Posts Tagged ‘economy’

WHERE IS THE GREAT AMERICAN DREAM?

May 26, 2014

Today, there is a lot of talk about the wonders of science and technology, with little mention of any downside. The same science used to create medicine and jumbo jets has also resulted in nuclear and bio weapons and, has left our planet polluted possibly beyond repair. A science that produced the world wide web and remote controlled devices, has created an alternate reality where people interact face-to-face, less and less.

Modern technology is making us more introverted, self-engaged and lost within our own “virtual” existence. This can be dangerous on many levels, creating a social environment with less and less love and feeling for each other. It seems like American society is becoming less and less friendly; a society where everybody talks and nobody listens.

I was raised in working-class neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area, where the majority of families were supported by a single wage-earner’s income. Yet I never once heard of a child without access to health, dental and optical care. Out of 3800 mostly working class students in my high school, I never heard of a single one who was either hungry or homeless.

The term “homeless” was essentially off the public radar in Southern California until after I graduated from high school in 1968. I don’t recall this word being mentioned in any media or in any conversation during my entire childhood. “Poverty” referred to people living on Indian reservations, in Appalachia, Central and South America and especially Africa. There was virtually no conception of poverty within our own blue-collar environment.

As children, we interacted with a large group of other kids outside for hours nearly every day. We often played after dark and in local parks without parental supervision or fear of abduction. We learned to interact with each other on a face-to-face peer basis and experienced a healthy childhood reality.

Kids today often spend a lot of time alone or with one or two close friends, interacting with computers, movies, television, computer games, texting and talking on cellphones. Rather than interacting in real life situations, our children are growing up in a virtual world of digital unreality.

Many studies indicate obesity, suicide, attention deficit disorder and other serious problems are on the rise. Every year brings more media reports of growing school and public space violence. Our nation is artificially divided by a profit-driven media into “red” and “blue” sides, even though the vast majority of us share common complaints about corrupt leaders and concerns of our children’s future.

Today, many Americans working two or more jobs don’t earn nearly enough to provide what working-class citizens once took for granted. Meanwhile, American cities are “dealing” with growing poverty by arresting and criminalizing the poor. Apparently, we incarcerate a greater percentage of our population than any other nation on earth.

Albert Einstein reportedly said: “It has become appallingly clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity.” “Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?” Where is the great American dream?

Link to footnotes and documentation for this article

Music Video relating to this article

Advertisements

CAN WE AFFORD TO HOUSE THE HOMELESS?

January 11, 2014

It may sound callous and indifferent to say it would save taxpayers significantly to house the homeless. But we apparently live in a nation of many callous and indifferent people, who seem to think it’s in their own best interest to simply ignore the homeless.

Based on actual calculations by the state of Utah of how much it costs to arrest and jail the homeless and provide emergency room services, the average cost per homeless person to the taxpayers of Utah is over $16,500 per year. Utah has discovered housing the homeless instead, including the cost of providing a social worker, costs the taxpayers about $11,000 annually, a savings to the taxpayer of over $5500 per homeless individual.

Unlike many cities continuing to pour taxpayer dollars down the drain arresting, jailing and re-arresting the homeless, Utah has since 2005 began offering those without shelter an apartment and, the entire state is on pace to eliminate homelessness by 2015. While housing the homeless for no cost might not be the best idea, most certainly housing them for one-third of their income, regardless of what it is, would save taxpaying citizens significantly.

Not included in the above calculations, are many other additional not so obvious costs to taxpayers when cities refuse to provide affordable housing. Perhaps most importantly and least understood by American citizens in general, it is a well-established historical fact that pandemics and plagues typically arise among the poorest sections within large urban areas, where adequate shelter, nutrition and medical care is most lacking.

Scientists for several years have been warning that major plague is long overdue and could erupt at any time here in the 21st Century. Disease knows no economic or other boundaries and can quickly spread in all directions upward and outward. It isn’t an exaggeration at all to say that failing to provide adequate shelter, nutrition and medical care for everyone within our borders, is simply begging for national and global disaster to erupt. No one is safe from contagious diseases, regardless of how wealthy or insulated we may be, nor are any of our own children.

Many millions of federal, state, county and city tax dollars are spent in various ways on social outreach services and similar programs that would not be spent if there was no homeless population. And, many billions more are spent by private charities, where much of this is donated by taxpaying citizens. The total cost of private donations combined with various taxpayer funded social outreach programs, significantly adds to the cost of not housing the homeless.

With all costs included, it is at least 50% less expensive to house a homeless person, charging them one-third of their income, than to not house the same homeless person. American cities could begin buying up vacant homes and other structures and start housing the homeless, which would have the added benefit of reducing crime, stabilizing and driving up property values in distressed neighborhoods. Can we afford NOT to house the homeless? You decide.

Link to footnotes and documentation for this article

Music Video for this article
 

IS OBAMA SMARTER THAN BUSH?

November 5, 2009

According to George W. Bush, we are fighting in Iraq to “secure the peace” and, to “secure freedom and democracy”.  Is there any historical or other rational reason to believe this?  If war can secure peace then why, after 10,000 years of war, isn’t there peace on earth by now?

War didn’t begin with the American Revolution, nor did it end there; many soldiers who fought against the British rose up in “Shay’s Rebellion” against wealthy colonists who were taking their land and throwing them into debtors prison.  Soon after, another war against the British erupted.

Then came the Mexican-American War, Civil War, Spanish-American War and War in the Philippines.  And then, the so-called “war to end all wars”, WWI, soon followed by WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War and now, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Spaced among this long sad bloody list of war after war after war, were several slave uprisings, a long drawn-out war against Native populations and many smaller wars and battles.  There have also been many “uprisings” within the U.S. population, including mob murder of African-Americans, Irish, Jews, Mormons, Chinese, Latinos, adult and even, child workers on strike.

Yet today, after all this bloodshed, we find ourselves at war, yet again.  In spite of the overwhelming historical evidence, a morally bankrupt American population remains quick on the trigger and very slow to understand, that war will never “secure the peace”.  Is President Obama acting any wiser than Bush by continuing to stay the course in Iraq and increase troop levels in Afghanistan?

Some people claim Gandhi was wrong because he ended up a martyr.  Yet, Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez and a great many others claim to have been inspired by him.  Did Gandhi lose in the great historical war between pro and anti-human rights forces, the only war that really matters?

According to Jesus, the solution to war is to put down our swords.  A small child can easily grasp this crystal clear logic of Jesus, yet we find people today pretending to follow him, who still promote war as the solution to somehow secure the peace.  The life of Jesus has inspired millions of people to promote peace and goodwill.  Thus, he won a far, far, far greater victory than all of the military generals in history combined.

It is entirely logical, that if I promote peace and goodwill, I will help humanity and leave a positive legacy for others to emulate.  It is likewise, entirely logical that if I promote war as a solution, I will hurt humanity and extend the trail of tears for others to emulate.

We as individuals have little choice what our leaders or other people do.  However, we each have a personal choice to make, to either stand up for peace and goodwill or, to bow to peer pressure and promote war and other violence.

It takes courage to stand up against one’s own society, which is why Isaiah and Jesus continue to be revered by millions.  It takes only a victim of societal pressure to promote war.  It is mature to promote peace and goodwill; it is childish, historically and patently absurd to promote anything else.

Is Obama any smarter than Bush?  You decide.

Link to footnotes and documentation for this article