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Bad To Great: The Path To Scaling Up Excellence

Bad To Great: The Path To Scaling Up Excellence | It Comes Undone-Think About It |

Before senior executives try to spread best practices, they should use seven techniques to clear out the negative behavior that stands in the way. 


Via Kenneth Mikkelsen, Catherine Macquart-Martin, WorldsView Academy
Eli Levine's insight:

"Destructive behavior—selfishness, nastiness, fear, laziness, dishonesty—packs a far bigger wallop than constructive behavior."


Funny how it is that ethics and basic tenants of morality (without the religious connotations) has a significant impact on how we operate and our chances of success on THIS level of being, not in Heaven "above".


Perhaps we weren't evolved enough to be able to handle the old teachings of the prophets, all those years ago and be able to interpret them on their most general level.


Silly brains.

Think about it!

Kenneth Mikkelsen's curator insight, February 15, 2014 8:12 PM

This article relates to Robert Sutton's new book: Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less

Bob Sutton says that scaling a company is a balancing act between "Buddhism" (flexibility) vs. "Catholicism" (imposing standards).

Tony Brugman (Bright & Company)'s curator insight, May 3, 2014 4:59 PM

Excellent piece on strategy and leadership in McKinsey Quarterly from February. Bottom-line: Aiming for Organisational Excellence? Get rid of the negative behaviour in your organisation first! The authors (including Robert I. Sutton) give seven tips for breaking bad habits and behaviour.

Gary Johnsen's curator insight, May 15, 2014 9:46 AM

Good article on culture

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The Costs of Poor Choices

War costs.  Pollution costs.  Excessive wealth concentration costs.  Excessive power reaching costs.  Infectious diseases costs.  Poor management costs.

All of these things eat away at the power, viability, and sustainability of a group of peoples' ability to remain in power.  We have chosen these people to lead and make choices for our society.  They have not lived up to their minimum requirements, and we will all pay for their ignorance, stupidity, and capriciousness.  The world of making policy is not an art form where you are at liberty to do as you will when you will and receive positive results for your liberty.  It is actually a cold, cold science at its roots, with very real and grave consequences for not abiding by the natural laws that are present within our societies and economies.  You do x bundle of policies, you get y results within the society, which then has the power to change, shift, and move on you independently of the policies that you enact.  It is better for those who are in power to know the laws of society, economy, ecology, physics, psychology, and the entire natural universe that is larger than the sub-atomic, yet smaller than the cosmological.  Unless we have this comprehension and acceptance of natural laws and conditions in our world, we will never really break free from the cycle of boom, bust, and decay with a chance of making it back to a positive rebirth.

We cannot abide the ideologues, the delusional, the warped in thinking and feeling, and the clinically anti-social in our governments and in our places of power, consequence, authority, and responsibility.  We cannot abide their anti-social, the deranged, or the delusional from being in power, nor should we accept their sub-par leadership for the sake of their personal ego.  We'll be the ones paying for their ability to be in office.  And, quite frankly, privilege of being in office, in my mind, does not outweigh my right to live a free, decent, and happy life.

How do you feel about this?

Seriously, we will die for the sake of their pathetic ego.

Your move, America.  Your move.

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Utility Maximization - Where We Go Wrong

Perhaps our real problem as a species, from an economic perspective, is a poor definition and a poor cognizance of our actual utilities, given our biological, sociological, and environmental needs.  Would anyone say that the French or Russian or Chinese or Iranian aristocrats truly maximized their utility when they took so much from their societies that the societies themselves rose up and eliminated them?  I'm not inclined to say so.  I think we're headed on a similar collision course with history of our corporate and political leaders continue on their same near-sighted, artificial, and narrow definitions of success and utility maximization.


Utility is going to be different for each person and position within a given society.  It is also something that is partially constructed socially and partially experienced endogenously within ourselves.  Just because something amasses you more material or financial wealth doesn't mean that it is you're actually "winning" at anything.  Just because several people or society itself may have told you what you wanted doesn't mean that it's really good for you as an individual.


A business person's motivation to maximize financial profits and material wealth is contradictory and, sometimes, mutually exclusive to maximizing their actual organic, sociological, and environmental needs as living beings.  Yet through a combination of genetic, socialization, and psychological factors they choose financial wealth over their own physical, social, and environmental health.  They seem to clearly mistake and misunderstand their own self interests relative to the larger social, economic, and environmental picture of the universe that is around them.


A governing member of society's motivation can be found in maintaining, preserving, and extending their relative power and influence within the given society.  However, we see here again that these governing members frequently mistake temporary relative power over people to long term longevity and a lasting positive influence on peoples' lives.  Without this positive influence on peoples' well-being and quality of life, they then preside over relative hovels of societies or else, get removed from office all together in more proactive societies.  Again, the key to achieving utility maximization is misunderstood, even in the public realm where traditional notions of utility maximization aren't present.


In short, maximizing relative power and influence, along with pure financial profit are not keys to maximizing human utility on any planet.  They should not be used in determining those things which we need to crave for our health, well-being, and quality of life in this universe within the context of our larger society, economy, and environment.  Those who don't see it like that are probably suffering from some sort of socially induced hallucination that could be an enabling factor in allowing them to fight, kill, and even die for the sake of things that we don't really need and shouldn't really want as human beings.  How does the maximization of utility in these traditional senses lead to true utility maximization if they ruin lives, well-being, and whole economies and societies?


Just a thought.  Hope it helps.

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Governing In The Long Term

In the long term, the universe favors the honest, the compassionate, the sensed, and the grounded in reality.  In the human world, all power relationships depend on these things from both those who have power and those who do not.  Two-way communication is key, and finding the middle ground amongst interests is key to figuring out where the optimal solution is going to lie.  There are optimal solutions and there are many more sub-optimal or dysfunctional solutions to our societal problems.  Not all opinions are equal.  Not all people are really good at registering their self-interest in the grand context of society and the universe. And, just because you're good at getting money does not mean that you're actually sensible, sensed, compassionate, honest, or able to handle anything bigger than your own personal self.  Without these positive traits in the leadership cadre of human societies, human society as a whole is going to be lost.  We need a professional governing cadre.  We need people who are educated formally or informally in the ways of life and society to govern. 


