Posts Tagged ‘Secular Criticism’

Today’s Menu: God And Mammon

August 26, 2012

Inside baseball on this week’s Moyers and Company that interests few but affects most. Bill’s guests were Robert Royal, editor of The Catholic Thing and founder of the Faith and Reason Institute (a tautology since reason assumes faith for the sake of consistency and cohesiveness though Kant argues we are hard wired that way!), and Sister Simone Campbell of NETWORK (and the Nuns on the Bus). Context was provided by a mini documentary of the Nuns on the Bus protest of the “Ryan Budget”. For Americans this should have relevance since the Vice President is of the Roman Catholic persuasion (now, and to come). Who notices? Royal and Campbell both agreed that something is wrong, very wrong, and that the entire problem is complex, and huge. They even dared considering it as a global (and not purely American) phenomenon (Gasp! Who’d a thunk it?). What problem you ask? The growing income disparity and gap between incredible wealth and lack. According to Sister Simone 40% of Americans require some kind of gov’t assistance to continue to function (such as food stamps, children’s programs, disability assistance, etc.). This would be in keeping with the oft repeated statistics that over 40% of Americans have no net worth. She claimed this as “corporate subsidy” (allowing business to avoid any obligation or responsibility for the health and well-being of the workers it relies on to generate a profit- both through productivity as well as consumption). This was a pretty radical statement to make.  Hence, the immorality of the Ryan budget since it would hurt those in need while enabling the wealthiest (without the trappings of a bailout). According to Robert, this IS the problem. US poorest of the poor are better off than the poor in other parts of the globe and continued assistance has to be paid for by someone. The structure currently in place to pay for such is immoral- taking the earnings from where the wealth is and burdening the future generation with debt (there’s that Catholic thing again). To follow all the byzantine convolutions of the two arguments, tune in. But who notices?

What was very noticeable was the agreement of the two but the disagreement of the two that… Here’s where the thought gets complicated. Campbell immediately wanted to cut to the chase since, being a nun and all, the religious solution made perfect sense to her. We should have solidarity with our fellows and future generations in addressing the problem at hand, etc. Robert said this cannot be without abandoning the free market (and capitalism) that created this unique and wonderful country. And there’s the rub. Royal puts more faith in capitalism, as grounds for action and policy, than he does in his espoused religious faith (Christianity). He recognized no dichotomy in such a position, assuming it to be perfectly natural, and reasonable (why he founded the Faith and Reason Institute, I guess). After what we learned with Bruno Latour’s Iconoclast, his position is no surprise (the Reformation being as much about capitalism and bourgeois burghers as it was about corrupt religious practices and beliefs). The immediate agreement of the two with regard the nature and characteristic of “the problem” along with their polarity in regard any proposed solution highlighted the “unreasonableness” of his position- the dichotomy of the Christian faith and the Enlightenment foundation of capitalism. In solving a problem, all options must be considered. Insisting on the sanctity of specific bovines can be counterproductive in achieving a solution. If an MD doesn’t know the complete history of a patient (something is withheld by the patient as being “private”), if a mechanic isn’t allowed to assume the gasoline is bad, or a technician that the data provider may be awry, solving the problem becomes more and more difficult, if not impossible. Political economies all have their inconsistency. If that can’t be admitted, the problem only continues. The threat of a growing deficit may be what Royal focuses on, given his faith in the market, but a growing human resource deficit of a nation increasingly reliant on a working poor is what alarms Sister Simone. What was that line about serving God and mammon?

