Monday, March 25, 2013

Week of 03/25/2013

Scouting For A Solution
– by David Matthews 2

I wish I could say that I feel sorry for the Boy Scouts of America.

I really wish I could feel sorry for them.  I used to be a Boy Scout.  Didn’t even get as far as Tenderfoot before I moved to New Hampshire, and by then I really lost interest in it.  It also didn’t help that my memories of my time in the Scouts weren’t as “fraternal” as some others.

But I understand their dilemma that they are currently in.

The Boy Scouts are a private group.  Let’s just get that out of the way.  They are not a government-sponsored group.  However they do get some government funding, not to mention preferential treatment in the military.

Because they are considered a private group, they’re allowed to discriminate in certain matters.  Gender quickly comes to mind.  They are the original “No Girls Allowed” club, which is why there’s a Girl Scouts program to begin with.  And that’s fine, because the Girl Scouts actually come out ahead with their cookie program.

But that’s not the only segment of the populace that they discriminate against.

The second groups they write out are atheists.  The Boy Scouts are quick to claim that religious belief is essential to their make-up.  They work with and even operate out of churches, and while they say that any religious belief will do, they specifically ban atheists and agnostics.  So much for their claim about “respecting the beliefs of others”.

Think about it… a Boy Scout can subscribe to an extremist religious belief, one that defines their followers as being “Warriors for God” and encourages jihad, and the BSA would claim by their policy that it would be preferable to a Scout that lives a “morally-straight” life without justifying it by religious dogma.

But then there is the third group that they write out… homosexuals.  And you don’t need a merit badge to be able to connect the dots as to why that is.  Religious dogma dictates “thou shall not screw with someone with the same plumbing as you” and the Scouts don’t want to go against dogma, because that’s going against “God”, isn’t it?

Of course they don’t fully practice what the dogma preaches, because the second half of that infamous passage says that those that do screw with someone who has the same plumbing as you must be put to death.

Isn’t it funny that with all of those “shall” and “shall not” laws in that particular overrated book, not only do they insist that specific passage be obeyed, but they also fail to follow through with the proscribed “punishment”?  Maybe they should also check their clothing labels, because I do recall there’s an equal prohibition about clothes made of two different threads, and yes that does include cotton and polyester.  And if you have anything made of leather, then you’re also pretty much screwed according to that same book.

So, no gay scouts and no gay scoutmasters according to the “established dogma”…

… Unless the BSA hierarchy decide to change their minds.

For years there has been pressure to do just that.  The Scouts have been told that they are free and clear to discriminate as to who they want in their organization, but to do means there are consequences when it comes to government-run facilities.  Schools have said “no” to the Scouts because their policies conflict with school policies concerning discrimination.  If they want back in, they have to give up their “no gays” policy.  Mexican Restaurant chain Chipotle recently pulled their sponsorship of the BSA for that reason.  And for a while this year, it appeared that the BSA leadership was ready to do just that.  Even celebrities have been sticking their noses in the subject, urging the Scouts to “do the right thing”.

On the other hand, the BSA has been told in no uncertain terms that if they do that, then the religious groups will be pulling their “precious children” out.  Religious extremists have drawn a line-in-the-sand ultimatum concerning the Scouts. 

“Church” or “State”; one or the other, but it has become painfully clear that the Scouts cannot have both.

Listen, I don’t have a horse in this particular race.  I neither gain nor lose anything by the decision of the Boy Scouts of America.  They are a private group and they are entitled to make decisions as to who they want to bring in.  No matter what they do, though, it is clear that their decision on this subject will have consequences for them.

But let’s get brutally honest here… whatever decision they may, they should make it soon and they should be prepared to stand by it no matter what it is.  This idea of theirs that they should announce to make a decision and then postpone it does not show the kind of leadership that the group needs.

