Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The moral order of humane government

Bush has announced his choice for the Supreme Court by nominating Judge John G. Roberts. An interesting item about Roberts is his assocation with a case involving a 12-year-old arrested for eating french fries in a subway station as reported here, here, and the subsequent court ruling here. The opening of the AP story goes:
16 Nov 2000

Girl Arrested for Eating in Subway

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The mother of a 12-year-old girl who was handcuffed, booked and fingerprinted for eating French fries in a subway station says police went too far.

"I can't believe there isn't a better way to teach kids a lesson," said Tracey Hedgepeth, whose daughter Ansche was arrested. "The police treated her like a criminal."

As a result of the court ruling the DC Police policy was changed from arrest in handcuffs to a written warning and a letter to the parent(s). Even so, the problem is not that people are eating but that they are littering and using the open environment as a trash can. See photo in a blog entry below about the Live8 concert in London.

Going deeper however, there is something even more fundamental at work and it is not contained to America alone as the photo of the London stadium shows. What is at work is a profound lack of care and respect for anything except one's own pleasure. At the root of this phenomenon is the leadership of the government.

Confucius said: "Lead the people with governmental measures and regulate them by law and punishment, and they will avoid wrongdoing but will have no sense of honor and shame. Lead them with virtue and regulate them by the rules of propriety, and they will have a sense of shame and, moreover, set themselves right."

What this mean is that if the government is humane, it will lead the people by its own example of protecting the environment, encouraging good stewardship, and taking responsibility for reducing the trash it generates. More importantly, the government will treat the people as if they matter rather than treat them as trash to be dumped in the street, or in this case, in the station or in the train cars.

The principle here is: treat the people like trash and trash is what you get.


When Wesley Clark announced his presidential candidacy in Sept. 2003 and was doing a town hall meeting Henniker, NH, I became a New American Patriot that day. I rather consider myself a New American Clarkista tho because I liked Clark's "higher standard of leadership."

While I'm not into having a military to blow people to bits or reduce their cities or their country to rubble, I do like its organizational structure and lines of communication. However, as with all organizations it is only as good as the people in it and the kind of discipline and motivation they have.

There are two kinds of leadership.

One is the authoritarian kind that uses coercive power to get people to do things. This is known as hard power. Unfortunately, it is this kind of power that attracts corrupt people.

The other kind of leadership is about team-building and has two phases of operation. The first phase is the project phase where the team comes together to plan whatever needs planning. Everyone is equal and decisions are made democratically. The second phase is the execution phase where the plan is implemented. This is where the team leader becomes the central point of communications and makes on the ground decisions to ensure smooth coordination with the other team members. It also about getting people to do what they already want to do rather than what they don't want to do. This is done by having a noble heart, genuine concern for others, and seeking the talents that each person has. This is called soft power.

As an organization grows there comes a need to split groups into more manageable sizes and hence the hierarchy was born. While it was often in terms of authority and command, mainly military, that this hierarchy was needed, it works pretty well for any kind of organization. The leadership in any organization can use either of the above two types whether hard or soft power.

It is obvious to me that between the Dems and the GOP, the GOP is a hard power organization. The Dems, unfortunately, lack any kind of leadership at all, but I will give Howard Dean some leeway since he's still at the beginning of his chairmanship.

Unfortunately, the point I began with has evaporated from my mind except to say that should Clark run in '08 I'll be part of Clark's Army. If not, I'm still operating on his vision of a higher standard leadership for America.

I'll get back to this later.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


From the Minneapolis Star Tribune today Norm Coleman said:
"My Democratic friends would be doing the nation a great service if they spent half as much time getting legislation passed that will benefit the country as they do in attacking Karl Rove," Coleman said.

The fiaso in Iraq and the Republican attack on Social Security is benefitting the country how? I'd like to know how the Republicans' bankrupting the country has done anything to "benefit the country" other than to make their political donors even more wealthy while making everyone else drown debt.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

A culture of narcissism

A man shifts though the rubbish left behind at the Live 8 concert site in London's Hyde Park, Sunday

I found this photo over at the peak oil forum talking about the Live 8 concert.

What this picture tells me is something even more fundamental than the disconnect between going to a concert and stopping poverty. It's about growing up.

There is a code among hikers that if you "pack it in, you pack it out" meaning that if you brought it with you, you take it back out when you leave, especially the trash. The mountains and the great outdoors are not a trash can. Nor are public spaces, but you could've fooled me from the looks of it in the picture.

What does this say about a people, a culture, who believe themselves to be the height of freedom and democracy and Western civilization but instead act like the most spoiled children on the planet who have yet to learn to pick up after themselves? If this is the best we have to offer the world, the sooner we get rid of it and replace it with something more responsible that teaches people to respect the world they live in and not pollute it to the point of making it unsanitary and unlivable the better.