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Problems with a Federal Constitutional Republic

The United States is a federal constitutional republic. We are having problems with that. A number of Supreme Court decision have been issued this year. A vast majority of US citizens believe some of those decisions were wrongly decided. A vast majority of our population does not agree with what the constitution says. That is no accident. The men who wrote the constitution were aware that would sometimes happen. They intentionally designed and structured our government to insure that would happen. They also provided a mechanism to provide a solution. They wrote in provisions for amending the constitution. Unfortunately, they did not want the amendment process to be easy. They made it very difficult. So difficult that it has only been amended twenty seven times in over two hundred years. They accomplished their goal of making the constitution hard to amend and thereby limiting the will of a majority in many situations. That is the situation we are in now on certain issues. And that is the difference in living in a democracy and living in a federal constitutional republic. In a democracy any law can be changed by a majority vote. In our country, that is not true. Here, when the majority view changes, certain laws cannot be changed until the constitution is amended, and, as I said, the men who wrote the constitution made that very difficult to do. Many countries have a parliamentary form of government which allows for changing any law by a majority vote of parliament. Our founders did not want that. They thought some laws and rights were so fundamental and basic that they wrote them into the constitution which they made almost impossible to change. That puts us where we are today. Whether the founders were right or not is a question everyone has to decide for themselves, in their own minds. They have to decide in their own conscience based on what they believe is right. The founders did not believe in majority rule, they believed in following a written constitution. Our elected officials and appointed judges take an oath to follow that written constitution. Some people now believe it would be better if we had a government where the constitution and any other law could be changed by a majority vote of the legislature. That would make change to comply with the majority opinion of the voters and citizens very easy. Wherther that would be better is something to think about.

Time to Start Reducing Consumption

For possibly a million or more years humans have used fire from fossil fuels. It was not until the last two hundred years that fossil fuels have becoms a problem. We have to reduce our use of fossil fuels. We could go back to the usage prior to the iindustrial revolution or pick some other year or time frame. Humans were not unhappy during those years and they survived. The life expectancy was shorter than it is now but it as long enough to maintain the population. When fossil fuels are no longer available for use humans will return to the way of life that existed prior to the industrial revolution, unless some new technology is invented. We do not now have the technology to replace fossil fuels and maintain our present way if life. Reducing consumption will make fossil fuels last longer and give us more time to discover some replacement for them. That replacement does not now exist. And may never be found. We need to plan for all possible outcomes and events. All of our green and renewable energy sources and technology depend on fossil fuels. The machinery and other devises to make electricity depend at some point on fossil fuels for their manufacture, implementation and maintenance. Electricity can only be controlled and used by methods dependent on fossil fuels for their existence. Turbines, generators, batteries, power lines, vehicles, roads, furnaces, air conditioners, heat pumps, trains, planes, ships, fertilizers, pesticides and plastics are made and maintained by fossil fuels. Life without fossil fuels means humans become farmers, gatherers, fishermen or herders tending livestock. Much like humans lived thousands of years ago. The question is how do we avoid that fate, or at least postpone it as long as possible. There are ways to accomplish that. If we returned to life as it was a thousand years ago fossil fuels would last a long time.

We could impose a carbon tax, or we could ban certain products. The number of vehicles in use has to be reduced and they should be required to weigh less. Car company ads should be banned. We have to realize and accept that the economy will have to be reduced. Production and consumption will have be to reduced in order to decrease carbon emissions. We will have to use our yards, patios and rooftops to grow food. With less fuel there will be distribution difficulties but that can be offset by using food grown locally.

