Thursday, November 29, 2012

College Is a Racket!

The more I read and reread the title of this rant, the more I become convinced in the correctness of its message.  College is a freaking racket.  Ironically enough, I’m writing this rant as I sit at a computer in the CSU campus library, giving my brain a break from ridiculous theories of comparative politics and public administration which will probably never apply to my career.

This also gives me a valuable opportunity to conjecture that Woodrow Wilson had no soul.  One reason could be his dichotomy of public administration (given to the world in the same decade he screened D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation in the White House and got America into World War I) makes it highly unlikely I’ll ever find him likeable as a historical figure, or even just as a dude.  Hell, he was even boring in Harry Turtledove’s Southern Victory alternate history novels!  But I digest…

The FIRE Coalition identified the Cal States as being very anti-First Amendment.  After all, they’re public places yet students are required to practice their First Amendment rights within the narrow confines of a farce called the “Free Speech Zone.”  We’re required to apply for permits to practice free speech in one area on public property.  Thank you, Big Brother.

I will admit that there are a few uses for college: for starters, parents need an institution to babysit their children during the day once they graduate from high school.  Second, it gives the Chinese exchange students a golden opportunity to find out how corrupt and bloodstained the CCP Politburo really is.

Third, some of the technical majors have real-life application in both public and private sectors.  Still, those majors (engineering, electrical engineering, automotive, hospitality) could probably still be learned through independent study and apprenticeship programs.  I’m willing to bet even medical practices could be mastered through rigorous self-education and years of apprenticeship, rather than over a decade of taking classes.

There once was a day and age when a college degree was something valuable.  Standards were incredibly high and possession of a college degree was a social contract implying the degree-holder to possess a set of valuable skills.  These skills included but weren’t limited to a well-rounded commanding education with a strong grasp of mathematics, history, classical literature, and rhetoric/writing.  Nowadays, the average college grad barely possesses any of the above.

The best educated people aren’t necessarily those with Masters Degrees, but rather those who make it a passion and a habit to read, hear, learn, and investigate further.

The much-coveted college degree is merely a formality these days, and the emphasis put on degrees borders on idol worship.  People enter college and painfully go through the motions with the expectation that the formality of holding a degree will get them “a good job.”  But what is a good job?  In this dismal economy, a good job is any job at all that can keep a person’s head above water as far as paying bills goes.

Two VERY awesome people using their time at school to be productive
In that sense, the fry cook working overtime at McDonald’s is a hell of a lot better off than the unemployed recent law school graduate who faces over $100,000 in student debt and no job offers.  Better yet, on his free time the fry cook can self-educate and vastly improve himself without any shadow of debt.

Economically, the people my age who are the best off are not those who hold a college degree, but rather those who found niche work, those who joined the wartime military with an enlistment bonus, or those who joined the full-time workforce immediately after high school.  Yet here I sit on campus to the tune of $2,500 a quarter to face another prompt on why Karl Marx was a great economist, a mundane quiz on Brazilian social-democracy, or yet another paper assignment on the Allegory of the Cave.  (I wrote that epically long editorial way before it was assigned in class, thank you very much!)

While I’ve derived a few benefits from going to college—thanks primarily to the excellence of Rhetoric professor Jack Wood of Citrus College—I can honestly say that while my major is a subject dear to me, it’s a waste of time.  I’m a political science major who made the foolish mistake of going to college to study something I love rather than something that’s practical and economically beneficial to me.

I’m not yet finished with my coursework, but even at this point I know that a BA in Political Science will never get me any job offers.  At this time the best paying job I’ve ever had—one which enables me to pay the bills and build up my savings—is a niche job that has absolutely nothing to do with my major.  I have received job offers for paid political internships and even full-time campaign jobs.  However, these offers were sent my way because of years of networking, volunteering, and busting my ass on campaign trails, not because I have the written blessing of a university dean.

