One Global Democracy? – Imagine That

Tucker Carlson, of Fox News, either has trouble filling his air time, or he has a serious sadistic streak.  Or, maybe he wants to add humor, and not-too-thinly-veiled ridicule to his, usually serious repartee.  I did not know whether to laugh or cry when he interviewed Peter Schurman, involved with MoveOn.org, a San Francisco-based, non-profit, political activist group, founded by two entertainment-software entrepreneurs.

MoveOn was organized in 1998, to oppose the impeachment of Bill Clinton over his handling of Monica Lewinsky.  They support liberal causes (anti-war, anti-SUV, anti-Bush, Pro-Michael Moore, Pro-Obama, Pro-Obama, Pro-Bernie Sanders) with fund-raising and virtual petitioning.

Mr Schurman joined MoveOn in 2001 as its first salaried employee.  His MBA from Yale is an academic achievement, but this new thesis would make any dean groan, and any John Lennon fan cheer.

One Global Democracy is an idea whose time is never.  Their website starts off, “SAN FRANCISCO, CA, November 29, 2017 — A small group of highly credentialed progressive leaders have announced in a video a new movement for One Global Democracy ..”

The tenet:  eliminate all national borders (“Imagine there’s no countries,”) and give each person one vote (“Imagine all the people sharing all the world”).  Allow anyone in the world to go to any other place in the world to live (“A brotherhood of man”).

international people

I would like to see him make this concept work on one block where he lives in San Francisco.  A few hundred homeless people would add appropriately to the mix of people living and working there. (Imagine all the people living life in peace”)

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They offer a video that is supposed to explain the idea and how it can work.  They ask for donations to fund the effort.

I watched it.  Circular logic, logical gaps, vague references, and not one working model of getting everyone to work together to solve problems. (“Imagine all the people living for today”) What would be a quorum?  How long would the voting stay open?

This group of “highly credentialed progressives” are clueless.  They propose to give everyone an anonymous voting account and have everyone vote on every issue.  (“And the world will be as one”) Sounds like “Animal Farm,” to me.  Let’s look at this idea from eight perspectives:

  1. Knowledge, skills, and understanding – Where do we have citizens of the world who know enough and understand the mechanisms to solve problems and set rules?  How many problems does the world have?  Who can know all that?
  2. Agreement – Couples disagree; juries of 12 people cannot always agree on one issue. How would this system find agreement among 7.5 billion people who do not share culture or language?  How can someone in Africa know answers on any local or global need or solution?
  3. Majority rules – Africans may become the majority population of the world by 2100. Who could end the tyranny of the majority?  How would we keep minorities from resisting egregious, burdensome discrimination?  What if the majority is wrong and makes bad choices based on superstition, rumor, and gossip?  What would be the common language?  Chinese?  Who would do the translations?  How would we handle issues such as gay marriage?  Abortion?  Euthanasia?  Civil rights?  Energy?
  4. Resources – how would resources be acquired, and allocated among areas and people?  Who would pay taxes?  What jobs would survive?
  5. Infrastructure – Would the whole world have to agree to build a bridge or highway in Bangladesh? How could it get done if approved?  What if the majority changed their minds half way through the project?  How would public safety work?  Health care? Finance?  Agriculture?  Education?  Justice?
  6. Economics – If resources were evenly distributed, where would communities get the money for local schools? If skilled and unskilled, educated and uneducated people were paid equally, is that not communism?  (a failed concept) Would Americans be willing to give up 85% of their belongings and money to equalize Africans in poverty.  (read Do Americans Really Want Economic Equality? – Not Beyond Our Borders)
  7. Ideology – Could the dominate religion force their beliefs on everyone else? Could women subjugate men?  Could children rule adults?  Could tribes require everyone join one or the other tribes?  What about sworn enemies and long-standing disputes?
  8. Leadership – How would we choose leaders? – “friends” or “likes?” How would we manage and coordinate in natural and man-made crises?  Who would set the agenda and propositions?

