A Critique of
Everything
An Ineffable
Nail Down of the
Inexplicable
James O B Wright
312 Dixon Cove Road
Chattanooga, Tennessee 37374
(423) 942 1725
Copyright © 2011, 2012 and 2013
All rights reserved.
James O B Wright.
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CONTENTS
A CRITIQUE OF EVERYTHING
AN INEFFABLE NAIL DOWN OF THE INEXPLICABLE
Foreword
page 4
Paving Stones
page 5
Approaching Our Destination
page 6
Chapter One
The Road to Hell:
Paving the Way
page 7
With nearly everybody trying to make the world a better
place to live, why aren’t things getting better? Good
intentions are not enough. The Road to Hell essays explain
why and what we need to do about it in the following
subtopics:
Adam Smith’s Legacy, page 8; Insatiable Hunger,
page 14; Acquired Habits, page 16; Our Upbringing,
page 20; Our Ties, page 24; Tested Remedy, page
27; Weighing Facts, page 36; Weakened Links, page
43; Station WIFM, page 45; Hope, page 50; A
Parochial Outlook, page 58; Serendipity, page 69;
Information, page 81; Myopia, page 86; Voodoo
Solutions, page 97; Responsibility, page 100;
Security, page 104; Equal Protection, page 107;
Nature’s M.O., page 115; Legal Necessities, page
124; The Matrix, page 130; Stopping Point, page
153; Ever After, page 157; Seriously, page 159.
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Epicycles
Chapter Two
Everything Else
page 168
page 169
The idea that building a strong constituency of free,
freethinking, responsible people would result in the
changes we seek needs the further evidence and
explanations presented here which, coincidentally, report a
serendipitous discovery uncovering an overlooked reality
which might have a revolutionary impact on how we
perceive the universe.
Four Colors, page 173; Detour, page 180; The
Visitor, page 181; Shared Experiences, page 185;
Neglected Technology, page 191; Bridging Worlds,
page 197; Ethereal Stuff, page 205; Questions,
page 211; Possibilities, page 222; Attitude, page
228; Ergonomic Design, page 240;Vibrations, page
252; No Bills, page 254
Christmas Eve
Chapter Three
Beyond Everything
page 262
page 263
The author offers suggestions about restoring abandoned
innocence, recognizing the elegant essence of the world,
acquiring a sensible way of thinking and answering why
and how all that shall come about.
Sustainability, page 271; The Militia, page 272;
Order, page 273; The Ory, page 277;
Reconnecting, page 285; A Flash Back, page 287;
Netlords, page 290; Disparity, page 291; Flies,
page 298; Postscript, page 301; Bonuses, page 320
Bibliography
page 325
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Foreword
The emperor has no close on! -- our ineffable
inexplicable shroud does not exist. On examination, I
discovered that the fabric is the same as that which the
emperor wore. Everybody is too embarrassed to admit that
they don’t see the complexity that they believe everybody
else sees, and that only specialists can explain.
The world is actually elegantly simple. We overlook
that elegantly uncomplicated reality because we believe
that informed people are so sure that it’s complicated,
The book tells the story of how I arrived at this
conclusion. In the story I provide evidence and wrap up
with a perspective and way of thinking that should save us
from what might be an impending global extinction.
The first chapter begins with questioning why our
wonderful modern conveniences and labor saving devices
haven’t relieved us of some of the stress of providing for a
pleasant livelihood. What I turned up suggested the title,
“The Road to Hell, Paving the Way.” I am pleased,
however, to be able to suggest remedial action that alters
that course and gets us headed in the right direction.
In the second chapter, the muses, those mythical spirits
that help writers, intervened. They provided evidence that
our perceived complexity was contrived. The contrived
complexity dominates our culture, most professions and
what we are taught. That delusion will be corrected by
forthcoming innocent generations that can see through the
contrived complexities.
Chapter three wraps things up with a pleasant closing
thought suggested by my great grandchildren.
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PAVING STONES
ADAM SMITH’S LEGACY
INSATIABLE HUNGER
ACQUIRED HABITS
OUR UPBRINGING
OUR TIES
TESTED REMEDY
WEIGHING FACTS
WEAKENED LINKS
STATION WIFM
HOPE
A PAROCHIAL OUTLOOK
SERENDIPITY
INFORMATION
MYOPIA
VOODOO SOLUTIONS
RESPONSIBILITY
SECURITY
EQUAL PROTECTION
NATURE’S M.O.
LEGAL NECESSITIES
THE MATRIX
STOPPING POINT
EVER AFTER
SERIOUSLY
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Approaching the destination of the road being paved
“E’en in like manner Adam’s evil brood casts
themselves”
Dante Inferno
Illustrated by
Gustave Dore
Chapter One
The Road to Hell,
Paving the Way
Something inexplicable is going on. I decided to
investigate. Evidence that I uncovered needed explanations
and increased the mystery. When I started, I had no idea of
where the investigation would lead. Each piece of evidence
led to another and I found that exciting. As I proceeded, I
uncovered and logged mounting evidence which needed
further explanations. In editing notes, I made an effort to
preserve the sense of mystery and excitement that I
experienced in the investigation, hoping that it would
interest readers the way it did me. Risking exposure to
ridicule, I retained many dumb and naïve ideas in this copy
to illustrate the latitude of my thoughts so you might
observe the approach in solving problems that I find most
successful. The investigation uncovered an outrageous and
unimaginably complicated system by which we all live -- a
system which could be leading us to our own extinction.
The inexplicable behavior that precipitated the
investigation has gone on for thousands of years.
The reason that the smartest of us haven’t solved the
daunting mystery is several fold. There is so much
feedback that logical models become chaotic. There are
countless unidentifiable variables and intertwined cause
and effect relationships and other problems that are best
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described by Escher’s drawings and explained by Gödel’s
incompleteness theorem.
Though subconsciously I should have known better, I
had felt confident and considered myself living and
working in a comfortable and rational world until I began
this investigation. So you might detect the struggle that I
had with my subconscious throughout the investigation.
This personal struggle, in itself, might interest some readers
and hopefully not annoy others. This chapter documents
numerous intertwined forces that illustrate the inexplicable
complexity to which I refer and provides remedies for
many symptoms and a way to reach pleasant sustainable
ways of living.
ADAM SMITH’S LEGACY
At siesta time, I would feel guilty for stretching out and
relaxing in my hammock if I were not doing something
productive. I rationalize that solving thought problems is
productive enough to satisfy my conscience. At least it is
somewhat comparable to work I did to support my family,
but much less stressful. Recently, I found myself
contemplating the past, present and exciting possibilities
for the future. Our past and where that is taking us
constitutes many interesting questions for which we need
some answers.
Since I go back a ways, I have the advantage. I
remember when a penny post card cost one cent. When
fresh milk, milked that morning or in the previous late
afternoon, was delivered to the door. When “fresh” was
defined that way – gathered, picked, harvested and
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delivered before it lost God’s intended texture and flavor.
When it took less than half an hour on the street car to
travel from Five Points (downtown Atlanta) to Marietta
during rush hours, and when the whole family could enjoy
each other’s company at breakfast and supper.
We have many labor-saving devices that had not
existed until recently, yet we work more. We have paved
roads and better cars, yet we spend more hours on the road
not getting anywhere. Our farms are many times as
productive, yet it takes larger farms to support a family.
Our food is the cheapest and safest in the world and we
have food stamps, food banks, tax supported meals in
schools, and more, yet Americans suffer malnutrition. As
proof, consider the American shape. Our health problems
are obvious, many that could be due to our having replaced
nutritious food with unhealthy calorie-loaded stuff. Even
otherwise nutritious foods have lost significant nutritional
value, having been processed into commodities to
accommodate our global system of growing, harvesting,
storing, shipping and marketing them. We may spend
hours exchanging e-mail with someone we don’t know on
the other side of the world, and people we don’t know can
phone us at dinner time, but it’s nearly impossible to query
our doctor when needed and it takes hours to get past
“customer service” to someone who knows something
about their company’s products that need to be serviced.
Weather satellites and super-duper computers haven’t
improved weather forecasting noticeably in my lifetime.
You get the picture. You see why I find myself
wondering about what’s happening. I’ve lived long enough
to sense the pattern. Timesaving devices haven’t
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accomplished what they were supposed to do. They have
not made life easier or provided the free time one might
expect, and there aren’t enough hours in the day to do what
we feel that we need to do. Modern conveniences enable
us to call home while waiting in line, waiting for the
elevator, waiting for the light to turn green or for the traffic
to get moving again. And while we wait we may stay busy
placing orders with our stockbroker or getting an update on
our net worth or having a satellite pinpoint our whereabouts
that we had lost track of because we had been too busy to
pay attention to where we were going. But what good does
all this extra busyness accomplish? We are too busy to
wonder why we are so busy.
We are, in fact, busy as bees. We are becoming a
beehive. An anthill. Well, almost. We are similar in that
we are driven to be busy. Both we and the bees are driven
to accumulate stuff. The bee’s existence depends on what
it puts away for the winter. The same for us, originally.
Originally our lives depended on saving for hard times.
Now our wealth far exceeds that. Nowadays, we are at a
loss as to what to do with our surplus wealth. It’s finally
beginning to occur to some of us that enough is enough and
that more is not necessarily better.
In the case of insects, the division of labor is
predestined. In our case, we are persuaded that we have a
choice. Insects do what they are programmed to do, and
that’s it. We have programmed ourselves to feel
uncomfortable if we aren’t busy doing something. If not
busy with essentials such as breadwinning, tucking in the
children, writing a letter, making arrangements over the
phone for doing whatever, taking out the garbage, changing
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diapers, cooking supper, taking the children to their music
lessons, compiling information for the accountant to keep
him busy, doing the laundry, going to church, fixing the
car, Christmas shopping, wrapping gifts, cleaning house,
paying bills, changing smoke alarm batteries, or fixing the
drip in the kitchen, we busy ourselves with less essential
things such as reading the morning paper, hitting the links,
visiting neighbors, having company over, drowning worms,
reading a book, studying for that MBA degree, planning a
ski trip, working out at the health club, going to a movie,
dining out, doing volunteer work, going to an art festival,
or slouching in front of the TV. And there’s much more.
Rarely can we find time to do a completely frivolous thing
without feeling guilty.
Bees and ants keep busy staying alive. We keep busy
increasing our gross domestic product. The bees and the
ants are busy gathering food, procreating and maintaining
and defending the hive. Ever increasing the gross domestic
product requires diligence on our part. It’s hard, time
consuming work. Where there’s a will there’s a way and
there’s plenty will. Libertarians, liberals, conservatives,
democrats, republicans, independents, communists and
capitalists all agree that the GDP must keep growing. As
backup, we can depend on all levels of government for the
needed increase in the GDP by their spending and creating
inefficiencies in the private sector through regulations.
An embarrassing comparison between the bees and us
is that bees produce excess honey and pollinate flowers and
crops for us while we deplete resources and trash our
environment. I wonder why we have such insatiable needs
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and are so insensitive to the troubles that our expectations
invite.
One would think the industrial, technological and
information revolutions would ease our workload. Instead,
that logical outcome is thwarted by efforts to keep the
economy healthy by ever-increasing the gross domestic
product. We have been squandering chances of
improvement in the quality of life by creating new
necessities and spurious conveniences. We have gone
along with the idea of increasing the GDP because nobody
has had time to question its validity. Modern conveniences
could provide time for fulfilling our true potential, but
increasing productivity would decrease the GDP and
decreasing the GDP is unthinkable. Unfortunately,
improved productivity must be balanced by wasting
precious resources and by the creation of new necessities so
that the GDP will continue increasing. I shall return to the
arguable assertion that increasing productivity decreases
the GDP. The GDP factors in retail price which should
reflect improvement of the efficiency of production.
Rest assured, as long as we continue ever-increasing
our gross domestic product, we’ll continue to become
busier and busier. We’ll be busier than we are now. We’ll
be producing and consuming a lot more stuff. Whether on
the time clock or not, we’ll be working more hours,
commuting more, being trained more, and retiring older.
We’ll spend more time filling in forms, being put on hold,
dealing with menus that don’t make sense and lack the
badly needed “none of the above” option. We’ll spend
more time trying to think like a nerd so we can use modern
conveniences for which no one could write clear
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instructions. We’ll waste time screening e-mail for
messages that won’t waste our time. We’ll be taking more
supplements to replace that which was lost in more
processing, building more prisons, waiting on ourselves
more often in our present “service based economy,”
opening more individualized packages that are nearly
impossible to open, disposing of or recycling redundant
wrappings, waging more wars, being re-schooled to meet
newly created challenges and spending more time with
paramedics, paralegals and paratherapists.
Better transportation equipment and more
transportation corridors won’t lessen traveling or
commuting time. It never has. But we will need more
conveniences such as vending machines, bars, Wi-Fi,
freezers and microwaves in those conveyances so that we
can make better use of the time we spend commuting.
Depletion of fossil fuels or mineral resources or readily
available fresh water won’t deter us. Instead, having fewer
resources will give us more to do. Recycling, developing
alternative fuels and materials, and producing products that
will conserve energy, raw materials and water will add to
our GDP and keep us busy. A substitute for sleep, which
must be developed before our frenzy kills us, will provide
more time for our ever-increasing work load.
The frenzy is not the problem. It’s the stress, anxiety,
waste and missed opportunities that bother me. Perhaps I
may have subconsciously overemphasized the frenzy aspect
because I prefer peace and quiet to perpetual excitement. I
confess that I was known as the retiring one amongst my
rollicking siblings. Frequent pleads from my younger
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brother were, “Let’s do something” whenever our activities
threatened to wind down.
Future generations may have plenty of leisure time
loaded with exciting possibilities. By leisure I mean time
to take a breath or engage in rewarding activities of one’s
choosing. It may be a quiet and peaceful time, involve
mental, social or physical challenges, or time to take a trip
or to enjoy a concert or an ocean cruise. We have the
technology. We must simply learn what we must do so that
what can happen will happen.
INSATIABLE HUNGER
Early in the twentieth century a study was made to
determine what rats would eat if they were given a choice
between their usual ration and sugar. Many of the rats
liked sugar and eventually began eating sugar exclusively.
Those rats ate more, got fat and died prematurely.
This research came to mind as a possible explanation
of why we are hellbent on accumulating more and more
and why we are unable to enjoy the benefit of our increased
productivity. If what we are doing to ourselves was carried
to the extreme, would it kill us too?
The rats that ate the sugar might simply have eaten it
because they liked the taste and ate more than their body
needed because of boredom – simply because they didn’t
have much else to do in their cage. The rats that chose their
usual ration didn’t have that problem.
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On the other hand, those eating the sugar may have
eaten more to sustain the sugar high, hoping to indefinitely
put off or soften the lows that usually follow highs.
It is even more plausible that the rats eating sugar ate
more because they were hungry. Hungry because the sugar
they ate did not have all the nutrients their bodies required
to be healthy and that this deficiency had sent the message
to the brain, stomach or whatever that they needed to eat –
that they were hungry.
If sugar kills the rats by depriving them of lifesustaining nutrients, then it is a poison. Some of the
original sulfa drugs killed bacteria by mimicking the food
that sustains the bacteria, causing the bacteria to “starve”
and die out. Hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide kill
by replacing oxygen in blood corpuscles so that the victim
starves for oxygen. So sugar and overly processed foods
that are deficient in essential nutrients might be considered
poisons by displacing life-sustaining nutrients. But that’s a
different story.
We might conclude that man is insatiable for more and
more because he is deprived of something essential for his
healthy existence. Money, power and stuff that money and
power can buy are the poisons. What’s missing? What is
that which we are starved for that is being displaced by
money, power and the ever-increasing GDP? That is what
we need to know. An answer to that might be the key to
our identifying what’s keeping us from reaping the
expected benefits that we are due from our fantastic
technological advances, improved productivity and
laborsaving devices.
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I feel certain that a missing essential is to blame for our
insatiable hunger. Something is missing that is vital for our
healthy existence and survival. For most of us, personal
fulfillment is what we are missing and that something
comes in many forms.
But what prevents us from pursuing whatever that
would satisfy that yearning which cannot be soothed by
more money, stuff and ever-increasing GDP? Read on.
ACQUIRED HABITS
Yes, we are busy as bees. But what the bees do makes
sense while what we do doesn’t. It hasn’t always been that
way. At least, I don’t think so. I have never resented the
effort it has taken me to provide means for my family to
live a comfortable, enjoyable life. But I see so many young
people my children’s and grandchildren’s ages that are
seriously stressed out. I cringe at the thought of so many
people with serious needs throughout the world. I suspect
many global conflicts are caused by our need for that everincreasing stuff. Furthermore, I realize that our many
modern conveniences should enable us to live better lives
with less effort. Considering the possibility of conserving a
significant proportion of what is not required for
sustenance, comfort and entertainment suggests that we
might expect a less stressful existence if we should decide
to curtail that waste.
Some anthropologists suggest that before we began to
become civilized, we were mostly peaceful folk, brought
together for mutual protection. At that time we stayed busy
hunting and gathering and taking care of essentials. Our
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ancient ancestors’ survival depended, not only on their
thumbs that enabled them to physically grasp things, but
also on their large brains – some say, more dependent, to a
much greater extent, than that which we are for our survival
nowadays in our civilized world.
In The Protestant Ethic, Max Weber offers credible
evidence that “man does not ‘by nature’ wish to earn more
and more money, but that he simply wants to live as he is
accustomed, and to earn as much as necessary for that
purpose.” Weber explained that we didn’t get rich because
that was what we were trying to do. It was prudent to work
hard and save for a rainy day. The Puritans and other
ascetics toiled away but didn’t spend. Instead, they
invested what they had squirreled away. My Scottish greatgrandfather did that. He accumulated enough to last two
generations. Members of the ascetic sects considered their
work a religious calling. Others saw it as a duty –
stewardship or whatever – for whatever reason.
(“Whatever for whatever reason” describes my greatgrandfather). Ben, portrayed in Cormac McCarthy’s play,
Stonemason, is the epitome of Weber’s Protestant. His
wealth was not in money, but in a lifetime fulfillment –
using his God-given talent to build stone structures the way
God intended.
John Wesley observed that if Christians are told to live
frugal lives and work diligently they will become rich.
Though he realized that ultimately they or subsequent
generations would become corrupted by that wealth, he felt
they should continue to be so instructed. Wesley was right
on that score. We have become rich and our riches have
corrupted us. Our being so busy, however, isn’t
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satisfactorily explained by Adam Smith, Max Weber or
John Wesley, all of whom aspired working diligently.
Definitely, the forces that they describe are important, but
there are many other contributing factors at work that might
better explain what’s happening.
Thorstein Veblen in The Theory of the Leisure Class
explains how our culture evolved to what it is today. It all
began with the hunt. The hunt of big game and the
development of weapons that made the hunt successful.
Men, being better suited for the task, were the hunters and
the women stayed home, looking after things. The
weapons provided free time by replacing lengthy hours
spent collecting food. Their superior weapons and the time
gained by the hunting of big game with weapons made
possible the raiding of neighbors for women and useful
stuff, and lead to concepts of ownership, property, wealth
and the need to display trophies as proof of their prowess.
Man, the hunter, became more than a complement of
woman. He owned the women and booty that he had
captured in raids. The women, who tended to things at
home when the men were out doing their thing, performed
all the menial tasks. In time, division of labor became
defined along those lines.
From this primitive beginning evolved feudalism. All
societies, with rare exceptions, evolved this way according
to Veblen. In feudal Europe and feudal Japan the upper
classes were exempt from productive vocations. The men
were reserved for certain employments to which a degree
of honor is attached -- hunting, warfare and priestly service.
Developed further, to these non-productive occupations,
politics, sports, and learning, were added. Women’s work
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was an outgrowth of the productive occupations excluded
by the leisure class in the primitive community. Veblen’s
book concentrates on the evolution of such absurdities as
the title of his book suggests.
It seems that wherever private property exists there is a
struggle between men for possession of goods. Originally
the struggle for wealth was justified as a need for
sustenance, but as essentials became assured the reason for
the struggle shifted to acquiring material comforts. Veblen
observed that accumulation invariably proceeds beyond
satisfying all imaginable physical comforts. “The motive
that lies at the root of ownership is emulation.” Maybe so,
but I see the problem is that we simply don’t know what to
do with all of our wealth. Surely our wealth can be put to a
better use than something to show – to prove man’s
prowess.
Active emulation and invidious distinction based on
displayed wealth is what keeps us busy, today. We prove
our place in society and judge others by the display of
conspicuous consumption, vicarious consumption,
conspicuous leisure and conspicuous waste. (Veblen’s
phrases)
The “habit of life and thought” that distinguishes our
leisure class pervades all levels of society. Our concept of
ownership began when we became predators of large
animals. What we believe we need to own has evolved on
grounds unrelated to the sustenance minimum. Ever since
man developed weapons, the dominant incentive for
accumulating wealth has increasingly become invidious
distinction. Ninety percent of what keeps us so busy is
satisfying an absurd urge to imitate those we judge to be
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better off than ourselves, to emulate, to play the game,
invidious distinction, both up and down the social ladder.
Emulation and domination are the spirits that
characterize our habit of life and thought. Conspicuous
consumption, vicarious consumption, conspicuous leisure
and conspicuous waste that Veblen identifies with this habit
of thought are what keep us busy as bees.
Not only did our whole culture adopt the rules
established by the leisure class, but we now respect and
honor those most successful in playing the game. We not
only sanction their conspicuous wastefulness, but we also
accept their predacious methods of achieving wealth and
power. We aspire to do likewise. We want to be like them.
God certainly wouldn’t have created man to live by the
leisure class’s habit of life and thought. To consume and
waste his precious creation? Never. Nor would He expect
man to live ascetic lives. Surely God intends us to enjoy
His creation and not waste it, especially not at the expense
of others. If Weber is correct in concluding that man does
not “by nature” wish to earn more and more, and if Veblen
is correct in that our senseless behavior is merely an
acquired habit, and if I am correct in assuming that
acquired habits can be changed, we can surely look forward
to a healthier, less stressful, durable future.
OUR UPBRINGING
Thorstein Veblen’s theory is preposterous. Or could it
be that our behavior is actually as outrageous as he
observes? How else can we explain what happened to all
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the free time that our modern labor-saving devices should
have created? After all, Veblen easily identified ninety
percent of our GDP as conspicuously wasteful and having
little to do with satisfying basic needs, comfort and
recreational requirements. However, accepting Veblen’s
theory advances our inquiry from, “What happened to our
free time?” to “Why aren’t we doing something about it?”
That’s progress. So, let’s see if we can answer that
question.
If our conspicuously wasteful culture is acquired, who
can we blame? I believe that it’s because we were born
into a well entrenched culture and have come to think of it
as being the nature of things. Our behavior should not be
considered natural. Our habit of thought has more to do
with our upbringing from our birth. It includes
indoctrination as vicarious consumers for our parents
through emulating mentors and real life adult experiences.
We surely don’t depend on animal instincts. We know how
to think.
Yes, how to think. Our minds are conditioned to react
in a special way, like Pavlov’s dog. The smart children are
the ones who were most successfully conditioned to
respond first, with the answer or action that pleases the
parent or teacher. This training doesn’t stop with
kindergarten, grade school, middle school, high school,
college or graduate school, nor on the job or in the
profession or as an expert consultant or advisor to the
President. Almost always, the ones rewarded are the ones
with the fast, positive, ready answers that please the parent,
teacher, constituents, client or boss. One wouldn’t expect
those winning the game to question whether that which is
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happening is rational. All of us that have self esteem
believe we are winning. That’s just the nature of things.
The successful ones in school and later in life are those
who “think on their feet”. Bright people are badly needed
to lead the hunt, to lead the army, to be commander in chief
or CEO. Though the deciders aren’t always right, we
depend on them.
President Jack Kennedy said that the dumbest thing
that he ever did in his life was the way in which he handled
the Bay of Pigs. At the time, he had the advice of the
smartest and best informed people in the world. President
Richard Nixon’s involvement in Watergate was just plain
stupid. In that instance, Nixon was relying on brilliant
lawyers whom he trusted. Enron? Smart people can do
dumb things as our second-guessing proves. Someone
must call the shots.
As a young research engineer, I was frequently
frustrated by my boss, the director of research, who was not
a good decider. No matter how thorough our report, more
research was always needed before he could make up his
mind to submit it to his boss. Like Hamlet, his hesitancy
was crippling. What finally saved us was that his boss,
who fortunately was a good decider, understood the nature
of our problem and made it clear that if nothing came out of
the research division that he was going to clean house.
Fortunately for us, our boss realized that his boss meant it.
As a result, our research was soon put to good use.
It’s the nature of things. Smart, successful people are
articulate and have ready answers. The less successful
people may be just as articulate and even smarter, but may
not be good deciders. For example, in 2004, brilliant
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seismologists throughout the world who recorded very
disturbing earthquake tremors, paused too long studying the
situation before committing themselves, and in doing so,
they allowed the opportunity to warn the public slip by – a
warning which would have saved many lives in that
catastrophic Indonesian tsunami. These scientists were
intelligent and well educated, but not good deciders.
The leisure class has the wealth and power. They are
the deciders. To be ready with fast, positive answers, one
must discard complicated negative thoughts. Successful
people are conditioned to do this --- to see in black and
white, to judge between good or bad, true or false, innocent
or guilty, to understand cause and effect, and to select this
or that. By rewarding those who respond with fast,
positive, ready answers, our culture cultivates people who,
by discarding complicated and negative facts, can respond
quickly with an air of confidence. A large portion of our
population are so conditioned. Those successful at the
game support it, never realizing that the game is dumbing
down our species, causing considerable waste and is
responsible for our anxious, stressful, unhealthy life that we
are experiencing. Unquestionably, our upbringing, which
begins at birth and extends throughout our lives, has
conditioned us to respond to questions and requests without
hesitation with answers or actions to please associates and
our public and contributes to our mindless wasteful
behavior.
Evolution has programmed the instincts of the bees and
chickens into their DNA. This took many thousands of
generations. These creatures are neither dumb nor smart.
They live in accordance with the “nature of things.” Our
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behavior is not. We have replaced animal instincts with
conditioned reflex. Having eaten the forbidden fruit, we
are fostering institutions that promote and protect Veblen’s
leisure class. Fortunately we can change this habit of
thought since our culture is of our own making and is not
coded in our genes. Recall Max Weber’s credible evidence
cited in the Protestant Ethic that “man does not ‘by nature’
wish to earn more and more money, but that he simply
wants to live as he is accustomed, and to earn as much as
necessary for that purpose.”
That’s true. But not the whole story. The best parents,
teachers, managers and leaders don’t exclusively look for
quick, positive, ready answers that please them. They
recognize and encourage diverse talents in their children or
subordinates. We know this. We simply must put it into
practice.
Unfortunately, our upbringing isn’t the only thing that
prevents us from benefitting from modern conveniences.
There are other impediments that we must consider.
OUR TIES
Welfare clients are trapped. If they were to get a job,
a portion of their welfare check is withheld. To add insult
to injury, all of their Social Security payments based on
their total pay are withheld from the little that is left.
(Although the very regressive Social Security levy against
wages and tips is a substantial part of federal revenues, it is
not considered a tax. After all, we rich folks like to claim
that we are the only ones who pay taxes.) As a result of
the withholdings, welfare recipient’s net pay can be less
24
than half of what they earn if they work. Then, depending
on their income, they might have to give up food stamps (a
handout that implies that the less fortunate don’t have
enough sense to buy food if they are hungry) and may no
longer qualify for the box from the food bank and could be
forced out of the government-subsidized, low rent, housing
project. Then there’s the cost of getting to and from work
and paying for someone to look after the children. They
might become ineligible for Medicaid and have to forfeit a
reduction of the cost of items and services that are based on
the recipient’s ability to pay. That’s not all; those on
welfare are imprisoned by more than these monetary losses.
Their greatest loss that would result from becoming
employed would be the forfeiture of many precious
freedoms – of no less importance than the loss of welfare
dole and other pecuniary benefits. Having a job would
limit the time they could spend with friends and family, and
time to go hunting, fishing, to attend parades, free concerts
or sports events, or to goof off. They would lose their
freedom from the fear that many employed people
experience -- the fear of losing their job. Freedom from
worry about an embarrassingly huge credit card debt that
many gainfully employed people experience, or worry
about not being able to make house payments on real-estate
they couldn’t afford. Until they choose to escape, they are
free to make that choice and are free to escape the
unintentional traps devised by well-meaning people. They
are free to exchange their freedom for the quasi-servile
position among the great masses of mankind possessed
with a sacramental feeling attached to the possession of
wealth or its emulation. They are free to hold onto their
25
welfare status and not follow the masses who have
exchanged their freedom for payments doled out by
arrogant superiors at regular intervals. In their new role, if
they were to take the leap and surrender their freedom, their
chief dread would become the possibility of the loss of a
job they might subconsciously detest. What a crazy
dilemma! One would think that people not on welfare
would be envious. But those who have given up many
freedoms and are slaving away don’t realize that they have
forfeited much that those on welfare have retained.
It’s not just the poor that are enslaved. The leader,
decider – all the leisure class are enslaved by what’s
expected of them. Those in middle management are also
enslaving themselves for the same reason. The enslaved
group includes nearly all “educated” people as well as
those on welfare. Just about everyone – all enlightened
people that are very busy maintaining their social and
economic standing. Man accepts the above conditions in
the unshakable belief that it is the nature of things. It’s not
thought to be slavery, but there’s no other word that fits the
condition more closely. We won’t call it slavery since we
voluntarily accept the condition.
Take, for instance, a gainfully employed couple with a
combined income of say, well over one hundred thousand
dollars. They live in a respectable neighborhood, send their
children to private schools, or college, are a member of the
club, drive two cars, eat out frequently, do appropriate
things for their children, each other and friends. The
fashionable car, clothes, memberships, wines, guns, and
sportswear are important. If either breadwinner were to
lose their job, they are in trouble. They wouldn’t dare
26
consider freeing themselves from the assumed necessity of
hanging onto their jobs no matter how unhappy they are,
doing what’s expected of them. They are slaves.
Furthermore, the gainfully employed dare not attempt
to escape because they would give up some vested pension
and health benefits. The poor dare not earn or save too
much because doing so might disqualify them from being
covered by Medicaid. Plainly, both the rich and the poor
have something in common. Both have too much to lose
by escaping from their volunteer enslavement. Both are
bound by health insurance policies, the loss of which could
be disastrous.
Not everybody, but a large majority believes that the
rat race is just the nature of things. This majority includes
powerful, influential and enlightened people as well as
those on welfare.
TESTED REMEDY
In the free world, we are free to enslave ourselves, and
by Jove, that’s precisely what we are so busy doing. This
frenzied culture of ours didn’t start with Smith’s capitalism
or with Weber’s Protestant ethic. It began long before that,
as you can see:
And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto
thee, seven times seven years, and the space of seven
sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine
years. Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee
to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the
day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound
throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the
27
fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the
land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee
unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his
possession, and ye shall return every man unto his
family. A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you:
ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of
itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine
undressed. For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto
you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field.
In the year of this jubilee ye shall return every man
unto his possession. And if thou sell ought unto thy
neighbor, or buyest ought of thy neighbor’s hand, ye
shall not oppress one another. According to the
number of years after the jubilee thou shalt buy of thy
neighbor, and according unto the number of years of
the fruits he shall sell unto thee. Ye shall not therefore
oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God: for I
am the LORD your God. LEVITICUS 25: 8-17
28
One need not believe that the above is the actual
wording of God’s instructions to Moses. You may,
however, be certain that it represents an Old Testament
tradition that has withstood the test of time – time long
enough to have been recorded and canonized. It seems that
things haven’t changed much over the millennia. Then, as
now, the economy expanded at an unsustainable rate that
required correcting every now and then. We like to think
that we are learning how to eliminate these business cycles.
I’ve yet to see any positive results.
While we dread and put off necessary corrections of
overly exuberant economic times, the Israelites celebrated.
They sounded the trumpets proclaiming liberty and
freedom from the tyranny of their economic system that
apparently bore many similarities with our present system.
Both economic systems enrich a privileged few at the
expense of many others, and enslave the less fortunate with
debt and foreclosures. Their jubilee celebration purposely
cuts short the upward swings in the economy before it
could begin to generate serious downward pressure that
causes devastation which we dread so much nowadays.
I find the Old Testament approach appealing.
We live in a democracy where anyone could be
President. All it takes is a little determination to overcome
certain disadvantages of birth. I wonder why everybody
doesn’t take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity.
Why? Maybe it’s because there just isn’t room at the top
for everybody. Someone must mow the grass, take out the
garbage, change dirty diapers, put supper in the microwave
and dishes in the dishwasher. All of us cannot have
servants to take care of these and other domestic details.
Who would be left to be servants of the servants? Ever
since before the time of Moses, during economic upswings,
the wealth and power would gravitate into the hands of a
privileged few. The process of accumulating wealth would
continue until the excesses that the unbridled expansion had
encouraged became too great to be defended or supported.
It’s not difficult to see a direct connection between the
excesses of the over exuberance of the business cycle and
the excesses that Veblen wrote about. They both waste
human and material resources. Only after an inevitable
correction can there be another upward surge. Business
cycles do happen. We would like to believe that we are
smart enough to create a soft landing at the top or to be able
to keep the economy surging upward forever. But we
know better. Institutions and their managers who claim
29
they can keep the economy on a perpetual upward surge
can do no more than delay the inevitable. Stimulation
grants to those institutions send the wrong message to those
who should have been acting differently.
The Old Testament holiday recognizes the bipolar
nature of what’s happening in these swings, that is, that the
excesses in the upswing must be corrected sooner or later,
and that the longer the correction is put off, the harder the
fall. I believe that an Old Testament style Jubilee shows
the most promise for the quickest, least painful way to
maintain a healthy economy with less stress and one that
will free us from our voluntary enslavement to the “habit of
thought” of the leisure class as described by Thorstein
Veblen. Besides freeing slaves and restoring alienated
property to former owners, I would have the Jubilee excuse
all unsecured debts and the portion of secured debts greater
than, say, eighty percent of the value of their collateral.
Those with means could establish, using collateral,
whatever line of credit that they might need with their
banks. A sufficient but minimal unsecured credit for all
adult citizens could be underwritten by taxpayers to
facilitate reasonable day-to-day domestic and commercial
activities. Doing this would obligate taxpayers much less
than any proposed corporate welfare. Not bailing out
failing establishments would force creditors to act
responsibly.
If it were up to me, I would do it. The Jubilee
definitely would make it easier to plan business and
personal activities since it would establish the timing of
cycles beforehand. Having knowledge of when the cycles
begin and end would dampen economic volatility that’s
30
caused by uncertainties. Many attempts to forestall
economic downturns have been tried. None have
succeeded in doing more than postponing the inevitable. I
think the important lesson to be learned is that a planned
and timed cycle is less disruptive than dreaded, postponed,
unpredictable ones. There are other possible ways that the
cycles might be timed, but the Jubilee is the only one that
has been tried and that actually proved itself. Postponing
the inevitable increases the intensity of the crash and
duration of recovery. The greatest appeal of the Old
Testament approach, however, is its chance of success,
whereas, rescuing the failing economy exacerbates
excesses and is a Band-aid, at best.
There is substantial evidence that the Jubilee
successfully dampened business cycles to a much greater
extent than one might anticipate. We know that cutting the
upward surge short would eliminate buying and selling
climaxes. That is a certainty. Furthermore, one would
expect the effect of anticipation of the holiday to
discourage the excesses that fueled the runaway upward
surges. For example, anticipating the holiday would
discourage rich and power-hungry people from tricking the
poor into surrendering their property or themselves into
slavery. The dampening of the cycles was so effective that
it must have essentially eliminated problem business
cycles. What else could explain why the use of the holiday
to stabilize the economy was discontinued? I consider this
to be proof beyond a reasonable doubt – good enough for
me -- that the Jubilee is an effective antidote for business
cycles and that it would serve us equally well now, as it did
in the Old Testament era.
31
A Jubilee is what we need, but don’t take my word for
it. I’m a retired engineer not schooled in such things. If
banks or financial institutions are needed, then they won’t
need to be rescued by the government because the private
sector can be depended on to pick up the pieces. These
pieces would include property, equipment and employees.
I suggest that they might justifiably shun the managers that
were responsible for the predictable failures that they
allowed to happen. It’s not unusual that such rescues by
the private sector happen one way or another whenever
marginally viable companies screw up. But knowing
before hand is too much to expect. In any event, the
government needs to save taxpayers hundreds of billions
that it would otherwise waste on impotent corporate
welfare. Save it for those who need it --- those who, for
example, in good faith, invested their life savings in
pension plans that were gambled away by various financial
institutions. Save it for those who lack the means, but have
legitimate needs to buy essentials. Those who can be
counted on to spend it in a way that will most likely
stimulate the economy toward a more durable and less
stressful future.
I’m old enough to have experienced living through one
complete major business cycle, that is, if we are presently
near or beyond the top of the cycle that began in 1929.
This experience endows me with a unique perspective.
Before the Great Depression, the economic climate closely
resembled conditions existing during the first decade of this
millennium. Before the crash was a period of
unprecedented prosperity. But then, as now, the upward
surge was not sustainable. One of my grandfathers (not on
32
the same side of my family as my Scottish greatgrandfather mentioned earlier) had an income in excess of
sixty thousand dollars. That was easily more than fifty
times what employees in his cotton mills were paid – a
disparity not as serious as that which exists today – but bad
enough. Banks were overextending themselves as they had
been doing recently. The market for automobiles was
almost saturated as it had been since the turn of the
millennium. Most families that had electricity had radios
(read “state of art technological stuff”). Electric power
consumption was increasing at a rate of fifteen percent per
year. That was how things were before the 1929 crash.
Never before in the history of the world had anyone
ever reached a higher degree of comfort and security. The
President, Congress, and Wall Street were reassuring
everyone of the prospect of “perpetual prosperity.” This
was what we were expected to, and for the most part did,
believe in the late twenties. We were in denial then, as we
had been recently. Many continue believing in the prospect
of perpetual prosperity after our scare of aught seven as
they did before the bottom of the Great Depression was
reached in 1933. The downward pressure caused by
excesses of the over-exuberant upward surge became
overwhelming, as would be expected.
Looking back, I realize that the 1929 crash eliminated
many excesses that had brought on the Great Depression.
It was more than an economic correction. The long range
effect of the crash was that it gave us a fresh start. In a
way, it freed the slaves and restored alienated property. We
became less polarized. The end result after a very difficult
interval was the establishment of a solid base that permitted
33
us to collectively rebuild the American spirit that had been
corrupted by wealth and mindless adherence to the habit of
thought characterized by Veblen.
Imagine losing your life’s savings -- everything you
had worked for and accumulated over the years. You
might have been a proud owner of a delightful place to live,
a comfortable pension plan or had accumulated investments
that were to provide you with an anticipated pleasurable
retirement. Losing that is what we dread. At the very time
you had lost your life’s savings, you might be physically
unable to work even if a job you could do was available.
Many healthy formerly successful, highly educated people
with, say, an MBA, had to face the humiliation of being
instructed by a confident grade school dropout on how to
use a shovel on a WPA project. Yes, those were very
difficult times. Many lived in lean-tos made of scavenged
corrugated boxes and had to pick over garbage for food.
No, not many. Only a few were that desperate.
I was too young and protected to know those desperate
few. My father, having been brainwashed by his Scottish
grandfather, was an expert in pinching pennies. We were
fortunate enough to not lose our house which was in a rich
neighborhood. We ate less meat and more peas and beans.
We Hooverized meatloaf, depending on how the money
was holding out, by replacing more and more of the meat
with bread crumbs. At times the kitchen was the only
warm spot in the house. Newspapers, being good
insulation, served as an excellent substitute for a blanket on
cold nights.
Those difficult times brought out the good as well as
the bad in people. The fear of not knowing how one might
34
survive drove some people to protest against whatever. It
wasn’t all that clear who was responsible. To whom were
the protests to be directed? Or exactly what could be
expected from whom? Protesting crowds became mobs
which could get out of hand. Fear of the mischief that
angry mobs might do created an even greater mischief on
the part of those trying to quell that which they imagined
might happen. And then, there were those who simply
gave up. On the other hand, those difficult times brought
people closer together. Government programs helped.
People were more charitable. Those needing help soon
found it, if not from the government or charitable
institutions, from a friend or stranger who willingly helped
with no questions or disparaging looks. Those that you
were able to help showed their appreciation. People
discovered how resourceful they could be – how to make
do with that which was at hand. The challenges of the
Great Depression revived many positive innate human
qualities, and most people survived the depression without
serious scars. For me, those were the good old days.
I recommend the Jubilee, not only to end our senseless
emulation or waste, but to lessen the extremes during over
exuberant surges and the devastating collapses of the
economy that follow. In doing so, it will diminish the
senseless emulation and waste since the evils of both the
economy and Veblen’s leisure class depend on the
unbridled expansion of the GDP. The Old Testament
approach would dampen the cycles and their social
consequences. It would be an excellent interim solution,
but not the final solution that I seek. However, if we must
have economic cycles, then the Jubilee is an excellent
35
answer. I believe that we can have a healthy, durable
future without senseless periods of an ever-increasing GDP.
That cannot be accomplished over night, but it can be done
as I shall explain. In the meantime, setting up Jubilees
would be an excellent intermediate solution to what I see as
problems.
Any Jubilee should be thought out and clearly defined.
Freeing the slaves should not be limited to that guaranteed
by the Thirteenth Amendment. I would broaden the
definition and provide some relief for conditions mentioned
in my discussion in OUR TIES. Restoring alienated
property doesn’t mean returning the land to the dinosaurs;
but there are injustices, such as that brought on by
questionable foreclosures and other procedures, that need
correcting. Forgiving debts need not be as I suggested.
However, I would insist that the lenders should not be
bailed out.
WEIGHING FACTS
Many believe the problem that we are presently
considering is serious enough to deserve some action. A
Jubilee would offer some relief, but may not be sufficient.
It might do little more than dampen and shorten the interval
of the cycles and soften the consequences. It’s not
sufficient that we acknowledge that we are squandering
precious time that could be bought with proceeds of
modern labor saving devices. Or knowing that we owe our
ability to produce so much stuff to Adam Smith or to what
Max Weber and John Wesley observed. Or that we are
36
overcome by the habit of thought documented by Thorstein
Veblen. Or that we should have suspected that we were
voluntarily enslaving ourselves. It’s difficult for me to
understand why we don’t accept what we are doing to
ourselves as a fact and begin doing something about it.
There is more that we must consider.
There are more obstacles, more than those mentioned
above, that we must overcome before we can begin making
a difference. Be patient. Until recently I had thought that
everybody had lost their ability to think or that we had
become too lazy to use our heads. Otherwise, how else can
we explain why nobody questioned the essentially
unanimous decision of the executive branch and congress
to compensate the families of those killed in the 9-11
tragedy in the way that they did. We didn’t question how
the money was apportioned because we are expected to
accept such bipartisan decisions without question. But.
But, the rich received a disproportionate share while the
poor got a pittance. There were no apologies, only
explanations that suggested that almost nobody had any
idea of what was so wrong regarding this callous
distribution of our precious tax dollars.
In Washington, DC, a few years ago, police raided a
meeting and arrested a group who were organizing a
peaceful protest rally opposing an anticipated position to be
taken by international banks. The news of this raid was
buried in a single paragraph within a somewhat related
article on the fourth page of my local daily newspaper. I
was shocked, not so much by the brazen action of the
Washington police, but by the absence of an outrage I
expected from the fourth estate. The words “… or the right
37
of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the
Government for redress of grievances” is important. I
thought it was important enough to call for an outcry from
newspaper editors and columnists. I feel every citizen of
the United States who cherishes their freedom should
understand our stake in the First Amendment.
Vying for party nomination for President, both Pat
Buchanan and Ross Perot objected to NAFTA for the
wrong reason. Nobody that participated in the debates and
no reporter or columnist questioned the candidates on how
they could possibly be against NAFTA for allowing free
trade and at the same time claim to be conservatives
believing in free enterprise.
Welfare for the rich, police acting in defiance of the
First Amendment, and free enterprise opposing free trade
might arguably be explained away, but not convincingly.
We need a better explanation for the lack of outrage of
nearly everyone, especially the media which depends on
the First Amendment for its very existence. It’s hard to
know, we must either be too stressed out with too much
that is expected of us or preoccupied with trivia to give
these important arguable facts any serious thought. In any
event, the problem lies in the quality of the facts on which
we base our thinking.
Special interests make sure that the public is primed
on all issues that are, or will be, important to them. They
employ proven techniques perfected by public relations
outfits to condition the public to willingly accept whatever
is advantageous to whatever special interest – even when
that which the public is persuaded to accept may not be in
the public’s best interest. Easily recognized are gun
38
control, global warming and socialized medicine. But,
there are numerous other special interests since all
professions, all manufacturers (agricultural and nonagricultural), all service institutions, all foundations, nonprofit corporations, all technical societies, labor
organizations, all educational institutions (public and
private), real-estate organizations, developers, government
agencies, and political parties have special interests. Their
interests frequently win out over those of the public. And
more frequently than not, the legislation that they seek is
costly and leads to the kind of waste that increases our
gross domestic product and that keeps us unreasonably
busy. We foot the bill.
As an officer or program chairman of various
professional, technical, religious, educational, social, civic,
charitable and political organizations that had midday or
evening dinner meetings with a speaker, I discovered that
there were many excellent speakers available that were
free. Most of the dinner groups of which I was a member
chose to take advantage of available free speakers,
exclusively.
Rarely does free stuff go without a price. Many wellpresented and well-received programs were decidedly onesided. We are carefully fed that which the special interests
that provide the free programs want us to hear and accept
as a basis of our thinking. The presentations are frequently
one-sided and sometimes include stretched truths.
Furthermore, dinner speakers aren’t the only channel
through which special interests provide their unaudited
facts to the public. Schools, text books, news releases,
trade conferences rarely present a balanced picture.
39
A few examples of favors granted certain entities that
were not in the public’s best interest but have been and
continue to be accepted by the public are included below to
illustrate the point that propositions which are not in the
public interest are often accepted without question and are
frequently difficult to rationalize from sufficient unbiased
facts.
Tax simplification efforts or reforms have never
simplified or reformed taxes. They may close some
loopholes enjoyed by those who are no longer influential,
only to be replaced with generous loopholes that favor
those that are popular, fashionable, in favor with the new
administration or may have helped someone get elected.
It took more than fifty years to decide that smoking
was bad for us. Yet FDA and USDA easily declared
without hesitation that in-vitro genetically modified foods
are safe since they had not been found to be unsafe. And
they determined that these genetically modified foods
should not be labeled as such because they have not been
proven to be different. Genetically modified but not
different? Why go to the trouble? Believe it or not, that’s
the justification supporting their ruling. Outrageous!
Furthermore, the ruling to not allow food labels to claim
that the food is not contaminated with such ingredients is in
defiance of the First Amendment.
NAFTA was intended to establish free trade with our
neighbors. But how could a treaty with hundreds of pages
of regulations and restrictions establish free trade? There
must be many favors within those pages for who knows
whom.
40
Milk is pasteurized to make it safe. Uncontaminated
fresh milk from a healthy cow is healthier, safer and more
nutritious than pasteurized milk because pasteurization kills
beneficial microorganisms that are not only important in
the assimilation of subtle nutrients but also protect the milk
from harmful microorganisms and sours the milk as a
warning when it has been kept too long. Pasteurization
cannot protect the milk from contamination that might
occur after it is pasteurized. On the other hand, fresh milk
contains the protective microorganisms that nature has
provided that last until the milk is consumed.
Workers Compensation was to protect the worker.
Instead, it protects the employer and limits the rights of the
employee.
Fifty years ago USDA was routinely analyzing
vegetables grown at different locations and climatic
conditions and discovered significant differences in
nutritional value. Though that discovery suggested that the
program would potentially lead to the discovery of
significant improvements in nutritional value of our foods,
the program was discontinued without an explanation.
Global economy depends on commodities that are
uniformly mediocre.
Energy deregulation actually increased regulations. It
had to -- otherwise energy dealers, such as Enron, would
have had no way of selling cheap power to the highest
bidder elsewhere using existing power or pipe lines owned
by other companies. The availability and the charges for
their use naturally require government control and
regulations which were not needed before deregulation.
41
Back in the 1950s, André Voisin determined that
although using chemical fertilizers (NPK) increased crop
yields, it depleted the soil and weakened the plant and
lessened its nutritional value. Furthermore, the health of
grazing animals and those consuming the foods suffered.
The public has been persuaded that quantity and
consumption and the use of manufactured chemicals
override nutritional value and health issues.
As important as it was for the transitional government
in Iraq to take over the reins from U. S. advisers, one of the
first laws adopted by the transitional government protected
patents of plants and seeds belonging to U.S. corporations.
