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Bowling for Columbine
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Carlos
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2004 6:40 am    Post subject: Bowling for Columbine Reply with quote

Yesterday I have seen in the cinema the Michael Moore's movie "Bowling for Columbine". Have you seen it? What does seem to you? In your opinion that reflects well the USA? I am interested especially in the opinions of whom you live there or know well the country.

Regards and many tranquility. Cool


Ayer ví en el cine la película de Michael Moore "Bowling for Columbine". ¿La habeis visto? ¿Qué os parece? ¿Creeis que los EEUU están bien reflejados? Me interesan sobre todo las opiniones de quienes vivís ahí o conoceis bien el país.

Saludos y mucha tranquilidad. Cool
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Art
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2004 12:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, Carlos,

I'm trying to get hold of the movie now. I'll be happy to tell you what I think, but would also be interested in hearing what aspects of the movie stood out for you.

Has anyone else seen the movie?

-----------

Hola, Carlos,

Estoy intentando conseguir la película. Repondería con mucho gusto como me parece el ciné, pero me interesaría también saber cuales aspectos de la película son más notables para tí.

¿Ha visto la película alguien más?


Last edited by Art on Wed Jun 23, 2004 6:07 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Carlos
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2004 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hola, Art

Gracias por tu respuesta, creía que nadie me iba a contestar. Disculpa que escriba en español, pero me resulta mucho más cómodo y rápido para textos largos y complejos.

Para empezar, me sorprende que en un país aparentemente tan rico pueda haber tales desigualdades entre diferentes capas de población. Por ejemplo, se pueden ver personas que viven a todo lujo, con mucho más de lo que pueden necesitar, mientras que otras personas viven en los callejones entre basura. No es que en Europa, y concretamente en España o Asturias, no haya gente en situación de pobreza aguda. Pero al menos aquí existen mecanismos de protección social. Tenemos un organismo llamado Seguridad Social. Cualquier trabajador tiene derecho a ella. Si eres un trabajador autónomo (por cuenta propia), como es mi caso, pagas una cotización mensual de 225 € (algo más de 225 $) de tu propio bolsillo (quien lo desee puede cotizar más). Eso me da derecho a cobrar unos ingresos mínimos si me doy de baja por enfermedad, mientras dure la enfermedad. A partir de mi edad de jubilación, paso también a cobrar una pensión. También, por supuesto, a tener asistencia médica gratuita (sólo se paga una parte del valor de los medicamentos, pero no tengo que pagar nada a ningún médico ni hospital. Si se trata de empleados por cuenta ajena, las condiciones son más favorables. De la cuota mensual, una parte la paga el trabajador y otra el empresario, sea éste privado o público (por ejemplo, la Administración en el caso de los funcionarios). Los empleados por cuenta ajena aún tienen mejores condiciones que los autónomos, pues tienen derecho, bajo ciertas condiciones, a un subsidio de desempleo y a otro llamado “Ayuda familiar”.

Un trabajador que pierde su empleo, cobre o no cobre un dinero del Estado, sigue teniendo asistencia médica gratuita. Pero es más, aunque una persona no haya trabajado en su vida, e incluso los inmigrantes sin papeles, también pueden recibir atención médica gratuita a cargo de la Seguridad Social, la llamada “Prestación Asistencial”. El derecho a la salud está recogido como uno de los derechos básicos en la Constitución española.

Sin embargo, una cosa que me llamó mucho la atención en la película es el caso de un niño de color que mató de un disparo a otra niña de su misma edad por accidente. Este niño vivía con su madre, pero ésta, si trabajaba para mantenerse ambos, no podía cuidar de su hijo. Si dejaba su trabajo, entonces ni ella ni el niño tenían de qué vivir.

De modo que lo tuvo que dejar al cuidado de su tío, que era quien guardaba un revólver en casa, arma que descubrió el niño y con la que mató accidentalmente a la otra niña. Esta mujer recibía algún tipo de asistencia, pero no del Estado, sino de una empresa privada, que le procuraba un empleo donde cobraba 5.5 $ por hora, saliendo de casa muy temprano y regresando por la noche.

Este sueldo es, para el nivel de vida de España, absolutamente ridículo, unas 1000 pesetas la hora, y eso sin tener en cuenta cuánto cuesta vivir en USA, ni qué otros gastos tenía que hacer frente esta mujer, que aquí son cubiertos por el Estado. Para que os hagais una idea, 6 euros por hora lo puede cobrar una baby-sitter o una estudiante que de clases particulares de inglés a domicilio, por ejemplo. Una hora de trabajo de un fontanero en casa, o de un albañil, o en un taller de reparación de automóviles puede estar entre 12 y 18 euros (1 euro = 1.2 dólares). Entre 9 y 12 euros puede ser el precio del menú del día en un establecimiento de comidas para trabajadores.

Al parecer, en USA esto se llama “Programa de Asistencia por Trabajo”, está en manos de empresas privadas, y resulta ser un negocio muy rentable para los dueños de estas empresas.

Todo esto me resulta super-chocante, sobre todo respecto a la desprotección de la gente humilde. Aquí hay medios para atender casos como los de esta mujer, por ejemplo escuelas maternales y guarderías, casas de acogida para mujeres maltratadas, servicios sociales a cargo de los ayuntamientos. Y todo esto en un país como España, que tampoco es de los más ricos de Europa, con un nivel de vida por debajo de Alemania, Suecia o Francia. Curiosamente, creo que una de las situaciones más similares a la de USA puede ser la de Gran Bretaña. No se trata tanto de la existencia de recursos económicos, que por supuesto que los hay, sino de la voluntad política por parte de los gobernantes y de la demanda por parte de la población, que considera todo esto un derecho. Y eso es precisamente lo que no entiendo, no ya por qué el Gobierno de los EEUU no lleva a cabo este tipo de políticas sociales (eso puede variar con la tendencia ideológica o económica del partido en el poder), sino cómo es posible que la sociedad no proteste, no se movilice, no reclame cosas tan básicas.

