The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

THEY “GONNA PUT YA’LL BACK IN CHAINS”

Some people think Vice President Joe Biden is merely inept and insensitive.  I think that he’s planning a second career as a script writer for SNL should he and President Obama’s bid for re-election fail.  So far he’s managed to offend blacks, Greeks, and Indians (the kind that he thinks were destined to own and operate 7-11’s) and can it be a long wait until he starts telling Pollock jokes?

What the Vice President doesn’t understand is that there is some truth in his statement, that blacks are “Gonna get put back in chains.”  The part of the statement that he doesn’t comprehend is that is exactly the case now and has become increasingly more so under the greatest expansionist of the “Welfare State,” President Barack Obama.

Welfare is perhaps the greatest oxymoron in our language.  Very simply put – it isn’t.  It is indentured servitude and has created a permanent underclass with no education, no future and no hope.  It allows people to subsist below the poverty level in an environment of despair, overcrowded housing conditions and with exposure to personal violence that, if we were to see their real lives portrayed on television, we would be horrified.

This is not the “Good Times” of Esther Rolle and Jimmie Walker, living in a housing project in Chicago and keeping it together as a family.  That is an image that does not stand up to the reality of the average black welfare recipient’s life – a life which includes poor medical care and an insufficient income to feed the family which is headed up by a mother with no father present in more than seven of ten cases.

This is a story about a life where the children born into it experience a nationwide drop out rate from high school of nearly seventy percent and a teenage pregnancy rate that is six times the national average – perpetuating yet another generation destined to live in poverty and ignorance.

This is a story where the average life expectancy of a resident is 12 years shorter than for their black brothers who live in middle class neighborhoods, due to disease and violent death.

This is a true American tragedy – and it is at the feet of our politicians that we should lay the blame.  They have done everything in their power to continue the enslavement of this large segment of our population in a manner that would have embarrassed their ancestors’ former owners.  Why?  Because this is a dependable block of votes to keep the perpetrators in power and the voters, who know no better, miserable and dependent.

Thank heaven for industry which has provided a means of escape from this life of poverty and despair – although that exit sign is open only to a few – those who have the potential to become professional athletes or have careers in entertainment.  For there is no other way out for this populace whom we have created.  Even if the economy were booming, they simply do not have the skills to fill possible job openings – not even within government.

So Vice President Biden, spend a day visiting one of the public housing projects that you and your party have created – if you dare.  And if you can come away from that experience with a clever remark on your lips and a smile on your face – well then it should be clear to all that it is you who are the joke.  And no one is laughing.

I think we’ve gotten a little “heavy” lately with our political conversations – so now, courtesy of allaboutlemon here’s something to lighten your day and hopefully make you laugh.

allaboutlemon-All Around, In, And Out Of My Own Universe

Due to the climate of political correctness now pervading America

Kentuckians, Tennesseans and West Virginians will no longer be referred to as

‘HILLBILLIES.’

You must now refer to them as

APPALACHIAN-AMERICANS .

And furthermore

HOW TO SPEAK ABOUT WOMEN AND BE POLITICALLY CORRECT:

1. She is not a ‘BABE’ or a ‘CHICK’ – She is a
‘ BREASTED AMERICAN. ‘

2. She is not ‘EASY’ – She is

‘HORIZONTALLY ACCESSIBLE.’

3. She is not a ‘DUMB BLONDE’ – She is a

‘LIGHT-HAIRED DETOUR OFF THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY..’

4. She has not ‘BEEN AROUND’ – She is a

‘PREVIOUSLY-ENJOYED COMPANION.’

5. She does not ‘NAG’ you – She becomes

‘ VERBALLY REPETITIVE.’

6. She is not a ‘TWO-BIT HOOKER’ – She is a

‘ LOW COST PROVIDER.’

HOW TO SPEAK ABOUT MEN AND BE POLITICALLY CORRECT:


1.. He does not have a ‘BEER GUT’ – He has developed a

‘LIQUID GRAIN STORAGE FACILITY.’


