Thursday, July 31, 2014

Millennial Political Hub

The following is a description for the Facebook group "Millennial Political Hub."

Written by Joe Kopsick and Trevor Tidwell in May and August 2014.

By Joe Kopsick:

     A page for a big-tent, multi-partisan coalition for a new American republic and a new social contract.
     The Millennial Political Hub (formerly the United Freedom Alliance) is a coalition that caters to the voice of the people.

     We know that the people of the world, of the United States, and especially the Millennial generation (the generation born between approximately 1982 and 2000) want to think and work together peacefully to solve some of the biggest challenges facing the world over the next several decades.

     The American Dream is in shambles. The Baby Boomer generation will not only out-earn the Millennial generation; they will also live longer than Millennials. Generational debt has resulted from our government's financial mismanagement. Homelessness, hunger, poverty, and economic disparity still plague the world, and in America the authorities brutally crack down on the poor, and brutally crack down on everyone else for unbelievably minor non-violent offenses. Life-threatening but preventable chronic diseases are on the rise. By 2025, the North Atlantic will be almost completely devoid of marine life, and by 2030, carbon dioxide emission trends will reach the crucial turning point.

     Our governmental institutions and processes – even our fundamental notions of what justice and the rule of law are - are in disarray. The stark divide between political camps which was evident during the Culture Wars of the 1990s has given way to increasing factionalism and sectionalism, which threaten to eventually tear apart not only the two major parties but the fabric of society as a whole.

     Simply put, the world has a lot of problems, and each person or faction in it has its own views about what justice is, and what standards people ought to be held to.

     That's why Millennial Political Hub invites you to join our group, chat with administrators, discuss in our threads, meet fellow members, and vote in our polls. Seek your own justice, wisdom, and freedom, through peaceful discourse and polite discussion. We do this in order to encourage free thought and speech, facilitate cooperation and brainstorming.

     Our desire is to build a broad coalition that would support a platform based on what we aim to create: a working model for a personalizable, customizable form of government (or style, or institutional framework for, governance) that can be all things to all people. A style of - or institutional framework for – governance, that can hold people to their own professed moral principles and behavioral standards, not to the principles dictated by some elite claiming to represent them.

     We believe that the people of the Millennial Generation – and of the Millennial Political Hub – are up to the challenge of improving government and solving war, hunger, pollution, poverty, unemployment, collapsing public infrastructure, education, disease, and so on. Millennials are well-educated, globally aware, culturally and ethnically diverse, and politically conscious, yet relatively untainted by partisan politics.

     The Millennials are not content to become a silent, ignored, mistrusted generation. The Baby Boomers seem certain that we are going to save them, but they don't seem willing to accept any of our terms. Our generation may volunteer in record numbers, but we don't always work for free.

     We demand little more than the tools to do our jobs: our fair share of opportunity, a peaceful and free society, a safe workplace, a truly social safety net that extends beyond the scope of government welfare programs, and a basic guaranteed standard of living to provide a level playing field.

We want more reasonable licensing requirements and more widely accessible job training. We want it to be easier to volunteer and to work, and we want those labors to be more effective and more profitable. Likewise, we want our government to spend our money more wisely and more efficiently.

     The Millennial Generation cannot take its place in history as a proud and accomplished generation unless and until the political, societal, and economic values systems of the Baby Boomers are no longer imposed on us. We know that society cannot survive when groups and individuals impose foreign values systems, customs, and traditions upon one another, not without dire consequences.

     Millennial Political Hub urges its members to read The Fourth Turning: What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny by William Strauss and Neil Howe. Strauss and Howe teach us that generations and history shape and influence one another, and postulate that generational societal change occurs in cycles.

     Millennial Political Hub hopes to find ways for our generation to get along with the dying members of the G.I. and Silent generations, and the Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers. We also want to ensure that the next generation does not fall victim to the same war, nationalism, and depression that afflicted the Silent and Progressive generations.

     Collectively, we stand for:
     - Subsidiarity and localism: increase governmental efficiency and efficacy through the decentralization and diffusion of decision-making and enforcement power down to the lowest possible level without compromising competence.
     - Household choice of legal community and location (for single-person households and family households alike).
     - Self-determination of households and consensual legal communities (whether or not the lands that such communities are contiguous and connected).
     - Egalitarianism and isocracy
     - Civic republicanism; an emphasis on written law
     - That a social contract should be written, signed, sealed, delivered, and acknowledged by all parties involved, just like any normal contract conferring mutual obligation and surety.
     - That breaking a social contract, or changing its rules without sufficient cause and/or notice, should merit ostracism, and compulsory exile and self-dependence; rather than forced submission or violent retribution (unless democide or mass mayhem is risked by not initiating violence in the face of an imminent threat).
     - That consensus- and coalition- based democracy are preferable to majoritarian democracy (even based on a majority of those who participate) because majoritarianism is insufficiently supportive of - and insufficiently deferential to - individual rights, cultural differences, the self-determination of legal communities, competitive provision of justice, and non-cooperative pacts and truces providing for non-aggression.
     - Separation of powers in dispute resolution: eliminate corruption in jury selection; promote full information of juries; reinstate common-law grand juries; ensure that no dispute resolution or arbitration agency has the authority to license any other (s), nor to compel any person or agency to always and exclusively come to it for dispute resolution; and ensure that police witnesses, prosecutors, and judges (who all represent the state) and court-appointed public defenders cannot collude to keep jurors and the accused ill-informed of their rights.

