The Biggest Great Divide

The last post on perception is a lead-in to this post about a great divide. What are our perceptions of the future – not the far future but starting now until 2050? An emerging perception is that millennials (born 1981 – 1996) will live their lives on the fence between two very different social and economic cultures. They will bear the burden of financially supporting both offspring and elders; their own careers and roles in society will be tumultuously tossed about and fraught with uncertainty.

Millennials started their lives in an Adam Smith world (he married capitalism to reformation ethics) and will end it in an economic and social world beyond description today – though many futurists believe the concept of ‘job’ will be divorced from Adam Smith’s marriage; artificial intelligence will disrupt existing class perceptions; Planet Earth will play havoc with resources from Helium gas to the disappearance of vast stretches of dry land, to a shift in weather patterns that will collapse significant agricultural markets.

Progressive economists suggest if the economy isn’t soon redistributed from its advantages to oligarchs, the US may experience rebellion similar to that in other countries in the news today. Data tech corporations are so pervasive and so uncontrolled that a new retail culture may evolve with a US Congress of self-appointed data tech CEO’s and Jeff Bezos as President. (mariner speculates)

Presuming all these hotspots of change may happen, what is the core cultural issue? What will people experience day-to-day? What persistent event will cause foment and disorder as society rewrites itself?

Greater than identity politics, greater than economic imbalance, greater than global warming – it is the educated versus the uneducated; the elite versus the useless; those who can participate in society and those who can’t.

These perspectives are not new. Social philosophers and futurists have suggested this great divide since the 1970’s. But today it is a fresh subject in journals, magazines and online science sites. There are characteristics of the divide that exist today. For example, those who accept that the successful will be successful and others never will be are the same people who don’t believe in welfare, Medicare and Social Security. In other words, if a person hasn’t made it, they are not allowed to have any value in society – they are useless even to themselves.

The French term is ‘raison d’êtra’, which means reason to be or role in life or in personal terms, why am I here? The feeling of uselessness is a struggle often among retirees, young adults without links to society, and especially those who by their class and education are denied the right to succeed or interact with the participating members of society. Psychologists long have defined the emergence of gangs in destitute neighborhoods as a result of not being allowed to participate in society therefore they create their own role within their neighborhood.

Society is only a decade from the first waves of white collar job loss. It is a common statistic that artificial intelligence may eliminate from fifty to eighty percent of jobs across every discipline, every skill, and every function that constitutes the ‘common workforce’ today. It does not help that income for middle and lower income people already is suppressed and hasn’t kept up with inflation. Donald’s base, suffering job loss and massive reduction in salary, is a current example of a segment of workers that has fallen on hard times and claim they are forgotten in today’s economy. Indeed they are.

As the months roll by, the issue of joblessness and especially the denial of the right to pursue happiness, success, etc., otherwise known as a raison d’êtra, will reach a breaking point where violence may be the proletariat’s only option.

The federal government has no choice even given polarized parties, wealth-driven politics and the cost of global warming, but to address joblessness which may be at a level commensurate with Venezuela today. The tax code, ensconced for generations as a capitalistic friend, must be dismantled in order to accommodate a very large portion of the US population.

Already in today’s democratic campaign for president, Andrew Yang has proposed a minimum income supported by taxes. A monthly distribution to citizens, especially those shut out of social participation, may be one way of preventing violence and stabilizing feelings of personal worth.

In a recent post mariner suggested that a new concept of having a job was to create a self-managed job. This is a job that a person assumes on their own for the good of their society. A pure example of this is a member of mariner’s family who has taken it on himself to improve the bare space around the base of trees along the sidewalk; he plants flowers and attractive greenery. He is satisfactorily employed but has taken on a role to improve his neighborhood. In the future, this approach to raison d’êtra will be a major way of defining work – and – it will need to be a source of income as well.

