Category Archives: social trajectory

Is America Sending Young Inner City Blacks False Sonar

beached-whales-australia-photo3463
In capitalist societies, we typically are responsible for the choices we make. Some make bad life choices. But when a massive segment of society continues to make poor life choices, do we not have to question whether or not it is the individual or the circumstances in which they were placed?

For instance, what causes a pod of whales to beach themselves? Are these bad life choices or are they the best choices given the circumstances? If ship sonar signals these whales to turn to shallow waters where they become beached, is it the whales that are too be blamed or is it the ship? And what of baby sea turtles that turn away from the sea, thinking that house lights are the moon, and die of exhaustion?

Given societies signals, are the choices that young, inner city blacks make that end in dropping out of school, turning to gangs, making cash in illegal activities, failing to achieve job skills and living off the system poor choices? If they are, why does such a high percentage of young black make these same choices generation after generation, city after city across America?

I contend that the system provides erroneous sonar, false lights to follow if you will. And our capitalist system works whether the trade is legal or not. Without a legit signal of a living wage to swim toward, our inner city youth strand themselves on the beach. It is this false signal that is the basis of institutional racism that still persists in our country.

Perhaps it is through no fault of any individual. Who is not aware of the probabilities of high crime rates involving black youth. It would be hard not to react to such probabilities and no one can be blamed for self preservation. Yet, these signals create pathways for individuals to interact that in themselves can create institutional racism. It is these false signals which must be broken through conscious effort if we are to reduce its effect on our inner cities.

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Racism as Viewed from the Extreme Right of America Needs to be Understood If We are to Move Forward

TrayvonMartinHoodedYesterday, I spent the day deep within a rightwing chat group that was in the midst of discussing the Trayvon Martin case. Trayvon’s death has created vitriol on both sides of the political divide and once again displays America’s ongoing racial tensions for the entire world. To get a pulse on the extreme right’s 2013 views regarding America’s racism, I engaged the group.

Not wanting sugar coated, political correctness, I stirred the hornet’s nest a bit knowing that angry bees usually sting with conviction. The raw opinions expressed were startling but real. No more startling than those on the left, the right extreme of America sees racism, however, in a vastly different light. Before America can come together to solve our nation’s enduring problems of race, we must first understand that a huge gap does exist, and more importantly, why it exists. Only then can we resolve our differences.

As you will see by the comments, some on the right deny that racism even exists. And when agreeing that it does exist, some say it doesn’t rise to the level of many other problems facing America. I contend, however, that racism is a major cause of many of our other critical issues and that none of these can be solved without reducing the impacts of racism.

Not only does racism tear down the dignity of its victims, but racism also harms its perpetrators. It retards everyone’s prosperity, slows our economy, forfeits jobs, destroys communities, and steals hope and happiness from millions of Americans. Reducing racism’s impact should be is a top priority that demands the attention of our generation.

If racism actually does so much harm, why then do so many think as this group I visited? And if their beliefs are so deeply ingrained, can progress really be made without trying to understand their views? With that question in mind, I share the thoughts expressed yesterday from this right-wing group. The comments have been altered to protect the privacy of the commenters. I caution that you may be dismayed by these comments, yet they are deeply held beliefs of a sizable segment of America.

DOES RACISM EXIST IN AMERICA?

“Racism does not exist today. Racists are long gone and dead.”

“Slavery has been gone for 150 years. How long does it take to heal the wounds?”

“Racism would be nonexistent if the political class and media didn’t get power and money from it.”

“We have no racism in America. Everyone has the same freedoms. Personal responsibility means we each must take advantage of our freedoms.”

“Racism is from older generations, not my generation and younger. We do not know racism.”

“Racism is a blame game that is fostered by the people who profit from the enslaved remaining enslaved.”

“Racism is more with blacks against whites than with whites against blacks.”

“We live in a post racist society”

“Most often it is those that call whites racist that are the racists themselves.”

“Racists are bigots of low expectations for blacks. “

WHAT PROBLEMS DOES RACISM CAUSE?

“Rather than racism, inner city families major issue is poor education caused by drugs gangs, welfare, and broken families.”

“The root causes of racism are bad education, dependency on welfare and denial of God”

“When we pay mothers to have illegitimate babies, they have more. Paying for illegitimate babies destroyed families, and destroyed a worthwhile black culture.”

“High black unemployment is not due to racism. It is due to jail, police records, single parent families, gangs, drugs, and high school dropouts. These problems have nothing to do with racism.”

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO SOLVE RACISM?

“Racism is not my problem.”

“Blacks need to take responsibility for their lives.”

“It is time for Black America to clean up their own communities. It is their responsibility to fix their schools, their drugs, and their gangs.”