The Gaze And Its Relation To Mammon

July 27, 2012

            The previous post of July 12, 2012 concerned itself with the promulgation of mammon. Taken as an account of the authentic real, or as an elaborate representation, it is patently absurd. But given that the authentic real is dead (much as god is dead and so, to shamelessly introject Baudrillard, we must invent a simulacra of the authentic real) and representation is obsolete in a culture of surface and distraction, the posted essay does point in a certain direction. The PBS show Frontline ran an exposé of the Pebble Mine controversy in Alaska the other night. In its usually thorough approach, it looked at what proponents and opponents put forth as their rationale for the future. Primarily relying on superb technology, the mining conglomerate assured viewers that its engineering expertise was focused on not only the current ecological challenges, but on those hundreds of years away. Even the environmentalists’ modeled and statistical projections were grounded in technology. The native resistance countered corporate engineered utopian designs with a bombardment of “what if’s” based on these “green” technological projections. On a vastly different scale, this mirrored the current fracking controversy embroiling parts of Ohio. It is significant to note, in a Lacanian sense, what was lacking or absent in the Frontline (as well as fracking) debate presented. Neither side entertained the very real possibility that an entity “existing only in contemplation of the law” may choose or be forced to go out of existence. Nor did they desire to imagine that copper may become obsolete, that is, something else may come into being as a disruptive innovation rendering the use of copper obsolete. Very real precedence for both is found historically. Corporate “reorganization” through bankruptcy or dissolution in order to avoid liability losses absolves responsibility and allows capital to flee disaster (such as occurred with the catastrophe in Bhopal India or the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster in West Virginia). Obsolescence of product or technology shatters market demand and results in process abandonment. Evidence of the latter is over abundant with derelict factories, brown fields and in Ohio, coal mining areas that once fueled steam locomotives now leach acid into the watershed. These exigencies of the argument are elided by both sides in preference for the “scientific” ones of technology. Why? Could it have anything whatsoever to do with the enormous debt we all owe to technology? Like homeowners underwater on their mortgages, we fear being foreclosed on, being evicted from the convenience and ease provided by evolving technology. We would be homeless without our droids. This sophisticated technology is likewise primarily what makes “too big to fail” supra-national corporations possible. Mammon’s precedence and priority appear invincible when coupled with scientific certainty. Whether corporate idolatry or environmental ideology, exponentially evolving technology comprises today’s gaze, and the gaze is experienced by both.  The very history of human commerce and exchange, and its continuous repetition of blunders, debauchery and conflagration comprise the repressed real. The gaze and its relation to mammon determine today’s politics of imagined reality.

Default Debt

April 22, 2012

            Unawares, and in spite of all efforts to the contrary, I find myself slipping into infidelity. The feeling is analogous to the one that is had when noticing that a mutually agreed upon contractual service or product purchase is now costing much more because the provider has increased the price without notice or included an undisclosed fee.

            With friends I attended an art opening that was housed in an “historic” and “architecturally significant” building that was currently in limbo. It had a history of being used for other than originally intended purposes (the building itself IS the evidence of many previous owners and tenants). Now it was in various stages of disarray, upheaval, and restoration (violently revealing original craftsmanship details).  That evening this transitional space served as a venue for a disparate group show. Given our contemporary “copy of a copy” aesthetic, it was difficult to discern where some pieces began or ended. This is because, like the walls, ceiling and exposed utilities, these “original” works revealed previous bona fide historic influences, and exemplified hybridism, as well as conscientious denigration of style/epoch. The only area that offered any security of belief was that of the computer video works (McAfee Total Protection!). Of course, this is where most of the crowd gravitated. Funny, the monitor makes the viewer-participant oblivious of surrounding environment. One could just as well be in Auschwitz for all that it mattered since the small screen is all one has to attend to. This in itself speaks more of why the environmental movement has stalled out recently than any expensive academic study duly commissioned to uncover this would. Afterwards we went to dinner and conversation. The talk drifted to Occupy, and the young people who made the art (even though they didn’t exactly “occupy” the building) – ownership of building, ownership of art style, ownership of government. Mention was made of a magazine article covering the same topic, and of various quotes by industrialists of what drives politics (money) as well as “Government belongs to those who own it” remembered as attributed to John Jay, the country’s first chief justice of the Supreme Court.

