ThinkCIVIC.com

translation --> think: apolitical/non-ideological(ANI) --> FIRST!!

THEN political/ideological (PI)

 
 
FYI: civic and ANI are used interchangeably on this page
 

This web page introduces a number of new ANI-based terms and concepts into America's marketplace of "self-governance" ideas. In addition, it makes the case for the creation of a new subfield in political science,

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

  • The Political/Ideological (PI) Model/Theory
  • The Apolitical/Non-Ideological (ANI) Model/Theory

These and other concepts will be explored in much greater detail in a part-(amateur)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., Fall/Winter 2016)

 

cover A

cover B

 

Much of the book's material is presented here in a patchwork of unedited posts and ruminations for those who wish to explore this new category of knowledge immediately rather than wait until the book becomes available. .

 

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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 HAT!!!

 

 

The warning signs are a way of preparing you to have your intellect challenged in ways it never has -- and 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:

America's democratic, independent, republican and libertarian voters mastering a new civic "skill": competent (or effective) self-governance.

competent self-governance (working definition): 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 who serve in office for only a few years as a one-time civic duty.

First things first, we are essentially describing legislators who possess the skill sets and selfless motives of philosopher kings and queens, so let's use the acronym: PKQ to identify them.

PKQ: philosopher king/queen

While we're at it, let's create a meaningful acronym which sums up the type of legislators that America's voters have been electing to Congress for generations, even though this type of legislator is hated not only by our voters, but voters from probably every nation on Earth, of every political and ideological stripe: SSPAP.

SSPAP: self-serving, politically ambitious politician

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TWO OUTSIDE-THE-BOX POINTS TO PONDER:

  1. Why, in your view, has it never occurred to our best and brightest political thinkers and philosophers to teach free societies how to keep their national legislatures filled with liberal, moderate, conservative, etc. PKQs?

  2. Which would you rather America be:

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

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America's voters will achieve mastery of this new skill when they begin practicing democracy (i.e., engaging in the process of self-governance) using two new and highly effective self-governance "tools":

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
 
  1. exceptionally intelligent, well educated and knowledgeable,
    AND
  2. 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
  3. possesses demonstrated leadership and decision making qualities,
    AND
  4. has never served in elected office.
  1. currently serves, or formerly served, in local, state or national elected office, OR
  2. wants to make a career in politics.
 

About America's pool of potential PKQ candidates:

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

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

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 (civic and other) 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).

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 exceptionally capable 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 their nation 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: the wide variety of social media venues now available to us makes it possible to communicate with an entire group, congressional district, state, nation and planet as easily as communicating with one person standing in front of you.

Nor will they have to spend their time trying to convince voters that their primary opponent(s), then general election opponent(s):

  • have shady/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 candidates will only be serving for a few years as a one-time civic duty -- and under no circumstances will voters allow them to serve longer. But in that few years, they 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 economic, financial, fiscal and societal (EFFS) problems -- in many cases, completely and permanently.

fyi: examples of societal problems

  • multi-generational government dependency
  • chronic poverty
  • long term unemployment
  • increasingly poorer Middle Class
  • RAPIDLY rising healthcare costs
  • growing (& increasingly uneducated) underclass
  • EXTREME income inequality
  • high rates of teen pregnancy, out-of-wedlock births, and single parent/fatherless households
  • widespread gang activity/violence
  • racial strife/friction
  • political strife/friction
 

Q: Just what exactly will PKQs/PKQs be able to do, via the legislative process, that is impossible for SSPAPs/SSPAPs to do?

A: PKQs will be able to craft, then pass, an entirely new category of bold, far-reaching, game-changing legislation (for now, let's call this new kind of legislation, optimizing legislation) -- which is crafted using a radically new, ANI-based approach to policy formulation -- which just so happens to be the formulation process which must be used to accomplish a radically new, ANI-based policy objective: systems optimization --

as in an optimized:

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

fyi: here's another important new term: systems integration, which, as you might guess, means integrating, for example, our public education, welfare, criminal justice and mental heath systems -- when and where needed 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..

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 make the other party look dishonest, sinister, 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 new self-governance (or civic) tools will forever change the way campaigns for Congress are run, e.g., the end of negative campaigning and personal attack ads.

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

* consider how little of today's (self-serving/politically ambitious) politicians' day/week/month is actually spent actively engaged in these two duties.

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

PI-based language -- e.g.:

    • liberal policies, legislation, reforms, etc.
    • conservative policies. legislation, reforms, etc.
    • government solutions
    • free market solutions
    • etc.

...pits voters against voters.

