Tag Archives: social issues

The Thing About Taxes

I will preface this by saying I am not well-researched in the areas of politics, national financing, or whatever actually goes into this mess, in the United States or elsewhere.

But I think it might be worth mentioning my thoughts on a few things, based on personal experiences, and some things I’ve heard that just… don’t make a lot of sense.

Taxes aren’t inherently bad.

The word “tax” in itself has come to have largely negative connotations–if you’re being “taxed” by something, you’re being weighed down or put upon. We have classic examples of people, like the Sheriff of Nottingham from the Robin Hood stories, who abuse taxes.

In a truly ironic state of affairs, my dad is adamantly against any kind of raise in taxes, but he also works for the state of Minnesota, and part of our taxes are what pay his own wages.

But if taxes are being abused, for things like… oh, say, a giant wall, or a football stadium… then, yeah, I wholeheartedly understand the aversion.

I don’t think anyone is ever entirely sure what taxes are used for, but there’s obviously some mismanagement going on somewhere, and that’s the bad thing. Taxes themselves? They have some truly positive possibilities.

Let’s just, for the sake of imagination, pretend that a perfect world is possible. What should taxes, in a perfect world (and my opinion) be used for?

  • Protecting/conserving the environment
  • Researching and developing important new innovations in energy, transportation, and health (cure for cancer, anyone?)
  • Providing/maintaining a basic standard of health and well-being for everyone
  • Paying first responders, health professionals, and peace-keepers
  • Educating people well
  • Preserving culture by investing in arts, museums, libraries, archives, and community centers
  • Community improvements, like road construction, parks & rec, etc.
  • Providing some kind of safety net and/or rehabilitation programs for those who are  out of work and/or homeless. (This would include retirement, and being out of work due to an injury, veteran benefits, and other things of that nature, in addition to being in a bad situation for other reasons.)

Some people are really put out by the thought of providing for others. Which… I get, to some extent. At the moment, it’s hard to fathom providing for myself, let alone anyone else in the country–but that’s because a lot of things in “the system” are broken. They’re not being used the way they should.

If I had the peace of mind that came with guaranteed good health, the basic ability to learn the things I need to know without being in debt for the foreseeable future, and the reassurance that life as we know it wasn’t on its way to being toasted out of the Earth like a bad virus, I would happily give away a third or more of my income for the rest of my life.

In a perfect world, what would your taxes be used for?

What would you be willing to provide, to make your own life and the lives of others easier?

19 Years.

weapon-violence-children-child-52984.jpegToday marks 19 years since the Columbine High School shootings. But what was once shocking became a regular occurrence. How could we have ever known where this state of gun violence would end up?

In this final post in my three part series, I want to share my story with my peers, the rest of the Xenials/Millenials. A story of shock, inaction, repeated shock, inaction, indifference, and hope.

Columbine. Virginia Tech. Sandy Hook.

I was a senior in high school when Eric Harris and Dylan Kliebold went on a 51 minute shooting spree in their high school that ended up with 13 dead and 21 injured. The school year was almost over and I was looking forward to graduation in June. Life was pretty great in our sheltered pre-9/11 world where my biggest concern was what dress to wear to prom.

And in less than an hour, that innocence was taken away. I’d lived through the Oklahoma City bombing and Operation Desert Storm, but this was different. This could have been me.

As most tragedies go, the focus sadly shifts from the victims to the shooters in a very short amount of time. Why did they do it? Was it video games? Goth culture? Were they outcasts taking revenge? Even I pushed aside what happened as the news shifted to the shooters and then, when the 20/20 specials ran out of new content, moved on.

Several years later, with Virginia Tech, the same thing happened to me. Shock, anger, obsession, apathy. Then Sandy Hook, then countless others, and I stopped even being shocked.

My generation failed, big time. We could have been the ones who said enough with the thoughts and prayers. Do something. Stop this now. But we forgot. Moved on.

And then an old friend of mine got shot last year in Las Vegas. When he healed, I still did nothing.

