Summer temperatures in the U.S.’s southwestern deserts reset the human ‘rational’ button.
Yesterday’s visits to two Tucson WalMarts and a Target in search of an inner tube for a bike tire, reminded me of that fact. When tarmac temperatures approach the melting point of sneaker treads and too small sandals invite blistered toes, the search for shade becomes a driving factor for human behavior. The shade of the few sparse, small trees allowed to survive in parking malls is territory to be fought over. It is astounding how creative the human mind can be in such situations. The same being who cannot read the ‘Limit 20 Items’ sign can manage the calculus of parking 10 vehicles in four carefully measured and marked spaces. Like some insane game of musical chairs, the remaining customers search for larger vehicles precisely positioned to afford shade for the anticipated duration of the store visit. Folks who long ago gave up balancing their checkbooks because the math baffled them are suddenly experts in the orbital dynamics of the sun. When the need arises, individuals rise to meet it.
Individuals are rising in this great country to meet a need far more urgent than parking in the shade on a very hot August day in Arizona. The heat is on the Constitution and its Bill of
Rights, the movement of government on the right and on the left to turn on its citizens, the economy and debt, the healthcare industry, the steep increase in the number of government secrets, an unresponsive, bloated government rife with scandal and more foreign wars the politicians want our beleaguered soldiers to fight. If the rank and file American citizen feels like he or she is living in chaos, the conclusion is not far wrong.
I am a proud American. I believe that if the motive power of the nation is released from bondage, all problems can be solved. This nation has proven more than once that, like the Timex of old ‘it can take a licking and keep on ticking’. Right in the middle of the chaotic domestic and foreign mess in which this country finds itself, I read Tom W. Bell’s article Can We Correct Democracy? in The Freeman. What? Really? I like our republic framed by the Constitution and don’t even like democracy in the literal sense. After re-reading the article several times, I’ve come to the conclusion Bell may be on to something interesting. Bell makes the case that the corrective democracy vehicle would bring a broader voter base to the table in what would naturally become a self-limiting government. Bell writes:
“…Corrective democracy offers democracy, corrected. Because it operates only to trim back government excesses, corrective democracy runs little risk of degenerating into mob rule. It thus gives voters a more direct say in their government without giving them direct access to power…”
Mankind and his civilizations appear to run in cycles that became eccentric during the first 500 years of the Roman Empire and a little more out of round with signing of the Magna
Carta in 1215. A new orbital norm was attained, however, with the country that formed around the Constitution of the United States of America. In June 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution making it the Law of the land. From time-to-time over the past 225 years, energy injected into the system in the form of blood, sweat and tears has been required to maintain the orbit. Once again, we Americans find ourselves drowning in chaos; reflecting a fundamental change in the direction of governance. Will we elect to stay the republic we know and many of us love, will we elect to become a socialist state or will some entirely new approach be selected?
There is good news. Order may erupt from the chaos if the mathematicians are correct. Machines Like Us authors Jon Borwein and Michael Rose tell us that “Chaos Theory is a delicious contradiction – a science of predicting the behaviour of “inherently unpredictable” systems.” Perhaps they are correct. As the socio-political-economic environment of the U.S. escalates randomly to increasing chaos, more and more voices offering potentially viable solutions are being heard. Ideas are, once again, appearing in the marketplace and being purveyed for discussion and argument. Therein lays the hope for this once great country. One such idea is Bell’s ‘corrective democracy’, another comes from Levin, and still others arise from the tables at Starbuck’s where young intellectuals gather or the checkers tables in parks where the old men play, or the women gathering in the board room.
Edmund Burke in a Letter to William Elliot, May 26, 1795 must have had his crystal ball tuned
to maximum effectiveness when he wrote:
“How often has public calamity been arrested on the very brink of ruin by the seasonable energy of a single man? Have we no such man amongst us? I am as sure as I am of my being, that one vigorous mind without office, without situation, without public functions of any kind (at a time when the want of such a thing is felt, as I am sure it is) I say, one such man, confiding in the aid of God, and full of just reliance in his own fortitude, vigour, enterprize and perseverance, would first draw to him some few like himself, and then that multitudes, hardly thought to be in existence, would appear and troop about him.”
We await that person. The U.S.did not get to this point over night. It marched step by bone jarring step to this place and time. This place in time is a legacy of the Cold War-the maintenance of a standing military for the convenience of politicians, the use of politically correct language, the encroachment of private property rights, the services used as social engineering platforms, the erosion of a known value system, and the loss of direction in domestic and foreign policies. We are quickly becoming the very enemy we fought.