Alan Sanders interviews Congressman Barry Loudermilk

As part of my radio duties, I have had the honor and privilege of cultivating relationships with many leaders in my community, including several elected members of the Georgia State House and Senate as well as our District 11 U.S. Representative Barry Loudermilk from the state of Georgia. With the start of the 115th Congress, I will be interviewing Congressman Loudermilk every three weeks and will be sure to post his words on the Freedom Cocktail Facebook page, Twitter account and website. Hopefully this will give you an insight to how hard this Congress is working to undo the harm implemented by President Obama’s administration.

In the opening interview, we spent a great deal of time discussing the steps the Congress is taking in repealing the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. I think it’s important to note that the pieces of the ACA that work and are wanted by the American people will be incorporated in a new solution. Their first concern is to create more flexibility and freedom and to push healthcare back to being a state’s rights issue and not a bloated bureaucracy existing at the federal level.

Those Inglourious Wealthy Basterds

Polls are showing Bernie Sanders pulling ahead of Hillary Clinton. It’s something a lot of people didn’t think would happen. But I saw it coming months ago, before Clinton’s scandals. Clinton could be the best angel from here until the primary election but it won’t help. You see, she’s old news. She was in 2008 and she is now. The only reason anyone was considering her way back when for 2016 was because she was the only one with her hat in the ring; that is, until Sanders. And now Joe Biden is looking to hop in too. Which means, Clinton isn’t going to easily take the throne like she may have thought she would. Did anyone else notice that? All that build up to her announcement. It was like she lost unfairly in 2008 and felt the Oval Office is now due to her in 2016. That was my impression.

You see, she lost in 2008 due to a charismatic character, a promiser for Change. The media pandered to him. They pitched softball questions to him. It was so obvious, Saturday Night Live had a field day with it (and may I add, made that show funny for the first time in years). No one wanted to see him trip. Set aside the fact that he’s bi-racial. Plenty of people of color have run for president under the Democrat banner. But none were treated with kid-gloves as Barack Obama. Isn’t he so nice? I mean, seriously. Put aside politics. I think I’d get along with him on a personal level. And that’s how you get into office. Clinton doesn’t have that. But you know who does?

Bernie Sanders has held a government position for over thirty-years. He’s been at the federal level since 1991. He’s currently filling the role of United States Senator from Vermont. And I predict, he’ll deny Clinton the throne for the very same reason Obama took it. Character.

Sanders has been rather consistent with his views throughout his tenure in office. And I can respect that. That is rarely seen in politics. He brings social democracy to the table as a presidential candidate. He’s offering an economic and social model like that of Denmark and Sweden. He’s not shy at all to say we can learn from them. As if they’re lands of unicorns and leprechauns. This is Sanders’ version of Change. But is anyone fact checking to see if the Nordic Model does offer a better alternative?

This essay isn’t going to go after that model, show it’s faults, show that it won’t work here. It won’t even show it doesn’t really work there. You can google it out for numerous papers on the subject. I personally recommend seeking out Cato Institute papers and studies for a good analysis on why the Nordic Model isn’t a greener pasture. No, in this essay, I’ll tackle the one piece that trickles throughout the Democratic Party, even if the socialism aspect isn’t tagged on.

Wealth Redistribution.

It’s the theory that some people have more than they need and should be forced to let go of some and turned over to others who have less. This, the theory goes, would even the playing field. Everyone could then afford good housing, healthy foods, clean water, a secure living environment, proper healthcare and everything else that goes into a civilized society. Great, right? Why should some people live better lives than others? That’s practically feudalism. We have no kings and queens here.

So how do we do it? The Sanders Way, is to forcibly take it. And to use the power of government to do so. The Sanders model, the Nordic Model, is taking money from someone else, giving it to someone else deemed more responsible to spend it on a greater good, and setting it in motion.

Plato dreamed of a society ruled by the smartest people: The Philosopher Kings. These people would be the brightest, the best able to see what was good. Not subjectively, but objectively. They could see the true good, not an object thought to be good. For instance, a steak dinner is good but a Philosopher King would say that it’s not the steak that is good, it’s what the steak represents. It’s that abstract, ungraspable concept behind the steak. And then they go about philosophizing the properties of the steak that make it so.

But we don’t have Philosopher Kings. And you don’t want Philosopher Kings. Imagine someone else determining what is the best thing for you. Uh, wait. I almost gave away the conclusion. Let me divert a bit.

We have elected individuals with minimal qualifications to get those jobs. Speaking at the federal level, the President only need be at least thirty-five-years old, living in the United States for the past fourteen-years and be natively born. A United States Senator only needs to have achieved the age of thirty, a United States citizens for at least nine-years and living in the State represented at the time of the election. And a United States Representative in Congress need only have achieved the age of twenty-five, citizen of the United States for the past seven-years and a resident of the represented state at the time of the election. There are more qualification requirements on a McDonald’s application. Do you think the people who minimally fit the government job requirements have the ability to see the greatest good? Maybe. But look at how they spend the money already given to them. Now ask if more would be a good idea.

The overriding error, the glaring assumption in government mandated Wealth Redistribution is the expectation that State power is benevolent, made up of thinkers who are just and seekers of equal. The error, is in conceptualizing the State as a machine with a program uninhibited or encumbered by human emotion, politics, subjective reasoning and overall humanness. When you hear someone say government should force rich people to give up more money, what they’re really saying is some people should be allowed to forcibly take money from richer people and decide what other people should get it.

Sam Harris, an intellectual I greatly admire, imagined another option. A collective of billionaires, including Bill Gates and Warren Buffet (already engaging in such a collective), coming together to pool the money they have voluntarily chosen they didn’t need. And then, figure out where best to share it. This is a much better option than Wealth Redistribution run by the State.

First, it’s voluntary. All contributors are not being forced into a program that may or may not show results. This means if the money isn’t spent wisely (“wisely” defined by each contributor), they may withdraw. And if it succeeds, they may choose to contribute more. And success might bring other backers. The government option forces contribution regardless of results.