Today kids walked out of class in solidarity to ask for gun reform. This culture of gun violence that gets normalized by the older generations with the thoughts and prayers has stopped with them. Why now? What makes them take action where their parents didn’t?

I truly believe that in addition to seeing their peers murdered on a regular basis, that social media has played an enormous role in their movement. Scott says “Your smartphone is all you need” and mentions the importance of Facebook Live (pp. 305-306). Though his writing is more in regards to marketing and PR, it still holds true for social movements. This generation grew up on social media, and they don’t hesitate to use it. Videos that are happening now, that are current, that are anything but what their parents would do to promote a cause. These kids can’t help but see what’s happening live all over the country, and the messages that spread so rapidly can create an urgency to act now.

Today, remembering Columbine, I still can’t help but feel a sense of guilt about my generation’s inaction. And yet I feel pride and hope and inspiration in these kids who have done what we failed to do. It’s not too late to join the fight.

#HandsOffSyria

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My audience for this blog post is my fellow students as well as other individuals looking to educate themselves on social media or social platforms.

Through my last two blog posts, I have written about how social media or any type of social platform can be used to not only spread awareness but to start a social movement as well. On Saturday, the U.S. decided to bomb Syria along with the U.K. and France. There were a variety of different responses to this attack but this sparked a new hashtag called Hands Off Syria. Through this hashtag, people are showing what Syria looked like before the seemingly endless war started as well as the problems with the long history of the U.S. creating their own terrorist attacks but not calling them that. This hashtag brings light into the horrible acts that have been orchestrated by the U.S. over the past decade. In order for something to stop, it needs to be discussed which is what is being generated by this platform.

Twitter allows for so many different people to share their opinions as well as find a commonality with others to spread awareness and even make a difference just as was mentioned by John Coate (1998) in “Cyberspace innkeeping: Building online community”. I hope by reading my last three blog posts, readers have been able to see change for their eyes themselves and understand the importance of social media as a different platform than the rest.

You HAVE The Power

The audience for this blog post is social media users as well as students in this course. The goal of this post is to inform readers about the platforms that social media has been used to form.

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Social media is a powerful tool for anyone and everyone to use. In my last blog, I discussed the importance of DACA and how social media has impacted DREAMERS as well as how they communicate and educate one another (as well as others) about DACA. Social media can be used to not only CREATE a movement but to also FURTHER a cause. For example, the #MeToo movement started with one woman, Tarana Burke. “Ms. Burke created Just Be Inc., a nonprofit organization that helps victims of sexual harassment and assault. She sought out the resources that she had not found readily available to her 10 years before and committed herself to being there for people who had been abused. And she gave her movement a name: Me Too” (1). And the rest is history. Although it did take Tarana’s Me Too movement to gain a lot of speed, it has helped millions of women not only share their stories comfortably but, unfortunately, find common ground with others as well. Black Lives Matter has also used countless hashtags to get their point across whether it be simply, #BlackLivesMatter or #HandsUpDontShoot or even just tweeting out the names of innocent people of color being killed in horrific ways by our police force to make sure that their names are remembered. The most recent hashtag that is being used is #NeverAgain and #EnoughIsEnough which started after the Parkland shooting to call for gun control. These are just a few social movements that I personally can think of that have made impacts maybe not the way that they intended but raised awareness and educated some people as well which is what Castells mentioned in his Networks of Outrage Prelude to Revolution. “Mobile phones and social networks on the Internet played a major role in spreading images and messages that mobilized people in providing a platform for debate, in calling for action, in coordinating and organizing the protests, and in relaying information and debate to the population at large” (p. 46).

Overall, if it’s important to you, speak out, or at least just listen and acknowledge others’ strides to speak out and make a change. It never hurts to listen.

[1] Me Too

#Enough… Calling Students “Dumb”

Audience: Parents and others who support the 2018 Walk Out to remember Parkland school shooting and call for action relating to gun control.

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Thousands of students walked out of their classrooms on Wednesday morning. At 10:00 until 10:17,  they rallied in silent protest and in remembrance of the 17 victims of the Parkland school shooting one month prior. Some students held inspiring signs, other students banded together to form peace signs or phrases like the trending hashtag #enough. There were beautiful blogs and news articles highlighting the walkout…others were strongly against the walkout.

Why is it so hard to pass by with a simple click of the like button and NOT read the comments? It never fails to drag me in. How many times on Wednesday did I stop and put my two cents in when someone says “This is so dumb. Why don’t they do something productive that can actually bring change?” ARG! I feel an overwhelming sense of, I don’t know, rage? And just like that my fingers are on that keyboard like wildfire, feeling like maybe I can just change one person’s mind…unlikely I know, but I just can’t help myself!

These protests are not dumb. These students are working to bring about change. People who don’t believe one person can make a change, let alone a whole generation of students, made me think of the Tunisia Revolution of 2011. In Castells Prelude to Revolution, he tells how one person can indeed make a difference. In Tunisia a man ignited the spark of a revolution by literally setting himself on fire. A little more dramatic than we hopefully need here in the good ole USA.

Support our kids who want to feel safe in their schools. They can’t vote (yet!) so they are asking, begging for our help. Stand with this generation. They are powerful. They will not back down. I won’t either. So go ahead– unfriend me, unfollow me, block me. I’ll keep my thumbs on the ready to defend and encourage the students and other fed up citizens who are fighting for change.

Should Charity Work Be Public?

How do you feel about charity work or giving back being public? Should it be done anonymously? Is it okay to say you’ve made a huge donation? Do you think it’s capitalizing on a situation? Does it matter?

This is all relative, everyone has an opinion, but it doesn’t matter too me. Intentions, are important to the issue, no doubt. Although, charity work as long as it helps, it should not matter too much. As long as it helps and there is no ill intent. There have been people in the public eye that have given back, but with diffrent responses.

This past fall, Tim Duncan asked for support and donations for hurricane relief in the Virgin Islands. He donated 250,000 dollars to the cause. He ended up raising over 2 million dollars for the efforts. He leveraged his donation for good. He used it as a way to get more people to donate. He is also from the Virgin Islands. In this case, it comes off as sincere, it was public, but was for the better of the situation.

 

In this case, Logan Paul pledged to donate 1 million dollars toward suicide prevent.  The narrative on this is much diffrent. He made the donation and video after his own controversy. He uploaded a video on Youtube with a man that committed suicided, laughed, and uncomfortably joked about the incident. He only took the video down after being heavily criticized. This situation is blatantly a public relations move. His apology for the incident was made about him and not the issue at hand. From the energy and method he used it does not seem genuine.

Overall, whether charity work is public or not, doesn’t necessarily matter. It is how it is done and the intent. These two instances have similar actions, but evidently diffrent priorities. Publicizing charity work can carry a message further and impact people positively, or used as a self promoting tool, maybe both. What’s most important is the help that is given, but intent does matter. What type of person are you?

Take the Poo to the Loo, yo.

WATCH THIS VIDEO.

Mr. Poo is an excellent subject for my introductory blog post (that’s right, Lady Procrastinator over here, hello). What a wonderful example of using media and potty humor to spread the message of a serious social issue. This might not be the most tailored blog post, but I’ll be damned if anyone beats me to posting about this. It’s just too good.

Mr. Poo. the face of Unicef’s recent health campaign in India, aims to decrease the number of people defecating in public (which is estimated to be half the population, which is a lot of public poo). It’s a big task to take on, but I think Mr. Poo can handle it.

The humor in the video is interesting because it mixes more juvenile/cartoon graphics with a funny, catchy tune that just happens to drop verbal shit bombs many times over (pun intended). Am I that square that I didn’t think an organization like Unicef would use (what is commonly referred to as) a profanity in a campaign? Does the word shit have a different place in India as far as social acceptance goes? Or is Mr. Poo and his Bollywood-dancing poo fools just that bad ass?

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There is a definite entertainment factor to Mr. Poo and his jingle, but is the video effective? Do you think it will inspire change, like the radio show Taru did in Abirpur?

Let’s discuss below, cool? Cool.