And no matter how they decide, they need to make that decision not because of popularity or weighing costs and accessibility.  Being “morally-straight” has nothing to do with politics or money, or, for that matter, sexual preference.  It is about making a decision based on what you believe is the right thing to do, and being willing to accept the consequences - both positive and negative - for that decision.  That is how you truly live a “morally-straight” life!  I happen to know some atheists and agnostics that managed to figure that out all by themselves.

The motto of the Boy Scouts is “Be Prepared”, and perhaps their hierarchy should have followed that motto when it comes to their own policy.  They should have been prepared to open up a firestorm of controversy and discussion no matter which way they went on the subject.  Clearly they weren’t.  They’ll have to find some other way to get that Social Issues Merit Badge.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Week of 03/18/2013

Eric Holder: You Have Failed This Nation - RESIGN!
– by David Matthews 2

It has been whispered about for years now.

People had been theorizing that this was going on.

But it wasn’t until it came out of his own mouth did we know for certain that this was the truth.

The banks that are dubbed “Too Big To Fail” are also apparently too big to be held accountable under the laws of this nation.

This is no longer idle speculation.  This is no longer rumor.

This is straight out of the mouth of one Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States.  Under oath, no less!

Testifying at a Senate Banking Committee this past week, Mr. Holder said the following:

“But I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute — if we do bring a criminal charge — it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large.”

In other words, Mr. Holder is claiming that the banking institution is so pervasive that it cannot be held to account under our legal system for any crimes that they commit.  Any crimes!  To do so, in his own words, threatens the national economy if not the world’s economy.

Mister Holder, this is unacceptable.

For years, Americans have had to watch helplessly as our economy spiral downward on a level that has not been seen since the Great Depression of the 1930’s.  Tens of thousands of Americans have lost their homes, with millions more struggling with ever-dwindling funds to keep their homes. 

And then came the realization that many of those foreclosed homes were taken through a Rube Goldberg system of fraud and deception.  Between robo-signing companies and courts rubber-stamping out-and-out fraud, we have been witness to the biggest real estate swindle since the Manhattan purchase.  Worse yet, this is a criminal activity that is still causing damage to communities coast-to-coast.  Many of those foreclosed houses are left to rot, depressing the property values of their neighbors.

These banks did not just steal houses.  They stole more than just homes.  They stole whole neighborhoods.  They created blight and entropy through their greed and indifference to hard-working Americans.

These banks are the very reason why the Great Recession is still hurting the United States, Mister Holder.  They are why this economy is not recovering as it should.  It is why our country’s debt is not just growing but expanding exponentially year after year.  This is why towns and cities and states don’t have the revenue anymore for education and infrastructure.  They cannot pay for their own police departments because of the homes foreclosed upon by the banks.

We gave these banks billions in taxpayer money, not only to bail them out but for them to then help out the American people.  But instead of help, Mister Holder, the American people have been given nothing but grief.

The more we hear from the banks, the more we hear about criminal activity done in the name of God-Almighty profits.  We hear from families of servicemen deployed overseas who have been foreclosed upon in direct violation of a federal law.  We hear from working families that have lost their homes even though they did nothing wrong.

If you don’t understand the terminology, Mister Holder, that last part is otherwise called larceny.  It’s one of the major crimes.

But what really upsets me is the realization that I have to remind you of that, Mister Holder.  A lone American citizen should not be the one having to remind the Attorney General of the United States about what his job entails!

Nor should I have to be the one to remind you of how things are supposed to work in these situations.

When Enron and WorldCom failed, your predecessors pulled up the paddy wagon and frog-marched executives in front of the media.  We jailed Martha Stewart.  We threw the supposedly “smartest men in the room” behind bars.  These were people with enough political clout to orchestrate the recall of the Governor of California!  People who had given sizable amounts of money to entrenched politicians from both dominant political parties. 

Yes, the economy was in a tailspin then.  Yes, businesses were shut down and countless jobs were lost.  But it didn’t matter then.  They broke the law and they stood trial for it.

