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Our Generation and My Lack of Faith In Tomorrow

  Something I constantly strive for is gaining a bigger perspective on myself in the world. I’ve often been described (and I truly try to avoid describing myself, considering a description of my from my own perspective is guaranteed to be biased) (I am the coolest person ever) as someone who sees outside of the box and who can put things into perspective, and I appreciate that. As I’ve started working with Adult Students, I’ve gained a lot of generational perspective, not only as I strive to meet the needs of older students, but because they complain a lot about stuff people my age do. I guess I’m getting frusturated at the fact that so many of us lack common sense that I’m kind of at a loss. So many of us have grown up in a time where we can trust the status quo; where we don’t need to worry about the world outside of our homes because we’re so insulated from change or disaster that it isn’t real. We were told to go to school, and everyone else went to school, and we did just enough to get by, and for the most part reached our goals of being on par with those around us. And we heard of stuff like people starving and wars and bombs and economic collapses, but that stuff couldn’t really happen here. Somehow, it all works out; you afford that car or house you don’t really have the money for, your parents complain of money problems but we still eat out 4 times a week, and even though I know college education costs $35000 a year I still go with $2000 in my bank account. And none of this should worry me, since it isn’t worrying anyone else.
  I’m not exceptional by any means. I’ve been told I’m smart, but I’m not, I’m pretty lazy, I was a B/C student in college and did enough to get by with a slacker degree. I know this. Jenn, my fiancee who is now in Medical School, is a genius who got all A’s. She wants to be an emergency room doctor. First off, sweetie, I love you and I’m so sorry to throw you under the bus, muah, see you when I get home from work tonight! Second, last night we were at dinner and I was talking about some jargon related to Hydrogen feul cells in zeppelins and why they use helium as the filler for the blimp, and she said “Isn’t helium lighter than Hydrogen, isn’t it the lightest gas?” Astounded, I asked if it’s heavier, what makes helium better in a blimp, and she didn’t remember it’s inert. Mind you, my last chemistry class was 1999-2000 and she just finished biochemistry LAST YEAR. A few months ago, we were talking about training the dog not to chew, and I said “Have fun with that, Sisyphus.” She had no idea what that joke meant. Jenn is not stupid, and she’s going to be a fine doctor, but it’s indicative of the reality of our generation: we learn things until we pass the test, then we let them leave our head and forget them. It’s the same reason when we go to a restaurant, she’ll get out her cell phone since it has a tip calculator, when you can just double the tax and I have the value before she even flips the lid open. We’re the laziest people ever and because of it we’re incredibly complacent and on the whole stupid.
  Compulsory, free education is stupid. Putting things into perspective, it’s important to remember that education wasn’t always mandatory or free. Our ancestors worked hard to get educated, and gave their kids enough so they could go to school instead of work, but they also had to have summer jobs and side jobs, and as their parents got more they worked to get some for themselves, and when they grew up they gave their kids more and so on. Now, parents give their kids everything, and kids are expected to get education not to escape the fate of their parents, but to try to catch up to it. There’s no sense of “if you don’t get an education, you’ll end up like these poor people;” for so many people of privelege there’s a sense of “somehow I’ll end up middle class enough to make it work out.” I think this is a fallacy, and I think things could easily bottom out. Here’s my rationale.
  Economists talk about this drop in the dollar and this rise in oil prices like it’s another hump in a cycle they’ve seen before. I may be unique in that I reference my knowledge of American and world history, but any cycles we see are no more than a generation or two old, and no cycle that young can be trusted to be a repeating absolute. Additionally, looking at the world, it’s crazy to think that our economy can be insulated against shifts in other world powers. Since the last major recession (referring to the 70’s with oil price spikes and the cold war) we need to look at the fact that there weren’t the same world powers then; Russia was our main global competition and much of Europe was still coming out of reconstruction. Now, China and Japan are major global players, the overall European economy is much stronger now and Middle Eastern countries with excessive cash from taking advantage of oil reserves changes the overall balance. Additionally, some of the cycle towards depression resulted from our involvement in the Vietnam war, a seemingly endless war with no clear enemy that took A GENERATION of our citizens and disrupted whatever life plan they had been crafting. Remember, in terms of cycles, we’re only at the BEGINNING of that part of this recession, meaning things will get WORSE. Politically, we’re the most corrupt we’ve ever been with faith and passion for our political system lower than ever. If the founding fathers were fighting for taxation with representation and the needs of the citizens dictating the course of the government, you’d think it’d be the responsibility of the politician to react to national polls, rather than take election as “carte blanche” to execute their own agenda. And there’s rammifications; globally, value is determined in reference to the value of the dollar. When you look at the big picture: we’re in an endless war much of the world disagrees with the execution of, our economy and way of life is wholly dictated by the use of oil which we’ve artificially driven the price of down and are completely out of control of the mining of, we refuse to participate in international agreements like the Kyoto accord which makes us look like we’re not willing to play nice, and other currencies such as the Euro are strong enough that if need be the world could depend on it. We’re in a bad, unpopular position if you ask me, and if the world is trying to fend off a dip in the cycle, abandoning the people who illegitimately tricked people into investing in risky overpriced home loans is a good option.
