In some countries people are punished for exercising the free expression of ideas, but over here in America we’ve always prided ourselves on the fact that we are able to say whatever we want. It is sickening, but people with very extreme ideas can in fact get their message out without going to jail. What happened a few days ago, however, makes me wonder if there’s any hope for us to progress as a nation. On el cinco de mayo, a group of students at Live Oak High School, in Morgan Hill, California were celebrating the day by wearing shirts with Mexican flags. Good for them! What a fine expression of free speech. Some other students decided to wear their own shirts that had American flags on them, once again an excellent display of patriotism (this is America, you know) and of their right to free speech. The school was concerned when it saw these two opposing groups, and made the American flag-wearing students an offer they couldn’t refuse: turn the shirts inside out, or go home with an unexcused absence. Well, the brave young students refused, and were sent home.
As they were leaving campus, I wouldn’t have been surprised if the students had looked out the back window to make sure that there was an American flag on the school’s flagpole. What is this madness? American citizens not being able to wear the American flag? What happened to our first amendment rights? I worry about our country if it’s gotten to the point where simply showing patriotism for our homeland is a punishable offence.
In my English class, we’re studying 1984 and they’re making some interesting tie-ins to how the telescreens and the Ministry of Truth (ahem… minitrue) are characteristic of the advertising that big corporations are throwing our way night and day, and the massive amounts of data that corporations have on each and every one of us. If any of you are surprised that stuff that you post on the Internet is publically available for the entire world to archive and use, you should lose your internet privileges. Seriously, what do you expect? All those social networking profiles and online surveys you’ve filled out aren’t asking so much about you for nothing. Corporations want to make a profit, and will target those who are most likely to buy said product. If I’m selling stuffed animals, I don’t want to send advertisements to those with zoophobia! You know what’ll happen if I do send them ads, though? I won’t manipulate their mind through some unorthodox back-alley method, instead they’ll probably just say “no” and refuse to buy the product I am trying to purvey.
When corporations are involved, you never need to buy from them. Heck, you can even live without electricity, gas, water, or shelter. Living in America doesn’t guarantee you success, it guarantees you the opportunity of success. There is no ceiling on how successful you can be, but there’s no floor either. Tread carefully, friends.
When the government is involved, however, things can get dicey. While all the corporations can do is whine if you don’t buy from them, the government controls the army, the navy, the air force, and all the other institutions that can cause trouble for you if you don’t do what they say, so when the government sells you something (or more specifically, when the government requires you to own something), you’re much more likely to buy it whether you think you need it or not.
How much does the government already control in our day-to-day lives? They have significant influence over a car manufacturer and many banks, and are looking to provide power and even internet access for us in the future. If they provide it, they can control it even more so than they do today. The government is a money losing operation at present, with ridiculous national debt and a seeming passion to waste as much money as possible as quickly as possible. If the government was a corporation itself, it would never survive, but more and more the government is trying to provide services that corporations currently supply. I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust Washington enough to spend taxpayer money to efficiently pay for all these “free” services. Just take a look at what’s happening in Greece. Their socialist government makes promises it can’t keep, and then when it can’t keep them the people are all upset. With nearly $12 trillion debt, the United States is in no position to spend any more money, and other countries are noticing. If the US government’s credit rating goes down, there is a chance that we will be utterly screwed. The government should stick to keeping us safe.