Archive for the ‘government’ Category

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What you need, what you want…

January 27, 2017

…and what your neighbors can afford…

This started out as a response to a post by an Angry Young Woman, which she posted to explain why she and many other AYWs marched the day after the inauguration, adding that they didn’t do it because Donald Trump won. Okay, “dog-licking-himself syndrome, then; kind of a just for the helluvit, seemed like a fun thing to do on a January afternoon sort of deal. Whatever the reason(s), and she mentioned a few, I couldn’t just let sleeping dogs lie, or lick, or whatever, so I’m putting my three cents worth in. To wit:

Whether you marched because Trump won or not is of little relevance, although since you brought it up, I suspect that it was a significant motivator. After all, President Trump did not walk up to the first podium and decide to take things away from you. Certain changes became highpoints of his campaign because your friends and neighbors and millions of people you never heard of wanted those changes. virtually everything you fear the loss of is paid for by somebody else, involuntarily in most cases. Clean water, clean air, and national parks are all valued by most Americans. As with any household budget though, we have to ask first: how much can I afford? We need transportation, but need alone does not provide a blank check for most of us to purchase luxury vehicles. Blank checks for many needs, and wants redefined as needs, have been handed out like Halloween treats for too long. Goosing up the national debt to pay for them doesn’t get nearly the blow-back that goosing up taxes instead would get. The “conservative” view says to put away the global credit card and get things under control; the “neo-liberal,” judgment is “damn the spending limits, full charge ahead!”

Healthcare: do we all deserve it? Of course we do. We deserve many things, but we will actually acquire or enjoy relatively few of them. Do we have a right to quality, affordable healthcare? Yes, but the questions are, what does that mean and how will we avail ourselves of it?

I retired from the local medical center after twenty five years, and I saw many things change over that time span. The institution was “self-insured” early on, and my expenses for care as an employee were reasonable but certainly not “free” just because I worked in a hospital. I could pick up prescriptions from the hospital pharmacy, and have the cost deducted incrementally from my paycheck. They weren’t cheap, but it was affordable. If I visited my physician, he billed my (supplementary) insurance company, and then he billed me for the difference. When I ended up hospitalized for three days in the mid-eighties with chest pain….eventually diagnosed as GERD…my bill was about $3, essentially for the TV in my room.

We are not a rich community, but the people did not go without care for lack of money. The hospital had a “charity care” program for those who could not pay. They still do, as a matter of fact, because enforced insurance or no, many people have unreasonable and unreachable “deductibles”, and therefore would go without if the community didn’t do as it has always done and find a way to get it done.

Family violence shelters and services deserve funding, of course, but if the people cannot afford to pay for the level of care recommended or desired, and if the country can’t afford to provide same without borrowing the money on the world market or snatching it out of the taxpayer’s wallet, then we have to find another way. We can.

You mentioned education, Rabbi, a topic close to my heart. But I don’t want bureaucrats and paid advocates deciding what our children should learn and how they should learn it. The elementary school I went to back in the fifties isn’t there anymore. It was one of those cavernous brick buildings with 14 ft. ceilings, stairways that echoed, and the playground was dust or mud, depending on the weather. But we learned. My late cousin was a brilliant man. Like his father, he went to MIT and became a Chemical Engineer. He stopped short of completing his PhD because he was too busy working.

I went to school with him one day when my family visited on an early summer vacation. My school had finished for the year. It was quite an experience. Believe it or not, it was a little one room schoolhouse! He eventually went to a prestigious private school on scholarship, the same way he went to MIT.

There were no federal rules, regulations, and mandates to follow beyond the fundamentals back then. If I had my druthers, we would dismantle the Department of Education. I think our teachers would be free to teach more, instead of connecting the dots, and I’d bet the kids would learn just fine.

Last but not least on your list, Rabbi, is the right to free speech, which you, and I, and those who marched on January 21 have all done and are doing. I believe it is in the best interests of our nation as it was conceived, and of the 325 million plus people now living here, to think about what we have been doing, think about the outcomes, and question how we might best proceed.

One thing is clear to me. We cannot continue to hold “need” as the primary justification for actions taken, and convenience for the manner in which they are taken.  

