Friday, March 13, 2015

Semi-Secret Fundamentals of Democracy

After over two hundred years living in a country that usually claims to be a democracy, you would think that most people actually know what a democracy is.

If so, you would be wrong!

Most people know how to pronounce it and even spell it but when it comes to implementing it most people don’t have a clue how to do it.

Most people don’t even seem to know what the most basic principles of democracy are.

Simply knowing the basic principles of democracy wouldn’t be enough but that would be a start and we can’t have a real democracy or even recognize what we do have until that first step is taken and it is explained to the majority of the public.

And the public has to actually participate in the system for it to be a real democracy.

Many of the Semi-secret fundamentals of democracy are very simple principles that everyone can understand and they can easily be confirmed. These can’t be kept completely secret; however by repeating an enormous amount of propaganda that contradicts these principles and failing to remind the public of the more important principles those in power can and have led people to believe many contradictory things about democracy. This has led to an enormous amount of double-think and those in power have often attempted to use the propaganda to put the emphasis on the non-democratic beliefs; this would be much more difficult or impossible if more people with diverse opinions had access to the Mass media.

The simplest definition of a democracy is “a government of the people by the people and for the people.” This sums up the basic of a democracy very will quickly but actual implementation is much more complicated since the government is involved in much more complicated society or it impacts that society by doing nothing; either way the public needs to have the education and information they need to make important decisions about what the government should do and when.

This is presumably what the first amendment was initially intended to help with although it probably didn’t go far enough and the way it has been interpreted has been a farce. The first Amendment is supposed to protect Free Speech (Blog or B) for everyone not just a small segment of society that controls all of the corporate press and those that can afford to buy air time to get their message across to the public; or at least that is what many of us were taught in school. Unfortunately that hasn’t been the way it has turned out especially since the Buckley v. Valeo decision that equated money with speech; the consolidation of the corporate press that has escalated in the last twenty years; and the follow up Citizens United ruling (for briefs filed with the court see Democracy 21) which protected the rights of corporations to donate as much as they want and if they use so-called “super-PACs” they can do it in secrecy.

At the same time they have also implemented “free speech zones” that are being implemented for those that want to have the right to speak without donating an enormous amount to political campaigns and getting their points of view across to the public. The problem with these is that they limit these people to speaking where there I no one listening unless the corporate media goes to those zones and reports on it which they rarely if ever do; or at least they rarely report on the details that the people are trying to get across especially if they contradict the ideology of those that control the corporate media; instead they report on it only to say that there are people protesting and they often make it seem as if they may not have legitimate concerns. The result of this is that the majority of the public is only able to get their messages across to a small percentage of other people while the political establishment, the corporations and the mass media can get their views across toe the vast majority of the public. This enables the corporations to use the Mass Media as a propaganda machine that has little criticism from many people for all practical purposes since the people who object are never heard by many people whether their objections are legitimate or not.

This clearly contradicts the original intent of the first amendment that most of us were taught in school.
It also has a major impact on how our elections are being held and who gets to decide how the interview process is controlled, what questions are asked of the candidates, which candidates can get on the ballot and which candidates are considered viable. The election process has wound up entirely in the hands of the political establishment and the Mass Media. For all practical purposes no candidate is considered viable unless they get a significant amount of attention from the Mass Media and the Mass Media works closely with the political establishment to ensure that only those that are part of the establishment and collect an enormous amount of contributions from corporations are eligible for much if any coverage. The result of this combined with the Supreme Court rulings on free speech effectively means that only the candidates that collect money from the corporations are eligible to run for the highest offices and the interview process is controlled almost entirely by the corporate media along with the political establishment without any significant input from the vast majority of the public.

This means that the corporations can decide what is discussed on a national level and they can ensure that many of the most important issues that impact the majority of the public are decided in favor of the corporations by simply declining to discuss them, or doing so in a manner that is difficult for the majority to understand, while policy is made without input from the public.

Or to put it bluntly the Supreme Court rulings have effectively provided more protection under the first amendment for bribes then they have for speech.

Even Jimmy Carter referred to this as bribery or “legally bribed” in his “White House Diaries.” He was referring to the discussion about health care at the time but the same principles clearly apply to all issues. The politicians routinely meet with those that donate to campaigns behind closed doors while those that don’t donate to campaigns don’t get much if any access to the candidates at all. The politicians routinely pass legislation that is clearly designed to benefit the contributors at the expense of the majority. This is clearly bribery although they don’t officially say there is a “Quid Pro Quo” which would make it illegal.

Creating a sincere democracy would clearly require Election Reform (B) of some kind that would enable the public to control the interview process and decide which candidates are eligible for the ballot and what questions they should be asked and many other things. Ideally this should allow the majority of the public to do what they can to maximize their own participation in the system with a minimum amount of organizational issues or disputes of any kind. The public should also have the best opportunity to consider whether or not proportionate representation or Instant Runoff elections are a good idea. And when possible the public should have a reasonable opportunity to choose their own Ballot questions (What is your ballot question?) (B) I have come up with a small sample of Ten Ballot Questions (B) of my own so far and I have no doubt that simply by trying to come up with sincere issues to address and ways to address them that many other members of the public can come up with many more.

The reason that the majority of those in public office aren’t doing a much better job representing the public is, quite frankly, they’re not trying. Instead it is quite clear that they’re much more interested in representing their campaign contributors; then they do the best they know how to convince the public that they’re doing what is in the best interest of the public without actually doing so. There is no reason to believe this will stop unit the public understands much more about the issues; controls the election process; and participates to the best of their ability.

