The Letter

From Dallas Dennyhttp://dallasdenny.com/Chrysalis/2012/07/22/the-letter/

By Dallas Denny
7/22/2012

Reposted with permission

Again this piece was reposted to TransAdvocate on July 20, 2013: http://www.transadvocate.com/theletter.htm  It was there I first became aware of it and thought it should be reposted.

When I learned Routledge Press was planning to publish a book about transgenderism by Australian academician Sheila Jeffreys, I was astonished.

Why was I astonished? Because Jeffreys considers transsexual surgery a human rights violation, has called medical intervention with transgendered children eugenics and McCarthyism, and refuses to use appropriate pronouns when referring to us, cynically claiming she is seeking “clarity.”

 I identity FTMs and MTFs by the pronouns that demonstrate their sex class of origin for the sake of clarity.

FTM Transsexualism and Grief

When transgender voices are raised in opposition to her written words, she calls it censorship and vilification:

Criticism of the practice of transgenderism is being censored as a result of a campaign of vilification by transgender activists of anyone who does not accept the new orthodoxy on this issue…The degree of vituperation and the energy expended by the activists may suggest that they fear the practice of transgenderism could justifiably be subjected to criticism, and might not stand up to rigorous research and debate, if critics were allowed to speak out.

 –Let Us Be Free to Debate Transgenderism…

To be sure, transgender voices are raised against Jeffreys— some immoderately—but she sees an organized conspiracy that wants her dead.

Jeffreys and fellow fringe feminists— [(the late) Mary Daly, Janice Raymond, and assorted colleagues-in-arms]— challenge our motivations, our identities, the medical procedures we use, and indeed, our very existence. They debase us in writing, and their writing stimulates others to hate and persecute us..

Standing arm-in-arm behind these academics is a (fortunately small) cadre of vicious, irrational, and sometimes batshit crazy radical separatist feminists who belligerently harass and ridicule transpeople, out them in their communities and on their jobs, engage in ad hominem attacks in print, and (not just in their imagination, but in fact) wish us dead.

These trans-hating women comprise the most extreme arm of the radical feminist movement, and even of lesbian separatist feminists. By way of contrast, think Audre Lorde and Maya Angelou.

Feminist Communities

Radical feminists are a group within the larger third wave of feminism that arguably arose in the 1980s. Radical feminism is centered upon “patriarchy as a system of power that organizes society into a complex of relationships based on the assertion that male supremacy oppresses women.” Male sexuality and even male existence is considered the root of all oppression of women. Radical feminists broke from the larger and more sex-positive feminist community around issues of sex and sexuality.

Separatist feminism is a subset of radical feminists who believe patriarchy can best be defeated by an exclusive focus upon women (this mean to some adherents active avoidance and exclusion of men and boys, even infants). It was launched symbolically in 1967, when Valarie Solanas self-published her SCUM Manifesto (Solanas is best-known for her attempted murder of artist Andy Warhol just months later.

Although some separatist feminisms are heterosexual, almost by definition most are lesbian, and indeed, lesbianism is required in many circles.

We do think that all feminists can and should be lesbians. Our definition of a political lesbian is a woman-identified woman who does not fuck men. It does not mean compulsory sexual activity with women.

 –Love Your Enemy (Sheila Jeffreys was one of the authors)

Lesbian separatist is certainly the most extreme form of feminism. Many lesbian separatists exclude all males from their lives and certainly males are unwelcome at their events.

“J’Accuse!”

By the mid-1970s (and probably before) lesbian separatists were focusing upon male-to-female transsexuals as tools of the patriarchy who symbolically invaded womens’ space with their bodies.

All transsexuals rape women’s bodies by reducing the real female form to an artifact, appropriating this body for themselves. However, the transsexually constructed lesbian feminist violates women’s sexuality and spirit, as well. Rape, although it is usually done by force, can also be accomplished by deception.

– Raymond, 1979, p. 134

By the late 1970s the letter columns of lesbian journals were filled with denunciations of transsexual women, who until then had found safe space in womens’ communities. Transsexual women suddenly found themselves excluded from womens’ spaces— often with great hostility. Many transsexual women who had been active participants in such spaces for years were removed. Beth Elliott, for example, was Vice-President of the West Coast chapter of the early homophile organization Daughters of Bilitis:

 Late in her term of office [Beth Elliott’s] transgender status became a point of contention at the West Coast Lesbian Conference, where she was outed and vilified for being a MTF transsexual. The complaint was that Beth Elliott had insinuated herself into a position of power over as a patriarchal man, a propagandist ploy that was to become common when attacking other transgendered people. At the conference she was forced to stop her music concert due to the catcalls from the audience by women that knew nothing more about her than that she was transsexual. She was required to sit through a popular vote of the attendees to determine whether they would let her finish her set. In the weeks and months to follow she was further vilified and even betrayed by women who had once called her friend.

