Wednesday, April 1, 2009

In Closing....

Well, I took my own advice in the last post and took a break from the blog for a while. What I discovered was that I still want to blog. I have a lot of thoughts I need to sort out and blogging helps me with that.

However, I also discovered that I want to alter my focus. I want more of an open format. Locking what I am writing about into the political aspect isn't doing it for me anymore, which is also my own advice from my last post.

Thus, It's a Free Country is going to have to come to a close, as all things do.

Freedom will always be dear to my heart and I still stand by everything I have posted in this blog, which is why it will remain for viewing and commenting and will not be deleted (by me).

If you enjoyed what I wrote here, I encourage you to take a gander at what I will be writing at my new location with the same level of irregularity that you have come to love here:

JACK HAS LEFT TOWN

Thank you for your time here and I wish each of you the best in freedom.

Monday, December 8, 2008

New Game Plan

So, the elections have come and gone and freedom didn't politically gain any traction because strong supporters of liberty and freedom did not end up acquiring any positions, if they even had an opportunity to run.

So, now what?

We keep hearing a lot about how the Republican Party needs to reform. What will they begin doing differently in order to once again become viable? What change in direction will they take? Because, obviously, what they are doing right now isn’t working.

Such questions are to be expected. Yet, I haven't heard any of those same questions regarding those of us who support greater freedom.

I guess there's nothing wrong with the way organizations, individuals, and candidates who try to promote liberty are doing things. So long as "the message" is presented, that is all that is needed.

I disagree.

I think what applies to the Republican Party applies to any party, organization, or individual. The Democratic Party didn't make a comeback from total obscurity to total domination in the last few years without making changes. No one else is any different. The Republicans are not the only ones that need a new direction.

I think it was Einstein who has been quoted as saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results each time. The Libertarian Party, as one of many examples, and its 30 + years of failure to elect anyone to an office of any real significance should listen carefully to this quote, as should any other freedom lover.

You want freedom to be increased at the national level? Then some changes need to happen. We can't keep going in the same direction of failure and expect different results. It is absurd to think that our "message" is the only thing we need to put out and everything else will fall in place.

Obviously, our message isn't enough. America has essentially been a socialist nation since the 30's and probably before (the only difference over the years being to what degree of socialism). This should be proof enough for why not reforming the game plan once in a while is a disastrous choice.

So, what kind of new game plan could we use? Naturally, I have suggestions:

1. No mudslinging at non-freedom initiatives – Let's start talking about what freedom can do right instead of how everything else is being done wrong. No attacks. No finger pointing. No fear-mongering. Don't talk about how something will not work. Talk about how freedom will work. Provide an alternative and leave it at that. The Democrats perfected this during the last couple of elections and the results showed. Yet, go to any liberty website and you will see what appears to be a failure to notice this fact, my own included.

2. Forget Ideology – It's time to focus on what works. Ideology for the sake of ideology seldom has all the answers. What works is often what holds the answers. On top of that, what works doesn't always work forever because of the universal law of constant change (a law freedom lovers seem to be forgetting about).

This doesn't mean freedom is not a good cause. I think it's safe to say that we can determine freedom has been most beneficial to humankind. Freedom works. But its context in relation to the issue is something that needs to be addressed all of the time. Freedom as a whole works, but how it is applied doesn’t always work if applied as nothing more than an ideological concept.

And when we find that something doesn't work or no longer works (and everything will eventually no longer work according to that pesky universal law of constant change I mentioned earlier), we need to be willing to get rid of it and try something new. We need to be willing to experiment as well.

3. Culture – It's time to try something other than politics. Nothing truly seems to take hold until it is embedded in the culture. Culture influences politics, not the other way around.
We can talk about policy all we want. It won't do shit until a cultural setting has come to accept it. One way this can be done is through focusing on self-empowerment. And empowerment exists in more ways than just politically.

You can find it philosophically, spiritually, technologically, athletically, sociologically, psychologically, organizationally, artistically, personally, or any other of the multitude of disciplines that empowerment spans. That's culture. Focusing on one part of culture – politics – isn't going to cut it.

And when we enhance empowerment, we enhance freedom, because empowerment cannot happen without freedom. The more self-empowerment we develop in society, the more freedom we develop. That spills over politically.

Empowerment needs to be the new cornerstone of freedom.

4. Increased Consciousness – This mostly goes out to all the Net addicts like myself who spend considerable amounts of time on blogs and forums promoting liberty.

Live by example.

We can preach freedom all we want but if we're not out actually living it, we're probably not doing a good job of making it happen. By simply living freedom, we expand the consciousness of it. We expand awareness by example. We bring it into reality more. Being out there living it is the same thing as making it happen. The more you live it, the more it exists. The more it develops. And, the more others experience it for themselves. Then, the more actual results we have.

Live like you're free.

5. Neutrality instead of Noninterventionism - Noninterventionism got a bad rap in this last election cycle. The word conjures up images/meanings that could mean many things, to include Isolationism, all of which the opposition played off on to a great deal of success.

Recommendation: Stick to Neutrality. It's the same thing but a tighter description that cannot be manipulated because the Swiss have successfully modeled it as their foreign policy which is extremley well-known throughout the world.

Did I mention it was successful? Did I mention the Swiss provide a working example of Neutrality's success? Did I mention it was well-known throughout the world?

6. Focus on Choice - People like choice, and rightfully so because the more choice you have, the more freedom you have. There is a direct correlation between the two. Federalism is a way for choice to be expanded and provided, including opposing choices existing simultaniously.

Naturally, however, this should not deal with basic, human rights.

Otherwise, federalism is a bedrock of choice. It should always be considered a tool for such.

---------------------------------------------------------

Those are my suggestions. Will they work? Who the hell knows. Using #2 as an example, let's give them a whirl and see what happens.

I plan to follow my own advice and, effective immediately, I am going to disconnect for a while and work on #4. Hell, I might not even come back.

Incidentally, I also started work on #3 over a year ago (foresight?) but never got farther than a single post with a list of stuff. At the very least, you can see a glimpse of an example of what I am talking about when I mention culture, if anyone cares to see it.

It’s a Free Country, but, like I said earlier, I now realize that depends on to what degree. I think it's time to increase the degree, or flat out ignore the prevailing degree and make our own degrees.

Perhaps by doing both we will accomplish both.

Either way will require a new game plan.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Song for You

For those of you who chose to vote for freedom as a whole instead of just parts of it, or even those who refrained from voting for the same reason, this song's for you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKYrppBQDq0&feature=related

Perhaps while we wait, we could live as if we have the freedom that we want. After all, we do. The only person stopping you from having that freedom is you. Live by example.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Joe-the-Plumber and the 2008 Election

Since I've gone so long without posting, let me set a record and make 3 posts in one day, even if one of them is nothing but a picture. (",)

I have yet to say anything about recent events of the 2008 Presidential election in the U.S. So, before it is all said-and-done in just a few days, I might as well throw my pocket change in.

Almost above and beyond all, I gotta say something about all of this "Joe-the-Plumber" nonsense, because I think both of the two, major candidates are not being very smart about it.

First and foremost, Obama's plan to raise taxes on a certain class of people just because they make the amount of income that puts them in that class is nothing short of class warfare. It is also immoral and completely unfair.

Just because someone is successful does not mean they are obligated to pay a higher percentage for society as their fellow countrymen. Again, that is nothing short of class warfare and it is beyond me why anyone would want to elect a President that supports creating more class warfare than what we already have.

