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Old 2012-10-04, 16:30   Link #61
Ithekro
Space Battleship
 
 
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Stopped building new plants for about twenty-five years I think. More or less new projects were stopped after the Three Mile Island incident and only those that has been approved before that were allowed to continue being build....after being redesigned and go through a lot of political hoops. The last one I think was actually finished in the late 1980s. They just started building new ones this year, though there were efforts to build other new reactors in the 90s.

It is possible they may have build newer reactors in place of older reactors on the same certificate, but I doubt it.

But that is for commercial reactors. I know the Navy has some new reactors since then for submarines and aircraft carriers. I'm guessing there have also been newly build research reactors and probably experimental reactors, but those might have been scrapped as well because the public still has a massive fear of anything with the word "Nuclear" in it.
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Old 2012-10-04, 18:02   Link #62
DonQuigleone
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
Over half of my undergraduate degree was spent in engineering. I feel confident in saying that it's not always about the long term, even with engineering
Well...we're supposed to think about the long term. There always going to be guys who fall down on the job.
Quote:
Case in point, you bring up bridges. It's a testament to civil engineering that those bridges are still standing, but I don't think it necessarily shows long-term thinking. Long-term thinking involves maintenance of the bridges. Within the past 10 years we had a major bridge collapse, and if I remember correctly, part of the reason was that they were behind on their maintenance.
I don't think that's necessarily a failure of engineers. The engineers who designed and built the bridge are not at fault if a civil servant decides to cut back on the maintenance the original civil engineers recommended. I don't think you can blame that on any engineers.
Quote:
This is an example of short-term and long-term thinking. Short-term thinking states that the bridge is currently standing and working, so the maintenance can be put off and money that would have been put toward it can be used for something else. Long-term thinking states that a bridge failure would be catastrophic and would inconvenience many other areas of society, thus it's better (and potentially cheaper) to do the maintenance on schedule, and not to cheap out on it.
If you called in an engineer, and he was properly doing his job according to the codes of the profession, he would recommend the latter course of action. Engineers are very safety oriented. There's a lot of scary responsibility that goes with the profession.

If you take the former course, you're being criminally negligent(and can be put on trial for it). Taking the latter course was drilled into me on numerous occasions by my professors.
Quote:
Another similar example can be seen with America's nuclear power plants. We had a bunch of plants that were built in the 1950's and/or 1960's. The exact dates aren't important; what's important to know is that those plants were licensed to operate for 40 years, after which they were expected to be shut down, having served out their useful life. The expectation was that other nuclear power plants would have been built, so taking the older ones offline wouldn't be a big issue. The problem is that building a nuclear power plant is very expensive, and we reached a certain point where our rate of building new plants slowed dramatically. I think we even stopped for a while.

Now the old plants have been re-certified once (or twice, in some cases) and have been running for much longer than they were designed for. That they're still running is a testament to their design (and perhaps a bit to luck), not to long-term thinking. Long-term thinking would dictate that we should have been building new plants to replace these aging plants, because our energy needs have grown and the plants are an absolute requirement. If a plant fails, society served by that plant will suffer losses to productivity and lifestyle. But the plants are working now and it's a lot of money to spend now to build a plant that will service tomorrow. And so we continue to gamble on our luck and the strength of the original designs.
Again, that's not really down to engineers. Engineers don't choose whether or not new Nuclear plants get built, elected officials and bureaucrats make that call, in consultation with the Engineers(and this is how it should be). The fact that the plants are functioning well past their stated life shows that the original design engineers didn't cut corners, but it equally shows that the legislators who came after did.

If we look at things on an individual level, most engineers do their work and don't cut corners. Of course there are always bad engineers out there, and when they do cut corners everyone hears about it. But when Engineers do their job as they're supposed to, they're basically invisible.

Engineers are probably the least visible(and in my opinion most important, but I am biased ) major profession out there. At least doctors get glamorous dramas made about their lives. What do we get?

