Food For Thought

"Labor unions would have us believe that they transfer income from rich capitalists to poor workers. In fact, they mostly transfer income from the large number of non-union workers to a small number of relatively well-off union workers." - Robert E. Anderson

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Price of Liberty

"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived." - Gen. George S. Patton

I was having a discussion the other day with someone who was asking me why we had two holidays for veterans, Memorial Day and Veteran's Day. The latter, I explained, was originally the observation of the end of World War I (the Great War, the War to End War) at "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month".

I noted that while Memorial Day is a day to honor those who've fallen in service to our country, Veteran's Day is a day to honor any who've served in our armed forces. But it occurs to me that this is wrong.

We live in a nation that is free. We enjoy liberties that no other nation on earth possesses (regardless of what people like Michael Moore would like to portray). And yet those freedoms come at a price. In the words of John P. Curran (often misattributed to Thomas Jefferson), "The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance." People popularily paraphrase this as "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

And while the attributions and direct quotation may not be wholly correct, the idea remains. But the oft-overlooked part of this statement, or at the very least misunderstood, is the word "eternal". Our military stands a watch over us and our freedoms. That watch is constant and eternal. As the misguided Col. Jessup in "A Few Good Men" nevertheless correctly exclaimed, "
Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns."

This is a 24 by 7, 365 job. Our forefathers not only said this numerous times, they were prescient enough to acknowledge that what is guarded against is not always from without when they included in the military and civilian governmental oath, "I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." They and their successors reaffirmed the necessity of being on guard against threats both military and political:

"God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it." - Daniel Webster

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." - George Orwell

"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding." - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

The fact is that the securing of liberties of which the Declaration of Independence speaks is a neverending task. And those who are charged with it deserve to be thanked and acknowledged not just one, not just two nor even three days a year but every single moment of every single day. They stand on that wall so that we, the protected, don't have to.

"For those that will fight for it, freedom has a flavor the protected shall never know." - L/Cpl Edwin L."Tim"Craft, B Co 3rd AT's Khe Sahn Combat Base, February 1968

When I see a vet, any vet, I walk up to them and thank them for their service not on our country's behalf, but on my behalf. Their job, their choice, their sacrifices enable me to live and remain free. This means not just our military, but those who serve our government. I may not always agree with them, but I appreciate that and honor their choice of career ever day. I take their role in our nation as seriously as I take my own.

As a citizen of the United States, though I've never formally taken the oath, it is my duty as well to
support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

This is what I do. What do you do?

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Cost of Reality

Oh, God, another "money" posting. Quick, get my No-Doze! I'll try, at least, to keep this a little interesting.

In an unobtrusively placed segment, ABC News has noted that, according to the Treasury Department, the National Debt has now hit $13 Trillion. *Yawn* So? Who cares, it's just government money, they can print more, right? The debt's always getting worse, right? We're no different than any other country, right?

Wrong, Wrong and..... wait for it... RIGHT (and that last one's the scariest). So let's take these one at a time:

"It's just government money, they can print more"

Government money. Is that like that "Obama Cash"? Ladies and gentlemen, this is your money. You gave it to the government on April 15. There is no such thing as "government money". The government does not have some secret stash somewhere that it somehow 'earns' itself. It pays for its services, programs, givebacks, and bailouts with taxes. Period, end of sentence. In the words of John Coleman, "The point to remember is that what the government gives it must first take away."

And yes, it can print more. But our money has no actual value except that which is placed in faith in the government itself. There is no gold or other tangible asset that backs our currency. It is simply the faith that the U.S. Government is "good for it." And the more it prints and less faith other countries have in us, the less each dollar is worth. This, for those born after 1980, is something called "inflation" and it was considered the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

You see, our government -- the administration and the yes-men in Congress -- are "giving away" more and more. They are raising taxes and, even faster than that, increasing spending. They are trying the eminently unsuccessful and discredited Keynesian practice of "spending your way out of recession". In order to do that and not infuriate the citizens even further, they print more and more money. This devalues the money, meaning that have to print even more and it becomes a downward spiral. Analysts have been warning since this current government took office that we are destined for a crash even worse than that of the 70's that will make the current economic crisis look like a mere blip on the radar.

