Archive for the ‘Social ills’ Category

Is this wealth real?

2017/09/02

Supposedly, vast amounts of wealth are being created in the world today.  Trillions of dollars are tied up in various markets, chasing other dollars in the search for more wealth.  But most of this wealth is just numbers in computers, not new bridges, roads, houses, or factories.  If a market takes a downturn, huge amounts of wealth suddenly disappear.  And this wealth does not trickle down to the average person, in the form of increased compensation for work, or better health care, or improved retirement benefits.

Money is a way of representing work, or value.  Practically all value requires work, as very few things are valuable without some sort of investment of labor.  In theory, if a worker is more productive, they should earn better pay.  In reality, that has not been happening since the 1970’s.  Increasingly, money has lost the connection to work, becoming easy to create without putting time or energy into something.  Some people are able to survive without working, because their money is ‘working’ for them.  In most cases, the money they are ‘making’ is the money that should be going to the people who are actually creating the new wealth.

When too much profit is taken out of an operation or a business, the whole thing will collapse, because not enough is being put back in.  Resources become unavailable, workers stop being productive, equipment breaks down.  This is what is happening today, as large amounts of profit are being taken out of practically every operation.  Raising the minimum wage does not mean that the workers will receive a larger portion of the wealth that they create, because their percentage of the profits does not change.  The creation of real wealth benefits everyone.  What we are making today does not.

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We need each other

2017/08/11

Thinking about socialism, and socialist countries got me to consider the countries in the far North, like Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Canada.  These are places where people have to count on each other for survival, and work together to get through winters.  In more temperate climates, people exist without having to share, and can get by without being checked up on by a neighbor.  Going off the road in a car does not mean danger of freezing to death in most of the U.S.

The less we feel part of a community, the less we will sacrifice for that community.  As we become more wealthy, we are reluctant to share that wealth with those we do not consider part of our group.  We have got to realize that we are in this together, and that we will need each other at some point in the future if we want to pass anything on to  generations to come.

The contribution that we make may be small, perhaps only a moment out of a lifetime, but that moment will be a critical one for everyone.  We all have worth, and we need to be reminded of that, frequently.

The Better Wealth Care Act

2017/06/25

The Republicans in the Senate are scrambling to pass a bill gutting the health care system in the United States before anyone can examine it.  The bill was drafted in secret, without input from doctors, insurance companies, hospitals, or those who it will affect.  The primary purpose of this bill is to allow taxes on the very wealthy to be reduced.  Those taxes have supported the expansion in Medicaid which has allowed millions of people access to health care for the first time in their lives.  (I don’t consider emergency room visits to be ‘access to health care’.)

What the Republicans are basically saying is “we don’t care about you, you little grub.”  They don’t feel a part of the community, because their wealth allows them to survive outside of the community.   Our society is under attack by people who are afraid of society, of community, of sharing the surplus.  They don’t view the average person as a person, but as bunch of numbers; productivity, age, pay rate, etc.  People are a resource to be mined, exploited, used up and thrown away.

The supporters of this bill are not concerned with health care, they only want wealth care.  More tax breaks to the people who would never be able to spend all what they have.

Greed Kills!

2017/06/21

London experienced a horrible fire recently, when a 24 story apartment building caught fire and burned rapidly.  So far, 79 people are either confirmed dead or missing and confirmed dead, and the death doll may go higher.  I happened to be reading the New York Times at the time that the fire was reported, and the video that I saw was terrifying.

High rise buildings are designed to contain fires to their starting point, so that people have a chance to get out.  This building burned like it was soaked in gasoline.  Seeing a multi-story residential building burning from top to bottom is utterly wrong, never supposed to happen kind of stuff:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKe2I-s_AQo&index=1&list=FLT0coajYwPzUbTWP5a9lTEQ

From the first, people who lived in the building were saying that the cladding,  which had been added during a 10 million pound renovation as insulation, had burned rapidly, spreading the fire from a lower floor to the top floor in minutes.  Additionally, the building only had one fire stairwell, and there was no central fire alarm system.  As the building had been built in 1974, it was not required to have sprinklers.  That anyone escaped at all is mostly due to the presence in the building of many Muslim people who were awake preparing their Ramadan meal and spread the alarm.

