Friday, June 15, 2018

Moral Proximity

There is a classic problem in philosophy you may have heard of, known as The Trolly Problem.

In this problem you have two scenarios. A street trolly rolling down a track loses it's brakes. As a switch operator, you could pull a track switch and divert the trolly, seeing that if you don't five people in a car are directly in the trolly path and will assuredly be killed. However, on the side track is one workman who would also be killed if you do choose to pull the track lever.

What is the ethical choice? Do nothing and five people die. Pull the lever and only one dies. It seems like a simple math problem.

Or is it?

What if you the observer weren't operating a track switch, but observing on an overhead bridge instead? And instead of a switch, and incredibly fat man stands beside you. You know that if you shove the fat man off the bridge onto the track that sure, he will die. But you are also pretty sure that he's so large he would stop the trolly, saving the five people down the track?

A conundrum eh? Ethics aren't so simple are they? Our intuitions are affected by proximity.

There are those consequentialist philosophers who claim that this quandry is truly ethically challenging, but I don't think so.

Why? Because we know, both observationally and personally that there is an ethical difference between pulling a switch and shoving a man to his death. It's just that the ethical difference, and therefore capacity to suffer exist with the observer.

Collateral damage and modern warfare clearly spells this out. A ground infantry soldier is far far more likely to suffer from PTSD than a remote drone pilot, despite the likelihood that a remote drone pilot has taken more human life. It isn't the dehumanizing label of "enemy combatant" that does this either. Rather it is the proximity to the consequences of violence and warfare.

So why am I going on about this?

In today's political climate many people of a like mind to myself keep pondering why Trump supporters can so easily dismiss the ethically crushing results of some of his administrations policies.

I am here to claim that, just as the problem above, much of our ethics are informed by proximity. And the distance afforded by divisive policy for many, makes the otherwise tragic ethical outcomes of far less consequence.

We have so many Trumplicans perfectly ok with the administrations immigrant policies. And so many of these people easily dismiss situations like we find in Texas where thousands of children have been separated from their families.

Why can they do that? Well first, it's because they have been convinced by years (decades even) of conservative propaganda that illegal immigrants are the root cause of many of our problems....even if they are demonstrably not.

How many of these Trumplicans could actually physically separate children from their parents and not feel abysmal shame?

And I mean this literally. How many people who agree with his policies would actually go and do the work of dragging children physically from the arms of their parents??

I'd wager, given human nature, far far less than are otherwise ok with this. And it's entirely because it's an abstract issue happening to someone else, SOMEWHERE else.

Think all Germans were as ethically bankrupt as the worst of the Nazis? It might make going to war with them easier to believe this, as much of the WW2 propaganda proclaimed.

All Germans were clearly not this ethically bankrupt. They just took the idea of patriotism too far, and to it's ultimate dark place.

Now do you grasp just how scary a place we as a culture find ourselves??? :-/

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Gunzzzzz!!!!!!!! RAWRRRR

The gun debate continues, as it has for many years. As a gun owner, a liberal, a secular humanist, and a skeptic I find myself stuck in the middle of this topic. I might also be a magical unicorn, due to how nonsensical it seems to some people that I'm a liberal and a gun advocate. :-P

Clearly something needs to change. But the changes I advocate for are changes neither side of the debate from a policy standpoint seem eager to entertain. Rather, both side politically seem to simply use the topic as a means to create more divisiveness.

Sound far-fetched? Hear me out.

One of the really confusing aspects of gun legislation is how rarely our federal government has had the political will to actually legislate any of it. This is why we have our current quite problematic situation whereby individual states and cities have created a miasma of confusing laws. In Kentucky you can keep a gun in your vehicle at work under most circumstances, but in Pennsylvania you can be fired for it, with no legal recourse. Of course since Pennsylvania is an At Will employment state you can be fired with no recourse for wearing the wrong color shirt. There are plenty of areas the federal government has bowed out of having a say, but as gun rights are in the Bill Of Rights, it is an area legislatively the federal government must OWN.

