Rajneesh

Mariner was a Methodist pastor during the 1960’s. He was interested in philosophical direction at the time; it was indeed a time of crossroads in contemporary thoughts about secularism, socialism, capitalism, theism, and the role in general of belief systems in modern society. For a college theology assignment, mariner researched an Indian philosopher named, for short, Rajneesh.

Rajneesh was sort of a rebel religious philosopher in India espousing normal Indian mysticism and spiritualism but Rajneesh injected a thread of spiritual humanism that made him known in the western world as well. Mariner has not thought of Rajneesh since his college days. Rajneesh is brought to mind by an article in this week’s New Yorker email.

The most efficient analysis of his approach to spiritualism is to examine his effort to write his own ten commandments (very much a restrictive western gesture). Bless Wikipedia for having Rajneesh’s ten commandments clearly presented!

1.Never obey anyone’s command unless it is coming from within you also.

2.There is no God other than life itself.

3.Truth is within you, do not search for it elsewhere.

4.Love is prayer.

5.To become a nothingness is the door to truth. Nothingness itself is the means, the goal and attainment.

6.Life is now and here.

7.Live wakefully.

8.Do not swim—float.

9.Die each moment so that you can be new each moment.

10.Do not search. That which is, is. Stop and see.

Bring a copy of the commandments to your next Sunday School class for discussion. Mariner guarantees there will be discussion. Certain commandments, particularly 5, 8, 9 and 10, can raise the blood pressure of western capitalists; socialists struggle with 3, 5 and 6; theists are stopped by 1, 2, 3 and 6; western society in general finds 5 an anathema.

Mariner gleaned many sermons from Rajneesh by integrating his spiritual elements with western pragmatism.

Being a bit older, mariner has in his mental library many forgotten moments to discover again. Welcome back, Rajneesh.

Ancient Mariner

 

Immigration is not a one-thought issue

The growing proportion of older adults throughout Europe, many parts of Asia (particularly Japan, South Korea and China) and North America are outpacing the population of young people. This gray population explosion is due, in part, to extended longevity, but also due to dramatic declines in fertility – the number of children per female. Fertility rates in many nations are well below the necessary level of 2.1 children per female to simply maintain the population. For example, Australia and Brazil share a fertility rate of 1.7 children per female, China has dropped to 1.6, Japan and Germany are at 1.4, and even the relatively young United States is at 1.87. In short, the world’s most industrialized nations as well as many of the planet’s developing economies are witnessing an unprecedented drop in the number of children. While fewer children presents a number of social questions such as the availability of a robust workforce and general economic growth – the birth dearth also portends a troubling future of caring for an aging society.[1]

Mariner has come across a number of websites and magazine articles that have raised the issue of imbalanced demographics. It is proven and certainly true across the industrialized world. Which leads to mariner’s puzzlement as to why the United States – especially Congress and the President – seem so determined to prevent immigration. The truth is the US needs young people even if they aren’t white Christians. The President brags about the unemployment rate being low; this is due to two phenomena: (1) good jobs are disappearing and workers are taking jobs at a fraction of their former salary, which removes them from the unemployment number (2) the US is running out of workers.

The American workforce is in a downward spiral. Many politicians tout retraining the US workforce but no plan and no funding are available. Further, the public education system has been financially starved for generations and requires immense intellectual and financial improvement to even be able to address the issue.

Perhaps some time in the future under the guidance of a different President and a different Congress, we may properly address the issue of immigration, job readiness, and education.

Today’s Congress is too busy garnering personal wealth. Today’s President is incompetent.

Ancient Mariner

[1] http://bigthink.com/disruptive-demographics/will-robots-replace-our-children

The Arrested Donald and other Important Matters

Mariner has been overwhelmed by the presence of Donald in a twenty-first century Presidency. Mariner hasn’t said much this past year other than a few asides in the midst of other topics. It has become blatantly obvious as Donald’s term runs past a year in office, that Donald has two dysfunctional attributes: Donald is a victim of arrested development. Donald has developed a narcissistic personality.

