(Readers: Please note this blog is constructed as a story about the 5th revolution in the United States. While not all chapters are linked, I think the story will be more meaningful by starting at the beginning. Read one or two segments each day and you will catch up quickly.)

Scene: JC and Jordan after discussing some other issues. Jordan’s Office.

JC: “OK Jordan, we agreed to wrap up for today on discussing education. You wanted to talk about something else. I’m ready…if you pour me a glass of wine.”

Jordan: “I hope you like a hearty cabernet from Sonoma County. That’s all I have on hand.”

Jordan: “I’m your kind of woman. Pour me a glass, please. Now let’s talk.”

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Jordan: “OK, here’s the question. #1, ‘Does money distort people’s thinking?”

JC: “Duh, Jordan. That’s the question? You know it distorts people’s thinking. Now ask me the real question.”

Jordan: “How do we use the revolution to bring people back to a more balanced set of values? More in the center.”

JC: “Now that’s more like it. You talking center of what? Politics? Values? Helping others? What’s important in life? Respect for others? Education?”

Jordan: “Yes to all.”

JC: “Jordan that is a tall order. Where are you headed with that question? This sounds like a couple of glasses of wine.”

Jordan: “The revolution came about in large part because the middle class in this country was decimated. Most people talk about income when referring to the middle class. I want to expand and talk about a value set.”

JC: “You asked me if money distorts values. I say ‘yes.’ Are you saying that other values are distorted with money?”

Jordan: “Not for everyone.  For a whole group of people, however, the more money they have, the more self centered they seem to become. Again, not everyone but a large group.”

JC: “Is money the cause or the effect?”

Jordan: “I’m no psychoanalyst…”

JC: “No, just a psycho. That was such an easy set up, Jordan.”

Jordan: “C’mon, JC. It seems when wealth started to be more concentrated, the more society shifted away from middle class or center values.”

JC: “A shift like that occurred in the 1920’s and look what followed — the Great Depression. But also think what happened to societal values.  The Depression and WWII were great equalizers. Nearly everyone suffered, no matter how much money they had. As a result, the country moved back to the center.”

Jordan: “And notice what happened economically after WWII. All classes gained, many people got a great public education, we as a society started making progress cleaning up the environment.  What else?  Politicians actually worked together to get things done.”

ReaganJC: “As I look back, all of what you just described seemed to start coming apart during the Reagan Administration.”

Jordan: “A lot of Republicans would disagree with your conclusion.  But if you look at data for income distribution and attitudes, there is a lot of empirical evidence to support your observation. But the question is, ‘Was Reagan a major cause of the change or were people just ready for Reagan and tired of sharing with others?'”

JC: “Whether sharing is the right term or some other term is appropriate, I don’t know. What I do know is when people and organizations focus only on self is when we start to have problems. Reagan claimed over and over and over again that government was the problem, not the solution. But, hey Mr. President Reagan, who is the government? People are the government. So for Reagan, those people were the problem.”

Jordan: “We need to avoid such divisiveness once the revolution calms down.”

JC: “I’ll tell you a good first start is to change the tax laws. Many people who have joined the revolution are frustrated because some people got way too greedy, and then got even greedier. The greedy could not get enough money. I’m not a socialist but the tax laws seem to reward white-collar thievery, especially on Wall Street.”

Jordan: “The focus on money, money, money tears apart countries, organizations and families for generations. One that hit home to me recently was our temple. We expanded a few years ago much to the chagrin of many congregants.”

JC: “So what’s the problem, already?”

Jordan: “The problem already is threefold. #1, the capital campaign fell short because one of the alleged big dogs moved and did not fulfill the pledge. #2, operating costs increased dramatically. #3, membership is flat to down and the expansion was to be funded with new members.”

JC: “Didn’t anyone think about what might happen if?”

Jordan: “Yes, and those of us who raised questions were ignored. Because of my manufacturing background, I kept hammering on what would likely happen to operating costs with two times the floor space. My concern was costs would at least double and likely increase even more. But those comments fell on deaf ears. I was not part of the old boy big-donor network.

JC: “What’s going on now?”

Jordan: “The temple seems to have lost its soul for lack of a better term. The expanded building has some nice features but most members I talk to think the interior feels cold and impersonal. And most of the time the conversations from staff and some clergy are about money, money, money and not people, religion or ideas.”

JC: “What about the head rabbi?”

Jordan: “Promoting all kinds of causes outside the temple.  Seems to me the rabbi seems focused on building a reputation in order to get a higher position in the Reform movement or some position in politics.

JC:  “And what about the congregants?”

Jordan:  “The congregants are left holding the bag…and many are very frustrated. Congregants have given the rabbi a nickname — robot rebbe.  Not very nice but seems appropriate.”

JC: “What’s the solution?”

Jordan: “Like many people and organizations that need to change, most ignore advice. Change only occurs when they hit rock bottom. My guess is the temple will need to face closing…or even close…before any real change is accepted.”

JC: “What about a change in clergy?”

Jordan: “Changing out robot rebbe – err, rabbi – would be a good start. And then changing some staff.”

JC: “The problem seems similar to what this country faces. But are you certain the temple will fail before changing?”

Jordan: “I’m not 100% certain but my track record on these type predictions is very good. Not sure why it is so good but it is.”

JC: “I’m not sure what else to say. Sounds as if the temple is likely to keep on the same path until one day it realizes no more money, no more congregants and then no more temple…or there is a revolution started by the congregants.”

Jordan: “A revolution might be the only solution.  Most people…and I am in the same boat sometimes…seem to have a very hard time either understanding consequences of behavior or acknowledging that behavior has consequences.

JC: “For most people, it is probably some of both. Jordan, we are not going to solve this problem today…and I need to go. And Sir Ralph needs to go, too.”

Jordan: “OK, JC, just bail out on me. I know you have to go. Thanks for the time. And you, too, Ralph. I do want to continue this conversation? Talking to you is a great help.”

JC: “Glad I can help, Jordan. C’mon Ralph. Let’s go.”

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