Sunday, April 28, 2013

Extremism of all flavors

If you are reading this, you can use a mouse!

In the last year I've become increasingly aware of something I find IMMENSELY bothersome. There is a great deal of extremism everywhere I look, not just religious, but political, social, economic... the sky is the limit! So I want to take some time today and talk about some of these extremist mentalities and the problems they create.

How do I define extremism?
Just so I have everyone on the same page with me, I define it as a single minded fixation on one idea with little regard (or respect) for opposing points of view. So there is a difference between someone making a claim and using well balanced evidence to back it up and a person who makes a claim and uses only evidence that supports their claim to insist they were right.

Extremists come in all shapes and sized so don't think I'm just referring to Muslims hellbent on jihad, that's only one type and a relatively small one at that.

Extremists among you!!
We all know them, they occupy little parts of our lives, be they the person on facebook who only posts political updates to the bible thumper down the street that thinks it's his/her duty to save the gays from their sinful lifestyle. Those examples are easy to spot, but what about not-so-easy to spot extremists? Well, it all depends on your locale and disposition, but there's ways to find them, look for folks who have an unhealthy fixations on something and will defend it at all costs (Living in Texas  that usually comes in the form of 2nd amendment supporters). Take some time and look around and in short order you'll come up with a list of at least 5 people who fit that description.

What do I do now?
Well, here's the kick: try and see it from there point of view. These people feel the way they do because of a certain reason, some thing happened. Put their shoes on and look at the situation through their eyes, sometimes you'll be surprised to find you agree with them, but just take issue with how its worded or presented. A friend of mine is on the far end of the political spectrum and at first I loathed talking politics with him because I was scared I'd get an inbox full of hate mail, but after many conversations and debates I found that he and I are not very different, we simply view the same solution to a problem from different perspectives. He and I have our disagreements, but we never talk bad about each other to anyone because we have a mutual understanding that we're simply coming from different backgrounds. Strangely enough, even though our methods differ, we still desire similar, if not the same outcome to a situation. It is ALWAYS useful to have a differing opinion than that of your own because it help you understand that not everyone is as crazy as we normally think.

The major theme I'm trying to get across is that we as a people are looking for more and more reasons/ways to segregate ourselves and it's time we do the opposite. There is much more to be gained by cooperating and finding our common threads than pushing everyone away. This can be applied to the political arena, matters of belief/non-belief, society, and just about anything else you can think of.

That's all I feel like talking about for now, I'll be back when I've got my thoughts gathered for my next post: "Today's America and the Millennial Generation"

Note: As a favor to me, could you please make sure you use your turn signals and stop at stop lights? I'm becoming paranoid about that. (spread the word!)

Like it, share it, +1 it, facebook it, reddit it, and link it! I want to share my thoughts with more of you and your friends...and their friends...and their friends...and so on.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

GOP, Welfare, and Political Segregation

Hello again! I hope you all have had fun since we last talked!

Today I feel like grabbing the third rail of social interaction, I'm going to talk about politics. I count myself as an independent centrist with some democratic/left-wing leanings, but like many who call themselves a republican I too would like the government a bit further out of my day to day life. In fact, there's MANY things about the republican party I agree with.

So, why am I not a republican? Simple: The republican party I want hasn't existed since the 1800's. I am a big believer in self reliance, I believe each person is responsible for their own actions and that 99% of their successes and failures are on their shoulders. So when I watch the news and I see republicans talking about laws that limit the freedoms of 52% of the population I am a little more than bothered. When I see republicans talking about trying to make laws that say the united states' official religion is Christianity they're trampling on the rights of 76 million people (according to 2008 statistics).

I want everyone to know that through my eyes they have the right to practice religion (or not) as they see fit, yet when see people say "this is a christian country, the founding fathers said so." I have to trot out the first 10 words of the first amendment to the bill of rights.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."

Everyone like to say the next words "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." But, they forget the first amendment says fairly clearly that the government CAN NOT support a religion. So the idea the country is a christian country is not a true one. The accurate statement is: "This country is predominantly christian." So if you're a practicing satanist, you have the right to say a prayer to him in school right next to the person saying the christian prayer and the person saying a prayer to Zeus.

