Zera's Blog

A Citizen's View from Main Street

Becoming Aware of Civic Unawareness


education

education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

The United States was founded on the premise that the people could rule themselves without theocracy or aristocracy. Government of, by, and for the masses – int the rich and powerful. It is called The Great Experiment, and its success depends on a well-educated electorate. Sufficiently educated to understand not only  the system that we have, but why we have it and how it works. And how it doesn’t.

The preparation of the voter so that he might express his opinion by means of the ballot, thus insuring political liberty, was one of the main goals of Jefferson’s plan for education which asserted four basic principles:

  • that democracy cannot long exist without enlightenment.
  • that it cannot function without wise and honest officials.
  • that talent and virtue, needed in a free society, should be educated regardless of wealth, birth or other accidental condition.
  • that the children of the poor must be thus educated at common expense.

http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/winter96/jefferson.html

Jefferson believed the elementary school was more important than the university in the plan because, as he said, it was “safer to have the whole people respectfully enlightened than a few in a high state of science and many in ignorance as in Europe” (as cited in Peterson, 1960, p. 241). He had six objectives for primary education to bring about this enlightenment and which highlighted what he hoped would make every person into a productive and informed voter:

  • To give every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business;
  • To enable him to calculate for himself, and to express and preserve his ideas, his contracts, and accounts, in writing;
  • To improve, by reading, his morals and faculties;
  • To understand his duties to his neighbors and country, and to discharge with competence the functions confided to him by either;
  • To know his rights; to exercize with order and justice those he retains; to choose with discretion the fiduciary of those he delegates; and to notice their conduct with diligence, with candor, and judgment;
  • And, in general, to observe with intelligence and faithfulness all the social relations under which he shall be placed.

The state of Jeffersonian enlightenment in the realm of civic responsibility and the promotion of a healthy democracy is deplorable. The country is full of jingoists and poser patriots, passionate to defend what they do not understand – and are therefore easily mislead.

We have been encouraged to value wealth over community, and the accumulation of wealth over patriotism. Citizenship has ceased to be a code of honor and is now reduced to simply a legal status.

The problem of civic illiteracy is not something new, but it is finally getting periodic bursts of recognition.

Asserting that democracy is not inherited at birth but rather learned in school, O’Connor founded the educational nonprofit group iCivics in 2009 to secure America’s governance and prepare the next generation of citizens and leaders.
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor seeks to reverse America’s decline in civics

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Plans are being developed to “address the problem”. I say that with a hint of sarcasm because they are still treating it as a mere lesson to be learned. I think the solution will need to stress participation as much as scholarship.

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May 29, 2012 Posted by | Education, Elections, Governance | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wall Street Occupation — a Cry to End Corporate Influence in Elections?


TAKE OUT THE TRASH #occupywallstreet

Image by otromundoesposible_com via Flickr

Corporate influence has robbed us of our sovereignt­y. Getting corporate money out of politics is key to restoring government by consent of the governed. I see two courses of action, both of which involve amending the Constituti­on. This poses a significan­t problem due to the appropriat­ely high bar to change imposed by the amendment process and the absolute devotion of republican­s to the corporatio­ns.

Option 1: Completely revoke recognitio­n of “personhoo­d” for corporatio­ns; and restore only the rights necessary to engage in contractua­l obligation­s and other basic functions of business, through changes to the law. Trying to end “personhoo­d” before developing an alternativ­e would create legal chaos that would be economical­ly disastrous­. Legislatin­g an alternativ­e while “personhoo­d” was still in effect would let corporatio­ns design the alternativ­e, rendering the effort expensive and self-defea­ting.

Option 2: Restrict corporate free-speec­h rights. This is doable, but a very slippery slope.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

October 8, 2011 Posted by | Citizens United vs FEC | , , , , , | Leave a comment

America for Sale: Is Goldman Sachs Buying Your City?


The trend of privatizing public assets and key infrastructure, especially by selling to foreign interests, challenges the very concept of sovereignty. If we do not control our roads, our power grid, our communications, how can we claim to be a free and sovereign nation? Politicians are literally selling out America.

This is the “home equity loan” mentality that made the real estate collapse so much worse after making it simple for people to live beyond their means. This is a functional admission that America is broke – and broken.

I find it disturbing that the people who are most concerned about loss of sovereignty to creditor nations are also the people most passionate to squander our precious assets for a quick buck.

Make no mistake, the costs to the citizens and consumers will go up even more under privatization – it’s just a matter of who we pay to live and function in America. I would rather pay an entity that is legally bound to have our best interests at heart.

Dylan Ratigan: America for Sale: Is Goldman Sachs Buying Your City?

June 16, 2011 Posted by | Capitalism, Direction | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

INTERPOL: Quran Burning Would Increase Global Terror Threat (1)


Ooo, right out of the fear-monger’s handbook.

Interpol does not do field work. It is an information clearinghouse and facilitator. Law enforcement is done by local agencies under local laws. Period.

Interpol is accountable to US law. Executive Order 13524 adds some standard exemptions from those laws. The new protections can be revoked, as they were granted, with the stroke of a pen.

When Reagan first recognized Interpol, they had no personnel stationed on United States soil. Information we shared with them was held in a foreign country, outside our jurisdiction. That changed when they opened an office at the United Nations. The new change effectively restores the same protections that INTERPOL had to begin with, nothing more. There has been no expansion of Interpol authority or surrender of US sovereignty.

“The new order does not enable or authorize INTERPOL or its officials to conduct searches or seizures, make arrests or take any other law enforcement actions in the United States.”

INTERPOL is limited to working through the Department of Justice.

This change simply protects the Interpol personnel, and the information we choose to share with them, and the information they have acquired from other countries and keep on United States soil, from further prying. If you want to know what was shared, then FOIA the DoJ. Odds are they will not share information in an ongoing investigation either. It’s just that now you can’t go around them by attacking Interpol clerks.

As INTERPOL has no investigative or enforcement authority in the United States, the Fourth Amendment is not applicable.

More on Terrorism
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

September 10, 2010 Posted by | Administration, Crime, Foreign Relations | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

3rd Mexican Mayor In A Month Slain By Hit Men


The Merida Initiative, a U.S. Counter-Narcotic...

Image via Wikipedia


The Mexican government is in a tight corner. They cannot fight the cartels on their own, and they cannot maintain their sovereignty if they allow in all the help they need. The main market for the drugs is not in their country, so they cannot do anything to undermine demand in a meaningful way. They can’t even cut off the gun supply.

Like it or not, we are the source of their problems, and we have not done all we could to kill off the drug trade or gun running or money laundering.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Crime, Foreign Relations | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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