Generalisms

Mariner has been writing often about myths. Myths are a legitimate, indeed critical part of religious understanding; without myths, the indescribable spirituality we draw from our faith would not be possible. From the same box of tools for explanation is the generalism.

Everyone uses generalisms every day. We use generalisms to express opinion without having to give a lecture and in the context that offering the generalism does not mean it is absolute. A simple and innocuous example is:

Larry says, “Hello, Tom. I plan to have a Thanksgiving dinner this year. What do I need?” One knows instinctively that Larry does not want a half-dozen recipes dictated or directions to the library or a show and tell about Tom’s last four Thanksgiving dinners. Tom uses a general statement to offer Larry an opinion: “Oh, maybe the common items are a turkey, potatoes and gravy, some vegetables and desert, like a pumpkin pie.” A generalism is an excellent means for expressing a large, unofficial collection of information. It should be noted that a generalism is not an idea; it is an assimilation.

Like myths, while absolutely critical to insightful communication, generalisms can be abused:

One can adopt a literal value for a general statement. This is called prejudice. Good or bad in intention, a generalism is not a specific, formulated entity; making a general statement innately means there are many exceptions and diverse perspectives included – one cannot legislate by means of generalism. It is this error that confronts Donald at every turn. Further, one cannot live a healthy and insightful life trying to act according to a set of prejudices.

One cannot infer a further generalism from an existing generalism. That is the same as executing a split-middle in a syllogism: All cats are four-legged animals; all horses have four legs; therefore all horses are four-legged animals. The derived generalism: all animals have four legs; ducks are animals; therefore ducks have four legs.

However, it is this abuse, building a generalism referencing another generalism that is the foundation of racial prejudice in the US: Whites are successful; blacks are less successful; therefore blacks are not the same as whites. The derived generalism: Successful whites are ambitious; blacks are not as successful; therefore blacks are not as ambitious. One can imagine the multiplicity of prejudice by those who believe generalisms to be literally true.

Broadcast news has drifted from investigative reporting to information of viewer interest, that is, generalisms and placating viewers. This weakness has allowed Donald, among many other misrepresented issues, capable of running an entire campaign and Presidency leveraging generalisms. Donald’s flamboyant pontifications were the news – invalidated by facts. News organizations have lost credibility as a consequence; individuals and legislation hurtful to our culture succeed without scrutiny or public awareness. Generalisms are not always the proper form of communication for the task at hand.

Three cheers and a gold plaque for NBC White House press reporter Peter Alexander when he corrected Donald’s claim to have the Electoral College’s highest win votes in history since Ronald. Peter had done his investigative homework and called out Donald on his blatantly touted falsehood; Donald wasn’t even fourth. Asked how the public could have faith in him if he lies, Donald said someone else gave him the information. Except for Peter, would the public have accepted the generalism not knowing the facts that make the generalism false and self-serving?

Generalisms are not facts, they are presumptions.

Yet, because the public prefers not to spend time postulating and judging facts, generalisms are more entertaining therefore draw a larger viewer share. As the official prevaricator of information, broadcast news owes the public more than entertaining generalisms. A condition lasting several generations, the public will require therapy to restore the requirement for facts.

[The first news center was converted from a public service to a profit center in 1977 (20/20). By the late 80’s all news was competing for profit rather than better news based on facts.]

The public has become lax about being correctly informed – paradoxically, during an era when more facts are free, more information is quickly accessible and more available than ever. If the news won’t investigate, the viewer is vulnerable unless the viewer decomposes news generalisms into the ‘facts’ that may or may not support them.

Ancient Mariner

 

Do we at least still love our mothers?

In one way or another, the past three posts deal with H. sapiens’ relationship with the physical world. Other post series deal with H. sapiens’ treatment of fellow humans and some deal with how H. sapiens has allowed the machine ethic to take over theology, government, economic priority over life, and morality.

Just to highlight each subject:

Humans have started the sixth major extinction of life in the history of the planet.

Humans have destroyed the orderliness of the planet’s biosphere to the point humans will join other creatures in unnecessarily becoming extinct with them.

Humans have chemically altered the chemistry of the planet sufficiently to receive their own geologic epoch – the Anthropocene Epoch; Geologic epochs usually last two or three million years but humans ended the Holocene Epoch after just 11,500 years.

Economics continually grows more abusive to the planet population as international scope and computerization focus on an intense gathering of wealth for the few and in addition, without conscience increase the hardship on the quality of life for the rest.

