Governments and Citizens – Who Maintains the Norms?

Maybe too often mariner addresses circumstances about the future of mankind. Typically, the circumstances are beyond the focus of contemporary politics and culture. Nevertheless, the future presents dilemmas about which we are unaccustomed and we fail to recognize their importance in a timely manner – let alone prepare to deal with them as current political situations.

Even at this moment, the United States is struggling. It is struggling because we are not prepared to deal with global issues that did not exist when our Constitution was created. Suddenly, our leadership among world nations seems inadequate. Why?

In just a few years the attitude of the American Citizen has changed from tolerance to intolerance. Congress suddenly is drawing attention from its constituents. The Presidency has been struck a fateful blow by a wary and vulnerable electorate. Populism has emerged. The American Citizen senses a change in the wind.

Speaking in broad terms, eighteenth century capitalism is insufficient to support the moral obligations of global society. As corporatists and oligarchs leverage international markets which did not exist before the Internet and as data storage capacity expands to unimaginable size, common citizens are left behind in shrinking, community-based markets and economies whose norms, ethics and responsibilities are irrelevant to global economics.

When mariner was a much younger man, he lived near a small town in rural Pennsylvania. A town business, not very large as businesses go but the largest employer in the area, closed. Mariner stood looking at the empty buildings one day wondering why the business owners didn’t sustain their community responsibilities – they owed the town. If the business failed, go into another business; if it was a single-owner business, why not sell it to the community? The point was that the business owed the community something. Certainly the community gave to the business through its workers. The region’s economy failed. The personal obligations of commerce were ignored. The town be damned. Tough luck, folks.

Today, it isn’t a small business in a small town. It is Ford, Aetna, A.G. Edwards, 3Com,, Bank of America, Black and Decker, Cooper Tire… thousands of businesses. Leveraging modern technology, even if the business does not relocate to another country, it outsources jobs overseas or operates out of tax haven countries. These options are new because of computerization. These options have no ties to small towns or big cities or a community’s expected norms. And, to their benefit, corporations and oligarchs are no longer constrained by one nation’s regulations or one nation’s economy or one culture’s expectations; that means they are beyond the imposition of unions, worker benefit regulations, labor regulations in general and especially even paying taxes to support any national activity that may be of benefit to the nation or its people.

The governments of the United States, Federal, State and local, identify themselves in turn as keepers of the economy, of state-centric solutions to economy, and of infrastructure. None feel obligated to be champions for people – just economies and infrastructure. The citizenry senses a change in the wind but the governments are not addressing human exposure to international and global changes already occurring.

The changing wind is the source of the great schism between conservatives and liberals that exists today. Conservatives want to reduce the role of government, even take it back to the role of government in the middle of the last century. Liberals want to regulate corporations and wealth in behalf of the common man, even to the extent of using the economy as a tool to protect citizenry from new abuses occurring in the global economy. Speaking broadly, it is a conflict between capitalism and socialism. Speaking to readers, neither word is bad but they are different. It’s a question of functionality. Which is needed most to provide shelter for community norms, mores, and sustenance?

Ancient Mariner



So very slowly, so very, very slowly, notable numbers of H. Sapiens realize that war is horrifically expensive in every measurable way. War kills people and makes hard core enemies that can last for many generations.

War destroys commerce. Commerce means the way people live, put food on the table, grow families and sustain community scruples; commerce identifies what is fair and expected in daily life and allows people to fall asleep with dependable, secure expectations.

War destroys history. Not only cultures and ingrained identities but also the physical evidence – the identity and presence of nations, edifices, faiths and myths.

War is expensive. One instrument of war can cost more than a billion dollars. War requires armies that consume immense budgets to house, train and transport.

The problem is that war is easy. One person in a position of relative power can launch a war – an act that is personally gratifying and in victory “justifies” self-worth. Avoiding war is complex and difficult. Avoiding war requires compassion and other sophisticated feelings. The old saying ‘might is right’ isn’t right.

This will be an interesting age as humans struggle with a future that will not have room for war. The cost of war will be too high for the resources at hand. Nations will choose other solutions to preserve resources and global-scale economics – to say nothing about saving lives.

