Common Sense

July 15, 2017 § Leave a comment


Corporate Paranoia

It is apparent to me that private corporations are not content to exercise their ownership rights to our country through agents holding elective offices.  They now have control of the Supreme Court, the Congress and the Presidency.  Because of decades of gerrymandering voting districts in key states, their political control seems secure.

Regardless of these circumstances, however, their paranoia persists.  They have been unable to abolish the Constitution and, short of a military takeover, they cannot control the constant movement of population.   These population shifts threaten the permanence of their artful design of voting districts.  Also they are aware of the historical record of political strength:  At some point, the excesses of political winners becomes too brutal and the victims become too numerous to be ignored.

When that occurs, if the victims are organized, the reaction can be troublesome.

The Final Solution

Current events indicate to me the nature of the solution chosen by the multinational corporations whose owneership rights are threatned.  They are seeking to become the owners of the vital resources and structure of America; a sort of corporate socialism.  Just as Marx sought to establish communist control of the western industrial world, I think the business corporations have decided to do the same thing:  Not the dictatorship of the proletariat.  The dictatorship of the corportariat.

The Privatized Military

The privatizing of the military, starting with the Viet Nam War, has become a reality.  They dying will still be done by patriotic young men and women but the profit making and the choice of battlefields will be left to corporate leaders, motivated by protection and enrichment of their stockholders.

The Privatized Infrastructure

The corporate commisar, Donald of the Orange Hair and forked toungue, has already proposed the privatizing of the airports. The next step in this takeover is already in the news.  America’s infrastructure is in dire need of rebuilding.   Highways, bridges, ports, goverment buildings and national parks all have been allowed to deteriorate and must be refurbished in order to meet the needs of corporate business.  So, rather than solving the problem with public funds provided by reasonable revision of the tattered and hodgepodge tax system, the solution proposed is privatization. When this has been accomplished, the corporate takeover of America will be virtually complete as a result of one fairly common procedure for one corporation to acquire another corporation:  Simply buy its assets.

The Health Care Dilemma

Corporations need functional human beings to perform profit making work.  And, because human beings need health care, the corporate solution is to design a system that provides enough health care to maintain a necessary work force at an affordable cost including a reasonable profit margin for the component providers:  hospitals, drug providers, doctors and nurses and equipment adequate to provide profit-efficient health care.  The system must be delegated to state governments rather than the federal government because  corporate control of state government is much cheaper than corporate control of the federal government.

The “block grant” solution is an obvious ploy  crafted to disguise the brutality of offering young and healthy people cheap and minimal health plans, forcing older and sicker Americans out of the health care system by imposing premiums higher than they can afford.  Everyone knows that any insurance system is based on fixing costs in a pool composed of a mix of high risk and law risk members.  When this is not the case, “insurance” become a cruel joke for those most in need of its benefits.


Four centuries ago, Thomas Paine wrote a little pamphlet he named Common Sense.  In it he called attention to the injustice of the colonial system which rewarded the patrician class at the expense of the working class.  He goaded his readers to share his outrage.  His ideas fanned  the embers that culminated in American independence and, later, encouraged rebels in France to storm the Bastille and launch the French Revolution.

I think we need an updated version of Common Sense.  Not a call for violence.  That would only lead some naive and brave people toward certain death.  We should borrow from the most famous and vile politicians of our generation:  Adolph Hitler and Donald Trump.

Those two demonic demagogues rose to power with giant outdoor rallies.  Trump proved false the “conventional wisdom” that TV and the internet had made obsolete outdoor political rallies.  On the contrary we have seen countless thousands of people enthusiasticly attending outdoor meetings where they cheered performers, some of whom were wise and serious and others who were recklessly dishonest rabble rousers.

The Chautauqua Solution

I think we need to reach back in our history and recreate a modern version of Chautauqua meetings.  That label will not do because few people alive now would know what the name refers to.  A new name would have to be devised.  My favorite is “Common Sense for Common People”.

These meetings would not be based on any candidate’s campaign for office. They would carefully maintain their credentials as nonpartisan educational and entertainnent meetings.  When weather permits, some  gatherings could be outdoors in atheletic stadiums.  Otherwise they could be held in public venues; in small towns’ school auditoriums; in major cities, in college and university auditoriums.   A small admission charge could be collected, like 2 dollars, enough to pay for the facility or the permits required.

What Would Be the Purpose and Message Presented at Common Sense Meetings?

Here is the curriculum I think is missing from our public discourse:

