Friday, April 30, 2010

Immigration Reform

This has been an issue for the last week or so, and I've been hesitant to write about it, mostly for lack of information. But I've done my homework and come to the conclusion that this is a bad thing. There are three main reasons for this.

First, the law that was passed allows local law enforcement to demand proof of citizenship of anyone they suspect to be an illegal immigrant. While this sounds good on paper, there are a few problems. The main one is that there is no outstanding criteria for determining whether an individual may be an illegal immigrant. In fact, a legal immigrant who happens to be caught without papers could be shipped back to their country of origin. This paves the way for racial profiling, despite assurances that it won't.

Second, the law gives local law enforcement these powers that are normally reserved for federal agents. In the past, only federal agents could make the decision to send a person out of the country. Now, beat cops will have the same power. If anyone thinks this is a good idea, how would you feel if your local law enforcement officers were given the ability to collect taxes and census information, practice imminent domain, and run surveillance on you without a warrant?

Lastly, the law sets up a dangerous precedent for future legislation, in that we may see more of this "Show me your papers" behavior all over the U.S. While it is important that we find and deport illegal immigrants, it is equally important for us to set up legal avenues for entering this country. An example I have is local farming. In my area, agriculture is a huge part of the economy, takes up the vast majority of the area, and employs a sizable chunk of the local work force. Many times, there are simply not enough people in the area to fill all of the farm positions. Because of this, many farmers end up employing illegals (I live about as far from Mexico as it is possible to be in the U.S., and there are still quite a few illegals in this area). As an alternative, I would suggest that there be work programs designed for bringing immigrants into the county on a part-time basis. This is done with Jamaica every year for the apple harvest in this area. The workers are here from late August through most of December, make money that is sent directly home, and then return after the season is over. Why can't this model be used for Mexican immigrants as well?

I know that many Mexican immigrants are hard working, but that there are also many that are not, and just want to bleed our system. To compensate for this, I would say that migrant workers may only live in this country for six months out of the year, unless their employer requests that they remain, in which case they can get an extension. Then, they have to return for at least six months before returning. They must send their weekly time sheets and copies of their pay stubs to local law enforcement to prove that they are working. Also, they are not eligible for any benefits beyond those that are offered at their job. The government office that would handle the work program would collect requests for positions in agriculture, food service, etc., file the requests in the given category, and make sure that the foreign government is made aware of these positions. Those who wish to must apply for a specific position, and will be interviewed to make sure they are well-equipped for the job. When a person leaves the U.S. from a sanctioned job, that position must be made available to them if they reapply for the position at the end of their home stay, unless the company has eliminated the position and withdrawn their request for help, or if the company expresses dissatisfaction with the employee.

Of course, this whole idea hinges on government. I believe that only the government has the capability to fix immigration and turn it into an important investment for our country. We know it's not going to stop, so why don't we benefit from it, make the ways to get into this country more free, and do away with the overarching legislation that targets innocent individuals.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

More to do with financial reform

This editorial presents some of the views held by American citizens regarding the regulation overhaul that is currently stalled in Congress. What truly bothers me about this is that there is no effort to reconcile the differences that the GOP claims they want to rectify. They are not making an effort to voice their concerns over the bill, and the Dems are not offering resolutions. Instead, both sides are sticking to their guns, and we get a stalemate.

The fact that the GOP is blocking this from even being debated should be evidence enough that they are more interested in the welfare of Wall St. than American citizens. Regulations that are designed to protect the investments of individuals is being ignored or attacked as being too limiting. This is not how regulations are put in place. Regulations are meant to be limiting. We need our financial institutions to have limits, to prevent another disaster like this one.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The plight of GS and reform

The scapegoat's scapegoat is up on the chopping block, the masses are screaming for broker blood, and we're all led to believe that the trial and subsequent downfall of a single financial institution is going to pave the way for progress.

The truth is, GS was painted as the problem when it was convenient, despite the fact that they are only one of nearly a dozen failing or fraudulent financial groups operating on Wall St. currently. JP Morgan Chase, for example, is facing a similar indictment, but is not getting nearly as much publicity. And now, GS has called up Fabrice Tourre, a broker that handled the most recent scandalous actions out of the investment firm for which they are now in the harsh spotlight.

