Thursday, October 27, 2011

An Ethical Defense of Same-Sex Marriage

(I am currently on an Ethics Bowl team and have compiled an Ethical defense of Same-Sex Marriage) So the main issue that is often brought up in discussions of Same-Sex Marriage is the right of the individual versus morality. The claim is that we must, as public citizens, decide between the two. Do we side with the right of the individual and support Same-Sex Marriage or do we side with morality and oppose it? I attest that the two are, in fact, not mutually exclusive. Same-Sex Marriage is ethical by any conventional standard. It is ethical under Consequentialism, ethical under Deontological theory, ethical under virtue ethics, and ethical under Pragmatic Ethics. It is also succeeds in non-maleficence. Consequentialism, incidentally my favorite of all the theories, contends that the way to decide if an action is moral or not is to examine the consequences. The consequences of two consenting adults getting married is clearly not immoral. No one is hurt and some(not many but some) are helped. The couple is happy, the couple's family is happy, and the couple's friends are happy. Again, none are unhappy, under a utilitarian argument(Utilitarianism=the greatest good for the greatest number, it's a popular offshoot of consequentialism) Same-Sex Marriage is clearly ethical. Deontological Ethics is the opposite of consequentialism. It contends that the way to decide if an action is moral is to examine the intentions. They are often moral absolutists who believe that some things are immoral no matter what is the consequence. If we look at the intentions of, again, two consenting adults entering into matrimony we can assume that, in this day and age, the intentions are positive. The intentions are positive thus, under this theory, the action is ethical. So, Same-Sex Marriage is ethical. Virtue Ethics says that the way to judge the morality of an action is to assess the morality of the individual. There is no way of assessing the morality of every individual entering into any form of marriage. Thus, we can say, that Same-Sex Marriage is just as ethical as any other form of marriage. Pragmatic Ethics contend that it is society that is moral, not an individual. Under pragmatic ethics it is believed that ethical standards evolve and what is right in one age is not necessarily right in another. Societal standards have changed and it is now socially acceptable to be openly homosexual. Thus, if we take it that moral standards evolve and change, homosexuality could very well have been wrong when the Bible was written but still be right now because the moral standards have been revised. Thus, Same-Sex Marriage could very well be ethical under Pragmatic Ethics. Non-maleficence is the simple concept of "Do No Harm." If two consenting adults get married then no one is harmed. Thus, non-maleficence is achieved. As I have shown, Same-Sex Marriage is ethical under every modern applicable ethical theory. Thus, we can conclude, that Same-Sex Marriage is ethical and should be supported.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Don't Step On My Red Suede Shoes

This is a response I wrote to someone in my history class who claimed that FDR didn't help us out of the Depression and in fact hurt us. That is a fairly standard Right Wing Line, and it bothers me. Anyway, enjoy --- In 1932, the year before Roosevelt took office, the US GDP was 58.7 Billion Dollars(in current money, all these numbers are adjusted for inflation). In 1937, the first year of Roosevelt's second term, the GDP was 91.9 Billion Dollars. In 1941, the first year of Roosevelt's third term, the GDP was 126.7 Billion Dollars. That's growth, growth that corresponded to government spending. The Hoover Administration spent an average of 12% of GDP during the depression, the Roosevelt Administration spent an average of 15.4% of GDP from '33-'39. Once World War II started the spending rose to 35.3% of GDP, and we all know how beneficial World War Two was for our economy. You talked about false job creation, but if we look at the numbers that's not really the case. In 1932 the Unemployment rate was 24.1%. In 1937 it was 14.3%, that's a ten point drop which also coincided with increased spending. In '32 the government spent 8.7 Billion(again, adjusted figures) in '37 the government spent 12.8 billion. Funnily enough, the only year of the Roosevelt Administration in which unemployment increased was from '37-'38(in which it rose from 14.3% to 19%). 1937 was the only year in which the government cut the amount of money it was spending(from 13.1 Billion to 12.8 Billion) the year following unemployment rose almost 5 points. In '38 the government increased spending(to 13.8 Billion) and the following year unemployment fell again(to 17.2%). '38 was also the only year during the Roosevelt administration that the GDP fell. In '39, after the spending increase of '38, it rose back up again. So, really, FDR did help us out of the depression through spending. The growth in the GDP and the decline in unemployment directly corresponds to the amount of money spent. The one year he cut spending was followed by the only decline in GDP and increase of unemployment of his entire presidency. (I then later wrote after he made a follow up statement that FDR was basically following Hoover's policies) If we look at the numbers we can see that Hoover spent 9.4 billion in '29. In '30 he spent 10 billion. So far so good for your theory, but beginning in '31 Hoover began to spend less and less. '31 he spent 9.9 billion and in '32 he spent 8.7 billion. The biggest drop in GDP, funnily enough, was between '31 and '32. Roosevelt spent more and got bigger hikes in GDP. To address your point about WWII, yes it did, of course, help us out of the depression. But in 1939, the year the war started in Europe, the GDP was 92.2 billion which was the highest it had been since '29. When the war ended the GDP was 223.1 which is over twice what it was in '29 so you are, to a certain extent, right. Without World War II the depression would have lasted longer but it was already ending when the war began because of FDR's policies.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

