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Archive for September, 2009

Another Trust Breakdown

This post needs almost no words.  If this is true, it’s unspeakable.  The amount of money, time, and energy put into this by people with good motivations is incalculable.  If this is true it turns out those with good motivations were being grossly misled in order for profit and control.  Unreal.

AJ Strata breaks it down so ordinary people can read and understand.  The bottom line being that the Global Warming data was manipulated to create stats that backed warming.  And we are set to hamper our economy based on this stuff.  What else is being manipulated?

http://strata-sphere.com/blog/index.php/archives/10811

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Pursuit of Happiness

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  This is the promise of the Declaration of Independence.  The promise that there are certain rights that all individuals are born with.  We don’t get these rights from any other human being or group of human beings.  They can’t be taken away from us by any human being or group of human beings.  This is what makes America unique to the world.  This promise is what created a fast forward in society from the quality of life of 1770 to the quality of life of 2009.  Before this promise, the world was pretty stagnant in quality of life.

Take a good look at the promise.  Life.  Liberty.  Pursuit of happiness.  Our government was created to make sure this promise wasn’t violated.  Our federal government was created to ensure that local and state governments didn’t infringe this promise and act contrary to The Constitution and Bill of Rights.  Government was meant, by our Founders, to be a very limited thing.  Why?  Because more government always means less freedom and our Founders knew that.  Read them.  They held a great disdain for pure democracy knowing that pure democracy hammered the individual and the minority.  They called it the “tyranny of the majority.”  That’s why we have a representative republic.

It all ties back to the promise in the Declaration of Independence.  How do you guarantee those three things that each human being has at birth?  The answer: a limited government that stays out of almost everything and only comes into play when those rights are violated.  One that has checks and balances including a judiciary that strictly interprets the Constitution to protect citizens from an overzealous government.  Slavery violated those rights.  State gun restrictions violate those rights.  State laws against homeschooling violate those rights.  People not having enough money for a down-payment on a mortgage does not violate those rights.

“Pursuit of happiness.”  This is not a guarantee of happiness.  It’s only a guarantee that you can pursue happiness.  We also have to know how to define “happiness.”  Ask 10 people and get 8 different answers.  Many people think happiness is a feeling.  You’re happy when your football team wins the Super Bowl or happy when you win $100 in a raffle.  Over the years happiness has been devalued to lead people to pursue a lot of surface things that bring temporary good feeling.  That’s why we have a high quality of life but a big suicide rate and tons of drugs that enhance your mood and a society that is out of whack. 

Real happiness, the happiness that Jefferson wrote of by borrowing from John Locke, and that Locke likely borrowed from Aristotle, is not happiness in things or a fleeting feeling.  It’s a happiness brought on by following virtue.  It’s a fundamental happiness in the soul that brings contentment and gives true liberty and freedom from being a slave to vices.  Individual virtue and freedom from vice gives rise to community virtue and community freedom from vice.  The greedy millionaire is probably neither happy nor free because there’s never enough money and he or she is a slave to making that money.  The sexual Don Juan is neither happy nor free because sexual pleasure is short lived and the need to make another sexual conquest is always present.  These examples are probably hindering other individuals in their pursuit of vice.  These “pleasures” are usually masking something else and trying to make up for something fundamental that is lacking. 

A man like Francis of Assisi is a good historical example of this pursuit of happiness.  Francis grew up wealthy and took part in a lot of temporary pleasures.  Then he dedicated his life to God, gave up his money, lived like a pauper, and probably held complete liberty and contentment until he died.  That is not to say you have to live the life that Francis of Assisi led, but it is to say that pursuing virtue is real happiness and what Jefferson wrote of in the Declaration of Independence.

True happiness is virtue, as told by Greek philosophers like Aristotle.  However, there is a boundary that we can not cross over in terms of virtue.  Virtue can’t be forced by someone else.  For true happiness to occur, the action has to be pure.  You have to decide for yourself that you want to do what is right.  Then that action will add to your core.  If someone forces you to do what is right, it’s false virtue.  You’ll know it’s false and your core will know it’s false.  Once you aren’t being forced anymore, you will cease doing what is virtuous.  The cat is away, so it’s time to play.  This is why laws are more for punishment and less for limiting what is criminal.  Do you need a law to tell you that murder is a crime?  Why don’t gun laws create a decline in gun violence?  You can’t force virtue on some people.  Aristotle talks about virtue having to be voluntary. 

