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The Paradox of Individualism

The Paradox of Individualism

(What’s the Relation Between Systems and Individuals?)

By Dennis Loo (5/28/14)

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Demonstration outside of Obama's May 28, 2014 West Point Address

Conventional wisdom holds that individuals are not affected by the systems they live in and that society instead takes on its character wholly because of the individuals within it. Those who see things this way almost invariably also say things like the following:

“Things never change,”

“People are sheep (or stupid, or in denial),” and

“People are naturally selfish and greedy.”

This presents us with a strange paradox.

According to the common view, individuals are in charge and free to change things, but we don’t or can’t change things because human nature is unalterable.

In other words, we’re free but we’re not free because we’re enslaved to our unchanging “human nature.”

Let me offer an alternative view to this intellectual cul-de-sac:

The world is not static but always in motion. Change is going on all of the time. If you use a way of thinking that doesn’t account for motion and development (e.g., static views that species were as they have always been versus the revolution of Evolutionary Theory), then you are going to be unable to see the underlying and hidden dynamics beneath the surface. You are going to only see what appears to be happening right now. You are going to miss the momentum and trajectory of things.

Either/Or thinking (aka Dichotomous Reasoning) sees society as either a product of the total dominance of individuals or the reverse of this, the total dominance of systems with no role at all for individual choices. The “system” that people believe in who say they don’t believe in systems is therefore “unchanging human nature.”

In contrast to this prevalent view, the two sciences entirely devoted to the study of human societies both reject the idea of “unchanging human nature.” Both sociology and anthropology are sciences precisely because they are based on recognizing systems’ centrality and how systems profoundly shape human behavior, even as individuals within systems retain scope for their actions.

What, then, is the correct relationship between individuals and systems?

Dialectics tell us that at any point in time there is a principle aspect and a secondary aspect to any phenomenon or thing. It is not either/or; it is mainly this and secondarily that. For example, systems are mainly why most people behave as they do (since systems lay out what the paths of least resistance are) but there is variability among individuals in those systems and what they do in subgroups or as individuals can vary from the paths of least resistance within those systems.

Change within systems can only happen by systems being replaced with a different system. Systems don’t change because individuals in them suddenly decide that they are going to do something differently. Systems change when a conscious effort led by some individuals launch and lead a social movement to overthrow the existing system and succeed in replacing it with a different system. I’m not talking here of merely changing the faces and the names. I’m talking here about smashing the existing system and replacing it with a radically different system.

When Obama, for example, announces that the US is the sole and indispensible guarantor of world order and peace and that he wants to close Guantanamo but then behind the scenes blocks any efforts to close it, he is a) carrying out the logic of the system of an empire that is using fear to dominate others, and b) as an individual consciously choosing to be deceitful to the public about his intentions and about history.

He is, in other words, mainly doing the part expected of him by the system, but he is also, secondarily, playing a fake role in order to deceive others. If he wanted to go against the system he could do so, though he would pay a price as an individual for doing so. He could, for example, hold a live press conference in which he announces that he is ordering as of that moment the immediate closure of GTMO. He has the power as the Commander in Chief to do that. His orders would result in GTMO’s closure. But he knows that if he did this he would face a huge amount of flack openly and especially behind the scenes for doing this.

If Obama really wanted to do the things that he publicly claims to uphold, such as the rule of law, due process, transparency, and protecting the planet from global warming/climate catastrophe he could announce to the world in a live press conference that he is ordering the end of preventive and indefinite detention, is no longer going to use drones to assassinate thousands, is pardoning Pvt. Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning and Edward Snowden for daring to tell the world the truth, is not going to approve of the XL Keystone Pipeline because it would mean game over for the planet, is ordering a fast track emergency program to replace fossil fuel burning that is burning up the earth with wind and solar energy alternatives, and so on. He would not even need other countries to agree to follow this example. He could order this to be done by the leading industrial power and set an example for others to follow. He could do such a thing, as this is within his power as an individual.

You know what would happen to him if he did such a thing though, don’t you? People all have some level of understanding of how systems operate, even though many people due to the dominance of functionalist thinking explicitly argue against the reality of systems. In practice, due to our life experiences, we know things to be true that the paradigms that many people use to interpret the world contradict. 

But Obama could do these things that I have mentioned above if he really wanted to do the right things that he claims that he wants to do and claims he is doing. He’d pay a price for doing it, but he would be doing a tremendous service to the planet if he were to do so because his actions, for however many minutes he was allowed to speak in this live broadcast before “technical difficulties” ensued, would spark widespread upheaval. He would probably spark a revolution. And then he would see happen the things he claims to want to see happen: the restoration of the rule of law, due process, transparency, and the safeguarding of the planet. The price he would pay for this would probably be his life. But if he really believes in the things he claims to believe in, then that would be a small price to pay for humanity and the planet.

The fact that he does not do these things or even any one of them is not a sign that he really in his heart of hearts wants to do the right things but simply can't. It proves that those who think he is being prevented from doing the right thing by the system are overlooking the fact that he could do the right thing if he cared enough and was not a liar who presides over an imperialist superpower. He says the things he says to the people because he knows that the Empire's continued existence depends upon lying to people in a very specific way. He knows that the vast majority of the people believe in fairness and due process and justice. The fact that the vast majority believes in these things is not a sign that the government is all-powerful but the fact that the government is in fact vulnerable, like a colossus with feet of clay.

That the government must promise these things as it does exactly the opposite of what it's claiming makes it vulnerable to being exposed for its deceit. If it wasn’t dependent ultimately upon the people’s acquiescence then the government would not open itself up to being shown to be lying. If the government were invincible, it would not risk having to lie as they do. They are telling us implicitly through their consistently claiming that they are doing the opposite of what they’re actually doing, that they need us and cannot do this without public acceptance. They are admitting that they are vulnerable to public opinion and actions, if you know how to properly interpret this. See here.

The fact that Obama chooses not to act in true correspondence with his public statements of thinking GTMO should be closed is partially, in other words, a conscious individual decision on his part that he should be held accountable for and responsible for, just as the Nuremberg Trials ruled that “I was only following orders” was not an excuse. At the same time, the point of this is that the main problem is not individuals but the system and its logic - the relentless and ruthless pursuit of profit. 

