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Wow Les, your thinking seems to employ the wayback machine. Maybe that’s appropriate with muslim countries which are also living in the past, but I thought that by now the entire ‘class struggle’ paradigm had been pretty thoroughly discredited.

    It certainly makes your statements seem bizarre enough that they read like they’re imported from an alternate reality.

    The U.S. government was not motivated by supporting any religion, or by any sense of ‘democracy’. It was a pure case of class interests. It was the landlord regime it was supporting over any encroachment to their property rights.

    No. The US government is not a ‘class’ and was never in a position as ‘landlord’ in Afghanistan. Our involvement in Afghanistan was political in nature, part of our adversarial conflict with the Soviet Union, a conflict which had zero to do with class. Within Afghanistan, as with most Muslim countries, trying to apply the idea of class struggle is also ridiculous, because they are tribal societies and don’t have classes as such. Afghanistan is, in fact, a model of tribal societal structure and demonstrates how completely inappropriate marxist theory is to such a society.

    All so-called religious conflicts in modern times have a class root to them. All Muslims in advanced capitalist countries are oppressed. Some religious minorities see their religion as a means to liberation. The problem however, is the class system that oppresses them. Islam is not the problem. It is capitalism.

    Rigid class systems are largely incompatible with modern free market capitalism, so this makes very little sense. It seems much more logical to include Islam as part of the problem, since as a religion it preaches submission to class and social order. The name Islam MEANS submission. It’s the core of the religion. How can you ignore that? I agree that some Islamic societies have become over stratified, but that’s a result of power politics and the breakdown of tribalism and has little or nothing to do with capitalism. Capitalism is the primary force for the breakdown of class and the creation of opportunity in most Muslim countries.

    Dave

  • Baronius

    Dave, kindly do not tap the glass. This species was once dominant throughout Asia and Europe, but is now endangered. The few remaining are kept in captivity on college campuses, although there are some reports of sightings in Vermont.

  • Les Slater

    “No. The US government is not a ‘class’ and was never in a position as ‘landlord’ in Afghanistan. Our involvement in Afghanistan was political in nature, part of our adversarial conflict with the Soviet Union, a conflict which had zero to do with class.”

    Then you say: “they are tribal societies and don’t have classes as such.”

    As such? Marxism never limited itself to highly developed capitalism or even to embryonic capitalism . Class society started long before capitalism. Have you heard: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” Afghanistan does indeed have a class structure. At its core are the land owners. Even Russia in 1917 was not primarily a capitalist state. It was primarily a feudal monarchy. Capitalism was limited to a few urban centers and the capitalist class did not hold the reins of government. Class analysis was not only applicable there but necessary to organizing the revolution.

    “Rigid class systems are largely incompatible with modern free market capitalism…”

    Rigid? Only to a degree. Capitalism itself broke down the absolute rigidity of the feudal system. This is the basis of the capitalist’s claim to it being free. But the rigidity does still exist. Today the greatest hope of many is to marry into a higher class or win the lottery. Of course there is the opportunity of making it big in sports or music. To many the path is crime or politics, or is that redundant.

    Some do make it by investing. Much of that it seems was not a few hustling mortgages to those who had no chance of affording them. And it wasn’t just the sleazes in the ghetto office. It seems much of the investment banking community lined up at the trough. Many a CEO has been shown the door lately.

    Class structure in decaying capitalism is becoming more rigid. The distribution of wealth is becoming more lopsided.

    “It seems much more logical to include Islam as part of the problem, since as a religion it preaches submission to class and social order. The name Islam MEANS submission. It’s the core of the religion. How can you ignore that?”

    So, class is an issue. The same can be said of the Catholic hierarchy during Luther’s time. Wasn’t the primary issue the peasant’s forced submission to the landlord with the church’s complicity. The church not only preached submission but modeled their hierarchy after that of feudalism. The rise of Protestantism rose hand and hand with that of capitalism. To the Protestant communion is with God and God only, no one in between. With capitalism there is only one God, the market.

    “Capitalism is the primary force for the breakdown of class and the creation of opportunity in most Muslim countries.”

    This is true, but only true in pre-capitalist countries. In Iran it is the capitalists that rule. There the creation of opportunity for the masses is in opposition to capitalism. It is the capitalists there that use religion to keep their population in check. The real culprit is the capitalist class and not the Islamic religion.

    This is also true in the U.S. and other developed, and imperialist states. Religion is used by the ruling class as a whole to keep people divided and ignorant. Again, it is not the religion, but those with class interests to defend.

