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Bruce Laurie: Confused by Supreme Court campaign contribution ruling

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, accompanied by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., speak to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 2, 2014, about the Supreme Court decision in the McCutcheon vs. FEC case, in which the Court struck down limits in federal law on the aggregate campaign contributions individual donors may make to candidates, political parties, and political action committees.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, accompanied by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., speak to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 2, 2014, about the Supreme Court decision in the McCutcheon vs. FEC case, in which the Court struck down limits in federal law on the aggregate campaign contributions individual donors may make to candidates, political parties, and political action committees. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

To the editor:

Regarding the recent Supreme Court political campaign contributions decision, I would appreciate assistance from conservatives and originalists considerate enough to direct me to the clauses in the Constitution that define speech as money and further indicate that the more money in politics, the better.

I thought I had a pretty good grasp of our founding document but appear to have missed the part on speech and money. Also, I was under the impression that judicial activism was a bad thing, sort of like tyranny from unelected public officials, but appear to be confused on that point as well. It seems to be acceptable when invoked in a good cause. Right?

Bruce Laurie

Amherst

Legacy Comments17

And apropos to nothing, I HAVE in fact been approached to help make online learning platforms and MOOCs. I haven't been especially interested to do so so far. But it seems that when the market decides that my job should be done online, it wants it to be done online by me. Funny world, isn't it?

Thats the first step and then they fire you after the online system is up and running. Someone in Chindia will be your replacement soon enough. Machine intelligence is going to easily replace you.

Bless your heart, Gary. You know even less about online education than you do about all the other things you slavishly quote right-wing media on. So, the business model of MOOCS is as follows. An academic institution, external company or NGO decides that they are interested in making the educational product of high-end institutions available to international markets or low-end domestic markets. This is not just the information that is transferred (after all, you can just get that on Wikipedia for free) but the prestige associated with the credentialed staff of the institution. So, they convince instructors associated with the institution to produce a digital simulacrum of the brick-and-mortar experience. Now, the reason that elite institutions are willing to let this happen is that they know that the second-rate product delivered by the digital experience won’t cut into demand from the high-end consumers of the brick-and-mortar product. And this is why I haven’t wanted to do one of these things. I am not comfortable with putting my name on what seems to be a second-rate product for the “have lesses” that will generate profit for a third party. We should make the first-rate product more accessible to the “have less” people. Also, what about “Chindia” (I know this is your new favorite word). Guess where rich families from “chindia” are directing their kids? To the brick and mortar product. Not because they are trying to “steal our secrets,” because those kids are not going to become the programmers of your paranoid little fantasy. But so that kids that would never lower themselves to consume the lower-end MOOC product can get the social capital that comes with the brick-and-mortar experience. Now, like I said, this is a propos to nothing. My experience is very different from that of the vast majority of our fellow citizens. My whole point in bringing this up is to give you a little taste of the real world that is invisible to you in all your rants about education, privatization, or any of these other things that you bleat on about. My personal theory: your anger at the world and its vast anti-capital conspiracy comes from your own professional frustrations. Maybe you were outsourced yourself, or maybe didn’t get the kind of advancement that you thought that your “skilled work” deserved. Did it ever occur to you that maybe you’re just not very good at your job?

What I'm talking about great wise one is a computer learning system (machine leaning) where the computer is so smart no human is involved at all. Its a computer doing all the interaction with the student. It will be a better education than teaching by a person because the computer will know everything (and I mean everything) about the subject it is teaching and a complete psychological understanding of each individual student. That future is not so far off as you think. It will happen during my lifetime. Then all the teachers can be laid off and finally tax payers will have some relief. There will always be elite schools the rich can afford to send their kids too but in the future the vast majority of kids will be educated by machines, not people.