McCain is no better. At least Obama has an ideological point he is driving toward, even if it is a divisive and non-logical point. McCain, on the other hand, is being just plain offensive because he apparently thinks the American people are stupid (and they are, if they fall for it).

McCain is portraying Joe-the-Plumber as an ordinary person that the majority of Americans - the middle class - can relate to. Yes, Joe-the-Plumber talks like a regular person without fancy words. Yes, Joe-the-Plumber wears t-shirts and jeans. Yes, Joe-the-Plumber is a plumber.

But, here is a newsflash: If you make $250,000 or more per year (including before taxes), you sure as Hell are not in the middle class, regardless of how often you wear t-shirts and jeans!

McCain's attempt to get the public to emotionally connect themselves to someone like Joe-the-Plumber is exactly that - emotion - emotional rhetoric, and it is distasteful for a Presidential candidate to attempt lulling the American people into such poor reasoning.

Above, I said Joe-the-Plumber was almost above and beyond all that I wanted to mention. Joe-the-Plumber just about says it all when it comes to our front-runners, but there is one other thing.

If you are a voter in America, in a few days you have the opportunity to vote for someone who will not allow any group of individuals to force any other group of individuals to live the way the former wants them to live, unless it is only at the state or local level where the latter individuals are free to leave or to go. That is a free country.

Or, you can vote for someone who will allow a particular group of individuals to force another group of individuals to live the way the former wants them to live, whether it's socially, economically, or both, at the national level. This is not an example of a free country.

The Democratic and Republican front runners can both be compared to the second example I gave you.

I hope you don't let freedom go down the drain like a turd that we will need to call a plumber to come unclog.

Our Leader


Sorry for the hold-up on this post, if there are any readers left here. My brain has been in all kinds of places lately, with the elections going on and all.
As promised, this is part two of my last post (last real post), concerning the leadership aspect of The Most Powerful Man in the World.
The U.S. has no leader.
At least, that is the way the Republic was originally designed. Today, it seems to be a vastly different story, mostly because the U.S. population seems to believe the President is a position of leadership.
It is not.
It is a position of an executive, with specific duties, limitations, and guidance.
The duties are as follows: Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Navy, and Militia (there still is no authority for command over the Air Force or Coast Guard, unknown to most people); making treaties (with Senate consent); picking federal judges, military officers, public ministers (religious ministry? I don't know. I hope not), public consuls, and ambassadors; granting reprieves and pardons; filling up vacancies within the Senate (to expire at the following term); provide to Congress a state of the union as well as recommendations; receive ambassadors and consuls from other places; convene both Houses in case of disagreement or adjourn them; and give final approval to any piece of legislation that is generated in Congress.
The limitations: Nothing except the above can be done (Amendment X).
The Guidance: The Constitution.
Therefore, the President is not the leader of America. America is suppose to be secured by three branches of government composed of many, many people, of which The People themselves elect some of.
Of course, this leaves open the question as to whether or not the government could be considered a "ruler" or "leader" still, regardless of the fact that it is comprised of many people. But, that is another topic.
My point here is that one person - the President - is not the leader of the U.S.
We in the U.S. have seemed to forgotten this, usually by assuming he or she will right all of our wrongs and fix all of our problems, particularly during election years.
The President cannot fix all of our woes. Yet, The People so desperately want a savior, instead of saving themselves, that we have effectively allowed the President much more power than what is allowed, such as unconstitutional wiretapping capabilities, unconstiutional manipulation of wars without congressional approval, attempts to create unconstitutional amendments to the Constitution, and the list goes on, despite the fact that the President has never been able to fix all of our woes even with increased power that the President should not have in the first place.
Our two most popular Presidential candidates for 2008 think they can even manipulate our economy and we'll probably be stupid enough to allow them to do it.
Even our own Vice President and one of the VP candidates claims he has/she should have the power to do as he/she pleases, even though the VP is actually regulated to one job and one job only, to be a tie-breaker for Congress.
It's only a free country if We The People remain neither leaders nor followers and expect the same of our federal government, which should be used as nothing more than a means to help us help ourselves.




Happy Halloween

Better late than never...courtesy of my cuz Donee (or someone my cousin knows, not sure which):





Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Most Powerful Man in the World


You might have guessed it. The title of this post is a commonly heard phrase which means the President of the United States of America. And if you did guess it, that is the problem I want to discuss here...the fact that such a phrase is so common and well-known.

Yes, I see it as a problem. We have equated the position of President as being a position so powerful that whoever is granted such a position is deemed the most powerful person on the planet.

Granted, the U.S. has one of the strongest militaries, if not THE strongest military in the world and the President is Commander-in-Chief of that military. So, naturally, it is assumed that the leader of a country which has such strength would be the strongest leader in the world, right?

This is where I think the problem might be and I think it’s two-fold:

1. A lot of people assume the President of the U.S. is the leader of the nation (I have been guilty of this myself) and he/she is not.

2. Power was something of concern (and rightfully so) to the Founding Fathers of the U.S. and, as such, power was placed in check by the laws of the Constitution.

For purposes of length, I will address #1 in my next post. I will address #2 right now.

"Power corrupts; Absolute power corrupts absolutely" ~ Lord Acton. This is a very well known quote for a reason, because it often ends up being accurate. In writings of the Founding Fathers, they seem to have been aware of this.

Their writings also seem to indicate a concern of such power as one of the reasons, if not THE reason why they divided the federal government of the U.S. into three branches, with each branch being able to check the other. That’s not even counting term limits on two of the three and the granting of positions in those branches being done by someone else, including by The People themselves.

Absolute power, if power at all, has no place in a free country, except with that of the individual. The more powerful those that run the government become, the less powerful we The People become. I think we need to remember this the next time we spout off that the President is the most powerful man/woman in the world.

Perhaps the reason the President is the most powerful man in the world is because we The People are the ones giving him that power by allowing him to break free of the constraints that are suppose to be placed on him by the Constitution. Perhaps it’s time the President of the U.S. once again begin acting within those confines and doing the duties charged to him by those confines – and only those duties, thereby keeping his power in check.

Another quote I like is one you can find right on the front page of this blog:

"You can have no dominion greater or less than that over yourself" ~ Leonardo da Vinci


Sunday, August 31, 2008

...You Might be a Freedom Lover

If you enjoy running butt naked down a beach...you might be a freedom lover.

If your favorite part of the movie Braveheart was when William Wallace was cut open, yelling out the word FREEDOM before the townsfolk...you might be a freedom lover.

If you feel a special affinity to animals such as eagles, porcupines, or wolves...you might be a freedom lover.

If your chest warms when you hear the song Free Bird by Lynard Skynard...you might be a freedom lover.

If you enjoy being the first one off the lift after a night of fresh powder at the slopes...you might be a freedom lover.

If you think force should only be used in a defensive capacity...you might be a freedom lover.

If you think Neo did the right thing by taking the red pill in the movie The Matrix...you might be a freedom lover.

If you think it would have been alright if he later wished he had taken the blue pill instead...you might be a freedom lover.

If you like to do things your way but don't expect everyone else to have to do the same...you might be a freedom lover.

If you think it's okay for everyone else to do things their way so long as they don't expect you to do the same...you might be a freedom lover.

If you think we should stop acting as if we know all the answers when we don't even know all the questions, much less all the answers...you might be a freedom lover.

If you think freedom is about choice...you might be a freedom lover.

