Sunday, October 31, 2010
A true democracy works wonderfully well when there aren't a million people wanting a million different things. Everyone has a vote that counts. Everyone is required to make a choice. Every choice is required to be made by everyone. All laws are made by everyone.
A republic is based on representatives of some kind. These representatives represent the people. Providing a service to the individual, the representative votes for everything. The role of the people is limited based on how the representatives are chosen. If the representatives are appointed for the people, there is little the people have to do with their government. This form of government can be a very fair one or a corrupt one, depending on how it is implemented.
Monarchies, Dictatorships, Theocracies, etc. Many versions of various kinds of government, each with varying degrees of "people" involvement.
Our government is a democratic-republic. We vote for representatives who are then sent to the capitol to represent our needs. Still, the representative is expected to decide certain policies without direction from the "people". We can be more or less involved in our government to suit our individual needs. Pretty simple, really. Well, is it?
"We the people" are willing to step on the liberties of others who do not believe the same as we do.
"We the people" simply do not care. Most of us don't.
"We the people" are more interested in obtaining security at the cost of liberty.
"We the people" are willing to give the government more power and allow more interference in our lives because we do not care enough to take care of it ourselves.
"We the people" want others to give up their liberties and give up their possessions so we can have more.
"We the people" care more about ways to manipulate the system and still look good to others than we do about making real change.
"We the people" look upon self-sufficient people and entities with greed and envy.
I do not like the things I see in our society. I hear about the evils of corporations from our leaders in government and calls to increase their taxes. What? Many, many people depend on corporations for their livelihood. Whether that livelihood is gained through employment or investments, taxing the corporation will damage people.
I continue to hear about those evil people who make more than $250,000.00 annually. They must have done something wrong to have gained more than their share of the money so we must tax them at extreme rates. Do people who earn over 250,000 dollars spend their money? I bet they do. So if you take that from them, are they going to be able to spend it? Nope. Who does that help? Look, it isn't about that anyway. Fairness. Equal taxation. These seem foreign to "the people".
Global warming. There is a concept science has "proven" to be caused by the actions of humans. OK, I'll buy it. We are causing global warming. I hear about purchasing "credits" that let "the people" live their lives the way they want and still feel good about how much they are affecting global warming. What kind of hypocrisy is that? Preach the evils of living in certain ways, consuming what you feel you would like and purchasing your way out of a sore conscience. If you truly believe the human experience is causing global warming, change your life. Do not burden others with your excesses.
Apathy. The fall of Rome was founded on apathy. The fall of any great civilization is based at least in part on apathy. So, should we do anything about it? I don't care.
OK, I care. The only way for us to be the best is to care enough to do the right thing. "We the people" do not care. Generally, our lives have become too complicated to care about doing anything besides those activities that have a direct and immediate affect on us and those for whom we care. Sad, really. A self-centered attitude breeds selfishness. Simple and obvious. How do we change? Make time to do things for others. Yes, it comes down to a seven letter word. Service. Serving the needs of others helps us keep our perspective where it belongs - outward.
In Bloomington, Illinois a man complains about an unrated foreign movie he rented from the public library. He said is was soft porn and should not be part of the library's collection. Whether that is true or not, I don't know. Based on this man's complaint, the library board decided to remove it from their DVD selection. I do not wish to suggest the library should have everything available nor do I wish to suggest there should be no limits. I wonder, though. Upon whose morals do we rely when we are deciding upon the limits of our liberties?
The constitution is only going to protect "we the people" as long as "we the people" are willing to do the right thing. It is not the government's job to take care of us. It is not the government's job to provide for the poor. It is not the government's job to provide health care or decide who must purchase what. It is not the government's job to tell me what to say. It is not the government's job to tell the radio talking head what to say either. It is not the government's position to do much of anything in my life.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
There needs to be a limit to what the government can do. Conversely, if "we the people" do not step up to the responsibilities endowed upon all men, the government will and the limits of the government will start to be loosened.
One day, "We the people" are going to say to our comrades, "where are we going and why are we in this basket?" We will not have to worry too much about it because the road will have been paved and paid for by our tax dollars, or rather borrowed from the taxes our children will pay.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
So, yesterday, I talked a little about proposition 20 and the flaws it contains. I can't properly consider a proposition without fully understanding what the fine details are. Yes, on the surface there's reason to believe that proposition 20 should become law. However, as I suggested yesterday there's serious problems contained in this legislation. No matter how good the idea, the fine details need to also stand muster. There's got to be fewer flaws than the good done by the law.
