Uncommon Sense

September 27, 2021

An Open Letter to Anti-Vaxxers

Filed under: Culture,Politics,Reason — Steve Ruis @ 8:29 am
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As background, there has been for over a year now a global pandemic causing a considerable number of “extra deaths” and even more hospitalizations, discomfort, and pain. The number of total COVID-19 deaths is about 3 million or about 7 million depending on whose numbers you are using. Almost a million of those are in the US. (The flu typically kills 60,000 people or so in the US each flu seasons, so this disease has the flu beat all to hell and gone.)

In any case, no matter where this disease came from, it has caused many deaths and apparently also has inflicted long term symptoms upon a large number of people (my brother-in-law being one of them).

Under political pressure and by providing governmental funding, vaccines were developed in record time that have been proved somewhat effective. They significantly reduce the number of people getting the disease at all, and those who do anyway (94% effectiveness is 6% ineffectiveness), rarely get hospitalized or get the long term repercussions, or die from the disease, so these vaccines seems to be a good deal. In my neck of the woods, these vaccines were provided free of charge.

But many people like you have refused to get vaccinated, mostly because you look at it as an infringement of your personal freedom. Most of the rest of us consider this a bullshit excuse. All y’all haven’t complained that driving on the right side of the highway is an abridgement of your personal freedom. Nor paying taxes. There are many things we do for the common good. Childless citizens pay taxes to have other people’s children educated, as another example.

The only way I can convey what this sounds like to many people like me is through scenarios. So, let me “reframe” your refusal.

Scenario 1
Your ocean liner has sunk and you are floating in shark infested waters. I am in a lifeboat and reach out and offer you a hand, to get you into the boat to safety, out of the water. But you refuse because this is an infringement of your personal liberties. In the boat, you will not be able to choose where you go, with whom you travel, and a great many other things. So, you refuse my hand and stay in the water.

Scenario 2
It is the early 1800’s and you have packed your family and all of your goods into a Conestoga wagon and have four oxen pulling your wagon from St. Louis to Oregon were you will make a new life for you and your family. Along the trail, you see a wagon train, off in the distance, traveling roughly the same route you are and soon a lone rider approaches from that direction. The rider identifies himself as a member of that train and asks if you are headed the same way they are. When you say you are, they offer to let you join the train because there is safety in numbers. You refuse because this would infringe upon your personal freedom to go wherever and at whatever rate you choose. The rider shakes his head and rides back to the wagon train.

Scenario 3
You are in Europe during the peak of World War 2 and you are almost surrounded by Nazi troops. Some allied troops who are retreating from the oncoming Nazis offer to take you with them and protect you, but you refuse because that would infringe upon your personal liberties to be the “baggage” of some band of soldiers. Being ordered around by soldiers is not your idea of freedom.

None of these scenarios include an actual surrender of your personal liberty but I’ll tell you what will eliminate all of your personal liberties! Getting eaten by sharks will do the trick. Or being killed by Comancheros out on the plains. Or being killed by the oncoming Nazis, except your womenfolk that they will keep for the use of their soldiers.

We all possess personal liberties, part of which we surrender to society collectively. You seem to not want to surrender any of your personal liberties, in which case you should not receive the benefits of doing so, things like police protection, the protections of the laws and courts, public transportation systems, the electrical grid, water and sewage distribution systems, etc. You don’t get the benefits of society without some sacrifices. (If you think you are paying your own way, think again.)

Some of you claim that you are not getting vaccinated because your haven’t yet done your own research, or worse, you did your own research which came up negative. This is also a bullshit claim, because the odds that you are capable of doing vaccine research is almost zero. I am not talking about the laboratory work, but the reading of the mountains of literature that apply while being able to understand it. What you call “research” is reading or listening to what are called “news” publications. The people writing those articles are also not qualified to explain things to you.

