Saturday, January 22, 2011

I Was Taught Wrong

I spent over a decade working as a Systems Engineer. It took a Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering qualify for this position. My classes and work were all very advanced and seemed very thorough. Yet, in all that time I never studied or worked on a truly functional system.

I was taught wrong what a system is.

I took Economics classes back in college too. Their idea of what an economic system is fell just as short.

They tried to teach me that a system is something linear, with an input and an output. They tried to get me to ignore the consequences – the rest of the system. They tried to teach me that dysfunctional systems were normal.

My professors back in college weren't evil or stupid. They were just caught up in a dysfunctional society that didn't want to hear that we were dysfunctional...

Nature can teach us what a functional system looks like. Functional systems are cyclical. There is no input and output. Or more appropriately, everything along the functional system process is output to the next input. Most importantly, profit is something that happens at every step. For example:

Once upon a time; there were no animals. Plants breathed carbon dioxide and exhaled oxygen. In time, they used up much of the carbon dioxide. That was a dysfunctional system – much like the systems humans rely on now. Had life not figured out a way, the plants would have breathed up all of the carbon dioxide and gone extinct. But every generation of new life is essentially a new idea – a new combination of genes that just may have the answer to the last generations' problems. Animals evolved. We breath oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. A cycle evolved. And a functional system was born. This functional system has served the balance life well for billions of years.

My Native American ancestors were not trained as System Engineers. But they comprehended better than we do that complete, healthy systems are cyclical. This is why the circle was of such importance to so many Native American cultures. They saw how life worked. They paid attention.

Though scientists understand these systems much better than my ancestors did, our present culture doesn't pay attention to the systems of life. We pay attention to profits. We want output.

Humanity has developed a way to get ahead in the short term. But the cost is predictably catastrophic in the long term. Our dysfunctional systems are destroying functional systems. Our quick profit economic rewards have blinded us. But the short term is now over. Now we have to deal with the consequences of our actions.

Years ago, climate scientists predicted that (due to Global warming) the American West would see heavy snowfalls – which would melt early. And then we would see much less precipitation for the rest of the year. This last year has played out exactly as predicted – with frighteningly damaging consequences.

Recently, climate scientists have let us know that the effects of massive excesses of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (released by fossil fuel reliant humans) will not dissipate for over a thousand years.

We have damaged the balance of the functional system of the life cycle of the air we breath. And we are going to have to live with the consequences for at least a thousand years.

To see an ABC news report video on Climate Change already happening click here.

Like when life once faced the challenge of what to do with all that oxygen, we are now faced with the challenge of what to do with all that carbon dioxide. We could just wait and see. Life will let the poorly prepared die off, and the next generations may just have the answer. But life has evolved almost seven billion human brains to deal with this issue. Humanity doesn't have to die off in droves (or evolve genetically) to find a better way.

What we have to do, if we don't wish to eventually go extinct, is to learn how to create functional systems.

We have created economic systems that reward destruction and waste. This is not just irresponsible. This is insane in the long run. INSANE!

So, why do we keep doing it? Too many people are just making too damn much money.

And if they stopped, others would just jump in to take their place.

We have created a self-perpetuating system of self destruction – by rewarding unhealthy greed. To see just how entrenched this dysfunctional system has taken over our beloved U.S. government, I highly recommend watching the video “Casino Jack and the United States of Money.”

As stated in the video, all we really have to do to fix most of the corruption problem is to get money out of the election process. Until then, free market economics will mean politicians for sale to the highest bidder.

This is a very entrenched system. The politicians make tons of money and the “contributors” get special favors – for pennies on the dollar. Some of those favors include unfair economic advantages over better ideas.

Part of the reason so many small businesses have failed over the past 30 years – crushed by monopolies; is that our government has legislated unfair advantages for the monopolies (with subsidies for established industries, tax breaks for the rich, monopoly favoring red tape, and trade treaties that give unfair advantages to multi-national corporations). This in turn, has resulted in the suppression of good ideas. Some of these ideas would have already been saving us from environmental destruction – had we implemented them.

I named my blog NoShootFoot for this very reason. As a Native American with formal training as a Systems Engineer, I have seen what we as a culture don't want to see. We look at the world as a resource to be exploited. We ignore the fact that our systems weren't designed to last. We are failing. We need massive change to survive. But surprisingly, I don't believe we really have to change our system of government. What we really need to do is change our system of rewards.

This will take a change in our Constitution. (To see how to change our Constitution click here.) And it will take a change in our power structure. Moreover, it will take a change in our information distribution system. And most importantly, it will take a total change in the way we reward long-term behavior.

We need to know what works, be able to implement it, and be rewarded for our good deeds.

We need to evolve... socially.

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