    And, B.T.W., I never said, nor do I believe, that the U.S. government is a class. I also never said that the U.S. was a landlord in Afghanistan. I said they supported the landlord class.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    The underemployed kids of North African heritage in suburban Paris are possibly not the best examples of “Islamofascism” or whatever you want to call it. Their problems and the motivation for their rioting may be only indirectly related, if at all, to Islam and Islamism. The class-warfare back-and-forth of the last several comments is probably irrelevant to the main argument of this (quite offensive) article.

    The middle-class Islamist radicals among doctors and engineers in the Pakistani communities in England are much more to the point here. They are not alienated by lack of economic opportunity. Can their hearts and minds [or at least some of them] be won back? If not, that’s where our worries lie.

    The unemployed youths are just cannon fodder.

  • Clavos

    Good points, handy.

    According to reports, most (if not all) the 9/11 perpetrators were well educated, middle class people who grew up in comfortable circumstances.

  • http://www.libertyrepublican.com Dave Nalle

    As such? Marxism never limited itself to highly developed capitalism or even to embryonic capitalism . Class society started long before capitalism. Have you heard: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.”

    Yes, of course I’ve heard it – from a number of professors in grad school in addition to the writings of Marx. And it was just as idiotic from both sources.

    Afghanistan does indeed have a class structure. At its core are the land owners.

    In much of Afghanistan land is owned not by individuals, but by tribes or extended family groups. To perceive the Sheikh’s second cousin who works a little farm as an exploited lower class person is to try to impose an artificial and irrelevant model of society. In fact, he is part of a larger group in which his status may be quite high, even though his circumstances appear superficially to be those of a ‘lower class’.

    Even Russia in 1917 was not primarily a capitalist state. It was primarily a feudal monarchy. Capitalism was limited to a few urban centers and the capitalist class did not hold the reins of government. Class analysis was not only applicable there but necessary to organizing the revolution.

    Which is why Marxism caught on there, because unlike much of the rest of the world, Imperial Russia actually did have a strictly defined and rigid class system.

    “Rigid class systems are largely incompatible with modern free market capitalism…”

    Rigid? Only to a degree. Capitalism itself broke down the absolute rigidity of the feudal system.

    Actually, that was Mercantilism which is significantly different from Capitalism. You could think of it as state-licensed capitalism, and it perpetuated class divisions while supporting the development of trade and business.

    This is the basis of the capitalist’s claim to it being free. But the rigidity does still exist. Today the greatest hope of many is to marry into a higher class or win the lottery. Of course there is the opportunity of making it big in sports or music. To many the path is crime or politics, or is that redundant.

    You live in a weird world which bears little resemblance to the one most people in America live in.

    You seem to have forgotten that most people succeed by working hard or getting an education and advancing on their merits – which is really surprisingly easy in our society.

    Class structure in decaying capitalism is becoming more rigid. The distribution of wealth is becoming more lopsided.

    I’m afraid you’ve been sucked in by leftist propaganda. In fact, upward mobility is stronger than ever and the gap between management and labor is smaller than ever. The super-wealthy are not really part of the domestic economy and shouldn’t be used as the basis for assessing disparity of wealth.

    This is true, but only true in pre-capitalist countries. In Iran it is the capitalists that rule. There the creation of opportunity for the masses is in opposition to capitalism. It is the capitalists there that use religion to keep their population in check. The real culprit is the capitalist class and not the Islamic religion.

    Don’t let fact interfere with your continuing attempts to shoehorn everything into your outdated marxist box. Iran is an overwhelmingly middle class society. It’s a country of small businesses, tradesmen, educated professionals and entrepreneurs. It has a GINI rating comparable to the US.

    This is also true in the U.S. and other developed, and imperialist states.

    Where is this ’empire’ that the US controls?

    Religion is used by the ruling class as a whole to keep people divided and ignorant. Again, it is not the religion, but those with class interests to defend.

    Please stop quoting dogma and try to think for yourself. Marxism itself functions much like a religion, and you’re talking like a brainwashed cultist.

    Dave

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Dave, Marx did have a point about class struggle, even if he did mischaracterize it and overemphasize its importance.

    Almost without exception, civilizations have always had their rich, powerful overlords and their peasant class. The emperors, kings and barons did not become so through agreeing politely with the rest of the population that they should be in charge. They became so by the sword.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Where is this ’empire’ that the US controls?

    You’re sitting in it.