ANI-based language -- e.g.:

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

...unites voters/voters against SSPAPs/SSPAPs.

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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 -- i.e., engages in the process of self-governance.

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 already 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.

Just picture in your mind's eye that civic dream-come-true (or, dare we say, the holy grail of representative democracy): a national legislature that stays permanently filled with PKQs.

Q: What are 535 extremely intelligent, highly educated and accomplished, but selfless NON-politicians -- who know up front that they will only be serving in Congress for a few years -- capable of?

A: As a group, they are capable of collectively governing 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.

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 effect the transition -- i.e., turn Congress into a PKQ-controlled legislature.

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A few observations:

First, it's clear that optimizing America's (here's another new and important term) dysfunctionalized systems,

as in:

dysfunctionalized free market system, dysfunctionalized healthcare system, dysfunctionalized criminal justice system, etc..

...will be a multi-year undertaking -- but not a multi-decade process.

fyi: a PKQ-controlled Congress will aggressively pursue both a systems optimization and systems de-dysfunctionalization agenda because, bottom line, EFFS problems come from dysfunctionalized systems.

aside: (completing the cause/effect sequence) and dysfunctionalized systems come from SSPAP-controlled Congresses -- NOT liberal or conservative policies -- which, fyi, is the prevailing view of probably 70+% of voters (and probably 70+% of our political intelligentsia).

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, 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 SSPAP-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.

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 SSPAP-controlled to PKQ-controlled within two election cycles (perhaps even one). Moreover, long before the reins of power in Congress have passed from SSPAP 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 SSPAPs, or by special interests, or by lobbyists, but by society's most educated, knowledgeable, civically engaged citizen/nerds in academia, to be sure, but also in 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 mark 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.

That leaves this final thought (re-reminder, actually): From the point of view of competent self-governance, the only thing our society actually has to do to solve our nation's major EFFS problems -- in many cases, completely and permanently -- is to come to grips with the fact that our society is buried in those problems in the first place only because our voters don't know how to elect liberal and conservative PKQs in the Democratic and Republican primaries who could easily solve them.

STATED DIFFERENTLY: 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 must take place in the minds of a small but critical mass of America's 140 million liberal, moderate, conservative and libertarian voters. And it will be taken ONLY when that critical mass recognizes that, if they continue fielding SSPAPs or SSPAP wannabes in the Democratic and Republican primaries -- like they have been doing for generations -- it won't matter which party wins in the general election (i.e., controls the U.S. House and/or Senate).

Our SSPAP's/SSPAP's neverending, all consuming -- all's-fair-in-love-and-political-war -- power struggle in Congress will continue.

America's EFFS problems will continue not getting solved.

Many will continue getting worse.

Eventually America will collapse under the weight of the combination of its national debt, societal strife and dysfunctionalized systems. When that happens, in what will seem like the blink of an eye, America will join the ranks of history's ex-prosperous, ex-great nations.

On the other hand, if said critical mass begins using the primary process to field PKQ candidates, they can be certain that a PKQ will be elected in the general election -- in which case, Congress will be able solve America's EFFS problems no matter which party controls the House and/or Senate.

If my layman's understanding of the history of (paradigm changing, status quo destroying) change is any guide, the good news is that, once these new, ANI-based terms and concepts have been introduced into our nation's marketplace of new ideas, and it begins to dawn on the general public what the EFFS implications of these new concepts are, that first step will be taken.

When it does, don't be surprised when the second step turns out to be a 100+ million voter civic stampede.

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The subject matter for the following example will probably not make sense, just yet -- but it soon will, so bear with me:

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.

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. With those two points in mind, let's begin broaching a subject that's especially sensitive for political junkies on both the left and right -- from the least informed and intelligent to the most informed and intelligent:

the fact that their competing theories of self-governance (which I lump together into the PI Theory of Self-Governance) are both intellectually vacuous.

Here are these two competing (PI-based) "theories" and their associated "models" or strategies.

American liberalism's theory, and model/strategy, of self-governance:

The THEORY: liberal policies/solutions can be thought of as the cure to America's EFFS ills, while conservative policies/solutions can be thought of as the disease,

therefore...

The MODEL: America's voters should use the power of the ballot box in the national legislative election process (NLEP) to elect, minimally, enough liberal Democrats to Congress to prevent the Republicans from implementing (harmful) Republican policies, passing Republican legislation, etc.. However, preferably, voters should try to elect enough (true) liberals to give the Democrats a veto-proof majority in both chambers -- because only then can voters be assured that the Democrats will be able to implement the liberal policies (via legislation) that will solve, or address, one or more of America's EFFS problems.

