Here’s a confession. I read the newspaper every day. And some days are more informative than others. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the news over the last couple of months has been really crappy, almost to the point of where I sometimes suspect that today’s newspaper might have been recycled from a few weeks ago and sold to me as brand new. I’ve been feeling this a lot lately. It’s like there’s no interesting news any more, and that worries me because I’m a newshound, constantly in need of news gratification. So, here’s a quick rehash of what I’ve found to be the “significant” news stories for the immediate past (and present).
1. Justin Beiber did something. Don’t know what it was, but for some reason when he does something, the news wants to tell me about it. I get it. Teen girls like him, mainly because teen girls haven’t matured to a point where their brains actually generate understandable logic. So this “heart throb” did something that may or may not have been controversial, and as a result the media is in a frenzy making sure that we know all about it. I don’t care. Please stop telling me about it. It’s taking up space where I could be reading about…well, honestly, I don’t have anything else I’m following, which is a part of this whole post in the first place. As a corollary, please don’t tell me about Selena Gomez either. The only reason I know who she is is because she’s often mentioned in the same sentence as Justin Bieber, which makes her even less significant than someone I find of absolutely no significance.
2. Congress voted to not vote on anything. That’s about the length of the summary of the latest stories involving Congress. They’ve spent the last two years arguing over how they don’t agree with each other, with the president, with the people, and with the color of the sky. I get it. They don’t get along, and they believe that they need to get rid of the people they don’t get along with in order to get anything done. As a result, they’re going to have to justify their ridiculous salaries and excellent health benefits (which are the not the same as anyone they vote to approve health benefits for, such as the poor, the military or, well, anyone else), so they need to pretend to be doing something. And because the media can’t just report: TODAY, CONGRESS PROVED IT’S USELESS AND DID NOTHING, they report all of the horse race crap, and we end up with stories that tell us absolutely nothing.
3. School shootings are on the increase. I’m not happy about this, and at the same time I kind of want to stop hearing about it because statistically, they’re not actually increasing. We’re just hearing more about them because they fit the “if it’s on fire, then it’s a story” paradigm of national news outlets. Most people don’t realize that kids have been stupid for about as long as kids have been around. What is different is that the media is in such a need of stories to fill a 24 hour news cycle that whenever someone shoots someone, pulls out a gun, draws a picture of a gun, bullies someone, thinks about bullying someone, says mean things, or whatever, we’re going to hear a national story about it. And then commentators are going to get on the news and talk about the “tragedy” and how it never used to be that way “back in my day”. Yes, it was. It just didn’t happen in your particular school at the time you’re remembering back on. But it happened in the school down the street, which means that “back in your day” these things were happening but because they didn’t happen in YOUR school, you weren’t paying attention, and because most people didn’t pay attention to news back then (as most of it was from the 3 networks and boring as hell), there’s a belief that it was much different back then. Statistically, the only thing that really changed was we have more access to national information than we had before, which means that something that happens in Colorado when you live in New York gets put in front of your TV screen, making you feel that it’s happening in your neighborhood, when it’s thousands of miles away from where you live.
4. The most important story in the country is gay marriage. Well, you’d get that impression from the amount of rhetoric focused on it. Yes, I agree that it should be an important story, but it’s not really, and it affects so few people in comparison to the grand total of people who think they’re affected. Disclaimer: I’m not gay, which means that the issues involved in this continuously involving “issue” doesn’t actually affect me. Reality: That’s not completely true. It does affect me, but not in the way that seems to be the focus of so much attention. Let me explain.
You see, there are people in the world who are not heterosexual. I’m not one of them, yet because I’m heterosexual, if I was a total dweeb and rude person, I could say that how someone lives his or her own life somehow has an impact on my life. Reality: It doesn’t. If two men want to marry each other, and they live next door to me, the total effect after doing all of the mathematics is…um, zero. What does affect me is how much noise they make playing their stereo, or in what seems to be my personal experience, how much of a complaint they have about the fact that I sometimes play mine too loud. You might notice that how loud their stereo is has absolutely NO connection to whether or not they happen to be gay or straight. So, their impact AS A RESULT OF THEM BEING GAY, is none.