Aquí en Europa hay tendencias a aplicar este mismo tipo de políticas, a privatizar servicios y a recortar las prestaciones, pero es precisamente lo que provoca protestas y caídas de gobiernos. Cuando salen miles de manifestantes a la calle, en Madrid, París, Barcelona, Génova, Berlín o Roma, igual los americanos pensais que se trata de miles de anarquistas, de bolcheviques o agitadores, o terroristas. Nada de eso, son simplemente cientos de miles de ciudadanos corrientes que no están dispuestos a tolerar ciertas injusticias, y que son (o somos) conscientes de que, en buena medida, nuestro alto nivel de vida se debe a la depredación que hacemos de los recursos del llamado Tercer Mundo.

Para no alargar más este post, en otro momento hablaré de cosas como las armas o los crímenes violentos, que también se mencionan en la película.

Saludos.

---------------
translated by Art & Reverso

Hello, Art

Thank you for your response, I thought that nobody was going to answer me. Excuse me for writing in Spanish, but it's much more comfortable and rapid for long and complex texts.

To begin, I'm surprised that in a country seemingly so rich there could be such inequalities between different layers of the population. For example, you can see persons who live in total luxury, with much more than they could possibly need, whereas other persons live in the alleys among the garbage. It isn't that in Europe, and concretely in Spain or Asturias, there are no people in situations of acute poverty. But at least here there exist mechanisms of social protection. We have an organization called "Seguridad Social." Any worker has right to it. If you are an autonomous worker (working for one's self), as is my case, you pay a monthly fee of 225 € (slightly more than $225) out of your own pocket (and anyone who wishes can pay more). It gives me the right to receive a minimal income if I need to give myself sick leave, as long as the disease lasts. From my pensionable age, I will also receive a pension. Also, of course, I have free medical assistance (you only pay a part of the value of the medicines, but I don't have to pay anything either to any doctor nor hospital). If it is a question of personnel working for someone else, the conditions are more favorable. Of the monthly quota, a part is paid by the worker and other part by the businessman, whether it's private or public (for example, the Administration in the case of the civil servants). Employees of someone else have better yet conditions than the self-employeed, since they have the right, under certain conditions, to a subsidy of unemployment and to another one called “Family help.”

A worker who loses his or her employment, whether or not they receive any money from the government, will continue having free medical assistance. But there's more. Even if a person has not been employed at all in his or her life--or if they're even immigrants without papers, they can also receive free medical attention at the expense of the National Health Service, the so called “Prestación Asistencial" (Welfare Presentation). The right to the health care is recognized as one of the basic rights in the Spanish Constitution.

Nevertheless, one thing that very much got my attention in the movie is the case of a child of color who accidentally shot and killed a girl of the same age. This child was living with his mother, but when she was working to support them both, she could not take care of her son. If she stopped working work, then neither she nor the child had any means of support.

So she had to leave her son in the care of his uncle, who kept a revolver in house, a weapon that the child discovered and with which he accidentally killed the little girl. This woman was receiving some type of assistance, not of the State, but from a private company which got her employment at which she was receiving $5.50 per hour, leaving the house very early and returning at night.

This salary is, for the standard of living of Spain, absolutely ridiculous, approximately 1000 pesetas the hour, and this is without taking into account how much it costs to live in the USA, nor what other expenses had to be faced by this woman--all of which would here be covered by the State. In order that you'll have an idea, 6 Euros per hour is what a baby-sitter or a student can receive by giving priviate English classes in someone's home, for example. A plumber working for an hour in someone's house, or a bricklayer, or someone in a car repair shop would earn between 12 and 18 Euros (1 Euro = 1.2 dollars). The price of the menu of the day in an restaurant frequented by workers might charge between 9 and 12 Euros.

Apparently, in USA what is called a “Program of Assistance for Work” is in the hands of private companies and turns out to be a very profitable business for the owners of these companies.

All that strikes me as incredibly shocking, especially with regard to the lack of protection of the humble [low or poor] people. Here there are means to attend to cases such as this woman's--for example, maternal schools [schools for mothers?]and child day care, shelters for battered women, social services at the expense of the town governments. And all that in a country like Spain, which is not of the richest of Europe, with a standard of living below Germany, Sweden or France. Curiously, I believe that one of the situations most similar to that of USA can be that of Great Britain. This isn't so much a matter of the existence of economic resources--which certainly exist--but of the political will on the part of the leaders and the demand on the part of the population, who consider all of this a right. And this is precisely what I do not understand: why doesn't the Government of the USA already carry out this type of social policies (yes, it can change with the ideological or economic trend of the party in the power), but how it is possible that the society does not protest, does not mobilize itself, does not claim such basic things?

Here in Europe there are trends to apply the same type of policies, to privatize services and to cut back the benefits, but this is precisely what provokes protests and the fall of governments. When thousands of demonstrators go out to the street, in Madrid, Paris, Barcelona, Genoa, Berlin or Rome, to Americans it might look like thousands of anarchists, Bolsheviks, or agitators, or terrorists. It's nothing like that; they are simply hundreds of thousands of contemporary citizens who are not ready to tolerate certain injustices, and who are (or, and we are) conscious, for the most part, that we owe our high standard of living to our plundering of the resources of the so called Third world.

Not to lengthen any more this post, at another time I will speak about things like the weapons or the violent crimes, which also are mentioned in the movie.

Best wishes.
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Terechu
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 5:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A ver, aclaraivos! Yo no ví la peli, pero tengo el libro Stupid White Men. ¿De qué vamos a hablar, de armas o de sistemas sociales? Hay que ser concisos, para no extender las discusiones hasta el infinito.
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Alright, which is it? I didn't see the film, but I have the book Stupid White Men. What are we going to discuss, weapons or social systems? We have to be concise, otherwise the discussions could spin off endlessly.

Terechu
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Art
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Carlos' questions are mostly about the social system. The weapon was simply a prop in a sad story.

