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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 education

(not a complete list)

Argentina
Brazil
Denmark
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Malta
Mauritius
Morocco
Norway
Scotland
Sri Lanka
Sweden
Trinidad and Tobago
Barbados
Kenya
Peru

But 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?

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. 

The Road to Rio

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.

Lincoln-Memorial-Peace-Out-OPOL-72dpi

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Comment Preferences

  •  I was about to turn 12 when JFK was killed. (21+ / 0-)

    I remember how I conceived of America before that, how bright and shiny it seemed in my youthful imagination, how fraught with possibility it seemed and how full of wonderment. I was in love with the fact that my father was a soldier. I can remember sometimes when I contemplated my special relationship to this incredible nation, being so filled with joy that it ached. Of course, I'd been taught that we were always and forever the good guys. And I believed baby! I believed!

    It took me a lifetime to realize just how screwed up we really are, past and present, and how many things there are to be completely fed up with.

    But now I know.

    P.S. Got a slight carpal tunnel flare up going on. So I may be of few words in the thread, but thanks to one and all for reading.

    •  I was in 6th grade when JFK died.. I was 58 (5+ / 0-)

      when I read The Shock Doctrine and the American dream facade crushed my belief system about the USA..and I was in grade school when I pooh-poohed religion..

      The truth hurts but easier to live with than fairy tales.

      "Time is for careful people, not passionate ones."

      "Life without emotions is like an engine without fuel."

      by roseeriter on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 10:20:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The myth of exceptionalism (5+ / 0-)

      has covered a multitude of sins:

      Slavery
      Genocide of Native peoples
      Exploitation of children, women and the poor in the workforce
      Crony and Disaster Capitalism
      Imperialism - past and present
      Continuing racism and bigotry
      The rise of a Theocratic Movement that for all intents and purposes is fascist in its agenda

      We have been lucky to have a few exceptional leaders such as Lincoln and FDR at moments of extreme crisis in our history.  But continuing to trust to luck (or the myth of great men) is a dangerous illusion.  We have the greatest military in the world and what has it done to benefit the vast majority of Americans over the last fifty years?

      Damn little.  Other countries invested in their people, we chose to invest in weapons and Wall Street.  We are sowing the bitter harvest of those decisions as we plummet ever further down toward less individual freedom, less democracy, greater income inequality, lower standards of living and a bleaker future for our children and grandchildren.

      "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

      by Steven D on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 10:52:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  lew welch (8+ / 0-)

    put it simply, and best:

    "Profit motive" means very simply: you give less than you take. If you give less than you take, you grow mean and stingy. Everybody suffers. Morality is totally impossible.
    As for Armed Forces Week, your image of the Lincoln Memorial brings to mind the reaction of WWII South Pacific combat veteran James Jones to that edifice, as related by his friend William Styron:
    Jim’s face was set like a slab, his expression murky and aggrieved, as we stood on the marble reading the Gettysburg Address engraved against one lofty wall, slowly scanning those words of supreme magnanimity and conciliation and brotherhood dreamed by the fellow Illinoisian whom Jim had venerated, as almost everyone does, for transcendental reasons that needed not to be analyzed or explained in such a sacred hall. I suppose I was expecting the conventional response from Jim, the pious hum. But his reaction, soft-spoken, was loaded with savage bitterness, and for an instant it was hard to absorb. “It’s just beautiful bullshit,” he blurted. “They all died in vain. They all died in vain. And they always will!”
    Good diary, opol.
  •  And tomorrow (6+ / 0-)

    we can all blow us up some shit real goooood.  Maybe even burn down a few homes.  

    My neighborhood is very "patriotic".  They just love them there reasons to hoot and holler it up.  Only one of my neighbors actually served.  The rest all have flags, yellow ribbons on their cars, boats, around basketball hoops and even on their dog's collars.  Dress their kids up in camo cause it's sooooo cool.

    Few years back, an older man returned from Iraq and was living around the corner with his Mom due to returning and getting a divorced.  His mom came around and asked neighbors to please not blow up those M-80s and other loud and highly illegal fireworks BEFORE the 4th.  (Here they start their pyro crap weeks before and a few days after).  Well, the neghbors said they had teh freedumb to be all patriotic and shit.  What kind of a soldier would dare to ask them to be quiet up untill the 4th?  PTSD? Fuck that shit, man.... this is a holiday.  It's beer drinking, finger burning time.

