“Sister Morphine,” Tell Me What You Poll, I’m So Tired of Thinking

The days preceding the June 7 Democratic Primaries were radioactive with energy from both of the campaign staffs.

Then A. P. and Twitter sauntered–or did it nobly step up and simply announce their journocorp propaganda–(I still can’t understand how Absentee Ballots in California are counted and regularly released to the media.) Will there ever, in this pretense of a democracy (no Constitutional right to vote: States control) be an election where polls will be silenced, where early results will be prohibited, and–god forbid–people will have to do their own thinking and feeling and make up their own minds without deciding which popularity group they do or don’t want to join? “This” is democracy? Was this some monster which was created by abhorrent machinations of elites to further treat the people as if some school of fish they were managing?

Responsibility?

The New York Times reported in a February 22, 2013 article, Mindful of Bubbles in a Boom for Deals, by James B. Stewart, that according to Thomson Reuters, in the first two months of 2013, there have been more than a thousand mergers and acquisitions, valued at more than $162 billion, which is more than twice the increase over the same period in 2012. At this current rate of mergers and buyouts, the total for 2013 could be more than $2 trillion, which will greatly surpass the $1.57 trillion in 2007, before the financial crisis spread across the world.

The last few years have witnessed increasing reports of record levels of corporate profits, while layoffs and unemployment increase, leaving citizens and governments virtually powerless to institute any substantial changes, with most governments also unwilling to even attempt to institute changes to improve the lives and income of working people, the 99%.

Yet, our various media sources, politicians, and scholars continuously pump out reports of how so many economic, social, and environmental conditions continue to deteriorate, heightening the sense of crisis, fear, and powerlessness in the hearts and minds of so many billions of people. That is, if those billions of people are actively paying attention rather than attempting to seek some balm of escapism from their feelings of powerlessness, or even shame.

Responsibility?

How can we effectively and morally discuss the issues of responsibility for these gargantuan challenges we are all confronted with, in terms of the average citizen worker and consumer?

I cannot find within myself any moral right to suggest that unless everyone does at least something to begin to turn back this tsunamic tide of decline in our quality of life that they are irresponsible: I suggest that, whether considered consciously or not, each person has the unquestionable right to live their own life as they must, as long as they are not directly responsible for any damage to anyone else’s life and limb. That said, then how can we effectively discuss the issue of responsibility, a subject which is paramount to any relational, social, or political condition?

I suggest that we each consider if there is not, in fact, some minimal efforts we can make to both improve the potential of our own lives and the lives of most people who share this planet with us: Each hand lifting water at the edge of the ocean could create, if not literally, then at least figuratively, a tsunami of change which could be seen and felt by most who cared to look. What change could this be, what would it look like? As for responsibility, it would not actually require all of us to be responsible for that effort, for that commitment to change, only a tipping point of a few million, but those few million acting in some sense of a chorus of unity, a chorus of recognized and committed responsibility, freely chosen and freely given in a sacred and compassionate act of sharing.

It is really quite simple, but not easy: The United States represents the most powerful economic and political force among all the nations of this world, and historically presents itself as the model of democracy and human rights.

However, much of that presentation is a great deception, a deeply embedded lie, arising for the most part out of our own willingness to be decieved, lest we risk the pain of coming face to face with how our own culture and government actually places very little value on our individual lives, and has never actually attempted to create a social and legal structure to provide for the general welfare, in grave contradiction to what the Preamble of our Constitution claims.

How much unity of voice would actually be required to change our social and legal structure, how much expenditure of energy would we have to invest in order to turn this great battleship of our country around and begin to change our system, to bring forth “a new nation, conceived in liberty for all”? I suggest that if some few million of us only spent five minutes a week for some six or seven months engaged in the same general conversation about the proposal on this site for a set of major Constitutional amendments, then we would witness the “tsunami” of potential change happening right before our eyes and within our hearts: We just have to agree and commit to this singular, united effort, and consistently devote a minimum of five minutes a week, discussing this proposal with our families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

At the same time, we must be ever vigilant about becoming invested in efforts for social and political changes which only address symptoms of what ails our nation and our world, rather than what is really missing from our fundamental social and political structures. We can too easily be drawn into actions which might make us feel better about ourselves and our sense of commitment, but will not actually bring about the fundamental kinds of changes which will generate new roots sprouting with ever-lasting green shoots.

