What is Facing Our Leaders

This was originally posted at TalkForward

January 28, 2014 was Atlanta’s “snowpocalypse,” a day when snow and ice accumulated faster and worse than predicted. The entire metro area ground to a halt with cars abandoned on the freeway. It looked like a movie about the end of the world.

It took my wife an hour to drive the kids home from school two miles away. I was fortunate. I was at a meeting close to home. After it was canceled it “only” took 45 minutes to travel a mile. Many people never made it home, sleeping with friends, or worse, stuck in cars. It was a day that burned itself into the memory of the citizens of Atlanta.

By the next day, government leaders were being blamed for not shutting things down sooner. Schools were blamed for not closing school that morning. Across the nation, Atlanta was the source of many jokes about how two inches of snow caused such turmoil.

The general consensus was clear: Our leaders did not act with enough caution.

The next winter, with the threat of heavy weather, no one was taking any chances this time. Schools were closed. Government offices shut down. The metro area was ready for the next great coming of snow and ice.

It rained all day.

Immediately, there was criticism of the schools and government for overreacting. All that productivity was needlessly lost. Again, Atlanta was subject to ridicule for not being able to manage the weather. The general consensus was clear: Our government leaders overreacted.

I was part of a decision making team in 2014 and 2015 at the Cobb and Douglas Community Service Board. In 2014 I hesitated to recommend closing, and because of that, some of my own staff did not make it home on the night of the 28th. In 2015, I strongly advised we close our doors. As a result, we lost money and clients were delayed in getting their medications.

The problem with leadership in crisis is that the leaders never have enough information to make the best decisions possible. The facts are limited. None of us can predict the future, yet we rely on leaders to make choices that will change the future.

After the fact it may by easy to see what the best course of action would have been. Even then, people may still second-guess a decision. Y2K was a real issue with computers. There were thousands of hours and millions of dollars spent to correct it. As a result, Y2K had a minimal effect when the year 2000 arrived. This led people to look back and wonder what the fuss was about, but without it, there would have been serious problems.

Right now, the world is going through a crisis. Some say this is a real pandemic posing a real threat, others say it is all panic and overblown. I have no idea where the actual truth is. What I do know is that leaders are faced with tremendous pressure to make decisions that will change the future.

If they had clear choices, which were all good with no negative side effects, they would take them. That is not what is before us. What is before us, as is usually the case, are all paths come with pain. Which pain do we choose: 20 million jobs in jeopardy or a million dead from a novel virus, is the sort of weight on the shoulders of our leaders right now. All the facts on this virus are not known and cannot be known until it has run its course.

Leaders have to act, based on what is known now, and make their best guess.

Some will be condemned for guessing wrong. Others may well be praised for guessing right. There will be partisan influences on how we all choose to view it.

What I hope is that we look back with grace and not with smug wisdom.

With talking about what is facing our leaders, next time we will look at what to do as a leader in these sorts of situations.

Bryan G. Stephens is a former executive on a mission to transform the workplace. He is the founder and CEO of TalkForward, a consulting and training company, utilizing Bryan’s clinical and management expertise to develop managers and teams in a corporate environment. As a licensed therapist with strong understanding of developing human potential, he is dedicated to the development of Human Capital to meet the needs of leaders, managers, and employees in the 21st Century workplace. 

Bryan has an Executive MBA from Kennesaw State University, Coles School of Business, and both a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

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Author: Bryan G. Stephens

Bryan G. Stephens is a former executive on a mission to transform the workplace. He is the founder and CEO of TalkForward, a consulting and training company, utilizing Bryan’s clinical and management expertise to develop managers and teams in a corporate environment. As a licensed therapist with strong understanding of developing human potential, he is dedicated to the development of Human Capital to meet the needs of leaders, managers, and employees in the 21st Century workplace. Bryan has an Executive MBA from Kennesaw State University, Coles School of Business, and both a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

48 thoughts on “What is Facing Our Leaders”

  1. Well put.  Especially the analogy to Y2K.  I spent years in industry mitigating real problems so that Y2K’s arrival was a nothingburger.  My employer spent tens of millions on replacement automation and software upgrades.  And it worked.  If none of that had been done, I know for sure that chaos would have reigned.

