Saturday, 13 May 2017

Mother's Day 2017 - Special People, Exceptional Women

Tribute on Mother’s Day 2017

Gone forever from my life now are
The mothers and women who loved me most
During their life,
Granny, Mother and wife Rosie.
My life wanders, lingering on alone
In a world still mourning the loss
Of its greatest human treasures.

Mother left first, a year after surviving stroke.
Rosie fought for 2 years against the cancer scourge
Before the good Lord took her to rest with Him.
I remember the springtime Granny died;
It was a beautiful sunny springday in 2003.
After 101 years, 6 children, 20 grandchildren,
And 28 great-grandchildren.
A line of 54 offsprings over a blessed century well-lived.

Today, timeless memories rush in
Bringing loving moments of joy,
Recalling the joyous moments of love.
I remembered
They held my hands guiding me
through life’s unseen dangers,
And grow me to be a man.
They gave completely of themselves;
Unconditional without hesitation,
Or thoughts of gain and self.
Expecting nothing in return;
Only to love in their turn.

They taught me life’s
Most important great lessons:
That to love brings to others
The key to the gates of happiness,
And to be loved gives
Meaning and purpose to life.
I know as I shall look back each day,
The moments truly lived have been
With those I have loved
And those who also loved me.

Love returned in 2012 when Pingping
Nurtures in me the courage
To be loved as love first found me.
Her love strengthens me,
As we walk in joyful matrimony through
The valleys in the deep shadow of life.
I shall never walk alone again,
As the spirit of love returned to my heart.

Love has found me once more,
Living the legacy of  three mothers,
Testifying a time
When the essence of love
Flows from their hearts,
Creating the beauty in their souls.

On this mother’s day 2017,
May they rest in peace in wait
For our meet at the special place in my heart,
Where we shall embrace again
And walk together through eternity
To the end of the times.

© 2017  Michael Heng

Dedicated to the special women who love me

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Reflecting on After Death.

Lessons from my Father after his death

May Day 2017.  The night before, Father passed on from this life. Death consumed him quietly after a full dinner as he rested; shutting down his lungs, his breathing ceased and finally his heart stopped. At a full life of 90-years old, Father was ready; and has been ready for quite a while since Mother succumbed to her stroke which paralysed her for over a year some 17 years ago.  Their blissful life was survived by 6 children, 6 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren! What a blessed life indeed!      

Death is personal and customised for each one of us.  It accompanies us like a personal shadow, growing as we grow, and at time looming larger or taller depending on the role it chooses as our alternate self. Death’s only story is the story of our life. It has no separate meaning other than whatever we have made with our life.  We are death’s only friend; that’s why it is often confusing as we hear its voice beckoned so welcoming when our time cometh as we then struggle to prolong our earthly time by grasping at the straw of a diminishing life.         

The fear of death is quite exaggerated, and unfounded, when to die is actually perfectly normal.  All natural living things die.  It is such an important part of the natural process.  Death is many things to different people who prefer not to talk or think about it.  Like it or not, though most of us do not like it, it is more like we do not like its often uncertain timing.  If only we can choose when to die, wouldn’t that be great! 

The main problem is that most people are not ready to die. Yet, most would live their life as if death would not occur.  We know life is short, and yet we rush through it without spending quality time to appreciate the beauty of nature or create meaningful moments with our loved ones.  Many eat the wrong diets that shorten our short life-span; others repeatedly poison their bodies with tobacco and nicotine; or regularly drown their stomach, livers and kidneys in alcoholic beverages; and millions others are addicted to consume strange chemicals in the forms of vitamin-substitutes, health “supplements” and man-made medicines. Ironically, death probably never works harder to prevent the onset of massive and pandemic premature human deaths that should otherwise occur as a natural consequence of mankind suicidal life-styles!                

Death is also romanticised by a spiritual interpretation.  Many man-made religions teach death as the separation of the imagined human “soul” from the physical body, and which goes on living somewhere forever … to “heaven” if one has been “good”, to “hell” if he/she has been “bad” or to a “holding” location to be determined by some “gods” or divine beings.  Some religious beliefs would “recycle” the dead back to this world to provide another opportunity for them to live a “better” life … why not send them back to a better version of this world, I wonder?!  Who indeed would want to come back to this wretched broken world again …!       

