Who Hijacked Our Country

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Let's Have Fun With Numbers

Sorry, I don't have a link for this. It was the daily chalkboard message at Port Book and News, Port Angeles, WA.

Most people are already familiar with this first statistic: America has five percent of the world's population but consumes 25 percent of the world's oil. (Actually, it's up to 26% now.)

But did you also know:

The U.S.A. sells more guns and weapons around the world than every other country put together.

Americans consume sixty-six percent of the world's illegal drugs.

And twenty-three percent of the world's prison inmates are in America. (How's that "limited government" workin' out for ya?)



Anonymous kate said...

We don't have limited government. We have large, expensive, wasteful, government who has their priorities terribly mixed up. We have been raised to be a self indulgent country, which is why we consume so much oil. Our prisons are full of many non-violent inmates. We waste time, energy, and money on protecting the guilty, violent criminals, and end up housing them for decades for appeal after appeal. Our country is screwed up, thanks in part to the government, parents, and the education system. We have become a country of instant gratification which is why we consume 60% of the world's illegal drugs. It has become ok to let government "take care" of us instead of being responsible for ourselves. Instead of assisting those who really need our help, we have created a society of generational ill educated people who believe they are "owed".

Big businesses and corrupt politicians have driven our economic system into the ground. The gap between the elite rich and the middle class has grown in huge leaps and bounds. I'm convinced there will come a time in the not so distant future where there will be no middle class. This country was built on the backs of the hard working laborers, and yet they are the very ones who do not reap the rewards.

Limited government, in the right hands, can work fairly for all, but we are not headed in that direction.

June 19, 2010 at 6:15 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Kate: Excellent diagnosis. Spot on.

June 19, 2010 at 8:15 PM  
Blogger Hybrid said...

Time to move over to Hybrid vehicles. Time for mass consumption to end.

Follow me on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/thinkhybrid or check out my blog @ http://hybridnow.blogspot.com/

June 19, 2010 at 9:12 PM  
Anonymous Tim said...

U.S.A...U.S.A. glad we're good at something.. The chant is deafening...

June 19, 2010 at 10:18 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

That's an eye-opening, sobering set of statistics, all right. Together they emphasize the point that this country is still a work in progress, with lots of work to be done.

Here's another one, from today's local paper. Unemployment numbers went down quite a bit in May, not because more people found jobs but because so many exhausted their unemployment benefits and were dropped from the statistics.

June 20, 2010 at 1:05 AM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Kate, when you have some time to just think, try giving some quality thinking time to this.

Government isn't an alien third party sent down from Planet X to ruin everything that's good in America. Government is us. It's shaped by our attitudes; by our willingness to donate to this candidate or cause, or to not donate; by the votes we cast and the elections we don't bother with.

People in government aren't alien beings, either. They come from our neighborhoods. They're ones we went to school with, served in the military with, maybe come from our own family. You've got some good ones, some so-so ones and the occasional bad one -- just as in any large organization, whether it's GE, the Catholic Church or Wal Mart.

Not perfectly, not in every instance, but overall in this democracy, government reflects who we Americans are and what we want and don't want. Typically, blaming government for bad outcomes is like blaming a taxi driver because you don't like the looks of the address you had him take you to.

Did the economy get wrecked in part because people in government failed to conduct oversight and enforce regulations on those who did the wrecking? You betcha. But how did that situation come about?

Look back a few years, to when people elected Ronald Reagan, whose attitude was "government is not the solution, it's the problem," and "I'll get government off your back, get government out of businesses' way so the free market can create wealth and jobs the way it once did."

So, we spent 35 years dismantling New Deal safeguards, replacing knowledgeable, motivated, conscientious watchdogs with industry hacks from the industries that were supposed to be watched and regulated. The SEC, for example, didn't have a clue about all those toxic assets, didn't fully understand credit default swaps. Asleep at the switch -- off AIG's back, off the Wall Street banksters' backs, and look at what happened.

Did things go so wrong because the SEC is a rotten agency full of incompetent people? Should the agency be done away with? Or, should industry hacks in it be replaced with people who understand the need for doing proper oversight and enforcing tough regulations?

