Just Kill Yourselves Already!
bubble-ized fools illustrated below have next to nothing to
do with most of our lives, and yet they have an out-sized
influence on the tweaking of the worlds in which we live.
They screw things up, where that sort of help is not needed.
Each is certain that the others are more than wrong;
that the others are, in fact, evil! That being the
case, and assuming the sincerity of their beliefs, the RCJ
wishes that this holiday season they would all put their
weapons where their hearts are and just kill each other off
so the rest of us could have pleasant end-of-2012 get
togethers with our loved ones sans the perturbations of this
particular collection of clowns. Imagine a world free of
these influencers below. Far from crafting solutions so that
we may all figure out some way to do the thing that we all
eventually are going to have to do - live together -
these half-wits believe the only answer is to eliminate the
forces countervailing to their limited world views. And what
do they represent of the population: 10 percent? 20 percent?
They do disservice to the majority of the people on the
planet, though enclosed in their bubbles of self
satisfaction they are convinced of their righteousness. So
let the games begin, if each is so vested with special
insight. Will they not be protected by the power of their
truths? This chaos that they have made of the modern world
is their chaos, not that of most of the rest of us.
Let them fight their wars of ultimate ignorance on some
field of dishonor far from the majority of us, who work just
fine with one another and who collectively have far better
ideas for our shared global futures.-
Limits of Union
Strength Doom Walker Recall
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has been at
the cutting edge, when it comes to cutting the collective
bargaining rights of Wisconsin's public workers. Given the
historic connection between collective bargaining (union
representation) and the well-being of America's wage
earners, one might think it would be a no brainer for
the electorate to protect worker rights. One might think it,
but Tuesday's Wisconsin results prove that one would be
SCOTUS Decision's Fallout Begins
Attorney and former State Representative
Matt Davis believes it may
be time to take up arms against tyranny, just as old Ben
Franklin said this day would come. This day is the
Supreme Court's 5-4 health care decision that upheld most of
"Obamacare" and, in Davis' words, completed a "100-year
progressive trek to tyranny", liberal style. It is the
purchase mandate that he hates. "If government can mandate
that I pay for something I don't want, then what is beyond
its power? If the Supreme Court's decision Thursday paves
the way for unprecedented intrusion into personal decisions,
then has the Republic all but ceased to exist? If so, then
is armed rebellion today justified?"
Davis' way of looking at the
decision, which was basically a
Chief Justice John Roberts tie breaker, which is
to say an abrogation of responsibility from a Bush-era
appointee in the minds of hard-right Republicans, is as good
as any in an environment in which all the tie-downs have
come loose and the big tents are flapping in odd directions.
There is no odder direction at
present than the Democrats' insistence that this SCOTUS
decision confirms that the Obama healthcare program - which
is a Republican-originated model - is the greatest
achievement in progressive politics in the last 50 years.
That is, of course, pure poppycock even from the point of
view of progressives, who place universal health care as the
penultimate indicator of a society doing well by its people
but do not believe in achieving it through the existing
private insurance system. Obamacare is the plan that
Hilary Clinton fought
against in 1994, when it was championed by
Sen. Bob Dole, who went on
to capture the Republican nomination for President in the
The winners and losers of this
decision are not exactly made clear through the reporting in
the U.S. media, typified by the AP scorecard above, which
could hardly be less useful, demonstrating the American
media's fixation on individuals (Verrilli, Roberts, Scalia),
as if the entire debate is a personal grudge match between
Washington D.C. lawyers.
LOSER: The better way to report the story would
be to say that Obamacare forces some needed corrections to
the system, such as the elimination of exclusion of coverage
for people with pre-existing conditions (Isn't that all of
us?), but essentially leaves the status quo in place, with
insurance companies remaining in power and calling the shots
regarding the nation's healthcare. Who is the loser there?
We all are, because we are still paying a huge share of our
health costs to middlemen who have nothing to do with
provision of healthcare services. That beast remains
unchallenged because the Democrats failed to show that the
jobs of the insurance companies could be done much more cost
effectively through a single payer system, as most of the
rest of the developed world has already recognized.
