Posts Tagged ‘society


God to Me is Like a Ghost or Space Alien

I was accosted waiting for a bus by a clean cut, well-scrubbed, polite and earnest young man doing his Mormon missionary work the other day.  In response to his solicitation, I nicely informed him that while I appreciate his effort, I am an atheist.  He asked, “Can you tell me why you’re an atheist?”  What follows is my response:

“I’m an educated, well-read person who has studied a lot of world myth, legend, and folklore.  I operate from logic and reason, and religion always comes down to having ‘faith’ which just doesn’t cut it with me.  As far as I’m concerned, while the Bible is entertaining, it is not the word of God.  It was written by men for other men and subject to their interpretations, not to mention translations-and as the saying goes, you always lose something in translation-and is representative of the customs and society of the people in context to the area and times in which they lived.

I understand and agree that many people lack an inner moral compass and need some sort of outside influence or institution to provide them with guidelines on how to live.  It can be a useful tool to keep masses of people in line and mostly extol good and virtuous rules for living harmoniously with others.  It can provide solace and comfort in a crazy and cruel world.  Religion is the opium of the masses as Karl Marx said, and many need something to hope for and believe in.  Believe me, I very much wish there was a judgement in the after life where the wicked were punished and the good rewarded, but it’s a hopeful fairy tale at best to me.

The way I look at it, belief in “God” to me is like believing in ghosts (and not the Holy one) or space aliens.  I don’t completely discount the possibility they exist, but I have yet to see any resounding proof.  I’ve actually seen a ghost, but I can’t say what it really is.  It’s possible that it could be the spirit of the dead.  It could be a psychic echo of something that happened.  It could be a rift in dimensions that allows an opening to be seen.  It could be a time loop, replayed and stuck in one moment.  I don’t know, but I don’t believe definitively that it’s the soul of a dead person.

Same goes for space aliens.  It’s not only possible, but probable they exist, considering the vastness of the universe.  Are they the bug-eyed gray creatures depicted in popular culture that abduct you?  Or are they a type of life form indiscernible to the human eye and not in any form detectable to our senses?  I know that many scientists actually believe in God which seems counter-intuitive.  But the more they learn about the intricacies of life, creation, the universe, they feel that there has to be some divine spark or creator because it’s all so miraculous that just the right circumstances and chance came together to create life and matter.

I resent that many people believe in God and abide by religious tenets out of fear of Hell, rather than love of virtue.  I respect and admire someone who acts and lives morally and conscientiously because he wants to be a good person, not because he’s afraid of punishment in the hereafter.  That actually takes more courage, when you don’t believe there is any end reward but still live a righteous life because it’s the right thing to do.

Ultimately, I can’t put my faith in anything or anyone that would be so petulant, spiteful, childish, unjust, and well, human, to send someone to an eternity of torment for not believing in him despite living a blameless life.  A higher being has to be just that- transcendent and flawless, not a reflection of ourselves, albeit a better one than most people, to earn my worship.”

Poor guy, he was just trying to do what he thought was right and got an earful and then some.  I’m sure he was more than relieved when my bus came and I had to go.


Asian American Beauty Standards Don’t Apply in Asia

I remember reading some blog awhile back about a Cuban/Filipino/Korean/American that wrote about her experiences teaching English in Korea and that she wasn’t considered beautiful enough in South Korea.  The internet was full of outrage and disbelief.  I’m sure those commenters weren’t Asian from Asia and NOT Korean.  Without even looking at her photo, my reaction was “DUH!”.  After seeing her picture, my thoughts were confirmed.  All that article told me is she was incredibly uninformed about a country that she went to live and work in and knew nothing about the culture at all.  She was shocked and disappointed that being a quarter Korean descent she wasn’t accepted by her people.  That tells me she’s an American through and through and either unbelievably naive, or looking for publicity.

I’m a generation 1.5 immigrant-I came here about age 4, and grew up here with my immigrant parents.  I’m straddling that line between the Old World and the New.  Both Koreans and Americans see me as “other”.  I have never been to Korea since we left.  My American friends can’t understand why I wouldn’t want to see my native land.  They don’t get it.  I’m a full-blooded Korean with very Korean features, but I would not be accepted in Korea.  For one, I’m not fluent in the language. Even if I were, I would still be looked at as American, but not quite.  My white friends would have a very different time there than I.  They wouldn’t be treated with the kind of suspicion, prejudice, and contempt that I would.  They would think Koreans were very nice and tolerant.  What they don’t understand is that their behavior would be overlooked because they are white.  The attitude is that Westerners are barbarians and don’t know any better and it’s useless to teach them as they are beyond hope.  It’s like indulging a misbehaving retarded child.

