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Below are the 9 most recent journal entries recorded in Social and Political Issues Forum's LiveJournal:

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007
12:33 pm
[polystyrenehart]
Tasers galore!
Don't get me wrong.  I love a good taser video.  But, if you watch most of the videos available via youtube or any other sort of outfit, you'll see he was already subdued by 4 cops plus one yelling cop demanding he get on his stomach. 

Yes, he initially resisted and even attempted to run at one point.  But guess what?  the law says that an individual has no right to further inflict harm on someone once an individual is subdued.  In terms of the cops?  Should they not be held to the same standards!!??

The cops were only looking for an easy way out.  He was on the floor and subdued.  Four men on top of him holding his extremities.  Where was he suppose to go?  What was he suppose to do?  Incite a riot?  I believe the sound of the taser and a man yelling "Ouw.  Ouw Ouw.  Why did you taser me?" would count as more of an attempt at inciting a riot. 
Sunday, August 26th, 2007
8:37 am
[polystyrenehart]
New Orleans and Iraq...the found link
For starters, I can't agree with a withdrawal from Iraq.  I can't agree with the way we think we could possibly create democracy there.  So, what is one to agree with?  Don't know actually.  Maybe promise to keep the peace while the central government creates its own normalcy. 

What's the similarity between this and New Orleans? 

Well, all too often when our government fails to provide normalcy in very media-friendly areas, the government and its supporters blame everyone else. 

In New Orleans the poor who are trying to go back and rebuild are to blame for the clean up being so slow.  Its been two years as of this coming Wednesday.  That said, the government and many supporters of the administration have argued that it is because of the poor who live there, not the government, that New Orleans is still the flood wasteland it is.  The government provided small amounts of cash to those who stayed, cheap housing, and water and small amounts of food.  This is not a bad response.  What is bad is that the central government has not paid for the losses from that flood even though insurance companies won't.  This would not be required by the government if it wasn't the FAULT of the government that the flood occurred.  The government owes more to that poverty-stricken city.  And, yes, I think much of it has to do with the poverty in that area...not the color of the area.  But also because most other flood areas are wealthy areas because flood areas require you to live near big rivers and lakes and oceans...expensive property.  Not poor slums.  The wealthy are more capable of rebuilding themselves.   The government owes that city.

Iraq?  A similar outcome.  The government goes in.  I agreed with that move because even France and Russia believed Iraq had or was currently working on the infamous WMDs.   Once we took out the Hussain government all went wrong.  Too much to explain here but it did.  Now, after just over 4 years, the government has found its way out of the mix...blame the Iraqis.  During the last Presidential State of the Union address I called Melanie and told her that Bush had made clear to the world that he had found his back door and it was only a matter of time before he used it.  Today I'm seeing that back door being used...slowly.  Nearly every Republican has said that the Iraqis have not held up there end of the bargain and we are losing men and women because of it...bring the boys home.  It is only a matter of time before Bush has no choice but to follow his flock.  The Iraqi government is comprised of people who have NEVER run a government.  How is it that such individuals should "hold up there end of ANY bargain" when they are only 2-3 years old and have also never lived in a democracy.  That's two strikes...the politicians have never governed before and the citizenry has never lived in democracy.


The government should claim responsibility when it is due.  In each of these cases it is most certainly due. 
Saturday, August 25th, 2007
2:58 pm
[polystyrenehart]
Holy Crap! I'm a Marxist!
I'm working on my master's thesis.  Well, that sounds better than it is.  I'm actually just pretending to work on it.  My thesis involves the discussion of the differences in the causes of ethnic and non-ethnic civil wars.   It is strongly based on a paper I wrote last semester.

The thing is, I am coming to believe that there shouldn't be differences.  This is not really a problem because of my vastly limited knowledge of statistics, I can do research that helps me decide if this is the case.  The problem is this:  I don't think Ethnic Civil War should be a type of civil war! 

Ethnic Civil War is regarded as many in my field as being a real and legitimate category of intrastate conflict.  Even my advisor's main focus in ethnic conflict!!!!  This is going to be problematic when I explain it to my professor!  Could you image:  "Hi Professor.  I'm just stopping by to tell you that my thesis that you are going to help me write is going to make the last 15 years of your professional life null and void.  Thanks for all the help!"

