You Can’t Hold On to the Things You Love or Can You?

letting go 1One of the true ironies or life is that you cannot hold on to the things you find most precious.  You can try but life will take them away.  The older you get the more you will find the truth in what I am saying.  You can’t hold on to youth.  You can’t hold on to your spouse.  You can’t hold on to your money.  You can’t hold on to your fame.  You cannot hold on to your health and you definitely cannot hold on to your life.  The irony is that the very things that are the most valuable to us (and they may well be) are the very things that we have no way of holding onto.

“Make your ego porous. Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing, fame is nothing. Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything.”  ― Rainer Maria Rilke

I rather not admit it (particularly to myself) but we will eventually lose all of these things.  Your hair, your health, your chin, your physique, your beauty, your best friends, your fame, your fortune, your loved ones and eventually your life will all be snatched away from you.  They will all go before you desire them to go.  Some will go much too soon, but it is safe to say that we are never truly ready for any of them to go no matter when they go.  Perhaps some of us will be ready for death, but I doubt most of us will readily go when death comes calling.  One more year, one more month, one more day is all we will ask, but the answer will always be the same.  As in the famous story “Appointment in Samarra”, when death comes calling, there is no reprieve.

“Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”  – Dylan Thomas

During the course of my life, I have seen countless buildings, stadiums, streets and even airports renamed.  They once were named after someone great and famous.  One might have expected that the names of such persons would be enshrined forever, but times change.  The Humphrey Dome (named after Minnesota’s most famous native son) was renamed the Metro Dome.  A few years later it was named the Mall of America Dome.  Poor Hubert, fame was fleeting.  So it shall be for all of us.  If they build a statue of you or if you have a graveyard someplace with a soaring monument, beware!  In a few years, they will need to put a light rail through or a parking lot.  Your bones and statues will need to be replaced for progress.

I just really love doing what I do. I know every career is fleeting and there will be time periods when I don’t get the opportunities that I’m getting right now, so I am taking advantage of them.  — Leonardo DiCaprio

I often tell my students that all an employer cares about is “today and tomorrow.”  Your past accomplishments are hot air.  Cotton Fluff!  Ancient History!  You won three gold medals in the Olympics?  That’s nice, how many software programs do you know?  You climbed Mt. Everest? How many languages can you speak?  You graduated Summa Cum Laude?  How much money can you make me today?  What you did yesterday does not matter; it is what you can do today.  It is hard for most of us (me included) to accept this draconian fact of life, but it is absolutely true.

OSHO tells a famous story about a great ruler who wanted to add his name to the Golden Mountain.  This mountain was the place in the universe where all “great” rulers got to carve their names in gold.  When the ruler died and was carried off to the Golden Mountain, he was amazed.  As far as he could see were the names of other “great” rulers who had been there first and already carved their names.  He looked for days and despite the fact that the Golden Mountain went on forever, there was no place for him to carve his name.  Every single spot on the mountain was already filled with the name of a previous “great” ruler.

How much do you remember of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, Napoleon or Peter the Great?  All the great conquerors of the world and today they are dust.  I would bet my last dollar you have never ever visited even one of their graves.  What matters to you today is not who is dead but who is alive and what can they do for you.  What do you care about the dead?  Even Jesus said:  “Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.” (Matthew 8:22) 

How many times have you heard that funerals are not for the dead but for the living?  You cannot do anything for the dead but for the living, life must go on.  How often have you seen or even sent a sympathy card that read:  “I hope the many great memories you have of your loved one will help carry you through this difficult time?”   It is ironic we say this since the very memories they have are what will eat at their heart and ruin their happiness.  If we could only immediately forget the dead and departed we would never suffer.  But our memories keep us anchored to the past.  We replay them over and over again and each time we feel the pain of loss or guilt or dreams that will never be.  How often have you heard or said the words: “I only wish I had spent more time with them when they were alive?”

THEY have chiseled on my stone the words:

“His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him

That nature might stand up and say to all the world,

This was a man.”

Those who knew me smile

As they read this empty rhetoric;

My epitaph should have been:

“Life was not gentle to him,

And the elements so mixed in him

That he made warfare on life

In the which he was slain.”

While I lived I could not cope with slanderous tongues,

Now that I am dead I must submit to an epitaph

Graven by a fool!    (From Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology)

letting go 2Letting go is the hardest thing that any of us can ever do.  Letting go of the past.  Letting go of the death of a loved one.  Letting go of a goal or dream that has become unrealistic.  Letting go of memories of what or who we once were.  Letting go of expectations concerning our friends, our loved ones and especially our children.  Letting go of expectations for ourselves.  We cling like Saran wrap to outdated aspirations of fame, fortune, success and happiness.

We live in the glory days of the past and somehow we try to live them again.  We buy an old car that reminds us of our high school days and spend countless hours and dollars restoring it.  It is the car that we always wanted when we were in high school but could not afford.  Now we have it and we can drive it to rallies with lots of other old people who have restored their own memories at the cost of many dollars and hours.  Now we can sit around and talk about the “good old days” with fellow reminiscers caught in the fantasies of youth.  But we cannot be young again.   We become recyclers of the past.

As with everything, there is a Golden Mean.  Too much focus on the past may be bad, but perhaps a little is necessary for our lives.  Too much focus on the future may be just as bad but may also be necessary for our lives.  However, we cannot obtain the happiness and peace of mind that we all want by living in the past or in the future.  The true secret of happiness is finding the balance. The great prophets have always counseled on the need to live in the present.

“Tomorrow is tomorrow.  Future cares have future cures, and we must mind today.” ― SophoclesAntigone

Being human, it is very likely we will fail often in our attempts to move on or to let go.  We sometimes get stuck in the past.  We fret feverishly about the future.  We mark time by looking backwards or forwards and the day we are living in is forgotten.  We all have the human faults of greed, desire, envy, regret, and too much ambition.   I think this is what Christians mean when they say we are all sinners.  I would probably choose a different description but the end result is the same.  We make mistakes every day.  We have goals that we fall short of.  Resolutions that are soon broken.  Promises that are not kept for more than a few weeks.

