Like most things in my life this web page is a work in
progress or "under construction". For now it is a warehouse of sorts for
some of the philosophical commentary I hope to someday publish in more
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Besides being an insufferable "know-it-all," I am also a suffering artist so if you'd rather look than read or think, then please visit my gallery of sadly, mostly unsold, works of art.
All people see the world around them through glasses (lenses) made of their most basic beliefs. Even though we all exist in a common reality, pollutants like tints of Pollyanna rose, smudges of archaic dogma, and black plastic shields of ignorance and apathy make it impossible for any of us to see reality the same way. This has led to incompetent, wasteful government and mindless "moral" legislation that has only served to make life obscenely more expensive (in terms of suffering endured) than it is required to be.
My challenge, and what I hope you will decide to make our challenge, is to convince people to try a new set of glasses with lenses unclouded by comforting yet blinding impurities. If mankind is ever to escape its profoundly disappointing mediocrity, people must see the universe around them with logical clarity and stop reacting to the phantoms of distortion and illusion.
This paid editorial has been written and sponsored by individuals who share the belief that present law regarding an individual's right to control the time and manner of their death is not only disgustingly cruel but a violation of fundamental Constitutional and ethical principles. It is hoped that given the opportunity, those of you who already share this opinion, or who can be persuaded to see its truth, will help us take a stand in defense of this most basic right.
It seems a ludicrous imbecility to have to defend the idea that participation in "the game of life" should be voluntary. The fact that no one chooses to be born, or the circumstances of that birth, should be all that needs to be understood for a reasonable person to see the fairness of allowing competent individuals to decide if or how they play the cards they didn't ask to be dealt. It should not have to be explained to anyone that life is not a no-risk proposition or "gift." People pay for their life with the very real pain and suffering they endure. Life is not free or harmless and cannot be justifiably imposed on anyone capable of defining for themselves what price is worth paying.
Little concerning the meaning of life can be stated with absolute certainty. The First Amendment to the Bill of Rights protecting belief, speech, and the free exercise thereof is, in part, a recognition of that fact. Unfortunately this essential endorsement of the individual's right to self-determination is vulnerable to perverse interpretation. In the post-slavery, post-Darwin, post-Einstein world of the present, there are still clock-stoppers longing for the Dark Ages, who cannot accept that the realm of reasonable and, therefore, respectable belief has changed. "Protecting the faith" is no longer a legitimate State interest, and it cannot be justifiably considered a crime against reason, God, or the State to question the perceptions, values, and religious dogma of our long dead and undeniably ignorant ancestors.
Our imperfect, geography-based political system can leave ideological minorities that may number in the tens of millions powerless and without due representation in government. When undisciplined zealots are allowed by an apathetic electorate to define public policy and law, our democracy becomes vulnerable to becoming nothing more than a form of dictatorship, The issue of the right to die clearly exposes this vulnerability. A majority of Americans do not believe that it is unreasonable, or insane, for a person to see an unnecessarily sloppy death as a senseless, even obscene, waste of suffering. Neither do they express any desire to prevent a rationally competent individual from investing their own welfare in their own judgment. Yet the law does not reflect this fair-mindedness. Too large a percentage of the decent majority have abandoned their civil responsibilities and given their power to religious tyrants who have not realized that their moral high ground is sinking in ethical mud.
Not merely undisciplined by an intolerant lack of respect for the diversity
of opinion, the "right-to-lifers," who have seized control of our legislatures
and courts, must be seen for what they are: arrogant, insincere, sadistic
bigots. It is not the heart of some divine angel, but the heart of the Grand
Inquisitioner that beats in their chests. One need not look very hard at
the behavior of these "protectors" and "rescuers" to see their true motivation.
It is not the prospect of someone dying prematurely that offends their "loving
sensibilities," for as long as it is poverty and not some ungodly personal
beliefs doing the killing, they will see no tragedy. We live in a world where
millions of life-loving children will be maimed or die for lack of a few
pennies worth of food and medicine. Yet these "defenders of the helpless"
will celebrate the waste of billions of dollars imposing misery and the mere
cosmetics of life on catastrophically broken, resistant people and brain-dead
things that have no need or want for it. Too greedy and selfish to sacrifice
anything of their own, and desperate not to be seen as the faithless hypocrites
they actually are, this moralizing minority has chosen to slaughter on the
alter of their God the stolen dignity and liberty of the suffering and dying.
