East Asian nations have pledged to set up an $80bn (£51.2bn; 63.6bn euros) swap scheme by mid-2009 to help protect the region from financial turmoil. The move by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is backed by South Korea, China and Japan. Countries could borrow directly from the fund in times of emergency, to boost liquidity. The meeting comes as 43 European and Asian leaders meet in China to discuss how to tackle the financial crisis.See, this is why we need friends. Rugged individualism isn't going to put 80bn in a pot for us to share. Where the hell is the coalition of the willing? Can we get some help? MEGAN: Isn't it starting to seem like rather than try to prevent the inevitable from happening — and rather ineffectively — we should start planning for how to get out of it? Like, put some of our money toward that? LATOYA: It's like Dubya read How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, thinking it was Carnegie's book. MEGAN: The coalition of the willing told us to go fuck ourselves about the time that McCain declared diplomatic war on Spain (if not far earlier). LATOYA: One would think it's time to reevalaute how we — as a government and as a nation — view money, investments, solvency, humans and capital. MEGAN: Workers are a fundamental of the American economy, and they are strong. Strong enough, one hopes, to survive unemployment and a recession, but since they'll still be strong we can totes not call it that. It's a mental recession, for a nation of whiners that are nonetheless fundamental and strong. LATOYA: That's a lot of strength there. But, umm, can we drop the bullshit for a second. MEGAN: Is that allowed? It's a Presidential campaign. LATOYA: See, unlike a maverick (which I learned from my friend Alyssa Quart is an unbranded calf), I am a patriot. I shocked the hell out of my friends by admitting this — they wanted to put me in rehab. MEGAN: You only love the Fake America, though. LATOYA: But I really do love my country. And I do believe that America is destined for greatness, if we can stop letting asswipes who fear every little thing stay in charge. MEGAN: Well, then this might make you happy: the GOP is expecting to lose between 11 and 23 House seats, including Bachmann. LATOYA: Courtney (of Feministing) has this cool interview on Alternet with Deborah Stone who wrote The Samaritan's Dilemma: Should Government Help Your Neighbor?. I think this interview gets at part of the reason why the GOP is imploding. Basically put, this mess isn't working. I know no one wants to pay more taxes. I sure don't, and Joe the Plumber isn't gonna no matter what. But seriously — an educated workforce with basic needs taken care of benefits everyone. MEGAN: It's an interesting argument, actually. Adam Smith argued that the market and competition fostered trust and interdependence, and that's the basis of a lot of capitalist/democratic theory. But the way this has played out, you sorta gotta wonder about whether that's true. Even economists recognize the value of social goods, though conservatives like to forget it and whine about eliminating the Department of Education. LATOYA: And with as much money America has, it's shameful that so many of us working (fake or real) American citizens have to hustle and scratch for the basics — and for what? Yeah, Adam Smith's work gets so perverted sometimes. They just pick the parts they like (endless consumption!) and jettison the parts they don't (accountability!) The interview gets really good here:
CEM: You argue that conservative leaders — especially Reagan — have convinced American voters that interdependence is weak and shameful and that rugged individualism is realistic. You also show the ways in which joyful interdependence plays out around us constantly in our personal lives. Why, given our everyday experiences of altruism, did we take to the notion that it was weak writ large? DS: Partly, I think, the conservative notion of freedom (not having to do anything you don't choose to do) taps into the painful truth of human development. Each of us grows from a helpless, dependent and powerless creature to a reasonably competent and independent adult with a high degree of autonomy. From our teen years on, we savor that freedom from adult control, even as we watch our elders sometimes become frail and revert to childlike dependence. Perhaps that's why it's easy for leaders to evoke terror and shame in us by speaking of dependence. Partly, too, our culture celebrates individual achievement. Even team sports hype their MVP awards. From the time we're born, when our parents get our Apgar scores of infant health, we are constantly subjected to measures of our individual merits — athletic abilities, intellectual abilities, job performance and financial accumulations. Schools emphasize individual accomplishment, and teachers punish collaboration as "cheating." When parents, schools, employers and others reward people for individual achievement, this way of thinking pushes interdependence into the background of everyone's consciousness. We begin to believe that individuals can do it all on their own if they try hard enough, and we lose sight of all the ways people get help all the time.MEGAN: Yeah, I haven't lived at home or been financially supported by my parents since I was 18, and even then I had to buy my own shit with the money I could make off of umpiring and temping. LATOYA: Right — so I don't want to hear that try hard shit. I