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“DO ASK DO TELL” – an Assessment 

Late in the summer of 1997, shortly after self-publishing my first Do Ask, Do Tell book, I relocated to Minneapolis due to a corporate transfer, partly motivated by a desire to preclude a possible conflict of interest with the military customers at my previous location. Immediately after arrival there was a honeymoon with the Twin Cities community, most especially through the Libertarian Party of Minnesota, where I seem to find the most promising leads to market my book. In fact, I had long leaned towards libertarian philosophy, as I edited the newsletter for Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty in the mid 1990s, and even then I had gradually learned the more partisan aspects of libertarianism (such as supporting candidates and ballot access petitioning). But in my writing, I was most concerned about individual freedom as it must balance individual responsibility in a practical world, regardless of any partisan application or agenda. Early on (in the Introduction to the first book), I had predicated all on the idea that the individual be held totally accountable for himself, and become his own moral agent. It was my own kind of irreducible kind of individualistic fundamentalism. 

The world as it is since 9-11 is not an easy place to be a libertarian. No kidding. The balancing of civil liberties and security is a variation and complication of debates we have long seen, about individualism and social justice. I know that sometimes I have had to make astonishing statements about the difficulties that we (myself included) face, and I want to reiterate all these principles again, and then make a few more remarks about the “balance” in some specific problems. 

The objective function was, always, individual freedom. But before rehearsing the usual platitudes about limiting government, it’s important to grasp that freedom has different contexts or components for different people in different cultures even within our own country. It is a bit of a psychological amalgam. For me, it is the opportunity and capacity to explore and express my own personal values (especially what turns me on in other people) in my own way, in a manner of my own choosing. As a corollary, it is the right to practice and experience my own belief system (whether traditionally religious or not). But that has consequences for others. Belief systems can favor some people over others and justify authoritarian or at least meritocratic determinations of station in life. So, for many people, freedom is experienced in the context of family, which may be defined differently in different sub-cultures. Family provides the straightforward and direct opportunity to be needed by and important to others, whatever the oppressions of the larger society. But this satisfaction may or may not be connected to the social, legal, and religious meaning of family as it relates especially to raising children and caring for other family members. Ultimately, though, it is the claim of the individual of his own chosen path in life that can create the most controversy. 

The most alarming statement that I hear is that my own freedom—whether I use it or not—harms or threatens others, particularly by setting troublesome examples or downstream effects. To the left wing, I enjoy my middle class life style by exploiting the labor of those less fortunate, so I am tainted. To others, my activities, even my existence if I call attention to myself, threatens the meaning of family as a way for others to experience freedom.  Some people, on both the Left and Right, express the idea that one owes one’s life to others first. Yet, it seems that Donald Trump and Bill Gates have a point: one can do more for others if one first creates real wealth after taking care of oneself and making one’s own decisions.  

Others, however, see political or social justice only in terms of groups or large statistical behaviors of people. That is how almost all historical disputes are posed. However, the recent development of terrorism and asymmetric warfare shows that one person can do enormous harm, and that moral outrage may stem from excessive behaviors by other “average individuals” as by excesses among the rich or among the politically favored leaders. 

Indeed, I am struck by how modern libertarian culture seems to prefer objects and ideals over people. We want to be free to pursue the goals of our own egos, indeed aggression upon others, all right; but we have to face now the idea that without some kind of solidarity and some more attention to life itself, some people will not live as long as they otherwise would, and our culture will be resented and seen as exploiting others less self-focused. This comports with the dichotomy between objective fact and faith.

I still remain committed to the idea that a main component of social justice, however, is that individuals answer for their own actions and benefits. Accountability focuses on the usual idea of responsibility for one’s own actions, and authentication relates to the idea that one (or one’ work) is needed by others and that one must “pay his dues.”  It’s easy to excuse a weaker station in life as starting out farther behind in line relative to “rich people,” but then the “rich” should pay their dues just like everyone else. (I know. Often they don’t.) "Extreme capitalism" and "winner takes all" notions, as well as excessive focus on numerically stated short term monetary profits have distorted the expectations of how people should authenticate themselves as they compete, and often led to cheating and unethical behavior, starting in the executive suite and trickling down into the "middle class."