One thing that must change is the National Credit Card. I’ve torn up a couple in my lifetime and I’m still kicking. I trust our nation can do the same. It’s not a simple problem to resolve, of course, because it is not a single problem and they are not independent of each other. But we have to start. I’ve untangle some pretty nasty line snags over the years, but it never stopped me from fishing.

Another thing I have seen change over the years is the fragmenting of the sense of community, and the dissolution of the family unit as where and how we learn our values. Much of that is now defined and described on a bureaucratic or legislative level. Those are cold eyes through which to see the world, ones friends, neighbors, and family. While may seem rather philosophical in nature, I did major in the behavioral and social sciences, so I think about such things.

As federal programs and funding have been made available, people have come to problem-solve differently. Need is the new currency of acquisition, administered by countless bureaucracies and “government contractors’” the latter which is provide services that government will pay for. Too many of the “critical” needs, I fear, are identified at the polls.   And, you know, when the rumblings started about actually repealing the AFA, I was somewhat stunned but not particularly surprised that some of the first gasps of protest were about the jobs that would be lost!  Then it got down to the PR push about healthcare itself.

What it boils down to, is we have a society with a near-religious sense of entitlement. We have many things to which we feel we have a right, deserve, to which we believe we are entitled, with the caveat they will all be provided “free.” The problem is, these quantities are uniformly named, created, distributed, and paid for by the federal government. The federal; government does not pay for them, however, because the federal; government has no money and doesn’t produce any. The bills are paid through debt and by being confiscated in one way or another from us. You. Me.

That’s my take on it, Rabbi, and not surprisingly, “we” aren’t giving up easily, either.

Regards,
Jeffrey Marsh
Retired

By the way, opposing Trump or his policies with a winner take all mindset may serve political or personal goals, but that doesn’t mean it would be best for the country. I would suggest that the smart money will search for productive ways to work with his administration. This country wasn’t built only by folks on one side of the road, and it won’t survive if managed that way much longer.

JM

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Uncle Sam’s tacit approval…

December 12, 2016

of “political correctness” tyranny….

The first time I recall having experimented with a “racist” epithet was, I believe, in the second grade. It was at recess, in the school yard by the big steel swing set where classmate Robert and I were doing a little scuff and spit over the last available seat. Robert was a “negro”, the accepted “polite” form of the time. I called him a nigger. He punched me in the nose. That was the end of that. We were friends after that.

There is no telling how many millions of dollars that little interaction saved the American taxpayer. I’m not advocating for violence, mind you, but I’m not advocating for some hydra-headed bureaucracy employing thousands of people dispatching an agent or three to shake their fingers at rude brats and lay out the permitted lexicon. Robert seemed to have handled the task rather nicely, for free.

Similarly, I spent my last couple of years in college at a small university in Florida where My Spanish professor was a Cuban refugee and many of my friends had made their way from that island nation to south Florida on makeshift rafts and other flotsam and jetsam. Let’s face it, when a teenager learns a foreign language, learning the popular pejoratives is a social requirement. Context and timing are fine details learned later, often by trial and error, like when I committed the error of addressing my friend Rufino as “maracon.” He was an athlete, and if he had caught me I have no doubt that his lesson in manners would have been considerably less benign than Robert’s had been many years before. Nevertheless, Rufino and I remained friends, and as with the Robert incident, there is no telling how many millions of dollars that frantic night pursuit through the palmettos saved the American taxpayer.

Jump forward about fifty years to the day Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar etched the same epithet into his eye-black, the dark smears athletes use to ward off glare, as a taunt to the opposing players. He was suspended without pay, had to donate the nearly $100k in lost salary to same-sex advocacy groups, and participate in “sensitivity” exercises. It would have been far simpler, and would have brought his intra-cultural communications awareness up to date more directly, if someone with a personal complaint about the little display of locker room banter had just taken a swing at him.

Needless to say, things are quite different from when I was younger. For one thing, the job of teaching “family values” and community standards has migrated from the family and the community to vague bureaucratic clusters of authority in orbit around the federal government. It all kind of grew out of the Civil Rights movement and related politic of the past four or five decades, like a boil may develop on the ass of a student who spends long hours sitting on hard seats to absorb knowledge. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and sometimes positive actions spawn unintended negative sidebars.

