Answering Readers and other things…

I just wanted to address some of the points Jeff has made. I think he really clarifies the differences in the two viewpoints between conservatives and liberals very well. I understand the lack of faith in our government and the fact that there is corruption and stupidity on all sides of every issue in politics. I would never advocate a one party system.

My back was fractured when I was 12 and a disc herniated. I spent the entire year laying on my back, by myself in my bedroom. The only education I received was American history and the constitution as I had to pass (this was in Illinois) a constitution test in 7th grade in order to move onto 8th grade. Needless to say, I got one hour a week from the principle who would come to my home and tutor me. I spent a lot of time reading the constitution, the bill of rights and reading about American History. The ideals and people that founded our nation were profound and beautiful. Our forefathers did an amazing job of working out potential problems. They had incredible foresight. However they did not foresee all things that came up in the last century which have truly corrupted our government. And of course they had built in the 2nd amendment not so people could hunt animals, but so we could have a revolution if the government got out of control. Problem is of course (which of course they couldn’t foresee, perhaps if DiVinci had been one of the founders) the advent of nuclear weapons and military technology that no rag tag militia could fairly fight against. 

I really don’t have total faith in the Democrats. I just think they are less corrupt, more like normal politicians than the Republicans. And not all Republicans fall into that category. And especially regular American people who are not politicians but who identify with the party and vote Republican. They are not any better or worse than people who vote for Democrats. I’m talking only about the leadership of the Republican party; since the Nixon administration there has been a clarion call attracting many corrupt politicians with agendas to exploit the common working American people for their own personal gain on that side of the fence.

There are 2 types of politicians, those who get into politics to serve and lead. And those who get into politics to exploit, loot and are on power trips. I don’t think the Republican party has always been this way, and certainly the vast majority of people who vote Republican are not this way. In actuality I think the Republican party has manipulated many people’s deep love of this country, of tradition, stability, pride and our identity as self-reliant people against us.

But if we left morality up to the wealthy one percent to take care of the poor, the sick and whoever else, do you think they would do it? No. Certainly the feudal lords of Europe weren’t going around giving out loafs of bread to starving children, they were to busy denying them education and prosecuting them for stealing bread so they could put them to work in prison camps. With Democracy and laws, came taxation built on levels of ability to pay, the end of debtors prisons (when you could actually go to prison for life for not being able to pay someone you owed money to, can you imagine how many people would be in jail now if this law hadn’t been changed.) Government can’t solve all of our problems, but it can and should create a moral bone structure to hang our civilization’s body on.

As much as we like to pretend that we are all working on a level playing field with the same amount of talent, intelligence and acumen as everyone else. This is just blatantly untrue. Many of us our handicapped by our environments as children. We seem to be able to muster compassion for the abused child, but as soon as he turns 18 we seem to expect this person to magically be able to shake off the horrors of their childhood and compete in a game fixed by the wealthy.

I grew up in an area of Chicago that was very wealthy and I knew countless kids who were of average intelligence who went to ivy league schools because their parents were wealthy enough to give endowments to those institutions and it was family tradition to go to Harvard or Yale or Dartmouth. Is that fair? No. All the conservatives who claim B.S. on the whole affirmative action thing don’t complain about the wealthy legacy kids who get in with subpar SAT scores and average grades. Because it’s really not that they mind the game being rigged, they just want it rigged in their favor. And the people who are in power in the political arena (especially on the Republican side) are from extremely privelaged backgrounds. This hasn’t always been the case, but in the last 30 years the Republican party has drifted into the lane that promotes corporatism, gives a pass to the wealthiest one percent and turns a blind eye toward graft. The Democrats still have real people participating, like Bill Clinton (despite his personal sex addiction problems and foibles) he was a real guy who was raised by a single mother, in a poor family and through his brilliance and determination made something of himself. This is the America I believe in. This is the America I want to see win out. I don’t want our country to become a feudal one, where the wealthy one percent control us through their lobbyists and corporations. I want all Americans to be represented and to have a voice. I want to stay a democracy and not be bowled over by corporate interests masquerading as moral voices.

