Thursday, October 9, 2008

Re: Something Not About Sex

I've been more or less avoiding writing about the election here because... Well, a few reasons, I suppose. For one thing, it's just so big. Where do you really start to write a stupid little blog that will just sum it all up. There are so many different facets worthy of discussion, and I am hardly well educated on any one of them.

For another thing, it's just too mainstream for me. Everyone's writing about it. I'm like that pnk kid in the back of the class with a mohawk who is too cool to talk about all of the things everyone else is talking about. But not because they don't interest me. Just because everyone else is talking about them and so they are lame.

But then Mike wrote a thing about it. And I disagreed with some major points that he had made, and so I decided that this was a wonderful opportunity for a sort of virtual debate. And I just love to argue.

Mike's post is here if you want to read it before reading mine. There's a Sarah Silverman video that I may be discussing, but sure as hell won't be embedding. So you may want to check it out.
Originally, I was just going to post a comment to his blog. But then I realized I had lots to say, and it just wouldn't fit inside a comment. It deserved its own post. Here's as far as my comment got, and then I will continue from there:

Citing the Sarah Silverman video and saying "Neat how she just sort of says he has a good foreign policy and will help Israel and just sort of doesn't explain how. Cool" is very much like the politicians you are lambasting for doing the same thing. That is taking what she said entirely out of context. It's not like this was a hard hitting expose on the reasons that you should vote for Barack Obama. This was Sarah Silverman being her usual not-very-funny self. The message of the entire thing was "Sarah Silverman is going to vote for Barack Obama, and so should you." It was not "Sarah Silverman is going to vote for Barack Obama and here are the very important and well thought out reasons why."

Now, the point you were trying to make is that the candidates themselves say this sort of...

And now, the exciting conclusion!:

thing all the time as well. The fact that we don't know where Barack Obama really stands on these sorts of issues is an important thing to discuss, because it is more or less true. The candidates don't really say very much to us, and that's because of a lot of things.

For one thing, I like the way Lior phrased this. Listening to either of them speak or debate each other is like listening to an argument in a relationship. They know what the other person is trying to say, and they realize that the point probably has some merit. But they purposefully and willfully take it out of context, or rephrase it in such a way as to make it seem silly. One could say (and I would agree) that this is what debating is. I don’t think there's really anything wrong or sinister about the candidates doing this. You take your opponent's argument and whittle it down to the lamest sounding 2 second explanation you can, and then you tease it. That is, when you get down to it, a large part of what debating is. The problem here is that because of this offensive onslaught against each other's policies, we get little sound bites about an inane version of their policies instead of a greater understand of what the policy is supposed to have meant. Take, for example, the tax plans.

When watching the debates, or the McCain campaign speak, Obama's tax plan sounds awful. "Obama wants to raise your taxes. In a time where the economy is collapsing and you are having a hard enough time paying your bills as it is, do you really want higher taxes?"

Well, that makes sense. Obama wants to raise taxes to pay down the debt and eventually get the economy back on track, but in the short term, I won't be able to afford it. And what does the long term matter if by that time the higher taxes have put me out on the street?

Except that's not what Obama is proposing. If you look at the two different tax plans, yes, it is true that McCain will lower taxes on all of the tax brackets and Obama will raise them in the higher tax brackets. It is also true that taxes will, in total, be lowered more by the McCain plan than by the Obama plan. Bt that is only part of the whole truth.
The truth is, McCain's tax plain lowers taxes more on the wealthier population than on the middle class and poor population. See, a 1% cut on someone making $250,000 comes to $2,500, while a 1% cut for someone making $30,000 a year comes to $300. Still, though, it is less expensive for the government to cut the taxes of the higher tax bracket than the lower, because there are so fewer of them.

So, in order to ct everyone's taxes, the federal government would have huge bill to pay. McCain proposes cutting everyone's taxes, but the cuts become smaller and smaller as they get further down the line of income. Because it's cheaper to give the smaller group of wealthier people a tax cut.

Obama's plan raises taxes on the people making over $250,000. The money that is raised by taxing those people, the people who can afford it, more is used to give the people making less a higher tax cut. So, with Obama's plan, while it isn't false to say that he is raising taxes, would more accurately be said to be raising taxes on the super wealthy to give a larger tax cut to the average America, who needs it more. His plan will cost the government less, and give the average American more. But you need to hear all of that for the plan to make sense, and you just don't get that level of detail from the debates or speeches. Because it's sort of hard to follow and sort of hard to understand.

Now, the media should be breaking it down for us like that. But it isn't. Well, why not? For mainly the same reasons. It's dense, and most people won't follow it or even care to. The media covers the much sexier, but less important, stories of "what did Governor Palin say that was idiotic today?" I watched the coverage of the VP debate, and I don't really know what was said in it. All I know is that Palin didn't fuck up horribly. Because that is what was important from a media standpoint. We were expecting a spectacle, and all we got was this crummy debate about issues.