Secondly, there’s less of a political football involved. Or may I say, none at all. No one is trying to please a campaign contributor or lobbyist. And even if they do choose to spend their “surplus” on a favorite, personal program that doesn’t seem for the common good, so what? It’s their money.

The fact is, there are no purely altruistic people. Only people wanting others to be purely altruistic. Here’s the proof: When you’re doing your taxes, do you look for as many deductibles as possible? Do you shelter as much money as you can in tax havens? Everyone does. Everyone cuts corners, fiddles with the numbers, to keep what they’ve earned. I know of no one, and neither do you, ignoring all the options to keep more of their earnings. I know of no one, and neither do you, checking off every box to donate, donate, donate. Give, give, give. No one. But when they do give, they voluntarily do so but not with tax forms. They give to a program or person who can make something happen for them or their community. Now if the altruistic billionaire club could gather more members, that would be great.

I don’t yet have an answer as to how to increase membership in the Altruistic Billionaire’s Club. But I know that those with wealth already do give (See: Gates; See: Buffet). They just don’t give to the Jesus Point: That point at which they’re down to robes and sandals. This, I think, is what the Wealth Redistribution crowd wants to see before they’ll be appeased. They never recognize the contributions already given, always expecting more. But what I do know is that public shaming doesn’t seem to work. Exhibit A: Occupy Wall Street. It. Did. Nothing. It’s gone. It remains a bad memory of an angry, disorganized mob. It only encourages division. It makes those being attacked dig in, put up walls, not want to give anything to those yelling at them.

So I’m open to suggestions. If you think they should give more, how? How should you get more wealthy people on board? I’m open to ways of encouraging those with the wealth and means to join Bill and Warren and maybe give a little more. Just don’t tell me your idea is force. Because, well, we’ve been over that.

A Response to an Old Friend

Back in the late 1990s, I joined the Libertarian Party. I became a Big “L”, putting my money and time where my political stance lay. And I was so happy to have found a political home I wanted to share it. When I got my card in the mail, I shared the news with a good friend in a glowing email. We have since parted ways for other reasons, (not politics) but we used to engage in debate, he on offense with Libertarian philosophy and I took up the defense. Back then, these conversations were conducted via email or face-to-face conversation. There was no Twitter or Facebook or Ello.

His arguments were more along the lines of the current Democratic Party platform but felt much closer to the old Soviet Union. My friend avoided the term “communist” when I finally outed him based on his opinions on what made good government. But he despised the term. He preferred “communitarian”. To date, I don’t see the difference. Yet he preferred it so I let him have it. It’s a strange thing, the way people wish to avoid the stigmatization of failed systems yet want to continue to believe the dream. Relabelling doesn’t solve the problem, but I guess it keeps hope alive.

The core of our debates went something like this: He calling the Constitution an outdated document that needed to be replaced and/or fixed. And I saying that other than slavery (that had been done away with already) and other than the failed ten year plus lifespan of the Eighteenth Amendment, the Constitution still remains the best document ever crafted on governance. And round and round we’d go.

When you read the Constitution, even if you knew nothing about the history of governments (say you’re that hypothetical alien visiting planet Earth), you would see that the writers had gone to great lengths to limit it’s ruling body. You would instantly know that the writers had prepared a document that prevented abuses. You would know immediately that it was created because prior governments had abused their people and this document was written to prevent those abuses from happening again. After all, why create a Bill of Rights if speech, religion, the press, etc. had not been abused before? Read the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. They put the big foot down in regards to limiting government.

My friend argued that the Constitution and my Libertarian arguments failed to recognize the “dynamics and sentiments of culture”. Or, to acknowledge the abuses the poor and working class suffered from land owners and barons. Yet…

The Constitution was created by considering and recognizing history. So it is, in fact, very historical and takes into account the many “dynamics and sentiments of culture”. It was put together by people who considered history and observed the many abuses of the power model of government. The writers of this Constitution went to great lengths to prevent the mistakes of history from happening here in America. The fact is, the Constitution is the ONLY document in history that was created to limit the power of government and respect the individual liberties of the people because no one else had done it before. This goes for the poor and working class as well. Opportunity is available for all. It’s up to each and every one of us, regardless of the deck we start with, to shuffle it up the best we can. Individual results may vary.

As he was proposing to do away with the Constitution and rewrite government, I could see where he was coming from. If he wanted a “communitarian” government, he’d have start from scratch. But until then, the Constitution must be accepted and government must be harnessed under its reigns. The Constitution is the supreme law of The United States of America and, until that is changed, it must be honored. If the ruling power can bypass it’s own laws and do whatever it wants, then what does that say about us as a society, especially if we accept it? Incidentally, since those 1990s conversations, our government has bypassed the Constitution on so many levels I’ve yet to find enough paper to catalog them all.

My friend continually brought out his favorite government program, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as proof that although not Constitutionally authorized, was extremely beneficial. He cited the great work of Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” as a motivator to finally get some regulation so our food wouldn’t be tainted. And I’d respond with…

Today, the Federal Government consistently bypasses the Constitution and does whatever it feels like, for better or worse. You may enjoy the FDA but the Feds had no authority to create it just as they had no authority to create NASA, the CIA, FBI, DEA and other organizations of the government alphabet soup. The only way the powers of the American government can be changed is through amending the Constitution. Right now, our government does not do this. They brush the Constitution aside as if it were a burdensome article.

Think on this a minute…

If Consumer Reports began to forcefully take your money for its projects, would you accept this?

If Ford, GM and Chrysler forcefully took your money to fund research on the next addition of automobiles, would you accept this?

If the Salvation Army began to force you, through threats of jail and/or prison, to hand over part of your paycheck for a welfare system, even if it was shown to work perfectly, would you smile and accept this?

I suspect that you probably would not. Why? Because you know that GM, Consumer Reports and the Salvation Army have no authority to forcefully take your money regardless of the benefits. The same applies to government programs. Regardless of the benefit, if an organization has no authority to do something, then it is prohibited. However, if you wanted to voluntarily donate to their cause, then that is perfectly acceptable because it is voluntary.

