“If you keep doing what you’re doing, You’ll keep getting what you’re getting.”

Okay. You look at some Scandals, like Flint Michigan, or other things and we run into a serious problem.

For my example, I am going to use the Ford Motor Company Pinto disaster of the 1970s

http://auto.howstuffworks.com/1971-1980-ford-pinto12.htm

The punchline of the scandal was that it became clear early on that Ford Pintos had a design flaw in early models that made the fuel tank likely to rupture in a rear-end collision. Ford knew about this, but elected not to enact a fix for this because they estimated that fixing the problem would cost them $137 million while paying off lawsuits would cost them $37 million.

Stuff like this happens all the time.

Here is my premise.

Humans are tribal. We tend to identify with members of our tribe first and outsiders second.

So when the officials of Ford Motor Company were exposed to the facts of the Pinto problem, they had a complete failure of empathy for the people who’d be hurt.

I think they identified more with the abstract entity of Ford Motor Company, than they did with the injured people and survivors of people who died because of the Pinto problem.

Similarly official with the Flint Michigan Government identified more with their Abstract entity, acting to protect it from embarrassment rather than empathizing with children and other people injured by lead in the water.

So – what is this about us, that we’d put Ford Motor Company or the Flint City Government ahead of real, no shit human beings?

I think it’s a matter of misplaced empathy. I think these people subconsciously relate to the Ford Motor Company or the Government of Flint, as though these entities are people,  as if these entities are people with much higher social status in their group.

I don’t think the form of a corporation is to blame. I don’t think the form of a city government is to blame, in this case.

I think what we’re seeing is a case where human emotional and social reactions honed by millions of years of evolution is a poor fit for relating to problems between Ford Motor Company and other people.

Note, that the people who made this decision at Ford worked at Ford every day. They went to Ford and did Ford things with Ford people for Ford reasons.

They knew someone was going to be injured, but they didn’t know who. They didn’t know this person, they had no interaction. So for the Ford Executives, Ford as an entity was much more present, real and an active part of their lives, while possible accident victims were more abstract and notional.

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I have been hearing about a book called “Thinking, Fast and Slow”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow

I am digging into it, slowly.

I think that the people who make decisions like the ones I am looking at above are reacting, subconsciously to their Organization like a person. They’ve unwittingly engaged their sympathy and empathy with their group, and withdrawn it from other people who are being actually harmed.

I think that if people were properly educated, they could overcome this system 1 rooted loyalty to their group with a better, but slower system 2 loyalty to a system of ethics that outlawed abstract groups hurting real human beings.

But it seems like no one was aware of this effect and no one knew how it could have such negative consequences.

We’re seeing a lot of this. From Flint, MI to the US Federal Government

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/06/obamas-whistleblowers-stuxnet-leaks-drones

to the Pentagon

http://fortune.com/2016/03/10/the-f-35-is-still-a-mess/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_injury

The V.A.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veterans_Health_Administration_scandal_of_2014
And the Dakota Access Pipeline

What to Know About the Dakota Access Pipeline Protests

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It’s clear that people in organizations all over the world, need the tools (Identifying system 1 and system 2 thinking) and the awareness (To be aware of misplaced empathy and disregarding people who really SHOULD receive empathy) to be able to more effectively choose to do the right thing.

We see time and again, in scandals, usually the breaking of the scandal is an ugly surprise. For many people involved in such a scandal, That’s a scandal at all is a surprise. Then they quickly begin to cover up the bad decisions that have resulted in a serious problem.

Obviously, these people have had a point in time, somewhat earlier – where they came upon a decision to be made. Many seem not to have recognized the gravity of the decision facing them.

When encountering such a decision, these people were unarmed. They did not have the tools, or the awareness to understand that, yes, if you chose to hurt human beings, it DOES suck. The decision came and caught them unaware and defeated their ethical code before there was much of a fight.

We need to arm people against these bad decisions.

And, if people elect to place the well-being of an abstract entity over the well being of human beings – there needs to be a lot of transparency and strong feedback.

But also note. How often do people in a government or a corporation start keeping secrets? How often to they take actions to keep facts, choices, events and actions out of sight of people outside the organization?

Human tribalism is interacting with these large organizations in an extremely negative way.

I’d like to see this addressed. I like to see us try and move away from this tribal impulse, even if it means making a sustained and conscious effort not to do this sort of thing.

Where I hang out, sometimes, they have a saying. “If you keep doing what you’re doing, You’ll keep getting what you’re getting.”

I think that slogan is a great summation of politics at the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017.

We keep doing the same things and getting the same things as a result.