    The United States covers a land area far larger than most of history’s great empires. There are very few, if any, of its States and territories which were not originally acquired through conquest.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    And while Dave can gee-whiz all he wants about the land of equal opportunity, Dave didn’t grow up in an inner-city black neighborhood or among illegal immigrants barely finding subsistence-level work.

    Marxist blather may have little relation to the real world; neither does happy talk about hard work inevitably leading to success.

  • http://www.taddow.net Buster Clip

    Horowitz is right about the indoctrination going on in american universities. You can’t go to a class nowadays without hearing bleeding heart mumbo jumbo in one form or another.

  • Clavos

    “Dave didn’t grow up in an inner-city black neighborhood”

    True, and sadly for too many of those who do, it’s a dead end, but not because of our being a capitalist system; the issue is far too complex for such a simplistic cause/effect answer.

    But you should ask Maurice, who grew up under decidedly trying circumstances and has done very well, pretty much exclusively by his own wit and effort, whether he looks at the US as a land of opportunity.

    Given his history, and in his role as one who saw opportunity and seized it on his own (both of which he has described on these threads), his opinion is quite informed on the matter.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Dave,

    What IS your experience with the lower classes? Are you one of Horatio Alger’s great success stories? Did you pull yourself up by your boot straps, put your shoulder to the wheel and scrabble up from the depths of poverty to your many and varied successes in life?

    If you did, you have obviously forgotten from whence you came.

    I did not come out of poverty, but I have witnessed a good deal of it from a variety of perspectives. The problem with you is that you see everything through your rose colored Republican glasses. You look around you and see all these fine, upstanding conservatives living the good life, enjoying the fruits of their investments.

    For the great majority of people in this country, investments aren’t even on the radar. For most, living in a comfortable suburban or Xurban home, driving high end wheels and having a house full of electronic toys is little more than a dream – something they are constantly reminded of when they see the ads for all that crap on the tube. Regardless of what you may believe, a great number of people in this country are poor. In many respects, even those who earn above the so called poverty line are just barely scraping by, living paycheck to paycheck, hoping against hope that they don’t get hurt or sick or laid off. Many of these people are little more than one missed paycheck away from foreclosure, or eviction, or having their car repossessed. Few of these people have any life or health insurance. Some can’t even manage auto insurance. Any disruption of their income, and/or even a small unexpected expense could send them into bankruptcy, or worse, into the street.

    Capitalism has obviously been great for you. But there are a lot of people, Americans, some are even Republicans, those who I spoke of elsewhere that were essentially fooled into believing the GOP had something for them, who would have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about.

    If you haven’t had the opportunity, watch an episode or two of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” program. Familiarize yourself with some of the truly shitty jobs some people do to keep us all fat and sassy. I’ve never heard them mention money on the show – what many of these people make, but I am reasonably certain that many make little, if any, more than minimum wage for the privilege of essentially wiping our asses, cleaning up our shit. The “American” experience for many has no resemblence to the antiseptic, carefree lives of the Cleavers or Ozzie and Harriet.

    B-tone

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    Dirty Jobs is a very entertaining show…but I certainly never thought of it as having a political dimension. The guy who does the different dirty job each week is such a smartass, sexy-comedian type…hard to take the show seriously. Though I do get your point.

  • Clavos

    “For the great majority of people in this country, investments aren’t even on the radar.”

    Not true, B-tone. These days, millions of workers are investors through their 401Ks.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Dave didn’t grow up in an inner-city black neighborhood or among illegal immigrants barely finding subsistence-level work.

    And you know this how, Handy? I did, in fact, spend a number of my teenage years living in the inner city of Washington DC. We weren’t poor, but poverty was only a block or two away, so I wasn’t exactly isolated from it.

    Today I live in a rural community with lots of poor neighbors and an awful lot of legal and illegal immigrants of all sorts. I rub elbows with all sorts of people on a daily basis, largely because of volunteer work I do in the community. And I actually talk to people – an often overlooked way of educating oneself on the lives of others.

    My direct experience is that most people work damned hard to succeed, and in most cases when they do work hard, they do advance economically, regardless of their background. Statistics seem to bear this observation out. As for illegals, with some few exceptions, most of them are among the hardest working people around and they also become successful as a result of their efforts.

    You look around you and see all these fine, upstanding conservatives living the good life, enjoying the fruits of their investments.

    No, I look around me and see hard working, mostly apolitical people who will do whatever it takes to make themselves successful and to provide a better life for their family. You clearly have NO idea where or how or among what kind of people I live.

    For the great majority of people in this country, investments aren’t even on the radar.

    Actually, 54% of the people in the nation currently own stocks either directly or through mutual funds in a 401K or other investment program.