Most of what I read in such reports is nonsense and worse. Even if the reporters are reputable, they will publish fragmentary reports instead of saying “there isn’t a coherent picture yet so we can’t report to you. So you get a little bit of this and a little bit of that, some of which is wrong because it hasn’t been verified and, most of it is premature which you have no way of evaluating, some of which is wild ass opinion used to sell news reports.

Plus, do you seek out reliable sources or just take what comes to you from Facebook and your local news broadcasts?

I suggest that what is keeping you from the relative safety of getting vaccinated is fear. This is understandable. But some the fears expressed are beyond the pale, for example, there are microchips in the vaccines so your location can be traced. If you were paying attention at all, currently if you have a smartphone near you (it doesn’t even have to be on or being used) your location can be determined in an instant. In any case, you have never been hard to find. Now we are told that “they” are hiding the vaccine in salad dressing . . . as if salads were your favorite foods. And one claim is that the vaccines will prevent young people from getting pregnant, as if that has ever happened in all of history.

You need to ask yourself what is the source of your fear. From whom did it come? Fear is being sold as a commodity to use as a political weapon and unscrupulous people have no problem in making you afraid of something at the drop of a hat. These same people have terrorized old white ladies through the fear of having their homes invaded by young black men. As if young black men would like nothing better than raping an old white lady (Eww!). The statistics tell us clearly that old white women are almost never raped by young black men, so the fear is unfounded . . . but is useful to racist politicians who are serving racist financial backers. Ironically, the same people that created this false fear will tell you that most black crime is black-on-black crime. It used to be the case that “you couldn’t have it both ways,” but in modern politics they are showing that you can.

I think the people who are deliberately promoting vaccine fear fraudulently should be strung up by there thumbs and whipped to within an inch of their lives. They are endangering you . . . and me . . . for political gain.

Go around and ask people what happened to them when they got vaccinated. That is research you can do. See if they began to be followed by black helicopters or men in black suits. See for yourself whether your fears are real or not. Living a life of fear sucks the joy out of life and doing it for someone else, someone you don’t even know, is foolhardy.

September 18, 2021

Lies and Truths

Filed under: Economics,History,Politics,Reason — Steve Ruis @ 12:57 pm
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Consider the following quotations:

“(T)he question of their necessity (trade unions) is really superfluous. As long as there are employers with little social understanding or a deficient sense of justice and propriety, it is not only the right but the duty of their employees, who certainly constitute a part of our nationality, to protect the interests of the general public against the greed and unreason of the individual; for the preservation of loyalty and faith in a social group is just as much to the interest of a nation as the preservation of the people’s health.

“Both of these are seriously menaced by unworthy employers who do not feel themselves to be members of the national community as a whole. From the disastrous effects of their greed or ruthlessness grow profound evils for the future.”

“For in politics, as in other fields, the use of economic pressure always permits blackmail, as long as the necessary unscrupulousness is present on the one side, and sufficient sheep-like patience on the other.”

“Otherwise he (a nascent politician) runs the risk of either having to change his former position on essential questions, or, contrary to his better knowledge and understanding, of clinging to a view which reason and conviction have long since discarded. In the former case this is most embarrassing to him personally, since, what with his own vacillations, he cannot justifiably expect the faith of his adherents to follow him with the same unswerving firmness as before; for those led by him, on the other hand, such a reversal on the part of the leader means perplexity and not rarely a certain feeling of shame toward those whom they hitherto opposed. In the second case, there occurs a thing which, particularly today, often confronts us: in the same measure as the leader ceases to believe in what he says, his arguments become shallow and flat, but he tries to make up for it by vileness in his choice of means. While he himself has given up all idea of fighting seriously for his political revelations (a man does not die for something which he himself does not believe in), his demands on his supporters become correspondingly greater and more shameless until he ends up by sacrificing the last shred of leadership and turning into a ‘politician’; in other words, the kind of man whose only real conviction is lack of conviction, combined with offensive impertinence and an art of lying, often developed to the point of complete shamelessness.”

