The American Dream has always been an illusion for most of our population.
Those who were not "successful" and those who were violently excluded from the upper classes were expected to hide away in closets of self-loathing and not challenge or contradict the straight white authoritarian males who ran the show.
Our supposed primacy as an international democracy has always been a fabrication based on violent repression and starvation of those who oppose the rule of our unelected political power brokers.
Once again we are seeing the true face of our government on the streets as the Occupy Wall Street crowds are forcibly dispersed.
... whether or not they are a citizen.
If this is not the case, then the very premise of our economic system is disproved.
We can solve this problem by substantially raising minimum wages, improving working conditions, and granting legal status to anyone who is here working, or who is here as the child of someone who is working.
If we are worried about immigrant workers depressing wages, then the answer is to raise wages, not to violate the basic human rights of immigrants.
The entire immigration problem is caused by employers who abuse undocumented immigrants because they can.
That might be a good place to end the "Common Era."
We should get rid of leap seconds too.
For day-to-day human use a lunisolar calendar with uncounted days would be nice. The uncounted days would be a holidays, and on those days the use of money would be banned. Every transaction of goods or services would be a gift.
Ah, if only I was Emperor of Earth...
Abusive low wage employers wouldn't be able to find employees who would put up with their shit.
A generous welfare system accomplishes a few things.
Number one, it provides for people who are unemployable, those who have "personal baggage," mental illness, personality disorders, simple ass-backwards cussedness, whatever.
Number two it puts fear into the hearts of abusive managers that one day they will fuck up badly enough that their employees will say "take this job and shove it," and walk out, because frankly welfare would be better than a crappy minimum wage job with an abusive boss. Most mentally fit people would rather work than be idle so there will always be plenty of incentive to find and create good jobs.
Number three, a generous welfare system keeps money circulating in the economy of ordinary people to the benefit of everyone, most especially small businesses and communities, and prevents the ordinary economy from going rotten when Wall Street and the politicians take a dump. People living at the bottom of the economic ladder have to spend their money on things like food and clothing and basic shelter whatever the hell the stock and bond markets are doing. They never throw huge piles of money onto the gaming tables of Wall Street where it circulates uselessly to the detriment of all but the obscenely wealthy.
The plain fact is that some people can't leave their baggage at home, but everyone has got to eat.
Different flavors of consumerism.
I'm an artist. I make cars and computers out of trash.
My 1985 car has a salvage title and 250,000 on the odometer. My trash laptop runs LXDE on Debian.
If somebody gave me a shiny new computer first thing I'd do would be to install Linux. Maybe I wouldn't delete the operating system it came with, either Apple or Microsoft, but I'd certainly confine it to it's own tiny partition where it would remain unused and never booted.
I choose to live as a hunter-gatherer in a world of serendipity, not a world of predefined and externally dictated "choices." Life is not a bubble test demanding a number two pencil and True/False A,B,C,D,E right or wrong answers.
And it is getting worse.
The volume and toxicity of the waste produced by coal power plants far exceeds that produced in nuclear power plants.
a toxic coal waste accident.
The carbon dioxide produced by fossil fuel power plants of any kind is far more destructive to the environment than any nuclear power plant "waste."
Many solar power schemes are also more toxic than nuclear power...
I'm a radical environmentalist. If I were emperor I'd ban private automobiles, coal mining, factory farms, and many other environmentally damaging human activities. I also think nuclear power plants are a viable way of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.
In the short term, for the next few hundred years, replacing coal power plants with nuclear power plants is a good idea even if it requires large government subsidies.
Until we humans are able to significantly reduce our population voluntarily we will require large scale relatively clean power sources. "Natural" or "alternative" energy sources don't have the muscle to support the civilization we have created. If this civilization collapses, either from lack of energy, or from toxic fossil fuel waste and carbon dioxide emissions, then billions of people will die of starvation, disease, and in very ugly resource wars.
The capability was already in the kit. That's very interesting, especially in these very complex chemical systems that were presumed to be very finely tuned.
Replacing phosphorous with arsenic in these systems ought to break them, and in most organisms it does.
We think we know a lot about biochemistry, but we've only scratched the surface.
I suspect the signature of life is written across the universe. We just can't see it yet.
It's that the most expensive health care is the best care.
People with good insurance or thick wallets often get inappropriate care in the USA and end up in worse shape than they would have had they lived in someplace like Canada, England, or even Cuba.
In many cases a generic prescription that costs 4 cents a pill is more effective and has fewer side effects than the "latest and greatest" $4-a-pill offering of the pharmaceutical corporations. Often the best treatment doesn't require any medicine or expensive equipment at all.