            The next day I tried to track down the article, without luck (not exactly a scholarly repast the night before).  Researching the quote yielded A. J. Liebling’s “Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one”, not quite the same.  A peremptory research of our nation’s first and most influential jurist, and his quotes, made me cognizant of my covert slippage into infidelity. Anticipating secular statements regarding the place of law, rights and freedom, I found religious platitudes instead. “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” D’oh! “Whether our religion permits Christians to vote for infidel rulers is a question which merits more consideration than it seems yet to have generally received either from the clergy or the laity.” Yikes! (clergy say more clerics are needed!) “[T]he evidence of the truth of Christianity requires only to be carefully examined to produce conviction in candid minds… they who undertake that task will derive advantages.” This final quote from the originating chief interpreter of our nation’s legal system really raised the hair on the back of my neck and got the critical enlightenment juices flowing.

            John Jay himself was a rather ambiguous/ambivalent historical figure. I guess at the time he would have made perfect sense to his contemporaries, but as a denizen of the 21st century much is murky (analogous to the exposed craftsmanship of the art show). His pantheon of values had the Christian God with the bible’s revelation at its pinnacle, followed closely (or rather supported) by the private property rights of ownership (Only makes sense considering that in the nascent country of that time, an over abundance of “common ground” left private property to be deemed exceptional, vulnerable, and very desirable. Others have pointed out the relationship to the heritage of “ownership” of religious belief. As Thoreau pointed out, what makes for ownership?). After that came the various interactions and relationships of society, community and state. Jay himself owned slaves but worked for emancipation in his state of New York. Ostensibly, he bought people from their owners and then would free these people once they reached a certain age on the grounds that these humans had justifiably paid off their indenture. From this one can conclude that he was a man of his time in sharing the belief of the “naturalness” and legality of ownership, including the ownership of human beings, either as indentured servants or slaves.  

            Part of our evening’s conversation included the young artists featured, and young people today in general. It appears they must go into debt (through their education, transportation and required insurance necessities) BEFORE they can obtain employment in order to pay off the debt that obtaining the job necessitated in the first place. Once there were mortgage burning parties when homeowners celebrated paying off the cost of their residence. Usually these took place concurrent with retirement, the children leaving home, etc. One wonders if today’s young workers, finding only underpaying jobs after incurring enormous debt to obtain those jobs, will celebrate their emancipation day, when they have “justifiably paid off their indenture.”


March 11, 2012

            It has always puzzled me how the very secular history of the 20th century has resulted in the incredibly sacred conflicts of the 21st. The ism’s of ideology (capitalism, communism, colonialism, imperialism) have morphed into the honorifics of identity (Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist). Sometime ago Rick Santorum gave a speech concerning “Satan’s influence” on America. A couple of weeks ago Louis Farrakhan gave a speech concerning “Satan’s influence” on America. And today the news is of young people being hunted down and stoned to death for allegedly being under “Satan’s influence” in Iraq. The preference for fundamental religious historiography has resulted in the obsolescence of sophisticated and convoluted ideology much as cell phone demand has done in land lines. The political economic tomes of a Jameson or a Negri pale before what is touted as driving today’s conflicts. Little mention is given of the mega rich (the thousand plus some billionaire’s listed by Forbes) and those totally reliant on their own labors for support. Could it be because the Murdoch’s et al own most of the media necessary to report such a perspective? The different “Gods” and “Satans” of today’s news headlines make the political economy epics of the late 20th century read like the Futuristic manifestoes from the early part of that century. Is it because the various honorific identities escape the economic language of franchise? That eventually all the crusades, jihads and “God’s Army” cataclysms will only justify and advance pure business practices and unregulated markets as a relief and a blessing?

            “But in fact if you look at what we do under our pleas of economy, you see that no merely practical motives could inspire these labors.

