ThinkCIVIC.com --> translation --> think: apolitical/non-ideological(ANI) --> FIRST!!
  THEN political/ideological (PI)
 

Civic and ANI are used interchangeably on this page

 
 
 
 

HOME TO A TREASURE TROVE OF NEW, SELF-GOVERNANCE BASED KNOWLEDGE

Where you will learn why the key to (wildly) successful self-governance involves little more than a simple change in perspective:

FROM:
viewing 99% of the democratic process through the lens of politics/politics,

TO:
viewing 99% of it through the lens of self-governance.

To facilitate that simple but radical perceptual shift, this web page: 1) introduces a number of ANI-based terms and concepts into a radically new marketplace, or category, of ideas: self-governance ideas, and 2) makes the case for the creation of 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
    • The Apolitical/Non-Ideological (ANI) Model

These and other concepts will be explored in greater detail in a part: (layman's) political science, part: civic advocacy book:

First, Re-Educate All The Political Scientists and Civics Teachers:
The case for a 21st century civics curriculum.
(est. pub., Winter 2016-17)

 

cover A

cover B

 

 

note to political scientists, poli-sci majors and the general reader

Most of the book's ideas and concepts -- which, fyi, apply specifically to America's national legislative election process (NLEP) -- are still in the working draft stage.

They are presented here in a (nonlinear) hodgepodge of unedited, overlapping entries for those who wish to explore this new field of knowledge immediately rather than wait until the book becomes available.

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First things first...

Q: What do you mean by: think apolitical/non-ideological?

A: Essentially, to STOP viewing the democratic process -- which, fyi, we should stop calling the democratic process and start calling the self-governance process -- solely in political/ideological (PI) terms, i.e.:

  • Democratic vs. Republican policies, reforms, legislation, etc.
  • liberal vs. conservative values, ideals, principles, etc..

To think civic, or think ANI, is to start using ANI factors, or considerations, to: 1) pre-screen potential U.S. House and Senate candidates, and 2) expand our understanding of a new and valuable concept (think: Powerball-sized winnings) -- a concept our society knows absolutely nothing about:

effective, or competent, self-governance

Examples of ANI factors/considerations:

  • There exists a category of ANI-based -- i.e., neither liberal nor conservative -- legislative policies that, were Congress to craft and enact them into law, would improve America's economic, financial, fiscal and societal (EFFS) wellbeing immeasurably.

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

    aside: and as we have learned after countless election cycles of painful experience, there exists a category of liberal Democratic and conservative Republican legislators who are: 1) extremely self-serving, 2) extremely politically ambitious and/or power hungry, and, as a result, 3) utterly incapable of crafting or enacting ANI-based legislation (and couldn't in a million years).

  • The "swamp" in Washington (that the American people see as a major contributor to America's EFFS woes, and want so desperately to see drained) has a precise location --> the Capitol building (i.e., Congress*) -- which, fyi, only voters can "drain."

    *Stated in actionable terms, the swamp is a Congress dominated overwhelmingly by a "class" of legislators who our nation's voters have been electing (then repeatedly re-electing) for generations. Importantly, with exceedingly rare exception, these legislators have one thing in common: they come from the "bad" end of a specific population distribution curve. (see graphic below)

    These men and women, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans are, for the most part, well meaning. But, unfortunately, their lust for national legislative office is so great, they will willingly say and do almost anything to get elected and, once elected, to stay elected.

    As will soon be made heartbreakingly clear, America would be a far different place if, at some point in our past, our best and brightest political thinkers had taken it upon themselves to simply teach our electorate how to identify, locate and elect Democratic and Republican candidates from the curve's good end...

    because, fyi, that's where our voters will find a democracy's equivalent of philosopher kings and queens.

 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: This distribution curve glaringly illustrates what should be (but isn't) political science's greatest "civic" mystery in history: why have free societies around the world -- past and present -- never learned how to identify, locate 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 (not to mention detrimental to America) things that politically ambitious and/or power hungry politicians are willing to do (or not do), legislatively, to get repeatedly re-elected to Congress. Which is why inside-the-PI-box "solutions" like campaign finance reform, overturning Citizens United -- a five year waiting period before ex-politicians or political appointees can become lobbyists -- even term limits as currently advocated, will do little to drain the swamp.

Why not include K Street (i.e., lobbyists)? 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 favors, and not with b) those who are willing (or "forced") to buy said favors. Forced, because, as is often the case, 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.

