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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Money lacks wisdom

Turns out that being wealthy does NOT necessarily mean a person is intelligent, and in fact, very rich people can be very stupid.

In this country money is an important subject, and I like starting with the sentence above because I wish most people in the United States believed it, but I fear there is a sense of entitlement instead with money. And I worry that people believe that wealth somehow imbues the wealthy with special powers, including intelligence.

It does not.

The financial problems of 2008 may already have receded in the minds of many who may have forgotten that very wealthy people and institutions managed to almost derail human civilization and collapse our world, and were promptly bailed out in one of the most expensive rescues of stupid people in the history of the world.

Today many fear that money will rule in politics, and that the ability to spend unlimited amounts of cash by individuals and organizations, especially corporations, will trump the intelligence of the nation's citizens, and hand even more power into the hands of people who not too long ago almost destroyed the world.

But, who are you reading the above and how?

I'm not rich. In fact I'm financially troubled now, trying to figure out how to make enough money to live a comfortable life. And I've spent some time trying to figure money out! Which can be seen in some of my posts. How are you reading me in this supposedly money dominated world?

The path to the near financial collapse of the world in 2008 I think was partially paved by coddling stupidity where some wealthy people learned not to care about mistakes as they had gamed the US Government to protect them.

Sadly they were right, where they should have been wrong.

And I'm not against wealth. I would not mind being wealthy myself though I do not chase it as if it were a way to enter Heaven. I do not believe that accruing vast amounts of wealth is akin to paradise on earth. I do not worship money.

But I do not think coddling stupidity is good no matter how rich a person is.

That coddling is not capitalism. It is foolishly supporting inept people who will get ever more expensive until they collapse the system under the weight of their failure, or nearly collapse it.

By gaming the system, wealthy and inept people lead to a profound test of the value of merit, as notice, in time the system destabilized as bad players were not weeded out. Controlling the US Government so adeptly allowed the social experiment to deliver its just fruits--destabilization of the nation and the world.

Today we have a snarl of bad government issues that cover a vast array of areas screwed up by wealthy people with power who may have in some cases naively believed they could do better. They could, they believed fix tort law, control welfare, solve taxes as a problem by lessening their own, and venture outside of money into areas like managing gun regulations, the reproductive behavior of women and a host of other things. But by far their biggest effort was to, yup, control world finances to remove the business cycle and bring themselves endless wealth.

Instead they had to cash in with their bailouts. Now maybe they think they can reboot?

The rest of us learned that rich people can be stupid too. It's not sensible to have to get taught that lesson again.

The web is part of our answer, however.

The sharing of vast numbers of people in new ways outside of a system dominated by television has changed the game I am certain, and we will see.

I think we'll see just how stupid some wealthy people can be as they throw away money on misleading political ads and endless fundraisers for bought politicians, in a world where people like me, and you, dear Reader, can get the information we need, because finally we have the tools and the motivation.

After all, paying rich people to be stupid with tax dollars is rather irritating, or should be.

I think it's something we, the people of the United States of America, should avoid.

Oh yeah, and need I remind: just because someone is rich it doesn't mean he isn't also stupid?

Just wanted to mention that again, and can, as it's my blog. And I love being an American.

You see we kind of got this thing called freedom of speech.

So please share your wisdom--the web lets you--and as we help each other, we can protect ourselves from the bad people: and maybe then there will be more money for all.

But most importantly, we can have a government for the people and by the people as envisioned in the ideals of Founders who though flawed themselves, could point us in a direction that could carry a nation for centuries to come.

I don't believe we've lost our nation to wealth. And I refuse to believe that money can buy this country.

But you see, I actually believe in it.

James Harris

Friday, February 28, 2014

What destiny?

Freedom of speech is such a famous right of people in the United States of America that it almost feels redundant to bring it up here. But it can be such an awesome thing in surprising ways as, here in this country we have two major political parties that are troubled.

The Democrats and Republicans so dominate the political conversation that some may forget they came into existence beating prior political parties that existed before them and that a country far greater than either can simply dismiss dysfunction if it so chooses.

And stating that feels quite good and I relish the freedom that lets me state the obvious without fear. And I can go further:

IN a country ruled by merit, one can imagine simply putting forward better ideas that can help remind a country of what it does best and in so doing help people politically to live better, which I think is a Progressive position.

And if you can imagine it, then why not write it? And if you can write it, why not put it forward publicly?

In some other country, however, one might simply be afraid to state your political ideas for good reason. You might even be tortured or killed for trying to so choose.

As public and famous as our free speech right is, I think also great about this country is a simple notion that people have the ability to make their own choices. And our government at its best enables that ability.

I codifed my views in this regard into a statement within a post where I gave my suggestion for a new political party as why not? I have the right to express my opinions and I think we have a country that needs better than our current two dominant political party choices. This country has not grown greater by rewarding failure.

Success defines itself.

Here's a piece of what I wrote which I think is a relevant excerpt as it focuses on choice:

That there is a fundamental right to access to information, and also a fundamental right to privacy, as well as the right to, as best one can, choose one's own destiny, including as a matter of course, a woman's right to choose.

Quite deliberately I found myself placing several things together as each is related to our ability to choose.

How can you choose well without enough information?

How many of us have suffered and continue to suffer trying to figure out something as basic as where to work where you want and where people want you? Searching for jobs is one of the classic areas where it is so profound to just know where they are! And how best to get one. But that's just one example relevant to me in my personal situation, as there are many others.

And your right to privacy? How different is it to live without knowing what someone else is watching, or hearing about you? How differently might you move if your government were, say, watching you in your bedroom? Or monitoring your phone calls? Or was bugging and tracking your vehicle to see everywhere you go, or hear everything you say within it?