When the Savings and Loan institutions fell, your predecessors pulled up the paddy wagon and frog-marched executives in front of the media.  This included Lincoln Savings and Loan, owned by Charles Keating, and his own reach tainted several U.S. Senators, not to mention continuing to ruin the presidential aspirations of one Senator John McCain.

Yes, the economy was in a tailspin then.  Yes, businesses were shut down and countless jobs were lost.  But it didn’t matter then.  They broke the law and they stood trail for it.

And not all of these people that were arrested were successfully convicted.  Ken Lay, CEO of Enron, died before his conviction could be appealed, and thus was given a posthumous exoneration.  Some of those corporate executives and financial “geniuses” managed to escape justice.  But it didn’t matter, because the public was reassured through these arrests and indictments that the executives, these so-called “smartest people in the room” and “masters of the universe”, were not above the law.

That was the rule that the American people have heard time and time again.  No one is above the law.  No person, no entity, no organization, and no institution is above the law.  We have impeached a sitting President of the United States on that very principle!  And we did so for a crime that pales in comparison to the ones facing the banking institutions today.

It is a policy that has been codified in your own department, Mister Holder.  Your own attorneys are told to bring charges against any company, no matter the impact, because even bringing indictments can bring positive change to the system tainted by systemic corruption.

And it is a policy that you have voided with your testimony to the Senate Banking Committee.

By your own words, sir, you claim that the financial institutions cannot be held to account for their criminal activities.  That to bring even one criminal charge against the banks deemed “Too Big To Fail” would result in a hyper-hysterical reaction that would destroy the global economy.

We have ways to deal with any institution deemed “too big”.  Almost a century ago we broke up Standard Oil for that very reason.  Forty years ago we broke up the original AT&T.   It’s called the Sherman Antitrust Act.  It’s the very reason why corporate mergers have to be approved through your department first before they can take effect.

But that brings another scathing question: if you know these institutions are too large to be held to account, then why hasn’t your department invoked the Sherman Act to have them broken up?

However, let’s get brutally honest here, Mister Holder… I don’t expect you to give a clear and honest answer to that question.  You’ve made it quite clear in your testimony to the Senate where your true loyalties lie, and it is not with the very American people that you took an oath to serve.

That is why what I have to say next should be taken in all seriousness.

Eric Holder, you have failed the American people in your role as Attorney General.  By siding with banks instead of the American people, you have broken the trust the people have in the very system you claim to champion.  At the very least, sir, you are guilty of cowardice, if not ineptitude.

Mister Holder, you need to leave.

I am calling on all Americans to demand your resignation, Mister Holder.  It has become apparent that there can be no justice for the American people when it comes to the out-and-out criminal activities of the financial institutions.  Countless thousands have already suffered needlessly through the bureaucratic nightmares of the banking industry because of your refusal to hold them accountable. 

How many more hard-working Americans have to suffer because of your ineptitude, Mister Holder?  How many more have to lose their homes through no fault of their own because of your “fear” of the banks and their hyper-hysterical threats of global financial collapse?

Our system of government is based on the rule of law, Mister Holder.  That means that nobody, not even the President of the United States, is above it.  That includes big multinational corporations, and even the big banks.  Your refusal to hold them to account for out-and-out criminal activities is in violation of that very principle.  As long as you are in office, there is no rule of law anymore.  There is only rule of the banks; and that is a despotism that sorely needs to be overthrown at its earliest opportunity, starting, Mister Holder, with you.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Week of 03/11/2013

It Has To Hurt
– by David Matthews 2

Here’s a little message from one former card-carrying member of the GOP: if you’re going to hurt people, you have to own the pain.

The parent that tries to rationalize that punishing their child “hurts me more than it hurts you” is lying, especially when corporeal punishment is being used.  Causing pain to a child, either through physical contact or chemical attack (i.e. hot sauce), is far more traumatic to your child than your “perceived” pain as a parent.  The parent is not physically flogging himself or herself after beating the child.  They’re not scalding their own tongues after engaging in chemical punishment.  They know the child is going to cry, even if they’re not being maimed and scarred for life.  Only a real sadist - and an unfit parent - will then demand that the child not cry or show any emotion to being punished.  You may not like to hear the child cry out in pain, but that’s the only way you know that the punishment is supposedly working.