“Not all of our heartless plans work as we intend; nor do all of our good intentions. We are where we are, and we can rarely predict where we will go, no matter how firm our beliefs.”  ― Michelle Sagara West,

I speak for myself when I say I have all of these faults.  They sometimes cause me to lose sight of the present.  I might more honestly say that they OFTEN cause me to lose sight of the present.  An old regret creeps in and I feel guilty.  A piece of envy sneaks up when I meet a former friend who seems to have “made it.”  A bit of greed arises when I see a neighbor’s new car.  A speck of denial follows the realization that I can no longer do some of the things I did when I was 25.  I count the days and weeks and months and years that I have left to truly make my mark on the world.  And all the time, the present slips by and I fail to notice the day and the wonderful gifts that each day brings.  I remember too late to appreciate the day and then it is already time for bed.

But tomorrow will bring another day and another opportunity to live life to the fullest.  If we can only let go of the past and the future, we have the opportunity for the happiness we all seek.  It is in front of us each time we wake up.  Carpe Diem!

Carpe Diem — by Robert Frost

Age saw two quiet children
Go loving by at twilight,
He knew not whether homeward,
Or outward from the village,
Or (chimes were ringing) church ward,
He waited, (they were strangers)
Till they were out of hearing
To bid them both be happy.
‘Be happy, happy, happy,
And seize the day of pleasure.’
The age-long theme is Age’s.
‘Twas Age imposed on poems
Their gather-roses burden
To warn against the danger
That overtaken lovers
From being over flooded
With happiness should have it.
And yet not know they have it.
But bid life seize the present?
It lives less in the present
Than in the future always,
And less in both together
Than in the past. The present
Is too much for the senses,
Too crowding, too confusing-
Too present to imagine. 

Time for Questions:

What fantasies about the past do you hang onto?  What memories would you let go of if you could?  Are you still trying too hard to forget the past?  Are you trying too hard to live the past or to make up for something you did in the past?  What stops you from moving on?  What are the important things in your life?  What if each day you simply focused on the present?  What do you think would happen to the important things?  Are they really that important?

Life is just beginning.

 Life is a balance of holding on and letting go

 

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds or “How did our drug laws get so crazy?”

Picture yourself in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes  —- (From the Beatles) (Click here to listen)

lucy_in_sky_with_diamonds_by_weirdplushie-d5r2kziHave you ever wondered why we do not arrest obese people?  What if we treated people who abused food like we treated people who abused drugs?  We could argue “Why don’t we arrest obese people since we arrest drug addicts?”  Do not both of them abuse their bodies?  If you look at the five most common reasons given for drug control policy:  Morality, Health, Profit, Discrimination and Social Control, it could be argued that obesity violates at least four of these principles.  As yet, we do not see too many obese people running amok, but who knows, maybe cases of “Crazed” obese people are just being under-reported.

It seems unfair to me that obese people are not treated the same as drug abusers.  Obese people are making a choice to the same extent that most drug users are.  Obese people cause a huge drain on our medical system.  Obesity is an offense to morality (sloth) if not aesthetics.  A large portion of the increase in medical expenses over the last twenty years can be blamed on lifestyle choices of which obesity is one of the primary negative factors.  Thus obesity directly impacts our national productivity.  What if obesity was subject to a series of “obesity laws” that made obesity illegal?

Consider the following court scenario in a system where obesity was illegal.    Jane Doe has just been arrested on charges of obesity and is brought to court for a pre-trial hearing. 

Prosecutor:  I am going to bring five charges against the defendant for gross and negligent obesity.

Defense Attorney:  We are not going to argue that the defendant is not fat or grossly obese.  We are going to argue that the defendant posed no threat to society.

Prosecutor:  The defendant was found in a Mc Donald’s eating a Big Mac in clear violation of the 2017 Obesity Act (OA) which states that “No obese person may partake of high fat foods found in fast food restaurants.”   A DOP agent (Department of Obese Patrol) found the defendant eating a Big Mac, fries and a shake.  The defendant tried to conceal the food and when confronted by the DOP agent, she attacked the agent and tried to resist arrest.

Judge:  What are your five charges?

ProsecutorThe five charges are as follows:

  1. Gross obesity in violation of the 2017 Obesity Act, article 1
  2. Posing a hazard to the national health in violation of Article 6 of the OA
  3. Hiding the presence of fattening foods in violation of Article 27 of the OA
  4. Contributing to the deterioration of the military readiness statute as specified in Article 29 of the OA
  5. Presenting a negative image of Americans to the world in violation of Article 31 of the OA

Prosecutor:  Each of these charges carries a minimum felony sentence of two years.  However, because this is the defendant’s third offense, the minimum sentence would be life.  We would be willing to plea bargain this to forty years without parole if the defendant agrees.

Defense Attorney:  Your honor this is a travesty of justice and a mockery of everything the judicial system was established for.  I have already noted that my defendant posed no threat to society.  We expect a jury to hear this case and we will not plea bargain.  This law is wrong, unfair and does not help protect or prevent the rest of the population from gross obesity.

Judge:  You are entitled to a trial if you so desire it, but I warn you.  You will not be allowed to challenge the validity of the Obesity law.  The law is the law and the legislative and judicial functions are clearly separated by the US constitution.  This law has been duly authorized and approved by the government of the United States of America.  The only question here is was the defendant guilty as charged.  We will not question the validity, fairness or equitability of the law.

Cellophane flowers of yellow and green
Towering over your head
Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes
And she’s gone

Now consider the criminal justice system as it applies to drugs.  By the term “drug” I am defining as anything that is either a: Hallucinogen, opiate, stimulant, or depressant.  See also the list for Schedule II drugs which includes many more than the following list:

  • Alcohol is legal if you are over 21 in most states.  Alcohol is a depressant.
  • The sale of marijuana for recreational use is a felony in nine states and illegal in a dozen others.
  • Coffee and caffeine is legal in all States in coffee, tea, soft drinks and energy drinks.  Caffeine is a stimulant.
  • LSD, Peyote, Hashish and Mescaline are illegal in all 50 states unless you have a permit to use for experimental or religious reasons.    These are all hallucinogens.
  • Nicotine in cigarettes is legal in all 50 states.   Nicotine is a stimulant.
  • Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycodone must have a doctor’s prescription in all fifty states.  Buying controlled substances online without a valid prescription may be punishable by imprisonment under Federal law.  These are all opiates.
  • Cocaine and Methamphetamines are classed as Schedule II drugs and both are illegal without medical authorization in all 50 states. Both are classed as stimulants.

