America’s Team Pt. 5 – Conservatives and the Tanking of America

Ben's Journal, History, Moderate Proposals, Politics

A Defense of Tanking

The sole reason why the Sixers have so much (negative) attention is due to our open willingness to lose as many games as possible. We “tank” our season in order to acquire a higher probability of earning the top draft picks for the upcoming season. We planned to build the team around these draft picks based on the hope that one or two of them will grow into full-fledged stars. We lost in order to win in the long-term.

A lot of people criticized it, but there were a bunch of locals who were willing to see what happened. After all, what’s the point of being a team that was only good enough to make it to the first round of the play-offs, only to then lose? Once or twice is fine. But each and every season??? Please! Being a perennial terrible-to-mediocre team is something that the city was used to, so we felt a refreshing jolt of energy from a shameless pursuit of decrepitude. This strategy had been done often, but never as intensely as we did… and we don’t know if it will work, but at least we were trying something different!

(NOTE: The Sixers’ tanking process is not “bad for basketball”. Kevin Durant on the Golden State Warriors is. It created an impossibly gifted basketball team that could only be countered by other teams hiring their own big guns. Thus the arms race began. It thereby created a huge gap between talented teams and bad teams. The Sixers’ “#tankmode” was a strategic long-term response to this short-term era of super teams.)

Is “tanking” an effective process? I’m not sure. After all, the Sixers haven’t won anything yet. They have three potential superstars but only one of them has played at all… and my Philly weariness and wariness is preventing me from making bold and confident claims. But it certainly seems like there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

The possible prosperity that the Sixers’ organization could have does shed light on the realistic potential for success of this strategy. While the rest of the competition is focused on winning short-term, long-term success based on strategic short-term losing changes the game. It’s all about attacking the loop-holes of the rules in order to get ahead. It is, therefore, possible to apply this strategy to other facets of life.

The Theory in Politics

So there’s no cute transitional sentence that I can think of to seamlessly segue into this next thought… so here we go:

Conservatives are tanking the government! 

I know, this sounds partisan as hell. But think about the LOGIC:

  1. Conservatives hate Federal control over the states
  2. If THE PEOPLE distrust the federal government, they will be motivated to wrestle power back to the states
  3. THE PEOPLE will distrust the Federal government if the Federal government fails
  4. The Federal government fails if it is either oppressive or incompetent

Therefore

  1. To reduce the power of the Federal government, Conservatives in power need to be either incompetent or oppressive in order to ensure that it fails

This is cynical, Orwellian, and downright UNREALISTIC, right? Well, we doubted the likelihood of a Donald Trump presidency…

Considering how the Conservatives have operated and evolved over the past two decades, it IS possible that a complete kamikaze-esque operation is their over-arching strategy.

The legacy of “Reaganism” and trickle-down economics combined with a festering frustration over Federal intervention – to combat segregation – has created a strong hatred and distrust of big government by many Conservatives. Their view is: the less government interference in the daily lives of the people, the better.

Whatever. I’m not here to debate that theory. (In some instances, this theory can be beneficial.) But there has been a growing level of incompetence and buffoonery emanating from the “right” that has me asking, “this can’t be real can it?” Humanity, after all, can’t be so inept and ignorant!

Well, consider the machinations of the Republican Party. Their foundation of supporters lies within two different economic populations:

  1. Poor whites who feel like the Left is using big government to destroy institutions and jobs that supported their livelihood, in the name of “progress”
  2. Rich people who want to maintain and increase their wealth by preventing government interference in both regulating the cut-throat – and, sometimes downright unethical – free market and in implementing equitable tax policy to them

The former is the face of the party. The latter is the power of the party. The flooding of money into elections – by the wealthy few – has made puppets of so many politicians. These spineless lemmings will do whatever they have to in order to ensure that they are re-elected. This means fighting to reduce the power of the Federal government.

You still might be rolling your eyes at my theory. Totally fine! But let’s play out this hypothetical situation since, if you’re reading this still, we’ve come so far!

Say you were trying to get the people to distrust the government. You have three routes, that I can think of, to help you achieve your goal: propaganda, obstruction, and incompetence. 

Propaganda

So I was a colonial printer in a different life… literally. I wrote often of the importance of the freedom of speech and the press. An advanced society is one that allows all voices to express opinions freely. Later, we would move on to create that. GREAT… but WHAT THE FOX is going on with present-day Conservative media?! Established as a response to the “unfair bias” of the “liberal media elite”, Conservative media outlets – specifically FOX News, talk-radio, and Breitbart – have distorted and manipulated facts and figures in order to ferment a distrust and disgust amongst the conservative population.

It is not news which they report. It is unapologetic and irresponsible bias. It is propaganda.

These conservative media outlets will lie. They will cheat. They will do whatever they need to in order to make liberals, Democrats, and the Federal Government appear to be evil. It is easy to lie and cheat when they’re an outsider shouting, “Conspiracy!”. If well-respected news outlets report on the propaganda that they push out, then they have proven that they are just “part of the liberal media conspiracy,” There is no respected institution with universal credibility that can call them out on their nonsense.