    Trump has already changed the course of America by taking action early in spite of the WHO’s spineless kowtowing to China.  And he is taking action day after day trying to balance mitigation of the pandemic with mitigation of the damage to our economy.  There will be recriminations.  As is always the case when leaders must act with partial information.

    I am grateful every day that Trump won in 2016.

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  2. I understand the basic point of the post.  I agree that people will unfairly judge their elected officials, but I  have a different take on the issue.

    The post misses something that is critical.  Why are we dependent on officials to make decisions that can and will be second guessed?  What happened to making a decision for yourself and being accountable for your decision?  This person didn’t make a decision that led to the death of his friend.  His friend made a decision that led to his death.  If you are concerned about the weather, decide you cannot drive to work.  If you are wrong often enough, you may not have a job or you may get in an accident.  But you wouldn’t get to blame someone for your problem.

    It wasn’t very long ago that many children walked a fairly long distance to rural schools.  In the northern part of the country, this is can be a risky endeavor.  They didn’t have a TV to facilitate getting information as to whether it was ok to go to school.  Their parents made a decision.

    We have a society that simply cannot take personal responsibility.  That abhors risk and wants someone to protect them from everything.  That is willing to spend whatever to prevent an accident with no consideration to what the whatever really means.  There is the cost and the indirect cost.  The indirect cost includes freedom, self confidence and self reliance.  It may even cost lives.  With this comes people that think they need to be the ones to make the decisions for others.

    This does not happen as often at small scale.  There isn’t anonymity.  It’s unlikely one can belly ache without getting some face to face feedback.  The elected officials are known by the constituents. The constituents have the ability to make a real life unfiltered judgement of their officials.  One has to think hard about giving some of their responsibility to an elected official.  It helps to know that the people making the decision are going to face the same consequences.  Their children are also at risk.

    I didn’t have children.  I could not imagine turning the responsibility for the safety of one’s offspring over to people one has never met.  That would be the height of discomfort.  Yet the vast majority of our population feels comfortable turning their families safety, freedom and lives over to big government.  To people they will likely never see in person.  To people that will not suffer any consequences of their decision. To people that sit up on their elevated benches looking down on the ones they are theoretically supposed to serve.

    When people turn all their responsibilities over to a committee or the government, they will bemoan everything.  They will also not feel responsible for the people they elected.

    I guess my point is that people should be able to question, challenge and criticize decisions with the knowledge that those impacted by the decision will be paying attention and can get informed and that those being criticized can defend themselves.  Being informed they can then decide if they feel comfortable having those making the decisions continue to hold the position.  You also have the ability to take action if your neighbors are not smart enough to make good choices.  At a small scale this works fairly well but at a larger scale it doesn’t work.

    As for me, I want to live in a country where my neighbors and compatriots can make good decisions for themselves and their neighbors.  I certainly don’t want to live with people that need the government to insure they don’t mess up.  If they need the government to keep them safe it is highly likely they are incompetent in choosing who it is they select to hold these positions.

    For those that argue that it is unimaginable to split up the gold old USofA into smaller countries, you by default are deciding to have big government make decisions for you and to live with citizens that come hand in hand with big government.  What is unimaginable is for the big Federal government to all of sudden shrink and the power given to local communities.  You only have to look at Justice Ginsberg to realize these people aren’t giving up power before they go to the grave.

    My apologies for the rant.

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  3. Your post was a rant. It really has nothing to do with my post, but everything to do with your feelings on the current day.

    JTOmland:
    I understand the basic point of the post.  I agree that people will unfairly judge their elected officials, but I  have a different take on the issue.

