Tag: usa

NJTransit sets record Ticket Sales, Ridership at all-time highs

NJTransit: A Successful Mass Transit Super Bowl

by Jersey Mike

On Super Sunday, thousands of satisfied fans were able to arrive and leave the MetLife stadium at record time.  NJTransit, which had spent months preparing for Super Bowl 48, touted their high ridership numbers as a key indicator of success in playing part to the first “Mass Transit Super Bowl” of its kind.

“This..set an all-time record for ridership, which was previously 22,000 for (the) September 2009 U2 concert,” said NJ Transit spokesman John Durso Jr.

The crowds was in surprisingly good spirits, and they continued the Seahawks and Broncos chanting that had started on the train.  Many fans were impressed by the large number of trains and mass transit networks.

“We live in the country,” a Broncos fan said. “We have cars — we don’t use subways or anything like that.”

Surprisingly, despite angry rumors of people fainting, NJTransit assured us that there are no incidents of people fainting or being addressed by local EMT services.

NJTransit said the crowds were being orderly and passengers were being moved out in a “safe and efficient” manner. Dozens of buses were later brought in to help shuffle fans out of the area and ease the congestion.

Thanks to NJTransit, New Jersey and many football fans were able to enjoy a green and safe “Mass Transit Super Bowl.”

“The number of people moved, not only on game day, but in and around New York City, the number of people moved to multiple events, in and out, I think that’s an extraordinary achievement,” said Eric Grubman, the league’s executive vice president of NFL ventures and business operations.

Grubman added that NJTransit successfully moved 30,000 people from the venue in a way that was safe and designed to be easy.

Once again, NJTransit has shown the rest of the country how a “Jersey Strong” mass transit system can benefit the state and the entire country.

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What are some prominent Asian American issues?

If you’re referring to the political and social issues that Asian-Americans face today, these are a few that come to mind:

Combating the “model minority” stereotype

  • The myth that all Asian Americans are economically successful, and that other races should emulate them.
  • Due to this myth, many Asian Americans in need are denied access to public assistance programs.
  • It treats Asian Americans as a monolithic and homogeneous entity by aggregating statistics of several different groups.
  • The racism that Asian Americans face in society and their achievements in overcoming racism are often understated or ignored altogether.
  • It promotes divisiveness between Asian Americans and other racial minorities
  • It’s dehumanizing to base a people’s identity on little besides (often inaccurate) perceptions of high income level and education.
  • It promotes the notion that Asians are apathetic, apolitical, and okay with the status quo.
  • It creates even greater expectations of achievement out of Asian-American students, which can be psychologically harmful.


Breaking the bamboo ceiling

  • Asian Americans are often excluded from executive positions in the workplace or passed over for promotions because of negative stereotypes.
  • They are less likely to been seen as having leadership potential, charisma, or creativity.
  • They are assumed to be quiet and complacent, less likely to seek out raises and promotions (not “go-getters” or risk-takers, lacking in confidence).
  • They are often pigeonholed into certain roles based on stereotypes of being good at math or the “Asian nerd” portrayed in media.
  • Even American-born Asians are seen, for no reason based on fact, as having weaker English and communicative/interpersonal skills.
  • Those that try to break these stereotypes are often viewed negatively by the general American population for trying to deny their Asian-ness


Gaining political access and minority rights

  • As mentioned earlier, Asian Americans are often seen as politically apathetic due to the expectation that they be quiet and accepting, etc.
  • Likewise, there are fewer policies in place to protect the rights of Asian Americans than other minorities.
  • Because Asian Americans are relatively recent immigrants, they are less politically established with fewer role models in office.
  • Asian Americans are often treated as “perpetual foreigners” and unassimilable (“Where are you really from?”).
  • Many Asian Americans are not citizens, and never apply for citizenship.
  • Many Asian Americans don’t speak English well enough to feel comfortable exercising their right to vote, hence the push for more multilingual ballots and English language classes.
  • Asian Americans are far less represented in state and federal government than is proportionate to their population.
  • Some argue that the US still has racist immigration policies (I don’t know about the extent to which this is true).
  • Many Asian Americans feel helpless to change the system, and because the community is so diverse, it is hard to organize politically.