-----------

Pienso que Carlos preguntó sobre todo de las sistemas sociales. La arma era simplemente un objeto de utilería en una historia triste.
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Carlos
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 7:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terechu, no hay nada de qué aclararse, creo que el tema de discusión está claro: los contenidos de la película Bowling for Columbine. Este film comienza preguntándose acerca de una matanza de chavales en una escuela de un pueblo hasta entonces aparentemente tranquilo, pero Michael Moore va tirando del hilo, haciendo un estudio sociológico de los USA.

El director expone una serie de situaciones, y también su visión de la Historia de USA, de las políticas económicas y sociales, de la cuestión racial, y de varias cosas más.

Hace un esquema teórico acerca de las posibles explicaciones de la violencia, del miedo entre la población, y del frecuente y generalizado uso de las armas de fuego. Toma cada una de estas posibles explicaciones e intenta comprobar si son ciertas o no. Por ejemplo, uno de los argumentos más manidos es "la Historia violenta del país". Otro es la abundancia de armas, y así sucesivamente. Pero Michael Moore va echando abajo cada una de estas explicaciones y demuestra que no son determinantes, poniendo como ejemplo otros países.

Por ejemplo, toma un país vecino, como es Canadá, con unas coordenadas históricas y económicas similares, también mayoritariamente protestante, de habla inglesa y de origen anglosajón. Este país tiene 30 millones de habitantes (España cerca de 42), e históricamente es un país donde se practica mucho la caza. Resulta que están registradas 7 millones de armas. Es decir, las armas de fuego son abundantes, pero a diferencia de USA el índice de muertes violentas por esta causa es mínimo, lo mismo que demuestran las cifras por hechos similares en países como Inglaterra, Alemania, Francia, Italia... Ni con la suma de todos ellos se alcanzan ni de lejos los 12000 muertos al año de los Estados Unidos. Y es más, los canadienses no tienen alarmas, cámaras de vigilancia en sus casas, no se encierran con mil llaves, la puerta de la calle se puede abrir sólo con empujarla.

El propio Moore va a Canadá, entrevista a los ciudadanos de este país, que parecen vivir tranquilos, y comprueba que efectivamente las puertas de las casas están abiertas. Hay incluso una escena muy cómica en la que Moore habla con el propietario de una casa, le explica el tipo de comprobación que está haciendo. El propietario se muestra amable, no se enfada con él, y finalmente Michael Moore se despide de él diciendo "¡Gracias por no dispararme!".

Es también cómico ver imágenes de 1999: la gente se abalanza a los supermercados a comprar toda clase de víveres, para estar preparados ante las graves catástrofes anunciadas a causa del llamado "Efecto 2000", aquel que iba a hacer que todos los ordenadores se volvieran locos, lo que iba a provocar poco menos que el derrumbe de la sociedad occidental hasta sus cimientos. El director de cine acaba sacando la conclusión de que al pueblo norteamericano se le impregna conscientemente de miedo.

Comprenderás que 90 minutos de película no caben en un post, Terechu. Lo que toca no es algo simple ni breve. Sencillamente Art preguntaba qué era lo que me chocaba de la película, y eso realmente fue... todo. De ahí lo de preguntar yo a los miembros americanos si se veían reflejados en esta película. No consigo imaginarme esas mismas situaciones aquí.

Saludos y tranquilidad Cool

[edited by Art - one paragraph removed
editado por Art - un párrafo sacado]
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Barbara Alonso Novellino



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Could someone please translate Carlos' message of Thursday, June 24. Unfortunately, I don't read Spanish and I would like to see what he said...Thank you...Barbara Alonso Novellino
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Carlos
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2004 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara, thank you very much for your interest. Gladly I translate my message into the best English that I can. I omit the last part directed to Terechu, since it does not have much relation with the subject.

Translation:

Terechu, there isn’t any thing to clarify, I believe that the discussion subject is clear: the contents of the movie Bowling for Columbine. This film begins asking itself about a slaughter of teenagers in a school of a town until then apparently calm, but Michael Moore is throwing of the thread, doing a sociological study of the USA.

The director exposes a series of situations, and also his vision of the History of the USA, the economic and social policies, the racial question, and several things more.

He does a theoretical scheme about the possible explanations of the violence, the fear among the people, and of the frequent and widespread use of firearms. He takes each one from these possible explanations and tries to verify if they are true or not. For example, one of the most usual arguments is "the violent History of the country". Another one is the abundance of weapons, and so on. But Michael Moore is throwing down each one of these explanations and demonstrates that they are not determining, putting like example other countries.

For example, he takes a neighboring country, since it is Canada, with historical and economic similar coordinates, also mainly protestant, of English speech and Anglo-Saxon origin. This country has 30 million inhabitants (Spain near 42), and historically is a country where the hunt has a strong tradition. It turns out that are registered 7 million weapon. That is to say, the firearms are abundant, but unlike the USA the index of violent deaths by this cause is minimum, just like they demonstrate the numbers by similar facts in countries like England, Germany, France, Italy... Not with the sum of all of them they are reached not of far 12000 dead people to the year of the United States. And it is more, the Canadians do not have alarms, cameras of monitoring in his houses, are not locked in with thousand keys, it is possible to open the door of the street only with pushing it.

Moore himself goes to Canada, interviews the citizens of this country, who seem to live calm, and verifies that indeed the doors of the houses are open. There is even a very comical scene in which Moore speaks with the owner of a house, makes clear to him the type of checking that he is doing. The owner proves to be nice, does not get angry with him, and finally Michael Moore says goodbye to the owner, saying “thank you for not shoot on me!”

It is also a lot funny to see images of 1999: the people rush to the supermarkets to buy all kinds of provisions, to be prepared before the serious catastrophes announced because of so called "Effect 2000", that one that was going to do that all the computers were becoming crazy, which it was going to provoke little less than the fall of the western civilisation until its foundations. The cinema director ends up drawing the conclusion of which the American people is consciously impregnated with fear.

You will understand that 90 minutes of movie do not fit in a post, Terechu. What touches is not something simple not brief. Simply Art asked what was what it hit to me of the film, and that really was... everything. This is the reason to ask to the American members if they feel well reflected in this film. I do not manage to imagine the same situations here.

