Philosophy | Metaphyics | Self-Discovery

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A podium

A Coalition Led House of Representatives

2023 House Speaker Election

Let’s get provocative!!  What would a coalition House look like and how might it work?

Per government rules, a Speaker of the House must be elected with a majority of votes from congresspeople, and in 2023, if all members of the House were present and did not vote present, the number of votes needed was 218. 

The House elected a Speaker in January 2023 with Republicans having 222 seats and the vast majority wanted Representative Kevin McCarthy to be Speaker. They got their wish but it wasn’t pretty.  The process exposed the split within the Party and reminded everybody of the contentiousness that grew from the 2020 Presidential election but had been brewing for at least 10 years. A 20 member House caucus of which 18 were Republican 2020 election deniers refused to vote for McCarthy, causing the election to repeat multiple times for the first time in over a century.

McCarthy was a steady defender of former president Donald Trump for most of his time as majority leader and minority leader. After Biden won the 2020 presidential election, McCarthy supported Trump’s false denial of Biden’s victory and participated in efforts to overturn the results, and while he condemned the January 6 United States Capitol attack in its immediate aftermath, blaming Trump for the riot and saying the 2020 election was legitimate, he  later walked back those comments and reconcile with Trump.

Often there needs to be a problem before change can wiggle into existence and we witnessed a problem that may have multiple solutions but for now I am talking about a coalition solution.

It took 15 rounds before McCarthy was elected.  McCarthy’s concessions to the GOP dissidents were significant and could ultimately cut his tenure as speaker short. McCarthy agreed to restore a rule allowing a single Republican member to call for a vote to depose him as speaker, the same rule that led to John Boehner’s decision to resign as speaker in 2015.

And, sure enough, as soon as McCarthy allowed a vote to keep government open, he was ousted.  It took 22 days to elect another Speaker.  On October 25, 2023, Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana was elected as the Speaker of the House.  Rep. Mike Johnson, played a key role in efforts by then-President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn Joe Biden’s electoral victory in the 2020 election.

The 20 House members throwing a roadblock to the election of a House Speaker were part of the Freedom Caucus formally known as Tea Baggers/Tea Party.  They have a history.  It was the Tea Baggers that would attend Democrats’ “meet your congressman” meetings after President Obama was first elected and shouted down the speakers.

There is little that the House can accomplish with the Senate and Presidency held by the Democratic party.  Therefore the House and Republicans will have to settle for multiple partisan investigations or compromises.

The Speaker and moderate Republicans will most likely need Democrats votes to overcome the group of 20  who have shown disdain with government spending and raising the debt ceiling.  Most Republicans want vigorous border control and while most Democrats also want that, they also want to address paths to citizenship and have their own group of 20 (for lack of a better name).  That said, the Senate has passed bipartisan funding to address the border leaving the House trying to get votes to approve it.

Both Parties have what some insist upon calling wingnuts that make compromise difficult and depending on who gets the political gain from non compromise, that Party will resist.  Unfortunately, some people will think of the whole other Party as wingnuts.  That is not a good way to find compatibility.

A coalition controlled House would need a new Speaker.  Why?  To start fresh and marginalize each Party’s hard liners.  Polls show that many issues enjoy a consensus of Americans from both Parties.  The biggest wedge driving the House apart and preventing compromise is the threat, mostly by Republicans, of being primaried if they go against ex-President Trumps wishes.

The House is in turmoil.  The most recent reason is the alternate facts regarding the 2020 Presidential election and resulting unwillingness to accept its results like has been done for all previous elections, a total of 58 of the 59 elections.

Yes, due to the COVID Pandemic, four states made minor changes to voting procedures to help voters vote safely. Those changes did not make it harder for anybody to vote nor did they favor one Party over another.  Rigged voting machines, rigged software, double counts, missed counts, fraudulent votes were proven to not be involved.

Here is what also happened.  President Trump personally tried to persuade fellow Republican election managers to change numbers and his supporters created fake elector certificates that were planned to replace actual electors.

If we want to have more elections like the our first 58,  

Should the constitutional officer second in line to the Presidency be someone who tried to overturn the 2020 election for the Presidency?

I think the best path forward given the tendency of those gangs of 20 is to elect a Speaker that Democrats would help elect and keep the gangs of 20 on the sidelines.  America needs to move forward and the election deniers are a boat anchor.

To this end, why not do it with a bang?  I would like to see Adam Kinzinger(R) elected as Speaker of the House.

He served as a United States representative from Illinois from 2011 to 2023. A member of the Republican Party, Kinzinger originally represented Illinois’s 11th congressional district and later Illinois’s 16th congressional district. He is a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard.

After President Donald Trump was defeated in the 2020 presidential election, Kinzinger became known for his vocal opposition to Trump’s claims of voter fraud and attempts to overturn the results. He would therefore be a hard pill to swallow by the right’s gang of 20 and because he is a Republican, a hard pill to swallow by the left’s gang of 20.  Kinzinger voted against impeachment in Trumps first impeachment but in Trumps second impeachment, was one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach him for incitement of insurrection.

On October 29, 2021, Kinzinger announced that he would not seek reelection to Congress in 2022, after redistricting placed him and another Republican incumbent in the same district.

If Republicans truly want to move on from President Trump then this would be a bold and powerful way of doing so.  It would send a message that the Republican Party is back and no longer hijacked by whatever it was that took the Party away from its roots.

Kinzinger is not a liberal.  He is a conservative Republican. Republicans should not be afraid of him.  Since Republicans now control, sort of, the House, maybe Democrats should find someone they can work with and if that is Kinzinger, they too should not be afraid of him.  He won’t hand Democrats what they want but maybe together they can accomplish something other than investigations and denying the results of the 2020 election.

Wealth and Health; Happiness and Money

Happiness and Money

“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.”  Albert Einstein

I found peace from learning that lots of money doesn’t increase happiness after reading a 2010 Princeton study that found that happiness plateaus at a household 2010 income of $75,000 a year ($97,500 in 2023) on average in America with some states higher like California ($90,000 now $117,000) and some lower according to a follow up study by the Huffington Post. 

As of October 18, 2022, approximately 33.6% of U.S. households earn $100,000 or more. With that, around one in three households are bringing in a six-figure income. A household can include more than one earner.

While two thirds of America is not as happy as they could be financially, it is still comforting to know that we don’t have to be overly wealthy to be happy.
“We work very hard to reach a goal, anticipating the happiness it will bring. Unfortunately, after a brief fix we quickly slide back to our baseline, ordinary way-of-being and start chasing the next thing we believe will almost certainly—and finally—make us happy.”  Frank T. McAndre

The last words of Steve Jobs –
“I have come to the pinnacle of success in business.
In the eyes of others, my life has been the symbol of success.
However, apart from work, I have little joy. Finally, my wealth is simply a fact to which I am accustomed.

At this time, lying on the hospital bed and remembering all my life, I realize that all the accolades and riches of which I was once so proud, have become insignificant with my imminent death.

In the dark, when I look at green lights, of the equipment for artificial respiration and feel the buzz of their mechanical sounds, I can feel the breath of my approaching death looming over me.
Only now do I understand that once you accumulate enough money for the rest of your life, you have to pursue objectives that are not related to wealth.

It should be something more important:
For example, stories of love, art, dreams of my childhood.
No, stop pursuing wealth, it can only make a person into a twisted being, just like me.

God has made us one way, we can feel the love in the heart of each of us, and not illusions built by fame or money, like I made in my life, I cannot take them with me.
I can only take with me the memories that were strengthened by love.
This is the true wealth that will follow you; will accompany you; will give strength and light to go ahead.

Love can travel thousands of miles and so life has no limits. Move to where you want to go. Strive to reach the goals you want to achieve. Everything is in your heart and in your hands.

What is the world’s most expensive bed? The hospital bed.  You, if you have money, you can hire someone to drive your car, but you cannot hire someone to take your illness that is killing you.  Material things lost can be found. But one thing you can never find when you lose: life.
Whatever stage of life where we are right now, at the end we will have to face the day when the curtain falls.

Please treasure your family love, love for your spouse, love for your friends…
Treat everyone well and stay friendly with your neighbors.”

