You know, we hear lots of ideas and advice about how things should be done, how finances, laws, ethics and whatever else you want to toss in there really ought to be done – instead of the way it is now. Right behind these ideas and opinions, or right before them, when they are uttered, you hear, “It’s just common sense…”
Now aside from my cynical view that there ain’t no such thang as common sense, here’re some ideas about what Engineers call the K.I.S.S. method. KISS stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid. Now just, because my overall experiences, indicate there’s no such thing as common sense, that doesn’t mean we can’t bring to the table some sensical notions of what ought to be the way things are done .
With that in mind, here are some suggestions of things I think we could do that might make things better, without being too complicated for everyone to follow:
1) Laws shouldn’t require you to be a lawyer to understand the law. In other words, can’t we have them in plain English and without all these codicils, parts A and B and subsections 4A part C? How much verbiage is necessary to make a law so complex that we’re bound to break it?
2) When a Bill or Law is being proposed into Congress, let’s say: You can’t keep adding stuff to it so that someone else will vote on it. In plain language, we need Congress to vote on ONE THING at a time in their bills. No addendums, earmarks, riders, subsections (see number 1 above) or additions. The bill is a single subject concept, not a catchall basket for whatever can be slipped in without the public noticing.
3) Let’s put our mouths where our money is when it comes to the Constitution. If someone claims they are for straight up conservative Constitutional values, then let’s call them on it. The Constitution is in plain language for the most part, even though the framers of it were all erudite and learned men of standing.
They established a reasonable set of relatively vague standards that were broadly written so that they covered a lot of ground in each area. Don’t take my word for it, read the damn thing once in a while. You don’t think it’s worth your time to read up and get jiggy with the document upon which your country is founded? Read it.
4) Hey you Christians out there (and you Mormons, Jews and Muslims, too.) Let me break it down for you. Jesus was a sandal wearing, longhaired, bearded radical who preached against the establishment, the status quo and while he also admonished us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, he had simple things to say about taxation. Render unto Ceasar that which belongs to Ceasar, in answer to whether or not the Jews should pay the Empire’s tax. And don’t forget you capitalist mongers of greed, he tossed out the moneychangers from the temple and he wasn’t some doe-eyed wimp – he was a carpenter without power tools. Dude had muscles, okay?
5) When you’re driving. Get off the damn phone, quit reading maps, stop putting on your makeup, quit texting and Googling shit while you’re doing it. For that matter, don’t be like those idiots in the movies, looking at their passenger while having a conversation. It’s just stupid behavior that endangers you and everyone around you.
My dad, he didn’t have a lot of education, but he had this part right: “Son, you have to remember that a car at 70 mph is a guided missile on wheels and you’re the guidance system.” Keep your damn eyes on the road – if you think you’re representative of the other drivers out there, then if you text, you should expect some other idiot out there who thinks they’re a better driver than the other idiots out there to run right into you with his or her guided missile while texting. Consider that an anti-missile warning system.
6) Respect is earned and it must be given to be received. In other words, take that extra half second of your Oh-so-precious time and say please, thank you, you’re welcome, and look behind you as you open or close a door to be sure you’re not going to shut it in someone else’s face. Treat others with the respect you expect and guess what, as likely as not, you’ll find it returned in good measure.
7) Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. You’ll find, as expected, they don’t fit so good. It’s not the shoe size, it’s the situation.
You think friends are worth having? Then when they are going through tough times, don’t be Thomas Paine’s “summer soldier” who only fights and is loyal when the weather is clement. You keep your distance with the friends who are having a tough go of it, then when it’s your turn, you may find that those friends may be more than happy to give as good as they got.
In such a situation, you may find that nothing is as horrible to feel as getting nothing from those friends you had abandoned when they needed your help. Nicolo Machiavelli's "The Prince" has some wise information in this regard.
8) Money is not the reason to live. Money is an end to a means, not the end in and of itself. It’s great to have savings and it’s great to have enough to spend on all the things that make your life more pleasurable. I think we all would like to have a bit more of the finer things in life. The difference is that many of us would rather not compromise our ethics and principles for a nicer couch or a new car.
If money were to stop existing at midnight tonight, things would still get done, people would still eat, work, play and love. When it comes right down to it, money is not a thing – it’s an idea. Paper money, based on a gold standard, a silver standard or if we’re just equating them with beads, shells, arrowheads or shiny pieces of metal found in a placer bed is just an instrument to allow us to trade one thing for another based on some agreed upon rate of exhange.
