Record Scratch – How To Make The World A Better Place
May 16, 2012
What’s this then? Where’s all the short story writing you’re used to? All the passable fiction that you kind of enjoy and don’t tell anyone about? Where’s the comforting sense of a budding artist, someone who won’t make it probably but you root for him anyway? What happened to the bright eyed optimist who keeps posting things that you worry about?
Well, I took off my optimist hat and today I’m picking up my social justice sword.
Today, I’m going to tell you how to fix the world. Today, I’m going to explain how we can start working towards eliminating the problems in our society. I’m going to off you real solutions, some of which are opinions and some of which are mathematical facts. I will do my best to source anything I say if you ask me to. But there is one rule.
Prepare to be wrong. Prepare to be wrong about everything you ever thought. Everything you ever believed. Everything you’ve ever been told that you thought was, well, common sense. Prepare to be told, and to understand, that you’re completely incorrect.
Now, this second bit isn’t a rule per se but I think that if you don’t do this then you’re an awful, terrible person. That you’ve taken advantage of humanity and that you are vile for ignoring what is a moral and ethical requirement of participating in society. If you want to be part of the People, you need to be willing to support the People as well. If you want to be part of the Economy, you need to spend money and help keep the Economy moving. In short, if you want to be in the Club, you have to work with the Club. And our species is the largest club around.
So, in that vein, you have a moral and ethical charge to help the people around you. That’s not just tossing a quarter to that homeless vet, or giving a lift to that woman and her kids on the side of the road. It means fighting for the betterment of the world for all of us. That means voting. That means educating yourself. That means fighting with those around you and teaching them about their ethical and moral obligations to the people around them as well. So that you can not just reach down to those on the step below you, but you can have others hold you so you can reach down further, pull harder, and lift us all up to the top. You have a moral and ethical obligation to raise us up to equality. You have a moral and ethical obligation to be an activist.
Now, let’s get down to brass tacks. The first thing I want to talk about is
Equality For Women
This is a big one. I shouldn’t even talk about this one because I’m a guy. I’m a cis-male in fact – I was born a man and I’ve never known what it’s like to be a woman. All of you should go out and listen to the women who are talking about what it’s like to be a woman, what it’s like to become a woman, what it’s like to live as a woman. Everything from rape culture to medical requirements to unequal pay to unequal work. The problems of everything from menstruation to marriage.
So go here;
Here’s some bullet points that’ll help -
> Fight For and Pass Universal Health Care (this will come up a lot)
> Let Women Chose
> Punish the Rapist, Not the Raped
> Pass Equal Pay Measures
> LISTEN TO THE WOMEN IN YOUR LIFE, EVEN IF YOU YOURSELF ARE A WOMAN
Finally, if you’re part of the Men’s Rights Movement (or the Men Go Their Own Way movement, or whatever it wants to rebrand itself as), you’re wrong. You’re entirely incorrect. There are some places where men get shafted but it’s because of misogyny. It’s because of sexism. It’s because of the Patriarchy. You want men’s rights to get better? Then become a feminist. That’s what it’s all about. Until then, you’re just wrong.
Oh, and this includes trans* folk too.
Now, let’s talk about…
Equality for Minorities
Again, I shouldn’t be talking about this. While, technically, I am a member of an oppressed racial group, I wasn’t even aware I was part of it until I was a teenager and it’s treated more like an odd genetic quirk by the people around me because I pass as white. Even if I am Rrom. However, there is one really good rule I can impress on all of you. Especially those of you who are born in the developed world and can pass for whatever the local majority is -
Listen to the minorities around you
They will tell you what they need help with. But, again, we’ve got a few good economic bullet points.
> Fight for and Pass Universal Health Care
> Fight for and Pass Equal Pay laws (yeah, minorities get shafted even harder than women. There’s a chart up on one of the websites I linked before that shows that white women get 77% of what white men get, and it goes downhill from there).
> Do Not Treat Them Like They’re Exotic. They are People. Just. Like. You.
