[Repost] What is a Woman Worth?

No matter how many times one hears about these statistics and these anecdotes about what it’s like to be a woman, the issue doesn’t become less real. These issues didn’t become a thing all of a sudden. It only seems so overstated because it wasn’t even deemed a real problem and ignored. When you hear so many of the same things from over half of our population, you’d think people would pay attention and see things for what it is but the same machinations that prevented 1992’s Year of Woman from coming to fruition is also at work now, once again, pushing back against a wave of voices that demand change. Our generation isn’t as idealistic or as naive as those before us. We know what’s up. This upcoming election is critical. Either way, we will break ground or live to see the old ways buried.

Excerpt:

In that same Atlantic Article, Fear of a Female President, I’d sent my father, author Peter Beinart makes the case that there is a clear link between how women are viewed and how they are treated. Hillary was hatedin large part because women are hated.

In 2010, researchers Victoria L. Brescoll and Tyler G. Okimoto conducted a study in which they asked respondents about a fictional male state senator and a fictional female state senator. They described both as “ambitious” and found  that the respondents’ views of the male senator did not change when they described him as such, but, when thinking about the female state senator, both men and women “experienced feelings of moral outrage.”

In 2008 Psychologists Jennifer K. Bosson and Joseph Vandello coined the term “precarious manhood.” Their body of research posits that manhood is something to be earned—a status that must continuously be asserted for fear of losing it. While womanhood is perceived as biological, manhood is determined by social achievements, power, status, and aggression. And men are keenly aware of this.

While womanhood is perceived as biological, manhood is determined by social achievements, power, status, and aggression. And men are keenly aware of this.

Merchandise sold in and around the arenas where Trump hosted his rallies read: Don’t be a pussy. Vote for TrumpFinally, someone with balls; and Life’s a bitch: don’t vote for one. And of course, the rallying cry of the right: Lock her up.

We assumed the “her” meant Hillary. But now the chants continue, some two years later. Over the summer, a group of high school students began chanting “Lock her up” at a leadership conference for young conservatives while Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed the crowd. He laughed and repeated the words back. Call me crazy (and some will), but the “her” feels bigger than one woman. The “her” seems to refer to female ambition, female autonomy, female power.

If manhood is something men must constantly prove, the policies men shape cannot possibly be immune to their need to exert dominance and power. To codify that dominance into law.

Link to full article here.

Thoughts On Our Walkout | Student Responses

In the past decade or so, one of the social movements that have been gaining momentum is the one for gun reform. Most of it, you all already know; it’s been on the news and everyone’s outraged one way or another, understandably or otherwise. It’s been a while since the March 24th and the April 20th Walkout and we see that the continuous publicity from both the continuing school shootings and the actions of the student activists has pushed the issue to the forefront of national news and remains one of the biggest sources of disagreement in government.

Right now, gun reform remains one of the most contentious issues and it’s something that we as young students have a lot of stake in as the instances of weapons appearing on campuses has increased regardless of whether there were casualties in all those instances. Still, this has widespread consequences on our youth. While we may be desensitised to violence in the ghettos of places like Chicago, school shooters aren’t tied to a specific marginalised demographic so not even the gov’t can pretend that it’s because of the moral failings of a specific demographic. They can’t attach the old terms to this type of threat so this is a chink we can use to expose the fallacies they’ve been using to divert attention and sit on their hands for important policy reforms that should be passed when Columbine happened.

Over a hundred thousand students have been directly exposed to gun violence at school since Columbine [link]. Some come away with PTSD, some never go back to school and still others see that they will need to take matters into their own hands.

Amidst the political discourse in this country, even the sacredness of childhood has been violated. It is something that everyone should have in common. It is something everyone should relate to. If you can’t understand how frightening it is to have to have an increased number of drills we’ve had these past few years, the crazy number of security cameras in each hallway — all in a place where we are supposed to grow and feel safe, then you’re an unfeeling human being.

Imagine hearing a loud sound in the school cafeteria or accidentally breaking a beaker in science class and thinking, even for a split second, that it was a gunshot. If it doesn’t change and guns are just as easily available, this is what the future holds while schools become more like prisons with metal detectors and security guards. All so that that one person who does decide to bring a gun to school can’t use it.

A classmate at my school collected some responses from our students after our walkout. These are some things that students at my school have said about it:

What are your thoughts about having this walkout? What effects or changes would you like to see as a result of this event?

Safi Haider, Senior

“I completely respect the students who walkout AND those who choose not to. 2nd amendment rights are a polarizing issue, but they cannot be discussed when both sides are unable to have a calm discussion.

“However, I believe that scheduling the walkout like the school did turn it into an assembly rather than a demonstration. Ideally, I would like to see legislators take steps to ensure that schools are safer, be it through mental health programs or gun control. Although this is unlikely, I would be satisfied if officials at least recognize that students are willing to take actions to support their cause. In other words, I want the government to see that our generation does more than “just complain and do nothing.”

Raeed Zaman, Senior

“I think the walkout is a small but necessary step towards the peace that we all want. Although it may seem as if it’s political significance is minimal, it’s still a baby step that will exemplify the cause. However, there is a common misconception about the purpose of the walkout. People seem to look over the idea of remembering and honoring the people who passed and politicizing the event.

