Monday, February 27, 2012

America! America! God shed his grace on thee. And crown thy good with bigotry. From slick to shining slick.

I recently watched a television show that featured Rick Santorum's take on higher education. He stated clearly that higher education was a conspiracy, clearly orchestrated by Obama, to indoctrinate students into liberal thinking and undermine Christian faith. This notion is insane, and if one accepts and acts on this precept, it follows that America will cease to be a nation, will evolve into tribalism, and, in many ways, will come to resemble Africa in the 1700's and 1800's. And all the worship and prayer in the world, will not stop this decline and fall.

One of the pillars of our country's strength, from its inception, has been our country's commitment to education and its institutions of higher learning. I had the good fortune to spend most of my adult life in the State of Connecticut. During most of those decades, Connecticut boasted the highest per capita income of the 50 states. If viewed as a country, it also possessed the highest per capita of registered US patients. The spacesuit and jet engine are two of the most famous inventions.

In his borderline psychotic ramblings, Santorum fails to understand that, because of technological changes, the rest of the world is catching up to us. And these emerging powers, understand the link between education and prosperity and success; and place a high premium on higher education especially math and science.

Recently there have been rumblings by Republicans that Obama is responsible for high gasoline prices. In Florida outlaw biker turned Tea Partier Allen West has been complaining that it now takes 75 bucks to fill up his Hummer. Because other countries are "catching up to us", there is now a much greater global demand for oil than in previous history. China, of course, is the prime example.

Currently the US is a net exporter of oil for the first time in almost 4 decades. Domestic production is greater now than it was under the Bush administration, by a significant amount. And still prices rise.

If we truly want to cause meaningful change, in the price of domestic gasoline, we might consider restoring the 55 mph speed limit. And individual states could impose "cruel and unusual" penalties on motor vehicle violators. This would not only impact oil prices, as it did in the past, but would also slightly slow down climate change and help individual states financially.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Say it ain't so, Joe."

This economic downturn, more than any other in my lifetime, has been used by corporations and wealthy individuals to exploit the middle class and American workers. Academia and history used to teach us that competition is good for a free enterprise system. But those at the top realize that a rigged system is good for business.

The Bush administration, more than any other administration in my lifetime, realized the power of fear. And the administration used it to set in motion a sweeping shift of power from the people to those at the top. Since the administration, there have been drastic changes in Federal labor laws. In some states, low level employees are required to sign non compete contracts that protect employers but also give the "job creators" an incredible array of rights that include pre-employment endeavors.

What is really unnerving about what is going on is the acceptance, and the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" attitude, in regard to what's going on. Many believe that it is socialist and un-American to not do so. Those darn pilgrims were communists, Maggie.

The values, mores, and accepted code of conduct are changing. After all, it requires much less work to extrapolate capital from someone else than it does to create, sell and market a product. Our system is beginning to reward theft more than merit. The best salesmen aren't the best salesmen, they're the most unscrupulous.

Awareness of what's going on, of this cognitive shift, is further clouded by the insanity generated by the Tea Party candidates that perturbates the atmosphere. If you believe that life begins the minute someone fantasizes about an attractive woman, and you expect that individual to raise and educate the resulting triplets, you ought to believe that there should be a civil structure in place that enables him to do so financially. If you don't you have no business conversing on the subject, let alone running for political office.