What would be the one project we all could engage in to build a renewed sense of community, unity and purpose?
So many good causes, so many non-profits. Just check the list of the United Way and the Community Calendar of any community and you will be overwhelmed by the selections.
All worthy causes and yet…..So little time, So little energy, So limited resources.
Got me to thinking….Where in the world do people unite around the same time over the same thing?
Sure there’s Christmas and Easter in Christian leaning societies. But this is not uniformly practiced and sadly other than the exchanging of presents and running up credit card debt, not much more is accomplished.
In the USA, we have our holidays and remembrance days (Presidents Day, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July and Thanksgiving). More recently and sadly we have 911 Remembrance Day.
The 911 remembrance brings me to reflect upon the nation wide movement of remembrance in Israel concerning the holocaust. My understanding is that for a defined time on one day….EVERYTHING stops in Israel for a remembrance of victims and a resolve to never replicate the horrors of the holocaust.
This got me to thinking….What if in the USA we collectively as a nation stopped everything and devoted our time, energy and collective souls to ONE THING. Imagine the sense of unity that this would create. We might once again become the UNITED states of the United States of America.
That said, the next question to answer would be…”What would be that 1 thing that our nation did with laser sharp focus over a 24 hour period?”
For this I have no answer and am open to suggestions. The following issues come to mind:
Global warming/climate change
I’m mulling around the idea of somehow coming to a reconciliation or at least a communication with each other to reduce polarization and take the first step toward averting a civil war. I’m not sure of the logistics of this but my sense is that if we do not start making progress on that front, we will have no chance of tackling the other existential challenges. In sum, we need to heal ourselves first.
Following this train of thought….
What if we didn’t do any more political debates, which have deteriorated into shouting matches?
What if we didn’t spend millions on political advertising?
What if we required candidates to walk together through their neighborhoods and districts greeting and listening to constituents together?
What if we required term restrictions so candidates did not become too entrenched in the status quo and out of touch with reality?
At the most basic local level everybody (both candidates and constituents) desire the following basics: food…clothing…shelter….safety….basic education…..health care…opportunity for their kids.
If we were to cut away the noise of partisanship, maybe we might live in harmony and actually feel better about ourselves, out neighborhood, city, state, nation. Civil war averted. Now that’s the ONE THING we all should get behind, before it’s too late.
Since it’s approaching 20 years since the 911 tragedy, I got to wondering what will be the next ISIS or Al-Kaida type threat.
To answer this question, I considered the level of hate and frustration that built up in the mid-east (and beyond) against America. We have come to realize after years of mucking around with internal affairs of those countries, propping up puppet regimes and supporting dictators all in support of our economic interests that the seeds of terrorism were planted. So from what source will we be blindsided next?
My hypothesis is that the threats will come from the following areas:
Why?…..Vast swaths of this continent suffer tremendous suffering, the basic breeding ground for radicalism, terrorism and resentment. Years of mucking around with their internal affairs all to the disadvantage of their rank and file populations. Sounds like the Middle East scenario all over again.
Similar symptoms as described above concerning Africa. Plus, stinging resentment resulting from USA immigration policies that separated kids from parents at the border. Also, mistreatment of agricultural workers. We love them for their cheap labor but scorn them if they get sick or if we have to educate their kids. We like them to keep our food costs low while we vilify them as criminals and rapists. How long can we keep vilifying and abusing them before they rebel and seek retribution. We buy their drugs and we blame them for supplying us. We declare a war on drugs but look the other way concerning the horrific gang/cartel society from which their women and children flee. We enjoy the cheap products they produce in their sweatshops and can not understand why they risk their lives trying to escape to the USA for a better life.
They have nothing to loose in their countries. We turn our backs on them. We send back the Dreamers to countries and cultures they are unfamiliar with even after they have proven themselves worthy of becoming valuable U.S. citizens
There is a saying that “revenge is a dish best served cold”. My fear is that this dish is about to be served.
Home grown terrorists
If the current rate of polarization continues and expands, I fear that homegrown USA terrorist will breed. There is only so long we can vilify eachother and poke at eachother before there is retribution. The ingredients for the powder keg are present. Income inequality, animosity to eachother and complete distrust of both the govenment and the media. Throw in global warming, xenophobia’s, racism and sexism and we have ourselves quite the toxic soup.
I’m sorry I’m publishing such a negative blog so close to the holidays and new years but it is what it is. I see this locally on the weekends as a mall cop, observe it as I drive around neighborhoods during my weekday job, hear it from family, friends and co-workers and watch it on all the news channels.
Oh well, Ho…Ho…Ho…maybe we all could re-examine how we keep talking about settling scores and kicking eachother’s asses. Maybe someday our specie will look back on these days and wonder why we waisted so much hostility on ourselves and our environment. Now that’s a mega Christmas wish and New Year’s Resolution.
