Sources

Here are the sources for my ongoing series on Critical Theory on The Progressive Cop

Bacher, C. (2005). Capitalism, Ethics and the Paradoxon of Self-Exploitation. GRIN Verlag.

Barker, D. C., & Carman, C. J. (2000). The Spirit of Capitalism? Religious Doctrine, Values, and Economic Attitude Constructs. Political Behavior , 22 (1), 1-27.

Bohman, J. (2005, March 8). Critical Theory. Retrieved March 2012, from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/critical-theory/

Capitalism Magazine. (2011). What is Capitalism. Retrieved February 2012, from Capitalism.org: http://capitalism.org/

Congressional Budget Office. (2011). Trends in the Distribution of Household Income between 1979 and 2007. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Connolly, W. E. (2005). The Evangelical-Capitalist Resonance Machine. Political Theory , 33 (6), 869-886.

Coser, L. A. (1977). Masters of Sociological Thought. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.

Gallup Jr, G. H. (2003, September 2). How Are American Christians Living Their Faith? Part III. Retrieved April 2012, from Gallup: http://www.gallup.com/poll/9172/How-American-Christians-Living-Their-Faith-Part.aspx

Held, D. (1980). Introduction to Critical Theory. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Kellner, D. (1989). Critical Theory, Marxism and Modernity. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Publishing.

Kilcullen, J. (1996). Max Weber: On Capitalism. Retrieved April 2012, from Macquarie University: Modern Political Theory: http://www.humanities.mq.edu.au/Ockham/y64l10.html

Kloppenberg, J. T. (1987). The Virtues of Liberalism: Christianity, Republicanism, and Ethics in Early American Political Discourse. Journal of American History , 74 (1), 9-33.

Landauer, J., & Rowlands, J. (2001). Definition of Capitalism. Retrieved February 2012, from Importance of Philosophy: http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Politics_Capitalism.html

*Marx, K. (1867). Capital. Amazon Kindle Edition.

Marx, K. (1875). Part I: Critique of the Gotha Program. Retrieved March 2012, from Marxists.org: htp://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works1875/gotha/ch01.htm

*Marx, K., & Engels, F. (1848). The Communist Manifesto. Amazon Kindle Edition.

McGuire, M. B. (2002). Religion: The Social Context. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.

Moehlmann, C. H. (1922). What are the Fundamentals of Christianity? Journal of Religion , 2 (1), 16-26.

New York Times. (2011, April 5). The Budget Battles: Prosperity for Whom? Retrieved April 2012, from New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/06/opinion/06wed2.html?_r=1#

Newport, F. (2011, December 11). Chrisitianity Remains Dominant Religion in the United States. Retrieved April 2012, from Gallup: http://www.gallup.com/poll/151760/Christianity-Remains-Dominant-Religion-United-States.aspx

Paul, G. (2011, August 12). From Jesus’ Socialism to Capitalistic Christianity. Retrieved March 2012, from Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/from-jesus-socialism-to-capitalistic-christianity/2011/08/12/gIQAziaQBJ_blog.html

Porta, D. D., & Diani, M. (2006). Social Movements. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Ribuffo, L. P. (1981). Jesus Christ as Business Statesman: Bruce Barton and the Selling of Corporate Capitalism. American Quarterly , 33 (2), 206-231.

Rohlf, M. (2010, March 20). Immanuel Kant. Retrieved March 2012, from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant/#CriEnl

Russell Sage Foundation. (2006). The Social Dimensions of Inequality. Retrieved April 2012, from Russell Sage Foundation: http://web.archive.org/web/20060529093606/http://www.russellsage.org/programs/main/inequality/program_view

Seiler, R. M. (2006, January). Human Communication in the Critical Theory Tradition. Retrieved April 2012, from University of Calgary: http://people.ucalgary.ca/~rseiler/critical.htm

*Smith, A. (1776). The Wealth of Nations. London: Amazon Kindle Edition.

U.S. Census Bureau. (2012). Household Income Inequality Within U.S. Counties: 2006-2010. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

U.S. Census Bureau. (2011). Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States. Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2011). Household Food Security in the United States in 2010. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

*Weber, M. (1905). The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Amazon Kindle Edition.

* Amazon Kindle Editions do not provide a page number. Instead, the page number in citation represents approximate location within the text.

With the Blood of Patriots

Today, my friend and author of The Progressive Cop posted an article that makes my heart weep. In this post he details the sad chain of humiliating events experienced by a local veteran in the VA hospital in Northwest Arkansas. The post also discusses the apathetic response from Representative Steve Womack when the veteran attempted to reach out for help.

