This is another video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is a thought experiment about capitalism. Specifically, it challenges us to contemplate alternatives that we could actually implement in the real world. Given the current trends in politics, which either glorify or villainize capitalism, I think this sort of idea is increasingly relevant. And it’s something we should contemplate seriously as technology, society, and the world continues to change. Enjoy!
Tag Archives: republicans
I Paid Off My Entire Student Debt Years Ago, But I Gladly Support Student Debt Forgiveness
When I was in grade school, I got beaten up by a bully. It was painful, humiliating, and left lasting scars that I would not want anyone to experience.
When I was still in college, I tried to put together my first website that I hoped would help me make a few extra bucks on the side. I even paid for this service that was supposed to help get my site listed on major search engines at the time. That turned out to be a scam and I lost $150 at a time when I couldn’t afford to loes that kind of money. I don’t want anyone to experience that, either.
We all have experiences in our lives that we don’t wish for others to experience. It’s a big reason why parents strive to create better lives for their children, especially if they themselves had a difficult upbringing. I’ve known people who had horribly abusive parents, but they made it a point to ensure their children got the love and kindness that she never got.
This is an objectively good and moral thing. It’s something most are inclined to celebrate and support. So, with all that in mind, why should forgiving student loan debt be any different?
It had been talked about and entertained a great deal during the 2020 Presidential Election. Some candidates even made it a central part of their platform. But earlier this week, it became official. President Biden announced that a sizable chunk of student loan debt for millions of Americans would be forgiven.
USA Today: ‘Debt and no degree’: Biden cancels as much as $20K in student loan debt: Recap
Now, I understand there are a lot of political machinations behind moves like this, none of which I’m smart enough to make sense of, let alone articulate. I also understand there are some real, logistical reasons as to why forgiving student loan debt is difficult and will likely incur a greater cost in the near and far future. I’m sure I’ll notice that cost personally at some point.
All that being said, I still strongly support this. I would even support more student loan debt forgiveness, especially for those who were hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn it triggered. And I say that as someone who paid off every penny of his debt back in 2011.
I know that makes me a bit of an anomaly, especially when compared to my peers in my graduating class. I knew some people who had taken out as much as $100,000 in loans in order to go to college. It wasn’t because they were reckless or stupid. They just came from families who could not afford to save money for college without starving. They also didn’t qualify for grants or scholarships.
And for the record, many of these peers were not majoring in “useless degrees.” I didn’t know a single person majoring in gender studies, philosophy, or underwater basket weaving. Most majored in things like engineering, medicine, and computer science. They were smart people who had the skills to get quality jobs as soon as they graduated. But not all of them were able to find jobs and even those that did still had what amounted to a mortgage payment cutting into their salary every month.
This is not a tenable system.
It’s also not how other industrialized countries do higher education.
In general, sending young people to college is an investment in people. We, the tax paying public, understand that there’s social and economic value in educating people at a high level. It’s a critical component for a functioning, prosperous society. And we don’t do that society any favors by shackling them with a massive amount of debt that they can’t get rid of, even in bankruptcy.
Looking back on it, I probably could’ve moved forward in my life much faster if I didn’t graduate with the debt I had. Granted, my debt was considerably smaller than most, but it still ensured I had to live at home a number of years and couldn’t afford any major investments, be it retirement or a car. I can only imagine how much further it held back peers with far bigger debts.
On top of that, the cost of college has gotten considerably more expensive since I graduated. I even went back and checked the tuition from my old school. Even with in-state benefits, I would’ve paid more than twice the amount I paid for the same degree. And the job market after I graduated would be nowhere near what it was years ago.
Despite these circumstances, as well as the undeniable burdens that come with being shackled with so much debt, I still here a common complaint from those who oppose student loan debt forgiveness. It has similar themes, but it usually boils down to comments like this.
“You took out a big loan? Too bad! Get a job and pay it back, you lazy moochers!”
“I paid back all my debt years ago. Why should you get to avoid paying yours?”
“It’s not fair! I didn’t even get to go to college because I was too poor. Why should I pay for your degree?”
Now, first off, if you’ve ever said something like this out loud to another human being who is currently struggling to keep up with loan payments in a terrible job market still recovering from a pandemic, I have one thing to say to you.
Seriously, fuck all the way off.
