Conservance

Social, Economic, Enviromental Responsibility

Category: politics

A Short Essay To Save The World


In response to the question “Do you feel that businesses or governments have a moral obligation to their workers/constiuents?” I wrote an essay that would solve quite a few of America’s and the World’s problems. It’s easy to write about, hard to live.

 

Yes, I think so, but I understand that companies need to make money. The government is supposed to represent the people and keep their best interests in mind, a part of that is keeping them gainfully employed. But I also believe that Unions and the people themselves must play a part.

I don’t think it’s coincidence that the period of lowest income inequality in the US, our largest innovations and breakthroughs, and our “golden” era all fell within roughly the same time frame. And CEO pay was “surprisingly” NOT tied to stock performance.

There’s a sweet spot where companies get their profit and stay competitive, the government has enough regulations to keep everyone safe and make their share of taxes but doesn’t damage the industry, and the citizens themselves are protected and employed.

The government needs to enforce tariffs on imported finished goods, or goods to be assembled in the US, and it has to encourage innovation and technological innovation that results in lower costs, higher quality and a better work environment without firing workers. There also needs to be a serious overhaul of the investment laws and regulations to discourage the short-term maximum profit trading that destabilizes US industries and encourages automation/outsourcing.

Unions and workers need to negotiate for raises, benefits and the workers with an eye towards maximum employment possible. Currently, they seek maximum wages and benefits with thought to what the company is facing economically, or how many union members are employed. Which is better, 1000 workers getting paid $10 an hour or 100 workers getting $75? Beyond that, “Union Pride, Union Made” has become a joke. “Union made” used to mean high quality, long lasting goods, now it doesn’t mean anything except overpaid, poorly made junk. Compare a 1958 Chevy Impala versus the 71 model, versus the monstrosity that was the 1994 “impala” or the even worse abomination of the 2002 model.

We the people need to stop buying based solely on price, and we have to start demanding different priorities from our companies and action from our government. We should be voting with our pocketbook, by buying the highest quality goods manufactured and we should be willing to pay top dollar for them. If companies are laying off employees, automating, outsourcing or other negative actions, why are we buying from them? If our representatives are more worried about special interests or lobbyist dollars, then why are we still allowing them to make decisions?

In short, we need to change how our society acts.

On Equality


We think of equality in terms of good and bad, better and worse, weak and powerful. It is none of these. Equality is simply being equal. It cannot be anything other than that, and it can only apply to a single characteristic.

Some thing is either equal across the board for all, or it is not. That is the cruel beauty of equality. It will grind all down in a manner.

The field will be leveled. But it will be filled with all manner of organisms. Or the field will be filled with a single organism, that then grows to various heights and widths. The field will never be filled with one species mowed down to the same height.

That is not equality; that is oppression.

Students, Universities And The Student Debt Crisis


The American Ideal involves a house, a dog, a wife and 2.5 children. Those children then spend 18 wonderful years growing up, and after high school attend a fine college or prestigious university to begin the first steps in their chosen career. After four years, the graduate with honors holding a piece of paper that unlocks opportunities that would not be available otherwise. Young men and women enter into the workforce, highly skilled, highly intelligent and go about making the world a better place.

Having now started my second journey through college to develop and refine the left side of the brain; I have been forced to see the truth of higher education in America. On the record of course collegiate institutions are upholding the ideals listed above. Off the record, behind closed doors, where no one but the initiated are allowed the driving principle seems to be this:

The Student Is a Revenue Stream.

This realization came, not through stumbling across an unshredded memo or a chance remark in passing; rather by piecing various experiences I have had thus far with certain university policies and several other conversations. Like Archimedes in the bathtub, my Eureka moment came hard and fast.

The ballooning cost of tuition combined with the increased length of time until graduation is the first marker. It’s one thing if a for-profit institution seeks to place students into the longest possible course schedules, they have to make a buck! But when state schools and private, non-profit universities behave in such a manner; something is wrong. If rising tuition costs are unavoidable, then a prudent university would work to ensure that students are able to graduate in as short an amount of time as is reasonable. The opposite is occurring and I know this from first hand experience. I am currently looking at five plus years of work at a minimum to graduate, and have met strong resistance when attempting to pursue paths that would shorten said time frame. Beyond that, the additional fees assessed by universities onto students in addition to tuition and room and board and the rising cost of text books (especially those special versions printed by a University that cannot be sold on the market, and are still priced at a premium) reveals the idea that students are to be squeezed for as much money as possible.