If you look at the list you may wonder what the criteria for banning some drugs are and legalizing other drugs.  If you can figure this out, you are either an anti-drug zealot or you live in Wonderland along with the Red Queen and the Mad Hatter.  Consider the following possible drugs and some criteria which might impact their legality:

Drug

Health Hazards

Addictiveness

Incapacitation Capacity for Violence
Alcohol

High

Moderate

High

Moderate

Caffeine

Low

Moderate

Low

Low

Nicotine

High

High

Low

Low

Hallucinogens

Moderate

Low

High

Moderate

Opiates

Low

Moderate

Low

Low

Marijuana

Low

Low

Low

Low

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds

If after looking at this chart, you conclude that alcohol and nicotine should be added to the list of illegal substances, you would not be alone.  Conversely, you might wonder why opiates and Marijuana are illegal (a situation which is finally beginning to change with Marijuana).   The fact is there is no rhyme or reason.  Prejudice, bias, stupidity, ignorance and politics govern the legality of drugs in all fifty states and the Federal government.  The results of this irrational and ignorant policy are as follows:  (These facts are from the Drug Policy Alliance)

  • Amount spent annually in the U.S. on the war on drugs: More than $51,000,000,000
  • Number of people arrested in 2012 in the U.S. on nonviolent drug charges: 1.55 million
  • Number of people arrested for a marijuana law violation in 2012: 749,825
  • Number of those charged with marijuana law violations who were arrested for possession only: 658,231 (88 percent)
  • Number of Americans incarcerated in 2012 in federal, state and local prisons and  jails: 2,228,400 or 1 in every 108 adults, the highest incarceration rate in the world
  • Proportion of people incarcerated for a drug offense in state prison that are black or Hispanic, although these groups use and sell drugs at similar rates as whites: 61 percent
  • Number of states that allow the medical use of marijuana: 20 + District of Columbia
  • Estimated annual revenue that California would raise if it taxed and regulated the sale of marijuana: $1,400,000,000
  • Number of people killed in Mexico’s drug war since 2006: 70,000+
  • Number of students who have lost federal financial aid eligibility because of a drug conviction: 200,000+
  • Number of people in the U.S. that died from a drug overdose in 2010: 38,329
  • Tax revenue that drug legalization would yield annually, if currently-illegal drugs were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco: $46.7 billion
  • One-third of all AIDS cases in the U.S. have been caused by syringe sharing: 354,000 people
  • U.S. federal government support for syringe access programs: $0.00, thanks to a federal ban reinstated by Congress in 2011 that prohibits any federal assistance for them

Follow her down to a bridge by a fountain
Where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies
Everyone smiles as you drift past the flowers
That grow so incredibly high

The above statistics do not talk about the human toll that our so-called drug policy exacts.  What about the thousands of people labeled as ex-cons and felons who may never be able to find a legitimate job again?  What about the thousands of families destroyed by taking a parent away from their children?  What about the inability or unwillingness to help treat people with an addiction?  What about the wasted lives and productivity of the men and women that we incarcerate under our present drug laws?

Again, you may wonder if something has been left unsaid.  Surely there must be a good reason or even several good reasons for our current drug policy.  Could anyone want to spend billions of dollars without some underlying rationale?  Indeed, several possible reasons for our present drug policy have been advanced.  Let us take a brief look at how each of the following reasons impact drug policy.

  • Morality
  • Health
  • Profit
  • Discrimination
  • Lack of social control and violence

Morality:  Some people think that they should be able to dictate what the rest of us can do, think, wear, feel or put in our bodies.  It is immoral to have sex.  It is immoral to dance.  It is immoral to sing.  It is immoral to play.  It is immoral to get high.  “An idle mind is the devils workshop.”  The Moral Majority wants to dictate parsimony in terms of who can be idle and who cannot.  Drug laws are made to prevent us from having too much fun.  That would be a sin.

HealthWe need to protect the public health.  The logic here is that drugs are harmful and can do damage to the human body.  The problem with this reason is the lack of consistency in its application.  While it is undoubtedly true that many drugs if taken to excess can kill, it is also true that many legal drugs (Alcohol and nicotine) are very dangerous to the body over a period of time.  The decision as to which drugs are harmful and which are not seems to be purely a matter of popular preference.   As far as I know, there is little interest in banning cigarettes, despite the fact that they do much more harm.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, tobacco kills more people than HIV, illegal drugs, car accidents, suicides and murder combined.  Drug laws are made to protect our health.  God forbid anyone would overdose on drugs.

Profit:  This reason concerns the profit motive with the drug trade.  If drugs were legal and cheap, who would benefit?  The answer would be the larger population.  This cannot be permitted to happen until there is a profit to be made.  Thus, it is more beneficial to wage a war on drugs until drugs can be commercialized and like cigarettes mass produced at a considerable profit to a select few.  It will not do to allow people to grow pot in their back yards or synthesize meth in a kitchen lab.  We have a game here and the game is called MONEY.  Until the powerful with money can figure out how to control the means and modes of production, drugs will remain illegal.  There is presently a great deal more profit in illegal drugs than legal drugs.  Drug laws are made to protect commercial interests and to insure profits for a few.  You cannot have drugs without taxes.

Discrimination:  One reason that has been advanced is a blatant discrimination against minorities and poor.   It is more often the poor and minorities who turn to illicit drugs to escape the lack of opportunities and frustration with an economic system that seems like no win for them.  The data on incarceration for drug use shows a disproportionate number of minorities arrested and convicted for drugs.  (See statistics above from the Drug Policy Alliance)

Do you dig it Man?  If you are rich or a celebrity or powerful, you can get high and no one will care or bother you.  But if you are poor, ebony, amber, ruby or chestnut, the fates will not be so kind to you.  Politics and not reason rule drug policy and the drug war.  More Americans use drugs of one kind or another than at any point in history.  Prisons are so full; they have to release many convicts before their time is up.  What if all the people misusing prescription narcotics were suddenly arrested?  What if the doctors who are over prescribing these drugs were arrested?  We would have to change the name of this country from the USA to the UPA or United Prisons of America.  Drug laws are made to keep the poor and minorities in their place.  You cannot allow the underprivileged to have any escape from a reality that haunts and torments them daily.