What better proof of the power of special interests could
there be? The argument for that law and the unprecedented
speed of adoption was based on the questionable fact that
the new law is “necessary to ensure the supply of good
quality seeds in Iraq” (but not according to the 97 percent
of Iraqi farmers who preferred to use the seeds saved from
their own crops). Who but the special interest would have
the audacity to use their influence to get such a law pushed
ahead of the important business of the new government?
Most of our decisions that lead to the squandering of
our wealth for the sake of the ever-increasing GDP are
based on arguable facts which we have accepted that were
skillfully seeded and nourished into our minds by highlypaid public relations firms hired by special interests. The
above sampling is the tip of the iceberg.
42
WEAKENED LINKS
One might say that both Adam Smith and Max Weber
were right regarding the creation of wealth, and that John
Wesley proved to be right -- that wealth would corrupt us -that we can’t have one without the other. On the other
hand, one might argue that neither our free enterprise nor
our wealth is exactly what Smith or Weber had in mind.
The world is different from that which existed in Adam
Smith’s day. Family farms, tradesmen, local mills, small
businesses and limited commerce have been replaced by
the global economy. But size is of secondary importance.
Size can be an advantage. I will get to the reason for that
later. Of greater importance are the rules of Thorstein
Veblen’s leisure class that encourage and enforce the
exploitation and abuse of the defenseless and our natural
resources which have resulted in a rally that overshadows
Smith’s healthy advice. Many items that we consider a
credit would be considered a liability by Adam Smith and
should not be counted as positive in our GDP for that
reason. Smith listed many such items in Wealth of Nations
as being of questionable or negative value. I suggest that
we re-read Smith’s book to freshen our memory.
The most important difference between Smith’s and
our worlds is that the connection between the compensation
bestowed on those in charge and their performance has
drastically deteriorated since Smith’s time. Compare how
the compensation of workers, bureaucrats and managers in
present day mature organizations is determined in
comparison to that of workers and managers in Smith’s
day. Nowadays, an out of town consulting firm, that may
43
not have an inkling as to what’s going on in the enterprise,
is paid handsomely to recommend comparable wages for
comparable work. These consultants consistently
recommend incentive bonuses based on overall return of
the enterprise. The return is defined to include stock
performance where the short term price fluctuations may
have more to do with the overall stock market or on the
company’s common stock price – a nonproductive concern
of managers. In up years the managers get a generous
bonus, a bonus they won’t have to pay back in down years.
As a result, managers may be rewarded for nothing more
than hiring a consultant that proposes a bonus plan where
normal swings in the stock market ratchets money into their
pockets. An important criteria used by consultants for
recommending pay is the number of subordinates a
manager has; this provision encourages managers to pack
their division with unneeded staff and to create
administrative layers. Only the bottom rung is based on
education, experience or personal performance, or lack
thereof. Recommended compensation is rarely related to
what one does or accomplishes. Performance has little to
do with fiscal compensation and fringes in mature
corporate, governmental, educational, industrial, financial,
religious or military worlds. Incentive pay? The only
incentive lies in the fact that the employment of the
consulting firm depends on pleasing the person who
employs them. Furthermore, by having a consultant set
wages lessens the connection between management and
productive people. This weakened connection is
responsible for the tremendous disparity in income within
the organization. The disparity in wages and the weakened
44
connection between management and productive people
lessens a concern for the long-term health of the institutions
and leads to their decline and ultimate failure. Often, the
ones responsible for the failure are saved by their golden
parachutes.
The chances of proving one’s worth or working up
through the ranks is diminished through the weakened
links. Management is more often brought in above better
qualified employees; this naturally causes low morale and
related problems. It happens when outside head hunters are
used where top management doesn’t know who does what.
A few young and less mature organizations, however,
don’t deviate so badly from what existed in Smith’s day. In
these cases, the proprietor earns his keep and balances what
he pays his help with the needs of the enterprise with the
going rate for qualified local manpower. Nowadays, this is
the exception to the rule. These exceptional companies are
the stars.
In many mature corporations there are deciders and
productive workers with very little opportunity for working
as a team. There are fewer connections that were common
in Adam Smith’s day that historically made his free
enterprise model work. So, don’t blame Adam Smith.
STATION WIFM
We are rich. Very rich. All of us have perhaps ten
times what our ancestors had a couple hundred years ago.
We have much more than our parents had and we are able
to provide our children with more than we had. Our
45
grandchildren have even more. We should be pleased.
Plenty of food, warm cloths and a comfortable bed.
Furthermore, many of the poorest among us have those
basic needs. Even those in our jails have all of that plus
security and better health care than many of us on the
outside can afford. At Christmas, we get more than the
traditional orange in our stocking. Today, every day, we
have soap that doesn’t leave a ring in the tub, a refrigerator,
air conditioning, paved roads, a washing machine and
dryer, a TV set, pills that help us feel better, a cell phone, a
car, and light at the flip of a switch.
I wonder why we must work so hard to stay alive. I
innocently asked that simple question which, unfortunately,
demanded a complicated answer, for which I have been
struggling. Veblen’s The Theory of the Leisure Class,
Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and Adam Smith’s Wealth of
Nations provide some historical insight. Knowledge of our
upbringing and source of facts brings us up-to-date. We
know how we got where we are and although we appreciate
all the provisions, comforts and recreational opportunities,
many of us are questioning the wisdom of staying the
present course. Bill McKibben, who we know from his
expressed concern about impending global warming and its
possible, now probable, consequences, recently described
those concerns in his book Deep Economy: the Wealth of
Communities and the Durable Future. In the book, he
shows the danger of the idea that more and more is better
and recognizes and encourages the trend of building
communities for tuning the economy to a durable pace. I
will explain this imperative later. His concern is not simply
the direct consequence of global warming, but the
46
impossibility of sustaining the present rate of growth. Al
Gore has become one of our most prominent advocates for
doing something. I see global warming as one of the
serious consequences of our ever increasing GDP. I agree
on both counts and am constantly reminded of the problem
as I observe my children who are frequently stressed-out
and enslaved by the business of providing my
grandchildren with more.
What’s in it for me (WIFM)? My religion promises
me salvation. The school promises our children a good job
upon graduation. The salesmen promise us whatever they
think will entice us to buy. The politicians endeavor to outpromise their opponents. Our choice between such
enticements shouldn’t create serious ethical dilemmas, but
the global impact of station WIFM is something else.
Special interests advertise and provide speakers and publish
information to influence public opinion with arguable facts,
and support universities, think tanks, research institutes
with grants to produce reports, news releases and articles
and other enticements that support their interests. They hire
public relations firms and lobbyists to further their cause.
The media depends on their advertisements and the
willingness of the various institutions to share information.
Universities and research institutes depend on their grants.
Politicians depend on their contributions. It’s all legal.
The media, politicians, universities, research institutes, and
even most special interests feel as I do. That is, we feel our
choices shouldn’t create serious ethical dilemmas.
I would like to think that it’s in my own best interest
that I do all the right things. I’m honest and do my share.
I’m helpful and aware of the needs of others. It just makes
47
sense. I believe that the work I did earning a living
contributed positively to the welfare of everybody. Not just
for contemporaries, or those under my supervision, but I
would like to think that the businesses that I worked for
produced goods and services that were good for, and helped
people. I like to think of my past that way. I’m not certain
that most people feel that way about what they do. But I
suspect that they do.
It costs relatively little in legal, political contributions
or favors to assure the landing of a multi-billion dollar
contract or to obtain legislation that limits competition that
means billions to the protected industries.
Regulations make it illegal for citizens to buy
prescription drugs from Canada or Mexico. Eliminating
this restriction would have done wonders in solving
spiraling drug prices. Instead, we accepted as fact that it is
impossible to buy drugs from abroad as safe as those under
the watchful eye of our government. That might be so, but
I doubt it. According to Exposed, a book by Mark Shapiro,
editorial director of Center for Investigative Reporting,
published in 2007, American safeguards are deficient
compared with those of The European Union. I also doubt
that there are no more than a few people who understand
the complicated plan adopted for Medicare recipients and
believe that the Medicare prescription drug plan is more
efficient, safe and well thought-out than what we would
have had if we had simply allowed supply and demand
dictate drug prices and its safety. If true, the arguable fact
that hasn’t been questioned -- that prescriptions filled by a
Canadian druggist would necessarily be less safe than those
filled by an American druggist isn’t a sufficient explanation
48
for why that simple, more obvious, solution to the
exorbitant drug prices was missed. Drug prices were
artificially high because competition is limited by
government regulations. But since higher prices in our
country caused by the lack of competition from the outside
world would invite outside competition and hurt our trade
balance, our government was easily persuaded to not allow
imports and to subsidize drug exports as we do for grain,
guns and other exports. This welfare to the rich
manufacturers doesn’t show up in our budget, even though
it’s as good as cash, because it is in the form of a tax credit
that the rich companies with their double digit earnings can
use. Further causes for our inability to tackle the real
problem of runaway drug prices are the pressures that
special interest of insurance companies and health
organizations exert. Then top that off with WIFM culture.
What actually happens is not so much for the sake of the
institutions but for the managers and other employees of
the manufacturers, service and governmental identities who
are rewarded for putting their pay and personal interests
over that of the institutions they represent.
Such shenanigans are definitely not what Adam Smith
had in mind. In Smith’s free enterprise the special interest
entities are people who invest and take risks with their own
money. If that could still happen, the entire world would
benefit. Our work load would then decrease and our
wealth would not be wasted and would be more evenly
distributed. The difference is that the connection between
those investing, taking risks and producing versus those
benefitting has weakened and, in many cases, disappeared.
The big money and power is controlled by professional
49
managers who, for the most part, are addicted to station
WIFM. A telling result is that the long-term performance
of their institutions varies inversely with their pay; that is,
comparing the performance of many companies with
executives’ pay suggests that the executives spend entirely
too much time worrying about what they take home and too
little time managing things. They are tuned into station
WIFM.
What’s in it for me? The voter votes for the candidate
that promises him the most. Legislators support the causes
that support them. The member attends the meeting to get
the usual steak dinner and a door prize. The connoisseur
distinguishes himself as a member of the leisure class. The
regulator thrives on his ability to wield his power. The
bureaucrat treasures his security. Many are motivated to be
recognized for their riches, their power, their taste, their
generosity, their prowess, their wisdom or their popularity.
Then, of course, many do what they do to be admitted into
heaven. Personal gratification is a well-known handle for
persuasion. It gets the vote. It gets the legislation or grant.
It closes the sale. It completes the loop where everyone
wins to the detriment of all. That’s how WIFM gets
unnecessary and counterproductive things accomplished by
people with good intentions.
HOPE
America is the wealthiest nation on earth. So one
might ask: what’s all the fuss about? How could our
having plenty or our being busy trying to improve our
50
station in life be a problem? Conservationists might
answer: we are upsetting natural weather patterns. The
effect is irreversible. By altering the weather, over
fertilizing, polluting the air, water and earth with
chemicals, we are destroying the plant, bug, microbe,
animal and human diversity that all species depend on for
survival. We can’t live without bugs and they can’t live
without plants and vice versa. We are paving over and
flooding valuable lands, leveling mountains and filling
valleys with rubble and garbage, thereby destroying the
landscape that many of us treasure and hope to preserve for
future generations. Many of these destroyed things can
never be restored. And we are wasting valuable resources.
We should also consider the negative impact of our
extravagant living on the rest of the world. As one might
expect, our insatiable hunger for resources, cheap labor and
consumers of our expensive exports create attractive
opportunities for special interests to profit at the expense of
those with resources in undeveloped regions who find
themselves defenseless against corrupt tyrants that we
support and to whom we supply weapons needed to enforce
their authority. The unthinkable things that John Perkins
documented in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
(2004) are too unbelievable to not be true. I can’t help but
believe that the increase in global terrorism is the result of
our need of ever-increasing consumption and waste. Our
insatiable hunger for more and more definitely creates a
serious problem for the rest of the world.
In the early sixties when Rachael Carson published
Silent Spring, I was doing research for a chemical company
that produced insecticides and herbicides. At the time, I
51
agreed with conservationists’ contention that mistakes were
being made, that we were over fertilizing and misusing
insecticides and herbicides. But knowing that we have
always learned by such mistakes and have corrected them
in time, I thought Rachael Carson was over-reacting.
Moreover, in the meantime, nitrogen fertilizer had been
feeding the world and insecticides were saving lives by
controlling insect-carrying diseases. I did not believe we
should quit cold turkey.
Yes, we will learn, one way or another and the world
won’t come to an end.
Max Weber, John Wesley and Thorstein Veblen
documented what’s going on, but they weren’t able to
convincingly suggest a way out. On the other hand,
Wendell Berry gives us hope and Bill McKibben is
enthusiastic and sees momentum building in a sensible
movement toward a durable future. Agrarian life is Berry’s
model on which to build. McKibben senses a significant
trend. We are already well into restoring community
infrastructure through farmers markets, community
supported agriculture, home vegetable gardens, consumers’
co-ops and people who live near each other becoming
neighborly and are working together to rebuild that which
holds the community together.
Bill McKibben’s communities will save the world.
They will replace the yeoman base that Jefferson knew our
freedom and future depended on. McKibben’s viable trend
is lead by many diverse groups with Jefferson’s idealized
yeoman perspective who are actively trying to retrieve the
freedom won by the American Revolution. They can be
52
depended on to vote sensibly and stand ready to fight and
die for that hard earned freedom.
If health and medical expenses should continue to
climb at their present rate, in twenty years, these expenses
will overtake our GDP, leaving nothing with which to buy
food or to pay the rent. Give education twenty-six years to
equal or exceed the GDP. The same for operating our
governments – it’s just a matter of time. And not much
time. Furthermore, if we continue to reward CEOs for their
extraordinary prowess with the ever-increasing
compensation they expect, by 2033 our median income
won’t buy a half cup of rice. (As you might have guessed,
these projections were snatched out of thin air.
Nevertheless, they are probably just as accurate as the
widely circulated prediction of the demise of Social
Security or Medicare.)
We needn’t worry about global warming, flooding of
coastal cities or global famines that global warming will
cause. In fact, these dire geographic and ecological
projections won’t take place before our present social,
political, financial and cultural ways break down. If my
projections are anywhere near the mark, we will experience
a global cataclysm worse than the Great Depression which
will bring our reckless consumption and waste to an abrupt
halt.
Yes, there is a problem. No, it cannot be solved
logically. It’s too complicated.
Gödel’s incompleteness theorem establishes a
deficiency in logical thinking. I can’t explain it because I
don’t fully understand his proof. It is said that when Albert
Einstein and Kurt Gödel were at Princeton, they needed
53
each other to have someone with whom they could
exchange ideas that were beyond the comprehension of
others. Although I cannot follow Gödel’s proof, I have
been aware that our modeling tools were inadequate for
solving many complicated problems. Gödel’s
incompleteness theorem suggests, however, that we may
never obtain logical models that can predict the severity of
winter as well as the woolybears, or predict the end of
winter more accurately than the groundhog, or predict a
tsunami as timely as the animals that know when to seek
higher ground.
I am not debunking logic. But I accept Gödel’s
conclusions regarding logic’s incompleteness. And
experience tells me that logic is misused and that
unsupported assertions made to sound right are frequently
bunk. Time delays, too much feedback and technical noise
can make logical models go crazy. Furthermore, our being
very dependent on logic limits our innate, more powerful,
human intellect. That’s why we do so many dumb things
and find ourselves lost in endless “debates” regarding
global warming, abortion, evolution, education, and such.
Logic is a handy tool. Use it. But don’t depend on it to
solve all our problems. We can stop wasting time looking
for a logical solution and consider more sensible
approaches. If we outgrow our dependence on logical
models, there is hope, because we can depend on our more
powerful, latent cognitive capacity when dealing with the
infinitely complicated problems with which we are faced.
Lest we forget, back in the thirties, Franklin Roosevelt
and Herbert Hoover had reason for concern. The
government had failed to ward off the Great Depression
54
and the masses were unhappy. Our present situation not
being sustainable, suggests to me that things might soon
become equal or even messier than it was then. In Europe,
in the thirties, crowds were unhappy with their
governments. The Germans felt a dictatorship would be
more efficient than their impotent government and gave
Adolf Hitler what he asked for. The same for Benito
Mussolini in Italy and Francisco Franco in Spain.
Communism was already well established in Russia and
gaining popularity elsewhere. Fortunately, President
Roosevelt was able to placate us in America until our
attention was diverted by the war. Things never got bad
enough here in the United States to make us willing to give
up our freedom for the security that our European
neighbors sought. But it was a close call. Each economic
cycle becomes more global, lasts longer and sets the stage
for greater global conflicts. We are definitely becoming
more vulnerable than we were at the bottom of the Great
Depression.
There is hope but only if we put our latent cognitive
powers to work.
We may infer from Gödel’s incompleteness theorem
that our minds can outperform any logical system. Not
only do I honestly believe that Gödel was right, but feel
that even if he were not, we simply don’t have the
wherewithal to solve the problem rationally without calling
on our latent cognitive talents.
Logical systems have been with us for many millennia.
They have served us well as valuable tools for solving
simple problems and will continue to do so. Unfortunately,
55
however, it has allowed us to become mentally lazy and
forget how nature intended us to think.
Some anthropologists have observed that many
indigenous people used more of their brains than is
presently utilized by modern man. I asked a psychiatrist
friend if that could be true. He said, “Yes, definitely.” I
had been wondering that if our brain has more capacity
than we need to survive it would bring human evolution
into question. My friend retired at ninety and is no longer
with us. I wish now I had asked how he knew for sure. It
could be that we were smarter ten thousand years ago
because we had to be in order to survive back then. Or,
that we were initially created with more brains than we
needed at the time to enable us to build a superior
civilization. Either way, we should be putting that unused
portion of our brain to work.
Our fascination with cause and effect is causing us to
do many dumb things. For example, it requires that we add
more lanes or roads to solve traffic problems. We should
accept the fact that “logical” solutions to such problems
usually worsen the problems during construction. When
completed, some improvement may be perceptible for a
short time. Logical improvements never last very long
before more of the same must be repeated. Building roads
definitely creates the need for more roads. These lessons
are difficult to learn since they challenge well-established
logical solutions. In fact, most instances in which we find
ourselves pouring money down rat holes result from our
determination to do the logical thing.
When we walk, pitch horseshoes, play chess and
recognize people or patterns we use part of that latent
56
cognitive faculty. An individual is not conscious of how he
does it. Trial and error, feedback and repetition are
certainly involved as well as some logical tweaking. We
are rarely aware of what part our mind plays. We are
aware of the results but have no idea of how our mind
calculates, say, the trajectory of a thrown horseshoe.
Something in our subconscious mind somehow determines
what flight the horseshoe must take to hit the stake, as well
as how to control our muscles so that it happens. But
because our conscious mind may not be as involved as it
could have been, we might be surprised by a branch of a
tree in the path of the horseshoe.
We must harness this latent cognitive faculty by
putting everybody to work. Agrarian life suggested by
Wendell Berry is an excellent starting point, as is the
rebuilding of communities, neighborhoods and becoming
aware of the impact of our actions on natural things that are
essential for the durable future expressed by Bill
McKibben. But we are a diverse crowd with differing
needs – not limited to people with dispositions, aptitudes or
needs that can be satisfied by what Berry and McKibben
have suggested, or what I might think of. It’s going to take
all of us.
The key is taking advantage of the latent cognitive
faculty of all people combined. Success of the plan
depends on our diversity and that everyone is allowed to
participate. Yes, it sounds crazy. It’s going to be difficult
to abandon some of our habits of thought and scary to
dispense with many institutions that we hold sacred. Our
diversity must be preserved and we must be free of over-
57
regulation. Of course, there is much more to it than that,
which I will be coming to.
Globalization has its place, but it’s overdone for now.
The runaway branches of our government and
multinational corporations must be reined in. The place to
start is by following Bill McKibben’s lead. We will find
that to take advantage of our latent cognitive capacity we
must enlist everyone, preserve the diversity of our species,
begin rebuilding neighborhoods and communities that
foster a climate that accesses our collective latent cognitive
talent and begin eliminating laws and regulations that limit
or restrict our freedoms to manage our own lives. I
suppose Gödel’s incompleteness theorem permits me to
make this leap without justifying it logically.
58
A PAROCHIAL OUTLOOK
Thomas Jefferson realized that preserving the new
freedoms depended on a citizenry that lives close to the soil
and could be depended on to vote sensibly as yeomen or
agrarians do. But the yeoman no longer exists and the
infrastructure needed for agrarian life has virtually been
done away with. Bill McKibben sees reviving the
community as an essential part of quenching insatiable
hunger for stuff we shouldn’t need to a durable level. In
his book Deep Economy, he points to many cases in which
it’s already happening and where the very things that he
was recommending were beginning to take hold. Farmer’s
Markets are becoming reestablished and Community
Supported Agriculture (CSAs) are becoming popular.
That’s a good start. But there aren’t many who might enjoy
an environment where their off time is limited to listening
to the hens cackle, the hogs squeal, watching the grass
grow, drowsing in the hammock, drowning worms or
skinny dipping with nymphs in an icy cold river. And I
wouldn’t think of making those people change their minds,
or try to turn back the clock. It’s not necessary for the
people in McKibben’s communities or neighborhoods to
have an agrarian bent; the communities could house
families of factory workers, store clerks, professionals,
managers or executives. The idea is to have neighbors
working together to build community spirit with an
objective of creating space in which they can appreciate
and enjoy each other’s company. They should be able to
provide most of their own recreation and entertainment.
Work together to improve their education. Be aware of
each other’s interests and special needs. Look out for each
other the way we initially did in this country. Know,
firsthand, how their food is produced and cared for and
know that it’s safe. Know that their children are safe. Help
assure excellent police and fire protection. Share books
and CDs. Know the teachers, principal, druggist, postman,
deputy sheriff, paper boy, and store clerks and owners.
Know who the people that are important and be aware of
their interests and needs, not just how they might be used.
And be ready to vote sensibly as Jefferson believed yeomen
and agrarians would do. In Jefferson’s time, citizens living
close to the soil – the yeomen and agrarians – could be
depended on to vote sensibly. That was because yeomen
had no other choice than to accept responsibility for
59
themselves and their families, and that made most everyone
responsible and sensible citizens.
Don’t assume that I’m letting city slickers off the hook.
Jefferson meant people accepting responsibility and acting
sensibly as yeomen of his time would do. It will take more
than yeomen. Our survival depends on replacing yeomen
with enough people accepting responsibility for their own
well-being and think and act as Jefferson thought the
yeomen would.
I shouldn’t even try to describe what a community or
neighborhood might be like because we are such diverse
beings with greatly differing interests and needs. I expect
neighborhoods to be different. Each of us should choose
for ourselves with whom we want to associate and the
nature of our relationship with each other. If this is done,
the neighbors would likely find many overlapping interests
and reasons to work together and get to know each other.
This would be conducive to using their latent cognitive
talent for making their life incrementally more enjoyable,
less stressful and sustainable. That’s a goal. It’s not
something that’s going to happen overnight.
All kinds of people with all kinds of aptitudes,
backgrounds and financial means all over the world
wanting the best for themselves and their families, working
and living with others in a durable, comfortable, nonstressful society is not a logical possibility. That’s why we
need to tap our latent cognitive capacity. It could never
begin globally, nor can it begin by homogenizing mankind.
It must begin in communities and neighborhoods
throughout the world. Individuals and families at first,
neighborhoods next, then towns, cities, metropolises,
60
regions, nations, continents, planets, solar systems, galaxies
and finally universes. One step at a time. I’ll start with me
and describe what my family is doing.
I’ve never felt a need to apologize for having what we
have. We’ve worked hard and we saved. We deserve it all.
A loving family, friends, a comfortable home, enough to
live on and more than enough for recreation and
entertainment. Before I retired, it was the same, except
then, I had a good job which made it possible to accumulate
that which we are currently spending.
My experience is not so different from others my age.
During the Great Depression, we made our toys from
scavenged materials. Then, we were entrepreneurs: making
things we could sell and selling our services. We saved
money to buy materials that we needed for our many
entrepreneurial enterprises. During the Depression, very
little was bought that wasn’t badly needed.
After the war, the entire world had much catching up to
do. We wanted useful things that we had done without
during the Depression and rationed things or things that
were simply not available during the war. So when we
were released from school we had our work cut out for us.
There were plenty of jobs, making and distributing badly
needed and useful stuff and services. At that time we could
feel good about being productive and we were appreciated
and rewarded for doing a good job.
I was too busy to notice changes taking place in the
early sixties. Institutions that had educated and given us
the knowledge needed in our professions began offering
students courses in “Professional Development.” It
recently occurred to me that the introduction of those
61
courses corresponded to changes in the habit of thought
that I had been oblivious to. Before then, we were focused
on catching up – producing essentials and badly needed and
wanted things. We were becoming caught up in the early
sixties. At that time, professionals began turning their
focus on their careers: how to gain recognition and
advance their standing in the developing materialistic
economy. I hadn’t given that much thought until after I
retired. (Besides being naïve, I’m a little slow.)
I had always thought that what I was producing during
my breadwinning years made a positive contribution to the
welfare of everyone. On retirement, however, I felt I
would like to simplify things. At that time we came across
a farm that showed promise. Everyone in the car (all
family) agreed that the farm would be great to “have.” I
agreed, too – it was very inviting -- only my subconscious
couldn’t help wondering, “Another place to look after?”
I figured that we could get enough from the sale of our
home in town to buy the farm and have enough left over to
build a small retirement cottage. I further rationalized that
since I was selling our former home, buying the farm
wouldn’t create more maintenance responsibilities. Though
we were city slickers, we loved the outdoors and knew we
would enjoy making the farm into a delightful place to live
and entertain family and friends. We were making progress
toward those goals when our daughter’s family decided to
join us, build their home and make our acreage into a
productive, sustainable farm -- one that would support their
family. They have been doing a great job at it. Because of
our city slicker background, there was a lot to learn, much
62
of it the hard way. Our daughter’s horticulture expertise
helped.
My wife and I have been on the sidelines, hesitant to
provide much more than encouragement and verbal
support.
My daughter and her husband have become savvy in
the business. Besides the business of cultivating the soil,
producing crops and raising livestock, the farmer must be a
good manager, accountant, salesman, financier,
veterinarian, chemist, meteorologist, carpenter,
horticulturist, architect, plumber, electrician, mechanic,
nutritionist, politician, surveyor, soil scientist, botanist,
butcher, entomologist, mycologist, and hydrologist.
Plunging into that from an unrelated background took
courage and much energy and stamina to accomplish what
they are now doing so well.
Besides making the farm into a delightful place to live
and for the entertainment of family and friends, we wanted
to make it a sustainable place. We realize that most farms
in our state are not sustainable as farms. For more than
three decades now, the total income of all farms in our state
has been negative after subtracting government subsidies
and taking into account the owners’ or managers’ time.
Here, farms are primarily real estate investments with
attractive secondary benefits such as owning a place to
hunt, a way to receive government handouts for not
farming, and a substantial tax shelter. To be sustainable,
farms must be sufficiently profitable as a farming enterprise
to make it reasonable to resist offers of real estate
developers. That is, the farm must be able to pay for its
management, upkeep and operations and produce sufficient
63
profit to be worth more, operated as a farm, than its value
as property for real estate development. Accomplishing
this is a serious challenge. Furthermore, one must be out of
his mind to consider starting any business in which those
with whom he must compete are not trying to make a profit
and are apt to sell their product at a loss. Farming,
therefore, is not a logical undertaking for a young couple
starting a family. But not being limited to logical
endeavors might enhance access to that latent cognitive
capacity that I am depending on. Perhaps Jefferson
intuitively knew that when he said that he believed our
future – our freedom -- depended on yeomen and agrarians.
Fifteen years ago when we bought the farm, we saw
that it had a lot of potential – many unique reasons for it to
be preserved and all manner of possibilities that could
make it sustainable. It is an easy drive from a city. One
border is a trout stream and it is nestled in a cove carved
into the Cumberland Plateau which lies some one thousand
feet above our pastures. It has springs, caves, swimming
holes, abandoned homesteads and rock fences in the woods
that were built from stones removed in creating fields that
have since been abandoned. Abandoned coal mines and
axed moonshine stills. Cliffs and stone sentinels around a
natural depression suggesting why that place is called the
penitentiary by old timers. The hardwood forest could
support a family; besides saw timber, it offers a potential
for nature hiking, bridle paths, hunting lodges, a rope
swing, tree houses, rock climbing, a swinging bridge and
fish ponds.
We began by planting things that we thought wouldn’t
create much work, such as pick-your-own strawberries,
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raspberries, pie cherries, blackberries, peaches, blueberries,
apples and muscadines. And vegetables that taste best
when cooked and eaten within an hour of harvesting.
Things we could manage without the use of insecticides
and herbicides. There were going to be trails, fishing
ponds, a studio for arts and crafts and large enough for
parties, dinners or group activities.
Our first lesson was that the more things we planted,
buildings and sheds we built, or machinery we bought, the
more we had to maintain. Owning property is like owning
children. You don’t. You don’t own your property or stuff
you’ve created or bought any more than you own your
children. You acquire and create responsibilities. Family,
pets, livestock and other stuff that you call yours, you are
obligated to look after and maintain – something you
should enjoy doing.
(The discovery that acquired stuff can be a liability that
keeps one busy was not what I was looking for. It was a
serendipitous realization. I suppose a logical person should
be able to figure it out and I think I knew it subconsciously,
but it didn’t come to surface until I re-read that paragraph
that immediately precedes this one. Such realizations or
serendipitous discoveries may be a key for our release from
self-inflicted imprisonment and our frenzied culture.)
Back to the farm. When our daughter’s family joined
us, we allowed them to take charge as rapidly as practicable
and provide us some relief. It took time to learn what
worked and what we could and could not do. We are
improving our efficiency and have added badly needed
hands. Our farm is sustainable now, and is becoming even
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more so as we continue to learn and improve. By Jove, we
are succeeding.
Besides doing our thing, our family is making a
substantial contribution toward a global goal of a pleasant,
less stressful, more durable future and demonstrating what I
believe to be our latent cognitive talent. We are avoiding
the use of poisons and medications that have been
poisoning the soil, polluting the air and water, and causing
the deterioration of health of livestock and people who eat
farm products. We are following practices that improve the
fertility of our soil, which is becoming more efficient in
utilizing the sun’s energy to capture a greenhouse gas, CO2,
and to produce nutritious edibles for our livestock,
customers and our table. It seems that the livestock that
graze and pickers have access to the freshest pickins. A
young couple that joined us has become partners, and we
have hired other young people who are excited about
what’s going on and enjoy helping. It’s contagious. We
are encouraging others who want to do what we are doing.
We provide significant business for a local USDA-certified
meat processor. We buy locally grown grain, into which is
mixed kelp and essential trace elements to supplement the
food for our non-ruminant livestock. Neighbors with larger
trucks and those with farm machinery that we don’t have
are paid to do what we can’t do. Those with talents or
knowledge that we lack help and advise us and we
reciprocate. We have agreements with neighboring farmers
to swap some crops that they grow for different crops that
we don’t grow for our Community Supported Agriculture
(CSA) customers – our loyal customers with whom we
have contracted to deliver produce each week.
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Some of our CSA members have opted to work for the
weekly supply of produce that we deliver to paying
members. Once a week, they spend half a day at the farm:
setting plants, weeding, harvesting, washing and preparing
the harvest for paying customers. Doing so, they enjoy
socializing with us, our hired hands and other work/share
customers with whom they work. The arrangement is not
only recreational but also an educational experience. And
the word gets out.
Our relationship with our customers is important. We
are educating customers by introducing and providing
cooking instructions for vegetables that are new to them.
They are pleased with the varieties we introduce them to
with the changes in seasons and are surprised to learn what
they have been missing. The news spreads rapidly.
You can see that a lot is going on here. The mutual aid
is important, essential at times, but of greater importance
are the personal relationships that are being built. We are
rebuilding natural relationships that should never have been
lost. Rebuilding community ties is essential. Though we
are working very hard, we are pleased to find what we are
doing reaches further and develops faster than expected.
The life we live is for us. I wouldn’t expect anyone
else to do what we do. What we have accomplished is a
drop in the bucket, but it takes only seventy-five thousand
drops to fill the bucket. Those odds are pretty good for
tackling a problem for which there is no logical solution.
I admit that I may have embellished our story slightly.
And that one bucketful would be only a good beginning
and that bucket is lightly flavored with sweat and tears.
The point is that we, one family out of seven billion people,
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accepting responsibility for our own welfare, doing what
we enjoy doing, have worked out a durable lifestyle for
ourselves and are connecting with others who get the point
and have begun doing what suits them in a durable way and
are making connections with others and so on in a
contagious way. In doing so, we are building communities.
Our communities fit in the global arena as will others that
start elsewhere. The world can then eventually be made up
of communities of people that accept responsibility for their
own welfare and are able to enjoy a durable future with
others. This is not a logical approach for solving global
problems, but it looks like it’s going to work.
Communities that are being built can fit into the global
arena and will become a strong grassroots force able to rein
in runaway governments. The governments must protect us
from predatory people, other governments and predatory
institutions. What else is expected of them and how it will
be accomplished is something best worked out by our
developing communities, which will be up to the task using
their combined latent cognitive imagination.
The key is the diversity of all participants in finding
the way to a comfortable, enjoyable, durable future for us
all. How my family lives is not what I would recommend
for anyone else. Too many people following our example
too closely would be begging for a catastrophe. Diversity
is important. I encourage others to work out their own
lifestyle in communities that foster and encourage each
other to accept responsibility for their own welfare. The
human species is a diverse bunch. We have different needs,
dispositions and aptitudes, and our planet presents many
different challenges and opportunities. We shouldn’t have
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ever become domesticated and robbed of our freedom to be
responsible humans.
Description of our family experience is a useful
example because all communities need a food supply and
because it’s something that I personally know about.
Others in entirely different circumstances will have
different unique stories with comparable accomplishments
of building a strong grassroots force for reining in the
causes of our runaway and wasteful habits – on both
parochial and global levels. The movement cannot help but
grow as more people discover that neither power nor
wealth could possibly buy happiness and that conspicuous
consumption is not worthy of admiration or something to
emulate. These people, joining in the search for a truly
comfortable, enjoyable and durable future that suits them,
will soon replace the yeomen and agrarians we have lost by
attrition since Jefferson’s time. They can be depended on
to vote sensibly and help us regain our voice and begin
correcting problems of our stressed out, conspicuously
wasteful society.
SERENDIPITY
Logical models easily forecast the building of
neighborly communities from the beginnings of a farm
such as ours. Our farm is logically expected to grow into a
rural hamlet of responsible neighbors who are somehow
related to farming activities doing such things as providing
hands for farm chores or providing other services needed
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in, or complementing the community. That’s how America
got its start.
Many people have credited Adam Smith’s logical
model with having made America into the wealthy nation
that it is, and that as John Wesley had predicted, our wealth
has corrupted us. One might infer from this that Gödel’s
incompleteness theorem has more meaning than he
intended it to have --- that sound, logical models could be
expected to eventually undo themselves. I don’t agree,
Sorry, in my attempt to make a point, I have
misrepresented three great men. The point that I would like
to make is that wealth does not necessarily create evil or
greedy people. We may believe we are doing the right
thing as I did in my breadwinning years when my job was
developing chemicals that poisoned our soil, air, wildlife
and people. At that time I easily rationalized that the good
I was doing outweighed bad side effects. Even if all our
intentions are good, bad things can happen. I had rather
believe that it’s not the wealth and power that corrupts us.
Logical models simply can’t be depended on to provide the
advice we need. Smith’s division of labor in a free market
should have made life easier. It still can.
The bad part was brought on by the existing remnant
of feudal structure into which the model was introduced.
Initially his model worked better in America than in Europe
because colonists had no choice other than being selfsufficient and accepting responsibility for their own wellbeing. The disparity separating the advantaged from those
with less was delayed in America. All of us cherished the
freedom that our self-sufficiency had made possible, and
that increased our determination to use that freedom wisely.
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There are fewer such people living nowadays, because
we have had time to create many laws and regulations
intended to protect us from ourselves and enough time for
that ever-increasing global economy to do its stuff. Both
our spurious security and the excessive wealth and
influence in the hands of few make it more difficult for
individuals to become self-sufficient and to accept
responsibility for their own well-being. Nowadays, being
self-sufficient has become no more than a theoretical
possibility. In Jefferson’s day, it was a necessity. That’s
why Jefferson emphasized the importance of the sensible
vote of the yeoman – our freedom depended on it. It won’t
be easy to re-create the yeoman’s spirit in the global world
where food has become cheap commodities produced
elsewhere. We must re-think our laws in order to
encourage sensible voters that would be able to re-think the
laws that should be changed. We need such a change to
make such a change possible. Logically, it cannot be done.
That’s why we must depend on our latent cognitive
intuition.
One would like to think that with our tremendous
wealth, our FDA, USDA, DOE and other agencies could
guarantee the availability of reliable information and
advice, safe and nutritious foods, affordable drugs and
reliable energy. We know better now; we realize that we
can no longer depend on the logical mindset. It’s going to
take people that have a strong hankering to regain control
of their lives, people that are eager to explore in unproven
territories. These people are most likely to utilize their
latent cognitive intuition and benefit from serendipitous
discoveries. They will build the communities that we need
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and will be our sensible voters. Their numbers are
increasing and they are fulfilling our need as can be seen:
It doesn’t make sense to homeschool children
when public schools have so much more to offer
than a family could reasonably provide. Besides,
homeschooled children miss out on learning social
skills from being corralled with others their age.
Public school teachers are well trained and keep
abreast of latest teaching methods. Our school
system provides state of the art textbooks, teacher’s
aides and equipment. And it is difficult to duplicate
the school’s organized athletics. In spite of all that,
increasing numbers of parents are homeschooling.
That’s not logical.
It doesn’t make sense to not take advantage of
the lower price of food at the super stores. Apples,
tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, peppers, asparagus,
strawberries and all sorts of things that are presently
available year-round couldn’t look better and cost
less than they do at these huge convenient stores.
Frozen and canned foods are easier to cook. The
prepackaged frozen meals and goodies are a dream.
Yet an increasing number of families seek fresher
produce and closer to home food sources and they
are willing to pay more for it and have found they
enjoy preparing it. That’s not logical.
Our government carefully regulates and
monitors the nation’s potable water purveyors, and
has rigorous standards. Yet the popularity of
bottled water is on the increase because the taste
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and odor from many regulated utility districts
suggests that the water is contaminated. Chemical
analyses have since proven their concern is
justified. A campaign against the bottles may be
having a negative effect on the popularity of bottled
water, but mavericks are working out ways to skirt
the dilemma; for example, friends and customers fill
glass bottles and jars with water from our well. Our
logical regulators, meanwhile, remain in denial.
They continue to claim that the public can depend
on their control.
Farmer’s markets don’t make sense. Neither do
consumer’s coops. Nor do CSAs. They run
contrary to Adam Smith’s logical division of labor.
Hybrid cars, gasohol, wind turbines and voltaic
cells don’t make sense either, especially those
heavily subsidized by the government when you
consider all costs. Recycling of most garbage other
than metal and paper are marginal because the
recycling initially may consume more resources
than is reclaimed.
But these things are happening.
The preceding indented paragraphs include a few
examples of the many things that are happening that cannot
be logically justified on their isolated merits. There are
many more such things happening -- things that buck
global aspirations and that are not logical. Even though
they may not be logical, practically all of them have an
impelling purpose in the mind of their perpetrators. The
perpetrators are increasing in numbers. The variety of what
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these mavericks are exploring is also growing. Not all
these doings will survive the test of time, but many will
contribute to the improvement in our lives that we are
hoping for. Almost all of the growing number of
perpetrators are serious people that want to regain control,
become self-sufficient, accept responsibility for their lives
and will readily vote sensibly as Jefferson’s yeomen would
do. As the numbers grow, perpetrators will begin to regain
the voice that will increase the possibility of correcting the
well-intended logical laws and regulations that make
accepting personal responsibility so difficult.
The fertile environment for beneficial serendipitous
discoveries that these people create is perhaps of equal or
greater importance than their political voice and their
sensible vote. Not being limited to logical models, these
perpetrators with impelling purpose exploring in
unchartered waters will be considerably more open to
serendipitous discoveries than those confined to a logical
perspective. Being diverse individuals multiplies
possibilities by their count – by up to some seven billion
people, including everyone in the world. The odds then
become excellent for establishing the durable future that we
hope for.
I don’t know enough about how our latent cognitive
faculty works to be able to create models or algorithms
comparable to enlightened logical ones. I suggest we don’t
try. I believe we should instead follow Mother Nature’s
example and encourage the social and cultural mutations
that are taking place in growing numbers of our diverse
population who are trying to regain control of their lives.
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Then we may capitalize on expected serendipitous
discoveries.
Homeschooling is a good example. Although it isn’t a
logical endeavor and there may be a few who are doing it
for the wrong reason, nearly all are seeking better control
over their lives and are accepting responsibility for their
own family’s welfare. Nearly all homeschoolers will vote
as Jefferson’s yeomen. Furthermore, homeschooling is
restoring our lost sense of community spirit.
Logical attempts to improve education have been a
miserable failure in eliminating illiteracy in spite of the fact
that we have exploited every logical idea suggested by our
smartest educators. We do this regardless of spiraling costs.
Obviously, K through 12 need help. How would one judge
higher education? It seems to me that most professions are
becoming impotent. It has taken years for scientists to
decide whether global warming could be a problem. In
2004, it took too long for scientists to decide that disturbing
seismic readings warranted warning of a potentially
devastating tsunami. Very few PhD scientists understand
that scientific facts are not necessarily a measure of reality.
Top executives and financial officers with advanced Ivy
League business school degrees frequently have no idea of
the financial status of their organizations and don’t know
what’s going on. The top national auditing firms are
unable to access the financial condition of corporations
they audit. I would say there is much that reflects
unfavorably on the performance of our logically operated
educational system. Homeschooling will provide a fertile
ground for serendipitous discoveries that will help us
improve the quality of our education and will stimulate
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improvements in education beyond that which is taught at
home. What can we lose?
Bill McKibben sees rejuvenating community living as
the way to slow down our consumption to a durable level.
He observes that even slums in metropolises can be made
into a community. All it takes is a purpose that brings
people together. Having that purpose is important. A gang
in a tough neighborhood can remain a gang and at the same
time become a wholesome community if it adapts a
positive, constructive mission. Clubs and churches, as well
as neighborhoods, can become communities if members
agree on doing something constructive together. It’s the
common interest toward a goal that defines the community
and holds it together. Bill McKibben describes many
interesting examples of diverse communities in his book
Deep Economy.
Bailing out GM, Ford and Chrysler, drilling oil wells,
adding high speed trains, more air traffic controllers,
controlled highway lanes, adding more lanes and more
roads are all logical solutions to our increasing traffic.
Most of these solutions have been tried repeatedly with
little promise of a significant permanent improvement. On
the other hand, creating more communities should, I feel,
go a long way toward solving many traffic problems. Once
these communities are formed, they will tackle that
problem for themselves. Successful solutions may then be
copied elsewhere by other communities.
Consider the following example that fails only because
of our logical mindset:
In an urban setting, a community may designate hubs
such as the community school, shopping center,
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subway station, community center, factory gates, and
the office complexes. The school and perhaps other
hubs would be an easy walk or bicycle trip from most
residences. The office complex, factory and subway
would provide a shuttle service to pick up or return
patrons or employees to neighborhood or their
homes. Such an arrangement could be more
convenient and less costly than would-be patrons
spending time, stalled on six lane highways,
breathing exhaust fumes. Moreover, riding with
neighbors would be conducive to making friends with
them, and not having to drive or park a car would
eliminate the need of more highway lanes or parking
garages and would give fuel efficient, all-electric
busses or vans a chance. It’s not logical. It won’t
work because no logical person would believe it
could be convenient because he would know that
other logical people would believe it would not be
more convenient for that same reason – knowing that
logical people logically believe that other logical
people would reach the same logical conclusions.
That logical reasoning would discourage users, and
without enough users the shuttle’s schedule would,
by necessity, reduce the frequency of trips, making
them less convenient.
Many potentially beneficial things definitely would not
work because of such logical reasoning. Fortunately, a
community of self-sufficient people accepting
responsibility wouldn’t be limited by logical thinking.
I believe McKibben is right. Communities are being
rejuvenated, even in poor urban settings, and this
happening will slow down consumption to a durable level.
However, I wish to take it one step further. The fresh
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environment that is contagiously spreading will constitute
fertile ground for serendipitous discoveries needed to
redirect progress toward a durable, less stressful, more
enjoyable and comfortable world. We cannot be sure that
our latent cognitive faculty is up to the task. However, if it
is, we can change the world. Once we reach a sufficient
number of sensible voters, our influence could begin
effecting improvements in existing laws and regulations.
In time, we might consider reconstructing governments.
Our goal might include a governmental structure that could
even eliminate the need for wars.
Whoops. I’ve gotten ahead of myself. I frequently set
goals out of reach. I listen to nay-saying authorities and
check out objections and adjust my goals when I can no
longer justify original expectations. Although the evidence
presented so far has persuaded me, you might not be ready
to even accept the fact that we have a problem.
Incidentally, my initial goal was not to save us from the
next mass extinction to which the present route could be
taking us. We will fortunately find that the final solution to
the problem which I had initially chosen will also save us
in time from any perceived notion to wipe out all those who
don’t agree with us or who have something that we might
want.
I’m dreaming. “Been there. Done that,” you say,
“And it didn’t work.” Before becoming civilized, mankind
had to be self-sufficient and accept responsibility for their
own well-being and work out an acceptable relationship
between family members and with the community. Only as
long as the community was isolated from other
communities, say, on a desert island could they exist
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peacefully. Those peaceful communities were vulnerable if
their existence was discovered by a distant, more advanced
group that had developed predatory habits.”
The primitive people that were self-sufficient had to
invent everything they needed: tools, cooking utensils,
clothes, needle and thread, ways to communicate, how to
prepare foods, cook French fries, how to identify edibles
(year round), create the mortar and pestle, fish hook, how
to dress wounds, to tie fish nets, use an ice maker and apply
shoe polish. They had to do without a TV, morning paper,
dishwasher, central air conditioning, refrigerator, garbage
disposal, cell phone, indoor plumbing and a riding mower.
I cannot imagine anyone wanting to go back to those days.
I couldn’t even live without my well broken-in bed. One
must give our ancestors of a thousand generations ago due
credit. They were unquestionably smart and proficient in
the use of their latent cognitive faculty. This realization
suggests to me that if we would stop relying so heavily on
the idea that everyone must be treated as though they had
equal talents, dispositions and needs, stop trying to fit them
into the same mold, and stop relying on worn out logical
models, we might become just as adept at utilizing that
latent part of our intellect as our ancient forbearers were.
Identification of whom or what controls the wealth and
power in this country is important. I’m working on that.
Our Constitution and Tenth Amendment attempted to limit
that control and power, but it didn’t go far enough. That’s
because it started at the top. I believe we should start at the
grassroots. Hancock, Washington, Adams, Franklin,
Hamilton, Jefferson, et al knew to limit the power of
government at the top. So, logically that’s where they
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started. However, they and other aristocrats who created
our constitution were smart enough to not surrender all of
their advantages. That’s why the rich have retained more
than their share of power and control. When we get the
chance to try our hand at restructuring government, we
must start at the bottom, using that mysterious latent
cognitive reasoning ability. We must bestow as much
freedom and power on the individual, family and small
community that we dare. We know that we can confidently
do this because the isolated communities of our primitive
ancestors were able to handle their internal affairs tolerably
well. Present day communities of self-sufficient citizens
should be allowed to take on that responsibility.
That responsibility should include all the
responsibilities our ancient ancestors had successfully
managed, including criminal problems and civil disputes.
In addition, the basic communities should be held
responsible for not polluting the air or altering the quality
or course of rivers. They would contract for homeland
security, the use of intercommunity roads and most
governmental functions beyond their jurisdiction.
I dare not delve deeper into the ultimate structure. It’s
too complicated. It’s a can of worms. Being so makes it a
challenging job for the combined cognitive faculty of future
generations. There are many things that we must do before
we are ready to consider redoing government structures.
First is to continue building self-sufficient communities of
people accepting responsibility for their own well-being.
As Bill McKibben explained, these communities can be
built within industrial and commercial urban domains, as
well as in the more traditional rural areas and subdivisions.
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While we are building these communities, we should
actively be correcting the worst of the correctable bad laws
and regulations that make it difficult for people to take on
responsibilities that are rightfully theirs. Many changes can
be made within our Constitutional structure. I have
suggested a few that we can get started on.
INFORMATION
Since the journey must start with a strong grass root
base, our immediate challenge is to build that base. As the
base builds, our votes will begin to count. To vote sensibly
as Jefferson reasoned we would, we will need reliable
information. Well-documented facts from generally
accepted sources are a must, as are non-biased reviews by
journalists who are known to provide information that is
clearly stated and that can be relied upon. I hope that isn’t
asking for too much. We need to be cultivating sources of
information that we believe to be reliable now.