Is it possible to get 50% of Americans to that magic $97,500 level and if so, how?

We would probably need to recreate the structure that existed 40 years ago.  In the late 70’s and early 80’s incomes started growing more slowly for most workers and inequality surged.  After World War II and for the next 30 years, American businesses distributed their profits widely.  Business proudly boasted about how much they paid workers and Uncle Sam.  Suppliers were getting a fair price for their goods.

Then all of a sudden a game of follow the leader raised its head.  Jack Welch and GE began to layoff huge numbers of workers and closed factories.  This resulted in less money going to workers and more to investors.  If someone owned stock they were happy and protective of such businesses.  If someone were a worker, they would take financial hits.  This was coupled with businesses trying to pay as little taxes as possible.

One person, Jack Welsh, started this trend and it snowballed its way through corporate America. Welsh transformed GE from a large employer with a loyal employee into a corporation that made much of its money from its finance division and a non-familial business relationship with workers.  GE became highly successful for a time but that model under-invested in research and development and grew from the outside in by buying other companies.  Not to belabor this but GE wound up breaking up.  As was said earlier, the GE model became a model that was copied over and over due to its initial success.

I am saying there were more than 33.6% of Americans that were happier between the late 40’s and early 70’s because they were treated more as family by their employers and were not stepchild’s to investors. All right that’s said because I wanted to say it.

Repeating again, for the last 40 years shareholder primacy has existed.  The gap between productivity and wages has grown in this period.  Is this about to change?  PayPal is now handing out stock to everyday employees.  One company, GE, started the trend of shareholder over worker so maybe one company (PayPal) can start the trend of worker over shareholder.  Might PayPal or another company step up and stop the race to the bottom with corporate taxes?

If there is to be change that allows more American families to reach that $97,500 then it will happen if American companies can be competitive and profitable while also taking care of their workers like they did between the mid 40’s and mid 70’s.

A winding path across the woods

Political Party and Christianity Adherents

Originally Posted two years ago.

This is probably a stretch but the purpose is to just get the reader thinking about locked in political party adherence anyway.

We didn’t have political parties when Washington was President.  They gradually formed as we were trying to figure out what our fledgling country needed from Washington DC such as a central bank and national policy.  We are still arguing today about the role of central government versus states rights.  We even had a massive Civil War over the direction of America.

The conditions of Christianity’s expansion were diverse.  Communities from Jerusalem to Rome were established.  The expansion was not supported by political or economic means.  It spread rapidly even under persecution and did so without real textual or organizational controls.

Jesus was a rural itinerant preacher but the first people that called themselves Christians were urban, living in the big cities in the Roman Empire.  The growth of Christianity involved a linguistic transition from Aramaic to Greek and it involved a a cultural transition from a predominantly Jewish culture to a predominantly Greco-Roman culture, and finally, it involved a demographic transition from being a movement among Jews to an ever-increasing movement among non-Jews or Gentiles.

The thirteen original colonies that came together through compromise to form a nation were populated by adventurers from France, England, The Netherlands, and Barbados.  The latter dominating the southern colonies with strong convictions for aristocracy and slavery.  A diverse group to say the least.  All this was laid on top of a native population free from Europe’s centuries of war and imperialism.

Christianity was also diverse from the beginning because of all these transitions, shortage of written word and organization, and how rapidly it spread.  Everywhere Christianity appeared, it was something slightly different.

Today there are Christian adherents all over the world but the meaning of being Christian perhaps still differs from place to place.  For some it is all about the Crucifixion and for others the emphasis is the Resurrection and it seems like it is what one believes that is most important.

Sometimes Christians misconstrue other religious traditions because Christians believe questions like “what do we profess”, “what do we think”, “what are our convictions”, are important to other religions.  But for some religions what is most important is what they do.  They don’t ask “what do I believe”.  Instead they ask “what is it that we are doing” and “what are our practices”.

Is it that much of a stretch to compare Christianity adherents to political party adherents in that perhaps being a Republican means something different from state to state or from person to person and likewise to adherents of the democratic party?

Progressives in both Parties understand that material prosperity without spirituality leads to greed, lack of inner and outer peace, and war and that spirituality without material development leads to poverty and famine. 

What does it mean to be a Republican? Lincoln, a Republican with full agreement if not pressure from Northern Democrats, freed the slaves.  Is this the same Party that has been making it difficult to impossible for blacks to vote? 

Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act resulted in a huge migration of Southern Democrats into the Republican Party which has had a profound effect on both Parties through addition to the Republican Party and subtraction to the Democratic Party.

In 2008 the Tea Party, now called the Freedom Caucus, became part of the Republican Party.  The Freedom Caucus is very conservative and wants to balance the budget by reducing entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, Affordable Health Care Plan, etc. 

Do Republicans accurately define what it means to be a member of the Democratic Party and vice versa? Do we as Americans have enough in common that we can recognize those things instead of what we seem dead set to see negatively in the party they are not adherents of?

What does it mean to be a Republican or a Democrat?  Has it always been the same?  Has being an adherent always been in your best interest?  When might it not have been?  Why are you so stubbornly tied to one of the Parties?

Jesus had a distinctive appeal to the outcasts.  He did not address himself to the religious elite among the people, but rather to the outcasts.  “Blessed are you poor,” rather than “you rich.”  His ministry was characterized by an open-table fellowship with sinners and tax collectors, people who were outcasts among the Jewish people. 

  • Which Party’s adherents are most like Jesus? 
  • Which Party wants tax cuts for the rich? 
  • Which Party wants to cut or privatize Medicare and cut Social Security benefits to reduce deficit spending?
  • Which Party increases spending into the Military Industrial Complex that along with tax cuts creates deficit spending?
  • Which Party spent a trillion dollars on the Iraq War and paid for it with debt?
  • Would Jesus want to protect the environment and stop global warming?  Which Party more closely agrees with Jesus on the environment and global warming?
  • Evangelicals seem to want freedoms to not serve the LGBTQ community or allow them to marry or adopt.  Does that come from Leviticus and the Old Testament or from Jesus and the New Testament? 

James Mattis, a four star US marine corps general and served as Trumps Secretary of State, said that Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try.   Accept this as true or not but admit we are divided more now than we were 5 years ago.

Clouds against a blue sky

Pro-Life vs Pro-Choice

A Choice Perspective–

Seemed like a good idea to let this Post resurface.  It was originally posted well over a year ago and again several months ago due to the new Texas law concerning abortions.  Here we go again now that there is a draft paper that has been released by Chief Justice Roberts indicating the Supreme Court might overturn Roe vs Wade.  

This perspective is not intended to nudge anybody toward being pro-life or pro-choice.  At best, I hope it might make someone less of a single issue voter. 

Obviously humans can make physical bodies as can all animals but some will argue that there may be a lack of humility to say that humans also create ever lasting souls that temporarily inhabit those bodies.

For those that believe the everlasting soul or spirit is not created from the human egg and seed but instead by the Divine, might they be allowed to believe that the soul is not created upon conception?

To them the termination of a pregnancy might not be terminating a soul or spirit because they do not have the power to terminate something that is everlasting or something that has yet to inhabit a fetus.

Accepting that someone has the right to believe that is what freedom of religion is about. At the turn of the 21st Century there were  28,000,000 people in the United States that claim to be non-adherents of any religious tradition. A 2015 Gallop Pole showed that half of Americans consider themselves “pro-choice” on abortion, surpassing the 44% who identify as “pro-life.”  Today, 69% of America supports Roe vs Wade.

If a woman does not want to give birth to a fetus for health and financial reasons and is legally forced to give birth, who should pay for the cost of growing that child?  If a fetus is a person at 6 weeks pregnant, is that when the child support starts?  Is that also when you can’t deport the mother because she is carrying a US citizen?  Can a 6 week fetus be insured so that a miscarry is paid for?  

Would a person considering abortion be less frightened of the challenges of giving birth if the the Federal government invested in child care and preschool?  Investments that created a child care entitlement for most children from birth through age five and universal pre-kindergarten for three- and four-year-olds, which provided significant increases to access for families and children, improved the quality of the programs, and increased pay and support for providers?