If you think it's a free country, or at least that it should be...you might be a freedom lover.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Buying America



There's an interesting website called Behind the Buyouts that claims foreign governments are teaming up with powerful, private buyout firms to buy significant stakes in major American companies who are responsible for American defense and energy.

I will admit that I have not taken the time to read through this website. However, I have heard of similar actions before (remember the port buyout controversy of Bush?) and I can say that such a thing can be of concern, mostly because of the ambiguity of it all.
For example, we are in an age of globalization and free markets, which on one hand can be a good thing. Globalization allows individuals to no longer be dependent on a nation. Of course, globalization also has a habit of simultaneously making a nation dependent on the world.
Without trying to make this a post about globalization, let me say that we often promote globalization, for right or wrong (right and wrong, in my opinion), and that any foreign entity buying up American companies is not something we should be concerned with, just as there are plenty of American companies doing the same thing in other nations. That's the free market, gone global.
On the other hand, it seems a bit snarky if we are talking about foreign governments, not just foreign companies, that are involved in buying out American companies, particularly when we are talking about industries involving defense and energy.
If such a thing is actually occurring, should the American people have a right to know that foreign governments are involved in the American buyouts that foreign companies are conducting?
I would say yes. After all, we are not talking about Budweiser that was recently sold to a foreign company, because that company's government was not a partner of the sale and beer is not the same thing as national defense and energy.
Should such sales even be allowed? I would have to say no, if the company is involved in something that could affect national security. I'm all for little government involvement in private business, but when we are talking about private business that involves products of national security, we need to at least take a second look, I think. After all, we do not see such government involvement in sales of companies such as Budweiser, yet they might exist in products dealing with national security? That seems like more than coincidence to me.
If such sales are taking place, with foreign government involvement, it might be beneficial to be very leery. After all, I once heard someone say that hostile nations need not attack us to destroy us. All they have to do is buy us out. Once they own us, they can destroy us at will.
If there was ever a case for buying American, this would be it.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Another Quote I like

"If you want to be free, there is but one way; it is to guarantee an equally full measure of liberty to all your neighbors. There is no other." ~ Carl Shurz

What I think is important to remember here are two things:

1. Guaranteeing liberty for your neighbor means not forcing something other than liberty on your neighbor and it also means not forcing liberty itself on your neighbor. It means using no force against your neighbor, period, except in defense.

2. When all your neighbors exercise the same freedom you have, it does not mean they will choose the same way of life or even the same form of government as you.

...And that's okay.

Anything else is not liberty or freedom.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

The 2008 Parade of Nations


If there is one thing I loved about the 2008 Olympic ceremony, it was the Parade of Nations. For those who are unfamiliar, the Parade of Nations is when each and every nation participating in the Olympics enters the arena with each of its athletes and "parades" around the arena.

Each group of athletes is dressed in clothing that often represents the culture of that nation. And each group puts forth the flag of their nation in the very front of their group.

Before the parade takes place, a "show" is provided by the host country and this year's was awesome. China did a fantastic job of creating some effects like no other Olympics before with lots of visualization and symbolism.

But, the Parade of Nations, in my opinion, takes the cake.

Here we live in a world where there is political conflict, physical conflict, and ideological conflict everyday and, in fact, all of which is taking place as the Parade of Nations itself takes place. Yet, despite any of the conflict going on in the world among nations, the Parade of Nations at the Olympics goes on with peaceful co-existence, among all nations present.

All politics were cast aside. All conflicts cast aside. Only nations represented by seemingly proud citizens existed. And though some received more applause then others, none were booed. Each were treated with the same basic level of respect. Each were equal in that they represented a different culture and a different preference of choice for different parts of the same world.

There was a nation that did not allow woman to participate. There was a nation that provided health care for its citizens. There was a nation that only allowed woman who were related to those who ran the nation. There was a nation that did not allow gun ownership by its citizens. There was a nation that did allow gun ownership by its citizens.

There was a nation linked to terrorism. There was a nation that believed in free speech. There was a nation that did not believe in free speech. There was a nation that taxed it's citizens very heavily. There was a nation that did not tax it's citizens very heavily. There was a nation ruled by a queen. There was a nation ruled by a democracy. There was a nation ruled by a republic. There was a nation ruled by a military dictatorship.

...And much more.

Yet, they were all there at the same time, simultaneously, in harmony, representing the multitudes of differences we have around the world and the multitudes of choices we make, however good or bad any of us thinks those choices are.

They - the Parade of Nations - displayed an existence of multiple differences and how all of those differences can exist at once.

Because of this, the Parade of Nations, for all its intents and purposes, is an example of freedom. If it were a country, it would be a free country.



Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Win for Internet Freedom


A big win took place for internet freedom yesterday that you can read all about here.

Apparently, Comcast was sending fake signals during file-sharing that gave the appearance of certain files being unable to be shared. Some smart guy figured this out, brought it to light, and Comcast denied it (of course). The FCC conducted an investigation and low-and-behold, found out that Comcast was full of shit (big surprise).

Chairman Martin of the FCC compared this deception of Comcast to that of the Postal Service opening up your mail, deciding what they did and didn't want to deliver, and then returning that which they decided not to deliver back to you stamped "return to sender; address unknown".

Just because the Post Office controls the mail system, do they have the right to do such a thing? I might argue that they do not, simply because the Postal Service is owned by everyone, paid for through taxation, whereas Comcast is a private business with the right to do as they please.

However, what Comcast was choosing to do affected more than their business. Their actions affected the space known as the Internet and no single entity owns the Internet.

It is a space owned by whomever owns the countless and limitless number of servers throughout the world that keep the Internet running and each of those owners only owns those servers that are theirs, any of which can easily be replaced by the existence of a new server brought online by anyone else in the world at any time, thereby keeping the Internet free of ownership by any one entity. It is essentially a free "land" and it should remain that way.

Telecom companies might be the gatekeeper and, as such, should be free to decide how much it costs to get through the gate and even whether or not they want to provide access to the gate. But, once they choose to provide access to the gate and the price has been paid to enter, what exists beyond that gate is not theirs to manipulate.

Keeping that which is beyond the gate non-manipulated is the basis for Net Neutrality and it is the bases of freedom. I hope we keep it that way.

Now if we could just get the FCC to loosen their grip on so much of the radio wave spectrum, we'd be all set! But that's another battle to come.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Superheroes and Government

With all of the superhero movies that have been in our theaters for the last few years, this post is way overdue.

There's a concept about superheroes that directly relates to government which many people do not realize.

For the most part, what I am about to discuss deals with superheroes who are of the Golden Era, heroic from start to finish, as opposed to the modern day anti-hero such as The Punisher and Wolverine, who use villainous means to heroic ends. However, anti-heroes have their place in this post as well.

In general, the concept I would like to discuss here is best used with a superhero like Ol' Big Blue - Superman. He is the best example because of the immense power that he wields and his willingness to help us all.

Superman is easily one of the most powerful superheroes in the comics world. He is nearly a demi-god. We are talking about a person who can move planets out of orbit if he tries hard enough, can survive nuclear explosions without so much as a scratch, can fly faster than the speed of light, and can survive the rigors of space for darn near an indefinite amount of time. Add to that the fact that his only weakness is a radiating rock from the other side of the universe!

Superman is extremely powerful. To top it off, he has dedicated himself to the protection of mankind. He fights evil whenever and wherever. He is a savior in many ways and has the immense power and capability to do it.

And yet, wars continue. Crime continues. Disease continues. Starvation continues. Man-made and natural disasters continue. Injustice continues. Evil continues.

