Monday, November 24, 2008

Obama's Team of High Achievers

In a November 21st editorial in the New York Times, David Brooks gives high marks to Barack Obama's picks for his Brain Trust.

He writes, "Even more than past administrations, this will be a valedictocracy — rule by those who graduate first in their high school classes...the team he has announced so far is more impressive than any other in recent memory."

He goes on to point out they are smart, open-minded people persuadable by evidence, admired professionals, not excessively partisan, not idealogues, and practically creative.

That's pretty high praise from a person who is identified as a conservative.

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Hopefully given time Barack Obama will have a better response than our current President who, after five years in office, told a German newspaper his best moment, "was catching a 7 1/2 pound bass on my lake."

A couple of weeks ago George W. Bush told a CNN interviewer, "My wife reminded me that, hey, as president of the United States, you better be careful what you say."

Here's a link to the CNN video - YouTube - Bush: I have regrets!

In the interview George Bush admits he made some mistakes - not mistakes in foreign policy, tax policy, the environment, education, health care, war, or anything like that - but things he said like "dead or alive", "bring it on" - or standing in front of the "Mission Accomplished" sign on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. It comes across to me as totally self-centered and lightweight - but at least it's a start at reflection and thought. Maybe in his final days leading up to January 20th, or after he goes home, he will reflect on some mistakes his administration made that didn't work out so well for other people.

In addition to admitting we make mistakes we should learn from our mistakes. I never saw that characteristic in George Bush, he seemed to think that as he said, "principles are forever...principles that are etched in his soul...a core set of beliefs" - meant ignoring facts. In the interview he says he makes decisions based on core principles - he doesn't mention facts.

Watching and listening to George Bush convinced me that he didn't have the intellect, or the ability to communicate, that would allow him to be much more than a puppet - not unlike Ronald Reagan in his time as president, both cheerleaders who were personable- but not very bright. It would be okay if they, and the people who were advising them, were working and cheering for the middle class team but unfortunately that wasn't the case.

Hopefully what we have learned in the last 8 years will prevent us from ever electing another president like the one we have now.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Long Goodbye - Why America's Automotive Industry is Failing

It sounds glaringly obvious - but if there is a single reason why the American car industry is in such dire straits it is that they did not produce cars that consumers wanted to buy.

The current downturn in sales due to the weak economy is a real time factor but it has no bearing on what led the American's auto industry to the state it is in today. Car makers worldwide are adjusting to the slowdown in sales by cutting back production and laying off workers - but the once Big 3 are teetering on the edge of becoming nonentities. For them the current market is only a spot along a long road that led them to where they are today.

So why didn't the U.S. auto industry wake up in the 70's or the 80's, when Japan came into the market with fuel efficient dependable, affordable cars - and begin building American alternatives?

The originators of many American businesses (including the car industry), were inventors, engineers and technologists - people good at designing, building and improving things, but at some point the management of many American businesses (including car manufacturers) was taken over by by people who were good at selling things.

So while Toyota was designing, building (and selling) Prius Hybrids and Corollas that were reliable, and economical to own and drive - American auto manufacturers were using stupid ads to convince people that what they really wanted to buy was a Hummer H2 that gets 10 mpg and is among the worst for fit, finish, and reliability of any vehicle on the market.

Short-sighted companies scrimp on research and development and prefer to squeeze whatever profits they can off of outmoded designs rather than reducing CEO and other management salaries, shareholder dividends and overall number of managers - and increasing spending to hire, train, and retain - skilled workers, inventors, scientists, engineers and technologists.

We are good at selling - we need to get better at is designing, building and improving.

One thing I'm not buying is that unions are at fault for the current condition of the U.S. automotive industry. I don't know how many times I've heard the lie that auto workers make $70 Per Hour lately. It just ain't so. That figure comes from auto industry management, and others with a vested interest in keeping wages for the working class as low as possible.

The average GM worker makes $28 per hour, entry level workers can make as little as $14 Per Hour. The $70, sometimes $73 is cited, is a made-up number arrived at by taking all costs - including medical for all employees (including retirees) and then dividing by the number of hours worked. It's a lie for a variety of reasons - not the least of which is that the unions agreed to take over retiree health care costs some time ago. If we wanted to discuss wages we could talk about CEO's of non-profitable companies like Ford and GM who are making on the order of 22 to 24 million a year which works out to about $10,000 per hour.

Our government hasn't been helping matters.

Congress and the Bush administration, and as I've written before - the Reagan administration before them (in the deconstruction of the CAFE standards the Carter administration put in place) has been almost unbelievably backwards in using government intervention in the free market system for the good of citizens.

Buying a Hummer in January of 2003 gave a business owner in the top income bracket a $33,000 tax savings. This tax loophole applied not only to Hummers, but to any SUV that weighed more than 6,000 pounds. There are many Reasons the SUV Loophole was Bad but one of the most glaring current reasons it was a bad idea is that it contributed to the fact that we may be about to see the end of the American car industry as we know it.

The SUV tax loophole is an example of government intervention at it's worst in that it gave auto industry management an incentive to keep building cars that people would not be buying absent the tax break.

I feel compassion for American auto industry workers - this mess isn't their fault - it's an example of a "long emergency" that we should have seen coming over 30 years ago, and if necessary used government intervention to prevent the management of the American car industry from creating the mess they (and we) have allowed ourselves to get into.

It's not too late. With a liberal government in place and American ingenuity we have a chance to undo at least partially some of the negative government intervention of the last few decades, look to the future and improve our educational system to produce the best and the brightest, provide a government for the people (not .1% of the people) ...or in 4 years we can throw the bums out.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

We've Never Had Free Markets

There is no such thing, and never has been such a thing, as a free market - it's just a question of where the government, or ruling class, will intervene, and for what purpose.

A person could argue that we had free market capitalism in say 1790 when -
"Samuel Slater's factory opened by hiring 7 boys and 2 girls between the ages of 7 and 12 to run his spinning machines. They could be hired much cheaper than men. They received between 33 and 67 cents per week, while adult workers in Rhode Island were earning between $2 and $3 a week. By 1820 1/2 of Rhode Island's factory workers were children."
In 1790 we had a government with some degree (granted limited) of intervention in the so-called free market. Looking further back - in tribal societies, once they have developed an agricultural based economy, their markets are controlled by the people with the most power - obtained by force or inherent in the tribe's aristocracy.

