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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Statement of Values and Beliefs

Abortion:                    I have no stance on abortion and I will never take a stance on this matter.  It is too inflammatory and I believe that people make poor decisions on leadership based on this issue and many issues of faith in general:  Case in point:  Too many Americans were duped into believing that George Bush was a God-fearing individual even after he chose to commit troops to a war (Iraq) that was unjustified, immoral and harmful to both nations involved and ultimately, the world.  People’s faith-like belief in Bush has put America and the world in a downward spiral of conflict and economic turmoil.

Accountability:           Mistakes are made and lessons should be learned from those mistakes, but the first step to learner from one’s mistakes is admitting that the mistake was made in the first place.  Those who are unwilling to be held accountable for their decisions, have no place in a leadership capacity.  I believe that, whether the war in Iraq was caused by faulty intelligence or not, the fact remains that it was a mistake that has cost over a trillion dollars, the stability of the U.S. economy (and the world’s economy to a certain extent) and worse still, thousands of lives, both American and Iraqi, yet no one seems to be responsible for this war:  Someone started it, but no one has apologized for it to date, except maybe Colin Powell (who has stated that he was against it from the outset).  Without delving too deeply into my own beliefs about the war, I will simply state that, at the very least, an apology is owed to all of those service men and women who lost their limbs, their sight, their sanity, their sense of security, and their lives in this struggle to force democracy on a country that might have taken their own steps towards freedom, had they been given the opportunity.  It is to these individuals and their families that the greatest debt is owed and the most heart-felt apology is warranted.

I, personally, was appalled when George W. Bush came out to proclaim that the lowest point of his presidency was when a rapper (Kanye West) said that he (Bush) didn’t like black people.  If our “God Fearing” leaders cannot even concede to the fact that sending young men and women into harms way for no justifiable reason, then what hope do we have as a nation?  Lies and denial have taken too great of a toll on our society.  It is time to hold some feet to the fire and avoid the complacency that has become far too prevalent in this country and to promote common sense.

I believe that people can tell when something being said is not right.  We can’t always tell what it is that is wrong about what is being said, but common sense tells us that something is definitely out or place.  Things like the idea that taking money from the poor, elderly, middleclass, teachers, students, fire fighters, policemen, and nurses to give to wealthy individuals and mega corporations (in the form of tax cuts) in hopes that they will in turn give back to the former (in the form of labor) just doesn’t sound right.  This is especially the case when it is that group of poor, elderly, middleclass who won’t be able to buy those goods provided by companies, because of the lack of money.  Perhaps a better plan would be to give the money to the poor, middleclass and elderly who have to buy the products sold by companies to survive.  This, in turn would create a greater demand for products, which leads to the need to hire more people to make the products, or grow the food that they can now afford because they are working.

I know that I might have gone off topic in that last paragraph, but this shows the interrelatedness that exists between all facets of our society.  Accountability leads to correcting for past mistakes.  Correcting past mistakes leads to a change in ideology that currently supposes that the rich should get all of the money to dowel out as they see fit.  A reversal of this train of thought leads to this country helping out those individuals most in need of help, which leads to lifting up the nation from the bottom up.  With greater demand for products, companies hire more and have more to put into education.  Education leads to innovation, which helps fix the problems of the world.

We’ve tried it the other way:  Most of the means in the hands of the few and it seems that every time this route is taken, the world gets thrown into despair.  Maybe it’s time to try something new.

Education:                  Simply put, education is key to the economy.  A less educated population is one in which advancement stagnates.  Civilization has moved forward, due to innovation and innovation has come about, due in large part to education.  Instead of rediscovering the wheel, subsequent generations have been told of the wheels existence and been given the opportunity to not only improve upon its design, but to put a chassis on top of it so the masses could move around more easily.  There are of course those who needed no fore knowledge of ideas, equations and theories.  They’re called geniuses and even their existence mandates that the pursuit of education continue.  The rationale for this viewpoint is as follows:  A genius has a great idea on how to desalinate sea water, but is uncertain of the costs and the logistics of implementing such a system.  It is at this point that the expertise of people with knowledge of what is truly required to bring a product to market comes into play:  It is this peripheral group of accountants, logistic professionals and technicians who know how to assemble equipment to bring the dream of desalinization to fruition.  Besides all of this ancillary work, there is the simple matter of the genius being able to communicate their ideas to the rest of us.  Perhaps the genius’ assistant is not as smart as the genius, but he or she knows how to convey the genius’ thoughts in a manner that is easily understood by the accountants and fabricators of the project.  Perhaps without this educated mediator, the project would not have gone past the genius’ imagination, and the world’s drinking water dilemma continues to plague mankind.

