"There is one thing stronger than all the armies of the world;
and that is an idea whose time has come."
Victor Hugo (H/t CH)

two domain names: .... 535PKQs.com* .... 21stCenturyCivics.com ....

one idea (whose time has come): competent self-governance

(a.k.a., effective self-governance)

* 535: number of voting members in Congress
PKQ: acronym of philosopher king/queen

Last update/edit: 11-20-17

Introduction (1 of 2)
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knowledge is power...
new knowledge is new power...

There is one critical area in political science that, in a manner of speaking, is still stuck in the Stone Age. The goal of 535PKQs/21stCenturyCivics is to bring it into the 21st century.

As a species, we've come a long way since our ancestors lived in caves and wore animal skins -- a time when the sum total of all human knowledge could pretty much fit on a few 3 x 5 cards.

Many thousands of years later, we have managed to accumulate a vast treasure trove of knowledge -- everything from the existential and awe inspiring to the useless and mundane; there isn't hardly any subject or area we don't have at least some inkling of understanding.

There are exceptions, though. Despite humanity's best efforts, we still don't know if there is life after death; for this, true believers must continue relying on religious faith. Nor do we know if life exists elsewhere in the universe, intelligent or otherwise; for this, true believers must continue relying on scientific faith.

This web page is about another kind of exception. It concerns knowledge (in the form of existentially important answers to a long list of questions) that humanity's best and brightest have never sought because, frankly, it never occurred to them to ask the questions.

Moreover, the knowledge consists of an entire continent of as yet unexplored knowledge, and is located in the absolute last place you would think to look: the field of political science.

For now let's call that continent: (the science of) competent, or effective, self-governance. The need for our political scientists and others to explore this new area of study should be self-evident inasmuch as our species has no more an idea of how to "practice" democracy (i.e., engage in the process of self-governance) competently, today -- in the 21st century -- than we did when we first practiced it 25 centuries ago in Athens, Greece.

That discouraging fact constitutes probably the single greatest mystery in political science:

Why, at any time over the last 2,500 years (but especially in the modern era), did it not occur to our political philosophers and political scientists to think of, then categorize, self-governance as a process that could be improved upon, or skill that could be mastered, then adjust their political philosophies and theories -- and prescriptions -- accordingly?

While fascinating, that mystery will have to be explored at another time. For now here's the important takeaway:

As a practical matter, it is our species' fundamental incompetence at the democratic, or self-governance, process that explains why modern day voters -- not just in America but in essentially every democracy on Earth -- keep their national legislatures in particular overflowing with literally the last kind of legislators any free and rational society would want representing them and safeguarding their nation's short, mid and long-term interests.

We refer to these legislators (almost always contemptuously) as career politicians, or professional politicians, or just politicians. But the manifestly more meaningful -- not to mention, instructive -- term that both we and our political science and civics teachers should start using is politically ambitious politician, or PAP for short, because ultimately it is political ambition that makes good people/legislators say and do bad** things to insure their repeated re-election.

 

Presumably, like voters in every free society, our voters in America would love it if their national legislative choices at the ballot box every two years didn't usually come down to the lesser of two evils -- i.e., two self-serving PAPs (or well-intentioned but soon-to-become PAPs) -- but, instead, were routinely between the greater of two of, literally, the most desirable candidates possible.

FYI: let's call this new breed of highly desirable candidates, PKQ-caliber candidates -- PKQs for short -- because, clearly, the most desirable candidates, be they liberal Democrats, conservative Republicans, or something else, would have the skill sets, governing capabilities and selfless motives of a democracy's version of philosopher kings and queens.

guesstimate: there are one million +/- PKQ-caliber Americans who, under the right circumstance, voters could successfully "arm-twist" into running for Congress -- and would agree, if elected, to serve for a few years as a one-time civic duty.

** examples of "bad" things PAPs willingly do to attain and/or hold on to power:

  • demagoguery,
  • political finger pointing,
  • deceptive political acting -- i.e., pretending to be concerned, passionate, outraged, etc. (especially on hot button issues),
  • special- and vested interest cronyism,
  • influence peddling,
  • fiduciary abandonment,
  • making campaign promises they know they can't or won't keep --
    a.k.a. blatantly lying to the voters,
  • etc., etc., etc.
 

It is hard, even for someone with a vivid imagination, to imagine a U.S. House and Senate filled with 535 Democrats and Republicans who aren't self-serving politicians, and therefore won't go to Congress then spend all of their time (and intellect) trying to convince the American people that "their" side of the political aisle is the side of the good guys, the side the angels are on; the side that can be trusted to always act in the best interests of the people.

In other words: don't blame "their" side for America's economic, financial, fiscal and societal (EFFS) problems! Blame the guys in the other political party! They're the bad guys. The ones who only care for themselves; who are in the pockets of the special interests; who will say and do anything to stay in power --

... and on and on.

Hard to imagine or not, mastering the process of competent self-governance makes a Congress overwhelmingly dominated and controlled by PKQs not just possible but inevitable. Unfortunately, before at least a small but critical mass of our voters (5-10%) will be open to mastering that process, they will first have to surmount a part-intellectual, part-psychological barrier of gargantuan proportions.

Explaining that barrier is no easy task. To understand why, consider the following somewhat lengthy and convoluted IF-THEN statement.

IF we create:

  1. a new classification or category in political science: teachable self-governance skill (or teachable civic skill),
  2. a new concept: competent self-governance -- def: the ability of a free society's voters to keep their national legislature continuously filled with a steady supply of the most qualitatively desirable legislators possible: PKQ-caliber legislators -- which is to say, legislators who possess the skill sets and qualities we generally attribute to philosopher kings and queens -- e.g.:
    • intelligent, highly educated, capable of processing and synthesizing large amounts of complex information,
    • wise (i.e., many decades of life experience),
    • practiced at making difficult decisions,
    • (relatively speaking) do not have a self-serving, politically ambitious or power hungry bone in their body,

THEN (in the case of the American people) the intellectual/psychological barrier is not the following idea (or prediction), itself * -- but simply the fact that the instinctive or knee-jerk reaction is to treat it as a "fringe" idea.

the idea/prediction

When America's 140 million voters learn just how many of our nation's major economic, financial, fiscal and societal (EFFS) problems Congress will be able to solve** when Congress is controlled by PKQ-caliber legislators, an overwhelmingly majority of our voters will be more than willing to learn how to master this new self-governance skill -- and will quickly master it.

** and solve them no matter which party controls the House or Senate in any given election cycle -- with legislation that a substantial majority of democratic, independent and republican voters will strongly support.

* technically, there are three separate "fringe" ideas involved here:

  1. Legislation crafted and passed by PKQ-caliber (liberal and conservative) legislators will actually "solve" America's EFFS problems (fyi: in many cases, completely and permanently).
  2. A critical mass of voters (5-10%) will want to learn how to: 1) identify, then 2) seek out and arm-twist into running, PKQ-caliber candidates (in the Democratic and Republican primaries).
  3. The logical teachers of this new, mostly how-to knowledge (our nation's political science and civics instructors) will be willing to teach it. If not formally, as part of their educational institution's official course syllabus -- which, fyi, no institution would be brave enough (this early on) to offer -- then teaching it informally simply by exploring a whole new universe of novel and intriguing (not to mention, profoundly useful) questions. For example:
 

If our nation's democratic, independent, republican and libertarian voters wanted to start keeping Congress filled with PKQ-caliber legislators, how could they accomplish that shared, apolitical/non-ideological (ANI) objective without liberal voters having to vote for conservative candidates, or conservative voters having to vote for liberal candidates?

What kind of legislation could (and would) a Congress controlled by PKQ-caliber Democrats and Republicans craft and pass that a Congress controlled by self-serving Democratic and Republican PAPs couldn't?

fyi: just answering the first question illustrates how new self-governance knowledge can be easily turned into new self-governance power.

Because of the course-of-history-changing implications of this new idea/prediction, if you are one of our nation's 140 million voters, you may not think of it as such, but you have a civic/self-governance duty to decide if the idea is a type I or type II fringe idea, then proceed accordingly.

NOTE: equally important, if you are a middle- or high school student taking a civics class, or a college student taking a political science class – or an instructor teaching one of those classes – your "self-governance" objective should be to make this issue a major topic of classroom discussion and debate.

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Type I fringe ideas

These are crazy person or ”not all there” ideas.

    • A zombie apocalypse is a real possibility.

    • We didn't land anyone on the Moon, the Apollo Mission was a massive government hoax.

    • Elvis is still alive.

    • The 1997 blockbuster movie, Men in Black, isn't a sci-fi movie -- it's a docudrama: there actually are extraterrestrials of all shapes and sizes living among us.

    • If we can just get Congress' 535 (with exceedingly rare exception) self-serving, politically ambitious politicians (PAPs) to impose the right campaign finance and ethics reforms on themselves, those reforms will cause our ~535 self-serving PAPs to stop scheming, demagoguing and acting like self-serving PAPs.

Type II fringe ideas

Type IIs are initially treated as type I ideas by the vast mainstream of society, but are anything but crazy. In fact, just the opposite. Type II ideas are new, knowledge-based ideas, knowledge-based scientific theories, knowledge-based modes of thinking, etc. that represent such a radical departure from established orthodoxy -- and generally require such a radical paradigm shift in thinking -- that the idea simply seems far too crazy, or impossible to imagine, to be taken seriously.

When first posited, all of the following incontrovertible facts were type II fringe ideas -- i.e., dismissed out of hand as type I ideas -- and anyone who believed them to be true deemed crazy or not all there -- and, oft times, ridiculed mercilessly.

  • Earth is an immensely large globe that spins on the surface at a thousand miles an hour.
  • The Sun, not Earth, sits at the center of our solar system.
  • If doctors will simply start washing their hands before delivering babies, the number of infections and infection-related deaths to both mother and child will drop significantly.
  • Minorities are intellectually capable of being doctors, lawyers, scientists, CEOs, etc.
  • Women are intellectually capable of being doctors, lawyers, scientists, CEOs, etc. and possess the requisite emotional fortitude and stability.

Returning to your civic task...

After exploring this site's new self-governance-based concepts and ideas, you must decide if they are the product of “not all there” thinking by folks who are a few fries short of a happy meal, or if they are type II fringe ideas (whose time has come).

If you conclude that they are the latter, then there's a good chance you will also conclude that our nation's political scientists, civics teachers and others have a moral/intellectual obligation to start teaching America's students and voters this new civic skill -- ASAP.

The first thing on your civic to-do list: read the following two time-travel fables.

While those of you who dislike science fiction may find this an unpleasant (civic) undertaking, I think you will also find that these two fables bring into sharp focus exactly how much our nation's future EFFS wellbeing rests in the hands of those in our society who have two specific abilities: the ability to think outside-the-box -- and the ability to be brave.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Two time travel fables which are designed to:

    1. Switch your brain to a critical reasoning mode setting the average person lives their entire life and never has the occasion to use: outside-the-box critical reasoning mode.
    2. Show you how to be brave.
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Fable #1.

By some quirk of time-space, several of the greatest medical minds of the 18th century were transported to present day America.

As you would expect, they couldn't believe their eyes.

"So many marvels!" they gasped, their heads reeling. "And in only three hundred years!" (Such was the slow pace of change in their day.)

Being doctors, they were particularly pleased to learn of all the cures that had been developed, especially for deadly diseases like smallpox, cholera, the Bubonic Plague -- i.e., infectious diseases that had sent hundreds of millions of souls to their graves in the Middle Ages.

However, their joy was short-lived — quickly replaced by consternation and shame when they learned that the cures were derived from modern medicine’s Germ Theory rather than the highly respected and well-established two thousand year old theory of medicine they and their fellow doctors practiced medicine by: the Four Humours Theory (fyi: the Germ Theory’s ignorance-based predecessor).

..... short primer .....

Germ Theory: maladies like communicable diseases (e.g., measles, smallpox, cholera, etc.) are caused by microscopically small organisms called pathogens (germs, viruses, bacteria, etc.) that invade the body, and which doctors must kill (via antibiotics, etc.) in order to cure the patient.

Four Humours Theory: those maladies result from the body's four major fluids -- blood, phlegm, yellow- and black bile -- falling out of their proper balance (because of diet, lifestyle or environment), which means curing the patient requires doctors figuring out how to get the patient's major fluids back into their proper balance.

Our great medical minds were ashamed, not because they were unfamiliar with the basic concept behind the Germ Theory. They were. Primitive versions of it existed long before the 18th century. They were ashamed because they, along with their entire medical profession, had not just dismissed the theory, they had dismissed it derisively, with the greatest of contempt, as if it were a type I fringe idea.

Why? Because in their eyes the Germ Theory was much more that just a fringe idea. It was a slap in the face to a theory of medicine that over 2,000 years of the medical field’s greatest minds had contributed to and expanded upon. And as far as our great (18th century) minds were concerned, anyone who would question the teachings of — not two years, or two decades, or even two centuries, but over two millennia of intellectually superior minds must necessarily be a simple-minded fool.

Yet it was now unavoidably obvious to our time travelers that it was they who had been the fools all along — because their beloved Four Humours Theory wasn't just wrong, it was Beavis and Butt-head level of idiocy wrong.

Why that level of idiocy wrong? Because standard Four Humours' treatments for curing diseases and infections -- e.g., bloodletting, ice cold showers and scalding hot baths -- at best, did nothing and, at worst, ended up killing the patient.

It’s not that 18th century doctors were idiots. In terms of raw intellect and critical reasoning skills they were on par with 21st century physicians. It was their vaulted Four Humours Theory that made them think and practice medicine like simple-minded idiots.

Moral of this fable: ignorance-based theories can cause even highly intelligent people to arrive at absolutely idiotic conclusions, and worse, spend their entire professional careers developing blatantly idiotic remedies, cures...

and school curricula.

 

Fable #2:

By a similar quirk of time-space, some of today’s most brilliant political scientists and thinkers — along with a number of America’s most successful and well-known liberal, conservative and libertarian political commentators in print, cable news and talk radio — were transported 20 years into our future.

As with our first group of time travelers, this group also had trouble believing their eyes (although you wouldn't think they would be that impressed. After all, two decades is not very many years into our future).

But they most definitely were.

Part of the reason for this was simple: Twenty of our 21st century years equals several generations on an 18th century time scale. (Such is the rapid-fire pace at which technological change (social and cultural, too) comes at us nowadays.)

However, that only explained a small part of our time travelers’ wonderment. Bafflement, actually — because, truth be told, what especially caught their attention wasn't all the new gadgets, or the scientific or medical breakthroughs.

What jumped out at them, and by the strangest of quirks — just like our first group of time travelers — also left them beside themselves with great consternation and shame, was two impossibilities. The first, an oh wow impossibility. The second, a WHAT!#@? NO WAY!!!#@! impossibility.

The first impossibility: all of America’s major economic, financial, fiscal and societal* (EFFS) problems had been -- not so much solved as they had been cured (this term is used because, as will soon be explained, America's voters really need to start thinking about, and treating, our nation's EFFS problems the same way our doctors think about and treat chronic diseases).

* some of America's most pressing societal problems:

  • increasingly poorer Middle Class
  • chronic unemployment
  • income inequality (due to crony capitalism)
  • cradle to grave:
    • (100%) government dependency
    • poverty
    • hopelessness
    • frustration
    • class resentment
  • high rates of:
    • teen pregnancy
    • single parent households
    • "inner city" violence/gang activity
  • growing:
    • class strife/friction
    • racial strife/friction
    • political strife/friction

"OMG!!!" our baffled time travelers gasped, their heads reeling. "Our near-future America has no major economic, financial, fiscal or societal problems to speak of!?!"

"How did this happen?!!! After all, we've only traveled 20 years into our future!?!"

Clearly, it was nearly impossible for our era's greatest political minds, along with our era's most rigidly ideological minds, to get their brains to accept what their eyes were seeing. But there could be no denying what their eyes were seeing. Everything good, domestically, that could possibly happen in our nation had happened -- and light years beyond what anyone in our time would think possible.

Prosperity was way up, and it was broad based. As for the thorniest issue of our time: our American-healthcare-is-prohibitively-expensive crisis, the cost of medical products and services was less than half of what we're paying today -- ergo, healthcare was affordable -- ergo, Medicare and Medicaid were on sound financial footing and not busting the Federal budget -- ergo, what healthcare crisis?

In fact, pick any of America's major "systems" that come to mind: our free market system; our tax system; our public education system; our aforementioned healthcare system; criminal justice system; mental health system -- they were all operating at both their maximum possible health, strength, efficiency and/or effectiveness AND their minimum possible cost (which explains why there were so many oh wow! EFFS marvels for all of our great political and great ideological minds to behold).

fyi: all of our time travelers readily agreed that the most oh wow! impossibility was the fact that the myriad of major ills associated with America's urban poor: crime, violence, extreme poverty, and all the associated social pathologies -- while not entirely eradicated, were well on their way to becoming just that; far enough along that the communities were now safe, stable, thriving, nearly 100% self-reliant beehives of activity.

In those communities, and in communities all across the nation, what our time travelers beheld was a miraculous transformation: From the America they knew: a society, much of it in extreme stress and discontent; major segments in decay and disarray; rapidly losing the ability to peacefully co-exist with its differences of political opinions, beliefs and values -- to an America that had managed to become more prosperous, more self-assured, and more stress-free and at peace with and accepting of itself, than any other nation on Earth.

America was now also our planet's most purpose driven nation. With remarkably rare exception, everyone of working age who was able to work got out of bed every day with, for the most part, a purposeful, fulfilling day ahead of them. Even more importantly, those who weren't able to work at 100% worked in approximate proportion to their capacity, ability, skills, and so on.