I could give many many more examples of how the mess of local legislation creates issues for both pro-gun and anti-gun sentiment, but by and large the REAL issue is a lack of political will at the Federal level to address the topic. Not only in a common sense manner, but at all.

There are TONS of laws already on the books however, whether you're talking about the NFA in 1934, the GCA in 1968, or additional legislation tacked on in 86 and 89 that are still quite legitimate.

The problem is that only the bare necessities are actually enforced, and only so because of bipartisan effort. Sounds crazy even using the word bipartisan today eh?

So what do I mean. Well it's a rarely discussed aspect of this that should be.

The BATF. The BATF (and it's funding or lack thereof) is really at the heart of this issue. And NO ONE TALKS ABOUT THIS!!

An NFA Tax stamp from the BATF today still costs what it did in 1934. $200. In 1934 $200 was more like $4000 and served as a deterrent to the manufacturing of certain types of firearms. Now it's just a relatively small fee. The BATF has no legal say so over the fee, but they do have to approve the stamp applications.

Hard core gun rights activists and lobbyists have kept raising the stamp fee off the legislative radar for many decades. But the FUNDING of the agency itself isn't so cut and dry in the lobbying process.

Want to know why filing for an NFA stamp approval takes anywhere from six months to over a year (assuming a filling gets approved in the first place)??

The BATF is understaffed and underfunded. Big win for the anti gun crowd.

We have almost 70,000 brick and mortar gun stores in America (more than their are grocery stores). Counting in FFL license holders and the number jumps to more than 160,000. The BATF is mandated under law to audit these businesses and license holders for best practices and adherence to the law. But by the BATF's own admission, rather than annually they on average get around to this every 17-18 years. Why?

The BATF is understaffed and underfunded.
Big win for the pro gun crowd.

BOTH political parties have determined since the Reagan era that it is equally within their self interest to have a castrated BATF. For their own selfish political reasons. It's the one thing they agree on.

Wrap your mind around these facts and ask yourself. Will banning a particular gun or arming teachers fix this deeper problem? Or are you being sold a pile of shit playing on your fears for your vote???


Friday, June 23, 2017

America Sucks!

Our culture is obsessed with...

Bathrooms. Gender. Immigrants. Vaccines. GMO's. Crime & Violence.

If I were to do a poll of the top trending posts on my Facebook feed, all of these would easily populate the top 10.

But why?

We know statistically that sexual assaults of minors primarily occur in three places. The home, daycares, and churches.

We know that many of the causes of gender variance (beyond the obvious norms) are biological and genetic in nature. We've known this scientifically for half a century or more. Yeah some of this is just people being weird (but who cares???!??), but most of it is not.

We all recognize immigrants in our family lineage, and statistics show that immigration is not a burdensome drain on resources or a significant source of crime. We KNOW this.

Vaccines allowed us to take diseases that our immune systems could not ameliorate in 500 generations, and ameliorate them in less than 10 generations. Sanitation played a huge role too, but far from the only role.

GMO's are just the latest in a centuries-long trend of genetically modifying food for our benefit. Norman Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize is personally responsible for saving perhaps a BILLION lives through his work. Ever heard of him?

And finally, the sentinel fear factor. Crime & Violence. We have less of it today than ever before, no matter what your feed tells you.


The problem I have with all of this isn't necessarily the arguable details of the above. We can have many conversations about and nitpick the above assertions, which are nonetheless broadly true.

The problem I have is that these topics are now front and center of our national priorities. And this is a signal to me, of the beginning of the end of a culture.


Post World War Two America was a uniquely powerful and fertile period in our countries long and storied history. Perhaps it was the ONLY uniquely powerful and fertile period in our countries long and storied history, but I am old enough to truly remember this.

This period of innovation in science, engineering, social justice, and quality of American life....stopped. It stopped in my lifetime.

