My Life is Words
Words and ideas turn on the lights in the brain
Everyone has their own definition for a democracy. Some want unfettered freedom and others want a security blanket. The fact is that we have both. We have more freedoms than many countries in the world and we have social security blankets but not as many as other democracies in the western world.
Over the next fourteen or so months, we are going to hear wild accusations, the gnashing of teeth, and see the wringing of hands as the various candidates for president and their supporters and paid mudslingers work to attract or distract the voters regarding their man or woman. Along with all of that, the blunderbuss currently holding the office will engage in rage-tweets and run-on sentences...make that strings of words that make little to no sense as he attempts to enhance the orange glow of his ridiculousness.
There will be shouts of socialism (maybe even the term commie a time or two), fascism, racism, nationalism, nepotism, cronyism, and as the great orange stink-tank cranks up, round after round of name-calling and childish put-downs, like what we’ve grown accustomed to over the last several years.
But as a voter, all we need to do is decide whether we’re progressive, conservative, hard-right-or-left, or independent (whatever that means). To assist in making that decision, it seems to me we need to fly over our government at about 50,000 feet and develop a macro-vision of what kind of nation we want to be. The awful details that turn that vision into reality will be the job of those we elect based on their vision of government. If they can’t get it right, we kick their butts out and try again.
To explain the next visual aid below (I’m a visual guy), I need to explain where this brain-fart came from. One of my assignments (I was sort of Shanghaied into the job) was as part of a team that was trying to standardize processes around the Boeing Company. I think it might have been easier to train a hive of killer bees to dance the Mexican hat dance than get folks to standardize, but that was my assignment. The basic problem with standardization is that no one wants to do that. We are a bunch of innovative, creative, and to a large extent rebellious human beings.
Using the Boeing example to make the point, you hire a highly degreed engineer to design the next generation of space fighters because he or she is on the leading edge of knowledge, technology, and a seer when it comes to flight engineering. You sit them down, give them all the company manuals and say something like, “Go to work, but do everything according to the standards - the way it’s always been done.” After they stop crying, they are likely to hand you their resignation.
Unlike the cow chewing its cud in the field for hours on end, we humans are not like that. We want variety, change (as long as it was our idea), and the liberty to do pretty damn much anything we want. We do not like marching in formation.
Something was said in one of those discussions at Boeing by my manager, who will remain nameless because he was, hands down, the worst manager in the roughly 60 years I worked in and around aerospace. He was Trump-like before most of us had ever heard of Trump.
Our task was to standardize those critical processes inside the company to ensure a continuity of results as well as to reduce the overall cost of doing business. My boss’ statement referred to a “level” of standardization that helped achieve that consistency of purpose and cost reduction. He called that line the “critical mass” line. The idea was that the processes above that line needed to be standardized for the benefit of the employees, the customer, and the company (the Big3).
Very briefly, in the context of a company the size of Boeing, you certainly want the payroll to be “standard” across the company. You can’t have every organization deciding what day they want to call payday, and each using their own financial institution to issue paychecks, etc. It would be chaos and costly to operate that way.
So we drew a pyramid to demonstrate the idea. The line or base of the top section of the pyramid was the “critical mass” line. Above this would go those processes that had to be common and standard across the company. Things like payroll, accounting, company identification badges, etcetera.
In the section below that top level was where we still wanted a degree of standardization, but we also wanted to allow organizations the flexibility to be innovative and creative while functioning in a way that was most efficient for them. There might be “company guidelines” to help them establish processes, but they would still innovate. And, where possible, we wanted them to cooperate with other organizations to utilize the best ideas and practices and to standardize where it made sense, again for the benefit of the Big3.
And at the bottom level was where the most flexibility existed. Individuals had quite a few choices. If they like a particular type of pen, or computer mouse, or office chairs for back issues, they could make those changes, they were free to flex on many issues. There were flexible shifts where possible. I won’t list everything here, but hopefully you see what I’m talking about.
Running a country is very much like running a big company, at least in terms of organization and where to utilize top-down federal control, where to allow states and localities the freedom to innovate, and where to let the people have maximum freedom without upsetting the balance of a functioning society. Here then, is that notional pyramid applied to government.
The ‘A’ level is dominated by the federal government. A few of the functions that would seem to best be managed at the federal level for the benefit of all are shown on the left. In some cases, these may be hard-dictates and in some cases the rules may allow some wiggle room (democracy) as long as the top-most goals at a federal level are being met.