We cannot abide crackpots and reality TV personalities to actually operate our domestic and international states of affairs.  Yet this is who we have as governors of our American society at the very least.  This is who governs our world from both sides of the official aisle.  These are the people who are mean-spirited, who are so wrapped up in delusion that they don't know or care to know what is real and what isn't.  These are the people we've elected to office.  And American society will pay the price for its stupidity and gullibility in choosing elected officials.

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The Oath

I am only human.  Regardless of what I think I am now or what I may have been in a previous life, or what I may be in a future life, I am only human.  Without this comprehension and acceptance on my part, I will be nothing more than a delusional infant, grasping at grandeur and receiving only shame and scorn in return.  I cannot pledge to be perfect.  I cannot pledge to do all, know all, practice all things perfectly, or even be a success in this lifetime.  But what I can pledge is that I will always attempt to do my best by other people; to work hard in order to provide that which is needed at the appropriate time in the appropriate place, in the appropriate way.  I can pledge that I will always stop to listen to and for the needs of the people I interact with and balance them against the interests of the common whole that is humanity and the environment in which we live.  I can pledge that I will always be there to love, protect, serve, and, if necessary and possible, to save humanity from itself and to bring about written laws in accordance with natural law, the conditions that are present, and the effects that will likely be realized from following one course of action or preference over another.  I will pledge to work hard to learn what is needed, how things actually work, and how to satisfy those needs as best as I can with what I'm able to perceive.  I am only human and will only be able to do what I am able to do.  With these words I seal my fate as an administrator and a person to the fate of the human societ(ies) in which I'm working, for which I'm working.  I testify that there are no valid laws other than the natural laws of cause, effect, and condition which matter.  All other opinions, beliefs, written laws, and senses of authority are merely capricious in nature and are simply the babblings of ego that will dissipate in the universe as the universe and species evolves, grows, and becomes more self-aware.  With all my lives, past, present, and future, I make this pledge onto you, the individual beings of the universe to do my best.  Take it for what you will.

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The American public and, indeed, the American citizen is the ultimate cause of all problems within the American social system.  It is because of citizen demand for sub-optimal policy choices, sold to them by shills and shysters, that we get sub-optimal policy choices in our society which then tarnishes our entire nation and our viability as a country.  It is through their democratic voice, or lack of giving a voice, that we get the dysfunctional policy choices that we get, which then sets our nation, our society, and our world backwards and degrades the overall quality of life and well-being for the general public.  Unless a new leadership emerges to counter the incorrect and sub-optimal policy recommendations of our current leadership gives and to rise above the idiotic, the delusional, the misinformed, and the ignorant elements within our society, we are never going to be able to achieve the optimal quality of life we could potentially achieve with what we've presently got.

A democratic society is good for holding leaders to account.  However, the quality of that role depends largely upon the quality of the citizens' abilities to make choices for themselves on the collective and individual level.  If the ability of the public is compromised by leadership elements or by their own human fallibility, the system breaks down, and those moments of light which democracy brings forth may not be worth the long term costs of having a generally erratic and temperamental, incoherent, and not necessarily inclusive method of reaching decisions.  Like any relationship, it takes intelligent and sensed decision making by both partners in order to achieve optimal results.  Failure to do so will result in collapse, catastrophe, or else otherwise mediocre performance by the society.

Quite honestly, if a government and its members are able to know their own interests accurately, and are otherwise able to achieve them effectively, a hybrid of democracy and dictatorship becomes the preferable option in the long term, due to the stability of a well-functioning leadership who manipulates the society to positive ends and is affirmed by the society for doing a genuinely positive job at governing.  Knowing what the people need and want is a significant piece of the governing puzzle.  However, a too much chaos in the system leaves it destabilized in the long term. Too many voices with irrelevant or harmful ideas and methods of going about things will bring down the entire system, or else, make it significantly more difficult to achieve the fundamentals of survival, let alone, the ability to thrive as a society of individuals.

This is the ultimate conundrum of society.  While I agree that voting and access to the governing should be cheap and easy, I also think that not everything or everyone should be listened to.  Opinions are not, after all, equal in common reality.  A person may believe in the geocentric universe quite honestly.  However, all evidence points to it being quite an incorrect view of how the universe is and how it works.  The same principles apply in the world of policy, even if we're less clear about what actually is happening and how things actually are and are working.  A person may believe in a policy or in a method of organizing and managing a government and a society.  However, even though it may be possible to implement those ideas, it doesn't mean that it's an actually beneficial, healthy, or sustainable thing or set of things to do.  You can eat doughnuts everyday, all day for months and years.  However, just because you can, doesn't mean that you should and, quite honestly, it will lead to your death much sooner than it otherwise may have been, thanks to all of the health problems that it creates.  A society can operate on fossil fuels for energy or with the wealth being concentrated in the hands of a few with the democratic processes otherwise shut down to anything opposing the immediate desires of the elite.  However, that doesn't mean that a society should operate and function in such a condition and, having things be as such, the lifetime of the society will be shortened due to environmental and social pressures (assuming that no additional external catastrophes happen along the way).  This is going to be a moment of absolution for our society throughout these coming years and decades.  I don't know how we're going to do with the present set of socially illiterate people at the helms of our societies and the bumbling, incompetent nature of the general public to compound the problems that we're facing.


That's all I've got to say for now.  A shame I don't have better news to give.  I wish I could do something about it.  However, I need the permission of the society and its leadership in order to do that.


Shame, things were starting to look so cool.

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Social Administration

The goal of a social leader is to deliver the best policies and qualities of programs that are possible, not to advocate for their own side or perspective or perceived interests. If you want to stay in power reliably and sustainably, you will be on the constant search for truth, reality, and ways to achieve optional social health, well-being, and quality of life for other people. Your comfort and convenience and position comes second if you're interested in preserving your power and your institutions. That's the lesson from history and psychology. Like it or lump it, it's still going to hold for those who have it wish to be in power. 



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The Evolutionary Division Bell

Conservatives are nothing really more than the lesser evolved members of our species. Angrier, culturally chauvinistic, more attentive to satisfying their base urges (in spite of denying and attempting badly to suppress them), less able to grasp complexity and ambiguity, and more delusional to boot. It seems to be universal across the species throughout cultures, times, and geographic spaces, and it's all thanks to their brains, nothing more, and nothing less.

