Don’t Tread On Me Either
Sep
9th

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.  To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

-Colin Kaepernick

I’ve heard a lot recently about how a professional athlete’s refusal to honor the American flag and anthem before a sporting event is probably the most indecent thing any American citizen can ever do.

I’ve heard it from friends, acquaintances, co-workers, and many multitudes I’ll never know through articles and social media posts.

To all those so quick to condemn actions they may not even understand, or worse yet, refuse to attempt to comprehend and see only the pale surface of what they think is going on I have a few things to say of my own, starting with this: Calm the fuck down.

If you are among the offended, which is your right incidentally, ask yourself a few simple questions to determine if your outrage is genuine or simply a product of our never-ending and ever divisive new media culture.

Question One: When watching a televised sporting event, or when listening to one on radio, do you demand silence from yourself and your viewing/listening partners for the duration of the anthem or pledge?

Question Two: Again, when watching TV or listening on radio, do you put down your beer or your bowl of chips, standing reverently in silence, hand over heart, staring at the televised image of the flag?

Question Three: Do you heartily condemn others as a regular part of your life when you notice them not honoring the anthem or pledge as much as you’ve done so in this case or do you give people “a pass?”

Question Four: Do you even own an American flag? And if so, do you display it, honor it, treat it reverently?

Question Five: Do you object to the image of the flag on sports helmets or uniforms?

(EXTRA CREDIT)

Question Four: Do you have any knowledge of the history behind the pledge, or the fact that “Under God” was only added to the pledge 50+ years after it’s original conception, and only then to bolster the “red scourge” of McCarthyism in American politics, a time of irresponsible witch hunts in American society?

Question Five: Were you aware that there are additional verses to the national anthem that specifically rejoice the subjugation of African-Americans?

I don’t really need to hear your answers to these questions, they are simply for you to reflect upon as you bask in your righteous indignation at one man’s refusal to honor a symbol in the same way you choose to. But I’m going to take a shot in the dark here and assume that (a) you don’t put down your beer or silence your football guests; (b) you don’t generally berate strangers who aren’t standing at attention during the anthem or pledge; (c) you’re probably not aware that flag code prohibits flag patches on athletic uniforms or costumes; and (d) that your actual knowledge of American flag and anthem history is limited to something you heard briefly in grade school. And actually, that’s all OK.

What isn’t OK is to demonize another American citizen for exercising their constitutional rights of freedom of speech, which includes peaceful protest. What isn’t OK is to fine a person for that same activity or to threaten their livelihood or personal security. Agreeing to disagree, even over closely held personal beliefs, without resorting to threats or violence or retribution….now that IS the American way.

America, while a fantastic country with immeasurable freedoms and remarkable opportunities, also has a dark and torrid history, especially for people of color which includes African-Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Latin Americans….basically anyone who isn’t a white male with a particular religious association. Sadly, much of the dark parts of our history are either ignored or glossed over in our schools. When confronted with this reality, the reality that America is not now, nor has it ever been a perfect example of humanity, some people ask how to make it better while others simply pretend the opposite is true. When given the opportunity to learn and understand the serious issues still facing our culture and to seek common solutions that live up to the spirit of the words in the preamble of our Constitution, some will shine a light on injustice while others will don shades.

This particular protest is not about dishonoring the people who fought in wars (some just, some not so much), or stirring up controversy for fame. It’s about one more man calling attention to a problem that never seems to go away in a way that will make some people take another look at what they believe and why they believe it. If your flag and anthem mean so much to you, if the freedom they purport to embody has any real meaning at all, understand that they hold the same freedom for everyone, they propose the same promise to us all, and that when the reality doesn’t match the rhetoric perhaps you too are obligated to call attention, to make a stand, to right a wrong. The symbols are meaningless if they are simply icons of blind allegiance.

Whether or not you agree with how a person makes a statement is less telling than how you react to their statement. If you do not understand their intent, ask for clarification instead of putting forth condemnation. We are all here together. We have a long ways to go towards perfection.

