Political Proxemics

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Turning on cable news can be a trying experiment in tolerating overblown out-spoken arguments from both sides. “Higher taxes!?”, cries the right. “Cut spending!?”, shouts the left. It is a centuries-old political contest. But one area there should be no contention when it comes to government aid and public spending should be when natural disasters strike.

Commonly referred to as “acts of God”, with more and more evidence pointing to man-made climate change, natural disasters like hurricanes, floods and tornadoes do not pick and choose whom they strike, nor do they fall along only politically ideological lines. Weather events can displace anyone and destroy all homes when they hit, regardless of the bumper sticker on the jalopy by the curb.

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Last fall, Hurricane Sandy was a watershed moment in both waking up the Northeast to the coming reality of a changing climate, but also in showing unity between Republicans and Democrats as Republican Governor Chris Christie and President Barack Obama joined forces to revitalize the area, and in doing so, giving a successful example of state and federal governments working in tandem.

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More recently, the tornadoes that struck Oklahoma with devastating fashion brought in its aftermath a spirit of political cooperation, as Republican representative of a district effected, Tom Cole, had nothing but praise and open arms for President Obama‘s overtures of assistance and condolence.

Are we seeing a new political reality in America? Or is this a new version of a open space theory, which stated people who live often in close quarters and/or urban areas where they see and feel the effects of government spending in things like garbage collection, street upkeep, sanitation, etc., are far more likely to be pro-government or in favor of spending, because they can see the effects of their taxes.

The opposite would also hold true then, that people who are separated from others, who do not see the benefit the spending of their taxes brings, and do not bear witness to any state initiative and maybe have to travel a distance to access the Internet, would be less in favor of government and anti-spending.

It’s a natural disaster that brings us all closer, even if it is through the comfort of our living room while watching the news, the walls that separated us are crumbling, we are connecting, and just because we aren’t neighbors doesn’t mean we can’t see the benefit of lending help and a hand.

Netflix: Coping With Useless Space

It’s the simple basic economic tenet of capitalism of “supply and demand” that has made many rich and left so many holding the proverbial bag when it comes to the luck of the draw that is dealt by that elusive “invisible hand” of the free market, but also all based on timing: when someone cashes out, a bull or bear market, current (or lacking) legislation, are all factors that can make someone’s dividend pay out tenfold, or ruining the investment of many lives: it’s all a matter of… timing.

The most infamous example of this would be the 1929 Stock Market Crash, where practically no one thought investing in stocks was a bad idea, unbeknownst to the many was that the power of so few at that time yielded to a bankrupt and decay of the entire fiscal system. The most recent example of this being the 2008 Financial Crisis, socked by bad credit, fraudulent mortgage lending, and corrupted derivative and credit default swap practices filled a balloon ready to burst, nearly bringing down the global economic system with it.

It is the “law of scarcity” that has allowed items few and far to find go up in value, but when that same item floods the market, it’s ready availability drops the bottom from under it’s cost. It is in this vein that leads collectors to collect everything from sports cards and stamps to comic books and antiques, and what drives hoarders to well, hoard, as seen in such accurate modern depictions of American life like the TV show “Hoarders“.

It is this obsession with collecting that has personally garnered me shelves, drawers, and piles of dusty VCR tapes and colorful DVD collections from years of dutiful video cassette recording from TV and amassing a fairly respectable video library. All of which I have found to be rendered completely obsolete with my recent subscription to Netflix.

Here before my eyes, for a small monthly subscription fee, I have immediate access to what had previously taken hours and hours of record/pause button pushes for attentive commercial editing and diligent attention, is now made meaningless with practically every TV series in their entirety there to peruse. What had cost hundreds to buy to construct a DVD home library is now bled dry with almost every title available to stream through Netflix.

What convenience we live in now, a far cry from the days of the now-lost art of reading the structure of commercials to predict a program returning from break, or scrambling to grab a new video tape to replace one that had unpredictably run out sooner than planned, or the difference between EP and SP, are all now just a mindless click away.

Years worth of video tapes capturing wrestling pay-per-view events, movies, boxing fights, concerts, documentaries…all previously rare, hard-to-find articles whose preciousness only escalated in value due to their complete lack of abundance are now drained of practically everything but sentimental value with the advent of Netflix, leaving tapes and discs deserted on shelves, forever remaining untouched and unviewed cocooned in their cases, now little more than wall decor, as they become what the TV channel knobs became to the television remote: yesterday’s inconvenience. Not that I was banking on cashing out on a stack of Hulk Hogan cage matches or personally compiled tapes of Seinfeld, but the sheer ease of availability of viewing these items really makes me question all of that misspent time and those unwisely spent dollars. Clearly not being worth it in hindsight, it begs the question: What are we wasting time on now that will soon be made irrelevant by an emergence in technology in the near-future? Only time…can tell.

Thanks Netflix!

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