Thursday, September 07, 2006

Waiting on the World to Change

I really like John Mayer. Especially his new song. However, I have to disagree with his approach. First, the song:

me and all my friends
we're all misunderstood
they say we stand for nothing and
there's no way we ever could
now we see everything that's going wrong
with the world and those who lead it
we just feel like we don't have the means
to rise above and beat it

so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change

it's hard to beat the system
when we're standing at a distance
so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
now if we had the power
to bring our neighbors home from war
they would have never missed a Christmas
no more ribbons on their door
and when you trust your television
what you get is what you got
cause when they own the information, oh
they can bend it all they want

that's why we're waiting
waiting on the world to change
we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change

it's not that we don't care,
we just know that the fight ain't fair
so we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change

and we're still waiting
waiting on the world to change
we keep on waiting waiting on the world to change
one day our generation
is gonna rule the population
so we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change

we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change

Now, the analysis
The sentiments are good, but he misunderstands a fundamental part of human nature. The elite that are corrupting our society now will hand their corruption to their chosen successors. Just because those successors are from our generation doesn't mean they will be any less corrupt. They will continue to attempt to plunge us into a feudalistic society with them at the helm. The fact that we're "waiting" just makes them smile broader. They know we're powerless to stop them so they're taking full advantage of it. Our freedoms have been tromped upon. Our civil liberties abolished. We have our own version of the SS (we call it Homeland Security - anyone notice how these guys go after child porn? No one complains because we all know child porn is bad, but how is that homeland security? It's not. It's the start of our own version of the secret police.) Why will our generation act any differently? The fringe, artistic types such as John Mayer have never supported war or abdication of civil liberties; however, their generations didn't set things right. Why does John think his will? He's completely wrong. Instead, he's promoting the attitude that suits the would-be dictator's perfectly. He's sitting back and watching it all happen. Eventually, it will be too late to stop it.

What can we do to stop it? We have to take away their power base. Of course, we can't rely on them to do it, because they like their power base. Instead, we have to use the one constitutional outlet that they haven't taken away. We need a 2/3 majority of the states to support certain constitutional amendments.

I propose three amendments that should erode the power base of those in charge.
1. Repeal the 17th amendment. This amendment took away states rights and consolidated power to the federal government by moving the election of the senators to the people. Previously, the states chose the senators that represented them. This made it far less likely that a media campaign could buy an election. It also ensured that the person would actually support the state instead of what made them electable. Now, it is all too easy to support a law because it is "popular". Since you only answer to the people, that is all that matters. The Senate is no more than a balanced House of Representatives. Instead, it is supposed to represent the states. Senators would have a much harder time revoking states rights if they had to answer to the state congress.
2. Make the party nomination of presidential candidates AFTER the election of the electorial college. Furthermore, electors should not be allowed to express allegiance to a political party. Currently, the population, not the electorial college, elects the president. This is NOT how it was designed to work. The writers of the consititution knew that the general population is too stupid to choose the correct presidential candidate. Therefore, the general population should choose a bunch of smart people, who choose the president. This has been lost on today's generation. We have to bring back that purpose. The popular vote for a president should never be taken.
3. We must erode their monetary control of our society. The last amendment should abolish the federal reserve and return us to a gold standard. For the reasoning behind this, I would recommend Griffin's The Creature from Jekyll Island. It is a very informative (and very large) book about the history of the federal reserve, fiat money, and fractional reserve banking. It shows how control of the money system directly leads to a controlling, manipulative, feudalistic government.

We have to stop waiting on the world to change and use what power we have as a people to ensure our future.


Mark Staggs said...

Holy crap! That was an interesting post: Start with John Mayer and end with constitutional changes. That has to be a first.

First, you're dead-on about the fact that artists are generally of the same ilk and have the similar viewpoints. And, yes, in the end they really have very little impact on society (despite what their self-importance in most cases).

I'm going to play devil's advocate a bit:

1. Repeal the 17th amendment:
This sounds good on paper, but what guarantees that the state congress isn't going to simply choose their Senator soley on party lines for just the possibility of future political favors? Even the lowest of state politicians harbors hopes of being president.

2. I like the idea of taking away the presidential election from the idiot masses who decide solely on superficial traits of candidates ("He's a normal guy who I think I could have a beer with." Who the hell wants to have an average person in the most powerful position in the world??). Anyway, I digress. The problem with this is that you're assuming that the electoral college will be composed of people who are more intelligent than the masses as well as unaffiliated with any political party. That's a tough thing to find I suspect.

3. Let's go back to the barter system. Most politicians really have nothing to offer other than words, so that should sufficiently weaken the ever-growing hegemony those in power represent. :-)

Cos said...

I finally got around to reading this post, and I have a few more things to add to my commentary.

You say:
The sentiments are good, but he misunderstands a fundamental part of human nature. The elite that are corrupting our society now will hand their corruption to their chosen successors.

