The US & State Governments are Failing Us

HOW did the most developed country roll backwards and is now headed toward a undeveloped country?

I keep seeing stories and realizing that no one seems to be noticing that the US is rolling backwards.

Can I define this for you?

Our infrastructure – roads, airports, communications lines – now 11th in the world and falling.

Our education system – we’re NOT in the top 10.  We are thirteenth and falling.  Russia beats us.  Michigan is now arguing that it has no responsibility to teach children to be literate.  So I think we can safely say that we are falling in those ranks too.

Our water – we are NOT in the top 10 of clean water.  We have become increasingly aware that we can’t trust the water coming out of our taps.  Because the EPA has suggestions for water testing – but no regulations and no enforcement.  So – your municipality is at the mercy of both greed, indifference and incompetence.  So you have NO idea if the water you drink is clean.

Let me be clear – these are the FUNDAMENTAL REASONS FOR GOVERNMENT.

And our government sucks at it.  And we are letting them suck at it.

Trump intends to drop the secretary of education, which wasn’t a particularly powerful office but at least kept the focus up.

Trump intends to further defang the EPA which is already not doing what I consider a fundamental requirement – enforcing clean water regulation.

Trump does talk about spending money on infrastructure.  Whether he can convince the GOP that this is a worthy plan…  And his plans often ring of making the trains run on time… But it nevertheless is a position that he holds.

This country will go no where but down without these things.  These items are foundation of the country.  But we treat them like political footballs.  It’s going to be our downfall.

That thing where you don’t need something but you feel the need anyway.

It’s finally cold here in Cincitucky.  And I’ve been forced to wear my coat.

And I’m still cold.

This is because I haven’t been hardened off to the cold yet.

But today I was blaming the coat that has successfully taken me through many winters.

So I was staring at coats online.

I don’t need a coat.  Seriously.  I don’t.

But it is amazing how looking at them can make me feel like I do.

I guess that is why the economy works.  Because we all buy things because it feels like we need them.  But of course most of it we don’t.

What is that part of us that wants unnecessary things at the same level as necessary things.

Why do we want unnecessary things at all?

Do other animals do this?

Or is this just a byproduct of our fucked up human brains?

Now.  Don’t get me wrong.  I get that our pursuit of unnecessary things is why we can live in a first world economy.  Most of us have jobs that are based in one way or another on the pursuit of unnecessary things.

And indeed – some of the best things humans have ever done are the art and stories and music we create.  Utterly unnecessary – and yet so very human and wonderful.

So this is not some scolding diatribe against consumerism and trivial desires.

I get that it’s all an interconnected weave of human existence.  It’s just not always a very practical thing in my life.

I suppose if I wasn’t in a money bind with moving, I’d have bought a coat tonight.  Because I was cold in the grocery story parking lot.  And the only reason I was cold was because I haven’t been hardened to the cold yet.

In a couple of weeks I won’t even notice the sort of weather we had today. And I will still have my old coat.  And I will get a weird sort of satisfaction in knowing that I didn’t buy the damn coat today.  The human brain is weird.

Trump Wants to Let Wall Street Scam Customers Again

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You can read that article here.

Look. THIS IS BAD.  very very BAD.

I worked for more than 10 years in the Financial Industry.  And what is ABSOLUTELY true is that the people who sell equities do NOT fully understand them.

They are hired because they are good at selling them.  That is the key skill they need.

The ONLY thing keeping them in check – and it’s the barest check – is regulation.

PROTECT your future.  Protect everyone’s future.

Do you know why the economy crashed last time?  Because we hadn’t regulated the particular fuckery of mortgages.  And they TANKED the world economy selling crap.

Regulation in the Financial Industry is a huge pain the in the ass, but it is an ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY PAIN IN THE ASS.  Almost every reg can be traced to some sort of fuckery.

Call or write to your rep.  THis is NOT something you should ignore.  Really.

You can find your local rep here,

Once you have the name, google it and you can find the reps website which will have a phone number and address for the local office.  This is the most impactful way to connect with them.