As another example of the usefulness of an educated population, let’s consider the bind in which most states find themselves financially, these days.  In a country, where jobs are scarce, those states that can attract the most businesses will succeed, but those successes must be judged not only on the quantity of jobs, but also on the quality of jobs created due to legislative policies.  If the state deems hacking funding for education as a means to allow for tax cuts for corporations, than they must only be aspiring to attract companies that only have needs for workers.  With an uneducated population, companies need only supply the managerial staff to oversee those who would spend their days performing menial tasks that require little, if any, thought.  This is not to say that these types of jobs aren’t necessary, quite the contrary, they are of utmost importance to our economy, but they represent a limit on the diversity of companies willing to move into states that only offer people with limited education.  Inversely, those states that support education and offer citizens with higher degrees of learning represent the possibility of innovation.  Companies that hope to grow through innovation and competitiveness will flock to those states that offer a greater percentage of individuals with the base knowledge, acquired in colleges and universities that could lead to the “Next Big Idea”.  In the state that promotes education, the range of prospective companies is greater than in those that only offer one type of workforce.

U.S. Economy:            Stop giving money to banks, and corporations, they know nothing of putting it back into circulation.  To save the economy a wiser choice would be to create consumers, so the companies will have someone to sell their products and services to, instead of giving bigger bonuses to executives who seem to have to real sense of what to do with these government handouts.  I am not saying that consumers will know what to do with a government windfall such as the ones that big banks, automobile companies and other corporations knew, but they will do one thing that neither the banks, nor any of the corporations did:  Consumers will spend that money and part of this spending will be guaranteed, because it will be out of necessity.  Those with less to spend have to spend more, if only to survive than those with excess.  If only 1% of the economy has half the money, what would they spend that money on?  Well, everyone has to eat, including that 1%, but they’re not eating the same amount as the 150 million people who they are wealthier than.  Simply put, the 400 richest individuals will eat three meals a day . . . No let’s take it to an extreme.  The wealthiest 400 individuals eat ten meals a day, which comes to a grand total of 4000 meals per day.  That’s 4000 proteins, 4000 carbs, 4000 fats per day.  Now, let’s compare that to the 150 million who have the same amount of money as those 400 wealthiest individuals and let’s even be reasonable on the portions as a way in which to honor the First Lady’s agenda for healthy living.  So 150 million people eating three meals a day (not ten) equals 1,500,000,000 meals.  That’s 450 million meals; 450 million proteins, 450 million carbs, and 450 million fats.  Now, maybe the rich are eating higher priced foods, like the cream of the crop of creamed corned, or carrots encrusted with karats, but it would still take a lot to narrow the gap between 4000 meals and 450,000,000, which amounts to 112,500 times as many meals consumed daily.  And that’s with the rich eating more than three times as much as the remaining half of this nation.  This concept applies to every single facet of life, because just like the middleclass and the poor, the rich are human beings and human beings all need food, water and shelter to survive.

So, the next time that the government has 700 billion dollars lying around, why not give every individual (including the wealthy) $2000 dollars and let’s see what happens.  We already know what happens when we give it to banks and corporations.

Global Economy:        Global corporations do not benefit any particular country in the long term.  The reason for my belief in this matter is that corporations, no matter where they originate do not serve their country of origin.  Perhaps to those who are short-sighted, this may seem untrue, but what country truly controls corporations such as General Electric, Siemens, Carnival Cruise Lines, and Halliburton?  All of these companies have countries of origin, and while they profit in the year 2011, their countries of origin flounder on the brink of financial ruin, which has lead to the ruination of the masses in those countries of with which these corporations are supposedly aligned. 

While bank executives post record bonuses in the United States, the people of this country go bankrupt.  While three wars are waged, the profits of these wars benefit no one except those corporations that sell these, high tech, high dollar weapons.