There is no evidence that the probabilistic existence of “heaven” and “hell”, or “recycling” for a better life, has any effect on criminal behavior or better civic treatment of fellow human beings or more socially responsible behavior in the community.  My take is that everyone knew that no one is really “good” enough to go to heaven … everyone irrespective of our jobs or station in life is guilty of insufficient “good” deeds to qualify for that hallowed “heaven” place.  We are all condemned by the good that we failed to do! That would leave “hell” as the common final destination for the human souls; this is really comforting since many friends, buddies, and enemies, would therefore be re-united after death.      

The notion of the “afterlife” is a denial of death being the end of life.  People are just not ready to leave their loved ones, or to stop enjoying their daily golf games or to cease having their party fun. Others are really happy growing their businesses, increasing personal wealth and prosperity way beyond their need to fuel a greater sense of security and enhance their happiness assets.  To many, the “afterlife” is necessary in order to be truly human. For them, life is a path that must lead somewhere, anywhere … as long as it does not just end!  

The thought of a continuing life beyond death, especially if it be the “heavens”, is seductive and attractive. Some refer to this as the “eternal” life promised by some man-made religions. Indeed, if the “eternal” life awaits us in the “afterlife”, what then is the value of living the present life?  Should not this current life be best shortened so that as many as possible could proceed to the better life hereafter?  Imagine the tremendous benefits resulted in terms of reducing the exploding global population, hereby easing the over-exploitation of earth’s non-renewable resources and making abundant again opportunities for better health, jobs, education and social interaction.  The one billion children who go to bed hungry daily would just become history quickly, if only those who believe in the “eternal afterlife” prepare to depart and embark to their next life as soon as possible!          

For the millions who believe in the happier, more joyous and substantially more satisfying “afterlife”, death is no longer relevant or material.  On any day of their choosing, their spirits can enter the “heavens” as they race across the finish line of this life to enter “heaven’s” pearly gates for another journey perhaps into the life hereafter.  The “afterlife” could very well be just another journey, in an endless series of never-ending journeys.  When would it all end, I wonder? 

When shall we reach the “everlasting” life, our final rest where we no longer have to face the pains and frustrations of disappointments and betrayals, of unfulfilled promises by failing man-made Gods and gods, of unrequited love and gratitude forlorn, and of social exploitation and economic deprivation?  I found no answer here.         

Death does not deserve our worthy consideration.  The loss of life and consciousness, followed by the systematic shutdown of vital organs as life’s important energy is drained as it is slowly enveloped by death is a picture of abject indignity.  Flesh shall turn to dust and bones shall turn to stick or be crushed into powder. The mouth opens but no sounds can come forth. The body as a shell for the soul is exposed; empty now, it awaits to return as dust to dust.    

Death is truly exaggerated, as I have said in the beginning.  No one needs to fear death. Death is irrelevant to life.  Death is but a necessary station along life’s journey.  For most people, it’s the end of their journey; for others merely the beginning of their next journey; and still others, just a pit-stop before recycling through this life again.  Death as a necessary milestone cannot be conquered. 

We should not feel less afraid to die, whatever we believe.  Truth is, after you are dead, you would not even know it!  Death is not the end of life.  It is an integral part of it.  Even as Father is lowered to be cremated, I was not thinking about his death. I celebrated his life in my mind, recalling memories of our moments together and he reminded me that we are blessed with life, that he was the one who blessed us with his life in the beginning.  


Saturday, 31 December 2016

2017 - The Age of Singularity Returns

In the Age of Singularity from 2017, know that:
There are only ONE Truth, only ONE Happiness, and only ONE Destiny.

Yesterday, an epoch ended, and another begins today.
Today, we enter the Age of Singularity once again.

For many only yesterday at the edge of hopelessness,
With others languishing in the throes
Of unbearable pain and intolerable wait; 
Whereas many more think it to be the end of their times,
Apocalypse has been postponed forever
As the Age of Singularity returns.
Today, we shall leave the inhospitable past
To begin a fresh new journey to obtain
The certainty of Singularity hope.  

This is the next stage in my life journey
Towards the destination at eternity’s edge
At the end of all the times
And to where time shall begin, again.

The past 366 days living at the edge of tomorrow,
And the 22,230 days of my life before today,
Were a continuous daily struggle in the ether of change and hope;
Navigating the pitfalls and milestones of errors,
Avoiding the tombstones of reluctant heroes,
To escape the end of otherwise meaningless existence. 

