Thursday, September 20, 2018

How The Feds Save California

Considering that the state of California represents about one-sixth of the entire population of the United States, it's somewhat perplexing that the Golden State allowed itself to deteriorate into something more akin to stryrofoam.  The plain truth is that was once considered the Promised Land is now pretty much a showcase for how far the mighty can fall.

I'll spare you all the rhetoric about people pooping all over the streets of San Francisco. Or the numerous nests of needle exchanges sanctioned by the government.  I won't get into anything about immigration, the wall or the ridiculously corrupt primary election system designed to eventually bankrupt America's most glamorous welfare state.

It suffices to say that the political forces that condemned California to its current pathetic situation are mighty indeed, having entrenched themselves for no reason other than to further enrich themselves at public expense.  But that's an old saw. You've heard all that before. And if you happen to have a few Republican friends in California, you've probably heard their laments about how there's nothing they can do to fix the problem.

They're right.  But just because they feel powerless to fix California's ills doesn't mean the problem is not fixable.  Cast your orbs on this:

Chances are you don't recognize this. It's a map of the United States' Circuit Court system.  Circuit courts were created by Congress to adapt to the union's rapid geographical expansion.  Acknowledging that many Americans were unable to get to court, Congress decided to bring the courts to them, establishing routes, or circuits, which judges would travel to dispense justice.

You may have noticed that ninth circuit on the left coast.  You may be familiar with the phrase, "Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals."  That's because the ninth circuit is the one notorious for rendering decisions which often overturn -- or attempt to overturn -- the more conservative laws passed by legislatures or Executive Orders issued by the White House.  The ninth circuit is notoriously liberal, a handy ally in the left-leaning agenda of states like California, Hawaii, Washington and Oregon.  

But if you know your history, you also know that there weren't always a limited number of circuit courts.  At Congress's behest, their number was increased as the nation's population and geography expanded.  And therein lies the Federal solution to a statutory problem:

What if a conservative United States Congress authorized the creation of a new circuit court by splitting the ninth circuit into two?  Sound nutty?  I know.  So did the election of Donald Trump, but if you'd been reading this blog in 2015, you would have seen that coming, too.  

By taking California, Hawaii, Arizona and New Mexico into a new circuit -- staffed with new, centrist judges -- and restricting the ninth circuit to Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Montana, it's just possible that the new court could hear and decide challenges that would free California to revert back to the social and economic glory it once enjoyed.

Hey, I'm just a branding guy.  But I get paid big dough to see solutions where others never dream of looking.  And considering the dearth of other possibilities, this may be one way to end California's nightmare.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Ink, X and DNA

I write and talk a lot about social values and trends, mainly because I realize that branding is much more about human nature than it is about logos and fancy packaging.  I care less about what people think than why they think it.  It puts everything into a totally different, far more effective perspective.  

If you've read any of my material, you're probably familiar with my mourning over the loss of the human soul and the rugged individualism that inspires it.  Thanks to various social and political influences (you know who you are), an entire generation of Millennials is now old enough to have been cast adrift in search of their own identities, resulting in three specific manifestations that are not only dangerous to society, but to themselves, as well.

“Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man,” said Aristotle.  He was no dope.  Aristotle knew that humans are most receptive to influence in their first seven years.  However, that's mostly due to authoritarian intimidation:  they have little choice in the opinions and values thrust upon them.  What happens in the next twenty years is a lot more insidious:

Aristotle was speaking about proactive education, completely ignoring its dark evil twin, lack of guidance.  Remember latchkey kids? Kids from broken homes? Single parent kids?  You know, the ones left alone with nothing but video games and other aimless kids with too much time on their hands?  We call those types "at risk," but not because of what might influence them, but rather a total lack of any positive influences.  I suspect people tend to dismiss the damages done by banishing kids (up until their late twenties) into the void because there's no direct, perceivable cause to which they can relate.

