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Hobson’s Options

Gadfly | August 5th, 2023

By Ed Raymond

In What State or Country Do You Want to Live – and in What Century?

In 16th Century Cambridge, England, Thomas Hobson owned a livery stable where he had 40 horses for rent. When customers saw 40 horses, they might assume they had a choice. No way. If the customer refused the horse in the stall nearest the door, he left without a horse.

Hobson insisted on this procedure so his horses would share in the workload and stay fit. His business motive made a lot of sense, and a phrase developed describing his practice: A Hobson’s choice is a free choice in which only one thing is offered.

One phrase became famous: “I’ll give you a choice: take it or leave it.” The phrase was first used in the press in 1660.

Have the voters in the Divided States of America reached the point where only one political party has a “stable” of policies attractive to Aristotle’s philosophy of the common good? In 2023, we have the Republican Party supporting policies opposed to the common good (using all the horses in the stable) and only attractive to billionaires who govern.

Here is a short list of policies which are an anathema to Republicans, Trumplicans, and so-called “conservatives”( who no longer exist!): Social Security—Medicare—Medicaid—Food Stamps (SNAP)—Women and Children’s Health and Nutrition Services (WIC)—Universal Health Care—Abortion—Vaccines—Climate Change—Supreme Court Ethics Regulations—Environmental Protection Agency Regulations—Minimum Wage—Internal Revenue Service Funding—National Park Funding—Solar and Renewable Energy—Student Debt Reform—LBGTQIA+ Community—Gun Control—Home Rule—Transgender Laws—Affirmative Action—Rent Control—Paid Sick Leave—Free Speech—Library and Classroom Controls—Paid Parental Leave—Higher Education Tenure—Pharmaceutical Price Controls—and several hundred more neglected issues.

Every State, Regardless of Size and Population, Has at Least Two Hate Groups

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has exposed 702 antigovernment and 523 hate groups. There are 492 general anti-government organizations, 61 militias spread over 50 states, and eight sheriff groups that believe sheriffs are the reigning power within counties.

Hate groups specialize in attacking and maligning minorities. At the present time there are 109 white nationalist organizations, 63 anti-LBGTQIA+, 60 American Nazi, 39 anti-Muslim, 17 anti-immigrant, 14 Confederate, 13 racist skinhead, 11 Ku Klux Klan, 10 Christian Identity, 9 antisemite, and 1 male supremacy hate group.

One can guess these are not democratic--or Democratic--institutions! One could safely say without “gaslighting,” these are not made up of nice people one asks in for dinner.

I wish Democratic politicians would stop using the term “gaslighting” because I believe 95% of the people don’t have a clue what it means. It means psychological manipulation repeated many times by the “gaslighter” who insists the things he sees are the absolute reality. The term is confusing, hard to accept, and can mean almost anything.

I wonder if the Republican Supreme Court will be identified soon as a hate and anti-government group by the SPLC. Justice Samuel Alito opened the door to that when he recently said Congress did not have the constitutional right to impose ethics and conduct rules on the Supremes. I imagine Justice Clarence Thomas agrees with that.

Chief Justice John Roberts has a real political mess on his hands because of superyachts, private jet flights, long and short vacations with billionaires who either run the country or would love to run it.

Where did the justices get the idea that no one is above them in the government? Are they adopting England’s concept of the Elizabethan Chain of Being which resulted in the Divine Right of Kings? How can a country have nine kings and queens?

Meet a Christian Minister Who Actually Follows the Teachings of Jesus Christ!

I have been following the career of Reverend Doctor William J. Barber for a decade because he has proven to be an exceptional preacher and a rare Christian minister during a period when many “Christian” ministers follow the beliefs of the racial White Nationalist Christian Identity Church and preach the prosperity gospel. They are the ministers who live in mansions, drive Lamborghinis and Ferraris, and own private jets.

Barber is a graduate of Duke University, has a Phd in Public Policy from Drew University, has served as the president of the North Carolina NAACP, currently teaches at Union Theological Seminary, and is a Senior Fellow at Auburn Seminary. He was also pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, NC for 30 years. He often appears on national news programs and co-chairs the national Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. He’s for real.

Barber’s Poor People’s Campaign has been working to eliminate poverty for years. Here are five critical facts, not theories, he works with in battling Congressional Republicans:

1. Poverty is the fourth leading cause of death in this country, behind heart disease, cancer, and unintentional injuries. The poor live to be less than 65 years of age, the rich, 95. Barber said, in his 30 years of officiating at funerals, he altered the service from ”they are now with God in Heaven” to “they died of policy murder.”

2. Poverty causes ten times as many deaths as homicide, five times as many deaths as gun violence, and 2.5 times as many deaths as drug overdoses. The Campaign preaches that there should be a ‘Surgeon’s General’s Warning’ on low-wage jobs.

