Thursday, February 24, 2011

Internet Revolutions

"Technology doesn't really change the world."

It took a while, but the Internet is connecting the world in ways its creators could only have dreamt of.  People living literally under brutal dictatorships are using "Facebook" and other social networking sites, to foment and incite outright Revolution.  This digital age is freeing people, and the world may never again be the same.

Egypt is now under military control, but only because the people of Egypt have successfully ousted Mubarak.  Libya's Maummar Gaddafi is now facing the same fate.  The people Libya, despite being shot at with military jets, stand united to demand free democratic elections.  There is now an online petition to begin revolts in Saudi Arabia, but I predict that, that will be a tougher freedom-nut to crack.

Questions have arisen from Conservative talking heads, as to why President Obama isn't speaking up or doing more to support these endeavors.  While I'd like to see the President be more outspoken in these regards, I think it is equally strong, to sit back and watch freedom and revolution create democratic nations without expanding U.S. military forces.  President G.W. Bush spent billions overthrowing Saddam Hussein, when all we needed to do was send them a bunch of laptops and mobile internet devices.

Given any opportunity to speak out, be heard, and unite with others yearning for freedom, people will do it.  You don't need guns, knives, bomb, or bullets.  The pen, or in this case the keyboard, is mightier than the sword, I mean jet fighters...

The Internet is finally now beginning to help people achieve real freedom.    So, let's invest in global WiFi, rather than another aircraft carrier.  Wars cost more than websites.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Educational Spending and Ranked Results

"We spend too much money on education administration."

On the contrary, we rank 37th in the world, in percentage of GDP spent on education.  The result is that our students are well behind the rest of the world in both performance and ability.  In fact, depending on which website you look at, there are some 15-30 countries that score better than the U.S.  American students are failing to compete with students from other countries that spend almost twice the amount that we do on education.  Surprise!

The State of Texas is facing a $15 billion revenue shortfall, due in part from a drop in sales tax revenue and federal mandates on Medicaid spending.  Because Texas operates on a balanced budget amendment, the revenue shortfall demands either an increase in the tax rate or budget cuts.  Given Texas rates 49th in verbal SAT scores and 43rd in math, nationally speaking, guess which way Texas Conservatives went?  That's right, regardless of our already winning the race to the bottom, Texas Republicans want to spend even less, wholly ignoring the fact that Texas ranks 6th in student population growth.

Texas high schools see 68% of their students graduate, ranking it 36th among other states.  The Texas school system is literally failing students and taxpayers, is at the bottom of the heap nation-wide, and is one of the driving forces pushing America well behind the rest of the world.  Rather than raise taxes to maintain this already subpar standing, Texas legislators are cutting educational spending by $5 billion.

Texas leads the nation and the world in a race to the bottom of high school student performances.

All this because Conservative Republicans fail to understand that there is a direct correlation between how much money a nation spends and the quality of services it provides.  Tax cuts hurt student performance, period.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Remembering President Reagan

"Build the damn fence, (between the U.S. and Mexico)."

'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!'  That is what I remember President Reagan saying about walls between people.  Yet, today's republicans forget that notion, and exclaim that we must begin to control our borders.  How can you control the whole of your borders, in a country this size?  Every great empire wasted resources, and utterly collapsed trying to wall itself off from outsiders and invaders.  China's Great Wall and Rome's Hadrian's Wall immediately leap to mind.

America is the world's greatest marketplace.  If you have products and or services to offer, the U.S. is the best place to try to sell them.  Instead of building walls around us, we should be building high speed railways in.  We should make the process of citizenship instantaneous, and not the 3-5 year, thousands of dollars, arduous task it is now.  America benefits by having hard working entrepreneurs come here and invest themselves in our economy.  So, why isn't someone calling conservatives for this trespass upon the seminal moment of Reagan's Presidency?  Why do conservatives forget everything about President Reagan besides the letter that appeared by his name?

One could even go further, and point out the fact that President Reagan realized that budget shortfalls are cured by tax increases, not cuts.  He realized that cutting government spending meant that some Americans would bleed as a result.  So, the only way to balance the budget, without harming Americas, is to raise taxes, something President Reagan did as the situation required.

I was in junior high, when President Reagan held office, and was only faintly aware of politics in general.  What I remember were the moments he was a part of, like his remarks about the Challenger disaster, and when he spoke directly to Soviet Union, demanding the re-unification of Germany.  What I learned later in high school and college was that he was a middle of the road conservative, who had great support from many independent liberals, because he could and did compromise.

Today's conservative republicans are nothing like President Reagan, and they are currently working in direct opposition to his efforts, yet they herald the man's name to no end.

President Reagan would have very little in common with the republican agenda, and would not support nor receive support from the Tea Party.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Re-birth of a Nation

"We support President Mubarak."

The Egyptian people took to the streets in peaceful demonstrations, that turned violent, when government riot police were sent in to disperse a crowd, who would not be dispersed...

Egypt is a democracy, who has elected the same President for 30 years.  Days ago a quarter of a million people marched on the capitol, calling for his resignation.

People on both sides have died, and with the prisons mysteriously opened, there is chaos in the streets...

Putting Egypt back together again, will take more than all the King's horses and men, it is going to take a peaceful patient citizenry, willing to undergo great political hardships.  The country will have to try to unite with sparse cell service, a single functioning internet service provider, and no readily available sources of a free media.  This is going to be a sight to behold.

My hope is that America will take this opportunity to review its support for other less than fully Democratic nations, that we presently give aid and support to.  We support Saudi Arabia's royal family, who owes its lifestyle to oil reserves they sell to the U.S., on the cheap.  While the people of Saudi Arabia don't live quite so lavishly as their leaders who defecate upon golden toilets.  Maybe we will begin leaning on other political allies who oppress their people, rather than supporting less than fully democratic governments.

Absolutely nothing can look quite so bad as stamped "Made in the U.S.A." tear gas canisters, being employed as a tool to help dictators disperse peaceful protesters.  Simply put we should be exporting tools to help spread freedom, rather than passing out crowd disbursement paraphernalia.

The Egyptian people decided they would no longer be ruled by someone who had won 30 years worth of elections.  They did not believe the elections were free, fair, or representative of their goals for government.  These protests have led Hosni Mubarak first dismissing the whole government, then him saying that he will not seek re-election, in September.  This is not enough for protesters, who want him to step down.

Two million people marched on Cairo, and now pro-Mubarak thugs, armed with whips riding horseback are attempting disperse the crowds, as violence once again grips the streets.

Freedom, friends, is not free.  It is procured only by the blood of patriots.