This feels less emotionally important than racism and sexism and immigration.  But in reality this is going to be a NIGHTMARE for everyone.

EVERY PERSON in this country, regardless of race, religion, or economic status will be impacted by the bad choices of financial advisors because those collected choices snowball.  They can and literally have shifted the world economy into the toilet. People lose their retirement funds, their jobs and their homes.

DO NOT IGNORE THIS.  

When You Vote for a Racist

If you voted for a Racist, for any reason at all, you still voted for a Racist.

If you voted for a Sexist, for any reason at all, you still voted for a Sexist.

What your vote says, at BEST, is that you you don’t think it’s important that the leader of this country represent ALL OF THE PEOPLE OF THIS COUNTRY.

What your vote says is that you don’t think Racism and Sexism are all that important.  Your vote says that you don’t think that most of the people in this country have a right to feel safe in the country in which they live.

At worst, your vote is a straight up endorsement of treating fellow humans as garbage.

And quite frankly, if you voted for a racist – you get the same mark.  You may spend your life saying that you are friends with people of color or that to you, women are more than just sexual objects for men; but you just acted against them; you acted to hurt them.  I’m not sure you fully recognize that.

Your vote is NOT a passive act.  And if you voted for a racist and a sexist, that vote casts the shadow of racism on you.

Yeah.  I won’t back off on that.  There’s not going to be a free pass.  You got your president, but you don’t get to feel like you did it without getting the mark of racism all over your soul.  Because I will point at it.

You made a choice – a choice with the full and disclosed knowledge that he is a racist and sexist.  It reflects back on you.

And what I find worst about that act, that passive racism, is that you did it for a candidate who is wholly unqualified for the job.  No experience, bad impulse control, no self discipline and a bully.  If you were hiring someone for a job you wouldn’t take someone with those traits, but you put him the white house KNOWING he was a racist.

So I will ALWAYS point it out.  Get used to it.  I will not normalize your supportive racism by agreeing to not see it.  By giving you a free pass, so we can all get along.  NO.  I see it.

Your Vote says something about Who You Are

When you vote – you are voting for a human being to act in the name of this country. You cannot divorce that person’s views and character from your vote.

If you vote for a person who regularly kills dogs, you are saying it’s OK for the person in this office to be a dog killer.  If you are OK with that person being a dog killer, then you are saying that it’s OK to kill dogs.  Or at least you are saying the killing dogs isn’t that important to you.

You don’t get to say that you aren’t OK with dog killing, that you merely voted for the dog killer because it’s just a vote for your Party.  The best you can say is that killing dogs isn’t that important to you.  And that also says something about you.

Your vote is an act of your belief. It’s representative of you.  No one else can do it for you.  It’s You.  So if you vote – you do take on the reflective pattern of the person you are voting for.  You do take on some of the responsibility.

It is true that you will never find a candidate that meets all the criteria of your ideal.  Which is why is important to know who and what is important to you.  To look at how those things that are important are being represented by your candidate.

To pretend that you believe one thing and vote for something else  is disingenuous. Pretending doesn’t change the fact that if you knowingly vote for a dog killer, you are endorsing killing dogs.  You can’t pretend that you aren’t because it feels bad.

It’s naive to think that people who care about dogs shouldn’t  find your position on dog killing to be awful.  Even if you don’t really care about dog killing, your voting for a dog killer and they love dogs.  They aren’t going to like you for that.

I Like Effective People

You can be idealistic or you can be pragmatic.  In my experience, pragmatic people get food on the table and are generally more generous of effort and time for other people than idealists.

Idealist love their ideals because it feels good to be idealistic.  To them the moral high ground is far more worthy than the practical value of doing what is necessary to assure people get the things they need.

Ideals are moral absolution for acting badly or worse, not acting at all.  I prefer it when people just do some good.  Take steps however slow toward getting things done.