            Political economy is the modern form of theodicy, and our labors are our religious mysteries.”    (Stanley Cavell [Captivity and Despair] pg. 402, Walden and Resistance to Civil Government, Henry D. Thoreau, edited by William Rossi, Norton 1992)

You Don’t Join A Nudist Colony To Socialize With Your Clothes On

February 20, 2012

Recent personal involvements motivated me to revisit a popular archival posting, Where Art Becomes Critical (4-26-2010). Many viewers access this entry through the search terms of a quote by Theodore Adorno utilized within the posted essay: “it is part of morality not to be at home in one’s home.”
This is a very disquieting statement regarding what it is to be moral. It is rather akin to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Both statement’s address complacency, though Adorno’s speaks more of the comfort of culture than MLK’s.
Though culture is formed by the everyday of the social (see Michel de Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life), it likewise permeates the everyday, especially the culture formed by previous generations. It can’t be shrugged off, though it does evolve. Maoist thinking believes that the privilege and entitlement of such prior overriding cultural influence can only be overthrown through drastic militancy. In this sense, Adorno’s outlook regarding morality is much more unsettling than MLK’s. Indeed, Rick Santorum is refusing to be silent about things that matter. And things do matter within culture.
Democracy and the inequity of domination by privilege and entitlement within the operations of a constituted democracy are at the heart of the many Occupy movements that have spread across the globe. Reports of the internal workings of these various unaffiliated movements recount an almost obsessive concern for an ethic that reproduces the sought for democracy and equality, the elimination of precedence accorded privilege and entitlement. Great lengths are taken to accommodate different outlooks, perspectives, demands, and to arrive at a group consensus before policies are determined, actions undertaken. This, of course, flies in the face of those with an agenda who prefer the short circuit provided by privilege and entitlement. Keeping the trains running on time is a priority for those who have a predetermined destination. But as de Certeau pointed out, the practice of everyday life doesn’t always follow the predetermined designs, plans, and machinations of professional educators, organizers and leaders. The worldwide Occupy movements have been quite unique in recognizing this exigency. This makes them very attractive for the dispossessed homeless. Pitching one’s tent there and then finding the group continuously disregarding consensus in favor of entitlement in order to maintain some undisclosed agenda (known only to the privileged few) would be like joining a nudist colony where some folks always get to keep their clothes on.

Looking For Joseph Smith

July 19, 2011

            Well, it looks like in a few days the American dollar will be worthless (backed by the full faith and confidence of the United States government). “In God we trust” is all that will be left (but out on the street they want to see that dollar first). Boy, things will be different.

            The US political leadership were agreed on cutting spending, some more than others, in their legislative endeavors to “head off” this “debt crisis”. The hang up seemed to have been taxing the rich. The “representatives” of the American people have taken it upon themselves to interpret their constituents’ political will as being to not raise any taxes. The ostensible reason is that “you don’t raise taxes during a depression,” er, recession. The cynical reason would read more like these representatives are the very ones who would end up paying some of that tax. The self same who would lay off government workers, cut pay and benefits, and end programs while not reducing the size of their own staff, cutting their own pay and benefits, or eliminating any of their own programs.

            Previous blog postings have sited numerous sources for the economic composition of the US electorate, the 20/80 statistics, etc. (20% of the folks own 80% of the wealth, etc.). These are all figures from BEFORE the 21st century depression, er, recession (image is everything in the politics of visualization). The financial well being of the representatives of American democracy is also nothing new. The current and former speaker of the house could both be lifted straight out of some large corporate advertising agency. Like it or not, when given the choice, Americans love mad men.

            That has always puzzled me. Years ago a relative came home from serving in the war and was apathetic to vote (to end the war). Later, stuck in a low paying job with new mouths to feed, the veteran vehemently supported the candidate embracing the solutions favoring the wealthy. Later still, when that family’s life improved through employment in a union job, the political embrace was for those espousing the evils of unions! I meet folks who are hourly workers at Mickey D’s or Wally World and identify themselves as staunch tea baggers. Perhaps it can be attributed to religion and a family tradition of wearing the “Sunday best”; past generations who, though they owned little or next to nothing, always identified politically with the party of wealth as they could appear with them, looking like them, once a week at their religious gatherings. After all, progressive modernism relies on the successive sequence of time, so this bias is quite attractive. Even Marx was intoxicated by this (describing it as intoxicating!).