If the mother can’t provide a safe and nourishing environment or have the means to feed and clothe the child, should she be legally forced to put the baby up for adoption or instead try to raise the child in a homeless situation?

Most of the time people have an image in their heads about a circumstance, like the circumstance of a pregnant woman. Here is an image you might not have thought about.  In 1950, the world population was about 2.5 billion.  In 2000, it was about 6 billion.  The United Nations estimates the world population will eventually level out at 11 billion people in 2150.  Large numbers of the world’s population continue to live in severe poverty.  In 1997 1.3 billion people had incomes below $1 per day.  These people, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa, East and Southeast Asia, on the Indian subcontinent, and in Haiti, lived very near the margin of subsistence.  Some of the most extreme poverty is found on the outskirts of rapidly growing cities in developing countries.  In many parts of the world, people have moved to urban areas in search of work.  Often, they must live in slums, in makeshift dwellings without sanitation or running water.  Is the intensity of your right-to-life position consistent regardless of the circumstance of the pregnant woman?

Most of us  want to make our own choices regardless of how difficult they are.  People who would be good parents would have a very difficult time deciding to abort a fetus.  It would be a traumatic decision that could haunt them for life.  They do not need others to add to that trauma.

The longer a woman is pregnant the less likely she is to abort.  Something drastically has to change for a woman who has carried a fetus into late term for her to decide to abort the fetus.  That decision is probably excruciatingly painful and personal.

Pro-Choice supports access to safe and legal abortion if for no other reason than to prevent women from seeking back ally abortions.  And yes, coat hangers were used, still are, and will be again in direct relationship to the availability of safe,sanitary, and professional clinics.

Women are different than men.  They can give birth.  They need access to effective birth control and emergency contraception, and reproductive health services.  Why would a man want to take that away from them?

Men, if you were the one that carried the fetus, would that change your opinion about life vs choice?

Are you still a single issue voter?

Black Lives Matter

California Liberal

I have moved around the country a little bit and have called California, Arizona, Oregon, New Hampshire, and Washington home.  I lived in Idaho for three months as well but never owned a home there and therefore have never called Idaho home.  Outside of California, there seems to be animosity toward California and Californians. Animosity is too weak of a word to describe what I have heard from many many people.  Some hate the whole idea of California.

Outside of work, I meet more people playing golf.  I usually join a league when I don’t know enough golfers to make a foursome that want to play about as often as I do.  I think there are many more conservatives that play golf than liberals.  It seems like that anyway.  I have to admit, politics doesn’t come up that much during a round of golf and that is usually for the best.  People have so much in common that it makes it easy for us to be with each other, laugh a little, joke a little–until politics gets in the way.

Why do conservatives have such a bad opinion of liberals?  Polls show that we agree on over 50% of the issues.  Having a low opinion of Californians ignores the fact that California has the fifth-largest economy in the world and has been the main engine for American growth for the last 50 years.  It is not sufficiently acknowledged just how immense the California economy is.

How can California be this successful if it is full of lazy low character people?  If not viewed as lazy then maybe California is viewed as having an open, experimental culture.  But it is that open, experimental culture that has long attracted entrepreneurs and it has contributed to the movie, tech and aerospace industries flourishing there.

According to Forbes, there are 724 billionaires in the United States, and California is home to 189 — roughly a quarter of the total.

California politics is dominated by the Democratic party.  It seems to be working.

Six Political Parties

None of us fit entirely in one of the two major Parties.  And yet we tend to vote straight Party tickets as if we did.  If we were to answer questions about where we stand on 20 issues we might find ourselves in one of six Parties.  That would be a good thing and maybe the only way we escape the chains that keep us from working together.  Try it here:

A podium

Leadership for a Divided Nation

Are there personal traits that someone might have that can bring us, Americans, closer?  For some stupid reason we have as a nation behaved like rivals.  Our public discourse has been coarsening and it has lowered the threshold for acting out, being rude, being unkind.  Is that who we are deep inside or are we more evolved, or are we both?  We can choose by deciding which one we feed.  If it only takes a bully pulpit for someone to expose us for who we really are, then we need to be very careful who we give the bully pulpit.

We have become gullible.  If we identify as red then we more easily believe the negative we hear and read about the blue and the positive about the red.  The blue have the same gullibility.

We have become all or nothing politically and while The United States of America is the world’s most dominant economic and military power with the best hospitals and universities, and with its cultural imprint spanning the world, led in large part by its popular culture expressed in music, movies and television, other countries are happier and healthier.

Ranking of the Top 10 Countries in the World, Best Countries Report, U.S. News & World Report based on being seen as a stable and safe society in which individuals can develop and prosper, and is open, fair and equitable:

1. Canada
2. Japan
3. Germany
4. Switzerland
5. Australia
6. United States
7. New Zealand
8. United Kingdom
9. Sweden
10. Netherlands

So, who is going to bring us together and stop the petty bickering that ignores so much that we have in common and want?  Let’s look at traits.

Republican vs democrat

This Is Not Your Dad’s Republican Party Or Your Grandfather’s Democratic Party

This Post is republished from its original publishing date one year ago and has been updated several times since.

There comes a time when we as an American people need to work together, other than in times of war, for our greater good.  We have much in common and our differences should be the spice that makes the meal great and stop being the meal.

We should not be competitors intent on winning elections.  Winning needs to be grander than that.  Winning needs to be about bringing America closer to the lofty words contained in our Declaration of Independence and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  We need to stop being selfish, tribal, divided, and seeing others as an enemy.

To accomplish grander winning we need to hit the refresh button on Congress.

  • If we could take money out of elections our elected representatives could be more independent of the power brokers.  Then, we start electing individuals and not parties.
  • If there were 18 year term limits on Senators and 12 year term limits on Representatives, power will begin to reside with a younger group that actually want to cross Party lines to move us forward.

The differences we have are manifested by liberals and conservatives. There are many progressives in both parties but conservatives and liberals are not in both Parties. Conservatives and liberals hate to compromise.  Progressives are balance seekers.  Balance is needed in almost everything we do.  Republicans generally point to three presidents they most admire–Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Reagan  and two of them, Lincoln and Roosevelt, were progressives with Reagan of Trickle Down fame, being a conservative. Nixon was another Republican President that deserves to be in this conversation even if he were mostly disliked.

Eisenhower doesn’t seem to get as much love compared to those three but he was also a progressive and warned us of the Military Industrial Complex while expanding Social Security.  Eisenhower fought isolationist policies and fully supported NATO.  He prioritized inexpensive nuclear weapons and cut military spending.  He warned about the dangers of massive military spending, particularly deficit spending.  He spent money on infrastructure and created the Interstate Highway System.  Eisenhower’s two terms saw widespread economic prosperity and achieved this with high tax rates.  His taxes on corporate taxes were two times what they were in 2017 and now greater than two times with the 2019 tax changes.

Teddy Roosevelt was known as the Trust Buster.  He was President when many were prone to nostalgically looking back upon the preindustrial era “when the average man lived more to himself.”  He challenged them to look forward, not backward–to a time when public sentiment was ready for the national government to find constructive ways to intervene in the workings of the economic order, to regulate the trust, stimulate competition, and protect small companies.

During the beginning of his Presidency there was a major coal strike that if ignored would create substantial hardships.  At the time Republicans would have taken the side of business but Roosevelt took his own path to solve the strike.  A strike that brought to focus the issues arising from gigantic trusts that were rapidly swallowing up competitors leading to corruption and increasing the concentration of wealth and the growing gap between the rich and the poor.

Roosevelt was a student of history, a voracious reader, and a historian.  He knew this strike reflected the decades long trend where owners took advantage of miners, businesses put profits above worker, and the gap between rich and poor grew.

Nixon.  This might surprise you because Nixon was so disliked by both Parties.  But military budgets decreased under Nixon despite the ongoing war in Viet-Nam.  He ended the military draft.  Unlike Republicans of today, his economic policies were not particularly friendly to business and the rich.  In 1969 he supported and signed a bill that abolished investment tax credits for business and for the rich he increased capital gains taxes and cut off loopholes by introducing a minimum tax.  He created new regulatory bureaucracies targeting business including the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency which under Nixon set strict standards on air and water pollution.  He signed into law the Equal Employment Opportunity Act to root out racial and gender discrimination and tripled the budget for civil rights enforcement.

