Tuesday, May 02, 2006

“Every Friend Joys In Your Success”

I had lunch at the local Chinese buffet yesterday. That phrase was in my fortune cookie at the end of the meal. I’m not one to pay a lot of attention to fortune cookies, more often than not rather than take it seriously I’ll add the phrase “in bed” after my fortune for a cheap laugh. But this one hit me.

I’ve been giving this phrase thought in conjunction with the Libertarian party. It seems to me we can tell who our friends our by watching who “joys in our success.” Too often I see Libertarians almost cheering for the failure of one of our own. We’d rather watch the party fail rather than see others of our own number succeed.

What the hell is wrong with us?

A victory for any of us should be a victory for all of us…shouldn’t it?

Are we all so friggin’ insecure that we need to tear each other down in order to build ourselves up or is it a case of ego so large that we can’t ever admit someone else might have a good idea?

I’m not sure, but it seems to me that for some of us, it’s more important for things to be done our way than for the party to win. On more than one occasion I’ve seen good people step up and propose ideas to solve well-known issues or to take new initiative only to have their ideas picked apart by people that never put themselves out on the line, never risk anything, are never the first to do anything. They’ll wait until some poor sucker tries to accomplish something and then BAM! They’ll produce any number of reasons and excuses why that idea won’t work. Or they’ll decide that it was a good idea, but they’ve got just what is needed to actually make it work.

I’ve seen it done by individuals; I’ve seen it done by groups. I’ve seen it done to long time activists and I’ve seen it done to new members, well, “former” new members as most of them quit, realizing that any group that would “eat its young” in this way was not a group they wanted to associate with. Can’t say that I blame them.

I’ve had it happen to me. I’ve been guilty of it myself. But not anymore. I’ll “Joy In The Success” of my friends and fellow Libertarians if it kills me!

Or I’ll quit and give up, because life is too short for this crap.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Bread, Oil, Either Way The Principle Is The Same

The current round of bloviating by the Bush administration regarding gas prices reminded me of this poem.  I first heard it during high school and have recalled it from time to time during times like these.  Enjoy!
The Incredible Bread Machine
By R.W. Grant
This is the story of a man whose name
Was a household word: a man whose fame
Burst on the world like an atom bomb;
Smith was his last name; first name Tom.

Now, Smith, an inventor, had specialized
In toys, so people were surprised,
When they found that he instead
Of making toys, was BAKING BREAD!

The way to make bread he'd conceived
Cost less than people could believe!
And not just make it! This device,
Could in addition, wrap and slice!
The price per loaf, one loaf or many,
The miniscule sum of under a penny!

Can you imagine what this meant?
Can you comprehend the consequent?
The first time yet the world well fed,
And all because of Tom Smith's bread.

A citation from the President,
For Smith's amazing bread,
This and other honors too,
Were heaped upon his head!

But isn't it a wondrous thing,
How quickly fame is flown?
Smith, the hero of today,
Tomorrow, scarcely known!

Yes, the fickle years passed by,
Smith was a millionaire,
But Smith himself was now forgot,
Though bread was everywhere...
People, asked from where it came,
Would very seldom know.
They would simple eat and ask, "Was not it always so?"

However, Smith cared not a bit,
For millions ate his bread...
And everything is fine, thought he,
I am rich, and they are fed!

Everything was fine, he thought,
He reckoned not with fate.
Note the sequence of events,
Starting on the date,
On which the business tax went up.
Then, to a slight extent,
The price on every loaf rose too:
Up to one full cent!

"What's going on!" the public cried,
"He's guilty of pure plunder!
He has no right to get so rich on other peoples hunger!"

(A Prize cartoon depicted Smith,
With fat and drooping jowls,
Snatching bread from hungry babes, indifferent to their howls!)

Well, since the public does come first,
It could not be denied
That in matters such as this,
The Public must decide!

So Anti-Trust now took a hand,
Of course, it was appalled
At what it found was going on.
The "Bread Trust" it was called.

Now this was getting serious,
So Smith felt that he must
Have a friendly interview
With the men in Anti-Trust.