It's important here to put individual merit and "responsibility" in perspective. Our capitalist culture is more inclined that other to use this concept to justify competitive practices that may leave a lot of people in the cold. Human civilization differs from that of animals in that cooperation and caretaking matters, and life is much more than Darwinian (or Herbert Spencer's) "survival of the fittest." Family and social programs are both components of this. But still, we want to look at issues from the viewpoint of individual accountability, and not just throw money to partisan causes to get desired aggregate results for our own families our peer groups.

The political sequels come after enumerating what we call “fundamental rights,” a constitutional law notion that is discussed in detail in my books and sites. Generally, a fundamental right is something every accountable individual has a right to do, and especially without interference from government at any level, or (in customary practice) without unreasonable interference from other components of society like businesses or even family. A social right is something more, a proposed entitlement that would require public resources and that might impose taxes or other sacrifices on other people. Examples might be the right to health care, to housing, even to a job.  

In my three books (and various unpublished screenplay studies) I have explored the idea of “shadow conventions” or town halls, in which individual citizens define, in spirited debate, our fundamental rights. Along with this (as I suggested in the last chapter of the first book) citizens could draw up a Bill of Responsibilities, those accountabilities and authentication techniques.  Something like this, “The Area of Mutual Agreement,” was attempted in the 1970s by an Arizona organization, Understanding. The end result should be a public document (perhaps outlining several alternative paradigms) that, though not legally or constitutionally binding, has a cultural effect. 

Of course, all this loops back to considering the role of government. You can’t have liberty without law, and a mechanism to ensure that wrongs are punished. One problem is that in a complex world it is hard to define responsibility, and to decide how far downstream liability goes—and we need a less costly means than frivolous lawsuits and constant litigation.  We become concerned with notions of deservedness, the idea that it is wrong for people to advance without providing for others first or proving that they can “work.”  Carried too far, this leads to an odd kind of meritocracy, although it's hard to imagine a culture that values individuals freely interacting with others by methods of their own choosing without some substantial notion of individual merit, and the meaning of "merit" varies from person to person. Like fiat money, merit seems to invoke its own sense of sportsmanship, fair play and notions of conflict of interest, which cannot be overridden by larger troubles of one's group. Often, the role of government has been seen as to take care of the special needs of various groups of people as groups, and the value of a policy proposal is seen in terms of ability to provide for some group of people, without regard to the individual performances of persons in the group. When one defines the law in terms of perceived duties from the individual to the community or to the “proletariat,” you wind up with extreme socialism or outright communism, and we know from experience that this does not work.  Yet, many people on the Left will resist, with considerable indignation, meaningful calls for "personal responsibility" until the "privileged white power structure" (as one frend put it) is dismantled. I write this just having watched a PBS special on the Reconstruction.

The modern general concept to take care of all of this is liberal democracy (or even “democratic capitalism”), buzz terms particularly attractive to the Bushies in building a foreign policy to deal with terrorism.  Democracy is suspect with libertarians because it implies that a majority can vote to compromise the individual rights of those outside the mainstream culture. In fact, our Founding Fathers did not envision democracy so much as checks and balances to protect property rights already well accepted (even if predicated on evils like slavery).  However, many problems about the nuances or rights and responsibilities are subtle indeed, and change with time and technology. Democracy, with checks and balances and judicial independence, is the “least bad alternative” to keep a consistent set of rules. Besides communism, what are the alternatives? In a lot of the world, it is religion. God, or Allah, is supposed to define the rules of life and who is entitled to what. If that is so, why do you need a civil code that is separate? There is not much question that in experience theocracy has failed miserably in the modern world.  

So, here it is good to run down a few problem areas, in dot-point fashion, to get to the subtleties. 

· Take health care. Even Howard Dean, a surgeon of the Everwood “Andy Brown” variety himself, isn’t promising that he can deliver anything like single payor health care, with a Canadian style system. As an outstanding series on ABC News in November 2003 shows, single payor offers a lot of temptations. Relieving employers completely of health care might really help the domestic job market. Single payor can save a lot of administrative costs that could be used to help other areas of the economy. And for many typical families or people it works. In fact, in my retirement, I still have health insurance but it is less inclusive, without full hospitalization, and discourages first rate preventive care that could really matter for my own life expectancy (here I say I am 60). Furthermore, the taxpayers (sometimes indirectly, through higher bills to those who can pay) wind up paying for a lot of the uninsured anyway. The problem is, it still makes a political matter of what difficult or expensive treatments will be delivered. AIDS is now viewed as a manageable problem in this country (not Africa), but if all treatment is publicly funded, doesn’t this give government a “rational basis” to control private sexual behavior? And how far do we go for life-extending treatment of the elderly, since it is getting possible to extend life even more. I haven’t seen a systematic treatment anywhere of how well European societies or Canada really answer this. Part of this would depend on the dedication of younger family members, which I will come back to.  Howard Dean proposes making sure that children receive universal coverage first (even through a public payor), and this makes moral sense to me, because children have not yet had the opportunity to establish themselves in life and develop health-related behaviors for which they could be held accountable. Would the childless contribute to a public child medical entitlement as well as their own care?  The parallel is well accepted with public schools