The so-called “PC”, or “Political Correctness” phenomenon, a case in point, achieved a level of power and influence that many find to be incompatible with traditional understandings of the Constitution and philosophies of the United States as a society. Those wielding the power, or those profiting and benefiting from its application, strongly disagree, of course.

Political correctness is difficult to explain, since it’s largely subjective in nature. Perhaps it can be illustrated by recalling certain aspects of childhood, both the real and the somewhat mythical. I am thinking of how, in the final months before Christmas, kids would be acutely aware of how their conduct might influence the outcome on that anxiously anticipated morning. We didn’t become angels, but the atmosphere of consequences being especially welded to behaviors during that time period was palpable. Certainly, parents and other interested parties in the adult population must have reaped some benefits from the “Santa Method” The “PC” of the twenty first century is like that.

Those with the power, and it can be anybody, make the rules, set the standards, sort the lexicon into Permitted and Taboo piles, endorse selected belief systems while condemning others, and generally work to engineer the culture to their liking. This is nothing new. Human cultures have always established their accepted ways in this manner. However, when the Colonists rebelled against England and put together a homegrown system of governance of their own, it was structured to prevent such centralization of power and authority into elite cliques and to make it truly a government “of the people, by the people, for the people, ” as Lincoln later phrased it.

Note that I have been discussing what I see as the downside of a “Politically Correct” movement in general. I believe the separation of a population into classes of the Ruled and the Rulers, while absolutely a “normal” human behavior, is a handicap to the modern society as a whole. The thing that takes a normal “grouping” action and gives it the potential to do harm is the endorsement of government, which is supposed to be an expression of all of the people. The founders were acutely aware of such dangers and worked very hard to avoid the pitfalls of pure Democracy, which can become a matter of “mob rule”.

To be more specific, and to revisit the incidents in which I had a role many years ago, the community response to offensive language was previously a matter decided within families, who were in turn influenced by extended family, neighbors, and the community in general. Cultures have always sought cohesion, but I have watched the current wave grow over a lifetime. This “PC” twist is not just a temporary ripple in response to a specific episode or issue. It is an overall shift towards a more prescriptive, centralized, national government that seems increasingly distanced from the individual on Main Street, USA. This is a two sided coin, of course, and a complacent populace has allowed it to build, in part because most have felt untouched by it or somehow immune.

The “please and thank you” aspects of daily life were, in fact, considered largely to be either “off limits” to those in Washington, DC, or of little interest to them. Mother, father, the church, and others taught us what it was “nice” to say or do, and what was not tolerated in those areas. That would differ from family to family, and from community to community, and those with much in common would associate, while those with significant differences would not. The role of any centralized form government was focused on the central, common denominators under the accepted rule of law, in such matters as felonious crimes of violence and property.

Through various mechanisms, and in response to a number of certain events and circumstances, The United States has become sharply divided between those striving for a more “statist” society while attempting to override or diminish the value of individuality, and those who are poised to defend a more traditional Constitutionalist approach. “Gated Communities,” where everyone is expected to adhere to codes of behavior and appearance devised by a ruling committee, are preferred by some people, but living in one is voluntary. Converting the entire nation into one big “Gated Community” would not be voluntary nor would it serve the preferences of those who want to be free to express themselves as individuals rather than as just part of a group that paints their houses and landscapes their yards in unison and subject to approval. The iconic example today would be the Affordable Care Act. The title smiles gently and sounds caring, but in practice essentially nationalized the health insurance and medical industries and has benefited just enough people to maintain an air of legitimacy, while being little more than a Mafia-style protection racket. Buy the prescribed insurance or the Knee Breakers will take your tax refund money away from you. By associating the health insurance mandate with the Internal Revenue Service, it isn’t much of a stretch to re-label noncompliance as “tax evasion” and other life changing white collar felonies.

When my friend Robert punched me in the nose, and my friend Rufino threatened me with serious bodily harm, along with a long list of other “learning experiences” I have logged during my life, the values and expected rules of social interaction favored by our society and culture have survived, adapted as needed to changes in the world and the neighborhood, and been successfully passed on to a couple more generations. We as a people have faced challenges before, and I’m not afraid of our way of life being taken away from us. I sense that this time is different, however, and the danger instead is that we will simply throw it away. We’ve already started. The ACA isn’t the only stop sign we’ve run.

