Who We Really Are

Obama has said, of “torture”, that it isn’t what we do, that it isn’t what we are. And yet, looking at the plethora of action hero movies, I see no hesitation by the good guys to beat the intel out of bad guys so they can rescue victims or stop a catastrophe. And Hollywood keeps making such movies, so it can only mean they make money, and that means the people of the United States enjoy them enough to pay high admission prices to watch them, or maybe to buy copies for home viewing. I haven’t noticed any movies where the hero successfully gets intel by bribing or reasoning with a bad guy. The important point here is not that Hollywood makes realistic movies, for it generally doesn’t, but that they make movies that appeal to our real values so we go to see them.
 
Obama and others may not like the use of torture, but regardless of the reasons for their objections, torture sells. And it sells because, even if the bad guy won’t talk, at least he gets punished for the evil in which he is participating. And the punishment isn’t subject to a court of law or legal cleverness, or flat out non-enforcement of the law; punishment is here and now, in the context of the movie. The hero almost never beats up the wrong person, so we lack that reason for guilt over it. Should not evil be punished? And in the context of the movie plot, it is.
 
So Obama is wrong about human nature, particularly the nature of human beings in the United States. It is unfortunate that he is so out of touch with the soul of America. I suspect the reason is that, as Robert Kennedy put it, he sees things that never were and wonders, why not? Well, here’s why not: because we value our freedom enough to fight. We protect what is ours rather than negotiate it away, and we believe the best defense is a committed offense. As we have walked through the valley of the shadow of death, we have feared no evil, for we have been strong enough and confident enough to conquer it. Negotiation, which Obama and his ilk prefer, always involves compromise, which means that we decide to tolerate some amount of evil. And evil keeps returning to the negotiating table to move the point of compromise further toward having more evil in the world.
 
We were never goodness incarnate, but we are sliding gradually into the abyss. Meanwhile, our leaders keep throwing around the words “peace” and “compromise”, as though both good and evil just want to peacefully coexist.  The only way for that coexistence to occur is for one side to take over the land, and the other to be buried six feet below it.
 

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I wonder why no one ever asks the President at what point the country might be considered to have a spending problem. If we don’t have one now, what are the criteria that would persuade him that it had become true? I will concur that the President has no problem spending every penny of revenues and then some, with the assistance of Congress and the continuous spending resolution.

There is a discrepancy between revenues received and money spent or invested. Outgo exceeds income. Either there is a spending problem or there is a revenue problem. I gather the President and his fellow “whales” (in the gambler sense of the term) think there is a revenue problem. This is consistent with his goal to spend even more while claiming it will not add to the discrepancy, because the only ways that can be true is to either decrease current spending on something so the money can be redirected, or to acquire higher revenues. I just don’t think he plans to cut anything, but maybe he’ll fool me and gut the Department of Defense. I’d prefer to see the Departments of Energy and Environment go away, but I don’t expect him to cut anything, except the rate of growth of our GDP. And that will probably be unintentional.

For all that he says he wants a ‘balanced” approach, he cites nothing to support a contention that balance leads to a more effective result to grow the economy or create lots more jobs, or whatever he is after. Is it supposed to be “fair”? I would settle for “effective”.