When the government forces virtue through taxation or other laws, it’s not voluntary.  This creates a problems on a number of levels.  One, it creates a section of society that becomes dependent on getting things.  This is a problem because if someone is continually given and taken care of, they do not grow their own virtues.  The four Western Virtues are: temperance, prudence, fortitude, and justice.  If we believe Aristotle, these are to be done voluntarily in order to gain happiness.  Temperance is moderation.  Prudence is the practice of sound judgement.  Fortitude is courage.  Justice is the moderation between selfishness and selflessness.  It is giving to others what is due to them.  These 4 virtues are learned through a lifetime of wisdom, experiences, and reading.  Wisdom and experience can’t be handed to you.  If your actions hold consequences, you learn from those consequences and change your behavior to avoid those consequences, if it hurts enough.  That is wisdom.  (Some people will never learn, that why you have lifetime criminals and for the good of society they are locked away.)  If you ruin a relationship through gambling, you will hope that it hurts enough to stop gambling.  Experience and wisdom.  If your relationship partner lets you off the hook, they are enabling you and you won’t learn.  The same is said for the government giving and giving.  If the government is enabling people to live without virtues, they will not be happy and in fact, the government that promises the pursuit of happiness is violating that promise.  This is not to say people shouldn’t get help when needed.  But there is a difference between help and enabling.  Teach men to fish rather than giving them fish.  If you have ever heard the phrase about the journey being better than the destination, you know the real joy in working and growing your life through virtue.

The second problem is that it creates a section of society that becomes resentful.  Force creates resentment.  Do you see the anger and frustration in America today?  People resent the government.  America is a good country full of good people.  Many of those that have enough, give to others that don’t.  They do it on their own.  They give to the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and the ASPCA.  They give their time to help others in need.  They feel good when they give to someone and see that someone then be able to make it on their own.  What turns good feelings into resentment is force.  It’s force with the end result being those being helped being enabled to stay and continually need help.  Have you ever heard a teacher talk about helping kids to learn?  Have you ever felt the joy of teaching someone a skill and seeing them apply that skill on their own?  Now imagine being forced to teach someone something and then having to continually teach them because they can’t apply it on their own.  If the government just got out-of-the-way, people could get help and then apply it on their own.  Then they could feel happiness.

Our government is now unable to get out-of-the-way.  Our government is violating the promise of the Declaration of Independence.  They are enabling people to live without virtues* and are forcing others to apply virtues in ways that are inconsistent with their own natures.  The question to why this is happening is a difficult one to answer.  Some of the answers lie in the government wanting control.  Some of the answers lie in the fact that there are those who believe they know better than you because of their upbringing or their education.  Virtue is a personal thing that is learned on your own.  You are born on this planet and live a life in order to grow as a human.  Your goal is to pursue happiness.  Or, to grow and learn virtue.  It’s time for the government to stop taking that away from us.  It’s time for individuals to understand that happiness is something deeper.  Maybe if we, as individuals, take the lead and live with virtue, our government will follow.

*Don’t confuse my use of “virtues” with people being “good” people.  I’m talking about the 4 Western or Cardinal Virtues.  We are all works in progress and are all learning throughout life.  Just because you need help doesn’t mean you aren’t a good person.  But if you can’t develop and learn the 4 Cardinal Virtues, you will not be happy.

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Debt for Control

The current economic course that our nation is charting is unsustainable.  The American taxpayer now holds a stake in about 80% of outstanding mortgages.  Entitlement programs  (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) will take more than 100% of tax revenue this year.  That means that those programs are outgrowing our economy.  Instead of talking about reducing debt, the government is just piling it on: government run student loans, health care, catastrophic insurance for everyone, and talks about a bailout for the U.S. Post Office.  Talk of reducing deficits is clearly campaign fodder.  It’s not taken seriously in Washington.  Politicians have campaigned against deficits for decades upon decades.  If I keep telling you that staying in shape is a priority, while continuing to eat fatty foods and not take care of myself, pretty soon you must conclude that I’m full of beans and staying healthy is not a priority.  So, Washington, you are full of beans, reducing the deficit is not a priority for you.

So what now?  What is the result of all of this?  The result is that the government is now taking more freedom from the people.  If you are reading this and live in the United States, you are on the hook for thousands upon thousands of dollars.  Your unborn kid is too.  That’s not freedom.  You are on the hook because government cannot control its compulsion to spend money that they never earn.  Government is now like a gambling addict with 30 grand in credit card debt, a job that pays 12 bucks an hour, who still continues to buy things.  Our system is heading for complete collapse if we don’t put a stop to the spending now.

