What Divides “Liberals” And “Conservatives” Is The Central Question Of System Purpose

The framework I’m hanging my hat on, so to speak, is “systems’ thinking.” A systems’ thinking problem solving framework is neither Conservative, nor Liberal. It is scientific. What divides individuals who consider themselves “Conservatives” from those who consider themselves “Liberals,” more than anything, is how they answer the central question of how system purpose should be defined.

The United States itself can be seen as a system, and the general question, both Liberals and Conservatives need to answer, is, How can this system, known as America, be made to work? But, made to work at what? The first question to guide any system analysis is: What is the aim and purpose of the system? I gave my answer to the question, about aim, over a year ago, when I wrote: “How Can The System Known As The United States Be Made To Work To Provide “Liberty and Justice For All”?

My assertion that system aim should be “liberty and justice for all,” I imagine, might label me as “Liberal.” Someone who considers him or herself “Conservative” might define the aim of the system in other terms — maybe, instead of fulfilling the vision of “liberty and justice for all,” for example, rather, fulfilling the vision, as they understand that vision to be, of the founding fathers for individual liberty — as expressed in property rights or shown in freedom from governmental interference, etc.

Liberals and Conservatives simply have different views of what the purpose of the system should be.

A discussion, for example, on abolishing the progressive income tax system, conducted by Liberals, would center on whether or how or to what degree, such a change would add or subtract from the overall liberty and justice of individuals in the system. A discussion on whether tax rates on the rich should be increased would be based on the same criteria.

A Conservative might object and heap scorn on the notion that the founding fathers would have approved of “the power of the majority to steal from the minority.” But, the question as to whether the founding fathers would have approved of a progressive income tax is a useless distraction. It’s useless to argue about things that can’t be changed. And the 16th amendment is not going anywhere. So-called Conservative views often seem an expression of a wishful thought that the last 200 years of American history somehow never happened, and that the aim of the system should be the same as that of the founding fathers.

This is 2010, not 1810, and 18 yr. olds, and the unpropertied and women and blacks can vote, and, I believe, the proper way to frame the question that should determine our political discussion is: Can our system be made to work for the common person, be made to work for the common good? Can we make the system work to produce a government for the people?

The idea of a government by the people, for the people, is opposed to the reality of a government by special interests, for special interests. A government chosen via an authentic and robust democracy would be quite different from the government we have, one chosen via antidemocratic and corrupt processes.

There needs to be consensus about the purpose of the system, if there is ever to be any coherent dialogue as to how the system can be made to work. If the purpose of the system is not “liberty and justice for all,” then what should it be?

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In Kettering, February Tax Collection For Kettering Schools Exceeds Budget Prediction — By $1 Million

According to the memorandum (shown below) prepared by Kettering Schools’ Treasurer, Steve Clark, because property tax revenues and personal property taxes, so far this year, have been higher than predicted, the amount of tax collected in February for Kettering Schools is $1 million more than Mr. Clark originally predicted.

Mr. Clark, in his memo, warns that it may be April before Kettering Schools will know for certain the total amount of tax collected. Below is his memo and a truncated version of his financial report. (Here is a PDF of the full report.)

Kettering City School District


To:       Kettering City Board of Education Members, Superintendent, Directors, Principals, Supervisors, Administrators, Mike Bock
From:  Steve Clark, Treasurer/CFO

Date:    March 4, 2010
Re:        February, 2010 Financial Information (fiscal year 2010)

Enclosed is the fiscal year 2010 monthly spending plan report that compares projected and actual fiscal year-to-date general fund revenues, expenditures and unencumbered balances, through February, 2010, based on the five-year forecast (Revision 1007).

Year-To-Date (Y-T-D) real estate taxes were 3.0% ($1.2 million,) higher than anticipated through February.  However, don’t start spending the money; we haven’t received our February settlement yet. Last year the settlement was in April and the final general fund amount was $5.4 million. We still need to receive $4.1 million to meet the estimate for the year.  Since we only receive 90% of tax revenue collected from an advance, I estimate the County Treasurer has at least $2.4 million to distribute to us.

School foundation (state funding) was $365,000 (5%) higher than forecast.  It’s my understanding that when the Department of Education began paying school districts under the new funding formula in October, they actually paid a little more than was due at that time.  As the year progresses, that surplus should decline.  Last month we were 6% over the estimate so that seems to be the case.  The tangible personal property tax reimbursement remained over projections through February ($279,000 or 4%).

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Michael Moore Says To Reform Our Rigged Political System We Must “Start A Movement”

At the Young Turks is posted the transcript of a recent interview with Michael Moore.

Moore is predicting a financial crash. He says, compared to what happened in 2008, “We’re in for a much, much worse time. That’s how I honestly feel.”

And Moore reminds anyone who doubts his prediction power that he has made other predictions that proved to be true. He says, “I’m only the guy who said that there weren’t going to be any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that we were being lied to.  And I’m the guy who 20 years ago made his first film saying that General Motors was a piece of crap company that was going to slide down the hill and bring us all down with it.”

Moore says our economic system is fundamentally flawed — “because I don’t think that in the 21st century the big decisions that need to be made should be based on profit.  They should be based on what we need as a society and what the world needs.”

And Moore says the system is rigged — “It’s rigged against the working person, and I just think that until we decide that we have to get away from that and into a more democratic economy–in other words, economic decisions that are made by our elected representatives as opposed to Wall Street, the banks, the Fed, etc., etc.”

The only hope Moore sees is to “Remove money from politics.”

He says, “We would have to start a movement where people will be running for Congress and for Senate and signing a pledge that states that they will not accept in their first run for election more than $25 or $50 from a person.  And after that, when they get in there, their number one priority is to remove funding of our elections from individuals who have the most money, and have it be federally funded like it is in most democracies.”

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