As for me, I would be judged as a traitor of sorts.  Although I am from the same stock, the fact that I grew up in America means that I’m tainted and corrupted.  I’m not really Korean because I don’t conform to every aspect of their culture.  Not speaking the language and fully adhering to the customs disqualifies me from being Korean to the natives.  As a woman, I am also expected to conform to sexist behavioral norms.  I’’m far too outspoken, aggressive, and loud.  I am not demure and submissive and as a feminist, would be an outcast and extremely threatening.  Again, this is to be expected in Westerners, but on this, I would be judged as a bad Korean.

Being female also subjects me to more intense scrutiny and a set of criterion in terms of appearance.  I’m way too big.  When my mother visited Korea, she never brought any clothes or shoes back as early as 7th grade, as my broad shoulders and size 9 feet wouldn’t fit into the standard sizes sold there.  Good God, every Korean girl grows up being told she’s clumsy like a bear, has tree trunk or daikon radish legs, and constantly criticized about being fat by everyone in the community unless she fits the 98lb mold.  So if that’s normal in the Korean community in America, what do you expect it’s going to be like in an entire nation with this mentality?.  I scoff at her emotional distress after a few months-try living with that your whole life!

She should have known she would have been rejected from the outset because she is not full Korean.  Asians in general don’t celebrate diversity and being mixed race is not accepted, especially in Korea.  For her to be ignorant and surprised about this seems disingenuous.  Whether this attitude is right or wrong is a topic for another column on another day, and I’ll get to it.  What I’m talking about is walking into the lion’s den and being surprised that the lion would bite.  And then playing victim and looking for sympathy.  “Woe is me, I walked blindly into the lion’s den and I was mauled, traumatized, and scarred for life.”  I’m just incredulous at her stupidity.

When I looked at her picture and saw her skin tone, that would be the first indicator that she would be unattractive to Koreans, and frankly to the vast majority of Asians, even Asians whose natives are mostly of a darker skin tone.  Of course, Americans are already clambering onto their soapboxes with megaphones at the ready to shout “Racism!”.  Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s Western projections of their own racist attitudes onto other cultures.  If anything, it’s classist and elitist.  Think about it, Koreans have a long history and culture, and Westerners only appeared recently in the whole context of things.  Long before ever seeing people of any other race, the Korean beauty ideal was a pale complexion.  This was representative of being rich and privileged enough to live a life of leisure and not become tan from toiling in the fields like a peasant.  After Westerners came to Korea, they brought their racist attitudes with them and influenced this already exclusionary mindset.

It’s stories like hers that make me realize that our media and society really represents a limited and one-sided perspective on things.  Everything is framed through one lens and we seem to operate in total ignorance, or arrogance of other viewpoints.  Maybe we just ignore the attitudes of other countries that we don’t like or aren’t in accordance with our values. The message I take away from this is that while America is celebrating diversity, it’s just lip service since they don’t  know jack shit about the cultures they are supposedly embracing.  I also believe that free speech as well as discussion about unpleasant realities and viewpoints are choked off by the strangle hold of political correctness.  Only those viewpoints that have been sanitized are the ones that are heard in our mainstream media and as such constitute propaganda.

It’s ironic to me that this woman who went to teach in a foreign country clearly didn’t do her homework before deciding to go there.  Graded on lack of preparation, poor research,  and unfamiliarity with subject material, I give her an “F”.  I suspect part of the problem is she grew up in an era in America  of fake self-esteem where “everyone is beautiful in their own way” and everyone gets a trophy for showing up and everyone can be special.  I come from the Old World way which is second place means you lost, not everyone can be special, it’s a dog eat dog competitive world, and you should always strive for betterment, not acceptance of your flaws.  In America, if you aren’t really beautiful but tell others you are, people would give you some fake encouragement or keep quiet.  In Korea, if you were delusional and immodest enough to proclaim yourself beautiful when you’re not, the community at large would shout you down in no uncertain terms to your face.  Don’t get all offended.  I didn’t say the Korean view is totally right, just stating that’s the reality of the way they would see it.


