Tuesday, January 1, 2008

My wishes for the new year

I like making resolutions for the new year, but I've also found myself with a few big wishes for the coming year(s). I recognize they are pretty wishful thinking, but hey, you have to start somewhere, right? They include:

1. Seeing the republican warmongers get their collective asses kicked in the coming election. I would love to see a woman president. Maybe she would surprise us with more diplomacy and less saber rattling when it came to conflict resolution...? Along that line of thinking, I believe it would be an excellent idea to require every young man (regardless of health, economic status, etc.) to serve a mandatory 2 years in the military. If senators and congressmen and Haliburton executives had sons (and perhaps daughters) serving in the military, perhaps we would be less likely to rush into armed conflict in the future...?

2. Move towards universal health care. I would happily pay more taxes if it meant an end to the corrupt and broken system we have now that has left 40 million without health insurance, and those of us with it in the worst shape ever. There are several countries that have successfully implemented this -- Sweden and Norway come to mind, and they have some of the best doctors and medical technology in the world (not to mention the highest standard of living). We have some of the best and brightest minds here in America, and more resources than just about anyone. I truly believe we could carefully and thoughtfully put something together that would implement the best of what's out there, and avoid the worst aspects of the rest. Hey, when insurance executives are billionaires, something is definitely broken, and money targeted for actual health care is obviously going into the wrong pockets. The number one reason for bankruptcy in America is medical bills. The number one reason for homelessness is, you guessed it...

3. Extend public education all the way through college. Imagine any person from any economic or ethnic background being able to pursue their educational dreams as far as they can be taken. Imagine for example that anyone who wanted, and had the skill set, to become a doctor could do so, regardless of economic background, and actually graduate from medical school debt-free. If a student has the grades, and demonstrates the ability, let them go as far as possible with their education! Imagine the positive impact on the US economy if, say, 87% of adults over the age of 25 had a college degree, instead of the current 27% (citing Wikipedia, 2003). And imagine those same graduates that begin their families without being 20-30 thousand dollars in student-loan debt at the outset. I can also imagine that college costs could be dramatically reduced if we invested in on-line curricula, free of charge to anyone who wanted to take advantage of it (think "Wiki University"). Imagine getting pretty much most of your education at your own pace; leaving classroom time for hands-on labs, teacher Q&A, etc. How to prevent kids from being careless with such a gift? Maybe implement it like some of my employers have -- require a passing grade from them, or they pay a hefty "fine" (the normal cost of the class for example). You get the idea...

4. Imagine taking a good percentage of our "defense" budget and, instead of spending billions on WMD's and munitions to destroy life and property, rather invest in alternate energy research. Imagine the world impact if some clever mind were to discover a way to cheaply and efficiently separate hydrogen from sea water. Or perhaps return to the moon with an international team with a common purpose -- the establishment of a manufacturing facility on the lunar surface that could make solar collectors that would beam (via microwave transmission) unlimited supplies of energy back to earth. What would happen if power was dirt cheap, readily available to everyone, and was non-polluting and didn't adversely impact climate? How might that impact world peace, dependence on oil (and the global conflicts associated with that), etc.?

Other, more personal wishes for the coming year include:

  • My nephew beating his recently diagnosed cancer.
  • Finding myself in a loving relationship again with a good woman.
  • Getting my finances in order.
  • (Assuming the previous wish) Doing some traveling.
  • Getting my book finished.
What about you? What are your wishes? And are mine just too unrealistic?


M & M said...

I don't believe anything is unrealistic. It's your list, and your dreams. I hope they all come true!

Some things I hope for in the new year which may or may not be possible are (but I can certainly hope): going on vacation, losing weight, remodeling my house, spend more time with Mike and Peter, learn something new, read some good books, my parents to sell their house and stop fighting, cook lots of good food and watch less TV.

Here's to wishing!

P.S. I'm so glad you're blogging now. Welcome!

lma said...

Glad to see you blogging, Rich.

I'm hoping for that ass-kicking myself, although I'm not particular to see a woman as president...just someone who might be able to get this mess we're in fixed and cut out the cowboy mentality that currently pervades our government.

The mandatory service is an interesting idea, but the cynic in me is pretty sure that the rich and powerful would find ways to keep their kids out of harm's way on a regular enough basis that having the kids in service wouldn't stop the rich mommys and daddys in the current crop from rushing around starting things if they see a profit in it. Just my (jaded) opinion, though.

I'm also right there with you on the health care issue. I don't see how one can claim to uphold the idea that "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" are the right of all and then support a system that deprives people of health care just because they can't afford it. Of course, in the current power structure, I've got an idea that there are more than a few who believe that those words were only meant for white male property owners; hence their attitudes toward the availability of health care.

I would love to see universal education, and one of the things that bugs me the most of anything I have heard in the past few years is the growing sentiment among some educators that "not everyone is cut out for college" being used as a way of tracking certain segments of our youth into vocational-technical educations rather than into college prep programs. And you know it isn't the rich white boys who tend to get put on the voc-tech track.

I'm very grateful for the education that I received, and I don't begrudge paying for it for the next x-number of years. But nobody should have to bear that burden. I mean, it is just silly to expect someone to launch into their working life with thousands of dollars of debt already incurred.

As far as alternative energy development goes, you do realize, don't you, that if someone could figure out how to put a meter on sunlight, we would be much farther along in the development and use of solar energy than we are now? It is all about making money.

Everything on your list is, really. Making war is good business for the select few. So is the health care industry and education. This is one of the things I've learned in these almost three years that I've been writing finance market news. If something will make someone a great deal of money, the will to do it will be there. If it looks like something will not be a big money-maker, no one is willing to make the effort.

All of which is the long way around to say that all of your wishes are admirable and worthy, but that the best way to get them to come true is to find some way of changing people's most basic attitudes. Post like yours are a good start in that direction.

JohnR said...

Beautiful list--I can't tell you how many times I've wished for 1 (except for the mandatory military), 2, and 4. I'm adding #3 to my grandest desires.

I wish you the best on your more personal wishes/resolutions as well. May ask about the book you're working on?

Rich said...

The book is a collaborative effort with my father. Titled "Degrees of Freedom and the Creation: Bridging A Gap Between Science and Religion".

Intended primarily for LDS readers, it will be a philosophical attempt to reconcile Evolution, Creation, and our own "Zweck Des Lebens". If nothing else, it gives me an excuse to spend quality time with my aging (86-y.o.) dad.

M & M said...

P.S. I love that you listed "Predator" right next to "Sound of Music". Only you! *chuckling*

JohnR said...

Rich, after hearing about the incredible project you and your dad are working on, I thought you might appreciate this episode of the SF podcast, Escape Pod.

C. L. Hanson said...

That's a good list. I agree up to two minor points: (1) I think improving K-12 education is currently more critical than making University-level education totally free, though Universtiy-level education definitely needs to at least be brought down to the reasonably affordable level, (2) Given Clinton's war voting record, I don't think kicking the warmongers out is necessarily compatible with seeing a woman elected this cycle. Fixing U.S. foreign policy is a huge priority, and it's starting to look like Obama would do a better job...