How can the government get more money?  Higher taxation, more tax revenue, or less spending.  Taxation has serious downsides.  Taxing more hurts the economy and stunts growth and production.  People won’t have money to spend, save, hire, or create.  Others will stop spending or stop making just to stop paying.  This is part of human nature that government never seems to understand.  See, it’s human nature to spend money that’s not yours.  Especially if it gains you something, like reelection.  But it’s also human nature to look out for your own best interest and make sure you have enough money to survive.  Government gets one and doesn’t get the other because they live in a bubble.

If government reduces taxes now, it will spur the economy.  People will have money in their pockets.  Companies will have more money to invest in employment or products.  The problem, at this point, is we are beyond the final exit.  Even reduced taxation and a churning economy will not save our economic future.  The government needs to stop spending.  Picture your gambling addict friend from above.  He gets lucky and gets a new job that pays him 15 bucks an hour and even hits a few good bets in Vegas.  But he still spends and has credit debt.  Will his new found income make the difference?  Maybe in the short run.  In the long run he’s still going to go broke unless he stops spending and pays off his debt.  If not, he will forever be a slave to Visa and Mastercard.  A voluntary slave.  Same with the U.S. citizen.  Only most of us are not voluntary.  But make no mistake, you are living out a form of financial slavery because the government can’t stop spending.

The hardest hit are the middle class.  They are on the verge of making it, but getting hit with tax after tax and rising price after rising price.  It may be easier just to get government assistance.  It used to be the American Way to pull yourself up and create a great future for yourself.  That is becoming harder and harder because of government.  Kind of the opposite of what it started out as in Philadelphia.

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Ignoring How It Works

Since we are in the midst of a recession with horrible unemployment, high foreclosures, and lower consumer spending, it’s a good thing to look at what happened.  This will help us avoid future recessions.  Do I believe that government will honestly look at it?  No.  They will cast blame in order to gain the upper hand politically.  That’s why we will see future recessions and more state control.

As I see it, the major problems occurred when the natural order of things was thrown out of whack.  People were becoming millionaires overnight.  Home loans were being handed out to people with no down payment and little income.  These are just two examples.

Why isn’t this the natural order of things?  In order to gain success in this country you need to do a number of things.  Putting aside people who win the lottery, you need to: work hard, become educated in your field, and make good decisions.  The basic underlying theme is that if you do something better than anyone else, you will gain monetary success and professional success: Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Stephen King, Bill Gates and the list goes on.  All of the above share the same traits: hard work, education in their field, and making good decisions.  If you skip one of these steps you will either not make it or will make it and only be on top for a short time until you make a bad decision or people figure out that you are full of beans.  Doing these things is no guarantee of anything, but you can almost be guaranteed of not making it if you don’t do these things.

A few good examples are marriage and farming.  Steven Covey talks about farming and how you will only get crops if you follow the necessary steps to produce crops.  The same can be said for marriage.  You will only have a good marriage if you do certain things.  The confines of marriage aren’t as strict as farming, but the idea is the same.  You need: fidelity, attraction, love, and fun for a working marriage.

One of the reasons we are in the recession today is that the United States government wants to ignore the natural progression of things.  In order to buy a home, you need a certain income level and a certain amount of money to put down.  That’s the natural order of things.  With those 2 needs filled you should be able to survive and maintain your mortgage.  The United States government skipped that and said, “No, you need to make loans available to people who don’t fit the criteria.”  That’s trying to game the system.  The system has now said, “You are full of beans” and it’s crashed.

The same can be said for the instant millionaire.  This is not actually a fault of government.  But the instant millionaire lies to people and tells them that it should be quick.  People see all these 30 somethings making big bucks and start to believe they can trick the system, so they skip the hard work and the education and the choices.  Then they get mad at the system for not making them a millionaire and get angry at those who do have financial success.

America needs to get back to what works.  The natural order of things is the only thing that works.  If you see the government promising something that skips necessary steps in the natural order of things, get ready for disaster.

You can do it on your own right now.  Don’t wait for the government to get the clue.  They probably won’t.  Work hard at whatever you are doing.  Be the best you can be at it.  Take it seriously and get invested in the outcome.  Get educated in what you want to do.  Make good decisions in life.  The more you do this, the more others will follow.

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Compare and Contrast

Our government is said to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”  Is this really true anymore?  Let’s look at a bill that has recently passed into law: the Stimulus Package.

A few things will jump out at you when you look at The Stimulus.  First, it’s never-ending.  This thing is hundreds of pages long.  And we already know that most of Congress didn’t read it.  How could they?  Seriously.  In the time allotted to these people there is no way to read this bill.  Second, the bill is hardly understandable because it’s all legalese.  You will want to be in a padded room reading this thing.  Just look at the description of the bill from the first page: Making supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and State and local fiscal stabilization, for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2009, and for other purposes.(Emphasis mine) Those last 4 words are the ultimate CYA.