Another example is mariner’s neighbor who has chosen to maintain the gravel alley for his block. Again, income was not involved but, given the idea of a monthly distribution from the government, many otherwise unemployed citizens will find roles to play that will, mariner suspects, greatly improve the civility that is in short supply today.

If artificial intelligence and the corporations that control it are brought under control; if the tax structure shuts down abusive wealth and redistributes economic participation to the proletariat; if new job growth can be harnessed to deal with global warming; if international cooperation can be modified to support the economics of sustainability – maybe there will be some fun moments learning a new culture and new economics.

Ancient Mariner

 

Perceptions

Mariner once heard a politician complain about the (liberal) New England states and that the fathers of our country should have just continued the forty-ninth parallel past the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean and left New England to Canada. This happened some fifteen or twenty years ago; even then mariner knew that the forty-ninth parallel crossed into the Atlantic at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River just south of Newfoundland. Self-perception, whether of one’s importance or one’s knowledge of facts, is not a good view of reality. A lesson for all of us; if we are to represent reality, it must be only after a fact check.

Mariner mentions this story because today perception, in whatever form it will take, has replaced reality in its entirety. One of the bad things about perception is that it is short lived. Whether the presumption was useful or not, it quickly becomes useless. It is difficult to step out of one’s perceptions and see reality. Often, one’s immediate perception distorts historical perspective or situational reality. Some examples:

֎ Often, citizens today interpret the US Constitution as if it were written for today’s Internet world and its rapid travel options and its ability to know what’s happening in Winner, South Dakota in seconds, but that perception wasn’t even in the fantasy world of politicians in 1789.

> The fathers of our nation, who suddenly had most of a large continent to manage and states that were suspicious of federal power and jealous of other states if they had more influence, had to manage the situation with nothing more than travel by horse carriage or letters carried in that same horse carriage. Further, enemy nations were present on the continent and wanted to control the new wealth to be had. Certainly the perceptions of today and the perceptions of 1789 are vastly different.

> A well-known perception is the right to bear arms. What else would the fathers recommend since there was no army large enough or transportable enough to police the continent? Authorize the citizenry to defend themselves. Mariner notes the use of the word ‘bear’ implying the right to fight rather than simply to ‘own.’ Over the eons of history, Congress should have recognized the dangers of allowing this militarily important measure to continue in the Constitution but it did not and today guns kill more people than cars or disease – disregarding the realities of 1789. Mariner will not prosecute this case here but wants to demonstrate clearly that perception is not reality.

> “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” is a well-known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence. The phrase gives three examples of the “unalienable rights” which the Declaration says have been given to all humans by their creator, and which governments are created to protect. Even as the document was created that ideological perception did not reflect reality: African Americans and Native Americans are humans, too. This is an example of how a perception can be deliberately applied knowing full well it is just a perception that would not hold up to a fact check.

֎ Perception is a cousin to prejudice. In many cases perception simply will be a misrepresentation of reality whereas prejudice has a vindictive side to it. Today, in this time of identity politics, prejudice helps its cousin more often than not.

> Donald’s base is a good example. The serious issue of wage suppression and disappearance of profit sharing began during the Reagan administration and has been sustained as a national economic policy by political conservatives, typically the Republican Party. The base, largely disgruntled democrats, perceived that their government had abandoned them; it was the “establishment” that was not protecting them. Given that Hillary had political baggage, did not campaign for the labor class, and proposed an uninspiring image of the future, she became a target of a perception (aided by prejudice) that defeating her would be vindication. They chose an outsider with no record to defend, and who spoke in vindictive terms.

If only the electorate would check the facts. Unfortunately, both news media and social media have no interest in facts, just market share.

Ancient Mariner

 

The First Face of America

Mariner watched a PBS Nova broadcast about the oldest evidence of a Native American in the Americas.[1] All of Nova’s broadcasts are above average not only in reporting historical information but in providing insights into those moments. “The First Face of America” matched that quality.