2.. He…

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MEDIATION

I have debated whether to write this post for almost a week.  But something caught my eye this morning which decided me to move forward with it.

First a bit of history.  Two of my readers who are both thoughtful and comment frequently on my posts got into a “discussion” on one of their blogs.  The exchange became a bit heated, although both participants tried to lay out their differing positions without resorting to acrimony.

One of those readers has a faith-based view of his relationship with life – the other approaches life from an atheistic position.  The specific topic which caused the conversation was the issue of “gay marriage.”

Now while they chose to differ in their views on this specific issue, what I find remarkable is that I suspect these two gentlemen probably do agree on the social and political issues with which we find ourselves confronted today about eighty percent of the time.  How they arrive at similar conclusions is less important to me than I believe that it is to them.  So allow me to offer them the following example to support my position that it is not so significant how we arrive at our destination as it is that we do arrive there.

Consider the case of two car drivers.  Both are aware that there are speed limits which we are supposed to observe.  The first driver believes in following the letter of the law and regulates the speed at which he operates his vehicle to be certain he always is within the limit – because that is the law.  The second driver, less concerned with the law than safety, also chooses to drive within the limit because he believes that doing so will minimize the chance of an accident in which he, his passengers and other motorists will be involved.  Does it matter which rationale brought both these drivers to the same conclusion?  Of course not.

Religion and science have long been contenders in the battle to explain universal and epistemological truth.  They have butted heads often, but a reading of both their histories suggest that they both share a common weakness.  That is that while they declaim that what they say is so is so – what they say has and will continue to change over time.  That is evident in our religions’ accepting a heliocentric based solar system to replace the geocentric one we saw in the Middle Ages; and that is evident in something as fundamental as the expansion of the periodic table of elements which has occurred in the last fifty years.

There is another commonality between the positions of both the religious man and the atheist.  That is that both positions are based on faith – as it is neither possible to prove the existence of God nor to disprove it.  We should have given up trying long ago and just accept that “it is what it is – whatever it is.”

But let’s return to the item that caught my eye this morning and to discuss the issue which precipitated the conversation between my two readers.  That was an announcement yesterday by NASCAR driver, Denny Hamlin that he and his girl friend are expecting their first baby.

“Hamlin says marriage is not in the immediate plans.  There’s no reason to rush into it.”

Based on the number of unwed pregnancies; the number of illegitimate children who are being brought into the world and for whom we are asked for financial support; the explosion in the number of children born into single parent homes which put them at a great disadvantage in the challenge to become productive members of society, do we not have far greater challenges because of the behavior of our heterosexual brethren than to spend our time on the issue of gay marriage?

We know that the estimated ten percent of us who are gay or lesbian did not cause this problem.  But they will be asked to pay for the results brought about by it.  Is that fair or equitable?  My atheistic reader and I would both say no (not to put words in his mouth).  I happen to believe my religious friend might agree with that as well.

Frankly, I’m tired of the “Support Chuck-Fil-A” and stage a “Kiss in at Chuck-Fil-A” mentality.  Both sides do nothing but further fractionalize us and rather than bring a positive message serve more as media circuses than means to an honest discussion and resolution.  And if America needs anything right now it is honesty, starting with our elected officials and with every thoughtful citizen participating.

If I have offended either or both of my readers to whom I address this post I apologize.  That was not my intent.  I believe that if we focus on the things that divide us rather than those in which we are united, we are dooming ourselves to a dismal future.  I know that is not what any of us wishes.   And I know that both of you have a message and a perspective which we need to hear and consider.  Please keep talking – not only to the world but to each other.

Here endeth the Mediation.

THE STORY OF STUFF

I would like to say that I am indebted to one of my readers, grandfathersky for mentioning the video which I have posted below.  If you enjoy wonderful poetry you should visit his blog http://grandfathersky.wordpress.com.

The video is one of the most excellent and understandable explanations of how all the things we buy come into being, serve their purpose and are then discarded.  I know that many of my readers are concerned about the way we treat each other and the way we treat our planet.  If so, you will most certainly enjoy this presentation.