And while this is happening, there is an ongoing battle for financial reform. Of course, the two things are linked, the timing is more than coincidence, and there is a single underlying plan for this recent turn of events: to get reform passed. The Obama administration has been buoyed by its "win" in healthcare, and is now trying to tackle it's second giant, but is meeting even stiffer resistance. The difference is that, this time, they seem to have public opinion on their side.

So what does this mean for Goldman and others like them? For starters, there's going to be a lot more regulation, fewer loopholes, more security for investors and lower-class americans, and overall lower profits. The reforms call for an end to bailouts, a kind of communal pool of money to be used to help liquidate companies that get into financial trouble, so that they do not bring down the economy (again), and has legislation to make transactions of derivatives and other investments more transparent and accounted for by setting up government panels to oversee these transactions.

So, why is it that GS is being painted as the poster child of corruption on Wall St. It's true that they cheated and bet against their own success, but if truth be told, this is a very common occurance for big investment firms. The fact is, GS was the easiest target, the one that we could afford to lose, a great test case for financial reform, and they didn't have any ties to one group that they didn't have to another (they contributed equally to dems and reps in the most recent and in past elections). GS is going to be the guinea pig for the new regulations, and will most likely be the first through the liquidation process (if that part of the bill passes - it is currently being opposed by the reps, of course).

These regulations are important and vital to our continued survival in global economics and finance, but they need to be shown to cover a broader range of groups. By focusing on the bad choices of GS, the media and SEC are taking focus from the actions of other firms that were just as bad if not worse. If they want to implement major overhauls, why not probe each investment group on Wall St., search their books, and reorganize everything to fit the regulations.

Monday, April 26, 2010

More news about FR reform

This is an article that appeared on Reuters this morning. It describes the effort of a moderate Republican attempting to push debate regarding derivative regulations. By the rules of Senate debate, Dems need at least one rep on their side to join them in order to start debates on this topic.

What struck me is that a rep is the one calling for a debate, yet all reps have vowed to oppose dems on this bill. If that's the case, the reps are trying to push dems into a situation where they cannot move one way or the other. If they choose not to open debates, the reps will accuse them of acting independently of the conservative senators. If they attempt to debate, the reps will block it by refusing support, and it will die on the floor. Either way, the dems are set up to lose.

Why are Reps so against reform? This article does a brief synopsis of their views on regulations. Essentially, Reps are stuck in an older view that patching the existing system is sufficient to maintain the balance in the marketplace, and deregulation is the key to continued prosperity and growth. On one hand, keeping the system deregulated allows big business to operate in its own best interests, allows them to grow and make more money, expand, provide jobs, and stimulate the economy. On the other hand, deregulation leads to abuse of the system, illegal and fraudulent practice, hoarding of assets by the CEO's and other higher-ups in the business sector, and leads to a general raping of the middle and lower-class wallets by the upper class. By adopting regulations, the government can ensure, at least on paper, that businesses cannot take gross advantage of the working classes. This allows the growth of the economy because those in the lower class have more money to spend, and don't need as much financial support. Spending more money means more money going to businesses. Also, regulations keep monopolies from forming, and keeps a healthy amount of competition alive. When deregulation has happened in the past, it has always been followed by a mass acquisition phase as large corporations buy out smaller competitors, until the market is dominated by a small handful of massive corporations. While this is still considered a "competitive" environment, wouldn't it be more competitive with smaller, local companies competing rather than international conglomerates.

It should be a warning sign to people that the very institution that is about to be regulated by reform is fighting that reform tooth and nail. Here is an article that provides some alternative ideas and criticism of the regulation reform bill as-is. Further criticism can be found in this article from Fox News. The basic premise is that the Dems are fighting back, trying to force the GOP into a no-win situation by setting them against the will of the people. Unfortunately for the Reps, they're already there. The people want these reforms and safeguards to protect their investments. While it's true that neither side wants to give anything up, the Dems are at least attempting to compromise on some things, to get the votes.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

editorial on financial reform

Despite a slow start, the Obama administration is starting to tackle the major problems that are facing our country, primarily economic regulations and health care. With one major problem mostly taken care of, Obama has started focusing on financial regulation reforms for "Wall St.". This has sparked a second, somewhat more subtle struggle between the administration and those who oppose it (i.e. reps and a couple of others).