Much of the broadcast displayed the effort and luck of a group of scientists exploring the lattice of caves underlying the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Today, these caves are underwater but 20,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age they were above sea level and dry. In fact, the Yucatan was exceptionally dry and early Americans often explored the caves looking for pools of water.

The great find was a complete skeleton of a sixteen-year old girl. Evidently she had entered a labyrinth in search of water and had fallen into a chasm. Carbon dating places her back 13,000 years and is the oldest evidence of humans in North and South America.

Most of us know the general story of how humans crossed over what today is the Bering Strait and followed the coast through Alaska into North America. During the ice age, the Bering Strait was a large, dry plain between Russia and Alaska. It was larger than many may assume – ranging more than a thousand miles North to South. It has been given a regional name, Beringia, because it was a busy, continuously moving place for nomadic tribes following herds and hunting opportunities. Constantly moving, they left little in the way of artifacts.

The skeleton provided a lot of implications about the life of a sixteen-year old girl in a nomadic culture 13,000 years ago. The scientists gave her the name Naia. Naia was 4 feet ten inches tall and led a rough life we today could not tolerate. There was evidence of damaging rape, and likely a stillborn child; she had bone damage on her limbs one of which was a spiral fracture, meaning someone had twisted her arm violently. Insightful to her lifestyle was that her thigh muscles at age 16 were as large as those of an adult male today – evidence of day-in, day-out walking and running; certainly evidence of a nomadic hunter culture.

Mariner ponders how complex society could have been not having a sense of place. These nomads were always moving to find the next meal. There was no expectation of something called ‘home’ – not even for one night! Did these nomads ever feel lost? Probably not but it’s certain there were other anxieties.

Remember this was 13,000 years ago on an undiscovered continent. Civilization as we understand it had not hit its stride; the earliest evidence of semi-permanent civilization outside Africa was on the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East around 15,000 years ago.

So how well have humans fared over the years? Civilization certainly has learned how to be complex but rape and violence still abide.

Ancient Mariner

[1] On PBS at https://www.pbs.org/video/first-face-of-america-m6dgpn/

The New Economics

For the last post or two, mariner has been lamenting the human creature. A creature who foremost is selfish, then vain, grossly insufferable and narrow minded especially as seen by other creatures in the biosphere. There are more adjectives but the reader gets the point. If the reader is a human creature, do not discount one’s self; you are selfish, vain, grossly insufferable and narrow minded. Mariner speaks his mind in the name of his alter ego and mentor, the prophet Amos.
More abstractly, the societies that human creatures build are based on their inherent characteristics but formulated into a system of measure that illustrates their success at being human creatures. The measuring system is economics in its varying forms and philosophies. Very briefly but without jaundice, consider these behavioral definitions of various economic patterns:
Capitalism is parasitic. Profit is the end product of consumed biosphere – whether human or environmental. Profit is a visible measure of selfishness, vanity, oppressive behavior and narrow mindedness.
Socialism is less parasitic as long as defined territories guarantee that everyone is assured of being equally selfish, vain, grossly insufferable and narrow minded.
Communism is less parasitic in that it constrains the opportunity for just about everyone to be selfish, vain, grossly insufferable and narrow minded.
Corporatism is parasitic, a child of capitalism that has developed better skills at being selfish, vain, grossly insufferable and narrow minded.
There are other isms but by and large they are governmental variations applied to economics that promote selfishness, vanity, oppressive behavior and narrow mindedness. One thinks of authoritarianism, dictatorships, slavery, monarchies, militarism, plutocracy and oligarchy. Oh, about democracy: it’s a method of altering overly abusive practices between human creatures; it’s just like war but it takes several generations. Parasitic economics isn’t the focus.
Mariner is sorry to be redundant but again he references the Native American societies that existed for thousands of years across the North American continent – until white man appeared. The Indians may not be any less vain, selfish, etc. than white people but they had not mastered Mother Nature. Indians had not learned how to be parasites. As human creatures they still were bound by a quid pro quo with their ecosystem. What was their economic philosophy? Sustainability.
The tribal hunters were the ‘capitalists’ except that the profits taken from the environment were not owned by the hunters; the ‘gross domestic product’, if you will, was distributed to the entire tribe (That is not true today in white man’s world).The primary requirement was sustainability – not profit or possession or any of the other human creature adjectives. Indians could not dominate their environment; rather they had to survive within the constraints of their quid pro quo agreement. The first order of economic importance was sustaining the ecosystem. The Native American economic model worked for thousands of years. Dependence on the ecosystem held a cap on abusive selfishness, vanity, oppressive behavior and narrow mindedness, AKA parasitic behavior.
– – – –
Today, just a few decades past Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, Karl Marx, Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, the planet itself has bought a seat at the economics table. New issues that aren’t focused on the human creature adjectives have come into play. Things like global warming, overpopulation, disappearing agriculture, scarcity of minerals and critical chemicals, depth of ecological sustainability, global extinction of important plants and animals and the chemistry of survivability itself.
Whether human creatures want to or not, it is time to settle with Mother Nature. The combination of parasitic behavior, planetary cycles, and shifting biosphere dependencies all will have serious impact on human creatures in the near future and in the far future.
The new rule for human economics is not parasitic behavior. It is sustainability as a member of the biosphere. Sustainability has no room for parasites.
Ancient Mariner

