We need Basic Income Now Rather Than Later

American Capitalism is dying and the people at the top of the system know it. Watch the panic with which the upper classes are hoarding wealth and taking it out of America. There’s another big crash coming because most of the money Wall Street shuffles around so frantically only exists on paper. Every once in a while somebody tallies it all up and the system crashes because the money isn’t really there. This will continue to happen periodically if we don’t make changes.

If we’re going to continue to support having a handful of fabulously wealthy individuals #BasicIncome will be a necessity. The masses are not going to let this system continue to reward .1% while the rest of us can barely get by. If we are going to avoid the violent reaction this system is rushing toward, people are going to need a little ease. 

I’m not kidding about violence. I think we’re well on the way toward our own French Revolution if the people at the bottom of our system are not made comfortable. The people at the top, especially those in government, are too removed from the reality of life in 2017 to see it coming. 

They don’t understand technology at all. Most of our congress is functionally illiterate in cyber space but the voters are not. We know how to get information and how to use it. You’ve got several generations of lower classes who spend time watching the fabulously wealthy on TV knowing that those people usually do nothing and produce nothing of any great import. Our media is feeding a monstrous sense of entitlement that will ultimately create one logical reaction – “why not me?”

Our elections are being manipulated. So far, the majority has become apathetic and don’t bother to vote. That is going to change as we continue to see good people put out of their homes in a system where empty houses far outnumber the homeless. Automation is about to put all those people out of their minimum wage jobs. People that are scraping by with 40 to 60 hour work weeks are soon going to be idle and Washington is about to take a chain saw to the safety net which is already piss poor. 

Activism is becoming easier and more effective in the age of Facebook and Twitter. The people at the top of the system didn’t learn the lesson that was the Women’s March on January 21st, but they’ll have more chances like the upcoming March for Science. The people are awake and connected like never before. We’re all “woke AF.” If you don’t know what that means, you’d better find out. You’d better find out fast.

There is no longer any justification to force people to live in poverty. There’s wealth and abundance in this world as never before and we all know it. We ALL know it. 

#BasicIncome can lift everybody up above the poverty line right now. These things aren’t that hard. Congress is putting on great theatrics about how hard it is to give people health insurance while we all watch knowing they could take the age restriction out of the Medicare law and make everyone happy (except a few big pharma lobbyists.) It would take five minutes and one sheet of paper and we all know it. 

People don’t get lazy when they get Basic Income. They get relief, they get relaxed and then they get creative. We could be looking at a new renaissance once people know the rent and electric are paid. Half of us could be entrepreneurs finding better ways to do all the things we have to do or want to do. People will still invent, innovate, strive for something better. 

Artists will make art, business people will do business, robots will do all the grunt work and people will be free to enjoy their lives and their families as never before. Basic Income is a moral imperitive. Now that it’s possible, failure to do it is unconscionable. 

Attention Liberals: There’s No Reasoning with Reptile

January 21st, 2011  This is a re-print of a post in my old blog, originally published May 2009. It’s becoming more relevant as the Right Wing is becoming more violent.

March 1, 2017 Reprint from the-goddess.org because

There are NAZIs in the WHITE HOUSE!

No, I’m not talking about actual snakes and lizards, and I’m not saying our opponents on the Right are snakes or lizards anymore than all of us are. I’m talking about the development of the human brain. I’m about to over-simplify some complex concepts, so bear with me, because I think understanding this model is vital to creating a more functional society. Most complex animals have a central nervous system that handles all the automatic functions of the body – the beating of the heart, breathing, anything your body does without having to think about it. Above this system developed a brain called the Reptilian Complex (R-Complex,) so named because it’s the part of our brain we have in common with snakes and lizards. This part of the brain holds our survival instincts. It governs the “fight or flight” or “approach-avoidance” reactions. Its only emotion is rage. Its only function is survival. When threatened, it tends to bite.

In humans, we have two more brain structures on top of the R.-Complex – the Limbic system and the Neo-Cortex. The Limbic Brain is the first thing to differentiate us from lower life forms like reptiles. It contains instinct (feeding, fighting, fleeing, fu*king) and emotion. It is social – mammals with this structure raise their young, unlike reptiles, who lay eggs and abandon their young, and will tend to live in groups to increase their chances of survival. If this area of the brain is stimulated by an electrical charge, it produces emotion. The man who first described the Triune Brain model, Paul D. MacLean, said that everything in the limbic system is either “agreeable” or “disagreeable.” It isn’t capable of higher functions like logical reasoning, it simply feels and reacts. This part of the brain forms part of the individual identity and has some capacity for memory.

