In order to bring everyone in the world at this point (the population is still climbing rapidly) up to the standard of living of the United States of America, 4.1 Earths would be needed to sustain the consumption. It is clear that our problems go much deeper than simply bringing everyone to a high standard of living. Our real problems are much more fundamental than that.
In order for America to remain stable, the third world must remain stagnant. It's one reason why they hate us -- globalization has not been beneficial for the majority. Without extremely cheap labor in third world countries, many U.S. corporations would go well into the red. We hear phony talk about bringing everyone up to a first world standard of living (impossible), but the fact is that if that happened, the U.S. economy would fall apart. American prosperity is very much dependent on third world stagnation and instability. The truth is, we could not maintain our standard of living without corrupt dictators in Africa, or grueling sweatshops in Indonesia, or child labor in India. It's all interrelated. And people wonder how anyone could not love us.
Is it possible to be on the left, yet against strong government? I'm not sure it matters, but that's where I am. Left-Libertarian.
A good rule of thumb for determining the reach of the government is this: Government should provide all the goods and services that are strictly necessary for the consumer, and not necessarily provide those that are not. Education, healthcare, infrastructure, power and water, general administration and regulation -- these are all areas that should be covered by government funding and oversight. Incidentally, free access to food is not considered a basic human right in America, but that's a different topic. With a few exceptions, everything not mentioned should be under the purview (and profit motive) of private enterprise. To me, this seems reasonable, but to most Americans, it doesn't. I am not at all sure why.
It seems that modern American society is so dysfunctional at this point that most of us spend most of our free time just sitting at home.
The idea is that in capitalist societies, the cream necessarily rises to the top. I question that assumption. Generally speaking, I've heard it suggested (by a rich individual) that rich people tend only to be truly formidable at the particular activity that made them rich; and typically, the smartest and most interesting people are generally (but certainly not always) not rich. Laurence Darrell once said that "Interesting people generally don't have a lot of money." It seems to me that our cultural ethos surrounding capitalism is probably more mythical than anything.
I believe it is a right to consume any entheogenic sacrament under Constitutional law. It is protected under the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. The "War on Drugs" is a direct and flagrant contravention of an established and unequivocal legal principle that religious freedom be protected. The provisional illegality of the consumption of sacred substances which do no harm to anyone is an egregious mockery of everything the Founding Fathers held dear as they shaped and crafted the laws of this country. Schedule I bans are not only ridiculous, but they are glaringly unconstitutional, and anyone in their private domiciliary should have the full protection of the law to do as they please with their own bodies, so long as that pleasure does not impinge upon the sovereignty of another. It's time for the sanctimonious and hypocritical bluster to stop.
Access to food and water and universal health care ought to be basic human rights -- and in many countries they are. Now, I think I understand American culture pretty well: the sanctity and rights of the individual, as opposed to the good of the group, are valued, throughout our history and our public and private affairs, above all else. It is every man for himself and by God, that's the way it should be. (If this seems like a caricature, it isn't). But how any conservative, dyed-in-the-wool American could possibly formulate an argument that makes any sense at all that not all people should, as a priority, have access to food and clean water, and medical care, is beyond my ability to understand. Let them pay for it, I guess. We're all just one awful break away from the street; this recession has proved that for millions. At some point we're going to have to decide that the common good is worth something in this country.
The political problem could be solved very easily: allow one two-year term for representatives, one four-year term for senators, and one six-year term for president. The system would be a lot less corrupt with no career politicians and no pressure to compromise oneself or to cater to lobbyists for reelection, and democratic principles in general would be more appropriately administered. I think it would revolutionize government. Of course, something like this will not happen for a long time -- if ever.
Lilly, in the isolation tank itself, and then in combination with LSD, discovered and accomplished in a few years' time what Hindu and Buddhist scholars groped at for a thousand years. A well-educated, psychologically prepared, experienced psychonaut can do it in a few hours. Technology accelerates. We need to eliminate the taboos and the restrictive laws concerning the research of psychedelic substances. The knowledge can open doors for individuals and potentially for society at large. Our prohibition is nonsense; it only criminalizes the act and endangers interested seekers. It doesn't actually stop anyone from acquiring the substances. Alas, profiteers in business and government would rather have crime and ignorance than individual freedom and knowledge.
Everyone is up in arms about the political process. I'll tell you what: More government doesn't work. And less government doesn't work.
America is engaged in the pursuit of masking class. It is of course present, but we pretend it isn't. We are as hierarchical as any civilized society -- and perhaps much more so -- but we pretend we are all "equal." An absurdity, to be sure. Would life not be more difficult for the elites if we thought in terms of class? Would it not be more truthful to assert that people exist in an order of rank?