Addressing Media Stereotypes

  • Orientalism in Western art and literature.
  • The “Asian nerd” stereotype, social awkwardness (this is often the only role available to Asian American men; there are few AA men in television).
  • Asian Americans as misogynists or otherwise culturally “backward” (every plot with an Indian-American woman somehow involves an arranged marriage, for example).
  • “Geisha girl” and “China doll” stereotypes; exoticism of Asian women who somehow always fall madly in love with their white colonial oppressors.
  • Asian American women as submissive and obedient.
  • South Asians treated as “terrorists” (see baseless accusations against Huma Abedin, for example).
  • South Asians as call center workers or “job-stealers” due to outsourcing (still reflects negatively on Indian Americans).


Other issues: hate-based violence, these days often targeting Sikhs and others mistaken for Muslims post-9/11; in the past, there has been a long history of anti-Asian violence, extending from the murder of Vincent Chin to the LA riots, etc. Anti-Asian bullying in the military (and possibly schools) has also gotten more attention lately.

The Asian-American Experience & How to Deal With It

Asian-American is a constructed demographic by some California-based Asian-American activists and promoted by the majority group in the US of A.  However, a collective Asian-American experience doesn’t exist and never did despite being promoted by vocal Asian activists in an effort to unite the various ethnic Asian groups living in the US of A for greater recognition, greater rights, and greater social mobility.

In reality, ethnic Asians in America are broken up based on their language, nationality and sometimes religion. First generation immigrants separate themselves into their local ethnic communities, and their children partly define their racial identities from their original cultures.   On the other hand, descendants of first generation immigrants become disconnected with their ancestral cultures and start to think of themselves are “Americans”.  Regardless of generations, many Asian-Americans will make friends outside of their own little cultural group and often feel necessary to compromise their own identity, culture, second language to fit in.

Because there are Asian-Americans who are willing to compromise themselves and their self-respect to fit in, many non-Asian Americans believe that it is more socially acceptable to disparage Asians because they are a “model minority” and will not assert themselves for fear of being excluded in American society.  As a result, Americans believe they can get away with producing racist garbage such as the Asian Girls music video and song with excuses that it was done with an Asian model and because they have a “cute” token Indonesian-American as a band member.

I was also told by many White, Black and Latinos that the Asian Girlz video is not a big deal because it has incoherent humour and to just “lighten up“.  At the same time, they would change their tune by complaining that the George Zimmerman acquittal is racist and unfair. Despite what some people say, Asian-Americans are expected to tolerate this kind of abuse as they are compliant model minorities while others such as Blacks or Latinos are expected to assert themselves in the face of abuse or racism.  This perception in America is simply a blatant example of double standards yet it is somehow accepted in society.

Over time, these ongoing stereotypes give the majority population the impression they can get away with casual racism against Asians and arbitrarily judge Asian-Americans on an abnormally higher standard than other ethnicities. While the racial discrimination is nowhere near the levels of Chinese exclusion and Japanese internment during the 19th and 20th centuries, Asians are still seen as perpetual foreigners or by historic stereotypes.

With all these problems surrounding Asian-Americans whether it is culture shock, discrimination or a lack of clear identity, much of the ongoing dialogue in this so-called community are ultimately tied to racism or identity issues.  This is because the core of the Asian-American experience is the ongoing frustration of not being accepted in American society regardless of how hard they try to fit in whether that involves compromising one’s original identity; jettisoning the family’s native language or culture; or screwing over fellow Asians in a misguided attempt to avoid being seen as disloyal towards America. The point is no matter how hard Asian-Americans try, they will never fit in and it is better to be happy with who they are and accept their multicultural background.

Latinos had these kinds of problems for decades and managed to gradually destroy these labels by asserting and actually retaining their dual cultures regardless of stereotypes and without generally compromising to fit in.  These problems facing Asian-Americans were faced by Latinos living in America whether they are natural citizens or immigrants and eventually became an accepted and defining part of American society.

While other Asian-Americans claim they have little to learn from the Latino experience because they also face discrimination and because Asians have a supposed advantage via the “model minority” stereotype, Latinos did change America’s perception of being perpetual foreigners to being considered an integral part of American society.  Many Latinos have been increasing their presence in media, government, and in the workplace at various levels.  They are valued due to their multicultural background, many are functionally bilingual and most of all they are free from the “bamboo ceiling” that keeps Asians from reaching management levels due to ongoing perceptions by Americans that Asians are uncreative, compliant and lack individuality, which they believe is not the case with non-Asians.

