* * * *My letter to the Palm Beach Post published 0n January 19
|Republicans are holding it as hostage until they get |
their spending cuts, including Medicare and Social Security
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Political Junk – Defunding the IRS through Fear and Hatred
The Republican majority in the House is set on reducing financial support for the Internal Revenue Service. Contrary to their silly made-up claim that the additional funds the Democrats wanted for the IRS were for the purpose of squeezing money out of middle and bottom-rung taxpayers, the money would be used to replace retiring personnel, pay for up-to-date systems and enable more audits to be made of the very, very, wealthy who often get away with murder when they file. When one’s real income is in the seven or eight-figure range, form 1040 can get very complicated and include a truckload of supplements, resulting in an auditing process requiring considerable human resources to conduct. And that costs money … which often is money well spent! The G.O.P. wants to defund the IRS even further. Right now the IRS is forced to stack its pending business in their cafeterias, waiting to be looked at. Guess for whose benefit! The Senate and the President will stop them cold!
It’s those very, very, wealthy American ‘oligarchs’ who finance the campaigns of Republican extremists’ whose shenanigans personified by the MAGA movement and the House Freedumb Caucus enable them to get their way, as pointed out by Robert Reich in a recent column.
You might ask why so many Americans support measures which are clearly not in their interest like reducing Social Security and Medicare, and defunding the IRS. The Republicans manage to convince them to vote for candidates with such unpopular ideas with two pitches: Fear and Hatred. (Throw a little religious zeal in with that mix.)
When they speak, try to figure out which motivational button they are trying to push. Fear? Of whom or of what? Hatred? Of whom and why? The answers may be one or the other or even both.
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One should not criticize the beliefs of observers of religions other than their own if any. Such criticism should come from within that religion. But the insistence on masking the faces of female mannequins in store windows by the Taliban in Afghanistan is silly. They think not doing so might promote idol worship. They felt doing it this way was preferable to headless mannequins, which might have serious political implications.
It is up to other Muslims to try to correct this laughable restriction.
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Now here’s an item I’ve been playing with over the past few weeks and now that it is completed, I really don’t know what to do with it, so for better or for worse, it is being included in today’s blog posting. Perhaps it might be educational?
No, not the defeated former president’s wife, but periods of one thousand years, ten centuries. Millenniums (or Millenia) are a convenient although artificial division of time and here are some random thoughts about them. Keep in mind that ten centuries are a very, very, long time.
If these comments appear too ‘general,’ that is because these thoughts come off of the top of my head, and are not the result of any research project. I’ve used A.D. and B.C. suffixes, even though they are religiously based, but they are more readily understood.
The millennium which we have just completed (1001 A.D. to 2000 A.D.) started with the continuance, at least in Western civilization, of Christianity dominating all aspects of life while routine day-to-day affairs were being carried on by earlier feudal, or what remained of tribal structures. There need not have been a border between ‘Church and State’ because equivalents of ‘states’ didn’t even exist back then. But over its centuries, this millennium saw changes starting to creep in with more freedoms beginning to become available in thought, religion, economics and even government. The Magna Carta (1215 A.D.) opened the way to a limitation of a king’s power, and subsequently, the development of a middle class of merchants, traders, and a business class followed. Christianity became more than merely Roman Catholicism when Protestants broke away. Minds were slowly opening up, resulting in the Enlightenment, the Renaissance, the Reformation, plus scientific and technological advances leading to the Industrial Revolution. These creative forces resulted in inefficient feudal states morphing into nations, either peacefully or violently. Change did not come easy or quickly. It took centuries. Individual personal freedoms lagged behind but struggles to attain them were becoming more common.
All of this occurred during that millennium within the context of a Caucasian, male-dominated European world, including North America, initially with little heed being paid to what was happening elsewhere on the planet, areas that the West considered only as places to colonize for their natural resources. Asian and African history in that millennium was protected by the isolation of these regions, although a trickling of commerce with China began over traders’ routes such as the ‘Silk Trail,’ eventually blossoming into what it is today. This story will continue later with what is occurring in the following millennium, the one we are in now, but first, let’s go back in the other direction to the millennium just previous to the one we’ve described in the preceding paragraphs.
Here’s your ticket back to ‘1 A.D. to 1000 A.D.,’ stamped ‘Admit Bearer to the Dark Ages.’
Religion ruled the roost in that millennium. These ten centuries commenced with the rise of Christianity, which added to the monotheism of the Hebrews, the ascendency of the Roman Catholic Church becoming the major force for the entire millennium. There was the birth of Islam in its middle, a faith that acquired a great number of followers. Religion identified people rather than any local leadership. The only alternatives were 'Barbarians,' sweeping out of Asia periodically, to rob, rape, and pillage.
Travel was limited in those days, with ‘civilization’ focusing on the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, which served as a highway to anywhere worth going to. A very, very, few traders ventured overland to the mysterious ‘Far East.’ Politically, there were cities and areas ruled by tribes, but only Rome continued its ongoing development into what resembled an empire, and even that did not survive past the middle of the millennium, falling in 476 A.D. to northern tribesmen. The Roman Empire’s Eastern branch, in Constantinople, lasted longer, however, developing into the Ottoman Empire.