While there is SOME truth to this (i.e. the Kennedy’s) there is really more reality in the fact that the next generation of "the elite" are often un-interested in following in their parents footsteps, so long as they have access to the 'family fortune' (i.e. Paris Hilton) What is more often the case is that those things that made an individual the influential and powerful person that he/she was will pass from its position of dominance in a society and a new elite will emerge. How many Rail Barons or Steel Barons do you know of? What is their, or their heirs, influence on society, politics or monetary policy? NONE. Even the Wal-Mart empire is diverging, Bill Gates is retiring from MS.
Yes, a 'new generation' of elite will naturally develop but the notion that they are 'hand picked' by their predecessors is unsubstantiated by history. Even the Roman Empire fell into chaos, out of which small feudal lords became kings, kingdoms became nations, the people of which pressed for change. Change came in different forms and still more change is called for. As often as historians like to tie up such movements as the work of individuals or even small groups (Lenin, Hitler, our 'Founding Fathers' etc.) inevitably it has been the work of the masses that have made these changes come about (and the belief in the positivness of the change by the masses). Remember Lenin, Robespierre, and Cromwell were all instilled by popular uprising, the U.S. Revolution was lead by a few generals, but made a success by the armies that believed in them. Even Hitler was ELECTED. (note: I am not making any form of value statement on the outcome of these popular uprisings, but rather using them as examples of the masses driving change) And who have 'handed off' power to the poor child of a single mother from the backwoods of Hope, Arkansas??? No, we, THE PEOPLE, have far more control over our destiny than you give us credit for.

Terms like 'freedom' and 'liberty' are used to describe an individual's right to DO WHAT, SAY WHAT, and GO WHERE one pleases. Remember, that the phrase "pursuit of happiness" means that a person has the right to pursue a career of his own choosing. (this is the literal meaning of the phrase in colonial context, as supported by the Federalist Papers and other writings by our founders.)

Stop and re-read this last paragraph slowly...

Now, enumerate for me, specifically and explicitly. WHAT RIGHTS HAVE YOU LOST? (Not just 'since 9/11', but EVER) The right to take hair gel on an airplane??? Hyperbole will not do here. You make a grave accusation here and invest a power into an agency that does not wield it as you seem to believe it does. Give me one REAL example of "Homeland Security" behaving in a remotely SS'ish fashion. Frankly, I wasn't thrilled about the creation of a "Homeland Security Department", but more because such agencies tend, not towards acting with too much power, but with too little competence. Every body got so wound up getting FEMA ready for the next 9/11 that when Katrina hit, they just weren't really ready for that kind of challenge anymore.

This is a good test to remember, when ever you consider some manner of 'conspiracy theory', especially where our government is involved, first ask yourself the question; "If half of the people involved in this conspiracy worked at the DMV, would this work?" {yes, this is an insult to DMV workers. Sorry, but two people that work next to you, have ruined your reputation.} The larger an organization is the more Wally's and PHB's will make it into 'the system' and this will collapse any 'sophisticated' conspiracy.

Also, you said:
The fringe, artistic types such as John Mayer have never supported war or abdication of civil liberties;
Your right, they have also NEVER understood that to get those civil liberties required winning a war. A war they, inevitably, would not have fought, and they would have sat waiting for the world to change around them, to afraid to risk actually doing something in order to get something. Fundamentally, they do not understand the nature of freedom, how it comes about, and how it is protected and preserved for them.

Your right, it is this attitude that will sit back and watch the Mullahs expand the global Caliphate around the world, and who will then take these artist types and, when they refuse to convert to Islam, will line them up against a wall and kill them.

If you want to influence the change, stand up and be counted. If you sit there and watch it happen, you probably won't like what you get. Of course, if you don't like what you have, then I guess that is not that big of a deal to you.

This brings us back to your specific suggestions. We agree on #1, plus making the states pay for the reps/senators so they can't vote themselves raises etc.

#2, After much consideration one of the problems I have with your suggestion is that, as we discussed, there is no real good built in incentive to do right. In fact, since the number of electors equals the members of a States congressional delegation, why waste the money on a seperate election, just let the Congress select the President, essentially a parlementary process. (I mean if the parties don't nominate someone until after the election of electors (or Representatives, and appointment of Senators) then only the winning party need nominate anyone at all.) That idea is not with out merit (hey, it works in England, Canada, Israel, etc.) But I do like the idea of the campaign, each individual (or really, team) goes out and says "Here are my ideas" (or they should, Kerry never actually proposed an "IDEA" or a "PLAN", but that is probably why he lost, or part of it. If he actually had proposed an idea/plan/etc then he might have lost 'bigger'). No, I do believe the personalities actually do bring something to the process (otherwise we would just hire a decent CEO and leave it be...) What I believe we really need is not better candidates or even 'better voters' but rather a better (more actually objective) media. With that, better candidates would follow. I still like the idea of improving the electorate by creating some sort of service requirment (remember, in my model, Park Ranger, public museum tour guide, maybe even school teacher, would qualify as 'service')

