Tag Archives: politics

ANOTHER COVID-19 Surge Among Unvaccinated: A Product Of Math, Science, Politics, And No More Excuses

More vaccinated than unvaccinated Britons are now dying from the coronavirus

I do not want to keep talking about the COVID-19 pandemic. I really don’t.

I don’t want to keep urging people to get vaccinated. I’ve already provided tools. I proudly announced when I got my dose of the vaccine. I even went so far as to tell the anti-vaxx crowd that they’re actively killing people. I even cited a video to help debunk the most common anti-vaxx claims.

Now, I understand that I am not a very influential figure. My audience is very small, compared to other voices on the internet. I’m completely aware of my limitations with respect to getting my message out there. At the same time, I can’t keep hiding my frustrations.

This pandemic should be over. We have multiple vaccines. They’re free, they’re widely available, and they work. Most of the restrictions that we lived under for over a year have been lifted. We are in a better place now compared to last year and we have these vaccines to thank for that.

Unfortunately, it’s still a problem. The crisis is not over yet, but it’s not because we lack the tools to resolve it. It’s because people are refusing to do what’s necessary to save lives and end this madness.

I still like to have faith in humanity, as a whole. I really do believe that most people are good. However, the people currently prolonging this pandemic are really challenging that faith. These are people who, for reasons that range from politics to ignorance to completely insane conspiracy theories, refuse to take this vaccine.

As a result, there’s another surge of COVID-19 cases across the country, including my area. However, this surge is different. This surge isn’t as widespread and indiscriminate as previous surges. This time around, the surge in cases is among the unvaccinated. That’s not too surprising, but it’s also a perfect manifestation of the current political land social divide.

NPR: U.S. COVID Deaths Are Rising Again. Experts Call It A ‘Pandemic Of The Unvaccinated’

The death rate from COVID-19 in the U.S. is rising steadily for the first time in months as the nation grapples with a renewed burst of cases in what’s become “a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

The seven-day average of new cases has increased by nearly 70% to almost 30,000 per day; hospitalizations are up 36%. And deaths from the virus have risen steadily in recent days, reversing a months-long downward trend that began in mid-January.

“There is a clear message that is coming through: This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC’s director, said at a Friday briefing of the White House COVID-19 Response Team. “Our biggest concern is we are going to continue to see preventable cases, hospitalizations and sadly deaths among the unvaccinated.”

The upward trend in national statistics is being driven almost entirely by outbreaks in places with low vaccination rates, such as the Ozarks, Florida and parts of the Mountain West. Some counties, especially in Missouri and Arkansas, are recording more cases now than they did during the winter.

“Unvaccinated Americans account for virtually all recent COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths,” said Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator. “Each COVID-19 death is tragic, and those happening now are even more tragic because they are preventable.”

More than 99% of recent deaths were among the unvaccinated, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said earlier this month on NBC’s Meet the Press, while Walensky noted on Friday that unvaccinated people accounted for over 97% of hospitalizations.

That bolded text is my doing because it makes an important point that I haven’t been able to make until now. A reasonable can have reasonable concerns about a vaccine that was approved in record time. A reasonable person can even be forgiven for waiting until a certain amount of the population took it before getting it themselves.

I understand that.

I really do.

Nobody likes getting shots. They’re uncomfortable, stressful, and leave your arm feeling sore for days.

However, there comes a point where reluctance becomes absurdity and that absurdity is causing more suffering. It doesn’t help that these vaccines have also become politically charged. There is a clear, but distressing correlation between how you identify politically and whether or not you’re getting vaccinated.

If you’re liberal or left leaning, chances are you already got vaccinated and this surge isn’t affecting you.

If you’re conservative or right leaning, chances are you haven’t been vaccinated and you’ll eagerly cite less-than-reputable sources to justify those choices.

While I don’t want to get into the politics of those pushing anti-vaccine messages, I do want to point one thing out to those who take them seriously. Please note that this is not a personal attack. This is not me talking down to you as someone who has been vaccinated and who probably gets his news from very different sources. This is just me making a sincere, honest observation.

At this point, we’re beyond politics and science. You can have different politics. You can even have certain attitudes towards science. At the very least, though, you have to undestand that simple, basic math cannot have an agenda.

I’ll restate what the NPR article said. This latest spike in COVID-19 cases is affecting the unvaccinated at a rate of 99 percent in terms of deaths and 97 percent in terms of hospitalizations.

That is not a trivial difference in terms of margin.

When something is 99 percent, it’s as close to definitive as you can get without god-like aliens coming down to Earth and affirming the results. Think of it in terms like this.

If a pill had a 99 percent chance of curing cancer, would you take it?

If a fruit had a 99 percent chance of killing you, would you eat it?

If a car had a 99 percent chance of exploding every time you turned the key, would you drive it?

If a slot machine had a 99 percent chance of winning the jackpot, would you play it?

I could go on, but I honestly don’t know how much more I can belabor this point. These vaccines work. They prevent COVID-19 from infecting and spreading. If enough people get it, the pandemic will end. The suffering will stop. That’s all there is to it.

The science says they work.

The doctors, experts, and medical authorities throughout the world who dedicate their lives to this sort of thing says they work.

Now, even the math says they work.

