Friday, December 27, 2013

Why vote aganst your own interests?

Fear is ruling the hearts - and minds - of too many workers.  Fear of falling into the underclass.

I submit that the way some people handle this fear is via repression - via some type of unconscious coping mechanism.  Now the thing about the Unconscious is, of course, that we're unaware of what we're doing.  Or why we're doing it.  And since we're unaware, since it's too terrifying, perhaps, to be aware - we have no conscious control over managing those fears.

Banishing thoughts from one's mind does not really get rid of them.  Instead, they go underground, so to speak.  They burrow deep into our unconscious, from whence they can spring up and take control, leading us to do and say and believe and cling to thoughts, activities, etc. which are, by definition (due to their source) irrational.

I think that's what happens when people vote against their own interests:  I think that people misplace their fears.  Or are induced to do so.  Instead, for example, of fearing job loss and descent into the underclass, they simply hate and fear the underclass itself.  They believe the poor or the unemployed to be engaged in selfish basking in the largesse (as they view it) of unemployment, food stamps, soup kitchens,  and so on.

So, to repeat, it seems to me that many of the working poor, whose lives are balanced so precariously on the threat of job loss, health loss, and so on - are in the grip of powerful unconscious forces - being manipulated by powerful think tanks and political wordsmiths (What a misnomer!).

Fear, terror, is probably the most powerful motivator there is.  It's what torturers make use of.  And as we know, torture need not harm the body.  It's enough to just destroy the soul.

Soul murder.  I fear that's what's happening in our economy.  I fear that's what has a grip on the minds of many whose votes are cast against their own interests.  People who voice a hatred of universal health care.  A hatred of a social safety net.  A hatred of bleeding-heart libruls.

Now, you may be thinking I have a solution for this.  I wish I did.  If I had a solution for this, I would have the solution to most mental health problems.  Many physical problems.  Social ills - such as global warming, inequality.  The list goes on.

I'm a retired clinical psychologist.  I've tried to help many.  Mostly help consists of diagnosing problems, ferreting out unconscious assumptions, which lie beneath paradoxical behaviors.  Trying to help people face their buried fears and inconsistent behaviors.  So they can survive the emotions, learn to tolerate and live with them, and thus make better decisions - based on reality (rather than propaganda or mistaken conclusions arrived at as children).

It's social therapy that's needed, I suppose.  But how to do that?  How to fix the broken mental health system - upon which if you think about it the house of cards they believe in (and vote for) has been erected.  Yes, I hate to say it.  The market forces, the dehumanization of work and society, the enslaving of the working poor - and even those above them - all these are running on maintaining economic and political and social insanity.  And making certain that treatment remains unavailable or worse, looked down upon.  (So that the poor, the crazy, the unemployed, the minorities, the imprisoned, the "aliens" - what a word, as if they were martians.)

Yeah, let's all look down on them and comfort ourselves that we are not among them.  As if we were superior.   (This is sarcasm, of course.)

Let's not let ourselves know the true anguish, the true suffering, of so many fellow citizens of this world.  (I'd say fellow Americans - but of course we all know that so many fellow residents of this land aren't allowed to be Americans - they don't deserve it - or so we're supposed to believe. And vote).

Thank God for Pope Francis!  And people like Edward Snowdon.  The nuns!  And so many unsung people who let themselves suffer - in solidarity with the ignorant and the underclasses.  Wars.  Torture.  Hunger.  Homelessness.  The sick.  The aliens among us.  The mentally ill.  The imprisoned.  We - under surveillance - supposedly for our own good.

Please, dear God, at this Season:  Enlighten the World!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Recipe for Disaster

Suppose we built bridges as the US (currently) cobbles together legislation.  And implements it.

They'd all fall down.

Think about it....

Then consider this:
Recipe for Carrot Cornbread (it works!)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Oil an 8” square baking pan, warmed iron frying pan, muffin tins, etc.

Finely grate one medium carrot. Set aside.

Measure and sift together, then set aside:
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tsp (1 T) baking powder
½ – 1 tsp salt (to your taste)
¼ – ½ tsp ground ginger
In another bowl, mix together:
1 slightly beaten egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup olive oil
Barely mix (truly – just a few turns so it's lumpy) grated carrot and liquids into dry mixture. Immediately pour or spoon into waiting baking container(s).

Bake till a toothpick comes out clean (20 - 25 minutes for one large cornbread, 15-18 minutes for muffins).

Place on waiting cooling rack. Enjoy!

Now consider a committee of lobbyists and warring Congressional ideologues producing even a recipe for muffins! Or a bridge! You name it... (Would empirical testing even be a consideration?)

Our Congress is (apparently) broken. Our Constitution now stands as a relic to the Law of Unintended Consequences.

One Caveat to the cornbread recipe:

I well realize Southerners will dispute the sweet cornbread. Nevertheless, sugar benefits texture of the final product. OK, Southerners will still disagree. They prefer salty to sweet – and will naysay sugar's beneficial effect. Try it both ways – see what you prefer. You may need an adjustment to the liquids to compensate for sugar's absence.