You know, the Democrats aren’t all that. They are really annoying and pretty lame. They don’t take the reigns, they blather around, seem to try to bend to too many voices and don’t have the passion it takes to convince others to get on board. This has been their problem now for over 30 years and I totally understand why they upset people who want things to be dealt with cleanly. Democrats don’t do this. For those (and this is the majority of Americans) who want decisive, clear leadership the Democrats don’t always know how to provide this. The Republicans have a huge advantage here, they have a common goal that binds them together which the Democrats don’t have. Democrats go into public service for all kinds of different reasons with all kinds of different agendas and are forced to compromise and work together in a quilt work fashion.

The Republicans have the binding passion of greed which they found a way to sell (ironically) to average Americans as Christian morality. However their policies and private lives show nothing of them living up to their supposed morality.  I’m going to refer you to an earlier post here about the shadow self as it applies to the split that Republicans utilize to sell their advocacy for the wealthiest taking not only the share they already have but more of yours too so that the money can “trickle down.” Or so they want you to believe.

So far I haven’t been to any developing nation or as Jeff aptly stated, communist country, where the money ever managed to trickle down. Once those on top have anything their heart could ever desire at their fingertips why would they randomly want to share it with strangers? This goes against human nature. We are naturally selfish creatures which is why we have laws, moral codes, and religions that teach us how to be more than just self-absorbed, self-satisfying, opportunistic, uncompassionate beasts.

Let me just say here as an example I’ve known many very famous people (through my work). They can have anything they want whenever they want it, no one ever says “no” to them. They often surround themselves with adoring admirers (not all but many do this) and see themselves as better than everyone else. They often get sucked into a weird cartoonish state of being where they are living entirely a life of the ego. They may have started out as good people and are not necessarily bad people, but they loose percpective and do horrible things to others because they  no longer see other people as human beings anymore. And how could they? They are not participating in real relationships anymore, just the ego heroine of fame feeding their insatiable insecurity and making them more and more pathologically narcissistic. 

My point is, we all need to be held accountable. And we live in a very narcissistic culture where value has been placed on being special, famous and wealthy to the exclusion of common sense and common decency. It seems anything goes if you can get rich or famous from it.  I don’t believe in that. I believe in personal integrity and spiritual growth both of those values are almost impossible to hold onto once a person becomes famous or insanely wealthy (I’m not talking comfortable or even rich but in that one percent club wealthy.)

Spiritual growth requires honest mirroring by loved ones and the world around you which the obscenely rich and famous don’t get from others anymore because that person becomes objectified and identified as a symbol, no longer allowing others to have real exchanges. While this is great for the ego, no one ever disagrees with you, you are always the greatest genius and everyone stops to listen to what you have to say, you actually, eventually become something of a persona, an empty shell, and often this can lead to great feelings of isolation, depression and obsessive behavior. Which is why so many celebrities have drug problems.

And of course in the case of the insanely wealthy, everyone wants a piece of their pie, and they can’t trust anyone around them. They never really know if people love or care about them for who they are or for the money they have. You think this problem sounds easy, but it’s actually very messy and dark and leads to behavior like Bernie Madoff who so desperately needed to stay in that special billionare club that he started ripping people off when the market started going down and he realized it was easier to con people than to actually invest their money. This is the sickness that can happen with outrageous overabundance as Christ said, “it’s easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven.” Because the disassociation that happens with that sort of wealth leads to callousness, and  bad behavior.

Average people like my in-laws, who are Republicans, make the mistake of believing that heads of corporations and the super wealthy have the same values they do. Let me tell you, they don’t. Their values are so far a flung from ordinary Americans that they may as well be Martians. There are of course good people who are exceptions and do amazing humanitarian work with the money they have made, but really they are probably less than one percent of the ubber rich.

