Letter to the Editor: Dunleavy Wants to Sink Alaska for Your Free Money

Back when I was an office assistant at the part of the state I work for now, I got a call from a guy very upset that we were garnishing his PFD because of what he owed.  He said that we can only take a portion of it because it’s income.  I told him that’s wrong.  We can garnish up to 100% of any lump-sum payment, and 40% of wages.  The response I got was classic – the PFD is wages.  To which I rightly replied – what exactly is it that you did to earn this money?  The answer I got was about as incoherent as it could be, and he angrily hung up.

Wanna know the truth?  He did nothing.  This is free money that he got for living in Alaska.  He did NOTHING to earn this money.  But in his overwhelming sense of entitlement (for the old people who think this was a young man, think again.  Dude was in his 40’s) had him actually believing that he was owed this payment from the State of Alaska.  That it wasn’t a gift that could be taken away.  Looking at all the madness surrounding Dunleavy and the crazy nonsense he has done and is still doing, I’m starting to realize that he isn’t the only one.

During the last election for governor, I knew exactly what the issue on the table was going to be – the PFD.  My prediction was that those on both the D and R side of the table were going to use it against the then-Governor Bill Walker and destroy him with it, because people had their dander up about the PFD because Walker had cut it for three years.  Cuts done because he was too conservative to do what now HAS to be done – raise the income of the state.  He couldn’t cut his way out of the problem, so the idea was to use PFD money to plug the massive financial hole that the state dug because the oil is drying up and our state made the unfathomably-stupid decision to tie our entire economy to a finite resource.

All of my predictions were spot-on.  Both Begich and Dunleavy were doing nothing but using the PFD as a bludgeon against Walker.  To the former Governor’s credit, he actually did step up to that.  A pity he dropped out.  Would have liked to see what it would have looked life if he hadn’t.  So we had a pretty much substance-free election, all tied to everyone yelling about their free money.

Now, a year later, and Dunleavy intends to keep to his word.  His one major campaign promise – a full PFD, with an amount for what was cut in previous years to be included.  But since he’s a Republican and has a single-digit IQ, he decided that doing the smart thing like raising taxes (which has to be done.  We’ve long passed the point where we can cut our way out of this) along with cuts (which also does need to happen.  It has to be both, not either), he opted for something that is outright insane.  In a series of line-item vetoes, he cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the state budget, smashing so many programs that actually helped people to bits.

The biggest thing that he slashed to ribbons was the University of Alaska budget.  $130 million cute from the University, effectively disabling it from dozens upon dozens of degree programs.  And this may not even be the end of it.  In one fell swoop, Dunleavy crippled one of the biggest things that Alaska has going for it.  Don’t believe me?  I’ll explain.

A few years ago, there was a big push to keep Alaska students in Alaska.  The reason being that most who leave for college never come back.  There was also the goal of getting those who are out of state to come to Alaska.  Things like UAA’s excellent nursing program, or UAF’s amazing engineering program.  These things are known nationwide.  Not to mention using the UAA teaching degree program to help get new teachers to Alaska, or at least get people to be aspiring educators.  One can never see how the future will pan out.  Especially with the turnover rate for teachers.

The powers that be at that time could see what I do now – Alaska’s population is getting old.  As more and more young people leave, and fewer young people are having children than ever before (guess they got the memo about overpopulation killing our species), the population of Alaska is very old, and getting even older.  Back before the oil market started to crash, this was worrisome.  Now, as industry is leaving Alaska and the recession of 2008 has finally arrived, the aging population of Alaska is a bigger threat than ever before.

One doesn’t have to look far to see what population decline is doing to some of the state where there is no major industry to speak of.  With fewer and fewer people coming into the labor-force, jobs will be unable to fill positions.  Experienced leaders who are retiring can’t be replaced, and as more people are looking for jobs out of state, that leaves an even bigger hole.  The cost of living in Alaska keeps growing, and people are fleeing major cities like Anchorage because the cost of housing never stops going up.  Another thing that Dunleavy is helping facilitate.