Still, this is no guarantee that lives will matter. The right to life is more than a cultish battle about birth control. It is a great mountain to climb in our species. Do we as Harari[1] suggests, ignore people we don’t need? Let two billion displaced and starving humans die because they aren’t needed?

Or does our species take into account the sanctity of life, of the right to breathe and grow and carry out the life we were intended?

Today, we turn our heads away in disinterest as small armies similar to Boko Haram that wreaks devastation and death on small towns in Nigeria. Are Nigerians not necessary in our future?

Eliminating War will be difficult. Saving lives will be more difficult.


Mariner hasn’t referenced Nate Silver’s website,, in a while. Nate offers a weekly email report for free. The latest is copied below:


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

By Walt Hickey

39 states

According to investigators who spoke to Bloomberg, Russian intrusions into U.S. voter databases and software systems occurred in 39 states. [Bloomberg]


Three astronomers spotted two additional moons of Jupiter in images they took looking beyond the planet into the Kuiper Belt. This would bring the number of moons of the gas giant to 69. [Scientific American]


Number of congressional plaintiffs — all Democrats — who have joined a lawsuit against President Trump accusing him of violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which requires the president to get the OK from Congress before accepting foreign gifts. The suit claims that the president’s financial involvement in his businesses violates the clause. [The Washington Post]

436 percent

Urban areas have tried to cut down on the number of people incarcerated before their trials to reduce the population behind bars, but rural jails haven’t followed suit. The pre-trial detention rate in urban centers has dropped over the past several years, but the rate grew 436 percent from 1970 to 2013 in counties with fewer than 250,000 residents. [Wired]

$4.48 billion

Verizon has completed its purchase of aging internet giant Yahoo for $4.48 billion. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer scored $23 million in severance on the way out. [Business Insider]

If you see a significant digit in the wild, send it to @WaltHickey.

The Morning Story

Donald Trump Is Making Europe Liberal Again


Ancient Mariner

[1] Yuval Noah Harari, a renowned futurist who has provided books, articles, lectures and opinions about how to interpret today’s reality and project the interpretations into mankind’s future. Citing current human behavior, which ignores unneeded people, he believes useless classes of workers will be set adrift in the future.

Dear Mister Trump

Dear Mr. Trump:

It is hard to steer a boat in stormy seas. The nations of the world, each and every one, are sailing in extraordinarily stormy seas – each and every one including the United States.

It is especially hard for the United States. Intentionally, the nation was founded with importance given to the spirit of freedom and equality – a new perspective on governance by law that evolved over many centuries of European history. The new perspective paid off with the United States becoming the premier nation of the world – the most powerful, the wealthiest, and the leader of all nations. Some say that the golden years occurred in the middle of the last century. Too soon we have discovered these troubled seas.

We learn from history that humans reorganize themselves according to the circumstances at hand. Some say that in a natural environment we are happiest being members of a tribe. But reality drives a hard bargain. Soon humans had to reorganize into territorial kingdoms. After that, problems were too sophisticated for simple kingdoms. Nations had to be formed usually with authoritarian leadership like Russia and Turkey have at the moment.

However, reality now calls the people of the world to smudge the edges of a nation’s independence. Reality calls not for authoritarians, and not for personal riches that temporarily protect the super wealthy. Reality calls for a global mentality because the problems are too big for individual nations to solve.

Collaboration in economics, population management and planetary behavior is the solution today. Nations are linked together according to the issues they have in common. Today, many issues truly are global – no country can stand alone anymore. The Earth is moving into a new planetary age. It will take all of us participating together to survive.

Blog of the Ancient Mariner



Ancient has arrived at an intellectual state not unlike running out of gas in the middle of nowhere; or it may be similar to arriving where one intended but there is nothing to be found; or it may be like arriving in a country ready to have a rich experience but no one speaks your language or cares to communicate.

