To The Daily Sun,
Having followed recent presidential campaign debates, there are seemingly two approaches to the future. One camp posits that their opponents are doody-heads. This strategy apparently covers all issues — domestic, international, fiscal. Among its doody-heads, the other camp, it seems to me, at least tries to frame and discuss real issues. You can tell which camp I return to every night. But that's not why I'm here today ...well, okay, it is.
In my 66 years of muddling around on planet earth, certain aspects of the American condition are starting to jell:
1. All human institutions become corrupt from too much money and power. The hominids they are supposed to serve inevitably get left behind as institutions become self-serving. As proof, I challenge you to examine any institution — banks, government, industry, religion. I won't bother you with details if you have been reading the headlines since, say, the end of World War II. Go back farther if you are feeling scholarly.
2. Government is littered with Elmer Gantry types (read the novel...) who, smelling vast indifference and confusion on the part of the electorate, have decided that this is their carpetbagging chance of a lifetime.
I used to be furious with politicians who failed the cross-over to becoming statesmen. Now it's the non-voters who must be shamed for leaving the flood gates wide open to these miscreants. And then having the gall to state that they don't care anymore because the system has somehow been rigged and nobody cares about them. Hey, for those folks, let's just let these creeps destroy us ... don't care, remain uninformed and don't vote.
3. As proof of an ill-informed and blind electorate, I give you the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. Why is selling elections somehow okay? Probably because most people I speak with don't know anything about Citizens United. For the uninitiated, this relatively recent ruling effectively removes any and all restrictions on funding (read B-U-Y-I-N-G) elections. Previous to this decision, minimal sums of money could be donated to politicians. You had to publicly declare how much you were contributing and who you were. It was a sensible way to help keep elections free of interest-group (i.e., non-electorate) obligations.
Now, Super PAC "funding" allows, for example, Saudi Arabian princes-you know, the ones who support U.S. assistance in one of their pockets, and, radical Muslims from the same pocket — to silently back the president of their choice. Industrial kingpins, the Mafia, etc. can donate without limit or identity. What's that you say? This has always been true? I'm a naïve doody-head? That's your argument?
4. "Reaching for The Bar" has disappeared. It meant that you teach children to pursue life beyond mere self-interests. It was a smart way to help move human society forward. It has also acted to preclude hubris (i.e., an ancient concept about thinking and acting like you are much better than anything else in the universe, including God or "The Donald"). It was practiced all around the Western World. Somewhere along the way, the modern realists ("Do unto others before they do it to you...") got a stranglehold and — well, you know — long-standing ethical behaviors took it on the chin. I can refer you immediately to the Ghost of Christmas Present and introduce you to the Twin Pillars of Grief — Want and Ignorance. It's amazing how much stuff Santa can carry around.
Moving forward, at least one company recently banned Salvation Army people from storefronts during Christmas for blocking store traffic. As an example of going from bad to worse, materialism, a staple of the American spiritual diet, has given way to gross acquisition (the 1 percent crowd you hear about). By the way, Gross Acquisition robs capitalism of capital. No? Not true? Rah-rah trickle-down? Then consider this: Say you have three bull mastiffs. You toss one a hot dog in the certainty that he will share it with the others. From a different angle, say you have a gas engine but there's no gas. How strong does that economy run?
5. "Future Shock" is alive and well. Written by Alvin Toffler in the 1960s, this popular book chronicles the dizzying rate of change in modern society, its' effects and the uncertainty and fear it fosters. Witness the wildly successful political ploy to keep the fossil fuel industry at status quo. I, of course, speak of climate change denial. You don't have to fear or care about it — you merely pretend it doesn't exist. The same politicians who embrace and champion modern science — electronics, engineering marvels, high tech, atomic energy, medicine, etc. — have decided to disgrace hundreds of scientists. Why? Because of obscene Super PAC dollars from energy giants who have long since abdicated their duty to nurture 21st century energy programs and applications. "Progress" is no longer their middle name. The "...it costs too much money..." scam is over. How much will the delay in those energy investments cost down the road?
Answer: an amount we cannot afford. Just visit other Western countries who invest in themselves. Just speak with Elon Musk or Warren Buffet (or look them up..). Or, ask your favorite Citizens United/Super PAC-backed congressman. Your choice.
In short, basic human ethics have been forgotten and ignored. They are not just an old set of stifling rules. They encompass the entire wisdom base of human behavior. They are the well spring of religion, science and progress. They have provided the matrix to propel civilization throughout the ages.
Revive ethical behavior and American pragmatism. Stop being afraid, sit up straight, use your brains and exercise your adult instincts. Nostalgia for things that largely never existed confuses thousands of voters and fuels the carpetbagger Congress. The next election depends on the silent electorate to seek and actively vote on positive, defined and pragmatic attempts to build the future we want. As good as it might feel to punch fear and uncertainty in its facial apparition, doody-head politics and the cancer of interest-groups are killing us.
P.S. – If this article seems reasonable, please strongly consider Bernie Sanders for president. The New Hampshire Primary is on Feb. 9. Get out and vote for your interests — not theirs.
Paul B. Utiger
- Category: Letters
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