Today, I would consider more deeply the opposing initiative, proposition 27. The authors of proposition 27 are Daniel Lowenstein and election law attorney Fred Woocher. It is an alternative to proposition 20, which establishes reform that truly merits the consideration of thoughtful Californians. It should not be dismissed outright without thought. Here's what proposition 27 (FAIR - Financial Accountability In Redistricting) would do:
- Return control of redistricting to a democratically elected body that is accountable to the people, which can also be fired by the people.
- Reduce the cost of redistricting. This is important at a time when California is spending far more money than it is taking in. FAIR establishes an unbreakable cap on taxpayer dollars that would be spent on this political game of musical chairs. FAIR will offer a "likely decrease in state redistricting costs totaling several million dollars over 10 years."
- Mandate that all districts of the same type be precisely equal in population - no variations in districts means there will be no "rotten boroughs".
- Reduce the number of cities and counties that are split between districts.
- Strengthen effective community representation.
- Return to the people the right to referendum, to vote no on a congressional redistricting statute.
- Unlike proposition 20, there will be no income test for admittance to a district. FAIR requires all redistricting proposals to strictly conform to the mandates of the Voting rights Act. This will ensure fair representation for all people.
Monday, October 25, 2010
It's true there's something enticing about removing some of the politics out of redistricting California. It's true it seems to be the right thing to do. Still, can we really depend on this solution? What do we know about Proposition 20?
Proposition 20 would give power over redistricting of California's congressional districts to a panel of 14 randomly selected volunteers. They are required by law to have no experience in government or real-life redistricting. Also, the selection process is something only a tax accountant could love. Seriously. Anonymous tax accountants play a big role in the selection. Proposition 20 mandates that all California political districts be segrerated by income level. Yes, each district is to include only people of the same income as well as employment opportunities and other living standards. The words used in the legislation are "similar living standards . . . similar work opportunities."
Why? What purpose could there be to mandate the separation of people by income level into different districts? Through this scheme, the law would force San Francisco's high-end Nob Hill area (the Mark Hopkins Hotel, the Fairmont Hotel) to be in the same congressional district as the equally high-end Marina district (beautiful homes overlooking the scenic Golden Gate Bridge, vistas of San Francisco Bay) but neither of these neighborhoods could be in the same district as the high-unemployment ghetto of Hunters Point. Why is this so? All of these neighborhoods are currently in the district of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and all three areas contain Pelosi enthusiasts. What good comes from slicing out the primarily African American area of Hunters Point out of Peloxi's district? How does that imrpove life in the ghetto or on Nob Hill or in California. Does it stop our state from going broke? Does it eliminate the California debt?
You know what it sound like to me? It sounds like a throwback to an awfull, bygone era, "Jim Crow." Most voters today remember that time only because of what was written in history books. Others seem to have forgotten. Districting by race, by class, by lifestyle or by wealth just is not acceptable. Californians should understand these code words. The days of "country club members only" districts or of "poor people only" districts are over aren't they? This is only one reason Proposition 20 should be defeated.
So, what would happen if proposition passes? Redistricting will jeopardize the seniority of California's House members — Republican and Democrat alike. Billions of federal dollars will flow away from California to states like Texas or New York. Those states' senior congressmen will be protected by state legislatures desperate for federal dollars. You know there's a reason the League of women Voters recommends voting against Proposition 20.
Personally, I don't care as much about the loss of senior representation. It's about the level at which this legislation was written. What are the alterior motives behind the legislation? Don't vote for something because of what the stated intent is without looking at the legislation, you know the small type. You wouldn't buy a car without due research. You wouldn't sign any contract without looking it over. This is just as important.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Incredibly, it is too late when many realize that it was all for naught. The onset of what we have termed to be mid-life crisis comes when we realize our wanderings have been haphazard, leading us far from what really brings us joy or what really matters.
Instead of accepting what will eventually become of us, we will find greater joy in determining the correct path to follow. We cannot know what that path is until we know where it is we want to end up. Introspection and deep, significant planning is only part of the process. Maintaining a grasp on that reality, stopping and taking inventory, repositioning ourselves relevant to our desire and pressing forward with full purpose - these are what we must do if we are going to gain access to the better part.
“Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.” – Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Further consider that should a man believe certain principles to be divine, asking him to recant or speak contrary to those principles would be infringing on his rights to believe or live according to those beliefs.
I would never presume to suggest that another's beliefs are any less valid than those I hold dear. Although I might consider certain beliefs to be divinely sure - a.k.a. factual - I cannot presume others have come to the same conclusion. I would not think to hold a man to lower esteem for having convictions that are contrary to mine. I only ask for the same consideration not only for myself but for everyone.
