It’s All About Obama?…

barack obamaWow!  According to pretty much the entire media industry, Obama was given a stern rebuke by we voters, akin to getting his hand slapped by his body-politic mothers for dipping one too many times into the cookie jar.

Wow, are they wrong.

As much as both the “liberal” media and the conservative Republicans want us to believe voting outcomes were about Obama – anti “Obamacare”; anti Obama compromises; anti Obama big government – this mid-term election overhaul was in fact about nothing more than people being unhappy and believing the only power they had to do something about it was to vote out members of the ruling majority.

And the truly unfortunate reality of doing so, is voters kind of did the nose-cutting-off-face thing, having not done their homework on what they got from the major legislation enacted while those folks were in office.  And what they could now lose after “voting out the bums…”  Here’s just a few:

  • The healthcare legislation as it stands will reduce the deficit by an estimated $138 billion over 10 years (according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office), and new healthcare plans will be required to cover preventive services with little or no cost to patients
  • The financial regulatory reform law restricts the ability of banks whose deposits are federally insured, from trading for their own benefit, so never again will we see banks trading on their own financial securities like mortgage-backed assets, the big-bank pocket-stuffing practice that precipitated the credit crisis, thus the Great Recession in 2008
  • The EPA’s power to reduce greenhouse gasses shown conclusively to be harmful to our health (such as high levels of mercury & lead spewed from coal-burning plants) as reinforced by the US Supreme Court

Finally, if that doesn’t convince you, here’s an excerpt from a recently published article about possible changes to the healthcare legislation that will be attempted by many of our newly elected, on favstocks.com:

“Congress might attempt to dismantle the bill piece by piece.  One provision that many people want to remove is the individual mandate, which will require most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a tax penalty.  This provision also kicks in in 2014, and it’s one that Baby Boomers in particular will want to fight to keep.

Here’s why: Beginning in 2014, private insurance companies will no longer be able to refuse to insure someone because of a pre-existing condition.  But without an individual mandate, there will be no incentive for younger and healthier people to purchase health insurance until the time comes when they need it.  This means those left in the insurance “risk pool” will be older, and that drives up the cost of insurance.

By the time we reach 50, nearly all of us have “pre-existing conditions.”  Some of our conditions are common, and some are not – mesothelioma, for example, is rarely diagnosed in patients younger than 50.  And without Medicare or other good insurance, mesothelioma treatment would be financially devastating.

But without the individual mandate requiring that healthier people share in the cost of insuring all of us, the health insurance premium bills for people aged 50 to 65 will be ruinous.”

A Fairy Tale for the Silent Majority

Once upon a time, in a land that was the mightiest throughout the world, the people in charge known as “Boomers” became very disgruntled and returned to their roots of activism; well, actually, only a small number of them did, but the media made it seem like it was lots & lots of them…

Yes, the protestors, on the extreme of both sides of the political divide, became very ugly…ooops, uh, vocal… about their unhappiness with many things the rulers of the land were doing, things like:

  • Passing “health care reform” where the peoples’ money was to be used to keep lots & lots of loyal subjects from, well, dying because they couldn’t afford care
  • Or not passing the part of health care reform called the “public option” whereby all subjects get government backed insurance no matter what
  • Or being too hard…or too soft… on a problem called “illegal immigration” whereby millions of people from another land called “Mexico” sneak in without permission to get work that no one else wants, but also get publicly funded healthcare and education…

These protestors were portrayed by the mainstream media as representing what most people of the land believed.

But low and behold, they were actually:

  • only 24% of all Republican voters, and only 20% of all Democratic voters
  • Boomers who were overwhelmingly White & male
  • Boomers who were retired or semi-retired so they had lots of time on their hands
  • or Boomers who were unemployed so they had lots of time on their hands and they were really cranky…

The most widely publicized complaint made by a group of these protesting subjects was that government money spent on programs called “entitlements,” designed to help the people of the land, are bad…except the ones they use (like a thing called “Social Security,” a government program designed to help the aging people of the land…or something called “unemployment compensation,” a government program to help people pay their bills while they’re out of work…).