Why actionable? Because, not to beat a dead horse, 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 be made aware of the ANI-based voting strategy or game plan that will actually turn that civic goal into reality. A game plan that requires them to do something they have never done: think apolitical/non-ideological "thoughts" that are located well outside the political/ideological "box."

Q: How many of America's 140 million voters can be taught to view self-governance outside-the-PI-box -- which is to say, through an ANI lens?

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

 

Brief Overview/Synopsis

"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]
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History tells us two things about good ideas. In the long run, they tend to win out over bad ideas. And they generally give way to better ideas.

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?

The upgrade is needed -- in fact, it's long overdue -- because...

while our current civics instruction does a fairly good job of teaching our nation's students how to be civic-minded, and civically responsible, citizens -- one need only connect the dots between:

a) America's myriad of economic, financial, fiscal and societal* (EFFS) problems,

* examples of societal problems

  • multi-generational government dependency
  • structural/chronic poverty
  • cradle to grave hopelessness, frustration, class resentment, ...
  • rapid loss of low- and mid-skill jobs that pay a living wage
  • RAPIDLY rising healthcare costs
  • increasingly poorer Middle Class
  • (crony capitalism caused) income inequality
  • high rates of:
    • teen pregnancy
    • out-of-wedlock births
    • single parent/fatherless households
    • violence/gang activity
  • growing:
    • racial strife/friction
    • political strife/friction
  • etc.

and b) the self-serving, politically ambitious, "attain and hold political power at any cost" governing value system of the typical legislator our voters been routinely electing to Congress for generations,

...to see the critical need for an improved or "modernized" curriculum. One that teaches our students (and voters) not only how to be civic-minded and civically responsible citizens, but also how to be much more expert, or competent, at this thing we call "self-governance."

No disrespect to America's voters, current and past, but it's glaringly obvious that they have been doing a woefully incompetent job at their most important civic responsibility: "hiring" the 535 U.S. House and Senate legislators who are tasked with a number of constitutionally prescribed duties, both foreign and domestic.

The problem, of course -- and it's an existential* problem -- is that turning America into an EFFS basket case is not one of those duties.

* existential because history tells us that an EFFS downfall eventually takes place in free societies when their voters give self-serving and/or power hungry politicians a permanent monopoly on national legislative power.

That's why, not if but when our political science and civics instructors replace America's outdated, 18th century civics curriculum (because it fails to teach our students how to be competent voters** in a 21st century democracy) with a profoundly better, 21st century curriculum (that does) -- that's when our society's democratic, independent, republican and libertarian voters will quickly find themselves in possession of a new, game-changing (and nation-changing and life-changing) civic skill: the ability to use the power of the ballot box to keep their national legislature continuously filled with a steady supply of liberal Democratic and conservative Republican legislators who don't have a self-serving, politically ambitious or power hungry bone in their body.

** re: competent voting. ThinkCIVIC's main argument is that, ultimately, America's EFFS problems 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, in cause/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). Which is why our current curriculum should be stamped

WARNING!! DETREMENTAL TO A HEALTHY DEMOCRACY!

...and quickly replaced with a corrected, knowledge-based version.

THIS IS KEY: Its major flaw is that it only teaches our students (i.e., our future voters) how to use the ballot box one way -- and it's the wrong way, to boot. The way being taught is for voters to use their votes to, in effect, wage mutually destructive* political/ideological (PI) war against themselves -- i.e.,

liberal/left-of-center voters
vs.
conservative/right-of-center voters.

* mutually destructive because, as has already been pointed out -- at the end of every election cycle, no matter which party ends up in control of the House and/or Senate, our voters end up with a Congress whose legislative actions -- or inactions -- if anything, makes America's EFFS problems even worse.

aside: most of the legislation passed in 2017-18 by our Republican controlled Congress will probably be whack-a-mole legislation -- i.e., solves or mitigates some EFFS problems but creates or exacerbates others.

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).

TWO PONDER-WORTHY QUESTIONS:

  1. Could a roughly half liberal Democratic, half conservative Republican Congress -- whose legislators were truly selfless and devoid of political ambition -- craft and pass legislation that would actually solve America's EFFS problems, including the most "intractable" of them: break the "unbreakable" cycle of poverty, crime, gang violence, single parent households, etc. which is endemic in our nation's "inner cities?"

  2. Re: breaking the "unbreakable" cycle: if such legislation could be crafted -- once enacted into law, how long would it take before the cycle was "officially" broken?

ANSWER:

  1. Yes, a Congress of truly selfless (liberal and conservative) legislators would be able to craft and pass the array of legislation that would solve America's EFFS problems (and pass them by well above veto-proof margins).
  2. A lot sooner than most of you might think possible.