For the further development of these points please see these three articles:

Distinguishing Structures from Individuals and Primary from Secondary Factors;

Distinguishing Structures from Individuals and Primary from Secondary Factors Part 2;

If You Think Obama Can’t Help It…



Comments   

 
0 # Daniel Gomezzz 2014-05-29 19:38
I always questioned movement's blame on certain individuals who are orchestrating the vast inequalities and horrors of the world, but now (dialectically) see the dynamics and factors in play. Just as various soldiers have openly exposed what the U.S military forces are doing to non-combatants and innocent people (including many women and children), as well as toss their medals symbolically in the garbage to display their disgust in what the empire is truly doing. Actions these soldiers, as well as others are taking display the potential individual room people have who are operating under the most critical powerful roles in this system. People, especially in the most critical positions in this system CAN speak out, and aren't entirely "puppets" as many have mentioned before to me when discussing Obama in particular.
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0 # CamouflagedWife 2014-06-02 00:08
My husband has served in the military for 8 years and he has told me story upon story about the disgusting things that our country is doing to its people and to foreign countries. He has said that over time it has just gotten worse and it makes him not even know what is worth fighting for with a system so corrupt and poisoned. Individuals must be held accountable for the things that they are doing against our people and people in other countries, but like it has been disgusted this is something that will continue to happen until the system is changed and a leader who can come forward for the change is given the power to make the revolution begin. We need this systematic change because without it, we will continue to be living this way.
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0 # cglov3r 2014-06-09 02:38
Wow! We hear things in the media and from each other but I could not imagine hearing things first hand from my husband. That must hit very close to home as he is personally experiencing the very things we cover in class. And, you are absolutely right. Our society will continue to operate in this fashion until a leader comes along who can kick off a revolution in a sense that draws people in and compels them to be apart of something that would be so great for our country and the world.
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0 # Sarah Heitz 2014-06-02 02:07
I agree! Being able to use dialectical thinking is very important to see how much the world around us is changing. If you don't have a dialectical mindset and can only think dichotomously then you will not be able to see the complex changes that are happening in the world every day. Dialectical thinking allows us to see how the systems are changing and what decisions might be made within the system depending on how that system works. Knowing that our soldiers are taking a stance against the Military system says a lot about what might come from the public seeing this. It may lead to a revolt or maybe even a revolution. But change is being made, and for those who cannot see what drastic changes have happened over these last five to ten years, hopefully one day they will be able to. Maybe it will be one of us who will make the difference and show them how much the actions of systems can affect the people inside that system.
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0 # Daniel Gomezzz 2014-05-29 19:39
This is where we can hold individuals accountable for their conscious actions against humanity. If we were entirely puppets, people would have never been compelled to fight the inequalities and injustices they have learned about or seen.
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0 # giovanna serrano 2014-05-30 02:54
I think that it is interesting to think that even U.S. soldiers are in complete awe and disgust with what their own country is doing. Sure our system (society) shapes us individuals, but us as individuals have a different view within their own minds. Change happens because society prioritizes certain things that perhaps not everyone can relate to, this just goes to show how we are not entirely puppets, history just goes to show that previous movements such as social inequalities and injustices are a great example of this.
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0 # Uriel Gonzalez 2014-06-01 16:51
Our empire, as it exists today, is encouraging us to soon have another revolution. This time against our own government. We have been deceived by the elites of our society, and there will come a time we will say no more. As Dr. Loo points out, "Systems change when a conscious effort led by some individuals launch and lead a social movement to overthrow the existing system and succeed in replacing it with a different system. I’m not talking here of merely changing the faces and the names. I’m talking here about smashing the existing system and replacing it with a radically different system." As graphic as it sounds, I agree we need to completely smash the existing system. We need to regain the control to the public and have it actually limited for the government.
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0 # katgrl 2014-05-30 02:03
Understanding dialectics can be quite difficult and when it came to this article I just wanted to clarify some questions that I had when trying to digest everything. Does the majority of society think in a dichotomous way? I was under the impression that the article is stating that we do and that we should think in a dialectical way. If this is what I am understanding from the article and this is true, then I would have to say I agree and think that in order to create change we have to understand that society has to be prioritized in ceratin aspects. There is a main view or concern that presides over the secondary which can benefit society, such as grasping the fact that there is a system that shapes individuals but individualism amongst the system is different. Which leads me to my next question, can dialectical thinking be negative and if so, Obama is the main example?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-30 03:03
The first point, yes. The second question, I'm not clear on your question. Could you expand on your question please?
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0 # Marisol Parra 2014-05-30 04:47
Society should be fully understood in order for change to occur. Dialectics helps us understand society as a whole. President Obama wanting to close GTMO but truly refuses to shut down Guantanamo because of what controversy it will have. Change can occur if we capture views outside our class just as Dr. Loo mentioned even if they are small it will make a difference. Obama refuses to make change because he doesn’t want to take full responsibility of what is happening in our systems.
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0 # Jessica Ulloa 2014-06-01 17:55
Marisol, I do agree with you. Obama has the power to shut down Guantanamo although he does not want to take responsibility for what the systems are creating. Do you think that Obama possibly wants to shut down GTMO although feels that he will get too much backlash from others in congress or other Americans? Like Dr Loo said a great majority of Americans have dichotomous thinking, Is it possible that our own President is one of those majority? Or is it possible that he is just pretending to not see the entire picture?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-01 19:13
Quoting Jessica Ulloa:
Do you think that Obama possibly wants to shut down GTMO although feels that he will get too much backlash from others in congress or other Americans?
Obama made it a key point of his campaign for the presidency that on day one of taking office he would order GTMO closed. He continues to claim that he wants to close it but Congress won't let him, but as some in Congress have pointed out, as Commander-in-Ch ief Obama has the power to close it right away, but continues to claim (falsely) that Congress is the obstacle.
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0 # Jessica Ulloa 2014-06-05 05:36
With that being said. If Obama is claiming that congress does not allow him to close GTMO... which is not true, since he has ultimate power... What really is the hold up? Is Obama just feeding us a bunch of lies to make him look better? Ultimately if What Obama wants to do is close GTMO when it would have been done. But since it is not being done, what that means to me is that he doesn't care.. and wants to leave it open. Am i understanding his actions (or lack thereof) correctly?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-05 13:54
Obama is being deceitful, as the empire that he presides over wants to keep GTMO open as a symbol of what the empire will do to you if it wants to, even if you're innocent. It's terror, carried out by the state.
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0 # bobbybmartinez 2014-06-07 03:00
Obama is telling the public what he thinks they what to hear, but at the same time there is an underlying message and an excuse behind all of his speeches and promises. Obama always points fingers so that he does not have to own up to his own wrong doings.
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0 # Christine Lopez 2014-06-09 00:36
This morning after watching the local news. Senator Lindsey Gram mentioned, that he wants to impeach president Obama if he lets any criminals out of Guantanamo.
I read the above quote about congress.
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0 # Marisol Parra 2014-06-01 23:22
Dr. Loo has stated in many of his lecture, “Rule of Law,” Obama does have the power to shut down GTMO, but truly doesn’t want to take the criticism of how the systems will react. Agree Jessica, he is just like the majority in society that have a dichotomous thinking and does fear the backlash of what other Americans will say. In example, Obama has promised so much especially with the Latino community, but behind closed door has deported many Latinos by far larger than when Bush was in office. Obama says one thing and never acts upon it even though he has the power of authority to do so.
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0 # LA305302 2014-06-02 01:18
Even if he was getting backlash, doesn't the chief of the united states of america suppose to look out for the people? not for congress. I do not believe he wants to shut down GTMO, but in accordance with all of congress and whoever else to keep it closed. His demeanor doesnt show otherwise.
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0 # bobbybmartinez 2014-06-07 03:02
Obama has the right to use a Presidential Override, and veto what "Congress passes", he is simply using congress as someone to blame so that the public does not see him as the liar and fake that he really is.
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0 # Katgrl15 2014-05-30 09:12
My second question I am referring to Obama playing the fake role as secondary? So even though Obama follows the system he still is deceiving people secondary, so in a sense can thinking dialectical have a negative outcome depending on how individuals prioritize?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-30 13:57
Obama's actions as an individual are a secondary characteristic of the system in that the system's logic is the overall principle aspect of what's going on. Obama's choices within that overall system are a secondary aspect. It's not dialectical thinking that can have a negative outcome. I think perhaps you mean, can an individual's actions have a negative outcome based on what they decide to do? If that's what you mean, then yes, there is scope for individuals at any point in time to decide whether to go along with the path of least resistance (which is what Obama's doing by carrying out the Empire's necessities) or to take a path of greater resistance. The reason most peo follow the paths of least resistance is because they will not be punished for doing so whereas there are consequences for taking the paths of greater resistance.
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0 # katgrl 2014-05-30 16:15
Oh ok that makes sense to me and my question has been answered. So the systems come first and Obamas actions, choices, and decisions as an individual is secondary and can either have a negative or positive outcome depending on whether he follows what is right (harder path) or what is wrong (easier path). But overall people need to understand that there is not a dichotomy where there is only a system that rules and dictates or vice versa people are the sole dominant role in society.
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0 # menava 2014-06-02 06:09
Hey Katgril,

