The Right To Ignorance

The Right To Ignorance

Americans are getting dumber, and how much so may shock you.
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How is it that America, the greatest country on Earth, at least in my opinion, can also have what have to be some of the dumbest people on Earth? It’s not as if we don’t have the potential to be smart, we just choose to be dumber. We let our news networks tell us what to think, we blatantly ignore facts because we don’t like them, and worst of all, we refuse to retain some of the most basic information that we should have learned in Elementary school. If we don’t begin to educate ourselves, we are doomed as a country.

We like to believe that we all will never forget what will probably always be the worst terror attack in American History, yet according to a 2006 poll by the Washington Post, a good number of Americans did (Lang 2013). 30% of Americans did not know what year 9/11 took place on (Lang 2013). If you are someone who would have fallen in this category, it was 2001, meaning that only five years later, three out of ten Americans had already forgotten what year a terror attack that killed thousands occurred (Lang 2013).

Another statistic that should concern you is that 25% of Americans do not know what country we gained our independence from (Lang 2013). Some of the people who don’t know even believe that we gained our independence from France, the country that allowed our Revolution to be successful (Lang 2013). Even if you were going to take a wild guess when asked this question, why wouldn’t you guess England, considering that English is the language that is predominantly spoken here in America. Then again, if you actually have to think about that question, that kind of rational thinking is probably a bit too much for you.

The last statistic I’ll give, and believe me there are plenty more like these, is that half of Americans are not aware that Judaism came before Christianity (Lang 2013). You’d think it would be pretty well known considering that the majority of Americans are Christian, that the Jews persecuted Jesus in the Bible for being a heretic in their eyes and saying that he was the son of God or the fact that the story of the Jewish people all takes place in the Old Testament would help us figure out this one (Lang 2013).

We need to get our heads out of the sand, we are getting dumber as a country. I realize that some of these statistics show that the majority of people in our country do know the correct answers, but considering how basic these questions are, we should have almost no one getting these wrong. And it can only get worse from here. If we don’t do something, pretty soon sarcastically calling someone “Einstein” in this country will require an explanation of who Einstein is, as well as what sarcasm is. And if you still don’t think the statistics listed are that concerning, feel free to look at some of the other ones in the source I listed.

References

Lang, N. (2013, October 7). 14 Surprising Things Americans Don’t Know, According to Poll Numbers. Thought Catalog. Retrieved from http://thoughtcatalog.com/nico-lang/2013/10/14-surprising-things-americans-dont-know-according-to-poll-numbers/

Cover Image Credit: Raven Magwood

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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To Fix Taxes, We Have To Rethink 'Wealthy'

"Wealthy" doesn't mean the same for everyone.

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When discussing taxes today, so many politicians are quick to rush to the adage "tax the rich." Bernie Sanders has called for the rich to be taxed higher to pay for Medicare for All. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has called for a 70% tax on the wealthy.

However, all of these proposals are missing a key thing: a true definition of rich.

When thinking about what counts as rich, it is important to distinguish between the "working wealthy" and the "investment wealthy."

The working wealthy are the people in society that get paid highly because they have a high skill set and provide an extremely valuable service that they deserve just compensation for. This class is made up of professionals like lawyers, doctors, and CEOs. In addition, the working wealthy are characterized by another crucial aspect: over a long term calculation of their earned income over time, they don't come out as prosperous as their annual incomes would seem to suggest. This is because this set of the wealthy has to plunge into student debt for degrees that take years to acquire. These jobs generally also require a huge amount of time invested in lower-paying positions, apprenticeships, and internships before the big-money starts coming in.

On the other hand, the investment wealthy is completely different. These are the people that merely sit back and manipulate money without truly contributing to anything in society. A vast majority of this class is born into money and they use investments into stocks and bonds as well as tax loopholes to generate their money without actually contributing much to society as a whole.

What makes the investment wealthy so different from the working wealthy is their ability to use manipulative techniques to avoid paying taxes. While the working wealthy are rich, they do not have AS many resources or connections to manipulate tax laws the way that the investment wealthy can. The investment wealthy has access to overseas banking accounts to wash money though. The investment wealthy can afford lawyers to comb over tax laws and find loopholes for ridiculous prices. This is tax evasion that the working wealthy simply does not have access to.

That is why it is so incredibly important to make sure that we distinguish between the two when discussing tax policy. When we use blanket statements like "tax the rich," we forget the real reasons that the investment wealthy are able to pay such low taxes now. Imposing a larger marginal tax rate will only give them more incentive to move around taxes while squeezing the working wealthy even more.

Because of this, in our taxation discourse, we need to focus first on making sure people pay their taxes, to begin with. Things like a tax of Wall Street speculation, capital gains taxes, a closing of loopholes, and a simplification of the tax code. These things will have a marked improvement in making sure that the investment wealthy actually pays the taxes we already expect of them now. If we stick to the same message, the only thing we will be changing is the rate that the uber-wealthy are avoiding.

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