Michelle Obama

Look. I think Presidents and the whole context of Presidents are a bad idea. I have disagreed with almost everything Obama has done – and even the things he did that I thought were better than average, always have that asterisk next to them.
But only a fool would overlook how much Obama MEANT to some people. Only an idiot would overlook where we really are in history.
Almost from Jan 21 2008, I could not disagree with anything Obama did without being called a racist for it, Despite my loud hostility to GWB, who was, by any sane measure, a much worse president.
But when people say racist shit about Barack Obama or his Wife, Michelle, I want to feed them that stupid shit back down their throats sideways.
The fact of the matter is that compared with the administrations of GWB, Bill Clinton and George Herbert Walker Bush
Michelle Obama and the Obama family have been remarkably quiet, graceful and free of public dumbassery.

If you accept the premise of presidents, first ladies and first families, which I do not, but if you accept that premise, then Michelle Obama and the Obama daughters have done it well.

Their lack of drama and the fact that their occasional human derp fests never made much of a splash has been soothing and relaxing.

Women used to say: “You have to do twice as much to be considered half as good.”  I suspect a similar sentiment has been expressed among Black Americans.

Michelle Obama, as first lady did that.   And it’s a mark of how well she carried off being first lady that optimists and lunatics, about noon on nov 9th 2016, floated her name as a possible presidential pick in 2020.

Laura Bush was perfectly acceptable, but always seemed a little overwhelmed. Barbara and Jenna Bush always seemed to struggle with celebrity, a bit.

Hillary was, well Hillary. Chelsea was at an awkward time in her life and believe me, Assholes fed that back to her in box car lots.

The Elder Barbara Bush’s memory has always been tarnished for me by her idiotically foolish utterances during Hurricane Katrina.  Back in those days (1989 to 1993) There was no internet, so word of GHWB’s sons being all over and tied up somewhere in business and politics all over the the GOPs range never really got out.  In this day and age, I think GHWB would be seen as a nepotism festival, a sort of nepotism-palooza, or nepotism-themed Woodstock.

The elder Barbara Bush always seemed very hoity toity to me. Like no one talked about America’s class system, but she knew it and knew she was above YOU on it.

-*-

 

So the point of this rant, the stream of first lady consciousness is – Fuck the people who compared Michelle Obama to a gorilla. Fuck the people who claim she’s a transgender.

If they have the energy to open their mouths and let shit like that out, they had the energy to try to make the world a better place, and elected not to.

There’s a hidden undertone, too, of shaming trans-people. like photoshopping a bulge on Michelle Obama’s dress is not only meant to shame her, but all Trans people.

Again, energy wasted being mean and vile and not making anything any better for anyone.

owe-that-tree-an-apology

Who wins a civil war?

Who wins a civil war? The divides in America are very clear. There’s Rural America, and there’s Urban America.

If you look back at history, one thing is pretty plain. Wars suck. Civil wars suck real hard. Modernity is fragile. It goes away quickly under fire.
History shows us that Thomas Jefferson doesn’t usually win a rebellion or civil war. Tom Paine doesn’t do well, most of the time. John Adams doesn’t get much sway.

History shows us that Robespierre wins the conflict. Ho Chi Mihn. Castro. Joe Stalin. Mao. If there’s a war, often psychopaths and violent lunatics come to the top. And, it seems like human nature. When there’s a violent lunatic, in a war, everyone once in a blue moon, he starts surrounding himself with sycophants, yes-men, mooks, and flunkies.

And if that group is successful, well, say good-bye to any principles or ethics. Psychos like that love to pretend that every vile, evil thing they do is legal and justifiable.

Now.

If there’s a rural vs urban WAR in the US, let me tell you. It’s going to be made of shit, and awful and stands a very good chance of handing everything over to some mass murdering psychopath.

Don’t just take my word for it. Look at every rebellion, revolution and civil war in the last 120 years, and then try to map that onto the United States.

If there is an Urban vs Rural war in the United States, it will be not fun. And we stand a very good chance… you and I, me – Jay and you the person reading this. We stand a chance of not being alive by the end of it. Almost certainly the US will be a third world shit hole after this war and staying there forever.

This is why I say do not unseat Trump. If you tell rural America that their voices don’t count, that they have no place in the political system, then you’re breaking the social contract that says politics is preferable to violence.

Trump is an idiot and can do a lot of damage. But I doubt he can destroy the idea of the United States. I doubt he can destroy the very idea that you can drive across your town and only have to pay traffic fines and taxes to your local government, and not bribes to whatever gang/militia can set up a checkpoint along your path.

Unseating Trump could lead to chaos, mayhem, destruction and mass suffering.

