#300 Sense Check: Is a 5th US Revolution Likely? (Yes)

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1.  Most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations.

Occasionally I break from the normal formatting and do a sense check.  Auditing one’s own work is problematic but I try to be objective.  Your thoughts are welcomed and appreciated,  Thanks for your time and interest…and comments, please.

Is a 5th revolution in the US likely after the year 2020?  The short answer is “yes.”

WhySince today is part of a long weekend celebrating July 4 and the nation’s declaration of independence, what better time to step back and assess the premise of this blog.  I’ve been writing the blog for about five (5) years with a few months between starting writing and publishing the initial entry.  What has surprised me the most the past five years is not that a revolution seems likely…but the path to the 5th revolution.

Obama PicFive years ago (2013), Barack Obama was in the second term of this presidency. Some key points of that time: (i) the economy was slowly but steadily recovering from the Great Recession of 2008; (ii) even with the economic recovery median household income was flat (not unexpected given the depth of the recession); (iii) the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, was just beginning to be fully implemented; (iv) Republicans were making every effort to thwart legislation of nearly any action proposed by president Obama.  Recall Mitch McConnell declared about two years into Obama’s term that his job and the job of Republicans in Congress McConnellwas to make Obama a one-term president.  In addition to attempting to thwart any legislative action, Republicans were holding what became endless hearings on Benghazi.  The pattern of these type hearings continued throughout Obama’s presidency.  None of the hearings produced any substantive evidence of intentional wrongdoing.

In the media, cable was overtaking the networks as a primary source of news.  Cable outlets are not subject to the same FCC restrictions as over-the-air networks.  As a result, news on some cable channels became more of an ongoing editorial with less objective reporting of events.  Fox News, although claiming to be fair and balanced, was the most extreme among the cable news outlets about editorializing events.  At the time Fox had the most overall viewers among cable news channels.  Since 2013 the right-leaning Fox has shifted farther right with even more frequent wildly exaggerated, unsubstantiated claims couched as news.  Over the same period, CNN has moved more left.  While I’m certain Fox News watchers would disagree, MSNBC seems to have carved out a middle, if somewhat left-leaning, position, with more objective reporting.

(As a sidebar, I find intriguing the education level of “top-of-the-heap” talking heads of the various media outlets.  The kings of the hard right, Hannady and Limbaugh, do not have college degrees.  Limbaugh attended college for one year; Hannady attended three colleges over three years.  Rachael Maddow, MSNBC, has an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and doctorate from Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.  Chris Hayes, MSNBC, has an undergraduate degree from Brown University and had three (3) fellowships, including one at Harvard.  Exactly what this means, I don’t know but seems worth exploring more.)           

Math ClassAs noted in Entry #1 of this blog, the idea of a 5th revolution in the US was based on math.  Looking back at US history, there seemed to be a revolution about every 50 years.  #1 was the “American Revolution.”  While the American Revolution started in 1776, the revolution did not end until the War of 1812.  #2 revolution was the Civil War, which began in 1861.  #3 revolution was about 1910-1915 with a major societal upheaval associated with rapid industrialization and mass migration – both domestic migration north to factories and the influx of immigrants. #4 revolution was the cultural revolution of the late 1960’s, early 1970’s.  So, given this pattern, I added 50 years to 1970 and, voila, time for another revolution around 2020.

What was not apparent to me five years ago was the catalyst for the revolution.  When Obama was president, many whites were frustrated and angry.  However, the president himself was calm…so calm at times he was called “No drama Obama.”

trump-scowlThe unexpected catalyst for the 5th revolution, at least what seems to be so far, was the unexpected and unlikely 2016 Republican presidential nominee – Donald Trump.  Trump ran a very unconventional campaign, capitalizing on what seems to be his major strength – being a highly effective bully.  But a bully not in the tradition of the presidency, which is often referred to as having a “bully pulpit,” but a bully that one might have experienced in say grammar school or middle school.

ScreamDuring the campaign for the Republican nomination Trump was relentless in taunting fellow Republican candidates.  After earning the nomination, he was relentless in taunting the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.  While in “normal times” one would expect such school-yard tactics to result in a resounding defeat,” Trump won the Electoral College vote even though losing the popular vote by more than three (3) million votes.

As president, Trump has continued to taunt, whether members of his cabinet, members of Congress (including Republicans) and even such allies as Canada, England, Germany and Japan.   The taunting, combined with his apparent disdain for any type of preparedness for any meeting or issue, seems to have great appeal to a hard-core base of white, less educated, lower-income voters.  Trump supporters also include a group of middle-income, mostly white voters, especially Christian conservatives.  While Trump maintains a very high approval rating among Republicans, my belief is the hard-core base is the most likely to start the 5th revolution, the Revenge Revolution.

RevoltWhy expect the hard-core right to revolt?  Aren’t they Trump’s biggest supporters?  Yes, but the hard right will be the most negatively affected by Trump’s policies.  Believe what you will but the coal industry is never coming back.  Use of other fossil fuels is going to drop sharply.  Two of Trump’s favorite industries – steel and aluminum – are highly automated and don’t need many more workers to increase output.

An example of the effect of automation is an industry I know well, the automotive industry.  Compared to when I joined General Motors many years ago, labor content per car/truck has dropped like a rock.  If you want to see the effect of automation, look beyond final assembly, which admittedly has far fewer workers.  Look at labor content in the areas of machining, welding and painting.  All high-paid skilled workers replaced by machines.  The machines don’t take breaks, don’t go on vacation and don’t require health benefits.  Plus the quality using these machines is better.

TractorThe other group likely to revolt is farmers, who also were big Trump supporters.  Exports have become a huge money-maker for family and corporate farms.  Retaliatory tariffs on farm products by China and other nations will decrease demand for soybeans, corn and wheat.  The US produces far more foodstuff than it can possibly consume.  A decrease in farm production translates into a decrease in farm income.

Yes, the hard-core right will be the hardest hit.  But they’re so loyal to Trump…they’re almost fanatical in their support.  Surely they won’t abandon him…will they?  There’s an old saying that might seem sexist but really applies to both genders, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

SurpriseOne day in the next five years or so, the hard-core Trumpsters will wake up and realize not only are the promised jobs not coming back but Trump and Congressional Republicans are on a determined path to cut Social Security and Medicare.  Why?  Because the Federal deficit is too high.  Why is the deficit too high?  Because the Trump tax cuts benefitted the rich and the promised “trickle-down” effect never occurred.  Raising taxes on the rich is out of the question, of course, so these “entitlement” programs must be cut.