If I should consider certain principles to be divinely sure, my actions would be heretic should I chose to recant or apologize for them. I would then be hardly capable of doing so under any outside pressure which was less powerful than my conviction. A dedication to what one considers truth would hardly be worth anything if this was not the case.
No, I should not think to suggest anyone has the right to tell anyone else what to say or how to believe. The freedom to make these decisions certainly is divine in nature so it truly is the heretic who lives contrary to his own beliefs or suggests another should do the same.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
I wonder how much I have hindered myself by making excuses for my shortcomings. How much more is there that I haven’t attained for the excuse that I am but a weak man! It is the basics that I must apply to my life – prayer, study, service, family.
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Monday, October 04, 2010
Sunday, October 03, 2010
Friday, October 01, 2010
The fact that everyone dreams is pretty universal, isn’t it? Still, I try never to read too much into the night visions haunting my sleep. What I remember of my dreams is very foggy most of the time. I know there are more than just the few moments I can still recall after waking up. I also know that little things can set off some of the strangest of illusions. The other night, I was dreaming about a race down a desert hill in something of a cardboard racecar. That alone is quite weird. The race, however, ended abruptly as I veered right into a barrel cactus. I braced for impact and threw my hands forward to keep from doing a face plant directly into the cactus. Boy, did my hand feel those needles. Looking at my right hand, I had three-inch needles slicing through my palm. I knew I needed to get these things out of my hand so I ran off to get medical attention – yeah, I could have just pulled them out myself but I was being wimpy. As I was going, I noticed my hand started to swell. Eventually, the swelling had advanced to the point that my fingers disappeared into this throbbing ball of oozing flesh. That’s when I woke up. My hand was very sore in reality. The elementary thought of cause and effect would bend logic to consider the dream was so real that the pain persisted even until I had waked from my slumber. In fact, I was probably sleeping wrong and had lain on my hand causing the pain. The dream was likely the result of this discomfort.
I think, in most cases, we create what we see while we sleep. Most dreams are based on things we were thinking about sometime in the hours leading up to our nocturnal slumber. Or, as in the case of my soapbox derby debacle, it is a result of a pain we’re feeling at the time of the hallucination.
More recently, I dreamed a very vivid and detailed vision. I share it here not for any other reason beyond how vivid the detail and significant the emotions derived from the experience.
Whether I was late to the party or most other guests were early I could not tell. It seemed the small park was full of people, all I would call friends or close family members. I was particularly surprised to find in attendance friends who I hadn’t seen in many years and many family members who had actually already passed from this world. I thought how special the occasion must be to garner such attendees. Still, I had no understanding of the purpose of this wonderful gathering. The feelings of acceptance and love persisted as I paused to speak with various people. I enjoyed handshakes from some and warm embraces from others. Everyone seemed to be in grand spirits for the occasion.
I did not recognize the park where the party is in full swing. Inside a perimeter set by whitewashed wrought iron filigrees and flourishes, the grounds were well manicured with twisting walkways that run parallel to closely trimmed shrubs. Lush cannot begin to describe the labyrinth made by a wonderful mix of common and exotic foliage. All paths, however, seemed to converge in the middle of the grounds where a beautiful waterfall, pond and gazebo stood. There were three fountains with water fanning in all directions spaced through the pond. With rocky outcroppings and lined with various kinds of ferns, the waterway too was manicured with impeccable grace. I noticed on one wood pillion low to the water's surface, a small turtle warming in the fleeting heat of the afternoon sun. There were myriad colors shimmering under the surface as nishikigoi swam in a hypnotic rhythm.
While I was entranced by the beautifully colored carp I realized my watch had started to fall apart. I scrambled to catch the pieces before I would lose them in the water below. How did they fit all these parts into such a small timepiece? My hands were overflowing with springs, cogs, gears and ornamental finery. I noticed there was just too much for one person to handle and sought help from those around me. Although they looked at me with sympathetic eyes, no one moved to my assistance. As I began to feel overwhelmed, I dropped a couple pieces into the shallows near the gazebo. I needed to retrieve these and bent down to reach them. As I picked up one piece, I would drop one or two others. My situation became desperate. I didn’t want to misplace even one part. I had hope I could still repair what was being lost.
As I turned for help from those who were near me, they seemed to move away from me. The sympathy that first displayed in their eyes was replaced by a cold stare of indifference. It was at this point I felt a sincere loss and the heaviness of despair. I could not give up but there was no chance for me to retain this treasure.
In the midst of this hopeless turmoil, I woke. The clock read 3:30.