Why this makes me a Marxist:  All conflict is a struggle for power.  Few will argue against this.  What we need to decide is why one believes that one must use force to get either equal recognition like Fukuyama would argue or to get absolute power.  Well, the only reason a group would feel the need to use force to change its power status is if it felt its own power was subservient to the other group.  Or because it felt that the other group was likely to do so first...the prisoner's dilemma.  In order to be the subservient or "backward" group (as Horowitz would put it) you have to be subjugated in some way.  Donald Horowitz argues that one group has to be more "advanced" than the other.  This includes education and several other things which almost always leads to higher wealth.  The backward group feels it has a right or is entitled to be of AT LEAST equal footing as the advantaged group, therefore will force its believed entitlement on the advantaged group.

Horowitz argues that ethnicity is always more powerful than other cleavages.  Problem is, I don't buy his argument.  I think it is the underlying anger and tension caused by the differentiation in wealth that causes a group to become violent.  Even if the separation between the two groups is based in ethnicity, I have yet to see an argument that satisfies me that argues it is ethnicity cleavages that causes conflict and not the other cleavage that is found within those ethnicities.

So there you have it, I'm officially a Marxist!!!!!
Monday, July 16th, 2007
1:05 pm
[polystyrenehart]
What to do with the US as a war state
The US spends more than any other state on military expenses.  That is not to say that the US is REALLY a bad creature setting out to own the universe like many bleeding hearts suggest.  What that sentence does mean is very little actually.  The US also has the largest economy, BY FAR.  So, even if the US spends respectively similar percentages of its GDP on military expenses, then it would automatically spend more than any other state on its military.  At the same time, the US military is big.  Well, big is a bit of an understatement.   The US military is capable of fighting 2 separate wars in the world and is the ONLY state capable of fighting a noncontiguous war by itself.  These facts are nothing to laugh at.  These are real facts and have serious consequences, good and bad. 

Here I propose a new policy, or rather a resurrection of an old policy, with regard to the military and its spending habits and the government's willingness to fund its spending habits. 
At the turn of the 20th century, the US held an isolationist view and US military policy reflected this.  Now, to be clear, I am not advocating an isolationist approach to anything!  That would be silly.  Economies are too interconnected to consider such options and states that do take this approach quickly find themselves left behind (N. Korea for example).  What I AM advocating is a rekindling of the policy consequences of an isolationist approach.   Shrink the military personnel significantly.  I believe we have 1.2 million servicemen and service women.  Cut that in half.  A state does need a standing army just in case.  Also, this smaller standing army continues the expertise necessary when war does break out.  Fewer personnel means less money spent paying for these individuals which in turn means more money to be allocated elsewhere in the budget.  Second, since there are half as many personnel, the US can cut production on military equipment by at least half (I will explain a bit later why you can cut production more than personnel).  These two policy shifts would lead to a string of consequences that require further explanation.

First, cutting personnel.  There is a two fold reason for this.  First, is the obvious, money.  One of the largest chunks of military spending is on the salary of more than a million individuals.  You can't just fire half the military, that would have a negative double pronged effect:  you would put half a million people out of work and you would shock the economy so hard that it would come to a halt or close to it for some time.  The US would have to phase in such a policy by cutting back on new recruits.  Money is not the only reason to cut the military personnel.  By cutting personnel, the US also is less inclined to engage in war in the future.  The US has been accused of being quick to go to war, and there are times when it is hard to argue the reason for US involvement in certain situations.  Having a smaller military would present Presidents with an extra variable in deciding whether or not to engage a particular situation with military force.  This keeps the US from looking like a war monger and also further lowers the cost of the military since the US would inevitably involve itself in fewer wars.

Second, cutting production of military equipment.  Now I said you could potentially cut production by MORE than half if you cut personnel by half.  The reason for this is the last point made about cutting personnel:  the US would inevitably involve itself with fewer conflicts requiring less equipment than otherwise.  Simple enough.

Now comes the hard part, explaining how viable an option this is. 

In today's world, there are fewer wars but the there are more civil wars than before.  Also, state economies are more dependent on one another for stability and more interconnected than ever before.  Not to mention the fact that war is no longer seen as an acceptable form of getting what one wants from another state, hence the decline in the number of interstate wars.  Less interstate wars implies less inclination to war, less inclination to war implies that there is less risk of war, less risk of war implies less need for a massive standing army, less need for a standing army means the US can step back from its policy of having an army capable of fighting two separate wars at once to AT LEAST that of fighting only one war at a time. 

Next is the problem of what to do if a large war breaks out.  Well, here we use the same policy that was used during WWI and WWII.  The government still has the right to stop production of corporations and force them to make military equipment instead.  The US should use this power instead of just constantly buying and replacing a large stock of weapons and machinery.  This will save money and also lower the inclination of a President to act with military force. 
Friday, May 25th, 2007
7:02 am
[polystyrenehart]
supply and demand
Gas prices are suppose to follow supply and demand. but is this so? 

