The end of the world? No... just the next day.
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Published on February 17, 2008 By Lotherius In Democrat
(Yes this is correctly categorized as Politics... trust me, read on)

Blasted English Degree.

I can no longer enjoy just reading a news article anymore. Now I always notice when clueless authors use adjectives instead of adverbs. Such as this line:

"facts and figures now come cheaper and faster than ever before"

What is being modified by the adjectives Cheaper & Faster?

The facts and figures? If so, it should be worded:
"facts and figures are now cheaper and faster than ever before"

But... then I analyze the sentence further, and I realize why people just use adjectives. Adverbs are a pain in the butt sometimes.

In the original sentence, the word being modified is "comes".. How do the facts come? Cheaply and quickly. Thus, you would be tempted just to substitute those words.. but then you have following: "facts and figures now come cheaply and quickly ... than ever before?" It makes sense until you add in the comparison. You could say "more cheaply and quickly than ever before" ... but now you're applying an adjective to your adverb. Not to mention that "quick" doesn't have quite the same nuance as "fast". But we don't have "fastly" as a word in English. Will the annoyances never end!

So.... the correct fix would be to stick with the adverb, and change the sentence to say "are now cheaper and faster". But But now you're in the passive voice!!!

So it is better just to make a grammatical error for the sake of simplicity. This is what millions of brains do every day when parsing language - they choose the most expedient route to communication. Such as my use of the third-person plural "they" which is not actually a third-person plural. But English doesn't provide a third-person plural. DAMN! Now I started a sentence with "But"! Didn't Winston Churchill say this was nonsense up with which he would not put?

See.... utterly useless waste of my time thinking about all this. That's what my English Degree has earned me. Really all that matters is effective communication, all these rules are arbitrary and artificial.

When you think about it, that's the way all of life breaks down. We have all these rituals we do, rules we have, ways society runs, but they're all just convention. We have a belief that things HAVE to be done a certain way, because that's the way we're told they should be done.

In reality, the received rituals of society are nothing more than Arbitrary and Artificial. They cannot be followed to the letter, or society wouldn't work.

For example, the political ideologies Capitalism and Communism. These systems lay out how society is supposed to work and a means by which we can make use of their view of society to build a "better future", whatever that is. When applied to the letter, however, these systems break down.

In a communist society, the letter of the system doesn't leave room for the kind of drive to innovate that Capitalism produces. In this sense, a society based on Communist principles MUST accept compromise of their principles to allow innovation to exist. The Soviet Union may never have realised this, but China is. China is a hotbed of innovation currently due to relaxed government restrictions on business. A businessman who is making money in China can get away with almost anything. Runaway Communism has been compromised to allow for Chinese society to grow more effectively.

However, a lot of people believe that Capitalism itself is a panacea, and would apply the letter of Capitalist principles down to every detail. But look at China - lack of government regulation of industry is turning it to a country where it is not even safe to eat the food. The environment is toxic. Not only has most of the natural life in rivers and streams died, but commercially grown fish suffer because clean water is not available to the fish farms. Crops suffer due to massive air and groundwater pollution. Produce grown in China for sale to the west frequently has to be be BAGGED as soon as the blooms are pollinated. Apple growers frequently wrap every single apple with paper bags to prevent air pollution contamination. But only the products sold in the west receive this treatment as it is more expensive than not doing it at all. And that's where pure Capitalism fails - when profit is the ONLY motive, unscrupulous businessmen CAN AND WILL cut every corner in order to maximize their own profit. Honest businessmen who are interested in offering a quality and SAFE product are usually priced out of the market. Working conditions become depressed so badly that it is actually profitable to have someone climb every tree and HAND BAG individual fruits. You know these workers aren't receiving a living wage. They will never be able to afford to "invest" and move up in society on that wage.

Capitalism too must be compromised. In theory the principle is great. It allows for a bottom-up growth of great ideas. For the system to work effectively, however, it has to be held in check such that the innovative can reap appreciable rewards for their efforts without being detrimental to society at large.

This tempering of capitalism has been accepted in most of the western world, but not very well in the United States. Minimum wage laws, public healthcare, workplace regulations, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, these are all attempts to do this. All of these are things that the ultra-conservatives hate with a passion. Remove these kinds of protections, however, and you will live in the kind of society that exists in China, where it is unsafe to drink water or eat food that's not imported, where Olympic Athletes will have to have medical staff on hand for respiratory problems due to the horrible air in Beijing, and taking a dip in the local river is a medical emergency (I am not kidding). The ONLY difference is that you will have voted for such a society. Does that make you feel better?

Instead of scrapping public services, maybe the ultra-conservatives should reassess their thinking. Don't scrap the programs - make them more efficient. You think health-care costs are too high? Maybe you should look at the hospitals that charge $95 for items that are available in identical forms at the local CVS for $2.99. You think education costs too much? Maybe you should consider tax credits for individuals who volunteer their time as tutors for low-performing public schools. You think your wage costs are too high? Maybe you should quit bitching about illegal immigrants (who you say drive down wage costs), and allow them to become legal. Allowing them to be legal also allows them to earn minimum wage. It won't lower your wage costs, but it will allow you to be competitive with the guy down the street who currently is paying his lawnworkers $3/hour. You think you shouldn't pay taxes at all? Quit your job. See what life at the bottom is really like - it's not what you think. There are few "free handouts", and those that do exist are insanely difficult to get. You'll welcome the opportunity to be a taxpayer again very quickly.

This kind of thinking in today's America makes me a "liberal". In Europe I'd be a conservative. They're just arbitrary and artificial conventions that we have agreed upon. What we should really be focused on is getting ourselves and our communities through this life with the least amount of trouble.

on Feb 17, 2008

Capitalism has to be paired with democracy to be humane. Otherwise, we end up like the Ferengi.

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