“Democracy”

de·moc·ra·cy n

“the control of an organization by its members, who have a free and equal right to participate in decision-making processes.” (Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.)

If Mr. Flores would ask me to help prevent someone (anyone) from expressing his point of view in a “democratic” meeting, I would wonder what Mr. Flores was trying to hide. If Mr. Flores then pointed out several times that the police were there to keep order — and he posted a couple of bouncers near the person who wanted to speak (you can see their bottom halves in the second photo) – I would make a big effort to find out why Mr. Flores didn’t want this person to express his opinion. Knowledgeable honorable people who are looking for solutions to real problems – such people are not afraid of ideas.

What is a Town Hall Meeting?

“A town hall meeting is an informal public meeting which gives the members of a community an opportunity to get together to discuss emerging issues and to voice concerns and preferences for their community.”

Mr. Flores meeting, of course, was not a Town Hall Meeting. When a person talks for a couple of hours without discussing, that is not a town hall meeting.

“dis·cus·sion n
Talk or a talk between two or more people about a subject.”

When we the people go to a town hall meeting, we expect a discussion. What can we do in a supposedly democracy in a fake town hall meeting when we are not permitted to have a real discussion?

According to a recent publication of the TEA party: “I understand that the local MoveOn.org and Brazos Progressives will be out in force preaching more class warfare.” It sounds to me like the TEA party leadership also does not want a discussion.

I can’t speak for the MoveOn Leadership in DC, because I walked out on about their fourth sentence, because up to then nearly every sentence contained the word “fight” two or three times. Well, yes – if you want to end up in a fight, then you should fight. However, fighting will only make our problems worse.

We have very serious problems that are out of control, and the only way to control them is to deal with their causes. Beating up on someone else (passive-aggressive or overt aggressive) never solved any real problem over the long term. Beating up on other people only makes more enemies. I think Jesus and Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. and the Buddha all agree on this point, and I believe they have accomplished more that is worth accomplishing than almost anyone else I know about. Winning doesn’t solve problems. It’s fun, but it only makes more enemies. If we really want to solve problems more than we want to have fun – well, our behavior labels us. Clearly we don’t.

And anyway, there is no way to win ourselves out of this particular problem in which we find ourselves. There is no way to solve it with fake town hall meetings that concentrate on economics in a fake democracy that does everything in it’s power to prevent us from understanding really what our problem is. So that we could actually get together and solve it. So, the meeting was all about economics, but – I’m not an economist, so here is the definition of economics.

“ec·o·nom·ics n
1. the study of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services (takes a singular verb)”

So – economics studies the relationship between supply and demand. Nobody talked about that in the town hall meeting, even though the root cause of our very big problem is the relationship between supply (from this good green earth) of everything we need to stay alive — and demand (by humans).

The real problem is that we are running low on supply and our so-called economics is trying to solve that problem by selling more stuff. And borrowing money. Neither of which will solve the problem of a limited supply. Does it make sense to try to produce more when there are fewer resources? Not even to an economist, but if we only had those two choices in a condition of low supply – well, I wouldn’t do either of those solutions, I would tell the people what is the real root problem and ask them to help solve it. But as that solution seems not to be on the table, surely borrowing money can’t be nearly as toxic as trying to make more stuff when we are running a bit low on resources.

Even I know that outflows are only one side of the economics problem. And inflows do not come from people. They come from the green mother earth. If we want to try to fix our very big problem we can’t do it by focusing only on the outflows. We will have to think, talk and share ideas about the inflows, where they come from, and how we plan to get enough without destroying the green mother earth that produces them.

God made the world as he made it. God did not make supermarkets. He made the earth to be fruitful with carrots and potatoes and corn and wheat and apples. He did not make economics. He told us to be honest and kind and compassionate. He did not suggest that we use trickery and chicanery to get what we want by causing harm to others.

I say to MoveOn and the progressives and the TEA party that you are all fighting over ephemera, and if you don’t start looking for real, factual information about how God did make this world to operate – then you will all lose. And so will I.

I say to MoveOn and the Progressives and the TEA party, and especially Mr. Flores, you are all wrong when you fight over some “democracy” that is dead and gone and never was like you say it was. You should be working together to learn the real facts about how this good green earth nurtures and feeds us – learn where our real supplies really come from and how — so that you all can help to build a more bountiful life style for the future. Instead of just having a fun game of king of the hill.

If Mr. Flores were to ask me to help make sure that someone doesn’t have a chance to talk – that his ideas should not be heard, I would wonder what Mr. Flores is trying to hide. Here’s my first guess. I guess he’s afraid we folks in the audience will figure out how much he does NOT know about our world and our country and even our economy. And how much he does NOT know about what is needed to make our country honorable and fruitful once again.