As TS Eliot so aptly put in “Little Gidding” (1942):
“We shall not cease from exploration;
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time”.

Of the pilgrimage towards life’s inevitable destination,
Guided only by the longing of one’s heart.   

2017 is an exceptional Year of unique Singularity;
It possesses the emergent power of “One”,
From 2017=(2+0+1+7)=10=(1+0)=1.
In Mathematics, “1” is an axiom as the self-evident truth;
Indeed, “1” exists as the very first self-evident truth without need for proof.
The Singularity “1” is thus Truth manifested.

2017 is also a Prime Number divisible only by itself and 1.
Prime numbers are the building blocks of numbers or knowledge,
And they exist independent of any logic or circumstances;
Basically, they are truths in themselves.

My past 22,230 days combines (2+2+2+3+0=9) into the number “9”
To signify the highest level of
Change and transformation happenings in 2017
From their unique confluence today and here forth.
Incidentally, the resultant “10” in 2017, (2+0+1+7=10),
Reveals the rebirth essence of the Age of the Singularity.

Further, ignoring “0” and assuming 1=A, 2=B, 3=C … 7=G,
2017 also translates into (B+A+G=Bag, or Baggage);
And so the Prime 2017 Singularity shall pack the inevitable baggage
Of the past into itself as the BAG;
All the paradox, ambiguity, chaos, absence and silence
That was central to the human condition,
Thus providing singular clarity with crystal vision
To empower a deeper understanding through the lens of its power of “1”.

In the Age of Singularity from 2017, know that:
There are only ONE Truth, only ONE Happiness, and only ONE Destiny. 

There is only ONE Truth

The first Singularity appears at the time of creation.  It is the primordial force of the Big Bang to give life to mankind’s existence. Singularity repeatedly visits mankind throughout the ages to provide the light of truth so that we will live purposefully by choice, without any delusions and illusions of false religions, myths, superstitions, man-made beliefs, true lies and more half truths, or the false promises of competition and domination, man-made celestial hope and the empty promises of economic exploitation.

Into the Age of Singularity, I shall continue to pursue and promote truths beyond conflated myths, facts, and fiction, to discover the truth faith that bridges wherever there to here.   My faith has strengthen as unbelief and disbelief are debunked when knowledge and wisdom overcome the delusions and illusions of man-made religions.

I am forever amazed and baffled by the fact that most of the faithful of the largest religions are among the most deprived, vulnerable, disadvantaged and poorest.  And that’s probably more than two-thirds of the world populations! 

In the not so distant past, virgins were sacrificed to the Gods or lesser gods in order to assure a great harvest.  There must be times where such virgins were sacrificed without bringing the rain … repeatedly!  Yet, the hungry and famished survivors would continue to believe in their failing Gods and gods!  Stupidly, no one apparently learnt that for the Gods and gods to be relevant and deserving of whatever worship the priestly class demanded, they must deliver steady streams of tangible benefits in the forms of food, water, good health, peace, material wealth and community harmony.  

Trust in your Gods and gods for whatever they are worthed, respect them but move on with your life.  Never be na├»ve and gullible to believe in the promises of Gods and gods fashioned by the hands of human priests and religious teachers who knew only too well the vast magnitude of broken and unanswered celestial and divine promises.  Cultivate a deep belief in yourself, period.

In the Age of Singularity, the light of Truth must overcome the darkness of blind faith and the delusions and illusions of man-made religions and philosophies.

Trusting in the power of “1” directs the Singularity to empower oneself to trust your own ability to separate right from wrong, truths from untruths and half-truths.  The Singularity “1” is a pragmatist, and does not listen to the random thoughts of others, only to your own inner voice.  “1” stands upright with pride, purpose and self-confidence, determined to achieve meaning and significance in the production of other numbers and knowledge in service beyond oneself.  It defines and embraces his own values and strives to transform dreams and ideas into reality by overcoming obstacles and human obstructions.  “1” is a focused pure energy for action, and in acting, it chooses to lead to bring him/herself and others towards the happiness of enlightenment outside and above human superstitions and delusions. 