I say no.  The reason I say so is because if it were, the prices would not be based on "futures"  or what equates to a stock market type fluctuation.  Also, if gas prices were set truly based on supply and demand, gas prices would rise higher and more violently and would only stop when people started slowing down their buying of the product.  Interesting thing is is that's not the case.  Rising prices in gas has historically NOT changed American's buying habits with the obvious exception of the gas shortage of several decades ago.  If pearls or diamonds or gold prices were decided in similar ways then we would probably not be paying as much as we are for them.  These "rare" products are so expensive because of supply and demand.  They are "rare" and people want them, so the price goes continually up until it levels off where people buy less and the supply is not depleted too quickly at what economists call an equilibrium. 

"The law of supply and demand predicts that the price level will move toward the point that equalizes quantities supplied and demanded."
"The equilibrium point must be the point at which quantity supplied and quantity demanded are in balance, which is where the supply and demand curves cross."

Both quotes come from the NetMBA-Business Knowledge Center. 

Point is, gas prices have NOTHING to do with supply and demand and is based solely on the whims of the corporations in what they thinks we will pay and NOT change out spending habits and the strange stock market version of the oil "futures".  Tisk Tisk!
Tuesday, May 15th, 2007
10:27 am
[polystyrenehart]
local politics and children
Listening to my local NPR station per usual, I heard a piece via "Lake Effect", a local show examining random local stories from politics to entertainment to education to art.  Today they were examining education.  To be honest, I wasn't paying attention.   They interviewed some woman who asked that when it comes to the "no child left behind" act, what counts as a "failing" school? 

Quite frankly, I retort in my head, its any school that fails to teach its students and prepare them for the real world and create competitive individuals.  As much as many might hate it, this state and nearly every other well developed state in the world are capitalism based and therefore people must be competitive in order to make themselves thriving and productive individuals in society. 

Don't get me wrong, I can't say that I agree with everything that the No Child Left Behind Act.  I honestly know very little about it. 

But reason for this post is not this segment but the short segment thereafter.  They have a gentleman who said that his daughter's high school had set up a system where he, as a parent, can hop online and look at his child's current standing via an online teacher's grade book. 

The parental voice of the narrative asked why it was that he had to watch over his daughter who has been in school for 10 years.  All I can do is shake my head. 

Is it that after a child is in high school, you should no longer care about the child's life?  the child's education?  Perhaps you should care, you just shouldn't get involved?

There are reasons why individuals are not given certain rights or obligations until they are 18, because they are not entirely capable of making the best decisions.  Not only this, but  what about inner city families?  Is it only the outside culture that causes a child to never succeed and resort to violence or drugs before they reach high school?  Perhaps the cause is the school itself?  Perhaps its the friends they choose?  It certainly can't be because the child's parents don't get involved in their child's life.

Wake up ppl!!!  The world may not be going to hell in a hand basket but too many ppl in this country are weaving their own fancy baskets to start floating down the river!!!
Thursday, April 12th, 2007
9:10 pm
[polystyrenehart]
A news story, apparently the only news story, has come to the fore that has left me feeling this post necessary.  Don Imus decided it would be fun to called a female basketball team a bunch of "nappy-haired hoes".  This phrase sparked an incredible amount of controversy followed by his suspension and his show being cut from MSNBC and calls for his firing and resignation.  This phrase is overwhelmingly seen as a racist remark that has no place in a civilized culture. 

WUWM, a local radio station in Milwaukee, WI played an episode of a Latino program of news and stories (Latino USA, i think).  On this particular episode, they spoke to individuals and groups that argued Latino Americans have been completely neglected and never mentioned when WWII is discussed or in documentaries of WWII.  They argue that about 500,000 Latino-Americans served in WWII.  This is about 3% of the 16 million in total Americans who served during WWII.

Moving recently to Milwaukee has been a strange and informing experience for both me and my wife.  Milwaukee is either the top or the second most segregated city in the US.  Look it up, its true.  And it shows when you visit.  There is a lot of racism but most of it I believe is due to social class rather than actual race relations.  Though, since the social class and race is so highly correlated, they appear one in the same.  My wife and I were encouraged to live in the "white" end of town and we did such.  The "black" end of town is laden with crime and poverty.  Is it because they are black, no.  It is an unfortunate symptom of US history and lack of assimilation since slavery and later discrimination was rectified. 