Keep in mind all of the power that Superman has. What I listed above is just a portion of what he is capable of doing! With that much immense power at his disposal, it should be easy to conceive that Superman would be capable of putting an end to every war, all crime, all disease, all starvation, every disaster, every injustice, and all evil in the world.

He could be, literally, the world's saviour and float high above the planet as the Earth's guardian, ready to respond, preventing every single bad thing that ever happens. Eventually, he would prevent bad things from happening from nothing more than the fear of his response.

So then ask yourself...why doesn't he?

Aside from the rational, real-world reason that the writers of his stories would have nothing left to write, why doesn't Superman simply force the world to be 100% good? He has the power to do so, yet he does not do it.

Because if Superman prevented all evil from occurring, we would never learn to prevent it ourselves.

Superheroes, particularly those with the kind of massive power that Superman has, are there to give us (mankind) a helping hand, to help us help ourselves, not to hold our hands and prevent every bad thing from occurring under their watchful eye.

I liken this to government.

Those who want to use government as the solution to every problem are those who would see Superman solve every problem for us and completely rid the world of everything that is bad, doing it all for us.

Wouldn't that be a good thing, they might ask? Why allow bad things to continue? If there exists an entity, whether it's Superman or government, that's capable of righting all of our wrongs, why not?

My answer would be that what is right and wrong is not the same for everyone. This is why most solutions should remain at a more local or state level and not force everyone at the national level to be subjected to one standard for every solution.

I would also say that I think government should be one of our tools in the toolbox - a way to help us help ourselves - not the end-all solution to all problems.

I might also add that although government is powerful, it's no Superman. When we expect government to be like Superman, it turns out to be more like The Punisher or Wolverine (mentioned above), or worse.

Yes, it would be nice if all wrongs were righted.

Instead of waiting for a savior, perhaps WE should get to work.

If we expect government to solve all of our problems at the national level, then government becomes nothing more than our master, just as Superman would be if he were to solve all of our problems for us.

Thankfully, Superman does not want to be our master.

Government, on the other hand, always does.










Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day

Happy Birthday America! May you always remember that being independent means being free. May you always remain a free country.

















Friday, May 16, 2008

Nudging

There's a new book in town called Nudge. It's based on improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness...by way of someone else's decisions and not your own. The premise of this book is a sort of "libertarian paternalism" (huh?).

According to authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, you - the average person, if that is what you are - are incapable of making good choices and, therefore, some elite group of folks who are far smarter than you should technocratically employ the best choice for you, hence the "paternalism" aspect of this whole thing.

Where the so-called libertarianism comes into play is that these choices, be they personal, social, financial, etc (an endless list, really), are structured in a way that you are free to choose against them.

You might want to pay attention (which is exactly how "nudging" would fail to work) because this concept is getting big. A lot of people from many different walks of life are taking notice of it, from behavioral economics (where it originated from) to presidential politics.

That's right, at least one presidential candidate - Barrack Obama - is very much on board with "nudging" because the authors of Nudge are also informal advisers to Obama himself! If Obama becomes President, we might have some "nudging" coming our way.

Clinton seems more disposed to mandates (for example, her mandated health care plan vs. Obama's non-mandated health care plan [unless you are unfortunate enough to be a business owner]). McCain's policies seem less mandating, unless you are unfortunate enough to live in another country where McCain's America will reshape it as he sees fit.

Back to the topic at hand, what is nudging, specifically? Well, nudging is about "steering" or "guiding" someone to make a specific choice, usually on a subconscious level, without forcing them to make that choice.

It deals with things like automatically enrolling an employee in a 401K with the option to disenroll. Studies show that if someone is not enrolled with the option to enroll, very few people actually choose to enroll, whereas very few people choose to disenroll if they are automatically enrolled to begin with.

Another example is putting healthy food in a more prominent view at a cafeteria compared to deserts, so that someone is more likely to choose the healthy food instead of unhealthy food. Or, narrowing the lines on a street to be closer together in an area that is potentially dangerous such as a curve, so as to give the appearance of moving faster which causes the brain to think you need to slow down.

This concept is paradoxically intriguing, to say the least.

For example, how can anyone support freedom and also support elitists subconsciously nudging you towards choices they think is best, which is nearly the same thing as subliminal brainwashing?

Yet, how can anyone support freedom and be against something that always allows for the freedom to choose anything else, unlike subliminal brainwashing (and mandates, for that matter)?

Top that off with the fact that several of these "nudges" are nudges that could simply improve safety (the slowing down around the curve, for example), which is difficult to argue as a bad thing, yet many of such nudges could be questionable because they deal with people's finances (the 401K, for example).

Unparadoxically, the questions that I would like to see considered are these:

Doesn't making so-called "wrong" choices offer us the ability to learn how to make "good" choices more often? If we are nudged in a manner that lessons the chance of us making wrong choices, will it take us longer to learn the ability to make good choices for ourselves - the good choices our elitists have supposedly already learned? Will we learn at all?

And, in a world where we are already drowning in persuasion, whether by political ideologies, parties, platforms, stump speeches, big media pundits, religion, philosophies, and commercial marketing all trying to shape our opinions and choices, do we really need any more "nudging"?

One thing could be certain: All of this might be a perfect example for why the practice of independent thinking, free of any persuasion except freedom itself, would be beneficial to anybody.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Just Say No

Hillary, Obama, and McCain were not the only presidential contenders who were able to ask General Petraeus questions about Iraq.

Congressman Ron Paul, who is still in the race although he is sure to lose, was also able to ask questions.

In the end of Paul's long line of questions, he left only one to be answered by Petraeus:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWr5Wl-mev0

In terms of Petraeus's job, I would have to agree with his answer. In terms of his individual comprehension of the Constitution which he is sworn to uphold, I would disagree.

But was Paul really asking Patraeus the question to begin with? Or was he actually asking the question to the rest of us?


Friday, April 18, 2008

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Boycotting the Olympics

There's been a lot of talk lately about boycotting the opening ceremony of the upcoming Olympics in China. A lot of this pressure for boycotting is falling on President Bush, among other world leaders, who has recently indicated that he will still attend the opening ceremonies.

Presidential contenders Obama and Clinton stated a boycott should occur and I don't recall hearing anything from McCain yet.

I have two issues with this whole thing:

1. Do the Olympics need to be politicized? Aren't the problems we have in the world caused by politics? Wouldn't creating more politics to solve the problems created by politics be the same thing as drinking more alcohol to quit drinking alcohol?

2. Our President and potential Presidents seem to be sending mixed messages (except McCain, who has said nothing yet).

Senator Obama/Clinton: The oppression China has on Tibet and the genocide China sustains in Darfur are things America should not stand for, but taking out the oppressive regime and genocide caused by Saddam in Iraq was wrong.

President Bush: We can take out Saddam for the oppression and genocide that was taking place in Iraq, plus Saddam had WMD. But with China, who is itself oppressive and sustains genocide in Darfur all while possessing nuclear weapons, let's do nothing.

What are they thinking? Are they thinking at all?


Saturday, April 5, 2008

State Rights - Laboratories of Freedom

I hear a lot of different arguments for and against the issue known as State Rights.

A "no one size fits all" theory is the reason I most often hear to support state rights and I can't see a flaw in that. To assume that one kind of solution - one kind of ideology - one idea only will work for everyone across the nation at the federal level, no matter what the demographic, no matter what perspective, and no matter what external factors is probably folly.