How do I know that it’s propaganda? Well, they made a huge deal about whether or not Santa Clause was white… They spent 8 years attacking President Barack Obama because he had a “Muslim name”. They argued that he wasn’t American. They somehow compared him to Hitler.

They made poor whites think that all Muslims were terrorists. They made poor whites think that any sort of gun restriction meant that the government was trying to enslave them. The list continues…

One of the most egregious effects of the propaganda is the distortion of the definition for “elite”. They implied that the real “elites” were sophisticated intellectuals who wanted to destroy the country through the un-Christian policy of promoting diversity and equality. They blinded the poor white population to the fact that their biggest foe wasn’t these Progressive intellectuals, but rather the super-wealthy “elites” who were controlling the politicians…

They made being intellectual evil… and through their propaganda, they increased the distrust in the government.

Obstruction

They have the forum and platform. Whatever happened within the government, the propaganda machine is ready to target and attack. But what can be done within the government? Well, the Republican Party has been regarded for decades as being more disciplined and well-organized. And they have utilized their ranks to block government spending whenever they can.

Obstruction in itself is not egregious. It is simple politicking. Both political parties partake in this type of political obstructionism, especially when they are in the minority in Congress and have rival party member as President. I personally have no problem with obstruction coming into play in politics. I have no problem with politicians doing whatever they can to ensure that their constituents have the effective representation, which they are Constitutionally mandated to have. But Republicans have moved

However, there are several shocking examples of obstructionism that have taken Conservatives to a new degree of malice.

When Barack Obama became President, Mitch McConnell and the Republicans claimed, with open frankness, that their number one goal was to ensure the he was a one-term President. They did everything to make sure he was ineffective. They made him compromise often. They even prevented him from his Constitutional duty of selecting a new member of the Supreme Court. When there were issues, the Conservative politicians coordinated with the Conservative propaganda to shout-down how much of an incompetent and evil President he was.

Once again, I am not denying that petty political obstruction is played out on both sides of the aisle. Between the two parties, however, the obstructionism does more to positively impact the goals of the Conservatives. Through obstruction, a log-jam of ineffectual government has further alienated people from both political parties AND has increased the level of distrust of the Federal Government.

Incompetence

I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to identify the way that the Republican party has run the country over the last year as “incompetent”. After seven years of trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they finally had the majorities to do so. And they couldn’t do it. They wrote a pathetically un-comprehensive bill that no one liked. Even after last second negotiations – including an ironic promise to some that the bill would NEVER become a law… – they couldn’t pass it. They spent SEVEN years crying about how awful it was. They never thought to spend that time coming up with a viable alternative! How pathetic!

But this has become a part of the modus operandi of Conservatives. They are damn good at organizing themselves, but they are pretty terrible at running the government!

I find myself coming back to this idea that “elite” equals “sophisticated intellectual” in the eyes of Conservatives. I would often see the conservative media refer to President Obama, a Harvard Law School Graduate and Chicago University Law School Professor of Constitutional Law, as an intellectual elitist. They made it seem like it was bad to have a President with his resume.

The last few Republican presidential candidates have had to cater to the “folksiness” of their personalities in order to be electable to their political base. George W. Bush. Sarah Palin. Donald Trump. All of these figures had mass appeal to Conservatives because they didn’t speak with a high level of, for lack of a better word, intellect. They didn’t seem like they were superior to the Average Joe. To be honest, they weren’t. Bush and his “Bush-isms”. Sarah Palin and… well, everything.

Seriously, though. Can you imagine if Sarah Palin were in office? Actually don’t even bother with that exercise because we are witnessing the worst train-wreck of all, Donald Trump, day-in and day-out absolutely dismantling any and all forms of credibility and class that the United States once had.

“Donald Trump might be the single greatest accomplishment of the Conservative movement IF the single greatest priority was to cause mass incompetence and chaos into the Federal Government.”

He is their Frankenstein monster. He is THE EXAMPLE that Conservatives can point to when they want to prove how dangerous it is to have a strong central government. I mean, I’m a Federalist to the very end. I believe truly in a strong central government with a strong Presidential position… until I met Trump. In theory, the strong Presidential figure is fine, as long as the person is qualified. We have a vetting process, known as campaigns, that is supposed to weed out all of the rotten and incompetent candidates… and yet, Donald Trump…

If HE can become President, then maybe we need to reconsider trusting such massive power to the Federal government! Except, if we’re being honest, I’m still in my 12-step recovery plan after he was elected, and I’m reconsidering trusting such important power to the people as well.

Tangent on the Stigma of Intellectual Elites…

If WE, THE PEOPLE can’t even vote right, maybe we should rely on intellectual “elites” to run the country. Because I know I sure don’t want a “folksy” President or whatever the fuck Donald Trump is. I don’t want an inarticulate president. I don’t want I don’t want to sit down and play checkers with my candidate. He’ll be my candidate IF he only plays chess. Even more so, I don’t want him even to play me. I want to challenge my President and have him look me up and down and say, “Fine, but I already know how I’m going to beat you in 5 moves,” That’s my President.