Latinos who are US citizens are able to assert themselves and become recognised for being a major economic contributor and voting group in the country.  At the same time, I do not see this kind of solidarity among Asian-Americans in the US of A since it has become too easy for US politicians whether they are Democrat, Republican, Tea Party, Racist Party or Green party to divide and conquer the Asian-American community when it comes to elections (eg Taiwanese-Americans support any politician who gives lip service to Taiwan Independence and demonising China, Vietnamese-Americans support any politician who claims to demonise Communists, Laotian-Americans support anyone who claims to care about the overseas or Hmong community, Tibetan-Americans will throw their lot with any politician ranting about evil Chinese Commies or how they love the Dalai Lama, etc).

As long as the Asian community is divided and easily fractured, they will never have a voice in the American government and society at large. Also, Latinos generally assert themselves when they are mistreated or when they receive citizenship, which is not truly the case with Asian-Americans as seen by how Levy Tran took the gig without complaining about the Asian Girlz subject matter or when Marcello Lalopua, the band’s Indonesian member, did not speak out when the racist Asian Girlz song was being produced.

Most of all, many Latinos have learned they will never fit in American society no matter how they tried ranging from passing as white or abandoning Spanish as their second or foreign language. This is why many of them maintain a working knowledge of Spanish or express pride in their multicultural background unlike many in the Asian community. I still see the heavily Americanised Asians distancing themselves from the less Americanised Asians and labelling them as FOBs, weirdos, or Unamericans or becoming ignorant of their parents’ culture.

At the same time, I’ve also seen some Asian-Americans gravitating towards other Asian cultures that seem more popular than their own home cultures such as Chinese or Filipino-Americans learning Japanese and Japanese culture to the point they know more Japanese culture and history than their own or to the point Japanese becomes their second language instead of Chinese or Tagalog. This also applies to Asian-Americans who lean towards Korean culture or try to integrate themselves into the Korean-American community when they are not and never will be Korean.

I don’t see Cuban-Americans or Chicanos trying to pass themselves off as Puerto Ricans; or Colombians knowing more about Mexican culture and history than their own. I also don’t see many Latinos railing against other Latinos who recently moved into the US of A as FOBS or outsiders.

This is why it is would be better to look at how the Latino community went from being seen as perpetual foreigners to being considered part of America rather than dwelling on Asian-American frustration in a cultural bubble. It’s time Asians in the US learn from them and their struggles and victories to benefit the Asian-American community and to stop dwelling on these issues in a bubble.

Thank You Jack Hunter

Today I learned Jack Hunter has resigned from Randall Paul’s staff after allegations of his past as a Southern “Shock Jock” came to light from an obscure blog promoting neo-conservative and reactionary views.

The blog alleged that Jack used to hang around neo-Confederate groups when he was in his youth and used to make a series of off-colour antics as a “Southern Avenger” character in the spirit of stupid fun.  As a result of these allegations, the corporate media has used this to paint Mr. Hunter as a far-right reactionary with an intolerant worldview and as an attempt to smear Randall Paul through Jack Hunter’s past antics.

The Jack Hunter of the present is nothing like the Jack Hunter in his youth.  The person I met is articulate, open-minded, tolerant, and familiar with major issues in the country.  This seems a far cry from the naive youth who believes Lincoln deserved to be shot for winning the Civil War, different from the guy running around screaming off-colour comments while wearing a wresting mask decorated with the Stars and Bars and far from the stereotypical Southerner who fears venturing beyond the county line.

At the same time, it does show how individuals can mature and grow as they are exposed to more forward-thinking and open ideas.  Being exposed to universal ideas of liberty and of the possibility of an open society did bring out the best in Jack Hunter as seen in his book about the Tea Party and his contributions to the American public discourse.

That being said, his resignation, most likely at the advice of his colleagues and politicians, is a sad example of the consequences of past behaviour.  It’s a lesson that we should all be careful about how and what we say or write in public as it can be easily taken out of context or used against us in other ways.  This is even more relevant given that the NSA is currently recording all possible written or verbal communications on their massive cloud-based databases.

