Is Common Good Possible?…..

I just got back from a long run and as is my wont I like to pick a topic to dwell on to help the miles pass. Being Ted’s Head day it made things even more productive. As I left off last week I have this thing about common good and is it even possible? My opining could be an elixir or can of worms. You decide.

What is the common good? The classic definition is that which is shared by all or at least a majority of a given community. You build a hospital, or finance a police force or designate an area for open space. That is considered for the common good. It is to be utilized and enjoyed by everyone. This is all fine until someone has to give up something for the rest of us and we test our mettle for generosity. Some have to pay higher taxes. Others have to donate or sell land or give a bequest. Others their right to privacy. Tough stuff.

Now by town, state or country we have to arrive at what is proper and what is overkill. I might think I am being levied upon beyond reasonableness and you may deem I am not giving my proper share. Today we have the classic too much or too little government. Some think we need infrastructure for growth and others are content to leave things just as they are.

At the moment we live in a condominium with 68 other units. Everybody has their own idea of heaven and we do a decent job of sorting out but sometimes it is only the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. When we were in Hawaii there were speed bumps in the small village that were spaced a hundred yards apart. Everyone hated them except the activist that bitched to the HOA. So do you make sure everyone is heard or do you just seek the majority opinion?

In a democracy 50.1% is a winner. That also means the other 49.9% feels short shrifted. Throughout the world there are governmental forms where minorities are a fact of life. Lo and behold this requires some compromise to form a bloc of people that feel more or less the same way. Not completely on one side to the other but as they say, “close enough for government work.”

Our Supreme Court has thrown a bit of a wrinkle into our process in their “Citizen’s United” decision. To them corporations are people and with a decided advantage. Their votes really count for more because their wallets are full and largesse towards kindred political spirits gets the desired result even though it may not exactly be the will of the majority.

I guess around mile three I am beginning to wonder if this thing can work at all? If everyone feels like they are being screwed then how do we ever sing out of the same hymnal? This is being exacerbated today as more and more small players gum up the works so to speak. A small group of students can keep a lecturer off campus. Lovers of the snail darter held up a dam in Tennessee for so much time the costs to the general public and ergo you and me got the short end by having more tax dollars wasted. Was this beneficial to the masses?

This has all been debated since the time of Plato and Aristotle. Our current conundrum is no different. The people want a say or at least to feel like someone is looking out for them. That is how the Donald got elected. It wasn’t because of his good looks and charm or his charisma. He was just something different and boy is he ever! At the same time the cognoscenti were egotistical enough to say they knew how to do it and just shut up and vote for me.

Sooner or later the locals have just had it. Look at the Arab Spring, Venezuela, the populist movements in Europe and unrest elsewhere. Smaller nations don’t understand the innuendos of global initiatives and don’t want to play ball. Alliances are frayed and entirely new ones are formed. Times change and definitions are rewritten. What is the common good today? Should everyone be released from poverty? A noble cause but doable? Can the UN dictate what works for everyone worldwide? Democracy is actually on the down slope right now. Tough questions.

It is far too simplistic but there is an element of the Golden Rule present. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Every move or decision you make is not just with you in mind but the world at large in however you deem that to be. Can a senator say this is good for the people but it will probably cost me my job? Can the rich say we have a little too much and we should share the wealth? Can the poor say I have to do more for myself rather than relying on the dole? Big moves. Mind benders. A fools journey?

I looked up the word consensus and its synonyms: agreement, harmony, concurrence, accord, unity, unanimity, solidarity. Do you think any of those concepts are applicable today? Go to your next school board meeting, town council, labor negotiation, or session in Congress. It would take some very big open minds to bridge these chasms.

You say it is life and maybe so. That’s the nature of the beast. I think we are so wary of one another and protective of our own that it is not in the cards. At least not in the near future and that is tragic. Maybe we need another 9/11 or almost depression to shake us up. The common good necessitates community in every nuance. It involves sharing and compromise. I really doubt we have it in us.

As always
Ted The Great.


Mavs owner, Mark Cuban described Donald Trump as the chemotherapy for the cancer that has crept into our democracy. Funny but apt.

From The Transatlantic Academy:
“Democracy is in trouble,” the report begins. “The collective engagement of a concerned citizenry for the public good — the bedrock of a healthy democracy — is eroding. Democratic governments often seem crippled in their capacity to deliver what their people want and need. There is widespread concern about apparent declining rates of voter participation and about the alienation or disaffection of citizens from the political process.” Uh Oh!

Democracy is a process that relies upon optimism regarding the future. It also rests upon the belief that the system is fair. Finally, people must believe that it possible to make substantive changes. The extreme concentration of wealthy undermines all three views.
Psychology Today 1/20/2015

Eras and Stewardship….

We crave definition. We want to think of ourselves as special. Something that will make us stand out in the millennia from all the other schmucks that have walked the face of this earth. We tend to use an event, personality or accomplishment and dub it with being life altering for better or worse.

