Homelessness in America

A Homeless Person - Courtesy of Joshua Sherurcij

The number homeless people in the United States can vary
greatly at any single point in time. The vast majority of homeless Americans are
only homeless for a short period of time; and usually it is due to very specific circumstances,
after a natural disaster for example, or a long period without work after a job
loss, a death in the family, things like that.

Using the current flooding problems as a current example,
there will be a short term influx of homeless people in the United States
without a doubt, but the vast majority of those people will have a home again
very soon.

The real issue is all of the people that are homeless and
have been homeless for a very long time now. These people are not going to find
a home any time soon. The majority of them suffer from mental health issues,
often times very severe mental health issues, or they have substance
abuse problems; and the help available to them is vastly inadequate for how extensive
the issue is.

Another part of the equation that needs to be taken into
account is the fact that the amount of homeless veterans is hugely out of balance with
the percentage of American veterans as a whole of the population. It clearly
shows that veterans are not receiving the level of treatment that they deserve
here in the United States. Our veterans need and deserve proper care, no matter
what their problem is.

I have currently estimated the amount of actual homeless
people in the United States at over .0333% of the population, over one
hundred thousand of our fellow Americans. As I said above, the number of homeless people in the
United States varies greatly at any point in time; but what I am concerned with here
are real homeless people that have very little chance of getting out of their homelessness.

Real homeless people are what we need to focus on. Over one
hundred thousand Americans: Men, women and children, usually with extreme
mental or substance abuse problems, problems that they have little
hope in overcoming, problems that they have little support for.

America’s Entitlement Programs Must End: Social Security

Yesterday Richard W. Fisher, the president and CEO of the
Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, gave a speech concerning America’s entitlement
programs at the Commonwealth Club of California. He gave a run through of the
numbers that the future tax payers of America were going to have to deal with,
absolutely mind blowing numbers.

They were extremely sobering and inspired me
to write a series of articles about it, this will be the first article, covering Social Security.

America’s Entitlement Programs Must End: Social Security

The first issue, of course, is Social Security. It’s a hot-button
issue that everyone knows about, one everyone talks about; well, everyone aside
from most politicians, they don’t want to lose votes by stating the unpopular
facts behind the issue.

The amount of money necessary to keep our Social Security
system running as it is now is absolutely staggering. To simply cover all of
the unfunded liabilities of our Social Security system from now on would cost
the American tax payers an astonishing 13.6 trillion Dollars. Yes, that is an
amount nearly equal to an entire year of our nation’s Gross Domestic Product;
for those of you that don’t know, that is the yearly amount of all of the goods and
services produced in our country. This is well known of course, but seeing the
number represented in Dollars really hits home.

The problem is that there simply aren’t enough new workers
to take care of the aging baby boomers of our country. You see, our Social
Security system was not very well conceived, little foresight was used and little
consideration was given to future generations.

The issue now is that people are living for a much longer
period of time, yet they still retire and begin to receive their entitlements
at the very same age that they did during Social Security’s inception. So while in 1940 only 53.9 percent of American Males and only
60.6 percent of American Females survived from their adulthood all the way to
their retirement; in 1990 those numbers jumped to 72.3 percent for Males and 83.6
percent for Females. While that is undoubtedly a good thing, it is one of many
things that have put tremendous strain on our entitlement programs.

Not only are people living even longer thanks to our medical
technology; but thanks as well to the post-war baby-boom, the number of American
citizens aged 65 or older has more than quintupled since the inception of our
Social Security program. That number is huge on its own, but it is only half
the story, many baby boomers are still working and will reach their retirement in the coming years.

The population of the United States aged 65 and older is
also expected to double in size within the next 20 years. By the year 2030 it is
estimated that nearly 1-out-of-5 Americans, as many as 72 million people, will
be 65 years of age or older. The 85 and older age group is currently one of the
fastest growing segments of the population.

The fact is that there simply aren’t
enough workers to pay for that many retirees. The birth rate has decreased dramatically as well, for various reasons. All of these factors combined have led us to our current predicament. Something has to be done about this, we cannot continue passing our debt on to future generations.

Social Security is not the only entitlement issue: In my next
article I’ll discuss Medicare, as well as my views on how to fix the problem.

The Facts Behind The Gas Tax Holiday

So this whole gas tax issue has been popular lately; since
John McCain and Hillary Clinton both stated that removing the tax on gasoline
and other fuels would be something that they would do, and something that they
believe would be good for Americans; while Barack Obama opposed the idea.