That period of American pride and manifest destiny waxed on philosophically by your parents and grandparents is demonstrably OVER. It's done. We have gone from a period where the United States led the world in every sense of the word, to a period where the United States leads the world in almost no sense of the word.

China is building the worlds largest Hydroelectric power station, with output of 22,500 MW. And they have an economy growing at 10% a year. They've poured more concrete since 1990, than the U.S. has since 1900. They are poised to pass us by in aerospace dominance within a decade or so.

That plane you hop on to fly from city to city in the U.S.? Was designed and built in Brazil, the third largest aerospace power in the world. When American's think of Brazil, they think of Carnival, girls with huge asses in bikini's, and "that's just some third world hell hole". American's are stupid. :P

Russia builds the rockets that WE USE to deploy satellites and send cargo and crew to the International Space Station. America established and created the largest aerospace agency in the history of mankind, NASA.....and now we're buying rockets from Russia.

I could go on and on with other damning statistics, but given many of my other posts on this topic I'd feel like I was beating a dead horse bringing them up again.


That isn't to say that Brazil, China, and Russia are utopia. Far from it. But it is equally true to say that worrying about where people take a shit isn't exactly conducive to our social and ethical dominance either.

Out of the 400 wealthiest individuals in the world, about half live here in America. There are a whole lot more than two countries, so that's impressive. And yet we rank in the 30's in infant mortality? Out of the top 10 in education?

Why are we worried about often nonsensical things when we have crumbling infrastructure, entire cities with poisonous water supplies, healthcare and education costs spiraling out of control to the point where no one can afford them, environmental damage and consequences our own Department Of Defense recognizes as alarming that our own government does not?

We tend to blame all of this on politics and politicians. And indeed this *IS* the doorstep we should lay the problem at. Government and governance exist just for these kinds of broad issues. But is it that simple?

Politicians do not come here by passing through a membrane from an alternate reality. They come from American families, American Churches, and American Schools. And we vote for them.

We did this to ourselves. And we won't be able to do anything at all about this until we recognize that we are our own problem.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Beating a dead horse with Snapchat

So it looks like Snapchat is in trouble again, for being "insensitive".

This time it appears to be because they've opted for a rather ridiculous filter to celebrate women in science, that also gives them digital eye shadow and smooth skin.

It does seem a bit much. Too much with the eyes! :P And unnecessary. But........

Hello?!???!?!?! This is Snapchat. Not the National Association of Women.

Snapchat doesn't exist to solve world problems or to be a "voice" for our culture. It's an app, predominately used by women (70% of the base), to send pictures and short videos. And yeah lots of goofy filters. It's the grownup equivalent of buying pointless shit for your house in Nintendo's Animal Crossing. :P

So now this story is making the rounds of online news and social media. But is it relevant? Does it matter?

As a man you'd think I'd leave such an issue alone, as it doesn't really impact me. Or does it? Last time I checked about 50% of the earth's population are women. Having an opinion about a woman's issue is at least in part having one about an issue of the human condition. So hear me out.

Social media makes it a bit easier to get carried away with linear thinking, and it certainly can become an easy avenue for expressing that thinking. Too easy at times. It can become a reality distortion field.

"The squeaky wheel gets the grease" is a corollary to a simple truth in human behavior. People expressing outrage (whether justly or unjustly felt) are louder than those who are not outraged. They usually get more attention and feel empowered by it. It tilts the discussion. While that's no bad thing, that is rarely where solutions lie. And the overall truth usually resides somewhere between those extremes.

People can be convinced, rather easily, to value things that have no intrinsic value. That's a given. Just like the time Penn & Teller got hundreds of people at a green rally to sign a petition banning water, WATER! Granted, they did engage in "lying by omission". But that was easy. All they had to do was rely on the fact that NO ONE WOULD QUESTION a position that fit with their notions. Even of those notions are demonstrably retarded or naive.