At this point, if you’re still skeptical or hesitant, you’re not just being unreasonable. You’re not just being absurd. You’re just being an asshole. We all want this pandemic to end and you’re preventing that. As a result, more people will suffer and die. Face it. You’re out of excuses and the damage this surge does is on you.

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Filed under Current Events, health, human nature, political correctness, politics, psychology, real stories

What Recent X-Men Comics Can Teach Us About Present (And Future) Politics

house-of-x-variant-cover-xavier-1200x676

Trying to make sense of politics is like trying to understand quantum mechanics while stoned. The process of governing humanity has always been tricky. Ever since we exchanged our basic hunter/gatherer ways for a more formal system of order, the process has only become more difficult over time. You don’t have to look far to see the complexities and the overall absurdities of politics.

I’ve tried to talk about politics before, albeit with a limited focus on hot-button issues. I never claim to be an expert or an authority on the matter. I’m an aspiring erotica/romance writer. My understanding of politics is as limited as most people who don’t live, work, and breath these issues. Despite those limitations, I still want to make an effort to talk politics in a novel way.

As it just so happens, I’ve come up with just such a way and it involves X-Men comics. Considering how much I’ve written about X-Men and superhero comics in general, this should surprise no one.

More specifically, I want to take the events that have been unfolding in the X-Men comics for the past two years and use it to make sense of the current state politics. I also want to use it to speculate a bit on where these politics might lead us. Again, I am not even close to an expert, but I do believe that art and media have an uncanny way of shining a light on the real world and there are few narratives more uncanny than the X-Men.

The current state of politics, especially in the United States and Western Europe, has been dominated by polarization. More and more, citizens are becoming more tribal. On top of that, people are becoming more divided. That’s not just an anecdote, either. According to Pew Research, the public has become more ideologically split over the past 20 years and it’s only getting worse.

Rather than try to make sense of these decade-long trends, I want to apply it to the politics in the X-Men comics. More than any other superhero comic or franchise, politics are a major driving force for the X-Men, more so than killer robots. Co-creator, Stan Lee, stated that the inspiration for the X-Men was drawn from the ongoing Civil Rights movement that was in full swing in the early 1960s.

Over the years, this idea of mutants being an oppressed minority who were hated and feared for being different has been the driving force behind the X-Men’s story. It is also a big part of what helped them gain such a wide appeal. Some of the X-Men’s most iconic stories come from conflicts inspired by the hate and fear that ordinary humans feel towards mutants.

In the real world, hatred and fear are powerful forces that don’t need killer robots to cause upheaval. Hatred and fear is at the heart of debates surrounding migrants and immigrants. That same hatred and fear is at the heart of the political polarization.

Liberals hate and fear conservatives because they think they want to turn the world into one big plantation ruled by rich, wealthy slave-owners.

Conservatives hate and fear liberals because they think they want to abandon their heritage, punish people for the sins of their ancestors, and micromanage their lives.

In the world of X-Men, humans hate and fear mutants because they think they’re too dangerous, unpredictable, and uncontrollable. On top of that, if they truly are a new species, then that means their survival means humanity’s extinction.

The parallels aren’t perfect, but they are there. Mutants aren’t just a metaphor for any minority who has been oppressed, segregated, and denigrated. They represent just how divided two groups can be. Constant conflict ensures that hatred and fear will fester. However, it’s the events of House of X and Powers of X that the entire concept of X-Men has gained greater political relevance.

In case you haven’t been following superhero comics, the details of these events are many, but the theme is relatively simple. After years of fighting, running, surviving, and being marginalized because of movie rights, the entire mutant race has decided to reorganize themselves into a new society.

This isn’t some exclusive club or superhero team. With help from Charles Xavier and the powerful foresight provided by Moira MacTaggart, the mutants of the Marvel Universe have united within a new homeland, which happens to be a living island. They also have their own mysterious language that only they understand. They are essentially establishing themselves as a new political entity.

In the scope of the X-Men’s 50-plus year history, the idea isn’t new. There have been multiple efforts over the years to give mutants a homeland. One was called Genosha. One was called Utopia. Both enjoyed some measure of short-term success, but both ended up destroyed or abandoned. The reasons for this aren’t important. What sets them apart from Krakoa is the scale.

To understand it in a real-world context, think of Genosha and Utopia as enclaves within a community. They’re akin to neighborhoods in America or Europe that are predominantly populated by a particular ethnic group or religion. Many are quite successful in their own right. Others have become the sites of atrocities and tragedies.

What the mutants are doing with Krakoa in the comics is something bigger than an enclave. They’re not just seeking to be recognized as a full-fledged country, either. Charles Xavier, the X-Men, and every other mutant is building Krakoa to be a society that can function with or without humanity. It’s not land borrowed from humans. It’s land that’s theirs and theirs alone.

That’s not to say Krakoa operates in isolation, as Wakanda once did. They actually seek to maintain diplomatic relations with the world. They even have valuable resources with which to trade. They don’t have to make these kinds of deals, but under Charles Xavier, they do anyway. It culminates in “House of X #5,” in which Krakoa gains formal recognition by the UN.

This is where the politics of the X-Men comics add some necessary nuance to what we’re seeing in the real world. When people feel marginalized, they tend to feel unwelcome. Even if you are legally an American, a German, an Italian, or a Wakandan, being hated and feared by a large segment of the country makes you feel like you don’t belong.