    The post misses something that is critical.  Why are we dependent on officials to make decisions that can and will be second guessed?  What happened to making a decision for yourself and being accountable for your decision?  This person didn’t make a decision that led to the death of his friend.  His friend made a decision that led to his death.  If you are concerned about the weather, decide you cannot drive to work.  If you are wrong often enough, you may not have a job or you may get in an accident.  But you wouldn’t get to blame someone for your problem.

     

    In a representative system, we have dependence on the people we elect. You can complain all you want about it, but there is no better system on offer.

    It wasn’t very long ago that many children walked a fairly long distance to rural schools.  In the northern part of the country, this is can be a risky endeavor.  They didn’t have a TV to facilitate getting information as to whether it was ok to go to school.  Their parents made a decision.

    It wasn’t very long ago that women died in childbirth. It wasn’t very long ago that we engaged in many unsafe practices. I do have small children, and we were happy to drive them to school so they did not wait in the rain. You may think it best for other people’s kids to build character by long walks. I consider technological progress to be a good thing overall.

    We have a society that simply cannot take personal responsibility.  That abhors risk and wants someone to protect them from everything.  That is willing to spend whatever to prevent an accident with no consideration to what the whatever really means.  There is the cost and the indirect cost.  The indirect cost includes freedom, self confidence and self reliance.  It may even cost lives.  With this comes people that think they need to be the ones to make the decisions for others.

    I wonder what risks you take that you could otherwise avoid. I would love to hear that those things are, since you are against risk prevention in others. Lots of people spend their own money on risk avoidance. And yes, we ask our representatives in government to help us avoid risk we cannot personally afford to avoid. That is sort of the point of government, actually.

    This does not happen as often at small scale.  There isn’t anonymity.  It’s unlikely one can belly ache without getting some face to face feedback.  The elected officials are known by the constituents. The constituents have the ability to make a real life unfiltered judgement of their officials.  One has to think hard about giving some of their responsibility to an elected official.  It helps to know that the people making the decision are going to face the same consequences.  Their children are also at risk.

    Pretty sure a plague counts on this.

    I didn’t have children.  I could not imagine turning the responsibility for the safety of one’s offspring over to people one has never met.  That would be the height of discomfort.  Yet the vast majority of our population feels comfortable turning their families safety, freedom and lives over to big government.  To people they will likely never see in person.  To people that will not suffer any consequences of their decision. To people that sit up on their elevated benches looking down on the ones they are theoretically supposed to serve.

    So, no kids, but you condem anyone who sends their kids to public school with this. It sounds like you world is one of no trust at all. Having worked for government, I find that most distateful. The idea that people work in government service and that turns them into bad guys is poor thinking, indeed. No one in my agency looked down on the people we served. Why are you so fast to think that teachers, clerks, and other governmental agents are? What proof do you have of that?

    When people turn all their responsibilities over to a committee or the government, they will bemoan everything.  They will also not feel responsible for the people they elected.

    I am not sure why you think it is an issue to turn things like defending the border over to the government. I would love to see your post on how this could be achieved by individuals.

    I guess my point is that people should be able to question, challenge and criticize decisions with the knowledge that those impacted by the decision will be paying attention and can get informed and that those being criticized can defend themselves.  Being informed they can then decide if they feel comfortable having those making the decisions continue to hold the position.  You also have the ability to take action if your neighbors are not smart enough to make good choices.  At a small scale this works fairly well but at a larger scale it doesn’t work.

    At no point did I say people could not question etc. I do question, though (since you think I can do it) the armchair quaterbacking of people without the knowledge of the leaders. People think the are informed, but I assure you, they are not. At the large scale, we call this representative democracy. It sounds like you are against that.

    As for me, I want to live in a country where my neighbors and compatriots can make good decisions for themselves and their neighbors.  I certainly don’t want to live with people that need the government to insure they don’t mess up.  If they need the government to keep them safe it is highly likely they are incompetent in choosing who it is they select to hold these positions.

    Again, I would love to see your counter proposal.