This is all more than just misguided and illogical, it is sick and deserves
your active condemnation.
I hope this figurative description of our election process will have piqued your curiosity and made you willing to give me a fair opportunity to prove its factual foundation. I realize that I have crossed the proverbial line for most patriotic Americans when I dare to claim that their revered Constitution is at all imperfect, let alone fundamentally flawed. Unfortunately, my respect for the truth compels me to take many more steps past that line and state quite emphatically that our system of government is an unethical sham and undeserving of description as any form of democracy--particularly a "representative" democracy. The ugly, cold fact is "We the People" are prisoners of a party-controlled, money-corrupted, geographically perverted majoritarian dictatorship where the essential principles of "one man, one vote," "fair and proportional representation," and "real choice" have no meaning. The evidence of this reality is as obvious as a naked emperor to anyone with an honest eye. For example, you don't need a degree in political science or law to see the inherent unfairness and undemocraticness of these basic facts.
The Senate gives 53 times more representation and power to an individual living in Alaska (pop. 570,000) then it gives to an individual living in California (pop. 30 million).
There is no practical likelihood that there would be a single black representative in Congress or the Senate if it were not for racial segregation. In other words, the more geographically integrated a minority (philosophical, religious, or ethnic) the less hope it has to achieve any, let alone fair and proportional, representation in government.
To vote for a third party or alternate candidate you must risk throwing your vote away and potentially sabotaging the candidacy of your next best choice.
The first, and I would claim most important, role of government (especially for governments that are going to label themselves a democracy) is to provide a fair and equitable mechanism for the distribution of government's power. The goal must be to consolidate, as representatively as practicality permits, the whole population, in all its diversity, into a manageable number of truly representative voices and to give those voices their earned seat at the table of government control. Our system fails to satisfy this fundamental requirement because it relies on old short cuts that in a changed world have become unacceptably unfair.
One such short cut is to elect representatives regionally or geographically. In America of 1776 few people traveled, let alone lived more than ten miles from the place of their birth. Communities were almost literally families of ethnic and ideological purity. In this segregated environment, using regional elections to choose national representatives made some sense. It gave most individuals a fair shot at gaining proportional representation for their point of view and also satisfied the practical limitations of 18th century technology. In today's highly mobile integrated society, the use of this sloppy and intrinsically flawed election mechanism does catastrophic damage to the credibility of our system of government. If ours is going to be a truly great nation, people must stop tolerating a system that sees its citizens as possessions of a territory rather than as possessors of a unique and distinct personality. People aren't where they live, they are what they believe, and their beliefs deserve a fair voice and, if need be, a fair fight. Having open truly national, federal elections would make real the unfulfilled promise of fair representation and give new hope to the tens of millions of citizens who have lost all reason, if not their will, to participate in the election process. The present system uses arbitrary state and gerrymandered district lines to tie residents to representatives they didn't vote for. However, we can have a system where every member of the House and Senate would be required to earn the support and vote of all (100%) of there constituency--a system were no citizen loses an election because no candidate is able to steal their vote or right to representation by winning a narrow majority. As an added bonus such a system would virtually eliminate the nationally destructive, regional competition that now takes place for control over our modern country's porkishly large military and infrastructural budgets.
Another short cut that critically flaws our election process is the establishment of a non-transferable vote. To have any real meaning or usefulness, the right to vote must come with the real freedom to vote your true preference. No citizen's vote should be prematurely or unnecessarily disqualified merely because their "first" choice of the candidates becomes inviable. Put another way, the total votes cast for all the losers of an election should not be allowed to exceed the total cast for the leader, and if they do, the votes of the lesser candidates must be redirected or given to one of the remaining candidates until one achieves an actual majority. Logistically there are many ways to implement a transferable vote system. The simplest would be to allow voters to indicate a second or third choice on their ballot and direct their vote accordingly. Implementation of such a system would liberate voters to vote for third or no-party candidates without fearing that they might be throwing their vote away, or that their honest vote might deny the more favorable of the remaining candidates a chance of winning. This would, in turn, reduce the choking hold the two major parties have over the system and give all candidates a clear view of the actual sentiments of the electorate.