Between divided polls and America’s colorful electoral map, it’s not hard for anyone to feel out of place. The added polarization provided by the internet, social media, and cable news only adds to the divisions and the animosity. As a result, people naturally retreat into groups and tribes where they feel welcome. Whether it’s a political group, a religious group, or an identity, they seek some form of sanctuary.

In doing so, these groups essentially create their own little world within their community. It’s a world that might as well be a separate reality from what others see. It’s how different people can see the same facts, but have wildly different interpretations. Their brains are still working and the facts are still facts. It’s how they apply them to their world that’s different.

Each group feels they don’t belong. They may even feel victimized. It doesn’t matter if the group happens to make up the vast majority of the population. They still feel like they’re the ones under attack, not unlike the X-Men when they constantly confront fearful, hate-filled humans. They act as though they need to carve their own place in the world and defend it at all costs.

This is where House of X and Powers of X can provide some possible insights into the future of politics. To some extent, Krakoa is a natural byproduct of mutants being hunted, attacked, and denigrated at every turn. They tried isolating themselves on islands. They tried living among humans, sometimes in their most populated cities. Now, they’re trying something bigger.

It’s not exactly peaceful and not everyone understands it, which seems antithetical to Charles Xavier’s dream. However, it’s pragmatic in a very political sense. They have a homeland that they can control. They have barriers for entering and exiting that homeland. Nobody who isn’t authorized can enter it. It’s basically the ultimate immigration control.

On top of that, it has valuable resources that the rest of the world wants. The mutants of Krakoa are willing to share them, but only if they respect their new homeland and treat it like a legitimate country with its own culture, laws, and norms. In a world where people constantly attack others for not respecting their culture or norms, it feels like the ultimate endgame of sorts.

Those who want their culture and way of life preserved will only have more incentive to become more organized. If they keep feeling hatred and fear, they may look for ways to simply function without those they feel don’t belong. People won’t just become more ideologically divided. They may end up more divided in a very literal sense.

It’s the ultimate manifestation of our natural tribal instincts. We seek to join, maintain, and protect our tribe from others, be they real or imagined. It doesn’t matter if there are objective facts that show our tribe is somehow wrong or misguided. We still feel inclined to protect it at all cost.

This era of X-Men comics has been exciting. Writer, Jonathan Hickman, has turned the X-Men from just another superhero team into a blossoming community with its own culture, identity, and borders. As an X-Men fan, I’ve been enjoying it a great deal. As someone in the real world who can’t always avoid politics, it leaves me worried about just how divided we’ll ultimately become.

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Filed under human nature, politics, superhero comics, X-men

A Brief Message On Love And Patriotism

How the American Flag Became a Threat | Time

I’m a proud American and I love my country. In that respect, I do consider myself a patriot.

I’m also a big romance fan who genuinely appreciates the power of love.

As a result, my understanding of love has an impact on my understanding of patriotism. You can look up the definition of patriotism and love to get a basic understanding of the concept. However, a basic understanding will only take you so far. It’s also shallow. It only scratches the surface of a much deeper feeling.

Now, in the spirit of the 4th of July, America’s most patriotic holiday, I thought I’d take a moment to share my understanding of what it means to be patriotic and to love your country. I feel like it’s an important message to send, given the events of the past year.

I won’t bemoan those events or the people, politics, and ideology behind it. Love and patriotism go beyond all that. This is me, a proud American, seeking to share my perspective with my other fellow Americans as we get ready to celebrate the country we so deeply love.

To love your country is like to love your family. You didn’t choose the time, place, or circumstances of your birth. You came into it vulnerable and unaware. You grow up in it with the support, guidance, and values of those around you. They seek to protect you and you seek to learn from them.

It’s not always ideal. Nothing ever is. That doesn’t stop you from loving your family, nor does it stop you from loving your country.

Later on in life, you seek a different kind of love with another. You look for that special someone who you can love with all your heart and who will love you back in return. It’s not an easy search. You’re bound to endure loss, heartache, and disappointment along the way, but you keep searching. You endure because that feeling and that connection is just that powerful.

When you find that love, you sense that power. It fills you with energy, passion, and resolve. You come to cherish it. You’re willing to fight to protect it at all costs. We admire that kind of drive in others. We cling to it, as it becomes part of our identity.

This kind of love is very similar to patriotism. Our love for our country is very much an extension of our love for our family. The same energy that drives us to love, cherish, and protect our loved ones drives us to do the same for our country. Many Americans share that feeling. However, like with the love we have for families and spouses, it can blind us.

There’s a fine line between love and obsession.

By that same token, there’s a fine line between patriotism and blind loyalty.

One is healthy and productive while the other is toxic and damaging. A big part of loving someone is not ignoring their flaws. When they’re wrong, you point it out. When they’re doing something destructive, you try to stop them. When they’re wounded, lost, or angry, you try to help them. That’s what you do for someone you love. That’s also what you do for your country.

The United States of America is a wonderful place, but it’s not perfect. The history of this country has has many dark moments. Both the government and large swaths of its citizens have been wrong, unjust, and misguided on a great many subjects since its founding. Ignoring that isn’t an act of love or patriotism. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

You don’t let someone you love keep doing what you know is wrong.

You don’t let someone you love descend into toxic, self-destructive cycles.

You don’t let someone you love forget their mistakes, thereby never learning from them.

