Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Foundation

To Schulder...

After watching Obama's speech last night, and his reasoning for the allocation of more money and troops to fight a foreign war (which didn't seem all to outlandish), it made me think about what money we might need here in America. Which wars in our own country, that go unspoken, that need to be fought. There are plenty of necessities that we have here; equality of marriage, crumbling infrastructure and immigration. However, none of which pose the threat that my blog tonight is about. I feel that the largest issue in our country today, is that of our schools.

Don't get me wrong. This isn't a blog trashing where I work... in fact, there are plenty of times I enjoy where I'm at. I have issues though with the system in general; and the obvious yet ignored failures of it.

Coincidentally, I had some issues falling asleep last night. I happened to turn on Comedy Central, where Stephen Colbert was interviewing Cevin Soling. He has a book out called "The War on Kids," where he discusses how our school system is a complete mess. After hearing what he had to say, and just from my own anecdotes, I had to agree.

Going back to Obama... wouldn't it be interesting if instead of allocating hundreds of billions towards war efforts and towards wall street... how about a politician... any politician, giving that money to school districts? Especially districts in crisis?

I remember doing research while completing my Masters. One thing we looked up was the allocation of tax payer money towards the children. In more affluent Westchester districts, near $20,000 per child was paid. In others, like in the south Bronx... near $800 was ponied up. What a fucking disgrace.

The first politian to decree something along the lines of "each school district must give (for example) $15,000 per child in their schools. If they do not, the federal government will bring you up to that beginning level. Any other state, city and county tax can be used to further the educational standards at the choice of the board..." automatically has my vote. How difficult or insane is that?

I will never forget the Republican pundits like Sean Hannity chastising Bill Clinton for "gutting" the military because he somewhat cut their budget. Would Hannity, or anyone else for that matter, rip apart politicians today for sabotaging our schools by giving that money elsewhere?

On top of being underfunded... let's take a look at how our school system works. Per Mr. Soling, he stated that our current incarnation of schools is based on a factory system, created at the start of the Industrial Revolution. We have bells to tell you when to move, and repetitive days full of repetitive activity... just like if you were to work long hours on an assembly line. Is that truly how to reach our children today... from ANY socioeconomic background? Maybe from the 1920's!

Looking at many of the students growing up today, I can say, with full honesty, that many are frighteningly intelligent. I say that based on a short anecdote. It revolves around Madden on Playstation. A few years back, I sat and watched a few people play. They asked me to join, and I said sure. I was blown away. A million fucking buttons, each with its own specific action, having to be memorized at rapid speeds. Needless to say, I got schooled. I couldn't keep up. As simple as that sounds... if you just walked into that situation, as I did, with no prior experience with the game.... the complexity is astouding. And that's an easier type game...

I propose the concept of students not being dumb whatsoever... but being taught in a way that doesn't match up in any way with their current skill set. Kids today can sit at a computer and multitask like a pro. But they can't sit still at a desk for 40 minutes. That brings the obvious question... why do we then make all of them sit at a desk quietly for 40 minutes?

I once did a paper on educational systems in foreign countries. The one I did was South Korea. What I found fascinating was that instead of taking the SAT's at the end of high school, they took a similar type of exam at around the age of 12. Based on that exam, and teacher recommendations, the students were then put into one of 2 types of schools: an academic one, or a vocational one.

How DOESN'T that make perfect sense? Any teacher will tell you that there are students that, albeit smart, DO NOT belong in a classroom setting; it's just not right for them. I can agree with that, working with students all throughout Westchester! A system, similar to that, where the outcomes of a test, recommendations of the parent and of teachers can be used to determine the future schooling of a child can only be an improvement over our current system, where ALL STUDENTS are forced to try and be academics in the most tradional sense... when few are.

Recent history backs me up... Americans are falling further and further behind other countries in the world in terms of their academics. Forcing it further down their throats doesn't seem to be working. If students are meant to drive a truck, or work with their hands, or fix cars... then so be it. There is absolutely no shame in it. Not everyone is meant to be force fed Biology.

