An anti-war sonnet

(from 2004-2005)

Old men, not young, should go to war.
The young are fearless, older men
have learned acceptance.  Even when
They’re faced with death, it cannot mar
The record of the life they’ve led.
They’ll fight with calm, the almost dead.
Young men will often go too far,
Old men, not young, should go to war.

But, soft, that argument is wrong.
Old men enjoy a summer’s day
As much as any callow youth.
Young men, though fearless, brave, and strong,
Need time for laughter and for play.
We all should stay at home, in truth.

Accountability

Accountability is the fourth Principle of Political Life.  All officeholders are accountable, and should be held to be accountable by the voters.

Unfortunately, once again there is a problem.  The average voter simply doesn’t know enough about the purview and duties of public officeholders to properly call them to account.  See my post on Civics.  In order to hold someone accountable, you have to be aware of what he or she is doing.  And in this country, and in my state of California, the Press now focuses more and more on scandal and less and less on straight political reporting.

As a result of the public’s lack of interest and lack of knowledge of the day-to-day workings of government, too many officeholders here in California (and, I suspect, in other states) live in a bubble, much like your average celebrity – surrounded by people who tell them how good they are, and cut off from the people they represent.  (Of course, in this case, “too many” is the same thing as “any” – most officeholders in California do understand that they are representatives of the people.)

One way to attack this problem is to increase the number of state legislators (although not to the extreme of New Hampshire  – practically everybody in that state is a state legislator) to some reasonable level.   In California, a State Senator, and there are forty of them, represents nearly a million people.  That’s too many.

Objectivity

The third Principle of Political Life is Objectivity:  appointments and similar decisions should be made on the basis of merit.

At first glance, this would appear too be the purest of principles: who would argue for appointments on any basis but merit?  Well, I would, sort of.

Proposition 140, the second greatest mistake the voters of California have made (after Proposition 13) did several pernicious things with regard to the Legislature:

  • it established term limits, thus assuring that the legislative expertise necessary to solving difficult problems disappeared
  • it greatly reduced the staffing of the Legislature, thus making sure that power flowed from the Legislative branch of California Government to the Executive branch
  • it removed legislators from the public pension system, so that anyone elected to the Legislature who wasn’t rich, anyone who devoted themselves to public service without thought of financial gain, would have difficulties making ends meet after leaving office.

I therefore reluctantly support the appointment of former legislators to Boards and Commissions after they leave office.  We must find ways to help people of modest means to attain and retain public office.   The alternative is oligarchy.

the semicinquain

The cinquain, a haiku-like verse-form, was invented in 1915 by Adelaide Crapsey

Here is an example of a semicinquain, a verse form I invented in 2011.   The semicinquain is a variant of the didactic cinquain and consists of five lines, the first of which is one syllable, the second two syllables, the third three syllables the fourth four syllables, and the last one syllable again.  Unlike the didactic cinquain, there are no rules as to what the syllables can express.

Guilt
Festers.
Set it free.
Give it wings to
Fly.

Book Giveaway

I am giving away free copies of my book of children’s verse  A is for Arnyx.   The giveaway is managed by Goodreads.com.  Visit my Book Page to enter.   It just takes a click.