  Do we care? No. For the most part, we don’t. I know all this bad stuff is going on, and I know a few people are going to Iraq, and I know I pay a little more for gas, but why should I care? I’m not starving, I’m still working my simple job, I’m not at all affected by this stuff so why should I worry? My car is old and struggling with my two hour a day commute, why shouldn’t I just take out another loan to pay for a new car, especially since I have money sitting around from not paying off my student loan yet. Here’s where perspective comes in: I am choosing right now to use my own perspective and intellect to make some decisions. Right now, I have about $1,400 in my bank account and 2 credit cards with 0 balances on them. Jenn has about $6000, much of which is loan money. My total worth right now is about -$45,000 and Jenn’s is about -$150,000 making us worth roughly -$190,000. That means we’re boned, shouldn’t be living in a 3br/2ba house, shouldn’t be driving new cars and absolutely shouldn’t be taking out more loans. It means we should invest in some foreign currency and hope the dollar bottoms out so we can pay off our loans with 40 canadian bucks. At some point, even though the professor curves the test and my 73% is still a solid B, it still means I understood less than 3/4 of the material, and -$190,000 is a goddamned big number.
  But can you blame us? Just today the government allocated more than a half a trillion dollars on the war in Iraq. The only way to spend that kind of money is to just print more, or just borrow more. I think it’s time to wake up and stop all this artificial bullshit inflation of our quality of life. When all of this debt needs to be collected, the fall is only going to be a lot harder the less prepared we are for it. This is going to come in two forms: a personal crash where the value of things we own will fundamentally shift in reference to the value of the dollar, and an economic shift where things get more expensive, not speaking about inflation but in general the value of things will go up. We see it now; things are more expensive at the grocery store since it’s more expensive for trucks running on gasoline to get things where they need to go. I’ve told Jenn we should move to another country and adopt another currency, but she isn’t moved to act yet, ebcause things always seem to work themselves out. Well, I’m trying to expand my perspective and it seems to me that the big factors here are combining in a way too unique to even use the word “always.”
  This also translates to my support for Ron Paul. I know, me voting for a Republican? I may even register Republican to vote in the primary! I don’t care what generalizing letter is in front of his name; what he stands for is right. He’s committed to truth and is willing to dismiss and dismantle bullshit even if that disrupts the status quo. Even so, he is reasonable about how things should work and has given no indication of only pursuing his own agenda. Case in point: instead of hopping around the issue of abortion, he comes right out with it. “I’m severely pro life. I would abolish Roe vs. Wade and make it a state issue.” Read that carefully. Even though he opposes abortion, he would turn it into a state issue, meaning the policy would best reflect the desires of the more accurate group of constituents. While abortion wouldn’t be protected on a federal level, with all politics being local there’s as much chance for both sides to be happy on a smaller scale. It’s the only system with integrity I’ve seen so far. More importantly than anything his policies do, and trust me I have no faith whatsoever in political policy accomplishing much, he has true consistent integrity and right now I think that’s what this country needs more than anything.
  I don’t pledge to know everything (yet) but one thing is for sure, there’s a huge level of deception, manipulation, overlooking and overtrusting going on in the world around us today. One of our allies, the good guys, who we poured money into just declared martial law and suspended the constitution, and we pretend it couldn’t happen here. I can’t look at the world and just trust things will work out anymore when everything I see with my eyes points to problems. Doesn’t mean I have a solution, doesn’t mean there is a solution, but I just can’t be comfortable with a lot of things anymore. All I know is that if some apocalypse happened and infrastructure collapsed, more than most people around me I’d be able to juryrig and repair enough things in the microcosm around me to survive and to be valuable to those around me, no matter what currency value is measured in.

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