“There is nothing more that white America can do to fix black problems of unwed mothers, or black’s disdain for education and jobs.”

“The black community is the only one that can fix their own culture.”

“Stop trying to convince us that there is huge racism in this country. People who do that promote racism.”

“Constantly talking about racism and using it to blame others fosters more racism.”

“Blacks need to grow up, get off entitlements and work like all other minorities have done in America.”

“Blacks need to stop following race baiting leaders like Sharpton and Jackson that flame the race issue.”

“Blacks need to stop harboring hatred and racism towards whites for what happened over 100 years ago. This attitude corrupts America.”

“Racism was not caused by my relatives. We immigrated after the Civil War.”

“Quit manufacturing the issue of institutional racism.”

“All that can be done through Congress has been done. In fact, Congress has over legislated to the point of causing reverse racism.”

“Labeling everything as racist is irritating. Let’s stop labeling ourselves racists and instead just label ourselves American.”

“Stop giving people what they should earn. Giving destroys pride and self worth and that destroys drive and hope.”

“Shoving trillions of dollars into the black community did not fix overwhelming poverty and is not the answer.”

“Whites do not make blacks behave badly. Blacks must reduce their crime, illegitimate births, dependence on welfare, offensive behaviors and speech, and their antipathy to education. They must get serious about assimilating into mainstream American culture.

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH LIBERALS REGARDING RACISM

“Liberals believe that blacks cannot succeed without their superior kindness and care. They don’t believe that blacks are their equal. Calling them victims feeds their self-serving benevolence.”

“Liberals would rather provoke race wars that cause deaths of f thousands than admit that blacks bear responsibility for their failures.”

“It is easier for liberals to tell blacks that their problem is caused by hateful whites than that to tell them it is because of their own sloth, dishonesty and lack of moral standards.”

———————————–

There you have it. At one extreme, American whites are frustrated by the existence of racism and deny responsibility for it. They believe that America has done more than any other country to make up for our sins of the past and that blacks must now do for themselves to eradicate irresponsible behavior and join the rest of society.

At the end of the Civil War, Black leaders asked that Lincoln provide freedmen forty acres of farmable land and a mule. They didn’t ask to be fed and clothed and kept in housing without contributing to society. They were asking to be given a hand up to economic freedom with the ability to work their land and to provide for their families through their own labors. Forty acres and a mule represented a living wage at the end of the Civil War. It was a path to America’s recovery.

America has done much to recover from the sins of our past. The impacts of racism are not nearly as great for many as they were at the end of the Civil War. Yet, in all that has been accomplished in past 145 years, the one thing that was asked of Lincoln in 1864 has never been accomplished. Achieving the equivalent of 40 acres and a mule, a living wage by today’s standard, has yet to be accomplished for millions of blacks in America’s inner cities.

What is needed is a level start and a living wage. Until we pair economic freedom with political freedom, America will not have reached closure with our past. The comments above suggest that one segment of our society believes we have more than surpassed that point. Their visceral responses suggest that much more understanding must be sought between America’s extremes.

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Will Knowledge Explosion Lead to Peace…or War?

snowden
Some ask why prognosticators predict war over peace, as if it is blindly an easier and more provocative path to predict, rather than the harder path to achieve of world peace.

The answer lies in the historical pattern of power transitions between nations. While the world superpower period that we are in is unprecedented, regional superpower, empire, and hegemonic patterns are fairly well defined. As such, we are entering what historically has been the final phase of a hegemony, when a competing power grows powerful enough to wage war.

Hegemonies typically last for 3 to 5 generations. We are in the last generations historically of our hegemony. China already has way more people, acceptable manufacturing capacity, burgeoning technological ability, growing military strength, and a breadth of neocolonial trading relationships. The pattern for emerging war within a generation is concentrating.

Historically, when a nation emerges to wield similar capacities as the World’s dominant nation, and is not happy with the world’s economic and political systems that are designed to benefit the dominant nation, it sets the stage for war. The emerging nation attempts to bend the economic system their way, is met with opposing force of the dominant nation, and conflict erupts.

China is winning ground on all fronts. So, examining the historical patterns, the phase of our hegemony and China’s transition, and the pattern of conflict that has occurred consistently over the past millennium, some predict military conflict in the future.

A couple of trends oppose a classical war transition. One is the size of hegemonies involved. The U.S., being the most powerful hegemony that has ever existed, then requires a competitor to extend their capacity for war to unprecedented levels. Yet, China has been highly successful in gutting our military manufacturing capacity, which actually creates a more unstable environment that could lead to war simply because it equalizes power more quickly.