As I said, “it is really quite simple, but not easy.” And the world has never witnessed such a small but united and powerful commitment. We just have to do it. Five minutes a week for some six or seven months. Do you have a place in your heart to commit to that few minutes a week?

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Security of Systems and Intelligence Blocked by Corporations Until They are Given Control

As the New York Times continues to report, now in its February 12, 2013 article Obama Order Gives Firms Cyberthreat Information, the president’s executive order is virtually meaningless because it does not include authorization for minimum standards for protecting critical infrastructure, because such authorization requires Congressional approval and that approval has been continuously blocked by Senator John McCain and other senators, acting as the voice of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Since 9/11, private corporations have gained increasing yearly profits of many billions of dollars as government sought security and intelligence assistance from private industry, after large numbers of skilled intelligence analysts and operatives left government employ, lured by huge salary increases within the growing expansion of security and intelligence divisions of major multinational corporations, explicitly encouraging the evolution of the increasing control of our national security by private corporations, corporations whose loyalty is fundamentally to profits and shareholders, while at the same time, many of these corporations also serve other foreign nations.

Once this public-private relationship acquired a critical level of competition for control with both other corporations and Congress, Congressional oversight became increasingly blocked as exemplified by the lack of the yearly Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2005 through 2009. Only when Congress relented in its demands for significant oversight of most of the intelligence and security programs which we had allowed to evolve, directed by private corporations, were the annual passages of Intelligence Authorization Acts allowed to resume: The People’s voice and participation were once again pushed further into the depths of irrelevance and incapacity, increasing the power, year by year, of the corporate aristocracy.

However, the New York Times continues to promote the illusion of journalistic oversight with the use of Orwell’s double-speak as it allows private security executive Dale Peterson, founder of Digital Bond, to appear as the apparent voice of reason and incredulity of the government’s lack of leadership. “The executive order is about information sharing – it does not even begin to address the real problem, which is that these systems are completely insecure,” they quote Peterson. Peterson continues, “I’m amazed that 11 ½ years after 9/11, the government hasn’t even had the courage to say, ‘You need to replace this insecure equipment.’ If you get on these systems, they have no security and you can do whatever you want.”

And, unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening. The New York Times, as if dramatically wringing their hands in frustration, concludes by informing us that “some 198 attacks on the nation’s critical infrastructure systems were reported to the agency [Department of Homeland Security] last year, a 52 percent increase from the number of reported attacks in 2012.”

So, rather than Al Qaeda holding the U.S. and The People’s security hostage, we have evolved to finally allow virtual total control to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its aristocratic members, the multinational corporate principalities.

Hope looms only when the voice of The People will rise to be heard in a Congress created by substantive Constitutional amendments empowering The People with a Constitutional right to vote and a Congress created by Constitutional amendments to promote a real representative republic of The People, instead of the continuation of The Royal Reign, representing our Aristocracy’s Money.

Until then, The People’s “Voice” will continued to be buried in the missing paragraphs of our major media, such as the New York Times, paradoxically one of the media sources we continue to be helplessly dependent upon.

Addendum: February 16, 2013

Spies for Hire, by Tim Shorrock, is the fundamental source to begin reading about this modern public-private partnership which promoted the evolution of the private intelligence and surveillance industry in the United States.

Top Secret America, a Washington Post project reported by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, brings much of the material originally developed by Tim Shorrock—but not credited to him by Priest and Arkin, unfortunately—up to date, revealing the depth and breadth of the private intelligence-surveillance industry which continues to grow within the United States, supported by our federal government as a helpless addict would support his dealer.

Priest and Arkin’s Washington Post series was then developed into a book, and a PBS Frontline program.

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Evolutionary Adaptation of Status Supports Individual, Defeats Society’s Well-being

Abstract

1) Evidence continues to increase that the most evolutionary adaptive advantage a human can acquire and maintain is “status.” The gravity of the implications of this are explored below, the most important of which is that in order to maintain a high level of status one does not actually need to contribute to the greater well-being of society. This enables many to accrue substantial wealth and societal support while maintaining a personal high level of well-being and longevity while not actually contributing to the well-being of society. In effect, this indicates that the “cheaters” which Evolutionary Psychology claims we are highly adapted to perceive and eliminate are not actually eliminated, but are, instead, enhanced.

2) Systemic solutions are the only solutions which can address the highly complex needs and challenges of complex modern human societies. If the actual needs of human complex societies are not actually represented or addressed in our systems of government which control the direction of discourse about our needs and the allocation of trillions of dollars, then our complex human societies and our environment will continue to deteriorate.