Most poor ppl argue and firmly believe that their position in life is the fault of everyone else but themselves.  In Milwaukee, this becomes a white vs black issue.  Blacks hate whites and blame whites for their position in life and demand respect and restitution in any and many forms.  Whites hate blacks for bringing crime and filth to the streets in decent neighborhoods.  Both beliefs are far from accurate. 

All of this said, its irritating to hear a black man or woman complain that their position in life is the fault of the white man.  Its irritating hearing white ppl complain that blacks belong at the other end of town.  Its irritating that "nappy-haired hoe" is a racist remark.  Many women have nappy hair.   At the same time, rap (which is predominately a black sung genre) is laden with slurs and racist words like nigger and hoe and cracker.  None of which are looked down upon.  There is no great society-wide movement to stop rap.  Three of the white Lacrosse team members were let go, the district attorney saying that they were completely innocent in the charges of raping an black woman.  When the story first came out, the black community came together and demanded retribution for the raping of a black woman by white men.  They believed it was a completely white-black issue and only such.

If you haven't noticed, I believe that the race issue has actually gone full circle.  Blacks and other minorities were discriminated against in this country for some time.  Now that times have changed, I believe the tables have turned and society does not tolerate any white on black crime or perceived crime.  Like Martin Luther King Jr., it will be fine day when we can TRULY look passed color.  why can't nappy-hair be both a white and black phrase, why can blacks use the word nigger or cracker but whites can not use the word nigger?  I think both words are horrible and there is no reason for their existence other than to exemplify hate but there is still a double standard.  Why is it not a hate crime if a white man is beaten by a group of black men for the color of his skin on a bus in broad daylight?  Why do we have to live in the "white" end of town? 

It will be a fine day when we truly look passed color.  I already have come to that point.  Everyone else?  I'm waiting....

Current Mood: busy
9:09 pm
[polystyrenehart]
College "Preferred" Lenders
Here is a topic that all college students can relate to, or at least those of us who don't come with silver spoons and wads of cash in our pockets. 

There has been a story evolving on NPR (and I can only assume elsewhere) that many college financial aid offices around the country have received kickbacks of varying degrees and forms.  These kickbacks have come from student loan lenders.  

Why should this be important?  Everyone in a bureaucracy receives kickbacks right?  Well, that may be true for all you conspiracy theorists but for the rest of us that isn't the case.  What is the case is that most of these kickback-providing loan providers find themselves on the college "preferred lender" lists at the colleges with which they have provided kickbacks!

Preferred lenders is a list of lenders that the school provides students and parents of students as a way of making the search for decent and honest lenders a little easier.  This list, however, is not what the list is suppose to be.  Instead, it seems that the Preferred Lender's list has found its way to becoming a list of those who pay the most to receive the most.

This should show that even though the college is there to provide you with an education with which you are to better yourself and the society in which you live.  It is NOT here to HELP you get that.  This is for several reasons, not all of which are pure profit driven.
First, is the purely profit part.  Yes, many (like the ivy league schools) are selling spots on the List to see their profits increase.  That comes without doubt.  However, there is a second reason.

Colorado is the best example.  I haven't heard of any examples of this List spot selling in any Colorado university but schools there have been finding it difficult to pay for anything.  The state sponsored universities have seen their funding cut dramatically and at the same time has capped the increases the universities are allowed in tuition.  This leaves the schools in weird positions.  Most of the professors have not seen raises in 5 years.  This means, after inflation, they actually make less than they did 5 years ago.  They have had to cut departments completely, cut classes, and cut the basic services to students.  Where else can such schools find funding?  You guessed it.  Sell what they can. 

Call your congressmen, and women.  Tell them how disappointed you are in the lack of oversight and the lack of proper funding for state universities.  State sponsored colleges and universities are in place to enable poorer individuals the opportunity to thrive.  This becomes increasingly difficult if those same colleges are forced to enter the capitalist market and sell themselves, and you, to the highest bidder.

Current Mood: busy
9:07 pm
[polystyrenehart]
New Orleans
I heard on NPR the other day that there are children in New Orleans who are still not going to school.  If this is true, I confess myself disappointed! 

How is it that in the richest state in the world we can allow an entire city to be demolished, poor ppl die in the streets due to a hurricane, and THEN let the area become a waste land of hooligans and ill-educated individuals. 

I thought it was an amazing opportunity for those who were shipped to different parts of the country to get out of the ghetto and have a chance at a decent life.  But those who went back or stayed have been left to lie in their own filth.

Did you know that New Orleans just passed New York City for their murder rate?  That's right!  Now consider how many ppl live in New Orleans versus New York City.  Big problem.

Current Mood: busy
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