I can only hope Jack takes a break from all this nonsense to reflect, recharge and return to the scene when the time is right.

On Obama vs Obama – The First American Presidential Debate

All this debate hoopla between Willard “Mitt aka Obama 2.0” Romney and Barack “Socialist Kenyan Muslim” Obama has really gotten out of hand. Sure, I enjoyed the memes about angry Big Birds, the Jim Lehrer incompetence rants, and the fact everyone was getting so worked up on Obama 2.0 supposedly beating Prez Obama to a pulp in last night’s debate.

But to be honest, I was more excited that the New York Yankees are going to the World Series again and how Ben Bernanke‘s QE3+ is causing inflation in Hong Kong. Since QE3+ was announced with the intention of propping up the stagnant American economy until unemployment drops to 5.5% (ROFL), inflation in Hong Kong has increased around 5-10% and the real estate bubble has gotten to the point where the government is getting involved to deflate it. Also, the price of food has increased and the HKD is going to lose more value against the Renminbi.

Note to self: begin splitting half of my HKD holdings in the bank into RMB to hedge against more damage from QE3+.

For all the theatrics and political WWF-style wrestling in the debate, neither Romney nor Obama really said anything substantial. Obama was just being passive as usual while Romney just pulled numbers out of nowhere and made them real with his confidence and photogenic smile. And yes, we now know Romney is a capable multitasker because he was able to both moderate the debate and hand Obama his ass at the same time.

I can say all these things while others are getting worked up over comments on their debate posts to the point of deleting either the comments, posts or even dropping a contact or two because I am not going to vote in November. Yes, I am not going to vote. No absentee ballots, no online voting and no write-ins for you-know-who and that Johnson fellow. Full disclosure, I voted for Obama in 2008 and it didn’t seem to pay off in any way so I am not voting for him or his Obama 2.0 (Romney) tool presented by the GOP. Even if I voted, my vote would be just filtered down to a handful of electoral votes that would go to Obama and my supposed absentee ballot will take its sweet time to pass customs to be added to the totals.

So no, I am not going to vote on November 6th. Conversely, I have no plans to play Halo4 that day either. I am just going to go to work, focus on the work, attend a few client meetings, have lunch with colleagues, and then head home to exercise and read a William Gibson novel or even one from Phillip K. Dick. Not voting on election day by choice will be one of the most American things I will do since becoming a naturalised citizen of the United States of America.

Thank you and I love Big Bird too.

Obama Fails to Address Inflation in State of the Union

President Obama’s State of the Union address last night did not make one single mention of inflation, when it is the belief of NIA that massive price inflation (especially food inflation) will become America’s top crisis by the end of this calendar year. Obama’s speech also failed to mention the Federal Reserve, the Federal Funds Rate being held near 0% for over two years, and the Fed’s latest round of $600 billion in quantitative easing. Unless Obama addresses our nation’s fiat currency system, nothing else he says has any meaning at all.

After the U.S. lost 8.36 million jobs over a two year period from December of 2007 through December of 2009, our economy has recovered 1.12 million jobs as a result of the Federal Reserve and U.S. government spending $4.6 trillion on bailouts and stimulus programs. That is over $4 million spent for each job created. Instead of bailing out Wall Street and allowing non-productive bankers to receive record bonuses, the U.S. could have sent a check for $550,000 to each middle-class American who lost their job.

When a central bank prints trillions of dollars out of thin air, you are going to see some type of a nominal uptick in economic statistics. Obama can brag all he wants about over 1 million jobs being created, but he continues to ignore what the ultimate cost of it will be. When a government has an annual cash budget deficit of over $1 trillion that cannot possibly be balanced by raising taxes, massive inflation is the inevitable outcome. Our real budget deficit, once you include increases in our unfunded liabilities for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, is already north of $5 trillion. NIA believes the U.S. is now at serious risk of experiencing hyperinflation by the year 2015.

Obama proposed in his speech that “we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years” saying it “would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president.” The truth is, Obama’s proposals, if successfully implemented, would not reduce the deficit by $400 billion over the next decade. They would only cut $400 billion from proposed spending increases. NIA doesn’t understand why Obama would even waste his breath talking about reducing the deficit by $400 billion over the next decade, when the Federal Reserve is creating $600 billion in monetary inflation over a period of just eight months. Americans who listened to Obama speak last night wasted over an hour of their time, because until the Federal Reserve raises interest rates and stops printing money, it will be impossible for the U.S. economy to truly recover and become healthy.

