The Sum Of The Parts


As many very smart people struggle with understanding and explaining the problems of advancing sclerosis in modern society, it has begun to be clearer that if we fall prey to an inevitable expectation of complexity, we will be falling into a trap from which there will be no escape.

Complex solutions to complex problems simply create more complexity! That in turn tends to accelerate the congealing of the very processes we need and want to uncongeal.

So where can we go to look for ways to unravel the knots in our world which are strangling our society?

We probably should look deeply into our history as humans as well as how we start training our children –even as they begin to walk and talk.

Do you remember as you graduated from scooching to stumbling to walking on your own, you were taught to take one step at a time on your very own?

Perhaps those were the first steps you were taking in the misdirection’s we find ourselves in today.

 If every step we take in our lives is simply for ourselves, we will tend to care much more for our own interests than anyone else’s.

If we do not learn early enough in life that our steps need to be taken in the context of everybody else’s, we will naturally tend to go off on our own and let the other guys fend for themselves as well.  

The suggestion implicit in this observation could be a simple practical step in the direction of getting our fellow society members to approach their lives more collaboratively with everybody else.

That might in turn get us all attuned to making society work for everybody –not just a lucky few.

This is how it might work.

Instead of showing babies they want/need to learn to walk, we should show them that they need/want to walk with the other kid/s.

Then we ‘import’ the neighbor’s baby and get them TOGETHER to scooching to stumbling to walking together like two drunken sailors.

Scooching was fun, and a scooching race can make the Indianapolis 500 seem tame in our own living rooms.

There are alternatives to teaching/learning collaboration in the modern world BUT they are all complicated and as a result are unlikely to make any significant progress.

One example would be to devote curriculum time to collaboration in kindergarten. That would require reteaching teachers etc. Expensive and unlikely to accomplish much.

But, if we could get involved at the very start of life, many more kids could grow up with collaboration in every pore of their bodies and we just might be on a new path to a more collaborative world??   


The Core Of The Democratic Party


The 20 odd current candidates range from the far left—Sanders and Warren–to the center – Buttigieg and Harris and in between over a dozen interesting, able people without much visibility to garner attention AND then there is Joe Biden who is familiar to and trusted by virtually all adult Democrats paying attention today.

If we drill into the core of all those creditable people, we will find the same basic instincts and values: respect for all Americans; the belief that health care is a human right; respect for the market and tax system and to distribute the country’s wealth fairly. Obviously, there are tweaks to the left or right among the candidates, to distinguish themselves for obvious reasons.

We all—more-less know that what matters most is to WIN the election.

It is already clear that to do that we need to avoid the extremes to attract the widest group of voters possible.

And, to do that it is increasingly clear that we need to embrace the most well known and trusted possible candidates.

Biden is clearly aging AND he also appears to have good enough health to win the election and restart the process of governance that the Democratic Party and President Obama left to the country in 2016.

His running mate will also be crucial –both to attract more voters and to learn how to make the Presidential process work for the good of the whole country.

I hope we can turn more of our attention as we weed out the ‘extra’ candidates, to the best possible choice for a person to be able to succeed Biden.

There are several very interesting possibilities for that role, when we can get past the clearly mistaken belief that the candidate must be someone exciting and new.

If that person existed at all, we would surely know who it is by now.

So let’s refocus on reality and get back on the basic, imperative task at hand!

A New Dimension To Health Care

Primary care is where [as the word primary says] health care begins and hopefully ends for a great many folks, because the problem either was addressed promptly or was not too serious but did need a ‘band-aid’.

As with most things involving large populations, the first stage –and perhaps most important— is the weeding out stage which enables the succeeding phases to be more efficient and effective by focusing the more trained and experienced doctors to spend ALL their time working on what they were especially trained to do—not just doing the weeding out.

The new, and now rapidly growing, problem is that doctors and community health centers

[which see most people in need of help first before they go to hospitals]

are watching their populations of primary care doctors age and retire and at the same time they are having a VERY hard time rebuilding their essential base of primary care physicians.

There has long been a preference for doctors to go to densely populated areas where they can specialize easily with enough population to feed them with their type of cases.

The problem has gotten worse with the training in med schools focusing student interests in specialization. And, the ability of specialists to attract enough economic support to work, and to live the lives they want, they are led to ignore smaller less populated communities.

There are various ways this problem can be addressed in the smaller less populated areas.

The problem is that there are strict medical rules about what doctors can and can not do.

The consequence is that it is becoming more and more very difficult for local medical facilities to see all the people who “need to ‘see’ a doctor”.

A simple answer is to get more doctors. Unfortunately, that simple answer does not work the way the system operates today. That is not where enough doctors want or can afford to go. And those local communities—with rare exceptions—can not afford enough doctors to cover even their smallish populations.

A less simple, but in most cases, workable solution is to change doctor/assistant ratios. There are lots of new positions in medicine – physician’s assistants [PAs] as well as nurse practitioners [NPs] for example.

What is needed now is a top down and bottom up review of how best to utilize the skills and training that are already available and, in the system, and could be redeployed more efficiently. 

The aim here should be less what can not be done than what can be done. Solutions are always better than NO!

Where previously a local center ‘needed’ four or five doctors, but cannot get or afford 3, if they had 3 PAs and/or 3 NPs –one or two doctors could, most of the time, cover all the needs of that community.

But, frequently those local medical facilities do not have a strong enough voice to change the rules to enable them to provide that service.