People can feel victimized even when they're not being victimized. People instinctively rally behind ideas, because belonging to something usually trumps reason. We're social primates after all. I won't pretend that our culture doesn't have a load of work to do in leveling the playing field between the sexes and how they are judged. Indeed, any attentive student of history can realize that culture itself exists to amplify the otherwise rather subtle differences between the sexes merely for the sake of social order.

Seriously though. There are bigger fish to fry than Snapchat filters when it comes to equanimity between the sexes, something I feel is intrinsically way more important of a concept than mere equality.

People pounced on this perhaps because it's EASY, not because it's terribly relevant.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Why Dating in the 21 Century Is Ballz

Dating seemed so quaint in the past didn't it?

The young man drives over to your parents house in his first car. He's dressed nice. He has flowers. He knocks politely.

Meanwhile, you've been getting ready for hours! Putting on your best dress, your finest makeup, hair done just so. You bask in your mothers concern, and hope you survive your fathers stern gaze.

You answer the door! Your young man introduces himself to your father and they shake hands. Stern words are politely conveyed about curfew.

The date proceeds with the usual of the day. Dinner and polite small talk. A movie! And what's not to like about being in the dark with a date?!!?!

At best you hold hands, or maybe kiss if this is past the first date or two.

Ah! Blissful innocence.....


Keep in mind that nearly every stage of the above is in actuality servile, juvenile, mean, and designed to reinforce gender roles......roles that no longer really exist. Roles that treated men like department managers, and women as property. It's rather insulting if you think about it.

A man in the past *couldn't* gain access to a female without working hard to prove himself financially. Think it was weird a century ago when it was normal for men to out-age their wives by a decade or more? It was REQUIRED. A man had to establish himself to be "worthy", as well as capable. Women working was, up until recently a HUGE taboo. In the past, women were escorted by men...not because men were nice...but because only maids, the poor, and prostitutes walked alone. You were escorted to broadcast that...well at least you're not a hooker....

Women *had* to put on their best face and be as pretty as possible. Wait too long to get married and you were an old your EARLY 20's!!!!!!! Meanwhile noone really gave too much of a shit if your husband was old, so long as he had cash.

Men and women today, especially in my generation, are playing by these old rules still, and it's utterly fucking stupid.

I recall my Great Aunt Marylee's idyllic life. She married a mechanical engineering professor, and boy did he do well!! He got a WHOLE FRIGGIN MOUNTAIN as his wedding dowry, because his inlaws were wealthy in the textile business! He retired young, and he and she lived out their days doing equestrian training and selling land and timber off of their little mountain, while they lived in a tiny stone cottage near the top.

She was also 13 years old. She was tutored to read and write, and how to be a housewife. She did not attend school. She had her eighth child before she was 22. Her husband was 18 years older than her.

Was her life idyllic? Or was it an intervention from child protective services waiting to happen??


A lifestyle not too far removed from today, was considered perfectly normal...and today it is considered a horrible crime. And yet many of the rules remain, to the detriment of us all.

I've tried really hard to wrap my mind around how nostalgia and social customs seem to distort things. Is it any wonder that men and women have so many failed relationships today? And especially if they look back fondly on the past? That past was actually a nightmare!!

I approach dating in a rather passive way, but I'm a passive (if outspoken) person by nature. I try to make it abundantly clear when I like someone, but I don't push boundaries and I require permission to pursue things like intimacy. Not because I'm shy (I am anything but shy), but rather because I hope to find an adult on the other end of this interest that really understands what the pivotal (though not only reason) to want a relationship actually is.

Relationships are an attempt to find someone to reliably have sex with. Someone to bone! Bump uglies with. Do the horizontal mambo with. FUCK.

Period! :P

That doesn't mean that common interests, common worldview, friendship, or shared values are not also vital....because they most definitely are. But those things are generally requirements in ALL of our friendships and relationships with others on some level. None of those people, however, are ever going to fuck you, nor should they most likely.

I'm a heterosexual, though I think this line of thinking applies regardless of which gonads your fond of.