Of course, our near-future America wasn't a utopia — far from it, because a utopia is an impossibility; sadly, too many of our species have too many shortcomings — greed, envy, jealousy, power-lust, hubris, sloth, etc. But, that fact aside, our near-future nation was well on its way to becoming as close to a utopia as it’s possible — economically, financially, fiscally and societally — for a democracy to become.

aside: in fact, we need to give this close-to-utopia kind of nation (that, apparently, America will soon start becoming) a name: neartopia — or, better yet (and more informative), an EFFS neartopia.

Now you can understand why our band of time travelers couldn’t believe their eyes: they were witnesses to an America on the verge of becoming our planet’s first EFFS neartopia.

Which brings us to the WHAT!#@? NO WAY!!!#@! impossibility.

What was totally blowing our time travelers’ minds — and also causing such great shame, particularly among our commentators — was the fact that Congress had solved America’s major EFFS problems without having to craft and implement either Democratic/liberal policies or Republican/conservative policies — or, for that matter, by implementing “compromise” policies — i.e., policies arrived at by the two parties in Congress meeting half way between the liberal end of the political/ideological spectrum on the far left, and the conservative end on the far right.

“How is that even be possible?” our t-travelers gasped mystifiedly — and in unison to boot (what are the odds of that happening!?).

They were mystified because the very idea runs counter to political science’s unwritten, de facto Political/Ideological (PI) “model/theory” of EFFS problem solving. You know, everyone’s unexamined assumption that there are only two kinds of legislation (three if you count compromise legislation) that Congress can craft to solve America’s EFFS problems:

  1. Liberal legislation crafted and enacted by Democratic controlled Congresses (that conservatives and libertarians insist will, if anything, make our EFFS problems worse because liberal policies increase the size and scope of the Federal government's power -- which as every knowledgeable conservative and libertarian knows is a bad thing).

  2. Conservative/libertarian legislation crafted and passed by Republican controlled Congresses (that liberals insist will, if anything, make our EFFS problems worse because conservative policies reduce the size and scope of the Federal government's power -- which as every knowledgeable liberal knows is a good thing for big business and the wealthy but a bad thing for everyone else).

Well, fortunately for all of us, that theory is as wrong as wrong can be (aka: ignorance-based) because, as our time travelers were amazed to discover, America’s major EFFS problems, even the ones deemed unsolvable, were solved — most of them relatively easily, largely painlessly and, in many cases, completely and permanently — by a new category of apolitical/non-ideological (ANI)-based legislation.

fyi: a great example of an ANI-based legislative policy that, not surprisingly, almost all 180 million of our near-future voters strongly supported was the Cronyism-Free Capitalism Act, because among the many EFFS problems it, once implemented, went a long way toward solving was our extreme income inequality problem.

The beauty of this course-of-history changing package of legislation was that Congress was able to craft much of it simply by systematically removing every self-serving provision which had been inserted into every piece of legislation (by every self-serving politician) which was passed then enacted into law by every Congress going back essentially to our nation’s founding.

(Turns out, this was an astronomically large number of provisions.)

To get a fairly good sense of the effect this (and associated ANI-based legislation) had not just on our economy but on our other systems as well, you will find it useful if you think of each of our systems — i.e., America’s free market system, her healthcare system, public education system, financial system, etc. — as a 50 year old person who is suffering from all manor of major health ailments and chronic diseases (= EFFS problems) because, from birth on, all of his or her meals were heavily laden with processed sugars and trans fats (= self-serving legislation and/or legislative provisions).

Now imagine that all of our 50 year olds undergo a 100% diet transformation and begin eating only the healthiest of foods. Plus, doctors are able to undo, literally, all of the damage done to their bodies by all those years of processed sugars and trans fats. Net result: everyone's multitude of ailments and chronic diseases simply disappear.

fyi: which is how you cure EFFS problems as opposed to solve them.

That's a good way of visualizing the effect that ANI-based policies had on America's major systems -- and America's major EFFS problems -- which is why our near-future voters from across the entire political/ideological spectrum supported them so strongly.

However, that's not the really interesting part about ANI-based policies. The interesting part is that they can only be crafted and implemented by a specific, and exceedingly rare, type of legislator -- which (fortunately for all of us in 2017 America) our near-future voters figured out how to identify, then successfully arm-twist into running, then elect to the U.S. House and Senate (fyi: then only allow to serve for a few years as a one time civic duty).

And what was that new, exceedingly rare species of legislator, you ask?

Highly qualified liberal Democrats and conservative/libertarian Republicans who were a democracy’s version of philosopher kings and queens (PKQs),  meaning: 1) they weren't self-serving politicians, and 2) they had absolutely no desire to make a career in politics. But they were willing -- almost always begrudgingly, and only after a great deal of social media “arm-twisting” — to run and, if elected, serve in Congress for a few years as a one-time civic duty (after which time they returned home and resumed their lives where they left off).

aside: a respectable amount of the PKQ-caliber-candidate-seeking-out (then-arm-twisting-into-running) civic "chore" was carried out every election cycle by rank-and-file members of local civic, community and volunteer groups and organizations — i.e., the good folks (of every education and income level) in every community across America who actually get up off their butts and do “community/civic” stuff).

Of course, as you might guess, our time traveling ideological warriors found this strange, new ANI-based approach to EFFS problem-solving (aka: the ANI Model (and Theory) of EFFS Problem Solving) more than a little disconcerting considering that they made their exceptionally lucrative livings extolling the problem-solving capabilities of their respective political ideologies, while decrying the other side’s horrible, problem-creating governing philosophy.

Fortunately for us there were a few exceptions among them: the ones who decided they would rather make a lucrative living helping America become a PKQ-governed democracy, and EFFS neartopia, than make it continuing to engage in their 24/7/365, my political ideology is better than your political ideology urinating contest.

These were the ones who, upon returning to our time, began preaching about the amazing EFFS problem-eradicating properties of ANI-based legislation, and the pressing need for America's 140 million voters and 75 million students to learn a new civic/self-governance skill:

how to keep Congress continuously filled with a steady supply of liberal Democrats and conservative/libertarian Republicans who don't have a self-serving, politically ambitious or power hungry bone in their body.

As for our time traveling political scientists,  well…

Sadly, upon returning to our time, most managed to convince themselves that they had simply hallucinated the whole thing.

Why? Mostly because they were cowards.

They knew their peers in America’s Political/Ideological Industrial Complex — i.e., our political science establishment, public policy think tanks and the like — especially those educated in our most elite Ivy League schools and/or regularly and happily rubbed elbows with Congress’ entrenched, corrupted-by-power, professional political class — would ridicule our time travelers derisively for suggesting that America’s voters were easily capable of being successfully taught how to practice this thing we call self-governance competently.

Fortunately, not all of our time traveling scholars were so timid.

As is always the case with those who help set the process of great change into motion —

i.e., the few both brave and tenacious enough to nudge the pebbles that create the avalanches that sweep aside the entrenched and corrupted status quos responsible for preventing the course of history from changing for the better

…there was a very small number of our time traveling academicians who refused to allow their innate timidity to dumb down their intelligence — or stop them from doing what they knew was the right thing to do.

So, taking a long, deep breath of resigned determination, they set out to undertake what they knew would be an extraordinarily unsavory but absolutely necessary, and profoundly momentous, task: drag the fields of political science and civics instruction out of the Dark Ages and into the 21st century.

 

Takeaway from this fable: The Political/Ideological (PI) “model/theory” of EFFS problem solving has caused our most highly intelligent people in literally every area of life:

  • political science/academia,
  • think tanks,
  • political advocacy,
  • media,
  • Hollywood,
  • Silicon Valley,
  • Wall Street,
  • Main Street,
  • ...

...to reach absolutely idiotic conclusions, and worse, spend their intellectual capital developing -- and/or time and money supporting -- blatantly idiotic political agendas, legislative solutions, policies...

 and civics curricula

...when what all of our best and brightest in all of the above groups should have been spending all of their time doing was simply teaching all of our students and voters a new civic skill: competent self-governance.

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Short discussion re fable #2:

Chances are you have never thought of self-governance in competent vs. incompetent terms, much less thought of the former as a teachable civic skill. Nor is it likely that you have ever considered the fact that Congress is not overflowing with self-serving "politicians" because that's who voters want "representing" them in our national legislature -- but, rather, because it never occurred to our political science and civics teachers to simply teach our society how to identify, successfully arm-twist into running, and elect PKQ-caliber candidates in the Democratic and Republican congressional primary process.

You now know what competent self-governance is -- and, in the not too distant future, most of our 140 million voters and 75 million students will as well.

If the history of new, knowledge-based (type II fringe) ideas is any guide, at some point a critical mass of our voters (and students) will embrace both the concept of competent self-governance -- but, more importantly, its dual objectives: a PKQ-controlled Congress and an EFFS neartopia.

When that critical mass is reached, our nation's collective attention will begin focusing on this new idea like a laser beam. That's when you might want to buckle your seatbelt and hang on to your hat, because that's when we will start increasingly seeing "political" campaigns in which, for the duration of the Democratic and Republican primary process, our nation's:

  • Bernie Sanders supporters,
  • Hillary Clinton supporters
  • Donald Trump supporters
  • Ted Cruz supporters
  • Ron Paul supporters

... will all be on the same side pitted against ~ (435 + 33) mostly well-meaning but politically ambitious politicians (PAPs) seeking re-election.

By anyone's definition, that's going to make for some pretty interesting campaigns and media coverage.

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If, at this point, you've already concluded that competent self-governance is nothing more than naive and whimsical thinking, you probably won't change your mind by reading further.

If you've concluded that it is a type II idea whose time has come, but it still feels so much like a type I that you're too embarrassed or uncomfortable to commit to it, you can stay updated via twitter and/or Facebook and become an official supporter when it becomes a "mainstream" idea.

However, if you are convinced that competent self-governance is an inevitability, and you're “brave” enough to be one of the fingers that helps push the (PKQ) pebble that creates the avalanche that changes the course of history, you can:

 
like this web page
follow on twitter
follow/like on Facebook

...then (just to be on the safe side) you might want to buckle your seatbelt :-)

 

re: the two domain names
535PKQs.com
535 = voting members in Congress
PKQ = Philosopher King/Queen
21stCenturyCivics.com
 

ABOUT 535PKQs

535PKQs is about two key acronyms...

PKQ: Philosopher King/Queen
PAP: Politically Ambitious Politician

...which are used as building-block, or foundational, concepts:

PKQ: noun; term for describing the ideal or most desirable member of Congress possible.

PAP: noun; term for describing the worst or least desirable member of Congress possible.

-- fyi --

A PKQ is a legislator who has the following measurable skills, traits and accomplishments:

  • has above average:
    • intelligence,
    • critical reasoning skills,
    • education and
    • general knowledge,
  • is capable of synthesizing large amounts
    of complex data and information,
  • is old enough to have accumulated a considerable amount of life experience,
  • possesses demonstrated leadership and decision making skills,
  • relatively speaking, doesn't have a self-serving, politically ambitious or power hungry bone in his or her body.

In short, the ideal member of Congress is a democracy's version of a philosopher king or queen (PKQ).

Q: How many Americans are "PKQ-caliber" individuals who can be convinced to run for Congress -- and, if elected, serve relatively selflessly for a few years as a one-time duty?

A: Working guesstimate: one million +/- which works out to ~2,000 PKQs in each of America's 435 congressional districts (one district = ~740,000 people).

A PAP is a legislator: 1) whose first and greatest concern is his or her political career, and 2) will say and do almost anything to get elected, and, once elected, resort to every unethical deception or tactic in a career politician's toolbox to a) stay in office, or b) acquire more political power, much if not all of which is purely for power's sake -- or c) both.

Q: How many of Congress' 535 legislators are PAPs?

A: For all intent and purposes, all of them. That's because the voting patterns and legislative actions of the few who may be PKQs at heart is largely indistinguishable from that of a PAP.

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ABOUT 21stCenturyCivics

21stCenturyCivics is about two key acronyms...

PI: political/ideological
ANI: apolitical/non-ideological

...which are also used to create a new category of foundational, PI- and ANI-based concepts that open up a vast, heretofore unexplored continent of actionable, self-governance based knowledge for voters.

Importantly, it is the kind of knowledge that should be taught to America's 75 million students via a 21st century civics curriculum that teaches our nation's future voters considerably more than just how to be "good" citizens -- i.e., responsible and informed. It also teaches them how left- and right-of-center voters can use the power of the ballot box -- in the (Democratic and Republican) congressional primary process -- to achieve the holy grail of self-governance: a Congress overwhelmingly dominated and controlled by Democratic and Republican PKQs who are capable of crafting and enacting a radically new category of legislation: ANI-based legislation -- which, fyi, is much more than game-changing, or nation-changing, legislation. It is literally course-of-history-changing legislation.

A 21st century civics curriculum is
needed to correct a severe logic flaw in
our current "18th century" curriculum.

First, a short primer on how America's representative democracy (constitutional republic for you sticklers) is supposed to work.

In civics, we are taught that, in America, elections are the means by which the will of 50% + 1 of the people is carried out -- assuming, among things, that what the majority wants can be achieved via legislation, is constitutional, and doesn't infringe on the rights of the minority.

The traditional/historical view of government "of the people, by the people, for the people" treats politics (especially as practiced by politicians at the national level) as "bloodless war" between political factions (usu. over political power and resources). It makes sense that if politics is bloodless war between politicians, then elections can be thought of as bloodless battles between voters. Battles that take place on election day on battlefields across our nation called polling stations.

Let's call these bloodless battles that our voters engage in, making political/ideological (PI) war, because the battle each election cycle is part of a permanent "self-governance war" between voters over:

Democratic vs. Republican policies, legislation, solutions, etc.
and/or
liberal vs. conservative "values," principles, ideals, etc.

Also, let's call the battle plan -- or, better yet, voting strategy -- that voters use to wage their PI war, the One Objective Voting Strategy, because the near-singular objective of America's voters every two years is always the same: insure that their side's candidates get elected to Congress.

Not to beat a dead horse, but it's important to remind ourselves that, in theory, the whole point of voters "winning" the bloodless battle for control of Congress every two years is to insure that their side's candidates end up being the majority party, the party in power -- hopefully in both houses of Congress -- because the party in power (again, in theory) will be obliged to carry out the will of the 50% + 1 of the people who elected them into office.

Of course, in actuality, what has been increasingly happening, particularly over the last ~100 years but especially over the last ~50 years, is that our left- and right-of-center voters end up electing, then repeatedly re-electing, Democrats and Republicans to Congress who are, with rare exception, self-serving "politicians" -- who do what self-serving politicians, especially at the national level, do: (this self-governance "fact-of-life" can't be stated too often) engage in a neverending, all consuming -- all's-fair-in-love-and-political-war -- struggle for political power, much of it purely for power's sake.

Our political thinkers and philosophers and others within our intelligentsia have always blamed this consistent, and deplorable, election outcome on shortcomings on the part of our voters: human flaws like ignorance, apathy, naivete (i.e., gullibility), and especially greed.

While it is certainly true that, in a democracy, the buck stops with the voters, and that a significant percentage of them have one or more of these "flaws," it's also obvious that voters who don't have any of the above shortcomings (our intelligentsia, for example) are supporting, contributing to the campaigns of, and voting for the same self-serving politicians as our "flawed" voters.

This strongly suggests that the better takeaway is that our "21st century" flaw lies not with the voters but with the logic of our current civics curriculum (fyi: the core concepts of which were developed in the 18th century and earlier) that treats our congressional elections solely as bloodless battles between essentially the same two groups of voters -- i.e., left- and right-of-center -- who have been fighting (for generations) over the same two sets of competing, polar opposite, zero sum, PI-based objectives.

Our current civics curriculum's flawed logic becomes glaringly obvious when you consider that, simply by teaching voters how to use a different voting strategy, for now let's call it the Two Objective Voting Strategy, both our flawed and non-flawed voters will be able to easily solve their "Congress-overflowing-with-self-serving-politicians" problem.

Permanently.

fyi: And when our voters solve that self-governance problem, they will also be solving their "America-buried-in-EFFS-problems" problem.

 

Brief summation of the:

One Objective Voting Strategy:

  • voters use the national legislative election process (NLEP) to achieve one objective: decide if they want Congress to be controlled by Democrats or Republicans.
    .

Two Objective Voting Strategy:

  • voters use the first leg of the NLEP, the primary process, to achieve their first objective: decide if they want Congress to be controlled by PKQ-caliber legislators or by self-serving politicians -- i.e., PKQs/PKQs or PAPs/PAPs -- and the second leg, the general election, to achieve their second objective: decide if they want Congress to be controlled by Democrats or Republicans.

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(working) synopsis

Our species has a primitive (or incomplete) understanding of self-governance. In America's case, voters only know how to use the two votes available to them in the national legislative election process (NLEP) -- one in the primary process, one in the general election -- to achieve a single PI objective: decide which political party controls the U.S. House and Senate.

Yet, were our voters so inclined, they could easily use their two votes to achieve two objectives: the abovementioned PI objective in the general election. But of immeasurably greater importance in terms of its beneficial impact on our society, our left- and right-of-center voters (which = ~ 140 million voters) could achieve a shared ANI objective in the Democratic and Republican primary processes:

decide if Congress is to be controlled by
PAPs
/PAPs or PKQs/PKQs.