With just those two questions, the need for a national debate -- on the need for a national civics curriculum upgrade -- becomes self-evident.

And a.s.a.p. (America's EFFS clock is ticking).

The fastest way to build widespread national consensus for the upgrade begins with not just our society's "big picture" thinkers, problem solvers, futurists, academicians, opinion makers, etc., but our unwashed social media masses as well, looking at two interconnected terms/concepts, civic and self-governance, with new eyes, from a radically different (or, dare we say, evolved) perspective.

 

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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 (aka, optimizing legislation).
    • receives lion's share of attention from voters, media, intelligentsia, etc..
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The acronym, EFFS, should become as familiar to every man, woman and civics student in America as, say, OMG.

By introducing it into our society's conversational lexicon, it will be much easier for both our washed and unwashed masses to recognize and relate to an important civic fact: namely, that all of our major EFFS problems -- beyond the fact that self-serving legislators of every political/ideological (PI) stripe have had a hand in creating them -- can be solved via the same ANI-based (i.e., technical, data-driven) legislative policy formulation process.

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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.

** warning: the higher your IQ, the harder this mental task will be for you.

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?
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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 x 535 legislators per session =)

Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands?
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3.

Is it reasonable to posit the following?

Notwithstanding the fact that there are any number of factors that affect America's (or any nation's) overall EFFS health at any given point in time that are beyond the control of Congress -- America's EFFS problems have been trending slowly but steadily worse, in recent decades 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.

Now, phase 2: here are several ANI-based (and therefore OTB) terms and concepts which, taken together, should (in theory) give birth to, at the very minimum, the one OTB problem solving idea being advanced on this site -- even in those of you who have never had an OTB idea in your life... :-)

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).
    • aka: 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

 

  FYI: the opposite of dysfunctionalizing legislation is optimizing legislation.

 

2. EFFS Dystopia: a nation whose EFFS problems have become so 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,

...then it 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 subscribes to -- for just one reason: the mainstream of our political thinkers going back centuries have (more or less) 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 by legislators who are self-serving and/or politically ambitious and/or power hungry politicians (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 by legislators who are NOT: self-serving, politically ambitious, power hungry politicians (in public, and with the involvement and consent of the governed).

 

EDITORIAL NOTE: if the higher order self-governance thinking region of your brain isn't now in full blown, 100% OTB problem solving mode... OMG!#@?!!

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The book in a nutshell

HORRIBLE civic idea: a model of self-governance (taught via an 18th century civics curriculum) which ends up with voters (in the general election) having to choose between two (or more) civically undesirable (i.e., self-serving, politically ambitious, etc.) candidates.

EXCELLECT civic idea: a model of self-governance (taught via a 21th century civics curriculum) which ends up with voters (in the general election) having to choose between two (or more) civically desirable (i.e., NOT self-serving, NOT politically ambitious, etc.) candidates.

Although America's voters don't know it, there are actually two "models" of self-governance they can use to practice democracy -- particularly and especially when electing their members of Congress: an ignorance-based model and a knowledge-based model.

1.

The PI Model (the ignorance-based model)

  • This is the model voters use, and have always used. In fact, it's the only model they know about. Why? In the final analysis, because it has simply never occurred to our political thinkers, philosophers, intelligentsia, civics teachers, etc. that there is another, far more effective model that will enable voters to use the power of the ballot box to achieve their shared, ANI objectives (of which they have many -- e.g., civically desirable candidates, systems optimization, etc.).

  • We know with statistical certainty that using the PI Model will always result in voters electing/re-electing liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans to Congress who essentially already do (or will quickly start) thinking, acting AND/OR legislating like pandering, self-serving, politically ambitious/power hungry politicians.

  • Based on the PI Theory of System Dysfunctionalization which is an ignorance-based theory (in the same sense the Four Humours Theory of Medicine is an ignorance-based theory).
2.

The ANI Model (the knowledge-based model)

  • This is the model voters should be using -- and probably will be, perhaps as soon as the 2018 election cycle.

NLEP: national legislative election process

  • In the NLEP, the ANI Model enables left- and right-of-center voters in their respective pre-primary and primary processes to easily define, locate and elect liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans who, if elected in the general election, will have not just the ability but the desire to "solve" America's EFFS problems (in many cases, quickly, completely and permanently) via a new, ANI-based legislative policy formulation process: system optimization.
  • Based on ANI Theory of System Dysfunctionalization which is a knowledge-based theory (in the same sense that the Germ Theory of Medicine is a knowledge-based theory).