Limits of Peaceful Protest

Our constitution gives us the right to assembly and petition. Somehow that has evolved into a right to a peaceful protest. And peaceful protests now are hard to distinguish from riots and violent behavior. Where are the boundaries between these events, and how did this evolution take place. At the beginning of our country the meaning was clear. People had the right to gather in taverns, halls, or other buildings and freely discuss political or other matters as they wished. And they could write and sign a petition and send it to the government stating whatever concerns they had. But their meetings or assembles had to be held on private property, or public property set aside for such meetings with government permission. They did not have the right to gather in public streets or walkways and block traffic and impede commerce. People had a right to use the streets and walkways without interference to carry on their business. That is still the law today. It was a carryover from the laws, rights and restrictions from England, written into our constitution. The Boston Massacre had occurred as a result of a violation of the restriction against unlawful assembly. There have been protests and street gatherings by crowds throughout our history, but there has always been a distinction between a lawful assembly and illegal gatherings and protest in the streets. An illegal protest blocks traffic and is not peaceful. It is not peaceful because it interferes with the legal rights of citizens to use the streets and go about their business undisturbed. Gatherings that disturb the peace and tranquility are not peaceful. Gatherings or conduct that disrupts and disturbs the rights of other people are not peaceful. A protest that blocks a street and prevents a ambulance from taking a person to a hospital, causing the patient to die, has done injury, caused harm, and is not a peaceful protest. The protest has caused harm and death to an innocent person. The same is true of a protest that shuts down a city. A great deal of harm is caused. The people involved in such a protest should be arrested jailed. That is a discussion of protests from a legal point of view, and an attempt to define the boundaries and limits in determination of whether a protest is peaceful or violent. There are legal rights, and moral rights. Legal and moral do not always coincide. It may be that there are times when a violent protest is the right thing to do. That is a moral decision that everyone has to make. Situations are different. History is full of successful violent protests that brought down governments and the leaders of the protests are national hero’s. History is also full of examples of violent protests that failed and their leaders are remembered as criminals or traitors. History is written by the winners. My argument is that we should recognize the difference. We should not call a protest that causes harm and damage a peaceful protest. Because it is not. People who participate in protests that cause damage are liable for damage done, and subject to criminal charges. A protest that is peaceful is one which has a permit and stays within the areas set out on the permit and follows the timeline set forth. Once the protest deviates and causes disruption, disturbs the peace, impedes commerce, or interferes with the rights of the public, it is no longer a peaceful protest. It should at that point be disbursed by the police. There are laws, rules and guidelines for the police to follow in breaking up a protest and disbursing the people who were involved, and those procedures should be strictly followed. We all should be aware of the limits and boundaries and know our rights. Decisions to become more than a peaceful protest, turning into a violent protest should be made after deliberation and with knowledge that criminal and civil penalties will follow.

Search for Equality

A debate us raging in our county. People are demanding equality. Another word for that is equity. Or social justice. They are fond of saying that all people are created equal. That saying is in fashion. A few years ago it would have been said to be politically correct to talk about equality. But the term politically correct is not heard much any more. That term has gone out of fashion. It is almost politically incorrect to use the term politically correct now. A lot of words or phrases become popular, then fall out of favor and are no longer used. Some are forbidden to be used in polite society. Is the term polite society used anymore? I don’t believe it is. We just say certain words or terms can’t be used in public. Admitting that everyone is born with unique DNA cannot be said in public any more. Even worse is saying the DNA influences, or worse, determines both physical and behavioral traits and characteristics. That leads to the thought that people from different parts of the world have clusters of DNA that make them act different. Different personalities and different levels of intelligence on average. The fact is that is true. Intelligence and other behaviors are greatly determined by DNA, and are heritable. Einstein’s brain was different from yours and mine because his DNA was different. That is a simple fact. So was Mozart’s. And Ted Bundy’s. All of the behavior due to different DNA producing different brains is not good, and all of it is not bad. But to continue learning about how brains work and how DNA influences behavior we have to admit that it does and continue research into how it does. There are differences in DNA and people are not created equal. We are all born with different DNA blueprints that make us good, or bad at different things. And makes us interested in different things. Because of these differences some people are more talented and can achieve more. These people should be rewarded for things they do and contribute. And those that produce or contribute less should be rewarded less. That is justice. And social justice. It is not equality. Equally and justice are not the same and do not lead to the same results. It is not in fashion to say that. To believe or say that can result in being fired from your job or being cancelled by society. That should not be the case. The truth is, you can have equality, or you can have justice, but you can’t have both at the same time. Justice does not render equality of outcome. Statements that all men are created equal are misleading. Such statement leads to unrealistic expectations, jealously, resentment, and disorder. We need to continue with research on behavior, including how genetics influences how the brain develops and how brain development results in different types of behavior. This knowledge is necessary in order for us to understand behavior. That knowledge will enable us to treat people with behavioral problems. It will also allow us to understand how brains develop and grow. We can use that information in parenting, in education and in other situations where adults are in contact with and in charge of molding and helping children grow and develop. Denying that genetics and DNA have any influence over how children learn, develop and behave is both destructive and harmful. Knowing more about brain development will also help us understand and treat mental disorders, also called behavioral, personality or brain disorders and other types and kinds of mental illness. But denying that genetics and DNA play a roll in differences in behavior is to deny science and delay progress in medicine, child development, education and other forms of human understanding. Anyone who has raised children, or coached or taught them knows they are not equal. Anyone who has watched babies in nurseries in hospitals knows that even day old babies are not equal. It is time to stop pretending that they are.