Ok, and Now I'm prepared to address #3. The big problem with the gold standard (or any metal based standard) is that there isn't enough of it to represent the actual output of the global economy anymore. Remember that any more money is simple the "universal barter", I'll do three hours of programming a month for that truck, just won't work, Ford already has programmers etc. etc. For the global economy to work, there needs to be enough currency (real or digital) to allow for the buying and selling of EVERYTHING. We have just out-produced the ability of there to be enough gold, silver, platinum, mythril, what ever to actually back up the productivity of the economy. Think about the inflation that would be caused because you couldn't buy anything with out currency (In a gold standard economy, there would have to be enough currency to back up electronic transactions), and there just isn't enough to go around. Actually HOLDING money would gain an artificial value that would inflate the value of money, not just of stuff. And that would be VERY BAD. The FED and The Treasury, can watch productivity and tighten or loosen the money supply to (attempt to) assure that inflation is kept under control. At your age, you really don't remember the 70's, the last time we had REAL inflation. Jimmy Carter did, and allowed done, to our economy such BAD things that we were facing another very real depression. (Another reason to thank God for Ronald Reagan). When you watch the Treasury and the Fed acting on the economy, what most people don't understand is that they are balancing influences, often more reacting to the economy than vis-versa. Could they do harm to the economy by doing their job poorly, yes. (Greenspan caused the recession in 91/92 because he didn't properly account for the effect of cheap oil, brought on by the end of the gulf war, US Oil companies and oil related companies (their employees, and the banks and stockholders that back them) where hit hard by that mistake. Essentially, we all got 8 years of Clinton because people blamed GHWB for Greenspan's mistake. (Oh, and the actual 'recession' was OVER before Clinton took office) But that is the nature of the beast and I don't think you will really like what you will get by changing it. An economy is an extremely complex system, rather like an engine. You just don't want to jump in and change the balance of the crank shaft without thinking things through, maybe even simulating the effects,etc.

What I hear a lot of from you is the "voice of discontent". I understand that sound all too well. Perhaps the first place you should start is by checking your expectations; concern yourself less with process and more with outcomes (for the moment), and try to figure out how you expect that things SHOULD be. (What 'freedoms' do you expect that you don't have? What would it mean if everybody did that? Are you thinking you should own a house, a yacht and jet airplane by now? How many of your peers have done that?) The greatest problem with 'the voice of discontent' is that behind that is a little voice that tries to blame everyone else for what we, ourselves, simply haven't done for ourselves.

Tanton said...

I never said the elite passed their corruption to their progeny, only to their successors. You have a habit of reading something into my writing that I did not put there. As for us having control, I think you give us far too much credit.

The main liberty we have lost is the right to privacy. The right to not have our phone tapped and our library records run through. The right to not have our histories scrutinized by big brother. No, these weren't granted in the constitution. But they should be :-) As for the number of Wally's and PHB's. Yeah, you're exactly right. That's what I'm afraid of. The smart ones probably won't care, but the PHB will love to flex his new found muscle.

Cos said...

In a world where the media has taken sides, and is aggressively advancing an agenda, it is not surprising that you are operating under some real misconceptions about everything from the 'Terrorist Surveillance Program" [aka Warrentless Wiretapping] to Library reviews...
Allow me to set very clear that, provided you are a legal citizen or resident of the US (I assume you are for the purpose of this conversation); you have lost NO rights, Constitutionally reserved or otherwise. In order for a call to have been surveiled:
1. The call had to originate overseas, in the early 70’s a Supreme Court decision clearly determined that a call that starts overseas is NOT protected by any ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ and the call ‘belongs to” the person placing the call. These are not NEW decisions; they are, I dare say, probably older than you are…
2. The call has to come from a number or station KNOWN to be associated with a terrorist. (i.e. The call came from a number that was on Khalid Sheik Mohammed’s cell phone speed dial). SO…
As long as you are not receiving phone calls from know associates of Al Qaeda, you have just as much ‘privacy’ as you did before. BUT the media starts throwing around terms like “Warrentless Wiretapping” and people jump to all kinds of conclusions. Remember, with members of Congress like Pat ‘Leaky’ Leahy (removed from the intelligence committee for leaking classified information to the press) and Jay ‘the Memo’ Rockefeller its not surprising that the administration played this one close to the vest. Also remember that after the program was made public several democrats came forward and said, yep, I was briefed and the program is good. Even a few who initially came out ‘against’ the program and then got briefed came back out and said “this is really ‘ok’ and even very valuable.. Or it was till the NY Times blew it.