This cornbread, unfortunately, confers no beneficial effect on the Congress. Conversely, Congress is likely to have a dispositive effect on any bi-partisan cornbread recipe they devise.  No matter what formula they might settle on (if that's possible), for sure they would beat the batter interminably! Thus ensuring disaster: Turning a raised product into flat-bread. Possibly burnt as well. Crackers!

Friday, October 18, 2013

It's Insulting

All liars are assuming that those to whom they tell their lies-  are stupid.  Think about it:  The very act of lying is an act of contempt.  An act of extreme and utter self-aggrandizement (on the part of the one who lies) and utter contempt for the "lied to" - as people so stupid that they can be bamboozled by a confection of words.  Words distracting from reality, not pointing to it.

This is what irritates the heck out of me: whenever the republicans try to rewrite history or simply string together a bunch of meaningless phrases, constructing a pablum for (the pitifully stupid) others to swallow wholesale.

It's their contempt for the listener that gets to me.  Their utter self-satisfaction and contempt.  As they spin a web of lies.  A paragraph of meaningless sentences.  Like a hypnotist.  Putting a trance on the voter.  And inserting a soothing post-hypnotic message:  Do as I say. 

It's insulting!

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Boomerang Principle

The Republicans profess to be so shrewd. Weaving endless webs of words - signifying nothing - all the while asserting certainty.

    Republican Boomerang ...  Waiting     

Poll-tested, focus-tested strings of verbiage - devoid of logic - repeated ad nauseam - have finally reached a tipping point. The point where the politics of nothing (but strategy) is reaping the whirlwind - its own reward: A boomerang of their own devising. Headed straight toward them.

Is it because they won't fund good education? Or good science? That they disbelieve the results of actual experiments.

That they simply could not see that the purveying of nonsense (over and over) acts like so many boomerangs thrown. That even with an accurate aim, a powerful blow comes back.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Think About It...

Everyone's castigating a young man who made a courageous ethical decision, which will alter the rest of his life.  And ours perhaps...  Well, not everyone is castigating him.  Some hail him as a hero, a tragic hero.

This morning I was reading a short passage by Ruth Burrows, a wise old nun, who was asked by the former Archbishop of Canterbury to write something for all Anglican priests and bishops to read during Lent.  And it struck me that what she was pointing at connected with the controversy surrounding this young (hero or traitor... that's the question!)... person.

Here are the words that struck me, with reference to slaying idols in view of Truth:
[To] recognize the glory of god shining in the face of Christ...  What had been of ultimate abhorrence to Paul, the claim that a "criminal" hanging on a gibbet was God's Messiah, becomes the theme of his preaching.  He will not pander to human pride. 
He will preach no other Christ than the one who was crucified, "a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles..." (1 Cor 1:23-24)  "Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!"  (Rom. 11:33)
Think about it....

Friday, March 22, 2013

Sin in Cyprus

Here's an interesting title to a news story I just read:

Cyprus will pay dearly for its sins

You hardly see such a word in the press or the media anymore.  But this time the writer (or his editor) has hit the nail on the head:  Sin.

You learn so much every time there's a crisis:  History, geography, economic, social, and political forces, they all show up, playing a role in the current economic crisis gripping a part of the world, which heretofore may hardly have been on your radar screen.

What Paul Krugman terms The Sum of all FUBAR is occurring on a small island.  So for its beleaguered citizens there's currently no way out of there - unless they own a boat or plane or can muster the cash to purchase a ticket.  I feel for these people.  I'd hate to be trapped like that. 

But as for FUBAR, Krugman doesn't detail the half of it.  And it all boils down to that word "Sin" - and I mean sin.  It's a perfect example, and a lesson for us all, of how a society (or a person), blurring moral and ethical boundaries in one area, can find its effects spreading and spreading, till they're mired in the worst sort of muck.  And mired they are in Cyprus!

Based upon simple web searches last night, our household learned some very sad facts about Cyprus.  And it all begins, it would seem, in a business model, which is apparently now dead.  But as the old saying goes:  "When you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas."  So, it would seem that once you decide to cater to folks who want to launder money, avoid taxes, and heaven knows what else, you leave yourself prey to purveyors of human trafficking, prostitution, shady real estate deals (another bubble ready to break), and alliances with thugs, gangsters, and probably drug smugglers galore.  And it all started because a little island nation wanted to make a living off of unethical rich depositors.  Perfect example of a moral/ethical slippery slope...

Yes, as the article states, Cyprus will pay dearly for its sins.  And ironically this tiny island is also awash in religion.  Mosques and Orthodox churches (multiple cathedrals!) abound.  Indeed the country's own Orthodox Church owns a huge portion of its patrimony when it comes to land and wealth and real estate.  Not to speak of the Russian (Orthodox) community there now as well... 

