Big thinking

The Question

Reading time – 1:56; Viewing time – 3:48  .  .  .

amer-united-1-10-17

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I’ve been in dialogue with a small group of smart people, many of whom read and contribute to this series. They have offered great clarity and insight and have pushed me to refine what I now see as the key question of our time. The question I pose is in service of something much larger and which requires naming in order for the question to make full sense. It is about our acute political polarization and how we can bring people together so that we have the muscle to demand the change – the democracy – our country needs.

Over most of the decades of my adult life I have seen what looks to me to be an incremental loss of democracy in America, with the people losing power and an elite few gaining it. Most Americans are centrists, but most of our elected officials are either partisan zealots or they cower before the zealots, resulting in governmental outcomes we the people don’t want and helping to polarize our citizenry. For example, 80% of Americans want universal background checks on sales of firearms and a ban on assault weapons, but the legislative extremists and the powerful, well funded lobbying groups ensure that there is never even a vote on the issue. There are many other examples of how we the people (as in democracy = “rule by the people”) are not getting what we want, all of which is to say that democracy has been sorely compromised.

What requires naming for The Question to make full sense is that we must save our democracy. Perhaps you prefer “restore” our democracy. Either way, just stopping the thieves is insufficient.

So, my question is:

How can we politically polarized Americans find a way to talk with one another, not scream past one another, and come together in the common cause of democracy?

Just asking the question unmasks me as the 60s idealist I remain, but I believe that it is the question we must answer in order to change our course. I went out on a limb with my article ringing the alarm of fascism staring us in the face and I expect substantial push-back. So, too, did those ringing the alarm in Mussolini’s Italy, in Hitler’s Germany, in Stalin’s Russia and in Pol Pot’s Cambodia (yes, I know those last two were communists – the same democracy robbing principles hold) and many other places where authoritarians ruled. The danger usually isn’t obvious when change is made incrementally, but now you need only look at the cabinet and advisor picks of our President Elect, match that with his extremist promises, flagrant lies, pathological need to be powerful, his thin skin and cruelty, his obvious contempt for our laws and the Constitution and you should be able to see the fascist freight train at the other end of the tunnel barreling down on us.

It is possible that you don’t and won’t share my view of the dire future we face if we sit back and let others make our decisions for us. That’s okay, because you likely share my view that we have lost key elements of democracy and that we have to re-secure them or we will lose all.

Abraham Lincoln said it best: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” We must stand together – righties, centrists and lefties –  if we are to restore our democracy.

So, back to my question:

How can we politically polarized Americans find a way to talk with one another, not scream past one another, and come together in the common cause of democracy?

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Danger – There’s Bad Stuff Coming

New York Times, April 9, 1944

New York Times, April 9, 1944. Click the graphic to download the full article as it appeared.

Reading time – 2:55; Viewing time – 5:35  .  .  .

We need a good and optimistic start for the new year. That message is for next week. Let’s first establish in a blinding flash of the obvious and in a compelling way why we need that good and optimistic start.

You don’t need a pundit, a pol or a blogger to tell you that American institutions are at risk and look shaky. There is bad stuff staring us in the face in so many venues and there is a chance you’ve wondered how bad it can get. The answer is, very bad. Here are some examples.

Under the ultra-thin, see-through veil of ensuring decorum, Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House and beloved Republican brainiac, the proposer of changes to Medicare and Social Security that he says don’t privatize those programs, except they really do, has proposed banning live streaming and photos from the floor of the House. This comes as a knee-jerk reaction to Republicans having been sucker punched by Democrats who demanded an up or down vote on universal registration of sales of firearms. Ryan ignored them and they responded witih a sit-in. Ryan tried to quash the event by closing the House session, which turned off the CSPAN cameras, but smart phone live streaming foiled his attempt at abridging free speech. Now Ryan and Republican hissy-fitters want to further restrict speech by fining Democrats and perhaps telling their mommies on them. Start thinking about abridgement of rights and be clear that practice will extend to your rights.

President Elect Trump notoriously retweeted hate group tweets and offered mealy mouthed responses to calls that he repudiate hate groups. During his campaign rallies he repeatedly called for protesters to be beaten up and demeaned them as though they were sub-human. He continues to refuse to repudiate hate groups and has brought Steve Bannon, alt-right hater of all things not white and anyone not worshiping male dominance, to be his chief strategist. Oh, and he wants to deport 11 million Hispanics and register Muslims. Start thinking discrimination and scapegoating.