Regards Cool
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Art
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2004 1:57 am    Post subject: ! Reply with quote

Boy, Carlos, the movie sounds pretty interesting the way you describe it! I'm still having trouble finding it (but I will). The local library doesn't have it. I don't think they have anything at all provocative.

I'm particularly interested in seeing how Moore talks about Americans being more fearful than other cultures. That could be, although I'm skeptical.

For now, I want to respond to part of what you discussed in your first response to my question: the differences in social services between our countries.

It seems to me that many, many voting Americans believe:
  • they've "got it made" (meaning that they have reached some level of success and comfort),
  • they don't need for government assistance now (although they'd always be happy to accept a check from the government, as GW Bush has proven with his tax cuts),
  • they can't imagine needing government assistance in the future,
  • they don't like paying any more taxes than they have to, and
  • given all of these reasons, they're basically against programs that help the sick, poor, mentally ill, etc.--or at least they're against paying for them.
Of course, that's a huge oversimplification.

Plenty of people support the "right" of everyone to food, shelter, health care, education, etc. It just doesn't seem to be a voting majority at present. And they might have different ideas about how to do it.

It's interesting to me to see that America's young people are so much more conservative than my generation (raised in the 1950s and 1960s). They tend to vote much more conservatively, from what I've read. This conservativeness could be a result of the heightened prosperity the younger generations experienced when they were growing up. To my eyes, it looks like a more selfish, less socially-concerned group of people, but my own generation exhibits plenty of selfishness and lack of social concern, too.

It's very possible that I simply don't understand this generational shift and that one of the younger members could explain it to me!

Something odd happens across all of the generations. A huge majority of us say were very concerned about the environment, for example, but few of us vote as though the environment matters. Environmental issues don't usually have much impact on our political elections. I think the same could be said for issues of hunger, health care, jobs training programs, etc. People like the idea of these doing something about these, but they don't vote in ways that support these issues.

One reason for this is that there is a common notion in the US that government can't do everything, that people have to help themselves, and that non-governmental groups should play an important role in solving these problems. Churches are usually mentioned as the ideal replacement for government in providing these programs.

[I may talk about the role of religion in American culture later.]

Carlos asked why Americans aren't out in the streets protesting our lack of social programs. There are some, but it's generally in very small numbers. [There were many, many more who protested Bush's plan to got to war in Iraq.]

If there was an increase in social programs--or more to the point an increase in taxes--people wouldn't protest in the streets, but they would complain on talk radio and vote the "liberal" politicians out in the next election.

This does seem very different from the situation in Europe. I think you're right that England is most similar to the US today in its social programs. This may all be related to Reagan and Thatcher's anti-big-government rhetoric.

When we Americans faced the Great Depression, F. D. Roosevelt created many social programs to help feed the people. Today the remnants of those programs are being eroded by Democrats and Republicans alike, but especially by Republicans. Maybe we are too far removed from the depression to realize how close we always are (potentially) to reliving it.

I do think there is some truth to the idea that it is usually better for people to do what they can for themselves instead of receiving a hand out. But this may be a false dichotomy. Let me explain.

I was impressed by the way Carlos wrote about the taxes he pays for Seguridad Social and the possible benefits he could receive. Carlos wrote as though it was in his advantage to be able to participate in this program. It was as though he was glad to pay a premium on a valuable insurance policy, as though he believed he was getting a very good deal. Well, he is!

We Americans don't see our taxes as benefiting us. We don't see our social programs as insurance for ourselves. Instead we tend to see taxes as used to pay for handouts to other people. Perhaps a wise and skillful leader could change the way Americans think about their social programs, and then we, too, could have programs like you do in Europe.

Our Medicare program (basically a health insurance program for retired and disabled people) is much more efficient than privately run insurance programs. But are American politicians supporting it? No, they seem to be trying to dismantle it in order to let corporations take over the job. If these politicians are successful, the result will obviously be much more expensive health care for senior citizens--and thus less health care for many of them.

Sometimes I wonder if our emotionally-held ideologies haven't gotten in the way of level-headed planning based on the analysis of data.

Maybe, but I think a bigger reason for our current mess is that our politicians' election efforts are largely financed by donations from business interests. And when these politicians aren't running our government, they go back to work for these same corporations. So, is it any wonder whose interests the politicians vote to support?

Then, to justify their actions, these politicians frame the issues in ways that resonate emotionally with the majority. Am I cynical? In a way, yes, but I'm really a dreamer. I'm hoping for a better world.

This self-interest may be smart in the short-term, but if I were running a corporation, I'd want well-educated and healthy employees. And I'd want a nation of people who were earning a decent wage so they could buy my products and services. Wouldn't long-term self-interest dictate the need for strong social programs like a living minimum wage, universal health care, day care for the children working parents, secure and reasonably-funded retirement income programs, and strong support for education?

Carlos is right, the differential between richest and poorest seems to be growing rapidly in America. I think it's all a matter of people making political and business decisions only according to their own self-interest. The end result of this can't be good.

In America we have a very strong political right, a very numerous but weak center, and almost no left. Yes, there are political parties on the left but, as Carlos suggested, the socialists and communists are viewed as extremists and crazies. Our communists and socialists act and sound like they're still fighting for the Russian revolution, stuck in a bizarre time warp.

It's not politically possible for American politicians to talk like the left does in Spain--not if they want to be elected. In recent elections Republicans have had great success by calling Democrats "liberal" and questioning their patriotism. These "liberals" haven't been radical, just slightly more socially progressive!

What we Americans don't recognize is how extreme our right-wing politicians and parties are.

The right has become closely allied with conservative evangelical Christianity. Obviously, many Americans are comfortable with the conservative religious values the political right talks about.

But the right isn't just evangelicals. It also includes the anti-government crowd (anti-taxes, anti-regulation, etc.). It often seems to me as though the anti-government side is getting more of its agenda met than the evangelical side and that the anti-government crowd is using the evangelicals simply to win a majority.

Well, that's more than enough for now. I'm sure others will want to disagree with me, which is as it should be!