· Take unemployment. This is generally discussed as a macroscopic policy problem, to be addressed by Bushie tax cuts or liberal Democrat tax, spend and redistribute. The fact is, in part, however, the propensity of us Americans to consume more resources in proportion to head count is catching up with is.  So it is a natural result of our karma that well-paying jobs would go overseas to workers who have a lower standard of living. The moral problem comes when we send work to countries that have weak records on human rights. Another subtle problem is what employers want. Job sites and automated application scripts give the appearance of trying to match a candidate to a narrow job description, partially a legal cover for discrimination charges. Employers want to see a track record of growing responsibility--even visible "advancement"--and expertise in a specific area in the context of a competitive business environment. But they are not doing a very good job of communicating what they want to the public. The rapid change in technology and global trade increases the likelihood that even a worker in his early 40s, say, will become marginalized and edged out of his career, and have to start over, and “pay his dues” again. (Overseas outsourcing to lower-wage countries is only part of the problem.) But this needs to be made clear to the workforce, and the answer is not more regulation, but better publication and more subtle introspection by human resources firms and departments as they interact with job seekers. An interesting paradox is that employers are also looking for curiosity for its own sake. An individual who has earned the income of a
"salaried professional" and been (or perhaps his or her "position") singly picked for job elimination relative to others in his work unit (as compared to someone who loses a job in a plant or company closing) may have to justify his or her professionalism and competitiveness relative to an entire field regardless of previous accomplishments in one company.  

Naturally, labor will seek collective solutions, and collective bargaining is a right guaranteed by law.  But it is double edged. Unions (that sometimes now extend to freelancers) seem to want to be protected from an overly competitive or too suddenly changing environment, but this may simply be protecting less able but now tenured workers from being expected to compete and keep up technically on their own, while keep out new workers.  Of course, it is tempting to hold up those individuals who do thrive in a more competitive environment as examples for everyone else to follow. One trend that discourages me is seeing that persons, unable to find work that is "productive" in the normal sense, turn to peddling the work of others, whether in the context of the "always be closing sales culture" or in questionable practices like pyramid schemes and some forms of mass marketing.

Retirement figures in to this, too. Someone in my position expects his 32 uninterrupted years in the workforce to be respected and, having saved, to be able to do what I want. But not only the stability of social security but the safety of pensions and even newer retirement accounts comes into question, especially in the wake of corporate scandals.  

In some, laissez-faire capitalism assumes owners may invest their profits as they like, and in the global economy owners may perceive an incentive to invest overseas and bring the living standards up in the Third World. This helps people in developing countries but at the short-term expense of earning and living standards of many working people in the United States. Human rights activists can properly ask whether "outsourcing" labor investments to countries without good human rights policies and especially without the right for workers to organize, is an ethically (or legally) acceptable way to invest one's corporate profits--indeed one could lower one's "costs" if "slavery" or involuntary servitude from others were acceptable. More than any time before this can be rationalized with appeals to meritocracy;  people who can learn quickly enough and properly mix flexibility with professionalism can do well. People who can't become marginalized. They expect some combination of social programs or policies and family members to be there for them, and may find themselves deserted. This idea of individual competition for wealth can affect the gay rights debate, as gays are pitted against "families with children" (and eldercare problems) and drawn into debate about the meaning of marriage as a common socializing institution. Liberals feel that this still gives gay activists a motive to work with other groups that are harmed by rapid economic change (whereas before there was a historical connection with the civil rights movement) in order to obtain practical results that help people in difficulty, regardless of ideology.

