March 2013


So, one argument I’ve been hearing a lot this week from those who oppose same sex marriage has been that traditional marriage has “worked” for thousands of years.  I have to wonder what “working” means in this case.  If by “working” we mean just “continuing the human species”, then yes, we have done that.  I suppose that continuing to exist can be a success in itself.  But has traditional marriage truly been an effective way of living life?  Women, in particular, have held a shitty and repressed role in marriage for all those glorious thousands of years.  Has traditional marriage worked for them?  Many married human beings have spent their lives being miserable and unfulfilled in those marriages.  It almost makes me wonder if gays and lesbians really want to be a part of the marriage train.

But the basic truth about marriage is that it’s an economic contract.  That is what it has been about for straight people for centuries, with romantic love only being a recent addition to the mix.  That’s why most of the arguments in favor of same sex marriage have been about money, and rightly so.  And about the simple desire of people wanting to be treated like everyone else, which is completely understandable.

I see no good reason not to expand the definition of marriage to same sex partners.  I also can’t help but question the “sacred institution” of marriage itself.  Hopefully we can continue to re-invent our institutions and traditions in ways that make our lives happier and more fulfilling.

“He must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love:  the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison.”  —  Pope Francis

“The mystic parasites who have, throughout the ages, reviled the traders and held them in contempt, while honoring the beggars and the looters, have known the secret motive of their sneers: a trader is the entity they dread–a man of justice.”  —  Ayn Rand

All right, Paul Ryan.  Enlighten me.  How can you be a follower of both?  I’m having genuine trouble figuring this out.

Now, I don’t necessarily agree with Bloomberg’s rules about soda.  But still.

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Higher education in America–or at least access to it–has been on a downward slide.  According to this depressing New York Times article, state and local financing for higher education has dropped 7 percent since last year, just as costs are rising and students are having to pay more.  And if you want to get even gloomier, look at the trend over the past 25 years–the percentage of higher education costs coming from tuition and fees has increased to 47 percent from 23 percent in 1987.  So yes, more of the cost of college is being shifted onto the family and the student.  Good thing our wages have been going up over the same time period…oh, wait.

And now, the sequester–here to make things even worse.  Remember, it was supposed to be dumb and arbitrary, and it is.  Work-study programs and grants are going to sustain serious cuts.  Also, origination fees on college loans are expected to increase.  All in all, about 70,000 college students are likely to be affected, and they are low income students–the ones who can least afford it.

Until recently, some financial support for universities was provided by that evil, evil stimulus bill, but that funding has now run out.  There is a Higher Education Act coming up for a vote in the future, but considering that this is the Congress which for the longest time couldn’t get its act together on violence against women, I’m starting to suspect this bill will get blocked, like everything else these days.

We are doing this to ourselves–and have been for a while–just as our international rivals such as China are looking for ways to offer their educational institutions more subsidies and support, and thus give themselves an edge in global competition.

But hey, these student moochers, right?  Why are they expecting government support?  Never mind that a good education gives them a better chance at being productive citizens–and not needing social services–after they graduate.  On the other hand, if our education system goes down the tubes, that dreaded 47% will turn into an even larger and more impoverished underclass–is that really what we want?

When I criticize Fox News for being biased, I frequently get the response from avid Fox watchers that Fox is not biased, it is in fact objective, especially as compared to the liberally slanted “lamestream” media.

But then there’s stuff like this article about the sequester.  The article actually states:  “Republicans want to replace the current regime of cuts with different, more sensible, cuts.”

Huh? Now keep in mind, this is a news article, not opinion.  Last time I heard, the Republican version of “sensible” involved going after Social Security and Medicare as a first priority.  Going after the elderly, sick and disabled, who already don’t have very much, is not sensible.  Especially if you refuse to consider any other sources of revenue.

And just as importantly, saying that one party is “more sensible” than the other is clearly opinion and bias.  I can’t imagine a news source like the BBC, for instance, injecting a phrase like this into their reporting, without it being a quote from somebody else.  I can imagine MSNBC using this kind of wording, but then I’m fully willing to admit that MSNBC is biased in the liberal direction–that’s why I enjoy watching them so much.

Perhaps those who watch Fox should also be able to admit that it’s not objective and that is why they love it.