Whom Should We Subsidize?
There is currently a great furor in our country about spending and budget deficits. During the previous administration there was an unprecedented increase in government spending while there were significant reductions in revenue due to tax reduction. The greatest beneficiaries of the tax reductions were the wealthiest members of our society. It would seem logical that we should increase our revenue while at the same time reduce spending.
Are there spending reductions that can be made that would not cause harm to our most vulnerable members of our society? I believe that the answer is yes. We can make reductions in spending that will not hurt our country.
Historically, countries—and our country is included—will give subsidies to support an emerging industry. This has been a successful strategy that has helped to nourish new industries. Why does oil and gas, a mature industry, need multibillion dollar subsidies? Why does an industry that is experiencing the greatest profits of any company and industry in the history of the world need to be subsidized? Immediately stopping these subsidies will reduce our spending in a real significant manor.
Military spending has increased by 81 percent over the last 10 years. The United States spends more on our military than nearly the whole rest of the world combined. The United States has 761 military bases in countries all over the world. (The Romans had 37 bases abroad and the British had 36 bases abroad.) Some are small camps and others are like small American towns of 5,000 people or more with air traffic that rivals the largest U.S. airports. It is no wonder we have a trillion dollar defense expenditure. No wonder we don't have the resources to educate our children and support our retired citizens.
A major factor in the increase in our military expenditures has been the increasing privatization of our Department of Defense. In very recent years, private contractors have performed more and more of our defense function. The traditional name for these people is mercenaries. These are the soldiers who are hired by private armies who are not accountable to the U.S. military and get paid much more than ordinary U.S. service personal. Private contractors now provide meals for our service personal at an inflated cost to our taxpayers. In the past, soldiers worked in the mess hall and could pick up a weapon if necessary. War profiteering is not new but the practice of privatizing what was previously performed by soldiers and others in service of our country has provided unprecedented profits at time when we can least afford it.
We can save hundreds of billions of taxpayer money if we immediately halt no-bid contractors, stop using mercenaries to perform military duties and examine the need for overseas military bases. Some people believe that private business is always more cost efficient than government agencies. Government agencies do not need to make ever-increasing profits or any profit at all. Can merging the profit motive with war be a good thing? Can we really afford our military occupation of the world? Shouldn't the mobility of our forces negate the need to be physically present everywhere? We know that the army of defense industry lobbyists will resist these changes, but we must say no to their demands and do what is best for the future of all of our entire country.
Unkempt Pet Owners
I’ll begin by saying that I love dogs, my fellow Albuquerqueans. My family and I owned a lovable Lab that brought joy to our lives for many happy years. Ninja was adored, but, for Pete’s sake, he had his own dishes.
That being said, I'd like to ask that when I'm visiting a pet-person that they puh-lease wash their hands before grabbing the ice cubes for my (supposed-to-be) refreshing drink, as I've never really acquired a taste for iced pet dander.
And I'd really appreciate it if you wouldn't serve me meals on the same plates your animals ate from, licked on or vomited over. Also I'd prefer not seeing that you allow your dog to eat the leftovers from the kitchen pots and pans that you just made my spaghetti dinner in.
I ask sincerely and imploringly: Would it kill you to wash your hands every so often? Well, would it? Your dog licks his own ass and scrotum, then he licks the ticks and fleas off his fur, and there you are just rubbin' and luvin' and almost French-kissing that cute pooch of yours. Then you want to touch me? Or my food? Or again, my ice cubes?
Don't give me that crap about how "it's been proven that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth." You wouldn't want me to lick on your face if I had the habit of licking my own sphincter on a regular basis, and you should feel the same about your dog.
Once, while visiting my boyfriend's parents, their dog (which is treated like a person in a dog suit) ripped open one of her toys. The toy happened to be stuffed with tiny plastic beads. No problem—the toy was taken away and placed out of reach. Later in the evening we're sitting at the dinner table enjoying our Thanksgiving feast when my boyfriend's mom finds those very same plastic beads (that her dog had regurgitated earlier), in a mouthful of cornbread stuffing she was savoring. I forced myself to not look appalled as I continued to painfully gulp my food down with a smile on my face. I thought to myself there was no telling what the hell I was eating.
One more thing: I don’t really appreciate how you allow your dog to sniff my crotch, jump on me, ruin my pantyhose, scratch me and drip dog phlegm on my lap—without uttering a single "Down boy!"—as you stand there with that goofy oh-look-how-cuuuute grin on your mug. Jeez.
The Literature of Steampunk
[Re: Feature, “Full Steam Ahead,” July 21-27] Great article! Hey, maybe we could get the city to subsidize our artists, sculptors, musicians, visual artists and creative folk of all ages to build our own Steampunk Dirigible Airship. A showcase for the Underground Arts movement and a showpiece at the Balloon Fiesta. Hmmm ...
For those interested in the literature of steampunk, check out the early works of K.W. Jeter, James P. Blaylock and Tim Powers. Back in the day, this trio of young writers who hung out together pioneered their own individual mashups that influenced steampunk. In fact, it was Jeter who coined the term “steampunk” in the ’80s as a response to the “cyberpunk” movement. Intriguingly, they spent a lot of time with Philip K. Dick in his last decade. He encouraged them as a mentor and colleague.
Publishers Angry Robot (Jeter's Morlock Night and Infernal Devices) and Subterranean Press (Blaylock's The Adventures of Langdon St. Ives) have these writers in print as well as e-books. They are offering their e-books at $4.99 or less, a wise move.
Tim Powers' books have evolved into mashups of fantasy, the supernatural, conspiracies and alternate history. A few of his titles: The Drawing of the Dark, Three Days to Never and The Anubis Gates.
Newer writers are emerging, such as Dexter Palmer, mentioned in the article. Also of note is Felix Gilman (The Half-Made World, series Thunderer and Gears of the City) and check out Cherie Priest (series Boneshaker, Clementine and Dreadnought).
A Simple Case of Bad Driving
[Re: Letters, “You Get What You Pay For,” July 21-27] In Steve Griego's letter regarding the recycling truck driver that got caught driving on the wrong side of the road, he mentions that Mayor Berry is to blame. While the issues he lists are important to address, and should be, could it be simply that the driver's behavior was based on his own lack of "common sense and critical thinking”?
In the piece by Channel 13, when the reporter asked him about his driving, he smiled and suggested that she call 311 and kept driving. He didn't act like his behavior was a problem at all. Or, maybe he had been trained not to talk to the media. Who knows?
Several times the camera caught him doing what many bad drivers do ... driving badly. He got caught. Plain and simple.
Let's keep the issue simple, too.
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