I’m not going to argue whether I believe John McCain, Barack
Obama, or Hillary Clinton is correct in their stance and their beliefs on the
issue. What I am going to address is what exactly all of these tax payer
dollars in fuel tax revenue are supposed to be going to:

You may have seen the word hypothecation used in reference
to the gas tax; what that means is that the revenues from the motor fuel tax
are supposed to go directly towards the infrastructure used by motor vehicles,
such as roads, bridges and highways; as well as to help with the infrastructure
for the fuels themselves.

Many people’s main argument against both John McCain’s and
Hillary Clinton’s idea to relieve the American people of this motor fuel tax
for the summer has been that this money is indeed going towards the repair and
upkeep of our roads, bridges and highways; and why would we not want better and
safer roads, bridges and highways.

Yet just last summer we had two different bridges collapse
right here in the United States; including the absolutely devastating Minneapolis
I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota; which sadly cost the lives of 13
innocent Americans and hurt at least 60 more. A horrible and unnecessary travesty,
that undoubtedly could have and should have been prevented.

Several independent research institutions have also pointed
out several other bridges in need of repair; as well as vast stretches of other
infrastructure that is in need of upkeep. So where is all of this tax money
going if not on this very necessary infrastructure maintenance?

In fiscal year 2005, nearly 36 Billion Dollars in revenue
from the Motor Fuel Tax was received by state and local governments across the
United States. An additional 18.4 cents per gallon in Federal Tax is also
currently charged; which is also the tax that the three Presidential candidates
and their supporters are debating over. That is a lot of money that is supposed
to be used to keep Americans safe.

The 18.4 cents per gallon Federal tax, if voided for the
summer as John McCain and Hillary Clinton wish to do, would “cost” the
government 10 Billion dollars. What “cost” actually means in this case is that
the American people would be able to keep 10 Billion of their hard earned
dollars over the summer, while the government would theoretically have 10
Billion less tax dollars to waste.

The argument of those against the tax holiday is, as I
stated above, that this summer tax holiday is going to “cost” the government 10
Billion dollars, which would otherwise be going towards the upkeep of our nation’s
infrastructure.

Yet from our recent history, as well as simply keeping our
eyes open as we drive on, ride on, and walk along our roads, we can see that
our infrastructure is in terrible shape. From this we must come to the
conclusion that the Billions of dollars in taxes that are supposed to be going
towards our nation’s infrastructure are actually being wasted. Which is not a surprise;
the government wastes the vast majority of our tax dollars.

The other argument against the gas tax holiday is that it is
not going to reduce prices at the pump at all. Those greedy oil companies are
simply going to add another 18.4 cents per gallon to their bottom and top lines!

That argument is simply ignorance. Why? Because the Motor
Fuel Tax is added onto the price of gas set by the oil companies, it has no
impact on the price that fuel companies charge for their fuel. It is an added
tax of 18.4 cents on every gallon of fuel sold in the United States.

That doesn’t mean that the price of your gasoline will not
continue to rise over the summer, as it does every summer. That is simply due
to the increased demand for the product during the summer months. The tax being
there or not being there is not at all relevant.

If the tax was there, then the price for gasoline over the
summer would be the oil company’s price plus an added 18.4 cents extra in tax.
If the tax was not there, then the price of the gasoline would be 18.4 cents
cheaper.

Hopefully that clears up the issue for everyone that was confused
about it, and for those unsure of whether your candidate’s stance is
intelligent or not: Simply look at the facts and come to your own conclusion.

The Greatest Songs of All Time: Neil Young’s “Don’t Let It Bring You Down”

Released
on the 19th of September, 1970, on Young’s brilliant and now classic After
the Gold Rush
album; the song was written by Young and the album was
written and recorded between the summer of 1969 and the spring/summer of 1970.
Most of the album was recorded in the homemade recording studio thrown together
in Young’s home in Topanga Canyon;  a very popular and famous place to
live at the time for musicians due to its populace, attitude, and location in
Los Angeles County, California.

 

It’s
an acoustic song in the vein of Young’s work with Crosby, Stills & Nash, as
is much of the album; quite possibly due to the immense popularity of their
album with Young Déjà Vu, which was released earlier that year and
quickly rose to the top of the charts.

 

No
matter what the reasoning was behind Young’s decision to record the album the
way he did, he still created a great album. Though it was originally panned by
critics; it is now generally accepted as a great album, one of Neil Young’s
best, which I tend to agree with; and furthermore, it has several great songs
on it, including “Don’t Let It Bring You Down”:

 

 

Lyrics:

Old
man lying
by the side of the road
with the lorries rolling by
Blue moon sinking
from the weight of the load
and the building scrape the sky
Cold wind ripping
down the allay at dawn
and the morning paper flies
Dead man lying
by the side of the road
with the daylight in his eyes

Don’t let it bring you down
It’s only castles burning
Find someone who’s turning
And you will come around

Blind man running
through the light
of the night
with an answer in his hand
Come on down
to the river of sight
and you can really understand
Red lights flashing
through the window
in the rain
can you hear the sirens moan?
White cane lying
in a gutter in the lane,
if you’re walking home alone.

Don’t let it bring you down
It’s only castles burning
Just find someone who’s turning
And you will come around

Don’t let it bring you down
It’s only castles burning
Just find someone who’s turning
And you will come around

 

It is a beautiful work with beautifully simple and
extremely vivid lyrics; which are powerfully brought to the forefront of the
song via Young’s voice and the simple playing of his acoustic guitar.

Increasing Food Prices Is A Serious Issue

Increasing
Food Prices is a Serious Issue

 

People are going to suffer due to the rapidly increasing
price of foods and other commodities. No, not American people, and not the
people in any of the more advanced countries. The people that are going
to suffer are those truly poor and downtrodden people in our world; there is
true poverty out there, people that simply do not have the opportunity to make
their lives better.

These people aren’t able to farm their own lands to feed themselves;
they have to deal with the current global commodity situation just as every one
of us does. But sadly these people, these many millions of people, they simply cannot keep
up with these rapidly increasing prices. These are people that live on the
equivalent of one dollar a day, one single dollar each day.

Living on a dollar a day is known as extreme poverty. Just imagine
having the spending power of one single dollar every day and you will easily be
able to see why these people can barely survive; that they do in fact go
hungry, often to the point of starvation. And it is only going to get worse as
the price of commodities continues to rise.

When we hear the politicians and our fellow Americans
complaining about the increase in prices through various forms of media, it’s
them complaining about petty things such as Milk increasing in price and how
outrageous it is. But the fact is that us Americans are not in any danger from
this increase in commodity prices; no, we are going to be just fine. It is the
truly poor in our world that will suffer.

All of us have heard the various reasons given for the
increase in prices: From the recent popularity of bio fuels to global warming
diminishing the harvests. Neither of these is the real reason for the increase
in prices, no matter what the politicians and pundits tell you and want you to
think.

Demand is the main reason behind the increase in commodity
prices. It’s as simple as that. Millions of people in both India and China, as
well as several other emerging countries, are eating a much higher quality diet
than they previously were. This is by no means a bad thing; we should all be very
happy for these people, people that have brought themselves out of poverty through hard
work and determination. It is a great thing.

We can’t blame anyone or single thing. From the
increased demand in countries such as China and India, to bio fuels and global
warming; we can certainly debate which of these things has a larger affect on prices, but that is only going to lead us to continuing the avoidance of
the real issue: That is the truly poor people in the world that are suffering
now, and will continue to suffer as these elements weigh on the prices of
commodities in the future.

Can we do anything about this? I’m sure that we can, yes.
For example, I simply consume less and waste less. There is an incredible
amount of waste in advanced countries; people don’t give it a second thought. I
witness people wasting without care every single day of my life. It’s a
terrible thing.

Knowing that our waste alone could feed millions of truly needy
people is a very sad thing. We’ve all seen the studies, some saying that half
of the food in the United States is actually wasted, never ingested by a human
being at all. The first time that I read that I was shocked, sure; but I knew
that it would be a staggering amount of waste based on what I have seen with my own eyes.

The fact is that less waste and more efficiency here in the
United States would dramatically drop the demand for commodities, and as such,
it would in turn drop the price of food throughout the world. This would allow
more and more people to eat, to eat a better diet, and be healthier in general.

So the next time that you’re in your local supermarket, don’t
complain about the increasing cost of your Eggs and Milk; instead think of the
poor people that are going to go without due to you continuing your wasteful
habits.

Why Are Atheists So Pompous?: The Problem With Atheism

The Problem with Atheists

 

The problem with modern atheism is that its followers do not
seem to have a firm grasp on the fact that religion is a part of our modern
culture. We have people making outrageous claims and making attempts at
refuting religious beliefs, and denying the fact that many religious values and
concepts are ingrained in our culture as a people.

Many atheists are so against having a belief in God that
they would infringe on the rights of others who do choose to believe in God.
Many atheists will persecute any and all people who freely choose to follow a
religion and have a belief in God. They will bring up petty, minor, nearly irrelevant
issues such as whether or not the word God is used in our Pledge of Allegiance;
or that In God We Trust is printed on our money and used as a motto; simply to
continue their efforts to persecute and look down upon those that choose to
believe in God and follow a religion.

Certainly some people are going to disagree with our
feelings on religion and beliefs in God, and they should of course be free to
do that without being persecuted for it. Just as you or I, or Richard Dawkins
should be free to at the very least state our feelings, our thoughts, and our opinions
on the subject. I just feel that a great many atheists are very invasive with
their beliefs, and that stems from the more popular atheists in the world.
People see Richard Dawkins being extremely arrogant with his opinion everywhere
that he goes, increasing his popularity with these extreme atheists, and indeed
they are building his ego up as they continue to follow in his footsteps, which
is just going to make the issue worse. It’s a vicious circle.

Of course there is an issue if and when religious beliefs somehow
change our policies and laws, in our free country, in these modern times. I do
not agree with that at all, and believe it to be a much greater issue than the
word God being in the Pledge of Allegiance, using the example above; or the
fact that many of our and much of the worlds holidays take place on dates that
are particularly important to various religions throughout history, or are for
various figures of Christianity and other religions. Religion is an undeniable
part of our history and culture as Americans and of humans as a whole, and it
should be respected as such.

The top three reasons why Oil prices are so high

Why Oil Prices are So High

 

  1. The first reason that I will mention is that Oil is
    priced in US Dollars. That’s why when you see the value of the dollar fall; you
    see the price of oil rise. The people that produce the oil are generally
    getting US dollars in return for their product. As such, when the dollar falls,
    they are making less money on their product, even if the amount of dollars that
    they receive for their oil is equal, and so the price goes up. This applies to
    the people buying and selling the oil beyond the producers as well, who are
    also simply trying to profit. There are of course several other reasons why oil
    continues to rise, and why the dollar continues to fall. I was just pointing
    out why the dollar and oil currently move together.    
  2. The second reason is that many people are and
    have been investing in Oil as it has had quite a run up as the US Dollar has
    dropped like a rock. Investors, having a good feeling that the Federal Reserve
    would continue to cut interest rates, have continually bought into Oil to make
    some profit off of the amazing bull-run that it has had. 
  3. The third is an ever increasing growth in the demand for Oil.
    This isn’t the 1970’s where we can simply stop using as much Oil here in
    America, and prices will fall in relation to our drop in demand. No, these days
    the entire world is using more and more Oil. As countries continue to develop
    and expand into modern times, there is an ever increasing demand for Oil. This
    is the key reason that Oil will never again be as it once was.

2. 

Those are the three main reasons as I see them. There are of
course other factors behind the rising price of Oil, such as turmoil and lack
of security in many Oil producing lands, to things such as the weather, which
can cause rather large jumps in the price of Oil in its own right. But those
three issues that I listed above are the key factors behind the current of Oil;
they should be known and understood by everyone.

We all realize that Oil usage is a problem for us here in
the US, and that we need to find a viable alternative, regardless of the
current price of Oil. The heart of the issue is how we move from our high use
of oil, to something better. Clearly the way that the US as a whole operates
has to change, the whole car culture that we have built and glamourized to the
rest of the world has to change. People need to realize how ridiculous it is in
the first place, they have to realize that it is not sustainable in the long
term, and that something has to be done about it, and the sooner something is
done, the better off all humans will be.

I don’t have all of the answers myself. But it is clear to
me that more public funds need to go to public transportation, and other,
better forms of transportation. A huge amount of money is spent rebuilding
roads in the US every year so more and more cars can drive on them. This is an
utter waste of public funding and in reality should not be done. That money
should be spent towards better forms of transportation for all people, not just
those that own cars. Sadly a majority of people want better roads, so they can
drive their SUV’s and other vehicles down the street.

Driving is a part of our culture and it’s what most people
want to do, but that in no way makes it right or good for the future progress
of our country, or humans as a whole. I realize that driving has given people
much more freedom than they previously had, and that is not a bad thing in any
way. But it is an undeniable fact that there are and were better options to
allow all people the freedom that they want and deserve, that is completely
sustainable for a very long length of time. I can’t blame past generations for
wanting to drive and to exercise their freedom to travel around on their own
will, as they didn’t have the insight that we do in our current time. But now
that we do have such information and understand that driving huge vehicles all
over the country on expensive roads is a waste of resources and is not
sustainable in the long term, then something must be done about it.

Every day that passes wherein people continue to go with the
flow and majority feeling is setting back humanity as a whole. It’s setting
back our future generations by hurting our stability and our environment. We
have to step up as a people and bring it to an end. We have to sit down and put
our minds towards progress, rather than selfish deeds, for the good of our
country and the world. We have to realize that suburban sprawl is not necessary
and has only led to us having to rely more and more on our vehicles to get us
away from and back to our homes.

There are better, more modern forms of transportation
available to us right now. They are more efficient and are more sustainable in
the long term, which will lead to a better life for our future generations.
Anything at all will help; simply moving away from overly large vehicles that
are completely unnecessary would be a huge improvement. And I do realize that
we are beginning to move in the right direction, but there is undoubtedly resistance
in many areas that we need to overcome. It has been too long already and it is
time to help our fellow citizens along.

Improper use of Guns is a Cultural Issue

From Various Thoughts and Opinions

===

Think of this: How many people in America owned guns in the early days
of the colonies, up to the revolution and through the 19th century? I
don’t know if there are actual statistics available, but even without
any statistics I would be more than comfortable in saying that a large
portion of the population owned and used guns regularly without issue.
Those were different times, a completely different culture from what we
have today. The same basic idea can be applied to various countries in
Europe: You have countries with rampant gun use, ownership, and general
knowledge, such as Switzerland, and then you have countries with heavy
handed gun laws, such as the UK. The reason that you end up with
different statistics of gun usage between those two countries and the
US is due to culture. The people are very different.

Another
issue that was just brought up a few posts above this one is that a
large majority of gun related crimes are happening in poor, uneducated
areas. Areas with a completely different culture, way of life, and way
of thinking, than other areas just a handful of miles away in many
cases, which are not having the same issues with gun related crime.
That isn’t something that is going to be fixed by pouring money into
the problem areas either, it’s an issue of general education of young
people in our country. And not just public education, but parental
education and guidance as well, perhaps even more importantly.

School shootings on the other hand, are another issue entirely:
They
are caused by emotional issues on the part of those committing such
crimes. First of all, anyone that would even have the thought of doing
such a thing is not well mentally. They should be given proper mental
treatment before it comes to bringing a gun to their school and ending
the lives of many innocent students and teachers. There’s a huge issue
with the treatment of those with mental health issues in the US, it’s
not just the crazy homeless guy that needs proper treatment, at one
point that guy was in school and very likely had the same exact issues,
but they went untreated and that is how he ended up. People need proper
mental treatment, in my opinion it is a far bigger issue than the
physical health of the public, which is generally all that is mentioned
by the politicians and everyone else.

Ride a Bike

Posted on Various Thoughts on Culture

===

I am very pro cycling myself. I have an
extreme dislike for the car culture that we have here in the US in
general. I absolutely feel that if mass public or self transportation
without the use of a motor vehicle is possible, then it should be used
in nearly all cases.

Personally I do not drive currently and I do not even own a car.
Using mass transit and self transportation is environmentally sound and
much more cost effective than operating a motor vehicle of your own.
That’s why I don’t understand the car culture that we have, I don’t
understand how it has spread and is generally accepted everywhere, even
in our large cities.

That’s why I thought that Bloomberg’s tax was a brilliant idea for
NYC. Having actually biked through New York on a regular basis, it’s
not exactly the greatest experience that I’ve ever had, and certainly
not something that I would want to do every morning to get to work. If
there were less vehicles, less congestion and less hostility in general
though, then I would be all for cycling to work most of the time. But
still it isn’t a huge issue as we have a fine public mass transit
system in our subways.

Anyway, I’m hoping that the recent housing issues in the US will
make more and more people come to the cities, which should lead to less
reliability on vehicles for people in general if they have a quality
system for public transportation in place.

I have other huge issues with suburban sprawl and the whole suburban
culture here in the US as well, a different topic, I know; but it has
to be stated as it undoubtedly plays a key role in the want and need
for motor vehicles by many Americans. If we didn’t live 20 miles away
from where we go to school and work, then there would be much less of
an issue and the car culture in the US would simply dissolve. It is
honestly ridiculous to live so far away from the places that you need
to go on a regular basis when you could just as easily live in the
city, much closer to the places that you need to go.

Both are huge issues that people need to get over in my opinion. You
don’t need an acre or two of land surrounding your home, really. There
is absolutely no need for that, it’s wasteful and harmful to all of us
in the long run. Living in the city is a much better option. Hopefully
more and more people in our future generations realize this and stop
moving into and building new unnecessary suburbs.

BlogCatalog