Obama has come out with a plan for major financial regulations that would make a second economic collapse such as the most recent one impossible. There has been a lot of disinformation floating around about these regulations, what they will do and won't do, and how they'll help. Most of the negative impact stuff is being put out by the opposition who are trying to distort the wording of the bill (sound familiar?). I admit that I haven't read into this new legislation as much as I would like to, but the idea is this: why would a group of politicians put forth a bill that is so blatantly wrong that regular citizen's understand this? Is it not the way of all politicians to work in ways that are only known to lawyers, law-makers, and the elite few who have the gift of intuition into all things political? No politician is going to put forth a piece of legislation that comes right out and explains how they are going to benefit from its passage.

Another point. Why should anyone except the American people benefit from a financial regulations reform bill. For some reason, regulations have been seen as a hindrance to business, but is business supposed to be the focus of government? Reps are constantly talking about how the government should not be interfering with business. If that's true, government should not be connected to businesses in any way. Businessmen should not become politicians, businesses should not get tax cuts or incentives, lobbyists for corporations should be barred from capital hill, and all campaign and personal contributions that are given by companies or their CEO's should be refused by politicians. That way, there's no government interference in the natural course of the business sector. Somehow, I don't see this happening. Firms on Wall St. in particular are huge contributors to political campaigns for both sides. The focus of this bill, as stated above, should be to protect the interests of the people, particularly those who cannot protect their own investments against fraudulent practice (i.e. most of us).

So, the basic idea for the bill is that it is supposed to safeguard against another financial collapse. Even if you disagree on the methods of how this is done, you must use logic to see that deregulation DOES NOT WORK! What was the cause of this most recent meltdown? Greed, and deregulation that allowed for that greed to be acted on legally. If it is proposed that regulations be put in place to prevent this, then why would anyone stand against this? All it takes is a brief history lesson of the last ten or fifteen years to see how regulations and lack there0f ushered in this latest financial crisis. So why would anyone be against regulation?

Simply, because those individuals against it make more money without regulations. These are the people who will end up hurting when the big companies will no longer be able to foot the bill for their campaigns, run "independent" ads to support their views, etc. They'll have to, *gasp* WORK for a living! Oh, God, the horror! They may actually have to...pay taxes, and...do something productive. Seriously, is there anything wrong with this? Oh, and where does all this money come from? It's all the cash the companies for bled from their investors and customers, plus the dividends on all those shady deals and not-so-legal practices on Wall St.

The fact is, we need regulations, if we are ever going to be equally represented against companies with vastly more resources, influence, and power. Citizens must follow the law, and companies must adhere to regulations in much the same way. Bottom line, end of story.

Here's a good break-down of the reform bill goals.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

America as a Terror State

I recently watched a collection of Noam Chomsky interviews and speeches, all having to do with post-9/11 world powers and terrorism. The premise of his argument is that it is unfeasible for America to wage a "war on terror" when America is the number one perpetrator of terrorist acts in the world.

Chomsky cites many examples of direct and indirect involvement of the U.S. in terrorist activities around the world. In Latin America, for example, U.S. forces have been known to firebomb villages and civilian settlements, killing thousands of innocent people, in order to flush out and capture a single individual. The U.S. also supplied aircraft and other resources to Turkey to help with their continued repression and slaughter of Turkish Kurds (and because of this, Turkey was the first to commit their troops to the Iraq War effort).

This is not a new idea, either. The U.S. has used media-focused trials, such as the (in)famous Nuremberg Trials, to dissociate themselves from their enemies based on "war crimes" committed by those enemies. The reality is that the U.S. perpetuated more acts of terrorism during WWII than the Germans (though this is overshadowed by the Holocaust). The official definition of "war crimes" that was used for the trials was "anything they [Germany] did that we [the allies] didn't." This is why the bombing of civilian neighborhoods was not considered a war crime because the U.S. and her allies did this too.