I could go on, but why should I?  This naïve notion that democracy answers all questions and needs is useless and worthless.  How many countries, and how many people do not live in democracies?  Why should they change? How have they managed all these eons without an 18th century innovation?

Most of the world has no idea of plurality.  Why should they prefer democracy to the structure they have now?  Civilization evolved to meet the conditions of life.  Witness the mayhem in the Middle East where we have imposed democracy.  Ethnic and religious strongmen immediately launched deadly, exhausting conflicts to take control.  Consider Africa, the Balkans, and Venezuela.  Civilization is not uniform or universal.

MoveOn’s self-styled, credentialed Olympians have not thought beyond selfie fund raising, as the TV interview revealed.  Please, progressives, do not let these people seduce or represent you.

Their fantasies do make a pretty song though (John Lennon, Imagine).

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Media Magnifying Glass – More Like a Fun-House Mirror

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Disasters, accidents, violent events, novelties, and scandals sell news.  Human nature compels us to gawk when we drive past an auto accident.  Danger, violence, and death attract us.  We “try on” the situation as if it is happening to us.  If our imagination is vivid enough, we experience what we see.  Our adrenal glands secrete cortisol, which gets us ready to freeze, fight, or flee.  The media know this well, and play to that part of our nature.  The more they succeed, the more fearful and suspicious we become.  Common sense tells us to lock our doors and cars, and take other wise precautions.  But, exaggerated fear-based stories lack context and perspective.

Gun Violence

Fifty-million Americans own more than 300 million guns.  We see the gun violence on TV and read about the terrible incidents of people dying. We hear about the mounting toll of Chicago’s homicide victims.  That does not mean you can expect more gun violence in your neighborhood.  It does not mean that every owner of a gun is a menace to you or your family.  The statistics sound horrific until you realize how vast America is and how many people live here.  The US population is over 323 million today.

Race      Pop.   %
Total 323,515,021 100%
White & Hispanic 232,943,055 73.6%
Black 44,908,095 12.6%
Other 50,663,871 13.8%

Below is a table of firearm death facts.

Firearm Deaths
  Total Black White & Hispanic
Homicide 17,250 7,881 6,576
Suicide 21,000 1,152 16,980
Police      500    233      267
Accidents      800    400      400
Total 33,900 9,666 24,223
% 100% 28.5%   71.5%

I broke the figures down by race because news about guns often revolves around race.  Note that blacks were 28.5% of the victims, which is more than double the 12.6% of the population who are black.  The FBI statistics show that 90% of black homicides were shot by blacks; likewise, 90% of white homicides  were shot by whites.  Gangs were responsible for most of the  homicides, while attacking other gangs, or committing  crimes.

Gunshot injuries 2015 were 85,000, according to CDC.  Total dead and injured 118,900.  Divide 118,900 by 300 million = .04%.  That means that 99.96% of guns did no harm.  That same total divided by 50 million gun owners = .24% were involved.  That means 99.76% of gun owners did no harm.

Police Shootings

Police shot 963 in 2016; 233 were black; of those all but 16 were armed.  The news media make it seem like hundreds of white police officers are shooting unarmed black men. A new study, “Do White Police Officers Unfairly Target Black Suspects?” used details of 2,699 police shootings 2013-2015 from 1,500 police departments around the country to discover:

  1. Black officers killed unarmed black suspects at a significantly higher rate than white or Hispanic officers.
  2. Both black and white police officers kill unarmed black suspects with higher probability than unarmed white or Hispanic suspects
  3. White police officers are not more likely than black officers, to kill black suspects.
  4. Hispanic police officers are significantly less likely to kill black suspects than either black or white officers.
  5. No evidence of significant racial discrimination on the part of white police officers with respect to black suspects.

