Factionalization is killing our country

The United States Congress has betrayed its purpose: the representation of the ideals of its constituents is no longer a primary motive. Rather, the concerns of corporate entities, personal gain, and political favor have corrupted the work our government does and the general population is left to ponder the outcome and live in the aftermath.

This has not happened just this year, nor in the last decade, nor indeed over the last 50 years. It has been a slow and inevitable process brought on by the one weakness in the armor of the United States Constitution: it’s ability to become beholden to factional influence. It is a process described in the Federalist Papers, as well as in George Washington’s farewell address to congress. It is the reason why Washington was against the idea of political parties, and the primary reason why Thomas Jefferson believed that every citizen should be educated: to protect the country from factionization. Their warnings have not been heeded, and our country is failing. It is not the fault of our elected officials, however.

We, the people, have allowed the factions to elect those unscrupulous men and women who pervert their calling in the halls of congress. We have allowed it to happen by not participating in our own government. Congressional elections since the 1960’s have had participation in the 20 – 30 percent range. An average turnout of around 35% has been seen during those elections over the last 40 or so years. After accounting for the non-voting population, that is approximately 17% of our citizenry who are determining who remains a representative.

By deciding to not participate in congressional elections, we have handed our country to the entities that most desired it. Those entities and their bank accounts are now controlling how laws are written and which ones pass.

The cynical amongst you will come forth with some kind of “well, it would have happened anyway” or “my vote doesn’t count” quote. To you I say shut up. The reason your vote is slowly counting less and the reason this is happening is because of that very thought process. Our government only works when everybody participates in its operation. It’s not just a right, but a civic duty to follow, analyze, decide, and act on the decisions your representatives make — in your towns, states, and otherwise.

Whether you voted or not, the people from your district will work to determine your quality of life.

This is not a country for cynical people, unfortunately — a fact I have had to come to terms with myself. Cynics will look at a system and see how it has failed them, see the utter futility of trying to correct what seems so obviously wrong. Our country is designed, however, to be fixable. To provide us the view into what is wrong and the means by which we can repair it. All we need do is act.

The massive turn-out in the 2008 elections and its historic result — while not my personal choice — is an example of the voters trying to fix a system. That election was easy, though.  Can you do it in 2010 when it matters more, but will be far less glamorous? Will you turn out and discard those representatives who have failed you, your families, your neighbors and your towns without the television telling you to do so? Will you become the moral compass for those who have none even if your favorite news station disagrees with your ultimate decision?

We are not lost yet. The factions are winning, yes, but they are no longer a concern when we override them with sheer participation.  We can still reclaim the US Congress and give it back to those who would do a better job of representing the people of this country over corporations. It is, after all, our congress to control. The people who sit in those aisles are merely stewards of our rights. And as stewards, they are beholden to our disgust, our wrath, our choices.

Education: Entry One

The system by which we “educate” our citizenry in this country must be eradicated. I say this not because the system is a failure. On the contrary, our public education system does exactly what it was meant to do: prepare people for an automaton-like life in a world of capitalistic industry.

Current cycle of education:

  1. Critical thinking citizens  are not easily employable in typical industrio-economy jobs: “why” and “how” do not fit into the workaday world
  2. Owners within the industrio-economy cry out that education is failing since students are not “employable”
  3. Government and “concerned” members of the business community develop national “standards” that ensure a student’s “success”, ie employability
  4. Students leave school with the ability to take tests, cram top-level knowledge into their heads, and follow the rules laid out by authorities but with very little ability to truly understand the “why” and “how” of what they do
  5. The industrio-economy is sustained with easily employable citizens

No matter how much money, time, thought, or positive energy we dump into it, what it will produce is a mass of children who are good at one thing: taking orders from their employer/masters. This is, of course, exactly what it supposed to happen.

The fix? Break out of this mode of thinking. Educate in order that critical thinking skills are preserved; in order that each student has a thorough understanding of civics, economics, art, literature; ensure that educational facilities are not tied down to business interests by refusing to accept finances from corporate interests.

Life of late

Having a new baby has certainly changed the pattern of life. Change for the positive, but things are really different. Not that I didn’t expect that difference, of course, but until it’s experienced it really can’t be understood.