The issue comes down to FORCE. Government forces you to participate regardless of your support. Private companies do not have that power and no one in their right mind would allow it. Why do you support forcing people to support programs they want no part of?

You say that you like the existence of the FDA. Well, that’s fine. But if the government gives you your program, then everyone else gets theirs. The biggest problem with our government is that special interest groups run it. Whether you smoke or not, the Feds give over your tax dollars to subsidize the tobacco companies. Whether or not you support an effort in a foreign land, your government sends your tax dollars to it. It doesn’t matter if you can’t feed your children or send them to an accredited university, government will go right on building that space station with your money it took by force.

Specifically in regards to the FDA, what makes you think that it is necessary or even the most benign? After all, Consumer Reports and other private watchdog groups already exist to check the product of corporations. It makes no sense to have an FDA, not to mention that it has no Constitutional authority to exist. You are not required to fund Consumer Reports but you are required to fund the FDA only because it is a government program, not because it is the best or most productive. If, just hypothetically, the FDA did not exist, would you voluntarily give over some of your money to Consumer Reports? Maybe you would. Maybe you would not. It depends on how important the issue is to you. I suspect you’d be getting your money’s worth mainly because if Consumer Reports does not give you quality results, they would cease to exist because people would stop funding them. The FDA keeps right on going regardless of their results.

On a final note, what makes you think those government programs are better than privately run ones? Our government can’t keep people from taking drugs, it can’t make people go from welfare to work, it can’t educate your child, it can’t make blacks and whites get along, it can’t stop abortions….etc…etc…etc. Given the results of these government efforts, what makes you think that a government program can make food and drugs safer?

Government doesn’t work. It never has. A government program is no more benign than a private one. In fact, history shows them to be less productive and mainly destructive because they operate on force and not results. You may feel safer by having these government programs but I hold reservations to giving government authority to do anything, regardless of the benefits. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”.

And that was that. We stopped discussing politics because we were getting no where. He was just fine using force to support his favorite programs, I was not. I wonder what he’s doing now? Last I heard, he was quitting his job to enter the priesthood. Oh the things we’d discuss now. Maybe some other time.

The difference between giving a fish and teaching to fish

IMGP0820A few years ago, my wife and I decided to try kayaking for the first time. We have always loved the water, but didn’t know if a day on the river would compare to being at the beach. Comparing the two is like asking a parent which of their children is their favorites? Being at the beach is different from being on the river, but we love them both equally.

Since our first excursion on the Etowah River, we have spent hundreds of hours exploring as much of it as we can within the county in which we live. We have put in as far back as the Allatoona Dam and have gone as far as Hwy. 411 and everywhere in between. Some days we will be on the river for four or five hours. Other times, we could be on the river as much as eight.

In my youth, some of my fondest memories were going fishing at my grandfather’s home on one of the many lakes in Michigan. Sometimes I would fish off the dock, my bright orange life jacket strapped firmly around my neck and waist. Other times we would go out in a small boat with an ancient Evinrude outboard for a ride around the lake, stopping to fish along the way. These are powerful memories filled with joy and nostalgia and always make me smile when I think back on those adventures.

When we decided to buy our own kayaks, I selected one with fishing pole mounts, a small bait well in the nose and a storage compartment in back. My wife has one that has storage in both the front and back, but fishing isn’t her thing. Instead, our smallest dog, Rudy, a Pug-Chihuahua mix, joins us and loves to ride on the fore of her kayak, basking in the sun. They glide along, looking at nature all around us while I troll a line behind me and am more than happy with the few fish I catch and immediately release. For me, being on the river brings back all of the best memories I have had on the water — with my dad, my grandfather and my brothers. And, with each new trip on the river, we create brand new ones. All of our four girls have joined us on the river and I can only hope they have the same feelings when looking back as when I do.

One of our favorite places to put in to the river is a place called Floyd’s Landing. The local farm supply company owns a field that runs along a stretch of the banks of the Etowah River. The elder statesman of the owning family wanted to do something for the people of our community and spent his own money building campsites, picnic tables, shelters and a boat ramp along the river. His business model — make it absolutely free.

Here was a die-hard capitalist, spending his own money to provide a campground for families, and he had no desire to make a penny on it. All he asked was for folks to clean up after themselves, be good to one another and to make room for others. Working with the local Department of Natural Resources rangers, they setup a life vest station where anyone could borrow one at no cost — so long as they promised to return it when they were done.

EtowahRiverTrash4Unfortunately, generosity received from others without having to invest of one’s own, never works. No matter how many times the wizards of smart in their Ivory Towers think utopia can be achieved by following the motto, “From each according to his abilities; to each according to their needs,” it always fails in practice.

EtowahRiverTrash2Over time, squatters began to take advantage of staying in the shelters for months at a time. Baser elements of society began to appear more and more frequently. Police were called to arrest drug addicts and to quell altercations at all hours of the day and night. Picnic tables were found turned over, swinging benches left dangling from a single chain, roofs of picnic shelters were ripped and torn and trash became commonplace all along the grounds.

In an attempt to reach out to these dregs, printed signs were posted all along the campsite asking visitors to please pickup after themselves and to not abuse the amenities being provided at no cost. But it didn’t matter. The signs were not only ignored, but also the recipients of even more vandalism. It took close to three years, but the owners of the land realized they would never be able to change the hearts and minds of those who believed they were entitled to whatever they wanted without worry over consequences or cost.

EtowahRiverTrash3A month ago, they were forced to close the grounds, and installed a locked gate across the entrance, saying they have had enough. The gift horse had been looked in the mouth far too many times and their generosity had run dry at the hands of selfish ingrates who were incapable of even a modicum of common sense and civility. After all, why should they have acted any differently? They had made no personal investment themselves, therefore they had nothing to lose.

My wife and I are no longer able access that boat ramp when we want to spend a few hours with each other, communing with nature. The old saying of, “Give a man a fish and you have fed him for a day, but teach a man to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime,” continues to run through my mind every time we drive by that locked gate. We had both known this was going to happen. We had seen these examples of human debris use and abuse what had been given to them at no cost, save for a request to be mindful of each other and clean up after themselves. We knew at some point, thanks to them, this was going to end.

