That Oh So Slippery Slope

Posted: March 21, 2015 in Miscellaneous
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Why are you people just sitting there watching while we suffer the worst of fates, going down the slippery slope??!!

Why are you people just sitting there watching while we suffer the worst of fates, going down the slippery slope??!!

I was watching the “tele” the other day (sort of….it was on and I was half way paying attention) and there was a discussion of a proposed ban of a type of armor-piercing bullet.  The proponent for not banning the ammo (probably a NRA guy), after hemming and hawing for a bit, said that we shouldn’t allow this ban because if we did, who is to say we don’t ban other kinds of ammo….ultimately all ammo I suppose (see, Obama is not going to take your guns away, just your bullets….so clever).  And that got me thinking, with the same logic being used for not allowing same-sex marriage (because then you would have to allow dogs to marry cats and all sorts of terrible things), that man, EVERYTHING is a slippery slope!   I see it so clearly now!

  • We have established speed limits on our highways and streets.  But it’s a slippery slope.  Soon we’ll have speed limits of 20 mph, then 10 mph, then 5 mph.  You won’t be able to get anywhere!   But but but then we raised interstate speeds from 55 to 65 to 70 mph.  Oh no!  Now it’s going the other way!!!!  It’s going to be 100 mph, then 200 mph, then to ludicrous speed!!!!   Every road will be the Talladega Superspeedway!!!!   Speed limits were a terrible idea!
  • Employers can’t discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, etc.  Oh what’s next?  Soon you won’t be able to discriminate on the basis of education, experience, and skill set either.  Every job and every promotion will become first come, first serve!  Damn you anti-discrimination laws and the slippery slope!
  • At first only white men were allowed to vote.  But then black men were also allowed to vote.  And then women were allowed to vote too.  You can see where this is going.  It’s only a matter of time before children are allowed to vote.  And then babies!   And then will come the pets.  Then sloths.  Most definitely sloths.  Do we really want sloths electing the next President?  Why oh why did we even allow anyone the right to vote to begin with?
  • We have laws that says you can’t just take property from other people.  Sure, that sounds ok.  But who is to say that next you can’t take property from other people, even if they want to give it to you for exchange of cash?   Oh no, it’s the slope and, yep, it’s slippery!  It would be the collapse of the whole free market system!!!!   Oh no!!!!  How has this not happen yet?  Sure, nobody wants that, but the slope cannot be denied!

It is clear, once you try to establish rules and laws, it’s a slippery slope that can only lead to anarchy.   Better to not establish any rules or laws at all……huh, which is anarchy.  Crap.  This can’t possibly be some logical fallacy.  I’ll have to think on it some more.

Alabama The Beautiful?

Posted: March 8, 2015 in Miscellaneous
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(Fine Print:  Hearts may be excluded.)

(Fine Print: Hearts may be excluded.)

One of Alabama’s state slogans is “Alabama The Beautiful”.  But lately, whenever I hear the phrase “In Alabama….” in the media, I just cringe because I just know that what is about to follow is not going to be good.  I mean, just look at how Alabama makes the news:

  • In Alabama, the state supreme court ordered the state’s probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.  This despite a federal judge’s ruling to the contrary, and despite that the U.S. Supreme Court denied the state’s request for a stay on the federal judge’s ruling.  In order to keep discriminating against a class of people, the state court is literally trying to overrule federal courts.   I guess given this state’s history, there are expectations that have to be kept?
  • In Alabama, police beat up an Indian grandfather to the point of leaving him paralyzed.  His crime was apparently going for a walk in the wrong neighborhood.
  • In Alabama, the state has the stingiest Medicaid income cutoff in the nation.  If you’re a non-disabled family of 4 that makes over $3,221 annually, well, you’re out of luck.
  • In Alabama, if you lose an arm in a working accident, it’s worth only $48,000 and some change.  The most you can get for lost wages for ANY injury is $11,440 annually.  And if you lose your arm, payments end after four years.  It matters not what your job and training is.
  • In Alabama, there is not a single dam inspector or any safety program at all (the only state not to have one).  But no worries.  There are only, like, 2200 dams in Alabama.  They won’t fail I’m sure (they do fail) because they are built to the highest standards despite the lack of regulation (they aren’t).  It’s only lives and property at the end of the day…pfft, not important.