· Take national security. It is not necessary to belabor here the enormous controversies created by the USA Patriot Act, by government proposals for an apparently unreliable passenger screening system, and especially by the apparently bypass of due process in holding enemy combatants (sometimes American citizens). The fact is, however, we are at war, and for much of our history our way of life has hung by a thread (the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, when I was going through my own experience with McCarthysm as a homosexual, is one big example). Failure to protect physical or financial infrastructure claims “innocent” victims, and there is no way any government can make all of this up. 

The 9-11 crisis has brought up suggestions to renew conscription, and despite Pentagon denials, there seems to be some momentum in that direction with many politicians. Some special problems would be, would a new draft still be male-only, and what happens to “don’t ask, don’t tell”?  

The deeper question concerns the idea that people owe their society some kind of national community service. This would not necessarily be limited to young adults (especially just to males). A couple of generations of young people have (in economically more affluent communities at least) developed the idea that they can make their own life plans exactly as they want. My generation did not have that notion. But in my books, I did propose that freedom from involuntary servitude is a fundamental right, and that the formal draft (by government) could be prohibited by constitutional amendment.  

· Take family values.  Of course, today the debate about same-sex marriage, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision Lawrence v. Texas overturning consensual sodomy laws, is a constant punching bag for conservatives. But the issue is deeper than just a comparison of rights and benefits on the one hand or homage to the meaning of a stabilizing social institution on the other. Put quite bluntly, if marriage means as much as proponents say it does (and I think it does), and if family life is struggling in a competitive world, then legally unmarried people (at least those without leftover or otherwise adopted families to support) will be forced or asked to sacrifice for the benefit of those who are married, especially for families with children. The basic moral deal is supposed to be, define family as the granularity of individuality. Family is called up to establish a person's importance to others in an ongoing sense, beyond what the person accomplishes on his own, and this becomes profoundly important when one thinks of issues like health care.

I spent the first couple decades of my adult life living in a separate Dominion (to use Clive Barker’s terminology) as a gay man, discovering how to implement my own sexuality in a sheltered urban environment, and making my own choices and following my own objectives. An encounter group in New York City, the Ninth Street Center, was both supportive and challenging towards these ends as it worked out the ideas of polarity independent of biological gender and character specialization, both consonant with individualism. (People vary in the importance of establishing truth and right in an intellectually consistent sense, compared to making real people work and live together in a practical world.)  But, as in Imajica, dominions can be reconciled.  Companies would move to the suburbs, where straight couples competed desperately, ratcheting up mortgages and commuting distances for the best schools for their kids. And eventually, families would complain. At first, it seemed like they didn’t like competing in the workplace with people without families to support who could lowball them. But, now it seems like they don’t like the idea that we can have lives separate from them for so long and then eventually come together on a public “reconciled” world stage. 

In practice, family life is sometimes “irrational,” demanding postponing or sacrificing of personal goals out of loyalty to blood. Not all families have the pleasure of the gifted offspring in Smallville or Everwood. Family is a way not only of raising children but also of delivering care to people. Eldercare is becoming an increasing problem as people live longer, families are smaller, and nursing home space simply becomes unavailable. I had a serious close call myself with this issue as an only child a few years ago. I wonder if in the future we face the possibility of saying that unmarried or otherwise unobligated adult children should be discouraged from accepting jobs in other cities than where their parents live. 

Same-sex marriage, if it is expected and includes openness by and for gays and lesbians to make hard-to-place adoptions, could level things. However, naysayers then retreat to the ultimate foxhole, concerned that the denial of gender complementarity and avoidance by men of “The Tender Trap” threatens the meaning of marriage of ordinary “average Joes” who do play the game. Maybe this is an “the other is the enemy” mentality, or maybe it is genuine suspicion of what in the male homosexual world looks like juvenile narcissism. Yet narcissism has its good points. There is also the refusal of people to think beyond what they believe to be the commands of their religious faith in what they are willing to accept in the secular world.  

In my first book, I did propose a short constitutional government, maintaining that the federal government and other states not be bound by a particular state’s solution to the same-sex union debate, but I wanted states to be free to experiment on their own.  

Here, also, I admit that in 1993 I really did think of “don’t ask don’t tell” as some kind of progress in removing the moral sigma of officially banning gays and lesbians from military service based on private sexual interests and behaviors. The military ban was a particularly provocative topic, because it seemed to feed on that old fashioned idea that many men define themselves by their ability to first procreate and then provide for women and children (first in group-oriented then in competitive ventures), so having anyone else around who challenged that notion could be a serious distraction.  It has failed, partly because it has not been implemented in good faith by the Armed Forces.  As Rand Corporation had argued in its 1993 study, there is no good reason why “known” (not intending a pejorative) homosexuals should not integrate into cohesive units as long as proper rules of conduct, including relating to the public (as now with the Internet) are consistently enforced, and these rules may be stricter for persons in uniform than in most civilian occupations. 