Thanks for asking this question because I was wondering about the order of it as well--it makes sense now. With this knowledge, I have found a great sense of what I thought to be true to be deceitful. For example, I really thought that voting for someone who said they were going to make choices over what the government wanted was going to truly happen. I didn't see the dynamics behind the system pressures that hindered--or better said made individual choices--take a back seat. I know have to look at the bigger picture with a good pair of bifocals (looking close at the individual and looking afar at the bigger picture). I wasn't trained to look at government operations this way, but rather I was taught to trust in the old logic that "things won't ever change" or "the ones in power know what they're doing, that's why they are in power."
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0 # Slovebee 2014-06-03 05:48
This makes sense broken down like this. I think to separate the two (systems and individuals) as functioning on their own doesn't hold itself to be valid for too long. I think it's important to be aware of the nature of this side of politics. Like Menava mentioned about voting, I think most of us believed for the longest time that when we vote for the president... we vote for the president. But we don't. We vote for an electoral representative that can change his mind about who they are going to vote for. By saying that I mean, that it's important to consider that in these type of decisions, even the idea of voting for an individual consists of systems working together to make that happen. Voting for a president isn't just like collecting the tally marks for each candidate. It's going through systems and systems in this intertwined and connected society to get to one final person. We shouldn't disregard society and the bigger picture if we're looking at individual aspects as well.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-30 16:21
That's correct!
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0 # Brandon Vildosola 2014-06-01 15:45
So basically if Obama REALLY wanted to change things he would then pretty much be killed right after. This brings to mind the kind of people that are eligible to become president. With the system that is in place now, the Government would never allow someone who was willing to go through all the work to become president only to then go on a live broadcast and tell the world that they will shut down GTMO and stop improbable cause for detaining innocent people. To spark a revolution to change the Government, it would only take one person at a very young age to decide to be willing to risk their lives and pursue a career in the Government, gain the public's attention with he usual bogus that everyone likes to hear, gain acceptance from the public, gain acceptance from the Government by deceiving the authorities into thinking that they are like the rest of them in their views, then finally when they become president they go on a live broadcast, tell the world everything, then be killed.
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0 # Brandon Vildosola 2014-06-01 15:49
(continued from last comment)Once they are killed, then that would have to certainly be enough to spark massive outrage not only in America but in the rest of the world. The revolution would be so big that it would inevitably radically change the whole system in a short period of time. Now the problem is that there would have to be multiple individuals involved in this initiative, and these individuals would have to plan in secret and for a long period of time so that the Government now would not squash their plans. Perhaps i should not have even posted this to give them a warning. Perhaps I will be flagged by the NSA as some sort of conspirator, as I bet they have already done with D. Loo. Perhaps I am not the first to come up with this idea now and it is already taken place today and it is only a matter of time before a new president puts on a live broadcast and the whole country will be in flames soon. If this is true, I honestly can't wait.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-01 17:14
Brandon: I wasn't actually saying that smuggling someone into positions of power who have a contrary agenda to the system would work as a strategy. Even if you did set out to do this, the power of socialization is such that someone who made their way through the various echelons of power would be converted to the way of thinking of that system, which underscores why systems are more powerful than individuals. Stockholm Syndrome. On other hand, there are instances when someone who is already within the system becomes disillusioned and won over to the opposition. Witness whistleblowers. ..
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0 # bobbybmartinez 2014-06-07 03:13
Obama himself would not be killed for making change, but those that rat out the underlying message and mission of what our government is pulling would most likely have to seek shelter and go into hiding.
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0 # Uriel Gonzalez 2014-06-01 16:27
"The fact that Obama chooses not to act in true correspondence with his public statements of thinking GTMO should be closed is partially, in other words, a conscious individual decision on his part that he should be held accountable for and responsible for..." This is to show that we cannot only blame the system for the way it is, but also put blame on the elite people who are held responsible in the system. This article reminds me of what Dr. Loo said in a previous class meeting. He said "people with guns kill people" not "people kill people". This statement goes well with the article because Obama does have the power to make change as Commander in Chief but does not want to as he fears he will be held responsible and does not want to face responsibility in his own hands.
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0 # LA305302 2014-06-02 01:13
I think much of this is saying that yes the elite are at fault, but they are only fulfilling their role in the system. This does not make them good people, but not many of them are willing to change the way things are. thats why simply saying "if we only told them and they would share their wealth....or change the curupt system" is not sufficient. You can change the elites state of mind but the system is place is what needs to be taken out. Taking out these individuals alone because we can blame them is not enough
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0 # thatdude 2014-06-02 00:18
Reading this article made me realize that, in a way, our government seems like a puppet government system with Obama "in control" but bound by the system itself. The promises he makes in terms of the direction he wants to take the country as well as focuses he has to restore the rule of law, due process etc. are topics that put him in the middle of a teeter totter between the American public and the system. How can we have a system that can't keep everyone on the same page? It forces even the president to disregard policies that the public and he himself feel are crucial points to act on just because of the criticism that he would receive from other people in power that have their own agendas to act on. I agree that with a system like this, a simple personnel change would do no good. The only thing that would work is an all out revolution against the current system and input of a brand new system.
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+1 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-02 00:30
Obama makes promises publicly but he only does this to look like an angel to the public. When you look closely at his speeches and statements, you can see that his method is to sprinkle his comments with certain terms like "transparency" and "rule of law," but what he specifically advocates doing in terms of policies are the exact opposite of his high sounding phrases. That in addition to his actions show that he doesn't actually want what he claims to desire.
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0 # Sme 2014-06-02 00:25
As we have previously discussed in class we have the ability to choose which path to take when taking decisions. The way most systems work is by the domination of those in power, but those in power are just a few. In the example in class we discussed about the concentration camps in World War Two; the prisoners decision [whether or cooperate to assist the Nazis] affected him but also his fellow prisoners. He had a choice; either to die or follow orders that would kill many, at the end if he choose to follow or not the orders he would have to accept the consequences. At the end if we choose to follow the systems as they are, these systems would continue to exist, there needs to be change in the society first in order to change the systems.
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0 # tiffany 2014-06-02 02:45
It is not just Obama who has made promises in public that he has also broken. Every politician has done it, and many average Americans have as well. Therefore, I agree that there in needs to be a change in the society first in order to change the systems. Yet my question is, what is the change that needs to occur.
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0 # LA305302 2014-06-02 01:08
Maybe this is a naive way to think, but if one single person can be called the chief of the nation, what is stopping us individuals from thinking that we can not do the same? Of course he has a army and the different branches to back him up, but the nation agrees every 4 years to elect one person to represent the country. In traditional religion we have ONE god. We are so use to in society to give or reflect all of power on a strong individuals. We are not sheep,or lifeless cogs. Some of us might just not comprehend systems in place, but with some understanding there is no reason why we can not implement change. The government is only as strong as we see them, and our power is only as effective as our mentality.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-02 04:03
What a single person who is determined and who bases themselves on the objective nature of the world can do is amazing.
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0 # Guy 2014-06-02 03:25
I have a couple of questions. Is it because we rarely see radical changes that makes people believe "things never change"? It seems that changes come very slowly and from my experience we only see changes in anything is when something dramatic happens or someone dies from it. It seems that we have to sacrifice lives in order to start seeing things in other perspectives. If nothing dramatic happens it seems that it usually just goes on as it is. Hypothetically speaking what if Obama did actually want changes to be done but once on top he does not want to leave the high position which in result he uses the same logic of the system to stay on top. If Obama did express his thoughts on live press of radically changing the system wouldn't he only have one shot to take down the many problems we currently face before he himself gets shot? Once that happens wouldn't the system change their ways by making it harder for someone to be in power so that the system would not risk it happening again?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-02 04:01
It's a hypothetical example of what Obama COULD do if he really believed what he continues to claim that he believes, and yes, it would be a one time deal because he wouldn't get another chance.

