Archive Page 2

14
Mar
10

Universal Healthcare: Don’t Screw Yourself America!

The founding fathers created the United States government as a representative democracy because they believed that the general public was not educated enough to make informed political decisions. Judging from the outcome of the special senatorial election in Massachusetts, I am convinced they were wholly right. However, they were wrong if they assumed that the educated representatives would solve that problem.

This specific election is the most prime example I can think of in which the art of marketing has aptly exhibited the power of corporate America over the opinions of American citizens who don’t make the effort furnish their own opinions. Though I cannot claim to understand the formulation of every American voter’s opinion, I am making the case that most people are, for the most part, disengaged from the critical thinking process when it comes to politics. I’m formulating this view from my own personal standpoint based on my experiences and knowledge of studies done on the matter.

The most glaring of recent example of mass media opinion replication is, indeed, the special senate election between Brown, Coakely, and some other poor bastard. Due to the general understanding that the fate of the pending national healthcare bill hung in the balance, the race became more of a question of whether the American people were for or against such legislation. The answer to that questions should have been a resounding, “YES! Give us a nationalized healthcare option!” To my understanding, through an economic perspective, this truly would have been a victory for the common American man. With such a passing of the bill, it may have saved America more than the government would spend to install it such a system.

Firstly, overall health insurance premiums would fall as demand for private health insurance fell, saving money.

Secondly, national health care would save money by reducing the number of emergency room visits each year by uninsured people, who accounted for nearly 24 million of the nations 120 million such visits in 2006 alone. If even $4 worth of service was given to each of those persons, that would account for nearly a billion dollars in expenses that the hospital itself would have absorb. With the preventative care provided by a nationalized plan, its plausible that a great deal of those visits could have been prevented with regular visits to the doctor.

Thirdly, thousands of jobs created. Money spent by the government directly entering the pockets of everyday Americans working to maintain the health care system.

Lastly, the money expended by the tax payer would be relatively low for the service being produced. While the middle and lower economic classes would have a more moderate portion of the costs to share, big business and wealthy individuals would have a higher tax percentage, creating a more-fair distribution of the nation’s wealth from the top, down. I use the word fair because, according to the US Census Bureau, the nation’s average middle class income has hardly risen since 1982 (around $8,000) while the upper class incomes continue to rise exponentially higher and faster, even with inflation included in the calculation. This makes sense, as skilled and educated workers come “a dime by the dozen” nowadays and demand for such qualified labor has decreased. The health care would be a good way of evening this economic divide. Overall, universal health care makes sense from a partially theoretical point of view.

It is with these considerations that I judge the voting public to be composed of mostly passive minds regurgitating the opinions of the media or a few individuals. How else could the majority of people take a shotgun and blow their own foot off in such a manner by voting against their OWN interests and, rather, FOR the interests of corporate America, a.k.a not the little guy? I have a scathing suspicion it has to do with the plasticity of the average man’s intellect. The average man tends not to give a shit about formulating his own opinion. Instead, the average man is content with having outside forces do his thinking for him. He has a very general view of the world, consisting of his values, insecurities, and shallow understandings, and looks for information sources that fit this general mold. No critical analysis or deep thinking goes beyond this stage. He has his adopted opinions and his flimsy, unsubstantiated arguments. He won’t change his mind.

A relatively recent statistical study may exemplify the lack of plasticity in the minds of politically-minded people. In 2004, the Pew Research Center published a report (http://people-press.org/report/215/news-audiences-increasingly-politicized) based on a survey of 3,000 voting individuals nationwide in regards to their political affiliation and their news sources. Please reference the link to see that the majority of viewers of biased news sources consist of like-minded individuals whose ideas and desirable outcomes are being reinforced by the biased sources they seek out. There seems to be no desire to digest ideas contrary to their own beliefs, only for affirmation. There doesn’t seem to be a serious application of logic. People are fine with their stagnant selves.

The good majority of the people I have encountered who can furnish a political opinion, regardless of political preference and/or affiliation, have furnished them without proper grounds, lacking both logic and evidence to ultimately justify those opinions. In such cases, one may pull out the trump card: “Well, this is my opinion”. Yes, this is true. It is just your opinion … an unintelligent, unsubstantiated opinion. This disengaged mentality is quite common. Aside from the perception that most people tend to abort the thinking process rather than analyze and digest incoming information, it seems that most people can’t detect opinionated, biased news sources while, at the same time, not caring to detect such a thing, just as long as the news coincides with and reinforces their own already held beliefs.