What does this mean long term?  For starters, ghost towns.  Places that are economically dead, and people just leave because there are either no good jobs, or no jobs at all.  Businesses that can’t staff their stores will close.  In Anchorage, this is especially important.  Nordstrom just closed.  The 5th Avenue Mall is holding on by a thread.  If JCPenney closes, that’s it.  It will join the Northway Mall in being effectively dead.

You can’t sell the direness of the situation to the entitled people who want their free, unearned money, however.  They won’t listen.  They don’t care.  While the state is dying a very slow and ugly death, while the PFD is on borrowed time because to give people the PFD Dunleavy promised (because he is having to dip into state reserve money to pay for it), while young people will leave Alaska to pursue education opportunities elsewhere, they just want that free money.

In a previous article, I talked about how what’s happening in Alaska is a microcosm to what is happening nationwide, and I’m certain I’m right.  Now more than ever.  Alaska is bleeding to death, but everyone is blissfully unaware, or outright doesn’t care, because they want things their way, and to hell with anyone who says otherwise.  Plenty of people say that the left just wants free stuff, but those people aren’t paying attention.  Medicare For All wouldn’t be free.  The difference is that for people like me, instead of paying premiums to private insurance, it would be paying to that.  It would probably be cheaper than my plan.

The PFD, on the other hand, is free money.  Not one person complaining about it has done one thing to earn it.  It’s money that the government gives you.  And if we don’t do something, now, to increase revenue and cut the oil tax breaks that we should have 20 years ago, that free money will go away.  With as old as the population of Alaska is, maybe they don’t care.  After all, it’s not like they’ll live to see it when it’s all gone.

Until next time, a quote,

“You can’t sell smart to the American people.” – Toby Ziegler, The West Wing

Peace out,

Maverick

Anti-Smoking Campaign Farce (A Response to University of Alaska Anchorage)

It’s one thing for a college to have a couple of professors who abuse their tenure, like some here who have it and their classes consist of them rambling about stories and not really teaching anything.  It’s also one thing to have some teachers who want students to do projects that tell them what they want to hear.  However, it is another thing to have a department and a professor who are almost blatantly signing off on something that they like and using a student to do work that is a waste of the university’s time and money.  I have seen one such example and it has gotten me more than a little livid, because the truth is – this is a REALLY bad joke.

Over the last few weeks, we have seen posters up for a campaign that was supposed to ban smoking across campus here at UAA.  A campaign that is as useless as it was interesting, it was fun to watch.  This campaign started the first and probably only sectarian conflict that I will likely ever see here.  With the lack of student involvement, the two-sided propaganda war that ignited was a sight to see.  We didn’t get a picture but there was a jerry-rigged billboard of signs the day of voting against the ban, surrounded by posters in support of it.  It was kind of telling about how the entire campaign worked.  It was a war of words, with both sides getting heated and saying harsh things.  This was almost as ugly as modern political campaigns.

The propaganda was especially interesting.  The side against used heated rhetoric about how the people for this effectively want to cast a group of people who isn’t hurting them in any way out, just because they don’t like the habit.  The side in support made an interesting (and sometimes amusing) case that they could be putting other stuff into their mouths besides cigarettes (I can think of a few things…) and that smoking is something they should stop doing because it can harm their careers.  Which, to me, is kind of insulting, because it is another instance of trying to shame a group of people you don’t like to do what you want them to do.  To measure up to your standards.  But the other side’s comparison to casting out lepers in days gone by was also over the top.  However, it was a neat battle of ideals that was played out with all the vigor of a culture war.

The election took place and, wouldn’t you know it – it passed.  The ban of smoking on campus, a stupid and pointless waste of university time and money (which will be nigh-impossible to enforce effectively) has become part of the system here.