But this is where it gets interesting:

I submit to you that while a kid with no purpose may be adrift, his innate spirit of individualism is still very much alive.  In each of us is a will to define ourselves and differentiate ourselves from others.  Not necessarily in a self-aggrandizing way, but in more of a truth-seeking manner.  Without the guidance to know what he is -- and more importantly, what he is not -- a young person remains rudderless and vulnerable to the first powerful influences that dangerously jeopardize his well-being.  This isn't peer pressure.  This is a lot more serious.

Let me give you a few examples:

INK:  In their quest for self-identity, over 30% of Americans under the age of thirty sport some kind of tattoo.  Over 27% of tattooed Americans over the age of 40 regret their decision to get one.  While I have no case to make against what images a person indelibly etches into his skin, I do have a quarrel with why anyone would want to do it.  Lulled by a sense of fashion and driven by a lack of self-identity, millions of kids don't realize that ink is the second best alternative to a national government-dominated national registry.  Once a security camera grabs an image of your bicep with that mean-looking cobra with the words, "Carpe Diem" arched over it, there can be no doubt as to who that person is.  The authorities have their proof, and taxpayers get a break because the government didn't have to pay a nickel for it.  And yes, there actually is a national database of tattoos for just such purposes.

DNA:  Older Millennials seem to prefer to express their identity through the technology that ruled their childhood.  "I didn't know I was Scottish," smiles the simpleton on the television commercial for a DNA testing service.  "All this time, I thought I was German!"  And for $99 and a swab of your saliva, he says you can find out who and what you are, too.  How any of the resulting information benefits anyone is certainly beyond me.  Okay, you thought you were Greek, but now you know you're 34% Latvian -- how, exactly will that change your life?  Does that truly enhance your sense of self?  Is there any real value in that information? 

Turns out there really is value in that information, just not to you.  Because whenever you submit a sample of your blood or DNA, you also submit a signed release form in which you abdicate any and all rights to the sample you submitted.  The bad news is that if the company finds a cure for cancer using your DNA, you have no right to share in any financial rewards they might reap.  The worse news is that your DNA can (and will) find its way into any one of the national DNA databases which law enforcement can (and does) use to forensically track down criminal suspects -- and it takes less than an 80% match for law enforcement to arrest and detain you.  It takes thousands of dollars to extricate yourself out of a pointless legal mess, none of which is reimbursed by the government.

X ON YOUR PASSPORT:   I find it amusing yet tragic every time I read a story about transgender people and their clumsy battles for self-identity.  Perhaps the most damaged of all, the transgender community suffers a 40%+ suicide rate and an astronomical rate of psychological issues.  I don't for a minute believe these are bad people. I do, however, strongly believe that these are kids who were psychologically abandoned their entire lives, desperate to express themselves to others because nobody has ever valued them  for who and what they are.  That pain cuts pretty deep.

That having been said, I find the whole "battle for gender identification" just as futile as getting tattooed, for the simple reason that choosing to mark "X" instead of "F" or "M" on a passport immediately marks that person as mentally unstable, owing to the fact that, as I pointed out above, the transgender community suffers a 40%+ suicide rate and an astronomical rate of psychological issues.  When the Feds come looking for "the most likely suspect," you can bet they pass right by Mr. and Mrs. Normal and go right to the folks who self-identify with a group documented to be mentally unstable.  Not a good plan.

There's a reason why the military drafts kids at age seventeen.  There's a reason why their heads are shaved, made to dress in uniforms and marched in formation.  The whole point is to drive out the individual so that the group can be commanded as a unit with identical moving parts.  But I submit to you that no matter how many drills they run, it is impossible to drive out each man's human desire for his own individuality.  It's still there, waiting for its chance to flourish.

Whether it ever gets a chance to flourish is another matter.  In the meantime, someone has to tell these kids that ink and hormone therapy is no match for genuine purpose.  Someone has to tell them there's more to life than living in a social media vacuum, doomed to wonder why everyone else isn't as miserable as they are.