I’d rather take my chances with Trump than try to survive the second civil war.

Apparently, a lot of Urban Americans are not really clear on the intricate, delicate and fragile network that keeps American cities alive.

I don’t want to be there when this lesson gets taught by hard, cold experience. I *like* living inside. I like light, heat, water, sewage, and the internet. It’s 5 degrees (f) in Spokane, as I write this. I don’t want to have to try and tough this shit out on the street while starving dirty and wading through shit.

Our ancestors did this. They worked hard to set it up so we don’t have to.

The answer is, usually power mad psychopaths win a civil war.  But really, we all stand to lose.  And lose big.

Do not unseat Trump

Okay. I am speaking in a real politik mode, here. I don’t like this sort of thinking,but we don’t live in a world where people are taught “What’s the principle, here?”

So. I am going to lead off with something sort of ugly that people don’t like to hear. Voting is a proxy for a civil war. Instead of fighting and the side that wins battles, wins campaigns and takes territory, we just sort of short cut to the side with more voters.

Representative democracy is where factions that might otherwise be sides in a civil war cooperate to divide spoils and share power.

Humans generally prefer this sort of thing because it’s a lot more orderly, less violent, less destructive and brings less suffering than really fighting. Once we’ve reduced a civil war to voting, and everyone agrees – then a political process takes over and we can go about our daily business and build our normal lives.

You see civil wars in cases where a faction doesn’t see the advantage to participating in voting and the political process, or where a faction or group is excluded from the political process. You see this in Africa a lot. Someone claws their way into the presidency and then doesn’t share shit. That leaves his rivals with the choice of fighting, or being excluded entirely.

You also see it in cases where a faction can’t score a total win in the political process and their leadership doesn’t feel like compromising or sharing.

A lot of third world countries have problems putting together the “Social Contract” to allow a political process to substitute for and displace actual war for the spoils and power.

So.

Recently the U.S. elected Donald J, Trump as president. I think this has been a horrible mistake. I though George W. Bush was a mistake. I though re-electing GWB was complicity in war crimes.

I think voting for Obama was an understandable mistake, but a mistake none the less.

But, if some parliamentary slight-of-hand is used to undo the election, and prevent Trump from taking his turn, then what has been said there?

60 million people voted for Orange Leader. 60 million people said “That Guy”

If this is undone, what you’ve said to these people is that they are not invited to the political process – their votes and desires don’t count.

If they can’t get something from the political process, what’s their fall-back? How CAN they get what they want?

Using parliamentary fuckery to undo the election would be a disaster. A worse one than letting The First Cheeto fuck shit up.

If you look at the election map county by county, the divide is plain. This was a Rural versus Urban election.

I really hope that this divide does NOT continue to expand this way. It doesn’t go to good places.

Some people have pointed out a structural flaw in our system. The election is one-size-fits-all, winner take all.

Other democracies use a proportional representational system, where each political side gets a number of parliamentary seats commensurate with the number of votes they get. This means there is rarely a clear winner, and this can be undone. Political factions have to cooperate to form a government, which must reward the factions cooperating to make it.

Also, other democracies are smaller, and so aren’t trying to make a compromise that fits 300 million people from all these diverse backgrounds, priorities and needs.

As long as things stay centralized in Washington DC, and as long as the elections are so solidly winner takes all, this Rural v Urban divide will get worse.

If we take it as a given that government is a good thing (I don’t) then our current form needs to be remodeled to fit current needs. We have patterns that have been “working” better for quite a while.

If you asked me to remodel the US, I’d replace all state governments with proportional representative parliaments, and then put them all into a federated system. 50 reasonably sized countries flying mostly in formation. That wouldn’t really address the Urban v Rural conflict, but Urban parties would have to compromise with Rural parties or never get enough of a majority to get things done.

Okay, each state gets a bicameral legislature, a popularly elected side, and county-by-county side.

Anyway, this is all blah-di-blah.

Humans like our social order. We like stable, orderly worlds to live in.

Breaking that sucks. For everyone. Ask Syria. Ask Libya. Ask Iraq.

For most folks, a bad order is preferable to chaos and violence.

Right now, we still have some semblance of order, we still have the ghost of law and civilization hanging around.

But Rural America needs to be included. No matter how bad an idea I think Trump is, I think telling his voters that their votes don’t count is far, far worse. Because where do they go from there?

I suspect that Trump is ill-suited for the Job. I wonder if he might quit, at a certain point, leaving us with President Pence. But that’s all survivable. Breaking things badly enough to cause a war – America does not know suck like that’ll bring.

Really. Let’s not go there.