Posted in Common Sense, Democracy, General, Justice, Life, Politics, society | 2 Comments »


Who’s Really The Bigger Drain on Public Taxes?
Sep
7th

The truth is that I know more self described “conservatives” who lash out about “people bleeding the system” who are themselves double dipping on public sector jobs to boost retirement benefits, work under the table while claiming disability and/or unemployment, nickle and dime every potential tax loophole to avoid a minor tax increase, all while claiming they “earned it” when really they’re just exploiting the rules designed to protect the poor, undereducated, minority or folks legitimately unable to work due to medical conditions and draining the public tax system which is really supposed to provide infrastructure for us all and a safety net for those truly in need. These “conservatives” are often the same people who hearken back to “the good old days” when white males were all that mattered in public discourse, women were chattel to serve said men, all other races were inferior and the only winners were those who hit back harder.

They either do not see their own hypocrisy or they do not care.
These so called conservatives, both the voters and the “leaders” alike are the actual and true reason our systems have become bankrupted, broken down and untrustworthy.

For all their talk of welfare queens, immigrants stealing jobs, educational quotas and any other excuses for their own economic failings, it is their own policies and exploitations that are to blame.

And while there is plenty of apathy and acquiescence from the political leaders on the “other side of the aisle,” when it comes to everyday people I’ve met far more “conservative” takers and far more “liberal” givers out in the world.

Chew on that for a bit…..

Posted in Common Sense, General, society, taxes | No Comments »


A Message To Evangelicals About The 2016 US Presidential Election
Jul
29th

I’m puzzled by the Christians who believe that liberal social policies are an affront to their chosen faith. Liberal social policies reflect an attempt by society to create equality for all and to help those who most need help- something the Christian doctrine tells you to embrace.

Far right religious institutions claim incursions onto their faith by the government where none really do exist. They seem to forget, or rather ignore the fact, that our constitution is a secular document, creating a secular government, where no religion has priority over any other in the public sphere of influence. Despite this, Christianity has an outsized role of favoritism within US government led institutions and laws that has existed since the early days of our nation.

Churches aren’t taxed. Religious schools and affiliated businesses are exempted from health statutes to excuse their desire to provide specific women’s health care matters. Traditional religious holidays are legislatively recognized national holidays. Every single politician concludes major speeches with affirmations to the Christian deity and many legislative bodies open sessions with prayers. Religiously connotated euphemisms are liberally laced into our common vernacular as to be ubiquitous.

It’s almost as if the far right evangelical wing of Christianity isn’t really concerned with following the professed teachings of their founder so much as retaining control over the lives of their congregants through fear, and attempt to rein in the rest of the country by proxy. This doesn’t sound like the religion of love and forgiveness so much as the religion of do what I say or pay the price. We see the extreme revelations of these kinds of religious doctrines playing out today in other parts of the world, under different banners, but with the same chilling underpinnings.

I’m not a Christian, but I’ve been around it in all its forms my entire life. I recognize that many, many followers do not ascribe to the darkest elements of their ministers. But they are the silent followers, the ones more likely to realize that their faith is just that- theirs, and not one that needs to be force fed to all. They eschew the proselytizing doctrine in favor of living by example. They seek not to control those they disagree with but rather to live in harmony and, in their words, “let God sort it out.” They accept equality for all regardless of color, creed, sexuality. They may reject elements of secular society for themselves while allowing others to make their own choices. And yet these voices aren’t the ones being heard and expanded by a media too eager to create divisions and stoke the sparks of foment.

Hear me now, you on the far right fringes of Christian faith- your fervent attempts to continue public policies that force a distorted value system on a nation created to extend fairness and equality to all people shall be seen by history as another darkness upon the evolution of humanity. Your ever louder cacophony of demonization and efforts to prop up the tyrannical voices of oppression in the name of your misguided interpretation of religion shall not win over the hearts and minds of mankind. You may bathe yourselves in the righteousness that your way is the only way to an afterlife of glory, but the rest of us equate your actions to those of any other zealots and we reject your efforts.

Your leaders in your churches, your supposed champions in politics, they are all using you as pawns to retain their hold on your minds and your wallets. They seek power through your hard work and sacrifice and what do you gain? In this world they keep you under their thumb, they offer excuses for your continued financial suffering, even while they spend your tithings on fanciful excesses of their own, yet they promise you eternal redemption which is neither theirs to give or decide upon, at least not under the teachings of your faith. Yet look at the overarching pillars that your messiah has laid out for you to follow: love each other, judge not your neighbor, seek peace, turn away from violence and hatred, let God decide who is worthy of eternity. These ideals are supposed to be left out of their hands, out of your hands, and into the hands of your savior.