> Constantly and consistently work against racist actions and words. You are not allowed to “take back” other groups insults. You are not allowed to be “one of the cool ones” by using the words yourself that have been taken back around those who did said taking back. You are not ironic. You are not funny. If you think otherwise, you’re wrong. This isn’t being politically correct, it’s not being an asshole.
> Fight for and Pass Universal Education Initiatives. For-pay institutions are a barrier to entry that many minorities cannot cross. The poor can’t either, but I’m getting there. Scholarships are one thing, they help a bit, but what would fix the problems inherent in the system is getting rid of the for-pay system. College should be a right, not a privilege. We’re too advanced and in need of brilliant minds and talent all over the economy to keep treating a proper education as a privilege. Unless you’d like to return to some kind of feudal land leasing.
> Fight for and Pass Affordable Housing Initiatives. In short, there shouldn’t be poor or black or underprivileged or inner-city or Mexican or Asian or Irish or (etc) communities. People should be integrated as much as possible because this is what leads us to work together, to not treat each other like foreigners in our neighborhoods, to cross cultural boundaries and learn what it’s like to be around each other. The first step to do this is to raise up the quality of homes everywhere and drop the barriers to entry – namely, the prices. We need to make the economy afford cheap housing. It’ll be better for everyone.
Also, this includes trans* folk as well.
Moving on, let’s go to…
Equality for Sexual Orientations
This one shouldn’t be hard. Just don’t be an ass. They’re no different from you in all of the important ways. It’s better for everyone, you included, you allow them to get married, allow them to go about their business, and allow them to be whatever kind of normal they want to be. If you don’t like half-naked people in leather chaps gyrating down your street, that’s fine. There’s plenty of straight, white male and female members of our species that get a huge kick out of that and they can get together with our hypothetical gay gyrating cowpoke and be normal in their own way. The important thing, though, is that they’re treated as people. Respected as people.
If you think otherwise…you’re wrong. Y’just are. I don’t have the time right now to explain why, but I’ll happily answer any questions you have on why you’re wrong.
This also includes trans* folk.
So let’s just move on to…
Equality for the Poor
Heads up! This most definitely includes several trans* folk in addition to what you might assume is the Poor.
This one’s a sticky one because bundles up parts of the first three. This is, probably, the biggest source of inequality in the developed world right now. It’s also something I am intimately familiar with. My family was middle class when I was a kid, and now we’re almost, but not quite, poor. I, personally, am living in poverty. Let me tell you what’ll help us.
First, pass Universal Health Care. The biggest thing that makes people poor is medical costs. It’s been shown mathematically that the economy would be better off if all of us are participating in a single insurer and that the poor are given tacit admission to the insurance program. Or, in short, socialized medicine is just better. It removes the cost of healthcare from employers, which makes it easier to start business and to create jobs. It removes the burden of medicine from the poor, which allows the poor to be more productive in general. It lowers the impact of medical emergencies on the poor. It allows the poor to compete, from a health perspective, with anyone. That means that kids born with unfortunate medical conditions always have equal access to the care they need. That means they’ve got equal access to succeeding. Universal medical care will make everyone’s lives better.
Next, Affordable Housing. My personal favorite is rent-control and property-control. If you’re making the minimum wage in an area and you’re working 35 hours a week, you should be able to afford to house, feed, and transport yourself without great difficulty. That’s what the minimum wage is supposed to mean. So if you’re in Orange County, California and you’re making $8.00 an hour (which I believe is our current minimum wage) and working 30 hours a week, you’ll bring home, gross, $1040 a month. That means that rent on a studio or one bedroom apartment should be no more than $250 a month. If that isn’t enough for the people who rent these places, well, we’ll have to raise minimum wage. Otherwise you’ve got people who are working two or three jobs trying to make ends meet, trying to keep their apartment, and trying to stay fed. And we haven’t even taken taxes out yet. As it is, a one bedroom apartment in most places in Orange County, CA is the gross income of someone making minimum wage and working thirty hours a week. Seriously. The last ten places I looked at wanted $1040 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. By overworking the poor, the quality of their life and their productivity go down (and the costs of their medical treatments, the costs of their children, and the costs of their effects on the economy go up – people who work all the time can’t participate in the economy in general which means they become, effectively, slaves to their employers). So make housing affordable or pay us enough to make us not poor. Your choice.