I could go on and on.  For a state to proclaim itself to be beautiful, it sure does a lot of ugly things.

Roy Moore - Patron Saint of the no more marriage movement!

Roy Moore – Patron Saint of the no more marriage movement!

So I have read that our illustrious Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the great state of Alabama has spoken out against the recent federal judge ruling against the ban of gay marriage in this state.  Justice Roy Moore says that if you recognize gay marriage, next thing you know you are going to have to recognize marriage between multiple partners or even incestial marriage.  I must admit, the logic is undeniable.  Let me go on to say (which I know Moore would have said if he had more time) that as we proceed, we would soon after have to officially recognize marriage between cats and dogs; Marge and Homer Simpson; if and buts and candy and nuts (and no Merry Christmas’s for ANYONE!); rainbows and unicorns; and MORE.  That’s not a world I want to live in, do you?

The only problem with Moore’s argument is that he didn’t take it back to the very start.  After all, when we started allowing marriage between one man and one woman, that’s when we started down this oh so slippery slope!   And now look at what’s happened!  Alabama became the 37th state where either gay marriage is either outright recognized by law or where bans on gay marriage have been struck down.  It’s only a matter of time before it’s all 50.  It is time to admit that this social experiment called marriage has failed, and all the warnings about “slippery slope” have come true.  The only way I can see not to fall down the slope (as slick as it is) is to never start down the path.

Besides, even the Bible seems to indicate marriage is a slippery slope.  Luke 16:18 says “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery“.   One thing I know about marriage is that it’s definitely the one thing that can lead to divorce.  May be best not to even start down that road.  Also 1 Corinthians 7:1-2 says “…It is good for a man not to marry….”.  That’s good enough for me! (I may be cherry-picking…..i.e. what everyone seems to like to do with the Bible.)

OR…alternatively, maybe we could all just chill out about the prospect of gay marriage.  Change can be scary, but one constant is that society is always evolving.  And usually it’s ultimately for the better, even if it takes the benefit of hindsight (or even the passing of generations) to see it (think back to slavery or even the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s and beyond).  Then maybe think about what harm will actually come to you and others, real actual harm, if gay marriage is allowed.  Also think about what harm will come to you and others if gay marriage is not allowed.  For me personally, I am usually going to land on the side of freedom if I don’t think it’s going to actually harm anyone, particularly if the alternative does seem to harm others.

2/4/2015 Update:  When I published this article, little did I know that apparently some were taking option number one seriously.  A Chilton County judge has decided he is just going to stop performing marriage ceremonies, period.

Christmas

Posted: December 21, 2014 in Miscellaneous

christmas tree

I actually had been planning for a while to write an article on a different subject.  I thought today was going to be the day to write it.  It would have been about certain (in my mind anyway) injustices that had been bothering me. It would be snarky but hopefully a little bit funny too.  But it would also been one of those things where half the people reading would have been ‘right on man!’ and the other half would have been ‘what an idiot!’.  Maybe I’ll write that article down the road, but with Christmas being just a few days away, it just didn’t feel right.

Instead I’m going to take a different tack.  A common phrase during this time of year is “peace on earth, goodwill toward men”.   I think a good place to start living this phrase is through empathy.  Too often when I hear some people characterize others viewpoints or actions, I have to think ‘surely they don’t really think that’s the other person’s viewpoint or rationale behind that viewpoint?’.  Because if that really was the other viewpoint, that would make the other person really evil.  And while a very few are evil, most people are simply not.  Certainly not enough to make up whole political parties and their electorate, or whole organizations.  So I think if we go back to empathy, understanding that the person with this different viewpoint probably isn’t evil, and thus trying to understand why they REALLY have that viewpoint, it would lead to a better understanding.

