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Old 12-01-2010, 10:27 PM   Topic Starter
Direckshun Direckshun is offline
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Five reasons why I occaionally despair.

Five problems I perceive that I simply don't think we're capable of solving.

1. Ever-continual tax cuts for the rich. I believe in the power of capitalism, and that those who do well and produce much deserve to have more. I have been on both ends of that dynamic and I can appreciate its impact on society as a whole. But the widening gap between the rich and everybody else is incredibly disturbing to me.

During a recession in which the rich did well but the middle class was pounded and poverty expanded, I fail to see why the rich deserve ever-continual tax cuts that are increasingly disproportionate to their share of the economy. The constant fight to keep these people from paying more taxes, and putting their fair share into a system from which they've been fortunate enough to prosper is the ultimate triumph usurping of patriotism.

And unfortunately, the rich will win this fight every time. The taxes they are responsible for will forever slide down and down, leaving either one of two things in its wake: a weakened America that cannot pay its bills, or the emergence of an didactic oligarchy in the wake of an American government that was once capable of providing for those who struggle.

2. State secrets. The Wikileaks experience has taught us a few things over the course of the past few months, and it's this: the contempt those in power (governmentally, financially, and in the media) will forever be the greatest against those who expose state secrets, not against those that utilize secrecy to achieve some disgusting ends.

WikiLeaks has shown us some truly startling things, like live-action combat mistakes, tens of thousands of casualties being hidden from the public, and the corrupt dealings of governments as they interact with one another. But for every fascinating revelation, there are a thousand revelations that are ordinary and boring. Ordinary and boring! Why does the government, in its vast commitment to keep everything behind closed doors, need to keep ordinary, everyday dealings in the shadows?

Interpol has issued a warrant for Julian Assange. It will greatly restrict his movement, and he will likely rot in a jail cell for the rest of his life. And yet another great voice in the fight for government transparency will be neutralized by the vast powers of those who run the world. I fear that in the future, voices like his will be forever harder to hear.

3. Cutting down the deficit and debt. On this very forum, somebody posted a link to an exercise where you could cut down the deficit. It was so easy, and so simple, that it's absolutely shocking we haven't been able to do it already. Until you look at where the cutting needs to take place: defense and Medicare.

Our inability to ever figure out a way to cut down on defense is amazing to me. But even our ability to cut the production of things we never use and don't help us -- like "lazer plane" -- was continuously met with opposition. It took a miracle just to get us that far. There's simply no fighting all the districts across the country that cost us a ton of money in manufacturing and shipping. There's no fighting the vast contractor infestation that is excessive, expensive, and destructive.

Medicare is even more vexing, because while it's conservatives that largely resist the necessary vast cuts needed in defense, both conservatives and liberals resist the necessary vast cuts needed in Medicare. It feels as though there is no way to scale this mountain.

4. Our complete disdain for civil liberties. I think the shocking slide of civil liberties, starting with the eroding right to privacy and finally the slow grind into due process has been particularly disheartening. There has been so much said on the subject at this point, I don't have too much to add. Except that our irrational, excessive fear of terrorism has stretched from self-parody at this point to straight on constitutional erosion.

I do not fear terrorism. I don't fear them attacking me. I don't fear them attacking any of you. I don't fear them attacking New York City. I don't fear them attacking the ones that I love. And I have a hard time imagining anybody else here really does. I mean, really. Terrorists?

And yet we live in a society where the laws continue to reflect the understandable paranoia we felt at the turn of the century. And while the TSA flap was encouraging, I suppose, it was just a speed bump in what will be a continuing rollback of civil rights all in the name of protecting us from the Bad Guy Of The Month.

5. The juntas in Iran and Burma. There are few stories I follow more diligently than the international spread of democracy. But in this day of increasing technology which gives individuals the power of communicating better, and increasing one's knowledge of what the rest of the world possesses, governments also gain sophistication needed to fend off any assaults from their citizens, for good or bad.

In the case of Iran and especially Burma, bad. These are two countries starving for democracy that simply can't get it because those power won't give it up.

In Iran, you have people that have tried revolting against the government in the most democratic way possible: demonstrations and protests that involve Iranians of every walk of life AND BOTH GENDERS, while doing so without guns and weapons, and getting beaten down every time by the entrenched military government and the thugs they hire to terrorize their neighbors.

Burma is an even more hopeless cause, because the junta there will fire live rounds into crowds, imprison anybody that says the slightest thing against the government FOR DECADES, and they purposefully starve their population while shutting down the internet so they can't reach the outside world.

Both of these countries are international hostage situations, pure and simple. International opinion does not budge them. The options for these countries are seemingly hopeless.
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