Why are we continuing to listen to these people? I'm not even sure they'd count as being fully human, considering their mental states and brain functions. To me, being a human being is more than just the physical traits and our baseline mental and emotional capacities. To me, being human is also about the higher level content and outpourings from the brain into the larger world around us. A money-grubbing corporate executive or investor may be human in every other way, were it not for the constant grubbing for cash behavior that they exhibit. Likewise, a brutish conservative may have some aspects of a physical human, except for those parts which we don't see except as the emergent behavior from their physical brains. I think we are at a cross-roads in our species, where we will, eventually, break off from each other due to our incompatibility to work together as a common society of progressives and conservatives. I think there will continue to be much blending and much gray area (such is how evolution works until the differences branch off from one another). Indeed, if the universe is as I suspect it might be, we could be headed for a division of consciousness itself within our universe, where those who have more progressive brains will move on from this current state onto another while those with more conservative brains will stay back and degrade until they compose the whole and, eventually, dwindle and die off due to their inability and unwillingness to adapt, work with new knowledge, and accept and work with those who are superficially different from themselves.

Remember folks, the conservatives are the ones who still, literally, think that trickle down economics (or some form thereof) actually is a viable method for organizing a society and an economy, that the environment isn't something we need to be concerned about, and that brutish war is the only solution to our problems throughout the larger world. They neglect the role and need of government, live in delusional worlds of their own creation that have no basis in reality, and then lash out at others for calling them out about it. In light of all these facts (and they are, undeniably, facts), what is the point of listening to them? What is the point of making sure that they stay alive in spite of themselves and their actions? Why should we accept them as the burdens that they are on society at large and, more importantly, on the individual living, working, and dying in society?

Just a thought. I'm not sure about what to do about them either except label them as dangers to themselves and dangers to others. Even then, the most we could practically do to help them would be to leave them alone and let them isolate and die off on their own until they actually come to terms with how poorly their brains are actually functioning relative to common reality for their own sake and benefit, if they do. It would be ethical for us to help them with psychiatric care. But, there is the practical problem of trying to corral those who have overly armed themselves. Therefore, just don't listen to them or vote for their candidates.

The world's society suffers while conservatives are present and active within it. They are little more than the lice which, apparently, we must meditate and live with until they die off, if they die off on this plane of existence. My only wish is that they go to places that are more beneficial and appropriate for their mentalities until they are ready to rejoin the human species as actual humans, not as brutish chimp-people. The division bell is ringing in the universe. We will go to wherever we lead ourselves through our actions and choices. Just practice kindness and wisdom and you will be ok. Otherwise, enjoy your time here, and please stop hurting yourself.

That is all.

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Many in Emerging and Developing Nations Disconnected from Politics

Many in Emerging and Developing Nations Disconnected from Politics | It Comes Undone-Think About It |
Most vote in elections, but few engage in other kinds of political participation or think those forms are effective. Publics overwhelmingly say that government officials do not care what they think.

Via Marianne Castiglia
Eli Levine's insight:

This is, I think, a hallmark of societies without history of democratic governance as we know it in the West.  The logic isn't there amongst the public and the people just go about their lives, regardless of which among them is presently in charge, for better or for worse.  The problem with these systems and logic is that the society in question languishes for long periods of time, punctuated by periods of rebellion, overthrow, and general chaos when peoples' tipping point gets reached.  It is safer and far less expensive in the long run, I think, to simply do a good job managing and working with your people than it is to go through periods of chaos, anarchy, and no government.  The trouble is, is that humans psychologically will more likely take lull periods for granted and slip back into their lowest common complacent mannerisms.  As people's interests in the problems fade, so too will the leadership's, regardless of how actually serious and pressing it is for the given society.  Such is the sad state of humanity in our current chimpish form.


Bearing in mind though, that it's not like we're too much better here in the US.  Our people don't vote usually, especially not in smaller state and local elections where they can have an impact on how they live and what gets done in their localities.  Therefore, can it truly be said that we're "better" than those who are in the "developing" world?  What really makes "us" so different from "them", other than we parade ourselves like we're the best of the best without having any real justification for those claims?


Silly people.....

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A Brief Teaching on Power

To believe that power is about brute force and physical might is to misunderstand power and to deeply misunderstand human psychology, human needs, and human motivations.  it is true that you can get a lot of what you want with force for a short period of time.  However, it also is true that that method of gaining is typically short lived, superficial, and frankly inconsistent with human needs,and human wants.  Al Capone may have had a kind word and a gun.  However, it is the unarmed peasant from Nazareth who preached peace and kindness who holds more influence over the hearts and minds of people throughout the world than any other figure in the history of humanity.  The same can be said for Confucius, Lao Tzu, Buddha, Muhammad, Krishna, and all other enlightened beings who struck the right chord at the right time in the collective and individual psyche of humanity.

That's what history has borne out, constantly and consistently, and across all cultures.  You cannot force a person to be who they aren't or to do things against their wishes and perceived needs for very long or with much hope of preserving a long lasting relationship with them.  People need to buy into the power dynamic themselves; voluntarily accepting it and believing in it in order for it to really hold peoples' attention for very long or very deeply.  The Authority has no authority when no one recognizes it as having it.  God is only God because we've identified that unifying concept as such; the government and its members only have governing authority because the society and the people who live in it are willing and/or able to accept it and its members decisions.  Take away that perception of authority, point out that the Emperor has no clothes, and the entire social system breaks down at society's ultimate expense.

Therefore, those who receive power are dependent upon those who give power and vice versa.  It's a relationship in which those who take power act and those who give power respond accordingly to their own patterns, preferences, choices, and actions.  The burden of action rests with those who take power.  They're the ones who create the reality in which we all live through their actions, choices, perceptions, conceptions, and decisions.  The rest is just the echo of those actions, reverberating for better and worse, depending upon the intent, effectiveness, and correctness of those who receive power from others.  The people who govern create their own heavens and their own Hells through their actions, choices, perceptions, conceptions, and decisions; something that is highly neglected in American society and in American culture.  Receiving power is not an end game.  Rather, it is only the beginning of a long, arduous, complicated, and messy process, especially if it is not handled well by those who have sought to have it.

