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Economic Democracy includes the right to be protected from contributing community funds to those who are able to compete in the market.


We all know that tax shelters, large corporate subsidies and tax loopholes are inimical to Economic Democracy because they represent transfers of wealth from the rest of us, you and me, into the hands of those with the most ability to compete in a free enterprise market society. They need to be phased out and eliminated.

For example, take the “Oil Depletion Allowance”. Does anyone in the world believe that any oil company would not drill for oil without it? And if they did need it, why is it that once they do find oil they do not pay us back (it is our money after all) with interest? They certainly would make us pay it back if we borrowed money from them (and make us put up security as well). And why after they used our money to find and drill for the oil, do they sell the oil back to us at the highest price offered? (Remember whoever offers the highest price gets the oil. They are not competing for our dollars we are competing for their oil).

The same should occur with agricultural subsidies to large agricultural entities. Why is it that these large entities like the oil companies and agribusiness cannot compete without subsidies from you and me and why don’t they pay us back?

These redistributions of wealth need to be eliminated before we cut governmental expenditures of any kind. If there is to be a pain to be suffered to get the budget under control, the pain should start there. And, if it is argued that these entities are too big and too powerful, then that is precisely what Economic Democracy is intended to combat.







Economic Democracy includes the right to be as free from the purchase of our democratic rights as we are from their denial by force.

Money is not speech nor is it a metaphor for speech. Money can buy speech and it can prohibit speech. If the right of free speech is so fundamental that government cannot abridge it, then it is so fundamental that government must assure that no one abridges the free speech of another by financial, political or physical power. A government that does not protect the general public from the abridgment of their fundamental rights by anyone or any entity foreign or domestic is a government that conspires to deprive those citizens of those fundamental rights and risks losing its legitimacy.

As with most fundamental freedoms, preventing those who wish to abridge the fundamental rights of others is a more important role of government than encouraging the exercise of those rights. Exercising our rights are our individual jobs, protecting us from those who would abridge our rights is the duty we collectively give to government. If a government is not the guarantor of Freedom then it is a tyranny.

The Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United v FEC decision. This is potentially the most serious blow to both political and economic democracy in the history of the United States. It is as dolorous a blow to political and economic democracy as the Dred Scott decision was to the cause of abolition. Like the Dred Scott decision that recognized the fact of slavery over morality and the fundamental right of all to freedom, the Supreme Court in Citizens United recognized the fact of the gains over the past forty years of corporate political power and wealth, over the fundamental political rights of the individual under the Constitution and the democratic economic rights of the people as a whole.

I believe that in the long run, no issue will adversely affect the continuing freedoms that American’s now enjoy than this decision. It codifies and enhances dominance of juridical institutions over the individual

We should consider a prohibition on any person or institution receiving a governmental contract over a certain amount from lobbying or providing campaign funds for any purpose for a period before, during and after the contract without full disclosure and transparent approval by a public entity that conflict of interest rules have not been nor will not be violated. In fact, a rule like this should apply to any governmental subsidy over a certain amount received by anyone.


Stress, Engineering, and Education.


The interesting thing to note about this chart is that almost all the non-stressful careers are in engineering and are relatively highly paid, while most of the highly stressful jobs are dangerous or low paying or both. So, one would think, if you are young and looking for a career you should head off to engineering school.

Alas, here in America over the last score or so of years, we have been closing our engineering schools or being forced to fill them with students from other countries. Yes, the continued health of our modern technological society depends on the despised immigrants. Apparently modern white American males shun the hard work required to earn an engineering degree. And yes again, engineering in America has been often seen as a male only profession. Perhaps, it is the time that American woman should be encouraged to flood the remaining engineering schools and begin taking over this sector of our economy. Obviously, the men find it too difficult. Maybe, that well-represented tee-shirt slogan should be amended to read: “A woman’s place is in the House, Senate and in engineering school.”

Loyal Citizens and Executive Power.



I cannot help being amused by the misunderstanding most people have about power—that presidents or anyone else with executive power merely sat in their offices and decided what should be done next, then their eager minions hurried out and turned these whims into fact. In truth, managing or ruling anything, let alone a large country, is a process of learning about and reacting to hundreds upon hundreds of small problems, problems, some of which would quickly become larger problems if left unsolved, and then persisting with them until they had been solved or at least reduced from crisis to mere irritation. And standing between a president and these solutions is not a horde of loyal citizens waiting only to be told what to do, but thousands of individuals, each with his own plans and wants, most of them quite willing to break the rules if they could get away with it, and yet each of them also furious at any idea their own rights might be somehow abrogated. And of these citizens, the wealthy are the worst, prickly and full of righteous demands. And alas, it is these wealthy, whose wealth allows their voices to clammer the loudest, who, more often than not, get heard first — generally to the dismay of everyone else and to the disadvantage of the nation.