On Estella Havisham in Great Expectations

There always has been, and perhaps always will be, a schism in fiction regarding the way that women are portrayed. Some heroines are very passive while others have a large amount of agency and are always in control of the situation, or always think that they are. Great Expectations, widely considered Charles Dickens' masterpiece, contains one of the greatest examples of a non-passive heroine in the character of Estella Havisham. Dickens took what previous writers, such as Shakespeare, had done and expanded on it by never making Estella likable. Estella's influence can still be seen today.
Estella by no means was the first strong female character in literature. Anyone who is familiar at all with Shakespeare will point to Rosalind and Lady Macbeth. However, Estella is unique in that she never is presented in a way that is likable to the reader. We don't want Pip and Estella to get married, despite the fact that Pip desperately wants it. Lady Macbeth, while never being even slightly likable, is essentially the villain of Macbeth. She manipulates her husband into murder and feeds his madness. She is not the romantic lead and Macbeth never looks at her in a romantic sense. Rosalind, like Estella, gets what she wants just by force of character. However, Rosalind is presented in a likable way, true she does some things that make her unlikable but she means well most of the time, Estella never means well in the novel, never once. She schemes and is more than a little sadistic. She hurts Pip because she feels like it.
It could be argued that Estella is the villain of Great Expectations, and thus follows in the footsteps of Lady Macbeth. However, Estella was raised by Mrs. Havisham, a cruel, cold woman, and she taught Estella to break men's hearts. Mrs. Havisham created Estella and thus we can't really blame Estella for what she does to Pip. She learned it at her mother's knee.
Estella's influence on modern literature is vast. Two of the biggest best sellers of the past few years are The Hunger Games Trilogy and The Millennium Trilogy. Both series have heroines, Katniss and Lisabeth respectively, who are strong and in command, but aren't particularly nice. They can handle themselves and have a large amount of agency. Estella also serves as a symbol in Great Expectations. She symbolizes the love pursued and the novel shows how Pip destroys his life by pursuing Estella so intently. Those themes would later become the centerpiece of The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald, widely considered to be one of the greatest novels ever written. Fitzgerald own a massive debt to Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, and the character of Estella.
Estella serves a very important role in Great Expectations; the role of a maguffin. She is the grail which Pip searches for, the light on the end of the wharf. It is, however, as testament to Dickens' skill as a writer that he manages to elevate Estella from a simple goal to one of the most interesting and rounded characters that exists in fiction. She is both a strong female heroine and a symbol. Both a maguffin and a character.
It is interesting to contrast Estella with another of Dickens' creations, Nancy. Both women are in abusive relationships and both, if we are to go by Dickens' original ending, end up the worse for wear for it. It would have been fascinating to see more of Estella while she was in her abusive marriage. We see her going in, haughty and nasty, and then coming out, weather beaten and kinder, but we never see what transpired. Did Estella love her husband? Why would she, but then, why would she stay with him if she didn't? It is a bit of a stretch to believe that Estella stays with her husband out of fear, but it is just as big of a stretch to say that she stayed with him out of love. Nancy, by contrast, is only seen while in the relationship, so we don't know what she was like coming into it, and, of course, she never comes out of it. Nancy does not appear to have the force of character that Estella has, yet, it takes a great will to stand up to the man she loves and sacrifice her life for a random boy. It appears that the brutality of her husband makes Estella weaker while it makes Nancy stronger. Thus, it could very well be argued that Nancy is stronger that Estella.