It’s up to the journals, journalists and professionals to
be reliable and become known as reliable sources of
information. Those that depend on the information (all of
us) should support them in this endeavor. We should
become more critical and applaud excellence. Their
financial support should not depend as much as it presently
does on government grants or other sources of income that
could possibly affect editorial policy. We must support
them financially by subscriptions. Existing periodicals that
we know to be reliable sources should be recognized,
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cultivated and supported. Many of us are already doing
this and are encouraging others to follow suit.
Besides our financial support, we should encourage
and support good reliable sources by being critical.
Delusive statements are obvious. Perpetrators must be so
informed. When a source states that in vitro genetically
modified foods are safe because they haven’t been proven
unsafe, we know not to trust that source. When DOE
supported research reports that electromagnetic theory does
not explain the significantly high incidence of birth defects
and cancer of those living near high voltage transmission
lines, they are begging the question. Congress had asked
for assurance that the transmission lines had nothing to do
with the high incidences of birth defects and cancer, not if
it could be supported by a theory. Incidentally, DOE,
which has a vested interest in those lines, had taken several
years to issue that report. One can easily see that these
sources are not reliable. Good reporters and journalists
report that sort of information in a way that their readers
can easily ascertain its questionable value.
Equivocal information appears frequently in the media.
Identifying it could be made into a game that would attract
people who would quickly learn to be critical of the quality
of information and their sources. Schools could use that
game to wake up their students to what’s going on and to
teach them to be critical readers. It would be a splendid
teaching tool. Feedback to the media from a critical public
would improve the quality of all published information.
Reporters would then quickly learn to be more explicit to
protect their reputations. Equivocal, politically correct or
legally guarded statements would then be discouraged.
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To improve the quality of information, we need to be
critical and this demands basic skills. For this reason, I
would replace math with arithmetic in grade school.
Solving real life problems is more interesting than learning
mathematical theory and would hook more students. Once
hooked, more students would be more likely to acquire a
taste for mathematical theory. Arithmetic would give
teachers an opportunity to teach with real life problems that
are more likely to interest their students. Real problems
require useful information. Young students could be taught
how to count calories. If that happened, they would soon
discover that the information that the FDA requires on food
labels doesn’t provide simple information needed for those
calculations. We could teach them to inventory energy
consumption. If we did, we would quickly discover that
the information provided on DOE required labels doesn’t
provide the simple numbers needed for those calculations.
Such arithmetic exercises would also make young people
aware of ways that they could help tame our frenzied
existence. Identifying the poor quality of information
supplied by, or required by, government entities would be a
productive and educational exercise.
There’s no excuse for the label on a bar of soap to list,
say, sodium tallowate as an ingredient – something that
cannot be found in the dictionary or chemical handbook.
The actual ingredient is probably nothing other than soap
made from saponified tallow and should be reported that
way.
There’s no excuse for the label on appliances not show
the actual wattage when plugged in on off and when on
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rather than a calculated cost dependent on an assumed
usage and energy price.
Auditors’ letters that are required as part of cooperate
annual reports no longer state that the financial report is an
accurate representation of the financial condition of the
company. Stockholders should demand that this question
be answered.
Why not simplify regulation required labels? Why
stop there? The copious quantity of diffuse materials by
which we are inundated could be put to use in teaching
students to discriminate between questionable and useful
and reliable information. We need to be critical of not only
the reliability of facts but also of the way in which they are
presented and used.
We have communication technology that is capable of
collecting, sorting, cataloging and distributing knowledge
throughout the globe. High tech software that assimilates
and uses the knowledge is trailing, but not far behind.
Ultimately the technology will begin to assist journalists in
doing their job of informing and advising the world. The
quality of information can’t help but get better.
In addition, the communication technology is the very
thing I’m banking on to assist us in solving problems too
complicated to be solved with logical models. It provides
the essential network for taking advantage of the
serendipitous discoveries of our diverse global population.
Reliable information is not a luxury. For example: we
need it to determine why our health care is more expensive
than that in other countries that reportedly have superior
programs. That knowledge would enable us to improve on
what we are doing. The same goes for education. We
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spend more, yet our illiteracy rate remains shameful. We
subsidize fuel and many types of freight, transportation and
all sorts of infrastructure but have no idea of the total costs
or revenues or how taxes and revenues are apportioned
between the various entities, governments, and the
infrastructure. These are just a few of the big items – but
they account for a large portion of our GDP – that everincreasing phenomenon that keeps us so busy. Reliable
information is missing in virtually all issues in which we
find ourselves trapped in pointless discussions and debates.
Time’s awasting. Not having the facts invites senseless
assertions that politicians and the media heavily depend on
in order to have something to talk about without dealing
with serious stuff that begs for our attention.
The way the government collects and handles money is
another issue we only talk about. Simplified? Fair? No!
Not possible without hard facts. Tax deductions and tax
credits, for example, buy votes, encourage waste,
micromanage “free” people, encourage dishonesty and
complicate financial planning. This skews the distribution
of wealth in favor of the rich and enslaves and subjects all
constituents to the senseless dependence on our
unsustainable existence. You may disagree with some of
the above assertions which we may debate endlessly -without hard facts.
The media, columnists, and politicians need something
to talk about. Though hard facts stifle logical models, our
latent intelligence can put them to good use. The
information is vital to facilitate the elimination of built-in
incentives that encourage waste. Creating readily
available sources with impeccable reputations is not logical
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because it would stifle open discussions which we need to
settle important issues. But those discussions cannot settle
the issues without the facts. Then why is it not logical?
Kurt Gödel might have the answer. I say it’s because we
require an open discussion for some reason that no one can
logically explain.
MYOPIA
America became the great nation that it is, not so much
because immigrants believed that it offered fantastic
opportunities, but because they were ready to make
sacrifices and act on the faith in those opportunities and
make their dreams come true. Rebuilding communities of
people hankering to be free to accept responsibility for their
own lives to replace those faithful visionaries is of utmost
importance. The reaction I got from a speech that I made
some forty years ago illustrates that. Our ancestors may
not have understood the need of my expressing what would
have been obvious to them since they were not under the
spell of present day myopic necessities, and they would
have readily adopted the plan. Instead my audience’s
myopic concerns suddenly turned them off when they
realized my plan would require that they surrender free
permits to pollute. They had understood and agreed with
the message up to that point.
A copy of that speech is presented below to illustrate
why it is so important to reestablish receptive communities
and to serve as an example of many possibilities awaiting
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responsible people wanting to regain their voice and accept
responsibility for their own welfare. The speech:
THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT: HOW TO
SOLVE THE PROBLEMS ONCE AND FOR ALL
Dr. Paul D. Erhlich of Stanford University predicts an
eco-catastrophe. And he says this catastrophe is imminent
– that there is no point in doing much talking beyond 1972
– “that one thing is crystal clear and that is that there is
(no) technological solution.”
George Santayana once said that in America “issues”
aren’t faced or resolved; they simply become unfashionable
and boring, and then are forgotten. Remember Strontium
90? – an imminent threat of inevitable nuclear holocaust –
we are getting bored with the urban crisis – don’t even see
too much about Civil Rights anymore. – Have these issues
been solved?
Is this the fate of our environmental crisis? Will we
become bored of it? And can we forget it? I don’t believe
so. I think this is one issue that we must face and solve.
And when we do face up to the real issues, we can solve
them. Our hysteria, our fears and confusion exist because
of the collective mental block that Santayana was talking
about. We haven’t faced the issue so we don’t know what
we are talking about. This hysteria is brought on by our
ignorance – fear of the unknown – fear to learn the truth.
Of course, we cannot solve the problem if we haven’t dared
to open our eyes and see exactly what the real problem is.
It could be that the problem is not quite as bad as we feel
that it must be (without looking).
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This is the point of what I have to say today. I plan to
define the problem in terms we can understand. Once we
understand the true nature of the problem, we can begin to
see what kinds of solutions would work. But first, let’s look
at some solutions already proposed:
1) Birth Control
2) We must choose between Poverty and Pollution.
3) Man is the villain. We must choose between man
and nature.
4) More Federal handouts are required.
5) Uniform standards and enforcements are needed.
6) A two or three year moratorium on Detroit.
7) More research.
8) Educate the public.
9) Boycott polluters.
10) Funnel tax money through the states.
11) Outlaw throw-away packages, paper cups, chewing
gum wrappers, etc.
12) Make regional and sub-regional inventories.
13) Reduce the world population to one-half billion
people.
14) More people are needed to staff control bureaus.
15) Tax incentives are the answer.
16) We need more sophisticated monitoring equipment
and procedures.
17) More about the effect of pollutants and the health of
people and the ecological balance.
18) The government should buy up even more land.
Which of these solutions should we pick? Or how
much of our efforts or money should be spent on each? The
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trouble is that we have too many answers. Too many,
mainly because we really haven’t defined the problem. And
it shouldn’t surprise us that it was the special study group
at Oak Ridge that recommended that the government
support perpetual information assimilation centers at Oak
Ridge and throughout the nation – that it is researchers
that recommend more research – or that it is state
legislators who believe that more tax money should be
funneled through state hands – or that it is the heads of the
various bureaus that say that all that they need is to build
up their staff with more and higher paid technicians, etc. –
that it is industry that believes that the only answer is to
instigate tax incentives for industry. I suspect that it might
be our educators who came up with the idea that we can
solve the problem by educating the public. Are we ready to
educate the public? What are we going to teach them?
Let’s define the problem, we are talking about:
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)
Pollution of land, water and air.
Poverty might be included.
Population increase.
Impending shortages of our essential resources.
Ecological balance.
Esthetic factors.
I rate pollution and population growth as the two key
factors and relate poverty, impending shortages of
resources, ecological balance and esthetic factors to these
two items. I consider doing things in bad taste to be a form
of pollution. Poverty is brought on by imbalance of
population. Resource shortages will be brought on by both
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wastefulness and overpopulation, and ecological balance is
threatened by both pollution and overpopulation.
The population expansion is perhaps the most
frightening problem the world faces today. For those
impressed by statistics: extrapolation of the population
increases go from terrifying through fantastic to the allbut-incomprehensible. By 2500 A.D. it would increase to a
point where there would be but one square yard for every
human being. In the year 5000 the mass of humanity would
exceed the mass of the earth itself. Along about 13000 A.D.
humanity would weigh more than the mass of the universe
within the range of the 200 inch Hale telescope. With the
ultimate stage being “a solid sphere of organic matter
expanding at the speed of light.”
Most people that are advocating birth control as the
solution to environmental quality problems seem to be
fascinated with such extrapolations. The problem is more
complex. It is true that in some parts of the world the
problem is that simple – in some places there are already
more people than the land is capable of supporting, even if
we were able to apply the most up-to-date technological
know-how. In Australia, South America, Africa and North
America, this is not so. The first worry that we face is the
population explosion taking place in Asia; the second (but
of no less importance) is with imbalance of the population
that is taking place even within our own nation, state and
city. Overall growth within the United States is not a
threat. People have always lived in congested areas, so the
existence of ghettoes is not a symptom of simple
overpopulation.
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Try to contemplate how World War II would have
turned out if the United States had successfully stabilized
its population at 1/5 its present level (optimum population
suggested by Dr. Erhlich). In the years ahead we will need
more strong industrious people to defend our nation from
the population pressures from without. And such people
will also be needed to support internal dead-wood, those on
welfare, and to support the fight against poverty. Since we
will need more intelligent and industrious people in the
future, we should discourage industrious people from
limiting the size of their families. On the other hand, the
proliferation of those who are born and hopelessly trapped
into perpetual dependence on government is a problem.
We could eventually eliminate poverty by discouraging the
birth of children into families which cannot support them
or by providing them with a chance for escape from their
miserable existence. Doing this would stabilize the overall
population at its present level.
I am told by those who should know that people in such
pathetic situations understand their problem, are receptive.
It shouldn’t be long before this part of the overall
environmental problem is solved within the United States.
Dr. Erhlich is wrong when he says a person in the
United States is fifty times worse than one born elsewhere
in the world – that we are using up our resources and for
this reason we are a worse threat to the survival of
mankind. The limiting factor is the available surface on
earth on which we can live and grow food. We cannot use
up our mineral resources, we can use them and redistribute
them, but we cannot destroy matter. As rich deposits of
minerals are used, prices will increase which will make
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recycling of resources more and more economical.
Ultimately we might reach a point where we will no longer
be able to afford to waste anything – where everything must
be recycled. When this comes about, we will no longer
have any of the pollution problems brought on by the
wasteful operations of our machinery and manufacturing
operations. We might even eventually find it profitable to
mine our old dumps.
I’m not advocating that we wait for all of the problems
to work themselves out. Ultimately shortages in natural
mineral resources will not solve all of the pollution
problems. I believe that misuse of our environment is a
shame and disgrace and that we must put an end to it. I
promised to show how health, economic, political,
technical, ecological and social factors should be taken
into consideration in determining precisely what course we
should follow in solving our environmental problem once
and for all. But first, let us consider a few instances where
pollution is controlled and learn from these instances what
and how the overall results affect us as individuals.
I’m sure you are familiar with the Copper Hill,
Tennessee story. How a really horrible and outrageous
situation at Copperhill and Ducktown at the turn of the
century was turned into a profitable non-polluting
operation. The change was probably initiated by outraged
neighbors, but it never would have come about unless
industry could have seen a profit in converting the
offending off gasses into a salable product. Over the years,
the company has made considerable profit from the sale of
sulfuric acid. Even now, they are expanding the facilities,
spending some seventy million dollars to further increase
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their capacity and efficiency. All of this is motivated by the
profit the company sees in capturing the material that
would otherwise be so destructive. This operation has
saved us money, the company pays a sizable tax bill in
Tennessee and employs hundreds of people. Their share of
our total economy is not insignificant. During the sixties
the world was faced with a sulfur shortage which would
have been catastrophic had it not been for Tennessee
Copper Company.
The sulfate process for manufacture of paper pulp
owes its existence to a unique process hinged on recycling
all of the chemicals used in converting wood into paper
pulp. Not only are the chemicals recycled but the pulp
mills employ pollution abatement devices on top of
pollution abatement devices – and all of this is done at a
profit – our profit, because saving the chemicals makes it
possible to reduce costs, some of which is passed on to the
consumers. The waste liquor contaminated with lignin is
washed out of the pulp in water saving counter current
washers and the solution is concentrated in evaporators
and burned. The by-product heat is not wasted; however, it
is converted into steam which is used to generate the
electrical power they need. The waste steam from the
turbines is not wasted either – it is used for supplying the
heat needed to concentrate the would-be waste chemicals
so they can be recovered. To top this, the steam is used
over and over in the evaporators by allowing the steam that
is evaporated from one unit to supply the heat for the other,
and so on. In the recovery boilers where they burn the
recovered chemicals, they use the most sophisticated
electrostatic precipitators to keep all but a minute remnant
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from escaping. Ash from the recovery boiler is dissolved in
water and reacted with lime to convert it back to the prime
raw material. The by-product of the lime reaction is
reactivated in a lime kiln. The lime kiln has a scrubber so
efficient that you cannot see a wisp coming from its stack.
All of this is done to save money and a portion of the
savings is passed on to us consumers. Our economy also
benefits in other respects. But that is not all; the odor that
comes from the process is also made up of valuable
chemicals. Chattanooga’s Combustion Engineering
Company which manufactures the chemical recovery
boilers that the paper mills use has recently devised a
method for recovering these odor formers at a profit, so
you can bet it won’t be long before you won’t know a pulp
mill by its smell.
There are many more examples such as the use of food
processing by-products, the recovery of by-products from
charcoal and coke manufacture, recycling of some waste
paper, recycling nearly all of the scrap copper, and reusing
over half of the scrap aluminum, storage battery lead, and
essentially all silver from film processing. All of these
examples are uses where it is found that recovery of
materials that would otherwise pollute our environment
saves money and some of this savings is passed on to us.
The profit motive is very powerful and should not be
overlooked as a very effective way of solving our pollution
problems. When abatement results because of potential
savings or profits, everybody benefits.
Now, let’s face the “issue.” How must we define the
pollution problem so that we take in all of our concerns:
health, technical, social, political, and economic? We
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might say the pollution is the effect of contaminants in our
environment that are unwanted that cause damage to our
property, our health, and offends our esthetic senses. –
That pollution is often the result of somebody being
wasteful.
Surely you will agree that any outright waste and
destruction are economic losses. What about the
impending destruction of the eagle? – or the subtle and still
poorly understood physiological effects of air pollutants? –
or the accelerated deterioration of historic structures or
works of art? Or the inconveniences of nuisance caused by
disagreeable odors or noise? Cannot all of these be
considered as economic losses? Granted, assigning values
might be difficult, but there is no reason that their values
cannot be put in monetary terms. If so, why shouldn’t they
be considered as pure economic losses so that our plan of
action can be developed by application of old reliable
economic principles? I maintain that if we assign a fair
value, not neglecting the importance of social or political
factors, the problem becomes a pure economic one. One
that can be solved. One that we ought to seriously
consider.
According to most frequently recited figures, the
annual destruction caused by air and water pollution costs
11 and 12 billion dollars respectively. A fair estimate for
land spoilage might be 5 billion. We cannot completely
clean up the environment, but we can possibly reduce
pollution by a factor. How far should we go? From a
purely economic standpoint, we would look for the point of
diminishing returns where the incremental cost of
abatement approaches the incremental value of
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improvements. If we seek the economic optimum, we will
probably find we can reduce pollution by a factor of five
with an annual cost in the range of 5 to 10 billion dollars,
That is, spending 5 to 10 billion dollars annually might
possibly save us 20 billion dollars in waste and destruction
each year. This 10 to 15 billion potential savings is
certainly worth thinking about.
Many people believe that pollution control will be
inflationary. It will have the opposite effect if we consider
pollution as a purely economic problem and work toward
the optimum solution. Application of economic methods
would not only bring about a satisfactory improvement in
the quality of our environment, but would also produce
measurable economic bonuses. If so, the environmental
crisis is offering us a tremendous opportunity. Our
environment is being sold short, and the high short interest
could be signaling a coming boom. But the outcome
depends on application of these old reliable principles that
have proven so satisfactory in the past. The same
principles that made America so great.
James O B Wright
April 29, 1970
Speech before the Chattanooga Engineers Club
I lost them when they realized that I was advocating
that their license to pollute should not be free – that they
should pay an appropriate fee for every pound that they
discharge into the atmosphere and waterways.
The speech shows that things haven’t changed much in
forty years. Many of those who believe in our free
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enterprise system don’t realize that they must vigorously
oppose the idea of government providing everyone with
free stuff.
VOODOO SOLUTIONS
We may stipulate that serendipitous discoveries are not
unheard of, and that we possess a subconscious ability for
solving problems. Even so, claiming that a latent cognitive
faculty in a fertile environment for serendipitous
discoveries might somehow out-perform logical reasoning
is outrageous – outrageous, maybe, but not nonsense. I
admit that I cannot logically prove that logical analysis is
impotent for solving the problem at hand. But there is
considerable evidence that tends to justify that contention.
The biggest obstacle in accepting that fact is that a majority
of us are happy with our frenzied world. Of course, we
would like a little more of the good things, see room for
improvements, and there may be minor annoyances that
could be corrected. Not many people, however, have had
time to wonder why their life is so stressful. Only a few of
us are seriously concerned. Things that stress the majority
of us are immediate fears, such as the possibility of being
laid off, of losing health care insurance, or an impending
mortgage foreclosure. In addition, there are nagging
concerns -- such things as an outstanding education loan,
credit card debt, or car or other monthly payments. These
immediate personal concerns are usually appropriately
solved logically, and with help or advice as needed.
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Tough problems in which logical analysis is impotent
are issues that will never be solved satisfactorily at the rate
we are going. These issues include: education at all levels,
physical and mental health, retirement, entitlements,
intercity high speed trains, reliable water supplies, reliable
cheap fuel, disaster protection for hurricanes, tornadoes,
floods, earthquakes and wild fires, privacy, crime, terrorist
protection, computer viruses, job availability, the homeless,
jails, logjammed courts, rush hour traffic, parking space,
safety, identity theft, sports arenas, diseases, immigration,
population control, hazardous waste, garbage, food safety,
drug safety, drug abuse, religious freedom, abortion,
income disparity, and age, gender, religious, sex and ethnic
discrimination. My sister would have me add to the list:
swarming roaches, choking kudzu, dying hemlocks,
evangelical hordes blogging airways, herbicides and no
checks and balances. Many logical solutions are, have
been and continue to be tried to resolve these issues without
a lasting effect. Logical solutions to these issues involve
spending more and more money and doing more and more
things that tend to increase our GDP. Increasing our GDP
is the one thing where logical solutions excel.
Adam Smith’s logical model accomplished that. It
efficiently increased the nation’s wealth as measured by the
GDP. The trouble is that, by necessity, logical models
must limit variables to a manageable number for which
cause and effect relationships are known. Smith’s model
leaves out the need to limit disparity of income and in so
doing, misses the opportunity of significantly improving
the well-being of us all. In Smith’s model, production
value is reduced to the lowest common denominator and
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can be upset by disruptive factors, such as a localized
drought which is clearly beyond the control of producers.
This may, in turn, call for government support of prices,
and various regulations which frequently lead to uniform
mediocre quality. Government intervention opens a crack
for special interests -- and it doesn’t stop there.
The list of issues is not intended to prove that logical
models are voodooey. These issues document a mismatch,
a misapplication of a purely logical approach. Logical
models do effectively solve immediate less complicated
problems, but they have limitations as demonstrated by
what I have outlined. These limitations should not distract
from logical analysis’s usefulness in contributing to or
polishing excellent solutions to complicated problems.
Logical analyses will definitely have a place in resolving
these issues, but they heavily depend on stipulated footings
and known relationships. Nevertheless, application of
logical analysis is advisable when the needed footings and
relationships are available.
We definitely cannot depend on a solely logical
approach to slow our frenzied world to a pleasant durable
future. It will depend to a great extent on the combined
latent cognitive intuition of diverse citizenry who accept
responsibility for their own welfare in communities that
offer fertile ground for serendipitous discoveries. Logical
reasoning will, of course, serve to assist the citizenry in
reaching that hoped-for end.
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RESPONSIBILITY
The yeoman assumed responsibility for his own wellbeing. In Jefferson’s day doing that was easy. Today,
awkward, and often arbitrary, laws and regulations replace
the initiative of the person who would prefer accepting
responsibility for himself. Regulations are rarely as
reliable as the good judgment of someone accepting
responsibility.
We risk our life when we get into our car to go
shopping. If we were to have a wreck on the way, the
accident may have been the other guy’s fault. He would
then be held responsible, but we took the risk. He carries
liability insurance which over time costs more than the
remedial damages. The increased cost is for the lawyers,
bureaucrats, courts, adjusters, salesmen, advertisers,
administrators, staff, contributors to legislators and
lobbyists that have a vested interest in liability suits. The
insurance companies must pay all those people; they need
to make a profit, and please don’t forget the poor CEO of
the insurance company who deserves a big piece of the pie.
In my state, if the insurance company reneges on their
responsibility, the department of insurance won’t intervene;
instead, we are advised to sue the owner of the car. Why
him? He paid for the insurance required by and licensed by
the state. The insurance company is the one doing the
reneging and the state department which is charged with
policing the industry has become its apologist. To top that
off, we are not allowed to be reimbursed for court costs or
legal fees unless the defendant had agreed. That doesn’t
seem right to me. There is a simple solution: why not have
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individuals accept responsibility for what happens to them
when they choose to take a risk? Insurance covering that
risk would be far less expensive than liability insurance
which would no longer be needed. Why not? Because that
simple solution can be defeated by logical argument. And
besides, who would then pay the lawyers, bureaucrats,
courts, adjusters, salesmen, advertisers, administrators, staff
and lobbyists?
We may or may not be able to choose the doctor to
whom we entrust our lives. Maybe choosing the insurance
plan determined that. If so, we made the choice. We took
the risk. The doctor must have malpractice insurance and
we indirectly pay the premiums. But that’s not all. In
addition to paying the insurance premium and the doctor’s
increased overhead, we pay for many tests that serve no
purpose other than facilitating proof for the lawyers, if
required later in court, that the doctor was diligent and to
possibly discover some prior problem that might be blamed
later for whatever mishap that might occur. The high cost
of medical care is blamed on outrageous malpractice
judgments. The logical solution is to limit these judgments.
But the family doctor isn’t getting rich because most of the
spiraling cost is for unneeded specialists and technicians,
overhead, expensive equipment, and insurance overhead
and lawyers, CEOs, etc. The simple solution to a large
portion of the spiraling medical cost would be to have the
people that are risking their lives by seeking medical care
buy life and disability insurance for themselves. But that’s
not logical because the one making the error (the doctor,
nurse, janitor, hospital clerk) would be the one responsible
for what happened. Besides, what should we do with the
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oversupply of test equipment that would no longer be
needed and what will happen to the technicians that ran the
unnecessary tests, who would pay the lawyers and then
why would there be a need for malpractice insurance?
Although it would not be logical to not hold those who
may be the cause of a mishap or accident accountable, it
would be less costly and save much stress if the laws were
such that those voluntarily taking risks be the ones legally
responsible for their own reparations if there should be a
mishap of some kind. Furthermore, people would then
naturally become more aware of the risks they take and
would perhaps reduce their exposure to risks.
Risk takers would probably become more aware of
road conditions and become believers in defensive driving
and make an earnest effort to know their doctors, teachers,
grocers and others that they can depend on and trust.
Taking on responsibility, they will become more aware and
appreciative of their surroundings and casual
acquaintances. So, naturally, they would be less apt to
litter and would be more prone to know and make friends
with their neighbors.
The cost of insurance for reparations for the risk taker
will be considerably less than the likes of liability or
malpractice insurance presently indirectly paid by the risk
taker. Add to those premiums collateral costs – increased
doctor’s office overhead, delayed traffic for documentation
of possible liability, litigation costs, extra specialists and
tests to prove diligence, legal firm’s overhead, expert
witnesses and lawyers. The difference between premium
costs for liability or malpractice insurance plus collateral
costs is much greater than simple insurance for reparations
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for the risk taker. The difference that the risk taker
presently pays is several fold that which he should have to
pay.
This unnecessary cost increases annually and further
contributes to the out-of-control growth of the GDP which
should no longer be considered to be a good thing.
Furthermore, the world needs more people with Jefferson’s
yeoman perspective. Expecting risk takers to accept
responsibility for their own actions instead of passing the
blame, although not logical, will help recreate the yeoman’s
perspective in more of us.
Eliminating all laws that might discourage one from
taking on responsibility, however, would invite anarchy.
We do need laws, regulations, enforcement officers, courts,
jails, judges and lawyers. Recall, however, what Alexis de
Tocqueville observed in the nineteenth century. He was
surprised that Americans were so law abiding considering
our minimal means of enforcing order at that time. Adam
Smith’s model is a logical model that deserves credit for
the fantastic rise of American wealth and power. Not all,
but most of the credit. Some credit – a significant part – is
due to special conditions that our separation from the old
world created. Even before Smith published The Wealth of
Nations, we were showing the tremendous potential of a
diverse group of independent people who accepted personal
responsibility for their own welfare and behavior.
We should re-examine laws and regulations that
discourage those who voluntarily take risks from accepting
responsibility if anything should go wrong. I would like to
think that one should evaluate his own vulnerability when
entering a contact sport, say sky-diving or skate-boarding
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and be prepared to assume responsibility for a possible
serious injury. Likewise, we are voluntarily taking risks
when we accept the judgment of professionals, select a
hospital or engage an engineer or architect. If the one that
risks his life or fortune assumes responsibility, then
professional advisers would feel free to give their honest
advice rather than the usual guarded statement required to
satisfy their lawyer and malpractice insurance carrier.
SECURITY
Practically everything on our farm, including family,
guests, livestock and crops are protected by our huge guard
dog. Having very little special training, that lovable pet
does his job and can be depended on. Coyotes and other
predators keep their distance. But I suspect that the dog has
never been challenged. His presence is all it takes to
maintain order. His size, his deep rough bark and
omnipotent air demand respect.
Whenever members of the family go to the swimming
hole, the dog circles the area to make certain that the place
is secure. One can’t beat that for homeland security.
He might occasionally growl at the bull, chickens or
others in his charge if they should show too much interest
in his food. Otherwise they all hang out together amicably.
What I witnessed the other day surprised me. When
he was innocently showing an interest in day-old chicks of
one of our brooding hens, the hen became furious and
forced him to timidly back away. Wow! A vulnerable hen
challenging a dog that was some thirty times her weight!
Her protective actions demonstrated courage that other
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animals, even those with sharp teeth and many times her
size, wouldn’t dare do. Her protective instinct made her
invincible.
Witnessing this reminded me of the importance of
many instincts that humans share with the rest of the world.
That powerful protective instinct and the need of security
are related. They are important human traits that have
much to do with the human behavior that Veblen, Weber
and Adams did not take into account in their theories. Fear
trumps social and economic motives.
Associated with that strong protective instinct and need
for security is fear. Fear happens to be the devil’s most
powerful weapon. We are afraid of terrorists, possible
pandemics, creeping socialism, failing schools, economic
collapse, foreclosures, safety of foods, of medications and
the loss of health insurance, job, pension, Medicare, Social
Security, the right to choose whatever, plus many other
formidable slippery slopes.
We are frequently motivated by our feeling of
insecurity and fear and become seduced by various
hysterias. Special interests, politicians and their PR and
advertising agents know this. They sometimes knowingly
scatter the seeds of questionable facts on which fears and
hysteria could easily be based. Those questionable facts
are candy for the media enabling that endless chatter that
their audiences expect. Then, correcting the generated
hysteria and created spurious necessities calls for
protection: police, military, regulations and laws – all of
which are keyed to actions that fuels our ever-increasing
GDP which is keeping us so busy.
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To be secure, one must be protected. Being protected
suggests some kind of control. Who controls what or
whom? Niccole Machiavelli answered that question for the
prince. The prince controls his subjects. Lenin, Stalin,
Adolf Hitler, Mao Tse-tung and Saddam Hussein, all had
their own methods of securing their safety and authority –
their subjects were fairly well made secure (controlled)
finding that their security from the mad world heavily
depended on maintaining a low profile. Fear of the
unknown leads to the desire for security which is promised
by the leader. To provide that security for his constituents,
the leader then requires a means to establish order among
his constituents. In the cases of fascists or communists,
that order is obtained by replacing the fear of the unknown
with the fear of the known – storm troopers or their
equivalent.
It is different in the free world. Elected leaders who
promised too much to get their job are faced with the task
of satisfying their constituents who expect action. All of
the hysterias, fears, annoyances and promised favors must
be dealt with. An impossible task – except in the minds of
those who believe that such things should be free in the free
world. People and groups wanting to accept responsibility
for their own welfare know better. They are not willing to
relinquish control of their lives to a bureaucracy to secure
them from dangers or problems that they can best handle
themselves. No, those wanting freedom to accept
responsibility for their own lives will naturally be less
susceptible to the fears of the mob. Fortunately, they can
be relied on to act and vote reasonably as Jefferson’s
yeoman would have.
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That’s one of the many reasons why the growth of Bill
McKibben’s communities is so important. Freedom
depends on voters that can think for themselves -- those
who value their independence and freedom decisively
above protection from trumped-up dangers.
EQUAL PROTECTION
I see nothing in the Constitution that gives incorporated
entities any of the special powers and privileges that are
presently assumed by them. Corporations may commit
crimes, seize property or embezzle their employee’s
pension funds. Rarely do the responsible people go to jail
for such unlawful acts or are they deprived of what they
had personally accumulated while mishandling entrusted
funds.
Over the last sixty years agribusiness has essentially
run the small family farms out of business. Most of this
was done with the help of federal and state subsidies, laws
and regulations.
In my state, companies that mine, timber or install
utility lines are given generalized un-tethered permits that
allow them to rape property belonging to private citizens
whose rights should have been protected by the
Constitution. The state doesn’t require that the offending
company follow the same laws that apply to property
owners. To obtain remedial repairs, the property owners
are told by our state agencies to take the company to court.
The owners’ attorney informs their client that according to
the law, the offending company cannot be made to pay the
legal fees without express permission from those being
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sued. Those legal fees are frequently greater than the cost
of remedial repairs making it inadvisable to sue.
Essentially, the license that is given corporations permits
them to damage property belonging to private citizens who
have no recourse.
Foreigners may buy stock in and own shares of
American companies. Those companies generally have
freedoms not available to private American citizens. This
means that, in America, foreigners have a way to gain
greater protection under the law than American citizens.
Most corporate entities have special interests and
frequently lobby for legislation or regulations that are not
always in the best interest of the public. Furthermore,
many companies have managers who have taken control
and run the company to enrich themselves while neglecting
their responsibility to stockholders, employees and the
public. Those companies may be foreign owned having
foreign managers which, in effect, subordinates American
citizens to some foreigners.
Regulation and control of milk has successfully put
90% of the dairies in the southeastern United States out of
business. The decline began sixty years ago when it
became unlawful for farmers to sell fresh milk directly to
neighbors or to others in their community. (I explain
elsewhere in these pages why fresh uncontaminated milk
from healthy cows is safer and more nutritious than the
pasteurized milk currently available.) That prohibition had
the effect of changing the category of milk from a farm
product to a commodity. USDA now effectively sets the
price. Now dairies in the southeastern states are required to
subsidize the importation of milk from New Mexico or
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elsewhere. This unfair burden is expected to eventually
wipe out the last of the dairies in the southeast. Logically it
makes sense. Commodities need a uniform price, so
someone must pay for the freight of milk brought in to
make up for the production deficiency of the region.
Logical, depending on what you want to accomplish.
It is unlawful to use a creek bed for a road in our state.
As a private citizen, I am not allowed to do it on my own
property. However, when a timber company was
constructing a road down a stream on our property, I
complained. I was informed by the state department of
Environment and Conservation that the company had a
“general permit” issued to logging companies and that it
was out of their hands.
In clearing a temporary easement though our property,
a pipeline company set fires and left the fires unattended
over night. The fires flared up, threatening our lives and
home and burned more than five acres of our wooded
property. When the company began rebuilding the fires the
next day, I asked the state forestry department to stop them.
I thought their license should have been revoked since not
attending fires constitutes criminal neglect. The state
forester said they could not stop them because they had a
“general license.” The criminal investigator of the division
of forestry agreed with me that they had broken the law, but
explained that the district attorney had advised him that his
staff didn’t have the manpower to prosecute and that the
court would probably not succeed in doing more than
giving a lowly laborer a suspended sentence for not doing
what he probably had not been told to do. No one who was
actually responsible was likely to be held responsible and
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the company could pocket what it had saved by not doing
the right thing.
The same company failed to take normal precautions
that would have prevented rain from washing a mile long
trail of mud from their work area through our yard,
dumping hundreds of tons of red clay along the way to the
river. Two mud flows occurred during the short interval
that the company was on our property. Our state
department of Environment and Conservation couldn’t help
us there either. The mud flows lasted about two days
(while it was raining) and our state department of
Environment and Conservation allowed the offenders four
days to correct the problem. No one responsible would be
held responsible and the company could pocket what had
been saved by not doing the right thing. Furthermore, I
imagine that the one responsible might even be rewarded
for saving the company the expense of taking normal
precautions.
The same company, on the same project, changed the
flow pattern of a creek on our property that tends to
meander. One significant, but not unusual, rain
subsequently scoured out over a hundred tons of creek bank
and threatened a bridge abutment. What took place
ordinarily results from such changes in a creek’s flow
pattern and the company had been warned that it could
happen. Although they had been asked, the state
department of Environment and Conservation had not
required the company to restore the flow pattern which
would have prevented the subsequent damage. The
company had a “general permit” that allowed them to do
virtually anything. Anything, regardless of whose property
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they might be on. Property owners find it nearly
impossible to obtain a permit for less serious projects in or
near water on their own property, yet corporate entities are
readily given blank checks for doing almost anything, even
on property not belonging to them.
It seems that corporations are permitted to divert storm
water off easements onto property that doesn’t belong to
them and modify a streams’ flow in ways that often causes
untold damages.
The same company refused to help me determine why
our spring becomes muddy after rains. This problem
developed at the time the company had been blasting rock
on our property. I need to know the cause of the problem
so I can fix it.
A responsible individual doesn’t leave a fire
unattended. Besides, it’s against the law in our state.
He doesn’t blast rock, throwing huge boulders hundreds
of yards to locations that people frequent without having
provided adequate warnings.
He doesn’t knowingly neglect to take precautions to
prevent storm water from washing mud from a steep slope
that he had freshly graded.
He wouldn’t dare temporarily impound storm water
without any thought of damage that the water would do if it
should rain.
He wouldn’t divert troublesome storm water onto
adjoining property without permission and without
determining whether the property would accommodate the
gathered storm water.
A responsible and knowledgeable individual would
never mess around with the contours of a creek knowing
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that any changes would likely upset flow patterns
downstream. Besides, doing so might invite a stiff fine if
you are not a powerful corporation.
The responsible individual has more constructive
things to do than support a staff of lawyers to devise ways
to write contracts that swindle those who mistakenly
assumed he was acting in good faith.
Duke Energy got away with doing those things in the
short time it took to install a pipe across our property.
A good neighbor would offer assistance in determining
the cause of a change in water from a nearby well or spring
if a change coincided with something he had been doing.
In such cases, it is important to show immediate concern,
especially if it might not be possible to correct the problem.
One might sense that we have a problem here. In
accordance with the Fourteenth Amendment, our rights for
equal protection are diminished by incorporated entities.
We need to change the laws and regulations that violate the
Fourteenth Amendment, and we need an advocate.
Sensible voters will surely continue trying to wield their
influence to make the changes and they will soon succeed if
their numbers continue to grow as they have been lately as
observed by Bill McKibben.
The Fourteenth Amendment means protection of the
freedom of all individual citizens. This must include
protection from entities licensed or otherwise condoned by
the government as well as protection from the government
itself. Equal protection should mean that no one should be
given special license or are allowed to have an incorporated
entity do for them what they are not allowed to do as
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private citizens. The private citizen has been forgotten.
Thorstein Veblen’s leisure class has been metamorphosed
into incorporated monsters that rob individual citizens of
their rights and freedoms.
The problem is not new and is not limited to
companies on eminent domain property, timber companies,
strip miners or oil companies. Trading companies as early
as the fifteenth century were sanctioned by governments.
Adam Smith used the collusion of the wool industry and
the British government that existed in the eighteenth
century as an example of such goings on. Governments,
religions, banks, law firms and non-profits eventually may
metamorphose into monsters that threaten individual rights
and freedoms. C. S. Lewis fantasized scary possibilities of
takeover by such entities in some of his writings.
Corporations should have no more freedom or power
than individual citizens. I believe that the Fourteenth
Amendment calls for no special power, privileges or
protection under the law. People guilty of crimes, fraud,
tort, or breach of contract should be treated equally and
never be shielded from criminal justice by a corporation.
We should assume that say, the chief financial officer
knows when the books are cooked. If that’s the case, treat
him accordingly. A CEO saying that he didn’t know what
was going on doesn’t hold water. When he makes
misleading statements, he should be held accountable.
People responsible within corporations should be the ones
identified and prosecuted whenever corporations commit
unlawful acts, not a subordinate made scapegoat who did
what he did because he knew what his boss wanted and was
trying to please him. Our laws should require corporations
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to cooperate and help identify the individuals responsible
(not necessarily the one that gave the order, but the boss
who was actually in charge) for the unlawful acts
committed by the corporation. Not doing so should be
treated as an unlawful cover-up and the CEO held
responsible for both the cover-up and the crime.
The problem laws and regulations will take time to
correct. That’s because it will take time to replenish the
sensible voters that our hard earned freedom depends on.
That political voice is needed before we can effectively
change those laws and amend regulations which
compromise those freedoms. But our courts needn’t wait to
make positive changes. If statutory laws are to blame for
the lopsided advantage given corporations over private
citizens, they certainly are not constitutional. So, the courts
just need to do their job. The jury should be permitted to
award the plaintiff complete relief from material damage,
loss of direct and future income and the total cost of
litigation, including the value of his time spent obtaining
justice. In addition, the jury should be enabled to require
that the defendant provide funds for a trust that would
provide advocates for individual Americans who have been
run over by large corporations or government entities. The
rationale for this is as simple. Fourteenth Amendment
rights need to be enforced. Providing an advocate for those
damaged will significantly alleviate the problem.
Corporations would then discover that they cannot continue
using the tactic of making litigation too expensive for their
victims to seek justice.
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NATURE’S M.O.
One would think that the frenzied culture fostered by
Veblen’s leisure class is too entrenched to be changed. The
best defense for the status quo are logical arguments which
tend to make any suggestions for change appear to be
irrational and irresponsible. We know better. Logical
models are impotent in addressing complicated problems
such as the one under discussion. The big problem does
not present itself in a way that can be solved by logical
methods. Causes and effects are simply too intertwined to
be untangled and logically examined.
I made my living as an engineer solving problems.
Research, development, trouble shooting, design,
managing, writing proposals and business plans, sales,
persuading or motivating associates, superiors or staff -- all
such endeavors demanded logical analysis and reasoning,
in depth. I lived and breathed logical analysis and
reasoning and know it to be adequate for solving most
problems. Some problems, however, require a more
powerful way – the natural way – which I shall explain. A
once-proposed learning machine provides some insight.
The machine would have been able to solve problems that
were too difficult for logical models and would not be so
dependent on man invented ways involving logical analysis
or reasoning.
In the late fifties or early sixties, before the world had
definitely settled on digital rather than analogue computers,
an idea for a novel computer was suggested. It was not to
be a logical machine as our present ones are; instead, it was
to be a device that could be taught in the same way one
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might teach a child. The analogue computer design could
be readily configured to be a good learning machine. The
circuitry would be designed with external means for
changing internal connecting switches, resistances,
impedances, gain, etc. In effect, its programming would be
somewhat like adjusting volume or tuning to a station on a
vintage radio.
In teaching the machine to play checkers, the teacher
would, by turning knobs or tuning by other means, cause
the machine to make the right moves. With sufficient
schooling, the machine would learn all the best moves and
could theoretically defeat anyone who was less skilled than
its teacher. The proposed machine was named a learning
machine. I was intrigued and, at that time, felt that the
technical researchers specializing in artificial intelligence
(AI) would develop the idea. I’ve since lost track and don’t
know whether the idea has been pursued.
Such a machine with sufficient multiplicity of tunable
circuits could predict weather better than the wooly bears,
groundhog or such. The machine would only need practice
and experience. Teaching would be a snap because history
teachers know the answers before asking the questions.
One would teach the machine by feeding historical data
into the machine’s memory and then tuning its circuitry to
make the machine predict the already known weather
conditions for wherever and whenever. The input data
would include land and ocean temperatures, rainfall,
barometric pressures, cloud cover, volcanic activity, sun
spots, El Niño conditions, ice cover and more, at locations
all over the world. Imagine, all the weather related data
from everywhere, updated continuously. A conventional
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computer could not possibly process that much data. The
number of cause and effect relationships required for
conventional logical computations would quickly
overwhelm any feasible hardware and human
programmers. Moreover, not all important weather
effecting relationships are known. The learning machine
which does not need to process scientific theory to predict
weather, would be expected to learn on its own that which
would be needed to provide more and more reliable
weather predictions, and the quality of the predictions
would be further improved as the machine gained
experience.
Think of it. We have the ability to build a machine that
can learn to predict the weather. The machine can learn to
process all related data without having been programmed to
use meteorological science. It could process more data than
meteorologists could possibly consider due to inadequacy
of logical theory and the limited capacity of our logical
machines. Face it. A machine built out of simple
electronic hardware, that would not be a computer nor an
intelligent device, could assimilate and process much more
information than we could conceivably tackle with our
logical theories and most powerful super computers.
That would be impressive. But not as impressive as
what nature has accomplished utilizing a much greater
number of living entities rather than the fewer number of
electronic tunable circuits we would need in our learning
machine for forecasting weather. This is important. The
essence of everything, whether we are talking evolution or
credit where due, everything in the universe as it exists
today was created or predestined and is maintained in
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accordance with nature’s modus operandi. Nature isn’t
concerned with logical models. It’s not a fancy computer.
It’s much more than that.
I have heavily depended on logical analysis
throughout my life. My family and many associates hated
me for it. But in spite of that somewhat fanatical
dependence on logical methods, I became aware of
weaknesses and limitations of logical modeling and
analysis at an early age. That explains why I became so
infatuated with the idea of the learning machine some fifty
odd years ago. I was not alone. Others have also noticed
the limitations of logical analysis. The most profound was
Kurt Gödel; followed by Thomas Kuhn who in The
Structure of Scientific Revolutions blames circular logic for
prolonged stagnant and worn-out paradigms. “Thinking
out of the box” is frequently suggested as a way to
overcome some of the limitations of logical analysis. Many
think tanks, corporate, educational and governmental
institutions believe regularly scheduled brain storming
sessions help. Ivy league graduate schools use case studies
to loosen the grip of detailed logical analysis.
Nature’s modus operandi deserves credit for all
“intelligent life.” It’s all that powerful. It depends on a
learning process that functions somewhat the same as the
learning machine that I’ve just described. Its tunable
circuits, however, are living things. It utilizes such a large
number of living entities that it is bound to come up with
many good solutions to posed problems. Serviceable
answers are shared to complete cognitive tasks. In nature,
the viable wins out. I’m convinced that doing things
nature’s way will assure our best chance for survival. To
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take advantage of this opportunity, we need to allow nature
to do its stuff. The demise of a Dutch colony in Greenland
early in the second millennium might be attributed to
logical people not trusting nature’s modus operandi. The
impact of a meteor or extreme weather change probably
isn’t entirely responsible for global massive extinctions. I
suspect that the dinosaurs were either poor learners or were
unwilling to share what a few of them could have learned.
Mankind, take note.
The learning machine idea that I have described lends
insight into how human intelligence must have evolved. I
propose we revive and put to use our latent cognitive
faculty by following nature’s example and extend this
cognitive capacity by involving input from as many people
and groups as possible. We must continue rebuilding
communities of people wanting to accept responsibility for
their own well-being and who would learn and readily
share favorable discoveries. Community members
accepting responsibility for themselves would serve in
place of the tunable electronic circuits in the learning
machine. Replacing electronic hardware with responsible
humans would surely yield results more acceptable to us
humans. Learning and sharing helpful ideas will ultimately
lead to the durable future that we are meant to enjoy. We
are not talking artificial intelligence (AI), we are talking
extending our innate human intelligence in accordance with
nature’s M.O. We will be extending human intelligence
another rank by figuratively wiring everyone’s brains
together. The odds are that out of seven billion people, a
few of us can come up with and test the ideas that we need
to direct us down the right road.
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I am banking on McKibben’s observation that
communities of people that want to accept responsibility
for themselves and are apt to act sensibly are increasing in
numbers. To keep the community building trend alive, we
need community spirit. The community needs unifying
goals – a purpose that holds the community together. In his
book Deep Economy, Bill McKibben understood this fact
and provided examples where shared goals had transformed
nearly hopeless situations into communities such as those I
advocate.
My personal story demonstrates how setting goals work
in creating agrarian communities. We know that meeting
open-ended goals is important because in the past that’s
how most communities got started. Closed-ended goals are
capable of generating the community spirit we desire, but
once the job is accomplished, that goal must be superseded
by another goal. A clean-up goal could be followed by
goals such as improving law enforcement, fire protection,
health care, education, or creating and maintaining an
environment for some worthy cause. Success achieved in
one doable goal could lead to others of an open-ended
nature, needed to keep the community spirit alive. The
process of setting goals (open or closed) may be
sufficiently open-ended to accomplish and perpetuate that
spirit.
It’s not the winning soccer team, the prize winning
Christmas decorations, how well-policed the streets are, or
educated the children, or well-prepared the fire department
is for fires or other emergencies, or the rating amongst
livable places. It’s the collective responsibility for seeing
that such things continue happening that is important. We
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need to restore the world to a community of communities
of families consisting of people that readily accept
responsibility for their own well-being. The people we
need are not unlike the yeoman or agrarian farmers who
could be depended on to vote sensibly.
We may find community spirit that naturally surrounds
military, educational and research centers. Ethnic
neighborhoods, government complexes, industries,
individual companies, manufacturing complexes, ship
yards, distribution centers, sports teams, recreation
facilities, arenas, ski slopes, resorts, and tourist traps. All
of these potential communities will have people that may
naturally have overlapping interests – interests that may
suggest reasons for working together to meet unifying goals
-- the essential ingredient of community spirit. Urban
centers contain innumerable possibilities for overlapping
diverse communities that lie waiting to be discovered by
people with common interests.
Though I feel I should be mapping out descriptive
recommendations for the communities within urban
settings, I realize that no single logical model may ever
exist. I base my plea on Gödel’s incompleteness theorem.