Nixon also significantly enlarged the U.S. welfare state, making cost-of-living increases in Social Security automatic, created an entirely new benefit for disable workers, and expanding the food stamp program.  In his five and a half years in office, federal spending on social services doubled.  Nixon proposed a universal health insurance plan not unlike Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which Republicans have called socialism for the last 40 years.

Lincoln and The Party of Lincoln freed the slaves.  Is this the same Party that has been making it difficult to impossible for blacks to vote for the last 150+ years?  Lincoln was a progressive and avoided extremes, leaving those to liberals and conservatives.  His Republican Party in the 1860’s was drawing progressives from Northern Democrats and from the splintering Whig Party.  The Democratic Party as a result of their progressive members gravitating to Lincoln’s new Republican Party, became controlled by the Southern Democrats and became known as the Andrew Jackson Democrats–Your grandfather’s Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party, whose roots included Jefferson and anti-federalists, did not grow again until Franklin Roosevelt introduced the New Deal that gave a country hope during the Great Depression while the Republican Party refused to support it.  Then World War came and the nation was successfully guided to victory by Democratic Presidents, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and a 5 Star General, Eisenhower, who although became a Republican President, was recruited by both Parties to be their candidate.

The Party of Lincoln and the 1960’s Infusion of Southern Democrats

Lyndon Johnson(D) was a Texan that got Southern and Northern States, Democrats and Republicans, to pass civil rights legislation that since 1776 this country knew was eventually going to have to pass if our great American Experiment was to be real and closer to what we declared in the Declaration of Independence.

 “We foremost hold truths to be self evident, that this nation was conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Lyndon Johnson gave us Medicare, Medicaid, and Head Start and other legislation designed to help abolish poverty.  He is remembered most for his Civil Rights Act that outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.  It prohibits unequal application of voter registration requirements, and racial segregation in schools, employment, and public accommodations.

That Civil Rights Act resulted in a huge migration of Southern Democrats into the Republican Party which has had a profound effect on both Parties through addition and subtraction. Grass roots campaigning is fundamental to winning an election and the makeup of the grass roots in each Party changed.  Party Platforms also changed with the Democratic Party moving more toward the 1860 version of the Party of Lincoln and the Republican Party moving away from the 1860 Party of Lincoln.

The Party of Lincoln and the 2000’s Infusion of The Tea Bag Party Into The Republican Party

In 2008 the Tea Party, now called the Freedom Caucus, became part of the Republican Party.  The Freedom Caucus is very conservative and wants to balance the budget by reducing entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, Affordable Health Care Plan, etc. They have moved the Republican Party away from Lincoln’s and Teddy Roosevelt’s visions and toward a more pro-business stance less burdened by employee expenses and taxes.

Bernie Sanders

While the Southern Democrats that moved to the Republican Party in the mid 1960’s and the Tea Bag Party/Freedom Caucus that joined the Republican Party in the 2000’s have pushed the Party of Lincoln away from its progressive roots, Bernie Sanders has pushed the Democratic Party toward liberalism.

However, Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama were progressives and governed left of center.  The Democratic Party elected Hillary Clinton  over Bernie Sanders as their Presidential candidate in 2016.  And now, it has chosen Joe Biden over Bernie Sanders as their candidate for 2020.  This means the heart of the Democratic Party is not radical liberalism or socialism.  It is instead dominated by progressives who are generally left of center.


We need balance.  We need progressives like Teddy and Abraham and Barack.  Yes, I know, I slipped Barack in there.  But whether or not you are comfortable with a black family in the White House, it was historical and a profound outcome of Lincoln’s vision of America.

And no matter how many of us want to reject this, the Obama Administration was clean, inspirational and soul satisfying for the majority of Americans–he made the majority of Americans proud of themselves.  The world was disappointed with us due to the Iraq War and our part in the economic collapse that almost put the world in a depression just as Obama was sworn into office.  Obama Care along with the Franklin Roosevelt’s Social Security Act, Eisenhower’s expansion of Social Security, Johnson’s Medicare and Medicaid Acts, and Bush’s Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit plan have saved American’s financial lives over and over again.  All progressive measures.

And let’s remember that the Iraq War and Medicare Part D were not budgeted for and therefore they were paid with debt.  These two accomplishments are Republican accomplishments.  Obama Care was budgeted for and therefore was paid for with fees and taxes.  Republicans like to say the phrase “Tax and Spend Democrats” over and over again.  But Republicans use debt to finance big ventures.  They could comparatively be called “Debt and Spend Republicans.”  Both terms are meant to demean the other Party and not enlighten voters.

Since 1977, the three presidential administrations that have overseen the deficit increases are the three Republican ones. President Trump’s tax cut is virtually assured to make him the fourth of four. And the three administrations that have overseen deficit reductions are the three Democratic ones, including a small decline under Barack Obama. If you want to know whether a post-1976 president increased or reduced the deficit, the only thing you need to know is his party.

Republicans have now spent almost 40 years cutting taxes and expanding government programs without paying for them. The other party has raised taxes and usually been careful to pay for its new programs.  It is an inconvenient truth that Republicans will hate to swallow and probably will not.  Alternative facts are not the truth however.

There is an important distinction between being uninformed and being misinformed.  Many citizens may base their policy preferences on false, misleading, or unsubstantiated information that they believe to be true. Frequently, such misinformation is related to one’s political preferences.

Research in political science has found that it is possible to change issue opinions by directly providing relevant facts to subjects.  But most of the time news shows don’t have guests that are trusted by both Democrats and Republicans and instead have Democratic Party and Republican Party political strategists present “Alternative Information” which doesn’t change anybody’s opinion.

Six Political Parties

None of us fit entirely in one of the two major Parties.  And yet we tend to vote straight Party tickets as if we did.  If we were to answer questions about where we stand on 20 issues we might find ourselves in one of six Parties.  That would be a good thing and maybe the only way we escape the chains that keep us from working together.  Try it here:

I am not a big fan of President Biden.  I offer that to sooth the reaction I might get by saying there is no doubt in my mind that Trump would have been too despised by Republicans if he were a Democrat to ever get a one of their votes much less believe him when he said he won the 2020 election.

The Direction of America

While Americans have moved from state to state, job to job, young to old; there has been a political battle to control the direction America takes. The direction is dependent on how we incorporate into our voting these words from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address:

That government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth and shall have a new birth of freedom.

Conservatives tend to be pro-business and Liberals tend to be pro-people.  The former has accepted that wealth is accumulating in the top two percent of Americans and the latter has not and while both parties differ from issue to issue, these two core beliefs of conservatives and liberals, pro-business v pro-people, are the foundation for the lack of balance that currently exists in the Republican and Democratic parties we know today.

Progressives in both Parties understand that being pro-business does not mean people support greed and being pro-people does not mean people do not want businesses to be very successful.

Does being pro-business mean someone is materialistic and does being pro-people mean someone is more spiritual?  No!  But if it did we would again need balance.  Balance that progressives bring.

Progressives in both Parties understand that material prosperity without spirituality leads to greed, lack of inner and outer peace, and war and that spirituality without material development leads to poverty and famine.  Progressives are to the right of Socialism and to the left of Capitalism.  Capitalism without spiritualism and Socialism without materialism produces a system that is not in balance.

Voting a straight Party ticket without regard to whether a candidate is too far left or too far right can lead to a nation that is out of balance.

The Statue of Liberty

Make America Great

Every man is wanted, and no man is wanted much.

Every hero becomes a bore at last.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Make America Great Again” begs the question as to when we were  great.  I’ll take the mystery out of where that time might have been right now–1955 – 1965.  What might we need to do to make now as good and better than we were between 1955 and 1965?

In our early years we were more about potential and hope than we were about being great.  I don’t think we want to go back to the slavery years or the Civil War era. The 1910’s included World War I.  The 20’s had gangsters and prohibition; and 30’s included the Great Depression, the 40’s included World War II and the early 50’s included the Korean War.

I will give reasons why we might exclude the years after 1965 as our greatest as we go along.  Whatever past decade we pick, remember, nostalgia for the good old days plays out best for old white men. 