I’m trying really hard to keep my anger in check, here. I am trying desperately to think of any reason why this incident would go on ignored, unreported, and unassisted by a man elected to serve the people of his district! Here’s a quote right from his page:

“I’m elated by the fact that my sub-committees assignments will allow me to better serve the people of the Third District.”

Really, Mr. Womack? You had a veteran reach out to you for help, trying to show you how he was treated in a hospital that should have been dedicated to helping. You proudly proclaim that your assignments will allow you to better serve the people in your district, but instead, when asked to serve, you blow the guy off! What does that say about you? What does that say about us? You obviously don’t listen to your constituents. I sent you a heartfelt letter (because you were unavailable when I called), and the response I got was a slap in the face. When I asked you to look out for the women of America, you turned it around, saying that it was an attack on religious freedoms.

Here’s the brutal, bloody truth: Representative Steve Womack has proudly proclaimed that he supports Representative Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” Budget. Don’t believe me? He said so! (He said it here, too)

Here is what happens if that budget passes the Senate:

  • $4.2 Billion cut from the proposed Veteran’s Affairs Department projected budget needs for the next fiscal year
  • 2.2 million Afghanistan and Iraqi vets are going to start coming home, and they’re going to need services provided by the VA.
  • With this, the VA will need even more staff and facilities than before.
  • The approximately 107,000 veterans of all wars who are now homeless? Expect that number to climb.

So there you go, Mr. Womack. I hope you’re still proud. Not only did you entirely blow off a veteran who came to you for assistance, but you’re also throwing mud in the face of every veteran in America. When you brag that you’re “serious about America’s future,” I hope the thousands of veterans who are left standing empty-handed when the dust settles haunt your dreams.

These are the men and women who have sacrificed time, family, and careers to serve our military. They have watched friends and loved ones die. They have children back home they have never seen, and those children have parents they will never meet. Their blood is flowing in the streets, overwhelming the hospitals and the clinics, and it is on your hands. Mr. Womack, you are killing our veterans, and I am ashamed to call you my representative.

Understanding Romney – Breaking down the Social Issues

I think perhaps one of the problems facing Americans as we head into this political season is the barrage of political rhetoric that the American people are subject to. It is my intention with this post to distill some of the positions of the front-runner GOP candidates. Most of the material here can easily be located around the web, or at least from some of the televised debates held during the GOP caucuses. As Mitt Romney appears to be the current favorite, we’ll start with him. Depending on the length of this post, this may be broken down into a series. This post, and subsequent posts regarding position, is meant to be an unbiased presentation of facts in an effort to present impartial truth.

Mr. Money

Social Issues

Abortion: Romney has been somewhat of a flip-flop regarding abortion issues. In 1994 during a debate Romney stated:

 I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I have since the time that my mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a US Senate candidate. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it, and I sustain and support that law, and the right of a woman to make that choice, and my personal beliefs, like the personal beliefs of other people, should not be brought into a political campaign.

Romney supported the implementation of Roe v Wade, and held that support for over a decade. His platform for his gubernatorial in Massachusetts declared:

As Governor, Mitt Romney would protect the current pro-choice status quo in Massachusetts. No law would change. The choice to have an abortion is a deeply personal one. Women should be free to choose based on their own beliefs, not the government’s.

This won Romney the support of the Pro-Choice coalition. However, in 2007, when he decided to put his name in for the Presidency, Romney decided to change his stance.

“Over the last multiple years, as you know, I have been effectively pro-choice, I never called myself that as a label but I was effectively pro-choice and that followed a personal experience in my extended family that led to that conclusion… In a very liberal state has been on the side of favoring life, I am firmly pro-life.”

Romney has yet to declare a stance on Personhood Legislation. He is, however, opposed to legislation that criminalizes abortion. It appears that his largest issue with abortion is not the act itself, but that it is decided on the federal level, rather than allowing for state regulation and voter implementation. He wants it to be a state issue, rather than a federal one.

MarriageRomney sticks with most conservatives on the issue of marriage equality. In 2002 during his gubernatorial campaign, he stated:

“Call me old fashioned, but I don’t support gay marriage nor do I support civil union.”

He also stated during that campaign, however, support of hate crime legislation that targeted discrimination against homosexuals, and also gave some support to allowing certain domestic partnership rights to gay and lesbian couples. In 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that the state Constitution allowed for same-sex marriages. In response, Romney supported legislation that amended that Constitution to remove that right.