The idea that tax cuts for the rich somehow stimulate demand the benefits trickle down to the poor has never been demonstrated.  There is no credible empirical evidence supporting the contention.  George H.W. Bush was correct in calling the trickle-down voodoo-2015958theory “voodoo economics.”  Trump’s tax cuts were pure voodoo economics.

So when the hard-core Trumpsters finally awaken and realize they’ve been had by Trump and elected Republicans, what do they do?  They revolt.  How do they revolt?

Exaggerating the truth has a way of coming back to haunt you.  For the last 3-4 decades, Republicans and the NRA have been touting a clearly distorted interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, especially the right to own an assault rifle or high-caliber weapon used only in the military.  In addition, the hyperbole about a “deep state” has encouraged many on the hard-core right to buy additional firearms and stock additional ammunition.  And what’s the consequence?

SoldierAs noted in the early entries to this blog, the scorned (hard right Trumpsters) begin to exact revenge on the more affluent.  How widespread is such an armed revolt?  Hard to predict.  But what I do know is there are not enough police and not enough military personnel to stop geographically dispersed guerilla raids on single homes and/or neighborhoods, especially if invaders are armed with AR15’s and the like.

Well, now you have the update about the premise of the blog — is a 5th revolution in the US likely?  Not a pretty picture but, unfortunately, a 5th US revolution seems more likely every day that Trump is in office.  Further, the disruption caused by Trump will take years to repair.  Even if Trump were removed from office tomorrow, the country might not avoid the revolution.  And, oh by the way Mrs. Lincoln, make sure to enjoy the play.

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#299 Making America Great Again #9: Enforce Fair-Play Rules

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC. Conversation began Entry #289.

Jordan:  “OK, break’s over.  Any more thoughts on having Leviticus as the standard for behavior inside the Beltway?”

092615_2031_Characters1.jpgJC:  “Look, I like the idea of ‘treat thy neighbor as thyself’ as the standard for behavior.  But let’s not be naïve.  What do we do about those people who don’t follow the rules?”

Greenie:  “You mean like Trump and his gang?”

JC:  “Exactly.  Trump’s behavior pointed a flaw in the Constitution – the assumption that members of the Legislative and Executive branches would behave reasonably civilly.   And, with a few exceptions, that assumption proved correct for 200+ years.”

092615_2031_Characters12.gifGreenie:  “Until Trump.  Then he and his gang basically gave the finger to everyone.  He even trashed people in his cabinet who supported him from the get go.  Some display of appreciation and loyalty, huh?”

Jordan:  “So what can be done to stop Trump-like behavior in the future?  What do we recommend to the post-Revenge-Revolution Congress…assuming some of them are willing to listen.”

JC:  “Listen or not, we’ve still got to try.  Greenie, any ideas on how to enforce more civilized behavior?”

010414_1635_16TeachingS2.jpgGreenie:  “A start would be to reinstate the 60-vote rule in the Senate for approving appointments, whether for the agencies or the courts.  A 60-vote rule would force the White House to offer nominees toward the middle politically…not the extremes.”

JC:  “Good start.  We’d eliminate some bomb throwers from the courts and the agencies – like Trump’s Pruitt at EPA and Mulvaney as Budget Director and head of Consumer Protection.  Behavior of both was way out of line.  I mean, Pruitt and his quest for a used mattress from a Trump hotel.  That sounds almost kinky.”

JudgeJordan:  “On the Judicial side, even with the 60-vote rule, what about limiting tenure of Senate-approved judges?  Right now these judges have lifetime appointments.”

Greenie:  “Maybe there could be an appointment period – say 20 years – and then some way to renew the appointment.”

JC:  “I don’t have any idea what the average tenure of a Federal judge is but being on the bench without a review for 20 years seems more than fair.”

Greenie:  “Maybe add a clause about a renewal option.   Whadda say in the military when you agree to extend your time?”

TurtleneckJordan:  “Re-upping.”

Greenie:  “That’s it, re-upping.  Maybe the default is the judges re-up automatically unless reviewed and denied by the Senate.  But make the re-up period for 10 years, not 20 years.  Think about it – 30 years on the bench is a long time.”

JC:  “Would you apply the 30-year limit to all time spent on the Federal bench or a specific court?”

Jordan:  “The only judges that I think are approved by the Senate are for the Appellate, Circuit and Supreme Courts.”

supreme_court_buildingGreenie:  “I don’t know if the limit should be at the court level or in total.  For now, let’s assume the limit applies to a specific level.  Otherwise someone might get to SCOTUS with only 6-7 years left out of the 30-year limit.  That doesn’t seem fair.”

Jordan:  “What about rules for enforcing behavior in the agencies and in Congress, especially the Congressional committees.”

JC:  “Such as the Judicial Oversight Committee in the House?  During the Trump Administration, good ol’ boy Chairman Nunes took classified information from the Mueller investigation to the White House?  Some oversight, huh?  Tried to give the keys to the henhouse to the fox.”

PoliceGreenie:  “OK, Jordan, any ideas how to stop such behavior?  And what about all the obvious ethics violations by Trump, the Trump family and some cabinet officials?  How do we stop that going forward?”

Jordan:  “We need to be realistic.  Whatever the rule, someone is going to try and get around it.”

JC:  “You going to answer Greenie’s question or mumble like some politician?”

Jordan:  “I’m trying to buy time while I think of a good response.”

Greenie:  “What about this idea as a start?  The office of Ethics…or whatever it’s officially called…used to have some power and was respected by the Executive and Legislative branches…at least until Trump.  Why not give the office more teeth?”

Sharks TeethJC:  “More teeth and more transparency.  I realize there’s some information cannot be disclosed.  But, and this should be a big but…no comments, please about personal appearance…the baseline should be to make the public as aware as possible of the shenanigans and unethical behavior by people inside the government, especially members of Congress and high-ranking agency personnel.  The disclosures might force some people to stop.”

Greenie:  “For those who don’t stop, then give the Ethics Office the right to take them to court for a public trial.  No plea bargaining, no consent decree, no sealed documents or other copout.  Make the record public.”

Jordan:  “Court instead of impeachment?”

Judge with GavelGreenie:  “Make it in addition to impeachment.  Some of the behavior will be illegal.  Why shouldn’t that behavior get punished like the rest of us are subject to?”

