Tag: op-ed

Self-driving cars are a threat to the American way of life

President Obama recently pinned an op-ed for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette praising self-driving cars as “an emerging reality with the potential to transform the way we live”.

Personally, I believe that self-driving cars are a grave threat to the American way of life.

Thousands of Americans are employed as taxi drivers, pizza deliverers, and in other similar professions. If self-driving cars were to become the norm, you can kiss thousands of American jobs, many of which are among the few American jobs nowadays that do not require a college degree, goodbye. Their jobs would be effectively replaced by computers manufactured in China or other foreign countries.

Also, who would want to watch a NASCAR race in which actual race car drivers are replaced by computer-driven cars? NASCAR would no longer be an actual sport if computers replaced drivers; instead, it would become effectively as scripted as WWE, but without the soap opera-esque storylines to keep the audience engaged. There’s a lot more entertainment watching real race car drivers compete against each other than computers competing against each other.

Another instance where self-driving vehicles are a threat to the American way of life is the all-American family farm. If tractors, combines, and other motorized farm implements are replaced with computer-driven machines, then it would be a lot easier for large agribusiness corporations like Bayer (which recently acquired Monsanto) to sweep in and take over family farms across the country.

While Obama has cited elderly people and disabled people (although I’m not elderly (I’m 26 years of age), I have Asperger’s syndrome, and I don’t drive) as two groups of people that might benefit from self-driving cars, the sobering reality is that there’s a lot more people who would be negatively impacted than those who would be positively impacted by self-driving vehicles. In fact, many of those who could benefit from self-driving cars don’t have cell phones that would be needed for them to get a ride in a self-driving car, either for cost reasons (most elderly and disabled people are very poor), or the nature of their disability makes it virtually impossible for them to operate a cell phone.

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WISCONSIN STATE REP. MELISSA SARGENT: “We must work to end the rape culture”

REPUBLISHER’S NOTE: Below the horizontal line is an op-ed, originally published by the Madison, Wisconsin-based newspaper The Cap Times, that was written by Wisconsin State Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison). The op-ed has been republished to this blog, as it appeared on The Cap Times’s website, with permission from Representative Sargent.


A young woman woke up not sure where she was.

She was covered in pine needles, her hands and elbows bloody. As she laid on a hospital gurney trying to put the pieces together, doctors performed one invasive procedure after another to determine what had happened. She was told — hours later, after she was finally allowed to shower — that she had been sexually assaulted and was found unconscious behind a dumpster.

By now, many of you have heard about this brutal rape on the Stanford campus. The power of social media allowed millions of us to read the chilling testimony that the victim read aloud to her assailant in court. And like me, I’m sure you were horrified by the light sentence — at most, six months in the county jail and three years’ probation — that the judge gave to the Stanford student. Not even a slap on the wrist.

This case is the definition of our society’s rape culture.

This made me think back to a few weeks ago when I was visiting a middle school in my district. I was talking to a young woman about her college plans. This seventh-grader said she has just read UW-Madison’s campus climate survey, which showed that one in four women will experience sexual violence during their time on the Madison campus. She told me that she felt she had to choose between her safety and her ability to pursue higher education.

This is wholly unacceptable.

As women, we are taught almost from birth that we have to be careful, and take extra precautions for our safety. There is a strict set of unwritten rules for women: Don’t walk alone, don’t drink too much, don’t wear that skirt. We live in a culture that views rape and sexual assault as inevitable, as something that “just happens” to (a certain kind) of woman, as something that can be prevented if we as women just follow that laundry list of unwritten rules — and always as something that is the victim’s responsibility to stop.

These attitudes are all part of rape culture. We live in a world where everyone from the media, to teachers, to school administrators, to many elected officials contribute to and normalize sexual violence against women. The media debate whether a rapist’s sentence will ruin his life — rather than talking about the lifelong impacts for the victim.

Sexual assault isn’t something that happens somewhere else, to someone else. It’s happening right here — to us, our sisters, our friends, our daughters. And it’s happened to me.

Every parent should know that this is what our children are being taught. Our daughters grow up hearing that if a boy hurts her, it’s love. Our sons grow up hearing that “boys will be boys” is an excuse for their actions.

Every parent should be acutely aware that this is the world their children are growing up in. While Brock Turner’s six-month sentence seems like such a far cry from justice, in actuality he is receiving more punishment than 97 percent of rapists, who face no jail time at all.

We must teach our children to do better to stop this community of inaction. We must stop victim-blaming altogether. And we must say that rape is rape — no excuses, no justifications.

