Posts Tagged With: dysfunctional behavior


People have told me that I focus too heavily on all the corrupt and dysfunctional behavior in our society and the world at-large, and not enough on finding solutions to all the myriad of problems I’ve identified. Of course, in almost all instances, the solutions lie in applying a rational, common sense approach toward resolving these issues. But rationality and common sense are often too much to ask of people mired in delusional wastelands, or caught up in the philosophy  of opposing any meaningful change in their lives, or in society as a whole. The way it’s always been has to be the way it always will be, without exception. Life is so much more uncomplicated if we just follow the old traditions, no matter how non-sensical they may be. In any event, I thought I would offer up some solutions to what seem to be intractable deficiencies in the way we go about spending the few short years we have on this planet.

Lets start with the presidency. No matter how corrupt and dysfunctional you may view politics in this country, there is no denying that the President of the United States is the single most powerful person in the world. This is true whether you love or hate politics, or whether you make the sign of the cross to ward of being involved in the political system, as one would try to ward off a vampire attack. The President is the ultimate leader, not only for this country, but for the entire world population. It would, therefore, seem prudent that the process for choosing this person would be well-thought out and highly rational. Instead, just the opposite is true. We have a system for presidential candidate selection that would make any third-world, banana republic blush in shame. First of all, we have essentially a 2 party system that has been hopelessly compromised because of special interest groups. The Republican Party caters to the agenda of religious fanatics, (they call them evangelicals in this country. Sounds so much better than looney-tunes, bible-thumpers.) Also to big money interests in business and on Wall Street. While the Democratic Party is beholden to labor organizations like the teachers unions, and to environmental extremists. These groups represent supposedly the base of each party, and are never to be offended, especially in an election year. There are some third party candidates; but they never seem to garner any traction, and usually wind up getting less than 1% of the vote. And sadly, a third party, beholden to no special interest group, is just what this country needs.

Next comes the party selection process. This would appear to be crucial since one of the two people selected by each party will wind up being, as I’ve said, the most powerful person on the planet. Unfortunately, the selection process has turned out to be a farce almost beyond description. Each party has, what are called primaries, with the earliest one being in January for an election that won’t take place until early November. The small state of New Hampshire used to hold the first primary in February; but then, the even smaller state of Iowa decided to jump the gun. Iowa holds what is called a caucus in January so it can be the first one diving into the political swimming pool. A caucus is where a tiny fraction of the state’s population meets in somebody’s house, or perhaps a school room, and votes on their preference for their party’s nomination. It’s considered a lot if 1 or 2% of the state’s populace bothers to vote in the caucus. Nevertheless, it gives the winning candidate a leg up for winning future primaries and caucuses, at least as far as the media is concerned. Next comes the New Hampshire primary, where also a small number of people turn out to actually cast ballots in an election booth. If a certain candidate wins both the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary, they’ve garnered huge momentum going into the rest of the primaries, at least as far as the media is concerned. As a result, it’s often likely that that each party’s nominee has the nomination just about locked up before any of the larger states such as New York, California, or Texas hold their own primaries. How irrational.

The sane way would be to have national primary day in late June or early July, whereby all states would vote in either party’s primary on the same day. And instead of being held on a Tuesday, when most people have to be on the job, hold the vote on a weekend when most people are off, or don’t have school. Wouldn’t that be a lot more logical. You might even get better quality candidates this way. But one can almost hear the howls of protest should such a plan be proposed. Especially from people in Iowa and New Hampshire who would lose their special shining spotlight in the primary process. Can’t have this new-fangled thing called sanity entering our political system.

While we’re at it, lets change the time of the actual presidential election to perhaps early October. When the November timeframe was specified in the Constitution, the U.S. was almost exclusively an agricultural society. Our framers believed that by early November, all the crops would have been harvested on American farms, and farmers would no longer have the chores of bringing their produce to market. Today, only 1% of the population is engaged in agriculture. Isn’t it time to change election day to a period when mild weather prevails. We only get about a 60% turn out for a presidential election and far less in a non-presidential election year. Really  bad weather often arrives by early November, at least in Northern states, which further inhibits voter turn out. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have elections in September or early October when there is generally good weather, and have them on a weekend, when people don’t have the excuse for not voting because they had to go to work. I believe you would see much larger voter turn outs. So what are the chances of seeing these rational, common sense reforms being enacted into reality. Probably, between zero and minus zero.

I had planned to write about other major areas of American and world-wide dysfunctional practices that could be changed by simple, common-sense ideas, but I feel my energy level beginning to wane at this point. It’s that senior thing again.