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* * * * * * * * * * *

ANI-based KNOWLEDGE IS self-governance POWER

Logic suggests that:

  • the best way to build upon this new body of self-governance-based (or ANI-based) knowledge is via a new subfield in political science:

    Comparative Self-Governance: the study of competing models of self-governance and the theories on which they are based, principally:

      • The Political/Ideological (PI) Model
        • key feature: voters use One Objective Voting Strategy
        • inevitably leads to a PAP-controlled Congress which is, by definition, a PAP-governed democracy

      • The Apolitical/Non-Ideological (ANI) Model
        • key feature: voters use Two Objective Voting Strategy
        • produces a PKQ-controlled Congress which is, by definition, a PKQ-governed democracy
  • the best way to quickly disseminate this new knowledge throughout society is via a national civics/competent self-governance awareness and education campaign.

  • the best way to insure that this new knowledge becomes permanently etched into our national civic zeitgeist/ethos is via the adoption of a 21st century civics curriculum, one whose main focus is teaching our nation's students how voters from across the political/ideological spectrum can use the power of the ballot box to achieve a free society's shared ANI objectives -- of which, fyi, free societies have many, they just don't know it. Why don't they? Because our political scientists never developed the terms and concepts with which to describe them.

Those shared objectives, along with other new ANI-based concepts, will be explored in greater detail in a part (amateur) political science, part self-governance advocacy book:

First, Re-Educate All The Political Scientists and Civics Teachers:
The case for a 21st century civics curriculum.
(est. pub., Fall 2017)

However, they are presented here in a hodgepodge of unedited, overlapping, back-of-the-envelope entries for those who wish to explore this new field of knowledge immediately rather than wait until the book becomes available.

cover A

cover B

 
 
follow/like

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“No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.
We must learn to see the world anew.”
Albert Einstein

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RANDOM OBSERVATIONS (RO), FOODS FOR THOUGHT, ETC.
(which will help us to "see the world anew")

RO-1. Once [best possible/worst possible] terms for our congressional legislators have been created -- i.e., PKQs and PAPs -- we can begin building upon this new self-governance concept with terms for best and worst possible: Congresses, democracies, "policy formulation" processes, legislation, etc. -- all of which should become part of America's working vocabulary asap considering how much these new terms will help our society, but especially our civics students and voters, become competent practitioners of this thing we call self-governance.

New terms for...

Best possible: PKQ-controlled Congress, PKQ-governed democracy, PKQ-crafted EFFS policies*, PKQ-written legislation, PKQ-etc.
Worst possible: PAP-controlled Congress, PAP-governed democracy, PAP-crafted EFFS policies*, PAP-written legislation, PAP-etc.

* EFFS policy: a legislative policy crafted by Congress to solve one or more of America's economic, financial, fiscal and/or societal (EFFS) problems.

re: EFFS problems

Conceptually, it is useful for voters to lump all of America's EFFS problems into a basket or black box because:

  • With a PKQ-controlled Congress, all of those problems are (for all intent and purposes) "solvable" -- in many cases, completely and permanently -- via the same ANI-based, legislative policy formulation process.
  • With a PAP-controlled Congress, at best only a tiny fraction are solvable -- and probably only for a relatively short duration -- because history suggests that legislation passed by PAPs (from both parties) to solve EFFS problems tends to be either kick-the-can-down-the-road legislation, or wack-a-mole legislation, i.e., eventually creates as many problems as it "solves."

 

We can also apply this best possible/worst possible conceptual model to America's major "systems"...

 

new terms for
BEST POSSIBLE

 

new terms for
WORST POSSIBLE

  Optimized free market system Dysfunctionalized free market system
  "
"
"
"
"
"
"
"

tax system
financial system
healthcare system
public education sys.
welfare system
criminal justice sys.
mental health sys.
etc.

"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"

tax system
financial system healthcare system
public education sys.
welfare system
criminal justice sys.
mental health sys.
etc.

Applying this new conceptual model to our nation's systems is important because doing so allows us to connect the dots between America's EFFS problems, America's dysfunctionalized systems and decades of dysfunctionalizing legislation crafted and enacted by PAP/PAP-controlled Congresses.

In fact, here's the conceptual working draft of the cause/effect linkage:

  • Since America's first Congress in 1789, we have had 200+ years of legislation enacted into law, the lion's share of which was crafted and passed by PAPs.

  • We can probably take as a given that, with increasing frequency, nearly every piece of legislation passed over that period contained at least one, but more than likely a large number of self-serving provisions inserted by self-serving PAPs -- with each provision having a deleterious impact, however slight or seemingly insignificant, on one or more of America's major systems.

fyi: let's call this process of incremental system deterioration:
system dysfunctionalization

  • As the decades accumulate -- but especially with two major inflection points in America's history: FDR's New Deal programs in the 1930s and LBJ's Great Society programs in the 1960s -- our increasingly dysfunctionalized systems give rise to a growing number of EFFS problems.

    important point: it is not the fact that the legislation passed increased the "size and scope" of the federal government's power, per se, that gave rise to our nation's EFFS problems. Merely that the legislation -- which itself was crafted to "solve" one or more (dysfunctionalization created) EFFS problems -- contained even more incrementally dysfunctionalizing provisions.

  • As America's major systems become increasingly more dysfunctionalized, America's EFFS problems continue to grow both in number and severity. Not because of liberal policies, or because of conservative policies, but because of the cumulative damage done by 200+ years of system dysfunctionalization.
 

TAKE AWAY: many of America's major EFFS problems can be "solved" simply by systematically undoing the cumulative damage done by 200+ years of self-serving PAPs.

Important FYI: much of the process of system dysfunctionalization manifests itself in the form of one or more of three types of cronyism:

  1. special interest
  2. vested interest
  3. political interest

re: introducing optimized/dysfunctionalized terminology into our societal ethos,
into the national debate and into our voters' decision-making process

Once voters begin thinking about our various systems in optimized vs. dysfunctionalized terms, especially our free market, tax and healthcare systems, it will quickly become apparent to most of them that 99% of the liberal solutions vs. conservative solutions "debates" between Congress' two factions of PAPs has been largely shiny object debates because those debates have steered our society's attention away from two insightful facts:

  1. What little "meaningful" PI-based legislation (meant to solve one or more of America's major EFFS problems) that has been crafted and passed by Congress' two political party's PAPs over the last several decades has failed to solve any of our nation's major EFFS problems (or minor EFFS problems for that matter).

  2. Congress can't truly solve any of America's EFFS problems with PI-based legislation without first undoing (via ANI-based legislation) the cumulative damage done by 200+ years of system dysfunctionalization to our major systems -- which, once completed, will largely obviate the need for the PI-based legislation.

The Obamacare "debate" in Congress is the perfect example of how to not solve a major EFFS problem in a national legislature. The following thought experiment illustrates one possible approach a Congress controlled by PKQs would take to "solve" our healthcare "crisis":

Let's imagine that America's voters possessed a magic wand, and they used it to transform all of Congress' PAPs into PKQs -- half of them liberal Democrats, the other half conservative Republicans. Then our voters directed the 535 PKQs to craft legislation that would end up causing the cost of all medical products and services in our nation to be cut in half or more.

Logic dictates that, with a half liberal/half conservative Congress, legislative solutions that were distinctly liberal or distinctly conservative would be out (even though that restriction wouldn't matter to PKQs, anyway). Logic, along with a basic understanding of a few salient economic laws -- e.g., the law of supply and demand -- also dictate that our PKQs would have to craft far-reaching legislation that accomplished, minimally, the following two key objectives:

  1. The legislation exposed, in effect, 100% of the medical industry -- i.e., hospitals, clinics, doctor's offices, medical supplies, drugs, etc. -- to the cost lowering, quality increasing force of America's ("100% cronyism-free) free market system.
  2. The legislation reduced (as close to zero as possible) the overhead from every sector of the healthcare system NOT directly involved in the doctor/patient relationship. This would essentially require the decoupling (but not elimination) of the healthcare system from its two most significant (non-medical) cost drivers: the insurance industry and government (in the form of [state, federal] rules/regulations).

The KEY net result of Congress crafting and enacting ANI-based "healthcare" legislation: The amount of money our nation pays for "healthcare" every year -- which includes two of the federal government's major budget busters: Medicare and Medicaid (which the federal government would still be responsible for providing and paying for) -- would be cut in half or more.

Since an overwhelmingly majority of the American people are compassionate by nature, but also favor/support the "value" of personal responsibility, we can be confident that everyone in society would: 1) receive the medical care they needed, and 2) pay for it (via direct pay, insurance premiums, etc.) in proportion to their ability to pay.

aside: the healthcare issue will be covered elsewhere on this page

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These next two best/worst conceptual models (and their working definitions) should become as familiar to our society as terms/concepts like google, emoji, tweet...

Best possible: EFFS neartopia -- a democracy as free of EFFS problems as it is possible for that democracy to be.

fyi: because its major systems have been optimized by PKQs from both political parties -- which essentially means that the systems are operating at their maximum possible health, strength, efficiency, effectiveness, etc.

Worst possible: EFFS dystopia -- a democracy whose EFFS problems are so severe as to constitute an existential threat to that nation.

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WORKING THEORY: Democracies that become EFFS dystopias do so -- not because of the centuries-old conventional wisdom that blames voter shortcomings (e.g., ignorance, apathy, naivety, but especially, greed) -- but, rather, because those democracy's major systems have been dysfunctionalized over a period of decades, generations (in some cases, centuries) by legislation (laden with self-serving provisions) crafted and enacted into law by PAPs from their nations' major political parties.

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FYI: Our current tax code is the text book example of what the accumulation of decades -- and, in many cases, generations -- of dysfunctionalizing legislation produces.

 

At 76,000+ pages and growing, USA Today called it a "monstrosity of complexity" when it was only a 54,000 page monstrosity.

  • It's sheer size and complexity suppresses economic growth.
  • It benefits the politically well connected.
  • It gives Big Business an unfair advantage over small and mid-sized companies.

Because it taxes production, it has played a major role in devastating America's low- and mid-skill manufacturing sectors.

  • It is the means through which politically ambitious politicians (PAPs) wield their political power and peddle their influence.
  • It is how PAPs exert control over every business and individual in America.
  • It is where PAPs hide special favors for their political, corporate and special interest cronies.
  • It is why special interest groups and BIG Business treat PAPs like royalty rather than the people's servants.

Our tax code is a major reason Washington is known internationally as a cesspool of political sleaze, greed and dishonesty.

  • It destroys integrity and political courage.
  • It has turned our PAPs in Congress into high priced prostitutes.
  • It is why our nation's Capitol is infested with powerful corporate lobbyists.
  • It helps keep the super wealthy... super wealthy???

This is what 76,000 pages looks like

aside: given the size of our tax code, you can imagine what 170,000+ pages of dysfunctionalizing federal regulations look like.

optimizing legislation: legislation that: 1) contains no self-serving provisions, and 2) whose focus is optimizing one or more of a nation's systems.

FYI: Here is what an optimized (and optimizing) tax code would look like.

A helpful thought experiment:

The ability of America's voters to:

    1. broadly agree on what constitutes an optimized system, and
    2. strongly agree that the optimized systems they agree on are manifestly better -- and, therefore, infinitely more desirable -- than the dysfunctionalized counterparts currently in place...

...depends on their ability to reach broad agreement on apolitical, non-ideological (ANI) design objectives for such things as an optimized tax code, optimized public education system, etc.

So let's use a thought experiment to get a sense of how liberal, moderate, conservative, and even libertarian voters would arrive at the ANI design objectives, for example, for an optimized tax code:

Assume that several groups of randomly selected Americans have been assembled in separate rooms and assigned the task of coming up with the design objectives for a tax code that will

    1. Optimize our nation's free market engine -- i.e., create the optimum conditions for:
      • sustained, muscular economic growth
      • new job creation, particularly good paying high-, mid- and low-skill manufacturing jobs.
    2. Generate maximum government revenue at any given tax load on GDP (18%, 19%, 20%,...).
     

One room consists of retired seniors, another of college students, another of America's working poor, another of chronically unemployed inner city residents, another of small business owners, another from the top 1% of income earners.

While it's likely that, both within and between these diverse groups, there will be a wide range of opinion on the federal government's proper role in areas like public education, healthcare, entitlement programs, etc. -- it's also likely that a substantial majority in every group will agree that it is in every group's interest for:

  • America's economy to be the strongest and healthiest it can possibly be;
  • jobs to be plentiful;
  • the federal government to be bringing in enough revenue to keep its currency sound and meet its legal obligations.

Given those three overarching design objectives, the ideal, or optimum, tax code will have to include, minimally, the following part-data driven, part-common sense design objectives:

  • It will impose the least possible drag on our economy, especially the manufacturing sector.
  • It will impose the least possible cost on people who earn their income by growing America's economic pie -- i.e., creating real wealth (e.g., manufacturing products, providing goods and services, etc.).
  • It will impose the least possible cost on people who save/invest the money they earn.
  • It will impose the least possible cost on people who want to start their own business and/or hire someone to work in their business.
  • It will impose the maximum possible cost on capitalism’s parasites, leeches, vultures, etc.:

    • e.g., hefty transaction fees levied on legal but "parasitic" activities (e.g., high frequency trading, trading exotic financial instruments, etc.).

  • It will impose an appropriate and proportional cost on those in society who:
    • consume/use unhealthy products which society will end up having to bear the health/medical and/or other costs,
    • engage in unsafe behaviors/activities, both legal and illegal, which society has to bear health/medical and/or other costs.
  • It will be simple enough to be:
    • easily understood by everyone,
    • easy to comply with,
    • easy to enforce -- consistently, with no exceptions!
    • IMPOSSIBLE to be used to "sneak in under the radar" tax exemptions which will give unfair advantage to corporate interests, special interest groups, etc..
  • Fairness will dictate that:
    • it can NEVER be used for social engineering purposes -- liberal or conservative
      • if society wishes its legislators to use the legislative process to accomplish a "social good," it can be done via stand alone legislation.
    • all forms of income must be treated the same.
  • Compassion will dictate that it will impose a negligible cost on our society's least able and least capable.
  • Common sense and experience dictate that no element of the code will be so onerous as to invite such reactions as cheating, avoidance, the creation of a black market industry, etc..

Once these broad ANI design objectives have been agreed on, the optimized tax code will practically write itself.

For example, given the above objectives -- again, all likely deemed desirable by a broad cross section of society -- an optimized tax code will almost certainly be able to fit on one page (if not a 4 x 6 card), and will replace our plethora of taxes (individual and business) with:

  • a modest, largely flat income tax on incomes above a certain amount ($20,000, $25,000, $30,000, etc.),
  • a modest national sales tax and/or VAT,
  • taxes/fees on products and activities for which society has to bear health, medical or other costs -- optimally, with the amount of revenue generated equal to the amount paid out by government (i.e., society's taxpayers).
  • a moderately steep progressive consumption tax levied primarily on high income earners:

gross income minus amount saved/invested = taxable income

Keep in mind, the point of this thought experiment is not to produce the specifics of the "perfect" tax code. It is to illustrate the apolitical, non-ideological approach that PKQs will be able to take in crafting an optimized tax code whose final form will enjoy widespread public support.

This same approach can and will be used by PKQs -- with significant input/guidance from the vast mainstream of the American people -- to craft optimizing legislation for most if not all of our nation's systems.

IMPORTANT FYI: Optimizing legislation which is based on ANI design objectives will garner widespread support among the American people -- irrespective of their income, education, race, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, ideological views, etc..

.

Some working definitions:

  • optimized free market system: a free market system that is the least cronyized and dysfunctionalized free market system a free market system is capable of being.

  • optimized healthcare system: a healthcare system capable of providing the highest quality of sustained healthcare to the greatest number of people at the lowest possible cost to individual patients, the general public and taxpayers.

  • optimized welfare system: a knowledge- and compassion-based welfare system (rather than a system built and controlled by PAPs) that produces the greatest level of personal resilience and self-sufficiency possible to society's least capable citizens at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers, and least possible input by government.

  • optimized public education system: a public education system capable of providing every student, regardless of socioeconomic or ability level, with an optimized education at the least possible cost to taxpayers.

  • optimized education: the set of academic, social and work skills needed to be the most responsible, productive, successful, self-reliant, critical-thinking member of society an individual is capable of being.

re: an optimized education

An optimized education involves mastery of three skills:

  • academic skill (informal/working definition): if a student has one "gallon" of brain power, and not one drop more, then that student will leave the education system with one gallon of academic knowledge, and not one drop less.

    If a student has two gallons of brain power, etc..

  • social skill: the skill needed to successfully, and with a sense of self-satisfaction, interact with everyone in society -- family, friends, fellow students , neighbors, co-workers, strangers encountered on the street, in shopping malls, etc.

  • work skill (3 components):
    • the skill needed to work successfully, particularly with others,
    • the internalized ethic that compels one to put in an honest days work for an honest days pay,
    • the attitude that says society doesn't "owe" anyone a free ride; everyone who is physically able is expected to provide for their basic needs to the maximum extent possible.

RO-2. The (ignorance-based) PI Theory of EFFS Problem Solving in a nutshell.

(from which is derived the equally ignorance-based PI Theory of Self-Governance)

There is no formal definition of either theory as yet (poli-sci profs and graduate students, take note). For now, functionally, what the first theory says is that Congress can solve America's EFFS problems via one of two ideologically distinct approaches:

  1. liberalism -- i.e., increase the size and scope of the federal government's power
  2. conservativism -- i.e., decrease the size and scope of the federal government's power.

The PI Theory of Self-Governance basically says that voters should use the national legislative election process (NLEP) to achieve one objective:

decide which party will control the U.S. House and Senate.

aka: the One Objective Voting Strategy (OOVS)

TAKE AWAY: so long as voters use the OOVS it will be impossible for them to elect the kinds of liberal/Democratic and conservative/Republican legislators to Congress who will be capable of crafting the kind of legislation that will actually solve America's major EFFS problems (or its minor EFFS problems, either).

RO-3. The ANI Theory of EFFS Problem Solving in a nutshell.