After separating a period of time we look back and cast a yea or nay as to its significance. Historians pore over it from every vantage point but it strikes me as interesting that we look back and try not to commit the same mistakes again. Rarely do we see it as a work in progress but rather something to look at from the rear view mirror. I find this intriguing in that respect. We only learn of our erroneous ways after we have screwed things up. There should be a better way.

Some of our folly in epochs is our desire to put our personal imprint on things. Obama, Bush, Clinton, all wanted to preserve their legacies. Obamacare, MidEast wars, peace talks are the consummate trophies of egotism. Jack Welch, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were indeed dynamic and rewarded shareholders alike. I admire their desire to make a change for the better but do we fall prey to man’s ego lest God forbid that person or company just be considered ordinary. Maybe a good steward should be ample reward. This is contrary to our current beliefs.
I have just read a Shepherd’s Life. It is the story of a young man in the dells of England whose entire being is wrapped up in the breeding and maintenance of sheep. His love and dedication of his chosen profession was palpable as he saw nature at its best and worst. He praised a sun that nourished his fields and cursed the snow and wind that presented incredible challenges to his very existence.

Throughout the book was reference to lineage and family. He was tending the flock as his family had for generations. It was a mantle he wore proudly and with a sense of ultimate responsibility. He would teach his children and hope they would continue on in his stead. He was constantly aware of new ideas to improve his breeds but there was also a way to do things that were time worn.

In former times the steward was a servant who made sure his area of expertise was up to snuff whether is be the castle itself or particular pieces like the scullery or wine cellar. Of course the latter would have been my druthers. As wont would have it the cream came to the top and eventually you were made El Supremo for the whole operation. Yet rarely did you deviate from the norm as this is the way we have always done things and if you don’t like it, leave.

There is a tranquility to this viewpoint but at what point does that breed mediocrity and blandness? Tough question. I think of nature itself. You know I consider the world as a whole and we all play our parts. The food chains and weather cycles have an order to them that I feel should not be broken. As man, do I look at it as my plunder to use any way I want or do I have a responsibility for it and its implications for every other being and organism?

Back to that pithy question of progress and at what cost? The Industrial Era has brought wealth to more than a few and our lives are undeniably better for it. The Technology Age is of the same. On the other hand our climate is changing. Did we cause it? Dunno, but I do believe many of our industries exacerbate whatever trend is present. We use fertilizer for our fields to increase yield but you only have to see the green slime of Lake Okeechobee to know that something is amiss.

The Graduate saw the future of the world in plastics. This substance has many incredible uses but at the same time it lives on in dumps and oceans for beyond our lifetimes. Can you really say ,”Tough shit” as you toss away your liter sized polystyrene Diet Coke bottle? Your styrofoam coffee cup is replicated billions of times a day. As you travel cross country the rusting hulks of autos, trucks and abandoned RV’s dot the landscape. Who cares? We have got plenty of room for empty fields and dump sites to “dispose “ of things. Yeah but for how long? Oh, I am sorry I forgot we will be long gone when that becomes a problem.

Let’s get back to good old capitalism. Have we really used our country’s financial resources properly? Do we spend smart or stupid? Do we really need five TVs in our houses? Could all the money we spend on defense be used to further healthcare or nutrition? We build golf courses in deserts. We have well manicured lawns extraordinare while one of biggest problems in the future is going to be the availability of water.

I am not joining the Sierra Club although their efforts are well taken. I am also not giving up my golf membership at wherever country club. But I do consider as I get on in years just what I am leaving my kids and grandkids and their kids to deal with. And that is really my point. I not only want to act but I want to THINK responsibly. As one gets caught up in the good life I just want us to stop for a moment and consider. Are we stewards of all we have been blessed with or are we just part of an Obscene Consumption Era that wants to emboss our generation with a monogram rather than commonweal? I am going to think about that and I hope you do too.

As always
Ted The Great


We generate 250 million tons of trash every year as a nation. These are put in landfills or mountains of garbage which as they decompose create methane gas which is more lethal than carbon dioxide. 28% of the crud is wasted food. You do know that 35% of our foodstuffs are wasted due to throw away at the dinner table or spoiled meat and produce?

World military spending totaled more than $1.6 trillion in 2015. The U.S. accounted for 37 percent of the total. U.S. military expenditures are roughly the size of the next seven largest military budgets around the world, combined. U.S. military spending dwarfs the budget of the #2 country, China by almost three to one.

We spend $95 billion on medical research or about 18% of our military budget. We earmark a couple of billion for Alzheimers and around $500 mill on depression. That compares with $1.5 billion on addiction. Now if you understand that depression is a major cause of addiction do we have our priorities straight? By the way the new F22 Raptor airplane will have the Air Force paying about $340 million per copy.

The average household can waste up to 10,000 gallons of water per year by leaky pipes and faucets. We waste over 1.3 billion tons of food per annum which is bad enough but it took 45 trillion gallons of water to create that stuff we threw away. Simply amazing.