In conclusion, brute force will only get you part of the way, perhaps none of the way, to achieving the ultimate goal of everlasting power.  The only way to ensure perpetual acceptance of governance or you as the one with the technical power is through sound knowledge and comprehension of the system(s) with which you are working, sincere benevolence actually effective care directed at the other, not your own self, and a willingness to adapt to mistakes and changes in need.  Otherwise, society will be lost, and the world will descend into chaos and anarchy we haven't experienced yet.  Only those who have never experienced anarchy or a deficit of governmental presence really want those things.  A shame that those who are in power don't get the concept of honest, open, effective, and actually benevolent governance for their own sakes.

Have pity on the American society, for they do not know what they're actually doing to themselves and to others.  Silly people.

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Anatomy of a Smart City

Anatomy of a Smart City | It Comes Undone-Think About It |

The 19th century was a century of empires, 20th century was a century of nation states and the 21st century will be a century of cities...


This outstanding infographic (courtesy of begins with some information about our current state of urbanization.


Did you know that 1.3 million people are moving to cities each week?! It then explains the need for smart cities and delves into what is required to establish these intelligent connected environments, how the smart city may take various forms in the developing worlds and what specific technologies are necessary to achieve such grand goals in practice.

Via Lauren Moss
Eli Levine's insight:

There is an evolution taking place where politics, policy, technology, the environment, and the economy all intersect. This movement towards technical, empirically driven local policy making could be our saving grace.This could be the future of government.

luiy's curator insight, December 18, 2014 4:31 AM

We have been grateful to the wide array of planners, architects, techies, entrepreneurs and students of the built environment who have joined us on this journey. And the ‘Smart City‘ has featured again and again, whether it be a futurologist’s insights into the bionic, nature-centric adaptable cities of the future, or an economist’s keen ideas on instilling happiness in the built environment.

Russell R. Roberts, Jr.'s curator insight, December 19, 2014 2:10 AM

A stunning infographic which predicts how urban living will change in this century.  Our age is truly becoming "a century of smart cities."  Exciting times lie ahead.  Aloha, Russ.

Paul Aneja - eTrends's curator insight, December 22, 2014 6:51 PM

What do you think makes a smarter city?

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China Trade, Outsourcing and Jobs: Growing U.S. trade deficit with China cost 3.2 million jobs between 2001 and 2013, with job losses in every state

China Trade, Outsourcing and Jobs: Growing U.S. trade deficit with China cost 3.2 million jobs between 2001 and 2013, with job losses in every state | It Comes Undone-Think About It |
Since China entered the World Trade Organization in 2001, the massive growth of trade between China and the United States has had a dramatic and negative effect on U.S. workers and the domestic economy.
Eli Levine's insight:

What's good for individual businesses in the financial short run is terrible for them, the economy, and the society in the holistic long run. Just because it's more profitable doesn't mean it's actually going to be good for people, the environment, it the economy outside of business profits.  It's not rocket science. 


Silly society. 

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On Civic Tech and Participation

If you want political participation by the public, the transaction cost of participation in democracy has to be lowered in order to accommodate peoples' needs, wishes, and tastes.  Conservatives and ideologues from either side will not want this to happen, nor will the Established Left be all too happy about it (because then they might actually be held accountable to their actions, for a change).  A good legislator, public executive, or administrator should be able to work well under the potential threat of being removed from office due to poor performance.  It is both in the interests of the governed and the governing to preserve this confidence, trust, and legitimacy.  Without it, the whole social system will break down, something no one who has actually lived through would ever want.  Anarchy and Libertarianism are nice in theory, but terrible in practice, just as a centrally planned Socialist economy is, likewise, a bad idea in actual practice.

Therefore, I encourage all governments to adopt technology to enable non-violent and relatively energy cheap feedback from the general public, in order to see what's needed, what's working well, and what's working poorly.  The data should be readily available for researchers and the public alike.  It's true that filtering methods will have to be installed in order to weed out the nonsense that people will give.  But in general, a functional society will have a government whose services are easy to access, enables substantive feedback from the general public, and holds officials accountable for their actions and choices while in office.  Without that, the social order will break down, and only the Anarchists and Libertarians will be temporarily happy (until they realize how necessary the social order is for their own individual well-being and health).


It is time that we give up on the childish ideological beliefs and preferences and focus on what it is that we actually need and could want, as human beings, and how to best accomplish those needs and wants without doing ourselves harm in the short or long term.  It is time that we adopt science at the core of our governing philosophy.  Without it, governing officials will not understand their interests and roles as governing officials, and will more likely make costly mistake choices that will harm themselves and the public alike.  We seriously can do better as a society and as a species.  I know it.

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The Cost-Effective Evolution

Believe it or not, I do not think that the current turbulence that is gripping America over police brutality and racism will be the straw that breaks the camel's back.  Change will only come in America with an organized, deliberate, and highly motivated crowd of people, not with just a bunch of citizens in the streets.  We have two options: we can either organize for votes and take a non-violent approach, or we can organize for war against the existing government.  Personally, I would recommend the former rather than the latter, mainly because I see the system as being ok, just really really really badly and incompetently operated by amateurs in power.  The other way would throw the baby out with the bath water, and leave us with the long and incredibly difficult and uncertain path of creating new institutions that no one is going to agree upon, resulting in civil war and conflict for an undefined period of time, with no guarantees that we'll get anything good from it in the end after fighting, bloodshed, and war.

The beauty about this whole situation is that it can go down with no one losing their lives, no one losing their dignity and, conceivably, very very few people losing their jobs as a result of the transition towards a new LOGIC of government and a more accurately defined set of SELF-interests for the governing parties in question.  The United States has never really had a purpose defined for its government clearly, and quite honestly, there are a lot of people who, unfortunately, reach back at the past to inform their present rather than looking to the actual present and possible future implications of that present.  I propose that it is in the self-interests of the governing to maintain, preserve, work with, and adapt to the changing needs and wishes of the public itself outside of government.  It doesn't matter what ideological bent you have, because all ideologies are irrelevant unless they are backed up by scientific facts and truths about our common reality, derived from the systematic and rigorous study of our common reality (not from the mandates or dictates of the researchers).  To ignore common reality or to not believe in common reality is to live in a fantasy world where you will not see or realize the walls that are around you and the consequences of your actions before it is too late.  To persistently ignore or not believe in common reality is to be mentally ill, as it poses a danger to yourself and a danger to others for you to be allowed into places of power, consequence, authority, and responsibility.  Things either are, aren't, or are something different than what we think.  There are no four ways about it.  Period.