Jordan:  “Theoretically the behavior is subject to punishment.”

Greenie:  “Two words you just stated are the problem – ‘theoretically’ and ‘subject.’  Too often the SOB’s in Congress or the Executive Branch who blatantly screw the public are given a slap on the wrist at worst, then sent home with most of their pilfered goodies.”

JC:  “You’re getting tough, Greenie.”

Greenie:  “We need to get tough on these bums.  Otherwise the Revenge Revolution will have been for naught…and I don’t like naught.”

JC:  “Agreed.  Now, ought naught we should take a break?”

 

#298: Making America Great Again, #8: Leviticus to the Rescue

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC. Conversation began Entry #289.

092615_2031_Characters2.jpgGreenie:  “I agree the president and cabinet need to pass the same end-of-year test given to 8th graders.  Let me add another, ‘Duh, are you serious?’ idea.”

JC:  “Ice cream is mandatory at cabinet meetings?”

Greenie:  “Only if the ice cream is from the Custard Cup.”

Jordan:  “That I could go for.  Two scoops of lemon custard topped off with a scoop of cold fudge and some peanuts.  Seriously, what’s the idea?”

Greenie:  “Since lots of people, especially hard-right Republicans, want to link religion and government more closely, why not use a key part of Leviticus as another component that could help make America great again?”

092615_2031_Characters1.jpgJC:  “You mean the idea of treating your neighbor the same way you want to be treated?”

Greenie:  “Yes.  Many moons ago in undergrad days, I took a course titled something like comparative religion.   What we learned was a core principle of almost every religion is to treat others as you want to be treated.”

Jordan:  “I agree but the idea seems so basic.”

JC:  “So basic and so ignored.  Think back to the Trump Administration policy of separating children of parents who were seeking asylum at the southern border.”

SessionsGreenie:  “I don’t know if Sessions had kids or grandkids but do you think he’d want his kids or grandkids separated from their parents?”

JC:  “As cold-hearted and seemingly cruel as Trump acted, do you think he would want his kids separated?”

Jordan:  “Trump aside, because I’m not sure he had empathy for anyone but himself, the policy of separating kids…and many other policies…likely would never have happened if Greenie’s idea of having some form of ‘treat thy neighbor as thyself’ as a check mark for assessing proposed policies and legislation.”

Greenie:  “Obviously, I like the idea but how would you implement the check-mark policy?”

WhyJC:  “Maybe there would a cabinet officer or some high-ranking staffer whose job it is to go around and ask ‘Would you want this whatever-idea-is-being-discussed to happen to your family?’  The person could be titled the ‘sanity-check maven.’”

Jordan:  “This idea of treating each other fairly seems so much like kindergarten.”

Greenie:  “Well, it is like kindergarten.  I know we’ve talked about these kinds of basic ideas before but some people seem to go brain-dead when they start working inside the Beltway.”

fife-drum%201JC:  “Let’s hope going brain-dead is past tense.  We have a new opportunity to begin rebuilding American values post Revenge Revolution.  Even if it is kindergarten like, using ‘treat thy neighbor’ as a check mark for policies and legislation seems like a good way to keep things from getting too out of control again.”

Greenie:  “Jordan, you’ve had a lot of experience with Congress and the White House, do you think we can make this idea work?”

Jordan:  “Why not?  It’s simple, easy to understand and can work for everyone – whether someone is super religious or an atheist.  Really, who wants to be treated like crap?  Selling the idea to the public will likely be the key.”

Trump KingGreenie:  “You mean like when public pressure force king Trump to stop separating children from families at the border?”

Jordan:  “Great example.  We need to work on how to phrase and position the idea but I think we have a winner.”

JC:  “I agree the idea seems simple and should get widespread support.  Just so we make sure we’re not off in the weeds, may we take a break, please, and think about the idea for a few minutes?”

 

 

#297 Making America Great Again #7: Presidential Candidates Must Pass 8th-Grade EOY Exams

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC.  Conversation began Entry #289.

092615_2031_Characters2.jpgGreenie:  “When we were talking about using the rules of golf as a guide to personal and professional behavior, I was reminded how little Trump followed the rules of golf…and then asked myself, ‘Did he really know the rules?’…and, ‘What else didn’t he know?'”

JC:  “Know about what?  He played a lot of golf so he must have known some rules.  You have something else in mind?”

Greenie:  “Yes.  Did Trump even know what most any 8th grader knows.”

092615_2031_Characters1.jpgJC:  “Don’t make me laugh?  Not know what an 8th grader know?  Still not sure what you’re talking about.”

Greenie:  “Remember when Trump held that so-called ‘Patriotic Ceremony” after the Super-Bowl champs Philadelphia Eagles refused to go to the White House?”

JC:  “Oh, you mean the ceremony when the Marine Corps Band played ‘God Bless America’ and it was clear to the world that Trump did not know the words?”

Greenie:  “Some patriot, huh?  Bone-spur and all.”

Canadian FlagJC:  “Now I think I see where you’re headed.  What about Trump implying…or at least asking…if Canada burned down the White House in 1812?  No that was the British.  Gee, Donald, in case you didn’t know Canada has been a long-time friendly neighbor.  Canada is north of the continental US, except for one area near Detroit, and a major trading partner until you tried to ruin the relationship.”

Greenie:  “How long was the list of stuff he didn’t know that virtually every 8th-grader would know?”

JC:  “Like the Department of Justice is supposed to enforce the laws made by Congress and not be the personal defense attorney for the president’s wrong doing?”

TurtleneckJordan:  “So, Greenie, exactly what are you proposing?”

Greenie:  “I’m embarrassed the idea sounds so…well, so imbecilic.  But an idea for Making America Great Again is to make sure the presidential candidates…no, make that all candidates for Federal office and all Cabinet nominees…can pass the end-of-year exams given to 8th graders.”

JC:  “Exams given to 8th graders?  That sounds absurd…but a good idea.  How do we test for stuff like knowing the words to ‘God Bless America’?”

Student ExamGreenie:  “I don’t know how we’d test for some things but by forcing candidates for Federal office and Cabinet nominees to take 8th-grade end-of-year exams, you can assume that those who pass at least paid some attention to teachers along the way.  And anyone who failed…”

JC:  “…Such as the Donald, who very likely would have failed?”

