Every time we come close to a major national election, I’m left scratching my head at the innane subjects that end up becoming “important” politically. You know the things I’m talking about. Stuff like abortion, stem cell research, soccer moms and legalizing marijuana. Sure, some people find them important, but for the most part, they’re fringe topics that tend to get people galvanized around unimportant issues that end up costing votes for elections. And we fall for it every time. So, I decided to look into a couple of topics I thought SHOULD be issues, and then ask if you have any thoughts or ideas of your own.
1. While the economy is an important subject, just focusing on “the economy” or “jobs” are useless endeavors because they really don’t get down to the point of actually doing anything. Sure, I could run for office and say “Duane is FOR a good economy and believes we SHOULD put people to work! So vote me for me!” Sadly enough, a bunch of politicians are probably already preparing their campaigns to say almost that. In rhetoric, it works great. In substance, well, not so much. Mainly because it doesn’t mean anything. Killing puppies is bad, but no one is actually advocating killing puppies, so getting on the side of the pro-puppy crowd doesn’t lead anywhere but to banal arguments that don’t lead anywhere. That’s the economy problem.
So, if I was going to talk about fixing the economy, I could probably focus on taxes, even though those often fall into banal areas as well, because then we end up in a pro-left “more taxes” or pro-right “taxes are bad”. Instead, I say that we k now that taxes are inevitable, so why don’t we focus on what exactly we’re taxing in the first place. And I don’t mean whom, such as rich versus poor. Yeah, I think the rich could probably afford to pay more taxes, but let’s be honest and think about the possibility that perhaps that’s not exactly right either. While they CAN afford more taxes, is it really right to say they SHOULD be paying more taxes? While I could argue that they’ve probably benefited more from capitalism than someone who is poor (which WOULD be a good argument), I’m going to take a different tact and focus on what should be taxed, because I think there are avenues where we are completely missing the boat.
Here me out here. What I propose is that we legalize prostitution and then tax anything and everything that has any ties to sexual barter exchanges. Right now, there is a HUGE blackmarket industry that is nothing but this type of behavior, and the only reason we don’t tax it is because the people who would pay those taxes are afraid to report it because they’d probably then get arrested for all sorts of blue laws we have instituted in our scared of sex morality that exists in our society. Face it. There are people paying other people for sexual behavior, some of it pretty innocent and some of it pretty damn bizarre involving all sorts of devices, machines, trapeze-apparatus mechanisms and some involving things that still shock the crap out of me. But I know it takes place because there are people out there doing it and enjoying it. None of them are evil, bad, dishonest or any other letter-wearing designation either. They’re normal people who have decided that that is how they interact with each other. And some people throw a fit because it doesn’t fit into their sense of morality.
Get over it. If you don’t like it, don’t participate in it. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be acknowledging it and taxing it. Believe me, there’s a LOT of money that changes hands here in this area, and once it becomes legal, you start to clean it up as well. Sure, people are still going to do their naughty things, but legalizing it gets organized crime, gangs and predators out of the business. It also allows women to have an easier avenue to protect themselves from some of the problematic people out there who prey on them because they figure the illegal nature of the business keeps them from every having to face justice.
Now, we could also legalize drugs, but at the same time I realize there’s a more health-related problem involved here that needs to be dealt with. Perhaps if we went into it with all eyes open, we might see drug behavior as a problem that needs to be dealt with through therapy and positive actions, rather than having someone try to get off drugs while in lockdown, waiting for his court case for possessing illegal substances.
2. International Diplomacy. We haven’t gotten this right in over a hundred years now. We’re still dealing with foreign entities as if we’re still part of the Napoleonic era. Governments aren’t that way any more. Major powers don’t really deal with each other on the international stage as they used to with detente and brinkmanship. What is needed is a different perspective, involving a more game theoretic foundation of tit for tat and compliance understanding than “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” nonsense. If you look at the problems the US is having with Middle Eastern countries, almost all of them stem from brinkmanship and religious intolerance (from both sides) than it does from actually attempting to engage with people as part of a give and take relationship. Right now, our foreign policy has more to do with where we might get our next barrel of oil than it does with how we get along with people who like types of music you can find on iTunes, yet much of our actual engagement comes from those avenues through social networking sites than they ever will through economic business ties being handled by corporate entities trying to corner the market on petroleum.
Years ago, I used to have disagreements with a young man who was fresh from Iran (shortly after the Shah was deposed). He was a strongly ideological Persian who believed in east versus west superiority (for whatever reasons, which surprisingly were not religious), but we actually became friends and arguments and conflicts practically ended overnight when I discovered he was a fan of Madonna, and I managed to get him a copy of Madonna’s “Sex” book that he so wanted but couldn’t bring it to himself to buy for himself. To be honest, I never heard an anti-western comment from him after the day he received that book. While I can’t verify he still didn’t feel that way, it was amazing what a sea change was made over such a simplistic gesture.
That our government has NEVER figured this out shocks me more and more as the world becomes a much more dangerous place while still moving towards some bizarre sense of a global economy.
3. Education. This, to me, is probably the most important issue that our country should be dealing with on a daily basis, almost with the same sense we gave to putting men on the Moon. Our whole country should be rallied around the idea of improving our educational system not so that we somehow obtain minimal standards, but that we start to surpass the very dreams we had back in the 1960s about the great civilization we hoped to one day become. Children should be taught calculus by sixth grade as a standardization and expectation because it should be almost second nature. Parents should be irrate that their children don’t know more than they did at their age and do everything possible to make sure that we don’t continue to churn out stupid people. Reality show programming should be seen as the embarrassment to America that it really is, instead of some kind of ideal that people look up to. My god, there are people who want to be Snooki and the Situation, and somehow seem proud of that. College should be an expectation for all, not because it’s an enlightened goal of the few, but because it’s necessary to build a society of free thinkers who should be challenging everyone about practically everything. I would like to see a presidential debate that is moderated by the audience who shows up to the event wanting to know the answers to real questions, not just packaged answers to questions pre-screened by candidate panels beforehand.
That’s all I’ll go with for now, because now I’ve depressed myself as I realize we’re never going to achieve any of this, and we’re doomed to go another century with people striving for the lowest standards possible, mainly because they never learned to challenge themselves.