Great ideas

I've spent a lot of time lately thinking about things that land people in really unfortunate life situations. Or how those situations and lifestyles are perpetuated.

The more I study, the more I realize that poverty begets poverty. If one's parents are poor and uneducated, it is often likely, without the intervention of a good school and quality teachers and parental pushing in an education oriented direction, that one will also end up poor and uneducated.

Hence, places like the projects exist. Neighborhoods in Harlem and the Bronx, and in every major city churn out generation after generation of impoverished people. White and black. Immigrants and natives. People with similar brain capacity, but dissimilar life opportunities. Contrary to antiquated belief (and still some right-wing-ultra-conservative-belief) stupidity and ignorance aren't hereditary, strictly speaking (obviously I am not talking about hereditary mental illness, or other disabilities caused by biology or genetics, nor did I mean to just call people with mental illness stupid...you get what I mean).

Here are a couple of things that I don't understand.

I get that sometimes kids are going to school, and what they are being taught seems pretty irrelevant. They feel like teachers don't care about them. That school is hard. They are falling and staying behind. The thing I don't quite understand, however, is at what point it ever seems like the best idea to just quit. How the most logical thing becomes dropping out.

"I think its time to really take charge of my life and quit school forever. Education? Get real. Fast food is where it's at. Americans are only getting fatter, and therefore I shall be entering a solid industry, with plenty of room for growth, and spectacular job security."

I mean, there are many schools in the country that have drop out rates of 50% or higher. Which means, there are millions of kids who somehow think that quitting school is a good life decision. Which I find wholly baffling. Perhaps, I simply have forgotten about the severe irrationality of youth.

I forget that I EVER thought it was a good idea to wear studded belts and army cargo pants. I remember convincing myself that science was bullshit, and that math was the PURE science (slightly ironic, since I can't even remember how to do long devision, and simple algorithms totally befuddle my mind). Because how did I know scientists weren't all liars? (the obvious irrationality of that thought does not escape me). Like take a nucleus for example. If scientists had never before seen a nucleus, maybe it wasn't real. I realize now that it was entirely possible that scientists had actually seen a nucleus, but my rural education misinformed me.

I actually still don't know if scientists have ever seen a nucleus. Thanks, college.

I am the American science/math failing statistic.

I understand that kids drop out for lots of reasons: the family needs more income, pregnancy, drug habits, drug selling incentives, and whatever. Anywhere from 8-10% of high school students drop out per year.

The other, I suppose somewhat related thing that I wonder about, is hardcore drug abuse. Such as meth. Or heroin. How exactly does ANYBODY ever even try that stuff? At what point does one think, "You know what? I think I'm just going to go ahead and give meth a shot. I've certainly heard a lot of success stories surrounding meth, I hate my teeth and wish they were rotten, I enjoy open sores, and I'm really ready for the emaciated look."

NOBODY doesn't know that meth way sucks. I mean, I understand kids giving weed, psychedelic drugs, and even coke a shot. But man. Meth. That doesn't ever turn out well for anyone. Designer drugs can be passed off as glamourous. Just look at Lindsay Lohan and the Olsen twins. But do a quick image search of "meth addict," and "coke addict," and you get very different results (please, PLEASE don't take this as me giving coke the thumbs up. Just saying that I slightly understand people doing coke, whereas meth just blows my mind). I realize that most people probably aren't starting with hardcore drugs. Obviously. And that people are seeking the most intense, cheapest high possible. But meth?

I guess every now and then I consider removing the breaks from my mountain bike, and bombing the steepest, fastest hill I can find. Which I guess is sort of like meth. And I suppose thinking about throwing my $3k mt bike off of a cliff, and buying a Walmart Schwinn is about like quitting school.

Never mind. I get it.


Anonymous said...

