Archive for the ‘New Strategies for Cultural Self-Managment’ Category

America’s End-Game

November 14, 2012

America’s End-Game

My wonderful Father, William James Mawhinney, often laughed at people who predicted the end of the world, America’s downfall, or various cataclysms coming. I think he was just too practical minded to get caught up in such matters. He light-heartedly warned me that such predictions were generally quite wrong. He may now be chuckling and shaking his head at me as I write this little piece.

For the first time in 49 years of married life together, my beloved wife Sally did not vote. She had undergone open heart surgery and just did not have the strength to go to the polls. We came up with various ideas about how to get her to the polls, but in the end her debilitated condition trumped them all. Of course, knew the truth..her one vote would not matter…and it did not matter in Indiana.  It was more a tradition and her cultural history that was defeated. Sally is recovering beautifully and, God Willing, she will live to vote many more times.

As  I limped to the polls, another old man limped out of that door into the cold early morning. He cheerfully addressed me saying: “The frost is on the pumpkin!”. I smiled and chirped back: “Yes it is!”. I love that old early American exclamation echoing to me through this old man and from my childhood.

That day was a cold Autumn morning and I would soon learn what I had feared for a very long time,  it was also the Autumn of our traditional American Culture. The old man and I were only evanescent vestiges of a time long gone by.

That night as we watched the polls, Bill O’Reilly stunned me with his calm clear  assessment of the early election returns strongly favoring Obama. His assessment was my own: America had reached the tipping point. There were more takers than makers. The highly motivated takers would out-vote the makers and the traditional tired and infirmed elderly.

O’Reilly said that too many people “voted for stuff”. He said that the party that promised to give them the most “stuff” was the party that would win.

O’Reilly had much more to say a few days later on his show, The Factor. I desperately want you see and hear what he said. It mirrors the results of my scholarly research over the past 30 years.

I am not as optimistic as O’Reilly about our ability to correct the numerous avenues of our American decline. I am more with Dennis Miller’s position, presented in this video. On the other-hand, Rome suffered many declines and recoveries before its final decline. Perhaps it could be so with America.

Some may find solace in the fact that  former “Greatest Nations On Earth” are still with us (Greece, Rome, Great Britain, etc.) Similarly, I sadly expect that America could also live-on as shadow of its former self.

I would delight in being wrong about all of this, in fact I certainly could be….and Dad would chuckle, shake his head and say: “I told you so!”

Why don’t you look at the facts and see what you think?

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.


The Sliding Scale of Liberty (New Strategies 3)

October 21, 2012

The Sliding Scale of Liberty

I define liberty as the Constitutional right of individuals to make their own choices about their behaviors and life-styles, without interference from the forces of government.

The concept of liberty is one that resides on a “sliding scale”.  If there are no restrictions or mandates from a governmental entity, be it small or large, population behavioral chaos will prevail. On the other hand, if governmental restrictions and mandates are increased to very high levels, or encroach into areas that most people find too restrictive, inconvenient, frustrating or anger-evoking, rioting becomes more likely and population behavioral chaos may again prevail.

Individual’s choices about their behaviors and life-styles can be restricted by family, friends, work settings and churches, or other social organizations they may belong to. However, if such associations become so restrictive as to become largely aversive to them, they can leave them to find others more to their liking.

In America, the escape from excessive governmental restrictions is more easily accomplished at the community, county, and state levels. The great problem occurs when restrictions on individual liberty are imposed by the federal government and therefore becomes the rule for the entire Socioculture. Escape from tyranny then becomes a much more difficult challenge

Unfortunately, the matter of liberty and its ideal location on the liberty sliding scale of liberty is far more complicated than the number of restrictions or mandates imposed upon a population by their chosen associations, or by their government. Debates on issues of liberty rapidly devolve into arguments about exactly which behaviors in a population are to be prohibited or mandated. It is likely that such matters have frustrated intelligent and moral analysis from the very beginnings of human social behavior.

Further complicating matters is a saying that I remember my dear mother repeating from time to time: “Laws are the chains that set men free”. It is true that many restrictions and mandates upon our behavior actually guarantee greater liberty for the vast majority of citizens. Laws and sanctions against murder, rape, robbery, assault, and other felonies and misdemeanors, etc., are examples. Also, governments normally mandate that citizens pay taxes to subsidize a host of actions and outcomes that benefit “the common good”. The common good is often served by infrastructural construction and maintenance as well as care for the unemployed, homeless or disabled, etc.  

There are further restrictions and mandates imposed by our governments and also various professional organizations such as the licensure of important skill sets that benefit the general population (M.D., Psychologists, Lawyers, teachers, etc.). Other examples have to do with driver licensing, food preparation and cleanliness standards, water quality, automobile safety, and much more. After-all, how much liberty do we enjoy when we suffer because of criminal predation or poor performance in these and other important services and actions that impact our lives.

In the final analysis, some restrictions and mandates upon individual choices about behaviors and life-styles generally restrict individual liberty and some generally increase individual liberty.

The difficulty we face is to learn the good restrictions and mandates from the bad ones, and then find humane ways to implement them within a Constitutional Republic such as America.


V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.


New Strategies for Cultural Self-Managment (2)

October 17, 2012

New Strategies for Cultural Self-Managment (2)

A dear friend of mine challenged me to provide some specific recommendations to America regarding how to correct our precipitous decline that began sometime around the early 1960’s.

Actually, with the exception of when I published some recommendations in a newspaper article in the late 1980’s, I have long avoided suggesting remedies to our many problems. It has been challenge enough for me to define the classes of our self-defeating collective behaviors. Having done this to a significant degree, my next project was to identify and explain some of the biological, psychological and social principles and mechanisms by which these maladaptive behavior problems were both stimulated and reinforced within our population.

