I am headed towards my second year of my PhD and have been fighting being pigeonholed for my entire career. I have been fighting the propensity in the scientific world for academics to specialize or over-specialize. My feeling is that, as exciting as it would be to be the world’s most renowned expert on the humped bladderwort, might it not also be valuable to know something of the soils, water and system that the bladderwort is supported by? Every year my advisors try to narrow my focus down to a single species view while I fight to keep my scope and education as broad as possible. My thinking, my belief, is that we need folks that, might, understand the whole picture too and not just the individual myriad pieces of a puzzle. We need people who can bring all of the constituent pieces together and find out how they work together. We also need individuals that are able to bring together all of these schools of thought and the ever increasing anthropogenic influences and be able to explain or relate these concepts to the general public.
This thinking has served me well. I took a decade off of academia and started my own land management company. I started off with more pure forestry but quickly branched off into general land management and environmental restoration. To do this, and do it well, someone who knew how to tie all pieces of complete environmental restoration together was needed at the helm. It was with this background and experience that I went back to school with when the economic bubble burst.
More below the muffin thing. . .
So why am I an independent?
I don’t like being pigeonholed. I see others going to vote and they go in and out of the booth in seconds, obviously voting down party lines without a thought and it bothers me. I like choices and really believe in more shades of grey than just black and white. I do not like a bicameral system and long for more of a choice than the often ‘Bad’ and ‘Worse’.
We are the products of the times and places in which we are raised and I grew up on a Midwestern farm in the seventies. Some of what I carry with me from my upbringing is that both Republicans and Democrats suck at fiscal constraint and responsibility. I know that under the ‘leadership’ of Reagan the national debt nearly tripled and that under Bush I and Bush II the debt doubled again and again. Before, between, and during major portions of those terms Democrats did control one or both of the houses and no one, Republican or Democrat, paid down the debt in that time.
Democrats had control of Congress for generations and utterly failed to accomplish their primary responsibility even once—to pass a BALANCED budget. As a note, to me a balanced budget would be one that also allocates funds for all your debts and obligations instead of adding to them. In short, if the debt is ever to be paid off, we must start making payments on the principle and not just continuously borrowing more.
Politicians and pundits throw about this notion of a balanced budget and for some, lower, portions of our political spectrum this has even become their sole mantra, but what we actually need is much more than that. To cover long-term habitual overspending, what is needed, at some point, is massive under-spending.
People never like the spinach but there it is. The only way to ever get rid of an accrued debt would be to start paying on it and the sooner the better.
I am not (totally) naïve. I realize that the economy runs in cycles of weal and woe. While running my company, I saved during times of plenty and hedged against the days when the phone might stop ringing. Aside from a lack of high income and corporate taxation, the fiscal problems we are having now also stem from the fact that during the financial booms, we spend, and during the bust, we spend more. I really do believe that if we started taxing higher level income brackets and all corporations uniformly and appropriately, and quit spending more than the next ten countries combined on our military, we could easily bank a trillion or two for a rainy day and be on our way to being debt free.
So why do I lean Democratic?
I blame Maslow. . .The Hierarchy of Needs. Among other things, my Dad and Grandpa were both foresters but more of ‘wise use’ foresters really. They both also belonged to different unions at different parts of their lives. Growing up and watching how strong unions lift all boats, even the non union shops, and understanding that we can actually utilize resources without abusing them. I do lean towards helping others and leaving the Earth in, hopefully, better shape than when I came here. I believe that we all deserve the basics—the first floor of Maslow’s Pyramid. I am even fond of the notion of having an express escalator to the second or third floors if we can manage it.
I am an environmentalist and realize that this world and the resources upon and in the Earth are finite and, therefore, understand that our numbers, human population, are too many. For things to truly be sustainable, we need fewer people. Any rancher knows what happens when you put 40 sheep in a pasture that can only support 20, starvation and death—perhaps of the entire population. The only political party with any common sense when it comes to population control is the Democratic Party. The Republicans say that since Roe VS Wade we have killed over 50 million Americans with abortion. If those pregnancies would have come to term, who would have cared for them? Where would they have lived? What of their children and their children’s children? Generationally speaking, we are easily talking about another 100 million people in The United States.
I think it was Churchill that said Democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others that have been tried and I was always taught that if something is broken you can complain about it, or pick up a hammer and help fix it. This is our Democracy, my democracy, and it is broken. For years while getting my masters I taught entry level environmental classes. Each new semester brought 150 new students to my lecture hall from all walks of life. Of that 150, a full third each semester have been duped, purposely misled to believe that science and scientists are not to be trusted. I don’t care what a person believes as long as the base of their beliefs is rooted in fact. The idea that a full third of our population has been purposely misled really irks me. My nemeses are the fomenters of disinformation and apathy.
What brings me to the Kossacks?
Like many, I have been reading here for a long time. I like the articles and it is very nice to have finally found a place with like minded individuals. It is comforting to know I am not alone. The reason that I did not immediately join is because I had a fear of a closed echo chamber. I know that The Daily Kos does do lots of different forms of outreach, but I feel that many times that there is a danger of just preaching to the choir and not reaching those that can still be reached.
So I fight.
I go on websites and fight the paid posters from the Koch brothers and from Fox and the duped lemmings that have been trained to follow. I fight lies with truth and disinformation with facts. Often, I feel like I am doing it alone. Between classes, lab, and fieldwork, I go on websites and do what I can. I put up a post here and there and thumbs up the replies that are based in reality and thumbs down the progenitors of lies but I am smart enough to know when I am losing a fight.
I need help.
What you have here is great and it is growing but I feel you could do more. The choir is here and it is getting bigger but we need to reach a bigger audience and the sooner the better. There are experts of every field represented here among the Kossacks, more than enough to print factual support of stories put forth every day on every major website. The folks that do not have the expertise but still know fact from fallacy could, in the least, give a thumbs up to replies of quality and thumbs down the gibberish.
Everyone reads the comments.
Only the top comments, the ones with the most replies and thumbs up, get the top real estate under each story. These are often the only replies that get read by Millions of viewers and what these comments put forth has a real bearing on national public opinion. The Koch Brothers know this and Fox Corp knows this and their cohorts have been monopolizing this technique for years now. We need to do what Democrats do best. We need to organize at the grassroots level and monopolize every article with the truth, based in substantiated peer-reviewed facts, and then we need to bump that truth to the top with positive reinforcement. All it would take is a few hundred dedicated people doing something as silly as reading and clicking and we could win this war and, as an added bonus, make the Kochs and Fox Corp waste millions of dollars in labor.
If they can do it, so can we.