The Weiner Component #52 – Values: The Puritan Tradition vs. Reality

Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s vice presidential choice in the 2012 Presidential Election and a current member of the House of Representatives, stated that by reducing the amount the Federal Government spends on food stamps by billions we were really doing the poor a favor.  This would make them more self-reliant, more anxious to go out and find some sort of job in order to support their families. Of course there have to be jobs out there to find.  If the country is going through some sort of recession as it has since 2008 and there are no jobs to find then the poor have to become more creative in finding work and surviving.  This to Ryan is doing women with infants who need proper protein in order for their brains to properly develop or under-employed people or those who cannot find work, or veterans, who for one reason or another, have not been able to get back into the economy a favor.  Is this an American value?  Is it real?

Mitt and Ann Romney on December 22, 2007, at a...

Mitt and Ann Romney on December 22, 2007, at a campaign event in Londonderry, New Hampshire. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Paul Ryan’s value system, whether he knows it or not, came from our Puritan Heritage which permeated throughout the United States during most of our history.  The basic tenant of Puritan belief came from John Calvin’s Doctrine of Predestination.

In the 16th Century the Protestant Revolutions occurred in Germany, England, and Switzerland. Before that the only official religion in Europe was the Catholic Church.  Protestantism was a protest against the abuses of the Church.

John Calvin (1509 – 1584), a French theologian and pastor, who set up a theocracy in Geneva from 1541 to 1549, promulgated, among other things, this Doctrine of Predestination.  The theory states that God is absolute, and that He knows everything: past, present, and future.  Consequently, He knows when everyone will be born and He knows every thought and act they will commit during their entire lifetimes.  Finally, He knows, even before they are born, whether they will ascend to Heaven when they die or whether they will go to Hell.  From the moment of their birth He knows if they are saints or sinners.

This is the Doctrine of Predestination.  Everyone’s final resting place has been predestined from the time before they were born.  The theory had been put forward by St. Augustine in his writings but the Catholic Church had never chosen to develop the theory.

In the 17th Century the Puritans, following in Calvin’s footsteps, set up a theocracy of the Elect in the Massachusetts Colony in what was then the New World.  In their minds it brought the sovereignty of God to earth and allowed God’s elect, those who would eventually go to heaven, to run the colony.  Today Reformed Congregational and Presbyterian Churches stem from Calvinism and Puritanism.

Their values gradually became inculcated into the American psyche and the belief that God rewarded the elect or chosen became meshed with success in our society.  It followed from this reasoning that successful people were closer to heaven than the rest of society and the belief that God rewarded those who he knew would go to heaven by rendering them successful on earth.  Somewhere along the line this success became tied to earning money.  The rich were successful; they were the chosen ones to lead the society.

That would make Mitt Romney, a man who engaged in Venture (Vulture Capitalism, a term first used by Rick Perry, the governor of Texas) one of God’s elect, even though this man’s company took over companies, raided their retirement fund, sold off the pieces of the establishment for millions, and left the former employees without jobs.

Generally this belief is true today.  While the religious aspect is presumably gone the basic concept is part of the American psyche.  Success in our society can be measured in dollars and cents.  This may be one of our primary social values.  But is it real?  Aren’t there also other values that are more important?

Unfortunately this belief has permeated throughout all levels of our society and has equally affected all levels of our society.  Those who are not wealthy expect to make it at some time during their earthly existence.  Many laws such as the tax codes have been passed mainly for the benefit of the wealthy.  There has never been loud objection to these laws because most people expect to have a turn at being rich sometime in their lives.  It’s nice to believe the unbelievable!

Looking around throughout the United States one sees other values that are far more important because they affect far larger groups of people.  We tend to be a nation generally of families, parents and children, one generation trying successfully to raise another.  We also tend to be a nation divided largely into three economic classes.  There are the wealthy who can easily afford everything.  Then those that can generally afford it, the middle class, who will more easily raise the next generation.  Finally those that barely survive or don’t really survive economically and find life in this country a constant and often depressing enterprise, the lower class.  There is also a fourth group, the homeless, generally called the underclass, which also include a number of children and veterans.  The goal of all these groups is to successfully raise the next generation.  This goal is not only dependent upon the youngsters themselves but also upon their parent(s) economic base.  The middle class can, with the exception of college tuition, afford it; the lower and underclass cannot.