Another has been the resolve by which America pursues protection of hegemonic resources such as oil in the Middle East. Yet, our ten year wars have drawn us into the same economic drain that took down the Soviet Union. China, on the other hand, has been successful in creating new trading arrangements that circumvent the dollar as oil trading currency. These trends ultimately will prove the axiom of the taller you are the harder you fall, for as the greatest hegemony in history, America will fall the farthest if knocked down from our pedestal.

One hopeful trend that I discussed a few posts earlier is that the world is on the vertical slope of the information age, and gains in knowledge are progressing at light speed. It was hopeful that that Arab Spring was born from social media. The world’s citizens are connecting through the internet and are beginning to break down nationalist prejudices. There is the potential that people throughout the world will choose peace through knowledge.

Yet, history has shown that increased knowledge leads to military superiority, which leads to a higher probability of war if gained by the opposing force of the hegemony. This leads us back to why both China and the United States are attempting to fly up the vertical path of the world’s knowledge explosion to gain the upper hand. Hence, we have seen, thanks to folks like Snowden, the massive buildup of knowledge processing capacity by the NSA.

If mankind will make the leap toward removing worldwide bigoted barriers through an explosion of knowledge sharing, then Snowden will have earned a historical place as a true hero of world civilization. If, however, mankind follows our consistent historical pattern of technical superiority leading to armed conflict, then Snowden will be recorded by world history to have been simply another crack in the dyke of America’s hegemony giving way to war.

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Filed under American Governance, China, National Security, Social Media Democracy, social trajectory, War

My Tale of Two Cities

1524_medieval-ii-total-war-kingdoms-screenshots-20070510005326319It’s time for a fairy tale, so pull up a chair and I’ll tell ye me yarn… Once upon a time there existed two great tribes in all the world. They were sworn enemies because of generations of bigotry and fear. They built their civilizations in lands far, far away from one another. Yet many wars occurred between them because of their fears and greed.

If each had desired to ensure that both became prosperous, then neither would have gone to war with the other and neither would have needed the protection of warriors. But the world did not progress nor will it ever much, for that is the nature of man.

Each tribe therefore kept great armies of warriors and made their greatest warriors king. Each king created coins from shiny metals to aid his people in trade and commerce. Each king also divvied up his lands according to loyalties and kinsmanship. Some tribesmen received vast estates, but half of the tribesmen received no land at all.

Upon their vast lands, the most favored of tribesmen aspired to expand commerce and to increase their lands further. With land as collateral, vast landowners were given coins by the king to spur the work of others on their lands.

Whenever a tribesman was deemed ready and able to provide future labor, he was provided coins through debt contract to purchase goods from other tribesmen. Metals bound the work of each tribesman to the benefit of the vast landowners, to the king, and to his kingdom.

The king and vast landowners expected each able tribesman to do all manners of work for the tribe. Those that contributed most received the most coins and could therefore live most comfortably within the tribe. However, provisions were made so that all tribesmen who worked diligently could eat and have shelter, for this was the other side of the coin of man’s nature.

For those tribesmen that could not work enough to feed themselves, other tribesmen were commanded by a vote of all tribesmen to share their wealth so that each might eat. Through this vote, the kings endeared their subjects against insurrection, for all men were better off in their kingdoms than in facing the world alone.

This is where the similarities between the kingdoms stopped. For one kingdom became very prosperous, well before the other. One kingdom was wise to invest labor in schools, roads, and laws to govern commerce. Over time, because of its investment, some ingenious tribesmen were able to capitalize the tribe’s investment through their own ingenuity to create much better means of commerce, and they became wealthy in coins.

They accumulated many more coins than they could use, for even when they lavished coins to obtain the finest huts and goods, they still had stockpiles of coins. They found with so many coins they did not need a king. So they set about to use their excess coins to grow great armies of warriors to break free of the king, to form an empire, and to colonize the other tribe, for this was still the nature of man.

They then forced the other tribe to take less gold for each hour worked and to accept less goods in trade. They forced the other tribe to dig for raw materials, while keeping the skilled trades to themselves, claiming these labors to be worthy of more coins.

After many generations, a calm came over the lands of the two tribes, and many forget the true nature of man, that of bigotry and fear, lust for power and enslavement of others. Assuming the world had evolved to a peaceful existence, the vast landowners and ingenious men of commerce found that they could employ the colonized tribe for many less coins. So, instead of using these coins to employ their own tribesmen, they gave fewer coins to the other tribe in exchange for labor, and slowly the colony began to prosper.

But in transferring coins to the colony, the vast landowners and ingenious men of commerce idled their own tribesmen. Skills were lost, assets were obsoleted, and the empire slowly withered. Little by little, more and more tribesmen could not earn enough coins to feed their families. Fear and mistrust overtook the once great civilization.