So I think it would be better to ask. That guy who didn’t get to talk might have had a good idea.

Nothing is what it seems.

and everything is what it is (Yogi Berra).

That was NOT a town hall meeting.

People get to talk to each other in town hall meetings. That was a really, really, really long lecture.

Oh well, this blog started out as a study of different kinds of power.

Ladies

Ladies, you need to expand your views beyond your own personal “human rights,” to include the real needs of starving and undernourished people around the world (including in the USA). The availability of family planning to the poor of the world was one of the first things that Obama restored when he took office. I think this effort to withdraw it again (see below I copied from PopulationConnection.org) must be the most important of any event to all of us if we care about starvation, immigration, economic and peace issues, and we need to say so. You know why this is happening. The corposystem uses uneducated people to push it’s agenda, because it benefits from all of the above, and so do the NGO’s that come to the rescue of the victims and have been incorporated into the corposystem. If this were not so, we would be concerned with helping people to a better life — not denying the necessary technology. It would conceivably be possible to use technologies to benefit the people rather than primarily to benefit the political/corporate domination of the people. And of course, the more desperate people there are in the world the more money is to be made off them in war, aid, propaganda and surveilance activities. If we would stop fighting among ourselves for a minute we would realized that we the people are being farmed like cattle, using our propaganda as a the management tool. We do not need more people-to-people hatred in this world. We do need to know that the corposystem is NOT A PERSON AND IS NOT OUR SPIRITUAL ADVISOR. It is an emergent entity of vast destruction to all human rights.

“We told you on Monday that the Republican majority in the House was poised to pass major restrictions on international family planning—including a cut of more than $200 million from current levels.
But now some members of the House want to eliminate that funding altogether. Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) has proposed an amendment to the bill cut international family planning funding to zero. That’s right: the world Bob Latta envisions is one in which women and families in the developing world have no access to contraceptives to help them prevent unintended pregnancy. The extent of the misery and suffering resulting from such a cut is almost unimaginable. Today, thanks to U.S. support for family planning, more than 26 million women in the poorest countries in the world are able to delay or prevent pregnancy. Soon, if Bob Latta and his allies have their way, the clinics those women and their families rely on will close.
The Latta measure is not the only appalling amendment we expect to see. The Pence amendment, which bars all funding from Planned Parenthood, is expected to come to a vote as soon as tomorrow. Additionally, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) has filed an amendment to prevent the expansion family planning services covered by Medicaid—even though investing in family planning is one of the best ways to restrain health care costs. These amendments must not pass.
The far right must not be allowed use the rhetoric of fiscal discipline to pass their reactionary, irresponsible ideology. Please take a moment and send a message to your member of Congress: Defeat the anti-family planning agenda.”

The web link is on the right

Sister Joan

http://ncronline.org/print/22601

After Tucson, we must bring conversations ‘into the light’
By Joan Chittister
Created Feb 01, 2011
by Joan Chittister [1] on Feb. 01, 2011
• From Where I Stand [2]

The country is in a new kind of national simmer these days, the boiling point of which may well determine the social climate of this country for years to come. All the signs are clear.
For the first time in history, the President of the United States has raised the nature of civil discourse to the level of a State of the Union address. Assembled for that speech, many members of the Congress of the United States sat together, intermingled, as if they really were all cooperating citizens of the same country.

And after having been shot through the brain in a face-to-face assassination attempt, Representative Gabrielle Giffords’ medical condition, though now upgraded to “Good,” will nevertheless, her doctors say, take “months of physical therapy” for her to reach a state of ‘new normal.’

We have, it appears, a country that has abandoned civility while it extols democracy, is mired in polarization at its highest levels and calls that politics, and is provocative and dangerous to both public figures and citizens alike and says we can’t imagine how those things happen.

I suppose it’s possible to conclude that things could be worse and to simply go on business as usual. In fact, many people do, apparently. But around the edges and in the shadow of it all, in personal conversation and in public gatherings, the unsaid is being said. Old topics, once considered closed, are surfacing again.

Why? Because some events are, by nature, “illuminating.” And we have just had one of those events.

Giffords, the target of an assassination attempt, and the numbers of people who were killed in her stead and the even larger number of people who were wounded and lived but who will never again be quite the same persons as they were before the event may never be able to forget those topics. Nor will we. One way or another: either because we face the issue or because we don’t.

