I saw a recent news story that I found interesting. I’m not going to claim that every urban school can take this approach, but I would like to emphasize two points. First, having a massive, visible security system does not necessarily make the school safer, nor does it make students feel safer. Second, encouraging kids to take part in fine arts, music, theatre, etc. is a really good thing. We tend to forget about past successes, such as chess clubs in Philadelphia and choirs in NYC and Chicago, which is a shame. (Schools should also make a commitment to inclusive phys ed / exercise programs too; I’m not proposing an either/or situation here.)
One other comment about elementary education: take a look at this xkcd . Encourage your children and your children’s teachers to be open to questions.
I’ll keep this one brief. There will be no further discussion of weapons ownership during this campaign, because it’s a topic guaranteed to be 99 & 44/100 % reality-free. So: the 2nd Amendment contains the words “…keep and bear arms..” . Not “guns,” not “pistols,” not “my personal collection.” So, unless you intend to repeal city laws against carrying switchblades, and state and federal laws against owning SAMs, land mines, and RPGs (and no, wise guy, that’s not “role-playing games”), just ST[bleep]U .
The only thing that really needs to be said, over and over again, is: It’s not what you pay in taxes, it’s what you get in services. When the Repubs say that privatized services will be more efficient and cheaper, they’re just plain lying. It’s never been true and never will be true. Centralized, truly nonprofit operations will always be more efficient, not to mention far more consistent in their application. Take a look at the quagmire of expenses and botched services provided by contractors to the Armed Services in Iraq and Afghanistan for a recent example. The Pentagon either couldn’t staff up properly or chose to hide their true expenses behind contractor fees (ignoring possible internal corruption), and the US gov’t ended up spending more than they otherwise would have and getting less for it.
Next, remember that infamous “tax and spend” epithet? Well, gosh, just what should the Feds do: tax and not spend ? Seriously? The government exists to spend money for the collective good of the nation. Take a look back: in the 50s and 60s, the personal tax brackets, not to mention the capital gains brackets, were astronomical by today’s metrics, yet somehow the USA had one of its greatest periods of economic growth across nearly all the population. The middle class basically came into being.
And finally, we need to stop viewing taxes as “taking our money.” Salaries, prices, in fact everything to do with money exchange are based on foreknowledge of tax rates. If there weren’t and Federal taxes, do you really think your employer would give you all the money at the top line of your pay stub? It’s all an accounting dance. We should, as an old friend (and naturalized citizen) once said, be proud of the amount of tax we pay because it’s an indicator of how well we are doing ourselves.
Forget all those rich folk telling us how we all can become rich and successful. It just ain’t gonna happen. It never has happened. Being rich is, for almost everyone in that category, about being in power. The latest theme from these folk is that they can spend their money on charity much better than the government can. Not only is that untrue, it’s hiding the fact that their spending can change on a whim. The charities they support are completely beholden to them, and that is just plain wrong. This country grew big and strong, and there is no excuse for sharing that amongst all of us. And, yeah, that is socialist.
So here’s the deal: remember all that stuff about immigrants, our grandparents and parents, working like crazy to make a better life for us? Well, what is the point of all that if we continue to insist that everyone work like a dog to meet some “ethic” ? You’re being presented with a false dichotomy: that either you work like a maniac or you’re a welfare queen. There is absolutely nothing wrong with deciding that doing an honest job and getting reasonable compensation is more than good enough. I’m not implying that people who wish to dedicate their lives to a job should not be allowed to do so. I’m just sayin’ (sorry) that the standard of living and levels of productivity are more than good enough to allow the majority of us to work 35-hour weeks with 6-8 weeks of vacation, not to mention a properly funded retirement.
Face it: what politicians’ handlers call a “gaffe” is simply the candidate getting caught saying something with content, rather than the 100% ambiguous statements prepared for them. By their measure, everything in my blog is a gaffe. I suppose this will lead to disaster, rather like the old joke where you work. You know, the one where you slave away to earn a few “attaboys,” but a single “awshit” wipes the slate clean. So be it. I’m going to continue to state exactly what my position is, and do my best to convince you with stuff that’s unheard-of in presidential campaigns: reality and facts, and , more important, statistics that are appropriate to the situation, rather than contrived malarkey.
As President, I’ll push as hard as I can to get full single-payer (or Universal, if you like) health care in place. I’ll merge unemployment and welfare programs into a single system which provides funding to ensure everyone has acceptable housing, food, and access to education (more on public education later). Yes, there will always be welfare cheats, but my approach is to recognize that a system which helps 99% of the people is going to have to live with some small fraud ratio. That’s reality. And just to be perfectly clear: this includes VA medical and health benefits. As far as I’m concerned (and keep in mind I’m about as antiwar as one can get), anyone who agrees to put his or her health and life at risk in the military gets health care forever, whether a career soldier or a one-tour signup.
Despite what the TeaPublicans have been claiming for years, Social Security is neither broken nor broke. Long before the current system runs out, I’ll change the payroll tax so it is no longer regressive. Salary below some factor of the official poverty level will be exempt from FICA tax; all income above that level will be taxed. Yes, that includes capital gains tax and any other “non-salary” income. Forget the alleged “great work ethic” which people far richer than you talk about, implying that any poor slob who doesn’t live and die for his job deserves to be out of work. We should be working towards a system which drastically increases, not decreases, our time off and our retirement years.
Back to that word “social,” or its highly dissed cousin, “socialism.” There is a very good reason a certain German political party, and a certain loose conglomerate of SIno-Russian countries, put the word “Socialist” into their names. Pretty much every non-totalitarian country, with the obvious exception of large portions of the USA, recognize that limited Socialism is a very good thing for any political system. Think about it: if every road in this country were privately owned and maintained (and most likely burdened with tolls), would we really be living a better life? If a free-market system is really better, how come there is such a thing as the Small Business Administration? All those small businesses should *not* be eligible for Federal loans?
It should be blatantly obvious that the “War on Drugs” violates the first rule of Economics: where there’s a demand, there’ll be a supply. Drug (mis)use is a medical problem, not a legal one. I’ll eliminate absolutely all exoborder antidrug operations, place marijuana in the same category as alcohol, and grant a full pardon to everyone in prison whose drug-related convictions do not include violent crimes or DUI.
Next, the “War on Terrorism” will be removed 100% from the military. There will be no more assassinations either locally or globally. If someone’s committed a crime against the US, we can darn well charge and try them. Intelligence-gathering (this time with legal search warrants) will be under a police structure, in concert with other nations. Along with this, the TSA will be shut down entirely so far as commercial travel is concerned. If an airline corporation chooses to hire its own security services, that’s its own business. Let the people flying decide what level of security they want to deal with and pay for. Notice that I am not going to shut down security inspection of freight carriers. Smuggling — in or out of the USA — needs to be addressed.