This is something that the GOP apparently does not understand.

These self-professed champions of austerity seem to think that budget cuts should be painless, endured with a sense of silent misery and quiet desperation normally reserved for depressed people, abuse victims, and sufferers of (insert illness of the day here).  They carry on with an odorously pompous self-serving attitude that we all should just sit the “bleep” down and shut the “bleep” up and just take our medicine and ask for more.  I would normally follow through with the old saying about how we all should just lay back and like it, in reference to a certain non-consensual act, but the GOP has also taken it upon themselves of late to haggle over whether that particular act is “legitimate” or not.

Understand that those within the GOP live in a world detached from the rest of us.  And that detachment is nothing new. 

Much like the nobles in France, they have effectively zoned themselves away from the “peasants”, and they surround themselves with like-minded people.  French nobles didn’t connect or interact with “peasants”.  They were just abstract ideas as far as the French nobles were concerned.  “Peasants” weren’t “people” in the minds of the French nobles; they were just filthy animals that should be thankful they have a purpose in “their world”.

In the case of our modern-day French Noblesse, the GOP surround themselves with big corporate minds and big money bankers and big money lobbyists and well-financed economic think-tanks.  These are all groups that reduce the state of humanity to simple numbers on a spreadsheet.  They don’t see you as a human being, but rather as a series of identification numbers on a piece of paper or on a monitor screen.  That’s all that we are to them.  We’re not people; just digits.  You know, like Mitt Romney’s infamous “forty-seven percent”.

So when the GOP goes over the budget, they don’t see human beings in the various programs.  They just see numbers.  They see that “X”-amount of money is going to an account ID.  They don’t know - and they probably don’t want to know either - that the account ID is actually a mother with three kids struggling to make ends meet.  They just see numbers and amounts and they make a judgment call about what they think those numbers should really be, just like all their friends in Wall Street and the banking industry and Big Corporate see.  No human beings; just digits.

That probably explains why the GOP has this virtually sick, sadistic, sociopathic attitude when it comes to budget cuts.  They don’t see these cuts affecting human beings.  They just see numbers.

This probably also explains why the GOP are taken back when people make a big deal about those cuts.  Their conservative proxies are sending out editorials asking what the big deal is over the dreaded budget sequestration.  Why are their party benefactors picking fights over who came up with the idea?  It’s what they wanted anyway, right?

They even go so far as to threaten President Obama to supposedly not politicize the jobs that would have to be furloughed because of sequestration.  It’s a little too late for that, don’t you think?  It’s like sending the police to foreclose on a family’s home, kicking everyone to the curb and having their belonging thrown out on the lawn, and then showing up to hand them all surveys to fill out and then asking them to be objective… and honestly expecting them to!

Let’s get brutally honest here, GOP… budget cuts are supposed to hurt!  They are supposed to be painful!

You are interrupting plans, destroying projects, ruining careers, shattering dreams, sending people into economic tailspins, and otherwise making life miserable for literally millions of people across the country with your actions.  If you honestly expect those people to simply wince at all that and say “Thank you sir may I have another” like Kevin Bacon in “National Lampoon’s Animal House”, then you need serious professional help, not to mention be removed from any kind of decision-making process that involves human beings.

So the White House ends their tours.  So air traffic controllers get thinned out.  So federal inspectors and regulators can’t do their jobs as well.  Aren’t these things that you were looking to do anyway with all of your pseudo-Reagan rhetoric about a bloated government?

Speaking of which, I’m just curious… how many of your staff members will be taking furloughs?  How much are your own offices sacrificing?  You expect us to weather these losses without complaint, so maybe you should take it upon yourself to show that it really is “hurting you more than it is hurting us”, as the old corporal punishment lie goes.