Trump has hired lunatic fringe Mike Flynn to be his National Security Advisor. This is the same Mike Flynn who retweets phony stories and conspiracy crap, one example of which motivated North Carolina resident Edgar Welch to drive from his home to DC to invade a pizza parlor, believing he was rescuing sexually abused children from the basement. He believed that because Mike Flynn brainlessly retweeted the bogus story. The good news is that the bullets Welch fired into the floor of the pizza restaurant didn’t hurt anyone. The bad news is that Mike Flynn, the fool who didn’t have the sense not to retweet this blatantly false story, is and will be advising the new president on when and where to use America’s military might, including nuclear weapons. Start thinking about military adventurism giving rise to horrific catastrophes.

There are many more examples of the democracy killing efforts underfoot, including Trump’s ridiculing and criticizing of the press so that you won’t find credence in reports from investigative journalists who report on Trumpian malfeasance.

To bring this to a focus, let’s check in with President Franklin Roosevelt’s Vice-President, Henry Wallace. He knew something about the harm that authoritarian regimes do to democracy and the world and has agreed to speak to you from his day and explain this fully and clearly. Click here to download a PDF copy of his comments as originally published in the New York Times on April 9, 1944. Click here to download a highlighted, easier to read version. Read it, especially the highlighted parts and you just may see a parallel between then and now and you’ll begin to realize just how bad the bad stuff we’re facing really is.

No one knows who said it first, but it’s often attributed to Sinclair Lewis:

When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.

appoint-merrick-garland

Click me and sign the petition – because you can fight fascism right now.

Fascism? In America? Do the reading. Do an online search of fascism in America. The alarm rang a while ago, the snooze button is broken from our banging on it, hoping the alarm would go away and we all have to wake up.

I’ve heard it said and am beginning to believe that we are one or two ISIS-related terrorist attacks in America away from Mr. Extremist, everything in the false language of unearned greatness President Trump declaring martial law and suspending civil liberties. Just look at those he surrounds himself with, consider his absolutist, power-grabbing, self-congratulating nature, factor in his pathologically thin skin and the retaliatory abuse he heaps on innocent people. This just doesn’t look good for our nation.

If you had already caught a glimpse of this you likely have wondered what can be done and who will stand up to the bullies. Start with this: It’s up to us.

In addition, both some help and some hope are on the way and will be in the next post. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, it’s your turn now – in the Comments section below.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

A Final Love Note to Bernie Supporters

Reading time – 1:55; Viewing time – 3:21  .  .  .

Dr.  Jill Stein’s initiative for an  election recount is in process as of this writing. Regardless of the outcome of that process, what follows remains true.

Let’s leave aside issues around whether the Democratic primary was fixed and even your notions of who had the better plan for America. Forget about who was more inspirational or more pragmatic, who and what spoke to your fondest dreams and let’s simply focus on what we faced in the general election.

It came down to Clinton, Trump and a few other candidates who could not possibly win the Presidency. If you voted for Jill Stein as a protest vote or you refused to vote, you surely made a statement. The question I pose here is whether you made the statement you truly wanted to make. Often, integrity isn’t as simple as we want it to be.

The 2000 election between Al Gore and George W. Bush at last hinged on the results in Florida. It is a sad tale of hanging chad, intervention in the people’s election by the Supreme Court and the votes of tens of thousands of Floridians being ignored, leaving Bush a victory of just over 500 votes.

Ralph Nader, the Green Party candidate, ran in that election and garnered 97,488 votes in Florida. This from RealClearPolitics.com:

Political scientist Gerald Pomper summed up the results [of the 2000 Presidential election results in Florida] in a 2001 Political Science Quarterly overview: “approximately half (47 percent) of the Nader voters said they would choose Gore in a two-man race, a fifth (21 percent) would choose Bush, and a third (32 percent) would not vote. Applying these figures to the actual vote, Gore would have achieved a net gain of 26,000 votes in Florida, far more than needed to carry the state easily [emphasis added].”

Had that happened, we likely would not have invaded Iraq, a country that never attacked us and never posed a WMD threat to us or anyone else. Had Gore been President, do the math on how many now dead people would be alive today, how many trillions of dollars we would not owe and the likely condition of the Middle East right now. All of that bad stuff happened and more because about 26,000 Floridians stood on their short-sighted principles.

