Archive for October, 2014

Let’s Make Life Better

October 21, 2014

This is just speculation and philosophizing about what makes for our culture. It’s a good thing to consider what makes us what we are. In the 50’s GM was buying up transit systems and tearing out trolley tracks and electric bus lines. All to get people believing that the car, the Eisenhower expressway, etc. were the “wave of the future”. Get on board or forever get left behind. In the 90’s Bill Gates sold schools on the wonderfulness of his contraption and millions were spent (and continue to be spent) to “upgrade” education with the “newest technology”. The last ten years have witnessed extreme consternation with the efficacy of our education system. As an artist friend said when we discussed this once “New technology doesn’t necessarily make life better.” Now Bill Gates is saying that consumption, not capital, should be taxed. And boy, continuously upgraded technology sure is being consumed! (check out the latest sales of the new Apple phone). Someday folks will make the correlation between the new technology and the dismantling, abandonment of “public” in favor of the “private” mantra of each person providing for their own retirement, healthcare, transportation, education, etc. Nothing comes from nothing. The conservative dismantling, initiated by Reagan, of anything public that was from FDR times coincides quite conveniently with the rise of new technology. From a social sciences perspective, contemporary social interactions are now almost all mediated — from online dating, education, shopping, healthcare, sex, meetings, getting a job, having “friends”, etc. And of course, the mediation is ever so personally private and quite individual (unlike “see the USA in your Chevrolet” which occurred on very public roads). This mediation is also considered as consumption though those who provide the service are doing it in the public interest through the access and use of public resources (right of ways, public airways, public vistas, etc.). The new imperative is now that the consumer ought to be taxed to pay for this (as well as the maintenance of the public resources) while the service providers should be exempt from any taxes. When it comes to solving absolutely “public” problems like global warming, education, infrastructure maintenance, the environment, energy generation, health care (ebola, etc.), worldwide immigration (migration) and our state of continuous war, the argumentation becomes incredibly inane and polarized. “New technology doesn’t necessarily make life better.”