Kevin C Shinn

Kevin C Shinn

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Power does not exist in a vacuum

Power does not exist in a vacuum. It is either controlled by those who run corporations or those who have amassed massive wealth or by those who control government. Our Founding Fathers were not naïve simpletons who placed power in the hands of man based upon good will alone. They gave us a system in which the actions of our elected officials may be monitored and drawn into the light of public scrutiny and even the poor have a voice. This does not mean that the rich have no influence but when organized and armed with a passionate cause, regular people have the capacity to set the rules by which they live regardless of their circumstances. It also does not infer that the common man is always right and the rich are always wrong, it merely means the resources exist for a balanced playing field which has not existed for mankind throughout history.

The fact that Barack Obama could be elected following a two-term George Bush demonstrates exactly how much control the American people have over the political process while simultaneously demonstrating the volatility of the electorate’s judgment.

"Out, out, brief candle!

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing."

A favorite tactic of the Tea Party zealots has become the use of historical references as a justification for the most tenuous connections. Waving the banner of Socialism as a form of Scarlet Letter while attempting to brand the policies of the Democratic Party as un-American is yet another example of their intellectually void approach to winning political arguments.  It is not a coincidence that the United States became a superpower at the same time that the federal government enacted waves of social programs designed to improve the conditions of the working class.

The tired mantra of the Republican Party that somehow Democrats long for a Soviet Union style government is trite and absent any true intellectual foundation. The reality is that the United States is a unique combination of capitalism and socialism and has been for nearly a hundred years. No legitimate voice of the Democratic Party advocates the total control of the private sector by the government yet the leading voices of the Republican Party proudly champion an unfettered capitalistic system oblivious of the poverty and corruption which coincides in such an arrangement.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Now is the Time!

Power in the hands of man is always subject to abuse and corruption but only under our system of government do the people have a voice in bringing it under control. Too many hide behind flourishes of rhetoric in condemning the last, best hope of mankind which is our government. For those who have grievances against the system, and I am sure there are many, our Founders provided an effective way for the people to address and correct them. But it requires true Patriots who are willing to roll up their sleeves and wade into the political arena to make it work. Life is what we make it; not what we wish it would be. Sitting on the sidelines chanting a “Pox on both your houses” neither solves anything nor inspires others to rise up to a higher level.

Grade school tactics used by the Right-wing in this country such as substituting derogatory words in the place of the correct ones in titles such as Clinton News Network or National Propaganda Radio is no substitute for ideas and fails to illicit legitimate ideas of reform from those who choose to take up such a challenge. The folly is not in thinking we are free but in failing to recognize that freedoms do not come without responsibilities. A child is free to live in their parent’s home but subject to the rules of their father. History demonstrates the need for a people to bond together against common enemies and the benefits of such collaboration. American history is filled with such inspirational tales and it is the ignorance and bastardization of our past that should stir anger in the hearts of every American. Together, and in large part because of our government, unions, and the unique nature of our economic system, Americans have achieved an unparalleled level of prosperity and freedom.

I do not condemn the rich for their success but I do demand that they acknowledge that their success is in no small measure due to the stability provided by our system of government. "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." Luke 12:48.

And as for the number of poor who live in our great nation, it is time we start asking the right questions instead of repeating the drivel which trickles out of the gnarled lips of corporate fat cats intent on shaking the last nickel out of the pocket of the working man in order to benefit themselves and their fettered progeny. The question should be, “Why at a time when the wealthiest Americans are getting richer every day is poverty in our nation allowed to grow unchecked?” The question should be, “Why would our nation choose to follow a path of governance which grows the number of rich with homes on both coasts and other countries while record numbers of hard-working Americans suffer the indignities of foreclosure and bankruptcy?” The question should be, “Why are working class Americans rallying as torch bearers for the very corporate toadies who despise them?”

I am both a proud American and a proud member of the Democratic Party and the time has come for this nation to rise up and smite the arrogant purveyors of ignorance which have gripped the Republican Party and this nation right straight in their pompous mouths and send them packing back into the dens of inequity where they so rightfully belong.

It is time we quit giving an audience to those among us who wish to reduce our great nation to the dust bin of history and return us to the agrarian past where land barons owned the property and all those who toiled upon it. It takes no great rhetorical mastery to divide and to tear down those who wish to build and create. All it takes is for one vocal person armed with a grudge and a sharp tongue to repress the dreams of thousands. But America was not built by those petty people and history holds no monuments to their negativity. We are a bigger people than that. Our history is bigger than that. Somewhere in this great land are a multitude of leaders ready to inspire us to build the next generation of dreams for ourselves and for the world. Somewhere, there is the next team of visionaries ready to inspire us to tackle tasks beyond our grasp because that is what we as Americans do. We don’t come face to face with challenges and decide they are insurmountable and wring our hands in lamentation praying for a higher power to lift us from our dilemma. We grab those obstacles by the throat and kick them in the ass and move on thanking God he gave us the power to take care of ourselves on this Earth until the time comes for us to join Him in His home.