The newest part of the human brain is the Neo-Cortex. This is the part of the brain that has nuance – logic, creativity, language and speech, spatial reasoning, sensory perception, conscious thought. These are the functions that allow us to create art, culture, literature and it’s the part we try to train with formal education. Unfortunately, we only occasionally have professional direction in learning to work with the Reptilian and Limbic brain, the training of which usually falls to parents with no knowledge of this level of operation. Our society pays dearly for this mistake, and we all deal with the logical results of frustration, anger, and lack of empathy produced in children by parents with perfectly good intentions. Brain development should be taught to kids in Junior High before they have a chance to reproduce, but that’s not the subject of this article. At this point we need to keep in mind that when active, the R-Complex can override all higher brain functions. In other words, a normal human will revert to Reptilian response when threatened or enraged.

Now, let’s look at the psychology involved in the development of ethical reasoning. Different cultures have different standards of what is good and what is bad, but humans tend to go through a certain process in learning to apply their ethics and cultural mores to their own behavior. Lawrence Kohlberg defined 6 stages of Moral and Ethical development, which I’m going to divide into 3 levels for the purpose of this discussion. Let’s look at a little chart:
Kohlberg's Stages of Moral and Ethical Development w/notes by M Swann

Now, if you look at that chart, there are three basic levels of Moral and Ethical Development. The Level 1 (Stage I) corresponds to the Approach/Avoidance, Fight-or-Flight instinctual response of the R-Complex. We see this level in small children and occasionally, college students.

Level 2 (Stage II) functions according to an external source of rules – the bible, the law, cultural or social expectations of family, friends, or neighbors, without question. This corresponds to the Limbic System’s ability to be social in order to survive. Everything at this level is either agreeable or disagreeable. In other words, everything at this level is good or bad, black or white, familiar or foreign. This level is best described as Fundamentalism when taken to an extreme, and groups that function here can demand conformity to the ascribed code to the extent that they will enforce the code with violence – prison, hate crimes, war.

Level 3 (Stage III) is the level where you start to apply logic to problems, to ask questions and make comparisons. You don’t necessarily agree with the people around you and you reach your own conclusions. This level corresponds, albeit imperfectly, to the Neo-Cortex.

The problem is, in our culture at least, most people get to Level 2 around the age of 8 years old and stay there. The majority of people never seriously explore a religion or belief system beyond the one they are born into. Most people follow their local customs and laws, or conform to their primary peer group. The higher functions, like abstract thought and critical thinking, are usually possible at around age 16, but development of those skills is often dependent upon one’s environment or educational opportunities.

What you believe doesn’t determine where you fall in the continuum. It’s how and why you believe what you believe that matters. You can be a Fundamentalist atheist as well as Christian or Muslim. You can be a very religious person with an open mind who loves new ideas and other cultures. The important difference between Level 2 and Level 3 is the level of certainty. Level 2 tends to think that their way is the only way or the best way, without question, and they can be threatened to the point of violence by anything that differs from the familiar for them. It takes absolute certainty that you are right to discriminate against, let alone attack, someone for an arbitrary reason or accident of birth.

Level 3 understands that logically, no one can really know who is right or wrong in matters or religion, society or culture. It’s all relative and at Level 3 there is room for doubt. Notice that the Religious Right in America, a fundamentalist movement, despises the “moral relativity” of the Liberal Left, calls the Left “elitist” and associates Liberal tolerance with higher education. It’s not just a difference in belief or ideology – it’s a differing level of moral and ethical development. No amount of reason will persuade a person functioning at Level 2, which is all emotion. When Level 2′s sense of absolute certainty is challenged, it is perceived as a threat to their survival, and they regress to the point where the Reptilian Brain overrides the higher brain functions and the only emotion at that level is rage. No amount of logic can cut through that.

America at its inception was a Level 3 society specifically designed to be the most liberal and equal country on earth, created by the advanced reasoning skills of the minds of Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, John Adams and Ben Franklin, among others. The structure of the new government had to be compromised to get the cooperation from reactionary economic forces that relied on the legal practice of slavery, and the original design was altered to allow them to begin. Ultimately, Jefferson and the others had faith in future generations that we would move our government toward their reason-based ideal, and we’ve managed to move somewhat in that direction, though we experience conservative backlash at regular intervals. We’re fighting a conservative backlash now that began with Ronald Reagan and went to it’s most outrageous extreme during the Bush Administration. Now we’re faced with the aftermath of a government that funneled billions of dollars to private interests at the expense of the taxpayers, and all but destroyed the civil liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. As much as our new President Obama is an improvement, he may still be too conservative to prosecute war crimes committed by his predecessors.