Coming to a solution or, preferably, several good diverse
possibilities, will require that everybody in the world use
their combined latent cognitive intuition to work those
details out for their particular situations. That’s the natural
way.
Caution! It’s tempting to create make-work in order to
hold one’s interest in community projects. Das ist
verboten.
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Nature chooses the best solutions to problems submitted
based on results, most of which depend on adaptability,
strength, intelligence, fertility and attractiveness. Jared
Diamond in Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human
Societies, provides insight into how we fit into the scheme.
Many of the world’s citizenry seeking the durable future
that we crave will find valuable guidance from Diamond’s
writings, history books and anthropological studies of
others for possible social structure that could be considered
initially.
Nature allows all grassroots elements to fend for
themselves and gives all elements an opportunity of taking
advantage of serendipitous discoveries. In nature,
innovations that work spread from the place of origin.
They are not determined by congressional committees, a
council of the wise, a panel of judges, an elected leader or
his staff, a king, a powerful tyrant, or a benevolent dictator.
What works is passed up through the ranks. We must
somehow follow nature’s example to the extent that it is of
the people, by the people and for the people, and ultimately
taking our proper place in the world where every entity
depends on the rest. We may place our welfare and
comfort first, but must not risk losing everything by
ignoring the rest.
We will have reached the halfway marker after people
who prefer being responsible for themselves have gained in
numbers sufficiently to effect needed changes in laws and
regulations that limit our freedom to look after ourselves.
Many of the problem-causing laws and regulations that
need to be changed are cited elsewhere in these pages.
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Most of those needed changes would be permissible within
the framework of our constitution.
We will be in uncharted waters beyond the halfway
marker. Nature determines how tens of millions of diverse
species can co-exist on this planet. United Nations,
kingdoms, empires, democracies, Caesars, tsars, and
Pharaohs are all human inventions, dating back about ten
thousand years. So far, they have not proven themselves to
be very sustainable, and definitely not compatible with
nature’s modus operandi.
The beehive queen is a slave to her job of producing
eggs. She does not call the shots. She is not the decider.
Her hive works with nature.
As I see it, we will eventually drift into a culture that is
compatible with nature. Hopefully, it won’t be a violent
revolution, but gradually evolve into a new culture and
structure that will, in effect, turn our democratic
Constitution upside down so that private citizens can accept
responsibility for their own welfare and work with nature
as all other living things do. If we can overcome our frenzy
and begin thinking and behaving sensibly, there should be
plenty for everyone and there will be less need or desire for
wealth and power – well, at least no more than existed in
the world before man became the predator.
We should not rush into turning the Constitution upside
down. Our Constitution and government are the best and
will continue to be so for a long time. Of the people, by the
people and for the people is still our goal. The problem
with our government is minor. The trouble evolved from
the simple fact that the Constitution first defines the
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government structure. Then, as though it were an
afterthought, the Tenth Amendment was thrown in.
Good try, but not good enough. Eventually we should
start over by defining that which is best for the people and
then define government structure to provide only that
which would protect our freedom to look after ourselves.
Depending on the circumstances, different communities
will have different needs. Government structure may vary
from place to place or be flexible. People or communities
could possibly contract for minimal appropriate services
and infrastructure.
The changes needed must be discovered and tested by
communities of self-sufficient people who are not limited
to logical perspective but who can and are apt to tune into
nature’s modus operandi. Furthermore, our sought
freedom requires self-responsible citizenry. For this
reason, the communities that we are building must come
first, or at least begin first, and be prepared to accept those
freedoms as they are handed back to them.
No. We aren’t building a rebellious constituency to
overthrow our government. History demonstrates that that
won’t work. Our hope rests on building an active
constituency capable of bringing about evolutionary
changes.
LEGAL NECCESITIES
Nature’s modus operandi won’t provide all the answers.
Even so, I recommend that we follow its methods because
those methods have proven their worth. I believe that after
re-establishing communities of self-sufficient people
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accepting responsibility for their own well-being, and after
correcting counterproductive laws and regulations, we will
be ready to re-structure our form of government so that it
will no longer invite counterproductive regulations that
make it so difficult for individuals to assume responsibility
for their own lives.
Natural laws are, however, excluded from the province
of jurisprudence according to John Austin in Province of
Jurisprudence Determined. Laws of nature are not
addressed to anybody, and there is no possible question of
obedience or disobedience to them. Accordingly, Austin
pronounces them “laws improperly so called,” and confines
his attention to “laws properly so called,” which are
commands by a human superior or determinant group to
human inferiors. We seek possible ways to restructure our
laws for maintaining order, and such laws “properly so
called” do not exist in nature. Nature, therefore, cannot
provide examples of that which it doesn’t possess. Jared
Diamond’s book and anthropologists’ reports may provide
some useful insight into how the laws might be structured
but can provide no working examples that I know of.
Animals marking their territory is the only example
that I have observed in nature that could be considered “law
properly so called.” The boundary that the animal marks
could be considered a command to creatures that recognize
it as a warning to not cross -- or else face implied sanctions.
Animals that butt heads to establish dominance is another
matter. Establishing dominance doesn’t have the essential
elements of what Austin determined to be a “law properly
so called.” Except for the command and sanctions of
animals marking their territory there is less than a slim
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chance of learning how to reconstruct our laws from
examples to be found in nature. This is a job for our latent
cognitive faculty and serendipitous discoveries utilizing
nature’s modus operandi.
We will have reached the point at which we become
ready for a new form of government only after we have reestablished a significant society of communities of people
willingly accepting responsibility for their own lives. Then
and only then, should we consider tackling that job. Before
then, it would be pointless to speculate about possibilities.
We are definitely not ready yet. America is presently well
suited, as is. I suspect, however, that we will eventually
morph into a superior form of government, not yet
visualized.
Most families get along tolerably nowadays without
calling on “laws properly so called.” Our ancient ancestors
probably did better than we do now because, in their time,
there were fewer controls from without. In the family’s
case, one or both of the parents call the shots and
administer discipline as needed. The extended family, clan
and, to some extent, the tribe operated much the same way
as the family. A dominant member called the shots, settled
disputes and enforced obedience.
Families rarely have had to resort to “laws properly so
called” to maintain order. Furthermore, even tribal groups
did not necessarily have “laws properly so called.” But at
some level in more developed social hierarchies the
dominant person became sovereign and some customs
became habits to which sanctions could be attached. Until
that degree of hierarchical sophistication was reached, the
individual, family, extended family, clan or tribe
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maintained order tolerably well without having “laws
properly so called.” Neither did they have any use for
lawyers, economists, politicians, the NRA, lobbyists,
judges, ACLU, law enforcement officers, bureaucrats,
insurance or pension plans. Imagine that! The dominant
person settled disputes and members of the group looked
out for each other.
It’s tempting to blame the lawyers and bureaucrats for
all our unnecessary busyness and stress. Lawyer bashing
won’t accomplish anything. They are simply doing their
job. Centralized governments are the ones that are
responsible. They set the stage for the lawyers and all the
others. Lawyers, bureaucrats, other people and institutions
seem to be needed in all centralized governmental
administrations. It’s going to take a strong base of selfreliant people in communities to retrieve from the
government hierarchy essential elements of control that
rightfully should be up to the communities. One would
think that our representative government should have
accomplished that. The reason we have fallen short of that
goal may be that we have allowed our agrarian sensible
voting constituency to be replaced with a collusion of
lawyers, bureaucrats, and managers of national and global
institutions of all kinds. Hopefully, but don’t hold your
breath, all that it will take to correct the problem is to
replenish the lost base of persons having Jefferson’s
yeoman’s spirit with a base of communities of people
desiring the freedom to be responsible citizens. I suspect it
won’t be very easy because our masters are so well
entrenched.
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All branches of government will need the perspective
of the responsible citizen base that we are building.
Success will depend heavily on having a sufficient number
of sensible voters. Certainly citizens wanting freedom to
accept responsibility for their own lives and wanting to
reduce their dependence on the government will be
interested enough to stay sufficiently informed and be
sensible voters. Being less frenzied and less stressed out
will provide the citizenry with ample opportunity and a
strong inclination to keep informed so that they can make a
difference.
One might say that the only weakness of our present
constitution is our lack of the solid base of sensible voters
that Jefferson knew we needed. Maybe so. Perhaps
restoration of that base which is taking place is the final
answer that we seek and all that we need to do is to
determine why we lost our sensible voter base and then
plug that leak. Restoring communities of people eager to
accept responsibility for themselves who will vote sensibly
will in itself effect our laws positively in favor of the
survival of the sought after communities
There’s no way that a present day Supreme Court or
inferior court judges could have the perspective of
Jefferson’s sensible voter. Nowadays, candidates must
have bias predicated by the party in power. In the first
place, the judges are lawyers. They are professionals that
made their living taking sides on issues and their income
depends on keeping arguments alive. In contrast,
Jefferson’s yeoman would not have had the luxury or time
to spend fussing about unimportant details – if he doesn’t
recognize urgencies as they occur and act in a timely
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manner, the cow dies or the crops don’t get planted. A
lawyer’s perspective is entirely different. Furthermore,
they are inclined to rationalize doing such things that got
President Richard Nixon into trouble. In addition, they are
responsible for the annoying uncalled-for guarded,
diffusive hard-to-read and understand carefully-worded
legal jargon in fine print on the back side of legal
documents that you had better read and understand.
Moreover, the judge candidates are more often selected on
the basis of how they stand on issues on which they are
supposed to be impartial – and they play that game. Judges
should not be or have been lawyers. So, ultimately there
will be a need to change how judges are appointed or
elected to reflect the perspective of the responsible citizen
base we are building. Choose an election method from the
three hundred million possibilities suggested by sensible
citizens. Do it nature’s way. The odds are that more
sensible methods will be discovered.
Even anarchy might have a chance if the world were
made up of sensible people. I’m serious about that. By
anarchy I don’t mean active resistance and terrorism
against the state, but absence of any form of global
authority. A substancially global government just might
not be possible. Our founding fathers realized that, and
weren’t able to work out satisfactory checks and balances
for one person or group with unprecedented power above
others as stated by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 76
regarding overseeing the executive and legislative
branches, “No errors they might commit can be corrected
by any power above them, if any such power there be, nor
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can they be removed from office for so many erroneous
adjudications.”
Hamilton was probably right. And it’s probably not
possible to have a single global government or one
dominant one. Who could correct the power above them?
If all dumb creatures in nature get along tolerably without a
global governor, why can’t we? To do so, we must kill the
matrix monster, which I’m ready to identify and explain,
and replace it with a way of life that people are sure to
develop.
THE MATRIX
Having recommended nature’s modus operandi as a
guide for becoming sustainable and for resolving legal
problems, I must now face the awful reality that not only
are nature’s laws “laws improperly so called,” but also that
very little, if anything in nature is sustainable.
Unschooled in such things, I had observed that things
die. Germs, microbes, worms, chiggers, bugs, gnats,
flowers, trees, snakes, cats, dogs, people, favorite fruit
trees, good friends and loved ones, all die. Nothing stays
the same in nature. Rain, shine, night, day, hot, cold,
spring, summer, fall, winter, floods, monsoons, droughts,
meandering rivers, shifting continental plates that push up
mountains and crack open rift valleys, ice ages, mass
extinctions, meteor showers, asteroid impacts, sinking and
rising land masses, volcanic eruptions, exploding and
imploding stars that leave neutron cores or black holes,
colliding galaxies and the expansion of the universe into
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who knows what. I find the few samples overwhelming. It
suggests that we should cautiously question whether we
should blindly follow nature’s lead in order to become less
extravagant or for ideas for more stable institutions.
Although it’s difficult to find things in nature that one
might consider sustainable, we cannot deny that nature, as a
whole, appears to be quite resilient. Nature has been
around for billions of years so far, and there is no end in
sight. The process, the modus operandi, is what makes the
natural world sustainable. Its constituents are not built to
last. Following nature’s lead, we need not worry about
such things as wasting all of our fossil fuels if we can
harvest them without defacing precious landscapes and if
we have other sources of energy in mind and have worked
out proper disposal of troublesome byproducts.
Theoretically, nuclear waste and sequestered carbon
could be sent to the sun or into a handy black hole to solve
the waste disposal and greenhouse heating problems
resulting from drilling, mining and burning activities. And
to simulate nature’s accountability, the cost of doing so
would naturally be included in the price of electricity or
liquid fuel. No. Don’t even think about it. Even if we did
have the know-how, we can’t be depended upon to do the
right thing because we won’t consider it to be economic.
Nature’s modus operandi is sustainable because it’s openended and does not depend on imaginative accounting.
Living entities within each species are designed to be
replaced. Sustainable species lay eggs, give birth or drop
seeds before dying.
Planned obsolescence is apparently a key to nature’s
modus operandi. Nature’s creations aren’t built to last
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indefinitely. Instead, nature provides the prototype, energy
and materials, leaving the rest up to its creations which are
free to share nature’s abundant store. Like it or not, we
must live with the business of death and planned
obsolescence because we are natural beings residing in
nature’s domain. Planned obsolescence exists because it is
more economical than creating permanent things that
would never become obsolete. After all, to be sustainable
one must run an economical business. We die but nature’s
cosmos may exist forever. Our species, our culture could
also live indefinitely, depending on what we do. But don’t
look for a way out of our personal mortality. We lost that
chance when we ate the forbidden fruit.
One might reasonably conclude that if our species and
culture are to become sustainable, our culture must become
more in tune with nature’s modus operandi.
Freedom is basic. We know that we need sufficient
freedom to enable us to regain more control over our
personal lives and assure the survival of our culture and
species. It’s ironical that the question of freedom should
have even come up. After all, animals are free to accept
responsibility for their own welfare. But many humaninvented laws, those “laws properly so called,” seem to
regard human intelligence below that of the animals.
Diversity is just as important. All men are not equal.
They have different strengths and weaknesses. It’s
obvious. If you have grown up with siblings, you know
this. For instance, one of my brothers is a connoisseur of
wines, literature and cigars. He knows all the right people,
those with good taste, money and power. My other brother
would never take such things seriously. He took great
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pleasure in and was successful at working out moneymaking deals for business associates. One sister has a
tremendous store of energy and self-discipline. She excels
at everything she fancies and she embellishes on the
already exceptional activities of her family. My other sister
is also a successful, fun-loving homemaker but is more
patient and subtle about it than her sister. I am the retiring
one, the mad scientist, the engineer and the plodding one.
We are all different and I suspect are a representative
sample of human kind. Neither the Declaration of
Independence nor standardized tests in schools could
possibly diminish human diversity. On the other hand, if
we continue destroying diversity in our food chain, it will
eventually threaten our food supply by causing another
potato famine or worse, this time on a global scale. Adam
Smith’s division of labor depends on diversity. And we
need diversity to compete with a very competitive and
diverse nature. Furthermore, we need the variety of ideas
that only diversity can provide that will improve our
chances of obtaining the best possible serendipitous
discoveries to meet challenges and possible problems that
the future might bring.
Then there’s nature’s lack of “laws properly so called.”
That’s where we break with nature. And that’s where our
troubles apparently began. Well, maybe. According to
John Austin in Province of Jurisprudence Determined
(1832), our laws, those “properly so called” that are absent
in nature, are “commands by human superiors or
determinant groups to human inferiors.” Human superiors
and determinant groups include not only all three branches
of our governments and their agencies. A large portion of
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our laws go back centuries to feudal, Roman and
Solomon’s times, encompassing all ancient western
civilizations. Furthermore, our human superiors and
determinant groups include professional societies,
organized labor, clergy, religious and environmental
fanatics, racists, educational, health, and welfare advocates,
and powerful, national and international institutions with
special interests. The human inferiors to whom the
commands are addressed happen to be most of us. It’s been
that way for millennia. We are not ready for a rapid
withdrawal from all “laws properly so called.” I’m hoping
that eventually we will arrive at a point where we could
feel comfortable turning the other cheek. However, I’m not
holding my breath until then. I have discussed many of
nature’s “laws improperly so called” including human
nature because they have an important bearing on our
inquiry.
Dying is an essential step in nature’s modus operandi
for creating life. Our sun and solar system is made of the
ashes of dead stars. The red shift, a dying out of the light
from heavenly bodies identified as Doppler red shift by
Edwin Hubble in the early twentieth century as a measure
of the receding cosmos, is important. It saves us from
roasting from night and day radiation of the entire sky with
equal or greater intensity as that of the sun. This was a
serious paradox that troubled Heinrich Olber and other
astronomers a century ago. Mountains are dying. Eroding
mountains fill valleys with soil containing essential
elements for plants which feed the world and die and enrich
the soil so that their replacements would thrive. Our sun is
dying. The energy that it sheds in the dying process keeps
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the world warm and creates carbohydrates via
photosynthesis so plants and animals can live and become
our food.
Even if I had paid attention to such things in school or
stopped to smell the roses during my productive years
when I was so busy -- too busy to take in and enjoy all the
wonderful things going on around me -- I could offer more
examples, but that additional information would be a
pitifully infinitesimal fraction of the credit due nature’s
modus operandi. Nature encompasses everything, down to
within the atom and all things in the universe. And
arguably, there is no waste. Things die but their remains
are put to use, thereby sustaining the universe.
Another important way that our culture differs from
nature’s modus operandi is that the goals we seek are
visions with an ideal conclusion, while nature doesn’t have
an ideal conclusion that we know of, that is, apart from
heaven. Nature’s modus operandi offers horizons beyond
which we cannot see. Nature’s creatures and structures
serve their purpose and become obsolete. There’s no
reason that our culture can’t do likewise with our creations.
When our visions mature and become a reality and those
visions become moot issues, then those particular old
visions should be replaced with fresher visions which will
ultimately, in turn, become passé horizons. Old visions
must be allowed to mature and die if we are to become in
tune with nature’s modus operandi.
I admit that I was born with a silver spoon in my
mouth. I never thought that I was a human superior
because of it. Nor have I ever considered myself a human
inferior. I found these words, human superior and human
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inferior chosen by John Austin to define “law properly so
called” disturbing. I have my own set of strengths, talents
and weaknesses which do not make me superior or inferior
to anyone.
We had an African American servant when I was
growing up. I never thought of her as a human inferior.
She helped my mother cook, do the laundry, clean house
and look after me and my siblings. The entire family did
likewise, working together helping each other and
accepting responsibility for assigned chores. Christine
joined us before the oft told experience of her having
changed my younger brother’s diaper in a taxi between the
Pennsylvania and the Grand Central station. She stayed
with us, off and on, long after my siblings and I had flown
the coop, and helped mother look after my two
grandmothers during their last years.
Back in the 1930s, Christine worked for us for as little
as one dollar a day. She couldn’t get more elsewhere in the
South and appreciated the kind and respectful treatment she
received from us. We knew that we were fortunate to get
her at any price. In later years, my father paid off the
mortgage on her home and on one occasion that I know of
he gave her some Scientific Atlanta stock, which if she kept
for a while would make her rich. My mother helped her
with income and Social Security forms and payments to
make sure that she would receive her earned benefits on
retirement. We felt that by taking her into our family, as
we did, was a good thing to do without realizing that we
were taking advantage of the fact that she had been denied
chances for the better life that were available to us. We
supported the system that deprived her of the same chance
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that we had and we didn’t make the connection between
that aspect and our relation with her because we grew up
with those “laws properly so called” already in place.
Being law-abiding citizens, we dared not question our
inherited laws for which we were expected to be grateful.
One rarely knows how wrong the system might be. Our
system rewards human superiors at the expense of human
inferiors in ways that we fail to understand, especially
persons like us on the receiving end. That’s precisely
what’s wrong with “laws properly so called.”
We supported the system that denied Christine the
chance we had for a better life, not so that we could afford
to have someone to wait on us but because it was a system
that we felt worked best in the South. She was happy to
have the job. Conventional wisdom was that the system
made jobs available when jobs were scarce. After all, that
was during the Great Depression. We were glad to be able
to take advantage of a pay rate that we could afford.
Christine felt she was lucky to have us and she tactfully
tolerated our delusions regarding segregation.
I came to realize later that the minority race was
seriously insulted and mistreated by some of us and that
there were others whose attitude toward them was
motivated by fear -- a fear due to ignorance. For instance,
in the mountains where blacks did not dare go, when I told
a neighbor how frightening it was to confront a huge black
bear at our back door, he responded, “Couldn’t have been
near as scary if it had been a big black man.” When
visiting a factory up north, I realized that the plant manager
was unable to exchange friendly small talk with his black
employees as we do in the South. On a Caledonia flight
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returning from Europe, I observed that our stewardess was
afraid to ask a black passenger to straighten his seat and
return his tray to its storage pocket. He was large and
muscular but a gentle father of four children who were with
him and his wife. Such fears were useful tools of the devil
and still exacerbates racial tension, even today.
Immigrant labor makes it possible for some farmers to
make money and provide cheap food for our starving
nation. The farmer feels that he is helping the immigrants
that he employs by providing jobs which pay more than
they could earn at home. Assume that both the immigrants
and the farmer feel good about the arrangement. The
situation would then be similar to the arrangement that my
family had with Christine. The system was working in both
instances. But something is wrong. Arguably, low wages
are counterproductive. If so, how could we be happy with
laws that cause a significant disparity in wages? The easy
answer is that though we have good intentions, we don’t
make the connection between our amicable intentions and
the full impact of our actions; furthermore, we have short
memories. If she were still here, my grandmother would
remind us that “the road to hell is paved with good
intentions.” She frequently used that response to our, “We
didn’t mean to...” Grandmother’s assertion applies as well
to what we are doing today.
All human superiors have good intentions and they
believe that their pragmatic approach is successful.
Doctors want to save lives and keep their patients healthy.
Lawyers give their clients legal advice and assistance to
protect their rights and keep them out of trouble. Teachers
educate their charge, preparing them for what lies ahead.
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Farmers provide us with healthful food. Clergy are called
for religious service. Legislators create and enact laws to
protect and guide us. Judges decide or settle controversy so
that we might live safe, orderly and peaceful lives.
Administrators take charge, manage and direct important
government, commercial, industrial and charitable
institutions. Bankers, economists, engineers, scientists,
journalists, salesmen, lobbyists… I could go on. Most of
us believe that what we are doing is good and everyone
benefits from our well-intended contributions. We are
generally pleased with the results, not realizing that we may
be fostering predator/prey outcomes. We believe that we
are doing the right thing and one of the right things to do is
to preserve our power and position so that we may continue
to do the right thing. That in itself constitutes a persuasive
slippery slope that ends with the wealth and power in the
hands of few.
Preserving power and position so that one may
continue to do the right thing is a stronger motivation than
one would expect for those intending to do the right thing.
More than once I have been elected to office because of my
interest in what an organization was doing. Once on the
job I found that I was less effective in initiating and
supporting needed programs. Stewardship responsibilities
trumped all else. Preserving the institution, as is, took
precedence over doing things that the institution should
have been doing. In fact, doing nothing was frequently the
preferred option, especially if there were risks involved or
if there was a danger of it becoming costly.
I mentioned two instances of low wages to illustrate
the difficulty in recognizing injustices caused by our “laws
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properly so called.” The employee willingly accepts the
low pay for his work and his employer believes he is doing
good by putting someone needing a job to work. Neither
realize that the low wages are contrived to support the
economy as defined by the GDP. As one would expect,
increasing the GDP while maintaining the low wages will
increase the disparity in incomes and reward the human
superiors who created the laws that increased the GDP
while holding down wages.
Early in life I learned that those who made the rules
were the ones that won the game most of the time. One
might identify that lesson as a law of nature --- that rules,
“laws properly so called,” which are commands of human
superiors or determinant groups to human inferiors, would
be expected to give the advantage to those making the
rules. Even with good intentions, the rule makers in
protecting the integrity of the game will accumulate power
and wealth so that they might better perform their job of
writing and implementing their rules. The process of
accumulating power and wealth becomes metastasized.
The rule of law as defined by John Austin must inevitably
evolve into a predaceous monster. For this reason, societies
that are based on “laws properly so called” are destined to
become perfect predators. Human superiors and
determinant groups are the predators and human inferiors
are the prey. In nature, when the predator gets too efficient
and kills off too much prey, he starves to death. There are
other ways that this can happen. It is not always by
starvation, but according to Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs
and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (1997), human
societies do pass out of existence. As we get better and
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better at postponing the inevitable major economic collapse
with our predaceous “laws properly so called,” we might
reach that perfection which could be a death sentence for
our global civilization.
The predaceous monster is not human, nor is it a
nebulous collection of powers and principalities, wealthy
and powerful special interests or national and international
institutions and professional groups that it controls.
Instead, Austin’s “laws properly so called” monster is a
living thing, which has no heart, blood nor material form.
This fiend is more like the devil. Actually, it is the devil
and can make us do things that we know that we shouldn’t
oughta do. To avoid confusion with other devils, I shall
refer to him as the matrix.
I realize a slippery slope does not constitute proof and
that I’ve been sorting through a lot of seemingly unrelated
stuff, but I am convinced that there is sufficient evidence to
convict the matrix. Formal proof is not my bailiwick.
Anyway, I am excused by Gödel’s incompleteness theorem
that proves, once and for all, that nothing can be proved.
We may see the work of the matrix all around us. In
my family’s case we have faced all sorts of impediments to
our establishing an exemplary small farm that is needed to
slow unsustainable activities and rebuild a durable, pleasant
future. Please bear with me while I try to give you an idea
of what trouble the matrix can cause.
Immediately after retiring and buying our farm, we
bought available contiguous acreage for protection. (It was
abused by people from all over who spilled over onto our
farm and did inexcusable things.) A few months after
purchasing the acreage, the state increased its assessed
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value to several times what we had paid for the property. It
took several levels of appeals, taking me to the State
Capitol to get any adjustment at all. A year later the tax
assessors ignored the corrected appraisal which made it
necessary for me to repeat the appealing process. Now the
unimproved property is appraised at seventeen times what I
paid for it just a few years ago. That appraisal doesn’t
make me richer. I still have the same acreage, and it’s no
more productive. Nevertheless, the taxes are increased
seventeen hundred percent.
Incidentally, on the first level of our first round of
appeals, an important person ahead of me in line persuaded
the appeals committee to knock one million dollars off his
assessment by simply stating that though his new home had
cost more than their assessed five million dollars, he would
not be able to get that much for it if he wanted to sell it.
Human superiors receive preferential treatment – in this
case a generous gratuity for unspecified considerations.
There is a prescriptive easement dead end road going
through our farm. Nobody lives beyond us. But there is a
lot of traffic and a disproportionate share of single-car
accidents each year. The accidents are from driving too
fast, driving under the influence or being on drugs. Some
travelers have sticky fingers so we must keep things tied
down. A canoe was stolen and a park-style bench was
taken from its location next to our spring where travelers
were free to sit and enjoy the cool air from the cave on hot
days.
Early one morning, I discovered county workmen
preparing to pave the serviceable tar and gravel surface of
the prescriptive easement road with smooth hot mix
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pavement. I called the county road department to explain
that no one lived beyond the farm and that we would rather
not have the road resurfaced. Since it was up to the
commissioner, who was due back in his office
momentarily, I requested that he call me when he came in.
That time passed and he did not call. I called my attorney,
who didn’t return my call. I called a county judge who was
a neighbor who couldn’t do anything to help in such a short
time. Calling the department again, I left a message that if
the commissioner didn’t return my call, I would stop the
paving myself. He never called but arrived with a deputy
sheriff. I stood my ground when the commissioner said he
decides, period. I was handcuffed and taken to the county
jail. The charge was disorderly conduct. (I had not moved
when so ordered.) I had hoped the charge would have been
that I had held up progress which would have given me a
chance to speak on the issue. It was my property, not a
county road and the road served no one living beyond my
farm or anyone who had prescriptive rights to the road who
lived in the county.
Another vexing encounter with government agents
began when the river which runs along our eastern border
began scouring out a new path that would divert the river
down the prescriptive easement road on our property
through our farm and across our fields and dividing our
pastures. We asked the state department of environment
and conservation for permission to correct the problem.
They advised me that I needed a permit from the state,
TVA and the corps of engineers. When I asked for help in
obtaining the permits, they said that we must send them the
permit fee and they would send us the state forms. I had
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hoped for more help. The scoured path reached the road
before I had an opportunity to jump though their hoops.
We were then told that because of the flowing water, the
road was considered to be a river and that we could not
move the equipment for making the repairs as planned
since rivers were under their control. It’s difficult to
understand why none of the governmental entities had an
interest in protecting what they claim to preserve and
control. What we proposed doing would have preserved
existing conditions and kept hundreds of tons of soil from
washing to the Gulf. The haggling went on for years and
the TVA permit expired before we received a state permit.
Dry weather -- the window of opportunity that would have
let us do the job -- was coming to an end so we decided that
instead of correcting the problem we would quickly build a
bridge while we had time. We asked what we could do
without a permit. They answered that we could do
anything on our own property as long as we didn’t go near
the water. Then we asked for a definitive description of
what was considered too close to the river. They didn’t
have one. Since we couldn’t accept that answer and
refused to leave empty-handed, they reluctantly produced a
copy of the state regulations which stipulates, on the first
page, that farms are exempt from the regulations and the
law. They had been insisting on our getting permits! We
built the bridges we needed and the river has since scoured
out thousands of cubic yards of soil in making a new
channel, depositing the soil along the way into the Gulf of
Mexico. The road that is now a river is still used as a road
when the water isn’t too deep because the state is unable to
enforce their regulations against anyone except land-
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owners who are easy to pin down and fine. The new
channel that the scouring caused is now, half a mile long,
ten feet deep and thirty feet wide.
I may be repeating myself but deem it to be appropriate
to include the following to support this point regarding the
trouble the matrix can cause.
When we bought the farm, it had a fifty year old
pipeline easement. The pipeline company decided to add a
second pipe and was able to install it without the usual
eminent domain proof of need for the public good. They
contracted with us for temporary work space for access and
began clearing, blasting rock and bulldozing. They left
unattended piles of burning trees over a weekend. More
than one of the fires escaped and burned more than five
acres of our woods. Our lawyer arranged a meeting with
them so that I might advise them that the unattended fires
constituted a serious negligence and that they needed to
take their responsibility to the community and our safety
more seriously. They continued to cut corners, as you may
judge from what follows. Besides the unattended fires,
there was uncontrolled blasting without proper warning that
hurled tremendous boulders over and beyond traditionally
safe foot trails that were in use. They failed to prevent two
preventable mud flows that left a trail of mud a mile long to
the river and leaving a two inch layer of mud in our front
yard. Besides these preventable assaults, they damaged a
spring that had supplied dependable potable water for
previous owners for more than a century, left long
troublesome windrows of rock, and altered storm water
channels to their own advantage creating problems for us.
Initially, our lawyer’s job was to impede the assault.
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Failing that, he was to get the company to remove the rock
and correct the problems their alterations had created.
Failing that, he was to obtain a settlement that would cover
our cost of removing the rock and correcting the problems
brought about by their alterations of the terrain. All that the
lawyer succeeded in doing was to turn our reasonable
request into a big costly law suit that was drawn out to milk
us unmercifully for his impotent services.
No, we don’t have a chip on our shoulders. What
brought these cases to the front was our belief that it is our
civic duty to respond to misuse of regulatory power and
inappropriate behavior to protect all of our – everyone’s -freedoms. Most people tolerate such things because it cost
too much to fight city hall.
All the people that made trouble for us felt good about
their job. They believed that it was important to do what
was expected of them. The tax appraiser believed that, to
be fair, all property, including unimproved land values
should be inflated at the same rate as that of speculative
and urban-sprawl land. The road commissioner wanted to
open up the county with roads. He was encouraged by
those hoping to profit by converting undeveloped property
into speculative lots. The conservation and environmental
bureaucrats, feeling helpless against the big boys such as
energy, oil, hog factories, feed lots, off-road vehicles and
land developers, are left with only small landowners on
whom they can enforce their regulations. Natural gas
pollutes less than coal and is an under-exploited resource.
For that reason, pipeline contractors believe that property
owners should be reasonable about what they can do on the
properties adjoining eminent domain easements.
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Most lawyers, judges, state tax, county road, state and
federal conservation and pipeline construction people I
encountered were likable, sincere and principled. They just
happened to be under the spell of the matrix. Our
responses were costly, losing battles, but we are still alive –
we survived to continue to respond to future misuse of
regulatory power and inappropriate behavior. Our attorney
was a disappointment to us. We were friends and I
depended on him for advice. He was a member of a firm
that I selected decades ago having known the founder with
whom we shared interests. I was disappointed with what
happened, but I should have known better. We didn’t need
a big expensive law firm that occupied several floors in an
elegant high-rent building full of partners and employees
who must be paid. I should have realized that, over the
years that I had known him, my attorney’s firm had grown
from a comfortable office suite into what one might expect
is inevitable in accordance with the matrix’s rules. My
lawyer, in the way he had changed over the years, was
giving me the legal advice and assistance, as he saw it, to
protect my rights and keep me out of trouble. I just
couldn’t afford to continue to support him.
I had mistakenly selected Saul’s army because, at the
time, I thought that I needed to show enough strength to
discourage any thought of getting away with further
reckless behavior. Instead, I should have sought a David
that knew how to kill the giant. I needed someone as good
as a district attorney that I knew that was proficient in
extracting the truth from hostile witnesses without
annoying the judge or jury. That’s all it would have taken.
But my costly friend wasn’t up to it. We had a sound case
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and never asked for more than enough to straighten out
what had been messed up. The mess that they had left was
proof enough. It was that simple. Simple enough to be
settled without going to court. My attorneys wanted an
expert witness and ended up with three, none of whom
provided kind of evidence the attorneys were looking for.
They should have been instructed in what the attorneys
wanted from them.
We filed our claim, took depositions and endured one
mediation round, intensifying combative attitudes. The
mediation was a flop because no one from the company
that attended knew what had happened or the extent of the
mess they had left; and the mediator had not been properly
informed and had no idea regarding the strength and
reasonableness of our sound case.
When I realized that the possibility of our obtaining
justice was diminishing, I asked for an estimate of the cost
of further litigation and our chance of obtaining a favorable
judgment of a specified amount. I never received an
answer. I stopped paying them. And when asked, I told
them why.
It took another lawyer to bring the case to a conclusion
which yielded less than ten percent of damages and legal
fees. Now I owe the original lawyer for charges that
accumulated after I stopped paying them.
I wonder why they haven’t come after that. Probably
because they figure that I will put up a good fight which
they can avoid eventually by collecting from my will
executor when I’m not around to object. I think that the
firm owes me and should return most of what I’ve paid
them. Unfortunately, law firms don’t die so I wouldn’t
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have a similar opportunity to collect from their executor.
That’s another way the matrix looks out for his puppets.
I’m mystified as to why a friend, a brilliant attorney, an
honest amicable person with broad interests could have
botched that case. The culprit, I think, is the matrix. It’s
not simply that the attorney’s wealth is derived from
administering the matrix’s “laws properly so called.”
Though he doesn’t realize it, those laws created the matrix
and they are what enslaves everyone, even those that
administer them. He is not responsible. The matrix is.
The matrix not only causes our frenzy, disparity of wealth
and income and inexplicable behavior, it also brain washes
us, causing those with good intentions to do his dirty work.
A postmortem of all this is instructive. I know that
large corporations, especially those on eminent domain
easements, endeavor to make litigation as costly and
unpleasant as possible to discourage those who might be
inclined to seek justice. That’s an age old practice. I
initially advised my attorney that I wanted to avoid that
trap, and after the company ignored our express concerns
and created further preventable damages, I hoped that we
could persuade them to correct the problems. After that
failed, I felt, however, that our case was simple and direct
enough that the company would realize that it would be to
their advantage to settle. As I see it, the problem was that
they were unaware that we knew what really went on, that
the problems should have been avoided and that they can
be fixed. I know that their employees and those of their
agents would have been poor witnesses for the defense
because what they knew would make it difficult to support
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their story of what happened without perjuring themselves.
Besides, our demands were reasonable.
I thought we could simply put our case to the jury in a
way that they could understand and the defense dared not
deny. The jury could then consider the simple evidence
and render a fair judgment. How naïve.
I knew lawyers had a knack of making simple things
outrageously complicated. I should have also anticipated
the conflict of interest that would have been working
against me. Corporations might just as well be considered
human superiors because human superiors who issue the
commands that become law “properly so called” are at their
beck and call. Judges and lawyers are their agents.
That leaves very little room for any recourse against
breach of contract or for personal or property damage
caused by corporations. Late in the game my attorney
advised me that my legal cost might not be allowed and
that he wasn’t sure that the judge would allow the cost of
fixing the problems caused by not following the contract,
neglecting customary practices and ignoring specifications
in their permit documents.
What the judges don’t allow is serious – much more
important than I had recently thought. Fixing problems
caused by neglecting contractual requirements and legal
expenses incurred in enforcing the obligations should
reasonably be left to the jury. Apparently, the jury, all
presumed to be human inferiors, are judged by the court’s
human superiors to not be intelligent enough to render
decisions that make sense. Amazing. Why should those
questions have come up? Human inferiors must be kept in
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“their place.” And how arrogant. For some reason we are
oblivious. It’s the matrix’s doings.
The matrix is responsible for other troubles which
seemed minor until recently. Our county, state and federal
governments are further encroaching on our freedoms.
What’s happening now exceeds a slippery slope. The slide
has accelerated and now approaches free fall. Our human
superiors are burdened with a tremendous responsibility of
providing the public with protection beyond their means.
This includes the safety of food, toys, drugs access, homes,
privacy, transportation, air and water quality, work places,
income, health, money and investments. And, yes, the list
is growing and approaches nearly all aspects of human life.
That burden sounds impossible! Well, it would be if it
were not for the help of our Supreme Court – the matrix’s
top deputies whose good intentions are certified by our
President, the FBI and Congress. In exchange for uncalledfor help and protection which our taxes pay for, we must
surrender our freedoms, considered an appropriate tradeoff
by human superiors.
That intrusion is obvious to us on the farm.
Traditionally, farmers have sold their butter, eggs, milk,
cheese, vegetables, whisky (until 1919), hay, pickles, jams,
hams and honey to individuals and retailers. Jefferson’s
yeomen and Berry’s agrarians had it easy. Now, we are
required to have a permit for, and restrictions on,
practically everything we do.
Here’s a good example of how the matrix uses human
superiors with good intentions to undermine our free
enterprise system: Regulators need to outnumber farmers
to provide food that’s safer than that traditionally produced
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without their help. There were not enough people to draw
from when there were so many small farms. It made sense
to reduce the number of farmers to provide enough
personnel for providing the needed regulations. Small
farms, therefore, had to be put down using rules and
regulations. Financial support and other advantages had to
be provided to large, efficient factory-like farms. That
explains the reason for outrageous regulations that tend to
eliminate small farms. As a matter of practicality, the
regulators would need to know more about farming than
the farmer to duplicate the standards that farmers had set
for themselves through the centuries. To be effective, the
regulators would need to police the facilities, operations
and products and certify the products as having met
standards that they must develop. These services logically
had to be paid for by the farmers. Whether the products
could be safer is questionable. Whether the products could
ever be as flavorful or as nutritious is doubtful.
This suits established agribusiness by relieving them of
traditional agricultural responsibilities , limiting
competition and making it possible to replace
knowledgeable and reliable workers with cheap labor in a
factory sweatshop environment or cheap part time field
hands replacing neighbors to whom the farmers had year
round commitments.
To be fair and have a level playing field, all farmers
must meet standards that the huge global establishments
need – new and more costly arbitrary standards and red
tape replacing affordable, proven, traditional standards that
had served us well for centuries. A level playing field
sounds good; the only problem is minor; it simply puts the
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small farms out of business. Surely there are much better
alternatives than more and more laws, regulations and
restrictions.
FDA and USDA are under pressure from agribusiness
and other special interests to stay the course. They dug the
hole by promising to make foods cheaper and safer and
guaranteeing its supply.
Take your choice: spurious security or freedom. For
food and drug safety, we could depend on the credibility of
those that we know to be reliable and know their sources
back to the producer. I remember my father checking out
the kitchens of places we might consider dining, and
checking out a dairy from whom we were buying fresh
milk to make sure they were still acceptable. They were.
In fact, as I recall, those facilities were cleaner and the
animals were better treated and healthier than in any sizable
dairy that I have seen since then. That was seventy years
ago.
“Commands by human superiors or determinant groups
to human inferiors” is the key stone. If we kick the stone
out, everything falls. Therefore, we need to brace the walls
by building communities of people wanting to take on and
share responsibility for their own well-being first. Then
gingerly begin removing unfit stones after developing
alternatives for holding things up.
STOPPING POINT
Because I enjoy working on problems, I have a
tendency to scare up too many, not all of which amount to
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much. I get carried away. It’s time to stop. I also realize
that many people won’t see all of them as problems.
Very few people realize how wasteful we are.
Consider, for instance, that the tremendous amount of fossil
fuel that we are presently consuming is derived from a
prehistoric surplus. An energy surplus is nature’s norm.
Moreover, the tremendous surplus originated from the void
or whatever existed before our universe. Although
photosynthesis isn’t an efficient way of capturing the sun’s
energy, that which was captured by photosynthesis was
more than enough energy to sustain all living growth on
earth, including enough to feed all of the dinosaurs. I would
think that this is sufficient proof that the sun provides
planet earth with more than enough energy for every living
creature on earth, including us. The excess captured energy
of the past was buried and converted to the fossil fuel that
we are unabashedly wasting.
An ordinary well-managed farm with minimal
requirements of water can produce twenty thousand pounds
of carbohydrates per acre per year. The carbon dioxide,
water and energy are free. In accordance with the law of
conservation of mass, essential minerals once established
are sustainable if not thrown out with the garbage. That
means that one tenth of an acre is theoretically enough land
to grow enough food for a family of four. (There is plenty
room for error should anyone question my estimates.)
That twenty thousand pounds per acre per year of
carbohydrates is equivalent to one hundred thousand
kilocalories of energy per day, and that amount is sufficient
dietary energy to sustain fifty adults. What’s grown can be
in the form of edible, nutritious vegetables or can be
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converted into meat or into storable and transportable fuels
by well-known methods. That twenty thousand pounds per
acre per year of carbohydrates is equivalent to more than
three gallons of gasohol a day, enough to propel an
efficient family car over sixty thousand miles a year. It’s
enough energy to heat, cool and light several ordinary
homes. We need not, however, depend solely on
photosynthesis for capturing all of the solar energy we
might need. The total solar radiation reaching the earth is
many times that which nature is able to capture by
photosynthesis. Besides photosynthesis, there’s
hydroelectric and direct hydro mechanical power. We can
heat water and living space directly from the sun and can
produce electricity with voltaic cells and generate power
from wind turbines, sterling engines, ocean waves and
tides. Burning logs in the fireplace doesn’t count because
that energy originated by photosynthesis. I suspect most
people already know this. At least they should.
Technically we know how to do these things, but
unfortunately, we don’t know how to let it all happen.
Apparently the trouble is that we don’t realize that the
problem is not a technical one with which we can cope.
Instead, it is a cultural problem. I feel, however, that we
are well on the way toward a solution by reestablishing
community spirit having elements that Jefferson knew were
important and that Alexis de Tocqueville witnessed in his
travels in America in the nineteenth century. No. It
doesn’t mean turning back the clock. We may retain all the
great things that we have developed that enable us to make
life fulfilling and pleasurable.
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It is essential that the reestablished communities that
we expect to build are allowed to regain control over all of
the laws and regulations that pertain only to them and their
territory. That control must include the administration and
enforcement of those laws and regulations as well as their
content. We know that communities having that freedom
and control of their affairs works because it has always
worked in nature without the guidance of human superiors
and it worked for our primitive ancestors as it did for the
early colonists in America. As pointed out by Bill
McKibben, we are on the way to reestablishing
communities populated with sensible self-sufficient people
who presumably will vote sensibly and assure us of a
pleasant, less frenzied durable future.
The difficult part will be the reining in of those human
superiors who currently exercise power over the individuals
and communities – their human inferiors. Only prayer and
our collective latent cognitive faculties of our diverse
species, trial and error and serendipitous discoveries can
lead us out of the mess that we are in. Reforms must begin
at the grassroots by restoring the rights of self-sufficient
individuals that accept responsibility for themselves and
their families, then by restoring freedom to responsible
communities and subsequently redefining the little
remaining truly necessary authority to higher governmental
layers. Start at the bottom, end at the top. After all, nearly
all individuals know what they personally want and need
better than anyone else and should be free to choose
whatever satisfies those requirements.
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EVER AFTER
Sounds easy. Sit back and let the movement toward
communities of self-sufficient people that are willing to
accept responsibility their collective well-being take over.
And we can live happily ever after.
It’s not that easy. Our citizenry is not as obliged to be
self-sufficient and accept responsibility for their own lives
as they were two hundred and forty years ago. We need a
villain such as King George III or the British Parliament to
rebel against. Rather than there being a single villain, there
is a hoard; not just CEOs, PR firms and lawyers, but a large
majority. Lawyers and CEOs and their staffs are
formidable because they wield a disproportionate share of
influence. We can, however, blame most everyone in the
executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government,
as well as their advisers and agents and the media. But
remember, they are us. Most of us are mere puppets of the
“laws properly so called” Matrix. All the self-enslaved
wealthy people and also the impoverished people who
accept welfare, grants, or tax credits from the government
and everyone who willingly accepts pay checks for work
they detest. All of us need to be won over and freed from
the manipulative influence of the Matrix.
Among the drafters of the Constitution were rich slave
owners and lawyers. You shouldn’t blame them for
looking out for their own interests. Their procedure won’t
work for us. We need to win over as many people as
possible with the perspective of sensible self-supporting
individuals, families and communities, endeavoring to find,
by trial and error, ways to regain and retain their diversity
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and freedom. The successful ones will enjoy the fruits of
their discovered ways. Their successes will be noticed, and
others who will follow their example and will discover
further ways to improve the quality of life.
Since there is plenty to go around, most of the
powerful and wealthy people will eventually voluntarily
abandon the leisure class in favor of the more wholesome
and relaxed life that shall come about.
Yes. There is plenty land mass, water and potentially
available renewable energy for a wholesome, relaxed and
pleasurable life for today’s global population. But should
we expect that to happen? Remember, nature rewards the
diverse, the flexible, and the prolific and provides enough
challenge to its subjects to maintain innate strengths. So, to
survive in nature, to be a sustainable society, we can never
afford to be too relaxed. We will continue to be challenged
and will remain active and competitive and continue to
desire the best for our grandchildren, not depriving
ourselves of pleasures but avoiding the senseless anxiety
and stress and need for conspicuous consumption and
conspicuous waste for the sake of an ever-increasing GDP
or for proving our personal prowess.
After identifying the problem and enumerating many
of the hurdles to overcome, I suggested that if we continue
building communities of people that insist on accepting
responsibility for their own welfare, we will serendipitously
create a sustainable culture that all of us can enjoy.
How naïve. Been there, done that and it didn’t work.
We shall get there. But when? Changes can be
evolutionary or revolutionary in speed. Our culture has
been in a painfully slow evolutionary mode for millennia.
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We can, however, rev things up by cutting entanglements
as I shall explain.
SERIOUSLY
Taking my grandchildren fishing, I found myself
spending most of my time untangling the children’s lines.
They had fancy rod-and-reels that were apparently
designed to tangle the nearly invisible monofilaments on
every cast. Experienced grandparents know that it’s next to
impossible to untangle a wad of monofilament for
impatient children. Because of that, the grandchildren and
I almost gave up the sport. But we didn’t. On our next
attempt at fishing, I cut a cane pole on the way to the
fishing hole and rigged it with a black cotton line that I
could see and manipulate and I used live worms. (The
natives use canned corn and no pole for catching freshly
stocked trout.) Fortunately, I caught a fish before the
children were able to assemble the fancy tackle that their
other grandparents had given them. It worked. We took
turns using my pole while I cut more poles so that all of us
could enjoy fishing at the same time.
As you might have guessed, that fish story is not really
about fish.
I am not ready to part company with you and risk
leaving the impression that I thought that it would be easy
or that it wouldn’t take forever to tame our frenzied
existence. I want to be sure that you know that I know that
we cannot simply sit back and allow the movement toward
building communities of people who want to accept
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responsibility for their own well-being and who would vote
as sensibly as Jefferson believed that his yeoman would
vote and that that alone would tame our frenzied economy
by creating a fertile environment for serendipitous
discoveries. Whew. That’s a lot to hope for. It’s a lot
more complicated than untangling a string. And we know
that passively sitting back and waiting isn’t going to
accomplish much. Fortunately, the people wanting to
accept responsibility for their own well-being are active
people, actively challenging the dumb stuff that keeps us so
busy. They are homeschooling their children, buying and
cooking nutritious foods even though cooking takes time
and nutritious food costs more. These concerned people
are becoming informed, taking an interest in how their food
is grown and prepared, changing their lifestyle, visiting
local farms, doing work shares on local farms, reestablishing small farms and rebuilding the infrastructure
needed to make the local farmer’s nutritious produce
readily available by forming consumer’s cooperatives.
