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Don’t Give In To Bullies!

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the October 29th, 2014

In a recent article I read comments made by the quarterback for the the Seattle Sea Hawks, who had been accused in the locker room of not being black enough: you won’t believe, he said what we have to put up with. This is a well educated, well-spoken black man, whose father was a college president and whose grandfather was a land owner. But many black students accuse others, even carrying books, of acting white. But that’s not the half of it, and it’s certainly not limited to blacks. I was told more recently of a situation in Richmond, Virginia , where a third generation land owner, whose family had worked to accumulate their property and life-style over generations, were being sued by a Muslim mosque that had purchased adjacent land. The suit was ostensibly to gain more land for access roads, but obviously hid wider aspirations; essentially it made the case that it was not fair for local land owners to keep the Muslim community from their RIGHT to expand its community into what it deserved. There have been a growing number of other cases, but let’s go with that.

We are what we have become due to the spread of liberalism since the advent of Christianity; liberalism has been a positive force throughout recorded history. But with all such positives, evolution can take something good and corrupt it. The corruption of liberalism is over-emphasis on equality, taken to extremes.

First is equality in terms of culture, where all cultures are being said to be equal, with none better than any other, history notwithstanding. Any attempted discussion is met with a cry of, judgmental! The fact that a meaning of judgement is: good sense, and it is what courts of law are expected to do to assure justice, is not material. But a second is the assumption that we are all equal; not equal before the law, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, but equal, period, without regard to much of anything. Following such assumptions comes the conclusion that we must all respect each other, and each others’ cultures, regardless, even to the point of bending over backwards to show such respect.

That last sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? In Europe they have been running into severe difficulties by trying to pursue it with increasing mixing of cultures – through immigration. Why? it has to do with the reality of human nature. In order to achieve mutual respect there must be mutuality, both sides must make roughly equal effort; it’s not happening because it is only the traditional European culture that is making the effort. The other cultures, principally an aggressive Islamic culture, feel no compunction to do so. And why not? Two reasons, intertwined: it is only the traditional European culture that espouses such equality; and The Islamic culture, exercising human nature and a feeling of superiority, feel no need to do so. And how do they justify that? quite easily, in fact, in that they view traditional European overtures as weakness and their superiority as deserved. Ironically, it is deserved because the Islamic religion is seen by its adherents as the only true religion, whereas the traditional Europeans are becoming increasingly critical – and apologetic – of their own. We need take that no further.

The question is where has it led, and is leading in The United States?

Equality as an absolute ignores any effort at taking initiative, whether immediate or within families over time. In other words, it doesn’t matter if I have made no effort in my own behalf, or my family has made no effort in preparing me; I am ipso facto equal to anyone regardless – and……………..therefore I should be equal in everything; EVERYTHING. To wit: if you have anything and I have nothing, you owe me. Is that extreme? Yes it is; no one would attempt to put it in such blunt terms; but, let’s face it, that’s about what many apparently apparently believe. We should be equally benefited by society merely because we exist; no effort on our parts should be expected; but efforts on the part of others should be used to the benefit of all equally.

How this is playing out in the broader post-Great Society black culture is fairly obvious: you owe me.

How this is manifesting itself in Richmond is, you have land, we need land to settle our people who want to come here to live so that they can benefit from your culture; you have land that this culture has made possible, and we want it; deserve to have it, and if we don’t get it we’ll sue. No effort on their part to even attempt to be a part of the culture they expect to dominate is even considered. Josef Stalin once allegedly said, they will sell us the rope we use to hang them, but that is another subject,

There are other elements that come into play, however. Complacency on our part with regard to protecting our culture is one, even to the point of strong self-criticism; reluctance to confront and desire to just get along is another. Is this not what happens with bullying? the strong uses their strength to get their way, and the weak enables it through lack of opposition? Why are we letting this happen? Is it really weakness, as the Muslims so fervently believe, or just complacency? Demographics and family deterioration are still others, but that’s a whole new subject.