 – The Gay, Lesbian, and Feminist Backlash Against Trans Folks

Enter Janice Raymond

Perhaps the most notable example of this exclusion was Janice Raymond’s denunciation of engineer Sandy (Now Allucquere Rosanne) Stone, a transsexual woman who was part of the Olivia Women’s Music Collective. Stone became Olivia’s sound engineer in 1974.

Stone’s departure from Olivia Records was spearheaded by Raymond, who, in 1976 sent Olivia a draft of the chapter of her forthcoming book The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male.

In 1979, the lesbian feminist scholar Janice Raymond mounted an ad hominem attack on Stone in The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male. Raymond accused Stone by name of plotting to destroy the Olivia Records collective and womanhood in general with “male energy.” In 1976, prior to publication, Raymond had sent a draft of the chapter attacking Stone to the Olivia collective “for comment,” apparently in anticipation of outing Stone. Raymond appeared unaware that Stone had informed the collective of her transgender status before agreeing to join. The collective did return comments to Raymond, suggesting that her description of transgender and of Stone’s place in and effect on the collective was at odds with the reality of the collective’s interaction with Stone. Raymond responded by increasing the virulence of her attack on Stone in the published version of the manuscript.

Wikipedia: Sandy Stone

Fueled by Ramond’s vendetta, Olivia came under attack in various lesbian journals. Eventually, and apparently by mutual consent, Stone left the Olivia Collective.

The Transsexual Empire

Raymond’s book, which was published in 1979, was a vicious political attack on male-to-female transsexualism, the doctors who treated them, and transsexuals themselves. Its premise was ridiculous premise, its language pejorative language, and it was completely lacking in empirical evidence. Make no mistake: Raymond disguised her hatred of us in a thin veneer of scholarship. Nonetheless, Empire was well-received. Today, more than 30 years after its release, it remains in print and continues to fuel hate toward transsexuals, especially in lesbian separatist communities.

Raymond was a protégé of feminist Mary Daly, who, in her 1978 book Gyn/Ecology, called transsexuals “Frankensteinian” (see here for a discussion of Daly’s transphobic writing) Daly was in fact Raymond’s thesis adviser at Boston College.

 The phenomenon of the drag queen dramatically demonstrates such boundary violation. Like whites playing “black face,” he incorporates the oppressed role without being incorporated in it. In the phenomenon of transsexualism, the incorporation/confusion is deeper. As ethicist Janice Raymond has pointed out, the majority of transsexuals are “male to female,” while transsexed females basically function as tokens, and are used by the rulers of the transsexual empire to hide the real nature of the game. In transsexualism, males put on “female” bodies (which are in fact pseudofemale).

 –Daly,1978, pp. 67-68, cited in Sungold, 2010

Raymond’s Empire is not a work of science. In it she name-calls, misuses pronouns, engages in personal attacks on transsexual women, and reprints a quote from an obviously satirical letter by transsexual activist Angela Douglas as if it were serious. The Methods section of her doctoral dissertation (upon which the book is based) is almost entirely rhetoric; her description of her “interview subjects” (I don’t believe there actually were any) does not include demographic information, interview techniques or sample questions, or even the number and category of subjects. Raymond’s is the antithesis of a Methods section; it does nothing to help other scholars review, understand, and replicate her work.

Moreover, this “wonderful” (according to Sheila Jeffreys) work is filled with personal attacks on transsexual women like Stone and Renee Richards. For example, in my copy of Empire she writes of Richards, “.. it takes (castrated) balls to play womens’ tennis.”

Raymond supplemented her personal attacks on transsexual women with actions deliberately designed to make insurance coverage and medical technologies unavailable to them. For example, in 1980 she prepared a paper for the National Center for Health Care Technology; her conclusions were predictable.