 

When it comes to fighting against Wisconsin Republicans’ push to dismantle good government, Dianne Hesselbein leads

Wisconsin Republicans are spending virtually all of their time trying to dismantle what little remains of Wisconsin’s once-proud tradition of good government and enact a ton of blatantly partisan legislation. One of those blatantly partisan pieces of legislation is legislation that would dismantle Wisconsin’s civil service system and allow Republicans like Governor Scott Walker to install political cronies in every kind of Wisconsin state government job that you can think of. In a recent op-ed in the Madison, Wisconsin-based newspaper The Cap Times, State Rep. Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton), described the Republican plan for dismantling Wisconsin’s civil service system:

The new Republican law will introduce an element of fear in the workplace. New employees will face a full year of probation instead of the current 60 days. (It was to be two years, but the bill’s authors started to feel a chill and backed off.) During probation, new hires will be in a free-fire zone and can be fired at will. If there are layoffs, seniority will not count. Raises will become individual bonuses awarded to the favored few.

Hiring and firing will be controlled by the governor’s political arm — the Department of Administration — not the home agency. Employees will no longer have the assurance that, so long as they show up and do their job well, their job will be secure. Now, for the first time since the Progressives created it in 1905, they will have to worry about political factors.

There’s plenty of other odious pieces of legislation that Republicans want to enact in Wisconsin when it comes to dismantling good government. These include replacing Wisconsin’s non-partisan government watchdog with two separate partisan state commissions, as well as rewriting Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws to allow more money to flow into the political system and allow campaign donors to not disclose who employs them.

I’m glad that someone like Dianne Hesselbein is strongly opposing the Republicans’ efforts to make Wisconsin more like Illinois, a state rife with political corruption and cronyism.

Chicago Tribune columnist Kristen McQueary wants a Hurricane Katrina-style event to rid Chicago of black people

Kristen McQueary, a far-right columnist for the Chicago Tribune, recently wrote a column calling for Chicago to be hit with a natural disaster on the level of Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed New Orleans, Louisiana and the surrounding area 10 years ago this month, in order to wipe out what she considers to be Chicago’s problems.

While McQueary, to my knowledge (I haven’t been able to read her column due to the Tribune’s website not working properly), didn’t explicitly call for cleansing of black people in Chicago, it’s evident from her mentality that she thinks that ethnic minorities, especially black people, are what she considers to be Chicago’s problems. In fact, when Katrina devastated New Orleans, it caused New Orleans’s black population to decline, caused New Orleans’s white population to increase in percentage, and made the black people who remained in New Orleans far worse off than they were prior to Katrina. These changes made New Orleans, as a whole, smaller, wealthier, and whiter, however, the people of New Orleans didn’t individually become wealthier because of Katrina, and many people in New Orleans live without running water and electricity nearly ten years after the storm passed. Natural disasters are something I’d never wish on anyone or any place.

McQueary has received a ton of criticism on Twitter over her column, and she deserves every bit of it. Her column is a textbook example of coded white supremacism. In fact, McQueary’s column is leaving me wishing that there was a Joe McCarthy-like figure on the left who’s willing to expose white supremacists in the far-right corporate media in this country.

Minneapolis (MN) police officer Christopher Guelcher apparently thinks that people who litter or urinate in public should be shot to death

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune published one of the most vile op-eds I’ve ever seen in my entire life. The op-ed was written by Christopher Guelcher, a police officer with the Minneapolis, Minnesota police department.

In his op-ed, which he wrote in response to recent police killings in numerous cities across the country, Guelcher strongly implied that he thinks that people who have committed even minor crimes, such as public urination and littering, should be shot to death by police and that police officers should shoot anybody who they see is committing a crime:

Could this be the future of today’s demands for reform and change? Would people be happy and fully support the federal, state or even local governments if they passed laws restricting the police from proactively enforcing low-level misdemeanor crimes committed in an officer’s presence, such as littering or public urination, because the crime does not warrant the possibility of police use of force and possibly death?

People like Christopher Guelcher are the reason why real reform of the police and criminal justice systems in this country are badly needed. Far too many police officers think that their badge gives them a right to hunt and kill people, especially black people, even for minor offenses like pissing in public and throwing trash on the ground in a public place, when, in reality, their badge doesn’t give them that right.

I found Guelcher’s remarks to be downright vile, and he owes the people of Minneapolis an apology and a resignation from the police force.

Here’s my audio blog about Guelcher’s op-ed. Please note that my attempt at speaking in a Minnesota accent sucked badly.