Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Culture Change

So I don't know what is the deal with Barns and Noble but they have done a fantastic job making it as horrible place to go be as possible.  Say what you want about Books a Million but at least they have chairs that don't make me want to kill myself and everyone around me.

That said I ended up buying a political journal at Barns and going to read it at Books.  There is a message in there somewhere I am not sure where though.

Moving onto the topic at hand I've been reading more and more articles on entitlement spending (medicare, medicaid, and social security+other stuff) so as to better get a handle on it.  Entitlement spending is one of those issues that sounds like it can be fixed with the magic wand of common sense but in actuality are quite complex.  As a result everyone seems to have a dismissive overly simplistic idea of how to deal with it.  None of the major news outlets are doing much to help matters.  Of course then again what are they gonna say, "this is some complex shit and here are some sources so you can go educate yourself?" No they are going to knuckle down and do the best they can with summaries.  Oh well.

To give a little bit of background one of the most intellegent peices of writing I've read on the topic is that our Congress is grossly under equipped to handle entitlement spending.  Congress, while capable of great things and passing sweeping legislation, is to short sighted to effectively plan for increased costs of entitlements, and to appropriately deal with the problems that causes.  The narrative of the baby boomers taking the surplus, running away with all the money and fucking over the kids is a symptom of that.  That narrative is true only to a point.  It is mostly a short sighted congress inflating entitlements so as to stay in power and no one like the senate, president or an independent commitee coming by and saying "knock that shit off".  I mean jesus most people prolly assumed that when their social security benifits increased it was done so in a way that wasn't "more loans".  We have to remember that our level of political awareness was nothing near this level 10 or even 8 years ago.  So there is a lot of catching up to do.

Anywho the article came up with some neat ideas how to address the problem.  Good for it.

Moving on the other article I read was more interesting to me because it advocated more of a culture change instead of various policy changes.  This article was both amazing and loathsome at the same time which is quite a feat.  While I and the author both advocate culture changes and government getting the fuck out of the way of said culture changes the article advocated an increase of institutions like marriage and churches whereas I am advocating...well something else.  I mean I have the damnest feeling that if I were to take that article and use it publicly as evidence supporting gay marriage I'd get an awfully angry letter from the author stating that's not what he meant.  He never came out against gay marriage specifically but considering the fact that every other solution to his problem involved churches I just got that feeling.

Still we have plenty of common ground and he did bring a really interesting and fresh perspective to the subject.  In the 60's lots of things changed, distrust in government, the rise of divorce, the fall of church attendence, and the worst welfare program ever was enacted.  Maybe wellfare came in the 70's damnit now I wanna know...60's I was right!  For those of you who don't know for every dollar you earned you recieved one less dollar of funding.  So if you got a shitty low paying job that didn't make ends meet you would be receiving less wellfare dollar.  I'm not joking they put that shit on a 1:1 ratio.  So most people made more money sitting at home.  Not only that but most people made more money having more kids and staying at home.  Hence the welfare queen.  Things have improved in most states.

Not a bad idea even though it got off to horrible start and is still an inherently broken system which produces behaviours on the inverse of that which it would like to inspire.  The problem is that it chased off thousands of charitable organizations that the government all the sudden felt the need to micro manage.  The article used the example of the San-Antonio based "Victory Fellowship".  The following is rage inducing.  Over the course of 40 years this program helped over 13,000 people get clear of drugs and alcohol.  They were nearly shut down by the government because they used faith based techniques  and they employed former fellons instead of following some rediculous sets of standars set by the state who is so far removed from any sort of problem what so ever that you can pretty much tell they were coming up with this shit by ear.  Okay yeah whatever not a fan of faith based but they were helping so many people.  A venerable institution helped that many people in such a tiny area?  Holy shit these people should be awarded congressional medals, have statues built after them, they should appear in text books and be applauded as American heroes.  Instead we did the direct opposite because of the stupidity inherent in bureaucracy.  Plain and simple.  The story of Victory Fellowship isn't unique but it is interesting to see what sort of work welfare did to usurp the various forms of citizenship we once had.

Okay so this guy believes that famiies and churches are the answer.  Good for him.  The problem is that for most people who haven't grown up christian churches are pretty much a poison pill.  To many of them a weird.  I know I've been to some weird fucking churches.  To many of them do nothing for the community around them.  To many of them just aren't very good.  Add that to the negative press the catholic church garners, the jesus hates fags people, the nice folks who stand on street corners informing me that I am going to hell, the guys who just kinda show up on campus and tell me I am going to hell, the pushing annoying christians who won't leave you alone even when you are really into your book or vigorously typing, the KKK, and the mormons and you have a serious god damned image problem.  That isn't to say that there isn't some great churches out there.  I am saying that they have one massive image problem.

I am also saying they are totally unnecessary.  The idea of citizenship is a problem in our country.  To often I encounter people who believe they deserve while offering nothing in return but sob stories about how much they deserve.  There is a lot of undirected mailice to the poor and less fortunate that I never really understood but I see it all the time.  But this is the start of a tangent.

We both believe that a change in culture is nessisary but he wants to go back to a previous set of ideal when you can't.  We can never go back things have changes and changing them back is the opposite of progress which is what we both want.  The thing is that we have to enact changes in our culture that promote being better people.  Once upon a time taking a large bonus while not adiquetly paying your lowest earning employees was a mark of scorn.  Now it is something people do.  It is accepted so much so that we want laws to stop it.  Changing culture is hard.  Really hard.  But it can be done.  It happens all the time without help from anyone.  Now if we could change it for the better well wouldn't that be something?

I think it can be done.  Certain anarchist groups have the right idea.  There are more and more organiations that are centered around non religious based do gooding.  This can happen.

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