In a 1995 interview in the journal TransSisters: The Journal of Transsexual Feminism, Sandy Stone revealed that prior to Raymond’s attacks on her, she (Raymond) had an unrequited crush on her (Stone). Here, perhaps, is the private motivation for Raymond’s viciousness toward transsexuals. Or perhaps not; perhaps her work is entirely ideologically based. In either case, Raymond has deliberately done great harm to transsexuals, whose only crime was their very existence.

Empire Redux?

Now another radical separatist lesbian feminist with a grudge against transgendered people (please re-read the first paragraphs) has a book in production. Sheila Jeffreys and Lorene Gottschalk’s Gender Hurts: A Feminist Analysis of the Politics of Transgenderism is scheduled for publication in 2013 by Routledge, an imprint of Taylor & Francis Publishers.

Since Jeffreys has a history of harsh criticism (some say hate speech) about transsexual people and those who work with them, since she is clearly nursing a grudge because of perceived attacks upon her by transgendered and transsexual activists, since Gottschalk is Jeffrey’s former graduate student, since transgender issues have been only peripheral in Jeffreys’ past work, I am gravely concerned her book will reprise the more hateful elements of Raymond’s Empire. I expect deliberate pronoun misidentification and disingenuous interpretations of us, the data about us, the medical professionals who treat us, and the motivation, identities, and history of a community that for decades has been struggling for acceptance.

In recent months the conflict between Jeffreys and transpeople has heated up. In June, Conway Hall, the venue for the scheduled RadFem 2012 conference, barred her on the basis of past hate speech. A week or so later, the conference itself was banned.

Jeffreys responded with an article in The Guardian, in which she wrote:

Criticism of the practice of transgenderism is being censored as a result of a campaign of vilification by transgender activists of anyone who does not accept the new orthodoxy on this issue… For several years there has been a concerted campaign via the internet and on the ground, to ensure that I, and any other persons who have criticised transgenderism, from any academic discipline, are not given opportunities to speak in public… Whatever the topic of my presentation, and whether in Australia, the UK or the US, transgender activists bombard the organising group and the venue with emails accusing me of transhate, transphobia, hate speech, and seek to have me banned. On blogs, Facebook and Twitter they accuse me of wanting to “eliminate” transgendered persons, and they wish me dead. 

 – Jeffreys, 2012

The Letter

Because of all this, I decided to sent a letter to Routledge, with copies to Taylor & Francis and Informa, Taylor & Francis’ parent company, asking that Jeffreys’ & Gottschalk’s book be removed from their publication schedule. I wrote a draft and asked Dr. Jamison Green if he would be willing to co-sign it. He agreed, and I sent him the draft.

Jamison returned the draft after a couple of days, with revisions. I made the revisions, and then by mistake mailed the draft and not the final copy on June 7, 2012. Unfortunately, the draft had a typo of two and misspelled Dr. Jeffreys’ name as Jeffries. The draft didn’t include several sentences Jamison had added about our reluctance to attempt to suppress a book before we had actually read it.

Before the (draft) letter was mailed, Jamison and I had a conversation about censorship. We agreed that we were not censoring Jeffreys. She was free to write what she wanted. We were merely exercising our own freedom of speech in asking that it not be published. We agreed the potential harm of Jeffreys’ & Gottschalk’s book-in-progress warranted extreme action.

Both Jamison and I have affiliations within the transgender community, but we signed only our names and academic degrees. We wanted it understood this was our action, made by us alone, and without consultation by anyone in the transgender community.

For a copy of the draft letter, click here.

On 5 July, we received a reply from Jeremy North, Managing Director of Books at Taylor & Francis. He assured us of Francis & Taylor’s high academic standards and rigorous vetting process and wrote:

At the top of our criteria in assessing suitability for publication is content that meets the highest standards of academic scholarship. Sheila Jeffreys is an established, albeit sometimes controversial, scholar. Her proposal was subjected to multiple peer review and we are confident on the basis of the scholarly feedback and the author’s track record that is should be published. The manuscript will be subject to a rigorous peer review process.

Once the book has been published and is in the public domain, there will be ample opportunity for it to be discussed, debated and criticised in the usual academic forums, but, in the meantime, we don’t think it is appropriate to enter into any further discussion.

We thanked Dr. North for his letter, and that was the end of it.

Only it wasn’t the end of it.