----------------------

¡Vaya¡ Carlos, la película parece bastante interesante por el modo en que lo describes. Todavía tengo problemas encontrándolo (pero voy a verlo). La biblioteca local no lo tiene. Pienso que no tienen nada tan provocativo.

En particular estoy interesado en ver como es que Moore muestra que Americanos son más temerosos que otras culturas. Podría ser, aunque yo sea escéptico.

Por ahora, quiero responder a la parte de que Carlos habló en su primera respuesta a mi pregunta: las diferencias de servicios sociales entre nuestros países.

Me parece que muchos, muchos votadores Americanos creen:
    ellos ya tienen sus riquezas (significando que ellos han alcanzado algún nivel de éxito y comodidad),
  • ellos no necesitan la ayuda de gobierno ahora (aunque ellos siempre estan felices aceptar un talón del gobierno, como GW Bush ha probado con sus recortes fiscales),
  • ellos no pueden imaginarse necesitar la ayuda de gobierno en el futuro,
  • no les gusta pagar más impuestos que tienen que pagar,
  • considerando todos estos motivos, ellos son básicamente contra los programas que ayudan a los enfermos, pobres, psíquicamente enfermos, etc. - o al menos ellos están contra pagar por estos programas.
Desde luego, hago una simplificación enorme y excesiva.

Mucha gente apoya "el derecho" de cada uno al alimento, el refugio, la asistencia médica, la educación, etc. Solamente no parece ser una mayoría de votación actualmente. Y ellos podrían tener ideas diferentes sobre como hacerlo.

Me interesa ver que los jóvenes de América son tanto más conservador que mi generación (criados en los años 1950 y años 1960). Ellos tienden a votar en una manera mucho más conservadora (de lo que he leído). Este conservatismo podría ser un resultado de la prosperidad aumentada que las generaciones jovenes experimentaron como ninos. A mis ojos, esto me parece a un grupo más egoísta, menos socialmente preocupado por otra gente, pero mi propia generación expone mucho egoísmo y carencia de interés social, también.

¡Es muy posible que simplemente no entiendo este cambio generational y que uno de los socios más jóvenes podría explicármelo!

Algo extraño pasa a través de todas las generaciones. Una enorme mayoría de nosotros dice que estamos muy preocupados sobre el ambiente, por ejemplo, pero pocos de nosotros votamos como si el ambiente nos importe. Cuestiones ambientales por lo general no tienen mucho impacto sobre nuestras elecciones políticas. Pienso que el mismo podría ser dicho para los temas de hambre, asistencia médica, programas de adiestramiento de empleos, etc. A la gente les gustan la idea de hacer algo sobre estos temas, pero no votan en un modo que apoya estos problemas.

Una razón para esto es que hay una noción común en los EEUU que el gobierno no puede hacer todo, que la gente tiene que ayudarse unos mismos, y que grupos no gubernamentales deberían jugar un papel importante en la solución de estos problemas. Las iglesias por lo general son mencionadas como el reemplazo ideal para el gobierno en el suministro de estos programas.

[Puedo hablar del papel de religión en la cultura americana más tarde.]

Carlos preguntó por qué los Americanos no protestan en las calles la carencia de programas sociales. Hay unos que protestan, pero es generalmente en números muy pequeños. [Había muchos, muchos más que protestaron el plan de Bush para la guerra en Irak.]

Si hubiera un aumento de programas sociales - o más al punto un aumento de impuestos - la gente no protestaría en las calles, pero se quejarían de la radio de conversación y no elegirían a los políticos "liberales" en la siguiente elección.

Esto realmente parece muy diferente de la situación en Europa. Pienso que Carlos tiene razón que Inglaterra es el pais europeo más similar a EU hoy en sus programas sociales. Esto puede ser relacionado todo con la retórica en contra un gobierno grande de Reagan y Thatcher.

Cuando Americanos afrontamos la Gran Depresión, el presidente F. D. Roosevelt creó muchos programas sociales para ayudar alimentar a la gente. Hoy los remanentes de aquellos programas están siendo erosionados por ambos Demócratas y Republicanos, pero sobre todo por Republicanos. Tal vez seamos demasiado lejos de la depresión para comprender que siempre somos (potencialmente) cerca al volver a vivir ello.

Realmente pienso que hay alguna veracidad en la idea que es por lo general mejor si la gente hacen lo que pueden para sí mismos en vez de recibir una limosna. Pero esto puede ser una dicotomía falsa. Déjeme explicar.

Fui impresionado por el modo en que Carlos escribió sobre los impuestos que él paga para Seguridad Social y las prestaciones posibles que él podría recibir. Carlos escribió como si estuviera en su ventaja para ser capaz de participar en este programa. Era como si él se alegrara para pagar un prema de seguro para una póliza de seguros valuosa, como si él creyera que para él es una ganga fantástica. ¡Pues, es así!

Nosotros Americanos no vemos nuestros impuestos como ser un beneficio para nosotros. No vemos nuestros programas sociales como un seguro para nosotros. En cambio, tendemos a ver los impuestos como si son usados para limosnas para otra gente. Quizás un líder sabio y experto podría cambiar el modo que los Americanos piensan de sus programas sociales, y luego nosotros, también, podríamos tener programas como hacen en Europa.

Nuestro programa de Asistencia médico (Social Security - básicamente un programa de seguro médico para la gente jubilada y minusválida) es mucho más eficiente que programas de seguros de empresas privados. ¿Pero lo apoyan los políticos americanos? No, ellos parecen tratar de desmontarlo para dejar a corporaciones asumir el trabajo. Si estos políticos tienen éxito, el resultado obviamente será que la asistencia médica costará mucho más cara para jubilados - y así habrá menos asistencia médica para muchos de ellos.

A veces me pregunto si nuestras ideologías que son sostenidas emocionalmente no estorban de planificación equilibrada basada en el análisis de datos.

Tal vez, pero pienso que una razón más importante para nuestro lío corriente es que los esfuerzos electoral de nuestros políticos en gran parte son financiados por donaciones de intereses de negocio. Y cuando estos políticos no funcionan en el gobierno, vuelven para trabajar para estas mismas corporaciones. Claro que no causa sorpresa si los políticos votan para apoyar esos intereses, ¿no?