Tattoos are the Ultimate Stamp of Conformity


Miss America, that moribund, hidebound, old fashioned bastion of white bread, conservative, middle America has had it’s first contestant with a tattoo.  Yes, it’s official folks, tattoos are the ultimate stamp of conformity and hypocrisy.  Any cool factor has long been dead and now popular culture affirms it.

People with tattoos think they are marking themselves as rebels from mainstream society.  Please, when Miss America has tattoos, every soccer mom is sporting some shitty Tinker Bell or flower on her ankle, when your grandparents are getting tattoos, it’s not hip, cool, or alternative anymore.

They claim that it’s an expression of individuality.  Sorry to say, you think you’re being an individual but people are prone to being influenced by whatever’s trendy at the time.  If everyone was so unique, why is there such an abundance of bad tattoo trends amongst huge swaths of people?  Let’s just name a few:barbed wire, 8 balls, black panthers, tribal tattoos, the ‘50’s revival tattoos that are now firmly associated with the garish Ed Hardy brand and Sailor Jerry’s rum, and dating yourself with shitty band tattoos.  My favorite is idiots who get their name tattooed on them.  What is that for, so you don’t forget who you are, to ID yourself when you get Alzheimer’s?

I am scornful of all those trendy shitheads that got Chinese characters or Japanese kanji, only to find out later what they have permanently etched on themselves isn’t what they thought-wrong symbol, backwards, nonsense.  It’s particulary stupid because for most Asians, tattoos are for hookers and criminals.  I remember once my  Chinese boss was staring at the tattoos on a customer’s arm of Chinese characters.  When I asked him what he was staring at, he said “ I cannot figure it out, so I keep looking.  Then I realize it is character for ‘death’, but backwards!”  After laughing our asses off for awhile, he shook his head, “I don’t understand how come he will put something like that on his body.  For the Chinese, that is a very bad luck to write ‘death’ on yourself.  That is like cursing yourself and your family to die.  So stupid.”

Tattoos are totally trendy and to me it’s just an outgrowth of marketing and branding.  It’s the next step in turning us into walking billboards , after having all our clothing festooned with loud graphics and big logos. Why should I do the work of corporations for them?  In fact, the lamest tattoos are those of any kind of logo.  The Nike swoosh, the double C of Chanel are a couple of examples I’ve seen and I can’t imagine a more blatant badge to identify yourself as an idiot and tool of the capitalist consumer corporations.  These fools aren’t even getting paid for branding themselves.  And as the skin ages, it’s like a sad worn out bumper sticker on a beater car.

Look, whatever the fuck you thought was so badass cool at 18, like getting a Pabst beer can tattooed on your arm, hopefully is NOT what you think is going to be cool later on.  Hopefully, you will have gained some taste, class, and maturity and moved on to other interests.  There’s nothing wrong with indulging in fashion and trying on identities, but the problem is when you’ve made those choices permanent and indelible.  It’s just a permanent reminder of what a fuckwit you  once were.

Tattoos advertise the incredible range of bad taste of the wearer.  Your average person has terrible taste.  If people really knew what looked good on them, the stylist profession wouldn’t exist.  Tattoos display the vulgar, unsophisticated, lurid, crass, lame, stupid, tastes of the wearer for all to see.  Not to mention the plethora of incredibly bad “art work” and horrible renditions by untalented tattoo artists.  Especially ugly are any kind of portraiture.  I’m sure part of it is that the original subject is repulsive, and immortalizing them in a badly drawn rendition doesn’t help matters.

As for the argument that tattoos are highly personal expressions.  BULLSHIT!  Yeah, that’s why you got a huge back tattoo, for yourself, because you have eyes in the back of your head.  If it’s a memorial for something personal, hell, make a shrine in your house.  People get tattoos  to show off to other people because it’s a visual medium and usually placed somewhere that  can’t readily be seen well by the wearer.  People feel the need to over share and then say that it’s highly personal.   I’m sure Grandpa would rather have you contribute the amount of time and money you spent on a highly unflattering and grotesque portrait of him, ensconced in a paean of appallingly bad and lurid art, towards a cause or charity that exemplified his spirit and values

Once upon a time, tattoos were a mark of the subversive, the alternative, the rebel.  Now it is the ultimate badge of conformists everywhere and the stamp of a hypocrite that slavishly follows fashion while proclaiming his individualism and  decrying mainstream society, proudly showing his bad taste for all to be forced to see.  The most original, rebellious thing you could do nowadays is resist the urge to stamp yourself as one of the “sheeple”.  Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve literally.  “Methinks he doth protest too much” comes to mind.  An insecure person feels the need to prove himself to others and trumpets his beliefs in the form of advertisements on his skin.  A truly secure person doesn’t need to wear his convictions in an outward symbol.  He shows his beliefs by his words and deeds, not something inked on his skin.