American conservatism's theory, and model/strategy, of self-governance:

The THEORY: conservative policies/solutions can be thought of as the cure to America's EFFS ills, while liberal policies/solutions can be thought of as the disease,

therefore...

The MODEL: America's voters should use the power of the ballot box in the NLEP to elect, minimally, enough conservative Republicans to Congress to prevent the Democrats from implementing (harmful) Democratic policies, passing Democratic legislation, etc.. However, preferably, voters should try to elect enough (true) conservatives to give the Republicans a veto-proof majority in both chambers -- because only then can voters be assured that the Republicans will be able to implement the conservative policies (via legislation) that will solve, or address, one or more of America's EFFS problems.

These two theories and models/strategies sum up Self-Governance 101 for the vast mainstream of America's voters. Meaning, this is how they have been lead to believe (by our past and current political intelligentsia) that they are supposed to practice democracy, generally, but particularly in the NLEP.

STATED DEFFERENTLY: voters operate on the assumption that the nearly singular purpose of the NLEP is for voters to decide which party's policies they want Congress to implement to solve America's EFFS problems.

aside: Interestingly, "practicing medicine" essentially means doctors using their medical knowledge to make sick people healthy. While, for voters (and our political thinkers, intelligentsia, etc.), when it comes to electing our 535 members of Congress, practicing democracy means voters making bloodless, non-violent war against themselves (every two years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November on thousands and thousands of small battlefields across America called polling stations).

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(?)
    • ???

Fortunately, there is a knowledge-based counterpart to the PI Theory of Self-Governance: the ANI Theory. However, I've concluded (after a great deal of trial and error) that the best way to begin the long, arduous process of, first, convincing America's voters (i.e., you) of the vacuousness of both the liberal and conservative theories -- then, second, suggest how to replace the PI Model with the ANI Model, is with a thought experiment in a thought experiment.

So, here goes...

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 (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 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 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 -- 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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The book's two jacket possibilities illustrate its dual nature, and two target audiences.

Cover A is a direct appeal to America's 140 million voters to stop using the flawed, outdated -- some would even say, primitive -- voting strategy (or paradigm or template) they use to select, then elect, their 535 members of Congress (435 in the House, 100 in the Senate). It's a strategy they've been using essentially since our nation's founding, but particularly since the 1930's when FDR introduced his New Deal agenda (more about the FDR/ New Deal connection later).

Why is the strategy flawed?

The short answer: because, at the end of every (two year) national legislative election cycle, America's voters find that, once again, they have used the enormous power they wield at the ballot box to fill Congress to overflowing with a category of legislators universally hated around the world -- as well as being the last people on Earth that any sane democracy's voters should be handing the reins of political power to:

self-serving, politically ambitious politicians (SSPAPs).

Of course, most of us are already well aware of this. There's nothing new or meaningful or insightful in the answer. So let's charge head-first into the long answer -- only, for the first time ever, equipped with a number of new, meaningful and insightful concepts, along with a lexicon of new terms for describing them.

First thing on the list: a formal name for that flawed (and ignorance-based) strategy:

Political/Ideological (PI) Model of Self-Governance, or PI model for short.

For now, all you need to know about the PI model is that, at its core, it is an approach to, or philosophy of, voting for our 535 members of Congress. An approach that can best be described as the One Objective Voting Strategy inasmuch as, every two years, America's voters use the vote(s) they cast in the national legislative election process (NLEP) -- i.e., the 50 states' primary processes and general election -- to accomplish just one objective: decide which political party controls the U.S. House and Senate.

Next, 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 SSPAP-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 SSPAP-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.

In addition, lumping our EFFS problems together will help voters come to grips with what all of us should start thinking of as a new category of truths: ANI (or civic) truisms or truths:

For example:

America is not an EFFS dystopia -- which is to say, America's EFFS problems do NOT exist -- because of liberalism or conservatism. Or because of liberal policies or conservative policies. Or because of the brainless DEMOCRATS!! or heartless REPUBLICANS!! in Congress.

fyi: or because of the conventional wisdom among our intelligentsia -- namely, that the fault lies with voters; they are naive, gullible, uninformed, apathetic, stupid, greedy, etc.

For most of you, that ANI truth, along with its corollary** below, are both going to take a while to sink in. And that's only after you have acquired a working knowledge of an entirely new (and beautifully simple) "theory" of self-governance, the ANI Theory.

Preface to the corollary: Seen in self-governance terms, America is an EFFS dystopia for one reason: America's voters use the enormous power they wield at the ballot box to keep Congress permanently filled to overflowing with the last people on Earth that any sane democracy's voters should be handing the reins of political power:

self-serving, politically ambitious politicians (SSPAPs).

