Tag Archives: donald trump

Why Trump? Because America isn’t so Great (and possibly never will be again)

Just found out about a cool Youtube channel–“Nerdwriter1.” (Yes, I’m a bit of an Internet nerd, for better or for worse.) But it’s encouraging to find intelligent dialogue on Youtube. In fact, I think that as sites like Youtube continue to grow, smarter people will increasingly engage on them.

Like it or not, there aren’t many public spaces where people can engage in dialogue face-to-face anymore. But most people are on the Internet. I prefer the old fashioned, old school face-to-face, of course. People are held accountable and are forced to think before they speak, at least moreso than online where irresponsible peeps can just hide behind fake usernames. People are also forced to listen to each other and observe each other’s reactions when face-to-face…

But I digress.

Here’s my reply to Nerdwriter1’s analysis of Donald Trump:

Donald Trump’s causing problems for this country, and he’s not an immigrant. He speaks of tremendous hate, but that’s what he is fostering–hate and fear… Sad that isn’t obvious to people. This is another reason why we need to fund education and provide free college for everyone. We desperately need a smarter voting population.

The question Jimmy Kimmel asks, “Isn’t it wrong to discriminate…” is rather strange. It gave Trump an opportunity to make a speech and it catered to white people who don’t like being accused of racism. How would Trump have responded if Kimmel had asked instead something along the lines of, “How does it benefit us to deport people whose religion happens to be Muslim?” or “What about the Muslim man who owned a successful business that hired Americans and was just detained because of his religion? Why are we putting those Americans out of work?” That kind of questioning would have gotten some Trump supporters thinking.

The other thing is, many Americans are unhappy–overworked, underpaid, underemployed or, worse, unemployed. Trump’s angry, bigoted tone resonates for angry, bitter people who don’t know much about politics or current events, don’t know why they’re struggling but are looking for someone to blame.

While the democrats were insisting that the USA is the greatest country in the world, Trump at least admitted we need to “make America great again.” Ultimately, that’s what people wanted to hear. The democrats were too busy catering to their wealthy “limousine liberal” constituents who want to save the trees and the whales but don’t care about saving the people. They could have used the same sales rhetoric to appeal to the working class, or better yet (in my opinion,) they could have given Bernie Sanders (or Jill Stein) a chance.

 

 

Draconian Measures Used to Penalize Student Loan Debtors

Draconian Measures Used to Penalize Student Loan Debtors

People, student loan debtors are being treated differently from other debtors. Is this fair? Why the emphasis on penalizing people for going to college? Is this an effort to prevent poor and middle class people from getting an education?

Read on…

Do you think it is okay for the government to use draconian, i.e., cruel and life-destroying, soul-defeating methods to punish student loan debtors for not being able to pay off their loans?

Aw… am I using hyperbole here?

Nope. (But gotta love that word “hyperbole.” Makes me feel so special whenever I use it…)

In 21 US states, your driver’s license can be taken away from you if your student loans have gone into default. That’s nearly half the country. And this includes states such as California (once a “liberal” state) where a car is practically a necessity for getting around and for getting a job. In fact, some employers require a driver’s license and proof of auto insurance as a prerequisite for certain jobs.

In some states, your professional license can be taken away. So… if you have a license to practice law, medicine, to cut hair, to teach, to fix the plumbing, etc., you can lose your license to work!

Does this make sense? How would debtors pay off their debts if they’ve lost their licenses to work and to drive?

If someone is having trouble paying their bills, and our primary concern was to try to get them to pay those bills (not to destroy that person’s life,) wouldn’t it make more sense to assist them with finding a better-paying job so that they’d be in a better position to pay off their debts? How does it benefit our society to ruin the lives of college graduates by penalizing them for life for simply not having the money to pay off their debt? Immigrants who come to the US usually receive assistance in finding work and housing. Why not provide that same assistance to our very own, fellow US citizens?

Why do we emphasize punishing the poor people who can’t afford to pay their debts? Why aren’t we punishing the employers who refuse to pay their employees a decent, living wage? Or the landlords who charge unreasonably high rents, thus preventing their tenants from paying their other bills on time?