Probably because I sent the draft (I had not yet discovered my mistake) letter (with Jamison’s permission) to the Transgendernews Yahoo list, several radical feminists picked up on it. They took great note of our misspelling of Jeffreys’ name and the typos in the text and accused us of censorship, bookburning, and fascism—and they mistakenly claimed our letter was an effort of various trans organizations to discredit Jeffreys. Much was made of Jamison’s President-Elect status at the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. (See here). For some reason, a longer blogpost by the same author has been taken down.)

Then it got personal.

One post attempted psychological histories of both Jamison and myself, based upon fragmentary data scrounged from the Internet. The author was, fortunately or unfortunately, not very smart. My history as an army brat was taken to mean not that I had a parent in the U.S. military, but that I myself had served—and in the Navy, at that!

 “Dallas was raised as an army brat in bases all over the world. He started going out as a girl in his teens.”

The military is an organisation of hyper-masculinisation, but rejecting hyper-masculinity does not make a male into a female. It is somewhat of a coincidence that several prominent transactivists – Autumn Sandeen and Monica Helms – are both ex-Navy also.

 – DavinaSquirrel, 2012

Things went downhill after that.

Jamison’s profiling was more rudimentary, doubtless because the author had found less information on his personal life.

The radical feminist trolls were, as might be expected, vicious and personal in their comments about us, but got distracted by a bright dangly toy. Most of the comments were devoted to deconstructing the WPATH logo, which they predictably found phallic and debasing to women.

Yes, the first thing that struck me with the logo was the arrow seeming to rape / impregnate the female part. You can really see it’s all about men’s cocks invading women.

Things seem to have died down for the moment, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were additional flareups. No matter. They can say what they want.

As for Jamison and myself, we did what we needed to do and we’re glad we did it.

 

Works Cited

 All links were verified 7-18-2012

Bindel, Julie. (2005, 1 July). The ugly side of beauty. The Guardian. 

 Brown, Kay. (n.d.). The Gay, Lesbian, and Feminist Backlash Against Trans Folks. Queers Without Borders. Originally published at TransHistory.net.

Bugbrennan. (2012, 1 July). Trans organization wants to censor books. I Probably Don’t Like You Very Much.

Daly, Mary. (1978). Gyn/Ecology: The metaethics of radical feminism. Boston: Beacon Press.

Davinasquirrel. (2012, 2 July). Background on Jamison Green and Dallas Denny. Radfem Groundhog Day.

Gabriel, D.A. (1995). Interview with the transsexual vampire: Sandy Stone’s dark gift. TransSisters: The Journal of Transsexual Feminism, 8, 14-27.

Jeffreys, Sheila. (2002, Summer Solstice). FTM Transsexualism and grief. Rain and Thunder.

Jeffreys, Sheila. (2011, 20 April). The McCarthyism of transgender and the sterilization of transgender children. GenderTrender.

Jeffreys, Sheila. (2011, 8 November). Eugenics and the practice of transgendering children. The Conversation,

Jeffreys, Sheila. (2012, 29 May). Let us be free to debate transgenderism without being accused of “hate speech.” The Guardian.

Love your Enemy: Debate Between Heterosexual Feminism and Political Lesbianism. Onlywomen Press Collective. (1981).

Raymond, J. (1979). The transsexual empire: The making of the she-male. Boston: Beacon Press.

Raymond, J.G. (1980). Paper prepared for the National Center for Health Care Technology on the social and ethical aspects of transsexual surgery. Rockville, MD: National Center for Health Care Technology.

Sandy Stone. Wikipedia. 

Sungold. (2010, 7 January.). Frankenstein, necrophilia, and the final solution: How transphobic was Mary Daly, really? Kittywampus: Slightly skewed views on feminism, lesbianism, politics, parenthood, and the occasional kitty.

 

Note :In her 1979 book The Transsexual Empire, Janice Raymond discounted female-to-male transsexuals as tokens. In the 1994 revision she acknowledged the increasing number of FTMs and attempted to include them into her shaky theoretical framework.

Today, transmen are squarely in the sights of radical separatist feminists.

Passing and Stealth: Two Words to Lose? Part Two

From  Tranifesto:  http://tranifesto.com/2009/10/22/passing-and-stealth-two-words-to-lose-part-two/

By Matt Kailey
October 22, 2009

Reposted with permission

This was reposted on TransAdvocate:  http://www.transadvocate.com/passing-and-stealth-two-words-to-lose-part-two.htm on July 24. I’m reposting it here as part of the dialogue that was started by Lynn Conway’s piece on Huffington Post.