** COROLLARY: America is an EFFS dystopia because its voters have been using the PI model to "practice" democracy -- i.e., engage in the process of self-governance. And they have been using the PI model because it never occurred to our nation's best and brightest political thinkers to simply teach our electorate how to practice democracy using the PI model's knowledge-based counterpart, the:

Apolitical/Non-Ideological (ANI) Model of Self-Governance, or ANI model for short.

(the ANI model could also be called the Two Objective Voting Strategy)

About the ANI model's two objectives:

The first objective*: use the Democratic and Republican primaries to decide if the liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans who will go head to head in the general election will have the self-serving motives of SSPAPs or the selfless motives of PKQs.

* fyi: the vast majority of America's moderate/independent voters actually lean either left or right -- so, starting in the 2018 election cycle, they will begin voting in the primary process in order to insure that this first objective is accomplished. Voters who don't care which party controls Congress will end up using the general election to insure that the candidate elected is a PKQ candidate.

The second objective is the same as the PI Model: use the general election to decide which political party will control the U.S. House and/or Senate.

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Principle of Systems Optimization: Every system over which the federal government has statutory or regulatory authority is optimizable via ANI-based legislation (i.e., technical, data-driven legislation) which will produce economic, financial, fiscal and societal (EFFS) outcomes that large majorities of every PI and demographic group will deem highly desirable.

Only a national legislature controlled by PKQs has the collective purity of motive (POM) needed to enact optimizing legislation.

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About the 21st century civics curriculum:

The core objective of this new curriculum will be to teach students (and voters) a number of harsh but existentially important "civic" facts of life, as well as the already alluded to existentially necessary civic skill: competent self-governance -- i.e., using the two votes voters cast in the NLEP to accomplish two objectives -- one: political/ideological, the other: apolitical/non-ideological.

The most important civic fact of life:

At the point a national legislature's major political factions begin to be dominated and controlled by SSPAPs, it will not matter which political faction wields the reins of power in the legislature, or which governing philosophy they use to govern. Over time, that nation's small and/or minor EFFS problems will inexorably become large and/or severe problems.

Why? Because, as a general proposition, SSPAPs, no matter how "well-meaning" their intentions, or sincere their PI beliefs, will resort to any number of unethical tactics -- e.g., special interest pandering, cronyism, political corruption, influence peddling, etc. -- to either insure their repeated re-election bids, or grow their power, or both. These unethical tactics/behaviors will manifest themselves most notably in the form of flawed, corrupted and/or self-serving legislation...

...or, much more likely, one or more flawed, corrupted and/or self-serving provisions which have been inserted into an otherwise innocuous bill.

In either case, this type of legislation is hereafter referred to as dysfunctionalizing legislation.

The important take away is that it is the cumulative damaging effects of years, decades, generations -- even centuries -- of dysfunctionalizing legislation that gives rise to a nation's major EFFS "dysfunctionalities."

A logical corollary to that civic fact of life:

At the point that the political factions in a democracy's national legislature begin to be dominated and controlled by non-self-serving, non-politically ambitious, non-politicians -- hereafter referred to as PKQs -- it will not matter which political party wields the reins of power in the legislature, or which governing philosophy they use to govern.

Unlike SSPAPs, PKQs will rely on a new category of ANI-based legislation: optimizing legislation -- which is legislation arrived at via an ANI-based legislative formulation process. The net or cumulative effect of optimizing legislation is the elimination of EFFS dysfunctionalities and the nation's eventual transition/evolution to a neartopia.

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FDR's New Deal is a useful demarcation point, 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 (SSPAPs)) does.

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

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 SSPAPs: 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.
    •  

 

 

EXPLORING WAYS TO USE IMAGERY TO:

ILLUSTRATE WHY AMERICA IS AN EFFS DYSTOPIA...

 

 

... AND SUGGEST HOW TO BECOME AN EFFS NEARTOPIA (OR EFFS-TOPIA?)

 

 

 

 

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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

.
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 Political/Ideological Myth Explained in a Nutshell

CHILD: Mommy, where do America's EFFS problems come from?
LIBERAL PARENT: They come from generations of conservative legislation passed by heartless Republicans in Congress.
CONSERVATIVE PARENT: They come from generations of liberal legislation passed by brainless Democrats in Congress.

Clearly, these parents' explanations are oversimplified, but they sum up the belief among probably 70+% of our society's voters that one of our major political parties is, for the most part, the "good" political party -- and its governing philosophy the "good" political ideology -- while the other party is the "bad" party and/or political ideology.

