"Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem more afraid of life than death."
James F. Byrnes
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it."
I'm of the opinion that American society has peaked and is now in the throes of an implosion. It's the only reasonable explanation I can find for the hubris of stupidity I see in a full half of the population. When lies are heralded as great conquests, when hyper-aggressive law enforcement can be applauded for trampling on the Constitution, and when we see other countries pursuing scientific achievement while we flounder, bickering over petty religious squabbles instead of finding common ground - well, let's just say it's rather disturbing.
Let's not stop there, however. American business is in shambles. Fannie and Freddie are about to be taken over by the government, which has already artificially sustained, if not rewarded, very bad decisions. What sort of free market doesn't allow idiots to fail? If you make bad decisions, you should suffer the consequences. Instead, our government sustains those bad decisions, drawing them out endlessly (seen the American airline industry lately?).
I have a high school acquaintance who likes to rail about how Obama is too liberal, possibly a Marxist, FUD, FUD, doom and gloom. Yet the present administration has done far more to undermine the country than any future leader will be able to do. Look at the despotic and violent tactics in St Paul this past week while the administration's party had its convention. Not only were police initiating violence against peaceful protesters and peacekeepers, but they actually targeted journalists and medics. What sort of country are we living in that not only actively seeks to oppress the citizens, but goes out of its way to quash reporting on the incidents and medical support?!? Yet they congratulate themselves on a job well done!
Then there's the mediocrity of American business. I've seen many IT shops throughout my career and one thing is constant: they're all a mess. I view IT as a window into the soul of the business. If you can't figure out how to properly manage your technical organization, than you're not going to be able to manage the rest of your org well, either. Simply put: I often wonder how any company stays in business.
The irony is that this industry of ours relies on so-called "best practices" - which, as Scott Adams noted in Dilbert this past week, is just code for mediocrity. When did we get to the point that this was blindly acceptable? When did we decide as a people that average was fine, innovation was too much work, creativity was crazy talk, free speech was threatening, and medical care too much hassle?
So, I wonder, is there any recovery for our ailing, failing society? Can we cut from ourselves the cancer of negative, angry politicians corrupted beyond recognition? Or will we remain in the grasp of organized crime by way of dispassionate multination corporations? It is these orgs that are threatened by freedom, liberty, and civil rights. The more freedom and open disclosure we have, the more likely their corruption is to be exposed. Their mediocrity will be questioned, and they will either fail or be forced to correct their ways.
I fault the managers of the economy in the government and the Federal Reserve for not allowing the economy to nose-dive and then self-correct. Instead, we limp along seeing real inflation out-pacing growth in income, we see Americans without health coverage, and we see outright despotism in places like the White House, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and played out in the streets of St Paul, MN. A properly structured and trained DHS organization should have been on the side of the protesters, defending them against overzealous law enforcement, rather than organizing the thug squads to drive out, raiding protest planning parties, manufacturing conflict where none existed.
You'll note that hundreds of arrests were made. Where are the charges? They're few and far between, if they exist at all. Law enforcement was used to oppress freedom of speech, expression, and journalism. As in business, the tyranny of despotic rule and police state oppression serve a purpose counter to the best interests of industry and society. If the goal is to suppress and placate, then congratulations, we're doing swell. However, there is then no room for complaining by politicians and business leaders as their organization erode and collapse from the lack of innovation and creativity. You lose your right to complain when your actions have directly resulted in the problem at hand. The only path to recovery and revitalization is a wholesale redress of the system, including the arrest, fair trial, and eventual imprisonment of those thugs who are responsible for the present environment. No, that's not bin Laden and al Qaeda. It's people like Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld, Clinton, Podhoretz, and so on.
I leave you with a couple more quotes from Jefferson:
"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere."
Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams, 1787.
"Most codes extend their definitions of treason to acts not really against one's country. They do not distinguish between acts against the government, and acts against the oppressions of the government. The latter are virtues, yet have furnished more victims to the executioner than the former, because real treasons are rare; oppressions frequent. The unsuccessful strugglers against tyranny have been the chief martyrs of treason laws in all countries."
Thomas Jefferson: Report on Spanish Convention, 1792