RANT: Education, Soldiers, Criminals, and Prisons


It's surreal and strange to reflect on what society deems as "important" today... important to the world (collectively), to our "leaders", and to us as individuals. What we as people allow—and as citizens of the world ignore or endure—is a fascinating reflection of denial, mediocrity, and self-victimization. 

Take the State of California—my home—and the current state of the education system. Education in the United States is famous/infamous for being substandard... with California ranking #36 in the nation (only 14 states were deemed as worse; you can review the rankings yourself.). What's interesting about the low ranking of California is the big public push for education and the money that has been put behind it — at least that's what the State's PR machine spouts on a regular basis. 

Education was a huge priority for California in the early/mid-1980s... and it's the entire reason the California State Lottery Act was written—and subsequently passed. The California State Lottery Act of 1984 was intended to provide more money to schools without imposing extra taxes. Accordingly, the Lottery was required to provide at least 34% of its revenues to public education, supplementing (not replacing) other funds provided by California. Interesting to read... and in reflection of this, I'd love to understand why arts, sports, music programs, and extracurricular activities are routinely canceled and/or killed. Further, I'd love to know why over the last 100 years the State of California has built two universities... but over 50 prisons. Well... I'll tell you why: Money. There's more money in housing one-time drug offenders than in education. And as such, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy: Don't educate our youth, that way they have substandard life and job skills. They turn to drugs or crime... and become a cash cow for the prison system. These are the reasons that the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA - one of the most powerful unions in the country with even more powerful political lobbyists) has a massive choke-hold on California. 

But let's move on. There's no money in U.S. education (which is why today's teachers have to by their own supplies and beg/borrow/steal/fundraise for PENS, PENCILS AND KLEENEX for use in the classroom), and prisons are businesses that generate CA$H through state/government grants, payments and subsidies. Okay. Let's reflect on the *benefits* of that business... not for the workers; let's talk about the the inmates. 

These sub-standardly educated individuals commit a crime—the vast majority of which are either drug related or petty theft/crimes to support a drug addiction—and are then housed in a make-shift Gladiator Academy — jail/prison, where you must commit REAL crimes to survive. In essence, the prison system takes addicts and creates criminals. (Generally speaking, of course. It's not like there aren't any hardcore felons that commit their crimes out here before being convicted.) During the time these criminals pay their debt to society, they receive the following (which is state and federally MANDATED): Three square meals per day, cable TV privileges, clothing, family/conjugal visits, library access, education, psychological counseling, drug treatment programs, medical benefits, sports and physical fitness equipment... AND when they are paroled and/or ready to reenter society, they have halfway houses for room-and-board, transitional programs, job opportunities, training and education programs OUTSIDE of prison... and a counselor/parole officer/case worker to assist and keep them in-line and accountable. 

CONTRAST: Thousands upon thousands of men and women are sent out of this country on orders from the Powers That Be to defend it... and by extension, us and our way of life. These men and women are soldiers, fighting for the current administration's political agenda (read: "War is the continuation of politics by other means." —Carl von Clausewitz). THEIR benefits? Poor living conditions and tent cities, MREs for sustenance, no access to family (at least physically, very limited with technology), and no (or limited) education while deployed. 

Let's add insult to injury. These government servants are exposed to the underbelly of humanity. They see and experience things that no human should have to endure, only a small amount of which is ever reported by the media: violence, rape, murder... and a constant internal debate of "Do I stay true to my morals, values, and humanity... or do I adapt so I can survive in this environment?" War changes people... and no person who has seen the front lines will come back the same as when they left. They see and experience too much.

And now... the worst part. When these brave men and women return back from serving their country... they receive..... SHIT. Where is THEIR counseling? Transition plan? Job opportunities? Case worker? Drug treatment (because they were learning to cope and adapt out there)? Room-and-board? Sorry... nothing for them but a media-infused label of Post-Tramatic Stress Disorder — which is the government's way of saying, "Sorry you got all fucked up seeing things no human should ever have to see. Here's a piece of cardboard, a black marker, and a corner to stand on so you can pay your bills as you readjust to the "real" world. 

We as a human race have our priorities all fucked up. We value the wrong things. We have created customized class separation across the board and have built a flourishing business out of it. We addict people to drugs, corral them as cattle and brand them, but offer no way for self-correction — as that will syphon cash off the top for the 1%. 

But I ask you... who's fault is this? Is it the 1%'s fault? Last time I checked, 99% was greater than 1%. WE could correct this by choosing a different path. But do we? No. We are too busy trying to get that new car or buy that new TV or sent our kids to ballet/softball/cooking class... First World Problems at their finest. It's easier to wallow in our own personal decadence and embrace our inner-ostrich and bury our heads in order to ignore a sad, simple fact: We all KNOW the truth... but we are too afraid to rise up and make a difference... and as long as it isn't us or someone we know personally, we will turn a blind eye. We will pretend that education is first for us. We will line the streets and wave a flag in true fake patriotism when soldiers return from the front lines... and we will tuck our kids in at night thinking we are good citizens of the world. 

Wake up, people.