Student loan debt is the ONLY debt that cannot be written off in bankruptcy. Is this fair? Why are billionaires, such as Donald Trump, allowed to declare bankruptcy for debts accrued due to foolhardy and reckless decisions while student loan debtors–who come from poor or middle class families–are not? In fact, gamblers can write off their debts via bankruptcy. Does this make sense? Do we want to reward people for being irresponsible with their money but punish people for trying to make their lives better by obtaining an education?

Student loans are a form of financial assistance. Wealthy students don’t need them because their families can afford to pay their college tuition. It’s those of us who come from poor or middle class families who apply for financial assistance to attend college and are offered student loans.

Scholarships and grants that cover the entire cost of tuition are rare these days. Most students will not be able to obtain scholarships or grants that cover all of their tuition costs and are forced to take out loans in order to go to college.

Increasingly, many jobs require a license or certificate, if not a degree. Either way, that means, going to school and taking some classes. Does it make sense to penalize people who have financial  need (otherwise they wouldn’t be applying for financial aid) by taking away their bankruptcy protections, driver’s and professional licenses, etc.? Do we really want to discourage poor people from going to college and trying to pull themselves out of poverty? Again, while at the same time, we’re encouraging gambling and financial irresponsibility by offering bankruptcy protections for gamblers, millionaires and billionaires?!

Is that really what we want to do as a society?

Seriously?

Being a college student is hard work. It requires countless hours of studying, researching, writing papers, taking exams, and having one’s work  scrutinized and graded. It can be a stressful time for students who take their studies seriously. Why is this hard work not respected? Do we want to send the message to students that their hard work will not be rewarded?  Have we become such an idiocracy that we want to discourage people from not only thinking and learning but for trying to make their selves and their lives better by working hard to achieve a dream?

Student loan debtors can have their wages garnished, their tax refunds confiscated and–get this–their social security benefits taken from them. Is this fair? Does it even make sense from a practical standpoint? Does the punishment fit the “crime?” What is the crime exactly? Trying to obtain an education?

In a few years, we will have a huge population of elderly people who will no longer be able to work yet won’t be obtaining social security benefits in their retirement, won’t have money saved in the bank, won’t have children to help them–because they never started a family due to this oppressive debt–won’t have a home to live in, because they postponed buying a home and starting a family due to this debt, and our society will have a massive crisis on its hands.

What will we do with all these disenfranchised student loan debtors whose entire lives were spent dealing with an impossible to pay off debt so that they never accrued any nest egg, savings or family unit of their own? These will be broken, damaged people who wanted to contribute but were not allowed to fully contribute to society and not allowed to achieve their dreams. People who never really lived but spent their lives struggling financially. Are we going to just kill them off like the Nazis got rid of its “undesirables”? Or are we going to attempt to pay for their health care and basic living needs (while we continue to fund war and the surveillance state?)

Whether we decide to suddenly become a compassionate nation that takes care of its elderly or we continue to be a cruel, heartless, sociopathic nation that that rewards selfishness and greed, we’re going to have a crisis once a critical mass of people grows old with this massive debt. Why are we creating this crisis right now?

Even from a practical standpoint, does it make sense to create a huge population of disenfranchised, broken, defeated people who wanted to contribute but instead will be disabled and damaged from years of impoverishment? These are people we’ll need to take care of eventually. These are people who were our best and brightest who we chose to crush with massive debt and draconian punishment of it. We can, in fact, head back in time. We can go back to the days when poor people had no chance of ever bettering themselves, when only the rich had access to decent health care and education, when cruel and unusual punishments or torture were implemented by the wealthy and privileged against the disadvantaged whenever they dared defy the social order or status quo. Wait a minute, would that involve going back in time? Or are we there right now?

What’s truly heartbreaking is that this country could change over night. In fact, instantly, we could truly be a great America again. It doesn’t matter who’s president, really. What matters is us, we the people, and what we want. As long as we stick together and stand by each other, we can make our politicians bend to our will. (Problem is, we are not sticking together. We are out to get each other–dog-eat-dog!)

But like all of our nation’s problems, the student loan debt issue is a solvable problem. In a heartbeat, we can solve this problem. We can restore bankruptcy protections for student loan debt starting NOW. Then we can start working on other solutions, such as, restoring scholarships and grants that cover tuition costs, eliminating the student loan program altogether (because poor people can’t ever guarantee they will be able to pay off debts–they’re poor dammit!,) lowering or even eliminating the cost of college tuition. Offering free educational programs, especially job-training programs, so that people really will have opportunities to learn and grow and potentially increase their income potential.