In his State of the Union address, the president suggests that a constitutional amendment might be necessary to protect the "sanctity of marriage" from "activist judges." Depending on the wording of such an amendment, it could well as a constitutional matter define practicing homosexuals (or lesbians and gay men) as second class citizens legally, including myself. Is this a meaningful practical statement about me? I have to admit that for most of the time I have lived with and then ignored this notion, going about my own interest. To some extent, this idea helps explain my sideways movement during my past career, although I was often proud of my "difference" as if it could confer some sort of hidden power. Being normal was never a goal. However, much of my self-perspective also relates to my unwillingness or inability to learn to do the things differentially expected of men early in my life, and this is not necessarily part of homosexuality. I have often ignored the emotional demands of adult family life as many people perceive it. This all matters when difficult times come. Sometimes external circumstances (and the demands of other family members) require sacrifice, and it is possible that in a couple of situations my diffidence could have been very costly indeed for me compared to others, though I won't give details here. Even though the practical likelihood of marriage for me (or military service again) do not exist, the legal potentiality to participate really has mattered. Yet, I do not see solutions to this in coveting what others have, especially through group-based political solutions and traditional political minority activism as usually understood. I do not feel right about carrying pickets or screaming in mass demonstrations or protests (though I do march in pride parades). I am grated by whining about "rich people." What matters is the proper understanding of my freedom in relation to accountability and setting appropriate priorities, relative to the ability of others to do the same, going beyond the usual idea of non-aggression and taking into consideration examples that I set.

· Take self-promotion. Now, this is a good one. (Clive Barker, in his novel Sacrament, had fun with the notion of “self-promoting queer.”)  During the go-go 90s, we apparently nurtured an “Anything Goes” culture, outside of the military and certain religious environments, anyway.  The main development was, of course, the development of the Internet, which presented untried opportunities for self-manufacture. In fact, on one level, the Internet seems to compel self-promotion in something, and at the same time facilitates tearing down older business practices and shipping maintenance and manufacturing overseas. It also provides targets for detractors, mischief-makers, and even terrorists. 

But, due to wide variations in human nature and common temptations, self-promotion would surface in conflicting and contradictory ways.  The most obvious manifestation is the get-rich quick schemes: the scams, and, of course, spam. Sometimes the payoff was notoriety and a sense of power, which a lot of young male computer virus and worm writers seem to be seeking. But whole companies did the same thing, giving in to short term demands of stakeholders, and this helped created the Internet soap bubble. Individuals, to make money, found themselves increasingly pressured to fashioned themselves into slick middlemen, capable of “one call closing,” while jobs involving real content substance went overseas. Sometimes companies would look for people with proven sales ability but no experience with a particular body of content to be sold--this practice makes me understand and experience the resentment of people who see others succeed in behavior that they do not approve of. A sliver remained, of people who could really achieve great things by focusing on small areas (say, some security infrastructure), but then they found themselves, more than ever before, forced to take sides because they were paid to, and leave the debates to others.

I have always been reluctant to turn over my rights to promote my views to others who will speak for me, and I particularly resent the idea that I should "pay my dues" by serving some other group's (or even my own family's) adversarial interest first.  A variation of this problem occurs in the debate over affirmative action racial preferences: African American students (especially males) often perform poorly compared to Caucasian and Asian students in public school systems because they feel that they are being coerced to play the "white man's game" of book-learning and compete in activities that they have not (in their own family culture) come to see as morally relevant to their own purposes.  There is a tendency to solve problems of social justice various remedial measures to give compensatory measures for various groups. Besides affirmative action, for example, there are proposals for reparations, or for government loans to minorities only in certain neighborhoods, such as Detroit's proposed "African Town."[1]

So, in the mid 1990s, I went in a different direction, deciding to introduce myself publicly with respect to a controversial issue (then, gays in the military). This would lead to a book and supporting website that I would perceive as my “contribution.” What got me noticed was passive advertising: the tendency of search engines to prefer static webpages with large amounts of free text content.  My career in I.T., while it could be captivating, became a paycheck. That couldn’t continue forever. Rather than mastering someone else’s agenda, I wanted to create my own. But it has reached a point where I can no longer support it by being an “individual contributor” on the job, because that alone requires too much mastery of something else. I master the skills that I need to develop the material and publish it cheaply. 