So hat in hand, he went to them.
They'd surely been misled;
No Rule of Law had he defied.

But then their lawyer said:
"The Rule of Law, in complex times,
Has proved itself deficient.
We much prefer the Rule of Men,
It's vastly more efficient!

Now let me state the present rules,"
The lawyer then went on,
"These very simple guidelines,
You can rely upon:
You're gouging on your prices if
You charge more than the rest.
But it's unfair competition if
You think you can charge less!
"A second point that we would make
To help avoid confusion...
Don't try to charge the same amount,
That would be Collusion!
You must compete. But not too much,
For if you do you see,
Then the market would be yours -
And that's Monopoly!

Price too high? Or Price too low? Now, which charge did they make?
Well, they weren't loath to charging both,
With Public Good at stake!

In fact, they went one better! They charged "Monopoly!"
No muss, no fuss, oh, woe is us!
Egad, they charged ALL THREE!

"Five Years in jail," The Judge then said
"You're lucky it's not worse!
Robber Barons must be taught, Society comes first!"

Now bread is baked by government.
And as might be expected,
Everything is well controlled. The Public well protected.

True, loaves cost a dollar each,
But our leaders do their best!
The selling price is half a cent..
Taxes pay the rest.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Your Family's Security

Your Family's Security:  Who's Responsibility Is It?
By Jennifer Caudell
Situation: You are at home. It’s about 10 o’clock at night and you are getting ready to go to bed. It’s been a long day and you have to get up early to give a presentation at work in the morning. Your kids have been asleep for a couple of hours and everything seems peaceful and routine.
As you walk to your bedroom, you hear a noise coming from the back door. You stop to listen, always wary. Just when you have decided that it was the dog, the noise comes again, louder this time, and then you hear the tinkle of breaking glass. With a sudden cold fear, you realize that someone is breaking into your house.
You run to your kids rooms, grab them out of their beds and yell to your spouse to call the police. They do so and are told to wait, the police are on their way.
The intruders, now inside your home, they begin to assault your family and ransack the house looking for valuables, but you're confident that the police will arrive at any moment and end this nightmare. But the police never arrive. The intruders leave, out the front door this time, leaving you and your family bleeding, scared and violated. And the police never came.
This situation is not as hypothetical as you might think, a situation similar to this did occur in Chicago to Sylvia Galuszynski and her mother. They called the police before the intruders had gained access to the house, but the police arrived almost a half an hour later, after Sylvia and her mother had been beaten and their money and jewelry had been stolen.
When they tried to sue the police for failure to protect, the court sited the statutory law that says that no public entity or employee is liable for failure to provide adequate protection or service or to prevent crimes or to apprehend a criminal. The court said that it is the duty of the police to protect society at large, not to help individual citizens.1
Let’s think about this. Someone is breaking into your house and you call the police, just like we've been told to do, in hopes of someone better equipped than you coming to your defense. And the police arrive thirty minutes later, after everything is over. Or worse yet, they never arrive at all. What do you do?
Given that the police can't or won't protect individual citizens, how do you defend yourself, family and property? Knife? Baseball bat? I have always had issues with the first two. I don’t know how to knife fight and I am a fairly weak person, so the chances of someone grabbing the bat or knife out of my hands and hurting me with it is high. Personally, I would rather have a gun. It’s a long distance weapon and if I’m good with that gun, I can kill the intruder, hopefully, before he ever reaches me or mine.
So if the police acknowledge that they can't protect us, we have to prepare ourselves to defend our families and our property.  Can anyone explain why is it so hard for honest citizens to get a gun in Illinois? It takes anywhere from two to six months to get a FOID card. And gun control laws are so strict that you had better be able to prove that you own that gun that you just used to defend yourself and that you have the right to have that gun, never mind that that right is guaranteed by our country's highest law.
Since the police are not legally bound to help someone calling for help, I'll be damned if I'll wait helplessly while someone is attacking my five year old daughter. I personally will not hesitate to defend her with a gun. The only dilemma I'll have is neither moral or ethical, it'll be "Where do I hide the body?"

1From “Dial 911 and Die” by Richard Stevens