The Big Picture

The mariner is a worrier about big picture circumstances. There were times, during his career as a consulting project manager, that he foresaw a dysfunctional future if certain immediate and short-term decisions were executed. Sometimes, the foresight was acknowledged and the approach to converting a computer system would be modified. Other times, the foresight was ignored in favor of convenience, managerial prerogative, no desire to restart, etc. Fortunately, as a consultant, the mariner had moved on before the dysfunction appeared.

The mariner sees a nasty big picture insofar as the state of affairs in the United States is concerned.

Consider the following list of big picture issues:

Governments controlled by banks and corporations. Since 1985 (we shan’t mention the revered President’s name), political control has been wrested from the citizenry; unionism has been virtually eliminated by corporate strategies; the middle class has been reduced by half; and a Supreme Court has been appointed that believes money is protected under the first amendment as free speech and a corporation is a “person” with all the Constitutional rights of a real person.

As a result of financial misbehavior by the banking industry, in 2008-10 one and a half million people declared bankruptcy, banks repossessed one million homes, nearly three million homeowners received foreclosure notices, record numbers of people (some forty-three million) received food stamps, and more than twenty million people remained unemployed and underemployed.

Social extremists, whether right wing or left wing; special interest groups like the National Rifle Association, the abortion/creation/crop seed manipulation advocates; the battle for control of energy objectives and global warming advocates and those who deny the issue, all are able to disrupt and stop normal cultural behavior with a very small percentage of the general population. The core centrists remain quiet. This will not last.

International piracy by both corporations and nations. The tech recession in the nineties had a jobless recovery. Today, government reports put unemployment rates at 8-9% but in actual terms, approximately 25% of the working force still is unemployed. Much of this dilemma was because of job loss to computerization and a surge of moving manufacturing out of the country courtesy of the US Congress. However, the recession in 2008 brought the middle class to its knees. Salaries had not increased measurably since 1985; savings accounts were gone. Personal debt was at an all time high. Corporations stopped internal retirement options. Meanwhile, corporate profits soared from these strategies and the United States became a Plutocracy.

Abuse of democratic principles by the elected. 92% of the Congress is reelected term after term after term. This is not a normal principle of democracy. The manipulation of election laws and processes, especially gerrymandering, campaigns financed by special interests and restricted voting rights, has limited the choices available to the electorate. The collapse of statesmanship and the emergence of destructive manipulation has left the Federal Government incompetent at best.

The mariner could add more to the list but this short list is more than enough to suggest that a long list of events executed in the interest of a few without regard to the big picture of life in the United States has brought us to the mariner’s favorite phrase: mounting chaos. The big picture is dysfunctional and will collapse in a cacophony of hard times, cultural upheaval and a useless government.  The following list is for the reader to contemplate as actions that will lessen the intensity of the chaos rather than letting the whole situation collapse at once.

Mandatory voting similar to that in Australia. Every citizen is required to vote or face a fine. Restrictive voting rights laws abolished.

Restructure the processes for creating districts. Remove this authority from elected officials.

Capped campaign financing. Campaign financing limited to geographic scope of specific district, state or nation associated with a given election.

Enhance employment and income for middle class. Ban right to work laws. Reinstate corporate obligation to provide retirement funding and pay raises equal to inflation. Institute profit sharing in all businesses. Create an automatic minimum wage increase tied to inflation.

These few suggestions just keep the national boat from capsizing. There still are innumerable leaks related to fringe authorities, e.g., National Rifle Association – a group financed by munitions manufacturers, not its members. What is the best balance of experience and turnover for term limits? Force trade agreements into the open. They are silent killers of American democracy.

Have a pleasant day.

Ancient mariner


2 thoughts on “The Big Picture

  1. Oh, Ancient Mariner, as usual I agree completely with the suggestions in your post. I’ve often thought that we should take measures to get more people to vote. Maybe something like fining people when they didn’t attend Sunday church services in 18th century Virginia. Maybe instead of fining people we could make them do community service for a certain time. We might also think about reversing the Supreme Court’s decision that corporations were people. Of course actions like these might be seen as taking away our God-given right to be nit-wits.

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