If we actually had markets solely based on supply and demand and combined them with capitalism - we would end up with a survival of the fittest society where ethical ideas, such as the golden rule, treating people as an end and not a means to an end - not exploiting people, become meaningless because they do not support our end - accumulating wealth.

Even an unregulated market is not free since there are macro forces controlling the law of supply and demand - so we can say not only is there no such thing as free markets there is also no such thing as an unregulated market. For example a large pool of unemployed workers causes a decrease in the value of labor. Cheap labor is good for capitalists, and if they can keep a large reserve labor pool (without a revolution) so be it. Humanitarians on the other hand would like for everyone who wants to work to have the opportunity. From a purely pragmatic point of view an unregulated market wouldn't work - we need some rules for accounting, controlling money supply and enforcing contracts.

Many people for humanitarian reasons cannot accept free market unregulated capitalism where profit is the sole mark of success. Many people can't stand to see the consequences of even semi-free market regulated capitalism if it means widespread unemployment, poverty, hunger, class disparity and exploitation. That's a good thing. The hard part is finding a balance between government piecemeal intervention (no grand plans for utopia) and stifling controls that cause a decline in the standard of living.

If there's a lesson it's that when someone says they believe in "free markets" you know that probably is not true. As we have seen with privatization of profit and socialization of losses with AIG and so many others the term "free markets" is almost meaningless and at best is a relative term with the real question being "free" for who's benefit?

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Open Society and It's Enemies - Karl Popper

I had time to finish Karl Popper's book The Open Society and Its Enemies (Volume 1) and (Volume 2) this week.

I highly recommend these books. Popper writes clearly and is easy to read - the ideas and scope of the books make them very challenging, but his writing is not at all like many philosophy books that make you wonder what the heck the author is trying to get across.

The books are an overview of Plato, Hegel and Marx, as well as Karl Popper's views on ethics, socialism, totalitarianism, nazism, capitalism, democracy and a free and open society. I think to get the full effect a person would need to take a class on Karl Popper, or be in a book club where his ideas were discussed.

I can't really do justice to the books in a summary, they would require weeks/months/years of discussion to cover the ideas he presents - but I'll try to provide a glimpse.

Karl Popper proposes that Plato and Hegel are to blame in part for the rise of Nazi Germany...and that their philosophical ideas, regardless of if we realize it or not, are responsible for degradation of human freedom even today. Plato proposed a state ruled by the "philosopher kings" which allowed for slavery and the exploitation of fellow humans - Hegel proposed that ethics were a function of current society and an all powerful state; therefore whatever the state deemed ethical, in fact was - no matter how horrible it might be.

Karl Popper is also critical of Marx, even though he proposes Marx had some ideas that were important, Marxism had nothing to offer after "workers of the world unite". The idea that a classless society would result after the workers overthrew the ruling class has proved to be false - after the revolution the people in charge of the revolution replaced the old ruling class - often with disastrous results for humanity.

He attacks the historicist point of view that the current state of the world plays out according to some historical grand plan, that cannot be changed by human intervention. Particularly Marx's idea that it was inevitable that unfettered capitalism would lead to greater exploitation of the working class, a worker's revolution, and eventually a classless utopian society. He points out similar fallacies in the beliefs of Hegel and some Christians that believe humankind is forced to play out some predestined plan created by man or God and recognized by only a select few initiated - who can then predict the future.

Popper makes the surprising statement that their is no history of mankind, which isn't so surprising once he explains that there is no complete history of individuals but what we call world history is the history of political power, and goes on to say that the history of power politics is nothing but the history of international crime and mass murder.

It may sound strange considering the quote above but the book is very hopeful - proposing that rational thought combined with careful government intervention in free market capitalism offers the best hope for society.

Popper says of rationalism that it is the position that, "I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort we may get nearer to the truth."

By admitting that we may be wrong and learning from our mistakes we have a chance become better individuals and improve our organizations.

Talking about learning from our mistakes, Popper quotes Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan Act iii:

Dumby; Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
Cecil Graham; One shouldn't commit any.
Dumby; Life would be very dull without them.

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I was curious to know more about Karl Popper after seeing a video of George Soros talking at the New York Public Library symposium called Propaganda Then and Now - What Orwell Did and Didn't Know. The whole video is worth watching but if you don't have a free couple of hours, fast forward to 1:18:00 and watch what Fox News and others have to say about George Soros....and then ask yourself - who are the enemies of an open society today?

I'm very hopeful that with the advent of the Obama presidency, the power and attraction of propaganda and irrational pre-packaged thought from Fox News and some talk radio programs will be greatly reduced and people will discuss ideas on their own merit.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

iPhone 2.2 | Google Earth | Street View | GOOG411

iPhone 2.2 is available and one of the cool features is the Street View in Google Maps. To see the Street View go to Google maps, allow maps to use your current GPS location, drop a pin, then select the little human figure.

These are screenshots of the Google Street View near my house that Google Maps provided by using my iPhone's GPS location. Using the iPhone you can rotate the picture 360 degrees with your finger. This would be useful if you were walking around a neighborhood. It's a little creepy...but still cool.






If you click on Street View in this Google Map it gives you an idea of what you see on the iPhone in street view, if you click inside the picture and pan around. I emailed myself this location from my phone and I wasn't outside so the GPS location isn't as accurate as it would be if I was outside...but it's close.

Besides Street View there are quite a few other Google Mobile - iPhone applications including Google Earth which has been available for the iPhone for about a month now. It's fun to play with. There is also the free 1-800-GOOG-411 that allows you to call Google to find the number of the nearest pizza delivery place (or whatever you are looking for).





I haven't got the Google Mobile App for iPhone with Voice Search down yet - I asked for "cheeseburger" and Google thought I said "Missouri" but I think that might be a result of my poor diction rather than a fault of the voice recognition software.