Oddly enough  I too find words like passing, stealth and out to be less and less relevant as the years go by. 

As time passes these things are more matters of privacy and levels of intimacy with some levels preserved for good friends as a matter of self defense.

Suzan

Stealth has always reminded me of military aircraft (stealth bombers), trailing someone at a distance, or peeking around corners, dressed in a black overcoat and sunglasses.

I know the word has a long history in the trans community, and in that context, I take it to mean not being out (at least not to most people), and simply living in mainstream male or female culture as the man or woman that a person is.

It makes sense, but while the word doesn’t offend me, and almost every trans person I know uses the word as a descriptor, even if they are not “living stealth” themselves, I’m not fond of it. To my mind, it represents a secret — not the “I have a secret, bet you’ll never guess what it is, hah hah” kind of secret, but the “black overcoat and sunglasses” kind of secret … the “I’m in disguise” kind of secret. But we’re not in disguise.

A person who believes himself to be a man and who lives as a man is a man, regardless of the body he has. If he was born with a female body (or, to be PC, assigned female at birth), that does not make him a “disguised woman.”

Now there have been people who were disguised women, such as those women in history who dressed as men to fight in wars or to hold down certain jobs that they were not allowed to have as women. But if they identified as women and dressed and presented as men for a specific purpose only, such as a job, then, in my mind, they were not trans (I know I’ll get some arguments on this — that’s fine; that’s the point of having comments), although they were transgressing gender norms — but only because they had to.

They were women in disguise for a purpose. When the war ended or they changed jobs or they went home at night, they were women — they were, in fact, always women. They simply dressed and presented as men to escape some confine of their gender.

But transsexual men are not women in disguise, regardless of what is under their clothes (this goes for transsexual women as well, in reverse). Transsexual men are men. They can choose to identify as trans or not, they can be out or not, but if they identify as men, then they are men.

And this long diatribe brings me back to the reason I don’t like the word stealth — because, like passing, it indicates some measure of secrecy or deception. It indicates a disguise.

As I said in my post about passing, it is my opinion that if I am “passing” for a man, then I am not a man. The same thing holds true for me with the word “stealth.” If I am “living stealth,” then I am living in secret. I’m secretly a woman living as a man — and I don’t think that’s true.

I also don’t think that’s what stealth means to those trans people who use the term to describe themselves. But that’s how the term comes across to me, and possibly to non-trans people, and that’s why I don’t like it.

Everyone has secrets. Maybe the woman with a mastectomy who uses a prosthetic breast, or the man with a colostomy bag who doesn’t show it to everyone he meets, or the person with a prosthetic leg who doesn’t wear shorts is living stealth as well — as is the person with clinical depression or with cancer who doesn’t reveal it to all.

But the truth is that they are not really “living stealth” — they are simply maintaining a level of privacy to which everyone is entitled, including trans people. They are not living “in disguise,” and neither are we. We are who we are, whether we are public about it or not.

We are not sneaking around restrooms, peeking around corners, or even flying under somebody’s radar. We are just living our natural-born lives (and they are natural-born, no matter what body we had or have).

My biggest concern about the word “stealth” is not how it might come across to non-trans people, although I certainly don’t think it comes across favorably — my biggest concern is how, like “passing,” it comes across psychologically to us.

If we think we are “passing” every day as something we’re not, or if we think that we are “living stealth,” or living a secret, it can make integrating our identity as the men and women that we are more difficult. It can make us feel as if we are, or should be, hiding. It can make us feel as if we are “in disguise” all the time — and that is not a good way to feel.

In the comments for my “passing” post, a reader suggested “blending in,” which I like a lot better. I have used “assimilation” to describe the situation of those people who live as men and women without the “trans” label or without being out about it. That word has its own problems, but it is the closest that I have been able to come so far to the concept represented by “stealth.”

But I would be fine with both “passing” and “stealth” going by the wayside and just “man” or “woman” taking their place.

Thoughts?

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Mia Macy, Transgender Woman Denied Employment By ATF, Wins Major Victory In Discrimination Case

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/18/mia-macy-transgender_n_3612874.html

By Aaron Sankin Posted: 07/18/2013

Transgender advocates were handed a victory earlier this week when the Department of Justice ruled that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) broke the law in not offering a job to a ballistics expert after discovering that she was transgender.