A reckoning has come.  And let us hope that the crisis and its aftermath, which will be extremely, extremely painful for all involved, will somehow force people - even us - to examine the moral/ethical compromises which led a beautiful island, an educated society, to sell its soul.

Let us truly pray that we not be led into temptation....

[Also posted here.]

Monday, February 11, 2013

Employers "in loco parentis"

Long ago there was a debate:  To what extent were colleges in a parental role vis a vis their students?  Seems to me that pretty much got settled.  Grades are no longer sent to parents, but not students.  (Now it's the reverse.)  Smoking is allowed.  Drinking is allowed.  Cutting classes is allowed.  Students are no longer required to live on campus, nor monitored for how late they stay out at night.  Students are considered adults, responsible for their own behavior. 

But here we are again:  Employers in loco parentis!  Employers, indeed, claiming to take over a religious role for employees, claiming... do you believe it? ...  to take over the role of conscience for their employees.

All because some employers cannot abide that employees exercise their own consciences.  Exercise responsibility for their own private lives.  In one area onlycontraception.  (Which means controlling women's behavior, mind you.  For I've heard no uproar over limiting drugs like Viagra.)

Now, colleges, for example, still consider themselves responsible for the safety of students.  They can't just leave patches of ice in the parking lots.  They can't just let gun-toting murderers run rampant on campus.  So, with the exception of some very conservative religious institutions which require students to agree to adhere to a strict code of conduct, most colleges today are able to draw lines between the public and the private.  (They provide safety within the college environment.  And they allow wide latitude with regard to student's private lives, so long as their behavior does not endanger the safety of others.)

But some employers, claiming consciences which speak for all, claiming a kind of infallibility, based (it would appear) on a claim to extreme holiness - now assert a right to a parental role with regard to their employees.  With regard to their female employees.  With regard to their family planning or their medical care.  In effect they want to punish women for private decisions they make with their doctor, decisions which have nothing to do with the workplace.

The mind reels!

It seems to me that today the root of so many problems in our society relates to a lack of logic, bordering on insanity.  Think about it.  How of many of our problems relate to a desire (by some) to control the private lives of others?  Or a desire to punish others for private behavior?  Or a desire to relieve themselves of any responsibility for the welfare of others?

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, disability, food stamps - no one forces us to use them.  But they certainly should be available for those of us who need them or who qualify for them.  As should contraception - as a covered medical option.  With fairness and equity for all.

We don't exempt some employers from paying taxes to social welfare programs.  We don't exempt some from laws requiring worker safety, hours worked, or the minimum wage.  So why is medical care different?

So why meddle in the medical?

Employers, is it so difficult for the professedly holy among you to understand?  Is it so difficult to accept that free will is a gift from God?

Honestly, I'm tired of the insanity!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Republican Inquisitors

The Hegel hearing – on the republican side – was little more than an inquisition. Watch John McCain again. Note how well he must have learned from his North Vietnamese interrogators. What a bully!

Now the question is: How exactly does the GOP expect to get across to the nation its new warm and fuzzy (immigrant-loving) PR image? When its own sales-people come off as mean and nasty interrogators? Gun-loving, mean and nasty interrogators.

If I were a person fleeing tyranny or poverty for freedom, would I instinctively prefer mean and nasty? 

Yes, the GOP sure does have a demographic problem. Also a personality problem.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Violence Against Women - Knows no Borders

RIP:  Two innocent women, tragically dying this week.
Christmas Eve, our town
Lost a cop, shot on duty
By her war vet spouse.
Lingering two weeks,
After gang rape unspeakable,
India riots – too late.

Tragedies like these. Too many of them!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

An Easy PR Campaign Against Guns

GAG:  Grannies Against Guns!

Already some coaches are speaking out about banning weapons.   One more sign that gun-toting is no longer considered mainstream.  The polls are saying the same thing.

If these coaches get their colleagues to step up to the plate, saying things like "Gun toting is not macho!  If you want macho, come to one of our daily work-outs for the team!"  If prominent sports figures contest the assertion that military style rifles are sporting rifles, and make it clear that only a coward seeks to mow down civilians (or buy a gun that can do that)....  If creative public service ads are made and shown during football games or basketball games, showing prominent sports heroes shunning guns or turning them in...

We could easily build upon the swelling grass-roots outrage and calls to ban assault weapons and large ammunition clips, to get people to turn in their guns.

You could even station law enforcement officials at tail-gate events, where unloaded guns are turned in by citizens.  With bounties paid for doing that.  Or free or low-price tickets to future events.

There are so many ways we could easily make this happen.  People who make ads could volunteer their time and creativity.  IT folks could make web cartoons.  Ordinary people could get in the act and post home-made videos.

A single grain of wheat, if planted, yields many seeds.  Or that grain, along with others, can make a substance we call bread.  We need grain planters.  We need bread bakers.  We need folks willing to be that single seed - in whatever form they can manage.

The rude pundit has stepped up to the plate!  With a series.  There's profanity, but such is called for.  In America.  Today.  Welcome, fellow grain of wheat!