Back home again


At least I think it’s back home. We moved from Los Angeles to Connecticut on Feb. 28, the movers arrived the week after that, then we left unexpectedly for business in L.A. a few days later. The trip was supposed to be four days but ended up being eight.

It was definitely weird staying in downtown hotels in a city we’d lived in for decades. We booked the flight through an online travel service and when we tried to extend the stay, they kept me on the phone for 90 minutes before saying it was impossible. Aaargh. I finally called the airline, who’d had me on hold for a hour previously. This time I got through fast and they rebooked it in 3 minutes.

The hotel rebooking got completely nuts. I called the online hotels site we’d booked the original stay with, and asked what three more days would cost. It was too much, so I said don’t book it. The next day I discovered they’d not only booked it, they’d raised the rates retroactively on the three days we’d already been in the hotel. Calls to them just got ‘we’re sorry’, but no action. I screamed loud enough that it appears the bill is now as it should be, and not with the several hundred dollars more they tried to sleaze through. We’ll never use them again.

Why is capitalism so predatory and sleazy? Just wondering…

It was great being in L.A. to help ANSWER LA organize the hugely successful antiwar march and rally on March 17 and seeing everyone again. Now we’re back in CT, badly jetlagged indeed, but after three transcontinental plane flights in six weeks totalling about 18,000 miles, Sue and I are ready to stay here for a while.


  1. Capitalism is sleezy and predatory because it is made up of human beings. If you think that that changing the economic system will change the sleeziness and predation of the human condition, well, good luck! There is nothing in feudal or socialist economies that should give you any comfort in this regard.

  2. You’re quite wrong, Joe. It’s not that people under socialism might not be sleazy. It’s that the system doesn’t reward them for being so.

  3. Joe’s political conclusions always end up saying that any attempt at change is doomed and should not even be attempted. Thus he effectively always supports the status quo, even if that’s not his intent.

  4. Joe is far from supporting the status quo. He is, however, very clear about the ability of the human species to be corrupt. The corruption under a socialist system will be different, of course, but anybody who believes that a significant portion of the species will not sell their mother for a few bucks is deluding themselves. All I hear here is that instituting a socialist system will miraculously solve all problems. Nothing in the history of implementing socialist systems can support such a claim, and I have seen no theoretical claims of why a socialist system should necessarily produce less corruption than a capitalist system, which is not the same thing as saying it might not. But I do like facts.

    My politics are pretty much defined by Ambrose Bierce, who defined a conservative as “a statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.” The real difference is that a lot of people here believe in secular salvation. I don’t.

  5. But often the evils are not replaced by new evils, but by progress. Slavery ended because people organized against it, and its ending was a good thing.

    If you think mobilizing for change might lead to new evils, then you’ll not be doing much of anything. Thus, you de facto support the status quo and are opposing change.

  6. “Mobilizing for change” means nothing and can be, on balance, negative. The American religious right has been “mobilizing for change” for the past 30 years, and look at what it got us. The German right “mobilized for change” and they got Hitler. Sometimes it works, but the mere act of mobilization is meaningless.

    What change and how, is the critical question. “Replacing capitalism with socialism” or “replacing socialism with capitalism” are vapid and empty phrases utterly lacking in substance. The devil is in the details, and if you can’t come up with details on your proposed programs, it’s hard to evaluate whether what you’re proposing is in fact progressive or not.

    I think there’s lot that can and should be done. Given how complex reality is, there are no simple answers, and if you think that a slogan will change things, then you’re a whole lot more romantic than I. The history of the past 100 years suggests that effective, long-lasting change is rarely dramatic and, most often, is modest and incremental. Not as satisfying emotionally, perhaps, but….

  7. Well, if you sit home and bemoan the fate of humankind, then yeah, you’ll be pessimistic and gloomy.

    If you’re in the streets organizing, then you see the changes as they are happening, and become way more optimistic.

    You’re also saying you must know exactly what the plan is before deigning to participate. But in the real world of politics, the plans happen and emerge as action is being taken, and not while sitting home contemplating if action should be taken or shrieking you won’t participate because mistakes might be made.

    As always, your ‘solution’ is to support the status quo by saying change is inadvisable or impossible.

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