Greenie:  “Yes, like the Donald and some of his merry band of munchkins, would be ineligible to run or hold office.”

Jordan:  “You really think we should propose something so basic – passing an 8th-grade exam?”

JC:  “I’m with Greenie.  Before Trump became president, anyone who made such a proposal would have been sent off to the funny farm.  But now the idea seems reasonable.”

Jordan:  “How do we frame the idea so it does not seem so, as you said Greenie, imbecilic?”

dunce capsGreenie:  “Why not be straightforward?  No reason to sugarcoat.  I think we give some examples of basic information that Trump and the Cabinet members did not know.  There are lots of examples where it looked as if they hadn’t graduated from 8th grade and/or should have been wearing dunce caps.  It was embarrassing for the country.”

Jordan:  “Now that we’ve had the Revenge Revolution, is putting forth passing the 8th-grade exam idea opening old wounds with the Trumpsters?  I know most of the Trumpsters lost and we have many new members of Congress but the idea seems a bit petty.”

Greenie:  “I hear you and point well taken.  I also know, as a country, we can’t ignore the lessons of history.  The idea of passing a test given to 8th graders might get ignored.  However, I think we should at least put the idea on the table and generate some discussion.”

JC:  “What about testing candidates for Federal office, at least presidential candidates, for mental stability and maybe a test for early stage Alzheimer’s?  Throw in Cabinet members as well.”

Jordan:  “That idea will be more controversial and more complicated to get implemented.  Might be worth discussing more…but let’s take a break first.”

(Continued)       

 

#296 Making America Great Again #6: Live by the Rules of Golf

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC.  Conversation began Entry #289.

092615_2031_Characters1.jpg

Jordan:  “Now, if its ok with you guys, I have another idea for making America great again.”

JC:  “Greenie, are you ready for Jordan’s lightning bolt?”

Greenie:  “OK, Jordan, what’s the idea?”

Jordan:  “We, societal we, would be well served by aligning our behavior with the rules of golf.”

092615_2031_Characters2.jpgGreenie:  “Since neither JC nor I play golf, we have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Jordan:  “Golf has a set of rules that one is expected to follow.  But the difference between golf and other sports is there is no referee to monitor behavior or enforce the rules.”

JC:  “So, if I understand correctly, the individual golfer is supposed to say ‘I broke a particular rule and therefore the penalty is whatever.’ That seems weird.”

GolferGreenie:  “Are you serious?  The individual golfer is supposed to penalize herself or himself for some rules infraction?  I agree, that does seem weird.”

Jordan:  “It might seem weird at first but among people who take golf halfway seriously, there is an incredible amount of self-induced pressure to follow the rules.”

JC:  “So, even if there is no other golfer who can see the rules infraction, you feel pressure to call a penalty on yourself…or whatever you call it.”

Jordan:  “What might seem even stranger is when you’re playing alone, you still don’t break the rules.”

Greenie:  “That behavior is really interesting.”

Jordan:  “In addition to the rules that result in some kind of penalty, there’s rules of etiquette one is supposed to follow.  Some examples, who tees of first, always repair the ball mark on the green, replace the divots, rake the sand trap, leave your bag next to and not on green, don’t drive your golf cart near the green…and a bunch of others.”

Trump Driving on GreenJC:  “I guess I never appreciated all the hullabaloo about Trump, when he was president, driving his cart on the putting green at Mar-a-Lago and that place in New Jersey he used to play.”

Jordan:  “Bedminster.”

JC:  “That’s the place.”

Greenie:  “I hate to sound so naïve but is driving a golf cart on the green so bad?  It’s got those fat tires and they use some type of lawnmower to cut the green.  Is driving the golf cart on the green really that bad?”

TurtleneckJordan:  “As far as hurting or killing the grass on the green, you’re right.  Driving on the green one time is no big deal.  But, in terms of golf etiquette, I can’t think of anything more egregious. In the rules of golf etiquette, you’re not supposed to walk on the green in an area where someone else is going to putt…aka, the putting line.”

Greenie:  “You’re not supposed to walk on…what did you call it…someone’s putting line.  Not walk on it even if the other guy is your opponent?”

Jordan:  “Not even an opponent.  Walking on the line might affect the roll of the ball.”

JC:  “Wow.  If walking’s on the guy’s putting line is bad, what about driving over it?  By driving on the green Trump ignored a whole slew of rules of etiquette.   Maybe worse, he effectively told everyone else in the golf group and every member at Mar-a-Lago and Bedminster, ‘Screw you.  I’m the king and I set my own rules.’”

Greenie:  “Do golfers really follow the rules?  This all sounds so hypothetical.  How can you tell?”

FlagstickJordan:  “I’ve tested this theory over many rounds.  If you are playing golf with someone you don’t know, by the 4th hole you will have a very good idea of their personality and their ethics.”

JC:  “C’mon.  That sounds preposterous.  How can you tell?”

Jordan:  “Golf is a game where everyone makes lots of errors, even the pros.  By the 4th hole, at least one error will have been made or a situation will have occurred where golf etiquette will come into play.  How the person reacts almost always mirrors their personality and moral character.”

MistakeGreenie:  “Your theory is, if the person readily admits a mistake, or takes the penalty or apologies for breaking some etiquette rule, then that’s a reflection of their true personality.  Same if they don’t acknowledge the mistake, right?”

Jordan:  “Yes.  Have seen it happen time and time again.  The other part you learn about the person is whether they are courteous and helpful to an opponent.  For example, if your opponent hits the ball in the woods and you are reasonably close by, do you help look for the opponent’s ball?”

JC:  “What you’re describing sounds like common courtesy.  Be polite, try to help others and follow some basic rules.  Stuff you learned by second grade.”

Learned in KindergarfenGreenie:  “What was the title of that book?  ‘All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.’”

Jordan:  “That’s about it.  The right type of behavior its stuff we all should have learned as kids.  Somehow many adults seem to have forgotten those lessons or chosen to ignore them.”

JC:  “Maybe the idea of framing post-Revenge Revolution behavior around the rules of golf might work for people.  We also need to make sure whoever’s president is briefed on those rules.  She or he needs to set the example for the country.  Fore!”

(Continued)      

 

#295 Make America Great Again #5: Increase Gas Tax to Fund Infrastructure

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC.  Conversation began Entry #289.

092615_2031_Characters1.jpgJC:  “Alright, now I have an idea for how to make America great again.”