There are physical limits to the amount of health and happiness one can buy. The medical industry in the USA promises the moon for a very high price but often drops you off in the same place you might have been had you received more appropriate and much less expensive care. And sometimes the system kills and maims people who would have been okay if they hadn't had the "good" insurance or the fat wallet.
Unless we learn to fit in we will become one of those evolutionary experiments that failed, and failed quickly.
100,000 years from now, which is but an instant on nature's clock, the earth will be rich with life again and nothing will be left of the common ape, pan vulgaris, humanity, but our fossilized remains and the remarkable amount of trash we produced.
We protect the earth because this is the environment we are part of, this is the environment we live in. Without this environment we are nothing. We cannot survive when the air and the water and the land itself turns toxic and pathogenic and inhospitable to our kind of life.
We are already creating a hellish world for our children. Our great great... grandchildren simply won't exist, won't be around to complain, and nature will go on, in her usual way, without us, evolving wonderful new kinds of life to fill the holes we left in the ecosphere.
We must protect the environment not because we can destroy it, but because we are utterly insignificant in the normal scales of time and the depths of space. If we don't protect this environment our survival depends upon then nobody's gonna care when we are gone. Our gods will be dead and our libraries lost. We will be forgotten.
The USA has failed if we no longer believe everyone who works contributes to the common good. If doing honest labor for a paycheck does not contribute to the common good then why the bloody hell is ANYONE working, citizen or not? Tell everyone to go home and close the shop. The dream is dead.
We knew how to get to the moon in the sixties. We knew how to build space shuttles in the seventies. We knew how to build space stations in the eighties.
This is old technology. The institutions built around these technologies are corrupt, most especially the Military Industrial Complex pigs feeding at the government trough.
When we decide to go to the moon again we must demand innovation and accountability. The existing aerospace infrastructure system can't deliver that.
Let's aim to explore the moon further cheaply, with small rockets and robots.
Let's aim for human exploration of Mars when we can do it right, when we can get there in a week or two riding big constant acceleration ion engines or some similar technology.
Going to Mars with existing chemical rockets and space station technology would be a publicity stunt, much like crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a small canoe. It wouldn't really be science.
Like we needed someone like that...
And this has everything to do with the altruism of people who have the calling to teach, and nothing at all to do with working conditions, unions, pay or politics.
In some places any teacher who is willing to show up day after day and simply keep the kids in their seats is damn near a saint.
I've been in schools where people who thought they were competent were utterly destroyed, their souls corroding in the chaos.
Wherever there's a school with an unusual number of ineffective zomby teachers there are usually reasons for this having little to do with the teachers trapped in the horrible situation. Too weak to thrive, too strong to die. It's like a perfect hell.
Even "Stand and Deliver" Jaime Escalante found himself in grim situations where he had no power to teach.
It's really quite worthless. We max out the high deductible around November every year. So basically we pay for 90% of our medical expenses out of pocket, and get a small fraction of our premiums back in November & December, which just about covers the property taxes on our house.
For the huge amounts we pay in premiums every year, we get very little back. We pay much more in medical expenses and "insurance" than we do on our mortgage.
Our current insurance is a small group plan. My wife and I can't purchase individual insurance for preexisting conditions and have had the frustrating experiences of running out COBRAS, being uninsured, and fighting to be accepted into our state's "high risk" pool.
In retrospect we shouldn't have played the game and just paid all our medical expenses out of pocket. But then the very real threat of "losing everything" would have been hanging over our head. But I'm now beginning to think we would have lost everything anyways had some further major medical misfortune or accident befallen us. When one is too sick or injured to work one can't pay the health insurance premiums for long. Paying for this ridiculous insurance gave us a false sense of "security."
Essentially all the insurance money we've paid out over the years might well have been flushed down the toilet or spent frivolously on trips to Europe or something. We received no benefit from our medical insurance, and had that unforeseeable "something bad" happened, the reason we were supposedly paying for this "health insurance," we'd still have been up shit creek anyways.
It will be interesting to see how this new legislation plays out. I personally believe it's simply an emergency bailout of a major U.S. industry that was on the verge of collapse.
Classroom teachers with appropriate educational backgrounds who actually use these texts could be paid additional salary to update and maintain them.
These textbooks would be free to everyone, anywhere, worldwide.
A state like California could easily support such a program at less cost then it now spends on paper textbooks.
Unfortunately the textbook companies are deeply entrenched in the current political system.
Maybe I can put my very best DU pontifications here
My Rainbow Flag
Marriage is a human right.
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