Socialized education! Now this, this is one of those lynchpin things. You want to make it so that anyone with talent, drive, and interest can succeed in the economy? You want to make the American Dream a reality? You want to let anyone with sense and strength enough to work hard, pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and make their lives better? Then allow anyone to go to school. The for-profit model of schools makes it so that only those who are wealthy, or who are talented enough and in the right place (ie, lucky), get to go to a good school. It means that the underprivileged, the poor, and many minorities do not get the chance to go to a school that gives a good education. It means people like me go to a for-profit school and labor under student debt that prevents us from participating in the economy, prevents us from living on our own, and prevents us from progressing in the way that we’re “supposed to”. As it is, I will probably never own a house. I cannot get my Driver’s License back, at least without great expense. I’m living in poverty and I still must pay a large amount of my monthly income toward my student loan. Last year, it was nearly a fifth of every dollar I received went to paying for an education that has never helped me. I never got the chance to even see if the career path I had decided on at 18 would have been a good one. I didn’t get two years to settle on a major. I did two years of intensive training in technology before I knew I’d have a medical condition that would prevent me from working in technology for the rest of my life. I didn’t get to explore my other talents and find a place where I really could do well, find a program that I could really make a difference in. I couldn’t because I was too poor to go to college. I never had the option.
Now, a way to help the poor without directly giving things to them – Maximum Wage Laws. Employees at many companies are under-paid for what they do. They’re overworked. They’re more productive than ever but they’re not paid for their productivity. They’ve been told that this is a meritocracy – the harder you work, the more you get paid. This isn’t true, though. The truth is the harder you work the more your boss gets paid. CEOs make more money right now than they could possibly ever need. Even if you control for the inanities of wage myopia, when you get down to it nobody needs ten houses that aren’t being rented or used. Nobody needs more cars than people in their household can drive them. The huge wages the CEOs make, though, are part of a zero-sum internal game. The more money they make, the less money everyone below them makes. Every dollar spent somewhere takes it away from anywhere else it could be spent. On top of that, if people feel underpaid, overworked, and poor then they’re more depressed (and less productive, more prone to medical problems, and more likely to work against the company’s and their own best interest). The gross inequality in earnings, especially given the kinds of work done by lower and middle strata employees in many companies, means that the people on the bottom get crushed. Maximum Wage laws, combined with stronger minimum wages, make the country more equal (which makes it healthier, more productive, and safer).
And if you don’t like Maximum Wage Laws, well we could always just tax the rich down to a maximum wage and redistribute, but people in the US don’t like that. Bottom line – make people more equal and everything will be better.
There are a great many things that would be a good idea as well, such as stronger public transportation, but that’s more of a good environmental idea and less a helping the poor directly kind of thing. ‘Cause if you do the things I outlined above, the poor will be able to take part in the local transportation paradigm. There is a group that can’t, though…
Equality for the Disabled
I am crippled. I’m crippled in a silent way. All of my muscles work, all of my bones are whole, all of my parts are there. But they don’t work right. I’ve got a serious tremor that fills my body on a regular basis, my muscles spasm regularly, and I sometimes (when stressed or tired) lose control over parts of my body. Occasionally the entire thing. I’ve thrown myself into the floor, into tables, into chairs, into walls without being able to control it. It affects how my joints have grown – I can crack any joint in my body, nearly on command. While typing this I have cracked all of my knuckles every five minutes or so and if I don’t do this, my hands feel like they’ve got knives driven through them. I also have to take a break every ten or fifteen minutes or the pain gets worse. This means I can’t drive anymore. I hit a freeway sign last time I did drive my car.