The vast landowners and ingenious men of commerce had made great profits from the colonized people, but in so doing, they impoverished their own tribe. Their choices stressed the coffers of taxation. Empty coffers brought into question the very nature of the empire’s commitment to its people. Too many needed fed.

Vast landowners forgot that they had been given their land by virtue of their kinsmanship. Ingenious men of commerce forgot that they were able to capitalize their ingenuity on the infrastructure provided by the investments of others. And all of the empire’s elite forgot that the darkest nature of man can ultimately only be suppressed by warriors.

Over time, the empire withered and the colony continued to prosper until it was more powerful than the empire. The colony then refused to accept less coins for its labor. And it refused to help fill the coffers of the empire that were now barren. After a generation had passed, the colony became the empire and the empire turned colony. Now a colony, its people were given less coins for their labor by the colony turned empire.

Where once vast landowners and men of ingenuity had grown their stockpiles of coins, they now found in a mere few generations more that their stockpiles of coins were gone. They had foolishly squandered their inheritance. They no longer could afford their warriors and accepted their fate in watching the nature of man rise against them.

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Divine Law Sets the Boundaries Between the Social Contract and Natural Law

220px-Thomas_Hobbes_(portrait)The limits of human interaction are bounded by the state of nature and the state of the social contract. Each of these limits, however, is further limited by Divine Law.

In the state of nature, there are no rights of man and no laws to govern him, only freedoms to take what he can by force to enable him to extend the longevity and happiness of his life. In the state of nature, man has boundless freedom to take from others what he can, but the ensuing chaos leaves all but the strongest few with less happiness, less safety, and less life.

To improve the likelihood of achieving most men’s divine and natural goals, over time they entered into social contracts with others to establish societies. Through social contracts, man gave up natural freedoms that allowed him to take whatsoever he desired by force, but in giving up his natural freedoms, he gained the structure through which he could increase safety from having his happiness and life taken from others. The essence of the social contract became law, and the process of creating law was embodied in political society.

An uneasy balance between the social contract and natural rights has been our struggle of human existence ever since. Power struggles within tribes for dominance have shifted this balance through the many political systems to which we have subjected each other. And between tribes, the social contract was neglected and wars pitted tribe against tribe, executing organized natural law to shed blood for profit.

Within tribes, the struggle between social contracts and natural rights is bounded by the limits of authoritarianism and anarchy. Kings and priests shared authoritarianism in early societies. Today, most society’s powers are divided amongst representative governments and the “new kings” of the international, powerful, financial elite. Yet whether by kings, priests or financial elite, power is still bounded by the opposite limits of totalitarianism and the threat of revolution or devolution into anarchy.

Within the realm bounded by these firm human limits are the limits required by Divine Law. Divine Law suggests that neither of the limits of authoritarian control or of the natural state provide optimum communion with God. Both extremes take away from man’s divine purpose on Earth.

The Declaration of Independence recognized that Divine Law should govern man well before he ever is subjected to the extremes of human law. The founders agreed by signature that men are:

“endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness”

Declaration of Independence, 1776

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Franklin D. Roosevelt Supported the Unalienable Right to a Living Wage

U.S. Presidential PortraitsFranklin D. Roosevelt made the leap, incorrectly I believe, that Constitutionally derived rights contained in the Bill of Rights were unalienable rather than manmade. Unalienable rights are not derived by men, but can only be stewarded by him..

Nonetheless, he correctly enumerated, once again in my opinion, additional unalienable rights in his speech to Congress in 1944 of a second Bill of Rights that should be established for the people. He said:

“In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens.

For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.”

Now some, knowing what transpired under FDR, would say this list of rights is somehow socialist or even communist. Far from it…

My priorities set about to provide for these same unalienable rights and I am neither socialist or communist. I see the twists and pulls from both the right and left extremes that attempt to prevent these rights of man. FDR’s Second Bill of Rights demonstrates just how much America has gone astray.

If God is real, has created Earth and placed man on it, then as all the major religions suggest, He created man and Earth for communion with him. Then unalienable rights were given to man by God that cannot be taken away, even from the individual himself, for they are rights that God gives to man to use only as a steward of these rights, in that these rights enable man to commune with God.

All these rights rest on the big “IF” God is real. If he is, then we act out in antiauthoritarian ways when we pass laws that diminish man’s ability to commune with God. Life, for instance, is an unalienable right. Without it, we cannot commune. Liberty is as well for God suggests we are his slave only. Logic would suggest that God then placed man with the ability to sustain life through his toils and that anyone who would step in the way of that contract with man would be acting in antiauthoritarian ways against God.

