Archive for the Generalist Category

The School System

Posted in Generalist on June 5, 2009 by chastoms
Our Kids Our Future.

Our Kids Our Future.

If you want to do something to help your child view this video:

Schools are nothing but factories producing robots for the job market. Teachers have been conditioned to look for mistakes and they are made to believe that there are stupid or ‘intellectually challenged’ children and gifted children, which is actually a load of crock! Hence we have a generation of children with ‘mistake’ phobias wandering around the wasteland called the job market.

Personally, I discovered that I was slightly dyslexic and had ADD only in my late forties. I thought that there was really something wrong with me. My dad used to call me eccentric. The school system was unable to identify my challenges and there goes one more wasted talent!

Few people have heard of a black boy in the US with literally half a brain, since 1/2 of  his brain was shot off accidentally in a convenience store. This boy, with half a brain, managed to get his high school diploma and then a college degree! That says a lot about our education system. We need to overhaul  the status quo, of those who manage the school systems worldwide now!

The Case Against Capital Punishment

Posted in Generalist on April 18, 2009 by chastoms
Does the punishment justify the crime?

Does the punishment justify the crime?

There is nothing humane in capital punishment! In some countries, suicide is a crime, but when it comes to capital punishment these very countries have the power to take away a life through capital punishment.They say, on one hand, that suicide or even euthanasia is immoral and unethical but on the other hand,they are ‘baying for blood’ by enforcing capital punishment by calling it Justice. There is no ‘justice’ here. It is vengeance,’an eye for an eye’ pure and simple. For that matter, embryonic stem-cell research is also considered immoral and unethical in these very countries, but when capital punishment is called into question, the powers that be always turn a blind eye.

What the State is doing, be it communist or otherwise, is actually trying to usurp the power of God.They want the populace to toe the line, saying such measures will be a deterrent to crime, but there is no evidence to suggest that. There are no penological or sociological evidence to back it. Such crimes has been going on since time immemorial, and Man being Man has a propensity for crime.

Francis Bacon said,’every man is a potential murderer!‘. Man kills in so many different ways and society and the powers that be can deem it to be ethical or moral or even justifiable, like in the case of self-defence or during a war, which is becoming much more of a grey area than ever before. Demagogic tyrants, who call themselves politicians, who are drunk with power, that is power over life, who claim to supposedly  look out for the ‘greater good’, have agendas which are Machiavellian is nature.They are no better than the Roman rulers who decide whether the Gladiator in the Coliseum, lives or dies with a ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’.

To call ourselves civilized now is to be a bit too premature in reality.We, as human beings still seem to carry the barbaric nature of the ancients, until and unless we truly see the truth about ourselves and the world at large. It seems to me that morality and ethics have taken a back seat to ‘justice’ in our present age!

Not Mere Ramblings

Posted in Generalist on April 18, 2009 by chastoms

The Face Of Hope?

The Face Of Hope?

Not Mere Ramblings

President Obama’s move to allow embryonic stem cell research, after 8 years of restriction on federal funding on such research by the Bush administration, could not have come at a more opportune time. This measure made on the part of President Obama in reversing his predecessors Neo-conservative policies was viewed as a stumbling block for the development of potentially lifesaving medical technologies. I cannot help but notice how odd the Republican Party’s stand on stem-cell research is. The party’s stand on such research as being unethical seems to be more politically motivated than being based on religious grounds. Could it also be because there is a sinister conspiracy within the pharmaceutical companies to stop such research work because there will be more to lose than to gain if such medical technologies were available, since there will be drop in demand for their drugs? Are the drug manufacturer’s lobbyists in the US Senate working hand in glove with the FDA to stop such research and the only weapon they have to stop such research is to use ethics, as a reason? Is the FDA’s top brass having vested interests in stem-cell research? All these questions come to mind because the whole scenario is becoming Machiavellian in nature, and this is the stuff of conspiracy theorists. It also seems odd that when the Bush administration was harping on its ethical stand on stem-cell research it was also condoning capital punishment in the US. Both stem-cell research and capital punishment questions the sanctity of life. The issue of when a human embryo really becomes a human being, that is, is it at time of conception or after a few weeks from conception, is yet to be fully answered. That question is still in a philosophical and theological wilderness, and the scientific and religious community is still deliberating on that matter. This brings us to the whole question of where America stands on the issue of Statehood, what the fundamental beliefs of Americans are as a whole, and how the US Constitution is being interpreted by Neo-conservatives, with regards to science and religious beliefs, in relation with the rest of the world and for the good of all.