“One change I would like to see as a result of this event is unity. Because of the way politics works in this country, social issues all end up being politicized. Once something is politicized, we stop listening to each other and conform to the ideologies of the party we affiliate to. So instead of uniting to fix the problem together, we are dividing and arguing about who’s right and who’s wrong.

“I hope that this walkout will teach children, adults, and politicians the fact that we all have similar goals but different ways to approach them. I hope that we can find a way to come to a middle ground by reaching out to people who have different viewpoints than us and looking for middle ground rather than shutting those people out.”

Ellen Zhang, Senior

“The walkout is a way for us to physically show that we care and that we will stand out and do things that some adults and Congress aren’t willing to do. If we don’t say anything, then we will just be letting others speak for us. We have voices too and we are the ones being affected the most. If the adults in Congress won’t do the most logical thing to keep us safe, their children and our country’s children safe, then we are forced to grow up faster to do what they couldn’t do for us. This is why we walk out.

“The walk out is for advocating for stricter gun control. Schools are banning backpacks, installing security cameras and setting up security checkpoints because they couldn’t prevent teenagers and those who wish to do harm from acquiring weapons. This is backwards.

“Are we protecting guns from people or are we protecting people from guns? There is no debate on which way it should be. There’s no use pretending that pro-gun-control is anti-democratic or whatever other reason people come up with because democracy should be for the people and by the people. When the people are endangered, those who oppose measures to rectify that are the ones who are anti-democratic. Protect people, not guns.”

Anonymous, Junior

“My thoughts about having this walkout were that it was about time. Throughout the last several years, school shootings have occurred time and time again. Why? Its because significant change has not been made. This walkout, led by students across America, was a way to bring awareness to this issue so that change can occur.

“This walkout gives me hope and this hope is what I and other people need in order to truly make a change in their community -the hope that their actions will contribute to the greater good. Overall, I feel grateful to have this experience. I’m hopeful for changes in gun laws. I hope to see people unite and find a solution to this tough problem.”

To read the whole article, click the link here. The article was written by Madhurya Gajula.

Never let up the pressure. Never forget. Never again.

Castigation or Correction: The Aftereffect of Our Prisons | A Research Paper

As history has progressed, mankind has had to develop factors that contributed specifically to the functionality of their society. One of the most prominent factors has been the addition of laws which set boundaries for the civilization as a whole. However, when laws are broken there must be some reinforcement that emphasizes the authority of these rules. In the American society, the correctional system is the basis in which individuals are supposed to be “enrolled” in, thus helping them reform their ways and become better contributors to humanity.

However, in this day and age, the American correctional system has become privatized to relieve the pressure on citizen tax dollars. Due to this, the correctional system has been reduced to punishment, isolation and almost indentured servitude instead of the reformation that was originally intended. In addition, when individuals are sent to prison they are left with the reduced ability to be able to receive a legal job. This matter has left a significant amount of minorities, immigrants and otherwise socially handicapped people unemployed, on welfare, and usually ending right back into prison. As a descendant of immigrants and a minority whose lived in areas with a high population of former inmates, this subject is daunting especially to myself. When I consider all of the good people that made mistakes, were forced into situations based on their circumstances or people who were just trying to survive, I can’t imagine how their experiences in prison have not only tainted their perspective on humanity but have also tainted their futures. When a portion of our population has been subjected to this dehumanizing treatment and left with limited options in their progression the question now becomes, to what extent does our present correctional system affect a person’s ability to successfully function in society?

For the sake of this examination, the definition of success will be limited to “maintaining the necessary income to live above the poverty line, while remaining in good legal standing, as well as having the opportunity to advance in life”. While this definition may seem simplistic, difficulties meeting this goal can arise for even the most educated and able individuals. Thus when persons of a social status that are already less likely to successfully go through the system, their results are drastically different. In all actuality, the American correctional system inhibits the progression of an individual’s functionality in society due to the fact that not only is the person in question now limited in their possible economic advance but also in their social standing and experiences. In order to examine the validity of my thesis, I will analyze statistics provided by the American government in regards to the demographics of those who have been previously incarcerated. In addition to this, I will break down personal accounts from people who have been in prison as well as those who haven’t to compare the social experiences of both groups. By doing this I will be able to correlate the evidence that our government has gathered to the events that people have encountered.

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There was a time when treadmills were used as punishment in prisons.

In order to discuss how the prison system has deviated from its original intentions, it is imperative that I give background on the origins of said system. Before the 18th century there wasn’t a well-defined prison system, instead, people who were accused of committing crimes would be held in crude dungeons and held in torturous restraints. However, these areas weren’t for long-term holding, these caverns were set aside for temporary holding until the accused would be either acquitted of their crime or found guilty. During the colonial times in America, a guilty verdict could be punished by ranges of castigation. From public humiliation to branding, to lashings and hangings. However, it was very rare for a person to be held as a form of punishment. Nevertheless, as time progressed these methods of penalization became seen as barbaric and in the 1800’s a new form of criminal “reformation” was introduced. A grander reflection of our implementation of solitary confinement, the prisoners of the 1800’s were sent to factories where they silently reflected on their sins. Communication with other prisoners was strictly forbidden and being caught in the action would result in additional punishment. This method of rehabilitation was favored because not only was it responsible for the breakdown of an individual’s spirit, it would give way to mental illnesses that incapacitated the criminal. Furthermore, inmates were subject to strenuous labor without pay or concern for their safety. During this time, obedience and hard work were the markers of criminal rehabilitation although during this time reformation of the prison system had begun in Pennsylvania which would influence the impending 1900’s.