This is a screen shot of the Google Mobile Applications from my iPhone. It's actually two screen shots that I pasted together because you have to scroll down on the phone to see them all.

Google Voice Search uses the accelerometer in the phone to detect when you have moved the phone to your ear and then makes a little beep sound to let you know it's time to say what you are looking for.

If you say "pizza" it tells you the address of the nearest locations and gives you the option of calling them by pressing an icon.

In general I'd say the iPhone is really fun for anyone who likes playing with tech stuff and most of the interfaces are really simple which makes it appealing to people with a low tolerance for gadgets that require reading a lot of instructions.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

CEO's and Congress - Go Greyhound


The CEO's from Chrysler, GM and Ford are taking a fair amount of heat for flying into D.C. on their corporate jets and then showing up at Congress with hats in hand asking for money.

In the interest of providing CEO's, and members of Congress, an opportunity to get in touch with working class Americans I suggest in the future all their travel be made via Greyhound bus. This would give them time to converse with regular people, see the inner cities (at least from the bus depot) and save shareholders and taxpayers money.

Monday, November 17, 2008

My iXmas Tree

iXmas tree is a free iPhone app that let's you decorate a Christmas tree.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Coyotes and Rake Business In The Hood


DSC_0011
Originally uploaded by Jack Crossen
Not a lot going on in North Everett.

Two coyotes were spotted at 9 pm.

There's a Rake Business open on Tues, Wed, Thurs from 4 pm to 6 pm. You can get your lawn raked for only 4 dollars an hour. Sounds like a win win - someone makes some money, gets some exercise; and unlike using a leaf blower it wouldn't be noisy, polluting or use gasoline.

The Minimum Wage in Washington state is $8.07 an hour, although 14 and 15 year olds can be paid 85% of that which is $6.86 an hour. I have a feeling from the look of the sign that the owner of this rake business is probably not yet 14 and thinks $4 an hour is a fair amount of money.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

bighair


bighair
Originally uploaded by girrlfriday
And you thought Sarah Palin had a big doo.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Blessed Are The Peacemakers

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, or as some people call it - The Church of the Holy Spectacle, was the scene of another brawl between Christians last Sunday.

YouTube - Breaking News: Greek Orthodox and Armenian Christians Battle

This church is in Jerusalem at the location where Jesus was crucified. It is a popular tourist destination. Disagreements over control of the church have caused violence and fighting among Christians for hundreds of years. The divisions among the Christian groups with interests in the church, run so deep that the keys to the church were given to a Muslim family who unlocks the church in the morning and locks it back up at night. A status quo agreement was reached in 1852 to try and end the squabbling. One of the results was that to this day, no one can agree to move a ladder which was placed on a wall sometime before 1852.

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This is from the Wikipedia article on the church -

"Since the renovation of 1555, control of the church oscillated between the Franciscans and the Orthodox, depending on which community could obtain a favorable firman from the Sublime Porte at a particular time, often through outright bribery, and violent clashes were not uncommon. In 1767, weary of the squabbling, the Porte issued a firman that divided the church among the claimants. This was confirmed in 1852 with another firman that made the arrangement permanent, establishing a status quo of territorial division among the communities.

The primary custodians are the Eastern Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, and Roman Catholic Churches, with the Greek Orthodox Church having the lion's share. In the 19th century, the Coptic Orthodox, the Ethiopian Orthodox and the Syriac Orthodox acquired lesser responsibilities, which include shrines and other structures within and around the building. Times and places of worship for each community are strictly regulated in common areas.

Establishment of the status quo did not halt the violence, which continues to break out every so often even in modern times. On a hot summer day in 2002, the Coptic monk who is stationed on the roof to express Coptic claims to the Ethiopian territory there moved his chair from its agreed spot into the shade. This was interpreted as a hostile move by the Ethiopians, and eleven were hospitalized after the resulting fracas.

In another incident in 2004 during Orthodox celebrations of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, a door to the Franciscan chapel was left open. This was taken as a sign of disrespect by the Orthodox and a fistfight broke out. Some people were arrested, but no one was seriously injured.

On Palm Sunday, in April 2008, a brawl broke out due to a Greek monk being ejected from the building by a rival faction. Police were called to the scene but were also attacked by the enraged brawlers. A clash erupted between Armenian and Greek monks on Sunday 9 November 2008, during celebrations for the Feast of the Holy Cross.

Under the status quo, no part of what is designated as common territory may be so much as rearranged without consent from all communities. This often leads to the neglect of badly needed repairs when the communities cannot come to an agreement among themselves about the final shape of a project. Just such a disagreement has delayed the renovation of the edicule, where the need is now dire, but also where any change in the structure might result in a change to the status quo disagreeable to one or more of the communities.

A less grave sign of this state of affairs is located on a window ledge over the church's entrance. Someone placed a wooden ladder there sometime before 1852, when the status quo defined both the doors and the window ledges as common ground. The ladder remains there to this day, in almost exactly the same position. It can be seen to occupy the ledge in century-old photographs and engravings."


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"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

Mohandas Gandhi


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matthew 5

The Beatitudes

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


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Jesus was a revolutionary figure who taught love and non-violence toward all. Maybe someday more people who call themselves Christians will act more like Christ. In the meantime people who call themselves Christians should be very ashamed when hate and violence of any kind, are imposed on others in the name of Christianity.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Investing in the Future - Prisons vs. Children and Families

I watched Marian Wright Edelman author of The Sea Is So Wide and My Boat Is So Small: Charting a Course for the Next Generation, and the book I Can Make a Difference: A Treasury to Inspire Our Children, as well as other books on education, society and family values.

Amazon has this biography -
"Marian Wright Edelman is the founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund. She is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours, and eight other books. She is the winner of many awards for her work, including a MacArthur Fellowship, the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award, a Heinz Award, and a Niebuhr Award. In 2000, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award for her writings. Edelman is a graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School. She and her husband live in Washington, D.C., and have three children and four grandchildren."
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In the interview Marian Wright Edelman said, "we spend three times as much per person to keep a prisoner incarcerated as we do per child to be educated in our public schools."

