Saturday, February 09, 2019

Thomas Paine supported a guaranteed minimum income for all.

Our constitution in its first sentence establishes us as, to some degree, a democratic socialist nation by outlining six purposes for our (we the people) self-governing. Those purposes are:
  1. ever perfecting our union that is therefore (by definition) imperfect. A union of “we the people” is by definition, again, joint universal social enterprise, i.e. (to some degree) socialism
  2. establishing justice. Taking care that all are treated fairly is again restricting those things that might treat folks unfairly, like unrestrained capitalism, i.e. robber barons and oligarchs.
  3. insuring domestic tranquility, which requires the establishment and staffing, by all-of-us jointly, of law enforcement agencies.
  4. providing for the common defense. Once again a  (to some degree) socialistic effort is required to jointly maintain armies and navies, etc.
  5. promoting the general welfare. Well, that’s a mighty liberal idea, isn’t it?
  6. securing the blessings of liberty to all forever.  You ain’t free if all the money is in a few hands. (Of course you are also NOT free if all the power is in the hands of party bosses under extreme “socialism” known as communism.
Thomas Paine was a piece of work. Besides being one of our most influential founding fathers, he was also the first to propose a guaranteed minimum income for every citizen. 
I own a little piece of ground with a very nice house on it. You had better not try to take it from me. I'll fight you. Still I recognise that if you trace if back far enough you will find that this little piece of ground was taken from a Cherokee family. And they, years before probably took it from a Creek. The Creeks perhaps moved in after the Mississippians were decimated by disease. Who knows.
Anyway. Property ownership exists. Paine said all men should receive a "citizen's dividend" to make up for "for the loss of his or her natural inheritance"
Who woulda thunk it? Thomas Paine the Democratic Socialist.
In the years since that first sentence of the Constitution was written we have made our union more perfect by adding 27 amendments. Those have further established that we are a nation, not of the rich, by the lucky, or for the smart, but “of the (whole) people, by the (whole) people, and for the (whole) people.” By definition, we have in America a social compact to share power equally, and work toward the general welfare. 
I doubt Adams and Madison and Jefferson and Paine could have imagined the ways history would “perfect” us, but thank God, they did establish means. They may have envisioned an eventual emancipation of the back race, but Douglass, Carver, King, and Obama were likely beyond their imaginings. By the end of their final century (the 19th) the industrial revolution would produce the robber barons and the revolt against wealth concentration that produced the labor movement that, in turn, would pave the way for Teddy Roosevelt to inaugurate the “American Century” (the 20th). All those men along with Truth, Tubman, Anthony, Abzug, Friedan, Milk, Gompers, Lewis, Chavez, etc. etc. must now be counted among the “fathers” (and mothers) who continue our founding.
The most liberal of the liberals wants strong incentives for invention, hard work, creativity, and innovation. The great leaders I’ve mentioned were not lazy. They valued enterprise. BUT they and we also recognize that “no man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” That wealth is built not by a financial planner in an office somewhere, or even by an inventor, or visionary entrepreneur but by a myriad of hard-working people living and dead who prepared the way for them and us. We all owe a large portion of our wealth, what ever it is, to others. 

Asking the wealthy to give a larger proportion of their second ten million than their first toward the general welfare is perfectly fair, and actually, the essence of justice.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

The Ring of Liberty

We often think of capitalism and socialism as existing on a spectrum from most capitalist to most socialist. I have said that tyranny resides at both extremes and maximum liberty near the middle. 

I wonder if a better image would be a circle with maximum tyranny and maximum liberty at six and twelve o'clock, and with ordinary socialism and ordinary capitalism at three and nine o'clock. The more extreme the capitalist system, the more extreme the socialist system, the closer each system moves toward tyranny. The more capitalism and socialism balance the greater the liberty people have. In such a balanced system the capitalists are free to innovate and profit but are tempered by environmental and human rights protections and protections against extreme wealth concentration.

Is Trump ALL I am Against?

A friend wrote on my Facebook page a while ago that it seems the only thing "the left" is against is "Trump".
And it occurs to me there may be truth in that. 

I guess it depends on what "Trump" means.
If by "Trump" my friend means the things I've seen Donald John Trump do and say ....
  • Unrestrained never-ending lying
  • Caging kids
  • Wasting billions on a vanity wall
  • Encouraging white nationalists
  • Sexual predation
  • Ridding Americans of healthcare insurance if they have pre-existing conditions
  • Coddling Putin and other dictators
  • Ignoring the murder of Khashoggi
  • Selling out our republic for his own financial gain
  • Dismissal of science
  • Rape of the environment
  • Destruction of public education
  • Concentrating wealth in fewer and fewer hands
  • Mocking the disabled
  • Ridiculing national heroes and Gold Star families
  • Lying some more
  • Etc. Etc. Etc.
Yep, in that case, "Trump" is pretty much every thing I abhor in one smelly package.
I often write about what I am for too, by the way. Perhaps she missed it. Politically "what I am for" can be summed up nicely in the first sentence of our Constitution, which indicates in less plain but much finer language that the body politic should always be about ---
  • perfecting our republic
  • making sure there's justice for all
  • keeping peace and order within our republic
  • defending us from foreign threats
  • promoting the welfare of all
  • securing the blessings of liberty for all, now and always.
And NONE of that (except maybe ineffective protection from exaggerated foreign treats) seems to concern the man who lost the vote of the people by nearly three million ballots in 2016 and by even more in 2018. I did not watch his word salad called "The State of the Union speech" tonight, but from reports I can tell that he still refuses to even slightly modify his unAmerican attitudes and goals.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Mother Had the Measles

