What I Believe

It seems to me…

Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”  ~ The Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll).

A friend asked me if I wrote fiction or nonfiction.  When I told him I never have written fiction, he laughed and said he considered most of what I write to be fiction…

There are times when I wonder what I really believe.  The problem is that what I believe is true as of this moment – not ten minutes ago or ten minutes from now.  Hopefully everything I learn and experience influences my beliefs.  I am human, imperfect, and incomplete – a work in progress always to remain unfinished.

That said, I will not nor will I ask someone else to compromise on what we consider to be basic moral values.  Not everyone will always agree with me on every subject and they should not expect me to agree with them.  (But depending upon the extent of my disagreement, I might feel obligated to express that disagreement.  J )

Politically, though dependent upon the specific issue, I usually am a liberal-conservative (or is that a conservative-liberal?).  Like most people, I do not neatly fit within some static inflexible rubric.  When voting, I normally vote a straight Independent ticket – no one party provides all the answers and much prefer to select the candidate I consider best suited for the office.

I originally was a registered Republican and remained so for quite a few years prior to considering myself an Independent.  (Disclosure: Barb, my wife, registered as a Republican; I registered as a Democrat so we would not be totally disenfranchised in primary elections.)  Looking back at some of the things I wrote years ago, I’m probably slightly more conservative now than I was when younger.  The problem is both political parties probably beginning about when Reagan was President have lurched toward the right.  Republicans, especially the Tea Party, have pushed so far to the right they now have become only a caricature of their former conservative values.  The Democrats also have shifted to the right of center leaving us without any remaining liberal party alternative.  I did not leave the Republican Party so much as they left me.

If someone strongly believes in some general principles, they should stand up for them – no surrender or appeasement.  However, there are situations while maintaining your beliefs, compromise is in the best interests of everyone affected by whatever decisions ultimately are agreed upon (are you listening Congress?).

That said, the following constitute some of my current basic beliefs.  Most have been (or will be) expanded upon in my blogs.

I believe…

My primary responsibility is to God, family, country…

Everyone, regardless of who they are, where they might be, or in what they believe, is entitled to our respect of their dignity and potential.

Earth is the only planet we have and we need to take better care of it.

We deserve competent political leaders more dedicated to the welfare of our country than personal benefit or ideological doctrine.

Our country’s greatest days are not yet behind us but the future depends on innovation and creativity to a much great extent than in the past.

There is no such thing as a free lunch and while a national balanced budget requirement is not advisable, multi-year spending must not exceed income.

While sales taxes are regressive, users of most resources or services should be the ones paying for them: Postal Service, transportation infrastructure, health services, retirement…

Our educational system once was the best in the world and we need to restore it to that level.

Our country’s future is dependent upon educating every person to the highest level possible – especially in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Providing quality education benefits our country and no student should incur personal debt while acquiring his or her education.

We need to open our country’s doors and once again become where the world’s goes for the highest quality education possible.

Today’s research is the only way to provide tomorrow’s employment opportunities.

Our medical care and treatment should be comparable to what is available elsewhere in the developed world.

It is not fair for anyone to lose everything they have or be destitute as a result of medical problems – everyone should be required to have adequate medical insurance.

Everyone is personally responsible for his or her own support but it sometimes is necessary to provide short-term unemployment assistance (and retraining or education when appropriate).

The elderly should be able to enjoy retirement at some sustainable level without living in poverty.

Veterans have earned a right to adequate healthcare, education, and employment.

Both military combat and the death penalty are unacceptable (but I also believe in President Roosevelt’s advice to “speak softly and carry a big stick”).

Every citizen should be required to serve some type of government-sponsored basic universal service: military, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, or other nationally recognized organization.

Every community is entitled to adequate police, fire, and emergency assistance.

Something is wrong when we spend more to incarcerate criminals than on elementary education.

Anyone convicted of a criminal charge should be required to fully reimburse all costs related to their investigation, prosecution, and incarceration.

The infrastructure of our country needs to be maintained at adequate levels.

Protecting our environment not only makes good sense, it is beneficial to our economy.

Our immigration policies need to be revised recognizing beneficial contributions made by undocumented (illegal) workers.

Yes, there is much more that I believe but this, hopefully, will suffice as a start.  It also should serve as a clarification for some of both the compliments and criticism I frequently receive.  No, I do not pretend to either understand all the issues or know the solutions for our problems.

Now, at the start of a New Year, maybe some of the politically motivated demagoguery and acrimony can be set behind us.  Given this is an election year, that might be wishful thinking.  Still, hope springs eternal…[i]

Happy New Year

That’s what I think, what about you?


[i]Hope springs eternal in the human breast: Man never is, but always to be blest.”  ~ Alexander Pope.

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About lewbornmann

Lewis J. Bornmann has his doctorate in Computer Science. He became a volunteer for the American Red Cross following his retirement from teaching Computer Science, Mathematics, and Information Systems, at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, CO. He previously was on the staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, Stanford University, and several other universities. Dr. Bornmann has provided emergency assistance in areas devastated by hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. He has responded to emergencies on local Disaster Action Teams (DAT), assisted with Services to Armed Forces (SAF), and taught Disaster Services classes and Health & Safety classes. He and his wife, Barb, are certified operators of the American Red Cross Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV), a self-contained unit capable of providing satellite-based communications and technology-related assistance at disaster sites. He served on the governing board of a large international professional organization (ACM), was chair of a committee overseeing several hundred worldwide volunteer chapters, helped organize large international conferences, served on numerous technical committees, and presented technical papers at numerous symposiums and conferences. He has numerous Who’s Who citations for his technical and professional contributions and many years of management experience with major corporations including General Electric, Boeing, and as an independent contractor. He was a principal contributor on numerous large technology-related development projects, including having written the Systems Concepts for NASA’s largest supercomputing system at the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. With over 40 years of experience in scientific and commercial computer systems management and development, he worked on a wide variety of computer-related systems from small single embedded microprocessor based applications to some of the largest distributed heterogeneous supercomputing systems ever planned.
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4 Responses to What I Believe

  1. berlioz says:

    Happy New Year to you too. Please stick around for a few more years.
    I read with interest your “What I believe…”.