Two of the major pioneers in the improvement of the correctional system during this time were Dorothea Dix and Enoch C. Wines. Dorothea Dix strove for the refinement of the way mentally ill people were treated in prison. This eventually led to the separation of the mentally ill into asylums where they could be educated and receive treatment. Enoch Wines focused on the betterment of the correctional system for all; Wine’s conclusion that the current prison methods were actually severely ineffective led to the implementation of new policies regarding sanitary conditions, women’s participation and education in prison. As the progressive era emerged these two reformers were given greater consideration and eventually the 1900’s became the era of prison restoration. Progressives shifted their focus from hard punishment and social isolation to psychological methods of rehabilitation. During this time prisoners were sentenced to indefinite sentences and were released when they could prove that had been purged of the criminal tendencies. This method would lead to our contemporary version of probation and parole. With this major revolution, the correctional system was set to rehabilitate its inmates and lead to the betterment of society’s “deviants”.

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However, during the late 20th century American encountered a “prison boom”, a massive increase in the prison population (Porter, Lauren). This explosion in the number of people under the guide of the correctional system was due to the expansion of the American law enforcement agencies. Prison sentences for minor crimes were being increased and new laws were instituted leading to an increase of things considered illegal. Eventually, the state budgets allocated to prison growth were drained and politicians were floundering for a way to make good on their promises to crack down on crime. In order to supplement this growing population, the US prison system began to privatize their jails to exclusive third-parties. The first third-party company to profitize the prison system was the Corrections Corporation of America. This method of prison expansion has been a major source of controversy due to the fact that these corporations run at least 10% of America’s prison for profit (Pauly, Madison). In essence, the issue lies with the fact that when a company is running for profit, the end goal is money, whereas the end goal of the correctional system should be correction of society’s deviants. In all actuality, these groups aren’t focused on educating or reforming our criminals, instead, they stand to gain monetary awards when the prison population is increased.

Now with a foundation established on the previous ineffectiveness of the correctional system and a brief summary on the history of America’s most controversial prison system, I can examine the effects our contemporary system has on the individuals within it. Now the validity of my conclusion is based on my ability to prove that the correctional system hinders two factors that contribute to an individual’s ability to succeed in society: the economic and social advancement of an individual. The economic aspects that contribute to a person success in America include employment and financial stability. The social factors that contribute to a person’s success include location and education. In order to defend my thesis, I will argue that our current correctional system 1) causes former inmates to lose job opportunities, 2)lowers the average income of former inmates, 3)contributes to the likelihood of former prisoners staying in a bad environment, and 4) lowers the chances of a former prisoner being educated.
To begin with, I’d like to review the statistical data on employment after prison. As of 2008, the percent of former inmates that was unable to meet income through employment was 70% (Vischer, Christy), the methods of income varied over means such as governmental assistance, assistance from friends and family as well as informal work coming in at the top 3.

As the prison population grew and political tension in America rose during the election of Obama, the number of post-inmates unemployed increased to 75% in 2013, after Obama’s re-election (Gramlich, John). As stated by a director of Columbia Law School’s department of Prisoners and Families clinic, “You can almost look at incarceration as a contagious disease,” Genty said. “Once somebody has that taint, they are just looked at differently. It’s not even at the rational level.” This bias can be found in various media, including news outlets, and it is only worsening the stigmas associated with former inmates. For instance, on a popular show named “Everybody Hates Chris” one character is often shown to be stealing and eventually being detained and sent to jail. Even though this character has been previously incarcerated, he maintains his socially deviant behavior, which induces the thought that he isn’t capable of rehabilitation. In other instances, such as on “Boyz n the Hood”, former convicts are stereotyped as being violent, stubborn and overall malicious. Despite 59% of convictions being nonviolent, this image of former inmates is portrayed in pop culture and employers fear ‘dangerous felons’ ruining their business reputations (Neyfakh, Leon). Despite most media being fictional, many people are conditioned to understand society- and specific factions- by what they see on television.

In this case, employers see that this individual has repeatedly gone through the correctional system and yet continues their crimes, which makes an employer not want to hire them. In reality, news outlets also perpetrate these thoughts. When someone is suspected of committing a crime one of the first things the media will examine is their criminal history. To employers this seems correlative, a former inmate or convict is suspected of committing another wrongdoing, thus they will continue to commit more crimes (Vega, Tanzana). A former inmate even says that “[he felt] his job applications were going into a “black hole.” This is due to the fact that more in today’s society, jobs are beginning to evaluate the criminal history of prospective employees. In more cases than some, employers aren’t even looking at what the crime was, instead, simply having a conviction makes you a less likely candidate.
When defining success, I used the poverty line as a marker of indication. To be precise in my analysis, the poverty line- as determined by the Federal Government- is $12,060 for an individual (healthcare.gov). It can be assumed based on the analysis of post-incarceration employment rates that former prisoners have a lower average income. A mean decrease of 11% was found between the annual income of post-incarcerated individuals as opposed to their income before incarceration (Freudenberg, Nicholas). However, many other circumstances influence the low income of former inmates. To begin with, many convicts are released early but have to pay monthly fees for parole or probation. On the average, convicts are paying $30-$80 a month, not including court fees or the costs of drug testing and driving for parole check-ups (Schou, Solvej). When individuals aren’t able to pay their parole costs, they are subject to several different consequences. The most frequent “alternatives” are community service and revocation of license until payment can be made. Yet, since the majority of inmates were in poverty before they were convicted, it is likely they will be even more impoverished and lack the resources, such as a car or work, to meet their alternatives.