With our first child, I lived much closer to where I worked. I could go home for lunch, head home in an emergency, and just go back to work right afterwards. My hours weren’t as static, either. Sometimes I had to work evenings in order to attend a city hall meeting and make my deadline. In short, the experience then hadn’t prepared me for what we’re going through now.

I live at least one and a quarter hour away from where I work, and that’s at the whim of public transit. My hours are more rigid, so I can’t stay up all night. My wife is somehow able to do so as needed, though, and for that I can’t do anything but praise her.

I was talking about life being different though, wasn’t I? There’s a lack of casualness about things. Every action takes on even more meaning than they had before. Decisions impact our family just that much more with the baby here.

My time with my son has become more important. To both show him that he’s still loved, as well as to be able to inspire and teach and guide him are now my charges. My time with my wife, as well. We are desperate for a few private moments, but they are nigh-impossible to come by since the birth.

Is it worth it? Hell yes. Do I have second thoughts? Of course not. Life has become, however, observably different, and because of that it’s all the more remarkable.

Mass. House approves “Pandemic” bill

Mass. House approves bill allowing quarantines – Boston.com.

The article written by an AP journalist and published by the Boston Globe doesn’t mention when the vote took place on this bill or what the bill is. That lack of information is unacceptable since this bill has been around some time. Below is a brief history of the bill passed today with links to appropriate texts published by the Massachusetts government.

The two bills that make up this discussion are Senate bill number 2028 — nee, Senate 18 — and House bill number 108. In looking at the history of the Senate bill, you can see that the number was changed to House 4271 after it left the Committee on Ways and Means and was voted on today.

The next step is for the disagreements in the Senate and House versions of the bills to be hammered out, voted on and then sent to the Governor for signing. At this point, my guess is that it will go through with very little debate as the Senate and House bills are very very similar.

If you don’t want this to pass, this is your last chance to do something about it. Call your local representative and tell them why you don’t want this bill to go through. Make your argument very clear, though, and stay away from the “it’s unconstitutional” thing. There is a clause in the Massachusetts Constitution in the article on property rights that reads thusly (emphasis mine):

Article X. Each individual of the society has a right to be protected by it in the enjoyment of his life, liberty and property, according to standing laws. He is obliged, consequently, to contribute his share to the expense of this protection; to give his personal service, or an equivalent, when necessary: but no part of the property of any individual can, with justice, be taken from him, or applied to public uses, without his own consent, or that of the representative body of the people. In fine, the people of this commonwealth are not controllable by any other laws than those to which their constitutional representative body have given their consent. And whenever the public exigencies require that the property of any individual should be appropriated to public uses, he shall receive a reasonable compensation therefor. [See Amendments, Arts. XXXIX, XLIII, XLVII, XLVIII, The Initiative, II, sec. 2, XLIX, L, LI and XCVII.]

As you can see, as long as Massachusetts citizens’ representatives give permission, the Constitution of this “Commonwealth” allows the removing of one’s property by the government. This bill is, in fact, constitutional according to the rules of the state. It may be unconstitutional at the federal level, but since it only affects state residents that’s a moot point.

You want my advice? Appeal to the more Libertarian nature of your representative and/or senator. Ask them whether they relish the idea of family members being forced to be vaccinated against their will. As them whether they trust future governors to understand exactly what a “statewide health emergency” entails. Is it the flu? An outbreak of the common cold? What about the vastly under-powered “Swine-flu”?

This bill only goes into effect as long as there’s a state of emergency. The logical question, then, is exactly what constitutes that state, and do we trust a single person — Governor — to declare it?

Follow up:

On further reading, the Massachusetts Constitution does allow for protections from search and seizure, however (Article XIV). That said, there is also a clause that allows for declarations of emergency (Article XX). There’s some fodder in there for an argument of unconstitutionality, I suppose, but I still say that the best arguments lie on other paths.

Respiratory infection …

So, it turns out being dizzy is an interesting side-effect of having an upper respiratory infection. I’ve never had one of these, so that’s new to me!

Here’s a picture of where I’m sick.

Doctor’s orders? Stay home, get rest, drink fluids (I imagine that coffee and/or mead don’t count), and otherwise live a boring life until I feel better. Good times.

So what do I do? Play Bejeweled over on Facebook, try to come up with things about which I can write — this being one of the only topics I can handle right now.

I’m supposed to be back in action tomorrow morning, so we’ll see what happens.