In order to understand why this centuries old PI Myth is just that: a myth, we have to explain where our EFFS problems actually come from. And to do that, we have to create and define a new category of ANI-based legislation -- as well as a new category of legislator:

dysfunctionalizing legislation: legislation that eventually creates more problems than it solves, or exacerbates existing problems, because the legislation contains one or more provisions, or is written in its entirety, to advance the self-serving interests of the legislators writing the legislation.

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

  • appeases, rewards, or "addicts" to government largesse, a legislator's favored special interest, vested interest or political interest group(s).
  • punishes one or more of the other political party's clique of special, vested or political interest groups.
  • increases the legislator's political power, or strengthens their grip on power.
  • increases the legislator's chances of re-election.
  • increases the legislator's (currently out of power) party's chances of becoming the majority party in the next election cycle; OR
  • increases the likelihood that the legislator's (currently in power) party remains the majority party.

Self-Serving, Politically Ambitious Politician (SSPAP): In general, anyone who already has a career in politics, or wants to make a career in politics. But the term is especially applicable to anyone who wants to make a career in the U.S. Congress so badly he or she will say almost anything to get elected -- and, once elected, say and do almost anything to get repeatedly re-elected.

Now that we know what dysfunctionalizing legislation is -- and what a SSPAP is -- we no longer have to tell our children PI myths to explain where EFFS problems come from.

CHILD: Mommy, where do America's EFFS problems come from?
PARENT/PARENT: They come from generations of dysfunctionalizing legislation passed by SSPAPs/SSPAPs in Congress.

We also need a term to describe the opposite of dysfunctionalizing legislation: optimizing legislation.

optimizing legislation: legislation that contains no self-serving provisions, and whose primary objective is not to solve an individual EFFS problem, per se, but to "optimize" one or more of our nation's, in most cases, severely dysfunctionalized systems**, for example:

    • tax system
    • free market system
    • financial system
    • healthcare system
    • criminal justice system
    • mental health system
    • legal system
    • welfare system
    • immigration system
    • etc..

    ** system optimization/de-dysfunctionalization should be Congress's primary policy objective because America's EFFS problems are most appropriately seen as symptoms of one or more of the above dysfunctionalized systems. Which means, optimize the systems and all of the symptoms (i.e., all of the EFFS problems) disappear -- in many cases, completely and permanently.

FYI: Optimizing legislation can only be crafted and passed by PKQs.

 

 

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 problematic 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 steady, for the most part, America's EFFS problems have 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 does 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 does 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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IMPORTANT FYI: there will be a great deal of debate among our intelligentsia (and voters) over the wisdom of electing lawyers to Congress because of that profession's 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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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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A special note to:

  • young political scientists just starting out in academia and elsewhere;
  • political science majors, current and future;
  • civics teachers, current and future.

The ANI Model of Self-Governance, and the theory it is based on, represent an entirely new category of "political" knowledge, and a radically different way of thinking about the process of self-governance.

As will soon be abundantly clear, this new way of thinking runs 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 perpetuating the status quo) -- even orthodoxies founded on ignorance-based theories.

Assuming history is a guide, this means that the initial reaction of today's established political scientists -- along with professional political analysts and consultants in media and elsewhere -- will be to reject this new theory's tenets, validity, relevance, feasibility, etc..

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

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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A brief primer on the
Apolitical/Non-Ideological Model of Self-Governance
and the theory on which it is based

Two important FYIs re. dysfunctionalizing legislation:

 
    1. Over time (decades/generations/centuries) the accumulation of dysfunctionalizing legislation leads to the dysfunctionalization of a democratic society's major systems:
          • Free Market system
          • Federal Tax system/code
          • Financial system
          • Healthcare system
          • Public Education system
          • Welfare system
          • Criminal Justice system
          • Legal system
          • Mental Health system
          • Immigration system
          • etc.
    2. As a general proposition, 1) a democracy's major economic, financial, fiscal and societal* (EFFS) problems should be seen as symptoms of that democracy's dysfunctionalized systems rather than the fault of a governing philosophy -- e.g., liberalism or conservatism -- and 2) the greater a system's dysfunctionalization the more numerous and severe the EFFS problems associated with it.

     

. .

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

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

 

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.

 

 

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

"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...."
Thomas Sowell

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

 

 

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.

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

 

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..

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

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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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.

In my view, this is yet another example of "civic" knowledge that every American of voting age -- along with everyone who will soon be of voting age -- should possess.

. .
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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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