            More sobering is the essay Theater and Democratic Thought: Arendt to Ranciere by Richard Halpern appearing in the recent Spring Critical Inquiry. Mr. Halpern writes of “the system of charis or “gratitude for a material benefaction.”” within the Greek city state democracy of the 5th through 3rd century BCE. He references Josiah Ober’s book Mass and Elite in Democratic Athens: Rhetoric, Ideology, and the Power of the People regarding this. “As Josiah Ober notes, “the Athenian public seems to have expected politicians to perform significant liturgies,” and those politicians would in turn draw on the gratitude produced by voluntary and generous public works to reinforce their standing as speakers. Indeed, “the hope for gratitude from the demos and especially from jurors was the motive behind many liturgists’ acts of public generosity to the state, and some of them were not reticent about admitting it”. Conversely, it was perfectly acceptable for politicians to benefit materially from their political activities, since this would supposedly cause them to feel a reciprocal charis toward the people: “The politician who took from the state had conjoined his personal financial interests with the interests of the demos. As the state prospered, so did he. He could therefore be expected to propose legislation that would be of benefit to the state as a whole.”” (Critical Inquiry Vol. 37 No. 3 Pg. 559-560)

        Contemporary with the Athenian democracy were the religious temples. Sacrifices were made there, appealing to the charis of the Olympian immortals for a propitious response. Corporate think’s need for “visionary leadership” has deeper roots than ever imagined!

No Prosthetic Currently Available

June 23, 2011

            Fundraising time at the local public television station. Time to wheel out the doo wop daddies and the various charlatans of health and financial well being (Recently unemployed and homeless? No problem. What an amazing opportunity for becoming a gazillionaire!). All this exceptional “regular” featured programming displaces the normally scheduled Frontline exposé of where the money really goes. Incentives for membership have become “media sized” with coffee cups, T’s and key chains taking a back seat to books, CD’s and DVD’s. One offering was for “You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid Or Crazy?!” Who could resist?

            The book is actually You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid Or Crazy?!: a self-help book for adults with Attention Deficit Disorder, by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo (both having been diagnosed with this disorder). The representation of ADD, its diagnosis, symptoms, treatments, etc. are excellent. Kelly and Ramundo point out that its variations make it a slippery subject, with what appear to be contradictory manifestations each being attributed to ADD. But the book’s intent is to be a “self-help” practical guide to dealing with the everyday of this condition. It is here that it leaves the reader begging the question as to “if this is a disorder, I wonder what ‘normal’ is”. Their practical tips, suggestions and strategies for managing “things” after this diagnosis read like Norman Vincent Peale’s “How to Make Friends and Influence People”. ADDers are described as being adverse to writing, organization and rules. The solution is- you guessed it- ways to get organized and create rules, most of which entail a great deal of writing! Recognizing the affliction is key to dealing with it. But this otherwise scientifically oriented text suggests what other’s have repeatedly promoted as essential to successful living since before ADD was ever imagined, let alone identified. These other texts never referenced any scientifically determined disorder as a reason to heed their expertise.

            Shades of Foucault! One senses “the idle mind is the devil’s workshop” lurking in the shadows. The underlying assumption (that although afflicted with a neurological disorder that is part and parcel of one’s being, you too can be a productive, successful member of society. Don’t let what it is you are keep you from being what it is you can be.) sounds a lot like the age old Christian teaching of original sin, where a hereditary defect is part and parcel of one’s created being. Some ancient writers even went so far as to describe this as a happy curse, an opportunity for joyous redemption. Kelly and Ramundo do likewise with a final chapter that celebrates the uniqueness of those with ADD (“From Obstacle to Opportunity”). The parallels are uncanny. Thus the religious approach to being wonderful while being defective, hence the religious appeal of Norman Vincent Peale (no pun intended), and Kelly and Ramundo’s creatively lacking “ditto”. The surprise isn’t with Kelly and Ramundo, who genuinely want to empower others afflicted with this condition to be in control of their destiny. The surprise is that, although understanding and representation of this condition is attributed to scientific inquiry and expertise, science is mute with regards to living with this condition in the everyday. Accumulating the data (evidence) that the world’s oceans are on the verge of demise is one thing. Saying what needs to be done, in what order, priority and degree is another. It is on the latter point that science exerts no authority, is silent, both in regards to the condition of the oceans as well as that of ADD. It is regarding this “matter of concern” that Latour and Weibel suggest the authority comes from the assembly, rather than the science (data, study, etc.). The surprise with Kelly and Ramundo is that, if they represent an aspect of assembly, then the “making public” of living with this condition hasn’t shifted much from the age old religious “making public” of living with the knowledge that what accounts for the propensity to screw up when the intention is to do right is the fact that one was created with a hereditary defect by an omnipotent creator (who may also be an ADDer).

