Thursday, June 30, 2016

Truth or Consequences

Hola mi gente,
I usually write these the night before I publish them and then a product I use, Symphony, publishes them to all my social media accounts (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, etc.). It’s a great blog tool for people who are serious bloggers. If you use it, mention you heard it here first.

Consequential Thinking

Complexity is the destiny of thoughtful individuals, from which they will never be rescued.
 -- Leon Wieseltier

There is a pernicious mindset that dominates our approach to social policies. Bluntly put, we live in a culture of blame:

Poor? It’s your fault!
Functionally illiterate? It’s your fault and your parents’!
Racism and classism don’t exist because we all know that there’s no relationship between individual motivation and larger oppressive societal forces.

The state of education has everything to do with the stupid little meanies -- our supposedly over-sexed, willfully ignorant children of today. Never mind that today’s generation has lower rates of drug use and teen pregnancy than previous generations. And it has nothing to do with the adults that don’t have the will, nor empathy for a coherent education policy.

We all know it’s all on the individual, therefore, if individuals from your family/ community are going to prison at higher rates than others, it’s, yup, your fault. It has nothing to do with systems created to benefit one demographic at the expense of another.

The new (and improved) racism is clothed in the language and myth of rugged individualism. We made it without any “handouts,” some seem to be saying, and an inability to break into the mainstream is the fault of greedy black and brown people expecting a free ride. I guess the irony of a nation built on land stolen from Indians and the slave labor of blacks is lost on such people. Or the fact that the vast portion of “free stuff” go to the richest is lost in a sea of proactive ignorance.

But logic has no place at the core of a right wing social movement marked by a resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality, as well as some common psychological factors such as: fear and aggression, dogmatism and intolerance of uncertainty, among others.

Do you believe that a microscopic clump of cells in a Petri dish possesses the same rights as you?

I first became interested in public policy during an undergraduate course in Metro Studies. I had the kind of teacher we all love: passionate, knowledgeable about his subject, and able to communicate complex concepts in ways that were both enlightening and easily understandable.

I was immediately drawn to the issue of consequences and public policy. As with everything, there are intended and unintended consequences to the public policies we implement. For example, declaring a racialized “drug war” and taking a punitive approach as a response to addiction/ drug problem had the unintended (some say intended) consequence of exploding our prison population to the extent that we now incarcerate more people per capita than any other nation in the world. We incarcerate more blacks than were slaves in 1840, years before the Civil War.

The drug war and the unprecedented mass incarceration that resulted also had the unintended consequence of draining resources away from education (there’s a direct correlation between increased prison spending and decreased education spending), and early enrichment programs, after school programs, etc. In fact, we went from a nation seeking a Great Society to a nation of prisons.

Do you believe public schools should actively teach children to disregard the validity of the scientific theory of evolution?

The point being that while it may sound nice to get up on your cyber soap box and yell out stupid shit such as, “tough on crime!” these sentiments, so prevalent today, hold dire consequences for all of us. I think many of us like to stand on the sidelines and pass judgment. We de-fund education and then chastise our young. We make it almost impossible to for poor single mothers to get ahead and then pass moral judgment on them. We sit back apathetically, while a right-wing religious fringe movement advocates abstinence-only programs that empirical research has shown to be at best ineffective, at worst dangerous. We adults then pass judgment on the resulting mess -- rates of teen pregnancy and abortions rates that lead all developed nations.

Do you believe legally available contraception is producing a “culture of death” in the United States?

It’s as if we all have decided to live not as a society, but as millions separated nuclear entities, where the law of the jungle -- get yours and fuck the rest -- is the rule.

Our social policies are the result of a nation of people who have been hoodwinked into choosing the very policies that do them the most harm, because, as global warming shows us, we’re all inextricably connected. What happens to you and to me, and everyone else, affects us as individuals and as a society.

Do you believe that the United States should be a Christian nation?

As for the questions in italics? Unfortunately for too many of us the answers to the questions are yes. And that, not Trump, should scare you... 

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization… 

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