I've been thinking for some time what a waste of resources it is to put people in prison for non-violent drug offences.

The U.S. prison population exceeds that of any other country both in total numbers and as a percent of the overall population. The federal government and states are forced to make a decision to fund the 55 billion dollar a year prison industry at the expense of preschool, early childhood education, vocational training and other programs. See New High In U.S. Prison Numbers - washingtonpost.com for additional information.

Instead of locking up people for non-violent drug offences we could turn some prisons into community colleges and vocational training centers and "sentence" people to counseling, training and an opportunity to learn a skill, get a job and become taxpayers. It's a good investment for the future.

The best investment for the future is of course to focus on children - health care, good nutrition, being read to at a young age, play, art, music, physical education and teaching them the basics - reading, writing and arithmetic. In a nation as rich as ours doing anything less is unconscionable from a moral standpoint and from a purely pragmatic point of view it means we are raising children who will one day be able to take care of others, work and of course...pay taxes.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Conversations with History - Studs Terkel

If you have a spare 54 minutes this YouTube video of an interview with Studs Terkel at UC Berkeley in 2003 is wonderful. He's 91 years old and filled with wisdom, humor and great stories.

Studs Terkel listened to people tell their stories - what is it like to live during a depression, World War II...to be a teacher?

Studs talks about the lack of debate in today's society and a national amnesia where people don't understand what unions did for workers or what free marketeering did in 1929. He spent his life capturing the American experience and American history in the words of everyday people - doing a great service for American people in the process.

At the end of the video he says he has an epitaph already selected, "Curiosity did not kill this cat."

Friday, November 07, 2008

Good Night John Boy

In a speech given in 1992 Papa Bush said he'd like to make American families a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons.

I can't help but wonder if George W. is following up on pop's dream of making us more like the Waltons - living in a time of war and economic depression.

In some ways, being like the Waltons doesn't look all that bad - they had interesting adventures, didn't need a lot of money to spend on clothes or consumer electronics, and Grandpa got free moonshine from the Baldwin Sisters.

Today we learned we have 10 million Americans unemployed, the unemployment rate is 6.5% and we lost 240,000 jobs in October.

I was wondering what a 6.5% unemployment rate "feels" like compared to other times in history. Of course if you lose your job it doesn't matter what the rate is - but I was thinking on a personal level - how did I feel things were going when unemployment rates were high?

An unemployment rate of 6.5% is a 14 year high, but what about The United States Unemployment Rate at other times in our recent past?

From 1968 to 1972 unemployment was relatively low ranging from 3.5% to 6%. I was in high school and had no trouble finding part time and summertime jobs.

In 1975 to 1977 unemployment peaked at 9% - I was 21 in 1975 and didn't have any problem finding jobs. I was single and wasn't too particular about what kind of jobs I'd do, so found work as a cook, bartender, janitor and various other part time jobs. I had fun, was going to school part time and had enough money for a car and an apartment. I joined the Navy in 1977 and they had plenty of work for me until I went back to college in 1981.

In 1982 unemployment got up to 10.8%. I was going to school, working at a gas station and the registrar's office part time and B had a job at the Sheriff's office. We were doing fine. I think our rent was $220 a month, I rode my bicycle a lot and spent my free time fishing in Montana's trout streams.

When I started my current job in 1985 the unemployment rate was 7.2%. Thankfully I liked the job and remained employed during the up and down cycles.

My point is twofold - I've been doing some kind of work for the last 40 years and was always able to find a job regardless of the unemployment rate (knocking on wood here) and secondly it really isn't necessary to have a lot of money as long as you have the essentials food, clothing, shelter - you can find all sorts of ways to live a good life, find peace and joy.

To be honest I think papa Bush had a valid point about making families more like the Waltons.

The pictures of the Great Depression make it look like hell in black and white, but I can't believe that was the real story - or at least the whole story. In my family's experience I don't think it had much impact at all - teachers were still employed and not making much money, and small farmers never had any money anyway. I'm not worried about another depression - in fact I think it might be a relatively positive counterbalance to combat affluenza, the epidemic of overconsumption and associated stress on our own systems and the world's ecosystem.

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I realized today I have no idea how the Government calculates the unemployment rate so I headed over to The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to learn How the Government Measures Unemployment.

I thought it had to do with the number of people who were drawing unemployment insurance but that's not correct.

The BLS does a sample of 60,000 households to come up with the unemployment rate.

According to the BLS website, the basic concepts involved in identifying the employed and unemployed are quite simple:
* People with jobs are employed.
* People who are jobless, looking for jobs, and available for work are unemployed.
* People who are neither employed nor unemployed are not in the labor force.

The survey is designed so that each person age 16 and over who is not in an institution such as a prison or mental hospital or on active duty in the Armed Forces is counted and classified in only one group.

Persons are classified as unemployed if they do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the prior 4 weeks, and are currently available for work.
The only thing I wonder about is how many people fall out of the "labor force" and therefore out of the "unemployed" count, because they gave up looking for work...hopefully not very many.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Coolest Album Cover Ever?




Eat a Peach by the Allman Brothers was released in 1972. The Allman Brothers Band was known for their improvised live jams which could go on for extended periods of time. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Allman Brothers Band, "along with The Grateful Dead and Cream, helped advance rock as a medium for improvisation."

They also had two really good drummers.

I like the Eat a Peach album cover because it's simple, playful and the pastel colors appeal to me - plus I like the music, but the cover didn't even make it into the top 25 in Rolling Stones best covers. A couple of others I like did though - The White Album was appropriately named number 9 and Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon was 22

B and I went to see the Allman Brother's Band in Minneapolis around the time Eat a Peach was released. A friend got us tickets - which turned out to be on the very top row of the stadium way far away from the stage. But we had a great time - the music was really good and the people around us shared all sorts of treats.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Barack Obama's Historic Acceptance Speech


Obama Wins!!!
Originally uploaded by Jack Crossen
From Barack Obama's acceptance speech -

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled -- Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of American.

It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day."