I obviously know that these intellectuals would be corrupted, but DEAR GOD, ignorance is just the worst.

Conclusion

Is it really crazy to believe? I mean, anything is possible after seeing that Donald Trump election. There is such a strong fervor in this country right now. There are calls of “Resistance!” across the population, but it’s from people who are typically in favor of a strong government. When the Federalists are resisting the Government, then it feels like the foundations of the Republic are giving out. So maybe all of this is, in fact, the intention of the Conservative, little-government Tea Partiers.

Maybe I’m incorrect with this assessment. Maybe I’m biased against the illogical arguments steaming from the Tea Party wing. Maybe I’m mislabeling “incompetence” as “malevolence”. This could all be true. But if it is true and I’m wrong about the purposeful tanking of the government by Conservatives, then WHAT THE FLUFF IS GOING ON!?!?

 

 

Trust The Progress… er, I Mean “Process”

Ben's Journal, Moderate Proposals, Politics

I have often stated that I am a Progressive. I see a problem, I solve it in a simple way. I repeat. #Progress!

You have often stated that I was an insanely successful juggernaut on the pre-American landscape (I am, of course, paraphrasing…). So, how did I become so successful a Progressive? It came down to two fundamental principles.

Firstly, walk into every room and ask yourself, “how can I make it better?”. This is the staple mentality for any successful Progressive. It implies a concern for the standards of quality in regards to all elements within your vicinity that affect the livelihood of society; both people and environment alike. It also implies a motivation to ensure that those standards are met. It’s not just concern. It’s action.

The other fundamental principle to success is to move with a confidence that borderlines on arrogance. This is the fuel which energizes you. It’s not a comparative, “I’m better than you” mentality. Rather, it’s an understanding that “I am great because I’m trying to improve the lives of all of those around me”. Walk tall because, regardless of how successful your attempt is, you are on the RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY.

“Right Side” of History

That concept, “the right side of history” is not addressed often enough in discourse. It is a nifty mindset that can help you dictate your long-term legacy in the court of public opinion. Any student of history has the ability to predict which side of a conflict will be memorialized because it follows simple guidelines:

  • It tears down an oppressive barrier to a group of people
  • It ensures positive long-term economic effects that benefit the masses, not just a certain group of people
  • It promotes equality amongst the population

Figures throughout history are revered because of their Progressive challenges to oppressive, conservative status-quos:

  • Thomas Jefferson for stating “all men are created equal” and establishing the foundation arguments for separation of church and state
  • George Washington for surrendering his office of Presidency
  • Abraham Lincoln for abolishing slavery
  • Franklin Roosevelt for supporting the working-class
  • Ghandi for fighting British imperialism
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. for challenging segregation

These men are remembered for their moves that would be considered “Progressive” in their time period. They challenged policies and institutions that had been based off of previous rationale and argument. They altered the course of history for humanity. They opened up opportunities for groups that had once been denied those “inalienable rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”. They are the ones who are taught about in schools. They are regarded as heroes and are quoted and emulated from people on both sides of political ideology. They are remembered because of their PROGRESSIVISM.

Now, I hope reading this list has raised an eye-brow. That is good, because that means that you can identify the irony…

  • The first two men owned hundreds of slaves
  • The middle two men were racist
  • The last two men were misogynistic

These men were not Gods. Not even Demi-Gods. They were flawed. They had prejudices and biases that prevented them from doing more to ensure equality for all. Often, they were at the forefront of one cause, but disappeared into the mob of contemporary public opinion for other issues. As fair as we think it might be to hope for someone who could push the oppressive boundaries in all directions, this concept is, unfortunately, just not realistic. But all it took was to be on the forefront of one cause, to challenge one indoctrinated evil (and then to prevail) for them to move forward the advancement of society. Did they do something exceptional? Yes. Did they do enough? Probably not. But that’s how change in society occurs…

Societal Evolution

Society is always evolving for the better. The progress sometimes can be rapid. Sometimes it can feel like it is crawling at a snail’s pace. But it’s still progressing. It is a valuable reminder for Progressives. Because progress implies change, it is going to run into resistance each step of the way. Reactionaries, out of fear or anger, will fight back to sabotage progress, either through hindrance or outright reversal. This is the nature of humans! Depending on the conflict, the level of resistance will fluctuate, but it is always guaranteed. That is why any type of progress is still good.

Progress is not easy. It will never provide a clear path. I heard a great story from Daniel Day Lewis, as he played Abraham Lincoln, and it has always resonated with me:

A compass I learnt when I was surveying, it’ll… it’ll point you true north from where your standing, but it’s got no advice about the swamps, deserts and chasms that you’ll encounter along the way. If in pursuit of your destination, you plunge ahead heedless of obstacles, and achieve nothing more than to sink in a swamp, what’s the use of knowing true north?

