Letting Others Think For Us..

All of this conflicting rhetoric and division has many of us worried about the fate of our country but from the new “Quote of the Day” at the top of this blog, it sounds like that letting others think for us just might be the norm.

I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America.  –Alexis de Tocqueville 1835

2017-02-25_09-04-23.pngAlexis de Tocqueville who wrote the now infamous book “Democracy In America” was a Frenchman who traveled our country in 1835 trying to understand what made America what it was. His book is a must-read for anyone serious about understanding our country. I only recently came across this quote and it kind of surprised me to see that so many let others think for them even in his time.

I guess that is what leadership is for, to tell others what they are to believe! Of course, there are two camps in the regard today and neither one of them have the necessary leaders to give us real wisdom. They are just too busy fighting each other and contending with in-fighting in their own party to see the overall picture of our possible futures.

One party is determined to shut down almost all government responsibilities and the other is too busy trying to protect our minorities to be concerned about the rest of us.  Given these states of mind, true wisdom is completely missing from today’s dialog. How long can we exist in this current state is hard to say, but given the quote above it is not the first time we have been in this boat.. maybe it is just who we really are?

Part 3 – How Did We Get Here –Everyone For Themselves…

When a ship is sinking are you the type of person who would try to save others or are you the type to say “everyone for themselves”? It seems the answer to that question is the later if you use much of  the American electorate as the source. Here is a quote to start us out on this subject:

Here’s a good game to play with yourself: Try to figure out whether or not you can make it through Donald Trump’s presidency unharmed.What are your liabilities? What has Trump already said about your sexuality, about your culture, about your family, about you? How many promises has he made on the campaign trail, and how many of those promises have been not promises, but threats, and how many of them have been about hurting you? Really think about it.

It’s hard for me to avoid trying to convince myself that the pain I feel, in the aftermath of this election, isn’t really real. I’m a little too good at talking myself out of pain in general…

What some of us have lost — what I have lost — is a way of seeing America, and, by extension, a way of seeing ourselves. We want to believe that America, as a country, is basically good, basically just, basically principled, and basically capable of protecting the freedoms that are not just our joys, but our rights.

Source: Grieving America

I know my conservative friends call me a “bleeding heart do-gooder”. They mean that as an insult but I actually take pride in that label. Yes I do grieve that not everyone one in this country gets a fair shake. Some are born with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouths and some are born almost doomed to a life of poverty because of their surroundings.

When I think about it there is not much a Trump presidency can do to harm my personal way of life.  Yes, he could get us into WW III or a nuclear holocaust but that is simply something that is futile to worry about. He could with the enthusiastic help of Speaker Ryan take away my social security but since a very big part of his base seems to be fearful seniors I don’t see him doing that.

So, why am I worried so much about a Trump administration?   He can’t write laws, he can’t spend money not approved by congress so in the end he doesn’t have the power to do a lot of permanent damage by himself. We have survived weak and even dangerous presidents in the past and come out ok so I suspect we will survive a Trump presidency too.

I hate to see our country go into an “everyone for themselves” mode but sadly  that seems to be where we are right now.  Given that that has been the theme of the GOP for the last several years it shouldn’t come as a surprise now that they control two branches of our government.

Elizabeth Warren in 2020!!  I’m ready to contribute right now to help make that happen.

Congressional Pensions??

2016-08-29_15-51-30.pngWhen our founders set up our government their intention was that its citizens would come to the nation’s capital for a period of time  to contribute to the running of the people’s business and would then return to their normal lives.  Of course that is not what is happening today. There are way too many people  in our congress who are now collecting very lucrative pensions even after even relatively short terms in congress. There are those like Strom Thurmond, who have been there for decades and seem to want to die in office. John McCain first comes to mind in this category.

One of the major problems with this current mode of doing business, or more appropriately not doing business, is that the common good of the nation is forgotten in the process. Our representatives primary goal is to do everything possible to stay in office. The money needed to do that is what causes most of our problems.