The powerful culture of the West, and particularly The United States, has been achieved through difficult times and extreme effort, evolving into strong institutions that reward motivation, but still attempt to succor those that are unable to what it takes to achieve; that is CANNOT, not will not, there is a difference, and that difference, though difficult to isolate, is being conveniently blurred. So The United States is perfect? hardly, nothing is ever perfect nor can we ever hope for such unreality. Utopia on earth; who needs or should have to need the challenge of living an exemplary life of contribution? It can – it should – just happen here; from him according to his capabilities, to him according to his needs. Nice, only if all needs are provided, what is the incentive of pursuing capabilities? Well……………human nature; some just will because it is their nature (because of the way they were brought up), and it is only fair that the rest of us should be able to live off that? As we feel we are entitled to? And the rest of the world, that has not made the same effort should be allowed to come here without restrictions to enjoy the same?

Don’t let THEM bully US! Don’t give in to the bullies!!

Current Big Money

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the October 28th, 2014

My political interest may be apparent, but I try to avoid discussing politics directly.

Having read several article just recently, however, on top of what has been obvious to me for some time, mainly because solicitation letters I receive suggesting how money is changing polls continuously with downright slander, I have to weigh in.

I am appalled, disgusted and very concerned with what has obviously become THE factor in current national politics: BIG MONEY. It is awful!! And this is not buying votes? Even if it were positive, but negative?: But of course it is not corruption nor bribery; actually it is not, technically, because the blatant gullibility of television besotted voters succumbs to it; That is pathetic. My last post was about hype, and I mentioned this, but then read another article about Harry Reid’s PAC and how negative advertising turned polls on their heads in North Carolina.

Is this The United States, or Ebolastan? Are we really that stupid? Yes stupid; it is beyond ignorance.

And the most effective advertising seems to be negative, whether even true or not – which is why I use the word slander to freely. I find this revolting. Perhaps it is that Americans are buying the nonsense that all politicians are the same and they are all crooked, so we believe anything we hear, and react accordingly. Politicians are politicians and they say what they think they need to say to be elected; perhaps they don’t spend so much time on qualifications and accomplishments because they don’t believe they will be understood, or appreciated. Is that true? Have we become so jaded that all that works is slander? And who is paying for all that slander? BIG MONEY, that which we allegedly detest; but WE BELIEVE IT?

Give me a break. What has happened to us?

I can only hope that the results of this election refute the value of BIG MONEY in buying votes through blatant slander – and proves that the American voter can see through that corrupt practice. And I can only hope that the impression is deep enough so that it convinces these evil BIG MONEY con men that it will not work in America. But it has, and is, apparently; we’ll see.

But, I must add, there is strong party support of such advertising, and that means politicians, those who wish to be leaders of our country, are tacitly in agreement with it. That is SICK; it is um-American and potentially destructive. We cannot let it continue to happen. I have confidence that it will not, but not very strong confidence, because I have seen how it works. HOW CAN WE LET IT HAPPEN?

Beware the Hype – THINK!

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the October 27th, 2014

I think I have never seen it so bad – maybe I just wasn’t paying attention; but hype season certainly seems to be here – coming from all angles, but perhaps more than any else, from advertising, in its many forms – hype, if you will. Really? Well it certainly seems so: crisis, buy now.

Many reasons for it, I suppose: the elections, and all the half truths (I am being kind) being tossed around. Where there is smoke there is fire, right? Maybe? They used to say that, but hey, it sells, apparently. And when I say all angles, that really seems to be the case. The right wing fringe has always been guilty of it; the left wing fringe, seemingly a bit desperate, seems to be weighing in ifthey weren’t already.

Justification? Well, we Americans, along with many others are prone to panic; it spreads, you know. And there is lots around to panic about; that is to say that it is around, not that it is necessarily justified. I say necessarily, because what do I know? I just prefer to want to resist it, knowing the effect that unrestrained panic can have; but also knowing that panic sells. Put the two together and you have a prescription for runaway hype -m propaganda, my preferred word. Do people believe it, the perpetrators, that is? Who knows? Do others believe it? It certainly seems they do, and not knowing any better, it’s easy for panic to take over and spread. And the media? Hey panic sells, and they are in the business, at both fringes, and elsewhere as well.

Panic about what? Ebola, for one, way over-hyped, in my humble opinion. A problem that needs be dealt with, yes, but an impending disaster; I don’t see it. But again, who am I? And ISSI, oh woe! Are they causing problems? Oh, yes, they are making a big mess, but world crisis? Only if they are running around next door; they’ll go after each other before they get here; they always do. How about indication of deterioration, collapse even, elsewhere? There is some; world leadership has been weak and ineffective – and contentious. Why? Perhaps because they see no barriers for pushing their contention. Europe is weak and increasingly ineffective, due to overspending, debt and military weakness, as much as anything; countries in Europe seem to be incapable of effective action today, even on their own behalf. Sweeping emigration/immigration? That surely is a challenge, if unchecked; but part of that seems to go back to the other indicators: excessive world debt and the panic it is beginning to create, and spawn.

