Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Part One: Albuquerque's Cultural Wrecking Ball

 Part One of the MeanMesa Series: Albuquerque Youth Corps

The esoteric nature of questions and answers

Homo sapiens are famous for modeling.  We model everything we see right along with everything we can imagine.  We comfortably strive for our "seeing" to be accurate, intellectual and objective.  We happily tolerate our "imagining" to be a bit more emotional.  When the emotions of our imagination succeed in contaminating our possibilities for consuming objective reality, the outcomes become confused -- sometimes, so confused that we are unable to discern whether they are good outcomes or otherwise.

There is an unavoidable, inevitable journey from the challenges we perceive to the solutions we seek.  We model the challenges, the journey and the solutions.  When such obstacles promise grave consequences, we are charged -- like it or not -- with the work of making the best model humanly possible.

At such a juncture the best cleverness, cunning and objectivity we can muster are ruthlessly tested by the reality around us.

The "Elephant in the Living Room"

In Albuquerque in 2010 we face an amazingly neglected challenge indeed.  Not too much "futurist vision" is required as we consider our population to see that our city faces an uncertain fortune.  Yet, by every means at our human disposal, we cling to answer after answer, model after model and a dismal sequence of one failed solution after another with a suffocating equanimity.  In fact, exhausted, we passively await an unlikely and improbable reprieve from some unforeseen  champion for what "comes our way."

The 2000 Census placed Albuquerque's population at roughly 500,000 with 28% under the age of 19.  (Source)  In 2000, 7% of Albuquerque's population was under the age of 5, killing time on their tricycles as the waited for Kindergarten.  By age group, the next 28% were, at least theoretically, attending school.

It is with this last demographic that Albuquerque's future dilemma emerges.

A Good, Solid, 18th Century Education for "Wage Slaves"

In the ten years since the last census, Albuquerque's public schools have been routinely graduated around one half of the students who should have been graduating.  The figure has varied a little both as increase and decrease, but 50% defines the unmistakable trend.

Further, this alarming rate of High School drop outs is  not the only problem in this neglected cluster of factors which colors our local reality.  Many of those who do graduate are educated far too poorly to pursue any higher objective.  Those who are accepted to CMI or UNM have a depressing need for remedial studies.

By the metric of the social culture, they are illiterate, uninteresting and unemployable.  Forget "economy driving" innovation, most could list the full collection of books they have read on a single matchbook cover.  Of course, public education has been shredded by the religionists and ideologues such as the medievalists on the Texas Board of Education where modern wretched text books originate.  The smelly but chic "anti-science" crowd of creationists and other social misfits have further validated stupidity as a social norm.

Albuquerque math scores, science scores, civics scores -- you name it -- have descended below those of Slovenia.  This sordid disaster might have passed as sufficient a century ago, but now it only produces a chilling blanket of hopelessness both for the young victims of this meat grinder and for the observant few who have not yet succumbed to the mind numbing proposition that such grave failures need not be considered.

Those students, although they may not know much else, know all about what their futures will hold, a conclusion which hardly offers the promise of good citizens in the future.

All the Careful Features of the Dark Ages -- Very Dark Ages

These teen age "promises of the future" use drugs openly, drink far too much and accumulate prison records and DWI's as if they were Scouting badges.  Their prevailing poverty does not inspire them to a determined effort to improve their situation so much as it impels them to steal everything that is not bolted down firmly and to spray graffiti on what remains.

They have babies, grow desolately obese and accumulate every bad habit they can afford.  A week ago, a heroin distribution ring was uncovered at Cibola High School.  Meth routinely converts every teen age boy who dabbles with its false promise into a father and a "mechanic" and every teen age girl caught in the dizzying swirl into a gum chewing whore.

Plenty of Parents and Theories, Just No Results

MeanMesa views the role of parenting as a simple one, that is, sincerely doing everything possible and necessary to assist a child in reaching the Age of Responsibility.

Albuquerque is ankle deep in reasons why all this continues to fuel our inevitable downward spiral.  Intermittently, blame issues forth as a great tide at flood.  The parents have failed.  The schools have failed.  Law enforcement has failed.  Liberals are ruining what the Founding Fathers worked so hard to create for us.

All horse shit.

Some of those reasons are quite contemporary compared to the old reasons which served to explain this nightmare a year or a decade ago.  However, the outcome of a failed culture rages ahead just as depressingly today as it did then.  The statistics, numbers, demographics and outcomes of the past have "come home to roost."  The individuals who were caught up in this destruction a decade ago are now the "parents" who have found a way to watch the same horrible thing continue today.

Except -- the parents aren't watching.

They aren't doing anything!