In 2006, Romney vocally supported the Federal Marriage Amendment, which was an attempt at defining marriage in the US Constitution as a legal union between one man and one woman only. In his 2008 presidential campaign, Romney stated:

[M]y view on marriage has been entirely consistent over my political career. And that is that I oppose same-sex marriage. I also oppose civil unions . . . ever since [same-sex marriage] became a prominent [feature] in my state, with the decision of the Supreme Judicial Court, I have taken every action that I could conceive of within the bounds of the law to defend traditional marriage and to stop same-sex marriage . . . I’ve been to Washington to testify in favor of traditional marriage. I’ve written a letter to every U.S. senator on the topic . . . I believe that traditional marriage is right for the nurturing and development of children, but that I do not want to discriminate against gay people in employment or housing or other parts of their life.

In August 2011, Romney signed the 2012 Presidential Pledge sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage, publicly denouncing any support for marriage equality.

Gun Rights: Romney supports gun ownership rights, but also supports legislation that controls the use of assault weapons.

In 2002, Romney stated:

“We do have tough gun laws in Massachusetts; I support them. I won’t chip away at them; I believe they protect us and provide for our safety.”

In 2004, Romney signed a law banning the use of military-style assault weapons and certain shotguns. This measure took the place of a soon-to-expire federal measure that banned these weapons. When he signed this measure, Romney stated:

“These guns are not made for recreation or self-defense. They are instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people.”

While governor of Massachusetts, Romney has implemented legislature that eases ownership of legal firearms. He extended license expiration, created a grace period for renewal, and signed a law providing free registration renewal. Romney did support the Brady Bill (which imposes a 5-day waiting period on the purchase of certain firearms, and also bans the sale of assault weapons), saying:

“That’s not going to make me the hero of the NRA. I don’t line up with the NRA.”

He has since signed up with the NRA, but stands by his earlier statements regarding the use of assault weapons:

“So I’m a hunter and believe in Second Amendment rights, but I also believe that assault weapons are not needed in the public population.”

So here we have it. I actually find myself in agreement with his stance on firearms, but I worry that his stance could change. If you notice, it’s a fairly common theme with him. There are numerous reasons that I don’t care for Romney, but I think my biggest problem with him is that he’s out of touch with the common American. You could probably argue that most politicians are, and I may be inclined to agree with you. However, with Romney, he’s so obvious and heavy-handed about it. Look at the way he talks, the things he says. He jokes about firing people and shutting down businesses to move them to more lucrative markets. He jokes about people losing jobs and livelihoods, he vows to cut imperative programs such as Planned Parenthood, and unabashedly promises deeps slashes to welfare and medicare, programs that keep our poorest alive.

Mitt Romney has never experienced hunger. He’s never experienced discrimination, or fear of abuse or neglect. Instead, he casually dismisses the millions that do every day. He’s out of touch with the issues. That’s where he stands. Far away.

Analysis of the Problem

Here is an excerpt from a recent paper I did on establishing a movement to fight poverty. This is the fact portion of the paper, and I find the research within extremely sobering. It’s… Terrifying that this is how we treat our people. These are the sobering, straight numbers.

Analysis of the Problem

            In 2010, the official poverty rate was 15.1 percent, which is up from 14.3 percent in 2009. Since 2007, the poverty rate has increased by 2.6 percentage points, and it has increased every year for the last three years (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011). The 2010 poverty rate translates to about 46.2 million people, up from 43.6 million people in 2009. The poverty rate in 2010 was the highest poverty rate in the United States since 1993, but the amount of people in poverty is the highest reported amount in fifty-two years since measurements were first taken in 1959 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011). According to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau (2011), 16.4 million children lived below poverty levels in 2010, and 6.3 million of those children were under the age of six. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA, 2011), about 14.5 percent of all households in the United States experienced food security during 2010. This means that at least once during the year the family reported three or more instances where they “were, at times, uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food for all household members because they had insufficient money and other resources for food” (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2011).

The number of people without health insurance in 2010 was 16.3 percent, or 49.9 million people. 9.8 percent of all children in the United States (7.3 million) were without health insurance. However, children in poverty were much more likely to not be insured. 15.4 percent of children in poverty were not insured. The uninsured rate was also higher among people with lower incomes. 26.9 percent of people making less than $25,000 had no health insurance, whereas only 8.0 percent of individuals making more than $75,000 had no health insurance. Of those uninsured, 14 percent, or 14.7 million, worked full time, year round during 2010. The uninsured rate for non-workers was 28.5 percent.

