Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Instead of getting forwarded e-mails I decide to write my own chain letter

Updated and now complete with the chain e-mail I sent out!

I get those chain e-mails from my parents. Since my parents are kinda slutty and get married every couple of years I have a lot of step parents and since I have a lot of step parents I get a lot of chain e-mails. Most of my family is from the South and that means they are conservative. I am not sure how they raised a son that became a Marxist but I credit their parenting style which was one of neglect coupled with a 70's Southern Baptist tradition of strict separation of church and state.

My parents (like most baptists) thought that if you died before reaching the age of 7 none of your sins counted. And since they were Baptists they felt that accepting god was an individuals choice. A person had to come to know and accept God personally and any attempt at making the choice for the individual risked that person's salvation. It was better to let your children wander away from God in hopes that he would call them back than to have your children follow the religion in name only.

I am not always proud of my parents, but I felt they never pressured me into any religion. I think they just took it for granted that I would believe in god. I know they never asked me what I believed as a child and they never spoke openly about the importance of religion or belief. I might as well have been born into a post religious family.

My interpretation of the events of my childhood might sound strange if we just looked at the facts. I started school by attending a Baptist themed Kindergarten. I did not graduate with full honors because I was unable to recall certain psalms and other religious requirements. I got to walk with the other kids, but I think I was handed a blank white paper instead of a diploma. I recall my father getting very angry about that. I remember the drive home. My father was screaming at my mother. "How dare they not graduate my son!" I remember being afraid. A child is always frightened by his father's anger. I also remember being proud in a strange way. My dad was sticking up for me. He called me his son. I did not always feel that way. I was told at an early age my father was not my biological father, and I was always jealous of my blood brothers connection to the only man I knew as dad.

I failed the requirements to pass a religious school because my family did not practice much religion. I am sure we were the only family attending that school that did not have a bible reading every morning or afternoon. We attended church somewhat regularly until I was 7 years of age, mostly oit of respect to my grandmother. My father never attended church with the family, but he worked 6 or 7 days a week and drank heavily and was often not home on the weekend. My dad was gone a lot of weekends because he enjoyed the company of women he would meet at grubby cowboy bars. After my parents divorced he would take my brother and me along with him to the bars when he was forced to watch us on the weekends. Maybe that is why I love local dive bars to this day.

So I guess you should really blame my failure to graduate kindergarten (which would later become a recurring theme in my life) on my parents. They did not force me to read the bible or attend church camps like my friend, Arlin, the nerdy religious child of my grandmother's next door neighbor.

All I know is that the next year I was taken out of religious school. I know my parents complained to my grandmother that the private school told me that Santa was not real and the Easter Bunny was fake. I am sure going to that school was my grandmother's idea. I am glad I went in some ways. I learned to read quite well in kindergarten so I was way ahead of the 1st graders in public school who were just learning to read. My brother (shadetree) claims my tutelage in the private academy started me in my academic success. My Arizona friends would be shocked to know that until 10th grade I got straight A's. I was placed in advanced classes in the sixth grade after taking a I.Q. test.

I recall the test giver being surprised that I knew how many feet were in a mile. He was shocked when I was able to take a lengthy paragraph about trains and say it backwards. It was years later that I learned in a community college Intro to Psychology course that backwards questions were weighted with double points. I was told by my instructor that I was the first student he had ever had who had been able to complete the task.

I am sure my head start reading in first grade was helpful, but I know the difference between learning a skill and passion. I have a passion for reading that was not taught or given to me but which is as natural to my nature as drinking coke.

My family is the kind of family that wonders about a boy who likes to sit in his room and read. I do recall that when I poured over the family's ancient set of encyclopedias and almanacs I was viewed with suspicion, but was forgiven since it the time could be applied to school and learning. If I read for pleasure I was considered a loner and lazy.

The one time my reading made a hit was while I was living in Colorado with my mother. We moved to Colorado on a whim with hopes that the Reagan recession was not as bad there as it was in Texas where we were living through another oil bust.

My mother moved our family along with and her two sisters and their families. All 16 people shared a 2 bedroom apartment for a few months in order to save money for the trip. I remember our car broke down halfway to Colorado with a full tank of gas in it and I recall that the full tank of gas to be the most upsetting thing for my parents. We drove the rest of the way in my Aunt Jeans pick up truck, sharing the pickups camper bed with what belongings we can store. Most of stuff was placed in a storage unit. Included in the storage unit was my Mr. Smiley doll that I had owned since I was little and my first rocking chair. My parents were unable to make payments on the storage unit and we lost most of things. I remember being shocked that the world could take the things you cherished the most from you. I lived a sheltered life I guess. I was never one to feel insecure as kid. I thought my parents could protect me from the world. It turns out that my parents were not very good at shielding themselves from the cruelty of the world.

I don't know if that is the reason my parents don't like people on food stamps or any other kind of government aid. I know that many times in my life I wished my parents would have been less proud and accepted some help. Instead the power was always going out and anonymous boxes of food and clothes would be left on our doorsteps. I guess my parents thought that was better.


Actually just go to this awesome read here. It is kinda long but it makes the points I make in the language of academia. I must insist that you read it. Go now.

My parents are also not very interested in facts or fact based evaluations of policy. I know this because I my parents listen to their gut just like George Bush does. Listening to your gut means that anything counter intuitive the human mind seems foreign to them and anything foreign probably is dangerous and needs to be killed. My parents won't vote for Obama because he is a Muslim, because he is black, and because he is all about the big government hand outs to poor people who don't want to work. My parents don't want to hear that most aid goes to children, the elderly and the infirmed. They know it goes to lazy Mexicans who can't stop breeding. They know it goes to the crack dealer down the street.