Spoiled Rotten…

Sorry to miss last week. I hope someone noticed. Daughter Megan brought her three munchkins down to our current hideout in the Sunshine State. For the forty ninth time we are searching for Eden, Nirvana or whatever and we had to have the acid test of grandkids to move the discussions along. Being Padge is one of my favorite things to do and it supersedes even the writing of Ted’s Head.

Doting takes some effort. You start the day with the trio and moi making our way to Dunkin’ Donuts. Roll down the windows on the Lesbaru, open the sunroof and pump up the volume so your eardrums feel like trampolines. First big decision of the day…a half or full dozen? What do you think? Then the true test of agility is to pick out which cannonballs of grease make the final cut. Tyrone at the register is patient but somehow the aggressiveness of this East Coast crowd on line isn’t prone to pronouncing,”Aw, isn”t that cute?” They had other ways of putting it. It’s fun to watch the people in the drive in lane who can’t even get out of their car to order a donut.

Back home, the big box is inhaled in no time flat and we have to plan the day. Pool or beach? The sandy shores get the nod and here the sheer simplicity and beauty of childhood unfolds. Forget about Legos, iPads or phone apps, The time honored pail and shovels carry the day. The budding architects and builders plan their attack and the randomness of a sand castle let’s one’s imagination roam free. Only rule is “No Rules”.

Entering the surf brings on a whole new set of challenges. For the older ones the way is clear. Demonstrate how cool and courageous you are by going further and further out to sea. Then of course a parent freaks out and the whistles or hollering can be heard clear down to Miami. How can a guy look good in front of one’s peers if Mom is putting on a show?
For the little ones the scene is nowhere near the same. They brazenly run up to the water’s edge as the tide rolls out only to retreat in fear as that onrushing breaker seems like a twelve story building ready to topple. Then the inevitable happens. Whether they muster the courage to face the onrushing surf or perhaps they got caught in between waves, they get floored. Disoriented and wobbly, they start inhaling salt water and their surroundings have taken on a combination of a sandy brown and flotsam hue. Almost a metaphor for our world today. Time to regroup.

We are not in LaLa land here but there are aspects of this whole thing that scare the crap out of me. The beach is a few miles away and the St Lucie River serves as my water fix. It is broad and somewhat serene. People are active in doing mundane things and it takes on this aura of a camp in New Hampshire that I adored when I was a young lad. At some point in time during the day you happen by the main clubhouse for this or that. There is this communal thing that is not overwhelming but just sort of there.

Why do I go into all of this? Simply put, I am wondering if I should be like my grandkids. Down here they make do and become creative with whatever is around. They seem content to just be with each other. The locals here are prone to have a simple life. There are no talks of politics or wealth. You just sort of do your thing. I keep having the guilts that I should be involved in deep conversations and trying to at least solve a small portion of the problems of the world. Can I sit back and just let the world go by? Dunno.

I got to thinking about all of us in this crazy country of ours. We have universities to learn and seek alternative thought yet we become embroiled in controversy. We want an education but on our terms. Professors themselves who should be the bastions of freedom of expression seem hell bent on pushing just one line of thinking. I asked my daughter if she and her husband were willing to drop $250,000 in today’s dollars to educate their children according tot the reigning schools of thought? Interesting question, Padge.

I got to thinking of all I, and yes we have. I do see people being gassed in Syria or 750,000 people in the Townships of Johannesburg living in not much more than a cargo container. Even our worst slums could not compare to the horror of war nor pestilence and despair of these God forsaken people. We say we are hungry or as the wags say “nutrition deficient”. Compare that lack of goodies to the people of South Sudan who have not seen food or clean water for months. Their kids are skeleton like and dying of starvation.

I am not so much trying to give all of us a case of the guilts as I am trying to sensitize myself and maybe some of you to just say thank you to whatever god you worship. We have so much and take so much for granted. We throw away or let rot 30% of the food we produce. We have the ability to walk into a store on Fifth Avenue or even a bodega in a barrio and see them stocked with whatever. We can say whatever we want and plot our own future without fear.

No matter your circumstances or ills that befall you, we got it good. Old or young we should lower our expectations and yearning for this or that. Man, we demand so much from medical treatment to social security to a lifestyle that befits our importance. We are simply Spoiled Rotten. That ’s okay as long as we know it.

As always
Ted The Great


Starvation is a severe deficiency in caloric energy intake needed to maintain an organism’s life. It is the most extreme form of malnutrition. In humans, prolonged starvation can cause permanent organ damage and eventually, death. 3.5 million kids under the age of five die every year from starvation. That is just slightly less that the population of the city limits of Los Angeles.

The revenue obtained from the sale of games and toys within the United States alone was estimated to reach close to $23 billion by the close of 2014. We spend anywhere from $400 to $1,000 on iPads or similar devices. A pail and shovel at Walgreens cost about five bucks.

10 billion donuts a year are consumed by me and my fellow Americans. 20% of our meals are consumed in our cars. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that in 2011 the average American consumed nearly one ton of food. That’s 1,996 pounds of food a year.

Average home size in US is around 2200 sf. Australia is approximately 2500 sf. Hong Kong 482 sf. UK is 850 sf and France is 1100sf.