Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pope, Economy and Spirituality

Pope Benedict made a very important speech during his recent visit to Spain. Yahoo via Associated Press reported that:
As he arrived, Benedict reached out to all young people, saying he understood the desperation many felt because of today's economic uncertainties.

"The economy doesn't function with market self-regulation, but needs an ethical rationale to work for mankind," he told reporters traveling aboard the papal plane. "Man must be at the center of the economy, and the economy cannot be measured only by maximization of profit but rather according to the common good."

As manifested in the recent bulletin train crash in China, development for development's sake is a dead end.  In the end, we must recognize that all the development and economic growth should geared at improving the living standard of people collectively, while protect the environment and other species who are increasingly at our mercy. 

The increasing profits of corporations and the very few venture capitalists and fund managers, etc., if completely dissociated from the common good of the society, then something is definitely wrong.

This, unfortunately is happening right here, in the United States of America.

Growing up in the completely secular China, I have few appreciations of religion and even spirituality.

However, I start to appreciate some elements in these activities and thinking.

A completely secular society, such as China, can easily fall into the trap of materialism and the only god they should acknowledge, unfortunately is wealth.  People there strive to enrich themselves but in materials only, and the betterment of themselves in spirit, intellect, character, in not scorned upon, at least are ignored. 

US is a religious country.  However, the brand of Christianity here is quite self-centered and not very charitable.  It actually provides the rational for human kinds to exploit our environment recklessly for the profits of very few.

Instead of being a good steward of the earth, a member of community, we are morphing into a nation of cutthroats. 

How I long for the time people truly valued the learning and knowledge and strove to be good, as embodied by the music by Bach, paintings by Botticelli, or sculptures by Michelangelo.

I do concede that I viewed those period through the lens of distance with glossed over the unpleasantness of those era, which could be just as corrupt as ours; however, it was a time people do believe in the importance of the betterment of their souls.  We might not believe in souls, but we should try to improve ourselves, not just our accounting books.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Granting Voting and Other Human Rights to Corporations

People tend to criticize Republicans for not being compassionate.  How wrong they are!  The Republican are expanding their compassion much further than average human being could have imagined - they are making overture to grant human rights to corporations, including voting right for sure.

In January 2010, by citing First Amendment and granting free-speech right traditionally associated to human beings to the corporation, Supreme Court rejected limits on corporate spending on political campaigns [Washington Post]:
A divided Supreme Court on Thursday swept aside decades of legislative restrictions on the role of corporations in political campaigns, ruling that companies can dip into their treasuries to spend as much as they want to support or oppose individual candidates.

In a 5 to 4 decision, the majority cast its ruling as a spirited defense of the First Amendment, concluding that corporations have the same rights as individuals when it comes to political speech. Corporations had been banned since 1947 from using their profits to endorse or oppose political candidates, a restriction that the justices ruled unconstitutional.
And now, the compassion from the Republic Party just keeps growing.  Republican's presidential candidate, former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney made news by publicly, unequivocally claiming that corporations are people.  Bravo, Mitt!

Below is the New York Times story on Mitt Romney's assertion during his Iowa campaign:
“We have to make sure that the promises we make in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are promises we can keep, and there are various ways of doing that,” Mr. Romney said. “One is, we can raise taxes on people.”

“Corporations!” the protesters shouted, suggesting that Mr. Romney, as president, should raise taxes on large businesses.

“Corporations are people, my friend,” Mr. Romney responded, as the hecklers shouted back, “No, they’re not!”

“Of course they are,” Mr. Romney said, chuckling slightly. “Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people. Where do you think it goes?”

It was a telling, unscripted moment for Mr. Romney likely to be replayed on YouTube. In an instant, he seemed to humanize himself by pointedly squabbling with the group of hecklers, showing flashes of anger and defying his reputation as a sometimes stilted, unfeeling candidate.

But at the same time, he seemed to reinforce another image of himself: as an out-of-touch businessman who sees the world from the executive suite.
Well, though I surely don't know where the money corporations take in go, I do think Romeny's compassion should not be brushed aside easily.  After all, America is a born-again evangelical Christian nation, isn't it?

Therefore, I heartily endorse Romney's assertion, and demand on granting all human rights to corporations, and most important, the voting rights.

However, it is a bit tricky, logistically, to have corporations to vote and to stand in as candidates.  But, we are a resourceful bunch; if we cannot agree on the details, we can always go back to the intentions of our Founding Fathers (not Mothers for sure). 

Since our Founding Fathers' intentions were granting voting rights to property owners only, therefore, it makes absolute sense to grant the most monied entities - corporations - voting rights.   For the unenlightened, there is a term called Originalism, or, Original Intent: Originalists think that the best way to interpret the Constitution is to determine how the Framers intended the Constitution to be interpreted. They look to several sources to determine this intent, including the contemporary writings of the framers, newspaper articles, the Federalist Papers, and the notes from the Constitutional Convention itself. []

I found some background information on regarding the original intent of our founding fathers:
Typically, white, male property owners twenty-one or older could vote. Some colonists not only accepted these restrictions but also opposed broadening the franchise. Duke University professor Alexander Keyssar wrote in The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States:
At its birth, the United States was not a democratic nation—far from it. The very word "democracy" had pejorative overtones, summoning up images of disorder, government by the unfit, even mob rule. In practice, moreover, relatively few of the nation's inhabitants were able to participate in elections: among the excluded were most African Americans, Native Americans, women, men who had not attained their majority, and white males who did not own land.