So why is it catching on? Some of it is realistic concern; debt is out of control, and people justifiably worry; they should have long ago, and it would have been curtailed, but it was in people’s interest, as well as government’s, to pile on debt due to self interest; greed? Too simple. Power hunger? That’s closer, but both are part of human nature – as is susceptibility to fear and panic, particularly when hyped. And hyped by whom? That gets more interesting. Once information was more controlled, now it is less so because there are so many more outlets, and so little control: twitter; Facebook; the entirety of the Internet, emanating from all over the world, often without identification of where it is coming from. Isn’t this good? Freedom of information? If it were all attempted delivery of truth and fact, it probably would be, but without controls, how can one know? Look at advertising? Lies? Mostly not; mostly it is partial truth, not for malice, but for personal gain, not only for products and services, but for ideas.

Certainly weak global leadership contributes, but so does human nature’s propensity to panic, due partly to bad information, but also to lack of knowledge, lack of understanding, inability to put it into context – and greed. Is the stock market about to “crash”? Probably, whatever that means, because it has become way over valued, and low federal bank bank exchange rates have made too much taxpayer money available for speculation loans; that for sure has fed greed.

So the big question may be, run away inflation, sinking depression? They are intrinsically intertwined, so maybe both, and either one can lead to disaster for those who are unprepared. The student loan debt crisis has led to disaster for some who were unprepared – that is, overly optimistic and insufficiently informed. Will it be the end of the world? Nope, but whichever, it will cause problems with which we will have to deal, as we have before. Global warming, more hype; does it portend the end of the world as we know it? if not dealt with, it will cause problems; but climate has been changing continuously from the beginning of time, and causing problems. Caused by people? Uh huh, and all the other contributors to climate change that have been working since the beginning of time, with which we have always dealt, with however much difficulty. Which doesn’t mean there won’t be pain – for some, maybe for many. But we’ll deal with it, as we always have – with decent leadership. And remember, we, the world, has had bad leaders before, and difficult times. So we have to deal with it, hopefully with effective leadership; and since the only leadership we can directly influence is our own, that’s clearly the place to start; and the place to begin to start dealing with our own leadership is to UNDERSTAND what is good leadership, and that, of course, is having a grip on reality. And resistance to panicked hype; start by considering the source, then try and understand possible motivation.

In the end, beware the hype; “read, think, disagree with everything, if you like – but force your mind outward.” “There is no end to what we can accomplish, if we work together.” And “be a little kinder, be a little blinder to the faults of those around us, Praise a little more.” Tricky, what?

Oh, and then vote; not blindly for who you “like”, America’s Got Talent style and says the things you want to hear; but for those who can provide the kind of leadership we need, for the right reasons. Right? That which in the long run is best for all of us; for we are all in this together, and cause and effect is also contagious. We really can do it; some won’t for various reasons, so that leaves it up to the rest of us – those of us who WANT to do it, and for the right reasons.

VOTE – intelligently and thoughtfully. Pretty devious way to get there, don’t you think?

Nostalgia and Realism – and Voting

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the October 26th, 2014

In essays in First Things Yuval Levin and Peter Lawler had interesting observations to make about how thing are continually changing for us in The United States; it is even more interesting to add to their observations those of Bruce Thorton from a 2007 book entitled Decline and Fall. Much is being written these days about changes, and a good deal of it is worth some consideration.

Levin and Lawler noted how nostalgia has a great to deal with how we view change, seeing as that resistance to change is pretty universal. Without going into too much detail, both suggest that we miss what has been important to us; but more than that, we have difficulty in dealing with the change that comes with it. Loss of the community aspects of life that existed in times past is part of that but dealing with how technology and commerce has influenced our lives adds depth, and so does the nostalgia that comes with only seeing the good and forgetting the bad.

