24 November 2008

a second point on capitalism:: the lottery system

I recently read an article from the Chicago Reporter that I came across while browsing.
The article stated how the poorest Chicagoan's play the lottery the most. They spend a good chunk of their minuscule income in the hopes that they can finally hit it big.

“On average, I’d say [I spend] about $25 a day,” said Brown, now 36, a laid-off laborer. “But I don’t mind because I know, sooner or later, I’m going to hit something.”

According to the article, the low-income Chicago communities have generated the highest lottery sales in the state, predominately African-Americans and Hispanics. Residents in these communities spent a higher portion of their incomes on the lottery than people in richer areas. Also, despite the nation's recent economic downturn, lottery spending has increased.

Because people are bound to the system of capitalism, they are reduced to trying out their luck. Spending loads of money on a chance just doesn't make sense to me, but then again, why are casinos so successful? People are relying on hope and the chance that they can strike it big and solve their problems that capitalism cannot.

“Lotteries are, in essence, a form of regressive taxation that distributes wealth and resources away from those who can least afford to pay,” said Paul Street, vice-president for research and planning at the Chicago Urban League. “[Lotteries] especially extract wealth from communities of color, and most particularly from African Americans.”

Also, lottery consistently takes money from the poor and feeds it into the government. This is why I do not understand people's obsession with it and how they can legitimately "hope" to strike it big.

“Illinois deficits approached or even surpassed $1 billion this past year,” said Illinois Lottery Director Lori Montana. “Had the lottery not transferred $555 million to the state, the budget shortfall could have been significantly larger.”

The lottery’s public relations director, Anne Plohr Rayhill, said it is not the fault of the lottery that black and poor residents spend more.
“We try not to target anyone,” she said. “We’re visible to everybody. We don’t do the sort of thing where we put a lot of advertising in one area and not another.”

Of course they're not.

capitalism and violence

Marx argued that capitalism exploits workers into working their entire lives and never getting very far. The rich feed off of their poor workers, and the poor will become poorer and essentially always be poor.
This Marxist view has proven to be true, especially in today's world. Capitalism has made our society cut-throat. People do what they have to to survive, and hopefully raise through the ranks of the economic society.
Capitalism does instill a sense of violence in people. It is not enough to work hard anymore. It is necessary to cheat and steal and abandon values so you can prosper.
These are the reasons why insider trading and things like ENRON happen. By nature, humans are competitive, and capitalism has turned society into a group of individuals frantically clawing at money anyway they can get it.

President Obama has been criticized as having marxist views, due to his vow to close the gap between rich and poor. Although i have no idea how the redistribution of wealth works, it seems like a valid idea. Should Americans keep working and not get anywhere? Or can someone stop the insanity?

rousseau:: a dreamer?

Rousseau was mentioned on web site's as having views that appealed to the 'dreamer' in people. It is true that his views outlined a plan of sorts that could not and would not work, but people could dream, couldn't they?
Rousseau argued that civilization was corrupting humans. Urbanization, technology, science, was all contributing to the corruption of compassionate human beings. Those things were seen as starting to turn humans into cruel and selfish individuals. Rousseau also argued that government was robbing humans of a natural freedom that should be ours. Humanity was looking towards government for rules on how to live, and to society for how to be happy. The price of revolutionizing the world was individuality.
However, Rousseau wasn't totally against government or a governing system. He was just trying to talk through a way in his essays that individuals could be free, while still having order and obedience.
Rousseau's views are easy to agree with. He wants everything for the people, while also preserving life as everyone knows it.

The whole utopia movement reminds me of something cohesive with Rousseaus views. Folks in a utopia were looking for that freedom from a larger governmental society, while still having order within themselves. Utopian people wanted to pull their kids from public school, and teach them communally. Everyone in the utopia would educate the children and be responsible for their upbringing. This has always seemed like a valid point, because therefore children learn from many people and those people's life lessons, not just from one person in a stuffy public school. There was the argument that by breaking up the traditional ''family'' and letting everyone be responsible for everyone's children would ruin parent/child relationships, and this became true.

Although utopias didn't survive, and so therefore there must be a distinct flaw with this setup, it is still good to dream, like Rousseau, of how much easier things could be for those who didn't agree with the world.

the ties that bind us

I know i haven't blogged in a while(over a month), but it's been a pretty hectic semester. I'm hoping to catch up, if that's alright.

When Marx said that religion was a threat to human progress and must be abolished, outrage ensued. However, despite one's religious views, Marx had a valid point. Religion, in some cases, doesn't make you a better person, sometimes, it stifles you.

"Religion is a flower on the ties that bind us."

Man is always trying to live up to the standards that religion instills in us. Supposedly, if man goes through life, living according to religious rules, he'll have a pleasant afterlife in "heaven". However, man sometimes gets swept up in trying to live virtuously and misses their life here on earth. Now does that make sense? Man should be able to live life according to what they think is right and ethical. They should be well learned enough to know right from wrong and secure a set of values that will give them eternal life in heaven, eventually.

Marx said that man is not abstract, but religion and heaven is. Man is in a human world, a state and society. Religion is a general theory and should not apply as 'gospel' (pun intended) to everyone, which is another reason why religion sometimes is criticized.

Although I personally believe religion is important to society due to my upbringing, I'm beginning to drift away from the "do this, do that, give us money" aspect of religion. I think that as long as someone has faith, and lives according to a society's idea of a good person, all will be well after all.