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John Kerry, who was recently appointed Secretary of State by President Obama, has taken on the herculean task of trying to arrange a peace treaty between the Israelis and Palestinians. Kerry, as you may recall, lost a narrow election for president in 2004, when Ohio tipped into George Bush”s column. The loss was primarily attributed to a successful smear campaign undertaken by a right-wing fringe group, of Kerry’s record while serving in Viet-Nam during during the 1970s. Even though Kerry had earned 2 purple hearts and other medals for valor. But that would be the the topic for another blog.

In an event, as I’ve said, Kerry is trying mightily to arrange a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinian state, even though the odds of success are unimaginable. For over 65 years ( since creation of the state of Israel) the 2 sides have been locked in a state of deadly combat, if not outright war. The Palestinians have refused to recognize Israel’s legitimacy and its right to exist. They have undertaken decades long terrorist acts against Israel that have cost thousands of lives. In retaliation, Israel has imposed the harshest of restrictions against the Palestinians that have made simple everyday tasks become the severest of burdens. It’s a never ending cycle of death, destruction and misery. Furthermore, since the U.S. is Israel’s primary, and indeed, only benefactor, Palestinians also vent their hatred toward this country. For example, when 9/11 occurred, Israel lowered all its flags to half-mast, in sympathy with the tragedy we experienced. On the other hand, the Palestinians were literally dancing in the streets.

Thus, Kerry’s chances of achieving peace between the 2 sides face longer odds than winning Powerball. Nevertheless, he’s gotten both sides to agree to sit down at a negotiating table in Washington, which can be considered a minor miracle in itself.  But it raises the question of how many decades, how many generations, how many centuries does it take before it dawns on people that the dysfunctional cycle of vengeance, retaliation, and revenge simply doesn’t work. That maybe, instead, as they used to say in the 1970s, they should give peace a chance. Couldn’t hurt.

Another example of people behaving badly was an article in today’s Wall Street Journal.  As we all know, we have been fighting in Afghanistan for well over 10 years. The U.S. has lost thousands of lives in that venture, to say nothing of the thousands more whose lives are effectively over due to severe war injuries such as brain damage, loss of limbs, blindness, etc. To say nothing of the hundreds of billions of dollars we’ve poured down that sink hole. Some of those billions have been spent on educational facilities, especially for women. Until U.S. entry, women in Afghanistan had no right to an education; indeed they generally had no rights at all. They could be murdered by men who then faced no punishment by claiming  that the woman had somehow dishonored the family name. In any event, U.S. largesse has resulted in our taxpayers picking up the tab for erecting brand new universities and other educational facilities in Afghanistan. The problem is, that large numbers of students in these universities have now turned to radical Islam, which in olden days used to be called outright fascism. They form huge rallies to protest the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, and advocate for the return of the Taliban, which is merely the Afghan version of Al-Quida. So much for all the good our sacrifice of blood and treasure has done. If we pull out in 2014, as President Obama has promised, it’s likely that Afghan society will again be a place where women have no rights and radical-Islam rules the land.

So it begs the question of why people, in general, indulge in such dysfunctional behavioral patterns. When it’s often so clearly against their best interests. Not only can’t nations live in peace, but this is often true for individual families. Why do parents, at times, become estranged from their children, or vice versa. Or siblings become estranged from each other. Their own flesh and blood. If families can’t live together in peace, what hope is there for nations doing the same.

Why do people act destructively when it comes to their own health and well-being. Why do they do drugs, or drink excessively when it’s obvious that such habits will eventually kill them. Why do people still smoke, when decades of studies and information prove how destructive that is. In the U.S., the latest tally shows that nearly 45 million people, or almost 20% of the adult population, still can’t kick the habit. Even with all the horror stories of what smoking does to the human body. And all these 45 million people seem to migrate to Las Vegas casinos at one time or another. You seem them puffing away as they keep pouring money into the slots. Casinos are the one place left in our society where smokers can puff away to their heart’s content without being stigmatized. Casino owners are more than happy to accommodate smokers, who will usually behave just as compulsively about gambling as they do about smoking.

I guess it’s just ingrained in the human condition that large numbers of people will behave dysfunctionally. Indulging in personal behavior that will either physically or mentally destroy their lives. Indulging in endless cycles of vengeance, destruction and death, when dealing with perceived enemies. Voting in governments that will establish ruinous dictatorships as they recently did in Egypt. Or going no further than voting in a U.S. Congress that now has an 8% approval rating from the very people that put them there in the first place. People behaving badly. Dysfunction advancing forward. Perhaps the best advice is just to sit back and watch the parade as it goes marching along.

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