Monday, December 12, 2005

Primarily Flawed

Primarily Flawed

It's here.  Aren't you excited?  Another season of wonder and mystery is upon us.  A time for giving, and for the telling of the old stories.  I know I always look forward to the political primary season, don't you?

It's the time we get to hear the old stories about how the newest political savior will be born, how things will be like they were in the good ol' days and how each of the "wise men" of our government will be sure that we have plenty of presents under our tree.  There's nothing quite like the wonder of election night, not knowing if your candidate will win and then the mystery of not knowing who the anointed few will select to replace the winner when the latest scandal hits the airwaves.  All very festive, wouldn't you agree?

Not to be a grinch, but why are we still funding and tolerating this exercise?  To all my Democrat friends out there:  Aren't you tired of having your money spent on primaries and conventions designed to find someone so conservative they make William Buckley look like a New-Dealer?  To my Republican friends:  Aren't you tired of funding the search for the next Clinton-Clone to tax and spend you to death?  And to all those non-affiliated, apolitical, bench-warmers out there:  Aren't you tired of what amounts to two very powerful and well-funded clubs telling you that you need to support a process so obviously corrupt that you don't want to be involved at all?

Just a short civics lesson for those out there that wonder why I'm making all this fuss about the primaries.  In this country, contrary to popular belief, we do not have a "two party system."  Our founding fathers didn't include anything about parties in our founding documents for a reason:  They promote divisiveness and the concentration of power in the hands of a few people.  We had just fought a war to rid ourselves of those exact things. Political parties are, and should be, independent groups of like-minded people freely associating in order to promote and advance their common goals.  Of course, how many people do you know that call themselves a Democrat that are pro-life, contrary to their party's position?  And how many people do you know that call themselves a Republican that are in favor of environmental protection laws?  More than a few I'm guessing.  Political parties are no longer about issues; they're now just a path to power.  

As a Libertarian, if offends me to know I have to support those that are working the hardest at all those things I oppose.  And not only do I have to support them, they've rigged the laws such that I find it ridiculously difficult to try to form my own "club" to oppose them.  The primary process amounts to the Elks being forced to pay for the elections at the Moose lodge.  It just doesn't make any sense.  I think that's why so many people "opt-out" of the political process.  They know it's fundamentally flawed, rigged and corrupt.

But it's also the only one we have.  And the stuff going on really does affect you.  From a 1% tax in Carbondale, IL on items sold on the campus of Southern Illinois University to the PATRIOT ACT and Real-ID act or the recovery of the areas ravaged by Katrina, this stuff affects us and we need to be heard.  I don't care if you vote in a primary, I can't.  But take an interest in what our "leaders" are doing, and participate in the process somewhere.

If you agree with me, and many others, that government doesn't have solutions to all the problems, they are the problem most of the time then write me and we'll talk about how to make those ideas heard.  And if you disagree with me and want to change my mind, write me and we'll talk about your ideas.  I'm not afraid to discuss my ideas openly, and I hope you're not either.  I'm tired of "McNugget" sized political philosophy sound bites that try to address the most important issues of our times.  We need real discussion and discussion requires more than one person and more than one idea to work.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Competition is long as it's the “right kind” of competition

Seems American Airlines has it's shorts in a bunch over Southwest Airlines' attempt to get the Wright ammendment repealled. In their “American Way” magazine this month there is an article attempting to explain why removing the restrictions at Love Field as to where carriers can fly would force them to “serve their customer's needs” by moving flights to the airport closer to downtown thus reducing the number of connections that can be made at DFW. They want Southwest to have to use DFW and relinquish their competitive advantage. Listen closely; they are admitting customers don't want to have to drive the extra 30 to 40 minutes from downtown, they don't want to have to spend 30 minutes getting to their gate, they don't want to spend an extra 10 minutes taxiing across 1,000 acres of airport to get to the runway and they want to have the lowest fare possible. American admits that their customers are better served at Love Field by Southwest but they want to use government regulation and the monopoly the FAA has over airports to eliminate Southwest's competitive advantage. They want the government to penalize you and Southwest so they can continue to operate a hub at DFW.

If they want to operate a hub at DFW, let 'em. There are plenty of people that need to make connections to other places but let the people of Dallas decide from where they want to fly.

Trying to package corporate welfare as a boon for consumers; the balls.

