Nobody asked me but I think we live in a strange world.
It has been a while since I provided a really good rant, and I think the time is right. My lovely spouse is most tired of hearing me hit the roof on these topics, so I thought I would share the wealth.
Let's start slowly....I am the only person who thinks the dedication of resources for the missing Malaysian Flight 370 is a little much? Is this really worth the 50% of airtime it's taking and god knows how much money from Malaysia, China Australia and the US. Questions: Also, why are the families so angry with the Malaysian government? I mean the government wasn't flying the plane and I am pretty sure they didn't cause the crash. Here's my theory: something went desperately wrong and the plane crashed into the sea. Horrible and unfortunate.
On to the GM ignition switch debacle and our Congress' fascination with it. GM's decade long cover-up of the faulty ignition switches is suspected to be responsible for 13 deaths. Congress is outraged. Heads will roll. 13 people died (supposedly) due to accidents caused by this defect. Big Concern on the part or Your Government. I wonder, where is all the Congressional concern when it comes to our young people offing themselves and others with guns? Where is all the CNN, MSNBC, and (oh my god, don't get me started) Fox News coverage of thousands of dead Americans via gun? The only thing that pushed those topics off the front page of the newspapers and the blog-o-sphere was the (second) Fort Hood shooting.....and that's at least part of my point.
Yesterday alone, 87 people died of gunshots, some 30 of them homicides, the rest suicides. That means in the last 10 days, close to 900 people died of this cause in the United States alone and the only time we hear about it is when some psychotic lunatic takes out more than a few at a time. Yet Congress is going to spend millions of your tax dollars on what caused 13 deaths (as they should) but do nothing about guns.
Don't get me wrong. I am a gun owner, hunter, and believe firmly in the right of the individual to defend self and home. However, I have no idea how protecting those rights conflicts with reasonable background checks, waiting periods, mandatory training, total registration, the outlawing of automatic weapons, armor piercing bullets, and high capacity magazines.
We are a weird country.
You can't hold a bingo game (for the public) without a license. You need a license to fish, ride a bike, drive a car, work in a day-care center, sell booze, cook food for sale, or hold a parade but I can go to the swap meet and buy a gun with no restrictions and no records. Makes no sense.
While I am at it (and mildly deranged and prone to go off topic), same goes true for having a child. The only people not required to have training and licensing to take care of a child are the parents. To quote Keanu Reeves character in 1989's Parenthood, "...they'll let any butt-reamin' asshole be a father."
Like I said, weird.
Now, I am not stupid (well at least not some of the time). I get the politics. I know who contributes and who votes. But for all the outrage at taxes and spending, where is the outrage at our toleration of the massive misallocation of resources....I understand the desire to know what happened to Flight 370, but is the dedication of resources (literally millions if not tens of millions) proportional to the other needs in this world? Congress will have weeks of Committee meetings and, if the Toyota fine is any yardstick, will the Feds will fine GM billions of dollars (which go into the Federal budget to spend), but where is the time spent on gun deaths, or on jobs, or growth, or education or any of that other "important" stuff?
And it’s not just Congress.
Heck, The New York Times runs at least one article a day bemoaning some CEO's pay package, but how much space do they devote to what it is going to take to create more jobs in this country? Or get everyone to graduate from High School? Nah. The New York Times is more concerned with demonizing wealth creation and the wealthy than suggesting how to actually improve the system. Where are the articles on making Hedge Fund managers (who create nothing but volatility and skim off the top, no jobs, no growth, no product) pay the same tax rates as everybody else. Where’s the article on how to actually create a housing and mortgage policy that balances our desire for home ownership with economic realities of many families? Nada. Nope. Just article after article trying to make me believe that wealth is bad and banks and credit card companies are really out to lend to people who end up not being able to pay their loans back. Really?
I won't even bother with the Wall Street Journal as their editorial page looks more and more like a page out of Rupert Murdoch’s diary.
And Television is worse than print. More TV time was spent on covering those idiot celebrity trials (OJ, Michael Jackson's doctor, Scott Peterson, and Jody Arias) than a decade's worth of coverage on anything like an important issue. Anyone with a brain detests what Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Michael Savage have done to discourse in this country, but in my opinion, Nancy Grace (and her ilk) are just as bad. Listening to any of them causes severe loss of IQ points. Did you read the finding that routine viewers/listeners of Fox News scored lower than people who watched/listened/read
NOTHING on a test of actual knowledge of current events? Now that's impact, all right! Way to go, Fox.
I am well and truly bothered.
I am bothered that I live in a country where people believe it is better to get cervical cancer than get vaccinated for the HPV virus...because of what? The belief that being protected against the virus will make teens promiscuous? Here's a hint - being a teenager makes teenagers promiscuous.
I am bothered by the fact that our Supreme Court just ruled, in practice if not in actual fact, that from here on out, we are likely to stop being a democracy and acknowledge that we are a cashocracy.