Chomsky also discusses why foreign groups outside of America's close allies (particularly in the Middle East) do not like us very much. He explained, to raucous laughter, that the Middle Eastern citizens did not despise us because they were jealous of our greatness, wealth, and charity, a view that has been presented by the U.S. media.

The truth is that the U.S. has intentionally impeded development - socially, politically, and economically - of the region for decades. This has included, but is not limited to, supplying economic and military resources to dictators, enemy nations, and terrorist organizations (including Al Qaeda), implementing embargoes and trade restrictions on the region, and providing support for corrupt political regimes that share our views and interests. This intentional opposition to regional development is done solely for the purpose of advancing U.S. interests in the area, specifically oil. This principle of maintaining the global interests and holdings for the U.S. is the primary justification for American-based terrorism.

How is it that American atrocities around the world are largely unknown and overlooked domestically? Primarily, this is due to our media system, a privately owned and controlled, self-interested corporate world where truth is relative and contingent on narrow special interests. Media has, by and large, decided to turn a blind eye to America's activities around the world, despite overwhelming evidence and information from foreign news outlets.

But this cannot explain, at least on its own, why citizens do not seem overly concerned about U.S. terrorism, even when it is brought to our attention, such as at the beginning of the Vietnam War and the end of the Korean War.

As a group, U.S. citizens will justify acts of war perpetuated by the U.S. as patriotic defense of America (a great example is the "preemptive strike" against Iraq that was perpetuated by the Bush administration). Even beyond the realms of the battlefield, people are convinced that such acts are a good thing, since they are "for our safety".

In the case of the end of the Korean War, U.S. bombers destroyed several dams throughout South Korea, flooding valleys and villages. The ironic thing is that the German army did the exact same thing in WWII, and were charged with war crimes for it. When we did it to the Koreans (after the war was practically over- negotiations were already started), it was hailed as patriotic and heroic. This double-standard is indicative of how the U.S. views its own terrorist activities. When committed against our interests, it is condemned. When committed in accordance with our interests, it is congratulated.

In the case of the Vietnam War, what we see is the general disinterest in American war atrocities even when they were well-known (the major protest movement did not start for several years after the first U.S. involvement in Vietnam). At the start of the Vietnam War, U.S. bombers used chemical weapons to destroy crops and kill thousands (to this day, no one knows how many Vietnamese citizens were killed throughout the course of the war- soldiers or civilians). When people found out, they were surprisingly indifferent, and many saw this as justified. Why would people adopt this perspective? It is certainly a learned response, rooted in practiced patriotism and a sense that we can do no wrong. This view is also perpetuated and supplemented by media, and how they present such atrocities to the American people.

Chomsky discusses briefly how the government does not control, nor can it control, the media. He explains that the media is privately owned, has inserted lobbyists to levy their own interests in regulation reform and legislation, and that they alone choose what to tell and how to tell it. The goal of news media is not to inform, but entertain and help support a continued dependence on the media information outlets as a source of personal opinion and beliefs that they advance for their own reasons. This is true of all news media, and it must be true, because of the structure of privately owned companies and special interest groups. Even publicly funded media outlets - NPR and PBS being the most well-known- do not drift far from these expressed beliefs. Instead, they use more "liberal" stories and commentary to perpetuate the same views.

The overarching principle is that it is beyond the ability of the U.S. to uproot terrorism when they themselves are the greatest perpetrators of terrorist acts. Chomsky explains that this is not an American trend, but a trend of all powerful nations. In their days of power, the Roman Empire and the British Empire both employed their own form of "terrorism" to maintain their control and interests throughout the known world.

It is also important to understand that those in power do not have control over truth, which has long been an idea perpetuated by those who fight against totalitarian government (this has been an argument used against the Obama administration lately). Truth is not something that can feasibly be governed, even if it can be altered and distorted. To speak truth to power, as the saying goes, is a moot point, however. Either those in power are not interested in the truth, and thus speaking it is pointless, or they already know the truth, in which case, speaking it is redundant. Thus, it can only be those who are not in power - the people- who can be the possessors of truth, and use that truth to achieve social harmony.