There is only ONE Happiness

In the Age of Singularity, we should re-visit our understanding of Happiness. The elusive Happiness has driven too many into a perpetually suspended state of incompleteness resulting from their endless and futile search for that golden joy.  We do not readily recognize or admit our own hypocrisy, selfishness and insincerity for the failure.  The frequent absence of love’s central role in the pursuit of true Happiness eludes our understanding.   And our minds turn to the more tangible stuff.

The material pursuit of “more” and “better” becomes quickly the justification for the pursuit of selfishness, thinly disguised as the noble accumulation of material wealth and prosperity in the hope of locating the happiness which satisfies the ultimate true meaning and purpose of life’s brief existence. 

Expectantly and sadly, “more” and “better” did not deliver the promised Happiness.   The pursuit for life’s purpose hence degenerates into self-love as the end; which is quite inevitable really, having already availed and tasted the sweet addictive juice of the self as its sole and regular bedfellow.

In the Age of Singularity, we are mindful of the words of postmodern philosopher Richard Rorty in “Philosophy and Social Hope” (1999).   He had asserted that whereas "… there is a potential infinity of equally valuable ways to lead a human life, and these ways cannot be ranked in terms of degrees of excellence, but only in terms of their contribution to the happiness of the persons who lead them and of the communities to which these persons belong".

The Singularity Truth is that true Happiness has always been within our grasp before us, just beyond the tip of our noses.  True happiness is found only through contributing to the enhancement of happiness and love in other people.  The knowledge of this Truth empowers us to break free in natural freedom to show care and concern from the privilege to love another human being.  

Such is the eternal wisdom of Truth. The nourishing feeling of being loved feeds to drive the daily meaningless activities of work and existence.  True love is a privilege found in real Happiness which embraces much wonderful and silent pain at times.  True Happiness is forever a work-in-progress as we strive to increase its stock through love in the knowledge that the only happy response of being loved is really to love those who love us … as well as those who have not yet known us.   

There is only ONE Destiny

Life’s journey is essentially a journey of love.  In the Age of Singularity, know the power of the “1” as you reach out beyond your grasp … to go where?  What is your destination where you will meet your destiny?  Has your life’s purpose degenerated into an end in itself?

“Insanity is when you continue to do things the same way and hope for a different set of outcome or results.” - Albert Einstein

In the Age of Singularity, we shall embark on an endless transformative journey with a mindset of exponential possibilities to create an abundant future. With like-minded people, we shall grow a network of Singularity alchemists in connected learning communities to create global impact from our inspiration of exponential possibilities to produce significant change for people, planet and the environment.

The Singularity mindset focuses on the abundant future as our goal, not just in the multiplication and fair distribution of material wealth but also the leverage and application of technology and human intellect to disrupt the status quo and unlock solutions to the challenges and prospects of achieving the one Truth and One Happiness.  Our satisfaction from True Happiness shall come entirely from our efforts and work more than from any sources real or imaginary or spiritual. 

The event horizon of epic proportion for mankind arrives in 2017.  Exponential thinking for abundance will debunk and transform the ideas, thoughts and models of our religious beliefs, political systems and economic laws that have been founded upon the scarcity of resources to justify intolerable social systems of power and control to concentrate benefits and wealth in the hands of a few familities and their friends.  Convergence between some of the ideas are however possible with exponential and critical thinking.     

In and from 2017, impossibilities shall become possible.  They just take a little bit of time.  
We can question the Gods and gods;
Have peace without wars;
Joy without pain & sadness;
Abundance without poverty;
Living without sickness and disease;
Sharing without exploiting;
Collaboration without domination;
Loving without hurting or being hurt; and
To live exponentially like no tomorrow.

Yes, we can in the Age of Singularity by
Just a little consideration for others;
Just giving from what we have;
Just sharing a little more from our abundance;
Just be happy adding value for a little less profit;
Just being more gracious and less calculative;
Just be joyful to assist and serve without gain;
Just go make poverty history;
Just win the race against racism;
Just a little more love for your loved ones;
Just pray for the power of love
To vanquish the love for power.
Just choose to do the things that others won’t
So that we can always do the things that they can’t;
It is so simple to start living the Age of Singularity from Today

To make better our many tomorrows.