Greenie:  “Could we use another slogan, please?  Making America great again is so Trumpish.”

Jordan:  “I agree the slogan is Trumpish.  However, the ideas we’re discussing, unlike the Donald’s ideas, will make America great again.  At least for now, let’s keep the slogan and try to discuss practical solutions, OK?”

JC:  “Agreed.  The conversation is still among us chickens so using the slogan is ‘no harm, no foul’ so to speak.”

092615_2031_Characters2.jpgGreenie:  “I shouldn’t even smile at that one…but it was pretty good.  Now, JC, stop the puns and tell us your idea.”

JC:  “Simple – increase the gas tax and use the funds to rebuild infrastructure.”

Greenie:  “But we don’t need to destroy more land for a bunch of new roads.”

JC:  “Who said we’re talking only more new roads?”

Jordan:  “Then, if not new roads, what’s your plan?”

albert-einsteinJC:  “Two prongs.  (i) Reconfigure existing roads into smarter roads.  Smarter roads can carry more traffic with a lot less congestion; (ii) rebuild and expand the rail system to handle more passenger trains and freight traffic.”

Greenie:  “I like the idea of better trains but that seems so…well, old fashion.”

Jordan:  “JC, you might be on to something.  Smart highways and smart trains.”

JC:  “Jordan, you’re an experienced commuter in a number of cities.  Which do you prefer, commuting by car or rail?”

metro-north1Jordan:  “Commuting by rail in metro areas is easier, more pleasant, less expensive and faster.  Plus, you can work on the train.”

Greenie:  “What about longer trips – say Washington to Manhattan or even to Boston?  Take the train, plane or drive?”

Jordan:  “Drive, no, unless absolutely necessary.  To NY, train for sure.  By the time you travel to the airport, go through security, wait at the gate, then taxi for takeoff…and probably wait so more, you’re more than halfway to NY.  Then the same wasted time at the destination getting out of the airport, then travelling to the city.  Plus, with a plane and especially driving you end losing lots of productive time.”

JC:  “What about DC to Boston?  That’s about twice as far as NY.”

Jordan:  “That’s where an increase in the gas tax could have the most impact in getting people off the highways and/or out of planes.  Some of the gas tax money could go toward a high-speed rail line.”

Greenie:  “Is high-speed rail practical in the Northeast.  I mean, there are so many curves and old bridges.  Lots of buildings are almost right up against the tracks.  Rebuilding would cause a major tear-up.”

BarriersJordan:  “High-speed rail needs to be defined given the barriers that exist.  High-speed in the Northeast corridor is not going to be like a bullet-train in Japan.  Making that happen would be outrageously expensive and disruptive.”

JC:  “Well, then could high-speed rail in the Northeast average say 100 mph?”

Jordan:  “100 mph average seems like a decent target.  If the trains average 50 mph now, then duh, a 100 mpg average speed would cut travel time in half.  So an 8-hour trip from Boston to DC would be more like 4 hours.”

JC:  “What if we took the major metro areas – DC, NY, Boston, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas…and some others – and drew a 200-mile radius around them?  What percent of the population would be covered?”

Pie ChartJordan:  “Don’t know exactly but I’ll bet you’re pushing 85-90%.”

Greenie:  “You really think the existing railbed could be used?  I realize some improvements would be required but how do we avoid just tearing up more land?”

Jordan:  “With some creative thinking and some application of technology, I’ll bet speed could be doubled without much tear-up of new land.”

bullying-20clipart-bullyingJC:  “This sounds great but what about resolving the conflict between freight and passenger traffic?  The little that I know about rail, the freight railroads seem to keep resisting any efforts to add passenger traffic to certain rail lines…in fact, most rail lines.”

Greenie:  “I agree.  Each side seems to want their own dedicated rail lines.  How does that conflict get solved?”

Jordan:  “The solution is in the approach.  In metro areas many of the freight and passenger tracks are likely to be the same.  In less densely populated areas, would be possible to have more dedicated tracks.”

JC:  “I keep coming back to the question, ‘Do we really need two sets of tracks?’  That seems like old-school thinking.  What about smart trains and smart tracks?”

Greenie:  “Surely, smart trains are easier to manage that smart cars or smart trucks.  The trains just can’t wander off the tracks.”

TurtleneckJordan:  “Other than difference in speed between freight trains and passenger trains, I don’t know of a technical reason the two can’t share the tracks.”

JC:  “While we’re at it, why do freight trains have to be so long?  They seem to go on forever…and are so slow.  With all the self-driving technology for cars and trucks, why can’t there be faster, shorter freight trains?”

Greenie:  “Seems like a no-brainer to me.  What’s the real barrier to making these ideas a reality?  Jordan, any thoughts?”

Jordan:  “The discussion about resistance from railroads reminds me of an article we had to read in graduate school.”

JC:  “You can remember that far back?  Just kidding.”

Thumbs DownJordan:  “The article was in the Harvard Business Review and written by Theodore Levitt.  The title was ‘Marketing Myopia.’ An example of the myopia was the railroads viewing themselves as being in railroad business and turning thumbs down to considering being in the transportation business.  As a result, the railroads lost a huge share of the logistics business to the trucking industry.”

Greenie:  “OK, nice observation from ancient history.  But how does that solve the problem we’re talking about?”

Jordan:  “If we think back to some of the other ideas to make America great again, the barrier to accepting the idea was…”

JC:  “…commitment, right?”

Greenie:  “Commitment and support from the Feds, especially Congress.  If that’s the barrier for smarter railroads and faster trains, then what the barriers to improving highways without tearing up new land?”

(Continued)

#294: Making America Great Again #4, Ban Charter Schools…and Busing.

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC.  Conversation began Entry #289.

092615_2031_Characters2.jpgGreenie:  “Before the break, I said I thought at first Jordan’s idea of reinstating conscription was stupid.  Then I came around and supported it.”

JC:  “And…?

Greenie:  “Well, here’s an idea that you guys might think falls in the category of stupid.  I think we should ban charter schools.”

092615_2031_Characters1.jpgJC:  “What’s your logic?  Something wrong with charter schools?”

Jordan:  “Supporters claim charter schools are more effective than public schools at educating students.  So what’s wrong with their argument?”

Greenie:  “My view is charter schools are band-aides, not solutions.  Charter schools are an excuse to divert money from public schools to the private sector.  Or even worse, charter schools are part of a plan toward eliminating public schools altogether.  But charter schools don’t solve any real problems.”