Similarly, governments support corporate interests and refuse to openly and fairly care for all their citizens equally.

The measure of human worth and virtue is measured in dollars.

In sociology, a machine is any entity that is used to more easily achieve a goal. Machines can be a hammer, sunglasses, nuclear weapons, governments, organizations and prejudices. Humans have replaced religion with machines. Life according to a higher plane of existence and transcendent ethos is disappearing very rapidly. Today, it’s the machines that dictate morality.

Mariner believes this is overwhelming evidence that religion has been obliterated in the West; the East is catching up quickly. People today have lost faith in themselves which is what religion is all about. People chase the machines. It is a plastic world with no ethos, no reward for life, and no intrinsic value for achievement.

Consequently, the mariner will offer a generic religion starter kit for those who feel the absence of spiritual happiness.

 

RELIGION STARTER KIT

First, you need a god. How you envision god is very, very important. Many of you are aware that several practicing religions forbid any image of god – not even writing a name for god. There are two reasons for this: first, god has no shape; god is not a thing. God is a state of perfect being. Second, you can’t worship images, not even presumptions of images. The Jews call this Baal worship. The Christian Bible cites god in several places saying “you will have no other gods before me.” That includes pictures and words of god; they truly don’t look like god at all[1]. God is a singularity. This will have meaning in a moment.

Many religions have the same creation story where god creates a perfect world in a special location. God puts a male and most often a female at the location and they do something they aren’t supposed to do. This creation story is very important to the manner in which we utilize god in our lives. The story establishes something called ‘duality.’

Duality is a condition of existence. Everything – everything – has two or more sides or values. Examples: start and stop; top and bottom; light and dark; far and near; man and woman; good and evil, and so on. Do not try to find an exception. There is only one exception: god. In perfection, god cannot have more than one state of being. God by definition is a singularity.

Duality is our opportunity to sense more than one value for something. To move through life, we are constantly bombarded with things which require us to judge the correct value. In the area of religion, this judgment is about good or evil values; whether something is right or wrong in merit. There is an affinity between singularity and good judgments; there is a rejection of singularity when judgments are bad.

Now you must add an item to the starter kit: faith that a state of perfect being exists. You should seek feelings of perfection and what that does to your feelings of self. A hint about what perfection feels like is a transcendent sensation that lifts you above duality and is very, very peaceful. It isn’t so important that you imagine some literal moment; remember god isn’t a thing; god is a state of perfection. Further, your human desires likely do not reflect perfection – you exist in a dualistic reality. Speaking anthropomorphically, god draws you to be like god – to exist in a state of singularity. But first you need a god.

In the starter kit is a set of measuring devices which you use to measure the amount of perfection in an event, thought or motive in your life. These measuring tools are sort of like handy decision aids like a pregnancy stick or a ruler to measure legal fish or the air pressure in your tires. The scale on each of these tools has words to help with measuring:

Is this event, thought or motive good duality or bad duality? How much of god’s singularity is present? How much beauty? How much love? How much order? How much truth? How much empathy? How much compassion? This set of words determines the quality of an event that is created by humans. It is not advised that you invent your own sticks. Usually they measure bad duality. For example, common measuring sticks of bad duality are opportunism, prejudice, pride, greed and avarice. When you think about it, a state of perfection doesn’t have much that can be measured. However, all of dual reality can be measured for compliance with a state of perfection.

When you have this much of the kit assembled, it is time to practice your religion. Always carry your measuring sticks with you; your measurements will help you focus on god’s singularity and to live a happier and more satisfying life. The remaining parts of the starter kit require some seasoning on your part before you can assemble them.

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] Religion is about answering ‘why’ we exist and ‘what’ provides goodness in our lives. The mariner references old religions to help with understanding; the starter kit is quite transparent when it comes to sanctification, ritual, interpretation of goodness and what a transcendent being looks like or how it is identified. The generic identification of god is up to you. Joseph Campbell suggested that the term ‘myth’ always gets in trouble because people place their faith in the myth rather than in what the myth represents (Baal worship). Campbell said, “A myth is a metaphor for things we cannot easily explain or articulate.” So it is with the term ‘god.’ A common metaphor is “Goodness is godliness.”

The Real News

Tom Friedman, a prolific writer of politics and economy, has a favorite phrase to describe the behavior of human society. In regards to our attention to really important issues like global warming, environmental destruction, over population and critical resources like water, he says, “Humans are really enjoying the golden age of doing anything we want to the Earth to indulge our overconsumption and indifference about the planet’s resources. It’s like jumping off a tall skyscraper and saying, ‘Look, I’m flying!’ which is enjoyable until the first floor where everything goes splat.”

