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The Rejection of Knowledge

Posted by MacZad
Aug 29 2012

In the spectrum of knowledge ranging from complete understanding to total ignorance:

  • There is truth - facts proven by the scientific method,
  • There are vast unknowns where science has not yet triumphed
  • And there is dogma where perhaps the truth is still unknown but often where the truth is known but is being rejected.

Unfortunately, a large percentage of the population seems to have a disdain for scientists and scientific knowledge, and they reject facts in favor of dogma. In the political realm they elect dogmatic politicians who write laws based on their nonscientific and flawed understanding of the world. My favorite Mark Twain quote is right on the mark:

"The trouble with the world is not that people know too little; it's that they know so many things that just aren't so."

How can we be positive about our country's future when so many of our leaders legislate and administer based on disproven dogma rather than on proven facts. So we get,"Garbage in garbage out," results.

It is mainly, but not exclusively, Republican politicians that employ faulty logic on so many issues. On the democratic side a notable dogma is the liberal rejection of genetically engineered crops even though all that has happened is that modern science has accelerated the selective breeding process that has been used for thousands of years.

During the Bush junior administration the suppression, manipulation and ignoring of science was so bad that Chris Mooney wrote a book about it: The Republican War on Science. It's a stinging indictment.

Man, they can't get to our politicians fast enough for me.

To weed out politicians with dogmatic beliefs we, and the media, need to be asking candidates questions like: How old do you believe the earth to be? Any answer other than an unqualified "billions of years" indicates a candidate with such a warped sense of reality that he/she is unfit to govern and is undeserving of our votes.

Categories: Seeking Better Governance, Seeking Truth - Debunking Dogma

The Wisdom of Henry Ford

Posted by MacZad
Aug 23 2012

The paragraphs below summarize the history of Henry Ford's unprecedented liberalization of pay and working hours for his workers early in the 20th Century. Obviously, he increased wages and cut work hours because it made good business sense. However, it's also apparent that he was somewhat altruistic as he went further than he would have had to because he had the vision to see that better pay and fewer working hours would increase consumer demand. Unfortunately, few of today's industrial leaders share that vision. In the video link at the end of this post there's one that does.

Ford astonished the world in 1914 by offering a $5 per eight-hour day wage ($110 today), upped from a previous rate of $2.34 for nine hours (the policy was adopted for female workers in 1916). The news shocked many in the industry--at the time, $5 per day was nearly double what the average auto worker made--but turned out to be a stroke of brilliance, immediately boosting productivity and building a sense of company loyalty and pride among Ford's workers. The best mechanics in Detroit flocked to Ford, bringing their human capital and expertise, raising productivity, and lowering training costs. Detroit was already a high-wage city, but competitors were forced to raise wages or lose their best workers. Ford's policy proved, however, that paying people more would enable Ford workers to afford the cars they were producing and be good for the business and the economy.

Twelve years later in May of 1926, Ford Motor Company became one of the first companies in America to adopt a five-day, 40-hour week for workers in its automotive factories. The policy was extended to Ford's office workers the following August. According to an article published in The New York Times, Edsel Ford, Henry's son and the company's president, explained that, "Every man needs more than one day a week for rest and recreation. The Ford Company always has sought to promote [an] ideal home life for its employees. We believe that in order to live properly every man should have more time to spend with his family."

Henry Ford said of the decision: "It is high time to rid ourselves of the notion that leisure for workmen is either 'lost time' or a class privilege." At Ford's own admission, however, the five-day workweek was also instituted in order to increase productivity: Though workers' time on the job had decreased, they were expected to expend more effort while they were there. Manufacturers all over the country, and the world, soon followed Ford's lead, and the Monday-to-Friday workweek became standard practice.

The result was not only improved performance for Ford Motor Company. Mr. Ford's business decisions are widely credited with the creation of the American middle class that today's politicians speak to as a voting bloc and the manufacturers of the world desire as a market for their products.

Ford's actions were good for business, and good for America. Over the last few decades government policy and manufacturer business decisions have not followed the principles of Mr. Ford, and the American economy is now paying the price. American manufacturers have sought out cheap labor in foreign countries for the production of goods consumed by Americans. Government tax, trade and regulatory policies have primarily rewarded these decisions or created disincentives to locating manufacturing here in the United States. Mr. Ford's principle that workers needed to be able to afford to buy the products produced was violated. American policy needs to support the return of American manufacturing to maintain the middle class born of Henry Ford's business policies.

This post is a mashup of content (sometimes used word-for-word) from the following sources:

eNotes --- Norman's Demesne --- timelines --- suite101

Categories: Miscellaneous

Father Charles Coughlin, et al

Posted by MacZad
Aug 19 2012

The chances are that you have never heard of Catholic priest, Father Charles Coughlin. During the late 1920s and into the early 1940s he was a popular radio personality with a huge audience for his weekly broadcasts. He was a democrat, a populist and an isolationist but also in his later broadcasts revealed himself to be a bigot who dispensed angry, irrational charges and assertions. As do all demagogues he had to have scapegoats. His were mainly the Jews, and he even concocted a non-existant Jewish-Communist connection to heap his vitriol upon.