While we all fantasize that our problems would go away and life would be perfect if we were just rich and famous, the opposite is actually true. Being in the spotlight only magnifies problems and immense wealth creates an emotional telescoping phenomena where your ability to relate to people who are struggling financially disappears and instead of feeling compassion for those people the wealthy find a bizarre righteous anger toward the unfortunate so they can stave off their guilt at not doing anything to help.

So what I want to say is that I don’t believe we can leave people’s lives, health and education up to the potential good graces of the wealthy one percent. I’ll leave everyone with this weird random example. The first time I went to London, when I was in my early 20s I met a guy who was a monarchist. I actually didn’t even know they still existed. He believed that the best form of government was what he called a “benevolent monarchy.” He explained that in that system things got done quickly and the benevolent king to good care of all of his subjects, sort of like a good dad takes care of all of his kids. But then I said, “But what happens if the monarch is not benevolent, like King Henry or Caligula.” 

“Well, I’m talking about a benevolent monarchy,” he firmly stated again.

“Yes, but that’s the problem if its a monarchy the people can’t do anything to get rid of the next in line and what if they’re crazy or a horrible person. In a democracy you can vote a nut jobber out of office. There are checks and balances in place that help eliminate the possibility of someone terrible taking over.” 

 And again his answer was, “Well, I’m talking about a benevolent monarchy.”

What we do in our Democracy with checks and balances, laws and amendments had its counter part in the world of business as regulations and the notion that corporations being led by the best people would perform the best and therefore those leaders would continue to move skyward. But instead with deregulation came easy money through scams, the ability to lie about your company, to cheat your shareholders and to fail upwards based on lies and fudging numbers. 

Our country is as much about capitalism as it is about democracy. And in order for capitalism to survive it needs to have enforceable rules to play by or no one on the world stage is going to want to play with us anymore. Those toxic loans we bought up that have been helping the stock market, are helping because by our government standing behind our corporations we are saying to the world, we screwed up and we won’t let everyone fall down, we stand behind our system and we want to continue playing ball with everyone. If we didn’t do this the entire world economy would fall apart due to lack of confidence in us the champions of capitalism.

Anyway, enough blabbing.

Best wishes to all and many blessings,

Denise

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Answering Readers and other things…

5 thoughts on “Answering Readers and other things…

  1. Somehow I jumped down to your blog entry about your dream of a tornado in the midwest. Perhaps the tornado’s name is Monsanto. Here is an article about their many attempts to destroy all seeds but their own.

  2. Tina says:

    Hi, Denise–

    As always, thanks for your brilliant insights. One of our forefathers did foresee what was coming:

    “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”
    — U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864
    (letter to Col. William F. Elkins)
    Ref: The Lincoln Encyclopedia, Archer H. Shaw (Macmillan, 1950, NY)

  3. Norah says:

    Without a system of checks and balance we are, as they say, screwed. Unfortunately, this country become The United Corporations of America decades ago, with the one percenters lording it over the rest of us, especially the first eight years of this century. And you’re so right about the Democrats in Congress, Denise … ball-less wonders! I was a registered Democrat for years but because of their wussy behavior, I changed to Independent (although I’ve never had cause to vote for a Republican … ever). Obama, despite his lack of experience, is at least NOT McBush, and I still believe he can reign in (most) of the damage done by the previous dictatorship, er, administration, given enough time. I’m hanging in there and remain hopeful. Peace.

  4. Sally in Dallas says:

    We don’t have to go far in American history to find Presidents — those who know the most about the true inner workings of our government — to find all kinds of warnings about government being hijacked by those whose true goal is to subvert constitutional liberties.

