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Philosophy | Politics | Religion

Category: Politics

Supreme Court Battle for Control

 I don’t know about you but I grew up thinking the Supreme Court was made up of the finest legal minds and that as a team, would arrive at the best interpretation of the Constitution.  The thought that ideological leanings, personal attitudes, values, political philosophies, or policy preferences would influence a Justice’s vote didn’t get on my radar until the court got involved in the Florida ballot issue in the Bush v Gore presidential election. 

 Alright, I admit I wasn’t paying attention.  I still find 5 to 4 votes to be an indication that the makeup of the Supreme Court could be better if it is always the same Justices that vote the same way.  It is a red alert signal that the Court is flawed when the majority vote keeps being made by the same Justices. The flaw is a Court that doesn’t have a sufficient number of swing voting Justices.  The question is then whether a President and Senate will fix the flaw or compound it.

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France’s Macron vs. USA’s Trump–Contrasting Visions

April 25, 2018

France’s president Emmanuel Macron in front of US Congress — got a standing ovation.  


“I believe that against ignorance, we have education — against the threats on the planet, science,” he explained. “I believe in building a better future for our children, which requires offering them a planet that is still habitable in 25 years. Some people think that securing current industries and their jobs is more urgent than transforming our economies to meet the global challenge of climate change. I hear these concerns. But we must find a smooth transition to a low carbon economy.”


Macron on Trump leaving Paris Agreement– “isolationism, withdrawal and nationalism” can temporarily remedy our fears, but that it won’t keep the changes in the world from taking effect.


“We have to keep our eyes wide open to new risks right in front of us,” he continued. “I’m convinced that if we decide to open our eyes wider, we will be stronger. We will overcome the dangers. We will not let the rampaging work of extreme nationalism shake a world full of hopes for greater prosperity.”

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The Growth of the Independent Voter

The growth of the independent voter is derived from dislike of the dysfunction in Washington DC tied to our-way-or-no-way practices.  Political Parties have become locked in.

If we are not elected officials, the best way to avoid political group think is to just get out of it. How? Well, to get started, we could register and identify as an Independent voter and then we could, regardless of Party, stop voting for far-right or far-left candidates.  Instead, we could vote for moderates in Primaries that have an impelling vision not tied to Party or historical dogma.

Political Parties are supposed to bring order to the process of policy making. As party members, individual politicians have a ready-made group of allies that will usually cooperate with their efforts to pass and implement legislation. At the national level, this means that a rookie Congressperson is supposed to arrive with a network of allies that would support their efforts and that he/she would support in turn.  That best works when the Party is made up of flexible and willing to compromise INDIVIDUALS.  Otherwise a newly elected person basically votes as they are told.

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Millennials

–“The boomers inherited a rich, dynamic country and have gradually bankrupted it.”


By Sean Illing@seanillingsean.illing@vox.com  Dec 20, 2017, 9:00am EST
How the baby boomers — not millennials — screwed America

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Taxes

The first and most important responsibility of any corporation is to be economically viable while being good stewards which means more than optimizing the traditional goal of increased shareholder wealth. Climate change, water shortages, decreasing biodiversity, unequal distribution of wealth and economic opportunity, social unrest, and cyber-attacks are among the acknowledged threats to the sustainability of businesses around the globe.

Sometimes unions and employees have to cooperate and agree to wage and benefit reductions and sometimes there is a need to increase the pay of managers who are the difference between failure and success.  Sometimes workers will have to increase productivity without receiving a pay increase.  All this is especially true when all are included in profit sharing and the alternative is closing a factory or shifting employment to low-wage sites abroad.

That works for large big ticket companies like General Motors or Caterpillar but not for manufacturers of small lower cost products.  Labor intensive, repetitive, low skill jobs will continue to move off shore and won’t come back.  In their place should be large scale infrastructure jobs.  The exception should be those repetitive jobs that could be performed in American prisons.

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Hope Is America’s Strength

The Role of Hope

There will be more peace in the world if developing countries raise their standard of living and quality of life.  There should be hope everywhere.  Our businesses should stop trying to merely maximize profits off the backs of fellow souls in third world countries or from the natural resources of third world countries.  A fair share of profits gained from workers or resources should by invested back into those countries to build infrastructure, schools, and hospitals and resources should never be taken without protecting the environment and beauty of those third world countries.

We can help create more global hope because hope is America’s unique national quality.  It is its outlook for a better and promising future.  Americans approach challenges as opportunities and not as obstacles.  Most Americans look ahead toward aspirations and do not dwell on current circumstance.  Americans do this because that is its history.  Everywhere else in the world there is a history of struggle that has had to be overcome–a history where populations have not benefited from the power of optimism.

The United States has been known as a grand experiment. Its still new. Other countries have joined us in this grand experiment.  Others are either coming along kicking and screaming or have totally rejected it. Optimism and hope are at the heart of this grand experiment as much as is self rule.