This is stupid for all kinds of reasons.  First, it shows that we have another instance of people who can’t handle even a fraction of discomfort.  Smoking is not allowed inside buildings.  It is supposed to be kept over 50 feet from any building at any time.  We make the smokers huddle outside in the winter like a bunch of hookers.  We have a lot of cops on the university’s PD force who smoke.  But all that pales in comparison to the fact that this is just going to be a waste of the school’s time and money.  For one – how would they enforce it.  Should all the UPD officers be on the lookout for anyone who is smoking?  Smokers are a clever lot.  Ban smoking in an city and you’ll have them on the roof or hanging out of the 20th floor window lighting up.  Are we going to have them waste their precious time searching for everywhere there are smokers hiding out?  Should we have a tip-line so students can call in and narc on people who aren’t hurting them at all?  The next thing that should have tipped them off is – banning things on campus doesn’t work!  I work on campus, and I have seen countless booze bottles and mini-bottles around, wherever there is a quiet place that they can avoid being seen.  So, we ban alcohol on campus, and that doesn’t work.  What could have possibly compelled them to believe that that would work?

However, that isn’t what gets me mad.  For real, that doesn’t.  Here’s what does make me mad – this was a project.  For real, this wasn’t done for what is interpreted as the greater good.  This was done for the express purpose of getting points.  And it seems that this person will succeed, since they made a poster and ever had their project signed off on by a member of the faculty.  Which ties in to the second thing that makes me mad.

I have little issue with the student who did this project.  For real, I don’t.  She has a lot of guts to get a culture war this strong going.  I admire her spunk.  Though I do take issue with the fact that the poster complained that the reason they didn’t get more votes for their proposal is because they didn’t want to pay the fee that Student Government had for their putting up fliers.  You won anyway, honey.  Be a good winner.  The person I have a problem with in all of this is the professor.

I won’t name names, because I don’t want to make this personal.  I want to make it about the merits of the thing.  The problem here is that there is a professor who signed off on this.  A professor who should have seen that this ban is a bad idea, won’t work and will just end up wasting the university’s time and money.  Not to mention, given how this will just get ugly in the long run, my money is on the ban ending in a few years, after the University, which is already tightening its budget, realizes that this isn’t helping them.  There is a professor here who should have realized that, historically, banning things doesn’t work.  They didn’t learn from history and decided to okay this.  Which, as we see it, means that they are in support of it.  That means that they are in favor of helping a student assist their ideology.

Now, maybe I’m wrong about that.  Maybe there is more to this story.  Maybe the professor just wanted to do what any good chemist does with two chemicals to figure out how they interact – put them in a beaker and apply heat.  However, it doesn’t feel that way.  What this looks like, by all appearances, is that this whole thing boils down to two things.  This whole affair is, at best – a waste of the university’s time and money.  At worse, this is academic nepotism so that this professor could get a student to do her heavy lifting for her.  If I’m wrong, good.  But that’s now what this looks like on the surface.  A student ignites a culture war for a grade, and the professor ignores what should have been evidence pointing that this wouldn’t work.

What a waste of time.

Until next time, a quote,

“I thought Mustang was all about kissing ass to get to the top?”  -Edward Elric, Fullmetal Alchemist

Peace out,

Maverick

The Natalia Dilemma

Now, this is going to be a bit more of an emotional post than some, but I thought I would address something that occasionally comes up.  You see, here at UAA, there is going to be a candlelight vigil for Roe v. Wade.  The stupidest possible thing that has ever been done, and it is here at UAA.  Yes, because giving women the rights over their own bodies was such a bad thing, right?  Wrong!

The group who is running this show is called “UAA Students for Life.”  As you might have guessed, they are anti-choice (pro-life).  They believe women should have no choices.  They think that giving a rape victim a way out is just the worst thing to ever happen in this country.  It’s really, really pathetic.  Up until recently, the person who ran this organization was a bigot named Natalia.

There was a class I was in, last year.  She was in it too.  There was a guest presenter who had made a film there.  It was called “In-Laws and Outlaws.”  He was a good presenter, and it was pretty fun, up until Natalia opened her stupid fucking mouth.  Then came all the vitrial about the “gay-agenda” and how he’s “living in sin.”  It was on and on and on, and when everybody turned on her, mostly because of how disrespectful she was being, the teacher lectured everyone else.  Yes, because letting the bigot talk was so good.  Never mind how unbelievably disrespectful she was being.

