Rant: New-Age Hippies

July 28, 2011 at 11:29 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s Friday evening. That means that I am once again resenting the fact that I had to move to a tiny town to get a job, and I am seething with jealousy of all of you who have somewhere to go tonight or someone to be with – or both. Especially those of you attending large group outings. At sushi. With beer. As such, the following rant will be underlain by tones of that jealousy.

But on a more serious note, I feel like venting. When I think it’s unwarranted, I usually try to keep my ranting to myself. But this is totally not unwarranted. I can’t guarantee that it will follow any sort of coherent structure – I have a lot of things on my mind to get out, but I think they’re all “pretty” related.

I still keep up with “green” happenings even though I’ve been cut off from the world in all forms except electronic. I’m definitely excited about some of the changes happening and the continued progress. But I’ve steadily grown more and more disillusioned from the people spearheading things – at least on the internet. One of my mainstay sources is treehugger.com. When I originally got a Google Reader account and added them to my feed, it seemed like an alright source of information. They had well-written articles backed with good, solid numbers and research. That is in stark contrast to its current state, however. Now, the articles are a few paragraphs long and seem more like incoherent blurbs of information from science knows how many contributors. It’s as though the author sees an article somewhere else and copies it into treehugger with his or her own garbage interpretation.

Now, the point of all this isn’t so much to destroy treehugger. I’m not that kind of guy. Wait, yes I am. I love taking down other people when they are stupid or incompetent. That includes organizations. But really, what I’m getting at is that this kind of behavior really reflects badly on the entire green community. Maybe that’s not necessarily inaccurate though.

Moving to the country and being absolutely surrounded by conservative Jesus lovers who tend to hate progress or change has really given me a new perspective on how things are done. No, I’m not a right-wing conservative or anything. But I can definitely see how people can become skeptical of the kinds of far-reaching, ill-informed claims that the green community is wont to make. Take, for example, a recent article on treehugger about “smart” water infrastructure. If you’d call it an article (here’s a link). I actually happen to be an engineer who designs water distribution systems and improvements. Even though I’m in a rather backwater region, we use what is called telemetry all the time. Automated systems to control water distribution systems are exceptionally common. Even rural water systems in Oklahoma (trust me, you know what that means if you live here) are beginning to install automatic meter reading systems. Wells, pumps, water towers, valves, and treatment processes can be entirely automated. Even irrigation systems can be put on automatic control (usually they are), reducing the need for operators to use as much fuel for the daily tasks required in running a system. It is also possible to monitor for problems and notify operators at all times of day, rather than having a problem spiral out of control before it is discovered or repaired.

Now, granted, I can school this guy because I work in the industry. But a quick Google search would have been enough to convince the author that automated water distribution is already an industry norm. Am I saying there’s no room for improvement? Absolutely not. I just don’t think that this kind of “blogging” (I prefer the term ‘public brain shitting’ for posts like this) should be encouraged. Maybe you think I’m being overly critical or unnecessarily harsh, but look at the last part of that blurb. The author claims that there is no reason why ALL water distribution systems shouldn’t be using this kind of software. That claim reeks of ignorance. A skeptic knows the first answer: money. Telemetry installation and programming for a really small rural water system costs tens of thousands of dollars in equipment and labor. So, immediately, I know two things about the author: he obviously lives in a big city with an enormous tax base as he seems to think these kinds of improvements simply form out of some hardass republican’s tight asshole, and he’s most likely an academic, left-wing liberal. You can spout off environmentalist idealism all day, but you’re no one until you’re out in the world making a difference.

So, that brings me to my next point: new-age hippies. And the real point of all this. I would say that the majority of posts on websites like treehugger represent skewed, uninformed, left-wing idealism. But this kind of thinking isn’t at all limited to the authors on treehugger.com. I have been following the debate on the government debt ceiling quite closely. While it’s just politics, it does offer some insight into mainstream America’s political leanings. I would offer the idea that 75 percent or more of the population is more left than right. The number comes from the figure stating that over 75 percent of the country’s population lives in large population centers. I can tell you that life out here in the middle of fucking nowhere is pretty much a total 180.

So why is everybody that lives in a city more on the liberal side of things than the conservative side? Look around a city. It’s gorgeous. There are plenty of things to do, public places to see, concerts, parks, water features (most man-made) – a utopia of public facilities. The buildings are made of masonry, the sidewalks are landscaped, the grass neatly trimmed. In a city, you never think twice about a water distribution system unless a main breaks – and even then it’s fixed in a matter of hours. You don’t think about power coming to your apartment or your mobile web coverage. Those things are just given in a city. Coming from a public works engineer, I can tell you right now that at any point in time in a big city, you are looking at millions or even billions of dollars. Take a look out your window. Millions, maybe more. Downtown is billions – even trillions. That money doesn’t come from nowhere.

I know I’m taking a roundabout route to my main point here, bear with me. Or don’t. It’s my rant. Whatever you want. Ignorant academic liberals aren’t the only offensive group of people with a dangerously narrow view of the world. Everyone who has never had to spend time in the darker, lonelier parts of the country has a skewed view. I know this because I was one of those persons. I lived in Omaha my entire life up to the age of 22, and I thought the entire world had a tax base the size of Omaha. Every time I visited a small town I thought “Why doesn’t someone clean that up? Why are two out of three buildings caving in and abandoned?” The answer: reality.