Entonces, para justificar sus acciones, estos políticos enmarcan los temas en un modo que resuenan emocionalmente con la mayoría. ¿Soy cínico? En un modo, sí, pero soy realmente un soñador. Espero un mejor mundo.

Este interés personal puede ser listo en el corto plazo, pero si yo controle una corporación, yo querría a empleados bien cultos y sanos. Y yo querría una nación de la gente que ganen un salario decente para que ellos podrían comprar mis productos y servicios. ¿No dictaría el interés personal a largo plazo la necesidad de programas sociales fuertes como un salario mínimo que sostiene la vida, la asistencia médica universal, la guardería para los niños quienes padres trabajan, programas de ingreso para pensiones seguros y razonablemente financiados, y el apoyo fuerte a la educación?

Carlos tiene razón, el diferencial entre los más ricos y los más pobres parece crecer rápidamente en América. Pienso es completamente un asunto de que la gente haciendo decisiones políticas y de negocio sólo según su propios intereses. El resultado final de esto no puede estar bien.

En América tenemos una derecha política muy fuerte, un centro muy numeroso pero débil, y casi nada de una izquierda. Sí, hay partidos políticos a la izquierda, pero, como Carlos sugirió, los socialistas y los comunistas son vistos como extremistas y chiflados. Nuestros comunistas y socialistas actúan y suenan como si ellos todavía luchen por la revolución rusa, pegada en una deformación del tiempo extraña.

No es políticamente posible para políticos americanos hablar como la izquierda habla en España - o no si quieren ser elegidos. En las elecciones recientes algunos Republicanos han tenido mucho éxito en llamando a Demócratas "liberal" y preguntando su patriotismo. Estos "liberales" no han sido radicales, solamente ligeramente más progresivos socialmente.

Lo que nosotros Americanos no reconocen es el grado de extremismo que alcanzan nuestros políticos y partidos de la derecha.

La derecha se ha hecho estrechamente aliado con el cristianismo conservador evangélico. Obviamente, muchos Americanos son cómodos con los valores conservadores religiosos de que las políticas derechas platican.

Pero la derecha no es solamente los evangélicos. La derecha también incluye la muchedumbre antigubernamental (antiimpuestos, antiregulación, etc.). A menudo me parece como si el lado antigubernamental gane más de su orden del día que el lado evangélico y que los antigubernamentales usa a los evangélicos simplemente para ganar una mayoría.

Bueno, ya escribo más que quería. Estoy seguro que otras querrá discrepar conmigo, ¡como debería ser!


Last edited by Art on Wed Feb 08, 2006 3:53 am; edited 1 time in total
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Suronda
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Location: Upstate New York

PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2004 8:30 am    Post subject: Social Policy vs. Violence - Bowling for Columbine Reply with quote

Hello All,

After seeing "Bowling for Columbine," I left the theater a bit confused about Michael Moore's answer to why Columbine happened. (I'd need to see it again to make sure that was the main question, but I think it was.) I've though about the film in the context of contemporary socio-economic circumstances in the U.S. and wars that seem to be popping up everywhere (on our streets, in Sudan, in Iraq, etc.)

After all this, I think Terechu's question and Carlos’s question hit at the heart of Michael Moore's thesis. They’re both right. Social systems and violence are intimately related and the discussion of one cannot be separated from discussions of the other.

I've come to believe over the years, and over this past one in particular, that my everyday interactions are simply a microcosm of the global situation. If I'm unable to have a civil conversation with my neighbor about his loud music and come to some peaceful resolution, how can I expect there to be peace on a grander scale. If there is no public concern in the U.S. to bring universal health care of some sort, then why would there be widespread public be concerned about the ravages of war/violence? I think, in fact, Moore would say that such individualistic thinking breeds violence.

I guess the point is that "peace begins at home" and "peace is more than the absence of war/violence." It's hard work and requires a great deal of activism to bring about peace. Moore's commentary on social conditions in the United States points to the discrepancy between the attention we devote to the human condition (health care, a living wage, descent housing, etc.) and the rhetoric of democracy. Although the U.S. has developed programs like social security and a minimum wage, there are still areas that need to be improved. I guess Moore would equate the lack of "social rights" or "entitlements” to social and economic violence that often explodes into physical violence.

Moore's movies are quite controversial in the U.S., and I think that people either love him or hate him. I try to take the middle ground and appreciate the important questions he raises. I don't always accept his answers, and I'm not always sure he's really clear about the answers as much as he is raising questions. I would probably use his film in a classroom, since it allows for great discussion, and also for students to formulate their own responses and interpretations.

Whether you agree with him or not, Moore is doing a great job of raising political discussion in the United States. The local theaters showing his latest releaset Farenheit 9/11 are sold out for today and tomorrow. It's incredible for me to think that a political documentary is sold out at the same time Harry Potter is playing. Perhaps Moore will start a trend. One can only hope.
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Art
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Joined: 17 Feb 2003
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2004 3:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, nice post, Suronda. I stand corrected: I can see how violence and social systems are linked.

My wife and I were talking about this theme and she said something like, "Isn't it simply that the US is more capitalistic and Europe more socalistic?" That could be.

In our heavily capitalist system, the individual has more self-responsibility and opportunity. In your more socialist system, the individual has more protections (from him or herself, as well as from the system) in exchange for higher taxes and more regulations.

I want to revise what I said before. In either system, self-interest is at work. That's a human condition: we all act selfishly.

My point, though, is that if we take a long-range view of consequences, we might realize that providing a "safety net" for those who don't do well in the economy protects all of us. And that protection is in our self-interest.

As soon as I thought this, it dawned on me that the fear Carlos talked about might be a result of the lack of protection for the unsuccessful. After all, anger over the disparity between rich and poor, or anger over not having enough to eat can certainly contribute to violence.

Our current minimum wage in the US is $5.15/hour. I wouldn't think of it as a "program" (as Suronda said). It's more like slave wages. If someone were to work full-time, 40 hours/week, they'd earn just $10,712 per year, which is well below the poverty line for a family of three. This is not a living wage. And many minimum wage jobs do not come with benefits: no health insurance, no retirement plan, sometimes not even vacation days.