(Lincoln, 2012)

Compromise

I am a big supporter of COMPROMISE. Throughout negotiations, you will often have to reach compromise. It makes everyone angry. But it also provides a substantial foundation to build upon. You may not be able to fully open the door that shuts you out. However, if you have compromised to get a foot in the door, then it will become less difficult for the next person to come along and provide the effort to open it further.

For example, the Affordable Care Act. It enforces the Progressive belief that all Americans should be protected in affordable healthcare. It did a lot of good in providing accessible healthcare for approximately 20 million people who couldn’t afford it before. However, there are issues with the bill. Because of the process for a bill to become a law, the ACA was altered and changed to cater to hundreds of members of Congress. Some wanted the ACA to go farther to ensure free healthcare. Most wanted it to do waaaaaay less. The end result was a compromised bill that was complicated and inefficient in many ways. Does it need to be revised? Absolutely. However, it finally ensured that Federal government was going to ensure that poor people had access to healthcare… THAT’S PROGRESS! Down the line, it will hopefully become more efficient. But in the meantime, it is a huge accomplishment for Progressives.

This is not to say that you should settle for minimal progress. It is a constant struggle that will always leave you desiring for more to be done. Humanity will provide you with the most stubborn of opponents in your crusade… always. So you must understand that it is a process. As Progressives, you need to TRUST THE PROCESS, and keep fighting for your desired goals.

America’s Team Part 3 – Not Boston

Ben's Journal, Moderate Proposals

There are plenty of arguments that can be made as to why America’s team is really the Patriots. Rebels fighting the British. Tea Party. Sons of Liberty. Hometown of John Adams and me, Ben Franklin. Successful Founders and rich history, indeed!

Nope. Philly prevails. Here’s why:

Boston is important for starting the American rebellion, yes. But the American Revolution starts and finishes in Philadelphia. If we want our image to be a rabble-rousing mob of gun-toting, blue collar workers, then maybe we could consider them… though I guess a lot of America might consider that image very ‘Merican. Not very Enlightened though. Not very Revolutionary… Not like, say, crafting foundational documents which reshape American sociopolitical theory.

Boston’s stock value of American demi-gods is also not as high as one might think… Sorry Patriots of New England. Neither Sam Adams nor John Hancock is significant after they signed the Declaration of Independence. They were NOT helpful in creating the new Republic after the war. Hell, they didn’t really help after starting the war. They were men built for tearing down, and terrible for building up. The just gradually faded away in to local political oblivion.

So the Sons of Liberty don’t help Boston. What else can they claim?

Boston doesn’t get to claim me – Ben Franklin – either. Yes, I was born in Boston. My parents are buried in Boston. I went to school and learned my printing trade in Boston. Boston Enlightened me. But I could not stand the Puritans. If I had stayed in New England, I would have been run out of town, or jailed, for my dismissal of religious fanaticism. I left Boston and I never looked back.

I came to Philadelphia and I made that town. I conceived most of the Progressive and Enlightened institutions established in that city. Philly is my child. Ask any parent: if they had to choose between their own parent or their own child, they would always claim loyalty first, and foremost, to their child. The city, in return, made my success, my fame, my legacy. So my loyalties shifted to Philadelphia. I am connected to that Philadelphia more than I am to Boston.

So, of the Boston characters, there is only John Adams left…

Cool? Forgive me if I don’t roll out the red carpet for that one. Sorry, Boston. Your historical credentials are top-tier…

But Philly is America’s hometown.

America’s Team Part 2

Ben's Journal, Moderate Proposals

The “Cowboy” vs. The “76er”

This is NOT a competition.

I understand that Americans like to view themselves as glorified Cowboys. They are noble tough guy rebels who do what they want; and what they want is to ride into town with guns blazing to kill 60 bad guys and save the damsel. Then, once their heroic deeds are accomplished, they ride off into the sunset. And they smoke Marlboros…

But name three REAL Cowboys: Jesse James? Wyatt Earp? Doc Holliday? Okay, but they were outlaws and U.S. Marshals… not cowboys.

A “76er”, on the other hand, is something else entirely? It’s the member of the Continental Congress from 1776… the Founders of America. They are noble(-ish) rebels who do what they want; and what they want is to stop paying British taxes by fighting, guns blazing, the most powerful Empire that the world had ever seen. They do all this based on the belief that “all men are created equal”. Then, once their heroic deeds are accomplished, they DO NOT ride off into the sunset. They stay and create the new country, raise it, and set it on its path. You know, CREATING AMERICA. Name three REAL 76ers: George Washington! Thomas Jefferson! John Adams! Ben Franklin! I named four. There’s a school in every city named after each of them. And some museums. And some roads. And some colleges. And some cities. And a state….

The 76ers are WAAAAAAY more “American” than the Cowboys.

If you still think it’s a stretch, then you aren’t using COMMON SENSE.

America’s Team: The 76ers

Ben's Journal, Moderate Proposals

I understand the natural inclination to have one professional sports franchise transcend all others, and represent the ideas of our country.

Sooo why are the Dallas Cowboys the ones who earn the title “America’s Team”? How!?