The gridlock that we find ourselves in today is primarily due to two causes: unlimited terms in office and the gerrymandering that makes it possible.  When it seems that there are so many around that are very upset with the current political situation, I am really somewhat hopeful. If the GOP is decisively defeated in the coming election I am hoping that will cause a primary shift in the way all those yahoos think inside the beltway. They will finally understand that creating gridlock will not keep them in office.

With that renewed sanity, some there just might take a step back and look at the bigger picture. The party that is able to do that the most successfully will have the best chances of survival. No longer will the party over principles rule the day as seems so endemic today.  The second thing that then needs to be accomplished is for the Supreme Court to declare gerrymandering to be unconstitutional. Then it is up to us, as citizens, demand term limits similar to what was instituted for the president more than a half century ago. If more than eight years is too long for a president it should also be too long for members of congress.

The second shoe that will drop with term limits is to eliminate congressional pensions. No one will be around long enough to need them. Representing the people will finally be considered a limited time privilege and not an occupation as the inventors of our form of government intended.

I am a dreamer aren’t I????

It often takes some catastrophic event to cause paradigm shifts in how we do things. I am hoping that will be the case in the coming months and years.  WE simply can’t continue down the current road if we hope to survive as a nation.

Breaking the Gridlocked Mindset…

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One of my favorite bloggers is at Critical Dispatches. It is a blog about signs, posters and street art strewn around the London England area. I don’t know how the blogger finds so many of them. I think they are a regular part of the London transportation system.  Anyway the one above struck me as very prominent in my life and I expect many others.

I am a dreamer, it is an important part of what I am. But often times my dreams are just an extension of the past. In order to make a dream a real dream we need to shed the past and look for new paradigms for the future. But that is much harder said then done.  Breaking the gridlocked mindset is a very difficult thing to do in today’s world.

Gridlock seems to dominate so much of life, especially those of us who live in the U.S.  We see our politicians gridlocked in to an almost hatred for each other now. There are many Republicans who say they hate what Mr. Trump has done to their party but they hate Hillary even more. The funny thing is that if you ask them why they hate Hillary they struggle to give you an example beyond the “Crooked Hillary” vitriol rhetoric of the times.  I must admit that I wish I had another choice in this presidential campaign but when it comes which of the two now available I don’t have much doubt as to which I will vote for.  I will not let all the hateful unsubstantiated words dominate my decision.

Seeing a future repeats, or even wants to repeat the past in not forward thinking or dreaming in my mind.   We all need to spend some serious time in meditation, or whatever you want to call it, dreaming of better times and then going about doing what it takes to make that dream happen.  I love the Gandhi quote about many people doing small things is how paradigm shifts happen.  It all starts with each of us.  We must be what we want the world to look like. Now that is some simple and deep rhetoric that we need to listen to.

Gridlock Busters…The Genesis…

Slice 1Gridlock seems to be endemic within our political system here in the U.S. for decades now but never so much as it is today. Those guys in Washington just can’t get along no matter what the circumstances are.  The solution to this problem seems insurmountable using any conventional wisdom of the day.

So it is time to attack the problem with some “off-the-wall” thinking. If RJsCorner is anything it is about off-the-wall thinking, it is about viewing things for a different angle. So why not tackle this issue head-on. Why not be a “Fixer” at least in a metaphorical sense? Someone has to do it, why not me? Let me put on my gridlock buster suit and jump in…

But before I do that I will admit that this whole series will be pretty much tongue-in-cheek. I know that I don’t have much power when it comes to national, state, local, or even household issues but that doesn’t stop me from having opinions.  We all have great personal expectations on what we will contribute to the world. So, the fool that I am, I will rush in with ideas to solve this issue in upcoming posts.