Examining Existence

The planet is embroiled in many confrontations. It has its own issues regarding its tendency to grow warmer and warmer; something Earth has been doing since the last ice age over twenty thousand years ago. Further, hominids have pitched in for the last 12,000 years, putting Earth on something akin to Cocaine. More on that later.

Earth, given its proximity to the Sun and carrying its own moon around, permits a certain pattern of life to exist. Hominids call it environment, ecosystem, life, nature, laws of physics and quantum mechanics. For the planet, though, the patterns of life are very much trial and error; Earth is indifferent to any intellectual perception that there is meaning to this randomness. Every evolutionary change is totally arbitrary.

This randomness is a characteristic of the entire universe, its stars, planets, moons and any order of nature that may exist in or among celestial reality. Consequently, all modifications to life are indifferent and may enhance an environment or may damage that environment. For example, recently an asteroid collided with the Earth in Mexico destroying ninety percent of life on the planet. On other occasions, volcanoes and earthquakes have stressed the environment to the point of having to start most of evolution over again. On the other hand, the assimilation of oceans of water placed on the planet allowed a supportive, temperate climate to emerge. Life was free to effortlessly experiment and has created a highly diversified environment.

The ethical premise of the universe and Earth is “what happens is what happens.” This applies to evolution in its entirety. In general, what keeps evolution going and surviving is, if mariner may borrow a politicized phrase, a quid pro quo arrangement between a species and its environment. A species takes from the environment to survive but also in the final analysis gives something back to the ecosystem. Overall there is a balance between species and environment.

If evolution is to be sustained, there is a need for predators. Many species in ignorance will over indulge their environment and breed to the point that nature becomes imbalanced; consider the cougar versus white tailed deer or the Peregrine falcon versus pigeons.

There is an exception: parasites. Parasites will consume an entire ecosystem even to the point it becomes fatal for the parasite. In the bacteria-virus world, parasites are common: the black plague, measles, sexually transmitted disease, ebola, etc. In the mammalian age, there are hominids.

– – – –

The ‘what happens is what happens’ phenomenon in this case is intelligence. Hominids are subject to the same quid pro quo as other mammals but after a while, intelligence learned how to break that deal between nature and the species. And by the time Homo sapiens sapiens evolved, brutalizing nature was an art form. Humans had become parasites of the planet’s environment. No aspect of nature was protected. Mining, chemical farming, destruction of large ecosystems like the Brazilian rain forest, and the extinction of 83 percent of the world’s species is de rigeuer. Atmospheric pollution took a back seat to profit – a classic parasitic move.

