International Independence… and the One Great Thing about Taxes and American Sports

As Americans, our sovereignty is at stake.  We have come to interpret “freedom” as meaning “inherited right to anything and everything I want”.  One common train of thought seems to be: “If they have it, then I want it too because you can’t tell me I’m not entitled to it.”

Between these mindsets and our constant need to push each other down and come out on top, we are ruthlessly taking advantage of cheap foreign labor and superfluous fine imports.  We fail to recall the novelty in our scant American-made products, thereby refusing to invest in and support the services of our own brothers.  Meanwhile, we continue to race our imports around the world and across our draught-impacted expanses, devouring energy sources we don’t have and undermining our own global independence.

America might be balanced on its high-horse now, but one little upset and what’s going to keep it standing on its own two feet?  What has become of our fighting spirit, of our national pride?  Have we forgotten the centuries of struggle that granted us these now abused freedoms?  Will it take an outside threat on our freedom to remind us that, despite its being a misnomer, freedom doesn’t come for free?

According to Economy in Crisis, the purchase of consumer goods in the US constitutes 70% of its economic growth.  That same 70% translates to 30% of global spending.  Yes, that means 5% of the world population (the US) contributes to 21% of the global spending through our consumer good purchases alone!  Here is a breakdown from Tax Foundation (http://www.mymoneyblog.com/the-average-americans-spending-breakdown.html) of American major spending from 2006:

32% of our spending goes to taxes.  These taxes, federal or not, contribute to the expenses of running our country, like paying for our infrastructure, our school systems, and our financial programs.  Feel confident in at least knowing that 1/3 of your expenses are going directly towards keeping the dialysis machine of the US running.  Then there is your 14% for health and medical care, which is applied to you, your benefactors, and the companies that make your insurance possible.  So that’s not too bad.

How about that transportation?  You’re spending an average of 8% of your income going places.  In the old days, those expenses came down to what it cost to buy a horse, to feed that horse, and to feed the people who took care of the horse and maybe even built that wagon for you.  Nowadays, we are importing foreign-assembled cars or cars with foreign parts, supporting foreign engineering and cheap labor, then burning fuels we dragged across the polluted open seas.  Our infrastructure might have been paid for by the government with our taxes, but what about the American companies contracted to complete the job?  Are all of those steel piles made of American steel?  What about that bulldozer?  Is it American-made?  The parts?  The fuel to run it?  Hmm.

That is exactly how to view the 17% of your income which goes to housing: importing trees and metals to complete the task of building new homes, importing fuels to run appliances, oh – and buying foreign appliances,… 4% on clothing and accessories which are most likely made in Bangladesh or some other country that you couldn’t even find on a map if you were asked, but whose residents are forced to accept meager wages because that’s what it takes to keep up the exporting demands in those poor countries, the exporting demands that you support by purchasing these “slave labor” items.

Then there is the 8% for food.  But we don’t exactly maintain our own rice paddies in the US.  We do, however, have extensive coastlines and yet our seafood imports are outrageous.  In fact, here is one breakdown from the FDA:

It’s funny, they always tell us how the three things needed for survival are Water, Food, and Shelter.  Water, we’ve got plenty of it.  That probably goes in to the smallest fraction of housing spending, less than 1% or the 17% that is dedicated to Shelter as a whole.  So, in other words… our Three Things Needed to Survive comprise of 25% of our total spending.  (I wonder, did they factor in beer?)

That leaves us with 11% for “All Other Days”… What is that, vacation?  Savings?  (I’ll admit, that one is a bit ambiguous, but I didn’t make this chart.)  And, finally, my last point: 6% for recreation.  Things you do for fun.  Hobbies and activities.  Even if your karate teacher came from Korea, he is now American.  One great thing about this category is it most likely consists of an American or mostly-American pastime.  American films seen at theatres with American workers, American amusement parks and nature reservations run by more Americans (and even government positions),… and how about sports?  Truly American sports would be basketball, baseball, and football.  I mean, in terms of modern times, how American can you get?  Amen to that 8%.

So the next time you feel like being American and protecting our global independence and overall sovereignty, go to a baseball game, grab yourself a Yuengling, and take solace in the fact that UnderArmor is made in the USA (although your fan shirt may not be).