In the end, I believe that national healthcare could work if implemented correctly as a public option and not a mandate. It seems that it would put more money back in the hands of American people while taking away the already grotesque influence corporations have over our government.

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22
Jan
10

Struggles in Haiti, Struggles Toward Truth

It has often been my observance that it is amidst the back drop of strife that truth becomes more readily divined. Though what has happened in Haiti is really a horrible thing and regrettable (to put it very mildly), it has provided an opportunity to look at the nature of the world’s response.

My heart swells with my pride in humanity as I have seen the world congregation unite to help it worldly sibling, Haiti. Whether motivated by empathy or political endeavors, the world is manning up to a higher responsibility, possibly showing signs that the supposed 2012 events may turn out to be positive cultural revolutions. The United States has rightfully taken this opportunity to help their neighbor. Not only does this sew the seeds of friendship in the Western Hemisphere, but it also may help to repair the US’s damaged image on the world stage in obvious ways.

However, strategy aside, this is ultimately a moral issue. These people should be helped by those who are able to help because it is the good thing to do. Such a culture of benevolence should be promoted because, next to being the right thing to do, it promotes a culture of brotherhood which is a further step towards a more peaceful, enjoyable environment.

I’ve heard many people voice their disapproval of the role these countries are taking in helping Haiti. Such reasons include:

“We have plenty of people who need help right here!”

“There are plenty of other countries with people who need help! Why them?”

“It’s not our duty to help every needy country! Why should we help them?”

My first response would be, “Because it’s the right friggin’ thing to do! Take a look on your idiot box and tell me you’d deny assistance to the distraught child in the Port Au Prince who was just orphaned by the earthquake. It’s our duty as humans of luxury to help those without the luxury to think of things beyond survival. Logical reasoning or not, it is this sort of behavior that separates humans from the beasts. This, our humanity, is rooted in our aim to strive for a higher, more honorable existence.

Now, why should countries help Haiti while their own people have troubles? If one must explain, then I fear the receiver is already too dense to receive. However … it is because of the degree and imminancy of the situation. Even those who are in tough situations in the US cannot compare to that in Haiti at this point. To illustrate, if a man in Haiti was starving, he could not even resign himself to steal at this point because of the state of the situation. Besides, this helping hand does not take away from the constant daily efforts made by many to help our local needy.

Finally, in defense of the classic welfare question, “Why can’t these damn third world countries just get off their ass and help themselves?” Well, to whatever moron would pose that, try switching skin pigment, inherent capital, social history, and natural resources and walk a mile in those shoes before you answer that question. Or just go take some college classes because this passage is too small for the extent of such understanding needed to endow empathy.

Vive l’Haiti.

19
Jan
10

A Badass Educational Institution

It is sometimes my personal wish that I could implement a nationwide program to socialize all citizens of a certain age for a small duration of time. As is often the seed of tyrannical rule, my desire with such a goal would be to imbue the US population with an education that the schooling system does not provide. While current mandatory schooling aims to teach people how to think effectively, my fantasy institution would seek to give them other tools which the other doesn’t stress. Such imparted tools would fall in the realm of mind, body, and soul.

The inspiration for such a school has come from my general impression that people are lacking in a great deal of knowledge, understanding, and power to operate closer to their potential. In other words, I feel most people are severely under-equipped to handle their way society.

For illustrative purposes, imagine a country full of nothing but citizens possessed with an unquenchable desire to become the best people they can be, ready to take advantage of all opportunities that come their way and the knowledge to do so. Overall economic output and efficiency would rise. Government costs on welfare for the homeless, poor and sick would decrease as people would be making wiser financial and health decisions. However, stress may rise as well as amorality in dealings with others for the sake of personal gain. This may be counteracted if people in general were more ready to deal with stress and more empathetic towards their fellow man. Such an understanding could be approached in my fantasy school!

In one year, I feel I could endow American citizens with a common, mandatory and practical education.

Classes would consist of a variety of sorely overlooked topics such as finance, horticulture, martial arts, spiritual well being, field medicine, and automotive repair. These classes are important, as many people are, for instance, unaware of how to financially navigate themselves through life or how to take basic care of an automobile. While not in class, there would be no television or access to mindless websites, simply literature and constructive endeavors, such as music and physical activities. During meal times, people would be educated on the importance of eating healthily. Responsibilities would be shared by all so as to maintain a sense of common worth and empathy.

At the end, these people will have change from flabby maggots of mind and body into exemplary human beings with the confidence and energy to actually go out and make something of themselves and their environment besides sitting on the frigg’n couch all day.