You know what's sad about you--besides the obvious the constant use of the internet to reach out for human contact through negative attention? The fact that you're in such a terminal stage of Fox News dementia that it's taken over every aspect of your fantasy life. You dream up a computer with a "complete psychological understanding." Is the primary role of this device to improve the learning of children? Is it going to bring peace to the world or make us smarter? No, all Gary can think is that those evil teachers will be laid off and taxpayers will somehow be relieved of their tax burden. Precious. Also, I know that you identify as a "technologist," but the anthropomorphizing artificial intelligence with phrases "where the computer is so smart" or "knows everything" doesn't sound like something a programmer would write. I bet that the person in "Chindia" that your job was outsourced to uses more convincing language. Like I said, I'm pretty sure that your anger comes from some painful confrontation with how limited your skills actually are.

Sorry - one more thing - I would also point out that brother Laurie as a state employee who appears to be over 65 from his biography is probably enjoying a 90% retrirement benefit (what does a full Umass professor make - $150,000 a year? maybe more?) so in retirement say he rakes in about $100,000 a year for the rest of his life to live on - that we tax payers are paying for while us schmucks get diddle squat from social security. Just needed to point that out. 1 percenter stuff and all that. Where's the equity in this picture? Interesting article today about how most public pensions are going bust. http://americasmarkets.usatoday.com/2014/04/09/report-85-of-pensions-could-fail-in-30-years/

"1 percenter stuff and all that." You're making even less sense than usual. I guess that it's no surprise that you'd resent a college professor for his political views and the fact that he's probably smarter than you. Or that you resent the fact that he's a public employee getting return on decades of work on a partially state-funded pension. These are both debatable reasons for resenting someone, but some version of you're whining is not completely outside the world of rationality for more-or-less rational people who feel an incessant need to whine. But now a public employee on a pension is part of the "one percent," or on par with people who can afford to make very, very big campaign contributions? Hmm. Odd math. But I guess this shouldn't surprise me coming from someone who once claimed to make 100 grand a year and pay 50% of it in taxes. I really worry about your ability to handle your fracking stock windfall. I hope that Hugh, if he keeps returning, is an accountant.

He's close to a 1 percenter in terms of the pension he gets. According to a study released by Harvard, the average worker owes $106,000 for his share of the current debt. If you include future unfunded committments its $1 million that each worker owes. These lavish public retirement benefits and salaries are what is driving much of the debt bomb. As for what will happen to social security which the average worker will get - the study says "The news isn’t much better on the Social Security front: “Without reform, Social Security beneficiaries will face a 23 percent benefit cut in 2033." In the end this whole "money is not speech" thing (who came up with a nutty term like that?) is about silencing fiscally conservative voices - plain and simple. I am sure even you can see that. In none of these proposals the local towns are passing do they ban labor union contributions, environmental groups or the league of woman voters - all the usual partners in the progressive movement. Those groups will still be able to spend lavishly to elect democrats who will keep the high salaries and benefits, the gravey train, coming. Thats what this movement is really all about. The reality of the little school teacher living frugally on a small pension are long gone. The teachers and academics I see drive the Mercedes and Audis these days while the rest of us are in the Ford Focus. When you add up all the individual costs the overly generous salaries and benefits are bankrupting us and destroying our future prosperity.

Yeah, no. "Close to one percenter in terms of the pension he gets." That's a new one. You can make all the labored, cherry-picked and non-sequitor arguments you want about what professors make and public pensions, but that is not the point Laurie was making. So you're saying that fiscally conservative voices can't express themselves through voting like the rest of us? In know, I know, the unions. But gosh, aren't we lucky that now a "fiscally conservative" billionaire can lobby to give himself an absurdly low tax rate and raise the deficit by reducing overall tax revenue. And he can do it by pumping as much money into the system as an individual and unions can muster as associations of thousands and millions of individuals. I'd say that "even you" would recognize the problem with that, but I know that you are too brainwashed for that. You know what's really sad about people like you? Assuming that you make like 100 grand a year, you are acting as a shill for millionaires who hold people like you in even more contempt than those of us who think your a fool for your political views. You're being a tool in the most literal sense of the word.

