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Is our country really better today than it was...(12 posts)

Is our country really better today than it was...94Nole
Jul 14, 2003 12:55 PM
"back in the day" when life was pretty simple. People tended to mind their own business unless it was to help someone.

How did we get to where we are today? Where are we headed if we continue down the path we are on?

How would your perfect world look?
Which "back in the day" are you talking about?czardonic
Jul 14, 2003 1:07 PM
Let us know, so we can inform you as to why life was not so simple as you imagine.
Define as you wish.94Nole
Jul 14, 2003 1:23 PM
Are we better today than we were 150 years ago? 100 years? 50?

I guess I think of something as great as the internet. It has so many good uses but also has it's bad side (proliferation of pornography - provided you deem that a bad thing, etc.)

Life was pretty simple, just back when I was a teen (hint - pong was introduced when I was about 10). We walked or rode our bikes to school and played all over our neighborhood/community without a single concern that we would be kidnapped. I remember my father picking up hitchhikers without being worried about being robbed or killed or.... My father worked in a paper mill without a concern of working anywhere else. He probably only had a couple of jobs in almost 50 years of his working life.

The county deputies would drive a drunk driver home and not through him in jail.

We knew all of our neighbors, now we hardly know any. Those kind of things.
late 70's?rufus
Jul 14, 2003 1:43 PM
i assume you livd in a suburb or country, if you rode bikes everywhere and played alone.

paper can be made cheaper in other countries so big business has moved out of that field into more lucrative areas, or simply shipped those jobs elsewhere. those jobs could still be here, but hey, you know, the company would only make half the profits it does now. nope, sorry dad, go find some other job.

yeah, and when he slapped his wife around, or wrapped his car around a tree, no one said anything. in fact, it was kinda funny. god forbid he end up killing someone.

people working two jobs just to make ends meet, often seven days a week, doesn't leave a lot of time to socialize with the neighbors.

my dad supported my mom and four kids on $100/week(we had free rent) until i was ten years old. yup, the good ole days. wonder what happened to them?
Fair enough.czardonic
Jul 14, 2003 1:58 PM
As an ideal, my preference would be for a simpler life of greater self-sufficiency and stability.

But, is it really any less safe for kids to play in their neighborhoods? You'd think so based on "popular" wisdom as influenced by the media, but if I am not mistaken, actual statistics tell a much different story. During last summer's "spate" of child abductions the untold story was that such incidents were on a decline.

In general, I think that fear has been discovered to be a potent control mechanism. Citizens who live in fear of crime are more likely to endow their governments with power. Consumers wracked by various fears are more likely to spend money to assuage them. Employees in an uncertain job market are less likely to ask for increases in benefits or rock the boat when they see things that are amiss.

So, in order to keep our societal and economic pumps primed, we are manipulated from all directions towards being more insecure and less trusting, and as these conditions become the normal state of affairs, we become less compassionate and less trustworthy.
Fair enough.Jon Billheimer
Jul 15, 2003 7:06 AM

You make an excellent point about the culture of fear. However, the manipulation that you speak of I think is not a consciously directed manipulation (with the exception of the external enemies theme which GWB keeps flogging) so much as a byproduct of the information age. Good news doesn't sell like bad news. So bad news is hyped in a daily, even hourly basis as we all withdraw into our cocoons of fear.
Thank youSteveS
Jul 15, 2003 9:40 AM
Thanks for the segue, perfect lead in. That nasty ol' GWB,he must have 'bought' the person below. Either that or he is an intelligent Canadian..

TORONTO — Toronto (search) is home to one of the largest Islamic communities in North America and is widely regarded as one of the world's most ethnically diverse cities.

But critics charge this tolerant and open society has also created an opening for terrorists who have their sights trained across the border at the United States.

"Al Qaeda (search) is here," said John Thompson, of the Mackenzie Institute (search), a Toronto-based think tank.

A Mackenzie study released last month found 15 of 80 identified international terrorist groups, including those responsible for homicide bombings in Israel, have a presence in Canada.

The report charges Usama bin Laden's terrorist network extends to at least 25 operatives in Canada and included Ahmed Ressam (search), who used America's northern neighbor as a base for his millennium bombing plot. Ressam was convicted for his conspiracy to bomb Los Angeles International Airport in December 1999.

Canada is certainly no stranger to terrorism. Until Sept. 11, 2001, the most deadly case of air terrorism in history originated in that country.

More than 300 people died aboard an Air India flight in 1985 en route from Montreal to Delhi when explosives planted in luggage detonated over the Atlantic Ocean. No one has been convicted in the killings, which remain under investigation.

The Air India bombing case, currently in court in British Columbia, is the Canadian equivalent of the 1989 Pam Am bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 259 passengers traveling from Frankfurt to New York and 11 people on the ground.

Despite that history, however, critics say Canada's open immigration and refugee policies could be creating a safe harbor for terrorists targeting the United States. Potential terrorists could be slipping under the radar of Canadian politicians wary of appearing intolerant, they say.

"It's political correctness. No political figure can really afford to be charged with racism by an interest group," Thompson said.

A senior administration official told Fox News the United States sees potential repercussions of Canada's leniency for security within U.S. borders. The United States needs Canada's cooperation to prevent future terrorist attacks.