One of my best friend’s recently passed away. She was my wife’s best friend going back to her high school days. Wonderful person who will be sorely missed. Taken too soon at an early age of 65 by a rare disease. The elephant in this sorrowful room is the onward march of time. Our generation is passing. Hopefully, ever so slowly and gracefully.
This got me to thinking about my own career and life. So I’m dedicating this blog to Sue. It’s the type of conversation we shared at one of the many picnics we had at her house.
Let’s start with career reflections:
In my former life as a community organizer, I always thought that with sufficient organizing, most if not all issues, could be addressed. I still have confidence in organizing but the last couple of years and my post-election fears raise some doubts. If a pandemic can not unite us and the carnage of mass shootings can not bring about a consensus that “enough is enough”, I’m wondering WHAT WILL? My sense is that the enemy of organizing and progress is apathy and distraction. Too many persons have given up on having opinions, given up on trusting trusted news sources and given up thinking long term. It’s easier to tune into banal distractions rather than tackling issues head on. It’s become easier to tweet shout.
In my former life as a city planner/economic developer, I worked hard on what I now call “the trimmings”. These are endeavors that included marketing campaigns, streetscape improvements, banners, plantings, antique streetlights, and brick paving’s. All good stuff. But I’ve come to realize that much time, energy and money was spent “nibbling at the edge of real changes”. Looking back, it’s the economic engine that should drive the train of change. Ports created cities because of deep water and sheltered harbors. Towns/cities spring up where the train station and the interstate cloverleaf was situated. Cities declined and disappeared where the train did not stop or the interchange was not built. Gold rush boom towns became ghost towns when the mine closed. Same shrinkage occurred when the oil, coal and any other consumable asset was depleted. Those who did not diversify usually declined and died off economically and physically. Diversification is the key to success on a personal, local, state, national and international level. This is why I have come around to the belief that in the world of economic development, it’s all about the combo of infrastructure and demand. Without demand, your infrastructure can become “a bridge to nowhere”. For example, creating a network of magnetic levitation high speed rail lines with strategically located stations generates far more bang for your buck than incremental, well-intentioned baby step attempts at revitalization. Same scenario could also be applied to a high speed ferry/hover craft system. Same scenario could be applied to a high speed, fully integrated tech system where all work/school and entertainment was done remotely. Good for environment (less commuting, less wasteful building). Good for pandemic mitigation (both the one we’re currently in and the inevitable next one). Good for personal safety in what is becoming a very hostile, polarized world of increasing poverty. This focusing on critical mass occurred to me as I observed a deteriorated industrial building on the waterfront. Intriguing building with strong bones in a location with great potential. However, nearby were two topless joints in a severely deteriorated, crime infested area with no clear path or plan for revitalization. I and fellow investors would not want to be the ‘lone ranger” sinking hard earned dollars into a potentially hopeless endeavor with no overarching demand for re-use.
In my former life as an affordable housing advocate and property manager working in non-profits, low-income housing tax credit developments and housing authorities, I offer the following suggestions: Stop the cat and mouse paperwork/regulatory madness of qualifying for subsidized housing and re-certifying to retain this housing
Consider focusing on a UBI (Uniform Basic Income, $1,000/month) and let people shop in the private market for housing. The affordable housing development takes too much time, money and resources providing too little housing. If the reason for unaffordability is the high cost of the land, then have the government buy the land creating a long term land lease so the cost of renting or owning (if a condo) are kept affordable for a designated period of time. Recommend a one-and-done format of income verifications. Certify them as low-moderate income initially and be done with it. Again, I use my own experience in support of this KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) approach to policy planning and implementation. Reflecting on my own experience, I had the good fortune many years ago of getting a full scholarship to NYU and got a graduate degree in Urban Planning. It was a one-time opportunity. Did I make the most of this opportunity? Yes, in terms of having a career in that field. No, in terms of getting rich, but that’s not the point. What’s important is the fact that I was given an opportunity that changed my life for the better. This was not a recurring event. I did not have to reapply for scholarships and re-certify as done for programs such as Section 8 in housing, public assistance/welfare, food stamps, etc. It was simple. One and done. Maybe we should simplify the process of providing opportunities so it’s less bureaucratic, less demoralizing for participants and less of a financial sink hole for taxpayers. Get one bite of the financial apple to launch you and it’s up to you if you chose to squander it.
That’s some of my realignment of perspectives based on work/life experiences. I guess it really is true that some old dogs can learn new tricks.
How will we get the 70+ million unhappy campers who voted for Trump back under the tent? Trump may be gone but unhappiness remains. There are millions of die-hard Trump supporters just like there were millions of Never-Trump supporters during his administration. Neither will budge. However, unless we build some national sense of solidarity and consensus, we will have perpetual gridlock or worse scenarios that I shudder to contemplate.