From the Earth’s perspective, we are easily distracted by bright lights and noise – things like war, Donald, flagrant disregard for the side effects of mass destruction of irretrievable habitat and disruption to the Earth’s sensitive balance of our biosphere. Despite severe warnings from our birth mother, we are trashing ourselves into extinction. “Yes, old news – I’ve heard all this before.” That indifference is the very issue!

We are no more sensitive to the finer threads of existence than our brother monkeys, who in ignorance at least follow the rules. Lust and primitive satisfaction are all we can handle. The dollar bill, an ignorant interpretation of intrinsic value, dominates our self-control. We have no feeling of debt to our planet and in Trumpian fashion, don’t hear what we don’t want to hear.

Our planet is in charge, however, and will tolerate only so much obnoxious abuse and destruction. It will have the last say.

So the primitive and simplistic economy of capitalism – a mistake sanctified only by the industrial age near the end of the 1800’s because it was easy and self-serving – will permit the dollar wealthy to fly in first class to the first floor.

Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation in 1517. It wasn’t the first attempt but this time it succeeded. For the first time in western civilization, man’s spiritual core was no longer bound to theological virtue. Western Christianity hadn’t always been the wisest ethical guide, what with wars, murder and intense judgmental abuse but still, it was theological and as such had a place for planet stewardship – if only by reference and not by obligation; Adam and Eve had to alight somewhere.

If one thinks about the entire history of religion and faith covering 12,000 years, one is aware in the beginning that the faith part was more the guide to our ethical lives than mortal achievement. Of course it wasn’t perfect but religion played the role of managing our morals from beyond our petty perimeter of day to day life. Then, it still was God’s world; we had an obligation of some sort to planet stewardship and the living environment on it.

Then steam and oil were discovered and new ways through chemistry and engineering were found to increase the cost to the planet for each human. But the big deal was the discovery of the Americas. Humans had their own brand new planet – a blank canvas that God hadn’t mentioned. Western civilization needed a new bible for this opportunity. In 1904, Max Weber wrote the new bible: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and in 1915 the new testament, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization. Max Weber was no intellectual slouch; he was well educated and has an impressive bibliography. Max, along with Karl Marx and a few others, emulated Martin Luther in that they opened a new era of human-managed ethics called ‘sociology.’ In very broad terms, according to Guru, ‘sociology’ is a term that implies that human behavior is human-managed behavior.

At that moment in western history, we became our own god. “Why do we behave this way?” Just ask Freud or Yung or Max or Karl – our new set of apostles. What little obligation we had to care for God’s world was replaced by a profit spirited pocketbook in a godless world. It was a Trump moment.

Today, despite many different theologies, disciplines and practices, there is no way for us to reach beyond our belief in our own social behavior. We are our destiny; we need no validation at the Holy Gate.

It was Madeleine Albright who commented, “You can’t expect Congressmen to tackle global issues; they were elected to bring home the goods today.”

The mariner has mentioned in the past many, many times that we are in the midst of great universal change – greater even than just the Earth’s biosphere. We are on increasingly stormy seas. Where is our compass? Is it whatever provides us the most dollars? Is it even more humans? Is it war? What device among us is not tarnished by us? What will give us guidance to focus on issues of humanity and not on issues of our ego? Dare we restore discarded religious virtues cast in a modern perspective? Where is our compass to show us the way to care beyond our simian prerogative?

ADDENDUM – Mariner received an email from his advocacy organization, Food and Water Watch.; a very above board, independent and serious group that looks out for our wellbeing:

Food & Water Watch

Everett,

We just got our hands on Trump's to-do 
list for the EPA - and as expected, it's 
horrifying. Starting today, the Trump 
administration will start trying to methodically 
gut the Environmental Protection Agency.

On inauguration day, the Trump 
Administration took all references to climate 
change off of the White House website. Now, 
they're beginning a months-long rollout of 
budget cuts and roll backs of key regulations 
designed to protect our air, water and climate 
from corporate polluters.
The leaked to-do list makes it clear that 
Trump will follow through on promises to gut 
the agency.
*  The document identifies opportunities to 
cut programs, including $513 million from 
"state and tribal assistance grants," $193 
million from ending climate programs and 
$109 million from "environmental programs 
and management."
*  The administration outlines initiatives 
they want to stop, including "Clean Air Act 
greenhouse gas regulations," clean car 
standards and clean water protections.
*  The to-do list also includes a plan to 
permanently change how the EPA uses 
science to prevent the agency from returning 
to "its bad old ways as soon as an 
establishment administration takes office."