Friday, June 24, 2011

"Leave Me Alone!" Or A Critsism of The Founding Fathers

"I'm Not Magic, Lead Yourselves."
--Cory Doctorow

"As a woman I have no country. As a woman, I want no country."
---Virgina Woolfe

A few days ago I was having a debate with a friend(Ben, who used to contribute occasionally to this blog back in our LR days) about a variety of things mainly focusing on our differing political philosophies. I am a socialist and he is a democrat who......reads Ayn Rand. Anyway, eventually we got onto the Constitution and I made the point that, frankly, I don't care what the Second Amendment means, guns need to be limited and controlled otherwise we'd have havoc in the streets.

Now, I've said that before and will almost certainly say it again, however you will never hear a politician say that. Never ever ever. Because we, as a nation, hold the Constitution and The Founding Fathers in such, such high esteem that if you say one word against them you will never be elected to so much as a school board.

Why? Because we, as a people, look for idols, for leaders and the 'Founders Of Our Nation' are the best candidates around. So, just like people do with their religious texts, all we care about is what the Founding Fathers would have done and we lose our common sense.

Honestly is Thomas Jefferson appeared to me tomorrow and told me to support Sarah Palin for President I would still support Obama, because I don't care. I just don't care. I don't believe that the Founding Fathers had more wisdom than any other political philosophers. They did a big, important hard thing in founding our country but I don't believe that they are infallible. They were men.

Perhaps it's just my own arrogance but I don't believe that the Founding Fathers were that much wiser than I am or anyone else is. They were just the first and that's cool and awesome and important but just because you're the first doesn't mean your the best. The Constitution is the Beta and we're treating it like it's perfect.

The title of this post, Leave Me Alone, is a reference to Monty Python's The Life of Brian in which the populace has become convinced that the character of Brian is the messiah and they follow him around. He yells at them to leave him along and thus....THE TITLE!

I think, I believe that once we realize that the Founding Fathers were operating on 18th Century information and thought then, I think, we can begin to talk and think more logically about issues, like gun control.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fundamental Flaws: On The American Dream

Between them these two books sum up our present predicament. Capitalism leads to dole queues, the scramble for markets, and war. Collectivism leads to concentration camps, leader worship, and war. There is no way out of this unless a planned economy can somehow be combined with the freedom of the intellect, which can only happen if the concept of right and wrong is restored to politics.
---George Orwell

If you listen to anyone on the right side of the aisle you know two things 1) You should be afraid of European Socialism and 2) If you just work hard you will be rich and successful. That second point is the basic foundation of the so called "American Dream' and the basis for the Anti-Welfare Argument. Hard Work equals Success thus Failure equals Laziness. Read that sentence again. Now, does that make any sense?

I found a Howard Zinn quote that sums up my point here, if I may,

---Why should we accept that the "talent" of someone who writes jingles for an advertising agency advertising dog food and gets $100,000 a year is superior to the talent of an auto mechanic who makes $40,000 a year? Who is to say that Bill Gates works harder than the dishwasher in the restaurant he frequents, or that the CEO of a hospital who makes $400,000 a year works harder than the nurse or the orderly in that hospital who makes $30,000 a year? The president of Boston University makes $300,000 a year. Does he work harder than the man who cleans the offices of the university? Talent and hard work are qualitative factors which cannot be measured quantitatively. ---

Right now the richest person in the world, according to Forbes Magazine, is Carlos Slim. Now Mr. Slim was not born into wealth and, in his own way, worked his way up from the bottom. But, and this is key, he is an investor, meaning he makes money by giving people money. To suggest that giving people money is harder than, say, building a road, saving someone's life, or fighting in the military is a little ludicrous. Now, just to be clear, I am not saying that Mr. Slim has done anything wrong, he made his money in a perfectly legitimate way. He has also been generous with his money(he has donated four billion, yes billion, dollars to his charitable foundation however this is the core of my problem.