Prior to the 50’s, Social Security didn’t exist and prior to the 60’s Medicare and Medicaid didn’t exist. Those three safety net programs made huge differences in the lives of millions of people.  The early 60’s  saw employees receive more generous health insurance plans and pensions.  In 1939 barely 5% of Americans were covered by insurance for hospitalization, but by mid-1950’s it was 60%.  Over the same brief period, the fraction of American workers set to get fixed pensions from their companies went from just 7% to 25%, on its way to a majority by the 1970’s.  Employers now mostly offer 401K programs instead of pensions. 

Many people yearn for the late 70’s and the 80’s.  Low taxes on the rich, unregulated businesses, weak unions, and a weak federal government championed by President Reagan but it didn’t create the utopia “Make America Great Again” hat wearers might remember.  Those decades resulted in big business calling the shots and controlling the economy at the expense of the middle class. 

In 1965 the CEO’s of the largest U.S. corporations were paid 20 times as much as their average employees.  Today, they are paid 204 times as much as their average employees. In 1965, Americans would have thought anything greater than 20 times would have been unacceptably unfair.  The wealth gap between Americans has grown exponentially since the 50’s and 60’s. 

Our national debt has grown since 1965 and the conservative element of the Republican Party wants to reduce entitlements to balance the budget and the national debt meaning reduce Social Security and other safety net programs. They still want to spend on the military though.

Republicans dominated our government between our Civil War and the Great Depression.  Outside of Teddy Roosevelt, they have fully supported business over workers.  A word of caution to conservatives if they continue to reject programs that support the middle and lower middle class—Republicans enjoyed large majorities in both the House and Senate in 1929 before the crash.  Six years later, after Republicans fought against Roosevelt’s New Deal that would raise America’s spirits and address unemployment and long bread lines, Democrats took control of the Senate by 75 to 17 and the House by 333 to 89.

America, between 1955 and 1965, was progressive and led by Republican President Eisenhower and Democratic Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Our interstate highways were being built and more citizens were getting access to the some of the privileges stated in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and our Declaration of Independence. Was Lincoln wrong?  Was Thomas Jefferson wrong?

Biden’s infrastructure plan and its funding sources would seem to get us back to the 50’s and 60’s in regard to everybody sharing the fruits of America more equally.  The No. 1 reason taxes on the very wealthy have declined is due to the fall in corporate taxes.  In the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, (when America was great?) many corporations paid about half of their profits to the federal government. The money helped pay for the U.S. military and for investments in roads, bridges, schools, scientific research and more.

Fifty-five big companies paid zero federal income taxes last year according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy and the U.S. raises less corporate tax revenue as a share of economic output than almost all other advanced economies.

The justification for the tax cuts has often been that the economy as a whole  will benefit and that lower corporate taxes would lead to expansion, jobs, and higher incomes. Instead, economic growth has been mediocre since the 1970s. And incomes have grown more slowly than the economy for every group except the wealthy.  The long-term decline in corporate taxes doesn’t seem to have provided much of a benefit for most American families.

If all of Biden’s proposed tax increases passed — on the corporate tax, as well as on investment taxes and income taxes for top earners — the total federal tax rate on the wealthy would remain significantly lower than it was in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. It would also remain somewhat lower than during the mid-1990s.

In the decades just after World War II, many corporations paid about half of their profits in federal taxes. (Shareholders, who are disproportionately affluent, effectively pay those taxes). Today, corporate taxes are only about one-fourth as large, as a share of G.D.P., as they were in the 1950s and ’60s.

In the 1990s, the last time tax rates were as high as the ones Biden has proposed, the economy boomed. It also grew rapidly after World War II, when tax rates were higher yet.

Let’s take a look at the Republican and the Democratic Party proposals for infrastructure and think about which one better reflects the America of the 50’s and 60’s–a time when America was great.

The Republicans want to use fees to pay for their  infrastructure proposal. Again, they want the middle and lower middle class to pay for it and not the wealthy or corporate America–as I have said, they are pro-business, just like they were during the depression.  Their plan would mostly benefit corporate America’s ability to deliver their products.  It is heavy on highway funding, allocating $299 billion for roads and bridges, or more than half of the overall figure. On the transportation side, it also includes $61 billion for transit, $20 billion for rail, $44 billion for airports, $17 billion for water ports and $13 billion for safety agencies including the DOT bodies that oversee highways, trucking and pipelines. Non-transportation line items include $65 billion for broadband, $35 billion for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure and $14 billion for water storage.

President Biden’s infrastructure plan also includes a social infrastructure element that includes among other things free preschool and community college, more Pell Grants, scholarships for future teachers, caps on childcare expenses, training and pay for childcare workers, guaranteed family and medical leave, enhanced unemployment benefits, and tax breaks for lower- and middle-income families.

Does that remind you of the mid-50’s 60’s when America was the envy of the world with its safety net programs, health insurance expansion, and corporate paying/leading the way?

To pay for Biden’s $1.8 trillion package, Biden wants to raise taxes on upper-income Americans.  His proposal to increase the top income tax rate from 37% to 39.6% reportedly would only apply to single filers with taxable income over $452,700 and married couples with taxable income over $509,300. If the highest capital gains tax rate goes from 20% to 39.6%, it would only impact people earning $1 million or more. The plan to eliminate the step up in basis for inherited property would only apply to gains of at least $1 million.

Republicans like to label Democrats as tax and spenders but they are also spenders.  The Iraq war, Desert Storm, Medicare Part D are examples of Republican spending that was not paid for with taxes and instead it was paid for with debt. 

The Department of Defense otherwise known as The Military is a government agency funded with taxes.  Republicans shouldn’t be labeled small government when they are eager to support a military budget where the United States spends more on national defense than the next ten countries (China, India, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, and Brazil) combined. Eight of those ten are allies.

Rethinking infrastructure might be akin to rethinking the military.  In 2016, the Coalition for Fiscal and National Security, a group of former senior government officials led by Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a call to action on the national debt. The coalition wrote:  “Today, to be pro-defense must mean being pro-reform. America’s national security budget requires updating and re-balancing in order to sustain our strong military posture and global leadership role.”

I have written about group think and explored the question “Can People Really Change” here  In study after study, social psychologists have shown that it is the group with which we identify, not individual personality that often determines behavior.  We begin to see what the group sees and stop seeing some of the things that we were seeing.

If we hate  Conservatives or we hate Liberals it is because of group think.  Stop being a groupie and start being an independent thinker.

And I have written about ethical leadership here where among other things I explored value statements from two major businesses.  One was an ego driven company focused on advancing profits and the second was a value driven company that stayed true to advancing technology.  In the 1970’s, according to Jim Collins in his bestselling book Good To Great, Texas Instruments decided to make cheap pocket calculators and throwaway watches because their vision had to do with increasing gross revenue.  Hewlett Packard in comparison didn’t include increasing gross revenue as their vision and chose not to go after low-end technology because it offered no chance to make a technical contribution to the world.  Hewlett Packard’s value statement made their profits roar while the business chasing gross revenue was not nearly as successful.  Moral of story–don’t be a bull in a china closet.

And I have written about our mental gatekeeper here  A part of our mind protects the status quo of our beliefs. Let’s call it the gatekeeper.  Our gatekeeper checks to see if a concept is in agreement with our existing beliefs. If it is, the gate is opened, if it isn’t, the gate stays closed and information is rejected.  Some of my readers might remember from that Post the lesson about a ring–If we were to grasp a ring as a symbol of possession and squeeze it in our hand, the ring is captured and so is the use of our hand. Imagine holding this ring out in front of you with your palm either up or down…

Are you holding on to grudges stemming from 2020 election with a clinched fist?

And I have written about the history of political parties here  Party’s have evolved and Party platforms have switched from Party to Party during the last 200 years and people have moved from Party to Party.  Parties are eventually changed by their membership / adherents.  Sometimes it is addition by subtraction and sometimes it is subtraction by addition. 

The split of the Democratic Party that created two Parties from one during the first election of Abraham Lincoln resulted in a Northern Democratic Party candidate and a separate Southern Democratic Party candidate.  More recently there was a major shift of Southern Democrats to the Republican Party after President Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

I was talking with a history teacher who was saying why he was not a Democrat.  Funny thing is that what he disliked was no longer part of their platform and is now part of the Republican platform.  Things change, we need to keep up.