Mariner isn’t sure what causes arrested development, whether its nature or nurture or both. (Some breeds of dogs are deliberately bred not to ever mature) In any case, its mariner’s opinion that Donald stopped developing around the age of eight. An eight year old is familiar with few policies other than loyalty and deflecting blame. If those readers who are parents can think back to when their child was eight years old, the child’s vocabulary and sentence structure, the simplistic view of behavior, the inappropriate bravado, the shortsighted reasoning, the dependence on fantasy, one will realize Donald is an eight year old.

It is unfortunate that Donald was raised in an intensely strict family. From birth his behavior was irregular; flaunting his prowess by bullying, challenging rules of behavior and, like his father, using belittlement as a weapon, Donald was a problem child from birth. At thirteen, Donald was expelled from his family by the father, sending Donald to a military school where discipline was harsh.

The father was obsessed with winning. If a child didn’t win, the child was belittled. How does a small child survive in this destructive situation? Become narcissistic. Regardless of reality, regardless of the father’s derision, regardless of growing difficulty in social situations, Donald saw himself as a successful child and always a winner. Being narcissistic, Donald easily can assume that Donald and winning is the same thing. He truly believes in his own mind that bad news and lack of performance are the fault of someone else – fantasy is a handy tool provided by being eight years old. Defaming and belittling others is a defense mechanism typical of an eight year old.

The simplistic ethical structure of an eight year old combined with the absence of empathy in narcissism, yields one Donald Trump. Donald has been and will continue to be destructive. It is difficult to imagine Donald’s motivations for his behavior. His motivations are far simpler than normal adults would imagine; pundits, journalists and the press in general fall into this trap: overthinking Donald. Donald’s ‘loyalty’ to Russia and all that entails, likely is based on the simple idea that his election may be overturned if it is proven that Russia hacked the election. Otherwise, following the money and uncovering shady business deals reveals Donald’s normal environment – he is a member of the oligarchy run from Russia preying on most of the old USSR. Donald wants the sanctions lifted for the same reason Putin does – sleazy profits.

– – – –

Nevertheless and regardless and to any length – Donald will cause damage to the intellectual force of the United States. But Donald is not the real danger. The real danger is Congress – and by default the Republican Party. Due process, mediation of any kind, civic mindedness – all have disappeared even before Donald came on the scene. Adding Donald to the selfish whims of the GOP has exposed the party for the self-righteous, money-driven, and fragmented entity it has become. Several of mariner’s more thoughtful resources have gone so far as to call for dissolving Congress, holding a special election for every seat in both houses. An article in The Atlantic makes an uncharacteristic plea to the electorate: do not vote for a republican!

A sound, public minded Republican Party would have squeezed Donald out of election politics when he provoked birtherism. Racism always has been an Achilles heel for republicans but using racist remarks on the campaign trail is not helpful in winning a majority of voters. Additionally, a struggling right wing of the party has been able to bring the Republican-held House to a standstill. With audacity, Congressional leaders (Republican) turn to the democrats seeking votes for legislation antithetical to democrats.

Who can fix Russian intervention in US elections? Congress.

Who can fix gerrymandering? Congress.

Who can eliminate cash-driven elections? Congress.

Who can remove lobbyist control of legislation? Congress.

Who can assist transition from fossil fuels to alternative energy? Congress.

Who can regulate banks and Wall Street to play fair? Congress.

Who can mediate international politics? Congress.

Well, perhaps not.

Ancient Mariner

 

Public Education – a Look at the Battleground

Since the founding of the United States, public education always has been an orphan child amid governments and private institutions. Government budgets grudgingly admit there is a national responsibility to assure the nation is prepared for the society at hand. But budgeting falls far short of what educationists call a sustained philosophy of education. Symptoms are both conceptual and budgetary. Teachers are grossly underpaid in terms of their influence on children, on the need for sophisticated communication skills, on the required level of contemporary, continuing education, on resources, and in perspective, their role in sustaining an aggressive, competitive, and culturally mature nation. School architecture, forever looking like factories and prisons, confirms the disregard for investment, vision, invention, and genuine interest in the progress and importance of public education.

