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A Parade of Punishing Paradigms

ALPERN AT LARGE - “Paradigm” is one of those funny words that has increasingly become part of our modern lexicon.  On the other hand, a word that describes “a set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them” is probably as timely a word for our modern times as any.
Because Lord knows our society is filled with “reality-defining” words and terms, and we’re all facing a tidal wave of intellectual shoving and arm-twisting to get us to think the “right” way.  Here are a few cutie paradigms:

1) The leaders of the governmental and corporate worlds deserve the big bucks because they’re our best and brightest.

Whether its outgoing LA Housing Authority chief Rudolf Montiel marching off with a $1.2 million payoff of taxpayer funds (link) or outgoing MF Global CEO and former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine professing “stunned disbelief” in being unable to locate up to $1.2 billion in investor funds, (link) it’s clear that our current leaders are connected, not self-made.

In other words, folks like Steve Jobs are the minority--our so-called "leaders" are anything but the best and the brightest.

2) The reason our federal government is over $14 trillion in debt is because of the (Democratic/Republican/fill in your favorite political punching bag) Party.

There’s a reason that the You Tube video of comedian Felonious Munk decrying the failure of President Obama and the rest of Washington to balance the budget and pay its bills has gone viral. (Link)  Yes, it’s laced with profanity and should NOT be viewed by youngsters or those easily offended by such language, but the expressed sentiments and fury towards those who’ve destroyed the economic health of our nation and gotten us so deep into debt to China (!) are both bipartisan and spot-on.

Both Bush and Obama, and both GOP and Democratic legislators, are up to their eyeballs in guilt over this tragedy.  There are no federal, state or local governmental hiring freezes, and waste continues to pop up as the economic downturn forces us to examine our budgets more closely.  We haven’t paid for the foreign wars Bush got us into, and Obama blew an excellent opportunity to have a bit of Keynesian economic benefits with a poorly-conceived and poorly-implemented stimulus package.

And no one from either political party has yet to come up with a morally-defensible plan to really push public sector pension reform coupled with the painful-but-necessary budget cuts that would satisfy the concerns of taxpayers when it inevitably comes time to pay taxes and reduce our debt.  Not just the deficit…the debt.  Over $14 trillion, a number that comedian Felonious Munk and the rest of us have to explain to our children.

3) The reason our economy is suffering is because there’s a small minority fringe that’s punishing the majority, but fortunately we’ve got the (Tea Party/Occupy Wall Street/Moral Majority) to defend us little guys.

Well, it’s reassuring to know we’ve got a few self-appointed “speakers for the rest of us” to tell those few rascals what we think, because Lord knows we can’t do it for ourselves, right?  I mean, thank goodness we’ve got Occupy Wall Street to show those workers at the ports how globalization has profited the few at the expense of the many, because those workers won’t mind their livelihoods being threatened for a good cause, right? (Link)

Similarly, it’s reassuring that we’re leaning on General Electric to pay its fair share of taxes, because small employers and contracts never cheat on taxes, right?  What … you mean the practice of avoiding taxes and workers compensation insurance is widespread? (Link)

I mean … who knew?  So those accusing a minority of cheaters for all our problems are perhaps themselves doing it as well?

Well, that’s just crazy talk!  Just like suggesting that individual homeowners on Main Street were as guilty of spending unsustainable amounts of money as were those on Wall Street.

And don’t even get me started on our reticence to pursue E-Verify and similar measures to ensure that all employers and employees, both big and small, both Democratic and Republican, play by the rules.

4) It’s the fault of the English-speaking majority that non-English speakers are disadvantaged in our society.

The Federal Transit Administration is faulting Metro (link) for “not posting civil rights guidelines and other notices throughout the system in enough languages, and for not instructing riders in how to file a complaint”, as the linked Times article reported as it described the impacts on individuals such as a 78 year-old woman from Korea who moved here in 2004.

One must conclude that this woman was kidnapped in Korea, taken here kicking and screaming, and forced to navigate her way around Los Angeles on her own without any helpful translating family members.  Because otherwise, we'd have to acknowledge her taking responsibility for learning the language of a country one chooses to move to … and because we certainly see English and Spanish and Korean signs in every other country on the globe, right?

I suppose that for a metropolitan city like Los Angeles, which is seeing tourism go up from all over the globe, it makes good sense to have lots of different languages posted at bus and rail stations.  But just where do the civil rights of taxpaying Americans (be they Asian, Latino, African-American or otherwise) begin, and where do the responsibilities of those voluntarily emigrating here begin, with respect to assuming the financial costs of these translation efforts?

Whether it’s “spin”, “political correctness” or “paradigms”, the onslaught of intellectual, political and moral arm-twisting on how we’re supposed to think continues with increasing intensity and with almost religious fervor.

One can only hope that the paradigms of warning of the Orwellian scenarios of “1984” and “Animal Farm”, encouraging our two-party system, and the freedom to agree to disagree will equally thrive in a society that never wants to stop telling us how to think.

(Ken Alpern is a former Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Vice Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at   The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.) –cw

Tags: Ken Alpern, paradigms, Rudolf Montiel, LA Housing Authority, President Obama, GOP, Democrats, Occupy Wall Street, Tea Party, Jon Corzine, New Jersey, Steve Jobs, General Electric

Vol 9 Issue 99
Pub: Dec 13, 2011