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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.

 

aside: this new adventure of civic discovery will be extremely exciting if you love exploring new concepts and learning new knowledge. For those of you who don't, sorry. You'll just have to grin and bear it if you want to know what's in store for America in the not too distant future.

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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.

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* * * * CAUTION * * * *

NEW CIVIC CONCEPTS AHEAD

...INSIDE-THE-BOX THINKERS...
--- please ---

1. discard all ideological preconceptions
2. engage intellect
3. proceed ANALYTICALLY!

...OUTSIDE-THE-BOX THINKERS...
HANG ON TO YOUR BRAIN!!!

 

 

The caution signs are a way of letting even the outside-the-boxers among you know in advance that your intellect is about to be challenged in ways it has never been challenged -- and, believe me, I do mean never. Not in terms of data or informational complexity, but in terms of your mind's ability to accept the possibility of a new ANI reality for the American people:

America's voters mastering a new civic "skill":

competent (or effective) self-governance.

competent self-governance: the ability of a free society's voters to keep their national legislature permanently filled with a steady supply of exceptionally capable legislators who:

  • don't have a self-serving, politically ambitious or power hungry bone in their body, and
  • serve in office for only a few years * as a one-time civic duty.

    * not because they have been term-limited via, for example, a constitutional amendment, but because civically enlightened voters understand that after wielding power for a few years, even the best of us will lose the ability to legislate at all times and in all cases with the selfless motives of a philosopher king or queen.

Speaking of philosopher kings and queens. First item on the 21st century civics curriculum to-do list.

Since we are describing a radically new species of elected legislator -- one who possesses the skill sets and selfless motives of a philosopher king or queen -- let's use the acronym: PKQ to identify them.

PKQ: philosopher king/queen

We also need an acronym which describes the kind of legislators that America's voters, for heretofore inexplicable reasons (see question #1 further down), have been electing, then repeatedly re-electing, to Congress for generations. Legislators that any rational person (and certainly every historian) would say were the absolute last individuals on the planet that America's voters should be (repeatedly) handing the reins of federal power: PAPs.

PAP: (pandering, self-serving) politically ambitious politician
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DISCUSSION: 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.

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There are still a considerable number of new terms and concepts that lie ahead. Yet, remarkably, with just this handful of new terms, and this new category of ANI-based ideas, all of us --

but particularly:

    • political thinkers/philosophers in academia, media, think tanks, etc.,
    • political science and civics teachers (and their students),
    • good government activists (and their benefactors),
    • economic and social justice warriors,
    • individual liberty warriors,
    • supporters of an activist government,
    • supporters of limited government,
    • etc.

...can do something truly revolutionary -- something that, until now, has been impossible for us to do: begin: 1) asking self-governance related questions, and 2) dealing with existential level self-governance issues, that don't automatically force approximately 90% of us to divide into our two political/ideological camps -- which we always do because of our polar opposite, mutually exclusive, zero-sum governing tenets (or theories of self-governance):

 

Democratic, liberal, left-of-center camp:
(makes up about 45% of all voters in any given election cycle)

SELF-GOVERNCE TENET/THEORY: Voters should elect Democratic legislators to Congress who will pursue liberal solutions, implement liberal policies, craft liberal legislation, etc. to deal with America's major EFFS problems because liberalism is the superior governing philosophy, while conservatism is the inferior governing philosophy because its solutions, policies, legislation, etc. create more problems than they solve.

 

 

Republican, conservative, right-of-center camp:
(also makes up about 45% of all voters in any given election cycle)

SELF-GOVERNCE TENET/THEORY: Voters should elect Republican legislators to Congress who will pursue conservative solutions, implement conservative policies, craft conservative legislation, etc. to deal with America's major EFFS problems because conservatism is the superior governing philosophy, while liberalism is the inferior governing philosophy because its solutions, policies, legislation, etc. create more problems than they solve.

Together, those two competing theories constitute the PI Theory of Self-Governance (i.e., the ignorance-based theory).

Here's a working definition of the PI Theory's knowledge-based counterpart, the ANI Theory of Self-Governance:

SELF-GOVERNCE TENET/THEORY: In the NLEP, America's left and right of center voters should use the Democratic and Republican primary processes, respectively, to field PKQ caliber candidates in order to guarantee that, no matter which party's candidate is elected in the general election, he or she will be a PKQ -- because PKQs are superior EFFS problem solvers (via optimizing legislation, systems optimization, etc.) irrespective of party affiliation, while PAPs create vastly more net EFFS problems than they solve (via dysfunctionalizing legislation/systems dysfunctionalization).