Some might call this progressive, others socialism, or who knows what, but I think few people would argue that the military and FAA and similar functions should not be left to the whim of state, county, and city politicians or turned over to for-profit enterprises. It is more a matter of common sense. Our safety and security as a nation demand these be administered at the federal level. At the bottom of this top section, you see the red CM line indicating that critical processes belong above that line. I’ve made that top section blue because it is an important value to most progressives that we do the right thing for and by all the people.
Level ‘B’ allows more democracy for states and localities to tailor processes to their needs. There may be some federal guidelines to assist in setting up these processes, but for the most part, it comes under the heading of state and local government rights.
Level ‘C’ is what I have labeled as “libertarian”. This is where, like the the company employee choosing their computer mouse, individuals make their decisions based on what is right for them. Things like where to work, where to live, what religion if any they want to follow, who to choose for a family doctor, whether or not to vote and who to vote for, where to buy groceries and gas - it’s a long list of personal rights.
This, I hope, is an easier way to look at the big picture of government. Naturally, there will be arguments about where the lines dividing A, B, & C should go and which processes and rights belong in which section. But, again, that is one of the tasks of our elected representatives.
I believe that if you approach it with the goal of identifying those critical processes, then the ones for the states and local governments, and finally the individual, we would find that we probably agree on about 80% and we would have to arm wrestle over the other 20%.
Now, all you have to do is pick a candidate. 😁
AFI - Not to be confused with the Arc-Fault Circuit Breaker
We’ve all seen the old man sitting in the restaurant with food dribbling down the front of his shirt as he slops up some pasta or soup. He seems oblivious to what is happening. Or, another old man on a chilly day sitting there with a wet drop of snot hanging off the end of his nose and again, seemingly unaware it’s there. Fear not, they (we) know what’s happening, we are merely applying the principle of AFI , also known as “Aw, Fuck It!”
This is a phase of aging that happens with varying degrees of intensity and at different ages; it’s a personal thing. It can come on in your 60s or hang back until your 70s or later. But it will happen. There will come a point where you look at something that’s out of place, or you know you just dropped catsup from a hotdog on the front of your shirt. You don’t have to look down, you know what happened. For a brief moment, you think about grabbing a napkin, dipping it in some water and cleaning yourself up, but then you say . . . Aw Fuck It!
You been around the block a few times. You've seen just about all there is to see in life and you know that you are treading on the thin ice of old age. All one has to do is spend time looking at the obituaries to realize you are walking through a mine field that could take you out at any time, so AFI; what the hell is anyone going to do to you?
It’s a rather liberating feeling when you get to that point. There is no young woman (in my case) that is going to be attracted to you unless your wealth is greater than your wrinkles; they all see their grandfather in your kindly old wrinkled face. You don’t have any job interviews to go to or anyone you’re trying to impress with your appearance. You are free to run (metaphor) through the rest of your life naked if you want. You really don’t much give a fuck.
All those pestering little things that used to bug the shit out of you when youn were young? They don’t matter any more. The concerns that kept you awake at night and sending you off to work with four-hours of sleep have evaporated into thin air. You see the fuzz growing out of your ears and nose and think ‘I should trim that’ but then AFI kicks in - there’s always tomorrow, maybe, and if not, who cares if I look like a Chia Pe when they slide me into the oven?
I imagine that women experience something similar except society has brainwashed them into believing they can’t leave the house without ‘putting on their face’ and donning something fashionable. That, and because they are wired to look after children and husbands, they are a little more particular about the details of life, but I think they get there eventually. I've seen some clown-like women in both dress and makeup in my life. We men just get their sooner, sometimes much, much sooner.
So, just know that as you glide down the path of life that you will almost certainly realize one day that most of your cares have dissolved into the ether and what matters is enjoying the moment, hopefully not your last one, and when confronted with a problem you’ll be overwhelmed with a feeling of AFI. So let the food fall, let the house become a little messy, fart if you need to and vacuum the car tomorrow.
I guess it is clear to most who have read my ramblings that I am an avowed Atheist. Some people assume that as an Atheist, you don't believe in anything. In my case, that is the furthest thing from the truth. I believe in a whole lot of shit; it's just that it doesn't include God and may not align comfortably with what Pope Frankie believes, and I have a ton of respect for the guy.
This from www.myjewishlearning.com
I think and write and talk and then do it all over again.