How these two challenging conditions have evolved and function are explored in more detail below.

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I believe that there are two most critical issues that we need to be aware of, understand, and accept the most grave implications of if we are to commit ourselves to an understanding of well-being and make significant efforts to maintain and improve our individual well-being and our society’s well-being. And by “grave” in this context, I mean it as a true analog of the physical law of gravity:

How many of us would presume to direct our lives believing that we could ignore Newton’s Laws of Gravity, and continue to live safely in our physical movements and in the many structures we build?

I suggest that there are social, political, and epidemiological analogs to the significance of gravity which are not greatly complex, but which do require our attention, understanding, and acceptance if our species and our planet are to continue to support the lives of our children and grandchildren.

Many find interest in the social activism work and the scholarly and scientific writing which many people devote significant contributions to, or even their whole lives, revealing in great detail how our many and diverse problems continue and often how they are actually much worse than we may presume until we look closer and evaluate the relevant texts.

It is without a doubt that we benefit from these insightful revelations, studies, and books left for posterity.

As someone who has also been involved in social change and has deep concerns about many of our political, social, cultural, educational, environmental, and spiritual/psychological challenges, I have come to a conclusion that there are two even larger challenges that embrace and include all of those major categories:

The first is that while many individuals and institutions are able to perpetuate careers and income, and long-term social support and recognition in their efforts to reveal and address the issues of our social or scientific challenges which they focus on, there is also growing evidence that those efforts may actually be hindering the actual kinds of changes which those individuals and institutions publicly proclaim or infer with their evidence and expertise.

This counter effect is a result of the evolutionary adaptive advantage that status has on well-being:

Evidence continues to grow that status is the fundamentally determinative factor for our well-being. I have mentioned this here before and I will reiterate and expand upon it with additional research recently released.

The first class of studies are known as Whitehall I and Whitehall II. These long-term studies, in the spirit of the Framingham longitudinal studies (although perhaps not quite as many years involved), focused on the lives of individuals who worked in what is known in England as “Whitehall,” the collective term for which in the U.S. we might refer to Capitol Hill and Foggy Bottom (State Dept., etc).

For Whitehall, the project has been so long-term (beginning in 1967) that many of the links, such as at Wikipedia, are now dead, but using Google Scholar one will likely be successful at obtaining a number of them.

One of the more recent pages collects various aspects of the work and the studies.

The individual who began to lead the Whitehall studies is Professor Michael Marmot.

A Wikipedia page, while it has some dead links at the bottom, gives a very good basic history of the issues and results.

***

In the U.S. recently, work was reported in the New York Times, “It’s Easy Being King,” and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that reinforces the relationship between elevated status and well-being. I include the title, authors, abstract, and link below:

Leadership is associated with lower levels of stress

Gary D. Sherman, Jooa J. Lee, Amy J. C. Cuddy, Jonathan Renshon, Christopher Oveis, James J. Gross, and Jennifer S. Lerner

Abstract

As leaders ascend to more powerful positions in their groups, they face ever-increasing demands. As a result, there is a common perception that leaders have higher stress levels than non-leaders. However, if leaders also experience a heightened sense of control— a psychological factor known to have powerful stress-buffering effects—leadership should be associated with reduced stress levels. Using unique samples of real leaders, including military officers and government officials, we found that, compared with non-leaders, leaders had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and lower reports of anxiety (study 1). In study 2, leaders holding more powerful positions exhibited lower cortisol levels and less anxiety than leaders holding less powerful positions, a relationship explained significantly by their greater sense of control. Altogether, these findings reveal a clear relationship between leadership and stress, with leadership level being inversely related to stress.

*

I believe that these two bodies of work reveal the most significant issues we need to understand as we commit ourselves to life-long learning and participate in any improvement of our individual lives and our social systems.

There is also a great irony with this second study: It does not refer at all to the Whitehall Studies, despite that fact that it does make significant references to the work of Robert Sapolsky, who almost always includes Whitehall references in his work because they are the seminal studies in his field. This PNAS paper does make one brief 1984 reference to a paper by Michael Marmot.

It seems both ironic to me that this PNAS publication does not refer to Whitehall, but then it also makes sense, if evaluated under the light of “status”:

If status is the most important evolutionary adaptive advantage, then we must have also evolved mechanisms to maintain it which are not necessarily conscious. In publishing a paper such as the PNAS paper above, to include and cite more relevant work than is necessary to meet the conventions of modern scholarly publishing would mean to reduce, by sharing, the level of status which the subject paper could potentially achieve for its authors with its publication.