I have no patience for high moral rectitude.  It’s rarely all that helpful to anyone but the people who hold it.  Certainly it’s not helpful in politics. I prefer people who work to make things better.  Not people who talk about what they want and then refuse to take even a step in the right direction because if they can’t reach their particular destination, it’s not worthy.

Idealist lead to extremist.  They lead to feeling righteous about taking revenge, about acting destructively, about doing nothing when something would lead to a small improvement.  Extremists are often cruel and self centered.

I was an idealist when I was young.  It is easy to embrace the purity of idealism. It feels so right and good.  But experience in the world has shown me several things –  The Ideal is never real.  It has never been achieved.  It’s purity is misleading.

The Ideal should be nothing more than a pin on a wall to give us a destination.  It should only be a pin because sometimes even the destination needs to be adjusted with circumstances.  But what is more valuable – infinitely  more valuable – is the practical daily action taken to make things better.

To look around at this moment and its present chaos and say – what can I do today that will help, even in a small way, make this day, this moment better.

We don’t live in the ideal, we live here in this moment.  What you do now, however small the act, is the entire point of living.

My father died when he was 55 years old of heart disease.

I am going to be 52 in February.

In an effort to form some motivation to live a better life, I was contemplating that. You know, people always say that Live Like This is the Last Day of Your Life.

Presumably that feeling that life is very short makes you want to do fun and enjoyable things.

I don’t find that to be case.  If I presume that I will die at 55 I am not filled with a deep desire to get my life together.  I don’t feel much at at all.

A mild regret is there that I won’t see how the future unfolds.

A concern that I might out live Lily.  And that would of course only be for a day or two, because the sisters would put her down.  And that bothers me.

But none of that is motivating me to live a fuller richer life.

Of course I’m depressed, so motivation is not on my menu of options.  It’s been greyed out on the menu.

But I keep trying to click on it.  Despite knowing that is not the path that will work for me.  I will move because of habit and systems I use to get things done.  From sheer force of will occasionally.  But it won’t be because I’m motivated by some separate desire or emotion.

I think that doing things from motivation is an iffy way to live.  Motivation, like happiness, is fickle.  It disappears and then you are left without support.  A system, a habit, a structure that pushes you – is a much safer bet.

But those things lack that crystal clear feeling of excitement and passion.  Motivation is what gives a moment a robust experience.  The system is reliable but it rarely feels particularly good doing it.  It just is.  A robot path.

So I keep clicking on that greyed out menu option.  Hoping to find the sparkle of motivation.

What Politically Correct IS NOT

It is NOT an idea that Liberals disagree with.

It is NOT Orwellian mind control.

Is it NOT an attempt to change people’s internal prejudice.

It is an attempt to treat human beings with respect.  To use WORDS  that do not demean them.

That is all it is.  The only ones trying to project enormous earth shattering ideas on it are the people who want to have the ability to continue to be openly rude and prejudiced without repercussion.  And the people who don’t like people to disagree with their ideas.

Well if you want to be rude – go for it.

Politically Correct is just a social construct.  It’s not jail.  It’s just social pressure.

If you feel your right to treat humans with no respect is so important, go right ahead.  You aren’t going to get arrested.  You will, however, be treated to all the sort of social shaming that makes people uncomfortable.  The sort of discomfort that the people you are disrespecting feel when you blather away in your politically incorrect way.

If you want to discuss a social problem and you think that you are being stopped because you will be considered politically incorrect, PUT ON YOUR BIG BOY PANTIES.

Controversial problems mean that people will disagree with you.  That is the nature of hammering out those issues.

Because people disagree with you, doesn’t mean you cannot discuss an issue.

Because people disagree doesn’t mean that the issue itself is politically incorrect.

Because people don’t like your ideas doesn’t mean your ideas are politically incorrect.  

People disagree.  That is how we live.

Pretending that you are being shut down from expressing your ideas because people disagree, and therefore it’s politically incorrect, is just you whining because you don’t like it when people don’t think like you do and then tell you that.