“If to the misfortune of decent people such a character gets into a parliament, we may as well realize at once that the essence of his politics will from now on consist in nothing but an heroic struggle for the permanent possession of his feeding-bottle for himself and his family. The more his wife and children depend on it, the more tenaciously he will fight for his mandate. This alone will make every other man with political instincts his personal enemy.”

Comments of the Trump era or on our current politics?

Actually these are attributed to Adolf Hitler, in Mein Kampf, which he wrote in 1924. He was by no means done creating himself, so his opinions may have changed over the next twenty years. It is hard to say.

Many people refuse to read this book, as they assume it is all lies. I argue that were it all lies it would have had little traction with the German people. Yes, there were plenty of lies and misconceptions and errors of thought, but there are also many observations that seem as true today as they were a century ago. Hitler also has a disarming way of admitting he had been wrong, many, many times, but that may have been a ruse to establish a position of “I may have been wrong back then, but I am dead right now.” Again, hard to tell. It is rare to get into the mind of a ruler, so books such as this one, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, and a few others are worth reading.

September 6, 2021

God is Punishing Oklahomans

Filed under: Culture,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:50 am
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An Oklahoma doctor has said overdoses of the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin, which many believe without evidence can prevent or cure Covid-19, are helping cause delays and problems for rural hospitals and ambulance services struggling to cope with the resurgent pandemic.

“There’s a reason you have to have a doctor to get a prescription for this stuff, because it can be dangerous,” Dr Jason McElyea, a family doctor in Sallisaw, told KFOR, an Oklahoma TV station.

“The [emergency rooms] are so backed up that gunshot victims were having hard times getting to facilities where they can get definitive care and be treated.

“Ambulances are stuck at the hospital waiting for a bed to open so they can take the patient in and they don’t have any, that’s it. If there’s no ambulance to take the call, there’s no ambulance to come to the call.”

Clearly Jesus is telling the Oklahomans that they are on the wrong track and need to get back to righteous respect for those who know things they do not (none of whom work for Fox News).

August 29, 2021

Learning from Others

I just learned that little Costa Rica has handled the COVID-19 pandemic very much better than we have here in the U.S. How is this? Costa Rica made a commitment to public health and through various initiatives has created the situation that Costa Ricans have a longer life expectancy that do Americans.

Costa Rica also had the uncommon sense to add a fourth branch of government to the one they modeled after ours. This branch, which is non-partisan, runs all of the elections. They schedule debates, set the rules, etc. No gerrymandering in Costa Rica.

But we don’t learn from good example or bad examples, because they are from other countries (Others, shoot them, shoot!) and they are trumped by American Exceptionalism. (We’re #1, we’re #1!)

We are also being dumb and lame when it comes to public policy. That is not by accident. Those who have gotten fat off of the current system do not want any competition, nor do they want any opposition, so more liberal voting laws? Nah. More sensible public health policies? No way! Honest elections! No chance, it will put too many party employees out of work.

August 21, 2021

What “Today’s Conservatives” Really Want

I am not at all sure that conservatives still exist, certainly not the conservatives of my youth, but the label is still bandied about, so I will work with it. What do “today’s conservatives” really want?

Recently someone said that conservative Americans want to have decent lives. They want to work, worship, raise a family, and participate in public affairs without being treated as insolent upstarts in their own country. Gosh, might these new conservatives have something in common with today’s liberals and progressives? Gee, I wonder what it could be?

Often as not the 1950’s are mentioned wistfully as such an age.

In the 1950’s, again often as not, the nuclear family (no, not that nuclear) had a male “head-of-household” as breadwinner, a stay at home mom, and wholesome kids who walked or bicycled to a decent school.  I say “decent school” because back then we didn’t know there were “good schools” and “bad schools” to choose from. You went to the same schools your siblings, and often your parents, did.

So, what went wrong?

