Tag Archives: History by Norma

Nothing New Under the Sun

He benefited from the wealth bequeathed by his father.  He inherited a politically stable country that was militarily stronger than its enemies.  His country was at the heart of a vast trading network that made it wealthy and spread its influence across the world.  Its’ fertile soil provided so much food that it exported the excess to neighboring countries. 

He set out to destroy all that.  He felt only contempt for the competent, experienced government officials he inherited and replaced them with sycophants loyal only to himself.  He built a new capital city in a remote location where he lived in an echo chamber surrounded by his supporters.  The working class that built his new city were underfed and overworked.  They died young while he lived in a palace and treated himself to the best food and wine available.

He created his own cult and demanded that everyone worship his new god.  Traditional religious leaders were unceremoniously tossed aside, and their treasures confiscated to fund the new cult.  His wife and children slavishly followed his lead.

While he was busy dismantling the existing order, his country’s enemies grew bolder.  Other great powers began expanding their territory.  His country’s allies begged for help but he ignored them.  He was too busy attacking his real and perceived enemies at home to notice or care about the threats at his own border.    

When he finally left the scene (due to his death), his country’s hegemony had faded.  Society was fractured, the economy was in decline and his country had lost about a quarter of its territory to other great powers.  His inattention ruined his country’s alliances and its allies shifted allegiance to others, including the new great powers.   

His surviving opponents moved quickly to restore order, reinstating the traditional government structure.   His cult was abandoned and replaced by the former religion.  His name was erased from the written record as was his wife’s name.   His children repudiated him and his cult in a desperate effort to salvage their own lives.

His name was…..Amenhotep IV, better known to us as Akhenaton.  He ruled Egypt at the end of the 18th Dynasty of the New Kingdom.  His son, Tutanhkamon, was the last of that line of pharaohs and died young.  Ancient Egypt never again attained the cultural, political, and military hegemony that Akhenaton inherited.

Today, as we debate good versus bad leadership, Akhenaton is a reminder that there is nothing new under the sun.

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Self Savvy

Fixing Our Broken Electoral System

The sun rises in the west!

The sun rises in the west!

Voter fraud cost me the election!

Repeating a lie doesn’t magically transform it into the truth.  The truth is that the Republican Party’s presidential candidates haven’t won the popular vote since Ronald Reagan’s day.  The only thing keeping them competitive in federal (including the Electoral College) and state elections is gerrymandered voting districts. The Democratic Party doesn’t care; they’re busy gerrymandering voter districts in the states where they control the state legislature. Both parties are happy to suppress voting rights to the other side’s supporters.  

It’s the type of greedy, short-sighted and unpatriotic behavior that motivates warring factions in third world countries, most recently in South Sudan where the two guerrilla forces turned political parties have wrecked their country trying to sate their piggish appetites at the trough of public patronage. They couldn’t care less that their citizens are dying from bullets, disease and starvation, not to mention rape, murder and pillage.

The U.S. is the leader of the free world.  We deserve an electoral system that reflects that status instead of one appropriate for deadbeats skulking in the bush.

There is a better way and the prototype is called “Aadhar”.  Aadhar is an electronic database created by the federal government of India in a public-private partnership.  Every person in India is given a retina scan and a thumb scan and issued a 12-digit unique identifier.  This digital ID is linked to a card that looks like a credit card. The card is tied to a personal bank account which allows poor Indians to receive their government aid directly.  Aadhar is already paying for itself due to the amount of government corruption it has eliminated.

Aadhar is also the platform for an ecosystem of digital commerce. With their card and a retina scan, Indians can apply for a bank loan, pay their rent, buy groceries, a new refrigerator or TV and pay their cell phone bill. 

The U.S. could create its own version of Aadhar that would include a voter registration application.  Voters could register electronically and then vote electronically.  

Amazon, Apple, and Google, to name three American tech companies have the expertise to help set up an American version of Aadhar.  We could use the database as a platform for government services and private industry.  Privacy could be protected with beefed up privacy laws which need to be updated anyway.

So what’s really stopping us from instituting an electronic system that could reduce the threat of voter fraud while simultaneously speeding up election results? 

No politician in this country gives enough of a damn about America to put the country’s interest above her/his own interests.  They’d rather be tribal twits screaming about voter fraud and fighting over their turn at the trough of public patronage.  We’re a first world country with third world pols.  And that’s why I pessimistically believe an American Aadhar will never happen and we’ll never fix our broken electoral system.   

