Monday, March 20, 2017

Two of the notions really bothering me today

The first notion really bothering me today as I follow the news is that if we just run the government as if it is a business,  there will be a better outcome.  Pick your favorite - less taxes, less corruption, better national security, or whatever.  This notion has been around for years yet every time I encounter it, I shudder.  Now, with the Trump Administration have installed successful CEOs in positions of great power and responsibility, that notion is being tested in real time with big stakes. 

Failures are happening big and small, but especially on the global stage.  A small one was the media flap about Rex Tillerson being too fatigued to dine with South Korean officials, which was false.  It was reported widely in Asian countries before the US State Department corrected it.  Why it became a flap is because Tillerson made a judgment as if he was a CEO that he did not need a press contingent to accompany him on his diplomatic journey to Asia.  Well, Tillerson is not a CEO but a diplomat.  In fact, he is the top US diplomat.  He needs the press to accompany him so that the facts are reported, not speculation by observing media who have their own biases to push.  

Companies and corporations, whether they are domestic or global in scale, can put out press releases that carefully detail and/or limit what news they want released that fits their image.  Media can, in turn, put out reports that may distort or paint of very different picture of that company or corporation. But, if those reports do not report facts but are fabrications, the company or corporation can sue.  Governments can not do this; all they can do is counter with press reports of their own. 

Governments are not businesses nor should they be run as such. 

The second notion really bothering me is that government assistance whether in healthcare or education or foreign aid or whatever is a zero sum game.  I have read many articles about the "forgotten", who voted for Trump.  Too many of them seem to have chosen Trump because "someone else" was getting government assistance and they weren't and the best solution was to take that help away from the "someone else,", whether by deporting them or repealing the programs giving that government assistance, or building a wall or whatever stops the "offending" help.

Yes, the Democratic campaign waged by Hillary Clinton made many US citizens feel neglected and ignored.  Yes, there a vast portions of the US economy that have not recovered from the 2008 recession nor are they on a path towards recovery.  These are valid reasons for wanting change and recognition of the need for change.  But change doesn't mean you take something away from those who have the least.  Change can mean something like a universal health care system (not universal health care insurance) that might have spotted the opioid abuse trend before it because a US health problem.  Or, as some European countries have implemented, an education system that puts individuals preferences and aptitudes towards either helping them choose an appropriate secondary level of education and helping them afford it, without crushing debt.

If you believe government assistance is a zero sum game, let's figure out a different set of rules where we are all winners in that game.  However, I can't make life fair.

Further, I really believe that the reason the majority of job descriptions out there ask for a college degree is that they really want someone familiar with computer applications.  If our high schools are not teaching basic notions of computer science on an equal footing with math, that is a crime easily fixed.   Even a plumber or a mechanic or a salesman should be able to write a letter, do a simple Google search,  or enter and understand simplified checking account software.  With the advent of smart phones, many of the current generation have already mastered these skills long before they encounter such teaching in high school.  

Yes, these are "socialistic" notions.  Yes, I am "privileged."  Yes, I am an ardent "feminist."  Do I think universal health care and universal public education are rights of every individual?  Yes, I do.    Am I a member of some elite?  Yes, everyone has some skill or quality or ability that very few (relatively) share.  Am I an "elitist?"  Gosh, I hope not.

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