    For those that argue that it is unimaginable to split up the gold old USofA into smaller countries, you by default are deciding to have big government make decisions for you and to live with citizens that come hand in hand with big government.  What is unimaginable is for the big Federal government to all of sudden shrink and the power given to local communities.  You only have to look at Justice Ginsberg to realize these people aren’t giving up power before they go to the grave.

    Of course, you can want America to downsize into smaller nations. I personally think that is foolish. I get it. People don’t like empire. The problem is, there are other nations out there. Without America intact, nations like China will run rampant, and care not one whit for your libertarian ideals. It did not help the people of Ethiopia that they lived more or less free, when the Islamicsits showed up to take over. Without Rome, they were at the mercy of others.

    My apologies for the rant.

    Apology accepted, Captain Needa

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  4. If it is leadership we desire, then shouldn’t it come from those immediately around us? For instance, why can a neighborhood not band together to prevent people who don’t live there from entering? I get the difficulty level of identifying who lives there and who doesn’t, but is it no less difficult to enforce a “shelter in place” decree from the Imperial City? Well, unless we go full bore authoritarian which seems to be the path we have chosen. I for one am much more comfortable depending on my fellow neighbors whom I know and trust than people who I only interact with through television.

    This current situation presents a tough line to follow though. On the one hand there are legitimate concerns for life afterwards, but on the other there are legitimate concerns for life now. For instance, I really despise those punks from the Spring Break stories who were so careless about how their actions might reverberate throughout the rest of society. But should the governor of Florida sent in the Brown Shirts to round them up to prevent large masses people? Would that have been applauded as sound leadership in the face of out-of-staters while protecting the people of Florida? Or would that have been viewed as something else?

    I have a four year old, and we have not taken him to any place outside our neighborhood except for going to a farm this past Saturday to load up on meat. It’s been rough for him because he loves to be active and going, but we have decided that it is best to stay where we know the likelihood of exposure is low–our home. We did this without being told by the Maryland Governor to do so. I wonder if the current situation with governors having to issue such decrees is the product of Americans in general being careless when it comes to the well being of their fellow man?

    Leadership in times like these is a funny word. What really can any one politician do? Issue decrees sure, but if the people don’t listen or flout those decrees what good were they? Then the next play by the politician is to either offer more information as to why people should follow the decree or unleash the power of the state. Choices, as you said. Pain, no matter which path is taken.

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  6. Of course, you can want America to downsize into smaller nations. I personally think that is foolish. I get it. People don’t like empire. The problem is, there are other nations out there. Without America intact, nations like China will run rampant, and care not one whit for your libertarian ideals. It did not help the people of Ethiopia that they lived more or less free, when the Islamicsits showed up to take over. Without Rome, they were at the mercy of others.

    Wasn’t China running rampant already, with the existence of unfettered empire? In fact, wasn’t it the empire that unleashed China to begin with? Or is the worry about China overblown? I am confused. We have been told by many that China controls us economically–or did before COVID 19–yet they weren’t running rampant?

    Why must you equate the loss of empire and the downsizing of the United States with weakness? Is there some sort of element in not being an empire or being smaller geographically that precludes one from developing a robust defense mechanism? Would a portion of the former United States not have the same capabilities to develop defensive weaponry that the larger empire would have? Also, what is to stop the decentralized portions from agreeing to a type of defensive pact, thus reconstituting the same geographical mass in the need for greater defense? Why must it either be empire or complete isolation? And who is it that is advocating such a stance? Political separation does not preclude such arrangements, it only mitigates states like California and/or New York from dictating what happens in Alabama and/or Wyoming. There would be no reason why cooperation between regions could not occur for the sake of regional defense.

    Lastly, are we really worried about Chinese invasion when they have only one working carrier? I mean China attempting to invade the continental area formerly known as the US would require a massive build-up that would take years. They would have to manufacture the means by which to land a force or slowly move a force to the hemisphere, either way, there is no reason why it wouldn’t be detected well in advance. But even if it wasn’t, what is to say that it would happen? The only thing keeping us from being militarily taken over by China is an empire? An empire by the way China has seen fail to overcome goat herders in Afghanistan after nearly 20 years?