There would be no way to opt out, no private institutions existent in order to avoid this. It will never be tried though, unfortunately. However, at its most hopeful, it could have the potential to create a more capable, healthy, and productive population more capable of identifying with each other because of such an intense share experience.

21
Dec
09

Iran and It’s Nukes

 

Yeah, OK!

Iran wants nuclear weapons for the same root reason that the U.S. did back in the 40’s: leverage. While its initial intent was to cause such devastation that an enemy would piss its pants and surrender, it’s now more of a coming-of-age symbol for a country. For, without a nuclear offense, a country lacks a major deterrent to the military offense and nuclear capabilities of other countries. Their security is more assured once they too are able to provide the guarantee of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD!) to anyone that would think to turn their warheads towards them. In all actuality, a nation without nuclear weapons in this modern day is significantly lacking a major deterrent to outward aggression.

So, how come the United States wants to prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons? The U.S. has not opposed or actively resisted the proliferation by many other nations such as Israel or India, while the U.S. itself has amassed a great deal of nuclear weaponry. So, as in the case with North Korea, it is reasonable to say that the opposition must be specific to this country and is very likely due to a U.S. assessment of the character of Iran’s leadership.

Though it is unlikely that Iran will ever use that nuke, the leverage such a weapon carries is leverage a self-centered and corrupt government like that of Iran’s should not have because of the international trouble it could cause. I liken this situation to a group of guys in a social group who have a few guns amongst them. However, nobody wants the crazy guy in the group to have a gun because they don’t want to be on edge all the time worrying whether this guy’s gonna lose it and pull the plug on someone.

One might argue that the U.S. has no moral ground to stand upon. I argue that such a judgment is difficult to make until you have done research and considered the full extent of its actions throughout history thus far. After such research, one will find its legacy has done far more good than bad. If still not convinced, compare the U.S. to previous world powers in history and the records of other current-day world powers. Nobody matches their benevolence, though, be sure, they are with many flaws and have quite a ways to go.

However, it is starting to look as if Iran will have full nuclear capabilities soon in light of their recent test-firing earlier this December. At this point the U.S. needs to decide how to handle Iran. It could choose to remain on this path of reasserting its hatred of Iran, thus showing the world and Iran that it has a pair and won’t be taken for a fool. This will continue to support U.S.-hatred in Iran and the Middle East. Or, it can become more friendly with its crazy little brother, offering help by providing direct foreign investment by removing trade barriers. It should strive to be a close friend of one of its enemies. Hopefully, with such an approach, the next generation of Iranians to take over will have grown up with this benevolent image of the U.S. and will respond in kind.

In conclusion: Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. But, what happens when nobody opens stands up for their morals and values?

16
Nov
09

Stupid Political Talk Show Hosts Teach A Wise Lesson

Wisdom trumps knowledge!

Once again, my car ride has provided a juicy thought to chew on …

I’ve been fortunate enough to listen to political commentary on the radio during my recent commutes to and from my current place of employment. Their banter is geared towards goals similar to those of many bloggers (and news, for that matter) of current day: content that is controversial, determinedly biased, and sensational. This has been obvious since my earliest days of listening to such foul crap. For an aspiring member of the intelligentsia such as myself, it has served as nothing more than fodder, representative of my common enemy, ignorance, for my mental digestion. But it wasn’t until recently that I was able to derive real wisdom from a show.

It was 96.9 FM talk, with an overly opinionated host who was spitting judgments late at night in regards to the horrible shooting that occurred at the Fort Hood military base. He was quick to suck the cocks of his ignorant listeners by reaffirming their own opinions time and time again. One such opinion included his belief that Islam should be a red flag for danger due to its apparent prevalence in terrorism and that sensitivity training in the army is unnecessary because hurt feelings shouldn’t be the army’s concern. Three obvious logical points on this matter:

1. Terrorism is an ambiguous term that has grown in scope, capable of including quite a few people guilty of a violent or terrorist act. See this Princeton definition of terrorism: (http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=terrorism). Once recognized, this definition includes many people of non-Islamic faiths.

2. Islam should be a red flag, but not because of Islam itself but because of a commonality it shares with most terrorist acts:  the hurt feelings of society’s marginalized. I mean, really, aren’t the sources of most violent acts due to somebody being sensitive and getting their feelings stepped on? Those who aren’t accepted into ‘the group’ can often have built-up frustrations and pain, leading them to abandon loyalty to the majority of their society. They may seek a cause to give them pride or meaning.