Socialism, Marxism, communism…they do not work. They will never work. We all know this at our core. When we tell our children they do not appreciate what we have given them, the flaw in those philosophies is revealed. When we see how a young driver treats their first car based on whether or not they paid for it, we recognize the faults behind those philosophies. When we struggle and save and clip every coupon we can find to maximize our grocery shopping, only to find ourselves behind someone with a government provided EBT card buying better food than we can afford, we are irritated over the mandates of those philosophies. When we inherently know hard work and effort are the keys to success, yet we see case after case of others living off the taxpayers dime, we get angry about the tenants of those philosophies.

It is wrong! Our Founding Fathers talked about this and were very clear that equality for all meant equality of opportunity, not of outcome.

Yet, for some reason, too many of us are silent. We don’t want to rock the boat. We don’t want to be the upstarts. We believe in a sense of decorum and civility and we just shake our heads and keep going with our own lives. But socialism, Marxism and communism are cancers out to destroy capitalism. They begin as small spots, but when allowed to grow unchecked, will rapidly spread. It is only by remaining actively involved in the body politic will we be able to heal the body that is our country — at least the country as I know it under the Constitution.

The banks of the Etowah River is but one small example of why we cannot allow these deleterious philosophies to be sold to us under the guise of compassion or the label of fairness. These purveyors of anti-capitalism will smile and smile and yet they have daggers in their teeth. They play to the emotions of the useful idiots and the low-information voters and convince them the best solution is for everyone to be the same, that everyone deserves a fish.

The reality is, the best thing we can do is to not give it to them.

The best thing we can do is teach them how to do it for themselves.

 

Our writers have been working on a special Independence Day publication

declaration.of.independenceOur writers have had their noses to the political grindstone since the primary election season has been underway in our country. They have been on the campaign trail, speaking out daily on social media and trying to inspire others to get involved in the political process. We are not just about talking — we are also about doing! With such poor voter turn-out across so many states in our union, we began to wonder why we take our freedoms so for granted? It will be 238 years ago that our Founding Fathers signed their own death warrants when they put their names to the bottom of the Declaration of Independence. They pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor for a belief in freedom and independence.  Yet today, with early voting, absentee voting and voting on election day itself, scarcely 1 in 5 Americans this year have exercised one of the most important duties we have.

We are at a tipping point in our nation. We have more people on some form of government handout than ever before. We have nearly 100 million able-bodied Americans sitting at home instead of working full-time in the labor force. Our foreign policy has never been so muddled, with confused and disappointed allies and emboldened enemies. Our domestic policy is no better, with scandals involving the NSA, IRS, Justice Department, VA and immigration garnering top headlines over the last few years. We have members of the Legislative branch actively seeking to abdicate the checks and balances afforded to them in the Constitution in favor of giving the Executive branch the authority to circumvent the limitations of that very same document. We have a President who believes he has the ability to decide which laws are enforced, which are not and which can be modified by simply making a speech.

Our Constitutional Republic will cease to be if we continue down this path. It is inevitable. We are far removed from how our Founding Fathers painstakingly crafted the framework of our government, designed to prevent a monarchy, oligarchy or dictatorship from ever taking root. Yet, they themselves admitted, should the people ever decide to forego their role in the affairs of public discourse and allow the usurpation of the Constitution to become commonplace, we would no longer be a free nation.

So, after a bit of a hiatus, each of us will be publishing a piece tomorrow, on the 4th of July, with one simple topic in mind: what does freedom mean? We hope you will find those pieces informative, thought-provoking and maybe even a little infuriating. If it helps to get you involved, we will consider it a success.

I will close with the opening of the Declaration of Independence:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

After reading those words, ask yourself, could that document have been written today, about the very machinations of our current body politic? Do you truly believe we have been endowed with certain unalienable Rights or do you feel only government can grant those? Do you believe, in our current political climate, you have intrinsic access to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness or have you been relegated to accept you are incapable of those on your own without the yoke of government? Would you be brave enough to sign the Declaration of Independence today or are you comfortable ceding control over your life to the government?

What does “freedom” mean to you?

Taking Out The Trash (Before the Party is Over)

Every great party starts with great guests. Inevitably, if the party goes on too long or happens too often, those guests invite friends. Those friends bring bottles and disposal what-nots. And those friends invite other friends who bring more cans and dishes to wash. And by the end of its life, said party isn’t what it used to be. But come morning’s end, the garbage that needs to be hauled away, damn.

The last we left it, I’m not a Conservative (as thought by today’s meaning). Also, it is better time spent whipping the Republican Party back to its original objective: Promoting smaller government; not back to Reagan, but all the way back to Constitutional limits. And, most importantly, don’t ever, never argue with Democrats or anyone else in the “communitarian” gene pool. You might as well be attending a debate between a pastor and a Imam. At best, hang out, fly on the wall, and listen to their complaints. Then offer the Free Market solution, but only once. Never, ever, never get caught in the back and forth banter I see on social networks.

Quite some time ago, Harry Browne was asked on his radio show if Libertarians should work towards privatizing the Post Office. It was authorized in the Constitution but with the advent of Fed Ex, UPS, etc, the government doesn’t need to be involved in mail delivery any more. Plus, with the Internet, no one writes letters like they used to. Even bills and coupons are being paid and exchanged via the Web. However, as logical as this is, Mr. Browne’s answer was rather well spoken. He said that we were so far from the Constitution that we should at least try to get back to that. Then we could see if chipping away further was a worthy pursuit. I recall that conversation taking place in the late 1990s give or take a few years. And since then, I’d have to say, we’re even further away from the Constitution. Why now we have national health care. Or, I don’t know, maybe we don’t? Something on paper that’s supposed to be health care is out there but no ones really using it. And a government website that, as of this writing, doesn’t work. But whatevs.