As much to the point, did the SEC become a useless tool because it's unnecessary and full of no-good people, or was it made a useless tool by people like Reagan, Bush 41, Bush 43, Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey -- people a majority of Americans elected?

Think it over, Kate. Government isn't the answer to all of our problems, can't meet all our needs. Still, there's plenty it can and should do, and do well. We need it. We need it manned by good people and to be good at what it does.

If you think otherwise and can show me some way to make a big, complicated country of 300 million-plus people work safely, fairly and reasonably well with little or no government, I'll be willing to think seriously about that.

June 20, 2010 at 1:40 AM  
Anonymous kate said...


In an ideal world, government IS us. We have made being a politician much too lucrative, and overall, politicians have taken criminal advantage of us and our trusting nature. Many of us believe that if we elect a good, honest, well educated person to whatever position, we are "safe" and have done our job...it is now time for this good, honest, well educated elected official to do his/her job. Far too often that does not happened.

I agree, government is NOT the answer to all our problems, but there is a lot government can do, And more importantly should do. It's far too easy for political candidates to spew what they know people want to hear to get themselves elected, and then go awry once they are encased in the whole tangled mess of lobbyists, special interests, their own agendas, etc.

I have a deep interest at my local level of government, and my observations have been that limited government works better than big government every single time. But it takes good, honest, caring, well informed, and strong individuals whose only purpose is the good of the area and have no personal agendas, owe no favors, and aren't "in it" just to get re-elected again and again.

Government isn't some alien from planet X? Sometimes I wonder.

June 20, 2010 at 4:45 AM  
Blogger Beekeepers Apprentice said...

Hmmm....I was talking about numbers this morning, myself. As in NRA members outnumber all military and law enforcement in the US 2 to one. Unsettling, it was.

June 20, 2010 at 6:27 AM  
Blogger T. Paine said...

Kate, as per usual, you are absolutely correct.

Anderson, you do make some good points, sir; however, most conservatives I know are not for an elimination of government thus resulting in anarchy. They are, rather, for a limited constitutionally based government.

Regulation to protect consumers, workers, and ensure fair competition are indeed vital and necessary.

Laws telling me what kind of light-bulb I must use or how many gallons of water my toilet can use per flush is asinine and way past proper boundaries of the federal government.

You are correct that we get the government we voted for, unfortunately there are far too many Americans that are too busy with their day to day lives or don't care enough to be politically aware and vote for good people to represent them accordingly.

As for Mr. Harper's numbers, Kate did a good job of explaining why those numbers exist. I would point out though, that while Americans consume a quarter of the world's oil, we are also responsible for 40% in the world's productivity. Seems like a good return on investment to me!

Drugs and prisons are results of a poor education system and people not taking self-responsibility seriously; something that seems to be exacerbated by progressive policies rather than mitigated.

Government has a place and purpose, and Anderson is correct that we do have an obligation to pay attention and vote for those representing us that will do the best job; NOT for those that will solve all of our problems and provide more pork so we don't have to be responsible for our selves.

First of all that doesn't work as the New Deal and Great Society and the War on Poverty have proven. Second, and I know I keep harping on this, the government is not constitutionally authorized to pass legislation to be the all encompassing provider of America.

It is my understanding that people wishing to become US citizens must pass a basic US history and civics test before doing so. Perhaps we should require the same thing of all American citizens before they are given the right to vote. While I am not serious about this, I wonder if I should be....

June 20, 2010 at 8:38 AM  
Blogger Lew Scannon said...

The answer is easy. Since we consume 63% of the world's illegal drugs (not to mention the legal ones many of Americans have prescriptions for) we are living in alternate reality, where our belief systems are easily swayed because under the influence of many mind and mood altering chemicals, we are no longer able to think clearly, are paranoid about everything, and need to feel secure in our numbed condition so that no one harshes our buzz.

June 20, 2010 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

I like what Kate seems to be saying, for the most part... that less-wasteful government based more on the American people than on business interests is going to help us if we can ever get to that place.