Frankly, I’m incredibly irked that I chose to go to college full-time rather than take the days and hours devoted to classes and studying to get a second job.  Perhaps the idol worship of a college degree was worthwhile ten years ago, but that was an era when “good jobs” were abundant and job security still existed.  In the age of the Second Great Depression, America (and much of the world) is in survival mode.  Having a shiny piece of paper doesn’t amount to a hill of beans next to having a roof over one’s head, food in the fridge, and the bills paid.

Many parents, teachers, and high school counselors to this day encourage high school seniors to go straight to college.  If they choose to go, that’s all fine and dandy, and everyone should be free to pursue happiness.  But as I see things, for what students actually get out of their degree, college is a racket.

I made the stupid mistake of not working ‘til I was out of high school at 18.  Just as I started growing my bank account, the recession hit and it’s been an economic rollercoaster ever since.  Today’s high school crowd shouldn’t make the same mistakes I made, and I hope they learn from my experience.

MY advice to kids is this: If you want to go to college, that’s fantastic.  You might actually learn something that changes your worldview.  But get your priorities straight and land yourself a steady paycheck.  If you can get a work permit from high school at age 15, DO IT.  If you can get a part-time job at 16 and full-time summer jobs to build up your savings, go for it!  If you can land 40 hours a week, hop on that train before it leaves without you.  Then start your evening or online classes.

[Anyone considering law school is highly encouraged to read Tucker Max's law school advice based on his own experience (one becoming more and more common these days).]

It’s not like your dreams will come crashing down if you don’t have that coveted piece of paper by the time you’re 22; you’ve got your whole life ahead of you, but you can’t make your dreams come true if you’re broke.

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Cal Poly Pomona CLA Building image by Super Hanz and used via CC BY 2.0 license.
Ron Paul activism photo is the property of Yours Truly (that means me, smartypants).
Desks image by "Milford" and released to the public domain.
The first and third images were obtained from Wikimedia Commons.  I wonder if in, in the future, Sports Illustrated would be willing to let us use some of their swimsuit photos.  Even if they're not remotely useful to my oft-political rants, they'd sure as hell be entertaining.  But that's another soliloquy for another day. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Red Dawn Remake

"We're living Call of Duty and it sucks."  --Robert

As a courtesy to you, the reader, SPOILER ALERT!  Now don’t go whining that I didn’t warn you.

This lovely little rant deals with the remake of Red Dawn.  Overall I enjoyed the film because I’m pretty easy to entertain and I also walked into the theater with low expectations.  Let me explain the main issue I had which tantalized me throughout the entire movie…

The flag of Occupied America in the new Red Dawn
By the looks of the trailer, it’s a large Asian army invading Main Street USA.  If you took a glance at their combat uniforms like I did, the pattern looks a hell of a lot like Chinese PLA (People’s Liberation Army).  The Chinese communist army invading the United States???  That’s actually pretty plausible and would make for an awesome movie.

The Chinese regular army is a hell of a lot bigger than the US Army, and unlike the latter, the PLA isn’t spread thin with global-wide garrisons.  Even though it would never last more than a decade, a Chinese invasion and occupation of the American mainland is fairly possible.  Given the rising U.S. national debt (and the share of it owned by the Chinese) plus the total inability at this time to pay it back, the growing likelihood of such an invasion is less far-fetched than it was during the Cold War.

I could truly appreciate this scenario for a new Red Dawn.  Hell, this might have even been a better scenario than that in the 1984 original where the Soviet Army invades.  There was the good scenario for the remake, and then there’s what actually happened with this movie and in this movie…

Apparently during post-production MGM decided they didn’t want to hurt China’s feelings and lose all the distribution rights, so the movie was digitally altered in post-production to make the invading army North Korean.

Go ahead and re-read that last sentence and give it a moment to sink in.  No, that wasn’t a typo; MGM really rolled with that terrible idea.  Now before all you diehard neoconservative nationalists and anarcho-capitalist libertarians start picking my gripe apart, I will concede that the Korean People’s Army has over one million regulars, plus another 4 or 5 million reserves and militia and blah-blah-blah.  The problem is, there’s the on-paper KPA strength and then the number that are actually deployable.

To quote the great Congressman Ron Paul, “They have no gasoline!”