Well, with excellent marketing and sustained success on the field, they have become the most recognizable franchise in the sport, with the infamous “ Silver Star” serving as their beacon. Yes, they played for Dallas, but they represented the entire state of Texas. Sure, that makes sense. One could also argue that they became the top team that attracted disgruntled and casual fans from around the country. (I have no factual statistics to back this statement up… its just a hunch)

But does that earn them the label, “America’s Team”? HELLLLLLLLL NO. You see, America, your loyalties already lie somewhere else.

The real “America’s Team” is the PHILADELPHIA 76ERS… and here’s why:

America’s Hometown

Note: For this exercise, we’re going to pretend that America as an entity thinks like a person (after all, corporations can be…)

When I consider the mantle “America’s Team”, I define it as “the team America supports”. LOGIC tells me that there are two ways to determine your loyalties:

  1. Your hometown/family tradition
  2. The successful/attractive team you see on television while you are growing up.

Considering America was born before any of these sports were created, it didn’t watch any sports growing up. So the second option is off the table. Besides, it is petty, superficial, shallow, and treacherous to abandon your own hometown team because another team is more successful. America wouldn’t do that.

So therefore, America would support Philadelphia in all of its sports because, God Dammit, America is loyal! Hell, the city knows what it truly represents! It doesn’t shy away from the connections. Three out of the five major sport teams have names relating to the United States. Look at the naming of its teams:

  • The most popular sport in America, football, has a Philadelphia team named “The Eagles”. While it’s naming stems from the logo of Franklin Roosevelt’s American Recovery Act, the name still strongly connects to the American symbol, the eagle.
  • The most popular sport in the world, soccer, has a Philadelphia team named “The Union”. This stems from the creation of one country from multiple states… you know, America…

Considering football is the most popular sport in the country, the Eagles would seem to be the Philly team to argue in favor of as the American symbol. However, the NFL is going through a really big image problem right now. Ratings are low. Also, America’s image is struggling at home and abroad. We are going through some growing pains (that happens when you take progressive steps forward).

With a duel image crisis happening, maybe it’s time to rethink who “America’s Team should really be. America, I’d like to introduce you to the 76ers.

Think about the marketing!

Basketball is the fastest growing sport in the world. If we are trying to reassert our popularity image, basketball should be the sport. Think about the popularity of the U.S. Men’s Basketball team at the Olympics in any city… Every other athlete wants to get pictures with them. We win fans of America through this.

Now consider the Sixers: a young and exciting team with rich – but not too rich – history. There is lots of room for growth in our popularity. But what we lack in fans, we also lack in haters. No one hates the 76ers. For most of the team’s existence, it has remained irrelevant. So we can always evolve our image to take on new responsibilities.

Is it that much of a stretch to remake the American Team with the Sixers?

Obviously, the Philadelphia 76ers get their name from the year 1776… the birth year of our country. That number will always connect us with the Founding Fathers – the men who we love to credit with creating the values and philosophies that shaped our country’s identity. We, the Founders, are more representative of the “American image” than a stupid fluffing “Cowboy”…

Use Common Sense. If I’m going to pick one team to truly be America’s team, I’m going to follow a logical formula:

  1. America’s hometown is Philadelphia
  2. Basketball is the fastest growing sport in popularity in the world
  3. Philadelphia’s basketball team is the Philadelphia 76ers
  4. The 76ers = the Founding Fathers
  5. The Founding Fathers established the values and principles of “America”

Therefore…

  1. America’s Team is the Philadelphia 76ers

It’s just Common Sense.

Franklin For President – Introduction and FAQs Pt. 1

Ben's Journal, Life and Times of the Philly O.G.

Introduction and F.A.Q.s

Hello!

This might feel like a very odd and abstract concept for you to understand… but you are currently having a VERY one-sided conversation with Ben Franklin…

Congratulations!

I understand that you have questions. I’ll answer them shortly. But first let me say:

HEY! I’m back! Not newly back, though. I’ve actually been back for about 5 years now… soooo surprise!

I’m not old. I am 29 years old with a full head of reddish brown hair and a RAGING deficit of attention… wait that was disordered. BUT, I’m feeling crazy healthy and energetic. I got plans. I got goals. And I’m feeling ready to conquer the 21st century the way I dismantled the 18th century… like a total and complete BO$$.

But let’s start with some FAQs:

Where have you been for the past five years???

It was 2012 when I was brought back, thanks to “science”. Science was not being adequately supported and funded so the scientists couldn’t afford to contain me. I had no time to acclimate to my new world. I was responsible for going out to make a living to support myself. They figured that, since every other 24 year old in the country was poor and in debt, I was on relatively equal footing. Their only condition was that, if I became successful and wealthy, I would turn around and use my wealth to fund and support Philadelphia education. I nodded and said, “Deal.” And then I left…

After leaving the science laboratory, I wandered into my old stomping grounds, Olde City, or, as I called it, “Philadelphia”. With no job, no identity, no passport, I needed money fast. Fortunately, I was able to quickly find a job, playing myself.