Government isn't the answer to all our problems, nor is it the reason for all of them. There is a happy middle ground to be found, and in the spirit of moderation... but nowadays moderation has become some bad thing, some foreign idea.

Moderation requires work, and yes, if something can't be achieved instantly, many of us just don't want to bother with it anymore.

I think the instant gratification thing is part of the problem with our education system. I don't think the problem lies in the fact that it is a *public* education system. I believe what we see has been caused by changes in our societal attitudes and rapid technological advances, and by the subsequent pressures brought to bear upon the system, with some parenting issues thrown in (as Kate mentioned).

It is not simply the fault of the system itself, nor is it the fault of the idea on which the system is based (as some on the right will suggest). Who taught so many of us that we are "owed" and don't need to work to get where we should want to go in life? I don't think schools are teaching our kids this idea, and certainly not directly. Many kids come to school with that idea, which has been instilled elsewhere, and don't bother to work in school because they may not think it's necessary.

Blaming our education system itself on the way we have become a wasteful, drug-abusing, violent, punitive society of instant gratification-seekers is a route I won't be taking. But as a special education teacher who has worked in public schools for the last 26 years, that's my bias.

I agree with Kate about the economic system. I also think the class division is going to take a pretty big toll on America in the next 10-20 years, and unless people work to point this out and do it prominently and often, in another 20 or 30 years Americans may not know there was ever such a thing as the middle class. And I think as this problem progresses, we will see it reflected in less opportunity for more American kids re. their educational options.

June 20, 2010 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger TomCat said...

OK. Lets legalize pot, convert the prison space that will free up to an industry to beat the guns into plowshares.

June 20, 2010 at 11:17 AM  
Blogger Demeur said...

I find it interesting to hear conservatives who say spend less and less government and when they had the chance they spent more and expanded government. They scream about evil government until they need it as in with the Gulf spill.
As for education they want poorly educated because they're easier to control.

June 20, 2010 at 12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never known nor seen anybody, regardless of class and standing that didn’t depend on the Government for something, we all contribute to it. Columnist Dave Ross was one of many that brought out the hypocrisy of those who previously didn’t the Government involved in their affairs down South who now scream and demand Obama do something about the BP spill. The Conservatives who said they were going to give us smaller Government and get it off our back actually made it bigger as did the Liberals.

Anyone that screams for smaller, less Government I always manage to run down a list of the things that the Government does for us, point out which one(s) they take advantage of and ask “do you want to get rid of that one?” They admit no they don’t. Even though we all grumble about Taxes and would cheer if someone blew up the IRS, I ask where is the money going to come from – they have no solid answer, if they ever even thought about it.

I mean the seniors figure that have worked their asses off for their many years and contributed to society and figure someone owes them a living, whether it’s Social Security or demanding the Government to keep their employer from ripping off their pension, or Wall Street their investments. The Young figure we are the future and why should they support you geezers? They might want help with education, starting families, and enough income to enjoy themselves until they get old.

Then watch the Upper class get more of their fair share of tax breaks, loopholes and such not because doing so may be to everyone’s (Like reinvestment or jobs) benefit, but because they CAN.

T. Paine I wish you would stop picking on the New Deal and the Great Society as the center of our evils, especially when you should remember one dirty little secret: the biggest Conservative denouncers of the New Deal are those who fully took advantage of it, made their status with it, then turn around and tell us it was a evil and we should no longer have it. Whether it’s Ronald Reagan or veterans like Bob Dole and others whom (I supposed) gritted their teeth and took advantage of programs that didn’t exist prior like help for disabled veterans, and the GI bill. Then bit by bit try to take it apart over the next 60 years.

The Great Society, like TARP many dove into the gravy train for themselves and their home districts then turn around and call it big, wasteful, and evil. You could hear the hate when the Bush Administration tried to blame the Rodney King riots on the Great Society Programs – Please!

I assume when you attack these programs you are not attacking the Civil Rights bills that were part of them – right? : ).