That the Obamacare Plan
essentially places an exclusive tax on low income people who
cannot afford healthcare plans, and that the SCOTUS decision
found that to be Constitutional, though that was not really
a focus of the case, was a semi-slick workaround by Roberts,
a wink to Republicans who want to shift responsibility for
the nation's ills to the poor.
And, a wink to Republicans like
Matt Davis who just need a little more fire in the belly to
elect Mitt Romney in November and begin the task of
dismantling the Obama Health Care program, which of course
will be one of the crowing achievements in absurdity as
Romney will attempt to dismantle a SCOTUS-approved plan,
however narrowly, that is really his own.
What a country!
Neat Trick of History
Completes Health Care Slight of Hand
Court Chief Justice John Roberts,
a Republican appointee, essentially made the decision on
what some consider to be the principal domestic policy
achievement of the Obama Administration, his Romney-style
Health Care Plan. Roberts had to redefine the argument,
turning an inclination to say no to the purchase mandate -
the principle point of contention regarding "Obamacare" -
into an approval to raise taxes on people who otherwise
refuse to participate in the purchase mandate.
Yes, Virginia, that is
convoluted, but then the entire Obama Health Care debate has
been a sham, complete to the end with the Supreme Court
decision upholding the program that Republicans have been
touting as their alternative to European-style "universal
health care" since at least 1994, during the Hilary Clinton
health care debates. Barack Obama passed Republican
reform of health care that does force insurers to address
some major issues involving pre-existing conditions and
exclusivity, but leaves private insurance companies - whose
only function in the delivery of health is to take a huge
slice of the money exchanged for services - completely in
charge of the U.S. health care system. Obama had earlier
protected the profits of U.S. pharmaceutical companies,
making certain that health care in the U.S. would never
become a cost effective enterprise, at least not for the
consumer. Our present return on investment in health
insurance sucks, meaning we pay way too much for what we get
The Republican resistance to the
Obama plan has always rung false, like Brer Rabbit arguing
that he didn't want to be tossed into the briar patch. The
Republicans were getting what they wanted, and squealing in
feigned alarm the whole way because of the big bad mandate.
The Roberts decision to uphold the plan guarantees that the
worst health care providers in the world, in terms of
fleecing their clients, will continue to reign supreme in
the U.S. That he got around the attitudes of his fellow
conservatives on the court with a tax increase argument is
novel for a Republican, or so it seems until you realize
that all he has really done is approved a tax increase
exclusively for the poor. Now that is Republican.
Global Community in the Digital Age
Our vertical quest for knowledge has yielded some popular
pseudo-sciences useful for the light they shine on our
inability to advance our socioeconomic and cultural lives,
and maybe not much else.
TED's mission statement begins
with "We believe passionately in the power of ideas to
change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we're
building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and
inspiration from the world's most inspired thinkers, and
also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and
So, it's like Facebook for a
fee, with a convention and door prizes.
After 5 years of handing out
prizes to three folks each year, who were expected to come
back to the annual TED conference with information about how
they had used the money to achieve a purpose, the TED
program has only awarded prizes to one person for each of
the last two years.
At the same time, the TED
conference has experienced an explosion in growth,
eventuating its move from tony Monterey, California to a
somewhat grittier Long Beach conference center.
This has been driven by a guy
named Chris Anderson,
whose non-profit, The Sapling
Foundation, took over the organization in 2002.
Founded in 1984, TED had been conceived as an intellectual
grow chamber and had plugged along for years with an
invitation-only conference that cost $4,400 to attend.
The Sapling Foundation changed
the TED model, brought in the prize awarding idea, and in
2007 transitioned involvement in the organization to an
annual membership fee of $6,000. TED is a country club for
well-healed intellectuals, who besides the conference enjoy
"club mailings, networking tools and conference DVDs".
Not terribly unlike the far
older Bohemian Grove group, up in Northern California, TED
attracts a presenters such as Bill
Clinton, Jane Goodall, Malcolm Gladwell, Al Gore, Gordon
Brown, Richard Dawkins, Bill Gates, educator Salman Khan,
Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and a
variety of Nobel Prize winners.