I actually think non heteronormative relationships seem to have figured this shit out better than many of us "normal" people (I use that term sarcastically). Gay people have at least embraced wholeheartedly and unashamedly that their need for sexual expression is pivotal and vital to their happiness. DUH!

I also think the young in this generation do this better than us more "mature" individuals (hint: maturity is a bullshit story we tell ourselves). Not because they make better choices, per-se. Rather, it's because they have the frivolity of youth to realize that LIVING is kind of a cool thing to do. Risk is a natural part of life, and it's the mature that have that joy beat out of them.

Women? Are you tired of "Netflix and chill"? THEN DONT PUT UP WITH IT. Just don't consider it strange that a guy who likes you wants to sleep with you (hint: that is part of liking you). And don't make the poor guy perform like a circus act with a built in ATM, just to be granted access to your vagina. It's insulting, and your vagina isn't that special. Half the population of the earth has one. He'll move on.

Men? Are you tired of being treated like a portable bank account, wrestling with overly and deliberately vague deflections of your advances that make you feel like you're being strung along by a girls dubious uncertainty? THEN DONT PUT UP WITH IT. Just don't consider any woman owes you anything. Vagina's may be aplenty, but they are NOT YOURS. They belong to someone you actually might like, so try some human decency, respect, and permission. Retain your self worth and pride. And stop with the dick pics already. She knows you have one. :P They are no rarer than the vajayjay! :P

Just have the courage to face who is in front of you. Take chances. Have fun. Live your life! And have as much sex as you want to have. Toss in contraception (American's are REALLY FUCKING STUPID ABOUT makes sex as dangerous as inflating a tire), and just enjoy yourself.

You won't find Mr./Mrs. Right in your first relationship. Maybe not your 20th. You have to be willing to ride that rollercoaster as much and as long as you can till you find what you really want and deserve. Romance novels, old TV shows, sitcoms, romcoms.....these are works of fiction. They use storytelling devices. They are not life guides or textbooks.

Go get laid for cryin out loud. It feels nice! :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Income Inequality

A lot of people genuinely fail to grasp precisely what income inequality entails. And many make the terrible mistake of merely or only looking at median income levels, when in actuality there are many many more dynamics at play.

There was an article in the Wall St. Journal recently delineating the struggles of families with incomes in the $250,000 range. To many WSJ readers the article resonated. But to many on the left it was met with outrage, given the disconnect obvious in the article from where most real families incomes fall.

I think the outrage was uncalled for. Furthermore I think it typifies a fundamental mistake made in the calculus between both of our political parties, and whom they decide to champion. And lastly it fails to acknowledge the real underlying issue of what income inequality actually is, and why we are in this untenable place.

I am a capitalist. I work in the corporate world, unashamedly and unapologetically. As far as I am concerned capitalism is, at its most functional, the greatest single (and obvious) force for peace that exists. And I believe this because it dovetails, again at its most functional, with the most basic of our human instincts, that of cooperation. Human beings are fundamentally tribal in their behaviors, and it is our collective strength as groups of people working together that gave rise to our species dominance on this planet. It is therefore very little of a stretch to realize a simple truth. If you have something I want, and I can get it from you without a risk of violence (which ends badly for the both of us), I have a basis to cooperate with you. It doesn't mean I have to like you. But it does open up an avenue of understanding, and that is how coalitions form and how people LEARN the value of cooperation in scenario's they would not otherwise wish to cooperate. This reality breaks down barriers of geography, race, gender, and culture better than any.

But, I also realize that much of the discussion about markets and how they should be "free" is a whole lot of nonsense. There is no such thing as a free market when you move beyond tribal village sized economies, and we haven't had those for many millenia.

Governments chief role, throughout human history, has been to set the rules of commerce. Rules allow a market to flourish (or to falter if the rules are bad), and rules have to change with the tide of human change. And economic systems are so inordinately complex in the modern world, that they have to be measured and analyzed almost constantly, so that desired outcomes are met.