Were these separatist religious points of view held in abeyance from the greater society it might not be much to worry about. Sadly, this is not the case. Your extreme religious minority has somehow hijacked one of the two major political parties in this country and in the attempt to wrest and retain political power, an entire generation of politicians now seek to pander to get your vote, to find earthly power and to hold it tight, and to punish the majority through legal machinations. Trust me when I tell you that these politicians don’t care about your religious beliefs so much as being in charge. They, and your highest religious leaders, are antithetical to the ideals your religion professes. They are everything your bible says they should not be. And yet you follow them to the pit of social upheaval, gleefully it seems, as if your earthly task is to punish rather than to prosper peacefully.

Now we are again at a crossroads in public life- a place where your deeply held religious ideals are being used to demonize your neighbors, your friends, your relatives. You are being asked, once again, to legitimize hate and bigotry and war. You are being told it is your duty to God to turn away from policies that promote equality and love and peace. You are being played against the ideals which are the foundation of your faith. And for what? For earthly advantage, something which should be furthest from your spiritual plane of interest anyhow?

I implore you to examine what it is you truly believe and then vote accordingly. If you truly believe that your faith demands you to deny healthcare to the poor, to withhold aid from the old, the infirm, the needy, to demonize people of different faith or gender or sexuality, then I suggest that you aren’t really a Christian at all and that you should continue to reward those who bastardize your faith for power and personal gain.

But if you reject hate and divisiveness, if you feel that your place is not to judge and condemn but rather to love and help others, then choose another path in the election booth. No matter how you feel about the human faces attached to the ideas, look at the ideas themselves. While neither major candidate is someone to embrace, the values they represent are what matter most. For once, you on the right side of the aisle, look deep into your faith to determine who best represents your morality and the morality of your savior.

Posted in Democracy, Equality, Justice, Presidential Politics, Religion, society | 2 Comments »


Starting Again-It’s Good To Be Back
Jul
28th

I like to think I’m a smart guy. When I was young, I got really good grades. I did well on standardized tests. I read a lot and have a little bit of knowledge about a lot of different things. I can follow logical progressions, think critically, and am quick with a quip. I can hold up my end of almost any conversation, I’m curious, and I try to look at things from multiple perspectives. I try to see farther than just the next step ahead, try to understand implications of actions before they occur, try to offer explanations. I’m also keenly aware that there are many people smarter than I am, both in general and on specific matters. Still, I’m a smart guy. I have an idea about The Way Things Should Be, even when I know how Things Actually Are. Maybe that’s why I find myself so often frustrated.

Now when I say I know about The Way Things Should Be, I’m speaking both empirically and generically. Obviously, like almost anyone, I have my own biases on specific topics and I get that for matters like those The Way Things Should Be is not always an absolute so much as a brokered compromise that meets some of my own ideals but maybe not all of them. Concepts like what makes a good educational system or what is the best way to make a pie crust can be malleable and probably should be malleable based on a plethora of conditional parameters relevant to the participants of the conversation. Those are generic ideas of The Way Things Should Be, albeit with specific features, and in reality there may be a several constructs that create effective solutions. Most topics will inherently fall into this category. We converse, share opinions, follow up with factual data to prove a point or strengthen an argument, coalesce on an agreed compromise-or not, and move on to the next. There is often room for growth or change to these ideas, though not always, and that’s understandable. As we learn more, as the world changes, so too might our assumptions of the generic Way Things Should Be.