"The debt's always getting worse."

Once again, not so much. Some governments (notably, the Clinton administration) have decreased the National Debt. Now let's think about that. How was that accomplished? Under a Democratic President? Yes. Because it's not the President alone who sets policy. It's Congress. And if you'll look at the graphs supplied by a Clinton apologist, you'll note that it was only after the "Contract with America" which resulted in a conservative anti-tax-and-spend backlash that the National Debt decreased under that administration. At the beginning, it kept increasing. You see, Congress must approve budgets and therefore is complicit in anything that occurs with regards to taxation and spending.

"We're no different than any other county."

That's correct -- and scary. All one has to do is to turn on the news to look at what's happening in Europe. Nations, like ours, that tax and spend continuously, are failing and falling like dominoes. The most recent example, of course, is Greece, but there are rumblings that the underpinnings of other socialist economies are shaking as well. All because their citizens have bought into the idea that their government "owes" them anything beyond "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

But our government's smarter than that, right? Consider Obamacare. It proponents promised that this would be $900 billion and "no more than that." Now, however, the Congressional Budget Office is predicting $1.15 Trillion and some are projecting it to top $2 Trillion.

Who's responsible for this impending fiscal trainwreck? Certainly the current administration shoulders responsibility for laying the track and putting the engine on it. But those who are supposed to be watching out for our best interests and responding to our will, Congress, have put a fire to the boilers and stuck the throttle on "full speed ahead" towards the bridge that's out (ok, I stretched that metaphor as far as I could... or maybe not).

Congress spends, as my father would've said, faster than a drunken sailor. They are blithly partying in the egineroom as we, the nation, rush headlong toward the abyss. They do this because they've lost touch with reality. And they are all to blame, all complicit in the ensuing tragedy. So how do we avoid it? By kicking out the engineer and hiring a new one who will hit the breaks before we plummet off the end of the bridge (ok, I'm done now with the metaphor).

I'm just as committed to sound fiscal policy as I am to compassionate and social liberty. I want the government out of my pocket and out of my moral and personal decisions. And I am committed to replacing my "representatives", who don't represent me, with ones who do.

This is what I'm doing. What are you doing?

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Clear and Present Danger

I'm back from the "Vacation From Hell" and am raring to go with postings. Thanks to those of you who've kept me "in the loop" as I've been away. I have a number of topics I'll be covering, soon, but I wanted to take this time to address a concern.

The Tea Party movement is in danger; not from the liberal media, not from the Congressmen that it assails, not even from the White House, but from within. It is in danger because some of its members (and some non-members) have bought into the hype of the popular media and are assuming that it can be used as a grass roots political organization. One of my friends has pointed out that he's become disillusioned at some of the recent rallies which have turned into nothing more than Chautauqua tents for people to announce their various candidacies.

Upon my return, I received an email from one of the local Tea Party organizers that asked his readers for ideas on how best the group could promote a certain candidate. I was about to compose my response when someone else struck the first blow. I followed up with the following, which is my warning to all those who attend or organize these rallies and, to a greater extent, those who would attempt to co-opt this massive tide of revolt.

Dear xxxxx,
I was going to write something VERY similar. The Tea Party movement in specific and Conservatism in general are
not political parties. I, for one, am upset that they've been co-opted to be that by members who wish to run for public office.

What has defined the Tea Party movement is that it is a sentiment that well and truly cross cultural, racial and political barriers. That's its major strength. To reduce it to a political party or lobby destroys its credibility and demeans those who believe in its principles -- less government and more involvement "of, by and for the people".

Education of the principles of Conservatism are the key. That will allow people of any political stripe to then examine their consciences and their candidates and make decisions based on principle instead of voting the "straight party line". Anything else, as evidenced by H. Ross Perot and Ralph Nader, falls apart and fails due to internal doctrinal difficulties.

