Eternity and Beyond

A friend posted this on video facebook.  It compelled me to write a few words about it. The attitude that many Christians, such as Francis Chan in this video, have about life is much of the problem I have with Christianity today. Many of these people are unconcerned with the immediate consequences of their actions because they are focused on a “bigger picture”; one that may not even exist. Their “higher moral ground,” which they believe will grant them access to a heaven that may or may not exist leads them to ignore or even cause atrocities here on Earth.

This concept that people should be “running a moral race” seems ludicrous to me. If there is some sort of loving god, I cannot, and will not believe that s/he/it would approve of ignoring our lives here on Earth in an effort to win his/her/its favor for some life beyond.

If people truly believe there is a god, racing each other to the finishing line is not the answer. Love, truth, and compassion are. Regardless of a person’s faith (or lack there of) the only moral way to behave is to treat others the way you want to be treated. This does not include: belittling someone for having a different religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, or being different period. Nor does it include acts of violence–even ones a person deems to be righteous. Bombing abortion clinics, people of different faiths, or anyone else does not make you a religious crusader, it makes you terrorist.

In the end, regardless of our beliefs, we all have only one chance to be a good person on this planet. By turning the quest for eternity into a moral race, Christians can cause more harm than good. Life is not a competition, and shouldn’t be treated as one. Unconditional, brotherly love, or as Aristotle put it, agape, has been missing from our society for a very long time. I know that it is difficult to love our neighbors–I know I struggle with it, but if we all can love one another despite our differences, perhaps a race for eternity won’t be necessary.

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A Safety Net For All

So many people use the terms “socialism” or “democratic-socialism” is if they are evil words bent on destroying American society. I wonder how many of those people are loving parents. Personally, I want to give my children the best chance at success I possibly can. I know how easy it is to fail in our society because we have no true safety nets in place. My parents did not believe in lending a helping hand, so I fell flat on my face over and over again. I wasn’t able to finish college until I was almost 40.

Because of my experiences, I don’t want my children to suffer the way I did. I try to help them as much as I can. I give what I can to make their lives a little easier because I want them to have a financial cushion. It has been proven that children who have that safety net early on are more likely to succeed later in life.

Democratic-socialism offers that safety net for everyone, not just those who can afford it. By taxing the people who have been avoiding taxes for decades–such as multi-national corporations, the ultra rich, and people who have influence over law makers (like Wall Street), there can be enough money to ensure that everyone in the country has good health care, a decent education, and a job that provides a living wage.

I would like to know how many loving parents could stand back and do nothing while their child fell to injury or death off of the play equipment at a park, or out of a tree? If you truly love your country, you won’t stand idly by while it falls into the hands of the ultra-rich and multi-national corporations who have been injuring and killing it for decades. It is time to stand up and do something about it. It is time that we finally say, “no more!” We all deserve a safety net, and the only presidential candidate honest enough, and capable enough to provide that is Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders

Bigotry in Action

I try not to discriminate against anyone…even bigoted jerks who have a tendency to discriminate against everyone else. On my facebook page, I have three people on my friend’s list that I have never met in real life. They are on my list because we met on forums or threads and decided that we would get along well as facebook friends. Everyone else I actually know in person…and some of those people are frightening and embarrassing me. It is upsetting to know that I have actually sat down and eaten dinner with someone who would post something like this:

AmericanStupidity.jpg

The concept that so many Americans can be so callous is heartbreaking for me. In one breath these people claim to be Christian, yet in the very next one, they reject every teaching Christ ever gave. I may not be Christian, but I am certainly caring, compassionate, loving, forgiving, and understanding. These are the types of things the Christ of the Christian bible taught people to be.

People need to make up their minds. Either they are bigoted, racist jerks bent on rejecting the spirit of love Christ taught, or they are Christians who truly believe in the message Christ brought them. One or the other. There is no middle ground.

In other words, if you are preparing to treat someone like dirt and expect horrible things from them just because of the color of their skin or the country they come from, you are a bigoted jerk who is rejecting the teachings of Christ. Accept it. Embrace it, but don’t try to pretend that you’re something you’re not.

The Corporate Take Over

Did you know that 90% of the media we consume is controlled by only six companies?CorporateMedia

This means that we don’t actually get “news,” we get what the corporate heads want us to think is news. Why do you think we get headlines like: President Obama to Headline Hispanic Caucus Awards. These are meant to be distractions from what is really going on in the world, and especially right here in the US. While we focus on the “news” that these corporations feed us, those same corporations are sending all of our jobs overseas, eliminating our middle class, taking all of our money, and driving as many of us as they can into poverty. They don’t care if our economy collapses because they have their fingers in plenty of other pies all over the world. If consumers in the US can no longer afford their products because we have been driven into poverty, they will simply move to another market.