America’s Mental Health System Drives You Crazy

So we have another shooting, this time at the Naval Shipyard in our nation’s capital.  All reports say the shooter had exhibited clear signs of not only mental illness, but violent tendencies.  He had been arrested for incidents involving suspicious use of a firearm, but neither was his gun taken away, nor did  the police make any connection with his behavior with mental health issues.  We also have the stabbing death of a professor in Seattle by a homeless crazy person who is representative of the type of person that due to lack of mental health facilities, ends up in prison or on our streets.  Our mental health system is ridiculous and encourages very ill people to act out in desperation.  The way the system is set up, you won’t get any real help until it’s too late for the person with mental health problems or for an innocent bystander.

Following is a composite typical scenario that I created from my own experiences as well as the experiences of others in dealing with the nonsensical and unhelpful system as it exists at least in my state.

Jane had an extremely abusive childhood which understandably left her with major depressive disorder and violent anger issues.  Despite this, she was intelligent and driven enough to put herself through school and graduate from university.  On paper, she seems fine.  However, due to her issues, daily life is a constant struggle and her problems are like a pebble in a pond, radiating repercussions to everyone around her and society at large.

Although smart enough to be employed (at least on paper credentials), she could not cope with daily stressors well and didn’t get along with others, alienating friends, family, and coworkers, sabotaging her ability to make a living and provide for herself.  She tried to seek help, being self-aware that she had major problems.

What typically happens is that when you are low income, you see a primary care physician that generally has little to no training in mental health.  You get a fifteen minute appointment and assessment and then out comes the  prescription pad.  Like most doctors today, the physician had drunk the kool-aid of the pharmaceutical industry and prescribed a pill as the cure to all ills.

The influence of the pharmaceutical industry as well as inadequate funding of our health care system and the American consumer way of thinking led to pill popping as a quick and cheap way to sweep mental health problems under the rug.  Too bad that even the “miracle drugs” SSRIs (Prozac being the most famous of the group) aren’t really that effective, with only about 30% of patients responding positively, which is the same rate of efficacy as the sugar pill placebo.

Not to mention that these drugs have a long list of side effects and that not only are they over prescribed, but wrongly prescribed by doctors that didn’t spend enough time with their patients to give an accurate diagnosis.  These pills can do more harm than good.

Some of the side effects of the antidepressants prescribed are extreme weight gain, severe acne, and hair loss.  Seriously!  If I wasn’t depressed before taking pills, I sure as fuck would be when i became 300lbs, bald and with an oozing pizza face!  Some give you a feeling of “electric brain shocks” when getting off meds that are so excruciating that some patients end up being lifelong users, not by choice.  How hypocritical that our pharmaceutical industry can turn us into drug addicts for life, but our government wages a war on drugs that aren’t controlled by big money corporations.

Back to Jane….Pills were dispensed like candy, but no pill can cure the underlying thought and behavioral problems that accompany mental illness.  No therapy was available other than an hour every two to three weeks with a community therapist that is not a psychiatrist and doesn’t have the expertise to treat people who are severely ill.  Even to get this shitty amount of care, Jane was on a waiting list for three months.

When she was working, it was often as a temp, which provides no benefits and the insurance offered was exorbitant, covered nothing, and made no provisions for mental health.  If there was employer insurance, again, it covered nothing but meds.  Besides, bound to a Monday-Friday, 9-5 schedule, she would never have the time or leeway to see anyone anyway.

Jane couldn’t work more than a year at any job without experiencing a severe breakdown.  The best she could do was to work a year on contract, grit her teeth to tough it out and collapse into another major depressive breakdown.  In the months leading up to it, it was clear to see something was wrong.  Unable to sleep at night, constantly tormented with increasingly angry and violent thoughts, her appearance was disheveled, she was hostile and short-tempered, and often blew up at strangers and was surly with those she knew.

During periods of unemployment, she was unable to access any care as even receiving $1200 per month from unemployment disqualified her as too much money to get any government health care.