BandAidJC:  “Not that I disagree with you but why do you think charter schools are a band-aide?”

Greenie:  “Because charter schools address symptoms and not causes.  Let’s not be naïve, a certain percentage of public schools have real problems.  And those problems need to be fixed.”

Jordan:  “You’re saying that charter schools don’t fix the problems.  Why not?  Aren’t students better off moving from public schools to charter schools?”

Greenie:  “Some students, probably, but not all.  What about the kids who don’t go to charter schools and remain in public schools?   Many are worse off than before the other kids left…plus there’s less funding for the public schools because taxpayers must fund the charter schools.”

Bag of MoneyJC:  “We need to get more specific about the issues.  Besides we know that merely throwing money at schools does not necessarily make schools better.”

Greenie:  “You want specifics?  Start with quality of teachers.  I know we all grew up in a different era – some probably liken it to the Stone Age by today’s standards.  But think about the quality of teachers we had from first grade through high school…and especially high school.”

Diagramed SentenceJC:  “I agree that many were top-notch, especially those teaching math and English.  To think we were so motivated we used to diagram sentences for fun!”

Jordan:  “Why do you think the teachers were so good?”

Greenie:  “Party because women had fewer career opportunities than today.”

JC:  “True, but we had some great male teachers as well.”

Black School TeacherJordan:  “What about teacher pay?”

Greenie:  “Much better proportionately than pay today but still less money than the private sector.”

JC:  “What about respect?  In an earlier era, teachers seemed to be respected by almost everyone…including politicians.”

Jordan:  “Good point.    I really get frustrated with some politicians in North Carolina.  Republicans have let teacher pay lag behind the rate of inflation.  What’s even worse, when teachers marched on Raleigh recently for higher pay and more support for students, a long-term, high-profile Republican called them thugs.”

JC:  “Nice, huh?  Calling your teachers thugs.  What an a-hole.”

Greenie:  “See why I said charter schools were a band-aide?   Charter schools do nothing to address some of the fundamental problems of public education.”

WhyJordan:  “OK, I’ll be the bad guy.  Why do we need free public education?  What percent of the public thinks education should be privately provided and not publicly provided…forget who pays for it?”

JC:  “That kind of question makes my head hurt.  Jordan, you know as well as I that what made this country great was not a bunch of open land, not a bunch of resources…not even a great constitution.  None of those mattered unless you had one thing…”

122813_2140_15Education4.jpgGreenie:  “…an educated populous.  And how did the US populous become educated?  Not just an education for the elite but an education for everyone, including immigrants, many of whom arrived here illiterate. They were educated through a free public education.”

Jordan:  “So your premise is until the country sets a goal of free, quality public education for everyone…and then begins to make that happen again…we’ll not make real progress toward making America great again.  Right?”

Greenie:  “You got it.  Allowing charter schools avoids forcing society toward restoring free, quality public education for all.”

School Bus NoJC:  “While we’re throwing out ideas about education, what about banning busing?  Busing seems like a waste of time and money.”

Greenie:  “Busing is a waste.  I agree the goal should be to eliminate almost all busing.”

Jordan:  “Ok, what’s the first step in making this plan work?”

Greenie:  “Simple.  Commitment.  If people commit to free, quality, public education for all, then the problem is more than half solved.  With such a commitment, all the other issues can start to be addressed rationally.”

JC:  “What about support from politicians?”

fife-drum%201Greenie:  “Tell me how a politician is going to campaign against free, quality public education for all?  That type campaign, especially in this post-Revenge Revolution environment would be suicide.”

Jordan:  “Greenie, I really like your idea.  Simple and easy to understand.”

JC:  “You got my vote too.  And now I’m the one who needs a break.”

(Continued)

#293 Conscription for All? Well, Yes, for All Those Younger. Some Guidelines.

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC.  Conversation began Entry #289.

Gr092615_2031_Characters2.jpgeenie:  “Ready for another idea how to really make America great again?”

JC:  “Yep.  We could beat to death the idea of federally funded elections.  Why don’t we tackle something less controversial?”

Greenie:  “You mean like Jordan’s suggestion to bring back conscription?”

JC:  “Why not?  The alt-right crowd insists that only those who salute the flag, serve in the military and own guns are patriotic.  I’m sure the alt-right will support conscription.”

Greenie:  “Reinstating conscription should be a slam dunk.  I learned that term watching the Final Four.  Anyway, think of all the hard-liners who’ve had stellar military careers.”

092615_2031_Characters1.jpgJordan:  “You mean like Trump, Limbaugh, Hannady, and the former right-wing truthsayer, Bill O’Reilly.”

JC:  “What a list of potential endorsers for conscription…except I don’t think any of them served in the military.”

Greenie:  “Hold on.  Trump went to military school.  If you don’t think that was tougher than being in the real military, just ask the Donald…whatever.”

Jordan:  “What’s as bad as their military experience is their education.  O’Reilly is the only one with any kind of education.  Limbaugh and Hannady aren’t even qualified to blow stuff out their you know what.”

GreFartenie:  “Jordan, pulleeeze.  Be a bit more diplomatic, will you?”

Jordan:  “Well, Limbaugh dropped out after one year at some Missouri teacher’s college and Hannady bounced around three different schools and never did graduate.”

JC:  “Alright, lets remove tongue from cheek and get serious.  What are the benefits of conscription?”

Jordan:  “First, let’s be clear.  Conscription would allow either military service or non-military service with Federal agencies approved by the Selective Service.”

Greenie:  “Just so I understand, you including women?”

JC:  “Why not?  If combat military service is not required, then why not include women?”

TurtleneckJordan:  “For now, we’ll include both men and women.”

Greenie:  “How long do you have to serve?”

Jordan:  “Two years…and then some sort of standby reserve in case there’s a crisis.  But the reserve wouldn’t require any weekend training or anything like that.”

Greenie:  “Eligibility at what age?”

Age 18Jordan:  “Eligible at 18 but must begin service by say age 26.  A person could get a deferment to attend trade school or college but would need to start by age 26.”

JC:  “What if a woman got married and had a kid…or just had a kid?  Would she still have to serve?”

Greenie:  “Now, I’ll ask, ‘Why not?’  She could always service in a non-military capacity.  Just giving some people an easy way out doesn’t seem fair.”

JC:  “Then what kind of jobs would qualify outside the military?”

