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Incoming BYTES
contains highly variable subject matter including commentary on the mundane, the extraordinary and even controversial issues. At Incoming BYTES
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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Democracy: A damaged pull toy?

The dogs of 'Tug-of-war'

 It is simple and fascinating entertainment for this early, mild winter.

I take a break and watch my two young dogs out in the snow  playing 'tug of war'  with  pull toys. The dogs themselves are different as night and day, one black, short and compact with a lot of fur, the other tan, tall,  and short-haired.  They're about the same age, still young enough to love playing with pull toys.
Pull toys are those brightly-coloured,  braided rope things everyone has,  inexpensive entertainment for dogs of all sizes and shapes.  Some come  with a short-lived fuzzy  tennis-ball on them,  a knobby plastic bone, or a loop for a handle.  They can be woven, braided or knotted, but  the actual construction is almost irrelevant as they get  dragged around, chewed up, and eventually totaled.
It's tough being  a pull toy around here. 

The combatants stand nose to nose, jaws clamped  tightly, seemingly to the death, pulling, growling, stiff-legged, shaking their heads,  not giving an inch except to reposition for a better grip or to gain some other advantage.  They are commonly both on the same end of the short rope, jaw to jaw, nose to nose, trying to gain as much of the plaything as possible.
Curiously, if called, given direction, such as  'wanna go for a walk?'  or otherwise, they will often mutually turn and  run in the same direction, side by side,  teamwork immediately apparent, but both are still unwilling to let go.

At times, in the mutual  attempt to dislodge the other determined combatant  from the rope they will  shake their heads so hard  it makes me wonder if  concussions could result, --how about  neck or brain damage,  like damaged hockey players-- injuries still arrogantly and vehemently denied by a few 'agitated and uninformed, but ' manly' sports advocates.  Hockey greats Crosby and Pronger  are  the latest, but  no matter--the injuries speak clearly for themselves, and yes,  we digress as surely as the dogs of tug-of-war  growl  in bravado and give nary an inch. Making big money with hockey leagues is  more important.  A tug-of-war between profit and common senseGo figure Back to the pups under observation.
Ultimately  the dogs might mutually drop the pull toy into the snow because of exhaustion, disinterest,  or sudden distraction like the chatter of a squirrel,  a scolding raven fly-by 100 feet in the blue sky above them,  a snow plow or  the occasional vehicle sputtering  down the road.
Bottom line,  unless specifically rescued from it's trials out in the cold world, the pull toy always gets the worst of it.

Shredded, chewed to bits, braiding segregated,  parts missing, lost in the snow - dismembered, abandoned or  just plain forgotten. Strangely,  it may be rediscovered at some later date,  and if enough material exists at the time of that revelation,  with a few sturdy knots and some attention it may be adequately restored to tolerate yet another round of use and abuse.  
Sounds something like democracy, isn't it?  Is democracy in North America like a damaged pull toy that will eventually be abandoned because of severe damage?  Can democracy survive stress, parts arbitrarily being removed,  'modified and stretched' in all directions, endless attacks perpetrated with intent  by the devious?  Is that process condoned by apathy and disinterest in government process? How about where the systemic, malicious degradation of democracy is practiced?

 Is democracy as we know it to be eventually abandoned? Can democracy be rediscovered and restored?
At Incoming Bytes we suggest this analogy should not be ignored, lost, forgotten, or abandoned. Why?
Since 9/11, personal  freedoms in North America  have been under attack under the guise of security. The images of  riots, pepper-spraying 'officers' and  riot-equipped police state are far too common. Across North America the 'Occupy This' movement was shut down by bureaucracy-- clearly with no moral right to stifle civilian protest and demonstration. Our leaders remove individual freedoms as they empower themselves and practice self-entitlement.   
Will North American democracy continue to be willfully  damaged, to a point where it will be eventually  abandoned?
The question must be: Following devious, repressive governance,  shall ever more extreme governments be installed until democracy is shattered?
History shows that the abuse of power eventually leads to the destruction of government--regardless of political dogma practiced.  Perhaps power leads to willful blindness and madness as well as abuse of power? 