The same applies to your country. To love it is to love its flaws, too. To love it is to want to see it get better. Like with those we love, we want them to become the best version of themselves they can be. Again, it’s challenging and even daunting at times. However, we endure because that’s what we do for someone we love.

As a patriot, you want your country to be the best it can be. That’s exactly what I want for America. That’s what I seek to celebrate every Fourth of July holiday.

I understand that not everyone has the same vision for this country as I do. Some actively pursue a vision for this country that’s utterly antithetical to the ideals it was founded upon all those years ago. Those are not patriots because they aren’t guided by love. They’re guided by selfish agendas.

In both love and patriotism, you can’t be selfish. You can’t be guided by hate or malice. You have to be willing to do what’s right and difficult over what’s selfish and expedient. You and those you love will make mistakes. Everybody does. We’re all flawed, imperfect human beings. Every country, including America, is made up of those same beings.

That’s why we keep striving to be better. Like any good loving relationship, you encourage those you love to be better with you. You work together, but not by always agreeing on everything or avoiding conflict. True love is a willingness to take the bad with the good and confront both.

This is a perspective that has always been crucial for patriotic Americans, but never more so than recently. After over 200 years, we’ve had plenty of time to grow and mature. We’re not a young country anymore. We’re one of the most powerful nations on the planet. With that power comes responsibility and we must never forget that.

Keep that in mind as you celebrate your love for your country, as I will be doing in a few days. Each year brings a new challenge for us all. Let’s be willing to face it, but let us do so while remembering what it truly means to love our country as true patriots.

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Filed under Current Events, political correctness, politics, rants

Dear Rich People: Pay Your Damn Taxes

The richest people in the world: billionaires across the globe - CBS News

I’m a proud American. I love my country and I celebrate its ideals while not ignoring its shortcomings. That’s what you do for a country you love.

I also hate taxes as much as the next American. It’s one of the few things that we can agree on these days. Taxes suck. It costs us money, the process is a real a hassle, and it’s not always spent on something you approve of. I understand that. I empathize with it, even. It’s like a prostate exam or a colonoscopy. It’s uncomfortable, but when done properly, it spares you plenty of pain and illness later on.

As much as I hate taxes, I’m not among those hardcore libertarian types who call taxation outright thievery. I’ve learned over the course of my adult life that taxes are just part of life. It’s what we collectively pay to operate a functional civil society. It may not be efficient or ideal, but it’s better than the alternative.

That’s why I make it a point to pay my taxes early and in full every year. I’m not rich. I also don’t have a complex array of assets and what not. However, my finances do require that I put a little extra effort every year to make sure I pay what I need. Thanks to the internet and free tax software, it usually takes up half an afternoon at most.

I’m not particularly smart when it comes to taxes and finances. I just know how to keep track of my budget, monitor my money, and spend within my means. That doesn’t take any special education or talent. It’s just common sense and basic math.

This brings me to the purpose behind this post. Very recently, a report came out from ProPublica. It basically confirms through a trove if IRS files what most of us already knew. The richest individuals in this country, and the world for that matter, have been avoiding taxes for decades. Read the report for yourself. If it doesn’t make you upset as a taxpayer, then check your pulse.

ProPublica: The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax

ProPublica has obtained a vast trove of Internal Revenue Service data on the tax returns of thousands of the nation’s wealthiest people, covering more than 15 years. The data provides an unprecedented look inside the financial lives of America’s titans, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg. It shows not just their income and taxes, but also their investments, stock trades, gambling winnings and even the results of audits.

Taken together, it demolishes the cornerstone myth of the American tax system: that everyone pays their fair share and the richest Americans pay the most. The IRS records show that the wealthiest can — perfectly legally — pay income taxes that are only a tiny fraction of the hundreds of millions, if not billions, their fortunes grow each year.

Now, I understand that I’m not rich. Most of us will never know what it’s like to live in the world of a billionaire. Their day-to-day life, as well as their perspective of the world, is just so completely different from most people that it might as well be alien. We can barely grasp the idea of having a million dollars, let alone billions.

However, I can still do basic math.

At the moment, the highest federal income bracket for a single person in the United States is 37 percent. Compared to the rest of the world, that’s pretty reasonable. If you made $10 million in one year, your federal tax liability would be approximately $3.7 million. Add in state and local taxes and it’s about $4.4 million.

Yes, that’s a considerable amount of money.

However, $5.6 million is also a considerable amount of money.

That’s enough money to buy a good sized home or several. That’s enough to buy a fleet of overpriced cars, crash them, and then laugh about it the next morning. If your lifestyle is such that you can’t live comfortably for a year on that, then something’s amiss here.

Again, I understand the world of the super rich is different. They have legitimate concerns that us non-rich people don’t. It’s not unusual for a rich person to spend a considerable amount on home and personal security. Then again, such elaborate security would be less necessary in a functioning civil society with quality public services, solid institutions, and well-funded infrastructure.

That’s not a utopian vision. Other countries are able to achieve this while still maintaining a commitment to free enterprise, individual liberty, and entrepreneurial endeavors. Doing so requires taxes. Moreover, it’s necessary that citizens actually pay those taxes.

This brings me back to the rich people who put so much effort into paying as little as possible every year for taxes. I know they’ll never read this. They’re too busy counting their money and/or deciding what to spend it on next. After reading this piece, I have just one simple request for you on behalf of all Americans, as well as anyone with a shred of decency.