Full text of Barack Obama's acceptance speech at Chicago Tribune



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Buy Obama Memorabila at Amazon.com



Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Not Red or Blue America

But the United States of America.

The beginning of a new era where all Americans can look forward to better days ahead.

Hope springs eternal and Democracy rules!

Yeaaa for Barack and yeaaa for America!!!

Imagine



Monday, November 03, 2008

Hey All You Latte Sippin Liberals!

You can get a free tall drip coffee at Starbucks on Tuesday November 4th if you've voted.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Bill The Democrat

My good Republican wife bought me these three toys to remind me that Republicans and Democrats can get along -



I like to play fight with them occasionally but nothing too serious.

Bill on the other hand would like to bite off their heads and tear them to shreds if we let him. He seems to have a preference for the Democrats - since he likes to bite the elephant and run around with it in his mouth. Like any poll, the "which toy does Bill bite poll" may not be accurate.

B was a young Republican for Richard Nixon and I was a young Democrat for George McGovern when we met. We've had over 25 years of happy marriage even though our political party affiliations differ. I'd say B tends toward the apolitical when it comes to ideology and politics in general. We tend to be very similar in our beliefs when it comes to important issues like family, education, work, faith and ethics. I'm not so sure that isn't the same for lots of people who have to be labeled as either Republicans or Democrats.

I'd say that we were born into our political affiliations. My family being Democrats and B's Republicans. My grandmother who lived through the great depression and raised two daughters as a single mother - was a strong supporter of FDR and subsequently a vocal Democratic party supporter. I grew up listening to people praise Democrats and criticize Republicans. For B it was the opposite. When she was very young she wondered who those Damncats were that people around her were criticizing and only later understood it was Democrats rather than Damncats.

Things are different in this presidential election - Barack Obama got all of our votes - even the unofficial Bill vote.

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Here's two more local dogs for Obama -


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Studs Terkel

I was sad to hear Studs Terkel passed away yesterday. He was so smart and gifted - a great listener, writer and talker - plus he had an impish sense of humor about the whole thing.

I watched an interview on CSpan Book TV today, that Studs gave when he was 95 years old, and he was still sharp as a tack. He talked about being blacklisted as a communist sympathizer during the McCarthy era. He joked that when the FBI would come to visit he would try to engage them in debates such as "if the communist party said they were opposed to cancer - would I have to say I supported cancer?" They didn't think that was funny so he'd ask them if they'd like to share a triple martini. He talked about his friendship with Mike Royko, Billie Holiday and Mahalia Jackson - his love of jazz and his electic musical taste. He's best known to me as someone who wrote about everyday people.


If a person wanted to understand the history of the U.S. in the 20th century Studs Terkel would be a good source. He was a supporter of Barack Obama and said he wanted to live to see the election - I imagine when he died yesterday he was satisfied that he was seeing the beginning of a new more hopeful stage of American politics.

At the end of the interview below he says Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, once told him she "was looking forward to a world that would make it easier for people to behave decently". He says he can't put it any better than that.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Joe The Plumber - Among The Easily Fooled

The is a personal Joe The Plumber type story...

Several years ago I was repairing our washing machine and needed a part. I Googled for suppliers and found one several blocks from my house. The person who had the part was a plumber/washer/dryer repairman running a small business out of his small house. He was married with one young daughter. I know that because she answered the door with him when I went to pick up the part.

I've noticed that local man has an Obama sign in his window now. He's a real small business person. I'm not really sure who the national Joe The Plumber is, but it doesn't really matter who he is - because what he is - is someone who is very easily fooled. He's not alone - many working class people have been fooled into thinking the Republican party of the last eight years has their interests at heart.

In the book How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative Allen Raymond gloats about the success of that big lie -
"Who would have thought that we could convince so many blue-collar workers that raising taxes primarily on white-collar workers was intrinsically wicked enough that they and other voters should give us both the House and the Senate? If we could get elected by convincing our own hard-up constituents that they were in the same boat as the rich, what wouldn't a voter believe? Those were heady times - and we were just getting started."
The Republican's Party has had a good ride on that horse, but not this time.

___________________________________

Thursday, October 30, 2008

People In The Middle For Obama

People in the Middle for Obama is a series of video statements by a variety of regular people - young, old, Republican, Democrat, Independents, Christian evangelicals - created by the documentary filmmaker Errol Morris who writes about the project in his New York Times blog,

"If you’re not going to put words in people’s mouths, if you’re really listening to what they have to say, you’re going to learn something. Admittedly, the evidence is anecdotal. I haven’t selected these people through some kind of statistical sampling. These people are self-selected. They wrote in and said that they were registered Republicans, Independents or switch-voters who were planning to vote for Obama. People in the middle. And I was interested in talking to them on film about why they were making the switch from voting for a Republican to voting for a Democrat. Was it linked with policy? With the personality of the candidate?"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fox News - Mike Huckabee Show

Fox News justifiably gets a lot of criticism for not being fair or balanced but to their credit they have given Mike Huckabee a show where guests have a chance to have a conversation.

For example he had Bill Maher on his show and provided a counterpoint to Bill's belief that all people of faith are delusional.

He also did an interview with Richard Dreyfuss, who in response to a comment by Mike that Richard's views were "complex" - said, "sound bites are the enemy of thought".

That's a dangerous proposition to make on a network or cable news show of course but somewhat ironically they couldn't delve into a discussion because time was up.

If Fox News wants to appeal to a broader section of people, a more middle of road compassionate point of view such as Mike Huckabee presents, might be a place to start.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fox News - Cross Between Infomercial and The X Files

Bill Burton, an Obama campaign spokesperson, does a great job of making those poor Fox News talking heads look silly. At one point in the interview he says, "Fox News is a cross between an infomercial and the X files."

The first video is interesting in it's attempt to not so subliminally influence what people are thinking by putting up wanted posters and scary pictures on the split screen while Bill Burton calmly and logically explains what's going on - you almost can't hear what he's saying because the graphics are so intense.

