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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sorry To Have To Tell You, But If You Can't Afford Kids, You Probably Shouldn't Have So Many

Someone said that if rats are placed in cramped quarters with limited resources, they'll start having babies, and that humans do the same thing. I generally agree, but I would point out that one major difference between humans and rats is that rats don't know how babies get made.

The problem began with cramming the poor into tiny spaces, but personal responsibility comes into play at some juncture. In a generation or two, you can no longer say that the poor don't grasp that if they are confined to their tiny existences, but they have more and more kids, their already meager resources will be spread thinner and thinner. 

I do believe that it's the responsibility of the rich to help the poor, but the poor can't completely exculpate themselves from making their situations worse by continuing to point the finger at others and say, "They did it!" In fact, this is what most of us are saying right now about the other side and how they treat the President. 

If I grow up in a one-parent household with three kids on a no-kid income and see the results of having to do that, it doesn't make me seem very responsible - or bright - to do the same thing myself.

I grew up poor. I've spent my entire life working for every single thing that I have. And I've made my own mistakes along the way, but repeating those that I watched my family make wasn't among them, for the most part, because I can learn from others' mistakes, too.

Just because you want 3 kids doesn't mean that you should have 3 kids if you can't afford to pay for them. I see this in my own community; some redneck living in a trailer whose walls you can see daylight through, with an $8000 four-wheeler in the front yard, beer cans everywhere, $12,000 worth of guns (this is not a joke; I know this family!) a beer can permanently - it seems - attached to their hands any time they're not at work - and that includes the ones 13 and older - and 6 kids, 5 of whom you and I support.

We live on an already-overcrowded planet whose resources we're using up at an unsustainable rate. You can bet the farm that the UHNWIs have already planned for natural (or unnatural, since we're causing it) population decline in the age of global warming, something which they publicly deny because they're invested in it, but which root-cause investments they're quietly but quickly divesting themselves of in order to grab a slice of the growing green economy. They're also planning for it, buying homes and properties in cooler, wetter climates at higher latitudes and altitudes (I beat them to it!), laughing all the way to the bank at people whose Fock Snooze-deluded priorities are keeping them behind in the stagnating fossil fuel/global warming-denial economies. 

They want the poor to turn on themselves and eat their own. The sooner, the better...for the wealthy. The sooner the poor are out of the picture, the sooner they won't be using resources that will then be available not just for a century, but because of the lowered demand, maybe for another millennium, giving the much, much smaller - and far wealthier - surviving population the chance to adapt to the new normal, a paradigm wherein automation and machine autonomy coupled with artificial intelligence will make labor obsolete. 

All that will happen on the backs of the poor. The more kids the poor have, the poorer they will remain, the more malleable they will be. They'll require money they have to borrow from the wealthy to buy food produced, transported, and sold by the wealthy. They'll need fuel for transportation and heating that they'll have to purchase from the wealthy. And they'll be killing each other to get it because there will be X number of people but only 1/2X resources to go around.

So, at some point, personal responsibility has to come home to roost with the poor, and they have to quit pointing the finger of blame at everyone else for the continuation of their poverty. It only takes one generation to fix it. Just one. Some guys will just have to face the fact that their family's line ends with them; that's the new normal. They're going to have to learn to adopt the same notion that Europeans and many Asians have had to adopt long ago, as well as many Americans: It takes a village to raise a child. And that means, 'even if it's not mine.'

I know what it's like to be poor. I also know what it's like to pull myself out of poverty using my own personal resources - determination, perspiration, and inspiration - because I had no others to fall back on. Poverty isn't a condition of race; it's a condition of the lack of money and opportunity, and poor Latinos, Asians, Whites, Blacks, and Native Americans all suffer it equally; it affects communities only as it affects individuals in a collective manner.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Luckier Than Most: 67 People Own More Wealth Than the Bottom 3.5 BILLION Earthlings

"The 67 People As Wealthy As The World's Poorest 3.5 Billion" - link to Forbes article

67 people own more wealth than half the planet's population. 

Imagine what the average quality of life would be if that wealth were more equally distributed.

No one needs even ONE billion dollars. But if our system had a cap so that a person had to divest his wealth after hitting that, or even better, restructure the cost of his goods or services and increase the rate he paid his workers, then equality would be more even.

There will come a day when humans are no longer required to work. When that day comes, and it's approaching far faster than most people think - it won't happen in my lifetime, but it might in some of yours - then humans will by necessity have to be taken care of. 