America needs to help others evolve.  But how is evolvement measured?  By more of the Earth’s population having adequate food, clothing, shelter, medicine, health, jobs?  Is it that our technology and scientific knowledge is improved and shared?  Is it that we live longer?  Is it that more of Earth’s populations live where human rights are honored, where political systems serve rather than repress?  Is it by looking into prisons and seeing who are inside and the conditions in which they exist?  Is it where more populations benefit from a flywheel effect that constantly increases momentum for improving ethics, morality, respect, and service to others regardless of race, religion, creed, nationality, sexual persuasion, gender, education, handicap, age, addiction?  Is it that more of Earth’s populations are productive, creatively engaged, able to live simple healthy non-addictive lives without the life shortening frustrations of insatiable materialism, greed, hate, jealously, and fear in hearts?   Are lives more balanced with equal parts of spirituality, work, play, family, sleep, and service?

According to Jared Diamond in his book Guns, Germs, and Steel:

When trying to create change and help third world countries we need to keep in mind the role history plays.  Just introducing good institutions to poor countries and expecting those countries to achieve the per capita GNP similar to first world countries ignores history.  Good institutions have appeared in countries with geographic advantages and not randomly.  We must understand the role geography has played if we hope now to produce good institutions quickly in countries lacking them.

Today’s first world countries are ones that were powerful centers thousands of years ago or were repopulated by peoples from those centers and food production was at the heart of their success.

Countries and regions with long histories of state societies or agriculture like South Korea, Japan, and China have higher GNP growth rates than countries with short histories, such as New Guinea and the Philippines even though (or perhaps because) some of those third world countries are much richer in natural resources (like oil or diamonds) than first world countries.

The following indented paragraphs contain concepts originally found in THE FUTURE AS HISTORY by Robert L. Heilbroner, 1961.

Where hope does not exist, terrorism breeds.  Where first world countries have exploited resources of third world countries and put the world’s environment second to growing an industrial base, negative images are created.

Evil breeds in countries where the majority of people still fear that their futures will never change.  Those countries will continue to have religious wars, invasions, coups, and revolutions.  They will continue to have warlords, dictators, and governments that do not serve but instead protect the wealth and power for those that already have it.

Given a chance, the countries where the majority of their people do not evolve will seek to conquer its neighbors for they do not know any better.  Earth will not evolve into a peaceful loving planet until its vast populations evolve.

Evil will exist because there are opportunities for evil people to exist where there is a general lack of education and hope for a better life or there hasn’t been time to evolve because opportunities are too new.  Terrorists and dictators from countries and geographic areas where their majorities do not have optimism for their futures will act like they always have in Earth’s history.

Even with developed nations helping underdeveloped nations give their countrymen hope and optimism, it could take one or several generations before a difference can be made.    Transitioning from a hunting and gathering subsistence level economy to an agrarian level economy to an industrial economy has always included periods of repression and severity.

It should be expected that it would be just as difficult for a region of the world having sharp ethnic and religious differences and an oil-dependent economy without a history of any pluralism to have trouble with leaders, whether democratic or dictatorial, letting power corrupt.  Words will not appease them.  This is Earth’s history and until these changes are made, it will always be its future or as Sir Isaac Newton might say, unless acted upon by some outside force.

Progress is always slowed by history for not only are the economies meager in underdeveloped countries or even in oil rich countries where the wealth has gone to the few, they can’t benefit from any history where change has been gradual, successful, peaceful, and lasting.

Humans don’t really like change but once we make a decision about something including change we are impatient.  Impatience leads to haste.  In regards to terrorism, haste can lead to militant action, racism, and religious nationalism creating opportunities for evil leaders to gain control while the plurality abdicate leadership and become followers of evil rhetoric and self-serving, ego driven, power hungry evil leaders/terrorists.

Terrorism has always existed whether it is right-to-life groups bombing abortion clinics, or gangs roaming through neighborhoods, or people stealing from one another, or people pushing drugs, stealing children, or beating and raping, or ethnic groups campaigning for independence, or super powers expressing cold war rhetoric.  Civilization after civilization have been invaded, conquered, and held hostage throughout the history of Earth.

I find comfort in this passage from John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address:  “Those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of a tiger found themselves inside the tiger.”

 

Imigration

Immigration–

The US population is 322 million and will reach between 323 and 458 million by 2050 depending on levels of migration to the US. There is a need to control population growth in the United States and our immigration policy should include that goal.  School enrollment and participation in programs such as Social Security and Medicare are affected by how quickly and the extent to which the overall population grows.

The current percentages of population by race is as follows: White 63%; Black 13%; Asian 5%; Native 2%; Hispanic 17%. The United States is expected to experience significant increases in racial and ethnic diversity over the next four decades. Asian and Hispanic populations are the primary immigrant groups to the United States and are projected to more than double in size between 2000 and 2050.