If one steps back and looks at the Board of Directors, their policies, budgets, and the day to day procedures; it most closely resembles that of banks and financial institutions. To begin with, Students have quietly lost their rights on campus. Of course legal counsel is still available, but there are no Ombudsmen or Arbitrators to decide issues between students and professors or students and the university. Student Advocacy Groups have become information/help desks, their teeth removed and only allowed to answer questions. Student government organizations have been distracted with frivolous things like homecoming court and determining the nutritional value of the food served on “Mexican Mondays.” Meanwhile, the students are so overloaded with coursework and debt that they have no time to think about how wrong this is, and if they could, they wouldn’t have the energy to do anything about it! So the students themselves are left with no course of action to take if they disagree strongly with an issue that directly affects them whatever it may be, from tuition and parking costs to course scheduling and requirements. It is an oppression and slavery of the worst kind.

Consider how universities have handled cutting costs. If they were truly public servants, who desired to serve the best interest of the public and their nation at large, the board would have begun with their own salaries. In fact, the board of directors would be an entirely volunteer position with the appropriate honor and respect given to it because these fine men and women have sacrificed financial gain in order to dedicate their lives to bettering the pursuit of knowledge.

Instead of that, they began with privatizing essential services. Outsourcing! Contracting out essential services to the private sector. It would be one thing if the least profitable portions of the college were outsourced, under-performing departments and bloated research projects for example. But it tends to be those services that break even or make money (provided of course that they are not wildly successful athletic programs). At Ohio State for example, the entirety of the parking services is being sub-contracted out for fifty years with the students having no say in the matter whatsoever. A short-term boon, and the ability to fire State Employees without fully paying retirements, has cost Ohio State long term financial stability and the respect of the students. It won’t come at first, but after a few years of being mistreated at the hands of over-worked, under-paid employees, students will realize how little they mean to the University. While the financial gluttons on the board of directors enjoy a cut of the take.

The most brazen example of this is the recent spate of collegiate advertising. When a state school believes it needs to advertise in order to attract students, something is very wrong. Advertising is, rightly or wrongly, believed to be lies; They might tell the truth in some way, but they are still lies. If a University uses advertisements to trumpet its accomplishments, then those accomplishments are false. They are presented as lies, in a medium specialized for lying. Companies advertise out of desperation, either a competitor is gaining market share, a product has performed poorly, or they are losing money and are trying to reverse the trend. The best companies don’t need to advertise. Starbucks, prior to its fall from grace, had almost no advertising budget. They didn’t need one, they were too busy delivering great coffee to people, and those people were telling everyone about it.

State Universities at one point, were too busy turning out some of the best students ever seen in the world. Students who went on to found ground breaking companies, spearhead research, develop new technology, write the next American Classic, push the boundaries of art, foster thought and philosophy, and generally better the world around us. That was their advertising. Or when a university won a prestigious award, or had an alumni win a prestigious award. That was their advertising. Sometime in the not so distant past, that stopped happening. The students weren’t graduating as bright eyed and (most importantly) well equipped to tackle the new round of challenges. Universities had begun to get caught up in themselves, had become a ground for personal gain, advancement and vendettas. The focus, was no longer on the student. Look at how many “professors” never teach a class at Ohio State, and President Gee has DEFENDED them for it.

This. Is. Wrong.

Any and all colleges and universities should be focused on graduating the best students possible in the shortest amount of time. The “profit” comes in the form of a highly skilled, highly intelligent, highly motivated workforce that goes out and creates the “next big thing.” Pushes society forward, strengthens the economy, and solves the problems facing us today. That means much more money over a much longer period of time, and an alumni association that encourages students to attend their alma maters.

Of course, this means that students must once again be the focus and end product of higher education. They must be taught the skills necessary, and equipped to handle the challenges of the contemporary world. They cannot be burdened with too much debt, and they must be taught how to use their degrees. Gone should be the art major who doesn’t know what to do with their degree, in its place should be the Art Major. An individual who has developed their creative drive in such a way that they can produce amazing works of art and solve solutions in elegant ways. As comfortable with a paintbrush as they are with a hammer or laptop, or Excel spreadsheet.

This requires that Students become investors in the university. They are shareholders with a vested interest in the university. Students attend a university, and enter into a contract that states:

I believe this university is the best choice I can make to succeed. I will work hard, I will learn, I will grow, I will mature. I believe that this is the best course of action. In exchange for investing myself, my money and my time, the University will agree to prepare me to be an economic force. To solve ideas, to serve others, to achieve. They will not overload me with debt, and will not keep me a day longer than is needed to achieve the goals set out.