I also am going to harp on something I heard at a church service I attended today.  The pastor mentioned the ol’ put the “Christ” back into “Christmas” thing, often used in response to threats, either real or perceived, seen by those in the church.  But then she mentioned putting the “Christ” back into “Christian”.  Then she went through the amazing list that I unfortunately can’t remember and can’t find (I think she was quoting someone, but I’m not 100% sure), but it represented the things that Jesus stood for.   It was things like standing up and helping the poor, against income disparity, against being judgmental, against abuses of authority, etc..  Anyway, it certainly would seem that it would be more productive to make it a point to do good (and do good all year around) yourself than to worry about how others may be missing the point of a holiday (a holiday which isn’t in the Bible in the first place by the way).

So I guess my point is to do good and think well of others.  Anyway, I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!

The Win-Win

Posted: November 15, 2014 in Miscellaneous

win_win

So while I was getting ready for work the other morning, and I had CNN on in the background.  This story about a non-profit organization that uses horses to help motivate at-risk children caught my notice.  Here, go ahead and watch.  I’ll wait:

http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/bestoftv/2014/10/07/top-10-hero-patricia-kelly.cnn.html

What a creative way to help children, right?  A really great feel good story.  So after CNN airs the story, they go back to the anchor who also talks about what a great story this is.  But then he says something to the effect of “oh man, it’s just too bad you have to choose just one but you must”.  And I’m sitting there thinking, “um, I don’t think you actually HAVE to choose”, not really knowing what he was talking about.  But he goes on to explain that this particular story was actually all about finding the “2014 Hero of the Year”.  So the people must choose only ONE winner.  Because of course, this is America, there has to be A WINNER!

The question is why?  Why must there be a single winner?  I was lucky enough to be invited to a church service this past Sunday.  The preacher talked about how our society was so prone to declare “winners” and if there are winners, there must by definition be “losers”.  But he stressed that he didn’t think it had to be that way.  He believes that life doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game.  That if we would emphasize love and compassion for one another, it would be a “win-win” for everyone.  I firmly believe that the preacher has the right idea.

So looking at what CNN is doing, it is has a lot of good things going for it.  They are highlighting the good of society, instead of the dredges that usually get all the attention.  But the construct of all this is so American.  It’s not just heroes, it the “Top 10″ heroes (because by golly we need a ranking!).  And then it’s not enough to just have a “Top 10″, we MUST choose a WINNER!   I don’t know about you, but when I see the video, I wasn’t sitting there thinking “hmm, that seems ok, but could you give me 9 other choices (no more, no less!) to compare this too so if I can decide if this charity is a “WINNER” or not?  I can already see that charity and those children are just full of win!   I don’t think it’s going out on a limb to say that the other 9 is just full of win too.  And I will further say that there are a lot more than 10 people/organizations that are also full of win.

I don’t mean to pick on CNN.  Hey, like I said, at least they are using some time to highlight good things.  I’m just using this as an illustration for what I think happens too often, we turn everything into a competition.  But I could easily see how CNN could tweak this, make it an ongoing segment, highlight a different “hero” just once a week, but continuously.  It’s just a thought.  No votes, no winners, because they are all winners.  Really.  A win-win.

When it comes to sports and when it comes to business, competition is great!  But when it comes to life, I don’t think there is any reason that we should strive for winners and losers.  There’s no reason we can’t strive for as good of life as we can get for everyone because really that’s what is best for us all.  It’s the win-win.

 

I think I'm only whispering.

I think I’m only whispering.

So last weekend I did research so that I could fulfill my duty as a citizen and vote this past Tuesday.   Then I watched the results roll in, and never have I felt more like I had completely wasted my time.  Not that this was exactly a new development, but it really hit me pretty heavily that I was spending a lot of time trying to make intelligent choices, when I already knew how EACH and EVERY race was going to go.   The Hill had just declared Alabama the most Republican state in the country, so it doesn’t take a political science degree to know how things were going to turn out (hint: new state slogan, Alabama, now with even more Republicans than ever!).