Radical changes in political affairs don't happen too often, yes, and that's part of the reason why peo say "things never happen." The main reason so many peo say it is because those in authority want peo to think that change is impossible and so most peo think using the most common ideas around.
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0 # Princess Peach 2014-06-02 05:10
Although systems are what influences and control our lives and behaviors, people still need to be held accountable for their individual choices. Impeach the President exposed that a U.S. soldier in Abu Ghraib said this to a detainee: “Our aim is to put you in hell so you will tell the truth. These are the order we have from our superiors, to turn your lives into hell”. Just because these soldiers were given these order does not give them an excuse to put these detainees through hours of unbearable torture. These individuals need to be held accountable for their actions. Using this same reasoning, Obama has the power to close down Guantanamo Bay, as an individual he chooses not to because he knows how the systems operates and he is fully aware that the systems requires the public to be lied to in a certain way.
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0 # menava 2014-06-02 06:14
I found that story in the book troubling, but my old logic was "don't hold the solider accountable because he was just doing what he was order" and "he was trained to function in that way" or "he was trying to keep USA safe, so it's OK." Yes, he needs to be held accountable for his individual choices, but not just him. What about all the people above him that let this go on? It trickles down from the top, which includes Obama. The government needs people like this solider so they can say "we didn't condone this type of behavior--blame the individual/not at our corrupt system." When it's convenient we look at the individual and not the system--we should be looking at everything!
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0 # Jason Kubanis 2014-06-02 05:39
I have to agree with Obama being deceitful to the United States population, for all we know the man was not even born in this country with his fictitious birth certificate. Though he may be able to make these changes I believe that he answers to his correspondence and piers, as you stated that if he attempted to make these changes it may end his life and I think he understands and knows that. A revolution is necessary for change, and systems must be overthrown, global warming is at the forefront of our issues and this is our future. Things that may seem entirely irrelevant in present day, but will become relevant and people will say why didn’t anybody do anything when they had the chance. Obama has the chance and the system will stop him and he will not fight against it.
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0 # Jason Kubanis 2014-06-02 05:45
Though Obama is at the forefront of this, he is not the only man in power to lie to our face, I do believe he has the power to make change and that in all reality he may actually want to but is scared of repercussions. As mentioned in class before about bureaucracies being the iron cage, our government is the iron cage and is in need of major jolt so changes can be made. Obama is one person and if he had the proper backing, changes could happen.
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0 # Jason Kubanis 2014-06-02 05:58
When people say things like... the system will not allow for a revolution to occur, it really frustrates me. How do you think past revolutions have occurred? If the people want a revolution and to change the way things are, it is possible. Those people that want change need to rise up and others will soon follow. But unless someone tries, nothing will happen.
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0 # menava 2014-06-02 06:03
This article made me wonder a lot about the government deceit. I heard on the new earlier this morning that the US made a deal with the terrorist and traded a US solider for 5 GTMO terrorists. If the US has always had a stance on never negotiating, why now? I am attempting to use dialectics but perhaps I don't understand the whole picture yet to come to a conclusion. Could he be releasing GTMO detainees for US POWs because he is planning on closing it?
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0 # Jason Kubanis 2014-06-02 06:06
It is very worrisome that our own President has the authority and power to do things that he is telling the people that he cannot do. He knows that he can do these things, such as close GTMO, but still he chooses not to. He does this because he knows that he will be punished for it because that is the way this fucked up system is set up. We need to change this system and revolt, or else our so called leaders will keep ignoring the issues that need to be addressed.
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0 # Michelle Ngo 2014-06-02 06:33
In sociology, there is a "front-stage" and "back-stage." Front stage is what the person want the world to see them as and "back-stage" is how they really are behind the public. We can change the system, but it does not mean that everyone will be on board to see that change happen. Everyone has their own opinions about things, which makes changes really hard to do. Obama for example, says things to please everyone because that is what we want to hear, it does not mean that he would really do it.
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0 # flr9d 2014-06-02 06:46
Dropping drones for peace is a horrible idea yet they continues to do so. Unfortunately this is one of the many lies that the system has told us. Obama is basically telling people what they want to hear in order to help them calm, but they are only able to do it for so long. Whether or not Obama really wants to make a difference or not we will never know because he is part of the system not the entire system. If he did everything he said he would do so it would be start but something within the system prevents him from acting.
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0 # Sherlock 2014-06-02 06:47
I feel like change will always be hard for some people. Once the ball is rolling, more and more are open to it. It takes at least one strong person to change the system and then many more after to keep it changing. I do believe that we can change our systems-making the individuals have more power, but that it just takes time.
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0 # Monique V. 2014-06-02 06:53
Anyone working within the current system is doomed. No matter how bad you want to make a change for the better it will be extremely difficult. Politics is all about pleasing others. You have to please the people you work with and briefly please the public so that they buy into what you're saying just long enough to win their votes. The current system needs to be desperately torn down, and replaced with a system where people collectively want what's right for humanity.
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0 # soad 2014-06-02 06:58
When President Obama was campaigning he made many different promises to the American people that he still hasn't upheld. He his fearful of the outcome if he were to keep his promises. However, if he were to actually do the things he said he would do there would be an outburst and potentially a revolution. But ultimately the systems come first.
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0 # Danielle Waldman 2014-06-02 22:52
When people say things like... the system will not allow for a revolution to occur, it really frustrates me. How do you think past revolutions have occurred? If the people want a revolution and to change the way things are, it is possible. Those people that want change need to rise up and others will soon follow. But unless someone tries, nothing will happen.
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0 # Danielle Waldman 2014-06-02 22:53
It is very worrisome that our own President has the authority and power to do things that he is telling the people that he cannot do. He knows that he can do these things, such as close GTMO, but still he chooses not to. He does this because he knows that he will be punished for it because that is the way this fucked up system is set up. We need to change this system and revolt, or else our so-called leaders will keep ignoring the issues that need to be addressed.
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0 # Jason Kubanis 2014-06-03 04:08
I have to agree with Obama being deceitful to the United States population, his lack of transparency he once promised to his fellow Americans has all but gone out the door with the Manning and Snowden controversies. Though he may be able to make these changes I believe that he answers to his correspondence and piers, as you stated that if he attempted to make these changes it may end his life and I think he understands and knows that. A revolution is necessary for change, and systems must be overthrown, global warming is at the forefront of our issues and this is our future. Things that may seem entirely irrelevant in present day, but will become relevant and people will say why didn’t anybody do anything when they had the chance. Obama has the chance and the system will stop him and he will not fight against it.