They are working hard to form neighborhoods by talking to
the people living near their suburban homes and doing what
they can do to turn their subdivisions into functioning
communities.
Though untangling a single string is theoretically
possible by following a simple, logical algorithm, doing so
is time-consuming and doing so rarely solves the problem.
Real problems are generally not the tangles but that which
causes the tangles. Untangling the children’s lines didn’t
accomplish much. But switching to cane poles got us out
of the hole that we had been digging.
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Anyway, the tangles that are keeping us so busy are
not simple tangles that can be unraveled by logical
procedures. Our established cultural and economic tangles
are wads of many strands and knots that would take forever
to untangle by following such a procedure. Our wads
include many strings, tangles and knots, for example, knots
of the personal prejudices of seven billion people, of
political necessities, of misinformation, of over-restrictive
regulations, of religious beliefs, of quotas, of quid pro
quos, of lobbyists, of pride, of favors for special interests,
of station WIFM obligations, of pragmatic agreements, of
diversified normal and weird upbringings, of hysterias, of
legal necessities, of irrelevant conflicting theories, of
family ties, of acquired habits, out of respect for our
grandparents, and perhaps knots created by a few people
with evil intentions. And maybe a cocklebur or two.
The existence of so many cross-linked strings and
knots calls for bringing out the scissors. Then the task
won’t be as overwhelming as one might expect. Even if
there are no cross-links, using scissors can save time. Not
many links must be broken. After all, breaking one link is
all it takes to cripple an entire serviceable chain.
Using scissors will make it easier to identify both good
and bad links, enabling us to put to use good advice from
Johnny Mercer’s popular song, “…accentuate the positive,
eliminate the negative…don’t mess with Mister Inbetween….” Snipping away will expose the good and bad
and the pointless, degrading compromises.
Some of the links and knots that are responsible for our
stressful frenzied life are very powerful special interests.
Health care, for instance, is loaded. Lawyers, insurance
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companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, drug stores,
hospitals, specialized equipment manufacturers, hi-tech
stuff, communication and data processing people,
laboratories and FDA bureaucrats, all have a vested interest
in supporting and maintaining our health care quagmire.
One might wonder that, with all these people with their
fingers in the pie, what could be left for the doctors and
nurses? There are easily tens of millions of people who
depend on links to our nation’s health care industry. So it
would be foolish to tackle this tangle of special interests en
masse. Instead, let’s trim away one negative portion at a
time and observe what we might accomplish with one snip.
I believe that the lawyers deserve to go first. Why should
they be cashing in on the defenseless sick?
Lawyers are in the till for the greater portion of
malpractice awards. Lawyers aren’t cheap and their staffs
and expert witnesses must be paid. Consider the pros and
cons of eliminating, not all the lawyers, but just the
ambulance chasers. This would require that our courts not
sanction a class of civil malpractice suits – say, just the
suits that do not contribute positively to health care. The
need of malpractice insurance adds to the cost of the
medical insurance, doctor and hospital bills that the
noninsured must pay. Incompetent doctors are not the ones
that pay. It’s the uninsured sick and both the sick and
healthy insurance policy holders that pay. One might think
that the suits would cause the doctors to be more careful.
Yes, but careful to have their patients sign more papers and
to be subjected to more tests – many of which are otherwise
unadvisable. Most everything related to the sanction of
malpractice suits tend to separate the doctor from his
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patients. Much of his examination has been replaced by
tests or referred to specialists, the results of which are
reported and interpreted to the patient by his staff. This is
not good.
The rationale favoring the sanction of these suits is that
those who are guilty of malpractice should be punished and
that damaged patients should be compensated. But neither
of these outcomes are realized. The suits do not punish
careless doctors and the damaged patient must hire a
lawyer if he hopes to be compensated. Besides, the patients
indirectly pay the insurance policies that keep the doctors
from being punished. And the insurance policy that
indemnifies the doctor costs much more than a policy that
would compensate the patient if something should go
wrong. Furthermore, if the suit is successful, the plaintiff
must share the final settlement with his attorney. All of
these absurdities exist to satisfy nothing more than a quirk
in civilization’s present sense of justice!
Besides eliminating many costs, giving up that
vindictive stance will certainly yield a bonanza of
improvements in the actual care that patients receive
because doctors will regain their professional status. They
would then be able to act like doctors instead of the
technicians that they have become. They would have a
better opportunity to get to know their patients. They could
then reestablish themselves as fallible human beings who
would like to use their knowledge and experience to make
judgments and recommend what’s best for their patients.
Medical decisions could then be made jointly by the patient
and a professional with firsthand knowledge of the patient’s
condition and needs and circumstances. Compare the
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advantages of that scenario with that of obediently
following insurance policy or government regulations! I
can’t help but think that this alone would greatly improve
the quality of the care that patients receive.
This one snip solves many more problems. Besides the
cost of the courts and lawyers and unneeded extra tests and
red tape, there’s this business of how to set the amount of
compensation for what could go wrong. Corrective surgery
and created needs for medications and special care could be
more or less straightforward. But who decides how the
compensation should vary with the lifestyle of the
recipient? Shouldn’t the leg of a ballet dancer or the finger
of a pianist be valued differently from that of a retired bank
clerk? This question is used to justify exorbitant
malpractice premiums charged by the insurance companies.
The lawyers and insurance companies will be a
formidable opposition to our messing in their lucrative
business. But no more formidable than the tobacco lobby,
which included farmers, hooked victims and governments
that raked in and depended on a substantial bank role of
tobacco tax dollars, which incidentally amounted to more
than the tobacco company’s stockholders received.
Initially the insurance companies and lawyers will
consider any proposal to not sanction malpractice suits as
irresponsible. Then, after they realize that they cannot
rationally support that assertion, they would argue it would
become a slippery slope. I would hope so. Slippery slopes
are fallacious arguments frequently used to scare the public
out of sensible reforms. A little grease or ice, however,
would be welcomed here because there are many more
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things about the legal profession and insurance companies
that need correcting.
Actually, the greatest impediment will be overcoming
the vindictive stance that our culture has accepted and
endured for thousands of years. It will be hard to change
that habit of thought. But that can be overcome as we
begrudgingly changed our minds regarding slavery,
tobacco and women’s suffrage.
Seriously, the world can change, and it will.
I began this query with a serious question: “Why
doesn’t our quality of life reflect the tremendous
improvement in productivity that I have witnessed in my
lifetime?” Initially I was merely curious. But it didn’t take
long to realize the seriousness of what’s going on as I
began to contemplate the tremendous force of social and
economic entanglements that sustain the frenzy which I had
uncovered. As explained earlier, this condition cannot be
sustained indefinitely and the longer we succeed in further
expanding our expectations of more and more, the greater
and more violent the inevitable implosion will be.
Any flippant overtones you might have detected after
the bit on Adam Smith’s legacy are misleading. This
inquiry is serious.
Most likely you were shocked by my suggesting
Moses’ Jubilee as an interim remedy for our insatiable
hunger for more and more. I was serious about this
suggestion. But it was untimely to suggest it at the peak of
an economic cycle, if that’s where we are. To call for a
Jubilee at the peak would precipitate a catastrophic
collapse. But during an economic trough, planning a
Jubilee fifty years hence would prevent the excesses from
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developing in the future. This proved effective. It was
successful in correcting the wild economic swings in
biblical times and it would do the same for us today.
Besides those and other benefits to be gained by
reestablishing the Jubilee outlined in TESTED REMEDY,
there are many who have an uncomfortable feeling about
having to keep up with those they are expected to emulate.
Twenty-first century Jubilees would provide a chance to
bow out of that rat race and discover a productive and more
rewarding life.
You may suspect that the perceived trend of people
building communities and wanting to accept responsibility
for their own welfare as wishful thinking. I’m convinced it
is happening. Seriously. Somebody must make positive
decisions. Our species cannot survive for long without
having more people that can think for themselves. Who
else could it be but those wishing to accept responsibility
for their own welfare? Veblen’s leisure class has had their
chance. If there’s no one, then the question is moot.
The business of depending on serendipitous
discoveries with everyone in the world participating does
have a bearing on the subject. The problem is complicated
and entangled with too many knots to be solved by existing
analytical methods. It’s going to take much more than that
which our best think tanks can provide. I’m serious about
that. The purpose of the discussion of serendipitous
discoveries with everyone participating was to suggest that
there could exist more powerful ways of tackling such
extremely difficult problems.
The complexity of our insatiable hunger for our everincreasing more brought to mind a really kinked-up wad of
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string – something vivid in my mind because untangling
string was something we did back in the Hoover days. We
saved everything. Even odd pieces of string.
The fish story provided an opportunity to emphasize
the complexity of our hunger for more and illustrated how
snipping might be an immediately effective way of
whittling away at very complex issues before we finish
building all of our communities of sensible voters.
I would like to fill in details, but I can’t. The reason
that I have left so much for your imagination is that I don’t
have an inkling of what it will be like when we arrive at our
destination. It’s up to you. You will be able to live with
people whose company you enjoy and who are game for
doing things you like to do. And there will be plenty of
time for that. Even if one doesn’t want to do anything but
be entertained, he won’t be disappointed because there will
be those who enjoy putting on a show or participating in
spectators sports that he could watch. And there will be
those that love creating stuff that one might enjoy seeing. I
suspect that no one will be bored.
Extending human cognitive capacity beyond present
limits will come about as we loosen the shackles that
inhibit freedom of individuals to become responsible for
their own welfare and after we restore that part of our
ability to communicate that we lost when we learned to
talk. I will further explain and elucidate this conceptually
difficult idea in chapters two and three.
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Epicycles
As illustrated in
Encyclopedia Britannica
Ninth edition
Chapter Two
Everything Else
Epicycles is a factual representation of the orbits of
sister planets with respect to the earth, and is handy in
explaining the periodic regression of the planets as they
travel along the zodiac. Copernicus knew that. At that
time, it was also pretty obvious that the earth was spherical.
In fact, reasonable estimates of its diameter were easily
determined by observing the position of the North Star as
one travels to the north. The Vatican’s difficulty in
understanding Galileo’s view is understandable since the
scientific élite had it all worked out. So what? This
chapter deals with that mindset.
As you probably already suspect, my rude approach to
solving problems comes naturally. I apologize for that. All
of us are paving the way. I hope no one that I have
overlooked feels slighted. I have been told that even I do
dumb things in spite of my good intentions.
On being interviewed for a job before graduation from
college, the company psychologist singled me out, “Mr.
Wright, I had to see you in person to satisfy my curiosity.
Your test results indicate that you would be a complete
misfit in our organization. None of your personality traits
fall within our broad acceptable range.” I don’t recall what
the personality traits were, but I do remember that having
to take the dumb test that he was referring to had not put
me in a good mood. I also recall that all of my responses to
conventional wisdom statements were negative.
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Being a contrarian is not easy. We don’t ordinarily
expect the worst to happen. We are not reactionaries,
obstructionists or pessimists. We are in favor of progress,
but want to decide for ourselves which road to take.
Anyway, questioning conventional wisdom should not be
considered negative since doing so is a necessary and a
positive step in solving problems. Questioning
preconceived notions is essential anytime, but especially
before deciding which way to turn.
Even so, questioning conventional wisdom is painful
because such habits of thought are old friends – proven to
be helpful and wise, only overused and frequently
overvalued. Besides, there is a possibility of
unintentionally insulting others or of appearing reactionary
or of embarrassing oneself. I realize that it is possible that
someday I might make my first mistake.
Before I knew better, I was convinced that the
scientific method was infallible. I believed that getting
politicians and lawyers to become as disciplined as
scientists and mathematicians would solve our most
difficult problems – even the cultural ones that we have
examined in the preceding pages. Now, I know better. In
fact, I’ve saved a couple of interesting examples for this
chapter to illustrate instances where scientific method and
its application fall short of my youthful expectations.
By now you know that Chapter One, THE ROAD TO
HELL is a contrarian’s bearing on the evolution of our
culture. It’s written for everybody with good intentions. I
assume that includes most everybody.
As pointed out in Chapter One, our culture has
problems that are leading us into an untenable situation.
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Fortunately, the suggested solution is simple. It’s easy to
see that building communities of sensible voters will solve
a lot of problems, but it is conceptually difficult to imagine
how a trend of building such communities could bring
about the significant cultural revolution that we need.
Before tackling that question, more contrarian elucidation
on our scientific and technological legacy is advisable. It’s
included here for everybody with faith in our ability to
meet future challenges with improved concise, applicable,
analytical methods and it speculates on what will bring
about the intellectual boost needed to improve our approach
to complicated real world problems.
FOUR COLORS illustrates our continued crippling
dependence on Aristotle’s legacy -- logical analysis based
on self-evident facts or postulates. FOUR COLORS
illustrates the impotency of logical analysis in solving
certain simple problems. In this case our deficiency in
logical analysis prevented the acceptance of a direct and
elegant proof of the four color map conjecture for more
than one hundred years. I might be wrong in thinking the
problem is with logic. Instead, the blame could be
attributed to our tendency to be intimidated by precedential
authority which would have had the same effect. I have
included sufficient information so that you might judge for
yourself the significance of the problem that I see with
logical analysis. I have a drawer full of rejection slips, and
so far, I have received no explicit criticism that would
suggest to me that precedential authority had not trumped
reason. I hope you are not also intimidated and will be able
to identify whatever flaw that might exist in my reasoning.
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FOUR COLORS stands alone. The second example is
more complicated. It illustrates how a simple oversight by
the great geniuses of the twentieth century has wasted the
last hundred years of cosmological research. That fact
came to me in a strange way which I relate to you in the
following subtitles:
THE VISITOR
SHARED EXPERIENCES
NEGLECTED TECHNOLOGY
BRIDGING WORLDS
ETHEREAL STUFF
QUESTIONS
POSSIBILITIES
The first three of those subtitles provide the story – the
background that introduces some somewhat relevant ideas.
That background may or may not be interesting or helpful
to all readers in understanding the significance of what a
stranger presented. I include it in the raw to emphasize
what I see as a problem with our scientific method.
Moreover, there’s a possibility that the stranger’s model
could stimulate the kind of paradigm shift that Thomas
Kuhn describes in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
This is serious stuff, but not nearly as serious as what is
sure to happen if we don’t quickly begin making better use
of our collective latent cognitive resources.
Besides an interesting intrinsic value of the examples,
both expose deficiencies of our analytical tools which, if
corrected, should help us direct the road to a more desirable
destination. I believe they exemplify the danger of relying
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too heavily on worn out cognitive crutches and stale
paradigms.
Chapter One identified the matrix – “laws properly so
called” -- as the cause of our inexplicable behavior.
Deficiencies in cognitive tools explain in the first part of
this chapter our inability to identify and correct the
problem. Subtitles, ATTITUDE, ERGONOMIC DESIGN,
VIBRATIONS and NO BILLs identify contributing factors
that should share the blame for our not recognizing the
matrix as the real culprit.
FOUR COLORS
One might ask, “What do four colors have to do with
our insatiable hunger for more and more stuff – things that
that we don’t need that make our lives so stressful?” It is
one simple example that illustrates a serious deficiency of
logical reasoning that’s behind our cultural problems. An
elegant proof of the four color conjecture has been snubbed
for over a hundred years in need of a self-evident postulate.
That’s all. The proof depends on a postulate that is
willfully assumed elsewhere in many proofs where its need
is less conspicuous.
The drawings in Figure 1 illustrate how a spherical or
planar map could be colored with no more than four colors
in a way where no two adjoining areas would have the
same color. In 1852, an Englishman named Francis
Guthrie noticed that four colors were adequate for coloring
any map. He wondered why. That question challenged
mathematicians for an explanation which was not
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forthcoming for over a hundred years. In 1976, Kenneth
Appel and Wolfgang Haken published a proof of Guthrie’s
conjecture. Their proof makes use of what they
acknowledged to be an “unprecedented” use of computers.
Proof using a computer was not exactly what many of us
were looking for.
The process of map coloring and its many interesting
related color patterns and the fact that there had been no
proof were tantalizing. Being a talented artist, inventor and
technician, my father was fascinated by the challenge to the
extent that, for what seemed like eons, he tended to bore
visiting friends and family to death with his four color
designs and “proofs.” His favorite proof involved the
separation of pairs of colors by the circuits represented in
Figure 1.
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Figure 1
Three single circuits may isolate
pairs of colors as shown
The three drawings in the figure are nearly identical
and are colored the same: white, green, purple, and orange.
I have emphasized different boundaries in the three
drawings that separate pairs of colors: p and g from w and
o; p and w from o and g, and p and o from w and g. One
can see that if such circuits along boundaries that separate
pairs of colors could always be drawn, then four colors
would suffice.
It had been known that if the surface of a sphere or
sheet of paper were dissected by a network into simply
connected polygons to form a map and that if the network
supported a single circuit passing along region boundaries
and through all network junctions, the map could be
colored with four colors such that no adjoining polygons
have the same color. That particular proof depended on the
existence of one single connecting circuit. In 1946, W. T.
Tutte published an example and proof that it is not always
possible to draw a single connecting circuit. An example
of that is shown in Figure 2.
My father had neglected to mention Tutte’s proof
because it didn’t matter. His proof did not depend on the
existence of a single circuit. Where a single circuit doesn’t
exist, as many closed circuits that are needed will do the
trick. The two circuits that I have drawn in Figure 2
illustrate that. Although I know my father’s proof to be
valid, I cannot recall details of it and suspect that his
rendering of that particular proof simply needs dressing up.
Although Tutte’s map will not support a single circuit
as the ones shown in Figure 1, his map can be colored with
four colors as I have shown in Figure 2. I also show that
two circuits will separate purple and white from orange and
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green. Furthermore, another set of circuits may be found to
separate purple and green from white and orange and a
third set of circuits for purple and orange from white and
green. This doesn’t prove that any map can be covered by
more than one circuit if needed to isolate pairs of colors. It
simply demonstrates what the proof that my father
preferred was about. If his original proof was not fatally
flawed but only incomplete, dressing it up should be a snap.
.
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Figure 2
Where a single circuit cannot be found,
more circuits may suffice
I favor my father’s second proof because I consider it
more elegant and to the point. That proof deals directly
with the way in which adjoining regions may share colors
and reasons that, since a hierarchy can be established where
no region must yield choice of color to more than three
adjoining regions, four colors suffice.
On the average, regions have fewer than six sides
(borders) shared with adjoining regions. (Recall Leonhard
Euler’s eighteenth century proof of the maximum count of
edges of faces of polyhedral.) There are fewer than three
borders per region since each of the six or less borders
belongs to two regions. A reasonable way to share colors,
therefore, is to require that each region subordinate its
choice of color to no more than three adjoining regions and
require that the remaining adjoining regions subordinate
their choice to it. All regions would then be treated equally
in accordance to that rule. Each region may be assigned a
color that is different from the colors of the three regions to
which it is subordinate since there are four colors from
which to choose.
That’s it – as simple as that: four colors suffice
because no region must yield choice of color to more than
three adjoining regions. No. That proof has not been
found to be acceptable. Why not? No explanation has
been forthcoming.
For those who don’t believe that it is sufficiently
obvious that the freedom of choice is available throughout
a map, consider the following: beginning with a single
region, any map may be created by dividing regions. On
dividing a region into two fractions, no more than three
borders are created. (There will be fewer borders created
when the dividing line terminates at an already existing
junction of three or more regions.) The new line dividing
the region is one, and one of the two border fractions of
each of the two borders divided by the termini of the new
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line are the other two. One or both of the two border
fractions could be considered as a border of either region
fraction. The newly drawn line is a border of both of the
region fractions. This provides the necessary flexibility for
apportioning color sharing hierarchy between the two new
regions such that neither must yield color choice to more
than three regions. This does affect the ultimate coloring of
exterior regions but need not affect the pecking order of
color choice of any exterior regions in any way. Thus,
beginning with a globe or planar surface, various regions
may be marked off sequentially as described. Each newly
created region would retain at least one free choice without
diminishing choices of exterior regions.
Surely the accessibility of the freedoms of choice is not
the problem. Our present scientific and mathematical
methods are simply not equipped to deal with such
problems. Analytical methods are unable to forecast where
the road that we are paving is taking us. We prefer neat
problems: cause and effect, logical analysis, linear models,
all of which tolerate only limited feedback or loose ends
where degrees of freedom are not fully appreciated.
Boltzmann’s statistical mechanics and Gibbs’ phase rule
depend on their inviolability. Buildings and bridges would
break or collapse if the designers neglected to pay attention
to the degrees of freedom’s unforgiving certainty.
The foregoing proof is not an algorithm for coloring a
map. Its purpose was to show that maps have sufficient
degrees of freedom that can be evenly distributed in such a
way that each region can be colored differently from
surrounding regions that have a prior claim of color.
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179
Figure 3
The diagrams might help you understand how geographic
regions fare when being split up into pieces: Say AR, AL
and NC had a prior choice of color; then MO, KY, VA, GA
and MS would yield the fourth choice to TN as indicated by
the arrows. After the first subdivision, west TN would yield
color choice to AR, MS and KY. After the second
subdivision, central TN would yield to west TN, KY and AL.
Each of the TN pieces would then be yielding to three or
less adjacent states or pieces, and none of the external
states are subjected to more restrictions than they
originally possessed.
If you wish to try your hand at coloring a map with
four colors, try it. It’s somewhat like filling in a Sudoku.
Then try out the following algorithm: construct a circuit
and fill in colors as I have done in Figures 1 and 2. To
draw the circuit, begin at any junction (where three borders
meet) and draw along borders through as many junctions as
you can, without backtracking, being careful to leave a path
for returning to the starting point. If you should find it
difficult to include all junctions in one circuit, more circuits
may be drawn, as I have in figure 2. Ideally, one circuit
will do, and that circuit will enshroud one pair of colors. If
two circuits are needed, both circuits will enshroud the
same pair, and conveniently, the second color pair will
surround the two circuits as they do in Figure 2.
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DETOUR
A writer needs to know its readers. But one essential
element for the survival of our species is the need to
preserve our diversity. Details are boring to some and
essential for others. So, a happy medium does not exist.
To sidestep this problem I have provided a detour for those
who would like to do some skipping.
You may skip to the second paragraph on page 213 and
miss only that which you could possibly already know.
Those of you who skip will probably eventually want
to double back to learn a little more regarding the visitor’s
theory of what creates gravitational pull beginning on page
197 or to page 191 to NEGLECTED TECHNOLOGY
which explains my enthusiasm regarding the perspective
provided by statistical mechanics.
The skipped pages tell the story and provide some
technical prerequisites and samples of physical
phenomenon for those technically challenged that scientists
and engineers may feel is unnecessary. Although the whole
idea is conceptually challenging, I might have succeeded in
making it readable and understandable by avoiding jargon
or too much theory. Equations are provided separately.
Incidentally, some of this is possibly the first
disclosure of a fatal problem with our present model of the
universe. This and other technical stuff have not been
subjected to peer review. I consider you, my readers, to be
my peers and expect you to critique my critique.
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THE VISITOR
Farming has always presented challenges that I
respect. My earliest recollection was ridicule that I had
received from siblings and the embarrassment for having
proudly completed a full row in which I had chopped out
the sorghum cane along with weeds but left standing the
healthier looking Johnson grass I thought was sorghum.
I don’t remember having successfully planted and
harvested any vegetables in our victory garden during
World War II. I do remember successfully raising about
100 chickens. At the time, I didn’t realize that there wasn’t
a market for live chickens in our suburban Atlanta
neighborhood. Our neighbor’s domestic servants who
might have known how to dress chickens were employed
elsewhere in the war effort which incidentally paid better. I
was stuck with 100 chickens that needed to be sold, and no
buyers. I tried wringing their necks. The wringing action
resembles cranking a T-Model Ford, after which the
chickens are tossed on the ground where they flop about
too long for a sensitive person to endure.
My wringing didn’t faze the chickens. After tossing
them down, they hopped up, fussed with cause and then
played hard to catch. The only thing that worked for me
was the hatchet and chopping block. I had to learn how to
dress chickens and did half of them. The rest of them made
decent laying hens. I learned something from that
experience, but temporarily lost a taste for eating chicken.
In my productive years, we always had gardens to
tend. My contribution was to operate the rototiller when
asked. The rototillers, as did many other motorized
implements, usually died of metal fatigue. Fatigue? I
disserve some credit. I was the one being pulled around by
those machines. Back then, I weighed 120 pounds.
I have planted many fruit trees. Only one sour cherry
tree and one pear tree produced anything significant before
dying. A friend gave us some raspberry plants which I
stuck in the ground to save them from drying out before our
gardeners could get to them. Those plants thrived in spite
of the neglect.
My most helpful mentor was a friend who not only set
a good example, gave valuable advice and encouraged me
in my consulting endeavors. He also had invented,
developed and manufactured a catalyst for hydrogenating
vegetable oil. His catalyst was used all over the world,
changing vegetable oil into oleomargarine and shortening.
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He was overly modest about that accomplishment, insisting
that his invention was all luck. I know otherwise.
His approach to gardening unintentionally rubbed off
on me. His neighbor complained that he would never
harvest and share his fruits or vegetables before they were
too ripe. He took profuse notes of the weather, ground
temperature, soil texture and mulch depth, and he measured
and weighed his plants and fruits on the vine through all
growing and ripening stages. My mentor had turned the
farming activity into a research project.
He built a small pea sheller which was probably a
prototype to evaluate improvements he had in mind. I
know where it’s stashed and that it is not presently in use. I
covet that particular pea sheller. I tried to grow field peas,
hoping that it would give me an excuse to ask for the
sheller, but deer got my peas before I had a chance.
After buying our farm, I transplanted some of the
raspberry plants that had thrived when neglected. They
don’t appreciate the attention they get here and are dying
out. Of the many fruit trees I’ve planted at the farm, only
two pear trees and one sour cherry are going to make it.
Besides those three trees, the only successful plantings I
have to my credit are blueberries and muscadines.
You might guess why I leave most of the farming up to
my children, grandchildren and their associates. My
farming productivity is more in line with my mentor’s. The
family must concentrate on the bottom line and cannot
afford to go off on cloud nine with me. So what I
originally had in mind is temporarily pushed aside in favor
of a few light chores which I can do, and to stand ready to
intercept strangers who drive in and look lost. This relieves
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the true farmers of time-consuming counterproductive
distractions.
The particular visitor which is of interest appeared
from nowhere. His car had a Georgia tag. He insisted that
I should remember him. I didn’t have a clue. He
remembered our rope swing at West Andrews and the root
beer business my brother and I had. He knew that we spent
half of the summer at Tate. His knowing all that didn’t
prove anything. He could have picked that up from many
sources. I immediately began looking for a way to escape –
to excuse myself without being rude. No. I had become
suspicious. That guy could have been dangerous. So it
wasn’t a question of being rude. He could mean trouble,
and I needed to find out what kind of trouble I should be
prepared for. He obviously knew too much about my past.
He knew that my brother and I had a secret way of
getting into a locked garage behind my grandmother’s
house. The access was through a hidden outside door
below the garage proper. From beneath the garage, we
pushed up floorboards and crawled up into space designed
for two cars, but crammed full of interesting stuff.
He knew that we had cancelled our canoe trip to the
Gulf after realizing that the rapids near Uncle Roger’s farm,
where we had been practicing our paddling skills, were
probably the only challenging rapids on the Chattahoochee.
That summer we had spent all of our free time on the farm
restoring the ruins of an old wooden canoe that we had
rescued from somewhere.
He also knew that I had tried to publish my father’s
proof of the four color problem, which I have resurrected
and included in this chapter.
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All of that information, just cited, could have been
obtained from family members or friends, but he knew
details – some that I had almost forgotten – that nobody
knew but my brother and I. This had me worried, and still
does.
Rather than answering direct questions, the guy
rambled on without taking a breath, on and on about what
he had experienced since his retirement as an engineer. He
wondered if I had similar experiences. Besides my usual
difficulty in keeping conversations on course, or maybe
because of it, I found that I shared some of those
experiences.
SHARED EXPERIENCES
“Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” A silly
question for whom? We could be contemplating the
profound miracle of the egg or something worth worrying
about. If the hatchery chick turns out to be a rooster, and
survives beyond the broiler and fryer age, he may serve as
an alarm clock and become a formidable protector of and
bully of the poultry yard. If, instead, the chick turns out to
be a hen, when the time comes, she will find a suitable
place where she will make a nest into which she will begin
depositing eggs. Usually she will lay one egg a day until
she has accumulated all that she can manage. Then she will
incubate them by keeping them at the right temperature and
carefully turning them at prescribed intervals. Presto! All
of the eggs may hatch on the same day. This is miraculous
enough. But then the hen somehow knows how a mother
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hen looks after her chicks without having been raised by a
mother hen or schooled on the subject. She sees that her
chicks are kept warm by her body heat during the first few
days. She talks to her chicks constantly. When there’s
danger, she calls them and provides shelter by spreading
her wings and her chicks know to climb under and hush up.
The hen that intuitively knew everything a hen needs
to know could have been an egg incubated by the farmer or
in a hatchery and may never have known her mother hen or
any other chicken except for that bully rooster that fathered
her chicks. So how does she know how to incubate and
raise her chicks? The material within the eggshell has
encoded instructions for forming and assembling all body
parts. Information and instructions that nature is able to
follow – better information and instructions than that
supplied by, say, Microsoft.
A spider attaches the filament it spins to a leaf and
lowers the leaf into the space in a walkway below. A
breeze catches the leaf and carries it to a tree branch on the
opposite side of the walk. It sticks, thus making it possible
for the spider to bridge the walkway with its web. One
wonders how the spider learned that trick. A trick that is
no less complicated than that of putting a rock or stick to
use as a tool. And we consider that when our ancestor
discovered how to use rocks and sticks as tools, it was a
huge step forward for mankind.
Such things are simply explained as instinct. The
physical science that my visitor and I had used to design
machines, structures, and processes were elementary and
simple in comparison to that which goes on in nature.
What nature does in comparison is incomprehensibly
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complex. The natural sciences are just beginning to scratch
the surface by mapping the genome of some species and
correlating molecular arrangements and patterns with a few
traits and functions that they determine in mature creatures.
We know that the chick’s body parts miraculously begin
developing from the material in the yoke and the
surrounding egg white, completely isolated within the
eggshell. We know that it happens, but understand it no
better than we understand the miracle that took place in the
valley of dry bones:
“…there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and
the bones came together, bone to his bone…lo, the
sinews and the flesh came up upon them and skin
covered them… ” EZEKIEL 37:7, 8
We don’t have an inkling of how the knowledge of the
procedure for incubating an egg and raising a brood of
chickens could be stored in the fluid mass inside an egg.
How a sequence of atoms or molecules could store
instructions in a way that can be retained during the
incubation, hatching and maturing processes and be
accessed later and transcended into something akin to
knowledge that the hen would be capable of using to
incubate and raise her chicks is simply inexplicable.
Tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon
on the oceans. If that’s what the teacher or textbook says,
you had better answer, true. For those interested, there are
two tidal forces. Gravity pulls the oceans toward their
combined center of gravity while inertia slings the oceans
away on the opposite side. There’s more to it than that, as
we shall see. The point is that the more one knows about
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the subject increases the chance of giving the wrong answer
for true or false questions. Reality and truth is difficult to
pin down.
Whirlpools and standing waves fascinated to him. He
understood the destructive forces that moving fluids can
present and what precautions must be taken against that
threat in his designs. But he wasn’t prepared for the
spectacular vortex formed the first time that he drained his
farm pond. The formula he ordinarily uses for the flow of
water through an orifice doesn’t work. The outflowing
water began to spin fast enough to create a cyclone that
reached from the pond’s surface down several feet to the
drain at the bottom. He knew the physics -- angular
momentum -- which explains why an ice skater’s rotational
speed accelerates as she draws in her limbs. All ponds
have angular momentum and energy due to the earth’s
motion. The outflowing water must carry that angular
momentum through the drain opening as it leaves the pond.
To do so, it must spin pretty fast. The visitor said that he
had not given the importance of vortexes in nature much
thought before draining that pond. (I doubt that.)
On his farm, he also recognized other ways nature
stored energy that were not obvious to a casual observer.
Rapidly running water can create standing waves. While
the water in these waves is moving rapidly, the wave shape
is stationary. These waves occur when moving water slows
down, say, when a small stream reaches a pond. One
would think that on reaching the pond the moving water
would simply blend in with the calm water. But that
doesn’t happen. Instead, before that can happen, the
moving water must dissipate its kinetic energy. This
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energy forms standing waves which dissipate by breaking
up into ripples and eddies – often destructive, scouring
eddies. Only after retiring did he begin to fully appreciate
the many ways that nature has for storing energy, and how
important that is.
The stranger said that when stretching out in his
hammock for his midday siesta, he doesn’t want it to
swing. He tries to avoid movement that would cause the
hammock to swing, but slips up occasionally. When that
happens, he tries to stop the swinging by reversing the
motion that started the swinging. That doesn’t work.
Why? The same phenomenon happens when carrying a
pail of milk. If you are not careful, it will slosh and make a
mess. That’s why the cat is following so closely. There is
no way to stop the sloshing by reversing the motion that
started it. You must put the pail down and wait for the
sloshing to die on its own.
Things in nature simply like to swing, slosh and
vibrate. That’s because these motions are frequently the
easiest way that objects can absorb and store energy. The
trouble with stopping the swinging or sloshing is that there
is not an easy way for the objects to give the energy back or
pass it on. In the case of the hammock, the swinging
hammock can’t return to the person the energy expended
by that person in his moving. So, it’s limited to expending
the energy on friction or passing it on to the two trees that
must pass it on by fanning the air. And that takes time.
Neither can the pail of milk return the energy back to the
hand that had started it sloshing. The pail of milk can only
expend that extra energy by the friction of sloshing, which
takes time.
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When the wind blows across the water, it creates
waves. Wave crests have potential energy and valleys have
kinetic energy. Ignoring that oversimplification, one might
try to calculate how nature changes the linear velocity of air
into water waves the hard way by applying classical
mechanics, but the engineer wouldn’t try. Energy flows are
best determined by statistical mechanics. Our neighbor’s
basketball would always end up in our yard – knowing how
it got there was not important – knowing that our yard is
below theirs is sufficient. If a houseguest had not returned
from his hike when expected, he could be found at Homer
Wright’s place because Homer’s house is downhill. No
need to know what torturous path he had taken. Water
flows downhill and so do people when they are lost and
tired.
Classical mechanics suggests that if the location and
velocity or momentum vectors of everything were known,
future locations and velocities could theoretically be
calculated. But knowing the probable outcome saves a lot
of time and is frequently more accurate than a dead
reckoning approach. In fact, statistical mechanics is a
powerful tool for solving many problems that currently
cannot be solved by other means.
Albert Einstein’s immediate reaction to Werner
Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle was to the effect: “God
doesn’t throw dice.” Others welcomed the principle
because it resolved the question of whether classical
mechanics implies that everything in the future is
predestined by antecedent conditions. Actually, that
philosophical question had already been answered earlier
by Ludwig Boltzmann. Boltzmann developed statistical
190
mechanics and applied it to the kinetic theory of gasses.
While in Heisenberg’s quantum mechanics, the dice throw
makes a significant difference to individual microscopic
particles, Boltzmann’s statistical mechanics actually
predetermines the future accurately for macroscopic
relationships. God may still have his way and throw dice.
My visitor was rambling. He apparently thought that
his exaggerated post-retirement experiences were a
necessary background for what he intended to lay on me. I
have reported what I could remember because that
background could help you follow the interesting theory
that got my attention.
NEGLECTED TECHNOLOGY
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Statistical mechanics is a seriously neglected technical
tool. It’s a shame. Its value is that it offers the most
appropriate tool we have for solving many technical
problems. The extraordinary power of the tool can be seen
from the role that it played in the most important technical
development in the twentieth century.
Yale professor Josiah Willard Gibbs further developed
Boltzmann’s statistical mechanics and kinetic theory of
gasses to where it defines chemical equilibrium and
physical chemical properties of molecules, ions and atoms.
German industrial chemist Fritz Haber applied that
technology in the development of a revolutionary chemical
process for the synthesis of ammonia for which he received
the 1918 Nobel Prize in chemistry. That process is feeding
the world today. Millions of lives are dependent on
increased harvests of the food facilitated by nitrogen
fertilizer produced by his process. No other technical
development, ever, has so favorably impacted so many
people in the world. Yet we have a love-hate problem with
Haber. The hate was so unbearable that his technological
contribution was hardly mentioned in technical reviews or
documentaries that celebrated technological
accomplishments at the turn of the millennium. His
synthetic nitrogen fixation process had enabled Germany to
produce explosive ammunition for waging World War I
and his chemical plants had produced chlorine gas which
Germany used to terrorize us and our allies in that war.
Our love-hate problem aside, Haber understood and
developed the conceptually difficult and not so glamorous
technology which most of the scientific community was
skeptical of. He demonstrated its fantastic power. How
could one make any sense out of a statistical analysis of
randomly moving, spinning, vibrating and flexing of atoms
and molecules? No wonder there was skepticism.
That technology that many had, and still do consider
counterintuitive and a simplistic idea, is definitely hard to
believe in and is conceptually difficult to follow. My
visitor said he had trouble with the subject as he supposed I
did in engineering school and that he survived the course
only because he was no dumber than others in his class.
His competence was in his ability of correctly using
equations that he did not fully understand in solving
homework and test problems. The ineptitude that I felt in
the subject bothered me too, to such an extent that I even
stooped to review the course material on my own during
the following work quarter. And that didn’t help much.
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Later, on the job, I had several occasions to apply
statistical mechanics. For example, before our troubled
space program had caught up with the Russians and their
Sputnik successes, there arose a need to calculate the flame
temperature and specific impulse of a candidate exotic fuel
that my employer considered developing for our space
program. To do this, I had to work out all the various
possible energy, heat capacity and entropy levels of the
candidate fuel radicals, ions and molecules, and
combustion products from available spectrographic data,
atomic and molecular bond strengths and bond angles
employing statistical mechanical methods. I obtained the
information by faithfully following procedures as I had
done in the undergraduate course. Later, comparing results
with others attending an American Rocket Society meeting
in Louisville, Kentucky, I learned that very few, if any, of
those who were actively applying statistical mechanics in
solving rocket engine performance problems had a better
understanding than I.
Determining the heat capacity, entropy and other
physical chemical properties from atomic configuration and
available spectrographic data which I managed to
accomplish was a serious achievement, especially for me
when I was still having trouble with basic concepts.
One would think that a farmer would have more to do
than siesta in his hammock and contemplate the universe.
But the visitor said that he felt that he had paid his dues and
that the chickens and brambles ought to look out for
themselves. If he were like me, that’s what he would like
others to believe, but actually that hammock was a luxury
that true farmers would have liked to be able to take
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advantage of. Instead, our time for free thinking is
essentially limited to when we are driving a tractor or doing
other chores that don’t demand serious concentration.
The wonderment -- which he claims to have
experienced since his retirement -- of the chicken and egg,
the spectacular vortex, the swinging hammock, the sloshing
milk and standing waves somehow inspired him to forget
his uncomfortable recollection of his difficulty with the
basic concept of statistical mechanics and embrace it as an
interesting problem to solve -- a fresh challenge that
captured his attention. Before his reawakened awareness,
he had seriously underestimated the unimaginable and
profound intricacies of the world. The world that he
thought he knew had become more interesting after so
many years solving technical and managerial problems.
In explaining chaos, some popular texts list the melting
point of ice as being chaotic because its melting point could
not be anticipated from physical changes in ice as it is
heated. The science that scientists and philosophers
thought should be able to predict the future from antecedent
conditions simply does not always work. In this case,
chaos exists only from that narrow viewpoint. Statistical
mechanics, however, provides the correct simple answer.
Ice melts at the temperature at which its chemical reactivity
and its vapor pressure are equal to the chemical reactivity
and vapor pressure of water. All of which can be
calculated using Gibbs’ equations and the thermodynamic
properties of H2O.
Ice and water at 32oF are in equilibrium with each
other, have the same vapor pressure and will react
chemically the same; yet liquid water has more energy.
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The latent heat of fusion of ice is thermal energy, expressed
thermodynamically as the product of the absolute
temperature and entropy. I knew that. But how does it
conceptually fit in with the Carnot engine? Or with his
neighbor’s basketball ending up in his yard? Or lost
houseguests always ending up at Homer Wright’s place?
The latent heat of melting the ice has nothing to do
with the chemical properties of H2O, so it makes sense to
discount that energy when comparing the energies of ice
and water to obtain their chemical reactivity. That’s what
the negative product of absolute temperature and entropy
term does in the statistical mechanical equation defining
Gibbs’ free energy. It deducts the portion of energy that
has nothing to do with the reactivity of the chemical. Ice
can absorb energy without changing its reactivity, making
melting ice an energy sink at 32oF. Entropy is a sink for
thermal energy. The Carnot engine depends on a thermal
energy sink. The swinging hammock won’t quit swinging
and the milk won’t stop sloshing without there being an
energy sink of some kind. That tends to explain the
connection between the melting ice, Carnot engine,
swinging hammock and statistical analysis of randomly
moving, vibrating, spinning and flexing molecules and
atoms that he was looking for. Well, at least it helps.
The basic concept which we were looking for was the
need for and function of energy sinks. Work can’t be
extracted from all of the thermal energy that surrounds us
all the time, even on hot summer days, without there being
a thermal sink, a lower temperature (a sink) into which we
can dispose of waste heat from a heat operated engine. A
lower ocean level (a sink) into which water from a water
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wheel can flow. A space below the cuckoo clock (a sink)
where weights can hang. Energy sinks are just as important
as energy if you want to get work done.
The ultimate sink on earth is thermal. Entropy will
limit the efficiency of our operations. Conceptually, the
ocean level and the floor below the cuckoo clock better
serves us than entropy in our understanding. But the
principal is the same. Thomas Jefferson defied that law,
however, by sawing a hole in the floor beneath his clock at
Monticello so that the weights could hang in the basement.
The point is, if you want to have something happen, there
must be a difference in energy levels – a place for the spent
energy to go.
Ground level and sea level limits the amount of
gravitational potential energy that can be converted to work
from any massive objects above these datum planes. Those
limits are equivalent to ambient temperature that limits
work that can be obtained from a heat source.
Navigators know that one should only go so far using
maps and dead reckoning before needing to update their
bearings. My visitor reminded me of what Thomas Kuhn
concluded regarding scientific advancements. The
scientific use of models and projecting antecedent
conditions initially proved to be a very powerful scientific
tool through the nineteenth century. Now, however, might
be the time to take a fresh bearing. One might think that
Einstein’s relativity and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle
would have changed things. But Hubble’s discovery seems
to have renewed interest in the modeling and dead
reckoning approach – reversing the clock – the
extrapolation of the present perceived expansion back to
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the Big Bang. Predetermined essence, which Boltzmann
and Gibbs’ approach provides, is realistic and provides
scientific answers from a better perspective.
BRIDGING WORLDS
An enormous amount of solar radiation powers our
planet. And it’s all free. A small portion creates all of the
food for all living creatures via photosynthesis. That small
portion of energy is sufficient for every bit of vegetation
and food grown. Another small portion of solar energy
evaporates water that makes the clouds that bring the rains
that water our vegetation and fills the lakes and rivers. Still
another small portion of solar energy joins the tides, clouds
and earth’s rotation to stir up winds and ocean currents. All
of that energy plus a much larger portion that is not needed
or saved is continuously radiated back into outer space to
balance our global temperature.
Conservation laws and statistical mechanics now
satisfy the visitor’s curiosity regarding the relationship
between what powers our planet, the orbit of the earth
around the sun, the moon around the earth, the swinging
hammock, sloshing milk, waves and vortexes. But he sees
a need to check bearings on our current dead reckoning
model that includes the rest of the universe. Potential and
nuclear energy become more significant out there –
potential energy in the coalescence of atoms, molecules and
radicals in outer space – nuclear and gravitational binding
energy in the stars as they become massive. These and
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radiant, mass and nuclear energies should be conceptually
compatible with what we can measure here on earth.
He said he felt obliged to update our bearings in outer
space. Intuitively, the best place to begin this inquiry was
with the coalescence of atoms, radicals and their
constituents in empty space. After considering general
relativity to explain what part gravity and space curvature
plays, he concluded that a three-dimensional rectilinear
system was more appropriate for evaluating the first stages
of the coalescing process because that’s the way things
might shape up out there beyond the reach of significant
mass concentrations. Both quantum mechanics and a threedimensional rectilinear system are appropriate.
Schrödinger’s wave equation is a fundamental postulate of
quantum mechanics and is applicable in rectilinear space.
That equation includes a partial differential quotient of the
wave function and involves Planck’s constant, the
Laplacean operator, the object’s mass, and the potential in
which any object resides. He never explained his reason
for selecting that particular equation. My guess is that his
reason for that choice was simply his proficiency in
plugging values into equations to get answers.
Beginning with an object at rest in rectilinear space (in
the classical sense) so that its energy does not change with
time and so the wave function can be isolated into separate
space and time functions, and stipulating that the space
potential, created by a source at the origin, does not change
so that he could treat the kinetic and potential energy
variables as constants, had allowed him to isolate space and
time variables whose quotient would be the velocity of the
wave packet. Whew! His computation shows that the
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wave packet that defines the object’s location is moving.
He never explained why he was after the object’s velocity
having stipulated that the object was at rest
The packet velocity decreases with the distance
between the object and the origin and is in proportion to the
product of the mass of the object and source that causes the
potential. This relationship suggests free fall of an
unrestricted object in a gravitational field; whereas, the
visitor had stipulated that the object be at rest. The object
must be moving relative to something else. Something
must move, and the medium of Schrödinger’s wave is the
only viable candidate. His calculations show that the wave
medium would be decelerating as it progresses radially
from massive bodies that define the gravitational force.
That deceleration causes the gravitational force. The
relationship, constant and all, are identical to that which
Newton established years ago from empirical data.
The medium of Schrödinger’s wave would not have
material form, weight or energy. It would be a virtual
reference, equivalent to Maxwell’s ether, which he found
useful in facilitating his inquiry in the same way that the
ether served Maxwell in propounding his successful
electromagnetic theory. Incidentally, Einstein pointed out
that Maxwell’s ether served no purpose, therefore, it did
not exist. Possibly, the virtual reference of Schrödinger’s
wave might also be proved unessential. But until then, my
visitor insisted on taking advantage of the insight that it
provides. Besides, Schrödinger’s wave packet needs that
reference against which we can measure velocity.
In subsequent computations, the visitor realized that
the motion of the virtual reference of Schrödinger’s wave
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equation not only provided a novel explanation of
gravitational force, it also bridged a connection between
modern concepts of the atom and classical theory, fulfills
Mach’s connection between all massive objects in the
universe, suggests alternative explanations for cosmic and
gravitational red shift and many relativistic distortions of
space and time. One would wonder how computations
based on Schrödinger’s equation, which doesn’t account for
special relativity effects, could possibly duplicate answers
originally derived from Einstein’s computations.
The thought experiments in which Einstein applied the
principle of equivalence were successful, not because the
imagined laboratory duplicated a gravitational field, but to
show that gravitational mass and inertial mass are
equivalent. Einstein’s imaginary laboratory and his
observer moved as a unit -- upward and accelerating or
downward and decelerating to duplicate the gravitational
sensation. The laboratory and observer were that which
were moving. (In Einstein’s day, elevators carrying people
accelerated up and down in a jerky way that made that
equivalence more noticeable.) In contrast, a continuous,
steady movement of the visitor’s virtual reference through
the laboratory is what he attributes gravitational force. This
does not require movement of the laboratory or the subject.
The virtual reference moves upward through a stationary
laboratory in which the observer is standing. It moves
faster at the observer’s feet than at his head.
Mathematically this deceleration would be expected to
cause gravitational pull on the observer.
Observed from a distance, the wavelength of emissions
from excited atoms on massive bodies is increased. The
200
increase is a Doppler shift that is caused by a difference of
velocity of Schrödinger’s wave media at the light source
versus that of the observer. My visitor’s computed
gravitational red shift is identical to Einstein’s which has
been verified experimentally.
Gravitational red shift distorts linear measurement and
time since those dimensions correspond to the wavelength
and interval of vibration of light emissions. Red shift can
even stop time and hide objects beyond red shift horizons.
Gravitational red shift, however, causes discrepancies only
when performers and audiences don’t share the same clock
and ruler, an option that is not available to observers of
Mercury’s orbit or of the deflection of light rays that pass
close to the sun. These measurements depend on the
background of fixed stars with which we cannot share
measuring devices. In those cases, minuscule but
measurable discrepancies occur that were not anticipated
by Newton. Using Kepler’s and Newton’s familiar
equation for the motion of planets around the sun, corrected
for gravitational virtual medium movement distortions, the
visitor calculated that light grazing the sun would be
deflected 1.75 seconds of an arc and that Mercury’s
perihelion precession to be 43 seconds of an arc per
century. Both the deflection and the orbit perturbations are
in agreement with Einstein’s predictions and are consistent
with empirical observations.