Second, if your opposition boils down to all these young people getting an advantage you never got when you were that age, know that that’s a total bullshit reason. Even if you paid all your debts off by hard work and sacrifice, who are you to force millions of young people to do the same? Their situation is different. Times have changed a great deal since you were in college. They’ve changed a great deal in the past five years alone.
These aren’t all the self-entitled brats you hear Bill Maher and Tucker Carlson whining about every week. Those people do exist, but they’re an extreme minority who just happen to whine the loudest. Most of the millions of students who will benefit from this program are genuine, hard-working young people trying to build better lives. They just can’t do that when they’re shackled with this kind of debt.
To ignore their plight because you think it’s unfair to those who paid off their debts isn’t just a dick move. It makes no sense. Think back to those incidents I mentioned earlier about enduring a hardship that I wouldn’t wish on others. Dealing with student loans is a serious hardship. And even if you got out of it, why condemn others to suffer?
That’s akin to opposing polio vaccines, antibiotics, and lead free paint because you had to deal with the world before all these terrible things. So you want others to deal with it too. That’s not fair. That’s not just. That’s just you being a cruel, sadistic prick to millions of your fellow Americans.
Again, fuck you.
I don’t care that I paid off all my loans already. I don’t care that many young people will get to skip the hardships I endured when I was younger. If anything, I will gladly cheer on those who benefit from this act. You have an opportunity I never enjoyed. I sincerely hope to make the most of it.
Filed under Current Events, political correctness, politics
Thoughts, Feelings, And (Dire) Predictions For The Future Of Abortion (And Many Other Rights)
Let me start by saying I had a sinking feeling I would have to write about this a while back when Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away. I also want to make clear that I am very hesitant to give my opinions and feelings on topics like abortion and not just because I’m a man who will never know what it’s like to be pregnant.
However, I think this moment in history is worth talking about. It may very well mark a turning point for the United States and the western world in general with regard to abortion rights and human rights in general. And it’s a bad turning point, at that. That much, I am willing to say.
But there’s no getting around it anymore. Last week, the Supreme Court made it official. Roe vs. Wade is overturned and abortion is no longer a constitutionally protected right in America. It is hard to overstate what a big deal this is for women, men, and children of every age. I honestly don’t think I can put into words what a monumental shift this is.
That’s why I gave myself a few days to process it before writing about it or mentioning it in any meaningful capacity. Like many others, I certainly had a knee-jerk response when the news came down. Even though I wasn’t surprised, it still had an impact once it became official. And it’s hard to know where we’ll go from here.
Even with that extra time, I do find myself settling into a certain resignation to what this means for the near and immediate future. And it’s here where I want to share some of my sentiments.
First off, let me just start by saying my usual hope and optimism that I’ve discussed in the past is pretty much dead. I made an effort to cling to hope and some general idea that the good of humanity will overcome the bad. Well, now I’m willing to say it outright.
I was wrong.
I still believe there are good people in this world and they vastly outnumber the bad people. But the bad people are the ones with the money, power, and influence. They’re the ones who spent years working behind the scenes, exploiting the system, and lying when they had to in order to make this happen.
You can’t appeal to their humanity.
You can’t reason with them.
You can’t even call them out on their hypocrisy and expect that to change anything.
These politicians, judges, religious zealots, and advocates are as bad as they come. But that doesn’t matter. Don’t expect them to lose a wink of sleep over any outrage or suffering this decision causes. They knew what they were doing. They just didn’t care. And there’s nothing anyone can do to make them feel guilty about it.
Secondly, I also want to make clear that I have no more respect for religious convictions. Usually, when I talk about religion, I make it a point to say I respect the sincerely held beliefs of others. I even acknowledge I have religious people in my family.
Well, I still love and respect those people. But I have absolutely no respect for their religious convictions anymore.
More than anything else, this ruling has proven once and for all that religiously motivated morality is dangerous, detrimental, and regressive. It’s not a coincidence that those on the Supreme Court who made this ruling are devout Catholics, a sect of Christianity that has always been vehemently anti-abortion.
Never mind the fact that the Catholic Church has been behind some pretty horrific crimes.
Never mind the fact that the Catholic Church is run by celibate priests who will never need abortions.