Whether or not TED actually
is anything, other than a well-off person's annual
excuse to go hang out with the swells, would be a hard thing
to discern. Chris Anderson, the master of ceremonies of The
Sapling Foundation, is a former computer magazine publisher,
and he is most certainly an inventive and motivated
promoter. He has come up with a catalog of offerings for
TED, including books, DVDs, specialty conferences on Women's
issues and Health, and TED offers licensing arrangements, so
for a fee you can host a TED event anywhere in the world.
This would seem to give a wider
group of well-off folks this same opportunity to throw a
party in which all their smart friends can get together and
offer up ideas to change the world.
There is, of course, no clear
output from these group meets, which should be expected. A
tremendous program to provide single-home solar panels in
Angola may well change lives for village people there
without anyone in the rest of the world being aware that
Results of greater magnitude may
come through any impact TED contributors may have on the
decision-making processes of governmental bodies worldwide,
though big initiatives seem antithetical to a world focused
on austerity to solve our global economic meltdown.
So is TED anything that, given
its membership, i.e., rich and well connected folk, wouldn't
likely be anyway? Or is it just a social organization?
Incorporation of Entitlement
business enterprise has interests of such vital importance
to the global economy that their goals and objectives would
trump any risks their enterprise might pose to our shared
system of universal support: the environment.
And yet, we are constantly
forced to go to "war" against entities, such as those
championing the Keystone XL pipeline, who want to take the
gamble that puts us all at risk: their gamble, everyone's
One is moved to ask, when did we
cross over this threshold of basic common sense, the
transition of which is not different from any individual's
slide into insanity? When did humankind, and specifically
the masters of humankind, become so short-sighted in their
I suspect the answer is outside
of the question, as is the case with so many of mankind's
problems. And I further suspect that it lies in something as
innocuous as business process. In this case, risk
Business strategies are built
around the probability of certain things occurring along the
critical path of operations and scheduling. These are
expressed through entries on a spreadsheet that yield a
It has only been relatively
recently that risk management has become a routine
analytical practice producing probability and impact
analyses and contingency plans for countering the effects of
In business practices, these are
all myopic views of the world that are only as large as the
project under consideration.
Due to economic influence - the
power of big business - it has become the default condition
in the U.S., at the macro level, to accept the activities of
large business enterprises as if the generation of profits
are more sacred than the survival of the human race.
Business leaders don't think of
it in those terms, of course, because that has not been
their training. In their behaviors, they are rather like
train engineers on a track defined by the business they are
in and the market forces that create its dynamics, and they
are headed in the one direction their tracks have
been laid for, guided by whatever gold they seek.
That we allow energy companies
to produce products that deteriorate the quality of the
environment, and produce waste materials that will require
centuries of stewardship (the Federal Government just
approved the first new nuclear power plant in 30 years), is
something advocates and protesters can argue about, but it
is insane that environmentally irresponsible actions seem
acceptable to anyone in the first place. Such should be
above debate, simply unfathomable to a thinking person.
That we argue over environmental
issues like climate change (used to be called "global
warming") misses the point, in many ways, while all too
often having little effect on outcomes. (The Keystone XL
pipeline has been the rare exception, but this debate is not
really over. Besides, every rejection of one harmful energy
company initiative seems to be balanced by approval of some
equally destructive activity, such as the Georgia nuclear
power plant, or the further approval of deep drilling in the
Gulf of Mexico.)
The more potent question is, who
in the first place gave powerful corporations the right to
take risks that impact us all? Why would that ever be
Here again, the counter is to
focus the argument on the science of climate study, hiding
the debate well within the larger issue, the business
initiative sparking the debate, and even deeper within the
larger issue of whether or not environmentally risky
enterprises should ever be allowed in the first place.
Whatever the argument over safe
engineering practices and quality controls, business leaders
think too small to be the captains of our planetary vessel.
We, the passengers and crew, had better expose these myopic
maniacs and mutiny as appropriate until finally we, as a
human family, start making sense along the lines of ensuring
our continuing survival.
Fossil fuels, after all, are not
keeping us alive, but instead are just allowing us to
continue down an ultimately destructive path.