Some readers of the mariner’s blog are discomforted by the negative tone that often creeps into the mariner’s posts. He admits that sometimes he does not need to share his dissatisfaction with every day nuisances like rabbits and Midwest weather. Grant him the excuse of personal therapy.
Some readers feel the mariner is simply depressed. This is too bad because the reader shoots the messenger and discounts the information. The truth is that the mariner is depressed by the content of his posts – as the reader should be as well. Nevertheless, the mariner has an ethic about the quality of information and the important, though sometimes abstract, revelations put forward.
He knows he is more the skeptic than the poet. The mariner chooses to comport himself with the likes of Gandhi, King, Amos, Joshua, Geronimo and Jane Fonda. Something is grotesquely wrong with the United States today. Every one of us lives defensively – not noticeably day-to-day for most of us but we huddle under the shrub like my friend the rabbit, hoping no predator will pounce on us.
In this post, rather than go on and on about the details of this grotesqueness, the mariner will list topics followed by the primary issue and how it may affect us rabbits. He asks the reader to bookmark these mentally so the reader will notice activity in the news that is related to these topics. In later posts, perhaps he will expand the detail as he did with the bribe money paid to greedy Congressmen by corporations to fast track the TPP. (Incidentally, he just mentioned the primary predators of us rabbits: government and corporations.)
Private money in government. This topic has more snakes than Medusa. At the top, legislation must be enacted that prevents financial contributions from any private source and limits campaign financing to the governments holding elections. We are affected by money in government because it displaces democracy. Adding insult to injury, the Supreme Court recently declared money as speech. Therefore, it’s not one person one vote; it’s one dollar one vote.
Gerrymandering. Mandatory to resolution of redistricting abuse is to remove this function from political influence primarily by removing elected officials and party leaders from the process. The size and population of a district is intended to be based entirely on census data and equal distribution among the districts. There is a new issue that threatens one person one vote: The Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that would determine district population only by registered voters, not the census. Since the Court threw out the Civil Rights Act supervision of election procedures, thirteen states have been purging voter rolls without verification – eliminating many who have been voting for years but are the wrong race, too poor or disruptive to local politics, e.g., college students. Adding this new interpretation will enable gerrymanderers to ignore whole neighborhoods as if they didn’t exist. Gerrymandering is the root cause for needing the term “silent majority.”
Voting. Updating the way we vote is long overdue. We should consider Australia’s model. Voting is mandatory; if a voter fails to vote, he/she is fined. Further, votes should be cast by a mailed ballot. Internet voting opens a completely different set of problems and would be even easier to manipulate (Your vote is supposed to be secret for several reasons; does the reader think Google will respect your privacy? New ads will appear on your computer obviously based on the way you voted.) Mandatory, mailed voting will help with the gerrymandering topic.
The topics listed above must be repaired before we can expect any changes to the way corporations treat employees, the environment, and international business practices. On the government side, the topics must be repaired before there will be citizen-centric policy for entitlements, infrastructure, military objectives, developing new markets using modern technical solutions, and economic policy – just to name a few. Topics that will have the most profound impact are listed below.
Environment. Deceptively, addressing the environment will have a profound effect on every topic on this list. Briefly, many dramatic disasters will be avoided along the coasts, destructive weather, and across all the species of life; reset the domestic economy with new jobs, new policies affecting the oil and gas industry versus other energy sources – creating new areas of industry and development; a massive upgrade of the infrastructure to require less energy and less costly materials, including a resurgence in shipping via rail – a rail that will be based on new, more efficient technologies; all this only skims the surface of what solving the environment issue will generate.
Government control of natural resources. Today, corporations invade, misuse or destroy many kinds of resources from oil spills to backfilling sensitive estuaries to grazing cattle for free on protected land. The issue of control could be seen as a subset of the environment topic. However, government control of natural resources has a strong element of economic policy that is more to the point. It will have a much greater impact on corporate behavior. For example, how livestock is raised, what chemicals are allowed on any natural resource from golf courses to chickens to fish farms. Good examples in today’s food production are the issues of labeling and artificial additives. Holding up the Keystone pipeline because of ancillary US cost, political interference, tax revenue, and a host of local objections related to the disruption of local businesses is another example. If US governments, Federal, State and Local, had more influence and were backed by citizen-centric political power instead of corporate payoffs, the use and development of natural resources would be fair, improve production and be rational.
International control of multinational corporations. This is a scary topic for the mariner. As corporations move into the international markets made possible by computerization and telecommunication, they are moving into an area void of regulations, national law, and human rights. The multinational corporations will create a faux “government” presence that nations will have great difficulty controlling. An EXCELLENT example is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. Generally, it grants freedoms to corporations to operate in several nations as they see fit; they can ignore work related regulations because the multinational corporation is not under the jurisdiction of any one nation or, as the mariner suspects the TPP is written, all the nations collectively. They can move profit around to avoid taxes (that already happens often). The structure of international agreements, as they are written now, almost guarantee a culture of skimming, bribes and payoffs. Never forget the purpose of any corporation: profit, profit, profit, and no liability.
US tax structure. Taxes are the tool with which government has the ability to execute its functions. Today, as everyone knows, the tax code has more holes than a screen door. Most of the holes, similar to the TPP payoff, are inserted by interests who own the Congressmen, or Governors, or state legislators. The tax code, along with suppressed payroll practices since 1985, has created the imbalance of personal worth such that 90% of the population does not share in GDP profits. All the profits go to the 10% who own 37% of the country’s stock market shares. Fixing taxes will take lots of time and wheeling and dealing. It won’t begin until the current antagonistic atmosphere surrounding elected officials is normalized.
Don’t be depressed. The mariner feels better already!