Starting out, I don’t think gridlock has a silver bullet solution.  I know my GOP friends think the solution is really simple and that is for everyone just  join the Republican party. But I kind of think it will take a multi-faceted solution.  Sorry, but everybody joining the Republican party is just not an answer. Actually I think that mentality is a big part of the problem. 😉

I have been working kind of hard to come up with an appropriate logo for this endeavor. After all in today’s world appearances are everything so it is important to get it correct up front. The logo above seems to fit the bill. One guy with a sledge-hammer attacking a gigantic brick wall seems to describe what I am trying to do except I can’t actually put up the real size of the wall on this post. It just isn’t remotely big enough. If you see some similarity between this logo and a thirty year old movie it is intentional. There needs to be an army of gridlock busters out there to take down this wall. It’s too big for even me.

Keep an eye out in the coming days to see the first few possible solutions to this mess we are in and feel free to join the club and chime in wherever you think you can contribute….

We Cuss The Lawmakers….

2014-08-03_08-55-51“Well, we cuss the lawmakers . . . but I notice we’re always perfectly willin’ to share in any of the sums of money that they might distribute.” – Will Rogers, 7 April 1935

Being that we are coming up on an important election day in America I thought I would ramp up some of my feelings about politics here. I know for most, including me, this is a gutter issue in our country. We simply disdain those who we have currently chosen to represent us at the national level.

But as Will says in this quote. We seem to have disdain for all those other politicians but ours are OK as long as they get us more than our rightful share of the money they might distribute. By almost every poll taken in the last ten years we simply can’t stomach the goings-on in Washington but we seem to have no idea how to change that condition.

The first step in that  process is to accept that we are in denial when it comes to those we personally choose. In order to break the gridlock and dysfunction within the DC beltway means that we have to send a clear message to those folks. Attacking this problem around the edges has simply not had much of an effect. We send our local representative back to do the same thing over and over again and somehow expect a different result. How utterly stupid is that?

The only way things will change is to vote those currently in office out until they finally get the message. Yeah I know that might mean voting for someone who you don’t agree with on some or even many issues but you must hold your nose and do it anyway. I don’t think it would take more than a couple of total replacement for the candidates to get the message.

There is some light at the end of the tunnel in some of our current elections. It seems that an independent is leading the Kansas race. Kansas has never had a senator from a different part for over sixty years I think but that just might change this time around. If our friends in Kansas can do it surely the rest of us can also??

 

Burnout…..

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FrustrationI know I am getting burned out on all this constant bickering in the U.S. I watch little or no news on TV now. All the news channels seem to be about inciting a riot among us. My internet news sites which I visit first thing every morning are now for the most part briefly scanned.  I am just tired of all this stuff. It may just be time for me to go “Walden” as Thoreau did and drop out for a while. I seem to only be able to see the dark side of life and I just can’t live in that mode very long.

Since the Spring and Summer months are the busiest times away from blogging for me I will likely be limiting my posts to one every other day or so for a while and I will likely stay away from politics, at least for a while. I just need time to get things back in perspective again and get all this fighting off my mind….

Feeding the Cynicism….

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I have been thinking about all the partisanship and our legislative process lately.  We seem to be in a gridlocked pattern that is almost impossible to break. Washington is completely out of step with the rest of the country.  Poll after pole tells us that we the people want them to get off their butts and do something.

Doing nothing in the U.S. Senate feeds the cynicism in the country which enhances the Republican view that government can’t do anything right. The filibuster is the latest major tool used  to accomplish that task. All it takes now it for the representatives of about 10% of the U.S. population to shut down all activity in the legislative branch.

Congress used to work 45 weeks a year in the 1970s. They now are only in session for about 32 weeks. Last year set numerous records as being the least productive senate in our history. Only 2.5% of the bills submitted were even acted upon. When I think about this I get upset.  There are so many things that need done. But then again maybe doing nothing is what is right for these times.  We need to move both of our political parties back to the center. What it will take to do that is anybody’s guess.

The Turning Point…..

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“Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem.”  – Ronald Reagan

ReaganSometimes when we look back at history we wonder how did we get to where we are.  We often have trouble pinpointing a particular person or date to where it all began. On January 20, 1981 when Ronald Reagan uttered the words above  he ushered in a new breed of Republicans. These particular words were the turning point to gridlock and jumping from crisis to crisis that we see today.  It is also the specific moment that I turned away from the Republican party to look elsewhere.