The current debt predicament represents, to me, a macroscopic view of the larger part of our society today. The government has expanded tremendously, even exponentially. They are supposed to use tax money to support its activities. Instead, tax money has shifted from things like roads and infrastructure to places like unemployment benefits and welfare. Then there’s medicare and medicaid. I’m not here to offer any opinions, but I am here to state the obvious: the government is in debt because it spends more than it receives. Now, to me, what the government takes out of my paycheck every year is already too much. Yet it has been stated and proven that our taxes are close to the lowest in the developed world. What blows my mind isn’t the amount they take out of wages though. What blows my mind is the amount they take away from businesses. If you know anything about investing in stocks, especially those that pay dividends, you know that the government is essentially driving away business by taking too much. Add to that consumer pressure to get prices as low as possible and you’ve got no one really earning anything. Consider it from the other side. Say you own a successful national corporation like AT & T or Bank of America. Since it costs a billion dollars just to eat every month and your profits are below 5 percent on the dollar for all your production costs, why would you create jobs? Why would you opt to put any of what’s leftover after the government takes its huge chunk back to the people? I wouldn’t. I would keep it all for myself and hope it was enough to live the standard of life I had earned by creating a massive, nationally successful corporation. So when you wonder where the jobs are, and when you’re pressing really hard for that cushy government job with huge benefits and steady job security, remember where they went.

So new-age hippies don’t care about free love and marijuana. That’s a thing of the past. But they resemble hippies because they think they deserve a high standard of living while being expected to contribute nothing of value to society. That is my main point – I’ve heard it referred to as the entitlement phenomenon, too. One of the articles I read on a far more reputable source (CNBC to be exact) compared our taxes to our expenditures in a pretty straightforward way: taxes are essentially what they were in the 1950’s, but we expect services to continue to increase? Taxes would have to increase for that, and I’ve already lamented at how an increase in taxes is going to destroy what little is left of America’s economy. People need to remember how to do it on their own and the government needs to be cut back hard.

If you don’t really think I’m right, consider the fact that most people are massively in debt. Consider further that almost everyone lives well above their means. The reason the CEOs of GM or GE or Exxon-Mobil drive nice cars, take long vacations, and bang lots of women is because they built enormous, vastly successful companies to finance that kind of life. What did you do? It is most often the middle class crying out against the rich for having “too good” of a life. Treehugger.com wrote an article about how income inequality makes people unhappy. You can deny it, but the concept that there even should be income equality defeats the point of the discussion. The middle class is the class of people who are financing exceptionally expensive, five- and ten-year educations in order to “get a good job.” It’s getting to the point where a college education doesn’t even make sense from a financial standpoint. If the goal in life is to be materially comfortable and secure, shouldn’t you take that into consideration? I mean most people work for ten years or more just to pay off the school debt. And I suspect most people only pay it off because they have to. Some don’t – I know a lot of people who get loan forgiveness because they go to work for the government. In a life where everything is simply handed to you, how can you learn to be grateful for anything? It’s no wonder young people across the board don’t value hard work or innovation or creativity.

Young people are generally idealistic, ignorant, lazy, apathetic, and focused on their own material satisfaction. I should qualify that further by saying young people TODAY. It’s almost pandemic, and it’s incredibly easy to verify. What kinds of activities require lots of practice and hard-earned skill to be good? Take something like musical instruments or sports. Actually, we don’t even have to go that far. Take simply being in shape. How many people are in shape? Anything that takes any kind of sustained, focused effort is largely outside of the realm of young people today.

I’m a bona fide hater of “alternative” music. You can see the kind of cultural degeneration young people are inundated with in this particular genre. A lot of alternative appeals to young people because it reflects their most sacred values in life: apathy and material comfort. Alternative lyrics are dripping with things like entitlement to a good life and abandon for other people. It subtly promotes a selfish, reckless attitude toward life in general.  You can see it in the job market, too. Young people go to school for four years, get a degree in English and then expect a cushy office job that pays six figures. That’s right – EXPECT. The sense of entitlement young people have is disgusting. Let’s say our test subject gets a degree in English and manages to get a half-decent job. Chances are he knew the owner or supervisor or HR agent. Next, he expects a big paycheck. Since his degree in English is worthless, however, and his written and oral communication skills are on par with a monkey like most people, any sensible executive sees that he is more of a draw on company money than a contributor. Long story short is he doesn’t get the big paycheck – he gets a salary that is entirely undeserved, but still in the range of something like 35k a year. That’s not really enough to pay off school debt, pay for groceries, a girlfriend, a new car, an enormous home theater system, or a data plan on a smart phone. But that’s just too damn bad, because those things are all “essential” to his live-it-up lifestyle. Who cares if he didn’t earn it? Loans! Loans are the answer. Besides, the government is doing it. It can’t be that bad. And now we have come full circle.

George Carlin made a good point in his final years that you really don’t have any “rights.” The idea of “rights” is a gimmick. For someone who has nothing of value to offer to society, that is a rather scary thought. Since most people have nothing to offer, most people reject the idea that you don’t really have any rights. Think about it though: you’re a free person. You can choose to travel around after college, financing your travels with credit cards and not giving a care in the world about actually getting a job or producing anything. You can go out to expensive restaurants and bars with all your friends on the weekends and live like you’re a millionaire. You’ll eventually end up in default or in jail, or working a shitty job you hate that you only got because you knew someone doing the hiring. The only real “right” or “freedom” in the world is money. The only thing with a political voice is money. The only thing that speaks to most women is money. The only thing that really makes sense is to do everything you can to amass enormous wealth. That is the only way in which you will be free to actually enjoy life instead of working for the rest of it. It is the only way you will ever get married or have a sway in policy-making. Money is freedom in our world, and if you’re just a punk who can’t produce, you’re going to lose hard.

Anyways, I’ve listened to an entire As I Lay Dying album and am hitting 2600 words here soon, so I’m done.


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