Even if the U.S. government cut all discretionary spending down to zero, we would still have a budget deficit from Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid alone. Surprisingly, Obama admitted that most of the cuts he proposed “only address annual domestic spending, which represents a little more than 12% of our budget.” When referring to the Deficit Commission’s proposed spending cuts, Obama said “their conclusion is that the only way to tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending wherever we find it”. In what was Obama’s most shocking statement of the night, he went on to say, “This means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit.”

This is the closest Obama has ever come to admitting that major cuts to Medicare and Medicaid are necessary, if we want to have any hope of ever balancing our budget. However, NIA is taking Obama’s comments with a grain of salt. He immediately changed the subject in the very next sentence, claiming his health care reform law that was enacted last year “will slow these rising costs”. He then continued to defend the law saying, “repealing the health care law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit.”

One week ago, the new Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted 245-189 to repeal Obama’s health care reform law. The House’s vote to repeal it is meaningless because it would never pass the U.S. Senate and even if it did, Obama would simply veto it. NIA believes the law should be repealed because it is impossible for government legislation to bring down health care costs. Only the free market can bring down health care costs and the health care reform law will impede the free market more than any piece of legislation has ever impeded the free market in any industry or sector in history. In our opinion, the new health care law is guaranteed to add trillions of dollars to the deficit over the next decade and there is absolutely no chance of Obama ever making the necessary dramatic cuts to Medicare and Medicaid until the U.S. is already in the middle of an outbreak of hyperinflation.

When it comes to Social Security, Obama said we need a “bipartisan solution to strengthen” it and “we must do it without putting at risk current retirees” and “without slashing benefits for future generations”. In other words, nobody in Washington is even going to bring up the possibility of cutting or eliminating Social Security, because it would be political suicide for them. We need more honest representatives in Washington like Ron Paul who aren’t afraid to speak the truth about the need to cut entitlement programs and inform the American public to the consequences of our government’s deficit spending.

Most Americans think they don’t have to worry about our country’s national debt because our grandchildren are the ones who will ultimately be responsible to pay it off. Unfortunately, it won’t just be our grandchildren who feel the pain of our deficit spending and monetary inflation. All Americans with incomes and savings in U.S. dollars along with all foreigners holding dollar-denominated assets will begin to feel the pain of our government’s destructive actions in the very near future through massive price inflation and the U.S. dollar losing nearly all of its purchasing power.

One thing from last night’s State of the Union address is very clear, Obama is not serious about cutting spending and nobody in Washington has any expectation of the U.S. ever returning to a balanced budget. NIA believes that this past week’s dip in the prices of gold and silver is an unbelievable buying opportunity for Americans who already own precious metals as well as those wishing to buy precious metals for the first time. Sure, both gold and silver could dip lower in the short-term, but we can’t try to time short-term fluctuations and we need to stay focused on the long-term destruction of the U.S. dollar. In future State of the Union addresses to come in another year or two down the road, the entire focus of the President’s speech will likely be on inflation and the collapsing U.S. dollar. When that time comes and mainstream America becomes aware of what NIA members have known for years, we could easily see $5,000 per ounce gold and $500 per ounce silver, and everybody will regret not loading up as much as possible at these levels.

It is important to spread the word about NIA to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, if you want America to survive hyperinflation. Please tell everybody you know to become members of NIA for free immediately at: http://inflation.us

Valedictorian Speaks Out Against Schooling in Graduation Speech

Valedictorian Speaks Out Against Schooling in Graduation Speech

Last month, Erica Goldson graduated as valedictorian of Coxsackie-Athens High School. Instead of using her graduation speech to celebrate the triumph of her victory, the school, and the teachers that made it happen, she channeled her inner Ivan Illich and de-constructed the logic of a valedictorian and the whole educational system.