3. The Divided States of America is the leader in child poverty among the rich countries of the world with a rate of 17.8%; and in the 37 OECD countries with a rate of 20.9%.

Matthew Desmond in his book Poverty By America: “Tens of millions of Americans do not end up poor by a mistake of history or personal conduct. Poverty persists because some wish and will it to.” Gee, I wonder who “some” are.

4. Seventy-five percent of Americans between 20-75 years will be among the “current” poor or near poverty for at least one year of their lives.

Contrary to popular belief, only 10% of the poor live in inner cities. The poor are spread evenly throughout the country.

Yes, the Blacks and Hispanics have the highest rate of poverty, but by sheer numbers most people living in poverty are White.

5. This last one is the most important critical fact. Child poverty alone costs our economy between $800 billion to $1.1 trillion a year, based on reductions in adult productivity, criminal justice costs, and the costs of healthcare for children from poor families.

In 19th Century England the exploitation of children was called “social murder.”

500 deaths from poverty a day happen in the richest country in the world.

The Reverend Barber sums up the campaign against poverty: “Together, we can become the ‘land of liberty and justice for all’ that has never yet been. Indeed, people who know they do not have to accept the death sentence of poverty are leading the way.”

Jane Coaston: “I Recall the Very Day and Hour, at Age 6, That I Knew I Was Gay!”

The Star Tribune recently ran an article describing the lives of 17 same sex couples. I have selected four to make a point about love, sex, gender, and transgenders.

1. Betty and Lynn Fishbein were “married” in their synagogue in 1999 and were married again in Minnesota legally in 2013—three months before Lynn died of cancer. Betty said: “Lynn kept forgetting that gays and lesbians could be married in Minnesota. Then I would jump on her and hug her and kiss her. She’d go: “Oh, my gosh! She couldn’t believe it, you know.”

2. Catholics Todd Hughes and Robert-Bruce Brake met in 1993 and 10 months later secretly celebrated their meeting in a church ceremony with friends and family. On the same date 20 years later, the pair married legally in Minnesota, reciting the same vows, before the same guests, in the same Catholic church, Church on the Hill in St. Paul.

Brake later described the service: “The vicar at the parish said: ‘If we’re going to perform this ceremony, we’re going to do it right, so no one will ever question that this is a serious relationship,’ so we had a solemn high mass with a chant choir. I mean it was two hours long.”

3. Actors Nic and Lisa Zapko met on a stage when they were at the Northern Sign Deaf Theater playing roles. They became friends and held a commitment ceremony in 2001, and by the time same-sex marriage was legal in Minnesota, had two children. They had to go through lawyers to “adopt” their children because they weren’t married. They were also concerned if one of them had to go to a hospital.

Nic said: “When same-sex marriage became legal, that pressure for all these things, all those worries, kind of dissipated. These are our children. This is our family.”

4. Jenny and Nicole Starr met at the University of Minnesota and later earned their law degrees. Today, they are both judges, one in Ramsey County, and one a judge at the Office of Administrative Hearings. They were first married at their Unitarian church in 2006. They were married again under Minnesota law in 2013 when their son was nine years old. They had taken him out of the foster care system.

Are these people controlled by Satan and his demons?

When Will Roman Catholics and Protestants Accept Gender Fluidity?

Pope Francis, at age 86 and in debatable health, is going to meet teenagers at a World Youth Day from around the world in Portugal, a country where 80% of the population is Catholic but less than 20% attend weekly mass.

Most of the other Catholic countries in Europe are in worse shape, with Roman Catholic churches dying, in hospice, or already cremated or buried. There are “For Sale” signs on old churches everywhere.

St. Peter’s church has been wrong about sex drive, contraception, gays, celibacy, abortion, and other “sexual” stuff for 2,000 years.

I’m going to tempt you to read about the 84-year-old retired Catholic bishop in Albany, New York, who has finally fallen in love with a woman he wants to marry—but was denied because the Vatican refuses to throw him out of the church. (New York Times, August 1, “Bishop Accused of Abuse Gets Married After Bid to Quit Church Is Denied.”) It is both amusing and a tragedy.

A Final Note:

At one time in the last century, I was Personnel Director of the Fargo Public Schools, and hired hundreds of teachers over seven years because of salary competition from California and Nevada. I hit the teacher’s college circuit each year with contracts in my back pocket.

I see both Fargo and West Fargo are desperately short of teachers. I suggest that interested teachers with young children should plan to live in Moorhead across the river because of the anti-LBGTQIA+ community laws, book banning, anti-librarian, anti-trans, anti-science MAGA bunkum, and other fascist laws passed by the ND legislature and signed by our “campaigning” governor.

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