Bureaucracy, which one cannot avoid in a nation of 325 million people, has gained excessive levels of power and authority on a broad scale. One of the ways this is accomplished is through the way regulations are structured and funded. Simply put, if a federal agency wants to move people in a certain direction, it may do so through regulation. The agency wants everyone nationwide to follow a certain line or program, so it threatens to withhold funding from states that don’t impose supportive regulations of their own. Another way is to issue the “unfunded mandate” type of regulation, and offer funding to those who march in step and to withhold funding from those who do not, as well as to issue penalties. The ACA has elements of the latter. I thought about how someone might simply arrange their tax withholdings to zero out so there would be no funds to confiscate for failing to purchase the mandated insurance. I anticipate that, if it has not already done so, the IRS will soon close that “loophole”. Odd, isn’t it? A tax action that was considered good personal financial management just a few years ago either is now, or soon will be, a federal white-collar crime worthy of imprisonment.

I look forward to the day when we, the people, wrest our responsibilities and liberties back from our own government and once again adhere to a code where one doesn’t fear for one’s well being or freedom for saying, writing, or endorsing words and ideas that someone else just doesn’t like. The right to be rude and ignorant should once again be a freedom, along with the potential consequences of speaking or acting in such a manner. The government’s responsibility is to protect us while we wind our way through such issues, not to play the irate Nanny telling people how to chew their food and not to say things like nigger, spic, slope, chink, wop, kike, frog, etcetera, etcetera. Where is George Carlin when you need him?

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Why do they DO that…?

November 25, 2016

You know that kind of folksy joke about why the family dog always picks the day you have visitors, like the minister, or the Ladies’ Auxiliary, to wander into the room, turn around three times, lie down, and BEGINS TO VIGOROUSLY LICK….well, you know how it goes….

dog-because-he-can_01c

People apparently do things for the same reason…

People are diverse by default, not necessarily because some movement decided it should be so, and it is normal for people to associate with others most similar to themselves, That doesn’t mean they hate the folks down the road.  Nevertheless, the self anointed Interior Decorators of the culture pound the podiums and preach their version of diversity, and woe unto he who dares to diversify outside of the prescribed lines!  I had a drill instructor that could lean at a 45 degree angle, bark like a seal, and spit red hot nails, but I’d wager he couldn’t even chew butter in the moral shock wave of an irate Liberal.  Don’t make an issue of my picking on “Liberals.”  I spew ridicule spherically, not just left or right.

Thus, it is not really surprising to access an alleged source of “news” only to be informed of some newly discovered social sin, verbal transgression, thought pattern, or the latest intellectual dingle-berry to drop from the stern-sheets of the PC Beast that humanity is mandated to adopt.

Why do people do this stuff, boss each other around, vie for control, and for some irrational reason other than fear actually endorse the Gods of Glib?

That’s easy.

Because they can.

So, the latest offering is just another chapter in the continuous game of enforcing the rules against government making any law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” by making rules that nip at the heels of the First Amendment like a Narcissistic Chihuahua on amphetamines.

While, in the name of “defending our freedom”,  we send weapons and warriors half way around the globe to vanquish some folks who have the audacity to destroy the symbols and sacred doo-hickies of Middle Eastern populations who don’t practice the “only religion the only way”, things are getting dicey here at home, too.  We have our own version of the Taliban going around deciding which National Monuments displaying crosses violate the First Amendment and demanding that they be removed (polite for “destroyed”).

As with virtually any action perpetrated in the name of achieving or enforcing some “good”, these things can only be done at the cost of someone else who happens to be on the wrong wavelength, go to the wrong church, belong to the wrong political party, speak with the wrong accent, or in some other way qualify to be redefined as irrelevant.

Why do they do that?

Because they can.

…and why can they…?

…because, basically, nobody tells them they can’t.

Well, I’m here to tell ‘em they can’t.   I’m all for helping those in need, but I’m not at all for making that mission into a Cabinet position and turning it into some massive industry that consumes an immense quantity of raw materials and produces absolutely nothing.

