Sunday, March 24, 2013

Life-Changing Government Inventions

According to an article in The Fiscal Times, a conservative publication, most of the inventions that deeply impact, structure, and shape our lives are a result of government funding. The Global Positioning System or GPS was originally developed by the Defense Department in the 70's. Again, you all can thank the Defense Department, and not Al Gore, for developing the prototype for the internet in the 60's. Infants formula was developed by NASA in the 1980's. The founders of Google were supported by graduate school fellowships from the National Science Foundation. The NSF was also instrumental in the development of  bar codes. The Defense Department provided funding to private sector companies during WW II that ultimately led to the developed of microchips. The NSF and CIA provided funding that led to the development of touch screens on tablets and smartphones. As Rick Perry can attest to, the National Institutes of Health are responsible for many life-saving vaccines, including flu shots. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency developed the turbine engines used in the production of wind energy. America gets 6% of its electricity from wind power!

If this is socialism, as the Tea Party states, let's make the most of it. I just hope that while I am still walking the Earth, the stupification that has occurred in American politics ceases. I hope that people value and use reason and logic, in conjunction with their faith and stop electing mentally defective people to positions of power. Anti-intellectualism and falsehoods are dangerous for individuals as well as our country as a whole.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Story of John Henry

In American folklore there is the story of John Henry. As legend has it, John Henry was a railroad worker who wielded a  sledge hammer. To increase efficiency and production, the owner of the railroad introduced a steam driven machine to replace John and his co-workers. To protect the jobs of his co-workers, John Henry challenged the steam powered hammer to a race. Ironically he beat the machine, but died at the end of the race with sledge hammer in hand.

The story of John Henry parallels what is happening in America and the world today. Whether it is a result of software technology, robotics, or simple mechanical innovation, traditional options for many American workers no longer exist. This is just a fact of human existence. From the advent of the wheel in prehistoric times, technology has shaped the nature of human life and specifically employment and how we make a living.

Outsourcing, the employment of illegal aliens at sub-poverty level wages, union busting, and child labor all are situations that represent an entirely different matter. These actions are subject to the moral compass of our democracy and society as whole, and are conditions that can be remedied by government and law.

The real crime in what's happening today, is that those politicians and pundits on the far far right, often blur these two separate situations. They not only fail to acknowledge these truths, but advocate and profess to believe that the problems of the middle and working classes stem from people not taking responsibility for themselves and not working hard enough.