  1. Corporate wealth did not result from individual or collective effort or ingenuity.  It is based on public wealth, primarily public land, originally granted to finance railroads, public roads, cattle empires, water ways and publicly funded ocean ports.  I have posted esays on this blog describing this process.  Do a search for We Built It  and Damn Yankees, Inequality and Corporations.
  2. The difference between government purposes and corporate purposes should be clearly explained:  A corporation is legally required to exist and invest all its efforts in the interest of its stockholders.  Our democratic republic is required by its Constitution to exist and invest its efforts in support of the “general welfare” of its citizens.  Corporations exist to make money.   The US Government exists to protect us – all of us – from all enemies, foreign and domestic.
  3. A proper duty of a country’s government is to provide a safe and healthy environment for its inhabitants.  The right to live is a fundamental right and adequate health care is a necesary requiremnt for the protection of that right.  Equitable taxation should provide for universal health care.
  4. A proper understanding of government policy is necessary for the successful operation of a democratic republic.  Voting is a duty of every citizen and the performance of that duty requires access to unbiased honest access to information.  Disagreement and intellectal conflict is proper, protected in fact by our Constitution,  so information should be available in support of all sides of public  discourse, povided the speakers acknowledge the truth and value of paragraphs 1,2 and 3.  These meetings should not offer an opportunity for people who hate American government, the Constitution and Bill of Rights upon which it is based.  The proper roles of government and private enterprise is a subject that will forever be debated, as it should be.  But the debate should be about a proper balance, not an attack on either source of power.  That is,  that balance should not benefit either government or private enterprise in ways detrimental or indifferent to the lives and welfare of Americn citizens, regardless of the size of their wealth.
  5. Speakers for the meetings should be recruited primarily from Academia or from the legal or medical profession.  Speakers should be chosen based on two criteria:  Their knowledge and their ability to convey information in a way understandable to people not members of the speaker’s field of learning.  This said, their presentation should not assume the audience lacks intelligence.   I have learned, based on 50 years of arguing  to juries, that the assumption ordinary working people lack intelligence is a canard without merit or evidence.  In describing these criteria I have not mentioned the clergy. There are some subjects appropriate for commentary by members of the clergy but those speakers should be chosen carefully to exclude anyone who considers it to be his or her duty to aim evangelical messages to his or her listeners or to condemn or disparage those who do not share his or her beliefs.
  6. Professional musicians and other entertainment professionals should be recruited to participate in these meetings.  They should be chosen on the basis of their appeal to the target audience: Multi racial and multi ethnic working class Americans of all sexual orientations.
  7. On some occasions, debates should be arranged and representatives of different political groups should be allowed to participate but only with advance notice that racist or other form of bigotry would be stopped, forcefully if necessary.  Also, strict limits should be enforced on the time alloted to each speaker.  No solicitation of contributions or participation in activities in support of a political candidacy should be permitted.   A candidate could present his or her ideas but not as part of an appeal for support or money.
  8. Obviously these suggestions are merely notions swirling in my head.  Much planning by people smarter than I am must design this program.  I think it should be planned as a permanent part of our country’s public life.  I envision these meetings as  places where newcomers can learn about our country and present residents can be given honest information as an alternative to the advertiser-driven pablum available on television.
  9. One more thing:  Any peddler who tries to hand out circulars or other forms of advertising to the attendees should be firmly and publicly discouraged.  No Tshirts, ugly hats or campaign paraphenalia.  If he or she persists, he or she and his or her product should be denounced at the meeting.  These meetings should not become a hangout for hucksters, private or political.


Well, if you have stayed with me this far, you have been sharing one of my fantasies.  I have no reason to believe a new public source of information will be created, although I will continue to hope for one.

I fear racial and political divisions are threatening to destroy the kind of America I crave.  Our leaders seem more interested in exercising political power than finding ways to repair and preserve the fabric of our constitutional democracy.  I think they make the mistake of believing that if the country is divided into two equal halves, they can gain power by making a clever, secret if practical, appeal to a small sliver of the group of which they are not a part in some way not threatening to their credentials among their supporters.

I have been around enough political campaigns to understand this kind of reasoning.  The problem with it, given the present state of our politics, as Donald Trump is discovering, is that after you are elected with that strategy, you find yourself powerless because half your constituents are angry because you won and the other half are urging you to keep promises impossible without a dependable majority.

I am not comfortable with political compromises.   In the past I have often joked that if I ever found myself supporting  the majority, I would know that i’d sold out.  I have lived to push politicians toward the limits of their ability to be re-elected, sometimes with success, some times not.

Now, however, I believe we are facing a crisis.  Our Constitutional democracy has already lasted longer than any other government on the planet.  Trump may have done us a favor by showing us what can happen if  corporate power is allowed to operate without any effective check. Whether we know it or not, I think we are looking into the abyss.  If Commander and Chief Trump blunders into a war, our game may be over and we might take the rest of our fellow primates with us.  When the sane people around him can’t even control his asinine tweeting, why should we have any confidence they can prevent him or some of his reckless spawn from starrting a a war?

These fears motivate me to wish for some way to attract the attention of working class Americans with some truthful information that can refocus their attention on the values of our precious form of government.

Trump’s answer to everything is more corporate power and less government power.  Tax cuts and a giant military force dominated by private mercenaries and corporate direction are all he is about.  He and his family are worse than opponents of orderly government.  They are so ignorant they literally know nothing about orderly government.  Their intuitive answer to every problem is to bully and lie their way toward whatever outcome they seek.  The world is too dangerous to allow buffoons like these to control our country.

Our Constitution makes avaiable to us an effective remedy for this problem:  An informed and engaged electorate which shows up at polling places on election day.  The proposal I offer is not to create a permanent majority committed to one political party.  I believe our task is to establish a framework of political debate consistent with our basic form of government.  I recognize that, in the past, this kind of appeal has been used to abuse the rights of dissenters.  I am not suggesting a revival of the Red Scare days when accusations of communist influence led to gross abuse of government power.

My proposal does not suggest that anyone be sent to jail for whatever they believe.  I am confident our constitutional republic will be appreciated and supported if it is explained plainly and intelligently.  That is my intent and hope.




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