John R. Lott, Jr and Carlisle E. Moody
College of William & Mary and the Crime Prevention Research Center
July 21, 2017

Here is a link to the study: https://goo.gl/xqI4bu (Unless you are a statistician, their paper can be daunting)

People “of Politics” Underestimate Trump

The underdog populist, Donald Trump enlists seasoned veterans of the establishment for his insurgency.  Do not underestimate the “swamp-power” behind his crusade.

The British underestimated George Washington, who was a veteran officer of the British forces that fought the French and Indian War.  He attracted a cadre of experienced men, and the support of Lafayette.

The Union Generals underestimated Robert E. Lee who was a top graduate of the United States Military Academy and an exceptional officer and military engineer in the United States Army for 32 years. He used his abilities to outmaneuver his enemies despite their immense superiority in men and weapons.

Both knew the other side from the inside; that is how they won.

There are some neophytes, but many “inside-the-beltway” professionals, in Trump’s camp.  Yes, there is entropy, as the elite scramble to understand the America they assumed they knew.  But there is also transformation.  Many entrenched politicians are pushing buttons that always worked before, (rather more like the Regency Bell Pull), to no avail.  The old ways can work against the establishment, when used by masters of “the system.”

Information is the ammunition for both side’s cannons.  As the prestige leaders of government take sides, the balance of power swings back and forth between extremes.  The media is the battleground of taking sides.  The Left singles out Fox News as the Devil of the Right, ignoring the giant counterbalance of media favoring the Left.

Recent reports on the inside shenanigans of the DNC to assure Hillary Clinton would defeat Bernie Sanders are a fitting example of the underhanded fighting within one party.  The rancor among Senate Republican leaders and the President is suicidal.  The Tea Party and the populist movement battle against the “safe-district” Republican incumbents.

The point is, the blandishments of both sides favoring themselves and the apoplectic, demeaning, political ridicule of both sides is dehumanizing and embarrassing.  We would be wise to put down our clubs and sharp-pointed sticks, and resume civilization.  Who believes that damaging another member of our community, somehow enhances our community?  Who knows other individuals who exemplify the crude deprecations flooding the Internet?  I do not have any of the menacing characteristics attributed to either party.  Anyone who knows me knows that.

Go get to know some people outside of your clannish prejudices; you might be surprised how few monsters live here.

 

 

 

Virtual Fahrenheit 451 – No Part of History Is Good Enough

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“Fahrenheit 451 – the temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns…”.

In Ray Bradbury’s prescient 1953 novel, the government made the past illegal. Guy Montag is a “fireman” employed to burn the possessions of those who read outlawed books.  They even had book-sniffing robots to find homes with hidden books.

When Guy becomes despondent over the meaning of his work, his fire chief explains that, “over the course of several decades, people embraced new media (in this case, film, and television), sports, and a quickening pace of life.  Books were ruthlessly abridged or degraded to accommodate a short attention span, while minority groups protested over the controversial, outdated content perceived to be found in literature (yet comic books, trade papers, and sex magazines were allowed to stay, as those fed into the population’s want for mindless entertainment).”  People would watch the “parlor walls” (large televisions) with visiting friends instead of conversation.

We are now in the throes of a virtual Fahrenheit 451.  The need for burning books has become moot with the advent of ubiquitous, mesmerizing “screens.”  Evidence:

  1. Generations of high school graduates who show increasing ignorance, apathy, and illiteracy; they are ill-equipped for self-sufficiency, yet they excel at World of Warcraft, and Grand Theft Auto.
  2. People without enough money for food, have cellphones, and giant high-definition televisions, with cable. They read little and text a lot.  Everything is Facebook, selfies, videos, and soon virtual reality.
  3. Minority groups are protesting the controversial facts of our history. For example, the Fairfax County, Virginia school board just renamed my high school, J.E.B. Stuart High School, Justice High School.  (I can just imagine my next class reunion.)  Why?  Because he was an officer in the Confederate army.  Does anyone believe the Confederacy won the war?  Does anyone not see the tragedy of 600,000 lives lost as a lesson in pain?  Why remove the reminders?