This brand of religiously-motivated morality had driven the anti-abortion movement since the rise of the religious right. They claim they’re trying to save babies, but the end result is micromanaging and criminalizing female sexual behavior. If you need any proof of this, just look at how the anti-abortion crowd criticizes contraception.
It’s not hypocrisy.
It’s just a means to an end.
It’s also why this ruling is just a first step.
Make no mistake. This same court and these same politicians will go after birth control next. They’re not even trying to hide it anymore. They want an America where getting contraception is a crime, where any kind of pre-marital or extramarital sex is dangerous, and where women’s bodies can be controlled and managed by the state. Abortion and contraception are just obstacles and they’re going to keep attacking.
And lastly, here’s the final point I want to make.
These assholes are going to succeed.
I sincerely hope this post ages poorly, but give it another four years. I promise you that contraception is going to be the next thing on the chopping block. It won’t happen all at once, but it will happen. These people, who have ample access to oil money, religious organizations that don’t pay taxes, and a voting bloc that will never vote for another party, will keep pushing and they will push non-stop.
I’m sorry if that sounds dire or pessimistic, but this is where my broken spirit is right now. My faith in the future and in humanity’s ability to come together was already hit hard by COVID-19. Now, this is the final nail in the coffin.
It’s over now.
Evil didn’t win. Lying, cheating, power-hungry assholes won. And honestly, that’s worse.
Now, that they’re emboldened, they’re going to go after more rights. Losing a right like abortion and contraception access is just the beginning. It won’t be long before things like same-sex marriage, porn access, and voting rights are targeted. Yes, people will protest and voice their outrage. But that’s not going to change anything.
And here’s here where I’m going to make a few predictions. Granted, they’re very dire predictions and I hope I’m wrong about all of them. But having seen so many distressing trends in my adult life as an American, I think I’ve gotten a good feel for how our politics trend. So, this is what I expect to happen.
For the weeks and months after the ruling, there will be outrage and protests. It will garner quite a bit of media coverage. Abortion rights advocates will vehemently and passionately attempt to rally support.
But it won’t change a damn thing.
That’s because the people who make these laws and enforce them aren’t going to change their minds on anything unless it directly benefits them. Remember, they’re assholes. The most protests can do is mildly inconvenience them. Sure, you can try and commit to vote the anti-abortion people out of office, but because of gerrymandering and voter suppression laws, that’s not going to do much.
One way or another, these same politicians that fought to end abortion rights will keep winning elections. It’s not a matter of getting out the vote. It’s just a matter of them gaming the flaws in our election system to gain power and stay in power.
And don’t bother threatening them either. That’ll just get you arrested and allow them to paint your side as the violent radicals.
That’s no just me making an anti-violence disclaimer. Violence of any kind really won’t change anything with this issue either. The government has the soldiers, the guns, the military, and the drones. No matter how dedicated you are to fighting for abortion rights, anything you do to any authority figure will only mild inconvenience them and give them a perfect reason to put you in jail or worse.
With or without violence, the result will be the same. People will get bored of meaningless protesting and move on. Some other crazy news story will happen to draw everyone’s attention away from this issue, be it a celebrity scandal or some other political upheaval. And once the protests stop, it’s back to politics as usual.
By that, I mean that when November comes around, the republicans will win big because the democrats didn’t solve all the problems in America for the brief two years they had power. And once republicans get back into power, they will do anything and everything to ensure they can’t lose it ever again.
That means more restrictive voting laws and more efforts to ensure that their opponents can’t do anything to help anyone, ensuring they can paint them as ineffective in the next election.
Eventually, whether it’s in 2024 or 2028, there will be a situation where republicans control Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court. When that happens, expect their control to be complete.
They won’t just take control. They’ll ensure that they never lose it again. That means they’ll be able to pass any law they want to end abortion access nationwide, ban all the books they don’t like, and make sure that everyone strives to live a life taken right out of a bland, boring 50s sitcom.
It’ll be a boring, repressive future in which women, minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community suffer horribly. But that’s where we’re heading. Baring a massive upheaval or an alien invasion, I don’t see this changing.
Again, I hope I’m wrong about all this. But this ruling has pretty much ended my remaining optimism for the future of America, the world, and human rights in general. This was just the first step towards a much larger regression. I wish I could say it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
But honestly, I don’t see that happening. Last week was a bad week, but make no mistake. The worst is yet to come.