But there are other, more intrinsic, less malleable concepts out there and The Way Things Should Be for these matters shouldn’t really be in much debate. I’m talking about things like equality, fairness, love, respect and tolerance. Stripped down to their basic ideals these intangible yet important concepts are nothing less than the building blocks that help us understand The Way Things Actually Are and how they got that way. I think that anyone who understands these concepts intellectually, these elemental human connections, can agree on what they mean and how they look and feel. We know what equality means whether or not we choose to adhere to it. We recognize peace and love when we feel it or live within it’s sphere of influence. We can talk about these ideals with a common point of general reference, at least most of us can, without too much rancor or debate. These are the things that matter, that bind us as a civil society, that allow us to move forward more or less together. These should be the unspoken underpinnings of all our conversations about the Ways Things Should Be and without a collective agreement that we begin with these basic tenets in hand no real cohesion of conversation can occur. No progress can occur. No consensus, no compromise, no commonality. We might assume that we all share this underlying recognition and nonverbal agreement as a basis for our discourse, maybe not in absolute terms in every specific situation, but surely at least in principle and as a point from which to start. We need not agree on the specifics for every single topic, but we must at least agree to start from a common point. When we polarize, when we demonize, when we dehumanize each other before we even begin to converse we get nowhere. We shuffle off incensed, unheard, dissatisfied, and defeated. We embrace the negative aspects that drive us apart-inequity, self-absorption, hate, disdain, division.

Ask yourself a simple question- do I prefer to be loved or disliked? Do I want to be treated as an equal or as an inferior? Do I operate from a position of inclusion or do I shut out those who may look, act, think, or feel differently than me? I know my answers to these questions, and while I’m not perfect in my application of these ideals, I strive to be. I’m guessing that you do as well. So why then are we, as a people, a country,  a species, continually casting each other in the most unflattering light and working at cross purposes as if human happiness is a zero sum game where only one perspective triumphs over all others? Why do we allow our political, religious, and corporate leaders use all the negative aspects to create division among ourselves? Why do we embrace it?

We all have ideas of The Way Things Should Be. Our determinations are based on both the visible world and our subconscious biases, constructs embedded into our psyche by decades of instruction and experience and repetition. And that’s OK, because we all develop differently even as we are created equal. We can find compromise within criticism when it comes from a position of respect. We can find peace and prosperity when it comes from a position of tolerance and love. We can all create a better future when it comes from a place of compassion and a sincere desire to leave our world better for those to come.

We can debate and disagree but we must not demonize or hate. We can continue the human experience together or we can destroy our potential and return to a primal state. The choice should be obvious. The path should be clear. The Way Things Actually Are today isn’t The Way Things Should Be. I think you know that to be true and it’s up to all of us to fight for what is right before we fight for what we think is best.

Talk to you soon…..it’s good to be back.

Posted in General, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »


Thanks for the Miles Mazda
Jan
11th

Mazda North American Operations

P.O. Box 19734

Irvine, CA 92623-9734

Attn: Customer Assistance Center 

 

January 10, 2011

Dear Mazda-

My 1995 Mazda 626 (DX) just hit 300,000 miles and all I can say is, “Thank you for such a fantastic car!”

When I originally purchased this car in Lincoln, Nebraska, I had no idea what a dependable vehicle I was getting. At the time, all I knew was that the 626 looked good, drove good, and had that groovy “swing” feature for the central air vents. I remember thinking that those oscillating vents were the coolest feature I’d ever seen in a car, and the “swing” button was quite the conversation starter.

Now, well over a dozen years later and road trips across the country, this fantastic car has more than met my expectations for what a quality car should be. For the record, I am not a “car guy.” I don’t perform vehicle maintenance myself (though I do have some mechanical abilities). In fact, when it comes to regular servicing and such, I am pretty lackadaisical about following regular guidelines. I frequently would let the mileage go 5-7 thousand miles beyond the recommended time between  oil changes! But for all the driving and “abuse” that this car has seen, I couldn’t have asked for a more reliable vehicle.

I have had NO serious mechanical or performance issues with this vehicle-EVER! Sure, I’ve replaced the timing belt twice, put in a new radiator (some time ago), had the front axle replaced, and swapped out catalytic converters twice, but the motor and manual transmission are all original, as is pretty  much everything else except for filters, tires and brakes. From a mechanical perspective, this car has been unbeatable. (I should note that I have owned several vehicles to date, both foreign and domestic.)

The exterior paint is still original (Sahara Gold), though it is now fading badly in several areas, and the interior’s better days passed by several years ago, but all things considered, I’d keep driving this car for another 300,000 miles if I could. Sadly, these past few years (and tens of thousands of miles) have made it very difficult to continue to pass ever-tightening state emissions testing and I can’t continue to justify pouring hundreds of dollars (or more) to keep it on the road, since the resale value is next to zero. So from a financial stand point, it just makes sense to retire it now.