Elizabeth Kolbert, author of ‘The Sixth Extinction’, believes that Homo will bring about the global extinction of the mammalian age. Species are driven to extinction by simple but thorough intrusions into sensitive biospheres. A blatant example of parasitic behavior is to open the world’s largest surface mine and the largest oil drilling operation in Alaska – thereby wiping out the salmon that must use the same rivers to populate. As the reader reads this post, profiteering (AKA parasitic behavior) has moved to the bottom of the Earth’s oceans in search of new profits.

Mariner believes that the imminent recession in the world economy, the inability of governments around the world to find an ethical compass, and the disregard of individual citizens to take responsibility for the state of the planet, all may lead to a great collapse made more punitive by a planet on cocaine. How Homo and Earth’s creatures will recover is open to question.

If nothing else, vote to sustain the future, not to repair the past.

Ancient Mariner

 

The Vagaries of Dying

Mother Earth (AKA God, Yahweh, etc.) has arranged that all life forms procreate then die. It could not be otherwise because the planet would be quite crowded, resources would be unstable and there would be no room. So, all humans will die. Dying is painful, inopportune, and generally unpleasant. But dead is different. Being dead is like a long, deep nap in the afternoon. Time passes by unnoticed; there are no challenges, fears or inadequacies; no achievement is required. Just rest – even rest passes by unnoticed.

There are many kinds of death, each unique to its existence. For example automobiles die; there are graveyards for automobiles. Buildings die by decaying. On the other hand, buildings can be razed, too. Even Pando, the oldest living tree in the world at 80,000 years plus, will die perhaps by the hand of Mother Nature herself.

Species also die but not necessarily in the same time frame. Consider the opossum: Its origins date to the end of the dinosaurs but the lifestyle of each opossum is the same today as it was 65.5 million years ago. On the other hand, humans have ended the existence of 83% of all mammals and half of plants since the dawn of civilization. And to the point: humans, given their frailties, are willing to end their own species as well. Did Mother Nature make a mistake in the blueprints or is it humans who are supposed to enforce change by erasing estuaries, unbalancing rain forests, wiping out critical biomes or setting up an end to the mammalian age – even at the cost of their own demise?

Unlike the opossum, humans will not let stability remain. Human society changes as often as the weather. If society doesn’t change fast enough, humans invoke wars; if status quo even pauses for a moment, human science and technology trashes it for something new. Alas, society the world around is in the midst of social wars and societal collapse brought about by technical advancement. Not just one advancement but by 400 years of advancement bumping into the next one and the next one until change has become constant for 200 years.

For humans, change and conflict are two sides of the same coin. The old social standard must die – usually along generational timelines – except for the rare exception, e.g., the conservative Amish. Nothing is allowed permanency: slavery, economics, Frank Sinatra replaced by Elvis, replaced by Beetles, replaced by Wu-tang Clan, replaced by Nosebleed. Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite replaced by FOX, MSNBC and CNN.

The New Deal followed by Reaganism followed by corporatism, and on and on. Cultural life, anguish and death are continuous.

Mariner grows tired of it all. Even the prophet Amos went home at the end. The slashing and killing of a democratic society is not pleasant to witness or to live through. It isn’t just Donald, the TV version. It is plutocracy, authoritarianism, artificial intelligence, retail communism, and international solvency all at once. No citizen knows what the world will look like in the age of generation Z. Then there’s global warming. Even Mother Nature is pitching in.

It’s time for a nap.

Ancient Mariner

 

For the Reader’s Information

A new study from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found a small one percent decrease in American retail drug prices in 2018 — the first decline in more than 40 years — but a significant jump in the cost per person for private health insurance. The study, which was published in the journal Health Affairs, says that last year health care spending overall grew by 4.6 percent to a total of $3.6 trillion, or an average of $11,172 per person. If citizens felt like they were spending more on out-of-pocket fees such as insurance deductibles and co-payments in 2018, those also increased last year by 2.8 percent, they were.

As a marker, US inflation grew by 1.8 percent in the twelve months ending in October 2019.