In the late 1930s he praised the fascist leaders Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler and his horrific anti-Semitic policies. Coughlin’s isolationism ultimately doomed him; after Pearl Harbor, and after Hitler declared war on America, there was no longer a mass audience for his message. Now Coughlin, though mostly forgotten, is thought of as one of the major demagogues of the 20th century.

Here are links to sources of the content in the above paragraph and to one of his 1938 broadcasts:

Pioneering Hate Radio        Father Coughlin        History Matters


Today we have several modern-day equivalents of Father Coughlin - demagogues all, spewing angry hate filled talk on radio and Fox News. The techniques used to inflame the audience are the same as those used by Coughlin more than a half century ago. Their scapegoats are different: welfare mothers, NAACP, the homeless, the unemployed, SNAP, liberal media, gays etc., and they shift their audience's attention away from the real problems and inequities of the times by their constant scapegoat harangues. It's a classic diversion technique which has much of their audience looking in the wrong direction for the source of many of the nation's problems. Surely the homeless, those on welfare or food stamps (SNAP) have an insignificant voice in Washington compared to the wealthy and the corporations with all their K Street lobbyists, but these guys portray their scapegoats as powerful and a principal source of the nation's problems - what rot!

Though their audiences are far smaller that Coughlin's , Limbaugh, Beck, O'Reilly, Hannity, et al, are far more powerful than he ever was as they function as an extension of the Republican Party. They echo what the party says and the party leadership often echoes what they say. However, my guess is that the country is slowly waking up their demagoguery, their influence has peaked, and in another 50 years they will be remembered like Coughlin is today - mostly forgotten and known only as major demagogues of the 21st century; what a personal legacy to have!

Here are some other takes on the similarity between Coughlin and his modern-day equivalents:

Rush Limbaugh        Father Coughlin's Heirs        Coughlin/Limbaugh

Want to try the opposite of these guys? I suggest Up with Chris Hayes Saturday and Sunday mornings 8 to 10 eastern, on MSNBC.,

Categories: Illuminating Dark Places, Seeking Better Governance

A Christian Nation?

Posted by MacZad
Aug 16 2012

The Christian fundamentalists keep saying that the country was founded as a "Christian Nation," that we have strayed from being one, and must again become one. Actually, the reverse is true; all but ignored initially, god and religion have enjoyed increased official recognition over the years.

That the Nation was founded by men of the Christian faith is beyond doubt, but a look at the nation's founding documents clearly shows that they carefully excluded any mention of god and minimized even the mention of religion. The applicable quotes:

  • There is no mention of religion or god in the original Constitution adopted in 1787 other than Article VI which says,"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
  • The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ratified in 1791 provided only that, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

The Constitution's Article VI allows an even atheist to become President, but they elsewhere provided that he/she must be native born. Those are very strange priorities for a "Christian Nation."

However, despite the founding documents god and religion have been creeping into the laws of our land for many years. Here's some highpoints of the history:

  • The first affirmation of God by the federal government was when IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared on the 1864 two-cent coin.
  • The Coinage Act of February 12, 1873 stated that the Secretary of the Treasury, "may cause the motto IN GOD WE TRUST to be inscribed on such coins as shall admit of such motto."
  • Congress by the Act of May 18, 1908, ordered IN GOD WE TRUST mandatory on all coins upon which it had previously appeared, and it has appeared on all coins since 1916.
  • In 1931 Congress proclaimed The Star Spangled Banner the U.S. National Anthem. Its seldom sung fourth verse includes the words, "In God is our trust."
  • In 1954 Congress inserted the phrase “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance at the behest of the Roman Catholic Church’s Knights of Columbus. Francis Bellamy the 1892 composer of the Pledge was a strong believer in and advocate of complete separation of church and state, and the change certainly went against his beliefs as it decreased the Pledge's emphasis on patriotism by inserting a religious element.
  • In 1956 a Joint Resolution of the 84th Congress, made IN GOD WE TRUST the national motto of the United States , and it was first used on paper money in 1957.
  • 1983 was declared as The Year of the Bible by Joint Congressional Resolution.
  • In 1988, a Joint Resolution of Congress declared that the first Thursday in May of each year as a National Day of Prayer.
  • More recently we have President George W. Bush's "Faith Based Initiatives."

In Summary: What we have is a federal government that functioned for the better part of its first century acknowledging only that religions existed, but which since has been increasing affirming a god (by probably unconstitutional legislation) in opposition to the intent of the nation's founders. So, despite the Christian fundamentalists' assertations, it's now closer to being a "Christian Nation" than it was when it was founded.

An earlier post shows the dangers of the fundamentalists' push to further integrate their god into the laws on the land.

Categories: Defending Religious Freedom, Seeking Truth - Debunking Dogma

From An E-Mail - Awesome Humor!

Posted by MacZad
Aug 12 2012

Categories: Humor and Fun Stuff, Seeking Better Governance

Not In The Top 1%? - Then Why Vote Republican?