    Let’s go back to just 1960 and Eisenhower’s farewell address. Eisenhower, a Republican who could never be accused of shirking his patriotic duty, warned America to beware the growing military-industrial complex. Now, let’s assume that most of what he was talking about was the growing power and importance of the military in a Cold War environment. Unlike previous administrations, say, Lincoln or even Roosevelt, who relied on the military to keep us safe from invaders on our shores, Eisenhower recognized that the Cold War forever changed the way America defended itself. We could no longer depend on defensive posturing to protect ourselves from intercontinental ballistic missiles or the futuristic space-based weapons which were only science fiction during Roosevelt’s and even Truman’s administrations. He understood, as do all Americans, that the standing military would have to be increased in size and power to support the defense in the second half of the 20th century and forever more. But Eisenhower was warning about something even greater than the “military” complex. The Cold War brought forth the rise of those shadowy groups like the CIA. These groups had their beginning in WWII when it was necessary to ferret out secret plans to attack the US. But Eisenhower warned us that, without a war upon which to focus their enormous funds and brain trust, these groups would spread out their influence to other areas — and, in the weird way that politics makes strange bedfellows and under the ridiculous government budgeting process that says “use it or lose it”, these groups actively sought out new areas of influence. And they did this in the best way they knew how: by seeking out and branding new enemies of the state. Everything became a crisis to the CIA and other groups we don’t even know about. Some areas were easy to understand — Russia and China, for example, were (and remain) extremely dangerous to the security of the US simply because of the missiles and because these countries actively participated in actions that required the US to respond. But even all of these activities were not enough to keep the growing CIA busy; and so, like all good “use it or lose it” thinking, new areas of espionage were opened up and think tanks were given money to PROVE that these remote areas of the world did, indeed, pose a grave risk to the security of the USA.

    But notice, again, that Eisenhower didn’t just say the “military complex” — he called it the “Military-Industrial Complex”. Eisenhower saw that throughout the post-WWII years that business was growing by leaps and bounds. Corporations were gathering up smaller companies by the thousands; we used to call these “monopolies” but by using existing law, and changing certain laws, these large corporations were changing forever the idea that the business of America was business. These new laws didn’t protect mom-and-pop businesses; they didn’t even protect moderate sized businesses. What they did was pave the way for corporations to go multinational, and this, in turn, changed forever the existence of corporations. They weren’t “American” any longer. They were “international” and they no longer operated in the best interests of the USA, but, instead, of their corporate profits. This is what Eisenhower warned about. A GLOBALIZATION of both military influence and international corporation influence — an influence that dwarfed anything the world had seen since Rome.

    Here’s a very recent example of this kind of global hedgemony for corporations: Banks. The reason we now have “too big to fail” banks is because they are GLOBAL banks. If you think that the bailouts are unfair and unjust to the millions of Americans who are out of work, you are absolutely correct. It is in the best interests of the GLOBAL corporation to lay off higher paid American workers and to hire lower paid Indian workers. Good for India, good for the corporation, but bad for the USA. How did these banks get “too big to fail”? Changes in the laws in the late 1990’s and the 2000’s removed much of the regulation and protections placed on banks after the Great Depression. These restrictions were intended to prevent a second Great Depression. In the late 1990s, thanks to large contributions from the financial services industry to almost every single Senator and Congressman, it was decided that we had passed beyond the need for these restrictions, and so the laws were changed. What followed was wild speculation in financial services the likes of which we have never seen, leaving a ruined GLOBAL economy. You think the USA has won the hearts and minds of the poor people of the world right now? No, they hate us. They hate unbridled capitalism that tells a man to pull himself up by his bootstraps, irrespective of whether or not he has any bootstraps. And, please, don’t bore me with these “fairy tales” of men who make millions just on an idea. That man with a $1 million idea had some luck and some help along the way. He had to know just the right people to help him. I’m sure there are just as many black geniuses as there are white geniuses — so why is it that almost everyone who’s rich in the USA is white and male? Because that’s the breaks they get. If a black man gets a break — let’s say, Obama, for example — then he doesn’t get much of a break. poor Obama. He gets the job, but the country’s broke and heading toward the Greater Depression. He doesn’t even get a honeymoon period.

    When I see what the Republicans have done to this country during the past 30 years, it makes me want to throw up. The Republicans have been in charge of the White House for all but eight years since 1980. These Republican leaders have espoused a “new morning in America” and “personal responsibility” and “business is king” and we have had some of the worst financial disasters since the Great Depression. Has everyone forgotten the “Greed is Good” philosophy on Wall Street during the 1980s? It’s the exact same greed that has caused this meltdown.

