Among the last surviving veterans of WWII (the 'great' war), my father is receiving a lot of attention these days...which is all fine and good. The only part that bothers me is the 'yay war!' aspect of it all...that and all the right wingers who are behind so much of the celebration. I've come to believe that all this patriotic fervor has but one sinister purpose in the end, to disguise the true nature of war and those who start them, thereby causing us to salute and feel proud and terrified rather than ashamed and horrified as our children are marched off to kill or die for the almighty quarterly profits of corporate thugs like Goldman Sachs and Halliburton...and all the rest.
As I spoke to my father by phone on Father's Day, he mentioned the recent Armed Forces week celebrations. As part of that he'd been hosted around Redstone Arsenal, the Army post in our hometown. He described a basketball game played by amputee veterans of our latest military follies. “It was inspiring how well they were able to play despite their limitations,” he told me. I take no issue with that view. I'm sure it was inspiring. I bet it was even heart-rending. Nevertheless, I couldn't help but think that all those brave young men should, by all rights, be whole. Though I said nothing, I was thinking how inspiring it would be if we weren't feeding our best young people into meat-grinders of our own contrivance for no good goddamned reason.
I don't think we should be asking for lower interest rates on student loans, I think we should be asking for loan forgiveness and free education. I know I'm a crazy wild-eyed radical idealist and all that, but you get what you settle for and we should be demanding what's best for society. One wonders how we might pay for it. How 'bout we cancel a war or two, tax the rich and corporations at a rate commensurate with their outrageous success and have free education and free healthcare too...for everyone? We should quit begging for crumbs and demand what we should have been receiving all along, fair and decent treatment by our own damned culture. How important is it for Larry Ellison to have thirty-six billion dollars and a private island in Hawaii, or for the 400 richest Americans (six of whom paid zero taxes last year) to own more than the bottom sixty percent? How many gold-plated yachts do there need to be in the world?
The following are some of the countries that recognize the value of every educated citizen (h/t to Shawn Russell):
countries with free post-secondary educationBut in our great nation we have to undertake a lifetime of onerous debt just for the privilege of learning stuff. What's wrong with that fucking picture?
(not a complete list)
Trinidad and Tobago
Finland in particular is a study in what the free education approach can do for a society. Virtually every important measure is impacted by the high level of education in their society, from wealth distribution and personal income to physical, social and psychological well-being. It's clearly a much healthier condition for a society than one where only the rich may be educated without shackles. A society of educated owners and uneducated debt slaves is no way to go.
The commodification of all that is precious has been a mistake. Medicine, teaching, governance, justice, so many vital things lose their soul when turned into profit centers, something they were never meant to be – and for perfectly good and valid reasons. And let's face it, all of these things are in desperate need of more soul, not less. These days, doctors don't choose your course of treatment, insurance executives do. Medicine is no longer about the patient's well-being, it's about the well-being and short-term profits of insurance companies. We need to wake up and shake off all this insane bullshit and get back to some human values that have meaning above and beyond anything the business boys, with their infinitely narrow vision, would be interested in. It's time we start taking proper care of one another and this planet. And that will entail kicking the business boys out of many of the places they have wormed their blind and greedy little ways into. We need to be about people over profits – and corporations are not people, my friends. Forgive me for placing wholly unnecessary emphasis on the entirely fucking obvious.
In the mean time, out-of-control mega-corporations, their coffers overflowing with obscene mountains of misguided moola, on which they have not paid proper taxes, are buying a future without any constraints on their ongoing abuse of humanity and their mindless, senseless and seriously foolish rape of the earth. The final chapter on humankind is being written in the ashes with corporate cash...by idiots and fools.
From the failed Rio summit:
Denouncing the failed Rio document as “the future corporations bought,”...swaths of youth and civil society groups have walked out of the conference center, turning in their badges as they departed.Welcome to the future boys and girls, the future corporations bought because they couldn't be bothered with all that humanity or ecology stuff – there was just no short-term profit in it. And welcome to America, Inc., the stupidest corporate dictatorship money could buy. Thanks SCOTUS. U 2 Congress. And yes, I'm glad SCOTUS didn't overturn the ACA, but upholding a helpful but inadequate health insurance reform law hardly makes up for their Citizens United treachery – not to mention the unmitigated disaster and nightmare curse of George W. Bush. Every 'justice' that voted for either of those traitorous decisions should be immediately impeached IMO.