You can lay in the lap of then conservatives most of the wheels coming off of this blissful state: Ronald Regan presided over a huge shift in stay-at-home moms to the workplace. Women went to work in droves in the 70’s and 80’s because one income didn’t hack it anymore. But, how come? Why were incomes no longer sufficient to raise a family on just one? Over the last 50 years. American worker productivity has gone up and up and up, but wages barely at all. Why was that? It is called “wage suppression,” boys and girls, a conservative effort that paid big dividends for the rich. So, “conservatives” suppressed wages, making many, many women have to seek jobs to maintain a decent standard of living for their family and could, therefore, no longer be at home raising the kids. (Remember the “latch key kid” issue?)

Another feature of the 1950’s was the explosive growth of the suburbs. If you do not remember “sub-urbs” were areas outside of the urban areas we tended to live in. In the urban areas, we didn’t get to always choose our neighbors, but in the suburbs, all the white folk got to tell the black folk that “their kind weren’t wanted around here,” and the federal government helped! (Remember redlining in real estate and bank loans for housing?)

Today’s conservatives are aligned against the Democratic Party because the Democrats want to give away honest taxpayer’s money to undeserving people, people of color! Of course, if you add up all of the money spent to try to lift people of color out of poverty, it is a pittance when compared to the money dished out to white rich folks. And it is still a hallmark of “conservative” federal administrations. Consider the recent Trump Tax Cuts: in 2018, the average tax cut for the richest 1 percent was $51,000 and the average tax cut for the bottom 80 percent to be about $800. Of the total loss of tax revenue to the federal government in the first year, the bottom 90% of taxpayers, including you and me, got 6 billion dollars. The top 10% got 34 billion dollars, with the bulk of that going to the top 1%.

The money “given away to the “undeserving” (code for colored folks) is a pittance compared to the money given away to ordinary white Americans, which is a tiny fraction of the money given to rich people and major corporations (run by rich white people). (Which segment of the American populace has benefit from Social Security? Answer: OWLs, old white ladies. Black folk don’t live long enough to really cash in on SS.)

Those conservatives used a racist smokescreen to cover up the nature of their real aims, to make sure the rich got served first . . . and more than anyone else.

This is not to say that the liberals and progressives are much better. They are better but are also serving the rich first. As far as the rich are concerned, a good politicians is one who stays bought.

So, if you haven’t noticed, this is a racist country. Back in the 1950’s if you watched TV, you didn’t see people of color. The Kramdens didn’t have any black or brown neighbors. Neither did the Nelsons, or the other families shown on TV. The Ricardo’s got away with Desi being Cuban, but that was okay because he was an entertainer and we allowed “coloreds” to entertain us. But they didn’t have any black neighbors or co-workers, either.

This is the 1950’s that many of “today’s conservatives” pine for. None of those “dangerous people” in our neighborhoods. (If you didn’t notice, an extensive media campaign was waged to paint black people as violent and dangerous, especially young black males, so they could be locked up out of sight. If you weren’t aware of that look up the “New Jim Crow.” Oh, and many of the prisons full of young black men were privatized, so rich white people could profit from the scheme.

Let’s see . . . part of the wage suppression efforts was the defanging of labor unions, labor unions which were racist but making progress a little faster than the general public, so that was a “two-fer.” The decline of unions (again, people, not an accident or based upon anything they did) decreased worker power, so wages and working conditions, but not profits, suffered.

So, what do we see in the news today that reflects this? We see people acting out from their powerlessness. Their jobs are insufficient to support the American Dream anymore. (Remember the American Dream: a house, with a white picket fence in a good neighborhood with good schools . . . and white neighbors?) Ordinary American’s credit cards are maxed out trying to stay afloat. When I was young, ordinary people couldn’t get a credit card, they just weren’t available. Today, credit card debt, along with student loan debt (student loans when I went to school had little to no interest) are heavy balls chained to the ankles of everyone of us. We cannot afford to get out of line because we could be ruined financially, so no protesting for a union for us.

We see people proclaiming bizarre beliefs, expressing their powerlessness. They are basically saying “See, I can believe nonsense and you can’t stop me,” so “You can’t make me toe the line on masks and social distancing” is part of a general pattern. Jewish Space Lasers, fire them up! Vaccine micro-chips, yep, they are in there! Hillary Clinton’s child porn ring in the basement of a pizza parlor? Sounds reasonable to me! Overturn the electron results because Donald Trump didn’t like them? Sure, it is only right.