The republican party has been branded the "rich white man's party" and for good reason, the party's ideals have been hijacked by extremists. We rail and shout at muslim extremists but when pastors that advocate the murder of non believers are allowed audiences with the leaders of the country and have the power to get people elected, it is time to step back and check your priorities.

I will say it out loud, right here and now: the republican party has lost its way. No longer is it the party about restricting government power and spending, it is the party of christian extremist trying to turn these United States into a christian version of Saudi Arabia.

Moving on

Welfare is a tough issue to discuss in government, should we have it, how much should it cost, how much should it yield? I support welfare, but not in the traditional sense. There are people out there who genuinely need help and this country has made a mission of making sure everyone gets a fair shot at success. I support those in dire need receiving some government assistance, but for a limited time and it is only usable once every several years. There's many problems that can be solved through social programs with the goal of providing information rather than products. A common issue for those at the bottom of the class ladder is access to information regarding sex and disease. A program to encourage safe sex or abstinence can help a great deal simply by communicating that sex has a high probability of leading to children and that there are consequences. STD's too can be mentioned, show people what could happen if they aren't safe of don/t see a doctor from time to time. A program like this, aimed at teens can reduce the number of women dependent on welfare because they can't find a better job due to having to take care of kids. This isn't condoning sex, it's admitting that sex is out there and people should be careful. Preventing 1000 pregnancies could result in up to 1000 fewer people needing welfare services and further reducing the strain on the system.

The nastier side of welfare is the dependency, too many have grown up on it and are used to it and see it as a way of life. Welfare is easy to abuse, especially since there's so many asking for it. It is easy to loose someone in the system and let them collect money they should not be collecting. Its easy to cheat the system too, I once watched someone use a food stamp card at Sams to buy a 56" plasma screen TV. She got around it by including some food in her purchase.

The moral of the story I'm going for here is: yes, we need some welfare, but we need to update and overhaul the system if we're going to make it sustainable. So, don't downright dismiss it if you don't like and don't don't champion it if it isn't going to work correctly or is easy to abuse.

One last bit concerning the "Affordable Healthcare Act". I can see how it is intended to work. Millions of people don't have insurance, when they go to the hospital, they can't pay the bill wich is then hoisted upon the government to pay. This costs MILLIONS AND MILLIONS every year. I looked into insurance for myself, I found some for under $100 a month and it covers all of my needs. If you're spending money on internet and cell phones and cable TV (Data phones coming around $100/mo avg., Cable/internet for about $150/mo avg). Then your priorities are backwards. You need to entertain yourself AFTER you've taken care of yourself. There is no reason you should sacrifice your health insurance for cable TV. GO THE F*** OUTSIDE AND VISIT THE PARK! PLAY A SPORT, RIDE A BIKE, GET OFF YOUR A**!
I am proud to say that even though I make less than $1,000/mo I still have the ability to pay for health insurance because I don't spend it on frivolous things like cable TV. Get insurance and stop leeching off the government, if we can do that, then we can reduce the cost of medicaid to the taxpayer.


I want to talk about political segregation for a minute. I have seen in the last few years so many people sling derogatory terms at others for no reason or crime other than simply not belonging to their preferred political party.

Libitards, Repugnacans, and a few I won't mention just for the strength of words. I can not tell you how frustrating it is when I see a good idea being drowned out by partisan bitching. It could be an idea that fixes the entire social/class system of the country, but just because a democrat came up with it, it HAS to be evil (according to the republicans). A new way of saving money in the government and reducing spending AND taxes has been devised but it's an evil plan by the republicans to defund everything and return us to the days of the old west where we shot everyone for everything! (according to the democrats). I find it deplorable that people are looking for a reason to segregate each other. Don't think I mean by race, this applies to any and all skin colors.

All in all, I just wanted to advocate some social responsibility. Don't treat others like trash just because they don't agree with you on how to run the country. Be responsible for your self and your health before you burn your money on sitting and watching TV. And PLEASE be responsible when deciding on your political affiliations, what one politician does does not mean others will follow suit. Voting straight ticket only serves to give crazy people the opportunity to do real damage*.

*Such as electing a home school mother who has no degree in education or core studies (math/science/history/language, yet worked in accounts receivable for a small oil company) to the state board of education because she campaigned on getting rid of "obamacare" when Texas school funding (derived from sales tax) and curriculum has nothing to do with federal level healthcare. It's true, I swear it!