This is where state rights can be useful. With each state government able to do things their own way, we can offer a dish of multiple delights that can appease more than just one group of people. Such a method enhances freedom.

The downside of this, say those who are against state rights, is that if a state is allowed to do things their way, would they not be able to do things that have come to be considered undesirable by most people under federal rule, such as slavery and/or dissolving individual rights?

To this I would say that, normally, such things could fester, if the states were allowed to do anything they wanted. But this is where those who are against state rights fail to take into account something that does away with that concern: The federal Constitution.

If states continued to follow the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, such as they are currently required to do by law, then why would we have to worry about states conducting themselves in unsavory ways such as bringing back slavery and/or dissolving individual rights?

States can still follow the federal Constitution and still be very different from one another (and the federal government) in several ways, offering a multitude of possibilities to more than one kind of perspective and circumstance - more freedom.

This is often known as "Laboratories of Democracy". I happen to call it "Laboratories of Freedom", since the results are not always democratic, nor do they have to be democratic in order to be considered laboratories of freedom. The mere fact that they can do things their way, even if an undemocratic way, make them laboratories of freedom. (The federal government itself is not democratic).

In fact, the Constitution encourages this and has written it into law, in the 10th Amendment - The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States....


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!


Politics = Personal Inadequacy?

I found the following quote posted on a blog:

"Politics, as I never tire of saying, is for social and emotional misfits, handicapped folk, those with a grudge. The purpose of politics is to help them overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power" ~ Auberon Waugh.

The blog I found this quote posted on is not relevant, mostly because the owner of the blog tends to throw a temper tantrum if you question anything he posts. Instead, I'm more interested in the quote itself, without even knowing (or caring) whom Auberon Waugh is.

I think this quote leans toward something else I've already mentioned on this blog about the existence of politics not really being necessary, if we could simply focus on freedom. More than that, I find this quote interesting because I think it brings up some curious points:

1. Do politics not affect people's lives? If they do, why should someone ignore that?

2. Politics typically champion a specific perspective, while telling all other perspectives they are wrong (with the exception of freedom, which does not do that). If that is due to the need to overcome a personal inadequacy, then isn't the pointing out of how some people do this and how wrong it is nothing more than an example of politics itself? Is it not also a reflection of the same personal inadequacy?

3. Am I trying to overcome a personal inadequacy, by pointing out the inadequacy of someone else who feels the need to point out others' inadequacies? Perhaps so!

Whatever the case, I think this perspective on politics is one that could be beneficial to ponder, for a more well-rounded, reasoned, and grounded approach to what so many of us are so infatuated with (politics).

Maybe the answer that develops from such thoughts could result in another way to do away with the need for politics, next to the use of freedom.


Update: Oct 2009 - This is the first post I've made on this blog since I left it sometime ago. For the record, I have no intention of doing this on a regular basis.

My intent here is the subject of this post. Since I have posted the quote at the top of this page, it has stuck in my mind since. As you can see from my response, I didn't agree with it, originally. Over time, however, the more this quote has been in my head, the more it has started to resonate...the more I have started to see its validity.

While I still think the guy I copied this quote from, off his blog, is a complete asshole who is very insecure whenever you question anything he says, I think I now firmly believe in the quote itself.

By simply observing the world of politics with the quote in mind, I have come to see that Mr. Waugh was spot on. The partisanship, the townhalls, the bumber stickers, the heated forums, the trash talking on media and talk radio...these things have all finally opened my eyes to seeing that the sum of politics is nothing more than a result of personal inferiority (and inadequacy, I think) in the pursuit of power and the failure to find it in oneself.

I can now even answer my own questions I posed, above.

1. Yes, but only because they allow themselves to be consumed by the same inadequacy.

2. Yes. Welcome to politics.

3. Yes. This blog is also an obvious example of the same.

Simple answers, I know, but all that is needed. Politics makes things far more complicated then they need to be.





Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pirates and Emperors

Pirates and emperors have been around for a long time and most people tend to think they are two different kinds of people. Yet, could the only difference between them be in the capacity of doing what they each do?

In a world where the U.S. tries to "promote freedom" abroad, does it do a very good job of promoting freedom when it aligns itself with criminals and acts as the very tyrants it is trying to help overthrow? Does political intervention where there is no direct threat to the U.S. actually promote freedom?

Take a look at this entertaining video that I picked up from Liberty Guys and perhaps give it some thought:



Monday, March 10, 2008

Drink Up!

Prescription Drugs found in Drinking Water

Particular notes of interest to me:

1. A sex hormone has been found in the drinking water of San Francisco, Ca, and SanFran just happens to have an especially large gay population.

2. A mood-stabilizing drug has been found in the water of Northern New Jersey, and many people in NJ just happen to be notoriously angry and hostile all of the time (so much for stabilizing).

Coincidence? One can only speculate, at this point.

Two things to think about:

1. The levels of these drugs we are all ingesting might be minuscule levels, but would that still produce no effect if those minuscule levels were being ingested for decades at a time?

2. Then again, could being subjected to anti-biotics for that long be a bad thing?


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Media wants us back in the Gutter

In this article from the L.A. Times, we hear about how Hillary Clinton gained her lead over Obama by going negative. In other words, the dreaded negative campaigning that most people hate (and rightfully so) is what gave her the comeback she needed, as if going negative is a positive thing.

This is one of the biggest problems we have with our traditional media, and it's not just the L.A. Times because this story is in every other major newspaper and on every major news network. This whole thing is a fabrication.

Case in point: One of the ways in which Clinton "went negative" was by running an ad in Texas that displayed a red phone, with the verbal questioning/assumption of "who would you rather have answering a national emergency at 3 a.m. in the morning?"

Since when did claiming that you would be the best person for the job constitute a negative ad?

Here's another one: Obama had an aide meet with the Canadian government, stating that Obama would do exactly the opposite of what he has been saying he would do in regards to NAFTA.

Since when did pointing out a simple fact become negative?

Someone needs to clarify what negative campaigning is and I'm ready to step up. Here goes: Negative campaigning is when you run commercials 24-hr a day that are intellectually dishonest, that take information about the other candidate and twist it in a way that distorts what the candidate did. It also involves continuously talking about what the other candidate is doing wrong and never talking about what you are doing right.

I don't think Hillary has gone negative and I think anyone with a brain can figure that out. Call me a conspiracy theorist if you want, but I think big media is hyping this because negative campaigning is dying out and they want to bring it back.

Negativity, after all, results in strong emotional responses, which is better for ratings. It's the reason why the majority of the news we see is bad instead of an equal amount of good and bad or even a majority good, even though there is just as much good news out there as there is bad.

I hope we are smart enough not to let the media drag us back into the gutter for the sake of their ratings.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008 (HR 5353) - Part II

So, after writing to my representative and sending the letter I posted in "Part I", I get this slack-jawed response from my representative:

"Thank you for contacting me to express your support for H.R. 5353, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts on this matter with me.

As you know, Congress is considering legislation that would prohibit broadband network operators from discriminating against various types of internet traffic and require providers to treat all internet sites equally.

This proposed regulation on broadband network operators is typically labeled "net neutrality" or "digital nondiscrimination." Two bills were introduced during the 109th Congress, one by Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), H.R. 5273, the Network Neutrality Act of 2006 and another by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), H.R. 5417, the Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act of 2006 that would legislate this type of internet regulation. H.R. 5417 was considered and approved in the House Judiciary Committee; however, it was not brought before the whole House for a vote. Rep. Markey recently introduced similar legislation in the 110th Congress, H.R. 5353, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008.