In the words of Harlan Ellison, "Everyone is entitled to an informed opinion."

And the corallary, as voiced by Adolf Hitler, is "What luck for the rulers that men do not think."

Independence and freedom include independence of thought and freedom of action. No single candidate nor political party embrace or align with all my views. Instead, as I have stated and is a point of my "Action Plan" (look to the right of this page), I will support the candidates who most closely align with my core principles regardless of party affiliation. Why? Because We the People have been betrayed by both parties. We have been sold a bill of goods by career politicians (including you, Mr. Roth) and you are all at risk.

It is time for revolution and I am taking this revolution to the "rulers" regardless of party. This is what I'm doing. What are you doing?

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Taste of Things to Come

1984 has indeed arrived, albeit several decades late. And in no small measure, as indicated by a number of very disturbing stories from around the world.

In his seminal work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, English historian Edward Gibbon points to the "loss of civic virtue" of the Roman citizens. He shows that as they gave up their Rights, outsourced their strengths (hiring mercenaries, allowing their military -- a strength of their state -- to fracture and atrophy) and become fixated on "immediate gratification", their civilization became decadent and rotted from within. In essence, the Empire became so wealthy, so great, that its citizens felt "entitlements" and they were no longer interested in being "winners" on the world stage, let alone competitive. They became complacent and relied on their government to "provide" for them.

How prescient for what happened to Gibbon's own country. The British Empire, once the most powerful and wealthiest nation on the face of the earth has descended into a socialist chaos. A state where the government not only spies on its citizens, monitoring their every move, but where the "slackers" have a "right" to be paid to stay home and drink all day (yup, you read that right, the guy gets £20,000 per year so he can stay home and drink and his kids can have video games -- and he boasts about it).

Successive leftist governments in Great Britain, including the socialist in conservative colors, Gordon Brown, have left the country as the punchline to a joke -- often referred to by bloggers and others as the Nanny State.

But this isn't unique to England. This last week, a good friend went to Greece for his honeymoon; just in time for he riots. Now, I know a lot of people don't have the foggiest about what's going on over there, so let me simplify it in bullet points:

  • The country of Greece (yup, the whole damn country) is bankrupt. Why? Simple -- because the government is responsible for providing nearly everything for their citizens so that they can enjoy a life of leisure. Think I'm kidding? Read on.
  • So, since Greece is part of the European Union and because the tanking of their economy could bankrupt most (if not all) of the EU, they needed a bailout package (sound eerily familiar?).
  • The sticky point was the Germans. See, the Germans said, "Whoa, wait a second... if we're going to foot the bill," (Germany will pay more than half of the bailout), "then we expect the Greek citizens to enact some austerity measures and cut back on some of their union benefits, vacations, etc." In other words, we expect you to live within a budget and work for a living.
  • That didn't sit so well with the Greek citizens. They said "No way" and proceeded to riot, killing people in the process. They told their government, "Take the money, but give it to us."
In essence, the citizens have become so socialized that they refused to agree to be "responsible" and instead wanted "handouts". The only thing that put a damper on this whole mess was that the Greek government realized its own stupidity and that of its citizens. It woke up and decided to accept Germany's terms.

But it won't stop there. Spain, Ireland and Portugal, other socialist havens, are also circling the economic drain. So more "good money" will be thrown "after bad" and the entire European Union may go with it. John Keynes must be rubbing his ectoplasmic hands in glee.

"Oh," you say, "That's just Europe. That doesn't have anything to do with me."

Hold on a second, there, Skippy. You and I are paying part of the bill -- to the tune of $108 billion. Seems that President Obama, our very own socialist (as even the London Telegraph describes him) slipped that little line items into the "Support the Troops" bill in order to get past the outrage of the citizens againt the $700 billion bank bailout.