The Future of Cars and Fossil Fuels

Our cities and lifestyles are now built around the automobile. This has to change. We have to reduce the amount of carbon emissions from cars and other vehicles by about seventy five oer cent or more. We could covert all the cars and vehicles in existence to electric and that would only cut carbon emissions by about thirty five per cent. That is not enough to avoid severe consequences of climate change. There are a number of ways we can achieve the reduction we need. We will not be able to reach our goal by voluntary acts only, although voluntary action will help. Laws will have to be passed to make the changes that are needed. We should pass laws to reduce the size and weight of vehicles. We should increase use of public transportation instead of spending money for new roads or widening existing roads. Building roads or increasing traffic capacity only increase urban sprawl and increase carbon emissions. We need to encourage through zoning and other laws living in high rise apartments in high debsity areas near public transportation. Living, working and shopping should be in close proximity to reduce commuting and transportation costs. Our ideas of how we should live will have to change. Sprawling suburbs with single detached houses will have to be discouraged in favor of higher density living. That will reduce the necessity of everyone having cars and multiple car families. Vehicles sill be smaller and more will be electric. More people will be traveling by high speed rail and more freight will be transported by train. Our way of life and living will continue to change as much or more than it has in the past. Human history is the history of change snd changes, and that will continue to be true. Some changes are slow and occur over centuries, and some changes are rapid. The industrial revolution and use of fossil fuels brought a rapid change. We are about to see another rapid change. It is inevitable. Even if we did not have to greatly reduce our use of fossil fuels because of climate change, we would use them up soon and be forced into a change. Climate change is just forcing us to make the change a few decades earlier than we would otherwise. We will be living in a world with few fossil fuel cars, or private cars at all, and need to plan and prepare for it.

Things We Can Do to Help Stop Climate Change

Our most important issues now are climate change and the protection and preservation of the earth’s environment. Both are crucial for our survival. The earth will continue to exist for a long time but whether humans continue to exist depends on how we act and what actions we take. Many of the changes that need to be made will require government action and changes in laws. We should for instance change zoning laws so that people can live and shop near where they work. We need to use policies to end our dependence on vehicles. But there are many things we can do as individuals that will help. The following is a list of some of those things.

Drive a compact/small car and drive as few miles as possible.

Do not eat beef or pork.

Only buy clothes of natural fibers such as cotton or wool.

Use heating and air conditioning sparingly.

Use as little plastic as possible.

Do not fly on airplanes.

Live near where you work to cut down commuting.

Use public transportation.

Grow some of your own food.

Plant trees.

Reduce the size of your lawn by landscaping with perennial plants and shrubs.

Recycle.

Those are just a few of the things we can do as individuals. Those things and other things we can do will help. We do not know where the tipping point is and how close we may be to it. If we get close enough, a few things might be the difference. We don’t know. That is why we should all do as much as we can.

Infrastructure Bill and Climate Change

The Senate has just passed an infrastructure bill and sent it to the House of Representatives for their approval. There will be more debate ovee the bill in the House. The bill approves spending of vast amounts of money for repairing and building infrastructure, requiring enormous amounts of cement, steel and other materials, and does other things. The implementation of those things. authorized by the bill will release enormous amounts of carbon in the atmosphere and.pollution and into our rivers and streams. The timing could hardly be worse. The United Nations just released a report with statements of causes of climate change. The report blames climate change on just this type of activity. The report also makes predictions of what will happen as a result of human carbon emissions. It also predicts what the results or our carbon emissions will be, and what will happen if significant reductions are not made in carbon emissions. The prediction run from very bad to catastrophic, listed in five separate possible results. This is not the time for the actions and activity outlined in the bill. We need quick reductions in emissions. The bill will do the opposite and contribute to increased emissions and global warming. There may be some necessary repairs that need to be done and would reduce emissions, but the overall effect of the bill will unnecessary increase, not decrease emissions and will cause more climate change, just the opposite the changes set out as necessary in the United Nation’s report. We need yo get serious about emissions and take government action that will reduce emissions. We need to fight to slow down climate change. The infrastructure bill will not do just the opposite.