(from which is derived the ANI Theory of Self-Governance)

There is also no formal definition of either theory as yet (poli-sci profs and graduate students, take note). For now, functionally, what the first says is that the lion's share of America's EFFS problems can be solved: 1) by, and only by, PKQs who will, 2) accomplish the lion's share of the "repair" effort by undoing the damage done to America's major systems -- for all intent and purposes, by every self-serving PAP who has ever served in Congress.

The ANI Theory of Self-Governance basically says that voters should use the national legislative election process (NLEP) to achieve two objectives:

  1. decide if Congress will be controlled by PKQs/PKQs or PAPs/PAPs
    • decided in the primary process
  2. decide which party will control the U.S. House and Senate
    • decided in the general election

aka: the Two Objective Voting Strategy (TOVS)

TAKE AWAY: If America's voters use the NLEP to achieve two objectives, it will be extremely easy for voters to elect liberal/Democratic and conservative/Republican candidates to Congress who will be capable of crafting the kind of legislation that will actually solve America's major EFFS problems (and its minor EFFS problems, as well).

RO-4. The subfield that should have been...
.

Political thinkers have been analyzing, describing and comparing different forms of government, including different types of democracies, since the time of Aristotle. But Comparative Politics as an "official" subfield of the discipline only goes back about 80 years.

comparative politics: the comparative analysis of political institutions and processes.

For a host of reasons well worth exploring at another time, it did not occur to our political scientists to create a companion subfield, Comparative Self-Governance, when they created Comparative Politics.

comparative self-governance: the comparative analysis of models and theories of self-governance, principally:

  • Political/Ideological (PI) Model/Theory --> the model our voters use
  • Apolitical/Non-Ideological (ANI) Model/Theory --> the model they should use

In my view, future historians will judge this to be the most costly intellectual oversight in the history of political science.

Why? Because, had our political scientists undertaken the study of comparative self-governance, it would have quickly become obvious to them that the model of self-governance they, along with America's civics teachers, had been, in effect, teaching their students (and our voters) to use: the PI Model -- particularly and especially to elect Congress's 535 members -- was vastly inferior to the ANI Model inasmuch as America's myriad of major economic, financial, fiscal and societal (EFFS) problems could be traced back to our voters using the former model rather than the latter to "practice" democracy.

Not some of our EFFS problems, mind you, but all of them.

In fact, a compelling case can be made that, had America's voters started using the ANI Model to elect their U.S. House and Senate members -- as recently as, say, the 1970's -- America in 2016 would be the closest thing to a Utopia it is possible for any nation to be (given our species' many innate flaws).

Just how close?

For starters, as already mentioned: our nation would not have one EFFS problem large or severe enough to constitute a national issue for voters.

That means no hollowed-out middle class problem; no chronic unemployment problem; no extreme income inequality problem; no 2% growth rate is the new normal problem; no unsustainable entitlement spending problem; no massive budget deficits as far as the eye can see problem; no crushing national debt problem; no crumbling infrastructure problem.

And perhaps the most eye opening of all: no intractable "inner city" problem -- i.e.:

  • no cradle to grave poverty
  • no cradle to grave government dependence
  • no rampant violence
  • no 80% out-of-wedlock birthrate
  • no public schools stymied by unsocialized and/or "uneducable" children
  • no "Black Lives Matter" conflict
  • and on and on...

That's why, once our academicians and intelligentsia begin debating the merits of creating and formally teaching Comparative Self-Governance -- not just future historians, but our current historians, will readily agree that this 80 year oversight by our best and brightest political thinkers was, by any measure you use, one of political science's costliest.

RO-5. Our political scientists have a "primitive" understanding of self-governance.

Which explains why, although PAPs are literally the last individuals on the planet that any free society's voters should be willingly handing the reins of power, especially in their national legislature, that's who voters in nearly every -- if not every -- democratic society on Earth begrudgingly hand the reins to -- election cycle after election cycle.

While our political scholars possess a great deal of knowledge about democracy, both as a concept as well as its various forms or models, e.g., representative, parliamentary, bicameral, unicameral, etc. -- including of course our own uniquely American style democracy (constitutional republic for you sticklers) -- even our most elite political thinkers, past and present, have never considered using the process of self-governance as a tactical or strategic tool, and therefore have no real conceptual understanding (scholarly or otherwise) of what turns out to be an existentially important, not to mention tactically powerful, process.

Why existential? Because, as it turns out, if the process is mastered by voters -- i.e., used competently or effectively -- theirs will quickly (relatively speaking) become a nation as devoid of major economic, financial, fiscal and societal (EFFS) problems as it is possible for that nation to be (let's call such a nation an EFFS neartopia). On the other hand, if the self-governance process is never mastered -- or another way of stating it, if voters never learn how to use the power of the ballot box competently or effectively, history says their nation's eventual EFFS downfall will be all but inevitable (aka: an EFFS dystopia). (Jump to the Tytler Cycle below for a brief overview)

Unfortunately for the American people, it is our academia's lack of formal exploration of this critical component or element of the "democratic process" that explains, among things, why (essentially since our nation's founding but particularly for the last hundred years) Congress has been overwhelmingly dominated and controlled by a category of legislators universally despised by voters of every political and ideological stripe, not just in America but around the world: politically ambitious politicians (PAPs).

RO-6. Using a blockbuster movie to explain the ANI basis of America's EFFS problems.

Hollywood has made dozens of big budget blockbuster movies involving Superheroes and Supervillains engaging in epic -- and highly destructive -- battles, as often times as not in the downtown districts of large cities.

IF the liberals among you think of the Superheroes as the Democratic PAPs in Congress, and the Republican PAPs as the Supervillains – and the conservatives/libertarians among you reverse the roles,

AND IF we treat each skyscraper as one of America's major systems -- i.e.:

  • free market system
  • federal tax system
  • financial system
  • healthcare system
  • public education system
  • welfare system
  • criminal justice system
  • mental health system
  • etc.

THEN pick a memorable battle scene from one of those blockbuster movies in which a great deal of collateral damage was inflicted on a lot of skyscrapers – which produced mountains of rubble ( hint: = EFFS problems) everywhere,

THEN assume that this particular battle spanned 80 -- 200+ years.

You now have the perfect metaphor for understanding how America's major EFFS problems were created: as the collateral damage inflicted over a period of decades and generations -- in the form of dysfunctionalizing legislative provisions (and, in some cases, entire pieces of legislation) -- by two groups of self-serving PAPs caught up in a never-ending, all-consuming struggle for political power, much of which has been purely for power's sake.

In short, America is buried under a mountain of major EFFS problems not because of a flawed governing philosophy or political ideology but as a result of at least 80, and as much as 200+, years of collateral damage done to America's major systems by self-serving, power hungry PAPs of every PI hue and stripe.

What the ANI Theory of Self-Governance makes clear is that if voters use the two objective voting strategy – which will result in Congress staying continuously filled with a steady supply of PKQs -- it will not matter which party “controls” Congress in any given election cycle, in terms of Congress being able to craft and pass the ANI-based legislation that will actually end up solving America's EFFS problems – in many cases, completely and permanently.

RO-7. re: solving EFFS problems. Why most of the liberal vs. conservative debate is a shiny object diversion.

Certainly since FDR's New Deal programs in the 1930s, the main point of contention between the Democratic Party and Republican Party, and between liberal and conservative intellectuals in academia and elsewhere -- and between most democratic and republican voters -- has been over the size and scope of the Federal government's power: Liberals/Democrats want both the size and scope increased, conservatives/Republicans and libertarians want to see both decreased.

.... The roots of this contentious, liberal vs. conservative debate ....

What started out as a philosophical/intellectual debate among academicians over two separate issues:

  1. Which governing philosophy, liberalism or conservatism, accomplishes the greatest good for the greatest number of people?
  2. Are the powers the federal government is taking on in areas like public education, healthcare, welfare, etc. constitutional?

...mutated/devolved over a period of decades, thanks largely to a process tentatively called knowledge dysfunctionalization (see definition below), into a logically flawed, PI-based belief system about the ability of liberalism or conservativism (depending on one's PI views) to solve EFFS problems.

Meaning liberal voters began to operate on the assumption that liberal policies would, if not solve America's EFFS problems, at least lessen their severity, while conservative -- i.e., reduce government's size and power -- policies would either not solve the problems in question, or would actually make them worse.

And naturally, conservative and libertarian voters even more passionately believed just the opposite. Liberal -- i.e., increase government's size and power -- policies not only wouldn't solve any of America's EFFS problems, they were all but guaranteed to make them worse.

re: knowledge dysfunctionalization (KD):

This is a useful term for providing insight into the roots of our nation's mutated PI-based belief that one governing philosophy (the bad political ideology) causes, or compounds, EFFS problems while the other (the good political ideology) solves them.

Here's a horribly worded, but acceptable, working definition:

KD: the process by which PAPs, over a period of decades or longer, use their (considerable) rhetorical skills to successfully make harmful truths seem like lies and helpful lies seem like the truth -- minimally, to their political party's supporters -- all in an effort to convince their supporters that:

  1. Past legislative policies based on their side's governing philosophy have been beneficial and that, moving forward, the policies their party are advocating will, once implemented, either solve many of their nation's EFFS problems or reduce the problems' severity.
  2. Their governing philosophy is morally superior to the other party's governing philosophy because the other side's past policies have made America's EFFS problems worse. More importantly, the other side's current policies, if implemented, will either not solve anything or actually make our nation's problems worse
 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: the process, effect and impact of knowledge dysfunctionalization is similar in some respects to George Orwell's newspeak from his novel, 1984, the language created by the totalitarian state to shape and control the thought process of its citizens.

TAKE AWAY: If PAPs control the voters' self-governance thoughts (via liberal vs. conservative language), they will control the voters' self-governance decision making process.

It is because of this decades-long process of knowledge dysfunctionalization that, today, there are a significant number of Americans (probably tens of millions) who are extremely intelligent, highly educated and well informed who self-identify as liberals and/or democrats and blame conservativism, conservative policies, etc. for much if not all of America's EFFS woes -- and a roughly equal number of Americans who self-identify as conservatives and/or a republicans (or libertarians) who are equally intelligent, educated and informed, but blame liberalism, liberal policies, etc. for getting America into the EFFS jam it's now in.

The takeaway...

Logic suggests that when two highly intelligent, well informed groups looking at the same problem(s) arrive at polar opposite conclusions -- they are both wrong -- because the underlining theory that both groups are basing their assumptions on is a flawed (or ignorance-based) theory.

In the case of our left- and right-of-center voters, that flawed theory is the PI Theory.

BRIEF ASIDE: the parallels between the PI Theory and the Four Humours Theory of Medicine (which is also ignorance-based) is striking and provides the perfect analogy. (more on this later)

 

RO-8. Borrowing from George Orwell's quote, "If you control the language [you control] the future," from his book, 1984:

Not if but when a critical mass of America's voters "control" this new ANI-based language, they will wrest control of America's future/destiny from PAPs (of every PI hue and stripe).

 

RO-9. If it already hasn't occurred to you, it should soon become glaringly obvious that, moving forward, America's best and brightest [liberal, moderate, conservative, libertarian] thinkers, opinion makers, political activists, concerned citizens, etc. have a new, shared (21st century) civic mission:

work in concert to do everything they can to facilitate America's transition from a PAP-governed to PKQ-governed democracy.

 

 

   
 


 

Introduction (2 of 2)
.

In order for America's ~140 million voters to be truly competent or effective (and therefore wildly successful) at this thing we call self-governance, at the very minimum a small but critical mass of them (5-10%) (let's call them our civically enlightened tenth) must be willing to master a remarkably easy to teach, easy to learn civic "skill" -- namely, the ability to:

first: define
then: locate
then: successfully arm-twist into running
then: elect in the Democratic and Republican congressional primaries...

highly competent liberal and conservative candidates who: 1) don't have a self-serving, politically ambitious or power hungry bone in their body, and 2) understand that, if elected in the general election, under no circumstance will they be allowed to serve for more than a few years as a one-time civic duty.

Stated in considerably starker terms: if America is to escape the fate that conventional wisdom says eventually awaits all democracies (i.e., economic, financial, fiscal and/or societal (EFFS) collapse), a relatively small number of our most visionary thinkers, problem solvers, good government advocates, philanthropists, journalists, etc. must be willing to teach our most forward looking voters how to keep Congress filled with a steady supply of liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans who possess both the skill sets and selfless motives of PKQs.

.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes
the existing model obsolete.”
R. Buckminster Fuller

 

Example of a new self-governance model...

ANI Model
Two Objective Voting Strategy = PKQ-controlled Congress
PKQ-controlled Congress = PKQ-governed democracy
PKQ-governed democracy = EFFS Neartopia

 

...that makes America's existing PI Model obsolete.

PI Model
One Objective Voting Strategy = PAP-controlled Congress
PAP-controlled Congress = PAP-governed democracy
PAP-governed democracy = EFFS Dystopia

 

 

 

 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

A SECOND EXAMPLE OF A SHARED, ANI-BASED OBJECTIVE: Actually solving America's "extreme" income inequality problem via an ANI-based policy formulation process.

Currently there are two distinct, zero-sum "solutions" being advanced by Congress' two political parties' PAPs to deal with the issue of extreme income inequality. Solutions is in quotes because these are solutions in name only; at best, both sides' policies will produce "wack-a-mole" legislation -- i.e., once implemented the legislation will cause, create or exacerbate one or more EFFS problems down the road.

Left- and right-of-center voters generally support their sides' PAP's stated policies to address America's extreme disparity in incomes:

Democratic PAPs' solution: raise federal minimum wage

Republican PAPs' solution: cut taxes, reduce regulations

... because their respective policies are in line with the governing principles and ideals of liberalism and conservativism, respectively:

Yet, that said, most voters from the far left (e.g., Bernie Sanders supporters) all the way to the far right (e.g., Ted Cruz and Ron Paul supporters) know full well that both political factions (of PAPs) in Congress have built up a track record decades, even generations long of being all PI talk but no PI action bull shi##ers.

So our voters would be the first to welcome Congress actually addressing extreme income inequality (along with dozens of other major EFFS problems) via...

The ANI-based approach

Much of the inequality can be dealt with head on simply by undoing, via legislation, every instance of Congress' three major forms of cronyism -- special interest, vested interest and "political interest" (e.g., quid pro quo-ism, patronage, etc.) -- committed by every self-serving politician going all the way back to our nation's founding.

aside: based on numerous google searches, it is highly likely that the individual instances of cronyism easily number in the hundreds of thousands.

Although a monumentally tedious task, this not-Democratic, not-Republican, not-liberal, not-conservative (i.e., ANI-based) approach could be accomplished relatively simply, quickly (all things considered) and easily by systematically removing 200+ years of self-serving provisions inserted into 200+ years of legislation by 200+ years of self-serving politicians (of every PI hue and stripe).

In addition to the obvious moral/ethical aspect -- i.e., substantially rectifying 200+ years of unethical legislative acts by unethical legislators -- our liberal and conservative PKQs would be removing hundreds of thousands of provisions that had a deleterious impact, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, on one or more of America's major "systems" -- e.g., free market system, federal tax system, financial system, etc.

At the end of Congress' legislative process, the American people would "possess," and be the beneficiaries of, something they have never had: an "optimized" free market system -- i.e., a massively powerful economic engine truly free of, and therefore totally unconstrained by, 200+ years of Congress' three major forms of cronyism.

Exactly how much of our nation's extreme income inequality problem would be solved at the end of this process is anybody's guess.

But to say it would be significant would be the mother of all understatements given the number of other major EFFS problems a PKQ-controlled Congress would have solved along the way, which leads us to an important point...

IMPORTANT POINT

This ANI-based EFFS problem solving approach, or derivations of it, can and will be used by a PKQ-controlled Congress to de-dysfunctionalize, or optimize, all of America's major systems, i.e.:

  • free market system
  • federal tax system
  • healthcare system
  • public education system
  • welfare system
  • criminal justice system
  • mental health system
  • etc.

 

 

FYI:
The ANI-based legislative approach is how a mature, 21st century democracy
drowning in EFFS problems (= EFFS dystopia) becomes an EFFS "neartopia."

.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Liberal/Socialist Bernie Sanders supporters, Populist Donald Trump supporters, Conservative Ted Cruz supporters and Libertarian Ron Paul supporters couldn't be further apart on the PI spectrum, but they couldn't be closer together on the ANI "spectrum."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

THE NEXT COLLECTION OF RANDOM,
BACK-OF-THE-ENVELOP OBSERVATIONS:

  • For (informal) definitional purposes, a PAP is at least one of the following:

    • a "career politician" currently serving in Congress
    • a candidate running for the U.S. House or Senate who is currently serving in elected office at the state or local level.
    • a candidate running for Congress who wants to make a career in politics -- or doesn't want to be a career politician, but does want to capitalize on their time served in Congress for personal or financial gain -- e.g., becoming a Washington lobbyist or political "consultant."

       

  • The new "ANI-based" concepts on this page are designed to foster new thinking about the nature of self-governance, generally -- but, more particularly, to foster new thinking on a new category of processes (or models) of self-governance (e.g., PI Model of Self-Governance, ANI Model of Self-Governance) and the qualitatively distinct types of democracies, particularly representative democracies, which are associated with each process/model.
    • One example of new "self-governance" thinking: creating a pre-primary, ANI-based candidate selection process, which is a process that America's social media savvy left- and right-of-center voters should be availing themselves of (via various social media venues) in advance of the Democratic and Republican congressional primaries in order to decide who is (vs. isn't) a highly desirable candidate, and therefore who voters should be, if necessary, arm-twisting (in various social media venues) into running in the Democratic and Republican primaries for a House or Senate seat.

