Archive for January 2020

Democracy Doesn’t Work for the Minority   Leave a comment

“Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.” ― James Bovard, Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty.


Link to Medium article

The Problem

What is up with democrats who don’t understand why “majority rules” voting is dangerous to individual liberty and diversity?

At its root democracy is when a majority of lemmings vote to run off a cliff and expect all the lemmings to follow them, even if they don’t want to.

Through the whole of this article, I use the terms “democrat” or “democratic”. It doesn’t mean the Democratic Party, but people who believe in majoritarian election processes. This is a discussion of principles, not politics.

I recently had a Facebook conversation about why the Senate is composed of two seats from every state and a European tried to convince me this was voter inequality — that it makes the rural areas more powerful by “overrepresenting” them. In his opinion, this is discriminatory, evil and just plain wrong.

Democracy vs Republicanism

“One man, one vote” is an amorphous concept. What does it really mean when about 25% of the voting-age population bothers to register to vote and only about 30% of them actually show up at the polls? Still “one man, one vote” is often cited as a reason to oppose legislative schemes used in federal political systems. In the US Senate, each state is given an equal vote to balance out the interests of small states against the interests of large states. Large states dominate the US House of Representatives which is a population-based representation system.

The US is not the only country to use some version of this method. The Australian Senate has 12 members to each state. The Senate of Canada is composed of appointed members who represent regions rather than individual provinces, but regional representation is not based on population size as in the House of Commons. In the Swiss Council of States, each canton is represented by two members, regardless of size.

While the US Senate is now subject to criticism and discussions of reform, the American Electoral College system seems to really piss off democrats. I wonder if they’re also incensed by the Swiss method of “double majority,” in which some legislation requires approval by both the overall Swiss population, which is a process of direct democracy, and also by a majority vote in a majority of the cantons, which is more like how the US Electoral College works.

Naturally, systems like these give power to a relatively small number of voters from small cantons in an election. If a double-majority system was employed in US presidential elections, a coalition of small-state voters could deny the needed majorities from twenty-six of the fifty states even if a presidential candidate won an overwhelming majority in the popular vote. Committed democrats oppose this sort of system because they think straight-up majorities should have the final say in every legislative matter.

Switzerland

I’m going to take it out of the realm of the US government at the moment because it is sometimes helpful to look at other countries. Switzerland, which has a much smaller population than the United States (8.5 million to 340 million), provides insight into why simple majorities tend to be a problem. The Swiss confederation is a conglomeration of regions and cities with varying interests depending on the linguistic, religious, and cultural preferences of the population in each area. Some areas are Catholic and some are Protestant. Some areas are French-speaking, and other areas are German or Italian speaking. There’s also a region that speaks Romansch. At one time, all these areas had distinct cultures, although today the different cultures have mingled more.

These differences were more significant in the past, so the confederation was designed with some anti-majoritarian measures to prevent any small number of highly populated regions from steamrolling over the rest of the country. If the German-speaking cantons became very populous, a system based on majority vote would mean that the German-speakers could ram their preferences down the throats of everyone else. The same might be said if one religious group gained a majority.

Cultural differences have been historically undeniable in Switzerland. Italian-speaking Catholics in the south don’t agree with northern German Protestants on all important matters. Differences are real, and a healthy respect for self-determination and human rights suggests that local cultures shouldn’t be subject to the will of a distant majority.

The democrats want us to believe there is no need to balance these interests. If there are more pro-French voters in Switzerland, everyone must do what the French-speaking majority says. That’s fair … unless you’re a German-speaker and then it probably wouldn’t feel fair at all.

Applied to the US, the federalist measures designed to provide additional voting power to smaller states are denounced by progressives as “undemocratic.” If Californians and New Yorkers have an overwhelming number of votes, then so be it. The minority must do what the majority says, even if those people have very different interests from the majorities in New York or California.

Many on the left will insist there aren’t any real differences between people in, say, Alaska and people in New Jersey. If there are differences, it is because people are South Dakota are intellectual troglodytes and their opinions shouldn’t matter. This problem will be solved by forcing democracy on everyone so North Dakotans’ unacceptable political views are neutralized by far larger majorities in faraway cities.

