Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I have a computer at work, but because it's an Army computer, it doesn't allow me to see things like blogs, social networking, videos, most newspapers, magazines...you know, the good stuff on the Internet. I am able to get into the MWR once a day or so where I can use the Internet for a good thirty minutes. It is pretty tight in here with soldiers and Ugandans and Filipinos and smells like...soldiers and Ugandans and Filipinos who are working and don't shower too often. Needless to say, it's not pretty.

In any case, what I mean to say is simply that I have a lot of time to read during the day, but not a lot of time to write...at least on here. So, in those occasions I do have the opportunity to write, I will have to keep it short due to time constraints and the horrendous smell.

One of the first things I wanted to point out was that I had read an article about the economy in South Carolina that made me feel incredibly sad and impotent. Sad because these people seem to have no hope, even if though they haven't seemed to lose faith, and impotent because I suddenly realized that, other than my voting habits, I can do just as little to help these people as I can the Iraqis who live outside the wire. Knowing people are hurting and not being able to help is just a horrible feeling.
The article is here if you care to read it (and I recommend you do). The article is very well written and reminds me how varied experience is throughout the states. Growing up, I rarely, if ever, thought of life outside of California. I did in an abstract sense, but it wasn't until I joined the Army that I met someone who...say...didn't like the Beatles, or went to a High School that was just one building, or had never been to the beach. Those are all shallow examples, but I quickly realized that if people's life experience was so vastly different from mine in such shallow ways, then it had to be true of their deeper experience as well. I have tried to learn of those differences, and grow from them, but it is all too easy to become inwardly focused. I read an article like this, and it opens my eyes again, in a good--but difficult--way.

A second article I read was just a short graph on Andrew Sullivan's website (I don't believe he made the graph). But it showed the disparity between those whose parents have a college degree and those who don't. Below is a quote from a quote taken from Andrew Sullivan's website:
The truly amazing thing to me is that parental income isn't just crucial in getting to college, and getting through college -- its effects linger on, basically, in perpetuity. One of the most remarkable findings from the Pew Charitable Trusts' Economic Mobility Project is that a child from a family in the top income quintile who does not get a college degree is more likely to wind up in the top income quintile himself than a child from a family in the bottom income quintile who does get a college degree...
The article links to slides that Geithner used for a speech, but doesn't include the text of the speech. That being said, statistics are just good ways of lying, but they are quite shocking in any case. I'd be interested to hear from my friends who know more about economics than I what you think of this.
Comparing it against the article before, I was wondering if maybe we put too much stock in college degrees. It doesn't seem to me a degree should be (or is) a magic bullet that will keep someone from being poor. What good is a degree if you live in a rural area where there is no business? Maybe what we need is an economy that offers good jobs that aren't education intensive, but still give back to society in a productive way. This isn't to say that people who live in rural areas don't deserve education or the opportunity to gain a college degree...far from it. I just think we need to think more outside the box. (<-and yes, I realize "think outside the box" is trite and meaningless anyway...but I'm tired...and in Iraq...so give me a break).

Lastly, I just found out that a friend of mine (and a fellow member of the E3 Eagles) is running for Congress in California. His name is Anthony Woods. If you're from California, or care about progressive politics, I suggest you check out his page. I haven't talked to him since he announced he's running, so if you read this...Good luck!


Blogger Alex said...

"I'm in Iraq--give me a break." That's probably the most convincing excuse I've ever heard. It hurts me a little to think I'll never have one nearly as good. "I'm in a mid-sized liberal-leaning city in the Midwest, cut me some slack" just doesn't have the same weight to it.

5:58 AM  

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