 

re: 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 two 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 acumen of a (President) Morgan Freeman.

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 --

as in an optimized:

  • free market system
  • federal tax system
  • healthcare system
  • public education system
  • post-secondary education system
  • criminal justice system
    • prison system
  • legal system
  • welfare system
  • mental health system
  • etc.

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).

fyi: here's another important new term: systems integration, which, as you might guess, 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..

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TWO KEY QUESTIONS RE: SELF-GOVERNANCE...

These two questions bear 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.

1:

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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2.

If you had the power to choose, which kind of representative democracy would you want America to be:

a PAP/PAP-governed democracy
or
a PKQ/PKQ-governed democracy?

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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 they 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:

In 21st century America, 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.

And a brief discussion on the legislative implications of this ANI truth:

Two points.

The first, a question which has already been alluded to:

Where do America's EFFS problems come from?

Contrary to what liberals/democrats and conservatives/republicans believe (with religious fervor), America is not an EFFS dystopia because of the EFFS harm done by decades or generations of liberal policies (as conservatives believe) or conservative policies (as liberals believe).

Here's why our devout liberals and conservatives are wrong:

  • EFFS problems come from, or are the symptoms of, dysfunctionalized systems.
  • Dysfunctionalized systems come from the accumulation of decades, even centuries of dysfunctionalizing legislation.
  • Dysfunctionalizing legislation comes from legislators who are PAPs first, and selfless public servants a distant, distant second (think: astronomical units).
 

Point two. Ideological absolutism: the view that one political ideology/governing philosophy fits/solves all EFFS problems.

Or, restated: one ideology/governing philosophy (the superior one) -- i.e., either government solutions or free market solutions -- 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.

Two brief but important points to ponder on a hot button topic: laissez-faire capitalism.

  • 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 by PAPs (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 by PKQs (in public, and with the involvement and consent of the governed).

 

KEY POINT:

Optimizing America's dysfunctionalized systems will be a multi-year undertaking, but not a multi-decade process.

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Here are the two self-governance tools:

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
  • 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 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 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 SSPAPs or SSPAP 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 SSPAP'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 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-manipulative) 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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Clearly, mastering this new skill will represent a giant leap forward (and the logical next evolutionary step) in the way a free society practices democracy.

And, by now, regardless of whether you consider yourself a liberal, moderate, conservative, libertarian -- or (like probably most of us) a little of everything -- it should be obvious to you that this extreme civic makeover (ECM) is long overdue. That's particularly the case when you consider the sheer magnitude of the EFFS benefits that will rapidly accrue to the American people when 100% of the policies crafted in Congress are the handiwork of legislators who are a democracy's equivalent of philosopher kings and queens.

Talk about a civic makeover that's hard to get one's brain around. Yet, impossible to imagine or not, when just a relatively small but critical mass of voters (10-20%) learn how to practice democracy competently, this will be our society's new civic reality, our Congress's new legislative reality, and our nation's new EFFS reality.

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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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The Political Scientist from our future thought experiment

Imagine that a political scientist from our future travels back to our time and gathers together a group of our best and brightest PI thinkers and opinion makers from across the PI spectrum. The group is comprised of a hodgepodge of well-known individuals like, for example, conservative talk radio hosts, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity; liberal cable news hosts, Chris Mathews and Rachel Maddow; intellectuals from the field of political journalism: David Brooks, Thomas Friedman, Charles Krauthammer, Peggy Noonan, Eugene Robinson, George Will, etc.; distinguished political academicians and scholars from elite universities, and from think tanks spanning the PI spectrum: Aspen Institute, American Enterprise Institute, Brookings Institute, Cato Institute, etc..

Once this auspicious group is seated, the political scientist tells them,

"I have a great deal of wonderful news for the American people, and for most but not all of you seated here. The wonderful news is that the America I come from (which, fyi, isn't all that far into your future) bears no resemblance to your America because the liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans our voters have been electing to Congress are PKQs, and, therefore, have been able to solve the myriad of major EFFS problems that have brought your nation to its knees and threaten to destroy America as you know it.

"It's hard to know where to begin. The American people in my time have achieved levels of both material prosperity and emotional stability/satisfaction that none of you would think possible. We have gone from having among the highest rates of crime and violence in the world to the lowest. Even more amazing, the constellation of social pathologies that have been flourishing among your urban and rural poor for generations -- and that seem so intractable to all of you -- no longer afflicts our society.