In a word, Mariner, as Amos before him, euphemistically is retreating to shepherd his sheep.[1] The works of Amos in the Old Testament show that he was influenced by a very large Earthquake (8.0) that occurred north of Israel around 760BC. Amos 3.13-15 states the view of Amos about the collapse of the world:

13 “Hear and testify against the House of Jacob,” says the Lord God, the God of Hosts, 14 “that on the day I punish Israel for his transgressions, I will punish the altars of Bethel, and the horns of the altar shall be cut off and fall to the ground. 15 I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great house shall come to an end,” says the Lord.RSV In further verses, Amos makes it clear that no one will survive God’s wrath.

Today, we have no impending earthquake that will end civilization; perhaps a volcano may but none of the major volcanoes are due for thousands of years. Nevertheless, something is happening because God’s wrath has begun and moves ever faster.


The Dark Age

The model which defines the relationship of the present era to its future is the model of the Dark Ages, which lasted from the fall of Rome to the early years of the Middle Ages (450AD – 1000AD). It was a time when the social structure and ethic of the known western world had fallen into disarray. Governments (and the Church) disavowed responsibility for the underclass and anyone, for that matter, who could not participate in authoritarian power or its oligarchy. In that time, the general public lived a truly impoverished and brutalized life. The wealthy did not feel obligated to care about common folk. Food was scarce and never adequate; disease ran amok; the simplest barter economy was impossible because of abusive taxation; one third of all children died before age five; adults had an average life expectancy in the thirties; common land, where the populace lived, was treated as a permanent war zone where the powerful played constant war to improve personal power and wealth.

Does this sound relevant today?

The characters are the same. The failing cultural morality seems not to be restrained. War with inadequate purpose seems rampant. Governments ever increasingly seek to avoid responsibility for the growing underclasses. The Church lingers in the twentieth century with very little influence on twenty-first century society.

But ‘God’ is not waiting for an ultimate collapse. Even as the US Government denies the reality of global warming, the Earth is moving on to an environment that may not be suitable for humans. It certainly is not suitable for other species. Global leaders and the wealthy may grudgingly recognize that ocean levels are rising enough to be a nuisance. They do not acknowledge that as the Arctic Ocean and its accompanying permafrost melt, a rise of ocean levels to several feet is projected by the end of the century and that will not be the end of it – rising further in future centuries.

The weather is changing as well. The warming oceans evaporate unmeasurable amounts of water into the atmosphere – causing larger and more damaging weather patterns as well as drought zones that occur seemingly without reason.

‘God’ does not patronize authoritarian and otherwise imbalanced societies that disregard simple moral behaviors – behaviors that have deep genetic roots in a species with strong tribal social structures. The current US government reminds the mariner of a group of people grabbing as much wealth as they can before the end comes. ‘God’ will not be deterred.

There are too many humans. Far too many. Why is this? Give credit to man’s inventive abilities which produced the Iron Age, Industrial Age, the Fossil Fuel Age, the Technological Age and the current Age of Automation. Were humans still bound to the nature from which they evolved, there is no question that nature itself would oversee disproportional population. Man often is his own demise.

Even at this moment the US is fading from its leadership of the modern world. China understands global economics and is investing in newly defined trade and financing relationships with other countries that will ease transition from the twentieth century era. The US is doing its level best to return to cultural and fiscal values as they existed in the mid-twentieth century. True, that was the golden age but nothing escapes entropy.

Aside from the biosphere, world economies must change in concept if any country is to survive financially and culturally. Most critical is the relationship between jobs and income. The eight hour work day began in 1856. Accompanied by a concept of hourly wage, it has been the core device for redistribution of wealth ever since. But its role in the economy is waning. If the world population is to survive in any quantifiable measure, job and wage must be separated.

Mariner is confident that we approach dark times. Dark times will prevail longer than we will like; let’s hope not as long as the model from the Middle Ages – 550 years. For the last four years, mariner has probed endless subjects, admonished many for lax insight, and promoted newly required ideas drawn from modern but ignored commentary. Were that we could describe the collapsing world; perhaps even glimpse the edges of our dissolution as we can see the edge of a storm cloud – but each of us is an integral piece of the storm…. We are the storm.