Monday, October 03, 2005

To my friend

To my friend:

For almost two years I failed you.  In my frenetic attempt to construct a life I forgot to live.  I forgot that my friends and family are what make a life, not job or hobby or politics.  I let you down when you needed every friend you could get.  Unlike the many times you were there for me, I was not there.  And now, I have no chance to make it right.

I spoke to your family, you taught them well.  Your son has become a man.  I remember our talks about our sons, our hope that they would survive the teen years.  That they would each reach their potential.  Yours is well on his way.  The strength and grace he has shown is clearly your legacy.  You were proud I'm sure as well you should have been.

Your daughter has your heart.  She has the same piercing, burning, accepting eyes you had.  You just trust that look.  Coupled with the biting wit honed on years of hanging with you and your friends she is shaping up to be a formidable person in her own right.

Your wife is a rock.  I know you and her didn't always see eye-to-eye, but that was the charm of your relationship.  She has exhibited strength I had no idea she had.

It comes as no surprise to you that you had as many friends as family there that day.  Long time friends or new, your life touched so many people if they had opened the microphone up to everyone that wanted to speak we'd have been there for days.  Not that anyone would have minded, or left for that matter.

No one mentioned "Fluffy," what a shame.  It was so irreverent yet so descriptive.  So many memories, so many joys and sorrows, highs and lows, successes and failures.  Too many late nights in cold cell sites, too many long trips in "Pig."  We were road warriors, friends, "Men Of The Toe."  How I'll miss you.  In so many ways you were the brother I didn't have.

So why did I let you down?  Why did I let so much distance come between us?  I don't know.  Sometimes you liked to talk so much it was difficult to hang up the phone.  The two hour time difference made phone calls inconvenient sometimes.  We lost touch with the "day-to-day" stuff and that made catching up all the harder.  All pretty lame excuses now.  But it was never because I stopped wanting to be your friend, only that I've never really known how to be a good friend.

I need to change that, every day from now on.  I need to nurture my friendships because I'm getting to that time in life when more and more I'll be saying good-bye to friends old and new.  

If you'll let me, Robbie, I'd like to use my mistakes with you as a guide on how not to have a friend.  I'd like to go forward with your life as an example of the value of friends.
There were over 300 people there to say good bye to you.  Many were family to be sure, but no one there can doubt the role friends played in your life.  No one can doubt the importance of your friends to you.  I hope you knew how important you were to all of us.

May we all be so fortunate.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Information, not innocence, seems to be the first casualty of war

In an earlier post I mentioned my friend's blog about his experiences as a member of operation Crescent Relief. In a stunning display of arbitrary censorship the military has decided that he can no longer post to the blog and has required him to remove all previous posts.

He talked about what he had seen, the sights, the sounds, the people. There is supposedly a reported "embedded" with his unit but he can't post his own experiences. I'm glad I'm no longer in the service as I would be facing court-martial right now in the same situation as I doubt I could obey an order such as the one he received.

Pastuerized, homoginized, sanitized for your protection. Information must be approved lest we find out vehicles had mud on their roofs and the CHiPs drive large SUVs. Pretty dangerous stuff.

I'm beginning to beleive there isn't much hope left.

"What's yours is mine and what's mine is mine"

It's often said that a congressman is doing a good job if he's able to bring home more money to his district than has been paid by that district in taxes.  My congressman, Jerry Costello, used that line of reasoning in our election in 2004.  There's a serious flaw in that argument.  While the economy as a whole continues to grow, the redistribution of wealth is a zero-sum game.  If we're getting more tax dollars than we put in that means someone else is paying more than they're getting back.  

There are only three possible outcomes in this game:

1. You get more than you give.  In effect you take from you neighbor what isn't yours to use for your own purposes.  This is called stealing everywhere in the world outside of the halls of congress.

2. You give more than you take.  This means the government has determined that there are more important people than you in this country and that it's your job to pay for what they think is important.  I would venture a guess that everyone thinks of themselves as important and our Constitution is supposed to guarantee that our government treats us equally; but apparently not if they want your money.

3.  The scales are completely in balance, you get no more than you give.  If this were the case the obvious question is "If I'm getting back the money I gave, why am I giving it in the first place?  Can't I just keep it and use it myself?"  

The sad truth is that we'll never be in balance because of the bureaucracy involved in collecting and redistributing all this money.  

So we're all either thieves or dupes.  We either believe we know best how our neighbors should spend their money or we can't be trusted to spend our own.  There really is no middle ground in this game.

We have to stop forcing our judgment and beliefs on others.  We have to stop forcing people to support and pay for things they don't want, don't need and wouldn't buy on their own.