     To learn more about the inspiration for this group - and about the history of Western political philosophy - the original three authors of the group recommend viewing the following 12-part video series, a course that was filmed at Harvard that covers Locke, Nozick, Rawls, Aristotle, and others:

By Trevor Tidwell:

     The Millennial Political Hub is a place for Millennials to gather, discuss, brainstorm to create mutually agreeable solutions across partisan and ideological lines, and form a big-tent, multi-partisan coalition for a new republic and social contract, that all may have justice and freedom for themselves, rather than having values and ideals imposed on them.

     We invite you to join our group, chat with administrators and other members, vote in polls, and participate in peaceful discourse and polite discussion. We encourage free thought and speech, and want to facilitate cooperation and brainstorming.

     As Millennials, we are not content to become a silent, ignored, lazy, and mistrusted generation. Our Boomer parents and grandparents once seemed certain that we were going to save them, and with the proper guidance and negotiation, we will rise to the occasion. Gen-Xers have distrusted us, but we will build bridges of mutual respect, appreciation, and teamwork. We will end the conflict between generations, so we can face our challenges together.

     We believe that Millennials, together with Xers and Boomers, are up to the challenge of improving government, solving war, ending hunger, cleaning up pollution, eradicating poverty, ending unemployment, renewing collapsing public infrastructure, improving education, curing disease, and meeting all the challenges we face with all brightness of hope that we can overcome them. We are well-educated, globally aware, culturally and ethnically diverse, and politically conscious, and reject partisan politics.

     We want our markets, corporations, and businesses to have a conscience and be socially responsible, as well as productive and profitable. We want education to be freely accessible and affordable for all people. We want fully integrated lives, where our jobs and work do not take us from our families or prevent us from enjoying the fruits and rest of a productive society. We want strong, healthy, and happy children, families, and marriages. We want our homes, neighborhoods and communities to be safe, friendly, clean, well connected, and open. We want our government to be efficient, responsible, and responsive, and our taxes invested and dispensed wisely. We want an end to debt-slavery and wage slavery and the building of true wealth for the benefit of all people. We want peace and freedom.

Request to join now!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Impact of Globalization on Highwood, Illinois