Modern conservatives are in real pain, fomented by faux conservatives. The people behind all of the changes bemoaned by conservative Americans today are the “conservatives,” who are not real conservatives as the only thing they are trying to conserve is their bottom line. They are super-rich wolves in conservative sheep’s clothing.

If you don’t believe this, ask yourself this: if an ordinary American were shown a night of Tucker Carlson and the rest of the Fox News goons, what do you think their reaction would be? They would be flabbergasted. They would blubber “But they are making stuff up, and lying. They can’t do that on the public airways!” (Remember the public airways and standards for news reporting? Done away with by conservatives.)

As I have mentioned before: I didn’t start the class war, the “conservatives” did. And now that they have won, they will work like beavers to keep it this way.

How to you like the world our “conservatives” created for us? This is their vision of the American Dream: profits over people, no opponents to their will in sight, ah . . . reminds me of the 1950’s . . . not.

August 3, 2021

If I Said It Once . . .

Filed under: Culture,Medicine,Morality,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 7:46 am
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. . . some problems take care of themselves. I read this in this morning’s The Guardian:

Health and government officials have in recent days painted the resurgence of Coronavirus as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”, highlighting that areas of the country with the most spread were those with lower than average vaccination rates, and almost all hospitalizations and deaths are now among those declining to be vaccinated.

I wonder when those most negatively affected will realize that they are being sacrificed on an altar of ideology.

July 31, 2021

OMG, We Are That Stupid?

According to surveys and modeling by The Economist magazine, the single greatest predictor of whether an American has been vaccinated is whether they voted for Joe Biden or Donald Trump last November.

Is there a better sign that we have taken a public health issue, a basic nonpartisan issue, and politicized it?

Are we that stupid?

Yes, we are.

Of course, a massive dose of demagoguery was involved but that is the direction our politics have been turning for quite some time.

Where were all of the anti-vax people when we developed the vaccination scheme for our children? For example, here are the common vaccinations that U.S. children are supposed to get:
Chickenpox
Diphtheria
Hib (protects against Haemophilus influenzae type b)
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis B
Influenza (Flu)
Measles
Meningitis
Mumps
Pertussis (whooping cough)
Polio
Rubella
Tetanus
And for Chicago School Children
In addition to the above:
Invasive Pneumococcal Disease
Varicella
I assume your local community will have similar standards.

There were anti-vax people before, some screaming “religious exemption!” but they were a very small minority, not 40% of the population.

While researching the Chicago school vaccination requirements I found that religious exceptions are granted. So I downloaded the form and lo and behold, they require documentation! Here are the relevant sections on how to fill out the form:
How to complete the Certificate of Religious Exemption to Required Immunizations and/or Examinations Form
• Complete the Parent/Guardian sections, which include key information about the student and the school the student will be entering, and the immunizations or examinations for which religious exemption is being requested. Provide a statement of religious belief(s): for each vaccination/examination requested.
• The form must be signed by the child’s parent or legal guardian . AND the child’s health care provider* responsible for performing the child’s health examination
• Submit the completed form to local school authority on or before October 15th of the school year, or by an earlier enrollment date established by a school district.
• The local school authority is responsible for determining whether the information supplied on the Certificate of Religious Exemption to Required Immunizations and/or Examinations Form constitutes a valid religious objection.
Religious Exemption from Immunizations and/or Examination Form Process:
• The local school authority shall inform the parent or legal guardian, at the time that the exemption is presented, of exclusion procedures, should there be an outbreak of one or more diseases from which the student is not protected, in accordance with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) rules, Control of Communicable Diseases Code (77 Ill. Adm. Code 690).
• Exempting a child from health, dental, or eye examination does not exempt the child from participation in the program of physical education training provided in Section 27-5 through 27-7 of the Illinois School Code [105 ILCS 5/27-5 through 105 ILCS 5/27-7]. A separate request for exemption from physical education, if desired, would need to be presented.