One of these days someone needs to write a sitcom set on an oil rig, or something.
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Old 2012-10-04, 18:09   Link #63
Ithekro
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Engineers get sci-fi representation in most cases. Though from what I understand "Big Bang Theory" likes to have those with doctorates pick on the engineer...because he is not a "doctor".
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Old 2012-10-04, 18:58   Link #64
DonQuigleone
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ithekro View Post
Engineers get sci-fi representation in most cases. Though from what I understand "Big Bang Theory" likes to have those with doctorates pick on the engineer...because he is not a "doctor".
If we have to use a completely imaginary fantasy to make engineering at all glamourous, we have a bit of a problem. Also, how often are engineers actually the starring characters in SF? At best they're the supporting characters who build the machines for the "cool" pilots and marines to use. We're lucky if we get a Kira Yamato, who at least starts as an engineer (even if he never does any engineering past the first episode).

Actually, there was Planetes, which I think is probably the closest thing to an Engineering drama. Most of the main characters in that were fairly close to being Engineers. They had to deal with a lot of mundane mechanical problems and fix them. Something like that would be good.


Anyway, to get back on topic, we do have some social problems today, but I think many of these are down to our society being in a state of extreme flux. We still haven't developed the required cultural attributes to prosper in the new digital world we find ourselves in. Our attitudes are still analog.

For instance, it wasn't so long ago that the general populace thought that everyone on the internet was an anti-social weirdo. Now using the internet is normal. You're an anti-social weirdo if you're not online.

Many of our devices have put more barriers in place for people to socialise with one another, used to be people routinely chatted with complete strangers for want of anything better to do. This sudden decrease in communications with strangers I think causes a lot of stress, so our society will have to devise new ways to get around this fact. For instance, maybe in the future trains will have "socialisation" carriages where people can go if they want to talk to other people.

Once our culture has caught up with technology, I can see people becoming a lot happier. Before that though, there's going to be a lag time.
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Old 2012-10-04, 19:59   Link #65
kyp275
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Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
We're lucky if we get a Kira Yamato, who at least starts as an engineer (even if he never does any engineering past the first episode).
Implying that any character resembling Kira Jesus Yamato is a good thing :P
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Old 2012-10-04, 20:09   Link #66
monsta666
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Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
I think people overestimate the materialism of our society. Certainly if you look at Tweenagers you'll get a vain consuming lot, but you know what? Tweens are idiots. Most people get fairly grounded once they have to pay their bills. That's not to say there isn't obscene consumption out there, but you know I think you'll find similar analogues in tribal societies (for instance in tribal societies men will compete to get the best exotic bird feathers to decorate their headresses. Ultimately, not too different from a Lamborghini).
While I can certainly see where you are coming from; there are people that are very materialistic and value people only by the stuff they have the main point I wanted to get across is our whole economic system is dependant on our consumption. If people were to suddenly save, be thrifty and not make impulsive purchases then the economy would go into a major recession. Indeed there was one time when Cameron suggested the Brits do just that, be more frugal with their money but the economists encouraged him to retract such statements lest he make the recession worse. It is one of the long-standing problems of capitalism where there is an issue of overproduction. To insure there is no overproduction demand has to be artificially stimulated.

This problem of overproduction was present in the great depression and after the depression demand was stimulated via the great rise in advertisements. As advertisements became insufficient and real incomes did not rise fast enough to match capital expansion lending standards were lowered so more people could obtain credit. In addition there was a systematic move to make credit cheaper and cheaper by lowering interest rates. This financialisation of the economy really took off after the 1980s until reaching something of a climax in 2008 with the financial crisis. However because demand has to be maintained politicians and bankers keep pushing credit even though the market has been saturated with debt.

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Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
I believe that things are only set to get better. But if things get worse, people will look back on this time as a golden age.
I do think, and this is only what I think, things will get worse in the near to medium future. And it is quite likely that people will see this as a golden age. Still, that fact does does not prevent people being resentful of our times. Indeed they could resent us precisely because we lived the good life...

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Originally Posted by willx View Post
You respond on nightbat's behalf, but take his statements out of his own context and you argue his statements aren't contradictory largely via sophistry.
I am not entirely sure where the fallacies in my argument are. It is not like I enjoyed the conclusions I have made, in fact I have spent time examining the potential weaknesses in the line of reasoning I have put together. Yet much of what I say is actually quite basic and intuitive.

All what I say can be summed up simply: we live in a finite planet with finite resources and energy. Yet we have an economic or should I be more precise a monetary system that demands infinite growth. Such a system will soon reach limits and a collapse in the financial system will have major consequences on other systems such as the economic, political and social systems we live in.