    You are desperately out of touch with the reality of working and middle class America. You’re one of those guilty-feeling leftists who feels that they don’t deserve the things they have and bizarrely assumes that the working people of the nation cannot succeed without your help or the help of government, when nothing could be further from the truth.

    Regardless of what you may believe, a great number of people in this country are poor.

    Of course there are poor people in this country, but even our poor are better off than most people living in other countries, and we DO have institutions which care for the poor and help them get out of poverty if they’re willing to do some work themselves.

    In many respects, even those who earn above the so called poverty line are just barely scraping by, living paycheck to paycheck, hoping against hope that they don’t get hurt or sick or laid off. Many of these people are little more than one missed paycheck away from foreclosure, or eviction, or having their car repossessed. Few of these people have any life or health insurance. Some can’t even manage auto insurance. Any disruption of their income, and/or even a small unexpected expense could send them into bankruptcy, or worse, into the street.

    I lived exactly that way for a number of years. I was earning barely enough to get by. I had to roll start my car for almost a year because I couldn’t afford a $100 alternator. I had no health, life or auto insurance. After a while I got tired of it so I took a second, part-time job and earned my way out of my circumstances.

    Capitalism has obviously been great for you. But there are a lot of people, Americans, some are even Republicans, those who I spoke of elsewhere that were essentially fooled into believing the GOP had something for them, who would have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about.

    You’re just dead wrong. Working people DO understand exactly what I’m talking about, even if they’re Democrats, because they work and they know where the money they earn comes from and exactly how they can earn more money and the sacrifices they might have to make in order to do it.

    You’re never going to accept it, because you seem strongly insulated from reality, but most people who are poor or relatively low earning are that way by choice and realize it and have a pretty good idea what they could do to improve their lives.

    Those who are poor because of health issues or tragedy of one kind or another do exist, but they are very few in number.

    If you haven’t had the opportunity, watch an episode or two of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” program. Familiarize yourself with some of the truly shitty jobs some people do to keep us all fat and sassy.

    I’ve watched the show, and if you think those jobs are what poor people are doing you’re even more out of touch than I thought. The jobs shown on the show are unusual and entertaining and unpleasant, but they aren’t the kinds of jobs most poor people are doing. You need to familiarize yourself with the mindless drudgery of the grocery store checker or the hotel maid.

    : I’ve never heard them mention money on the show – what many of these people make, but I am reasonably certain that many make little, if any, more than minimum wage for the privilege of essentially wiping our asses, cleaning up our shit.

    Here are the wages for the most unpleasant jobs I can find listed at the BLS:

    Slaughterhouse workers – $10/hr
    Rock-Splitter in a Quarry – $13/hr
    Door to Door Sales – $11/hr
    Restroom Attendant – $9/hr + tips
    Pesticide Applier – $14/hr
    Home Health Aid – $10/hr

    Now these are obviously not the absolute worst jobs, but they’re the more common and generally unrewarding jobs. None of them are paid anything near minimum wage.

    Dave

  • Les Slater

    Seems like we’re still in feudal times. With the troubles at CitiCorp we see the exit of a Prince only to see a Sir Winffred enter.

  • Clavos

    Guess there’s only one Sandy Weill.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    My point was not that hard work is irrelevant to success, but that Dave’s generalizations go too far the other way. There really are people who start out with the deck stacked against them. Why deny this? Just as there are financially successful people whose greatest skill is cheating or trampling over others. That’s capitalism too.

    None of this means we should become socialists next week. But why not keep the rhetoric in check and the facts out front?

    And if 46% of the working population doesn’t invest in the stock market, your statistics almost belie your own point. Not a majority, but a very large minority are outside the gates of 401k Paradise. [Not so Paradise-like the last couple months, yikes!]

  • moonraven

    Baritone:

    Let’s put it this way–I am not a Muslim, although I spend time in Muslim countries and have a fair number of Muslim friends–but I don’t HAVE to be one to come down on their side–against you warmongering rapacious gringos.