In the United States of America, the Tea Party and the Republican Party have loudly and with great fervor worked tirelessly to reign in the dreams of our people. They have sowed the seeds of discord throughout our land in a despicable attempt to make our young people believe the best of America is in her past. It is a lie. It is a damned lie and it is time Democrats join together to crush that lie and replace it with the vision of hope that has been the foundation of our party and its principles.

God bless America!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ron Paul's Flight of Fantasy

Ron Paul and his simplistic view of the world certainly doesn't scare me but his positions on too many issues are not based on reason. For example, look at his positions on healthcare. Paul rails against Obama's plan as if the government backed program would diminish the quality of our healthcare system. Yet, it was the private-market system that has been driving our country to bankruptcy sucking one out of every five dollars into its gluttonous abyss. There are certain areas which should be within the public realm; such as, national defense, police, fire, EMS, and many believe, medical. He favors allowing citizens to purchase insurance across state lines but fails to articulate how he would address the problem which has prevented it from being done in the past which deals with regulation. Currently, states regulate the policies provided within their borders but by allowing them to cross state lines that will require federal regulation. His opposition to mandatory catastrophic insurance coverage means that those of us who have insurance will continue to have to subsidize the freeloaders who do not. I agree with many of his foreign policy positions but I believe he is wrong about Afghanistan. Iran and Pakistan are significant concerns for our nation. It is not US foreign policy which has destabilized Pakistan, it is their corrupt leadership which has been in place for decades and the extremist groups that have developed a following within the country that has destabilized their regime. Having our forces in the area allows us to have legitimate influence in the region. That said, I am not an advocate of the US being the leader in building Afghanistan or Iraq into a productive economy at the expense of our own.

Paul's perspective that rational citizens do not have a right to draft laws to ensure a "well-regulated" gun industry is not reasonable. Citizens have the right to restrict all rights for reasonable causes. You still cannot yell fire in a crowded theatre because of the public health risk. Automatic weapons and large capacity clips are neither for hunting Bambi nor rational self-defense needs. I frankly believe that it is merely a macho attempt to over-compensate for personal inadequacies in other areas. I could be wrong.

Paul's support of homeschooling simply ignores the obvious lack of accountability placed on those who choose their mommas and daddies as instructors in addition to the loss of socialization that public schools have provided over time in producing the melting pot. How many people are truly adequate to instruct their children in the full range of subjects that are offered to a typical high school student? The answer is not a head scratcher as even a modicum of research can demonstrate. The true rationale for pulling children out of public schools is more typically the result of a fundamentalist approach to religion which champions ignorance over reason or because parents make the decision that for financial reasons, the child's education must take a backseat to the immediate needs of the family. It is unAmerican and it should be heavily restrained and children subjected to such environments should be routinely examined to determine if they are making legitimate academic progress or if their basic skills are being allowed to atrophy.

And finally, his anti-union bias is either naive or disingenuous. To assail the excesses of organized labor without acknowledging the greater evil done under the banners of corporations makes Paul either a fool or a lackey for the Chamber of Commerce. Safe working conditions, a 40 hour work week, overtime, minimum wage, Worker's Compensation and a host of other benefits for the working class people were earned at a high price by union members and the Democratic Party. It is time that those who work for a living recognize the damnable lie perpetrated on them every day by the agents of the wealthy elite in this country and rise up and smite them before it is too late and we lose the very protections we have come to cherish.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Rising Tide of Dumb

When the Founding Fathers debated and established our government, there were many who feared democracy and compared it to rule by the mob. It was their fear that the masses would be guided more by their passion than their intellect. Today, as even a relatively partial observer can note the fears of those cautious Founders appear to have been fairly grounded. On issue after issue, large numbers of our citizens vocally express their ignorance with a degree of pride that must have Alexander Hamilton spinning wildly in his grave.
In the world's most successful democratic society, the very people who benefit most from our political system are often the most oblivious to its structure and foundations. Doubt this? Conduct your own survey. Ask those around you a series of questions about celebrities and their performances and you are likely to hear an extended monologue concerning their value to our society. Ask those same people about the specifics of the contributions made by our Founders or even ask them specific questions about our current leaders and you are likely to either be enveloped in silence or caught in a deluge of rhetoric based on biased, non-factual emotional rants. Rarely will you be engaged in a principled discussion of the most pressing issues facing society.
Too many want to spew their personal moral views on a woman's right to control her own body, or who has the right to marry whom or whose view of God is more correct. Where are the passionate discussions about the factors necessary to keep our political system viable? Where is the public debate on the legitimate need for a fair distribution of economic opportunity in this nation? Who is factually raising the concern of having a failed state on our southern border? Who is openly talking about the changing nature of our society caused by the aging of the Baby Boomers? How many people are actively discussing the rising challenges posed to our future by China and India? On significant issue after issue, the public debate simply does not exist. Instead, our nation is channeled to the melodrama of sensational trials or the latest buzz in the entertainment industry.
There is a rising tide of dumb in this nation and if not stemmed soon, we run the very real risk of being drowned in a sea of ineptitude.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

False Issue: Republic or Representative Democracy

The current rhetoric surrounding the issue as to whether the United States is a republic or a representative democracy has been sparked by those intent on dividing our people as a distraction from other, far more important issues and continues to be stoked by well-intentioned Americans whose passion has simply been misguided by nefarious forces. When the Founding Fathers came together to form what has become the most successful form of government for a free people in the history of our planet, they had no template to draw from and few sources to try and cobble together a new government to replace the failed Articles of Confederation.