What is next?  Will we remove the Civil War from our libraries?  Will museums take down every work of art with elements of that part of our nation’s history?  Will schools bury the history of slavery and the people responsible?

When will we hold accountable the Africans who sold tens of millions of other African as slaves to the entire world? https://goo.gl/EXnyGT

Were they not even more responsible for the misery of those slaves and their progeny?

Ignoring or censoring history will neither change the past, nor the consequences of what happened.  It will leave us less aware of the truth; a type of cultural dementia.  We must resist becoming a world of virtual Fahrenheit 451.

Hate & Fear & Populists  

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October 27, 1775 – King George addresses parliament calling for action to quell the beginnings of rebellion in America.

“many of these unhappy people may still retain their loyalty, and may be too wise not to see the fatal consequence of this usurpation, and wish to resist it, yet the torrent of violence has been strong enough to compel their acquiescence, till a sufficient force shall appear to support them.”

This is the same attitude we witness among today’s politicians who have us under “royal ” control, BAU, (business as usual), believing in & relying on “those who know best.”

Our founders designed a democratic republic to systemically thwart the chains of aristocracy they came here to escape.

Look at the entrenched power structure that rides the cumulative power and wealth of America.  Has the plight of the poor, the minorities, the weak, and the sick dramatically  improved in our lifetimes?  Have politicians convinced constituents of perpetual problems only government can overcome?

The pain of the financial recession has bared the truth.  The elite are just playing the rest of us.  They cannot fix anything.  They talk like saviors, then point fingers at bogeymen (special interests, lobbyists, extraterrestrials) .  They hate exposure; like vampires, they shun the light of transparency; they cannot stand the clear failure of government to solve the problems of individuals; they loathe the idea that citizens might discover that they must solve their own problems without government help.

I hear the ghost of George III reverberating through the words of living ex-presidents and other ivory-tower pundits damning those who do not subscribe to their tried but not true ways.

Can populism go wrong?  Of course it can, just as the elite back-room cabal can go wrong by doing nothing, or doing what favors the establishment.  We are missing the ideas our founding fathers cast into our governing framework:  knowledgeable citizens should decide who makes choices for them, when they cannot.

Julius Caesar was killed by senators  for planning to take power from the people, instead of doing what the Roman people wanted.

What About the Other Slaves? – Before, During, & After Slavery

In 21st Century America, we have extinguished open slavery of the centuries past.

It seems that ISIS still has slavery as part of their culture.  For a discussion of modern and historical slavery, go to  https://goo.gl/e5bNUz  .

New covert forms of slavery have arisen, including sex trafficking, and domestic servant trafficking.  We have not found a way to conquer cruelty and greed.

But what about those past centuries?  What about the entire world history of slavery?  Slavery, in various forms, was common and accepted in the most primitive of pre-historic cultures.  Most slaves were captured from defeated communities.  One of the intentions of war, was to capture people for religious sacrifice, unpaid labor, and involuntary sex.

 Read more about the history of slavery for perspective.  https://goo.gl/emJoUk

African slave traders sold captives from all sources, including those they kidnapped themselves.  Africa made itself the source of slaves for the known world for centuries.

Sometimes our news implies that America was the only home of the not-free.  Sometimes the descendants of slaves point to the progeny of slave owners and to people who came later and had no connection to slavery whatsoever, and accuse them of the crimes of the past.  Racism groups people by categories and treats everyone in that category as if they were homogenous, related, cohorts of prescribed mind and body.  I reject racism, as I reject slavery.  But, some see racism as a perpetuation of slavery.  I will not debate these ideas, but I will shed the light of history on slavery; especially the African slaves sent to the Western Hemisphere, in “slavers,” under the cruelest conditions.

slaversSlave ships were inhumanly cruel.  It was common for more than 15% to die en route.
sourcese of african slavesAfricans captured slaves from the darkened areas, and marched them to the ports to be sold.