By combining open, truly national elections with a transferable vote we can have "representation without segregation," and our government can be made to honestly reflect who we are, rather than what we are made to seem through the fog of compromise and disenfranchisement. All that is required is the application of a little computer technology, and the willingness to give "the people" real control over the process.
The following is a simple outline of how an open national election might work. No doubt substantial time and thought will have to be given to the design of any new system, but there is little point in describing and debating details until popular support for the overall direction is achieved.
The only good news about NAFTA is that its primary victim, the American worker, is already essentially dead. How Congress votes on NAFTA won't define American trade policy and it won't undo the damage that was done more than a decade ago when Americans were allowed to, and did, choose less expensive, higher quality, cheap labor produced foreign consumer goods over preserving the quality and existence of their next door neighbor's job. NAFTA is only one symptom of the real disease--the greed, selfishness, and stupidity of Americans. For centuries this Country has exploited the world's abundance of desperate poverty and surplus of low or no skilled labor. From slavery through the sweatshops of the early 1900's to today's migrant worker, many Americans have not seen and do not see any reason to place any ethical restraints on capitalism--that is, until their standard of living or dignity is threatened. In the past, we as a nation could afford to have no conscience, because what we were exploiting and raping was someone else's land and someone else's children. But that vulture has come home to roost. The third world is now capable of more than just cutting cane and digging ore. Their people are not as ignorant or as unskilled, but unfortunately, their governments have left them just as poor and just as desperate. What NAFTA will do is speed up the importation of that desperation. It will, in essence, inject into our economy some 40 million underemployed workers without substantially, or even marginally, increasing the demand for products. This will undeniably place tremendous downward pressure on salaries, benefits, environmental and safety regulation, and even the minimum wage. But that's really the whole idea. The supporters of NAFTA and supporters of America's trade policy in general want two things: lower wages and increased demand for investment capital--because that means higher profits and a greater return on the wealth they have already acquired. In other words, because that means the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. That's the road we're travelling. All this pro-NAFTA and free trade bullshit about "America's need to compete in the global economy" means only one thing--lowering or eliminating the few standards of decency this nation has regarding the rights and dignity of the average worker. At present the richest 1% of Americans own 40% of this nation's wealth. You would think they'd be satisfied with that disgrace and wouldn't need to be reaching into the working person's pocket for more.
I thoroughly resent having to write this no doubt pointless letter. But being a true democrat devoted to the ethics of honesty, justice, and liberty, I am compelled to respond in some way to the outrageous comments you have made regarding cigarette smoking. As I see it, cold hard facts not mushy rhetoric (propaganda) should lie at the foundation of all public policy, and law. So, I ask the question - How do you defend your words and actions in light of the following facts?
In conclusion, it has been a sad realization for me that I helped get elected to the U.S. senate a man who is either profoundly misinformed or a disgraceful liar. Whichever is true, with "steal-from-the-poor-to-give-to-the-rich" legislators like you representing it, the Democratic Party has gone to hell, and as far as I am concerned you as one of its destroyers, can go there too.
The republican wave that swept the nation in November has created a swamp of duplicity where the stench of hypocrisy lies thick in the air. From sleazy book deals to the rotten logic of "tax relief for the rich," waste and decomposition have come to define the American political landscape.
Recently trapped in this bog that is the Republican's "promised land", is the ark of PBS. Apparently receiving a 15% taxpayer subsidy makes it too much of a ship to traverse King Newt's shallow swamp. So swamp logic demands that we dismantle it, and cast programs like Sesame Street and Barney, McNeil/Lehrer and Nova adrift on rafts to be blown by the winds of popular whim and commercial interest. I guess that's how you define progress in an unevolving world.
What adds irony to this tragedy, and makes the hypocrisy visibly thick, is the roll C-span has played in helping Newt "renew" what is his definition of civilization. Wholly financed by the involuntary contributions of cable subscribers, C-span is by any objective standard the most illegitimately financed of all the cable channels, yet it remains afloat. Why hasn't King Newt and his Newtlett army thrown the corrosive slime of their unyielding capitalist principles at C-span? Doesn't a tax by any name steal the same? The answer is that like other welfare programs for the rich, including most of the military budget, C-span is part of Newts playground, a "sandbox" ( to use Newty's own words ) where he and his elitist friends can shut out the poor and disenfranchised, and plot their rule - without having to obey the laws of swamp life they are trying to impose on everyone else.