It would be nice to say we have the Democrats to thank for the rise in government spending and programs. That way we’d be able to identify the problem. But it’s not reality. The Republican Party is just as much to blame. In fact, it’s an old joke among us Libertarians that the Democrats propose a Bill that costs $4.5 billion but the Republicans fight and it ends up costing only $4 billion and the Republicans say, “See, look at how we’re stopping the growth of government.” Not really. But it makes them feel better.

And it’s a myth, more legend, really, that under Ronald Reagan, spending was curbed. When Reagan took office, the federal budget was only creeping to $700 billion dollars. By the time he left office, it was over $2 trillion. It might be easy to blame the Cold War for the spending but then why didn’t it go down after the Berlin Wall fell? Harry Browne has a wonderful analysis here if you wish to revisit the myth of Reagan.

The fact is, the Republican Party is far beyond its claim of “smaller government”. It’s kind of bi-polar. (We Libertarians have long observed how they campaign like Libertarians but legislate like Democrats). In our last series, we noted that the Grand Old Party suffered from catering to false history. And, it’s paying for it as the recent election shows. In this study, let’s continue to find ways the Republican Party can overcome, be different than the Democrats, and uphold their rhetoric.

1) Start respecting other people’s money:

This year, 2013, marks one-hundred-years of the Income Tax. The Sixteenth Amendment was ratified in 1913 and has been reeking havoc ever since. Combined totals of Federal, State and City Income Tax and you’re take home pay is already in half. On top of that, include sales taxes and all the other ways the government gets your money not-so-discretely and you have to work from January until somewhere around July before you start earning for yourself. Republicans, think of it this way: You’re so pro-family, why not end the Income Tax and other pick pocketing schemes, allowing one parent to remain a full-time homemaker? Right now, families have no choice but for both parents, all adults, to find employment just to keep above water.

In a prior article, we noted several bits of pork the federal government involves itself in. End it and we could have more parents involved in their children’s lives. Less kids raised on the streets. Think about it.

2) Start respecting other people’s personal choices:

End the War on Drugs. Five years after the Sixteenth Amendment, Congress passed the Eighteen Amendment, thus, beginning the war on alcohol. Look how bad that turned out. Corrupt police and judges, gun battles on the streets, making criminals out of otherwise good citizens who enjoyed nothing more than a Tom Collins in the evening. It gave rise to Al Capone and the quality of drink was so poor, people found themselves terribly sick or dead from bathtub gin. Prohibition was such a bad idea that it ended in 1933 and the Eighteenth Amendment was put to scrap. The same should be done for ALL non-violent drug laws.

The War on Drugs has turned otherwise respectable people into criminals. Someone wishing to engage with a little marijuana while watching their favorite television show or composing a song or poetry risks time in jail. Why? Alcohol has shown itself to be a far more dangerous drug yet it remains legal. The War on Drugs has given rise to street gangs, working in an underground economy, giving little incentive to go back to school once they’ve become accustomed to the riches. Why work a minimum wage job for forty-hours a week when you can earn thousands on a Saturday night? Let’s note that while the illegal drug trade is bringing gun battles to the streets over illegal transactions, Miller and Budweiser haven’t lost an employee in their competition for customers. Johnnie Walker hasn’t suffered a gun fight with Jamesons. End the War on Drugs.

Dump the War on Gay Marriage. Get government out of what marriage means. Let individuals decide. There is no more personal of a relationship than two (or more) people choosing how to love one another. Dump the debates in Congress over this issue. Stay out.

Revamp Foreign Policy. We make much marching in other people’s countries, telling them what to do and how to do it. Telling Iran it can’t have nuclear weapons but winking at Israel. We trash China on it’s human rights issues but continue to wage war against casual drug users at home. And then we make war if we don’t likey. I can’t think of any war or “police action” the United States has engaged in since the War of 1812 that really needed to take place. Even the engagement with the Taliban and Al-Qeada after 9/11 could have been less of a cluster fuck. Congress could have enacted the Constitutional Letters of Marque, allowing anyone to go after Osama bin Laden et al. This would have reduced the entire Middle East from hating us, reduced the generation of children who will grow up one or two less parents over “collateral damage”. It also wouldn’t have spiralled into Iraq where, despite President Obama’s pledge to get out of, will never, ever happen. Our embassy over there is bigger than the Vatican. We. Ain’t. Leaving. Revamp Foreign Policy.

3) Start respecting academics and business:

From the Farm Bill to Obamacare (two hot topics as I write this), we are witnessing what happens when government gets into business. Prices go up, choices go down and the only winners are the friends of the politicians. True, the Republican Party has been rather united in standing against Obamacare but, Republicans drink their whiskey while complaining Mr. Smith is enjoying his Vodka. They knock government involvement in health care but have no trouble subsidizing sugar, insuring crops but letting go of some food stamp assistance. Do you see why this is a political disaster? Big business gets a boost but the poor are left to fend for themselves; or, at least, that’s how it looks. If the Republican Party could have just said no in it’s entirety, no government in food, no government in health care, no government in (pick your favorite industry). Allowing government to help some, punish others and forget the rest sets up the game of endless lobbyists for favors.

Imagine if the government ran a supermarket. Imagine the lack of choice. Imagine only one type of ice cream, low-fat and in a government approved cup size. When government regulates industry, that’s how it ends up.

Finally, get government out of academics. A Republican sponsored Bill is asking that the National Science Foundation justify future grants for research by proving that said research will benefit “National Interest”. Yet in so many cases, we really don’t know if the end result will be such a thing. Observing and testing is sometimes just to see what will happen, not knowing the final result up front. The researcher may have an idea but won’t know (can’t prove up front) the outcome until the research is done. As an example, modern chemotherapy has its roots in mustard gas. Mustard gas, a weapon used en masse in World War I for chemical warfare turned out to benefit for a chemical warfare against the Emperor of all Maladies. Get government out of academics. Expect more hurt as government intrudes into the sciences and academy. Republicans: Don’t support these things.

