Jun 27, 2013

Pssst, Justice Scalia: Even Jesus Was From an Unconvetional Family--He Had Two Dads. SCOTUS Delivers Groundbreaking Decision on Same-Sex Marriage

Elections, leadership, legislatures, courts, all make a big difference in our lives--the recent events alone prove this. Just think how much more progress had we not been electing Republicans and conservatives in general. What we have been advocating for decades is slowly becoming the reality. We've been on the right side of history if you like, from civil rights to the role of government. 

Justice Scalia reflects the attitude of conservatives who are hung up on sodomy--they have issues about sex, racial relations, gender roles, etc. Conservatives don't have good imagination; can't project into the future, which they think is scary, because it involves change and they are not able to adapt. But, like all species who can't adapt, they'll perish.

I remember in 1990 tearing up when I watched Nelson Mandela's release on live TV. I experienced the same feelings when another injustice was overturned yesterday with the Supreme Court's decision on same-sex marriage. I'm white and straight, and these issues don't directly apply to me, but when decency is restored, or when people are denied rights, abused, persecuted, I/we have to care. The world is a better place to be, where happier people lead their own lives, trying to achieve their own potential. This is a progressive society that benefits all.

I'm fed up with those who talk about the founding fathers & the principles of this country--they don't understand what it means to be treated equally under the law. As for traditional marriage, please, we have redefined it throughout the centuries. Traditional used to mean owning women as chattel; that a man could marry several women, some way underage! It used to be that Jews could marry only their own, and races couldn't mix. 

I've seen same-sex couples having a more stable, long-term union than many of other heteros. As society also treats those unions are contractual relationships, and as beneficiaries of state privileges, then equality is imperative regardless of color, sex, race, religion, etc. 

By the way, annoy a religious conservative today by reminding them that even Jesus had two dads!  

Jun 25, 2013

Of Course We Need to Know How Our Government is Exercising Power in Our Name and on Our Behalf.

It's fascinating that many liberally-minded people I know aren't bothered by our government's snooping and are more upset at Snowden for revealing the "state's secrets."  I fully understand that in order for us to enjoy our lives and freedoms we have to be safe, but at which point Big Brother-like government actions are not appropriate?

What did Edward Snowden reveal? Something that should not be secret anyway! We should know what and how our government invades our privacy. Do they follow proper constitutional procedure? When somebody collects information about me, I have to know about it, how they do it, and how they'll use this information. As consumers (never mind as citizens), we have to know. And, if we don't think it's appropriate, then we should be able to change that. This is what an advanced, liberal-social-democratic country should be.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Therefore, our government has to, "by oath or affirmation," obtain permission, and thus create a record that can be reviewed for abuses or even whether the act was necessary. We now know the snooping into many people's private affairs in the past was improper, wasteful, and not what an accountable government should be doing to its free citizens.

Not all leakers of government secrets are the same. When the government breaks the law, or lies to its people, or is corrupt, or wasteful, etc, the public's interest is at stake. We need to know! The Pentagon Papers, Watergate, Abu Graib, torture and rendition program, and so many other cases--revealed by conscientious people--served our country. 

This is not a banana republic where Big Brother knows best. Are we mature adults who care to know?


Jun 16, 2013

Does a College Education Matter Besides Getting a Better Job?

The graduation speeches are probably done by now and college graduates are seeking their jobs where they can utilize the education they're certified to have. Well, we should ask, what is education and what is necessary?

Of course, it includes vocational training--the kind of knowledge a person needs to enter a specific profession. This is especially true in the non-liberal arts majors. The specific, the procedural steps necessary for a particular job have been acquired by the graduate in some degree of competency. A liberal arts student, in theory, can have a wider range of jobs that require a general competency, though such jobs pay less in general.

Many students aren't interested in a general education outside their major (vocational training in mind), because they don't see the need for ..extraneous knowledge. But, why is this general but higher knowledge necessary? Because, we live in a society where citizens are called to make judgments on important issues, including electing leaders. Leadership matters. Elections matter. But, it's also the general sentiment of the population that affects the direction and the priorities of the country.

Higher intelligence is developed through training of the mind. Judgment skills, confidence, and, yes, the interest in knowledge (outside the gossip type) is something that a person should have. Attitude and mindset are something a person has for ever so it's important to be the well-adjusted. Life is about making judgments all the time. Personal attitudes matter too. The ability to meet deadlines, to be motivated to complete a task and do it well; to be exposed to the unfamiliar and make sense of it.

Take a look at some of the major issues of concern today:
  • Wealth allocation, income distribution, who should pay taxes and how much, etc.
  • Immigration
  • Religion in the public square
  • Reproductive choice/abortion
  • Science, what it is and isn't; what to teach as science in school
  • Gun control
  • Role of the US in the international affairs
  • Constitutional issues, including right to privacy/government surveillance, and security
How people form opinions on such issues has something to do with their education, level of  exposure to the rational process, knowledge of history, and own confidence. 

College education may not be necessary for everyone but we still need to make it available to the poor and middle class and not return to the older days whereas only the socio-economic elites got a higher education. Student debt is larger than credit card debt in the US. It's a bubble about to burst, and it's unsustainable. 

Of course having a good-paying job is a liberating experience--when some of the basic needs are met because there's a decent income. Yet, in my opinion, life should be more than having a job--even a job you really like. It's should be like a journey with lots of worthwhile experiences. It should be about being aware of choices and even creating new ones; blazing new paths to personal fulfillment. I think having some good fundamentals, many of which can be acquired and honed though formal education, is a advantage. The effort is worth the outcome, because the benefits are ever-lasting. 

Enjoy this summer.