Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Thoughtful Government

The greatest lesson not taught in schools, but should be the greatest lesson taught in schools, is the idea of “reciprocity,” or exchanging fair value for fair value -- rather than the hope of getting something for nothing, which is probably the most damaging lesson one can learn in schools -- which is how to get a reward, while doing nothing to merit it. And in fact, the greater one can fool the rewarder into giving an outsized reward for that which is least deserving of one, the more one adjudges that accomplishment as his superior ability to manipulate (micromanage) the world to his singular liking.

Meanwhile, a good society, is that in which people communicate and exchange so that pretty nearly everyone gets what they value most as the objective of that society. Then, it is not just one person who ends up with everything while everybody else has none or very little, but most people have what they can value above all the others -- and each feels that way. So there is little resentment, bitterness and envy -- that only one person has it all, even when he could never use it all, or even use any of it properly. His entire preoccupation at that point, becomes maintaining and securing all that he has, so that others might not have as much as he does.

In a more complex society, people who get a lot more than they deserve, frequently think that are the ones getting shortchanged and demanding more -- as though it would only be “fair,” when they possessed everything, and nobody else had anything. That is the consequence of the kind of of conditioning they receive, that getting is all that matters for them to do, and giving is what others exist for -- and not the ideal balance of each individual, is giving and taking to the extent that an optimal satisfaction and fulfillment is obtained by most participants of that society. Nobody is expected to “sacrifice” for anybody else. Everyone is expected to maximize their own happiness to the best of their abilities.

That is not a problem in any society, except when a few, think that their own greatest happiness, is depriving the happiness of every other, as their greatest joy. That way of thinking, is of course, mental illness and antisocial impulse. Of course one does not explicitly express their objective in that way but describes it as a noble calling that does the same thing of robbing others from their own happiness and even their health and lives. Such a corruption of human purpose and intent, is the exercise of brute power -- just because one can, and until one is stopped by some more powerful and brutal force.

When they reach that point, it is usually not a happy outcome -- and the devastation may take years and even a lifetime to overcome. So it is a lesson worth learning early so that it doesn’t stunt one’s maturation into a fully actualized, worthwhile human being -- who as he lives, empowers and enables others to also live their own greatest lives.

The abundant world, civilization has created, makes it now possible for virtually everyone to have their minimal requirements met, if a few do not demand, that they need to have it all, just because they can. That’s how the world, is a better place, if the self-chosen few, do not think that everybody else exists, just for their own self-aggrandizement and power-trips.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Who Wants to be the President?

In a previous generation, everybody was raised thinking they wanted to be the President, or should want to, but now we think that anybody who wants to be the president must be crazy, or motivated in ways most people cannot fathom. Most just opt for the easier path of becoming the next American Idol, even if they have no idea what they’ll do for the talent portion of the contest. They think it is just enough to be famous, to be qualified for anything. Once they are “famous,” then they’ll work on developing some qualifications that justify their fame and fortune -- but not before! Fame and fortune is their entitlement, and then once they are delivered, maybe one will justify it -- or not! People who are rich and famous, no longer have to do anything -- in their perfect world.

So even better than running for president or any public office, is reporting on those running for public office, and telling the president how they should be a leader -- if they were as smart as they are. These are the media “personalities” whose opinions are to be valued -- as the self-proclaimed world’s smartest person in every community and forum.

Most of them have an audience of all the people who think they’d make a better media personality by doing a better imitation of the first, who is hardly original. He just wishes he was somebody else -- or a better facsimile of the original. Not surprisingly, the audience for those pretending to be better than somebody else is rapidly shrinking into a small pool of those with nothing better to do with their time -- when really, we could stand to have a lot more people volunteering to run for these public offices, regardless of whether they can win it or not.

The fact that they represent another perspective is enough to make the elective process credible. The lack of credible candidates is the lack of confidence in the entire process. When more than half the electorate no longer bothers to participate, than such a system is no longer representative of the citizenry and an indication of the will of the people. For the rest, the elected is a symbol rather than a de facto leader of the people -- but worthy of respect nevertheless.

That regard is the baseline respect expressed toward any citizen, so it was quite disturbing to see the first citizen of this nation treated with such disrespect and abuse that characterized an even lesser regard for everyone else. People who had never displayed any brilliance themselves, thought it quite within their rights, to proclaim the inferiority of intelligence by one who had distinguished himself quite convincingly all his life -- and eliminated the unchecked terroristic threats that had produced such a cloud of uncertainty and anxiety everywhere in the world.

For such an individual to be castigated by every person who thought they were unquestionably better than everybody else, is a shameless era of inflated credentials and grandeurs of delusion brought about by unjustified fame (media). I know of none who would have made a better President -- or even a better person than all the rest -- whose idea of what they thought intelligent people did, was to go around calling everybody else “stupid, idiotic, and a moron.” That is what truly stupid people, think smart people do. And that hardly qualifies them to be President -- or even a columnist/editor at the local newspaper.

But it is a free country and free society, and nobody is going to say that one can’t believe whatever they want to believe about themselves however much they belie and betray those beliefs. They just look awfully stupid publishing them as the best they are capable of producing to justify whatever claims they have of any kind of superiority they imagine themselves to possess.

