The GOP hates students, loves their debt payments.
I don’t think this is just the GOP’s fault, so I’m not going to jump on that bandwagon (but, yes, the recent incarnation of the GOP is particularly prone to the sin I’m about to point out). The real underlying problem is that we’ve all bought into a poorly made analogy about how government budget is “like a family budget” (a terrible analogy trotted out by everyone).
Many economists will point out that governments enjoy many privileges that families (or even businesses) don’t enjoy: Governments can print money, set interest rates, and otherwise affect the basic economy under which we all operate. Once you “get” the concept that all wealth is really just a fiction—that the concept of money and all its associated subconcepts—are mere inventions (and inventions only made possible by governments, or more precisely states, btw) then it all makes sense. States (what most of us call “governments”) are sovereign. That word derives from a European theological notion. States are the ultimate authority on earth—they are a secular replacement for The Lord God Almighty. Once you fully internalize this, you realize that the “rules” of a household budget simply can’t apply to governments. After all, governments make the law and they also make the money.
Anyhow. All this short sightedness has made both parties blind to the sheer fact that states were created originally to make life better. If you believe in a Hobbesian state of nature, then the state emerged because we desperately needed it for security—to protect us from a real world in which life was “nasty, brutish, and short.” If you believe in a Rousseauian state of nature, then states emerged because we willingly exchanged our unlimited freedom (the kind that wild animals have) in order to build civilization (we became slaves to market forces, to consumerism, to fashion, etc). For Rousseau, the “slavery” of civilization could be tamed by democracy, of course—and it was the hope of our Founding Fathers (peace be upon them) that they had devised a formula to both have freedom and civilization.
But what that means is that it was only states that made life not only safer, but also better for humanity. Keep in mind that the estimated median income for a person in sub-Saharan Africa and a person in Europe was about the same for most of human history (until about the 1600s or so). It was the rise of states in late medieval Europe which facilitated a tremendous expansion of human wealth. It’s also no coincidence that capitalism emerged first and then thrived in the very countries known for having strong states (Britain, Germany). To this day there’s a strong correlation between the strength of the state and the vitality of the economy. How else do you think South Korea went from having the same standard of living as Angola in 1960 to being one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
So where am I going with this? Easy. Those early states rose to prominence not by spending little, but by spending a lot. It was Germans who invented the publicly funded education system and universal health care. And not democratic Germany, mind you, but Bismarkian Germany of the late 1800s. The reason was simple: Investments in health, education, and general welfare would ensure a strong military and workforce, and give German industry a decisive edge. Between 1800 and 1900 Germany went from a backwater farmland to a major world power (heck, Germany didn’t even exist prior to 1860!).
Today, our government has decided that investments in health, education, infrastructure, etc. are too expensive. It’s more important to give easy access to credit to business or tax breaks to the wealthy. But what are the long term consequences? Where will America’s workforce be in 20-30 years?
If you really want to use the family analogy, then you have to consider that when a family tightens its belt, it also looks to the future. The father and mother give up new clothes or amenities in order to pay for their children’s education and food. The father may sacrifice a meal before he takes food or clothes from his infant child. After all, the only shot at escaping poverty in the long term is for that child to grow up smart, healthy, and strong and help lift the family out of poverty.
Today, we hear about the government as a family analogy all the time from politicians on the left and the right. It’s a terrible analogy. But, when you hear it, ask yourself one simple question: Is the person making the analogy suggesting that the family cut spending on its children’s food, medicine, and education to ensure that the father and mother have more disposable income? Or are they suggesting that the father and mother sacrifice a little bit (perhaps they don’t go out to dinner as often or stop buying expensive lattes on their way to work) in order to ensure that the kids have their basic needs met. In other words, are we investing in our future? Are we working to expand the market and our citizens’ productive abilities?
The unbroken seal on King Tut’s tomb.
Project HARP (High Altitude Research Project) was a joint initiative between the United States and Canada to research the use of ballistics to deliver objects into the upper atmosphere and beyond.
In lay terms, the project was established to create a cartoonishly large gun to shoot things into space. The sole fruit of this partnership, a massive toppled gun barrel, still remains on the Barbados test site.
Designed by mad ballistic engineer Gerald Bull, the gun itself was originally built from a 50 caliber naval cannon, like what might be seen on a battleship, and was later doubled to 100 caliber, making the gun too big for effective military application, but seemingly perfect for satellite delivery. Not-designed for delivering human subjects, the cannon fired smaller projectiles in a sabot that would protect the payload during the firing and would fall away as the satellite rose. At its apex, the gun was able to fire an object a staggering 112 miles into the sky, setting the 1963 world record for gun-launched altitude at 93 KM.