An “illuminating event” is one that has more meaning to it than is at first apparent. It brings multiple issues into focus at one time and shines the light of the soul on issues too often kept in darkness. Because of an illuminating event, the relationship between a number of apparently unrelated issues are unmasked in one fell swoop. The attempted assassination of a public official in the United States of America has done that. Clearly, this event has much to teach us all.

First, language matters: I have written in this column before now about my concern for the level of discourse — if you can call it that — pervading cyberspace, poisoning the minds of children, and demeaning whole segments of society. Name calling and baseless accusations have become commonplace in recent years. The global anonymity of the internet, unlike any other media, has, it seems, released all the demons of the heart into the atmosphere — without accountability, without substantiation, without boundaries.

Assassinations of the spirit are now the coin of the realm. They are a kind of media lynching: People, so much easier to destroy than good arguments, are being hung out to dry in front of all our faces in the dark of the night by ghosts without bodies and speakers without faces. It’s one thing to pollute the air, the water, and the soil of the planet but it is far more dangerous to pollute the human soul with attacks of random violence against bullied school children, against public figures who think differently than we do and against social groups of whom we do not approve. .

In the name of “free speech” the freedom to assassinate is being worn as a badge of democracy. And it happens on the best sites on the internet, including this one.

As a result, the United States is toxic. There was a time when slander and libel were legal offenses. Now there is too much of it to even begin to tame. We have come to the point where we pay television and radio hosts to do it bigger and better than their competition, in fact. Masking as ‘journalists’ they talk over answers to the very questions they themselves have just asked.

Why? Because it brings more of the same kind of people to the site, that’s why. Because people listen to it, that’s why.

If we really wanted such an atmosphere to change, we would deny it oxygen. But, according to the polls, these programs prosper and with them the polarization temperature of the nation rises. What can we possibly expect in a social climate like this but violence in a tinder box?

So, while we’re sitting around blaming left, right and center for the attack on Giffords, maybe we better start with ourselves.

Second, the mentally ill are human beings who find themselves in an environment with too few laws to protect them from themselves. In two cases of which I have personal knowledge, two young people attempted to admit themselves to their local mental health center for help and were sent home and told to call someone “if they felt the same way tomorrow.” By tomorrow, one of those young men had killed himself, the other had killed his girlfriend and two of their three small children as well as himself.

No law required short-term admission and observation so long-term help never arrived.
While a panel of citizens and officials discussed the effect of hate radio and attack language on public violence, one of the official speakers himself called Gifford’s shooter, a man with mental problems, “a monster.”

But the mentally ill are no more “monsters” than any people with communicable illnesses — they are simply mentally ill. Ask the families who love and try to care for these people day after day.

Third, yes, the tiresome old alibi “guns don’t kill people, people do” is at least true on one level. But it fails pitiably on others: What people kill people? Should all people be allowed to have guns? Shouldn’t licenses be renewed regularly in the way we do driver’s licenses? Should professional references be expected?

What was needed at Gifford’s assassination, a national representative said, was “just one more gun.” Really? And then what will we do when every argument or difference of opinion becomes a shoot out?

From where I stand, the interesting thing is that most of us outside Giffords’ district in Arizona may never have heard her name before this. But after this, her name will mean a number of different things to us all.

Unless we insist that these conversations continue — out of the darkness and into the light that has illuminated them — we may all be hurt by any one of them at any time: the verbal attacks, the mental illness or, it is clear, even the guns.

[Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister is a longtime contributor to NCR. Her Web column, From Where I Stand, is found on the NCR Web site: NCRonline.org/blogs/from-where-i-stand [3].]

Emphasis mine. I say we all have already been hurt by the verbal violence before and after this event. (LL)

Simple Math

Tell me if I’m wrong, but here is how it seems to me. Speaking of Religion.

All the one-God religions (I know nothing about the multi-God religions) the one-God religions all give us the hook of immortality if we will nurture our positive human values. And they threaten us with various punishments if we honor our more disagreeable human values.

Buddhism too.

The corpotechnosystem, on the other hand, offers us immortality if we will buy their stuff, including their “I win/you lose” ethic that serves their need to grow-grow-grow until everyone is fighting over the available resources.

Given the probabilities, you are not likely to win in spite of the most humongous lie of all.* So which sounds more like fun and the most useful ethic? Spending one’s whole life trying to not be a loser, and probably failing or at least feeling like a failure? Or spending one’s life working together with others to build a more humane culture? In case you are the rare person who doesn’t care about immortality, the math is the same, because the rewards and punishments are built in to each of these ethics, in this life, or that of your grandchildren. Oh. Maybe that is immortality? 🙂
___________
*”Everyone is or can be a winner.” Good grief, even three-year-olds know better than that. In a win lose/culture NOBODY can be a winner unless a bunch of other people are losing. Bad odds.