Public perception of poverty has become a heated issue lately, especially involving the conservative right-wing Republican party. This party’s perception can be aligned with the Republican Presidential candidate front runner Mitt Romney’s comments regarding those in poverty. Romney stated “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it” (Wolf, 2012). It should be noted that Romney’s net worth lies between roughly $150 and $200 million (Riley, 2012). Another point to consider is his mention of the “safety net” for the poor. While there are indeed programs in place to assist the poor, as stated earlier, Census figures show that there are still millions of households that cannot afford proper health care, and the most recent report from the USDA reveals millions of households in America that cannot attain food security throughout the year. Every single candidate still running for the Republican nomination for President has stated multiple times that they will repeal an incoming measure that allows equal access to health insurance for every American (BBC News, 2011).

Responses to my Letter.

So, I posted a letter to my congressmen several weeks ago, urging them to speak out against Rush Limbaugh’s comments regarding Sandra Fluke. I have now heard back from both of them. Here are their replies. Enjoy!

Thank you for contacting me regarding H.R. 1179, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act.  It is good to hear from you.

The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act was introduced by Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01) on March 17, 2011.  This legislation amends the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to permit a health plan to decline coverage of specific items and services, like birth control and abortion, that go against the religious beliefs of the sponsor, issuer, purchaser, or beneficiary without penalty.  Additionally, it declares that no provision of PPACA can require a health care provider to provide or participate in a service that is contrary to the provider’s religious beliefs or moral convictions.  The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act is currently under consideration by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.

No one, including pharmacists, doctors, and nurses, should be forced to perform a service which presents that person with a moral dilemma.  Moreover, I believe that employers, especially those affiliated with a church or religious organization, should not be forced to subsidize – either directly or indirectly – behavior with which they have a moral objection.  These decisions should be left up to the leadership or owners of the businesses and organizations.

Unfortunately, we have seen a growing trend of discrimination, especially from our president, against people of faith and moral principle.  In addition to PPACA having been scrutinized for this, its goal of increasing the reliance of American citizens on our government through mandatory coverage provisions is reprehensible.

Because I believe – as do an overwhelming majority of my constituents – that life begins at conception, I have cosponsored H.R. 1179.  Additionally, I voted in favor of H.R. 2 to repeal PPACA and HCERA and also in favor of H.Res. 9, instructing the Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, Judiciary, and Education and Labor Committees to draft legislation to replace the flawed laws.  I assure you I will keep your thoughts in mind as the House of Representatives continues its consideration of H.R. 1179.

Thank you again for contacting me regarding the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act.  Please continue to keep me informed of the issues that are important to you and be sure to visit my website, www.womack.house.gov, for more information and to sign up for my newsletter.

Sincerely,
Congressman Steve Womack
Member of Congress

So, basically, my letter was completely disregarded. Really, Mr. Womack? That’s how you respond? Instead of taking anything I talk about, you decided to shift the focus away from discrimination of women, and try to frame it in such a way that it seems like I’m the bad guy, and that I’m trying to fight discrimination of religion? Really? I think your problem is not discrimination of religion, but the fact that people are starting to fight all the privileges your religion has enjoyed recently. Maybe we’re tired of Christianity getting a free pass every time, while bemoaning that they are being discriminated against.

Here is my reply from my Senator:

Thank you for contacting me to protest discrimination against women. I appreciate hearing from you.

Ensuring the equal treatment and safety of women, both in the United States and abroad, is an important debate in Congress. As a husband and a father of a young daughter, I take these issues very seriously and will happily work with my colleagues to enact legislation to advance the safety of women. Please know that I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind as the Senate considers legislation relevant to this topic.

Again, thank you for contacting me.  I value your input.  Please do not hesitate to contact me or my office regarding this or any other matter of concern to you.

Sincerely,

Mark Pryor
United States Senate

Holy crap. This guy actually listened and responded in kind! Maybe there is hope after all. While he didn’t go into detail, he at least listened. If he’s willing to listen, he’s willing to receive feedback, and I can stand behind that more than I can stand behind Mr. Womack’s jumbled reply.

Letter to Congress: Do the Right Thing

I have composed a letter that I will send to each of my representatives in Congress regarding Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Sandra Fluke and her testimony to Congress. I urge you to either write your own, or feel free to copy this and send it to your own representative. To contact your representative in the House, click HERE. To contact your Senator, click HERE. Ask them to denounce Limbaugh and his hate-filled comments regarding a woman who stood up for her beliefs.