Then the argument comes in about how gay marriage somehow diminishes the status of marriage in general. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I believe that divorce has a much larger impact on the status of marriage. I feel that if NO ONE ever got divorced, then marriage would be sanctified and never in fear of danger. Not only that, I think that if spouses NEVER cheated on each other, then marriage would be strengthened that much better. So, from now on, I think that anytime someone talks about a divorce, that person should be shunned, thrown out of the country and declared a heathen of all good thinking Americans. Come to think of it, if people didn’t get married in the first place, then perhaps the fear of divorce would never happen, which would strengthen the very value of partnership. Or perhaps partnership is the problem, and that it’s kind of unnatural, as God originally intended for every person to be alone, which is why He didn’t create people as partners but designed each person to be capable of functioning without another person. I’m sure there’s a verse somewhere in one of the many different interpretations of religious texts out there that says exactly that, although it might say it in different words that need to be translated by some priest who has spent too much time reading the book and pretty much nothing else.
The point: How does the way someone else lives affect me when it doesn’t have an effect on me? I can have all sorts of bad feelings about how someone else lives, but I guarantee that someone else is probably having bad feelings about the way I live for some random reason, no matter how wonderful I live my life in the constant vigilance to the ideals put forward by the Shania (if my religion happens to be the worship of all things Shania Twain). Unfortunately, no matter what you do, someone else is going to disagree with how you live your life and think that he or she knows better than you do, and then for bizarre reasons DEMAND you live another way. I like the old George Carlin belief system that people need to just leave people alone (to paraphrase several great speeches he’s given over the years).
5. Which brings me to the story lines of national politics. As I read stories on national news, I find absolutely nothing in the way of interest for any story because none of them make a single difference to me whatsoever. The stories that do are glossed over and treated as afterthoughts, meaning no one seems to care about things we should care about. So, what kinds of subjects should we hear about. Well, I have a few:
A. Health care. I’m not talking about Obamacare or how badly the health care exchanges were implemented. Although I will say that those stories COULD have started off a conversation about things that NEED to be discussed, but never will. What needs to be discussed then? Cost. Health insurance is expensive, and it shouldn’t be. Because our government has taken a hands off approach for so long, we have the worst health care system in the world, aside from dictatorships that use firing squads as a health care remedy. For the first and second world, our health care is abysmal because we allowed the whole system to evolve from a really bad premise to begin with. Government has been playing catch up with our system since day one, and that means that any solutions aren’t going to happen from half measures; the whole system needs a restart and the old money profiteers need to be put out of the system so that we can put together something that shows we are, in fact, the one first world nation in all ways. What does that mean? Everyone gets health care covering pretty much everything they need. We start to create a system that is proactive rather than reactive, meaning that you don’t seek health care for the first time AFTER you’re already starting to get sick. One of our largest problems in this country is diabetes, which if you understand the disease, all of our efforts to combat it are to alleviate the symptoms, and that’s it. We do the same thing for cancer. Instead of massive money being spent on “curing” cancer, most of our procedures are designed around helping people “live with cancer” instead. I don’t advocate stopping the reactive measures, but I’d really like to see us work on the proactive measures. This would mean a completely change to our health care mentality, and that’s never going to happen as long as these decisions are being made by people who are so indoctrinated by this payment system plan, because they are completely incapable of seeing any other alternative. And a personal belief of mine is that pharmaceutical companies might be a huge part of the problem as well, although there’s lots of room for debate in that one. An example: I was dealing with some depression issues a few years back and went to a therapist, who I immediately discontinued seeing because her “solution” to practically everything was medication. I didn’t need medication to stop being depressed. I needed to feel better about my situation by finding solutions to my situation. Medication was a stupid solution, but this therapist saw no other alternative. A friend of mine was diagnosed with “stress” and prescribed lots of medication. She started on it for a few months before she dumped it and took an alternative route NOT condoned by her prescriber. Her “new” route consisted of paying for massages, and she’s doing a lot better these days. The interesting side bar to that is that her health coverage didn’t cover massage therapy but did cover medication. Again, the eye is on the wrong ball, and as long as we’re a part of this system, it’s never going to change.