Please pay your goddamn taxes.

It’s good for society.

It’s good for the economy.

It’s good for the public institutions that we all rely on to have a functioning, civil society.

It’s even good business for you, overall.

Just think about it. If rich people paid their taxes, then we could improve infrastructure, pay for quality education for more people, and just put more money in the pockets of people who need it. That is not a radical idea. It’s not socialism, communism, or some other anti-American ideology. In fact, preventing a system that has a class of aristocrats with immense power over the masses is as American as it gets.

On top of that, there’s a good chance that the poor and middle class people who get that money are going to spend it on something. They may even spend it on one of the businesses that rich people own and operate.

In a sense, you’ll get that money back eventually. You’ll just help improve the lives of ordinary people, who also happen to be your customers. It’s win/win at every level. There is literally no downside, other than the fact that obscenely rich people will not be nearly as obscenely rich.

Honestly, though, what’s the difference between having $15 billion and $1 billion? That’s still more money than most people could ever spend in a lifetime. When you die, you can’t take it with you and those who inherit it will not value it as much, since they did not earn it.

In essence, paying your taxes is probably the best thing you could do with that money in the grand scheme of things. Even once you pay your share, you’ll still have plenty for cars, yachts, and gold toilets. I love capitalism too, but greed and hoarding will destroy it in the long run. Taxes are the price we pay to keep that system as fair and honest as possible in an imperfect world.

Do your part.

Pay your taxes.

If we can do it, then obscenely rich people with immense resources have no excuses.

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Filed under Current Events, politics

Jack’s World: Appreciating George Orwell’s 1984 And Its Dire (But Crucial) Message

We all have that one book that has a lasting impact on us. Sometimes, we seek it out. Sometimes, it comes to us unexpectedly. Even if you’re not a voracious reader, it still affects you in a profound way. Whether it’s the story, the characters, or the underlying message, it resonates with you and you still feel it years later.

That’s how I feel about Gorge Orwell’s famous novel, 1984. To date, it’s one of my favorite novels and that’s counting all the comic books I’ve read. It’s considered a modern classic and for good reason. This book, its author, and its message came along at a dangerous time for civilization. While times have changed and 1984 has passed us by on the calendar, the message of this book is still as important as ever.

To celebrate that message, I made a video about it on my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. If you need a book to add to your summer reading list, I hope this video convinces you to put 1984 at the top. It had a profound effect on me. It changed the way I thought about politics, authority, and freedom. I hope it can do the same for others.

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Filed under Jack's World, philosophy, politics, YouTube

Was Socrates Right About Democracy?

Socrates - HISTORY

I am a proud American. I love my country, the ideals it espouses, and the vision it offers for freedom loving people. I consider myself lucky to have been born in the United States. I understand that being an American comes with many benefits that millions of others cannot enjoy. For that, I am eternally grateful.

However, I do not deny that this country I love has flaws. I am a patriot, but I do not overlook or underscore some of the objectively terrible things the United States has done in its brief history. We shouldn’t ignore those flaws. Loving your country doesn’t mean always believing it’s right, good, and just. I know that’s not a popular sentiment among certain Americans, but that’s exactly why I value it.

That same misguided sentiment also has a significant impact on democracy, one of America’s highest ideals. Regardless of your political leanings, that’s the one tradition that America holds more dear. We embrace democracy and empower the people to pick their leaders. Considering how leaders have traditionally come to power throughout history, it’s an admirable institution.

At the same time, it’s not without its flaws. Democracy, in principle, is great. It empowers the people. It allows the people to set the standards by which a ruler is put into power. Given how often power has been abused by rulers, that’s critical for a stable, functional society.

Despite that strength, it’s still worth asking an important question.

What are the greatest flaws of democracy?

I know just asking that will put me at odds with many of my fellow Americans. Thankfully, I’m not the first one to ask that question. In fact, this is a question that has been contemplated since before America was ever a country.

Democracy itself is not an exclusively American invention. Most educated people know that it existed in various forms throughout history, most notably in Ancient Athens. However, even back then, there were some who had major criticisms of democracy, both in principle and in practice. One of the most vocal critics was the Father of Philosophy himself, Socrates.

Now, I’m not a philosophy buff. I couldn’t begin to properly break down all the concepts, principles, and contributions that Socrates made to philosophy and Western Civilization in general. So, I won’t bother trying. Instead, I’ll just focus on what he said about democracy and why he viewed it so unfavorably.

To that end, this video form the YouTube channel, The School of Life, does a nice rundown of Socrates’ biggest criticisms of democracy. Watch it and follow his ideas. You may or may not agree with them, but they’re still worth contemplating.

Again, this is just a brief summary. The nuts and bolts of Socrates’ ideas and principles are far greater in terms of breadth and concept. With respect to democracy, though, his criticisms are fairly concise.

Democracy, namely the kind in which too many uneducated people have a vote, tends to lead towards demagoguery. Instead of diligent, qualified, well-meaning leaders, people will simply elect those who are capable of winning people over with promises and rhetoric. It doesn’t matter if they’re aristocrats or con-men. They just need to sway 51 percent of the population into giving them the power they seek.

I hope I don’t need to cite an example of this happening in the real world. I also hope I don’t need to name names of those who have carried themselves like demagogues in the American political landscape. In fact, there has been a distressing trend of American’s actively seeking to put their favorite demagogues for positions of power.