To achieve that goal, there are two probable routes. One is to allow the status quo to remain, and see the rise of an Elysium type world where the UHNWIs ( link to Wikipedia UHNWI article ) own everything and the poor get the scraps of what's left over, having to fight for it in a Hunger Games world, or worse. 

But the other route is more Star Trekesque: A world where people are freed from the drudgery of a 9-5 or even worse, a hot, hazardous job of rote work monotony that takes its toll on the collective human psyche, erasing creativity and dulling the senses. 

Imagine a world where people are free to pursue intellectual goals that benefit humankind. There will always be those who scoff, but just a hundred years ago, the assembly line wasn't created, computer technology didn't exist, and women didn't have the right to vote (and still don't in some places). 

Reality will probably play out somewhere between the two, but what might drive us as a race will be the climate change that we ourselves have set into motion. We may need every human who can to work on solving the problem while our automation builds, farms, and does the menial work now done by...well, in the US...immigrants. 

I'd rather see a world closer to Star Trek than Elysium. But the 67 billionaires I cited earlier will fight that tooth and nail, as will other UHNWIs.

I count myself luckier than most, but I'll still fight for better. For everyone.

Thursday, September 11, 2014 Yet another gay site that excludes many rural gays

Yet another gay site that elides the fact that 18% of the population of the US resides in rural areas. Go through their city list for Georgia and you'll find NOTHING in rural northeast Georgia.

Having lived in large cities - Atlanta, NYC, Munich, Seoul, Houston, Portland - much of my life, I know that they're magnets for gays from the most remote of areas who often want to connect with the people they love back home: Their friends who also use the same site. But, sites like Moovz don't seem to wish to have those people participate, or if they do, they have to choose a random city an hour or more away, and often have to choose between random cities, none of which make any sort of geographic sense because of the distance, and therefore get lost to their friends and acquaintances who give up looking for them online.

I'm sure the folks behind these sites would say that they reach some high percentage of the population, but think about this for a moment: The ones left out in the cold because of this behavior are the ones ALWAYS left out in the cold. They're the same people, over and over, who basically get a hand held up indicating to them that they don't matter on these sites.

I've heard from some that I've written to about it - one being one of the Top 3 gay know, the one with the orange themed background - whose responses are so hilariously off-topic that even a cursory glance shows that they didn't bother to read your request. Or, like that same orange-themed site, will have some bizarro geographics (check out Georgia's geographic breakout on it when you need a good laugh - overlapping areas using terms created by a state tourism department which NO ONE actually uses. One city will be in one named area, and the next over will be in a different one, but then the one past that city will be in the same area as the first city..?!?!)

Occasionally you'll get a response from other users like, "Well move then!", but they completely fail to grasp that your career is often tied to the area you live in. There aren't many farms in the middle of cities. There are no mines in the middle of cities in the US that I know of. Timber isn't cut for lumber or fiber in many cities. So, the very people who bring you your food, your mined minerals (to create things like the gadgets this very technology operate on), and the building materials that built the buildings you reside in are wholly forgotten. Again. And again. And again. Ad nauseum.

OK, if you launch with a non-inclusive list, that's fixable. That orange-themed site added a few towns...after years of requesting them, although they have one town in Georgia - Fitzgerald - listed as being in the Atlanta metro area when in reality it's 175 miles away, so they're listening, just not very well. And they're clearly too distracted to simply google it.

On almost any gay site, there is a gulf of philosophical difference between rural and urban gays, and without a doubt, the majority of that can be laid right in the laps of our urban-residing brethren. It would be nice to have a fabric of unity that stretches from coast to coast, but you can't achieve that if you have giant holes of exclusion in the very areas where the products that sustain you come from. True, there is animosity going both directions, but I remember a time when rural gays looked for support from their urban peers, and got nothing, despite the fact that rural gays showed up at Prides all across the republic - and yes, I'm aware that Prides are usually civic ventures. But the support comes from the community, as far out as it reaches. Now though, with our online lives becoming increasingly important to us, the support that rural gays showed is not only not reciprocated, it's shunned by virtue of exclusion from participating in any community-oriented - and I mean the rural communities in which we live - sort of way. If I don't have the tool to round up a group of my local gays readily available, then it will be difficult to get them together at all.

The old used to do a stellar job of giving everyone - urban, suburban, exurban, or rural - a chance, a place, and a tool that might act as...pardon the Tolkienism..."One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them".

Every time I hear of a new gay site launch, I hope it will give us that chance. It seems like Moovz isn't that site, but I won't rule it out. Yet.