It is along this line of thinking that we SHOULD be examining issues like income inequality, because the real issue at stake comes down to what sort of society you want to live in. At its most fundamental, the issue is really what sort of world you want.

The struggles of a professional family earning $250,000 a year are real for them, though I completely acknowledge that they are different than the struggles of a family earning $50,000. That doesn't make one less important than the other. And this is key to my discussion here, because it points out a glaring problem in how I view the current political take on this.

The American Dream. That's what this is about. And George Carlin said it best when he said "It's called a dream because you'd have to be asleep to believe it." But that's not the entire story.

A professionally educated couple making that sort of income and raising a family represents a group of people who still believe in the American Dream, primarily because they are the ones who actually have a shot at living it. And why shouldn't they? In many areas of this country that sort of income is required to even hope to live the life typified in the concept of the American Dream. Costs for housing, education, and health care have skyrocketed way beyond mere market inflation in most places in this country, and in a few skyrocket doesn't even begin to describe it.

The rest of us who make far less (my combined household income is less than a quarter of that) could easily become incensed, and deride the "hardships" of those people. But that is shortsighted nonsense.

An easy example for me to cherry-pick in my current experience would be my pharmacy staff. Both of my staff pharmacists make three times what I do, and yet on many matters I get to tell them what to do. I have expertise in operations, procedures, and managerial policy with my company that they lack, and I have the authority to enforce those things. So I have important skills, but my skills are not as specialized nor as market valuable as theirs. I'm a college dropout, and neither one of them are. They *should* make more than me, because their expertise (and how the market values that expertise) determines this.

Both of my pharmacists live objectively better lives than I do, merely from the amount of income they generate. But you have to be honest and realize "better" is also a very subjective term. I have plenty of employees who make much less than I do, so those employees could equally make the same value judgement mistake about me.

Judging ourselves against one another and using incomes as a metric to determine worth as human beings is colossally stupid. More importantly it makes it all too easy to DIVIDE US, and allow us to lose focus on what the real issue should be.

The real issue is figuring out what sort of world we want to live in. What sort of nation we wish to be proud of. What sort of society will we raise our children within.

There will always be a need for people who bake a tasty delicious pizza for you. There will always be a need for a cute and charming waitress to service your table. Do they deserve your scorn and derision because they haven't achieved what you have? Do they deserve to live in poverty despite working hard?

I'm a pretty smart guy, but I'm not Stephen Hawking smart. And I made choices in my youth that I cannot undo without the assistance of a time machine. My income potential still has growth opportunity even at my age, but I cannot kid myself into thinking I'll ever get to the level of making what my staff pharmacists do. Possible, but not likely. Nonetheless I do have skills more valuable to a company and a market than a pizza chef or a waitress, and I feel no guilt in realizing that my compensation is naturally going to be higher than theirs.

But I also acknowledge that I think it is important to live in a world where work is valued. And believe me I have worked in the service industry my whole life, and take offense when someone derides a pizza chefs job or a waitresses job as "easy". On the contrary those are HARD JOBS, and anyone telling you different is not only a fool, but telling you how terribly they view their fellow man.

If the genetic, social, and cultural crapshoot that is being alive had graced me with a substandard intelligence or some other setback, would I deserve poverty? Just remind yourself of the sobering fact that 60 years ago you could feed a family digging holes for a living. Sure, if that's all you could do well, you weren't going to do as well as an investment banker. But you could still take care of yourself.

Today that is impossible. Is that the kind of world you want to live in? Surrounded by people who could keep their dignity if it were only 1953?

Too much of the political and social commentary on this issue has had the WRONG PEOPLE angry at the WRONG PEOPLE. And I'll quote George Carlin again, because it is precisely the reason why we get this whole situation ass backwards.

"The rich pay almost none of the taxes, make almost all of the money. The middle class pays most of the taxes, makes almost none of the money. The poor? Exist to scare the shit out of the middle class, keep em' showin up at those jobs!"