What parent could simply watch what was happening to a child and remain uninterested?  Apparently, the mind numbing acceptance of this intolerable situation has become far too comfortable as a daily fare of insipid parenthetics.  No problem.  Just keep repeating the following:

"It's always been like this."

"It was like this when I was a kid."

"It all seems to work out in the end.  These young ones grow up, come to their senses, get jobs, make families, you know, we all went through this.  Right?"

Wrong.  There is a 50% drop out rate before high school graduation.  There is a heroin dealer loose in Cibola High School.  Your daughter is obese and illiterate -- she's never read a single book -- a single book about anything! Your son only makes it to school three days a week.  He wants to join a criminal gang -- not one capable of turning a profit from a criminal enterprise, that would be too complicated.  Neither of them can join to military to straighten out their lives, either.

The army doesn't want them any more than you do.  Why would they?

A Note to Parents

Your children are wreckage. These conditions were not the conditions when you were young.  The dismal outcomes of this disaster will not be at all similar to  your own mediocre life, they will be far worse.

"Oh, there will be a job of some kind for him."  Right.  Have you heard of "shipping jobs to other countries?"  Egad.  Shades of Ross Perot!  Sure the wages are less over there, but even more important, all those foreign workers can read and write!

What are you thinking?  What is so important to your life that you simply let this nightmare rumble forward, year after dreary year.  There's nothing wrong with your kids.  There is something tragically wrong with you.  What you are doing -- and not doing -- amounts to a high crime against your own offspring!

Can you hate them that much?  Are you, for some reason, so barbarically cruel?  Are you psychotically self-destructive, terminally selfish or just stupid?

Now, let's try to imagine what it feels like to be one of these fractured teens.

Here it will always be inviting to rush back to some of the "expert theories" for refuge.  Even a glimpse of objective self-observation after a lifetime of neglectful largesse and self-indulgence can prove troubling, but those theories hold little  comfort for you in your "golden days" when you will be compelled to watch your alcoholic, obese, drug addicted, illiterate, useless kids relentlessly zip in and out of prison.

The surprise is that your kids know this.  The likely outcome of this nightmare is no mystery to them.  They are hopeless and helpless, desolate with their own prospects.  They don't have a clue about what to do to save themselves from the damage your selfishness has wreaked upon them.

There have been many "expert theories" about why, for instance, kids start taking drugs.  Naturally, the lazy approach to such a problem is more police and more prisons -- and, of course, for those few with either a little concern or a lot of insurance, treatment.  But why, exactly, was your little Johnnie so determined to "do business" with the heroin dealer at Cibola High School?

He didn't want the rest of his hopeless life.  He didn't even want to wait to see how today might turn out!  He had no interest at all.

That would be the life he has spent in your house, in your family.  That would be the assistance he has received from you -- not excuses, mind you, assistance -- as he undertook the task of reaching the age of responsibility.  Instead of assistance, he seems to have received every possible incentive for simply surrendering, submitting to the hopeless situation in which he finds himself.

Hmmm.  Maybe, given the alternative, the heroin doesn't look so bad, after all.

Sorry, parents.  This doesn't work.  The citizens you are raising, the students Albuquerque's public schools are educating and the future parents you are creating won't work.  Their lives won't work out.  They will be unable to operate the society we presently inhabit.  They will be easy prey to the unscrupulous oligarchs who already intend to own everything and everybody.

They are the hopeless, tragic orphans of a generation of human breeding pairs -- not parents with a sincere intention of actually caring for their unfortunate, confused off spring.  The young ones are miserable.  The corporatists find them willing consumers of every wretched gizmo which might momentarily distract  their tormented young minds from the desolate futures awaiting them.

Those who produce and sell these distractions consider ADD a profit asset waiting to be harvested.  Does your son have six of the most modern versions of Game Boy?  Does he know anything about the Constitution or Alexander the Great?

High borne idealism proposes no response to this situation.  A constant, nagging reference to imaginary parenting skills and commitment, the present narcotic always employed to mollify this failure, will turn out to be just as fraudulent as the anticipated solution which will arise from a generation of selfish, uninterested people changing their stripes in one glorious night.

This thing is roaring down the road toward us.  We can already smell the stench and see the blood of young lives caught in this descending whirlwind, the uneducated, the unemployable, the criminal, the frustrated, the stoned and the hopeless.


In Part 2 of this series, MeanMesa will propose a radical response to this dilemma.  If you are one of these parents, don't worry.  No one, including MeanMesa believes that there is any factor which will lead to your accepting any troubling responsibility.  On the other hand, MeanMesa has to assume that  the alternative will amount to simply abandoning this city around the year 2020, locking the door, turning out the lights and moving somewhere else isn't really a solution either.

Join us for the rest of this series!

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