    Last year my daughter was out in the hood to raise money for Loaves and Fishes - the Meals on Two Wheels folks.  It was two weeks before the fourth.  She got some doors slammed in her face, two of em.  She made a pittance.  But she sat in seething anger when she saw the same people who said they didn't have any money to give to feed people, literally burning money on July 4th.  Huge fireworks, the kind you have to shoot up in the air - like you see at county shows.  

    I hate July 4th.  It shows how fucked up our priorities are.  Booze, Bombs and Burning.  Maybe a few BBQs but really... it's about "blowing sheeet up".  

    We sit outside and light a few ourselves, the safe and sane ones whose profits got to her old school.  We're sitting outside with a firehose anyways...  several "accidents" happen in my neighborhood this time of year.  But ever notice the patriotic fireworks?  All showing military shit, flags, one fountain had the Statue of Liberty.  All made in China.  

    That soldier?  Few years back, he was shot by our police as he came out of his Mom's house as ordered.  My entire street was cordoned off.  Seems he was going to kill himself so cops were called.  Cops came, they killed him.  

    Red, White and Boom.  

    This "holiday" seems like a real dud to me.

    (((OPOL))))

    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." ~Jimi Hendrix

    by Damnit Janet on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 10:29:30 AM PDT

  •  Hi OPOL. Great minds think alike :) (4+ / 0-)

    I just wrote a diary on this student loan forgiveness and cited the very same countries that offer free higher education. Thanks for reccing it and giving me a tip in the tipjar

    I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    I think it is imperative to support the principles outlined in occupy student debt:

    The Four Principles/Beliefs
    * Tuition-Free Public Higher Education
    The single, largest step we could take to alleviate future student loan debt would be to guarantee tuition-free education for students enrolled at public colleges and universities. In the case of systems in California and New York that were formerly free, this would be a restoration of the status quo. For others, it would be a restoration of the spirit of the GI Bill, which provided a free college education to tens of millions, and established U.S. higher education as a democratic gold standard worldwide. According to a recent estimate, drawn from Department of Education data, the cost of covering tuition at all the nation’s two- and four-year colleges and universities would be about $70 billion. Put in the perspective of the federal budget, a recent audit found that the Pentagon “wastes” this sum in unaccountable spending every year. Ending the Bush tax cuts ($80 billion annually) would easily cover this cost.
    * Zero-Interest Student Loans
    Student loans are not consumer loans, and they should not be packaged as if they were consumer credit debt. At a time when a university degree is considered to be a prerequisite for employment in the knowledge economy, debt, for most students, is a precondition for entry into the workforce. They cannot work unless they have gone into debt–a condition akin to indenture. This arrangement does not correspond in any meaningful way to a consumer choice. Zero-interest student loans are the only justifiable kind of lending under these circumstances. The current scenario, in which government agencies, banks, and other private lenders set extortionate rates and extract lavish profits is corrupt and abhorrent.
    * Private Colleges Must Open Their Books
    Students at private and for-profit universities and colleges have a fundamental right to know how their tuition dollars are being allocated and spent. These institutions are fiscally dependent on student loan debt, they enjoy a tax-free status, and they are beneficiaries of federal largesse in all sorts of ways. Withholding information about the conduct of their fiscal affairs is a violation of the ethos of shared governance and transparency that liberal institutions like universities should be promoting, and practicing.
    * Student Debt Written Off In The Spirit of Jubilee
    The student loan industry has profited from borrower vulnerability through predatory lending practices such as compounding interest rates, high collection fees, and few consumer protections. Inflating tuition costs have been financed through student debt that will soon exceed 1 trillion dollars. The morality of perpetuating this unjust system by continuing to pay these predatory loans is questionable. In times of fuller employment, the student loan debt system has yielded no end of private suffering and humiliation for at least two generations of debtors. In a time of chronic underemployment–and the worst may be yet to come–the burden is beyond tolerance. Immediate forgiveness in the spirit of a jubilee, where the injustice of an unpayable debt is redeemed through a single, corrective act, is the only just response to this crisis.
    http://www.occupystudentdebtcampaign.org/....
  •  the list is indeed not complete (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    One Pissed Off Liberal, Justus

    Can you add Germany to the ones who have free post-secundary education ? I know people don't like to say something positive about Germany, but ... we have it, so why not say it.

  •  this is refrfershing (2+ / 0-)

    sad that it sounds radical to speak the truth

    when I see a republican on tv, I always think of Monty Python: "Shut your festering gob you tit! Your type makes me puke!"

    by bunsk on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 12:17:59 PM PDT

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