As suggested above, health care cost grew by 4.6 percent; additional cost per person for individuals grew at 2.8 percent.

Housing and rents grew by 2.39 percent.

Food inflation rose by 2.1 percent.

Note that the inflation rate of the above three items, representing many more similar conditions in other sectors, are all higher than the overall inflation rate of 1.8 percent. This relationship means that key ingredients in the life of a US citizen are becoming more expensive faster than the US average overall.

As far as income goes, hourly labor wages rose 1.2 percent, .6 percent lower than inflation.

On the other hand the New York Stock Exchange DOW grew by 20.25 percent.

In a phrase, the rich are still getting richer and the rest of the citizens are still getting poorer. The crisis is not being mitigated in any way by the federal government. Donald has exacerbated the impact by cutting back government services that help those in need. Mariner is critical that news outlets only show the low unemployment figure. In fact, the ratio between having a job and having fair wages to go with it is widening in a negative direction even while family living rises faster than inflation.

Historically speaking, these statistical relationships are moving rapidly. The ‘middle class bubble’, already broken by Donald’s rust belt base in the last election, faces another adjustment, likely more severe as housing, food, insurance, health services and lifestyle participation rise too quickly for the average citizen to keep up. It is the state of these inflation relationships that lead many economists to predict a serious recession in the near future.

These circumstances are not folly. Europe is ahead of the US by a few years. The result is Brexit, French populism, Spanish succession, and Mediterranean conflicts all the way to Turkey.

In South America, where governments are weaker and in several nations, dictatorships, it is no longer a recession, it is a collapse of an entire economy.

Take note: the 2020 election is a serious election that may set the future much better or much worse. It is more than Donald; it is taxes; it is guaranteed health services; it may even be a government stipend to every citizen to stem the increasing disparity; it is tax reform not unlike FDR invoked.

And there isn’t much time. Several economic thinkers set the crisis year around 2030.

– – – –

[DAILY KOS] We’ve got a message outside her Des Moines office today to make sure Iowans know that by “changes” Ernst means huge cuts to earned benefits!

Sen. @joniernst (R-IA) says that “A lot of changes need to be made” to Social Security “behind closed doors.”

Get rid of Reaganomics, turn the Senate Democratic.

Ancient Mariner

Racism is like a flavor in society’s cake . . .

. . . But it doesn’t taste good.

֎ [VOX] As of 2016, the median wealth for black families in America was $17,600, while the median wealth for white families was $171,000.

One of the biggest factors driving these disparities is housing. A home is the most valuable thing many people will own. And buying a nicer home in a nicer neighborhood has always been the easiest way to climb up the socioeconomic ladder. But that option hasn’t always been available to everyone, especially black families.

The story of housing discrimination in America is complicated and rooted in a long history of racist policies stretching back to slavery. Well into the 20th century, the government systematically discriminated against black homeowners through a process known as “redlining,” which constrained who could get decent mortgages for good homes and where those homes could be built.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, a professor of African American studies at Princeton, wrote a book called Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership.

Salaries have remained flat for forty years while inflation has risen by 225.37%. Donald’s attack on food stamp programs displays his disregard for human value. Even food stamps cannot compensate for the disparity of constrained increases in salary. More than inflation, it is racism itself. The spirit of capitalism is in all the nation’s activities: racism, housing, salary, legislation and taxes. African Americans are not allowed to participate freely.

֎ [Washington Post] 5.1 times higher rate of incarceration

There are signs that racial and ethnic disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system are declining, but in 2016, black people were still incarcerated at a rate 5.1 times higher than white people. That’s one of the findings in the first major report from the independent, bipartisan Council on Criminal Justice, which looked at the populations in U.S. prisons and jails, as well as individuals on parole and probation, between 2000 and 2016. It’s worth noting that in 2000 the rate at which black people were incarcerated was much higher at 8.3 times the rate white people were imprisoned. [Washington Post]

Racism remains the great sin of American Culture. Since its inception the US has been proud of itself for having equal rights and the freedom to achieve as well as one can. Except for African Americans. Although always present, typically white supremacy emerges in the citizenry during times of unrest and fear as one of the major identity movements.