After years of this cycle, and intermittently seeking help and getting only a prescription that didn’t work, she gave up and tried to just soldier on.  Eventually, her issues caught up to her and she ended up nearly losing everything before she at last qualified with DSHS to get help.

She had a psych evaluation with a real psychiatrist who diagnosed her with Major Depressive Disorder, and Borderline Personality Disorder.  I picked BPD as the example because while it is a severe mental disorder, it isn’t a delusional one, like Schizophrenia, and there is effective treatment with high success  and low relapse rates that exist.  It is also a condition that is not helped by any medications, so the meds prescribed which she had stopped taking after her initial experiences with SSRIs would have done more harm than good to her overall health.

The government assigns you the status of General Assistance-Unemployable, or GAU.  This gives you medical insurance for a short term condition expected to last six months to a year.  It qualifies you for food stamps of about $200 per month.  There is no government housing subsidy, but a charity provides funds for that.  There is no cash subsidy.

Jane found that after being diagnosed and recommended for a specific type of treatment , the GAU insurance disqualified her from accessing that treatment.  All she had available was the inadequate and scanty therapy from a community clinic.

After six months, her case was reviewed and she was assigned to Aged, Blind, Disabled (ABD), which is a condition expected to last a year to death.  So finally with this change, she could get the specific treatment recommended for her.  Despite, this, on attempting to find a doctor, she was repeatedly told there was a several month waiting list again.

In fact, one administrator told her frankly “Look, if you haven’t at least attempted suicide at least a couple of times, you aren’t going to get in.”  Other administrators told her to at least show up at the emergency room several times as suicidal to document those visits as proof of the need for help.  What a waste of time and money for everyone!  Emergency room visits as we all, now help drive up overall health care costs for all.  To actually have people who work in the system to encourage this wastefulness as the only way to establish some severity and urgency to getting care says a lot about how broken our system is.  Not to mention, subtly (or not so much) encouraging suicide to the patient.

Even worse, though help for her condition was accessible, due to ABD giving her Medicare which is federal, this disqualified her from the charity which subsidized housing which is only for Medicaid recipients on a state level.  She now got a cash subsidy of $197 per month instead which isn’t going to pay rent.

Ok, so if you are really mentally ill, you won’t get the medical help that was prescribed for you for six months to a year, but you have housing, food, and no cash.

After that, if you still aren’t well, you can access the specialized mental health care you need, but then have no place to live.  If you work at all, you get no cash subsidy, and you can’t make more than $1040 per month gross without losing insurance.

There is no low income housing.  In my state, they actually shut down the waiting list to sign up to be eligible for housing for three years now due to overwhelming demand.  Most of the severely mentally ill have no friends or family to help them and no where to go.

The only recourse is to apply for Social Security Disability.  Attorneys tell you it’s standard procedure for them to deny your first claim-no one gets it.  Then 80% or more get turned down for the second claim, and still a third time.  The next step is a hearing request that takes typically a year or more to get to trial.  And you’ll still probably get turned down.

Jane isn’t a hopeless case.  She wanted to get into a year long intensive program that had over 75% success rate in rehabilitating patients. and rejoin society as a productive member.  Instead, she is a drain on the public coffers, taking unemployment too long as the only way to be able to provide basic needs while having time to recover in the short term to be able to work sporadically.  Or while receiving insurance, the system leaving no recourse except to be unemployed in order to keep access to care.

Basically, its the government putting the screws to you.  How sick are you?  You have to be willing to be completely destitute and on the streets before you can get the help you need.  I liken it to being sent to prison for a non-violent drug possession.  If you weren’t corrupt when you went in, being in those conditions will make you far worse by the time you’ve endured all that and get out.  Sick, desperate people who are tortured from their mental suffering, with no recourse, no help, no options are more likely to act out.  You trap an animal in a corner and repeatedly poke it with a sharp stick, what do you really expect besides that animal lashing out in violent fury in an attempt to escape?

And my fictional example is a best case scenario of someone who is “high functioning” and not delusional, psychotic, beset with hallucinations,  or drug addictions which are often an attempt to self-medicate.  And someone who is “high functioning” can be pushed by circumstance or bad luck into becoming even more ill.  Our current system is a waste of resources as well as human potential, not to mention the pain and suffering of the afflicted individual.  As I said, pebble in the pond-that person’s pain has repercussions throughout society in their circle, and can expand to encompass many people in their wake.  Multiply that one person’s effect by millions and all people suffer from the effects of untreated mental illness.  Any one of us can have a series of tragedies and ill luck befall us and fall into depression or have an undiagnosed condition triggered by life’s pitfalls.

