History lessons: We need some education and accountability

December, 2016 Posted in Columnists & Opinion, Other

carl-sampsonIf you’re under 60 years old, don’t read this column. You won’t understand it. I remember growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. They were not the “good old days,” as some people describe them, but they were different in many positive ways and some not-so-positive ways.

What our generation – the baby boomers – learned through it all was, one, to be quick on our feet and, two, to question everything. We questioned politicians, because we discovered they were not very good at telling the truth. Even the ones who appeared to be on the right track spent a lot of time chasing women or recklessly steering us toward war or both. The military-industrial complex – Dwight Eisenhower’s term – was the enemy and so was plastic, which we saw as a symbol for the times.

Assassinations, the drive for Civil Rights, the Vietnam War and a general rejection of everything mainstream drove many of us to look for a different way to live. We were sure we could to do better, as individuals and as a society. Fast forward to 2016. Many politicians are still self-absorbed, manipulative liars. And they chase around women, men or whoever.

Wars? We’ve been in Afghanistan 14 years. And Iraq. And it seems like every time some politician opens his mouth he, or she, is looking for a fight.

A question: Haven’t we figured out that war is a last resort, not a first choice? The idea that young men and women continue to be put in harm’s way because politicians can’t do their job seems, well, corrupt, evil and knot-headed.

Many companies in the 1960s were selling us a “lifestyle” of plastic junk we didn’t need. But we wanted it, even if it would go out-of-style the next year.

Nowadays Apple, Samsung and all the electronic gadget makers do that and we think they’re pretty swell. They stick it to us every chance they get, even selling us phones that catch fire. The mark-up on an iPhone is, what, 100 percent? And we’re supposed to look at Apple as some sort of good guy? They’re sticking it to us worse than any 1960s-vintage company ever thought about.

Look at the financials. Last year, Apple had a gross revenues of $215 billion and a gross profit of $84 billion. That’s a 39 percent margin. Auto companies usually get a 5 or 6 percent profit margin, grocery stores even less. Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Amazon are also among the profiteers. And here’s the kicker, those techie companies make money by using or selling our personal information to other companies. I had to laugh when the FBI was trying to break into the iPhone of the terrorist who murdered 14 Americans in San Bernardino, Calif., and the techie companies refused to help because the “right to privacy” would be violated. What a joke!

What they really meant is they wanted to keep that information for themselves, and to heck with the FBI and the rest of us.

In the 1960s, we were at least smart enough to figure out that we were getting messed over. And we were smart enough and had the courage to stand up to the politicians and the companies that were doing it to us.

Now, what? We get messed over by lying liars who lie to us, and we vote for them anyway. We buy over-priced iPhones, iPads and iCrap by the bushel and get ripped off by Apple et al, and we don’t even say a peep.

It’s time to get smart, folks. It’s time to recognize these politicians and companies for what they are – pirates and leeches. I’m not calling for revolution – a favorite term of the sixties. I’m calling for education, and accountability. Both are sorely lacking and it shows.

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