Filed under abortion, Current Events, politics, religion
Honest Question: Do Political Ads Convince Anyone Of Anything?
It’s that time of year again for my fellow Americans. It’s election season. Now granted, it’s not a Presidential election, which have a tendency to get messy, ugly, heated, and hostile. The last two Presidential elections have sadly demonstrated that. However, democracy is still an important part of the American tradition. That means we have elections every year.
Years like this are what we call “off-year elections.” We don’t elect a President, but we do elect senators, representatives, governors, and various other officials. It may not be as glamorous or high-stakes as a Presidential election, but it’s something I encourage every American to take seriously.
Even if you hate politics and politicians, you should still vote.
If you’re not sure how, depending on where you live, check out this website and follow the steps. It’s not just a civic duty. It’s the lifeblood of democracy.
That being said, I do have one major bone to pick with election season. It has to do with the political ads that seem to run every five minutes on every channel I watch, as well as every video I stream online. Chances are, my fellow Americans are seeing plenty of those ads too. I have a feeling they’re as sick of them as I am.
With that in mind, I have a simple question to those who make these ads, as well as those who can’t avoid seeing them.
Do these ads actually convince anyone of anything?
I promise I’m not being facetious. I’m asking an honest, sincere question.
Has anyone actually been swayed by these ads? Have they ever affected your voting habits in any meaningful way?
I know people tend to be exceedingly partisan about everything these days. There are people who will vote for alleged sexual predators over someone of the opposing party. I know people who are registered republicans or democrats. Their candidate could run over puppies in the street and they would still vote for them.
It’s sad, frustrating, and antithetical to core American principles, but that’s the current situation we live in. It also makes these political ads all the more irrelevant. Seriously, if people are this partisan and dogmatic about their political affiliations, is an ad going to change that? If not, why spend money on them in the first place?
It’s not an insignificant sum of money, either. Running ads on TV and online make up a sizable chunk of campaign costs for aspiring politicians and that cost is only increasing. If they don’t work, then why spend all that money in the first place? What’s the point if it doesn’t change a single voter’s mind?
I suspect that’s not entirely the point of these ads. It might just be the case that these ads are just reminders for people who planned to vote a certain way to get out there and vote. After all, voter turnout has been historically low in the Untied States. While I agree that’s an issue, are these ads really the best way to address it?
Again, it’s an honest question. I’m not trying to come off as jaded or cynical, although I don’t blame anyone for feeling this way after the past five years of American politics. If these ads aren’t helping, though, then I think these questions are still worth asking.
Jaded or not, I still fully intend to vote and I already know who I’m voting for. I encourage every registered voter in America to do the same. Try not to vote blindly, either. Look into each candidate. Get a feel for who they are and decide for yourself whether you want them representing you. It can be tedious, I know, but that’s how you do democracy. That’s how you preserve the core values that make the Untied State of America what it is. Put in that effort, even if you find these ads insufferably annoying.
Filed under Current Events, politics
Was Socrates Right About Democracy?
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.
Filed under philosophy, politics, psychology
Dear America: Yesterday At The Capitol Was Awful (Do Better)
I love America.
I’m proud to be an American.
I believe in the ideals, values, and promise of America.
I don’t deny this country has flaws. No person is perfect, no group is perfect, and no society is perfect. We’re an imperfect species, by default.
All that being said, yesterday was a sad, pathetic day for America. This country that I love showed some of its ugliest blemishes for the world to see and it was objectively awful on every level. The protests at the Capitol were a terrible sight to behold. While this story is still ongoing, it’s safe to say it’s as bad as it looks and then some.
AP: Chaos, violence, mockery as pro-Trump mob occupies Congress
“Where are they?” a Trump supporter demanded in a crowd of dozens roaming the halls of the Capitol, bearing Trump flags and pounding on doors.
They — lawmakers, staff members and more — were hiding under tables, hunkered in lockdowns, saying prayers and seeing the fruits of the country’s divisions up close and violent.
Guns were drawn. A woman was shot and killed by police, and three others died in apparent medical emergencies. A Trump flag hung on the Capitol. The graceful Rotunda reeked of tear gas. Glass shattered.
On Wednesday, hallowed spaces of American democracy, one after another, yielded to the occupation of Congress.
