Thursday, March 6, 2014

Welcome to the Third World... America

America, the third world country.  Welcome to our humble land, we hope you enjoy your stay.  Oh yeah, if you hear gun shots, hit the deck.

Recently Sean McElwee wrote an article in which he gave his thoughts, well 6 reasons why America is a third world nation (6 Ways America is a 3rd World Country).  While I agree that it is well thought out, and from what I read of it so far, very informative, I think he is slightly off base with some of his views.

He first points out the Criminal Justice system.  While I agree it is in dire need of a completely rebuild, I do not think it is the worst problem facing America at this time.  Certainly, we have instances of laws being misused and abused, along with the mentally ill, the poor, minorities, and others.  In some areas we have the system being abused by the good ole boy network, it shows that we need to rebuild it from the ground up.  We need to retire all current judges, prosecutors, and sheriffs.  Sure many of these people go about their days doing right by the system, and that is the tragedy of it all.  We see more bad behavior inside the system, than we see the good guys doing right by the innocent, and the common man.  We have a for profit system, and that my friends creates a demand for inmates.  We need to stop turning everything over to a for profit company.  We focus on punishment, rather than ensuring people do not first learn to become better criminals, while we attempt to turn them into law abiding citizens.  While this will not work for every individual as some people are resistant to rehabilitation.  Other solutions can be found for them.  Otherwise, once these people have finished their stretch in the poke, we seem to fail in reintegrating them into society.  Once a criminal always a criminal, and we push them back into criminal behavior just to survive.  To fix the system we need to out the current people (judges, prosecutors, sheriffs) and put in appointed people.  We need to completely rewrite our laws in layman's terms, so simple even a child can understand the law, and streamline the system (and legalize some drugs), without stomping on our protected rights.

Next he points at gun violence.  Again, I do not see this.  I know we have issues with guns.  I know it is a hot topic with many people, either polarized to the gun rights side, or the gun control/ban side.  Not all gun control advocates are gun banners, just like not all gun rights people feel we should have access to M1 Abrams tanks or nuclear weapons. The problem here is the economy, healthcare, along with other issues including lack of education, and lets face it racism/bigotry/bullying.  Unlike the Criminal Justice system, this is not an easy fix, because this problem ties into so many other issues.  We need a single payer system like so many other modern societies.  We need massive infrastructure projects where anyone and everyone can get a job, that can last a lifetime, with other jobs that pay a living wage.  We need to give bullies and their victims mental heath care so we can stop the bulling and the ensure the victims do not go off the rails.  All this while we figure out a feasible way of stopping the bad guys (this includes some cops) from getting guns legally or illegally. 

At this point, I am going to give my reasons America is now a third world country. 

First, we have a government that is so divided, so separated on their idea's that it barely functions.  The Conservative party is so far off the rails that they will focus on any reason to go after the Liberal party.  The conservatives dictate that people pull themselves up by the bootstraps, and then stand by while people go to any means to survive on low wages.  Liberals then point the finger at some other issue, but really the answers are simple.  Set aside your BS, and get to work, get jobs into the US, make the infrastructure, education, healthcare a priority.  But they all say they want it, but their voting record proves otherwise.  We have a House, that cannot act on anything unless the Speaker allows it.  He has a tendency to only want to hear his sides ideas, and even on the off chance the other side gets to have something on the floor, it is basically tied down and watered down to the point, it might as well be written in the sand on a beach that is experiencing both a tidal wave and hurricane at the same time.

Next, our infrastructure is so poor, it ranks at "any moment we are all going to die".  Sure most people have running water, and power.  But lets face it, most of our water piping is older than I am.  The electrical system is older than my dad and I combined.  Our high speed internet is like running on a dirt road covered in water, when compared to most countries.  We need to revamp all three systems, to go with new bridges, dams and levees (we even have concrete that can absorb CO2).  We need to repave all roads, which we can now add solar panels, and this would solve several issues.  First, the roads can then be heated, which cuts down on salt and chemical usage in the winter, but it can also be used for electrical power.  Now I said we need to revamp our water/sewer, electrical and internet systems, and the fact is, it is needed.  When I talk about the water/sewer system I mean we need to put in new piping for access, and we need to rebuild the water and sewer treatment plants.  We need a smart grid for electricity, something that can shut portions down, rather than have a cascading failure.  We also need to run full fiber-optic cable, it would benefit the phone system, television system, and internet system.  More bandwidth can flow faster, which benefits everyone.  Now the really expensive part of the electrical and internet portion of this infrastructure is the notion of running everything underground.  This would prevent the majority of outages, as trees and heavy snow would not cause major issues.

The above mentioned paragraph should help take care of the poverty and homelessness issues faced in the United States.  But lets look at it anyway.  We have 15% of the population living in poverty, and many of them are currently working.  More than that get no kind of assistance.  We have elderly eating dog and or cat food, because it is all they can afford.  We have a situation where people choose between a home, and their medications.  To help further lift people out of poverty we should invest in a single payer option.  Just as you have the right to private insurance, I have the right to use my tax dollars for a single payer system.  There, a compromise that so many people say never happens.  I can have the government take care of my health insurance for a fee taken out of my paycheck, or I can have someone like Blue Cross/Blue Shield cover any medical expenses I might have.

Our educational system is a joke, and its not entirely the schools systems fault.  Some of it is, when I was in high school, there were 30-40 students in a classroom, we had to truck outside the school on several occasions to go to trailers for class.  These office trailers often required us to wear our coats, because lets face it office trailers aren't always the warmest places to be in the winter.  This is not the systems fault, the schools are falling down, and they are too small to house the number of students who attend.  Teachers are forced to deal with increased work loads, with lower pay.  Students fall through the cracks, they are neglected, because the teachers are spending so much time trying to deal with several trouble makers.  On top of that, there are many students who simply do not care about learning.  They are present only to hang out, they do not see education as being important.  They figure they can get by on a day job, and the fact is, there was a time it was true.  I was the second person in my family to graduate from college, my Mom the first.  Everyone else in my family lives near the poverty level or well below it, because they could not go for the decent or good jobs, they had to fight and struggle for it.  What required a high school diploma twenty years ago now requires a BS degree, and in ten years what requires a BS degree to do will require a Master's Degree.  Even today BS degrees do not hold the same weight as they did before.  Today a person with a BS degree in Psychology cannot get into the same fields as before, due to the advent of new degrees.  An example of this is this; at one time as someone who majored in Psychology, I could get a job as a social worker, drug counselor, or a wide range of jobs, today I would need a BS degree in Social Working, Drug Rehabilitation, or some other field specific degree, when they all tie into Psychology, they are all aspects of the field. 

Only in a third world nation will you find such income inequality.  Look at who we sit directly behind on the list of top ten highest nations with high income inequality.  Turkey, Mexico, and Chile.  Yeah, they are the only three that rank worst in income inequality.  That is not something to be proud of.  This also ties into gun violence, and poverty.  The rich get richer, and the rest of us get screwed.  Making matters worse is people who are getting screwed are siding with the people screwing them.  This one we are doing to ourselves.  And in a time, what many consider the prime of this nation, we had a better gap in the equality of income.

All of these factors and more I have yet to list all tie in to make America the first world third world nation of the world.  Really, we are on par with some of the old Soviet era block states in terms of how things work here.  All that is really left is a completely trashed environment, and even that is spotty at best.  Sorry folks, we are killing our environment, and once that is complete, we will be a third world country, with isolated pockets of great places to live, but good luck, you won't likely be able to afford to live there.  Hope you enjoy.