John Adams, signer of the Declaration of Independence and later president, wrote in 1776 that no good could come from enfranchising more Americans:

Depend upon it, Sir, it is dangerous to open so fruitful a source of controversy and altercation as would be opened by attempting to alter the qualifications of voters; there will be no end to it. New claims will arise; women will demand the vote; lads from 12 to 21 will think their rights not enough attended to; and every man who has not a farthing, will demand an equal voice with any other, in all acts of state. It tends to confound and destroy all distinctions, and prostrate all ranks to one common level.

Property requirements were widespread. Some colonies required a voter to own a certain amount of land or land of a specified value. Others required personal property of a certain value, or payment of a certain amount of taxes. Examples from 1763 show the variety of these requirements. Delaware expected voters to own fifty acres of land or property worth £40. Rhode Island set the limit at land valued at £40 or worth an annual rent of £2. Connecticut required land worth an annual rent of £2 or livestock worth £40.
Now, I believe that I just proved why it is so rightful and important to voting rights to the wealthiest entities, corporations.  But why stop there?  All the human rights!

All the entitlements a human being enjoys should be extended to our dear corporation brothers and sisters, such as AIG, Lehmann Brothers, HP, Shell, Chevron, Ford, Apple, Google, Yahoo!

They ought to be able to collect social securities - if they are old enough, such as Coca Cola, etc.  But do they have to retire, aka stop being actively churning out sugared cold drink?  Maybe not.  Many social security collectors continue to earn money on the side.  Medicare and Medicaid too, if they need them.

But, naturally, they have to pay social security and medicare taxes.  Well, so be it.  We want to fair, don't we?

I would also propose that when a corporation breaks laws, causes deaths and engages in other mischeives, we ought to jail it - forbidding the corporation to practice in the term, and even impose death penalty upon it when its crime warrants such ultimate punishment - forbidding the corporate to engage in any business transactions for ever.

Also, we ought to regulate marriages of corporations, in case the corporates want to get married to each other are of same sex.  Too bad too that we can no longer legally to deny the voting rights, or any other human rights, to the poor, the colored, or the homosexuals (excluding their marriage rights to the persons they love naturally) - therefore, we have to compromise a bit on our Founding Fathers' Intentions.   This actually proves that we are not as rigid as our opponents charge us to be.  We do compromise, only on our own terms.

All these endeavors can be done.  Our country have the most resourceful lawyers if nothing else.  And all the troubles are not wasted.  How wonderful it would be if the governors in our countries are not the likes of Mr. Jerry Brown, or Mr. Mitt Romney, but Mr. Google or Mr. Fidelity!  And why stop at governors' mansions.  Corporations can occupy the White House and the chambers of Congress as well. 

Our corporations deserve every dignity and entitlement a human being enjoys. Welcome, my corporation brothers and sisters.

Tomorrow, we are to vote together. I have several tens of thousands dollars and that's how many votes I shall have; while you, you ought to have millions upon millions, and billions upon billions votes.

Hurray! We are in a truly enlightened and democratic era. The sun rises, perhaps from the west?

Sisyphus / 西西弗斯 / Sisyphus
Sisyphus © Matthew Felix Sun

Friday, August 5, 2011

Herakles, not Hamlet

The first term of the historic Obama presidency has passed its mid-point and now he is gearing up for his re-election.  In those pass year, he has proved extremely ineffective as he was extremely eloquence in his campaign trips.  In last few years, he surrendered again and again before many major battles and then came out declaring victories in the face of humiliating (to himself) and devastating (to us) defeats and squandered hand-own political edges.

He came to the presidency as the personification of great hope.  Yet, now, it looks more like the greatest hype.

I have no doubt of his great intelligence, his noble intentions and his admirable even temper.

Yet, for all those virtues, if he cannot get his agendas, no, our agendas, accomplished, how good this president is he?  Not much.

He has retreated again and again, arguing that all those defeats would be perfect debating points during his re-election campaign and he would deal his opponents a crushing defeat.  That line of argument is not even hopeful; it's delusional.

Let us admit it, that Obama's presidency would not achieve what we deem good for the nation.  He has served the historical purpose by smashing one racial ceiling; for that, we congratulate him and his voters, and thank them all.

Now, it's time for President Obama to accept the bitter reality.  He is not up to the demands of the tough job, facing the opponents with utter contempt for average American people, America and him.

Perhaps, he can still prevail in the general election.  But what's the purpose of that, if his second term is just as ineffective and disastrous as this one?

We need to have someone in the White House who can accomplish what we demand the president to accomplish.  Let's find a warrior who would fight tooth and nail.

We need Herakles; not Hamlet.

Matthew Felix Sun's Live Drawing_1373
Life Drawing © Matthew Felix Sun

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Open War on American People by the Rich and Powerful

During the economic downturn, the Republicans demanded and get a hug spending cut which could only aggravate the economic situation and making the growth even less likely.

There is no question that the US has been spending beyond the means and should be rein in.  However, it should not be done in through shock treatment and be done entirely on the back of the middle- and lower-class.  Unfortunately, that was what the result of the political blackmail over the debt ceiling.

Therefore, the financial imbalance accumulated over the years with mandate spending increase, and the irresponsible tax cuts for the rich during two wars.  The perilous situation we are in are self-inflicted wound, if we view the country as a whole entity.  But the country has been divided and the riches and powerful, if not themselves, at least their surrogates in the congress, had mounted a front, full-out assault on the average American people and the democratic values as well.

Not to see this ugly reality is self-delusional, such as President Obama has demonstrated again and again.

In order to combat this nihilistic assault on our union, we must find someone who not only share the values with average working American, but who has political will and acumen to carry it through.

Time for change indeed.  Democratic Party must choose an alternative.  President Obama has failed miserably.  He ought to make room for real change.


Devils' Dance / 魔鬼的舞蹈 / Teufels Tanz
Devils' Dance
Oil on Canvas
30" x 48"
Completed in 2004
© Matthew Felix Sun