Ancient Mariner

 

The Wind Is Changing

The mariner does not make predictions or propose a direction at this time but feels the wind differently. Just a small whiff that may mean nothing.

Donald sees himself as king of the world, not just the United States.

Four larger democracies are suffering from authoritative would-be kings who hold no allegiance to human rights and intend to “fix things” and not be wrong about it. (US, Russia, Greece and Turkey) The fuse is the Middle East.

Donald already has infringed on freedom of the press telling it when and where it can receive canned news releases. Individual threats have been made at several specific news agencies. Where is enforcement of the First Amendment?

Donald already has made it clear that his judgment is not to be fair but rather never to be wrong and he will visit his wrath on those who may insist he is wrong. (Sounds exactly like Kim jong il).

It is obvious his scope of importance does not separate the opportunity for profit at the expense of human welfare – wherever profit may take him internationally.

The mariner can go on endlessly with these thoughts but two cultural indicators are emerging that hold his attention: too many crooners and incidents of swing music are popping up on entertainment media and too many Father Knows Best shows are popping up – signs of transition in pop music and entertainment suggest instability in cultural values – couldn’t ask for a better barometer.

Our last chance to avoid war is to stop Donald absolutely without fail at the emolument clause with an impeachment. A bleak future with the US Congress is far better than a world with Dictator King Donald.

Ancient Mariner

Loyalty is Everyone’s Mandate.

During the holiday season many, many charity organizations are working at maximum speed to spread the cheer that someone cares for the wellbeing of another. The reader should become aware of the many efforts at feeding, gifting, paying for, providing shelter, providing warmth, and providing other critical support to the growing number of those left bereft and friendless by our abusive society.

Do you attend religious services? Your place of worship inevitably supports several charity projects – probably even sponsors volunteer activities in house to distribute evidence of care and concern but even more, befriending those who can’t afford friends. That includes more often than not families with children.

The best gift is you. That is hard for many people to do. But once one gives with personal effort and time, once one shares with another face-to-face, hand-to-hand, there are two gifts: You receive one, too, and it will be the best gift to you for the whole holiday season!

Our national culture slowly has worn thin. Citizens relate combatively. All the circus acts in politics, all the pretending that when whole industries have discarded wage earners, there is no human impact and that their futures are chopped off – leaving them homeless and penniless with families to support – these are not bad people; these are not failed people; these are not to be scorned; at least not yesterday why today? The US was founded on a new philosophy among nations that every citizen is responsible for every other citizen.

We have forgotten that in the US, we aren’t loyal to a regime or an ideologue. In the US, the strength of our society is not loyalty to the flag. No, it isn’t. We are loyal to each other. Not just in political rituals or paying taxes; each of us has a bonded responsibility to look after our fellow citizens and they must look out for us.

Loyalty to one another is a political mandate to keep the US together and strong. It is not a game for soft-hearts or ‘liberals.’ It is a hard game to be played every day, in every moment. Eric Metaxas said the US is founded on freedom. Freedom requires belief in freedom; freedom requires loyalty; loyalty requires virtue.

Now show your freedom, loyalty, virtue and wisdom: get out there and create some truly precious and needed holiday spirit!

REFERENCE SECTION

ERRATA

In a recent post lamenting mariner’s fortunes at the voting box, there was a poorly phrased sentence about the Presidential terms of Lyndon B. Johnson. To clarify, LBJ finished JFK’s term when Jack was assassinated; Lyndon won his own term in the next election but declined to run for a second elected term.

Did you forget your reading assignment? It’s “If You Can Keep It” by Eric Metaxas, copyright 2016, Penguin Random House. ISBN 9781101979983 hardbound — ISBN 9781101980002 ebook. $26.00 hardbound. Or see your library.

Ancient Mariner

Democratic Debate in New Hampshire

The mariner is pleased with the debate between Bernie and Hillary. For the first time in any 2016 presidential debate, republican or democrat, the voter was given a clear view of the personality and talents each candidate will bring to the office of President in 2016.

The heart of each candidate, that is, their desire to deliver to the electorate what is most needed by that electorate, is identical. Both are champions of human need, economic reform, and what’s best for the forgotten majority.