Please let me know what you think of it.

http://www.storyofstuff.org/movies-all/story-of-stuff/

HIT ‘EM IN THEIR POCKETBOOKS

Once every four garbage pickups is recycling day.  Today was that day in our current cycle.  Recycling is something on which I have worked since the late 1970’s when I lived in Chicago.  It is one of those things about which I am very passionate.

With the availability of a recycling service (for which we pay), living in a middle class neighborhood with people who have a higher degree of education than the general populace, you would think everyone would work toward recycling as much of their trash as they could.  That is not the case and I find that most disheartening.

I am guesstimating that only about 50% of us go to the effort to recycle – and that estimate may be a little generous to the high side.  Is this just another symptom of the selfish society?  I mean, how much extra effort does it take to throw an empty soda can in a bin provided by the scavenger service for that purpose than it takes to throw it in the plastic kitchen bag filled with trash that is headed straight for the landfill?

So if an educated population doesn’t see the benefit of recycling, I believe it is a fair statement to make that an uneducated population may see even less.  Which leads me to the conclusion that recycling, as we presently have structured it, needs some help.  I’m prepared to offer a simple solution which may get far more items that could be recycled out of the trash and back into circulation in some other form.

When I was growing up, milk or soda did not come in disposable containers or in plastic or aluminum ones.  They came in one form and one form only – glass.  Glass was expensive and it had the further disadvantage of being fairly heavy.  But it had one big advantage over our modern containers.  It got reused countless times and was only thrown out if it was broken.

At that time, all these containers had a deposit which was charged when they were purchased and was refunded when the container was returned to the store.  For a bottle of soda, which cost ten cents, the deposit was two cents; for a quart of milk the deposit was five cents.  I can assure you that consumers were dutiful about returning these to get their refund.

Now you may laugh at the amount of this deposit and say to yourself, who would go to the trouble for that kind of money?  Well, returning an empty glass milk bottle could buy you a candy bar which today costs a dollar.  And I believe that in order to make this deposit program effective, we would need to adjust the deposit amount to reflect the purchasing power of today’s dollar.

As I sit writing this, I am drinking from a bottle of water which is in the original plastic container in which I purchased it.  I generally try to avoid buying products which have a great deal of packaging associated with them – but I do make an exception for water.  I usually have about a five month supply on hand, just in case the infrastructure breaks down and the tap stops running.  Gracie and I both love water.

By the way, I do not drink a bottle and then recycle it.  I reuse the bottle, filling it from my Brita filter.  This bottle has probably been reused at least 50 times so far.  I mention this bottle because as I look at the label there are three states, Hawaii, Maine and California which charge a deposit.  But that amount is only five cents.  Apparently the other 47 states don’t think this is important enough to have enacted similar legislation.

In order to make an impact and get the attention of the consumer, I would suggest that nationwide we establish a mandatory deposit on all containers.  This is not a tax because the consumer would receive a refund on return.  For a small bottle or can of soda, I would suggest 25 cents as a starting point.  For larger containers 50 cents or more.  This would apply not only to beverages but to other things made of plastic such as laundry detergent and fabric softeners.

I see a number of benefits were this something that we established:

First, we would greatly increase the amount of recyclable containers which actually got recycled.

Second, we would probably find that instead of throwing our containers on the street or in our parks and forests, we would dispose of them properly, thus making those common areas far more comfortable for us to enjoy.

Third, we would foster a new industry at a time when America desperately needs jobs of any description and manufacturing jobs in particular.  I would see the refund process being handled by newly-designed machines intended for that purpose.

Fourth, we would make picking up recyclables by the scavengers less expensive by having central points for collection, thus saving fuel.

Fifth, we might just wake up enough people so that they stopped thinking within the parameters of their own self-indulgent universe and help them start to realize that there is a bigger picture they should consider.  Who knows where that might lead?

I guess if you can’t reach people with reason, perhaps the only other solution is “hit ‘em in their pocketbooks.”