Once again, we see ourselves governed by what sounds like rigid ‘union’ rules and sometimes even greed, at the expense of providing health care to their populations. 

How to Mix and Match Americans?

Data is pouring out everywhere about how tribal America has become in recent years.

Amazing information is appearing about how easy it is to predict voting ‘habits.’ Our sex, age, education, color and other factors reveal how we think about ourselves, our lives and other people’s lives.

 It occurs to me that there just might be some quite simple and inexpensive ways to restore at least some of the American genius for integrating our varied populations again into larger groupings of people who cherish and value the strength and power of our differences.

When most of us are born, we enter a world of siblings and cousins, who, depending on where they live, we come to know as family.

Perhaps we could add to our little worlds a few ‘strangers’ who might be called co-cousins, as collaborative cousins (as distinct from second cousins etc.) who would be selected and assigned randomly—but deliberately geographically accessible and ‘different” —  to every child born.

The very fact that we would find ourselves with co-cousins as additional relatives might stimulate people with curiosity to try to get to know them.

In the process, there could be quite a lot of mixing and matching at an age when children, in general, have not yet learned to beware of strangers or even notice distinct differences.

Anything that stirs the pots of our lives to enable us to know ‘strangers’ better would most likely strengthen our bonds as a nation. A national “pen pal” program connecting youth to their co-cousins in other parts of our nation at a young age, for example, might serve a similar purpose.

Our differences are one of our greatest strengths!

Whales Vs. Humans

Whales and humans have more in common than most folks know or recognize. We are both mammals, even though whales live almost entirely underwater. They breathe air like we do but hold their breath better and longer.

And, the fact that we share a common breathing system means whales are most likely the closest relatives to our land-based forbearers, because some of their ancestors must have been like some of ours.

Perhaps that is why many humans have always been particularly fascinated by whales – Moby Dick being the most famous example.

Now that humans have scoured the seas for hundreds of mindless years finding whales and turning them into lamp lights, those seas are left with very few whales. Many humans, who no longer worry about lamp light, are finally beginning to worry about their disappearing relatives – those cozy, friendly whales.

The remaining whales of all sorts are struggling for survival, coming closer to shore and shallow water, are allegedly becoming entangled with fishing gear, and being struck by unknowing ships simply passing through normal shipping lanes which lack any “BEWARE” signs in whale language.

The voices of many human whale lovers, who have very few reliable facts, are in support of their ancient relatives. Great political pressure is also rising to slow ships and cut back on underwater fishing gear, in a largely hopeless belief that will save a lot of whales. The evidence is NOT there but the political voices keep rising.

Significant changes have been proposed ‘hopefully’ to enhance whales’ prospects inevitably will lead to shipping inefficiencies (slower is much more expensive) and fishing obstacles would reduce fishing jobs and raise the cost of fish and lobsters to consumers—not to mention to the effect on the overall fishing communities.

Mindless whale lovers say ‘too bad,’ that such results are the unavoidable consequence of saving our whales.

The communities that are based on fishing could be devastated and their consumers will eat less of a more expensive product, as well as many other people everywhere who buy products from slowed ships will pay more for the higher cost of shipping those products.

To deal with all those problems presents a classic political challenge. Generally you can beat something with nothing.

We have already seen that a nose count of support today for whales vs. humans is likely to be won by whales, therefore we need to out-flank the whale supporters with a political ploy—which is slow down their demand for more tighter regulation AND demand that it be introduced very slowly to provide more time to get more facts and give both fisherman and shippers time to prove the reality that their activities are not the cause of whales’ problems—and at the same time hold off the adverse effects on fishing communities.

This saddening controversy is typical of today’s fractionated world.

The fishing community should embrace a very slow approach to help gather the data which should send the regulators away in disgrace and put the purist whale lovers onto other harmless adventures.

Domestic Terrorism

The mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton are just the most recent evidence that we are slipping into the early stages of a modern revolutionary war.

I will not linger on the dimensions of gun violence, per se – we are long past the moment to deal with all the Second Amendment issues and address this crisis in some sensible way.

I also will not focus on ‘white supremacy’ itself. The vast majority of Americans know that multiculturalism has been and is at the root of our greatest strengths, and has been a key source of our nation’s leadership in the world in inventiveness, competitiveness and togetherness.  We simply cannot weaken our resolve to stay on that course.

Instead, I will focus on a procedural issue which underlies today’s tragedies which can and must be addressed vigorously.

Our legal system is clear: we cannot stop people from having bad ideas. We believe that words and thoughts alone are immune to legal intervention.

However, the internet has enabled people to stir up other people, as has been the recent case with white supremacy.

And, as in the most recent tragedy, perpetrators have often advertised their plans in advance on the internet. The FBI –if they had had enough time –might have been able to intervene in some fashion. But, all they could have done in advance is get in the way, because until the first shot are fired there was not yet a crime committed.

Therefore, we need to look carefully at our laws and regulations about how and what to do in those situations.

It is now clear that the FBI and police everywhere must be better able to intervene in advance and detain such people and have them held and ‘treated’ until experts are reasonably satisfied that they are no longer a threat to society.

It is tempting to think that the internet is the culprit. Its existence sadly has made the problem worse, BUT it also is a place where experts can pick up a lot of useable information in advance of evil action.

All these problems are built on a combination of elements—guns, fear of others and our basic desire for freedom. We have to deal with ALL those issues, including making it more common to intervene in advance.