Posts tagged Politics

Peaceful disagreement

:: Politics

By: John Clements

Peaceful disagreement is the foundation of our American government.

It is not surprising that we disagree with each other. Each of us has individual opinions, circumstances, and understanding. Each of us sees a different part of the problems that surround us. Each of us has a different insight into the world, and sees different things that need to change.

And, for better or worse, pretty much all of us are justifiably angry about some aspect of government and society.

Our great virtue, as a nation, is that we have the ability to set that rancor aside; to suspend our anger, and to use the democratic process to decide upon a path forward. I don’t use the word “agreement”, because we may never truly agree. Fortunately, our nation and our government do not depend on our ability to agree with each other. They depend only on our ability to participate peacefully in a democratic process.

It has worked well since 1776. I have faith (and I do mean faith) that it will continue to work, and that America—the greatest nation on Earth—will continue to thrive and prosper, creating peace and prosperity and allowing each of us the pursuit of happiness.

the spirit of liberty

:: Politics

By: John Clements

I was forwarded this today. It’s a speech given in 1944 by Judge Learned Hand, on “I am an American” day in 1944, in the middle of a terrifying world war.

The first few sentences are somewhat hard to read; his assertion that we are made of people that have chosen to immigrate or are descended from those who did rings terribly terribly false for the thousands and thousands of slaves that were brought to this country in grotesque conditions, entirely against their wills.

Can we move past this? I hope we can, because his statements about Liberty, and the distinction between Liberty and the simple anarchy of unbridled will, are incredibly powerful and relevant in January 2021, when we face an insurrection of those who seem to believe that “do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”

We have gathered here to affirm a faith, a faith in a common purpose, a common conviction, a common devotion. Some of us have chosen America as the land of our adoption; the rest have come from those who did the same. For this reason we have some right to consider ourselves a picked group, a group of those who had the courage to break from the past and brave the dangers and the loneliness of a strange land. What was the object that nerved us, or those who went before us, to this choice? We sought liberty; freedoms from oppression, freedom from want, freedom to be ourselves. This we then sought; this we now believe that we are by way of winning. What do we mean when we say that first of all we seek liberty? I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it. And what is this liberty which must lie in the hearts of men and women? It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will; it is not freedom to do as one likes. That is the denial of liberty, and leads straight to its overthrow. A society in which men recognize no check upon their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of only a savage few; as we have learned to our sorrow.

What then is the spirit of liberty? I cannot define it; I can only tell you my own faith. The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the mind of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias; the spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded; the spirit of liberty is the spirit of Him who, near two thousand years ago, taught mankind that lesson it has never learned but never quite forgotten; that there may be a kingdom where the least shall be heard and considered side by side with the greatest. And now in that spirit, that spirit of an America which has never been, and which may never be; nay, which never will be except as the conscience and courage of Americans create it; yet in the spirit of that America which lies hidden in some form in the aspirations of us all; in the spirit of that America for which our young men are at this moment fighting and dying; in that spirit of liberty and of America I ask you to rise and with me pledge our faith in the glorious destiny of our beloved country.

  • Judge Learned Hand, 1944

Hello, fellow Americans

:: Politics

By: John Clements

Hello, my fellow Americans.

How’s it going?

If you’re like me, you’re feeling really, really bad right now. Loss, despair, a pain in your chest. Walking around alone at night, feeling absolutely awful. Really bad. A horror-clown has just been elected president. A man who doesn’t seem to have any plans beyond simple self-aggrandizement, who will say or do anything to inflate his own self-importance.

At the end of the day, you’re probably asking this: What does this mean for America?

Well, I’ll tell you what it means.

It means that we’re not done yet.

This is not yet the America that we want it to be.

It means that we’ve still got a heck of a lot of work to do. No one said this was going to be easy.

So: make a list of priorities. Here’s mine:

  • Human Rights
  • Climate Change
  • Nuclear Proliferation

Then—and this is the hard part—start doing something about them.

I’m going to try. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Are Union Seniority Rules Defensible?

:: Politics

By: John Clements

I’m sympathetic to Teachers’ unions. In fact, I’m in the Teachers’ union. More specifically, I’m a tenure-track associate professor at Cal Poly, and a member of the California Faculty Association.

Many of the faculty union’s actions I find commendable. In particular, I’m thankful that the union supports faculty wages1, and tries to ensure the continued presence of full-time faculty.

However, I find the union’s seniority rules pretty much indefensible. In particular, article 38.16 of the contract (Collective Bargaining Agreement) negotiated by the CFA with the California State University system (or CSU) stipulates (IANAL) that “The President shall establish the order of layoff for tenured faculty unit employees in a unit of layoff by reverse order of seniority.”

Why would this be the case? Is the administration presumed to be so incapable of estimating worth that this decision needs to be taken out of their hands completely? It appears to me that the current goal of the union is to demonize every aspect of the CSU administration’s activity. The level of the CFA rhetoric in its published materials is incredibly low; to take just one example, the idea of paying more money to certain employees based on their performance is described by the CFA as “Pucker Pay.” Please.

Now’s where I should launch into a detailed analysis of the history of labor laws and the role played by seniority layoffs… but I don’t have that background, or that time. If I could build a model using Redex and publish it in POPL, I’d be all over it. Instead, it will just be my opinion.

Here’s another part of my opinion: civil discourse is the basis for forward progress in our government.

I guess I can say this: I voted for Marshall Tuck.

1 though probably not mine, actually

    Political Things I am Currently Outraged About

    :: Politics

    By: John Clements


    I feel like the list of things I’m outraged about politically is always growing. How can I keep track of it?

    • Corporate Money in Politics (move to amend!)
    • Global Warming (Carbon Tax! Carbon Tax!)
    • Gerrymandering of districts
    • Copyright Law and the year 1923 (how I hate Mickey Mouse!)
    • Proposition 13 and the anti-tax, all-government-is-bad atmosphere.

    Merely Upset

    • Health Care
    • Net Neutrality
    • The behavior of my union
    • American Ignorance

    I have the feeling I’m going to be adding to these.