Friday, 30 December 2016

The State of Democracy in 2016

Learning the Poignant Lessons of US General Elections 2016  
Democracy is a slippery political concept. Many definitions abound, but none particularly helpful in furthering understanding. Many advocates of democracy attempt to define democracy in real life; dressing it up with civil liberties, popular elections, free press, free speech, right to bear arms … etc.  In post-2016 general elections, it seems natural that Americans have difficulty grasping the nature of its model of democracy.       Democracy empowers Governments to promote the welfare and well-being of its people, and not the development of its own political concepts.  Functional democratic processes can facilitate positive and progressive national development. Otherwise, democracy would face irrelevance, or change and even oblivion.

Myth of The Popular Vote in US Democracy

The US electoral system is better understood in the context of its form of political Federalism, which describes the constitutional relationship between the Federal Government and its 50 States (and Territories).  Basically, the individual States are governed independently with very minimal interference by the central Federal Government.  It also translates to political and electoral influence by the States through its Representatives in the US Congress (and Senate).

During the US General Elections, the States holds concurrent democratic elections on the 8 November every 4 years to choose their preferred Presidential Candidates by assigning “Electors” to represent the State in accordance with its population size at the Electoral College who convenes on the following 19 December to “elect” the winning Presidential candidate officially.

In 2016, the Electoral College, represented by all the 50 States, elected Donald Trump by a margin of 306-242 to be the 45th US President for 2017-2020. President-Elect Donald trump is also the most popular Republican President to ever receive 62.4 million votes.

The overall popular vote does not matter in the election of the US President. The overall popular vote is immaterial and irrelevant in the US, unlike countries like Mexico, Austria, Australia, Germany, France, East Timor and several others.  The Chief Executive of many developed countries (United Kingdom, Japan, India, Singapore … etc) are elected indirectly, and their political and electoral legitimacy do not depend on the overall popular vote.

The US electoral landscape consists of 50 States and 3,112 Counties (or Constituencies). On 8 November 2016, Donald Trump won 2,622 Counties (84%) to Hillary’s 490, and won 30 States (60%) compared to her 20, garnering an average of 56% votes in those 30 States to 53.5% by Hillary in her 20 States.

The State of California voted massively for Hillary by over 4.3 million votes is effectively responsible for all of Hillary’s 2.8 million popular votes over Trump.  Without the moderation by the Electoral College, that one State alone, California, would have over-whelmed the entire national vote and disenfranchised all other non-Californian American voters. When Californian votes are excluded, Trump’s 58,474,401 popular votes exceed Hillary’s by 1.4 million.

Clearly, in the context of American politics in 2016, the Electoral College provides the US Presidential Elections with a more democratic outcome in determining the more “popular” President, where using the national popular vote would have failed to properly articulate the democratic aspirations of 128 million US electorate for a President Donald Trump.

Myth of a Neutral Free Press – The 4th Estate Lost Its Way.

In the aftermath of the 8 Nov elections, the legitimacy of Donald Trump electoral victory over his opponent Hillary Clinton was decried by many otherwise intelligent and knowledgeable pundits, scholars and news reporters who pointed to his 3.8 million popular votes deficit relative to her.

During the weeks before the Electoral Colleges 19 December vote, the major media in their TV and newspapers perpetuated the fake news of Donald Trump’s “illegitimate” electoral victory based on the hollow basis of popular votes.  In fact, throughout the 2016 election cycle, the traditional major US media became personal and partisan in their coverage of all the Presidential candidates in open preference for Hillary Clinton.

One major US media in July 2015 even decided long before Donald Trump became the Republican Presidential nominee to report him only in its “Entertainment” pages. Basically, the newspaper has decided ahead of the US electorate that Trump should not be taken seriously.  Without any apology, the policy was changed on 7 Dec 2016, one month after Trump became the US President-elect.

US media bias in favour of Hillary Clinton and her family’s Clinton Foundation is both baffling and unfathomable to any averagely intelligent audience.  There is no explanation by any of the biased media why Hillary should be so favoured or actively supported. Precisely what they hope to gain from her Presidency if elected is unknown.

It is even more mysterious why even the powerful Washington Post, winner of 47 Pulitzer Prizes and famous for its expose on President Nixon’s Watergate Scandal expose and coverage, as well as other highly reputable investigative journalism media would not dare or want to expose or failed to unpack Hillary’s historical and personal ineligibility for the highest office of the land.

