Sunday, December 21, 2008

American Values

I wrote this little essay over four years ago and decided that I would post it here. If you have some thoughts on these issues please post.


Humans have the power of reflection and projection among other intellectual attributes that separate us from the rest of the animal world. We also have the ability to analyze information in the context of history and probable outcomes. Twentieth century American culture placed a tremendous emphasis on education, invention and experimentation. Yet, the rise of conservatism, which seems to have reached a pinnacle in the United States as evidenced by the last Presidential election, is a political ideology that is ironically contrary to the very culture that produced the greatest changes and accomplishments of the previous century. Rigid policies based on conservatism and the status-quo, that seek to regain a real or imagined lifestyle of a time that is past, not only oppose the incontrovertible drive for human progress but they are beliefs that are deeply rooted in fallacy. America’s greatness has sprung from enormous vision, sacrifice and courage of the immigrants that came before us to explore and expand our culture, science, religious perspectives, and our notions of humanity.

Attempts to control and predict outcomes are a route well traveled by many people and societies. For example, the expansion and contraction of a capitalistic economy is a regular occurrence that is studied and predicted by economists. Religious expansion and retraction is also evidenced and studied throughout modern history in many societies including our own. These events also seem inextricably connected to war. War as an economic event (e.g. Halliburton) is self-evident. Possession of territory, resources and control of governments has always been an underlying if not overt goal in the ascension and marketing of war. Fear is the critical component needed to bring the masses of any society to support war. Religious fervor has been a historically powerful and convenient tool to achieve these means. Nazi Germany reveals most of the lessons that one needs to know to identify the process.

History lessons alone however, cannot counter the current media-based methodologies utilized to paralyze a nation into a state of collective fear, depression and limited consciousness. Media has been an ingredient in the political process since printing was effectively engaged to solicit response from citizenry. Contemporary media accessibility and limited diversity in ownership have combined to create an enormously powerful tool of social influence and control. It is my belief that the greatest challenges to American Democracy at this time, rest in demanding unbiased reporting and information dissemination from media outlets and in re-establishing the fundamental separation of Church and State as guaranteed in the United States Constitution.

Life evolves in a forward direction and despite the enormous collective fear in our society; it is futile to live nostalgically looking backward in time. Challenging, changing and creating are traditional American values. Dictionary sources reveal that the term conservative means traditional, opposing change and liberal means progress oriented and broad-minded. Neither one is in essence a pejorative term, nor a moral mandate.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Need I tell you?

The multitude of sordid stories of corruption and casino gambling seem to only be rivaled by corrupt politicians in our society. But, then again, most of the multitude of sordid stories include the casino operators in cahoots with an unscrupulous politician or vice-versa (emphasis on vice).

Today's revelations in the Herald mirror the stories of corruption with associates of Mohegan Sun in Wisconsin (Dennis Troha et al).

"The former head of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe was charged today with making illegal campaign contributions to members of Congress, embezzling funds from his tribe, filing false tax returns and fraudulently receiving Social Security disability benefits all in connection to efforts to win official U.S. recognition of tribal status."

Our anti-casino friend Dan Kennedy writes on his blog, "All this at a moment when the casino industry is falling apart — making it unlikely, Matt Viser reports in the Boston Globe, that Gov. Deval Patrick will revive his three-casino proposal any time soon.

Given the charges against Marshall, it looks like everything is up in the air — not just the proposed Middleborough casino, but whether the Mashpee are even a legal tribe with the right to build such a monstrosity."

Are the Mashpee even a legal tribe? Hmmm.

The next Legislative session begins in January 2009. We will have an outstanding opportunity to see which legislators continue to support the egregious plans to bring casinos to the Commonwealth and which have learned that the glitter ain't gold. I am hoping that the Administration has had it's "come to (deity of choice) moment" and rejects
the slippery slope of casinos.

We have some hard work to do in the months and years ahead to restore our nation's standing in the world. We have some hard work to do in the months and years ahead to support ourselves, our families, community and our region. As my neighbor Stella Gallant used to say when we were kids (I'm one of six), "life is hard and the only way through is through".