So let’s start with some common ground questions, without letting it be known that we are democrats.
Why? Because for some, the label Democrat triggers visions of socialism, Marxism, communism and God knows what else.
Next question: So how do we get to that point?
First question: Do you want what’s best for your children?
Specifically, The best education that’s possible so they have the best chance of achieving their potential.
Answer: Sure. Yes, why not.
Answer: Fully fund education system. Steal a Trump phrase, we can “Make America Great Again”.
Let’s avoid the divisive argument over charter schools.
Let’s not force parents into Hobbesian choices requiring them to enter lotteries in the hopes that they WIN placement in quality schools.
Let’s end the stigma of zip code residencies determining quality education.
Let’s re-examine our learning systems so there are more “learning pods” where kids learn on a more focused, small scale basis rather than the current warehousing environment.
Let’s end the digital divide, the achievement gap and the dual system of schools (those considered “good” and those considered “bad”)
This will address the following issues:
Mitigate Covid-19 infection spread
Lessen chances of mass shootings
Probably less bullying opportunities
Increased potential for learning in small scale, focused learning environments
For older children getting closer to entering the job market, college, trade school or the military….
Let’s conduct a hybrid schedule of academics in the AM with work experiences (i.e., job shadowing, enriching field trips, mentoring opportunities and paid stipends) in the PM. (or vice versa PM and AM depending upon scheduling issues). Make education be work relevant.
Last, but not least, Wi-Fi and full connectivity for all to close up the connectivity and digital gap.
Will this cost more? Probably.
But there will be a better Return On Investment (ROI) and cost effectiveness. Demand performance and results from both teachers and students, something persons from both sides of the political aisle should support.
Let’s maintain local control of education (local boards of education) while providing national funding to equalize opportunities. States rights and limited government folks will like this while the progressives will like funding to close the education inequity gap.
How will this be funded?
Some reduction in military spending redirected to education because in the long run quality education is a defense strategy in a competitive geo-political global economy. Propose an upgraded education system with the vigor and determination on a par with the Marshall Plan, the Space Race/Man to the Moon and the interstate highway system (all of which, by the way, were national defense initiatives).
So who might be against this?
Those that are comfortable (for whatever reason) with the broken, ineffective, unequal system There’s probably no chance of nudging them from the status quo so leave them in the dust and waste no time trying to get them inside the tent.
Don’t get immersed in the quagmires of prayers in schools and transgenders in bathrooms. For those obsessed with hot-button topics affiliated with social/family/religious value issues, let them default to the private schools where education can be customized to their liking. For the rest, focus on the aforementioned proposal for a basic, quality education for ALL of American youth and ultimately a Stronger America. Never forget to underscore this phrase.
Next common ground, common sense question:
Do you want safe streets and neighborhoods?
Do you want to free up prison space for hard-core violent criminals.
Do you want to get those suffering from addictions into long term rehabilitation?
Do you want to augment the police with social workers, therapists and outreach workers so they can focus on being cops.
Answer: Sure, yes.
Let’s stop catching and releasing addicts and overdose victims. Extend the duration of supervised, intensive mandated treatment so it’s not just a revolving door. Follow this combination of a tough-love approach.
Let’s stop catching and releasing violent criminals. Get them off the streets and keep them off the streets. Apply this tough, no nonsense approach to all violent criminals whether they be illegal immigrants or native born. Don’t worry so much about the mother who is fleeing from horrible conditions to find a better life for her children. Focus on the violent criminals (be they illegal aliens or hate mongering local thugs) by beefing up the U.S. Marshalls Fugitive Taskforce to hunt down violent criminals no matter what their pedigree.
Let’s not get hung up on what weapon the violent criminal used. If you’re a violent repeat offender or if your offence is of a heinous, violent nature, you are gone from society.
Take the higher-ground as the unidentified Democrat so the Republicans, Libertarian’s, and others can not corner this market as they have so often done so in the past. With enough toughness (no nonsense) and love (empathy), most people will buy into this. For those that can’t (for whatever reasons), don’t worry about getting them under the tent.
One last point, with a sufficiently tough policy and loving strategy, we can avoid going down the sinkhole debate about the Second Amendment. We can avoid being being immersed in the pro/anti gun issue. We could also avoid the fund/defund police topic because the cops will be augmented with teams of social workers, therapists, street outreach workers so they can be present in the background of incidents should they turn violent. Then the cops can get back to cop work investigating crimes catching criminals. This is presumably the reason they went to the police academy in the first place. Just like why teachers went into the profession to teach and not be baby sitters addressing social issues and traumas extending way beyond instructing in subject matters.
As with the prior discussion concerning education, a society that feels safe is actually a very effective defense policy. Whenever there is a mass shooting or other heinous act of violence, there are claims that it’s caused by a mental health issue. Hold these claimants feet to the fire and get them to fully fund mental health. Make them put their money where their mouth is.