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Why do any voters support liberals over conservatives, anywhere? Seriously, why?
Do voters may think liberals “care” about them? This is suspicious, since people running for office won’t ever meet most of the voters. They don’t know them. They usually live in totally different circumstances, so they lack first-hand knowledge of how the voters live. They don’t spend much of their time getting to know the voters. So any “caring” is of necessity very abstract, or based on caring about getting their vote. (The latter applies top Republicans running for office, too.)
Voters may think liberals are more generous, at least with government benefits. Government benefits are supported by tax dollars, not politicians’ personal wealth. If you have no qualms about giving away resources that cost you nothing, it’s easy to be that kind of generous. (Conservatives do this, too, though perhaps to a lesser extent.)  When politicians define compassion, taxpayers are forced to practice it.
Perhaps voters think that liberals are “better” than conservatives, in the sense of being less evil. Considering the politicians aren’t funding programs personally, and suffer no adverse consequences for programs that don’t work, why not throw tax money at an effort to fix something? Even when it fails, you get credit for trying, and you can always say the failure was because those evil conservatives wouldn’t let even more money be committed. Giving in to the irresponsible impulse to spend other people’s money, with no particular metrics that the plan will work, isn’t compassion or any other form of “good”. And who pays for the failures? Both the taxpayers (e.g. funding) and the beneficiaries (e.g. suffering because the program didn’t provide real help), while the politicians run ads about how much they’ve done for you. For them, it’s win-win. For the rest of us, it’s lose-lose.
Voters may think the liberals are “cool” and “fun”. I hope the reasons do not include something this shallow. If they do, consider the chances that you will get to go to their parties in DC, or that they will drop by your next party. What good is cool and fun if it’s happening somewhere else? Somewhere that your tax dollars (or ones that might have been allocated to fund more benefits) are paying for it, and you don’t get to go.
It has been suggested that minority voters, in particular, believe that liberals understand their concerns better than conservatives. Human concerns include food, clothing and shelter. Modern human concerns include getting actual medical care (not just insurance), keeping your family together, and having the opportunity to succeed, both for yourself and your children. Everyone understands your general concerns, no matter what minority or majority group you affiliate with. We all have bills, we all need a job or some means of financial support. Many people either are, or have, aging relatives to be taken care of, and/or children that are going through some level of school. Liberal politicians harp upon helping the poor, the downtrodden, etc., but always with government programs. Government programs generally ensure dependency on government. It’s human nature to hope that a source of something you need will never dry up, but this means that you have to stay politically involved with keeping your benefactors in office. Meanwhile, if government programs worked, wouldn’t there be a steadily decreasing number of people using them? Unfortunately, that isn’t the goal of most government programs. If people become successful, they move on and the program shrinks, perhaps even eventually being retired.
Programs that end get no more funding. No funding means nothing for greedy politicians and their friends to skim, and fewer dollars in their personal pockets. Bigger programs mean more dollars in their pockets. Which way are the greedy going to go? BIGGER. So they expand the eligibility requirements so more people get with the program, which then needs more funding, which means higher taxes, more borrowing, more printing of dollars by the Federal Reserve, higher national debt, and less for private citizens to put into voluntary charitable contributions, savings (which banks can then invest as loans), and durable goods (like getting a new refrigerator or car) whose sales might result in more jobs and a way to replace the income of benefits with the wages of a job that doesn’t depend on a specific politician getting (re)elected.
Ask yourself who is most in favor of expanding government programs, using tax money (and borrowed or printed money) to stimulate the economy, insisting on states opening up the social safety net to embrace even more people? Who talks more about this being compassionate, and fair, and not so much about the costs, or even the effectiveness based on similar programs? Who talks more about the “evil” nature of their opponents, people who should be “punished”, and tends to brush off the errors of their friends?

Then ask yourself why you would vote for a liberal, or a “Democrat-Lite” conservative.

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And the beat goes on

Liberals continue to beat the media drums for how “extremist” the Republican Party is. And surely, from where they sit, conservatives look as extreme as the liberals do to us. But we don’t need a Democrat-Lite Party. We need to offer a genuine alternative.
If we don’t believe in our core principles, why bother to claim to have any? And if we believe in them, why not insist on sticking to them and NEVER compromise? Every compromise is simply touted by liberals as proof we have no more interest in principles than they do. Both parties are currently considered as being committed only to getting elected so they can be the ones running the lives of the voters, while exempting themselves and their favored constituencies from onerous responsibilities.
So the beat goes on, and the beatings for every attempt to appear reasonable. Will we support amnesty of illegally-resident aliens? That’s only because we have no principles and are essentiually Democrat-Lite, in fact if not in name. Liberals re-define words all the time, and now they are re-defining the opposition party. “Republican” has come to mean either some variant of “evil” or, more simply, “ineffective”.

If conservative principles don’t create more prosperity for almost everyone, then let us find some principles that do. I believe that hard work and good character can be the foundations of some level of success, where success is defined as the degree of control you have over your major life decisions.  When people make decisions based on their self-interest, even if the decisions turn out poorly, they feel greater capability to cope with setbacks. The government learning curve regarding poor decisions is always much flatter than the individual human one, so it is better to not depend on government.

Few people really want to tell other people how to live, day to day. The ones who do tend to go into government careers. Few people really want to be mega-rich. The ones that do go where the money is, either the government or the financial sector. We can’t guarantee that any particular “public servant” isn’t intending to become a “public overseer”, but reducing the power and money that government has to offer will make it a less attractive career option. Banking will still attract the greedy, though they will be in the minority, and you can change banks easier than you can go live under another government.

The fewer decisions made by government, the more there are to be made at the individual level. Government usurps people’s decision-making by first spreading the financial costs around to the entire society, and then demanding that those who pay for your mistakes should get to make your decisions. Cost-sharing sounds appealing when it is helping the less fortunate, but it requires at a minimum that they give up their options. A simple thing like basing welfare support on the lack of a man in the home has resulted in the breakup of many poor families, to their detriment. And over time, the relevance of men to a family has been so obscured that it is no wonder if men feel they have little place in our society, and care little for whether it or their fellow human beings survive.

Let’s show people a path forward, not through federal job-training programs, but through mentoring anyone who will allow us to. Let us all join “big brother/sister” programs and share our hope and optimism about the possibilities of the free market and small government. The liberals have taken over the schools. We can still reach open minds through volunteer groups. Reach out.