Again... Obama's speech. The need to fix issues abroad. I felt at the time of 9/11, that we weren't attacked by monsters, or by even by trained soldiers. I felt we were attacked by uneducated peasants brainwashed... by monsters. Education is the foundation of ANY strong culture. Our educational system, not abroad, but here at home, is in shambles. I do truly enjoy helping the young to improve. I know there are millions more like me. I just wish that Obama, instead of fixing issues abroad... fixed issues here at home. Starting with our foundation.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

5 Reasons We're Doomed

I gotta feel pessimistic here as we go into the season to be Thankful. What am I thankful for... politically? Not much. Maybe today we started with the ending of the term "preexisting condition." That's good. But that's about it. We're still in a pointless Afgan War. There is still continual violence in Iraq (even though it's not reported), and our debt is seemingly endless. In all likelihood, our recession isn't going away any time soon.

A lot to be worried about. I'm not saying the teabaggers are right... which by no means they are... but we do need to speak up to get our country back.

And not from our president... and by the way, when people say "I want my country back..." does anyone else find that overtly racist? We have a black president, and people feel they've lost their country? Come on...

No, not get our country back from our president... but get our country back from STUPIDITY. All throughout our land... that seems to be the one constant. Stupidity. Most people talk and have no clue what they're talking about. Ignorance is persistance, as well as being blissful. It's much easier to speculate than it is to research. So, after some of my own research, here are the 5 things I believe that if unchanged... will ruin this country.

5. The War
Why the fuck did we go into Iraq again? Oh yeah... WMD's. Did we find them? No. Did we leave? No. So what were, and are, we doing there? Stabilizing the country. Are we REALLY that good at stability? Are we really that good at nation building? Our own country is falling apart. Our own infrastructure is crumbling. I mean, shit, I can't drive through Manhattan without being witness to some kind of construction... ALL THE TIME. We can't build our own country properly... and therefore, what makes anyone think we can do the same abroad? Among a theocracy? Which we will never be able to appease or truly comprehend? Same now in Afganistan. What the FUCK are we doing over there? Fighting the Taliban or Al Qaida? Both? Neither? Very unclear. We are in Afganistan, to keep that country calm so they don't begin a conflict with Pakistan. That's the truth. We know Pakistan has nukes... and if they fire, then India fires, then that region becomes more of a clusterfuck than it already is... which might not even be possible. Our presence there only makes things more complicated. I'm not saying we need to be isolationist... but I'm saying if it's not our fight, in any way, get the fuck out. And by the way... count the BILLIONS spent so far on those 2 foreign wars. Complete and utter insanity.

4. Taxation
As George Carlin's famous routine goes... the 7 dirty words you can't say on air.... has now become 8. Taxes seem to be something that makes people foam at the mouth. People... when the country was first created, under the Articles of Confederation, there was no Federal tax. That system completely crumbled... because without a strong national force, we basically had 13 seperate countries, instead of 1 united America. Taxes are necessary. Now, am I one who thinks a majority of your money must go to fed? No way. However... these things we need, MUST get paid for. I just want to know why no politician is aloud to say... "In these rough times, we need help. Please... pay your way." If that was ever uttered, that person would be relegated to finding a career far, far out of the political arena. When did Taxes become taboo? I have to believe that the best system by far, is a flat tax. As I discussed in my previous blog... I feel that no matter what, rich, poor, or otherwise... everyone should have to pay the same percentage. It's flat out selfish to say... "Let's fight this war..." or "Healthcare for all..." or be for any other government program without wanting to chip in. As many of my Republican friends continue to tell me, it shouldn't be a free ride for anyone... and to a degree I'm with that idea... but when our ELECTED LEADERS need to spend for whatever reason... we do have a responsibility to kick in. However, in retrospect, I'm also 100% for transparency, and being able to see item by item what my money goes for. If I don't like it... in the next election, I'll make sure to vote in someone who can spend my money better. Welcome to responsibility. Pay your taxes, shut the fuck up, and realize that to do anything... it costs money. Pay it.