The public would also need to understand many of the most important issues or at least know how to look up information on them when they have to if they can’t learn it all and compare opposing views which is why I think we should have some form of an Educational Revolution (B) which would enable the majority of the public to have equal access to the education they need to participate in a sincere democracy. Ideally this would involve financing of schools in a manner that would enable all people regardless of where they live to have a good education; the current system that relies on property taxes clearly doesn’t do this. If the majority of the public was paid fairly for what they did then the current system might be much more reasonable; however I suspect that even then there would be other issues that make the property tax system more beneficial for those that have more money and control the economic system. The public should also have access to a variety of sources of experts on various subjects that show the work to the best of their ability about those issues. These experts shouldn’t be screened by any one given source and it would be in the best interest of everyone to allow experts even if they disagree with them or they know for certain that they’re wrong on any given issue.

This should even apply to clowns like Donald Trump who most reasonable people would never consider a credible source; however this doesn’t mean that the least credible sources should get the highest priority coverage as they do now.

This is why it should be important to organize all the information that we have from a large variety of sources in the most effective way possible; which means that a good effort needs to be made to address Organizational skills (B) (For comments on links to my Blog posts and external links.) and this needs to be explained to the public in a manner that enables them to sort through all the details themselves. This will enable many people to sort through the details at their own pace and make decisions in the most rational manner available to them.

A sincere reform for the school system should prevent any one source with a major motive that contradicts the best interest of the public from having much if any influence of the schools. This should mean that the corporate interference with schools should come to an end. This should include Channel One which was reviewed by Roy Fox in “Harvesting Minds” (B) and Charter Schools, which may be receiving support from some candidates that appear to be consumer advocates including Elizabeth Warren (B) the corporate input in the schools has often led to them teaching beliefs that involve promoting their fiscal ideology including some beliefs about the environment that enable oil and coal companies to avoid regulation and they’ve been promoting advertising that interferes with the development of critical thinking. This means that many children that have been subject to advertising in schools are less able to recognize advertising scams and participate in the democratic system. It should also prevent other unscientific views from being presented in a biased manner that doesn’t allow for rational review.

Any sincere democracy needs to take much better care of the education system than the USA has been due to the fact that it is so vital to enabling people to participate in the democratic system. This should be done for everyone not just the privileged class. A system that provides one set of rules and educational opportunities for one group of people and different opportunities for another can’t be as democratic as our system pretends to be. This is why the reliance on property taxes should be reduced and reasonable discretion should be used until that can be done and this clearly shouldn’t involve Class warfare in schools and arresting moms for educating kids. (B) This is true even when there are other contributing factors like drug use especially if there is a possibility that the people being targeted for prosecution tend to be those without political power, whether it is because they’re minorities or any other reason.

In many cases we have considered complex ideologies without attempting to sort out the best of multiple beliefs and combine them. This has been true when it comes to education as well; instead of trying to include a small detail in a part of a more complex ideology, discrediting or demonizing other aspects of the ideology and dismissing the good parts as well as the bad; we should try to sort out the good parts and keep them, or if necessary make the proper adjustments first. The Communist Manifesto calls for “Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form….etc.” Communist Manifesto Chapter Two This isn’t quite perfect, but it is a good goal to attempt to achieve. A successful democracy has to find a way to provide education for everyone but it has to be paid for somehow. This shouldn’t be an obstacle and we have already proven that it can be done when we try; unfortunately there have been too many cases where those in power have proven to have other higher priorities. One of the things that we should do is try to find the most effective ways possible to provide an education system at low costs when it is possible to do so without sacrificing the quality. The past attempts at this has often focused on cutting pay to teachers or cutting the supplies available; this comes at a high cost. I suspect that if we try we can find more effective ways to do this.

The assumption that we can save money by cutting back on education has always been a false one. We don’t hesitate to spend money when it comes to fighting wars or sending a large number of people to jail for one crime or perceived crime or another. These activities have often been promoted based on emotional appeals and those who haven’t been subject to the applicable indoctrination have often been much more opposed to it. Sorting through indoctrination will take more review but the general concept that education is cheaper than prisons and wars is valid.

One of the reasons why education ahs become so expensive is the high cost of “intellectual property,” which is not a natural concept. It was invented to establish ownership or virtual ownership of information. The interpretation of this has been caught up in a complex web of confusing laws. The original clause in the Constitution says, “The Congress shall have Power ..… To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;…” This was intended to provide fair compensation for the inventors authors or researchers that provide worthy services that can’t be sold otherwise. Unfortunately this isn’t the way it has worked out. The laws based on this clause have turned into something much more complex that often doesn’t do what it was originally intended to do and does more to protect the ability of powerful institutions to control how educational material is distributed and ensure that those that can’t afford to pay for it are deprived of an education. This isn’t the way they interpret it; however it is the way it works in practice. It essentially means that those who own copyrights can control the distribution of educational material regardless of the best interest of the public. In practice this is often not the authors that the original clause was intended to protect but the publishing or promotional companies. To put it simply this often essentially means that the higher classes have control over the education system and they often use it to deprive the lower classes of opportunities; I have gone into this in more details in Copyright violators are thought criminals (B) and Copyright Bureaucracy. (B)
There are many other ways that can be found to cut cost when necessary that don’t involve cutting the quality of education. This should be done in both grade schools and college schools. One of the things that should be done is that we should do more to understand which expenses are most important for the educational aspects and which are for other purposes which may not merit as high a priority. Part of this should involve sorting out the basics of the education system and organizing the curricular. This is what I attempted to do in Why I’m a fundamentalist (B) where I attempted to organize simple basics for several different subjects and methods to cross check them; this doesn’t involve the version of “fundamentalism” that many religious people claim to adopt which I consider pseudo-fundamentalism.

