Archive | April 2013

The Great Society

I’ve had a busy couple weeks, sorry I haven’t posted in awhile. Today’s post, a not-that-in-depth overview of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s domestic plan, called The Great Society, is brought to you by an exam in my Sixties class.

                The Great Society. Aldous Huxley novel, or President Lyndon Johnson’s domestic plan? The answer is the latter, as Huxley had died the very same day John Kennedy did. So did C.S. Lewis. That was an awful day. But I digress. The Great Society, Lyndon B. Johnson’s domestic plan, (his liberal agenda) is summed up well in this quote by White House aide Joseph Califano:

“We simply could not accept poverty, ignorance, and hunger as intractable, permanent features of American society. There was no child we could not feed, no adult we could not put to work, no disease we could not cure, no toy, food, or appliance we could not make safer, no air or water we could not clean.”

                If one knew nothing about The Great Society, as many do not, Califano’s quote would do well to introduce them to it. By the end of Johnson’s term in 1968, poverty had been cut in half. This was the second-highest cut in American history, just behind FDR after the Great Depression, and just ahead of Clinton in the 1990s.

                This was not easy for the President. As all presidents who wish to help the poor do, Johnson had much opposition in Congress. A prime example of this is seen in one of the first things he did as President: tried to pass tax cuts for the poor and middle class. Before Congress would pass it, Johnson had to include spending cuts. Was this bad? Not necessarily, but it exemplifies the struggle Johnson sometimes had in passing his New Deal-esque programs.

                Tax cuts alone did not cut poverty from 22.2% to 12.6%, however. The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 created the Office of Economic Opportunity. The office oversaw the Job Corps, created to help not-so-well-off teenagers develop trade skills, and, for a time, Head Start, a program aimed towards small children.

                The war on poverty, while the biggest part of The Great Society, was not the only part. Civil rights were a big issue during this time as well. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned job discrimination and segregation of public stuff, such as water fountains and restaurants. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 assured minority voter registration, by banning 12-generation residency tests and constitution tests and whatnot for registration. While the 14th Amendment made it legal for all minorities (except women, that was later) to vote, the South doesn’t always catch on. Heck, Alabama didn’t ratify the 13th amendment abolishing slavery until 1996, and Mississippi just did a couple months ago. The Civil Rights Act of 1968 closed loopholes left open by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as banning discrimination in housing, and extending constitutional protections to Native Americans living on reservations.

                The impact of the Great Society can still be felt today. There is a Job Corps…somewhere around here. Either Mitchell or Minatare, I think. It is likely that poverty would be much higher today if it were allowed to stay where it was during Johnson’s administration. Blacks and Native Americans have rights that Nixon certainly wouldn’t have granted them, and I’m not sure Ford would have either, pushing these civil rights back, at the very least, to 1976, drastically changing today’s world in ways unimaginable.

How did a sarcastic status turn into a statement about society?

About a week ago, I posted a status on Facebook advocating gay marriage. It was sarcasm, and what it really sounded like was that I was against gay marriage, and stupid. But I thought it was still pretty obviously sarcastic. This was followed by a well-intentioned person, lets call her Sarah, thinking I was being serious and “gettin’ in my grill,” as they say. What follows is that status and her comments.

Number one reason to keep gay marriage illegal: We, as Americans, are almost out of people to look down upon as second-class citizens

Sarah: You’re probably gonna end up gay, stop talking s**t

Me: Cause you know, this totally isn’t sarcasm or anything. If I were being serious, would I really say “look down on” and call them second-class citizens? People who are actually prejudiced usually don’t know they’re prejudiced.

S: Not wasting my time with this. I’m not even going to waste time reading your comment. Bye court.

M: Sarah… does this status sound like someone who is actually homophobic to you? There are two things you can do to answer that question: a. Actually read my comment, and b. use your brain for a second. I am extremely liberal. For a month or so, every status I posted was advocating gay marriage. And, as I said in the comment that you won’t waste your time reading, this is not the language someone who is anti-gay would use.

S: Bye court again I’m not wasting my time

M: Are you retarded? [I realize that wasn’t cool of me, but put yourself in my situation. Justified? Absolutely not. But I’d like to think its more understandable)

S: Are you?

S again: Maybe you should get off Facebook and go do something with your life. You won’t win this Internet fight/battle. Bye.

M: Sarah… I am for gay marriage. THIS STATUS IS SARCASM

And that is when she stopped commenting. More comments followed, all of them calling Sarah stupid, but she wasn’t heard from again. I even messaged her a couple days later to make sure she knew I was pro marriage equality, but she probably didn’t read it.