And I have written about America’s favorability rating trend here  In 2020, after four years of the Trump administration, the favorable impression of the United States was as follows:

  • 26 percent of Germans,
  • 30 percent of the Dutch,
  • 31 percent of the French,
  • 33 percent of Australians and Swedes,
  • 35 percent of Canadians, and
  • 41 percent of the Japanese and British

Here are other stats of interest from that Post.

  • 60% of Republicans now support NATO.
  • 85% of Democrats now support NATO
  • 21% of Republicans now view climate change as a threat.
  • 75% of Democrats now view climate change as a threat.
  • 40% of Republicans are now concerned about Russian power.
  • 57% of Democrats are now concerned about Russian power.
  • 61% of Republicans now are concerned by large numbers of immigrants and refugees coming into the U.S.
  • 13% of Democrats now are concerned by large numbers of immigrants and refugees coming into the U.S.

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People sitting in a circle while holding hands


The next several paragraphs were inspired by articles from Sharon Begley’s Science Journal that appeared weekly in WSJ years ago.

We apparently are changed by the groups we are in. By the way, Republican and Democratic Parties are groups.  Change groups or leave a group and we change.

In study after study, social psychologists have shown that it is the group with which we identify, not individual personality that often determines behavior.  We begin to see what the group sees and stop seeing some of the things that we were seeing.

But, and this is a big but, pull us out of a group and we will have more nuance, flexibility, and doubt.  We are not so sure anymore as individuals outside of our group, whereas in a group we are convinced of what we are saying and doing.  The group we join is very important.  That group could be friends, it could be our employer, it could be our church, or it could be the virtual prison more and more of us seem to be finding ourselves in.  In either case, it doesn’t change with age—young or old, we are influenced by our group.

Psychology experiments show how disturbingly easy it is to manipulate people into committing atrocities.  Groups inculcate a sense of belonging and hence obligation to a group.

So, if we want to change, we can join a group, but we better fit in.  Do we like the people we work with and for?  Has our spouse ever said to us that we seem different, that we have changed, and that there is an aspect of us they don’t like that they didn’t realize was there?  Maybe, our jobs are changing us.  Which way?  Look for the formal and informal leaders and see if others are mimicking them.  Are we becoming more assertive or bossier?  Are we becoming more tolerant or judgmental?   Are we becoming more patient and calm or more restless and rude?  Are we becoming conforming or less conforming?  Do we see more of the big picture or just our own perspective?  Are we becoming more humble or is ego sprouting its wings.

Businesses have sent employees to seminars and workshops and schools in an effort to help them become better employees.  Businesses, in hopes of salvaging employees, send them to anger management or harassment counseling hoping these people can change.  Supervisors are sent to supervision school and people skills schools.  People read self help books and get counseling hoping to be better parents or deal with life situations.

Attending a conference can inspire someone to want to act differently and they might for a little while but their habits and instincts will prevail again.  Using the conscious mind to try to create permanent change is a slow process and rewards are needed to reinforce the new behavior.  Can we really expect to have those rewards as they are needed?

I think the best place to begin the process of change is through nutrition.  If we don’t have the discipline to eat smarter why would we have it to change our habits. Eating healthy or healthier not only improves mental and physical energy it demonstrates a willingness to do what we know is best for us.  It is easy to pick up a book and learn what foods are healthy and which are not, but do we and do we change what we eat as a result of what we learn?  I am not talking about fad diets; I am talking about eating good foods and stop eating bad foods.  If we can’t change the way we eat, can we expect to change the way we think and behave?

Let’s think about brain food because our brain uses 40 percent of our energy and for our brain to grow and improve, our nutrition has to improve.  The brain is largely composed of fatty tissue.  The fats we eat are the fats that will become important structures in our brain.  They are not broken down and reassembled for specific uses like proteins and carbohydrates are.  The quality of the fats in our diet will directly affect the quality of the cell membranes in the brain.

There are two essential fats our bodies require but cannot manufacture; they must be obtained through our diets.  These fats are called omega-6 and omega-3.  Most of our tissues have more omega-6 fats than omega-3.  The ratio is often about four-to-one, the brain being a distinct exception where the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in brain tissue is one-to-one.

The average American diet provides twenty times more omega-6 than omega-3 fats.  Most of us do not take in an optimal amount of omega-3 fats unless we eat fish regularly.  Omega-3 fats are quite flexible and are ideally suited for brain cell membranes.

The fats to avoid are the highly processed fats, hydrogenated fats, and fats that are heated to high temperatures in processing or in frying.  These fats have a structural rigidity that is most undesirable for use in brain cell membranes.  They also promote free radical damage of cell membranes.

Alright, enough about diet.  Permanent change will come about when we release what is in our subconscious minds, feed our brains with better thoughts and more peaceful music and movies, and starve our brains from coarse or violent acts and thoughts.  Our brains can change.

Here is a brainteaser:  Turn the incorrect Roman-numeral equation XI + I = X, made out of 10 match sticks, into a correct one by moving as few sticks as possible.

Solving a problem like the one above creatively requires us to resist conventional assumptions and approaches and examine a problem from a different perspective.  The plod and plug approach would have us move one of the sticks to get X + I = XI.  But the minimum number of sticks we need to move is zero.  Turn the paper upside down and XI + I = X becomes X = I + IX.

The brain waves generated by the two approaches are different.  In volunteers who found the creative zero stick solution there was an abrupt change in brain wave frequency and location of brain activity before the solution hit them.  The fact that they changed right before the volunteers hit upon a creative solution suggests that the brain was escaping from conventional thought patterns.

Insight and creativity begin when we break out of the thinking rut we are in and restructure the problem in a new way.  The information in the problem is seen in a new light, so people rotate the sticks in the Roman numeral equation—a spatial solution to what seemed like a numerical problem.  This is the essence of creative thinking.

A critical part of insightful solutions, but not of plodding ones, is that they require us to bring together distant associations.  One brain region seems particularly important for that.  This area seems to draw together distantly related information and probably lets people see connections that had eluded them.

Find a word that can form a compound with “sauce,” “pine,” and “crab.”  You can try to solve this noncreatively, thinking of everything that goes with crab and then trying them all on the pine, for instance.  Or you might find a solution through pure insight.  Stare at the words until an answer pops into your head.

If “apple” popped into your head there probably was a spike in the activity in a particular part of your brain just before the answer “apple” came to you, suggesting your brain was bringing together far-flung concepts.

In some cases of sudden insight another part of the brain becomes active perhaps directing the brain away from dead ends and onto creative paths and at the same time perhaps is involved in suppressing thoughts that characterize the mental rut that keeps us from an insightful solution.

There are times that our brains go into calm mode all by themselves and answers just pop into our heads.  We may be in the morning shower still waking up and just going through the motions of washing ourselves, enjoying the warm water and all of a sudden new ideas come to us out of nowhere.  We can develop more of these times and we can expect to solve difficult problems during these times.  The more we expect answers to come to us the more will come.  So, we need to let our conscious minds work hard at figuring out a problem or finding an answer, the harder we work our conscious minds the better, and then let it go and expect an answer to come to us perhaps when we least expect it.

Our brain will change to help us become what we choose to be.  If we choose to be violent, our brain will respond by changing in ways that make us more violent and coarse.  If we choose a life of compassion and kindness, our brains will respond by helping us manifest those qualities.  This is easier said than done because it is hard to act as we choose if we are already excessively wired to act otherwise.

One more thought:  The Truth Shall Set You Free!


A person standing on a rock while watching the sun

Ethical Leadership

Leaders have to view others at the soul level.  They must develop soul ethics.  Management style, charisma, personal integrity and business acumen are not enough.  Soul Ethics provides the moral courage to avoid temptations found in competitive environments.

We begin to purify the motives behind our decisions when we become fully aware of who we really are and what we are here to do.  Mark Twain has said that “a man can not be comfortable without his own approval.”

When we have developed Soul Ethics:

We no longer need to rely on interpretations of sacred text or sources of revelation to tell us what to do.  Our actions stop being influenced by sacred texts whose spirit has too often been lost to strict interpretation.