In short, we will not topple the system as it stands this time, I don't think.  The most that will happen will be that a lot of people will get arrested, hurt, or killed in the confrontations between police and citizens until the municipal governments and municipal police authorities, in coordination with the state and federal governments intervenes on the side of the citizenry.  If the governments fail to deal with this problem, it will only deepen the mistrust and add credence to the notion that our political leaders are impotent, uncaring, incompetent, genuinely clueless, and/or genuinely unfit for power, consequence, and authority and only serve to justify and give credence to those who wish to violently overthrow the government, its members, and destroy the institutions which really could help rather than hurt us.  The TRUTH of the matter, is that governing institutions are only as good and effective as the people you staff them with.  Unfortunately, the American public has dropped the ball on picking good leadership cadres through poor voting choices or not voting for good ones.  The ideological differences that divide us are irrelevant, for there is only one common reality and only one set of complex, convoluted, and hidden truths to this universe that, eventually, boils down to change, and nothing else.  We should work to discover the truths of our society, our economy, and our ecosystems, such that we don't do harm to ourselves through doing harm to these aspects of our universe and, perhaps, even discover how to do sustainable good for ourselves.  If you want to live and get rid of the ne'er-do-wells, get organized, start moving in the streets, and start voting and running for office separate from the PACs and super PACs.  Get reasoned and reasonable people who live in the real world to be in office; people who understand the limitations of knowing the real world and who actively search for those truths in order to actually help people. That's called being apart of the solution.  To join with violence, to join with the Libertarian or conservative causes, to join with ideologues and vapid progressives; the people who are in the system itself now, is to be apart of the problem.  What are you going to do, Americans?  Be apart of the solution and change the mother-effing system with the tools that you all have, or remain incoherent and incompetent, or beholden to your abusers or go rouge against that which you actually need and benefit from as an individual?  It's your choice, as it's always been.  It wouldn't have gotten this bad if you all had made better choices.

Silly country.  Silly people.

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A Way Forward

Governments need data. Without understanding what they're doing and how they're impacting the world around them, they are at a loss. Money gets wasted, people get upset or hurt or killed, and it becomes harder to justify the presence of the existing government members along with the existing institutions of government themselves. It is in the existential interests of a government of any type or order to get their work right. Therefore, we need to know what data to collect, what data is relevant to society's well-being, and how to generally model societies and economies through data relationships and networks of connectivity. Above all, we need comprehensive models of societies' working parts; the anatomies of societies and economies in order to understand how they work and how they are connected to the base units, which are people like yourself. We then interfaces with our environment, which then interfaces with ourselves, one influencing the other.  


Therefore, it would be wise if we devoted more of our societal resources towards understanding how societies, economies, and ecosystems work and how we can operate as individual human beings, such that we can understand how we work as societies and how we move and change depending upon our internal and external conditions.  I see a massive push for research in these ares involving historians, statisticians, computer scientists, economists, sociologists, political scientists, psychologists, neurologists, and government officials.  This would be step one towards making a coherent comprehension of our societies and economies and ecology, such that we can make effective policies, laws, and programs in accordance with the natural laws and conditions of our world.  


It should be noted that the government would have to be the one producing this public good, since there is no apparent interest or desire from the free market to birth this knowledge.  There is no immediate financial profit to it, and therefore, the market will not likely pursue this knowledge other than for a business perspective.  This has to be done though in order to crack the puzzle of perpetual power, sustainability, and positive social conditions that can make lives able to be better for all of us.


Just some thoughts.

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A Thought

As a society becomes managed better, life in government becomes more complicated and life in society becomes more simple. As life in government gets simpler, life in society gets more complicated. The trick is to strike a reasoned balance between the two so that life in government becomes feasible and effective while life in society balances between being engaging and being healthful.


Consider two extreme states: anarchy and totalitarianism.  In one, the government is absent, making its level of complexity 0.  However, in such a state, society and its members lack organization, have no means of redress and life essentially reverting to a brutish system of overlordship by whomever is the physically strongest and able to repel all challengers.  There is no accountability, even though it logically seems that a new order emerges from the ashes of the collapsed old order in real life away from the hypothetical scenario of anarchy.


Now we can consider totalitarianism.  Under such circumstances everything is controlled by the government.  Complexity would have to be near approaching 1 (for shorthand) as the day to day operations of enforcing and maintaining everything becomes so complex and unattainable that the system collapses in real life.  The job of managing society is too great for any government, and we once again see the collapse of this hypothetical extreme state in common reality.


What then is likely to happen is that societies will adopt some level of government in between 0 and 1 on this hypothetical complexity scale for the managing of their affairs on a daily basis.  A word of caution would need to be inserted as the quality, objective, and effectiveness of the government would also have to be considered as additional axes for determining the overall effectiveness and outcomes that will actually be realized as a result of governments' policies and actions.  Obviously the extremes of all must be avoided due to their inability to generate anything positive.  There are also different combinations of values on these axes that are feasible depending upon the cultural preferences and condition of the given society.  However, there are most certainly undesirable combinations of each of these values for every member of society due to their instability and inability to enable a society and government to survive well, let alone thrive.


I believe that the key combinations of these axes enable people in societies to thrive while also maintaining a human need for engagement and autonomy in life.  This then gets paired with what is feasible, practical, acceptable, and appropriate for the government to do in any given time and condition.  Ultimately, there is are solutions to the problems that societies are faced with that governments need to either coordinate efforts for or deal with directly.  All of this is conditional upon the changing conditions in societies, our environments, and our knowledge of how things are and can be in the universe.  The key to all this is the willingness and ability to adapt to new and changing conditions.  Without that initial capability, all is lost, and the most we can hope for is to occasionally come up with winning combinations every once and awhile, if at all.


Frankly, I think we're running out of time to do a successful overhaul of our governing systems, primarily due to lack of will on top and potentially down below in our governing systems.  Too much money is fouling the political game, not enough consideration or care for the people of society who compose the actual society.  Too much emphasis on ideals and ideologies, not enough focus on the actual mechanics of economies and societies.


Pity everyone, for we will be paying the price for these mistakes.