(Thanks to Tad Williams (The Witchwood Crown) from whom much of the above is adapted)

God, one of the guys:


“As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from the nations that are round about you. You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property.”
Leviticus 25:44

Leviticus also seems to say that if guys get it on with guys, they should be put to death. Why would God consider it ok for gay guys to have slaves but not sleep with another guy? I wonder if God thought it was acceptable for guys to sleep with the slaves of either sex, but not with a non-slave of the same sex. I am pretty sure some of the slave-owning patriarchs did, didn’t everyone? Perhaps it was not necessary for slaves to “increase and multiply.”

By the way, did you notice that the sly old God did not prohibit women sleeping with women? Perhaps like most guys He liked to watch.


Within 150 Days Donald Trump Successfully Ends the World Order in Place for 80 Years.


It is true, as Donald Trump claims, that he has accomplished more in the first 150 days of his presidency than any other president during their entire term. At least in foreign policy that is so. And, no, it is not because he managed to become the laughing stock of the entire world. While that is certainly an accomplishment of some sorts and no other president can touch his level of success in that endeavor, I am thinking of something else.

In a few short months, he has managed to destroy the world order that has been in place since the beginning of WWII. It was a world order led by the US and supported by a community of nations more or less democratic and more or less prosperous, to resist those nations both large and small they saw as less democratic or wedded to an economic dogma inconsistent with their own.

It was a world order more or less agreed upon by the two major political parties in the United States. The Democrats tended to exercise American leadership more through International economic development and assistance to both friend and foe who were not bound to our perceived adversaries. The Republicans preferred strong military development and reduced economic aid. They were generally less concerned with commitments to democracy and economic improvement than in a commitment to oppose those adversaries and a willingness to engage in the vigorous development of joint defense arrangements.

In practice, it was often difficult to see the policy differences between the two parties. In fact, there often were not any differences that those we were allied with and supported could perceive in the actual programs that carried out those policies. It is also true that for the most part, those programs were far more beneficial to our own interests than to those of our allies.


It was a world order despised by both extremes of American political thought, the extreme right, and the extreme left. The extreme left often saw this as merely a cover for the exportation of regressive American economic and social policy, the support of fascist dictatorships and opposition to legitimate desire of the people of a country to change a political system they saw as repressive. The far right saw this policy as a creeping commitment to Internationalism and reduction of our national independence. They both were right in some ways.

Nevertheless, despite the cynicism and self-interest (as there is in any significant socio-political initiative), there was the glimmer of an ideal upon which the people of the world and their governments could rely. That ideal was that a great power, rather than subjugating the lesser states, would commit their wealth and power, at least in part (and often grudgingly), in alliance with like-minded nations to make things better and assume the burdens of leadership in their mutual defense from those they saw as a threat to their way of life. That underlying confidence had remarkable historical consequences. Political systems changed, most for the better, international cooperation blossomed, economies flourished, and the arts and sciences advanced. This order produced a golden age like none other in history with more people than ever enjoying its benefits.

In a scant 150 days, Donald Trump has managed to utterly destroy that world order and it shall not rise again in the foreseeable future. Why did he do it? I doubt even he knows for sure. Why will it not arise again after he is gone? Because no government and no people can ever again rely upon America to exercise trustworthy leadership. It is the old confidence issue. How can any level of confidence be regained by a government or its people when that trust has so rapidly been shattered in the past?

I do not know whether it may or may not be a good thing that, as a result of this, the smaller nations of the world combine into blocks to try to effectively deal with the two remaining active super-powers and far off United States should it ever again attempt to engage its historical allies in any manner other than as an adversary.

I do know, however, that although Donald Trump has failed to “make the US great again” in his first 150 days, in international relations he certainly has made us mostly irrelevant.




On May 7, 2017, Jerry Smith passed away. He had been my boss and a great friend. Jerry had been a California State Senator when I worked with him. He was the lead legislative author and carried the California Coastal Act of 1976 to passage. As his committee consultant, I was responsible for shepherding the bill drafting and negotiating with the various interest involved. Together, we also passed a major revision of CEQA, Victims of Crime rights, and several other significant pieces of legislation.

Following eight years in the Senate, he was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the Appellate Court. Upon his retirement from the court, Jerry became a consultant to countries seeking to reform their judicial systems.

Later, he became a well-known local sculptor whose work appears in many public places in Santa Clara Valley. In the photograph below, Jerry stands near his bronze sculpture of St. Cardinal Bellarmine at Santa Clara University. I think of everything, he loved being an artist best.

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