The private sector lauds its success in creating exemplary educational institutions similar to Ivy League private schools, which cater to more elite and proven achievers and tout fiscal success dependent on massive endowments and trusts – but disown the problem laden responsibilities facing the US population in general. In secondary schools, gerrymandering is as prevalent as it is in election precincts. Private and special curriculum secondary school boards work constantly to avoid being accountable for ‘public’ education by drawing school districts every bit as skewed as voting districts and, in typical fashion in an election, making application to be a student as difficult as possible.

The concept of ‘for profit’ schools, that is, a private firm contracts with the government to set curricula, set the budget, and do this with the aim of pocketing profit at the end must, by the very nature of the model, compromise student learning in deference to profit. That the ‘for profit’ model survives speaks to the indifference of legislators when setting public education budgets.

An emerging member on the education battleground is the corporation. Corporations have no choice but to have access to socially adapted and specially educated employees. In light of the indifference by government and private interest, corporations have no choice but to develop proprietary education programs. Just as with other players engaged in education, corporations feel no accountability for public education beyond corporate need.

The truth of the matter, at least in the United States, is no one wants to tackle the complexities of public education that must be resolved to elevate education to its functionally deserved station in society.

– – – –

There is another issue that will be present on the coming battleground: curriculum. Cathy Davidson, a leading voice in education, writes in “The New Education,” that the current model consisting of age-based grades, segregated subjects, trivia tests and student ranking, was created in 1853 when new accounting techniques were popular and everything suffered from intensive listing, pricing and product value – a movement related to a new economics called capitalism. Davidson complains, “That was 165 years ago. Things have changed.” Her book focuses on college education and suggests in the future four-year colleges may teach more like community colleges – especially trade instruction that puts together in a unified package “everything a student may need” to find a career.

The packaged curriculum has been utilized in singular institutions similar to Montessori and classless instruction in secondary schools, and in some community colleges. More specialized college curricula are emerging. Saint John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland has a curriculum based solely on reading a collection of classic books; Saint John students rank at the top in post graduate studies in subsequent institutions – including science and engineering.

Needless to say, the Internet stands alone as the primary cause for changing curricula. In the 1970’s mariner took a class in one of IBM’s education centers – then considered to be leading edge education for how to utilize computers in business. An instructor, whose name is long forgotten, said what’s different today (1970’s) is that information is free and fully available. Everyone has immediate access to all information. Just because you know a lot of detail isn’t the measure of worthiness – it’s how you apply the information that counts. That insight was known in the 1970’s and should have changed education methods then. But how does one rank students based on subjective application rather than process memorization? Is rank based on trivia testing passé?

– – – –

What deters anyone from wanting to solve the public education issue is its sociological quagmire. The old adage about leading a horse to water but not being able to make it drink looms large in the subject of education. Student motivation is not a constant. Further, everything from religion to job opportunity to distracting expectations to family circumstances brings rules, exceptions, disagreements, and specific mandates to the classroom. Public education does not have the advantage of discriminatory student selection; public education cannot recognize financial status; public education does not generate capital gains for public education. Yet, public education must deliver millions of children and adults to the cultural marketplace prepared for success.

Everyone knows the world lives on the cusp of the largest shift in culture in all of human history. The definition of virtually everything is unravelling on a day-to-day basis. Cultural stability will depend on being prepared to comprehend and participate in a montage of unknown values. At the moment, the education industry does not prepare the common citizen for survival. Society hangs in the balance.

The battleground lies ready for a skirmish.

Ancient Mariner

Matters of Preponderance

Mariner receives from a relative each year at Christmas a calendar with daily sayings. The theme tends to be ethereal, whimsical, transcendental and often profound. Mariner confesses most sayings leave him puzzled or blank in reaction. Still, there are many that provoke obscure thought.

