ThinkCIVIC.com --> translation --> think: apolitical/non-ideological(ANI) --> FIRST!!
  THEN political/ideological (PI)
  Civic and ANI are used interchangeably on this page
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"There is one thing stronger than all the armies of the world;
and that is an idea whose time has come."
Victor Hugo

 

A brief primer on...

competent self-governance: the ability of a free society's voters to keep their national legislature continuously filled with a steady supply of legislators who are a democracy's equivalent of philosopher kings and queens (PKQs).
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USEFUL FACTOID: statistically, roughly one million Americans possess the skill sets/governing qualities and selfless motives of a PKQ -- enough to keep Congress filled with liberal Democratic and conservative Republican PKQs (each serving in office for a few years "as a one-time duty") for the next eight thousand years.

 

attributes of a PKQ-caliber candidate/legislator:

  • intelligent, well educated, knowledgeable,
  • has accumulated a considerable amount of life experience (i.e., the source of wisdom and sound judgment) and a respectable level of financial success,
  • demonstrated leadership and decision making skills,
  • has never served in elected office (and has no desire to).

You might want to brace yourself for this...

In addition to being an idea (and ideal) whose time has come, competent self-governance is also an easy to teach, easy to learn, civic "skill."

In fact, it is so easy to teach (and learn) that one has to wonder why it has never occurred to our political science and civics teachers -- or, more broadly, to our best and brightest political thinkers, visionaries, etc. -- to simply teach this amazingly useful, and astoundingly powerful skill to our nation's students (and voters).

This has to be the most head scratching mystery in the fields of both political science and political philosophy.

The most costly, too (in human terms), when you consider what our nation would look like today* if, as recently as a few short decades back, our political science and civics educators had made instruction in, and mastery of, this holy grail of self-governance skills the "prime directive" of America's civics curriculum.

* think: neartopia

 

neartopia: a nation as free of economic, financial, fiscal and societal** (EFFS) problems as it is humanly possible to be (given the shortcomings of humans, availability of natural resources, etc.).

** examples of (solvable) societal problems

  • shrinking Middle Class
  • chronic, structural unemployment
  • (crony capitalism caused) income inequality
  • cradle to grave:
    • government dependency
    • poverty
    • hopelessness
    • frustration
    • class resentment
    • community and/or social alienation/detachment
  • high rates of:
    • teen pregnancy
    • out-of-wedlock births
    • single parent households
    • "inner city" violence/gang activity
  • growing:
    • racial strife/friction
    • political strife/friction

OBSERVATION: Now that the question has been posed, the solution to this costly "civic" mystery should quickly become a source of investigation (not to mention, heated debate) in political science and civics departments around the country, particularly among those departments' outside-the-box thinkers and problem solvers.

That mystery aside, there are two key aspects of competent self-governance that will be of particular interest to America's 140 million liberal, moderate, conservative and libertarian voters:

1. The difference between America existing as an EFFS-dystopia -- i.e., permanently mired in a myriad of seemingly intractable EFFS problems vs. existing as an EFFS neartopia -- i.e., being (relatively speaking) nearly EFFS-problem free -- is the difference between America's voters being incompetent vs. competent "practitioners" of democracy/self-governance.

2. The difference between voters being incompetent vs. competent practitioners of democracy is the difference between them continuing to view the democratic process through the lens they've been viewing it through since the 18th century:

the lens of "politics"...

vs. viewing the process through a new, 21st century lens:

the lens of (competent) self-governance.
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This web site's starting point is the no-brainer assumption that it would be -- not a good thing, but an absolutely, unbelievably fabulous thing if, minimally, a small but critical mass (10-15%) of America's 140 million voters: 1) began viewing the democratic process through this new lens, then 2) altered their self-governance, or voting, strategy accordingly.

To facilitate that surprisingly simple, albeit radical, perceptual shift, this site is introducing a number of ANI-based terms and concepts into a radically new marketplace of ideas: self-governance ideas.

It also advocates our nation upgrading our outdated civics curriculum, the core components of which were developed in the 18th century, with a 21st century curriculum that teaches our nation's students (and voters) how to practice democracy competently, which is to say, how to keep Congress filled with a steady supply of "PKQ-caliber" liberal Democratic and conservative Republican legislators who will be able to craft a wide and far reaching array of legislation – fyi: using an ANI-based legislative policy formulation process called system optimization – which, once enacted into law, will have the practical effect of either completely solving a significant number of America's major EFFS problems completely and permanently. Or, for those problems that aren't technically "solvable," turning them into easily manageable (and relatively inexpensive) problems.

The rationale for the curriculum upgrade should be obvious. But if it isn't, here it is:

America isn't drowning in a myriad of EFFS problems because those problems can't be solved. Or because solving them will require Congress taking drastic measures that most voters will strongly oppose -- e.g., deep, painful cuts in entitlement spending, higher taxes on the middle class, etc.