Throughout the US Presidential cycle 2016, the media failed miserably to play its 4th estate socially responsible role as the watchdog of a democratic society and the defender of the citizenry’s democratic rights which include disseminating the naked and undiluted facts and information to empower informed opinion in the exercise of electoral choice.

By not exposing “fake news” and actively participating in their fabrication together with other “non-news”, the media increasingly pollute the public sphere entrusted to them.  And as the public sphere of rational and reasoned conversations became dirtied and clouded by fake and non-news, the public trust in the media lost its bearing as the major media leaders adopt a “we-know-better” role to manipulate public opinion to anchor its own interests to the status quo web of political and power economic interests.

Have the media learnt nothing from the 2016 US election?  A major media reported, followed by others, that Trump’s Campaign paid $12.5 million to his own businesses during his campaign for planes, hotels, land transport, food catering, staff payroll … etc which he would otherwise have to pay 3rd party vendors. Of course, not reported is a comparison with 3rd party costs which would be helpful to readers for better, more complete understanding, and to also inform their readers that Trump himself actually also contributed $68 million to his own Campaign.  How does this constitute “real” news?

Is this “fake news” or “non-news”?
A man who spent his own money on himself? Or a “stupid” politician who is still out of pocket by $55 millions? And is the fact that this same politician, whose personal worth has been valued at more than at $6 billion, also rejected the $400,000 Presidential annual salary that he is now entitled to (which amounts to $1.6 million during his 4-year term).  In fact, none of the media reported that Trump’s opponent Hillary did not contribute a single dollar to her campaign but instead raised more than $1 billion, only to lose the general elections.

Why is it not news to the media that Americans will be having a “free” President for the next 4 years?  Instead, the same media has spun a “Conflict of Interests” story on President-elect Trump, who stands to forego more than a few hundred million dollars in foregone business deals, Presidential salaries, election expenses and profits from his current businesses.  Even current President Obama could expect only a $45 million book deal which together with his $3.2 million salary over the last 8 years would have enriched him by less than $50 million, a paltry sum to Trump! Whither the “conflict of interest” for President Trump?

Traditional media should abandon their self-assumed role as makers and manipulators of public opinion.  They should re-imagine, re-examine, and then recalibrate their role as the keeper of a neutral public sphere for democratic expression and action, especially in the light of new social media where everyone can aspire to be a news producer and news fabricator.

To return to public acceptance and credibility, the discredited media should acknowledge and lead public opinion and action against the web of pervasive corrupt practices and illegal behaviors revealed during the 2016 election cycle. The chief scourge of a democratic society is corruption.

The Corruption of Democracy

The FBI investigations continued. The election of Donald Trump as the next US President prevented a travesty of justice had the investigations been stopped under a President Hillary into her alleged perjury to the FBI and a Congress Select Committee on her illegal email server, as well as the ongoing FBI investigations into her family’s Clinton Foundation, specifically her alleged “pay-for-play” quid pro quo access to power players while as US Secretary of State from 2009-2013.

Hillary was alleged to have used her official position as Secretary of State to grant favours to major Clinton Foundation donors in contravention to US laws.  More than 55% of her non-governmental visitors and meetings were Clinton Foundation donors.

Leaked emails from Hillary’s illegal private server also provided confirming evidence of the unlawful collusion between her State Department and the Clinton Foundation.   The emails also showed how major Clinton Foundation donors gained access to her with their Foundation ties. Emails, all of which belongs to the US Government, were also illegally destroyed despite their official requests by Congress and the FBI.

Democracy is synonymous with the rule of law according to the principle that it shall be applied without fear or favour equally on every person. No one is above the law.  Without a system of laws, legal procedures and fearless judges, democracy would not survive. President Trump would have to decide with his new Attorney General as to whether to proceed with the prosecution of Hillary Clinton and associated persons/parties involved in the alleged corrupt and illegal activities at the Clinton Foundation.

At the minimum, a Special Prosecutor should be appointed to convene a Grand Jury to determine whether there are sufficient evidence to indict and proceed to a court trial for a final criminality verdict.  The decision on the fate of Hillary, the Clinton Foundation and other involved persons should now be rightfully placed in the hands of a jury of their peers.  Only with this leadership initiative can democracy begin to restore the rule of law in the US.

It is Always about the Economy of the People, Stupid!

Enough of the Russian hacks, Presidential candidates with flawed personalities, vote riggings, the Clinton corruptions and FBI investigations!  The democratic outcome of the US elections has a much simpler explanation.