    I’m sorry; I voted for Nixon and Reagan. I even voted for both George Bush’s. But I have to say that I was hoodwinked — just as much as I was hoodwinked by Nixon’s “I’ve got a secret plan to get us out of Vietnam” back in 1968. I have to agree with my aunt who died back in the 1980s; she told that she was voting for McGovern in 1972. I asked her why, and she said, “I’ll never trust Richard Nixon; he’s a liar and a snake. The Republicans have never been for the poor man; they are always for the rich man.” My aunt was so right about that — I should have listened to her.

    Anyone who thinks that the Republicans are in any way in favor of anything that will help the “common” man is out of his mind. And after all of the attacks on our Constitution by, first, Nixon (the war on drugs) and then Bush (the war on terror), who believes that Republicans truly are the patriots of this country — well, shame on you. True patriots stand up and say No, that war is wrong. No, that law is unconstitutional. No, we will not give up our rights.

    We need a new party in America. I’m thinking Ron Paul might be just the one to lead it.

  5. jeff says:

    Thank you for the response Denise. This is my first time to blog and I am actually enjoying it. Good dialogue and I agree with most of your points.

    One area I will take some issue with… is i’m not so sure about democrats in general having more humble beginnings. You may be right… I do not have the facts to back up my gut reaction. Personally, I cannot bring myself to understand how much “privilege” has to do with the development of character. However, when I do think of the “privileged” following democrats: Nancy Pelosi, John Edwards, Harry Reid, Tom Daschle, Barney Frank, Al Gore, John Kerry, etc…, they do not necessarily strike me as persons having empathy with hard working and honest Americans. Having empathy with and encouraging a sort of class warfare and victim mentality – yes I think so. At a minimum, plainly they are politicians that understand their idealogy, and their seemingly unquenchable drive for power (and of course fattening their bank accounts). Not much different from Bernie Madoff in my opinion (in some disturbing way he must have felt like a victim). I know there are plenty of exceptions, but as you said, this is true with republicans also. Some of the biggest democrats (yes big time democrat donors) I know are VERY rich trial lawyers like Mr. slick Edwards himself. Let me just say, these are not the most genuine people I know and they have a haughtiness that makes them very uncomfortable to be around. For their part, they have chosen a profession that makes genuine honesty quite the challenge to say the least (kind of similiar to the folks in Hollywood you mention). In a lot of ways you and I agree, we just see things through a slightly different lens.

    I am a conservative, yet in many, many regards today’s republican party makes my stomach turn (as does the democrat party). I voted for McCain, but in the process was literally… sick to my stomach. I felt like I was going against my conscience. I believe most conservatives were voting against Obama (representing the government becoming more intrusive in our lives, burdening small business with more taxes and a seemingly willingness to think you can negotiate with brutal dictators), not necessarily for McCain. McCain just did not come across as sincere during the campaign. We did not feel like we had a voice. As I think we all generally agree, for the most part there seems to be very little accountability in the upper echelons of Washington D.C. Both appear corrupted by greed and special interest money (at our expense). All we can do is try to keep them honest best we can. Perhaps this is true throughout the course of history…? We always seem to think we live in unique times, but really… is there anything new under sun? I agree with someone else in this blog who mentioned now may be the time for a new party to emerge.

    I will say that today I was glad to see President Obama supports bankruptcy for GM and Chrysler. It is hard to believe he is standing up against the UAW, but if he is sincere, this is encouraging. Of course no one is happy so many jobs will be lost, but we cannot keep delaying the inevitable at the expense of so much taxpayer money (for generations). Common economic sense may for once be prevailing over ideology? We shall see…

    Regardless, at the end of the day I do have a peace knowing that God is in control. I have enough to keep me busy just trying to be a good father and husband. Time to get home for supper…

    Jeff

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