This should help people understand which aspects of education are most important and for what reason. A couple of the most important examples that start in high schools and have a much bigger impact later in life, since many people maintain the same beliefs that they adopt at this stage throughout life, are the election of Prom Queens or the attitudes that many people have towards sports and the most popular kids in class. A close look at this will indicate a startling resemblance with the way many people vote in elections; and this often has little or nothing to do with the issues that impact society that elected officials are supposed to deal with.

Many people don’t even seem to understand that when they vote for a candidate for office that they’re choosing some one to do a certain job and that he or she has certain responsibilities that he has to carry out and that in order to do so effectively he has to understand the issues and base his decisions on the most accurate facts available. This problem isn’t just with the elected officials but it also with the pundits on TV that inform the public about these issues. Many of these people are clearly Fast Talking media Pundits that are avoiding scrutiny (B) by jumping from one subject to another and declining to allow many people that have opposing views that they don’t agree with to have any air time at all so the public may never even consider these views unless they seek their information on their own. One of the most blatant examples of these is Mika Brzezinski who is constantly flirting with the audience and acts more like the most popular teenager in high school than someone who is seriously trying to address important issues. She may be one of the most obvious in some ways but she is far from the only media commentator that is using emotional appeals or other Manipulation Tactics (B) to keep the attention of the public and spread propaganda. In fact there are plenty of Political Psychiatrists who are suppressing democracy (B) one way or another; one of the most popular method they use is to study polls and attempt to see which manipulation tactics work the best; but they have many other things that they have been studying; and presumably their work is being used to brief many of these pundits although some of the pundits may not be aware of how the tactics are developed. In most cases this isn’t completely secret; however this kind of research information isn’t presented widely to the public; only those that know where to look can find it.

This often takes an enormous amount of research. In order to address these problems a large segment of the public is going to have to learn that they should have some responsibility in a democratic system in order for it to work properly; however this is much more difficult with all this propaganda distracting them and telling them that they already have a democratic system.

The current activity of the Mass Media, the corporate world, the political establishment and those that produce an enormous amount of propaganda often involves praying on the insecurities of those with less political power. They often interfere with efforts to reduce these insecurities due to the fact that they often interfere with the goals of the most powerful. The majority of the people almost certainly don’t fully understand what they’re doing and how big the long term implications of some activities are but the damage is the same. In most cases the people involved in praying on the insecurities of others often deal only with a small aspect of the activities that are going on; this enables them to maintain a certain amount of plausible deniability.

These insecurities generally start in early childhood; if they’re dealt with properly early on then children will be much better prepared to participate in a democratic system as adults. This means that in order to teach children properly fro early childhood then it is important to help them learn how to think for themselves instead of dictating the truth to them. The same Authoritarian (B) methods to raise children that lead to violence later in life also lead them to learn that they should believe what they’re told without checking facts or questioning authority. Instead of helping the public learn about the most effective ways to teach people to learn how to avoid escalating violence by teaching other methods like Alice Miller and Benjamin Spock the establishment often does the opposite. They may not realize that they’re doing this since they’re often teaching the same methods they were raised in but there is an enormous amount of research to indicate that child abuse and bullying lead to more violence later in life; yet this still in doubt, partly because of the fact that many of the most powerful people present the work of those that are most in line with their own ideology regardless of what the best research says. Whether they realize they’re doing this or not isn’t the most important thing; educating the public in the most effective way possible should be.

If you look at some of the more credible academic work it becomes clear that Fundamentals of Psychology (B) start in early childhood and children develop paterns of behavior that escalate from there. This includes their ability to participate in democracy and sort through the details of a rational society. This also includes the fact that violence as adults is much more common if it is taught early in life and that there is a link between child abuse and bullying and later violence; reporting of this in the mainstream media has been long overdue; (B) they reported on it briefly about a year ago and then quickly forgot about it in the mainstream media. This should be considered highly inadequate; clearly what we need is a major public relation campaign for child abuse prevention (B) which could go a long way to reduce violence and reduce the authoritarian upbringing that interferes with the ability of many children to sort through details and participate in a sincere democratic society.

This escalation of violence is also a major contributing root cause of hatred and bigotry; (B) this often happens when a child is raised by strict disciplinarians that are also prejudiced and they give their children positive feedback when they adopt the same prejudicial beliefs. This leads to children who are much more susceptible to divide and rule tactics by demagogues and often place the blame in the wrong place for their problems. A child that has a hard time blaming their parents for abuse they receive as a young age often has a hard time blaming the authority figures as an adult. As a child they’re often told things are their fault and this often changes to blaming the others or the enemy du jour.

Instead of getting education about this from the Mass Media what we get is Crime Profiteering (another day, another school shooting) (B) which often involves an enormous amount of hype about crimes with quick fixes that usually involve punishment after the crime, not prevention, and the incitement of more hatred against those that are considered dangerous without understanding why they became that way or how to prevent it. This also involves selling an enormous amount of commercial airtime to advertisers that prey on the insecurities of many people. If they do a good job teaching them to think rationally they’re much less likely to fall for the advertising scams that they sell.