US Map Lower 48Jordan:  “Federal agencies that have operations in most parts of the country.  Agencies that serve people locally or work with the states to service people locally.”

Greenie:  “You mean such as EPA, part of Interior, Education, HUD?”

Jordan:  “All those agencies work.”

JC:  “What about FEMA?”

Jordan:  “FEMA’s a good add.”

Greenie:  “Think how much more effective FEMA could be with a staff highly trained to help manage disaster relief.”

EPA LogoJordan:  “Same with EPA.  There are lots of areas where an ‘EPA corps’ as it were, could help gather data or fix an issue before it becomes difficult and costly to solve.  Just like that old commercial, ‘pay me now or pay me later.’  But later is almost always much more expensive.”

Greenie:  “Are all the jobs we’re talking about outdoorsy kind of jobs?”

Jordan:  “Not at all.  The military has lots of jobs for non-combat personnel…and many are like office jobs.”

WhiningJC:  “I can hear it now.  Some people are going to claim what we’re proposing will be taking away jobs from others.  Or worse yet, conscription will interrupt little Johnnie’s or little Susie’s career that mommy and daddy paid so much to prepare them for.  How are we going to counter that argument?”

Jordan:  “Give mommy and daddy the Bronx cheer.  Really, there’s a number key benefits that stem from conscription.  Most obvious is helping fix some of the country’s problems that kept getting put off by politics.  #2 benefit, being forced to live in a disciplined environment, at least during the ‘basic training’ period; #3, being forced to learn to work with a team.  I’m always amazed at how many young adults have never really been forced to work in a team.  Even if they end up in a non-military job, everyone who goes through some type of basic training will have a much better understanding of the value of teamwork…and an inkling of how the military works. #4 benefit…”

Number ListJC:  “…Let me try.  #4, forced diversity.  Exposure to a wide range of people and backgrounds never hurt anyone.  Maybe we, that is societal we, could become a bit more civil if we understood others’ perspectives.  Brilliant statement, huh?”

Greenie:  “We know what you meant.  This idea of conscription is starting to seem obvious but I know better.  What about exemptions from serving?  You know, exemptions for some serious medical condition…like bone spurs.  I mean is everyone going to be forced to serve or will the loopholes be large enough to drive a truck through?”

Jordan:  “Clearly, some people will be unable to serve.  But the program should start with the assumption that everyone serves and then carve out as few exemptions as possible.”

Uncle SamJC:  “You know, the time might be right to reinstitute conscription.  Since the Revenge Revolution people seem more willing to explore old and new ways of trying to solve problems.”

Greenie:  “I admit, when you first mentioned conscription, I thought, ‘that’s really a stupid idea.’  But, as I said, I’m starting to come around.  Good idea, Jordan.”

Jordan:  “Glad you think so.  The idea of conscription, like the idea of federally funded elections, seems to have a foundation that’s sound and can contribute to really making America great again.  But each idea needs a lot more work on the details.  And, now, please excuse me.  I need a break.”

(Continued)

#292 Federally Funded Elections. Benefits and Framework to Start

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC.  Conversation began Entry #289.

092615_2031_Characters2.jpgGreenie:  “Jordan, that’s quite a list of ideas about how to make America great again.  We’ve got to call this project something else but let’s not spend time on that now.  Which item on the list seems like a good place to start?”

JC:  “To me the idea of Federally funded elections seems feasible.  Don’t a bunch of other countries…maybe most other countries…fund elections?  So why can’t the US?”

Jordan:  “Alright, let’s think about what has to happen to make Federal funding a reality.”

Greenie:  “For sure Congress needs to pass some type of law, then appropriate the funds.”

092615_2031_Characters1.jpgJC:  “I’m no legal scholar…and no comments please…but it does seem as if there aren’t any real legal barriers.  Political barriers, yes, but not legal barriers.”

Greenie:  “What about the Citizens United case?  Does a law authorizing Federally funded elections trump the Supreme Court’s decision on Citizens United?”

Jordan:  “Any law mandating only Federal funding for Federal elections likely will be challenged in court and then head back to SCOTUS.  However, there doesn’t seem to be any glaring reason why a Federal funding law wouldn’t be upheld…thereby overriding the Citizens United ruling.  I just don’t see how such a law would affect 1st Amendment rights.  But like you, JC, I’m no Constitutional law scholar.”

House of RepsJC:  “Let’s say there’s no major legal issue.  Then how should Federal funds be allocated to the candidates?”

Greenie:  “There’s already a formula for allocation.  Maybe neither the most logical nor the most fair but one that’s clearly defined – the Electoral College.”

Jordan:  “Seems like a good place to start.  Assume that Congress allocated $10/person for federal elections.  The current US population is what 330 to 340 million?  Call it 340 million, so that means $3.4 billion is available to help fund federal elections.”

Greenie:  “Is that for presidential elections or off-year elections too?  Seems as if off-year elections should have a different number.”

JC:  “What about Senate races?  Senators are elected every six years, House members every two years.”

TurtleneckJordan:  “Good points.  Try this.  Presidential elections get the full $10/head funding.  Off-year elections get $5/head allocated.”

Greenie:  “So in a presidential election, the presidential candidates would get $1.7 billion and the House and Senate candidates would split $1.7 billion, right?”

Jordan:  “For the Congressional seats, I think we need to give candidates for the Senate more money that candidates for the House.  Other than a few low-population states, Senators have to cover a lot more territory than House members.  What if we gave the Senatorial candidates 2x the House candidates?”

Math ClassJC:  “Let me try the math.  If I remember Ester’s Algebra class, that would be 200X+435X=$1,700,000,000.  Using my hand-dandy phone, x equals almost $2.7 million.  So Senate races get about $5.4 million and House races about $2.7 million.”

Greenie:  “The numbers for Senate races seem low.  Maybe Senators should get 3x.”

JC:  “Did we decide if the amount of money was for each race or each legitimate candidate?”

Greenie:  “While we’re at it, what about funding primaries?  What about 3rd-party candidates?”

Jordan:  “We didn’t decide.  Assume the $10/head is for each candidate in the general election.  So the cost is now $20/head…plus the primaries.”

Greenie:  “I know I recommended using the Electoral College but there might be an easier approach.  Candidates for the House get say $5/head for everyone in their district.  Senators would get $5/head for everyone in the state.  Presidential candidates would get $5/head for everyone in the US.”

JC:  “What about the primaries?”

