Friday, October 14, 2011

Tuition, Education, and OWS

First off, this was quite possibly the most painful two minutes I've spent in...quite awhile. Since the last time I was forced to sit through an Obama speech. Or Rick Perry's ramblings. This gentleman seems quite confused as to what, exactly, a protest is supposed to be. When a protest/rally has degenerated to the point where, as the interviewer said, the protesters are "putting your Christmas list on a sign and waving it in the air," I think we can definitively say that it has sunk to the point where it will most likely achieve nothing of consequence.

Now, I know that this young man is only one among thousands. And my purpose in this post isn't necessarily just to nitpick on the fact that he doesn't seem to know what he wants. It's more to prove why his wish-list is pretty ridiculous, and why the wish-list of so many others in the Occupy movement are just as far-fetched.

Yes, corporations are bad. They restrict the free market, monopolizing market resources and pooling them into huge vats of capital that they can draw from at will. They also have a bad habit of forgetting the little guy in the midst of their financial orgy. I think it would be a very good thing if they ceased to exist entirely, to be replaced by something more friendly to the idea of liberty. At the same time, corporations and rich people are not necessarily synonymous.

There is a line that needs to be drawn there, in my opinion. Rich people may have gotten rich using a corporatist model. Or they may not have. And even if they did, they still earned the money. Perhaps not fairly, but since when has life been fair? The mere possession of money does not make a person evil or, in the language of my siblings and certain statist Democrats, "mean." It simply means that they were more clever and quicker on their feet than the rest of us. (Nor, I would add, is inherited wealth a bad thing. It was still earned, and should belong to whoever its original owner wants it to.)

What concerns me is not necessarily the idea that corporations or bad, or even the idea that rich people are bad. What does concern me is the very prevalent idea that the government should do something about the badness of corporations and rich people--usually, the idea goes, by stealing money from them and giving it to poorer people. Or, at least, giving it to the government so that it can give it to poorer people.

Or, as the gentleman in this video seems to want, to pay for his college tuition.

I totally get the value of a good education. I think that it is necessary to maintain our standard of living and the society we have now. I do dislike the idea that college is the only place you can get such an education (seeing as I'm probably not going to be attending college), but I also realize that there are some professions that require the specialized education a college course can give one. That said, I think it is far from the government's responsibility to ensure that everyone gets a good education. We've been trying that, through the public school system, for the past thirty years, and the quality of our education has only declined. Do we really want to get the government involved in our places of higher learning?

There is also the libertarian argument that for government to pay for college tuition would be utterly unfair, since it isn't my responsibility to make sure anyone else gets an education. Go get a job and pay for your own college degree if it means that much to you.

Now, this young man may be saying that he wants the evil rich people to pay for his college tuition. But that isn't right, either. If some philanthropic, wealthy individual does want to help him through college, more power to them. But they are under no compunction to do so, and they shouldn't be. That is called plunder, and whether legal or illegal, it is wrong. We simply can't take money from private citizens and give it to other private citizens--or rather, we shouldn't.

And that is my take on this subject.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

And Iran is Next

With the recent, most terrifying Big Bad Terrorist Plot that struck just a month after the tenth anniversary of 9/11, it seems that our government is quite ready to invade Iran. Or, at the very least, it's posing quite effectively, making us think it's quite ready to invade Iran. Apparently, two men with links to a Mexican drug cartel decided to try and kill the Saudi ambassador to the US, a target that even to my mind doesn't seem to make much sense. There's also their chosen method of execution.
The Iranians planned to employ Mexican drug traffickers to kill Jubeir with a bomb as he ate at a restaurant, U.S. officials said.
The logistics alone to this seem like a nightmare. From the use of Mexican drug traffickers (who might not even be able to get into the country, much less to DC, and run the added risk of being recognized and thrown in jail for the ignominious charge of marijuana possession), the fact that a restaurant is a rather iffy place to find the ambassador, liable to change at a moment's notice.

Not that it was ever much of a threat, anyway, since the United States Attorney has stated that law enforcement officers were guiding their sources the whole time, and no explosives were ever placed anywhere. In essence, we've arrested a man on the basis of what he might have been able to do if the CIA and FBI had let him.