I stood at my grave, contemplating my future life. The printing trade was out of the question thanks to “computers”. I had no applicable skills or experience to any business in this age. At that somber moment, a big rotund man in a brown colonial suit walk up with bifocals and a mullet… he was portraying Ben Franklin… me. He spoke with a muddled accent which was a pretty shitty impression, honestly… but as I listened to him regurgitate every aphorism and Poor Richards quote, it occurred to me: I could do the same thing he was doing, and make instant cash.

So I began giving tours. I did all types of tours in the city. Bus tours, walking costumed tours, neighborhood walking tours. Ghost tours. Beer tours. I played both “Ben Franklin” and an alias, mild-mannered “Anthony Nonymous” (NAWN-uh-MUSS). I was young, energetic, and… well I loved to learn. I remembered every question that I was unable to answer and would find the answer in my library. I was able to catch up on a lot of history and politics and culture this way… and my notebooks are extensive… like I could make money from my Franklin Notebooks. But I was excellent at tours. Every tour review for me was basically the same: “A. Nonymous is the best tour guide I’ve ever had. Seriously, the best tours come from A. Nonymous!

After a couple years of giving tours, I had made connections with several schools whom I enjoyed working with. One school offered me a position as a substitute teacher. I said, “Of course!” Having mastered the tour industry, I was ready for a new challenge. Teaching students in Philadelphia seemed like a noble cause…

It wasn’t. At least, not substitute teaching. Substitute teaching is not noble. Substitute teaching is battle. It’s no-holds-barred. You walk in and show an ounce of fear, they know it… and they attack. I was NOT ready. I was a building substitute for a whole high school… this meant I didn’t see students enough for them to respect me. Buttttt I still saw them enough for them to remember me and every mistake I made. And I made A LOT of mistakes. To be fair, if I were their age, I would’ve messed with me, too.

I felt like I finally had a noble challenge! I would educate these monsters until they respected and learned from me. It would be foolish to stay in the role of substitute; I needed my own classroom. I applied to schools around the city and was offered a position of senior English teacher at Franklin University Charter High School in Old City Philadelphia. It was FATE. I gladly took the position and spent the last 3 years learning how to teach. Nothing has been better for me to understand the current culture of my city than teaching.

(FAQ Continued Thursday…)

Policy #1: REFORMING CAMPAIGNS INTO NON-PROFITS

Ben's Journal, Politics

The responsibility of every politician is to serve the people, not to stroke their own ego. As I watch the elections of every level of government, I see less of the former and more of the latter. Of course, COMMON SENSE requires us to review the credentials of each and every candidate for each and every position in public office. COMMON SENSE also reminds us that one who runs for public office must have confidence in their abilities and, therefore, must have their ego stroked in order to maintain that faith in their self. However, must their ego be stroked at the rate of approximately One Billion Dollars in each presidential election cycle?!? I am still learning about the fashions and customs of the modern world but I can tell you that this is a poor use of our extensive, but still limited, resources.

I understand the feeling that one must raise money in order to run an effective campaign operation in the current campaign system, but COMMON SENSE argues that raising $100 million for a failed campaign is a poor investment, even if the candidate was in contention until the very last moment. What adds insult to idiocy is that this enormous sum of money is loosely thrown around each election cycle while pervasive societal issues such (poverty, education, etc.) continue. These issues need to be consistently addressed, and not just as talking points, by the candidates. Because the American people need to know that these politicians can effectively combat these societal issues, COMMON SENSE would therefore argue that the campaign cycle should be a challenge to tackle one of these issues. Here is my proposal:

POLICY #1: POLITICAL NON-PROFIT CAMPAIGN

Issue Addressed: Campaign Financing Reform meets Funding for Social Programs

Political Spectrum: All

Key Points:

  1. Candidates will establish and operate a non-profit organization addressing one societal issue that pervades within the American community
  2. Donors do not donate to the candidate but rather to the candidate’s organization
  3. The candidate will use free media outlets to provide platform policies of their potential administrations
  4. Candidates will be required to be involved in 5 debates to be controlled and run by third parties.
  5. After election, failed candidates required to stabilize non-profit and run it effectively until qualified replacement is found.

It is COMMON SENSE that, between the two phrases, “well done” is better than “well said”; therefore, the Election Cycle should be chance for candidates to prove their worth as potential future leaders of the “Free World”. No longer, will the American people have to be inundated with multiple messages, speeches, and positive/negative advertisements. A qualified speech-writer can make any Poor Dick appear like a Demi-God. However, if a candidate is placed at the head of an non-profit organization, we, the people, will immediately witness the level of their effectiveness. There are many benefits to this system.

Benefits

As previously mentioned, the people get to act as scouts, monitoring the movements of each and every candidate. We take the candidates on a “test-run” and determine the strengths and deficiencies of each of them. We take every move into account: what their issue priority is; whom the candidates select in each position within the organization; how effectively the organization becomes (etc.). The Executive Branch of the government is a massive organization that requires the oversight of dozens of departments in the bureaucracy. The pressure of heading our ship of state is immense. I would argue that a candidate who can handle the immense pressure of creating and running an organization dedicated to effectively educate low-income populations while, in the meantime, competing against other candidates in the spotlight of the critical media, is worthy of a potential nomination, if not vote.