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Bill Mitchell: Demystifying Modern Monetary Theory - YouTube

In a challenge to conventional views on modern monetary and fiscal policy, Professor Bill Mitchell of Newcastle University in Australia has emerged as one of...
Eli Levine's insight:

At the root of true conservative government, there is a malfeasance towards the larger social and environmental world that is toxic to both the collective and to the individual who is experiencing the malfeasance.  There are the ideologues, for sure, who genuinely believe that what they're doing is actually a positive thing for everyone.  But then there are those who are just so overwhelming wrapped up in their own bs that they either don't see or won't see the costs that come from destroying the social or environmental systems. 


In short, true conservatives are just plain mean, and ideological conservatives are just plain misguided.  We see it time and time again in the social, environmental, and economic science and we see it time and time again in our governments and politics.  There are fundamental, immutable truths out there that apply to economies, societies, and human well-being within the context of the social and environmental worlds.  We may not know all of the truths or how to use them to our advantages all of the time.  There could be unforeseen consequences that then require tinkering with the system in order to adapt it to the new knowledge and/or the new knowledge that is present.  But you must pay attention to natural law and to the changes that happen within the circumstances and conditions that we find ourselves.  This is precisely what is not being done by many policymakers, academics, administrators, and voters.  We cannot afford to keep on the current system that doesn't even provide for the small self in absolute or in the long term.  Conservatives and ideologues must be removed from office or they must change their behavior, attitudes, and patterns of perspective.  Otherwise, I think they belong in mental institutions where they can be treated.  It is that simple.  Trust the peanut gallery in society and government to make it more complicated than it already is.

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Darkness to Light

Take the universe in your arms, neither being above nor below it in stature.  To be in power is to enter into a perpetual and equal dialogue with those whom you are having power over.  To wield power is to do so only with the others' needs and interests at heart, for that is the only way that you receive and maintain power in a society of human beings.

You can only dominate those who will be dominated in the ways that they are willing to be dominated.  Force, fear, deception, and all other negative actions of power will not last forever, and will more likely be permanently removed from power once people get a taste of truly effective and benevolent government.

We are a world that only knows the dark.  We have people who do not know how to use and do not care to know how to use the power that is within their grasp.  We then mistakenly believe that all power is negative; that all hierarchy is a negative thing, that it is impossible to have a good, well managed, and effective state that governs and works with the general public on their behalf.  Only then can the interests of the powerful be truly sustainably and reliably achieved.  To do otherwise is to put the cart before the horse and to risk death at the hands of those whose needs and wishes you perceived incorrectly.

We can actually come out of this darkness to realize something better for us all, if you'd be willing to permit it to happen.  We cannot get bogged down in talk of political parties, ideology, or personal interests ahead of what is actually needed for the society, as determined and expressed by the society.  We can do so much better than has been done in the past, if the past would only have a little self-respect and decency toward itself.  Our governments can do better, both within and amongst themselves in the national context and the international context.  If only our past wouldn't hold us back.

Silly demons.

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Return Of Debtors' Prison. Many 99% still jailed for inability to pay fines/debts VIDEO REPORT

Return Of Debtors' Prison.  Many 99% still jailed for inability to pay fines/debts VIDEO REPORT | It Comes Undone-Think About It |


                                               VIDEO REPORT

                                 PBS Newshour, December 27, 2014


Cities across the country are increasingly turning to what are known as private probation companies to collect unpaid fines. But are indigent people ending up in jail because they can't afford to pay? Since NewsHour Weekend's first story on this issue aired last spring, the Childersburg Municipal Court issued a “standing order” stating that “In no case shall an indigent defendant be incarcerated … based solely on his or her inability to pay fines.” But the practice continues elsewhere in the country. Special correspondent John Carlos Frey takes an in-depth look at what some are calling the return of the debtors' prison. Continue reading →

Alternet, June 13, 2014
-▶  DEADLY NEW DEBTOR'S PRISONS:  PENNSYLVANIA MOTHER DIES IN JAIL FOR TRUANCY FINES. CRIMINALIZING POVERTY.  If you thought debtors prison was something straight out of Charles Dickens—and something long ago left behind us—think again. Debtors prison is becoming  very much a part of the American prison-industrial complex.

August 8, 2013 Daily Kos:



                           UNFORGIVEN : THE LONG LIFE OF DEBT
       Old Debts, Fresh Pain: Weak Laws Offer Debtors Little Protection
Critics say the 1968 federal law that allows collectors to take 25 percent of debtors’ wages, or every penny in their bank accounts, is out of date and overly harsh.

More »


ProPublica, September 15, 2014
-▶  UNSEEN TOLL:  WAGES OF MILLIONS SEIZED TO PAY PAST DEBTS. A new study provides the first-ever tally of how many employees lose up to a quarter of their paychecks over debts like unpaid credit card or medical bills and student loans.


Truthdig, December 22, 2013
-▶ LOCKING UP POOR PEOPLE IN CORPORATE AMERICA IS BOOMING "Aramark, often contracted to provide food to prisoners at about a dollar a meal, is one of numerous corporations, from phone companies to construction firms, that have found our grotesque system of mass incarceration to be very profitable."


YES Magazine, June 04 2014

-▶  A MODERN-DAY DEBTORS PRISON? JUDGES PUSH BACK AGAINST THE SOUTH' PRIVATIZATION WAVE: In Southern states, small-town courts have outsourced probation management to for-profit companies charging fees out of reach to the country's poorest residents. Many people end up in jail for nonpayment. These judges want private companies out of their courts. PRIVATIZING PROBATION AND PROFITING FROM POVERTY


Brave New Films


American Civil Liberties Union, February 06, 2014



                                   TO PRISON FOR POVERTY

                                             Brave New Films


Huffington Post UK, July 03, 2014



                                    "WHO PROFITS FROM POVERTY?"




Truthout, December 27, 2013
-▶ THE GRAYING OF OUR INCARCERATION NATION -  Our prisons have increasingly become homes for the aging, as there are now some 125,000 prisoners age 55 or older, nearly quadruple the number there were in 1995. ..


