Retrospectoscope<Where We Have Been and Whither Now.>

The Octogenarians began with an implicit assertion that ideas and issues that are disremembered and only foggily available may be so because of a wish among an elite to make these issues unavailable for examination and evaluation.This is of particular importance to subsequent generations.The role of first Model City occupied by New Haven in the 60s is not listed among New Haven’s “Firsts” indeed not listed at all.A.K. Rice’s 60s analysis and recommendations to Redlich, then Dean of Yale Medical School, regarding the Medical School’s obligation to the community with its implications for the University is “missing”and not remembered.Yale’s involvement with New Haven has doubtless gone far beyond those early recommendations but the dialogue has been delayed and possibly altered by those whose commitment was to the past rather than to an evolving future.
There has been a resurgence of a geographic emphasis worldwide with the intention of making life better through architectural innovation.The mechanism being an improvement in self concept because of architectural change.There appears to be little recognition that this was one of the failed assumptions of the model cities concept.
Some of us propose that there is a struggle between concepts for the mantle of the model nation that will dominate and lead the 21st century.Some of us insist that there can be a model nation to lead the 7 1/2 billion of us into the future.Indeed if so, the operational basis for that nation would be worthy of study and emulation.A recent synopsis in Intercollegiate Review suggests that there are only four models for governance and democracy is the vaguest and most faith hinged.(Chilton William’s synopsis of his book “After Tocqueville”).”Liberal Capitalist Democracy”is in direct conflict with “Ideological Totalitarianism” but the very concept of democracy is a work in progress and basically an unreachable asymptote.Founding documents like the Magna Carta and the U.S. Constitution cannot be gospel but instead evolving verse.Regarding them as gospel converts the evaluation process to religion and/or ideology and fixes our gaze on the past of the 13th,14th and 18th century.
The amendment process is slow and gives greater importance to executive action at all levels including the courts.Obviously the possibility of abuse is increased.Strict constructionism gives greater import to the structures that are in service to the maintenance of a status quo or the restoration of a status quo ante.Voting rights struggles,immigration reform,policing problems particularly with minority abuse(Black Lives Matter),LBGE issues and women’s rights collectively represent a broad battleground for the shape of America’s future.

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4 Comments

  1. The objectivity needed for the careful review of the contents of the package requires the chooser to be unemotional and presumably free of influences which he or she might consider coercive.Whether by design or not(Whose?) this is not usually the human condition.

    1. First of all – define the illness. Daedal2207 does so with his observation that objectivity “is not usually the human condition”.. This tells us that sentiments are addictive. They are so powerfully addictive that objectivity for many becomes impossible. Being that no one can avoid having sentiments, our prescription for the improvement of the human condition is that of cultivating those SENTIMENTS THAT ARE APPROPRIATE to the realities in which we must function. Societal expectations evolving for subjective reasons complicate this task because they vary and often conflict, but all of us, no matter our cultural differences, share equally a need to conform harmoniously to the laws of nature. Some people do it better than others. Some societies do it better than others. The physicians in this group of octogenarians are well positioned to prescribe and distribute the needed medicine – Right?

  2. Democracy: As demonstrated in the Intercollegiate Review it means many things, and thus to that degree the use of the word becomes less meaningful. If looking at a package the contents of which are described by worn, smudged, and torn labels, it seems that we should pay less attention to the labels and look directly into the package.
    By any name, let’s agree that this particular package contains instructions that explain how mankind can structure itself such that the greatest number can achieve optimum health and happiness. (This maximizes the probability that you and your loved ones will be among the beneficiaries.)
    Open the package and examine the fundamentals:
    On the highest priority we can understand that physical needs must be met. What kind of social structure is most likely to successfully place before the greatest number the goods required?
    Fundamental: All economic systems allocate scarce resources that have alternative uses. With this understood, our effort can be directed to encourage the most efficient means to enhance the quantity and quality of resources and the most efficient means for their allocation. Here is another universal truth: Profit tells us what to do more of and loss tells us when to quit. It stands to reason that a social system that protects a freedom to profit and a freedom to lose will harness and focus the judgments of self-interest to the productive benefit of all.
    Another fundamental: We choose only among that which we know. Where do we find the “knowledge” that best serves our all-around economic judgments? How much would a mind have to “know” in order to countrywide best allocate all the scarce resources that have myriad alternative uses? Is this mind likely to have more of the needed knowledge than that kind of mundane knowledge which exists among the entire population, each individual keenly aware of its own best interactions within its immediate world?
    No matter what you call it, if we want the highest degrees of efficiency in meeting man’s physical needs it seems that we should want our governing system to allow, even encourage access to all that mundane knowledge. This is met with a system that encourages high degrees of freedom thereby allowing individuals to experience profit as well as loss. With freedom, loss itself becomes a sensitive knowledge out of which profit is more likely to grow.
    Social systems that dilute the incentive powers of such freedoms and/or fail to tap vast amounts of mundane knowledge must be something less successful as regards the criteria of most efficiently meeting mankind’s physical needs. Complicating this rather pure look at the contents of this particular package is the fact that in some contexts (such as war) the kind of specialized “knowledge” required may indeed be found in an authoritarian source such as “General” or “Supreme Commander”. This in order to give society its control of resources a pin-point focus with impact guided specifically to destroy an enemy. And then, there are other kinds of threats such as “climate change” which (if truly more harmful than good, and if man can do something about it) may require similar authoritarian-like detours. And there are other threats to the best: Some believe that God (or whatever imagined divine-like source) requires us (perhaps in the name of “goodness”, “morality”, or “justice”) to demonize profit and thus turn to more authoritarian, centralized power in order to force greater equalities of distributions (from each according to ability – to each according to need).
    Will the individual freedoms necessary for the best economic activity be supported by people respecting a majority vote (democracy)? Will these freedoms that tap mundane knowledge be supported by an authoritarian, centralized planning committee? Is the majority’s wisdom less or more subject to fashionable, subjective distortions? Perhaps another fundamental truth will provide an answer: Power tends to corruption – be it power shared by the majority, or power possessed by an individual. But here is another fundamental truth: Competition tends to thwart corruption. Competition (by definition) requires others, and thus is found in groups. Individuals, when allowed too much power often give us results such as experienced in North Korea.
    We do not have guarantees, but we do have probabilities. By whatever label we attach to it, engage greater numbers in the responsibility for their own guidance and we are more likely to succeed and less likely to fail.
    Don Spencer

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