My mother had measles when she was a baby. She'll be 96 in a few weeks. Her three-year-old brother had measles at the same time. The same measles Mama has survived for nine and a half decades killed her brother before he turned 4. My grandmother kept Leon's little shoes in her cedar chest till the day she died. She had no picture of him. She said his hair was a light brown like Tom and Jack not red like Charlie or Grice. Had Leon survived measles he would likely have been gone like all five of his older brothers by now. If not he would turn 100 this October. Even long life is short from my current perspective.
John Franklin Enders "The Father of Modern Vaccines"
My first cousin Lavay is only ten years younger than his Uncle Leon. He and my high school friends David and Robert were all crippled by polio. I got the vaccine. The polio forced Robert to spend most of his short life in bed and killed him before he turned 20. David has spent his life hobbling around, remarkably well, on crutches. Lavay managed despite a bad limp to walk all his adult life thanks to leg shortening surgeries as a little kid. David and Lavay both are now dealing with greatly reduced mobility due to the horrible effects of post-polio syndrome. I managed to avoid the disease long enough to take the vaccine in the mid-fifties along with all my classmates. And I have been awfully grateful for Dr. Enders and Dr. Salk and their vaccines every time I think of those three contemporaries of mine and little Uncle Leon whom I never got to meet.
Jonas Salk, developer of the polio vaccine
Of course we must keep good records and always work to study the effects of all medicines and seek to improve outcomes. There are no guarantees. Even aspirin has side effects. But in the end I believe we must do what science tells us is most likely to protect our kids. 
Vaccines are in the news again as measles outbreaks occur here and there across the nation. A few cases have cropped up here in Georgia. No other vaccine preventable disease causes as many deaths as measles. Vaccines save many lives.
Give a listen to this man who has a unique perspective; he is a vaccine researcher and also the father of an autistic child ----
Anti-Vaxxers Brought Back the Measles

Monday, January 28, 2019

Dutch Cradle Cross

Many years ago Louise Langham and others in our church established a tradition of celebrating once a year the new children and grandchildren born into our congregation during the previous year. I have spent decades watching others celebrate their grandchildren, but today, finally, I got my turn. Sheila and I were prepared with an 8 x 10 to display to our fellow Methodists since the real deal is ensconced in northern San Diego County in California. 

Now for several years I sang a beautiful arrangement of "Jesus Loves Me" for the baby recognition Sunday. But I did not do that last year and was not expecting to this time around... till I got to church this morning and found myself listed in the bulletin! Somehow I hadn't heard about my solo. I quickly drove back home, located the sheet music, brought it back to church and with eight minutes left before the prelude handed the music to our wonderful pianist Shelly Reid.  

When Clementine Georgia Carlin's name was called Sheila and I proudly joined the other parents and grandparents and babies down front. Sheila held the picture aloft as she collected  the certifiicate...

... a book on parenting a one-year-old, and a beautiful little Dutch Cradle Cross. We had chosen Proverbs 31:25 as her Bible verse. 

So one side of the cross has that reference on it...

The other side has her full name...

The cross was crafted by Glover Hall, one of our church friends who has made these crosses for this celebration for several years. The calligraphy is by our dear friend Anita "Bo" Stewart. Her artistry makes this memento even more precious to us.

There must have been a dozen or more babies recognized this morning. As everyone else headed back to their seats I took the pulpit with zero rehearsal to sing "Jesus Loves Me". Despite a good deal of emotion welling in my sentimental ol' breast, an unsteady first note, and some rhythm difficulties in the middle section, I enjoyed singing the song and it was well-received.

Clemmie's great aunt, Deborah Shaw Lewis was sitting on the first row with her iPad videoing the proceedings.

So Clemmie, (and your Mom and Dad) we'll deliver these things in person or via mail just as soon as we can. A little while ago I took the certificate and cross and picture across town so my mother could see them. 

Thank you to Louise, Glover, Bo, our friends in the "Circle of Friends" UMW group, Shelly, our Pastor Nanci, and everyone who helped make this day so special.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Bovine Excrement

I try to be a bit creative with the language to avoid words like "bullshit", but in a world where a cowardly lowlife like Donald John Trump can sit in the office once held by Washington, Lincoln, and Obama and tweet insults and lies daily, such barnyard language to communicate righteous fury may be necessary.
We must maintain an adequate degree of disgust with this abhorrent stain on our history. He is not yet Hitler, but like Hitler did in Germany, he is eroding our sense of what is normal and decent. The American (minority) president alienates and demonizes democratic allies while lauding totalitarian despots! He does the bidding of Putin, Xi, and Kim, while stiff-arming Trudeau, Merkel, and Macron.
We cannot accept the corruption and, yes I dare call it, tyranny. We must maintain our outrage to throw evil and its enablers out of office. Last November Americans took the opportunity to hand Trump's apologists their worst defeat in since Watergate and at least establish a check on #DonTheGrabber's excesses.
Do not stay silent. Resist. Speak out. Register voters. Get your friends to the polls. Donate to Democratic nominees. As Ben Franklin noted, we have a republic if we can keep it. We the People must save our republic from this "bullshit".