Historically, that argument was considered disingenuous if not stupid. The United States has always been a large and diverse country. Americans recognized significant cultural differences between the Congregationalists of New England and the Catholics and Lutherans of the Great Lakes region. It was understood that the various regions of the nation had very different economic needs depending on what industries — agricultural, maritime, or manufacturing — were dominant in the region. It was recognized that agricultural areas ought to be able to offer legislative resistance to new laws designed to favor manufacturers at the expense of farmers. If one area became more populous than the other, it just seemed wise to put safeguards in place to prevent one region from dominating another.

Alaska vs California

Switzerland is a fairly small country compared to the United States and, in recent decades, it may have become less diverse. Living in a spread-out community of 100,000 in Alaska, I have almost nothing in common with people living in Los Angeles. We both speak English and presumably read the same Constitution, but our life experiences are very different. Alaskans tend to come from other states, to attend college at a much higher rate than Californians, to travel outside of Alaska more often than Californians travel outside California, and to be more libertarian in our mindset. In terms of diversity, Hawaii is the most diverse state, followed by California, followed by Alaska, which outlawed racial discrimination in 1945. When we disagree on subjects, Californians try to make the provincial troglodytes argument, but Alaskans don’t fit the profile, which throws the entire argument into question.

But just think of this in terms of fairness. In a majoritarian democracy, Alaska would need to band together with the other 15 small population states to veto a pro-California measure. Why does that matter?

Imagine if you will — California — the land of fruit trees and beaches. My daughter lives inland in the mountains and it snows there — for about a week every winter. Central heating matters, but not so much because it never gets really cold there. In the rest of California, home heating is optional. Just wear a sweater and put another blanket on the bed.

Contrast that with Alaska. The coldest I’ve seen is -76*F. Yes, that’s 108 degrees below freezing. It’s not year-round (or who would live in this place?), but for about five to six months out of the year, you must heat your home or it will freeze and you will die. It costs me about $300 a month to heat my home (about $1,500 a winter). We wear a lot of sweaters and blankets are required attire for watching television. What do most Alaskans heat our homes with? Diesel fuel. We’d love to use natural gas, but there are all sorts of barriers to that (many of them set up by Californians), so we’re shipping in diesel.

Now, let’s consider that Californians reject fossil fuel use by a large margin. That’s not made up. That’s a true statement. They want high taxes on fossil fuels. They want the elimination of fossil fuels. They want homes to be electrically heated — if heated at all — through the use of solar and wind energy.

It’s dark (or we have very short days) six months out of the year in my community and one of the advantages to living in Fairbanks is that it gets almost no wind in the winter. Solar and wind aren’t going to work for us unless we figure out a way to store the summer sun into the winter — which the technology does not exist as yet. Our electric generation plants are fueled by diesel and coal. Our local energy cooperative does have some wind turbines in the mix. Our bills increased when the wind-farm came online. I’m sure it gave someone somewhere a warm, fuzzy feeling to know we’re using renewable energy, but from a practical standpoint, it just meant we sit in the dark more because we can’t afford the electricity.

Heating our homes is not optional in Alaska. I currently pay about $250 a month (at 27 cents a kilowatt-hour) to power my home, absent heating it, in the winter. Back in 1974, my brother electrically heated a home here and it cost him $350 a month. By contrast, our mom was paying $40 a month to heat a conventionally-heated home in the same town in the same winter. Factored for inflation and that electric home heating bill would now be about $1700 a month. That’s $8,500 a winter.

That’s a $7,000 annual difference in home heating.

Can you perhaps understand why I wouldn’t want Californians deciding home heating policy in Alaska? I don’t want them to be able to decide how we’re allowed to heat our homes, what the price of diesel should be, or that we will be required to go 100% renewable by 2030, as some have suggested. They don’t live here. They have no idea of the impossibility of their statements. Artificially increasing the cost of home heating sounds great if you live in California. To Alaskans, it sounds like a death sentence to our way of life, if not to us personally.

That’s just one of many issues where Alaskans and Californians disagree on fundamental life issues. If California wants to price its energy beyond the point of affordability for its residents, I’m fine with that (though my daughter might not agree). So long as we have no power over each other, it’s okay if we disagree. The issue arises if we continue to down the path of a national democratic system to the point where Californians would be able to overrule Alaskans whenever we disagree, even though they know nothing about life here.