It is not just the media. Starbucks has nearly taken over the coffee business, especially here in the US. Though many “media” articles rave about their coffee quality, being a coffee connoisseur, I can attest that the quality is not nearly as awesome as those articles claim. At least they do offer a light roast coffee, which is healthier and contains more caffeine for the morning “kick”. Unfortunately they do not offer other healthy options, such as nut milks. Cows milk causes gastrointestinal issues for many people, not to mention it is very high in calories. Starbucks alternative is soy milk, which does not have the same gastrointestinal effects and less calories than cow’s milk, but there are health risks with soy, especially if it is not prepared properly.  Big corporations aren’t concerned about the health risks their products have on a few consumers, especially if those symptoms can’t be definitively traced back to their product.

McDonald’s sells more hamburgers than any other fast food business, and have been caught on several occasions cutting corners…corners that put the health of their patrons at risk. Their disregard for their employees is well-known, and well documented. Another corporate giant who has a well documented disregard for their employees is Wal-Mart. What is frustrating for me in these cases is the fact that without their employees, these companies would be nothing. The people who come in every day, put in the work, deal with customers, lift the boxes, cook the food, stock the shelves and keep the places running are the ones who ensure that the companies stay in business. Without them, there would be no company, yet the corporate heads treat them like disposable rags. If someone needs some time off to care for a sick loved one, or they get into a car wreck, or some other tragedy befalls them, these corporate heads simply fire them and move on to someone else who will fill the slot rather than recognizing the hard work that person has put in for the company. These people are not disposable, and the corporate heads need to know that.

Our financing industry is being consolidated into a few big banks. We don’t even have control over who we’re indebted to anymore. When I was in school, I took out school loans with Wells Fargo. Within months the bank had sold my loans to Fannie Mae. My debt transferred to someone I never made a contract with–without my consent, and there was nothing I could do about it.

What can we do to protect ourselves?

We need to break the corporate power over our country. I believe the first step is to get behind Bernie Sanders. He truly understands how urgent our plight is. I believe he will take action to: limit congressional terms, close corporate tax loopholes, make sure these corporate leaders are accountable for their actions, and much more.

On a more personal level, I try my best to avoid big corporations. I bank at a local credit union. Most of my clothes are purchased second hand; not only do I get to avoid spending money at a big corporate owned institution, I also save money that way. I do my best to get as much of my food as I can locally, and cook at home. When I do go out, I prefer unique restaurants as opposed to chains. I have a latte machine at home. I can make my coffee with whatever kind of milk I want…including the nut milks I make myself.

In the end, we need change…both on a macro and a micro scale. We can make the small changes in our own lives that tell these corporate leaders we’ve had enough, but we need a revolutionary change like Bernie Sanders to ensure that they truly get the message.

Time For Change

I do a lot of watching, listening, learning, and trying to understand everyone’s point of view. At this point, I’m having a hard time understanding the opposition from lower and middle class Americans toward economic change. Personally, I’m tired of working harder and harder every day, every week, every year…for nothing. I spent years in college just to find that my efforts were just as worthless as working all those years. Now I’m making just as little as I was before I went to school, only now I have $50,000 worth of debt looming over my head. Every time I do something to try to make my life better, easier, more manageable…you know…reach for “the American Dream,” my legs get swiped out from under me before I even take the first few steps. I know I’m not the only one. I’ve heard stories far worse than mine. Corporate America and the super wealthy are choking the life out of the rest of us.

Wealth inequality in this country is staggering, and it is growing.

income-inequality-has-grown-in-us

Our middle class is falling into the lower class. Each year, more and more people find themselves making less than what is necessary to live. Eventually, if nothing is done, American will resemble a medieval oligarchy with one wealthy ruling class and one peasant class who has no power whatsoever. Think about that. The money is still out there, it’s just that the vast majority of people have no access to it.

Why is that, and what can we do about it?

There are many reasons. To begin with, many of our jobs are being shipped over seas. We can start to resolve that by creating a tariff on all finished goods. If it costs manufacturers just as much to make goods overseas as it does to make them here in the US, they may as well keep the jobs here. We can also create new jobs here. As Bernie Sanders has suggested, there are plenty of jobs just waiting for ordinary people…as soon as we start to rebuild our infrastructure. All over the country there are roads, bridges, dams, aqueducts and many other such neglected structures necessary for our cities to function properly. By repairing these structures, we can create thousands of jobs.

Of course, the biggest issue is how the ultra wealthy and major corporations are able to avoid paying their fair share into our economy. They are more than happy to take your money from you, but when it comes to contributing to the society as a whole…

3trillion

Now keep in mind, three trillion is just the amount of money these guys avoid paying into the system. It’s hard for me to even imagine a number like that…$3,000,000,000…and that is what they are supposed to contribute to our society, but don’t. Imagine what that kind of money could do for schools, for our police departments, for rebuilding infrastructure…heck, use your imagination! The first step to ensuring these people pay their fair share and can longer slip through their loopholes is to pull the money out of politics. We need to get the lobbyists out of Washington, overturn Citizens United, and bring democracy back to our political system. To ensure that our democratic system remains sound, we really need to impose term limits on senate seats. (“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”-John Emerich Edward Dalberg.) Since the ultra wealthy and big corporations will have been stripped of their power and influence at that point, politicians could then create laws to close those loopholes without the fear of retribution.