My parents know this because all the minorities they know get welfare. They also know that they never qualify for government aid. Most working class people fall in the empty space between self sufficiency and desperate need. Most working people earn too much to qualify for food stamps but don't earn enough to buy food that is healthy and good for the environment. They live off bologna sandwiches and McDonald's. The buy their kids cereal and hope the milk lasts the whole week.

I can't blame working people for being upset about their situation. I don't mind working class anger. As a Marxist not only do I expect it, I want to cultivate it. I just wished working people's anger could be turned against the Republicans (aka the ruling class if you want your Marxist to speak jargon) who spend 600 billion dollars on the military a year, but scoff at funding 40 billion for food stamps and college aid. We should be demanding more from our leaders, not less. We spent a trillion dollars invading a country that did not attack us. That trillion dollars is enough money to insure every child with health care for a decade. A trillion dollars in enough to give every homeless person a home. A trillion dollars is enough money to pay for Pell grants for 25 years. Instead we are asked to believe that the deaths of 4,000 American service men and thousands of Iraqi civilians means something.

Our leaders throw our money away and working people instinctively understand this. That is why working people want to keep their money and hate paying taxes. Working people rarely see how taxes benefit them. They know desperate (or malingers) can get some help. They know that the rich always get richer. All they know is that being working class gets harder every year. Gas and rent prices go higher, but their salaries never seem to catch up. Food costs rise and cutting coupons no longer helps. We eat beans and rice and chicken.

I know that being a member of the working class is hard. Sometimes just getting up to go to work is difficult. Nobody gives the worker respect these days and the pay you bring home does not afford you even the simple dignities of an earlier time. A place to call your own. A secure retirement and benefits that do force you to lean on family and the state.

But working people have a calling. Karl Marx knew that. Things will only get better if working people band together. It takes energy and commitment to locate the true enemies of working people. It takes a strong will and willingness to see the counter intuitive. Working people need to understand the errors that our brains make in logic and thinking. We cannot examine the world from just our experiences. We must trust logic, science and the empirical descriptions of the world that violate everything our guts tell us.

Barack Obama will lower working people's taxes more than John McCain. I know that does not square with what most working people feel. But working people need to stop feeling so much. They need to avoid emotional conclusions. They need to look to facts and logic. That is not to say the rich are logical and the poor are irrational. I don't believe that for a second and it was not the point I was trying to make. My point is that the rich can afford to be irrational. The working poor cannot.

So here is at long last the copy of the e-mail I sent to my parents. If you want send this e-mail or website to those republicans on your e-mail that annoy you by sending you copies of Sarah Palin is a wonderful human and never lies about putting her airplane on E-Bay. I think they deserve it. I know it sounds like I am talking down to my fellow working class members, but I hope I am not. And if I am. Well sometimes they need to be. That is what Obama means by stop holding on to your guns and religion. Sometimes you need to examine the world from a scientific and reasoned perspective. Actually you probably need to all the time. But let's start at least at problems in the real world need to be addressed by real factors in the real world with real solutions, not blame. Maybe you should include this post with the email. I am considering sending it to my family who will be horrified that I talked about our poverty.

The E-mail was:

A little known website that allows you to see how much of a tax cut you will get if Barack Obama is elected. Did you know that 95% of all tax payers will get a tax cut with Barrack Obama Tax Plan? Go calculate your tax cut at the website below!

According to the Chicago Sun Times an independent tax group found that:

"The rich would pay more under Barack Obama's tax plan, and the poor and middle-class would pay less, a nonpartisan analysis finds. Under John McCain's plan, the rich would pay much less than they do now, the poor and middle-class would pay a bit less, and the federal deficit would grow, the study found."

Barack Obama's Plan to Provide Middle Class Americans Tax Relief:

Obama will cut income taxes by $1,000 for working families to offset the payroll tax they pay. Provide a Tax Cut for Working Families: Obama will restore fairness to the tax code and provide 150 million workers the tax relief they need.

Obama will create a new "Making Work Pay" tax credit of up to $500 per person, or $1,000 per working family.

The "Making Work Pay" tax credit will completely eliminate income taxes for 10 million Americans. Eliminate Income Taxes for Seniors Making Less than $50,000:

Barack Obama will eliminate all income taxation of seniors making less than $50,000 per year. This proposal will eliminate income taxes for 7 million seniors and provide these seniors with an average savings of $1,400 each year.

Under the Obama plan, 27 million American seniors will also not need to file an income tax return. Simplify Tax Filings for Middle Class Americans: Obama will dramatically simplify tax filings so that millions of Americans will be able to do their taxes in less than five minutes.

Obama will ensure that the IRS uses the information it already gets from banks and employers to give taxpayers the option of pre-filled tax forms to verify, sign and return.

Experts estimate that the Obama proposal will save Americans up to 200 million total hours of work and aggravation and up to $2 billion in tax preparer fees. I should point out that if you make 5 million dollars or more a year then might want to consider voting for McCain. Otherwise if all you care about is your money, then voting Republican if you are middle class or poor is against your economic interests.

Republicans are for smaller government Really? Did the government get smaller during Reagan, Bush I or II? Federal Spending increased dramatically.

Deregulation? Did not reduce the number of laws under republican presidents (again a dramatic increase). Deregulation allows companies and lobbyists to write the laws instead of a watch dog government. That is why we got the savings and loan disaster (Bush). That is why we ENRON. (Bush II)That is why we get housing collapse.


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