With this as a basis, one can peruse FDR’s Second Bill of Rights to examine how each supports communion with God, and how interference with these rights attempts to thwart man’s communion. One might argue that since man finds a way to commune whether he has the exercise of these rights taken from him or not, that they are not unalienable. However, just because God can commune even through the greatest of man’s interference in the rights of others, it does not mean that interference isn’t desecrating those rights.

So if God is real and if communing with God is man’s greatest purpose on Earth, then a nation should create the greatest opportunity for unalienable rights to exist. The Declaration stated “that among these” meaning it did not enumerate all unalienable rights. FDR enumerated more of these rights. America has moved far away from protection of these rights. And, moving toward them is our greatest priority.

Among these rights is the right to a living wage. A system wide approach to correcting the failings of government can not only shrink antiauthoritarian policies that cost us all so much, it can also produce life, liberty and a more viable path toward the pursuit of happiness.

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Divine Law is the Defense Over Addictive Power

1361966304_Victory parade in Red Square, Moscow, 24th June 1945.Is there a truly evil power that afflicts the world, is there a dark side as is portrayed in science fiction, is there universal force of evil that attempts to feed men? We suggest that capitalism is the economic system that balances this dark force for the good of nations but if such a dark force exists can it truly be contained? Consider this thought from the sci-fi writer Adam Turquine…

“Evil is not just a theory of paradox, but an actual entity that exists only for itself. From its ether of manifestation that is garlanded in perpetual darkness, it not only influences and seeks the ruination and destruction of everything that resides in our universe, but rushes to embrace its own oblivion as well.

To accomplish this, however, it must hide within the shroud of lies and deceit it spins to manipulate the weak-minded as well as those who choose to ally themselves with it for their own personal gain. For evil must rely on the self-serving interests of the arrogant, the lustful, the power-hungry, the hateful, and the greedy to feed and proliferate. This then becomes the condition of evil’s existence: the baneful ideologies of those who wantonly chose to ignore the needs and rights of others, inducing oppression, fear, pain, and even death throughout the cosmos. And by these means, evil seeks to supplant the balance of the universe with its perverse nature.

And once all that was good has been extinguished by corruption or annihilation, evil will then turn upon and consume what remains: particularly its immoral servants who have assisted its purpose so well … along with itself. And within that terrible instant of unimaginable exploding quantum fury, it will burn brighter than a trillion galaxies to herald its moment of ultimate triumph. But a moment is all that it shall be. And a micro-second later when the last amber burns and flickers out to the demise of dissolving ash, evil will leave its legacy of a totally devoid universe as its everlasting monument to eternal death.”

How does one that is not driven by the intoxication of evil power nonetheless gain an understanding of it. If it is power that skews men’s wages to the detriment of a nation, should we then not try to gain more than a vague understanding of it:

“The fairy tale belongs to the poor…I know of no fairy tale which upholds the tyrant, or takes the part of the strong against the weak. A fascist fairy tale is an absurdity.”
― Erik Christian Haugaard

“Power is a word the meaning of which we do not understand.”
― Leo Tolstoy

Perhaps we are lucky to have escaped a grasp of understanding for it seems there is no escape once one falls prey to its lure:

“In the beginning, the taste of power is sweet, savored on the tongue, like fine wine. It whispers promises in your ear and pretends to be your friend. It is easy to become addicted to this feeling.”
― Rahma Krambo

“Whoever has experienced the power and the unrestrained ability to humiliate another human being automatically loses his own sensations. Tyranny is a habit, it has its own organic life, it develops finally into a disease. The habit can kill and coarsen the very best man or woman to the level of a beast. Blood and power intoxicate … the return of the human dignity, repentance and regeneration becomes almost impossible.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

For the masses of us who have not been tormented by the temptations of power, we are nonetheless victims of this obscure stranger:

“Power lacks moral or principles. It only has interests.”
― Horacio Castellanos Moya

“For the powerful, crimes are those that others commit.”
― Noam Chomsky

“The object of terrorism is terrorism. The object of oppression is oppression. The object of torture is torture. The object of murder is murder. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?…Power is not a means; it is an end.”
― George Orwell

“Station is the paradox of the world of my people, the limitation of our power within the hunger for power. It is gained through treachery and invites treachery against those who gain it. Those most powerful in Menzoberranzan spend their days watching over their shoulders, defending against the daggers that would find their backs. Their deaths usually come from the front.” -Drizzt Do’Urden”

“People with power always take advantage of those without power.”
― Christopher Pike

“It is the destiny of the weak to be devoured by the strong.”
― Otto von Bismarck

“Power brings a man many luxuries, but a clean pair of hands is seldom among them.”
― Robert Harris, Imperium

We Americans go about our quiet lives depending on our institutions of fairness and justice to govern the affairs of others over us yet it is power that directs our lives when we turn over our institutions to others:

“If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States.”
― Henry A. Wallace