We no longer let feelings of guilt affect our decisions as love becomes our guiding emotion.  When guilt affects our decisions we let survival fears override that guilt and we make decisions based on fear instead of love.  Fear and love are our two basic emotions.  Fear contains many sub-emotions and because those emotions are stronger in some and weaker in others, our consciousnesses are different and thus so would be our ethics guidance.

We no longer merely look out only for ourselves and instead we seek what is best for our clients, friends, and family.  Looking out for ourselves first is truly a buyer-be-aware mentality.  This would be the opposite of win-win decisions and would lead to win-lose outcomes. I guess some would mistakenly try to justify me-first decisions by thinking they had an ethical obligation to stockholders to maximize profits from every transaction.

We no longer do things just because it is our duty.  We do our jobs and we take care of our family because we love to serve and we serve with love.

We no longer try to enforce our rules of respect onto other cultures as we now respect ourselves and have learned to respect other cultures.  What counts as respect can vary from one culture to another.

We are aware that all of us are created with certain inalienable Rights.  This is the most influential moral notion of the past two centuries and refers to minimal conditions of human decency.

We want to make the world a better place and demand a high degree of self sacrifice where we consider the consequences for everyone including reducing suffering and increasing pleasure or happiness.

We continue to develop our individual character and individual character in others.  We understand that good persons will make good decisions—a concept first developed by Plato and Aristotle and an integral part of Jesuit tradition.

We become virtuous in that we work with interest and desire to help others, have creative spiritual ambition, calmness, courage, an unconquerable attitude, tolerance, patience, and peace.  We no longer have doubt, mental fatigue, worry, indifference, boredom, fear, restlessness, timidity, mental and physical laziness, overindulge in anything, an unmethodical life, lack of interest, or lack of creative initiative.

We usually go about our day doing things out of habit without thinking about ethics.  This is how it should be once our habits become ethical.  Most of us have not taken the time to create a set of personal values.  And if they loosely exist unwritten in our minds we haven’t given them much thought and they can become distorted when we have to make difficult decisions.  Creating and writing my personal values is what led to this book.

We make decisions all the time.  Most of these decisions do not seem to directly affect our lives or the lives of others.  But when we need to make bigger decisions that will affect our lives or the lives of others, we need to be very familiar with our values.

If we develop our values in moments when we are at peace and unburdened with eminent decisions and problems, our values will be more pure than if they were developed when we were under pressure to make a difficult decision, especially a financial one.  We can be guided in ethical ways if we refer to those more purely developed and written values before we make decisions.

I would imagine that if 100 people were to give long thought on their values and then write them down, those written lists could be quite different.  What would make them different is our soul ethics, our soul consciousness, our desire to serve versus being served, our desire for win-win outcomes versus win-lose outcomes or even we-both-win-but-I-win-more outcomes.

To bring this back to a business example look at the difference between the thinking of two technology companies.  The ego driven company strayed to advancing profits and the soul driven company stayed true to advancing technology.  In the 1970’s, according to Jim Collins in his best selling book Good To Great, Texas Instruments decided to make cheap pocket calculators and throwaway watches because their vision had to do with increasing gross revenue.  Hewlett Packard in comparison didn’t include increasing gross revenue as their vision and instead chose not to go after low-end technology because it offered no chance to make a technical contribution to the world.

The concept of service should be defined as providing whatever is in our friends’ or clients’ or customers’ best interest.  If we do not have the product that is in someone’s best interest we should not offer or sell that product to them.  While this decision could hurt us financially in the short run, it will guide us to where we need to be.  Where we need to be is a place where we can provide what is in our friends’ or client’s or customers’ best interest.  Albert Einstein said, “Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”   I think this is powerful.  Accomplish it and you become the flame instead of the moth.

Dr. Wayne Dyer, in his book, The Power of Intention, tells us that it is hard to feel worthy if we are always looking out for number one.  If we do not feel worthy then without realizing it we feel unworthy of being healthy or wealthy or having loving relationships and we create an obstacle that will inhibit the flow of creative higher frequency energy into our daily life.

When we are without this flow, we tend to eat too much of the wrong things, or use prescription drugs we do not need or drink too much alcohol, or we dress down, or walk or sit with poor posture, or we fail to exercise, or we treat others with a lack or respect, or make judgments we should not be making, and the list goes on and on.  What we might not realize is that poor posture and disrespecting others, etc. leads to feelings of unworthiness.

We are like magnets that attract or repel positive or negative energy. Generally, people will come to us not because of what we do, but because of who we are.  What inspires a customer to be a repeat customer or a new acquaintance to become a friend is our presence and the connection they feel with us.    People we admire should be comfortable in our presence and we in theirs.

To do this we must continue to refine our expression—our thoughts, words and actions—to more accurately reveal the truth of who we are at our core, our true nature, then our work will deepen, our business will thrive, and our life will know greater peace and we will find fulfillment.  “One can have no greater mastery than mastery of oneself”—Leonardo da Vinci.

Clarence C. Walton, in his The Moral Manager, says that personal character is one of the keys to higher ethical standards in business.  “People of integrity produce organizations with integrity.  When they do, they become moral managers—those special people who make organizations and societies better.”

One of the most important factors in the functioning of society around the world is the art of leadership.  It is an art for true leadership is a gift, requiring great foresight, great determination, honesty, integrity and trust, the ability to not only be able to work with people successfully but to inspire them, to set goals and a vision for a society to thrive.

We have had many leaders in history that have been very charismatic, very talented and very successful and we have had many who were successful that didn’t have any charisma but were good builders.

To be a leader one needs the ability to organize, to delegate authority and to have massive energy for a leader has great responsibilities.  These responsibilities can cover such a large area that a leader must be able to endure a huge burden to carry and enjoy it, be inspired by it.  The greatest leaders have great spirituality, great foresight and only want to bring good and dedicate themselves to the prosperity, health, and welfare for all.

There have been major dynamic leaders in the world who have used their charisma for negative activities, succumbing to the feel of power and greed.  There have been leaders in the fields of science, art, music, military, economics, welfare, etc. who have contributed greatly to mankind or have left an indelible impression on massive numbers of people.

There have been great leaders in history who truly believed in what they were working for but were very spiritually wrong.  Their intent was good in their minds, necessary, seemed greatly important and they followed their path.  Some have been truly righteous, while others were in error spiritually.

Leadership is a quality that can take lifetimes to develop.  For some, leadership will add to their spirituality and for some that get caught up in power and ego; it will take away from their spirituality–a recurring theme in this book.

Leadership is a dangerous position spiritually for one may not be able to handle the power.  Many can, many can’t.  When leadership falls into corruption, the soul backtracks spiritually, loses ground.  When leadership aspires to high values and operates accordingly, one gains spiritually.

Leaders always face those who aspire to take their place, work against them, threaten them and sometimes eliminate them.  But without leadership and daring we would have no organization or progress.

Steven R. Covey, best known for his best seller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, marks the way for us to return to fundamental values, the wisdom of solid relationships, and the importance of communicating in improving our business.  Covey tells us that no matter how many people we manage or supervise we can only control ourselves.  If we want to change any situation, we have to behave differently.  But before we can change our behavior, we must change our perceptions.

Einstein agrees:  “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”

We do need new perspectives.  We say we have free will, but which might be stronger, instincts and habits, or our free will to do what is best.  Where do we get our perceptions as to what is best?  Where does procrastination, selfishness, greed, jealousy, self-interest, anger, temper, bigotry, come from– Habits and instincts or free will?

Here is a moral and ethical dilemma for you to ponder that I received in an email that was being passed around.  Let’s say you are driving along in your car on a wild, stormy night, when you pass by a bus stop, and you see three people waiting for the bus:

  1. An old lady who looks as if she is about to die.
  2. An old friend who once saved your life.
  3. The perfect partner you have been dreaming about.

Which one would you choose to offer a ride, knowing that there could only be one passenger in your car?

Think before you continue reading.

This is a moral/ethical dilemma that was once actually used as part of a job application. You could pick up the old lady, because she is going to die, and thus you should save her first; or, you could take the old friend because he once saved your life, and this would be the perfect chance to pay him back. However, you may never be able to find your perfect mate again.