Those on the left, and indeed way more so on the right, are angry at the wrong people. And this is precisely because so few people grasp what the word rich even means. To a single mother with two kids living in government housing, that $250,000 a year making family is rich....but only to her. $250,000 is not rich, not anymore.

People don't really understand the math of this. And it is precisely because the abbreviations we use to get rid of zero's when we speak about big numbers obscure our ability to innately grasp them. Billions and Trillions are very simple words to say, but they represent almost unfathomable amounts of money to the average person. They simply cannot figure out how to wrap their mind around those numbers when they are expressed in real terms.

Here is an improbable for instance. Bill Gates, who at the moment is worth $79 Billion dollars. Let's assume for the sake of argument he could instantly liquidate that worth into cash. Imagine him just deciding for shits and giggles that he was going to give away a million dollars a day every day for as long as it took for him to go broke.

He would have to live another 216 years before that happened.

And his wealth is in total only about 6% of what we spent as a nation on a plane that can't fly (The F35). The richest man in the world isn't even a dent in the decisions governments make all the time.

Our economy is staggeringly large, so large that few people who even graduated high school can easily grasp the sheer mathematics of it, despite the math itself being very simple.

A small handful of individuals in this country, Bill Gates among them, own more than 270 million Americans do. A group so elite and tiny that they represent less people than I have in my store on a slow Tuesday.

The accumulation of weath isn't necessarily a bad thing. You want more than you have, and so do I. But there comes a point when wealth becomes meaningless as an individual. For you and I it would probably not come anywhere close to Bill Gates's net worth.

At what point do we say that we'd rather live in a society where people can still be rich, but the least among us can feed themselves?

I think it is clear that we have reached the point to where we MUST be asking this question. And we must realize that it is a conversation vital to saving the world we want to live in.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

What You Don't Know About Immigration

Trumplicans (I think I just coined a new phrase!!) are being convinced that the number one threat to our economy and future are immigrants.

And I won't lie. Our immigration policies are terrible. But not terrible in the way you think, or for the reasons you believe. I suppose this is why we can get so easily distracted by the utterly harmless Syrian refugees (people react to what happens in the moment) and not see the larger picture.

Most Americans (and indeed some of my friends) don't dig deep enough, or think hard enough. It's time for another soapbox session! Listen up!!

Immigration (the legal kind) is a perfect storm of two terrible ideologies that agree with one another for entirely different reasons.

Democrats in Congress want more immigrants, because they typically vote Democrat. And most legal immigrants put less of a burden on our social welfare systems than natural born citizens do. That's just a fact. It is still a burden because of the growth, but not per-capita. The #1 drain on social programs is white americans in the south. Yup! (remember minorites...are minorites...because their are less of them....math people! :P)

Republicans in Congress want more immigrants (though they claim not to) because the H1B Visa program allows us to import skilled engineers, doctors, scientists.....that, because they come from countries that typically have wide income inequality, can be paid less....because they are not accustomed to things American's used to take for granted. Like pensions, extended benefits, etc...

On the liberal side it's a mix of bleeding hearts and hunger for votes. On the conservative side it's more cynical. It gets business highly skilled cheaper labor...and gives their conservative base something easy to get angry about (that their Republican politicians helped create), thereby stupidly giving them carte-blanc to continue dismantling what little labor protections we have left (it's the gubmints less gubmit.....this equals less rights for you and me too...duh)

Democrats and Republicans have flip flopped their roles in this a bit the last 40 years, I won't deny that. But right now it's conservative Republicans driving the legislative bus, and they're all over this like a hobo on a ham sandwich...regardless of what they say in speeches.

Politically it thus becomes a scramble between who's strategy works best from a purely political standpoint. It's all about votes, election cycles, lobbying, and that cushy job after congress.

Why? Because our political process is bought and sold by the wealthy. If you haven't realized this by now..........well....

George Carlin said it best. "The Rich make all the money, pay almost none of the taxes. The middle class make almost none of the money, pay all the taxes.....The poor? Exist to scare the shit out of the middle class. Keep em showin up at those jobs!"