Who wrote these policies?  I am always amazed and appalled at the lack of common sense in these statutes.  Who’s really crazy?  Did the politicians even read these regulations that they passed?  How does it make sense that we have a two tier system that provides inadequate medical help, or no wherewithal to be able to access medical care without becoming homeless?

The media focuses on gun control, but for me it’s a case of which came first, the chicken of the egg?  Gun violence is a symptom and result of the underlying mental health issues that drives some people in desperation to such acts.  Basically in America, you have to be a danger to yourself or others before you can get any real help.  When you have a policy that leaves the mentally ill with the choices of the rock or the hard spot, it shouldn’t be a surprise that desperate people can do desperate things.  The real surprise is that more people don’t act out violently, and instead just turn inward and needlessly suffer, living lives of quiet desperation or committing suicide out of hopelessness.


America’s Universities Produce Educated Idiots

My best friend, who I’ll call Mac (Makes Assloads of Cash) is a network engineer who plans on getting an MBA.  He has his choice of jobs anywhere in the world and always makes six figures.  He’s also the stupidest person I know.  He knows all there is to know about whatever he does with computers, but otherwise, is completely ignorant in every other way.  He has an atrocious vocabulary and is prone to making up words a la George W., has no knowledge of history, literature, art, philosophy, the major ideas and events that have shaped world development, is totally uncultured, shallow, doesn’t analyze, or reflect.  In short, he is a creature of our higher education system and is a good little brainwashed consumer.  He knows how to make money and spend it and that is the sum of his life.  He is the epitome of the Modern Educated Idiot that our educational system now churns out.

To be fair, that was the way he was when I first met him.  The reason we were able to be friends is that he appreciates the truth and isn’t afraid of criticism.  He’s Indian (dot, not feather) so he’s used to an angry woman yelling at him, criticizing him, and hitting him and was unfazed by my vehement, blunt tirades.  If you give him a good reason, he is more than willing to admit his mistake, which is rare enough, but even more miraculous, would CHANGE!  And although he was ignorant as a stump, he has intellectual curiosity.  Too lazy to read a book, but happy to have someone explain it and be interested.   As for me, although I am harsh and angrily blunt, he respected that all my rants were based on logic and reason.

It’s all those college papers.  For instance-my thesis statement “You are a fucking dumbass!”  Which is then supported by at least three reasons with evidence and examples, followed by “in conclusion” or “therefore”  “You are a fuckwit.”.

On the other hand,  I am the Classic Educated Idiot.  I was a history major who also took a lot of English lit, psychology, sociology, dabbled in drama, art, mythology and folklore.  Yeah, if it’s esoteric and has no practical application, that’s my forte.  I’m the head in the clouds, ivory tower dwelling intellectual academic type.  Everything I learned had nothing to do with the real world and real jobs.  I have no practicality whatsoever, no technical or math ability, lousy spatial relationships, and loathe business and commerce as the venal pursuit of filthy lucre like a cockroach, greedy and rapacious, eating and tainting everything in it’s path.  Of course, I’m poor as ass and have no career as the things I love to do and am good at have no value in this world.  Besides my antipathy, I also have no ability for the things that make money in our society.  Just like athleticism, it takes a certain type of person to have a talent for those things, and I suck at commerce.

So from his education, he initially saw me as a total loser as I wasn’t a career or commercial success and wasn’t rich.  From my educational standpoint, he was a pathetic, soulless, brain dead waste of a meatbag that was barely human.  Ah, the irony that we became besties!  But it works because we are a good yin/yang combination.  He’s good at the things I’m bad at and vice versa and we bolster each other’s weak points and benefit from the other’s strengths.

The problem with our higher education is illustrated by Mac and I representing the extremes in producing graduates and citizens that lack a complete education to create a well-rounded individual that can contribute both humanity and practicality.

Why do you suppose bankers, financiers, and CEOs are such rapacious, greedy monsters with no conscience?  They have no balance, no appreciation for anything besides making money.  If they are taught nothing of the humanities, of course those are the people who will cut funding for any arts programs since they have no appreciation for those things.