One of the anchors says Fox News keeps echoing things that don't matter because "that's what the viewers want." I suppose some segment of the population wants fake news from Fox just like readers of the Weekly World News want to read about the manigator that upset a McCain rally recently or a 9 foot tall cyclops who joined the NBA.










In the second video the anchor says there was a Rasmussen poll that shows Americans' think Fox News is the least biased network. That doesn't sound right to me.

I can't find that poll on the internet, but there is a Rasmussen report that says 87% of Fox Viewers said they are likely to vote for John McCain. Maybe she was talking about a poll of Fox News viewers who agree with each other that Fox News is the only news source they can trust.

Every other news source is reporting real news about the economy, unemployment, and other things that actually impact people's lives - which isn't nearly as much fun as an endless loop of attacks, conspiracies and interviews with a plumber expounding on economics, tax policy, and now foreign affairs.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fox News Worried Its Viewers Might Confuse a Cartoon With Actual News

Matt Groening, creator of "The Simpsons," tells John Stewart Fox News Worried Its Viewers Might Confuse a Cartoon with Actual News.

The clip of the Krusty the Clown campaign spot is pretty funny - be sure and read the scrolling text on the bottom of the screen...very Fox-like.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

We Need a Two Party System

I've always seen the Republican party as the party for rich people. Being a poor person, or a working class person, it never appealed to me. However - I can see a need for opposing points of view - someone has to stand up for the rich, because some rich people use their money to employ the poor.

From an article in The New Republic -
"For years, many of the elite conservatives were happy to harvest the votes of devout Christians and gun owners by waging a phony class war against 'liberal elitists' and 'leftist intellectuals.' Suddenly, the conservative writers are discovering that the very anti-intellectualism their side courted and encouraged has begun to consume their movement.

The cause of Edmund Burke, Leo Strauss, Robert Nisbet and William F. Buckley Jr. is now in the hands of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity--and Sarah Palin. Reason has been overwhelmed by propaganda, ideas by slogans, learned manifestoes by direct-mail hit pieces."

Rush, Sean and Sarah are not going to build a coherent political party platform - they are good at energizing the base/mob, attacking people and providing sound-bites, but not at all good at articulating alternative ideas. In this sense they are conservative, i.e. they want to maintain a status quo - some fuzzy vision of what things are like or were like.

The Republican party rode the "polarize the country" and "fool poor people into thinking we are looking out for them" for a few decades - and it was a good ride from a power point of view - not so good for the average citizen.

It's time for some new ideas.

One thing liberals are good at is coming up with new ideas, believing in unlimited possibilities of the individual, nothing is impossible.
"As has often been acknowledged by conservative writers, one of the fundamental traits of the conservative attitude is a fear of change, a timid distrust of the new as such, while the liberal position is based on courage and confidence, on a preparedness to let change run its course even if we cannot predict where it will lead."

Source - Institut HAYEK - Why I Am Not a Conservative
Liberals need conservative thinkers to debate and moderate their ideas. We need a strong thoughtful conservatism - not fear tactics, dopey name-calling, labels and yelling - aimed at stopping thoughtful consideration of ideas.

A party willing to give up individual liberty for a government defined and mandated morality was never a good idea - and has gradually led to an erosion of individual liberties that makes this such a great country to live in.

If the Republican party wants to rebuild itself as the party of fiscal conservatism that might work...but the fact of the matter is a strictly conservative point of view will never be sufficient for good government - we need a second party that offers viable alternatives.

Friday, October 24, 2008

What's the Real Federal Deficit? And How Do We Pay it Off?

According to this USA TODAY article written in August of 2006 -
"The federal government keeps two sets of books.

The set the government promotes to the public has a healthier bottom line: a $318 billion deficit in 2005.

The set the government doesn't talk about is the audited financial statement produced by the government's accountants following standard accounting rules. It reports a more ominous financial picture: a $760 billion deficit for 2005. If Social Security and Medicare were included — as the board that sets accounting rules is considering — the federal deficit would have been $3.5 trillion.

The official number is based on "cash accounting," similar to the way you track what comes into your checking account and what goes out. That works fine for paying today's bills, but it's a poor way to measure a financial condition that could include credit card debt, car loans, a mortgage and an overdue electric bill.

The audited number is based on accrual accounting. This method doesn't care about your checking account. It measures income and expenses when they occur, or accrue. If you buy a velvet Elvis painting online, the cost goes on the books immediately, regardless of when the check clears or your eBay purchase arrives."

The answer of how to work our way out of this is simple -

We need to create good paying jobs that will increase tax revenue and we need to reduce spending.

It helps to have fiscally conservative members of Congress like the Blue Dog Democrats but we also need to reduce military spending for weaponry, and maintaining a large overseas military presence.

We spend almost as much money as the rest of the world combined on the military and military-related activities.




The government says defense spending is 20% of the federal pie chart, but other estimates say defense-related spending takes up 54% of our tax dollars.

Our current model is based on the cold war of the 1950's and a WWII model - where powerful nations were at odds. If we transition to an international police-based model where we treat terrorists as criminals we would be better able to deal with the guerilla-style terrorist threats to national security of the 21st century and reduce our military-related spending considerably.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Barack Obama TV Special - 8 PM Wednesday Oct 29

Barack Obama has a half hour spot this Wednesday at 8 pm on NBC, CBS and Fox

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Choose Joy

People say we are what we eat, but I'm pretty sure we are what we think.

What we read, listen to and think about shapes the way we view the world. If we can find simple things to be thankful for everyday we find happiness.

It's paradoxical, but we do not find happiness by trying to make ourselves happy - but rather by thinking less about ourselves and more about people less fortunate, we find peace, satisfaction and more joy. Doing something good for another person often has more benefit for the doer than the receiver.

I think it's a good idea to become involved in volunteer activities, or take individual acts, that help other people - for a very selfish reason - it makes us happier. There's really nothing wrong with being selfish if it leads to you being happy and has an added benefit of aiding others.

I also think it's a good idea to become involved with some sort of spiritual activity - whether it be a church or just finding devotionals or thought of day material that have positive messages.

