I apologize for coming on too strong in advance. I previously said I don’t like to tell people who to vote for, but this goes beyond voting. Despite how much this election represents to me.

Maybe I am adding flames to the fire, but the amount any of us writes to the federal government is going to get a whole lot bigger because of previous Republican leadership, instead of just getting a little bigger like it might have. The truth is social security worked and the only reason we questioned it is because people wanted to be taking cruises and living in huge mansions on Caribbean islands when they retired instead of living modestly. I reiterate my arguments from during the previous election against privatization. We are basically financing a war rooted in energy issues on money from China. What’s more immoral than that? We consume more than a ¼ of the world’s oil.

McCain wants to talk about more war for God’s sake. And if we question that we aren’t being patriotic. When will this crap end? I watched the Republican National Convention and it amounted to a worship of war. We’ve already crossed the Rubicon that Wright talks about in Nonzero that the Roman Empire crossed when their society was hollowed out because all the production was based outside of their country on the backs of workers that had no citizens rights (basically modern slavery), but were building the empire. The military was stretched too thin and the leadership imploded. Sound familiar? I also can’t believe that twice in formal forums, McCain has accused Russia of being “energy greedy” and “trying to rebuild their empire”. Not that I agree at all with Russia’s treatment of Georgian territories and people, but the hypocrisy is so obvious it staggers the imagination. We, like the British, must undergo de-colonization pangs or pay the price.

For Christians at least, I believe Christ addresses the “I earned it” issue in the parable of the workers coming to work at different times of day, but all getting the same pay. A sense of justice is the last barrier to grace. Our entire country was built on the back of slain natives and slave foreigners in less than two hundred years, and though that doesn’t mean people today don’t work hard, we should remember this before we tout some kind of work ethic.

The writer Defoe once argued that a man will be civil until his life and the life of his loved ones depend on being uncivil. I don’t know if this is true or not, but if it is, can we really defend our lifestyle to the rest of the world? I’m going to post more Ruskin here. If you read this carefully, he touches on Defoe’s quote and also here, and later in the essay, he defeats the “I earned it” mentality. He also hits the population question, the “homeless are lazy” argument, and the idea of fair trade. And in this quote we see how very related these all are.

“In all the ranges of human thought I know none so melancholy as the speculations of political economists on the population question. It is proposed to better the condition of the labourer by giving him higher wages. ‘Nay’ says the economist, – ‘if you raise his wages, he will either people down to the same point of misery at which you found him, or drink your wages away.’ He will. I know it. Who gave him this will? Suppose it were your own son of whom you spoke, declaring to me that you dared not take him into your firm, nor even give him his just labourer’s wages, because if you did he would die of drunkenness, and leave half a score of children to the parish. ‘Who gave your son these dispositions?’ – I should enquire. Has he them by inheritance or by education? By one or other they must come; and as in him, so also in the poor. Either these poor are of a race essentially different from ours, and unredeemable (which, however often implied, I have heard none yet openly say), or else by such care as we ourselves have received, we may make them continent and sober as ourselves – wise and dispassionate as we are – models arduous of imitation. ‘But’ it is answered, ‘they cannot receive education.’ Why not? That is precisely the point at issue. Charitable persons suppose the worst fault of the rich is to refuse the people meat; and the people cry for their meat, kept back by fraud from the Lord of Multitudes. Alas! It is not meat of which the refusal is the cruelest, or to which the claim is validest. The life is more than the meat. The rich not only refuse food to the poor; they refuse wisdom; they refuse virtue; they refuse salvation… “
John Ruskin

“The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the “state of emergency” in which we live is not the exception, but the rule. We must attain to a conception of history that is keeping with this insight…The current amazement that the things we are experiencing are “still” possible in the twentieth century is not philosophical. This amazement is not the beginning of knowledge—unless it is the knowledge that the view of history which gives rise to it is untenable.”
Walter Benjamin

So finally, for the spiritual among us I have this from one of my favorite spiritual writers on the concept of entitlement and the Lord’s Prayer:

“…And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors…”

At the moment of saying these words we must have already remitted everything that is owing to us. This not only includes reparation for any wrongs we think we have suffered, but also gratitude for the good we think we have done, and it applies in a quite general way to all we expect from people and things, to all we consider as our due and without which we should feel our lives to have been frustrated.

All these are the rights that we think the past has given us over the future.

First there is a right to a certain permanence. When we have enjoyed something for a long time, we think that it is ours and that we are entitled to expect fate to let us go on enjoying it.

Then there is the right to a compensation for every effort whatever its nature, be it work, suffering, or desire. Every time that we put forth some effort and the equivalent of this effort does not come back to us in the form of some visible fruit, we have a sense of false balance and emptiness which makes us think that we have been cheated. The effort of suffering from some offense causes us to expect the punishment or apologies of the offender, the effort of doing good makes us expect the gratitude of the person we have helped, but these are only particular cases of a universal law of the soul.

Every time we give anything out we have an absolute need that at least the equivalents should come into us, and because we need this we think that we have a right to it. Our debtors comprise all beings and all things; they are the entire universe. We think we have claims everywhere. In every claim we think we possess there is always the idea of an imaginary claim of the past on the future. That is the claim we have to renounce.

. . . In renouncing at one stroke all the fruits of the past without exception, we can ask of God that our sins may not bear their miserable fruits of evil and terror. So long as we cling to the past, God himself cannot stop this horrible fruiting. We cannot hold onto the past without retaining our crimes, for we are unaware of what is most essentially bad in us. . . “

Simone Weil