So basically, all 47 deployable North Koreans are invading the Pacific Northwest and their secret weapon is Dumbledore’s clicker that shuts the lights off.  Gotcha….  But lame as lameness goes, like the Atlas Shrugged movies, I got myself all kinds of excited over this movie, so it was my moral obligation to go see it.

There were three redeeming factors in the film (other than my willingness to date Adrianne Palicki and Isabel Lucas, at the same time if possible).  The new Red Dawn is a great venue for speculating on the Second Amendment in action.  Remember folks, the Second Amendment (the right of citizens to own firearms) wasn’t designed for hunting or protecting the household against bandits…  The Second Amendment was specifically written up to give the citizenry (the unorganized militia) a fighting chance at opposing a large army should there ever be an army inflicting tyranny on the population.

Chinese PLA without the North Korean flag superimposed on them
An invading army would certainly be an example of inflicting tyranny on the citizenry, and also the ideal target for the wrath of the unorganized militia using their Second Amendment power in concert.  However, it was drawn up by justifiably paranoid statesmen who had survived the Revolutionary War and knew that their own country’s standing army could easily become a force for tyranny.  The common practice of citizens owning firearms (and willingness to use them) is what ultimately enabled the Colonial rebels to defeat Great Britain in our war of independence.  If any foreign army ever invaded the USA, they can sure bet there would be a rifle waiting for them behind every blade of grass.

The second redeeming factor is the first ambush/firefight.  That was pretty believable, up to the point where the tech nerd starts outrunning the .50 cal fire.  As far as lying in wait, popping out of the ground, and taking advantage of the chaos to run around and shoot, that’s pretty believable.  The third factor is the end scene.  Even though it reeks of cheesiness, the shot of the prisoners bearing the American flag while making a break for it was a badass image.

Before I bring this rant to a close I must declare: Republicans, if you even try to make the case that a hypothetical invasion of our homeland is Obama and the Democrats’ fault, I will have to throw things at you.  Seriously, that’s like using the movie Captain America to justify an invasion of Iran.

And one last thing: yes, libertarians, there’s a glaring contradiction between the nationalistic-defensive theme of this movie and America’s aggressive foreign policy.  I get it.  Save the speech for the neoconservatives at the local Republican club rather than ranting to all your libertarian friends on Facebook (i.e., preaching to the choir).


* * *

Occupied America flag image by "Woodmath" and used via CC BY 3.0 license.
PLA image by the Department of Defense and is in the public domain.
Both images were obtained from Wikimedia Commons.

Gosh, I feel incredibly silly, I tell ya. Not only did I see the midnight release of this movie but I also took my nephews to see it yesterday night.  At least I was a good uncle and used the movie as an opportunity to lecture the boys about the Second Amendment.  Leave it to Uncle Zach to kill fun by making it educational!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Haters Be Damned, I Support Rand Paul

My friend Julie Borowski’s latest video “Rand Paul 2016” inspired me to post this pro-Paul rant.  Gold John Galt Dollars for Julie!  Now, prepare to love me or hate me...

There are many loudmouths within the liberty movement who routinely ruminate over what a “traitor” and “sell out” Rand Paul is ever since he completely blindsided the movement with a June 7 endorsement of The Guy Who Lost to Obama (no I will not say that Massachusetts ex-governor's name).  You haters know who you are.  To all of you I have only two points to make.

Rand campaigning for Ron in his Rick Santorum sweater-vest
First, I completely agree with your reasons to be upset over that surprise endorsement.  Months later, my eyes are still spinning from that Chuck Norris-style roundhouse kick!  Obviously none of us ever expected he’d endorse [the one who would be] the Loser of 2012.  So many of us in the movement had worked countless hours to secure the Republican Party nomination for Ron Paul and unfortunately our short-term goal of electing Ron was not met.

Second, and more importantly, GET OVER IT ALREADY!

Honestly, instead of forming and developing coalitions for the liberty movement so we can get a critical head start in the 2013, 2014, and 2016 elections, conspiratarians and others inclined to whine are still up on the cross over being betrayed by the “crypto-neocon Judas.”  This includes that citizen-stalker "journalist" from We Are Change who's still fixating on the Bilderbergers.