With a switch to Clinton of only 107,000 Jill Stein votes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, Donald J. Trump would be holed up in his gold tower right now and nobody would be paying him any attention. We wouldn’t be fearing extremist policies and unconstitutional actions. Note that the voting adjustment proposed here doesn’t even consider the people who stayed home but would have voted for Clinton in a two way race.

Elections have consequences, so your vote has consequences. When you stand on principle and refuse to concede that the better of a two choice pair is preferable over enabling the worst to happen, you ensure that the worst does, indeed. happen. It just did. Again.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Answers

Reading time: 2:20; Viewing time – 4:00  .  .  .

I’ve been wrong. I’ve been short-sighted and reactionary and embarrassingly foolish. The embarrassment is because I know better.

Something didn’t feel right and then I read Nick Kristoff’s A 12-Step Program for Responding to President-Elect Trump and it was then – at step #3 – that I knew that I had tripped on the attitude diving board and done a belly flop onto the political pool deck.

Step 3. I WILL avoid demonizing people who don’t agree with me about this election, recognizing that it’s as wrong to stereotype Trump supporters as anybody else. I will avoid Hitler metaphors, recognizing that they stop conversations and rarely persuade. I’ll remind myself that no side has a monopoly on truth and that many Trump supporters are good people who want the best for the country. The left already has gotten into trouble for condescending to working-class people, and insulting all Trump supporters as racists simply magnifies that problem.

I know that Kristoff is right, that nobody has a monopoly on the truth and that having voted for Trump doesn’t mean that someone is a racist. Indeed, I’m wondering what percentage of Trump voters were simply so convinced of the evil of Clinton that they were willing to ignore Trump’s negatives – or the percentage of Americans who chose Trump because at least he was speaking to the suppressed rage they’ve carried in their gut for decades due to government having so consistently ignored and abused them.

I’ve been frustrated listening to righties who claim the high ground of patriotism and love of America, who imply or outright say that they have it right and others simply aren’t patriots. I often have imaginary conversations with them and explain that I love America every bit as much as they do and I very much want to excoriate them for their closed-mindedness. At this moment, though, my aforementioned embarrassment extends yet further, as I’ve realized that I’ve been thinking about them with a closed-mindedness of my own and it’s as harmful as theirs.

Flagrantly demonizing people is wrong no matter who does it. Stereotyping is wrong when I do it. On the other hand, calling out hate mongers is the right thing to do.

Kristoff advises letting go of Hitler metaphors, so let’s play with that a bit. “Alt-Right” includes Neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, white supremacists, militias, the Posse Comitatus and likely other fringe hate groups. Trump has installed Alt-Right hater Steve Bannon as his chief strategist, and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions as his attorney general and he’s bringing hyper-anti-immigrant hotheads like Mike Flynn and Kris Kobach into his cabinet. He has promised to round up Hispanics and to discriminate against Muslims and make them “register”. He stereotypes African-Americans as ghetto bums and continues to refuse to repudiate the hate mongers, including the seig heil morons. And Kristoff really wants me to let go of the Hitler metaphors? I don’t know if I can do that. I’m not confident that refusing to see a Hitler-like pattern is a good idea, because the hate induced catastrophes always begin this way. A key part of our answers moving forward lies in opposing the haters and stopping the bullies.

Meanwhile, we’re left with the rest of the question about what to do for our country, and I – perhaps you, too – need to take a step back and do a 12-step program – or maybe an 11.8-step program – and find some balance, accept that some don’t see it our way, but that doesn’t make them wrong or foolish or hateful or bad. Then perhaps we can all start finding some answers.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

– See more at: http://jaxpolitix.com/8280-2/#sthash.Vem4eKsP.dpuf

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

The Clouds Are Gathering

what-registering-non-christians-looks-likeReading time – 1:57; Viewing time – 3:25 .  .  .

Trump lied? Say it isn’t so!

Actually, Politifact rated Trump 19% Mostly False, 34% False and 17% Pants-On-Fire False, for a total of 70% lies. Yeah, he lied. It’s a habit with this guy.