For the first time, the agenda of each candidate became clear. Bernie intends to fix the systemic issues that have led to oligarchy. Banks, Corporations, tax reform, bribery and collusion in the election process, and a plan to attack gerrymandering, are at the top of Bernie’s list. By fixing the political abuses, proper legislation and discretionary funding will right themselves and deliver programs to the people. However, Bernie will be prone to compromise when it comes to program specifics.

Hillary intends to develop programs first. She will attack current legislation that defeats the spirit of discretionary funding. Hillary will prioritize human rights, expand education funding, and reduce medical costs – but not through single payer. By fixing specific programs, the Ship of State trims its sails more in line with public interest. However, Hillary will be prone to compromise when it comes to fixing the oligarchy.

If the voter is interested in the programs of government, then Hillary sounds more appealing. If the voter is interested in the policies of governance, then Bernie sounds more appealing. The mariner is reminded of one of his father’s pop psychology tools: Bernie is a why-how person while Hillary is a how-what person1. That being the case, there are far more how-what folks in the population than why-how. For no other reason than the difference between their personalities, Hillary may fare better once the primaries leave liberal states and head into the prairie.

On such subliminal attributes, political success rises and falls.

REFERENCE SECTION

1For more detail on Pop’s Psychology, see post from December 21, 2015.

The Congress has ninety days to vote for or against a fast track of the TPP trade agreement. Mariner is firmly opposed to fast track and prefers that the TPP be examined by Congress – that’s as close as citizen review is possible. Note that the majority of presidential candidates, including both democrats, are opposed to the trade agreement. For a good, clear, and easy read about the TPP, see:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/12/business/unpacking-the-trans-pacific-partnership-trade-deal.html?_r=0

President Obama is in favor of the TPP because, in his opinion, the TPP makes the United States a central player in future Asian economics, dampening the future influence of China. All well and good – but at what price to the common citizen? Corporations will have unfettered control of profits, taxes, human rights, and the future wellbeing of nine nations.

Ancient Mariner

 

At the Caucus

About 100 folks attended the Democratic Caucus in mariner’s home town. Two attendees stood in Martin O’Malley’s corner – mariner and his wife. It was only a few moments before we were asked to move to the ‘undecided’ table because Martin did not have enough votes to meet the minimum 15% required to be a sustainable candidate.

But we weren’t undecided. No matter, we had to abandon our candidate and choose another one. The Iowa Democratic Caucus, unlike the town republicans, and for that matter, the rest of the caucuses and primaries across the nation, has the right to deny one’s vote as valid. Clearly, this winnowing procedure is designed to glean “probable” winners from others who, at the first caucus, have yet to generate sufficient interest from the voters.

The mariner respects the interaction and debate fostered by the Iowa caucus process. Further, the caucus forces big-time candidates to meet local voters face to face, eat barbecued chicken, let the voters touch them and ask questions no politician will answer directly. In too many jurisdictions around the United States, the primary process is sterile, mechanical and allows no moment for the voter to see or listen to a real-life candidate.

The mariner has concern that the very first ‘democratic’ primary in the national election process tosses out legitimate candidates any of which may become a dark horse later in the season. He especially is concerned that the democratic party has the right to coerce a voter to cancel their preferred vote and select another candidate – shades of Boss Tweed! True, one could be obstinate and refuse to change their vote but one foregoes representation in the caucus process.

Despite the romantic grandeur cast over Iowa’s unique primary process, the process is outdated. For months ahead, sophomoric news media derails any legitimate attempt to compare candidates on a level playing field. Consider the dominance of Donald on news broadcasts, gleaning more than 100 minutes of free air time compared to virtually none for any of a half-dozen legitimate politicians. Further, so much money is available to candidates that they can continue to campaign despite their irrelevance. Consider Jeb – then consider O’Malley who had to suspend his campaign with only $175,000 left in campaign funds. Yet, Jeb has spent and still has coffers that will carry him to the Convention with half the voter percentage that O’Malley has.

Seasoned attendees to the Iowa Caucus have stories to tell about the dissolution of friendships because open debate among voters is allowed and, if nothing else, one can see who chose which candidate. Even at this caucus, the mariner must patch the hard feelings of a good friend because he did not stand for the appropriate candidate.

All things considered, mariner is most troubled that one person, one vote does not prevail. What makes the Iowa democratic party any different than race discrimination in Alabama and Mississippi? They, too, prevent one from having one’s voice heard at the ballot box; those states just do it differently.