There should be a national priority allowing everyone in the society to be able to succeed.  In a nation with a GDP of about 17 trillion dollars we can, with government help, easily afford to do this.  The distribution of the National Income and the taxation system of the country favors the upper few percent at the expense of all the rest of the population.  We are out of kilter; our priorities are wrong.  The system opposes what it should be supporting.  It is time to come to terms with what we truly consider important.

From a religious aspect we should consider that the primary gift of God is the gift or life.  The proper living of that life is a demonstration of appreciation to God for his gift.  To me this is a much more important value than wealth.  Of course people need a reasonable standard of living to go along with this concept.  A country with a GDP of about 17 trillion dollars can, with proper organization, easily afford to provide a decent standard of living for its entire population.

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The Weiner Component #14 – Random Thoughts on the 2012 Election

voting day in a small town

If a political party in a country like the United States attempted, with a measure of success, to suppress the vote in the Election of 2012 then how can we expect honest elections in countries like Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, or Pakistan?  Are those other countries supposed to do what we say but not what we do?

I remember in various past elections in nations that do not generally hold elections we sent over representatives like former president Jimmy Carter or various Congressmen of both major parties to observe the honesty of these elections and report on them to the various democratic nations of the world.  From what I recall what these people observed were honest elections but from the reports that emerged afterwards a lot of the honesty was very questionable.  One would wonder who set up the model for this kind of “free election.”

Barak Obama won the presidential vote by 332 electoral votes over 206 for Mitt Romney.  He needed 270 out of a total of 538 to be President for a second term.  He won the popular vote by 63,467,689 votes over 59,645,517 cast for Romney.  He achieved 50.7% of the votes over 47.7% for the losing candidate.  Almost four million more votes than Mitt Romney.  The other few percent of the vote were cast for third party candidates.

The overall turnout of voters was estimated at 57.5 to 60% of the people eligible to vote.  The victory was greater than any candidate had received in the last twenty years.  What would the turnout have been if there were no attempts to suppress the vote in many of the red (Republican controlled) states?  An interesting question!

There had been massive attempts in all the states run by Republican governors and Republican legislatures to suppress the vote, mainly among minorities, the elderly, and the young voters just coming of age.  One method of doing this was to require a dated official picture I.D.  If a person had given up driving because of age and had an expired drivers license that would not be a valid I.D.  In one state a gun license was a valid I.D.

While many of these attempts to limit the vote were reversed by the courts they were still to some extent successful.  Some states like Florida had both a very long ballet and very long lines, with waiting periods of eight hours or more.  The election was on a Tuesday, a workday; many people gave up a day’s pay in order to vote; others had children that had to be taken and picked up from school or other errands that had to be attended to.  Early voting days and times were shortened in Florida and many other red states.  Voter suppression seems to have been a coordinated effort by members of the Republican Party.

The question, I would raise, is what would the numbers have been like if there had been no voter suppression?  Oboma’s popular vote could easily have been well over a million more votes, and possibly two, three, or four more million popular votes and a considerably higher number of electoral votes.

Presumably what we have to look forward to, according to statements from some prominent Republicans, are voter picture I.D. cards in the 2014 midterm elections and in the 2016 Presidential Election.  Possibly in Republican controlled states even longer lines and longer ballets than in 2012.

As a result of the 2010 Census, which occurs every ten years to reapportion the number of seats in the House of Representatives, all the states redrew their congressional boundaries.  In most cases the political party that has the majority in both legislative houses is in charge of this process.  What has happened is an incredible system of gerrymandering.  This is particularly true in the red or states with Republican majorities in their legislatures. Ohio, for example, has a larger number of Democrats than Republicans registered.  The map drawn by the Republicans give them the greatest possible representation in both the state and Federal elections.  One Democrat, in the state legislature, stated that in Ohio the legislature picks its constituents rather than have the people choose their representatives.

I would strongly suspect that it is time for a series of lawsuits demanding that non partisans commissions be set up in all states to divide the states into regional rather than erratic political voting precincts

The 2012 Election cost the Republicans some seats in The House of Representatives but still left them with a majority of seats.  Would non-gerrymandered state elections have given the same results?  I doubt it.  We need a return to fairness and honesty in both state and Federal elections.