For the weekend, February 3 and 4, two sayings were offered:

“I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility that existence has its own reason for being”

– Wislawa Szymborska. (Maria Wisława Anna Szymborska was a Polish poet, essayist, translator and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature.)

“If we don’t turn around now, we just may get where we’re going”

– Native American saying.

Both sayings piqued mariner’s curiosity. The two are as far apart as one can imagine. The first truly is profound and runs amok in the Cosmos while the other is pragmatic, skeptical and of the moment.

Examining the second saying first, the Native American saying, mariner is reminded of the current advertisement on television showing a rookery of penguins marching across the endless miles of Antarctic ice sheets back to their nesting area. Two penguins, however, are using a GPS device to find their way and seem to have taken a different path. Finally, the penguins reset their destination and are advised that they will arrive in 92 days.

Similarly, mariner often tells a story in his sermons about the housewife who, when baking a whole ham, would always cut away a significant portion before baking the ham. Her daughter asked, “Why do you cut off the end?” “Oh,” her mother said, “that’s how Grandma always does it.” Later, when the mother and daughter were visiting Grandma, the daughter took the opportunity to ask Grandma why she cut the ham: “Because the pan is too small,” Grandma replied.

Ingrained habit has its dark side. Mariner’s grandmother, a feisty German immigrant, would reject an individual with great ire if they suggested a better way to do a habitual task. It is human nature to allocate as much thoughtless behavior as possible to the deep reaches of the basal ganglia – a part of the brain that runs habitual behavior without need for logic or reconsideration. One has many, many gestures and emotional reactions that are thoughtlessly launched from the basal ganglia. Does one follow an instruction list when using the toilet? Virtually every gesture is thoughtless and automatic. To prove it, try wiping yourself with the opposite hand; raise that zipper with the opposite hand. Disrupt enough habitual gestures and a person will find themselves lost as to what to do next. Like the penguins, which relied too long on the automatic nature of their GPS without considering reality, they got where they were going because they didn’t turn around.

The heart of the matter is that long held emotions and attitudes also reside in the basal ganglia and are launched thoughtlessly. Consider any prejudice – take racism or class rejection or personal arrogance; like the housewife cutting the ham, reason is not in play. In fact, one would be unable to leave the house to go to work except that the majority of emotions, gestures and opinions are automatically deployed. At least a person has space in their frontal cortex to solve Sudoku. Evaluate your habits once in a while or you may get where you’re going.

– – – –

The first saying, about a reason for existence, defies thinking about functional values as reasons to exist. This is not an exercise solved with an instruction list. Wislawa’s wish is more in despair than it is in pursuit of obscure philosophical speculation. One hears loss and waste in her words.

The twenty-first century has started with unimaginable confusion in a time when everything we know about the Earth and the life living on that Earth is under stress – both physically and existentially. To twist a trite commercial saying, this is not your father’s world; it may not even be the father’s world mentioned in the Christian hymnal. Whatever reason existence has to exist, it blessed Wislawa by calling her home in 2012 – before Donald.

Ancient Mariner

 

To Every Thing There is a Season

Mariner opened his email account to read new mail. He opened the New Yorker email to find a sad, poetic article by David Remnick. It is about the slow decline of football. Mariner played football from the age of eleven to twenty-nine in recreation leagues, high school, college and semi-pro. It was and still is an important emotional base in his life. Older men regret loss of the capability or right to have sex, smoke cigars, drink bourbon, lift very heavy objects and climb ladders . . . mariner, too, suffers these absences and further he regrets that never again will he play football.

Yet, the truth is out; football can and usually does cause C.T.E. (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). A long list of mental inabilities is included in CTE, most of them end in death. Parents are asking the same question posed about boxing decades ago only this time it’s about football: Do you want your kids to play football?