No, Congress is incapable of solving our EFFS problems because, as many describe it: Congress is "broken." And Congress is broken, or, stated more precisely, Congress' two political factions are completely caught up in their never ending, all-consuming -- all's fair in love and political war -- struggle for political power (much of it purely for power's sake) because both factions are overwhelmingly dominated by mostly well-meaning but, of far greater relevance, self-serving, politically ambitious politicians (PAPs) whose first and greatest concern is their political career.

And Congress is overflowing with said PAPs (who, fyi, are literally the last kind of liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans our voters should be allowing to wield the reins of political power, in their national legislature, especially) -- because America's voters were never taught how to define, locate, arm-twist and elect PKQ-caliber candidates to the House and Senate (fyi: then allow them to serve in office for only a few years as a one-time civic duty).

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

 
 

 

Finally, this site 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, and
  • The Apolitical/Non-Ideological (ANI) Model

These and other concepts will be explored in 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., Win./Spr. 2016-17)

 

cover A

cover B

 
 

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

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

Most of the book's apolitical/non-ideological (ANI), or civic, "truths" and ideas:

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

3 POINTS:

First, there's a fair amount of redundancy (sorry).

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

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

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

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

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

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

of which liberal, moderate, conservative and libertarian voters have many, they just don't know it (yet). Objectives that, once achieved, will pave the path to America becoming what everyone will initially conclude is impossible: an economic, financial, fiscal and societal neartopia -- i.e., a socially, culturally and racially cohesive democracy (constitutional republic for you sticklers) whose myriad of major systems, e.g.:

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

....operate at their maximum humanly possible health, strength, efficiency, effectiveness, etc.

In conclusion:

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

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

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

So long as both political parties in Congress are overwhelmingly dominated by legislators who are the mirror opposite of PKQs -- i.e., PAPs -- it won't matter which legislative "path" Congress takes. The destination that path leads to will be light-years away from the America that is easily achievable via the legislative process with a PKQ/PKQ-controlled Congress.

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RE: a PKQ/PKQ-controlled Congress.

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

THOUGHT EXPERIMENT

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

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

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

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

The thought process/justification for this new process:

It is more meaningful (not to mention accurate) to operate on the assumption that America's EFFS problems weren't caused or exacerbated by PI factors, i.e., [Democratic, Republican, liberal, conservative] policies...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The net result: a nation drowning in EFFS problems.

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

 

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RANDOM OBSERVATIONS ON THIS
UNEXPLORED CONTINENT
CALLED: ANI-BASED KNOWLEDGE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will any of these establishment approved fixes cause:

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

    OR

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

A: No, and no.

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

A: Yes.

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

A: Yes.

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

A: Approximately one million.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Repeated re-election: ABSOLUTELY NOT.

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

PAP-controlled national legislatures

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

Period. No ifs, ands or buts.

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

Which meant the PKQ was now, by definition, a self-serving PAP -- and, therefore, the last person on the planet America's voters wanted "serving" the people in Congress.

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

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

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

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

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

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Q: What exactly does "think apolitical/non-ideological" mean?

A: Essentially, to STOP making two horribly counterproductive "civic" mistakes:

1.

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, solutions, etc.
2.

Assuming that one ideological solution/governing philosophy will, or even can, solve all of America's major EFFS problems.

Thinking civic is all about focusing the attention of our voters (but also the attention of our larger society, as well) -- or, given our voters'/society's diverse allegiances and PI-based belief systems, the attention of our:

 
  • Donald Trump supporters, and
  • Bernie Sanders supporters, and
  • Hillary Clinton supporters, and
  • Gary Johnson supporters, and
  • Jill Stein supporters, and
  • Ted Cruz supporters, and
  • Elizabeth Warren supporters, and
  • [insert name] supporters
  • liberal media personalities supporters, and
  • cons. media personalities supporters, and
  • liberal think tank supporters, and
  • cons. think tank supporters, and
  • liberal publications supporters, and
  • cons. publications supporters, and
  • [insert name] supporters

...on a new and valuable ANI-based concept which, fyi, all 140-200(?) million of these supporters currently have ZERO knowledge -- or even awareness -- of:

effective, or competent, self-governance.

The ultimate goal is to see, minimally, a critical mass of our electorate begin using three major ANI factors, or considerations, to pre-screen (or pre-select) all potential U.S. House and Senate candidates:

1.

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

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

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

a.k.a. PAPs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As will soon be made heartbreakingly clear, our nation 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 a skill that even our nation's below average 6th graders could quickly master -- how to:
  1. define/identify,
  2. locate,
  3. arm-twist (into running), then
  4. elect

...Democratic and Republican candidates from the curve's GOOD end...

because that's where our voters will find a democracy's equivalent of philosopher kings and queens (PKQs).