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  7. But there is no reason to require the breakup of the nation. We had a perfectly working system until 140+ years of “progressive thinking” trashed our logical sense and understanding of simple things like liberty and republic.

    What we need is to get back to the principles that formed and governed the republic for just over 100 years. But note that is not simple because we have had progressivism with us for lots longer than we’ve had true republic. Time now to re-educate the nation. (And get rid of those nasty “gated communities”.)

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  8. Robert, every time I get my libertarian small-government boots on, I read something of yours and take them right off again.

    It’s not that you criticisms of America are unfounded — it’s that they’re contrasted with some pie-in-the-sky alternative that would make a Maoist blush for grandiosity.

    The same people who fail at civilization will also fail at anarchy, but with no running water.

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  9. I also think Trump has done the right thing vis a vis republican government. He has attempted to drive decision making down as low as he can. So we’ve had governors making decisions, not as Cuomo originally asked, the Federal government. Unfortunately many governors have not allowed more local government to decide things. So, eg. it may have been rational for Chicago to lock-down but not so much for the collar counties, and definitely not for most of Illinois, which is rural. Such differences in approach would have meant local government could have done what the local citizens thought most prudent. That was more or less the original concept of our nation. No good reason it still can’t work that way.

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  10. Devereaux:
    I also think Trump has done the right thing vis a vis republican government. He has attempted to drive decision making down as low as he can. So we’ve had governors making decisions, not as Cuomo originally asked, the Federal government. Unfortunately many governors have not allowed more local government to decide things. So, eg. it may have been rational for Chicago to lock-down but not so much for the collar counties, and definitely not for most of Illinois, which is rural. Such differences in approach would have meant local government could have done what the local citizens thought most prudent. That was more or less the original concept of our nation. No good reason it still can’t work that way.

    Yup.  You face a crisis not with the state government that you want, but with the state government that you have.

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  11. Haakon Dahl:
    Robert, every time I get my libertarian small-government boots on, I read something of yours and take them right off again.

    It’s not that you criticisms of America are unfounded — it’s that they’re contrasted with some pie-in-the-sky alternative that would make a Maoist blush for grandiosity.

    The same people who fail at civilization will also fail at anarchy, but with no running water.

    So it is inherently impossible to decentralize and devise mechanisms between the parts that might serve to ensure the defense of those parts? Decentralization is inherently incapable of providing defense?

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  12. Devereaux:
    I also think Trump has done the right thing vis a vis republican government. He has attempted to drive decision making down as low as he can. So we’ve had governors making decisions, not as Cuomo originally asked, the Federal government. Unfortunately many governors have not allowed more local government to decide things. So, eg. it may have been rational for Chicago to lock-down but not so much for the collar counties, and definitely not for most of Illinois, which is rural. Such differences in approach would have meant local government could have done what the local citizens thought most prudent. That was more or less the original concept of our nation. No good reason it still can’t work that way.

    Governor DeSantis of Florida did the same thing for Miami–let them come up with what is good for Miami. My governor–Gov. Hogan of Maryland–shut down all “non-essential” businesses in the State. The mayor of Baltimore asked the criminals there to stop shooting up the joint so that the hospitals can focus on COVID 19 cases instead of gunshot wounds.

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  13. Trump has not acted the part of dictator, nor ordered States to do anything. They published guidelines.

    Yet again, I am faced with “libertarians” who seem to see tyrants lurking behind every tree. The slope is forever slippery and yet, and yet, the jack booted thugs don’t march down Main Street. I guess there is always next time.

    The idea that a broken up America would be as powerful as a unified one is laughable. This Republic can marshal great resources from coast to coast in a way no nation has ever been able to do before. I do think that there is too much top down control. I don’t think the answer is for West VA to tell CA to take a hike.