I have another friend.  She is hardcore Catholic.  I sometimes question why, since I know she is a thinking and analytical person, but I don’t talk about it with her.  Which is ironic because she talks about it with me.  She talks a LOT about the Catholic stuff.  I am kind of proud of myself because I don’t go off the rail about how the Catholic church is a corrupt institution that breeds people like Natalia, along with child-rapists that they protect with their corrupt aristocracy.  But she recently defended Natalia, pointing out that she was actually sorry for what she said.

Here’s the thing – I don’t buy that.  I don’t buy that she feels bad for ANYTHING!  You know why?  Because she has no conscience.  None.  She will stand outside of Planned Parenthood and scream about how those women are whores, and will lambast a guest speaker at a school.  People who do that aren’t people who feel sorry for their actions.  They are people who are proud, and think themselves heroes for the cause.

This is my problem with religion.  What I call the Natalia Dilemma goes beyond her.  It is a term to describe completely bigoted people, that get defended from decent people.  I talked with somebody else I know, who also defended Natalia’s actions, saying that she isn’t as bad as I believe her to be.  But she is.  She is the worst kind of person.

And here’s the truth – it’s her religion that made her that way.  I am DONE not attacking a person by attacking their beliefs.  The fact is that the concepts are intertwined.  And since I can see all the harm that this faith bullshit does, I can immediately attack it by pointing out the people like Natalia.  She’s a Catholic, by the way (big surprise, I know).  The Catholic church.  I recently posted something on Twitter –

Catholicism – committing crimes against humanity, but still getting tax breaks.

And that’s the absolute truth.  This is an organization that is doing deplorable things to people, but almost NEVER getting taken to task for it.   What’s more, their institution defense their actions.  They will defend, to the bitter end, what these people do.  They will make statements like –

It’s just their faith.

No!  Wrong!  It isn’t just their faith.  It is the entire institution of religion.  A lot of people have come out over the years, even among my atheist crowd, and said that religion in and of itself isn’t the problem.  I have caught myself saying that from time to time.  But I realize now that that outlook on things is wrong.

I have no doubt that my Catholic friend must have a thought in the back of her mind that I am going to Hell.  She’s a VERY religious person.  I have no doubt that it has come up a time or two that they are going to go to Heaven, and not see me there.  Maybe that causes them some inner turmoil, maybe not.  The point is, as much as they try to be open-minded, and good-natured, their dogma teaches them things that make no fucking sense.

The biggest problem in the debate with people who are religious about whether or not God is real or whether or not Christianity is true is that I can point out to them, time and time again the problems, the flaws in their arguments, the logical inconsistencies.  I can point out the complete and utter paradoxes of their arguments, but they won’t listen to me.  They won’t even take the time to consider it.  I might as well be talking to a brick wall.

Back to the Natalia Dilemma, the people who fall into this category are almost universally religious.  I haven’t met an atheist yet who takes such a hardline position as she does about how being gay is a sin and how women who get an abortion are whores.  But society comes to their defense.  Quick as you can say it, the people will be out, defending the statements of people like Natalia, because it’s “their faith.”

Faith is the ultimate enemy to social progress.  That’s the truth of the matter.  A person without faith cannot get far in government.  Faith is what leads insane people to do insane things.  And don’t come at me with Stalin.  The difference between him and Bush is that Stalin didn’t let his atheism guide him.  that was just an accessory to his character.  Bush spoke openly about how his faith guided his foreign policy.  His foreign policy!  The LAST thing that religious should have its mits on is what we do in other countries!

The Natalia Dilemma is clear – people who can be as horrible as they want, but get defended by society at large.  They are scum, pure and simple.

Until next time, a quote,

“There’s a tendency to miss the trees for the forest and treat religion as a separate entity from the people it’s composed of.  In truth, the problem of organized religion wouldn’t and couldn’t exist if it weren’t for religious people.”  -Zinnia Jones, “Organized religion” isn’t the problem, religion is 

Peace out,

Maverick

What Makes America So Great?