Erica originally posted her full speech on Sign of the Times, and without need for editing or cutting, here’s the speech in its entirety:
Here I stand

There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, “If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen? The Master thought about this, then replied, “Ten years . .” The student then said, “But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast — How long then?” Replied the Master, “Well, twenty years.” “But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?” asked the student. “Thirty years,” replied the Master. “But, I do not understand,” said the disappointed student. “At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?” Replied the Master, “When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.”

This is the dilemma I’ve faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.

Some of you may be thinking, “Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn’t you learn something? Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible.

I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I’m scared.

John Taylor Gatto, a retired school teacher and activist critical of compulsory schooling, asserts, “We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness – curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids into truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then. But we don’t do that.” Between these cinderblock walls, we are all expected to be the same. We are trained to ace every standardized test, and those who deviate and see light through a different lens are worthless to the scheme of public education, and therefore viewed with contempt.

H. L. Mencken wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not “to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. … Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim … is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States.”

To illustrate this idea, doesn’t it perturb you to learn about the idea of “critical thinking.” Is there really such a thing as “uncritically thinking?” To think is to process information in order to form an opinion. But if we are not critical when processing this information, are we really thinking? Or are we mindlessly accepting other opinions as truth?

This was happening to me, and if it wasn’t for the rare occurrence of an avant-garde tenth grade English teacher, Donna Bryan, who allowed me to open my mind and ask questions before accepting textbook doctrine, I would have been doomed. I am now enlightened, but my mind still feels disabled. I must retrain myself and constantly remember how insane this ostensibly sane place really is.

And now here I am in a world guided by fear, a world suppressing the uniqueness that lies inside each of us, a world where we can either acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism or insist on change. We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us.

We are more than robotic bookshelves, conditioned to blurt out facts we were taught in school. We are all very special, every human on this planet is so special, so aren’t we all deserving of something better, of using our minds for innovation, rather than memorization, for creativity, rather than futile activity, for rumination rather than stagnation? We are not here to get a degree, to then get a job, so we can consume industry-approved placation after placation. There is more, and more still.

The saddest part is that the majority of students don’t have the opportunity to reflect as I did. The majority of students are put through the same brainwashing techniques in order to create a complacent labor force working in the interests of large corporations and secretive government, and worst of all, they are completely unaware of it. I will never be able to turn back these 18 years. I can’t run away to another country with an education system meant to enlighten rather than condition. This part of my life is over, and I want to make sure that no other child will have his or her potential suppressed by powers meant to exploit and control. We are human beings. We are thinkers, dreamers, explorers, artists, writers, engineers. We are anything we want to be – but only if we have an educational system that supports us rather than holds us down. A tree can grow, but only if its roots are given a healthy foundation.

For those of you out there that must continue to sit in desks and yield to the authoritarian ideologies of instructors, do not be disheartened. You still have the opportunity to stand up, ask questions, be critical, and create your own perspective. Demand a setting that will provide you with intellectual capabilities that allow you to expand your mind instead of directing it. Demand that you be interested in class. Demand that the excuse, “You have to learn this for the test” is not good enough for you. Education is an excellent tool, if used properly, but focus more on learning rather than getting good grades.

For those of you that work within the system that I am condemning, I do not mean to insult; I intend to motivate. You have the power to change the incompetencies of this system. I know that you did not become a teacher or administrator to see your students bored. You cannot accept the authority of the governing bodies that tell you what to teach, how to teach it, and that you will be punished if you do not comply. Our potential is at stake.

For those of you that are now leaving this establishment, I say, do not forget what went on in these classrooms. Do not abandon those that come after you. We are the new future and we are not going to let tradition stand. We will break down the walls of corruption to let a garden of knowledge grow throughout America. Once educated properly, we will have the power to do anything, and best of all, we will only use that power for good, for we will be cultivated and wise. We will not accept anything at face value. We will ask questions, and we will demand truth.

So, here I stand. I am not standing here as valedictorian by myself. I was molded by my environment, by all of my peers who are sitting here watching me. I couldn’t have accomplished this without all of you. It was all of you who truly made me the person I am today. It was all of you who were my competition, yet my backbone. In that way, we are all valedictorians.

I am now supposed to say farewell to this institution, those who maintain it, and those who stand with me and behind me, but I hope this farewell is more of a “see you later” when we are all working together to rear a pedagogic movement. But first, let’s go get those pieces of paper that tell us that we’re smart enough to do so!