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Originally Posted by willx View Post
Don't forget he argues even the mechanization of the production cycle is a bad thing for humanity as a whole. Think about that for a second -- he literally argued that technological advancement is a bad thing because it made certain workers obsolete...
I would agree with you here, mechanization has not been bad for humanity as a whole. However there are negative consequences to technology and they should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Perhaps we differ, like we do in this case with Nightbat but I think the important lesson we should gather from Nightbat is the ability to question certain assumptions. I think the message of thinking for yourself and applying critical thought is a good one and that seems to be what Nightbat is getting at albeit this appears to be the implicit statement he is making in his posts.

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Originally Posted by willx View Post
I'm also quite familiar with Maslow's work, he argues the final stage is self actualization, but it's overly vague and constitutes everything from learning to play the piano, devoting yourself to charity and buying everyone around you a Ferrari. Read up on the criticisms of his work, it's quite interesting.
I will give you that Maslow's work does have its flaws but I do find despite them there are some merits. We do need to examine the concept that humans can gain happiness outside of material items or higher incomes. This needs to be addressed and I do not think this can be done with GDP or even HDI.

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Originally Posted by willx View Post
Also, everyone makes these big arguments about materialism and how it's a bad thing and debt and all these other things -- debt is a "capital structure" issue, regardless of that, real productive capacity proxy measured by "Real GDP" or "GNI" or whatever measure, has been increasing. This concept may be difficult for people to comprehend if they don't have a clear understanding of finance or economics, but it's very important to think about it. The "current" or "past" generation is mortgaging the future of the young .. but the young can also default on their obligations to the old.
GDP is a measure of gross spending or consumption and while this has indeed been increasing, even to this day, there are several weaknesses with GDP. GDP only measures the total amount of goods/services produced in society, it does not really distinguish whether these economic activities play a positive or negative effect on society.

Moreover the accounting derived from GDP seems a little suspect, for example GDP counts debts as income so if a country engages in deficit spending then this spending is counted as a component of GDP growth. In addition to this certain externalities such as environmental/ecosystem damage or climate change are not removed from GDP figures. In fact these negative factors may even contribute to GDP growth if some form of economic activity took place to limit the damage caused by these phenomenon.

Ignoring these negative externalities seems a rather dishonest form of accounting. Other issues that come from GDP is it counts the liquidation of stock as income and this is important when this stock are non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels. These issues btw are not even addressed in the HDI indeed it is a source of criticism using that index. And these points come before we even get to the issue of various governments massaging the figures to promote greater GDP numbers than is warranted but that is another topic.

If we had something that measured net worth instead of income then that would provide a far more accurate picture of where we stand. If we did this then it is quite likely we are not growing, our net worth could be declining. This potential conflict of decreasing net growth but rising incomes would suggest that some of our recent growth is either non-sustainable (due to liquidation of non-renewable stocks) or that economic growth is becoming uneconomical (as the negative externalities are exceeding the benefits of growth). If you wish, you can check some articles written by Herman Daly; a expert economist who worked in the World Bank. He talks repeatedly about uneconomic growth. Granted you may not agree with what the man says but his ideas should be interesting nonetheless.

Just to be clear, I do not mean to turn this into a big thing. But I just say and wish to stress that a strong case can be made that perhaps, just maybe, things are not as great as they would appear. I do feel there is wisdom in challenging the status quo.
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Old 2012-10-05, 10:18   Link #67
NightbatŪ
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Originally Posted by willx View Post
^ Okay! Then we're done! You actually didn't admit to that earlier, which is the whole point of the conversation thus far.
...and so you can stay silent about taking a step back and looking at things from a different perspective


Keep it in mind with the next wave of asbestos, DDT, Thalidomine, or when those geothermal reactors start creating cracks in the walls of your home ...600 miles away
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Old 2012-10-05, 10:26   Link #68
willx
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@monsta666 - I mostly don't disagree with what you're saying. My points were spurred and directly pointed at Nightbat's assertions that, and I paraphrase, "NOTHING is better. We are NOT better off than we were before" etc. You can line my points up against his side by side if you want. Things aren't perfect, will never be, and we can always improve. That said, it's intellectually dishonest to not appreciate the progress we've made. The glass is BOTH half-empty and half-full.

@Nightbat - I'm still not sure what you're saying? I'm a very critical person that looks at facts from various sources, pays attention to both sides of a debate .. And I don't think our world is perfect at all and can indeed improve. I'm also not blind to the progress that has been made. I'm the one that is trying to convince you to look at things from more than one perspective.. !?