So the Republican Party has a lot of trash to take out. The GOP has hooked into some bad guests and bad policies and is losing for it. This and our last post on it aren’t meant to be exhaustive. There’s a lot of other garbage to remove but, in the interest of keeping this shorter than novel length, we’ll leave it as is. Besides, I’m exhausted. Exhausted talking to Republicans who think they’re Libertarians. Look, implement the suggestions noted above and we’ll call it a good start.

And remember: Don’t argue with Democrats. Save the air for the election night balloon drop when you actually win.

We remind you: healthcare is not a right

With the problems surrounding both the launch of the Healthcare.gov website and all of the unintended consequences surrounding the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), it is important to remember that healthcare, in and of itself is not a right. Just because we “want” something or feel we are “owed” something, does not make is a “right.”

To delve into this topic, we must understand and agree upon the definition of “rights.” Here, I use it in the same way as did our Founding Fathers and the framers of our Constitution.  The philosopher, John Locke, put forth the concept of natural rights, which states everyone is born with an equality of certain rights, regardless of their nationality.  Since they come from nature or from God, natural rights cannot be justly taken away without consent.

For the sake of this discussion, let us not get bogged down in a theist v. atheist argument.  Even the Founders made sure to side-step this by using the terms of both God and nature (see an excellent article written by Eric Wojciechowski here).  They were very clear:  natural rights are not granted by man or by government, they exist solely by one’s own existence.

The Founders believed that one of the primary roles of government was to protect the natural rights of its citizens, which include those mentioned in the Declaration of Independence:  the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as well as those specifically enumerated in the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights.  They were of one mind in this respect.  Though several of those present at the drafting of our nation’s Constitution believed it unnecessary to add the Bill of Rights (they argued it would be a redundant action given that the Constitution was already crafted with language to protect the natural rights of the people and limit the powers of government), they nonetheless conceded to add the first ten amendments to make the protection of those rights abundantly clear.

We must also bear in mind that our Founding Father’s had lived all their lives under the tyranny of a monarchical system of government, where the power of a king or queen could usurp the right’s of the citizenry without question.  They feared creating any kind of governmental system that could eventually mirror what it was they fought so hard against during the Revolutionary War.  So, even though some felt a “bill of rights” was redundant, there was no argument that those rights existed outside of government and thus were not a gift from government.

Our rights cannot be taken away or infringed upon without our consent, which includes the implicit consent inherent with infringing on the rights of others, or, more easily stated, breaking the law.  Unless an individual’s actions take away or infringe on the rights of someone else, their rights remain intact and cannot be taken away.  Here’s a simple example:

The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the citizens of the United States of America a right to freedom of speech. This means we have the right to speak our minds without fear of government reprisal for having a dissenting opinion over the actions of our elected leadership.  However, that right does not allow an individual to falsely yell, “Fire!” in a crowded theater, thereby creating a panic that risks injury to others.  Creating a stampede falsely not only infringes on the rights of individuals to their happiness, but also a potential infringement to their property as well as lives.

Our individual rights exist only to such extent that they do not deny another individual their rights.  If we can agree upon this concept, we can proceed.  However, if at this point you choose not to accept the premise used by our Founding Fathers and feel, as our current President, Barack Obama, does, that the Constitution is flawed because it is a document of “negative liberties” — in that it tells government what it cannot do instead of what it should do (especially as it relates to redistribution) — then the rest of this reasoned and logical discussion will fall on deaf ears.

Before we continue the subject of healthcare and health insurance (two related, but very different subjects), we must discuss wealth, which is an extension of property.  It is something we own or possess.

Thomas Jefferson was once asked to provide his thoughts on whether the government should take more from those who have and give to those with less.  He writes:

To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.

— letter to Joseph Milligan, April 6, 1816.

Individuals own their wealth, regardless of the form it takes.  Money, land, buildings, stocks, investments and more all factor into the personal wealth of a citizen.  As a collective, this block of “wealth” is synonymous with property because it is, in fact, owned.

"homeless - please help" signTo illustrate this concept, let us create an easily identifiable scenario. You and I are walking down the sidewalk when we come upon a destitute individual wearing ragged clothing and holding a cardboard sign that reads: Homeless, please help.  We are both moved by the plight of the individual.  We both feel compelled to help that person. We both agree on the outcome we desire — to provide aid.

If I reach into my wallet and remove a $20 bill, I am voluntarily taking part of my property and giving it to someone else. It is my choice to provide a charitable hand-out. I elect to transfer some of my property to someone else.

pickpocket-crimeHowever, if you put your hand into my wallet and remove that same $20 bill to give to the homeless individual, this is called theft. By choosing to take my property away without my consent, you have infringed on my rights, irrespective of your altruistic intentions.

When I make the choice over what to do with my own property, I have not infringed on the rights of anyone else.  When someone else takes my property, even though it is for the same purpose (to help an individual in desperate circumstances), my rights have been deprived as surely as a thief deprives me of my belongings.

One must understand this basic concept if they are to understand why healthcare and health insurance are not rights, but, indeed, privileges. They will always remain so because to take these services for one’s own means to deprive someone else of their property, which, as we have demonstrated, is an infringement of their rights. It is an affront to the very freedoms we hold dear.

When someone goes to school and spends their wealth on becoming a doctor, they have made a significant investment in their chosen career. They own their degree and certification as well as their knowledge and skill. It is that person’s property, both physical and intellectual.  They may then make the choice to enter into a contract with other individuals who are in need of their services.

If I fall off my porch and break my arm, I lack the knowledge on how to properly set and care for that injury, so I seek the skills of a physician who does. In exchange for his expertise, I agree to part with some of my property.  My property takes the form of currency and his takes the form of both materials and services.

But, that doctor is not the only doctor within my community. His terms and conditions for entering into a contract for services are not the same as someone else in his profession. Some may charge more for their abilities and some may charge less. I have the choice with whom I decide to engage in services.

The same applies for the concept of health insurance.  (I am going to proceed under the auspicious that we all understand that “healthcare” refers to the actual action of receiving care from a member of the health industry, whereas “health insurance” relates solely to purchasing a financial plan to help offset the future cost of healthcare.)  I do not need to own health insurance to get healthcare.  One has nothing to do with the other.