Re: Telecast of February 20, 1993: The Incredible Discovery of Noah's Ark
Dupont had Bhopal, Exxon had the Valdez, and for me, CBS will forever be known as the network that broadcast "The Incredible Discovery of Noah's Ark," the most disgusting piece of mindless propaganda I have ever had the misfortune of viewing on network television. You might think it excessive of me to compare the broadcast of this obscure piece of crap with these disasters that caused such visually stunning death and destruction. But the real truth is, that compared to what you have done, these great disasters were merely minor mishaps.
While it is true that you may not have directly caused the death of any human flesh, to bring this "gather round and get retarded family entertainment" to the public, you are, as I see it, most certainly responsible for the essential murder of billions of brain cells and the tragic destruction of perhaps millions of minds. What you did was to effectively serve up to every gullible viewer (especially the children) a nice, tall glass of lead paint (causes brain damage, you know) and, in turn, put another long nail in the coffin of archaic dogma and ignorance that confines the true magnificence of human intelligence and prevents mankind from seeing, let alone attaining, a greater destiny.
This program committed an unforgivable violation of the principles of honesty and fairness, and was a disgraceful slander to the enlightening and beautifully empowering disciplines of science that were implied to be a party to this wholly fraudulent "discovery." I suppose living in a society that so values salesmanship over workmanship, I should not be surprised that people are willing to use any kind of lie in their desperate efforts to validate their insipid beliefs. But knowing I should expect it, does not make it any easier to accept. When I witnessed the segment of the program in which they placed a crude three-foot replica of the "Ark" in a tank of water and then maintained that because it remained afloat, they had conclusively proven the seaworthiness of an actual ark of "biblical proportions," I felt my brain cry and another piece of what little remaining hope I have for the human race to escape its dismal mediocrity, fall to the pit of my stomach.
I'll spare you all the technical reasons (after all, what interest could a network employee have in anything educational) why the laws of physics render this demonstration utterly useless as a source of understanding. Suffice it to say, the fact that I could build a three-foot replica of the Empire State Building out of popsickle sticks does not prove that I could build the actual building out of wood. I only wish I had the resources required to build a life-sized Ark and to book passage for all of you responsible for the production and broadcast of your "Incredible Discovery" and force all of you to put your lives behind the lies you sold the viewing public.
Finally, George Bush might have lost the election, but it would appear that Dan Quayle has won a decisive victory. I'm assuming that this "Robertsonian" (Pat Robertson) piece of propaganda crap and the subsequent CBS-sponsored 800 number ( never saw that before!) was all intended to appease the cultural un-elites' offense over Murphy Brown. Well, if you thought this was a fair exchange, then Dan Quayle was right, and it truly is a "terrible waste to have a mind."
The American health care system is sick because it is infested with parasites. Whole industries and too many individuals are feeding off the system and giving nothing in return for the blood they steal. The good news is that the largest of these parasites, the Insurance Industry, has created the environment that has allowed the smaller feeders to take hold. So, if we can detach it, we can free the system from them all.
To understand just how perverse and counterproductive the American health insurance industry has become, I think it would be helpful to look at what insurance could and is really supposed to be. Insurance is essentially an agreement among a group of individuals to: by paying into a group fund, reduce the catastrophic potential of a risk they all face as individuals. The principle is really quite simple--by sharing the weight of some burden, a group can insure that it harms or crushes no individual.
Imagine for a moment that our bodies were homes that we owned, and that ill health was the natural disaster of fire, flood, or hurricane. How would we protect ourselves from the potentially ruinous cost of repairing or rebuilding if disaster were to strike? Well, we could each as individuals attempt to save up the huge nest egg that would be required to cover the cost of anything more than the smallest of repairs, but that would be as stupid as each of us attempting to build a second (spare) home. It would be a terrible waste of valuable resources and would leave most of us unprotected for most, if not all, of our lives. The only sensible solution is to face the problem as a group and take advantage of the empowering efficiencies of creating a common defense. But, to make insurance work, we must do more than merely accept it as the most sensible solution--we must make it fair. For me, this means all people covered by our community umbrella must be required to make a proportional contribution to its creation and maintenance-- proportional not only to their wealth, but to their expectations and their behavior.