  • Martin Lav

    This trend towards radicalization of Islam (I like Shariaists) I believe is based on economic inequality and as a way to keep the classes in check. I lived in Iran for a number of years and the growing middle-class there is going to be the savior to this extremism only if the US government and radicals like the author of this blog and Horowitz and Nalle and Clavos and such are quited by left leaning moderates who have the brains and the will to point out another way.
    This whole subject of Muslim Europe is similar to the “Browning” of the US and what is happening with Illegal Immigration in the US. The ruling class is threatened by the change or perceived threat to their culture, while all the while complaining that white/European kids won’t work nowadays. Life is grand and we can all climb up the economic ladder as long as we have enough donkeys to pull the load. Well the donkeys are all fed by their religion and those who preach this religion are the ones who have the power. The chickens will come home to roost and since we aren’t allowing the middle class in Iran to foment their own brand of Islamism and we are allowing unfettered importation of cheap labor into our own country, the days of our own feudal system are numbered.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    My point was not that hard work is irrelevant to success, but that Dave’s generalizations go too far the other way. There really are people who start out with the deck stacked against them. Why deny this?

    I didn’t deny it. Certainly it’s harder to succeed if you are brought up poor and uneducated and in an environment where hard work isn’t valued. But the point is that even the worst conditions don’t stop everyone. And the success of those who do overcome the worst conditions, shows that it’s possible and that it can be possible for even more people.

    Just as there are financially successful people whose greatest skill is cheating or trampling over others. That’s capitalism too.

    I’d say that’s human nature, whether capitalism is involved or not. You can still trample over others to advance yourself in a complete non-capitalist system.

    None of this means we should become socialists next week. But why not keep the rhetoric in check and the facts out front?

    The ‘facts’ are led by the simple reality that socialism as a system does not permit individuals to advanced based on merit. That alone condemns the system.

    And if 46% of the working population doesn’t invest in the stock market, your statistics almost belie your own point. Not a majority, but a very large minority are outside the gates of 401k Paradise.

    Is the glass half full or half empty? But think of it in historical context. In what other society now or in the past, have so many people been part of the investor class?

    Dave

  • moonraven

    Nalle would now have us believe that his boorish, narrowminded shout-em-down behavior–the verbal equivalent of the running roughshod behavior of savage capitalism–is JUST HUMAN NEATURE.

    If he is right, I will definitely cheer the end of this species!

  • Baronius

    Lav – thanks. I like the term “shariaism”, even though it’s a fake word. I’ve seen “caliphism” too, but I could see that word being offensive to many Muslims. It would be the equivalent of “popery” to a Catholic.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    “Shariaism” = too hard to spell and pronounce.

    “Islamist” says what needs to be said, preceded by “radical” and/or “violent” where appropriate.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Dave,

    No, I am not at all “out of touch.” I know of what I speak. You roll out all the same old saws about leftist guilt. It’s not guilt. It’s more aptly described as social conscience. But when you make absurd statements like “…most people who are poor or relatively low earning are that way by choice…” I realize how little you understand about humanity – how little you grasp about being profoundly poor and in effect detached from the main stream of society. Such a belief is little different than that of religious fundamentalists who claim that homosexuality is “a choice.” The sad thing is that you apparently believe it. That is the means by which you block or eradicate any sense of guilt, as you put it, or social conscience or responsibility as I do, and justify your own greed, your own unabashed quest for wealth.

    A lot of very poor people do in fact work hard, if they can find a job. It is your cynical assumption by your own statement that such people “choose” to be poor consciously because they are inherent slackers. For anyone to be energized or forward thinking, there must be at least an element of hope. Many poor people in this country and even more profoundly elsewhere in the world live without hope.

    But your Pollyannaish view is that by golly they should just “pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and start all over again. Cause we got high hopes. High hopes. High apple pie in the sky hopes.” Or not.

    A note about 401K investors: What a crock. It’s true that 401K plans are available, even from companies like Mickey Ds and other such. Eligibility requirements vary and are based upon the actual wage or salary an individual makes. The contribution for a part time employee making, say $6.50 an hour is laughably small. These people having 401Ks may serve to bloat the statistics, but does not an investor make.

    There is one interesting feature to Islamic law that doesn’t allow for income to be made from interest. I know they have found many ways around this law, but the spirit of it was originally based in the notion that one is not to profit from the labor of others with no actual input to those efforts other than plopping money on the table.

    B-tone

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    No, I am not at all “out of touch.” I know of what I speak.

    Yet the way you describe the world around you doesn’t match reality.

    You roll out all the same old saws about leftist guilt. It’s not guilt. It’s more aptly described as social conscience.

    Call it what you like, but when it’s based on your personal feelings rather than objective reality, it really does go beyond just ‘conscience’ to being more of a complex.

    But when you make absurd statements like “…most people who are poor or relatively low earning are that way by choice…” I realize how little you understand about humanity – how little you grasp about being profoundly poor and in effect detached from the main stream of society.