If all life is sacred, the Bush administration should have put a ban on capital punishment as well, like most of Europe, and not hide behind the US Constitution and Federal laws. The state of Texas, in which George Bush was Governor, has one of the highest numbers of people on death-row. Bush was condoning capital punishment on one hand and demonising stem-cell research on the other, whereas most of Europe and in some parts of the world; which are not dictated by outmoded ideologies, have liberalized the research on embryonic stem-cell research, with some imposed restrictions, of course. What gives? If capital punishment is ‘justifiable’ and now ‘ethical’, because those people who are for capital punishment are now saying that there are more ‘humane’ ways to kill a person on death-row, such as with drugs, are more twisted than a pretzel! In the name of justice, ethics and morality have taken a back seat. The State has usurped the will of God, in a manner of speaking. Even in the case of euthanasia, the individual has no power over his own life, but the State has the power to take away a human life in the name of justice. This reeks of double standards.

It was the same sort of people, the narrow-minded Neo-conservatives – maybe they are the philosophical remnants of the Confederate States during the American Civil war; of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, with the Dixieland flag flying in the background, and their Anglo-Saxon Protestant beliefs –who have a twisted view of the world, which was succinctly epitomized by the Bush administration. The world was black and white to them. There were no shades of grey. Remember, ‘you are with us or against us’; and terrorists were referred to as ‘evil folks’ by Mr. Bush? There is no such thing as a truly good or truly evil person; that view is subjective and relative and has no logical basis. Even during the Revolutionary War for Independence, the British branded the American patriots as terrorists. One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. Singer, songwriter Sting wrote a song called Russians in which he wrote, ‘the Russians love their children too’. These people are a small minority who live in world of their own making, a planet called America. They are totally cut-off from reality, and are causing a lot of problems both inside and outside the US. Take the Iraq war for instance, which was totally unjustifiable. WMD indeed! I can still picture General Colin Powel holding a bottle of some white powder in the UN General Assembly, all for dramatic effect! To regain the respect of the world, the US should take stock on its foreign policies and begin by liberalizing its world vision and not be taken in by the ‘New World Order’ gobbledegook promulgated by George Bush Senior and the Neo-conservatives. Hillary, Madam Secretary of State, the world is watching you with weighted breath!

If the US wants to gain the respect from the world’s intelligentsia and socio-political observers in particular and the rest of us in general, it has to change it stance, or it will be left behind in the wake of China and India. To have an economically powerful China at this time may destabilize the geo-political situation in the world. India is a different matter altogether. It has its own demons to fend off. But it is good to note that until today, India has not invaded another sovereign nation. The world needs a more rational and strong America; economically, politically and technologically, and a country built on strong moral principles to reign in such states. One must still remember that China is still a Communist state, with an ideology which is becoming obsolete, and the powers that be are willing to go to great lengths to exert their influence over their people, not to mention their stranglehold on Tibet and Taiwan. China’s human rights record stinks to high heaven, Tiananmen Square and all that, and it has the highest cases of people being put to death by the State, and they are now flexing their military muscle. America seems to be closing one eye to all these issues, because of this axiom, ‘the business of America is business’; double standards yet again. Remember the Yahoo! issue? These things are happening right now in China, as I write. Mr. Obama has to take the Republican ‘bull-elephant’ by the tusks and overhaul America’s philosophical base, or the world would be in dire straits. The self-indulgent and instant gratification seeking generation of the baby boomers, the NRA card carrying members and the Unionists, have taken America for a ride and at great costs, to the detriment of honest and hardworking citizens, and apparently Rush Limbaugh, has now become the epitome of it!

The financial crisis was inevitable. That is the reality of economics cycles, from boom to bust. George Soros had the foresight to warn the US and the world of an imminent financial or credit crisis in his book ‘The Credit Crunch of 2008’. Americans are being paid too much for too little work and they are losing their jobs to India and China, simply because of lower costs and higher productivity. The US cannot hide behind NAFTA or other similar trade agreements and organizations like the WTO. America now needs to realign its business strategy to create more jobs, more value and be more innovative. It is a known fact that government cannot create jobs, it is just an illusion. Entrepreneurs create jobs. People like Steve Jobs create jobs! Granted, Mr. Obama is just using the same method utilized by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) during the Great Depression. The media, like FOX and CNBC failed to mention that and were somewhat critical of what Mr. Obama is initiating to revive the economy. The fact is, what the Obama administration is doing is exactly what Roosevelt had done for his New Deal; ‘a car in ever porch and chicken on every table’ promise. He initiated the public works projects to create more jobs, and he got his advice from the British Economist, John Maynard Keynes, to pull America out of the Depression by way of the ‘Multiplier Effect’. Simply put, spending on public utilities will help revive businesses. His radical idea that governments should spend money they don’t have may have saved America form total financial collapse then. Any Economist worth his salt would vouch for that, but there is also a saying that when 10 economists gather together, there would be 11 opinions! But then again, the Nobel Prize winner, Professor Paul A. Samuelson, a ‘generalist’ and an economist, may also concur, but I am equally surprised that no one seems seek his advice, granted that he is in his 90’s now.

