Are numbers running the world?

It’s pretty evident that the world today is sliding quickly into one where numbers and accountants rule.  This is a problem.  Not that I don’t like accountants (although they’re mostly pretty boring), but I don’t want them to run my life.  Where did the “art” of life disappear to?  By art I don’t mean the fine arts, but those aspects of life that should be dominated by creativity and gut-feeling.  What will our culture look like when it’s completely gone.  Entire industries that were once the fountainheads of creativity are now the maidservants of accountancy.  It stifles invention and takes most of the fun out of life.  Witness the automobile industry.   Do you remember how exciting it was to see the new model year come out – to look at those designs – to “feel” the urge to have one in your driveway?  Can’t say that any more, can you?  Or how about Television.   A medium that could be a bastion of creativity – its immediate, its available everywhere, and everyone is addicted to it.  But Lo – somebody produced a cop show that focused on solving crimes by the scientific evidence.  One show – cool.  But now we have 51 shows just like it, on every channel and situated in every city!  So, more evidence of the domination of numbers over art.     …

send in your story about something or some part of life that is now run ‘by the numbers’……

to be continued …

Supercommittees.. Then and Now

“A Horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!”   (King Richard)  William Shakespeare

AHH, the “Supercommittee”.  Rewind the clock six months, back to last summer, and you can watch most of our Congressmen and Senators climbing all over each other to get appointed to the Supercommittee that would be charged with finding ways to reduce our national deficit by $1.3 trillion.  That’s trillion with a “T”.  There are three truly astounding aspects of this process.  The first is that 1.3 TRILLION dollars is only a drop in the bucket compared to what we spend in this country.  The second is that everyone knows that if you want something to be left undone – appoint a committee to do it.  And third is that we could even dream of allowing the same people that are responsible for the mess in the first place to try to fix it.  It’s really mind-boggling (and I don’t mean the amount of money).  If they fail to reach any agreement then the consequences are disastrous for the ecnomy – but there are absolutely NO consequences of failure for the individual members of the committee.  No wonder every lawmaker wanted in, it’s a classic no-lose situation for them.  At the end of the scrum, twelve of the nations “finest” lawmakers were seated at this most prestigious table. As we can see, each had their own individual agenda and their own party agenda.

john kerry

Will anyone remember who this man is in 20 years?

But none of them had anything remotely resembling a national agenda – nothing, nada,  zippo.  How do I know this?  Because their game has ended.  The final buzzer has sounded on their game.  And the score is……Wait, not telling yet.  Humor me.

Rewind your clocks again – this time go back 224 years to the summer of 1787.  Take your time, I’ll wait, it’s a long rewind.  Follow me back to Philadelphia, in the sweltering heat.  The economies of the 13 individual free states (we weren’t really the United States of America yet) are on the brink of disaster.  The war had devastating effects and the states were all near bankruptcy.  So fifty guys get appointed to the second Continental Congress – 1787’s version of a Supercommittee.  They are charged with fixing things.  Things in the economy and things between the states.  Sound familiar?  Seems we’ve been here before (remember, one eye forward and one eye back).  That’s where the similarities end though.  These 50 committee members work throughout the summer, without air conditioning or running water.  They know the consequences if they are to fail.  It’s likely that the newborn country will die in its infancy.  They also know the consequences if they are to succeed.  It’s likely that each of them will have to give up some of their personal power and influence.  BUT – These 50 guys are STATESMEN!  So they wrangle and haggle, give and take, sweat and argue —  and they get it done.  They don’t just fix the problems with the economy, they create the Constitution and they create the United States of America in the process.  The results are even greater than the original task that we charged them with.  For many of them it signalled the end of their political power, because they created a republic that took away their power and invested it in the citizens.  They knew it was a possibility, but they also knew that the state they were saving was ultimately more important than their personal gain.  For others, they went home knowing that they didn’t achieve every goal for their individual state, but they also knew that their state would be the beneficiary of being part of a bigger country.

Does anyone need to be reminded who this man is? Can you tell the difference between a Statesman and a Politician?

This was their big game.  You might call it the very first national championship.  And when the final buzzer sounded in Philadelphia the score was Country 100 – Personal Ideology – 0.  A romp.  They crushed ’em.

