Monthly Archives: February 2010

Today We Learn About: Communism

Throughout the twentieth century there have been several stigmas associated with communism, which range from people thinking that it takes away freedom to always having poorly run central planning, all of which are nonclass assumptions perceived from previous governments claiming communism.  While in some instances there may be nonclass structures such as central planning or a despotic government in communism, the only aspect of a state which makes it communist, is the presence of a class structure of production, vis-à-vis whether or not workers are exploited.  The fundamental class process within communism is one that grants the producers of surplus the first access to the surplus they produce.  Examining class by surplus separates communism from other economic and state structures by allowing the reality of workers labour to be measured and rewarded.  If a state does not have these class surplus structures in place then it is not communist, as is the case for every nation in history that claimed to be as such.  This means that all negative notions of communism from history are invalid and the door must be reopened in order to examine how any nonclass structures, religion, power, property, etc., can coincide with the class process of communism.  Differentiating the class structure of production, in terms of surplus, and the various nonclass social arrangements is vital in understanding various communisms. Continue reading

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Today We Learn About: Agriculture Subsidies in the United States

The United States should eliminate agricultural subsidies to domestic farmers. This policy costs the taxpayer $177.6 billion dollars from 1995 to 2006.1 In addition, a vast majority of subsidies go to a very small portion of our nations farmers and keep the price of certain foods higher than free market value.2 There is a notion that farmers would be poor if not for subsidies, or that a lack of subsidies would be a national security issue. These statements are not true.

More is spent on agricultural subsidies than other departments of government as a whole. As per the United States budget for fiscal year 2006, more was spent in the Department of Agricultural in 2004 than in the Departments of Commerce, Interior, Justice, Labor, Transportation, Treasury, NASA, National Science Foundation, Social Security Administration, and the Corp of Engineers. In addition, more was spent on subsidies than on the Environmental Protection Agency, Executive Office of the President, Judicial Branch, and Legislative Branch combined.3 These numbers have remained stagnant over the last few years. Meanwhile, a Fox News poll from May of 2009 indicates that Americans are looking for less spending from their government.4 Continue reading

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Today We Learn About: Life & Debt!

Life & Debt is a feature length documentary directed and produced by Stephanie Black. Released in 2001, the documentary brings together citizens of Jamaica, employees of the International Monetary Fund, and various other authorities to discuss and spotlight the plight of the Jamaican government and people that has been caused by globalization and modernization. The general principles at play here are that the International Monetary Fund, along with the World Bank essentially hold nations back from their true potential under a disguise of trying to assist the nation to become a player in world trade. In reality, these institutions are putting at risk nations into a dependent economic state using questionable tactics with questionable motivations. The point of view that the film takes is that Jamaica has been victimized to an almost irreversibly dependent and economically unsound state. The blame is placed on the contracts that the Jamaican government has signed with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, as well as the tactics used by these institutions to secure these contracts. Continue reading

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Today We Learn About: “A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia”

By Thomas Harriot.

This article can be read here!

When reading the article it seemed to me that it was intended for use as propaganda. Additionally, I was surprised that Harriot felt it necessary to spell out in such plain language that Virginia did not have all of the same luxuries one would find in England. Lastly, the overwhelming focus on religion in the piece, while not surprising given the time period in question, seems to have a more reassuring purpose than an informational tone.

I feel that this document was a propaganda piece for the new world. Up until this point, the colony of Virginia had undergone some very hard times, and a few failed attempts. Add to this the amount of writings being put forth that characterize the colony as a land of savages where few can survive, and it is easy to see why one might write a document extolling the wonderful virtues of a newly discovered land. This is especially the case when we consider the amount of money that stood to be made in Virginia. What better way to open peoples eyes to the opportunities that exist outside their comfort zone, than to publish in many different languages, a document that states plainly that Virginia has a wonderful climate, plenty of land for the taking, and fertile grounds with which to grow crops. Continue reading

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Today We Learn About: Executive Order 8802

On June 25th of 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, which barred defense companies, both governmentally run and private, from discriminating against potential employees based on matters of race, creed, color, or national origin. This order was the first in a line of bills and executive orders that eventually lead to the Civil Rights Act of the 1960’s and came in response to dissent within the African American community, as well as the need for additional laborers to support the defense industries. Executive Order 8802 was an absolutely necessary step forward for race relations and the war effort in the United States of America because it expanded the work options for African-Americans, built unity within the nation during a time of great upheaval, showed solidarity with the members of the African-American community who were actively pursuing changes in federal policy regarding worker’s rights, and left all sides involved affected positively. Continue reading

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Geeking Out: Madden 2009

So I got a sweet PSP off ebay with 10 games, 4 movies, and a travel case, all for $110.00. In case you didn’t know that’s an amazingly good deal and one of the main reasons that I enjoy ebay to the extent that I do. Realistically, I’d buy food off there if I could. It’s the thrill of the hunt and the thrill of outgunning some n00b with Doritos covered hands. Suck it, Ralphie.

I got this PSP, and I decided I’d start with one of the sports games. Why? Because they are easy to play, take a small time commitment, and they are fun. This is the recipe for all things bad ass, in my opinion. If any one thing has all three of these ingredients, I’m there. Two is acceptable (See: Avatar).

Franchise mode, for the win. Did the fantasy draft, got some great players, went through training camp. Then came the preseason. Finally time for me to sow my royal oats. And sow I did…

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Today We Learn About: Child Brides!

On April 16, 2008 I attended a screening of the documentary film, “Child Brides: Stolen Lives.” Following the screening there was a question and answer/discussion with the creator and driving force behind the film, Maria Hinojosa. This event was the final event in the “Bearing Witness” lecture series at Mount Holyoke College, and the goal the film was to shine a light on the marriage of young girls around the world, namely in Niger, India, and Guatemala. The film shows us that the issue is a very complex one, encompassing many factors such as cultural practices, family expectations, economic struggles, and the honor of the communities. The discussion after the film went in depth about some of the issues at hand, namely the root of the problem, what is being done to fix it, and some insight into what was filmed, but left out, of the documentary. This event was very interesting and engaging, and I chose it because I felt that, although there are certainly problems on our own shores that need to be addressed, I wanted to learn more about what is happening overseas. I was given the opportunity to see practices and culture that I would not have otherwise been exposed to, and I feel that without experiencing what the world has to offer as far as viewpoints go, we really cannot formulate accurate solutions to problems. That is, we must know what is wrong before we can fix it. Through this experience I have learned that no problem facing women, or anyone in this world is simple. There are always intersections, whether it is race/religion, gender/religion, class/gender, or class/religion, which must be addressed and dealt with before a true solution can arise. Continue reading

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