It is a kind eulogy, like petting a dying dog gently on the head. Mariner recommends the pleasure of reading David’s article. See:

 https://www.newyorker.com/news/sporting-scene/footballs-long-eclipse?mbid=nl_Daily%20020318%20Control&CNDID=49421095&spMailingID=12871100&spUserID=MTg3Njg2NDM4MTg0S0&spJobID=1340252035&spReportId=MTM0MDI1MjAzNQS2

Ancient Mariner

 

 

Walking as a Cultural Phenomenon

When was the last time you rode a horse to the Post Office, elementary school, fast food restaurant, relatives, friends or a nearby shopping district? Probably not for a long time if ever. Most likely you ride in or on a vehicle. Walk? Poo – who has time to walk? Walking is for health obsessives and retired people. However, it is true that the most important physical function of Homo sapiens is walking. Walking was our survival tool back in the early days; we could walk all day without stopping. Still present today are parts of the brain that lie idle until you walk.

Walking has more benefits than lifting weights, yoga, meditation, housework, gardening – even swimming. None of these are bad; in fact if you pursue them, continue! But walking is magical. The whole brain – conscious and unconscious, troubled and untroubled, thinking and unthinking, healthy and unhealthy – knows immediately when you begin to walk. At a proper pace, walking even induces meditation, leaving the rest of the brain to pay attention to the erstwhile idle walking instructions.

The benefits of walking have been proven over and over and over again. The health industry is rife with advice to patients to walk. Mariner went to Mayo Clinic recently with four diverse conditions in mind. Every physician said walking will improve mariner’s situation.

Why don’t we walk as part of our daily routine? Time. Time is why we don’t darn socks anymore, don’t have clothes that should be ironed, prefer to survive on frozen, ready-to-eat meals, order everything online instead of using storefronts, use Interstates instead of US highways, put up with abuse when flying, driving one’s self and the kids to a neighborhood event instead of walking, on and on . . . except watching television. We always have time for television from 5:00AM to 2:00AM; certainly there is no time to walk for Pete’s sake!

Actually, we all have time. It’s just not how we do things. Using mariner’s town and family as an example, we do drive everywhere even though walking anywhere in town is not a great effort. Two things must occur: 1, slow the day down. Believe it or not, everything still will be accomplished. 2, if your destination is within a mile or two, walk instead of drive. In mariner’s town this applies to the bank, Post Office, laundry, three family households, library, churches, golf course, convenience store, discount store, lumber yard, fair grounds, car garages, etc. In our town, we can walk to two gas stations. Simply make time in your time-driven schedule to walk as part of your daily experience. Simply say to your family as you leave, “I’m walking to the Post Office.”

Mariner will not engage in the detailed chemistry or benefits of walking – information is everywhere; just type ‘benefits of walking’ in your search engine or go to your library.

If mariner must walk, you must walk, too.

Ancient Mariner

Old Testament Christians in America

Politico.com headlined an article about millions of voters who believe God arranged for Donald to be President. It turns out it was primarily Pentecostals early in his campaign. Still, polls show a lot more citizens than just Pentecostals believe God interceded (He must have His reasons). The theme ‘Make America Great Again’ has a lot to do with Pentecostal support and with other fundamentalist-leaning believers who have an increasingly difficult time as American culture drifts left.

An interceding God who would do such things as impose Donald on a population is a God the vast majority of Americans accept. It is rare to visit with an individual who believes God is an unchanging, nonjudgmental power of love that does not interfere with our daily lives but requires us to use God’s power to improve the wellbeing of everyone – including ourselves. The disturbing issue to mariner is that it is the Old Testament God who plays pranks like anointing Donald. It is the Hebrew God – a theology that dates back to when theology and faith were just beginning to coalesce.

Mariner could find no polls specific to the preference for an interceding God or a God with a universal, constant presence that leaves history to humans. Based on his readings and personal experiences over a lifetime, mariner speculates that Christian believers in the New Testament (Christian) God are at best 1 in every 500; 1 in every 5000 if nonbelievers (called ‘nons’ today) are counted.

Aside from the Trinity being irrelevant when one believes God can play with history, God immediately becomes our own belief in who God is. If God is not a singular, universal presence, then God can have opinions – maybe opinions just like each of us. God can be prejudiced, racist, allow wealth to reflect faith – just like each of us. We end up believing in ourselves – conveniently blaming a sham God if things don’t go our way.