So let’s stop thinking of how important money is and start thinking about how important the things we do are. The flint knapper with four thousand arrowheads in his cave is not rich. He’s wasting his potential. The flint knapper only benefits when his items of value are being used by others and being traded by him for things he doesn’t have. In this world today, in this global economy, the same thing holds true. Sitting on piles of money, whether digital, paper, bullion, real estate or Political Campaign Button collections is wasted potential. It’s not what you got, it’s what you do with it.
9) A nation that cannot produce what it needs is always going to be a “beggar” nation. Let’s put it in practical terms. Manufacturing and production are not supposed to be farmed out to other, cheaper countries. You must have a manufacturing base to produce your own items. In times of trouble, be they economic, natural disaster or war, having your own ability to produce and manufacture what you need allows you to stand up and take care of yourself.
Imagine our current situation with the wars we fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Without entering into political reasoning, ethical posturing or any other aspect of it, let’s just consider the act of going to war. If we fought a war with equipment made in other countries, how would we continue to wage war against our manufacturers?
In warfare, one of the first military objectives is to destroy the enemy’s ability to continue to wage war. This means targeting manufacturing and production, as well as the infrastructure to support it. If we had to fight a war with electronics parts in our equipment from other countries, like China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, for example, what kind of battle could we wage if we end up destroying the manufactories that supply us with those parts? It’s insane.
This means that, for reasons best left unpoliticized, we need to have a strong manufacturing and production base in our own country; using our own workers, our own people and our own designs. It’s the prudent thing to do. Ignore that whole Manifest Destiny as applied to Empire and pay attention to the other more important aspect of it. Part of the concept of Manifest Destiny is that you, your country, your people are self sufficient and not dependant upon other nations for your wellbeing.
Oddly, having a strong manufacturing base and productive capacity in your own country tends to keep your economy rolling along. People who work and are employed in well paying jobs spend that money for a better quality of life. Don’t believe me? Ask any Korean, Chinese, Indian, Pakistani or Malaysian if doubling their meager incomes had an overall positive effect on their quality of life? Of course, those doublings and triplings of income came at the expense of other workers who earned, respectively, much more for a slightly higher overall standard of living, now gone.
So these things, all pretty simple things, really, are things I think we, as a people or a nation should be doing. You may also consider some of them in no particular order, because they came to me in the order presented and were not a product of prioritizing. Depending on your situation, any one of these KISS items may be a higher priority for you than others.
Life is complicated enough without some lawyer trying to make it more complicated by writing convoluted laws, or through underhanded additions to bills and legislation. Life is dangerous enough without people not paying attention to the task of driving their vehicles responsibly, knowing that death is only a fraction of a second away. Life is hard enough without our Captains of Industry sending out our Industrial Strength to other countries, costing us jobs here and lost economic prosperity for the majority while a few profit from making nothing themselves, other than money -- and that only for themselves.
There is enough trouble in the world and in our lives and with religions calling the faithful to prayer, admonishing them to be more intolerant, more judgmental and more exclusive than their Good Books have written in them. We need to become a more compassionate, more inclusive and more understanding people on the whole.
To keep it simple: family values means loving our children, our parents, our spouses and to have a firm, but gentle grasp on our relationships. None of us are perfect, so forgiveness and encouragement to change are part of the basic necessities of living as a society.
Maybe, the simplest thing we could do is to look into these matters ourselves. Maybe just stop hearing the talking heads on TV, at the lectern, on the stage, or in the books sold as best sellers from our political pundits, politicians and learned men of industry and taking them as gospel. Maybe it would do us all a world of good take a few moments of our time to examine the issues from a point of wondering if what we have been told is actually true? I think so. I hope you do, too.
If we did that, would things actually be more complex or simpler? I think the simple things sometimes take a bit more time to examine and look into. That said, this extra time taken may prevent us from being so greatly surprised when the lies come home to roost, or when the piper has to be paid, or what it means when everyone keeps talking about ‘kicking the can’ to the next generation.
Simple things are not always easy things to do. Just like it’s simple to know what’s right and what’s wrong. Doing what’s right, though, that can be pretty hard, no matter how simple it is to understand.
I don’t come to you speaking The Truth. No one has a lock on that single all encompassing thing: The Truth. I hope that, in speaking honestly and truthfully with you that you will be inclined to take things more simply. Thanks for reading this. It is my hope that you will find some value in it.