Greenie:  “Give each candidate ½ the amount of the general election — $2.50/head per candidate.  Whatever the general election number is, cut it in half for the primaries.”

SignatureJC:  “3rd-party candidates?”

Greenie:  “If the candidate can get signatures for x% of the registered voters…it has to be a reasonable percentage…then the 3rd-party candidate is entitled to the same funds.”

JC:  “Isn’t this idea getting awfully expensive?  We might be pushing $10 billion, maybe more.”

Federal BudgetGreenie:  “Now, JC, I mean really.  What’s a few billion in a trillion-dollar Federal budget – a rounding error?  I agree the approach seems expensive until you begin to add up all the hidden costs with today’s approach to funding elections…and all the backroom deals connected to the funding.”

Jordan:  “Point well taken, Greenie.  Part of the selling job for this idea will be to have a credible 3rd-party estimate the current cost of elections, including all the dark money.”

JC:  “Cost aside…and I agree even though it seems like a lot of money, the amount is really a rounding error…what I like about the approach is forcing candidates to be more judicious with their spending.”

occupations_lawyerGreenie:  “Because funds will be limited, the approach will likely also force candidates to get out on the campaign trail and meet the voters.  Maybe we’ll get fewer negative ad blitzes and more time on the campaign trail.”

JC:  “You think this approach will eliminate lobbyists?”

Jordan:  “Probably not.  I don’t have a problem with lobbyists per se.  Some are actually very helpful.  What seems to set people off is how certain Congressman force lobbyists into a pay-to-play game.”

gangster-cartoon-clip-art-540pxGreenie:  “Oh, you mean like South Carolina’s Mick Mulvaney?  What chutzpah.  He bragged to a group of bankers that before he became part of the Trump Administration, he only talked to lobbyists who paid him.  Wonder if he stopped the practice when he became director of OMB and consumer protection bureau for Trump?  Pardon me — that seems like a rhetorical question.”

JC:  “I think the Revenge Revolution forced out most of the Mulvaney-like extortionists.  A new approach to funding Federal elections should keep too many new ones from popping up…at least for a while.”

Jordan:  “Alright, we seem to have the framework for Federal funding of Federal elections.  Obviously the plan needs a lot more refining, but the idea seems feasible.”

Greenie:  “Agreed.  And if you both agree, I need a break.”

(Continued)   

 

#291 Quit Whining, Already. How Do We Turn Around This Ship?

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC.  Conversation began Entry #289.

JC:  “I agree that Paul Ryan could have set an example of leadership for generations to come.  But, what did he do?”

bully-clip-artGreenie:  “He retired from the House.  I guess you call it retired if not seeking in November 2018 qualifies as retiring.”

JC:  “Whatever you want to call it, he bailed out.  Seems like Ryan ran away from the bully Trump.  Not what you call a good example for future generations, and not what you call a good ending to your political career.”

Jordan:  “Enough of Ryan and McConnell.  I’ve got an idea.”

Greenie:  “You’ve got an idea?  JC, did you hear that?  Jordan has an idea.”

Jordan:  “Why do I hang out with you guys?  Such abuse.”

092615_2031_Characters1.jpgJC:  “C’mon, you love it.  Now what’s the idea?”

Jordan:  “Looking in the rearview mirror­­­­ and analyzing the past with a critical eye is important, but as we’ve talked about before, it’s hard to drive very fast by always looking in the rearview mirror.”

JC:  “Tell that to some of the cable news talking heads.  A lot of them can’t stop driving fast and looking backwards at the same time.”

092615_2031_Characters2.jpgGreenie:  “Let’s keep in mind the past does provide some guidance to the future.  You do agree with that, don’t you, Jordan?”

Jordan:  “Very much so.  And that’s the foundation for the idea.  I think we should provide to the post-Revenge Revolution members of Congress a list of suggestions.”

JC:  “What kind of suggestions?”

Jordan:  “For lack of a better phrase, because I hate to say it, credible suggestions for really how to make America great again.”

Greenie:  “I agree with the idea, but please, we need a different slogan.  I mean, we don’t need to reincarnate the Donald.”

JC:  “You guys serious?  What makes us qualified to suggest anything to Congress?  Granted none of us is the dullest crayon in the box but what gives us special insight?”

TurtleneckJordan:  “For one, Greenie’s articles about the Revenge Revolution.  We might have more understanding about the causes of the Revenge Revolution than anyone in Congress, especially incoming members or staffers.”

Greenie:  “I vote, yes, let’s make a list of suggestions.  If nothing else making the list will be cathartic…and will make us seem smarter at parties.”

Jordan:  “JC, you, in?”

JC:  “OK.  How do you want to start?”

Greenie:  “Why not have a brainstorming session?  You know, just blurt out ideas and write them down.  We can sort the list later.”

Number List(Following is the list from the brainstorming session about how to really make America great again.  Over the coming blog entries, a number of these ideas will be discussed in more detail.)

  1. True leadership starts at the top.
  2. Congress needs to work as a unit and with independence from the Executive Branch. Not everyone in Congress will agree, nor should they agree, on every issue but Congress must function separately from the Executive Branch.
  3. Relationship building is critical. Presidents and administrations that reach out, listen and act for the good of the people are far more effective.
  4. Re-establish the independence of the judicial system. The White House and Congress need to respect the system, the law and quit trying to influence cases.
  5. Public’s confidence and other countries’ confidence in the White House will take several administrations to rebuild – probably 15-20 years.
  6. Adults with demonstrated skills should be selected as cabinet members.
  7. Time devoted in teaching civics needs to increase in grammar, middle and high schools.
  8. Conscription should be reinstituted. An alternative to military service would be a civilian corps.
  9. Widespread infrastructure programs need to be initiated – think WPA approach.
  10. Increase research and development sponsored by Federal government, with particular emphasis on pure research.
  11. Reinstitute environmental and financial regulations…judiciously. Companies and industries have proved repeatedly an in ability to manage themselves.
  12. Increase tax rates across all quintiles with the highest rate increases on upper incomes. Use part of revenue to fund infrastructure and part to help offset the negative long-term effects of Trump tax cut.
  13. Make all elections for Federal office publicly funded with no private contributions. allowed.

Jordan:  “OK, let’s take a break.  When we get back, we can clarify the wording of some of the ideas, maybe add a few others.  We also can start digging a little deeper on these ideas.”

(Continued)