Democracy is a vaunted ideal on paper, but it doesn’t often work out in practice. History records democracy’s failures. It leads to a tyranny of the majority and that harms the minority. The United States Constitution was a compromise document between large-population states and small-population states and it never would have been ratified if the small-population states’ concerns over being steamrolled by the bigger states had not been taken into account. It assured that the residents of populous New York could not vote against the interests of the residents of sparsely-populated Rhode Island without any resistance. The Constitutional Framers created a federal system to assure that all voices in the United States could be heard if they wanted to be heard.

The fundamental reasons behind the federalist system created 240 years ago remain today because this is a diverse nation of 340 million people who live very different lives from one another. The democratic argument that the majority is always right runs up against the reality that the majority doesn’t always know what the hell it is talking about.


Maybe the minority are the smart lemmings that don’t want to run off the cliff.


Lela Markham is an Alaska-based novelist and blogger who is interested in a lot of topics. She’s also a registered non-partisan libertarian.

Posted January 29, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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KWilliams Blog Suggestions   Leave a comment

Blue Honor Blog Post

Posted January 27, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Favorite Writing Blogs #OpenBook Blog Hop   Leave a comment

January 27, 2020 What are your favorite writing-related blogs? I would love to have time to read many of the blogs and listen to the podcasts with helpful information for writers, There’s a l…

Source: Favorite Writing Blogs #OpenBook Blog Hop

Posted January 27, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Open Book Blog Hop – January 27th   1 comment

Some good resources for writers here.

Stevie Turner

This week the topic is:

‘What are your favourite writing-related blogs?’

I’ll list mine below:

Chris, the Story Reading Ape shares lots of resources for Indie writers:  https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/

Nicholas C. Rossis is another author/blogger willing to share useful tips:  https://nicholasrossis.wordpress.com/

Sally Cronin is a good supporter of Indie authors: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/

Writer Beware is another good one for info regarding scams: https://accrispin.blogspot.com/

Esme showcases authors on her blog: https://esmesalon.com/2019-wednesday-interview-series/

Blog Battle gives a word every month to write a story around: https://blogbattlers.wordpress.com/category/theme-genre/

You can share your favourite reviews on Marcia Meara’s blog on Tuesdays: https://marciamearawrites.com/welcome/

Bloggers can add their posts to get more views here on Wednesdays – Fridays: https://www.cuddlefairy.com/blogger-club-uk/

Let’s see what other writing-related blogs there are, by clicking on the blue button below.  You can add your own blog or just leave a comment:

Rules:

1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are…

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Posted January 27, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Blog hopping. Some of my favourite resources on the web.   Leave a comment

Richard’s Blog Article

Posted January 27, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Improving My Craft   6 comments

What are your favorite writing-related blogs?

Rules:

1. Link your blog to this hop.

2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.

3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.

4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.

5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

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I don’t write about writing.

There are countless blogs and so-called experts online with advice. While some of it can be helpful, I’m going to be honest and say outright that I don’t really spend a lot of time on writing blogs. I’d rather spend time writing.

Some people might think that sounds arrogant, but truthfully, I’ve worked as a professional reporter/writer and I’ve been writing creatively since I was 12. When it comes to the technical tips on writing these blogs provide, I tend to want to see something I don’t already know and that’s not going to happen very often. I go to writing blogs for marketing and formatting tips, not for writing advice, though I do occasionally pick up a useful tip.

Consequently, I spend a lot more time on blogs about ideas having nothing to do with writing. Lew Rockwell, Foundation for Economic Education and Mises Institute are far more helpful to me as a novelist than any of the writing blogs.

That doesn’t mean I don’t check them out occasionally. So which ones are my “favorites”? I have no idea, but here are a few that are saved to my favorites bar.

The Book Designer

Joel Friedlander is responsible for The Book Designer, which is one of the truly great writing blogs. He was who I turned to to learn to format for print. He provides a helpful view of the publishing aspects of being an author and writing for a living. He offers sound advice to help you get turn your manuscripts into published novels.

The Book Designer covers a wide range of topics, include self-publishing, marketing, and general writing tips. And one-stop-fits-all is worth my limited attention.

Every Writer

Richard Edwards’ Every Writer presents information on many helpful tools for authors, from building a website to starting a literary magazine. Edward provides information and tips to escape writer’s block and increase your productivity!

