I will attempt to respond to the questions and criticisms above in a civil manner, and then I need to bow out. The major reason I deactivated my Face Book account back in October and never went back is the falsely impersonal barrier online that allows perfect strangers to trade insults like playground bullies. It literally rots the brain, producing stress hormones associated with hippocampus damage, one major precursor to dementia. And I am convinced that social media drove the sheer lunacy behind the past election cycle. I guess I needed to learn this lesson twice. This experience quickly became an unhealthy one. I am once again reminded how easily people misinterpret each other online, and it always degenerates into into a nasty contest about whose right….and no one ever wins he debate. Now I know this is not a safe space, and I accept responsibility for going off topic and sometimes not articulating what I mean in the clearest terms. I do not see where we disagree with each other to an extent that justifies the vitriol. I honestly cannot tell where some of your criticism is coming from – but I don’t attribute that to ignorance on your part. It’s yet another online communication hurdle. In particular, the comment about liberals focusing on free market theory is lost on me. Not because you are wrong or ignorant – I just don’t see the context. An example would help. 1. I think my 25 year track-record working on behalf of the poor and social justice issues speaks volumes. I have raised tens of millions of dollars for related causes and often as a volunteer. The idea that I am elitist in any way belies that you just do not know me, so I do take umbrage on that point. I do not blame poor people for our nation’s problems – it blows my mind that anyone would say that. I spend my career improving the lives of people with HIV/AIDS, the homeless, food banks, abused children, unwanted animals, the environment, public education, etc…with a brief and unfortunate stint in the financial sector. I was not a good fit in that industry, because I am not driven by greed. I am driven by values. My only problem with the “poor” – is that they rarely vote and when they do, they often vote against their own economic interests – this is especially true in the south, where conservative religious values often override economic self interests. Rather, I believe the American myopia referenced above stems from our geographic isolation relative to European countries, our historical status as the world’s superpower, meaning there is a tradition in our culture that every other country must follow our lead. I used to say that the rest of the world is obsessed with Americans, while Americans are obsessed with themselves. This issue is reflected in our educational system, which has failed to emphasize the importance of world history, cultural diversity and yes – second languages, depending on the state. I believe that an enhanced understanding of other cultural perspectives by immersing myself in that cultural and language enriched my mind more than any other academic undertaking. I saw this dynamic in France where I WORKED there – not on scholarship or because I am affluent…that’s laughable. I busted my behind for that opportunity, and I immersed myself in a second language. I am on disability with a crippled nervous system thanks to Klonopin. Still, I have coordinated two major FR events that support LGBT rights especially those affecting youth in the south and I have written to damn good novels. Though I find the French very civil, they were frustrated that they had to learn American English to climb the corporate ladder – that was my frame of reference. It had nothing to do with the poor in this country. 2. On the second point. For the most part, I think I agree with you? I only meant that in its simplest form, trading goods and services for an honest profit is not inherently evil or corrupt and even if it is – it’s here to stay, especially on the global stage. And we did that – we as Americans promoted capitalism and global free trade, beggars to our demise. I do not see a global communist revolution on the horizon, and I don’t think it would change human nature. To quote John Kenneth Galbraith: “Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it’s just the opposite.” There is no system where some people will not exploit others. George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” is an excellent allegory that makes the same point. The best solution is compromise – and if that means democratic socialism, I have long recognized my affinity for such a system. But it’s harder to achieve in the U.S. because we are not a small, homogeneous population, but an unwieldy association of 50 diverse states, with a weak federal government. I am fine with revamping the Constitution to expand the federal government, so that we can implement a more equitable system of wealth distribution, but I do not think it will happen….ever. So perhaps that makes me a cynic, but it hardly makes me an asshole. 3. The relationship between employer and employee is inherently exploitative? Yes – some less than others, but the employer cannot profit, so the company cannot survive, unless the worker produces more value than he or she is paid in return, but it’s gotten out of hand. My sister was selling about $1 million in Hondas a year and making little better than minimum wage. That boggles my mind. It is usurious. You can better regulate compensation, but what do you propose to replace the employer-employee relationship? If you mean communism, it has not demonstrated a better track record for preserving civil rights and individual freedoms. It always turns into tyranny and it always fails as an economic model. 4. I supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries! I must not have communicated well that I fully grasp the forty-year growth in economic disparity and how it will inevitably lead to crash after crash, until we drive off a precipice. Your point about pampered beneficiaries is well taken. When I worked at Harvard – I took free classes but I never a student – I had a friend who worked as a researcher in the business school. He compiled lists of the ridiculous, entitled things the B-school students said. It was very clear that those most likely to become major business leaders had little understanding of what it meant to struggle…at all. For the most part, the campus was populated by “legacy students” and not geniuses. But they were not evil people. In business school, I heard classmates say things like – “Well, so Exxon is refusing to make their legally binding payments to the environmental groups cleaning up Prince William Sound. It’s their job to protect shareholder value, so that’s justified, right? I mean, she went on to say, “that’s their priority not the environment, and if they can manipulate the judicial system to protect their bottom line, then kudos to them, even when they are court-mandated and agreed to do so!” I agree the mindset is beyond tragic. Another gem? Someone else stated that the children working in Nike sweatshops were better off because otherwise they would become child prostitutes. So I am well aware of how business school does not teach people to create anything of economic value. Much like law school teaches how to win a case, but does not teach justice. And B-school certainly does not teach students to think beyond the bottom line…at all. It teaches them the science of making money for money’s sake. Humanitarian values are dead even in philanthropy – and I mourn that. 5. As for Obama, he is the one and only President whose policies had a direct, positive impact on my life. I love him for that, BUT I found his economic boasts disingenuous. Two immediate examples spring to mind. He boasted about creating more than 10,000,000 jobs – but what kind of jobs? In what sectors? What is the average salary? Creating 10,000,000 low-paying jobs in the retail and fast-food sectors is not an achievement. It only perpetuates economic disparity. The other sleight of hand was his tendency to correlate stock market growth with domestic prosperity. Its a classic example of mistaken correlation versus causality. From the American investor’s perspective, the “stock market” is a 110 trillion-dollar dimension, with a mind of its own. I once wrote a humorous short story about exotic derivatives, which are based in quantum physics, developing into sentient beings. Actually, they evolved into drag queens with six-foot bouffants and AK-47s, who returned to earth to save the “gods” who created them from their own destruction. But back to business: American companies comprise about 25% of investment opportunities from the investor’s perspective. So you cannot correlate stock-market growth with domestic prosperity. Even if the investor is buying Disney or Coke or Microsoft – these companies are American brands, but they not American companies. They are multinational conglomerates. Their chief interest is not the domestic economy or the American worker. They are their own nations and their chief interests are global free trade. If you but Coke stock, it probably does not benefit the domestic economy. Obama did take a lot of false credit when the stock market rebounded. At the time, most American investors were not investing in the domestic economy. They were investing in emerging economies where the yields were much higher. The so-called B.R.I.C. countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China. I could go on – but I think that’s enough and I have learned my lesson. I will not comment on the MIA or any other blog again. Yes, I write a lot because I am a writer. But these exchanges always degenerate – and this thread is full of examples that have nothing to do with me. It seems like the nature of the beast. Good night to you all and peace. Forever and out.