There is no emergency room in this country who will deny anyone healthcare.  In the years of hearing this mantra, that healthcare is a right, not once has anyone found a case where a hospital has pre-screened the financial solvency of a patient before treating them. This is not to say they won’t pursue every avenue available to them for reimbursement of those services, but this is a different subject and irrelevant to our discussion today.  We are not here to discuss the cost of healthcare.

Rights cannot be taken away without our consent.  The Federal government was designed by our Founding Father’s to not only limit the extent of government, but also protect the natural rights inherent to every person.  When someone proffers the argument that healthcare is a right, they are, in essence, saying that their rights supersede yours.  They are wanting you to surrender a portion of your property because they lack their own ability to take care of themselves.

If healthcare (and health insurance) is a “right”, then I have no control over my own property, which, by that very statement, is in direct contradiction to the theory of natural rights as understood by the Framers of our Constitution.  Remember, our individual rights exist only to such extent that they do not deny another individual their rights, which includes the right to our property.

And, more importantly, if we have no control over our property, then where does that infringement stop? Does someone have a right to a seven-course meal every day?  What about the right to have a home? How about a right to a mode of transportation? Occupiers and the D-15 movement feel they have a right to a “living wage” (whatever that is, since one person’s definition of living is rarely the same as another’s). Where do you draw the line between Capitalism and Communism?

More often than not, our society has desperately tried to make the word “want” synonymous with “right” and those two words, as far as the Constitution is concerned, are not even remotely similar and, more importantly, are not exchangeable.  The sooner we can stop those in our society from deluding themselves with misinformation, the sooner we can actually begin to address the true issue — the cost of care.

For now, let us hope we have taken a first step toward helping others understand the fundamental difference between rights and wants and why those two terms can never be allowed to share the same meaning, lest we make an irrevocable leap toward a complete loss of personal liberty.  Our rights are our own and are not conferred on us from any person or government.  Abdicating those rights is tantamount to an endorsement of tyrannical rule, returning us to the very place from which our Founding Father’s fought so hard and sacrificed so much to avoid.

No One’s Making You Work There

A bit ago, McDonalds posted a sample budget showing that one could survive financially on what they pay. They were smart enough to include the fact that you’d need a second job to make all your bills but, it could be done. Or could it?

Shortly after publication, several McDonald’s employees posted their actual expenses, demonstrating that McDonalds was being unrealistic in its calculations. And now the company’s blunder could be used as ammunition to increase the minimum wage. Why just today, on my ride into work, I saw at least forty or so of what I presumed to be, McDonald’s employees and their supporters in the parking lot of the restaurant located at the 8 Mile / Lahser streets. They were protesting something but I couldn’t make it out from my short stop at the red light. But they were carrying red signs with D15 written on them. I made a mental note to check it out later. So later came and it refers to the D15 Campaign. The goal is to increase the minimum wage to $15.00 a hour.

The D15 campaign is Detroit based but probably spreading outside 8 Mile as I write this. It doesn’t surprise me. Detroit is teetering over the plank right now with hungry sharks waiting for it to hit the water. Last week, the once and mighty D-Town became the largest U.S. city to declare bankruptcy, only to be put on hold seconds later (“seconds” used in government time). It’s not just the city mismanagement. Private companies haven’t faired much better. In 2008, the federal government had to bail out General Motors and Chrysler. Private home owners are still hurting from the real estate crash of that same year. And commercial property owners have seen slumps in their own investments.

Detroit is dying. I had to finally admit this circa the year 2000. A friend of mine came in from Seattle (he used to live here). He asked, “So what’s to do around here now?” I could only rattle off a handful of the places we used to go. Let me stress, used to go. Since we’d been hanging around, many of them had dried up. And there was nothing left to take him to. Nothing for our taste, anyhow. We ended up at City Club which has been an underground pit since… When he asked what there was new happening, my answer was, “You have to know where to go. Know people who know, that is.” Sad answer. Sad that every good venue was something so small that it’s close to secret. We have no Studio 54. The last great attempt at a socialite’s paradise in Detroit was SPACE. Right next to the ever fantastic St. Andrews Hall, SPACE was three floors of techno thrills featuring a drag queen stage show, midgets on Velcro walls and the star attraction – Brutal Betty, a three-hundred-pound, sixty-year-old dominatrix.

Gone. All of it closed and boarded up. The once and mighty Packard Plant, closed. Turned into a wasteland which has now become a sort of Bartertown, home to squatters, a community of its own rules. And each Detroit zip code has its share of entire street blocks with homes being reclaimed by nature. Trees growing through once lovely kitchens and living rooms.

So there’s no businesses moving into Detroit (although a Whole Foods recently went up). But the majority of businesses in and around the immediate Detroit zip codes are restaurants, liquour stores, churches (once private properties now declared “church” to avoid taxes), hair salons and barbershops and gas stations. And the only retail stores are small business stores, catering to speciality items. And then there’s the fact that everyone seems to be working landscaping and construction.

All the above suggests that I’d be in favor of a $15.00 minimum wage. How is anyone living here going to survive on $7.40 an hour? Well the picture I painted looks bad. And I suppose if you choose to stay in it, it is bad.

When I was a teen, entering the working world, my first job was a sub-sandwich cook. I knew, KNEW, that this was not a career. All through college, almost to my senior year, I worked in food service. And I knew, KNEW, each place was not my career. The owner of the last restaurant I worked at once complained to me over the bun toaster that he couldn’t keep any help. They’d hire in and be gone in a month. Or turn out to be unreliable. I felt the need to be honest and advise him that no one, NO ONE, currently working in his place of business was there for the long haul. He never raised an objection to that. And he never raised anyone’s pay to keep them. He knew and I knew that it was true.