The Hispanic population is the only racial or ethnic group projected to maintain fertility that is above replacement level. The Hispanic population is projected to more than double between 2000 and 2050, while the Asian population is projected to increase by 79 percent.

While there is a need to provide a permanent home and citizenship for non-citizens that know no other home than the one they are living, there are going to be arguments that will stem from the white majority that want to remain the white Protestant majority that will influence the path to citizenship for those that are productive law abiding residents that were not born here or approved to be here.

Rethinking the Role of Unions

Rethinking the Role of Unions–

The time has come where unions and business can no longer remain operational adversaries.

The goal is to work together to keep and maintain the best workforce and do it by culling out workers that are not psychologically suited for the jobs they are in, especially those individual police and corrections workers, that are non-productive non-reliable workers and non-team players.

Remaining workers should be rewarded with training, profit sharing, positive work environments, promotions, full benefit packages, and a fair base salary/wage.

If CEO’s get bonuses and profit sharing then all employees should get bonuses and profit sharing. Union dues would still be paid.

Unions need to serve the workers that are not well suited for their current jobs by helping  them learn new job skills and finding them new jobs where they can excel.

There was a time when unions needed to exercise political influence.  Workers whose formal education ended at high school and mostly performed manual work, typically did not acquire the abstract thinking required to appreciate complex, pluralistic solutions to political problems.  Labor unions tended to inculcate civic virtues in its members, pushing them to think and vote in a more enlightened way.

Times have changed. Today, unions no longer represent the large number of people that need enlightened thinking.  In the post-World War II era, one in three American workers belonged to a union; now it’s down to one in 10. In terms of representing the traditional working class, the number is even smaller, since a large and growing share of union members consists of public sector employees with college degrees (like teachers).

In a study of 16 European nations, the political scientists Christoph Arndt and Line Rennwald found that in general employees covered by collective bargaining agreements feel less threatened by the social changes that agitate far-right ideologues. (It is not an accident of history that Hitler abolished German trade unions as part of his consolidation of power, or that farmers and small business owners were more sympathetic to the Nazi cause than were industrial workers reared on unionism.)

In 2014, 14.6% of the 189 million people working in the United States were members of a union. 7.2 million employees in the public sector belonged to a union, compared with 7.4 million workers in the private sector. The union membership rate for public-sector workers (35.7 percent) was substantially higher than the rate for private-sector workers (6.6 percent).

Within the public sector, the union membership rate was highest for local government (41.9 percent), which includes employees in heavily unionized occupations, such as teachers, police officers, and firefighters. In the private sector, industries with high unionization rates included utilities (22.3 percent), transportation and warehousing (19.6 percent), telecommunications (14.8 percent), and construction (13.9 percent).

 

Gun Control-Background Checks

Gun Control–Background Checks–

Firearms are generally classified into three broad types: (1) handguns, (2) rifles, and (3) shotguns.  A semi-automatic firearm fires one bullet each time the trigger is pulled, ejects the shell of the fired bullet, and automatically loads another bullet for the next pull of the trigger.  A fully automatic firearm (sometimes called a “machine gun”) fires multiple bullets with the single pull of the trigger.

The U.S. firearm homicide rate is 20 times higher than the combined rates of 22 countries that are our peers in wealth and population. A gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to kill or injure in a domestic homicide, suicide, or unintentional shooting than to be used in self-defense.

Nine out of 10 Americans agree that we should have universal background checks, including three out of four NRA members. Since the Brady Law was initially passed, about 2 million attempts to purchase firearms have been blocked due to a background check. About half of these blocked attempts were by felons.

The current background check system only applies to about 60% of gun sales, leaving 40% (online sales, purchases at gun shows, etc.) without a background check. Progress on obtaining any kind of gun control legislation has been negligible and is partly due to gun control becoming a wedge issue between the two parties.

Might we have background checks on 100% of gun purchases and support detailed eligibility criteria for existing ownership and future purchases of automatic weapons and large clips for semi-automatic weapons? Might we restrict gun purchases for those that are on No-Flight Lists?

Where have all the dollars gone, long time passing?

In 1955, Pete Seegar wrote the song, “Where have all the flowers gone”.  It popped into my head as I was thinking about where all the dollars have gone.

 Where have all the flowers dollars gone, long time passing?
 Where have all the flowers dollars gone, long time ago?
 Where have all the flowers dollars gone?
 Young girls The 2% have picked them everyone
 Oh, when will they ever learn?
 Oh, when will they ever learn?"

In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” Confucius 

Lets look outside the United States of America and see if we can recognize wrongs there that we can’t see here.

In 1994, the Royal Dutch/Shell Group was the world’s largest fully integrated petroleum company.  In 1994 it was perhaps the world’s most truly transnational corporation and it made more money than any other company in the world reporting annual profits of $6.2 billion.

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