This blog first appeared on Disqus:  Click HERE to read

 

 

Why We Need Arts Education and Funding in Order to Function as a Healthy Society

Well, we’ve done it again, peoples. We’ve gone ahead and made another video of one of our political discussions.  This time, Millennial Devon and non-Millennial Meri discuss the arts, the liberal arts, and humanities education.    

When I talk about student loan debt and the suffering it is causing many of us who’ve been damaged by it, I often get the response, “What was your major?” As if that matters..

Or how about this comment:  “College should be tuition-free, except for the arts.” Arts majors should know better. Let’s just eliminate the arts, shall we?

Ooh… Gotta love that one! Are the arts unnecessary? Are artists unimportant? Should we all suffer or starve because our talents lie in the arts?

I think not!

This is part one of the discussion. Part two will post within the week. Check back for more, babies!   Warning: the following video may contain subliminal messages… because it is a work of art!

So…

Why should we study the arts, fund the arts and arts education?

Why is art just as important as engineering, doctoring and computer programming?

We’re creative people, so we’ve come up with lots of ideas.

 

Because:

 

— The arts enable society to function smoothly by providing a way for diverse types of people to work out conflicts and frustrations by working on creative projects together as a team.

 

–The arts are inherently democratic, providing a voice for the underdog, a safe place for people of all genders, races, religions and class backgrounds to communicate ideas that may be unpopular but that need to be heard.

 

–In this way, the arts provide a safe place for ordinary people to speak truth to power, to criticize authority and to make political policy changes via the subtle, subliminal messages of art.

 

–The arts provide a healthy outlet for angry, disenfranchised groups to safely ventilate their frustrations without inflicting harm but while influencing the world powerfully and for the better.

 

–The arts are universal. Around the world and throughout time and space, we humans have expressed our humanity through the arts. We learn about history, about how other peoples have lived, about human nature and what makes us “tick,” by studying art throughout the ages. We also learn about mistakes humans have made that we don’t want to repeat from looking at the arts and how they’ve evolved throughout time. We need an understanding of human nature and common human errors in order to plan social policy and to govern our human race.

 

–The arts can convey information to people who can’t read, can’t write, can’t speak or have mental health disabilities preventing them from communicating in the “normal” way.

 

–The arts influence the general public subliminally. People don’t realize they’re being influenced while they’re being entertained, so they’re more likely to accept the information.

 

–The arts can heal some people with mental illnesses who are in a lot of emotional pain and who can’t be reached otherwise.

 

–The arts make life fun, beautiful and meaningful when it otherwise may seem bleak and hopeless. An artist can take what others consider to be trash and turn it into something beautiful or meaningful.

 

–Studying the arts develops our imagination and creativity, so we become better able at finding solutions to complex problems. We become “out of the box” thinkers. That makes us better problem solvers—particularly when solutions are not obvious to most people. With all the problems in our world today, we need people who are better at solving problems.

 

–Artists tend to be rebels who question authority and the status quo. They are often the first people to recognize serious problems developing within our society. They are often the most capable of informing the masses and getting the masses to listen.

 

So…

 

Why fund the arts? Because we’ll die without them.

We, the humans, need the arts!

 

Don’t be a Starving Artist in the Rust Belt: Starve Somewhere Else–But Is There Anywhere Else?

Ah, the rusty belt. A belt so rusty that when you tighten it (which you’ll need to do if you’re truly a starving artist) it falls apart, letting your big, round stomach protrude out while your pants fall straight to the floor.

Ha ha! The emperor’s got no clothes! Well, no pants anyway. You didn’t lose your shirt at least. But how’d you get that big belly when you’re a starving artist anyhow?

“But I am a starving artist! I am I am! (Sam, I am!) And I do need to tighten that belt!” you say.

Well, tighten away, my friend, but don’t do it in the rust belt. Sure, cost of living is cheaper, but it’s cheap for a reason. Unfortunately, in today’s world we often get what we pay for.