The only way to win is to not play the game.  

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Patriot's Day?

It seems odd to me that we would call September 11 Patriots Day when the day commemorates the single event in American history that will be remembered as the day we lost our freedom.  Ever since that day we've faced slowly eroding freedoms and continued loss of our civil rights by a larger and more aggressive federal government than was ever conceived by the framers of the Constitution, the original Patriots.

As embodied by that abomination to civil liberty, the USA Patriot act and the illegal holding of American citizens without due process, our government has us goose-stepping down a road that can lead to nothing but fascism.  We've abandoned our belief that people are most secure when they are free to be responsible for their own security in favor of a "please take care of me, I'm afraid of the big-bad-world" attitude.  We've substituted the illusions of security, in the form of more federal agencies, more intrusions into our personal business and effects and aggressive posturing and out and out invasion as a foreign policy, in place of the kind of security that comes from being prepared both personally and as a nation to defend ourselves.  We now rely on the military and quasi-military police agencies to protect us from everything from invasion to natural disaster and everything inbetween, like drugs, guns, gay marriage, offensive speech and the odd rash.  And we are willing to take a very offensive, aggressive "pro-active" stand to do so.  We've allowed ourselves to fall into the trap of false patriotism, that of "America, right or wrong;" our founding fathers would be sadly disappointed.  True patriotism comes from a love of country so deep that it can recognize the error of our ways openly and honestly and take the hard road, make the hard choices required to bring us back to the vision of hope and liberty we once held dear.

How did this happen?  I would reply "a little at a time."  It started with the first pork-barrel spending project.  By substituting the judgment of the congress in place of our own in matters of what amount to charity, we have allowed the erosion of the most fundamental of our rights.  So fundamental the framers didn't even mention it specifically but only in adjunct to the rights guaranteed by the fourth and fifth amendments, the right to private property.

Each time the federal government votes to give some of your money, your private property, to someone else no matter how deserving, they reinforce the concept that you don't really own your house, or your car, or any of your personal possessions.  You think you do because you have a deed to a house, title to a car and clothes on your back but if you fail to give to "Uncle Sam" whatever he wants, no matter how unreasonable or excessive you'll soon see how much of what you have you really own.  If the government has the power to take part of your money, whether in income tax, sales tax, property tax, gas tax or any other of a hundred different taxes, it has the power to take all of your money.  If the government can take it, you don't own it.  Said another way, if you own it and they take it without your consent, they've stolen it.

That they take our money without our consent is bad enough.  That they waste and squander it is absolutely criminal.

The recent events in the gulf coast states bear me out.  We've been told we need FEMA to provide a response to disasters because people are so greedy they would never help people in need.  The government has to take our money under threat of force so it can be given to those that they determine need it because we're not responsible enough to do it ourselves.  And even if we could be trusted to give, the job is too big for people to do it without the federal government controlling and organizing everyone's efforts.  I think it's been shown quite clearly that both assumptions are wrong.

Not only have Americans given more to the Katrina relief efforts than anyone ever imagined, proving what I've said for years that Americans can always be counted on to be among the most generous people on the face of the Earth, but the botched, ineffective and evenly deadly job FEMA and other federal, state and local agencies and bureaucracies did will pale in comparison to the hundreds and even thousands of stories of the individual bravery and heroism of volunteers that will continue to come out in the months to come.

The victims of Katrina didn't need a government debit card, they needed the help of people, real Americans, with rescue, evacuation, temporary housing and food. They didn't need a federal agency slowing down response times by
forcing fire-fighters from around the country that had volunteered in this time of need to spend days in sexual harassment awareness training.
  And they certainly didn't need a Mayor, Governor and a President in a seemingly never-ending pissing contest over who screwed up the most.  News flash for our "leaders":  WHEN THE CHIPS WERE DOWN, YOU ALL SUCKED!!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Like a ton of bricks

It just occurred to me, sitting in my chair in my office waiting for my computer to boot, that we've been doing the OPH booth wrong.  Instead of asking how people usually vote we should be asking if they're registered to vote.  By doing this we can point out to the unregistered that if they register and get behind a candidate that agrees with them we CAN win elections and it'll show the registered voters why the two power-parties have been winning even though in every OPH booth I've done the Libertarian quadrant has about 1/3 of the responses.  After that it's simply a matter of getting these people to register.  We can only hand out the forms since we're prevented from acting as registrars because we're not Ds or Rs but even that will help.
I think this might open some eyes, I can't wait to try it.