A sincere democratic system has to have democratic participation in the way the economy is run as well since we’re all dependent on this in the modern world for our well being. In order to do this the public needs to understand it to the best of their ability starting with the fundamentals of economics which are currently semi-secret (B) do to the way major economic systems have been turned into complex ideologies that many people can’t understand. There are many simple basics that many people could understand if they thought about it, including the fact that jobs should be designed to improve the quality of life and those that don’t are often scams. Instead of presenting the way the economy works like this the majority of the economic professors present it almost like an economic cult where the public isn’t expected to understand it instead they’re expected to participate in it believing that all economic activity provides benefits even when an enormous amount o it is a total waste. Many people are led to believe that all jobs are good even those that are designed to deceive people into buying things that have little or not value or to pay much more for things that do have some limited value. Under this system an enormous amount of the economic activity that happens on Wall Street is essentially fraud. This includes price fixing, planned obsolescence, false advertising, pyramid schemes and many other activities that absurd including the selling of things that any rational person can see is useless like a porch screen that magically opens and closes with magnets when you walk through it.

One of the most important examples of this is the incredibly large amount of fraud that is involved in the health care industry when the lives of many people are literally on the line. The public ahs been led to believe that they need to rely on a private system which uses Health Care Premiums for many non-medical purposes; (B) including advertising, lobbying and other administrative costs as well as a large amount that they keep for profit. All these costs have to be passed on to the consumer and the current establishment has also been trying to ensure that many people don’t have other options to reduce costs including attempts to prevent people from getting their medications abroad or to scare them into believing that they’re dangerous even when the opposite is occasionally the truth. No candidate for higher office is considered by the Mass Media unless they collect their share of bribes, thinly disguised as campaign contributions including Santorum, Romney and Obama who all essentially endorse health care waste and fraud. (B) 
A large part of the reason that the corporate world gets away with a lot of the fraud that they’re involved in is because the government has passed an enormous amount of laws protecting the secrecy of Proprietary information which is, by definition, a conspiracy; (B) this essentially means that the only people that are allowed to access the information that they need to make important decisions about their economic choices are the business people. The justification for these secrecy laws may involve the protection of innovation and incentive for development of improved products or services; however there has been an overwhelming amount of evidence to indicate that they’re used for many other reasons and very little indication of actual proper use of this secrecy. Evidence has been produced to indicate that they’re using trade secrecy laws to cover up safety hazards, the manipulation of young children for marketing purposes, the suppression of workers rights and many other corrupt things. The only reason that they’ve been able to get away for this for so long is essentially because Complacent consumers or voters have few if any rights (B) when they have a conflict of interest with the business community that donates millions of dollars to campaigns.
The long term success of any sincere democracy or any culture at all relies on the protection of the environment as well; if short term corporate interests are allowed to destroy the planet for the sake of profits then it is a matter of time before we wind up creating our own Environmental Apocalypse. (B) The most effective way to avoid this should be to educate the majority of the public about how to best preserve our environment. Technically it might be possible for our leaders to implement policy without educating the majority of the public about this; however this would involve educating those that make the decisions about how to avoid this and they would have to follow up with policies that avoid this; and the overwhelming amount of evidence clearly indicates that this isn’t happening. Instead it is clear that what we are getting is an enormous amount of propaganda; the corporate media and the oil companies have total control over the Mass Media which they’re using to promote their beliefs without allowing true environmentalists to get much if any say; and they’re even influencing the education of children to distort the education they receive about the destruction of the environment. This essentially means that the most powerful people in our country are acting like natural born killers of the planet; (B) and unless the majority of the public educates themselves despite this propaganda and makes a major call for the protection of the environment that is exactly what will happen eventually.

Solving the problems with the environment will be difficult if not impossible if we continue spending an enormous amount of our resources on fighting one war after another; furthermore these wars are also adding to the destruction of the environment and many other social problems that are threatening our democracy; and it provides a convenient excuse to withhold the information the public needs to participate in the democratic process. By now it should be clear to those that have been educated about history and current events that war isn't the answer; however education is part of it. (B) A major part of the problem is the fact that we have an enormous amount of War Propaganda (B) that the government has been spreading non-stop for generations. It is often said that the first casualty of war is the truth; this is close but it implies that we receive the truth when we’re not at war. In reality the majority of the public doesn’t receive the truth about what all the wars that we’ve been fighting are about and why we’re fighting them unless they do their own research.

There are many other sources available to check many of the historical facts including libraries around the country if you know what books to look for and the internet; one internet source that I have found provides better information than the majority including a copy of Howard Zinn’s “Peoples History of the United States” is History is a Weapon (figuratively speaking). By sorting through the more accurate versions of history and double checking the facts many people can do a lot to realize that most if not all the wars that we’ve been fighting for decades have all been based on lies. Our leaders demonstrate their true intention with their actions and by looking at them you can tell whether they’re Tyranny opponents or advocates; (B) most of our leaders rarely if ever provide the honesty that a true opponent of tyranny would provide. The current War on Terrorism appears to be doing more to fight civil right (B) than it is to fight real threats to democracy. Even if you accept the government version of events (which I do generally even if it is only for the sake of argument) then if you go further and look at the history of our governments activities then it should be clear many of the terrorist activities including 9/11 have been in retaliation for things that our government has been doing to other countries and cultures. If our country hadn’t interfered with the activities of many other countries then they wouldn’t be so angry with us. The claim that our country is the defender of freedom is based primarily on propaganda and most people outside of our country know it; it is only those in our country that accept the version handed to them by the government and the US corporate press that believe we defend freedom abroad. Iran is just one example and the CIA has conducted a coup in 1953 to overthrow a government that was much more democratic than the Shah that they installed then in the eighties they funded both sides of the war with Iraq and after 9/11 when they initially tried to mend fences by cooperating with the Bush administration by sharing information on Al-Qaeda they were rewarded by being put on the list of “Axis of Evil” countries and they became more extreme in response. The war on Terror is designed to maintain a permanent state of war so that they have justification to continue lying to the public.