Besides, we all know it could be worse.  You think people are complaining here about budget cuts?  It’s nothing compared to how people are complaining about cuts in Europe!  You can still ride your cushy limousines from your cushy homes all the way to your cushy marble Congressional offices and not worry about protesters shutting off the streets or rioters destroying the Washington Mall.  It wasn’t always like that, you know.

So stop complaining about people complaining about the forced budget sequestration and all of the cuts that are being done because of it.  Be thankful that those “ungrateful peasants” are not acting like their French counterparts of two centuries ago… where such “Let them eat cake” mentalities resulted in the literal loss of one’s head.  Now those are cuts that really hurt!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Week of 03/04/2013

Do You Know The Why?
– by David Matthews 2

In the “Matrix” movie series, there is a rather annoying villain known as “The Merovingian”.  He (technically “it” since it is a sentient program within a digital realm) prides himself as being a trafficker of information.  He makes it his business to know things within the world of the Matrix.  Not only knowing the “who”, the “what”, the “where”, then when”, and the “how” of things but also most importantly the “why”.  It is this last qualifier that “Merv” takes great pride in, especially in flaunting his knowledge of the Matrix in the face of our trio of protagonists.

You see, “Merv” is a sentient program, and like all sentient programs, he does not understand the concept of choice.  In his mind, there is no such thing as choice.  There is only cause and effect.  Everything happens because of causality.  He demonstrates this by describing how a slice of “special” cheesecake (by his own programmed design) has a step-by-step effect on the “female” sentient program that consumes it which inevitably drives her to have an unseen “encounter” with him.  It is all by design, of course, even if she was not aware of it.  It is reduced to being a simple program statement of “If X then Y”, with “X” being the cause and “Y” being the effect.

Of course “Merv” fails to mention that there was no real cause for him to engage in his little program of seduction other than out of choice.  “Merv” chose to seduce the diner with his “special desert” instead of turning to his wife for whatever personal “cause” needed to be “effected”.  (Yes, apparently emotions exist in sentient programs within the world of The Matrix, which is about as illogical as you can get.)

But “Merv” does bring up an interesting question for us all to ask… do you know the “why” of things?

Sometimes “why” is the one question that we cannot answer.  Either we don’t want to know the “why” or there are others that don’t want us to know the “why”.

Take, for instance, unions.

Liberals love unions.  Conservatives despise them.  One side tries to give unions all sorts of power, and the other side tries to dismantle and destroy unions at every opportunity.

But why do unions exist?  Why did they come to be in the first place?

Well here’s the painfully-simple answer: unions exist because of abusive management.

You take a look at the history of the various union movements and you’ll see a common theme in each of them.  In many of these situations you’ll see people being put in hazardous or abusive environments, sometimes even dehumanizing positions, and with economic divides so vast that you can’t help but compare them to the old feudal systems.

What unions claim to offer, then, is a buffer from abusive management.  They use the power of the collective to fight for things that they believe the employees deserve, like better pay, paid holidays, employee benefits, and also to not be treated as slave labor.

Do I agree with the concept?  No.  It’s a poor substitute for what needs to be put in place, which is good management.  But I do understand why it exists.

Likewise, I can understand why conservative efforts to dismantle the power of unions will ultimately fail.  Their efforts fail because they refuse to deal with the core reason why those unions exist in the first place.

I have heard of at least two communities here in the southern parts of the United States that were virulently anti-union when they would welcome a new business into the area; that would boast of chasing out anyone that even smelled like a union representative.  These same communities, in a matter of just a few years after welcoming that business in, would become union supporters.  Why?  Because of how that business treated its local employees.

Imagine what would happen if the conservatives focused their efforts not on the unions, but on Corporate America, and told them to clean up their act, to stop treating their businesses like vassal states, and to treat their employees as they would expected to be treated themselves.  (I seem to recall a certain carpenter’s son said something like that in a book that the conservatives claim to revere.)  What would happen?  Eventually you would remove the reason for a union to be there.  And as long as you did those things, you wouldn’t have to worry about a union, because the employees wouldn’t feel screwed over enough to want one.