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0 # Jason Kubanis 2014-06-03 04:25
Obama possesses the power to make these necessary changes but the system will not allow those changes to be made. The government will not allow changes, it is a bureaucratic system that only operates within its box, it is an iron cage and as a discussed during lecture it can not be broken only shook or jolted, a leader such as Obama must be the person to shake it. Obama is fooling the United States with his charismatic personality and deceitful rhetoric.
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0 # draen 2014-06-04 00:31
It was kind of unsettling to read this article, because this article really explains how corrupt our system is. I was unaware that the president had the power to do any of the things you mentioned, but now that I know, it makes me wonder if this is how our political system will operate for a long time. I know that change is possible, but it seems that the system is so corrupt that an honest politician with the intentions to actually save the planet and the country would not even have a chance at the presidency because the government wouldn't allow them the opportunity because the current system is benefiting them.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-04 03:20
Quoting draen:
it seems that the system is so corrupt that an honest politician with the intentions to actually save the planet and the country would not even have a chance at the presidency because the government wouldn't allow them the opportunity because the current system is benefiting them.
Capitalism is the system and capitalism's ruling ethic, the governing logic of it as a system, is the relentless and unending pursuit of profit. So it's not corruption really, it's the system as it's designed to operate, operating. It's just that most people are never taught that this is the essential nature of capitalism. They're taught that capitalism means that everyone can get rich. They don't know and aren't taught that the essential nature of it is exploitation and that in order for a few to get rich, most must not because getting rich is only possible based upon exploitation of human labor. So putting someone up high politically or economically wouldn't alter the system.
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0 # Sinnerman 2014-06-05 02:27
The belief that nothing will ever change is surprisingly too cynical for me. The understanding that everything on the planet is connected should be enough to undermine the idea of unchanging systems, but not everyone sees the world in such a way. The systems currently in place in our government are well designed to keep themselves going, and if the nature of the system doesn't replicate itself the social atmosphere from those involved will help. Despite their best efforts things will change eventually as attitudes shift and information becomes more available. It surprising how many people still think we an actual Democracy. The electoral college doesn't have to vote with the people, and more often than not they probably vote for what is best for them. That in itself screams Oligarchy.
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0 # Luvlife1 2014-06-06 00:40
Society wants equality and fairness but we have no control over it. We ask Obama to make a difference by voting, they promise and yet don't do anything about it. As long as they are in power nothing will change, the change needs to come from down below. The people in power enjoy the power and are most likely not going to let it go, therefore in order to make a change, voting is not at all the answer but a revolution that can perhaps finally make the change.
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0 # SecretSeaBridges 2014-06-07 20:14
Change will not be an easy thing to do. How can we expect change when our own President LIES about the changes he will make for our country as well as our corrupt government not wanting to make a change for the people? We can't rely on the President to make changes nor the government, in order for a revolution to be created we the people must go through with creating one!
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0 # Marisol Parra 2014-06-08 05:43
Chelsea J. Carter and Jessica Yellin, of CNN referenced Obama press conference about Snowden, “Obama: Snowden can 'make his case' in court; no Olympics boycott.” President Obama states "Come out in dribs and drabs," saying a general impression has taken hold "that we are….while acknowledging the need for transparency.”… .There's no doubt Mr. Snowden's leaks triggered a much more rapid and passionate response than if I had simply appointed this review board,"…. If Snowden believes his actions were right, "he can appear before a court with a lawyer and make his case."
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0 # Marisol Parra 2014-06-08 05:44
Obama stated that there were Whistle blower laws that protected Snowden but then he says he came out with dribs and dabs. Furthermore goes on to say if he feel mislead he can be held to a fair trial. If there are laws that protect our Freedom of Speech Obama clearly contradicts his need for transparency. Edward Snowden is a whistleblower why wasn’t he protected under such act that Obama reassures we have? Even in the same text Obama states, “Given the history of abuse by governments, its right to ask questions about surveillance, particularly as technology is reshaping every aspect of our lives." Snowden spoke in hope of shaking the iron cage with no such change for our systems.
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0 # Marisol Parra 2014-06-08 05:45
Clearly there is contradiction with Obama saying one thing for the public and acting differently behind closed doors. Subsequently, Raymond Lotta in lecture stated Obama is no socialist because socialism is state ownership in new form of political state, new economic system and period of historical transition. Soc 305 has awakened me to see beyond the system that I am living in order to change there needs to be a revolution.
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0 # Karla Garcia 2014-06-08 12:46
you are right if the president really wanted to due what he says he does then he wouldn't care what price he had to pay in order to do the right thing not only for the people but also for the planet. also this is true because he has enough power to do what he talks about doing and for him to say oh its because others are preventing me from doing is not true because he could convince people to go along with him just like he has convinced people to believe in what he says.
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0 # Sinnerman 2014-06-08 21:08
Dark times are coming when the leader of a powerful nation can so blatantly say one thing while at the same time acting completely to the contrary. It gives the leader a dangerous combination of public support and foreign fear. The knowledge that democrats and republicans are all part of the same whole aimed against makes me truly question the point in voting especially knowing that America isn't a democracy.
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0 # Agris 2014-06-08 23:41
I agree. It is very disturbing to know the government has limitless powers not only on its own country but feels they take advantages of all other countries. I bothers me knowing that the governments actions of what other countries think of me as an individual. I don't want to be known as an American if the rest of the world sees us as power hungry, inconsiderate, bullies.
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0 # MarieB 2014-06-08 22:10
I think the "intellectual cu-de-sac" reflects individuals' outlooks on other individuals. If someone thinks that all "people are naturally selfish and greedy", this could be a reflection of themselves because how could someone who never feels that way accuse others of feeling that way? The paradox of not being able to change our selfish and ignorant ways could either be a hypocritical judgement on ourselves, or an exasperated hopelessness for changing society. In order to support social revolutions, people need to realize that our human nature is under our own control, and we have personal control over ourselves. In order for there to be progress in society, many people must realize this and have a common goal.
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0 # BBalty 2014-06-08 23:33
What I understood from the article is that the key to changing our system is the understanding of dialectics. We have to realize that the only individuals benefitting from our current system is those who own the means of production. Changing certain individuals within the system will bring no change, even if the individual is highly motivated. This is because our system is designed to exploit the working class, which is its primary aspect, the secondary aspects would be Obama acting as he is truly working for the peoples best interest. This would be dialectical thinking and it would require us to over throw our current system and establish a new one. Please correct me if Im wrong Dr. Loo, this is how i currently understand dialectics .
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0 # Princess Peach 2014-06-09 04:21
Alternative Extra Credit Part One:

I have analyzed certain parts of Obama’s 2014 State of the Union Address. After closing paying attention to what he’s saying, it is clear that he is contradicting himself and his policies I a disguised way. This deceives the American people.

For example Obama states, “We have to remain vigilant. But I strongly believe our leadership and our security cannot depend on our outstanding military alone. As commander in chief, I have used force when needed to protect the American people, and I will never hesitate to do so as long as I hold this office. But I will not send our troops into harm's way unless it is truly necessary, nor will I allow our sons and daughters to be mired in open-ended conflicts. We must fight the battles -- (applause) -- that need to be fought, not those that terrorists prefer from us -- large-scale deployments that drain our strength and may ultimately feed extremism”.
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0 # Princess Peach 2014-06-09 04:21
Alternative Extra Credit Part Two:

My interpretation of this segment of his speech is that he is talking about the use of drones. He states that we need to fight our battles, but not the battles that terrorist would prefer. I interpreted this as using drones because it is impossible for the terrorists to fight back and kill Americans when using drones. This is certainly a battle that terrorist would not prefer to fight. This is deceiving the American people because he does not outright say the word “drones”. However, he contradicts himself and uses the word “drones” later on in his speech.
Obama states, “America must move off a permanent war footing. (Applause.) That's why I've imposed prudent limits on the use of drones, for we will not be safer if people abroad believe we strike within their countries without regard for the consequence.”
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0 # Princess Peach 2014-06-09 04:25
Extra Credit Part Three:

He states that he will limit the use of drones, but in fact he implied earlier in his speech that drones would be used in the battles we fight. This deceives the American people because he did not implicitly use the word “drones” (even though he was implying it) until he stated that he has imposed to limit the use of drones. Most of the American public does not analyze his speech, and is completely oblivious to the fact that Obama is talking about drones earlier in his speech. In addition, Obama is very attentive to the language that he utilizes. He carefully used the word “imposed” when talking about limiting the use of drones. This sends a message out to the American people that the use of drones is decreasing, when in reality Obama has simply “imposed” this idea. Obama contradicts himself in this speech, but without careful examination, it is hard to detect. This sends a deceiving message out to the citizens of the United States of America.
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0 # karen cornejo 2014-06-09 06:15
Fortunately several people who have served are aware of how unjust the system is and it is sad so many of them can speak up but nothing may ne done. The sad part of it is when hero's who serve fall into the corruption and move forward with it instead of asking questions. This is why I believe their will never be a stop to the corruption and injustice.
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0 # Slovebee 2014-06-09 06:59
Alternative Extra Credit (Part 1)

This is a segment from Obama's 2014 State of the Union Address -
"So even as we actively and aggressively pursue terrorist networks, through more targeted efforts and by building the capacity of our foreign partners, America must move off a permanent war footing. (Applause.) That's why I've imposed prudent limits on the use of drones, for we will not be safer if people abroad believe we strike within their countries without regard for the consequence."

Obama begins this statement by saying that as a country we are going to continue to pursue terrorists but permanently take ourselves out of war. That seems to be contradictory to what we are doing. What Obama is actually doing seems to be digging a deeper hole into war as we are pursuing terrorists.
What is actually happening is that under Obama's administration, we are more actively in war in order to capture these terrorists.
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0 # Slovebee 2014-06-09 07:00
Alternative Extra Credit (Part 2)

It hasn't really been working these past few years. Yet, Obama has made it a point to continue on this road. He also says that in "pursuing these terrorists networks" they need to "build the capacity of our foreign partners." That to me sounds like getting other countries involved that have no business in helping us or defending us. This sounds like an excuse to invade other foreign countries. To impede on their citizens and take over. In the second half of this statement Obama declares that he has put limits on the use of drones. Like we've learned in SOC 302 that has not been happening. Although the country may not be aware, of course because it is not publicized, drones are being used every day. By saying he's limiting their use, the people of this country have trusted him and have become convinced that Obama is not directing the violence that is happening overseas.
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0 # Slovebee 2014-06-09 07:01
Alternative Extra Credit (Part 3)