These are not skilled ship captains or trained doctors, like what Socrates described in his video. These are people who are just capable of persuading a large mass of people that they should wield power. They didn’t train to wield power like a doctor trains to treat illness. They just say they’re capable and it’s up to the people to believe them.

It’s not an unreasonable criticism. Does that mean I agree with it completely? No, I do not.

Does that mean I think there’s real merit to these criticism? Yes, I absolutely do and I think there are ways to address them.

Socrates’ issue wasn’t just with democracy in principle. He was more concerned about uneducated people who don’t appreciate or care for wisdom making critical decisions, such as who should lead a country. Another great philosopher, George Carlin, put it even better.

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”

I think this sentiment is more relevant now, especially after last year’s Presidential Election and the horrors of the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol. Me and my fellow Americans have never been more divided. As a proud American, this worries me a great deal.

I still love my country. I want it to be better. I want it to live up to its greatest ideals. However, I don’t think it can do so without taking the criticisms of someone like Socrates seriously.

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Why Don’t Anti-Abortion Advocates Talk About Vasectomies?

I don’t enjoy talking about hot-button issues like abortion.

I try to avoid talking about politics in general.

I know I’ve touched on controversial issues in the past, including abortion, but I’ve tried to get away from those topics this past year. A lot of that had to do with the 2020 Presidential election, which just brought out the worst in so many people.

Believe me, I had opinions on a number of issues, but I didn’t think sharing them would be very productive. Even with the benefit of hindsight, I think that was the right choice.

Now, the election is over. I know some people still haven’t accepted that, but the votes are in. Like it or not, we’re moving forward and a number of issues are not going away. Some are bound to get worse. One issue, I believe, that is almost certain to get more touchy is abortion.

It is the hottest of hot button issues and a while back, I even speculated that shake-ups on the United States Supreme Court could shift the legal landscape surrounding abortion. I think, given the current makeup of the court, that’s even more likely.

I’d even go so far to say there’s a good chance that Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that legalized abortion in the United States, will get overturned in the next two years. It’s not a guarantee, but it’s much more possible now than it was at this time last year. When that happens, the whole abortion debate will shift significantly.

However, the implications of that act is not what I want to talk about. Instead, I want to highlight one particular aspect of the abortion debate that never seems to get raised. I think there’s a not-so-subtle reason for that, but that’s exactly why I want to highlight it. It comes down to a simple question.

Why don’t anti-abortion advocates talk about vasectomies?

It’s not an irrelevant question. I would even argue it’s a question you can’t avoid if you’re primary goal is to reduce the number of abortions by any means necessary. I understand why making it illegal is the primary goal for the anti-abortion/pro-life crowd, but that cannot be the end of the debate.

Again, we have real-world examples of what happens when abortion is banned. They’re not pretty.

I’m still willing to set that aside for the sake of this question. I’ll even work under the assumption that those who identify as pro-life/anti-abortion are sincere when they say that abortion is the taking of a human life. I have reasons to question that assumption, but I’ll go with it anyways.

If you’re really serious about reducing abortion or just flat out ending it altogether, why not discuss vasectomies? By their nature, they eliminate the need for abortion.

A man with a vasectomy is exceedingly unlikely to impregnate a woman. It doesn’t matter how reckless and irresponsible they are with their sex life. The way vasectomies work ensure no sperm will ever come close to an egg. Even if you believe life begins at conception, this is critical. It means no abortion happens and no life is harmed.

Now, why am I singling out vasectomies instead of tubal ligation, which is the female equivalent? There is a reason for that and I promise it has nothing to do with sexism. It has more to do with logistics.

Simply put, a vasectomy is less costly and less invasive. On average, a vasectomy costs around $1,000 without insurance. By contrast, tubal ligation can cost up to $6,000 without insurance and has a slightly higher failure rate. The recovery period for a vasectomy is also shorter.

It’s simply cheaper and more effective. In addition, there’s also the matter of women being the one who bear the brunt of child-rearing for nine months at a time. Compared to that nine months of rigor, I think it’s also just more fair that men endure a few days of discomfort. That’s just my opinion, though.

Those opinions aside, I bring this back to the question at hand. Why aren’t anti-abortion activists talking about this? If they wanted to reduce abortions, shouldn’t they push for more men to get vasectomies? Should the male anti-abortion activists lead by example and get them as well?

That’s not to say this advocates full-blown sterilization. Both vasectomies and tubal ligation are reversible. Granted, it means undergoing another invasive procedure, but that will essentially guarantee that they’re serious about having children. They want a child and that matters a lot in the abortion debate.

In some cases, a reversal isn’t even necessary. Men can just freeze their sperm and preserve it so that it can later be used with in vitro fertilization. That’s an established procedure. There’s also another emerging procedure for creating sperm cells in a lab.

In the not-too-distant future, men won’t even need to freeze their sperm. They can just provide a cell sample, let a lab make sperm from that, and proceed to utilize standard in vitro to conceive children. Thanks to genetic screening technology like CRISPR, it might even produce healthier children overall.

All this would reduce, if not eliminate, the need for an abortion. This isn’t new technology. Vasectomies have been around a long time and, if anti-abortion activists were to push it, they could also support the development of technology like Vasalgel, which is basically a less invasive method that achieves the same result.