I have, for many years now, been considering these issues and considering them under the light of the many, many excellent books, journal and newspaper articles published which present resounding and clear evidence of the many “grave” issues our society and planet faces.

However, virtually none of these excellent publications and authors are proposing the radical (i.e., original meaning, focused on the central issue) solutions which are necessary to alleviate our ever-increasing social, political, economic, educational, and environmental challenges.

And it occurs to me that one possible, but perhaps even more likely, reason is that it would be to the individuals and institutions disadvantage to potentially threaten their achieved status by either consciously considering the root nature of our problems or making those insights publicly associated with their work.

Consider the simple facts: Persons A, B, and C, etc., are living lives of great economic and social success while publishing work, which is virtually without challenge, yet also revealing with great detail and insight our many great problems — but not systemic solutions.

One recent concrete example is glaringly made by how the recent book by two major authors in the Washington, D.C. milieu have suddenly become pariahs is portrayed by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein’s It’s Even Worse Than it Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism.

These two long-time members of the Washington, D.C. system, offering bi-partisan reviews and analyses, have suddenly realized that even their “reasonable” level of critique is now no longer acceptable, that virtually all discourse approaching substance will not be tolerated for long.

I offer a simple analogy to how we are all challenged by this:

Consider a fair sized dining table, with perhaps 12 to 15 chairs around it, and all present are enjoying a substantial meal and interesting discourse, and achieving greatly important maintenance of their social status. The experience is central to human adaptive needs and enjoyment (unless, perhaps if it is our “family” table, but that presents a separate issue).

Now consider that you have no place at the table, and are literally left to crawl along the floor hoping for some nurturing scraps to fall or to overhear some useful information that you might not otherwise have access to.

I suggest that the above analogy is an accurate analogy for the problems that face the 99%: We do not have a “seat” at the table, and until we do, we are contributing to the perpetuation of an evolutionary adaptive system which only steadily increases the benefits of those with elevated status.

The National Academy recently released a report, “US Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health-Prepublication.”

The report (uncorrected proof) is available here, after registering:

In brief, the report concludes that “Deaths before age 50 accounted for about two-thirds of the difference in life expectancy between males in the United States and their counterparts in 16 other developed countries, and about one-third of the difference for females. The countries in the analysis included Canada, Japan, Australia, France, Germany and Spain.”

The National Academy report I offered here last week on how our adult health is the lowest of 16 other developed countries is simply further conclusive evidence that we are not doing what we need to do in order to even maintain our _current_ level of societal well-being: Left as things are, it will only continue to decline.

The only solution is to make a clear and concerted effort that we gain a “seat” at the table, or more accurately, gain a seat at the table for someone who will actively and truly _represent_ what we need.

Many might perhaps say, “well, I don’t know if I know enough about politics in order to know what to do.” I suggest that the resolution of that is simple: Do you believe you have a “seat at the table” or not?

Also, I suggest that we also need to consider that we are still fighting the U.S. Civil War, that our country’s “ancient history,” including our so-called “revolution” (which I will leave for another time) continues to have a major impact on our social and political well-being:

Pew Research: “Civil War at 150: Still Relevant, Still Divisive

and a CNN poll with “Questions about the Civil War“:

In addition, if you follow the petitions at this link you can see how many people in many southern states are actively petitioning to secede from the United States.

In conclusion, I suggest that our current system is maladaptive in the most ironic way:

While we often read scholarly and scientific publications with great interest, almost all of the people who gain and maintain elevated status by maintaining and promoting scholarly work and recognition detailing our many problems are actually harming us because, while their well-being is maintained and increased, the well-being of the 99% continues to decline because we do not “have a seat at the table,” because most of those in the well-maintained levels of upper status are not offering or including systemic solutions for change to help us:

They are only providing descriptions of our never-ending number of problems, which at best only adds to our awareness of issues that are harming us, which increases our potential for feeling shame, disconnected, and powerless, and ultimately adds no benefit to the well-being of the 99%, instead, only maintaining or increasing the status of the author.