Many years ago mariner had a contract with a deep Dixie state to examine new demands for computer support for a county sheriff’s department. He put together a knowledgeable team of four bright systems analysts: two whites, one woman and one black. The woman was deemed a whore because she was a divorcee traveling with men; the black was not allowed to make his presentations. Mariner filed a quick conclusion to meet obligations and cut the trip short. Racial prejudice, particularly in Dixie, is as strong as it ever was. It is true that migrations from other parts of the nation are beginning to lighten the deep red hue but that is only in the larger cities that have a college-oriented job market. The rural areas are as racially primitive as ever.

In urban areas, including the South, the last twenty years have shown visible changes in American society. The entertainment industry especially has made an effort to include all races in its productions; television advertisement has actors of several races in a large portion of its commercials. It is obvious that around the nation citizens aged 35 and younger have greatly reduced the exclusionary behavior of older generations.

While the Federal Government may make the most aggressive moves to integration, it is at the state level that legislators will be reticent and pass blocking regulations. In the south, voting is a good example. Dixie makes it as hard as possible for African Americans to vote.

– – – –

Speaking of state legislation, there is an extremely conservative organization called ALEC that has targeted state elections and local legislation to make it harder for the states ( and the Federal Government) to enact centrist and liberal policies. ALEC is well organized and funded comfortably by the Koch brothers and many other wealthy, far right corporations and individuals. Just as McConnell and Trump have elected 150+ conservative judges (many not even experienced trial lawyers) in order to have court cases lean toward conservative opinions, so too is ALEC playing the states to load legislatures with conservative legislators.

This activity, if at all successful, will make it easier for federal elections to be overturned by the Electoral College. This is another example of misrepresentation of the populations in rural counties and states. Enough conservative county voting officials can submit conservative members to the Electoral College while not having the popular vote. Only eleven states have passed legislation that says the popular vote mandates their position in the Electoral College.

Ancient Mariner

 

Comebacks for 12/1

A few comments were made by readers generally suggesting that the dissection of Republican versus Democrat into a list of separate issues still amounted to Republican versus Democrat.

֎ While it is true that the headings consistently were presented as republican first and democrat second, the variables that delineate the issues are not based on party. Each item requires very different amounts of time to be resolved, requires different modifications to government process, cultural modifications, cost, changes to the Constitution, disruption for business and taxation and even a public change in attitude and ethos. This is not a list that can easily be bundled into a party platform. Each party, given the entire list, could possibly break into different camps of acceptance; remember the Freedom Caucus, the libertarian wing of the Republican Party?

֎ South America? Where did that come from? Two variables dominate international coalitions: economic opportunity and geography. Both variables are in play at the same time. A visible example of both is China’s Belt and Road vision that unites every nation in Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Still, China sees many opportunities for economic development in Canada, Mexico, South America and the Pacific Rim – including Australia.

Might the US take advantage of geography in a similar manner? Does the reader remember there is a ‘Belt and Road’ that already exists in the Americas called the ‘Pan American Highway’ that runs from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego at the bottom of South America? This is not to suggest the US forget about economic markets and longtime allies; but geography cannot be ignored. What would be the strength of the US economy if Canada and Mexico were more dependent on China?

Shortsightedly, just yesterday Donald added punishing tariffs on Argentina and Brazil, two countries struggling economically. Donald isn’t shrewd enough to think of these tactics on his own; let’s start a conspiracy theory that Putin told him to do this. Oh well, South America can always turn to Russia for salvation. Remember that Putin sent a military unit and two nuclear bombers to Venezuela to protect dictator Nicolas Maduro and recently confirmed that he is willing to send more troops to the South American country to support the regime.

Didn’t the US learn its lesson with Cuba? Apparently not.