This is not the beginning of the deception of the American public about foreign affairs in fact the very use of the term “intelligence” for the activities being carried out by the CIA is a blatant example of propaganda; since Espionage isn't intelligent (B) What the espionage community that calls itself an intelligence community have done is essentially create a series of Cults of Espionage (B) including the CIA which Victor Marchetti refers to as “The Cult of Intelligence” in his book by that name. Clearly the activities of the CIA should be considered incompatible with the fundamental principle of democracy since the core principles of one involve providing the public with the information they need to make decisions and the principles of the other involves intentionally withholding that information and replacing it with an enormous amount of lies and propaganda that has kept us in a constant state of war for decades with brief breaks in between.

Apparently despite the fact that the CIA isn’t supposed to conduct their activities in the USA this hasn’t happened; instead they’ve been conducting many activities here and they’ve also been conducting an enormous amount of research into methods to develop more effective propaganda that can be used both here and abroad. Most of this research was presumably done decades ago, or at least most of the research that has been revealed to the public; it is difficult if not impossible to know what they’re doing now; but their track record isn’t good. A couple of the most famous experiments that they have been involved in are the “Obedience to Authority” (B) experiments by Stanley Milgram and “The Stanford Prison Experiment” by Philip Zimbardo; (B) these almost certainly have been used to developed improved methods to train the military in Boot camp and they may have also been used for many other purposes including the creation of propaganda and the interrogation tactics that were exposed in Abu Ghraib and other prisons. This is almost certainly true despite Philip Zimbardo’s denials.

It appears that Philip Zimbardo’s activities that have interfered with the most effective application of democracy may have also impacted the American Psychological Association which clearly seems to have some corruption or bias; (B) when he was president of the APA in 2002 there was a meeting in August which revised the ethical standards of the APA and they clearly seem to have been watered down as pointed out by some psychologists including Susan Linn.

If we’re going to develop a more sincere democracy that the public can participate in then it might be helpful to implement some form of Truth and Education Commission (B) at some point that is controlled by the public to the best of their ability. This should involve revealing the truth about many of the activities that the government has been involved in and implementing as much reform as possible. It might not be best to grant immunity to people to quickly without carefully considering the consequences; past commissions of this sort have enabled those in power to adopt constitutions in some countries that preserve a new version of tyranny based on incomplete exposure of facts and they’ve also enabled some people to continue conducting activities that should be considered illegal including the activities by Executive Outcomes, while it was still running and other mercenary organizations that followed after the truth commission in South Africa. This should include a new investigation into the activities surrounding

the assassination of JFK (B) which clearly hasn’t been handled properly. No sincere democracy would allow a coup or botched assassination of the president to continue being covered up fifty years after the fact. If this is done then it might be possible to avoid a Decline and Fall of the American Empire (B) and replace it with a much more effective reform process that enables the public to participate more fairly in how the government is run.

Another important aspect that has to be considered is the ability of people to think freely and sort out the facts for themselves without interference from religious leaders that attempt to dictate the truth to them. One example of how this could interfere with democracy was described well by Ann Eliza Young in her book “Wife No. 19: Or The Story of a Life in Bondage, Being a Complete Exposé of Mormonism” 1875 PDF:

"Have you voted to-day?"

“No, Brother Young, I have not."

"Then I suppose you intend doing so at once."

"Not at all," I replied; "I have no intention of voting at all."

"And why not?" he asked, somewhat angrily.

"Because I have not yet become sufficiently acquainted with the political situation to understand what it is best to do, and I prefer not to vote ignorantly."

"But I wish you to vote," was his peremptory reply.

"Excuse me, please, Brother Young," pleaded I; "I don't know who or what to vote for, and I really had much rather not." I was quite in earnest. I did not know any thing then of politics, and I must confess I had no interest in them.

"Get into the carriage," commanded he, so sternly that I knew I must obey, and further parley would be useless. "I want you to vote, and at once. Mr. Rossitur will take you to the polls and tell you how to vote." Ann Eliza Young “Wife No. 19: Or The Story of a Life in Bondage, Being a Complete Exposé of Mormonism” 1875 p.93-95

The clear implication of this is that the religious leaders, including Brigham Young, may often decide how their followers vote with little or no interest for the best interest of the majority and these decisions may often be based on false beliefs. A Brief History of the Mormon Church (B) may indicate that there is much more of this within this religion and that they don’t do much if any fact checking to find out if their beliefs are true; instead they use intimidation tactics to coerce their followers.

This isn’t limited to the Mormon Church other churches including the Catholic Church all have a long history of authoritarian teachings that are contrary to the principles of democracy. In fact judging by a few excerpts from “Hitler’s Pope” about the history of the church it may have been a major contributing cause to WWII as well as many other activities throughout history including of course the Crusades and the Inquisitions.

Pio Nono hurled denunciations against the "outrageous treason of democracy" and threatened prospective voters with excommunication. (John Cornwell “Hitler's Pope” p. 10)
Shutting himself inside the apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter's, Pio Nono refused to come to an accord with the new state of Italy. He had already, in 1868, forbidden Italian Catholics to take part in democratic politics. John Cornwell “Hitler's Pope” p. 13

Catholics had been instructed by the Vatican itself to withdraw from politics as Catholics, leaving a political vacuum in which the Fascists thrived. In the March elections following the Lateran Treaty, priests throughout Italy were encouraged by the Vatican to support the Fascists, and the Pope spoke of Mussolini as "a man sent by Providence." John Cornwell “Hitler's Pope” p.114