You know, I never stop hearing from the conservatives in this country about how America is the greatest nation on the face of the planet.  I find this argument to be very interesting for a number of reasons.  It is just so weird how these people all seem so completely convinced that America is some kind of great archon in the industrialized world, and honestly, it seems kind of pathetic how we believe ourselves to be the greatest of all nations.

My first question to those who believe this country is so great is – how do you measure this greatness?  By what standard to you measure the greatness of a nation.   Is it by how well-off the citizenry are?  Well, let’s keep this to the industrialized world.  If we look at the not so industrialized world, that is depressing.  But yeah, given that we have massive unemployment here, and that doesn’t even include the 99ers who have just given up looking for a job because their community has no opportunities that their education can provide.  The middle class is rapidly disappearing, and the rich seem to not care.

Hey, while we’re talking about citizenry, how about health care?  The World Health Organization ranks us very low among the industrialized nations for quality of health care.  We spend the most on health care than any other nation in the industrialized world, which would be fine, if what we were getting back was of equal merit.  Instead, we have a patch-work health care system that keeps millions of people from getting the necessary procedures that they can get.  Then there is the fact that our nation’s health care system is the most inefficient when it comes to the bureaucracy.  Part of that is because we don’t have universal health care.

And while we’re talking about health care, how about the systems we have in place to protect the poor?  Our social safety net is a joke.  Those who need it are getting nothing, and those who are making six-figure salaries are getting it.  It is a joke how bad we take care of those on the bottom in this country.  And meanwhile, there are idiots like all the Republicans (including Ron Paul.  Seriously, he is just as much a Republican as the rest of them) talking about how we should abolish Social Security, talking about how there are all these lazy people who don’t deserve it.  Yes, because America is clearly a nation where effort gives you equal reward (cough*bullshit*cough).

So, while we’re on the subject of the poor, how about our prison system?  Well, here, we are so ahead of the curve!  We have more people in jail than any other nation in the industrialized world.  Of course, most of these are drug offenders and have done nothing wrong.  The system just says they they are wrong.  Never mind that somebody didn’t kill or steal from anybody, they are criminals!  Yes, that makes a whole lot of sense.  Let’s throw people in jail because we arbitrarily decide to make what they do a crime.

Next up, do we have the biggest array of artists in this country?  Do we have the largest amount of culturally relevant works coming out?  Well, if you look at anything that Michael Bay has made, it is easy to see how that is a lie.  America not only doesn’t have the biggest amount of artists, we don’t have a country that endorses artisans.  When we have people going out and telling art majors to drop it because there are no opportunities for them here.  We are already telling people like my best friend Emily that pursuing the dream of doing great artwork is not a worthwhile pursuit.  So that is out.

While we are looking at the future, how about science?  Is America leading the way in technological mastery and scientific development?  That is a flat-out no.  South Korea is a nation that is half the size of Georgia, and it has the greatest internet service in the world.  America absolutely refuses to start investing large-scale into alternative energy.  We have no high-speed transit system in this country.  The system that we do have right now is a joke.  Almost all the major scientific developments are now coming from other places.  The fact is that America is not some kind of major player here, either.

We also, in a lot of sects in America, actually condemn science.  The religious right is always attacking scientific institutions, like those doing stem cell research, because a microscopic bit of goo might turn into a future Republican.  We have a holy war against doing anything sane.  That brings us to how we are in secular systems.  America is having a civil war (metaphorically speaking) about the religious beliefs of this country.  We condemn the Islam faith, while Christianity really has no room to talk.  Between all the killings done by Christians in the past, and all the ones that are being done now in the name of religion, the Christian right really has no room to attack those who believe in Allah over their God.

This doesn’t look good for America being the greatest nation.  What about the education levels of our young people?  With student loans at colleges being completely beyond control, it is easy to see how education in this country is not the greatest.  High School dropout rates are insane.  At my college, UAA, only 1 in 4 students is able to stick it out until graduation.  Those who come to America to learn don’t stick around here to put their skills to work helping us.  They go back home and put their skills to work to get their nations ahead.