Could it control you with lots of information on your deepest desires?

How well might you choose in such an environment?

And along with things that can detract from your ability to choose what if you were more likely to be paid less because of your sex?

Women face any number of challenges to their ability to choose so I thought it worth mentioning that directly as something that runs counter to the ideals of this nation.

Do you take choice for granted? Do you think "destiny" is a meaningless word in modern society?

Then why not consider British society?

I am fascinated by the British for many reasons. They have a culture which has dominated the world in many ways for centuries, and represent the most dominant past influence on my own country which escaped theirs by rebellion. And they have many values I like to think I share, like a love of the English language. 

The British, including of course the English, seem to relish a tradition of enjoying language and the wonder of writing well. I make no pretense about my own writing, as I consider it primarily functional, but as a reader I love writing done well, and love the idea of someone working to do it well.

While I'm sure most British would scoff at the idea of destiny in their lives there is no doubt that for some it is still very real as consider a baby recently born, famous around the globe and the choices in front of him in this life. 

While I don't doubt that the Royal Family will do its best to raise a kid happy and healthy with a sense of his right to choose his own destiny, one wonders how easy would it really be for him to simply choose, say, for a while later in life to just be a beach bum?

And the thing is, I don't know how many people actually manage to make that choice. I've dreamed about it myself but never managed, but I have little doubt that if I tried there would be no national outcry of dismay!

From the extreme maybe we can better appreciate that principle that making your own choices, for good or ill, as best one can, is a core principle that can define a society in ways that may surprise.

People talk about the wonder of a nation where the ideal is that anyone can grow up to become president of the United States, but I'd add that anyone can help write the future of the nation. And our free speech right gives each of us that possibility to be part of the conversation that helps define a future.

Our destiny as a nation is to lead I firmly believe because we give people the freedom to define themselves, hone and polish their skills and step out on the world stage with the confidence of practice.

We are a nation where merit matters.

It is important to be good at what you do.

That is a value worth keeping.

Freedom is not just given. Freedom is learned. And we can help teach a world that human beings are not what we as human beings can put into some rational box, but are creative beings where the best is always yet to come--if you choose it to be.

So our destiny is unknowable as it is waiting to be lived.

And our choices will make our world.

Choose as best you can and for those in my nation the United States of America please remember: you have the right to choose. Never forget it.

James Harris

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Government that enables

One of those puzzles of society which I think should be clear, is the role of government, so I went ahead and defined it as part of my platform for a new political party I call the Core Middle Party.

What I came up with for the role of government is:

The role of government is to protect and enable its citizens.

And I think that the idea that government should enable its citizens is the concept that is often missing, and can it really all be that simple?

How can such a powerful concept as governance be encapsulated in such a simple, single sentence?

Well I think government enables people in strong countries to focus on their personal lives and their families without worrying too much about constantly marching off to war.

I believe a good government should enable you to have electricity, and clean water.

Can you imagine working hard to get clean water? Plenty of people around the world DO have to work hard to get clean water, but many people in my country the United States get to take it for granted because government regulations, and institutions around water enable us to have clean water. (Though we shouldn't take it for granted, and need to keep careful watch so that we really do.)

Consider a counterpoint when government disables: the US Postal service is going through hard times and some politicians have talked about ending Saturday delivery of mail.

That is removing a service. Here government would NOT enable Americans to receive mail on Saturday, and in fact since we do so now, the change would DISABLE Americans from receiving Saturday deliver instead!

Now then, sound like a bad idea? Yup.

Why would you want your government to disable you?

Isn't that easy?


So much from a simple sentence! We just set some US policy for the US Postal service!!!

That's politics that works, and works for you. (And yes, we're doing politics here if you hadn't noticed.)

If you just think government protects or should protect, you lose the ability to evaluate whether or not we should have Saturday delivery by the postal service based on whether or not it enables or disables its citizens.

Do you want your government disabling you?

Unfortunately, some people do.

For instance, some hate entitlements, thinking that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are enabling people in a bad way, so they wish to disable those programs.

Notice "enable" is not really a loaded word one way or another.

To some it is a bad word! To them enabling citizens to not worry about food with Food Stamps is a horrible thing! And they will tell you it is, and try to explain why they wish to disable these people and send them scurrying about looking for food, when their government has enabled them to consider other things, like educating their children.

See how powerful a concept it is to be enabled by your government?

I want your government to enable you to do many things, and to enable you to worry about fewer things.

That position is a political position and defines me and people like me.

We're called Progressives.

And I decided at some point I needed a definition for that word too, and here's what I decided worked best.

Progressive (noun):  a person with a political position valuing intelligent governance with the belief that in an intelligently governed world people's lives tend to get better, not worse.

(Yes, I made that up. It's NOT an official definition from a dictionary. Maybe someday it will be?)

Notice it also makes it easy to define those politically who wish to take things away from you.

Take away people can with pessimism distort the discussion, as for instance, why assume we have to cut Social Security? What if instead we could expand it?

I think your government should enable you to have health insurance regardless of your ability to pay.

Some people are so furious at that idea that they are willing to try and destabilize the entire United States of America to keep it from happening.

Now then, consider how much you can do with a concept. Can you look in your life now to see where your government enables you? Where it disables you?

Does that help you figure out where you stand on political issues?

If so, good! We have a lot of work ahead of us in the United States of America.

And the better informed you are, the better you can make choices that make a difference.

And the more you can enable a brighter future for a nation that has to keep working to be great, as otherwise, are we really Americans?

Our nation was built by work. It will stand by working harder.

James Harris

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