I’m all for “defending our freedom”, but I think it’s long past the time to learn the difference between shit and shinola.  When German U-boats cruised our eastern seaboard, and Japanese aviators barbequed Pearl Harbor, we wasted no time juggling smoke and mirrors.  We defended our freedom, and we did it definitively, and we did it well.

When our nation was again attacked on September 11, 2001, “defending our freedom” once again became the priority.

What we need to do, however, is figure out where the real line is that separates genuinely “defending our freedom” and just acting as District Sales Representatives for the munitions industries, their foot-warmers in Congress, and others who keep our economy afloat by promoting and feeding global conflicts.

And for those who are still capitalizing on stage time from the recent election, I would suggest they stop projecting gloom and doom because Donald Trump seems to have grabbed the brass ring.  Get over it.  We don’t put kings in the White House, though some of them seem to think that was the deal.  No one man or woman is going to fix everything and make America great again and no one man or woman is going to flip a switch and turn the USA into a 3rd world country or a glassy spot on the globe.  Either of those two roads can only be chosen and followed by The People.  I trust our system of governance as it was devised.  I don’t necessarily trust many of my fellow citizens to understand it and follow its wisdom.  A culture of entitlement has been fostered and developed over the past few decades.  Oddly, it isn’t the recipients of “free lunch” that benefit from this atmosphere, it is those who manage the game and dole out the goodies.  And, I’m not saying they are bad people.  They aren’t.  I blame a damaged system and each and every one of us who has spent our time finger pointing instead of rolling up our sleeves and doing something productive.

It can’t be fixed all at once, but we need to start somewhere.  The ultimate goal, of course, is to have government get the hell out of the way so the American people can do what they have always proven they can do best.  Produce.  Create.  Protect our freedom.

So, I’m saying to those who think otherwise, it’s time for you to move on.  Government doesn’t make things, doesn’t fix things, doesn’t produce anything.  The people do.  You have graced the living room floor of America and done your “ablutions” long enough.  Get out.

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Out-spooking the national spooks…

October 20, 2016

Somebody picked the dip’s pocket…….

Okay, so I can’t help but see the “black humor” in this one…

The story is about the investigation of how a bunch of stuff, including some top-secret hacking tools belonging to the National Security Agency, ended up being offered for sale on the internet by a group calling themselves….wait for it…The Shadow Brokers. This exquisite woo-woo is right out of the Nixon era playbook. Compounding the irony is that the media got the skinny on the item from inside sources who talked off the record because they weren’t authorized to…you know the drill. I couldn’t make this up. Well, I could, I suppose, but I don’t drink anymore….

 

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On minding one’s own business…

August 9, 2016

and remaining heavily armed ….

Much as I hate to admit it, “sides” are a normal part of the universe. I have been particularly rabid in my efforts to be oppositional and critical, and to avoid championing a “side” during this phase of the perpetual election cycle, but it finally dawned on me……

Even a handful of decades ago, when I was helping a friend of mine on his lobstah bo’t, I had enough sense not to relieve myself into the wind when the need arose, but I fear that is just what I have been doing politically.

You see, those who are identified as the “Left” malign the philosophies, policies, morals, intellect, shoe size, and favorite vegetables of those who are identified as the “Right” and vice versa. Despite what I think has been a gallant attempt to discover the legendary “Middle Ground,” my own idealism seems to have seduced me away from Truth. It might be compared to Anastasia or Drizella attempting to cram a size 12 callous mill into a size 5 glass slipper.

All is not lost, which can be interpreted to mean there remains a glimmer of hope for my mission, or that I remain engorged with horse feathers. We’ll see. In any case, I’ve decided that my error was in believing the hype that all references to “sides” mean “Left” or “Right”, and that no other arrangement or perspective exists. Heck, even a humble cube has four sides, so what’s with the two stuff? What if reality is actually more like a dodecahedron or something like that?

Ergo, I no longer subscribe to the Left-Right dyad, or to the self generated myth that there must for some reason be legitimate, identifiable space between them. Perhaps not. Perhaps they’re both full of crap.

History tends to bear out that point. Neither leftist nor right-wing schemes for running a society have ever lasted on their own momentum. Anything surviving more than a generation or so seems to have done so by virtue of continuously expanding levels and complexities of force. I might say that the answer is as clear as the nose on my face, which is true to the extent that it means I should stop worrying over the nose on anyone else’s face. What a novel idea.