Bare Bones Biology 024. Problem Solving I

So, I retired about 10 or 11 years ago, I know you’ll get tired of hearing this story, and looked around to find some charismatic leader who is going in the same direction. I would become his or her follower and so make a contribution to the future. The only requirement was it has to cause more good than harm for people and the ecosystem.

I looked.

And looked.

And looked.

Lots of charismatic leaders flying off in all directions, but if you put them all in one big pile they cancel each other out. No progress. This is OK if you believe in the evolution model of solving problems, because eventually something will climb out of the pile that brings about change, but it’s extremely inefficient.

The evolution model is that everyone works really, really hard at whatever they are good at, and then one wins according to the conditions of the day, and the other 99 get lopped off. That may be OK for dinosaurs and other creatures that don’t do science and history, and don’t know how to learn from their mistakes, but I think it’s really inefficient for persons like us who have logical brains. I prefer to work at something that has more than a ½ percent probability of succeeding.

So I kept on looking, and what I found, among the charismatic leaders around the world, was a set of problem solving techniques that don’t solve problems. Or rather, they only solve little temporary problems — sometimes.

This was beginning to remind me of the time in my previous life that I determined never again to do anything I would be ashamed of. It lasted almost two years, and I basically never did anything at all for the whole two years except maintain life and limb and keep my job . I contrast that with my first trip to Japan. I squirm with embarrassment even now, remembering how almost everything I did was inappropriate to where I was, and yet I wouldn’t trade that experience for any other single experience in my life. But it would have been better if I knew what I was getting into before I got into it.

Maybe there is something between those two, where we can avoid the really, really dumb mistakes, and study the things we don’t understand before we try to change them. I mean, we are the only creatures gifted with that kind of mind.

And there is, actually, a set of problem-solving methods that can be expected to do more good than harm, but only rarely do we see it actually used. Maybe that’s because the people who used these techniques succeeded in solving some problems, and that’s why we don’t hear about them on the public media. Problem gone. But of course you’re asking how this could be done, and I will tell you. It’s different for every problem, and it will only work if the people really want to solve the problem. So whatever it is the problem you want to solve, don’t claim that you have really tried until you follow this program:

1. Identify your very specific goal so you decide what actions are more likely to accomplish that goal.
2. Study the root causes of whatever problem you are trying to resolve, not only the sound-bite possibilities, or the propaganda possibilities, or whatever you want to make happen.
3. Learn the differences between facts and opinions.
4. Be very skeptical about the opinions and the “facts” of people who have money invested in the outcome.
5. Be very sure about the parts of the problem that you can not change. There are always parts you can’t change, even if you are a rich American who owns a technology company. Don’t try to change them.
6. Figure out what human behaviors are contributing to the problem. Because human behaviors are nearly the only thing you really can change.
7. Don’t lie to the people. They’ll probably figure it out.
8. Listen to the people who disagree with you. They may be your best source of good ideas.
9. Discuss the problem with everyone who is affected by it, including the children, unto the seventh generation.

Power Politics

I am in favor of Obama as our leader, but I am sure that he does not understand the problem we are facing. I have known this for 50 years — this problem — and my knowledge is based on the most basic processes that permit our life to be alive. In proof of my statement that I knew, I offer the fact that I pulled my retirement money out before the market went absolutely crazy — but that is also not relevant.

The point is that the earth productivity can not grow anymore, and the market is based on growth. That’s all I can say about it. That’s why I wrote my book for people who don’t see how the biology of the ecosystem directly impacts the market. If it can’t grow it — can’t grow. Human technology or politics can not change how the ecosystem functions.

But I never delved into all the reductionist details of explaining this in terms of the economy or the social implications or the political — every problem in our lives right now, every problem of significance, is tied in with this fact, and it is a fact, that the economy has begun to shrink because the earth can no longer expand its productivity.

So I just found an article that explains in beautiful detail exactly why. I think you might just slip this into the covers of my energy handbook and consider seriously how this relates to Obama and all the other candidates. I would send this to Chet also, but I see I don’t have an email and he probably wouldn’t get it anyway. Maybe I’ll slip it into another book and carry it over to his office.

I believe it is the duty of every politician to understand the problem. The information is available and the Post Carbon Institute is by far our best source of real information for actually responding to the facts on the ground..

This insane fighting over something we can not change is the biggest waste of time I have ever seen anyone do. The only result of all this bickering will be to make the big crash bigger because we didn’t do anything to deal with the actual problem. The problem of our survival with any kind of comfort and human rights on this earth is not political; it is biological.