                                       VIDEO REPORT (Full Episode)
                            Al Jazeera America, November 01, 2014
                               "DYING INSIDE: ELDERLY IN PRISON"


The Atlantic, October 30, 2014
-▶ INNER-CITY VIOLENCE IN THE AGE OF MASS INCARCERATION. Harsh criminal-justice policies have thrown America's poorest urban communities into chaos


Alertnet, November 25, 2013



                                          A PLAGUE OF PRISONS

                 The Epidemiology of Mass Incarceration in America

                                             Alternet, April 13, 2013



                                      CRUSHING COLLEGE DEBT

                                     A TRILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS






More than half of U.S. fast food workers on public aid, report says




                            JAILING AMERICANS FOR PROFIT    

                        THE RISE OF THE BILLION DOLLAR




PolicyMic, December 2, 2014


                                            KIDS FOR CASH


                          JUVENILE JUSTICE SCANDALS


                                         PRIVATIZING EVERYTHING

                            THE PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP




Via pdjmoo
Eli Levine's insight:

Welcome to America.  We chose this path.  Now, we're going to have to walk it until enough people are angry enough and organized enough to effectively change the course of our society and our nation.


Absolutely disgusting, in my honest opinion.  Absolutely disgusting.

pdjmoo's curator insight, January 7, 5:34 AM







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The Great Split of Consciousness

I hypothesize that the universe is about to go through another split, just as it may have done when the physical universe was born.  This time, it may be consciousness that will split on this plane of existence and form into two or more universes.  Those who are grounded in reality, who are more compassionate, caring, kind, benevolent, and wise will more likely move in one direction while those who are not really these things will move in another, with room for possibly other branches of the cosmological tree of consciousness to branch off as well.  It doesn't matter if you're the "last one standing" in this present universe because consciousness, I think, is something that transcends physical death and decay.  What does matter is the content of your mind now; the workings, preferences, beliefs, and actions, that will either lead you to becoming more human or move you away to a different form of life elsewhere in the universe for the time being.  It is possible to make choices within the bounds of your biological and circumstantial limitations.  However, those choices are dependent upon countless past choices, preferences, desires, actions, etc.  So, while you have a choice and a possibility to make choices other than what you've made in the past, it still is limited by habituation, circumstance, and condition.

I think that the universe is convulsing with something at this moment.  And, I think, all that really matters is what you do with the present situation and the present condition that will either ensure that you move on, clarify, advance, and continue on, or, move on to another universe and mental state that will make it harder for you to practice.  You have the power, now, to make or break yourself.  However, you are limited by all of your past actions, past habits, and present circumstances that you come into touch with through your past actions.  Therefore, be kind to yourself, and make that better decision today.  If that's not a good enough reason, then do it for all the people you care about in this lifetime.  If that isn't good enough, do it for all living beings and all of the universe ad infinitum and beyond (which is, ironically, just yourself to begin with).

Enjoy the split.

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The Shifting Yet Always Present Walls in Existence

The only thing that businesspeople seem to be good at is grubbing for money.  They don't seem to really get or truly relate to what people need biologically, socially, and ecologically and many certainly appear to not get how to relate to others effectively in power relationships beyond simplistic force and coerced submission.  All they seem to think about is where the next big windfall is coming from, not unlike the animals who walk amongst us.  The only difference is that the animals crave that which they need to survive.  Businesspeople only crave the shadow of that which they need to survive.

Furthermore, competition in business yields only the best competitors in business, not necessarily the best leaders for a given society and time period.  In order to truly get at who is the genuinely most effective leaders for a society, the parameters of competition and the outcome that is expected to be achieved needs to be carefully defined and constantly updated to match with the whole condition of society.  What worked yesterday will not necessarily work tomorrow, just as the clothing that is worn in one season will not be comfortable in another.  There may be only a finite amount of possibilities in this universe for us to handle.  But any one of those finite situations can come into existence given the right conditions, and every one of them may be something we have never encountered before entirely.  All of these things are glossed over by the elite business community in the name of brutish competition over that which they don't really need for well-being and survival.

Thus is the inferiority of the business and investor classes.  At heart, they truly only seem concerned with exploiting demand in the market.  While that may be all well and good for developing technology and innovation, it lacks the care, effectiveness, responsiveness, and attentiveness to that which is needed for the preservation of the root of society they derive profit from within the context of the universe in which we all have to live in.  To say otherwise is to branch off into a mental universe of one's own creation, not unlike the symptoms of those with schizophrenia and other neurological problems.  There is only one universe.  That's it.  No arguments can really be leveled against the grand, complicated, and complex truth of this universe (which no human ever has or ever will grasp entirely).  We might as well accept this fact, acknowledge it, and learn about that which we can learn about for our own survival and ability to thrive.  Adjustments have to be made sometimes in order to make our lives happier, healthier, and more sustainable.  This is the general way of the universe, backed up by history and the cosmos itself.  Break it?  Can't.  Not really.  Prove it wrong with abstract arguments?  You'll only make a fool out of yourself, and potentially a dead one at that.  The walls are there.  Might as well learn them than just branch off where-ever and whenever we'd like.

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Wealth and the Role of Government

Wealth that only begats wealth is an anathema to a functional economy and a healthy society. When wealth is only being capitalized financially rather than invested, consumed, or saved in productive and sustainable capital it ceases to be of value to society. Many people, acting together,  need to be able to invest, consume, or save sustainably and ethically in order to produce a healthy society, an stable and ethical economy, and a sustainable environment. A business is just concerned about its own profits. A government needs to be concerned about the whole society and its long term health and well-being if the businesses are going to survive with the rest of the society. That's the interests of the government and its members. That's the government's overall role in society, if the government is going to be working on its own behalf. 

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The Essence of Positive Government and Governing

The essence of the correct ways to govern is to 1) always be flexible and open to the real conditions that are present in spite of how uncomfortable, upsetting, or unlikely they may be and 2) to always be willing and able to do what is actually in the best interests of everyone, even if you personally may take a hit for it.  Specifics of policy choices are all negotiable to a point where there are some things that are objectively less healthy and some things that are objectively more healthy.  The goal of a policy researcher is to identify the condition and proper response to any given situation that may arise within the context of the social, economic, environmental, political, and technological system of systems.  Changing how we look and analyze a given situation will change the outcomes that are achieved.  The ends justify the means, however, the means affect which ends are actually achieved.  Always focus on the means relative to the situation, and be sure that the ends that you're trying to achieve are actually healthful, beneficial, and worth fighting for.