Personally, I’m fine with that. Whether I am oppositional or just refuse to be bullied by majority opinion is, well, a matter of opinion. I’ve thought for many years that it meant being generally Libertarian.

…..which brings me back to the dodecahedron. If you have twelve people in a room, there are, by default, twelve opinions which may differ or agree with each other in many different combinations. When the potential mathematical computation poops out, kind of like mine did the day I walked into my first Statistical Analysis class, it boils down to the best solution being “To each his own,” as long as one does no harm to another.

Not everybody plays by the rules, though, or believes in math, Western ethics, or anything but their own particular concept of Existence, which may include extermination of all who differ. Cessation of such behavior can be incentivized by the possibility of a recall on that 62 grain chunk of lead a few milliseconds away from bisecting the brain of the self-anointed one. It is what it is. Nevertheless, the goal and method are both focused on my own nose on my own face right now.

Humanity is predisposed to King of the Mountain, and expecting others to respect my desire to be left to my own devices was proven to be a fool’s errand by the Pleistocene. Plan “B” meshes nicely with sort of a Libertarian approach, in that I should mind my own business but remain heavily armed.

That’s just me, however. What can a nation of some 325 million people do? Well, we did it during the late eighteenth century, but soon set about the business of everybody else’s business, ostensibly in order to prevent our having to do it all over again. Now, we live in a world, at least partly of our own creation, where the proverbial Rock and Hard Place are represented by the inevitability being part of a conquered world or being the one doing the conquering.

In case it hasn’t dawned on folks yet, the golden age of thundering in on horseback, honing one’s saber in the air, or roaring in aboard a Humvee shredding real estate, recalcitrants, and residents alike are the things of history and video games. Conflict resolution, conflict perpetration, and just plain trying to grab the other guy’s stuff are now the realm of Dirty Tricks and Cyber Mischief. I don’t have to shoot an adversary anymore. I just have to jam his phone and then extort his compliance. Then shoot him.

I know how to play. I just don’t want to.

…and since I live in a society that allows for limited opinionating and noisemaking without consequences, a society pretty much controlled by silent partners behind the ones we actually sort of elect through banter and ballot, I’ll contribute to the din. After all, even those who view me as just another beef critter on the ranch like to gamble that we won’t actually outplay them some day. Workin’ on it. Some day, hopefully soon, but probably not, a whole lot of beef critters are going to do their business on the Capitol steps…

Wait for it….

 

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Not with my permission…

July 10, 2016

neither actual nor inferred….

Back in the “sixties” when Vietnam, desegregation, and pot were the issues of the day, and the next day, and the next, etcetera, somebody coined a little verbal bumper sticker that went something like this: “What if they gave a war and nobody came?” Of course, the poignant question became an actual bumper sticker and then faded into history as Vietnam came to a close with a dull thud.

I’ve been thinking it would be a shame to just let such a clever premise remain entombed when there are so many donkey-butts wandering around just waiting for someone to pin such a great tail on them.

Take the inaptly named “Obamacare,” for example. I say “inaptly named” because Obama knew less about the Affordable Care Act than Nancy Pelosi did, but got tagged to carry it across the line like a coke mule so he named it after himself. Just another one of those little political mysteries like Lincoln, Kennedy, and a few more that will remain safely under the rug for generations until nobody except library moles give a damn anymore.

But, for right now, a lot of people give a damn. As is usually the case with government shenanigans, the current administration has its metaphorical butt covered with the Internal Revenue Service’s expanded role as resident knee-breakers (i.e., “Enforcers”), poised to drop by for a spot of tea with any folks who neglect to voluntarily purchase the government’s prescribed products. Nevertheless, I have to ask, “What if they held an enrollment period and 115 million American households decided not to show up?” Heck, why be greedy? How about if just half of the expected gate had better things to do next year?