    You clearly have no idea and didn’t understand what I was saying at all. Regardless of whether they are aware of it or whether you’re willing to admit it, must people are poor as a result of choices which they made. Everyone has opportunities offered to them. If they recognize them and choose to take advantage of them they can better themselves. The opportunities may be fewer if you come from a background of extreme poverty, but they are still there.

    Such a belief is little different than that of religious fundamentalists who claim that homosexuality is “a choice.” The sad thing is that you apparently believe it. That is the means by which you block or eradicate any sense of guilt, as you put it, or social conscience or responsibility as I do, and justify your own greed, your own unabashed quest for wealth.

    You really, really don’t get it at all. I have made conscious decisions in my life NOT to pursue wealth at the expense of other things and to opt for a certain type of lifestyle instead of following a course which was laid out for me which could have led to greater wealth. Doesn’t mean I’m poor, but I can see the choices I’ve made which didn’t optimize my earning potential. To suggest that I’m driven by greed is about the most laughable thing I’ve ever heard. I spend more time doing charity work than I do working to earn a living.

    A lot of very poor people do in fact work hard, if they can find a job. It is your cynical assumption by your own statement that such people “choose” to be poor consciously because they are inherent slackers.

    I never said they were slackers. They just make poor decisions. Your mistake is in assuming that being poor must mean that they are there because of unseen forces outside of themselves. That’s usually not the case.

    For anyone to be energized or forward thinking, there must be at least an element of hope. Many poor people in this country and even more profoundly elsewhere in the world live without hope.

    So let’s GIVE them hope! Sounds like a fantastic plan to me. It’s what I want to work towards. Help them make better choices and see where opportunity lies and move on to better lives. That’s an excellent thing to try to accomplish.

    A note about 401K investors: What a crock. It’s true that 401K plans are available, even from companies like Mickey Ds and other such. Eligibility requirements vary and are based upon the actual wage or salary an individual makes. The contribution for a part time employee making, say $6.50 an hour is laughably small. These people having 401Ks may serve to bloat the statistics, but does not an investor make.

    Please find me a McDonalds employee who earnes $6.50 an hour. Again you show how out of touch with the real world you are. And 401K programs don’t limit how much you can put in of your own money. They just limit how much an employer is going to match, if it’s a matching program.

    Also, if you assume that the 54% of the population who are invested in the market are those who earn higher incomes, that group wouldn’t even include most McDonalds employees. We’d be talking about people earning about double that wage as a starting point.

    It always irks me when people use McDonalds employees or something equivalent as their example of the ‘poor’, when the truth is that the overwhelming majority of McDonalds employees and employees in similar occupations are short-term hires like students and people working second jobs, and most of them move on to other better jobs within a matter of months. The average fast food worker leaves his job after 12 weeks. That’s how long it takes to find something better paying. Those who DO stick around usually do so because they get on the management track very quickly so they have an incentive to stay longer at higher pay.

    Dave

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Please find me a McDonalds employee who earnes $6.50 an hour.

    I have plenty of clients who work for McDonald’s at $7.50 an hour, which is above your figure but is the minimum wage here in California. Confidentiality forbids me from naming names, however: you’ll have to take my word for it.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    No, I believe you, Dr. D. I’ve seen the figures on McDonalds wages. Nationwide the lowest wage any of their workers are paid is $7.00 an hour and that’s in the poorest areas of the country. Here in Austin they start considerably higher than that. Still not exactly raking in the cash, but pretty good for an entry level job which you’ll probably leave after a few months.

    Dave

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Dave,

    You know nothing of my “reality.” You know nothing of where I live and work. Oh, and thanks for the two bit psychology. Again, you demonstrate your lack of any grasp of human behaviour and motivations. You believe you capture the essence of humanity in facts and figures which you love to lay out without any notion that such figures can be and often are skewed to reflect the bias or agenda of the entity producing them. If it’s in black and white, it must be true.

    People are ultimately responsible for their particular situations, but poor decisions by many people are often the result of poor education, long standing depravation and the lack of a level playing field.

    I knew you would challenge my $6.50 an hour figure, so I inquired at a nearby Mickey Ds as to their usual starting wage. Two of the people working while I was in the store said that they had, in fact, started at $6.50 an hour, both within the last 3 months. As near as I could tell, the average wage at this store was around $7.75 per hour. Keep in mind that franchise operations are not bound by the same strictures as company owned stores. None of the 4 or 5 people I quizzed had yet been offered enrollment in a 401K plan. Two of them didn’t even know what a 401K is. Your assumption that all of the 54% of 401K enrollees earn more than twice the minimum wage is just that – an assumption.