You sure can't blame someone feeling angry about working hard for just $5.15/hour. It's abusive and insulting.

In the US, most families probably need to have two or more people working to support them. Part of this is because our idea of what is required for a comfortable life has expanded over the decades, but I suspect that life is also much more expensive now, housing and health insurance have risen sharply in the past few decades.

-------------------

Oh, que poste tan enjundioso, Suronda. Me reconozco me error: Puedo ver como la violencia y sistemas sociales son unidos.

Mi esposa y yo hablábamos de este tema y ella dijo algo como: "¿No es simplemente que en los EU somos más capitalistas y en Europa más socalistas?" Podría ser.

En nuestro sistema fuertemente capitalista, el individuo tiene más autoresponsabilidad y más oportunidad. En su más sistema socialista, el individuo tiene más protecciones (de él mismo o ella misma, así como del sistema) a cambio de impuestos más altos y más regulaciones.

Quiero revisar lo que dije antes. En el uno o el otro sistema, interés personal (propio) functiona. Esto es una condición humana: actuamos egoístamente.

Mi punto, sin embargo, es que si tomamos una vista de consecuencias de largo alcance, podríamos comprender que el suministro de una "red de seguridad" (safety net) para los que no hacen bien en la economía protege todos nosotros. Y aquella protección está en nuestro interés propio.

En cuanto pensé esto, fui cayendo en cuenta de que el miedo de que Carlos habló podría ser un resultado de la carencia de protección para el fracasado. Después de todo, enojarse sobre la disparidad entre rico y pobre, o sobre no tener bastante para comer, seguramente puede contribuir a la violencia.

Ahora mismo, nuestro salario mínimo en los EEUU es 5.15 $/hora. Yo no pensaría en ello como "un programa" (como dice Suronda). Es más bien un salario de un esclavo. Si alguien trabaje a tiempo completo, 40 horas cada semana, ganarían solamente $10,712 por año, que es bajo del nivel de pobreza para una familia de tres. Esto no es un salario que sostiene la vida. Y muchos empleos de salario mínimo no vienen con beneficios y prestaciones: ningún seguro médico, ningún plan de retiro, y a veces ni siquiera días libres.

Seguramente, no se puede culpar a alguien sintiendo enfadado por trabajar mucho y ganar solamente $5.15/hora. Es abusivo e insultante.

En EU, la mayor parte de familias probablemente tienen que tener dos o más personas que trabajan para apoyarlos. En parte, es porque nuestra idea de que se precisa para una vida cómoda se han ampliado durante las décadas, pero sospecho que la vida es también mucho más cara ahora, almacenando y el seguro médico se han elevado bruscamente en las pocas décadas pasadas.
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Berodia



Joined: 14 Mar 2004
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Location: Cabrales

PostPosted: Sun Jul 04, 2004 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hay una diferencia clara entre Europa y USA.
En Europa tuvimos dos guerras mundiales, en nuestro suelo, en el siglo pasado, y otras tantas más "localizadas". Los paises más avanzados se vieron obligados a conceder beneficios sociales a sus poblaciones por dos razones :
1. como compensación al sacrificio de sangre hecho por esta población.
2. la proximidad de la union sovietica. Esta claro que una clase empobrecida podía devantarse en armas y querer instaurar un sistema comunista. Los gobiernos, para evitar esa eventualidad, se vieron obligados a conceder amplios servicios sociales a la población.
Desde la caida de la URSS y del sistema comunista, muchas voces neoliberales piden una disminución de la cobertura social, evidentemente para ellos pagar menos impuestos, y su privatización, igual de evidente, para hacerse más ricos. Los politicos de derechas neoliberales y ultraconservadores tienen una visión a muy corto plazo, y piensan nada más en los beneficios economicos de la minoría rica. No les interesa el pensar que un empobrecimiento de la población, asi como su desprotección social, puede llevar a rebeliones sociales. Ellos siempre estaran tranquilos detras de sus "bunkers" y su policia privada. Parece que creen que se puede estimular el consumo, pilar de nuestro sistema capitalista neoliberal, y pagar menos sueldos a los consumidores.
Me parece que el problema de violencia interna que tiene USA puede ser causa de la injusticia social. Pero al paso que llevamos en Europa, con Aznares, Berlusconis, etc... más los politicos de Europa Oriental, poco tardara que en Europa lleguemos a esos niveles de violencia.
No se quien fue que dijo que mientras que al lado de un rico, esté un pobre muriendose de hambre, no habrá paz.

--------------
translated by Art

There is a clear difference between Europe and the USA.

In Europe we had two world wars, on our soil, and many more "localized" wars. The more advanced countries saw themselves obligated to grant social benefits to their populations for two reasons:
1. as compensation for the sacrifice of blood made by this population.
2. the proximity of the Soviet Union. It's clear that an empoverished class could have risen up[?] in arms and wished to install a Communist system. The governments, to prevent this possibility, saw themselves obligated to award comprehensive social services to the people.

Since the fall of the USSR and the Communist system, many neoliberal voices call for the reduction of social protections, obviously so they could pay lower taxes, and [they call] for the privatization [of these programs]--equally obviously--in order to make themselves richer. The right-wing, neoliberal, and conservative politicians have a very short-sighted perspective, and they think of nothing besides that which will economically benefit the rich minority. They aren't interested in thinking about how the empoverishment of the population, along with [the reductions in] their social protections, can give rise to social rebellions. They will always be at peace behind their bunkers and their private police. It seems as though they believe that one can stimulate consumption, the pillar of our neoliberal capitalist system, and pay lower wages to the consumers.

It seems to me that the problem of internal violence which the USA has can be caused by the social injustice. But the path that we're taking in Europe, with the Azanars, Berluconis, etc., plus the politicians in Eastern Europe, it won't be long before Europe rises to those levels of violence.