The fact is that America is not the greatest country in the world.  We are very quickly starting to lose our place in the world.  While the Republicans, Libertarians, and Tea Party dumbasses want to go back to some kind of golden age, the new golden age is quickly slipping away from us.  The fact is that we are losing our spot in the global market, and if we don’t do something to change things soon, there will be no place for us in the world of tomorrow.  I really hope that day doesn’t come to pass.

Until next time, a quote,

“Conservatives want live babies so they can turn them into dead soldiers!”  -George Carlin

Peace out,

Maverick

The Circling of the Drain of News in America

There are times when I watch the news and I think to myself – this is great reporting.  This guy or gal got the best information.  They weren’t worshipping the false god of objectivity, instead, they were trying to rationalize it out, and give the best information that they  believed the people needed to know.  Every once and a while, I get that feeling when I think to myself – that is just what I want to do!  I want to be that person, sitting in that chair, or on that screen, or in that radio booth.  I think to myself, I’m majoring in this, god-dammit, so why can’t I do stuff like that.

But then I turn to a different network, and I see some poor schmuck who is talking about the most worthless stuff.  I turn to Yahoo news, and on their little reel, they have stories about things like “Christina Aguilera’s alarming outfit,” or “12 year old YouTube hit now a HS star.”  This is what the modern world of journalism has become.  It has become a war.  This war is being fought with words, speech, TV, radio, the web, and every weapon that people can find.  It is something that should never have been a war in the first place.  And while this war goes on, the world of journalism is slowly circling the drain.

Ted Koppel wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post.  In it, he talks about how the death of “real news” is happening.  This is an unfortunate false dichotomy that journalism students like me are at war with.  There is a professor here at UAA who believes in the false god of “objective journalism.”  I pity her.  I pity her greatly.  She has a whole cadre of followers who run the various news groups here at the college and are all totally blind to the fact that journalism, good journalism, has never been “objective.”  Getting information and feeding it to people like a computer is a worthless effort.  It demeans the intellects of those who watch it, read it, or hear it, and it makes the reporters look like spokespersons for the groups they are getting their information from.

The great journalists, in my opinion, are the ones who take all the relevant information, and come to their own conclusions.  Great journalists do give you facts, but offering conclusions that they find in evidence isn’t a bad thing, so long as they allow you to come to your own conclusions.  So long as they tell you where their information came from, and show you just where you can go to get it, so you can judge for yourself.

It is one of the reasons why I am such a fan of Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann.  Both of them, when they are showing something, put up information of where their information came from.  They let you come to your own conclusions, but are not afraid to say what their conclusions are.  And where was it written that having an opinion is a bad thing?  FRONTLINE does it all the time!  They give more information in their broadcasts than any other network on television!  But don’t think for a second that they haven’t come to conclusions.  Don’t think for a minute that the people doing those stories hasn’t taken the time to really think clearly about what they believe the inherant truth of the story to be.

And when people like the professor here or Ted Koppel weep for this ideological falsehood like “objectivity,” they are reminding me every single day why news in this country is almost dead.  The great journalists like Walter Cronkite, Bill Moyers, H.L. Mencken, Edward R. Murrow, they did what most people try and fail to do – digest as much as they could, and tell people what they believed to be right!  Don’t believe me, here it is, straight from the horse’s mouth –

For it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. This summer’s almost certain standoff will either end in real give-and-take negotiations or terrible escalation; and for every means we have to escalate, the enemy can match us, and that applies to invasion of the North, the use of nuclear weapons, or the mere commitment of one hundred, or two hundred, or three hundred thousand more American troops to the battle. And with each escalation, the world comes closer to the brink of cosmic disaster.

