Friday, November 27, 2015

End of the World as We Know It

In a very methodical, efficiently systematic, and very timely manner; and with the aid of the information revolution and social media, a hybrid business model, masquerading as the Capitalism described by Adam Smith, has eroded the middle class, the economy, and democracy in America.

Capitalism has become synonymous with, forgive the Civil War analogy, Sherman's "March to the Sea", in order to provide unfathomable wealth and power to the few. Fast food corporations are selling diabetes and obesity. Phillip Morris is selling lung cancer. And virtually all corporations are destroying the planet beyond repair.

In the wake of economic crises and the challenges of climate change and resultant instability in the world, corporations are practicing inversion to avoid paying for the damage they do.

Pfizer Pharmaceuticals' union with Allergan is the latest example of corporations running amok. Over the years American taxpayers funded grants for research and development and tuition for employees. And Americans currently pay the highest prescription costs in the world and constitute the largest block of consumers. Yet Pfizer doesn't want to help pay the bills of America while continuing to reap the benefits.

Our government is under attack from the far right. But the lessons of the economic crash of 2008 show that without government, capitalism would have destroyed itself. If the Federal Government didn't bail out the banks and auto companies, it would have been the end of the world as we know it. Remember, George Bush, a Republican, began the bailouts.

If the extreme far right-wing of the Republican party is able to severely disable the Federal Government, capitalism, all versions thereof, will end in a blaze of golden parachutes. And America and the world will enter a system of feudalism and the New Dark Ages.

It began with Sarah Palin and the omnipresent social media. Statements, opinions and positions all of a sudden could be transmitted instantly to everyone without regard for facts, the truth, or reality. The American population was saturated with misinformation smartly masquerading as the wisdom.

The disparaging remarks by Republicans regarding education illustrate the intent. From the Koch brothers' offer of money to forgo college and the buying of curricula in some colleges, to the Republican attack on political science typified by Tom Coburn's bill to kill funding for research, to Sarah Palin's own term, "Nerd Prom", when describing the White House Correspondences' Dinner, it is clear that critical thought, logic and reality are under attack.

It must be noted that political scientists study how to make our democracy work better. They aid in understanding terrorism and identify global threats and help develop strategies. They develop public policies that improve response to natural disasters, health challenges, and many challenges we face as a nation.

It is clear that, in this era of flawed thinking and social media, critical thinking, a product of formal education including the liberal arts, is more important than ever.

Decades ago, back prior to the era of social media, back in the time of the newspaper and critical thinking, people examined their existences. In the era of social media, people are having their existences molded by the medium, and ultimately the powers behind the medium.

Four decades ago, in the America I knew, the prevailing thought- stated in various ways- was to examine your existence and maximize upon it. Put simply, figure out what you are capable of doing and be the best you can. And go after the necessary education, training, and experience.

It use to be a sign of stupidity and futility to aspire to and seek a position that you were totally unqualified for; a position where you lacked the understandings, values, competencies, and experience to perform that position with any degree of success. This is laughably obvious for pilots, sea captains, physicians, et al, but much less so for those seeking public office. Maybe this is one reason that Congress has had so much difficulty performing in the last decade.

Hillary Clinton, though a flawed candidate, is the best hope for America in 2016.

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