In general, I try not to comment on news that’s still fresh. I also try to avoid getting too partisan when talking about hot button issues in American politics. I understand how this can bring out the worst in people. However, I have to make an exception for yesterday.
I won’t mention names. I won’t even mention public officials or candidates. What the people did at the Capitol the other day was both shameful and pathetic. It wasn’t enough to just disagree with how the election turned out. It wasn’t enough to be angry at the other side for daring to pitch an agenda they didn’t approve of. They had to do the national equivilent of flipping over the chess board in anger because they lost.
That’s not what civilized people do.
That’s what whiny children do.
I want to say you’re better than that, but actions speak too loudly in this case. You act like you’re the “real” Americans. You call yourself patriots, but you mock, whine, and desecrate the people and places that make America what it is. That’s not patriotism. That’s just being an asshole.
Be better than this.
Do better than this.
I know you’re capable of it. I still believe in America’s highest ideals. We’re not measuring up to them now and we just went way too far in the opposite direction.
We need to turn this around.
We must turn it around.
America deserves better than this, but it also needs to put in the work. So, let’s start today.
Filed under Current Events, politics, rants
A Message To America After Election 2020
It’s over, America. We did it. The election of 2020 has concluded. We now have a winner and, come January 20, 2021, there will be a new occupant of the White House. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate this. It is, after all, a cornerstone of American democracy.
We, the people, elect our leaders. We don’t always like who wins, but it’s still on us, as a people, to make that decision. I know that sounds cheesy, given these cynical times, but it’s still worth saying.
With those platitudes out of the way, I have another important message I’d like to share with my fellow Americans. It’s simple, succinct, and apolitical. It’s simply this.
Regardless of how you voted, let’s all make an effort to be kinder to one another.
It’s not a tall request. It’s not something that requires great sacrifice or rigor. It’s just a simple act that anyone can do, regardless of their affiliations or ideology.
It shouldn’t seem so daunting, but these past few years have made it difficult to grasp. I’m on the internet every day. I see plenty of instances of horrendous, unbridled hatred. It’s on social media, message boards, Reddit, and even text messages. I won’t offer examples because it’s just that disgusting.
It’s not always political, but for these past few years, politics has been a catalyst for such hatred. It’s no longer enough to simply disagree with someone on a particular issue. The default has become utter and complete hatred of anyone who disagrees with you.
Whether it’s on abortion, LGBTQ rights, party affiliation, or sexy characters in video games, there’s no room for understanding and nuance anymore. Either someone agrees with you or you hate them in the utmost.
That is not healthy.
That is not conducive to a functional society.
Moreover, that is not in keeping with the American spirit.
America was not founded on hatred. No society founded on hatred could ever become so strong and dominant. It takes people living, loving, and cooperating with one another, regardless of differences, to build what America has built.
Have we made mistakes? Absolutely, we have. Every country has, some more so than others.
We’re human. We have flaws. Hatred is one of our most egregious flaws, but it need not be our most defining.
So, with that made, I sincerely hope that my fellow Americans will use this recent election as a turning point. We don’t need to “own” our opponents to vindicate ourselves. We don’t need to hate each other to prove ourselves right. We just need to be kind and make the most of the lives we live, as Americans and as fellow humans.
To that end, I’ll end this message with one of my favorite quotes by John F. Kennedy.
“We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world or make it the last.”
Filed under Current Events, politics
Happy Election Day! Now Vote!
It’s Election Day here in the United States of America. I don’t know how many people have been following the news for the past four years, but even if you’ve somehow avoided it, I hope one thing is still abundantly clear.
This election is a big fucking deal.
Regardless of which party you’re affiliated with or which candidate you support, this is the day where the rubber meets the road for democracy. This is where citizens exercise the power granted to them by the constitution.
As such, I encourage everyone to use it.
I’ve got no larger point to make today. I’ve got no sexy twist to put on it or larger narrative to explore. I’m just going to say what so many others have been saying for months now.
Go out and vote!
Get out there early. Bring water, snacks, and a lawn chair if you must. Stand in line as long as necessary. Just make sure you vote.
This is America. We value democratic principles. Those principles don’t work if people don’t vote. So please, my fellow Americans. I’ll say it again.
Go out and vote!
America will be better because of it. Thank you.
Filed under Current Events, politics