All of us are aware that theology of any kind is under stress today. We must be careful not to humanize our theology else there is no ultimate truth to our being. One will have only one’s self to be God.

Ancient Mariner

 

REFERENCE SECTION 1-26-18

Today’s post is all reference section. It is composed of three distinct areas of interest: Gerrymandering, Philip K. Dick, fiction writer, and successfully cloned monkeys.

– – – –

Gerrymandering

It is excellent news that Nate Silver, mariner’s preferred statistician and odds maker at www.fivethirtyeight.com, is sponsoring a detailed look at gerrymandering. His staff has launched a project called “The Gerrymandering Project.” It made its first splash today and is, in typical 538 style, loaded with insight and detail that is free of political nuance. For example, it states that there are many ways to skin a rabbit when it comes to new thoughts about how to fix gerrymandering. The ‘Project’ looks at six models:

To maximize the number of usually Democratic districts

To maximize the number of usually Republican districts

To make the partisan breakdown of states’ House seats proportional to the electorate

To promote highly competitive elections

To maximize the number of districts in which one minority group makes up the majority of the voting-age population in the district (what we’ll refer to as a majority-minority district)

To be compact while splitting as few counties as possible

If ever, ever, ever mariner wished his readers would click on a link, this is the one: http://fivethirtyeight.com/tag/the-gerrymandering-project/?ex_cid=TheGerrymanderingProject . Load this website in your favorites.

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Philip K. Dick

Our overall attitude about life is blended with many current events that defy definition. Philip Kindred Dick was an American science fiction writer who wrote during the psychological turmoil of the sixties – the Age of Aquarius. Dick explored philosophical, social, and political themes in his novels with plots dominated by monopolistic corporations, alternative universes, authoritarian governments, and altered states of consciousness. His work reflected his personal interest in metaphysics and theology, and often drew upon his life experiences in addressing the nature of reality, identity, drug abuse, schizophrenia, and transcendental experiences. Dick is chronicled in an article in the Boston Review, a literary magazine online and on Facebook. An excerpt is reproduced below:

“Standard utopias and standard dystopias are each perfect after their own particular fashion. We live somewhere queasier—a world in which technology is developing in ways that make it increasingly hard to distinguish human beings from artificial things. The world that the Internet and social media have created is less a system than an ecology, a proliferation of unexpected niches, and entities created and adapted to exploit them in deceptive ways.

Vast commercial architectures are being colonized by quasi-autonomous parasites. Scammers have built algorithms to write fake books from scratch to sell on Amazon, compiling and modifying text from other books and online sources such as Wikipedia, to fool buyers or to take advantage of loopholes in Amazon’s compensation structure. Much of the world’s financial system is made out of bots—automated systems designed to continually probe markets for fleeting arbitrage opportunities. Less sophisticated programs plague online commerce systems such as eBay and Amazon, occasionally with extraordinary consequences, as when two warring bots bid the price of a biology book up to $23,698,655.93 (plus $3.99 shipping).

In other words, we live in Philip K. Dick’s future, not George Orwell’s or Aldous Huxley’s.”

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China has cloned Long-Tailed Macaques – a fellow primate. Let’s jump right to hyper speed paranoia. Artificial Intelligence will control society; now, computers, if they need a human, can make their own! How long will it be before naturally bred Homo sapiens will be extinct? Get a job in 2085? Hah! The NFL needn’t worry about dementia; just clone another left tackle! Harmony.com will offer spouses made to order from a catalogue. Forget those antique mechanical Stepford Wives; get the real thing at Macy’s!

Like we don’t have enough change already.

The cloning is in the news right now. Most major newspapers cover the event. Try online at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/science/ct-clone-monkeys-20180124-story.html

Ancient Mariner

 

Whence Compromise?

Below is a ‘two feet on the ground’ quote from the National Public Radio (NPR) website:

“….Democrats call them “American dreamers,” Republicans call them “illegal immigrants.” Democrats say they should be allowed legal status. Republicans say no, they are here illegally and need to go — or their status should be part of a larger immigration overhaul that limits and controls future immigration.

