One of my favorite subtitles ever is from a book by E. F. Shumaker. The book is “Small Is Beautiful” and the subtitle is “economics as if people mattered”.
Today, As Mitch McConnell goes for the slam dunk on healthcare “reform” after trying so many times, I wonder if he’s playing the right game. Mitch, like Donald Trump, is playing “Power Politics” — with the goal being, “Can I make people do my will?” Or “Let me show you who’s in charge”. Power politics is a display of power, and it is a game that comes with lucrative contracts and endorsement deals between the professionals that play it. The game doesn’t require anyone but the pros to play it. There need be no audience for the spectacle. In fact the teams would prefer there not be an audience.
I’d much rather see a game of “democracy”, which is an audience participation sport, with people in the stands getting on and off the court. In democracy, the point is to take care of the most people, allowing them to have “life”, then letting them decide what liberty and the pursuit of happiness looks like, all the while either playing by the honor system or having refs enforce the rules so that nobody gets injured or killed.
Today, the Democrats put out a new concept/branding thing, called “A Better Deal”, which I understand calls for the government to actually police Wall Street, and not rely on it so heavily for support. The positive to this? Democracy needs referees. The bad news? They are saying that they weren’t doing their job before, and they were complicit in creating the wealth divide in this country. Well, confession is good for the soul, I guess, but they are not saying anything we didn’t already knew.
That means that what we’ve had is one party interested in telling us what to do, breeding fear and mistrust and the other party looking the other way, protecting the interests of those who have money. Does anyone in this picture appear to be looking out for 90% of the American people? No. Why do they feel helpless, like no one represents them? Because they are and no one does … at least not yet.
So, let’s start the other way. 90% of the people have 90% of the votes, and get 90% of the representation. Bills passed should be about them 90% of the time.
What do they need or want?
1) Food. No American should go to bed hungry, or malnourished.
2) Clothing. People should be able to afford clothing that fits their circumstances.
3) Shelter. No American should freeze to death, or die of the heat. They should have a place to rest/sleep, a place to use the bathroom, store their belongings and simply be.
4) Meaning in their lives and someplace to go during the day where they can connect with others. Simply put, they need work to do, and jobs to go to. Since society is created by humans for humans, we need to make choices that include them. Automate? Replace waitresses, cashiers, bankers with machines? Why, when people need jobs? Any job that can be done by humans ought to be done by humans. When everyone who needs a job has one, then we can automate.
5) A system that takes care of people when bad things happen to them or gives them help when they need it. This means healthcare when they get sick, but it also means things like helping them participate in life — being accessible for all people.
6) A knowledge of the law and constitution, so that they can participate in the making of rules that impact their lives. Every citizen should have a copy of the US Constitution in the language they understand. Every American should take a civics class so they know how the system works now and be empowered to make rules that work for them.
There are other things that the government should do, certainly. Education comes to mind. But let’s strive for the things above — especially the first three — and work out the details from there.
Will it take a lot of work? Oh, yeah, it will.
1) corporate America wants us to/ believes we want processed foods,
2) The clothing/fashion industry robs all ends of the process of making and buying clothes by using sweatshops to make clothes cheaply and then charging exorbitant prices for a brand.
3) People see housing as an investment rather than as a place to live.
4) People get their information via technology rather than from each other. The technology isolates us, and helps us fear each other. Actually being together will fix any irrational fear we might have. Doing something with our time — making something, doing something, helping someone — allows us to feel like we matter.
5) Death is a part of life, but people now want to force others to do it, while they live longer and use more resources. That’s “power”, not democracy.
6) The people who live under the rules are often the people who don’t know what the rules are, leaving those in power to make the rules for others, not themselves. Those who believe in the rule of law need lawyers to do so. Right now, lawyers look for weaknesses in the system and help the powerful avoid the rule of law. They get rewarded well for doing this.
So governing like people matters will require a great change to our hearts and minds, and we will have to take on corporations, greedy individuals, people who like power and glitz, food corporations, the fashion industry, and the legal establishment, technology companies, the stock market, and those who push us to remain ignorant of how things work. The fact that we have to work so hard is a testament to how far off of having a democracy we are. Still, I think we need to try.
Resisting with Peace,