  • By creating this lexicon of new terms, especially PKQ and PAP, at some point:
    • our liberal intelligentsia in academia, media and elsewhere will be morally/ethically compelled to throw their (caring and compassionate) Democratic PAPs in Congress under the bus, and justify that action by acknowledging that the "liberal" policies advocated by said PAPs, for example, to help the poor (by raising taxes on the "rich"): 1) won't help the poor very much, and 2) will be stabbing America's "earning a good living by working a lot of hours but not-actually-rich" taxpayers in the back inasmuch as it will be they who will be forced to pay, in some cases, confiscatory level tax rates, while the truly rich -- e.g., Donald Trump, George Soros, Bill Gates, Oprah, Hillary Clinton, Tom Cruz, Steven Spielberg, Michael Jordan, etc. -- will not.
    • our conservative intelligentsia in academic, media and elsewhere will be morally/ethically compelled to throw their (fiscally responsible) Republican PAPs in Congress under the bus, and justify that action by acknowledging that the "conservative" policies advocated by said PAPs, for example, cutting the Federal budget: 1) won't reduce the budget very much, and 2) will be stabbing America's poor and needy in the back inasmuch as programs for the poor are almost always the first on the Republican PAPs' chopping block.

 

 

The logic, or thought process, behind the
need for a 21st century civics curriculum

"Power is such a dangerous thing that ideally it should be wielded by people who don't want to use power, who would rather be doing something else, but who are willing to serve a certain number of years as a one-time duty, preferably at the end of a career doing something else." Thomas Sowell [underline added]

+

“I do not know if the people of the United States would vote for superior men if they ran for office, but there can be no doubt that such men do not run.” Alexis de Tocqueville

=

a 21st century civics curriculum that teaches students (and voters) a critical "civic" skill:

effective (or competent) self-governance.

 

 

"All truth passes through three stages:
First, it is ridiculed;
Second, it is violently opposed;
and Third, it is accepted as self-evident."
Arthur Schopenhauer, 1788-1860 (attrib)

* * * * * * * * * * * *

note to political science, civics instructors and poli-sci majors

Most of the book's ANI-based "truths" and ideas:

  1. apply specifically to America's National Legislative Election Process (NLEP), and
  2. will have the practical effect of turning America's approximately 140 million left-of-center and right-of-center voters into civic allies in the primary process portion of the NLEP.

2 POINTS:

First, it's probably hard to imagine the concept of "apolitical" in a political science context. For definitional purposes, it means not associated with the stated governing principles and ideals of either of our two major political parties.

However, eventually the term apolitical (or a better replacement) will be used to highlight and focus our attention on the stark differences (in legislative outcomes) between two qualitatively distinct types of politics*: the politics engaged in by self-serving, politically ambitious politicians (PAPs) vs. the politics engaged in by men and women, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans who (relatively speaking) don't have a self-serving, politically ambitious or power hungry bone in their body -- a.k.a. PKQs.

* minimally, our best and brightest political thinkers should take it upon themselves to begin viewing -- and discussing -- these two types of politics much like biologists view and discuss two distinct types of bacteria: those that do great harm to the human body, and those that are helpful (critical, in fact).

The reason for making the distinction couldn't be more obvious given the magnitude of the cumulative economic, financial, fiscal and societal (EFFS) harm done -- by PAP-based politics -- to our nation's myriad of systems, while the amount of EFFS good brought about by PKQ-based politics will be almost incalculable. (See neartopia below)

Second, conceptually, the ANI-based ideas you have and are about to encounter are still on the drawing board, far from the finished product. Some don't even have terms to describe them, yet. In many respects, they can be likened to the Wright brothers' first back of the envelope sketches for their (at the time) "impossible" aeronautical idea: an engine powered airplane.

...to whom much has been given, much is expected...

Whether you are a teacher of old knowledge, a seeker/explorer of new knowledge, or both, your intellectual challenge -- and, in my view, moral/civic duty -- is to refine and expand on these new, "impossible" self-governance ideas/skills/strategies.

By doing so, you will be helping to provide America's voters with the 21st century civic tools and insights they need to take the logical next evolutionary step on the path toward true "civic" enlightenment -- and the electoral competence it gives birth to: namely, the ability to use the power of the ballot box to accomplish far more than just decide every two years which political party gets to control the U.S. House and/or Senate. But to also be able to use that power to achieve a clearly defined set of common, or shared, apolitical/non-ideological (ANI) objectives...

of which liberal, moderate, conservative and libertarian voters have many, they just don't know it (yet).

ANI-based objectives that, once achieved, will pave the path to America becoming what everyone will initially assume is impossible: an economic, financial, fiscal and societal neartopia -- i.e., a socially, culturally and racially cohesive democracy/ constitutional republic whose myriad of major systems (free market, healthcare, etc.) operate at their maximum humanly possible health, strength, efficiency, effectiveness, etc.

In conclusion:

For well over a century, the PI-based mantra among our liberal and conservative political class -- and their supporters among the intelligentsia -- has been:

Our two groups agree on the goals/destination for our country. What we disagree on is which PI path Congress should take to get us there: the Democratic/liberal or Republican/conservative.

Seen through the (21st century) lens of competent self-governance, what this new category of ANI-based ideas and concepts makes glaringly obvious is a larger, more meaningful -- and actionable at the ballot box -- civic truth:

So long as both political parties in Congress are overwhelmingly dominated by PAPs/PAPs it won't matter which legislative "path" Congress takes. The destination that path leads to will be light-years away from the EFFS neartopia that is easily achievable via the legislative process with a PKQ/PKQ-controlled Congress.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

RE: a PKQ/PKQ-controlled Congress.

A novel thought experiment will help you to start thinking about: 1) the selfless politics that will be the defining feature of a PKQ controlled Congress, and 2) the quality, scope, focus, objectives, etc. of legislation that selfless politics (or PKQ-based politics) will produce.

THOUGHT EXPERIMENT

Imagine that our 535 seat, 2 chamber Congress has been replaced by a 2 seat, 1 chamber Congress -- with one seat permanently reserved for a passionately liberal philosopher king, the other a passionately conservative philosopher queen (both of whom serve for no more than a few years as a one-time civic duty).

Initially, most of you won't be able to envision how two legislators with polar opposite, seemingly zero-sum governing philosophies -- e.g., government vs. free market solutions -- could agree on any legislative "solution" to any EFFS problem (extreme income inequality, for example), much less jointly fashion, then pass the extensive array of legislation (a multi-year, but not multi-decade, undertaking, by the way) that: 1) sizeable majorities of every political/ideological and demographic group would strongly support, and 2) would, for all intent and purposes, solve all of America's major EFFS problems -- many of them, completely and permanently.

For now, it suffices to say that our two PKQs would quickly realize that compromising near the half way point between their respective political/ideological (PI) positions/philosophies wouldn't even begin to address America's hundreds of major and semi-major EFFS problems -- not least because the stated policies advanced by our two real-life factions in Congress don't address even a miniscule fraction of our nation's EFFS problems.

Rather, our PKQs would have to come up with a radically new concept (which, fyi, only a PKQ could come up with). For now, let's call this concept the ANI-based legislative policy formulation process. Admittedly, it's a mouthful. But it will have to do until some enterprising political scientist (or poli-sci student, or wordsmith, or...) comes up with better nomenclature.

The thought process/justification for this new process is based on the fact that we have a primitive, or unsophisticated, or ignorance-based understanding of where America's myriad of EFFS problems actually came from -- or, if you will, what gave rise to them in the first place.

So, first things first, where did they NOT come from?

Short answer: PI factors, i.e., [Democratic, Republican, liberal, conservative] policies, legislation, etc.

(even though this goes against the passionately held views of hard core liberals and conservatives)

...but, rather, by a specific ANI factor -- in this case, a particular type of legislation and legislative provision unique to PAPs/PAPs:

Dysfunctionalizing legislation: any legislation that contains one or more provisions (hereafter referred to as, dysfunctionalizing provisions), or is written in its entirety, to advance the self-serving interests of the legislator(s) writing the legislation. (more detail later)

In other words, if we think of America's major systems like the systems of our body, then our EFFS problems can be thought of as the symptoms of our diseased, or dysfunctionalized, systems.

Furthermore, extending that analogy, if we think of each piece of legislation passed as a meal, then the dysfunctionalizing provisions can be thought of as processed sugars and trans fats. No one meal is going to lead to diabetes or heart disease or other chronic disease that these unhealthy additives cause in humans. But the cumulative effect of tens of thousands of sugar and trans fat laden meals over a period of decades will.

The important point is that our systems have become diseased, or dysfunctionalized, not as a result of a particular bill like, say, Obamacare...

fyi: which itself was simply a band-aid, albeit a large one, approach to dealing with a multitude of major symptoms of our already severely diseased or "dysfunctionalized" healthcare system

...but as a result of the accumulation of 60-100 years of dysfunctionalizing legislation/provisions, ironically, each one of which was no doubt ostensibly written at the time to "solve" one or more economic, financial, fiscal or societal problem(s) of the day.

FYI: from my cursory google search, since 1947 there have been in the neighborhood of 21,000 pieces of legislation (totaling 150,000 +/- pages) passed by Congress, and enacted into law. Over that time it's probably safe to assume that the lion's share of Congress' two political factions were legislators who could reasonably be defined as self-serving PAPs. Therefore it's probably safe to say that over that time frame there have been literally hundreds of thousands of self-serving provisions, e.g., riders, amendments, etc., inserted (often times surreptitiously) by Congress' 535 legislators into all of that legislation that, directly or indirectly, and however slightly, have/has impacted negatively on one or more of America's major systems.

The net result: a nation drowning in EFFS problems.

Importantly, drowning in EFFS problems -- not because of decades of liberalism, liberal policies, etc. as conservatives insist, or because of decades of conservativism, conservative policies, etc. as liberals insist -- but because of the steady deterioration of America's major systems from decades upon decades of dysfunctionalizing legislation/provisions.

 

 

.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
.

 

Statistically, roughly one million Americans possess the skill sets, governing qualities and selfless motives of a philosopher king or queen (PKQ) -- enough to keep Congress filled with liberal Democratic and conservative Republican PKQs (each serving in office for a few years "as a one-time duty") for the next eight thousand years.

.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

 

IN PICTURE FORM...
THE RATIONALE FOR A 21ST CENTURY CIVICS CURRICULUM:

Legislative solutions to all of America's EFFS problems can be crafted. Unfortunately, voters don't know how to identify then elect the kind of liberal Democratic and conservative Republican candidates to Congress who would be capable of crafting the legislation.

 

CONGRESS: BROKEN = AMERICA
DROWNING IN EFFS PROBLEMS

CONGRESS: NOT BROKEN = AMERICA
NOT DROWNING IN EFFS PROBLEMS

 
 

.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

8 major FAQs about competent self-governance (which, fyi, will forever change the way you think about how voters in a free society should practice democracy/self-governance):

Q: Is our understanding of human nature advanced enough that we have a pretty good idea of why, or what causes an otherwise decent person to begin thinking, acting and governing like a politically ambitious politician (PAP)?

examples of common "values," characteristics and behaviors of PAPs (whether liberal, conservative, Democratic or Republican):

  • VALUE: more concerned with one's own political career than doing what's in the best interest of the nation and people.
  • CHARACTERISTIC: demagoguery is as natural as breathing:
    • consistently blames the "other" political party, its policies, governing philosophy, unethical candidates, etc. for anything and everything that's wrong in America, while insisting that only his/her own political party, policies, governing philosophy, etc. is capable of solving them.
      • "if it's an economic, financial, fiscal, etc. problem, it's the fault of the other party!"
  • BEHAVIOR: instinctively resorts to rhetorical sleight of hand when and where necessary:
    • makes harmful truths sound like lies, and helpful lies sound like truths.
  • BEHAVIOR: supports easy -- i.e., popular with constituents -- but fiscally irresponsible policies, while opposing difficult -- i.e., unpopular with constituents -- but fiscally responsible policies.
    • a.k.a. sweeping the problem under the rug; kicking the problem down the road; etc.

A: Yes, our understanding of human nature is advanced enough that we have more than a pretty good idea, we have an excellent idea.

Q: For years, our mainstream good government organizations have been advocating a handful of "inside-the-box" remedies for fixing America's broken political system (i.e., Congress), e.g.:

  • campaign finance/ethics reform
  • overturning Citizens United
  • a lengthy (e.g., five years) waiting period before ex-politicians and political appointees can become lobbyists
  • term limits (as currently advocated).

Will any of these establishment approved fixes cause:

  1. voters to start electing PKQ-caliber candidates to Congress,

    OR

  2. the PAPs that voters overwhelmingly elect/re-elect to Congress every [two, six] years to begin thinking, acting or legislating like non-PAPs, i.e., philosopher kings and queens (PKQs)?

A: No, and no.

Q: Is our understanding of human nature advanced enough that we can design a fairly accurate "purity of motive" (POM) rating system that will allow voters to predict -- with a high degree of confidence -- who, if elected to Congress, will be more likely to think, act and govern like a PAP vs. who will, if elected to Congress, be more likely to think, act and govern like a PKQ?

A: Yes.

Q: Do we know enough to be able to also create a "capacity to govern" (CTG) rating system -- using standard (and non-standard) resume metrics like level of education/cognitive ability, area of expertise/profession, years of "life experience," etc. -- which can provide voters with an idea of who will likely be a highly capable legislator vs. who will not?

A: Yes.

Q: How many Americans possess the set of attributes, abilities and skills needed to receive high marks on both a CTG and POM rating system?

A: Approximately one million.

Q: What would a U.S. Congress controlled by PKQs/PKQs be able to do that a Congress controlled by PAPs/PAPs couldn't (in a million years)?

A: A PKQ/PKQ-controlled Congress would be able to perform all of its many duties, particularly EFFS problem-solving and government oversight, with the:

  • intelligence of an Einstein,
  • wisdom of a Solomon,
  • logic of a Mr. Spock,
  • ingenuity of a MacGyver,
  • foresight of a Steve Jobs,
  • compassion of a Mother Teresa, and
  • moral compass of a Martin Luther King, Jr.

Q: How many of America's major EFFS problems would a PKQ/PKQ-controlled Congress be able to solve.

A: For all intent and purposes, all of them -- in many cases, completely and permanently (via a radically new, ANI-based legislative policy formulation process).

Q: Given the corrupting effects that political power has on people, especially at the national level -- even on the most well-intentioned of us -- how would voters insure that the PKQs they elected to Congress never allowed that enormous power to turn them into PAPs -- which is to say, to corrupt their decision-making, policy formulation, legislation crafting, and government oversight (especially of the Executive Branch) responsibilities?

A: By doing something voters should have been doing all along: adhering faithfully to a policy of NOT "rewarding" their legislators in the U.S. House and Senate for doing a good job, even for doing a spectacular job, with a lifetime of rubber-stamp re-elections.

A heartfelt thank you for agreeing to serve in Congress for a few years as a one time civic duty: OF COURSE.

A respectable, but not outrageous, lifetime stipend: PROBABLY.

Repeated re-election: ABSOLUTELY NOT.

Meaning, the only thing our voters will have to do to "fix" the single-most vexing problem that has confounded democracies throughout history -- i.e.,

PAP-controlled national legislatures

...is make sure that every PKQ-rated candidate running for Congress (or agreeing to run) (or arm-twisted into running by local community groups and organizations -- a.k.a. civic arm-twisting) knows in advance that, if elected, they will be serving in office for a few years as a one-time civic duty -- and no longer.

Period. No ifs, ands or buts.

Any PKQ attempting to convince his/her constituents that she "deserved" to be re-elected beyond her allotted few years would constitute prima facie proof that this PKQ had succumbed to the corrupting elixir of (political) power.

.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

 

"If you control the language, you control the argument."
George Orwell

"...the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us
to have foolish thoughts."
George Orwell

"Change your language and you change your thoughts."
Karl Albrecht

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Some examples of ANI-based language -- that, fyi, STOP being "impossible" civic/self-governance ideas and objectives when Congress STOPS being controlled by self-serving, politically ambitious politicians:

  • PKQ-controlled Congress
  • PKQ-governed democracy
  • optimizing legislation
  • systems optimization --> as in: an optimized:
    • free market system
    • federal tax system
    • healthcare system
    • public education system
    • criminal justice system
    • mental health system
    • etc.
  • economic, financial, fiscal and societal (EFFS) neartopia
  • PAP-controlled Congress
  • PAP-governed democracy
  • dysfunctionalizing legislation
  • systems dysfunctionalization
  • EFFS dystopia
  • capacity to govern (CTG) rating system
  • purity of motive (POM) rating system
 

.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

we should start calling the democratic process
the self-governance process

.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

The ultimate goal is to see, minimally, a critical mass of our electorate begin relying on three major ANI factors, or considerations, to dictate which potential U.S. House and Senate candidates are desirable/acceptable vs. undesirable/unacceptable:

1.

There exists a category of ANI-based legislative policies -- i.e., neither 100% Democratic, 100% Republican, 100% liberal or 100% conservative -- that, were Congress to craft and enact them into law, would have the practical effect of "solving" America's major EFFS problems -- in many cases, completely and permanently.

2. There exists a "category" of liberal Democratic and conservative Republican legislators -- a.k.a. PKQs -- who are truly selfless (i.e., not motivated by political ambition, powerlust, or other self-serving interests) -- and, therefore, capable of easily crafting and enacting ANI-based legislation (a.k.a. optimizing legislation).

aside: and, as we are painfully aware, there exists a category of self-serving liberal Democratic and conservative Republican legislators who are extremely politically ambitious and/or power hungry,

a.k.a. PAPs

...which makes them utterly incapable of crafting or enacting optimizing legislation.