Of course, this is double-edged, because nothing “authenticates” me; I am not really accountable to anyone in the usual sense. Sometimes, my conduct of my affairs without immediate accountability to others spurs resentment, but I am more effective when I can work alone for long periods to develop something. Then, however, I call attention to myself. But, there are subtle and somewhat unpredictable legal dangers in doing this, that I have discussed in detail on other pages of my sites. One of them, for example, was presented by the Child Online Protection Act of 1998 (COPA). In short, what could have gotten me into trouble would be the idea that I am promoting myself at the risk of exposing children to age-inappropriate materials. Others, in the workplace for example or in family, could be affected indirectly by attention drawn to me by new uses of technology, however passively implemented. 

The possibility that anyone can make themselves a celebrity on the Internet (even without advertising, by being found by search engines) is starting to create conflicts in the workplace, and will continue to do so. For example, no one should do what I did and have direct reports in the workplace, in most jobs where supervision represents “advancement” and “authority.” I have discussed this problem on my domains, and the particular webpages are among the most often retrieved, although the major media outlets have so far paid little attention to the issue.  

The bottom line, though, is that at my age I cannot see myself as being paid to advance anyone else’s particular agenda. This eliminates a lot of opportunities (sales, particularly sales for the sake of sales, as well as conventional advancement in “management” where the goals are business efficiency or consolidation) that would be appropriate for someone younger. Yes, age does matter. Could I start over, yes, I could see a conventional career in software engineering, especially security, or perhaps in medicine, or even better, international journalism. In fact, I once envisioned a career in music (piano and composition) and bypassed that partly because of the Cold War environment. But those opportunities have passed me and go to others. Even for writers, there is an intrinsic conflict between those who do it for a living (which can mean that they are paid to say something others tell them to say, although journalists insist that the goal is just objective reporting) and those who do it to say something new.  But my intention is not to displace existing paying jobs, but to create new content that can lead to creating new jobs.

Instead, what I want to work on is the confluence of technology with social change and the law. We have developed a more individualistic culture because, we thought, we can afford to. And the medium that most fixates me is insufficiently explore for this is, the movies. What I could offer a media project is awareness of many issues and analytical ability to "connect the dots," uncovering the significance of subtle observations that would enrich media or entertainment content. Even such an intention becomes double-edged: television, movies, Internet and other audio and visual media offer enormous learning opportunities and ways for students and the public to gain perspective (even if individual sources are often biased); yet the raising of young children apparently requires parents' keeping them away from such media (such as television and its fast-moving images) in the first years. 

Since “retiring” at the end of 2001 (the layoff notice occurred 92 days after 9-11), I have earned income (apart from retirement, severance and UI) from at least five different small sources; these include, ironically, writing multiple choice test questions on business ethics, and collecting bills.

In a broader sense, there are three logical ways to approach these general problems of balancing individual liberty with collective satbility and social justice. We can emphasize personal responsibility in the narrow sense associated with fiat money and the normal free markets, and approach would emphasize cutting down on the "cheating culture" and ill-gotten gains. Cutting down on the "cheating" would help the disadvantaged somewhat; but the endpoint of this approach could be the inability of society to address huge external problems requiring collective sacrifice (like global warming, the oil supply, supporting the elderly with a lower birthrate and social security) and allow a lot of people who don't "make it" to just die. We could opt for socialistic solutions, like redistribution of wealth--and in this regard we would want to know how well European models really work, and whether single payor health insurance (Canadian style) really could help our economy after all. The problems with this approach are many--bureaucracy, corruption, and forced intellectual dishonesty. Or we could take a middle course where personal responsibility (accountability and authentication) are still the driving paradigms, but where responsibility includes an obligation to be able to support or care for others (maybe including filial responsibility) and some kind of community service or nation service obligation.  Many people look at "family responsibility" as a moral prerequisite for personal freedom and choice, since family responsibility is supposed to provide a common denominator to take care of people. Sometimes technology will offer individuals new opportunities for unsupervised self-promotion, and, to support social justice and fairness, these opportunities need to find a balance with accountability and authentication by meeting the needs of others. This analysis is not my opinion, it is just a logical decomposition of the alternatives.