On the eve of the election, the archbishop of Genoa, Giuseppe Siri, told his diocese that it was a “mortal sin” not to vote, that “voting Communist was not reconcilable with being a Catholic,” and that confessors “should withdraw absolution from any who have failed to heed his instructions.” John Cornwell “Hitler's Pope” p.330

The Catholic Church has a long history of trying to intimidate its own followers into following the beliefs as they’re dictated by their leaders and these examples indicate how devastating the results can be. This clearly hasn’t stopped judging by some recent activity including a recent sermon by Pope Benedict he rips into dissident priests on celibacy, without giving appropriate consideration to the fact that this has been a major issue in relation to the sex abuse by Catholic Priests and the fact that many people within the leadership of the Church, including Benedict himself, have been implicated in the cover-up of this. Since this was first reported they downplayed it presumably due to massive outrage by the public. This is part of a continuing pattern of behavior by the Church; first they oppose democracy; then when it becomes clear that they can’t stop it, they attempt to control it. The Catholic church also disinvited Victoria Reggie Kennedy They clearly seem to be more concerned with maintaining their own power than with the best interest of the public or basing decisions on the most accurate perception of reality available as a result of peer review. This type of behavior is clearly incompatible with democracy.

James Dobson (B) has also provided his attempts to coerce his own followers and convince them to believe the truth as it has been dictated by their religious leaders by attempting to teach parents how to indoctrinate children from an early age without fully realizing that they’re doing it by using coercive methods of early child rearing. He has also done a great deal to control the beliefs of many adults along with other religious leaders including an effort to control their votes in relation to environmentalism as described by Dan Gilgoff in “The Jesus Machine.” this could have a devastating long term impact on society since it can lead large voting blocks to align themselves with the best interest of the corporations on an issue simply because they’re controlled by their own religious leaders who either don’t think very rationally or sell out their beliefs for financial gains.

Recognizing the fundamentals of Democracy is an important step when it comes to reforming the government but it won’t be enough since the most powerful people in our country have routinely demonstrated that they’re not willing to respect the rights of the majority anymore as demonstrated during the Occupy Wall Street (B) protests and the way they’ve been put down without regard for the free speech rights of the majority of the people. This isn’t actually new but it it is drawing attention to the enormous amount of injustice that has been going on for decades. The government has been gradually allowing the corporations to consolidate so that they no longer have to compete with each other but workers still have to compete with people in factories abroad where they’re forced to work in sweat shop conditions; this method is being used to reduce the supply of jobs in America so that those that are available are increasingly lower pay. They’re also using a perverted interpretation of the rights to free speech so that the right of corporations to provide an enormous amount of advertising that is mostly if not entirely deceptive is sacrosanct but the right of organizations like adbusters to provide “un-commercials” is suppressed and the oil companies dominate the airways while the real environmentalist have little or no air time. These are just a tiny example of the corruption that continues to escalate but now there is an enormous amount of attention being drawn to it so there may be better hope for reform.

A sincere Election Reform effort is long overdue and it should be controlled by the public which should have access to the most accurate information available. In order to do this we also need reform of the Mass Media that enables many other sources to get their points of view across. There are already many organizations that are trying to Set a better example for the Mass Media (B) by providing more sincere coverage but they’re not entitled to much if any access to the majority of the public unless they know to look for them on the internet; and many people still rely on the old forms of Mass Media to find new forms of media so the establishment is able to dominate the biggest internet sites as well as the traditional media.

The caricature above might seem like propaganda but it is more or less the way the mass media has attempted to portray the choices that we have for higher office; they have attempted to convince us that we have to either choose the democratic candidate that has been virtually selected by the political establishment or the Republican one. We routinely switch back and forth without addressing many of the most important issues that impact the public especially when it comes to challenge corporate corruption. There hasn’t been one candidate that has received much if any attention that has attempted to address issues like planned obsolescence, price fixing, deceptive advertising or many other issues in decades. Many of us have been led to believe that the candidate of our party, whichever one it is, is the better one but they often don’t do what we want them to. Then we look at the other party and conclude that they’re worse so we have to choose the lesser evil.

Since this caricature and the one in the beginning is accompanied by an explanation I don’t think it would appropriate to consider it propaganda; there might be some legitimate complaint about the fact that I didn’t provide this explanation at the beginning along with the opening picture; however that one is much clearer and probably shouldn’t need any justification and my use of these is much milder than the use of propaganda by those in power. Furthermore if the reader doesn’t learn to sort through propaganda for themselves then they will almost certainly be led or misled by those that do. I have provided more explanation than the vast majority of the political pundits do; and you’re welcome to check with other sources. In 1992 many of us may have believed that Bill Clinton was a better choice but when he got in office he adopted issues that were previously dominated by the Republicans and passed things that the Republicans would have had a hard time passing. There was an old saying that Nixon had to be the one that went to China to overcome the opposition from the right wing; the same might go for welfare reform, which had to be passed by a democrat to overcome left wing opposition. The problem with corporate welfare was already much worse at the time but they ignored it and it has continued to get worse since then. The welfare reform didn’t involve enabling the majority to get better education and keep more of what they earned instead it just involved cutting services and using punishment to encourage people to work for less and keep wages down. On top of that Bill Clinton did more to consolidate the corporate media than many if any other president in recent history so that we now have more media controlled by the fewest people in history and he also increased the copyright laws for the benefit of the corporations at the expense of the majority.

George W Bush attempted to advance this but encountered an enormous amount of opposition when his appointee Michael Powell attempted to consolidate the media even more and he also attempted to increase the corporate influence in schools which began escalating under his father who oversaw the beginning of Channel One. George W Bush attempted to escalate this by increasing the reliance on charter schools while some people were catching on to how damaging Channel One was and faced opposition. Now that Barack Obama is in office he is trying to advance many of the same corporate objectives including charter schools and until there was an enormous protest he was clearly in support of increased protection of copyright laws; presumably they might be waiting for the public to become complacent again and try to move these things through slowly. There is some indication that this is happening already, especially with charter schools.