And he continues to lie. On Friday he claimed credit for ensuring that a Lincoln automobile plant would be kept in Kentucky, preventing the job loss disaster that would have happened if Ford had decided to move the plant to Mexico. That would be great, except that Ford never considered having the plant anywhere but in Kentucky. Trump had absolutely nothing to do with Ford’s decision about plant location. Trumpian dishonesty is a constant and it will take a huge toll on American culture, our people and our safety in the world.

Significant risks will occur when Trump slathers his fatuous dishonesty on foreign leaders. They won’t take kindly to it and the safety of the world will be at risk as he undermines international trust. And we most certainly won’t like it when he lies to us about whatever he agrees to as he fawns over Vladimir Putin.

What will happen to justice in America, which he claims to champion – like the right of every citizen to vote – when Trump makes racist, segregationist Jeff Sessions the attorney general? What will happen to America’s national security, the very same security that he brayed he will be the best at protecting, when Trump picks for his national security advisor hyperbolic Michael Flynn, a retired 3-star general who was forced to retire from the military and from his position as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency because of his flagrantly extremist behavior.

What happens to our freedoms when Trump’s ubermeister, White Supremacist Steve Bannon, starts registering Muslims and rounding up Hispanics to shuttle them off to who-knows-where?

What happens to the climate of the entire planet now that we have a Global Warming Denier in Chief?

People are already being hurt – read the post and comments here and here.

I have been accused of helping to drive the polarization of this country. I don’t know if I’m doing that, but if I am, look for me on the pole labeled, “Facts, Reality and Equal Justice”. I acknowledge that nothing bad has happened yet on the Trump national policy level. On the other hand, the preparations for very bad things to occur are happening in front of us right now and to refuse to see that is self-defeating for this nation; it may be disastrous for our minorities. We need to take action.click-for-ten-ways-to-fight-hate

I’m in discussion with some clergy people about what we can do to address the interpersonal hate that has oozed from slimy places under the fragile rocks of American tolerance.

There is a petition going around now  urging the members of the Electoral College to vote for Hillary, as most are under no legal obligation to vote according to their state’s voting outcomes. Go ahead – click through, sign it and pass this post to your friends urging them to do the same. Make your voice heard.

What else can we do? Put your ideas for action in the Comments section below. Help us all.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

This Spaceship Earth

this-spaceship-earthReading time – 1:29; Viewing time – 2:34 .  .  .

SPECIAL TIME-SENSITIVE EDITION

Everybody knows that climate warming is a hoax perpetrated by googly-eye tree-huggers bent on destroying our capitalist way of life. Everybody except nearly every climate scientist on the planet. And this guy. Click through and scroll slowly all the way to the bottom. Even idiot, short-term-thinking, self-serving fossil fuel executives ought to be able to understand this.

It’s not enough to engage in arguments with people bent on stupid, nor is it enough to nod heads with all the people who are smart enough to agree with you.

News flash: We – you and I – actually have to DO something.

Which is what my pal, futurist David Houle is about. He has partnered with some smart folks and published a book, formed a non-profit and established a website (watch the video and sign up for the newsletter) dedicated to ensuring a habitable planet for our grandchildren.

If you are an adult over the age of 60, it’s likely you won’t see much climate warming effect, other than ever-more severe hurricanes, like Katrina and Sandy, along with drought in places where there hasn’t been drought for thirty thousand years. If you’re between 30 – 60 you might live long enough to see Miami under water, as well as the southern third of Manhattan, but you’ll still be able to find someplace to live. If you’re a Millennial, you’re screwed. And all of our descendants – like our grandchildren – will be fighting for food and drinkable water. So, if you can think beyond what you’re doing this weekend, do something now so that there is a tomorrow and humans present to record it.

Between noon EDT on Tuesday, September 20 and noon EDT on Wednesday, September 21,

  1. Go to the 2016 Giving Challenge.
  2. Follow the instructions.

There’s a three-fer for every donation between $25 – $100, so enter your info and send them $100. They’ll get $300 to lead the fight for a habitable planet. Note that this opportunity is only available until noon on September 21.

Don’t do this for David Houle and don’t do it for me. Not even for yourself. Do it for your grandchildren. Do it now.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Salve for the Bern

TortoiseReading time – 77 seconds; Viewing time – 2:37  .  .  .

I know you’re more than disappointed. You’re angry, disturbed, frustrated and wracked with despair. You know what’s wrong and you know what will fix it. You have a vision of how America should be and you want change from the hateful, harmful, even suicidal path we seem to be on. The urgency you feel is real and you want that change to happen right now. And the hope for reform that you invested in Bernie is dashed.