3. The "swamp" in Washington that the American people want so desperately to see drained -- because they see it either as a major contributor to America's EFFS woes, or as the major obstacle to solving them, or both:
  1. has a precise location: the Capitol building (i.e., Congress**),
    and,
  2. can only be "drained" by voters (at the ballot box) --> and, as a practical matter, only in the primary process.

**Stated in actionable terms, the swamp that the American people, and:

    • good government organizations, and
    • Hollywood political activists, and
    • billionaire philanthropists, and
    • political personalities, thinkers, analysts, etc.:
      • Rush Limbaugh, and
      • Sean Hannity, and
      • Rachel Maddow, and
      • Van Jones, and
      • David Brooks, and
      • Thomas Friedman, and
      • etc., etc., etc.

... find so detestable and disheartening is a Congress dominated overwhelmingly by a "class" of legislators who our nation's voters have been electing (then repeatedly re-electing) for generations.

Q: What sets this class of legislators apart from the rest of society?

A: With exceedingly rare exception, these legislators come from the "BAD" end of a specific population distribution curve.

These legislators are, for the most part, a well meaning lot. Most of them almost certainly believe that the "ideological" crusade (i.e., liberal vs. conservative) they are waging in Congress is a worthwhile battle, with each side believing they and their governing philosophy are both on the side of the angels.

Unfortunately, both sides' lust for national legislative office is greater than their desire to do what is in the best interest of their nation. And therein lies, in a nutshell, the true breeding ground of ALL of America's major EFFS problems; the root cause of our nation's EFFS misery.

 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The above distribution curve illustrates what should be (but isn't) political philosophy's greatest "civic" mystery going all the way back to the time of Aristotle:

Why have free societies around the world -- past and present -- never learned how to define, locate, arm-twist and elect legislators from the GOOD end to serve, minimally, in their national legislatures?

ANOTHER CIVIC (OR ANI) OBSERVATION RE: THE DISTRIBUTION CURVE: As a free people, we don't remind ourselves often enough that the "swamp" is actually a metaphor for the terribly unethical things that politically ambitious and/or power hungry politicians are willing to do (or not do), legislatively, to get repeatedly re-elected to Congress. It is this, in a manner of speaking, civic blind spot, on our society's part that explains why our national media, good government organizations, concerned citizens, etc. focus entirely on inside-the-PI-box "solutions," e.g., campaign finance reform, overturning Citizens United, etc. -- even though these establishment devised "remedies" will do little to drain the swamp.

Q: Why not include K Street (i.e., lobbyists) in the swamp?

A: Because, viewed through the lens of effective self-governance, the manifestly greater of two acts of political corruption rests with:

a. those whose lust for high political office is so great, they are willing to sell "political" favors,

and not with...

b. those who are willing (or "forced") to buy them.

Forced, because, as is often the case, American businesses, organizations and industries are pressured by the politician(s) in Congress into paying for "protection" or exemption from (pending) punitive legislation and/or legislative provisions.

.

BOTTOM LINE re: the SWAMP

Not to beat a dead horse, but the swamp can easily be drained at the ballot box. However, in order for our 140 million democratic, independent, republican and libertarian voters to accomplish that highly desirable ANI objective -- which almost all 140 million of them would love to see happen, they just don't know how to do it -- they must first have the ability to see self-governance through an ANI, or self-governance, lens.

Q: How many of America's 140 million voters can be taught to view self-governance through that new lens?

A: Ninety percent or more -- and this web site provides the ANI-based nomenclature, narrative, graphics -- and impetus -- needed to make it happen.

.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

A SIDE BY SIDE GRAPHIC COMPARISON OF THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INCOMPETENT VS. COMPETENT SELF-GOVERNANCE...

AND THE CENTRAL ROLE LANGUAGE PLAYS IN BOTH CASES.

 

INCOMPETENT SELF-GOVERNANCE

Voters see the democratic process AND the means by which America's EFFS problems are solved through a PI lens.

RESUlT: voters continue keeping Congress filled with PAPs/PAPs.

2 votes, 1 objective = the PI Model

COMPETENT SELF-GOVERNANCE

Voters see the democratic process AND the means by which America's EFFS problems are solved through a ANI lens.

RESULT: voters begin keeping Congress
filled with PKQs/PKQs.

2 votes, 2 objectives = the ANI Model
 

.

The take away from these two lens:

When left- and right-of-center voters are taught (or learn) how to identify, locate, arm-twist, then elect PKQ candidates in the Democratic and Republican primaries, America as most of us have always known it, a nation plagued by EFFS problems, will quickly become a vestige of our pre-ANI Model era.

.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

IF HUMANITY'S HISTORY RE: BAD IDEAS IS A GUIDE,

HUMANITY WILL SOON BE ADDING A NEW CATEGORY TO THE LIST...

 

 

 

"Power is such a dangerous thing that ideally it should be wielded by people who don't want to use power, who would rather be doing something else, but who are willing to serve a certain number of years as a one-time duty, preferably at the end of a career doing something else." Thomas Sowell [underline added]
.

History tells us that bad ideas tend to (eventually) be discarded when their good idea counterparts come along.

That's great news for democracy, especially American democracy -- assuming, of course, civic ideas aren't exempt from the good ideas rule -- because it means the question isn't if, but when will our political science and civics teachers replace America's current civics curriculum (fyi: whose core concepts were developed in the 18th century) with a vastly improved, 21st century curriculum.

.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

ThinkCIVIC's main argument is that, ultimately, Congress' failure/inability to solve our nation's myriad of major EFFS problems -- problems our current and previous Congresses are responsible for causing, creating or exacerbating in the first place -- can be traced back to the 18th century "model" of self-governance our voters have been using to "practice" democracy since, well, the 18th century, a model that was only barely adequate in the 18th and 19th century. But it was notably inadequate in 20th century America, and has been woefully inadequate in 21st century America, because, expressed in cause-and-effect terms, that model is responsible for producing, election cycle after election cycle, Congresses dominated by mostly well-meaning -- but also unaccountable, fiscally irresponsible, corrupted-by-power, kick America's EFFS-problems can down the road, etc. -- legislators.

The civics curriculum our political science and civics teachers use is designed around that flawed 18th century model (hereafter referred to as the PI Model of Self-Governance).

What our students should be learning in civics is how a free society's left- and right-of-center voters can use the ballot box in the primary process to achieve their shared, mutually beneficial* ANI objectives (I call this form of ballot box-based voter cooperation in the primary process: making ANI love).

*mutually beneficial because of the (literally jaw-dropping) EFFS benefits which will accompany that ANI-based voting/self-governance strategy (see following two PW questions).

 

.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

 
practice democracy (or practice self-governance): to actively engage in one or more of the three processes of self-governance:
  1. pre-primary process: candidate search, screening, selection, etc.
    • MOST IMPORTANT OF THE THREE PROCESSES.
    • only an infinitesimally small percentage of voters involve themselves in it.
    • currently occurs almost entirely under everyone's radar, even the media's.
  2. primary process
    • second most important process.
    • in recent history especially, treated/used by voters much like professional football uses the college draft -- to field ideological combatants who will face each other in the general election.
    • only a relatively small percentage of voters cast ballots in the primaries, especially in: 1) non-presidential election cycles, and 2) "safe" congressional districts.
  3. general election
    • treated like the Super Bowl event of the NLEP.
    • least important of the processes, in terms of voters having the ability at the ballot box to insure that, regardless of which candidate is elected -- the liberal Democrat or the conservative Republican -- he or she will have the purity of motive (POM) needed to craft and enact ANI-based legislation (a.k.a. optimizing legislation).
    • receives lion's share of attention from voters, media, intelligentsia, etc..


 

 

The following four questions constitute phase 1 (of 2) of an extremely difficult mental task: switching** the region of your brain devoted to higher order (self-governance) thinking from inside-the-box to outside-the-box (OTB) problem-solving mode.

   
1. How many bills have been passed in Congress over the last 80 years (= 40 sessions) that have had an impact (either for the better or for the worse) on America's myriad of EFFS problems? Hundreds? Thousands? Tens of thousands?
.
2.

How many individual provisions were inserted into all of those bills by Congress' members over that span of time?

(40 sessions of Congress x total # of bills =)

Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands?
.

3.

Is it reasonable to posit the following?

Notwithstanding the fact that there are any number of factors that affect America's overall EFFS health at any given point in time that are beyond the control of Congress -- America's overall EFFS health has been slowly but steadily deteriorating, in recent years especially, because:

IF you add up all of the bills and provisions passed in the last 40 sessions of Congress that ended up causing more EFFS harm than good,

THEN add up all of those that produced more EFFS good than harm,

...the number that caused more net harm outweighs (by many factors, if not magnitudes) the number that produced more net good.

4.

Is it reasonable to posit the following?

  • legislation crafted and/or provisions inserted by legislators who are self-serving, politically ambitious, power hungry politicians are far more likely to produce greater net EFFS harm than good,
    while
  • legislation crafted/provisions inserted by legislators who don't have a self-serving, politically ambitious or power hungry bone in their body are much more likely to produce more net EFFS good than harm.

Phase 2: here are several ANI-based (and therefore OTB) terms and concepts which, taken together, should (in theory) give birth to the OTB problem solving idea being advanced on this site -- i.e., competent self-governance.

1. Dysfunctionalizing legislation: any legislation that contains one or more provisions (hereafter referred to as, dysfunctionalizing provisions), or is written in its entirety, to advance the self-serving interests of the legislator(s) writing the legislation.

Dysfunctionalizing legislation is legislation that, either whole or in part, is written to:

  • appease, reward, or "addict" to government largesse, a legislator's clique of favored special interest, vested interest or political interest group(s).
    • a.k.a.: special interest cronyism, vested interest cronyism and political cronyism (i.e., patronage).

  • punish one or more of the other political party's clique of special, vested or political interest groups.

  • increase the legislator's political power, or strengthen his or her grip on power.

  • increase the legislator's chances of re-election.

  • increase the legislator's (currently out of power) party's chances of becoming the majority party in the next election cycle, OR

  • increase the likelihood that the legislator's (currently in power) party remains the majority party.

 

FYI: the following graphic will help you to visualize what 80+ years of dysfunctionalizing legislation has done to just a few of America's "systems."

note: Churchill used the term, "private enterprise," instead of capitalism or free market system

 

ALTERNATE ANALOGY FOR DYSFUNCTIONALIZING PROVISIONS/LEGISLATION

Think of dysfunctionalizing provisions as trans fats and processed sugars added to otherwise healthy foods, and whose damaging effects manifest themselves only after decades/generations of "consumption," in the form of chronic diseases (i.e., EFFS problems).

 

  FYI: the opposite of dysfunctionalizing legislation is optimizing legislation.

 

2. EFFS Dystopia: a nation whose EFFS problems have become so numerous and/or severe, they pose an existential threat to the nation.

3. EFFS Neartopia: a nation as close to 100% EFFS problem-free as it is humanly possible (given the many shortcomings of humans) to be.

4. The PI Theory of System Dysfunctionalization

Quick primer...

  IF we think of America's systems: ...like we think of the systems of our body:
 
  • free market system
  • federal tax system
  • healthcare system
  • public education system
  • post-secondary ed. system
  • criminal justice system
    • prison system
  • legal system
  • welfare system
  • mental health system
  • etc.
  • cardiovascular system
  • respiratory system
  • muscular system
  • nervous system
  • immune system
  • skeletal system
  • etc.

And IF we make a statistically valid (and commonsensical) assumption:

  • optimizing legislation will tend to make systems healthier,
    while
  • dysfunctionalizing legislation will tend to make systems unhealthier.

It THEN becomes possible to think about our nation's EFFS problems the way the American people (not to mention, America's "good government" elites) should have been thinking about them for at least the last several decades: not as discrete problems, per se, but as intertwined constellations of symptoms of America's "diseased," or dysfunctionalized, systems.

FYI: which means, optimize the systems (via ANI-based, optimizing legislation) and the EFFS "symptoms" disappear.

With that short primer on systems dysfunctionalization and optimization behind you...

The PI Theory, which is the theory the mainstream of our society (unknowingly) subscribes to -- for just one reason: the mainstream of our political thinkers going back centuries have (unknowingly) subscribed to it -- says that the "pathogen" responsible for the dysfunctionalization of our nation's systems is a flawed governing philosophy -- either liberalism or conservatism depending on one's political/ideological views.

In terms every liberal and conservative political junkie can understand:

Liberal voters (and to a lesser extent, left-of-center voters) EITHER view conservatism -- i.e., conservative policies, reforms, legislation, etc. -- as the disease responsible for America's EFFS ills, OR they view liberalism as the cure, or BOTH... while conservative and right-of-center voters see it the other way around.

aside: it's well worth observing George Orwell's dictum at work here -- namely, that our society's PI-based, or PI-centric, language severely constricts, and therefore misshapes and controls our voters' thoughts, which misshapes and controls their PI views and values, which, in turn, dictates their counterproductive voting decisions at the ballot box.

aside: why counterproductive? Because, at the end of every election cycle, voters discover that they have, once again, managed to fill Congress to overflowing with self-serving, politically ambitious/power hungry politicians.

FYI: conversely, an ANI-based lexicon will enable voters to see with 20/20 clarity -- on one hand, the logic flaws inherent in the PI Theory, and on the other hand, the logical basis of the PI Theory's (knowledge-based) counterpart: the ANI Theory...

5. The ANI Theory of System Dysfunctionalization

The ANI Theory says that the pathogen responsible for the dysfunctionalization has nothing to do with a flawed political ideology, or governing philosophy, and everything to do with the combination of two human flaws: political ambition and powerlust -- both of which have, certainly in America's case, manifested or expressed themselves in the form of thousands of dysfunctionalizing bills crafted and passed, and hundreds of thousands of dysfunctionalizing provisions inserted, over a period of decades, generations -- in some cases, centuries -- by both of Congress' two factions of politically ambitious/power hungry legislators.

6. Principle of Systems Optimization:

I. Every system over which the federal government has statutory or regulatory authority is optimizable via ANI-based legislation (i.e., technical, data/knowledge-driven legislation), and, once optimized, will produce extraordinarily beneficial EFFS outcomes that large majorities of every political/ideological and demographic group will deem highly desirable and strongly support.

II. Only a national legislature controlled by non-self-serving, non-politically ambitious, non-power hungry legislators has the collective purity of motive (POM) needed to craft and enact optimizing legislation.

 

 
TWO KEY FACTS RE: DYSFUNCTIONALIZED VS. OPTIMIZED FREE MARKET SYSTEMS
  • It is extremely easy for unethical individuals to make money via unethical means in a dysfunctionalized free market system because the rules of the game that govern the system's operation have been written:
    1. by legislators who are self-serving and/or politically ambitious and/or power hungry politicians, and
    2. usually behind closed doors, and without the knowledge or consent of the governed.

  • It is extremely difficult for unethical individuals to make money via unethical means in an optimized free market system because the rules of the game that govern the system's operation have been written:
    1. by legislators who are NOT self-serving, politically ambitious, power hungry politicians, and
    2. in public, and with the involvement and consent of the governed.

.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

Another way to think about the PI Theory of SysDys

Two myths parents tell their children: The baby myth, and the PI/PI myth
.

CHILD: Mommy, where did I come from?
LIBERAL PARENT: Well, Sweetie, when you were just a tiny baby, you were delivered to your Mommy and Daddy by a stork.
CONSERVATIVE PARENT: Well, Sweetie, when you were just a tiny baby, you were delivered to your Mommy and Daddy by a stork.
   
CHILD: Mommy, where did America's EFFS problems come from?
LIBERAL PARENT: Well, Sweetie, they came from those mean ol' Republicans in Congress, and their decades of heartless conservative policies.
CONSERVATIVE PARENT: Well, Sweetie, they came from those nitwit Democrats in Congress, and their decades of brainless liberal policies.

Clearly, these parents' explanations are oversimplified. But they sum up not just the strong belief, but the passionate belief, of probably 60% of our society's voters (and another 30% who somewhat agree) that one of our major political parties represents, for the most part, the "good" guys, and their governing philosophy the "good" political ideology.

And of course, the other party is the "bad" guys, and their political ideology/governing philosophy the bad ideology/philosophy.

Fortunately for America's EFFS future, America's liberal and conservative parents are both wrong in their analyses. But understanding why requires developing new theories which can explain where America's EFFS problems actually come from.

This civic education effort should be job #1 for our nation's political scientists and civics teachers -- assuming they're interested in seeing America's parents stop telling their children these catastrophically counterproductive civic myths.

This is what our parents should be telling their inquisitive children...

CHILD: Mommy, where did America's EFFS problems come from?
PARENT/PARENT: Well, Sweetie, they came from America's voters always using the PI Model to elect their members of Congress.
CHILD: PI Model...?
PARENT/PARENT: Yes, Sweetie, the PI Model. That's the model that guarantees Congress will always be dominated and controlled by two factions of self-serving, politically ambitious, power hungry politicians caught up in a neverending, all consuming, all's-fair-in-love-and-political-war POWER STRUGGLE -- a great deal of which is solely for power's sake.

.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

A special note:

The ANI Model of Self-Governance, and the theory it is based on, both run counter to our nation's prevailing political/ideological (PI) orthodoxy -- and, as most of us know, knowledge that undermines long standing orthodoxies tends to be rejected by the "establishment" (i.e., anyone with a vested or economic interest in maintaining the status quo/existing power structure).

This suggests that the initial reaction of a substantial number of today's established political scientists -- but especially professional political analysts and consultants in media, PI-based think tanks and elsewhere -- will be to reject this new theory's tenets, lexicon, validity, relevance, feasibility, etc..