Not that I think watching the debate would have made me much more intelligent about the issues. Like I said, the debates are more about sound bites and making the other person's ideas sound stupid and trivial than they are about informing the American public on the issues that they will be voting for.

So, whose fault is this? Well, it's Emily's.

Emily is not a stupid person. I like to tease her and call her dumb, but she's not. She's perfectly intelligent, and fully capable of understanding the complexities of a political debate if she wanted to. And I have a feeling she does understand more than I give her credit for. I think she knows more about the real issues than I pretend to think she knows. And the reason is, she doesn't get excited about that stuff. What she gets excited about is the latest clip of the stupid think Palin said. Haha! She couldn't list the newspapers she reads! What a moron!

This sort of thing, while it has its place, is distracting from the things that are actually important. Like her policies on drilling, or abortion, or foreign policy, or the economy. Bt those things have received a back seat to her apparent stupidity and the fact that she's attractive and winks at you a lot.

And whose fault is that? Like I said, it's Emily's. But what I mean is that it's all of our faults. There's a time and a place for entertainment, and while a general election is, in some respects, both the time and the place for it... Can we please keep that time and place to the late night shows and comedy routines? Places that are actually meant for entertainment?

The reason the media doesn't report on the things that really matter is because the American public is largely disinterested in the things that really matter. And it works in a huge circle that ends in a lack of information. The media will not report on the intricacies of the tax plan, because the public won't watch it. The will report on the stupid sound bites and gaffs that the candidates make, because the public eats that shit up.

The candidates will not talk about the intricacies of their tax plan, because the American public isn't really watching anyway. The public finds out about what the candidates said from the news, and the news is only reporting on the quick and easy things to understand and laugh about.

If we were more demanding of our media, and by extension our political leaders, then this shit would stop. I'm sure that the analysts and anchors on news programs (the ones that are actually balanced... Not O'Reilly or stuff like that) want to discuss some real important issues. But they can't because they need their ratings to stay on the air. And so Washington just becomes another brand of Hollywood. And, ultimately, it is the fault of the public for not demanding more.

In the coverage I was watching of the VP debate, the pundits were asked if they think Obama is going to reveal the details of his economic plan. And their response was "No, probably not." See ... There is no reason for him to do that. So far, all he's really said is pretty much the same things as Sarah Silverman said in that video. I have an economic plan, and it's a goodun. I'm gonna go through the budget page by page and personally reform it!

And that's it. And we won't get more until he is in office, because there is no impetus for him to reveal more, and significant risk in doing so. At the moment, we are satisfied with what he has been saying. Sounds good. He's gonna make it better. He's ahead in the polls, and if he reveals more there's a chance people won't like it. So, don't talk about it.

If we demanded more of our media, and of our politicians, he wouldn't be able to get away with that. The Sarah Silverman video was fine... She's just a shitty comedian. The video wasn't presented as a hard hitting look at the issues. It was supposed to be, more than anything, funny. But, the problem lies in the fact that the actual candidates don't find it necessary to divulge much more information than that video does.

I have just one more, semi-related topic before I put this to bed. I know I haven't done a good job of addressing the issues, or even really making it abundantly apparent who my choice is. But that wasn't what this post was about. I never meant for it to be. Like I said, there are many facets to this election, and I choose lack of information and how it is Emily's (and the rest of our) faults. If you want actual information on some of the real issues, you’re going to have to do some independent research. Cuz the candidates aren't talking about it, and the mass media sure as hell isn't talking about it. And neither am I.

But the last thing I want to talk about is Jim's perception of the bailout. Jim is willfully ignorant about politics. Let's not get into that at the moment, except as a point of fact. So, his mom told him that the bailout is going to cost each taxpayer $20,000, and he's lucky he isn't paying taxes at the moment.

I find it very interesting that this is the way that is coming across. That the bailout is going to be this horrible burden on individual people in that manner. What that meant to Jim, and I'm sure what it meant to millions of Americans, because Jim is no idiot, is that it would literally cost each taxpayer $20,000. Like everyone was going to get a $20,000 bill in the mail on Monday and have to figure some way to pay it. And that's just ludicrous.

First of all, we pay our taxes and then they go into a big pool l and the government basically decides what to do with it. Infrastructure, schools, law enforcement, hospitals, FEA, military, and yes... Corporate bailouts if necessary. If the government spends more son any of those things, they have less for everything else. But if the government decides to spend our tax dollars on a corporate bailout, we aren't all literally sent a bill in the mail. It just means there's less money left in the pool for all the other things.

And, to say that it costs each taxpayer $20,000 is misleading in the first place. As we discussed earlier, the rich pay far more taxes than the poor. For one thing, each percentage of tax is higher for them, and for another they have a higher percent of income tax that they pay. So, dividing $700,000,000 evenly between every taxpaying citizen and coming up with the $20,000 is misleading, at best.

But, in case you thought you were going to be getting a huge bill in the mail that you were going to have to get a second mortgage to cover, that's just not the way it works.

Our schools are just going to have to live with those 30 year old textbooks a while longer, that's all.

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