So, with all that being said, why don’t anti-abortion activists ever mention vasectomies? Why do they focus so much on the woman getting the abortion rather than the man who made it necessary?

There are many reasons for that, some more obvious than others. Many are mostly unspoken and indirect. There are those who simply oppose abortion because it removes consequences from promiscuous sex. If abortion had nothing to do with promiscuity, I doubt they would be as vocal.

There are also those who see abortion as a means of hindering the kind of population growth that they prefer. I’ve noted before how certain religious sects indirectly benefit by discouraging abortion. People with large, unplanned families are more likely to be in poverty and people in poverty are more likely to be uneducated. A less educated population tends to benefit certain people and anti-abortion is just an indirect way of pursuing those benefits.

In both cases, the issue isn’t entirely about abortion. It’s about the effects it leads to.

It’s understandable why that component of the anti-abortion stance don’t mention vasectomies. It’s for that reason I feel the question should be asked to those who don’t fall under that domain.

If abortion truly is a matter of life and death, as many anti-abortion activists sincerely believe, then shouldn’t any measure be on the table? A vasectomy, in this context, could both save life and ensure that no life is unnecessarily lost. Why not be more vocal about it?

For men concerned about fathering unwanted children, it wouldn’t be too hard a sell. If anti-abortion organizations even offered to pay for men in poverty to get vasectomies who wanted them, then wouldn’t that reduce abortion?

I don’t ask these questions to be facetious. With the abortion issue sure to face upheavals in the next few years, I think these sorts of questions are worth confronting. The longer the go unaddressed, the worse the abortion debate will get, along with the myriad of effects that surround it.

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Filed under abortion, men's issues, political correctness, politics, sex in society, sexuality, women's issues

Why Non-Religious Cults Are Becoming (Almost) As Dangerous

Most religious people are not dangerous or ignorant, nor are most of the priests, rabbis, mullahs, and monks who lead them. I want to make that clear early on. I know I’ve been very critical of religion in the past and I stand by much of those criticism. However, I do not want to give the impression that it makes sincere adherents unworthy of respect.

I have religious people in my family. They are good, decent people and their religious beliefs means a lot to them. I do not want to denigrate that in any way.

That said, extreme religious cults are dangerous. They are worthy of criticism and, in some cases, outright scorn. People have died because of these cults, including innocent children. If we’re going to be a better people now and in the future, we need to be vigilant of these dangerous cults. Otherwise, more people will suffer.

How we go about that is beyond my expertise. There are organizations with people far more qualified to pursue that effort, such as Cult Escape and Dare To Doubt. I urge others to support those efforts, regardless of your religious affiliation. There are a lot of people out there trapped in these cults who need help.

However, there has been another troubling trend in recent years that may complicate that effort. It involves cults that aren’t necessarily religious, in nature. Some have religious elements, but also mix in politics and conspiracy theories. The goals and methods aren’t always the same, but the outcome is similar.

People get sucked into an ideology.

They get caught up in a trend that evokes strong emotions within them.

They connect with like-minded people who reinforce and reaffirm their beliefs.

They start attacking or shunning outsiders or anyone they don’t agree with.

They stop doubting their beliefs and are openly scorned if they dare raise questions, making it next to impossible to leave.

It’s a common story that many endure, but now it’s happening without the religious angle. Now, people are falling into cults that offer little in terms of theology, but still descend into a toxic mix of groupthink, hero worship, and self-delusion.

You have organizations like Nxivm, which billed itself as a self-help program that sucked people in and reshaped their thinking at the hands of a sociopath leader.

You have charismatic public personalities like Jordan Peterson and Tony Robbins, who may not set out to create cult-like movements, but still create a community wrought with cult-like behaviors.

Then, there’s Q-Anon.

Believe me, I do not want to go into details about that. I’m afraid to even post any links. I do not want someone to get sucked into that ultra-toxic rabbit hole, which has led to real-world violence and torn families apart.

These are serious issues that affect real people, as well as their families. Thanks to the world-wide reach of the internet and clunky nature of social media, it’s a lot easier to fall in with the wrong digital crowd. You don’t have to be religious. You just have to be willing to buy into a certain ideology or narrative. No miracles are necessary.

That is dangerous and I suspect it’s going to get worse in the coming years, especially as mainstream religion continues to decline. Will it be as dangerous as the religious cults of old? Well, that depends on a number of factors. At the moment, even the worst non-religious cults have major shortcomings.

Religious cults can, by definition, hide behind the guise of religion. That comes with plenty of benefits, including the kind that allows them to avoid paying taxes. Religion also has legal protections, as evidenced by the constant push for “religious freedom.”

Non-religious cults don’t have the same advantages. In fact, it’s not unreasonable to say that these types of cults couldn’t even exist without the internet or the widespread connectivity of modern media. They also don’t have the overall structure that many religious organizations have. That means they’ll only be able to do so much.

On top of that, the nature of the internet makes it a lot harder for cults to keep their members in line. At any point, an adherent could get curious and start looking up opposing views that could cast doubt on their beliefs. There’s only so much a cult can do to control a person from behind a computer screen.

Even with those limitations, they’ve still done plenty of damage. They’re likely to do plenty more and we should be very concerned about that. The world is already a chaotic place. Extreme religious cults have already done plenty to add to that chaos. The last thing we need is for non-religious cults to do the same.