Ancient Mariner

Signs of Citizen Rebellion

The mariner is challenged about the dark side of plutocracy suggesting that the citizen and labor rebellions described in history do not exist today – a challenge that has merit. First, Mariner wrote a recent post that said watching culture change was too slow, unfocused, and too broad to watch closely. What everyone notices, however, are incidents that seem unusual; incidents are signs of cultural shift but one must step back to measure broad circumstances, that is, to observe cultural shift.

Second, here using extremes to demonstrate differences, the wave of bankruptcy that occurred in Massachusetts in 1786 was caused by the same manipulation of mortgages that caused the recession in 2008. Yet, times were greatly different in a cultural sense. One doesn’t have to grab the shotgun in the corner and march down to the bank offices and blow the door off or threaten the courts with physical harm if they didn’t clear the docket and get out – though this older behavior seems more gratifying. Note that the age of one corner, one gun has returned; is that an indicator of dissatisfaction with government, concern with exposure to physical harm and mistrust on a grand scale? Today, is this is a form of rebellion framed in a more mature culture with millions of citizens?

Continuing in today’s “mature” culture, has society allowed law enforcement to deal with the underclass just as the sheriffs in 1920 that shot first and shot again to keep dissidents in line? Has one noticed the relative innocence of the victims and the number of bullets used in today’s shootings? Were the riots in Ferguson and Baltimore not a replication of labor riots in 1920?

Is denying a share of the “company’s” profits to the workers who were virtual slaves in 1885 the same as denying worker raises in line with inflation and productivity since 1980 – yet raising prices at what constitutes modern Company stores so much that the husband and the wife have to work?

Today, using collusion between government and corporations permits blatant destruction of unions by using the “right to work” law. (This is bordering on short-fuse behavior in some industries)

Has one noticed, in a more mature culture, that the “Company” (corporations) has the same resistance to regulations and imposed responsibility for citizens?

Has one noticed the war-mongering bully who leads the republican party in the 2016 Presidential campaign? His followers certainly are in a rebellious mood – particularly toward a do nothing government fully owned by corporations.

Has one noticed the history-making difference between fat cat wealth and flaunted waste compared to public wages that oppress sharing success with the disappearing middle class? Does one remember the “Occupy” movement that protested abuses in Wall Street? Mariner suspects that when the middle class becomes sufficiently abused, there will be more outbreaks over the cost of living and the loss of a great democratic dream.

The mariner makes the case that we live in different times than we did 100 years ago. Still, even in today’s litigious culture, the issues are simmering and rebellion grows more and more obvious.

A lot hangs on changes in Congress, state legislators, Governors and especially who the next President will be.

REFERENCE SECTION

Regarding the puzzle from the previous post: The question was posited “How was the conman able to correctly project whether stocks would go up or down ten weeks in a row?”

The conman started with a large mailing list, perhaps 1,500 recipients. To one half he sent a flyer saying the price would go down; to the other half he sent a flyer saying the price would go up. The next day, he discarded the half that was wrong; to the half that was right, a week later he repeated the process with half saying “up” and half saying “down.” Again, the next day he discarded the half that was wrong; a week later, he divided the correct remainder in half sending half with an “up” prediction, the other half a prediction that was “down.” This continued for ten weeks. Eventually, a mark would respond willing to make a large investment through the broker – an amount that never reaches the stock market because the conman absconds with the cash. From How Not to Be Wrong: the Power of Mathematical Thinking, by Jordon Ellenberger.

Ancient Mariner.

Plutocracy – The Dark Side

The mariner used the word ‘plutocracy’ recently and realized it was an empty word but growing in importance. 99.9% of US citizens have not witnessed an armed workers rebellion since the coal miner’s rebellion near the turn of the twentieth century; who has memories of Warren G. Harding? If, in the next two to three years, we experience another deep recession or the travesty Ron Paul predicts in his commercials, we citizens may suffer hardship in large enough numbers to take on the police, the National Guard, the hired thugs called ‘detectives’ and the property of the corporate bosses who hired the thugs. That’s how bad the coal miner rebellion was – and there have been similar confrontations in the twentieth century.

This is not just a phenomenon of America’s recent past. Plutocracy was around in 1786 resulting in Shay’s rebellion.