Next question: Health Care and Health Insurance:
If I get sick, I shouldn’t go bankrupt and loose my house. Right?
If I have a pre-existing condition, I can not be denied health care insurance by my current insurer or my new insurer….Right?
If I move from one job to another job , I should still have health insurance, it should remain affordable and there should be no gap in coverage….Right?
If I have health insurance but it’s so expensive that I have to cut back on the basics of food, clothing, shelter, that would be wrong….Right?
If the person that you are asking these questions responds with “no” and has no problem with these draconian conditions, proceed no further. Do you really want such a heartless person sharing the tent with you?
As with any implementation of policies, the devil is in the details. But at least with these questions/responses, Covert Democrats can establish a baseline of agreement. Notice that we are not starting out with terms like “universal, single payer health insurance”, “mandates”, “socialized medicine” or “Medicare for all”, Covert Democrats can not allow themselves to be painted into that corner. Likewise, they need to take the initiative concerning “personal responsibility” since other partisans have cornered this perceptual market. If your poor health and high insurance cost is the result of over-eating, under-exercising and excessive alcohol/drug consumption, then you need to show specific efforts and timeline to address these underlying conditions. If you refuse to help yourself, the taxpayers shall refuse to pander to your excesses. Covert Democrats need to drive home the notion of applying the auto insurance model to the health insurance model. If you rack up multiple speeding tickets and accidents, your auto insurance rate goes up. So if you chose a reckless, unhealthy lifestyle, you need to pay the extra premium for health insurance. If you move around the country and you change jobs, you do not loose your auto insurance. Why can’t this be case for health insurance?
Income, self-sufficiency and safety net unifying common ground questions:
Everybody should have the basics (food-clothing-shelter) to survive….Right?
Everybody should have a sense of fulfillment and purpose in life….Right?
So assuming there is agreement on these questions, what might be the path to achieving this?
Achieve basic survival baseline through a combo of social security and Medicare/Medicaid (which we already have in place) plus a Universal Basic Income (UBI) which we could implement funded by taxation (nominal, not exorbitant) upon the tech/social media giants who are currently skating by with little or no taxes. Since the artificial information (AI) and technical revolution will eliminate jobs for a vast number of Americans (i.e, truckers, bookeepers, retail workers, and any jobs requiring repetition), it only makes sense that a portion of the revenue saved by automation and technology be re-directed to Universal Basic Income (UBI).
With the above described social/financial safety net in place with a minimum of paperwork/bureaucracy, the simplicity of this proposal and the universal application of this proposal will appeal to persons of all political stripes (i.e., progressives who want social/economic needs addressed and conservatives who want simpler government and less government and all the others who complain about the system of winners vs. losers in the government benefits/allocation games.
This will appeal to the entrepreneurial advocates and small businesses persons/contractors who have strayed from the Democratic tent. They will like the potential for start-ups and entrepreneurialism. In a word, good old capitalism.
Notice that nowhere in the above scenario is any mention of income equality and income re-distribution. This proposal is all about providing the bare minimum safety net with a minimum of bureaucratic overhead and the potential for those ready-willing-able to hustle to pursue the American Dream. Now who could be against all of that?
Who could be against any of all of the aforementioned questions and proposals?
Now that’s a baseline from which we could move forward.
I’m proud to be an active member of the Democratic Party so don’t be misled by the Covert Democrat title of this article. However, to use a baseball analogy: To hit a home run you first need to get on base and that’s the strategy behind this proposal.
I may think big government (aka national government) is good. You may think it’s overblown and overreaching. You may prefer states rights.
Maybe there can be a nuanced solution here.
Maybe big government can come to the rescue concerning matters such as national disasters, pandemics and global warming. Let’s save big government for big solutions that require economy of scale.
Maybe the states rights with a more locally based approach can offer creative solutions tailored to local needs and preferences. With education (for example), maybe charter schools, home schooling and learning pods for people of all income levels (see my blog concerning creative education alternatives for details) might best be addressed at the entrepreneurial local level.
The key to getting along in the above scenarios is having some flexibility in our assumptions.
Now lets move to the more sensitive cultural, moral and religious differences.
Let’s jump right in and tackle pro-life vs. pro choice.
If the pro-life position holds firm that life begins at the moment of conception, there can be no compromise on this. If there is any wiggle room on this matter concerning abortions at the very early pregnancy stage, then a compromise might be struck.
If there can be no compromise, then the previously described states rights approach might be considered. If the majority of persons in a state vote for pro-life (for example), then so be it for that state. (likewise for pro-choice if the majority feels that way). If persons in the pro-life state seek an abortion, let them travel to the pro-choice state. If they can not afford such travel, let private funding be available to them from those who support pro-choice.