Well, The Knee-Breakers would raise the Jolly Roger, of course, and confiscate any and all tax refunds we’ve all been perfectly trained to salivate over on cue every April like Pavlov’s dogs. The funny thing is, it is perfectly legal and not particularly difficult to fill out a new W-4 so that one’s payroll withholdings come close to covering one’s estimated taxes, resulting in little or no refund. Thus, my second bumper sticker would read “What if most of the 122 million taxpayers simultaneously tired of salivating on cue and set up zero-surplus W-4s next year?” Hey, why not, it’s our money, isn’t it? Why let the government play with it interest free?

I’ll be right up front about this: we might get away with it, but only temporarily. Obamacare is just another one of many Ponzi schemes our elected representatives have managed to set up over the years, and it won’t work unless everybody pays up according to the plan. The scam of mandating the purchase of prescribed insurance, and “awarding” credits to pay for it, is dependent on most people letting about 10 percent of their earned income wallow in government coffers, handy for confiscation if desired, or to put into various other crap shoots, many of them quite profitable. Believe me, take away their mad money and they will be, well, mad. It’s hard to tell what “mini-tyranny” would be cooked up to compensate for the shortfall, punish those who had the audacity to act like Americans and assert their Independence and Liberty, and to tighten the noose to prevent reruns.

I know, it’s easy for me to say “do it,” but I say “do it anyway.

And, it is most certainly NOT easy for me to say. I am almost entirely dependent on my Social Security now that I am retired. Politicians toy with the idea of cutting Social Security, mostly just to intimidate people like me. Funny thing is, there are a lot of people like me and I’m not intimidated.

At 72, the best way to ensure that I will make an obscene hand gesture is to threaten to break my hand if I make an obscene hand gesture.

Besides, there are several things the government doesn’t want to mess with, and Social Security is one of them. I experienced my first Social Security deduction in 1957 when I started sweeping floors and washing windows at the local Five and Dime on Saturday mornings for a buck an hour. The last confiscation occurred in 2007, fifty years later, when I retired. Ponzi scheme or not, and it is, I complied with having my pocket picked for fifty years while constantly being assured of financial security in retirement….not that I believe everything I’m told, but I’ll hold them to it to the best of my ability, and if that doesn’t work I’ll just become unmanageable and incontinent.

In all sincerity, though, the American people have got to regain control of their own government. The challenge is, as history has taught us over and over again since the beginning of civilization, “government” is a dangerous but necessary beast.

When not controlled and watched over carefully, its nature is to take control and enslave those who engaged its services in the first place. And, “government” is not a “them” in conflict with “us” in our situation. In reality, a part of the population has decided to partner with the beast and steer its course to their own benefit. Those who do not agree with that course have no choice but to resist, take it back, and then resist the temptation to do the same thing but to their own benefit.

The framework is intact, but will inevitably be redesigned to curb liberty and redefine “freedom” if complacency continues.

We are a society, and make certain limited concessions to facilitate that arrangement, but we have a way to live freely if we will simply follow the wisdom in the Constitution instead of the seductive promises and toothy grins of those who believe to their very core that everybody else owes them the privilege of spending their money for them and dictating how they should live, talk, think, and believe.

Do it. Its time. To paraphrase a former First Lady, “Just say NO to government.”

 

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Own it to Change it

May 24, 2016

“They” are imaginary friends…..

I was never a star student, tending to set my priorities elsewhere at the time, but I have always harbored a nearly insatiable and somewhat undisciplined curiosity. Whether or not that led to useful learning might be a matter of opinion, but it did place me right up front with my toes over the line when good and bad things happened. I learned far more after my formal education was completed than I ever did during its course. In defense of that education, I was taught how to learn should I ever have chosen to do so. I did.

Having said that, my rudimentary understanding of our system of government suggests to me that our government was put together with three branches for very good reason. We have a Legislative branch which is empowered to write laws, a Judicial branch which is empowered to interpret those laws, and an Executive branch that is responsible for implementing and administering the policies enacted by the Legislative branch.

What that means to me is that no one branch of government wields universal power, and for the whole to work most effectively, the three must respect those boundaries. Somehow, we the people have been remiss in allowing our elected representatives and those appointed or employed by them to stray and to rewrite those job descriptions for their own convenience over time. While I have no doubt that there are exceptions, I believe these course corrections were not made out of malice or as part of any great conspiracy. Corruption takes more than a bad guy to rear its head; it takes a complacent constituency to allow it to happen. Thus, as the public came to recognize and enjoy various aspects of our way of life, and were encouraged to do so by those empowered to manage and safeguard it all, the unmentioned fourth branch of government, the citizens of the United States, got lazy and let their guard down.