This legislation is currently being reviewed by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The internet has surpassed even the most ambitious expectations and is quickly becoming the paramount form of information delivery throughout the world. Broadband network providers have invested a significant amount of money to build the current high speed network we rely on today.

The government must not unnecessarily regulate the internet which would impede future development and investment in new broadband facilities. You can be sure that I will continue to monitor this important issue and will certainly keep your comments in mind should H.R. 5353 come before the House for a vote."

Now I know why I didn't vote for this schmuck. It's dipsticks like this that give representative democracy a bad name.

First, he attempts to lengthen his response with fluff about the the bill, which is nothing more than the same information I already sent to him, apparently attempting to appear as though he is knowledgable on the subject.

Then he injects verbiage that clearly indicates he sides with the network providers on the matter, without actually having balls enough to flat out say he does, and he does it in a way that twists my request to be one for him to stop the government from preventing network providers' attempt to regulate the Internet.

It's no wonder why so few people bother to write their representative.

At any rate, my response was as follows:

"I have seen no attempt from government to regulate the Internet, as you have stated is happening. I have only seen your fellow representatives attempt to keep the Internet open and free through H.R. 5353.

Those attempting to regulate the Internet are the broadband network providers, those whom "have invested a significant amount of money to build the current high speed network we rely on today", as you have reminded me.

Let me remind you that those investments and a profit thereafter are already being returned to the providers in enormous amounts of money from their standard charges. If you are concerned about the providers' ability to manipulate their investments as they see fit (and there is nothing wrong with that) allowing them the freedom to alter their charges to customers of their service - the end user - should continue.

But when providers manipulate the Internet and websites themselves, that is just wrong. The Internet is a location of expanded free speech, commerce, individual investments, and the dissemination of knowledge, most of which is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, something which you are sworn to uphold (I hope), regardless of how much was invested."


Friday, February 29, 2008

Marines Banned from Berkley, CA

As many know by now, the city council in Berkley, California has made a decision to ban Marine recruiters and everyone is up-in-arms about it (pun intended).

Of course, this has caused a major stir among citizens, veterans groups, and even some members of the federal government who have threatened to withhold federal money to the city! Having been threatened by the feds, the city government of Berkley is now changing their tune.

The prevailing reasoning for disagreement with the local government of Berkley is that the Marines have been an organization who have ensured that Berkley (and the rest of the country) have the kind of freedom that we have, which I readily agree with, and so banning the Marines from the area is considered disgraceful, especially during a time of war.

However, if the rest of the country is going to use freedom as the excuse for dictating the kinds of choices a local government should be making, perhaps the following two questions should be given some thought:

1. What is the point of having the freedom that the Marines ensure if the use of such freedom is frowned upon?

2. If we expect Berkley not to use the freedom that the Marines have ensured, are the Marines really ensuring them with any freedom at all?




Got Non-Interventionism?

Sadly, no.

As he has done time and again during the current 2008 Presidential Primary, Dr./Rep. Ron Paul has done an outstanding job of pointing out how the U.S.'s foreign interventionist policies are disastrous. You can watch one of those times right here.

Unfortunately, this common sense observation has fallen on deaf ears, since his primary results are now very lacking.

Nevertheless, this matter continues to stand out loud and clear and we see a brand new example of it in Serbia, where the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade was recently torched for the U.S. backing Kosovo's declared independence.

Why did such a backing need to be done? Why couldn't Kosovo declare their independence and the U.S. simply make no comment on the matter, other than how it hopes relations and possible trade with Kosovo can develop, no matter what political format Kosovo chooses? Furthermore, why do we need a piece of American ownership (otherwise known as an embassy) on Serbia's land?

And we wonder why we get the kind of blowback that we get.

Now, on top of that, we have U.S. Navy warships en route to the East Mediterranean, in response to tensions between Lebanon and Syria. Why is their political conflict the U.S.'s business when there is no direct effect to the U.S. and only possibly an indirect effect that can easily be repelled by the most powerful national defense in the world, as opposed to a national offense that simply creates more hostility toward the U.S. and undermines freedom and the example of freedom that the U.S. should be setting?

The U.S. government even had the gall to call such a movement of the Navy "a clear message for the need for stability".

Sending warships is a way to convey a desire for stability?

And we wonder why we have terrorists.

Incidentally, no one here is calling for isolationism. I am talking about non-interventionism and as I have already discussed, there is a difference.

I hope that we can one day discover that a foreign non-interventionist policy is far more consistent with freedom and the example a free country should be setting.

Wisdom

"To do is to be." ~ Nietzsche

"To be is to do." ~ Kant

"Do be do be do." ~ Sinatra

Wisdom is in the eye of the beholder.


Monday, February 25, 2008

What They have Learned

I think our 2008 Presidential candidates, thus far, have learned some very valuable lessons. Here's some of what I think they are, in no particular order:

Richardson - Having so much experience means that you are part of the problem.

Clinton - Having so much experience means that you are part of the problem.

Dodd - The mainstream counts.

Hunter - The mainstream counts.

Tommy Thompson - The mainstream counts.

Gravel - You can't anger people into voting for you.

Giuliani - You can't scare people into voting for you.

Kucinnich - Socialism is not popular.

Paul - Libertarianism is not popular.

Edwards - A one-issue candidate is not popular.

Huckabee - Humor will only get you so far.

Romney - Money will only get you so far.

Fred Thomspon - You have to act like you actually want to be President.

Bidon - Trash talking at the wrong time will get you trashed.

Gilgrist - You have to be in it to win it.

Obama - Being articulate and handsome has tremendous benefits.

McCain - Sympathy for great hardships you have endured will get you votes.



Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008 (HR 5353)

Recently, the House moved to pass a bipartisan bill that would preserve Internet freedom - Freedom of Speech. You can find out all about it here.

Here, you will also find the opportunity to send a canned message to your local representative that gives your support to this bill and requests the same from your representative. The system selects your representative based on the address information you supply.

You can edit the message how you see fit. Below is how I edited mine. Feel free to copy it in its entirety if you wish or alter it any way that you want:

"As your constituent, I request you co-sponsor the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008 (HR 5353).

This important, bipartisan legislation protects the Constitution's First Amendment of Free Speech.

Phone and cable companies are businesses and, as such, have a right to conduct their business in the manner they choose. However, they are not businesses that sell trinkets and everyday merchandise.

They are businesses that happen to be responsible for the access to something much greater than themselves, by their own choice. They have been entrusted with an unprecedented bastion of free speech.

The Internet is not just a means of communication. It is a location. It is a place where tens of millions of Americans make a living and provide for their families. It is a place where they grow the size and scope of knowledge and expand that knowledge's distribution. It is a place where they stand and speak aloud not only in the public square, but now on the global square. It is a place where they trade and participate in commerce. It is a place where they gain more control over their own lives.

Regulating the ebb and flow of access to such freedom will destroy that very freedom. We cannot, and will not, allow so very few who are already making a huge profit on such a privilege to begin dictating and controlling the outcome of that privilege and freedom, all for the sake of more profit.

Personal profit at the expense of destroying a level of freedom unheard of and unable to be comprehended by civilization until recent years is nothing short of criminal, particularly when reasoned against the First Amendment of our Constitution.

Please recognize the law - the First Amendment - and stand up for our freedom. Join Reps. Markey and Pickering in support of this effort to maintain our rights."

