Friday, February 18, 2011

This I Believe: Part One

The Republicans have put forward another wholly misguided and unacceptable concept of a budget and based on a misguided notion of "what the people want" - having failed to listen to a good 50% of the people out there - are drawing up battle lines instead of working for the best interests of the nation. As a result MoveOn.Org posted this notice to Facebook:
The Republicans just released their budget proposal, and it zeroes out funding for both NPR and PBS--the worst proposal in more than a decade. Tell Republicans that cutting off funding was unacceptable last time they were in charge, and it's unacceptable now. Sign the petition to save NPR and PBS.

To which I added the thought "A consistant and reliable source of free information is the other half of the equation formed by the availability of public schooling, the overall reason for which is an informed electorate. If we loose this then Republicans, fascists, and other extremist groups will have easy pickings because reality will be whatever they say it is. Fight governance by the FUD Principle (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt). Please speak up in support of NPR and PBS." (the last part of which was cutoff for reasons not explained by modern technology - no matter).

As sure as the sun rises in the morning, I knew it was coming and sure 'nuff, next day I get a response from Dan, my one and only Republican friend - "
U really don't believe that do you, lumping republicans into that group, wow.

All my democrat friends think PBS should be supported by the private sector. This name calling from the left has to stop. The two party system works. Do you really feel we can spend our way out of debt? The two have a way of moderating each other.

By the way you probably figured out I'm a republican but I don't hate democrats. I don't like all republicans or democrats and that's why I put a lot of time into my vote and cross over vote sometimes.

As my daughter would say chill dude!"

To which I would have to respond as follow:

1) For the most part my life includes friends. Not Republican friends, or Democratic friends, just friends. Given that you prefer to identify yourself with a group as part of your identity I will honor that. You are my one and only openly Republican friend. :-)
2) There is no more "name calling from the left" than there is "name calling from the right". Based on my best effort to view "what is" in our world, I have developed a set of values and beliefs that I believe set a functional and effective basis for living and moving into the future. What I believe to be essential values have been decried as everything from libertarian to socialist... mostly by Republicans. If you pick them apart, various elements may be identifiable within those platforms, as a whole they make up a combination of things that I consider enlightened centrism, neither left or right. I try NOT to indulge in either the gutless intellectualism of the left or the boldly self-centered stupidity of the right.
3) I cannot answer for your "allegedly "democrat" friends. I CAN say that among my beliefs are the simple concept that I DO expect of government to provide certain basic necessities and guarantee certain rights such that I can work with my fellow citizens to identify and solve the problems of our time without having to be constantly challenged by the lower levels of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. In other words, I expect the government to provide some security, and some public infrastructure (aka a communication system, an information system, an education system, and a transportation system), and basic rights like the right to assemble, the right to keep and bear arms, the right to freedom of religion (completely and forever uneffected by ANY group's preconceived, and boldly erroneous, notions of what the nation's founding fathers believed), and freedom of speech. The public broadcasting system serves a significant and multi-faceted role in the communications system, the education system, AND the information infrastructure. I believe that it is ABSOLUTELY as necessary as the military in ensuring our freedom and liberty, for exactly the reason stated in my original Facebook note.
4) The two party system does NOT work. It does vastly more to disenfranchise the public that to enfranchise it. It has been a weak spot in the process since it's inception, which when combined with the electoral college process, is the fundamental reason why our government for the vast majority of time over last 50 years has not been of the people, by the people, or for the people. Since the beginning, a two party system has been unduly divisive, creating and sustaining the very thing that the colonists recognized as their fatal weakness before the British crown, the notion of divide and conquer. The colonists recognized that if they let the king deal with them independently they were lost - yet they turned around and instituted a process that allowed the very same "divide and conquer" mentality to prevail in their governance, with the almost immediate effect of the subversion of our government to special interests, reaching its peak as we see it today. IMHO this was when we lost true democracy and when we locked in the concept of "the republic dominant". By the way, the only truly "democratic" election I've observed in my lifetime is the one that occurred some years ago in California, when Arnold Schwarzenegger (a Republican) was elected governor.

I don't hate Republicans. I regret that, as a group they have moved away from constructive dialog and toward divisive rhetoric. "Read my lips!" Give me a break! Current Republican actions are on a par with picking a fight over where the deck chairs should be on the Titanic - as it's going down! In essence, the Republicans have chosen genuflective pandering to the "tea party" over genuine functional leadership and will undoubtedly squander what little they have gained. We need to work TOGETHER and the Republicans have decided to "claim" a mandate that they simply don't have and fight about everything instead. The Democrats have been horrible at delivering a functional message and the Republicans have been functional at delivering a horrible message. Great! As you may or may not have figured out I walk my talk. I'm neither a Democrat NOR a Republican. I'm an independent... and no, I'm not going to "chill, dude!" I'm going to keep right on calling it like I see it.

I believe that our greatest test as a people and a culture may in fact be whether or not we can almost completely reverse this state of affairs and adopt a public and social standard of respect, even reverence, for individual independence simultaneous with a fundamental respect for each other AND a capacity for fast, effective collective action in the greater good. We need to be engineering a social structure and process that is simultaneously sustaining and nurturing to independent ability, while fostering and sustaining a capacity for immediate collective action as and where it is needed. Much as the people of Flight 92 came together from completely disparate backgrounds to take rapid action in the greater good, we as a civilization and a country need to be able to act quickly and effectively in the greater good, without the constant pissing on each others shoes about how the deck chairs should be arranged on a foundering Titanic. Had the men of the Titanic worked together quickly, deck chairs and other such materials could have been lashed together to form additional flotation, with the likelihood of significant additional lives saved.

Today, we pay vast lip service to the value of the individual and (his or her) independence and violently argue about "state's rights" vs the federal system, yet NONE of our processes form an effective path from our schools to our social structures, to our business processes, and ultimately our governance. Our system manifestly fails to "recruit" the young of the next generation to sustain and support the processes and systems that have been put in place before them. As a result, we are burdened with high drop out rates, gang problems, higher rates of prison incarceration than college graduation, extraordinary difficulty starting and sustaining businesses, constant social expressions of insecurity and disenfranchisement, and most particularly, inadequate, divisive, and dysfunctional governance. Each stage of the process reaps the "benefits" of the previous stage's inadequacy. Our economic system is unworkable. Our supply system is unsustainable. Our security system is failing daily. Our educational system has failed two generations of Americans manifestly, as evidence by the fact that 50% of the country was manipulated by special interests into the thought it was a good idea to have a good 'ol boy from Texas, who couldn't run a baseball team successfully, run the country. We have engineered a society in which the simple function of taking responsibility for our own well being is almost an impossibility. For most people there is little or no prospect of EVER owning a real piece of land and working it, in whatever fashion, to their own self sustenance and improvement. There is HUGE prospect of them sinking a lifetimes wages into successive, unproductive pieces of real estate that they will never actually own but will spend their lives "paying for". Further the system is built to REQUIRE levels of dependence that are, at their core, anti-individual, ant-community, unhealthy, and unsustainable. They are reflections of what is so wrong with our process today - the ultimate failure of the capitalist process is when it fails to acknowledge any other value than a monetary value.

Is There Hope?? Why, yes, yes there is... See This I Believe: Part Two