In the end, the only thing that will save this economy is to stop the flow of money from the lower and middle class into the ultra wealthy and major corporations. As long as the money that we lose to the wealthy and corporations remains out of reach, and never makes its way back into our economy, this system is doomed for failure. Many of these corporations do business all over the world, so they really don’t care if we all fall into extreme poverty, because they have plenty of customers in elsewhere who are ready, willing, and able to buy their products. The only way they can continue to do this to us is if we let them get away with it. We’ve been letting them steal from us, use us, and treat us like we’re disposable for far to long. This country was built on the backs of hard working people like us. It’s time that we take back our economy, take back our country…time that we show wealthy billionaires and corporations that if you want to do business in the US, you need to contribute to our society…plain and simple.

Minimum Wage War

I know I’ve talked about this before, but I think this is a very important subject that needs further investigation. One of the first steps in repairing our economy is to bring money back to consumers…people who are actually going to spend the money in our marketplace, not leave it sitting in bonds, assets, or overseas somewhere. Until people have money to spend, ensuring that the money flows freely through our system, it will continue to stagnate at the top, grinding the wheels of our economy to a halt.

Many people believe that we can bring money back to the consumer class by raising the minimum wage, which is true…somewhat. But what about five, ten, or fifteen years from now? After inflation hits, we’re right back where we started.

The minimum wage doesn’t affect inflation! That is most certainly true. What affects inflation is the amount of money that is in circulation. This means that if money is destroyed, like when older bills are collected and taken off of the market for destruction, the value of our money raises, until new bills are printed, at which point, the value of our money decreases to accommodate the new bills.

What does that have to do with the minim wage? I am so glad you asked that! The minimum wage has always been a set number. At this point, the national minimum wage is $7,25 per hour. People want to raise that to $15 an hour, but I say again, what happens in a few years when the government prints more money, devaluing what we have? That $15 an hour will seem like the $7.25 we earn now. The resolution for this issue is to link the minimum wage to the total amount of money in circulation. Let’s try to put it into perspective. Let’s pretend that $15 is 0.000001% of the total amount of money in circulation (I haven’t done any research on the figures, so I just pulled that number out of thin air). Now, if the government were to say that the minimum wage is 0.000001% of the total amount of money in circulation per hour, rather than $15 per hour, if more money were printed, the minimum wage would go up to reflect the amount of inflation that has occurred. This would not only ensure that people continuously receive a living wage, it would also ensure that we have a continuous amount of vital funds flowing through our economy, rather than stagnated at the top.

The reason I don’t see a system like this being implemented is because it forces accountability onto those who have avoided accountability all of their lives. In fact, many of them pride themselves on it and make a living off of avoiding responsibility.

At some point it will have to become clear that the personal gain of a few is destroying everyone. A truly balanced system cannot sustain a single economic class, nor can it sustain one class with enormous economic and political power, while the other has next to none. Without balance, our system will collapse.

Uber Failure

So I thought I’d make some money in my spare time driving people around with Uber. It seems like a really good idea, right? Riiiight?

Well, the first ride I landed was really frustrating because the Uber app was difficult to figure out. The video they show made it seem easy, and, apparently, didn’t fully explain everything. You’re supposed to just click that you picked up your ride, then start ride, then you can navigate where they want to go. Well, after I picked up my ride, the start ride button never came up, and I kind of panicked, then used google to navigate where we needed to go. We got there, THEN the start ride button came up, so I had to retrace my steps to get paid. I was not happy, not happy at all.

That experience left me wary of using Uber for about a week, but today I decided that I give it a try on my way home from work. I was prepared for the start ride glitch from before, but that never even came into play. First off, the Uber-Google navigation integration completely failed. Fortunately, I knew basically where I was, so it wasn’t a big deal. The problem came in when I realized that I was being sent to a non-existent address. I got a text saying that my rider was waiting outside “the Race Trac,” the only problem with that, there was no Race Trac anywhere in the vicinity of the given non-existent address. After about ten minutes of trying to find this non-existent place, the customer canceled the ride, so I won’t even get paid for the time, effort, and gas I put in on the crank call.

Between the technical issues with the app itself, and the fact that I’m having to pay for being sent to a non-existent address (something that could and should be accounted for in their software), I feel that this was a very bad decision, especially since Uber sends me a multitude of texts from several different numbers every day…texts that I don’t want.

There is no way for me to cancel my “membership” or whatever it is on the app. The only way I can stop them from texting me is to block each individual number they use (which is a lot). I really feel like a made a mistake here, and I’m not sure how to fix it.