     Although one may not expect a city of only 5,000 residents located on the North shore of Chicago to show much evidence of international influence, the history of Highwood, Illinois has a rich multicultural heritage that is reflected in its mix of foreign-born and immigrant-descended residents and their restaurants, grocery stores, and other businesses which have put Highwood's economic success level on par with that of the mostly white and Jewish communities around it.
     In 2000, the population of Highwood was 4,143. It is located in southeastern Lake County, 28 miles north of downtown Chicago. The City of Highwood is connected to all cities on the shore of Lake Michigan from Kenosha, Wisconsin to Chicago by the Metra / Union Pacific North Line. It is bordered by Lake Forest to the northwest, Fort Sheridan to the northeast, and Highland Park to the south.
     Highwood was founded in the 1880s by Swedish settlers. Phone service in Highwood began in the 1930s, and cars became available in the 1940s, though they were difficult to afford during the war.
     Today, 38.6% of Highwood residents are foreign-born and 38.2% are Hispanics of any race. Italian immigration to the city began in the early years of the 1900s decade, peaked during World War II, decreased dramatically in the late 1940s, and rose again in the 1960s. Highwood has been importing pasta, olive oil, cookies, candy, and panatone from Italy since before the 1930s. The city hosts the annual Highwood Days in August, which began as an Italian cultural celebration in the 1980s.
     The economic blending between Highwood and the affluent, predominantly Jewish neighborhood of Highland Park has become more apparent since World War II through the 1960s, when Highwood experienced a business renaissance as several dozen taverns were replaces by better buildings occupied by restaurants. Since then, Highwood has seen an increase in white residents and property values. Over the last five to seven years, several antique stores and art galleries have opened.
     In the mid-1950s, Highwood's numerous Italian-owned landscaping companies, of which today there are at least five, began hiring Mexican immigrants. The influx of Mexican immigrants to Highwood has spread to Highland Park and Lake Forest. There is also a significant Mexican population in North Chicago, ten miles north of Highwood.
     Most Highwood residents work within the city, although train service to Kenosha and Chicago is readily available as it goes straight through the center of the town, which is less than one square mile in area. In the 1930s, many people living in Highwood worked as housekeepers and gardeners for residents of Lake Forest, Highland Park, and Lake Bluff. Today the most common occupations are landscaping, carpentry, stone masonry, electrician work, food service, plumbing, and family businesses such as auto body shops.
Today, downtown Highwood has many Mexican- and Italian-owned grocery stores and restaurants. There are two Mexican-owned grocery stores, called “mini-supers,” including one that cooks food to order. There are currently three Italian-owned grocery stores - one of which is a butcher shop that has been in business for 35 years – another is a bakery, and two of them make food to order or to go.
     There are three or four Mexican-owned restaurants, which mostly employ Mexican cooks, busboys, and wait staff. There are at least nine Italian-owned restaurants, some of which employ Mexican cooks and busboys. The wait staff, hosts, and bartenders at restaurants and bars in Highwood are mostly Italian or white.
     The Walgreen's store in Highwood offers specialty items that most other Walgreen's would not have, such as Mexican candy, pastries made by Mexico-based company Bimbo, and El Milagro tortilla chips. Walgreen's was built after Highwood's main pharmacy and convenience store, Laegler's Pharmacy, closed after about a hundred years of operation. The owner, William Laegler, became a pharmacist at Walgreen's. In Laegler's place is an upscale Italian-owned restaurant called Miramar.
     Gabe Viti, the owner of Miramar – and Froggy's, which serves French cuisine – opened a Mexican restaurant called Pancho Viti, but it was unsuccessful and closed after several years. There is also a Chinese restaurant and a Greek restaurant called Yianni's Opa, which closed last year after about ten years of operation.
     North Shore Estates is a 200,000 square-foot, 252-unit apartment property comprised of three four-story midrise apartment buildings located on the northern edge of Highwood's business district. It houses several hundred, perhaps a thousand residents. Since the early 1980s, the building has been known to be overcrowded and there are numerous health and safety concerns. What to do about the building has been a topic of concern in City Hall for the past few years. The building may be sold, but citizens have voiced their concern for the health of the residents as this would displace about 20% of Highwood's work force.
Another apartment complex north of North Shore Estates along Sheridan Road is the nearby Hotel Moraine, which has closed and is planned to be torn down and replaced by a condominium with retail space on the bottom floor, although logistical and population-density issues slow its development.
     Across Sheridan Road from northern Highwood is the south end of the U.S. Army base Fort Sheridan. Fort Sheridan and Highwood belong to North Shore School District 112, which today includes Oak Terrace Elementary and Indian Trail School, which teach kindergarten through fifth grade, and Elm Place Middle School, which teaches sixth through eighth grade. Students attend high school in neighboring Highland Park. St. James Catholic School, which teaches kindergarten through eighth grade, has been open for at least 75 years. It has been developed since its construction, adding new classrooms and converting old classrooms into rental spaces for events.
     After about a hundred years of operation, Oak Terrace School was rebuilt as Oak Terrace Elementary in 1999 and 2000 and has since become a dual language magnet school, owing to the increase in Mexican immigration to Highwood. Fifty-two point one percent of Highwood residents over 5 years old speak a language other than English at home. For each grade, the school offers one English-only class and one or several dual Spanish and English classes. As the grades advance, Spanish and English use in the classroom is blended. Kindergarten dual Spanish and English classes begin with Spanish immersion.
     Recently, there has been an increase in the number of white students enrolled at Oak Terrace Elementary, the dual-language elementary school, as non-Spanish-speaking residents have become aware and have realized the need for their children to be aware of the Spanish language. Some residents believe that Oak Terrace's emphasis on dual language skills causes the content to be covered less in-depth. Sherwood School in Highland Park also offers dual language classes. Residents are free to choose which of Highwood's elementary schools their children attend.

     In a study of Highwood, Illinois, one can find evidence of influence from Mexico, China, and most of Western Europe including Italy, France, and Sweden. It has been active in trade with Italy for at least 75 years. Residents celebrate their Italian heritage on an annual basis, and Hispanic heritage is reflected in one of its educational institutions, each contributing to the prevalence of multilingual people in the area. Highwood's status as a diverse immigrant neighborhood has shaped its distinct identity among cities on the North Shore for over one hundred years.