In our imagined world, as in the real world, people live in very different houses--some more or less vulnerable to disaster, some more or less extravagant and expensive to repair. Obviously, the person living in a hollowed-out log needs, and will get, far less from the system than the person living in the gilded palace, and how much that person is required to pay into the system must reflect that difference. In other "real world" words, people who expect, want, or feel they need extraordinary, even heroic medical treatments should as a group be required to pay the extraordinary costs of these treatments. Likewise, people who feel it is necessary to protect and maintain the "life" of any form of human flesh regardless of the functional state of its mind or its recognizability as a truly "living" person, should be required to exclusively pay the high price for their high morality.
The person who desires (or has use for) little more from the health care system than a reasonably soft bed to die in or who sees no grace in a body living one day longer than its mind should not be obliged to spend his life paying premiums to subsidize what he might well view as another person's wasteful, even cruel, extravagance. For insurance to work, any added costs to the system must be felt by those responsible for them. Similarly, any individual initiative that reduces costs must be rewarded. For costs to be controlled, the system must be allowed to react to behavior.
Which brings me to the subject of a "behavior" that is in more need of a reaction than any other--the behavior of the recklessly reproducing poor. In our imagined world, these people could aptly be described as pyromaniacs, and unmatched by any natural disaster in their ability to destroy. In the real world, society has allowed these people to use the innocence of a child to essentially blackmail it into allowing their free participation in, and abuse of the system. I believe the system must be allowed to react. It must be allowed to make these people feel some measure of the excessive burden they create. At minimum it should be made known to all potential reproducers that there individual right to create and raze children ends when all peoples responsibility to protect children begins. In the extreme perhaps if we made a few parents and grandparents legally liable for the crimes and other social costs of there progeny, and sent some off to jell or work camps, some potential teen mother might think before perpetuating or beginning a cycle of irresponsibility.
The inability of the present health care system to impose responsibility and, in turn, create fairness is also made evident by its treatment of the rich. Tax breaks and a premium rate structure that is not adjusted to income has made the contribution of the wealthy to the community health care defense feeble and non-existent as a real sacrifice. While "Joe Working-Man" has to significantly compromise his lifestyle to pay 10, 20, or perhaps 30% of his income for health insurance coverage, the average rich man might pay 1/100th of that percentage and compromise nothing. Wealth provides many privileges but it should not buy exemption from all community work. It does not make one an evil socialist to belive that it is sometimes appropriate for our debts to the "public interest" to be assessed based on our ability to pay.
To give all of this some relevance to the current health care debate, I do not see anything in the Clinton plan or any alternatives offered by the Republicans that meets my standard of constructive reform. From Clinton's business payroll tax (which as everybody should know will only really regressively tax employees and consumers and would only make the unfairnesses in the system worse) to the Republican non-alternatives of leaving things as they are or arbitrarily cutting entitlements , I see nothing that addresses the real sources of waste and unfairness in the system. Real reform must provide choice and impose responsibility. It must also allow us to make our "agreement with each other" without having to pay exorbitant executive salaries, obscene advertising budgets, incomprehensible legal expenses, the unjustifiable costs of clerical minutia, and for downright immoral health industry profits.
If we can agree that two directly contradictory descriptions of a given reality cannot both be true, then I am going to assume that you are already willing to concede what logic demands, that the majority of the world's religious people have an inaccurate understanding of life's origin and meaning or, at minimum, have misidentified which God is God. The question I would ask you, the believer, is if we know most religious people have got it wrong, why should anyone believe any have got it right?
The dependency of the vast majority of religions on 2,000 plus year old descriptions of reality is, in a word, incredible. It defies rational judgment for any twentieth century person to accept without question the perceptions, conclusions, and in turn, beliefs, of people who didn't know the size or shape of the earth they walked on, or what stars were, or what a microbe was, or how sound and light were created and moved, or even how to build a decent outhouse. The average present-day five-year-old has a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of reality than the wisest of B.C. men, so shall we immortalize the babble of children, or worse, let their judgment decide the destiny of mankind and life on earth?