Lack of Social Control and Violence:  Another reason is the idea that drugs lead to wanton violence and lowering of criminal inhibitions.  Examples abound of outlandish portrayals of drug maniacs and drug users’ gone lunatic.  One popular one was a movie called “Reefer Madness” in which drug crazed people descend into scenes of rape, suicide and murder.

An interesting study conducted in Great Britain on drug use and its portrayal in the press (Representations of Drug Use and Drug Users in the British Press, 2010) concluded that

  • Drug users were more likely to be condemned than empathized with in all newspapers, but were most likely to be condemned in the tabloid press, where around a fifth of users were condemned.
  • Where the effects of drug use were mentioned in news items for either the community or the individual, these were overwhelmingly negative.
  • Over the sample period, stories that mainly focused on recovery and rehabilitation were few and far between. When they did surface they mainly concerned the appropriateness of government proposals to rehabilitate heroin users.

yellowsubmarine-130438The media needs to sell papers.  Titillating stories of drug abuse and drug addicts run amok sell more papers and get more watchers then stories of drug use that have more positive outcomes.  The hypocrisy here is beyond imagination.  The majority of Americans use drugs every day to treat low energy, pains, headaches, depression and simply for recreation.  Drug laws are made to insure that drug use does not get out of hand.  Out of hand drug use is an oxymoron if there ever was one.

“In June 2011, the Global Commission on Drug Policy soberly proclaimed: “The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.” In its report, the commission — members of which include economists, policy experts, and several former world leaders — argued that, 40 years after President Richard Nixon launched the U.S. War on Drugs, circumstances today demand a new approach. Among the commissioners’ recommendations, two stand out: to “end the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others,” and to “encourage experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs,” particularly cannabis, “to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens.”   National Affairs

To paraphrase Patrick Henry, what are we waiting for?  What are we procrastinating for?  What are we afraid of?  What will it take for us to change these barbaric laws?  How many more lives will we damage?  How much more money will we waste?  How many more people will we allow to die?  Shall we argue? Shall we entreat?  Shall we equivocate?  Are we blind to the truth?  Will we wait until it is too late?  What more arguments need be made before we are convinced?  What evidence needs to be produced that has not already been made evident?  What research is left to find regarding the failure of our drug policy?  What is stopping us from seeing the truth?  How many more people will be arrested before we decide to act?

Newspaper taxis appear on the shore
Waiting to take you away
Climb in the back with your head in the clouds
And you’re gone

You say well “Marijuana will slowly become legal as the tide is starting to shift and public opinion is being exerted on our political leaders.”  This is simply the first step.  It is not nearly enough.  The discrimination and stupidity that is behind most of our drug policy must be completely routed out and eradicated.  It will not solve the problem if we only legalize or decriminalize Marijuana.  The focus on drugs must be shifted from seeing drug use or drug abuse as a crime to seeing it as a treatable medical or emotional problem.  Putting people in jail for drug abuse is cynical where no crimes are committed and no one is hurt.  It is like the old debtors prison where poor people were thrown in jail until they could pay their bills.

It is time for us to speak out against a political leadership that refuses to accept the truth.  The truth is that our national drug policy is a failure.  Those who have the power are afraid of an environment in which the populace can find alternatives to such profitable mass produced narcotics such as television, shopping malls, video games, sports and movies.  They are afraid of a population that can make its own decision concerning what drugs it uses and what it uses drugs for.  They are afraid of an environment where decisions on drug use are taken away from the “authorities” and given back to the citizen.  It is time we “take back our rights.”  Prohibition was a massive failure and simply caused alcohol to become more expensive, more crime and more criminals.  Our current drug war has had the same disastrous effects.  When will we learn?

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds

Time for Questions: 

What drugs have you taken this morning?  Do you consider pills drugs?  What about coffee and alcohol, how much of these do you use weekly?  Do you think that our present drug policy is effective? Why?  What would you change if you could?  Do you know any drug addicts?  Are they criminals?  Do you think they should be arrested and jailed?  Why or why not?  What would you do to someone who broke into your house to steal your pills or to steal money to buy drugs?  Should we arrest them, shoot them or treat them?

Life is just beginning.

I would like to make it clear that while I find some merit in each of the five reasons most often given to ban drugs or to control the sale of drugs, I also find a great deal of hypocrisy and politics in each of these reasons. You may ask: “If someone broke into your house to steal or buy drugs, what would you do?”  My answer:  I would probably shoot them.  I am not condoning criminal behavior or the argument that so and so was drunk or high and was not responsible.  Drug addicts and alcoholics should not be exempt from the responsibility for crimes they commit while under the influence.   You do the crime, you serve the time.

Books, Books, Books, Books, Books

Dougs-booksFat books, short books, tall books, skinny books, long books, digital books, small books, large books, I like books.  Fantasy books, romance books, sci-fi books, mystery books, drama books, classical books, comic books, history books, text books, science books, I like books.  Books are my best friends.  Books are my comfort on a rainy day.  Books are my faithful companions in my journey through life.  Books keep me company when I am feeling down.

Between the Lions: Song – “Read a Book Today”  (Please Listen)

Books talk to me, teach me, persuade me, lecture me, admonish me, remind me, educate me, humble me, exhort me, persuade me, inspire me, uplift me and entreat me.  Books are my solace, my cheer, my consolation, my relief, my respite, my succor and my happiness.  I would give everything I have ever earned, everything I have ever accomplished, and everything I have ever become for one good book.  Nothing is as dear to me as the ideas, memories and visions that I have obtained from the books in my life.

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”  ― Jane AustenPride and Prejudice

Never was so great a day for me as when I learned about a library.  A library is a place where all the books in the world are there for people like us to read.  It is a place where race, class, wealth, education, and background do not make one difference.  A free library card is the entry point to all of the knowledge in the world.  Kings, Emperors, Dictators, Presidents, Rulers, Shahs, Ayatollahs, Prime Ministers and common laborers from Wal-Mart are all equal in the library.

Read A Book – Lynbrook Elementary School.  (Please Listen)

Speed readers are no more privileged than slower readers.  Some of us are there for education, some for entertainment, some for enlightenment, some for motivation and some just to relax.  We leave a library larger, strong and more important than when we entered.  Some of us may have degrees, some of us may have titles, some of us may have diplomas and certificates, but the wise person knows that the only real value is in a book.

“Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.” ― Gustave Flaubert

Books Add Life chest art crop

 

 

 

 

 

My Title:

Gone With the Wind, Moby Dick, To Hell and Back, The Wizard of Oz, A Tale of Two Cities, War and Peace, Les Misérables, The Prince and the Pauper, The Art of War, The Prince.

My title may be the most important part of me.  It must catch your attention and also convey some idea as to what I am about.  This is not an easy task.  To create curiosity, to excite the imagination, to lure a potential reader to a tale or ideas that will take them to another world or another time!  To offer a promise of greater things to come if only you will open the pages that lie before you. There is more gold between the covers of most books then you will ever find in the ground.  Treasures abound if you will only pick me.  Pick Me!  Pick Me!

My Preface:

Here is where I can tell you a little about my history and also give credit to those other books and people that had an impact on my birth and creation.  Sometimes I get carried away here and bore my readers.  I must try to be interesting and succinct.

My Table of Contents:

Frequently, I like to list the information or chapters that I have inside so you can see what I am all about. This is really helpful when I get posted on Amazon or other book sites and you can get an overview of me to help you decide whether you want to buy me and take me home or download me.

My Introduction:

“So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation which, in the midst of civilization, artificially creates a hell on earth, and complicates with human fatality a destiny that is divine; so long as the three problems of the century – the degradation of man by the exploitation of his labor, the ruin of women by starvation and the atrophy of childhood by physical and spiritual night are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words and from a still broader point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, there should be a need for books such as this.”  ― Victor HugoLes Misérables

“Call me Ishmael.”   ― Herman MelvilleMoby-Dick; or, The Whale

“My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people do not know.”   ― Arthur Conan DoyleThe Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle

I can be long or short, but my introduction just may be my most important part.  I need to grab you at the start.  I need to pull you in and make you want to find out more.  I need to peak your curiosity and give you a reason to turn my pages.  I cannot be boring.  That is the only sin I can have, to bore you from the start.  Love me, hate me, but don’t neglect me.  Find out more about me please.  Continue reading. There is so much more I can tell you if you will only keep turning my pages. I promise I will thrill you, excite you, educate you, scare you, interest you but I will never, never, never bore you.

 I Love Reading – Book Song  (Please Listen)

My Chapters:

Here is my meat and muscle.  No room for fat.  I am trimmed and buff.  I have six pack abs all over me.  I keep my chapters uniform and not too long.  That way you will feel like you are making progress.  Every one of my chapters is a cliff hanger.  You will leave one wanting to get to the next one.  You will forget to eat and drink.  You will be late for work and supper.  You will put off your chores.  Time will fly by without your noticing.

You will be so absorbed you will lose weight and not get to bed when you should.  I will entice you with thoughts and ideas that will keep you riveted to my pages.  As you get to the end of me, you will start to feel sad.  It will be like leaving a loved one.  You will want more of me than I can give.  I am sorry.  I loved you too.  But you can read me again another day.

Leer un libro antes de dormir  (Please Listen)

My Ending:

All good things must end.  How shall I end? Shall I end with profundity, climax or conclusions?  Should I be cliff hanger and make you wait until my next volume to get satisfaction as in the “Harry Potter” stories or should I give you finality now as in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?”  Will my ending be bizarre as in Hitchcock or will I lay all the pieces out as in J. A. Vance.  What if I am a serious book, will my hypothesis hold water or will you dismiss me as trivial?  Will I be a one night stand or will you come back for more?

“Ends are not bad things, they just mean that something else is about to begin. And there are many things that don’t really end, anyway, they just begin again in a new way.”  ― C. Joy Bell C.

Time for Questions:

Do you read daily?  Why not?  Do you like to read but cannot find the time?  Do you read to your children or grandchildren?  Do you spend more time watching TV or reading?  What value do you place on knowledge and learning?  How do you reach your goals in these areas?  What if no books were available?   Do you think some books should be banned?  Why or Why not?  Who is your favorite author?  Why?

Life is just beginning.

It you did not listen to the short videos inserted in this blog, you are missing the best part.  Please do yourself a favor and go back and listen to these songs.

Why Do We Need “Free Enterprise”?

free-enterprise_logoLast week we looked at the problems of government.  This week, I want to look at the issues both pro and con with “Free Enterprise”.  First of all, let’s start with the obvious:  “Free Enterprise” does not exist.  It is like the Holy Grail, a wonderful concept but a myth.  There are no free lunches and there are no free businesses.  The purpose of a business is as follows:

To provide goods or services that people want or need at a price they can afford and that allows the business enterprise to make a profit. 

Businesses provide value.  If they do not provide value, they become extinct but much faster than dinosaurs.  Businesses exist in an extraordinarily dynamic environment where rapid change and obsolescence creates a life span for most companies that is less than fifty years.  It is a rare organization that makes it to one hundred years or more.

Why we need enterprise is an easy question to answer.  It is clear that people have myriad wants and needs that must be provided for.  However, why not let the Government do it?  Why should enterprise be free?  Why not have planned economies as in socialism?

Both theory and experience can show us the reason why enterprise should be free.   But first, what do we really mean by free.  We certainly do not mean that products, services, land, capital and human resources are free.  Each of these elements is required for a successful business but they must be bought and paid for.  So what do we mean by free?  What are most people talking about when they equate “Free Enterprise” with mom, God, baseball and apple pie?  

Most people talking about “Free Enterprise” have no clue where the term originated or what it really means.  However, these same people take great umbrage at anyone who questions the role of “Free Enterprise” in the USA.  It is interesting how people will defend things they know very little about.  President U. S. Grant questioned how the average Confederate soldier could support the Southern plantation system when the majority of soldiers were about as poor as most slaves and saw little or no benefit from the system they were giving their lives for.  The same is true for many Americans.  Most people in this country are not entrepreneurs nor are they owners.  In fact, most people own little or no stock in any company.   Yet the average American thumps their chest and cries out with great pride that “I support “Free Enterprise”.

“New data from Pew Research suggests that more than half (53 percent) of Americans have absolutely no money in the stock market, including retirement accounts.  The Pew data show that just 15 percent of people with a family income of less than $30,000 per year are invested in the stock market; as families earn more, their participation in the stock market increases.  Fifty-five percent of those who earn between $30,000 and $75,000 per year are invested in the market, while 80 percent of those who earn $75,000 or more are.”