Instead of being released from the need to learn, the student must work harder at it. Instead of languishing in immaturity, the student will be forced to grow and become better in all aspects of their lives. If they don’t succeed in the larger world, then they have failed themselves, and the university has failed them and itself.

Wolves To Be Delisted?


This is an old fight, but a new round is occurring.

Since Roosevelt established the National Parks, the debate between state and federal management of  wilderness areas has been ongoing. Personally, federal management is superior in my mind. It’s insulated from smaller, extremist groups on all sides and federal management involves local personnel. The individuals tasked with enforcing federal laws, are locally based. In my mind, the National Parks (and NASA) are the two best examples of government that works.

The delisting of wolves, is worth a closer look.

Wolves as an apex predator, have a natural check to their population numbers. The availability of prey. Unlike humans: wolves and other animals will reach a natural balance dictated by available resources. It’s impossible for wolves to “overpopulate” an area, unless they’ve been forced together through the encroachment of man.

In regards to elk and livestock dangers. The elk line is a new twist, and a clever bit of rhetoric. Except elk are a protected species as well. Wolves are being delisted because they’re a “threat” to certain constituents in certain areas. It will only be a matter of time until elk are a “threat.” If livestock are sick enough to be taken down by wolves or other predators, are they really healthy enough to be sold as meat? Doubtful. Furthermore, coyotes supposedly are a threat to livestock as well, as are buffalo.

Wolves control coyote populations and buffalo populations. Either the livestock industry is confused about what a threat is, or they’re lying.

If wolves were delisted; there will need to be a large, federally protected corridor immediately put into place. It would connect the Rockies, and other state and national parks, and place all of the wildlife therein under federal regulation. Being delisted from the Endangered Species list, means that our intervention was successful. We helped bring a dying species back to life. That doesn’t mean protections should be removed. A large territory of mixed use, federally overseen corridors would ensure the ongoing health of many species, including livestock.

It’s a victory to delist wolves and other species and also a loss. To delist without any forethought or safeguards means simply: Delisted species will be relisted.

Election Day


It’s election day, and I for one am filled with… nothing.

However, I have finally determined what it is that has caused me to lack any real feelings whatsoever about voting, and our democratic process.

There are few real solutions on the table.

If we look at most political commercials and the politicians behind them; it’s mostly a case of “I’m better than this guy. Look at how they are/have been.”

Look at the election leading up to George W. Bush’ second election. The Democrats were scrambling for a candidate, and their basic campaign was “vote for us, at least we aren’t Bush!” And their candidate:

The Master of the flip-flop, John Kerry.

A ridiculous choice for president if ever there was one.

The democratic process has become a stage for oneupmanship of the wrong kind. It’s a constant bombardment of negative speak, followed by a brief “but I’m not like that.”

No solutions offered to our problems, no ideas, no suggestions, no action. All signs of a lack of leadership.

We’re voting to the lowest common denominator, and the results of that choice have been clear from Clinton onwards.

Again: Don’t vote, revolt.

It is not the time to cast a meaningless ballot, it is the time to throw off these bonds of tyranny through ineptitude. Yes, I’m calling for action against the current means of government in the US. No,that does not make me a traitor. To preserve America, we have to fix it. Unfortunately those in power are so entrenched, that revolution is our only course of action.

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Ghandian Engineering


 

“When you wish to achieve results that have not been achieved before, it is an unwise fancy to think that they can be achieved by using methods that have been used before”

Sir Francis Bacon.

 

There’s a move to restore Detroit. I have friends from Detroit, and I love the tenacity of much of the city’s denizens. However, we can not restore Detroit to it’s hey day. The golden years of the automobile have passed on. What we can and should do: is to rebuild Detroit. Remove what is no longer used, what no longer works, what is no longer relevant; and rebuild.

Compare Akron to Toledo. Toledo is stuck, trying to restore itself. Akron is seeking to rebuild itself.

What does this mean for the environment, for sustainability? Our current society and culture is no longer feasible. We have two paths to choose from. One will lead to the downfall of America, the other towards a new America.

We are the land of change. Every new generation has left its mark, for good or bad. But we’re at the crux of our society. And the decision before us is not “save the planet or not” it is “do we continue to exist or not.” Will we continue to be relevant, or will we slide like every other great nation, empire, city-state that has come before us?

What the sustainability movement is about, is a better way of doing things. Getting more, from less, for more people. Why aren’t we doing this?

Cost? Costs have risen every year. We might as well derive some benefit from higher costs.

Jobs? Jobs are cut and lost every year. Look at Detroit to see that.

Will it work? When US scientists set off the first atomic bomb, there was a real belief that it would trigger a chain reaction that would ignite the whole planet. Decisions are made, and put into effect without knowing the full consequences every day.