In addition, like our current correctional facility, probation is also being privatized. Due to this privatization, the focus becomes less on rehabilitation and more on increasing revenue. Revenue that is generated by the recidivism, the relapse of committing crimes, of former inmates. However, this is simply the surface of how probation plays a role in lowering the income of convicts. It is human nature to become concerned with the power and control that one possesses over the environment and in the relationship between probation officer and parolee, the results aren’t exclusive. On an episode of Law and Order: SVU, the interactions between several probation officers and their parolees are dramatized. Probation officers are seen being threatening, aggressive and extorting money from former convicts with threats of falsifying parole violations. However, in real life, cases of probational system corruption are beginning to crop up more frequently. Especially in well-populated cities, where criminal activities occur more, probational misconduct is rampant and has severe consequences for convicts trying to make a new life for themselves. For instance, in the city of Nashville, 2015 was the year many parolees lost their cars, gave up their disability checks, or even foreclosed on their homes(Schou, Solvej). These individuals found themselves being threatened with excessive jail time or increased probation fees if they couldn’t pay their probation officer. In conducting an interview with an individual recently released from prison, Mark* shared his concerns of the correctional system in regards to probation. “Paying probation fees may seem like small costs for your freedom but I have a kid. Providing for a baby and yourself, the pressure is high, man. I’ve thought of selling dope a thousand times since I’ve been out. If I can’t pay probation, I’m back in jail anyway.” (personal communication, [1]2017). This was one of the most emotional accounts, on my behalf, that I received because Mark is only 19. To consider the fact that someone so young is already entrapped in the vicious cycle of crime is daunting. The system of probation is supposed to be a transition between prison and society, yet, it seems to be an increasingly cyclical route of recidivism and less income.

“Section 8 isn’t available to anyone who has a criminal record. Whether or not you serve jail time, you are immediately evicted from your apartment and there aren’t many other places you can go,” said an individual who had her housing assistance revoked. The options left are expensive and require extensive application fees and security deposits. Thus, even if the individual was able to maintain their finances, money would be spent primarily on housing. Many convicts will then find themselves regressing into criminal acts due to lack of support from their community. Due to the lack of community resources, these areas run rampant with criminals and, in the underground world, there is always room for another drug dealer or gang member. Thus, when inmates are released there is an immediate pressure to recede into their old lives, in addition to defensive measures, but also in order to provide for themselves.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. – Nelson Mandela.

This quote has increased in validity since the speaker first said it. As the United States continues to grow and innovate, education becomes more and more a separation between poverty and stability, success and failure. Many inmates, depending on the severity of their crime, have access to a high school education within prison walls. However, education isn’t limited to the simplicity of a high school diploma. Instead many employers look towards college degrees as a symbol of reputability and intelligence. Yet, a very few have access to degree-granting courses and those that do are at risk of losing them due to the high cost of these programs. This is despite the fact that by offering college courses, some correctional facilities have seen their recidivism rate drop by 16% (Westervilt, Eric). Inmates have been determined as being 42% more likely not to recede back to prison. Withholding economical reasons, a college education benefits society as a whole by increasing the rehabilitation factor of prison. Unfortunately, many prisons don’t offer these initiatives and instead, post-prison educational pursuits are harder due to various factors. The most significant reason is that former convicts lack access to basic educational programs. In a growing society of immigration, most urban cities provide little to no formal language assistance. In addition, many convicts simply aren’t afforded the time as they are required to see probation officers frequently as well as trying to actually provide for themselves.

As inmates are released from our correctional facility they are promptly thrust back into an environment that encourages their misconduct. Areas that have high incarceration rates hosts large ghettos that breed malicious intent. For instance, the Miami Dade prison population is the 8th largest in the country with its gang population being the 7th largest in America (Munzenrieder, Kyle.). Even though an inmate may have rehabilitated, crime affiliation follows and this individual may become associated with their criminal history. This can lead to gang members, drug dealers or other offenders preemptively striking in order to maintain criminal hierarchies. In many cases, previous inmates will regress into their criminal activities in order to have protection. Rather than continuing the rehabilitation process, former inmates are cornered into a fight or flight response without the ability to escape. Moreover, in many cases, those who have been previously incarcerated also have family and friends that take part in illegal activities. “I had to give up many of the boys I’ve been down with forever. I just knew that they were going to bring me back to a place I couldn’t be in.” Mark stated. Losing these connections can leave former inmates vulnerable and without the support system they’ve had for years. In addition to the retaliation from other offenders, released inmates have to worry about racial and criminal profiling. Due to over 60% of the prison population being minorities, most noticeably Blacks and Hispanics, a level of racial profiling is obvious (Hagler, Jamal). However, racially profiling released inmates leads to police officers checking criminal databases, in turn, increasing harassment. Being associated with a criminal record gives police an excuse to pursue individuals simply for having a record. In areas with heavy crime, law enforcement is more present and more likely to assume criminal records of the inhabitants. Moreover, when considering their low budgets, these heavily populated cities also lack the necessary resources to integrate former convicts. Coupled with the lack of employment, many of these offenders will take to criminal activities in order to maintain homes and child care.