George Washington once said that in order to be a great and happy people, we need four things: understanding, honesty, industry and frugality. I think he was right. And if I'm not mistaken, we are currently fulfilling but one of the categories out of the four.
The United States started out as a highly idealistic idea, but it did not remain a perfect republic for long. Even in the days of the founding fathers, moneyed interests grew in scope, strife and discord led to the Civil War, capitalism became more important than principle or the integrity of the republic, and politics grew to be about authority. Even in early times, some of those luminaries were writing of the ruin of their dear republic. And today we have corruption, flagrant criminality, extreme stratification and separation of the classes, high unemployment and underemployment, ultramaterialistic values, etc. The experiment has been a failure. Instead of a dream-republic we have a regular old country, with problems galore.
The Constitution is not a bad document, but sadly we have mangled it, by and by.
I sympathize with the old (1800) Republicans that the ideal government would be rather smaller, though sufficiently powerful, and would promote liberal social policies and less economic speculation. I sympathize too, however, with the old Federalists in the belief that pure democracy cannot be trusted in the orchestration of a proper republican government.
Drugs are just as outlawed by the majority of society as they are by government.
The job of president -- and his staff -- is basically an impossible one. Of course one wants to make the right decision, but nine times in ten, there are no right decisions among the options available. And every single thing you do will infuriate a lot of people.
The election of Trump proves that democracy, if it ever did, doesn't work anymore. The mob is, to put it politely, not qualified to make such decisions. It doesn't help that both major candidates are rotten, but that is a reflection of society itself more than anything. America's decline is now cemented. The hole will grow ever deeper, and having an obsolete political system certainly won't help.
I completed an exercise in high school that was by far the most illuminating I have ever had on the subject of politics. My teacher had my partner and me review the party platforms for both major political parties, and after doing so I was stunned. Both parties are virtually identical; both are at precisely the same place on the political spectrum. I won't go into specifics on the nature of the actual issues and the positions held, but the point is basically that it is as if some third party took all of the debated issues, wrote each down on a piece of paper, threw them in a hat and asked someone to pull pieces and take sides at random. The issue withdrawn would be converted into a position that would be labeled liberal or conservative. So, in effect, you could say that both participants, one representing the republican party and the other the democrats, would pull a piece out and have to take, say, a liberal position on that issue. Meaning that their opposite, on that issue, would take the conservative position. The effect of this would be that, regardless of the issue, half of the issues would be conservative for democrats and liberal for republicans. And that is precisely what we have in this country. A good example is NASA. NASA was started by the democrats -- Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy -- and was a democratically-supported agency for years. Today, the democrats are for the elimination, or at least significant reduction into inefficacy, of space exploration and the agency itself. Republicans are in support of a more robust space program. This illustrates precisely my finding in conducting the school exercise. The conservatives are liberal on about half of the issues, and the democrats are conservative on about half of them. The major issues talked about on CNN and MSNBC are not representative, because they are banner, party-line issues like stem-cell research, abortion, and gun control. The parties fall into line on those issues. But the party platforms are made up of hundreds of issues, and if you look at them closely, you will find exactly what I found. We have no political diversity in this country, the parties are in identical positions on the political spectrum for the most part, and nobody pays enough attention to even approach doing something about it, were they to care. The country is declining sharply and it will take a miracle or a cataclysm to get things where they need to be.
The United States of America was not founded and does not endure on a principle of freedom. It was founded and endures on a principle of money.
Politicians in the major democracies conduct themselves democratically when it suits them, and autocratically when it suits them.
You only have "rights" until they get taken away. Better to call them privileges, even temporary ones.
American policy toward Iraq in the last quarter century illustrates precisely a couple of things: Bierce's association of morality with expediency, and the role of government as gangster presiding over its third world prostitutes. In the eighties, during the Iran-Contra affair, we supplied Saddam Hussein with a cache of weapons to fight the Iranians. In the two decades following that tactical maneuver, we declared him a brutal dictator and a terrorist, invaded his country twice, and eventually executed him. When it was no longer expedient for us to support him, and profitable to declare him our enemy -- with no regard whatsoever for a policy based even remotely on principle -- we reversed our previous tack and spent billions in the attempt to topple him. There are plenty of brutal dictators doing quite well in Africa, and we have yet to mount any serious military campaign against any of them. Oil, not principle, based on pure expediency, and supported by an American populace who was duped into thinking the pursuit was an ethical one, was what brought us to Iraq both times. As Stanley Kubrick noted brilliantly, the great nations act as gangsters, and the small ones as prostitutes.