“What better way for a ruling class to claim and hold power than to pose as the defenders of the nation.”
― Christopher Hitchens

“All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities.”
― Frank Herbert

So then we must choose whether power will be our master:

“In this world, who can do a thing, will not;
And who would do it, cannot, I perceive:
Yet the will’s somewhat — somewhat, too, the power —
And thus we half-men struggle.”
― Robert Browning

“History shows that it does not matter who is in power or what revolutionary forces take over the government, those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they had in the beginning.”
― Carter G. Woodson

Unless we are so far removed from power, it is hard for us to see it influence over us:

“What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?
I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.
There is not a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States at this very hour.”
― Frederick Douglass

“It is a self-deception of philosophers and moralists to imagine that they escape decadence by opposing it. That is beyond their will; and, however little they acknowledge it, one later discovers that they were among the most powerful promoters of decadence.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Yet as a nation, we collectively have righteous power to correct imbalance:

“To me, the conclusion that the public has the ultimate responsibility for the behavior of even the biggest businesses is empowering and hopeful, rather than disappointing. My conclusion is not a moralistic one about who is right or wrong, admirable or selfish, a good guy or a bad guy. My conclusion is instead a prediction, based on what I have seen happening in the past. Businesses have changed when the public came to expect and require different behavior, to reward businesses for behavior that the public wanted, and to make things difficult for businesses practicing behaviors that the public didn’t want. I predict that in the future, just as in the past, changes in public attitudes will be essential for changes in businesses’ environmental practices.”
― Jared Diamond, Collapse

The powerful may be less powerful in the end for they are inhibited by their station:

“The higher a man stands on the social ladder, the greater the number of people he is connected with, the more power he has over other people, the more obvious is the predestination and inevitability of his every action.”
― Leo Tolstoy

Yet the masses are not so constrained:

“You have a power that most high noblemen envy. It is a power that, had you been born an aristocrat, would have made you one of the most deadly and influential people in all of the final empire…’But, you weren’t born an aristocrat. You’re not noble. You don’t have to play by their rules–and that makes you even more powerful.”
― Brandon Sanderson

“You can tell people of the need to struggle, but when the powerless start to see that they really can make a difference, nothing can quench the fire.”
― Leymah Gbowee

Ultimately the rule of law is no defense against power:

“Constitutions become the ultimate tyranny,” Paul said. “They’re organized power on such a scale as to be overwhelming. The constitution is social power mobilized and it has no conscience. It can crush the highest and the lowest, removing all dignity and individuality. It has an unstable balance point and no limitations.”
― Frank Herbert

Yet divine law if it exists, is a subtle, everlasting defense:

“God has chosen to save the world through the cross, through the shameful and
powerless death of the crucified Messiah. If that shocking event is the
revelation of the deepest truth about the character of God, then our whole way
of seeing the world is turned upside down… all values are transformed… God
refuses to play games of power and prestige on human terms.”
― Richard Hays

“The great question…What did Jesus actually bring, if not world peace, universal prosperity, and a better world? What has he brought?

The answer is very simple: God…. He has brought God, and now we know his face, now we can call upon him. Now we know the path that we human beings have to take in this world. Jesus has brought God and with God the truth about our origin and destiny: faith, hope and love. It is only because of our hardness of heart that we think this is too little. Yes indeed, God’s power works quietly in this world, but it is the true and the lasting power. Again and again, God’s cause seems to be in its death throes. Yet over and over again it proves to be the thing that truly endures and saves.”
― Pope Benedict XVI

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Filed under American Governance, American Politics, social trajectory, World Sustainability

“Do the Right Thing” Detroit!

spike lee“Do the Right Thing”, Spike Lee’s critically acclaimed film about racial tensions leading to a riot in Brooklyn is a poetic description of tensions brewing again in Detroit. In his movie, the heat of the summer drenched the neighborhood in frustration as racial prejudices simmered and then snapped in a triggering event that led to a rioting climax.

Detroit is a city, region, and state that seems destined to repeat its failures of the past. Embroiled in its latest crisis, the answer seems once again that a white majority will impose its will on a black, oppressed minority. How fairly that the white majority’s will is imposed will be critical to the measure of civil reaction, but nonetheless, unless found to be unconstitutional, it’s voting majority will be imposed. Rather than work to build revenues through a viable plan, the state has hired an emergency manager whose responsibility will be to impose austerity on the city.

Detroit’s fiscal problem of too few citizens covering pension and infrastructure costs of a bygone era that had 250% of its current population will be met by a state that has drawn a battle line with Proposal 2. The short term solution, given this paradigm, will be to impose some austerity. In Greece and in London, this solution has created riots. In London, the first riots occurred just because meetings were occurring to discuss what austerity measures would be imposed later. Could the sweltering summer of 2013 be the breaking point for Detroit?