As the project continued, installing similar guns in further locations, the Barbados gun was abandoned in the late 1960s and left to rust on its original launch site. Looking more like a painted sewer pipe than a Godzilla-size gun barrel, the original Project HARP space gun can still be reached along the Barbados coast.
Waiting hours for a cellphone to charge may become a thing of the past, thanks to an 18-year-old high-school student’s invention. She won a $50,000 prize Friday at an international science fair for creating an energy storage device that can be fully juiced in 20 to 30 seconds.
Everybody, remember this face.
Remember this name.
If this becomes a commonly used & highly lauded discovery, at some point a White guy is going to take credit, even if he has to word it like “Improved upon a previous…”
No no no
Fuck that guy.
Remember this brown girl.
The name being Eesha Khare. Remember it even if you don’t click links.
European governments and the Obama administration are this weekend studying a “gamechanging” report on global drugs policy that is being seen in some quarters as the beginning of the end for blanket prohibition.
Publication of the Organisation of American States (OAS) review, commissioned at last year’s Cartagena Summit of the Americas attended by Barack Obama, reflects growing dissatisfaction among Latin American countries with the current global policy on illicit drugs. It spells out the effects of the policy on many countries and examines what the global drugs trade will look like if the status quo continues. It notes how rapidly countries’ unilateral drugs policies are evolving, while at the same time there is a growing consensus over the human costs of the trade. “Growing media attention regarding this phenomenon in many countries, including on social media, reflects a world in which there is far greater awareness of the violence and suffering associated with the drug problem,” José Miguel Insulza, the secretary general of the OAS, says in a foreword to the review. “We also enjoy a much better grasp of the human and social costs not only of drug use but also of the production and transit of controlled substances.”
Insulza describes the report, which examines a number of ways to reform the current pro-prohibition position, as the start of “a long-awaited discussion”, one that experts say puts Europe and North America on notice that the current situation will change, with or without them. Latin American leaders have complained bitterly that western countries, whose citizens consume the drugs, fail to appreciate the damage of the trade. In one scenario envisaged in the report, a number of South American countries would break with the prohibition line and decide that they will no longer deploy law enforcement and the army against drug cartels, having concluded that the human costs of the “war on drugs” is too high.
The west’s responsibility to reshape global drugs policy will be emphasised in three weeks when Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, the president of Colombia, who initiated the review, arrives in Britain. His visit is part of a programme to push for changes in global policy that will lead up to a special UN general assembly in 2016 when the scenarios of the OAS are expected to have a significant influence.
Experts described the publication of the review as a historic moment. “This report represents the most high-level discussion about drug policy reform ever undertaken, and shows tremendous leadership from Latin America on the global debate,” said Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch, director of the Open Society Foundation’s Global Drug Policy Program, which has described its publication as a “game-changer”.
“It was particularly important to hear president Santos invite the states of Europe to contribute toward envisioning a better international drug policy. These reports inspire a conversation on drug policy that has been long overdue.”
The report represents the first time any significant multilateral agency has outlined serious alternatives to prohibition, including legal market regulation or reform of the UN drug conventions.
“While leaders have talked about moving from criminalisation to public health in drug policy, punitive, abstinence-only approaches have still predominated, even in the health sphere,” said Daniel Wolfe, director of the Open Society Foundation’s International Harm Reduction Program. “These scenarios offer a chance for leaders to replace indiscriminate detention and rights’ abuses with approaches that distinguish between users and traffickers, and offer the community-based health services that work best for those in need.”
In a statement, the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which campaigns for changes in drug laws and is supported by the former presidents of several South American states, said that publication of the review would break “the taboo that blocked for so long the debate on more humane and efficient drug policy”. The Commission said that it was “time that governments around the world are allowed to responsibly experiment with regulation models that are tailored to their realities and local need”.
As global capital becomes ever more powerful, giant corporations are holding governments and citizens up for ransom — eliciting subsidies and tax breaks from countries concerned about their nation’s “competitiveness” — while sheltering their profits in the lowest-tax jurisdictions they can find….
World’s Most Beautiful Abandoned Places
Italian product manager and web designer Francesco Mugnai recently added a collection of images to his blog touting some of the most beautiful images of abandoned spots and modern ruins that he’d ever seen. The images Mugnai has captured come from empty castles, shuttered power plants, and dilapidated churches around the world. From a sunken yacht in Antarctica to a forever-closed amusement park in Japan, these images all make up a sort of anti-phoenix; rather than rising as new from the ashes, these husks remain preserved in decomposition, forcing viewers to confront the strange beauty of ruination.
the science of summer
”Czech photographer Miloslav Druckmüller from a pier outside the Enewetak Radiological Observatory on the Marshall Islands during a 2009 expedition hosted by the Chair of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii.
It was during this trip that the photographer had the incredible opportunity to see a total solar eclipse from what is basically the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The location offered an unfettered, crystal clear view of this amazing and rare phenomenon.”