US history books recount the colonial years with events that follow a narrow gauge track describing the wonderful advances in government, politics, and business. But day-to-day life was hell. None of the working class or laborers had any protections that exist today. Working class jobs had no required wage, no safety requirements, no health requirements, no limits on hours, and no limits on hiring the youngest child at the least expensive wage. Further, many businesses, especially isolated ones like coal and lumber companies, had a ‘company store’ which employees were required to use to buy groceries and supplies. This unfair game of very low wages and very high prices meant that no employee had money of consequence and eventually was deep in debt to the store. As Ernie Ford sang in ‘Sixteen Tons’ in 1955:

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?

Another day older and deeper in debt.

Saint Peter, don’t you call me, ’cause I can’t go;

I owe my soul to the company store

A pleasant song sung by a nice person – all clean and neat in his string tie. The real life experience could not have been more oppressive. Business, politics, and law enforcement worked together to contain worker resistance. Troublemakers often were gunned down in the middle of the street. Employees received little cash because they had their Company Store bill taken out first. They owned no property because they were required to live in very cheap business-owned housing. The truth of the matter is they were slaves – not an iota’s difference.

The real history of citizens is not recorded in history books. The next paragraph is a quote from http://www.alternet.org/ Alternet.org is a website that posts liberal and progressive articles. The author is writing about today.

“The sedimentary nature of power fears the chaos of protest. What the plutocrats know as stability, the middle class knows as convenience. Struggle is unstable and inconvenient. It pushes here and there, seeking ruptures in the fabric of the present. Success is not guaranteed. What is clear, however, is that the time of the present, of the possible, has become irrelevant to millions of people. They are seeking the time of the future.”

What brought the mariner to this subject was the feeling that the word plutocracy (the rich control society) did not have the meaningful clout that it should have. The more he pondered why the word seemed out of sort, the more he realized that society in twenty-first century USA is a full-blown plutocracy in every respect – and it carries the same threat of rebellion.

When he watched a new film called Plutocracy: Political Repression in the USA, mariner made note of how identical today’s oligarchy is to the class conflict during terrible rebellions in the past. Worker rebellions occurred under conditions exactly like the conditions that exist today. In fact, a housing bankruptcy occurred in 1786 in Massachusetts just like the one that brought down the US economy in 2008. Having relatively no rights, citizens back then were on their own to push back. Carrying arms, the citizens forced the banks and courthouses to close. This rebellion is in the film. The film tells the story of the workers; something seldom seen in history books. It is a free download at:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/skt261c6c2ebmnd/Plutocracy-%20Political%20Repression%20In%20The%20U.S.A..mp4?dl=0

Mariner recommends that you download the film to your computer. It is free. Some may have noticed that the situation is such that the US has a poor man’s army; best trained but virtually all working class folk. Richer people don’t worry about their children going off to die in a useless war. Remember George W. Bush and his assignment to a flight squadron that never was called up? In fact, George didn’t report for a year. This situation is a classic example of plutocracy. One wonders if the US actually would have had these wars if the upper classes had to fight in them.

Another example is the continuous pressure by powerful people to eliminate government services that protect the common citizen. For example, The Environmental Protection Agency, The Atomic Energy Commission, anything proposed by Senator Elizabeth Warren to protect citizens from banking abuse, the Security Exchange Commission, The Federal Department of Agriculture, The Federal Aviation Administration, Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare, Unemployment Insurance and Social Security. All these agencies impose regulations in behalf of public interest – and they are openly opposed by business and financial firms because they add overhead, reduce profits, and require concern for human lives – a throwaway that is easily replaced.

These behaviors are plutocracy in action. Add to this behavior salary oppression and disappearing benefits since 1968 and it feels very much like 1786 or 1920. Clearly, the voter’s future is in the hands of plutocrats.

One solution not requiring armed rebellion is to take back the government from control by the plutocrats. First is to wrest the election process from the plutocrats. Do that by requiring political campaigns to go on a diet. Remove redistricting from political control; institute term limits to anyone reaching age 70 in their next term (this ensures a more understanding official that at least can relate to changes in the nation’s gestalt); limit fund raising to the local area of representation; rewrite a fair taxing system that uses excess profit to fund a fair USA.

The mariner feels that dealing with the crooked election scheme is the first step in moving policy control back to the voters who in the past represented this nation’s moral character, that is, reinstitute democracy as the mechanism that keeps our country in a leadership role for the entire planet. We may not even have to go to war.