    Personally, I’d like to see America expand in my lifetime. I would be great to incorperate the English speaking parts of Canada. That’d be a fun post. I might make it!

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  14. Devereaux:
    But there is no reason to require the breakup of the nation. We had a perfectly working system until 140+ years of “progressive thinking” trashed our logical sense and understanding of simple things like liberty and republic.

    What we need is to get back to the principles that formed and governed the republic for just over 100 years. But note that is not simple because we have had progressivism with us for lots longer than we’ve had true republic. Time now to re-educate the nation. (And get rid of those nasty “gated communities”.)

    And at this point, how do you intend to set this re-education into motion? The problem is that it is much easier to give up liberties than it is to gain them back. You might argue that incremental encroachments into the Leftist hold on this or that institution will suffice, but you are mistaken. Case in point: Look at the administrative state of the general government. Even getting a Trump-approved Director of National Intelligence is impossible despite his own party controlling the mechanism that affirms the appointment. But that isn’t even the biggest issue.

    The biggest issue we face as a people is this whole Blue vs. Red nonsense of which many are entrapped. Both parties on issues of supreme importance are exactly the same. They use social issues to keep us in this Reb vs. Blue mindset and prevent those trapped in that mindset from actually forcing the parties to answer questions about the more serious issues. Issues of domestic surveillance, big socialist business (and if you don’t think that the largest corporations in the US aren’t socialist, then you are delusional), non-stop wars are all important and have a much bigger impact on you than you may realize. And they could all be handled by the general government. These are issues where there is tremendous common ground shared with many on the Left, but what stops us from collaborating on this? You got it, social issues that are almost always battled out at the local and state level. Outside of the federal courts–which by the way are usually taking up the fight on the basis of state laws–the general government does not have much say on matters of abortion, homosexuality, transgender issues, etc. But the general government is the only way by which matters of domestic surveillance or forever wars can be addressed. Or monetary theory for that matter.

    We are currently locked in a system that is neither representative nor a republic and incrementalism at this stage is not going to work. Dreaming of ways in which it might work should be no more legitimate than my assertions that decentralization will work if for no other reason the many historical examples available detailing just how impossible it is to gain back liberty once lost within the same system. That is the key: within the current system, the liberties that were once enjoyed are gone forever within that system.

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  15. The problem with the “Lost Liberty never comes back” thinking is that it is not backed up by the very history of these United States of America. Or England for that matter.

    We have more liberty today, say, than we did under Wilson with his thugs. And, our economic liberty is not something to be sneezed at. Being able to afford things is a type of liberty. I am pretty sure you can find, if you try really hard, to find someone who grew up in the segregated south. I wager they would say they have more freedom and liberty now, than when there was then. To say it is a one way ratchet is just false.

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  16. Bryan G. Stephens:
    Trump has not acted the part of dictator, nor ordered States to do anything. They published guidelines.

    Yet again, I am faced with “libertarians” who seem to see tyrants lurking behind every tree. The slope is forever slippery and yet, and yet, the jack booted thugs don’t march down Main Street. I guess there is always next time.

    The idea that a broken up America would be as powerful as a unified one is laughable. This Republic can marshal great resources from coast to coast in a way no nation has ever been able to do before. I do think that there is too much top down control. I don’t think the answer is for West VA to tell CA to take a hike.

    Personally, I’d like to see America expand in my lifetime. I would be great to incorperate the English speaking parts of Canada. That’d be a fun post. I might make it!

    1) The notion that fascism in the US would be carbon copies of previous iterations does not take into account the character of the people of the various States. We would not tolerate such an overt act and would immediately resist. But a slow burning metamorphosis on the other hand would go by unchallenged and unnoticed.

    After having thus successfully taken each member of the community in its power grasp, and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting:  such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is shepherd.

    –Alexis de Tocqueville

    You, my friend, have become the frog in the boiling pot because you have become comfortable with even the mildest form of tyranny.