I add Thornton because he concentrates on what has changed and what has not in Europe; what has changed, in his writing, is similar in many ways to what Levin and Lawler discuss for this country; what has remained there is the “religion”, as he described it, of communism – or socialism, as it has become, and its effect on how people seem to be processing those other changes, of which we are all so aware. Part of all that has to do with growth of almost everything, but, as Lawler suggests, that technology is beginning to change that in ways not well understood.

Nostalgia and realism work both ways: realism from the past is largely lost to nostalgia, for those who prefer to look back at the good old days; but nostalgia can also glorify the past when glossing over realism that people want to forget to glorify the present. In other words, we, whoever are we, believe what we want to believe, and internalize what we have learned in the past. Thornton’s message is that communist messages in the past, translated to socialism, tend to blur the negative lessons of what living in a utopian mind set were learned, but are being forgotten. To understand that one has to follow the details provided in Decline and Fall.

And what has been happening in Europe for the past several decades seems to be happening in The United States: some of our would-be-leaders would have us believe, as Europeans have believed (at least Europe’s elite leadership), that a utopia is possible – and even inevitable, if we just relax and let it happen through evolution.

That is not realism, and the fact that they refuse to learn from lessons of the past is not a good portent, but you can not tell them so; or at least when you do, they will not listen. One reality that Europe is learning is that there is no way for all to have everything they want, particularly when many are not encouraged to contribute, but just enjoy at the expense of others. Another is that bending over backwards to accommodate the beliefs and customs of others when those others are not inclined to reciprocate doesn’t work. Like it or not, culture must be, if not homogenized, at least compatible and mutually supportive. We are beginning to see what happens when one sector of the culture insists on having it their way and disregarding the principles of the whole, call it cultural traditions. And allowing to do so, even encouraging to do so through catering to their whims, will always be counter productive – and lead to cultural disruption.

They used to say there is no such thing as American culture, but there is; it is a culture of immigrants, and integration among them has often not been smooth, but there has been motivation to integrate, and thus be a part of that melting- pot culture, although melting-pot is being challenged; mixing is perhaps a more appropriate term, but continual and for the purpose of being a part of the traditions; principles, of that culture. Is that changing? I suggest that for the most part it is not, but if national elite leadership, as in Europe, caters to differences without expecting adherence to the principles that lead to compatibility and desire to mutually support, it surely will not. Culture need not be monolithic, but it needs to adhere to basic mores, which are our basic principles.

Many things can lead to changes that will prove disruptive, even chaotically disruptive: refusal to want to cooperate, even compromise, as is being experienced in Europe, is one of those; elite championing of such refusal to compromise; propaganda that supports such refusal; and complacency to doing anything to oppose it carries that one step further. We are seeing all that in process, particularly the propaganda, which currently is heavily dominated by media; unfairly, that is, unevenly so? You decide. But I am very upset by the negative attacks, even untruthful negative attacks, widely broadcast through media, either in advertising or opinion pieces; and even more so with the realization that it works. How do I know? Because of the rapidly changing polls, as more and more big money is thrown into the last ditch efforts to influence voters, mostly (though not exclusively) through television advertising to attempt to change opinions. Can I not refer to this as buying votes? It seems like it to me. Are we so gullible? Have we so little understanding of the positions, the real positions, including performance records, of candidates? Remember, our system of government is based on informed voters; we need to keep that always in mind. And if we don’t like our form of government, I suggest we consider the alternatives, which are mostly bad. We must understand.

And we must vote. That time is here, and it will, as it always has does, test us. Are we ready? Vote! and know what you are voting for.

We Take Ourselves Too Seriously

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the October 22nd, 2014

I was thinking about this subject and then read a couple of things that fed right in, and now I’m not sure what I had in mind to begin with. First thing I read – in Drudge Report – that Monica Lewinsky’s life was ruined by Matt Drudge. He publicized it! Now, it’s my understanding the Lewinsky was the one who blurted it out; Slick Willy didn’t; but she Loved him. No judgment here; just taking self too seriously; how about responsibility? Self-responsibility for what we do? Sorry, that’s archaic, isn’t it.

Second was an article in the Wall Street Journal reporting a study that in Microsoft women in the same position make only 70% of what men make at the same age. Oh woe. The reason, the article pointed out, is that women – on average (this is all statistical stuff, after all) – take 11 years out of their careers to have and nurture children. So, of course, the MSM landed with both feet on the CEO, who happens to be from India when he commented, that is their (the women’s) karma. Explode Media! How can he say such a thing? (he had to make an apology). Makes sense to me; all have free will and make that choice; in fact many men (not all) are putting in a bunch of time helping – I know a young family where he does much of the work, including with the child (there is another on the way) and she makes a higher salary – different career field of course.
Of course we need to be thankful, very thankful that women still do; it is REALLY important!!