How to Avoid Extinction

The more I read about climate change and pollution of our environment the more pessimistic I become. It is not just global warming we have to be concerned about but also the toxins and other hazardous and dangerous materials in our environment. We have drought, forest fires, dead zones in our oceans, plastic and other waste and warming. All of these are from the overuse of fossil fuels. We have to reduce the use of fossil fuels to an amount we can live with. We have depended on fossil fuels since we learned to use fire a million or so years ago. Using fossil fuels has allowed us to advance snd prosper. But now we are overusing then and will be killing our future generations if we do not reduce our use to a sustainable level.

We have to drastically reduce the number of vehicles and miles driven. Commuting to work in private cars has to stop. Planes should be used very rarely, if at all. We should give up our air.conditioning and stop overheating our houses and builfings in the winter. The use of plastic, fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides has to be greatly reduced.

If we don’t do all these thing, and more now voluntarily, we will do them later because when the earth overheats and we are unable to produce the food qe need, and survive in the heat. We will not have a choice. Pollution or heat will make the earth, or most of it uninhabitable for humans.

Survival at our present way of life is not sustainable and will stop for the reasons above. If we make sufficient changes now humans will survive. If we don’t, humans are likely to become extinct within a few generations. The choice is ours.

Memorial Day weekend

Friday before Memorial Day weekend 2,000,000 people boarded commercial flights in the US. With an average weight per person of 200 pounds plus fifty pounds of luggage that would be 500,000,000 pounds of weight flying around our skies. Over the weekend 7,000,000 people flew and 38,000,000 people took to the road traveling in cars. A tremendous amount of fossil fuel was used over the weekend. Fossil fuels seem to be used and consumed as always. The more fossil fuel energy we use the more the temperature will rise, the more extreme the weather will become, and more people will be affected in the not to distance future.

Polls show that a majority are concerned about climate change and believe human activity is responsible. That is good news but appropriate lifestyle changes are coming more slowly then they should. Reduction of our total energy consumption and use of fossil fuels should come faster. The lives of a lot of people depend on it.

There are of course more lifestyle changes that need to be made. I mentioned travel because the the amount that occurred Memorial Day weekend.

Time to Get Serious About Our Future

I see lots of articles about climate change, Climate emergency and our running out of fossil fuels. They offer easy tips on what we can do to help, but none of them are serious about what we really need to do. So I have made a list of things that we really need to do if we are really serious. And we should be really serious.

  1. Keep your air conditioning thermostat at 78 degrees in summer and your heat at 67 degrees in winter.
  2. Landscape with trees and shrubby so little or no lawn mowing is needed..
  3. Avoid all trips in cars unless absolutely necessary and combine all errands into single trips as much as possible, including limiting trips to the grocery store to once every two weeks.
  4. Do not use plastic or synthetic materials, including clothes, if you have a choice.
  5. Work from home and let your employees work from home and use virtual meetings instead of business travel.
  6. Eat meat no more than two days a week.
  7. Do not make trips by air travel or take cruise ship for vacations or pleasure.
  8. Do not attend or support automobile racing events.
  9. Use public transportation, car pool to work, and move closer to where you work to cut down commuting.
  10. Stop using ice in your glass to cool beverages.

Please feel free to add to the list. Most of the lists I have seen make it easy by saying you don’t have to do all the things listed, just doing two or three will help and be enough. I am not going to say that. If we are going to survive as a civilization, or even as a species, all of us need to do all the above, and more. This is just a partial list. Unless we make discoveries and come up with substitutes for fossil fuels, we will eventually be forced to make all those changes and more. It will be better to make the changes now and give ourselves more time to find a substitute for fossil fuels before they run out.