There is no more noble cause than effectively tackling poverty or funding a series of schools. Therefore, we can forgive many politicians for their flaws in character if they are effective. Of course, the more egregious characteristic impediments will not be able to be ignored, but if the people are prevented from questioning a woman on her family values because she has chosen to be successful at her work than have a family. If she can help feed children, than who cares if she has them, herself?! I certainly do not!

Furthermore, the donors, themselves, can feel proud of their contributions to normally underfunded organizations. Even if their candidate loses the election, they can feel proud that they raised money to fight one of the many major problems that plague our society. Imagine if Bernie Sanders and his supporters had spent his campaign money – approximately $228 million – on developing a program to reduce college debt. Imagine if Jeb Bush had used his $155 million to aid and support army veterans returning home from war in the Middle East. Imagine if Donald Trump had used his $95 million into a program for early education programs for children…. well maybe not that last one. But you get the idea. If any of those candidates lose, then America still wins. Besides, once someone has donated to an organization, they are more likely to continue providing funds. (Disclaimer: this is a statement which I did no research on and is based off a basic assumption. #politicking)

There will still be an opportunity for the candidates to express their opinions, of course, but their money will not be involved. Third party news outlets will run the televised debates with effective moderators who will make the candidates answer difficult questions. Online sites can run their advertisements. In other words, their messages will be loud, but their actions will be louder.

My Campaign

In order to make show the effectiveness of this policy initiative, I will model my own campaign as a non-profit organization. The “Franklin For President” campaign is dedicated to raising awareness to Common Sense as well as raising money for schools in Philadelphia. The profits of every T-Shirt sold by “Enlightning Tees” will be divided and donated to raise money for both students and teachers. This movement is much more important than the campaign itself. All of my writings and all of my projects will be dedicated to battling urban education. So if you donate to me, you are supporting education! No other candidate can claim that!

 

 

Cicero – The Catalyst of the Renaissance

Ben's Journal

“To be considered truly ‘Enlightened’, one must look for deeper meaning in every writing and find the subtle messages that transcend the rhetoric” – Anonymous

Dearest Coffeehouse Collective,

There was a time in the course of human history where the Founders were not the source of all inspiration. Before our time, we were “learners” who leaned on other sources for guidance. We planted our foundations in the Classics. These philosophers taught us that a “government by the people” was only practical IF the people were virtuous. YOU see, there is nothing more beautiful than Virtue. The base principles, upon which our civilization was built, ARE conceived from these exceptional men of ENLIGHTENED thought. None of those Pillars of Wisdom stood taller than the great orator, Marcus Tullius Cicero, whose rediscovered letters initiated the Renaissance. Fortunately, I have been able to REMEMBER my notes from my youth as an apprentice, spending nights reading my books and creating aphorisms to every story, like a new Aesop. Here it is in partial form:

“Marcus Tullius, of the family Cicero (Latin for “disgusting”), had learned to embrace his horrid name as motivation. After all, if you appreciate your name, then others will do so. He vowed to make his a name synonymous with honor. As early as he was capable, CICERO was SAID to have distinguish himself in the schools for having the keen understanding to be eager in every kind of learning. Cicero labored in his studies (as he would later claim, “you reap what you sow”) and diversified his intellectual specialties. Ambitious TO BE a communicator, he focused on poetry for oratorical training, because to excel at communication, one must excel at poetry; but expect little greatness from poetry alone. He studied Latin as well as other languages for there is no greater sign of intelligence than to be able to call someone “stupid” in 6 languages or more.

Cicero traveled to Athens and physically exercised to develop stamina having been told to take care of your body for it is the vessel of all your ambitions fulfilled. He continued to study and learn the “Way To Glory”. In order to achieve this “Way” you must make your own Genius be the guide of your life, not the opinion of the people for they are IGNORANT and do not make tough choices. The “Man OF Glory” must still communicate, however, and use sarcasm and witty sayings to appeal to people – in moderation. This approach, however, is WHAT makes enemies. But in the end, if he inevitably must have an enemy, he knew he should choose a loudmouth for those who speak loudly have nothing to say. As a good politician, he knew of many moments when this fact has OCCURRED. After all, a good tradesman knows his every tool, and a good politician knows his every fool, in order to use them appropriately in a given situation. BEFORE Cicero left, he learned ONE more piece of wisdom: “glory” is an infinite thing with no fixed measure or end in its pursuit. He realized he WAS unable to ever completely satisfy his quest for glory, and would need to temper his ambitious thoughts – or at least attempt to.