Is it entirely true? Nothing is entirely true, nor can anything be verified beyond all doubt. Define and measure gravity. We know it exists, we know it has to do with mass, but we can’t quite put all the pieces together. Try and prove evolution. Try and prove almost any scientific theory widely believed to be “true.” It’s almost impossible. We operate on partial information every day, and we’ve done incredibly well for ourselves over the thousands of years that humanity has been in existence.

It is time for us to clean house. To sweep out the old, and attempt the new. The old ways of doing things were wonderful, and marvelous, and should be retired with reverence and respect (mostly). However, it is time to implement the next phase in humanity.

Western Style Waste In Africa


The country of Tanzania is considering a road that could effectively end the Serengeti as we know it. And for no reason whatsoever.

We’ve done it. We’ve finally gotten Western Civilization to take route in Africa. After this monstrosity, next will be MTV, Prozac, teen bullying deaths, and workplace depression.

A few things need to be understood. The cause of Africa’s problems today can be linked directly to tribal differences aggravated by European/western interference. French and Belgian colonists even irreversibly changed the ecosystems of equatorial Africa, hundreds of years before the words “global” and “warming” were put together. Africa and South America’s systemic corruption, violence, pollution, and more are the results of Western meddling.

Don’t believe litter is a serious issue? Look at the Amazon river around major cities. Like your tuna? Poaching and bushmeat sales increase exponential in the wake of international fishing fleets operating off the coast of Africa. Want to see the cost, in human lives, of mining? Visit Sierra Leone.

Now an idea for a road is being considered that has no real purpose or merit, and is winning out over a better plan with less environmental impact, less cost, and will have more positive social/economic impact.

We’ve finally done it! Africa has been modernized.

Election Misconceptions


The mud is being slung in Ohio. Hard.

Let’s take a look at a few of them:

1) The energy reform bill will eliminate 100,000 jobs.

Yes it will, and hundreds of thousands of jobs will be eliminated next year regardless of whether or not an energy reform bill is passed. Secondly, we’re sacrificing long term job growth in an emergent field (the next wave) for a hundred thousand jobs that will be outsourced in a short period of time. Brilliant.

2) Cap & Trade is costly….

Erroneous. Especially given that oil companies, energy utilities and other large businesses are in support of the cap & trade. Granted, that is a whole issue in and of itself; however, the point still remains in other instances of pollutants (NOx for example) a cap and trade system has worked incredibly well. INCREDIBLY WELL!

A well written cap & trade system for CO2 and all greenhouse gases, would do two things: Control and reduce pollutants, and generate money.

Again, these things will lead to a cleaner planet, better products, better communities, and more. Why are we believing poorly created drivel?

A Few Thoughts That Should Come Together


I’ve got “Factory Floor” on television right now. One of the clips is about plywood.

The quote was “because it’s man made it’s stronger than any tree.”

I had to think for a second about that statement, and the answer is yes; We can often engineer some specific characteristic to be better than what is found naturally.

Obviously then, we can improve on what is found in the world around us. Meaning we can improve the world around us.

Secondly, this post. Note further down, the ideas on taste and bad culture. Currently, our society as a whole is operating with this slow moving, bad taste culture.

The good ideas are either not being implemented, being poorly implemented, or only implemented in certain areas/sectors. What good changes that are implemented in one area (say MPG standards) are ignored or counteracted within other circles (Oil Production).

Societal costs raise every year. Yes some of the environmental changes will also raise prices. However the trade off (better city planning, more jobs, cleaner energy, more fuel efficient cars and vehicles, proper mass transit, a more integrated culture, etc) is worth it.

 

But again, prices will go up regardless of what we do. We might as well do the right thing.

Global Warming Is Over!


It’s cooled off! So no more climate change!!!

Not quite.

Basically I like to think of our atmosphere as a system. With no human interaction, it’s fairly balanced. Yes certain natural phenomena can throw a wrench into it, but over time everything rights itself once more.

What we’re doing however is adding more into the system, and simultaneously removing the means by which it is regulated. Combined with our love for asphalt parking lots and other heat sinks, we’ve got a system with more potential power.

Hence the more violent storms and greater swings in temperature.

Now, where it gets tricky is this: Winter always follows Summer. No matter how “warm” the earth gets there will still be a cooler period. Because winter is the product of our earths’ tilted axis.

However the issue isn’t global climate change. The issue is how we interact with the world around us.

Currently it’s nothing but “take, take, take” slash and burn. It’s entirely the wrong mindset.

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