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This is especially concerning as police are becoming increasingly “better equipped”. Image from cnn.com

In the case of economic endeavours and advancement opportunities, post-secondary education is on the brink of becoming a requirement. Statistics show that those who have a college degree are more than 14% likely to have a job that is career oriented vs a job to “simply get by”(pewsocialtrends.org). Having a college degree puts a former inmate at an advantage against the 66% of America that has no degree, increasing their chances of retaining a career (pewsocialtrends.org). Thus, without education, the majority of former inmates would never have the opportunity to advance. In addition, higher education also contributes to disparities in income between those have had their high school diploma and those who have a college degree. The median annual income difference between a high school graduate and a degree holder is $17,500( pewsocialtrends.org). When comparing this to the previous generations median annual income difference of $15,780, there is a gap of $1,720. This contributes to fact that education has not only grown more essential in order to maintain a career but also to remain above the poverty level in our current economy. When considering the likely chances of a former inmate having a lower income, education becomes a necessary tool to prevent recidivism and increase a former inmates chance of success.
As racial and economic divisions deepen, prison has become a place of punishment doubling as an income generator for private companies. The original purpose of reformation has been deformed into simply sheltering what society refuses to fix. Despite the overwhelming evidence of inefficiency, politicians, private companies and upper-class individuals believe that the correctional system provides opportunities for inmates that they would have never otherwise receive. Granted that many inmates are released gaining a high school diploma in the process, their costs from prisons such as probation and court fees, is likely to offset the advantage of a diploma. In addition, many supporters of our current correctional system emphasize the fact that prison shouldn’t be a reward but instead a consequence. However, this prompts the question of to what extent is prison a negative consequence? In many cases, inmates arrive in jail or prison for non-violent offences and yet when they are released, their crimes are usually more heinous and weigh more on society. In effect, society is punished for its failure to correctly reform the prisoner.

However, the most significant claim of those who support our correctional system is that society is no longer forced to deal with those who have deviated from our norms. Yet, this line of thinking results in a chain of animosity, poverty and increased segregation. As families are broken and children grow in poverty, our youth will see crime as an outlet for rebellion or simply a means of getting by. This becomes a vicious cycle, rarely broken and demonstrated mostly by the minorities in our prisons thus increasing stigmatisms associated with various races. In the end, our correctional system has been outdated for decades and currently is undermining efforts of humanitarians and those who seek to release others from poverty. By reforming the issues analysed in my essay, with a focus on education, our correctional system would begin to change for the better.
Despite including what would be most important in answering my question, I realised that there were several directions I could have taken in the meaning of function. My analysis focused more on economic success rather than mental growth which would also affect an individual’s ability to succeed in life. Understanding the extent of influence prison has on the psychological state on an inmate would allow me to determine if many of the results of prison were from fractured mental states or from reasons entailed in my essay. However, based on my analysis of data and my evaluation of interviews with former inmates, prison has a high negative association with inhibiting the success of those previously incarcerated.

See next page for Bibliography

Politics, Entitlement and Narcissism: I Want This and I Don’t Want Them to Have It

What I feel like is understated in the political environment today is the fact that the people advocating for legislation that is harmful to the planet and to the common people can’t be swayed by logic or any measure of compassion. This sort of unsympathetic, elitist attitude shown by those in power right now can be illustrated in these two quotes from online posts:

“[Referring to the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act] I don’t know how to explain to you why you should care about other people.”

-posted by Lauren Morrill

 

“The salient fact of American politics is that there are fifty to seventy million voters each of whom will volunteer to live, with his family, in a cardboard box under an overpass, and cook sparrows on an old curtain rod, if someone would only guarantee that the black, gay, Hispanic, liberal, whatever, in the next box over doesn’t even have a curtain rod, or a sparrow to put on it.”

-posted by Davis X. Machina

On the first point, it is a question of compassion and the urge to capitalise on an opportunity to better your own situation while worsening the condition of those you believe will be hurt by your actions and on the second point, it is a question of your status compared to those who you think are subpar to you and your desire to maintain your place at the top of the food chain.

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The underlying idea to these attitudes is the fact that as long as nothing bad happens to themselves, then they’re fine with anything as long as they are better able to improve or maintain their own status. For example, there are many members of the Republican party who have deviated from the main agenda of the party because of their personal circumstances. Without naming any names, there is a congressperson that has an immigrant Hispanic wife and therefore opposes the proposed blanket deportation of all supposed illegals, there is a congressperson who has since said, quote “I will support whatever decision she makes,” when asked if he would still be adamantly pro-life if his daughter became pregnant and another congressperson dropped his prejudices against gay marriage because his daughter was a lesbian. These are only some of the examples where people had flip-flopped on issues because they know they are personally affected by the outcome.

So it’s clearly not a question about morality or what’s best for the values and traditions of the country. This is to make as miserable as possible the existence of people that aren’t you and your family. It is an attempt to hold onto an old status quo that should have been discarded and redefined long ago. They don’t want new rules. They want to impose theirs on everyone else not fortunate enough to be them.

So why do these people hold so much power when they clearly aren’t acting in the favour of their constituents? Because, you see, this sort of thought process isn’t only limited to those in power. The second quote illustrates the nature of entitlement and narcissism in this country. This attitude is widespread among the denizens of the United States, playing a big role in the systemic oppression and marginalisation of many racial and ethnic groups and that is also why it’s so dangerous.