It's always about the money

Last night was the first PTO meeting of the year at my children's school. I stopped going to these meetings, after my first one, when I realized that the energy I was going to expend on the political in-fightning would be better spent on political infighting within my party! But last night my wife asked me to go for support, she wanted to hold the existing board accountable for some of their decisions made over the summer. I will admit, the current board has a hold on that group akin to Richard J. Daley's hold on Chicago during the 60's and 70's.

They came to the meting prepared to "tell everyone how it was" including the replacement for an officer that resigned over the summer and a document that was generously called "the budget." When some folks (my wife included) asked some reasonable questions about the process the President actualy said "why is everyone questioning me like this, I feel like I'm getting the bum's rush?"

So I guess it's fair to say that questions aren't allowed at the Tri-C PTO. At least not when they involve the current board or how they want to run things. Just go along, pay your dues, volunteer your time but don't expect a say, or even an answer, at a meeting.

And we wonder why state and federal government is so screwed up. You can learn a lot by going to school.

Monday, September 05, 2005

What a week!

Another DuQuoin State Fair come and gone. Another chance to share my political beliefs with greater Southern Illinois and the rest of the heartland. We spent 10 days, an average of 6 hours a day in the sun, eating greasy fair-food, drinking overpriced lemonade (called "Lemon Shakeups" for the uninitiated) and giving "The World's Smallest Political Quiz" to over 400 people. Even though attendance was down this year we gave out 10% more quizes than last year. We also found over 100 people that now know what to call their political beliefs...libertarianism. We took contact information for over 80 of those people and my challenge is to come up with a way to "activate" as many of these like-minded people as possible. I've talked to several other members of my group and I'm sure we'll come up with something good.

My good friend, Jim Syler, has been activated (he's a member of the Illinois National Guard) as part of Crescent Relief, the National Guard mission to provide relief aid to the victims of Katrina. He's blogging his experiences here.

From the "strange but true" page, my son and I share our birthdays with two of the most deadly days in recent American history. My birthday is August 29th, which will now be remebered as the day Katrina wiped out New Orleans. My son's birthday is September 11 which will forever be rembered by it's numerical expression - 9/11.

P.S. I'm hoping to post more frequently. We'll see how it goes, but even I should be better than once every 6 or 7 months.
P.P.S. Are P.Ss. appropriate on a blog? I guess they are on mine.

Friday, February 11, 2005

I'll be ready to go back to work after this weekend!

You never know how an old hobby might get rekindled in a little more than a heartbeat. My wife and I had dinner with a couple that are friends of ours tonight. It happens that this couple live directly across the street from my office and used to own the land upon which it sits. I work for a cellular company and in addition to my office, there is a 200 foot tower on the site.

It turns out this friend is an Amateur Radio enthusiast. I've only been interested in Ham Radio and communication in general since I was in seventh grade. We got to talking about the hobby, the local clubs and the fact that he'd like to put a repeater on that 200 foot tower I mentioned. I don't know how that's going to work out, but I'm going to try to sell it to my boss as an investment in the community. We'll see, but one thing's for sure: I'm feeling the bug bite again, I'll probably end up getting back into Ham Radio as a hobby again. Good thing I didn't give away all my radio stuff!!

Only 1 week left to the Illinois Libertarian Party annual convention. I think I've talked myself into running for vice-Chair Membership. I have some ideas and it seems like no one else wants to step-up and fill this position. I'm going to talk it over with a few more people whose judgment I trust and make a decision by Tuesday.

I've got a busy weekend planned. I have to work a few hours tomorrow, then tomorrow night the charity I work with, Jefferson County Toys For Kids, will have a fund raising steak dinner at the Mount Vernon American Legion Hall. The Sons Of The American Legion are hosting for the third time, the dinner starts at 7 pm (I think) and tickets are $10 if anyone wants to come! It always turns out to be a fun evening. I think we'll be having a silent auction this time. Wonder what I'll come home with? Sunday I'm hoping to see the matinee presentation of Barefoot In The Park at the Marion Civic and Cultural Center.

Okay, that's enough for now.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Everyone else is doing it...

...why not me? Not that I have the slightest idea with what I'll fill a blog (if you can fill a blog). I really created this account and blog so I could comment on a post to a friend's blog: Musings of an itinerant philosopher

I'll probably post random thoughts and interesting links, that's what I've seen most people do and I'll follow suit 'till I come up with something better.