Investopedia explains “Free Enterprise” “The “Free Enterprise” movement started in the 1700s, when many individuals were restricted from starting and owning their own business without the permission of the government.  The movement looked to reduce ownership and other related restrictions, such as how one should operate their business and who they were allowed to trade with.”  In other words, “Free Enterprise” is about being able to run your own business without the government telling you what to do.  A government that probably could not manage a paper bag factory efficiently.

A number of years ago there was a brilliant economic thinker by the name of Adam Smith (1723-1790).  Smith theorized that the most efficient markets would be laissez faire.  Basically, without knowing the terminology of self-organizing systems which we now speak of today, Smith recognized that the laws of pricing and its attendant mechanisms would best provide for a rationale distribution of goods and services that people wanted.  Today, we talk about Complex Adaptive Systems with elements of sensitive dependency and strange attractors and we understand that the Free Market is best described by such terms.  Pricing may be a strange attractor and value one of many conditions that are described as sensitive dependency to initial conditions.   No human being or government can possibly have the capacity or information to efficiently regulate a complex adaptive system.

Nevertheless, today we realize that rules, policies and regulations are essential to a “Free” market.  Think of a sporting event without rules, referees, penalties or umpires.  What you would have these control mechanisms would be chaos and not a game.  You cannot have an Efficient Market (A more appropriate term than Free Market) without rules.  You would have anything but efficiency and no one would benefit.  So some structure and planning is needed.  The problem becomes one when too much structure and too much planning intrude on the operation of the market. This is what you had in the Soviet system and it ultimately led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Centralized government planning can be invaluable in helping a nation’s economy.  Countries like Japan and Taiwan which have had a close collaboration between government and private enterprise have done quite well in terms of productivity and economic success.  Even in the USA, there is a great deal of unseen and seen collaboration between government and private enterprise.  However, it is the extremes which create the dangers.  Seldom has government planning been taken to the extremes that it was in the Soviet Union or China before the uprisings in 1989.  Consider the comments of David Elton Trueblood from the Ludwig von Mises Institute:

“It is easy to see, then, that the Soviet system represents a far more radical innovation than it would if it were concerned merely with ownership. The nationalization of the means of production involves a radical shift in the power structure, especially in the eminence accorded to the central planning bodies. The system enables the party machine to have a monopoly of power, for they have all but the legal attributes of ownership. Above all, it allows a few who are the new elite to seek to control the total lives of the masses.” 

EcoPillars for free enterpriseWhat most people despise about communism and centralized government planning is not just the inability to allocate resources effectively and efficiently, but more importantly, the attempt to control the economic choices of citizens and the destruction of entrepreneurial spirit.  Soviet communism went well beyond simple economic planning when it decided that all enterprise would be run by the government.  The profit incentive would be eliminated and the proletariat would control the means of production.  Everyone would be free from being a “wage slave.”  However, this so called freedom actually meant that no one would have any freedom over their economic decisions.  Whether or not the odds favor any of us becoming a billionaire, we all enjoy the hope and dream that we someday might be another Bill Gates or Warren Buffett.  Communism kills that hope and dream.  However, it was the Communist policies towards individual initiative which destroyed the dream and not any single model of centralized government planning.  There are many advantages to some centralized government planning and to throw out all such planning is to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Free Markets left to their own accord can be monstrously inefficient and ineffective.  Here are some typical examples of market failure:  (Source:  Economics Online)

Productive and allocative inefficiency

Markets may fail to produce and allocate scarce resources in the most efficient way.

Monopoly power

Markets may fail to control the abuses of monopoly power.

Missing markets

Markets may fail to form, resulting in a failure to meet a need or want, such as the need for public goods, such as defense, street lighting, and highways.

Incomplete markets

Markets may fail to produce enough merit goods, such as education and healthcare.

De-merit goods

Markets may also fail to control the manufacture and sale of goods like cigarettes and alcohol, which have less merit than consumers perceive.

Negative externalities

Consumers and producers may fail to take into account the effects of their actions on third-parties, such as car drivers, who may fail to take into account the traffic congestion they create for others. Third-parties are individuals, organizations, or communities indirectly benefiting or suffering as a result of the actions of consumers and producers attempting to pursue their own self-interest.

Property rights

Markets work most effectively when consumers and producers are granted the right to own property, but in many cases property rights cannot easily be allocated to certain resources. Failure to assign property rights may limit the ability of markets to form.

Information failure

Markets may not provide enough information because, during a market transaction, it may not be in the interests of one party to provide full information to the other party.

Unstable markets

Sometimes markets become highly unstable, and a stable equilibrium may not be established, such as with certain agricultural markets, foreign exchange, and credit markets. Such volatility may require intervention.

Inequality

Markets may also fail to limit the size of the gap between income earners, the so-called income gap.  Market transactions reward consumers and producers with incomes and profits, but these rewards may be concentrated in the hands of a few.

I hope you are impressed by the large number and substance of possible market failures.  No doubt there are other examples of “Free Market” failure.   What can be done about these failures?  The answer is simple.  It is the government’s job is to try to rectify these failures but with as light a hand as possible.  Too heavy a hand and it actually ends up stifling and distorting the “Free Market.”  It is apparent from the current animosity towards the government that it is either failing in these tasks or exerting too heavy a hand in the administration of these tasks.  For instance, government critics might point out:

It is hard to imagine any small business or large business having to sort through this many regulations.  Either the business is inundated with red tape and cannot prosper or any prospective business person is discouraged from even trying to start a business.  Both are not conducive to a productive and prosperous economy.

Conclusion: 

We need ““Free Enterprise” or a “Free Market” because it nurtures the human soul.  It is also generally more efficient and effective than any centralized government planning.  We need “Free Enterprise” as the cornerstone of a dynamic democratic government wherein citizens have the liberty to choose their economic endeavors.  No economic system has yet proven to be as resilient and productive as a “Free Market.”  However, there are no perfect systems.  The “Free Market” must have oversight mechanisms.  Like it or not, without government regulations (just like the rules needed in any game), the economic system would devolve into chaos, confusion and a distorted disequilibrium that would quickly have citizens clamoring for a dictator like Hitler and Mussolini who would promise to restore order.  Unfortunately, people would be buying order at the expense of their freedom.  Hitler and Mussolini both made the markets efficient again but at the price of liberty, justice and equality.  If we do not want to pay that price, we must rely on our government to provide the rules, policies and regulations that will keep our economic system viable and FREE.  See my blog “Why do we need government” for an explanation of what citizens must do to insure that government does its job. 