We need to move Left in this country. We need single payer health insurance, but its proponents are not even allowed a seat at the table. We have evidence of war crimes but it looks as if this administration won’t pursue legal redress even though failing to do so violates national and international law. Billions of dollars are still being funneled to private interests with no benefit to the taxpayer. People are still denying the right to marry to an entire segment of the population based on the incorrect assumption that marriage has anything to do with monotheist religion. Women’s bodies are still subject to control by the state. It’s time for us to live up to the Jeffersonian ideal.

Now, the problem we face is this: How do you pull a majority of the population into a higher level of moral and ethical development? Reason won’t work with someone stuck at Level 2. They don’t have critical thinking skills and they aren’t open concepts or cultures in conflict with the one they’re born into. Now that the Republican party is facing its own loss of power and prestige, a threat to its survival, they have completely regressed to Level 1 functioning. Reptiles lack empathy, logic, and are based in rage and fear. It’s no coincidence that I just described Dick Cheney’s recent media blitz, telling us all we’re going to die if we don’t torture people in violation of international law even though torture doesn’t work.

There is also the additional problem that the leaders of the Right have financial interests in keeping the status quo, and they understand these levels of functioning. They are extremely adept at manipulating people with good intentions but poor educations. The only solution I see to moving us Leftward is education, but we know our schools aren’t up to the task right now and we can’t wait several generations for change. The only way to reach most people is through the popular media. Short of strapping everyone down and making them watch Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann, I don’t know how we reach them. I only know that it has to be done.

Any ideas? I’d love to hear them.

CHOICE 2017 because not a damned thing has changed

Originally published as:

Blog for Choice 2011, Here we are again January 19th, 2011

I’m sick of writing about Choice in a country that guarantees its citizens the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. You’d think that by this point in the 21st century, people would understand what that means, but they don’t because we are becoming the most ignorant developed nation in the world.

A little education would go a long, long way in this culture. There is ZERO scriptural basis to oppose abortion. In the Old Testament, the death of a baby over one month old was worth 5 shekels for a boy, 3 for a girl. Abortion and infanticide were common. And then we have passages in the bible like Psalm 137 where people wax rhapsodic about dashing the babies of their enemies against the stones. That “god” was never concerned with the disposition of fetuses, except when encouraging genocide.

Moving forward, Jesus, if he ever lived, never said a word about abortion. He talked about slavery and war and giving your wealth to the poor and caring for the sick, but not one word attributed to him was about abortion. Such glaring omission leads me to believe he wasn’t overly concerned with it.

The Christian hierarchy changed their minds about abortion every hundred years or so, and their lurid imaginations varied from group to group,  but when you get right down to it, the opposition to abortion on religious grounds is a fiction perpetuated by priests who know full well that there’s power and profit in numbers. Zero. religious. grounds.

Until it has a fully functioning brain, in about the 5th month of gestation, a fetus is only potential life. It may theoretically become a living being, but it isn’t one yet. That’s why you get a birth certificate when you are born – that’s when you become an actual person.

Now, a young, fertile, sexually active woman is ACTUAL life. She’s a person. She has dreams and memories, feelings and ideas, and a kind of value that is not limited to the function of her genitalia. She lives, she breathes, she probably works and owns things, she might even practice a religion, or none, as she so chooses.

Now here’s where we run into that disconnect created by the sorry state of sex education in this country. ACTUAL life trumps theoretical life. An adult woman with a functioning brain and uterus has 100% discretion as to what she does and does not do with her own fucking uterus. She may choose to lend it to the cause of creating life, or she may not. That’s her choice because that’s her uterus. We call that “autonomy” and adult humans everywhere are assumed to have a right to it.

Now, sometimes, things around a birth go wrong. That’s Nature, and destiny and it’s sad and tragic, but should terminating a pregnancy be required to sustain that woman’s ACTUAL life, that is NOT a choice, because as human beings, we have a social contract to keep each other alive if we can. Survival is not a choice. It’s a given.

I know I’m being exceptionally nasty in my tone, because I have this image in my mind that won’t go away. It’s a photograph of a nude woman who bled to death after a botched abortion in unsafe conditions, and you know what? I want us to raise generation after generation of free, autonomous daughters who never have to see that horrific image again, and it is completely possible for us to do it.

You can believe ANYTHING you want and I’ll defend your right to do it. You have NO RIGHT, however, to make law based on anything but reason, compassion and common sense because that’s the way the United States of America is deliberately, thoughtfully, designed.  You believe what you want, I’ll believe what I want, and we’ll make sound medical decisions and personal life choices privately and according to our own consciences, just as free, autonomous adults in an industrialized nation do.