did. And I do well for myself. But goddamn it, we need more. MEGAN: Plenty of people try hard and still don't get much of anywhere. And some people don't try at all and get to go places you and I will never be. LATOYA: Exactly. Like the Real Housewives of ATL. MEGAN: I was having this conversation over the weekend about my grad school, which was chock full of people from money, many of whom had never gotten a paycheck. And I was working 2 internships — one paid and one unpaid — to make enough money to pay rent and have stuff on my resume that wasn't "Assistant Systems Administrator," so I was always going to class in business clothes (from Marshalls, mostly) because I was going to or coming from work. And I found out later that everyone just thought I was fancy — it didn't occur to people that I was working. LATOYA: Yeah, some people really don't understand that you can't just ask your parents for money to cover things sometimes because your folks don't have it. MEGAN: Many of those people have way more money than I can imagine, and it's not because they had bootstraps. LATOYA: And a lot of people in power willfully shut their eyes to this. We're not saying "take money from the ungrateful rich and redistribute it to the deserving poor." That's a load of fucking bullshit. We're saying, if people with means chip in a bit more and help out those with less, we will all be far better off. MEGAN: Also, it's a progressive tax system, motherfuckers, it actually exactly means that if you make more money, you're supposed to pay more taxes. (Sorry, I finally saw the "I'm Joe the Plumber" commercial last night and nearly threw my beer at the TV when that came up) LATOYA: The fate of a nation falls to all of us — not just those with means. And so if we only consider the needs of those with means, while blindly hoping that one day we will have more means and be rich, we have put ourselves in a precarious position. I'm so over this fake class war though. MEGAN: I'm over wars in general. LATOYA: Not the stratification of wealth — that's real — but the manufactured Joe the Plumber bullshit. Luckily for us, it appears that the modern conservative movement is cannibalizing itself so maybe we can have a real conversation about these issues once the election is over with. MEGAN: Also, it's a little ironic that a conservative talk radio station collected money from listeners to pay his back taxes. Apparently, it IS patriotic to pay more in taxes to help others, as long as it's a white dude who makes $250,000 a year. LATOYA: See, look at that — a classic example of tribalism, right there. Where's Pat Buchanan's outrage over that? Oh wait, I forgot — it's only tribalism when someone else is doing it. I do hope the GOP implodes and recreates though. You can't have a debate with the willfully stupid and all the smart conservatives are kind of just drifting right now. MEGAN: Pat Buchanan's outrage is reserved for Colin Powell. LATOYA: It's like they can't believe what's happening either. (Oh, and like Colin Powell gives a shit what Pat Buchanan thinks. That mofo needs to sit down. The only reason I tolerate him is because he is wealth of comedy for Rachel Maddow.) MEGAN: It's the fundamental problem with the coalition they built, and with the voters they've encouraged this year. They are the know Know-Nothing party. LATOYA: Yeah - look at this Jonah Goldberg douchnozzle. MEGAN: Fucking Jonah Goldberg needs to stop wearing too-tight lace thongs, because they are obviously riding up and cutting off the blood to his brain. LATOYA: Let's revisit the obvious here. People who aren't affected by racism don't need to comment on when it is or isn't happening? How the fuck would you know? MEGAN: Well, it's unfair to say that Jonah is unaffected by racism, since he's a racist. It affects him daily. LATOYA: No, he affects other people with his abject ignorance. MEGAN: Oh, but dontcha know, racism is just a "false memory."
Instead, Obama has set off a case of full-blown race dementia among precisely the crowd that swears Obama is leading us out of the racial wilderness. Rather than shrink, the tumor of racial paranoia is metastasizing, pressing down on the medulla oblongata or whatever part of the brain that, when poked, causes one to hallucinate, conjure false memories and write astoundingly insipid things.We're all just paranoics, and we should sit down, shut up, smile and pretend that everything in America is hunky-dory. This, however, is the most blindingly stupid and offensive line of the piece: "[Barack Obama] explicitly chose to have a racial identity when he didn’t have to..." LATOYA: I've been searching my site for that story where the dude burned a cross on someone's lawn and his mom tried to argue that it wasn't racially motivated or that time when we had to post about racial code words since blacks were getting called "reggins" at work (that's nigger, backwards, for those of y'all still sleeping) but it's all there. All our stuff on identity is there, it is obvious that racism isn't a problem that goes away by people not talking about it. MEGAN: All not talking about it does is allow people like Jonah Goldberg to not get called out for being racist. LATOYA: When has that ever worked? Can I ignore my fucked up credit and tell a creditor that my BoA bill was in the past and we all need to move on? No — we have to deal with that shit. And the sooner people like Jonah Goldberg shut the fuck up and get out of our way, the better.