So now the republicans and their filthy-rich idiot friends can and will buy any election they want badly enough to pay for. We now have democratic activists crying out, “Where are our billionaires?” When having billionaires at our back is our only hope of representation in our own damned government, it's time to face facts. It's game over. Democracy in the USA is deader than a doornail. Sorry Abe. Government of, by and for the people has indeed perished from the earth.
We have ceded power to major-league dumbasses for no better reason than because they're richer than God. Blessed are the filthy rich for they shall run the world...into an enormous honking ditch. But never mind the lunacy. Just get to work you miserable peons! The Donald needs another gold-plated yacht.
To ever really change things you have to first face facts – as difficult as that can sometimes be. Like the fact that our democracy no longer works, and that we'll have to think outside that box to fix it. You can't get things done utilizing methods that stopped working a long time ago. Once we admit that things are broken, we can get around to, 'okay, now what?' Of course, that discussion has been going on for some time, perhaps most notably in recent times in regard to the Occupy Movement, which I recommend that everyone support. It accomplished more good for ordinary people in one season than our political system has done in decades. We need it to be bigger and broader and more demanding for there to be any hope of wresting power from those who refuse to use it responsibly. And this we have to do. We need to quit floundering and get our shit together. We face serious existential challenges that are going ignored. We've got to demand a certain level of efficacy and competence from our government.
Among the unpleasant facts that are going ignored, and currently the most important one there is, is the serious trouble we are in because we have not done what our wisest and brightest have been advising at least since Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was published in 1962. Our smartest people have been desperately trying to inform the idiot hordes that trouble is a brewin'. And still, after all these years, we find even among the smarter members of the idiot hordes those who mock our scientists and seers as doom-headed fools. The failure of human intelligence is stunning. The power of denial is heartbreaking. And the triumph of propaganda is horrifying.
There is no explaining to some people how badly we have screwed ourselves and how imperative it is that we change, not just a little, but a lot. Not in incremental ways but in giant, wrenching, 'let's rethink this whole damned thing' ways. Backing the status quo in any shape, form or fashion is running with the lemmings and voting for the ignoble end of the human race. We need to slam on the brakes in this mindless race to nowhere. We need to implement a whole new paradigm. One that can work. It is not beyond our grasp – or so I want to believe. We could turn things around and rescue our species if we wanted to badly enough. To a large extent we already know what needs to be done, and we're learning more all the time. All we lack is sufficient will to overcome the terrible inertia of a mere handful of way-too-rich, over-pampered greed-headed fools. If there were any justice in this world, they'd be stripped of everything and sent to the local soup kitchen to hang out with their victims.
Global warming and ecological sustainability have to be our first priority...not our last. And we need a government that works, one that will actually and reliably do the right thing. If we settle for less, that's what we'll get. And we can no longer afford to compromise with fools...no matter how inconceivably, embarrassingly, appallingly, shamefully filthy-fucking rich they are. We need to take power out of the hands of the rich. Seriously. They are demonstrably idiots and fools, and will, sure enough, doom us all. You can mock it all you want. You can deny it, disbelieve it or refuse to face it, but you can't change the facts. Every credible scientist in the world says that anthropogenic climate change is reality and one being observed and measured every day all over the earth, and that the effects are greater and happening much faster and sooner than anyone dared predict. Sea level rise, ocean acidification (which receives 40 times less news coverage than the Kardashians), threats to the great ocean currents on which we depend, melting of the polar ice caps, global glacier, tundra and sea ice melt, localized climate disruption and the list goes on. This is all quite serious.
If we don't turn this ship around, and damned skippy, or at least give it the old college try, we don't deserve the moniker, homo sapiens-sapiens. We should heretofore, and for as long as it matters, be known as homo ignoramus - the species that snuffed itself out, even though it knew better, so as not to restrict the divine right of Goldman Sachs and Wal-Mart to rape the earth. After all, The Donald, like literally dozens of others, needs another gold-plated yacht.