This horrible tragedy was completely preventable, and most certainly is the result of criminal negligence.  Terrorism is an act meant to force people to change.  Setting people up to die  by saving a few pennies is far worse.

Wanting Change

2017/06/07

Americans by and large want to see changes in their country.  They see many problems that should be addressed, they see large amounts of money disappearing into government treasuries, and they wonder if they will be employed in six months.  Change is happening, but not very often for the better.

The changes that we need are ones that deal with our selves, our expectations, our hopes, our strengths, and our weaknesses.  Understanding that we need to work together to achieve things, so that we can combine our strengths to counter our weaknesses.  We have been trained to crave physical, material, monetary rewards in lieu of all else, yet we need spiritual rewards as well;  the pride of a job well done, the thrill of achieving a goal with teamwork, the feeling of being included when part of a group working together.

Even more so, we need the emotional and spiritual energy of sharing good times with others, excitement and novelty to inspire creativity, and affirmation and recognition to develop self-esteem.  We need to open up to our spiritual side, the side of how we treat each other, and how we treat ourselves.  All of us have worth, all of us contribute somehow.  Treat yourself like you would treat a good friend.  Do not fear change.

The West in crisis

2017/05/07

France teeters on the edge of a anti-Eurpopean revolt, the United States seems locked in a internal war, and England has decided to leave the European Union, which it was never completely a part of.  Spain, Italy, and Greece, the foundation of the Western mind, are trapped in financial suspended animation.  Germany’s premiere auto maker admits to designing vehicles to cheat on emissions tests.

Social issues, such as financial in-equality, health care, and retirement benefits are becoming very important in the U.S., eroding the dominance capitalism has had for the last 150 years.  Church attendance is at all-time lows, yet many people are interested in spiritual growth.  Evidence indicates that Russia meddled with the American election, throwing the result into question.

The acceptance of capitalism and materialism in areas outside the West is very troubling, because they are not working very well in the West.  Greed for ever increasing profit, disregard for environmental issues, and lack of sustainability are becoming trademarks of the Western world.  The West consumes the majority of the world’s resources, yet represents only a fraction of the world’s population.  That is unlikely to continue, especially as countries like China adopt automobiles in place of bicycles.  We all are going to be riding bicycles soon, I think, and we will consider ourselves lucky to have them.

The wrong stuff

2017/05/01

America was made great by companies working together with employees to build products which would last and last.  America was made great by governments investing the public’s money into roads, bridges, and water systems.  America was made great by working people sacrificing part of their lives to an employer, or by people who built their own empires from the ground up.

America is being destroyed by greed, the belief that work is somehow demeaning, only fit for inferiors.  Greed which drives corporations to focus on practices which drive away customers; cutting costs often means cutting staffing, so there are fewer people to provide customer service.  The emphasis on profit has become obsessive, driven by shareholders who demand an income from lending money to a company.

Capitalism may have been great during the early years of the United States, but it is doing great harm today.  Wealth is so concentrated that the economy is capsizing.  Debt is considered an essential financial tool, instead of last resort.  Banks no longer are lending depositors money, but money from investors hungry for immediate rewards.  Many dwellings are mortgaged for more than they are worth, and there are vacant homes all over the country.

Taking care of the people should be the most important aspect of society, insuring that there are healthy, educated, well-fed people to perform the work needed to support an advanced society.  Single-payer health care is an essential aspect of an advanced economy, protecting the employer from the costs of employee’s health care for life.  This health care should include dental, vision, and behavioral aspects, as the prevention of problems is far cheaper than dealing with the problems.  Providing minimal housing is another essential government role, insuring that everyone can sleep indoors if they want to.  We don’t need a three-bedroom home for every person, but a shipping container can provide superior protection from the elements for a very small price.  How you fix up the inside is up to you.