By selecting a location in remote space for his origin
and calculating the total mass included in concentric
spheres containing the critical density of the universe, the
visitor had determined that the velocity of the medium of
Schrödinger’s wave varies with the distance from the origin
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and accounts for all the cosmic red shift that has been
attributed to the expansion of the universe. That would
mean that the universe is not expanding and that there had
been no Big Bang that our dead reckoning extrapolations
had suggested. If so, we definitely need to check our
bearings. The first thing to look for is definitive evidence,
other than Hubble’s red shift observations, that would
substantiate the expansion.
The visitor is not waiting for that evidence. If the
universe is not expanding, there was not a Big Bang and we
have no idea of how old the universe is. Something is
keeping it going. He’s confident that statistical mechanics
is dependable and can be counted on for the answers we are
looking for. A durable living universe must have a source
of energy and an energy sink. In his mind there are
excellent candidates for both that would make a perpetual
universe viable.
Stephen Hawking defines a black hole as “a region of
space-time from which nothing, not even light, can escape,
because gravity is so strong.” The point of no return is the
event horizon. The Schwarzschild radius defines the event
horizon of non-rotating black holes as a region in which
photons would be perpetually trapped in great circle
geodesics. Another view is that time stands still there. Still
another view is that the binding energy of particles on the
event horizon equals their mass (energy) and stands ready
to sap away the energy of an escaping photon. All agree
that gravitational red shift blackens out all light emissions
from on and beyond the event horizon. No question about
it -- black holes are a perfect potential energy sink.
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That potential energy – work done by gravity in
coalescing matter – is what powers the universe. We’ve
identified the sink. Now all we need is a plausible source
of the matter to be coalesced to make the paradigm viable.
Whoa. Wait. I have a question.
I wasn’t quite as sure as my visitor that the black holes
are perfect gravitational sinks. Admittedly, black holes
eliminate the gravitational floor that would otherwise limit
the availability of gravitational potential for work in the
same way that temperature-entropy floors limit the
efficiency of heat engines. But if gravitational force is
what creates sufficient binding energy to dispose of the
surrendered mass, it does so at its own expense. Both are
consumed in the process. We know this because mass is
lost when two hydrogen molecules are combined to make
one helium atom. If the binding energy is equal to the mass
energy, then the two would cancel, leaving nothing. How
could that nothing create and sustain a black hole?
He was ready for my objection. The black hole is
empty – a hollow sphere. In its center is the center of
gravity of the surrounding approaching matter – sufficient
mass to create the event horizon. Energy is conserved. It is
blown off in the same way that hydrogen fusion lets go of
its energy. The mass of objects approaching black holes
would be depleted before the objects reach the event
horizons. Before reaching the event horizon, all that mass
would have been shed so that nothing sails into the black
holes that would upset the mass, energy balance of our
visible universe.
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The following mathematical notations are what I was
able to reconstruct from notes that he provided and what I
remembered. I had made some notes of my own after he
left and I realized the significance of what had just taken
place. I also checked some references. Don’t count on
everything being in agreement.
204
EHEREAL STUFF
He hardly gave me time to digest the visitor’s to my
question regarding black holes, which I considered serious.
The waste that was not consumed in the black holes must
be refurbished and become the coalescing mass that powers
the universe. This was all we needed to complete the cycle.
Complete the cycle? I thought that modern science had
long since given up on alchemy and the possibility of
achieving perpetual motion.
Now all we need is a plausible way of converting the
stuff vacuumed up but not consumed by black holes into an
energy-mass form that refurbishes the gravitational
potential energy that powers the universe.
My visitor considered this step to be as easy to explain
as his swinging hammock, the reason that guests always
end up at Homer Wright’s and how the wind creates waves
on the lake. He reminded me that taking the dead
reckoning approach is frequently unnecessarily involved
and accumulates error. It’s simple. It boils down to this:
we know that all matter in the universe is being pulled
toward massive objects and ultimately toward black holes.
In the process, as gravitational potential is depleted, mass is
lost. Details of the torturous path are unimportant.
Ultimately, all matter is converted to radiant energy. We
cannot see the black holes but we can see or detect the
radiation from energy surrendered by black hole trappings.
That radiant energy impinging on the vacuum of outer
space replenishes the mass, thereby restoring the
gravitational potential that powers the universe. Hubble’s
red shift indicates that something is draining off that radiant
205
energy in outer space and that energy must be doing
something worthwhile. Moreover, it’s reasonable to
assume that neutrinos, virtual reference media and other
stuff also take part in whatever the electromagnetic
radiation is doing out there.
Paul Dirac postulated that the vacuum is filled with
electrons of negative mass that cannot be detected and that
a ray of sufficient energy impinging on the vacuum would
cause an electron to pop out, leaving a detectable positron.
Richard Feynman’s successful quantum electrodynamics
postulated the vacuum is a soup that writhes with photons
and virtual particles that transmit forces. Edward Tryon
conjectured, “Maybe the universe is a vacuum fluctuation.”
Paul Dirac’s, Richard Feynman’s and Edward Tryon’s
theories, notwithstanding, the visitor had rather liken
what’s happening out in the cosmos to a wind blowing
across water and making waves. There are many familiar
instances where energy is transferred from one energy form
and medium to another. Linear kinetic energy of air readily
morphs into energy manifested in oscillating water. Linear
kinetic energy of water readily makes standing waves. A
shifting weight should be expected to start the hammock
swinging. A careless movement naturally sloshes the milk.
Linear motion, mechanical, chemical and electrical
potential, waves, vibrations, heat, vortexes, orbital motion,
radiation, mass, and more, all take part in the game. The
many real life ways that nature stores energy are definitely
more interesting and impressive than things that only show
up on, say, a cyclotron target. It is easy for energy to be
passed around and there exists a tremendous variety of
206
ways in which nature saves and stores energy which it must
do in order to keep things in balance.
In his mind, electromagnetic radiation, neutrinos or
whatever impinging on empty space, creating the stuff that
coalesces and provides gravitational potential that powers
the universe is comparable to wind blowing across the
water causing waves.
Paul Dirac predicted the existence of the positron
having concluded that radiation impinging on the vacuum
would cause an electron to pop out and leave a hole where
an electron formally existed. Theoretically, the cavity left
by the electron would behave as though it were an electron
with a positive charge. (Under water, one does not see the
water, but can see bubbles. Paul Dirac’s hole in the
vacuum is analogous to the bubble.) It would be a positron
– an antiparticle that would annihilate any electron with
which it might come in contact.
Consider a still pond. Let the surface be the datum
plane for potential energy. The pond would then be full of
negative energy. When wind blows across the surface, the
water will begin to move, motion being one way in which
water might store energy. If the wind is sustained long
enough and sufficient energy is put into the pond, its
surface will break into waves. Upward displacements will
balance downward displacements. The valleys may be said
to attract crests. Crests repel crests and valleys repel
valleys. Although wave valleys are not endowed with the
mass of crests, a physicist might notice that wave valleys
have the same inertia as wave crests, and could warrant a
formula for a force repelling like phases and attracting
unlike phases.
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Surface waves in a pond are somewhat analogous to
Dirac’s electrons and positrons in a vacuum. One might
even say that the pond is filled with waves of negative
potential energy: that adding sufficient energy can cause a
wave (a crest) to pop out above the energy datum plane,
leaving a hole (a valley) that exhibits the same inertial
properties as the crest, attracts crests and is capable of
annihilating them. Though they may exist in some
metaphysical sense, our visitor felt that it would be foolish
to look for waves of negative energy beneath the pond
surface. He insisted that neither positive nor negative
waves exist if the water is still.
Schrödinger’s probability waves and the need to
explain their role had grabbed our visitor’s attention. He
postulated that the wave medium is a virtual incompressible
fluid without bounds. Incompressible, because there’s
nothing against which distortions could be measured. He
further postulated that it behaves as a fluid of zero density
and exhibiting no resistance to motion. The absence of
resistance to motion implies that any motion would
continue indefinitely. The perpetuity of motion suggests
inertia corresponding to Newton’s momentum. This
property in space-time has all the makings for constructing
our universe.
In the nineteenth century, Hermann L. F. von
Helmholtz pointed out the very remarkable properties of
rotational motion in a homogeneous incompressible fluid
devoid of all viscosity. His primitive fluid had the same
properties that our visitor set for his virtual reference and
the method by which Helmholtz established its possible
motion was pure mathematical analysis. By this method,
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Helmholtz developed an idea of vortex tubes and vortex
rings which he found to be permanent entities that have
capacity for internal motion and vibration.
Helmholtz’s vortex rings are like smoke rings, but are
permanent entities that have capacity for internal motion
and vibration. They make perfect standing waves. They
could be constructed of Maxwell’s ether or the virtual
medium of Schrödinger’s probability waves. Neither
medium have mass. If the rings were created by the
impingement of radiation on the vacuum of outer space,
their resulting mass is simply the energy required to create
them.
Sir William Thomson, known to us as Lord Kelvin,
imagined the vortex rings of Helmholtz as the true form of
the atom. The theory failed because vortex rings could not
account for electrically charged particles and because
Einstein had censored Maxwell’s ether.
We know that the radiation is producing something
because radiation energy out in the cosmos is being
consumed as indicated by red shift. The Helmholtz vortex
ring is especially interesting because it could play a role in
serving to convert all the missing radiant energy into mass.
That something doesn’t necessarily have to be Helmholtz’s
vortex ring, it could be some other standing wave produced
by the impinging radiation on whatever. What we do know
is that whatever is created is sufficiently stable, consisting
of only weightless stuff in the vacuum that had picked up
energy (mass) from impinging radiation from luminous
stars and energy shed by stuff vacuumed up by black holes.
My visitor identified the entity so created as a neutron.
It has a half life of 12.8 minutes. It morphs into a proton
209
and electron pair which is stable. The stability of that pair
suggests that that pair must remain connected somehow.
He suggested that the connection could be a standing wave
that can change length and number of nodes to
accommodate energy exchanges by altering the separation
distance between pair members. According to him, the
connection is essential for several reasons. It must
contribute to the stability of the pair over that of the
neutron. Otherwise the pair wouldn’t exist. In addition, it
establishes positions for the electron relative to the proton
corresponding to energy of characteristic spectrum lines
That seems simple enough. Maybe too simple.
Radiation returned to outer space from stars, galaxies, and
black holes swirls and creates eddies in the virtual
reference medium or whatever. These swirls and eddies
undoubtedly form stable entities – somewhat like the
Helmholtz vortex rings. We know that this must happen
because of the disappearance of the energy in accordance
with the cosmological red shift that can no longer be
attributed to the expansion of the universe.
The connecting wave which must be made of the same
stuff thrown off as a byproduct of the neutron decay is
important because it stabilizes the eddies into more
permanent entities.
Yes. I was almost persuaded. But he hadn’t explained
how his electron and proton interacted with each other or
other matter. That omission was intended. The
impingement of radiation on the vacuum could create
quarks, electrons, strings and other entities directly. But
the visitor felt that he needn’t get into that for several
reasons. In the first place, how we get to the hydrogen
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atom is not important. This atom, gravitational pull and
black hole sinks are all that’s needed to power the universe
and keep things going. There’s no need to throw in
distracting details, especially when many of those details
are speculative. Furthermore, he liked the blowing wind
making waves analogy. Water waves are connected in
innumerable ways that permit countless feedback that
mimics our experience regarding the nature of things.
One might use sufficient orthogonal dimensions to
build a tolerable model, but why? The waves that exist are
there and are proof of their own existence. Water waves
are simple and beautiful, but the mechanics of getting there
is hardly less complicated. Their behavior is considered
chaotic because we don’t have a way of considering all
possible feedbacks or of knowing all the cause and effect
relationships. There is no reason that we should expect the
action of the ether and subatomic particles to be any less
complicated.
QUESTIONS
I realized his rambling was leading to something he
was anxious to unload. I agree that statistical mechanics is
seriously underrated and I agree that the predetermined
essence that statistical mechanics provides is a vital
perspective from which to begin most scientific
investigations. But he missed the underlying principle. It
was well known before Boltzmann that all caloric heat
could not be converted into useful work. Boltzmann’s
statistical mechanics simply identifies that which limits
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thermal energy’s availability to do work is a condition of
maximum microscopic disorder. This, incidentally, was
not adequately explained by textbooks available to me. My
conceptual difficulty was not that anyway; it was in getting
from that underlying principle to Gibbs’ equations. There
is, however, definitely more to statistical mechanics than
the man realizes. I will get to that later.
I didn’t begin paying much attention to what my
uninvited guest was saying until it occurred to me that he
might actually have a viable explanation of gravitational
force which could also be the answer to the long sought
bridge between Einstein’s and Heisenberg’s worlds.
Before then, I had been preoccupied with the immediate
problem that his presence presented. His discovery could
have been the result of an unintentional trick that science
sometimes plays. A term in Schrödinger’s equation
probably contains an embedded gravitational term that
resulted in the answer that he managed to wring out of it.
Using Schrödinger’s equation to come up with
Newton’s gravitational relationship doesn’t necessarily
explain what causes gravitational pull any better than
Newton’s equation explains the force. Newton’s equation
quantifies that force but does not provide the mechanism.
Likewise, the movement of the visitor’s virtual medium
may not cause gravitational pull. Or could it?
I’m not sure I can answer that question. Does it matter
if the virtual medium movement doesn’t do what the visitor
thinks it does? I don’t think so. Einstein had pointed out
that Maxwell’s use of ether in developing his equations was
unnecessary and that ether does not exist. But we still
honor Maxwell’s equations and electromagnetic theory.
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If nothing else, the visitor identified a connection
between gravitational red shift and Hubble’s red shift
which had been overlooked by Einstein and others. That
important overlooked relationship doesn’t depend on the
medium movement that the visitor had derived from
Schrödinger’s wave equation. This means that even if his
theory is wrong, he offered convincing evidence that does
not depend on his theory in any way, that gravitational red
shift accounts for all of the red shift that Hubble reported.
We must now face the fact that Hubble’s red shift is not
attributable to Doppler Effect and that the universe is not
expanding. Furthermore, the universe was not created by a
Big Bang. This leaves only fossils with which scientists
can bait diehard creationists.
I’m not a revisionist. I was relying on what I
remember from seventy years ago. At the time, my science
and math teachers weren’t much help beyond high school
algebra and available text books that were many years
behind the time.
Actually, the expansion of the universe was already a
scientific consensus. Hubble determined its expansion rate.
Einstein modified his model of the universe based on
general relativity which initially was not expanding to
make it compatible with the consensus.
Initially, I had questioned the result of his calculations,
wondering why gravitational red shift isn’t canceled out in
the same way that gravitational forces are. Both
gravitational pull and red shift still exist. Opposing
gravitational space vectors, however, do cancel while
gravitational red shift, not being a vector, doesn’t; it is a
simple scalar. That resolves my initial concern.
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Wait a minute. That was too easy. It’s not quite
obvious that gravitational red shift is a scalar. It’s certainly
not a vector. The object is observed from a location with
balanced gravitational forces, whereas it is located at the
center of gravity in a sphere of a radius equal to the
distance between the object and observer. That’s enough to
satisfy me, but I’m neither a mathematician nor a scientist,
simply an engineer who applies those tools. I’m inclined to
think that the fact that gravitational red shift explains all of
the Hubble’s red shift is more than a coincidence, and I am
influenced by that fact. Furthermore, the visitor’s
gravitational theory that ties in quanta mechanics provides
a mechanism for the effect.
The observation that the universe is not expanding is
reason enough for scientists to consider a fresh approach
that would clarify what is really going on in the universe or
to dream up a more plausible, fresh paradigm. The fact that
the conclusion that the universe is not expanding doesn’t
depend on the visitor’s theory is important to me and
should be to others who are hesitant to accept his
conclusions regarding medium movement. I doubt that the
visitor realized that this one particular calculated
relationship does not depend on his theory regarding
gravitational force, and that it could and should have been
deduced by Einstein or others from information that was
available to them some ninety years ago.
I’m not qualified for the job that he had dumped into
my lap, but such deficiencies have never stopped me. Sixty
years ago I thought that I could do almost anything. In fact,
at that time, I didn’t know that it wasn’t up to me, as a
chemical engineer, to do everything that had to be done. I
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designed structures and all the vessels in detail. When I
submitted vessel drawings for bids, shop estimators
tactfully advised me that I did not need to specify metal
thicknesses, welds, testing procedures, etc. That was their
job. They have engineers and draftsmen that specialize in
that. All that they needed from me was the size, shape,
materials of construction, nozzle size and configurations,
available equipment supporting details, and that the vessels
were to be built and certified as meeting the ASME code
for unfired pressure vessels for specified temperatures and
pressures. I received similar messages from many venders.
One heat exchanger manufacturer tactfully suggested that
they design all my special heat exchangers from scratch for
the conditions specified by me -- that their design should be
more efficient and less costly than mine. He was right.
Although I’m a chemical engineer, I’ve been tactfully
told to leave chemical theory up to the chemists. What
precipitated this advice was an imaginative incorrect
mechanism for a chemical reaction that I used to justify a
modification of a pilot plant reactor to investigate my
questionable theory. My superiors had bought my
argument and luckily the modified pilot plant accomplished
everything that the theory indicated it would do. In fact, it
exceeded projected quality and yield expectations. That’s
not the only time that I’ve done the right thing for the
wrong reason. What does that prove? Nothing. I
continued helping peers plan their research experiments to
provide definitive answers and information needed for
development of production facilities. We were a great team
accomplishing much more than other research groups that
were many times our size.
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I am accused of ignoring discouraging advice. The
frequency of favorable results that I stumble onto give me
courage to explore fresh ideas. I rarely feel obliged to wait
until I am absolutely sure my theories are correct. Though
not qualified in this particular case, I am eager to offer an
opinion. Let that be a warning. As usual, I am more
confident than I should be that my opinion will provide a
positive scientific contribution even if it falls short of
reality.
Forget the visitor for a moment. Einstein predicted
that light emitted from massive bodies would be shifted
toward the red end of the spectrum. This gravitational red
shift phenomenon has been verified. On applying that
gravitational red shift relationship to the density of the
universe, we find that gravitational red shift of light emitted
by stars increases in proportion to their distance from us, as
reported by Hubble. Einstein’s gravitational red shift
accounts for essentially all of the red shift that Hubble
observed. It’s reasonable to conclude from this easily
verified information that the red shift that Hubble had
attributed to expansion of the universe is explained by
Einstein’s gravitational red shift. This means that the
universe is not expanding as thought. Since the universe is
not expanding, it could not have begun with the formerly
projected Big Bang event. In fact, scientists don’t really
know when or how the universe came into being.
Not knowing how or when the universe came into
being suggests that it could have always existed. Or, if it
has not always existed, it appears to have existed long
enough to have had time to reach that dynamic equilibrium
that meets the underlying thermodynamic principle. Until
216
we are able to set a time for the beginning of the universe,
it’s reasonable to tentatively stipulate, based on existing
verifiable facts, that the universe has always existed and
will last at the apparent thermodynamic equilibrium
forever.
The visitor’s water wave analogy is convenient. The
water medium connects wave crests and valleys and
provides all sorts of feedback. If there were no friction to
dampen water waves, the wave sizes would even out as the
waves approach maximum disorder. The frictionless water
waves are analogous to Boltzmann’s microscopic disorder
of gaseous molecules. Their ultimate maximum
microscopic disorder becomes macroscopic uniformity.
Boltzmann’s statistical mechanics, therefore, determines
the macro uniformity. In gases, all molecules statistically
end up having essentially the same temperature,
momentum, internal vibrations and spins, taking into
consideration the diversity of all constituents.
In empty space, the same process is at work. As
defined by Boltzmann’s statistical mechanics, maximum
microscopic disorder guarantees maximum macroscopic
uniformity. In other words, photon-like messengers adjust
the energy of everything in the firmament, seeing that all
matter is equalized, establishing the precise mass and other
characteristics and conditions of, say, the hydrogen atom
and other stable entities. There is substantial evidence that
the universe exists and has existed long enough to satisfy
the second law’s underlying principle. The radiant energy
impinging on the firmament creates hydrogen.
Consider the firmament full of photon-like messengers
– full enough to be analogous to water in the ocean where
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the presence of everything is at least remotely affected by
everything else. All depends on photon-like messengers
that we know can work within molecules, adding and
subtracting energy to stimulate or calm and reposition
electrons in accordance with their quantum energy. The
demand on photon-like messengers is reasonably extended
to include the ability to pop subatomic particles out of the
vacuum, as Paul Dirac suggested, to affect their properties
and account for cosmological red shift that is no longer
attributable to expansion of the universe.
The idea of a standing wave between the proton and
electron that determines the electron’s probable location
and energy is appealing. If the energy of the electronproton pair varies with their distance of separation, a virtual
force may be computed in accordance with the classical
law: energy equals force times distance. There is not an
actual pull or push at the atomic or subatomic level because
these particles are nebulous entities that may not have
anything to pull or push against, especially if the particles
are anything like Helmholtz’s vortex rings. Forces need
not exist on the subatomic scale. In an analogous situation,
individual molecules in the gaseous state do not exhibit
pressure in their microscopic space, although collectively
they are responsible for pressure that we observe in our
macroscopic world. Standing waves could position the
electrons in accordance with quantum energy levels which
will, in turn, create what might be considered a virtual
attractive force between dissimilar particles.
Lord Kelvin’s atom, which would have been
something like the Helmholtz vortex rings, failed because
he could not account for electrically charged particles.
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Particles created by the impinging radiation on the vacuum
would not have an electrical charge. The radiation creates
particles where their energy varies with the proximity to
other particles, as adjusted by standing waves or photonlike messengers.
In high school, we learned force times distance equals
the energy it takes to move something. Accordingly we
associate energy as force times distance. But subatomic
particles don’t push, pull, lift, shove or drag. Instead,
messenger waves adjust the energy based on distances
between them. No force is necessary or possible in the
microscopic world.
In our comfortable macroscopic world, we have static
cling and electrical sparks that can jump. To have both
attractive and repulsive forces there must be at least two
differing entities. We distinguish between the two by
calling one positive and the other negative. That’s how
electrical charges came into being – by our naming them.
Nature cannot produce antimatter hydrogen, Paul
Dirac’s positron and its cyclotron target tracks
notwithstanding. What nature produces are protons and
electrons, neither of which carries an electrostatic charge
per se. We named the entities and attribute a nonexistent
force to an electrostatic concept, and assigned the names
and polarity. Paul Dirac’s positron is real enough, like an
electron, but responded differently in a magnetic field.
Yes. Yes. I know. Paul Dirac’s predicted positron has
been experimentally verified, radioactive decay of 11C,
13
N, 15O, 18F, 40K and 121I produce emissions identified as
positive electrons, other possible sources of positrons such
as those that could be produced by the collision of two dark
219
matter particles, and then some electrons might undergo
something like a sex change. Furthermore, we are
currently measuring the presence of what we believe to be
positive electrons in satellite orbiting space.
I should not object to calling the positron antimatter.
Antimatter is hypothetical stuff composed of atoms with a
nucleus of antiprotons and antineutrons surrounded by
positrons. Antimatter just can’t exist in accordance with
underlying principles that I have described.
Photon messengers that mediate space-energy
relationships can apparently distinguish between electrons
paired with protons from those expelled from atomic
nuclei. Magnetic fields then apparently manifest an energy
gradient that mediating photons use to guide the particle in
detection devices.
I have a conceptual problem with black holes, with the
idea that binding energy is negative, that matter and
antimatter annihilate each other and with the idea that all
the plusses in the universe must equal the minuses and add
to sum zero. I suppose that’s because my dyslexia inhibits
my ability to understand such things. In grade school, I
was embarrassed because I didn’t know my right hand from
my left. That problem was soon solved by a scar I obtained
on my right hand. I still occasionally need that scar for
reference. My inability to read as well as others continues
to be an irksome handicap. And I have always had trouble
following some logical explanations that are easy for
others.
Combining hydrogen atoms to produce helium (on
paper) produces the helium with less mass than the four
hydrogen atoms. That fusion reaction gives off a
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tremendous amount of energy. To call the binding energy
negative seems to violate conservation laws of energy and
mass. That fusion reaction is exothermic. Damn it! The
bomb explodes.
There is an insufficient amount of mass that can be
detected in the universe to balance negative binding energy
according to those looking for dark matter. No binding
energy should be required to hold the universe together
since the universe is not expanding. Our universe very well
could be infinite. Nevertheless, gravitational red shift does
limit the size of our observable universe to the same extent
that expansion would have.
If convention specifies that energy is required to hold
things together, then that which holds two protons and two
neutrons together might be thought to be negative energy. I
never thought of energy being involved in any holding
process and I’m not prepared to deal with the concept of
negative energy. In the meantime, I do recognize the fact
that energy is given up on the approach of matter toward
black holes and that the energy is radiated away in the same
fashion that nuclear fusion reactions disposes of what’s
referred to as “binding energy.”
For the visitor’s paradigm to be viable, black holes
must return all the waste mass drawn toward them back
into empty space as radiation of some sort. As he
suggested, if nothing goes into the black hole, it must be
empty. The gravitational force would then be caused by
the mass in the cloud of stars approaching the horizon from
without. Black holes must be empty space in which the
center of gravity of surrounding stars have sufficient mass
to create the hole from which nothing can escape – not
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even light. That relieves us of concern regarding what
could happen at the awful singularity. It would not exist in
our observable world anyway. Again, my confidence that
such a black hole could exist and would radiate away all
matter headed its way is based on my reliance on the law of
conservation and my unschooled take on our bearings. My
reading is that the universe exists in a dynamic steady state.
No. It’s not Sir Fred Hoyle’s universe. What I visualize is
a viable, thermodynamic happening.
POSSIBILITIES
After Miriam was promoted to a big girl’s bed and
moved into the room with her older sister, a scary storm
blew up, assaulting the children’s room with incessant light
flashes and threatening noises. I stood outside the girl’s
door to see how they were taking it. “Papa says we’re safe
in bed.” . . . “How does God do it?” “God says let there be
lightning.” “Oh.”
Wow! Our little girls understood what many biblical
scholars miss. Things need to be explained in terms that
can be understood at the time. There being two accounts of
our creation in the Old Testament suggests to me that other
accounts or updatings would be permissible. So, I take it
that it is acceptable for me to offer my version, which
should be replaced as we learn more.
The elegant biblical account is a hard act to follow.
It’s not an easy task to present an updating in a way that
can be understood at this time.
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In the nineteenth century, astronomer Heinrich Olbers
realized that astronomers needed to explain why the night
sky isn’t uniformly as bright as the sun -- why all the stars
including the ones that are so far away that we can’t see
them wouldn’t cover the whole sky making it that bright.
Astronomers concluded that if it were not for red shift of
radiation from distant stars, the night sky would burn us up.
Red shift reduces the energy of electromagnetic radiation
from distant luminous bodies making the universe
habitable. Early in the twentieth century, Edwin Hubble
found that the red shift increases in proportion to the
distance that the stars are from us and that if the red shift is
attributed to Doppler Effect, the stars would be retreating
from us and the universe would be expanding.
Hubble’s observation was made about the time that
Einstein predicted another possible cause of red shift.
Light emissions from massive objects are displaced toward
the red end of the spectrum. Einstein’s predicted
gravitational red shift (which was quickly verified)
accounts for all of the red shift that Hubble attributed to
Doppler Effect. This important fact has been overlooked
for some ninety years. The mass surrounding luminous
bodies accounts for all of the red shift that is incorrectly
being attributed to expansion of the universe. This means
the universe is not expanding as we thought.
If so, we must now conclude that stellar radiation loses
energy in transit, since we can no longer attribute
cosmological red shift to Doppler Effect. The energy that
the electromagnetic radiation loses on its way to us must be
accounted for. Radiant energy is definitely dissipated in
the firmament. It must be creating something there. What
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else can the impinging radiation possibly do but create
waves and eddies which become hydrogen atoms? We
know that to be so, evidenced by the abundance of
hydrogen in the universe.
The microscopic stuff in the firmament has had plenty
of time and room for it to reach a state of maximum
disorder with the help of photon-like particles. In
accordance with Boltzmann’s statistical mechanics,
maximum microscopic disorder corresponds to maximum
macroscopic uniformity. This assures us that empty space
is producing only stuff of consistent mass and energy.
Thus the underlying thermodynamic principal and
statistical certainty of the outcome of disorderly exchange
is expected to normalize the mass and energy of the
electron, proton and the velocity of light in the same way
that maximum microscopic disorder defines entropy here
on earth
The photon-type particles keep hydrogen components
moving until they come within the gravitational pull of
galaxies, stars and black holes, coalescing and undergoing
nuclear reactions and radiating their surrendered potential,
nuclear and binding energy back into space until all their
potential and binding energy and mass is spent.
Our present bearings strongly indicate that the universe
is dynamically balanced. If so, nothing can enter black
holes. Otherwise the universe would be consumed by black
holes and that would be contrary to conservation laws.
Those black holes must be empty. In the middle of the hole
is the center of gravity of surrounding external matter that
has sufficient mass to create the empty hole from which
nothing can escape because of gravitational force.
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Taking a bearing, I see a lot going on. To me, it’s a
dynamic equilibrium that I described earlier: mass is
formed by the impingement of radiation on space between
the stars. That mass coalesces and is drawn by gravity
toward more massive conglomerates, adding to or creating
more stars, then to galaxies and finally ending their
existence on the approach toward black holes -- the mass
having been radiated away on its approach. Impingement
of that radiation on the vacuum replenishes its original
mass, thus completing the loop.
I do know that negative energy is an important concern
of cosmologists, especially those looking for a perceived
deficiency of mass needed to balance the negative binding
energy and the mass that determines the critical density and
controls the expansion of the universe. But since I do not
believe the universe is expanding, I presently don’t feel
obliged to deal with negative energy.
I see it differently. I’m convinced that what I see in
the night sky is dynamically balanced. But even if it were
not, it definitely must exist. It’s not fireworks or a
Hollywood show. It exists. Whether or not it’s in
equilibrium, it exists for the same reason that our
neighbor’s basketball ends up in our yard and that lost
visitors seem to always end up at Homer Wright’s. These
happenings are an acceptable thermodynamic kind of thing.
We needn’t know the torturous path that photons,
cosmic rays and neutrinos take or what quarks, strings or
other intermediates are involved to understand the
predestined essence that the underlying principle
determines and we observe. Radiant energy is being
consumed and mass consisting of mostly hydrogen is
225
mysteriously being formed out there between the stars.
Hubble’s red shift is strong evidence that radiant energy is
being siphoned off. The abundance of the hydrogen that
fuels the stars is an excellent clue as to what’s happening to
that radiant energy.
Outer space is certainly disordered. Particles in
question include photons which are capable of exchanging
energy between proton-electron pairs as evidenced by
characteristic spectral lines. Distance-energy relationship
between particles being controlled by photon-like
messengers on the micro level thus ruling out the function
of electrical charge and its existence there in accordance
with Ockham’s razor. There being no electrical charge
leaves nothing to distinguish matter from antimatter.
Impingement of photons on the vacuum can do more as
suggested by Paul Dirac and proven experimentally. That
photon activity facilitates the microscopic disorder and
produces macroscopic uniformity of stable elements –
setting atomic weights and the speed of light.
Involvement of Schrödinger’s wave medium would be
icing on the cake. His medium could be the material that
stellar radiation swirls, creating eddies that become the
mass that coalesces and powers the universe. The medium
has no mass or energy or resistance to motion. Created
entities obtain their mass from the stellar radiation energy
that is scavenged. One might identify the medium to be the
ether of the ancient Greeks, Maxwell, Helmholtz and
Kelvin.
Ockham’s razor wouldn’t apply in this case because
the medium has two functions: its deceleration on leaving
massive bodies explains gravitational pull, and it serving as
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the stuff that impinging radiation spins in converting
radiant energy into mass. Doing so, lt abides by both
thermodynamic and conservation laws.
While it exists as a swirling component of matter, it is
pulled toward massive objects, becoming exhausted as it
surrenders the last of its mass-energy at the event horizon
of black holes. One could reasonably expect that there be a
return route. Seems reasonable that its return could cause
gravitational pull. Reasonable enough for me without the
visitor’s computations. A good bet, but I leave that
question for others to hash out. Some brave soul should
weigh the merits of the paradigm, guarding against it being
trumped by precedential authority without due process.
I have no delusions. There’s a fair chance that I’m
wrong. A fatal flaw could be found in my “elegant” four
color proof or gravitational red shift may not account for
Hubble’s observation. Either way those mistakes wouldn’t
be a total loss. Failing, they would still illustrate the
fallibility of scientific method.
We all make mistakes. Brilliant and well-informed
people make mistakes. And I’m neither. There are better
examples of that in chapter one. And there’s more to it
than the impotency of our problem solving tools. Most of
us believe that we are doing the right thing and are
oblivious as to how our devil – the matrix– has made us
into his puppets. To restore our ability to think things out
for ourselves will require that we place ourselves in a
position where we become responsible for our own wellbeing and less dependent on unnatural crutches, such as
government regulations, conventional wisdom, precedential
227
authority, and logical analysis. We ate the forbidden fruit
and know right from wrong, but have forgotten how to
reason. To save ourselves from the self inflicted state of
slavery that we find ourselves, we must take time to listen,
brush up on the three Rs and improve communication skills
and properly use them, as I shall further explain.
.
ATTITUDE
It’s true. Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem establishes
a limit to the reliability of logical analysis. Furthermore,
logical models eventually go crazy when loaded with too
much feedback or too many interrelated variables. I have
not exaggerated the extent of those shortcomings. Still, the
deficiencies of logical analysis hardly deserve a fraction of
the blame for our inexplicable behavior. Those
deficiencies can’t be blamed for our inability to solve many
of the issues we debate endlessly. Some of the blame
should be placed on our having been conditioned to give
and accept quick answers, many of which may be
assertions that only sound logical. As you know, effective
commercials capitalize on logical sounding assertions and
political candidates endeavor to back their various positions
with logical sounding arguments that voters accept.
Of no less importance is our tendency to block out
things. Knowing one shouldn’t expect good decisions
based on half of the evidence and ignored contrary
arguments, most of us, nevertheless, block out information
and reasoning that we feel might upset our preconceived
notions and those found to be beyond our understanding,
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over our heads, inconvenient or simply not worth our
consideration. Something said might suggest an unrelated
experience or idea of our own that might shut down our
listening and become a reason to interrupt an ongoing
communication with an account of an unrelated experience
or whatever.
Many of my acquaintances wonder what a chemical
engineer does doing research. They don’t ask because they
fear I might take their query seriously and bore them to
death with details that might bring back unpleasant
memories of, say, courses they were forced to take at
school. During social events, wanting to avoid politics
after exhausting the usual comments on the weather,
sporting events, hunting and fishing successes, health and
activities of wife, children, grandchildren and mutual
friends, the best souse and prices of whatever and other
timely small talk, I might describe something that happened
at work that I thought might be appropriate or of special
interest to the particular person with whom I was chatting.
A response such as, “Sorry, I just don’t dig technical
stuff” was a frequent response to an anecdote where a
response such as “Really?” “That’s hard to believe” “I
never would have thought of that” would have been
sufficient. I always endeavor to avoid including anything
that might be construed as “technical stuff” when talking to
anyone who doesn’t dig technical stuff.
I thought. I still think that there were many
experiences within my career that might be of interest to
those in other vocations. I presumed that most people are
curious about what people that specialize in other fields do.
Just about everybody will tolerate and possibly be
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interested in accounts of unusual human experiences,
ironical situations, and fresh ideas as well as a crude or
cruel joke if it didn’t interrupt or interfere with some
pressing matter. James Herriot’s books describing his
experiences as a veterinarian attending domestic pets and
farm animals are fun to read. I got a kick out of reading E.
B. White’s, “Memorandum” in his book One Man’s Meat.
I readily related to the writer’s list of things he planned to
do that day as I’m sure the nature of my outlandish chores
might interest him. After all, ninety percent of our time
spent at the grindstone is taking care of related essential
chores involving people and social responsibilities.
Actually, the opportunity to express anything in depth
at social gatherings is rare. More than half of the people
are talking at the same time, suggesting a deficiency of
listeners. The rare awkward silence comes only when
standing in line to get in or out a door, to the bar, guestbook
or water fountain, or when the girls leave the boys to place
their orders while they visit the powder room.
When someone relating his office experiences pauses
long enough to catch a breath, I might inject this anecdote
when appropriate and might be of interest to anyone
regardless of background. In one such case I simply
mentioned a recent discovery that the best welder we
employed couldn’t read a word or even sign his name or
read the numbers on a ruler. He did beautiful work and did
it twice as fast as the best welders.
Another time, I discovered that our chemists were
about to give up on a reaction that had been performed and
230
described one hundred years earlier. Our chemists were
unsuccessful in obtaining the needed data using state of the
art laboratory equipment that had not existed in the
nineteenth century when the reaction was described in the
technical journal Bericta. I’m not sure the chemists could
read the German, but they did get the point when I
suggested that they re-read the Bericta’s report.
Though it might have happened during a discussion of
the e-world, I would probably have never had time for the
following anecdote in one dose. So, it was possibly broken
up into a story of my involvement in the evolution of the eworld, the lack of confidence in technology in which
professionals are schooled and the initial unacknowledged
lack of leadership in the development of our space
program.
Before Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, DOS, floppy disks or
hard drives, my employer was considering renting a
computer for research computations. This provided an
opportunity to solve a real problem while demonstrating
what might be done with the computer and to show my
boss that equilibrium data could be constructed from
available information to design a distillation column for
separating an impurity from a new product by distillation.
He wasn’t prepared to accept my assurance that the
computation was applicable or that the results would be
reliable. I felt that a computer program that would
reproduce equivalent data for grain alcohol and water from
the same type of information available for our new product
and impurity would persuade him.
231
It took a few days to program the computer and wire
up a board to do square roots, logarithms and antilogs and
create the overall algorithm and subroutines on punch
tapes. I did that on IBM’s demonstration model located in
their downtown store display window. I was dressed for
the occasion. Running the program and printing out the
results took two or three hours. Incidentally, the Texas
Instrument or the Hewlett-Packard hand-held
programmable calculators that became available a few
years later had logarithm and square root functions built in,
and were capable of doing the same calculations in a few
minutes.
The results that I obtained satisfied my boss that the
theory was reliable and the computer had produced the data
that I needed. That exercise succeeded in demonstrating
something that the boss should have accepted. The boss’s
background in physical chemistry should have enabled him
to pass judgment on the technical merits of what I had
provided him. Consider his lack of confidence as further
evidence of what these anecdotes are included to
demonstrate -- people don’t listen and give logic a chance.
In spite of that successful computer exercise, I
recommended against budgeting one because I really didn’t
want to become the person expected to get our money’s
worth to justify its rental. Soon after deciding against
leasing the computer for research calculations, an
unanticipated need popped up. A computer would have
been handy for calculating flame temperatures and specific
impulse of an exotic rocket fuel that the company was
considering. Those computations were more than I could
have done with my slide rule in the time available, so
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having no computer, I had to devise another way to do the
calculations. I did that by renting several office machines
that could mechanically do all four arithmetic computations
and by programming pilot plant technicians to do the
calculations by following algorithms that I had worked out.
Imagine the bunch of young chemical plant operators
dressed for their regular jobs, hard hats and all, seated
around a long boardroom table operating vintage
accounting machines. With their help, the calculations
were completed on time. Our calculations indicated that
the proposed rocket fuel would be competitive and
comparable to exotic boron hydride type fuels.
On attending a conference of the American Rocket
Society in Louisville Kentucky the next week, I discovered
that most of the concern expressed in technical sessions
was how to get their computer programs to converge on
answers. In those days, before the development of handy
debug software that allowed programmers to trace what
was going on when the computer became stuck, the
computer had to be unplugged or booted to get it out of
endless loops. Back in the boardroom my technicians and I
didn’t have that problem because, doing the computations
ourselves, we could see as our calculations developed on
the boardroom table and blackboard how to steer our
calculations to zero in on the answers we were after.
I was seated next to a general from Cape Canaveral at
the banquet at the conference. In the course of our
conversation, I mentioned that my calculations indicated
that there wasn’t a fuel with a higher specific impulse than
molecular hydrogen. He agreed. The problem with
hydrogen, though, is with its storage. Our problem with the
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race with the Soviet’s Sputnik was not the lack of a more
efficient fuel but with the lack of leadership and
communication skills which were eventually provided by
Wernher von Braun and his crowd. More on
communication skills, later.
Building codes and regulations weaken the sense of
responsibility of architects and other professionals as
illustrated in the following anecdote that I’ve had occasion
to use more than once. In taking an inventory of air
pollution sources from a building that housed
manufacturing, office, and laboratory facilities, I was
shocked to discover that the exhaust from a chemical
laboratory hood was next to an air intake for the central air
conditioning system for the entire building. It had been a
serious architectural oversight but it was especially
troubling to me because earlier I had personally used the
same hood for measuring liquid hydrogen cyanide, the
poisonous gas, into a stirred reaction flask to evaluate a
potentially superior route for producing a chemical we were
considering. I had done that reaction myself because the
thought of assigning that experiment to a less experienced
chemist naturally concerned me.
Doing research isn’t all dull stuff as the following
experience demonstrates. Having done research on the
possibility of using a byproduct for producing a herbicide
that became one of the two constituents of Agent Orange
provided me with enough information to assist a client bid
on the production of Agent Orange for the defoliation of
trees in Vietnam. I knew that Ethyl Corporation had no
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longer produced 245T and that Penn Salt had, but no longer
produced 24D.
Obtaining sufficient design and operational data from
the former producers took fancy detective work. At the
time, no one in either of the corporate headquarters realized
that their companies had produced the chemicals.
Fortunately, I remembered where to look for the names of
people who had worked for the companies that could lead
me to essential information. I enjoyed meeting unusual
challenges as they unfolded. As it turned out, Monsanto
won the bid, and they were the one saddled with a
judgment of over one hundred million dollars for health
related damages to those exposed to the chemicals. Whew!
Had we won, that judgment would have destroyed us.
That’s what this chemical engineer doing research did.
The foregoing characterizes about ninety percent of what a
chemical engineer does doing research. The rest is tedious
stuff like shuffling paper. The foregoing anecdotes are
limited to my experiences because I wasn’t listening when
others related their experiences. Yes, I’m guilty.
Everybody is guilty of doing the same thing. Not listening.
That’s my point. Essentially all of earth’s smartest
creatures have various attitude problems and stop listening,
limiting available information and ideas. We shouldn’t
place all the blame on the deficiencies of logic.
Judge for yourself. I don’t believe any of the
anecdotes called for responses that suggest they were too
technical to be understood by clergy, artists, journalists,
politicians, lawyers, insurance salesmen or stock brokers.
Even so, according to my family, the anecdotes are too
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much about me. I have, however, retained them since they
demonstrate that all of us, including me, often find it
convenient to stop listening to or skip over a lot of what we
consider to be frivolous talk and written material. I suspect
many of my readers exercised that prerogative on what I
have just written thereby demonstrating that point.
The president of the first company that I had worked
for as an engineer was a big man that had earned the awe of
his employees. He also had a big voice, especially when
making a point. In the hall immediately outside a
conference room when the walls were vibrating from his
presence, I witnessed our janitor pausing, turning up his
hearing aid, then after tilting his head, saying, “Wow. Now
that’s our man.”
That’s what most people do. The janitor didn’t and we
don’t mean disrespect and we don’t do it to escape
boredom. We subconsciously block out information and
ideas that might upset preconceived notions that might
exceed what we have come to believe could be beyond our
ability to understand or tax our already overloaded
concerns. Yes, I believe most of us turn off our hearing
aids at times for various reasons. At times, I find it handy
to protect some of my own stubborn ideas. That’s a
mistake. After all, because we do that, there is a lot to learn
that we miss out on.
Permit me to describe one more experience with
associates to illustrate the importance of listening and
opening up to others. This episode dramatizes why, if we
don’t listen, we are left with insufficient information which
could lead to fatal errors.
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Project engineering groups take over the mechanical
and structural design of chemical processes after I have
completed the process design. I specify the materials of
construction, reactors, distillation columns, grinding mills,
crystallizers, evaporators, filters, heat exchangers,
clarifiers, extraction columns, flows, temperatures,
pressures and controls. The project engineers specify
further details, place orders and issue construction and
installation contracts. During the project engineering and
construction phase I observe what’s going on, answer
questions and make suggestions.
On one occasion I was horrified to see that an
expansion joint was being installed in the piping in a way
that would wreck the plant on start up. I so advised the
head project engineer. He politely said to not worry -- that
it was his responsibility. I knew better. If for some reason
a start up doesn’t go as smoothly as planned (they rarely
do), I am asked, “Jim, what are you going to do with your
plant?”
I tried, but was unsuccessful in explaining the problem
to the engineer and left when I realized that our exchange
was getting heated. It was a simple matter of high school
physics: the expansion joint made the pipe into a large
piston. Pressure times sectional area equals force, in this
case, a tremendous destructive force. I was wrong
according to him and obtained little help from others whose
support I had solicited.
This particular expansion joint was a bellows that
joined two pipes, end to end, and confined the fluid while
allowing the pipes to expand and contract lengthwise.
Allowing the pipe to move doesn’t affect the fluid pressure
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but it does eliminate the restraint that the portion of pipe
that was replaced by the expansion joint ordinarily
provides. That force is a longitudinal stress caused by the
internal pressure. The engineers were depending on an
axiom that does not apply. They did not understand that
because hydraulic force vectors in a closed system equalize
and cancel out doesn’t mean that pressure doesn’t strain the
system. That’s the trouble with narrow specializations;
they sometimes depend on such axioms instead of having a
clear understanding of basic principles.
By wrecking the plant I meant bending, bursting,
ripping out piping and releasing a tremendous amount of
energy and hot flammable fluid and gases, and possibly
killing somebody. Having given up reasoning with the
engineers, I found the following statement in a piping
handbook that I knew the engineers relied on, “Before
installing any bellows type expansion joint, the engineer
shall determine from the vender the forces caused by the
joint.”
I asked the engineers for the information which should
have been on file and insisted that the engineers get it for
me. This accomplished what my exhaustive explanation
had failed to do.
Later, a pipe fitter that was present when the system
was brought on stream told me that the engineers never
believed that the restraints were necessary, even after the
large tie bolts, that they had reluctantly installed, showed
significant stress as pressure was applied. After that, they
apparently remained in denial in spite of the evidence.
Otherwise, the following would not have happened.
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A few years later I learned that the plant had blown up.
The energy release had been what one would expect might
happen if the restraints had been left off after a shutdown
for maintenance. That plant which had made history is
now ancient history. They weren’t listening.
Come to think of it, the response I received from math
teachers and editors of mathematical journals regarding
may father’s proof of the four color problem suggest
another attitude problem: “My [our] mathematical
specialty does not include mathematical proofs.” Well!
You judge. Shouldn’t any college graduate be able to make
that determination from what I’ve written? Shouldn’t any
physics major or most college graduates be able to judge
whether gravitational red shift rules out the Big Bang as an
explanation of cosmological red shift?
I wonder. Could what I’ve described be a matter of
attitude? Not only must we deal with the questionable
reliability and limited applicability of logical reasoning,
with our listening, with replacing logical analysis with
precedential authority, but also with a mindset that prevents
us from applying what we are supposed to know.
In Chapter Three I show how these problems will be
solved in time as we build communities of people that want
to regain freedom to accept responsibility for their own
well-being. That chapter will explain why that will do the
trick.
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ERGONOMIC DESIGN
I have two great grandsons who are better at
communicating without words than many educated people.
The babies can get your attention and let you know what
they do or don’t want in one breath. Articulate people are
rarely that direct. Obviously, we and most all creatures are
born knowing how to communicate ergonomically.
One might observe that on many occasions, more than
half of a group of people are talking at the same time.
Somebody must be multitasking. When someone helps the
one speaking by completing his sentences, he is not
interested in learning things that he doesn’t already know.
Those that start talking before you have completed what
you were saying had rather talk than communicate. There’s
a difference. At my age, many contemporaries had rather
talk than bother with their hearing aids. If my younger
brother didn’t know the answer, he could respond with
nonsense that wouldn’t reveal any lack of familiarity with
the subject. He could win most any debate even if he
didn’t know what it was all about. He wasn’t a boring
know-it-all. He simply enjoyed the challenge.
My great grandsons and my brother know or knew
what they were doing. I wonder about the others.
In most cases, one turns on the water by turning the
faucet handle counterclockwise and shuts it off by turning
the handle clockwise. On the other hand, one turns the
knob clockwise to turn on a radio or an electric appliance
that has knobs, and turns the knob counterclockwise to turn
it off or to reduce the sound or whatever.
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The key pad on touch tone telephones are upside down
from those on ten key adding machines.
My surveying transit reads the compass degrees
clockwise beginning at the north. Mathematicians read
angles counterclockwise.
The world waited for binary computers to become
significant before standardizing on a decimal system for
weights and measures. The international meeting must
have felt they had to do something.