He ends by saying that the US "will not be safer" if the other countries are aware they we are striking without taking into consideration the consequences that can come out of that. And as we've learned in class, I think things have been taken into consideration, but that consideration has not been acted out. The government has been selfish in their decisions. I don't think that they think twice about the civilians they are going to hurt let alone kill when they make their plans to send out drones. If anyone thought twice, it probably wouldn't be happening. The consequences have definitely been building up the last few years and unfortunately we have not gained anything by the actions of the government.
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0 # deltoro 2014-06-09 19:51
Obama have the power to close GTMO. Stop lying and just do the right thing. Obama needs to think what the right thing is for the people. He needs to go against the system and show the world what a real leady is.
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0 # cutemeow 2014-06-10 01:19
Extra Credit part 1:
“That's why, working with this Congress, I will reform our surveillance programs because the vital work of our intelligence community depends on public confidence, here and abroad, that privacy of ordinary people is not being violated. (Applause.) And with the Afghan war ending, this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay -- (applause) -- because we counter terrorism not just through intelligence and military action but by remaining true to our constitutional ideals and setting an example for the rest of the world.”
This is a quote from the full transcript of President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union Address. There are things hidden in just this short segment that are hidden under persuasive rhetoric. First off, he claims that he will “reform surveillance programs” because it “depends on public confidence” and “ordinary people[‘s]” rights are not being violated.
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0 # cutemeow 2014-06-10 01:20
Extra Credit part 2: These claims are vague, so that he can deploy his own meanings on his own terms. Reforming surveillance programs so that the public trusts them could only mean that he wants to further remove transparency. He could only be interested in changing public opinion, as opposed to being interested in the public’s constitutional rights. Also by specifying that only the privacy of “ordinary” people is not violated is an understatement. So far he has demonstrated that he treats all U.S. citizens as suspects through wiretapping and invasive phone records and other forms of communication. He doesn’t consider any U.S. citizen as an “ordinary” person based off of these actions, so this statement probably means that nothing will change.
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0 # cutemeow 2014-06-10 01:21
Extra Credit part 3: Also in this passage, he tries to make it seem that all the responsibility is on Congress to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay as if he is powerless to doing so. This is what we have discussed in class how the public believes that President Obama truly wants to change the system but cannot do so because the system doesn’t let him. This isn’t true, although he makes it seem so. He says “this needs to be the year CONGRESS” does xyz, so that the responsibility is on them and not himself. Lastly, President Obama says, “because we counter terrorism not just through intelligence and military action but by remaining true to our constitutional ideals and setting an example for the rest of the world.” This statement in itself is scary and also a secret outline of the intimidation and scare tactics that the United States tries to use to control other countries.
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0 # cutemeow 2014-06-10 01:21
Extra Credit part 4:
Like we have discussed in class, the United States is known to use torture and other inhumane treatments of war prisoners and innocents alike. By treating innocent people as criminals and torturing them is the exact way that we “set an example for the rest of the world.” The United States government shows the rest of the world that we do not discriminate against anybody and the government intimidates their enemies. This sort of “example” keeps people afraid and extra aware that no one is safe, and to not mess with the United States. All of these claims that President Obama makes are clearly just empty talk that he uses to persuade the public that he is doing differently than he is really doing. A lot of these claims use rhetoric that can have double meanings, or even are vague enough so that his lies are disguised.
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0 # Frank Sahagun 2014-06-10 09:11
Regardless of the reasons for sticking around despite their recognition of their dislike of the system, the point is that like most people, they have no problem talking the talk, but can't walk the walk. Dr. Loo was dead on (no pun intended) to recognize that the people who actually do attempt to step up and assume some type of leadership in this movement have a strange habit of mysteriously dying in some sort of tragic accident, overdose, or just being straight up murdered. why do you think that Kennedy's assassination happened to occur just as kennedy's limo was directly in front of zapruder making for a perfect angle to produce a crystal clear video of the assassination.I t was definitely sure to catch the gruesomeness of his head being blown off with great clarity. In my opinion, this, as well as many others, is still being shown today in order to send a message to future presidents, and others who are in favor of the people, who thinking about stepping up to take action.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-10 16:50
While the system is brutal, as the examples you point to indicate, you did leave out one thing: the system's assassinating some of those people who stand up against it doesn't guarantee the system's survival. It would be misleading for peo to get the impression that the system is all powerful because it has and will kill some people. It's an indication of its strategic weakness, in fact, that it must resort to such draconian measures to try to stay in power.
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0 # Frank Sahagun 2014-06-10 19:07
if it comes down to it, they will not just kill some people, they will kill EVERY single person who stands in their way, or who poses a big enough threat.It should go without saying that nothing can guarantee the system's survival, but the fact that they will take drastic measures like that if necessary certainly has put up an extremely large road block for people. However, road blocks can still be passed. I completely agree that it just shows weakness if they are willing to kill. In my opinion, the reasons for sometimes sparing some of their lives are two-fold; either they haven't gained enough popularity, therefore don't pose a big enough threat, and/or secondly, they are just popular enough to fuel the "crazy conspiracy theory" fire that they need to keep burning,which creates stronger justification for what they are doing in the eyes of the public. In other words, they leave certain people alive, and out there as a way to make the ignorant more ignorant, and the crazy, crazier
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-10 20:30
Quoting Frank Sahagun:
if it comes down to it, they will not just kill some people, they will kill EVERY single person who stands in their way, or who poses a big enough threat.

Let's look at history. Revolutions have occurred and when they did those in power killed some, or even a lot, but they weren't able to kill everyone. Why's that? For one thing, the ruling class can't personally do all of or even much of the killing. They need others to follow their orders to do it and under the right circumstances because those who follow the orders aren't all robots and don't themselves benefit from the status quo in the same way, will refuse their orders and even turn their guns around. History shows us that there isn't a single instance of what you're saying where the rulers kill every since person who stood in their way. Cont.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-06-10 20:31
Even if they have tried, the act of carrying out such a scorched earth policy provokes others into resistance against them who weren't engaged in the fight before so it becomes beyond a certain point counter-product ive. The matter of violence and of power, like everything else, needs to be examined dialectically and not one-sidedly.
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0 # James Dewey 2014-06-11 01:08
Because Obama's power is rendered from the system, the system could then take away his power if he acts dis-favorably towards the system that sired him. Because the system preemptively has this defense against anyone trying to change the system, someone would have to come along who doesn't play by the system's rules. someone who got their authority from a place other than the system, much like a charismatic leader. after reading this article, i feel as if the only person who would be able to make a change on the current system is someone who got their power form a place other than the system
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0 # Marisol Parra- 2014-06-11 03:54
Alternative extra credit - Part (1)
I analyzed President Obama addressed to the United Nations General Assembly on September 24, 2013 which he address foreign policy. Obama clearly contradicts the speech when it comes to proving he can prevent violent conflict stating “together, we have worked to end a decade of war." A more accurate depiction is that we've merely started another decade of war, while ending the last decade of war. Yes, to quote Obama, "all of our troops have left Iraq" and "next year, an international coalition will end its war in Afghanistan." In reality it hasn’t really ended which he also goes on to say he is trying to close GTMO, “We’re transferring detainees to other countries and trying terrorists in courts of law, while working diligently to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.” Obama clearly promises closing down GTMO in many of his speeches and has failed to truly take action. He clearly is afraid to make a move and shake the Iron cage within the system.
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0 # Marisol Parra- 2014-06-11 03:56
Alternative extra credit - Part (2)
Furthermore he truly responds in a formal rationality making such statement, “Of course, America has been attacked by all sides of this internal conflict, simultaneously accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, and engineering their removal of power. In fact, the United States has purposely avoided choosing sides. Our overriding interest throughout these past few years has been to encourage a government that legitimately reflects the will of the Egyptian people, and recognizes true democracy as requiring a respect for minority rights and the rule of law, freedom of speech and assembly, and a strong civil society.” Are we truly practicing our freedom of speech within our systems?
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0 # Marisol Parra- 2014-06-11 03:56
Alternative extra credit - Part (3)
Systems indeed choose war as a first response, “And if we don’t want to choose between inaction and war, we must get better -- all of us -- at the policies that prevent the breakdown of basic order. Through respect for the responsibilitie s of nations and the rights of individuals. Through meaningful sanctions for those who break the rules. Through dogged diplomacy that resolves the root causes of conflict, not merely its aftermath. Through development assistance that brings hope to the marginalized. And yes, sometimes -- although this will not be enough -- there are going to be moments where the international community will need to acknowledge that the multilateral use of military force may be required to prevent the very worst from occurring.”
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0 # Marisol Parra- 2014-06-11 03:57
Alternative extra credit - Part (4)
At the beginning of the speech he states “worked to end a decade of war, yet toward the end reassures military force can be insisted upon. However, ends the speech with , We're ready to meet tomorrow’s challenges with you -- firm in the belief that all men and women are in fact created equal.” Society is told lies by bureaucracy because it is in their own interest to keep it a secret the less we know the stronger the system becomes. President Obama continues to use “Rule of Law,” yet repeatedly continues his political games. As stated in order to have change there needs to be a mass revolution to truly defeat the power of the system.
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0 # zzchi 2014-06-11 04:00
In President Obama's speech on NSA surveillance reforms he talks about the American people and their privacy. Because of 9/11 and cyber attacks all over the internet, many Americans have questioned their privacy. We as Americans should. However, he reaffirms in this speech that the NSA and the CIA must be able to track potential threats by using super computers to quickly sift through the large amounts of data they receive. By all means, they do not violate the privacy of the American people unless a person is a potential threat to the United States of America. In order to do this though there needs to be secrecy that we the people cannot know. but Obama and congress ca. This is to ensure there are no attacks like 9/11 again, but they all cannot be prevented. He satates, " The whole point of intelligence is to obtain information that is not publicly available, but Americas capabilities are unique." In other words, he is saying that his intelligence agency can spy on whoever they
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0 # zzchi 2014-06-11 04:09
want as long as these people are seen as a potential threat to the United States. That does not sit well in my stomach. What happens if a mistake is made? I am sure it already has happened considering the amount of data they sift through. Moreover, the intelligence agency will find that person and hold them indefinitely to get information out of a person through any means necessary. Our privacy is and has been jeopardized for a long time. He is not on the side of democracy nor the people of America. Reading between the lines in his speech has made me question my own privacy and what it means to be a democracy. If we were a democracy, there would be no breach in our privacy nor would the president have to speak up on behalf of reassuring our privacy is still, in fact, being protected. The problem here is he contradicted his own speech about our privacy. Obama has reassured me, and I hope many others, that we are not protecting our constitution. In fact he is protecting himself
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0 # zzchi 2014-06-11 04:23
his people by any means necessary. There is no public interest with respect to our privacy; there is interest in violating the people of our nation, for their own personal interests. Obama order a revision by "his" team of lawyers and the NSA. What is problematic with this is the word "his". What is his is his, and what is ours is his as well. There is no privacy any longer. What was once protected has been completely omitted. He instead justifies the privacy breach by saying, " nothing has indicated to our intelligence community has sought to violate the law or is cavalier about the civil liberties of their fellow citizens." The laws have been revised by Bush and Cheney to ensure this argument. However, instead of Obama making an executive order that our privacy is in fact private, he did not resolve anything; he rationalized and justified it. He does not stand for the people and I do not think he ever has. He is a mere puppet of other political elite and capitalism at its peak.
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0 # Uriel Gonzalez 2014-06-11 06:02
Alternative Extra Credit Part 1