We, the electorate, are the storm and we have no intelligence with which to steer ourselves to pleasant weather. The human species denies several global issues that may well end as Amos predicted.

Ancient Mariner

[1] Apocryphal works say that Amos was killed by the son of Amaziah, priest of Bethel. It further states that before he died, Amos made his way back to his homeland and was buried there.

Entropy or Birth?

Is the state of the US government at an end – the final entropy? Or is it, with the broiling confusion and unrestrained energy of the electorate, a new beginning – the pains of birth?

As an undercurrent, not often recognized by purveyors of ideas, news and speculation, the question of entropy or birth drives their reports. The choice cannot be answered with a game of darts or a debate fueled by boiler makers. It cannot be answered by overanalyzing nonsensical events or by a twelve-member pundit team on CNN. It cannot be answered by the very Congress that will live or die depending on whether the answer is entropy or birth.

Entropy is a measure of dissonance or deterioration; simply, it is a form of decay. For example, a newly built house has little entropy but as the years roll by, the house suffers the ravages of time and abuse; it can be said that the house has growing entropy as it ages. The idea that entropy can only travel in one direction – the demise of energy and organization over time – is why physicists use the amount of entropy in matter to measure its age. Based on the low amount of entropy in the universe, scientists consider our universe to be young.

In a temporary sort of way, entropy can be reduced by injecting energy or new structure into the object. Continuing the house example, if the owner paints the walls, replaces the roof, installs a new furnace, the owner is reducing the amount of entropy – temporarily. Entropy will continue to grow and as a last, final state of entropy, the house is in disarray and useless.

Returning to the open question: Is the US government in the final throes of entropy or is the amount of energy and commotion the beginning of a new government? Mariner believes we don’t know yet. The present administration certainly is introducing massive amounts of dissonance and disorganization. The present Congress is saturated with entropy.

The measuring point will occur in the 2018 election. If afterward Congress continues in republican hands and, God forbid, the current administration is still around, we can say that the US government is in the final stages of entropy. On the other hand, if the electorate chooses to infuse energy and new organization with the election, we can say the US government is giving birth to a new structure.

Using the Universe mentioned earlier, it has changed dramatically day by day. The US is losing to other nations, economies and concepts of global government.

Care to live in a ramshackle house?




Just to point out the cultural confusion that reigns in our nation, the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is an advocate of profit-based education. Meanwhile, the State of Tennessee, a no income tax state, has built a community college free to all comers regardless of their educational status or age. So which is it? DeVos sponsored or state sponsored?

Ancient Mariner


Belt and Road

Something which has not been covered very well by American press is a China initiative (including Russia’s participation) called Belt and Road. The term does not mean much in terms of the objectives. It is China’s way of attempting to avoid an economic crisis in the near future.

In concrete terms, the Belt and Road initiative is an immensely ambitious development campaign through which China wants to boost trade and stimulate economic growth across Asia and beyond. It hopes to do so by building massive amounts of infrastructure connecting it to countries around the globe. By some estimates, China plans to pump $150bn into such projects each year. In a report released at the start of this year, ratings agency Fitch said an extraordinary $900bn in projects were planned or underway.

China is struggling to find an economic solution to many problems looming as the world moves to a global economy. The US faces similar issues. Whatever the US faces, multiply the problem by 1000 to understand China’s issues.

Nevertheless, the planet’s occupants are at a crossroads. Too many assets are locked within oligarchic structures where they are of no use to the world’s population. Corporations are sucking dry the profits of an antiquated economy based on labor. Human population continues on its path to 12 billion by 2200. Whatever economic theories carried us through the industrial age and the early technological age, they will not suffice to manage the near future of a global economy. In personal terms, everyone faces a diminished future.

We are dependent on leaders with modern insights, modern ethos, and modern rules of existence. The US cannot face this alone. For the first time, all nations must rise above personal and corporate desire for wealth and create an international government that determines the distribution of assets around the world. Frankly, there are just too many people.

Check out Belt and Road. It is China’s way of confronting the very issue that the US must face but ignores. The current administration sets the US at an extreme disadvantage; time is of the essence.