The truth of the matter is that we have many other choices that the corporate media aren’t paying much if any attention to; there are an enormous number of potential candidates to consider listed on the Project Vote Smart web page. these range from more establishment candidates to some candidates that are downright nuts but there are some that are quote credible and deserve a closer look. One of these is Jill Stein (Vote Smart questionnaire) who has taken some rational positions on many issues that are closer to the best interest of what the majority of the public may want but she can’t get any attention from the corporate media due to the fact that she won’t promote their agenda. With the current group of candidates acting downright insane there is an enormous amount of attention being drawn to her and she almost certainly has a much better chance than the corporate media would have people believe. More information is available on her at her website and at the Jill Stein “on the Issues.” the claim that people would be throwing their vote away unless they vote for one of the candidates that the corporations choose for them is a blatant lie; in fact the opposite is true; any vote for candidates that become qualified by collecting an enormous amount of bribes thinly disguised as campaign contributions is a wasted vote that indicates that you support the corporate control and virtual ownership of the government.

Note on the organization of Blogs: Since I have been covering many of these issues for months and provided more information on many of the details on other blogs I have included many of them in links to indicate what I have said on the subject in the past. To make it clear which links were for my own blogs I have marked them with a (B) so that those of you who have been reading on a regular basis will know that they may be something that you’ve read before and can avoid the redundancy if you choose and those of you who haven’t read as much can look into those subjects that you want to know more about. It also enables you to recognize which links are external; these will not be marked even if it is other blogs at OS or elsewhere. I have focused on my own input mainly because it is what I am familiar with not necessarily because it is the most thorough review of democracy although I like to think I have done a reasonably good job. There is no doubt that I have done better than the corporate media but they aren’t even trying so that is a given. The following couple of pages are from other sites that have also provided some additional review of the corruption of our so-called democracy including one that provided the images on this page.

Debunking the Myth of Freedom and Democracy in America 
Election reform at Prison Planet 
(For more information on Blog see Blog description and table of context for most older posts.)

The following are the original replies when this was first posted on Open Salon.

Baltimore, first of all I opened by saying “usually claims to be a democracy;” I am quite aware that it hasn’t been a democracy and it has been a republic but it has routinely been portrayed as a democracy.

Second of all I don’t see how you came to the conclusion that I wanted to suppress anyone’s right to free speech; that is exactly what I was arguing against. Businesses aren’t people and they get their money from the consumer and they pass on the expenses for the commercials to the consumer. Ultimately the consumer has to pay for these expenses; yet they have no say in the speech that is being bought with their money.

I am advocating equal rights to free speech not just for the corporations; and I think that the first amendment should do more to protect actual speech than money that is clearly being used to purchase influence. Money does not equal speech if it did then lack of money would equal lack of speech which is almost the situation that we’re in now.

zacherydtaylor April 10, 2012 03:08 PM

Baltimore is right although I don’t much care for the way he express’s himself. You have many good ideas in here Zachery but that’s just it fixing this republic would be entirely to complicated. And for what? So we can continue with a form of medieval feudalism that has replaced the Martial talents of the aristocracy with the duplicity of the merchant? What ethics does the merchant cultivate to succeed? Mercantilism is the very antithesis of chivalry. No I am sorry. Lets keep the Bill of Rights and the Constitution they are two of the most profound pieces of literature ever written. But it is time for Capitalism to die a brutal and horrific death. A death that I am more than ready to participate in myself even if it means making war against my neighbors and relatives, because that is what it will take. I am a realist. I do not delude myself. The enemy is not the one percent. The enemy is everybody who thinks capitalism is some kind of religion that has been sanctioned by God himself. And by the way lets keep God too. Marx certainly overstepped his bounds with that one. Man is hardwired to believe in God. That’s why communism failed the first time around. Jesus said it would be easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to attain the kingdom of heaven. So lets send them all to hell right now. Why wait?

Jack Heart April 10, 2012 10:00 PM

Most people don't know the difference between a democracy and a republic and don't really care. They have been led to believe that they are powerless to effect any kind of change in their lives. In my view, that's what needs to change. I see a lot of evidence all over the Net that it is - that people are forming local and regional networks of food and energy production and even local currencies. Obviously it's not the kind of news you are likely to find in the corporate media.

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall April 10, 2012 10:40 PM

Your so astute and well read but that joke at the top is priceless. Bravo! ........(¯`v´¯) (¯`v´¯) ☼•*¨`*•.¸.(ˆ◡ˆ).¸.•* ............... *•.¸.•* ♥⋆★•❥ Thanx & Smiles (ツ) & ♥ L☼√Ξ ☼ ♥ ⋆───★•❥ ☼ .¸¸.•*`*•.♥ (ˆ◡ˆ) ♥⋯ ❤ ⋯ ★(ˆ◡ˆ) ♥⋯ ❤ ⋯ ★ Algis Kemezys April 11, 2012 01:16 AM

Jack, I don’t think the constitution should be completely thrown out but I do think that it should be reviewed and understood better and the majority of the public should have an opportunity to ratify it without coercion, which should have been done long ago; however most people didn’t have the education they needed when they drafted it. We’re in a much better position to educate the public now than we were then if those in power want to but they don’t which is why we need reform from the grass roots level.