To steal a line from a song by a band called The Clash, the vexing question is “should I stay or should I go?”. How and when do we know in our personal relations from the family/friend level up through the national level that “it’s time to go”. To sift through this dilemma, I offer the following criteria’s:
TRUST: Once the trust is gone, it’s time to go. You may be able to chuckle at the same joke or agree that it’s a sunny day but if there’s no trust beyond that, then it’s time to sever ties.
Absolutely nothing in common: If you make a checklist and on EVERY issue, EVERY topic, you line up opposed to eachother, it’s time to say adios.
Core values are completely different: If you find yourself feeling that you come from different planets, maybe you do.
How to regain the blue collar, working class, small business contractors, unions, law & order advocates, first-responders, uniformed services, military and moderate-right of center sectors of society
That’s a mouthful and a tall order but here’s how to do it:
Talking points and strategies:
Become Tough-Love Democrats
Firmly establish yourselves as tough-love democrats.
Define TOUGH (this doesn’t mean you have to be MEAN)
Zero tolerance for violent crime and repeat offenders. The message of lock ’em up and throw away the key should be crystal clear. Who could be against this?
Make sure it’s clear that non-violent offenders and persons driven by addictions to commit crimes should not be included in this batch.
Let’s stop the “catch and release” approach to persons suffering from addictions and emotional disturbances and replace it with a policy of “treat and release with rigorous follow up”.
Mandated therapy on a mandatory schedule should replace the current mantra of writing up a report and sending afflicted persons on their way only to repeat this lunacy on a subsequent day. If a person presents a harm/hazard to themselves or society, there should be no reason why we can not track and trace them. Recovery coaches are currently deployed at some hospitals to empathize with and coax overdose patients to seek rehabilitation (this is the LOVE portion of the tough-love equation). I suggest adding a mandated element to this (i.e., tough part of tough-love) to require extended treatment for them. If you are brought to the hospital for an overdose, you do not get discharged until you are enrolled in a rehab program (24/7, full supervision) that gets you clean and gets you to the root cause of your addiction. Why not apply the same mandated supervised/therapeutic regime for gunshot victims when the shooting incident is just the tip of a much uglier issue (gang violence, drug war, etc.).
Based upon documentation of criminal behavior (whether you are a wife-beater, rapist, pedophile, hate monger or road rage maniac), we need to know your whereabouts and be assured that you are actively participating in recovery from your addictions and afflictions.
For the downright violent and purely evil criminals, permanent incarceration with no chance of seeing the light of day should be the order of the day. Democrats should lead with this “Law & Order” stance based on the old principle of “hate the sin but love the sinner”.
Provide the very basics of food-clothing-shelter and medical care to survive. Nothing fancy here. Who could be against this ? (except for the most callous of persons). Food: soup kitchen basics to prevent starvation. Clothing: warm clothes in winter to prevent from freezing and good shoes to get from point A to point B. Shelter: a cot to sleep on and a roof over head. In sum: 3 hots and a cot as the saying goes. As for medical care, if you are sick, you need to be treated and isolated as needed (especially with a pandemic underway). As noted above, this is the formula for SURVIVING, it’s up to the individual if he/she wants to launch beyond these basics to THRIVING
TOUGH: Basics of survival (food-clothing-shelter-health) require that recipients of services must take steps to address the reasons that they need these emergency, basic services in the first place. For example, if you are receiving medical care related to your smoking, you need to take mitigation steps. Likewise, if obesity is your issue, a healthy diet and appropriate exercise regime must be prescribed. Mandate mental/emotional therapy and fund mental health counseling so there is no excuse to avoid counselling if behavioral/emotional issues are the underlying reasons why you need assistance with the basics of life (food, clothing, shelter, etc.). In sum, get TOUGH by treating the causes rather than just the symptoms. When do you have a persons undivided attention? It’s when they need food-clothing-shelter or when they are in a hospital recovering from an overdose. In sum, treat’em when you got’em especially if they are frequent fliers receiving services.
Universal Basic Income (UBI) can be a vehicle or tough-love societal change that parties of all persuasions can support:
If everybody age 18+ who was NOT receiving SSI/SSDI were to receive $1,000/month, think of how much simpler our social support network (aka, bureaucracy) would be. Gone would be the days of the ridiculous cat & mouse game of hiding income. Gone would be the days of bureaucratic entanglement qualifying for benefits, re-certifying for benefits, adapting to ever changing program regulations and requirements. Advocates for less government would support the $1,000/month formula since they would appreciate the simplicity and expediency of UBI. Equally important, these beneficiaries would gain a sense of self-sufficiency and self-determination with nobody telling others how and where to spend the money. Libertarian’s and a sizable proportion of the Tea Party members might support this strategy and philosophy. Gone would be the demoralizing days of waiting in line at the social services/welfare department, something that the recipients of services/benefits would certainly appreciate.