Few expected this new document to last forever, most notably Ben Franklin, one of the few Americans of the time with an international reputation. On Monday, September 17, 1787, during the last day of the Constitutional Convention, Ben wanted to give a short speech to the Convention prior to the signing of the final draft of the Constitution. Too weak to actually give the speech himself, he had fellow Pennsylvanian James Wilson deliver the speech. It is considered a masterpiece.

The following is as reported in Madison's notes on the Convention for Monday, September 17, 1787.
“Mr. President

I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them: For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others. Most men indeed as well as most sects in Religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that wherever others differ from them it is so far error. Steele a Protestant in a Dedication tells the Pope, that the only difference between our Churches in their opinions of the certainty of their doctrines is, the Church of Rome is infallible and the Church of England is never in the wrong. But though many private persons think almost as highly of their own infallibility as of that of their sect, few express it so naturally as a certain french lady, who in a dispute with her sister, said "I don't know how it happens, Sister but I meet with no body but myself, that's always in the right — Il n'y a que moi qui a toujours raison."

In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other. I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded like those of the Builders of Babel; and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another's throats. Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die. If every one of us in returning to our Constituents were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavor to gain partizans in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary effects & great advantages resulting naturally in our favor among foreign Nations as well as among ourselves, from our real or apparent unanimity. Much of the strength & efficiency of any Government in procuring and securing happiness to the people, depends, on opinion, on the general opinion of the goodness of the Government, as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its Governors. I hope therefore that for our own sakes as a part of the people, and for the sake of posterity, we shall act heartily and unanimously in recommending this Constitution (if approved by Congress & confirmed by the Conventions) wherever our influence may extend, and turn our future thoughts & endeavors to the means of having it well administred.

On the whole, Sir, I can not help expressing a wish that every member of the Convention who may still have objections to it, would with me, on this occasion doubt a little of his own infallibility, and to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument.”

What is lost on many in this debate is the reality of the circumstances surrounding the crafting of our federal government. We are unique. There is no other society like us. The best minds of the time, coming from a diverse array of circumstances, bound together by the single necessity of preventing their hard-won freedoms from being lost to the growing anarchy fostered as a result of the limited power of the Articles of Confederation, established a system of government that has become the beacon of freedom to the masses yearning to breathe free from around the globe and throughout history. The living quality of the document has been the true genius of its nature. A brief examination of the history of its amendments leaves no doubt as to the significance of the Constitution’s ability to adapt to the evolution of our political process while simultaneously providing a fixed point of justice for our citizens to be judged.

The United States is a representative democracy, but its system of government is much more complex than that. It is not a simple representative democracy, but a constitutional republic in which majority rule is tempered with a respect for the rights of political minorities. The Constitution of today is far different from the Constitution of 1787, yet it is still the rock upon which our freedoms rest.

Before we get caught up in the false debate over names consider this list and ask yourself, "What is in a name?":

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Islamic Republic of Iran

Democratic People's Republic of Korea

People's Republic of China

Republic of Cuba

Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Syrian Arab Republic

Republic of Colombia

Republic of Uganda

Somali Republic

Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Republic of Iraq

Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Whether to use the label "representative democracy" or "republic" is not what is significant. As bullets fly around Libya and the people of Iran, Egypt, Tunisia, and other nations struggle to obtain what we take for granted; the real name we should all remember is that we are "Americans." We may not agree on the manner in which we believe government should work but surely, we can all agree that the system works as well as those who cast their ballots every single Election Day makes it work.

To deny that fact is to deny what is undeniable. Elections matter and have consequences. Those who win power make policy; at least until they offend enough that the voters replace them with their opponents. At which time, the cycle begins again. God bless the United States of America because until the day we go to meet our Lord, America is the closest to heaven on Earth as man has ever been able to fabricate.

Attacks On Teachers and Unions

As a money manager, I'm not very good. Every year, I spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on my students. I buy them meals, shoes, clothes, classroom supplies, and other assorted items as needed. Both of my parents were teachers and I never really considered doing anything else with my life as a career.

The Democratic Party has been asleep at the wheel and Republicans have seized the initiative to swing the pendulem back in favor of the wealthy in this country and strip what little gains working class people have made via the labor union movement in our nation. Unions are being hammered at every level and the average citizen is oblivious to the significant assault this current wave of attacks are going to have on the standard of living for the average American. For years, non-union workers have benefited from the coattails of union members and the rights won for them in hard-fought battles in every field.
The Republican Party continues to reveal itself at every turn as the bastion for the wealthy, the racist, and the anti-intellectuals. They are effectively turning back the clock to the 1920s. The question is whether or not the Democratic Party will regain it's backbone and go to work actively and ferociously defending the rights of the average working class man and woman in this country.

Our future depends upon it.