    When I came down to the following,
    “Anyone convicted of a criminal charge should be required to fully reimburse all costs related to their investigation, prosecution, and incarceration.”,
    I was wondering what made you think this one. Bad experience? I know the cost are astronomical and are a drain on the state’s budget. I have read somewhere that there are over 3 million people incarcerated in the USA. And how many people are added each year and how many are being released? All those people would create an underclass of permanent bankrupt people. Because of their criminal history they would be hard pressed to find a job.

    No, I think this is a bad idea. Sorry, to disagree with you on this one.

    • lewbornmann says:

      As with so many basic social issues: YES — and NO… The percentage of a country’s population in prison probably is one of the best indicators of the basic health of that country. If so, the U.S. definitely is need of some health care.

      For the most part, those convicted of having committed an offense are already without sufficient financial resources to provide an adequate standard of living. That said, I believe insufficient attention has been directed to eliminating the basic causes for crime rather than strictly focusing on punishment. Reform will not occur until the majority of the public recognize the financial benefit of prevention rather than punishment. Today, the general public only is aware of the total costs of the legal system; a more affective way of bring these to the public’s attention is needed. What I suggest might not be the best way but major reform is necessary and I’m willing to try something else.

      The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) at the end of 2009, 7,225,800 people were on probation, in jail or prison, or on parole — about 3.1 percent of adults in the U.S. resident population, or 1 in every 32 adults. The UK has the highest relative prison population in Europe with about 1 in 709 of its citizens imprisoned.

      The U.S. also has the highest total documented prison and jail population in the world with its prison population accounting for fully a quarter of the world’s prisoners. No other country in the world comes close to these numbers. The far more populous China ranks second, with a prison population of approximately 1.5 million. The number of incarcerated persons in the U.S. now exceeds the population of all but three cities in the country and is equivalent to the combined populations of Seattle, Boston, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C.

      Recidivism also is extremely high in the U.S. with 53 percent of arrested males and 39 percent of arrested females being re-incarcerated (2003). While criminal recidivism is highly correlated with psychopathy, one of the main reasons why released prisoners find themselves back in jail is because it is difficult for the individual to fit back in with ‘normal’ life. They have to reestablish ties with their family, return to high-risk places, and secure formal identification; they often have a poor work history and now have a criminal record to deal with .

      While system reform is needed, no one is able to agree on the best methods to accomplish it. Rehabilitation is the idea of ‘curing’ an offender of his or her criminal tendencies, of changing their habits, their outlook and possibly even personality, so as to make them less inclined to commit crimes in the future . It seeks to prevent a person from reoffending by taking away the desire to offend. This is very different from the idea of ‘deterrence’ (which is the idea of making him afraid to offend, though he may still desire to), and the idea of ‘incapacitation’ (which is the idea of taking away his physical power to offend, though he may still desire to and be unafraid to). These three consequentialist, or utilitarian ideas are in turn very different from the penological idea of ‘retribution’ – which is not primarily about reducing reoffending.

      The retributive idea is that punishment should be determined chiefly (possibly even only) by the seriousness of the crime itself, and not by consequentialist factors, such as whether the punishment is enough to scare (i.e. deter) the rest of society. It is a very serious mistake to think that the retributive ideal in the criminal justice system is about vengeance, retaliation, or payback. Rather, it is an extremely sophisticated idea that often forms the basis of, and arguably is even the leading indication of, a developed sentencing system. The term ‘retribution’ is therefore unfortunate because its everyday meaning connotes ‘revenge’; it is better described as ‘desert’, ‘just deserts’ or ‘proportionality’ theory.

      The debate between rehabilitation and ‘retribution’ involves two broad questions: ideologically, which is the more satisfactory justification for punishment; and practically, which can serve as a more useful guide for sentencers and other agents in the criminal justice system? Attempts at rehabilitation have been judged a failure. On 18 January 1989, the abandonment of rehabilitation in corrections was confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. In Mistretta vs. United States, the Court upheld federal “sentencing guidelines” which remove rehabilitation from serious consideration when sentencing offenders . Defendants henceforth were to be sentenced strictly for the crime. By almost an 8 to 1 margin (87 percent to 11 percent), the US voting public is in favor of rehabilitative services for prisoners as opposed to a punishment-only system. Of those polled, 70 percent favored services both during incarceration and after release from prison.

      I’ll agree to give this subject additional consideration and repost the entire response in the future as a separate blog.

  2. Sugel says:

    and thus religion, as a concept, has been applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures that are not based upon such systems, or in which these systems are a substantially simpler construct.

    • berlioz1935 says:

      I don’t exactly understand what you mean. All major religions originate in the so called “East”. The “West” gave up their own pagan religions. Today the “West” seems to believe in Mammon only. Today’s temples are the shopping centres. Bishops have for centuries blessed weapons of mass destruction. Buddhists are killing Buddhists in the jungles of South East Asia. Muslims blowing up Muslims in the Middle East. They all have the commandment “You shall not kill” in one way or another. Christians dropped the atomic bomb on people, but Muslims are not allowed to have the atomic bomb.

      I think “religion, as a concept, has been applied inappropriately to” Western cultures as well.

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