In June of 2011, Mia Macy, a military veteran who had worked as a detective on the Phoenix, Ariz. police force, filed suit against the ATF. In it, she claimed that her transgender status was the reason she was not selected for a position as a ballistics forensics technician at an agency field office in the San Francisco suburb of Walnut Creek.

When Macy began the application process, she identified as male. By the time the final hiring decision was made, Macy had changed her name and now identifies as a woman.

The decision requires that ATF offer Macy the position, provide back pay and benefits with interest, as well as cover her legal costs. In addition, the agency will be forced to implement anti-discrimination policies for that particular facility.

“It’s a victory for all transgender people to know that we have a voice, that we have recourse, and that when it comes to workplace protections we deserve to make a living,” said Macy in a statement. “I couldn’t be happier.”

According to the DoJ’s 51-page report, Macy applied for a position where she would use a computer program to match digital images of the markings on bullet casings from crime scenes with those stored in an ATF database. Macy has said she is one of about 40 people in the United States certified by the agency to use the software, and insisted that she was never informed that she “lacked any qualifications for the job.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/18/mia-macy-transgender_n_3612874.html

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Gay and Transgender Migrants Face Staggering Violence in Mexico

From The Atlantic:  http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/07/gay-and-transgender-migrants-face-staggering-violence-in-mexico/277915/

LGBTQ people endure a treacherous journey on the way to a better life.


Jul 18 2013

Tapachula, Mexico — Julio Campo kept to himself during his three-night stay last month in a resting house for migrants, but a few cold, lingering stares made him uneasy.

“I felt like a joke, like I was immediately disliked,” explained Campo, 30, a migrant from El Salvador who is gay. “It was just very uncomfortable and I wanted to get out quickly.”

The fear that Campo felt in the migrant shelter is manifesting into a unique challenge for church officials who run Mexico’s scattered, free stopovers for migrants. Faced with increasingly higher numbers of arriving gay male and transgender female migrants, some shelters are starting to separately house people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT).

“We’re seeing more and more transgender migrants and it’s difficult for the migrant houses because they don’t know where to place them,” said Leticia Gutierrez Valderrama, executive secretary of the Pastoral de Movilidad Humana, a humanitarian branch of the Catholic Church that runs 66 migrant shelters. “The women say ‘No, he is a man, I don’t want him here,’ and the men say, ‘We don’t want to be staying with a woman.'”

But the risks for transgender migrants, in particular, are greater than just the discrimination they face. Nearly 36 percent of transgender people who stayed in a migrant shelter in Mexico reported experiencing some form of violence, according to a 2013 study of 862 migrants conducted by the Mexican National Institute of Public Health. Meanwhile, 57 percent of transgender migrants who did not stay in a shelter reported violence.

The prevalence of violence among this particular group – which accounted for roughly 3 percent of all migrants – surpassed that of women, another vulnerable population. About 27 percent of female migrants who stayed in a shelter reported experiencing violence, but the rate rose to 35 percent for those who did not stop in shelters. The rates were much lower for men — in that group, 20 percent who stayed in shelters, and 21.3 who did not, reported violence.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/07/gay-and-transgender-migrants-face-staggering-violence-in-mexico/277915/

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Blessed Are the Rich

From Creatorshttp://www.creators.com/opinion/jim-hightower/blessed-are-the-rich.html

Jim Hightower
17 Jul 2013

One thing I’ve come to value in the last couple of years is the altruism and keen economic insights of the fourth-richest man in America: Charles Koch.

 

Even though Koch was raised rich and has now amassed a personal fortune of about $34 billion, he recently gave us a deeper sense of his true worth, measured not in dollars, but in values.

 

“We want to do a better job of raising up the disadvantaged and the poorest in this country,” he declared. Excellent thought — FDR couldn’t have put it better! Noting that a big problem for the poor is that the Powers That Be “keep throwing obstacles in their way,” Koch cut to the chase, saying, “We’ve got to clear those out.”

 

Yes, Charlie, I’m with you! Clear out such barriers as the offshoring of middle class jobs, union busting, poorly funded schools and the lack of affordable health care, housing and child care.

 

But, alas, that’s not at all what Koch had in mind as obstacles to be cleared out. Rather, he proposes to “help” poor people by eliminating — ready? — “the minimum wage.” Why? Because, explains this clueless son-of-the-rich, having a wage floor “reduces the mobility of labor.”

