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A Plastic Culture.

by Dear Jon
September 23, 2003

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Sort 235_Dear Jon-A Plastic Culture ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

What field do you recommend for young graduates like me to go into these days? Plastics?


Dear Dusti,

Actually, most fields are moving away from plastic. Plastic was all the rage back in the 1960’s and 70’s with what was called “artificial turf.” This was a carpet spread over concrete on which football and baseball teams were supposed to play. This led to many new kinds of sports-related injuries, such as “turf toe.” By the 1980’s the phrase “artificial turf” became a new cuss-word, and the domes of the 1970’s became the bubble-topped eye-sores of major cities throughout the continent. Now, new kinds of artificial grass with more natural spring and traction are replacing those old rugs. Hopefully the era of plastic fields is over.

In any case, very few can actually make money as athletes. The endeavor is highly competitive and the careers are often short. You should consider a more stable, long-term career.

In the United States, you should distance yourself from any career in Research and Development. This is usually the first funding to be cut in any for-profit enterprise. Meanwhile, Not-for-profits have not had the funding for serious R&D ventures in about twenty years.

After all, why should we think about the future when there is money to be made immediately? And why should we give to charitable Not-for-profits when there are toys to buy immediately? That’s the American spirit!

Has anyone besides me wondered why there have been practically NO advances in propulsion technologies since the 1970’s? Consider the grounding of the Concorde and the issue of refurbishing the “aging Space Shuttle fleet.” Arthur C. Clarke gave this generation, the one to which I belong and which was unborn when he wrote, WAAAY too much credit. Americans have gotten away from that whole new horizons frontier adventure know-how thing, unless you count “extreme sports” which involves taking a dirt bike down a ski jump.

Now it’s just The Stupid Economy that matters. No, that’s wrong. I misquoted James Carville. "It’s The Economy Stupid" that matters. Let us begin by defining This Economy Stupid. Jane Bryant Quinn, on page 63 of the September 15, 2003 issue of NEWSWEEK, concludes her article on home-buying by stating: “Good public schools are now for the moneyed class.”

Let us understand what Quinn is saying. First of all, Quinn is not some bleeding-heart pinko with an agenda of making people feel guilty for wanting to raise their children in safe, functional environments. Quinn is giving people ADVICE on HOW to get that house in the good neighborhood. Second, public schools were supposed to serve the public. But no, only the well-to-do can have any guarantee that their children will receive up-to-date materials in environments conducive to learning—this, not in private schools, but on the public dole. This is because school funding is apportioned out of property-taxes, but the money which is raised is earmarked for that school district in which it is raised. Rich people living together in a neighborhood pay higher property taxes and thus have more money for quality schools. Poor people are abandoned to their neighborhoods and thus cannot generate the revenues that would give their children the materials and opportunities that would move them ahead.

This is called Being Absolutely Fair. After all, why should MY taxes pay for YOUR child's schooling? Being Absolutely Fair, of course, comes at the Total Expense of Justice. Do I imply that fairness and justice are NOT the same? You bet your sweet potatoes: this is exactly what I am saying.

So, apparently you need to do everything you can to get what is yours and to heck with the Old Neighborhood or Downtown. It’s the Economy Stupid because, if you are poor in America, your children ain’t worth the clothes they wear. So we could question ourselves and how we have gotten to this point and begin to contemplate systemic change, such as, making the school district state-wide and reapportioning funding, or, we could continue to perpetuate these values, with our souls like lemmings dropping over a cliff into an endless abyss of self-absorption.

The United States is suffering from an epidemic of cancer of the soul caused by the pollutants of crass materialism. Am I overstating this? Read, please: Look this up yourself. Jane Bryant Quinn states, a little earlier in her article on page 63, that in that house in the neighborhood with the good school, “Your kids will need costlier toys to keep up with their friends.”

This is NEWSWEEK. This is not some bleeding-heart pinko making a movie that baits Charleton Heston or a major discount chain. This is not satire. This is an economics writer in a mainline news magazine. It is now a valid assumption in our culture that your kids have to keep up with the toys and fashions of other kids. It is now a valid assumption in our culture that good tax-rolled schools are the privilege of the wealthy. And some of you are reading me and saying, “What is Dear Jon's problem? Everyone knows that Quinn is right. Deal with it.”

So, Dear Jon’s Advice on what to do to get ahead and get that house and churn your children through the same Designer Meat-grinder of soul-destroying consumerism. Here is my advice: Get a job that pays lots of money. Then you'll get what's yours. It’s only fair.

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