What you fail to recognize is that many people work for that billionaire - like me for one. If he keeps his taxes down, he helps his business and I don't have my job moved to Chindia. Thats the thing you miss in all of this because you don't work in the for profit private sector like the majoriy of us do. As the former Northampton mayor Calvin Coolidge said, the business of america is business. I want my company to spend money to advocate for public policies that benefit my company - just like the govt employee wants AFSCME and the NEA to spend for democrats to keep the public gravy train going. The average new govt retiree in Massachusetts gets a monthly benefit that is higher than 82% of working peoples wages. How is that equitable. Sounds like 1 percenter stuff to me. And that does not include the gold plated retiree health plans. Any way no point in arguing with you since you are a giveme giveme leftest drone. The current system is untennable. When the roads are unpassable because there was no money to fix them, social security is means tested and thousands of school teachers are being let go so some reitree in Florida can get his fat check then call me back and I'll tell you I warned you. The fundamental problem is not the amount of taxes the govt collects, its how it spends it. Increasing taxes on the rich will not fix the problem. You could tax the rich 100% and not begin to address the structural fiscal problem of over spending caused by the bloated inefficient bureacracy.

So, basically, your admitting that your political opinions are not due to any real ideological conviction, but because you made a decision to enter a market sector that can be outsourced and are completely cowed by your employer. So you admit that you are a coward as well as a hypocrite. Why are you a hypocrite in this case? Because I'm not sure that the "majority of us" are, in fact, living in this kind of craven fear of being outsourced. For example, the millions of service sector employees whose jobs can't be moved to "Chindia" because they are based on serving American consumers. Remember, the employees that you have cheerfully said should be replaced by robots. So it's OK to eliminate jobs in sectors that you aren't working in? But I'm glad that you're being a good republican and taking personal responsibility for your life choices by becoming a pathetic mouthpiece for people who are much wealthier than you will ever be,

Also, Gary, many of the workers who have the most issue with their jobs being outsourced abroad are the ones who historically organize through the unions that you LOVE so much. And, believe it or not, most of those folks would probably prefer to be a union than not to be in one. So really, there is something very "special" about the fact that you feel so cowed by your employer that you have to be a mouthpiece for billionaires that probably don't have a terribly high opinion of you. Maybe your relationship with Hugh, should he keep returning, will boost your self-esteem.

Trust me - your job is going to be done by computer soon too, programmed by a programmer somewhere in Chindia. Education is the next thing that is going to be rationalized this way. Just look at the headline on gazettnet - $30 million for the Nton school department for next year - no layoffs, no reductions, no attempt at efficiencies even though there are probably fewer students to educate. The sooner they perfect remote learning the better we will all be. This again gets back to the issue - should only the NEA and AFSCME and SEIU be able to exercise free speech in the political arena or should all voices be heard? I want all voices to be heard. Let the best idea win. I am not afraid to hear all opinions.

If I lived in your world, I'd be very worried about my future. Fortunately, I live in the real world with everyone else. Hopefully, someday you'll get tired of being a parody of yourself and join us. If you were really not afraid to hear opinions, you would join us. But I think your ears are too plugged up with Fox News manure. And the billionaires you work for can enjoy a little belly laugh at the sad, silly little man who does their online trolling for them.

" If he keeps his taxes down, he helps his business and I don't have my job moved to Chindia." HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! OMG! That is the FUNNIEST bunch of b.s. I've read all week! Man, gary, you've swallowed the FOX propaganda hook, line, and sinker!

EVERY YEAR, gary, this country loses 400 BILLION dollars to tax evasion by billionaires like the ones you claim to work for. Why don't you remember THAT the next time you are so quick to blame someone who spent their time doing their job and are collecting the benefits they bargained for instead of the ones who are robbing us blind? You wanna complain about pennies and nickels while the oligarchs in charge of the corporatocracy have stolen the entire store out from under your nose!

So only labor unions have a right to free speech Mr. Laurie? Just google Mr. Laurie and you will find out that he's a die hard socialist Umass professor stuck in the past - with the failed policies of the 60's that got us into this coming mess. Sorry brother Laurie - we believe more speech is good.

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