A couple months ago, I wrote about why DUIs are so common, citing that the authorities don’t really care about stopping it. It is a cash cow for the state. The state wants more drivers to get convicted of expensive crimes. Since then, the state of Arizona has gone on to make lives easier for drunk drivers. They have now dropped the ignition interlock requirement for DUI offenders, leaving the decision to judges. The very concept that could be vital to stopping all drunk driving offenses just became even less common. Consider Arizona roads more dangerous now.
To think that the government wouldn’t care about such a thing as drunk driving makes everyone mad. Some people are mad that the government wouldn’t care, while others get mad at people like me for the affront to the American way of life by even bringing up bad thoughts.
But the proof is in the pudding. Consider these five examples.
1. Student loan debt crisis
In the 1980s, federal support of educational institutions dwindled, so tuitions started to rise. Now, federal aid can’t come close to matching the tuition rates leaving students to borrow more and more. Plus, college education is mandatory for getting a job, so even though students have less money for college, they are forced into enrolling anyway.
The crux of the issue, recent grads are not getting jobs, at least not very good ones. Why is it required to go to college if 44% of graduates end up working in non-degree required jobs? Or if 20% of grads work in low wage jobs and 23% more work part-time jobs? Making little to no money to be able to afford to live makes it hard to pay back the $35,000 average debt that graduates pay for their diploma.
In light of all that, the last statistic on the Pew Research list shouldn’t be surprising. With each generation, students are feeling less like their education was worth it. Only 62% of millennials think that college was worth it, though another 26% are hopeful that it will be. Let that sink in. Something mandatory for future success in life and 38% of graduates aren’t sure it’s worth it.
The fact that grads are so in debt is also making it’s mark on the stagnant economy. There is no movement for growth when all the money goes to pay one bill. That’s essentially what hoarding all the wealth does to a country. The fact is that students are in dire need of help, and the economy certainly needs the help as well, yet nothing is being done to improve education. Sure, it has been a talking point during this presidential election, but it has been a talking point before and nothing has ever been done except making the issue worse.
2. Unions are dead and with them goes the middle class
The reason so many recent graduates have low wage jobs is because that’s most of the jobs that are available. Perhaps it’s okay that Americans work for lower hourly wages, since they also work more hours. Then again, there are no benefits such as employer health care and pensions. The root cause is because workers are no longer organized with no representation from unions.
And this is only the beginning of the exploitation of the working class. Unions give incentives for things like better working conditions and upward mobility. Meanwhile, corporations try to stop unions at all costs. Obviously the government could find a way to help the issue because they do well in unionizing their own workers. 49% of government employees have union representation versus the general population with about 13% union representation.
Again, this is more money not going back into the economy. It’s money being hoarded by corporations to the detriment of the country overall and nothing is being done except making the issue worse.
3. Prison system
If there is one thing America does better than any other nation, it is to imprison people. Even though the US has only 5% of the world’s population, they have 25% of the world’s prison population. The per capita rate is two and half times more than Iran, and almost six times more than China. The second highest prison population is in Russia, but even they have barely more than half the prisoners the US does.
The reasons can be attributable to draconian mandatory minimum sentence laws, three strikes you’re out policy and the endless drug wars. As the APA article explains, these sentencing patterns are not even based on data or some plan, they are simply off the cuff policy decisions that only worked to increase the for-profit prison industry.
While the US is busy locking up 1% of the adult population, they are digging the hole deeper for being able to compete with the world later. Nothing goes together with a poor education system like an overblown prison system. Instead of spending the $60 billion per year on, say, education, the US spends $60 billion per year to exacerbate mental health crisis and homeless populations because very little of that budget goes toward rehabilitation, which is ostensibly the reason prisons exist in the first place.
Take a look at the statistics of crime rates and ask if the prison system is worth any of the money spent on it. The US needs major prison reform immediately, unfortunately it has only been minor reform over the past several years.
4. Healthcare and pharmaceuticals
If America is losing the illegal drug war, they are really getting schooled in the legal drug war. Cancer can never be cured because drug companies wouldn’t be able to extort the American public anymore. Pharmaceutical corporations don’t charge based off the cost of the medicine, they charge based on what the market will bear.
Prices in the US far exceed prices for the same drugs in Europe, for example. These social health care countries may build price controls into the system, such price caps or refusing to cover medications that are overpriced. Also, those governments are the primary buyer. In the US, private corporations and middlemen really muck up the system. What’s really maddening is that the US’s largest medication buyer, Medicare, is legally forbidden from negotiating prices.
There is really no reason why prescription drugs in the US need to cost two or three times more than other countries. Then again, there is no reason that insurance or hospital visits should be way more expensive. With a divided two party system that just wrecks each other’s plans for improving things like health care, don’t ever expect this situation to improve. Americans will all die sick, miserable and alone. Poor Americans will anyway.
5. Gun ownership
I understand the second amendment is sacred and don’t want to trash it, but there are important issues not being considered.
In Port Arthur, Australia, there was a mass shooting in 1996 that killed 35 people and injured 23 more. The incident led to strict gun laws. Australia has seen no mass shootings since. In Littleton, Colorado, there was a mass shooting in 1999 that killed 13 people and injured 24 more. There were some background check regulations put into place, but no real substantive changes were made. America has seen 54 mass shootings since.
If you can stomach it, Washington Post has a detailed look back at many of the mass shootings in America over the last 50 years. To get even more detailed, the Gun Violence Archive has a six page spreadsheet just to account for all the mass shooting in the US in 2016 alone.
The simple fact of the statistics are that, per capita, the US has three times more guns than the next country. The US also has, per capita, three times more gun deaths than the next country. A clear majority of people are sick of the violence in America, but few are even willing to have the discussion, much less come to an agreement on a solution.
55% of Americans think gun control laws need to be stricter, which is a good deal higher than the 41% of Americans that actually own guns.
As the other four issues mentioned do their part to further mental disorders, easy access to guns will continue making sure the deranged people are carrying out violent acts. Yet, for some reason, more than enough people seem to think that access to assault weapons is crucial to our way of life. So, the government sits on it’s hands and doesn’t care that measures need to be taken.
Not to speak too soon, but it looks like the Democrats in Congress are actually holding the floor until some real action takes place. Maybe having a more deadly shooting than the Port Arthur one sent some shock waves. Thankfully, also, President Obama has circumvented Congress enough to install some stopgaps in regards to funding for more federal officers and access to mental health care. However, as can be seen, Americans really love prisons and guns, and really hate education, health care and paying a livable wage. So, more extreme violence will happen. Oh, and it will be pinned on foreigners because America also loves international warfare.
If the government cared about the people, they would pass laws based on what the people desire.
A graph by Princeton professors who studied public opinion and the law found out that on causes that all Americans care about, Congress passed a law 30% of the time. Likewise, on causes that no Americans care about, Congress passed a law 30% of the time. The reason, the article points out is the legal extortion system that lobbyists of rich businessmen use to get favorable laws passed for themselves.
This fact is so ingrained in our culture that we take it for granted. One of George Carlin’s most revered diatribes, from 2005 on the Life Is Worth Losing DVD, surmised,
“Politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom. You don’t. You have owners… They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking… You know what they want? Obedient workers. People who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it…They don’t care about you, at all.”
As Carlin suggested, this will never change. The best advice he could give us, “Be happy with what you got.”