Saturday, January 25, 2014

Can We Stop with the Short Sighted "Good" Ideas?

Every now and again I see people saying things that's just asking for someone to kick them.

For example, the idea of random drug testing for beneficiaries.

Doesn't sound all that bad right? A few months ago I came across a TED talk that had me worried. In it, it was stated that there are 2 states within the United States that don't allow voting if you've been within the prison system.

Why did this have me worried? Because it does a couple of things. It implies that once you've been in the prison system, you no longer have a voice. You aren't a person anymore. You don't have your views represented.

But the clip got worse. If you look at the population of non-whites in prison in comparison to the ratio of non-whites to whites in general population, you start to see something really wrong. There's a tendency to target the poor.

In other words, while the laws apply to everyone, in practise it's quite different.

Back to beneficiaries, what would the effect be from random drug testing?

We would be telling beneficiaries that we don't trust them. Given the effects of long term multi-generation state dependency, this is the opposite of what people need to get out of their situation.

We would be creating a situation with an "us" and a "them". They are no longer people. They are beneficiaries.

We would be targeting laws toward certain people. We know that there are people in all parts of society who do drugs. There's a pretty good chance that you, at the very least, have tried it.

But it's illegal to do so! In this country at least. So why would we want people targeted and getting into trouble for a law for which A LOT of us have broken? Should people be targeted by virtue of being poor?

Basically, it's not about drugs at all. It's a way of creating an "us" and a "them". It's a way of getting votes. It's a dumb arse reactionary policy that no one in their right mind would want to do.

Basically, I would love for this kind of politics to be taken out behind a shed and shot. Let people know why this sort of crap is an amazingly bad idea and talk about net effects of such discrimination.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Because I'm an Introvert

Something really bothers me about people who talk about being introverts. I hate it. It's stupid. Things like "I'm not shy, I'm an introvert" or "I don't like small talk because I'm an introvert"...

Being an introvert is not a reason. Stop using it as one.

For me - I hate small talk. I can't stand it. It drives me nuts. I hate someone saying to me "'sup" because it's taken small talk and made it even worse. The problem? It's pre-scripted stuff - I needn't be a part of it at all. Someone else could read my part. I hate it when I'm spouting off something that I've said a thousand times before to the same question.... i.e. how're you doing?. What's the point?!

It's not because I'm an introvert. It's because I hate feeling mechanical. I'd much rather you were after an actual response. I like talking to people. I hate small talk... Yes, I come across as snobby or antisocial at times... Particularly at family events where it's ALL small talk.

I like small gatherings because I hate feeling like I'm ignoring people. And I hate feeling like I'm in a room full of people and no one's noticing me. It's like being invisible. I don't like feeling invisible... And even worse, big gatherings normally lead to small talk. Blargh! Horrible!

Take responsibility for your awkwardness. You're not awkward because you're an introvert. You're an introvert because you're awkward. Moan all you want about people wanting to change you - that's about as bad as you wanting everyone to change for you...
What does all of this mean? I have to challenge myself - because it's about my own feelings rather than the people around me - to do things that make me feel uncomfortable. That means I will occasionally go to a party knowing that I'm going to find myself sitting in a corner desperate for someone to talk to me about something other than the weather. Or I'll do public speaking if I absolutely must (just don't ask me to prepare something. A speech will be written - but I stress over things like slides. I'd rather not have them. If you insist on them, just put up some horrible generic thing as a background....). I will conduct in small talk but know that if I'm feeling mechanical, I'm much more likely to want to get away from the situation.

This is not because I'm an introvert. I exhibit introverted behaviour because of these things...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Magic Bullet

I read an article a few days ago - it's appeared a few more times in my Facebook feed.

In it, they claim that to fight poverty, you give people money. Get rid of the aid workers and just give people the money.

Here's the problem for me: The examples they look at exist at the extremes. People who have been living in conditions where their choices are based upon the knowledge that they may not have the resources the following week in order to make those same decisions. In other words, their decisions are based upon quite specific criteria.

Come over to New Zealand and we have a very humane system. Except that it does have its problems. For example, the choices made by people are somewhat limited and based upon a regular weekly income. If I were to try and do my $2 meal thing based upon a weekly income as opposed to having the option to buy things in bulk, I would fail. I don't think it would be possible. Not without having to try and skimp in the first few weeks in order to have enough saved in order to do it.

Within a state dependency cycle, that is, multi-generational state dependency, this has an over all effect on the way that decisions are made. The money you have now can be spent as they'll be money next week... That's very different from living on the street or having that money based upon the capacity to work.

In other words, this goes into my whole cause/symptom rant. The solutions need to fit the cause, not the symptom. The solution arrived at under one set of circumstances won't necessarily fit another set of circumstances.

It bears some testing and thinking about - if the best solution in a lot of scenarios really is to essentially do a money drop, then that's great. But can we please stop looking at the solution as a silver bullet? There are a lot of scenarios in which this wouldn't work. The solution is not always giving away free money...