The UBI model with its across the board payment formula avoids the quagmire created by targeting programs and resources which inevitably engenders animosities between the “haves” who qualified for programs vs. the “have nots” who did not qualify. Furthermore, there can be no accusation of discrimination if everybody is benefiting.
UBI would also benefit the bureaucrats. At first blush, it might appear that bureaucrats would be out of a job since they wouldn’t be needed to administer social service programs. Although there might be some workforce shrinkage (which the advocates of small government. less government would applaud), many of these employees could be redirected to be counselors (financial, life skill, peer mediators, therapist, etc.). Persons previously enrolled in programs could be provided encouragement to make the most of their $1,000/month allotment. Deep down, most former bureaucrats would find this much more rewarding than the pencil-pushing, form completing program implementation drudgery of program based service delivery. If they really preferred the bureaucratic format over the holistic, client centered format of the UBI, maybe they should be exiting the profession anyways. Many of these “former bureaucrats” could be transitioned to more productive roles which will be necessitated by the movement to revamp criminal justice, community policing and violence mitigation. Maybe they could be moved from behind their desks to the streets where they could ride with the cops and intervene on the scene where persons are in crisis and their social services expertise could best be utilized. In sum, the tandem combination of UBI and “outside of the box” tough-love messaging by Democrats could create some odd bedfellows. Conservatives would love the practicality and frugality. Progressives would love the kinder, gentler, holistic approach to community policing. Now that’s a formula for bringing into the Democrat tent those segments of our society that have strayed away.
Before leaving the topic of UBI, I have to share an observation that I had during my morning commute to work. I was heading south on I-95 behind a flatbed truck which displayed a huge TRUMP banner. If I had the chance to chat with the driver, I would have asked how he felt about getting $1,000/month thru the UBI. I would ask him how would he spend his time and what goals would he pursue if the $1,000/month freed him up to pursue his dreams. I would also gently remind him that in the not-to-distant future all trucks would be self-driven and trucking jobs would evaporate. I would avoid mentioning UBI was supported by both the democratic party presidential candidate Andrew Yang and by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for fear that he may not be impressed by this or might even be turned off by knowing this. My sense is that this trucker (like so many other persons who feel aggrieved and financially strapped) could buy into the UBI economic argument which happens to have democrat progressive origins.
The following is a wrap-up listing of suggestions concerning how the Democrats can better position themselves to get themselves out of the liberal, big-spending, big government perceptual corner that they have been painted into:
Relentless enforcement of crimes of violence. Put the focus on the perpetrator rather than getting bogged down in the gun rights/restrictions quagmire. Be tough on crime vigorously pursuing both violent criminals and white collar criminals. Bernie Madoff the Ponzi schemer, pharmaceutical price gougers, wall street bandits, and insurance/medicare fraudsters can share their prison cell with the rapists and shooters. Law and order should apply to all criminals from the local mugger who steals the pocket book to the corporate raider who steals your pension.
Relentless enforcement cutting wasteful spending and calling out absurd expenditures. Strict adherence to the risk/reward equation. If the costs exceed the benefits, do not proceed. Taking the Affordable Health Care (ACA) as an example: Call out any situations where a person has been harmed by the ACA and identify exactly how they have been harmed. Did they loose their house because of ACA? Did they loose their business because of the ACA? How can such a person be made whole? If a Democrat could assist such a person, they have made a friend in the voting booth. Chopping off financial fat and finding practical solutions will win over fiscal conservatives.
Relentless avoidance of any foreign entanglements where the mission is not clear and the risk/rewards do not justify involvement.
Relentless advocacy of self-determination and self-sufficiency. Less regulation and more innovation. If people had more choice about their schools and more control over their neighborhoods, they would feel better about themselves. If feeling good can be attributed to Democrat’s, this spells voting victories.
Maybe we should consider a community digital wall where documented (not fake news) incidents of waste and abuse could be routinely highlighted. Call out the pharmaceutical price gougers, the welfare cheats, Medicare/Medicaid fraudsters, corporate/political incidents of corruption, and insurance horror stories, just to name a few. The Democrats could use this wall to identify and champion the populist causes of smaller government and cleaner government, thereby shedding the image of Democrats as the “tax-spend-regulate” party.
As with most of my blogs, I try to conclude by summing up how I have come to some of these conclusions and suggestions, so here goes:
Years of working in the public sector as a community organizer, planner, administrator in the fields of community development, redevelopment, and economic development have brought me to the conclusion that we spend way too much time, money and energy treating the symptoms of problems rather that tackling the causes. We live in the world where we hope that good results will come from our time, money and efforts. We try to turn cities around with trash clean ups, garden plantings, decorative street signage. These are all good and noble undertakings but they never get to the core reason that the city deteriorated in the first place.