Here are some reasons why, in spite of the high cost of living, creative people should remain in or at least near a major city and stay flat out of the rust belt–especially when they’re first starting out:

— Emotional support: We creative artist types are a sensitive lot. We need encouragement and feedback from others. Surrounding ourselves with artists who are equally or better talented than ourselves inspires us to create  more and to create better. It pushes us out of our comfort zone when we realize that someone else did something we thought was impossible. Hmm… What’s impossible? Could it be that I too could create something much greater than I thought possible? Yeah, I can do better than that guy/gal/animal/mineral/vegetable…

— Like-minded peeps: Creative people are treated like a minority group in our society. Like women, people of color, immigrants and other minority groups, we’re viewed as the other, frequently misunderstood and unappreciated. “Why don’t you get a REAL job?!” is what we hear from friends and family.  We get plenty of discouraging words as it is.

It’s ironic, I think, that artists are typically more sensitive to criticism than the average person yet we also receive more of it. We put ourselves out there. We take the risk of showing people our work–our babies, reflections of our inner selves, our secret desires, hopes and dreams written about in poetry, painted in painting, danced away, performed away, sung as a song.

We seem confident and often people envy us, but we need support and encouragement desperately. We need to surround ourselves with other artists, talented and brilliant artists and be supportive of each other so that we can learn from each other, so that we can grow.

— Affluence: For better or worse, art receives most of its appreciation from affluent communities. Art requires a higher way of thinking about the world. Creativity and imagination take time, and leisure time is something most blue-collar, working-class folks don’t have. Often they work at back-breaking jobs and while they may appreciate a song or two after work, their concern is with escaping reality, so they want a beer; they want to watch the game; and if they want to hear music it needs to be the tried and true–the same songs they’ve already heard over and over again throughout their lives. It’s comforting to someone who works incredibly hard and for low wages to just hear the same songs, watch the same TV shows, and not be pushed out of his/her comfort zone.

But we creatives like moving out of our comfort zone, and we need to be around others who also are open to new ideas, else we won’t get support for our work.

— Education: There’s been a brain drain in the rust belt. The “best and brightest” typically leave for better paying jobs elsewhere. In the rust belt city where I currently live, only a tiny percentage of the population has above a BA degree—and there are many colleges in this town!

Since education is outrageously expensive here in the United States, most people hailing from blue-collar backgrounds can’t afford to attend college anymore, and they don’t want to accumulate debt. Working at miserable jobs, they settle for a simple life and prefer to keep it that way. Obtaining an education and spending time in the arts is just not practical.

For better or worse, educated people are more likely to appreciate good art. Creativity and imagination are not necessarily straightforward endeavors. We see what’s in front of us. Animals can also see what’s in front of them. But we humans are unique in that we are capable of seeing what could be and what could have been. We can also take the initiative, even if it’s out of character and not instinctive, to create change based on what we imagine could exist.

Intelligent people also inspire us by feeding us with new ideas and developments.

— A shortage of youth and youthful ideals: Look, I myself am no millennial, yet I think of myself as a fairly open-minded person, so this is a generalization, of course. But the reality is that young people are more likely to be open to new ideas, this means new music, original songs, artists who are not yet established. Young people need to move where the money is. Far from retirement age, they leave the rust belt seeking better job opportunities and a better future.

I’m sure not all rust belt cities are the same. I’m also sure that some creative artist types enjoy living in the rust belt, but… Hmm…

But overall, if you’re a talented artist living in NYC or another major city and you’re thinking of moving back to the rust belt in order to save money, well, think again. Think twice. And thrice. True, cities like NYC are becoming unlivable for the average person, and I would like to see that change. This is something I’ll need to write about in a future blog.

However, moving to a poor city in the rust belt is not a solution for saving money.  Again, rent is cheaper there for a reason. Jobs are scarce, salaries are low and the atmosphere is uninspiring, to say the least. The rust belt will demoralize, deflate and discourage you. Don’t do it. Your art and inspiration will suffer, maybe disappear completely. Find a suburb or a city that is commutable to and from NYC (or wherever.) Share space with another person, if you need to. Find a way to be near what you love and whom you love.

Creative people need to start helping each other instead of competing with each other, but with fewer opportunities for creatives it’s understandable that some artists become self-centered. Overall, the United States itself is becoming an undesirable place for creative people.  Again, I’ll need to write more about this in a future blog.

Until then, I’m stuck here in the rust belt. Gotta suck in that belly!

Don’t let this happen to you!!!