Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Prison and Poverty

It’s a well known fact that much of crime is driven by and comes from poverty. Have not’s take it from the have’s. The equation is simple, as people are in need of things they don’t have, they take these things from people who do have them. There is a portion of crime which is done out of passion, but this pales to the number of crimes committed for the former reason. Considering how much of tax payer money goes into crime fighting and prevention: Is it reasonable to eliminate poverty  in order to deter crime?

It seems to me that most Americans believe it to be very reasonable to contribute their tax dollars to fighting crime and keeping criminals in prison. However, I believe most would not find it reasonable to use their tax dollars to eradicate poverty by giving everyone comparable living conditions occupation if available. Despite that by eliminating poverty, the crime rate will fall dramatically- an effect sure to benefit society many times over. Yet people would see this as making a whole segment of the population unmotivated. Even if that becomes the case, I think its better then having a segment of the population starving and willing to do anything to survive and feel a sense of economic security.

It is easy to assume that criminals do what they do because they feel no other option to survive. Their options or occupations are usually not there to begin with, or would make them under funded for life’s expensive (leading them to take on debt they usually can‘t pay off). Therefore, its plain to see how providing the poor with the living conditions necessary would deter the incentive for crime by leaving people with the thought “do I really want to risk this” instead of thinking “if I don’t do this I cant go on”.  

I think many people  aren’t hesitant to support prisons, even though the tax dollars that go into maintaining each inmate is much more then a living yearly wage. It’s also well known that the poor make up most of the prison population. Therefore, if we already pay for the poor after they get in trouble, why not pay to prevent them to get in trouble?

Poverty should be eliminated as it would benefit society by reducing crime and allowing a part of society that is usually a breeding ground for crime and violence, to become something that can eventually give back to the whole. This may have socialistic overtones, but prisons itself is a socialist endeavor. Its well known that preventive medicine is always better then proactive medicine; the same goes with poverty: rather then paying for it in the form of crime, joblessness, and hunger, we can pay for it directly so that part of public can give back to society, rather then just sucking from it.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Imagine for a minute… Less Defense, More Education

A world where the spending that is put to military defense here, is instead spent on the education of individuals. Imagine a world where universities and other places of education recruit and provide (bribe) people with the same level of resources such as great pay, newest technology, and occupational security as do militaries. What if the research and development departments of defense contractors with their huge and sometimes blank government paychecks, would instead have their funds diverted to research and development programs to further education? Instead of creating million dollar missiles which can destroy one floor of a building and not the others, or a gun bullet that can turn corners, we could create ways of teaching something like math to a child which makes it fun and engaging rather then dull and boring. Imagine instead of paying for education, it is given for free like the way military service is free. Imagine a world where education and the betterment of humanity thought technology and knowledge is the most sought after thing by the government, rather then geo-political control of resources or military perpetuity. Some may say this is a utopian pipe dream; I on the other hand do believe that a society of scientists, artists, and technicians created by a government determined to the education its citizens could replace this society of perpetual war profiteering and debt. This one is for you America!  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Two perspectives on death (or immortality?)

One argues that as we “popped” or “grew” in to existence, it could reasonably happen again. That is, the feeling of being in the present moment, devoid of personality and memory, may persist after death, just to emerge into a new reality. This cycle can be seen as a random form of reincarnation.

The second states that because time itself in an infinite experience, death as a point in it is never reached. Many have felt the experience of time slowing down for usually some strenuous reason. Its easy then to imagine this effect being pushed to its logical extreme; time moves on forward, ever slower, never reaching the point of death. So even though we may die, we never reach that point because our experience of time becomes slower and slower.    

Not sure which one I fancy. The latter fits with the modern scientific worldview. It can be empirically inferred that peoples experience of time slows down. The former on the other hand cannot be tested and remains idle speculation until it can be done so. However, this does not make any one more inherently valid then the other.

A quick note on the idea of popping or growing into reality. The former assumes that whatever we are, we are it from beginning to end. The latter assumes we are at first incomplete, developing to peak levels and maturing before we die.

Both of these perspectives give reality to immortality.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Caring as a kind of Dominance

Thinking of dominance usually does not evoke images of caretakers laboring to help others, but appearances are deceiving.

Taking a look back to our origins as humans, we see that coming out of primate politics (male hierarchy) humans were surprisingly egalitarian in their social organization. Although there were elders who were revered for their knowledge, no such things as a special or stratified class or kingship existed. It was only much later that tyranny began to take hold and royalty emerged. Naturally, some question why the shift from and back to dominance hierarchy? It hasn't happened to any other primate, and we also fell back in to it. It’s temping to think of this time in human history as akin to the garden of Eden when all seemed right as people treated each other more or less equally (as long as you were in the right tribe or band).

Perhaps this era was a more tolerant time for human attitude and behavior; more connected to the earth’s cycles and dynamics- fining identity not just with the self, but with the rest of society and nature in the form of ritualistic myths and animal worship. Many do believe this and as a result see the current development of mass civilization as a detriment to our species; it’s seen as an artificial world we don’t fit in with, and deep down we yearn back to that simple time when things had less names, but the things themselves brought more meaning with them, especially the mysteries. All of it sounds romantic and even a little idealistic. But was the era not an absence of dominance, but instead another shade of it?      

At first it may seem hard to imagine care as a way of dominating another person. The fact that one sacrifices to help another in order to care for them seems to be lacking the violence and force domination usually brings to mind. The notion becomes easier to grasp when we consider that the central characteristic of dominance is not violence or even evil, but control. In the act of caring, one assumes control over another in order to provide help. They dominate the person by taking over the deeds which would usually be up to the individual themselves. Some may find this to be counter-intuitive to their idea of what domination can bring out in people. This is a kind of domination which is proactively social rather then being tyrannical.

Just maybe, we as a species never stopped our dominance tendencies during that era before sophisticated civilization. Rather, we merely changed from one kind of dominance to another; from one which exploits to one which helps. But the question of power still remains: is it ever good or just to be under another’s control? Regarding our current society and its emphasis on individual liberty (while we still have it), domination is not seen as a fair way to behave, even (for conservatives) if its in the form of help. The tide against the formation of universal healthcare by conservatives is an illustration of the ideal of liberty in opposition to power, because to care for someone is to dominate. Self-sufficiency is the cornerstone of liberty, even though it involves risk.

This brings the topic to the debate between the balance of person liberty with civic duty. How much is one not only free to do, but obligated to do by society (i.e. other people). If we believe all forms of power and dominance to be malevolent and wrong, then one believes that individual liberty should be maximized. On the other hand, if one thinks dominance has a good side, then the power of society on the individual, as long as its in their best interest (whatever that happens to mean) should be strictly implemented into their lives.

It’s clear how dominance being control has vast implications for not only the origins of human civilization, but how we are related to the large body we call society. Does dominance have a productive and just side, or is it always wrong to lord power over others (unless they ask for it, as then it would be their own will)?  

Another implication of this new look on dominance is the role of women in this dynamic. If caring is dominance, then all mothers are dominate of their children. And as everyone came from a mother, everyone has a dominator. Therefore, the role of mother as caring dominator shows the flip side of the male dominator role of not children per se, but society and politics in general. This broadens dominance from the male sphere  into both genders. What was once seen as one way dominace dynamic (between genders) seems to be more of a two way street with both genders playing their respective roles. Although the male side of domiance attracts more immediate attention, the female side is no less pervasive and situated in society.