No longer was government to do the people’s business but instead they were to just get out-of-the-way and let our corporate elite run the country as they had during the Robber Baron days a century before.  Government had no meaning to those who swallowed those words hook line and sinker. The safety net for our citizens lost its meaning to them.  This was the turning point where we backed away on our pledge to make sure our citizens would not starve. This was the point where “entitlements” to our poor or aged became a dirty word for some. Government became a hindrance instead of the benefit. The people’s business took a back burner to corporate interests or was actually thrown entirely off the stove.

I believe that any serious student of U.S. history knows that capitalism without regulation was a pre-cursor to the death of the middle class. It was a point where those trying to keep our food and drugs safe were stymied by lower and lower budgets. The agencies responsible for our banking system and financial sector were gutted. Taxes which were from that point on deemed almost evil were difficult to obtain to maintain our countries infrastructure and safety nets. Common sense and compassion took a back burner to greed and corruption. The people’s business suffered greatly.

stoolAnother turning point that compounded these same problems  was the sudden popularity of the MBA program in this country. That was the point where employees changed from being an asset to be treasured and treated with respect to being a liabilities that needed to be removed or gotten at the lowest possible cost. I remember very distinctly when that happened in the corporation that I was employed.  Up till that point most employees were very loyal to the companies that hired them. Chevy guys would never dream of buying a Ford and visa versa. Suddenly employer’s loyalty to workers disappeared. Benefits were taken away. Wages were stifled in order to increase corporate profits. What used to be a three-legged stool of  owners/employees/customers was suddenly taken into severe imbalance.

These two events that created the “government is the problem” Republicans and “employees are the problem” business leaders caused a dramatic shift in our economy.  When workers lost their living wages they were no longer able to buy the goods and services they had previously. To counter the loss of buying employers cut wages and benefits further. Anyone without an MBA could clearly see this cause/effect but it just didn’t seem to occur to those who  now are on most rungs of the corporate ladder.

To end this post on an upbeat, I believe that the day is coming when a balance will be restored. The majority of us will realize that our government needs resources to keep us and our world safe. Employers will realize that without a living wage their workers will never buy an increasing number of the products they desire to make.  I am an optimist. I believe this day will come. I just wonder if we will be able to pinpoint that particular point in time as easily as when Republicans became the party of “government is the problem”

Olympia Snowe leaving the Senate….

 

I have been feeling gloomy lately; I wonder why?  Everything runs in cycles, but our congress it seems, so hopefully my outlook will swing back to something more normal soon.

There are not many in Washington that I look up to anymore but Olympia Snowe was one of them.  Those two ladies from Maine always given me hope that there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel. Senator Snowe usually put the country above party when it came to  the many partisan votes of recent years. She has become a rare breed in that respect. She was one of the few Republicans who voted against impeachment of President Clinton because she knew it was only being done for political reason.

Senator Snowe is only the latest of many voices of reason that have left office due to frustration of gridlock. Here are some words from the article about that:
Source: Olympia Snowe leaving the Senate, but says she won’t stop fighting – Washington Post.

Olympia Snowe“The system has been perverted in the United States Senate,” she said. “It doesn’t let us work together to design solutions to the problems facing this great country of ours at this troubling time.

She’s especially critical of Obama and congressional leaders who are “going to put the country through this emotional travail, whip-sawing Americans, leaving them to wonder as to whether or not they have the capacity to work together” to avoid the impending “fiscal cliff,” the series of tax increases and major spending cuts set to take effect next year.

What will become of our country when all the moderates have left in frustration? I fear to think of the consequences. I can only pray that we can as usual move back to the center soon. If moderation and its resulting compromise doesn’t return soon I fear our country is toast. Pretty dark words even from me.

Goodbye Olympia, it is sad to see you go but I certainly understand your reasons….