But I’m retiring it with much sadness. Where else could I find a new car that can so readily achieve 30+ MPG both in town, on the freeway, and stuck in rush hour traffic- even after all those miles? Where else could I find a car with such tight handling and smooth driving performance- even after all those miles? Where else will I ever find another “swing” feature???

I know that 300,000 miles isn’t any kind of vehicular longevity record, but it sure is for me, and considering that I’m still running with the original engine and transmission, I think this proves that somebody in your company knows how to make a car that will last. For this, I sincerely thank you all.

I’ll be taking over my wife’s ’02 Mitsubishi Lancer now, which is also a nice car, even with its 105,000+ mileage, but not nearly the performer that my good old 626 has been.

I have not yet decided just how I’ll retire this wonderful car of mine. I’ve been thinking of donating it to one of those charity outfits and taking the tax credit. I’ve been thinking of sending it off to the car graveyard (read-junkyard). I’ve been wondering if I could even sell it outright for a few hundred dollars to some needy person. No matter what I decide, I know this- I will surely miss this car a great deal…from its manual hand-crank windows to its non-power locks to its unreadable stock AM/FM/Cassette stereo system (by the way- these stock speakers really can put out the tunes!) to the very special “swing” feature. 

I even considered giving it back to you as a testament to its greatness-(when researching how to reach you to send this letter, I noticed that your corporate headquarters is just up the road from me in Irvine. I live in Oceanside, California.)-but doubt you’re actually interested in getting back an old 626. (If you are interested, drop me a line- we could work something out!)

In closing let me just say that the next time I’m in the market for another vehicle, I’ll be shopping the Mazda’s first, hoping to find something as reliable and affordable as this 1995 626 (DX) has been for me. I can only hope you folks will still be producing such great cars when that day comes.

Sincerely,

Ken Grandlund

One VERY Satisfied customer

PS- I’m enclosing a picture of the car and the odometer reading for you. Maybe you have a nice bulletin board like they have at the vet’s office that you can pin these up to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in General, Life, transportation | 3 Comments »


So Tired of Politics….
Jul
1st

 

This was always meant to be a place for politics and government.

From the time I started this blog in 2005 and all the way into late 2008 to early 2009, I immersed myself with the state of American politics. At first, I strived to define my sense of political reason and rational government as it meshed with my personal sense of right and wrong. I was surprised initially at the interest I received, both in favor of and against, sometime vehemently so, my thoughts and ideas. Little did I know then that I was a small part of a large wave that became known as the political blogosphere- a vast collection of interested citizens engaged in partisan conversation for no other reason than to persuade and/or cajole each other in a direct experiment of anonymous democracy. Anonymous for some at least. I have never been anonymous. 

For the first several years, it seemed as if we political bloggers could, and sometimes did, make an actual difference. As individuals with similar frames of mind collected in the corners and cafes of cyberspace, they…we…defined an outlet of outrage. We were different from the street protests of an earlier generation, but seemed convinced that we too could change the course of events. Many of us felt empowered, often for the first time, and hopeful that our digital shouts would be even more effective than the marching banner holders of yesterday. I know I felt that way anyway.

Officially, on the political spectrum, I am an “independent,” registered neither democrat or republican or green or anything else. Realistically, I am more liberal or progessive on most social issues, but more conservative on normal fiscal issues. Take that for what you will, but in the political blogosphere I was more aligned with the “lefty moonbats” than the “right wingnuts.” And frankly, that was just fine with me. I cringed at Bush era policies and wrought my keyboard angst through one misfit blunder after another by people on both sides of the aisle. I was enamored by my own insights, emboldened by my co-warriors intuits, engaged with the issues of our time. It was tireless and transforming and important.

And then all of a sudden, my side won. Change would come. Reason would be restored. Hope rings eternal.

Except when it doesn’t. Or didn’t. Or wouldn’t.

Inertia is a terrible force, strong enough to wipe out even the best intentions and ideas. Stronger still when there are no courageous men or women to stand against its suffocating mass. Inertia is the power of the old guard refusing to gracefully leave governing to subsequent generations. Inertia is what overwhelms the fresh forces of democracy and ensures that the deeds done in the past continue to haunt the future. Inertia hides and dodges attempts to break it down.