The key part of this exception in my mind is: The local school authority is responsible for determining whether the information supplied on the Certificate of Religious Exemption to Required Immunizations and/or Examinations Form constitutes a valid religious objection.

So, the anti-vax people seem to be signing up to be home schooling parents, no? Oh, goody, the transmission of ignorance codified.

There are Always Consequences
The state of Montana recently passed what they, euphemistically, called their “Human Rights Act,” which does not bar discrimination based on sexual orientation or against trans children, but now protects a class of people who don’t want to get vaccinated, whether against COVID–19 or the measles. Yes, Montana’s “small government” Republicans have mandated by law that Montana’s citizens cannot refuse to hire unvaccinated people to work in their homes, or as caretakers for their elderly parents, or they will be in violation of the state’s human rights law. O . . . M . . . G!

Okay, let’s consider a hypothetical. Let’s say that a massive number of cases of leprosy break out in Montana and there is a vaccine. Who do you think would be first in line to get that vaccine? Those same assholes who passed this law and others like it under the false flag of “personal liberty,” which is a joke coming from the party that waved the flag of personal responsibility as a protection against government meddling in our public and private lives. Now they are employing government meddling to avoid having to recommend personal responsibility. That they consider COVID-19 and its variants to be basically a case of the flu, and a health basket case like Donald Trump pulled through it quickly telling them it ain’t so much, allows them to play fast and loose with the issue, milking it for political gain. But a nasty disease, such as leprosy, or one that makes your dick fall off, would have those very same Republicans trampling over other people to get their shots.

July 13, 2021

Paul Krugman Accidently Stumbles Upon Truth

In a blog post addressing, in part, anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, Professor Krugman pointed out our long history of being suspicious that something was going on behind the scenes.

“. . . there has always been a streak in our political psychology that sees elite institutions, from government to education, as secret fronts for a vast global conspiracy.”

Yes, and your point is?

That we are conspiracy-minded or that the elites are always working in the background to shape the world to their benefit and to screw the rest of us?

Take, for example, Professor Krugman’s field, economics. A 2014 survey showed that the political interests of the people had zero chance of being addressed by Congress. Even if we got in line behind the wealthy, the line would be so long that the term would expire before we reached the front. So, the current U.S. economy is set up so that people of wealth can get very much wealthier (e.g. Trump Tax Cuts) but ordinary people struggle in poorly paying jobs with few fringe benefits.

And, oh, climate change? This is a serious concern of a majority of Americans. So, look at this graph and indicate where it shows how our political actions bent the curve in our favor.

What, you see no bending of the curve in our favor (downward)? Hmm, I wonder why that is? All of our governmental efforts to curb climate change have failed? What, you say there have actually been no governmental efforst to curb climate change? Hmm, could it be that the wealthy have been protecting their interests in becoming even more filthy rich and the rest of us can go fuck ourselves?

Yes, I think people think there is something going on behind the scenes. The people are spot on. I just wish they wouldn’t make up bullshit things like Jewish Space Lasers because what is really happening is so fucking obvious.

July 3, 2021

Education is Not What They Think It Is

Filed under: Culture,Education,Reason — Steve Ruis @ 12:32 pm
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I was intrigued enough  to read the following offering on the Medium.com website: Here Are The Jobs That Will Disappear In The Next 10 Years.

One of the jobs that will be eliminated or greatly reduced, according to this guy, is “Teachers (expect more and better online schools like iTunes U)”

Once again, the idea that an education is merely the acquisition of knowledge is promoted. Any tiny amount of thought about this would show it to be nonsense. For example, I used to draw a number line on the board in my beginning chemistry classes. The whole line represented 100% of chemical knowledge. Right next to the 0% end, I put a mark which represented their acquisition of knowledge. Just past that mark, getting close to 1% on the line, I put another mark. That mark represented my acquisition of chemical knowledge (which was prodigious). My point was that no one has even a tiny fraction of all of the chemical knowledge in their mind. And, since I retired, the total amount of chemical knowledge has doubled, probably twice.