"Unemployment as your Labor Department categorizes it does not exist. We have become much more of a self-reliant, community-centric society, particularly within, but not limited to, our major urban areas. And while we haven't discovered a miracle drug that makes everyone get along swimmingly with their fellow men and women -- meaning we haven't conquered hate, or greed, or envy, or cruelty, or xenophobia, or depression; and like all societies, we still have far too many among us who suffer from true mental illness for which no cure exists -- for the most part, America's men, women -- and teenagers -- live meaningful, purposeful lives.

"All of this came about for only one reason: our voters quite literally learned how to start electing liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans to Congress who had the purity of motive (POM) needed to solve our EFFS problems.

"Most of you will be pleased to know that the voters from my time have many of you to thank for their new civic ability -- because more than a few of you chaps finally realized that you, along with generations of your peers (i.e., political intelligentsia/cognitive elite) had been so caught up in your centuries-old, "My governing philosophy is better than your governing philosophy" intellectual pissing contest (what our political scientists call the PI Theory of Self-Governance), that it never occurred to you that if your group simply started teaching voters how to keep Congress filled with liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans who didn't have a politically ambitious or power hungry bone in their body, this new breed of legislators would be able to start solving our nation's major EFFS problems by crafting and passing a new category of ANI-based -- i.e., neither liberal nor conservative -- legislation: optimizing legislation.

"Guess what? Your civic epiphany was spot on. You taught your voters how to elect that new breed of legislators. In turn, that new breed of legislators began crafting and passing this new and miraculous type of legislation. Why miraculous? Because you can't imagine how quickly what seems like intractable EFFS problems can be solved when liberal and conservative legislators with both the capabilities and selfless motives of philosopher kings and queens put their heads together.

"Of course, not all of you joined in the effort, mind you. There was a considerable number of you who were so smitten with your own towering intellects, you couldn't let go of your centuries-old theory -- insisting to the very end that your ideology was better than the other ideology. (aside: there's a humorous term our political scientists have given this group):

bitter political/ideological clingers

"The rest of you made the transition, I'm pleased to say, from writing about --

...how disgusted you were with our corrupted political class in Congress, and all of the problems they could solve -- and all the lives that would be improved -- if they weren't totally consumed by political ambition and powerlust,

...to writing about your take on an entire unexplored continent of exciting new, ANI-based ideas.

"By the way, for those of you who want to get an early start exploring that new continent, you can do so by pondering the (seemingly innocuous, but thought provoking) thought experiment that opened our eyes to the existence of that unexplored continent:

"If all 535 members of Congress were replaced with just two members: a passionately liberal philosopher king and a passionately conservative philosopher queen, and both had to vote yea for any legislation that either, or both, crafted to become law -- and they both understood that the vast majority of the American people would trust them and support their agreed-on legislative agenda -- what would these two legislators have to do, legislatively, to solve all of America's EFFS problems?"

"I must return to my time. But I'll leave you with this hint: Solving America's EFFS problems -- in many cases, completely and permanently -- will not require PI "compromise" by our two selfless legislators (or 535 selfless legislators).

aside: example of PI compromise: the federal minimum wage is currently $7.50 per hour. The liberal PKQ wants to increase it to $15 per hour. The conservative PKQ thinks there should be no federal minimum wage because that decision should be left to the states. So they compromise by leaving the federal minimum wage at $7.50 per hour.

"Rather, our two legislators will have to develop a new category of ANI-based legislation which is written using a new legislation formulation paradigm. The term our political scientists gave this paradigm: reverse engineering 'neartopia'."

"LLAP.... eat well, exercise regularly and I'll see nearly all of you in your not too distant future."

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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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In means-to-an-end terms:

Q: If voters think of an EFFS-neartopia as the end, what's the means?

A: The ANI Model/competent self-governance

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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 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 (aka, the PI Theory of Self-Governance) are both intellectually vacuous.

 

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We need to formally introduce two extremely important acronyms and a new, paradigm-changing term, neartopia:

1. EFFS: economic, financial, fiscal (and) societal

    used in sentences:

    • Most Americans would probably agree that America is an EFFS-dystopia because she is buried under a mountain of major EFFS problems (and no end to their EFFS misery is in sight).

    • Odds are that, if America's voters could gather together, wave a giant magic wand and America would instantly be transformed into a neartopia -- i.e., a nation that is nearly 100% free of EFFS problems (or, at least as free of them as it is theoretically possible for an advanced democracy in the modern era to be -- which, fyi, is quite a lot), nearly all 140 million of our voters would gleefully wave that wand without hesitation.