Is it so beneficial to the United States to have so many manufactured goods, built in other countries by “American” companies only to be shipped to the US to be sold for a profit:  A profit that does not garner any taxes from these same corporations?  And worse still is the fact that as these companies outsource their jobs to the lowest bidders, wages worldwide are affected:  If India builds computers for 10 cents on the dollar, India’s workers make what is possibly a better wage, but one that is less than the amount an American could survive on.  The problem arises when there simply are no jobs in America, because they have all gone to India.  In this instance, people who have been out of work for one or two years will fight for lower paying jobs, as we saw when McDonald’s announced that it would be hiring 50,000 people nationally.  Now, while this is great for McDonalds, it doe not help the recent college grad who is facing years of student loan repayment.  It send a signal that college is a waste of time and money, ‘because the only people hiring only require a high school diploma and they’re only paying minimum wage.

So, with the population of the United States desperate to get back to work and willing to take jobs that, not only pay less, but to take them without the promise of health benefits or paid vacation even the ability to pay basic necessities such as rent or mortgages, utility bills, or food.  And still, the mantra that these companies want the masses to repeat is “Be happy you’re working.”

In my opinion, at least in America, we should spend a little more on those items that can be bought locally.  Avoid the cheap imports when possible, because their long term cost is far greater than their overall value.  Let’s not allow the corporations play such a big part in our lives and let’s stop giving them all of our money, because totalitarianism does not sound like anything that we should be a party to, but it does sound like the direction in which this country is heading.  Instead of Hilter or Stalin, we are getting corporations, which write most of our legislature these days.

Environment:              When our elected officials will not recognize that we have a disaster, such as the one created in the Gulf of Mexico by BP, which demands more attention than it has received, then how are we ever to recognize Climate Change as inevitability?  One of the greatest arguments against Climate Change naysayer is the tragedy that has occurred in the Gulf of Mexico and the fact that yet another corporation (BP) is getting away with “murder”.  Perhaps murder is too strong of a word to describe the increased number of animal deaths that have occurred in the wake of the Deep Horizon catastrophe.  Maybe the livelihoods that have been irrevocably diminished or eliminated don’t have any grave implications for neither the families directly effected by these losses, nor the country that now has to bear the burden of supporting these families that people like, the Governor of Florida, Rick Scott would claim chose poverty.  To stay on topic however, let’s examine the world objectively.

For humanity, planet Earth is mostly a closed system.  What we have on this planet right now is, more than likely, what we had on this planet one hundred, two hundred, a thousand and maybe even 100 thousand years ago.  As, I heard, every drop of water we drink had at some point been filtered through some dinosaurs kidneys and every drop our descendants drink will have met the same fate as well as having been filtered through our kidneys.  Disgusting as this may sound it it true, because Earth does not get a fresh source of water, delivered by Evian from Pluto or any of the ice planets.  All of the water on Earth has been here for millennia and will be here for many more millennia.  The only thing that will change about the water of planet Earth is its quality, which simply put, means, that the more we pollute the less we’ll have to drink.  This whole closed system thing holds true for the air we breathe, so the more air we pollute, the less clean air we’ll have for things such as breathing.  Now, mankind is quite adaptable, but there is a limit to our adaptability.  Perhaps some day, our bodies will be able to utilize carbon dioxide as opposed to oxygen, but maybe that change will take 30 thousand years, while we are changing the atmosphere to match this adaptation in 10 thousand years.  We better be able to hold our breath for a long, long time to clear that gap.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Planning for the Future Pt. 1

