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Andrew Sullivan on the Opioid Epidemic in America
The pace of change, the ethos of individualism, the relentless dehumanization that capitalism abets, the constant moving and disruption, combined with a relatively small government and the absence of official religion, risked the construction of an overly atomized society, where everyone has to create his or her own meaning, and everyone feels alone. The American project always left an empty center of collective meaning, but for a long time Americans filled it with their own extraordinary work ethic, an unprecedented web of associations and clubs and communal or ethnic ties far surpassing Europe’s, and such a plethora of religious options that almost no one was left without a purpose or some kind of easily available meaning to their lives. Tocqueville marveled at this American exceptionalism as the key to democratic success, but he worried that it might not endure forever.

And it hasn’t. What has happened in the past few decades is an accelerated waning of all these traditional American supports for a meaningful, collective life, and their replacement with various forms of cheap distraction. Addiction — to work, to food, to phones, to TV, to video games, to porn, to news, and to drugs — is all around us. The core habit of bourgeois life — deferred gratification — has lost its grip on the American soul. We seek the instant, easy highs, and it’s hard not to see this as the broader context for the opioid wave. ...

Opioids are just one of the ways Americans are trying to cope with an inhuman new world where everything is flat, where communication is virtual, and where those core elements of human happiness — faith, family, community — seem to elude so many. Until we resolve these deeper social, cultural, and psychological problems, until we discover a new meaning or reimagine our old religion or reinvent our way of life, the poppy will flourish.
america  culture  meaning  poverty  screens  technology  drugs  opioids 
12 hours ago by phillip.e.johnston
This is the real reason many Americans stay poor - MarketWatch
“The system is, by just about all measures, stacked against those with low incomes and low wealth for the benefit of the wealthiest,” says the report from the nonpartisan but left-leaning Prosperity Now nonprofit, which provides research and recommendations regarding Americans with limited incomes.

One example: low-income people are ineligible for federal programs such as SNAP (food stamps) and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) if they amass “even modest savings,” the report noted. Prosperity Now calls policies like this “a roadblock on the path to saving.”
poverty  inequality  power_in_America 
2 days ago by Jibarosoy
Homelessness, Step by Step - The New York Times
The New York Times looked at homelessness step by step through the eyes of several families, over the final months of last year.

The desperation and embarrassment of having nowhere else to turn and the daily frustration of living with little privacy and curfews were immeasurable. The joy of families moving into their own homes was palpable.
Every story was different, and yet there was a common thread of uncertainty, even when families left shelter.
homelessness  Poverty 
2 days ago by jbertsche
(112) Peter Thiel EDUCATES College Professor who asks: "What's your problem with higher education?" - YouTube
education bubble // what good is higher education? investment? consumption? an insurance not to be left behind? then why is insurance so expensive *if it were insurance, then meritocracy claim is invalid bc you take out future earning to get a step higher on the ladder? competitive tournament to pay an entry fee (excluding people)?
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5 days ago by asterisk2a

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