2. PKQ: philosopher king/queen

used in sentences:

  • The vast majority of the American people would probably strongly agree that if Congress were dominated and controlled by liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans who had the skill sets and selfless motives of PKQs, Congress could easily do, via the legislative process, want is utterly impossible for a PAP-controlled Congress to do: namely, transform America into a neartopia.

  • Odds are that, if America's voters could come together and wave a giant magic wand and transform our PAP-controlled Congress into a PKQ-controlled Congress, nearly all 140 million of our voters would gleefully wave that wand without hesitation.
 

WHY THESE ACRONYMS ARE 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 philosophical/ideological lens -- i.e., liberal vs conservative policies, solutions, legislation, etc.. 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, 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.).

 

 

 

New term: Civic Enlightenment

Definition: The recognition by the American people, generally, and America's voters in particular, of a fundamental ANI truth:

If America's voters allow the U.S. Congress to stay permanently controlled by:

    • two or more factions of PAPs: for all intent and purposes, it will be impossible for Congress to solve America's EFFS problems -- no matter which political party is in control.

    • two or more factions of PKQs: for all intent and purposes, it will be impossible for Congress to NOT solve America's EFFS problems -- no matter which political party is in control.
    •  

 

 

 

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“If you want something you have never had,
you must be willing to do something you have never done.”

Thomas Jefferson

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Corollary #1 to Jefferson's quote
(applicable to America's political science and civics instructors)

If you want the "civics" you teach your students to produce a nation of voters who are competent in both the science, and practice, of self-governance, particularly in the national legislative election process (NLEP), you must be willing to begin using a civics curriculum you have never used to teach civic ideas, insights, strategies -- and voters skills -- you have never taught.

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3 Twitter sites, 1 objective:
a
"civically" competent electorate.

@21stCentCivics

@OptOurDemocracy

@MakeCivicLove
 

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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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civically enlightened democracy: a democracy whose voters use the ANI Model of Self-Governance to practice democracy.

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civically enlightened voter: a voter who understands that:

    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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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"

Why Tytler's analysis is considered 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, rather, their human failings and shortcomings as voters. As a group, they are a largely apathetic, naive and gullible lot, 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.

Conclusion: Tytler's prediction is correct. America will eventually fail -- economically, financially, fiscally and societally -- (probably sooner rather than later) all because of its voters.

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

To understand why, consider an alternative narrative which 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:

It is true that, in a democracy, the voters call the shots. However, when they are deciding 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 their nation's EFFS problems, the natural tendency of a non-expert voter will be to rely on the views and advice of his or her nations's best and brightest political thinkers, analysts and opinion makers in academia, media and elsewhere.

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

That "intellectual" debate became even more viscous and absolutist after passage of LBJ's Great Society welfare programs and Jimmy Cater's creation of a federal Department of Education.

As the harmful effects of decades and generations of dysfunctionalizing legislation begin to take their toll on America's major systems -- while the trend line has not been constant, America's EFFS problems have for the most part continued to grow larger and more severe over the decades. 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..

aside: We even have an ideological advocacy industry which has grown up.

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 insist that the Democratic Party's policies are the cure, while the Republican Party's policies are the disease. While, on the other hand, a plethora of "experts" from elite universities insist that the Republican Party's policies are the cure, while the Democratic Party's policies are the disease.

aside: and let's not forget our advocacy industry in talk radio and cable news.

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

What have our intelligentsia on the left and right been failing to recognize?

If Congress is controlled by two or more factions of SSPAPs, 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.

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.

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re: competent vs. incompetent self-governance

Competent Self-Governance:

When a nation's voters practice democracy competently, the end result is the most desirable national legislature possible: one dominated by liberal and conservative legislators who don't have a politically ambitious or power hungry bone in their body.

This, in turn, results in a federal government with the most desirable traits possible:

 

accountable... honest... ethical... responsible... dependable... effective... efficient...

A nation governed by such a legislature will have the fewest economic, financial, fiscal and societal* (EFFS) problems possible.

Therefore, seen from a self-governance perspective, the germane cause-effect association is:

competent voters = a nation free of major EFFS problems.

 
Incompetent Self-Governance:

When a nation's voters practice democracy incompetently, the end result is the least desirable national legislature: one dominated by both liberal and conservative legislators who are, with exceedingly rare exception: pandering, self-serving, politically ambitious politicians.

This, in turn, results in a federal government with the least desirable traits possible:

 

unaccountable... corrupt... self-serving... irresponsible... undependable... ineffective... inefficient...

A nation governed by such a legislature will end up perpetually plagued by a long list of major EFFS problems.