I also have all of the behavioral problems that come from high functioning autism. I’m literal, I’m direct, I’m obsessed with certain things (in my case, language and human behavior). I also have a few peculiar behaviors that I cannot really explain but which make it difficult for me to work. Namely, I cannot stand calling people on the phone. I also have days where I’m largely useless to the world because I cannot work on anything. I’m just entirely out of sorts. I have difficulty interacting with most people over technical subjects because of how I interpret data and how fast I can process data. I’m dangerously self-reflective and self-analytical. I’m horrifyingly other-analytical – I could possibly know parts of you better than you know yourself. I cannot stand inefficiency and working in an inefficient environment makes me depressed and less productive. I frequently have problems assessing and dealing with my needs, and all of my needs take a heavy toll on my personality and my productivity. Whether it’s my need for social validation, my need for food or drink, or even just managing my sex drive’s changes throughout the day. If I cannot work in my own space and in my own way at my own time, then I’m terribly unproductive and I cannot get anything done on time. And I’ll never call you to warn you about it.
So I am silently disabled. I’m not able to work in the rest of the economy with other people because of my neurological disability and my physical disability. It means that, after I lost my last job, I started working on things that I could do to support myself – I write, I design business ideas, I participate in large-scale conversations. I try to become part of the community. I do this because I need the community to support me. I frequently ask you, my readers, for monetary support because your’e my boss now. I don’t have any other options. I can’t just go back to school (poor) and I can’t do anything to make money at home or manage my finances or go back to my parents or any of those other things. They aren’t options. My options are do what I can outside of the normal economy. Thus, my blog. My writing. My begging.
Want to make the world better for me? Well then, let me explain how.
First, make it easier for the disabled to get around. Sure, a lot of us can drive cars and such but you’d be surprised how many of us have trouble opening doors. Walking or rolling from place to place. Affording something to roll around in if we can’t walk that much. I, for example, can walk relatively short distances just fine, and I can walk long distances slowly. I can’t drive, though, and I can’t do buses because of my autism. I can’t handle being around people like that. I can’t ride a bike (couldn’t afford one anyway) and there’s no way I can purchase any other self-transportation system on my own. Right now, I rely on pretty much the only person I can rely on – my girlfriend. Without her I’d be, well, completely and utterly lost most of the time. Beyond her I get help from a few close friends but no one does what she does, or supports me as much as she does. And she doesn’t deserve the stress it causes her because she can’t do more. What’d help, for me and a lot of other people, is help with better transportation in the city and an easier way to get a hold of self-transportation devices. This, alone, would make life better for a lot of people with physical disabilities and a fair number of people with mental disabilities.
Second, work with us to help us be productive. We need a certain amount of emotional, material, and economic support. We need help being educated and being lead toward a position where we can use our unique talents and capabilities to maximize our productivity and our happiness. People like me who are “operating” disabled don’t get the benefits of current disability support systems. For instance, I cannot get onto disability support from the State because I’m not disabled enough and I don’t have the money to see a doctor to prove it. There should be universally applicable and approachable systems to help educate us, help prepare us, and help us find positions where we can thrive. Ideally, this is a fusion of Health Care, Education and Housing programs that have been mentioned before. A way for people with even minor differences in their body structure or their mental structures and personality to find the assistance they need and the direction they need to be happy, productive, and fulfilled.
Oddly enough, this also includes trans* folk. Since many people forget that trans* folk are people too.
I think this just about covers the bases of how you can make the world a better place – fight for equality.
Oh! One more rule.
LIVE IN A DATA BASED AND DATA ORIENTED WORLD.
That means if a politician or a local representative or an economist or a scientist or a pundit or some guy on the internet says something, ask and go look for evidence. If they say that it’s not their job to educate you, they’re right. So look it up yourself. If they believe and it’s true there must be evidence to support it. If there isn’t, then it probably isn’t true.
Truth will set you free. There’s only one proven method for finding Truth, and that’s Science. And if you don’t agree well, like I’ve said before, You’re Wrong.