Well, buck up, Bubba, because true and lasting change takes time.

Gershom Gorenberg, writing for Moment Magazine about the disenchantment some have with Israel, has advice that applies to our society, our politics and our hopes that we placed in Bernie:

“I can best define despair in politics as unrealistic pessimism. History gives evidence that dedicated, organized people can bring about political change. The creation of Israel is, in fact, one example. The civil rights movement in America is another. I’m certain there were people who told Martin Luther King, Jr. in Birmingham not merely to move slowly (we’ve all heard about that), but to give up hope: “Look, Reverend, Jim Crow is entrenched policy. America’s promises are a sham. Give it up.” King didn’t. To bring about political change, you need to keep two conflicting recognitions constantly in mind. One is that it’s urgent. It must happen today, because the situation is intolerable. The other is that transformations require a very long march.

“When you despair, you exempt yourself from the slog. Declaring that nothing can be done, you stop asking what you can do. You become an un-indicted co-conspirator in the status quo.”

The hare never wins the race. In the fight for reform, we must be the tortoise. Bernie’s campaign may be over, but the fight for reform goes on. So, one thing we tortoises can do is to vote on November 8 and encourage everyone we encounter to do the same.

Pass this along to other disappointed people youThe work goes on know – they’re feeling let down, too, and need your help to rekindle their flame of hope instead of giving up. That’s what you can do, because giving up is not an option.

Thanks go to Steve Sheffey for the Gorenberg quote.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Tony Soprano in the Cabinet Room

Reading time – 54 seconds; Viewing time – 1:53  .  .  .

May 24, 2016
Chicago, IL
WLS Radio, 890 AM

Local radio talk show host Jonathon Brandmeier interviewed a caller today who identified as a truck driver. He poo-poohed criticism of Donald Trump for having connections to the mob. He said that if you want concrete for your construction project, as Donald Trump does for each of his buildings, then you have to do business with the mob. No big deal.

Brandmeier asked the caller how he would feel if Trump were elected president and brought in mobsters for every cabinet post. The caller said that he couldn’t care less. Besides, he said, those guys know how to get things done.

Brandmeier then ridiculed those who think ties to the mob is a worrisome thing, as though it’s a given that such people are fools.

And that is the attitude of dismissal of ethics and good judgment that pervades our political world right now. It’s a friendly elbow in the ribs of understanding among like-minded people who don’t care about anything they don’t feel threatened by at the moment. Hey, whatever works.

We live in an era of great political emotion. Dangerously, the emotion of 35% of Americans is destructive of learning, reason and democracy.

Talking reason to an emotionally charged person is an exercise in futility. So, our job between now and November 8 is to stop whining about the lack of sense of Trump supporters and instead speak to the 65% with both our reason and our emotion. You can begin your part right now by passing this piece to 3 people you know who aren’t politically attentive.

All that hangs in the balance is the future of America.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Bruce Rauner and Us

9,000 Illinoisans demonstrated against Rauner at the statehouse on May 18, 2016

9,000 Illinoisans demonstrated against Rauner at the statehouse on May 18, 2016 – Photos courtesy of Karl-Heinz Gabbey

DSC_5953Reading time – 1:17; Viewing time 2:42  .  .  .

There probably wouldn’t be a budget crisis in Illinois – or at least it wouldn’t be as severe – had we not spent decades in Magical Thinking Land.

State workers, including teachers – you know, the people who teach your kids – really did need better incomes, but increasing taxes to fund that was not a politically clever thing to do. Politicians wanting to keep their jobs decided that what would be better was to offer a pension to state workers. It was a promise to underpaid state workers of retirement income at a later date. That way the state could defer the additional expense and let the job of finding extra money for that to be dumped on some later generation of legislators and governors.

But the day never came when politicians in Springfield had the courage to face up to the reality that the promise of those deferred payments to workers would actually have to be honored. They just waited, juggled budget line items and hoped for some magical solution to appear, even as state liabilities continued to pile up. All that waiting wasn’t a serious problem, right up to the point when the state went broke.