Therefore, again, viewed in self-governance terms, the germane cause-effect association is:

incompetent voters = a nation plagued by major EFFS problems.

 

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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 2015 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.

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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 72,000+ 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???

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

This is what 72,000 pages looks like

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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.

 

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

If we define an optimized tax code as a tax code 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.

 

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Introducing the Holy Grail of Self-Governance
into America's marketplace of new ideas...

If our instructors in America's medical colleges could teach their medical students how to cure, say, cancer of every form -- or a major killer like heart disease -- you can rest assured that they would, and they would do it in a heartbeat (no pun intended).

Unfortunately they can't because that knowledge does not yet exist. But it's probably just a matter of time considering: 1) the amount of knowledge that has been amassed in the medical field in recent years alone, and 2) the countless thousands of medical researchers in America and around the world who are hard at work finding cures at this very moment.

Likewise, if today's rocket scientists suddenly discovered how to build a spaceship that could get us to Mars and back in, say, a few days, they would be hard at work teaching their students in our colleges and universities that new knowledge.

Similar examples in other scientific fields abound -- all of which suggests is that if our nation's political scientists suddenly came upon an easy to understand, simple to use method or process which would enable our nation's voters to start practicing democracy competently -- then we have to believe that, minimally, a critical mass of our political scientists would be more than eager to start teaching our nation's students and voters how to master this thing we call self-governance.

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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.
  • More generally, 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 has to bear 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.
  • 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 civic-minded legislators (CMLs) 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 SSPAPs) 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 and 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, critical-thinking member of society an individual is capable of being.

re: an optimized education

An optimized education involves mastery of three skills, which must be defined in non-ambiguous terms:

  • academic skill: 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: 1) the skill needed to work successfully, particularly with others, 2) the internalized ethic that compels one to put in an honest days work for an honest days pay, and 3) 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.

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

 

 

 

 
 

Without this new subfield, America's cognitive elite in academia, media, think tanks, philanthropies, etc. -- along with our nation's students and voters -- will continue to have an unenlightened, one-dimensional understanding of the process of self-governence.

 

.

 

 

 

 

 

.

18th
CENTURY
CIVICS
CURRICULUM

POLITICAL/
IDEOLOGICAL
MODEL
OF
SELF-
GOVERNANCE

.

.

.

.

DYSFUNCTIONALIZED:

  • Free Market system
  • Federal Tax system
  • Financial system
  • Healthcare system
  • Public Education system
  • Welfare system
  • Criminal Justice system
  • Mental Health system
  • Immigration system
  • etc.

.

.

.

.

 

.

  • inefficient free market system
    • rampant, legalized and institutionalized cronyism
    • regulatory favoritism
    • weak/sporadic economic growth
    • "prosperity" inequality
  • chronic/systemic unemployment
  • political gridlock
  • crippling national debt
  • deteriorating, third world infrastructure
  • increasingly poorer middle class
  • rapidly growing underclass
  • accelerating social decay
  • INCREASING government
    • control
    • cronyism
    • corruption
    • unaccountability
  • INCREASING bureaucratic:
    • power
    • intrusiveness
    • ineptitude
  • less economic justice
  • less individual freedom
  • etc., etc., etc.
 

 

With this new subfield, our society will quickly acquire an enlightened, two-dimensional, knowledge-based understanding of the process of self-governence.

 

.

 

 

 

 

.

21st
CENTURY
CIVICS
CURRICULUM

APOLITICAL/
NON-
IDEOLOGICAL
MODEL
OF
SELF-
GOVERNANCE

.

.

.

.

OPTIMIZED:

  • Free Market system
  • Federal Tax system
  • Financial system
  • Healthcare system
  • Public Education system
  • Welfare system
  • Criminal Justice system
  • Mental Health system
  • Immigration system
  • etc.

.

.

.

.

.

.

  • extraordinarily efficient free market system
    • nonexistent cronyism
    • regulatory fairness
    • sustained, muscular economic growth
    • broad based prosperity
  • (true) FULL employment
  • political consensus building
  • shrinking/non-existent national debt
  • world class infrastructure
  • strong/vibrant middle class
  • shrinking/non-existent underclass
  • vibrant, social pathology-free "inner cities"
  • exceptional social cohesion
  • accountable government
  • bureaucratic:
    • efficiency
    • effectiveness
    • competence
  • maximum economic justice
  • maximum individual freedom
  • etc., etc., etc.

 

 

 

ABOUT

Name: Montie Rainey
Profession: Retired, turned pro-ANI Model/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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