Andy, I think you are becoming a liberal.
Because of the subject matter, I am leaving this comment anonymously, but you probably know who I am.
SOmetimes people start meth because they are prescribed it by their doctors when they are children. Look up Desoxyn. A prescription med for ADD, Active ingredient: Methamphetamine.
Adderal, something tons of kids and adults take, is composed of three amphetamine salts. Not precisely methamphatime, but very very similar.
(while what just said is true, i am kind of joking around. i doubt many people who try meth do it because they were prescribed desoxyn)
As for why people try hard drugs, based on my personal experience and what I have observed from others, is partly because the impression we get from government and whatnot about the effects of drugs is often very misleading. People see others try hard drugs with little or no negative consequences and realize they have been lied to and no longer know what to trust. As crazy as it sounds, I've known people who have responsibly used heroin(which is pretty much identical to oxycontin, something people can more easily empathize with using) and responsibly used meth.
Of course, there are negative consequences to hard drugs, but not as drastic as the media/government portrays. I think the risk is high enough that people should avoid them, but that anti-drug campaigns should be more honest. That way, when people see others using hard drugs without the insane consequences portrayed by the media, they don't distrust the actual consequences as well.

As for coke versus meth, it think one reason (but not the entire reason) coke isn't as dangerous is because it is so expensive. You could get high for a week on meth with what it would cost for a few hours with coke. So, unless you are rich, you probably can't afford it. And if you are rich, you probably have other stuff going for you as well, helping maintain the glamor of the drug. If you are doing meth, you are probably already poor and in a bad place to begin with.
But yeah, meth sucks.

Jellybean said...

I don't know how much transportation is a problem for impoverished school districts, but I know that in the Lower Ninth Ward of post-Katrina New Orleans, transportation is one of the huge problems with getting youth into classrooms.

I find drugs pretty hard to understand as well. I guess, though, that if you fall into a pattern of doing some drugs, other drugs seem like less of a stretch, especially after the effects of the drugs one has been doing lose their effects. I think highs aren't as good with most drugs after a certain point, so perhaps at that point, you move onto another. Honestly, I think that with the exception of marijuana, which has the label of a gateway drug, pretty much any drug is a gateway drug. I don't think marijuana smokers necessarily turn into drug users (though if they start at a young age, it's the case), but it seems to me that anyone I know who has done drugs has done more than one. I don't know anyone who's only done coke, e, or mushrooms. It seems like they've usually done a handful when they've done 1.

I don't know much about the statistics of drug use, though. I can only say what I see among people I know who have used.


What I know about some people who come from low-income families and especially from growing up in an area with a high Latin population is that some cultures don't respect education as much as others. In some families, it's more "manly" to quit going to school and start contributing to the family income than it is to finish one's education and bring home a better income later. Also, I think if one's parents aren't well-educated, it's easier to think that it's okay not to finish high school. After all, one might think, Dad didn't finish school and he's a good person. You and I would feel like utter failures if we didn't graduate high school. I guess success is relative.

Education is a huge problem among the impoverished, though. I don't know a solution other than ones completely unachievable, like assigning all impoverished kids with mentors. I dunno.

Dave said...

I don't have the time or inclination to do the research on this, but doesn't this:


mean that meth beats the shit out of coke for early dopamine release?

Dave said...

oops. didn't copy the whole link.

here it is in two installments:


Fish Nat!on said...

"Anonymous"- I think become A liberal, I am not. On various social issues I probably side with liberals. Especially concerning public education. However, on things such as health care, the economy, and welfare, I am definitely not. I have more of a libertarian, or even conservative view concerning those things.

Anonymous said...

I don't think your "rural education misinformed you" Mr Mckay told us all about the cell structure, and our book the same one they used in the "big city." Had pictures of the nucleus ect. I guess I just don't get it anymore, and probably never will. Please take this as my official resignation of the real cool kids /nintendo club.
your non hunter redneck friend

P.S. whats so wrong with being a liberal?

Fish Nat!on said...

Well, the problem is, I never HAD Mr. Mckay. I moved down in 9th. That was the problem. And by picture, I don't mean a diagram, or artists text book representation. I mean actually having seen one. Like with a super microscope, or something.

Please don't leave the real cool club.

And, lots of things aren't wrong with being a liberal. But lots of things are. Just like lots of things are wrong with being a conservative.