Now, why am I telling you about this? Because it’s funny? Yes, I think its hilarious, but that’s reason #2. Reason #1, as the title suggests, is that I believe this made an interesting statement about society.

Most people would probably just think she’s stupid (especially since this isn’t the first hint I’ve gotten towards that conclusion) and move on with their lives, but I didn’t. I found it so surprising that anyone could think that a status using words such as “second-class citizen,” and “look down upon” was serious; because those are words that people would use if they know they’re being prejudiced, and like I said, I find that most people who are prejudiced don’t realize it; that I figured it must say something deeper than that. So I thought about it.

I think this says very upsetting things about the state of discourse on this issue, and others, today. I could say I’m against gay marriage, not because of religious reasons or anything like that, but because I look down on gays and don’t believe them to be first-class citizens like the rest of us–and someone took that seriously. She didn’t stop to think that I’m being sarcastic, even given the ridiculousness of what I said, and even given what a tolerant, liberal person I thought she knew me to be. As I’ve said several times, yes, she was just being stupid, but after awhile, I started to see why she might have thought that. Although I’ve never had the displeasure of meeting them, stories from others tell me that there are people out there who would indeed say something like what I said, not being sarcastic.

I think that’s just pathetic. I can kind of see why you’d be against it for religious, or even moral, reasons. But the fact that there is a fairly significant number of people out there who oppose same sex marriage because they look down upon homosexuals as second-class citizens is just sickening. A lot of times, these are the very same people who talk about how offended they are that Republicans are second-class citizens in this country. Which is, first of all, an opinion that draws nothing from reality to reach its conclusion. And second of all, do they not see the hypocrisy in that? “It really grinds my gears that conservatives are so persecuted in this country! Oh, the gays? You mean our second-class citizens?”

I’ve forgotten the point of this. I guess it just kind of turned into a rant. But even without the point that I originally intended, it is a pretty interesting thing to think about, I think.

P.S.  I think its pretty funny that my page says “updated nightly,” but I don’t update often enough to remember where the publish button is xD I’m sorry, I’m trying to work on that.

How Something Small Made a Very Big Impact

Sometimes when you’re in a very bad place, reassurance can come from the most unlikely of places. For me, that place was Pocket Planes, a Tycoon-type game I play on my Nexus 7 tablet.

For those that don’t know, Pocket Planes is a game that originated on Apple, then made its way to the Android market. The premise of the game is simple: You own a small airline, and you have to turn it into a big airline. If you’re interested, there is more info here: http://www.polygon.com/2012/11/14/3590214/pocket-planes-guide-how-to-build-the-best-airline

In the game, you can be part of a “flight crew:” There are certain events to fly things to certain places, and your flight crew is the group that you participate in these events with. In the menu, you have access to your flight crew’s ranking against other crews, and your personal ranking within your crew.

Now for why this matters to me: As I only got the game a few days ago, this is the first event I’m participating in. My crew, Reddit, is number 7 in the world, currently with 4,691 jobs done. I am number 15 in my crew, with 108 jobs done.

“So why does this matter?” I hear you muttering to yourself. Well, it probably doesn’t. However, the number 8 flight crew in the world has 4633 as I write this, meaning that without my 108, the Reddit flight crew would be number 8 in the world, instead of number 7. Is this a huge deal? No. But as someone who lives his life with clinical depression, who feels like he doesn’t really matter to anyone a lot of the time, it becomes a huge deal.

Those 108 jobs I’ve completed, and my being the difference between my team being number 7 in the world, and number 8, are not terribly important. However, in a world where I spend a lot of my time feeling completely insignificant, they are a big deal; and are just one more thing working with me, when it feels like most things are working against me.

So, my challenge to you, the reader, is this: If you see an opportunity to make someone feel important, in no matter how big or small a way, be sure to take it. I’m not saying to go out of your way to make every single person you meet feel extremely important, though– as great as that would be, it would start to become time-consuming and stressful, and the things you want to do would start taking the back seat. This would not be good, because we as humans need to put ourselves first, (evolutionarily, this is because food was scarce for almost all of the evolutionary life of Homo Sapien, so for awhile, if you let another person get the food, you probably didn’t eat for awhile) else we’ll get super stressed and our mental health will suffer. I’m just saying, try to make it a goal to make at least one person per day feel important. You never know how much of an affect that’ll have, even if it was something very small.

Thank you Mobage, developers of Pocket Planes among other games I haven’t played yet but plan to, for providing this opportunity. Consider me a loyal customer, although you already could have, because Pocket Planes is my favorite game right now anyway.