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Filed under Current Events, human nature, outrage culture, philosophy, political correctness, politics, religion

Profiles Of The American Worker: Bob Belcher And Hank Hill

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s a take on the American worker and all their American glory. I highlight the concepts and ideals surrounding these workers by citing two well-known animated representations in Hank Hill from “King of the Hill” and Bob Belcher from “Bob’s Burgers.” If you’re fans of these shows and appreciate the struggles of the American worker, I think you’ll appreciate this. Enjoy!

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Filed under Jack's World, noble masculinity, political correctness, politics, YouTube

Marijuana Legalization Is Progressing (And Why Prostitution May Be Next)

It’s amazing how certain social issues progress rapidly. Hell, it wasn’t that long ago that the vast majority of Americans opposed the legalization of same-sex marriage. Back when I was in college, supporting the full legalization of same-sex marriage was considered an extreme position. Today, it has so much support that even those who identify as conservative support it.

Not every issue changes so rapidly in such a short period of time. I honestly thought same-sex marriage wouldn’t be legal for decades when I graduated college. I thought it would take even longer for marijuana to be legalized. It turns out I was even more wrong about that.

As quickly as same-sex marriage gained acceptance, marijuana legalization has progressed even faster. It actually caught a lot of people by surprise. In 2012, two states legalized it through a ballot initiative. I don’t think even the most ardent weed legalization proponent expected it to progress as quickly as it did after that.

Once the precedent was set, other states followed suit. As of this writing, there are 14 states that have some form of legalized marijuana and several more states are well on their way to follow suit. I may not live in one of those states, but I’m a 20 minute drive away from one of them.

In those states that have legalized it, society didn’t collapse. A new multi-billion-dollar industry emerged. The stage is set. It’s basically a matter of time and bureaucracy. The negative effects of drug prohibition are becoming more and more apparent. It’s not at all unlikely that marijuana will be legalized nationwide in America by the end of the decade.

This trend, which I feel is objectively positive for society, is likely to spill over into other issues. That tends to happen a lot as social attitudes and norms evolve. What was considered taboo or undeniably negative for one generation is considered an issue of justice and progress to the next. We saw it with same-sex marriage in the early 2000s. Then, we saw it with weed in the 2010s.

Now, I suspect that the next issue to undergo that process might be prostitution, or sex work as it is more commonly known these days.

I make this claim with no expertise or insight. I’ve written about prostitution before, both in terms of its legality and its taboos. In terms of progress or change of any kind on this issue, there hasn’t been much since Nevada legalized prostitution decades ago. Unlike weed and same-sex marriage, prostitution has some unique challenges.

The biggest of those challenges, by far, is how policy changes affect human trafficking, an objectively horrible crime that nobody wants to help or facilitate. Whether fair or not, prostitution gets linked to human trafficking. Anytime there are proposed changes to prostitution laws, be they legalization or greater criminalization, human trafficking is often cited.

These are tough hurdles to overcome for anyone hoping to put sex work on the same level as other social issues. However, there are signs that the cultural tide regarding sex work is changing.

Back in 2016, Amnesty International made headlines by publicly endorsing the widespread decriminalization of prostitution. In their official policy, this was their position and their justification.

It recommends the decriminalization of consensual sex work, including those laws that prohibit associated activities—such as bans on buying, solicitation and general organization of sex work. This is based on evidence that these laws often make sex workers less safe and provide impunity for abusers with sex workers often too scared of being penalized to report crime to the police. Laws on sex work should focus on protecting people from exploitation and abuse, rather than trying to ban all sex work and penalize sex workers. 

The policy reinforces Amnesty International’s position that forced labour, child sexual exploitation and human trafficking are abhorrent human rights abuses requiring concerted action and which, under international law, must be criminalized in every country.

When it first came out, this caused some uproar, especially among those who favored the Nordic Models of combating prostitution, which only criminalized the buyers of sex. That uproar hasn’t fully abated. There is still a great deal of disagreement on how best to reform prostitution laws to improve the situation for sex workers and combat human trafficking.

Then, the pandemic hit and like so many other things, we all had to rethink everything.

To say that the pandemic has impacted the lives of sex workers everywhere would be a gross understatement. Legal or not, this is an activity that cannot accommodate basic practices of social distancing. That’s especially true for sex workers who are minorities or otherwise disadvantaged. Amnesty International even cited racial justice as a reason for their position.

At a time when injustices of so many kinds are becoming more prominent, the time might be right for prostitution and sex work to enter the conversation. Some jurisdictions are actually proposing new, more liberal policies on sex work. The rights of sex workers are quickly becoming more entwined with human rights, in general.

That’s a path that closely mirrors what happened with same-sex marriage. It’s also a path that the pandemic has reshaped considerably. Like every other industry, the sex industry has had to adapt. Even once the pandemic is over, it’s very unlikely things will go back to the way they once were.

The need for change is apparent now. That nature and extent of that change is still unclear. However, as the fight over weed legalization settles and same-sex marriage becomes mainstream, I believe it’s very likely we’ll see prostitution and sex work become a more pressing issue in the coming years. If for no other reason, it’ll have to be addressed. If it’s ignored, then expect progress on sex robots to accelerate even more rapidly.

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Filed under politics, prostitution, sex in society, sexuality