Saturday, September 24, 2011

Equal or More Equal?

Twice in two weeks or so, I've been slammed for trying to “oppress” friends' Freedom of Speech. A couple of Fridays ago on facebook, I called out two friends in two different posts about some pretty racist comments. The next Monday morning, a third friend posted the following:

“I've seen a number of post that some people find offensive lately, and to these people I say, hey this is America. Where you can say and believe whatever you want. Or even laugh to whatever you like. And yes even you have the right to not like it and say so. But it doesn't make you a better person, it just makes you a whiner, yeah, its my right too.“

And yes, of course it's his right to laugh at whatever racist jokes he finds funny. However, the comment thread contained comments about how Free Speech is not a one way street. Odd then, that the implication was that to disagree with the offensive comments was somehow wrong. Seems like we're veering to a one way street after all, just going the other way.

Last night, I posted a joke. I'll admit it was inflammatory, deriding religion. Actually, it was downright offensive, to be honest. But what's odd is that the same man with the previously quoted status accused me of “waving my atheism” in his face. As if my posting anti-religious items is shoving my beliefs down his throat (his words), but other people posting prayers and scriptures is just fine. Again, with the one way street.

There's a perception in this country lately that certain groups are under attack; that they're being oppressed. I just find it ironic that these people are typically the majority groups. Christians claim there's a “war” on their religion. Seriously? When we have their holidays, and even their day of worship institutionalized into our culture? Christmas, Easter, St. Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Halloween. (Yes, Halloween – the word is short for “All Hallow's Eve”, the day before All Hallows Day, which are Catholic holy days.)

So what if the current President didn't have a National Day of Prayer? Do we really want religion that enmeshed into our politics? The Right Wing says yes, but only because mostoutspokenly religious people in office tend to be Christians. I'm sure if we had a Buddhist or Hindu or Wiccan President who called for a National Day of Prayer, these same people would decry it as “forcing his religion on the rest of the country”.

Another segment claiming to be under attack is the wealthy. Now, don't get me wrong – I have no problem with people being compensated for a highly technical, difficult or even distasteful skill or job. I also have no problem with investors getting return on their investment. It's what keeps our economy going, and large corporations give us economy of scale, which enable people like me to buy things like motorcycles and computers. But executives aren't usually investors. They are given their stock, they don't buy it. I'm okay with that, but don't act like they “deserve” it any more than they “deserve” their salary. The Unions may be wasteful, may be corrupt, and may be in need of having their systems overhauled, but if it weren't for them, we'd all be working 18 hour days, six days a week for subsistence wages, with no sick time, no vacation time, no insurance benefits. We'd work in dangerous and unhealthy conditions, often locked into our work areas with no means of escape in the event of a fire or other emergency. Had the executives done the right thing in the first place, there never would have been any need for labor unions. Higher wages and benefits for union workers is NOT where companies are losing revenue. Let's use Ford's CEO Alan Mulally for an example. In 2010, he “earned” $26,520,515. Funny thing, since his base salary was only $1,400,000. He took home $9,450,000 in bonuses. Get that? Bonuses. What the hell can you do that your bonus is 6.75 times your base salary? He also got nearly seven and a half million dollars in stock. Now, taking just his base salary, and looking at the wage that an autoworker with one to two years experience makes, it would take that autoworker 51 years to earn what this guy did. And that's just his base salary, which was only 18.94% of what he made. So, multiple that 51 years by a little over five. Corporations are hemorrhaging money from the top, not from the bottom. Also, bear in mind this guy didn't invent anything. He didn't even invest anything – his stock was given to him. So, basically, he's a paper pushing monkey in a suit with a degree. That's what he brought to Ford's table. That's what makes him worth over 255 autoworkers, in Ford's eyes. I don't see it.

So, to the people whose faith is the prominent one, which has attempted throughout history to dominate all others, and to the wealthy – who have the real power in a capitalistic society, I say it's not your equality that's under attack, it's your supremacy.

Edit: I intended to include the link where I obtained information about Mr. Mulally's income, but forgot to do so. Here is my source:

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