Wednesday, December 29, 2010

American Democracy - Broken Beyond Repair?

Excerpt from "To Sail Beyond the Sunset" by Robert A. Heinlein. This is Jubal Harshaw explaining the base problem of democracy in our world to Maureen, the heroine of the story.

"the America of my time line is a laboratory example of what can happen to democracies, what has eventually happened to all perfect democracies throughout all histories. A perfect democracy, a "warm body" democracy in which every adult may vote and all votes count equally, has no internal feedback for self-correction. It depends solely on the wisdom and self-restraint of citizens... which is opposed by the folly and-lack of self-restraint of other citizens. What is supposed to happen in a democracy is that each sovereign citizen will always vote in the public interest for the safety and welfare of all. But what does happen is that he votes for his own self-interest as he sees it... which for the majority translates as "Bread and Circuses".

`"Bread and Circuses" is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure. Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, the day marks the beginning of the end of that state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader - the barbarians enter Rome."

I believe that our system may very well be broken beyond repair and that the only place left for America and it's glorious democratic experiment to go is into the history books. Long gone are the days of hope and optimism, and I don't see them returning anytime soon. As long as the overeducated imbeciles with no common sense, and the idiots with too much common sense and no education have the ability to vote - we may be doomed. To what, only time will tell.

Maybe I am being too cynical. We have some bright minds who are able to come up with solutions, and I would rather think that is the case. I believe in the basic goodness of mankind - and I hope rather than going down in flames, the United States of America can become a more perfect union. I guarantee however, that it will never happen under our current system of government.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What do you value?

What is most important to you in your life? What are your priorities?

These are just a couple of the things I've been asking myself lately. One of the most important aspects of self improvement is the ability to take an internal picture, pull it out and scatter it all over the table so you can get a detailed view of what it is you want to improve before you work to make those improvements. Another important part of self improvement is the ability to internalize values that are important to you. Without values, the substance of any change will never be a permanent change, something that you want to be able to announce to the world through your everyday actions and interactions. Let me give you an example.

I am currently attending class at Cornerstone University in pursuit of my Bachelor's degree in business management. I discovered last week that my two older boys were having their winter holiday program at their school on Tuesday evening.

My wife and I had discussed the importance of my being in class, especially since it is an accelerated program. I got to my school this past Tuesday evening, and had some time before class, so I called my wife. Instead of hearing her voice, my son picked up the phone, and asked me, "Daddy are you coming to our school program tonight?". I had to tell him, "no bud, I have class tonight, I wish I could be there." At that point he started crying, and it nearly brought me to tears.

I had taken a look at my values recently and one of them highest on my list was spending more time with my boys. Hearing how the fact that I wasn't going to be there affected him in that way changed my mind for me. I told my wife when she got on the phone that I was on my way home, and not to tell the boys just yet, I wanted to surprise them. I got home and the boys were ecstatic to see me. I called my professor to let him know the decision I had made, that I would be late for class but told him why and that I would be there by the first break. He very much appreciated the heads up. Then I proceeded to enjoy the holiday program, seeing the smiles on my childrens faces as both of their parents looked on from the audience. They may not remember that their father made it that evening, but I am sure they would have remembered for the rest of their lives if their father had NOT made it.

I left as soon as the program was over, and got to class, participated in discussions and group interactions and got a full class experience in half the time as well. It was well worth it to me that I had taken my value to heart and sacrificed one commitment for another one that I held more dear. My children may never thank me for it, but I know it's importance....that's all that matters.