Using Obama's 2014 State of the Union Address, one segment that stood out to me, was when he spoke about America having the responsibility to do something to help Americans save for retirement. Obama says, "Today most workers don't have a pension. A Social Security check often isn't enough on its own. And while the stock market has doubled over the last five years, that doesn't help folks who don't have 401(k)s. That's why tomorrow I will direct the Treasury to create a new way for working Americans to start their own retirement savings: MyRA. It's a -- it's a new savings bond that encourages folks to build a nest egg."
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0 # Uriel Gonzalez 2014-06-11 06:12
Alternative Extra Credit Part 2

I find it controversial for Obama to say that it does not help folks who don't have 401(k)s while the stock market has doubled over the last five years. If anything, the stock market crash in 2008 reversely impacted those who had 401(k)s , than those who did not have 401(k)s. The reason is because many people with 401(k)s lost their jobs at the time, and desperate to feed the children, many people with these types of retirement accounts decided to pull out money from their 401(k)s. People with 401(k)s that pulled their money before the age 59 1/2 faced a penalty and were forced to pay close to half of what they had going in their 401(k) in taxes. So their 401(k) quickly became a 201(k).
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0 # Uriel Gonzalez 2014-06-11 06:31
Alternative Extra Credit Part 3

For Obama to direct the Treasury to create a new way for working Americans to start their own retirement savings with MyRA is deceiving the people of its promise. Yes, I understand its a retirement account to help Americans save for retirement, but the limitations of MyRA that Obama proposes does not completely solve the problem for Americans without a retirement account. MyRA, like a traditional Roth IRA, still has a 59 1/2 rule penalty. This means that people who touch their money before 59 1/2 will face a penalty. Plus a rate of return of roughly 2% with MyRA is not sufficient for a comfortable retirement plan. I find it deceiving that Obama does not state this reality in his state of the union address. I assume he does not mention this truth in his speech to make the people feel like they need MyRA, without knowing the disadvantages.
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0 # Uriel Gonzalez 2014-06-11 06:55
Alternative Extra Credit Part 4

Obama does not want to held responsible and is following the orders that the system is giving him to follow. This is a problem as Dr. Loo mentions in this article. Dr. Loo reminds us that the "main problem is not individuals but the system and its logic - the relentless and ruthless pursuit of profit." Telling Congress that they must offer every American an automatic IRA on the job, is deceiving the people of the actual realities their retirement accounts will face after withdrawing their money from an IRA account. People need to realize that IRAs are designed to make employers wealthy, while the employees pay the taxes for saving their own money. This just does not seem right to me. People need to start educating themselves about finances with a professional financial advisor and not agree with what a political leader says as we cannot trust them to say the truth. This is evident in Obama's speech.
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0 # Luvlife1 2014-06-14 06:42
Alternative extra credit:
"Finally, if we're serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, law enforcement -- and fix our broken immigration system. (Cheers, applause.) Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted, and I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same. Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades. And for good reason: When people come here to fulfill their dreams -- to study, invent, contribute to our culture -- they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everybody. So let's get immigration reform done this year. (Cheers, applause.) Let's get it done. It's time.
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0 # Luvlife1 2014-06-14 06:44
Alternative extra credit:2
The ideas I've outlined so far can speed up growth and create more jobs. But in this rapidly-changin g economy, we have to make sure that every American has the skills to fill those jobs."
After reading this speech I can see how Obama contradicts himself as he states that it is now time to focus on immigration, however, he is on his second term and the original promise he made to those who were big on immigration has yet came to pass. In addition he indicates that it is time to pass an immigration reform as it will make a difference in the next few decades, also at the same time he indicates that there is a need to make sure that in the rapidly changing economy American's have to have the skills to fill those jobs.
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0 # Luvlife1 2014-06-14 06:45
Alternative Extra Credit:3

What I get from this is that he can not move forward with immigration because there is a need to fill the jobs by the Americans now and if need be, help future employees acquire the skills necessary as immigration reform ready we are NOT. The fact that he indicates that if Immigrants fulfill their dreams, the US has is much more appealing to others countries and with that statement I believe is more like an intimidation and that we are not ready as we need to have he Americans here ready for the rise of the economy. It's a contradictory statement for what he promised in order to get elected. In addition, wether Obama wants an Immigration reform, the system does not allow it because of Capitalism, companies want to exploit workers and make money and that means outsourcing work to other countries because even then minimum wage in other third world countries is much less then minimum wage here.
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Elaine Brower 2

Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait speaking at the NYC Stop the War on Iran rally 2/4/12