Taking care of the people is like taking care of your car.  Unless you don’t care about costs, taking care of tools, vehicles, or plant and equipment is essential.  People are our most valuable resource, and we have been exploiting people without mercy.  The rewards for submitting to the constraints of employment have been diminishing for decades.  Our spiritual lives are frequently empty and barren, amidst a society obsessed with material things.

Our culture  of greed is making people sick, to the point of killing each other, and themselves.  Our society is destroying us, exploiting us to death.  We cannot go back to earlier days, nor can we afford to continue as we are.  Change is inevitable, and the longer it is delayed, the more disruptive it will be.

Science saves lives!

2017/04/24

On Saturday, April 22nd, I joined hundreds of people to march in the streets for Science.  In was also Earth Day, and we were marching for Earth as well as Science.  After chasing down materials an hour before the march, I made a sign that said “Science saves lives!”.  This message was my own idea, and I liked it more than any that I had seen on the Web.  I discovered that it was also an easy slogan to chant, and got people to chant it several times.

Science is under attack, by people who don’t want to believe that our existence is threatened by our own activities, or who feel that profit is more important than the future.  Some people believe that Science is anti-spiritual, anti-religious, because their faith depends on miracles.  I happen to believe that Science does not have all the answers, and that there are things which we cannot measure, or detect, which still have an impact on the Universe.

Science is not bad, or evil, it is neutral.  It can be used to do harm, to destroy, but it also is an important part of survival.  But Science can be hard for people to understand, and even intelligent, well-meaning people can get confused.  Vaccines are beneficial, the square root of negative one does exist in mathematics, and electricity flows from negative to positive.  Investigate, study, question.  These are fundamental to the scientific process.

An artificial family

2017/04/14

The extended family, tribe, or clan has been the support system of humanity for thousands of generations.  In the United States, that support system is nearly extinct.  Never before have parents been the sole, primary caregivers of their children.  The breakdown in the behavior of youth is a direct result, I believe, of children not having elders available who have time on their hands to spend with children.  This is most critical for children in the toddler stage, ages 2 to 5, when self-esteem, awareness of social history, and feelings of inclusiveness are developing.

Instead of putting children in daycare centers where a small number of young adults oversee 20, or even 30 children, I recommend that we establish daycare centers in assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and other places where there are many elders with time on their hands.  This would benefit not only the children, but the elders as well, giving them a sense of connection with the future.  Large concentrations of elders without any young people is totally unnatural, an environment where depression and despondency are to be expected.

Having high school-age young adults help with the toddlers and small children would provide the able-bodied people needed to ride herd on a group of rambunctious kids, while allowing the elders to spend time with the youngest children, listening to them, telling them stories, singing songs with them, and generally letting the children know that they are important, and are part of the group.  And we could probably save some money in the process.

Destroying our community

2017/03/22

Without community, humans are nothing, for they will lose everything they create or accomplish, when their life ends. Community can preserve the creations of the individual, and build upon the accomplishments of its members. Community is what gives us strength in times of adversity, community is what helps us to find work or other resources, community is essential to the human existence.

Community is under attack, being gutted, by the wealthy of the United States. They have no sense of community, feeling no inclination to share their immense wealth in ways that create meaningful work for everyday people. The tiny fraction of the population which controls nearly all of the wealth resents any suggestion that what they are extracting from the community is, in any way, shape, or form, the property of those whose work made the wealth. Their incredible wealth has made it so that they can live beyond the community, without the need for others to help with the children, or the gardening, or the housework. They pay servants for those services, thus maintaining a barrier between themselves and the working class people.

The ‘haves’ label as communism any attempt to improve the community which requires the redistribution of wealth. Yet, without community, there would be no ‘haves’, or ‘have-nots’, because humanity would have perished long ago. If we do not take care of each other, eventually we all will encounter a time when we need help and there will be no one there.