It Makes One Think

January 28, 2011

            In an essay entitled Does Democracy Mean Something? Jacques Ranciere references a quote attributed to Plato’s Menexenus: ‘the government of the Athenians is a democracy by the name, but it is actually an aristocracy, a government of the best with the approval of the many’. (would it read any different if it said ‘with the approval rating of the many’?). Elsewhere in his writings Ranciere presents an interpretation of democracy as being a governance amongst equals. It would have the quality of being a governance by those whose qualification to govern is the absence of qualification (“whose only commonality is that they have no entitlement to govern”).  Approval ratings and equality, both associated with democracy. Each entails a specific difference.

            The world hasn’t witnessed social upheaval of such an intensity as currently making the news since prior to the collapse of the Berlin wall. At that time we all said “Who’d a thunk it?” Now, no one is speculating on what the consequences of such revolutionary change will be. Reagan World was full of black hats and white hats. Today few wear cowboy hats. A lot of large countries (and one particularly small country), “democracies” in name, are paying close attention to these events. This loss of approval by the many of a government by the entitled is making them think. Or is it the possibility that equality produces governance by those not qualified to govern?

More Intolerable Imagining

January 22, 2011

            Imagine that: a good looking movie actress snuggling with a good looking movie actor. Yawn, you say. (What’s to see after the challenge of locating Kat Von D’s engagement bling amidst the sea of illustrated skin? Sparkler embedded ink, the next generation of tattoos?) The AP’s Nahal Toosi reports that Pakistani actress Veena Malik finds herself on the wrong end of an edict after she and Indian actor Ashmit Patel created just such an image. This led to a heated exchange between her and the edict’s author, Mufti Abdul Qawi, who admitted to never having witnessed the image. Malik was adamantly active and went on the “offensive” in her defense, something that does not bode well after what befell the American woman who simply suggested a non-existent image through the dialog bubbles of a cartoon (see September 2010 archive postings The Intolerable Image and An Intolerable Image II).

            Nothing like the introjection of fundamentalist religion into a culture’s political process to make the Left stand up and take note! It also casts a discerning light on Jacques Ranciere’s politics of aesthetics and the place of speech within his account of the consensus/dissensus dynamic that comprises the political. Ranciere describes three regimes that make up the aesthetic history of the west- the ethical, the representative, and (the latest) the aesthetic. Contemporary events can show signs of any and all. Is it imaginable that these same regimes can be found in reading? (Is reading part of the aesthetic – the life and loves of images?) The hierarchical structuring of time, space, and their valuation, such an integral part of the representative regime with its emphasis on narrative (long, long ago in a country far, far away…), likewise stain the reading of any given text. Ranciere’s consensus/dissensus interpretation of politics can be read in just such a manner; that what has been marginalized, having no voice, can displace what was determinant of the entire conversation- speaker, spoken, and topic of conversation (witness recent events in Tunisia). It is so easy to slip into the narrative, time-line logic of imagining that what has been displaced wanes and disappears (Tunisia, the sped up version). Toosi’s report begs to differ. When reading Ranciere, perhaps it is more appropriate to imagine the flux of the aesthetic regime; what was once displaced may return to displace that which had previously displaced it (as an equal opportunity displacer). Progressive modernism, which comforts and nourishes the Left’s imagining, favors the narrative, time-line logic (considering that, just how progressive, how modern can it be?). That the consensus/dissensus evaluation of the political could involve a flux (and not a progression) is, quite frankly, an intolerable image of sorts for the Left.