 

Dear Representative,

The last few weeks have been rife with controversy regarding women’s rights concerning certain health care benefits. After women were denied their voice in the primary assembly, Democratic Representatives held a special assembly to discuss this issue. During this hearing, a Georgetown Law student named Sandra Fluke testified in favor of allowing health care coverage of contraceptives, regardless of the moral or religious stance of the institution providing the care.

Ms. Fluke’s testimony has received criticism from popular radio voice Rush Limbaugh. These comment by Mr. Limbaugh are slanderous and misogynistic at best. While I am certain you have heard of the ongoing controversy, I would like to share his exact words with you, and then make a request.

What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute.

So, Ms. Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it, and I’ll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.

Oh! Does she have more boyfriends? They’re lined up around the block.

Despite numerous corporations pulling support from Mr. Limbaugh after his inflamatory statements, many lawmakers have remained silent on this issue. I am asking you, as a Congressman and public figure, to publicly denounce Mr. Limbaugh for his hateful declarations regarding Ms. Fluke. Whether you agree with him on the issue or not, behavior such as his displayed on a national scale should never go without censure.

Imagine if this was your child, your mother, or your sister. Imagine if this was your wife or your best friend. Would you stand idly by as someone declared to a national audience that her belief “makes her a slut?” Would you stand for someone to demand that she and her friends post videos of them having sex online, so he could watch? Wouldn’t you defend her if someone speculated that she had boyfriends “lined up around the block?”

Whether you agree with Ms. Fluke on this issue or not is not the issue. The issue is that a public radio host, one that carries some sway in the political arena, has crossed the line. The issue is that this is unexcusable. Nobody deserves to be treated such. Nobody deserves to be drug through the public eye, portrayed as a “slut” or a “prostitute” or a “whore.” I’m asking you to take the moral high road, to take a stand and tell Mr. Limbaugh that you will not abide by his baseless accusations against Ms. Fluke, or women in general. I’m asking you to condemn him for his hate-laced statements. I’m asking you to do the right thing.

Mr. Limbaugh’s comments were far above what any human being deserves. In this day and age, where we work side by side with our wives, mothers, and daughters, it should go without saying that we respect them as women. Mr. Limbaugh obviously does not share this sentiment. In fact, he has done nothing but attack Ms. Fluke’s dignity.

Please do the right thing, and tell Mr. Limbaugh publicly that Congress will not stand for his comments, and that regardless of their positions on the contraception issue, that they stand for women’s dignity and against misogyny and hatred. It’s not about where you stand on the issue, it’s about a woman being shamed publicly for what she believes is right, and regardless of her stance or your beliefs should this be tolerated. Please do the right thing.

Ron Paul Won’t Help

Before I say this, let me quick say that I don’t put a lot of stock in Ron Paul. He’s practically irrelevant in the GOP nomination race, and every time he decides to open his mouth, the crazier he sounds.

Image

Utility workers try to restore electricity to a tornado-damaged section of town on March 2, 2012 in Harrisburg, Illinois. The Mar. 2 storm killed at least six people in Harrisburg.

Mr. Paul, the Texan libertarian said on CNN’s State of the Union last night that victims of the recent outbreak of tornadoes in the Midwest and the South should not receive federal assistance in repairing their lives. Mr. Paul stated:

“There is no such thing as federal money… Federal money is just what they steal from the states and steal from you and me… The people who live in tornado alley, just as I live in hurricane alley, they should have insurance.”

“To say that any accident that happens in the country, send in FEMA, send in the money, the government has all this money—it is totally out of control and it’s not efficient.”

Can you believe this!? How does this man still have a following? How arrogant is Mr. Paul in thinking that not only do most of these people not have insurance, but that using a governmental agency that specializes in aiding victims of natural disasters is inefficient? If you read between the lines, he’s practically berating the victims for being in the way of the tornadoes! It’s like telling a woman she deserved to be raped because her shirt was too low-cut.

These tornadoes have ripped through the United States, dealing billions of dollars in damage, and (so far) claiming over two dozen lives. The arrogance of Ron Paul in telling these people that it’s too inefficient to assist them in their greatest need is nearly unspeakable. These victims have experience one of the most frightening events they could imagine: the wrath of nature, and Ron Paul is telling them to suck it up and get on with their lives.

Mr. Paul, tell the families mourning the loss of loved ones that you won’t help. Tell the children who no longer have a roof over their heads that helping them is “not efficient.” Tell the communities that have lost everything that their government doesn’t care enough to help them.

All I can say is: Thank God that’s not how this country works, and thank God you aren’t in charge.