 

In case you don’t dwell in the plutocratic, narcissistic, Ayn Randian fantasyland where the Kochs hang out, “labor mobility” is right-wing psychobabble for social Darwinism. Remove all remnants of America’s economic safety net, they coldly theorize (while wallowing in their nests of luxury), and the poor will be “freed” to become billionaires.

 

As Charles puts it, if the disadvantaged had no protections in the workplace and no government programs to ameliorate their poverty, they would then have to scramble just to live, thus freeing them from reliance on society’s helping hand. Freeing them to do what? Well, Koch says, they could then “start a business … drive a taxicab … become a hairdresser.”

 

What a visionary he is! Where you and I might see people trapped in debilitating poverty, Charles sees a Brave New World of billionaire hairdressers!

Continue reading at:  http://www.creators.com/opinion/jim-hightower/blessed-are-the-rich.html

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Detroit’s decline is a distinctively capitalist failure

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/23/detroit-decline-distinctively-capitalist-failure

The auto industry Big Three were loyal only to shareholders, not the people of Detroit. The city was gutted by that social choice


guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 23 July 2013

Capitalism as a system ought to be judged by its failures as well as its successes.

The automobile-driven economic growth of the 1950s and 1960s made Detroit a globally recognized symbol of successful capitalist renewal after the great depression and the war (1929-1945). High-wage auto industry jobs with real security and exemplary benefits were said to prove capitalism’s ability to generate and sustain a large “middle class”, one that could include African Americans, too. Auto-industry jobs became inspirations and models for what workers across America might seek and acquire – those middle-class components of a modern “American Dream”.

True, quality jobs in Detroit were forced from the automobile capitalists by long and hard union struggles, especially across the 1930s. Once defeated in those struggles, auto capitalists quickly arranged to rewrite the history so that good wages and working conditions became something they “gave” to their workers. In any case, Detroit became a vibrant, world-class city in the 1950s and 1960s; its distinctive culture and sound shaped the world’s music much as its cars shaped the world’s industries.

Over the past 40 years, capitalism turned that success into the abject failure culminating now in the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history.

The key decision-makers – major shareholders in General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, etc, and the boards of directors they selected – made many disastrous decisions. They failed in competition with European and Japanese automobile capitalists and so lost market share to them. They responded too slowly and inadequately to the need to develop new fuel-saving technologies. And, perhaps most tellingly, they responded to their own failures by deciding to move production out of Detroit so they could pay other workers lower wages.

The automobile companies’ competitive failures, and then their moves, had two key economic consequences. First, they effectively undermined the economic foundation of Detroit’s economy. Second, they thereby dealt a major blow to any chances for an enduring US middle class. The past 40 years have displayed those consequences and the capitalist system’s inability or unwillingness to stop, let alone reverse, them.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/23/detroit-decline-distinctively-capitalist-failure

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Boehner Brags About Turning America Into Detroit

From Truth Out:  http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/17724-boehner-brags-about-turning-american-into-detroit

By The Daily Take, The Thom Hartmann Program
Monday, 22 July 2013

Over the weekend, CBS’ Bob Schieffer asked Speaker of the House John Boehner very bluntly about the current gridlock in Congress, its failure to pass any important legislation and its record-low approval ratings among the American people.
Boehner responded by saying that, “We should not be judged by how many new laws we create, we ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal.”
In other words, “Laws are bad and government is bad, so who needs either.”
Instead of working to pass the legislation that this nation desperately needs to get back on its feet and to rebuild its economy, Boehner would rather see our great nation end up like the now bankrupt Detroit. And boy is Boehner’s wish coming true.
Detroit used to be the industrial capital of America, and really the world.  But, starting with Reagan, our industrial and trade policies began to change. As a result, our nation moved from a manufacturing based economy to a banking and serviced based economy. Instead of making things, we now say “would you like fries with that,” “welcome to WalMart,” and “there’s a $5.00 fee for using your credit card that way.” We embraced free trade deals, and jumped head first into outsourcing policies that vastly increased corporate profits while shipping hundreds of thousands of jobs overseas.
As a result, many of the jobs that were once done in factories in Detroit are now done in factories in China and other nations.  And the same holds true for the rest of America.
When given a chance to stop the outsourcing of American jobs overseas, Speaker Boehner and his Republican colleagues balked. In September of 2010, Republicans in Congress killed a bill that would have eliminated tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs.
But outsourcing isn’t the only problem that Detroit and the rest of America have in common.
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