At the very same time, students were becoming aware of the prodigious amount of knowledge available online. Their whine (it was not a lament) was “I don’t need to learn all of this stuff, I can just look it up online!” My response was to ask how do you find the spelling of a word if you can’t type it into your computer. (This was the same complaint about looking up spellings in dictionaries; to find something in the dictionary, you needed to be able to spell it.) And, as more and more stuff is available online, more and more stuff can be found, but the trustworthiness of what is found is more and more in doubt (Fake knowledge, fake knowledge! Quiet, please, Mr. President.).

So, what are we teaching if not knowledge?

I contend that education is a social process, one in which we learn how to learn and learn how to work together. Teamwork makes the dream work is the operative aphorism. No one is preaching a “you can go alone and make it” approach to modern work. We work in teams, with each team member having different resources, but all needing to learn and work together.

While there is some store of knowledge that is transmitted during an education, that is not the primary focus. We ask that students learn something, but there is complete lack of agreement as to what that knowledge is. If that knowledge were so important, you’d think there would be some agreement as to what it is. There isn’t.

Back in the last millennium, I was part of a team of professors from the three major public higher education systems in my state and we needed to find what the education standards for high school science courses were. The state provided guidelines but did not mandate them, so each county had its own version of those standards, so we had 58 sources and no one had thought that having all of these summarized in one place would be a good idea. Even though these resources are now available online, I still do not think there is any place that gathers them together to simplify comparisons, etc.

And then there are the other 49 states.

So, what are we teaching if not knowledge? We are teaching how to learn and work together in a social context. If you think online “social media” is a valid social context for this purpose, think again. Social media are currently distorting our society rather than reflecting it. (Think of the forces trying to profit from the existence of social media and what they are doing to reap those profits.)

Social media leave out the majority of the interpersonal communication individuals have in face-to-face encounters. When you speak to another face-to-face and deeply offend them, they might haul off and punch you in the face. That does not happen online. Any equivalence between online relationships and face-to-face relationships is minor.

We need to get students together to learn to interact with one another and learn how to learn and work together. Having a human guide for this purpose, a teacher, will not be going away any time soon.

What I fear is that the rich have an agenda and they are fine with us proles getting an “education” online, while they will still pay to have their kids taught by real, live teachers. Think how much money we will save! Yes, I am being sarcastic; a comment necessitated by the inability of this computer to deliver affect, possibly the biggest source of information between two humans communicating face-to-face. (If you want a lesson in affect, view the movie “My Cousin Vinny,” especially the part where the court clerk quotes Vinny saying “I did it.”)

June 25, 2021

U.S. Billionaires Don’t Pay Taxes

I’m shocked, shocked, I tell you!

Recently a federal government official leaked the fact that over the past decade, U.S. billionaires effectively paid no federal tax. The response from the government was swift: a veritable thunderstorm of condemnation . . . of the leaker, with threats of FBI investigations into the leak, jail sentences, etc. Condemnation of the billionaires for “rigging the system?” Not so much.

Was there any difference between the Republican and Democratic Party’s reactions? A slight difference in style, maybe, but in content no. Gee, I wonder why that is?

Both political parties have been captured by the “rich donors” who fill party coffers. Since these “donors” are in the cadre of wealthy assholes paying few to no taxes, is this situation surprising to you?

Just another sign that the elites, the wealthy and powerful elites, are on their side of a line and the rest of us are on the other. And they are defending their privileges tooth and nail.

When the whistleblower law was enacted, it was framed as a protection for government officials and corporate officials who “leak” information that the public needs to know.

Isn’t this something we need to know? That the recent Republican tax cuts reduced already small tax burdens on the very rich down to no tax burden at all? And, guess who is going to make up for the lost revenue? (And you don’t get three guesses!)

I wonder how these rich assholes can complain about U.S. tax policy when they are paying no federal taxes at all. Chutzpah personified.

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