Our neurology hasn't yet evolved to the point where we can actually say that we can manage or comprehend the full complex of the system of systems.  There are many people out there who honestly have malfunctioning neurons; people who don't know, don't care to know, and refuse to know that which is actually in their personal interests relative to the system of systems.  Some of these people have managed to reach incredibly influential positions in our societies, which then degrades the overall quality of the networks for everyone, including themselves.  The fact that the rest of the social system is not fighting back en masse to remove these pathological personalities and other countries and in the United States is symptomatic of a much deeper lethargy at work that could lead to the undoing of anything and everything that we value and cherish and need for surviving, while not eliminating the root causes of what's behind our current lethargy and social domination by pathologically sick people. These folks have prioritized what is significant for their survival poorly and who use destructive means to achieve their unsustainable and unreasoned ends.  Therefore, they should be treated as the mentally ill and removed from office by force if necessary to receive treatment that they are in apparent need of.  We are moving to a tipping point in American society and, therefore, the world's society.  I doubt that the American people will rise to the occasion to institute more enlightened government and put people who are frankly just better at actually governing into office.


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The retail market as a complex system

Aim of this paper is to introduce the complex system perspective into retail market analysis. Currently, to understand the retail market means to search for local patterns at the micro level, involving the segmentation, separation and profiling of diverse groups of consumers. In other contexts, however, markets are modelled as complex systems. Such strategy is able to uncover emerging regularities and patterns that make markets more predictable, e.g. enabling to predict how much a country’s GDP will grow. Rather than isolate actors in homogeneous groups, this strategy requires to consider the system as a whole, as the emerging pattern can be detected only as a result of the interaction between its self-organizing parts. This assumption holds also in the retail market: each customer can be seen as an independent unit maximizing its own utility function. As a consequence, the global behaviour of the retail market naturally emerges, enabling a novel description of its properties, complementary to the local pattern approach. Such task demands for a data-driven empirical framework. In this paper, we analyse a unique transaction database, recording the micro-purchases of a million customers observed for several years in the stores of a national supermarket chain. We show the emergence of the fundamental pattern of this complex system, connecting the products’ volumes of sales with the customers’ volumes of purchases. This pattern has a number of applications. We provide three of them. By enabling us to evaluate the sophistication of needs that a customer has and a product satisfies, this pattern has been applied to the task of uncovering the hierarchy of needs of the customers, providing a hint about what is the next product a customer could be interested in buying and predicting in which shop she is likely to go to buy it.


The retail market as a complex system
Pennacchioli D, Coscia M, Rinzivillo S, Giannotti F, Pedreschi D
EPJ Data Science 2014, 3 :33 (11 December 2014) ;

Via Complexity Digest
Eli Levine's insight:

With this knowledge and insight into the world that's dawning.  One world must be destroyed in order for the new world to come forth; one segment of society must give way to the new in order to facilitate and ease this transition.


The top of society is where and what determines the ease or the possibility of this transition.  That is the point that needs to be altered in order to bring about this new dawn.  


Unfortunately, it is the point in society that is least willing, although most capable of change.  They'll cling to illusions and delusions of relative power over people and unsustainable material wealth than allow for everyone, including themselves, to realize something that could truly be wonderful for our lives, our well-being, and our health as living organisms.  This is before we talk about the bottom-up resistance that will be experienced as well, especially if the transition is done badly by the people who are at the top of the given social unit.  A shame that something so relatively simple can be so completely complicated and complex to carry out.


Silly world.

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Reflections on an Enlightened Society

The Signs of an Enlightened Society:

1. The leadership will voluntary stand aside or devolve their powers to others when it is actually realized that their power or their chosen uses of power prove to be practically or morally incorrect.

2. Any given leadership of any given society is primarily focused on the well-being of the general public, not on the well-being of themselves as a separate entity from the public.

3.The leadership uses the scientific method to understand and comprehend the society and their social, environmental, and ecological condition accurately and to make good policy choices for the social unit(s) based on that scientific inquiry in terms of economic, social, and environmental well-being.

4. The general public is legally and practically able and willing to naturally correct the actions of the governing members such that they get their needs and wants fulfilled by the governing members.

5. The government's members will naturally and peaceably yield to the needs of the people while taking the opposite stance when the people want that which is unreasoned, unreasonable, unfeasible, or unhealthy in spite of losing power and authority to those who are less concerned with the well-being of the people.  It is from these moments of darkness that the general public can learn the benefits of having the specific leadership who governs on their empirical behalf.  Therefore, the Enlightened Society lets the sub-par leadership take over, and naturally resumes governing when it is shown that the sub-par leadership is sub-par.  If the new leadership is not sub-par, and is superior to the old leadership, then all gain in the society as a result of the presence of superior leadership in the society, including for the old leadership who still resides within that given society.  All benefit from superior leadership; none benefit from inferior leadership

The nature of an Enlightened Society is one of constant dialogue and feedback between the governed and the governing, with information being transmitted accurately and effectively to the appropriate nodes in order to maximize the well-being of the entire social unity (government included).  There is no such thing as a fully Enlightened Society, especially now at the present time, and the wealth and military power of a given society are not measures of the degree of Enlightenment that the society has achieved.

To hurt an Enlightened Society, or a society that is striving towards Enlightenment, or to harm those who are trying to get a society onto the Path of Enlightenment, is to harm one's own self, because for every instance and degree of damage that is done to the aspiring society or people is yet another obstacle for them to overcome, thus limiting that society's ability to help other society's achieve Enlightenment.  The more crap you give the aspirant society or people, the more harm that is done to your own self.  Therefore, do not hinder or harm those who are traveling along the Enlightened Path towards realizing perpetual Realization and Enlightenment, for you will suffer if they fail on top of the increased likelihood that you're going to do something unwise due to your already corrupted way of thinking, feeling, and perceiving the world.


For your own sake, do not hinder or limit those seeking Enlightenment or spiritual/ethical perfection.


Thank you.

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$6.9 Billion to be Spent on Civic Tech in 2015, Report Says

$6.9 Billion to be Spent on Civic Tech in 2015, Report Says | It Comes Undone-Think About It |
New analysis says the rise of the civic tech market has grown roots, and its growth with be 14 times faster than traditional government IT spending at the state and local levels.
Eli Levine's insight:

A new frontier is emerging in governance, government, accountability, and relations between the government at any level and the citizens of the given social unit.  Members of the government can either use this technology, get a better understanding of social needs as they evolve and fluctuate.  Or they can continue with the paternalistic "father knows best" bs, and continue to do whatever they, the members of the government want over the needs of the population.  One way will lead to a sympatico relationship between government and governed, the other will provoke the governed into a war against the government and all who support the status quo.


What's it going to be, America?  World?

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