3. The End of 24 Hour News
This is, by far, the WORST thing to come from the internet. Because we all now have no attention span whatsoever, and most people need to know nowNOW and NOW... the news has become nonstop. It's also become something that the networks care about ratings wise... and that's why you have some of the stupidest shit being covered on the news. Not because of it's relevance... but because of it's ability to attract people. Violence attracts. Watch the nightly news and tell me how many stories have to do with violent crime. This shit boosts ratings! This is why it's shown... and things again, like Blackwater and the paying off of Sunni and Shiite radicals in the middle east by our own government isn't covered... no one cares. The other issue with our new news broadcasts is again... the name... 24 hour news. There is just not enough good and informative stories to fit into that ridiculous time frame... that's why things like the Octomom and Jon & Kate and the trainwreck that's Lindsay Lohan somehow is always relevant. Do you honestly care about the tabloids? If you do, please stop reading my blog. This bullshit is force fed to us because THERE IS NOTHING ELSE. They need to fill their insane time with ratings grabbing stories. Because of this... other imporant information falls by the wayside... like the 2 topics I wrote above. It's pure insanity... we have honestly been stupified by the media conglomerates by talk shows, "Opinion" news like Beck and Maddow, and tabloid stories. No one cares that much anymore about real shit that could help or hurt you. Stupified. As a culture, we care more about a sale than a slaughter. Frightening.

2. Partisanship
If you don't know what that word means... it's not partnership. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Partisanship means sticking with your buddies... no matter if you agree, disagree or otherwise. Basically, it's the political equivalent of "groupthink;" never going out of your comfort zone, and always sticking with your buddies and friends. Because of this, in Washington... nothing will ever change. I remember towards the end of the George W. Bush years... Scott McClellan had just resigned, and was discussing his book that basically tore the Bush administration apart. When asked if he felt Dems and Repubs could still work together, he said "there was too much blood in the water." Is that what our government has become? A place where it's only nonstop attacks on the people who think differently than you? Don't get me wrong... I do believe the Bush/Cheney era was HUGE for polarization... they did not believe in compromise, apology, or reaching across the isle. This is factual. Speaking openly about wedge issues like halting Hispanic immigration, ending Roe V. Wade and the ridiculousness of gay marraige will do that. You will energize the extremes of your base. But again, you will ruin any chance of political teamwork. And this is the topic in which I am discussing. Today's horrid incantation of Washington is one where Republicans WILL NOT vote with Democrats. Maybe that started with Reagan's "11th Commandment," which stated that "no Republican will speak ill of another." I find that repulsive. If you want complete and utter inaction in a 2 party system... that will work. However... with it... you'll get either laws the right CANNOT STAND... or laws the left CANNOT STAND. Either way, each party will work to end the laws created by the other, and truly, nothing new will get done. Like... as we see in government... right now. Pathetic and sad. Like a middle school playground during recess. We HAVE TO hope that leaders can be... how can I say this... mature? Sad... but it is truly a lot to ask.