Immigration isn't the actual problem. The numbers are a problem (the projected numbers going forward are clearly unsustainable), but a deliberately created one....

The actual problem with immigrants is twofold.

1). Why are H1B Visa programs bringing in skilled workers? Because even if we did invest in trade & technical education (something we desperately need), American's would demand fair compensation. Foreigners will settle for less....because it's freakin America!!! Who wouldn't want to come to the land of the free, when yesterday you lived in a warzone? And no...not every H1B Visa holder came from a war zone. Only some did. But most come from far less progressive countries. You don't see mass immigration from Sweden! :P

But did you know that foreign looking doctor at Doctors Care, with the imprecise English (apart from having as credible a medical education....and apart from likely being Hindi or Muslim ..yeah about 10% of all doctors in the U.S. currently are Muslim) makes little more than what I do running a grocery store? I sell potatoes....They manage your health....I dropped out of college...They have doctorate degrees. Wrap your mind around that! Hospitals LOVE THEM. They're cheaper than some nurses!!

2). Illegal immigrants come here because there are jobs for them. And it's not "jobs that Americans's wont do". That's a stupid argument. The more correct argument is that it's "jobs employers would get in a lot of trouble over if their employees weren't illegal". Citizens have rights. Illegals have almost none. So they are EXPLOITABLE. Most illegal immigrants pay taxes, because it's easy to avoid E-Verify (Dept Of Homeland Security citizenship or legal status checks) if you're a small time contractor with under 50 employees (you're not legally required to)....but good luck dodging the IRS. So illegals (who cannot claim welfare benefits though their natural born chidren can) get to pay taxes into a society and reap almost none of the benefits. You think mexicans are born carpenters??!??!?!? No....but most construction of that type is small, under 50 employee operations....ON PURPOSE.

Immigrants aren't the problem. Two faced politics (mostly by Republicans, but Democrats share blame) designed to keep businesses happy, and keep citizens focused on something to be angry about, while your labor rights (rights your parents and grandparents built their lives on) get whittled away...are the problem.

And it goes deeper.

It's a good strategy if you want to EXTRACT wealth from an economy, and protect that same economy from inflation...thereby allowing you to KEEP DOING IT for far longer.

That's what 35 years worth of Reaganomics have done. Less people than shop in my store on a slow Tuesday (400) now own the combined wealth equivalent to the bottom half of the American population. Immigrants (and terrible trade policy that encourages moving jobs overseas) allow all this money to silently move to the top tenth of a percent of Americans, because it helps keep things CHEAP, so we can avoid the inflation that ....every other country in the world has had to cope with.

Without the immigrant "solution" we'd have seen pitchforks by now.


This reality is why I support Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton (and her husband) have earned many millions from large financial institutions in public speaking fees, not to mention the shedloads of money poured into her campaign. Do you really want someone like that, who makes a living speaking to the very institutions that tanked our economy and led to the loss of trillions in actual wealth?

Trump? He survives on favorable tax incentives and favorable bankruptcy protection, and foreign investors. He's not beholden to the Republican party, but he is beholden to the underlying system that kept him rich...and got us here. He's a master manipulator, not a business expert.

The rest? Well Cruz is actually a bit more frightening than Trump, but in general all the rest are bankrolled by Wall Street and the system that got us here. Trust them at your peril, unless you like how things are.

Bernie isn't a Presidential candidate, at least not in the way we typically think of one. He's a movement. Even if you do not agree with all of his politics...hell even if you barely agree with any of it, he is beholden to NONE of the system that got us to this point.

He is forcing a change in the way we view this entire conversation, and it is both good and long overdue.

Back to the main point here.....even if I think this segue was necessary.

We should openly accept Syrian refugees...any refugees....they are REFUGEES. To not accept them is morally reprehensible. That is a SEPERATE ARGUMENT from the problems with immigration. :)

/soapbox mode off