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.