That was from a nightly news broadcast that Walter Cronkite made in 1968.  He spoke about something that all of America was thinking, and anybody who said was labeled a terrorist, communist, traitor.  And what did he get for saying the truth?  He was ridiculed by those in power, and so are those who carry the banner today.  Here’s another look at a great journalist saying what those who were in power didn’t want them to say –

Prohibition has not only failed to work the benefits that its proponents promised in 1917; it has brought in so any new evils that even the mob has turned against it. But do the Prohibitionists admit the fact frankly, and repudiate their original nonsense? They do not. On the contrary, they keep on demanding more and worse enforcement statutes — that is to say, more and worse devices for harassing and persecuting their opponents. The more obvious the failure becomes, the more shamelessly they exhibit their genuine motives.

Journalism is circling the drain because at the end of the day, those who do this are making the choice that rather than ask the tough questions, than to be allowed to do what they should do and judge the situation.  Whether they judge it as a non-issue that doesn’t really matter, like what outfit Christina Aguilera is wearing, or whether they judge it as a massive problem that affects our entire country, like the protests on Wall Street that Mayor Bloomberg has promised to crack down upon.

Journalists have a duty.  In fact, all of those who have the rationality to think have a duty to get those who are not blessed to have that power to do the same!  They are required to help make the world a better place, because the rest of the mindless masses are content to do nothing, to not care about anything outside of their little world.  That is the way that the world works these days.  Journalism is circling the drain because those who make that tough choice are being ridiculed, while those who choose to do nothing, who choose to turn a blind eye and simple rely on “facts” are being misled by those who want to keep the information out of the public eye.

Humanity help those who end up being blamed because they will say that they were “objective,” when they should have been honest.

Until next time, a quote,

“I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind — that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.”  -H.L. Mencken

Peace out,

Maverick

What Should I Write About?

I really don’t know what I should write about.  There is the growing efforts with Occupy Together, which began from Occupy Wall Street.  There is now this group, “The Other 53%,” who are showing the ignorance and stupidity that is rampant throughout this culture.  It is still a point of interest how these people seem to believe that having nothing, that being a nobody is a bragging right.  These people are all profoundly stupid, I think.  Yes, they have nothing at all, are being completely oppressed by the system, but Wall Street, who controls the system, isn’t the enemy.  It is all so pathetically tragic.

There are religious bigots who are in the world.  That is something that never ends.  Religion, for the most part, is a world of prejudice and bigotry that never seem to help anybody.  So that is always something that is present.  Religion has always had a detrimental effect on progress.  While Oswalt may have been right, that religion got our culture started back when we were cavemen, it has no place now.  So there is that that I could talk about.

Then there are the going-ons here at the college.  I could talk about how Lefty on the Left, my column with the paper, has been axed.  I won’t go too much into that.  It is a major blow, and it hurts.  Of course, talking around campus, it seems that the paper, and the woman who runs it, are not the most popular things.  So I guess it could be worse.  It is a rather painful thing, though, since I really did love working there.  That column was part of the things that I really enjoyed.  So that could be talked about.

We could talk about the political climate currently in Alaska.  The Pebble Mine debate is voted on.  I support Pebble, but that really is beside the point.  The liberals will lambast me, but really, I am just finding it hard to tell a community of people not to want to get some capital that they desperately need into their community.  I’m all for keeping nature intact, but honestly, when a community is horribly economically depressed, what can we do?  How can we make fishing a better industry for them, especially when a lot of the permits are owned by out of state companies?  Answer me that question, and I will be with you.

So yeah, there are a lot of things that one can talk about, but we are totally unsure.  What should we talk about?

Until next time, a quote,

“For a community that has such a small economy, that kind of money can go a long way.  For the environmentalists, that seems to almost be inconsequential.  The fact that communities have been shown to grow up around mines doesn’t seem to register.”  -Lefty on the Left, The Pebble Mine Debate

Peace out,

Maverick

I Picked the Wrong Effing Major

So, I am a journalism and public communications major.  I am really starting to regret having picked this major, because honestly, looking at it critically, I am probably going to be one of the millions of Americans who are barely scraping by.  I am probably going to be one of those people who can barely manage to keep it together, payingo ff my college debts, because I don’t make hardly any money, if any at all.  My field is rapidly dying, and the online market, which is where I am working to expand in, is nothing but pennies in the bucket to the written market, which is dying fast.