The candidate who was hired (out of 200 applicants) had no trouble coming up with his answer. He simply answered:  “I would give the car keys to my old friend and let him take the lady to the hospital.  I would stay behind and wait for the bus with the partner of my dreams.”

Sometimes, we gain more if we are able to give up our stubborn thought limitations.

Our personal values, character, and spirituality exert a powerful influence on the way ethical work issues are treated.  Since all of us have different personal histories and have developed our values, character, and spirituality in different ways, we are going to think differently about ethical problems.   All of us, as well as our managers and leaders, are likely to be at various stages of moral development.  Some of us will reason at a high level, others of us at a lower level.

Every once in a while I am surprised by the maturity of a child’s expression for it will be way ahead of their years and more advanced than some adults display.  But usually it is over time that we become more developed and are capable of more advanced moral reasoning.

When we are very young we want to avoid punishment.  We either learn to obey authority or we learn to cope with trouble or we learn that authority is willing to cope with our misbehaving.  Later we learn that cooperating pays more than does strict obeying.  Someone once told me that they could not remember a time when they got in trouble if their answer to a request was no, but their yes answer usually opened the door to second guessing.  I wasn’t impressed then and I still am not impressed with that comment.  Just the same there are many people like him that make decisions based solely on what they perceive our societies’ customs, traditions, and laws to be.  A major portion of the world’s population has not evolved their reasoning beyond this point.  The groups these people hang out with whether it is friends, family, work, or clubs greatly influence their thinking and reasoning.

Our best leaders reason globally and as stated earlier care about relationships, human rights, human dignity, equal treatment, freedom of expression, and as Lincoln included in his Gettysburg Address, mans’ inalienable rights.

Jim Collins, author of Built to Last and Good to Great, tells us there are two categories of people:  The first are those who could never bring themselves to subjugate their egoistic needs to the greater ambition of building something larger and more lasting than themselves.  Work will always be about what they get i.e. fame, fortune, power and not what they build.  The second are those who have the potential to rise to become great leaders/supervisors.  Jim Collins tells us the great leaders, the most successful leaders, all share certain personal traits.

  • They have personal humility.
  • They demonstrate a compelling modesty, shunning public adulation and are never boastful.
  • They act with quiet, calm determination, relying principally on inspired standards, not inspiring charisma, to motivate.
  • They let the company be ambitious not themselves.  They set up their successors for even greater success instead of doing anything that would make themselves missed.
  • When talking about success they will look out the window and talk about luck, external factors, and apportion credit to others and not look in the mirror.  When talking about problems they look in the mirror and take responsibility.
  • These great leaders were described as spiritual people.

We can live a spiritual life 24/7.  We shouldn’t look for time to have a spiritual moment, we should just be spiritual all the time and in everything we do, say, or think whether it be a business situation or a personal situation.  We look for win-win outcomes or we pass on the opportunity. We look at every situation as if it were involving a close friend, which includes when someone is honking their horn at us or cutting us off on a busy highway, or driving too slowly.

If we were to picture those antagonists as close friends our anger would drop and we would then be able to recognize them as ourselves on other occasions when we were being the antagonist and we just might laugh instead of matching our vibrations to the vibrations of a person temporarily being an idiot.  Or we can try to get the best of someone or be rude to someone or sell more regardless of it being the right product for the right customer or we can just let the customer-be-aware or we can horde or we can brag or any other activity that is not spiritual.

Maslow picked out a group of people whom he felt clearly met the standard of what he called self-actualized.  Included in this group were Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jane Adams, William James, Albert Schweitzer, Benedict Spinoza, and Alduous Huxley, plus 12 unnamed people who were alive at the time Maslow did his research. He developed a list of qualities that seemed characteristic of these people.

These people could differentiate what is fake and dishonest from what is real and genuine.  They treated life’s difficulties as problems demanding solutions, not as personal troubles to be railed at or surrendered to.  And they felt that the ends don’t necessarily justify the means–the journey was often more important than the destination.

Maslow’s self-actualizers enjoyed solitude, were comfortable being alone, enjoyed deeper personal relations with a few close friends and family members, rather than more shallow relationships with many people.

They enjoyed autonomy and were not susceptible to social pressure to be well adjusted or to fit in.  They preferred to joke at their own expense or at the human condition instead of directing their humor at others.  They had a quality he called acceptance of self and others.   This same acceptance applied to their attitudes towards themselves.

They enjoyed their personal quirks if they were not harmful and they were motivated to change negative qualities in themselves that could be changed. They preferred being themselves rather than being pretentious or artificial.  They had a sense of humility and respect towards others, were open to ethnic and individual variety, even treasuring it.

They had a quality Maslow called human kinship accompanied by strong ethics, which was spiritual but seldom conventionally religious in nature.  They tended to see ordinary things with wonder and from this were creative, inventive, and original.  And, finally, these people tended to have more experiences that made them feel very tiny, or very large, to some extent one with life or nature or God.

These people were not this way all the time so they still had some work to do at their soul level.  For example, while they were not neurotic, some did experience anxiety and guilt and some were absentminded and overly kind and some experienced unexpected moments of ruthlessness, surgical coldness, and loss of humor.

Maslow made another point about these self-actualizers that I consider very major and in fact are at the heart of this book:  Their values were natural and seemed to flow effortlessly from their personalities.  Maslow also defined self-actualizers by identifying their needs in order to be happy.  Here is his list.

  1. Truth,
  2. Goodness
  3. Beauty
  4. Unity
  5. Aliveness
  6. Uniqueness
  7. Perfection and necessity
  8. Completion
  9. Justice and order
  10. Simplicity.
  11. Richness
  12. Effortlessness
  13. Playfulness
  14. Self-sufficiency
  15. Meaningfulness

Maslow believes that much of the what is wrong with the world comes down to the fact that very few people really are interested in these values — not because they are bad people, but because they haven’t even had their basic needs taken care of and, when forced to live without these values, the self-actualizer develops depression, despair, disgust, alienation, and a degree of cynicism.

To be a great leader in any field we must do self-study meaning looking closely at our perceptions, our way of interpreting.  We need to center ourselves on values and principals, work on our character growth, and examine our habits carefully.  We cannot let old habits and instincts rule our actions and thoughts.  We have had a lifetime of conditioning from our parents and friends and associates, from our situations and circumstances and these can train us to see things from only one angle.

We need to see things from other angles, other perceptions, from the big picture, and from the end and less from the middle of the battle.  It will give us a much broader picture and understanding and help monitor our thoughts and actions.  We need to carefully listen to others and show them we understand what they are saying, feeling.  Most people do not listen to understand but listen while thinking about reply.  This is keeping ourselves stuck in seeing things from only one angle and limits our picture of the whole.

We need to let people know we have heard them, have understood and appreciated what they have offered.  People need to know they have been heard and understood.  We need to truly hear, absorb and process information coming to us and not just automatically advise or decide basing our decisions on our own experience or our own motives and behavior.  We need good, open, constructive communication from other perspectives and interpretations for they are important in order to not only get out of ourselves but to see a bigger picture.

We need to hear all sides before judging.  Great leadership involves having an end in mind, a goal to accomplish in mind.  Then the process of achieving this goal needs to broaden greatly, allowing all kinds of information to come in and be processed.  Cooperation, integrity, high values, allowing new insights to enter our mind, a spiritual outlook, calmness, and courage, patience and tolerance are characteristics of great leadership.

We need to take a careful look at our governments and leaders.  To be in the government of a country, making policy, tending to issues, aiding people, protecting country, involves a tremendous amount of responsibility.  Once in office as President, King, prime Minister, Senator, Congressman, Governor, the person is obligated to work for the people with truth, justice, and honesty.

Too often we see leaders get into office barely committing themselves to anything other than themselves.  Then once in office they play the game of politics, being very careful over what they say in order to stay in office.  Then in the office they have to deal with all the interests that helped them get into office, the lobbyists and the senior members (senior power craving egos) of House and Senate, Parliament, military, etc.  Everyone wants a piece of the cake and there is a lot of give and take and bargaining.  Too often policies that would really help the people are lost or forgotten or diluted.

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