Who Will Carry The Blame For The Shutdown? Maybe No One.

Both sides say they have the American people with them as they struggle to end the government shutdown, and both are right — in a way.

Polls show at least three Americans in four agree the DACA population should have legal status to stay. But a clear majority of Americans also think it was not worth shutting the government down over DACA. That’s true too, and the shutdown is the issue of the moment, right?

Truth be told, neither party is ever in touch with all the American people, or even most of them. They are in touch with the people who voted for them or gave them money (or both) — or who are most likely to do so going forward.

They may say they hear America singing, but they are really only listening to their own section of the choir….”[1]

If we stand back far enough, we notice that the Federal Government is not capable of compromise; there is no dominance by a common-sense political center. From the end of WW II until about 1986, citizens were accustomed to common sense governance when the likes of Fulbright, Byrd, Kennedy, Baker, Humphrey, Dole, Biden, Rockefeller, Daschle, Bradley, Chaffee, LBJ, Dirksen and other moderates controlled the Senate. Deals were pragmatic, in the interest of the citizen majority, and (we may miss this more than anything) a half-hour breakfast between party leaders guaranteed a civic minded bill. It may be important to mention that until Nixon in 1968, Reagan in 1980 and Trump in 2016, Presidents were not demagogues.

Civic minded. Is that what is missing? It is true that an elected body reflects its electorate; are we not civic minded? We are not. We are cleaved by color, wealth, environment, entitlement, guns, religion, drugs, economy, war and basic human value. There is no common cause; there is no way to walk a straight line through all these differences – there is no common definition of America. It is no wonder other nations have begun to look askance at our leadership.

Today, as mariner writes this post, the Senate backed away from civic minded legislation. Both parties chose to salvage their party interests rather than step forward to a compromise that would move anything forward except a continuation of samo-samo: duck reality for another three weeks. The democrats caved rather than stand for moral principle; the republicans caved to the fringe right (Steve Miller) rather than stand for moral principle.

– – – –

Like changes in weather caused by global warming, government suffers increasing incompetency as it is overwhelmed by fragmented factions that do not represent the pragmatic center of our nation. Who is to draw the straight line across a fragmented populace? It is, of course, the citizens.

Start with state governments by eliminating gerrymandering. Political parties, as today’s news suggests, are not centrist in nature. The party comes first and any neutral process is challenged to serve the party’s best interest. Redistricting is severely abused by parties to control specific interests regardless of generic public interest. As a first step in restoring control of our democracy back to the electorate, and having the electorate at large decide what civil mindedness means, make redistricting an apolitical process.

Remove monetary influence from campaigns and from Congressional rules for appointment to important positions, which currently go to members who can raise the most party contributions to go along with length of membership. Monetary privilege will be difficult to stop. Like the proverbial snake, its head must be cut off. Eliminate political action committees; eliminate private donations from outside the district; require promotional advertising to be funded locally. In other words, force the candidate to come to the people, not to the special interests. This will stop corporate privilege in legislative processes and make citizens the more important influence.

Make voting tax deductible. As the leading democracy in the world, we are 27th in terms of voter turnout; only 47% of eligible voters voted in the Trump/Clinton election. Further, allow dropping voters from the roles if they didn’t vote in the two most recent sequential Presidential elections. Further, in addition to in person voting, permit 30-day early voting, voting by mail, email, and links to election sites.

Require civics education in high schools; require election overviews in community colleges; mandate universal holiday for all Federal and State elections. Prohibit campaign promotional sources outside the district.

Slowly, special interests have eliminated the common voter. If the voters want civic minded government, they must assure that their involvement in elections is the dominant influence.

Perhaps a strong moderate legislative process can return…

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] For full article, see: https://www.npr.org/2018/01/22/579397310/shutdown-question-who-s-out-of-touch-with-the-american-people?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20180122&utm_campaign=breakingnews&utm_term=nprnews