Mitt Romney the Republican candidate, stated, approximately a week after he seriously lost the Presidential Election of 2012, that the reason he lost was because his opponent the Democratic candidate, Barak Oboma, gave things to the minorities, Latinos, Blacks, and Young Voters and then got them to vote.  In essence he won the election by bribing over fifty percent of the electorate.  His running mate, Paul Ryan, stated that the problem was that everyone in the urban centers voted.

To me these are all strange statements coming out of a void.  Didn’t Romney promise in a presentation before wealthy taxpayers, on record in front of a TV camera, that he would lower taxes for the upper few percent of the income earners?  Did all the multi-millionaires contribute the two billion plus dollars to Romney’s campaign altruistically?  Didn’t they expect all sorts of benefits for themselves from his election?  Isn’t Romney the one who promised to give out goodies and this to the upper few percent of the population?  And further wasn’t all this also a conflict of interest because Mitt Romney is a member of the upper one percent?

The thought of Romney and his actions leaves a bad taste.  The man is essentially arrogant and uncaring.  He wanted to be president and he didn’t see it as assuming responsibility for the overall welfare of all the people in the United States.  His wife’s comment was, “It’s our turn.”  His accusations of people being bribed to vote for Obama denotes a total lack of understanding of what the job entail.  He saw it as a means of prestige rather than as a massive assumption of responsibility.

Paul Ryan complained that too many people turned out to vote in the election.  Not only are his plans for government strange, but also so is he.  An election in a democracy is supposed to express the will of the majority, not just those Ryan wants to vote.  The purpose of government under the Constitution is to serve the needs of the people, not fulfill the wants or beliefs of the current controlling part of the Republican Party.

Benjamin Franklin stated that: “In free governments the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns.  For the former therefore to return among the later was not to degrade but to promote them.”  Isn’t it time that all Republicans started to act like servants of the people as the Constitution ordains rather than righteous fanatics who want to take the people where they don’t want to go?

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The Weiner Component #9 – Romney & History

Louis XIV, King of France, in 1661.

Louis XIV, King of France, in 1661. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the Middle Ages in Europe ended an Age of Kings began. The rational for the efficiency or inefficiency of these kings was a philosophy called the “Divine Rights of Kings.” This justification for monarchy was, essentially, developed during the reign of Louis XIV of France (1638 – 1715). He ruled for a period of seventy-three years and was called, “The Sun King.” Louis XIV was famous for his extravagances and his wars, both of which almost bankrupted France.

The philosophy argued that God choose who would be king. If the people had followed the teachings of the Lord they were rewarded with a “good” king; but they had sinned then they got a bad or even cruel king. In either case for anyone to question the king’s behavior was to question the wisdom of God.

We, in the United States, are facing a similar situation in the Election of 2012. If Romney is elected the nation will be direly punished. If Romney and Ryan are elected the nation will be following a similar course; it would be government of, by, and for the rich.

In addition Romney, Ryan, and the Republicans are advocating policies to limit the rights of all women in the United States. They feel or believe that women are not capable of making decisions that pertain to themselves and their own health. Both Clod Akin and Paul Ryan feel and have previously tried to pass legislation to the effect that all women should not have abortions in all cases. This includes situations where the women could die giving birth, or rape, or incest, which is another form of rape. The financial cost of having and rearing the child would fall on the woman. In addition if she were to have an abortion Akin and Ryan want it legally defined as murder and the lady prosecuted for the crime. To them the legal rights of the fetus supercede all rights of the woman.

It strikes me that if women can’t be trusted with basic decisions concerning their lives then can they be trusted with the vote? Should there be an amendment to the Constitution taking the vote away from them and placing it safely in the hands of white males?

In fact seeing all the attempts of Republican state legislatures to limit the vote of all minorities except that of white republicans would it make further sense to limit the right to vote to property owners who have a stake in the welfare of the society? Perhaps a property or wealth limit should be set for people to have the right to vote, say property and possessions equaling one million dollars would be reasonable. This would definitely limit the vote to the white minority in the country and keep them in power for a good part of the future. This would also put us in the same position as France was in shortly before the French Revolution; and also historically where we were during the early days of our nation when the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution.

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