At that same time we found ourselves in the dungeon of Republican thinking, where all government is bad, where all unions are bad and all taxes are bad. Then Bruce Rauner rode into town on his mealy-mouthed promise of fiscal responsibility for the state. That meant eliminating unions so that workers would have nothing to protect them from people like Bruce Rauner. We could solve our fiscal problems on their backs and on the backs of teachers. Also on the backs of mentally ill patients and school kids. This makes sense if your name is Rauner.

So, shame on all of us for allowing our politicians to let us believe that there was a free lunch that extended for generations. Taxes were low – everyone liked that – but now we have a crisis of epic proportions, paired with an intransigent governor who seems to believe that he is an emperor and is above compromising with the pitiful representatives of the people.

We’re approaching a full year without a budget and Illinoisans – once again, these are real people – are suffering. It just might be that Bruce Rauner is monumentally wrong for Illinois, but we’re stuck with him unless he is found guilty of some impeachable offense. Sadly, being arrogant, mean and a tool for the 1% are not such offenses.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

National Courage

 Source: http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

World Population – Source: http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

Reading time – 2:10 – Viewing time – 5:29  .  .  . 

When there were just one billion people (about 1804), this planet was able to tolerate a lot of abuse in various forms of pollution, including fouling of lakes and rivers, putting toxic gasses into the air and dumping nasty materials into the ground. The ratio of humans to planet was just too great for us to have lasting, significant impact.

As we now approach eight billion people, the ratio is vastly different and human impact on the Earth is both obvious and threatening. That leaves us just two options for actions to save ourselves from substantial danger.

First, we can take steps to reduce the pollution that we create and perhaps even reverse some of it. That will take a united and sustained global effort if we are to avert wars over fresh water and food. It is hoped that such an effort has been started with the accords developed at the Paris Climate Conference in December, 2015, attended by 195 nations. The fundamental agreement is that each nation is to devise its own plan. What is needed, of course, is for all to follow through both with plans and with actions.

The second thing we can do is to cause world population to stabilize and then decrease, because obviously, with fewer people we will have a reduced impact on the planet. Accomplishing that is the trick.

Jonathan Swift offered us direction on that with his 1729 offering to ease the burden of the poor in Ireland by selling their children as food, this in his powerful work, A Modest Proposal. What could be simpler and have the twofer advantage of both decreasing the population and helping with food shortages?

With that clear and compelling logic in mind, I suggest that we are already on a similar journey and offer these examples:

Let’s face the facts.

We stubbornly refuse to change our lifestyle habits and that’s good, because that helps to solve our population problem.

Interestingly, there are now more homicides by firearms each year than deaths due to car crashes. Part of that is due to the safety systems now built into our cars, like seat belts, air bags, ABS brakes, traction control and newer features like frontal crash protection. There is even some braniac’s invention of a system to keep your car in its lane, even when you’re distracted by texting something that’s so important that it can’t wait for you to stop the car.

Unfortunately, all of those automobile safety features run counter to our desired reduction of the population, so some serious consideration should be given to abandoning all of them and bringing back the days when holiday weekends were marked by tallying the hundreds of fatal car crashes across the nation.

For the gun part of this issue, it’s time to stop pretending that background checks, fingerprint ID and trigger locks are good things. It’s time for a national return to both open and concealed carry, with all adult citizens being required to carry a loaded gun. That will bring us back to the days of the Old West and we will be able to settle our differences quickly and help to reduce over-population and pollution all at the same time.

As for the suicides of military veterans, we may have to become better at this, as there are roughly 21.8 million vets in America, so the 22 suicides per day probably won’t have sufficient impact to make a dent on our over-population problem. Perhaps we can entirely eliminate PTSD treatment for returning vets and also string out medical attention for war-related injuries even longer.

Source: “NIH Research Funding Rebounds in President’s FY 2016 Budget”, by, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Finally, and perhaps obviously, it’s time to end our mania over disease treatment and prevention. Infectious diseases have the same potential today to solve a great many of our population challenges as they did during the bubonic plague in medieval Europe and the influenza epidemic in the early 20th century. Sadly, we have recently taken a step in a counterproductive direction.

As you can see from the dashed light blue line on the chart on the right, we have wisely been reducing funding  for the National Institutes of Health for 13 years. Just this year, though, in a wrong-headed move, the President increased funding just slightly. That will have the long term effect of increasing our population and pollution problems. What could he have been thinking?

Clearly, there are things we can do to increase our death rate and achieve our goals. All we need is our national gift for innovation and the courage to rededicate ourselves to continue on our path.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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