The reader at Incoming Bytes  is encouraged to observe, think, and speak out --for change of direction and constructive teamwork--before genuine democracy is shredded, abandoned, AND  forgotten. 
Watching that progression is fascinating too--just keep that tug of war in mind.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


  1. That's why, despite not being a dog person, I'd prefer a dog over (most) politicians!

  2. I fear we have reached the tipping point and as we go forward, I worry the seesaw will tip and we will end up on that inevitable slide into socialism. We are so close now, it's hard to see us going in any other direction.

  3. Another interesting post topic, Ray.

    One has only to watch American politics to realize that democracy is a blood sport in our country. I'm not sure how that translates in Canada. At this vantage point in my life, I've had the epiphany that socialism is not really such a dirty word. Especially since we have Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid that have worked quite well despite inevitable flaws that are bound to happen in any huge system. People who need help, are getting it.

    Since some American politicians refuse to regulate our financial power mongers, even after the banks and Wall Street almost completely destroyed our economic system and the financial bail-out required to save them has left our grandchildren in debt, a little European style democracy sounds refreshing. There the focus is less on ownership and more on quality of life. I suppose even thinking those words makes me un-American.

  4. Don't tell me anything about Medicare or Medicaid so far they have cost me over #80,000 and would do credit to Ponzi or even Bernie Madoff.

  5. The thing is, opponents who do not want change usually say something like this: "I do not want my money to pay for someone who is not working."

    In private insurance, your money still pays for someone else - the execs of the company and the expenses of those who use more. Unless you have a serious conditions or problems, chances are that the actual benefits you will be using are not as much as you paid in. After all, that is how the system has to work in order to make profit.

    The only difference with the two scenarios is who benefits. Yet, most seem to be okay with lining pockets that don't need it and assume that people in need are looking for handouts and are lazy. Well, I am one "in need" and definitely not looking for handouts, just a hand up. Am I lazy? I can let people who know me answer that.

    On the other hand, would I trust the government to dole out my taxes or premiums where it's needed most? Ha.

  6. I'm not sure I'd use the image of a contested pull-toy, Ray. That image seems to imply that the two major political parties are still at fundamental odds with each other -- as perhaps they were in the old days. I think most politicians these days are aligned with the interests of the super-rich, and that this trend will continue following the Citizens United decision. Just my two cents.

  7. @ Paul, the pull-toy image is meant to represent only democracy itself, and how it is being unbraided, dissected and damaged by constant political attack, regardless of political affiliation of the attackers.

    Note that the 'dogs' do run in the same direction using 'teamwork' like political parties, when beckoned by the (owner) RICH, don't they, so perhaps the analogy is even more accurate. Most politicians appear to respond to the rich regardless of political affiliation, so do they have a hand in the pockets of the super-rich and promote policy that ensures the rich keep getting richer? It certainly seems to be so. The gap between rich and poor is widening exponentially.

    @ Alex, your comment about money going to insurance companies vs. a public system is a brilliant observation that few people care to notice.
    Your 'premiums' or 'tax' money is used for others and vice versa in either private or public system.
    The BIG difference is that specific, private individuals running insurance companies become very rich, skimming off a large percentage of that money --and CEOs arrogantly practice self-entitlement, siphoning off millions as 'bonuses'.
    Is that somehow 'better' than a " socialist" public system? Clearly not. A "hand up" is not a bad thing at all.

    In the "big bad socialist- public" system that ideological "purists" are SO afraid of, the government is obligated to keep ALL of your tax money within the infrastructure system and minimize costs for all people involved.
    Does that always happen? Admittedly, no. There are instances of bad spending, fraud, pork-barrel politics, deception, lack of transparency, crooked politicians,ad nauseum-- Typical defects displayed by ANY government, regardless of ideology.