What America really needs now is a confidence boost, which is what Mr. Obama is doing now. Roosevelt said, ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’, during his inaugural speech. This phrase was written by non other than Napoleon Hill, a famous writer and motivator, author of ‘The Laws of Success’ and ‘Think & Grow Rich’. Roosevelt knew that to get the people out of the quagmire of the Depression was to help his people to get out of their psychological funk. America is great because of the spirit of its people, not its military strength, its cities and Hollywood. It is the entrepreneurial spirit and innovations of people like Ford and Edison, Jobs and Gates, who helped build America, the way it is today. Now America has been given second wind somewhat, by way of Mr. Obama, to revive its economy, by investing in the green revolution, researching and investing on alternative energy sources, possibly through concepts created by the genius Nicolai Tesla; by utilizing wind, solar and water power resources, to be less dependent on Arab oil, which was the primary cause of all the Geo-political mess in the Middle-east.

President Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’ clarion call may be the right antidote for the current crisis; to get the American people out of their financial rut. Wall Street is recoiling now because of the crises of confidence, not because the fundamentals; the fundamentals are strong in America. Why not follow Warren Buffet’s investment criteria or advice, when he says, ‘We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful’? To get back investor confidence and trust in funds and investment as a whole, there should be more transparency and regulations to keep Wall Street in check, so that people like Maddoff who made off with a lot of peoples hard earned cash with his Ponzi schemes will be put in their rightful place, in the pen. Another writer, Nassim Nicholas Taleb who wrote the book, ‘The Black Swan’ states that the lure of fast and easy money is caused by lazy investors, which is in fact axiomatic’! He also said, to quote, “ The Federal Reserve Bank protected them at our expense: when “conservative” bankers make profits, they get the benefits ; when they are hurt, we pay the costs.”

Probably the first stage for the recovery plan is to initiate the public works programs, building roads and bridges etc., to create jobs for the jobless, which was the Keynesian model used by Roosevelt in the first place. But during his time, the 2nd World War helped to spur the US Economy,  by helping to revive its steel and core manufacturing industries, needed for the building of planes and ships which requires a lot of manpower. Technology reached its zenith during this time; when the A-bomb was dropped in Japan, which was not a proud moment in human history.

There are a few hawkish Neo-conservative intellectuals in the US, ex-generals and military strategists, who believe that only a big war can revive the economy. One wonders whether the US military complex needs it more, or is it the country. The way things are going on in our planet, we do not need another war. The world does not need a belligerent America, but a more kindly and amiable friend, an ally.

The war on terror is a misnomer. Why, because unlike WW2, we knew who the enemy was, which were the Axis powers. Now, everyone who professes to be a Muslim is a potential enemy. All this thanks to Neo-conservatism. The war on cancer would have been a more rewarding endeavor. America need not go to war to revive its economy, or to get more oil to feed its addiction for fuel, or to help the fat cats maintain their lifestyles propped up by their lobbyists. It is time for America to start innovating again to revive its economy, investing in technologies which will help save the planets environment, new energy resources and strategies and less energy dependent technologies. Not creating more government agencies, that will eventually become self-serving, bloated and corrupt and obviously not more military machines.

American economist and sociologist, Thorstein Veblen, one of the most creative and influential minds in American social thought, coined the concept of ‘conspicuous consumption’. To take a quote from the website in his honor, The Veblenite, ‘he condemned the acquisitiveness and wastefulness of the newly wealthy “leisure class” ‘.Veblen, prophet like, foresaw what America, and also the developed and developing world are experiencing now. The need to have rather that the need to be has been the prime motivator of Americans in this generation since the baby boomers era. For the sake of the planets survival, and indeed humanity, this insanity has to stop.

I feel we are coming into a new Utopian age, an age where less is more and an age where all humanity have a common vision of brotherhood and goodwill, and a time where America can come of age and lead the way for the rest of the world. Let Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, “I have a dream….” and the words of America’s founding fathers in the American Declaration of Independence, who wrote, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’”, be also applicable to all of humanity on this planet. When they wrote ‘all men’, they did not just mean Americans, but every living human being on this planet, regardless of colour, creed or affiliation. That is why America is admired, and like any human being she has her foibles but I say again America is coming of age now. To quote Paul Simon, in his song America, ‘They’ve all come to look for America.’ All is not lost. Pandora’s Box still has Hope in it! And the world is waiting for America to show the way out.