B. Elections and Representation. Every election you hear people start complaining about how so few people participate int eh voting process. There’s a reason for that. It’s not because they’re apathetic, happy with the system as is, or lazy. Many people don’t participate because they don’t feel they have a voice, no matter how hard political parties try to convince them otherwise. This was seen during the whole Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements. In case you weren’t completely following what was happening, people were dissatisfied with government and their lack of influence on it, so they tried mobilizing outside of the power structure that already exists. What they discovered was that the entrenched power system gave them no voice, and when they made a stink about it, the powers that be ridiculed the protesters and treated them as crazy people. Occupy Wall Street was defeated early in its infancy as the media treated it as a joke, constantly ridiculing its members by pointing out that they had no better ideas, were disorganized and weren’t making any headway in their protests. Having watched the back and forth, I came away with a different perspective, albeit a more economic one. The media responded as the powerful business interests they were, seeing Occupy Wall Street as a financial threat, which caused the media to treat them as outliers and a humorous joke. Wall Street itself, responded in kind, as they were the financial target of these people who were upset with how there has been little oversight over economic impact issues from this part of the political system, and because of such a response, there never will be.
The Tea Party has been an even more interesting animal, mainly because this was a protest from an actual economic power base that couldn’t be ignored in the same way. Remember, Occupy Wall Street was coming from the poor, disenfranchised side of the political spectrum, much easier to knock its wind out right from the beginning. But the Tea Party was a disorganized response to dissatisfaction from the political right, which is inhabited by those with financial clout, meaning the people Occupy Wall Street were actually protesting against. As they were now organized against OWS, they came about immediately after with a power base that demanded the Republican Party (its main level of constituency) to respond. As a result, they’ve entrenched themselves as a part of that party. What we’re starting to discover is that they only represent an elite economic power base, which has its own representation mainly because it can afford to make its message known through financial clout during elections. We’re starting to see this with their attacks on Obamacare, and specifically the members of the Senate who supported it. We’re going to see a lot more of this in the months to come.
But what it means is that the average person has less and less touching of the strings of government. And this means that as we move closer to the next election, people have come away from these previous two movements convinced that nothing is going to change because when they did try to become organized, nothing happened, unless they were already rich and powerful. To participate in that environment is a lesson in futility, and nothing that either political party says is going to change that. The Republicans don’t have any intentions of representing the disenfranchised, having sold their souls to the very franchised economic elite, and the Democratic Party is counting on these disenfranchised souls to somehow embolden them with the ability to maintain power in a system that still rewards the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor and disenfranchised. Basically, the Democrats have to convince people who bought into “hope and change” that more years of their control will somehow bring about “hope and change” when the originator of that message did very little for them other than try and fail. The alternative is to opt out of participation, and sadly enough the expectation is that rhetoric can somehow make this different. Good luck on that.
C. The economic future. This is really what should be the main focus right now. There is no lack of books on the concept of low-hanging fruit that has disappeared from the process, meaning that all of our advantages we used to have available (like continued open spaces for colonizing land, economic opportunities for business growth, and access to untapped natural resources) are practically gone. We no longer produce new things but seem to have fallen into a rut of continuous reinvention of old things, like the consumer electronics show that instead of showing us new technologies on the horizon continues to show us new variations of television sets that keep reinventing the old technology. When every house in America that needs a television has pretty much already bought one, we’re forcing a false need on people that they’re no longer responding to with checkbooks. The last few major advancements in technology that drove need have been around for some time (televisions, microwave ovens, computers and cellphones), meaning that we’re not producing anything that’s changing the paradigm to move us towards new need. Sure, you can argue the iPad was a new invention of this nature, but it just gathered a number of different products and combined them into one, which, if you think about it, actually is a step back on the production of new things list. As long as our future consists of combinations and reinventions of old things, we don’t have a lot of progress to take advantage of, which would explain why industry innovation has focused a lot more on consolidation than progress, meaning the idea of expansion by robotizing a labor force and outsourcing to countries where its cheaper to produce something.
Anyway, this has gotten much longer than I originally intended to write, so I’ll stop there for now. I would hope, by now, the basic idea has been relayed.