I remain convinced that one cannot identify effective solutions to problems unless they first define the problem in measurable terms and, if possible, identify the probable causes of the problem. Know the probable causes of a particular problem may not always be essential to it’s solution, but it is a distict advantage to the problem solver.

Therefore, the reason that I had stopped focusing upon solutions to America’s behavioral problems is because I thought it premature to present them for consideration. In fact, it may still be premature to do so. However, I have now done the my best to define the problems and identify many of the numerous principles and mechanisms that underlie their proliferation in our Socioculture.

I therefore agree with my friend that it is time to make some practical suggestions as to how to stem the tide of an increasing great many maladaptive and destructive behaviors within our American population.

Unfortunately, any suggested solution to our social/behavioral problems raises a whole new set of problems to be confronted. Presuming such solutions could be deduced, how could they be implemented in a Democratic Republic such as ours? If this were Communist China, or Theocratic Iran, etc., solutions could simply be imposed. But to do this would destroy the fundamental features of America that have propelled its ascendency to greatness in the world.

America was founded upon a fierce quest for liberty and independence from governmental despotism. By liberty and independence, I mean the constitutional right of individual citizens to “make their own choices” about their behaviors and life-styles, without interference from the forces of government.

I differentiate liberty from freedom. The concept of liberty is straight-forward in its meaning, as I use it here. On the other hand, freedom is a more complex idea that can be debated from various philosophical perspectives (I.e., determinism, Indeterminism (free will), metaphysics/ religious issues, etc.). I will leave the “freedom” issue out of my discussion by simply acknowledging that the actions of all humans are heavily influenced by their genetic history, their history of learning , their current biological state, and the state of their current environment. In the animal kingdom, the higher the animal resides on the phylogenetic scale, the more influence its unique history of learning has upon the its actions.  This statement is most true of humans.

Never-the-less,  as marvelously successful as psychological scientists have been in accounting for the causes of our human behavior patterns, there is much yet to be learned.  There still remains a great deal of unpredictability that is unexplained when trying to account for all of the actions of any particular individual. We may take on faith that the unexplained will someday be accounted for by various principles of biology, genetics and learning. For the present, however, this hope remains a matter of philosophy and faith.

The matter of  unpredictable human behavior represents the remaining temple of human “free-will” and I will not enter it here, at this time. I have learned, while practical problem solving, that to do so creates more heat than it does light.  It is not essential that this matter be resolved in order to proceed with sensible plans to generally improve the collective behavior patterns of our population and  the sustainability of our socioculture.

The big question is how can we increase the occurrence of essential good behavior patterns in America and decrease the occurrence of destructive, bad behavior patterns in America? Another equally big question is how can we do this without destroying the economic , political, religious and social liberties of our citizens—-which is the essence of America’s being?

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D., 10/17/12

New Strategies for Cultural Self-Managment

October 16, 2012

New Strategies for Cultural Self-Managment

The following is the beginning of a new sequence of blogs that I will now start and continue for some weeks to come. Because these blogs require original writing, they may not appear daily. However, I will attempt to “keep the ball rolling” on a very regular basis . In order to keep the components of this theme organized I will label them as New Strategies For Cultural Self-Managment 1, 2, 3, etc.

Here is the first installment:

Economics is a complex science/technology. Some have called it a “Dirty Little Science” because it is imperfect and its predictions are sometimes inaccurate.

Perhaps economics is somewhat like the science/technology of meteorology. Weather predictions are far from perfectly accurate, yet they are accurate enough to be very useful to all of us and also our government.

Similarly, statistical measures called “economic indicators” (a technological product of economics) are used daily so individuals and governments can make intelligent economic decisions. The informed economic behaviors of individuals and their governments most often  redound as a benefit to the entire socioculture.

The following presents some definitions and examples of economic indicators.

As you study these, ask yourself if there are similar social indicaors that we might use to make better decisions about America’s social health and development. This will be the topic of my next blog.

I have taken the following quotes from the following source

“An economic indicator (or business indicator) is a statistic about the economy. Economic indicators allow analysis of economic performance and predictions of future performance. One application of economic indicators is the study of business cycles. Economic indicators include various indices, earnings reports, and economic summaries. Examples: unemployment rate, quits rate, housing starts, Consumer Price Index (a measure for inflation), Consumer Leverage Ratio, industrial production, bankruptcies, Gross Domestic Product, broadband internet penetration, retail sales, stock market prices, money supply changes.”

“Leading indicators are indicators that usually change before the economy as a whole changes.[1] They are therefore useful as short-term predictors of the economy. Stock market returns are a leading indicator: the stock market usually begins to decline before the economy as a whole declines and usually begins to improve before the general economy begins to recover from a slump. Other leading indicators include the index of consumer expectations, building permits, and the money supply.[citation needed] The Conference Board publishes a composite Leading Economic Index consisting of ten indicators designed to predict activity in the U. S. economy six to nine months in future.”

End of quotations.

It seems imparative that any socioculture, that would like to live long and well, must develop equivalant social indicators and from those data, develop and publish “Leading Social Indicaors”. These leading Social Indicators could then be used to predict the future course of our social health and viability, which bears directly upon any nation’s ability to survive and thrive in a competative world. If such predictions can be made with useful accuracy, they can then be used to evaluate the effects of various self-managment efforts made by the socioculture.

Stay tuned for more on this topic and related cultural self-managment practices!

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D. 10/16/12

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