And they vowed to take their revenge on any of the land’s leaders who voted for any such programs like health care reform without a public option, or health care reform of any sort which some protestors believed wasn’t needed at all, since most of them would soon be eligible for a thing called “Medicare” – another government program providing medical coverage for older subjects…

Thus, over a short period of time, and with help from the entire range of main stream media, it appeared that a minority of the land’s subjects would be able to dictate what the majority would get & what they “should” believe.

But alack, what about the other 56%?  Where did they stand?  What did they want?  Why were their voices not resounding out across the land?

We don’t as yet know the answer, but the moral of the story is:

In a land where the majority rules, and that majority is a “silent” one, the many will see their fate sealed by the will of the few…and in any other land, that is called a “dictatorship.”

We want to know what you think of our fairy tale.

Warning to “Non-voters”

I want to address the concept of not voting, which many think is an effective way to show discontent with candidate choices or the system in general.

Boy is that a fool’s errand.  Similar to snipe hunting.

The classic  fool’s errand comes in three varieties: going after something that in reality is non-existent, trying to accomplish a task in an impossible way, or trying to accomplish an impossible task.  By any of these criteria, not voting as a form of “protest” qualifies.

Because not voting is a completely inane method for getting your point across…right up there with, say, not paying your credit card bill as a way to protest high interest rates, or not calling a plumber to fix the leak that’s flooding your bathroom as a way to protest high contractor costs… the entity you’re protesting either doesn’t care or doesn’t know the difference, and the only one you’re hurting…is you.

The problem is…our form of government relies on a nifty concept known as majority rule, yet in any given race, the highest voter turn out, particularly from Boomers, is anywhere between 38 & 47%; the 2008 Presidential race had the highest turnout seen since 1968…at 56.8%.  Pathetic, isn’t it?

Such abysmal turn-out means two things:

  1. we have turned into a minority rule form a government: candidates are voted in by a majority, but it’s a majority of a minority of all registered voters…and
  2. you’re letting folks you don’t know, choose for you…bet you wouldn’t do that with even the most inconsequential things, so why would you do it for something as unequivocally imperative as who leads our country/states/counties/etc.?

Now I’ll break it down one step further, so you can see who is doing the voting for you…:

  • Only about 33% of consistent voters know precisely who they want to win regardless of party affiliation, and vote based on a candidate’s actual record of accomplishments…
  • but another approximately 33% of those who vote regularly do so along strict party lines regardless of the candidate’s qualifications or leadership capability
  • the remaining approximately 33% are undecided, usually until the last few days, and base their vote almost solely on the ever so truthful and fact-filled campaign ads they see on TV, and their vote oftentimes can determine who wins….
  • This means that approximately 66% of those who vote are doing so not based on candidates’ track record and true leadership capabilities, but upon pure rhetoric or party affiliation – which is why we have the kinds of rampant unprofessional, unethical, and unlawful behavior on an ever increasing scale that we see regularly on Capitol Hill, and more often now on the State and local levels
  • If companies/business owners hired their top managers on the above basis, Enron would be the norm….
  • Bottom line – the laws and priorities of the most powerful country on the planet are set by folks who were elected by a minority of voters, 2/3 of whom chose these folks for all the wrong reasons…

This is 100% scarey…. And we’re responsible…not the political parties, not the PAC’s, not big business….us.  We can stop wondering why those who get elected to public office are better suited for the National Enquirer than the House/Senate floor.

So, my fellow Boomers, as I said last post, keep doing the same ineffective thing and you’ll keep seeing the same dismal results.

Remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again, but expecting a different outcome.

Or, perhaps it’s yet the best definition of a fool’s errand.

What do you think?  Let me know.

Have the Rules of Politics Changed?