If you want to go nuts, have at it and read the bill.  This is not unique to the Stimulus.  The Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 is a similar legalese mess, just more of it.  Over 1,000 pages.  Now, to be fair, there are many more bills that are vastly shorter.  Many bills regarding things like agriculture or forestry are under a page.  And to be even more fair, these are big topics: the Stimulus and health care reform.

What about big legislation throughout history?  What about, say, the Social Security Act of 1935?  The Missouri Compromise?  The Voting Rights Act of 1965?  The National Interstate and Defense Highways Act?  The Pacific Railway Act?  These are big topics.  These are all major pieces of legislation in American history.  Social Security is a mega program, there are miles and miles of highways, and voting rights are a major turning point.  All of these bills are not only reader friendly, for the most part, they can be read in one sitting.  Read them for yourself, here.

Many members of Congress are making a big deal out of how difficult or unneccessary it is to read the bills these days.  These are bills that are heavy duty.  The Stimulus is billions of dollars.  Hundreds of billions.  Health care is not only about freedom, but it is a gigantic chunk of the American economy.  And these people can’t read the bill?  May I suggest you make the bill easier to read?  Seemed to work for Congresses of the past.

This is a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”  Craft bills that can be read “by the people.”  If the bill needs to be that large, maybe that’s a warning signal that indicates the ability of government to skillfully enact the legislation.  Come on, if you can’t even read it, how do you expect to govern it?

UPDATE:  Rereading this, I realized that it’s “legalese” and not “legalize.”  Sorry.

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More Trust Breakdown

Not only is government getting hard to trust, but the media is untrustworthy as well.  It has never been more clear than now.  Heard of Van Jones?  Not if you read or watch main stream news you haven’t.  Van Jones just resigned as President Obama’s Green Jobs Czar or Tsar.  A Czar or Tsar does not need the advice and consent of Congress.  Too bad.  Here is a list of Van Jones “past” activities:

  • He spent half a year in jail and came out as a self described communist.
  • Signed a 9/11 Truther statement.
  • Called President Bush a “crackhead.”
  • Helped set up a protest for Mumia Abu Jamal.

This is just a quick summary and not everything.  Okay, let’s say you disagree with his views on these.  That is all well and good and nobody should be denied a position in government over disagreement.  But this is not only extreme, the people should have been in “the know” about it.  The main stream media is reporting on Van Jones now, but still ignoring his past for the most part.  They are calling him a “past activist” and not using specifics.  Do you really want a self avowed communist in the White House?  How about a 9/11 Truther?  And someone who is unanswerable to Congress which means he is unanswerable to the people.  No wonder nobody trusts President Obama.  Why would you appoint this man, Mr. President?  Why would you appoint a man who thinks the United States government and others purposefully allowed 3,000 innocent people to die on September 11, 2001.  Shame on you.  Shame on the media for never investigating this man.

This is not about politics.  Even if you are a Democrat, this should make you distrustful.  People need to stop accepting these kinds of situations just because it helps their political cause.  What other White House Czars have shady pasts?

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Okay, more with trust

Why am I hammering this “trust” issue?  Because trust is necessary for our form of government to function properly.  Is President Obama speaking to schoolchildren a big deal?  Probably not.  So why the outcry?  I’ll give you a guess and a hint.  It’s one word that ends in “ust”.  America, beyond the people who have some strange marketing type loyalty to President Obama, does not trust the man or the government anymore.  It’s not hard to figure out why.

This week brings another withdrawal from the trust bank.  Congressman Charlie Rangel who heads up a committee on taxation, is a tax cheat.  Oh, so is his staff.  This is no longer a government “of the people.”  “Of the people” tells me that while you are working in government, you stay on the same level as the average citizen.  That’s not happening.

From senators getting sweetheart mortgage deals to tax cheats, this government of ours is now “of the elites.”  What’s the solution?  Oh, well, getting back to that anchor.  Part of the anchor is this statement “We are a nation of laws, not of men.”  Time to purge Congress and government in general of the criminal element.  This needs to be pushed home.  These people are criminals.  Treat them the same as you would the average citizen who decides to not declare half his income on his tax form.  Then work on lowering the tax burden, if that’s the problem.

The “trust bank” is running on empty.  The first order of business is for government to start putting deposits back into that bank.  Do that by purging the criminals and become a government “of the people” again.  Next, go back to the anchor.  Then start doing the basics like: reading bills, respecting constituents and citizenry, and being for America not your party.  Finally, start trusting the people again.

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