Posted by MacZad
Aug 10 2012

Though I'm not a member of any political party for years my vote went mostly to Republicans mainly because I believed that the Republicans had better fiscal policies.

The Bush years proved that idea to be dead wrong. Spending was higher (the money just went to different places) and taxes were cut with no regard for the mounting debt. Bush turned Clinton's budget surplus into historically-high deficit spending. In 2001, it took $250 dollars to buy one ounce of gold. By 2012, it was around $1700. The intrinsic value of gold didn't change; the insane fiscal policies of the Bush years were the major factor in causing the dollar to plummet approximately 85% relative to gold. You may not like the "tax-and-spend Democrats," but the "borrow-and-spend Republicans," who seem to believe that all problems can be cured by cutting taxes, are worse; they have saddled our children with stratospheric debt. Makes it hard to vote Republican.

There was also a disdain for effective regulation of anything during the Bush years, and the failure to regulate the financial industry was a major factor leading to the recent crash. After his bitter experience, the humbled former Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, now understands that free markets (particularly financial ones) are not self-policing or self-correcting (i.e. without crashes) and that enforced regulations are required for markets to function best, both for the good of the market participants, and for the good of society. Unfortunately, one only has to listen to the current crop of ultra-conservative Republican leaders (like VP candidate Paul Ryan) to know that, unlike Greenspan, few learned any lessons from the crash as most are still espousing a little-regulated, and almost totally free-market, economy. Makes it hard to vote Republican.

Now that the Bush-era damage has been done, the current Republican leadership in Washington is giving belated attention to fiscal discipline (as exemplified by Paul Ryan's budget proposal), but, while it's clear that a smaller federal government is needed, their reform proposals fall inequitably on the backs of working Americans with little sharing of the pain by those at the top. It's true that spending under Obama has risen dramatically, but most of that increase has been (with congressional approval) an attempt to get the economy going again after the Bush-era induced 2008 financial crash. The inequity of their proposed reforms makes it hard to vote Republican.

The increasing concentration of income and wealth at the very top, that has been going on since about 1980, is not healthy for a representative democracy. It's clear that both political parties shared in much poor policy making that further empowered the Rent-Seekers thus exacerbating the inequity; it's also clear the Republican leadership doesn't see anything wrong with such inequity; it's the stuff of revolutions making it dangerous in the long run. Makes it hard to vote Republican.

The current Supreme Court with its conservative majority gave us its Citizens United decision which further empowered the corporations to spend as they please to influence elections thus effectively rendering the voice of the people impotent. It's one of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever for our representative democracy. The next president will likely get to appoint a justice or two to the court which could further entrench a pro-corporation majority. Makes it hard to vote Republican.

Finally, there are the social issues. The Republican party is now very strongly influenced by the conned fundamentalist Christians and as a result repressive social legislation is now a hallmark of their control. Makes it hard to vote Republican.

So the Republicans shouldn't be getting our votes in November. Obama has faults, but given the mess that he inherited from the Bush years and the pertinaciousness of the Republicans in congress, he's done a satisfactory job. He will definitely be better than Romney who will likely side with the Plutocrats (after all, he's a member) and oppose anything that would move us back toward a truly representative democracy - one where the voice of the people actually influences the legislation enacted.

Categories: Opposing Plutocracy and Corporatocracy, Seeking Better Governance

The Rise of Inequality Since 1980

Posted by MacZad
Aug 05 2012

These 4 charts are but a few from the Center on Policy and Budget Priorities series on Examining Inequality Trends.

By presenting these charts I'm not advocating that the 99% undertake class warfare (though one might interpret the charts as showing that there has been class warfare and that the very rich have won). I am merely trying to bring to your attention the vast change that has taken place since 1980 and the principal reason for it. From the end of WW2 until about 1980 there was something of a social contract between labor, management and government, and though there were rough spots, on the whole those were good times for the populace; during those years even Republican presidents championed progressive legislation.

However, things began changing about 1980 resulting in the inequalities shown by the charts. While it's true that great fortunes were made in the computer and Internet industries during this period it's difficult to attribute all the growth in top income/wealth solely to that for there were big growth drivers (television, mass air travel, multi-car families, etc.) in the earlier period as well. However, even more significant are the many malevolent factors that have been at work in recent years.

A leading malevolent factor is Rent Seeking which has been exacerbated by the many laws and policies enacted at the behest of the corporations and the very wealthy. It's a "vicious circle" with each gain in income and wealth at the top increasing their ability to contribute to Republican politicians (more heavily than to Democrats) who in turn further tilt the playing field in their favor. They expect, and get, favorable treatment from all those lobbying and contribution dollars. Here's the great 7/29/12 Non Sequitur cartoon on the subject, and an earlier post with links to Wiley's other Congress-Man strips.

After 30 years of this we now have the plutocrats almost in full control of the political process. Many in both parties have been bought, and we have all but lost the enlightened society envisioned by our founders. Now we, the masses, must push back strongly to regain our representative democracy.

Categories: Opposing Plutocracy and Corporatocracy, Seeking Better Governance