The First 70 is a short film that showcases an inspiring journey through California to visit the 70 majestic state parks slated to close in July 2012. Three young filmmakers set out last May on a 3,000 mile trip around California after the state announced plans to close one quarter of their 279 parks. The closure list includes thousands of acres of parkland, recreation areas, wildlife reserves, and 50% of the state’s historic parks. The documentary beautifully portrays the individuals who have put their heart and soul into maintaining and caring for these remarkable resources.
This makes me wanna cry, peeps.
Of each dollar the federal government spends, how much goes to defense? How much goes to Social Security? How much goes to interest on the debt? And how has this sort of thing changed over time?
This graphic answers these questions. It shows the major components of federal spending 50 years ago, 25 years ago, and last year.
Read more here.
For the current school year, the average sticker price for tuition and fees at a private, nonprofit college is $28,500, according to a report from the College Board.
The average price students actually pay is less than half that — $12,970. That’s almost identical to the $12,650 that students paid, on average, in the 2001-2002 school year. (These are inflation-adjusted dollars.)
Mark Educates #2: Homelessness
[Image description: A screenshot from FB. Someone posts: “I believe that if you have half the brain in your head you should be able to make money. So I don’t really feel sorry for that “homeless” dude standing on the side of the freeway asking for money. Come on people- this is America. People flock here from different countries to find work and a better life. There should be no excuse for someone to bum it-None whatsoever.” I reply with: Mental illness, the lack of support for veterans after soldiers return from wars that rich white men create and profit from, the recent wave of vicious foreclosures, the constant erosion of work opportunities by a corporate environment that seeks to increase its bottom line through outsourcing, the ever-increasing decline in any sort of public assistance, the lack of affordable housing, lack of affordable health care, mental illness, domestic violence, sexual abuse, violent transphobia, homophobia, a culture and system of racism, addiction disorders and the public stigma that follows them, and the unbelievably complicated set of circumstances that might lead a person to have to choose between eating food, having a roof over their head, and meeting their basic needs as a human being. Oh, sorry, what’s that? You weren’t using half the brain in your head to figure this shit out? There really should be no excuse for that. None whatsoever. PS: I was homeless once in my life because I ran away from home to escape abuse. So I don’t tolerate this bullshit from anyone.]
Yes, I said mental illness twice.
Here’s an easy one: Don’t ever do this.
Fucking distribution of wealth.
This is a topic that will always plague me.
On a large scale, I’m aware that American corporations lobby our congress for tax breaks, subsidies, and bailouts. I’m aware that wealthy Americans––people who have enough money to wipe their asses with a new Vogue subscription every day––pay a smaller percentage of taxes than Americans in poverty. I’m aware that the average American CEO makes hundreds more than their employees. I’m aware that profit margins are at an all-time high, and rather than being recycled back into a system that would send wealth “trickling down,” this money is put right back into the pockets of the wealthy.
And it doesn’t stop there.
I’m practically wired to nit pick the shit out of a budget.
At my school, all student organizations get their budget from our student congress by submitting yearly budget requests. If an org doesn’t use all of their budget from the year before, they very rarely receive an equivalent or larger budget for future years. This policy reinforces (what I think is) a negative view of spending. It doesn’t teach us to be frugal, but to spend for the sake of spending.
Why is this bad? Because of reasons!
Now, there are organizations that request thousands of dollars for great… and not-so great reasons. I get it. Orgs need money so they can put on events, take trips, and even eat out once in a while.
And I understand that it’s nice to treat ourselves once in a while. But how can anybody justify buying dinner once a week for their organization using money that came from students? And this food isn’t cheap, either. Folks frequently order from expensive restaurants and pay to have it delivered to campus. This money could be used to send, oh I don’t know, students on life-changing, service-learning trips that they wouldn’t be able to otherwise afford.
Instead, we have organizations paying for people to eat free every week and students who are immobilized because there’s no money left over to send them on a trip that would change their life.
I don’t think it’s too much to ask folks to give up a weekly dinner in order for there to be some redistribution of University funds. Rather, I think that it is the next step. This needs to happen.
Money is important, but it isn’t everything. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development created the Your Better Life Index to compare the quality of life as well as economic prowess of its 34 member countries. The index measures each country using 11 different lines, including income, employment, health, education, environmental quality, and its citizens’ opinions about life satisfaction, work-life balance, and a sense of community. Because people have different priorities, the OECD index allows them to rank countries according to their own values. The United States remains at the top for income and wealth, but it lags behind as a place to live a long and happy life.
Their bills have had mixed success and usually die before being brought to a vote, but SOPA and PIPA came frighteningly close to becoming law. The internet-wide protest this week seems to have stalled their progress and probably killed them for now.
But what will happen when the MPAA buys the next SOPA? We can’t protest every similar bill with the same force. Eventually, our audiences will tire of calling their senators for whatever we’re asking them to protest this time.
Eventually, we will lose.
Such ridiculous, destructive bills should never even pass committee review, but we’re not addressing the real problem: the MPAA’s buying power in Congress. This is a campaign finance problem.
The MPAA studios hate us. They hate us with region locks and unskippable screens and encryption and criminalization of fair use. They see us as stupid eyeballs with wallets, and they are entitled to a constant stream of our money. They despise us, and they certainly don’t respect us.
Yet when we watch their movies, we support them.
The 400 wealthiest families in the U.S. aren’t just filthy rich, they are downright dirty. Collectively, these households own $1.37 trillion dollars; a number so high that it’s nearly impossible to comprehend. Here are 11 shocking things $1.37 trillion can buy that you can’t.
- The richest 400 households can pay off every student loan for every single student in the entire United States. No more paying for an education, so that you can get a good job so that you can… well, pay off your education.
- The richest 400 could pay your rent, and the rent of every single renter in the entire United States for three years.
- The richest 400 could pay the mortgages of every house in the whole country for 14 full months.
- The richest 400 households can buy every single house that was foreclosed on in 2007 and 2008.
- The richest 400 households could pay the annual salaries of 19 million families for one year. So go ahead, take that year-long, family vacation around the world you’ve always dreamed of.
- The richest 400 can pay off all credit card debt for every single person in the entire United States. Imagine that! No more credit card debt looming over your shoulders!
- The richest 400 households can afford to give a $10,000 bonus to every single worker in the entire country. What would a hardworking person like you do with that extra money?
- The richest 400 can afford to buy a new car for every family in the United States. Meanwhile, many of us must ignore the flashing check engine light.
- The richest 400 can pay for 3 ½ years worth of gas for every driver in the country.
- The richest 400 households can afford to triple the number of teachers in the United States, then give every single one a $30,000 raise. Teachers are being laid off everywhere, their salaries are being cut, and they are suffering. Teacher-to-student ratios in schools are abysmal. But what can we do about it when so much wealth is in the pockets of so few families?
- The richest 400 families alone could replace 70% of all money lost in the Great Recession, for everyone! How much money did you, your parents, or grandparents lose in the Great Recession of 2008? 30%, 50% of your portfolio? Not only do the rich still have enough money to fund their wildest dreams, but they can also fund your retirements.