1. The death of Lobbyism
Sorry to write about it again, but this is a big, big deal... and of course as stated before, one the media will NEVER report on. Why? Because many media conglomerates have lobbyists! As discussed in previous posts... a lobbyist is someone who talks to Congressmen about passing laws that their business is in favor of. They pay L A R G E sums of money to make sure that this occurs. Why will this system hurt us? Because this literally guarantees that the rich... stay rich and the poor have not even a fighting chance. Certain laws cannot get passed without the approval of lobbyists... they will not pay their men and women in Congress if they aren't happy. A wonderful example of this... is our 2000 page bill for Healthcare. In my opinion, if a law is more than 100 pages, I feel it's pushing the envelope. Now things won't be as short and as sweet as they once were... because you have hundreds and hundreds of people voting for it in both houses, and millions of Americans to consider. So having bills and laws, all of 3 - 5 pages like we did 2oo years ago, never going to happen. But today, we literally have lobbyists writing the bills. Here's how it works: lobbyists can't just hand over a briefcase of bills to a Senator or Representative. They can however give a campaign contribution towards their reelection. So, during that time, around September and October, before an election... they tell the person they're working with... here's the cash to get you in, and once your in, pass or create this or that specific bill. Presto... you have a lobbyist writing the law. Our healthcare bill is 2000 pages long. No... it's not about hunting a white whale, and no, it's not Charles Dickens. It's something that was written by the healthcare lobbyists. They refused to give contributions to their Congressmen if it still didn't allow them to make INCREDIBLE profits. Why do you think it costs a TRILLION dollars? It makes sure each and every concern those companies had was addresed by our government. Does this bill help us? In some ways I'm sure. Does it help the corporations behind our medicines and doctor visits? Much, much more. If you are in favor of laws and bills that truly help... US... then you have to be for the ending of lobbyism in our country. Don't just think that because Republican's are pro-business they are the only ones who have lobbyists... so do PLENTY AND PLENTY of Democrats. People that have money... always want more of it. And so goes our government.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Imminent Failure of Our Two Party System

As a registered independent, I have NO PROBLEM sitting here and talking about the downfalls, and the good sides of both of our major political parties. I honestly believe that most people in both parties want the best for us, their constituents, but at this time, have completely lost touch. I say that, because of the issue of lobbyism.

Lobbyism truly came to the forefront a few years back during the Bush administration. You had the arrest of Jack Abramoff, one of the largest lobbyists in our time. He was arrested, because lobbyists have to make sure their money is given in certain increments, for specific things, like campaign contributions towards reelection. He gave them money towards vacations and other things of that ilk.

Today however, if you really search through all of the politicians, Republican and Democrat, you'll notice that almost every single one operates with the use of lobbyists... either legally or illegally (like Abramoff).

What exactly is a lobbyist? A lobbyist is someone that goes to Capitol Hill, with money in their pocket, and tries to pay a Senator or a Representative to vote the way that interests their particular company. There's a NORML lobby (anyone reading this SHOULD DEFINITELY KNOW who that is), there's a teacher lobby, and there's a tobacco lobby. Quite honestly, there is a lobby for almost every business in every sector that you can think of.

In some respects, this might sound productive; people trying to get powerful men and women to hear them out. However... with this system comes a mighty pitfall:

Those with the most money, will win the most votes, and pass the most laws that help themselves.

Considering how that system operates, it just makes sense.

In fact it makes more than just sense... it makes the law. For example, the banking bailouts. How and why did that occur? Well, the banking industry like AIG and such, spent MILLIONS in lobbyist funds to make sure that they were bailed out. Now... most of that money, in a horrendous political move, really wasn't watched when it was handed over to the banks. The first bailout... the BILLIONS of dollars that we, as taxpayers, GAVE to the banks... was put back in the pockets of Senators and Representatives... to make sure a second bailout occurred. Basically... financial corporations took our taxpayer money... and instead of using it to fix the gigantic holes that existed in the way they operated, they used that money to bribe Congress... to get more money. That's my first example.

Gay marriage. There are half a dozen reasons I could give for why gay marriage is opposed in this country. However, the real reason most government officials won't support it... like Barack Obama, is because the Healthcare industry lobbies MILLIONS of dollars a year to make sure it won't nationally pass. They know that if gay marriage occurs in this country, MILLIONS of people who didn't get insurance, now can claim a family package. That's BILLIONS of dollars more that has to be spent in coverage. That's the second example.

In both of these examples, I've tried to explain how lobbyists can affect the creation, or lack thereof, for new laws to be enacted, that quite frankly, might actually be wanted, or needed in this country. The healtcare issue again, hasn't been passed because of the giant that is the healthcare companies. Even the Max Bauccus bill was basically written by lobbyists to make sure money does not, under any circumstance, leave the pockets of those corporations. Bill Maher called the bill a "blowjob" to the healhcare industry. Even though it's those unethical bastards who make it their business to find loopholes continuously to uninsure anyone they can, for any possible reason (ever heard the term "Preexisting Condition?" Who do you think came up with that?), they have found a way to make sure that they still have their hands in our pockets, taking our money while giving us half ass coverage.