Sunday, February 3, 2008

What the Free Dictionary Says

Here’s what The Free Dictionary has to say about the term "It’s a Free Country":

“Something that you say which means that you have the right to do something even if someone else has criticized you for it. ‘I'll shout if I want to - it's a free country!’”

Well, I wouldn’t say that is the extent of it, but such a perspective certainly is a great start to the basic concept of what it means when you say "It's a Free Country".

It's a free country because we can live by whatever perspective we want to (or at least it should be like that), so long as it doesn't cause harm to others.


Friday, February 1, 2008

Critique of the Reagan Library Republican Debate

I watched the Republican Presidential Primary Debate at the Reagan Library on Jan 30th and I can say, without a doubt, that I think it was the most pathetic and disgraceful debate I have seen yet.

My critique:

1. First and foremost, was this a Republican debate or was this the McCain/Romney debate? The majority of questions, focus, and time - a vast majority - was spent on McCain and Romney. The other two candidates, Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee, received very little attention.

Anderson Cooper even went as far as to skip over Ron Paul on numerous questions, as well as cut Ron Paul's responses off on multiple occasions after Paul merely uttered a few words, only to move back to McCain or Romney for lengthy amounts of their opinions.

Cooper even flat-out lied to Ron Paul by stating he would come back to Paul in order to let him finish what he was saying, which he never did. He tried to do the same thing to Huckabee. Is this the kind of thing we want from our media, deciding for us who we should pay attention too? Is that what it should be like in a Free Country?

An honest debate would provide equal time and amount of questions to ALL candidates. What CNN did in this debate is nothing short of steering the influence of voters by giving more time to some candidates and not others.

It's time we stop letting mainstream media make the kinds of choices that influence We the People and it's time we start holding them accountable when they try such a disgraceful attempt. We can do that by turning off mainstream media and turning independent media on more. Make the ratings drop. We have the power to do this.

2. Not only were we subjected to who CNN thought should be the focus of the debate (McCain/Romney), we also had to witness McCain and Romney snipe, argue, and pick at each other with the kind of arguementive immaturity we see on an episode of Jerry Springer or Bill O' Riley. It was the ultimate battle of "you said, no I said, no you said, how do you know what I said, waa-waa-waa". It was pathetic (I can't say that word enough).

This was a debate for who should be the President of the United States, not a Jerry Springer Show and not an episode of Bill O' Riley. What's even more pathetic is that such immaturity was virtually accepted by the mainstream media and the people at large. I even had someone who I work with tell me that they thought it was a good debate.

Have we dumbed ourselves down so much as to think presidential candidates fighting like 5-year-olds passes for a good debate? Pathetic. And until the most recent Democratic debate, Obama and Clinton are just as guilty.

After the finger pointing, cat scratching, verbal assaults, continuous jabs, and whining like little bitches was finally over and things began to cool down, the smartest thing said all evening was this:





Per candidate, here's a breakdown of what I saw:

A. Romney - A total clown, fully engaged in the most immature debate of "he said, she said" that I have ever seen (next to past Obama/Clinton conflicts). He denied several accusations, only to have his own past words which supported those accusations quoted back to him by McCain and even CNN.

The only good thing that Romney did during this debate was explain his mandated health care plan in a way that actually makes sense, which up until now I have always despised. When he was governor and mandated health care in his state, he did it because he found people in his state who could afford health care yet were going to the hospital without it because they knew the taxpayers would foot the bill. This actually makes sense to me, but I have to think about it more.

B. McCain - A total clown, fully engaged in the most immature debate of "he said, she said" that I have ever seen (next to past Obama/Clinton conflict). He denied several accusations, only to have his own past words which supported those accusations quoted back to him by Romney and even CNN (sound familiar?).

The only good thing from McCain is that he is the only Republican candidate who has really made any kind of concrete effort to address environmental concerns, which is a major issue to a large portion of the country. And, he is the only candidate, Republican or otherwise, who has addressed those concerns in a practical way, although he would do well to add Ron Paul's attention to property rights on his list of practicalities.

C. Ron Paul - It's hard to critique someone who barely had any time to talk. But, what little we did hear from Paul, I can say that the man has a serious problem with charisma. Many people think charisma is not important. I disagree. I think charisma gets the message accross 10-fold. Ron Paul's lack of charisma could be why his message is failing to reach so much of mainstream America.

I think he also dropped the ball in his closing statement, by choosing to focus the entire statement on whether or not we have sound money. He should have focused more on his support for freedom, the Constitution, and how Reagan supported the same.

On the other hand, everything that Ron Paul did manage to say was, by and large, the most intelligent, thought-provoking, and substance-filled information that was stated during the entire debate, as usual. Perhaps that is another reason why Paul is not "winning". In a dumbed down culture that seemingly reveres the antics found on Jerry Springer, anything thought-provoking might not catch on.

D. Huckabee - I'm not a Huckabee supporter because I don't agree with some of his policies, but I have to say that I didn't see a single thing wrong with what Huckabee did during the debate. I think he was practically flawless.

Of particular success was his calling out of CNN's Anderson Cooper for ignoring him (Ron Paul failed to do that for himself), by constantly reminding Cooper that he was also part of the debate. Huckabee also called out the immaturity of McCain and Romney by stating that he didn't "come here to umpire those two".

Most impressively, Huckabee articulated his belief that leaders who make decisions at the top should be aware of how those decisions affect people at the bottom, otherwise those leaders are not leaders at all. I think that was dead on.

Huckabee is also very charismatic; the only Republican candidate left who is (as opposed to McCain, whose personality resembles a wet, paper bag).





Friday, January 25, 2008

Economic Revitalization Plan

There's been a lot of talk and some action as of late about how to revitalize America's flailing economy. So far, the two solutions we have seen are President Bush's tax rebate checks and the calls for us to focus on investments instead of sending rebates.

The way I see it, tax rebates only focus on the short term and calls for improving investment opportunities only focuses on the long term. Neither one, by themselves, are worth the spit it takes to talk about them.

Why only focus on the short term and not the long term? Why only focus on the long term and not the short term? This isn't rocket science. Aren't those we elect supposed to be smart enough to figure that out?

The only good plan I've seen so far (from one of the few people actually proposing one) is one that has been shunned by entrenched media and the political elite...Ron Paul's Economic Revitalization Plan.

It addresses the short term AND the long term in a realistic and smart fashion. I would be willing to see Bush's tax rebates also added to the plan, but even without the rebates Ron Paul's plan is the most solid out there.

In an effort to get past mainstream media and get Paul's plan out for all to see, I'm posting it here. Note how it also includes legislation that has been proposed in Congress to get all of these things done:

Ron Paul, a 10-term Republican Congressman from Texas's 14th District, is currently the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee's Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade, and Technology. He has been named "Taxpayers' Best Friend" for 10 consecutive years by the National Taxpayers' Union. Ron Paul is also the author of several books on monetary policy and economics:

The Four-Point Plan:

1. Tax Reform:

Eliminate Taxes on Dividends and Savings -
The basis of capitalism is savings, and Americans who do so should be rewarded.

Pass HJ Res. 23 to encourage savings over consumption.

Repeal the Death Tax -Attacking small businesses and breaking up family farms smothers growth and kills jobs.

Pass H.R. 2734 to make the Bush tax cuts permanent.

Cut Taxes for Working Seniors - Grandmothers and grandfathers working to make ends meet should keep all the fruits of their labor.

Pass H.R. 191 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the inclusion in gross income of Social Security benefits.