The truth about American foreign policy is that it is bloody, self-interested, and has complete disregard for anyone but ourselves. We have been the foremost terrorist nation in the world for decades. Before we can effectively end the terrorist behavior of another nation, we must work to end our own aggression against other nations. We cannot be the guiding light against evil when we are perpetuating the greatest evils in the modern world. If we are silent, we are just as indictable as our government for these terrorist acts.

Even against all of this, there is hope. If those who know these truths can come together and spread the end of rational ignorance, we can cause a force for change to come over this nation. If we cannot justify the deaths of millions for the continued interests of a single nation, then we are obligated to demand that these actions against foreign powers cease, and we adopt more diplomatic means of communicating with our fellow human beings. There is, in every heart, a desire for peace. Instead of hypocritically calling for an end to terrorism while perpetuating terrorist acts, let us end our own merciless assault on the livelihood of the nations of the world, and extend an open hand to those who are now oppressed by American interests.

Monday, April 19, 2010

GOP questions regulations?

Last one for the day, I hope.

So, ironically, this came from the FOX news website. The article is about how the GOP is questioning the timing of the investigation against Goldman Sachs by the SEC, which is coinciding with the financial reform bill going through the Senate. They argue that the Dems are using this investigation to drum up support for their bill.

Well, I guess the first thing is that this is exactly the kind of thing that all political parties do: they will set up situations that help them gain support for their agendas. The idea that this is different because Obama received financial backing from GS is laughable, because many politicians on both sides of the aisle have received funding from them.

Where the most interesting thing comes in is where the comments start. Many people are speaking up to defend Obama, which is odd considering the conservative networks are saying that only 20% of the people support him. The basic gist is that Obama is in a no-win situation with GS. Either he doesn't press the investigation into fraudulent practice and the GOP slams him for turning a blind eye on corruption, or he goes ahead with it, and they slam him for double-crossing his former partner. The difference is that the GOP really can't make the second argument in this case because they would then be defending GS and their corruptive practices. Furthermore, once it becomes public knowledge that GS also gave millions to conservative campaigns, the GOP won't be able to express that Obama is the one that is biting the hand that fed him.

The second thing about this is that the GOP is actively opposing financial reform, mostly because they say that this will allow the government to take over the financial industries in the country. First of all, regulation does not give government control of a company. Second, the regulation is meant to keep a second financial collapse from happening, including safeguarding the money and well-being of citizens. Why would the GOP work against this, especially when they say they tried this in the past and the Dems rallied against it? Why would they fight against it when they claim to be on the side of the people, and wanting reform and change? Because it's not on their terms, they won't be the heroes, and they get more from deregulation than protecting the welfare of the citizenry.

Socialism

This is an article that appeared on CNNs website today. The point of the article is that socialists in America do not believe that Obama is a socialist, as many of his opponents have said. The article outlines why the many policies that Obama has supported were not socialist in nature, and that the view that he is a socialist is very far from the mark.

While it is apparent to me that Obama is not socialist in his ideas or policies, I wonder why not? Moreover, I wonder why socialism isn't more prevalent in America. It's true that we have structured ourselves to be capitalist, run by big businesses competing with each other, but this approach is losing momentum, money, and popularity (in my opinion). We already employ many socialist ideas (social security, medicare, etc.) to help those who are not in the top 5% of the wealthy population, but this doesn't seem to be enough. I believe that we need to have a full balance of wealth and power in this country, and that those who live here must help each other to prosper.

The argument is that, if we are all equal, none can prosper. The reality is that yes, no one will be able to be wealthier, have acccess to better education, healthcare, or material ownership, or be better off than anyone else. But this means that everyone can have access to be the best. Everyone can get an Ivy League education, can have financial security, the best health care, and access to the best help out there. Is this so bad? Does the fact that more people have access to it make it less valuable? Answering yes has been an underlying argument for capitalism and private control of the economy since the creation of the country.