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Revolution algorithm #1

week 1:
1 person has idea.
week 2:
1 person shares idea with 1 other person: 5 minute in-person, email, or telephone investment. Now 2 people know about idea.
week 3:
2 people with idea (they don’t have to think idea is good–they just know about idea) each share idea with 1 other person. Now 4 people know about idea.
week 4:
4 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 8 people know about idea.
week 5:
8 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 16 people know about idea.
week 6:
16 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 32 people know about idea.
week 7:
32 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 64 people know about idea.
week 8:
64 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 128 people know about idea.
week 9:
128 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 256 people know about idea.
week 10:
256 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 512 people know about idea.
week 11:
512 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 1024 people know about idea.
week 12:
1024 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 2048 people know about idea.
week 13:
2048 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 4096 people know about idea.
week 14:
4096 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 8192 people know about idea.
week 15:
8192 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 16,384 people know about idea.
week 16:
16,384 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 32,768 people know about idea.
week 17:
32,768 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 65,536 people know about idea.
week 18:
65,536 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 131,072 people know about idea.
week 19:
131,072 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 262,144 people know about idea.
week 20:
262,144 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 524,288 people know about idea.
week 21:
524,288 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 1,048,576 people know about idea.
week 22:
1,048,576 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 2,097,152 people know about idea.
week 23:
2,097,152 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 4,194,304 people know about idea.
week 24:
4,194,304 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 8,388,608 people know about idea.
week 25:
8,388,608 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 16,777,216 people know about idea.
week 26:
16,777,216 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 33,554,432 people know about idea.
week 27:
33,554,432 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 67,108,864 people know about idea.
week 28:
67,108,864 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 134,217,728 people know about idea.
week 29:
134,217,728 people with idea each share idea with 1 other person. Now 268,435,456 people know about idea.

http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0007.pdf

Total U.S. population as of 2010, all ages: 308,746,000

From Stamp Act of 1765 to Treaty of Paris with Great Britain in 1783, approximately 936 weeks.

Does anybody have 5 minutes a week that they care spare for the next 29 weeks?

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Faces Filled With Hope, Planting Acorns

Since September 8, 2012, I have now approached approximately 800 of our fellow citizens, asking for their “support of a Constitutional right to vote and for the prohibition of private money from federal elections.” Of course the proposal contains more than that, but my experience shows that this specific concise intro has the best potential for establishing a halt in people’s momentum as they begin to pass me by. (I’m also open to any marketing suggestions people might have, and I have received a few.) I suppose it’s another variation on “Don’t just do something, stand there,” a concept I find to be of great value: Standing there and contemplating, standing there and being for something, standing there and available for hope to approach and stop to visit, standing there to be serenaded (on two occasions) by a pair of ravens roaming the sky above me.

I arrive at that estimate of 800 fellow citizens (well, actually, they’re not all fellow citizens because a number of people tell me they’re from Canada or somewhere in Europe) based upon my initial run of 500 copies of the 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 leaflet that you can download here. I now have only about 15 left. So, 485 contacts have been successful to the extent of willing hands reaching out to consider my proposal (or at least polite enough to take a copy, which is not any guarantee of actual consideration, but I have watched many people walk away reading it, or some walking and then stopping and reading it.). Two people have actually gotten back out of their cars and asked for a second copy! And of course many have had a variety of responses—including no response, which is a response—which did not result in any potential exchange of free speech, ideas, and hope for Constitutional change. Yet many have stopped to discuss the proposal, and many have expressly voiced their appreciation for what I’m doing. We all like to get good strokes like that for whatever we’re doing: It’s a human, or perhaps even a social animal thing.

However, what I find most important, most hopeful, are the tens of people who stop, take the leaflet, and attempt to look deeply into my eyes to see if this guy and this idea are really for real. The answer, which is self-evident, but perhaps not clearly enough, is that It’s as real as you want to make it. The reality of it gets clearer with each person who decides that this proposal is something they want. Then, what is essentially left for them to do is to tell just one other person. That’s called a movement.

I was standing waiting for a bus one day and thinking about metaphors for this process. I thought of an oak tree. There are not many oaks around this part of the country but where I lived most of my life back East, every year the ground (and millions of gray squirrels, European invaders) was blessed by millions, if not billions, of acorns. So I thought of an acorn planted: How long does it take to sprout? Well, this “acorn” took about twenty years, but then due to my own research and writing projects, and Tea Party, Arab Spring, and Occupy, the acorn suddenly “sprouted.” Now I’m just trying to make sure it gets a little water, its regular share of rays, and as many people as I can persuade to stop and wonder at its grandeur and essential practical benefits. It is possible that, one day—some day, it will evolve to become a whole forest.

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