It’s the same thing as saying, “I want all the comfort and rights any decent human being should have but more because I don’t want the people I think aren’t as good as I am to have those same rights.” So the rich that can afford costly medical treatment think it’s a waste of their money to help fund a program that provides relief to those who can’t afford treatment for life-endangering illnesses. The ones who grew up in complete families and loving parents disdain those in poverty and criticise them for the condition they were born into and ask why they couldn’t have just gotten a job and made things better for themselves and put their continual misery down to laziness(I could honestly write a whole article on why this is implausible but that’s a topic for another time.).

So how do you remedy this divide between human decency and their sense of what’s owed to them? Well, you can’t really unless circumstances somehow force their hand by threatening their comfort or status. Even if you can’t convert your next door neighbour by doing this, remember that you hold the power of the vote. If enough people make it known that they’re unhappy with how things are going in government and make it clear that it’s going to negatively impact these politician’s careers and reputations, then they’ll either have to step up or risk a painful decline in influence. The wrong side of history has always been so much more vocal than the right side and it takes a lot to drum up noise for support for progressive legislation so become organised and participate in the legal process.

Fulfill your duty as a person of common sense and serve on juries so cases of police brutality and rape among other crimes get the verdict they deserve. Those who live behind doors in their closed minds won’t change anything until the problem is right, quite literally, at their doorsteps.

That’s all for this time. As always, like and follow if you’ve enjoyed and tell us what you think of this topic in the comments or at our e-mail at whentheskyisovercast@gmail.com.

I’m Lieutenant and I’ll talk to you later.

 

Do You Still Not Understand?

Originally posted on May 4th, 2017

Have you guys seen what the House did with the Affordable Care Act today? And have you seen how they voted? It was really close with 217 voting for the repeal and 213 against. Here’s an image of that from Vox:

AHCA_vote

 

Now do y’all see what I mean by the importance of voting? It’s not okay to stay at home on election day. Recently, Jon Ossoff narrowly missed being elected outright here in Georgia and I saw people coming into my school to vote. Do you understand what’s going on? Another progressive era might be hitting the United States but nothing’s going to change if the young people (or any people for that matter) just stay home. We’re going to inherit the Earth and if you’re able to vote, you can have a say in what happens in our country in the near future. Don’t let someone else ruin things for you. That’s what the young are good at, right? Reaching for your dreams, dreaming for our future.

As a country, we’re already behind. The Europeans have it and even some of the so-called third world countries have begun to create their own healthcare systems.

That’s not all. Healthcare isn’t even the biggest thing about this sort of backwards pedalling we’re currently in danger of falling into as a country. No, it’s also about the environment, women’s rights, the status of the US as an immigrant country and having a population made up of almost 100% immigrants in the first place and many other things. There’s a trend in the US (and also perhaps in other countries, but I don’t know about other countries so I can’t talk about them) where the sense of “other” is becoming increasingly prevalent. So what if my kids and perhaps my grandkids will have to live on an Earth with a foot or two increase in sea level? So what if in a hundred years humans will have made Earth virtually inhabitable by the current level of waste output and environmental damage being done? I’m not going to be alive at that time anyway. There’s also the thinking that if doesn’t really matter if you reduce, reuse or recycle because you’re just one person, what can you do?

Remember that the human population is made up of billions of individuals and the three hundred million that are Americans are one of the biggest polluters on Earth. If only even one million people decide to cut back on their trash, there will be tons upon tons of trash that won’t go to landfills or be burned into toxic gas. In countries where the population is far less and their carbon footprint far smaller, like Sweden, you see them trying to do their part in keeping the health of the environment. That’s just backwards, isn’t it?

And all of this could be changed if only you vote. If you’re afraid of going to rallies or publicly proclaiming your beliefs, that’s fine–no one sees what you vote for anyway.

But then, why do you care anyway? The older generation won’t be there by the time the long-term consequences roll around. We have the highest stakes in all of this but we’re the most passive players. But we’ve never been well-known to plan far ahead or think outside of our little boxes, have we?

I’ll talk to you later.

 

American ADHD

Hello again! This Sunday, we’re going to talk about how America gets distracted. In the meantime, for those who get their news through blogs and Facebook, I hope you’ll read this. No, we’re not going to be talking about the overdiagnosis of ADHD in Americans or the fact that social media and technology is supposedly slowly destroying the millennials (all of which, I should remind you, are now all at least eighteen years old and the oldest of which would be over thirty). We’re going to be talking about a far older epidemic and that is America’s extraordinary ability to get distracted and also what they missed while distracted in the light of recent events.

Today, let’s start with a question. Why does America just seem to be eternally going in circles, each time only inching forward a little bit? Take the abolition movement. A dedicated group of abolitionists have existed in the United States since the beginning in the form of the Quakers and more joined their ranks in time (although their influence would remain limited throughout most of America’s history). And with each cycle of religious revivalism and war, the spirit of abolition would grow along with other humanitarian movements. And yet, when the Civil War handed the issue of abolition to the American people on a silver platter, it was dropped several years later and everything went back to the way they were before. The failure to follow through with the Reconstruction is what pushed the issue of true equality to the late 1900s. Since the beginning, Americans loved to dawdle on important issues because they either benefitted from whatever was controversial or they were distracted by something else.

