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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Repurposing the Doomsday Clock

Let us cut through all the name calling and character assassination after the 2016 Presidential Election. He's this and She's that. There is little value in continuing the rhetoric and vitriol. We can even dispense with recriminations for how and why the election turned out the way it did. Whatever comes now we must be able to survive it.

  Whatever else Donald Trump is, he is a corporate CEO. He thinks like a corporation man and acts accordingly. None of his supporters can or would argue against that statement. He uses the rules which have been put in place to benefit corporate interests. He is correct in his assertion that he was proper in writing off nearly a $1 bn in losses which would allow him to not be liable for income taxes for nearly two decades as the result. Not even the reason for the written off losses are really pertinent.

The trouble with his mentality as a CEO and President of the USA is that one cannot run a country like it was a corporation. Here is the point. Corporations have Internalities and Externalities. Countries of people cannot have externalities.

To a coal mining corporation the price of mineral leases and how much labor is required to get it out of the ground is an internal concern of the owners. What their customers do with the coal is an externality, i.e. none of their concern. The coal mining company doesn't care how efficiently the coal is burned, how much ash is left over to handle or what the customer does with it. The company only concern is to pay enough wages to get a man into the mine. Whether that pay is enough to live on is external to their operation. If the miner is injured, it requires Federal legislation to force the company to attend to the costs. They do not take care of disabled miners out of the goodness of their heart. Doing so diminishes shareholder value.

Donald Trump in and by himself is not so much a counter-productive thing, but the CEO of a corporation sets and shapes corporate mentality and attitudes. The fiasco of Wells Fargo Bank and the employees defrauding millions of customers with unwanted credit accounts flows directly from the top down. Corporate leadership created the climate where employees felt it necessary to commit financial crimes in order to succeed in their jobs.

Mr. Trump has led a sizable portion of this country down a road that leads to manifestation of fear, hatreds, violence and vitriolic free speech. The gun manufacturers had yet another banner year of sales with the prospects of Hillary Clinton becoming President. I suggest this time sales were driven not by the prospects of the government coming for the weapons but that they will be needed in an imminent demographic clash. Who suggested that such a need would come to be?

Beyond the prospects of ultra-conservative SCOTUS appointments gutting the ACA, Roe v. Wade, Marriage Equality and Gender Rights is the prospect that the Trump-modified complexion of the Supreme Court will more deeply entrench Citizens United, corporate and fetal personhood, and divest the nation of such externalities as fair living wages, health care access, education and environmental protections.

Beyond the Supreme Court appointments, there are dozens of cabinet positions and agency chiefs who will not be aligned with human being concerns such as clean water and air (corporate externalities.) They are likely to give concessions to corporate interests which can never be recovered. The divestiture of a National Forest to logging and mining cannot be taken back. Once the ground water is contaminated it will take centuries if ever for it to be clear again.

If we do not put our financial resources into high school graduations and post-secondary college degrees, we will not have enough doctors to serve every American. We need nursing and other medical staff. We need to focus our efforts of training tens of thousands of such position. Where is the Trump leadership to keep that imminent disaster at bay? But remember, health care is a corporate externality.

One of the several Presidential job duties is to be America's Ambassador to the world. There are countries which already acknowledge the ineptitude of Donald Trump. More so than what WE think of him, is what the world thinks of him and of us. We are only 4.5% of the global population. What they think matters.

America cannot treat human needs and the environment like they were externalities. Doing so will increase suffering and move us closer to the metaphorical doomsday midnight. We used to have the clock face showing 11:58 pm to show us the world was only two minutes from nuclear disaster due to conflicts with China and the now defunct Soviet Union. That clock needs to be rebranded as the environment/social collapse clock.

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Author's Note: The book cover images in the side margins of this blog are my own publications of eBooks available at both Amazon and B&N. Please take a moment and go to the sites and read about them. Then if you like it, buy one or two.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Butch Cassidy, Donald Trump and other Lost Causes

Cinema is full of stories where the heroes are up against overwhelming odds and some says, "let's do it." Earlier on in the movie Butch and Sundance are standing on the precipice above the rocky rapids below. They are about to be captured or killed by the posse. "We gotta jump." "I can't swim." With a laugh, "Go on, the fall will probably kill us anyway." They jump.

The iconic Alamo battle with the war cry, "Remember the Alamo!" precedes death to the last man of the American side at the hands of the Mexican Army. In Beau Geste the Foreign Legion all die at the hand of Arabs in the Arabian deserts. All these men sacrificed their all for the Lost Cause. Even Thelma and Louise preferred to drive off into the void than be caught.

There is something of the bulldog in the human psyche that won't allow a person let go when the chosen path proves to be really dumb. The behavior is similar to the habitual gambler who knows he must pay the rent and pay off his debts but instead must place the one last bet with the small winning he just got. Statistically and inevitably he loses that bet and must face the consequences.

Supporters of Donald Trump exhibit that same foolish tenacity to stand their ground in the face of all the nonsense Mr. Trump espouses. At least in the case of Hillary Clinton there are no new "scandals" or massive bad rhetoric which a supporter should consider as a negative attribute. She has been fully vetted over the past 25 years. Nothing has been indictable in all that time.

On the other hand, Donald Trump continues to incite and inflame the electorate with increasingly bizarre statements and behavior.  His stage presence has devolved into one of lurking behind opponents, name calling and character assassination. He seems to think he lives in an alternate reality where videotape has not been invented. He claims to have not said something are instantly debunked by the video of him saying it.

His entire campaign is only made possible by the fact that there are Americans who are like Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid and will stand by their man even if it kills them. They have made their decision and nothing will dissuade them from their course.

Hillary maintains a positive course toward trying to improve this nation while Donald is perfectly willing to dissect it and trample each piece to feed his own personal feelings and behavior. His position on everything is regressive. There is nothing in his platform which will move us well into the future. Coal is so 19th Century. Building walls is so Communistic and Authoritarian. Cutting taxes on corporations is Fascist. Denying people food, shelter and medical care is as unconstitutional as denying Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Creating religious tests for the making of laws, admission to the country and for citizenship is expressly against the Constitution.

There is not one progressive plank in his platform for a Trump Administration. While his position is so utterly negative, there are people who cannot let it go. They still cling to the notion they have a cause to defend even though it is a lost one. 

**cue Butch and Sundance rushing out into the hail of Federale bullets.**