And once terrorists make it across Canada's more lenient borders, it's all too easy for them to gain access to the United States, experts say.

"We need to harmonize our visa policies," said Asa Hutchinson, undersecretary for Borders and Transportation Security. "We've had great discussions with them. They have their own relationships with countries and their own policies, and we respect that, but they understand that's a vulnerability that has to be looked at."

But Canada's solicitor general, the equivalent of the U.S. attorney general, clearly feels otherwise.

"Overall, antiterrorism cooperation with Canada remains excellent .The government of Canada has been a helpful and strong supporter of the United States in the fight against terrorism," according to a statement released from that country in regards to a recent State Department report.

Canadian officials say the Mackenzie report contains a number of inaccuracies, but the author is standing by his work.

"We've been lucky twice. We're lucky Ahmed Ressam did not actually get inside the United States with his load of explosives. We're also very lucky the 9/11 attackers did all directly enter the United States. We might not be lucky a third time," Thompson said.

Better safe than sorry.
Good point.94Nole
Jul 15, 2003 9:47 AM
As I read your responses and think about my own questions, seems that people are a bit bolder (more likely to question authority) now than a few years ago and that is no doubt related to information.

I think about the different generations... the older set is still pretty reserved because they probably process pretty much the same amount of info from the same basic sources (breakfast club (the old guys at Hardees in the mornings), newspapers, magazines, network evening news, etc.

However, the younger the generation gets, the more information that is processed from many different sources. Of course there are always exceptions but it probably generally holds.

I know that my 8th grader last school year was doing stuff that we didn't generally see until the 10th and sometimes the 11th grades. And I would spend hours in a library to do things that he is able to do from the comfort of his home.

I guess it all really makes sense.
Seems pretty concious to me.czardonic
Jul 15, 2003 10:03 AM
If bad news is conciously hyped because it sells better, is that not a concious manipulation?

I also think that the notion that good news just plain doesn't sell is not as true as is commonly assumed. Americans have a pretty healthy appetite for feel-good escapism. Plus there is the popularity of the empowering jingoism dispensed by Fox News. In general, Americans go to great lengths to maintain a blissful ignorance about the world around them.

At the end of the day however, good news doesn't tend to inspire further consumption. It doesn't sell diet products, designer clothes, SUVs, home security systems etc. These products are sold by creating the perception that we are un-attractive, un-fashionable and vulnerable on the roads and at home. (Not that every consumer is subconciously motivated by these fears).
Fair enough.critmass
Jul 16, 2003 1:34 PM
Resisting mass suggestion is too psychologically hard for many people. The force of the collective fever that political leaders create to take us to war is a good example. It makes it so easy to use the word traitor. Our ability to get information from so many sources so quickly now gives us the ability to resist those suggestions a little easier. I will say the Dubya and the boyz were more incompetent than most in the propaganda they were pushing during the build up to this last debacle. Most of their manipulations were easily seen as lies to those looking hard enough, the French as one example. It seems that it is also being seen in hindsight by some of the boy scouts who initially bought it. The lies about Iraq's nuclear program are much more significant than the ones about WMD. Those lies were used to bring about the ultimate fears.
The corporate public relation models that were used to sanitize and build sympathy once the war began are also falling apart because of the omission of truths, again the corporate model. Jessica Lynch being a good example of this. Dubya would have done better to copy Wilson's Peace without Victory propaganda campaign instead of plagiarizing Ray-Gun Ronnie. As I said before here Hussein was as big a threat to the U.S. as Ortega was. It was just the lies that made it look like a more ominous threat. But then Wilson didn't have an insatiable need to please his daddy.
FWIW, IMHO my 2 cents etc. or as my intelligent prez would say "HUH?"
I have a very nice life compared to my parents, grandparentsContinental
Jul 15, 2003 7:58 AM
My mom and dad both had their fathers die (without ever seeing a hospital or taking a drug) during the great depression. As typical for that time in rural America, my parents were finished with their formal education after 8th grade. They lived through WW II, got married, then worked incredibly hard at rather menial jobs to provide for us. From my perspective they had a hard life, but from their perspective they had it easy, much easier than their parents.

I've had better education, better health care, a more fullfilling job, and a lot more material wealth than my parents had. The same is true for my siblings.

My children have better education, better health care and a more pleasant physical and emotional environment than I had at their age.

I don't think there has ever been a better time and place to be alive than today in the developed world.

A perfect world would be one where all humans could live their lives to their full potentials. The realitiy is that most humans on earth are enchained by countless social, political, and economical problems.
I agree with much of what you say.94Nole
Jul 15, 2003 9:57 AM
Practically, speaking, I agree that there has never been a better time to be alive, but it continues to become increasingly difficult to compete for a smaller piece of the action. Many people have to be at the top of their game on a daily basis or will likely face the reality of the pink slip.

I understand about the education but that never seemed to hinder those who went before as they never seemed to aspire to anything greater. They were satisfied with what they had and were less concerned about the Joneses. I was the first person on my mom's side of the family to complete 4+ years of formal education. I think there were 2 cousins on my dad's side that may have finished before me.

And many of the other things mentioned I think though goes back to the point made about information and the results from a proliferation of it. We have more resources to help us care for and raise our children and they become the beneficiaries of that knowledge.

I just wonder how they'll deal with increasing technoligies and more competition for fewer rewarding positions.