Time for Questions:

What does “Free Enterprise” mean to you?  Have you ever started or run your own business?  Have you ever thought about running your own business?  What is stopping you?  Can you think of any other country where it would be better or easier to start a business than the USA?  Where?  Why?  Do you think that any business has a responsibility to society? Why or why not?

Life is just beginning. 

Why Do We Need Government?

blog_pew_government_inefficient_wastefulGovernment is inefficient.  Government is bureaucratic.  Government is a parasite.  Government is wasteful.  Government is mindless and autocratic.  Government wastes our tax money.  Government is corrupt and politically immoral.  Government workers are uncreative.  Government workers are lazy.  Government workers are drones.  Government workers don’t care.  Government workers are stupid.  SO WHY DO WE NEED GOVERNMENT? 

My blog this week will be the first of two parts.  Part 1:  Why do we need government and next week Part 2:  Why do we need free enterprise? 

Yesterday, I was sitting in my dentist’s office when another client appeared and took a seat next to my wife.  He immediately started ranting about “Big Government” and how the government was ruining the country.  I listened to him politely for a few minutes and then “counter attacked.”  I said “We wouldn’t need government if the greedy people in business did what they were supposed to do.  We wouldn’t need government if all the citizens in this country treated each other with dignity and respect.  We wouldn’t need government if all the other nations in the world all did the right things and treated everyone everywhere with dignity and respect.”  Later on when leaving the office, Karen told me he was pleased that I agreed with him.  I wondered what “ghost” he was talking to.  I guess people see what they want to see.

“All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.”   ― Friedrich Nietzsche

It is not unusual to hear someone railing about the government today.  Government has become a whipping boy for all the ills that seem to plague modern society.  I have worked in big business.  I have worked in small business in a privately owned construction firm.  I have worked for the past 29 years as a management consultant to corporations, non-profits and government enterprises.  As an Organization Development and Process Improvement consultant, my job is to look at how organizations can become more efficient and effective.  I have had a unique opportunity to witness the disabilities that afflict both government and private business.  Over the years, I have continually observed that the curse or bane of business is effectiveness, “that is doing the right things.”  While, the bane of government is efficiency, “that is doing things right.”  The ideal organization (that perhaps only exists in the abstract) is one that balances efficiency with effectiveness.  To use another metaphor, they are two sides of the same coin.  Herein lays the big dilemma.  How can we get any organization to balance the two when the incentives for accomplishing each are often diametrically opposite?

Businesses see their primary role as making a profit whereas governments see their primary role as protecting the public welfare.  (I will say more about the perils and pitfalls of business next week.)  For now, I would like to explore the reasons why so many people hate government.  Actually, it is one reason, multiplied about a million times per day.  The government is magnificently, awesomely, incredibly, monumentally, epically, colossally, monstrously, inefficient.  I have worked in city, county, region, state and federal government both as a consultant and as an employee.  In most cases, my job was to help improve things.  I was awed and appalled by the waste and inefficiency that I saw surrounding me.  If I had wanted to design a system to be inefficient, it would be difficult to beat the government.  Please understand, this is not to say that the government does not often provide good high quality services.  It often does.  Or that it does not provide good products.  It often does.  Sanitation departments, police departments, fire departments, forest services, park departments, libraries and education departments are run at least as effectively as they would be if in the hands of private business.  The problem is the costs and efficiency of said operations.  The formal definition of efficiency is that a situation can be called economically efficient if:

  1. No one can be made better off without making someone else worse off (commonly referred to as Pareto efficiency).
  2. No additional output can be obtained without increasing the amount of inputs.
  3. Production proceeds at the lowest possible per-unit cost.

Creativity and innovation are the sparkplugs that power productivity increases in the business world.  Unfortunately, governments (which are bureaucracies) are often antithetical to either creative endeavors or more innovative ideas.   This means that numbers 1, 2 and 3 above are generally held at a constant and little or no productivity is gained from the typical government bureaucracy.  Output is not increased for constant costs.  Unit costs are seldom lowered and politics (a disease of government) continually interferes with any optimization of Number 1. Technological changes have helped lower government costs in many areas but such changes are often introduced much later and more slowly than they would be in private industry.

Let’s take one example here to show what I mean.  We will use the education system in the USA to show the poor relationship between increased costs and improved productivity.  Here are the three key findings from a report titled “Return on Educational Investment, 2011.”  It was conducted by the Center for American Progress.  Their three key findings were:

  • Many school districts could boost student achievement without increasing spending if they used their money more productively.
  • Low productivity costs the nation’s school system as much as $175 billion a year
  • Without controls on how additional school dollars are spent, more education spending will not automatically improve student outcomes

From my experience, I would wager that a study on any area of government in the USA would come to the same three conclusions as it applies to employee or worker productivity instead of student productivity.  This is the bane of government.   It is grossly and almost criminally negligent in its inefficiency.

In times of heightened global competition, offshoring and outsourcing of jobs, downsizing of organizations, economic recession, flat or falling incomes, increased unemployment and fears of increased economic turmoil, it is easy to understand why government has become the whipping post for so many citizens.  The government worker who is “here to help” is a longstanding joke and always good for a laugh.  The government worker that wants to increase taxes to pay for things that many of us do not perceive as relevant to our lives becomes at best a pariah and at worse a loathed, despised and hated enemy.  To the latter people, “The government is here to help” is no joke.  Unfortunately, these problems lead many people to ignore both the good that government does and the reasons it is needed in the first place.

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own.  Nobody.  You built a factory out there – good for you.  But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory… Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea – God bless!  Keep a hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.” ― Elizabeth Warren

The role of public goods in the development of the USA is easy to overlook.  We take police departments and fire departments for granted, until we need them.  We scorn welfare and unemployment programs unless we become unemployed or in need of public assistance.  The famous individualist Ayn Rand received Social Security and other public benefits.