REFERENCE SECTION

http://www.shaysrebellion.stcc.edu/shaysapp/scene.do?shortName=Petition

The new documentary ‘Plutocracy’ is a comprehensive and powerful study of America’s early working class made up of farmers, miners and industrial laborers from Shays’ Rebellion in 1786-87, through rapid industrialization and inequality in the post Civil War 19th century era of the Robber Barons to the intense labor struggles of the 1920s.

A new book is out about common sense mathematics: How Not to Be Wrong: the Power of Mathematical Thinking, by Jordon Ellenberger. It is a nice companion to Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise. Here is a conundrum from Ellenberger’s book:

A person receives a flyer from a stock broker. It says that a certain stock will go up tomorrow. Sure enough, the next day the stock goes up. A week later, the person receives another flyer from the broker. It says a certain stock will go down tomorrow. Sure enough, the next day the stock goes down. This scenario goes on for ten weeks. The broker never makes a mistake. Needless to say, the person is ready to entrust the broker with a large investment – but it is a con. How is the broker arranging always to be right?

The answer will be provided in the next post if you haven’t worked it out.

Ancient Mariner

Food and Water plus a bit more about Joseph Campbell

A report from Food and Water Watch about the Omnibus Appropriations bill just passed by Congress:

Our policy staff just finished combing through the 2,000-page omnibus appropriations bill that Congress must pass this week to keep the government running, and here’s how some of the key issues that impact our food and water fared.

Let’s start with some good news:

1. We stopped the Monsanto rider that would prohibit states from labeling genetically engineered foods (a.k.a. the DARK act). After thousands of phone calls and letters from people like you, legislators didn’t include it in the appropriations bill.

2. An amendment to label genetically engineered salmon was included. We’ll still be working to stop the introduction of GMO salmon in our food system, but this is an important step.

3. The attempt to overturn our national parks’ ability to ban bottled water did not make it into the final bill. Thank you to all of our supporters who took action on this issue!

4. We kept important food safety measures in the final bill including banning the purchase of chicken processed in China in school lunches and limiting the beef imports that may have been exposed to foot and mouth disease.

Now the bad news:

1. The 40-year ban on exporting crude oil is being removed. This fossil fuel industry giveaway happened despite massive opposition from everyone involved in fighting climate change and working for a renewable energy future.

2. Mandatory Country of Origin labeling for beef and pork is being repealed despite massive consumer and farmer outcry about the importance of these labels for our everyday decision making. Unfortunately because these deals were made behind closed doors and Congress didn’t follow the normal appropriations process, our members of Congress will only get a single up or down vote on the entire 2,000-page bill that includes these and many other amendments that affect a whole range of issues. It’s likely that this bill will pass this week to avoid a government shutdown, but that doesn’t mean we’ll stop working to protect your food and water. – F&WW

The mariner would like to add that the bill includes full funding of health care for first responders to 9/11 – a bill championed by Jon Stewart.

While on the topic of sustaining quality food and water sources, in a recent post, the mariner recommended viewing the series Breakthrough on the National Geographic channel. The most recent episode covered some of the new methods for extracting fresh water from many sources. It is an excellent review of an issue that is worldwide and growing worse as fresh water becomes scarcer. In a scant 100 years, human population will grow from 7 billion to 12 billion. Water ranks with climate change as a critical issue that transcends national differences. If you missed the show, it can be seen online at: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/breakthrough-series/episodes/water-apocalypse/

REFERENCE SECTION

There is an interest in further inquiry about Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth. The mariner strongly recommends acquiring a DVD copy of the Bill Moyers interview and to purchase Campbell’s lecture series either in DVD or book form.

Transformation (metamorphosis) of consciousness, requiring consciousness to let go of the body, is of particular interest. In the interviews, Campbell says that everything in our known world has duality – an opposite value. For example, birth and death, consciousness and unconsciousness, physical and metaphysical, good and evil, before and after, etc. Transformation requires the separation of consciousness from the physical self. Transformation lifts consciousness into a unilateral existence where duality does not exist.

Mariner asked readers to identify the role of a few animals in mythology:

In Europe, the dragon – In many western myths, serpents and dragons are conflated into fearsome figures of evil that must be slain by heroes.

In Asia, the dragon – Dragons represent good things, good fortune and power. Only the Emperor could wear the golden five-toed dragon.

Lakota tribe (North America), the bison – Bison represented the source of the way of life for the plains Indians.

In China, the boar – The boar represents wealth and good fortune.

Celts in Britain, the boar – Boars were a symbol of courage in battle.

Ancient Mariner