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

and not with...

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

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

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BOTTOM LINE re: the SWAMP

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

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

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

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

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

AND THE CENTRAL ROLE LANGUAGE PLAYS IN BOTH CASES.

 

INCOMPETENT SELF-GOVERNANCE

Voters see both: 1) the democratic process, and 2) the means by which America's EFFS problems are solved, through a PI lens.

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

2 votes, 1 objective = the PI Model

COMPETENT SELF-GOVERNANCE

Voters see both: 1) the democratic process, and 2) the means by which America's EFFS problems are solved, through an ANI lens.

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

2 votes, 2 objectives = the ANI Model
 

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The take away from these two lens:

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

"Power is such a dangerous thing that ideally it should be wielded by people who don't want to use power, who would rather be doing something else, but who are willing to serve a certain number of years as a one-time duty, preferably at the end of a career doing something else." Thomas Sowell [underline added]
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History tells us that bad ideas tend to (eventually) be discarded when their good idea counterparts come along.

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

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

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

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

WARNING!! DETREMENTAL TO A HEALTHY DEMOCRACY!

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

  (semi) non sequitur aside: most of the legislation passed in 2017-18 by our Republican (PAP) 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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* * * * * * * * * * * *

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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 (a.k.a. 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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* * * * CAUTION * * * *

MORE NEW CIVIC "THOUGHTS" 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 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?
.
2.

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

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

Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands?
.

3.

Is it reasonable to posit the following?

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

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

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

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

4.

Is it reasonable to posit the following?

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

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).
    • a.k.a.: special interest cronyism, vested interest cronyism and political cronyism (i.e., patronage).

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

ALTERNATE ANALOGY FOR DYSFUNCTIONALIZING PROVISIONS/LEGISLATION

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

 

  FYI: the opposite of dysfunctionalizing legislation is optimizing legislation.

 

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

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

4. The PI Theory of System Dysfunctionalization

Quick primer...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In terms every liberal and conservative political junkie can understand:

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

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

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

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

5. The ANI Theory of System Dysfunctionalization

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

6. Principle of Systems Optimization:

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

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

re. solving America's EFFS problems

#'s 1, 4, 5 and 6 will largely eviscerate/obviate the main criticisms that liberals have toward conservatism, conservative policies, etc., and conservatives have toward liberalism, liberal policies, etc.

 

 
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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* * * * * * * * * * * *

 

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

ABOUT the PI Theory of Self-Governance

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).

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

ABOUT the ANI Theory of Self-Governance

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).

.

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

 

ABOUT America's pool of potential PKQ candidates

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

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

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

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

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

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).

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

ABOUT systems integration

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

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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.
.

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 -- i.e., competent self-governance -- America's voters will have to begin practicing democracy using two new and highly effective

self-governance tools

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

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 -- i.e., the superior one -- fits/solves all EFFS problems...

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

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

Here's the brain exploding part:

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

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

the greatest good for the greatest number of people,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Re: Medicare and Medicaid:

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

 

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re: Ideological absolutism's knowledge-based counterpart...
Liberal and conservative policies should be viewed the same way we view bacteria. Meaning, some liberal and conservative policies are/will be harmful to healthy systems, while others are needed for systems to operate at their maximum health/efficiency/effectiveness/strength. note: there is no term to describe this characteristic of liberalism and conservatism.

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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 a) spend nearly a year of their life on the campaign trail...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the reward for performing their civic duty?

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

3.

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

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

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

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

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

Democratic President, Democrats in Congress, liberal Supreme Court judges

versus

Republican President, Republicans in Congress, conservative Supreme Court judges

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

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

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

Two more notable outcomes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOOD FOR "CIVIC" THOUGHT:

PI-based language pits voters against voters.

examples of PI-based code words:

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

 

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

examples of ANI-based code words:

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

 

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

 

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.

 

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

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

.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Journey of a Thousand Miles...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

WHY THE "EFFS" ACRONYM IS IMPORTANT:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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The prevailing "theory" of why democracies fail is wrong

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

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

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

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

Here's why Tytler's analysis is 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 PAPs' "solutions" will be able to actually solve our nation's problems.

~ Q.E.D.

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

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

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

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


 

The subfield that should have been
.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just how close?

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

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

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

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

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

.

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

. .

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???

This is what 72,000 pages looks like

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

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

 

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

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

 

 
  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.

 

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

 

 

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 PAPs) that produces the greatest level of personal resilience and self-sufficiency possible to society's least capable citizens at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers, and least possible input by government.

  • optimized public education system: a public education system capable of providing every student, regardless of socioeconomic 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.

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

 

 

 

 
 

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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