Welcome to 2010. I keep waiting for someone to speak truth to power. No, I'm not talking about speaking our minds to those we elected or to those they appointed. There's plenty of that going around. Rather I'm talking about speaking truth to the real power in America: We the American People. That would be you and me.
When it comes to us we like being stroked. So here's what few (if any) political leaders, or commentators will say. (Can I "prove" I'm right about any of this? Of course not.) But I do know that there is too much not being said by too many people. And so do you, even if your list of what's not being said and/or how to fix it disagrees with mine.
Some of our real problems...
.... in no particular order. And I know some of this list is wrong. It must be because we all get a lot wrong. But if half of this makes some sense to you and starts a conversation on what truly ails us that can't all be blamed on others -- so much the better. (Sorry if your particular "ox" gets gored. Maybe it's time it was.)
- We're a trivialized entertainment-orientated culture making ourselves too dumb and distracted to function
- Most behavioral medication for children is a parental/educator cop out -- a pharmaceutical industry/psychologist industry abusive bonanza
- Kids raised watching TV/laptop/game screens have short attention spans (where do you think all these new learning/behavior disabilities are coming from?)
- The profit motive - say that Amtrak must turn a "profit" - destroys the idea of public space and public institutions - say a good rail system like that of all European countries - so our infrastructure has slowly eroded and been destroyed
- The rich get richer and the poor get poorer and this is the "American way"
- Our schools look like prisons
- The teacher's union protects teachers not students and the Democratic Party has sold out to them
- Big time American religion breeds hate and is tax-deductible and the Republican Party has sold out to the churches
- Progressives spend inordinate amounts of time trying to prove that internet porn is okay when - much as we all are enjoying it - we all also know that something weird and maybe destructive to childhood development has happened through the marriage of the internet and porn. No-- this isn't about censorship! This is about where and how porn is delivered and to whom
- Right Wing ideologues are anti-gay bigots, racist, misogynist and are given access to vast audiences through radio, TV and Fox (and other) far Right outlets
- Right wing bigots - say the anti-Obama evangelical and Roman Catholic leadership comparing him to Hitler because he's for stem-cell research -- are in effect trawling for assassins
- Our "all volunteer" military is becoming an all mercenary force working with an actual mercenary force since our military's dirty little secret is that without "outsourcing" it can't function because it's so stretched
- We don't care about children because if we did religious loons would not be allowed to home school and indoctrinate their helpless offspring
- If we wanted to really embrace new green technologies we'd have a 2 dollar a gallon gas tax
- If we wanted educated balanced happy children allowing a child to watch TV before age 5 would be classified as child abuse (and I'm not talking about "bad" or "good" programs, I'm talking about cognitive development since a child needs to connect with the real world before "connecting" with the filtered fast cut TV "world" , be that Sesame Street or other "childrens'" programming)
- If we wanted happy families we'd have mandatory fully paid leave for new mothers and fathers for 1 year after the birth of any child
- If we cared about the life of our towns we'd have density and urban mixed-use zoning everywhere and residential sprawl "development" would be illegal
- If we cared about child development, how boys learn to treat women, and sexual satisfaction throughout life -- we'd balance free speech against children being exposed to commercials, and limit access of advertisers to TV, public spaces like billboards and get porn off the internet and back in stores and theaters where owners can discriminate related to a potential client's age-appropriate status, just as they do when selling cigarettes and alcohol
- If we cared about education no universities and colleges would have sports teams
- If we cared about education we'd ban personal computers and cell phones, i Pods etc., (i.e., personal entertainment centers) from all schools K through 12
- If we cared about education we'd teach art, music, drama, dance, creative writing, history and geography as well as at least two "foreign" languages from kindergarten up
- If we cared about teens we'd offer sex education from age 6 and up and contraceptives from age 12 and up along with moral instruction -- not to be confused with "abstinence only" religious moralist sermons -- but rather real and sane life lessons about what sex is, why it's great when loving and committed, and what lies the fashion industry, the cosmetic industry and the media industry portray in terms of intimacy, love and friendship and self-image
- If progressives wanted to be taken seriously our websites would not be increasingly dominated by entertainment/celebrity "news"
- Even "serious" progressive websites are so saturated with society gossip and commercialism -- another article on the "new" rage in anal sex, weight loss, nipple piercing, or a day-in-the-life-of-a-porn-star anyone? -- that it's difficult to take anything therein seriously
- If right wing sites wanted to speak to anyone but dumb white bigots they'd tell inconvenient truths, say about the massive failure of conservative evangelical religion to do more than cheer for hate and mindless consumerism
- If religion wanted to be taken seriously it would stop trying to direct the political debate from the point of view of this or that faith and ask that elected officials be loyal to the Constitution first and to their religion second
- If atheists wanted to be taken seriously they'd admit that so far atheism has not got a very good track record when it comes to human rights -- from Stalin and Pol Pot et al, to the 1920s eugenics movement
If America wanted to prosper and compete instead of waiting for Obama to walk on water and fix everything, we would:
- Turn off the TV
- Turn off the entertainment functions of our laptops, phones and what have you and read a book
- Save not spend
- Health care would be universal, and single payer... now
- Elections would be paid for from public funds and political fund raising and paid lobbying made illegal
- Elections would be limited to 6 weeks
- We'd build great new infrastructure
- Fire bad teachers
- Use public transport
- Stop buying crap from Wal Mart made in China
- Use locally grown food and pay more for it
- Ban all but actual hunting rifle and shotgun ownership and strictly issue licenses for those weapons that would be updated and reissued (or not) every five years just like a driver's license
- Cut the size of our defense establishment in half
- Open our borders to any immigrant with a higher education degree in any science
- We'd impose a 90% wealth tax on all earnings (say over 250.000 dollars per family) until our national deficit was paid down and fund health care and a total infrastructure revamp and rebuild our schools with the money left over
- We'd no longer hire teachers trained by teaching colleges (the demonstrably second rate and failed training schools) but hire the best, brightest, most innovative and creative people we could find from all walks of life (as do the top private high schools that feed the elite colleges)
- We'd ban the use of "contractors" by the US military and live within the means of our all volunteer force and/or have a draft
- If we didn't have the political will for a draft we'd no longer fight wars that didn't have the support of the American people
- Gerrymandering would be stopped
- Child molesters and rapists would be locked up for life without parole
- Marijuana would be legalized
- Rehab would be our only "war" on drug users
What do you think are the real issues confronting us?
Do you agree that our political leadership - across the board - and our talking heads - Left and Right, let alone the mainstream media, are mostly too jaded and/or cowardly to actually speak truth? If so add to this list. Argue with me and/or refute me. But let's put non-ideologically-driven, let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may reality on the front burner in 2010.