That doesn't mean you have to. After all, the ANI model isn't just about a new way to practice democracy. It's about vastly improving the quality of life of an entire nation's people.

And not marginally, mind you, but profoundly...

 

 

That prospect should be of especial interest to those of you who are members of America's youngest generations, since, of all our nation's demographic groups, it will be yours who will face the most difficult and uncertain of futures if America's political/ideological status quo remains unchanged.

..
* * * * * * * * * * * *

 

ABOUT PAPs: (pandering, self-serving) politically ambitious politicians
.

We can go back decades, generations, even centuries, and it is obvious that not every policy pursued, or legislation passed, by America's PAP-controlled Congresses have: 1) been for self-serving reasons, or 2) resulted in bad outcomes for America.

However, the legislative good done by PAPs is not the issue at hand. It's the legislative harm they've done -- not by any one piece of legislation, or by one party, or by any single session of Congress -- but by all of the harmful legislation and provisions passed by both parties in every session of Congress going back decades, generations, even centuries.

.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

ABOUT America's pool of potential PKQ candidates

If we confine ourselves to America's talented tenth* -- i.e., the top 10% of Americans in terms of intelligence, education, general knowledge, "preparatory" life experience and accomplishments -- then, statistically, there are well over one million Americans who are PKQ caliber candidates. That's roughly eight thousand years worth of (truly civic-minded) men and women, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans who would be more than capable of serving effectively, productively, selflessly and honestly in Congress.

* talented tenth is a term coined by 20th century scholar and civil rights activist, W.E.B. Du Bois

Q: What will PKQs/PKQs -- who know up front that they will only be serving in Congress for a few years -- be able to do that is impossible for PAPs/PAPs to do?

A: In philosophical terms, as a group, PKQs will be able to collectively govern with the intelligence of an Einstein, wisdom of a Solomon, logic of a Mr. Spock, problem solving abilities of a Sherlock Holmes, ingenuity of a MacGyver, foresight of a Steve Jobs, compassion of a Mother Teresa, and moral compass of a Martin Luther King, Jr.

Legislatively, PKQs will be able to craft, then pass, a new category of bold, far-reaching, game-changing legislation (let's call this new kind of legislation, optimizing legislation) -- which is crafted using a radically new, ANI-based approach to policy formulation -- which, as it turns out, is the formulation process legislators must use to accomplish a radically new, ANI-based policy objective or agenda: systems optimization --

FYI: systems optimization will largely eliminate:

  • bureaucratic inefficiency, ineffectiveness, dishonesty, (illegal) corruption, etc.
  • (legal) corruption (courtesy of our PAP-controlled/dominated Congress):
    • special interest cronyism
    • corporate/vested interest cronyism
    • political cronyism (i.e., political patronage).

.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

ABOUT systems integration

As you might guess, systems integration means integrating two or more systems -- when and where needed. A good example: integrating our public education, welfare, criminal justice and mental heath systems in order to accomplish a societal objective that the vast mainstream of our society deems highly desirable, e.g., breaking the cycles of crime, violence, social pathologies, etc..

.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

 

A KEY QUESTION RE: SELF-GOVERNANCE...

This question bears directly on our society's largely non-existent understanding of the process of effective self-governance. My guess is that the outside-the-box thinkers among you will find them thought provoking, but not so much for the inside-the-box thinkers among you.

GIVEN the number and severity of EFFS problems that exist in present day America -- solely because PAPs have dominated and controlled both parties in Congress for well over the last century,

...IF you take the time to consider what America would almost certainly look like, today, if PKQs had dominated and controlled both of those factions over that same time period (think: EFFS "neartopia"), WHY, in your view, did it never occur to our best and brightest political thinkers and philosophers to, at some point, simply start teaching America's voters an extremely easy to teach, extremely easy to learn civic skill: namely, how to keep the U.S. House and Senate permanently filled with a steady supply of liberal, moderate, conservative, etc. PKQs?

HINT: contrary to what you might think, it isn't because our intelligentsia simply concluded, "Why bother! America's voters are incapable of competent self-governance. They're too stupid, too naive, too uninformed, too apathetic, and especially too greedy."** (aside: even though most of our cognitive elite in academia, media, think tanks, etc. will probably give exactly that response when first confronted with this question.)

** while it is true that most voters have some, maybe even most, of the above undesirable attributes, 99% of our electorate is more than capable of learning how to practice democracy competently. More importantly, once voters understand what an EFFS neartopia is, they will be more than willing to learn.

No, the ANI solution -- i.e., undertaking a national "competent self-governance" awareness and education campaign -- has simply never occurred to our best and brightest political thinkers.

Why hasn't it?

Because, for generations, our B&B have been far too absorbed in their erudite peers' centuries-old, "My governing philosophy is better than your governing philosophy" intellectual pissing contest.

So absorbed that, at no time has it ever occurred to them that if they simply started teaching voters how to keep Congress filled with liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans who didn't have a politically ambitious, power hungry or self-serving bone in their body, it wouldn't matter which party controlled Congress (in terms of dealing with America's EFFS problems) because liberal and conservative PKQs would be forced by sheer necessity -- not to mention simple logic and moral decency -- to solve, not most, but all of those problems via a new, ANI-based (i.e., neither liberal nor conservative) policy formulation process called systems optimization.

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* * * * * * * * * * * *

About Knowledge-Based Self-Governance Tools

(note: this passage is being rewritten for clarity reasons)

In order to achieve mastery of this new civic skill, competent self-governance, America's voters will have to begin practicing democracy using two new and highly effective

self-governance tools

...which voters will begin using when a critical mass of them are able to wrap their brain around a new category of "truths" -- civic, or ANI, truths -- beginning with the most fundamental civic truth:

The theory/belief that one governing philosophy's solutions solves all EFFS problems is a flawed, ignorance-based theory.

FYI: as is the assumption that, for Congress to begin solving our major EFFS problems, our two parties must begin "compromising" -- presumably ending up half way between a Democratic solution (i.e., government solution) and a Republican solution (i.e., free market solution).

Here's a more roundabout way to state that fundamental truth:

  • The kind of policies that PAPs/PAPs advocate, and the legislation they craft to "address" America's major EFFS problems: 1) couldn't be more different, and 2) are either whack-a-mole legislation -- i.e., solves some, but creates other, EFFS problems -- or won't actually solve any of them, but merely kick them down the road.

  • The kind of policies that PKQs/PKQs advocate, and the legislation they craft to "solve" America's major EFFS problems: 1) will be essentially identical, and 2) will actually solve them, in many cases, completely and permanently.
 

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Ideological absolutism: the view that one political ideology/governing philosophy -- i.e., the superior one -- fits/solves all EFFS problems...

and, therefore, should dictate how every EFFS problem is solved by Congress.

That's the official view of our Democratic and Republican PAPs in Congress (and their supporters among our electorate and in academia, media, etc.) -- and explains why the two camps can't find common ground on the legislative solution to any EFFS problem.

Here's the brain exploding part:

This view is a myth because, in actuality, it's the other way around.

If we posit that most EFFS problems consist of many discrete but interrelated moving parts (or sub-problems), then the most correct view of how to achieve what political philosophers have been arguing about for centuries:

the greatest good for the greatest number of people,

...is to take as a given that the nature of each EFFS problem's subproblem(s) dictates which ideological approach is taken.

Stated differently -- and, again, bearing in mind that all of our major systems (as well as all of our major EFFS problems) are made up of a great many moving parts...

The optimizing legislation that optimizes either a specific moving part, or a group of parts, of a dysfunctionalized system will almost always be a distinctly government (i.e., liberal) solution or a distinctly free-market (i.e., conservative/libertarian) solution depending on the unique nature of the specific EFFS problem the dysfunctionalized system caused, created or exacerbated in the first place.

Let's use our healthcare system, and made up percentages, to help make sense of what you just read:

If the vast majority of the American people want a healthcare system that's capable of providing the highest quality of sustained healthcare to the greatest number of people at the lowest possible cost to individual patients, the general public and taxpayers, then our healthcare system is going to have to be optimized.

To do that, 90-95% of our HC system's moving parts will need to be exposed to 100% of the cost lowering, quality increasing forces of an (optimized) free market system. As a practical matter, none of those moving parts will have, for the most part, any government control or involvement (above and beyond what every business in a free market system has).

In other words, the federal government will not be able to tell America's doctors, hospitals, clinics, etc. what they can or cannot do, nor what they must or must not do.

On the other hand, the remaining 5-10%, while also being exposed to free market forces, will have, as a practical matter, 100% government control/involvement.

Re: Medicare and Medicaid:

Our retirees will still have Medicare, and our poor will still have Medicaid, and both programs will still be guaranteed and underwritten by the federal government. But the dictatorial control of Washington over the healthcare system (exerted via a vast and intrusive labyrinth of dysfunctionalizing regulations) will end -- and be replaced by dictatorial control over 5-10% of the HC system, but exerted via a non-vast, non-labyrinth of optimized regulations.

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Two self-governance tools (SGT):

SGT-1:

A short check-off list of ANI criteria which can easily and accurately determine who is a highly desirable vs. highly undesirable candidate for Congress.

 

(fyi: much of this can be accomplished via a civic app)

  highly desirable highly undesirable
 
  • intelligent, well educated, knowledgeable,
    AND
  • capable of synthesizing large amounts of complex data and information,
    AND
  • old enough to have accumulated:
    • a considerable amount of life experience (i.e., the source of wisdom, sound judgment, etc.), plus
    • a respectable level of financial success in life,
      AND
  • possesses demonstrated leadership and decision making qualities,
    AND
  • has never served in elected office.
  • lacks one or more items from HIGHLY DESIRABLE list,

    OR

  • currently serves, or formerly served, in local, state or national elected office,

    OR

  • wants to make a career in politics.
SGT-2:

A pre-primary candidate selection strategy, and process, complete with a number of never before used candidate recruitment tactics which, in particular, local community** groups and organizations in all 435 congressional districts will begin heavily relying on: e.g., begging, pestering, social media peer pressuring -- and, when all else fails, civic drafting (a.k.a. PKQ drafting).

** OBSERVATION: every district's civic and other groups are perfectly suited to be our nation's "unofficial" go-to PKQ candidate identifiers -- but especially our PKQ recruiters. Their members are the volunteers and doers of our nation, the ones who actually make things happen (meaning, they are the ones who make both civic, and civil, societies possible).

The first tool will insure that voters are able to easily identify liberal democrats, conservative republicans, libertarians, etc. who possess the skill sets, attributes and selfless motives needed to be extraordinarily effective legislators. The pre-primary candidate selection strategy/process will insure that these highly desirable individuals -- who, almost to a person, wouldn't normally agree to run for any elected office, much less for national legislative office, even if you paid them handsomely -- will be compelled by a sense of civic obligation to run. The three most powerful inducements for running:

1.

Individuals selected via this process will NOT have to a) spend nearly a year of their life on the campaign trail...

Why not? Short answer: 1) the wide variety of social media venues now available to our (social media savvy) society will make it possible for a PKQ candidate to communicate in real time with a group, or congressional district, or state, or nation (or planet) as easily as communicating with someone standing right in front of them, and 2) once they have been taught how to think: CIVIC, civically enlightened voters (CEVs) will not need to go to campaign rallies to be motivated to vote.

...nor b) spend any of their time trying to convince voters that their primary opponent(s), then general election opponent(s):

  • have unethical pasts,
  • can't be trusted,
  • are unfit for office,
  • won't work as hard for their constituents as you will,
  • will support ineffective and/or harmful policies once in Congress,
  • will be beholden to the special interests,
  • etc.

    fyi: although, if their opponent(s) are PAPs or PAP wannabes, some of the above will be 100% true.
2.

If elected to Congress, the PKQs will only have to serve for a few years as a one-time civic duty. In fact, under no circumstances will voters allow them to serve longer than a few years...*

* because CEVs understand that the longer even well-meaning legislators are allowed to wield political power -- particularly at the national level -- the more corrupted and self-serving they become because of it.

But in that few years, these PKQs will be able to join with what will almost certainly be a veto-proof majority of similarly selfless (liberal and conservative) legislators and start doing what only truly selfless legislators with ZERO political aspirations can do: begin actually solving America's myriad of major EFFS problems -- in many cases, completely and permanently.

IMPORTANT CONCEPTUAL POINT: Not by solving the problems, per se, but by crafting legislation that will cause said problems to "wither on the vine."

Once our PKQs have put in their time, it will be back to their private lives.

And the reward for performing their civic duty?

At a minimum, 1) a significant, but not outrageous, life-time stipend, 2) an almost indescribable sense of self-satisfaction (which will also last a lifetime), 3) the heartfelt gratitude of their nation, and 4) the immense pride and respect their family, friends and community will have in, and for, them.

3.

While serving in Congress, the candidate will not have to spend even one minute of their time:

  • raising campaign contributions -- i.e., begging for money from wealthy people -- for their re-election bid,
  • trying to convince the public that the other party is dishonest, beholden to the special interests, etc.,
  • making unethical backroom deals with self-serving pols,
  • pretending to be an all-knowing expert on every issue,
  • etc.

fyi: In short, while in office, these PKQs will actually be making a difference. A huge difference. (When you find out what systems optimization will accomplish, you'll understand just how huge.)

These two new self-governance tools will forever change the way campaigns for Congress are run, e.g., the end of negative campaigning and personal attack ads.

They will also be responsible for producing a veritable cornucopia of beneficial "civic" outcomes -- for example, our system of checks and balances between the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branches will be restored to their proper relationship. Meaning, we will see the end of both: 1) the "imperial presidency," which is the term used to describe a U.S. presidency that exerts manifestly more power than the Constitution allows, and 2) the anti-democratic "power" malalignment that, in the last several decades especially, has become inordinately severe:

Democratic President, Democrats in Congress, liberal Supreme Court judges

versus

Republican President, Republicans in Congress, conservative Supreme Court judges

Another notable, and predictable, change: once in office, the PKQ's work day, work habits -- and work ethic -- will look nothing like that of a career politician. In fact, we will quickly discover that PKQs will be able to perform much of their two primary duties: 1) crafting optimizing legislation and 2) government oversight -- particularly of the Executive Branch -- on a part-time basis*.

* consider how little of a typical PAP's day/week/month is actually spent actively engaged in these two duties.

(Civics teachers should love this) Civic engagement will skyrocket -- especially with, but not limited to, PKQ caliber adults (and students). Meaning (among many, many things), Americans who would never pay attention to the goings-on of the legislative process in Congress will become interested and, in many cases, involved.

Two more notable outcomes:

  • "clean" bills that deal with specific issues or matters will become the norm, and two thousand page bills will go the way of the dinosaur
  • Congress will stop governing via regulation, and return to its original constitutional responsibility/role: governing via laws/legislation.

Here's a probable outcome that will be the most controversial -- but (justly or unjustly) also the most satisfying to voters:

Congress will quickly become lawyer-free because the consensus among our intelligentsia (and voters) will be that lawyers should not be allowed to serve because of their inherent conflict of interest -- i.e.,

  • more laws = more work for lawyers;
  • fewer laws = less work for lawyers;
  • simple, straightforward, commonsense laws = fewer lawsuits = less need for lawyers;
  • complex, convoluted laws = more lawsuits = greater need for lawyers.

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Q: Since PKQs are not "professional" politicians, how can a Congress controlled by "amateurs" possibly run a nation as large and complex as America?

A: PKQs aren't "amateurs" and Congress doesn't "run" America. Our nation is "run" by tens of millions of Americans distributed throughout:

  • dozens of major federal agencies
  • 50 fully functioning state governments
  • thousands of county, city and other government bodies, and
  • millions of:
    • businesses
    • community and social organizations
    • school boards, churches
    • charities, etc.

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NOTE TO POLITICAL SCIENTISTS: The conventional wisdom that a legislature of non-career pols will end up being manipulated and controlled (to the detriment of the people) by a well entrenched professional bureaucracy might apply in times past. But, in the Internet Age -- and with PKQs permanently wielding the reins of political power -- we are all going to be pleasantly surprised by how helpful both: 1) artificial intelligence -- i.e., IBM's Watson, Apple's Siri, etc., and 2) professional (and non-patronage-based) bureaucrats will be to PKQs.

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* * * * * * * * * * * *

FOOD FOR "CIVIC" THOUGHT:

PI-based language pits voters against voters.

examples of PI-based code words:

    • liberal/progressive "values"
    • conservative "values"
    • government solutions
    • free market solutions
    • limited government
    • economic justice
    • paying one's "fair" share
    • etc.

 

ANI-based language unites voters/voters against PAPs/PAPs.

examples of ANI-based code words:

    • PKQ
    • optimizing legislation
    • systems optimization
    • civic drafting
    • extreme civic makeover
    • making civic love
    • EFFS neartopia
    • etc.

 

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* * * * * * * * * * * *

FOOD FOR THOUGHT (and reason for extreme optimism): if just half of Bernie Sanders' anti-establishment, anti-politician supporters, and half of Donald Trump's anti-establishment, anti-politician supporters learn this new skill (between now and the beginning of 2018), just these two groups alone will be considerably more than twice the number of voters needed to set the PAP- to PKQ-controlled Congress transition into motion.

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* * * * * * * * * * * *

NOTE to political scientists and civics teachers: there definitely needs to be a meaningful/descriptive term to describe the ignorance-based approach to the process of self-governence that you have been teaching generations of our students -- e.g.:

    • primitive self-governance
    • brutish self-governance
    • pre-Cro-Magnon self-governance(?)
    • Lord of the Flies self-governance(?)
    • ???

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* * * * * * * * * * * *

civic profiling: voters pre-screening the candidates running in the Democratic and Republican primaries for Congress based on ANI factors -- e.g., skills sets of PKQs.