Eliminate Taxes on Social Security Benefits - That money belongs to seniors, not the government. They paid into the system for a lifetime, and they should be free to spend every penny as they see fit.

Pass H.R. 192 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the 1993 increase in taxes on Social Security benefits.

Accelerate Depreciation on Investment - We need to help companies grow and create jobs.

Pass H.R. 4995 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to reduce corporate marginal income tax rates.

Eliminate Taxes on Capital Gains - Investment should be embraced and rewarded.

Pass H.J. Res 23 (The “Liberty Amendment”), proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to abolishing personal income, estate, and gift taxes and prohibiting the United States Government from engaging in business in competition with its citizens.

Eliminate Taxes on Tips - The single parents and working students who earn their income chiefly through tips deserve to keep all of their money. This tax on "estimated income" is unfair and should be ended.

Pass H.R. 3664 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide that tips shall not be subject to income or employment taxes.

Support the Mortgage Cancellation Relief Act - Working families who lost their homes should not be punished a second time with a big IRS bill.

Pass H.R. 1876 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to exclude from the gross income of individual taxpayers discharges of indebtedness attributable to certain forgiven residential mortgage obligations.

2. Spending Reform:

Reduce Overseas Military Commitments - Our bases and troops should be on our soil. It's time to stop subsidizing our trading partners in Europe, Japan and South Korea.

Freeze Non-Defense, Non-Entitlement Spending at Current Levels. I vote against all bloated, pork laden spending bills and will veto them as president.

3. Monetary Policy Reform:

Televise Federal Open Market Committee Meetings - An institution as powerful as the Federal Reserve deserves full public scrutiny. Expand Transparency and Accountability at the Federal Reserve.

Pass H.R. 2754 to require the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System to continue to make available to the public on a weekly basis information on the measure of the M3 monetary aggregate and its components.

Return Value to Our Money - Legalize gold and silver as a competing currency.

Level the long-term boom and bust business cycle by passing H.R. 4683, which would repeal provisions of the federal criminal code relating to issuing coins of gold, silver, or other metal for use as current money and making or possessing likenesses of such coins.

4. Regulatory Reform:

Repeal Sarbanes/Oxley - It has seriously wounded our capital markets and helped make the UK a financial center at our expense. Ending these misguided regulations would bring jobs flooding back to the United States.

Pass H.R. 1049 to reform Sarbanes-Oxley and reduce the burden it places on small businesses.

Repeal or Remove Costly and Unnecessary Federal Regulations - Neighbors know best how to help their neighbors. We need to make it easier for community banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions to better serve their communities and to help people in these communities get access to credit and capital.

Pass H.R. 1869 to enhance the ability of community banks to foster economic growth and serve their communities, boost small businesses, increase individual savings, and for other purposes.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Transpartisanship

I often promote decentralized federalism here at this blog, as being the best means to ensure freedom. The concept behind decentralized federalism is that the states act as "laboratories of democracy".

However, I'm not beyond observing reality. While I believe decentralized federalism is the way to go in order to ensure freedom, I also recognize that we are massively diverse in every state.

Sure, some states are more "blue" and others are more "red", for example. But the fact is that the majority of states are more like "purple" than anything. There is a strong possibility that as great of an idea as decentralized federalism is, it can be very hard to achieve its full potential.

From coast to coast, people of all persuasions exist in every state. That's a tough cookie to crack when the object is to have states act as different possibilities. When large numbers of people from all up and down the political spectrum exist in every state, it can be difficult for states to actually accomplish standing for one political persuasion or another.

Movements such as the Free State Project and Christian Exodus seemingly act more like invading armies than free people in assembly due to the fact that there are people of other persuasions already living in the place that such groups are trying to boost the majority in. And those people of other persuasions who are already living there have no intention of moving.

In the cause for freedom, I think it's good to have a Plan B. This is where Transpartisanship could be a strong help.

Transpartisanship is a line of thinking that's been around for a few decades but still isn't well known. What this system does is elevate conflict between ideologies to a higher level (transending) that creates solutions which includes all concerns involved. As it states in the link I provided above:


...transpartisanship acknowledges the validity of truths across a range of political perspectives and seeks to synthesize them into an inclusive, pragmatic container beyond typical political dualities.

Translation: Every perspective is part of the whole truth. No perspective holds a monopoly on the truth. And this is the EXACT same thing I have been saying about decentralized federalism!

Transpartisanship and decentralized federalism go hand-in-hand because they both create the same thing...Freedom. If everyone is able to obtain the perspective they want, that's freedom.

Instead of forcing everyone in the country to live under conservative policy, or to live under liberal policy, or to live under libertarian policy, etc, and creating continuous conflict between all as to which one is "best", transpartisanship promotes communication, not conflict, as to how all can work at the same time, not which one is best. Best of all, this can be used at the national level, not just at the state or local level.

Thus, unlike "compromise", transpartisanship does not degrade original perspectives. It does not create solutions without original perspectives represented and intact, unlike moderation that focuses on compromise where one side has to be degraded in order to allow the other more stability.

I see this as another means to establish freedom, one that can address the shortcomings and difficulty presented to decentralized federalism due to diverse populations.

Where decentralized federalism begins to falter, transpartisanship can keep the ball rolling toward freedom. Indeed, decentralized federalism itself can even be used as a transpartisan solution, which only illuminates the connection between the two even more.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Critique of the SC Democratic Debate

I try to watch the debates whenever I can, from any party. I just turn on the tv and see what I can see. Last night, I turned on the tv about halfway through the Dem debate in South Carolina and was appalled enough to turn it off about 20 minutes later.

Here's my critique:

1. First and foremost, where were the other two Democratic candidates who are still running for President? Only Clinton, Obama, and Edwards were in this debate. Missing were Kucinich and Gravel. What the hell kind of debate is that?

It's this kind of "steering of opinion" from the major media that I dislike. The media shapes voters' opinions in this manner, by only showing certain candidates, and that is just plain wrong.

This issue alone discredits the entire debate, right from the start.

2. All three candidates stated their disapproval with our justice system in that more black people are incarcerated than any other color.

Well, my question is what are all those black people doing to become incarcerated in the first place? That's the justice system's fault? I don't think so.

I think black people are capable of understanding that they are responsible for what they do. Assuming that they don't understand such a concept and trying to shift the blame to the justice system is nothing more than pure racism.

3. Clinton declared herself the best choice to "take on" the Republicans. Edwards took it a step further and declared himself the best choice to "take on" specific Republicans, like McCain.

What I want to know is why we need a candidate who is going to work "against" others in our government instead of working "with" them? Why would we want a candidate who's ready to fight other officials instead of trying to make something work? Are these adults or 5 year old kids we are electing? Did they not learn the lesson of playing nice with others?

Obama isn't any better. He talks a big game about bridging the divide, but his response to "taking on Republicans" was that he saw an opportunity to "bring more people in to the Democratic Party", whether independents or republicans.

So, bridging the divide means getting people to convert to your way of thinking? What happened to working with others while respecting their point of view? What happened to creating solutions based on everything that is brought to the table?

My vote is still with Ron Paul.

Ron Paul believes people should be responsible for the choices they make, no matter what color they are. He believes in hearing all opinions (a.k.a. - all candidates should be a part of the debates), which could be why he is one of the ones the mainstream media excludes from debates, like Fox did recently. And, Ron Paul never attempts to "fight" others in our government. He simply uses the Constitution as a sounding board.

If anything good was said in the debate, I missed it. The 20 minutes I saw was enough.