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Uncategorized

Voting Early

Early voting is in full swing. I always try to vote early because I can show up at a time convenient to my schedule and there is usually no waiting.  But this year is different.  For the first time ever, early voting was as busy as a typical Election Day crowd.

When I drove to the public library on the afternoon of the second day of early voting I couldn’t find a parking space. The line wrapped around the building. I gave up and went home.  The next day I showed up at 7:30 am and was happy to find a parking space next door. Then I stood in a line that snaked around the library parking lot waiting for the 8 am opening. 

Voters ranged in age from 18 to 80.  Several neighbors in the line told me that they were willing to wait all day for their chance to vote.  When word spread of a first time voter, everyone in line cheered them on.   I finally voted around 9:10 am.    It was absolutely amazing.   

This year we will probably see record-breaking voter turnouts in every state. The good news is that people are motivated to have a say in the outcome of the election.  The bad news is that they are motived because our society is so polarized that many people see this election as an existential threat to their existence. (If my candidate doesn’t win, the world will end!) 

I suspect that is how voters felt in the past when there was a major political realignment of voters.  Major political realignments happen when demographic changes or political grievances motivate normally uninterested voters. 

The 1876 presidential election was so contentious, it still reverberates.  Samuel J. Tilden received 185 electoral votes, Rutherford B. Hayes received 165 votes, and 20 electoral votes from Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina were disputed.  In a thoroughly disreputable political deal, Hayes was declared the winner in exchange for an end to Reconstruction in the south. 

The south repudiated the Republican Party which had imposed Reconstruction and created the Jim Crow laws that suppressed black voters until the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which included the Voting Rights Act.  The 1964 law moved the entire south back to the Republican Party until this year.

This year demographic changes are reshaping the electoral landscape.  A tenth of the eligible voters are from Generation Z (18 – 23 years old) and a third of all voters are non-white, mostly Hispanic. The Baby Boomers are a shrinking voter bloc.   Although it is too soon to call, the early voting turnout may be a harbinger of a major political realignment.

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Self Savvy

It Don’t Mean a Thing, If…

All the protests on social media, the on-line petitions and marching in the streets don’t mean a thing. All the Twitter memes, wall murals, statue removals, and messages painted on streets don’t mean a thing.

If you don’t vote.

Marches won’t do it. Social media rants don’t count.  The only way to change unpopular governments and their policies is to vote.  Nothing will change if you don’t vote.

Yet in the U.S., barely half of the voting age population actually votes in presidential elections. The numbers are even worse for mid-term Congressional elections and downright dismal for state and local elections.

Tennessee ranks 49th out of 50 states for voter turnout and was the 37th state to create an on-line voter registration system.  The state is currently dragging its bureaucratic feet on expanding voting by mail despite a federal court order and a pandemic endangering the health of the voters.

With pathetically low numbers like these, the U.S. ranks near the bottom for voter turnout among democratic countries. But a democracy is only as strong as its free and fair elections; which won’t happen if people don’t vote.  When voters don’t vote, democracy dies.

When most voters don’t vote, it is easy for small groups of fanatically committed people to take over a country. Fanatical groups always have a message that sounds reasonable, like law and order, national security, limiting immigration or some other seemingly innocuous message.  But fanatically committed political groups are always anti-democratic.

Once they have control of the presidential and legislative levers of government, they systemically undermine all democratic institutions that might limit their power. The first to go are inspector general offices which investigate wrong-doing by government officials. Next to go is a free press.  After that judicial independence is wiped out.  Without a free press and an independent judiciary, any citizen (i.e., voter) can be imprisoned any time on bogus charges.  Being an alleged national security threat is a favorite.

By the time the voters wake up to the situation, every election is a sham and votes truly don’t count.  Democracy exists only as a façade.

What does a sham democracy look like?  It looks like Thailand, Poland, Hungary, Russia, Turkey, and most of the countries created from former Yugoslavia.   If the U.S. wants to continue being a democracy, people need to step up to the ballot box and vote.

Because…all the marches, memes, on-line protests, pulling down statues and painting the street don’t mean a thing…..if you don’t vote.

 

 

 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

2 Comments

Filed under History