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* * * * * * * * * * * *

 

Once Congress is controlled by PKQs, we can be confident of a fairly rapid transition (from an America drowning in EFFS problems to a nearly EFFS problem free America) because of the speed at which change (both good and bad) now routinely takes place in America in both the private and public sectors. Change brought about by new ideas, products, services, attitudes, behaviors, desires, headline grabbing events, etc..

For example, look at how quickly our television industry went from picture tube to flat screen to super HD. How quickly we went from pager to cell phone to Smartphone/wireless internet. From majority anti-gay marriage to majority pro-gay marriage. (Like it or not -->) From a dysfunctionalized quasi-free market healthcare insurance industry to an even more dysfunctionalized, 100% government controlled healthcare insurance industry (such is the power of a PAP-controlled Congress). And on and on.

In short, the speed with which changes and advances in such areas as our technological, informational, bureaucratic and other systems can and do take place, and the speed of our society's adjustments/adaptations to those changes, is nothing if not breathtaking.

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* * * * * * * * * * * *

It is precisely because of our society's ability to change their attitudes and behaviors on a dime that there is no real obstacle to a critical mass of our voters going from zero competence at this thing we call self-governance to extreme competence within one election cycle. Secondly, when that transition takes place, realistically, our United States Congress can go from PAP-controlled to PKQ-controlled within two election cycles (perhaps even one). Moreover, long before the reins of power in Congress have passed from PAP hands to PKQ hands, almost all of the overarching design objectives -- i.e.,

the broad brushstroke objectives that a significant majority of the mainstream of America's liberal, moderate, conservative and libertarian voters all broadly agree they would want to see America's major systems achieve or accomplish

...can be: 1) compiled and agreed on (via social media venues), then 2) a first "recommendation" draft of the legislative language needed to effect the process of optimization written. Not by PAPs -- nor shaped by the unethical influence of special interests/lobbyists, but by society's most educated, knowledgeable, civically engaged citizen/nerds in academia and the private sector, especially within (but not limited to) our entrepreneurial community in places like Silicon Valley and elsewhere -- i.e., our outside-the-box thinkers/problem solvers.

It's also worth pointing out that we don't have to invent anything new: no new theory of economics, no new fiscal accounting gimmick -- no new anything -- for our Congress to be able to optimize our free market system, our tax system, our financial system -- and our other major systems, as well.

But here's both the most important, and most exciting, observation: we don't have to discover some heretofore unknown aspect of human nature, or create a new theory of social development, to be able to craft the groundbreaking legislation which, upon implementation, will set into motion the beginning of the rapid end of the cycle of crime, violence and myriad of social pathologies that plague our most economically and sociologically disadvantaged communities

fyi: and it won't cost us hundreds of billions of government (i.e., taxpayer) dollars, either.

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(this part of the passage is in the process of being written)
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Our saving grace as a nation is that the vast majority of us truly do want to see America become a much better place. And a huge number of us want what we do in our own lives to help in that effort.

Of course, the same can be said about the citizens of most nations. What makes us particularly exceptional in this regard is that, in addition to being a technologically advanced, information saturated, increasingly BIG DATA proficient, social media savvy people -- just like a lot of other nations are -- we are also a highly adaptive, outside-the-box thinking people who seem almost to be genetically imbued with a can-do spirit.

What's my point? Merely that, when I cautioned all of our outside-the-box thinkers to hang on to their hats, it was because I was confident that --

...when you have tens, maybe even hundreds of millions of Americans as infused with a can-do spirit as ours are -- who are almost desperate in their desire to see America become a much better place (and are more than willing to do their part to make it happen). And you then provide them with something they didn't even know existed: a civic tool box containing a compliment of newly "discovered" civic tools that, when used, will end up transforming America into, in effect, a neartopia (i.e., an almost EFFS utopia) -- then one thing is certain: the coming months and years are going to be many things.

But boring, slow moving and uneventful will not be among them.

aside: It's also worth noting in passing that, once we start using those tools, America will quickly become the PKQ/civic role model for the rest of the planet.

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* * * * * * * * * * * *

A Journey of a Thousand Miles...

No doubt, almost all of us have heard the adage about every journey necessarily beginning with a first step. Well, clearly, that applies to the journey that leads from an America buried in EFFS problems to a nearly EFFS-problem free America.

In this case, the first step will be taken when a relatively small but critical mass (~10-20 million) of America's 140 million liberal, moderate, conservative and libertarian voters possess a working vocabulary of key ANI-based terms.

Once they do, don't be surprised when the second step in that journey turns out to be a 100+ million voter civic stampede.

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* * * * * * * * * * * *

Imagine traveling back in time to the Middle Ages to a prestigious medical college, and telling the dean of the college that the almost two thousand year old theory of medicine he and his fellow instructors are teaching their medical students (the Four Humours Theory) is an ignorance-based theory. So ignorance-based, in fact, that their centuries old, "tried and true" medical practices for curing diseases and infections -- e.g., bloodletting, ice-cold showers, scalding hot baths, etc. -- are (not to put too fine a point on it) imbecilic, plain and simple.

As you can probably guess, your "knowledge-based' critique would not sit well with this dean -- or with any of his fellow instructors, either. Like today's physicians, medical doctors in the Middle Ages were among the most intelligent and highly educated people on the planet. Telling them that their well established (i.e., deeply entrenched) medical theories were intellectually vacuous -- meaning these MD's didn't have the slightest idea of where diseases and infections came from, or how to cure them -- would be met with extreme hostility, largely because of a human shortcoming called (intellectual) arrogance or hubris.

aside: my unscientific guess is that the rule of thumb is: the smarter someone is, the more likely they are to suffer from it.

The purpose of that example is to illustrate the power of entrenched but intellectually vacuous theories, as well as the importance of not letting intellectual hubris cloud one's judgment -- both points of which are necessary to keep in mind inasmuch as (sorry political junkies on both the left and right) liberalism's and conservatism's competing theories of self-governance (a.k.a. the PI Theory of Self-Governance) are both intellectually vacuous.

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* * * * * * * * * * * *

 

WHY THE "EFFS" ACRONYM IS IMPORTANT:

The EFFS acronym allows our society to, among things, lump together (in our collective mind's eye) all of America's major EFFS problems (because they all have the same "solution" -- systems optimization via optimizing legislation).

Rather than every American thinker/opinion maker -- e.g., academician, talking head in media, political activist, etc. -- arguing endlessly about how to fix individual problems as varied and seemingly intractable as:

    • our weak economy,
    • crony capitalism,
    • political cronyism,
    • income inequality,
    • chronic unemployment,
    • our (prosperity draining) 70,000+ page tax code,
    • our (prohibitively expensive and maddeningly inefficient) healthcare system,
    • the myriad of societal problems and social pathologies associated with our urban and rural poor,
    • etc.

... it will be much more meaningful, and productive, to place the whole lot into a black box marked: America's EFFS problems. Then, rather than continue to argue endlessly and fruitlessly back and forth, our best and brightest thinkers can begin strategizing on how best to "teach," minimally, a small but critical mass of America's voters how practice democracy competently -- i.e., elect PKQs to Congress .

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* * * * * * * * * * *

FDR's New Deal is a useful demarcation point for the beginning of today's liberal vs. conservative war, at least from the point of view of a layman like myself, because that era marks the first time in our nation's history when the big picture decision for voters at the ballot box came down to the same political/ideological issue that today's voters must ultimately grapple with. In the case of the Great Depression's voters, the decision they had to make was: which governing philosophy, liberalism or conservatism, do they want Congress to use to "solve" the myriad of major EFFS problems brought about by the Great Depression?

The liberal philosophy: rely on "government" solutions -- e.g. create government programs, which will be paid for by a combination of government borrowing and raising taxes on businesses and the "wealthy." Said programs will help the unemployed for the Depression's duration by creating temporary make work government projects as well as providing, if needed, a package of temporary government benefits and services.

The conservative philosophy: rely on "free market" solutions -- e.g., stimulate the economy by cutting everyone's taxes. With more money in everyone's pocket, spending on products, manufactured goods and services will increase, which will require businesses to hire new employees to meet the increased demand.

It is almost certainly the case that, especially back in FDR's time, the vast majority of voters weren't looking at the Depression through a political/ideological lens -- i.e., Democratic vs. Republican, liberal vs. conservative policies, solutions, legislation, etc. -- so much as they just wanted their legislators in Washington to do what legislators were expected to do (beyond defend the nation from foreign and domestic enemies and provide vital services): namely, do whatever they had to do, legislatively, to keep good paying jobs plentiful, unemployment low and the economy running on all cylinders.

Eighty years later, that has changed. Liberalism and conservativism have both undergone a major transformation (devolution, actually). They've gone from governing philosophies to full blown religions, and a sizeable majority of our nation's voters are devout adherents of one or the other. The central tenet of each group's most ardent believers is that theirs is the superior ideology while the other side's past policies, legislation, reforms, etc. are the disease responsible for causing, creating or exacerbating America's myriad of EFFS ills.

For example, dyed-in-the-wool conservatives blame 80 years of (naive) liberal/Democratic policies, legislation, reforms, etc. for most of America's economic and financial problems, and all of her societal problems.

And naturally, dyed-in-the-wool liberals blame it all -- especially the number and severity of America's societal problems -- on 80 years of (heartless) conservative/Republican policies, legislation, reforms, etc.. Policies (liberals will argue) that all work off the same "cruel" template: cut government programs for the poor in order to pay for tax cuts for the rich.

Of course, both sides are as wrong as it is possible to be. Governing philosophies/ideologies don't cause, create or exacerbate a democracy's EFFS problems. "Dysfunctionalizing" legislation (i.e., legislation crafted and passed by self-serving/politically ambitious politicians (PAPs)) does.

COROLLARY: Governing philosophies/ideologies don't solve EFFS problems. "Optimizing" legislation does (i.e., legislation crafted and passed by non-self-serving, non-politically ambitious, non-politicians -- i.e., PKQs).

Unfortunately, that ANI-based truth isn't obvious to everyone because the ANI-based terms and concepts which would make it not just obvious but unavoidably obvious haven't existed until now.

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* * * * * * * * * * * *

In the future, thinking "civic" will be more of a national zeitgeist consisting of a number of separate but interrelated moving parts, e.g.:

  • a new way of thinking about the "process" of self-governance;
  • a small lexicon of new civic-, or ANI-based, terminology -- e.g., civic legislation, civic policies, civic justice, civic solutions, etc.
  • a whole new category of concepts -- e.g., dysfunctionalizing legislation, optimizing legislation, systems optimization (as in: optimized free market system, optimized healthcare system, optimized criminal justice system, etc.).

 

 

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* * * * * * * * * * * *

Conservatives believe we can't be a strong, prosperous, societally healthy nation if we aren't a conservative nation, therefore they employ the PI Strategy to practice democracy.

Liberals believe we can't have economic justice, or be a compassionate nation, if we aren't a progressive nation, therefore they employ the PI Strategy to practice democracy.

They are both wrong, of course. More important, tactically, they are working against each other, or at cross-purposes.

We can and will be both things: a strong, prosperous, societally healthy nation, and a compassionate, economically just nation. But ONLY when our voters employ the ANI Strategy to practice democracy.

 

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* * * * * * * * * * * *

    1. the number and severity of a nation's EFFS problems is inversely proportional to the degree to which that nation's major systems operate at their maximum health, strength, efficiently, effectively, etc., and

      x-axis: degree of optimization of America's systems
      y-axis: severity of America's EFFS problems



    2. the degree to which that nation's major systems operate at their maximum health, strength, etc. is proportional to the degree to which the nation's national legislature is controlled by PKQs.

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* * * * * * * * * * * *

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The prevailing "theory" of why democracies fail is wrong

The conventional wisdom on the matter of democracies failing is best summed up in a quote attributed to a Scottish history professor, Alexander Tytler, in 1787 (fyi: this passage is from “An American Tragedy” dated 12/16/08 by James Quinn):

"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship."

“The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

  • From bondage to spiritual faith;
  • From spiritual faith to great courage;
  • From courage to liberty;
  • From liberty to abundance;
  • From abundance to complacency;
  • From complacency to apathy;
  • From apathy to dependence;
  • From dependence back into bondage"

Here's why Tytler's analysis is treated as conventional wisdom, particularly among our intelligentsia.

In a democracy, the buck stops with the voters. Therefore, by this logic, the ultimate blame must rest with them -- or, more specifically, the fault lies with their human failings and shortcomings as voters.

Human failings? Shortcomings? Sadly, we must admit that, as a group, voters possess one or more fairly severe what you might call self-governance flaws -- i.e., apathetic, naive, gullible, woefully uninformed on the issues. And worst of all, greedy: they want far more government benefits and services than they are willing to pay for.

By that logic, Tytler's prediction seems spot on. America will eventually fail -- economically, financially, fiscally and societally -- (probably sooner rather than later) because of its voters' shortcomings.

While that analysis sounds convincing enough, nothing could be further from the truth.

To understand why, consider the following alternative narrative that explains why America is drowning in EFFS problems, and why Congress -- no matter which party controls the House and/or Senate -- is utterly incapable of solving any of them:

alternative narrative

Obviously, in a democracy the voters call the shots. However, when America's voters have set out to decide on such matters as, for example, which political party's principles and ideals they are most aligned with, or which party's policies, legislative solutions, etc. they think will best be able to solve America's EFFS problems, the natural tendency of our non-expert voters has been to rely on the views and advice of their nations's best and brightest political thinkers, analysts and opinion makers in academia, media and elsewhere.

Keeping that thought in mind, here's the problem: Starting before America's founding in 1787, but especially since the time of FDR's New Deal programs -- her best and brightest thinkers (i.e., cognitive elite) have been caught up in an (intellectual?) my-governing-philosophy-is-better-than-your-governing-philosophy pissing contest.

That "intellectual" debate became increasingly more personal, viscous and absolutist especially after: 1) passage of LBJ's Great Society welfare programs and, a decade later, 2) Jimmy Cater's creation of the federal Department of Education -- and now, in 2017, has the fervor and feel of a take-no-prisoners religious war between two fundamentalist sects.

Of course, while this liberalism vs. conservatism war has been occurring and being reported on extensively and debated ad nauseam around the country -- below everyone's radar screens the harmful effects of decades and generations of dysfunctionalizing legislation have been steadily taking their toll on America's major systems. And while the trend line has not been constant over this time frame, America's EFFS problems have for the most part continued to grow larger and ever more severe. And, in turn, America's voters have looked ever more fervently to society's best and brightest thinkers and opinion makers for election insights, guidance, etc..

Unfortunately, looking to our cognitive elite for voting advice has proven to be a really bad idea.

Election cycle after election cycle, a plethora of liberal leaning "experts" from elite universities have confidently and passionately insisted that the Democratic Party's policies are the cure, while the Republican Party's policies are the disease. While another plethora of "experts," also from elite universities, have just as confidently and passionately insisted that the Republican Party's policies are the cure, while the Democratic Party's policies are the disease.

As a result, America's voters have understandably been utterly incapable of intelligently deciding which party's PAPs' policy "solutions" will be able to actually solve our nation's problems.

In other words, the fault has not laid with our voters' inadequacies, but with our intelligentsia's intellectual arrogance -- not to mention ignorance given the fact that our intelligentsia on both the left and right have failed to recognize (then factor into their thinking and remediation advice to voters) a larger, more meaningful civic "truth":

If Congress is controlled by two or more factions of PAPs, in the long term it will not matter which party controls Congress in any given election cycle because the legislation the majority party passes will not sufficiently or meaningfully deal with the "real" problems.

On the other hand, if Congress is controlled by two or more factions of PKQs, in the long term it will not matter which party controls Congress in any given election cycle because the legislation the majority party's PKQs pass (to deal with a EFFS problem) will be strongly supported by the minority party's PKQs -- as well as large majorities of Americas liberal, moderate, conservative and libertarian voters. Why? Because the legislation will have been crafted via a largely technical, ANI-based process.

 


 
 
  FOOD FOR THOUGHT: DEFINING (AND DESIGNING) THE "IDEAL" TAX CODE WITHOUT USING PI/PI PRINCIPLES  
 

If we define an optimized tax code as one that creates the optimum conditions for producing the greatest possible amount of:

  1. sustained, muscular economic growth, and
  2. new job creation -- particularly good paying high-, mid-, and low-skill manufacturing jobs

...then an optimized tax code is an example of:

a. a government solution
b. a free market solution
c. a political/ideological (PI) solution (i.e., liberal, conservative)
d. an apolitical/non-ideological (ANI) solution

answer: d

fyi: the same answer applies to an:

  • optimized free market system
  • optimized healthcare system
  • optimized public education system
  • etc.
 

aside: an obvious question comes to mind: do we have the knowledge needed to optimize all of America's major systems?

Short answer: yes (with some qualifications that will be discussed later on).

Our species has amassed an astounding amount of technical, economic, financial and other data based knowledge (especially over the last several decades). This same accumulation of knowledge that makes it possible for our best and brightest to optimize such things as:

  • a car engine's operating efficiency
  • the performance of a laptop
  • the diet and training routines of an Olympic athlete
  • a golf swing
  • a delivery truck's delivery route
  • a company's supply chain
  • an organization's daily operations
  • etc.

...makes it possible for us to optimize our healthcare, public education, etc. systems -- even our free market system.

Clearly, some systems may have a lot more moving parts, but the underlying technical, economic, etc. principles are the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT

Name: Montie Rainey
Profession: Retired, 21st century civics curriculum advocate
Education: BS, Mathematics and Computer Science
(University of Illinois at Chicago, 1984)
Misc:

Opinion columnist, The Jackson Sun
(2005-2010)

Contact: contact@thinkcivic.com

 

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