By now you probably know what I think about God; Marx wasn’t what the Soviets implemented at all they mostly just used his name but I don’t think that all of what he wanted should be implemented either. Instead we should sort it through and keep the best of capitalism and other ideologies and come up with a new one.

Stuart, agreed, but it won’t result in reform overnight although there are many steps in the right direction being taken. There are still many people that have been raised in an authoritarian manner that are being used by those in power to create the illusion of grass roots support. Once they learn how to think more rationally then it will be much easier to implement reform.

Algis, That joke isn’t mine follow the link and see more including another article that makes many additional good points.

Thanks all.

zacherydtaylor April 11, 2012 09:34 AM

baltimore, as usual, is aggressively wrong.

America is a liberal constitutional democratic republic.

We are a Representative Democracy and a Constitutional Republic. As a Republic, we have an executive--the president, who governs with public input. Res Publica -- a public matter.

The form of that input is Representative Democracy. Demos Kratos -- the people hold power. We are not a direct democracy, but a representative democracy is still a democracy.

Madison, in Federalist 10, sees Republic and Representative Democracy as the same thought and function. Not surprising as the two concepts are closely linked.

So, baltimore, you not only flunked US History, you've just been given a Remedial Course.

Another class in your remedial history would explain how for-profit corporations in post-revolutionary America were greatly restricted in many ways, including not being allowed ANY participation in politics.

But hey, what would the men who wrote and ratified the Constitution know about its limits?

Thanks for yet another chuckle, baltimore. If you keep this trend of aggressively being wrong going a bit longer, I'll be contacting the Guinness people to document it.

Paul J. O'Rourke April 11, 2012 02:05 PM

[r] Zachd, so sorry the initial response was so unrewarding for such an incredible blog -- that snotty remark from baltimore. Ick. lazy knee-jerk malice. :(

Each paragraph could be its own blog, it is so rich with intelligent analysis and eloquence. Once again I need to come back to reread and process more fully. So many fronts, so many fresh hells of corruption and the old festering hells of corruption.

Scott Peck says evil is laziness to the nth degree. The 99% now being shafted with only some of us yanking finally our heads out of the sand, or exiting the FOG (Zeese's "forces of greed"). I, like too many others, assumed all we had to do was wave goodbye to the craven crony Bush baddies, but they were only the front baddies when both parties had established a swampland of corruption and the "change you can believe in" Obama regime was intending to thicken the swamp, widen its quicksands. Both legacy parties are vast betrayers of the population. Two heads on one psychopathic corporate party.

It is late in the game. So many of us who are activists are torn among so many different direly suffering directions. So much amorality and profiteering sociopathy determines governmental oppression of citizens.

You have done enormous homework for us. Thank you for your anti-laziness. I want to forward this blog to the Stein campaign, busy as they are right now, hustling for voting eligibility in as many states as possible, the insights are invaluable in so many dimensions.

Wish Obama was interested in healthy pro-citizen policies. His homework is always about impression management as are the pr people who got him into office for their own personal aggrandizement, hang the welfare of the people. Conning the people as the one percent locks its tentacles in harder and farther.

I visualize the Green Party with its principle for PEACE, PEOPLE AND PLANET being the umbrella and all the fronts in such dire need as spines to that umbrella, so there is a cohesive organization in which all of us are focused and yet part of the wholesome whole.

We needed to recover from the 5 stages of grief of the Bush regime, and then the 5 stages of grief not of Obama specifically but of the Dem Party that has been skating on a more humanitarian and liberal veneer for years without having had to earn it.

The name Alice Miller popped out to me. Her books changed my life in terms of what poisonous pedagogy does to sabotage the quality of life of growing children and which leaves a government expansion into fascism, as well as on a personal level. The personal is political and vice versa, imho. The dysfunctional national family as well as one's personal one for many of us.

When good people do nothing. When good people cling to denial. When good people apply unearned "loyalty" even after it has been proven betrayed over and over, because of their own need for comfort and pushing back their own fear for their existential security.

"Divided we fall." We are divided as a people.

Someone wrote about Manning the other day and said Manning mistakenly thought "the truth will set you free." Manning is not free. Manning is SOOOOO not free thanks to the Obama regime. Only because the truth he brought out was so stark and indicting, so many led by Obama and pols and a corporate puppet media, declared the messenger the enemy because the message was so horrifying and revelatory of international war crimes committed by the US. The more horrifying the message, the more it needs to be brought out into the light of truth.

Thanks, Zachd!!! to be continued! best, libby

libbyliberalnyc April 11, 2012 05:54 PM

Paul, it is supposed to be a representative democracy but in order for that to work well we need to have representatives that are actually accountable to the public. This means that the public should be able to control the election process; what we have instead is a system where they pretend to represent the public and give us enough propaganda to keep us complacent. It was never as good as it has often been portrayed but after a large effort by the middle classes it improved, not as much as we needed but something, but then during the Reagan era complacency set in and they started rolling the improvements back.

Libby, there are plenty of people that have their points of view whether I agree with them or not, or perhaps some of them are using reverse psychology or something like that; not worth losing sleep over; the more rational argument will stand up to scrutiny for rational people.

Obama is doing more to pretend to look out for the best interests of the public while taking money from corporations and doing no more than he has to; Jill Stein and other sincere candidates deserve far more consideration than those that have been bought and paid for by the corporations.

BTW some of your responses are long enough to be a blog too; I look forward to see more of them. ;-)

zacherydtaylor April 13, 2012 09:43 AM


Of course it requires an educated and informed public, but that wasn't the nature of baltimore's error. I simply issued a correction, not a statement about the sorry state of our democracy.

Paul J. O'Rourke April 13, 2012 03:07 PM

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