When Tunisian Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire, he ignited a fire of revolution for social justice that will eventually engulf every corrupt government on earth. This fire won't die until we the people of planet Earth unite in revolution and take back our respective governments from the elite oligarchs who now own and control them.
Soon this fire will burn hot in America, the world's epicenter of corrupt government. Each year, lobbyists transfer millions in legal bribes from corporate special interests to our government "representatives" in return for billions of our tax dollars. For example, last year alone, big oil, the richest industry on earth, gave our "representatives" $28,000,000 in return for $3,800,000,000 in tax breaks.
The elite oligarchs are getting fabulously rich while a record 44,000,000 Americans live in poverty, a record 40,000,000 Americans rely on food stamps, 30,000,000 Americans are unemployed or underemployed, a record 6,000,000 Americans have given up looking for a job, millions of Americans have lost their homes to foreclosure by the same banksters bailed out by billions of our tax dollars, and, unlike our privileged "representatives" in Washington, 51,000,000 Americans have no health insurance. America is ripe for revolution.
Our government actively facilitated the banksters' robbery of billions from the American people and then audaciously bailed out these crooks with billions of our tax dollars. While accepting millions in corporate bribes from the health insurance industry, our government refused to even discuss single-payer, a proven health care system that costs half what we Americans pay, provides superior health care, and covers every citizen! These two examples alone show our government's complete contempt for social justice and intellectual honesty. America is ripe for revolution.
Years ago politicians tried to hide their dishonesty. Our current government openly sells out the American people with impunity. Obama made a deal with the big pharmaceuticals that will cost the American people billions more for their medicine. Most Americans were against continuing the billions in tax cuts for the very rich, but that didn't matter to our "representatives". They patted themselves on the back for passing a "compromise" bill extending the tax cuts for the very rich (with a few crumbs thrown to the American people), while freezing federal worker's pay (a de facto tax increase for millions of middle-class Americans), reducing heating oil subsidies for the poor, and slashing at many other programs that help ordinary Americans just when that help is desperately needed. America is ripe for revolution.
WikiLeaks confirmed that our government often lies to us about its foreign policies. Our government bribes, threatens, or severely punishes foreign governments that resist US hegemony. Our government invaded Iraq based on a pack of lies that ultimately will cost the American people trillions (not to mention thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives). Showing utter contempt for our intelligence, our government called this illegal invasion, "Operation Iraqi Freedom". International law means nothing to our government. Our government recently stood alone in killing a UN resolution condemning Israel's expansion of illegal settlements on stolen, occupied land (France, Germany, UK, Brazil, South Africa, and India all voted in favor). Yet, our government tells us they hate us because of our freedoms. America is ripe for revolution.
EVERY year our government gives billions of our tax dollars to various violent, oppressive governments (at least 4 billion go to Israel alone), where millions of human beings live in extreme poverty without any real political voice. But if these oppressed people dare to rise up and fight for life and dignity, they're labeled "terrorists" and billions more of our tax dollars are spent killing these "terrorists" created by our government's unjust foreign policies. Charging us hundreds of billions EVERY year, which could be spent actually benefiting the American people, our government now spends more on war and war preparation than all other countries on earth combined. But they hate us because of our freedoms. America is ripe for revolution.
Why our deeply corrupt political system can't be reformed
Trying to reform a deeply corrupt political system using the same deeply corrupt political system is like trying to fix your broken arms using your broken arms. The vast majority of Americans understand that voting in new "representatives" is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic (meet the new boss, same as the old boss). Both political parties are bribed by and beholden to the same big money. The only thing our just-for-show elections change is which special interests get our tax dollars and how much they get.
There are many honest members of Congress. But they're virtually powerless against a deeply corrupt political system where various mischief mechanisms can be used to obstruct legislation benefiting the American people or to expedite legislation benefiting special interests. For example, legislation benefiting the American people can be killed by filibuster or killed in a standing committee without even getting a floor vote. This is obviously a highly rigged system.
Members of Congress know if they don't play by the rigged rules, they'll soon be out of a job. Our "representatives" regularly coerce their colleagues to vote against their consciences by using various deals, bribes, and threats. Many votes are split right down party lines. Political expediency and reelection necessarily rank higher than the interests of the American people.
Even a cursory look at the workings of our political system shows reason is easily trumped by deal making or coercion (the various mischief mechanisms available to our "representatives" guarantee this). That's precisely why we see so many examples of patently unreasonable legislation that unambiguously favors special interests at the expense of the American people. Be clear though, our political system is designed to work exactly this way.
Unless the world's most powerful government's deeply corrupt political system (based on deals, coercion, and especially deceit) is overthrown and replaced by a political system based on reason, things will surely get much worse for all the people of planet earth.
Why a second American revolution is our only option
Quite simply, it's either revolution or business as usual. Our political system is openly rigged to prevent any real reform. Besides, the elite oligarchs controlling our government would never give up their power (and massive source of money) short of a revolt by the American people. Could any sensible person doubt this?
To change our government from one that's for sale to the highest bidder to a government that looks out for the best interests of the American people is no small change. It's not even a big change. It's a revolutionary change. Our task is to replace night with day, wrong with right. We must replace our political system with its exact opposite. We must overthrow a patently unreasonable political system (by design) and replace it with a political system based on reason that forces congressional accountability and intellectual honesty.
A political system based on reason would turn government upside down
A political system based on reason would destroy the multi-million dollar lobbying industry because special interests only pay big money for unreasonable legislation (or protection from unreasonable legislation bought by competitors). Philanthropic groups aside, special interests wouldn't pay much for reasonable legislation. Congressional bribe money would virtually disappear under a reasonable political system.
That would mean our "representatives" would lose their major source of cash since they wouldn't be able to sell their political influence for very much ("Psst, give my campaign $100,000 and I'll work hard to get your very reasonable bill through the Senate.")
Of course there would still be competition between reasonable bills for our limited tax dollars, which would bring in modest "special interest" money to members of Congress who could present clear, cogent arguments (insuring reason prevails). But there would be no incentive for special interests to spend big money trying to influence legislation (as they do now) since bills would tend to pass or fail based on their reasonableness, rather than based on who can play the best political game of deal making, coercion, and deceit.
A political system based on reason would tend to recruit members of Congress from a pool of people with sound reasoning skills, unlike our current system that tends to recruit from a pool of people highly skilled at talking out of both sides of their mouths. If you can't lie through your teeth with a big smile, don't run for Congress. A reasonable political system would put substance ahead of appearance, the exact opposite of our current unreasonable system.
Unlike our current political system, where deception is its lifeblood, a political system based on reason would severely punish those caught using deception. For example, science, a system based on reason, would never tolerate scientists falsifying data, evading inquiry, or any other form of deceit. Of course, falsifying data, evading inquiry and many other forms of deceit are standard practice in Congress.
Comment: Unfortunately, science is no longer based on reason and scientists are regularly caught falsifying data to further an agenda - see The Corruption of Science in America
Understanding the mechanics of deception in Congress
Our government can't just give our tax dollars to special interests; it must deceive us into thinking that giving them our money is good for us. For example, our government couldn't say to us, "we're going to invade Iraq to take control of its oil." No, our government needed to deceive us with WMD, aluminum tubes, and vials of anthrax.
Our government's most powerful tool of deception is the lackey mainstream media (essentially the propaganda arm of our government). Mainstream media are supposed to keep us informed about our government's activities. But as profit-driven corporations that get billions from our "representatives" (e.g. for deceptive 30-second TV ads), they're much more motivated to promote and perpetuate government deception than to expose it. It's simply smart business.
Our "representatives" use various mischief mechanisms to deceive us. But all boil down to one thing: evasion. Those supporting unreasonable government policies cannot possibly defend these policies with clear, rational arguments. So they offer shallow, specious justifications (dutifully passed on to the American people by mainstream media) and then simply evade responding to the obvious flaws in their justifications.
A simple Internet based system called Wikiarguments could put an end to Congressional evasion and force Congressional accountability.
The philosophy behind Wikiarguments; why it would revolutionize government
Our current political system, with crucial help from mainstream media, allows and even promotes blatant deception and evasion by our government "representatives". They're never forced to justify their positions with clear, rational arguments (written down so they can be scrutinized).
Currently, sponsors and supporters of unreasonable legislation typically offer shallow, specious justifications and then simply evade inquiry. Mainstream media do little to challenge these specious justifications and when they do, our "representatives" simply spout more specious nonsense until the clock runs out.
A wikiarguments system would prevent this evasion because it would require our "representatives" to not only justify their positions initially, but, more importantly, to defend them from ongoing inquiry using clear, rational, written arguments. Unlike the ephemeral TV interviews, "debates", and public statements of our "representatives", their best arguments would always be right there on the Internet subject to scrutiny and inquiry by the American people.
The sheer idiocy of our current political system is easily illustrated. Unlike Congress, our Supreme Court gives us their best rational arguments--pro and con--to justify their votes (both sides posted on the Internet for our scrutiny and comparison). Imagine if Supreme Court Justices weren't required to justify and defend their conclusions with clear, written, rational arguments. Suppose they could just vote and evade inquiry. Would we not see the assault on truth and sheer idiocy of such a system?
Imagine if scientists weren't required to justify and defend their positions with clear, written, rational arguments. Suppose they could just present their conclusions and evade inquiry. Would we not see the assault on truth and sheer idiocy of such a system?
So why don't we see the assault on truth and sheer idiocy of a political system that allows our "representatives" to evade giving us their best rational arguments for their positions (both sides posted on the Internet for our scrutiny and comparison). Is the integrity of our Congressional conclusions somehow less important to our lives than the integrity of our Supreme Court conclusions or our scientists' conclusions?
Is it not sheer idiocy to hold our Supreme Court and scientists to a high standard of truth, completely abandon that standard of truth for our "representatives", and then expect anything other than the immense wake of human suffering--clearly caused by our corrupt government--here and throughout the world?
America is ripe for revolution.
Aspects of a Wikiarguments system
Wikiarguments is an Internet-based (wiki) system that would force congressional accountability and make government deception much more difficult. It would provide a secure mechanism for anonymous submissions to expose government deception, but, more importantly, it would also provide a simple system of forced accountability where our "representatives" could no longer evade giving us clear, rational justifications for their positions (instead of the evasive, specious claptrap they typically give us now).
We'd be able to visit an Internet site and view clear, rational arguments for all Congressional bills -pro and con side by side for easy comparison. We wouldn't need mainstream media pundits to interpret government policies for us; we'd be getting both sides right from the horse's mouth. Evasions and flawed reasoning by either side would quickly become apparent. A search capability would allow us to find the current best arguments pro and con for any bill in Congress.
When a bill is introduced, those "representatives" initiating the bill would be required to post a clear, rational (wiki) argument explaining the merits of the bill. Those opposing the bill would then be required to post their corresponding clear, rational (wiki) argument explaining why the bill is unreasonable and shouldn't pass.
What makes a Wikiarguments system such a powerful weapon against government evasion and deception is this: the individual arguments are dynamic. As you will see, dynamic arguments prevent lots of mischief and tend to punish liars while rewarding truth-tellers. The individual wikiarguments would be managed much like Wikipedia entries except there would be multiple entries per subject (pro and con arguments) instead of the one entry per subject in Wikipedia.
Thus all members of Congress would be able to edit--update and improve--the wikiarguments they favor. Both sides of an issue would be free to update their respective wikiargument as new facts emerge, to correct mistakes, or to highlight flaws in the opposing wikiargument. In this manner, wikiarguments for both sides--pro and con--would evolve as collaborative efforts, which would converge toward a best (consensus) argument for each side of any given issue (bill).
A Wikiarguments system would differ significantly from a forum-type venue--where people argue back and forth--because the emphasis is on an evolving, converging, end product: the current best argument(s) for each side of an issue. The emphasis would be on building a clear, concise, rational argument for a given position, which would then compete with its corresponding--opposing--argument openly on the Internet.
The American people would watch as wikiarguments for each side evolve and do battle on the Internet. Our "representatives" would not be able to fool us with deceptions because any evasions, flaws, speciousness, or other deceptions would be promptly emphasized in the corresponding opposing wikiarguments, which would be posted on the Internet for the entire world to see.
But unreasonable bills are often supported by both political parties because both are typically bribed by the same big money. How would a Wikiarguments system force our "representatives" to post honest arguments against such unreasonable bills? By providing two additional pro and con shadow wikiarguments for each issue that could be edited anonymously by anyone on earth, like Wikipedia entries.
The American people would have direct input to legislation through these shadow wikiarguments. A visitor to the site would view two pairs of pro and con wikiarguments per issue (bill), one pair maintained by members of Congress and a corresponding pair maintained by the public at large. If our "representatives" were in cahoots, and not providing a cogent wikiargument against an unreasonable bill, the corresponding (con) public wikiargument would expose the disingenuous (con) government argument.
Cogent wikiarguments would stand out starkly from specious wikiarguments. Why? Because it's relatively easy to construct clear, cogent arguments when truth is on your side. But when truth isn't on your side, the best you can do is clever specious arguments.
But even clever specious arguments couldn't possibly survive the vast inquiry an Internet-based Wikiarguments system would subject them to?the whole world would be watching and someone would point out any flaws or deceit. Dishonest politicians would no longer be able to hide from us and shrink from inquiry.
Thomas Paine said, "It is error only, and not truth that shrinks from inquiry." Only dishonest members of Congress would shrink from explaining their positions using clear, written, rational arguments.
Our government's unreasonable domestic policies cause countless millions of Americans to suffer greatly. Our government's unreasonable foreign policies cause countless millions around the world to suffer greatly. The most rogue government on earth must be reined in before it destroys us all.
We Americans can no longer stand by like sheep waiting for slaughter.
America is ripe for revolution.
Carmen Yarrusso, a software engineer for 35 years, designed and modified computer operating systems (including Internet software). He has a BS in physics and studied game theory and formal logic during his years with the math department at Brookhaven National Lab. He lives in New Hampshire and often writes about uncomfortable truths.