I spent a month in China, studying abroad, and managed to get sick two days before leaving to come home. Two more weeks at home sick, and just as I was beginning to feel better, I came down with a whole new illness.
This has led to an inability to think straight, or cohesively, for more than a few moments at a time.
And whereas, my two faithful readers may be used to relatively long dissections of some topic or another, and – what I like to think of as – artfully articulated and defended arguments about this or that, this post isn’t going to be one of those.
This post, as the title implies, is just a few quickies, and, like as not, will be more questions than thoughtful answers…
1) What the hell is going on with the Republican Party?
Seriously. I have never seen this much of a concerted effort to roll back individual rights in all of my life. And I do not use the term ‘never’ lightly. The Republicans, who used to be a party of individual liberty, small government and low taxes, have – in the last few years – turned into the party that predominately tries to limit or completely remove women’s reproductive rights, and to make being poor even harder than it has been in recent history. Their national platform has been about jobs and the economy, but when did that become code speak for “an all out war, on the local level, on the poor, on voting rights, on the President, and on the rights of women in this country”?
As a side note, when did older, affluent, white males decide that they knew what was best for minorities, the poor, and women in this country? And why hasn’t at least one of their more intelligent friends disabused them of this inherently flawed outlook on life? They must have some rational minded friends, or is not one member of the G.O.P. responsible enough to actually be his brother’s keeper?
2) Edward Snowden, the N.S.A., and why is it the media in this country can’t seem to find the bull’s-eye?
There’s a lot of nonsense, in the media, about the Snowden case; is he a traitor, will he find asylum in some non-extradition country, why did China let him slip through? Nonsense, all of it. None of it truly matters to you and me, here on the ground.
What does matter?
That our government has been using our own resources to spy on us – in clear violation of the constitution – and maybe, just maybe, we don’t want them doing that? This is the thing that matters here, not one man, and whether or not he got seriously up the nose of our government. Drones in the U.S., domestic, warrant-less spying on US citizens, whether or not our country has been sold out from under us, these are the questions the media should be asking. One would even go so far as to say that asking these questions is the primary duty of our much vaunted fourth estate. So, why aren’t they? Sure, some are, but they do not receive anything like the air time or national exposure of the outlets that are focusing on everything but the important points.
For those of you not into wild conspiracies, just the mundane ones, perhaps this is a question you, yourself, should be asking, and keep asking until someone gives you an answer that isn’t complete double-speak bullshit.
3) The media and the fake IRS scandal.
It’s something like a national pastime to bag on the IRS, and really, most of us can understand the very real loathing directed towards an organization that doesn’t even seem to understand the ramifications of its own gnarled, and nigh indecipherable tax code, and yet still continues to wield it as a truncheon against the people of the U.S.
But this, isn’t about that. No this is about the media, and certain interest group’s handling of the totally unsurprising revelations that the IRS was using its questionable powers against certain other special interest groups. First off, and please pay attention here, the IRS does not answer directly, (or even indirectly I think) to the President. There was no reason for people to lose their minds and start trying to call the President on the carpet about that bullshit.
(There’s plenty else to call the President on the carpet about.)
But still, people in the media turned it into a thing, and then tried to inflate it into more than it was. But what happened when it came to light that the IRS wasn’t just targeting right-wing groups, but left wing groups as well? Not a fucking peep from these moral/ social crusaders. Not a word. I barely found out about the second disclosure, and I spend a fair amount of time trying to stay up to date on these things.
This, I hate to say it, but this is also something you conspiracy theorists should probably take note of…
4) And that brings up conspiracy theories in general.
Now, I quite like wild conspiracy theories. In fact, the crazier the better. It’s entertainment to me. As, I think, it probably should be to everyone. The idea that 911 was an inside job, the theory that the moon landing was faked, or that the government is covering up evidence that aliens, in concert with the Illuminati, are, by a process of social, economic, and genetic engineering, out to change the face of this planet and install a one world government which will prosecute you for thought crimes, whisk your children off to permanent military style re-education camps, and steal everyone’s left shoe, is patently, and often demonstrably false. But it makes for a hell of an entertaining read on a rainy afternoon.