Voicing this issue will no doubt raise the ire of Detroiters that may be concerned that merely mentioning the word riot could inspire would be rioters to carry on Detroit’s tradition. However, if the slightest possibility exists that racial tensions are now such that civil unrest could be a result of future measures to be imposed, then reasoning in relative safety of pre-action discourse is a safety valve on the issue. Raising the question should be viewed dispassionately as part of the solution to the potential problem that is brewing.

The white majority, now living in the suburbs, left Detroit. The city now must pay for pensions and infrastructure that were incurred to support suburbians, their parents and their grandparents, before they left for the suburbs. Now after having used Detroit’s infrastructure, and after having left the legacy costs to a much smaller, entrapped, vastly black population of Detroit Proper to pay for them, the white majority is going to impose austerity on this entrapped population to pay for those past services and infrastructure.

This scenario, however correct or flawed in its interpretation, is what will be the match that lights the tender box of continuing institutional racism in Michigan. History has shown that a small youth gang disturbance, or a police scene at a party is all that is needed to leave scores dead and hundreds injured when such rife brews undetectable at the surface.

In Spike Lee’s movie, a wise elderly town drunk with a good and decent heart that the neighborhood calls “the mayor” tries to stop the riot that begins to build through reasoning with the people on the street. But by the time a riot erupts, reasoning is an obsolete tool of political leadership. Kevin Orr must do what he must do now that the state has imposed its will. The time for reason, community involvement, understanding, and hope for a future after austerity is now. The time for a viable plan for Detroit’s citizens to rise from this bottom is now. The time to add such a plan that brings real hope is now!

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Filed under American Governance, American Politics, City Planning, Economic Crisis, Racism, Social Media Democracy, social trajectory

Detroit and America Must Choose to Banish Catch 22

Catch-22-1961-by-Joseph-H
Catch 22 is a phrase in the book by the same name that has come to mean a problem that has no solution, for it contains a circular argument, like those that have plagued Detroit for the past 63 years. These problems have been blamed for the misery of millions. Are they truly Catch 22?

Problem #1

To bring more business and population to Detroit, crime must be reduced. But crime cannot be reduced unless there are jobs that pay living wages. And jobs will not be created unless there are incoming businesses, which will not come because there is too much crime.

……………………………………………Catch 22….

Problem #2

Crime will not be reduced unless would be criminals can find jobs to replace benefits of crime. To do so, those jobs must pay living wages. But a majority of the unemployed are illiterate and undereducated and do not qualify for jobs that pay living wages. Therefore, they cannot obtain jobs that will pay living wages. Without a living wage, crime will not be reduced.

……………………………………………Catch 22….

Problem #3

America’s unemployed need jobs. To employ Americans, a minimum legal wage must be paid. But the world competes to make and sell widgets, and world wages to make widgets are less than America’s minimum legal wage. Therefore widgets must be made overseas and sold to Americans. Making widgets overseas keeps Americans unemployed and without jobs.

……………………………………………Catch 22….

For the past 63 years, since the peak of employment and population, the leadership of Detroit, as well as most major cities in America, has accepted the Catch 22 paradigm that their economic problems are unsolvable and therefore, not really a burden that is theirs to carry. Accepting the Catch 22 paradigm means they condemn America to high unemployment and high crime in our inner cities. Accepting the Catch 22 paradigm means that millions of lives will go unfulfilled and wasted, that millions of children go unfed each night, and that our nation suffers as we commit the least of ours to an arduous lifelong pursuit of happiness.

Catch 22 paradigms are roadblocks that keep America’s political leadership from helping America to reach optimal output and productivity. Catch 22 paradigms are impediments that keep Americans from reaching their highest opportunity for all to pursue happiness.

Catch 22 paradigms, however, are merely paradigms that are placed in the collective consciousness of America by those that wish them to exist. America is conditioned to accept them yet they need not be accepted. Owners of capital benefit from them. Political leaders benefit from them. The rest of America does not benefit from them. If America accepts these paradigms, they continue. If America simply rejects these paradigms, they vanish.

Catch 22 paradigms support the efforts of owners of capital to create maximum wealth but cost trillions of dollars and millions of jobs in the American economy. America could force American capitalists to spend their dollars in America. But our history, principles, and laws support the freedom of owners of capital to spend their dollars in whatever part of the world provides the highest returns.

To force owners of capital to spend their dollars in America would require a change of laws that would turn on our principles of freedom for all Americans. We cannot turn our back on our heritage of freedom. Therefore, we accept that the economic engine of America, the capital of our wealthy elite will be spent in other parts of the world, costing trillions of dollars of loss and millions of jobs in our economy.