I’m aware that some parts of the South still teach Reconstruction like it was an invasion of their values and an affront to their way of life. When you look at it, the method with which it was carried out did make it look that way. Certainly, martial law was not needed to enforce the three new amendments that came out of the Civil War. No. Of course, it was necessary! You can see that right after the North withdrew troops from the South, the Southerners went back to their old ways. However, there was a clear lack of effort in trying to really integrate the freedmen into society. Therefore, the old racial attitudes remained in place and reasserted itself after the North withdrew the troops. The dismal state of the Southern economy didn’t really help either and I can imagine that part of the blame fell on the freedmen. And what was the distraction that time around? The Northerners were tired of funding the troops in the South and the divided Republican party meant that policies were hotly debated and often not implemented. The economic boom of the North after the war also served as a distraction as new economic problems sprang up and had to be addressed. This half-assed effort is the first of the failures to address the follow-through of the Civil War and it only went from ok to really really bad. You can still see the residual hatred left over from something that should have been resolved over a century ago. Do you see what I mean? Missed opportunities and the constant backtracking after a little bit of progress.

Speaking of backtracking, this brings me to today’s main topic: what Congress and their Trump (or Trump and his Congress, I don’t know) has done in the recent weeks. Not only has he appointed people who are clearly not qualified to many of his Cabinet positions, he’s picked people that are not only detrimental to the overall wellbeing of the American people but can also affect the planet on a larger scale. He’s rolled back regulatory laws that restrict a company’s ability to dump their waste into nearby streams, he’s opened up protected ecosystems harboring endangered animals to logging and drilling and using the Congressional Review Act, he has undone so many of the things that President Obama has fought for in the last six months of his presidency including the decision to stop the crude oil pipeline that ran within a half-mile of the Standing Rock Native American reservation. Do you see this?

And of course, to serve as a distraction, Micheal Flynn and another potential connection to Russia pops up. I’ll explain why you should care more about what I said in the last paragraph rather than the Russians– because you can’t do anything about the Russians!! Let the CIA and the other intelligence agencies do their job and instead, worry about what’s going on right under your nose! Call your congressman, spread awareness and pay attention! It’s not all about Trump and his shady business. It’s also about you, me and the world. If the current government gets its way, the worse thing wouldn’t be Russia, it will be the toxic goop that will be our water supply. Wake up.

I’ll talk to you on Wednesday.

A more in-depth look at what’s happening.

 

A Proud Hypocrite

There is always one phrase on the news that gets repeated over and over again– America, the leader of the free world. First, that’s awfully pretentious. And secondly, it seems ironic that America also has the highest number of incarcerated adults per capita. The leader of the free world also has the most inmates. However, this isn’t the only example of hypocrisy in American.

Take note: this is not to bash America, it’s only to give you the facts so that you don’t blindly believe in propaganda that is blatantly not true. The most dangerous type of belief is blind faith. Don’t only listen to things that sound good, pay attention to things that sound true.

Despite constant railing against religious extremism, the US supports Israel and Saudi Arabia who are quite religiously stubborn and would like to force their faith on people who don’t believe in the same things they do. This is justified by the US’s invested interest in both countries.

America’s boasted democracy is limited to, at most, elections of the House and Senate. The President is elected by the College and everyone else in the government is appointed by other officials (elected and unelected). The two-party system is run by big corporations, with people from elite schools that has the same connections and the same policies as their predecessors. No wonder why even though America is a wealthy first-world country, it is definitely not considered one of the more progressive ones.

Another thing about America’s democracy: even though America says that democracy is the best form of government, the country has had a hand in overthrowing many fairly elected governments for their own interests, namely access to the other country’s resources.

America is a big preacher of civil rights to other countries, but there is a serious threat to such rights within the country. The gov’t admonishes other countries for their oppression of the people and being aggressive in their foreign campaigns, but they have no room to say any of that because of the problems that they themselves have in their country and their own foreign policy. The same can be said for the general American populace who seem to preach but their own conduct and situation doesn’t support their viewpoint. In terms of domestic affairs, Americans also can’t seem to keep their heads straight on what they want. They complain about gun violence, but they get defensive whenever someone so much as touches their gun laws. 9/11 remains a dark spot in America’s history, but the two atomic bombs the US dropped on Japan doesn’t seem to be much of a big deal.

An older example: the Boston Massacre that killed five civilians occurred around the same time as the veritable genocide of Native Americans. The death of entire nations of Native Americans didn’t deserve a name but a “massacre” of five people was widely publicised and the name is still used today. I understand that the word massacre was propaganda, but really, for Christians and preachers of freedom and liberty, you’d think that thousands of lives would matter more, if not to them then, then to us now. Instead, conflicts with Native Americans are at most marginal in US history classes.

Being part of a minority myself, I can’t help but feel the power of economic and political “persuasion” in everything America does and teaches in relation to foreign countries. The Nanjing Massacre at the hands of the Japanese was passed over in the unit for WWII while Germany, the Allies’ primary enemy, and its Holocaust has been put on a pedestal to overanalyse and discuss. In the end, Japan became one of America’s best friends when it came to like-mindedness of foreign policy and suffered little consequences and no long-lasting condemnation from the international community at large for its war crimes. In the meantime, Emperor Hirohito got only a marginal mention in history classes while Hitler takes up entire pages. There is a clear lack of knowledge when it comes to one event to the other although they are the same in importance and cruelty. When you don’t have background on certain countries, it becomes a lot easier to judge them for any current shortcomings. But that is an article for another time.