Now, to the future again, all the way back to November 2011, back where we started.  When we left it last, we were looking for the final score of our game.  We gave our 12 guys through the end of November to come up with some answers to avert an economic disaster.  The result:  Nothing.  No progress, no plan.  None of them – not even one – could put their country in front of their personal agenda.  Think of it this way, on a committee with those other weak players if even 1 guy had any strength or statemanship in him, he could have carried the team.  But we employ 535 unskilled lawmakers between the House and Senate.  They have walked away from what may be the greatest responsibility of their lifetimes, without so much as an apology to us.  They have failed us and they fully expect that they will suffer no ill effects from doing so.  These guys will come to you looking to extend their overpriced contracts next year.  Underachievers, all of them.  So when they do come to you for votes, remember this:  no runs, no hits, no score.  Nobody even got on base.  Final Score Country 0 – Personal Ideology – 100.  We got crushed this time!


It’s Election Season Again…

‘Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct’

Thomas Jefferson – regarding politicians.


The politicians are at it again, although they never really stop, do they?  It’s stumping time in the USA and this time they are rising to new lows.  And I mean ALL of them too, the ins and the outs.  You can expect to weather a storm of politico troopers on TV and radio and newspapers this election.  The out-front topic that beats all of the others this election cycle is JOBS.  You see, jobs are tight, and for them it’s a matter of keeping their jobs, or getting the other guy’s job, or getting their old job back – in no way shape or form are any of their platforms based on OUR jobs!  Funny how NONE of them are ever seen working at real-life jobs.  Like the dad on Leave It to Beaver, they leave home in the morning, and come home at night, but no one knows where they’ve been all day – especially the outs.  Actually that makes them more akin to mosquitoes (and by the way – where do all the mosquitoes go during the daytime?). They all talk about jobs, the general public’s job, but they never directly mention their own job.  It strikes me as just a little bit unusual that the entire class of politicos, who spend 100% of every day talking about themselves, feel the need to dance ever so delicately around the subject of their employment status.  So every time you hear one of them talking you should get out your ‘Politician-to-English’ dictionary and you’ll find that it translates every phrase into – “hey, I need this job because I’m not qualified to do anything else” followed by a lengthy stream of blah blah blahs (which is every other translation in that dictionary).  That’s it, plain and simple.  No matter what sounds their lips are making they’re really pleading for a job, and not actually trying to help you get a job.  And that’s exactly why we’ll see way too much of them this time – jobs are tougher to get this year.

He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas of any man I ever met.’  

Abraham Lincoln – regarding a politician.

So back to my original point – how did they rise to new lows?  Each election cycle they all seem argue over one major topic.  Some years it is foreign affairs, some years it is education, and this year – wait for it – they are all talking about – you guessed it the “Economy” (remember that means THEIR jobs).  Now someone on one side made up a slogan for their team of  “no more taxes” which, when translated = “ I need the job”.  And the other side quickly counter attacked with the retort “ the wealthy should pay their fair share  translated =  “I need the job” (if you’ve been looking these up in your P-to-E dictionary, then you’re starting to get the hang of it.

Sounds like the basis of a healthy debate, right?  Wrong.  Here’s the downside for us.  By deciding to use this topic for their job-hunting purposes, the one side has alienated all of the people that don’t pay taxes. The other side has alienated all the people that feel that they already pay for everything.  They’ve created a nice little case of class-warfare, and that is very dangerous for all of us.  Unfortunately most of the general public gets worked up into a lather listening to all of this.  We forget that they are just using us to get their jobs.  And the news media won’t remind us of that either, because their jobs also depend on the opposing sides doing battle.  The citizens lose the class-warfare battle every time, no matter which side they’re on.  Check it out in the history books.  French Revolution, Russian Revolution, etc. etc.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear just one Politico stand up proud, throw away his Politico-to-English dictionary, and tell us “ Hey guys I really need the job – and by the way” (in English now) – “I think that the country would be better off if we could get some new ideas that will make our economy grow FOR EVERYONE.” And then follow that up with “I’m not 100% sure how we’re gonna do it, but I’m going to spend my days finding some smart people that have some new ideas”.  Straight English – no translation- honest about his or her abilities.  Refreshing – yes.  Possible – no way.  Until we the people realize how the politicos conduct their job searches.  Instead of ballots why don’t we just give them all applications to fill out?

James Madison on liberty and the GPS

We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.