Last edited by willx; 2012-10-05 at 12:56.
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Old 2012-10-05, 12:55   Link #69
DonQuigleone
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The glass of human progress is not fly or empty, but, despite all our recent problems, it's more full then it ever has been at any previous time in history. That doesn't mean we shouldn't keep on trying to fill it.
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Old 2013-11-21, 13:42   Link #70
Sugetsu
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Wow... its been more than a year since I last updated this thread. I have been so busy all this time that I haven't had time to contribute to these boards. In any case, 3 other episodes of the culture in decline series has since then been released.

Here is episode 3: This one deals with advertising and consumerism extensively.





My review:

In my personal opinion this is the best episode yet. The production values are way higher and the message is powerful. I specially enjoyed the Hot girl syndrome part.

Personally, I believe that Facebook is the manifestation of our declining culture. In it you can see our obsession for physical beauty, material possessions and money is more pervasive than ever. I believe that social media, such as Facebook makes us narcissistic by over-empowering our egos. Facebook is a temple to the self, in which would be worshipers come to give offerings. In this type of media people don't really talk to each other, instead, they talk at each other.
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Old 2013-11-21, 13:53   Link #71
sa547
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If you say so, then better get yourself ready for the worst.
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Old 2013-11-21, 13:55   Link #72
Sugetsu
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I don't really get what you are alluding to.
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Old 2013-11-21, 13:56   Link #73
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Cordis Die.
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Old 2013-11-21, 13:59   Link #74
Sugetsu
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Brain cells died.
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Old 2013-11-21, 16:48   Link #75
LeoXiao
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A society, taken as a collective, is like a privileged but lazy person. Because he is lazy, he doesn't do work that he knows ought to be done until the last minute, and sometimes when it's already too late. Most of these stupid self-caused mistakes are non-fatal, but even what he does accomplish cannot be called "efficient" by any reasonable measure of the word. Sometimes he becomes depressed and falls into a slump, during which more resources (mostly time) go to waste. Perhaps a shift in his working environment or some personal epiphany will infuse him with renewed optimism and hope, allowing him to achieve some modicum of temporary efficiency. Both nostalgia from the past and visions of the future will induce in him conflicting motivations, further undermining his ability to work and live along a straight, efficiency-maximizing path. All the while, some part of him is increasingly intellectually aware of this predicament, yet cannot bring himself to truly change.

In the same way, a society has its history and inherited legacy from the past. Great men rise to power with the hope that they can change the people through various means, such as law or revolution. However, conflicting interpretations of the past and future lead to contradictions in deciding what is to be done about the present. In the course of these conflicts we see that society may experience temporary spurts of revolutionary or cultural motivation, but they are never successful in their articulated aims. The result is that the legacy of revolution ends up normalized in the existing societal character, which in turn has been shaped by a multitude of both knowable and unknowable factors that cannot be overcome simply by any clear set of progressive standards.

The privileged but lazy person from above who truly changes for the better cannot simply throw away his entire past identity and expect to make progress; he has to build from his existing base, good or bad, and morph himself. Likewise, the best sort of revolution is not one that tries to unify the society and force it along any one path, but one that attempts to rejuvenate its existing character. Through this perennial renewal of nebulous but universal philosophy, concrete change will come naturally. The progress will be slow and painful, but it is the only genuine way it can be done. Otherwise you just end up up with utopian dreams and failed states.
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Old 2013-11-21, 23:11   Link #76
Sugetsu
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No true change can arrive when made by force. The people at the ZM understand this well. What Peter is trying to do here is to provoke you to think from a different perspective. The whole movement wants people start thinking more critically and in order to do so we are doing whatever we can to make people start a discussion about our current society.
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Old 2013-11-22, 17:08   Link #77
Kakashi
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I think there is a fundamental problem in this thread that people think capitalism is a good thing, or 'the best thing we've got so far'. This is a myth. Capitalism is nothing more than a global power structure which started in the middle ages (a continuation of feudal relations). It's important to understand this or we go around in circles defending what is essentially a system of subjugation through wage-slavery. We are all peasants in this system, we should at least understand this. Here is a useful link to understand its origins:

http://endofcapitalism.com/2009/11/0...of-capitalism/

I will take a look at the latest episode tomorrow!
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Old 2013-11-25, 16:41   Link #78
Sugetsu
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Great link Kakashi, I read the whole thing and I am very interested in getting the book. Here is an excerpt that really struck me as true, since I am aware that racism began with the slave trade:

Quote:
"What separates Caliban from other works exploring the “witch” phenomenon is that this book puts the persecution of witches into the context of the development of capitalism. For Silvia Federici, it’s no accident that “the witch-hunt occurred simultaneously with the colonization and extermination of the populations of the New World, the English enclosures, [or] the beginning of the slave trade” (164). She instructs that all of these seemingly unrelated tragedies were initiated by the same European ruling elite at the very moment that capitalism was in formation, the late 15th through 17th centuries. Contrary to “laissez-faire” orthodoxy which holds that capitalism functions best without state intervention, Federici posits that it was precisely the state violence of these campaigns that laid the foundation for capitalist economics."
And also this part of about the heretics is the very enlightening:
Quote:
"Federici maintains that it didn’t have to turn out this way. “Capitalism was not the only possible response to the crisis of feudal power. Throughout Europe, vast communalistic social movements and rebellions against feudalism had offered the promise of a new egalitarian society built on social equality and cooperation” (61).

Caliban‘s most inspiring chapters make visible an enormous continent-wide series of poor people’s movements that nearly toppled Church and State at the end of the Middle Ages. These peasant movements of the 13th – 16th centuries were often labelled “heretical” for challenging the religious power of the Vatican, but as the book details they aimed for a much broader transformation of feudal society. The so-called “heretics” often “denounced social hierarchies, private property and the accumulation of wealth, and disseminated among the people a new, revolutionary conception of society that, for the first time in the Middle Ages, redefined every aspect of daily life (work, property, sexual reproduction, and the position of women), posing the question of emancipation in truly universal terms” (33).

Silvia Federici shows us how the heretical movements took many forms, from the vegetarian and anti-war Cathars of southern France to the communistic and anti-nobility Taborites of Bohemia, but were united in the call for the elimination of social inequality. Many put forth the argument that it was anti-Christian for the clergy and nobility to live in opulence while so many suffered from lack of adequate food, housing or medical attention."
I guest The Zeitgeist movement is the new manifestation of the heretic movement.

Here is part 4th of the series, the topic this time war.



"In this episode, Peter investigates the nature of War and human conflict; the White House declares War On Nature itself; a french chef prepares an international delicacy for the kids; Louie the Logic Gremlin returns to piss everyone off and our Man on the Street gets rowdy."

This episode is even better than the 3rd one; it was quite comical. Guy in a tie ftw!
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Old 2013-12-11, 14:59   Link #79
Kakashi
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Originally Posted by Sugetsu View Post
Great link Kakashi, I read the whole thing and I am very interested in getting the book. Here is an excerpt that really struck me as true, since I am aware that racism began with the slave trade:



And also this part of about the heretics is the very enlightening:

I guest The Zeitgeist movement is the new manifestation of the heretic movement.
Thanks, Sugetsu. I see the Zeitgeist movement as one of many "heretic" movements (Occupy being another). I applaud their vision of a future society, and certainly see that as a possibility in the future.

It seems to me that heterodox economists have long been thinking about different ways to structure economies in ways which will provide equality, but only orthodox economists have been given voice in the media as they serve the wealthy elite (here is one heterodox economist, Paul D. Fernhout, who discusses a resource-based economy as well as other types of possible economies: http://www.artificialscarcity.com/).

I personally think these things are all very viable to implement, but as you may have gathered from my previous link I believe we are locked in this capitalist power structure (now in the form of a corporate empire) whether we like it or not. As a result, I don't think that the wealthy elite will just hand-over power without some kind of resitance/revoltion from below. As in history and still now, egalitarian movements or people's movements have always been the opposing force. In America the left has been greatly weakened since the red scare (I strongly recommend reading books by John Hedges especially Death of the Liberal Class). People irrationally fear or are skeptical any kind of socialism in the US because propagandists were very successful in obfuscating Russian communism with real socialism and were therefore able to weaken the left which functioned to protect the working class from corporate exploitation.

In any case, I do think American culture is in decline and it is not by accident. It is a corporate culture aimed at distracting the average American citizen from the fact that the US has undergone a corporate takeover.
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