Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 and Other Trivia

Lists, lists, lists. I wonder why we all consume ourselves making these lists? I guess it’s part of that enduring human trait—being nuts, or doing the same thing over and over, while expecting a different outcome.

So, what would I like to see emerging during 2010?

1. Perhaps the most important is to see humankind in America give up our fascination with “cheap.” We have adopted in this country a near reverence for cheap, to the point that low price is our sole criterion in selecting goods and services. That is, of course, why everything we buy today in America, is crap made in China. It is also why Quality has disappeared as a criterion of choice. Our food products are cheap, our manufactured goods are cheap, in fact most things we buy today are cheap. But, we all complain that we live in a throw-away culture--nothing works for very long. We also tolerate goods coming from China that could kill us, because they are, literally toxic. Part of this preoccupation I blame on predatory organizations like Wal-Mart, but, while they contribute heavily, we are the ones to blame. So, maybe someday, I would like to awaken and hear that Americans are again seemingly interested in quality.

2. A linked element is that I would like to see us decry the notion that “bigger is better.” It isn’t, and we have proven that conclusively during the previous decade. Perhaps our financial geniuses who brought down our financial house of cards are the ones who really brought home the lesson. We need more of everything , rather then fewer, but larger entities. Instead of a handful of food growers producing everything we eat (see “Food, Inc”) we need perhaps millions of growers. Instead of one variety of seed, say corn, or soy beans, we needs dozens, hundreds even. Instead of four or five huge banks, we need thousands, operating in every county in America. Instead of a handful of cable TV providers, we need hundreds. We need controls over who can buy which companies—in fact, we need to once again pay attention to and regulate monopolies. Monopolies are by definition, bad for us. We need to break up these huge entities like Bank of America, et al.

3. We need to move religion back into the churches of the world. Religion has crept into every nook and cranny in our world, and it is now the standard excuse for doing stupid things, including most especially, blowing up people and things. The world needs a rest from religion.

4. We need to rethink our public education system. It is a vital element in our culture, and one that is currently failing our children. Any education system that tolerates a 40-50% drop out rate before completing even the basics, is dysfunctional. Plan B for the kids who drop out is a fast track to prison. And kids need to understand that. But we don’t need to replace it with charter schools, or religious schools, or more private schools. We need to invest greater public money and some actual intelligent thought into fixing it. We need to shred Shrub’s No Child Left Behind. He is an idiot and imposed this truly stupid legislative act that does not, cannot, work to fix what is wrong.

5. We need to reassert values beyond making money. Our kids need to see us practicing what we say we believe. We need more love, charity, tolerance, and hope, especially hope. We need to stop waging wars against peoples just to secure our "rights" to their oil, or diamonds, or natural gas, or other resources.

6. We need to stop thinking we know more than everyone else in the world, so that we need to impose our values and our culture on them. Let the world’s peoples keep their own cultures. Think of those cultures as, simply, different.

7. Ok, I’ll stop now, and go back to my dreaming. Time enough to awaken later to harsh reality. I’ll just snooze some more, so I can dream some more about a righteous world.
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