As America heads down its current path of consolidation of money, resources, power, freedom and rights to the rich, I thought I would share my plans for this “bright and shining” example of democracy.  In the future that I see, as “mandated” by the Republicans, I foresee a lot of hardship, not shared sacrifice, not shared prosperity, but shared hardship:  A hardship that will be long-lasting and progressively worsening over time.  While I do see plenty of examples of optimistic individuals, I do not share their beliefs and think them to be of a certain naivety or illogical mindset.  Regardless of my rationale for such truisms, the following is a detailed account of what a GOP-lead future entails, at least for me.
At 46 years of age, I have suffered from the ravages of time, and have allowed myself to succumb to a sedentary lifestyle.  With an ever-growing workload and an excessive amount of daily stress and responsibility, my health has fallen by the wayside, but this I will change in the coming months.  I feel that, as resources run out, the simple luxuries that Americans have enjoyed for t he past 60 years will become privileges that only a few will be able to afford:  Oil is getting harder to find and even harder to extract, because it is not the infinite commodity that the politicians have had us believe for the past century.  If you doubt these words, ask yourself this one question:  Why would any company or companies choose to drill in the Gulf of Mexico or the ocean  . . . if oil were so abundant?  Without oil, things like gas for cars becomes scarcer and $4.00 a gallon gas seems reasonable.  With gas prices rising, the cost of goods, including food increases and there is no need to expand on what this means for us all.  Without oil, the energy to power things like air-conditioning, heating and many other things that make life easier is diminished.  And, in the United States, we have grown accustomed to regulating our immediate climate, which has left us less tolerant to heat and more susceptible to the cold.  In essence we have grown soft, which would be fine if a perpetual motion machine existed.  As for my personal desire to get into shape, it goes beyond vanity and is borne of my desire to being able to not only to survive without modern conveniences, but to live productively.  To this end, I have purchased my first survival guide.
With the shortage of the food supplies, buying groceries off the shelf will seem like dream to so many who have grown up taking such things for granted.  Not too many of us out there know how to trap, skin, clean and prepare those things we need to survive.  Few know what it takes to grow fruits and vegetables and fewer still know how to procure water that is both fresh and suitable for consumption.  A survival guide not only prepares one for the demands of the future we are heading towards, but it provides the skills required to live through accidents that can occur on a daily basis (car and airplane crashes, etc.).  In a good survival guide, one will find all of the information needed to administer rudimentary first aid, gather food and water, plan for both short term and long term self-reliance and how and where to look for assistance.  So, stockpile your seeds for planting, have a plan to rough it for a while, as migration might be necessary at some point and think about helping out those in need, when possible.  In line with my survival needs, I am taking medical classes and trying to learn as much as I can on my own about medicine, in hopes of becoming a doctor. . . Yes a doctor, because I believe that whether my fears for our future become reality or not, as a doctor, I can at least look out for my “own” as health care continues to become more expensive and more out of reach for so many.
As for monetary needs, as I stated earlier, I believe that our money, the U.S. dollar is losing its value daily.  By way of example (albeit a simply one), let’s look at the game of Monopoly, in which every player tries to get all of the money, property and whatever else they can horde:  In this game, each player weighs the pros and cons of their actions, which come in the form of investments.  Everybody starts out with the same amount of money and the same relative outlook, but as the game progresses, things change.  As players move around the square board, gathering up whatever properties they can, the fortunes for the majority of players dwindles, while those for the few increase until such time that only one player is left standing.  Now, when the game starts, there is plenty of money to go around and everyone is happy and alive, but as it progresses and the funds are funneled to the inevitable winner, faces grow long, frustration mounts and eventually the games ends with the majority of players left unsatisfied, unhappy and broke.  In essence, if you haven’t gotten the jest of this example, when only one player holds all of the money, the money becomes useless and the game ends.  In light of this, I feel that saving money for the future is a double edged sword:  My paltry savings cannot sustain my family or myself, especially since money (paper, linen or whatever it’s printed on these days) is only worth what the agency or entity backing it deems it to be worth.  Supplies such as seed, a first aid kit, a Bug out Bag and other necessary items will always be worth their weight in gold.  As for CREDIT, why are there so many companies that have sprouted up to help people maintain their credit in good standing?  In short, the answer is, because they get paid to do so by companies that want to keep your cash flowing their way.  In a country, or world for that matter, where homelessness is on the rise as well as starvation, famine, and inadequate drinking water supplies, the last thing on so many people’s minds should be their credit:  It was credit that got them and the rest of us into this situation, but it will not be credit that will get us out of it.  Besides the harmful affects of credit, what exactly is it good for in a time, when banks aren’t lending to those with the highest credit scores and all that it can do is keep you in debt or put you in greater debt.
