Wednesday, May 6, 2009

“Do Pigs Fly?“

I have a great respect for all this country represents to the world. For all its foibles throughout history, in the final analysis, we have done pretty well in terms of what we have accomplished. I have had the good fortune of living through over seventy years of that history. Like all reasonably rational people, I have had my moments and have not hesitated to voice them. But, like a good marriage, if it is going to work and stand the test of time, you have to have the courage to disagree and hold true to your convictions when the situation calls for it, but remain committed through it all. I am not an ideologue. I do not deal in absolutes. That is irresponsible and unfair to this country.

I have witnessed quite an evolution and metamorphosis in our national fabric during my lifetime. I regard the best decades of my life the 1940’s, 1950’s and the 1960‘s. The awful war that struck fear in the heart of a young boy came to an end. Those thousands of young men came home full of hope and promise for the future. As a nation, we were so proud of what they had accomplished and we stood strong on the principles that had led us to victory, principles that we knew would shape this country for some time to come. To be sure, we had the stain on our history of the incarceration of the Japanese-Americans, the second-class citizenship of African-Americans and, the most forgotten of all, the Native Americans. But we were a good and decent people who had the where- with-all to address those issues in a fair and just manner. That was just a part of who and what we were. After what our nation had been through, we were all very mindful of the fact that we were a part of the international family of nations and our world would never be quite the same because of it. We were ready and willing to make things better in peace just as we had in war. We may not have always been absolutely certain about issues, but we knew it was within us to rise to the occasion improvement always demands.
Beginning with the decade of the 1970’s I saw a decline in that sense of decency that was such an integral part of us as a people. I don’t necessarily take great umbrage at the objectives, but I do with the manner in which we have chosen to realize those objectives. Our frame of reference appears to have shifted from one of “we” to one of “me.” We talk a good story what with all the rhetoric about diversity, inclusiveness, etc., but in the process we have lost sight of what is just good old common sense. We seem to be more content with what is expedient and trite than what may be arduous but right. We rationalize and accept the baser sides of our human nature because we don’t have the fortitude to stand on principle and defend common decency as a virtue. Our colleges and universities, once the bastions of reason and discourse, have become little more than sophisticated vocational institutes and high tech trade schools.

As a former executive, I learned to accept the fact that all formal organizations are political and can have a will of their own, which is not always noble. Responsible ownership and good management strive to nurture a higher purpose, keep focused on the dynamics of the market and maintain a healthy competitive edge. Fundamental to success in that regard is a sound plan for the future and a self-correcting planning process. Most conceptualize that process into short-term, intermediate and long-range goals. Ideally, the efficacy of that process is evaluated at the end of each year, with appropriate adjustments made in each of the three phases based on the results of the past year. Good planning requires commitment, discipline and objectivity. It cannot be done by the seat of your pants and for no other reason than because it is required. It has to be done because it is essential and imperative to a viable and healthy organization.

Despite being a collection of elitists and egalitarians, I suspect most of us would agree that the Founding Fathers probably put together one of the most enduring plans ever conceived as a blueprint for a democratic form of government. All of the essential elements were put in place for governing the new nation that had been created. However, like all organized efforts, the job is never done. It is continually evolving with the tides of time and history. For it to be a healthy process, the changes brought about through the process of historical evolution must be evaluated in terms of their subsequent impact. That has been our most egregious failing, which has brought about an evolution that has not necessarily resulted in an orderly, healthier or more viable form of democracy. That is the scrutiny that was essential from the outset, but which has rarely, if ever, occurred in fact.

With the passage of every amendment, law, court decision, etc., it would appear as if no one ever stopped and asked the question, “Where is all this taking us?” “What are the intended consequences of this action?” And, further down the road after the fact, “What have been the unintended consequences?” Did anyone bother to ask? Did anyone care? We seem to have forged full speed ahead without the remotest notion of what had been wrought by one fleeting moment of dubious enlightenment. Over 200 years of history and no one seems to have been the least bit concerned about the end result of actions that had a profound and lasting effect on the intent of the Founding Fathers and the future of the Republic! Isn’t that rather like putting the Titanic on autopilot in the middle of an ice flow?

Today we have the largest collection of the dregs of humanity in our Nation’s Capitol to be found in any city and its surrounding environs anywhere in the world. The stench from all they are and are not rises to the heavens in one gigantic sickening affront to God. The place is teeming with people who are totally amoral, lacking any concept of right vs. wrong, honor, decency, character, integrity, etc. The four branches of government live to foster their own vested self interests at the expense of those they have been elected to serve. They are aided and abetted by corporations, lobbyists, media celebrities, oligarchs, plutocrats, etc. We are fed a diet of deception that numbs the senses and deceives us as to what our reality actually is. The nation suffers, writhing in agony while they indulge their own gluttonous, materialistic and hedonistic appetites as they shower us with hollow words and lofty promises. They are where they are and what they are because of their collective and cunning ability to prostitute the spirit and intent of the Constitution for their own ends. Any semblance of what we have vs. what was intended by the Founding Fathers is purely coincidental.

I wonder what the outcome would be if the entire history of our government was subjected to the rigors and principles of sound planning by the best and brightest minds that could be assembled. What do you think would be the outcome if a collection of graduate students, from the finest universities and colleges in the United States, and in disciplines that relate to the functions of government, was assembled for the explicit purpose of engaging in a retrospective assessment of the actions of our federal government from its inception to the present day? The focus would have to be on the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, the Judicial Branch, and all agencies attached and subordinate thereto. Every amendment, piece of legislation, legal opinion and executive order of major significance would need to be scrutinized against a backdrop of two fundamental questions: (a) what were the intended consequences of those actions, and (b) what are the unintended consequences of those actions? Where an obvious conflict exists between intent and outcome, then what actions would have to be taken in order to render the outcome compatible with the intent?

A published report of such an endeavor would result; I am sure, in panic the likes of which this country has never seen. We would probably find that we are faced with the daunting task of restoring integrity and clarity of purpose to our system of government. The rats that have for so long fed on the putrid flesh provided by the largesse of the power structure within our nation’s capitol, and all those who do their bidding, would flee into the night in fear of all that would be revealed by the light of day. The fresh air generated by the winds of change needed to restore intent and integrity to our government might just get us back on track with the vision of those who gathered so long ago to found this fledgling republic.

Were such an idea to take root, you can bet that every political hack, vested interest, lobbyist, banker, defense contractor and corporate news media pundit would pounce on it, claiming that it was some sort of a subversive plot to destroy our “American way of life!” It would be like watching a swarm of flies on a pile of fresh cow manure on a hot Wyoming summer day!

Could it happen? Would it happen? Do pigs fly?

Cowboy Bob
May 6, 2009