Forum Thread

The US is fundamentally a dysfunctional tribal nation

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    As an outside observer, I have sometimes wondered how the US has survived this long. It has major groups with totally opposed views on what the US should be, what rights its citizens should have, who should have control, how the environment should be treated, what wars should be waged, who should be allowed to live in the country (and under what conditions), even whether the US should or should not be a democracy.

    Political and other differences are always present in any country. If the country has a healthy democracy, they usually get ironed out with little upheaval. We have fault-lines in my country (literally, as it happens - we're on a major tectonic plate joint). But the social fault-lines are usually absorbed and cushioned by values like tolerance, respect for differences, intolerance of intolerance and the opportunity a functioning democracy gives everyone to have their say.

    I see little of that in the US. About this point, I regularly hear from conservatives "we don't care what you think", "mind your own business", "why are you talking to us about stuff that has nothing to do with you", and "we saved you from the Japanese". That's just before they ban me for heresy. It's a tribal mindset that we, thankfully, don't share. Even though we are as diverse ethnically as the USA.

    I struggle to find a solution to the American conundrum that does not involve civil war. It is clearly already in a cold war. The Putin/Obama rhetoric pales to insignificance compared to some of the weird noises I hear from the American tribes.

    Question is: How long can that sorry, but adequate, equilibrium be maintained?

    BTW, my avatar is of US congressmen salivating over Benjamin Netanyahu.
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    I have often been reminded of the following when I think of American antagonists and the way they handle their antagonisms. Dunno why. Maybe it's just me. :)

    How To Give A Cat A Pill

    1. Pick up cat and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding
    a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat's
    mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right
    hand. As cat opens mouth, pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth
    and swallow.

    2. Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left
    arm and repeat process.

    3. Retrieve cat from bedroom and throw soggy pill away.

    4. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm, holding rear
    paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of
    mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.

    5. Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call
    spouse from garden.

    6. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and
    rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold head
    firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth Drop pill
    down ruler and rub cat's throat vigorously.

    7. Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make
    note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered
    figurines and vases from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.

    8. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just
    visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force
    mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.

    9. Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink 1 beer to
    take taste away. Apply Band-Aid to spouse's forearm and remove blood
    from carpet with cold water and soap.

    10. Retrieve cat from neighbor's shed. Get another pill. Open another
    beer. Place cat in cupboard and close door on to neck to leave head
    showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat
    with elastic band.

    11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges.
    Drink beer. Fetch bottle of scotch. Pour shot, drink. Apply cold
    compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus shot. Apply
    whiskey compress to cheek to disinfect. Toss back another shot. Throw
    T-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.

    12. Call fire department to retrieve the (*)(*)(*)(*) cat from across the road.
    Apologize to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid
    cat. Take last pill from foil wrap.

    13. Tie the little bastard's front paws to rear paws with garden twine
    and bind tightly to leg of dining table, find heavy-duty pruning gloves
    from shed. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of filet steak.
    Be rough about it. Hold head vertically and pour 2 pints of water down
    throat to wash pill down.

    14. Consume remainder of scotch. Get spouse to drive you to the
    emergency room, sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm
    and removes pill remnants from right eye. Call furniture shop on way
    home to order new table.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Denton, TX
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    You make a lot of solid points. I have often wondered the same thing. One thought that sort of makes sense to me, if you zoom out far enough and ignore the nuts and bolts and rhetoric and all that... the yin yang model. If Americans were all today's version of conservative/Republican or today's version of a liberal/Democrat, we would surely have some serious issues of imbalance with any number of topics. Neither party is absolutely perfect in its thinking, and the other side of the aisle can and often does have the more correct answer. The two sides check each other constantly, usually to the point of stagnation.

