My Work

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What Civics Class?

I’m wondering if what we’re seeing in Washington right now isn’t fall out from a failure in our education system to teach civics, government, politics.  There has never been a time that “all or nothing” has worked in a political system unless that system was led by a dictator.

Many years ago, most educational systems gave up on teaching civics.  Why that happened is a mystery to most, but it has led to more than one generation not knowing how government works, and some of those uneducated in the practice are now serving in congress.  It has also led to many people only participating in elections during the presidential cycle.

There is a tremendous lack of knowledge on the three segments of our government, the legislative, that is, congress, judicial, the court system with the supreme court the last stop, and the president.  Less seems to be known of our constitution, the Bill of Rights, even the Declaration of Independence.

All of this can be seen in how many in the Tea Party movement feel about government and its workings.  As much can be seen by the Occupy people.  When our leadership consists of those uneducated in government leadership, we have our current situation:  All or Nothing.  A government that is supposed to represent the citizens of the country must be able to reach decisions by way of compromise, it cannot operate by decree or you have what is described as dictatorship.

Many in the ultra liberal wing of the democrat party believe strongly in socialism, want government to be the all knowing master of all things, but to have that, those representing the government must be educated in how government works.  Many in the ultra conservative wing of the republican party feel most government operations must be curtailed or ended, but again, without a full knowledge of how our government works, and why, simple decrees won’t work.

Leadership carries a heavy burden, which includes education, courtesy, respect for the opposition, and the ability to compromise, otherwise, anarchy and dictatorship becomes the law of the land.  We’re seeing a failure of leadership at most levels of government.  Police out of control because of a lack of leadership; states, cities and counties near bankruptcy from a lack of those in power willing to make the hard decisions; congress unable to see past their own political ambitions; and an electorate unwilling to make the smallest effort to know who they are voting for and why.

Our problems aren’t a failure of the free enterprise system or representative democracy, our problems are a failure of our educational system.  Personal responsibility, personal ethics, and respect for our fellow beings is not practiced in big business or politics.  It isn’t taught in MBA programs or law classes.  Government isn’t taught in grammar, high, or university schools.

If we don’t make changes to those systems, in the words of one Star Wars character, “We’re doomed.”

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving and Other Thoughts

A celebration of the harvest, a time set aside to say thanks for what we have, and to give some serious thought to what we want.  Despite the Patriot Act, we are still the one nation that prides itself on personal freedoms and our elections are not fraught with the corruption of so many other countries.  All, of course, is not rosy: an economy that is filled with danger from arrogant bankers and other Wall Street sharks; potential wars and conflicts in the Middle East; leadership, and a lack of, that is more prone to represent those that pay the most rather than those that vote; and a huge denial from too many that our world has been seriously damaged by the industrial revolution and our dependence on carbon based fuels.

Many of these problems have large fangs and are about to bite us in our posteriors soon, and others, with equally large fangs, will do their biting over a long period of time, but all can be corrected with proper leadership, education, and effort.  Congress and the president need to force oversight of banking, investing, and trading, for starters.  Those involved in those trades need to be forced into situations where simple ethics are the controlling factors. 

Remember when you got your first license to drive?  “This license to drive is not a right, it is a privilege, and as such, can be taken away.”  Or words of a similar nature were probably explained to you.  Trading, lending, developing are not rights, they are privileges, and the rules need to be re-written and enforced.  For the money industry to have imploded as it did indicates a complete lack of oversight by those in charge.  Was it accidental?  As is so often said in any investigation, follow the money.  Those responsible for the oversight were put in office by large amounts of money from the trading, lending, and development industries.

The Occupy Movement, while indicating an involvement by citizens is going after the wrong people.  How many of those throwing bricks and rocks at the cops have voted for a representative to serve them?  Those are the scoundrels, those in congress and other high political office.  The economic gurus are doing what they do because they can, because they bought the necessary representation.  To paraphrase: “it’s Congress, Stupid!”  Too few people take the time or make the effort to discover where the campaign money comes from.  Campaign finance laws and rules are written by those campaigning, so to follow the money has been made as difficult as possible.

It isn’t a case of not understanding science when politicians say that a warming of the earth isn’t really happening, it’s a case of who is paying them to say that.  There is no such thing as clean coal.  There is no such thing as a burning petroleum product not giving off tons of carbon dioxide.  As long as our major industries and life styles are based on carbon based fuels, we will continue to warm the atmosphere until there is another mass extinction.  It won’t be dinosaurs that will disappear, but well over seven billion humans, which then will create a new source of oil a few million years down the line.

The mess in the Middle East is so intricate and involved, it has to be a safe bet that we will have a standing military presence for many years to come.  It started following WWI when the British simply carved up nations, gave them names, and left.  That problem was exacerbated following WWII when the state of Israel was created.  And, actually, it all began back in the Crusades eras.  Between political Tomfoolery and religious zealotry, it’s more than doubtful that anyone alive today will see peace in the area.

At the Gunn household, there are many things for us to be thankful, among them good health, no wealth, warm fires, and a full pantry.  Our harvest this year didn’t match that of last year, but we have much canned and frozen, we have enough in the wood pile to reach what should be spring, we have children that we love and cherish, and most important, we have each other.  From us, have a happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dishing it out

I have been under the opinion that cable providers were required to carry local programming when available, but apparently that isn’t necessarily so for satellite providers.  Dish Network no longer provides Reno’s KTVN, Channel two, and that is simply not right.  Yes, it is free over the air, but that isn’t what I pay for. 

KTVN is the one source in the morning that employs a professional weather person, not a weather reader, and is the first source during a storm to update their information.  Seems to me that I’m being denied because Dish can deny me.

On another note.

The Reno Gazette-Journal’s coverage of Nevada Day activities was the worst of any newspaper in the state.  A political commentary was the extent of their coverage, so once again, I’ve been short changed because I bought the Sunday paper to see some of the grand sights that took place during the activities.  The days of Warren Lerude and Frank Johnson are truly dead.

And yet another quick note.

Good news on the writing front.  My short story, “Three Fingered Jack”, has been published in the e-zine Rope and Wire.  Go to scroll down to traditional short stories and click on that.  Good way to start the month.

Have a great day, read good books, and stay regular …