We start by looking inward and as we grow we become more outward focused and realize that doing simple things to take care of ourselves allows us to do more for others. Taking a news-break, reading and listening to positive messages, buying fresh flowers, eating healthy foods, exercise, breathing and meditation - can all help us, so we can help others.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

-Philippians 4:4-9 (NRSV)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Believing in Vote Fraud May be Dangerous to a Democracy's Health

From an article in Slate Magazine By Dahlia Lithwick -
"Large-scale, coordinated vote stealing doesn't happen. The incentives—unlike the incentives for registration fraud—just aren't there. In an interview this week with Salon, Lorraine Minnite of Barnard College, who has studied vote fraud systematically, noted that "between 2002 to 2005 only one person was found guilty of registration fraud. Twenty others were found guilty of voting while ineligible and five were guilty of voting more than once. That's 26 criminal voters." Twenty-six criminal voters despite the fact that U.S. attorneys, like David Iglesias in New Mexico, were fired for searching high and low for vote-fraud cases to prosecute and coming up empty."

It will be interesting to see what efforts are made to skew the vote this time around. There have already been some number of voter purges in Montana where an Army Reservist and one of the most highly decorated veterans of World War II were taken off the registration list by Republican zealots.

PBS and YouTube have teamed up to encourage people to send in videos of their election day experience to Vote 2008 Election Connection.

Michael Waldman from the Brennan Center for Justice talks about voter purging in this CBS News video -

Monday, October 20, 2008

Joe Comes to Tacoma

No it wasn't Joe the Plumber or Joe Six-Pack - but Joe Biden came to Cheney Stadium (temporarily named Obama Biden Stadium) yesterday. He gave a very inspiring speech and it was very cool to see Governor Christine Gregoire, and U.S. Senator's Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray on the stage with him. I watched on CSpan, but R&B got to see it in person.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colin Powell Endorses Barack Obama

Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for president this morning on Meet The Press.

Colin Powell says of John McCain and Barack Obama that, "Both of them are distinguished Americans who are patriotic and devoted to the welfare of our country."

He also stated that he was "concerned with the selection of Sarah Palin as a vice-presidential candidate" saying he, "does not believe she is ready to be president" and that her selection, along with John McCain's changing position on issues during the economic turmoil, raises questions about John McCain's judgement.

He says that Barack Obama has a steadiness, intellectual curiousity, depth of knowledge, and a definitive way of doing business that will serve us well.

He says the Republican party's approach over the last seven weeks has become narrower and narrower, while the Democrat's have a more inclusive approach that crosses ethnic, racial and generational lines - and recognizes all villages and towns have value - not just small villages and towns.

Colin Powell is troubled that some Republican's are narrowing the party's appeal and polarizing people by trying to paint Barack Obama as a terrorist sympathizer by using robo calls and statements by Sarah Palin - and with the misguided attempts by some who say Barack Obama is a Muslim. Colin Powell points out that Barack Obama is a Christian, and that there is nothing wrong with being a Muslim in this country. He says how wrong it is that in America the land of opportunity - that people who are saying these things might make a seven year old kid, who is a Muslim, think he or she could not grow up to be president.

Who is the president we need now?

Colin Powell says - Barack Obama's ability to inspire, the inclusive nature of his campaign, his rhetorical abilities, his style and substance shows he has met the standard and has the potential to be an exceptional president. He is a transformational figure, a new generation coming onto the world and America's stage. For these reasons he will be voting for Barack Obama.

_________________________________

As a Republican Colin Powell is disappointed with the debasement of the Republican ideals that has come about by following a Fox-Newslike campaign strategy of no substance and all sensationalism. It is unfortunate that instead of letting John McCain be himself and provide a valid counterpoint as he did in this November 2006 speech to the Federalist Society we are left with a campaign that is racing to the lowest common denominator.

I have a great deal of respect for Colin Powell. If you want to learn more about Colin Powell, his book My American Journey, published in 2003, is very interesting and inspiring. This is a quote from that book -

"To sum up my political philosophy, I am a fiscal conservative with a social conscience. Neither of the two major parties, however, fits me comfortably in its present state. Granted, politics is the art of compromise, but for now I prefer not to compromise just so that I can say I belong to this or that party. I am troubled by the political passion of those on the extreme right who seem to claim divine wisdom on political as well as spiritual matters. God provides us with guidance and inspiration, not a legislative agenda. I am disturbed by the class and racial undertones beneath the surface of their rhetoric. On the other side of the spectrum, I am put off by patronizing liberals who claim to know what is best for society but devote little thought to who will eventually pay the bills. I question the priorities of those liberals who lavish so much attention on individual license and entitlements that little concern is left for the good of the community at large. I distrust rigid ideology from any direction, and I am discovering that many Americans feel just as I do."






______________________________________________


Speaking of endorsements, Editor & Publisher shows Barack Obama leads John McCain 76-18 in newspaper endorsements as of Saturday October 18th. Some of these newspapers typically support the Republican candidate. The Houston Chronicle and Austin American-Statesman who strongly supported George Bush in 2004, and one - The Chicago Tribune has never endorsed a Democrat for president.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Obama Leading in 7-11 Coffee Cup Poll


You can participate in the 7-11 Election 2008 by buying a cup of coffee in a McCain or Obama coffee cup. It's interesting that around 60% elect to purchase the Obama cup. The poll has a bias of course but it seems like it would be biased towards people with lower incomes and the working class - the real Joe The Plumber/Joe Six Pack types.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Safe, Prosperous and Free

It's interesting that some candidates spend so much money on negative TV ads while a young independent artist comes up with his own video with a positive message. I'm not sure how a traditional political campaign could ever compete with this kind of grassroots effort.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Amateur Gourmet

The blog The Amateur Gourmet looks pretty interesting to me. I especially like the graphics at the top of the home page.

I ran across that blog while looking for information on the impact adrenaline in animal meat may have on the people who consume that meat. I didn't find anything on that topic but I did find Food and Drugs: Two Questions which was good for a smile.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Good News - There Will Be Snacks

Tables And Chairs by Andrew Bird

"I know we're gonna meet someday in the crumbled financial institutions of this land
there will be tables and chairs
pony rides and dancing bears
there'll even be a band
'cause listen after the fall there'll be no more countries
no currencies at all
we're gonna live on our wits
throw away survival kits
trade butterfly knives for adderal
and that's not all
woah!
there will be snacks, there will
there will be snacks!"