THE HEAD OF THE HOUSEHOLD

It’s amazing to me how much I learn about human life from what our dogs exhibit in the conduct of their own.  Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only person who sees this – but, perhaps, I’m the only one who is looking.

My visiting Golden Retriever father, Bubba sired four litters.  He is now neutered.  Although he is one of the most gentle creatures, constantly looking for a gratuitous caress or insisting on one by marching between a person’s legs so they cannot ignore him, he doesn’t do well with un-neutered male dogs.

The dog park, with its requirement that all animals over the age of four months must be spayed or neutered in order to use the facility, should be a safe place to take all four of these creatures on our three outings a day.  But it isn’t.  During four of the last seven days, there have been one or more un-neutered males at the park.

I guess it’s possible that the people who brought their dogs didn’t see the sign specifying this rule.  But in most cases I honestly doubt that.  And because I believe that the dogs in my charge have the right to enjoy their time in a non-threatening environment I have felt obligated to point out to these folks the fact that they are violating the rule.

One gentleman apologized and said he didn’t realize that and immediately left with his dog.  The other three found excuses why this rule didn’t apply to them.  As a result, seeing that they were going to stick around, I took my charges and left.  I have decided that if I see them again, having brought this to their attention, I will call the Park Marshalls and let them do their job.  I’m sure they will bring a greater sense of urgency to this than I have been able to achieve.

Since I first met the three golden family about six months ago, Gracie and I have enjoyed their company as guests for almost half that time.  Of course, mom, dad and baby already had a bond – but that bond now includes Gracie.  It is remarkable to me and to others how, when they are visiting, she literally has a smile on her face.  And I think that of the three, she has most closely bonded with papa, Bubba.  The two of them, when we are home, can usually be found sleeping next to each other.

On an evening visit to the dog park the other night, a neutered male, I think an Australian shepherd mix, came in.  He was about three years old and extremely playful.  But he also wanted to do the dominance game with Gracie.  We had completed four laps around the park and were seated in the shade for a few minutes before we began the drive home.  Bubba was sitting in front of me and I was petting him.

When he saw this dog jump on Gracie he stood up and began snarling and barking and snapping his teeth.  Fortunately, I was able to grab his collar.  He definitely had blood in his eye and I know that there would have been an awful incident had I not been able to hold him.  The shepherd continued trying to mount Gracie and Bubba kept up his protest until the other dog’s owner came over and pulled him off.  When she had walked him a safe distance I took the four of them home.

It is clear to me that Bubba has identified Gracie as a member of his pack – or in human terms, family.  He is the alpha dog and he is going to defend his family from any intrusions or threats from others.  He is a devoted papa.  While I certainly don’t want any dog fights to happen, it does make me feel good to know that Gracie, who hasn’t a mean bone in her body and I doubt would know how to defend herself, has him to look out for her.

Then I thought about my childhood – and how I had my own father who would have done anything and everything necessary to protect me from harm.  Dad was a slight man, only about 5’ 8” and 160 pounds, but I know that if I were threatened he would have turned into a giant.  How fortunate that Gracie has Bubba and I had my father to provide for our security.

And then I think about all those children who are abused, left to fend for themselves without a protector – a father figure – a role model.  Although when we speak of child abuse we generally think about the infliction of active physical damage, I would argue that neglect and abandonment convey their own very deep scars.  Those may be invisible but they cut like knives through the makeup of the children of our one parent families – whose numbers are increasing daily.

Could the disintegration of the basic family unit be one of the reasons that we live in an increasingly more self-centered society?  Could it be one of the reasons that our children and young people engage in more and more horrible random acts of violence?  Could the abdication of principle and morality explain so much of what is happening in world?  And can our continuing along this path lead to anything other than our own destruction?

(NOT YET) FAMOUS QUOTES – XIV

In this series I have tried to post original quotations.  But sometimes something that has been said by another is so important that it should be remembered – even if it has been overlooked by us.  And that is the case with today’s quotation – given to us by an ancient Roman statesman and philosopher.

“Live among men as if God beheld you; speak to God as if men were listening.”

– Seneca

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