At the end of Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan, Mr. Spock dies, and when asked by an anguished Jim Kirk why he sacrificed himself, he states simply: “Don’t grieve, Admiral: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one”

Jonah Goldberg, an editor at large of the conservative National Review Online, bemoans the shifting of the rules of politics, from what has up to now been straight lines from point A of a societal shift, to Point B, our typical response to it; I quote:

“For more than 40 years it has been a rule that environmental disasters – and scares over alleged ones – help environmentalists push tighter regulations…  According to the rules populism is a force for getting the government to do more, not less…According to the rules, Americans don’t care bout the deficit during a recession….And yet (today) none of these rules seem to be applying; at least not too strongly…As a conservative…it’s becoming harder and harder to shake the feeling that something bigger than politics as usual is at work here.”

Indeed, something bigger than “politics” as the public generally defines the concept is at work, and I believe Mr. Spock’s dying words provide the explanation.

We have…voters and legislators alike…abandoned the willingness to do what is best to meet the needs of the many, wanting instead to ensure that our idiosyncratic needs, i.e. those of the few, are met.

Thus the schizophrenic reactions from every body politic, left/middle/right.  The extreme Right wants less government….unless it negatively impacts entitlements they hold dear like Social Security and Medicare; extreme liberals want more government…unless it interferes with individual causes like immigration and sensible regulation of the internet; Centrists may see both sides of the issue, but are paralyzed by indecision, or flip-flop, because they too get mired in what will best serve an individual vs. greater good.  We want what we want when we want it, without regard for either the long-term or overall impact of our choices.  We don’t seem to care about the big picture…the needs of the many.

In Star Trek III, Mr. Spock comes back to life in perfect sci-fi form…so his sacrifice wasn’t a final one after all.  The same is true for us.  By doing what’s best for the many over time, even when it will create some hardship for the few in the (relative) short-run, our sacrifices, too, may be difficult, but will not be permanent.  From energy sources to social security, only once the many agree to place the country’s wellbeing as a whole above their own individual wish lists, will we at last be on the path to a better nation.

Thinking for Ourselves…What a Concept!

A woman in Utah is suing Google because a route she took using Google Maps landed her at a 4-lane highway where she was subsequently hit and injured while trying to cross.

Relatedly, a 1998 study of London taxi drivers showed their hippocampi to be much larger than normal due to all the “mental maps” they stored over the years in their work; scientists fear if those same cabbies start to rely too heavily on GPS rather than their own brain power, their hippcampi will most likely shrink along with their self-developed mapping skills.

Folks in Florida, and no doubt other states, are indicating they’d vote for candidates based solely on their TV ads, in spite of (in Florida) both candidates’ dubious past business practices (one ran a company indicted for Medicare/Medicaid fraud; the other made his zillions on the subprime mortgage mess that put the state/country in turmoil)

We’re led to believe that “multi-tasking” is an important part of getting ahead in the 21st century, when research clearly shows that heavy multi-taskers have “fractured thinking” meaning they have greater difficulty filtering out irrelevant information, which in turn greatly reduces an ability to focus; our brain power actually diminishes.

Folks watch Glenn Beck/MSNBC, or listen to sound bites on CNN, using others’ thoughts, or blurbs that offer far too little information, to replace  a cultivation of their own independent thinking and issue assessments through research, fact-finding, and good old deductive reasoning (comes in handy when politicians and media pundits contradict themselves, which they often do to sound good at the moment).

Before 24 hour news and the world wide web, we had to rely much more on discussions/debates with friends/colleagues/acquaintances – which also meant we weren’t as able to “filter” out those with whom we may not agree as we can now by attending to only the shows/web-info that feed our biases.

This in turn compelled us to rely more heavily on our own ability to form judgments and assess situations to make an informed decision (we knew that crossing a 4 lane highway has inherent dangers of which we must be keenly aware prior to attempting…); there was little else to turn to (well, the rumor mill will always be available…).

It also forced us to take a broader view of situations rather than continuously and by design sustain an “information bias” – the fact that some of those folks with whom we “debated” the issues of the day were not in agreement with us made us, at least for the duration of that discussion, hear opposing points of view and the thinking behind them.  Even if no minds were changed at the moment, at least we got out of our very narrow perspective for a short time…and doing that enough times, over time, can make one a tad more broad-minded.

The more we abrogate independent, informed, self-developed thinking, just like not voting, the more we allow everyone but ourselves to ultimately control our lives.

No wonder we’re so angry.