Lyrics - Tables And Chairs by Andrew Bird

Listen to the song at Andrew Bird - live concert video on Fabchannel.com

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sarah Palin Tellin a Whopper? - You Betcha

From the report to the Alaska Legislative Council released Friday October 10, 2008 by a 12-0 vote of the Alaska Legislative Council, with eight Republicans and four Democrats voting -

Finding Number One

For the reasons explained in section IV of this report, I find Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act. Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) provides

"The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust"

Sarah Palin tells Alaska reporters in a phone interview on October 11, 2008 -

"I'm very, very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing, any hint of any kind of unethical activity there. Very pleased to be cleared of any of that."

The Fact Checkers at the Washington Post gave Sarah "Four Pinocchios" for this whopper.

Jiminy Cricket must be quite disappointed.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Who's Terrorizing Who?

The Truth will set you free.

Fight The Smears cites articles from FactCheck.org, The New York Times, The Associated Press, CNN, The Washington Post, The Detroit Free Press, and The Chicago Sun Times that explain how ridiculous the claim is that Barack Obama being on a board, and at a political fundraiser, that included William Ayers, has anything to do with Barack Obama's character or political views.

Part of what makes this baseless attack on Barack Obama scary is the implication that there is no free press - we can't trust anyone.

That should strike terror in the hearts of everyone who believes a functioning democracy depends on an informed citizenry.

_____________________________

Another talking point that's being repeated is that Barack Obama praised a book written by William Ayers. The next time some drone says or writes that Barack Obama said something good about one of William Ayer's books, ask them if they are talking about 1. To Become a Teacher: Making a Difference in Children's Lives or 2. A Kind and Just Parent or 3. The Good Preschool Teacher or one of the other 13 books William Ayer's has written.

The correct answer is number 2. If they get that right you can ask them if they would like to burn that book, or make sure more people read it since it's been praised by the Library Review, Kirkus Reviews, Amazon.com Review - among others - for describing how the the juvenile justice system can eliminate a child's chance for redemption, and for providing hope that the system can be changed to give children a chance.

__________________________________

A whisper campaign of guilt by association - based on someone being at a fundraiser, serving on a board, and saying someone wrote something useful for people who want to help children - but not listening when Barack Obama says William Ayer's acts as a Weatherman 40 years ago were "detestable", or reading numerous reputable newspapers that say the connection is absurd - is intended to appeal to a person's gut, not their head. It's a perfect example of what Stephen Colbert so aptly defined as Truthiness.

If we wanted to talk about guilt by association there are much closer ties between John McCain and G. Gordon Liddy that bear some consideration when deciding on who to vote for as the next president.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pick Your President

<p><strong>><a href='http://projects.washingtonpost.com/2008/pick-your-president/'>2008 Election Contest: Pick Your President</a></strong> - Predict the winner of the 2008 presidential election and enter to win a $500 prize.</p>

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Tribe has Spoken

Maybe it's the campaign season, or I've been watching to much cable news, but America seems to be moving away from a democratic civilized society where rational discourse is used to examine and critique a variety of ideas - and becoming a nation of tribes.

We have divided ourselves into tribes, by using labels that we often don't understand - "Republicans", "Democrats", "Liberals", "Conservatives", "Radicals".

Once I've labeled you I can discount "you" since you are not a member of my tribe. It becomes a quick leap from rational thought to emotionally charged feelings - you are bad, you are scary, you are not like me. I want what's good - you for some reason want what's bad. It's all silly nonsense of course - because the definition of the tribe is sometimes based on no more than sound bites heard on MSNBC or Fox News or whatever TV/radio show, internet site, we think best represents our tribe.

Political affiliation, similar to religious affiliation, is often an accident of birth and many people don't bother to examine the underlying philosophies of either the political or religious tribe they claim membership in. Never having developed their own religious or political beliefs they are left open to following whatever mystical or irrational ideas are promoted by the leader(s) of the tribe.

As an antidote to the cheering (or booing) mobs I see on TV I'm reading Karl Popper's book written in 1944 - the Open Society and Its Enemies (Volume 1).

After I've finished those I think I'll re-read the San Francisco longshoreman/philosopher Eric Hoffer's book The True Believer.

I'm afraid if all I do is watch TV, listen to the radio and visit my favorite websites I'll be tempted to join in the emotion - stop thinking rationally, and thereby give up my individual liberty to say and think what I want. If the tribe has spoken and they do my thinking and talking for me - then I can stop thinking....and cease to exist as an individual.

What a waste that would be - we live in a free country - we are all wonders of God's creation - we should take advantage of that fact to come up with new, better and more peaceful ways of thinking and doing things.



_______________________________



Friday, October 10, 2008

Why Conservatism Fails as a Social System

I'm reading a book by Friedrich Hayek written in 1944 called the The Road to Serfdom.

In his preface from 1956 Friedrich Hayek writes,
"Conservatism, though a necessary element in any stable society, is not a social program; in its paternalistic, nationalistic, and power-adoring tendencies it is often closer to socialism than true liberalism; and with its traditionalistic, anti-intellectual, and often mystical propensities it will never, except in short periods of disillusionment, appeal to the young and all those others who believe that some changes are desirable if this world is to become a better place. A conservative movement, by its very nature is bound to be a defender of established privilege and to lean on the power of government for the protection of privilege.

The essence of the liberal position, however, is the denial of all privilege, if privilege is understood in its proper and original meaning of the state granting and protecting rights to some which are not available on equal terms to others."
It's important to note that Friedrich Hayek's classical definition of liberalism maintains that freedom of the individual and limitations on government are paramount. I have no idea what the word liberal means in today's society - except that it's something that some Republicans and Conservatives know is scary and that they don't like it. I think we have confused ourselves with a lot of labels which serve to divide people who share common ideas - or at least common goals of continually creating a better civilization.