You’ve been crying a river, but now might be the time for you all to come down off the cross and use the wood to build a bridge and get over it.  If I may quote Yoda, “Your trap, shut, you will.”  Believe me, dropping the hatred of Rand will be way more productive both in the short and long runs.  Besides, I’m now focused on wondering why the hell James Bond and everyone else at MI-6 suddenly dropped martinis for Heinekens.  Say again?

Seriously though, you folks need to consider a few things before you carry on with your beef:

·         In order to be backed by Michael Steele and the other charlatans from the RNC in his 2010 Senate run, Rand had to agree to support whoever was the GOP Presidential nominee in 2012.
·         Being the son of one of the most dedicated agents of change in the last 50 years, Rand was probably aware in 2010 that his father would run again for President.  I’m sure you folks know who Ron Paul is…
·         When he made this deal in 2010 he, like most of us, probably thought his father—a Congressman with more college-aged female admirers than Robert Pattinson—would really win the GOP nomination, especially since they were soooooooo dead-set on “anybody but Obama.”
·         Thanks to nearly a year of state- and national-level sabotage by the GOP, a major loss on Super Tuesday, and Jesse Benton having worse timing with questionable emails than General Petraeus, it was pretty obvious to all but the most diehard Kool Aid drinkers by June 7 that Ron Paul wasn’t going to be the nominee.
·         Rand was probably certain, like most of us, that The Guy Who Lost to Obama would get his ass handed to him in November anyway (which he did).  Yet he still had a promise to keep and, at the very least, would require the charlatans’ backing again for a possible 2016 Senate reelection bid.
·         If you see the diarrhea-stricken look on Rand’s face in the endorsement—during which he STILL says “my father is still my #1 pick”—he obviously doesn’t believe his own necessary-at-the-moment propaganda for the Loser of 2012.
·         The RNC had been promising throughout the summer that Ron would be allowed to speak at the national convention.  Rand’s endorsement in June was most likely a condition for that to happen.  Shame on the RNC on reneging on their promise, but kudos to Rand for keeping his end of the bargain.  He’s a man of his word and his father taught him well.
·         Most importantly, I don’t see anyone else in the Senate constantly pushing to abolish the TSA, end the Fed, legalize hemp, and bring our troops home.  Do you?  Didn’t think so.

Yet you still accuse our #1 ally in the Senate of being a neocon.  Due to my [reluctant] agreement with the nonaggression principle, the only thing I can do to you is ask you to punch yourselves in the face.

Rand speaking at the Continuing the Revolution Rally in D.C.
Look, I didn’t like Rand’s endorsement of the 2012 Loser.  None of us did.  But the fact still stands that the work he’s done—and continues to do—is incredibly important for the advancement of our movement.  We need Rand Paul in the Senate.  Better yet, we need 99 more of him in the Senate.  If we can manage to get more men and women like Rand Paul in the senate in 2014, then we can make this man our nominee for the Presidency in 2016.

We need a libertarian in the White House and the only way to get one there is with an “R” after his name on the ballot, not an “L.”  He won’t “restore our liberty”—only we can do that as a group—but he can make our road a hell of a lot less bumpy.  Better yet, it can never be said by Republicans that Rand failed to support their failed nominee.  They tried it their way in 2012, now we can try it out way in 2016.

So before you continue with your quasi-Marxist victimized whining about betrayal and blah-blah-blah, you need to take a moment to weigh a few empty words—words which we may soon learn were necessary at the time—against two years of deeds on our behalf, and more years of noble deeds to come.

I support Rand Paul.

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Rand Paul close up by Allison Stillwell and was released into the public domain.
Continuing the Revolution Rally photo by Mark Taylor and used via CC BY 2.0 license.
Both photos were obtained from Wikimedia Commons.

I'm going to the midnight show of Red Dawn.  I am so freaking excited!  It's like there's two holidays this week: Red Dawn and Thanksgiving Day.