Here are things that are really weighing on me:

This state is now damn red….but we’ve also gerrymandered everything, you know, just in case:

Statewide elections are such a waste in Alabama, when it comes to elected positions, the Republican is going to win and it’s not going to be close.  It’s going to be something like 60-65% to 35-40% every race, every time.   (That’s if the Democrats bother to even run anyone, Senator Jeff Sessions got a free pass.)  When it comes to amendments, just think ‘what would the tea party do?’ and you can probably predict with a high degree of accuracy whether it will pass or not (the only close statewide level vote was an Amendment dealing with funding the repair of the state’s National Guard Armories, only because these groups couldn’t decide if spending more money (bad) trumps the military (good)).  But even for local representatives, districts are so badly gerrymandered that those aren’t close either.  For U.S. House, I live in a Republican district…so the R won 76-24%.  For Alabama State House, I live in a Democratic district, so the D won 77-23%.  It’s hard to get excited about going to the booth when these are the kind of margins that are resulting.

And why are we voting for so many damn things anyway?:

Do we really need to vote for county tax assessor?  What about the tax collector?  State auditor?  Agricultural commissioner?  Every freakin’ judge in the state?  I am simply not an informed voter when it comes to these things, and I have to wonder how many others are?  (When it comes to judges, it does also concern me about how much money is pouring into these races, including $50 million into Alabama’s Supreme Court races alone, much from outside the state.  These folks think they are buying something, I can assure you!)

Even if I do impact the result of an election, do I actually impact policy?:

A study was performed measuring the influence of various entities on national policy from 1981-2002.  Their conclusion was that the average U.S. citizen appeared to have a non-statistically significant impact on policy.  Instead, the wealthy and monied business interests is what swayed the direction of the country.  Now I think a lot of suspected that the wealthy had a disproportionate impact on policy.  But I think more and more it seems like that they have ALL the impact on policy, regardless of which way an election may swing.

Obama’s hope and change didn’t happen:

Obama’s rhetoric was so infectious.  It just felt so right, and it was easy to get swept up into the idea that things were really going to be different this time.  But now six years in, I would challenge anyone to really come up with anything that’s truly different about how things operate in Washington.  If anything, it’s even worse.  (Yes, the Republicans with their ‘we fight Obama on everything’ strategy have a role in this, too.  A very large role in fact.  But what about the supposed new transparency that this White House was supposed to have?  It is really any more transparent?  What about being the anti-Bush in regards to foreign policy?  Are our positions really that different?)  When you get a lot of folks to the polls on the whole ‘hope and change’ thing and it then doesn’t happen, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s going to become more difficult going forward to get people to buy ‘no, this time it’s for realz!’.  Obama couldn’t change things, and I really don’t see anyone else that even appears to be a transformative leader on the horizon.

Anyway, it’s just getting harder and harder to justify dragging myself to the polls.

dalai lama

His Holiness is up there somewhere. (Yeah, I was in the cheap seats.)

Just got back from watching His Holiness The Dalai Lama at Regions Field here in Birmingham.  Loved his message, almost as much for its simplicity as anything else.

  • His main point was that at the fundamental level, we are ALL human.  That differences such as race, religion, region, etc. are all secondary to the fact to the sameness that we are all human.  And that should be the focus.
  • He seems to be very humble.  He says that if he came out trying to be all “I’m His Holiness The Dalai Lama” and thus special, he would create his own prison and would not be able to connect with others.
  • He made a special point that there are 1 billion people in the world that are part of no religion, and that you can’t just cast those people aside.  He said everyone deserves love and happiness.  He said that’s why secularism is important, which he defined as respect for not only all religions but also for the lack of religion.
  • He was not very kind to his generation (and anyone over the age of 30) in regards to its overreliance on violence in an effort to solve problems.  He basically said it would be up to the next generation to clean up our mess and create a culture of dialogue (because of course we will always have disagreements).  Only then would we have a peaceful world.

So simple.  But clearly also so hard.  But I think we could go a long way towards a more peaceful, happy, just world by simply respecting and loving one another, realizing that we are all the same at the most fundamental level, and trying to have a little more empathy because of that.