What scientific and cultural accomplishments there were, usually centered in Greece and Egypt, did not spread widely, but they were sometimes preserved in those places. Barbarian invasions destroyed what advancements had been made in other more ‘Christian’ areas. Only the Roman Catholic Church survived, continued operating, and preserved some of what had been developed, but everything they did was in the name of God. The Church was a constant and commanding presence these ten centuries outside of which, everything stood still and stagnated, giving this period the title of the ‘Dark Ages.’ Only when the succeeding millennium arrived, as described above, did this period evolve into the ‘Middle Ages,’ giving birth to change.
Little attention was paid to the rest of the world during those dark years, but fortunately, knowledge was developed and preserved in North Africa and of course, in Asia, areas immune from domination by the Church. Algebra, for example, was developed in the Arab world at that time. And the numbers we use today are ‘arabic’ numbers rather than the cumbersome X’s, V’s, D’s, and C’s of the Roman world.
During the many, many, earlier millenniums consisting of ‘B.C.’ centuries, the ones preceding the beginning of Christianity, the, people’s lives were fully occupied with survival. People were organized by family and tribe, agriculture, farming, and raising animals being the major activities. Some tribal leaders were powerful enough to become emperors or kings.
These were Biblical times, with Egyptian Pharaohs and Persian Kings. Even the leaders of the Hebrews were called kings. Without addressing theological issues, the Bible is a valuable source document. Without it, who would know anything about the Hittites, for example? You might not care about Noah, but there indeed was a world-wide flood, probably the result of climate change, although not our man-made variety. Read all about it in the Bible. (Other documents, from other totally unrelated sources from other cultures tell the same story, confirming Noah’s dampening experience as related in the Bible.)
Intellectually, the Greeks early on established standards that somehow have continued to influence us to this day. Unsuccessfully, the Romans had tried to adopt them, with 'Mars' replacing 'Ares,' for example. Romans were copiers, not originators. When James Joyce wrote a 20th century (A.D.) novel in this millennium about a Jewish Irishman, he patterned it after something written by a Greek in 700 B.C., two millenniums earlier, describing the journey of a still earlier fictitious Greek. Greek culture is one thing that has endured.
There were engineering advances too, some of which we still do not understand. Vast walled cities were built and of course, the pyramids were built in Egypt. Archeologists are still excavating all around the Mediterranean countries seeking to learn more about ancient history, what happened in those still earlier millennia, during which homo sapiens learned to supplement hunting with agriculture, migrated to more benign climates, found ways to communicate ideas, made tools, including inventing the wheel.
But what about our own millennium, the one of which only the first twenty-two years have passed, with 978 yet to go. What will happen during those remaining years? One thing you can bet on for sure is that we won’t be having 244 more presidential elections, which would take us to 3000 A.D.
Here are my guesses as to what the rest of this millennium would look like. Remember, we’re talking about this happening over the next nine and three/quarter centuries, so there is no necessary sequence to these developments.
- Male dominance will end, possibly replaced by female leadership with men becoming the ‘working’ class as is the case in some other species and surviving only because of their role in procreation.
- Western Europe and North America will no longer be the center of economic and political activity. World leadership, and there will be but one world government, either peacefully or violently accomplished, by the end of the current millennium, will shift to Asia initially and then to Africa.
- Whatever government this turns out to be will recognize the danger of the planet destroying its population, or even itself, with the weaponry available. They will take steps to permanently avoid such an occurrence.
- Racism will end, as intermarriage results in a close-to- common skin color for the world’s population.
- A common world-wide language will develop, based on information technology.
- At great expense and loss of life, we will visit all the planets in our solar system, but establish residency on none, even temporarily, except perhaps as ‘prison colonies.’
- It will be confirmed that there are no other life forms in the universe like us, despite the Biblical idea that the Creator created us in his or her image. (That really won’t matter because most religions will eventually disappear during this millennium.) Earth people will not succeed in communicating with highly developed life forms in other parts of the universe which might turn out to be insects, or even prove to be vegetable in nature.
- Scientific and engineering advances, by humans and by the artificial intelligence structures they develop, will resolve or solve problems such as food shortages, climate change, energy sources, adequate housing, and most diseases will be readily curable. Life expectancy will routinely reach well into the three digits, which will result in birth control practices to limit the population of the planet to a sustainable level.
- The use that people make of the time available to them, in terms of thinking and planning, including the preservation and continuance of all of the planet’s knowledge and philosophical and cultural heritages, will determine the direction of millenniums which will follow ours.
- People will have to devote themselves to activities other than recreation and entertainment, for which there will be plenty of time and opportunity. Nevertheless, some will take this route while others will turn in the more constructive directions pointed out in the two preceding paragraphs. This will be the basis of social divisions which, if not carefully monitored, can turn into political struggles.
There you have it. Print it out, put it in a time capsule and pass down a message to your heirs to check it out in January, 3000 A.D.
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