Cicero’s political career was BORN and he proved these early scholarly truisms to be valuable. He became a well-respected statesman (and still IS), quoted often for his fair judgments, eloquent oratory, and witty sayings. Thus he became a Consul in time TO overthrow a conspiracy to the Roman Republic by Lucius Catilina. Catilina took advantage of the fact that the common decay of societies are shows, entertainment, and ambition of higher offices (Note: this pattern continues to REMAIN since as long as men have been men, they have been debaucherous in spirit). The unequal distribution of wealth led to instability and tension amongst the population. Angry veterans and aristocrats attempted to overthrow the Republic and assassinate Cicero.

Cicero was informed of the plot. Knowing that to govern, one ALWAYS should prefer honesty above what’s popular (because justice is invincible when well-spoken), Cicero attacked Catiline in several speeches to the Senate and the people. This move threatened Catiline and emboldened the Roman people to support Cicero. Catiline and his followers fled and Cicero was able to acquire proof of the conspiracy through their letters, proving that loudmouths make the best enemies. Knowing it was better to be thought too harsh than too weak, Cicero had the conspirators executed. Thus he saved the Roman Republic for A time, being hailed as a glorious figure in the process. What would eventually lead to his downfall was a CHILD named Caesar and two lessons Cicero had yet to fully learn and understand: in politics, friendships are only friendships if they are mutually beneficial; and, never trust a Caesar.

Until Next Time!

Your B.F.,

B.F.

Good Day!

Ben's Journal

To Members of the Philadelphia Coffee House Scene,

I bid you good day and “HELLO”. My NAME, I fear, is a name of relative importance and brings with it a certain level of GRAVITAS. I hesitate to introduce myself beginning with my name for it is a TITLE, which I subsequently must live up to. Certain expectations will be made for me; goals to attain, which I fear I will not be possible. It is not for a lacking sense of self-worth, but rather for a rational understanding that no one could live up to these expectations. However, I am truly CONFIDENT in my own ABILITIES. Believe me when I say that I am an IMPRESSIVE individual.

How impressive am I? Well, it would not be amiss for me to tell you that my feats of accomplishment have become the foundation for more outlandish myths to be told of my life relating to SUCCESS and INNOVATION. In my wisdom, I learned how to evade confirmation of these stories during my life, while still taking full advantage of the aura that it placed me in. This made me more successful in my different business, social, or political projects since I appeared of a higher quality to all other players. Sometimes it caused REVERENCE, but often it caused JEALOUSY amongst my contemporaries. Needless to say that, when I died, some were sad, some were relieved, and some – well they probably did not take heed.

And yes, I did, in fact, DIE. Though it was after a good long life. I enjoyed witnessing how my LEGEND flourished after my death, as many individuals in history do. I am PLEASED to see that my name and accomplishments have been imitated and improved to further ADVANCE individual and collective success throughout the years. An even greater reason for the growth of my EGO can be sighted in the area now known as OLDE CITY Philadelphia – an area that I had known simply as Philadelphia. You see, it would appear that I am the NAMESAKE of every other coffee shop, restaurant, street, bridge, and building. (Note: it is NOT ARROGANCE if it is the TRUTH…)

My name is appearing far more in the world of popular CULTURE. Music and entertainment often mention me in reference to, well…. EVERYTHING. That is what happens when my FACE is on the SYMBOL of CAPITALISM and POWER, the hundred-dollar bill. Who knew that being a JACK-OF-ALL-TRADES could propel one to such a level of prestige? This is precisely why I choose to grace you with my presence after all of these years.

I have decided that 2015 would be a good time to plunge back into the realm of the living. This world is an exciting place with various forms of communication and technology that overwhelm all who were born before 1990. Since I died in 1790, I will not, needless to say, spend too much time attempting to catch up with technology. There is far too much technological evolution for me to try to understand. (Note: it took 30 more years after I died for someone to create the bicycle… so I would really be starting from the beginning.)

Instead, I have decided to focus my thoughts and writings within the realm of SOCIETY. I have always had a keen sense of people and I do find my sharp witticisms take hold within well-focused niches of society, most specifically, yours. Yes YOU, the coffee shop dwellers; the artisans; the students; the young professionals. You are free spirits and free thinkers. I sense that we are not so different. Therefore, I consider it my DUTY to ENTERTAIN and PROVOKE THOUGHT in a light manner so that I may help you IMPROVE your outlook, even if only slightly. Topics of discussion shall vary but shall always revolve around people and SOCIETY. I do hope that you appreciate my RHETORIC for what it is, the thoughtful musings of a very, very, old soul who is always quick to alter his opinions if persuaded through LOGIC and WISDOM.

I will leave this letter with this quick description of my CHARACTER: I am COURTEOUS and AFFABLE, unless I am provoked. I am a lover of all GOOD PEOPLE and a true friend to VIRTUE. I am HANDSOME and usually quite WITTY; and therefore struggle with HUMILITY. However, I am open to acknowledgement of my flaws, whatever they be. I shall look to you, as my friends, to ensure that I do not make too much of a fool of myself, since I intend to do the same to you as a whole. With this introduction, I wish for you a good day and good coffee! Until next time….

Your Best Friend,

Ben Franklin