Monday, May 5, 2014

North Korea calling the kettle black

So, amongst my journeys today I came across an article where North Korea lists out some of America's human rights violations.  I know, its ironic as all get out because, well, they have a pretty long list themselves, but lets look at the list, see how it measures up?

Claim: 300,000 Americans sign up for unemployment every week, but no proper measure has been taken. 

Response:  I think the last number I heard was in the millions, and one must file paperwork for unemployment every week, so this is partly untrue, and a low number.  We practically know who is currently signing up for unemployment, they have to do it weekly, and they have money deposited into an account created in their name, or their account.  Now where the numbers get fuzzy are those who no longer qualify for unemployment and are still unemployed.  They vanish off the books, and they either return to work, or they give up.  Maybe thats what they meant.

Claim: Housing prices have increased by over 20% in the past two years, leaving many people homeless.

Response:  It is true that as the economy recovers the cost of housing also increases.  The problem is not so much the price of the housing that leaves people homeless, it is what happened before and after the person became homeless that does.  Loosing a job, an illegal foreclosure, or any number of circumstances can lead to homelessness, and the after effects of these things destroy the precious credit score, making it harder for someone to get another job, adequate transportation, or even a home for that matter.

Claim:  The number of impoverished people grew to 46.5 million last year.  Also one sixth of the adult population and twenty percent of children are "in the grip of famine".

Response:  That number is unchanged according to US sources, we have 46.5 million people at or below the poverty level in this county.  That is around 14%, not good at all.  It also shows that it is slightly lower than the one sixth number they gave.  The 20% of children living in the grip of famine is really 22% of children living in poverty.  They eat, but not nearly enough, nor the proper foods to fuel their growing bodies.

Claim: The US monitors it's citizen's actions due to "national security"

Response:  Yeah, I don't think it is every citizen in the US they are monitoring, but I might be mistaken.

Claim: The US suffers from rampant crimes, which pose a serious threat to the life and well being of our citizens.

Response:  I would not say he is wrong, but the report is exaggerating a little.  The fact is, we do have a crime problem here, but its not for the reasons you might expect.  As the economy declines, more laws are written, more people will be in violation of said laws.  Of course drug us is a major problem int he US, but it can be tied back to the economy, or lack of it.  Honestly, most crimes can be tied back to the economy if you looked into it.

Claim: Easing restrictions on firearms has lead to murderous crimes.  The US now tops the UN list for highest murder rates in the world.

Response:  I checked on this, the US is not even close to the top ten of the list.  Not to say it isn't a problem, but yeah it was overkill in the report.  While examining the report I found that our homicide numbers are actually lower than the global average.  Actually, when compared to the world, only higher than some Asian, European, and Oceania nations  It is the lowest when compared to the Americas.  But more importantly, resistance to stronger background checks does not help the issue of gun violence.

Claim: The US has 2.2 million prisoners, the most in the world.  Also that the wealthy are investing in private prisons.

Response:  The number is actually a million shy of the real number, with the majority of people who are incarcerated being mentally ill, mentally retarded, or innocent of any crime at all.  As for "for-profit prisons" that is a growing source of investment and business in the US.  The assertions made are true in my opinion.  Not only did North Korea call us out on having the most people incarcerated but they also called us out over having privately owned prisons, which do create a demand.  Don't believe me?  A for-profit prison system sued a state because they did not have enough criminals incarcerated.

Now, forget the source for a moment, and look at it as you would from a country without so many human rights violations of its own.  Say it was the United Kingdom that had put this report out.  You would be enraged.  You should be enraged at it anyway.  It shows just how bad it has gotten in the United States.  Sure, I can say my view is skewed, it is biased, I am looking up at it from the bottom of the ladder.  When I was sitting comfortably in the middle class, I could see these things, but I was concerned with other things, and ultimately that is the problem.  When you think you are somewhere, you are in the middle class, you are too concerned about maintaining your status.  When you are poor, you are too driven to get out of being poor.  When you are wealthy (not rich), you have enough where you don't have to struggle to maintain you are focused on other things, your hobbies.  When you are wealthy your hobby is getting more.  That is a generalization, there are exceptions to what I said. 

But this should be a warning, when country with the track record of North Korea starts calling you out, its not all politics, and given the things that I and others have seen here, we have some serious problems.  Now this report is quick to blame Obama, and he shares some blame in this.  But it took a long time to get here, and its not something that can be fixed easily overnight.  I wish there was a little button I could push, and it would make things all right for everyone.  But this is not a commercial, there is no easy button to push.  As it stands, until we are willing to make the painful choices, all of us, rich and poor alike, nothing will change, nothing will get better.  Nothing will change, unless we are willing to fight for it.  We have to change our mindset, we have to fight our own desires to improve it.  We have to acknowledge we cannot do without our fellow man, and just because we have others can have if only they do as we do.