My point: in our government today, a majority of ethical and helpful laws don't get passed because each and every representative is paid off to make sure that the interests of the corporations are looked at first and foremost. Our feelings are secondary. This goes for BOTH Democrats and Republicans.

In America... things don't really ever get fixed or better. The violence in Iraq has seemingly calmed down, not because we're a great nation building force, but because most of the "bad guys" left the country or were killed. We are paying the rest of the Sunni's and Shiite's off, to not attack one another. What work is being done at Ground Zero? What has been enacted to make sure 9/11 doesn't happen again? Important things, ethical things, are left to fall by the wayside today, because profit can't be made from them.

I propose then the only logical solution; the creation of a 3rd political party in this nation. Our Democrats and Republicans have failed us mightily... they truly only care about corporate contributions. We need a new grassroots party that stands up for important ethical issues. Here are the issues I suggest we champion:

Social liberalism: Anything involving your body should be allowed to occur. Government should not control what you do to yourself. This would mean the legalization of all drugs (18 or 21 and up, similar to alcohol), which would of course be taxed... complete legalization of abortion (even though I think it's a terrible thing, I, nor anyone else, should be able to tell a woman what they can or cannot do with something growing inside of them, and complete legalization of gay marriage (you love who you want, with no exceptions). How about immigration? I'm somewhat conservative on this issue... I just have a problem with somone bypassing the system. But, they do that because to become an American citizen is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT. Let's allow everyone to come into this country... as long as they register. I have no issue with a crackdown on letting illegals in... but I do have a problem with making it impossible to come in legally. Ease that burden, let them become taxpayers such as each and every one of us... and the issue then slowly goes away... while the government earns just a little bit more money. A majority of people wouldn't come in illegally... if coming in legally wasn't so damn difficult.

Financial conservatism: Both parties are very iffy on this, but I don't want to be. Liberals spend wildly, while conservatives spend nothing. Both ideals are bullshit. There should be no problem with the government spending tax payer money... AS LONG AS every dollar is watched and accounted for. NO ONE unbelievably does this! During the Iraq War, I believe it was 9 Million Dollars that was completely lost. During the Katrina "rescues," it was a similar figure. This money just "dissappeared." Unacceptable. Money should and must be spent, but it must be carefully watched, no questions asked.

Taxation in this country is also an issue. Let's have a flat tax. I don't care how much you make or you don't make... everyone should have to pay the same percentage towards this country. Make it around 9 - 11%. If you want a tax break, it should be given when you are charitable, or prove to employ large amounts of people. No tax breaks for people that already are making money.

There should be a "workfare" program enacted. I'm all for helping people out who have lost their jobs. Businesses should be given small tax breaks if they can give lists of jobs out to the government for them to fill. If someone's lost their job, give them 6 months to a year to find another while on unemployment. After that time is up, and they can't find a job, they get to choose from multiple jobs in their area. It gives you the freedom to try and find your own position, while knowing that if you can't Uncle Sam will help you out.

Of course we should all be given free and full healthcare. This is a nonissue... if you are sick, you must be given every opportunity to feel better. Hell... if you end the Iraq/Afganistan war, and legallize and tax pot... we could pay for the health of each and every citizen... while having money left over.

Lastly... no religion in our government. That's a 1st Amendment issue. If you wan't to practice your religion, go right ahead. Unless each and every American is of the same religion though... it has no place in lawmaking.

These are just a few ideas I have had for the creation of a new party. I feel we need this, because our 2 party system has failed ALL OF US. It hasn't failed the 2% at the top of the American food chain. But the average person, such as myself, has been left for dead by the government. So have you.