Years of working as a mall cop on weekends seeing the same kids get kicked out of the mall for shoplifting, fighting, and being boisterous and belligerent. Replace the “catch & release syndrome” with a “mandated therapeutic meetings with both the parents/guardians and the youths getting to the root cause of their angst”.
Years of working in the mental health and addiction fields, I have met wonderful clients (many of whom I prefer to consider as friends rather than the label of clients). What frustrates me is the fact that the tough-love approach is not consistently applied or allowed. Self-determination is important and must be respected but recurring episodes with no measurable improvement ultimately is of no help to either the person or the society. Without addressing this issue (as with so many vexing societal issues), it seems like we only nibble at the peripheral symptoms without getting to root causes. We fail to take charge of situations in the most cost-effective, time/energy effective manor.
They fight everywhere they go? At the mall, in the bar, on the street, in their own home.
They live on a hair trigger. The slightest comment triggering animosity.
They get mad and stay mad. Grudges become a way of life.
They zoom everywhere. Dashing here and dashing there. Road rage is the norm.
They blast their music for all to hear, whether you want to hear it or not.
They rarely use a trash can. For them, the world is their trash receptacle.
No sentence is complete without the F-bomb. Friend and foe alike are called a female dog.
Angry glances, furtive looks, angry stares.
Anything in a skirt is fair game. If it moves, pounce on it.
They have no roots, no culture. No idea of where they have been or where they are going.
Momentary pleasure and personal gain is their north start. They live by the mantra of what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable.
Their day rarely includes a solitary moment or contemplative reflection. Their senses are downing in music, dance, gossip, social media in all it’s banality of twitter, facebook, snap chat.
They dream big unrealistic dreams. They want to scale the ladder but they are incapable of proceeding up each rung.
Every day is a holiday for some of them. Party here and party there. Their fun is a shallow fun, not the kind of fun that results from working hard for something and achieving a goal. They hoot and holler but they do not experience deep satisfaction. Making fun of someone else is their version of fun.
So who are all these people? They are becoming the face of America. They are redefining American character in all its ugliness and shallowness. Will they change and mature. Maybe. What will awaken them from their slothfull slumber?
The answer: A sense of purpose. A sense of pride in their past, purpose for the present and hope for the future. A sense of community rather that their myopic, me-centered world. At some point, they might find a higher purpose in life. Maybe it’s thru religion, maybe it’s thru military service, maybe they just finally “man up or woman up” deciding to become productive, calm citizens and good neighbors. Maybe not. Maybe they will live out the balance of their life in an angry maelstrom ruining their life and the lives of everyone around them.
I’m from the government and I’m here to help. Trust me.
If you are dependent upon the promise of government help and support…
Don’t hold your breath
Have a Plan-B
This applies whether you are a domestic group or a foreign entity.
Let’s start with domestic groups who put their faith in the government support and promises:
Native Americans. Broken treaties and forced migrations epitomized by the Trail of Tears. Relegated to reservations in the past and environmental injustices in modern times
African Americans promised freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War but Reconstruction was a travesty of justice that ushered in the era of Jim Crowe segregation, KKK atrocities and lynching’s.
War on Poverty established multitude of well intentioned programs but also ushered in an era of big government, bureaucracy, and social stigma.
War on Crime and War on Drugs was well intentioned but disproportionate incarceration’s of inner city residents and uneven application of justice caused more harm than good.
Dreamers who were brought to the USA as children and have in most cases become outstanding members of society attending school and starting careers. How are they being rewarded? Threat of deportation to countries and cultures that are entirely foreign to them.
College students needing financial aid. They encumber school loan debt so they can graduate only to become debtors for many years.
Retires who have contributed all their working years to social security and when they finally retire they are taxed on their social security earnings.
Working poor who struggle to rise out of poverty and wean away from benefits such as food stamps and public assistance only to be penalized for moving up into a higher income category and risk loosing a financial safety net in a precarious work environment.
Residents of hurricane ravaged New Orleans (hurricane Katrina) and Puerto Rico (hurricane Maria)
Victims of 911 rescue workers who had to fight for continuation of medical benefits for 911 related illnesses
Veterans in VA Hospitals who are kept on long waiting lists for physical and mental health treatment.
Persons who received health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act (aka, Obamacare) and are threatened with becoming uninsured again with the threat of ACA coverage with no plan in place for replacing their insurance.
Persons unable to receive Covid-19 testing, first responders, essential front line worker (grocery clerks, retail clerks, truckers, delivery persons, etc.) and health care workers who are not supplied with Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), ventilators and adequate health insurance coverage.