I am bothered by the fact that the Republicans have a policy platform that pretty much says that poor people are poor because they deserve it, and that any tax is evil.
I am bothered by the fact that the party of "less government" is fixated on legislating what you can do with your own body, with whom you have sex, with whom you marry, and making sure it is difficult for you to vote, but does not care if you are hungry, sick, or need help.
I am bothered by the fact that the Democrats believe the only way to raise revenue is to tax wealthy people more and more and more because they are totally devoid of even one good idea about how to grow the pie and create more jobs.
I am bothered by the fact that this country seems to have decided that there is no personal accountability and responsibility. Upside-down on your mortgage - evil bankers made you do it. In foreclosure because you failed to pay, argue the paperwork is wrong. Too much credit card debt, not your fault, "they" should never have let you have the card. Hit someone in the parking lot with your car...take off without a note. Skateboard down a steep hill and hit a tree, sue the skateboard manufacturer, the village, and the state. Smoke, drink heavily, and weigh 50 pounds too much, don't have insurance - just go the ER and walk from the bill. Then vote for the Tea Party to ensure no one else gets any help either.
It is time for a viable Third Party in this country. Here's the platform:
Foreign Policy: We intervene when the interests and values of the United States are at risk. We support real democracies (Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Israel, Japan, and South Korea) against their autocratic, theocratic, and dictatorial enemies. We confront and defeat terrorism wherever and whenever we can using all the resources we have. If the people we are "helping" don't help themselves, we don't stay (Afghanistan, Iraq). We put our people in harm's way when the priority is high, when we have a path to success, and when all other means are exhausted or deemed ineffective. We use our economic clout to win, e.g., we kick Russia's ass by developing and exporting our vast natural gas resources to Europe, depriving Russia of its major leverage and its major source of revenue. We become self-sufficient in energy consumption via conservation and development of our existing resources and quit paying people who hate us for oil so they can fund terrorists who try to hurt us.
Social Policy: We take care of our veterans...with medical help, with education help, with family assistance, with job training. They served, we support and we don't cheap out and forget them once they come home. Ever. No one goes hungry - no child, no man, no woman, ever. Everyone has health insurance and car insurance - and if you can't pay for it, the government subsidizes it. Fat people pay more than skinny people. Smokers pay more than non-smokers.
Every job has a livable wage. Everyone who can work does work.
Tort reform is simple - losers in civil lawsuits can be assessed all court costs. That's what happens in the UK....guess what - a lot fewer idiot lawsuits. Non-violent crimes are assessed monetary penalties relative to the crime and the proceeds go to the victims. We are going to legalize marijuana and the addictive drugs, manage them, tax them, and put the drug cartels out of business.
We don't care who consenting adults sleep with or who you marry (just one, though). A woman's right to choose will not be abridged. All children will be vaccinated as we will not let your idiot beliefs endanger the rest of us.
Every financial instrument (mortgage, credit card, home equity, consumer loan, etc.) will be accompanied by a one-page contract explanation that a high school graduate can understand. You sign it, you are responsible. Anyone convicted of financial fraud loses all their money, and has to work at a minimum wage job to pay back all damages.
Everyone employed is automatically opted-in to a 401K or retirement plan. You have to demonstrate independent wealth to opt-out. There. I just fixed social security.
Education Policy: No one has a right to choose to be unemployable. Every child graduates from high school if they have an IQ over 80. If they have an IQ under 80, they get trained or supported. Everyone does National Service...could be the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Military, a modern CCC or whatever...and here's where you stay until you pass your GED if you haven't graduated from high school. P.S. Here they teach you how checkbooks and loans and mortgages and credit cards work. They teach the basics of civics. They teach everyone about retirement and savings and basic budgeting. No one gets out of National Service without demonstrating competence in this as well as the High School graduation or equivalency.
Ballot & Election Reform: Forget Voter ID. I would make it simple. Reinstate National Service (see above) – and everyone who finishes National Service gets a card signifying such. They get to vote. For all those “grandfathered”, abolish the Voter ID over and above the voter registration that existed in 1995….and any proven voter fraud is penalized with a loss of voting rights and a $1 million dollar fine payable over the rest of their estimated lives. Anyone convicted of a crime that has done their time and paid their debt gets to vote, except those convicted of voter fraud.
Need to elect another moderate, center-left, pro-business Democrat (well, OK, that will be a hard search) for two terms so that we can appoint Supreme Court justices that are somewhat less ideological than the current right-wing-nut cabal of Scalia, Thomas and Alito. Then overturn the Citizens United ruling and rule that corporations are NOT people with regard to the first amendment and they have no right to spend any money on candidates, elections, or anything else political. If they want limited liability, then they get no right to influence elections. If they want to take risks like real people, then we can have a debate.
Well, at least that's the start of a platform I would vote for.
That's it. I am done. I feel much better, thank you very much.