Unless, really, you don’t believe the fight is worth having. It’s the future, and you only have to endure part of it. But there are no other warriors than us.

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Fiscal cliff, phooey!

The President is fond of pointing out that the math doesn’t add up on certain topics, where it serves him to pretend the problem is pure math. After all, math doesn’t lie. But just as guns don’t kill people (people do, and usually without using guns), liars exploit math to support their lies. It works because most people are neither mathematicians, nor interested in politics, They want the nation’s business to be conducted sensibly and honestly, and many have given up on getting that. A symbiotic relationship with government that mildly lined the political pockets is tolerable, though not preferable. Sadly, many politicians have become parasites who kill their host.

So the President claims that taxes have to go up, and that revisions to the tax law will do that. But he wants revisions that extract more money from people who have more money in the first place. These same people have access to a plethora of ways to escape the taxes by investing in government-protected loopholes. “Tax-free bonds”, anyone? They might be poor investments on their own merits, but tax laws make them more appealing. If nothing else, an investor might lose less by such investments than if he selected opportunities that brought in more money.

Since people have some amount of free choice, the government continues to tweak its legal infrastructure to get what it wants. I doubt it really wants money. It puts the money into exercising more control of people and their decisions. If it could have total control without the money, I suspect it would lose interest in the money.

So the fiscal cliff is about how the control is to be exercised. Conservatives, or Republicans, tend to think more revenue will be received from taxes if there are lower tax rates and fewer loopholes. Liberals, etc., tend to think that the majority of people are so selfish that few will care if “rich” people have to part with more money and will be (a) happy it isn’t them, and (b) maybe realize that the very rich are going to legally evade the laws through loopholes anyway.

Either way, government wants to control you. The fiscal cliff is a whole lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. Sure, some people will pay more in taxes, and it won’t be the rich. It will be small businesspeople who can’t afford expensive tax lawyers. It will eventually be the middle class, and even the poor. Sales taxes will increase, and people will buy less. Smaller sales volume leads to smaller production volume, and fewer people needed to support production. Fewer people needed means fewer jobs, and more unemployment, and more people giving up and leaving the workforce through early retirement and disability.

The fiscal cliff can be survived, and we will adjust. We will buy less, and make it last longer. Durability of goods will become important again, perhaps. But the government will not get the revenues it claims the law will bring because people have choices. And government shows no sign of slowing its spending, so its “need” grows.

The entitlement cliff, now, THAT’S a cliff!

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Inception

The world is irrational, at least based on what we can see. The media shines light and focus on what they want us to look at, and like the audience at a tennis match, our eyes shift from one place to another, trying to follow the action. The more of us that show signs of keeping up, the faster the focus changes.

The media has told us for years that they are unbiased and that they are looking out for our interests. We want to believe that such people exist, so we can just live our private lives and not be burdened with watching out for impending disasters ourselves. For the most part, human beings just want to get along enough to be left alone. Most of us do not want to tell other people how to live, certainly not at weapon-point. On the other hand, we’ll compromise how we live so that others will be less unhappy. These tendencies are being exploited and expanded to our detriment.

Not only is the media now thoroughly infiltrated by people who have morphed from guiding the formation of our opinions by providing additional facts to people who insist on the precise opinions we may be allowed to have, at times going so far as to encourage lethal acts of violence against those whose opinions are different. Additionally, elected officials, even the best of them, think their job is to be a co-ruler of the people. The wranglings in Washington and at lower levels of government are over the details of what we can be told to do. Politicians do not often question whether they have any right or responsibility to issue direction to us. But the idea of America is not that we elect our rulers, but that we elect soldiers in the war to defend us against foreign and domestic government action. It doesn’t really matter that they compromise a little or a lot over the details, when the details are the least of our problems.

A friend told me that her biggest issue with government is that there are so many sources of information and none of them seem to be trustworthy. Who has time to go figure out what is true, and what criteria could they use to do so?

The most reasonable solution I see is to stop the federal government from doing anything that can possibly be done at a lower level. Too many people have asked the government for help and the government has vacuumed up power to be of help, generally without providing much actual help. Your federal representation is far away, but your state representation (i.e. in your state’s legislative body) is probably much closer. The county and city officials are closer still. It is easier to make the time to go down to city hall and complain or picket, than to go to Washington and make your dissatisfaction known. At the state and city levels, you are also more likely to find people who have similar views on what should or should not be enacted by the government.

Smaller government means less power concentrated at each level, thus attracting fewer would-be megalomaniacs who are either convinced they know best or just want the power trip of being in charge. No one knows what is best for everyone because people are not plug-and-play line replaceable units in the societal machine. We all suffer for the bad decisions we make, but if someone else makes the decisions for us, then we suffer also the loss of freedom, regardless of the decision itself.

What do we do? How do we do it?

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