An interesting article about non-American US Olympic uniforms: http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-capitol-hill-joins-criticism-of-made-in-china-us-olympic-uniforms-20120712,0,1586224.story

Humanity: The Only Species That Think It’s at the Top, But It Isn’t

When I checked the news today, I was surprised to see something other than the Olympics or Mitt Romney/Obama or some pointless article about somebody saying something about nothing I care about.  However, the first article I came across was “600 million without power in India after 3 power grids fail”.  http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/story/2012-07-31/india-power-outage/56600520/1

This topic particularly intrigued me when I first saw it.  My two reasons: Immediately, I thought, ‘I wonder how many people really care?  Seriously, the Olympics are going on.  Anyone in London or a sports bar isn’t concerned about the power in a Third World country.’  My second reason for taking quick notice to the article was that I just sat through a webinar by the Department of Energy last Wednesday discussing grid failure and how it affects tribal reservations.  When I sat back for a moment, I realized this really delves deeper than all of those topics: This is a matter of how vulnerable we are, how ignorant and stupid we can be, and how our dependency on power is going to be the cause of our fate.  (Talk of an energy crisis, anyone?)

First, let’s look at this situation in India: The most populated country in the world.  600 million people, “more than the entire population of the European Union plus Turkey”, 20 of India’s 28 states.  Had this actually taken place in Europe, it would have been utter chaos.  With all of the Universities and high-tech experiments, the superior hospitals, tourism, and the Olympics broadcasting, it would have been insanity and we would’ve had a lot more than one article in the newsfeed about it.  But it’s India.  I mean, how many of the residents even use that much electricity?  Obviously not as much as the US.  We top the charts in energy consumption.  But that doesn’t mean they don’t use it.  In fact, some people’s lives depend on it.  Who’s to say no Indian is on a dialysis machine – or was?  The article mentions an electric crematory that shut down in the middle of processing bodies.  More importantly to the living population, miners were trapped underground and had to be rescued by other means.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the Olympics are a great thing and it’s nice to see so many countries come together, but why can’t we come together like this to fix the world’s problems?

Second, let’s check out this grid failure situation: Like I said, I just sat through a webinar regarding failures.  Failures are more common in remote locations, like Indian reservations in America.  This has to do with a lot of factors, like distance to remote locations, difficulty to access and repair problems, money and affording monitoring of the system, and even inconsistent use of the power.  The Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde in India blamed their grid problems of the last few days on states “taking more than their allotted share”.  That is just poor management.  But grid failure is not uncommon, and it is particularly prevalent in these remote places (of which India could be considered a part).  So many precautions are installed in the United States to help monitor these electrical inputs and outputs, as required per code, and yet problems still happen.  India’s codes are likely less strict and poorly monitored, but if a Third World country losing part of its power temporarily can cause this much disturbance in the transportation and other aspects of the population, just imagine how much damage it could do to Europe or North America…

…which is what leads me to the third point: The weakness of humanity.  We do not dominate the top of the food chain and we never did.  The way I see it, we were physically weak and awkward beings.  If we did evolve from monkeys, think about: Monkeys hide in trees and, while some might be violent and attack, our direct ancestors would have been prey before predators in the jungle.  Our niche in the evolutionary journey was to outsmart the predators.  By doing so, we eliminated our less intelligent population to the point that our brains and thought-processes were becoming superior.  We then figured out how to use tools and other appendages otherwise not naturally a part of our bodies to take down other animals, to hunt and gather.  Also as a part of our weakness and physical ineptitude, we formed groups to create strength in numbers.  These groups lead to a system, sometimes a hierarchy, and, usually, as time does tell, these groupings lead to disputes and splits and, ultimately war.

That is how we have become our own worst enemy.  We can worry about meteors or aliens or what’s at the bottom of the ocean all we want, but while we’ve got our backs turned to each other, we’re just going to be marching into our own graves together.  We are digging our one-way ticket out of here.  We form these alliances which only mean we’ve left other alliances unformed and tensions building elsewhere.  We’ve strived to be better than one another for the ultimate success in technology and firearms, to makes ourselves threatening but to claim we are trying to be of no threat.  We race to own all of the resources, then feel threatened when those resources aren’t in our own hands.  We burn up useless energy trying to let everyone have a piece of everything, from exports to travel to useless luxuries, then we use more energy trying to solve our problem of, well, not having enough energy.

What happened to a few hundred years ago?  Not that things were perfect then, but we didn’t have such an electrical dependency.  Is it that our population is becoming so rapidly large?  We are trying to meet demands and generate such enormous surpluses to cover our backs in case a crisis happens?  Are we working at such a fast pace that we can’t do without energy?  And we wonder why people are stressed and fat and miserable.  Why money is so important when money is time, and time can’t be spared.  Society continues to degrade itself into a world where no one remembers what the real family values or priorities for happiness are.  We have no respect for each other because we have no respect for ourselves, for our planet, or for what is genuinely important in our lives.

So if you take nothing else away from this entry, at least consider this: Where do your values lie?  And what would become of you if we had an energy crisis that we couldn’t overcome?

And then remember that, although you are reading this on an electrical machine, I did too write this with power that those 600 million Indians are currently doing without.