We take such interesting tacks on life in America. It creates a strange merry go round.
Starting at the top, we keep tax rates lowest on the wealthiest, who can most afford it. People can buy pistols, rifles and assault weapons but they can't grow vegetables in their front yards or raise chickens on their 'personal property'. Yet we want people to be independent and stand on their own. The logic embraced in our country's laws and values keeps that from happening.
Marijuana legalization is fought because of the dire impact on our health and lives. Hemp is even disapproved despite its usefulness. Meanwhile, booze and tobacco products, proven contributors to death and disease, live on because we're capitalists and we believe in the free market. We have huge campaigns to find the cure for cancer, heart disease and diabetes even while encouraging the behavior and selling the products that promote the environment fostering the manifestation and growth of these health problems.
We believe in the free market so the Federal government subsidizes agribusiness but we're against the entitlement society so we're cutting SNAP - nutritional assistance to the needy and poor. Meanwhile, we're immersed in a consumer economy, fighting hard to keep wages low so that those goods and services being sold can do so at the lowest price points with the greatest profit margins. We depend on being mobilized, not only building a huge network of streets, roads and highways, but an economy based on people driving cars. Without buying and using cars, much of our economy would go underwater in America. Yet we persist on reducing people's wages so they can less and less afford to drive. A recent study verified the impact; America's youth are driving less and less. While many cite electronic technology such as cell phones and texting and applications such as Facebook, the study determined that the largest reason for teenagers not getting their licenses and driving is economics. They just can't afford it.
Training and education is known to be key to developing an intelligent and capable population and helping us keep competitive in world markets, but we cut our education system to save money for our defense, even though we have the world's most powerful military, capable of delivering nuclear and conventional weapons from a multitude of platforms within hours of deciding to do so. Hell, we can do it by remotely flying the machines with our growing fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles.
More money is spent each year fighting forest fires, flooding and weather disasters while denying that climate change can have any influence in the growing numbers of fires, floods and disasters. Meanwhile, we're busy commoditizing and monetizing water supplies as more regions suffer from greater and more prolonged droughts. We're for transparent government and citizen involvement but hide who donates what monies to what causes, politicians and campaigns, and allow half-truths and lies to proliferate because our freedom and liberties are precious. Yet we're building more prisons than anywhere else in the world, incarcerating a larger and larger percentage of our population at a greater and greater cost. It shouldn't be a surprise that we're busy commoditizing and monetizing justice in this manner. Those that can afford a clever lawyer can get away with a fine and write it off while those who are most poor desperate are the ones tossed into prison. Our police, established to serve and protect, will now kill anyone with anything that looks like they might have a weapon, whether it's a toy or a phone, or the people just make the mistake of reaching into the pocket when the police confront them.
But it probably remains most strange that as we contort ourselves to believe we don't torture - or if we do, it saves American lives, we tell ourselves, which are, after all the most precious lives in history - for aren't we God's children, the product of manifest destiny? As we do these things, we've built a monster spy machine, capturing our information, tracking our movements, stalking us and our allies, just in case we deviate from the accepted standards and become a threat. Even the President, titular leader of our free society, claims to be unaware that the machine was gorging on data from wherever it could be harvested.
Yes, it remains strange that we consider ourself advanced and free. Most of us work to protect our identities and buy the essentials from Maslov's hierchy of needs, the simple things like food and shelter. How many will ever achieve such needs as self-actualization in such a society as the one we've created and are building?
It remains strange. It seems like it's going to get stranger.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com