One of the main reasons for the terrorist blowback and retaliation toward the West was and is the colonization of Islamic markets vis-a-vis oil in countries that were already ideologically antithetical to ours and only became all the more so. The economic and military atrocities in especially Iran, Iraq, and Israel-Palestine elicited a vociferous response. One might reasonably say we had it coming, as far as the rules of the game are concerned.
I think the economic structure one should favor is a managed capitalism on the order of what the Chinese or Europeans have. Here in the United States, our laissez-faire, deregulated "pure" capitalist system obviously doesn't work. It doesn't work because these fucking pirates are totally unregulated and can do whatever they want, what they want being a total dismantling of the middle class and the preservation of an extreme, all-powerful plutocracy.
The general feeling is that the founders of our nation were saints. In point of fact they were white, land-grabbing, slave-owning rich aristocrats who engaged in acts of terrorism against the British and the Indians. Their entire operation was incumbent upon the disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of these natives who, by all rights, were entitled to the property that was more correctly theirs.
It is not a little ironic that the greatest proponents of "liberty" and "freedom" in history were white, upper-class slave owners.
As has become painfully clear, democracy doesn't work -- and the American system has become particularly deficient: it can now correctly be called a thoroughgoing failure. A meritocratic aristocracy or an enlightened monarchy would clearly be superior (although, admittedly, difficult to create and maintain). Democratic government rests on the assumption that the mob should be allowed to govern itself -- in itself, as Bierce has repeatedly noted, a ridiculous proposition in a situation in which, as ever and by definition, the rulers govern the ruled. In practice, of course, the popular will is generally obeyed by politicians who seek to remain in power as long as possible so that they can remain the recipients of benefits given out by special interest groups (holding onto the job being more important than principle or honorable service, naturally), and thus policy is shaped with the majority opinion of the constituency fully in mind. But it has become obvious that the people don't know what they want or what they need; do not understand the majority of issues even remotely; are prejudiced, superstitious, and dangerously religious; are quite fearful of and bellicose toward anything that is unusual or different; and will react unpredictably and often violently when confronted by anything difficult or strange. In a word, they are sheep: irrational, fearful and fickle; and they are decidedly not qualified to direct the affairs of government, even indirectly.
"Globalization" is a buzzword which really only means the furthering of American hegemonic imperialism.
What we need in this country is another constitutional convention to overhaul our utter failure of a political system. It should stipulate that a president may serve one six-year term, with a congress composed of citizen representatives and senators who may only serve one term and be supported during their campaigns by nothing other than a fixed, reasonable federal stipend. It might also do to prohibit contributions of any kind from any private organization, for any reason, at any step in the political process. I would add that because it is sound in principle, and because the regulators would have to set it in motion, it will never, ever happen. These people would sooner see the country collapse than willfully diminish their own power.
The American spirit is considered as being one of unlimited freedom, grand adventure, defiance of convention, independence, even rebelliousness. The only "spirit" I see in American history is one of rape, plunder, and indentured servitude.
People want and chase the "American Dream" because they are told to do so and because they know of no alternative approach to life.
There seems to be a fundamental and impassable barrier in our systems of government to getting anything done that needs getting done. Our administrations and our agencies are based on short-term decisions and expediency. There is also an appreciable political element, i.e. the need to give people what they think they want -- and refrain from giving them what they think they do not want -- in order to keep one's own people in power. However, the actions that need to be taken, to address real issues which are now coming to a head -- some as old as civilization itself -- can only be made based on careful and attentive methods of taking the problems very seriously, and making the proper adjustments outside of the general fooling around and filibustering of political systems. That is, the actions that need to be taken and the steps that need to be made apply to a very long term, are inexpedient, are apolitical, and must be intended to preserve the stability of civilization and to forestall terrifying crises for everyone, not just political parties and the rich. So this is a basic inadequacy of our government -- at every turn it is designed to make decisions that will apply to a short-term, and those decisions can be reversed -- and usually are -- whenever the new incumbent assumes power. The most important issues of our time, or any time, require attention beyond such a meager span, applicable to a long period of time and a sustained, concentrated effort not to let things just "work themselves out" but to deal with them and understand what's going on. The first step will be getting people convinced that the truth is actually valid, the second will be to get them to care, but then working on a larger social level, i.e. with the institutions now occupied by our governments, I have no idea how the aforementioned basic incompatibility between what is done and what needs to be done can be solved. It is almost as if we would have to rework the entire institutional framework, and it is clear that such a thing is not very likely to happen...