Think about it: no trickery, no political manipulations, no strong-arm tactics needed.  Just a change in business attitude and policy is all that is really needed

But I also don’t see that happening anytime soon.  Why?  Because those in charge of the business world are currently fixated on profits over everything else, including the sustainability of the business world itself.  They would rather allow abusive practices and weather the hassles with unions than to do the right thing because the abusive practices bring in more profit for them.

Did you see that?  The whole issue of unions was spelled out in a way that pretty much everyone could understand by giving three answers to the question of “why”.

So why does it seem like I’m the only one willing to answer those questions?  Because liberals and conservatives and their respective proxies do not want you to know those “why” answers!  Liberals don’t want you know that unions are a poor substitute to what needs to be done; and conservatives certainly don’t want you to know that their efforts ultimately sustain the conflict because they refuse to deal with the reasons why the unions exist in the first place.

That now makes four “whys” easily answered on the subject.

Let’s change subjects… let’s look at America’s rather protracted method of selecting their Presidents.

Contrary to the media and politicians, the guy sitting in the Oval Office right now was not elected by the American people!  Nor were any of the other people that served as President.  With the exception of Gerald Ford, every President in American history was elected through an intermediary group called the Electoral College, whose members end up being elected by the voters.

And it seems that, after recent elections, people begin to wonder why we even have this indirect method in the first place.  And, by no coincidence, the group that seems to complain the loudest about the “unfairness” of the Electoral College system is usually the same group that recently lost the Presidential election.

But why do we have this system in the first place?

Quite simply, because America’s founding fathers did not trust the “will of the people” to decide who sits in the highest office in the country.

Men like Thomas Jefferson knew that the most abusive form of power in humanity is that of the mob.  And that is really what democracy in its purest form is: mob rule.

Much like the bicameral legislature and the concept of “checks-and-balances”, the job of selecting the President was a compromise between supporters of individual rights and proponents of states’ rights.  The masses would play “a role”, but it wouldn’t be “the deciding role”, because they would only vote for the delegates, and those delegates would then haggle and argue over who would become President.  And to supposedly prevent gaming the system, those delegates selected could not be people already in a position of power.

So why is the system so messed up now?  Well it’s not really messed up.  It’s only “wrong” if you feel that “your” candidates are losing all the time.  It’s not a perfect system by far, and it does open itself up to selective campaigning, to where certain states with the largest number of electoral delegates would get all of the attention at the expense of the other states.

You know what really ruins the process? Political parties.  When this system was first put in place, America had no formal political parties whatsoever, something that President George Washington even commended.  The idea of “Democrats versus Republicans” didn’t even start until the Civil War, and even then there were several third-party groups that had some pull in the system. 

The two dominant political parties since the Civil War have been doing everything in their power to game the system to their favor, from their own primary and caucus systems to orchestrating debates and even the orchestrated messes they call national conventions.  So it should not be a surprise to anyone that after all of that meticulous egotistical manipulation, the people within the major party that ultimately loses would cry “unfair”.

Like I said earlier, it’s not a perfect process.  There is plenty of room for improvement.  But before can we do that, we need to answer the question of “who” is pushing for that change, and most importantly “why” they are pushing for it.  If it’s just so the party that complains the loudest can start winning elections, then you’re not really improving the process.  You are, in fact, only making it worse.

Speaking of that process… do you know the “why” behind the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution?  The reason why we have the “Bill of Rights” in the first place is because at some point in America’s history, each of the things that we now say government is not “supposed” to do, they actually did.

Take the Third Amendment, which prohibits the government from putting soldiers into your homes and forcing you to feed and shelter them.  At one point the British government did just that to their colonists.

It seems useless now, but imagine not too far into the future you get a knock on the door and someone from the Department of Homeland Security tells you that they suspect an al Qaeda terror cell is in your neighborhood and they want you to put up some federal agents for an undetermined amount of time.  Oh, and you have to pay for their food and living expenses because of budget cuts.  Not possible, you say?  It’s quite possible.  Not only that, but some talking hemorrhoid from Fox News would probably call you “Un-American” if you said no to the idea.

