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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd
2005-01-09 - 2:10 p.m.
New Years - A Time to Reflect
New Years is traditionally a time to reflect on the past and to look forward to the future. Little hints coming from the White House about President Bush's proposed budget indicate a grim outcome for the poor, for the National Institute of Health, and probably for Public Broadcasting, I'm guessing. There's every indication this administration would like to silence Jim Lehrer and Bill Moyer, who tell it to us like it is.
Jared Diamond in his op-ed piece,The Ends of the World As We Know Them gave a list of factors that have caused collapses of civilizations in history: "damage people have inflicted on their environment; climate changes; enemies; changes in friendly trading partners; and the society's political, economic and social responses to these shifts."
He gave several - many - examples. Enough to cause a thinking person to become depressed if they look at that list and where we in this country are today. Another lesson learned from history involves "failure of group decision-making." We're looking at an administration of "Yes, Sir." Every independent thinker has been eliminated from the administration, either by design or through frustration. "A society contains a built-in blueprint for failure if the elite insulates itself from the consequences of its actions.... Mayan kings, Norse Greenlanders, and Easter Island chiefs made choices that eventually undermined their societies. They themselves did not begin to feel deprived until they had irreversibly destroyed their landscape."
He asks the question: "Could this happen in the United States? It's a thought that often occurs to me here in Los Angeles, when I drive by gated communities, guarded by private security patrols, and filled with people who drink bottled water, depend on private pensions, and send their children to private schools. By doing these things, they lose the motivation to support the police force, the municipal water supply, Social Security and public schools. If conditions deteriorate too much for poorer people, gates will not keep rioters out. Rioters eventually burned the palaces of Maya kings and tore down the statues of Easter Island chiefs; they have also already threatened wealthy districts in Los Angeles twice in recent decades." Historically, our oceans have protected us from external threats. 9/11 proved that is no longer true. North Korea rattles its sabers as I write this. "In recent years, we have responded to foreign threats largely by seeking short-term military solutions at the last minute.But how long can we keep that up?" People like Jared Diamond in his "Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies," and his forthcoming book, "Collapse: How Societies Choose or Fail to Succeed" give fair warning. Our civilization, unlike many of those cited by Diamond in his article, have the opportunity to heed the warnings of historians and archeologists. We have newspapers and television that warn of the consequences of cutting down the forests, of global warming, and of the depletion of natural resources. He asks, logically, "Will we choose to use it?"
Our President admits he doesn't read. Do our representatives in Congress. Are they willing to stand up as Barbara Boxer did this week, to stand up and be willing to say what needs to be said. To stand up and provide the checks and balances the fathers of the Constitution intended?