Sunday, December 18, 2016

What I Want For Christmas

It being the holiday season, I thought I would share my Christmas wish list with anyone who happens to read my blog. If any of you feel inclined to actually give me any of these presents, I would be very happy, indeed.

First on my list is for Donald Trump to prove me wrong and govern this nation with restraint and good sense, serving the good of the American people rather than his own self-aggrandizement. I would like him to seek advice, work by consensus, pursue concrete solutions to real problems rather than make flashy pronouncements that make himself look good. For starters, I would like to see him put all his financial interests in a blind trust and delete his Twitter account. This is the present I put at the top of my list, underlined several times and with stars drawn on each end. Sadly, it is the present I expect least to actually get.

I would like the federal government to balance its budget. It sickens me that Congress borrows such an obscene amount of money every year, largely spent on unnecessary things, knowing full well that our children, grandchildren, and probably several successive generations are going to have to pay the money back on day. In the meantime, the ever increasing amount of interest which has to be paid on the already existing debt is eating away at the hard-earned money of the taxpayers, making it more and more difficult to allocate funds to deserving purposes.

I'd also like to see serious action, rather than simply grand pronouncements, on the issue of climate change. While I am not one of the extreme alarmists who asserts that climate change is going to wipe out human civilization, but there is no doubt that it is going to result in massive upheaval in many parts of the world, which will in turn affect the rest of it. The United States and Europe will not remain immune to it. My two daughters are going to grow up in a world transformed by climate change and it is far past time for our nation's leaders to start taking real steps to address the issue. As an added bonus, I would like more attention given to other critical problems that are too often ignored, like the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria or the terrifying "die off" of the bees who pollinate plants on which we depend.

I would like to see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolved. Ditto the dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. I would love to see North Korea's dictatorship overthrown and the entire Korean peninsula peacefully reunified under the auspices of the Republic of Korea. I would love to see the status of Taiwan settled according to the democratically expressed wishes of the people who live there. I would love to see all nondemocratic regimes in the world, from the Communist Party in China to the tin-pot dictators who rule much of Africa, step down and be replaced with governments that embrace true and genuine democracies. I would love to ISIS destroyed as thoroughly as Carthage was destroyed by Rome and the remnants of Al Qaeda finished off for good. I would love to see the scourge of puritanical Wahhabism cleansed from the Muslim world.

As readers of my blog know well, I consider ninety percent of elected officials in the United States to be either corrupt crooks or incompetent nonentities. If it's not too much trouble, a nice Christmas gift would be a comprehensive package of election reforms that would help level the playing field for good and decent citizens who want to run for office. I'd like to see gerrymandering abolished, term limits implemented for the House of Representatives and all state legislatures, genuine campaign finance reform, and ranked choice voting for elections on all levels.

What else? Oh, I'd like a much more active space program, with more robotic missions to the other worlds in the solar system, more space telescopes and observatories to study the deep cosmos, and a real plan to send a human expedition to Mars. And while you're at it, it would be nice to see sufficient funding being allocated to the National Park System, too. Since, assuming I get the gift mentioned in the paragraph just above, there won't be huge amounts of money flowing to the clients of special interest lobbyists, there should be more than enough dollars to take care of these two items. Reducing the American nuclear arsenal to a level similar to that of France or Britain would be nice, too, along with a legally mandated "no first use" policy by the United States.

I'm a teacher, so it won't surprise you that many of my gifts have to do with education. I think teachers should be paid decent salaries, for one thing. I think that the insane level of paperwork and micromanagement should be reduced, so that teachers might be allowed you actually teach stuff to kids. I would love it if you somehow arrange for Latin to be taught to all American students, for classical history to be a central part of the social studies curriculum, and for civics education to be revitalized as well.

I wish people would pay less attention to silly issues such as whether the President says "Islamic" or "Islamist" when describing certain terrorists, whether confectionery shops should be legally required to prepare cakes for gay weddings, or or whether people who burn the flag should be jailed and stripped of their citizenship (which would be clear violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments, by the way). I wish college students would quit whining of about "safe spaces" and "trigger warnings" and "microaggressions" and instead focus on things like economics, law, science, history, engineering, and so forth. We have very serious problems to address in the America of the early 21st Century and I wish people would use a little common sense in formulating their priorities.

Wait, my list isn't done. I would love to receive the gift of living in a society where politeness is valued. I would love for people to refrain from talking during the movie, to return their shopping carts to the cart return stall rather than leaving them in the parking space, to slow down when someone is trying to change lanes, and to tip waiters and waitresses a decent amount. I wish people would refrain from loudly talking on their cell phones in otherwise quiet coffee shops and, for that matter, in pretty much every other place as well. I'm sure there are a million other examples of rudeness I wish would could exterminate from society, but I only have so much time to type out this list.

Another item on my list is for people to try to live lives of deeper authenticity. I would like for everybody, but especially young people, to put their smart phones down and read a book instead. I would like for people to take food more seriously, cooking meals at home using local and organic ingredients rather than running through the drive-through at McDonald's or ordering the chicken fingers at Chili's. I wish people would spend more time going to see live music and take in plays put on by community theaters. I would like people to get there news from serious newspapers rather than partisan websites or cable news networks. I wish people spent more time with their friends and families and less time indulging in digital entertainment.

Finally, I'd like Chelsea Football Club win the Premier League and the Dallas Cowboys to win the Super Bowl. And I wouldn't mind a winning lotto ticket, either.

That will do for this year. Next year I may want more.

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