3. To denounce sensitivity as a necessary component of the U.S. Army is to be a hypocrite by spitting in the face of respect. General respect is something that every soldier should practice as the Army is an instrument of peace and respect is at its roots. It doesn’t take an exorbitant amount of energy to simply be respectful to comrades and colleagues.

And the overall lesson that has been so graciously forced through the disgustingly degenerate behavior of media personalities is that experience and knowledge count for little in terms of real solutions without polished LOGIC and REASON. I’m less than half the age of many opinionists (with less than a fraction of their experience and knowledge) and I’m still confident that I’ve better judgments than they. With this in mind, the best way to have a respectable opinion on such matters as politics, international affairs, or society, is to prime your reasoning and logic by THOROUGHLY digesting material which challenges one in such a manner.

28
Oct
09

An Ode to American Gods of Yore

As time goes on and families descend, it seems that the character of our ancestors is gradually diluted with every successive generation. It’s as if some great power is continually being weakened with each scattering of spawn that humanity produces. One need only look at our grandmothers and grandfathers to see the remnants of the powerful creatures that preceded us and their vanishing way of life.

Ignorance aside, our ancestors were greater than we. As the lifeblood of America, they possessed characteristics that made this country great and strong. Such traits included strong social skills, discipline, responsibility, honor, integrity and a hunger for success, things which are withdrawing from the forefront of society. But, of course, this is understandable …

The environment had been ripe for the propagation of such a divine people. The nature of the times and the goals of people drew the best out of them. And even if that best were misguided and negative, it was better than the likes of today’s society could produce. Tough economic, political, and social obstacles plagued our nation but we were guided through by heroic figures in government and on the streets. The world was much crueler then. Evil people were more potent because of a lack of government oversight and enforcement while the threat of destitution was much greater because of a lack of social supports. The world was a rough play-pen to be in.

But, as is generally understood, tough times produce tough people. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not any more or less deluded than the rest of my generation about the horrific prejudices and great violence that was present back then. There were most definitely bad, evil, terrible people who were much worse than any we could hope to produce today. However, heroes of equal proportion were produced, in both the movies and in real life, who were giants in terms of todays brand. Their idols were truly magnificent beings of integrity as pure as nature itself and an indomitable will. Today, the stars of the screen are weak and senseless, reflective of the direction of common era youth.

In the end, it is overall strength that is lacking as America shoulders on. What can one expect of people when there is no longer a need for the strong-willed gods of our past? It’s very cushy in today’s world and we have enough time to linger and stare at our hands and feet. But, perhaps, this is best for the world. With a population that’s degenerating and becoming duller, perhaps we’ll finally find ourselves in a state of world peace because of a lack of strength and effort to do much of anything.

15
Oct
09

Let’s Think About Voting


            A year ago last October, before the presidential election, I was among the many victims of crusaders trying to capture unregistered voters and motivate the younger voting bracket. They’d set up booths around campus and prey on pedestrians who have the courtesy to give them their attention after being shouted at. Most of these pre-enlightened souls hadn’t even made the effort to understand the significance of voting aside from what they’ve been told and readily accepted.

 

            I stopped one day to chat with someone who asked me whether I was registered to vote. I responded with my own question, “Don’t you think you should be asking me whether I’m sufficiently knowledgeable to vote instead?” He showed me a stack of sheets with the basic positions and aims of each candidate as well as a short biography. An informative flyer. Awesome.

 

This was a good step in the right direction. At least these crusaders understand the importance of being an informed voter. But, still, not enough, because most people don’t even understand how the candidates plan to accomplish their aims or even the integrity of their statements, which can judged by viewing their past accomplishments and stances. How can someone represent themselves and their desires appropriately through their vote if they don’t even understand what they’re voting for? How can they judge the candidate’s proposals without even an understanding of the issues at hand (i.e. economics, politics, history, etc.)?

 

I was lucky enough to have a constructive conversation with an intelligent acquaintance of mine on the value of voting. We found that the only way to have sufficiently informed voters would be to have a highly educated population. Highly improbable for many reasons.

 

So, we concluded that the vote, as a representation of the individual, should be treated as such. People should vote to the extent of their knowledge (or their ignorance, for that matter), because it best represents them. And if people were to relinquish this right, then they would be doing themselves and others like them an injustice for not adding weight to a common cause. If their uniformed vote ends up getting someone like George W. Bush elected, then, so be it. At least America is being represented. Besides, mistakes such as that may end up becoming the impetus people need to make more of an effort to become a more informed voter in years to come.