Reflections on the First Decade of The New Millennium

The Long View

I just finished reading the link below and I began to reflect on the toll our wars are putting on our country’s soldiers children as well as the toll taken on the lives of the soldiers themselves. NYT: Deployment takes toll on service families

When I used to design electronics gear it was a given that, beyond parts and labor, you needed to budget for spare parts to be produced and stored until needed, the cost of the repairs over the expected useful life of the product, plus an inflation guestimate.  It’s the same for anything we make or build.  A bridge needs paint, a road or boat needs repair, an army must be ready and able, a child needs education, and a body needs healthcare.

This all seems to be common sense but there is precious little of it in practice.

Roadwork gets done because people notice potholes immediately and cause them to curse the mayor whose political future may be in doubt.

Bridges are different because once the ribbon is cut and the champagne drunk, maintenance will be shorted because of political (no new taxes) reasons until the bridge falls down.  Tunnels are slightly different because more people are claustrophobic.  It’s easy to see when a piece of the ceiling falls down.  People don’t like to sail on a “ship of fools.”

Children need education.  Well, maybe not art, but certainly arithmetic, maybe not music, reading, of course, language – not an American priority. Critical thinking – definitely not an American priority.  We see education as the bare minimum required to keep the machine running.

Vision is a luxury we have not cultivated.

A body needs maintenance.  Ostensibly for humanistic reasons but actually because a body is a piece of the societal organism.  Society is the incorporated entity we serve for the common benefit of all.  We are told this and it must be so.

An army must present a credible threat to aggression.  A threat of aggression is a different thing.

If the totality of these elements of our environmental system is out of balance, our system is sick and must be analyzed outside of a democratic forum.  Politicians are beholden to those who get them elected and they are seldom the people who ‘think’ their will has been served.  Democracy is fickle, investing in its members the right to self destruct.

Their “will,” like “free will” isn’t free at all.  It is shaped by the enculturative effect of campaign money contributions.  The “freedom” we think we have is an illusion that is being more circumscribed moment by moment as our location, state of mind, likely activities, buying decisions, and beliefs are known and directed to a more microscopic degree than before in history.

So the thesis of all of this is that bad long-range design is lacking in America.  There is no holistic (and I usually avoid that word because it tends to be sappy and imprecise) overview of the interdependency of the subsystems of our society affect each other.  Like strategy in chess one uses tactics and gambits, but they are used in the context of a strategy, not to win but to achieve an end.

Some societies are good at it, some bad.  USSR – bad,  China – good.  Why?

Ignoring the teething problems that are inevitable after any revolution (including our own) China has successfully moved from an agrarian society to an industrial marvel in less than 50 years.

They have recovered Hong Kong from the British, Macau from the Portuguese, Tibet, and, I predict, eventually Taiwan.  The Chinese look to the future with 50 and 100-year perspectives.  As with hurricane models, a cone of possible outcomes can be projected and the effect of changing parameters (political decisions) can be seen in the variation the projections.

Our republic, on the other hand has a vision into the future of four and six years.  As we have seen recently visions of the future can swing wildly every four years, not because of any rational reason but because charismatic movements can change strategic direction with little regard for societal aims.  In fact, the aims of society are up for grabs every four years.  America seems to be growing the seeds of its own destruction.  – Carlos


About carlos

I'm a curious person, of reasonable intellect, "on the beach" (retired) and enjoying my interest in anthropology, language, civil rights, and a few other areas. I've been a hippie/student/aerospace tech writer in the '60s, a witness to the Portuguese revolution in the ‘70s, a defense test engineer and witness to the Guatemalan genocide in the '80s, and a network engineer for an ISP in the '90s. Now I’m a student and commentator until my time is up. I've spent time under the spell of the Mesoamerican pyramids and the sweet sound of the Portuguese language. I've lived in Europe, traveled in Brazil, Central America, Iceland, New Zealand, and other places. My preferred mode of travel is with a backpack and I eat (almost) anything local. Somehow, many of the countries I have been to have had civil unrest (for which I was not responsible). I'm open to correspond with anyone who might share my liberal, humanist interests. I live in San Buenaventura, California.
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