American government is lost to inertia. Politics has replaced it. Elected leaders serve not to create a better tomorrow, they serve to feed the beast of inertia. They do not yearn to protect the masses, they live to protect each other, their benefactors, and their outdated vision of perfection. Politics has put the needs of inertia above the needs of the people. Governing no longer matters so much as perpetuating the status quo.

Sadly, too many people have lost sight of the fact that politics is not governance. Partisanship for the sport of it only exacerbates the worst inertia of the past, all but guaranteeing that any attempt to effect change is doomed and any claim to real change is little more than a shell game with a better name. Yet politics is what passes for governing in the minds of the elected and the electorate alike. Politics is not what defines us; it is what tears us apart.

Well, I for one am tired of politics, and am ever more cynical of even those elected officials I think could actually make a run towards fixing our perverted system. I tire of reading about it. I tire of hearing the spin from the left and the right. I tire of bad ideas or stupid acts of the past coming back and causing catastrophic destruction to people, places, and things. I tire of elected officials parsing words to make a point. I tire of pundits spinning the events of the day to inflame the partisan followers towards the latest outrage. I tire of a lack of governing in favor of all this nonsense.

For the last year, I have let politics fade away from this blog known as Common Sense. In fact, I have let the blog wallow in simple, sporadic posts that offer little to the reader and even less to the writer inside of me. It has been surprisingly easy to do too. And this admission from someone who wrote primarily in-depth posts on two political blogs up to 5 days a week for almost 4 years. As easily as it started, the need to examine and parse all things political just faded away. And while I still keep up on the realities of the day, I no longer feel compelled to pursue an opinion on every twitch of congress or sign every online petition that hits my inbox. I have run the gamut and feel no worse for the effort. But I also see little practical sign of impact-beyond that of the connections I have made and the mutual affirmation we all created for each other.

I’m not giving up writing on this blog though. It has been a productive outlet in many ways and it will remain my corner of opinion and thought moving forward. But politics? Sorry friends, I’m so tired of politics.

Posted in Common Sense, General, Politics | 9 Comments »


Important Public Health Warning
Apr
5th

The Center for Disease Control has issued a warning about a new virulent strain of an old disease.  The disease is called Gonorrhea Lectim.  It’s pronounced “Gonna re-elect ’em.”

The disease is contracted through dangerous and high risk behavior involving putting your cranium up your rectum. Many victims contracted it when their politiations were first elected, before term limits. Now most people are starting to realize how destructive this sickness is.

However, Gonorrhea Lectim is easily cured with a new procedure on the market called Votemout! You take the first dose in 2010, the second in 2012 and simply don’t engage in such behavior again.

 

Posted in General | 2 Comments »


The American Dream -Part One
Feb
25th

Dream or Trap ?

1212

You know that feeling you get when you find out you’ve been had? The one where you roll your eyes back a bit and think to yourself, “You sure fell for that one.” Sometimes you can laugh at your own empty-headedness and appreciate that the joke is on you. But sometimes, like when you never even perceived that a joke was afoot, realizing you’ve been had is like a swift kick in the gut. Sure, you catch your breath after a few panicked moments of gasping, but then you go on with things, albeit a bit more cynical and wary.

No, I did not send my bank account number to a prince in Nigeria in exchange for a bazillion dollars. Had I, such would fall into the first category of being “had.” Instead, I think that I’ve finally reached a moment of clarity, an epiphany if you will, regarding the mythical American Dream.

(Cue sound effects) What a sucker.

Maybe more accurate to call it the American Delusion, for like the magical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the American Dream is always, by deliberate design, just out of reach. No matter where you are in the pursuit of the dream, the hazy promise of more or better something convinces you that you have not yet achieved the success that the American dream represents. It is both alluring and insidiously rotten, and yet it is as much a part of who we are as is the air we breathe. And as invisible as the oxygen that passes into our lungs, so too do we fail to see the trap slowly springing until we are too far in to make a clean escape.

The American Dream (capitalized, probably trademarked by some corporation somewhere) is vaguely described as a society where the “citizens of every rank feel that they can achieve a “better, richer, and happier life.” But better than what? Richer how? Happier by what measure? How does a person know if they have reached the dream? Is it an individual dream for us each, a particular dream for similar groups of people, or a generalized dream determined by the behavior of the majority?