Then reading from the book I am reading (I know, I read too much, you have to put up with me; I have to share this with someone) about how progressiveness (spell check doesn’t accept progressivism) has been substituting itself for religion since the French Revolution. The book is, Decline and Fall by Bruce Thornton who is (or was, this book was published in 2007) a professor at Cal State in Fresno, and decline and fall is about Europe). The gist so far in the book (I have only read a couple of chapters), after providing stats about the decline of church attendance in most European countries, is that the basis of progressiveness is the perfectibility of human nature – that is, quality of life. So we don’t need to worry about things like sin and afterlife, because we are substituting life on earth for that, the good life, with lots of good living.

Final nail was another article, by a former Secretary of the Treasury from the first Bush Administration, David Stockman, currently head of an investment company, talking about what a mess the stock market is (and why: investment with cheap credit provided by low FED rates allowing high risk day trading) and how (related) Europe is rapidly approaching the debt position vis a vis GDP where it has little hope of coming out of it unscathed; they are, for all intents and purposes, broke, trying to provide that great quality of life for every one. Responsibility?

And back to Christianity: let no man a debtor or lender be? I am not either criticizing or defending the rather uncompromising traditions of the church, but arguing that what should be our focus is the principles that Christianity has provided for us. I mentioned this to someone who argued, that other religions, even tribal ones, have had similar principles, and I could not come up with a good argument (I don’t think fast enough), partly because I know that is true: Confucianism is a case in point, and to a lesser degree so is Taoism – and even Islam has degrees of adherence to principles, along with much else. But the point is, I think, that Christianity has made the effort, and proven the success, of it by adhering to such principles (through free enterprise and others supporting it) to bring more progress to the world than welfare ever has, or ever could. The old Chinese proverb: if you give a man a fish he can live for a day; if you teach him to fish he can feed himself for a lifetime.

I love it when things come together, at least for me; maybe not for you, but I’ll bet they will if you think about it.

Myrer: “read, think, disagree with everything if you like, but force your mind outward.” And
Truman, for that matter, (back to the Chinese proverb): there is no end to what we can accomplish, if we work together; not give to but work with; there is a difference. And of course, finally, I always have to throw this in because I love it; Campbell: ” let me be a little kinder, let me be a little blinder to the faults of those around me; let me praise a little more.” I love that one because I have been trying to implement it, and it feels so good; really – when it makes them feel good.

Ok, that’s enough for today; you get the point. At least I hope I have been able to share with you enough so you do. It all really is important, if you just think about it a little.

Competence? Experience? Ability?

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the October 18th, 2014

Why are persons selected for/appointed to positions of responsibility? Why do we elect people to positions of responsibility?

In free enterprise, that is a no-brainer. We might not always like who those people are; they might not even life up to their expectations. But the reason they are chosen for the position is almost always due to demonstrated competence, experience and ability. The reason why that is so is obvious; free enterprise has an objective: getting something done, and at a profit. There are exceptions, such as favoritism and nepotism, and they are not always unsuccessful, but they often are.

How is it elsewhere? Not quite the same, and there are lessons from that that should be learned, should we be interested in learning them.

Elsewhere such decisions are often not made for the same reasons – with the same objectives. Too seldom are competence, experience and ability criteria voters use for making their selections; even the reality of what candidates stand for is even not neccesairly a common motivation for selecting them at the ballot box. But I would suggest that similar is the situation with appointed officials in government, much more often selected for such things as loyalty, ideology or favoritism. Even name recognition may be used, or fame – or popularity. And then there are such things as diversity, faororing a particular emphasis, or even trying to balance any number of things someone feels that need to be balance. There are many reasons that such selections are made; unfortunately, expected competency to get the job done efficiently and effectively is often not major among them.

Why? Pick one, reasons are virtually endless.

Free enterprise is ruthlessly competitive; that is one of the reasons it is resented; it can be unforgiving; it is also the major reason it has achieved the success – for which all of us have benefited. But how about life? Survival? Can we tolerate incompetence in governing our nation? We can, and we do, but not because we welcome incompetence, lack of experience, and dearth of ability. Then why? The most obvious is not knowing any better, but right behind that comes lack of effort to find out. There are more: indifference, propaganda, even corruption – being conned, being blinded by some kind of fantasy; and because those appointing – or voting – think they have to prove something. There are many.

But it goes without saying that we suffer from the result. Many of those selected for positions of responsibility prove incapable of demonstrating that for which they have been allegedly been selected, to our detriment. So what should be done about that? To begin with, a little more care should be taken – a lot more – and when it comes to selecting the people who administer our government, either elected or appointed, we should all be concerned.

Ours is, after all, touted to be government of the people; the people should take more interest – more responsibility. Need I expound upon that? There should be no need to. But if we choose not to, the burden is upon us; we have to live with whatever consequences come from it, and we do.

Friendship, Community, Trust

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the October 17th, 2014

Are all of these factors; friendship, community and trust; diminishing?
There are indications that they are, but then perhaps it depends on how they are viewed.

Is friend-ing on Facebook friendship? How about families who sit around the TV (or TVs) in the evening; is this friendship? I was recently impressed by the words of a friend whose wife had recently died, looking around the neighborhood for someone to talk to, but finding nothing but blue lights flickering from the windows.

And what of the social network trend, where “friends” sit around tables and text one another (or others); can that be construed as friendship?

Trust is a tougher one. It is no wonder we are less trustful these days; it would be difficult to try and convince anyone that there is not greater cause for distrust. There are too many who seem to be willing to do whatever is necessary to to get what they want, even taking advantage when the opportunity presents itself, regardless of negatives. But trust is a critical part of our communal exchange.

Can we still trust people with which we have business transactions? How?

It is all community, is it not? The need for people to feel a part of something larger than self, even larger than family?
How is community generated? Are proliferating organizations, and joining them community?

We had a storm recently in my neighborhood, and neighbors came out to help the widowed lady who was the hardest hit; in fact her neighbor regularly cuts her grass and trims bushes. That is neighborliness, and I have seen other indications of neighborly cooperation and assistance. So it is still around, when friendship, community and trust exist and are considered to be important. How do we regenerate the feeling that once existed so extensively?

It is not an easy situation to address, partly because we have so many entertainment options that take the place of communities and personal friendships, and we are in such a hurry. But it must be addressed if we are to maintain what is most important for us to maintain, the mutually supporting relationships that make up what we call community. But it is a personal matter.

Everyone must WANT it to be. I contend that most do want it to be, but are not sure how to go about it. Take people busily walking by each other in grocery stores. Have you ever noticed what a smile can do, and the response it can generate. How about talking to someone in the check out line, or just a pleasant word to others in line or the clerk. How about talking pleasantly when doing business on the telephone. We are in such a hurry, we tend not to take the time, or we are preoccupied. Starting a deep discussion? No, just a pleasant comment, or better yet – a compliment. Isn’t it pleasant when people smile and say something nice? Not intrusive, just nice.

We all ought to try to do it more. It doesn’t take much. Call it reaching out, but it’s even less than that; it’s just being friendly, neighborly; it is community. It is a very necessary thing that we must work to not lose. It can make a big difference. Try it.

The Yin/Yang of Domocracy

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the October 17th, 2014

We like our leaders or we respect our leaders? Guess which it should be. There is a duality to “democracy” that seems to have been lost in recent times, particularly since “democracy” has spread throughout the world.

What, after all, is “democracy”? There is indication that it is more of a chimera than the reality developed either in ancient Greece or in the United States. Even Hamilton and Madison warned against the tyranny of majority. Is “democracy” majority rule? Many in developing democracies across the world seem to think so, and many in our country seem to be leaning that way today too. One man, one vote, one time comes to mind. The democratic republic of The Unite States should never be confused with just “democracy”.

Thus there is a yin/yang quality to democracy; it depends upon which side one is viewing. On one side it is individuality and liberty of the common man; on the other it is a cover for the strong to coerce the unaware though propaganda. U.S. democracy: balance/the rest of the world: elite (success/money/birth) power. Another way of saying that is reality versus fantasy. And the discouraging thing is that in The United States there is indication that reality is yielding more and more to fantasy, just as it is in other aspects of our culture. Fantasy, as I have said before, is having a greater and greater influence of our culture. Entertainment, and our fixation upon it, is an obvious example, but the growth of “BIG” everything; government, business, education, even entertainment itself are other even more prescient ones.

How so? We are attracted to what is “popular,” that is, what everyone else seems to be attracted to; we are caught up in the mass popularity of it, and have to be a part of it. And in terms of business it often translates to lower cost, meaning cheaper to buy. Cheaper has two meanings, however, cheap in terms of cost, and cheap in terms of quality. I fear that the loss of quality is being largely overlooked.

Education is an example of that, in my opinion. Big education is essentially a one size fits all mass effort at forcing equality, where no equality can ever exist, considering levels of intelligence, skill and talent; levels of motivation; levels of drive; levels of dedication. One size is likely to be reflected in mediocrity that comes with common denominator averaging. But so is “product” (including service) quality, where the economic advantages of size crowds out possible advantages of individual attention to detail, as we seek ever lower prices for goods and services, wherever and however delivered. Even entertainment shows its effects; it is difficult to argue that more massive presentation of entertainment has led to better quality.

I see it in a broader sense, however: I see it as a diluting of principles, principles meaning that which really matters as opposed to our current obfuscation of what it means; “principles”, today, again in my opinion, have become whatever we want them to mean, and whatever is convenient when using the term to support what we want them to mean.

And this takes us back to the yin/yang of democratic republican government: on the one side is the glitz of what we like; on the other side is the meaning of what matters. History is replete with examples, in many ways, and at different times. But one that might be overlooked is the example of what happens with elite domination, where the principles become what an elite wants them to be for all of us; usually they are different for them – the elite – than for the rest of us, but that’s the way power goes. Imposition of “principles” is not individual freedom of choice, because it crowds out choice.

So – yin/yang of democracy; yin/yang of culture: we need to understand which side we are looking at, and what the differences are, and why. And thus be appreciative of how fortunate we are – and not forget it.

Taking Ourselves Too Seriously

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the October 16th, 2014

“How quaint! Today, it’s our governing elites, regardless of party, who are most apt rush us into the future. Today, only personal power exercised from the top down, on a massive scale, seems to grant access to the experience of political greatness.” From an article by James Poulos in the Daily Beast entitled “Cult of the Presidency.” I won’t try to explain the details of the article, but partially it alluded to invoking future history to prove the rightness of particular policy.

It was a good article, and I recommend reading it; but that’s not my preferred point for the day. That point is, that in my opinion, there is a tendency of people these days to take themselves too seriously. Part of that is that it seldom occurs to any of them that they could be wrong; but more, they are so sure of their position that they feel the right, no the calling, to push it…….and push it, and push it.

I received a communication (snail mail) just a little while ago discussing the situation of a medical doctor In Montana. Montana had made legal providing medication to terminal patients to help them out of their misery. But he was being sued by nosy do-gooders convinced that what he was doing was not right; what’s more they were trying to get the law overturned and to have him prosecuted, hopefully to be found guilty and serve ten years in prison – for doing something that was legal- because they disagreed with it. He was defended by Compassion and Choice for whom contributions were being solicited, and they won; leaving the law on the books.

I suggest similar actions are being taken in support of many other positions; homosexuality being one, and perhaps abortion being another. I am not an admirer or homosexuality and find its blatant pursuance uncomfortable, but I have no problems with people who choose to pursue it privately. In fact I know several couples of this persuasion and find them quite lovely people; but they do not insist in pushing it in my face, or demanding I respect their lifestyle as I would more traditional co-habitations. I understand that part of the initial motivation had to do with sharing retirement benefits, and do not argue that that might not be valid, but suggest there are better, less blatant ways of going about it.

In fact I am particularly sympathetic with more mature women who might otherwise live alone electing to live with a companion; women in particular need companionship, and mutual nurturing; so why would anyone want to refer to that in terms of sexual relations; who cares? Men are a little different, because biologically men are predators; but are we to assume that two men who are living together are having sexual relationships? Again, who cares? But more to the point, why even bring sexual relationships and insistence that the be given equal respect, into the discussion?

I call that taking self to seriously, but specifically in terms of thinking that THEY, whoever they are, think their views MUST be the way things MUST be and that we, everyone else MUST all enthusiastically agree. Abortion is different, and one might want to argue deeper principle when it comes to taking the “life” of an unborn fetus, but I would contend there is strong similarity.