You ideas are not politically incorrect just because people don’t like them.  The way you express them, ie treating people with disrespect, may be politically incorrect.  But if you can act like an adult when you discuss your ideas, then you are probably not being politically incorrect, no matter how much a liberal may disagree with your position.

Politically Correct = Respect.

Period.

The Conundrum of Conforming

One of the primary reasons that human society works is that humans have a strong instinct for conforming. We place an inordinate unspoken emphasis on it.

It the reason most people in a region dress in a generally identical way. You will notice that as our society became more global our conforming has made more and more societies begin to blend their customary dress into a big global conforming behavior.

It’s important. Its why we get along. Because people conform to accepted behaviors, we respond when someone speaks to us, we wait in lines and we stop at traffic lights. We do that because that is what is normal and we conform to normal.

When someone doesn’t conform we feel a sort of instinctive offense at this behavior. And because it is so deeply ingrained in our psyches to conform to norm, we highlight the person with various punitive rituals – in schoolyards they get bullied, in churches they get shamed, in the media they become the subject of endlessly pointless arguments or ridicule.

We build up IMPORTANT reasons for conformity. We attach words like respect or patriotism or decency to these ideas of conformity. But those things are also just made up ideas that we created to support conformity. Only rarely do we attach laws to conformity when nonconformity will create unreasonable harm.  Mostly we support our instinct to conform with ideas.

For example, we made up the idea of patriotism so that people would be willing to die for their country.  So that they would identify themselves with where they live. So they would stand during anthems and salute flags. So that they would Conform.

When people don’t conform we have an emotional reaction. And then we reach for all the ideas that have been raised over hundreds and sometimes thousands of years to support conforming.

But it’s important to remember – many of those reasons are merely ephemera. Ideas that we give weight to because they have lived with us for so long. Ideally these ideas support conforming behaviors that have group advantage. But not always.

Sometimes someone doesn’t conform to highlight where an idea that supports the conformity is no longer viable or never should have been viable. Rosa Parks comes to mind. Breaking conformity is a powerful use of our conforming bias. It makes everyone stop and notice. It makes everyone discuss the ideas that support conforming and question them.

Sometimes people don’t conform to make a statement about a different issue entirely. This is probably a mistake. Because what happens is that people will talk about the non-conformity. The offense of it, or the right to do it. They will debate the ideas that support conforming. But they won’t discuss the separate issue that this intentional nonconformity is supposed to highlight.

Because the conformity is the thing we all instinctively understand. A thing we all participate in. And we all feel justified in having an opinion. We won’t be diverted. So as a way to highlight a different issue – it won’t work well. It’s just too many steps away from the conformity issue and the monkey in our brains won’t pay attention. We are busy discussing the break in conformity.

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Because this is life. Why is this even a question?

Being single is not a problem that needs an explanation. It just is where life is at that moment. It’s a changeable state that doesn’t require changing.

Life does not end up where you are today because of one thing that happened, or one person or one choice. Life is a huge web of things we did, or we didn’t do, things we believed or didn’t believe, things that happened or didn’t happen, people we met or didn’t meet.

It’s NOT a question that can be answered without just giving you a moment by moment account of my life. It cannot even be narrowed down.

And all attempts to find a reason, to narrow it down are foolish and self destructive.

Life is here. This is where we are so far. There’s no accounting to be given to anyone, so fuck the people who ask for it.

The idea that couplehood is the better state is the root of so much unhappiness.

And that idea is at the root of this meme question. Fuck That Noise. Reject the premise.

If you value the concept of couplehood over yourself, you make bad choices for a partner.  You start including the value of couplehood in your choices for someone to be with.  And that leads to bad decisions.

You have seen it happen.  You may even have done it.  Imagine if our society didn’t value couplehood over the single state.  Imagine how differently those situations would have unfolded.  Imagine how many people would be doing entirely different things with their lives.

People may still end up in bad relationships without valuing the concept of couplehood, but I would bet on at least a 50% reduction in bad relationships.

OK.  I’m getting off the soapbox now.