There are plans for pipelines and a port in Pakistan, bridges in Bangladesh and railways to Russia – all with the aim of creating what China calls a “modern Silk Road” trading route that Beijing believes will kick start “a new era of globalization”.


The mariner grew up in Baltimore; many of his friends and relatives still live there. Edgar Allen Poe is a Baltimore icon. His afterlife is haunted and mysterious aficionados leave gifts. Nevertheless, Edgar is a famous poet in the hall of poets. Mariner need only say, Quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore.’ He reread “The Raven” with more pleasure than he expected and continued on to “Annabel Lee,” one of mariner’s childhood favorites.

However, Poe has another poem, “Eureka,” his last, discounting Annabel Lee which was published after his death. He focused on the cosmology of the universe and described its behaviors in his own vivid style – including a personality for the Big Bang itself. An interesting and pleasant sidetrack – especially if you like Edgar Allen Poe.[1]

Ancient Mariner


[1] See:

Short but large.

Several short notes about extremely important and powerful events.

Three cheers for the French electorate. Hooray and hooray again! Now if we can influence the Brit electorate to think again about Brexit. Leaving the EU with international corporations becoming more and more antigovernment in their ethic is like someone leaving a nice home to find their way in the world with a candy bar and $4.32 in their pocket. True, EU is having the same growing pains as everyone else but there is no better choice. Same goes for NATO, United Nations and other 20th century organizations – except the World Bank and the G7 Economic organization. What most will call income and jobs is a brand new phenomenon unlike anything in the 20th century.

Some psychological advice discovered by the mariner’s wife while cruising the internet: Depressed by the condition of your nation? Frantic? Left with no sense of future?

The solution is to accept the terrible conditions as fact. It is what it is. Stop magnifying anxiety by speculating. Instead, now that you’re dealing with reality, do something about it. There is a reason large numbers of people are protesting, writing their Congressmen, and joining political movements: This reality must be changed and the people are doing something about it. Replace your angst with action. You will have feelings of worthiness instead of helplessness.

Again, the soulless Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are pressing the FCC (now run by Donald puppets) to remove ISPs from Title II of FCC regulations. The FCC announced that it intends to honor ISP requests. The popular term for this is to overturn net neutrality – where no one has the right to interfere with the speed of service – to one where ISPs can charge you for faster service. In a year or two the Internet will be part of the effort to improve US infrastructure. Just as with highways and bridges, the Internet will be much faster and accessible to many more citizens. ISPs already know this and want to charge you for the new Internet speeds even though, under Title II, the Internet already is free to everyone – including you.

The only solution, and this is critical, is for all stripes of users, conservative to progressive, all sit at home and browse users, all students using the Internet, to WRITE AND CALL your Senators and your representative insisting on ‘net neutrality’. Otherwise, this is another issue that will render Congress impotent and simply let Donald’s crew have its way.

These are troubled times for our nation. A voter has more to do than vote – engage in your democratic right to fix things.

Ancient Mariner

Racism et al.

It seems that racism has been in the news on a regular basis for some time. Pick any starting point – perhaps something obvious like the murders at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Since, there have been a number of race riots similar to Ferguson, the Trump racist movement, citizen backlash to the Muslims just in principle, and now the Boston treatment of black baseball players. Donald is doing his best to stir anti Mexican racism but that seems to be limping along. Still, unfair treatment of Hispanics runs deep in American culture.

Another prejudice raising its head is among conservative religious movements. There is an obvious attempt to make the US a theocracy. Why our representatives don’t stop this on Constitutional grounds is a quandary. We should never have put “In God We Trust” on our money. Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s.” Can we agree we don’t need money in heaven?

Third, there is a violent class war going on and the common folk are losing big time. To save space, mariner will just mention Bernie – and Donald’s proposed tax reform – which doesn’t seem too out of line to the Republican representatives.

All this commotion seems elevated. In a decade or two, our economy is likely to fail; our role as an influential cultural influence around the world will dwindle; automation will decimate the workforce if redefining the relationship between income and jobs has not occurred.

It is like a home overrun by fleas which preoccupy us while the house burns down unattended.