Statistic: Over half of all Americans wish they lived somewhere else.
The health care debate of 2009 is a perfect example of the failure of democracy. The people are too easily manipulated into believing palpably absurd disinformation; they do not know what they want, or what would be good for them or their fellow citizens; the situation essentially, at least in the United States, boils down to base mob rule; etc. The administration has had to spend so much time and effort correcting errors that the people idiotically adopted that the bill has had to be watered down to a pitiful, totally ineffective compromise. It is a circus and a fiasco, and the U.S. is headed nowhere but down.
The Sixties were full of little pockets of proto-utopia. And since utopia is not sustainable, neither was the revolution.
There are people getting undeservedly wealthy because the money is in all the wrong places -- sports, entertainment, finance, junk products no one needs, etc. I'm not saying nobody should be rich, but a gangsta rapper maybe shouldn't be a billionaire. Or a college football coach a millionaire. Or these moron movie stars. Capitalism generates wealth in niches, and there is no natural force making those niches worth something truly valuable. Au contraire.
The United States consumes 25% of the world's resources, which is in itself appalling, but one had also better believe that it steps on a lot of throats to do it.
America's "greatness" inheres in its comparatively extreme degree of economic wealth. Aside from that, culturally the U.S. is quite pedestrian if not shallow -- if not shabby.
I'm pretty sure no one needs to be a billionaire, at least in any reasonable worldview one might be able to conjure. Unfortunately, in America, there is virtually no concept of the common good, so that money will likely stay where it is indefinitely.
Republicans. Fewer taxes no matter what; fuck the common good. Slash expenditures designed to help the poor and disabled; fuck the poor and disabled. The acquisition and protection of private property is the highest good. Every-man-for-himself is the highest good. Any notion of community and social cohesion is anathema. Republicans.
The modern world is besieged by the most complicated, numerous and severe problems our species has ever faced. The only way we can deal with them is to organize at the level of government. Less government would clearly be ideal in a perfect world, but at this point there is a minimum size that government needs to be -- which is rather substantial. The cries for smaller government from the Republicans and Libertarians are simply not realistic or responsible. I have little sympathy for the Democratic party, but its platform is correct in stipulating that we do need to intelligently orchestrate regulation of certain sectors which are at this point running amok. To reiterate, we simply have no other choice than to organize ourselves intelligently and substantially at the government level if we are to make any progress at all. It may be too late, and we may have missed our last chance.
The United States purports to enshrine democracy and freedom, while at the same time curtailing if not destroying it in its dealings with the rest of the world, especially the third world. The U.S. has repeatedly destroyed the prospects for self-determination, order, peace and prosperity in its quest to retain strategic geopolitical dominance. Examples are legion. Take Cuba. How insane has our policy toward that little island nation in our neighborhood been? The U.S. has repeatedly tried to eliminate Castro and violently topple the government -- obviously without success. The U.S. has deliberately and intentionally worked to destroy the economy of this small nation -- successfully. How in hell can anyone make sense of this except as imperialist lunacy? And how can one not see it as the blatant hypocrisy of a nation that claims to be a purveyor of liberty? Liberty for the American elite only, perhaps. (The U.S. population isn't that well represented, either).
Rights are, and have always been, temporary privileges granted by the governing to the governed. If there's ever really any threat to the former, those rights will quite typically be rescinded.
American government is democratic only on issues that do not affect the economic interests of the elite. Citizens can hold their representatives' feet to the fire on any number of issues, but the divergence of public opinion and policy on certain other issues will simply not be addressed.
In America, we are considered equal to our fellow man essentially completely. While I do espouse equality under the law, and an equal right for all to economic security, I feel the truth is that we are all different, with some better than others in various ways, and that it would make sense to assert the truth, rather than mask it.
In America, we have a rather peculiar system for generating the composition of the ruling class. Essentially "ruling" means "rich," and this is not any kind of consistent meritocracy or well-constructed aristocracy. Many of our billionaires are inheritors, and the majority are fairly regular people who hit a capitalist vein and unleased a gusher of profit, for having one successful idea. It could even be argued that many (not all) rich people are only particularly good at the one thing that got them rich, and are fairly pedestrian in most other ways. So we have this system without any coherent method for putting deserving people at the top (who could, conceivably, actually act responsibly). As a consequence, we have the society you see today -- with a very small number of rich, a shrinking middle class, a whole lot of poor people, and affairs, in general, slowly spiraling out of control. It's just another failed experiment.