Issues of common sense

Posted on 05.09.2011

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I’ve had it in my head that I should write something on this topic for a few days now, but I was having trouble organizing EXACTLY what my problem was (still is) into bullet points.

So I’ll start with the catalysts.
I read the NYTimes editorial, A Bad Call on Ozone, which was about Obama’s decision not to press onward with stricter air-quality rules. He apparently plans to put that off for another few years. I appreciate his confidence about the upcoming election, and I hope he’s right, based on what I’ll share below.

I also read an Op-Ed piece in the same NYTimes edition called In Honor of Teachers. It was Charles Blow’s personal account of how one teacher helped him to regain his confidence when none before had.

Those were the two articles that made me feel like I needed to write. I’m having major issues with the US lately. Not the ENTIRE US, mind you, but what it appears some people believe, some people think is necessary and what many seem to find unnecessary. I know that this isn’t a problem with the entire population, but I think that lately we’ve been too lenient with the amount of coverage and time we give to people who spout or believe absolute nonsense.

Take, for example, the ideas of creation and intelligent design. On their own, they’re harmless (to a certain degree) and people are allowed to believe whatever they want. But when some people or politicians start pushing for either or both of these to be taught IN SCIENCE CLASSES in schools alongside their SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN friend, evolution, that’s where I have a problem. There is not one ounce of proof, from a scientific standpoint, for either of the first two, and they don’t belong in the science curriculum. They belong in the religion and theology classes, as this is where they came from. As a note, the Supreme Court made this decision, not to allow creation and intelligent design into science classes. Glad the system works sometimes.

Another example is abstinence-only sex education. Apparently NONE of the people pushing this topic remember what it is like to be a parent. You tell kids not to do something, they’re going to go ahead and do it, and make sure you don’t find out about it. Abstinence-only education doesn’t work, and the worst thing you can do to your kids is take away the knowledge of what can and will happen. Why would anyone do this to our younger generations? What this really boils down to is trying to push the moral values of a few onto the entire nation, one state at a time. I’m thankful these decisions aren’t made at the federal level.

Then, there’s the issue of how we are treating our teachers. Teaching is a thankless job most of the time, but it’s a job that is really needed in all countries. You can’t have an informed public without education. We should really be paying public servants like teachers and law enforcement much more than they are getting now, and they should have good benefits AND BARGAINING RIGHTS. How are we going to attract the next generation of teachers if the conditions aren’t worth it? How are we going to make giving all of our time and energy to teaching the next generations worth it? It’s not going to happen if we cut funding, as some have suggested, to our schools, who are already struggling.

Finally, there’s the issue of climate change. Just about the entire scientific community agrees and stands behind the facts: the earth is getting warmer, and it’s most likely due to human action. I’ll say this: America seems to be the ONLY country that is turning this into some political conspiracy theory (in order to use for the upcoming elections). In Europe there is no denial. There is not political battle. The earth IS getting warmer, we need to do something, YESTERDAY.

It is so frustrating to watch where America is going on issues like these. It’s frustrating to watch people bicker over the federal funding of Planned Parenthood while we spend upwards of BILLIONS per year just on the air-conditioning of the barracks for our troops overseas.

Instead of cutting into military spending, or pulling our people out of places where the US doesn’t belong, politicians want to cut Medicare and Medicaid, cut spending on schools, cut health funding for the poor and women. Meanwhile, they also make sure large companies don’t have to pay taxes like the rest of the citizens do. What kind of country is that? Who do they really care about, if they’re making those choices? They don’t care about you and me.

If you look at what all of these funding cuts could do to the people in a generation or two, you’ll see a poor, unhealthy and uneducated lower class. Possibly even the middle class, if it still even exists at that point.

If you take what Ghandi said into account: “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members“, then America isn’t aspiring to any kind of greatness. And this makes me sick, and angry, and scared for my friends and family who are still there.

This morning I read this post, Political Science: Why Rejecting Expertise Has Become a Campaign Strategy, and it all kind of clicked into place. This IS a campaign strategy, but it’s also something that has been going on for a while.

I’m only 30. The first presidential election I really remember was when G.W. Bush ran the first time. But I specifically remember him playing up the ‘hick, farmer’ act to the people. I remember thinking that he was trying to prove how much ‘like you’ (more to a point, ‘like his base of voters’) he was. I remember being really annoyed, because there was no way he was really like that. It was all an act. Whether or not that alone won him an election is not the topic, though. The topic is how the right side of politics is going SO FAR to the right in order to keep that minority base of theirs happy. They’re going balls-to-the-wall religious and uneducated on us, and if that’s what they’re going to do, I hope they lose the election just to learn what a small minority that happens to be.

Yeah, they get a lot of news coverage and they might swing some people who really ARE uneducated, but that’s not the way the rest of the country sees itself (I hope) and regardless of who the other option is, I’m pretty certain the rest of the country will take it, as they did with Obama, rather than have four years of beating our education and medical systems to a bloody pulp while building up the strength of our military to astronomical levels.

Obama’s had a rough presidency. And honestly, any democrat in his position would have. No one could get anything done with the houses being occupied as they currently are. I think Obama could do great things, if he gets re-elected, but I wouldn’t mind seeing another democratic candidate in the field as well. Or at least someone with some common sense. One thing is certain, though: if some super right-wing nutjob gets elected, I WILL apply for citizenship over here. Because at that point, America will be lost.

America might not realize it yet, but their time at the top is already over. America is going to have to learn to share, or learn to deal with it as Japan and England have. What America needs to do now is focus on getting itself back to a level of greatness. That means better education, better healthcare funding and help for the poorest citizens, and fixing our immigration issues. It also means taxing corporations as they should be taxed, and getting rid of lobbyists. It doesn’t mean fighting more wars and playing world police while people at home are starving and without electricity thanks to the latest natural disaster.

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