If a child complains that something is not fair what is the first response that pops into our heads? "Life Isn't Fair" and that's correct, but creates a problem with the so-called American Dream. The assumption that Hard Work=Success and Laziness=Failure is that the playing field is level which it just simply is not.

You may wonder why I care. So what if the American Dream is silly, so what if it makes no sense, it's just a cliche. But, it isn't. It's a way to view the world that many people have and if you view the world in that way then you will oppose welfare, because we're just subsidizing laziness. But, if we agree that the American Dream is flawed and Failure does not equal Laziness, then it is impossible to say that welfare is equivalent to subsidizing laziness.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Why I Want Sarah Palin To Become President

Recently I have begun to reimmerse myself in the 'Punk Underground'. I have discovered bands that are very, very outside the mainstream(Propaghandi, for example, who have songs called The Only Good Fascist Is A Very Dead Fascist and So Apparently I'm A Pc Fascist(Because I Believe In The Rights Of Humans And Non-Humans). One of the bands I've discovered is called NOFX(No-Ef-X) and they have a song called Franco Unamerican which is a perfectly straight forward Bush era protest song with some very hard hitting lyrics(I'm tired of all this embarrassment/the whole world wants us to get a better president). I realized something as I was listening to the song for the six or seventh time that changed my life: Hating Politicians can create great music. Really great music.

Now let's flash ahead a few days after I first heard the song.....I'm at the beach in a rented condo watching MSNBC. The hosts are attacking the Republicans and having a jolly old time which just confirms what I've know all along: It is far more fun to be in the opposition then to be in power. When you're in power people hate you because you're not doing 100% of what you want. When you're in opposition you have no responsibilities really.

So when you have a president who is incompetent and makes terrible decisions you get 1) Awesome Protest Music and 2) The Ability To Protest The Heck Out Of Everything. With that in mind....I ENDORSE SARAH PALIN!!

Frm. Gov. Palin will never be able to handle the stresses of the job and is so thin skinned that she will probably declare war on Britain because they bowed to the Queen instead of her. The liberals will be able to rise up in opposition and the punks will be able to get as angry as they want, it'll be wonderful.

Editors Note:

The Write of this article is using a form of humor known as sarcasm to advance his point, that Former Governor Sarah Palin is not fit for the job of president. He is also using this form of humor to attempt to get you to laugh, which makes him feel loved and wanted. Opinionated Media does not endorse or recommend the use of sarcasm to advance points and they certainly do not endorse or support Gov. Palin becoming president.

Second Anniversary

Hello all

I just realized that I totally missed our second anniversary, I do apologize. A lot has changed since I started this blog, first and foremost among the things that have changed is me. I am, of course, older and now write in a different sort of way, about different things. So, with that in mind, I am making some changes to this blog.

The most obvious change will be the name of the blog. I have begun to find 'The Liberal Rocker' to be both immature and, quite frankly, a little obnoxious. Thank you for putting up with me, I have no idea how you managed it. It is now going to be changed to Opinionated Media(which is also the name of my production company).

The second most obvious change is that I'm going to start writing more often about different topics. In the next few days, for example, I'm going to be writing an article titled Why I Want Sarah Palin To Become President, an article about a staging concept for the musical Evita, and possibly some music or television related pieces. So I will still be political and I will never pull a political punch but it will become less of the focus.

Also, hopefully, my writing will improve. I am going to attempt to write in a more mature, adult, intellectual way. But do not fear, I still believe in humor as a weapon so you will still see humorous asides in parentheses.

Thank you for sticking with me for all these years and thank you for, hopefully, sticking with me going forward.


All Over But The Shouting, Just A Waste Of Time
---The Replacements, Nevermind