Although using some of the same commands for the
disc operating system that preceded it, DOS reversed the
order of the source and destination. Later, Microsoft’s
“user friendly” Windows keeps users even further
confused. Now, Microsoft’s befriended users must guess
what will be copied, deleted, inserted and where it will end
up when he clicks on copy, upload, paste or whatever.
Time is too precious for one approaching his tenth decade
to waste playing that guessing game. But friends – young
and old – who spend hours at their computers say it’s
simple and are convinced that they aren’t wasting precious
time. Really? I suspect they consider a large portion of
their frustration is entertaining or exercising their fingers.
In kindergarten I was the dunce. I couldn’t tell right
from left. I remained slower than other children in all
activities in the first and second grades. I finally got on par
with peers doing multiplication and division toward the end
of the third grade when we got into long division and
multiplication of large numbers. I was allowed to advance
to the fourth grade only because Miss Sutton agreed to
accept me into her class and coach me after school hours.
Miss Sutton patiently tried and I suppose that it helped.
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But grade school remained a struggle. The Head Master of
the prep school that I attended was challenged by my
alexia. No. It was never diagnosed as alexia or dyslexia.
But the Head Master was challenged anyway, and tried
many techniques using special teaching aids to help me
overcome my inability to read as I should. In college, there
just weren’t enough hours in the semester for me to read
the assigned Federal Papers at my reading speed. Another
trouble that I had in school that I didn’t know about at the
time was that many teachers thought I was cheating since I
got correct answers without following prescribed
procedures.
I never learned to read fluently. That defect slows me
up enough to notice things that complicate life. In fact, I
feel that the strain that such things caused me should
qualify me to critique our ability to communicate
ergonomically. I suspect that very few people have even
noticed the careless attention to ergonomics that I
mentioned at the beginning of this topic.
Believe me. Cyber language is not ergonomic in spite
of the fact that the syntax of computer language is very
precise. I know that the boys in the back room writing
software and programming apps understand its importance.
Because of that, one would expect that software
programmers would be well suited to write clear,
ergonomic instructions for users of their products,
providing instructions in a verbal and written language that
can be followed by users for specific applications. Had the
software creators bothered to write instructions in a well
developed ergonomic language, they would have
uncovered and corrected serious problems that could have
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been avoided. It’s not too late for that. Many of those
problems have never been corrected – not only the
susceptibility to worms, viruses and hacker vulnerability,
but also regarding the poor quality of reports generated by
computer apps. Furthermore, it’s important to be able to
transmit and receive meaningful information and
instructions in all walks of life.
Once we resolve that problem, it will no longer be
necessary to buy or produce apps that don’t do exactly what
you want and need. Instead, the hardware and software one
buys would come with instructions that would enable users
to write programs that would make the hardware do what
the hardware could always do -- precisely what we have
always suspected that a computer should be able to do.
Then, it won’t be long before in-house programmers could
no longer say that the computer cannot be programmed to
provide needed information in the desired form. Years ago,
before Jobs and Gates became intrigued with bells and
whistles, there was enough available published, or
hardware provided, information to enable anyone to easily
write, without special training, programs that satisfies their
specific needs better than present day apps do.
Programmers could do that because, at that time, they knew
to respect the syntax which presently is no longer provided.
Recently I noticed that the beginning and ending
balances, credits, debits and interest reported monthly for a
line-of-credit loan didn’t add up. I had always checked the
report every month to see that everything was there, but
rarely checked the arithmetic. I never felt that I should
have to. (I always check the arithmetic on my checking
account to verify the balance I carry in my checkbook.)
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Banker’s financial statements not jibing is serious.
There’s nothing wrong with their computer, and the bank’s
personnel and management are honest. The tail is wagging
the dog – the way in which the computer is programmed
caused the embarrassment, confusion and wasted time.
Bankers know how to keep books and write reports,
but now they rely on their bookkeepers who rely on
computer programmers who don’t have access to sufficient
operating instructions that would enable them to program
their computers to properly keep books and issue
meaningful monthly reports. A fifth grader is capable of
learning how to reconcile the bank balances in just a few
minutes. Adults are oblivious to there being a problem. I
trace blame of the failure of the monthly report on the
failure of the hardware and software providers of properly
communicating operating instructions and onscreen
options.
The inability of bank personnel of understanding the
importance of the accuracy of their monthly reports is more
than serious. Sloppy. Worse than that. One expects
bankers, especially bankers, to keep impeccable books and
issue flawless reports. What’s most frightening to me,
though, is that this incident is not an unlikely, isolated
occurrence and is not limited to banks. They know what’s
required and that they should know it’s not a chore that
their hardware can’t do. But for some reason, they tolerate
inacceptable computer printouts. App programmers can’t
do better because the information they need is not properly
communicated to them along with the hardware. My
concern is that the deterioration of our ability to
communicate is a disastrous systemic development that
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spoils most everything that we do and is tolerated by so
many of us.
Confusion caused by not properly communicating
information is probably not intentional. But it couldn’t
have been more effective if planned. The confusion it
causes creates the false impression accepted by most people
that programming takes intelligence that very few people
posses. Actually, it takes mostly patients and the ability to
follow operating instructions that should be provided by
hardware and software suppliers and knowledge of the
requirements of bankers, accountants, NSA or others for
whom they are writing the program.
If the confusion is not intentional, it serves a arrogant
purpose. The mystery that the confusion causes makes the
field appear to be complicated and provides security for
those who have access to the knowledge. In addition, the
spurious complexity justifies the replacement of the simple
adding machine and typewriter, provides jobs and makes a
selected few rich. But the confusion must end, as it will,
but only after we learn to communicate ergonomically.
I feel entitled to ask the question: “If learning is
exciting and fun, why is school so tough?” Making friends,
participating in sports and a few other diversions from the
hard scholastic stuff are the only activities in school that
make school tolerable for some. Anyway, those activities
would be just as accessible outside of school if we weren’t
held prisoners there. Teaching and learning are fun -something that we should enjoy throughout our lives, so
why do we make it a bitter pill that we require our teachers
to force on our children?
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Why? Because school is supposed to be hard.
Initially, it was instituted exclusively for Thorstein
Veblen’s leisure class to pass information on to the next
generation and not be accessible to the lower classes who
support the economy. In addition, tutoring or schooling
was to teach upper class children discipline which the
lower classes had to know to survive. The idea was to
perpetuate the special knowledge and secrets that the upper
class depended on for their security while making that
knowledge inaccessible and to discourage the struggling
masses from any thought of overcoming their disadvantage.
It’s amazing that schools haven’t repented and changed
more noticeably in the hundreds of intervening years. Fear
of the hickory stick was still an item in my youth and
illiteracy is still arguably a justification for limiting certain
peoples’ rights.
Being hard and making information inaccessible has
been refined to fit modern diversified subjects. Very few
people use or have opportunity to use mathematics beyond
addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. With that
know-how one can balance their checkbook, budget their
time and money, and do most any computation that an
employer might require. Possessing that know-how makes
one as well equipped in that respect as a PhD. I suspect
that very few technical people use more math than basic
arithmetic on the job, yet our educators are apologetic for
not making mathematicians out of everyone.
No more than the ability to use arithmetic is needed to
solve practical problems or even use compound interest
tables or to balance most business’s books. No more than
that is required to do what the CFO of Enron and managers
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of failing national banks, Wall Street advisers and auditing
firms ought to have been doing. We don’t need to be
taught mathematical theory or how to change decimal
numbers to base seven numbers in grade school. Besides, I
reckon there ain’t no such thing as modern math. That
moniker was thought up by administrators to scare off
parents that want to help. Such overly complicated
exercises serve no beneficial purpose today. They are there
only to inflate ill-perceived concerns of administrators,
school boards and the public at the expense of the student,
teacher and the little appreciated utility of arithmetic.
One seriously damaging bit of conventional wisdom is
that information is valuable to those in possession of it
because it provides job security and that knowledge should
be withheld from inferior humans who might aspire to
replace you. That alone is a sufficient explanation for why
schools have retained their non ergonomic conventions
such as modern math. And it isn’t limited to schools. It’s a
systemic lie. It includes all professions and fields of study.
The objective is to make the initiation or schooling as tough
as possible and to make the technology sound
incomprehensible to all but the insecure few whose jobs
might otherwise be at stake.
There are many ways to communicate. Reading,
writing, speaking and listening aren’t the only means of
communicating. And not necessarily the best or most
reliable way. Supplemental nonverbal movements, sighs,
tears, yawns, eye movement and facial expressions are
important. Many lose a large portion of their ability to
communicate when they learn to talk or obtain an
electronic device that facilitates texting with their thumbs.
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A good poker player, however, is able to decode messages
that the sender is unaware that he is sending.
Communication is important -- maybe more important
to our survival than mathematics and science.
Communication was important to Michael Faraday who is
famous for his electrical and chemical discoveries. His
formal education consisted of a rudiment of reading,
writing and arithmetic in a common day school. Books
available to him as a teenage apprentice bookbinder got
him interested in chemistry and electricity. His
determination to learn how to effectively communicate his
interest in science was what got him his first job in science.
As a scientist, among other things, he laid the foundation
for Maxwell’s theory and equations of electromagnetic
waves (X-rays, UV light, visible light, infrared rays, radiant
heat, microwaves and radio waves). As a communicator, in
addition to his many lectures and published discoveries, he
started a series of lectures for children that has become a
175 year old Christmas tradition.
Faraday recognized that the foundation of both the
scientific method and the liberal arts rests on transmitting
useful information. A good scientist should naturally be a
good communicator. He proved that to be so. A rudiment
of reading, writing, arithmetic and a drive to learn and
fulfill his ambition is what made this great scientist and
communicator. The three Rs were his tools. They need to
be restored and made more ergonomic for coming
generations.
Arithmetic means nothing without its applications.
That must be clear to both the teacher and young student.
Learning what can be accomplished using arithmetic and
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examples of its utility should be made exciting to the kids.
Grade school students should be able to enjoy applying the
rudiments of arithmetic and not be bored or confused by
having to deal with dull stuff with no immediate
application. In grade school, keep mathematics ergonomic.
Hold off on mathematical theory until that knowledge is
needed – for the mathematicians.
In the third grade, I decided that when I grew up I
would be a mad scientist. I knew that I would never make
a good doctor, lawyer or Indian chief because of my
inability to read as others ordinarily do or to communicate
my thoughts and ideas and be understood. What other
choices were there? What I didn’t realize at the time was
what Faraday knew. To succeed at anything, one had to be
able to communicate. Taking Faraday’s lead later than I
should have, I realized that I should concentrate on
communication skills rather than reading speed. I still have
my reading defect and after spending decades developing
communication skills, I still find it terribly difficult to
explain myself.
Learning should be fun. I suggest we make it that way
by accentuating utility and eliminating superfluity. Make it
ergonomic, exciting and fun for both the teachers and
students, beginning in the first grade and carrying it
through grade school, graduate school and into retirement.
Applying the rudiments of reading, writing and
arithmetic was all the background that teenage Michael
Faraday needed to become the one that I consider to be the
greatest of all contributors to science. The utility of
reading and writing is just as important as the utility of
arithmetic. Like arithmetic, reading and writing should be
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ergonomic. discovering what reading and writing can do
should be exciting for the kids. Beginners should learn that
first. Learning how to use reading and writing to
communicate is essential. Teachers and parents should set
a good example, but hold off on teaching formal grammar
until the students begin to appreciate how reading can
unlock doors. “Open sesame!” No, not just the door to the
forty thieves’ treasure. The door to almost anything the
student might want to know about.
In grade school, let the students choose the topics to
read and write about. That gives them a vested interest.
Don’t pass up opportunities to identify sentences, subjects
and predicates, nouns, verbs, adjectives, and prepositions.
The place for one to learn sentence structure is when one
learns to read and write. Young students soon learn that
sentence structure is there to help convey information and
ideas. Save hard grammar until the students feel a need for
an authoritative guide for sentence structure. Save
conjugation of irregular verbs for the mean teachers.
Opening doors, getting and giving directions and
instructions, buying and selling stuff or ideas, asking for
and giving advice, telling stories, courting, disciplining
your pet, identifying a bug, inviting guests, and asking for
money depend on communication. There’s plenty reasons
to learn to read and write, to build a personal library, to
keep a journal, and to never be bored even when it’s raining
or miserable outside and none of the TVs are working.
That applies to us all, even those challenged with some
kind of deficiency.
Clarity of verbal communication should be integrated
with the three Rs. Parents that crave freedom to accept
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responsibility for their own well-being will surely see that
their children are exposed to important communication
skills and sentence structure, before and along with reading
and writing. That alone will provide the world with
disciplined visionaries such as Michael Faraday
It’s important that you know that our survival as a
species depends on our ability to properly apply the
rudiments of reading, writing and arithmetic and
developing verbal and written communication skills.
Fortunately sensible people desiring freedom to accept
responsibility for their own well-being will see to it that
such tools become ergonomic. That’s just one of the many
seriously important reasons for the freedom to accept
responsibility for oneself.
We need people with both a wholesome perspective and
the ability to communicate reliable and useful information
and ideas. But presently, our communication quality is
deteriorating. The deterioration correlates with increasing
technical specialization, expansion of communication
devices and with the stress of social and economic noise.
Compare the innate ability of my great grandsons with the
whiz kids who apparently think an isolated transitive verb
communicates a complete thought and is an adequate
substitute for operating instructions or the protocol that
existed before Microsoft. The buying power of the
growing numbers with healthy attitudes will surely reverse
that negative trend.
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VIBRATIONS
My 1934 Woody had no side windows, but if it did I
wouldn’t use them because of smoke coming up through
the floorboards. The windshield that would louver was
glued shut with paint would only be helpful in the summer.
So I sold the beloved station wagon for twenty-five dollars
and bought a car that had windows and a vent that brought
in fresh air from above the hood.
That new-to-me car had knee action suspension.
Hitting a pothole, going over a railroad crossing or any
significant bump would start the front wheels shimmying
so badly that I had to pull over and stop to give the wheels
time to calm down enough to drive on.
Nature is always ready to vibrate at the least
provocation. And mankind is obliging – causing confusion,
another distraction that further explains our inability of
realizing what our well intended actions are doing.
In case you aren’t persuaded that using our wisdom can
be counterproductive and exacerbate problems that we
intend to solve, consider an experiment I performed with
the help of bored, glassy-eyed students.
The students were maintenance personnel paid by their
employers to attend the class that taught process control
theory. I was substituting for their regular teacher so he
could have a well disserved nervous breakdown. The
students were uninterested and unprepared, and had not
been exposed to prerequisites. Their jobs at work were to
fix malfunctioning hardware, designed or specified by
engineers.
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To get their attention I had them perform the following
experiment which involved stringing together enough
rubber bands to make a chain about twelve inches long and
tying a weight on one end that was heavy enough to stretch
the chain about six inches. I provided the rubber bands and
large machine nuts for their weights.
The students were instructed to hold the free end of
the rubber chain steadily then suddenly move that end
upward a few inches. The weight follows their hand but is
slow in getting started and travels further than their hand,
and then oscillates up and down. They were to observe
how long it takes for the oscillations to subside, then repeat
the exercize, trying to lessen overshooting and shorten the
oscillating time. Very few people succeed at that. In fact
there is a good possibility that trying to stop the oscillations
will perpetuate them. The weight will move upward in
response to one moving his hand downward. What
happens might seem illogical and counter intuitive, but it
happens. It’s spooky. But that’s nature’s way.
I had the students perform the experiment to get their
attention and interest in what the course should have been
about. I’m relating this to you to illustrate and emphasize
important facts with which you should be familiar:
Never begin teaching anybody (children or
grownups, as my students were) theory before getting
their attention and interest in possible applications.
Theory should be to explain interesting things, make
problem solving easier and build a base for
understanding and discovering new things. Don’t teach
theory for any other reason.
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Even very simple systems with feedback can behave
in ways that are hard to understand. Our world is a lot
more complicated than rubber bands and a weight.
Remember that. The world cannot be micromanaged.
Controlling even simple systems too tightly can
make them go crazy. Vibrations, oscillations can be
caused by many different disturbances. Too many
sources of feedback, time delays and over reacting
always raise havoc. That’s why the world is too
complicated to be controlled.
The control of room temperature, boiler pressure
and automobile speed is fairly simple. Logical devices that
utilize known cause and effect relationships do tolerably
well. Even that gets hairy as the tolerance for variation is
narrowed. Controlling one’s own child takes more than a
logical approach. All parents know that. Yet the matrix
would have us control the world. That’s preposterous.
Free diverse communities with free diverse self sufficient
citizens wanting to be responsible for their own welfare is
the only way I know that has a chance.
NO BILLs
On reading a review of Michael E Mann’s book The
Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, (Columbia University
Press, 2012) I realized that the book could have been an
well founded indictment of special interests’ indefensible
involvement in generating and supporting most of the
damning “tactics used by climate-change deniers to distort
the science of climate change and smear the reputations of
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legitimate climate scientists.” The review didn’t name the
special interests, only their Jackals. One might wonder
why.
The book review was in a weekly news publication of
a highly respected technical society, a publication that I rate
the most reliable of all sources of technical news and
information available to me. Naming the special interests
would, however, have been suicidal for both the weekly
and the technical society because many members of the
society heavily depend on these or other special interests
for their income. That is a powerful reason for holding
back incriminating evidence against guilty special interests.
Energy related special interests are no more than an
isolated example of the many different special interests that
use such tactics. They are not limited to oil companies,
pipeline companies electrical utilities, gas well drillers,
other contractors, the DOE and more. There’s a host.
Besides the energy related special interests, there are the
agricultural, pharmaceutical, insurance, automotive, freight,
commercial, banking, wall street, investment funds, gun
manufacturers and supporting organizations, lawyers,
doctors, military, government, legal entities, educational,
“independent” research institutes, think tanks, developers
of all sorts, PR consultants and more; most of whom
initiate and support tactics that withhold and distort vital
information and smear those reporting important
information and noteworthy conclusions.
Energy related special interests just happen to be an
excellent example of one of many ways the matrix is
presently manipulating the world by having people with
good intentions do its dirty work.
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No. It’s legitimate to have special interests. Very
few of them intentionally distort vital information and
smear those who see through the mischief. In fact, doing
so is generally against company policy, in case someone
asks. But no one dares. Members and associates of special
interest teams, however, naturally feel obliged to look for
evidence that might be construed in their favor and to
embellish on and repeat flimsily construed and
questionable evidence. Remember, we all have good
intentions. What’s good for special interests is good for the
economy, especially for those whose income and wellbeing depends on a related institution. The media willingly
accept news releases and are glad to have something to
expound on, but they dare not look for trouble.
Identifying the particular special interests that are
behind the damning tactics would be fairly easy. One need
only ask a few questions and trace questionable facts back
to their sources and determine who paid for the research or
sponsored the special panels of would-be experts whose
predetermined consensus would be contrary to orthodox
science. It’s easy, but it would take fearless, free, selfresponsible individuals with a death wish and who take
their civic duty seriously to take on those perpetrators.
Special interests have a lot of power, and they
haven’t been indicted. A No Bill doesn’t necessarily mean
that there isn’t enough evidence. It could mean that the
prosecutor had not done its homework, and there are good
reasons for that.
Confidence men know that selling their wares is easy
and there is little need to be subtle when their customers
subconsciously connect their well-being with a special
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interest. Their vulnerable customers subconsciously accept
and support unsupported premises favorable to that special
interest. A touch of subconscious fear related to one’s
livelihood, the world economy, security, freedoms, health
and retirement plan is helpful, and those fears can be, and
are seeded.
Most everyone is dependent on some special interests
for their income and well-being, and that dependency far
exceeds a healthy majority. That majority can be depended
on to believe and support even transparently distorted ideas
and information that is suggested by special interest
Jackals, thus easily accomplishing what the special interest
intended. As a result, the public doesn’t have the
information on which it can make sensible decisions.
That’s why we need specialists and expert witnesses to
make those decisions. The public is no longer expected to
make decisions about serious problems that are debated
endlessly. Instead, we are expected to choose sides.
The question of how useful logical analysis is, is then
moot. Or is it? If we do have the rational tools, we only
pretend to use them. We need to correct this problem first.
That’s why building communities of people insisting on
sufficient freedom to accept responsibility for their own
welfare is so important. No. It is essential to have a
constituency driven to kill the matrix and develop a culture
that works for us all.
As we know, the courts make mistakes. That’s
because they get carried away with their usurped power and
are in tune with the “laws properly so called” game. We
should assume that our species is made up of rational
beings. The courts should not assume that because the jury
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isn’t smart enough, expert witnesses are required to help
the jury decide what the facts are. The lawyers should be
smart enough to decide when experts would be helpful. If
the technical stuff is arguable, it should be left to the jury;
if it’s not arguable it should be stipulated.
Responsible people need to be able to decide for
themselves. They are already actively weeding through the
disingenuous substitutes of orthodox science, unsupported
data and premises as well as identifying and disregarding
the smearing of reputations, all of which is fortunately
sufficiently transparent. The constituency that Bill
McKibben observed to be building will, in time, overcome
and reverse the ever-increasing power of special interests.
Respnsible people are the only ones fit for the job. My
hope for our survival is based on their performance.
But wait. I have been referring to the constituency in
the third person. If we continue to do that, we fail. We
can’t afford to just sit back and let others solve our
problems.
The matrix is using us to withhold evidence, distort
the sciences and smear the reputation of legitimate
scientists. We are being used and we are oblivious. It’s
going to take us, in the first person to turn things around.
There’s no one else that could possibly be properly
motivated and have the wit to return that freedom to us.
There’s no other way. We know we can’t depend on our
laws because they are what created, sustains and enforces
our inexplicable culture.
We must continue building communities of people
with Jefferson’s yeoman perspective, cultivate reliable
sources of information, improve our communication skills,
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and trim away the laws that limit our right to be responsible
for our own well-being. Nobody will do it for us. We, not
them, but us in the first person, who created the matrix are
the only ones with the potential of outwitting the matrix
and replacing it with a wholesome culture. The matrix with
all its devilish power will be defenseless against our attack.
Don’t blame the media or special interests. It’s us.
Back in the fifties, Edward R Murrow expressed his
disappointment of the lack of support of excellent
investigative reporting as follows:
. . . . our history will be what we make of it. If we go
on as we are, then history will take its revenge and
retribution will not limp in catching up with us. . . .
this instrument [TV] can teach, illuminate and inspire
only to the extent that humans are willing to use it to
that extent. . . . [if] this instrument is good for nothing
but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is
flickering now and we will soon see that the whole
struggle is lost. Otherwise, it is merely wires and
light in a box. Good Night and Good Luck, George Clooney
See? I’m not the only one that believes that it will take a
receptive audience to make positive things happen.
Though Murrow was speaking to his TV audience, his
observation applies equally to all media. The continued
deterioration of the quality of news coverage and critical
information is obvious. And we have nobody else to blame
but ourselves.
Instead of appreciating good reporting, reliable
information and sensible commentary we watch, listen to
and read silly stuff. The ratings are based on how many of
us are looking, reading and listening. That’s what justifies
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and pays for the exorbitant cost of expensive
advertisements and leaves little to support excellent
investigative reporters such as Edward R Murrow.
Good things can’t happen without sensible people. We
need people to patronize worthwhile TV and radio
programs and newspapers, magazines and other
publications to restore those potentially valuable, but
deteriorating resources.
Who else but us wanting to exercise our God given
right to be responsible for our own lives can be expected to
rise above our sick culture that deprives us of so much. A
lot more than worthwhile network news is at risk – the
meaningful way of living suggested herein depends on us
sensible folks.
Weapons for killing large game, wisdom and “laws
properly so called” have created the horrible monster that
could mean the death of our species. It has presently
succeeded in distorting information and replacing our
superior minds with a disingenuous substitute. But that
monster, the matrix, has all the eggs in one basket, while,
as long as we can retain some diversity, which includes
sufficient numbers of freethinking, self-responsible
individuals, we will persevere. The eggs, laws and special
interests are an incompatible mix and will eventually self
destruct, while our diversity can be depended on to provide
the surviving, sustainable culture using superior cognitive
tools that I will discuss more fully in Chapter three.
This chapter was to convince you that the real world is
too complicated for logical modeling. As it turned out,
however, a possible elegant simplicity of the universe was
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uncovered. Furthermore, the proposed elegant proof of the
four color problem illustrated how providing freedom is
possibly the only way of obtaining favorable outcomes in
situations involving too many possibilities.
Was ist los?
Those apparent counter-intuitive facts initially floored
me. However, now I realize that the complexity with
which we are concerned resulted from our trying to figure
things out using the wrong analytical tools. The world is
not so complicated after all. That initial supposition was a
mistake as is our strict reliance on logic for all our answers.
We definitely need to broaden our way of thinking which
shall come about, as you shall see.
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Christmas Eve
Watercolor on paper by
Athos Mennaboni, c1928
Chapter Three
Beyond Everything
As we approach the horizon, don’t expect an abrupt
change. In an unsuccessful search for a picture of the
Pearly Gates to illustrate that point, I uncovered Christmas
Eve, a water color displayed on the preceding page which
was painted by an important person in my past. To regain
the freedom that our primitive ancestors had which enabled
them to be personally responsible for their own welfare,
and for sharing the responsibility for their family,
neighborhood and extended communities, one need not
give up any worthwhile modern conveniences. The people
we find at the horizon will be like us, except they will no
longer have that insecure attitude that robs us of our
independence.
One need not ask where these people came from.
They will be of the very same human stock inhabiting the
earth today. There are growing numbers of us who will
realize what the matrix is doing, and will decide to join the
movement that’s beginning to take place.
They will be just as diverse as we are. I place
descendents of the super rich as prime candidates. Their
ancestors would have been secretly insecure or even
paranoid in spite of their golden parachutes, lawyers, secret
bank accounts, limited liability arrangements, paid jackals
and substantial influence over all three branches of our
government. Furhermore, you can bet that many of the
poor who are enslaved by our welfare programs would be
proud to break free. And the productive people in between
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who are supporting the world’s economy, providing
welfare for both the super rich, the handicapped and those
trapped at the bottom, will find time to consider the relief
that any change would provide them.
That diverse crowd will be best suited for snipping
away the outrageous laws and regulations that rob our
freedom to become responsible beings. They will have
time for that, since their fresh attitude will release them of
their need to be conspicuously wasteful of their time and
whatever.
Parents feeling responsible for their children’s
education will see that the schooling and that which is
taught in school becomes more ergonomic so their children
are not bewildered or turned off by awkward, conceptually
challenging theories before having a chance to learn the
elegant utility of what they are taught.
The three Rs would have become an art form, an
elegant communicational and computational media for
expressing oneself or for working out real life problems.
This will liberate us from the arbitrary division between the
liberal arts and science. Teenager Michael Faraday had it
right -- both liberal arts and science do the same thing.
Both use the media for developing and conveying
knowledge and ideas. The scientific experiments for which
Faraday was so famous were planned to produce definitive
results. Had they not, or if he had neglected to carefully
communicate the results, James Clerk Maxwell could never
have developed the electromagnetic wave theory and
equations for the radiation of heat, light, radio and X-rays
on which the twentieth century technological advances rest.
Maxwell’s theory identified all four of those radiations to
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be the same phenomenon, differing only in energy
intensity.
Parents being responsible will help their children
appreciate the powerful tools that the three Rs provide. As
the young students mature, they become well prepared to
accomplish most any undertaking. As we approach the
horizon, an expected abrupt change is barely perceptible.
One might hardly notice that the road being paved will be
headed in a different direction.
The suggestions in Chapter One, carefully observed,
will bring about the delightful, secure and sustainable
world that will come into view at the horizon.
I know. That presumptuous statement needs proof
which I have yet to provide and further supporting evidence
is not sufficiently persuasive at this point. Machiavelli
made such a statement regarding his suggestions and got
away with it:
The previous suggestions, carefully observed, will enable
a new prince to appear well established, and render him
at once more secure and fixed in the state if he had been
long secured there. W. K. MARIOTT’S TRANSLATION
He was able to make that rash statement because he had
provided many familiar examples of both successes and
failures of princes who did and did not follow the principles
that he was prescribing. On the other hand, there exist no
examples or proof of any human civilizations that have or
probably will survive very long as they stand. None.
Eliminating negative and questionable candidates would
leave a vacuum.
That leaves only discouraging examples that exist
today – our inexplicable behavior that we developed after
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our fall. Chapter One explains why our festering
problems were bound to arise and suggests immediate and
long term cures. One might ask, “Is that going to be
enough? How in the world could a trend toward rebuilding
communities of people with Jefferson’s imagined yeoman’s
perspective possibly change the habit of thought that we
know has existed for millennia and that which most
scholars presume to be an innate feature of our species?”
The building of sensible constituencies of citizens who
insist on snipping away bad laws and regulations, will
make life temporarily easier, as suggested in Chapter One.
One might agree with that, but snipping cannot eliminate
our chronic tendency of creating new or possibly worse
laws and regulations to replace the old ones.
Right now is probably the only chance we have. The
timing is right for essential changes that we desperately
need. We should not pass up the opportunity. We can’t
afford another world war. It’s too dangerous. Snipping
away won’t solve global warming, global and parochial
disparities, depletion of natural resources, out of control
medical and education costs, the flood of distractive and
misleading information, loss of plant and animal diversity,
increasing vulnerability to pandemic diseases, developing
resistance to wonder drugs, or rush hour traffic.
It will do more. The movement is becoming auto
catalytic. Positive results are making the movement more
attractive. Ultimately it will remake our self-destructive
culture into the fresh culture that will be needed to replace
the matrix.
Fortunately, the snipping can commence now. It will
be easy. Presently, both political parties can see laws that
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are supported by the opposition party that need trimming.
Plenty of those laws are so bad that further support by their
advocates is becoming embarrassing. Moreover, since
neither party has much else to offer that is clearly
attractive, there is little left to focus on other than the
elimination of many existing atrocities.
My grandfather learned that businesses can become too
profitable. Being rich was nice. He, his staff, stockholders
and board were able to show their generosity by
contributing handsomely to all worthy causes and charities,
and felt that they were entitled to reward themselves for
being resourceful and generous. He was a generous tipper,
not because he liked to hear that “yes boss,” “yes boss,” or
those surrounding him, anticipating his slightest desire that
he enjoyed, but because he was just plain generous. He
didn’t mind the cost of the upkeep of his palatial residence,
carriage house and tennis court on the hill that overlooked
his mill, the convenient private nine hole golf course, his
house at Cambridge, another house, boathouse and dock at
the head of the cove at the Cape, or the sailboat in which he
planned to circle the world.
Unfortunately, the well went dry. Buying a 1930
Cadillac Sports Roadster, about that time, caused friends
and family to speculate. Why? Would he or his chauffeur
be the one to sit in the rumble seat? At that time, I was too
young to understand the grownups’ discussions regarding
his weird purchase. Was it attributable to the shock of
financial ruin, brain damage from a stroke or dementia that
comes with age? Probably none of the above. He had a
passion for collecting expensive cloths, hunting and fishing
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gear, cars, boats, attentive servants and other stuff that he
might never use.
We should have learned from what happened then.
Excessively profitable businesses create fragile economic
bubbles and are responsible for the unhealthy disparity of
personal income. Excessively profitable businesses are not
only extravagant but also borrow to expand inadvisably
with loans that their attractive projections justify and the
banks recklessly accept. Furthermore, excessive
profitability invites unfriendly and hungry competition.
Most of the too profitable ones were originally glamorous,
fashionable enough for Wall Street, pension funds and
mutual funds to invest in, and were frequently supported, in
part, by attractive government enticements which
nowadays are said to be a trickle down way of helping the
needy -- a handy rationale for handouts which sound
palatable. It’s easy for politicians to justify tax credit
enticements because, while satisfying their supporters, they
aren’t budgeted expenditures. CEOs, lawyers, directors,
investment advisors, the Fed, legislative, executive and
judicial branches of all levels of government, banks,
pension trusts and insurance companies, all play the game -- practically everyone except the sensible remnant who are
busy at work.
You are probably wondering why I brought up what
my grandfather did eighty years ago. After all, we know
that a certain amount of over exuberance followed by
serious corrections are to be expected within major
business cycles. My grandfather’s excessively profitable
business did not bring on the Great Depression -- neither
did the disparity of his pay. The Fed could have done more
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to sustain the unsustainable economic growth of the 1920s.
Immediate stimulus packages could have delayed the
inevitable collapse that brought on the Great Depression
and more stimulus could have kick-started its recovery.
The Great Depression was caused by, not one, but too
many excessively profitable businesses that were
encouraged and supported by the government, financial
institutions, charities, and all those who support the everincreasing GDP. Income disparity is not a cause; it is an
effect, and a mighty good indicator for evaluating the
vulnerability of the present economy, at that. Our present
outrageous disparity of income indicates the vulnerability
of the present economy to a more frightening, inevitable
correction than that which we fortunately have been able to
postpone. The fact that the present disparity is many times
greater than that of the late 1920s is more than an
interesting statistic that has not yet been discovered by
Wall Street or Ivy League business schools. Nevertheless,
it’s an overlooked indicator that has repeatedly proven
unerring for thousands of years.
There was a time when Rome may have had an
idealized yeoman perspective such as that which we expect
to develop as we build communities of people that want to
accept responsibility for their own welfare. How else
might one explain how the Romans could have chosen
Cincinnatus as their leader? It is important that our
community building movement creates a constituency with
the same perspective Rome had twenty-five hundred years
ago. We seriously need that constituency, not just for its
sensible voters, but also as a source of leaders --- a David
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to kill the matrix monster and a Cincinnatus to resolve
festering global problems.
Wishful thinking? Maybe, but from what I’ve
observed, Bill McKibben is right. There is a trend, not just
a fad, but a viable movement going on. People wanting to
restore the right to be responsible for their own well-being
are beginning to be noticed. The most telling sign is that
puppets of the matrix are on the defensive. Denial of
present day realities and scare tactics against their critics
are a giveaway and credible evidence that reinforces
McKibben’s conclusions. Communities of people with the
idealized yeoman perspective connected to each other by
the electronic network as it will be perfected will finally be
able to lead us in the right direction. Free-thinking, selfsufficient people, better connected by our developing
communications infrastructure and presently neglected
syntax will also overcome deficiencies in our cognitive and
communication skills by becoming a global brain. That
brain will be many times smarter than our best think tank
and will be capable of solving our inexplicable problems
and outwit the matrix. I promise more on that later.
Chapter one advocates redirecting the road that we are
building. Suggestions in the first chapter, carefully
observed, will begin lessening the burden placed on us by
the matrix. Eventually, the matrix will be history. Chapter
Two illustrates deficiencies in present day analytical tools
that we will overcome as our sensible populace develops
along with the evolving communication infrastructure. Our
culture is in for disruptive changes that a global brain will
resolve. I shall explore those possibilities in the following
pages. Those changes will take time. In the mean time,
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our new culture will need a secure environmental home
which the government must secure and provide as we
establish our sensible constituency. Then communicating,
determined, sensible voters will do the rest.
SUSTAINABILITY
I turned to Machiavelli’s Prince for advice expecting
examples of things to avoid. Instead, I discovered that
most of his advice was well-founded and applicable today.
Princes who observed the principles he advocated were
successful and secure. His advice continues to explain the
comings and goings of principalities and other
governmental entities, even today. That troubles me. It
obligates me to deal with this particular Machiavelli
observation:
The chief foundation of all states, new as well as
old . . . are good laws and good arms. The Prince,
chapter XIII
Uh-oh. Good laws and good arms? In Chapter One, I
had identified “laws properly so called” as being that which
maintains the matrix – the cause of our troubles. Weapons
lead to a predaceous stand. But I agree with Machiavelli.
Both good laws and good arms are essential. Communities,
however, must come first. We need constituencies of free
determined people with Jefferson’s idealized yeoman’s
perspective to create good laws – laws that reflect that
perspective – certainly not “laws properly so called” as
defined by John Austin. Furthermore, we need a strong
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militia made up of citizens with that perspective. There is
no other choice. I know of no other way to be sustainable
and safe from predaceous outsiders. We must follow
Machiavelli’s advice. You’ll see why.
THE MILITIA
In his book, Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond
provided examples where isolated communities that did
well without laws or arms, only before they were
discovered by outside predaceous tribes. Definitely,
protection against the probability of such demise is
essential. Developing weapons for hunting large game is
where all the trouble began. We have those weapons and
they are getting more dangerous and accessible. Our
culture, however, must be such that having arms doesn’t
produce predaceous states as it frequently does.
Prohibition won’t work, besides, it’s too late for that. That
leaves mutual deterrence. Any better ideas? Communities
of self-sufficient people are needed for all aspects of our
survival. Who else can we depend on but a sensible free
populace? Extend the idea of personal responsibility
upward through the ranks and globally.
The only safe defenses must be a well prepared and
devoted militia composed of citizens willing to sacrifice
their lives for their families, communities, state and way of
life. That’s expecting a lot. It heavily depends on proud
citizens with Jefferson’s idealized yeoman’s perspective
successfully building communicating communities that are
worthy of that sort of support.
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Machiavelli puts it this way:
. . . the arms with which [one] defends his state are
either his own, or they are mercenaries, auxiliaries, or
mixed. Mercenaries and auxiliaries are dangerous . . .
The fact is, [mercenaries] have no other attraction or
reason for keeping the field than a trifle of stipend, which
is not sufficient to make them willing to die [to protect
the state] they are ready enough to be your soldier while
you do not make war, but if it comes they take
themselves off or run from the foe . . . . Auxiliaries,
which are the other arm called in to aid and defend . . .
may be useful and good in themselves, but . . . are
always disadvantageous; for losing, one is undone, and
for winning, one is their captive. . . . no principality is
secure without having its own forces. . . .
He’s saying what we intuitively know – that we’ll be
needing those free thinking people who are in charge of
their own welfare and love their family, neighbors and
community to the extent that they would be willing to die
to protect what they have and love.
ORDER
Machiavelli doesn’t define good laws that he considers
essential:
. . . and as there cannot be good laws where the
state is not well armed, it follows that where they are
well armed they have good laws. I shall leave the laws
out of the discussion.
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That’s no help. Although he jumped to an implied
conclusion, I believe he is right. A well-armed militia, that
would be safe, and good laws both depend on a free
populace having the right attitude. John Austin’s “laws
properly so called” is what created and sustains the matrix
which is the cause of our troubles. I feel we can depend on
our future populace to resolve the paradox regarding the
need for and the trouble with laws.
The existence of so many bad laws provides ample
stimulus to take corrective action. The immediate benefit
reaped by disposing of the worst laws will sustain our
courage and keep us whittling away. That part of our
remedial action should go smoothly and clear the way and
expose numerous other ways for us to return our right to
accept responsibility for our own well-being. Replacing or
correcting the bad laws won’t do. Experience has proven
that unnecessary restrictions must be eliminated
completely. They won’t be missed. Furthermore,
providing freedom to healthy citizens to be responsible
should not hamper the ability of the state and citizens from
helping those in need since there are plenty resources to go
around.
The hard part of our remedial action will be the
development of a judicial system that will maintain order
and settle civil disputes in a way that avoids the problems
inherent in John Austin’s “laws properly so called.”
Eliminating the inherited ill-advised vindictive stance
assumed by our present judicial system will make the
court’s job easier and simpler by reducing its function to
simply deterring criminal misbehavior and settling civil
disputes. Having citizens desiring responsibility for their
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own safety and well-being further reduces the need for
regulatory laws intended to micromanage citizens, since
loving one’s community is incentive enough for all of us to
encourage and insist on acceptable behavior in our
neighborhoods and communities. Fewer enforcement
officers will be required.
Mobs are dangerous. My grandmother in defining a
true statesman described an incident she remembered
where a well-respected community leader scolded an angry
lynch mob and shamed the angry mob into going home.
The mob was an out-of-control bunch of proud rednecks
wanting blood. The leader was a true statesman who had
previously proven his worth, and was admired and trusted.
That couldn’t happen today. But it did happen more than a
hundred years ago in this country. And it can happen in the
future, once we have reestablished a sensible populace.
A half century earlier, Alexis De Tocqueville wrote
how surprised he was to observe how orderly Americans
were, considering our minimal law enforcement resources.
We can regain and exceed that self-control that our
forbearers had, even-though becoming self-sufficient is
more complicated than it was then.
Ludwig Boltzmann statistically determined that
maximum microscopic disorder corresponds to maximum
macroscopic order. On the global scale, the individual
might be considered to be relatively microscopic and the
statistical outcome would apply, provided individuals had
complete freedom. Then according to the theory, randomly
diverse people would all be statistically equal. Of course,
one shouldn’t apply Boltzmann’s statistical analysis of
random moving inanimate particles to intelligent humans.
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For now, let’s overlook that objection and consider where it
leads. Along with freedom to be responsible should go the
needed authority for individuals and communities and
extended communities. Consider the authority established
by our Seventh Amendment:
In suits of common law, where the value in controversy
shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall
be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be
otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States,
than according to the rules of the common law.
Unless the last phrase negates the amendment, “laws
properly so called” and the judges have usurped a
considerable amount of the responsibility and authority of
We the People. A free responsible jury with Seventh
Amendment authority is essential if we are to escape the
damning influence of the matrix.
If individuals and communities were free to control
their own lives, then wealth, justice and responsibility
would be, not exactly, but statistically evenly distributed
between everyone.
Absurd. No, not absurd that having a culture that
provides maximum freedom and fair share is pure
nonsense, but absurd that we have developed a culture that
denies that possibility. Let’s think a little about how we
should build our cognitive and communicational skills that
will keep us on the right road.
What about the terrible power of special interests and
national conflicts? The Ory will help answer that question.
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Figure 4
The Ory
Seals of contiguous states
THE ORY
Drop a pebble in a still pond. The ripples are energy
messengers covering the entire surface. That message is
received by all water molecules and dissolved and
suspended matter in the pond. Such messages were
preceded by sound messages. Then there’s displacement.
Imagine that. The entire pond responds to those energy,
sound and displacement messages. Besides that, the pond
carries its share of the angular momentum of the earth’s
rotation and tidal forces. There’s a lot going on which
overwhelms logical modeling because logical models
become chaotic if there should be too much feedback as
explained in the preceding chapter.
I visualize that the exchange of messages between
brain cells corresponds to the sound waves, ripples and
displacement messages from the dropped pebble. No, that
exposes my ignorance. What I do know is that there are a
lot of communications going on in the brain. The pond
analogy is the best that I could do.
Figure 4 of the Ory shows the State Seals of the
contiguous United States arranged in the same relative
position as they appear on a map. It does not include the
non-contiguous states. New England is in the shadow of
New York because that state is between them and the rest
of the contiguous states. I’ve included this drawing
because a picture is worth a thousand words and this one
illustrates and combines ideas and further illustrates why a
network having too much feedback overwhelms logical
modeling. Notice how many contacts exist between the
seals. Counting the national border, there are almost six
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contacts per circle – a fantastic network for messages,
restraints and feedback, yet leaving sufficient freedom for
whatever.
Everything is connected to everything else, if not
directly, by many paths through many intermediates. If any
seal were altered, removed or added, all the rest must adjust
to maintain the intended order. The figure demonstrates
how laws that are not “laws properly so called” work.
Rarely does the world present simple causes that bring
about simple adjustments. For example, the effect of one
simple alteration, anytime, anywhere is passed on to all
others, which freely adjust. Their adjustment will, in turn,
affect changes of all other entities, which, in turn, affect
further changes of the rest ad infinitum. Wow. Talk about
feedback!
Scientific methods isolate real happenings from
outside influences for the simple cause and effect
relationships needed in analytical models. The resulting
models work so frequently that we tend to depend on
logical analysis almost exclusively. Try to develop a
logical model or algorithm for alteration of the Ory array
and you will begin to understand why the four color
problem wasn’t solved in a hundred years; why geniuses
with vested interests have yet to realize that cosmological
red shift is not attributable to expansion of the universe;
and why most of us have yet to realize where this road that
we are paving with good intentions is taking us. These
problems were too complicated to have been discovered by
what passes for “logical analysis.”
Too complicated to be resolved by logical analysis, but
actually not complicated at all. There’s nothing
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complicated about the Ory – just touching and
displacement. Nor is there with the four color problem –
just distributing degrees of freedom, or cosmological red
shift – simply weighing options, or the destination of the
road that we are paving – simply balancing opportunities.
Visualize filling the Ory circles that represent each
state with circles representing each county or parish within
each state, and then fill the county circles with circles
representing individual communities of individuals who are
hankering to regain responsibility for their own well-being.
Finally, represent those individuals as circles within the
community circles. Now try to visualize what increasing
that small two dimensional map to our three dimensional
world and adding the time dimension would do, not only to
the complexity of what might be beyond our control, but
also the tremendous power of the network that holds the
array together. A network, or something like that could be
put to work to replace the matrix that’s causing so much
trouble. We must take advantage of this opportunity while
we have that chance.
Visualize the Ory surrounded by circles representing
all of the nations of the world, fully covering a sphere.
That would represent the world, somewhat as it is today,
except the connections between nations of the real world
are not that well defined. If they were, we could readily see
that our power and economic advantage would be expected
to diminish lesser economies. Even our intended altruism
undermines their economy. We know that. That’s why we
are supplying arms to the corrupt regimes that enforce our
generosity. Whoops. Forget that cynical remark.
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The Ory is actually a poor representation of what’s
taking place at home. The Ory lines represent only state
boundaries; instead, there are countless overlapping
connections. These include those of all kinds of special
interests including religious fanatics, climotoskeptics,
multinational corporations, insurance companies, churches,
denominations, ethnic and racial groups, Wall Street,
international contractors, healthcare providers, the military,
the media, agribusiness, and more.
It’s simply crazy to think that any government could
ever manage all that. Or that any democratic discussion of
how to manage them could ever come to a conclusion. And
it’s a wonder that Washington hadn’t become dysfunctional
long before now.
Face it. It’s preposterous to base hope on developing a
form of government that could manage everything that they
are attempting to manage. The only possibility for
maintaining order on the global scale is to encourage
everyone to work out their own way of accommodating
each other as illustrated by the arrangement of the state
seals in the Ory.
The order we need can’t be brought about by military
or police action because that requires a hierarchy which has
always lead to corruption. Besides, powerful special
interests stand ready to undermine any further democratic
attempts to rein them in.
By reducing government involvement, however, we
will cultivate a healthy quid pro quo. Yes, yes, that comes
closer to nature’s MO and should get us heading in the
right direction. Carefully using that quid pro quo with
improved communications, would create a powerful
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constituency that would outperform a considerable portion
of our dysfunctional global, national and state governments
that it would replace.
Buying power of a well informed and communicating
public would rein in powerful special interests that can’t be
touched by laws and regulations. We will soon regain our
voice by using our potential buying power. Full discretion
and buying power of informed, communicating individuals
working as the connected states in the Ory could restore the
voice usurped from us by special interests.
Our most serious and conspicuous waste is neglecting
to put our innate intelligence to work using the network
represented by the extended Ory. By connecting informed,
sensible people, the network would add another rank to
human intellect. The network performs somewhat like the
hookup of human brain cells and the learning machine that
I described earlier. The ultimate device has the makings
for solving the unimaginably complicated problems with
which we are struggling. But it won’t work without our
participation.
Did I say unimaginably complicated problems?
Increasing networks need not increase complexity or
increase the difficulty of control.
It should be easy; after all, all living things including
those with essentially zero IQs and un-fettered freedoms
solve comparable problems to those with which we are
struggling. Magically, problem solving at all levels
happens without intelligence in instances where large
numbers of entities are free to make serendipitous
discoveries which are shared through networks functionally
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similar to that represented by the Ory and the pebble/pond
analogies.
In August 2011, IBM announced the development of a
computer chip that processes data more like the human
brain does. The announcement confirmed my suspicion
that research on the “learning machine” that I had described
to you earlier is still alive.
The chip has parts that behave like digital “neurons”
and “synapses” and can be programmed to recognize
patterns, make predictions, learn from mistakes, showing
human-like capabilities of processing information that is
not possible using today’s best computers.
A bird on wing can recognize prey, predators or
whatever, learn from mistakes and act in accordance with
what it senses. We may be able to electronically duplicate
that in a few years. Cognitive computers with the new
chips may now be developed to do a better job of
predicting weather and financial uncertainties as well as
make our drones more deadly. What I have suggested will
do more. Much more. And it won’t cost anything that we
aren’t already spending on cordless communication devices
and infrastructure.
Our human brain is one or two thousand times the size
of a bird’s brain. That doesn’t make us a thousand times
smarter than birds, but still imagine the resulting brain
power that we would obtain by wiring up all the human
brain matter on our planet. Our seven billion potential
participants will not increase our intellectual power seven
billion fold, but if enough of us participate, we will be able
to resolve essentially all the frustrating problems in which
we find ourselves impotent, provided participants are
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allowed to regain the same unfettered freedom that all
dumb creatures have and that we had before our fall. A
network of all humans that accept responsibility for their
own well-being should ultimately replace the trouble
causing commands of human superiors.