Perhaps it is the black/white nature of the situation: right or wrong. There probably are such, right/wrong positions, such as murder one, although circumstance might add extenuation to any argument; that’s why we have courts of law. But what of discussion? Have we lost the ability to discuss? To a great extent, I would argue we have: my way or the highway comes to mind; you are either with me or against me.

And that brings us to compromise, a gut-level requirement for legislative politics, the basis for governing in our democratic republic. Compromise means giving up something to get something; bartering if you will: I’ll give in on this if you give in on that. But compromise is suddenly as dastardly act, surrendering principle, even. That, to my mind, is taking self too seriously. It means my ideas, whatever they are, are above discussion; they are SACRED. More often than not, of course, that’s an arguing point, as no one wants to give up anything, particularly if it has to do with power, and might be construed as showing political weakness. But, agreement on a contentious point through compromise is political weakness? Once taken, such as position is…well, anti-American; that’s not the way we have achieved what we have achieved in bringing ourselves to the point we have come.

Taking Ourselves too seriously. I see it as an almost fatal flaw. And I also believe that there are better ways to live than going to the mat on every issue. Are we seeing some of that in today’s marriages? And might that not be part of the reason for high divorce rates, broken families and, as a result, struggling children without necessary family structure?

Life is not a stand-along proposition, and there are complex and complicated relationships among many not normally associated situations, some stronger, some weaker. But I would contend that it might be beneficial if we gave more credence to the fact that we all have shortcomings and seldom is any one of us all right and the other all wrong. A little more discussion might help, even a bit of compromising; but we don’t get there easily when each side takes self SO seriously and refuses to admit theirs’ is not 100% in the right.

I might even go so far as to say that is UN-American, and if we continue along that path it is unrealistic to think that our past success will continue. In fact, I think we are about there, and the only way out will be painful. But that’s what we have done to ourselves. Can we change back? Oh yes. Will we? Stay tuned, it’s up to us,

Democracy, Republic, Liberty

Posted in Uncategorized by jerry betts on the October 14th, 2014

I think I am seeing the emergence of a new maturity in our literature; literature may be an out-of-date term for it, but I use that for much of what I am reading today, including much well-presented and thoughtful essays I read on line. Because I want to, perhaps, we after all do tend to believe what we want to believe, I think I am seeing more philosophy in the mix than in the past. By philosophy I mean an attempt to see beyond regurgitation of information, and an attempt to add thought to it, something that has been a bit lacking in the recent past, due, I would contend, to overdose of entertainment styled reporting. I believe we deserve more; we desperately need more; we as a population must begin returning to thinking for ourselves.

I am reading Robert D. Kaplan’s book, Asian Caldron, rapidly realizing that Kaplan has become more philosopher than mere reporter. But I am seeing the same with Ben Domenech, The Transom, as he pulls together links from around electronic media and adds inciteful interpretations to them. Both The Transom and Stratfor (Kaplan, George Friedman and others) are blessed with astute staffs that contribute mightily, though are being shaped to do so by the thoughtful, experienced and philosophical bias of their mentors. Beyond that there are many more, an increasing number, in my view. Which leads into my subject for the day.

Democracy; I read something the other day, taken from Hamilton, I believe, from a Federalist article, about the difference between American republicanism and pure democracy. In a nutshell,it suggested that simple rule of the majority is little more than collective despotism, for many reasons. I suggest today that too few understand the difference, and if we continue will do so at our peril.

Simple rule of the majority is too often engineered by the elite through elaborate and technologically well supported (and well funded) propaganda, because too few of the rest of us either give much thought to, or have inadequate experience and knowledge to, reason to to our own independent conclusions. That speaks to ignorance, but also to laziness and complacency, as we take the path of least resistance. Independent thinking, after all, takes effort, and that effort, which leads to an informed electorate, was the assumption that underlies our American republic – and the concept of liberty which is it’s foundation.

Thus the title: democracy, republic, liberty. It deserves a great deal of serious consideration. And, back to Kaplan and Asian Cauldron, many Asian thinkers, including Lee Kuan Yew, understood that, realizing that one man, one vote and majority rule is not the end all that some think it is. Democracy, as it is currently, and naively, viewed is NOT the wonderful mirage in the sky that it is being ballyhooed to be; there must be more. Much to think about.

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