    This formula seems doomed to fail because it is so ... schizophrenic or bi-polar. But, maybe that's the paradox; two volatile oppositions with clashing ideologies culminate into calm(ish) waters (at least for the time being). The ironic part of all this is perhaps the great collapse or civil war will come when the two oppositions aren't equal anymore. The yin-yang dynamic would be disrupted, and chaos of who knows what order would ensue. Say the GOP becomes a small, violent, motivated, and ignored faction, with the Dems owning all and emposing their will at every turn.. if that faction felt their was no end in sight of the Dem's rule, they would surely revolt. Maybe that's the tension we fill in the air today in America, the Tea Party represents that angst. Balance creates peace, if only a temporary one. Like you said, adequacy. Imbalance creates the opposite. That's my two cents on this anyways; paradox of power is interesting to me.
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    What rather amazes me, and gives me some sort of hope that America might one day come to its senses, is that so many here seem to agree with me - a foreigner looking in. If I were on a conservative site, by now I would have been bombarded with a battery of insults, prosaic tripe about the US constitution, threats to bomb my country, and badly argued diatribes about patriotism, glory and how America won the wars it actually lost.

    It's all rather refreshing.

    I think there is actually a large majority of Americans who know what needs to be done. The difficulty is mobilising them as the civil rights movement mobilised African-Americans.

    BTW, the thing about that cat was a metaphor.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Denton, TX
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    Good to have you on the site, letshavelunch. Us Americans, we're not all crazy. :) May I ask what country you are from?
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    letshavelunch Wrote: What rather amazes me, and gives me some sort of hope that America might one day come to its senses, is that so many here seem to agree with me - a foreigner looking in. If I were on a conservative site, by now I would have been bombarded with a battery of insults, prosaic tripe about the US constitution, threats to bomb my country, and badly argued diatribes about patriotism, glory and how America won the wars it actually lost.

    It's all rather refreshing.

    I think there is actually a large majority of Americans who know what needs to be done. The difficulty is mobilising them as the civil rights movement mobilised African-Americans.

    BTW, the thing about that cat was a metaphor.
    Your statement: ..... hope that America one day come to its senses.........., is rather impossible; why? The system here runs on "money", as well as ignorance, fanatism and stubborness. I've been here for more than 24 years but still have to get used to this society. Especially I've never seen more fanatics in all kind of things; like religion, sports, guns, football, baseball, basket ball. Once they are stuck in an area they stay there and do not change.
    Especially in religeon, they stick with it like glue even if facts are right in front of their face. Then we have the "money god" "x" million is not enough, it has to be billions; what for? ,I don't know. Then we have the "gun" lovers who collect guns like baseball cards; but claim they do not intent to shoot someone, until the wife wants a divorce etc. Lets look at the elections; one big laughable circus; money flies around like the Allstate motorcycle add.
    The ones with the most lies and money wins. Looking at the some area's population and education; rednecks abundant, who can only read the word "gun", "booze", "pot", and "church" and souping up their hotrod with huge tires. Just about half the country consists of those types and other weirdo's.
    Like to add as well because of your other proza: they are fond of badgets, uniforms, medals, flag etc. which is totally overdone; likely an inferiority complex.

    So you think "they" will come to their senses? Keep on dreaming!! Impossible!!!
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    @sbfriedman

    I live in New Zealand - a small, largely secular country (about the size of Italy but the population of Kentucky) at the bottom of the South Pacific that most Americans would never have heard of but for the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

    I regard myself as very lucky to be here. NZ does well in most international rankings of corruption, education, human development, racial tolerance, press freedom, has a fair political system, democratic institutions and is moderately wealthy with, currently, one of the best economic growth rates in the world - thanks in great part as a result of our trade agreements with China.

    It's also a very beautiful country with a temperate climate, great scenery, friendly people, good standard of living, and a clean environment.

    This is why I find the US so strange. We have few social divides here (like you, there is one between rich and poor) and what there are do not generally run very deep. We have our problems as every country does but somehow we get manage to get through most of them with sensible governance and a fair social justice system.

    PS It may be of some interest to you that NZ has jut announced it will bypass the US dollar in its trade with China. We will directly exchange currencies. A few other countries have already adopted this approach to international trade. The US dollar as the international exchange currency is gradually being weakened.
  • Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    Your statement: ..... hope that America one day come to its senses.........., is rather impossible; why? The system here runs on "money", as well as ignorance, fanatism and stubborness. I've been here for more than 24 years but still have to get used to this society. Especially I've never seen more fanatics in all kind of things; like religion, sports, guns, football, baseball, basket ball. Once they are stuck in an area they stay there and do not change.
    Especially in religeon... So you think "they" will come to their senses? Keep on dreaming!! Impossible!!! [/quote]


    I think it's possible. But the cost will be high. Only a dramatic event, probably a financial and economic collapse, will create the conditions to fundamentally change America. You will need another 2008 (probably a 1929) and a larger, more aggressive OWS-type movement. The many networks trying to work towards a fairer society are doing as good a job as conditions allow. But, to be frank, they are up against it. The American elites are just too strong. Something would have to happen to bring them down.
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    letshavelunch Wrote: Your statement: ..... hope that America one day come to its senses.........., is rather impossible; why? The system here runs on "money", as well as ignorance, fanatism and stubborness. I've been here for more than 24 years but still have to get used to this society. Especially I've never seen more fanatics in all kind of things; like religion, sports, guns, football, baseball, basket ball. Once they are stuck in an area they stay there and do not change.
    Especially in religeon... So you think "they" will come to their senses? Keep on dreaming!! Impossible!!!


    I think it's possible. But the cost will be high. Only a dramatic event, probably a financial and economic collapse, will create the conditions to fundamentally change America. You will need another 2008 (probably a 1929) and a larger, more aggressive OWS-type movement. The many networks trying to work towards a fairer society are doing as good a job as conditions allow. But, to be frank, they are up against it. The American elites are just too strong. Something would have to happen to bring them down. [quote]


    Your last line probably does not happen either; those people have stashed their loot outside the US; a billion more or less for them does not have any effect. If things happen like in 1929, then New Zealand as well as the Netherlands will be affected, so not a good solution. I think the only thing what may work is better education and common sense, as well as much more attention to "internal issues" instead of meddling in the whole world by thinking they know it all. How do you get rid of the arrogance? Show them better ways to run a country, but their arrogance will decline any suggestions.
    The Dutch gave them advise about New Orleans flooding protection; they only took half of the advise; so wait and see; it will flood again.
  • Are you sure you want to delete this post?
        
    Dutch Wrote:

    Your last line probably does not happen either; those people have stashed their loot outside the US; a billion more or less for them does not have any effect. If things happen like in 1929, then New Zealand as well as the Netherlands will be affected, so not a good solution. I think the only thing what may work is better education and common sense, as well as much more attention to "internal issues" instead of meddling in the whole world by thinking they know it all. How do you get rid of the arrogance? Show them better ways to run a country, but their arrogance will decline any suggestions.
    The Dutch gave them advise about New Orleans flooding protection; they only took half of the advise; so wait and see; it will flood again.
    Education and common sense in the US give way to easy but effective slogans like "liberty", "freedom", "individualism", "exceptionalism", "self-reliance", small government" and all the rest. Americans have a mentality that leads easily to being led wherever their leaders want them to go. Of course there are those who think independently but they seem to have little effect.

    I still believe it will take something catastrophic to change that mentality and produce significant reforms - reform of the constitution, the political system, the judiciary, and the bureaucracy.

    The essential reform is to take the money out of electioneering, eliminate barriers to fair voting, and give voters more choice. In New Zealand, it is permissible to receive corporate support - but it has to be declared. But most parties get most of their financial support from small donors. In the case of the Green Party, members are tithed 10% of their salary. And most NZ voters are sophisticated enough not to be swayed by dog-whistle politicking. Expensive TV ad campaigns barely register here. And all ads, especially attack ads, are governed by broadcasting rules. (In the US, that would be condemned as a curb on free speech. Here we take the view that there are superior standards of common decency.)

    We also have a totally independent electoral commission that decides electoral boundaries and establishes the rules for the conduct of elections. There is no way government can interfere with that. (In the US, any state that wants to can, by various means, exclude or neutralise whatever section of the constituency that is unhelpful to the people in power. And PS - your states are another whole ridiculous ball game.)

    To New Zealanders, all that seems simple and natural and is fiercely protected by public opinion.

    Political divisions are out in the open and represented by a variety of political parties in parliament. If you want to vote to support indigenous people issues, you currently have two parties to choose from. If you want to vote for environmental protection and cleaner energy, you have the Green party. If you want to vote for senior citizen issues, you have NZ First, and so on.

    Why has this happened here and not in America? Partly because we have a different constitutional history. But mostly because we don't have your social divides that set up the tensions exploited endlessly in political propaganda. Nor do we have the fears and hatreds this propaganda generates. We don't have a constitution endlessly interpreted, re-interpreted and endlessly misinterpreted for political ends. We have public opinion that actually influences politicians, not just provide an endless stream of confusing statistics for outfits like the Pew Institute or photo opportunities for the Tea Party.

    You have developed your system of government over a couple of centuries. Your prejudices, loyalties and fears are ingrained in your DNA. Only a cataclysmic event will change you. 1929, WW2, the Civil Rights movement in the 60s,Vietnam, and OWS did to a useful degree. But did not change the fundamentals. Oddly, one of your major problems is that you are too wealthy. And are comatosed by it.
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    ***NOTE: For those who prefer reading "short" posts, you can skip to the bottom where you'll see: **** 4 asterisks:

    There is a whole lot of truth in what you wrote. But one thing you did not notice, is that this US government has been under attack, covertly, for over 55 years. Internal subversion, orchestrated by the JBS, with many millionaires backing it, leaders of corporate industry, many members in the NAM (Nat'l Association of Manufacturers). Using a propaganda network set up in the 1960's, they had numerous radio shows & broadcasts every week, to "brain-wash" Americans, to gradually turn farther right into the GOP. They had many "recruiters" thru-out the community, looking for people to initiate into the "cause." They SAID it was a patriotic group, to fight the "communists" & thus lured millions of people into their welcoming fold. It was all "covert" & their memberships were unknown. They backed Goldwater for President in 1964, since he was a member on the Executive Committee of the John Birch Society. (JBS).

    Do not blame the American people for their ignorance, for they have been exposed to nothing but subversive propaganda for the last 55 years, & especially (as an example) the likes of Rushbo, who has been on the air (unopposed) for 29 years. At least 2 generations have lived under constant bombardment of the JBS "disinformation" squad. Night & Day, endlessly picked up & repeated by other arms of the JBS/GOP & now in the latest form, they have morphed into the Tea Party. Characterized by utter stupidity & lunacy, they have nevertheless managed to get their candidates into the public eye, as legitimate to be in Congress & Oval Office. MONEY TALKS, & the Koch Bros inherited their wealth from their Daddy's OIL business, & their Daddy was on the John Birch Society national council. Now the money trail starts to all make sense. While Daddy Koch was young, he lived in the Soviet Union & knew Joseph Stalin personally. (Stalin was Communist Dictator). When Daddy Koch left the USSR & came home, he immediately got into the OIL business, got very wealthy & joined the John Birch Society (as a leader) in its National Council. AND it just so happens that the John Birch Society loudly proclaims that they "DO NOT BELIEVE IN DEMOCRACY" -- so of course, they do not mind doing a little bit of subversion in order to DESTROY IT. (Which works really well with the objectives of Joseph Stalin, from USSR).

    Can you follow this, so far? Apparently, once they have destroyed our Democracy, (which means the Govt of, by & for the People, & our Rights to VOTE), then our nation will be helpless, & will be governed by anybody with power, which translates to MONEY. So the very Rich, corrupt, evil saboteurs will be in command of America --- & all our rights will be null & void. It is something I've known for many years...

    but few want to believe. Even after all my lifetime experiences with knowing Birchers, reading all their books, including their own JBS Members Manual, which lays it all out in detail, what they are doing & what they really want to do. They told how "propaganda" to brainwash the masses is essential, in the beginning stages, & Rushbo is only one of their messengers, (extremely well paid) but there are literally hundreds of others. In the beginning, they got on the Religious radio broadcasting networks, with the Billy James Hargis crusade. They also told members to takeover their churches, to influence what sermons were given out from the pulpit. It has been extremely successful, because now, 55 yrs later, in MOST religions you will hear the steady drumbeat of right-wing politics: anti-gay, less freedom, bash the EPA, we need guns, against Obamacare, forget the poor, vote for the Holy GOP, like George "W" Bush, who said "God wanted him to be President."// As a result, many of the best US churches (from the past) have been stripped of all their original Christian virtues.

    Now the GOP are heavily invested in "home-schooling" where THEY control the "facts" & curriculum presented to our nation's poor innocent kids. Children are told that mankind lived with dinosaurs, there's no such thing as global warming, that liberals are dangerous & wrong, we must not believe in science, and America wasn't meant to be a "democracy" -- & don't inoculate your kids, & never pay your taxes. etc.. Meanwhile, in those poor districts getting "home-schooled"- the Repubs are cutting off their welfare, health care, & won't give minimum wages to workers.

    **** (SHORT VERSION):
    Best way to overthrow a govt, -- brainwash the public to listen to false propaganda, 24/7, and subvert the pulpits of the churches, and get most of the children brain-washed (best done by home-schooling, where "facts" can be controlled), try to bankrupt the Economy, so all the people are helpless, scared, sick, & disorganized. Destroy their govt, by bribery & infiltration, so they can't get anything done. Do everything you possibly can to disgrace & demean the President, so as to undermine his authority & make people hate him. Bribe any members of Congress you can, & threaten the others. Install a terrorist threat (false illusion) to keep people under surveillance all the time, thus limiting their freedom & ability to revolt. Instill fear & weakness (making them jobless, without alternatives for food & survival). Have armaments of all kinds in public, so people know they are not safe anywhere. Guns unlimited, like the GOP are trying to accomplish nationwide. They will "rig" elections & do everything to prevent a Legitimate Election from being held. NO ELECTIONS = No Democracy. Well, that's about it. Any questions?
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    eternal flame Wrote: ***NOTE: For those who prefer reading "short" posts, you can skip to the bottom where you'll see: **** 4 asterisks:

    There is a whole lot of truth in what you wrote. But one thing you did not notice, is that this US government has been under attack, covertly, for over 55 years.

    Do not blame the American people for their ignorance, for they have been exposed to nothing but subversive propaganda for the last 55 years, & especially (as an example) the likes of Rushbo, who has been on the air (unopposed) for 29 years. At least 2 generations have lived under constant bombardment of the JBS "disinformation" squad.

    Now the GOP are heavily invested in "home-schooling" where THEY control the "facts" & curriculum presented to our nation's poor innocent kids. Children are told that mankind lived with dinosaurs, there's no such thing as global warming, that liberals are dangerous & wrong, we must not believe in science, and America wasn't meant to be a "democracy" -- & don't inoculate your kids, & never pay your taxes. etc.. Meanwhile, in those poor districts getting "home-schooled"- the Repubs are cutting off their welfare, health care, & won't give minimum wages to workers.

    **** (SHORT VERSION):
    Best way to overthrow a govt, -- brainwash the public to listen to false propaganda, 24/7, and subvert the pulpits of the churches, and get most of the children brain-washed (best done by home-schooling, where "facts" can be controlled), try to bankrupt the Economy, so all the people are helpless, scared, sick, & disorganized. Destroy their govt, by bribery & infiltration, so they can't get anything done. Do everything you possibly can to disgrace & demean the President, so as to undermine his authority & make people hate him. Bribe any members of Congress you can, & threaten the others. Install a terrorist threat (false illusion) to keep people under surveillance all the time, thus limiting their freedom & ability to revolt. Instill fear & weakness (making them jobless, without alternatives for food & survival). Have armaments of all kinds in public, so people know they are not safe anywhere. Guns unlimited, like the GOP are trying to accomplish nationwide. They will "rig" elections & do everything to prevent a Legitimate Election from being held. NO ELECTIONS = No Democracy. Well, that's about it. Any questions?
    Yes, I am aware of all those things, except perhaps the extent of home schooling. Though I am aware of how religious movements have tried to subvert school curricula with creationist notions.

    I feel deep sympathy for your predicament. But the fact is that the spoils go to the strongest. In my country, that is a fully-fledged democracy. In yours, they go to a corporate autocracy. They are simply facts.

    To change that, you need to defeat the methods you talked about. As I have said, I don't see that happening until an event occurs that destroys the status quo and allows the rise of a new set of values. I know many people are trying. But they are not winning.
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    letshavelunch Wrote:
    eternal flame Wrote: ***NOTE: For those who prefer reading "short" posts, you can skip to the bottom where you'll see: **** 4 asterisks:

    There is a whole lot of truth in what you wrote. But one thing you did not notice, is that this US government has been under attack, covertly, for over 55 years.

    Do not blame the American people for their ignorance, for they have been exposed to nothing but subversive propaganda for the last 55 years, & especially (as an example) the likes of Rushbo, who has been on the air (unopposed) for 29 years. At least 2 generations have lived under constant bombardment of the JBS "disinformation" squad.

    Now the GOP are heavily invested in "home-schooling" where THEY control the "facts" & curriculum presented to our nation's poor innocent kids. Children are told that mankind lived with dinosaurs, there's no such thing as global warming, that liberals are dangerous & wrong, we must not believe in science, and America wasn't meant to be a "democracy" -- & don't inoculate your kids, & never pay your taxes. etc.. Meanwhile, in those poor districts getting "home-schooled"- the Repubs are cutting off their welfare, health care, & won't give minimum wages to workers.

    **** (SHORT VERSION):
    Best way to overthrow a govt, -- brainwash the public to listen to false propaganda, 24/7, and subvert the pulpits of the churches, and get most of the children brain-washed (best done by home-schooling, where "facts" can be controlled), try to bankrupt the Economy, so all the people are helpless, scared, sick, & disorganized. Destroy their govt, by bribery & infiltration, so they can't get anything done. Do everything you possibly can to disgrace & demean the President, so as to undermine his authority & make people hate him. Bribe any members of Congress you can, & threaten the others. Install a terrorist threat (false illusion) to keep people under surveillance all the time, thus limiting their freedom & ability to revolt. Instill fear & weakness (making them jobless, without alternatives for food & survival). Have armaments of all kinds in public, so people know they are not safe anywhere. Guns unlimited, like the GOP are trying to accomplish nationwide. They will "rig" elections & do everything to prevent a Legitimate Election from being held. NO ELECTIONS = No Democracy. Well, that's about it. Any questions?
    Yes, I am aware of all those things, except perhaps the extent of home schooling. Though I am aware of how religious movements have tried to subvert school curricula with creationist notions.

    I feel deep sympathy for your predicament. But the fact is that the spoils go to the strongest. In my country, that is a fully-fledged democracy. In yours, they go to a corporate autocracy. They are simply facts.

    To change that, you need to defeat the methods you talked about. As I have said, I don't see that happening until an event occurs that destroys the status quo and allows the rise of a new set of values. I know many people are trying. But they are not winning.
    Yeah, please look again on what I wrote before; it is like you say only a drastic event may change things here; the "money" thing is way too deep embedded in this society; it corrupts everything.
  • Green Party
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    Alas, I have deserted to tame the dragon on politicaforum. Naturally I was eventually banned... after 1300+ entertaining posts. Do you people know what you are up against in your own country?
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Awryly Wrote: Alas, I have deserted to tame the dragon on politicaforum. Naturally I was eventually banned... after 1300+ entertaining posts. Do you people know what you are up against in your own country?
    Yes, I know this country needs a lot of "reality" training.