I realize now that what I’ve been recommending is
dangerous. We can’t simply kill the matrix monster. We
must be ready to replace the evil demon with a benevolent
spirit. We are depending on sensible voters to take over,
the same ones who will be trimming away bad laws. The
change that takes place will be more than a perspective
shift. We will be moving into a new, completely different
world. More like going into the depths of an atom where
there would be nothing to which one could relate.
It’s very dangerous, but perhaps less dangerous than
leaving our destiny up to the matrix. The matrix would
probably use its persuasive power to convince its puppets
to use their new surveillance gadgets and drones to identify
and eliminate potential “terrorists” who can’t be whisked
away and denied recourse.
More likely, it would create sufficient fear among
nations to cause the next mass extinction. Ready or not,
that time is well on its way.
It’s important that we continue building communities
of people wanting to accept responsibility for their own
well-being who will snip away at the laws that make
accepting that responsibility so difficult. It may be a matter
of life and death of our species.
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RECONNECTING
Nature is connected as represented in the Ory. We
were too smart for that. We chose to eat the forbidden
fruit, and we’ve gotten away with it so far. We gave up the
freedom and connectivity that the rest of the world enjoys
when we became preoccupied with our wisdom. We
thought we could make the world better by always being
right and doing the right thing. That was our intent. Many
of our accomplishments are documented in Chapter One.
There’s nothing right or wrong about the Ory.
Everything simply fits. Don’t look for wisdom or right or
wrong in the placement of the seals in the Ory or the
placement of the stars in the firmament. Everything simply
fits.
The Ory was selected to represent the fantastic
connectivity within our brains. To duplicate this on a
global scale to produce a global brain will require our
individual brains to be free and that there be a sound
reliable connection between all of us. Ideally, we must be
as well connected as the state seals in the Ory and the water
molecules and suspended and dissolved matter in the pond
where all entities simply adjust, responding to any changes
of any of the other entities. For each entity to adjust there
must be a means for transmitting information between
entities. In the case of the Ory, it’s nothing more than
adjacent seals touching. In the case of the pond, ripples,
sound, displacement and energy are all playing a part. In
both of these instances the information is exact. Our brains
work differently. Our brain signals and transmissions are
never exact. Nor do they need to be.
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Risking a negative impact to my impeccable image, I
purposely have not edited out all of my outrageous ideas
and dead end speculations, leaving a sample of what goes
through my mind as I tackle inexplicable problems. When
this is done in planned sessions where groups put up with
such nonsense, it’s called brainstorming. Whenever there’s
not a single logical right or wrong, one must look for the
best answer. To obtain that, one sifts through as many
possibilities as practical and chooses the best. That’s what
I do, and I believe that’s how the global brain will work.
All the answers don’t have to be right or even good.
But the communications must be good enough to facilitate
sifting through and selecting the best ones. The best ones
can be enhanced by repeating the process. Recycling good
ideas to our seven billion potential participants a few times
should develop excellent solutions for our inexplicable
problems. These solutions won’t be right or wrong, but
they will be viable.
Good reliable, ergonomic and concise communications
is essential. That’s why I have emphasized the three Rs
and communication skills. Responsible parents will have
their work cut out for them in making teaching and learning
fun for the teachers and learners and attractive enough for
everyone that might be reached.
The developing electronic communications network
will provide the needed infrastructure connectivity. While
the Ory connections involve only touching, we have
available a fantastic electronic network. But before we can
effectively take advantage of the network infrastructure we
will need some serious remedial schooling on the three Rs
and communication skills. That’s why we depend so
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heavily on the movement toward rebuilding communities
of people that want freedom to accept responsibility for
their own welfare. We can depend on them.
We supply the populace that will snip away bad “laws
properly so called” that are robbing us of the essential
freedom to accept responsibility for our own well-being.
That populace will have the perspective, will and energy to
make our schooling and communications ergonomic, and
will insist that the electronic network, broadcasts and
printed matter follow suit.
A FLASHBACK
Some people don’t agree that there is a movement
toward reestablishing communities of people with
Jefferson’s yeoman perspective. Years ago, my father
wrote this bit:
So it came about fairly recently that the only social
unit which had remained wholly intact was marked for
the purge.
Former orators loved to speak of the family as
forming the building-stone for society. And in that they
may have been correct – in the day when the large
building stone, the classic building suited it, and the
family to be likened to it, were still effectively part of
one and the same spirit. Here was the indivisible unit,
which shielded its members from the conflicting ideas
and prevented any separate individual action not in
keeping with the wants of his unit as a whole. Look
what started to happen to it – and this mind you even
before the government took away or discouraged such
family responsibilities as the duty of looking after
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Grandpapa, saving money for sickness, neighborhood
charity, etc.
The greatest single and immediate agent in the
destruction of the family unit was probably the public
school. The main strategy used was and is to usurp
family prerogatives and customs, the pleasant ones of
course: Christmas festivities, for instance, and play time,
and organized entertainments. These activities require so
much time that it is necessary for the pupil to do most of
his studying at home.
Also, the school, under the guise of education,
furnishes a platform from which well-meaning official,
semi-official and private busy-bodies are invited to
propagandize the child without the knowledge or at least
the approval of the family head.
Our reformers simply do not think any more in
terms of the old social system in which the family must
be considered as a unit of responsibility. Each one who
has something to impart, is interested in his own special
angle, whether politics, health, religion, “art” or what
not. He consistently tries to accomplish this end by
direct approach to the child instead of trying to utilize
what is left of the family set-up and giving it the chance
to function as such.
So these outside forces muscle into the family circle
and gradually take it over or rather, replace it, until at last
the family, as far as influence goes, gets to be merely a
useful peg to hang the blame for juvenile delinquency
on. It is no doubt begging the question to complain
about the justice of this, for if the family system is not
good enough to survive these bureaucrats, it is just not
good enough to survive, period.
Of course the family still serves physically as a
tolerated mechanism whereby the population is
replenished, but the young man who waits hours in line
to get his official birth certificate must come to feel that
somehow the government, rather than his
parents, is most importantly involved in his creation.
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He was right – outside influences were taking its toll. I
mentioned several such instances in Chapter One. The
trend that Bill McKibben identified in Deep Economy had
not become noticeable at the time my father wrote that bit.
The reason for the trend toward building communities
of responsible families is that citizens are just now
beginning to realize that our government and other
powerful organizations that are running things are out of
control and can no longer be depended on to teach our
children, guarantee the safety of everything we buy or from
other dangers, keep us healthy, look after the needy, deal
with the economy, terrorists, rogue nations, privacy,
marriage, transportation, the price and supply of energy,
global warming, and much more.
The trend that Bill McKibben depends on can’t help
but remedy those problems. Look at the figure. While
most of these outside influences tend to tear the family
apart, the disruptive ones will be recognized and avoided.
Others can be converted to overlapping helpful
communities. Those associations should reinforce the
family and provide more contacts thereby further extending
the communication network between all such responsible
humans and make it possible for the families to determine
and control those influences.
NETLORDS
Of late, it’s come to my attention that the lords of the
internet look forward to “the emergence of a global brain”
comprised of almost everyone in the world interconnected
with each other and to computers. Isn’t that essentially
what we already have? One might wonder why that global
brain hasn’t already begun to do all the wonderful things
that I predicted would happen. There’s a good reason. It’s
not surprising that it is doing no more than that which the
netlords wanted and expected. Instead of disproving the
expected amelioration of the brain power by connecting all
of our brains, it confirms the importance of building a
constituency of humans with the right perspective, people
who assume the responsibility for their own well-being and
who are not impressed by the bells and whistles and instant
gratification as an essential prerequisite. The ideal
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constituency would not want the global brain to do more
than provide a stable environment in which they can work
toward shared goals.
The netlords are wrong in fearing that their global
brain might increase the volatility of swings in the world
economy. Boltzmann’s statistical mechanics explains why.
Gas molecules ricocheting around in closed containers
reach a stable uniform condition because large numbers are
involved. Maximum microscopic disorder produces
maximum macroscopic order. Accordingly, a large number
of earthbound, unregulated, properly communicating
humans will create a stable environment – a sustainable
one. But only if left as free as Boltzmann’s molecules
were.
It’s easy to see why the sensible constituency which
we are building according to Bill McKibben is essential
and why they must be only minimally regulated but fully
responsible for their own well-being. The netlord’s
subjects apparently lack the perspective that we are
depending on.
DISPARITY
Being a remnant of the antebellum Southern
aristocracy, I had often been reminded of the importance of
maintaining our family’s respectability. I suppose history
ties me to Thorstein Veblen’s leisure class. I have never
thought of myself that way while I worked and saved and
struggled to keep up with the crowd. I have always been a
conservative Democrat. I still believe in the same
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conservative principles that I did seventy years ago, but I
don’t accept the fanatical positions and the obstructionism
that conservatives have taken on lately to build a political
majority.
Money is power and too much money in the hands of
too few people is a problem – a situation with which we
must deal.
One can’t help but admire the elegance of the
serpent’s plan for our demise. Who would have thought
that wisdom, the ability to discern between good and evil,
was all that it would take? Codifying that wisdom came
naturally. It led to laws which needed to be arbitrated and
judged. That in turn required a jury of those who had good
judgment – reasonable humans who were considered above
average. They were the ones to evolve into people
identified asThorstein Veblen’s leisure class and as John
Austin’s human superiors.
Though simple in retrospect, the serpent’s poison
creates consequences that no mortal could have anticipated.
Though our steps are well intended they are taking us down
the wrong road. So far, we have advanced to where we
work beyond our need for pleasure, comfort and
sustenance. We work for money to cover life, fire, auto,
liability and health insurance; to pay taxes, legal fees,
education expenses, religious and charitable contributions,
garbage service, food banks, club memberships, repayment
of loans, food safety, health club, dancing, music, art,
tennis and swimming lessons, home and garden
maintenance, utilities, spectator sports, cable TV, cell
phones, internet and theater and concert tickets.
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It’s really uncanny, who could have imagined that a
taste of wisdom could have initiated all that. The evolution
of all those conveniences, services, products and labor
saving devices and gadgets stemmed from that wisdom that
the serpent persuaded us to taste. And we used that
wisdom believing that it was the right thing to do.
Improved weapons were good because they helped provide
food, as was domesticating animals and cultivating edibles.
These conveniences led to the need for fences and tools,
blacksmiths, wheelwrights, coal mines, wool mills, other
specializations, protection from predators, leadership,
judiciaries, legislators, sweat shops, regulations, humvees
and more – many of which are mentioned in the foregoing
pages.
Realizing that Boltzmann’s statistical analysis
determined that maximum micro disorder produces
maximum macro order I wondered if there could be a
corollary. I doubt it. I could only think of two examples,
clearly not enough to support the idea. These examples
were, (1) marching soldiers are instructed to break cadence
when crossing a bridge, and (2) Rush-hour traffic. Cadence
marching has its place, but, as we know, it can bring on
serious macro disorder on a bridge. Arguably, our
approach to easing rush-hour traffic is pitiful and we would
be well advised to keep our patrol cars and traffic cops out
of the way to let traffic micro-disorder work things out.
Traffic is being funneled every which-a-way by off ramps,
special lanes and road dividers which control the traffic in
much the same way that gates and chutes maneuver cattle
in feed lots and slaughter houses. It gets the job done, but
it’s certainly not orderly. The belief that we could control
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traffic dates back long before president Dwight Eisenhower
built the interstate highway system; arguably, the controls
we keep implementing are responsible for present day
traffic jams. Good intentions cause such problems. Instead
of trying to control traffic, we should have allowed
maximum micro disorder take over and create maximum
macro order. It’s too late for that now. We tend to herd
people like cattle through air ports, pack them in office
cubicles and have them stand in lines because we believe
that human inferiors should be kept in line. After all, they
are needed to serve us as cattle do; they must be kept
orderly and busy producing our wealth.
That’s a dumb thing to say. I know that if what I’ve
related in these pages had not already convinced you, I had
better shut up.
If we knew we were being trained and micromanaged
to create wealth for our human superior’s pleasure, leaving
us a pittance, and hardly enough for the sustenance of those
too old, too young or handicapped, we would rebel. Rebel
against whom or what? There should be little doubt as to
what’s going on, who to blame and who’s providing the
wealth for our human superiors and a token more than
sustenance for us and those less fortunate. I’m betting that
the growing crowd with Jefferson’s idealized yeoman
perspective realize that. Our employers don’t have to force
us to work for them, that’s because there’s no alternative.
We expect job openings when we complete the schooling
that trains us for the jobs so we might produce the wealth
that’s needed to create jobs and support those who can’t,
don’t have to, or just won’t work.
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Those of us that produce that wealth aren’t getting
rich. How can we be free to do what we ought to do when
most of the do-with-all is horded by so few?
There’s an exception to my assertion that nothing is
controlled in nature. We reside here in nature’s domain,
and we are controlled. Somehow, “laws properly so
called” have managed to enslave us. The method was
ingenious. The matrix has caused us to enslave ourselves,
slowly enough that we never realized what was happening.
It has been going on for thousands of years. The serpent
knew what would happen even if everyone had good
intentions. Laws “properly so called” would eventually
entrapped everyone. Each step in our cultural ladder would
appear attractive from below and seem potentially
accessible when taken one step at a time – each level worth
striving for – which we, with blinders, are obliged to take,
never realizing the cost. We willingly are selling our souls
to the matrix.
Surely, at this point, no one doubts that the vulgar
income and wealth of our human superiors has been
siphoned off from productive human inferiors. How it’s
done is not clear. I know it’s not magic; it’s done by using
mirrors and other magician’s tricks.
Consider the ancient pyramids, the Taj Mahal,
medieval cathedrals, mandated bank buildings and
insurance company’s ornate housing and parking garages
for their salespeople, executives and bookkeeping
operations, downtown buildings and parking garages for
lawyers, brokers and numerous other service providing and
nonprofit organizations. These monuments don’t count as
capital according to Adam Smith. They are costly,
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however, in man-hours, materials and energy. Most of
them are arrogant displays of disparity. Those for whom
the monuments were built were characterized by Thorstein
Veblen as those with non productive occupations reserved
for certain employments to which a degree of honor is
attached.
The monuments could not have existed without slaves
or job hungry poor, and enough unemployment to keep the
poor, poor enough to be willing to work for little more than
sustenance. We blame the poor and unemployed for being
shiftless, but we depend on that condition to for building
such monuments to our greatness. We blame the poor, not
realizing that we, all of us having good intentions, are the
ones doing the matrix’s dirty work. Most of this will
change in time if we survive.
Disparity. Show me. Show me, crystal ball, who’s the
richest of us all? Is it the one with the greatest net worth?
the highest annual income? the most numerous, largest and
impressive palaces? the most liquid assets? the most and
most attentive personal servants? a sixth floor corner
office? a harem with the sexiest playmates?
No. None of the above. Those spurious trophies are
liabilities – things that must be maintained. They serve as
the matrix’s puppet strings. The one that pulls those strings
possess all the power and wealth.
The puppets are not free. Their job is to stealthy limit
the freedom of their human inferiors, cascading from the
top. That is the scheme by which the matrix intends to
enslave all mankind and spoil our planet.
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Disparity – the matrix is shrinking all of the wealth and
power into an awesome manageable singularity and using
strings to manipulate puppets to do its dirty work. If
successful, the matrix will have everything – he is the
richest of us all.
Our species has survived many cycles in which
disparity has built to a breaking point. Even if the severity
of stress caused by disparity isn’t further increased, there is
an increased danger. Becoming global and creating more
deadly and intelligent weapons of mass destruction that is
available to everyone, including deranged underdogs, is
frightening. And that’s not all. Our global impact on
nature could cause serious consequences. Denial and a
fatalistic view of global warming and more dangerous and
intelligent weapons suggest that political and
macroeconomic concerns presently trump reality. Special
interests which have disproportionate influences could
possibly create severe conditions with which we are not
prepared. Attempting to control the man-caused global
weather shifts could worsen the situation as we should
expect from our experience in attempting to control other
complicated systems over which we have no control.
Furthermore, the fact that the serpent’s stealthy plan has
proved so effective, demonstrates its power which is still
operational. If not diverted soon, we could destroy
ourselves as planned. We, therefore, desperately need
communities having constituents with Jefferson’s idealized
yeoman perspective. Moreover, it’s going to take the
extension of our brainpower explained in this chapter to
match the uncanny wit of the serpent.
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If we set our minds to it, we can easily build the
communities we need to enable us to rid ourselves of the
worst laws and begin electing judges who understand how
rigged our “laws properly so called” are and can help us
clean up the mess that the matrix has gotten us into.
FLIES
We are not flies. Anyway, William Golding’s Lord of
the Flies is not about flies. Possibly all of my children and
grandchildren have read the book. I had resisted. The
author had described the book’s theme thusly:
“The theme is an attempt to trace the defects of
society back to defects of human nature. The moral
is that the shape of a society must depend on the
ethical nature of the individual and not on any
political system however apparently logical or
respectable. The whole book is symbolic in nature
except the rescue in the end where adult life appears,
dignified and capable, but in reality enmeshed in the
same evil as the symbolic life of the children on the
island. The officer, having interrupted a man-hunt,
prepares to take the children off the island in a cruiser
which will presently be hunting its enemy in the same
implacable way. And who will recue the cruiser?”
For heaven’s sake. If true, it invalidates my basic
contention. I never felt that man had an inborn capacity for
evil. I still don’t. I have willingly relied on Max Weber’s
evidence that “man does not ‘by nature’ wish to earn more
and more money, but he simply wants to live as he is
accustomed, and to earn as much as necessary for that
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purpose.” I could no longer ignore the story’s theme, so I
finally read the book. I know fear and hate are related.
That’s a wholesome reality that we share with dumb
animals. The mean and callous treatment of Piggy and
Roger’s hatred is something else. Rarely is pleasure
derived from hazing or teasing, or creating fear and pain
and vicious vindictive retaliations found nature, and it’s not
reasonable to infer that it is an inborn trait simply because
that tendency was displayed by one of the “innocent”
children. Ralph’s and Jack’s jealousy and the children’s
mob frenzy could be considered natural but shouldn’t be
blamed for the hateful actions that materialized on the
island.
The story reinforces our need to restore the freedom to
accept responsibility for our own welfare -- something that
the children in the story didn’t have which made it easy for
Jack to break up the children’s community. I still insist that
communities of people accepting responsibility for their
own wellbeing is essential.
It’s obvious to me that, except for the jealousy and
herd and mob frenzy, the defects that the children in the
story displayed are unusual in nature. What the boys did
was not the equivalent of protecting their nest, growling at
winged or four legged vultures while eating, or butting
heads to establish pecking order. Instead, they were acting
according to their perception of the behavior of “civilized”
grownups. Although Ralph and Jack were approaching the
age of reason, they lacked the yeomen’s perspective,
having been taught by parents and other caretakers to
expect to be protected and provided for as domesticated
animals are. And that’s not natural.
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Hitler, Stalin and Mao knew that it was very effective
to begin indoctrinating youths as soon as they were
weaned. It’s reasonable to believe that the children were
old enough to have been properly domesticated into our
problematic culture. Rather than tracing the defects of
society back to defects of human nature, the story
dramatizes the importance of being free enough to follow
nature’s example where such things rarely happen.
At birth, all of God’s creatures know what to do.
Many cry and go for the teat. As they mature, they learn to
take care of themselves. That learning process naturally
begins at birth and includes learning how to interact with
others. Don’t blame human nature for what happened on
the island. The story confirms my contention that we must
work out details of a more wholesome and sustainable
culture that is in tune with our natural instincts.
There are umpteen dozen reasons that the trend toward
communities of self reliant people won’t save us from
where the road is taking us. That’s because it’s usually
easy to find why even good untried ideas won’t work. As a
scientific researcher and trouble shooter, I found that
having naysayers was usually helpful. The key is to give
all negative advice due consideration. That’s why I had to
read Lord of the Flies. And that’s why I’m writing this
book. I need your input. In developing ideas, one needs to
communicate his thoughts and invite both positive and
negative criticism of what he’s considering. Naysayers are
important because they identify possible potholes to avoid
and problems that might need tweaking, and they keep us
on our toes.
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Metaphorically, we might be flies attracted by the
sow’s stinking entrails, and lorded over by the sow’s head.
The head is the matrix, and the entrails its puppet strings.
We all are the matrix’s puppets, and willingly yield to the
gilded attached strings.
POSTSCRIPT
Don’t worry if all this doesn’t make sense to you. You
are in good company. It’s hard to understand how
intelligent beings could have developed such a selfdestructive and wasteful culture and survived as long as we
have. An uninitiated observer from elsewhere in the
universe, or beyond, would agree that we have a serious
cultural problem that should be corrected soon. The truth
is, however, that we have, as a matter of fact, survived so
far and that doomsday predictions are unreliable. I suggest
that we lighten up and support the crowd that is seeking
remedial changes.
To survive we must tailor our laws in accordance with
nature’s example. Nature has no “laws properly so called”
and it’s those laws that encourage and justify our
conspicuous waste, conspicuous consumption, and our
outrageous disparity.
Those laws are bad for us, but we can’t do without
them because we don’t know how. That’s because our
logical approach doesn’t work. That’s part of the problem.
Neither “laws properly so called” nor logical analysis are
compatible with nature. This places a neat logical proof
that I hoped for out of reach. Gödel’s incompleteness
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theorem has intervened. In desperation, I have repeated
assertions to that effect too frequently and have expanded
Chapter One, THE ROAD TO HELL by adding Chapter
Two, EVERYTHING ELSE to provide further evidence
that our dependence on logical modeling bears a significant
share of the responsibility for our diminished ability of
solving the problems with which we are concerned. I was
hesitant to include many of those particular examples,
knowing that I’m treading on sacred ground of
mathematics, physical science and scientific method, and
that doing so could provoke distractions. That hesitation
was overcome by the realization of the pickle that we are in
-- that to survive we must face up to our wasted intellectual
potential and the imprisonment brought on by “laws
properly so called.” The extra inclusions make me guilty
of stuffing the ballot box and piling on evidence which, if
weighed on scales against logical objections, might
possibly persuade some of those on the fence. Forgive me
for that.
We can postpone that judgment until later, since
dealing with both the “laws properly so called” and with
our impotent logical mindset heavily depends on building a
constituency of self-reliant people, and that will take a
while. We urgently need that constituency and begin
taking corrective action soon, long before reaching the
destination that the road that we are paving has been taking
us.
I still wonder about the identity of the visitor that
appeared from nowhere – the one whose theory bridged the
gap between Heisenberg’s and Einstein’s worlds. Could he
have been an illusion? He certainly couldn’t have been a
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real live being from this earth. Could he? Possibly he was
a mythical spirit sent by the Muses.
Yes. That’s it. That makes sense. The muses sent the
visitor because they knew that I would be susceptible, listen
to him and take his story seriously. Seriously enough to
entertain the idea that the universe could actually be
elegantly simple. Simplicity that continues to elude present
day scientists as it did Pope Urban VIII and the scientific
elite four hundred years ago. I recon another reason for
them to select me was that I was writing an appropriate
book in which that point could be made and since I am not
connected with institutions teaching or doing research on
related models.
Contrasting the simplicity of the universe with
scientific models in which most orthodox scientists have
vested interests should wake us up. It’s expecting a lot,
especially since the income and reputation of many of us
are at stake. Doing that, however, is possibly what the
muses had in mind. Apparently, their intention was to
reveal the world’s true simplicity and explain why and how
the contrived complexity was developed.
Survival depends on two very strong instincts that we
share with all creatures. All babies arrive completely
dependent, having unquestioning faith in their mothers.
Dumb animals outgrow that instinct which is replaced with
an unrelenting drive to procreate and to feed and protect
their offspring. The matrix exploits these instincts since
they are many times stronger than say, greed or other
instincts on which one might blame our inexplicable
behavior.
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Laws “properly so called” enable the human species to
interrupt normal maturing, and to extend the initial
dependence and obedience instinct of humans inferiors,
preventing them from growing up. They are needed to
support the economy and provide services for the
privileged few – to those identified by Thorstein Velben as
those “reserved for certain employments to which a degree
of honor is attached” and by John Austin as the human
superiors who make the laws.
Ignorance effectively sustains the initial dependence
instinct. But the elegant simplicity of the world provides
little that one might be ignorant about. For this reason,
contrived synthetic complexities must be created. That is
easy. No matter how direct and simple situations are, they
are considered too complicated if they can’t be explained
by impotent logical models or be effectively controlled.
The paving stones in Chapter One contain many
examples of simple situations considered too complicated
for human inferiors to understand. Don’t worry. I won’t
innumerate them here. But a few stand out.
The very simple four color problem in Chapter Two
was not solved in a hundred years and the elegant
Copernican solar system must have been a bitter pill for the
scientific elite to swallow four hundred years ago. Recall
also, that in the 1970 Earth Week speech to the Engineers
Club, I proposed that by simply charging those polluting
our environment an appropriate fee based on the damages
the pollution causes, would have been more effective than
the complicated but not so effective licensing and
regulations that EPA has since worked out. (The fact that
forty years later, companies that use fracking procedures
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for increasing oil and gas yields don’t even have to report
everything that they are pumping into the wells or what
these operations release into the air. That is typical of
EPA’s impotency.)
Unemployment is unnecessarily contrived to be a
complicated problem. The situation is very simple – it
boils down to there being fewer man-hours required to
produce our GDP than willing workers. The solution is to
reapportion manpower hours which would reduce the work
load of individual workers. The more hands working, the
sooner you finish the job and can let everyone knock off to
go home, go for a refreshing dip in the river, or whatever.
Nothing could be simpler than that.
That reality works on the microscale (e.g. at our farm),
but made very complicated on the macro (state, federal or
global) scale. Instead, globally we do foolish things such
as reducing interest rates to stimulate the economy by
making it easier to buy unneeded stuff. That pleases Wall
Street, saves banks, and supposedly restores confidence in
the situation. Actually it accomplishes little more than
preserving the complicated situation that brought on the
high unemployment in the first place.
I won’t bore you with innumerable solutions for
solving the unemployment problem that don’t work with
which you could be familiar. They would show that the
problem is too complicated for anything that is logical or
politically acceptable.
Instead, consider simply reapportion man-hours to
include everyone that needs a job – say, cut worker’s week
to thirty-five hours so producers would need more workers.
The math works, but what can be done to bring it about?
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Doing so would throw everything out of kilter. Everything
in the world must adjust as it does when a pebble is tossed
into a pond, beginning with the pay rate of the employees
that would work fewer hours, and including, but not ending
with the standard of living in developing countries. Among
other things, it would dampen income disparity, upset our
trade balance and touch most all industries and service
institutions. As you can see, unemployment situation and
an appropriate solution on the microscale is simple and
doable, but trying to control unemployment on the
macroscale isn’t simple. Even so, the long term benefits
would outweigh immediate inconveniences if we allowed
fewer work hours in the week to come about naturally. It’s
bound to happen anyway without government intervention.
What the muses wanted the investigation to discover
was that the universe is simple and good, and that the
complexity is of our own making. Our troubles simply
result from our attempts to micromanage and improve on
the elegantly simple creation that we should not try to
micromanage.
Cause and effect relationships determined in the
laboratory are not necessarily applicable globally. That’s
because such determinations ignore realities which are
purposely avoided in laboratory determinations. We know
that if all the energetic molecules ricocheting about in this
room became regimented, we would be in trouble. I may
have overemphasized Gödel’s incompleteness theorem and
our arrogant attitude. A greater danger would be any
attempt to further regiment people. Doing so would
undermine any possibility of a viable, orderly global
culture.
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In critiquing everything, it’s easy to miss the elegant
simplicity that is the essence of everything. The muses
intervened to help me show that the emperor has no clothes
on, and I’m just now catching on.
Boltzmann’s disorder creates overall order. That’s
simple enough. But it seems counter intuitive to me
because of my background. It explains entropy, the portion
of energy that is not free to do work, the voltage of
flashlight batteries, the reactivity of chemicals, the size and
diversity of all earth’s creatures, possibly the size of
molecules, the speed of light, and more. It seems to explain
everything except human inexplicable behavior. That’s
because humans lack the needed freedom.
Before I began this inquiry, I was not aware of and had
no reason to look for the world’s elegant simplicity. I was,
however, not alone. Neither did philosophers, teachers,
astronomers, managers, chemists, other scientists,
legislators, doctors, lawyers or indian chiefs appreciate the
elegant simplicity of our surroundings.
Professionals have always been taught to appreciate
the complexities of their trade which must be preserved.
The respect of their profession depends on the belief that
their trade is beyond the comprehension of human inferiors.
It’s not necessary that they, as professionals or experts,
fully understand it all, either. Actually, not completely
understanding enables them to better mystify and impress
their inferiors with awesome, imaginative nonsense.
Don’t take my word for it. Consider this: If either of
two experts debating an issue really knew what they were
talking about, there would be fewer reasons to debate.
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Scientists, mathematicians, lawyers and such are
intentionally keeping their trades unnecessarily
complicated. Nobody is to blame. It’s just a bad side effect
of our wisdom that demands a rigid way of thinking. Our
wisdom requires us to build a complicated structure
involving sufficient distractive procedures that justify the
need for those possessing the wisdom. Unfortunately,
however, both the rigid structure and distractive procedures
spoil the pleasure of discovering the value and utility of the
elegant attributes of even simple stuff.
We desperately need a new way of thinking. That’s
what the muses had in mind. The global brain will
accomplish that. Our global brain will have seven billion
brain cells comprised of diverse humans, many of whom
will be more open than established human superiors to
consider elegantly simple solutions to what we presently
believe to be complex and conceptually difficult problems.
The new way of thinking will enable Boltzmann’s disorder
establish order and will keep us from destroying ourselves.
We desperately need a new way of thinking to curb
various global movements based on fear and hate.
Although you might think otherwise, I never intended to
frighten you. But there are a few scary issues we must deal
with which I believe will be resolved, if not by what I
suggested, then as always, at the brink with the equivalent
of band aids.
We desperately need the new way of thinking that our
global brain will provide. If and only if we develop that
new way of thinking should we expect to take advantage of
that elegant simplicity enjoyed by the rest of the world.
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Humans that are free to communicate through a global
network aren’t forced to tolerate the poor quality of
exchanged information and ideas. They must – they will
critique and demand improvement and eventually obtain
sufficient, reliable information so they might discern
elegant solutions. Since everything possesses that elegant
simplicity, human inferiors, communicating and
cooperating with each other, will outperform their superiors
because of their numbers and because their superiors prefer
keeping the issues unnecessarily complicated. I know that,
if allowed, everyone can help, because early in my career it
became obvious that those without my schooling could be
very helpful in troubleshooting and solving problems.
Their input is valuable since they are not distracted by the
contrived complexities that preoccupy the well informed.
The new way of thinking that we desperately need,
will evolve. It will make use of whatever information and
ideas that everybody, including both inferior and superior
humans can offer and definitively communicate. From that
information and ideas, all of us will discern and make
available knowledge of the elegant simplicity that we all
need to run our lives. Don’t worry; fortunately, the brain
will never have a way of gaining the means or the power to
micromanage individuals as the matrix is doing.
Restoring the freedom of humans to be responsible for
their own well-being and establishing a network for
communicating ideas and information will build that brain.
I sense that that movement is already in play.
Robert Reich’s 2010 book, Aftershock, shows a strong
correlation between what brought on the Great Recession
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of double-ought seven and the ridiculous situation in which
we find ourselves regarding our senseless consumption and
waste, and our inability to benefit from work and timesaving devices. Reich’s explanation for our existing
economic problems is backed by good numbers that I
should have used to support assertions regarding the
troubles caused by the matrix – by “laws properly so
called.” Read his book if you are not persuaded.
His suggested change in income tax structure will
definitely work. However, it would probably work too well
regarding the stalled economy and, as a result, would not
quash our conspicuous consumption and waste that will
bring about the next crisis. For an honest assessment of
what’s going on, we should be judging the health of our
economy by following our gross domestic median income
rather than by the GDP which skews the distribution of
income and wealth. Sufficient carbon tax will successfully
encourage the development of alternative sources of
energy, encourage energy conservation, ease rush hour
traffic and possibly retard global warming a bit.
Reich’s objective is to get the economy back on track.
That’s where we part company. That track is headed in the
wrong direction. More and more is surely more than we
should have to tolerate. We’ve got enough and it’s
becoming more and more difficult to out-consume and outwaste the other fellow. Moreover, the other fellow is
becoming less impressed and less envious and we no longer
get our anticipated rush by having wasted more.
According to Reich, to keep the present recession from
slipping into a real sure-enough depression, we need to get
money into the hands of those needing to buy things.
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People out of work need productive jobs. Rich and
successful people and organizations prefer to hoard their
money and aren’t helping. Rightfully so, you shouldn’t
blame them for waiting for the rest of us to reach rock
bottom where they can pick up desperately troubled and
hungry enterprises and employees at the best price.
It’s up to the government. There are plenty
worthwhile things that need to be done. The work should
be selected such that the value of that which is produced is
worth more than enough to offset costs. Doing so would
increase the country’s wealth so that temporarily going into
debt would be worthwhile. I believe that both Adam Smith
and John Maynard Keynes would agree.
But we needn’t go into debt to do this. Simply cut out
all the stimulus money that was supposed to kick start the
economy by trickling down. Set the pay to adequately
support a family working thirty-two or thirty-five hour
weeks doing productive work. Besides doing worthwhile
work and getting money into the hands of those who will
get it into circulation. Reducing the available work-force
will increase the value of the employed, resulting in a
healthier employee-employer relationship. Shortening the
workweek is all that’s needed to both directly reduce
unemployment and encourage employers to follow suit.
No regulations or laws mandating that would be required.
We like to be winners. It makes us feel good about
ourselves and keeps us going. Everyone should be
winners. If so, then that competitive spirit needs to be
directed in a way that will make winners of us all. The
communities that we are building with Jefferson’s yeomen
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perspective should be up to the task. Especially after we
get enough of our seven billion global inhabitants involved.
Why would anyone choose money or power as a
lifetime goal? There’s too much ugly competition; it’s a
lonely place to be, and the disparity sustains that isolation.
Why not opt for something creative such as art, literature,
sports, stamina and endurance for hard work, technological
ideas, handcraft, architectural design, ways to save energy,
entertainment, music, education, or athletic competition. I
admit that’s a pitiful list. Feel free to add to it. One can
feel good about meeting goals in any endeavor. Almost
anything should be more fulfilling than amassing wealth
and power.
For instance, I have an idea for a Rube Goldberg-like
design that would collect and put to use more than 60% of
the solar energy falling on my roof – enough energy to
power the whole farm including our home, well pumps for
irrigation, trucks, tractors and more. It’s doable and I will
design and build it if I live long enough. Just that active
work and anticipation will extend my life long enough, I
hope, to complete the job.
Being creative isn’t necessarily something one must do
by oneself. Being on a winning team should suffice. What
we all want, all seven billion of us, is a culture that works
for us all. All of us should choose to be on that winning
team. We will get there by being responsible individuals,
working with other responsible individuals, building
orderly communities and extended communities, working
together.
For those devoting their lives to amassing wealth,
achieving that less stressful life might not be so easy.
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Accumulating wealth and power is a waste of time.
Conspicuous consumption and waste and the need of
proving one’s prowess expresses one’s feeling of insecurity
and indicates an unhealthy state of mind. (By now, you
might justifiably suspect that my forte is not accumulating
wealth.)
Fill a glass with ice and water and stir it slowly with a
thermometer. As long as there is sufficient ice in the glass
the temperature will remain near 320F. The ice melting
indicates that the glass is being heated (receiving heat from
the surroundings). Not until most of the ice is melted will
the temperature begin to rise significantly.
In the same way, the melting ice caps, glaciers and
Greenland’s and Antarctica’s ice are holding our global
temperature down. When that ice is gone, our temperature
will begin rising fast.
Jet streams are wind hoola-hoops that race around the
world above and below the equator. They have a lot to do
with non-seasonal weather changes and presumably, they
are gaining energy from global warming. Angular
precession, the jet streams wobble, is blamed on the rapid
temperature drop that quick froze the woolly mammoths
that have been exposed in receding continental glaciers.
Hold your hat. You can bet that the weather is in for
changing in a big way.
Don’t expect the effect of global warming to be
gradual. All fluids have two characteristic ways of
flowing. They will abruptly change from a straight, nonturbulent flow to a turbulent flow as energy of the system
increases. Accordingly, one would expect the jet stream to
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change from its usual predictable straight west wind, which
meanders predictably, to a violent, swirling wobble. Wild
undulations will soon abruptly replace the predictable
pattern which will not return to what we presently consider
normal until the conditions that cause the change are
reversed.
In February 2007, Al Gore and Richard Branson
offered a $25 million prize for a solution to the global
warming problem. I suggested a plan that might reverse
the buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere. It’s a crazy plan – a
long shot, but one that has a significantly beneficial
potential that shouldn’t be ignored. I’m too old to take on
the project, besides it’s going to cost well over twenty-five
million to develop the idea. It would be a more productive
way for, say, NASA or DOE to spend our tax dollars, or for
Washington to invest some of the stimulus money or for a
portion of the billions currently going for less productive
research.
What I proposed is outrageous, but it’s too late for
anything short of that. It depends on scientists, smart
enough to develop lichen containing chlorophyll-bearing
algae and microbes that can reproduce itself at the harsh
conditions above the clouds. We have the technological
capability. It should be an easy project, less risky for us all
and possibly more productive, for those who are currently
genetically modifying our foods. If successful, the lichen
along with deficient trace elements would be injected above
the clouds as an aerosol. The algae and microbes would
immediately begin removing CO2 and producing
carbohydrates or fats while providing shade. Eventually
those products would rain down on earth. The fallout of
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about one gram per square foot may not be harmful.
Potentially it could create opportunities and improve the
fertility of our soil. On the other hand, it could create
problems that we must anticipate and be prepared to handle
and put to good use.
In our conventional myopic view, such a process,
won’t work, but if it did it would be inadvisable. It
couldn’t be economical because it won’t increase the gross
domestic product. It won’t be seriously considered because
it won’t make anybody rich. Products that can be
profitably produced with government stimulus that will
solve the global warming problem is what we are looking
for.
Researchers and developers are accustomed to the
development of things that can be sold at a profit. For
them, productivity, yield and immediate return on
investment are foremost in their minds. Fortunately, those
criteria don’t apply here. Our purpose is to spare our home
planet of what some believe might be a man-induced great
extinction. Sequestering CO2 above the clouds won’t
produce anything easily harvested, but the reaction
wouldn’t have to be very efficient space-wise because there
is plenty of room for it to take place and sun exposure, or
yield-wise because the raw materials and energy are free.
This will make the job easier for the otherwise reluctant
researchers and developers. It’s probably the best bet for
reversing the buildup of greenhouse gasses. The potential
lives it could save and the cost of relocating people, coastal
cities and restoring or replacing agricultural, commercial
and manufacturing facilities and infrastructure will easily
justify its cost. So, why not seriously consider it?
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Good grief. Had this critique been a sermon, there
were many good opportunities to close. (That’s how I
judge sermons.) The fewer missed opportunities, the
better. But this isn’t a sermon. It’s an open-ended research
project.
Doing research, I begin with a question or an idea,
check the literature, estimate technical and economical
feasibility, get approval, do lab work, revise estimated
feasibilities, get approval, do more lab work, revise
estimates, design and run bench scale studies, revise
estimates, get approval of a more significant budget, design
and operate pilot plant, revise estimates . . . . The learning
and improving process never ends, even after reaching full
production. Getting the approvals is the hardest part and
keeps one focused. Technical and economic feasibility
must be sold throughout the project.
Many of the topics that have been covered could be
considered standalone essays, but they are more than that.
They are a collection of information that needs to be
considered regarding the fate of our society. Since the
study is not a logical endeavor, all pieces must fit. But not
necessarily perfectly.
Feeling slightly uneasy about the dependence on a
global brain for resolving certain details, I submit the
following scripture for your consideration:
And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and
they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and
now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have
imagined to do.
GENESIS 11:6
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One needn’t be religious to appreciate the wonderful
insight into human nature that the Bible provides.
Accordingly, it suggests that if we recover our ability to
communicate with each other, nothing will be impossible.
That’s proof enough. Restoring our ability to communicate
will free us from our homemade Quagmire – possibly as
outlined in this book.
Thomas S. Szasz’s 1973 book, The Second Sin
suggested that biblical reference. I had referred to his book
because I felt I needed some help from a psychiatrist. My
psychiatrist friend had retired at ninety and is no longer
with us. I knew our vindictive justice was wrong and had
to be changed; but how? Szasz’s answer:
There can be no humane penology so long as
punishment masquerades as “correction.” No person or
group has the right to “correct” a human being; only God
does. But persons and groups have the right to protect
themselves through sanctions that are, and should be
called, “punishments,” which, of course, may be as mild
as a scolding or a fine, or as severe as life imprisonment
or death.
We can live with that as long as we limit the
sanctions to those that do no more than protect us. Our
restored way of thinking will probably improve on that
answer.
Present day confusion that Szasz identifies with the
inability to communicate, imposed on the people of Babel,
is what I identify as contrived complexity. Szasz’s ridicule
was directed primarily at the psychiatric profession and has
more to do with language.
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. . . . it matters not whether confusion and stupefaction
are inspired divinely, governmentally, or psychiatrically
– the result is the same: the parentification of authority
and the infantilization of nearly everyone else.
I agree. Language is important, but language is not the
only way to create confusion.
Though narrower in scope, the information and ideas in
The Second Sin corroborates my findings and should
improve the approval rating of the ideas in this
investigation.
Ability to communicate by plain and proper use of
language by most everyone, especially those in authority, is
essential. The world is not complicated and should not be
made to appear so by contrived confusing language or
precedential fuzzy thinking.
My grandmother instructed me to never say “I don’t
know. Say anything but that. Say what you think might be
the case or whereabouts or whatever.” So, for those who
might wonder what was so sinful about the original sin, or
sinful about our ability to communicate, the following
possible explanation is offered to oblige my grandmother:
We were not ready for all that wisdom in one dose, and our
ability to communicate would enable us, working together,
to get into serious trouble. That makes sense, after all, as
parents, we keep things from our children when they are
too young and are, otherwise, apt to maim or kill
themselves.
The time is right. We are ready to use that wisdom.
We may now retrieve the ability to communicate, begin
developing the potent way of thinking that uses all our
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brains and replaces our present dangerous self-destructive
culture with a sustainable one.
A critique of absolutely EVERYTHING? Surely you
didn’t expect that. A fellow can absorb no more than his
restless body can endure. Besides, I’m exhausted. We
have more than enough interesting possibilities for a good
start, and I’m confident that we are ready to manage that
wisdom that we have mismanaged since our fall. We must
– we will extend the cognitive power of our brain, with
further improved technology to include everyone in the
world. Our extended human intelligence will be even more
powerful than any elite think tank or electronic cognitive
computers being developed to predict weather, economic
hazards, or to control military drones. It will be smart
enough to take on the matrix. Combining the wisdom and
that potential cognitive power should enable us to develop
a sustainable culture that everyone can enjoy. Everyone.
All that it should take to bring this about is to continue
building functioning communities of people that understand
and have the energy and courage to actively support the
simple idea that all competent individuals should be
allowed to accept responsibility for their own well-being.
That, and properly communicating, will eventually save us
from the awful destination that the road that we are paving
has been taking us.
Someday, all of us will enjoy the wonderful life we
have been missing. It can happen. No, it is happening.
Join the crowd.
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BONUSES
Soon after buying and moving to the farm, we
realized that most of the litter that we were picking up was
wrappings, cups, cans and bottles of well-advertised
products. Those tossing the litter are obviously reached
and influenced by the advertisers. We should take
advantage of that and enlist those advertisers in our
struggle against litter since their persuasive know-how
could then effectively reduce littering.
We know prohibition and laws are not effective in
controlling perpetrators since littering is their way of
marking territory and defying laws to demonstrate their
prowess -- their right to do any damn thing they please. It’s
an attitude problem. Getting advertisers on the job is a no
brainer. They are probably the only ones that can reach and
persuade the litterers that it’s not smart to do dumb things,
such as littering.
The public’s perceptions and behavior are readily
shaped by advertising. The First Amendment inhibits the
ability to control the advertisers with regulations. But since
advertisers are selling stuff, they are sensitive to the
concerns of large groups of buyers. That will be us.
Presently there is little we can do. But as we build
our communities of sensible people and upgrade the
electronic communication network to the point that it
becomes ergonomic enough to foster more precise
exchanges needed for our building unanimity, we will
become a threat to all producers of offending products. No
written or spoken threat will be necessary since advertisers
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know their job. Our growing numbers simply need to let
our degree of unanimity and resolve show.
That’s one example of the bonuses we should expect.
Finally, we will win that endless battle with litterers.
Following the plan proposed in this book, we will get good
and better control over problems with fewer laws. The
same strategy may be applied to many other problems
caused by heavily-advertised products where governments
and determined would-be reformers are embarrassingly
helpless.
Some heavily-promoted products cause costly
chronic health care problems. Alcohol, sugary drinks and
snacks, salty foods and snacks, prescription narcotics and
addictive sleep, pain, weight and mood control pills,
tobacco and products containing undisclosed substances
such as herbicides, insecticides, antibiotics and hormones,
all of which could have adverse long-term effects, many of
which are yet to be discovered. All are problematic.
The cost is enormous due to the chronic nature of
what those products cause and the duration of expensive
care and treatments. These expenses are an important item
that runs up the cost of health care for everybody, including
the young and healthy who must buy insurance that
supports less healthy people.
In spite of our good intensions, we have never gotten
beyond the question of how the growing outrageously
costly health care expenses are going to be paid. The
question should be, why not enlist the help of the
competent advertisers of the products that cause a large
portion of the problem. To sell those products, they must
know how to reach and influence their consumers. They
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could use that know-how to change behavior and
perceptions in a way that could make a big difference.
As essentially unanimous connected buyers, we will
have a lot of power. We can do more than force producers
to utilize their ability to shape behavior and perceptions to
correct problems caused by what they sell to us. Buyers of
any of their products can exert pressure on the producers
that produce problematic stuff or pollute. We could require
that they clean up their trash, stop polluting and provide,
say, health care, maintain clinics and extended care for
those that become addicted to their products. Why not? As
buyers, we are the only ones that have that power within a
truly free enterprise economy. The economy could be freer
than it is now, since consumer groups influence will be able
to replace government control which we know to be
ineffective.
All litterers don’t litter to inflate their egos. Some do
it to get a kick out of raising public ire with their
outrageous behavior. Then there are hopeless souls.
Advertisers may find a way to persuade most all but the
hopeless ones. There will certainly be that remnant.
To take care of that, the producers could pay youth
gangs to pick up remnant litter. A positive approach to that
would enable gangs to become community assets.
Advertisers are most apt to succeed since they understand
you can’t sell to a group that you believe shouldn’t exist.
That belief disqualifies government agents and most dogooders. Gang leaders would prove their worth and
unemployed members would have a legitimate source of
income – both outcomes would be healthy steps toward
making responsible citizens out of gang members. Could
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any other plan do so much? – picking up remnant litter and
saving some misguided youths!
We won’t know for sure that we are on the right road,
or that the global brain is working until we can begin
cashing in our bonuses. That not happening in a reasonable
time would indicate that we are not properly connected,
that we had not yet learned what Michael Faraday knew –
how to apply the three Rs. We should have begun learning
that back in grade school, along with how to read and write.
Fortunately, people that accept responsibility for their own
welfare will intuitively know that, or quickly realize its
necessity and take appropriate steps.
Establishing that connection, that is, the ability and
sense to apply the three Rs in precise verbal and written
communications, will produce other bonuses. It will do a
superior job of educating everyone at all levels, and do it
without the outrageous tuition and so much wasted time.
Instead, everyone will enjoy learning and sharing
information and ideas throughout their whole life.
How about that! I suspect that is the jewel toward
which the muses have been steering my meanderings. To
see why, revisit INSATIABLE HUNGER, the second
subtitle in Chapter One. It’s not just because we have a lot
to learn. Those who don’t already know it will discover
how fulfilling learning and exchanging information and
ideas can be. Think back to preschool days or observe your
children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren to remind
you of preschool days. We can extend that ability to
experience the same exhilarating experiences throughout
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our lives -- of coming upon or uncovering surprises,
exploring possibilities and ideas, learning, expressing
experiences, ideas and discoveries to contemporaries, or
how to use, do or create new things. I’m convinced that
our insatiable hunger for more and more stuff, money or
power will be quenched by the stimulus of sharing
information and ideas that shall come about.
No, it’s not the stimulus of sharing, but the loving
relationship aspect of those youthful experiences. Easy and
open, direct and transmitted communications will make
possible learning and sharing of information and ideas that
develop into the loving relationships that we must be
starved for.
These and other bonuses will encourage those on the
fence to join the crowd.
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