The illegitimacy of faith as a source of understanding is made evident by the fact that the dictionary definition of faith: "trust or belief without reason or absent evidence" could appropriately be used to define insane. This fact speaks for itself, but I will add a clarification. Being psychologically complex, humans are vulnerable to the useless and often unproductive emotion of worry--it is a kind of insanity that can be legitimately diminished by the similar insanity of faith or blind trust (positive thinking). Unfortunately, like all concessions we make to aid the needy, faith is abusable. When believers use the excuse of faith to avoid having to rationally defend their belief in God, or belief in a particular religion, they commit the philosophical equivalent of illegitimately using a handicapped parking space. A person's basic beliefs determine their actions, and in turn, their effect on others. Does not the responsibility that comes with that power oblige them to be willing to rationally defend those beliefs?
Religious belief is more a manifestation of the human animal's conditionable psychology than of the ability of human beings to reason (think logically, philosophically). Like a food preference or damaged piece of DNA, the overwhelming majority of people inherit their religion from their parents and/or culture. It is a sad irony that the average person applies more objective thought and judgment to their decision to purchase a particular household appliance than they do to their decision to accept a fundamental philosophical understanding of life's origin and meaning.
Indoctrination is not reasoned persuasion, and the belief it creates, like any bigotry, is emotionally strong, but incredibly transparent as a philosophy. For example, in spite of being promised "eternal bliss in the light of God," there are no people more uncomfortable with the prospect of their own mortality or more desperate to evade it than those who profess to be "true believers." Likewise, what percentage of "good Christians" has demonstrated any willingness to "forsake all material goods and follow Jesus Christ." The insecurity and lack of real confidence made evident by the actions of most "God-lovers" makes their arrogance all the more offensive.
From my perspective, proving the non-existence of God requires only that I explain why people cling to the concept of a Creator when they don't really believe in it. It is no easy task to provide in this limited space a psychological analysis that is going to be applicable to all the billions of uniquely individual people who profess belief in God, but I can make some generalizations relevant to most.
As I implied earlier, it is emotion, not logic or reason, that attracts people to religion. Like all conscious animals, humans are driven by feelings which are, in essence, a kind of "opinion" or judgment expressed by the crudest parts of our brains. Controlled by instinct or conditioning, these opinions have no intellectual credibility, but they can exclusively decide what we love, hate, desire, and fear. Through exposure and association, we attach things to things and ultimately things to feelings, but our exposure is seldom complete or fair. We "judge books by their covers" and ideas by the face of the person speaking them. To be continued...
. As I see it, before we even attempt to persuade the people (and in turn the politicians) that a given social or economic policy or law is right or wrong, I (or we) must first persuade them to except the most basic of facts concerning what it means to be a member of the community of conscious beings. You can't build anything of substance on a foundation of mush, and unfortunately, after centuries of inherited dogma and bigotry, that's all the average human has to support their understanding of the world around them.
The following is a list of some of the basic facts I believe a person must accept, if they are going to have any hope of viewing any issue in anything approaching a realistic context.
1) Consciousness imposes upon us two fundamental faculties:
2) Without the vulnerability consciousness bestows, there would be no good or evil, and ultimately no meaning in, or to, the universe.
3) We have a responsibility to use the power of our minds to logically expand our understanding, to define ethical, sensible goals, and likewise, just means to achieve those goals--not merely as a scheming tool to achieve the fulfillment of crude, erroneously conditioned, personal desires.
4)Life is neither a gift nor a game, it comes with real and serious risks and responsibilities, and should never be endured involuntarily or taken unethically.
5) "All men are created equal." In other words, one man's (person's) happiness is not worth more, or is not more of a blessing to the universe then any other man's (person's). In still other words, it doesn't matter who does the suffering (pays), you, I, or them. All that matters is that suffering is being endured and that we recognize that a price is being paid.
6) "One should do unto others as they would have others do unto them." DUH!!!!
7) Nature, that is undeniably part of us all, is made up of moving matter and crude physical forces that lack the wisdom and compassion our admiration and respect should require. . .
The past is unchangeable, the present fleeting, the future is everything, and the future needs wise planning. To be more specific: There must be a change in how "We The People" think if there is going to be a change in how our government functions, and acts. Inept, wasteful, harmful government is a symptom of a sick society that doesn't have the will or wisdom to demand something better.