Sunday, October 14, 2012

Down With Entitlements!

What’s with these politicians signing pledges not to raise taxes? And why do some want to sacrifice Big Bird on the economic altar? If we have to sacrifice someone, why not  the lobbyists?

But nobody wants to touch the lobbyists. Why is entitlement for lobbyists good, but entitlement for seniors bad? Why do we tolerate the lobbyists? Of course, the lobbyists are the one’s really  writing the country’s legislation nowadays (not our elected politicians). That means they have the laws tilted to the advantage of big business. So where is the government “of the people, by the people, for the people?” Does this apply any more or is it just a myth?

In the Vedic culture the leaders had advisors. But the advisors were totally impartial. They didn’t care about Profit for themselves. They cared about upholding the Dharma. That was their contribution to society. So if politicians want to sign pledges, let them sign a pledge to have nothing to do with the lobbyists.  This would be a good start.  Then maybe the lawmakers could really become lawmakers. 

And while they’re at it, the lawmakers  could also sign a pledge not to participate in insider trading.  On Wall Street, insider trading could get you a jail sentence or at least a stiff fine. But not the politicians. Talk about entitlement!!! They can, and do, take advantage of the information that they are privy to in their committee meetings and as they cast influential legislation.  Are they entitled to  think about making extra money for themselves while they’re supposed to be working for us? What would your boss do if he/she caught you working for yourself while you’re on the job?

And the medical plans for politicians? Why should they be entitled to special plans for the rest of their lives even if they only serve on the Hill for five years? When’s the last time you held on to you’re medical plan after you left your job?  Let’s get a comprehensive medical plan for everybody – or for nobody – including the politicians.  Unresolved or ambiguous medical situations take an invisible  toll on the country. Politicians telling people to go to the ER is no  solution.  All of us pay for it in one way or another.

Down with entitlements for politicians. Don’t let politicians 1) be controlled by or morph into lobbyists 2) don’t let them make extra money for themselves while they’re working for us 3) don’t let then walk away with medical plans after they leave the job. 

The Vedic culture shows that governments can work. In this ancient culture, the leaders are beholden to the principles of the Dharma.  They are not immune from the law.  The leaders often made the biggest sacrifices rather than simply asking other take on the burdens.  Unfortunately, the governments of the world have now degenerated into societies of  cheaters and the cheated. If politicians had to scramble like many folks,  they might start working together pretty quickly to find solutions.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Getting By In The Kaliyuga #2

Human life is all about regulation. Morality means regulation. Children and young people getting an education requires regulation. Married life requires regulation. And driving safely on the road requires regulation. Why shouldn’t this apply to businesses? After all, as some proclaim, “businesses are people too.” So why do some politicians insist that de-regulation, or absolutely no regulation, is the easiest and best way for big business to move forward? It's like a child in the store crying and demanding. It’s a lot like the hippies back in the 60’s clamoring for a lifestyle of “free sex” and “free drugs.” And today’s big business wants a free and easy ride as well.

The Vedic system is one of order and opportunity. Both Narada Muni and Grandfather Bhisma taught Yudhisthira that the fruits of a civilized culture are Justice, Profit, and Happiness – this is echoed in the Declaration of Independence which proclaimed our inalienable rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Narada and Bhisma explained that this system of order and opportunity only works if Justice isn’t abused to generate Profit; and that Profits are never to be used to influence the workings of Justice; and that no amount of Justice (liberty) or Profits can actually bring about Happiness, because real Happiness only comes about by an internal process.

Time and again, like a child, big business is eager to run recklessly after quick profits to secure some immediate happiness, casting good sense to the wind. Imagine the chaos if this unregulated dynamic were allowed to be played out by drivers on our roads. It would be pandemonium, and death.

To govern properly, and to live peacefully, requires training and education. People need to be educated so they understand and identify the qualities of proper leadership. What is the value of uneducated voters electing unqualified leaders. It becomes a case of the blind then leading the blind.

In the “Light of the Bhagavat,” (verse 2) Srila Prabhupada explains that education of the citizens is the most important ingredient if democracy is to thrive. The citizens, he writes “should be honest in the payment of taxes to the state and should have honest representatives to look over the administration. In the modern setup of democratic states the citizens can have no cause for grievances, because the whole administration is conducted by the people themselves. If the people themselves are dishonest, the administrative machinery must be corrupt…. if the people are not good they cannot have good government, regardless of which party governs the administration. Therefore good character in the consciousness of the mass of people is the first principle necessary for a good government….”

Actually, the Vedic approach amalgamates the best of what both the Republicans and the Democrats have to offer: that everyone assume personal responsibility; that the leadership provide a fair playing field so all citizens have the opportunity to thrive; that the leadership assumes the greatest responsibility and makes the greatest personal sacrifice in time of hardship; and that they also offer protection, or a safety net, for the most vulnerable citizens. And if the leadership were remiss in giving proper protection, they would practically be embarrassed out of their posts.

All to often the so-called political and business leaders find ways to exploit their positions for their own personal gain. If they are not brought to task, then everything becomes spoiled. The panacea (and this is what the Vedic system is about) is for citizens to be educated in the principles of self realization, and in what real leadership is, and in what real responsibility is, and how to live a good and honest life.