I have always been good at anything that I have set my mind too, but skill really doesn’t matter in this country anymore.  Greed, deviousness, and cleverness get you infinitely further than skill.  Emotional intelligence plays a role as well.  It has been determined that a person who has vast amounts of emotional intelligence is more likely to do well financially than any other area that can be determined on a standard IQ test.  I do have a lot of that.  I inherited that feature from Sally.  But in the end, if I can’t find any open doors, what is the point?  Living in Alaska doesn’t help.  The print journalism field is dead, absolutely dead.  A professor here at UAA, Edgar Blatchford, is trying to bring two newspapers back.  I wish him luck.  If he can’t make them big on local issues, his newspaper will go down in flames.  Both of them will.  It is an unpleasant thing anymore.

With online journalism becoming the hub for the new generation, why would people want to wait for a newspaper to tell them what NPR, PBS, BBC, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox can tell them instantly online?  It is the Catch-22 that The New York Times, The LA Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other big-time newspapers that are still faring well are facing.  Charging for stories is one avenue.  NYT did it, and they are doing well because people are paying.  That is a newspaper that has a reputation for being good, so people will pay for what they can get.  However, for small-town guys like me, the chances aren’t great to get into a good job.

Plus, most of what I like to do is to examine politics.  Now, I don’t agree that there is such a thing as “objective” or “straight” journalism.  I am with Keith Olbermann, Bill Moyers, and Edward R. Murrow on this.  It is literally impossible not to have a bias.  And all those who say that guys like Murrow, Koppel, and Cronkite never had any bias.  They had plenty.  They went out of their way to report the things that they believed needed to be reported on, and they were rightly lionized for being good reporters, but they weren’t afraid to say the things that needed to be said.  But it is good that we are having this debate.  But for me, I don’t mind injecting some opinion into things.  My belief as a reporter is that if you present as much information as you can, you have your own opinion and say what it is.  Since you’ve given information, let the public decide what they believe.  If we had a smarter public, that might just be a very good option.  As it stands, America has an unbelievably stupid public that is kept stupid by the fact that the corporate media doesn’t give as much info as possible.

But the field that I have chosen is oddly dead.  I am starting to think that maybe it was a mistake to pick this major.  But I can’t help it.  I love this stuff. I live for this stuff.  Looking at the political and cultural issues, as many as I can, and being part of the discussion is part of what keeps me whole as a person.  I believe that people who hate politics don’t seem to understand that this is stuff that affects your future.  I am a misanthrope, I hate this and the people who are a part of it, but I keep watching because honestly, I don’t think we have another choice.  I have to know what is going on.  We all do, because when the public stops caring, when all opinion is heading in one direction or ignored, that is when it will feel like fascism to me.

In any case, I may not be able to do anything with this.  I wish I could get some advertisers to my blog, either this one or my professional blog.  That would be a good start.  The inevitable goal would be to find a platform where I could talk about the things that I have interest in, and find a way to make money doing it.  Talking is overrated to some, but to me, discussion is an absolute must for any society to function.  And so there must be a place for one such as myself.  It must be a rational discussion.  This discussion must not be just two or more people screaming at each other.  Another part of the problem in modern discourse is that most of what we talk about is nothing more than a ballet of people who are screaming at one-another.  So, when I say that people like Bill O’Reilly are what is wrong with this country, I am talking about the fact that these people are part of a system of people who will lie and not admit it.  NPR, PBS, BBC, and several other areas of media are able to do what I believe works – talk about the issues that matter, and do so in a rational manner that allows others to disagree.

So, I think I may have picked the wrong major, not because of a values or what I want, but because making money does come first.  Bummer, but that is how it is.

Until next time, a quote,

“I don’t know if what I am doing is right.  I am trying.  I have to, because whatever that was before, we have to fix it!”  -Keith Olberman, Countdown with Keith Olbermann

Peace out,

Maverick