As for library records, the FBI is yet to actually check a single library record pursuant to the USA Patriot Act. Don’t get your panties in a bunch over things that aren’t actually happening, remember that the FBI has to report directly to Congress any searches they conduct under the Patriot Act, and while usually I am not thrilled about the political component of such ‘oversight’ in this case, because of the politically charged environment, we can be certain that such things would come out.

As for the notion that the ‘elite’ passing on their corruption to their successors (heirs or just ‘hand picked’) still ignores the cycle of industry. The rail tycoons of the past are no more, most other so called ‘captains of industry’ were from industries that don’t exist (at least not as more than a mere shadow of their former selves) and NEW industries and captains arise NATURALLY. Even places like “Mellon Bank” or “Hearst Publications” where the name has remained the boards of directors and executive staff have changed so much that the kind of conspiracy that you allude to could hardly have been perpetuated over the years. There was a study a number of years ago, I’m sure it has been updated but I don’t know where, on which (in part) the book “The Millionaire Next Door” was based. The study showed that over the course of years the number of Americans who are ‘millionaires’ 1) continues to increase and (more importantly) 2) does NOT represent a ‘static group’ but is continuously in flux. Somebody comes along and has a good idea, markets it, sells it and makes a ‘fortune’. Sells the business, retires to Hawaii, blows the fortune and is looking for a job. It happens all the time in this country and that is one of the things that makes America GREAT. Certainly there are perennial names on the “wealthiest list”, like Kennedy, Rockefeller, Hilton, Heinz (yea, her), and then there are names we think of as perennial, but in fact have only been on ‘the list’ during our lifetime, like Walton, Gates, Ellison & Buffet. The ‘Ford’ Family has been up and down on the list. One of the great things that studying late 19th century American History will teach you, if you have the right instructors anyway, is that most attempts to corner or control an industry (railroads, steel, wheat, etc.) FAIL of their own accord (in the absence of actual government intervention to permit the attempt to corner the market, which is actually rare and usually overturned rather quickly).

You figured this out when it came to Senators really being high-priced Representatives in Congress, remember that it actually works very much the same with lobbyist. When powerful groups compete they each will gain/gather/BUY competing amounts of influence. What if Larry Ellison wanted a law passed that said any company doing business with the government MUST run their database on Oracle. How fast would Bill Gates be buying up Congressmen on Ebay? It is not quite that literal, but it might as well be. Then Gates turns around and cashes in his Senators for enough stock to buy Oracle and announces that over the next 3 releases Oracle and MS SQL will become one product. Suddenly the NextSQL db folks start spreading around ‘shares’ of worthless stock around capital hill until a rumor that the NextSQL is going to get a big government contract and suddenly you have a bunch of newly wealthy people buying influence. You can find this cycle in just about every major industry. It is the nature of the market economy.

Now, as for the next question, I want to start by saying I know that it could be considered a ‘personal’ question and so I am not asking this question to be answered online, but rather for you to reflect upon. If you have some ‘thoughts’ to share, that would be great, but you aren’t expected to answer in any real ‘literal’ sense. After that build up, the question is: Just what about your life are you NOT in ‘control’ of ?
I am in the career of my own choosing, though I have change directions many times in my life. I went to the school (university) of my own choosing, in the major of my choice. I live in the home I want, although I would like to make some improvements, I can’t yet, not because ‘big brother’ or some other unseen force is preventing it, I just can’t afford it yet. Sure, at this point in your life, you are probably working for someone, and doing the things they want you to do, but they are also doing something you want of them, writing you a paycheck, etc… And nobody, probably anyway, put a gun to your head and said, you will work for XYZ inc, and you will be a programmer, and you will work in OCAML and you will… I guarantee you that you can stop going to work tomorrow and you won’t be thrown in jail (caveat: unless you are working in some aspect of the defense industry in which you have signed certain contracts… which you did freely…and in which case you are very well paid.) In this market, you can find a competitive job pretty quickly; I know most of the recruiters in my market and have even been approached by companies not in my market wanting me to move to their market. (maybe you should learn VB ). I go back to the questions, what are your expectations that aren’t being met? And, are they ‘realistic’ expectations? Perhaps the most important question, just who do you think actually cares enough to ‘hold you back’? Do you really think that Karl Rove gets a Tanton update every week, just to be sure that you aren’t ‘getting ahead’. Are you maybe, just maybe, wanting something you just can not yet afford (better house, car, job etc…) that you just aren’t ‘ready for’ (can’t afford, don’t have enough experience on the job, others have seniority, etc.) Don’t mistake that fact that you haven’t achieved ‘X’ YET as some indicator that you never will, and can’t because someone else is preventing it. Set your mind to it and you can run the Boston Marathon, maybe not win, but you can run it (certain actual physical disabilities not withstanding, in which case substitute and appropriate challenge.)

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? PRACTICE!.