Written in February 2008 for a course on geography,
Edited in July 2014

Land Ownership: Thomas More vs. Jean-Jacques Rousseau

     [Thomas] More's character Raphael Nonsenso says that nobles “have grown dissatisfied with the income that their predecessors got out of their estates. They're no longer content to lead lazy, comfortable lives, which do no good to society – they must actively do it harm, by enclosing all the land they can for pasture, and leaving none for cultivation.”
     [According to More, t]he sheep market is “almost entirely under control of a few rich men, who don't need to sell unless they feel like it, and never do feel like it until they get the price they want.” [He continues,] “These few greedy people have converted one of England's greatest natural advantages into a national disaster. For it's the high price of food that makes employers turn off so many of their servants – which inevitably means turning them into beggars or thieves.”
     [According to Jean-Jacques Rousseau,] “The first person who, having enclosed a plot of land, took it into his head to say this is mine and found people simple enough to believe him, was the true founder of civil society. What crimes, wars, murders, what miseries and horrors would the human race have been spared, had someone pulled up the stakes or filled in the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: 'Do not listen to this impostor. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to all and the earth to no one!”

     More and Rousseau agree that inequality arises when a person with a claim to land forbids other people from living on it or working the land for food. More says that for an employer to kick his servants off of his land causes them to become beggars and thieves. Rousseau believes that all people have the right to the fruits of the earth and that the land belongs to no one.

Written in April 2008 for a course on political theory,
Edited in July 2014

The Middle Class: Aristotle vs. American Society

     Aristotle believes that the middle-class is economically and morally moderate. The middle-class has property, and thus it is interested in politics, but those who have either excessive wealth or excessive poverty may become arrogant or malicious, and no longer able to obey reason or make wise decisions.
     Aristotle abhors polarization and extremism. He idealizes a constitutional government. He says, “Where the middle class outweighs in numbers both the other classes, or even one of them, it is possible for a constitution to be permanent.”
     He sees democracy as problematic, describing it as “rule by the many in their own interest.” He says that there should be direct participation of citizens in the affairs of the state rather than participation through representation. He believes that it is good for people to take turns governing, and that citizens should be willing to serve on juries.

     Aristotle's conception of the middle-class is different from the American middle class in that American citizens are not often willing to serve on juries. Also, direct citizen participation in American government is much less common than people exercising political power through representation.

Written in April 2008 for a course on political theory,
Edited in July 2014

Political Violence: Hannah Arendt vs. Niccolo Machiavelli

     Hannah Arendt says that “to force people by violence, to command rather than to persuade, were prepolitical ways to deal with people[,] characteristic of life outside the polis...” [. She continues,] “To be political... meant that everything was decided through words and persuasion and not through force and violence.” She says that as political philosophy grew, the emphasis shifted from action to speech - previously regarded as equal - as a means of persuasion.
     Machiavelli says that “a prince, so long as he keeps his subjects united and loyal, ought not to mind the reproach of cruelty; because with a few examples he will be more merciful than those who, through too much mercy, allow disorders to arise...” [. He continues,] “if one considers everything carefully, doing some some things that seem virtuous may result in one's ruin, whereas doing other things that seem vicious may strengthen one's position and cause one to flourish.”
     Machiavelli does not agree with Arendt at all. He says that good arms and good laws constitute the dual foundations of a well-ordered political system, and that the use of violence can advance political power, while Arendt says that the use of violence is prepolitical.

Written in April 2008 for a course on political theory,
Edited in July 2014

The Origin of Political Association: Aristotle vs. Thomas Hobbes

     Both Aristotle and Hobbes believe that in order to understand the state, one must study its origins. Aristotle believes that the origin of the polis existed in relationships, whereas Hobbes sees the individual as the building block of political society.
     Aristotle says that “all associations come into being for the sake of some good”, and that “the most sovereign and inclusive association is the political association [polis].” He says that “...there must necessarily be a pairing of those who cannot exist without one another... [and] a union of the naturally ruling element with the element which is naturally ruled, for the preservation of both.”
     Aristotle says that “just as some are by nature free, so others are by nature slaves, and for these latter the condition of slavery is both beneficial and just.” He says that people whom have forethought by the virtue of intellect are naturally rulers, and that people whom have the bodily power to do physical work are naturally ruled.
     Hobbes believes that a person's desire for self-preservation may become egoism, and this causes individuals to seek protection from other individuals by placing constraints upon their egoistic natures. He believes that unbridled egoism prevents people from socializing with each other because of their fear and lack of trust.
     Although Aristotle explains man and woman's biological necessity to each other, he is not able to support the claim that a slave cannot exist without a master in the same way man and woman depend on one another. He assumes that slaves are unable to exercise forethought. Also, it would seem that all people have the power to do physical work, and Aristotle fails to explain whether a person whom has both power and intellect deserves to rule or be ruled.

     Hobbes' argument is more plausible because he doesn't make birth-based generalizations about rulers and the ruled; instead, he imagines the moment the rule of law came into existence, and explains the necessity of the rule of law as protection of the safety of individuals, and not strictly to keep necessary relationships intact. The relationship of man and woman is a social relationship that does not need political associations to survive. After all, that relationship existed sustainably even before the advent of the rule of law.

Written in April 2008 for a course on political theory,
edited in July 2014