Jerry Jenkins

I’ve been a fan of Jerry Jenkins’ blog since before I started publishing. I originally was attracted there by his Christian insights, but he also provides tips and resources for authors.

Over the last half century Jenkins has been an editor, a publisher, a nonfiction author, and a novelist. He offers a 20-Step Guide on How to Write a BookHow to Develop a Great Story IdeaFind the Right Writers Group and How to Write Dialogue

Become a Writer Today

Through his blog Become a Writer Today, Bryan Collins focuses on the needs of new writers. I’m clearly not in that category, I still learn something from my occasional visits. Bryan is a non-fiction writer, blogger, and podcaster, and also focuses on self-publishing. He’s written two 3-book series, “Become a Better Writer Today” and “The Power of Creativity.”  A team of writers cover the business side of writing and such topics as writer’s block, formatting, and best practices. 

DIY MFA

DIY MFA serves as a do-it-yourself manual for the equivalent of a Master of Fine Arts in writing without the expense. It centers on writing with focus, reading with purpose, building your writing community, and how to discover available writing tools.

Founded by author and podcaster Gabriela Pereira, the site posts on everything from play-writing to surviving rejection, travel writing, and numerous other writing topics. She offers a writer igniter that generates writing prompts. 

Writing Tips are Great. Ideas Are Better

Pereira’s prompts generator is well worth visiting. While these are ones I’ve been impressed with enough to save to my favorites bar, there are many more that I’ve stopped into, gotten what I needed from them and moved on. As I said, I don’t blog about writing. I write about other ideas. So it makes sense that I’m not spending a lot of time visiting writing blogs.

Posted January 27, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Rescue Story   Leave a comment

Posted January 26, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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Medium is the Message   5 comments

Nothing about a cop on my doorstep says “I care about you.”


An Unfortunate Family Incident

We had an unfortunate incident here at our home this weekend. A relative was angered that my father-in-law, who is living with us, had blocked her phone number so she immediately jumped to the conclusion that he was in danger and called the police to conduct a welfare check. I won’t go into all the family dynamics of why this was incredibly inappropriate behavior, but suffice it to say this resulted in two armed police officers coming to our door to talk to my father-in-law who is now very irritated at his stepdaughter. Meanwhile, who knows what our neighbors are thinking. The ones who don’t know us probably now think we’re up to no good when in reality we are accepting responsibility our accuser shirked. Good going, step-sis. I love you too and I’m so feeling the love.

The Larger World

Sometimes these welfare checks culminate in death.

In Hawaii, armed police officers tried to perform a welfare check on a supposedly mentally ill man, who opened fire on them before setting fire to the apartment complex, resulting in several deaths. Having worked in the mental health field for over a decade, I can’t help but wonder if that could have been avoided.

There have been several incidents of cops shooting the homeowner while supposedly checking up on their safety. This is just one example. In others, the welfare check triggered a violent reaction no doubt born of fear that cops were going to arrest or even kill the person being “checked” on. Yes, in many cases the death can be blamed on the reaction of the citizen, but let’s consider that they weren’t hurting anyone until the point where armed officers showed up on their doorstep engaging in intimidating and aggressive behavior. Maybe the ultimate blame lies with the fact that there were cops at their door to begin with.

A friend tells me he recently had cops on his doorstep not long after telling a neighbor to not allow her dog to take a dump on his lawn. You don’t get much more passive-aggressive than that. He rightfully told her to stop violating his property rights and she called the cops on him rather than admit to herself that she was wrong in the first place.

While our interaction with the cops turned out okay, my husband had the distinct impression the officers tried to escalate the situation through the use of body language that was subtly, and at turns, overtly intimidating. I think he has a point. If I didn’t have 15 years in the mental health field, things might have turned out differently and certainly, that appears to have been the hope of my husband’s stepsister who sought to use the police as a proxy for her aggression.

Considerations

We want our elderly and vulnerable citizens to be taken care of, but is calling for men and women with guns to invade their personal space the way to do that? What is the message we’re sending? Is the message being received as care and love or intimidation and oppression? And are we not setting up future stress and possible violent response because now the person being “checked” on feels harassed and in fear of their freedom and safety?