Actually, it’s all of the above. There is a societal, generalized version of the American Dream that includes a well paying job, owning a home and car(s), having a familial unit of some sort, taking nice vacations and having lots of things. One layer down there is a second dream layer applied to particular groups of people-groups divided along ethnic or professional or religious or educational criteria, for example. This dream gets more specific in how the generalized dream gets flushed out. Add the final layer-the personal dream-then squish them together and “Voila!” -your American Dream-customized, but always within the parameters of the larger, pre-determined dream variables.

Let’s take a step sideways for a moment. In a normal dream-the kind you have when asleep- things are often fluid and non-sensical as they play out. Sometimes these turn scary, other times confusing, but you always wake up knowing you’d only had a dream. In a daydream-the spaced out for no reason kind of thing-the desired outcome almost always is realized, and with the minimum effort required, but you snap out of it and get back to your business. Now step back to the American Dream. In this dream, things are often stuck in slow motion, non-sensical and scary and happy and wierd, but you know you won’t wake up because you aren’t asleep. And you also know that no amount of hard work will guarantee a happy ending. Because it’s still just a dream, stupid. And reality never follows the script in our head.

To ever even come within reach of achieving the classic American Dream, there are certain steps that you must take, and once taken, you must take them again and again and again until your legs finally stop working altogether. At the heart of the classic American Dream is the source of its power- money. Without this key resource, the American Dream can not be yours. So most of us work and toil day in and day out to amass as much of this magic ingredient as we can. Then we can feed it back into the dream machine and claim our prizes. The more we work, the more money we may get. The more money we get, the more things we can buy. The more we can buy, the closer we are to having the things that make up the American Dream- in whatever shape it takes for us. We measure our worth through wealth; our mastery of the dream by the size of our warchest. We equate happiness to treasure, and never more than when we are surrounded by our material things. We trade relationships for e-lationships. We abandon the real world for reality-based entertainment. We prefer sensation to real feeling. And yet somehow, we never quite reach the dream. It’s always just a little bit farther away than we thought.

And so we keep doing the same things. And so does everyone else. And so the dream continues to wield its silent power, keeping us in line by keeping us reaching.

And mostly, we just go along with things, because that’s just how things are supposed to go. This is how we live, at least most of us do. Those who don’t clearly don’t count anyway, because they aren’t part of or striving for the American Dream. And if you’re not going to have the American Dream, what, really, is the point?

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »


Congressional Reform Act of (2010)
Jan
11th

Received in an e-mail from a friend….not a bad idea really, except for the obvious fact that Congress would have to pass this into law, and there’s only a slightly better than zero chance that any of our career politicians would so willingly make changes that would return our politics and government to the people- they’d miss their corporate overlords way too much!

The Congressional Reform Act would contain 8 provisions, all of which would probably be strongly endorsed by those who drafted our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Congress has the lowest approval rating of any entity in government. I would surely think that the voting public could get their arms around something like this. Something that would create and sustain real change and hope.

Congressional Reform Act of 2010


1. Term Limits: 12 years only, one of the possible options below.

A. Two Six year Senate terms
B. Six Two year House terms
C. One Six year Senate term and three Two Year House terms

        Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.  The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

2.  No Tenure / No Pension:
    A congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office. 

    Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.  The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

 
3.  Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security: 
    All funds in the Congressional retirement fund moves to the Social Security system immediately.  All future funds flow into the Social Security system, Congress participates with the American people.

    Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.  The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan just as all Americans.

    Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.  The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.  Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

    Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.  The Founding Fathers envisioned  citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

6. Congress looses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

    Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.  The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

 7. Congress must equally abide in all laws they impose on the American people.

    Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.  The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

8. All contracts with past and present congressmen are void effective 1/1/11 . 
    The American people did not make this contract with congressmen, congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.

    Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.  The Founding Fathers envisioned  citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work. 

 

Posted in Common Sense, Democracy, Government, Politics, Reform | 35 Comments »


Back From The Darkness of Computer Code Hell
Jan
4th

Shortly after my last post in August 2009, this site experienced a disruption in the back end code that sent Common Sense into a tailspin of unreachability. After much patience and the coding talents of my friend (and site designer Anna) this blog is back in business…just in time for a new year!

If there is anyone left out there who actually comes here anymore, be ready…I’m back!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »