Post # 641 HOME BASE (poesie)

In muted hours of reflective solitude
The two-pronged streams, fact, and fantasy
As twin tributaries to a woodland pond,
Meet up to flow in free mélange.

The outer self dutifully performs
The licensed day, just as man approves,
In dress, act, and verbal exchange, which
May vary from his inner bent.

To go along, to get along,
He dances to the common tune.
But, when at home base, alone
He dreams of golden immortality.

Leonard N. Shapiro 6/21

-p.

Post # 640 A TAXING DEDUCTION [editorial]

There are some occasions where the solution to a presenting problem, or, alternatively, the wisest choice in an empirical dilemma, would appear to be discernably apparent, despite one’s lack of the normally required expertise in the relevant subject. We would candidly disclaim any expertise or experience regarding the arcane subject of taxes and governmental revenue-raising, but by simple deduction [pardon the pun], do envision a useful solution to the Nation’s existing conundrum in which, inequitably, billionaires pay less taxes than do bakers or shoemakers. Yet, indisputably, however, it would seem just, that everyone pays his fair share of government support.

This problem, as we see it, as it happens, is a readily apparent one. By the clear terms and legislative intent of our Tax Code, the amount of taxes payable varies with the citizen’s net [taxable] income. The higher the salary or the net profit, the higher the rate and the resultant tax.  The U.S. Tax Code thus expresses the legislative intention to achieve equity and fairness by virtue of a graduated rate, viz., you earn more, you pay more, to support the operations of government. How then can it be empirically and inequitably possible, that, reportedly, America’s millionaires and billionaires pay less income tax than bus drivers and letter carriers? The answer is deceptively simple and uncomplicated; but first, in aid of its understanding, we would first offer a contextually necessary comment on the nuanced financial life of the very richest citizens in America.

The very rich, by definition, own immense asset portfolios and, factually, do not live on earned income. They borrow money for their needs and nuanced lifestyles, by way of loans taken against their impressive assets, and permissibly take the interest paid on such loans as tax deductions. The maintained assets, not being sold, [for profit or loss] are, accordingly, not relevant to the present tax code; which exclusively deals with earned income or gains and losses on capital asset sale or transfer.

In the furtherance of equity and moral fairness, we would suggest that the identified problem can properly and effectively be resolved by a categoric addition to the present sole criteria or basis [viz., income or loss] upon which taxes are calculated and payable. We would suggest that the presently defined taxable incident be enlarged and adjusted, to include taxes payable, calculated and based upon the determination of value of stagnant i.e., longtime held assets,[ or their[ tactical] replacements] held for a specified period of years, by the super-wealthy. We are confident that such a change can easily be construed, by amendment to the relevant provisions of the Tax Code.

In the interim, there continues to be manifest inequity and injustice in the persistence of Congress in the continued imposition of a substantial tax burden on the more modest earnings of the middle and working classes for the support of governmental operations, while simultaneously, permitting the mega-wealthy category of Americans [who obtained their unbounded success, as citizens of the Nation] to eternally be exempt from their moral and patriotic obligation to pay its equitable tax share.  

-p.

Post # 639 A PEEK INTO THE NATIONAL CUCKOO NEST

Political analysts and celebrated media gurus have professionally surveyed the unprecedented actions and pronouncements of the current Republican Party and have concluded that the party is not a traditional oppositional party, in contention with the policies of the ruling Democrats. Their “incisive” and analytic insight leads them to the conclusion that the worship of Trump’s aberrational pronouncements and actions, is in fact, effectively anti-democratic. We do not disagree but would stress that the problem may be more existentially profound, fundamental, and dangerous.

That the actions of the Republican Party are “antidemocratic,” is irrefutably demonstrated, among other illustrative examples, by their failure to peaceably recognize the traditional peaceful turnover of the Presidency, that they tactically support the autocratic “Big Lie,”  that [without proof, and despite several official audits to the contrary] the election was “fraudulently stolen” as neurotically protested by Trump, that, in States where they control the legislature, Republicans promote bills, limiting, or denying the right to vote [ socially tailored to especially affect American voters of color], that they falsely slant the vote, by their congressional district gerrymandering, that they resist all legislation purposed to protect the universality of the citizen voting franchise, by their draconian approach to the  established, right of immigration and asylum, that they adhere to the historically disproven theory that the Second Amendment was intended to provide citizens with a means of action against intrusions by the the federal government, by their repressive, religiously based, limitations on women’s natural right to own her own body, that positive and compassionate, legislation, granting relief and protection to our needy citizens is un-American [viz., “socialism”], that America [falsely] was created as  “Christian Nation,”  [despite the stated laborious efforts of the Founders to avoid any reference to  “God,” in the language of the Constitution], and many more.

It is rationally elementary, that the matters cited above, are not merely “partisan,” but indeed, pose an existential threat to the very existence of democracy. Yet, taking the contemporary political and social scene in mind, we perceive that the daily demonstrated, irrational behavior of many individuals on the contemporary American scene is so “off the charts” and bizarre, as to make frighteningly applicable, a more serious, and evident, presumptive diagnosis of mental pathology. Initially, we will define some relevant terms, furnish examples, and then present our nuanced theory as to origin, or etiology.

Insanity, as referred to in this writing, may permissibly be described as mental delusions of such nature, that the relevant person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, and, additionally, may reflect such delusion in compulsive, irrational behavior. The individual, or group’s exhibition of its delusional mental beliefs in actions, in expression of such delusional thinking, is, inarguably, clear defections from reason, often in complete violation of societal norms.

Just as we chose to list various acts as ultimately threatening the institution of democracy, we would set forth several, empirically voiced, irrational delusions to in support of our theme, that, an additional, and further presumption of insanity [ fantasy as fact] is likely, if not empirically assured.

These delusional acts and fantasies include: the firm belief that Donald Trump still remains the legitimate President, his assertion and their unhesitatingly loyal support of his neurotic claim of fraud in the past election,[ despite known certifications by several independent audits, as proper and accurate, the  public recommended by Trump of his medical prescription consisting of drinking caustic bathroom cleansers to eliminate Covid, the paranoid fear that America is being invaded by “hordes” of “foreign criminals and rapists” crashing through the Mexican border, the  overall fear of the foreigner, especially of color, who will “mongrelize” our [fictional] white America, the antipathy to vaccination on the ground that it contains items usable for future government surveillance, that Jews have been engaged in an evil conspiracy, funded by George Soros, to dominate the world, that liberals are child abusers and operate a profitable child sex trade, that homosexuals and transgender people have an evil cabal to recruit young people to homosexuality, that the attack on the World Trade Center was part of an American sub- rosa conspiracy, that the Second Amendment to the Constitution was intended, by the Founders, to arm the citizen against an over-zealous federal government, that there is a sub rosa coastal liberal conspiracy, that climate warming is liberal propaganda, that Chinese Americans are responsible for Covid, since Wuhan, where  it was initially detected is in China, that the World and its fauna and flora, were created in a mere six days, in time for the Sunday Sabbath, and, similar “Mad Hatter,” delusional memes.

It requires merely a cursory reflection on any one of the above instances of irrationality, to predictably result in the reader’s accord with our themed, observation, that the cited behaviors extend significantly, and inarguably, beyond limits of  partisanship and indeed, beyond the pale of “normal”, or “healthy.” Individuals who persist in the maintenance that such irrational and delusional cognition and behavior is inspired by elemental political zeal, need to think again. This is the contemporary, National Cuckoo nest whose perch is shared, by deluded politicians and irrational private citizens. It is indeed, frighteningly conceivable, that  American society may have, by degrees, witnessed the further descent of our cohort of previously described, ignorant, “underbelly” citizens to the advanced realm of the pathological.  How did such a retrograde descent happen, and what, conceivably, can be done about it? First its origin.

We recently viewed on Netflix, a reprise of the movie, “The Manchurian Candidate.” In the fictional movie, certain designated individuals had been unknowingly implanted, subcutaneously, with devices that would irresistibly cause the implanted person, upon receipt of an externally pre-programmed cue, to mandatorily, perform a preconceived act.  We certainly do not maintain that any of the described, aberrant individuals, literally had such implants. However, it is our proposition that the individuals qualifying for permanent residence in the select American cuckoo nest, always had the innate and undisclosed potential to think and act in a pathological fashion; which, it appears, eternally required an adequate stimulus for its activation. It is our theory that the catalyst of Trump’s serially delusional and neurotic public behavior, served as such an encouraging signal that it dynamically released an underground reserve of repressed irrationality; stated in an unaesthetic, populist analogy, the hidden “cockroaches came out of the woodwork” to activate their repressed incoherence. We would imagine that only such a singularly irreverent, model of confident, egotistical lunacy, like Trump, could have empirically triggered the robotic compliance evinced by the violent and pathological response, manifested by the Capitol Building insurrection, January 6, 2021.

Based upon the optimistic view that the observed phenomenon can be ameliorated or at least, kept to a minimum, avoiding it’s metabolizing into a fatal impediment to the existence and operation of our democratic republic, we have a few conjectural, [predictably, non-exclusive] but possibly alleviating suggestions:

  1. The accepted resignation that our Nation, eternally, contains portions of the population that are inadequately educated, poorly informed and vulnerable to the reductive influence of tactically manipulative and self-interested demagogues.
  2. The objective, professional, non-partisan, psychological and educational vetting of all candidates for significant public office; additionally, for the police, and prospective gun owners.
  3. The inclusion in core university programs,  sociological and psychological study of the Nation’s under-educated, poorly informed, discontented, citizenry, inclusive of methods and techniques for useful consciousness-raising, aimed at enrichment of their lifestyle.
  4. Increasing the length of mandatory primary education and offering advanced study at no tuition.
  5. Granting needed benefits such as tuition assistance, college credits for university students, or tax benefits to post or non-college attendant citizens, for their service in the instruction and education, of willing citizens, of America’s “underbelly” population.
  6. Governmental free educational programs on television, and in after-school, church or town hall venues, on subjects such as civics, political science and American history.
  7. Programmed, free classes, and library service, delivered by bus to remote areas.
  8. Available, easily accessible clinical health and psychological services.

The reader may have additional, perhaps better, ameliorative recommendations. The salient point, however, is that our Nation has eternally, been in the clear and present danger of an ignorant, amorphous mob, capable, upon the receipt of an appropriate stimulus [as in the fiction, “The Manchurian Candidate”], or by way of a demagogic autocrat, to unify and arouse it, in the name of a false, convincing, and delusional mantra, to threaten our unique and remarkable American Democracy.

-p.   

Post # 638 *THE PROGENY MATRICULATES

By literary sleight of hand, we now fast forward from our previously portrayed, childhood days of the 1940s, in East New York, Brooklyn: of the apartment house windows emitting redolent, identifiable intelligence as to the next dinner, of the high-pitched screech and blue electric sparks of the public trolleys, the Yiddish-Slavic accented shouts of mothers from kitchen windows to neighbors and children, the grey rope clotheslines with tan, wooden clothespins, spanning the back alleys of residential buildings, the gothic basement coal chutes, Ebbitt’s Field and the Brooklyn Dodgers, the few remaining horse-drawn carts, to the era of the late ’50s-’60s, evincing our late teens, the era of the Army-McCarthy Hearings, and timorously, the time for College Application.

Throughout young childhood and adolescence, we, in common with most contemporary firstborn, Jewish children, most especially, male children, were, on a regular basis, made aware that we not only had a personal responsibility to succeed at college, [and hopefully, beyond college, in some profession preferably, medical] but a sacred moral obligation to our suffering foreign-born parents to complete the mission underlying their immigrational sacrifice. The sanctity and the importance of such compelling mission to academically succeed and attain professional status was, of cardinal importance.

Unfortunately, for many submissively compliant and able students, such as we, the potential joys of learning and the exciting acquisition of previously unrealized enlightenment, were sadly overridden by the imposed, and compliantly integrated [neurotic] impetus to do well. During homework and study hours, our parents observed radio [and, later when we could afford it, T.V.] silence. Conversations were between our parents, during such periods, were abbreviated and virtually subliminal in volume. The unnatural and enforced silence was virtually palpably noticeable and did little to alleviate our anxiety nor materially improve our concentration. Nevertheless, we excelled at our high school studies, earning an excellent grade average which made College a practical reality.

We will eternally remain grateful to the institution of The City University of New York, regarding which, provided the applicant met the strictures of a determined high school grade average, [or who passed a required entrance examination] could enter one of its tuitionless schools. Our grade average more than satisfied the required standard and entitled us to four, financially existential, tuition-free years, at the excellent Brooklyn College; from which we graduated with a B.A., Magna Cum Laude and as a selected member of Phi Beta Kappa. The thematic balance of this essay is concerned with the personally nuanced, albeit, ultimately successful, college experience.

Such experience is not empirically comparable to the stereotypical contemporary students who emerged from different economic and cultural experiences, or the college students of today. Our own children and especially, our grandchildren are fortunately included among the latter categories. They have undergone the healthy and maturing experience of comfortably leaving home for college, providing for their own needs, and learning to develop healthy personal independence. Such more fortunate students interactively benefited from the growth experience of meeting others of different faiths, cultural ethnos, and folkways as well as diverse economic backgrounds and levels of sophistication. They were enabled to freely interactively socialize with others of the opposite sex and generally, evolve friendships with fellow students, some of which would prove to be enduring. Perhaps the salient feature is that they were self-motivated, as opposed to our acquisitional parent-derived, excessive, and neurotic drive for academic and professional excellence.

We have referred to the context of our early portrayals of our first-generation, emigrant upbringing, most relevant of which was the stress placed upon the child to succeed, not only for his benefit but as a moral and existential parental  Commandment. We can see no benefit from a revisit to the fearful, unsophisticated,  pogrom damaged personas of the described immigrants, and for the referential context of this writing, we merely request the reader to recall the past, poignant essays on the subject.

Since we, and others similarly situated and described, gained admission to a local, non-tuition college, we became routine and tedious commuters between home and College, both literally and emotionally. Eerily disorienting was the Kafka-like reality that, at the conclusion of each enlightening instructional day, we thereafter, regressed to the familiar, dark ambiance and redolence of our previously unsophisticated, immigrant style of life. These continuous and contrasting experiences were, at times, productive of an uncomforting sense of disorientation and productive of [then] unexplained stress. Such exotic experiences, continuing throughout college and then four years of [merit-based, paid scholarship]  law school had the unhealthy and unnatural effect of unnaturally, and stressfully, deferring confident and mature self-dependence, until successfully, and happily acquired, later in life.  

* [This is the final essay of the “Growing Up in 1940’s Brooklyn” series]

-p.

Post # 637 LANGUID FAITH OR GENERATIVE REASON

We have consistently and with felt responsibility, promoted the recognition of well-deserved gratitude to Evolution, for its generous gift to homo sapiens of an advanced brain, with the admirable potential for learning and attainment of wisdom. As professed in earlier writings, we are loyal devotees of the epistemology espoused by the 19th Century philosopher, John Locke. Locke famously declared that man was born with a clean slate [“tabula rasa”], and that all knowledge is acquired by experience. We see his theory (“empirical school”) as more sustainable than those [rationalist school] who hold that man is born with certain innate knowledge. It is our fundamental credo, that belief systems, skills and perception are all learned and not inherited, or inspired, by some pre-birth agency. Based upon our best observation of history and contemporary life, factual reality is universally discoverable, tactual, physical, and discernable to the human eye; the latter, if necessary, with the aid of a telescope or microscope.

We do not denigrate the utility nor the propriety of traditional religious faith. The latter, an historical and sociological facet of every society and ethnos, can offer supportive assistance in times of crises, notably, familial mortality. In addition, to support in times of need, religious belief affords a desirable sense of personal identity and ethnic belonging. We might persuasively cite the traditionally existential role of the Black Church, in historically providing hope and needed spiritual sustenance to the African- American citizen, throughout so many generations of horrific race prejudice.

In stark contrast to its positive role, religion, generally and indisputably, has received an inauspicious report card in mankind’s history and, as well, in contemporary times. Religious and ethnocentric missionary zeal has comprehended inquisitions,  pogroms, warfare, prejudice,  Jim Crow, and injustice. Historically, uncountable numbers of scholars and philosophers were tortured and put to death on the grounds of “heresy”, in ignorant retribution for their espousal of enlightened ideas or findings. One revelatory instance of the numerous determinations of fatal heresy was the Middle Ages punishment for the belief that the Earth travels around the Sun [heliocentric theory] rather than the obverse, the latter as authoritatively declared in the Holy Bible.  It seems obvious, and empirically understandable, that traditional religion, grounded merely and exclusively in faith, is undeniably useless or worse, misleading, in the search for the comprehension of factual reality.

To avoid being misconstrued, we have admittedly observed that for individuals who possess the need for an abiding and supportive faith, one’s culturally acquired religious belief is a positive and personally enriching phenomenon;  but with two mandatory provisos: (1) that the religious adherent does not seek to impose his own reverenced faith upon others and, (2), he does not look to his spiritual proclivities as a reliable source of empirical knowledge. Subject to such two mandatory admonitions, religious faith can properly be perceived as an available and positive supplement to mankind’s temporal life.

By bright contrast, the use of faith as overriding, or as an alternative to, empirical fact, is necessarily fallacious and potentially harmful. It was the empirical practice of scientific research, that led to the recent development of vaccines to prevent Covid, as well as for diseases such as Polio and Diphtheria, that landed man on the moon and created digital science. Conversely, a sincere, faith-based use of devotional prayer as an alternative to penicillin will predictably, be of no discernable benefit in the case of a strep throat.  Religiously based consolation is positive, in that it is empathic and ameliorative, but cannot render any credible impact on the understanding or effect of human morbidity or mortality.

American citizens have recently been witness to a shocking, unprecedented, and dangerous insurrectional mob, assaulting the Capitol Building, wreaking havoc, and causing fatalities, severe personal injuries and damage to the Capitol building itself and its artifacts. Many violent insurgents wore red Trump MAGA caps, brought lethal weapons, banners and posters in protest of the determination of elective defeat of their leader and instigator, Donald Trump. Their loudly expressed assertion of purpose was to overthrow the results of the election. The riot was based upon their devotional faith in the unfounded, neurotic, and delusional assertion, of Donald Trump, that the election votes were tactically and fraudulently tabulated, and the election victory was “stolen” from him; such outcome to be made Constitutionally effective that day, January 6, 2021, by act of the U.S. Electoral College. In objective fact, three previously conducted, independent audits, had, previously, determined the undoubtable accuracy and the Bona Fidus of the election, in general, and, as well, its tabulation.

In previous writings, we expressed frustration due to our inability, after several ruminative attempts, to arrive at some credibly acceptable motivation for the 6/ 6 insurgency. In a very recent post, admittedly written in a frustrated mindset, we exasperatedly expressed in an imaginative context, the sci-fi theory that Trump and his sycophants occupied and functioned in an alternative physical dimension, one which was blind to factual accuracy and to Trump’s delusional assertion, as well as his demonstrated incapacity and outrageously immoral behavior. After this morning’s two enlightening and inspirational cups of strong coffee, we were catalytically enabled to arrive at a considerably more incisive and rational explanation, the fundamental basis underlying this mini-essay.

Our caffeine-inspired, but confident, conclusion is that the responsive and uniformly loyal action of Trump’s underbelly sycophants, was founded upon their devotional, cultish/religious article of faith, in the Orange Demagogue. We have categorically stated, that while we are sympathetic and respectful as to the observed emotional and socio- cultural utility of “Faith,” we emphatically decry it as an overriding explanation of empirical fact. The faith-based, reactive outrage acted upon by the insurrectionists was not founded upon supportive factual or objective knowledge. It was, based upon an unwavering faith in the entirely unsupported, unresearched and egotistical false declaration of a stolen election by their faux “deity,” Donald Trump,[ historically termed, “The Big Lie.”] Their faithful acceptance of the accuracy of Trump’s false and egotistic response to his neurotically unacceptable loss, presumably derived some credible support from the numerous past instances of such worshippers’ willing acceptance of Trump’s arbitrary declarations, such as the salubrious ingestion of bathroom cleansers to cure Covid-19, his rant against the [liberal] intellectual coastal elite, and his charges of felonious criminality of Hilary Clinton.

We have expressed our opinion that man’s engagement in his inherited cultural folkways, and religion, randomly acquired by the accident of his birth, can be comforting, and socially meaningful with the stated provisos that they are not forcibly imposed on others and do not serve as a substitute for truth. The Sun is warming and life-giving, but there is no sun god, lightning is natural, dramatic static electricity, not a symbol of the wrath of a deity, the World and its complement of flora and fauna were not completed in six business days, conveniently, before the Sunday Sabbath. On the other hand, the existence of communal holiday celebrations, comforting personal sentiment expressed at funerals  and societally shared celebratory events, promote fellowship and acceptability,

By contrast, the facile acceptance of an arbitrary and irrational thought system, eternally based upon thoughtless and unquestionable faith in an infallible agency, mortal or otherwise, as the source of factual knowledge is entirely without redeeming merit. In the context of this writing,  cultish or religious homage to the sanctity and skewed personal image of an individual, such as the amoral, ignorant, and anti-societal, Donald Trump, evinces predictable social or psychological pathology. Perhaps the participants’ respective etiologies arise from, personal insecurity, lack of acceptable self-image, knowing incapacity or ignorance, need for group approval, deprived childhood, brutal upbringing, generalized feelings of depression or unhappiness, reductionist thought, mental disability, lack of independence, fear of mortality, cowardice, impotence, weakness, need for compensation for lack of skills or intelligence, jealousy, despair, or paranoid, or schizoid thought process. Who can speculate?

Thus, in our deliberative estimation, despite their loudly trumpeted, public articulation of a specific and unified cause, each participating protester, predictably, had his own distinct and separate, personally nuanced motivation. Our telling, and confident perception, was confirmed in that the needy and idolizing rioters appeared to be every bit as earnestly driven, as their worshipped, delusional Deity.

As indicated in the preceding essay, we are hopeful that all participants, organizers, and promoters of this vile, indecent, and existential threat to democracy, will receive adequate and deserved punitive retribution which will, additionally, perform the service of an enduring future deterrent.

-p.