I don't know who said this:
As long as at the side of a rich person there is a poor person dying of hunger, there will be no peace.
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Art
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Joined: 17 Feb 2003
Posts: 4476
Location: Maryland

PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2004 1:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I noticed in a newsletter I receive that the Minimum Salary in Spain has been raised. My calculations show that this is lower than the US minimum wage, which I believe to be $5.15/hour.

Am I misunderstanding this? It sounds like the US has plenty of company in keeping the poor in poverty.

translated by Art, source below wrote:
The Ministers' Council has approved in its meeting a Royal Decree-law for the rationalization of the regulation of the Minimal Interprofessional Salary and for the increase of its amount.

From July 1 the new minimal salary will be fixed at 16,36 Euros a day, 490,80 a month and 6.871,20 a year.

This raise, which means an increase of 6.6% on the previous salary, will benefit approximately 600.000 persons, a number which includes those workers who receive the SMI (minimum wage) and those who collect benefits from the protection system for unemployment.

Casual and temporary workers, whose services to the same company do not exceed 120 days, will not earn less than 23,24 Euros for day. For the household workers, the minimal salary will be 3,83 Euros per hour worked.

....

source: INFORMACIÓN AL EMIGRANTE, Boletín independiente de información al emigrante asturiano; Año IV - Edición 08 - 10 de julio de 2004, Edita: Francisco Javier F. López


------------


Noté en un boletín de noticias que recibo que el Sueldo Mínimo en España ha sido aumentado. Mis cálculos muestran que esto es inferior que el salario de mínimo de los EU, que creo es $5.15 por hora.

¿Lo entiendo mal? Me parece que EEUU anda con mucha compañía en mantener los pobres en la pobreza.

original, fuente abajo wrote:
El Consejo de Ministros ha aprobado en su reunión un Real Decreo-Ley para la racionalización de la regulación del Salario Mínimo Interprofesional y para el incremento de su cuantía.

A partir del 1 de julio el nuevo salario mínimo queda fijado en 16,36 euros al día, 490,80 al mes y 6.871,20 al año.

Esta subida, que supone un incremento del 6,6% sobre el salario anterior, beneficiará a unas 600.000 personas, cifra en la que se incluyen los trabajadores que perciben el SMI y los perceptores de prestaciones del sistema de protección por desempleo.

Para los trabajadores eventuales y temporeros cuyos servicios a una misma empresa no excedan de 120 días, no podrá resultar inferior a 23,24 euros por jornada. Para los empleados de hogar el salario mínimo será de 3,83 euros por hora trabajada.

....

fuente: INFORMACIÓN AL EMIGRANTE, Boletín independiente de información al emigrante asturiano; Año IV - Edición 08 - 10 de julio de 2004, Edita: Francisco Javier F. López
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El Tampeno



Joined: 02 Dec 2003
Posts: 56
Location: Tampa

PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 12:59 am    Post subject: Bowling for Columbine: A Fearful People Reply with quote

Carlos,

As an American, I found the movie very relevant to life in my country.
Basically, Michael Moore got it right....it's about much more than guns. (I am for strict gun control, especially assault type weapons. I have no problem with sporting/hunting rifles and shot-guns, as long as back-ground checks and waiting periods are strictly enforced). However, it is not guns, per se, that kill people.....guns only make it easier and faster.
People kill people, especially people that are scared.

I think Michael Moore makes the point that Americans are a people living in constant fear. Personally, I think our current government has not only capitalized on this, but has purposely encouraged this atmosphere....scared people are more easily controlled and influenced.

Why we live in fear is a topic for much discussion and debate...not to be too esoteric but many Americans are living lives of isolation and alienation............a futile attempt to find personal fulfillment through material gains. I am very grateful for the family atmosphere my abuelos were able to create and pass on to their children and grandchildren, but sometimes I feel out of step with many of my countrymen, even though I am 2nd generation native-born. As time passes and most of the Asturiano immigrants and their children die, I realize that I did not grow up in a "typical" American social structure, to the extent that there is one.

I tend to believe that America was never really a melting pot, but rather a mosaic of various cultures. Fear might be a product of not having a sense of ones's true identity. I've always had a strong sense of identity, and I'm beginning to realize that in many ways I'm more Spanish than American.
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Tony Carreno/Tampa Florida
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cesargijon



Joined: 02 Dec 2009
Posts: 1
Location: Gijon

PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello, I am new to this forum and live in Gijon.

about Bowling for Columbine, I cannot understand why so many people here think that everything that this guy tells, Michael Moore, a socialist, is true.

it is just his opinion, and of course that many of the stories are true, but were manipulated. Some are simply false.

For instance, when he describes how a bank will give you a gun if you open a bank account....he tells the story like if you just open the bank account and you take the rifle home..in fact you had to go through a background check and only after two or three weeks were allowed to take the rifle home.

but one of the biggest lies is about the NRA, that he describes as a "racist organization"....:

The NRA was founded in 1871, inspired by the BRITISH NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION founded in 1867, and whose goals were just to promote shooting sports. It was a tradition that the president of the USA were a member of the NRA ever since, like, for instance, Ulysses Grant.

So the NRA had nothing to do with racism, politics or whatever, but its main goal was just to promote shooting sports. It didnt get involved in politics, just to defend gunownership, until 1968 with the gun control act.
In fact, it the organization who rules Olympic and not Olympic target shooting in america, like the SPANISH FEDERATION SHOOTING.

Anyone , white, hispanic, black, man or woman, can be a member and it wont be long until we see a member of minority race in as president or vicepresident.

Ignorance about this is common in EUROPE, by the way, where topics, normally encouraged by media manipulators like Michael Moore, prevail about AMERICA.

It is true that they need some way of GUN Control in AMERICA, but it is also true that they have a tradition of gun ownership because they´ve a democratic country since 1776, in part, thanks to gunownership.

It is also interesting that all dictator control, and sometimes ban gun ownership...Mussolinni, Franco, HITLER, Pinochet....gun ownership has to do with freedom, it is a matter of fact.

Dont let Michael Moore to think for you.

Best wishes.
_________________
hello, this is CESAR, from Gijon.
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