Mariner finds it entertaining that China’s Belt and Road is identical to the Interstate highway program approved by the Eisenhower administration (1953-61) and will have the same effect of merging interstate commerce.

֎ Two items, Restrictive doctrine v humanism and Public myth v existential pragmatism, are more in the hands of the public. These items are based on cultural standards set almost completely by social ethic.

Simply, the restrictive doctrine issue deals with the church’s application of religious ethics – having virtually nothing to do with political parties although there is a struggle keeping church and state apart. Not so simply, changes to cultural (as opposed to legislative) beliefs, i.e., guns, racism, work ethic, social accountability, and other myths that resist unification of a national identity, are very much a matter of reeducation and public willingness to subsume mythical influence into one-for-all ethics.

֎ Although this item isn’t part of the list, it is worth noting:

In September, Tennessee State Senator Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield, BS, Lipscomb U.) declared that he wanted to eliminate higher education (presumably only for women, because of abortion) which would “end a liberal breeding ground” and save America. [DAILY KOS]

Thanks for reading.

Ancient Mariner

No, it isn’t just Republican versus Democrat

Mariner began to realize that there are many political battlefronts occurring simultaneously none of which can be melded easily into other battlefronts. In fact, righting the ship of state may be more like herding cats than the public expected. Below mariner lists some conflicts that require more than two hands to untangle.

Corporatism v democratic socialism

This conflict centers on the apparent corporate freedom to do whatever it wants to do and to turn as much profit as possible without accountability for social conditions or national unity. A complicated issue is that data tech corporations are introducing commercialized authoritarianism largely because antitrust laws have not been enforced.

Libertarian government v public accountability government

This conflict engages those who believe less government is better government – to the extent that social viability (AKA discretionary funding) is unacceptable versus those who believe in a government that is responsible for public wellbeing. One obvious confrontation is health services.

Capitalism v government oversight

A struggle over who manages the economy, taxes, monetary legislation, price regulation, inflation, antitrust and similar fiscal privileges; focused more on wealth and investment than on business practices. Two critical issues are part of this confrontation: housing and the Green New Deal.

Restrictive doctrine v humanism

This battle involves morality issues like abortion, LGBTQ and church versus state. Freedom of religion, even though clearly stated in the Constitution, remains constricted for faiths other than Christianity; within Christianity the battle is about interpretation of traditional doctrine versus current culture.

Political expediency v scientific expediency

This issue pits politicians against scientists. The most important issue is the conflict between the fossil fuel industry and global warming, which is made more disruptive because it also affects most of the economic/social issues cited above. This category seeps into areas like vaccination, abortion, environment, pollution of the land and water and ideological issues similar to how to feed 11 billion humans and preserving the planet’s supply of fresh potable water.

Public myth v existential pragmatism

Primarily this is the battle over fake news. Not just fake news on the airwaves and social media, which is significant, but common class prejudices about standards for justice, work ethic, racism, and about conspiracy theory amid several rootless assumptions. A major public myth is the common misinterpretation of the Second Amendment (gun rights) – proving not to be pragmatic in today’s society. Racist immigration policy is another issue that seems not to be pragmatic.

Isolationist v internationalist

This conflict has been severely damaged by Donald for no reason. The twenty-first century will have a widespread restructuring of international coalitions; China is emerging as the new powerhouse economy; NATO and other mid-1900 alliances are showing their age. An example of how internationalism is important is to note how critical it is for the US to represent political and economic security both for North and for South America – where China already is attempting to play that role while the Donald immigration doctrine is abusing Central and South American citizens.

Plutocracy v democracy

The battlefront in this section is how the government functions as an institution. Related issues deal with voting rights, gerrymandering, money in politics, entrenched lobbying, term limits, balanced congressional representation in the Senate, etc.

Add to all these battlefronts regional differences, population density, cost of living differences and classic prejudice between social classes.

So much to do with a citizen’s vote.

Ancient Mariner