            Veena take heed!

Connect The Dots

January 16, 2011

            Great deal of pain coming out of Arizona in the past weeks. The media put a positive spin on as much of it as they could, while keeping the contested parts as an “also ran” reportage. Other events of the time were quickly overshadowed by either being relegated to “local” news worthiness, or not reported at all. It was a good time to go unnoticed. Here in Ohio, a new governor was sworn in. He is all gung ho to create jobs and make money for the state, after which we can all have a “nice fistfight”. First off he instituted yet another government office whose mandate is to devise ways of eliminating the state’s Medicaid obligations. That immediately created jobs with the promise of more money. Another proposal is to consolidate the various offices of mental health, substance abuse, and developmental disabilities into one office, one service. Why didn’t he also include the state’s agencies for arts or tourism in this single entity? Then again, it is only understandable that he wouldn’t include any offices of transportation, sport or gaming commissions since we don’t like to associate anyone involved with those as also being disabled, addicted or mentally ill (projected gambling casinos will only generate jobs and revenue for the state). Likewise for agriculture, business or commerce. Nope, these folks all contribute to jobs and revenue, unlike the state’s primarily expenditure involvement with physical and mental health, substance abuse, and developmental disabilities (OK, corrections was not included because he intends to privatize it. Got me there.).

            Tucson’s tears prompted some to not “retreat, but reload” with regard to gun restriction, regulation, and gun related violence. After all, if the constitution specifically spells out a given right, how else could it be interpreted? Some wacko is to blame, a deranged, substance abusing sicko. Associations with those lawfully exercising their Constitutional rights are simply wrong, misplaced; guns and abortion, both legal but not the same

            Recently, at two separate speaking events, Reagan Supreme Court appointee Antonin Scalia claims that the constitution does not protect women against discrimination (one of those news events that went unnoticed). The argument turns on the word “person”, the definition of which is determined socially (see Ranciere’s community of sense in previous posts). OK, according to our longest serving justice, it must be specifically spelled out in legislation, like the right to bear arms (“b-e-a-r” as opposed to “b-a-r-e”). Close to 10% of Americans, being or having been incarcerated, are eliminated from the constitutional “sense” of the term “person”. Rights under US law are considered comparable to a grocery bag of goodies. Some staples are not necessarily included, which occurs when there has been a public transgression resulting in a criminal record. This also underlies the current imbroglio regarding what constitutes marriage in most states. Given Scalia’s carefully deliberated statements, both in thought and execution (Would he do it any other way?), and the actualities of a socially constructed “sense” as to who gets a full bag of groceries and who doesn’t, some citizens of the US of A may one day discover they are not quite a “person”. Many more will feel this is not only appropriate, but constitutionally sanctioned.

            The current consensus is that modifications, or establishment of gun laws are not a practical solution to the grievance posed by the Tucson transgression (along with Columbine, Virginia Tech, ad nauseam). Yet, something will be done. Legislation will not leave this incident unaddressed (since it involved one of their own, a legislator). Our esteemed Supreme Court Justice, along with Ohio’s newly elected Governor, may be indicating the future direction and determination of just such legislation. The common denominator of the Governor’s consolidation effort is that the services involved, provided by the social entity of the state, are unproductive; by their very nature undesirable economically. The constitutionality of legally determining “person[age]”, espoused by our longest serving Justice, allows for this avenue of restricting and regulating behavior without diminishing clearly defined private property rights (the framers of our constitution were unfamiliar with the terms “mental health”, “substance abuse”, and “developmental disability”). Precedent has been set with the public’s unquestioning embrace of laws restricting sex offenders. Sadly enough, this all brings to mind Europe in the 1930’s with its definitions of persons and undesirables.