“In interview with Evva Pryror, a social worker and consultant to Miss Rand’s law firm of Ernst, Cane, Gitlin and Winick verified that on Miss Rand’s behalf she secured Rand’s Social Security and Medicare payments which Ayn received under the name of Ann O’Connor (husband Frank O’Connor).” Mark Frauenfelder

We ignore the sewer system until our sewer back up. We take our clean water for granted until there is a water shortage.  We take our safe airways and freeways for granted until there is an accident or other disaster.  We trust that our banks are safe and guaranteed secure by the Federal Government.  We rely on billions of dollars of research to fuel technology, industry and healthcare which come from federal taxes.  We trust that our nation will be protected from terrorism by our state and federal military.  We rely on government regulators to protect our food from pathogens and disease.  We expect the government to keep our borders secure.  We demand that government stop our businesses and industries from conducting themselves as monopolies.  Businesses decry government oversight unless it benefits their bottom line.  When all else fails, we all want a government handout.   Student loans, small business loans, and SSI are all deemed entitlement programs.  If you would like to see the entire list of government funded programs click on the hyperlink:  List of US Federal Government Funding ProgramsThere are 1607 programs on this list for a total of nearly 2 trillion dollars.  Some examples:

  • Adoption Assistance, $1,622,700,000 total funding
  • AmeriCorps, $272,752,000 total funding
  • Child and Adult Care Food Program, $1,856,368,000 total funding

If you are in favor of “Free Enterprise” you may wonder why so many private businesses receive vast amounts of public assistance.  Consider the following facts:

  • The Cato Institute estimates that the U.S. federal government spends $100 billion a year on corporate welfare. That’s an average of $870 for each one of America’s  115 million families. Cato  notes that this includes “cash payments to farmers and research funds to high-tech companies, as well as indirect subsidies, such as funding for overseas promotion of specific U.S. products and industries…It does not include tax preferences or trade restrictions.”
  • In addition to the federal subsidies, a New York Times  investigation found that states, counties and cities give up over $80 billion each year to companies, with beneficiaries coming from “virtually every corner of the corporate world, encompassing oil and coal conglomerates, technology and entertainment companies, banks and big-box retail chains.”

http://www.alternet.org/economy/average-american-family-pays-6000-year-subsidies-big-business

Yes, let’s complain about the government unless we are on the receiving end of the benefits and largess.  I laugh when people talk about free enterprise and the American business system.  Scratch just slightly below the surface and you will not find a business small or large in this country which does not somehow benefit from a strong centralized government.  Could the government be more efficient?  Of course the answer is yes.  Could the government be more accountable?  The answer is also yes.

Could the government be run like a business?  The answer is absolutely not.  Never the twain shall meet and that is a good thing.  Business and government have different goals.  Remember the famous saying:  Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?   Translated this means, “Who guards the guardians.”   In a perfect world, we would not need guardians or any other gate keepers.  However, this is not and never will be a perfect world.  Governments exist to protect the public welfare, to insure a level playing field and to help provide and distribute equitably the basic necessities of life for all its members.   Toys R Us, American Airlines, Microsoft and General Motors do not have the same goals or responsibilities as the government.   Even in an ideal world, they would not have the same goals as the government.

“The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.”   ― Thomas Jefferson

I am no different than the average American.   I am dismayed by our political system and I generally have a well-founded contempt for most politicians.  Unfortunately, just like somebody has to collect the garbage, somebody must run the government.   I have little doubt but that the people/citizens get the government they deserve.  Too lazy to vote!  Too lazy to watch the debates!  Too lazy to be informed about their choices!  Too lazy to actively participate in the political process!   Most Americans would rather tune into the football or basketball game then watch any show dealing with politics.  When was the last time, you went to a political rally or read up on a candidates record?  “Who guards the guardians?”  

The government is made up of two major parts.  The first of these parts includes the systems of policy, procedures, rules, regulations and administrative processes that comprise the backbone or structure of the government.  The second part includes the employees, managers, staff and politicians who run the government on a daily basis.  The quality of the government is dependent on the quality of these two parts.  Good people in a bad system = bad.  Bad people in a good system = bad.   We must have the best people we can hire in the best system we can create or we will not have a strong viable government.    Bureaucracy  1

Over the past twenty or so years, the quality of the two parts of the government seems to have deteriorated.   I have no doubt that the “public guardians” are responsible for this.  It is easy to blame the government but as POGO said “We have met the enemy and he is us.”  We are the government.  If the government is bad, it is because the public is not doing its job.  It is because the public is not “guarding” the process.  If the public would rather be entertained then when it gets stupid corrupt immoral politicians, it should not be surprised.  If the public will not pay decent salaries for government workers, it should not be surprised.  And if the public expects that it can just leave all the government to others to take care of, it should not be surprised.  It will get the government that it deserves.  Stupid, corrupt, inefficient and immoral!!!

Many people have noted that fundamental institutions in America seem to be under attack or in peril.  Education, public works, criminal justice, drug enforcement, immigration control and regulatory controls in many areas are not meeting the needs of a twenty first century nation.  Times change and systems must change.  We can no longer rely on systems and policies founded in the eighteenth and nineteen century to still be appropriate for the world today.  The Law of Entropy says that all systems will tend towards decline.  The only constant in the world is change.  We must develop the will power and determination to “change the things that need to be changed.”  The quote “Insanity is to keep doing the same things and expect different results” repeatedly comes to my mind.  We foolishly think that simply by throwing more money into outdated systems that they will somehow improve.  The only reality is as Einstein so astutely noted: 

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”  — Albert Einstein   

As a consultant, I could make minor fixes to the systems I interacted with.  Major change is generally beyond any single consultant and requires total system commitment.  Furthermore, as Dr. W. E. Deming always said “Change comes from outside by invitation only.”  We will only be able to make major changes in government by a concerted desire from inside the system that is fueled by the creativity and innovative ideas that will need to come from outside the system by the entire citizenry.  No single person or groups of people can see the system in its entirety.  In order for change to occur, a systems overhaul must be taken according to the principles of systems thinking.  Like the story of the blind men and the elephant, it takes a variety of perspectives to see the truth.  The truth is that government inefficiency, political corruptness, employee laxity and bureaucratic inertia can be fixed.  The sad part is that the public would rather leave it up to the foxes to watch the chickens.  The weekly NFL game or NASCAR race is more important than who is running the government.

“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”  — Plato

Time for Questions:

What do you think of government?  What do you want its role to be?  Are you satisfied with the government today?  Why or why not?  What do you think you could do to help improve government?  Do you stand up for what you believe by voting and taking an active interest in politics?  Or do you just leave governing to others?  Who should make sure government is doing its job?

Life is just beginning. 

 

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