Prejudice, of course, is more potent an interruption than fleas. Yet must we reconcile these ancient misbehaviors before we notice our burning nation?

Mariner takes the position that both can be addressed at the same time:

An intelligent, internationally balanced immigration policy will quell or at least placate the paranoia against foreign immigration – something the US desperately needs to help with its future economy.

Black racism is as strong as it ever was. Mariner doubts this deeply ingrained class structure will diminish until all the white guys in the victory photo for health reform are dead. As to Dixie, it’s more a money issue. If the South had tried manufacturing earlier instead of trying to grow crops without the slave economy, maybe things would be slightly different today. We tend to forget the intensity of this racial divide – intense enough for southern states to secede from their nation and suffer a civil war. A growing rate of interracial marriages seems to be the only positive strategy.

The severely imbalanced economy is the most dangerous issue. Combined with automation and international corporatism, the US could be an economic has been by 2050. Knowing that it takes a decade or two to significantly modify an economy, 2050 is frighteningly close. A real, undeniable statistic researched and declared many times is the fact that from 1939 to 1980, the wealthiest 10 percent of the population received 30 percent of income growth while the remaining 90 percent received 70 percent of income growth. Economically, things seemed to be working fine.

From 1980 (Reagan) to 2017, the wealthiest 10 percent of the population received 90 percent of growth income while the remaining 90 percent received less and less over that time. Today, 90 percent of the US population receives 40 percent less in gross adjusted income than they did in 1979.

This issue of a balanced sharing of the economy continues to be buried by all US governments – Federal, State and Local. Especially during the eight year filibuster of Barack by a do-no-business Republican Congress and now by the same Congress and an authoritarian, ignorant and immoral President.

The undeniable truth is that the real holdup in improving racism, balancing the concepts of freedom of religion and the existence of state authority, the clash between working classes and missing income, is the US Congress. It is a Congress dominated by the Reagan philosophy of culture and economics – imposed 37 years ago and by any measure clearly defunct today.

Until the Congress is completely revamped with modern politicians who understand 2017 racism, religious conflict and class struggles will continue. The fact that Donald is still around is another indicator of the antiquated Republicans stonewalling – their only Standard Operating Procedure.

Ancient Mariner

The New Elephant

It has taken a few days for mariner to restore his awareness of the major themes of society and world events. Surprisingly, his attention is drawn not to irritating politics or immoral economic behavior or disregard for the meaning of life – his attention is drawn to demographics. Global population patterns have become the elephant in the room and will dictate the quality of national life in every nation – not in the future but already – now!

US citizens already have a sense of the demographics issue caused not by population alone but by the emerging wave of joblessness caused by automation. There will be too many people not contributing to the economy but still dependent on it for survival. Economic solutions aside, there simply will not be enough employed younger people earning and spending dollars to sustain a robust economy.

The US is not alone. Every nation in the top twenty GNP has a similar issue: the shape of the population leans toward older citizens and the younger generations are not plentiful enough to sustain either the economy or the older citizens. China, Japan and Germany, in particular, face an almost instantaneous shift between generations in about 30 years that surely will affect their economies. Demographically, one country stands poised to expand its economy many times over during the next 100 years: India.

Some numbers:

In 1965 the world population stood at 3.3 billion; today it is 7.3 billion.

In 2011 the average age of the world population was 32; by 2100 it will be 42.

Because China played with population via national mandates (first, grow the largest population, then one child per family), the nation will have difficulty sustaining a world-leading economy. In 2026, China will have 316 million citizens over age 60. That’s close to the entire US population.

America’s population is growing because more people are being born than are dying and because immigrants, most in their late teens or early 20s, are still coming to the United States. This combination means that the American population is younger than in other developed nations. In 2001, 21 percent of the population in the United States was under the age of 15. This compares with 18 percent in Europe and 15 percent in Japan.

To consider US immigration policy in a different light than racist invasion, the immigration policy should be liberalized and made part of a demographic plan for the nation’s future. Still, other forces like capitalistic oligarchy must be forced to participate more rationally in the nation’s economy. Further, the definition of work and the link between ‘earning’ and ‘working’ will have to be redefined otherwise the impact of automation will have a devastating effect regardless of demographics.