The US also has a history of doing anything to stop communism and socialism. For example, Taiwan was readily accepted as a country because it defied China’s Communist regime and also because it harboured many enemies of China, the Guomintang. For those that didn’t know, the Guomintang before and during WWII caused just as much destruction politically and economically as any other invading country during the last years of and after the Qing Dynasty in China. One of the reasons why they were chased out was because of this and the other reason was because Mao Zedong, who was seen as the savior of the country, defeated them in the later part of the Chinese civil war. Now, the reason why someone like him even rose to power at all was because the country was already in turmoil. Happy, healthy countries don’t feel the need to become communist or socialist. There’s a reason why the Chinese people accepted a Communist regime– because what they had before was bad and was made worse by powerful outside forces. All of this just shows how limited the average American’s understanding of world history, recent world history, really is and they condemn what they don’t really understand.

The US says that they are the guardians of liberty, justice, and freedom. That is just not true. The main problem isn’t this hypocrisy though. Being a country with a lot of power, I understand foreign policy becomes complicated and maintaining a consistent stance in the face of different situations is difficult. However, the main problem for me is the fact that the country preaches something it blatantly ignores due to economic and political greed.

That’s all for this time. I’ll talk to you again on Sunday.

Abortion

Hello everybody! Hope you’ve all had a pleasant week so far. Today, I’m going to tackle the issue of abortion. My stance is generally pro-choice and I will explain why. To those who immediately felt a rush of animosity at my words, please restrain yourself from any unreasonable actions. To those who haven’t read the About page on this blog, please do. There are clear rules on this blog as to freedom of speech and I will not censor opposing opinions as long as there is logic to back it up. However, if any comments contain hate speech and/or argues points that I’ve already explained (seriously, please don’t be repetitive), I will delete them. Let’s start.

The main opponent to abortion, it seems, is the idea that it is equivalent to murdering a human being. That is not true. A person is considered irreversibly dead when their brain activity stops, therefore it stands to reason that a person is considered alive when their brain starts exhibiting regular signs of said activity or scientifically speaking, when electroencephalography (EEG) activity starts. That occurs at around 25 weeks, about halfway through the pregnancy. The definition of death is not disputed and so, will serve as a consistent marker in my argument. So that means that people who oppose abortion in all instances on moral grounds won’t be able to argue that the baby is veritably alive until at least halfway through the pregnancy. Therefore, abortion should be allowed at least during the first trimester.

To further expand on the first point, some of the same people who claim abortion shouldn’t be legal on moral grounds also say that the fetus has a “right to life”. If that is the case, then wouldn’t the mother also have the right to her body and her life? Remember, the mother is a fully-formed independent human being with thoughts and dreams and instead, the greater consideration is given to a bundle of cells that is in no way able to live outside the mother’s body and thus far doesn’t have any sort of human thought or personality. Having a “right to life” ultimately means being able to choose for yourself so there is no reason why the mother can’t choose to not have the baby, especially if having the baby means that the mother’s life is threatened.

Another anti-abortion argument is that abortion removes the consequences to having sex. Some people are afraid that if you were able to just get an abortion if you get pregnant, then unmarried people would have sex willy-nilly and the country’s morality would degenerate. Their argument basically says that if you have sex, then you know you risk getting pregnant. Thus, if you do get pregnant, then the responsible thing to do is to have the baby. While I can’t argue for the decision-making skills in teens, I can safely say that having a baby at that time of their life is disastrous. But it’s not only the teen mom’s life that will be ruined, the baby will also be born in subpar conditions and will probably live like that for the rest of their lives. (Fun Fact: For all of America’s reputation as a country of opportunity, the percentage of people who actually move up in life is 4% and that’s not taking into account exactly how much they’ve moved “up”.) This doesn’t apply to just teenagers though; teenagers just happened to be the most understandable scenario. In that case, the more responsible thing, I’d say, is to abort.

That said, having an abortion isn’t an easy thing. Having a procedure isn’t cheap and it requires a certain degree of desperation on the part of the mother. Going through abortion is not only a financial problem but also emotionally taxing.

You could also say that the woman can use contraception to avoid pregnancies, but contraception isn’t effective 100% of the time and even then, you have to assume that the option of contraception is available. Also, Sex Ed. isn’t taught in all schools in the USA either, meaning there is a serious lack of information about such things in the areas of the US that are most affected by unplanned pregnancies. And to those few that say a woman’s body is capable of shutting down a pregnancy if the woman really didn’t want to get pregnant, then you’re probably dumb or drunk or both.

In reality, the underlying argument in the question of abortion is about women’s rights. Does a woman have the right to choose? Does the woman have to sacrifice her goals and dreams and part of her life to take care of an unwanted baby? However, there is one crucial question that is missing, is the man responsible for the baby too? If the man were to be held accountable, then would the same arguments be put forward against abortion?

I won’t say anything about abortion in cases of rape, incest or if the mother’s life is in serious danger because there are clear reasons why abortion in those cases is the best thing to do.

That’s all for this time. Thank you for reading this rather long post. ^_^ Please leave your thoughts and comments below. There are a lot of aspects to this debate that I didn’t cover so I’ll be counting on you guys to help fill in. Remember to back up your arguments!