Former US President Bill Clinton already observed in 2015, a year before the elections, that the Obama years resulted in hopelessness among the white working class. African-American or Black Americans are also worse off compared with when President Obama took office in 2008.

According to the US Census Bureau, more Black Americans are now struggling below the poverty line, from 25.8% in 2009 to 26.2% in 2014, in spite of their 30% improvement in employment, in mostly low paying jobs, but remains twice that of white unemployment.  Their real median income accordingly drops from $35,954 to $35,398.  Black home ownership decreased from 46.1% to 41.9% over the same period. The US Department of Agriculture also reported a 58.2% increase in food stamp recipients among Black Americans from 7,393,000 to 11,699,000.

Overall, the American economy has been sluggish and non-performing to the degree where people feel significant improvements for nearly all of President Obama’s 8 years. There were only 6 quarters of good news out of the 31 quarters before the elections, despite steady jobs growth, mostly in low paying jobs.

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll on US Election Day on the 8 Nov 2016, the economy, terrorism and healthcare ranked as the top three concerns facing Americans voter. The poll of about 35,000 people found that 25% of voters picked the economy as the “most important problem”.  Another 14% named “terrorism/terrorist attacks” and 13% picked healthcare.  When other things are considered, the people in a democracy expect their political choice to deliver benefits and satisfaction with credible impact; otherwise, they will want a change of leadership.  And they have decided that change to be President-elect Donald J Trump.

Key Lessons for Other Democracies

There is no guarantee that the new American choice will reverse the American economic, political and social decline since 2001.   The obvious limitation of democracy is the belief that democracy is the panacea for the social, economic and political production of the greatest good and benefits for the largest number.

Truth is, democracy does not and has never promised the delivery of beneficial political and social development or high quality public economic goods.  There is no basis to assume or presume that democratically-elected governments and high-quality public economic goods are in fact synonymous.  The facts of history seem to be on the side of the benevolent dictator, the paternalistic autocrat, the corporatist, but not the democrat.  The continuous decline of the US economy, and her socio-political divisions along racial, religious, life-style, female choices and philosophical is just another example of the impotence of democracy to transcend human greed, failings and our natural insatiable need to acquire and control power, wealth, influence and people.

There is no one type of democracy.  American democracy is only one of the many models in existence.  No model is superior to any other, by any standard or indicators of measures.  Whether it is British parliamentary democracy or the Swiss direct democracy by canton or the ancient Greek direct participation model or Singapore corporatist democratic socialism or the popular mass democracy whose “popular vote” seems to appeal to many Americans after the US elections, none would have altered the mood of the American electorate for the immediate end of Obama’s 8 years of hopeless change and empty promises in exchange for the risk of a new Trumpian message of “Hope and Change”.

Basically, the democracy interruptus lesson of 2016 is that when your team did not win the Finals of the ballgame, it is not the colour of the ball or its shape or its rules, but can more directly find attribution and culpability in the players, playbook, captain and managers.  Essentially, flawed (especially corrupt) candidates, the absence of clear messaging, lack of voters-centred policies and the arrogance of political entitlement explained best the effective functioning of US democracy in her 2016 general elections.

Democracy merely provides a decision-making frame for the governed to make choices among who shall govern them.  Democracy is not a quality management standard with a checklist of best practices and good conduct procedures.  Understanding this true nature of democracy prevents an over-rated and false conception of democracy.  The many forms and styles of democracy in various countries have evolved to suit their respective contextual domains.

Is a mass-based popular democracy better than a “bad” democracy (for example, like the US Electoral College according to many pundits, scholars and news commentators) and better than a benevolent democratic dictatorship?  We can now understand why the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once described democracy as the “worst form of government except for all the others”.  Ultimately, the test of the democratic pudding lies in the palate and stomach of the electorate.

Singapore manages democracy as a governance tool in the manner that works for us since independence 50 years ago; with regular free and fair elections and in a political climate characterized by freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of religious beliefs and the freedom of choice.  If these were what democracy could facilitate, it shall be great!  If not, democracy should get out of the way as we journey toward a better, more prosperous, fairer and equal society of one Singapore and one nation.  Hopefully, the American people begin to re-learn these basic truths about democracy before their next general elections in 2020.