With the discovery of the New World, the invading countries needed vast amounts of labor, well beyond the available indigenous people.  The slave traders shifted to the west, as this map shows.

african slaves

Look at the numbers and proportions of slave buying nations.  North America received 4.4% of the 12 million African slaves, while the Spanish, British, French, Dutch and Brazilians of South America and the West Indies received 95%. I wonder what happened to them?

 

When Dementia Gets Personal – Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Brought To You

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A friend for 30 years (I will use the name” Jason”) goes ballistic; Jason verbally attacks me, ranting and raving with scary yelling and gestures.  The trigger:  I have no opinions about the significance of the day after Halloween (All Saints’ Day).  The next day Jason calls like nothing happened; I remind him, he swears he does not remember; we have a normal, friendly talk, so,  I write the outburst off as several  “senior moments.”

The next week a group of mutual friends and I are at a weekly lunch meeting.  We are chatting about faux pas and embarrassing mistakes we have made.  One friend (let’s call him “Chad”) tells a humorous story about when he sent an email to his boss that was a passionate message to his wife.  We laugh and tease him, like guy friends always do.

Suddenly, Jason raises his voice and wags a finger at this “stupid screw-up.”  He rails and berates Chad until Chad gets up and walks out of the restaurant.  Then Jason follows Chad into the parking lot and beats on his window, still yelling.  Five minutes later, he comes back, smiles at everyone, and asks me if I can stay after lunch to talk about an idea he has for a photography business.  He was clear and pleasant the whole time; he was the friend I know again.

Jason’s problem becomes traumatically real to me.  Alzheimer’s, or bipolar, schizophrenia, mad cow disease, I am at a complete loss.  Does he have a brain tumor?  Has he taken some mood-altering drugs?  Is he still going to be the friend I have known all these years?  Is he some kind of hybrid being, who “identifies” differently some days, or hours?  Has old age stolen his mind?  I am confused, sad, and worried.  What should I do?

My nature is to research problems before I act.  I discover that his condition is probably medical.  Advancing age is fraught with declines, distortions, amplifications of who we are.  What people dread most, is not death; it is the loss of independence and identity.

My research yielded interesting, enlightening, conflicting, and vague ideas.  The mysteries of Alzheimer’s and Grumpy Old Man syndrome are beyond us now.  I am going to make the best suggestions I can to give Jason a chance to live independently, to retain his self-respect, and to let his friends know when he needs them.

Phase 1.  Find out what he can about what is happening to him.  Whatever it takes to know what he is dealing with.  Doctors, tests, interviews, and the lot of modern medicine.  Most likely, they will be semi-inconclusive.  Mood shifts, forgetting, risk taking, those are the symptoms.  Jason will have to choose a path, a theory, a diagnosis he can pursue.  He cannot do everything, but he can do some things.

Phase 2.  Implement the universal common denominators of healthy lifestyle.  All bids for health share wellness and mindfulness as crucial, non-pharmaceutical elements (although medication might be needed for some things).

  • Complete examination
  • Enough good:
    • Sleep
    • Hydration
    • Exercise
    • Nutrition
  • Stable daily routines
  • Thinking/learning/puzzles
  • Stress management/mindfulness
  • Social/spiritual support

Phase 3.  Comply with doctors’ orders.  Try everything long enough to be a fair trial.

  • Take all prescribed medications when and how the prescriptions direct.
  • Show up for appointments and tests
  • Give regular feedback on efficacy of treatments

Phase 4.  Accept your mortality.

  • We all exit this world, unexpectedly. Be gracious until then
  • We all get to choose our friends, revere who we love, and forgive our families
  • Acknowledge your family, friends, doctors
  • Add to that acknowledgement list
  • Do not hold back because you feel vulnerable or embarrassed

I do not think we can guess who will be our Jason, or to whom we will be a Jason.  Maybe these thoughts could help.