Here’s the thing; as entertaining as these wild conspiracy theories are, they only serve – when taken seriously – to distract one from looking into, or even seeing, the real, mundane conspiracies of everyday life.
And there are real conspiracies out there. Any time any group of like minded individuals gets together, and has resources to commit, there will likely be a conspiracy formed. Some of these will be out in the open, in which case we call them a movement, and some of these will be covert, and some will occupy the spaces in between. Just how it happens. Whether or not any given conspiracy s harmful, or whether or not conspiracies are harmful simply by their nature, is something for individual contemplation.
Here’s a little conspiracy theory for you – totally mundane: Since – because a Supreme Court clerk, more than a hundred years ago, added a note in the margin of a ruling – money equals speech in this country, those with more money have greater access and influence over our government.
I don’t think I need to tell you that this runs completely counter to the ideas of how democracy should operate. Because of this greater access and influence, these moneyed interests have more success at pushing their agendas forward in the legislature, regardless of whether or not it serves the public interest or even has the support of the majority. When profit is the main concern, and business has the loudest voice, how fares worker’s rights, or the minimum wage, or access to healthcare?
Maybe you conspiracy nuts out there should stop focusing so much on the wild and improbable, and look to the mundane and happening right now.
5) Student loans, or, are we trying to create a slave class in this country?
So, the rates on student loans just doubled, mainly because our federal government can’t agree on anything, including agreeing to disagree. And, (full disclosure here), I’m a student, and I have student loans.
I don’t come from rich people. I’m a 4.0 student, but I’m also 35 years old and not a member of any minority. So, not a lot out there, for me at any rate, in the way of available, non-debt forming money for school. I also have to work while being a student, so that always cuts into the Pell Grant money I’m eligible for.
(This is not some self pitying, blame it on others rant. I think minorities and women should get disproportionately more of the scholarship money that is out there. It’s the only way to try to correct the years of disenfranchisement any member of those groups has had to put up with, systemically, for their entire lives.)
So, I have student loans. If there is one thing that is worth going into debt for, it’s an education. I didn’t used to think so, but I was young and can be forgiven for being stupid.
I’m going to graduate, (again, and probably one more time after that), and, if I am not making my living as a writer, I’ll probably end up teaching. I’m a philosophy major, and teaching and discussing philosophy is one of my other main passions in life. There are worse things than getting paid to pursue one’s passion.
But, by the time I graduate, and can get a job in my field, how much money will I owe. I’ve been a little chicken to extrapolate that far into the future, but it’s likely going to be a lot.
And there’s the rub: what kind of job will I have to settle for, in order to be able to pay on my students loans, and keep paying them? What kind of treatment will I likely have to put up with in order to keep a job that allows me to pay them?
This is less of an interesting question for me as, if the writing thing isn’t paying my bills, I’ll be teaching, but more of a poignant question for those students who have taken a more product/ service oriented direction.
Will you have to work for a terrible boss, just to prevent your student loans from going into default and ruining your credit? Will you have to put up with horrible working conditions, bad pay, and worse hours? What if you can’t find work in your field? What if you have to take whatever job you can get, just to be able to pay?
Yes, these are, admittedly, worst case scenarios. But they are also questions everyone concerned should be asking themselves.
As for a slave class, well, think of it this way: if you’re a boss, you know an employee with several thousand dollars worth of student loan debt isn’t going to be the first, or even the second to rock the boat, because he/ she needs that job. And maybe, because they need it, he or she will be willing to put up with, oh let’s say, less than ideal conditions…
6) There is no Six…
No, really, no six.
I was going to say something about the constant media barrage over the George Zimmerman trial, and why don’t they have anything more important to report…
…I was going to say something, but it makes me too fucking angry