It is laughable for anyone to argue that a capitalist, privately owned and controlled society can and will be better at providing for the majority of its citizens. If human nature was for individuals to focus on the best interests of the group, capitalism would work. However, it is natural for us to be self-interested, self-serving individuals. In this system, the theory of "trickle-down wealth" does not work. If it did, we would not see CEO's getting multi-million dollar annual bonuses; instead that money would be evenly distributed to all levels of the company. In order to create equality, there must be an over-arching regulatory system to ensure the continued balance.

Our current government and society employs a mix of capitalist and socialist ideas. By definition, these are counter-productive and mutually-defeating in aims. This is why conservatives want to get rid of programs like social security: they hinder the advance of the capitalist programs that benefit them. This is also why socialists and "liberals" want to advance programs like social security and medicare: they are looking at the big picture, and understand that these programs are the only thing keeping our class system as close as it is. Without these social programs, we would see the polarization of social class become even greater, the poor getting poorer, the rich getting richer. Capitalism cannot work on its own. It must, at the very least, be coupled with social programs. On its own, it means the complete alienation of the lower classes from prominent society. It means the creation of a "master-race" of sorts, one based on grandfathered wealth, power, and privilege, that allows no upward movement for the vast majority of citizens. People say that Obama is turning America into a Nazi regime. I see it as him saving us from a regime of equivalent evil.

regulation in government

Well, the newest round of financial regulation reform is afoot, and it has the gaping crack between the right and the left widening even more.

The left wants to continue to regulate the flow of money and investment in the private sector, particularly on Wall Street, to avoid another major meltdown in the economy. The right wants to go in the opposite direction, removing regulations that are currently in place, because they feel that this will increase competition and allow more mobility of companies with their money, thus making them more profitable.

So, here's the problem.

When we remove regulations on certain markets, time and again we see that power is being abused at the expense of the American people, money is being squandered and wasted, executives are gutting the economy, and the rest of us are left picking up the pieces. It was deregulation that powered this recession! I don't understand how someone can still believe in deregulating when it has been shown over and over again that this does not work! At this point in time, we need to have regulations in order to foster the development of the economy. We can't allow companies to be free with their money and influence, because the economy is too weak to support the kind of practices they would be part of. And for those who say that they will be responsible, I say we might as well make it mandatory then, and keep the regulations that make them responsible. No harm done. They can always be lifted later.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Concept of Doublethink in contemporary politics

the concept of doublethink was originally presented in George Orwell's 1984 (see last post for more discussion on this). The concept of doublethink was that the government sought to control the mind's of the people so that they could control every aspect of their lives. Doublethink meant that individual's carried multiple, contradictory truths in their heads at all times. For example, there were two countries, Eastasia and Eurasia, that Oceania were always at war with, but they only claimed to be at war with one at a time. It became necessary that the people believed they had always been at war with the same power. They had to believe that their government was right, had always been right, and that the truth of the moment had always been the truth. Therefore, when those views changed, the individual merely adopted a new truth, "forgot" the previous truth, and subsequently forgot that they had ever thought such a thing.

This concept of doublethink (which I hope is somewhat clear from the description above) seems too fantastic to be reality. But consider this.

Often, we hear one political group or another bashing their opponent for something or other, when that group has done the exact same thing in the past. An example is the Reps complaining about parliamentary procedures carried out by Dems, which they have done themselves many many times in the past. This notion is similar to doublethink in that, in order to take the argument seriously, the listener must have no prior knowledge of the Reps history of using the same tactic. Given enough time, the truth of them denouncing the tactic now will have to be forgotten as they use it for their own purposes. This is our current state of doublethink at work. The longer the two primary political parties argue over power, the more they have to lie in order to get what they want.

Unfortunately, the American people are highly susceptible to doublethink techniques because, as a population, we have a very limited memory, and the only information we have is that which comes through the media outlets. Another example is that contemporary conservatives are currently arguing that we need to keep all of our nuclear weapons, because Obama has decided to take many of them off-line. However, in the Reagan administration, conservatives (including Reagan) were vehemently against nuclear armament, and were vocal about removing nuclear weapons from the American arsenal. The point is that both sides will adopt a stance on an issue that serves the purposes of the moment. It hasn't reached the point where we are altering the historical documents of the past every time there is a shift in truth, but it is still doublethink.