If our leaders studied history, perhaps they wouldn’t repeat the glaring mistakes of the past.  “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” as the saying goes, and our leaders are doing exactly that.  They are looking to make big bucks in the short term without care for the consequences to people or society.  They ignore the fact that all these policies are the same old tools of oppression that caused untold suffering of the masses, and in the end, resulted in revolution of some sort.

If anyone studied history, the direct parallels between the Industrial Revolution and the social and economic conditions during the Gilded Age at the the turn of the century and today’s Technological Revolution are plain to see.   Vast income inequality, power in the hands of the wealthy industrialists that controlled the laws of the government keeping workers subservient and without rights.  The suppression of unions and the ability of workers to organize.  Crony capitalism and the use of government to further the interests of the elite and use of civil and military force against it’s citizens were rampant in 1919.  Check out the history of labor riots, race riots, immigration riots, and the state of America during that time.  As for globalization and exploitation of foreign workers?  Back then it  was known as colonialism.

The decline and fall of the Roman Empire had all the same elements as the conditions America is living with.  Globalization and displaced workers with high unemployment due to cheaper labor sources.  We have outsourcing and offshore companies, they had conquered peoples and slaves-but most of us are nothing but subjugated wage slaves.  The Roman Senate became a corrupt institution run by an oligarchy who took bribes to further the interests of  preserving the obscene wealth and privilege of a minority upper class.  Hmm, we even have the same name for that same corrupt institution-the Senate (gee, what a co winky dink) as well as the House, the Presidency, and an increasingly corrupt Supreme Court where judges hold their position for life.  Supplicants are now Lobbyists.  Rome propagated it’s own mythology as a Republic where all had the rights and privileges of citizens.  America has it’s bullshit Horatio Alger rags to riches mythos of a meritocracy.  Rome provided free bread to the unwashed masses to prevent riots from desperation and hunger.  Every society is three meals away from revolution as the saying goes.  Rome sponsored dazzling spectacles of chariot races, gladiatorial combats, and elaborate productions to keep  the populace distracted.  America has cheap fast food, a token provision of food aid, and the vast circus of the media to keep people beguiled with the trivial, distracted with the sensational, and fed misinformation and propaganda to keep people ignorant, apathetic, and keep voting against their own interests..  Rome had a massive immigration problem and was eventually sacked by pissed off immigrants living on their borders.  Theirs were Germanic, ours are Mexican.

We are constantly hectored to get a college degree.  But realistically, if we all got one, it would be worthless.  I’ve felt for a long time that an undergrad degree is the equivalent of a high school diploma in the 1950’s.  You need the piece of paper that says “I went”, but other than that, it’s worthless.  You can’t apply for a lot of shitty, low wage office jobs without it, but the return isn’t always worth it when the world is flooded by a mandatory degree.  More doesn’t mean better.

Besides, not everyone is suited for college, they don’t have the interest or aptitude for the type of learning and work skills you learn at university.  If everyone went to college, who’s going to build things, fix things, do all the practical labor that needs to be done in the world?  So is the future going to be filled with janitors that all have a college degree?

Universities also need to balance their teaching of humanities and arts with real world practical skills as well.  Absolutely nothing I learned in college is really applicable to real work.  In fact, it’s the opposite.  In college, you are encouraged to think outside of the box, be an individual, take chances, think for yourself, challenge accepted notions.  The real world mostly demands obedience and is totally rigid and you are a prisoner of group think, dumbing everything down to the lowest common denominator working in teams.

Other than going to grad school and becoming a teacher, there are no other outlets for me to use my history degree.  The divide in our educational system which is reflected in the values of our society shows in the type of pay we reward CEOs even when they fail, compared to how much we pay teachers, daycare workers, health workers who take care of people.

Without a venue for higher thinking and encouraging the arts, we are limiting creativity which inhibits new ideas of not only products and services, but for a different way of life altogether besides our slavish devotion to capitalism.  But then again, that’s what they want.  When ideas, principles, philosophy is absent, all that is left is materialism-that which you can see and hold in your hot little hands.  Bereft of higher thinking, we are reduced to mindless animals-consume, buy, own, eat, drink, sleep, fuck.

America has got to find a happy medium and well-balanced curriculum that creates well-rounded people with practical skills and preparation for the real world.  You  also have to give people the ability to think about things to have valude outside of consumerism, that values ideas and feelings as well as material goods.  Otherwise, you end up with the Unethical Educated Idiot and the Esoteric Educated Idiot.