    2) I am not interested in power as you are defining it. Could this nation as currently comprised not marshal such resources without sending its bloody military to every non-nuclearized, third world country for the purposes of tormenting them because of this or that resource or potential market? I certainly think we could and wholeheartedly wish we would. It’s funny that when it comes to bombing to bits poor, non-nuclear countries, it is said the US does it for human rights. Yet when it comes to the human rights of the people of a nuclear power, say China, the bombs stay in storage and the clamoring for talks persist. Not that I want to bomb China, but it would at least be more intellectually honest as an argument for those who are pro-empire.

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  17. Bryan G. Stephens:
    The problem with the “Lost Liberty never comes back” thinking is that it is not backed up by the very history of these United States of America. Or England for that matter.

    We have more liberty today, say, than we did under Wilson with his thugs. And, our economic liberty is not something to be sneezed at. Being able to afford things is a type of liberty. I am pretty sure you can find, if you try really hard, to find someone who grew up in the segregated south. I wager they would say they have more freedom and liberty now, than when there was then. To say it is a one way ratchet is just false.

    You are simply wrong. What you are looking for is a thug walking around with a badge saying “Government Stooge” on his lapel. That sort of thing is not a good metric by which to measure tyranny. If you recall, the whole Harding election was to “get us back to normal.” Yet in the twenties we experienced our first Red Scare where political dissidents were persecuted. Then we had the Great Depression, where a famous case about a man using his own wheat crop to feed his cows was punished by the general government. That case is still law by the way. Then there was the 50s, where another Red Scare emerged and the general government had a hand in people losing their jobs. Then there was the 60s when there was a little CIA-FBI operation called COINTELPRO put into action against civil rights groups, antiwar groups, and other student groups. Then there was the 70s and 80s when a particular segment of the population was targeted on the basis of drug use. (Look up and then explain why criminal charges for crack are much tougher than charges for coke when the two are absolutely the same drug, just delivered to the system differently.) These are just general examples of liberties having disappeared that will never come back. And of course “Con”servatives will defend these actions because the correct ox is getting gored, but that doesn’t bring back the liberties lost.

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  18. Bryan G. Stephens:
    People think the are informed, but I assure you, they are not. At the large scale, we call this representative democracy. It sounds like you are against that.

    Maybe you phrased this incorrectly, but I think you stated my point better than I did myself.  Uninformed people and representative democracy is not a good thing.  I would say it supports my argument that this form of government doesn’t work well at large scale because it’s probably unrealistic to expect hundreds of millions of people to stay informed.

    Bryan G. Stephens:
    I am not sure why you think it is an issue to turn things like defending the border over to the government. I would love to see your post on how this could be achieved by individuals.

    I lived in Texas thirty years ago.  Illegal immigration was a concern for many people in the state.  I believe the state would have solved the problem if the border was their responsibility.  Instead most of the country was uninformed and the problem grew.

    Nowhere in my post did I state anything in support of anarchy or no government so your second sentence doesn’t need to be addressed.

    Bryan G. Stephens:
    So, no kids, but you condem anyone who sends their kids to public school with this. It sounds like you world is one of no trust at all.

    I didn’t condemn anyone for sending their kids to public schools.  Nor, as you stated in other parts of your response, did I attack teachers or other government employees.   The point I was trying to make is that once a system gets so large that it’s representatives are unknown to those that elect them, by definition they are putting their lives in the hands of people they do not know.

    The very size of the system makes it such that one cannot be expected to know the people they elect nor what type of decisions they are making.   This isn’t an attack on the people or individuals.  It’s an attack on a system that doesn’t work properly when it gets too large.

    If a leader makes many good decisions that their constituents are informed about them their constituents will be more forgiving of mistakes.  This can happen in smaller systems, but cannot in larger systems.  What were the last 10 bills that the House voted on?