Finally, I note my own ambivalence on many of these matters. I started out libertarian but much of this assessment piece sounds like something from a Democrat. Freedom requires notions of merit, and merit in turn contradicts the idea of going to bat for people (including myself -- as Donald Trump expects of an Apprentice!) just based on their needs if they have objectively failed to compete;  yet we all know that there is a misplaced emphasis on money, glamour, and short-term results in our values today. We do not want to wind up with the paradox that freedom generates a royalty of merit! Freedom requires that money and materialism be subordinate to people, to relationships, commitments, families (in the broadest sense), and to the integrity of our ideas. I find it hard to publicly serve the interests of others for monetary reward when there is abandonment of objectivity and faith in the intelligence of the public. Is this a rationalization for duplicity in my own life? Maybe. But that's how it is. I am struck how some people (both on the Left and in "traditional family" matters) regard my "freedom" to speak up on my own and not through or for others, as a threat to their own collective sense of meaning or as a dangerous kind of disloyalty. Personal liberty does need to be "encapsulated" with family, perhaps, but the need to look at the rules of competition remain. Self-promotion can run the gauntlet from effete dilettante to entrepreneur, and professionalism can deteriorate into bureaucracy.  Perhaps, to bring integrity into our culture back down to the level of personal responsibility, we could be moving toward a new definition of freedom, where it is conditioned upon a person's proving he can meet the needs of others (usually in a family setting) in some material way ("family responsibility") and where freedom must be used in "good faith."  Some religious groups (like the Mormon Church) enforce ideas like this without becoming corrupted too much. There is always a balance to be struck between freedom and creativity on the one hand, and security and the ability to take care of the needy in a personal way on the other, although it gets complicated--personal freedom generates wealth, and that can take care of others, too.

Possible questions for a “shadow convention” or town hall forum (along with short-film loglines). 

Question

Short film log line

Should national service be expected of everyone?

In 1964, a young man takes a draft physical and truthfully answers a question about homosexuality on the form, talks to the psychiatrist, and gets a 4-F. Show a group of young men in skivvies at various levels of physical fitness, to make the point of what the draft expected of young men in an earlier generation.

A few years later the same young man is in the Army and taking occupational placement tests in basic, when a sergeant notices “you missed a college grad.”

The same young man takes an embarrassing interview for a direct commission

Do adult children owe their parents (or siblings) a filial duty to take care of them, even at great sacrifice to themselves?

A middle aged man discusses with a hospital social worker the possibility of moving back home with aging parents.

An elderly woman, recovering from surgery in a nursing home, is ordered by a nurses aide to get up and go to the bathroom by herself.

Later, seated in a busy science museum, she tells her son this.

Is it wrong (or “creepy”) for an unmarried older person to be interested in a much younger but willing adult?

An older man is humorously rebuffed by a female friend of a younger male in a gay bar for expressing interest in him

Should a manager in an ordinary workplace feel free to express his own political opinions about a controversial problem in the Internet?

Job interview scene;

Scene where a candidate is invited to attend a company “boot camp” but there is a price:  PDF short script: Hanydmen

Are broadcast or online songs and movies really "free"? A young male law student discovers that his girl friend is working on a file-sharing program to pirate movies.

Are gay men stigmatized by “don’t ask don’t tell”?

 

A college student is expelled from school in 1961 after telling the Dean of Men that he is a “latent homosexual” after prodding from a roommate who describes his presence as “emasculating”

 ©Copyright 2004 by Bill Boushka. All rights reserved, subject to fair use. Please consult with me if you wish to discuss the log lines. email is JBoushka@aol.com or 571-334-6107

Other links:

slide show on fundamental rights and various kinds of rights

COPA litigation and Oral Argument Summary

books

self-publishing history

IT career history

conflict of interest white paper; blogging policies

white paper on meritocracy

white paper on personal responsibility

blog on health care debate

I recommend the article "The Future of Work: Flexible, Creative and Good with People? You Should Do Fine in Tomorrow's Job Market," by Peter Coy, Business Week, March 22, 2004, p. 50.

[1] For the article on "African Town" see the AP story by Sarah Karush "Detroit 'African Town" Plan Stirs Debate," Oct. 10, 2004, at http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20041010/ap_on_re_us/detroit_african_town_1