Just pause and think about this. Why are we calling the cops on our neighbors in order to find out if they’re okay and not hurting themselves? Why don’t we care enough about our neighbors and relatives to do the welfare check ourselves? After all, I know my neighbor of 16 years far better than a cop with two minutes of acquaintance does and I am manifestly less intimidating. Are police even qualified to determine if a person is fine? And, are we sometimes simply using the police as a proxy for our own aggression?

Cops are Hammers

Police are trained to arrest people — to use force and intimidation to elicit responses from citizens in order to fine them or put them in jail. That is the #1 job of a police officer and it is the primary focus of their police academy training. Most receive very little training in mental health assessment and less training in constitutional rights or non-violent conflict resolution. They exist to be the first-responder to a crime and so the cops at my door last night assumed there was a crime in progress. They weren’t there to determine if my father-in-law was okay, but to determine if my husband and I were guilty of the allegations made by an out-of-state relative. Cops are hammers and to them, everything looks like a nail. If they’re at your door, they’re looking for evidence of a crime. That’s not friendly or loving.

Viewed that way, does it make sense to send them — fully armed and wearing tactical gear — to investigate whether someone who is vulnerable or mentally-ill is okay? Does that feel loving? Caring? Is that likely to cause fear and set off a response that isn’t loving or caring?

Medium Is the Message

Marshall McLuhan wrote “The medium is the message.” How we say something is as important as what we say — possibly more important.

Nothing about a cop on my doorstep feels like the person who sent them wants my good health and happiness. I’m an ordinary adult with an advanced degree who has never been arrested, but last night I felt attacked, oppressed and intimidated … like I might be arrested for making sure that an old man gets fed, kept warm and has interaction with people who care about him.

Pause and Rethink

This country needs to rethink a whole lot of things that have developed without deep consideration. Without paying attention, we’ve become a fairly totalitarian state in many of our interactions with our fellow citizens. How we check on the welfare of vulnerable people is among those things. We consider almost everything in our lives to be someone else’s responsibility — including the welfare of our elderly relatives and neighbors. We don’t go and talk to our neighbors anymore. We harass our relatives over the phone and then expect them to comply with our wishes. We call the cops rather than take a deep breath and consider what we might be doing to alienate the other person. But more than this — we call the cops to do what they are not trained or tasked to do.

Social workers are more appropriate to the task of welfare checks. They are unarmed, dressed in plain clothes and therefore are a lot less intimidating — not to mention they don’t send the wrong message to the neighbors. They lack the authority to arrest anyone and — bonus, they are actually trained in assessment of health conditions that should be a concern.

A lot of the violence in society stems from people feeling violated and, yes, cops on our doorstep are a violation of the dignity of the individual. We need to consider the messages we are sending and most especially how the medium we choose to use distorts our messages. Maybe we do care about our relative’s safety, but armed cops on their doorstep says, “We’ve come to restrict your freedom and put you in a box until you comply with our demands”. That’s not a loving message.

Nothing about a cop on my doorstep says you love and care about me, so hey, if you want me to feel loved, don’t send a cop.

Posted January 23, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

#Openbook – My top three distractions while writing   Leave a comment

IMG_1636

This week the topic is:

What are your top three distractions and how do you deal with them?

I saw the blog hop topic this morning and I have spent the day thinking about it on and off. I have come to the conclusion that I am not easily distracted from what I want to do and I get frustrated when I have to spend time doing things that I consider unimportant and trivial in the pursuit of my goals, both personal and for work.

There are things that must be done before I can write such as working at my day job [and full weekend end job in respect of this one just past], seeing to my sons and making sure they have food, drink and get their homework done [to my standards], spending time with my parents, especially my mom, my aunt and my husband’s family and listening…

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Posted January 20, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Open Book Blog Hop – 20th January   1 comment

Stevie Turner

This week the topic is:

What are your top three distractions and how do you deal with them?

First:

As an author, the first and main distraction is social media.  Unless I work offline, then I tend to check Twitter, WordPress, BookFunnel, ACX, Amazon, Goodreads, KDP, MeWe and my email notifications as they come in.  Fortunately these days I don’t have to check Facebook or LinkedIn as I deleted them, but social media is a serious distraction and time suck if authors are trying to write a novel.

Social media creeps up on you like a convolvulous vine and entwines itself around your very being if you let it.  You start off with one site, then feel obliged to register for more sites because you read online that authors must jump up high to be seen above everybody else, and the only way to do that is to be active…

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Posted January 20, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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