  • Martin Lav

    Dave,
    You sure there’s not a maximum pretax deduction of $15,000 per year per employee for a 401k? Not a MATCH, but a wage deferral.

  • REMF

    “Yet the way you describe the world around you doesn’t match reality.”
    – Dave Nalle

    Always nice to be lectured on world reality by a guy who lives in a fortified compound…

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    You know nothing of my “reality.” You know nothing of where I live and work.

    Well, you assumed all sorts of things about where I live and how I live so I thought I ought to return the favor. I do sometimes wonder if these bizarre differences in experiences with what life in America is like may be regional. I’ve really only lived in four parts of the country for extended periods of time, and although they all have plenty of poverty, they do all share the characteristic that most of the poor are hard working and seem to have hope, despite the fact that they are demographically and economically very different regions.

    I have to admit that I have not lived in appalachia or the rust belt where America may look very different. Where I can I do research to try to shore up my knowledge and verify if things are different elsewhere from my experience. My understanding of the rust belt is that things there are notably worse than in the rest of the country, but that most of the problems people have there could quickly be solved by just moving the hell out as many have done. Appalachia appears to be a self-contained economic and cultural bubble and what goes on there has little relationship to anything in the rest of the world.

    Oh, and thanks for the two bit psychology. Again, you demonstrate your lack of any grasp of human behaviour and motivations. You believe you capture the essence of humanity in facts and figures which you love to lay out without any notion that such figures can be and often are skewed to reflect the bias or agenda of the entity producing them. If it’s in black and white, it must be true.

    As I noted above, my understanding of human nature comes from studying and interracting with a very wide variety of people. The facts and figures come in to explain the observations and try to understand why things are the way they are.

    People are ultimately responsible for their particular situations, but poor decisions by many people are often the result of poor education, long standing depravation and the lack of a level playing field.

    Sure, I don’t disagree. But there are enough examples of people overcoming the worst situations to suggest that it can be done. And although the playing field is not and can likely never be completely levelled, there really are not groups of people who are systematically and overwhelmingly oppressed in the US. The one real key factor is, of course, education. And as our education system gets worse and worse inequities in the availability of opportunity become worse. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve written so much on education reform.

    I knew you would challenge my $6.50 an hour figure, so I inquired at a nearby Mickey Ds as to their usual starting wage. Two of the people working while I was in the store said that they had, in fact, started at $6.50 an hour, both within the last 3 months. As near as I could tell, the average wage at this store was around $7.75 per hour. Keep in mind that franchise operations are not bound by the same strictures as company owned stores.

    When I previously called McDonalds stores around the country for research on an article I couldn’t find any starting that low, but I couldn’t call every store. The BLS also couldn’t find any areas of the country where fastfood workers started below $7 per hour in their last survey, but as I understand it their methodology doesn’t consider someone a worker until they’ve been there for at least 3 months, so fast promotion would make them miss some starting wages, and McDonalds promotes VERY quickly.

    Out of curiosity, what area do you live in. Maybe in the future I can use it as a worst-case scenario for study.

    None of the 4 or 5 people I quizzed had yet been offered enrollment in a 401K plan.

    Really? Enrollment in McDonalds 401K plan is mandatory. People are automatically enrolled when they are hired unless they specifically opt out. Maybe that’s not true of franchise stores.

    Two of them didn’t even know what a 401K is.

    Which doesn’t exactly surprise me. I think that given the largely temporary and entry level jobs at McD’s 401Ks are the least of their concerns.

    Your assumption that all of the 54% of 401K enrollees earn more than twice the minimum wage is just that – an assumption.

    Well sure, but I bet it’s a pretty damned accurate assumption.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    You sure there’s not a maximum pretax deduction of $15,000 per year per employee for a 401k?

    No, I know for a fact that there’s a maximum limit per employee per year. My wife exceeded it last year and I had to explain to her to stop putting so damned much money in her 401K and open an IRA.

    Dave

  • Martin Lav

    Hmmm…..I must of mis-understood you before then. So, $15k maximum with an annual growth of let’s say 10%, gets you how much in retirement after 30 years?

  • Lumpy

    Ooh ooh. Can I answer?

    Off the top of my head about $3 million.

  • Clavos

    Well, ya might have to tighten the ol’ belt a little in your lifestyle, but with $3M plus SS, ya might (just might, mind you) be able to pay the rent and put some beans on the table.

    Forget buyin’ a yacht, tho (or, at least not one costing more than $200K or so).

