The Blog Construction
Click on the CATEGORIES section on the righthand side. Find the topic of interest to you.
Sorry. No comments section or way to email me. It’s not that I don’t care or am arrogant. They would present too many technical demands for this blog, given my limitations.
1. To serve as a resource for those who find any of its content useful. It is my “sharing vehicle” for ideas, information, and thought-provoking articles plus my own thoughts, suggestions, and opinions regarding this democracy. No regular posts.
2. To help my fellow citizens of this nation and even the humans on this planet wrestle with and refine their views on self-government.
I am biased towards a “bottoms-up” form of government (various democracies), not only because I’ve grown up in one, but also because I believe that form has proven to produce better results for the whole society than “tops-down” forms (communism, dictatorships, or fascist regimes) over time. Humans on the planet are at an historic turning point similar to the 13 colonies in America back in the 18th century, but they face vastly more challenges to creating a planetary government.
That said, the whole purpose of the blog is to explore the difficulty and complexity of maintaining “bottoms-up” government — of the People, for the People, and by the People. The US can hardly be described as operating ideally. The widening of income inequality has exacerbated the impact of technological change on the middle class. Two “duopolistic”, highly radicalized political parties control primaries and therefore who gets on the ballot. The government of China may be a “tops-down” form, opposite that of Western democracies. However, it is a legitimate form, with its own approach to accountability. And, as much as with all notable humans and their activities in history, needs to be seen in its historic context. I think most folks and particularly the young in all countries would prefer to lessen conflict among countries and pursue instead solutions to existential global problems.
3. My rational brain may be rather pessimistic, but my gut wants to act out of hope. That’s why I do this. I have faith that there are many others of all persuasions who share my hope in a future for humans and are willing to do some hard heart-and-mind work towards that future.
4. Many small voices can have big impact. This is the essence of democracy. This is my small voice.
Ideas. Book recommendations. My own opinions on occasion. Links to major Supreme Court decisions to facilitate reading directly about the controversial issues that reached that level. Links to engaging articles and blogs.
The Foundation of My Thinking
Balance, Data, and Science
With a background in and passion for science, I see the world from the Big Picture first. The “1,000-foot view”. Maybe 100,000 feet on occasion from me. As I observe patterns and as curiosity or questions arise, I drill down into data and facts. Then I pull together the data and facts that support conclusions for my own opinions. Then I try to communicate those opinions and arguments succinctly. Readers can evaluate my use of sources, process, and conclusions. No trends continue forever. It’s not just the weather that swings between high- and low-pressure systems. The American electorate shifts its voting patterns back and forth between conservative and liberal approaches as the collective need evolves.
We humans tend to think life starts with what we want individually. We think humans are the dominant species on the planet. In fact, humans are way out of balance in numerous ways. We’re very complex and inventive, but also very destructive. The point here is that I see us as a sophisticated species among many other species on a life-supporting rock spinning around a sun through immense space. For example, I view the human species as highly challenged to alter its collective behavior in response to rising planetary heat levels due to human demand for energy to power modern life. But this blog doesn’t focus on that existential issue. It focuses on issues that impact our democracy.
Yes, I know each media outlet has its biases… As Mohamed El-Arian’s father told him when he was young: that’s why one needs to read a variety, then develop one’s own opinions. I subscribe to a variety. I’ve always been registered Unaffiliated. I’ve voted for both parties over the decades. I’m a strong supporter of Ranked Choice Voting as I believe most of us really don’t have a party that reflects our preferences. Look it up, learn up, and look for ways we can institute it state by state. Two states have accomplished that already. Also read the book I include in the shoutout category: The Politics Industry.
The Human Brain and the Enlightenment II
Americans are in a “Fourth Turning”. (Do read the book I describe in the book shoutout category.) The social contract of recent decades is collapsing. I propose we need another Enlightenment. I call it the Enlightenment II.
The cognitive lobe was the last lobe of the brain to evolve. We use it as a social tool to “rationalize” our decisions to our fellow humans and to ourselves. These decisions have already been made in our guts — using the other lobes starting with the “lizard brain”. I suggest that these two lobes are at war in each of our minds as we try to absorb, process, and live within our democracy in turmoil. Our guts and their “opinions” are very easily manipulated by political operatives, social and print media, and even by our favorite social groups. (See other books in the shoutout.)
This blog hopes to help each individual channel his or her cognitive lobe’s strength and work its thinking like a muscle. We just need to pause and let the emotions of the gut settle down. The thinking lobe can then rise within our attention space. Act “constructively”. That’s the word I use to guide my written work.
This blog has no ads. There is no revenue for me. This is pure give-back to this society which nurtured me over the decades. I make a modest investment to the web designer who manages the site’s mechanics and helps keep it safe. That’s why it isn’t fancy.
I’m retired, not very wealthy (but no complaints), and primarily on fixed income. That’s also why the blog is simple.
A nerd. Got that from my chemical engineer father. A farmer’s daughter (father’s side) and mountains of Tennessee and Kentucky into Ohio (mother’s side) background.
Being an analyst and an advocate is my “superpower” to quote a pop star describing her musical strength. That’s what the work as a Senior Credit Officer at Moody’s Investor’s Service involved. After I stopped working to raise my child, I advocated for our town education budget, then for the success of the Achievement First charter school network that was reducing the Connecticut state achievement gap, the widest in the nation at the time. The Too-Big-To-Fail bank focus of this blog and the book Fairy Tale Capitalism advocated for breaking them up. I still stand behind that argument, not just because their structure creates systemic risk, but also because that structure exacerbates income inequality.
I initiated the blog FairyTaleCapitalism.com after the real-estate- and derivatives-driven financial bubble burst across 2007 and 2008. The goal was to explain how the structure of our biggest banks evolved within very few decades to dissolve barriers between investment and commercial banking. Those barriers had protected the financial system since their 1930s erection. The blog essentially replaced the book, containing the book’s argument in 10 simple reasons that the TBTF banks should be broken up. I watched the bubble grow firsthand, working in finance in New York.
I added sections on Social Security after delving into its issues. Like most retired folks, Social Security makes up a material portion of my income. I was curious about what I’d been reading about it. I thought I’d share what I’ve been learning. I also added the U.S. debt burden. Folks have a hard time fathoming what $20 trillion or $30 trillion really mean. I put the debt burden into an individual and family context to show how huge it is.
The civic arena is very crowded and very hyped. I’ve wrestled between what seemed the futility of my private voice speaking out and the possibilities of small voices in an open democracy. Silence might have been “safe”, but freedom isn’t free.
When I write anything in public, it will be under my own name. I do not hide.
While I understand the description of our nation as polarized, I would suggest it is instead fractured. Polarized means there are two opposite, cleanly contrasting ends. We’re fractured into millions of individuals with many differing opinions.
Polarized or fractured, we seem unable to even discuss our differences. I hope to shed light on the other “room where it happens” — in our minds and hearts. What have we learned recently about human behavior? How might we employ that understanding to better relate to the ideas and feelings of other humans?
In a “bottoms-up” form of governance, which is how I view democracy, the role of small voices is huge.