As money is funneled to the wealthiest Americans through ill-gotten gains on Wall Street, homes have lost 50 to 70%, but still carry pre-housing market collapse loan premiums, the dollar is becoming more useless by the day.  In a time when Big oil companies are still granted subsidies that they claimed they no longer needed 5 – 6 years ago, but poor individuals will have their heating assistance cut, America is a failing experiment in democracy.  When programs to promote education, provide the elderly with dignity in their golden years, ease the suffering of the poor are being eliminated to offset tax cuts for the rich, the prospects of this country, as perceived by its founding fathers, wane.  As rights of the individual are relegated to privileges for those who can afford to lobby for them, our way of life is threatened.  This is not a racial problem, because poverty and those things that accompany it do not discriminate.  This is not a religious matter, because Article VI of the Constitution of the United States clearly reads “but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”:  Politicians have simply made it about religion and they’re not really to blame, because we choose those who represent us.
This problem, the one that we all face regardless of wealth, race, religion or culture is a dilemma of common sense:  Our country, our world (by which I mean other countries) cannot survive with the strain we place on the resources that sustain us.  While the rich will outlive the poor, they too will eventually succumb to the lack of resources and the lack of man-power to provide such resources in a useful form.  Other than accumulating wealth, what can the rich do in a world without working individuals?  Their mansions will become gilded cages as they find the streets to unsafe and unappealing to venture out of their compounds.
America has always lead the world by example, but as of late, the examples have been to rig the 2012 elections in favor of the Republican party through voting legislation; de-fund education while privatizing prisons; diminish workers ability to bargain for fair wages, reasonable working hours and health care benefits; to provide tax cuts to the rich by taking money from the poor, elderly and school kids in hopes that they (the rich) will allow this money to trickle down to the working class:  Brilliant plan, by the way . . . If the plan is to make rich people richer.  The problem with this example is that there are plenty of similar examples throughout history that we should be examining to avoid our own downfall:  Even Rome collapsed under its own weight of expansion.
As pessimistic as this may all sound, I do believe that there is a way to avoid our own pending extinction, but we have to realize a few things first:  One, throughout history, there have been advancements made to make life easier (the ancients had robots http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbW_xKRBt_M, computers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antikythera_mechanism and they built the pyramids).  Though this may sound crazy, look it up.  They did this thousands of years ago and all of their techniques were lost to humanity until recently (except for how the Egyptians built the pyramids . . . no one knows) due to wars and other natural disasters.  While we might only be able to mitigate the outcomes of natural disasters, we can avoid wars altogether.  Imagine if the inventor who designed that ancient computer had been able to share his knowledge with others and that knowledge was passed down through the centuries:  There would be no desktops, laptop or iPads, we would be well past those stages after the head start we would have gained from thousands of years computer development as opposed to the 60 or 70 years we currently have under our belts.  Imagine if we had gone with the electric car http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_electric_vehicle, which was over-shadowed by Henry Ford’s ability to mass produce a car that utilized a combustion engine.  Imagine if we had followed California’s lead in the 1990s and demanded more zero-emission vehicles http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39K36Rw7LYc.  One has to wonder why when, scientists were making the claim for climate change and even politicians were saying we needed to eliminate our dependence on oil, the laws demanding such vehicles were rescinded.  Could there have been entities, corporations, individuals out there who were putting profits ahead of practicality or necessity?  Were the thought processes that killed the electric car similar to those that lead to the housing market collapse and our current economic crisis?  Could rational, knowledgeable and logical individuals have foreseen the problems we’re currently facing?  Did rational, knowledgeable and logical individuals warn of the effects of impending manmade and natural disasters humanity now faces?  Although a definite answer is beyond the scope of this article, the answer to all of these questions is most likely, yes.  In light of this revelation, perhaps mankind better become more aware of its surroundings and those things that are draining the humanity from humans.
Despite my pessimism, I do believe that there is a way to avoid the cliff we are barreling towards, but said avoidance requires individuals to take note of what we are being told by our leaders and realize that there are motivating factors behind all that is said.  The next step would be to look at those factors and determine which are aligned with the advancement of mankind (at least which are more aligned with mankind’s advancement) and which are profit motivated.  For a starting point, go to http://im2opinionated.blogspot.com/ and look for next weeks posting.
t weeks posting.
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