But more to the point, the same things that caused this whole mess -- the socialization of Europe -- is happening right here:

  • Now we have Obamacare. We've beat that horse to death and even its supporters acknowledge it as socialist as they go running for their "free handouts."
  • This week, Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, is visiting London. Why? To see how the most surveilled city in the world can teach us how to spy on citizens.
  • The Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is brokering a treaty to circumvent the Second Amendment and take away the Right to Bear Arms without having to go through Congress.
  • Meanwhile, the Obama administration and a compliant Congress is setting up the country for a continuous series of bailouts and power grabs under the guise of the Dodd Bill, effectively taking over private industry and "socializing" it under government control, one industry at a time.

And, in another classic Socialist Party move, having already moved to take over the private sector and take away the public's right to defend itself, the administrations regulatory advisor, Cass Sunstein, has recommended an Orwellian "Ministry of Truth" by suggesting that the government infiltrate and crack down on what it considers to be "conspiracy theory groups" -- basically anyone who says anything that the administration decides is seditious.

Yup, you read it right. Remember when "Dissent is Patriotic" was the cause celebre? Now that those folks are in power, you'd better not complain or you'll have to face the MiniTruth and Thought Police.

We are sliding, as a compliant group of sheep, into the abyss. We can see it happening in Europe and yet the populace of this country refuses to acknowledge it. Or so the legislators would like to believe. It's time for revolution -- the revolution our Forefathers guaranteed and required of its citizens. I, for one, have had enough of the professional politicians who are allowing this great nation to follow Europe down the drain. I am taking the fight to the polls. I am actively working to get rid of the incumbents who are leading us down this path to destruction and I am encouraging others to do the same.

This is what I'm doing. What are you doing?

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Sign of Things To Come

The Administration and Congress who, in the words of Senator Rochefeller of West Virginia pushed through "health care reform regardless of the views of the American people," and are, not surprisingly, exempt from this law, keep telling us that this is "not government run health care." This is simply not the case. Occam's Razor says the the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. When it comes to the Health Care Bill, the "co-op" is government owned, so by extension, it is government run.

Today, we find out another reason for this: A private citizen can't sue a government health care provider.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled on a case that has direct implications and sets precedent for the future of Health Care in the United States. In this particular case, an illegal immigrant (and drug smuggler) sued doctors at the US Public Health Service after they refused to treat a lesion. The high court ruled that it is the U.S. Government that is the provider and since Public Health Service doctors have "absolute immunity for their official actions" the doctors cannot be held accountable.

I am of the firm opinion that one of the major causes of health care costs is the litigation-happy society and the lack of tort reform that allows people to get multi-million dollar judgements for "emotional pain and suffering" and the like. However what the court is doing by setting this precedent is to create a system by which, if a patient is truly wronged by a health care provider, that patient has absolutely no recourse.

Follow the dots, here.

The government, ipso facto is now a Health Care provider. This is well established. Therefore, all health care professionals are employees of the government and, by simple extension, subject to the Public Health Service. Since that service's members have "absolute immunity" for wrongdoing, the "Patient's Bill of Rights" goes right out the window (along with the rest of the Rights that the administration and successive Congresses have seen fit to remove).

Dr. Kagen has claimed that more people now "have a choice" in health care. Not only, as I've pointed out, is this untrue because one cannot choose to opt out of health care, but now that choice is further limited because one has no legal recourse should their government-sponsored physician "screw up". While I'm certain that few doctors relish the idea of being sued for negligence, the opposite is actually an anathema to the profession as it allows the worst, most incompetent elements to go unpunished for their misdeeds. This ruling sets the precedent for that scenario.

The Health Care law is fact. Sure it can be undone (an uphill battle, but a winnable one) and when it is, the next step towards sane health care reform is to reform tort law and remove the unjust, irresponsible and incredible punitive damages from the table. Litigation is powerful, albeit unfortunate motivational factor when wielded appropriately. Without it, with the protections given to doctors in the PHS, the government has simply created another "trade union" where mediocrity, regardless of ability, is the rule and longevity is the only thing that's rewarded.

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