The only way to counter-act this is to read back in history and find the contradictory statements and positions of our political leaders. I'm not arguing that a political group cannot and do not change their ideas, but these examples are of positions that have changed simply to be oppositional to the "other party". It is merely because the dems are in power at the moment that these examples of altering views are predominantly the reps. Undoubtedly it will be the other way around when the reps are in power. But it shouldn't be. If there are issues that everyone agrees upon, why would anyone create a debate out of that issue, for the sole purpose of being obstructive and argumentative. If there are points we all agree on (theoretically), why don't we work to get closer to our agreed goals?

The concept of doublethink is well-ingrained into our system. We must have the hindsight and collective memory to undermine it before it becomes impossible to move past.

Monday, April 5, 2010

1984

I've started rereading the Orwell classic "1984". Published in 1949, it is a modern "Utopia"-style book, similar to "Brave New World" by Huxley or "Fahrenheit 451" by Bradbury. I categorize these books together under the genre of Utopian because they all have to do with futuristic visions of society that are reached by the continuation of societal patterns, and a furtherance of trends that the author views in their present day. For example, "1984", which is more like an anti-utopia, describes a world ruled by "Big Brother", where the government no longer exists, but everyone monitors everyone, where all things are observed, and where the ruling Party oppresses the proletariat.

What's interesting about the book is that the views are eerily resonant with how many people view the government today. Considering the permissions granted by the Patriot Act, it's quite conceivable that we could all be observed whenever we dial a phone or log onto a computer. Bar codes being scanned or credit cards being swiped could tell the government exactly where you are and what you're doing. I don't believe this latter portion of the example is true, but the former certainly could be.

The point is that a government will always use its power in the widest possible sense. They are, after all, a ruling body of people, whose instinct is to gain and protect as much influence and power as possible.

In 1984, Orwell describes how the government overthrew the Capitalist society that was abusing the proletariat, but then turned around and did the exact same thing, to the point where those of the "prolly" were seen as second-class citizens. This made me think of how our own system of shifting parties and power seem to work.

Instead of attacking the structure, or basic premise of the usage of power by a particular group, an opposing group will focus attacks and cast doubt on the individual(s) in power. The people are led to believe that the person, not the system in general, is the root of the problem. In this way, the attacking group can be seen as ending corruption, when in actuality, they are merely gaining power over the corrupted system in order to reap the benefits for themselves. No one wants to challenge the foundations of this system, because altering or destroying the system means giving up the power and personal gain that comes from controlling it. In politics today, no one seems to be discussing why the system, the government, the private sector, or the public sector are not working as they should. If anyone is trying to explain where the problems originated, they will invariably begin with a person. This is inaccurate. A person may be the instrument, but it is the structure of the system being abused that allows the behavior. If we truly wished to stop corruption, we would need to overhaul the system entirely, and even then, we would only succeed in blinding ourselves by convincing ourselves that we had indeed stopped the abuse of power, when we merely turned that abuse elsewhere. Of course, abuse of power is only abuse if you are the one who is not in control. The best thing we can do is to take the group that is not in direct control of the government, and (in the case of the US) remind them of their power as a group of citizens. The government may not be perfect, but we as citizens have the power to alter it as we wish, when elections come, and through means such as contacting representatives and becoming active in government. If we wish for all corruption to cease, such as in the private sector, we can either rely on the government to regulate it (and, since we control the government, we would control by default), or we can take direct roles in controlling the handling of power in the private sector. Currently, the only way we have of doing this is boycotting certain companies when we want them to make a change. Unfortunately, with vertical and horizontal conglomeration, and the outstretched fingers of mass corporations, this solution is barely conceivable. So, what else could we do? Set up elections for CEO's of major companies? Votes on budgets and finances of privately-owned companies? I don't know.

The point is that our system of government is not perfect, and there is far too much room for those in power to take advantage of the system. Since it is in human nature to seek greater wealth and power, can we blame those in power for seeking more, and using the system set in place for attaining that power? Why do we hold our leaders to a higher standard than ourselves? We must remember they are only human.

Anyway, I feel like I rambled for a while. Sorry if this was incoherent or hard to follow. I suggest the book at any rate.