…………………………………………………Catch 22

Solutions do exist to Catch 22. American owners of capital can make profits in America to employ our workforce without forcing them to spend dollars here if political compromise is made to allow equivalent profit. Jobs can be created that include a living wage, if political compromise allows for living wages. Crime can then be reduced and the pursuit of happiness can be lifted to a higher plane. And believe it or not, all of this can be accomplished without spending more tax dollars, which is the ultimate cry of those shouting Catch 22.

These real and viable solutions, however, require political compromise. America’s economic problems have arisen from deep seated differences of vision that drive conservative and liberal parties alike to pursue their own visions without compromise, producing the political vacuum that must exist for Catch 22 paradigms to live.

In Detroit, one vision is for all that have made it through the gauntlet and that have risen at least to the middle class to escape to the suburbs, and to make Downtown a playground fortress against the poverty of the inner city, while giving up the rest of Detroit’s citizens to Catch 22. The other vision is to form a grass roots effort to fight the plight caused by Catch 22 to all of Detroit’s citizens, yet without attacking Catch 22 as a mere paradigm. They therefore accept its paradigm that economic suffering must continue. Detroit’s two opposing visions have fought compromise since the riots of 1967 brought their opposing views into the political light.

Problems that such a lack of compromise creates in Detroit then cause the city to fester without solution. Polarized city political leaderships acquiesce to the meager capital investments left for their cities as they pursue their opposing political visions. Polarized state political leadership compete with other states for limited capital investments by promising owners of capital that they will not have to share the tax burdens of the state. And polarized federal political leaders pass legislation to allow for owners of capital to make maximum profits overseas at the expense of jobs at home.

Political leaders become convinced that their political interests lie closer to the owners of capital than to those of the rest of their constituency. Without having to compromise across the aisle, they pass Catch 22 legislation that make it easier for owners of capital to invest dollars overseas while escaping the uncompromising political fighting that continues at home. Political leaders’ efforts on behalf of America’s elite become an easier route to remaining in political power than having to bend in political compromise on behalf of America.

Detroit’s solution rests in ending Catch 22. America’s solution rests in ending Catch 22. The solution to ending Catch 22 rests in political compromise that puts Detroit’s future, America’s future ahead of political expediency. Viable solutions exist. Jobs can be created. Owners of capital can be rewarded in America. Much suffering can be banished. The American economy can return to prosperity.

No Catch 22….

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Filed under American Governance, American Politics, Bureaucracy, Economic Crisis, Free Trade, Full Employment, Jobs, Multinational Corporations, social trajectory, U.S. Tax Policy

To Grow Detroit, Invest in People

18eatonacademyTo grow a city, one must have a blueprint…one that organizes the resources, that multiplies livability, and that increases the vitality of the city as it is progressively implemented each generation.

Detroit’s original blueprint was one of an iron muscle, people living in close quarters to their factories, with all basic amenities of a roaring blue collar town close by and with the energy of community in the forefront.

The definition of livability continues to adapt to the evolving way we interact with each other. The blueprint for a “New Paris of the Midwest” will be different than Detroit’s original footprint. In a way, the blight that has affected a third of Detroit’s acreage is a silver lining that makes way for a new, more vibrant Detroit.

Now, real, functioning structure must be laid atop the blueprint. The city must have the working infrastructure of commerce and community. Detroit must have functioning roads, trash removal, police, fire, EMS, courts, city planning, administration, and all of the means of governance that allow the city to efficiently grow, minimizing artificial impediments.

For a city to prosper economically, the city’s culture must be amenable to growth, to collaboration and innovation. Its people must want to share in the fruits of their labor so that everyone who contributes to the multiplying wealth of the city prospers as well. And the city must be inviting to all who would venture in with new ideas and capital.

With the rudiments of success in place, the city must commence preparing its people for growth. Each person is an asset that brings value to the city. How each person is molded as they pass through the infrastructure of the city from birth through adulthood will determine the wealth potential of the city.

A child can be nurtured through city’s infrastructure complex and can come out the other side ready to earn $250,000 a year contributing to the city’s growth. That same child can be trampled through the system and come out the other side a negative burden in the city’s welfare. The efficiency and focus of the city’s infrastructure in placing that child on a higher plane of earning potential then determines the ultimate wealth of the city.

Multiply the average preparation value of each child times the number of children exiting the preparation system and you can predict the direction of the city. If the average preparation value falls below a sustainable level, the value of the city will fall. I suggest that allowing a city to graduate only 22% of its students with only 2% ready for college is well below the level to sustain a city’s wealth.

No amount of Downtown facades will correct the deficiency of the city’s engine of growth, its people. Detroit, it is time to set your infrastructure on course with a thriving path.

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