That is the disability of fame -- with no good reason for being so. Meanwhile, they have underappreciated, undervalued and underestimated one of the truly great leaders of any time and place -- in President George W. Bush. And that is a milestone in the demise of mass media to maintain their credibility and relevance -- in their desperate coup to elevate themselves to this position of prominence and authoritarianism. It doesn’t work that way -- no matter how hard they try to fake it.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Shrinking the Pond

Paradoxically, perversely, but not unpredictably, in times of crisis and great challenge, the natural and powerful response is to pull out all the stops rather than retrench into a defensive posture, refusing to acknowledge the dangers and thinking that denial is the only/best response for continued survival, let alone viability and even groundbreaking leadership. In times like this, everything that is “old” in Hawaii, becomes “new” again, with each idea from the past being unfurled as the banner leading them into the modern era, or at least the present time.

The value of diversity is being able to draw ideas and adaptations from as wide a pool of ideas as possible -- rather than the disastrous one of shrinking the pool (pond), and demanding that no other ideas can be considered except for ungodly more money into the ideas that are NOT working, and in fact, have caused the current crisis. But then, problem-solving is NOT a primary consideration -- as much as providing even more jobs at higher wages producing these same problems!

The most rational and sensible, give up trying and move on -- where their commonsense is embraced, rather than fought tooth and nail, just to achieve sanity. One just gets tired of all the senseless hassles -- just to achieve normalcy and some semblance of constructive movement, not only in one’s own field of involvement, but also as a foundation for all the other developments in that society.

But finally, when one realizes that one is not only swimming upstream against the current but the forces of resistance are doubling their efforts to ensure that one fails, those who can realize such things, realize that the best thing they can do is to give up and move on, and let that society suffer its own consequences. The best depiction of this, is Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged, which is more than just not caring anymore. It is realizing that one cannot continue enabling dysfunction and (co-)dependence in others -- which those most sensitive are first to respond to. But because of their responses, it too often deludes others into thinking there were not perils that had to be dealt with by those most capable and adept at handling them; they simply reaped those benefits as their “entitlement” -- and then turned on their benefactors demanding inhumanely more.

A smart society spreads the work over everyone -- rather than exploiting the few for all they can drain out of them, before finding their next unwitting victims. So one has to be clear when those boundaries are breached -- to retain that sense of meaning and purpose in public service, instead of becoming cynical in their belief that “all the people can be fooled all of the time -- and they’ll never wake up because they don’t want that responsibility.”

Truly, people don’t “know” what they have until they no longer have it -- and think that all that is required to maintain it, is the empty flattery and promises that will not be forthcoming as their homage to the gods to continue things as they are. For that reason, it is good to have people pointing these things out to the rest rather than everyone agreeing not to see or to see what is not there -- as though that were sufficient to create a more perfect society.

The greatest danger to any society is when all those voices of dissent and real diversity are eliminated and silenced, so that at elections, there is a “choice” of only one person from one faction (party), as the newspapers, schools, universities, unions, all work to attain as their ideal of a perfectly totalitarian society -- they call Paradise.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

We’re Not Better Off Having More Choices We Don’t Want and Can’t Use

“Do you want to give all your money to me, or do you want me to take it from you?”

I can hear our elected officials explaining how they are giving taxpayers more choice -- and not less (no) choice.

“Do you want to be stuck in traffic, or do we want to ride a boat that takes twice as long to get there?” And if we choose to take the boat, is it all right if we have to take the bus all the way because the boat is not running today?

So many choices -- so little time. But what does it all mean? Nothing that makes any sense at all -- but did we expect any?

Fortunately, blogdom is alive and well to report and record all this -- even as the local newspapers suppress and censor to their heart’s content, to maintain their illusion of Paradise -- which is themselves as the smartest people in the islands and the only people allowed to seem to make sense. Everybody else’s comments and submissions will be hopelessly garbled and edited to achieve nonsense -- to say what the editors (and powers that wish to remain so) want everybody else to say.

The choice then is, do we want them to publish what they want us to say -- or would we rather they not publish what we have to say? That is freedom of expression (choice) -- according to the local newspapers, and they can’t understand why we all can’t compromise to their point of view -- as we are all entitled to their opinion.

Fortunately, there are still plenty of subscribers left to cancel their subscriptions over a prolonged period of erosion so that at the end, they won’t know when it was they became irrelevant-- not that they would have cared anyway. They will go on writing for as long as they can, regardless of whether anybody takes them seriously anymore or not -- “because that is their job," regardless of whether it needs to be done or serves any beneficial purpose anymore.

We’re offered limited and even bogus choices -- as though choice was for the pure exercise of some long forgotten glorious moment in the past when such things actually mattered -- but now, we simply must adhere to what their political correctness and conventional wisdom tell us through these self-designated authorities, what we must do. And they will convince us, it is the same everywhere else and in all times -- and probably worse, daring us to risk the unthinkable -- which is the banishment from paradise, with all its “irresolvable” problems.

Real choices are not a cultural and societal option. There is the socially and politically approved way -- or one can take a trip to the ends of the earth, whereupon one falls of the edge and is never heard from again.

But then a few filter back with reports that there is indeed life on the other side of the rainbow -- and it isn’t half bad and may be even better, even if it’s not “paradise” -- like all the insurmountable difficulties here are.

There is a world of viable and attractive choices beyond the “one and only,” demagogues will try to convince us of -- from time immemorial.