    Are defects in any system just cause for dismissal of improvements to a system? No.
    Persons that believe that ONLY a "purely" capitalist system can function seriously need a reality check.

    @Diane, you have pointed out the absolute best example of hypocrisy in North America --and how badly Americans understand what is really happening. They blindly assume "socialism is bad" because "the existing ideological system advises them to live in fear of change.

    " Help and welfare for individuals, seniors, sick people and the homeless" is despised, frowned upon and considered to be "Socialism" while billions of dollars for Corporate Welfare are spent by irresponsible politicians, bailing out obscenely rich corporate entities like financial institutions, banks, and auto manufacturers at the EXPENSE of taxpayers. Bailouts are a clear and blatant example of Corporate Socialism --at the very least, the biggest deception ever perpetrated upon hard-working, ordinary American people. Hypocrisy again comes to mind.

    @ Geotek --the American "hybrid" Medicare/Medicaid system still favours the HMOs and insurance companies which do not help, but make the system more expensive.
    A true universal health care model is not in force in the US in spite of changes made.

    So--the debate once more is once again turned to Socialism vs. Capitalism instead of the endangered status of democracy itself. People have been brainwashed SO badly that they fear any change, --even for the better. They have been clearly so distracted by the ploy of political/corporate America they fail to recognize the deterioration of democracy. How sad. Democracy WILL be abandoned at that rate.

  8. Ray, there seem to be so many threats to democracy, that I'm a bit lost to understand how it might survive those threats.

    For instance -- to take just one danger -- consider the pressure that will be put on representative democracy if the economy for any reason ceases to continually expand. Then throw in the things that could cause the economy to undergo a lengthy period of contraction. It turns out they are many. So, when you start thinking about it, representative democracy appears to be more vulnerable than it might at first seem.

    On the other hand, we've mucked through it for a bit over 200 years. We just might survive a while longer. I certainly hope so.

    By the way, I find most of us do not genuinely understand what socialism is, but we nevertheless fear it. Or at least we fear the word, "socialism".

  9. Paul, exactly. The American people have had that "fear" of even the very word "socialism" planted in their brains --propagated by political idealogues and the super-rich that PROMOTE the fear of change to ensure they maintain their status quo of power and self-entitlement --to their own benefit and agenda.
    Representative democracy WILL have a great deal of pressure put upon it if the entitlements of the rich and powerful are threatened.
    Interestingly, NO system lasts forever--everything cycles, even political systems. NO economic system can "EXPAND" endlessly either--why do you think the stock market "corrects" itself? It is all inflation and crass, planned manipulation.
    "Create a disaster" that will make you a fortune comes to mind.
    Who do you think buys all of the "under-priced stocks" when the stock market dives? It certainly is not the average small investor. Once the cheap securities are bought, up goes the price....over and over again.
    This whole financial "crisis" globally has been artificially manufactured to enhance the fortunes of the rich and powerful --who can easily afford to wait out lengthy periods of economic contraction.
    The response to these catastrophes is merely additional opportunity to destroy democracy even further --and that must be recognized soon, or there will not be democracy. I'm not sure it will last another 20 years, never mind 200 years.

    Curiously, "we" promote democracy to "other countries" such as Iraq, Libya--when it is in the interest of rich corporations to do so.

  10. Ray, are you available to make a quick trip to Iowa? The GOP candidates running for office would benefit from an "Incoming Bytes" workshop that clues them in to the fact that socialism is not being part of the "evil empire." :-)

  11. Diane, I would be happy to to take a trip anywhere that is warmer than here ":)
    Unfortunately, the GOP candidates are just like many people, totally misinformed--too often people equate sensible socialism with Communism. Too sad. A civilized social program is not part of any evil empire --just the "perceived" boogeyman. Thanks, Diane!


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