As a result of all this, Eric Holder and Hillary Clinton have touted the need for further sanctions against Iran, because obviously not talking to them helps them come to our side, just the way social ostracism works in high school.

Throughout all my travels through the internet punditry and news sites, I've not seen any concrete proof of Iranian involvement, except the fact that Mansour Arbabsiar (a disheveled, disorganized, divorced man in never-ending trouble with a long list of creditors) might have had contacts with the Iranian Quds.

Overall, it just seems like a rather ridiculous assertion, and I hope nothing more than a few hurt feelings will come from it. For more, Glenn Greenwald wrote an excellent column on this subject. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Protests, Palin, and Polls


I'm sure all of us have had the Occupy Wall Street movement drummed into our heads over the past few weeks. Not that I mind the news media giving popular movements coverage. That's a good thing. There seems to be a wide range of people who are participating in the protests, from anarchists to democrats who just think government should give them more money. The people I especially don't understand--and the ones who seem to be most vocal on the movement's website--are the ones who are upset about their student loans and how evil Wall Street is because those evil corporatists don't pay taxes.

To the first, I would simply say that your choices are yours to make and yours to live with. You decided to go to college, with the idea that it would help you get a job. It obviously didn't, and now you're saddled with mountains of college debt that you have no way of paying off. Welcome to reality, where government doesn't pay for your shoddy decisions.

The second has a bit more justification, because the men who work on Wall Street are sometimes the ones who try to get out of every tax they can in quest of profits. I see this more as a commentary on the stifling nature of our tax code, and how easy it is to buy off the IRS, more than anything else. Should our politics and our money be separate? Sure. Will it happen anytime in the next six thousand years? Probably not. Six thousand years of past human civilization couldn't figure out how to wrest the two apart, and I have no delusions that our highly advanced technology will figure out a way for us to do it.

Of course, being the borderline anarchist that I am, I think our tax code is broken, period, and needs to be completely scrapped and rewritten, preferably in a way that will take up no more then ten printed pages and will be easy for the regular person to read. Hey, I'm allowed to be lazy with my citizenship. But once again, that's not going to happen anytime soon, because the IRS is far too lucrative an agency to be so curbed.

I identify far more with the protesters who are there for causes like ending the wars, or protesting the fact that our government is basically owned by the Chinese one because we owe so much money to them. Or even the people who are protesting the fact that corporate sponsors make up so much of the money given to our politicians (I'm still wondering why Rick Perry needs a whopping $17 million to prosecute his campaign...especially when Ron Paul is doing far better, and has only raised $12.5 million since he entered the race. I'm also wondering why people are still giving that shill money. But I digress). But, then again, as I said above, there's no way we're going to separate the two.


Sarah Palin announced yesterday that she wouldn't be making a bid for the job of Spender in Chief. Democrats are disappointed, because their easy victory won't be quite as easy as they'd hoped, Palinites are mad/sad/in the depths of despair, and the rest of us are just happy we won't actually have to put up with her for the next thirteen months unless we are masochistic enough as to turn on Fox News.

I'm really not all that surprised by the move. She enjoys her role as media darling far too much to give it up for actual campaigning, and she knows she has more power as a pundit than she would as a prospective candidate for the highest office in the land. Mostly because she'd never get elected, and I do hope she knows it.


With Barack Obama's approval rating down near 42% and his Rasmussen approval index at -24--again--I think it's safe to say that people don't really like him much. And it's not just our Democrat president, but also our Republican Congress that is drawing the ire of voters. According to a recent poll, only 14% approve of Congress' handling of recent business.

Not that Congress really seems to care. To individual congressmen, all that matters is that their individual popularity remains stable. And judging from my experience, that hasn't changed much. People in my district may not be fans of Congress, but they love Mac Thornberry, our valiant Republican knight who votes for bailouts and doesn't know the first thing about the Constitution, judging by his rhetoric. So individual congressmen get reelected, and Congress doesn't change, since people apparently don't realize that if you don't like what they're doing, it might be time to put new blood in there.

After all, it can't be our elected representatives who are statist curs. It's other people's representatives who do such terrible things.