In foreign affairs and with regard to international relations, the following groups have been betrayed by the promise of USA support:
Mong tribes in the mountains of South Vietnam who supported us in fighting the Viet Cong but were obliterated by the Viet Cong and communist regime of Vietnam when the USA abandoned Vietnam
Afghans who supported the overthrow of the Russian incursion into Afghanistan and were subsequently tortured by the Taliban when the USA exited.
Kurds fighting Sadam Hussein in the hopes of USA support of a Kurdish nation that never materialized.
Syrian rebels that supported a overthrow of dictator Bashar and subsequently fell victim to both Bashar (Syrian govenment) and ISIS. They were tragically double screwed the lack of USA promised support.
Libyans who supported the overthrow of Kadafi but without follow up by the USA they devolved into chaos and mayhem
Iraqis who were invaded by the USA and their society was irreparably broken with little hope for restoration of order with the USA having little appetite to remain long term to fix what they broke (and not knowing how to patch up the broken pieces).
Yemen. USA backs Saudi Arabia which backs the Yemen government in it’s fight with Houthi rebels (who have Iranian backing). Again, USA gets immersed in a quagmire with no clear direction and plenty of opportunity for fiascos.
Long term USA allies are no longer sure of USA support/commitment since the NATO treaty/alliance has been recently questioned and there has even been discussion of removing troops from South Korea. If I was a Ukrainian or the member of the small Baltic nations, I would be very concerned about USA inaction as the Russian bear casts its imperialistic glace toward those regions.
So if someone says “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you”, ….be afraid, be very afraid and make sure you have a “Plan B”.
Don’t get the wrong impression by this post. I’m as patriotic as the next guy. However, to maintain a democracy we need to be able to question, analyze and THINK. Mark Twain said it best when he said “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it”.
Through CCTV, cameras and facial recognition those persons who cause disruptions and physically threaten others can be banned from the places they disrupt and the people they threaten.
Persons who consistently cause disruptions, threats and thefts can be banned from sites where they act out. In bygone years, such persons would be banished from the village and sent off to the woods where they would have to fend for themselves. In todays society, the banishment could be site specific. The duration of the banishment could be determined by the severity of the threat and extent of damage or theft that occurred.
The technology exists to enforce banishment. Capabilities include the following: access control measures, CCTV, camera surveillance, and facial recognition. Members only participation following the format of gyms, clubs and bulk retailers (i.e., Costco and BJ’s for example) would quantify who was within each premises and facilitate removal of persons whose behavior necessitates their removal. For years, gated communities and secured entrances have been symbolic of the rich upper classes. Why can’t middle income and lower income be able to secure their perimeters and ban those who demonstrate an inability to live in harmony?
The confluence of the following factors necessitate this emphasis on access control and banning capabilities:
We need to allow entrance to only those persons who are not infected.
In the event that an infected person has traversed the site, the documentation of who was on site and when they were on site becomes critical for the tracking, tracing and quarantining required to effectively combat the pandemic while still maintaining economic viability.
Crime, Disorder, Safety and Economic Viability
Sites that are more tightly controlled through access restrictions with banishment consequences for those who disrupt the order of the site will enhance safety and economic viability of the site. It’s just good business. Furthermore, restrictions and adaptations can be adjusted to meet changing circumstances. Examples include: restricted access and banishment of persons for whom restraining orders are in place, repeat offender shoplifters and fighters will no longer be repeaters. Anonymity is the protective foil for persons with bad intentions. They shun the bright light of identification. We’re already tracking buying patterns and personal movements via I-phones, so why can’t we track and ban those persons who present a threat to persons, property and economic viability of our businesses, our schools, institutions, houses of worship. Some might say this is “Big Brother Overreach” but it’s already happening as soon a you tap your I-phone or computer. Ask the family and friends of persons gunned down in mass shootings (and any sorts of shootings) if they think some heightened access control, tracking of participants and restricting of malcontents documented to be credible threats might have averted or lessened the level of tragedies. I’m not implying that this strategy will solve all problems, but it might mitigate some problems.
Enhancement of Personal Responsibility:
If a person who repeatedly steals, fights, threatens or causes mayhem finds themselves becoming increasingly restricted from places where they can carry on their bad habits, maybe over time they will realize that they are the source of their problems and maybe they will exercise more self-control. This is certainly more cost effective than the current cycle of repeat offenses and catching/releasing syndrome.
How did I come to suggest this strategy/proposal:
Over 15 years as a part-time mall cop, I have see far too many “catch and release” situations. Far too many incidents where actions bring no consequences. Stealing, arguing and fighting persists, often among the same players. And it’s these players who never realize that they are the source of their own anxieties. They live in a viscous cycle which only will be broken if they come to terms with themselves or they encounter a shrinking world where they can carry on stealing, fighting or both. As a community organizer, community revitalizer and property manager, I have likewise experienced chronic bad neighbors and bad tenants who either need to change from within (that’s up to them) or changed from outside (thus the tracking & banning).