    With regard to trust.  I neither trust nor distrust people I don’t know.  Trust is something that is developed based on experience.  Nope I am not a lone wolf that doesn’t trust anyone.  Fortunately I am confident in my ability to either understand complex topics or willingness to admit that I simply don’t understand and ask for help from the many people I trust that are much smarter than I am.  I don’t have to blindly trust people I don’t know.   This actually was the point of my bringing up children walking to school.  It wasn’t that I think children should walk to school.  It was that the average person can and will make good decisions even with limited information if they know they are responsible for the outcome.

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  19. Robert,

    It is clear that you are not understanding what I am saying at all. I don’t think this is intentional, but I rather doubt there is any hope of bridging the divide between us. You have very sharpe lines drawn in ways that I will never agree. Our fundamentals are so different, that there is nothing we can to to change the other’s mind. You see America as a failed experiment from 1787 forward. There is no way to have common ground from there.

    Also, frogs in pots that slowly heat actually jump out. I have always found it to be a poor metaphor anyway. It is one of the great “wake up sheeple” arguments that invariably places the person making it into the position of knowing better than the other. I dislike that formulation on the left and right.

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  20. JTOmland:
    With regard to trust.  I neither trust nor distrust people I don’t know.  Trust is something that is developed based on experience.  Nope I am not a lone wolf that doesn’t trust anyone.  Fortunately I am confident in my ability to either understand complex topics or willingness to admit that I simply don’t understand and ask for help from the many people I trust that are much smarter than I am.  I don’t have to blindly trust people I don’t know.   This actually was the point of my bringing up children walking to school.  It wasn’t that I think children should walk to school.  It was that the average person can and will make good decisions even with limited information if they know they are responsible for the outcome.

    The whole OP is that people are not willing to trust leaders in a crisis or even offer them any grace, as we have seen in these pages and elsewhere. Many here are sure they know better than the experts. Maybe, you agree with that point?

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  21. Bryan G. Stephens:
    Robert,

    It is clear that you are not understanding what I am saying at all. I don’t think this is intentional, but I rather doubt there is any hope of bridging the divide between us. You have very sharpe lines drawn in ways that I will never agree. Our fundamentals are so different, that there is nothing we can to to change the other’s mind. You see America as a failed experiment from 1787 forward. There is no way to have common ground from there.

    Also, frogs in pots that slowly heat actually jump out. I have always found it to be a poor metaphor anyway. It is one of the great “wake up sheeple” arguments that invariably places the person making it into the position of knowing better than the other. I dislike that formulation on the left and right.

    I willingly admit that my critiques of the United States are nothing more than slamming the barn door shut years after the horse left the barn and we ain’t going to find that damned horse. I hold on to the philosophy because I think it is important to do so. People hearing it may be encouraged to think at least for a moment about how out of wack things are. I know we aren’t ever going back to the Articles. Hell, we aren’t ever going back to Lincoln’s Constitution let alone the one from 1787. What I would give to have Lincoln’s Constitution!! The point is, we are living in tyranny, soft as it may be. The tyranny is that there is no law but only a will to power. That type of structure is not long lasting. It’s longevity is that it is seductive and nearly invisible. Most of the people are no longer seduced by it because they can see what it looks like. Hell, Trump is a product of this awakening as is, to some extent, Bernie.

    We have ventured far off from the point of your post though. You and I do agree in that this current situation is going to be rife with choices and pain. Out of my immediate self interests, I hope the choices made mitigate any real pain. But my long term self interests are going to feel the pain of any immediate mitigation.

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  22. Robert A. McReynolds:
    The point is, we are living in tyranny, soft as it may be. The tyranny is that there is no law but only a will to power.

    That is just not true. You can make all the boiling frog references, and intimate I am just blind, or a sheep or something, but that is not going to change my mind.

    And, more importantly, Robert, you don’t act as if it is true. Otherwise, you would not be posting here and putting a big target on your back. You would be going under the radar and prepping.

    You actually give the game away here:

    Robert A. McReynolds:
    I hold on to the philosophy because I think it is important to do so. People hearing it may be encouraged to think at least for a moment about how out of wack things are.

    You are as much as saying this is a pose to make people think.

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