Now let’s talk about regulations.  Conservatives and neo-conservatives like to bitch and whine about regulations, but only when they’re not the ones writing or enforcing them.  They complain about the Environmental Protection Agency or the Food and Drug Administration, but they have no qualms using the Federal Communications Commission to censor TV and radio.  Even on the local level, they whine about building codes and housing regulations, but they have no problem using zoning regulations to get rid of the businesses they don’t like.  They also don’t seem to mind requiring that every profession in the area be licensed and certified.  Oh, you want to start a dog-walking business?  That’ll be $300-per-year plus a mandatory six-month certification program before you can even touch a canine, and you have to be licensed and bonded and go through a rigorous background check.

Lost in the practicing hypocrisy is the very reason why such regulations even exist in the first place.  And here we actually have two different answers to “why”.

The first reason why has to do with maintaining the current business dominance.  Some other dog-walker or kennel business wants to make sure that they’re the only business in the area, so they write the regulations that make it cost-prohibitive for anyone else to set up shop.  Of course, they get to be grandfathered into the regulations so they wouldn’t have to deal with the hassles of complying to their own creation, but if anyone else tries to get in, it sucks to be them.

Look at who authors many of those regulations and who supports them and you’ll realize the why.  There are even special interest groups that have “Fill-In-The-Blank” legislative forms for regulations that are specifically designed to advance whatever local business needs that political advantage.

And then there’s a second and more practical reason behind the “why” of regulations: because at some point the businesses in question abused the trust they were given.

Remember when Hurricane Andrew barreled through the southern part of Florida in 1992?  Thousands of homes were flattened because of substandard construction.  Homes that should have survived and weathered the storm didn’t because they were built poorly.  Builders that were supposed to build homes the right way subcontracted out to those that didn’t, and repeated the process again, so on and so forth.  Eleven insurance carriers ended up going bankrupt, and almost a million residents lost their insurance coverage because of this.  Guess what happened afterward?  New building regulations.  People demanded that builders clean up their act and they put it in writing to supposedly make sure that it happened.  Or at least that’s the reason in theory.

Does it work?  Well, not really.

The local media here in the Atlanta area have taken great pains when it comes to business abuses to point out if a business is not supposedly covered by some regulatory agency, as if that would be an automatic cure to all of our ills.  And yet, all you have to do is look at the number of times that corporate executives get away with out-and-out criminal activities by only paying a pittance of a fine to see just how “successful” regulatory oversight really is.

But why doesn’t it work?  Well, you have to go back to the two reasons why regulations exist in the first place.  Either they are put in to maintain industry dominance, or else they are put in after-the-fact to give the appearance of responsibility and accountability.  When you figure out which “why” applies to that regulatory body, you’ll know who they are really servicing and what their ultimate purpose of existence really is.

Let’s get brutally honest here… being able to answer “why” is a real game-changer for certain subjects that are plaguing us as a society.  It also explains why those in power do not want you to think about the “why”… because knowledge is power, and keeping others ignorant is a great way to keep that power.

As long as we are kept away from dealing with the “why” of an issue, that issue will never go away.  Politicians and pundits and media personalities and Big Business can heap phony panacea atop phony panacea and pretend to be outraged at someone else’s phony panacea; all the while knowing that that nothing concrete will ever be done because they are intentionally keeping the masses ignorant of the “why”.

“The Merovingian” was an excellent antagonist for the world of “The Matrix” in that he represented the smug elite minds in positions of power through no other reason that because they know something they don’t want the rest of us to know.  Whether it’s “Too Big To Fail” or “Big Oil” or Fox News or the people behind the so-called “Tea Party” crowd, their real power rests in keeping us ignorant.  Their greatest fear, then, is the day when people like you or I start asking one simple question: “Why?”