James Madison 1780s

The author of that quote was, perhaps one of the most statesman-like and forward thinking of the group of men that we call the ‘Founding Fathers’.  I believe this to be self-evident when you assess his herculean efforts at crafting our Constitution.  And still more so when you take into account his authorship of most of the Federalist Papers, which was his effort to garner grass-roots support to get the Constitution ratified by the individual states.  I assume that everyone in the country has already read the constitution (right?) but I’m not suggesting that anyone rush out a grab a paperback copy of the Federalist Papers. Believe me, that book is a difficult read.  The ‘Papers’ were largely written as a sort of “pre-rebuttal” in anticipation of the volleys that would inevitably be hurled by the anti-federalists. Pressed into this role of deflecting arguments before they were argued, he was forced to look into all the dark alleys of our Constitution and seal them off from criticism even before they could be criticized.

The result – a man that became as forward thinking as any man has ever been.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I can state with some degree of certainty that the author of that quote never owned a car, or a cell phone, a laptop, or a GPS, not even a lightbulb! He never sent an email, saved his documents in the cloud, flew to London in 4 hours, or learned how to program his DVR.  I can also state with some certainty that he knew in some ways that future generations of Americans would be different than him, would want different things, would need different things, and would face new challenges.  And one thing for sure – they would not wear those god-awful tight knee pants.  But here’s where it gets interesting.  Instead of crafting a document that said, flat out, NO to this list and YES to that, he crafted a document that allowed for the future.  Allowed for the “future” – during a time when no one was quite sure that America would even make it into the following year, let alone centuries to come.  Remember that all of the European powers were perched on the beach, mouths open, waiting for America to go dashing towards the ocean like newborn baby turtles!

By now you must be asking what’s up with the quote.  And why that quote, which doesn’t even make it into the list of top 10 Madison quotes.  Here’s why;

This week the superior court overturned the conviction of a big-time drug dealer.  He got collared with about 80 lbs of drugs and around $850,000 in cash.  This, I assume, equates to a serious stash – certainly enough to bring a conviction.  Enough cash to make the Federal Government jealous too.  Initially the police had a hard time getting enough evidence to arrest this guy, until they put a GPS tracking device on his car. And then Whammo.  Evidence, Stash, Conviction.  The citizens of Gotham City were safe once again from this evildoer.  There was, however, one little glitch. The superior court overturned the conviction because the police hadn’t gotten a warrant to place the GPS device on his car. But wait, you say, that’s a travesty, do they even need a warrant to do that?  Well, no one knows.  Being the staunch ConservoLiberCentrist that I am, my first reaction was to side with the people that say the police don’t need a warrant.  Their argument goes something like this – if you are walking down the street in plain view, and a policeman could see you commit a crime like stealing a pocketbook, then they don’t need a warrant to arrest you and take that lady’s pocketbook back to her. Ok, sounds reasonable enough, my car is in plain view when I’m driving it (except for that one time when the lady crashed into me and said that she didn’t see me). So I’m going to side with the “no warrant necessary” crowd.

Then suddenly the other side of my CLC leanings kicks in.  Hey you just hold on one small minute – they couldn’t search my basement or harddrive or the trunk of my car without a warrant. So maybe putting that GPS device under the fender is similar to that?  Now I’m starting to think like a real card-carrying ConservoLiberCentrist, eh!  Just a while ago I said that nobody knows whether the police need a warrant or not.  And nobody does know – except for one person – James Madison.  He absolutely knows!  This is the big tie-in to the quote. He knew then, and we should know by now, that Liberty isn’t usually erased in one giant gulp, but gets gradually eroded. No one will complain too much about some criminal’s rights – because he’s a criminal right?  So off go some of our Liberties (his and yours and mine) in tiny, unnoticeable, painless pieces.  Madison is telling us in his well crafted style that we should be alarmed when pieces of our liberties get “experimented” with.   So, the guy that never even saw a lightbulb, knows that a GPS on a criminal’s car can easily lead to a GPS on my car, and then a GPS on Grandma’s car.  Just a little at a time, and it even seems like a good reason today.   This all adds up to me coming down on the side of “needing a warrant”, because even if it means a couple of extra bad guys don’t go to jail, it also means that a couple of million good guys don’t go either!  Let’s all pitch in a buy James Madison an MP3 player.