Stephen Chan, an international expert on population and demographics, states that immigration (perhaps a better term is ‘migration’) will continue to be a large event in international life (he refers to the current immigration out of the Middle East and Northern Africa). Consider Africa – the entire continent including central, large primitive areas where culture is still based on iron-age tribalism. These populations have no national economy to help them so their only solution is to immigrate (migrate) to nations where there may be a better opportunity to survive.

One of the more important areas of policy that must be expanded and modified to prepare for immigration-supported populations is education. The mariner suspects that the whole framework of familiar grades, secondary schools, trade schools, and colleges, is not capable of supporting the new requirements by which populations are to be educated. The slate chalkboard cannot compete with the Internet and modern technology. Nor will it prepare students and retirees for the new world of work.

So, whenever it happens that the US has representatives that understand today’s world and are making rational plans to manage it; until we have a statesman President; until we have a liberal Supreme Court; until we have state legislators who don’t keep their head where the Sun don’t shine – hold on to that slate chalkboard.

Ancient Mariner


One Nation, One God, One Answer.

Originally, 15 thousand years or more ago, religion, politics, cultural norms and common behavior among neighbors, all had one source of evaluation – one undeniable power that dictated the rules for ethics, politics, religion, even dickering with a neighbor. Fallible but relatively consistent, the source was a designated priest of sorts. The priest interpreted what was acceptable, right, timely, or not. Having a local ‘judge’ of proper morality was very convenient – very much like shopping at Walmart.

This model of maintaining morality and ethical behavior still exists in parts of the world and still is convenient. In truth, however, it is uneven in application and so dependent on unproven myth and prejudice that it can be as brutal as to condemn women and children to death as presumed witches on the whim of the priest. In perspective, this practice is more sacrificial than judgmental.

Singular authority to pass moral judgment exists in modern times as well. Excluding cultish movements that come and go, covens and the like, there are a few places where ethics and morality are meted locally. For example, in many common Amish parishes, the local parish is led by a local team comprised of a bishop and two or three ministers – all drawn from the local congregation. The interpretive power of this leadership is far ranging and covers virtually all behavior and beliefs of parish members. Further, to sustain the culture, the state has little if any authority under normal circumstances.

An irregularity in Amish practices made the news several years ago. It seemed an older brother was regularly raping his younger sister. When caught and brought before the leadership, the brother confessed his sins, was forgiven by the leadership (as God would forgive) and allowed to return to his family. As you might expect, the boy, forgiven of his behavior, resumed raping his sister. This forgiveness loop was exercised often and resulted in the state interfering – a far greater sin not worthy of forgiveness.

Today, Western Culture is in turmoil. No one, it seems, is responsible for ethical behavior, the meaning of fairness, or protection of human rights. The two largest religions, Christianity and Islam, remain embroiled in antique rituals and are preoccupied with property rights from gold plated art to the clitoris of young women. The religions have been left without moral leverage by extremely rapid changes in technology that have stripped the gears of normal cultural change.

What remain intact are the false religions of capitalism, corporatism and authoritarianism. None have moral constructs for human wellbeing. It is the nature of our technological improvements that it grows easier to skim massive wealth from old, labor sharing economies – leaving hundreds of millions of people with questionable survivability.

As a consequence, across the western world populism has emerged as the disrupting force it should be – rising only in the midst of highly imbalanced wellbeing and fairness. As usual, the populists want a ‘person’ to be able to straighten things out; the status quo abusers are not to be trusted.

It feels nice to have a priest with moral authority in place again. It’s nice to have a Walmart in town again. Alas, the simple solution never works. The old priest method ‘solves’ problems quickly and authoritatively but, as suggested above, the singular priest in charge is a questionable choice – especially today when singular authority over a planet, nuclear war, cultural values with no roots, and millions of uncared for humans around the globe are not the type of issues left to one priest’s whim.

But history will repeat itself at the visceral levels of human behavior. So here we are.

Ancient Mariner