  • Martin Lav

    I wonder what my point was now…..

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Clavos. With $3 mil in the bank and earning 10% interest a year, I can finance my $1 mil yacht on a 5 year note and still have $100K to live on per year. That seems reasonable. I wonder if the SS would be enough to cover the mooring fees.

    Dave

  • bliffle

    presuming All things being equal, like no inflation. But they never do stay equal, and inflation can kill you.

    I remember guys 40 years ago making plans to minimize spending, saving up 100k and retiring on the interest. Just the same. And those guys talked exactly the same as the neocons on BC.

    It won’t work.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    This thread certainly has wound itself a long way from “Islamofascism,” eh?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    That can happen when we hit on something more interesting to talk about, handy.

    Remember how we tend to hijack Selwyn Duke’s more xenophobic articles to talk about sports or other topics? (I notice Selwyn hasn’t posted anything for a while, by the way…!)

  • brian

    What ever do you mean by fascism?

    here’s a definition:
    ‘The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism–ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.[18][19][20]’
    Corporatism

    ‘and the fanatical Jew-hatred among Muslims, etc.’

    I wonder if AIPAC and the mass murder of arabs in the middle east by israeli jews is responsible for this?

    You mention Horowitz, a muslim hating jew, yet dont take umbrage with his fanaticism…

    Better luck with your next screed…

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Back to Mickey D’s: In fairness, we should remember that a lot of McDonald’s restaurants are run as franchises, and those companies may very well pay their workers minimum wage even though that might not be the McDonald’s Corporation’s policy.

    Still, $6.50 an hour, $7.00 an hour: big whoop. It’s still peanuts, especially once your deductions have been taken out.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Yes, if we don’t discuss McD’s then we’d have to discuss brian’s anti-semitism.

    My point on the McD’s wages is that franchise or not, there are very few places in the country where you can actually hire anyone for less than $7 an hour. In Austin you can’t get fast food workers for less than $8 an hour and then you have to take illegals who speak no English. Your bilingual supervisor to go with them is going to cost a lot more.

    As for deductions, don’t forget that when you’re earning $7/hr you aren’t paying taxes. You’re below the cutoff for income tax so all they’re paying is SS and Medicare, so it’s not as big a bite.

    And let me tell you, it’s worth looking at how illegals deal with low wages. At $8 an hour they make enough to send a quarter to half their income home to Mexico. They do this by sharing living space, carpooling, living in extended families – in short by economizing the way that EVERYONE in America did 100 years ago – using skills we seem to have forgotten in the pampered luxury of the modern era.

    It’s a good thing we have immigrants, because they’re the only people who still knows what it means to work hard and live on a budget. They deserve to inherit America.

    Dave

  • troll

    …y ellos

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Dave,

    I wouldn’t make too much of a deal of Mexicans sharing living space. I’ve been in a # of homes – 1 to 2 bedroom units housing anywhere from 8 to 15 people, perhaps more. It may be different in the southwestern tier states owing to the closer juxtaposition of them to Mexico, but here most of the situations I noted above weren’t “extended families” so much as groups of people, mostly men, who are here simply to work. Here in Indy, we do have a thriving Hispanic community. Many have in fact pulled themselves up, just as many of the southeast asian immigrants did in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. But many, probably the majority, live, if not in abject poverty, are living precariously hand to mouth. Of course a number of them are illegals which adds to their plight.

    Personally, I think it’s great that this country is truly becoming a “melting pot.” It is a step toward an ecumenism of cultures, races and religions which eventually, if fully realized would minimize bigotry and hatred based on these factors. While we’re still talking about imperfect human beings who are nothing if not adept at finding things to agrue about, such blending would be a definitive step forward.

    B-tone

  • moonraven

    Yes, Nalle they DO deserve to inherit the US.

    And then we Native Americans will deal with them–or brothers–in our own way.

  • bliffle

    I’ve seen those conditions, too, and they’ve become more common in CA in recent years. And they seem to be more permanent, also. I think mostly because conditions in Mexico have gotten worse over the past many years. Everyone of these people that I have met would rather go home, and in fact many of them DO go home to recharge themselves and to remember what they are struggling for, their families and communities. It’s amazing that a person would have the courage and will to go back to their village and once again face the danger and difficulty of sneaking back across the border.

    They DO contribute directly to their communities, too, as well as their families. There is a government Matching Funds program in Mexico where someone who contributes money to a community civic project will be matched by both the Feds and the District gov, so their money is multiplied by 3, There a few hundred $million raised each year this way.

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