Monday, June 4, 2001

The 10 Most Stupid Things About America

These are the things that really annoy me. The things that make me want to throw hard objects at the TV when I hear people talk about them.

1. The worship of the market.

Any solutions to health care or poverty that do not conform to capitalism or the free market are considered suspicious or socialist.  Conservatives have created the notion that if the Government helps people it's a bad thing, and if the Government gives money to the rich it's a good thing. For example, The Wall Street Journal has been heavily advocating the idea of shifting our social security money to Wall Street, as if they can be trusted with it. This idea totally ignores a fundamental principle of Social Security: that it is not only money for "me" in retirement, but it is also like an insurance premium, whose benefits are used by thousands of people who have no other means to get by.

2. People who dutifully go to church on Sunday, and spend the other days of the week making deals, involved in officeplace politics, and/or basically screwing people over.

In this supposedly Christian nation, the working world is largely competitive, deceptive, and cruel.
The conservative principals that guide many people seem to be perfectly backwards to me. First, they say that economics should be ruled by free market ideas, then they say that our personal lives should be ruled by morality. What about the notion that the market is made up of people who are supposed to have morals, too? If a CEO has a decision about whether to make a few more bucks by throwing people out on the street, shouldn't he consider morality in his decision ? Quite frankly I am sick to death of the great concern about what people do in their private lives while there's great ignorance about what corporate and government officials do in their public decisions that affect thousands of people.

3. The stupidity of the masses.

I really hate to sound like an intellectual snob, but the volume of stupidity floating around this country just amazes me. We talk a good deal about improving the schools, but we certainly don't put our money where our mouth is. All you have to do is look at popular culture to see how much people care about raising the level of education. So many things considered "cool" are mind-numbingly idiotic: MTV, "Survivor", Wrestling, Nascar.
A good many people on school boards around the country have no clue what evolution is all about, in an age when the biological sciences are becoming incredibly important. We have a president who agrees with the idea of  teaching "creationism". Stupid. Stupid.
A major contributor to this stupidification is local news. It's evil. It chases down what comes over the police scanner and serves up the house fires and accidents for entertainment. Its "in depth" coverage usually has something to do with how the government is wasting a few bucks, or the latest drug sweep of a local high school. If a new tax comes along, they do not provide any intelligent information about what choices the legislature may have had, how much debt we are facing, or any kind of context. The result is the populace having not much more of an opinion than:  TAXES BAD. SPORTS GOOD!

4. The love of violence.

Many (especially rural) Americans love their guns. Popular movies and video games send the message that violence can solve your problems. NRA ads and gun-related magazines send the message that guns are cool. The people who like to shove the second amendment in my face never seem to remember its first words: Well-regulated.

5. Overzealotry about relatively minor problems.

There are people in prison for marijuana possession who have longer sentences than some violent offenders. Prisons are overflowing because of the federal mandatory sentencing laws for drugs, so rapists are getting paroled. There are people who are law-abiding in every other way, who were taken from their children and locked up, for pot for personal use.  Meanwhile we have politicians who love to stand up and say how tough we must be to drug offenders. This is especially hypocritical because conservatives are the ones who so often say "the government is too big and should stay off our backs".

And there's the flag-burning issue too. This is the biggest "phony" issue around these days: it's just a way for politicans to stand up and shake their fist and claim to be more patriotic than the next guy. They still want a constitutional amendment for this even though some nut burns a flag only once every 5 years or so. Good grief. If somebody burns a flag, nail him with burning inside city limits, creating a public nuisance, disturbing the peace, destroying public property, inciting a riot, disorderly conduct, or holding up traffic.

6. The Clinton-haters.

It's time to get off this guy's back. The Clinton-haters are usually the same people as the Reagan-worshipers. Let's make a comparison, shall we ?

Clinton touched Monica's titty and lied about it.
Reagan hurled our country into a nearly catastrophic debt.
Reagan oversaw the sale of weapons to an enemy state without consulting congress.
Reagan supposedly ended the cold war, but the USSR actually collapsed because of its own internal problems, so it's a big lie.
Reagan spent more than $40 Billion on a space based weapon program that every physicist in the world (including those who worked on it) will tell you is total fantasy.
Reagan ridiculed environmentalists and had a secretary of the interior who actually believed that the earth is ours to exploit because God will be destroying it soon anyway.
Reagan rolled out the MX missile, the most terrifying and destructive thing ever built, and called it a "peacekeeper".
Reagan ignored AIDS.  Research organizations were begging for equipment to help study it, and Reagan simply lied about how his administration was helping.
The general correlary to this point of stupidity, is the idea that Republicans are more "moral" that Democrats. The pundits always say that Republicans always get the "morality" vote. I know Democratic politicians aren't angels, but I certainly can't see any reason why they would be any more adulterous or decietful than Republicans. Besides, Democrats are much more interested in the truly important public moral issues of our time, like health care, living wages, and the environment.

7. People who somehow feel their identity as a straight-white-male-Christian is somehow being threatened.

For instance, sexual harassment rules in the workplace are ridiculed and considered a threat to free speech.
John Leo recently complained that the media was unfairly politically correct when it was hesitant to vilify a criminal who happens to be gay. Well, the logic may be ok, but where were you, John Leo, during the decades during which gays were unfairly vilified by just about everyone?

8. The myth of the "liberal" media.

You know what I see when I turn on the TV? Either absolute drivel coming out of network news, or, when there is substantial conversation, I see George Will, William Bennet, Cal Thomas, or some Bush cabinet member. These guys are right-wingers. The real liberals like William Greider, Gore Vidal, and Noam Chomsky are never seen anywhere except in little magazines like The Nation.
And why are those on the left dismissively labeled as "elitist"?  That's what really confuses me. My only guess is that there's something elitist about having fact-checkers. Those on the right are usually connected with the big corporations and those on the left are usually connected with working people. You tell me who's "elitist".

9. The idea that somehow society was more moral at some time in the past.

At what time would that be?? When black people were being beaten by cops and lynched? When the KKK was practically in charge of Indiana?? When it was acceptable to have slaves?? Or to beat your wife?? When the settlers were slaughtering the Indians ??

10. PR Machines

The guys on TV commercials that tell the audience that prescription drug companies really care about our sick relatives. That SUV's are safe. That cigarette companies love to help out Kosovan refugees. That investment companies really care about our retirement years.

Stop me before I pitch another cereal bowl at the TV !!