Consequently, over the past several decades, government authority and responsibility have grown and expanded. Whenever government assumes a responsibility, the public loses the power to fulfill that responsibility itself. This is progressive and cumulative.

Government has developed a system of checks and balances of its own, of sorts, not only ensuring it will maintain control, but that it will be in a position to expand it as well.

We have been subject to a federal Income Tax for the past hundred years or so, and the arguments about its legality continue. In and of itself, if the original checks and balances of the three branches of government had remained intact, such an assessment might be tolerable on a temporary basis from time to time, but that is not how it happened. As it turned out, the Income Tax provided a source of revenue, and various offices began to act on some of their ideas. In time, the onus reversed from a government constrained to manage within a budget to the taxpayer having to meet the government’s financial demands. Appropriate analogies have bred like June mosquitoes.

In recent years, the government has made inroads into management of the private sector through regulation and legislation. At the same time, the process was facilitated by a softening of the separation of powers among the branches of government. The Presidency has long had legitimate but limited independent powers of its own, but these have come to be used as a shortcut and a way to bypass a reticent Congress, drawing critical comparisons to “one man rule.” Similarly, the Judicial branch has ventured beyond its interpretational responsibilities into the realm redefining certain laws. In fact, if one were to strip away all of the regulations, mandates, and statutory parameters not specifically authorized by Congress, those who have come to harvest perpetual Free Lunch on the taxpayer’s dime would have to find another carcass to feed upon. I’m not talking about the people on welfare, I’m talking about the Welfare Industry and the tens of thousands of bureaucrats and employees of private sector “non-profit” entities who “profit”, ironically, from administering welfare programs. As with any industry, development of new products is a constant need. The welfare industry has a somewhat captive “customer” base, and a completely captive source of revenue, something private sector industries don’t enjoy. New programs require more personnel and more money and the bottom line of maintaining the “throughput” is job security.

So, how do we change all of this? How do we fix it? Without question, it will be a difficult task. People will fight to protect their jobs, as any of us would. There would most likely be a significant escalation in authoritarianism, which actually would only be a premature emergence of the inevitable mad scramble for universal control leading to fascism and other authoritarian structures. This is where the rubber will meet the road, so to speak.

We’ve been there before, to some extent. The Civil Rights movement literally involved “fire in the streets” and outright armed confrontations. People were assassinated. The Vietnam War controversy also came to a head with armed confrontations and citizens firmly saying “no.” The retaking of the reins of the existing government by an overwhelming force of citizens determined to return to Constitutional government could very well dwarf those two campaigns.

People are afraid. People are angry. Asked why, many cannot say. How else could we come to experience a Presidential election dominated by generally despised front runners who lead by the weight of phalanxes of dedicated and passionate minorities passively observed by disinterested impotent majorities? Change is inevitable, but it may not be the kind of change most would like to see, not as long as we remain passive and impotent.

I don’t wish to see the reins of government held by a naïve, bombastic businessman of questionable ethics and judgment. The world has not fared well in the past when such things came to pass. I don’t wish to see the Oval Office occupied by an avowed adherent to socialist principles who unabashedly intends to suck the economy dry to pay for a Christmas List of “free stuff”. I don’t want to see the White House become home once again to a former First Lady and Secretary of State who has had her eye on being the first woman President since the day she left that building. She promises “more of the same”, and “more so,” and she hauls a truckload of political baggage with her. I’ve had enough Liberal usurpation of liberty for this lifetime, and I’m not in the mood for any other brand of despotism either.

There are those who predict the demise of the major parties. Washington advised against party politics, but I think it is human nature to organize into groups. What would be welcome would be a change to major parties more aligned with Constitutional government and Libertarian values that would return government to its role as the public’s servants instead of the other way around.

I’m not so naïve as to believe these changes can be made peacefully and politely. They can’t. The question is, are there enough people who are fed up enough to support such changes anyway? Are we more in number or passion than those who rally for Trump, Clinton, and Sanders?

 

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