Tag: society

Three Should-Be-Obvious Societal Truths

There’s a ton of misinformation and lack of information in political/societal discussion.  This is natural, obviously.  However, of all the things that are misunderstood or not understood at all, there are three things I feel everyone needs to know.

1 – Creating a life in America is harder now than it was decades ago.

There’s a common saying that tends to come from baby boomers or any generation pre-Gen-X: “just pull up your bootstraps and work.”  This isn’t terrible advice, but it’s often couched in a belief that hard work is all you need to create a good life in America.  This is simply false.

Back in the day, going to college guaranteed you a mid-to-upper-level salary.  Housing cost less.  Gas cost less.  Food cost less.  Everything cost less!  And this is after calculating for inflation.

Houses used to cost, on average, two years of income for the middle class.  Cars used to cost around 1/3 of the income.  College was less than half what it costs today.  The simple fact is this: back then, credit wasn’t necessary to obtain these things, or at least far less necessary.  Now, buying a car without a loan is a rarity, college loans define your economic standing for decades, and housing (even in a deflated market!) costs more than ever.

Creating an average middle-class life in America is much, much harder now.  This is compounded by the fact that not only do you have to go into heavy debt for a house, you’re starting with a mountain of educational debt, or you don’t have a degree and have to get lucky to make it into a career path that yields decent pay.

Compound this with the fact that earnings overall are lower than in the past, when adjusted with the difference in the cost of living.  This makes it harder to have a family, since single-income households are now a rarity instead of the norm.  This puts undue stress upon parents and parenting, which then affects the child or children.

“Pulling up your bootstraps and going to work” just isn’t the cure-all answer anymore.  That should also include “get really lucky” or “hope your parents pay for college”.

2 – Institutionalized racism still exists in America.

This is obvious to the people it affects negatively, but not to the people it doesn’t affect (or to those who benefit!).

Cocaine is a drug predominately abused by well-off white people.  Crack cocaine is a drug predominately abused by poor black people.  However, possessing 1 gram of crack gets you a jail sentence equal to the sentence you would get for 18 grams of cocaine.  That sounds ridiculous, though it used to be worse!  Before the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, that disparity used to be 100:1!

Black children are 18 times more likely to be charged as adults than white children.

People with “black-sounding” names have to send 50% more job applications before getting a callback, when compared to people with “white-sounding” names.

A black man is three times more likely to be searched at a traffic stop, and then subsequently six times more likely to go to jail, when compared to a white person.

If a black person kills a white person, they are twice as likely to receive a death sentence, than the other way around.

77% of death row executions were a person who killed a white person.  13% of death row executions were a person who killed a black person.  Black and white murder is roughly the same.

It’s there.  Stop denying it.  And if you aren’t denying it, be aware of it.  If you’re white, I’m not saying you should have white guilt.  I’m saying you should have societal awareness.

3 – Socialism is not Communism.  Having social programs does not make you socialist.

Too often, people hear the word “social” or “equal” and automatically assume “socialist,” which then leads to “communist.”  This is dumb.

America has had socialist programs for ever.  Public police is socialist.  Public fire protection is socialist.  Public schools are socialist.  Social security.  Medicare.  This doesn’t make America a socialist country.  It makes it more socialist, but far from real socialist.

The ideas of universal health care or a higher minimum wage aren’t necessarily socialist ideas, but they are ideas that would help a majority of Americans.  Neither would change America into a socialist country, and not even close to a communist one.

This is silly confusion over dumb words that somehow have negative meanings, despite the fact that progressive ideals only help the most people, most of the time.


Why Everything Is Bad

Whoa, that’s a broad headline.  So, maybe not everything, but why many things are bad.

OK, what things?

Let’s try this: why every conversation and attempt at critical thought in America is bad.

OK, that’s not everything, but that’s a lot of things.  The way we think?  That directly and indirectly affects many, many things.  I think it affects enough things where “everything” isn’t too far off.

I just had a semantics argument with myself.  Awesome.

OK: Why many things are bad!

So few people really understand the way a democracy works, and even fewer people understand how to think critically in any context, let alone a context where there are multi-layered complex problems affecting an entire society.

Example: the argument over political correctness, a verbal thought war that’s been waged for a couple decades now.  Both sides are populated by many, many dumb people.  These people not only are dumb, but their dumbness continues the argument in perpetuity.

Many people on the “anti-PC” side of the argument are brushing off the PC idea as “soft” and “overly sensitive.”  In many contexts, this is simply wrong.  They are on the wrong side of history, and are resistant to a change that would be so minor and insignificant in their daily lives but very significant to the lives of others.  It’s more than insensitive, it’s crass and insulting.  It demonstrates a complete lack of sympathy for fellow human beings.

However, many on the “PC” side of the argument are so rabid and oversensitive that they may have created much of the argument in the first place.  While eradicating slurs and offensive language should be something we strive for, many people on this side of the argument are blind to the fact that mistakes and accidents happen, and that the kind of change they’re looking for is largely generational, and will not be complete until long after they’re dead.

OK, there’s a rabbit hole here I should probably stop going down.

My main point: everyone looks at shit in a binary fashion, with no respect for the gray area whatsoever.  This would be great if big problems were binary, but they simply aren’t.  There aren’t simple solutions for everything.  There’s actually very few things worth talking about that have a simple solution.

All people have guns, or no people have guns.  All abortion or no abortion.  If it’s not pure capitalism it’s communist.  If you’re Muslim, you’re a terrorist.  All welfare recipients are gaming the system.  These are all idiotic, narrow-minded sentiments that turn blinders to the complexity of life, and the effects any of these issues have on all corners of society.

I don’t think I’m terribly smart.  I think I’m kinda smart.  I don’t have answers to all these problems.  But I do know that no societal problem has a simple solution, and I also know that swinging the pendulum all the way to one side or the other is almost unilaterally a terrible idea.

I simply don’t understand why so, so many people have trouble grasping this, or don’t care enough to try.

It’s an anti-intellectualism that has long taken hold of American society, and I think that’s far more frightening than any of the other problems we face.  It might not directly kill or hurt anyone, but it prevents us from fixing anything effectively.

I weep for the future.