As for our prison system as Clarence Darrow once said in a speech in a prison; “You are only here because you have no money!” The Idea that people are basically evil and need someone to keep a check on them. It makes sense to put up penalties to discourage that behavior. So just when I accept that I can do serious time I walk into a bank, hand them a note and walk out with cash, I don’t accept that I can use a computer, get millions and do less time for that. How is that discouragement? Instead we have become Victims of a sort, we blame the evil Columbians for flooding our streets with drugs and instead of going after the true money from buying it (hint: the money to buy it ISN’T coming from the Ghetto Streets). We blame the illegal Aliens for taking our jobs, instead of going after the big employers who knowingly employ them (hint: It takes big money to employ them).

And now we are building up one of the biggest Government bureaucracies of all – The Penal System


June 20, 2010 at 12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

T Paine:

"how many gallons of water my toilet can use per flush is asinine and way past proper boundaries of the federal government."

Do you mean just Federal or any Government? Would you object if the Government told you how to build your house if you lived in a high earthquake district, flood district, or what how to handle your property if you live in a high fire district?

Energy is not at a premium. You can't use what you want just because you can pay for it. So is it wrong to tell you to have some sort energy saving devices like insulation and other items that save overall energy as well as help you stay cooler in summer or warmer in the winter?

Living in a area affected by droughts I can tell you low flushing toilets have saves a lot of water. Desert cities now have laws what sort of plants you can plant in your yard, native ones that take less water. Is that OK or intrusive on your rights.

Or are you the type to scream because you want the Government to divert more premium waterway to you for that reason?

Back to the toilets -in California only new construction and replacement toilets are low flushing. They have never made anybody go out and buy a new toilet. You made take advantage of some tax breaks and/or credits set up by Utilities and/or communities to do so (ie Other peoples money) but no one ever forced anybody to do so, until it is time to get replaced (like broken).

Curious example you use


June 20, 2010 at 12:49 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Kate wrote, "We have made being a politician much too lucrative, and overall, politicians have taken criminal advantage of us and our trusting nature."

I disagree. Big-money individuals and organizations are what have made being a politician too lucrative, not the citizenry. I have a post up right now on that very problem, and I invite you to read and comment on it.

I understand how you can say you think politicians overall take criminal advantage of us, but again, I don't agree. I do believe too many politicians are much too influenced by those big-money interests and individuals. But we the people have let that happen.

The inescapable thing about a democracy is that, for good or ill, ultimately, the people are responsible for how well it works and what it does. Democracy isn't a "set it and forget it" kind of thing. Nor is it something where an instant fix can be applied when it goes astray. To work well, democracy requires that people do their homework, learn about issues and people, learn to distinguish between attack ads and demagoguery, and sensible, truthful advocacy and criticism.

Plenty of political officeholders deserve blame. But behind every one of them are people who gave them the money and votes to get elected and re-elected.

June 20, 2010 at 3:10 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

T. Paine wrote: "Laws telling me what kind of light-bulb I must use or how many gallons of water my toilet can use per flush is asinine and way past proper boundaries of the federal government."

Well, surprise: liberal ol' me agrees. However, I don't know of any laws against using incandescent bulbs in homes or businesses.

However, you should quit knocking the New Deal and Great Society. Both scored tremendous achievements you're obviously ignorant of. For example, LBJ's War on Poverty nearly cut the number of Americans living in poverty in half within four or five years. Tragically, that initiative was very much a casualty of the Vietnam War, getting too little oversight and supervision after it was started because the war became all consuming for the White House and Congress.

The fact that the Great Society/War on Poverty initiatives were overtaken by a war and controversy about that war doesn't meach such efforts aren't worth making. We need to learn how to do them more effectively, efficiently and in sustained ways over time. The resulting payoff could be huge for everyone.

And please, before anyone starts regurgitating GOP/Fox/Heritage Foundation talking points, the goal of such programs is to get more and more people who are able to be economically self-sufficient and self-sustaining. At the same time, some programs recognize some people aren't and never will be fully able for various reasons, but shouldn't be left to barely subsist in grinding poverty. That is so both because rotting in poverty is bad for the very poor and their children, but also because it's bad for society as a whole to have that going on.

June 20, 2010 at 3:33 PM  

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