Jobs requiring little skill get paid little money. It’s that simple. It’s why busing tables, although busy work, is not educated work. Let me be clear and get ahead of the hate mail. I do value such work. Where would we be without the people who pick apples, stock the grocery shelves, turn the sign on the road from STOP to SLOW in a construction zone? But the fact remains that any able bodied adult can do this. And because of that, despite it’s importance, if you don’t want to do it, someone else will. We don’t have an immigration problem because of free welfare. We have a lot of unskilled jobs open. We need someone to work the fields, hammer nails and clean out homes. Those crossing over the Mexican border aren’t collecting checks. They’re working and earning money; albeit in cash, but working.

We may need more people to work in a grocery store than we need heart specialists in any one area. But which field requires more education, more time in study, more missed weekend parties and more debt (emotionally and financially)? One could argue that the value of food and clothing is more important than a heart specialist. Everyone must eat and be clothed, daily; whereas, a heart specialist will only be needed by a few (compared to the entire population of the area serviced). And the need for a heart specialist is usually later in life but the need for food and clothing begins right out of the womb. But again, any able bodied adult can be in food service. Or in retail. Remember it wasn’t until the 1980s or so when a college degree became important as more specialized, more knowledgeable people were needed for the growth in medicine, technology, etc. It’s the architect who makes more money designing the sewer system than the person digging the hole.

It comes down to supply and demand. There are less skilled workers then unskilled. And when there’s less of something with a great demand, the price goes up. In the converse, if there’s five-hundred people applying for ten jobs at McDonalds, well…do the math.

So here’s the thing: If unskilled labor starts earning $15.00 an hour, an artificial upset will take out the economy. Yes, the Big Mac may only end up costing an extra sixty-five-cents afterwards. But the bigger impact is that skilled labor will find itself undervalued. If an able bodied eighteen-year-old with no high school diploma can get up and earn $15.00 an hour, why should anyone go into $45,000.00 in debt to pursue a degree where their entry level pay will be the same? Raising the minimum wage just encourages otherwise smart, goal-minded people not to bother. See: Soviet Union.

If the minimum wage is raised, employers will just hire less. An employer who is willing to hire twenty might throttle back, make some cuts and hire only thirteen. And if in the food industry, do we really want to see an employer cut, say, the quality of the food? We’re already seeing employers looking to reduce the number of employees and reduce their hours to avoid the Obamacare requirement.

The bottom line is…you, marching in the McDonalds parking lot with your D15 sign, you don’t have to work there. You don’t have to do this. You don’t have to make the food industry your career. However, if you do want to, may I suggest getting into a vocational school for culinary arts. Then make it as a big-time chef – respectable. You can work at McDonalds if you want but don’t complain about the wages. The business model is set up to be a dog and you’re trying to make it a peacock. There will always be jobs that pay less than what some think they should be paid. Get that. Writers, actors, musicians, philosophers, historians…short of a college professor placement or breaking it “in the industry”, it’s low pay. Know the risks when you enter.

Now by all means, everyone should feel free to negotiate a wage with their employer. Who knows, maybe this budget fudge will cause McDonalds to bump eveyone up to a starting wage of $9.00 an hour. But maybe they won’t. But you’re never going to get $15.00. So if you aren’t getting what you want, move on. If you truly want a decent paycheck, continue your education. Take on student loans if need be, apply for grants, ask for assistance from community charities. But do this with caution. If it’s money you want, get into a high paying field. Whatever you do, do NOT take on heavy college debt studying Ancient China and expect a huge payoff. And while you’re studying for bigger, better things, work at McDonalds. I believe that’s what those jobs are for. They teach you about showing up, staying the clock, working with others, getting orders out in a timely manner and running a business. So there is value above the money you receive.

Note that at least you’re paid for your time at McDonalds. Should you pursue a college degree, you’ll probably be required to work an intership or practicum or residency. And. Not. Get. Paid. This is on the job training where you rarely get paid, but you’re earning credits towards your degree. Because the point is to move on. Think of your minimum wage job as a jumping off point. Not a career move.

Learn and move on. Take your McDonald’s pay as a step towards something bigger because, in the end, hardly anyone turns it into a career.

Equal effort does not mean equal results: a word on redistribution

It’s the Friday prior to daylight savings — an idea first proposed by Benjamin Franklin in 1784 — and it seemed appropriate to grab an excerpt from one of our Founding Fathers to give to our readers to start their weekend.   For those of you who truly cherish freedom and individual liberty, it may serve as a reminder that the concept of redistribution is not new.  Thomas Jefferson made it abundantly clear where he stood in a letter to Joseph Milligan, dated April 6, 1816.

“To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”
– Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joseph Milligan, April 6, 1816

In Jefferson’s view (and that of the Framers of the Constitution), it was not the purpose of government to take from those whose work and efforts gave them more fruits of their industry, in order to spare those who have not worked as hard or as diligently.  To Jefferson (and all of us here at Freedom Cocktail) this notion was (is) an affront to the notion of the God-given right of free peoples to work as hard or as little as they choose, garnering as much or as little reward as commensurate with such industry.

Obama asks Jefferson about Constitution flawThe first sound that comes bellowing out of the mouths of the low-information-voter at this point is a cry of, “FOUL!”  See, in their minds, equal effort means equal reward.  This is a childish and naive view of life and reveals a distinct lack of ability to understand even the most rudimentary explanations of both federalism and capitalism.

So, rather than argue in that realm, let me give you a sports analogy…

Two football players show up to Day One of the NFL Combine.  They both line up on the track and wait for the crack of the gun (sorry anti-second amendment folks, it is what it is).  Sweat begins to bead on their taunt bodies.  Sound begins to mute as their focus sharpens to the immediate task at hand — to run the fastest 100 here.

The gun fires!

They shoot down their respective lanes, arms pumping in perfect unison with outstretched legs.  They both expend equal effort, in the sense that neither holds anything back.  When they cross the 100 yard mark, they are spent and incapable of another step.

However, one athlete crosses that finish line .5 seconds ahead of the other.

How is that possible?  They both gave equal effort.  Perhaps, if we looked further into physique and genetics, the slower athlete, in an attempt to compensate, may have actually expended more effort.  Yet, one was faster than the other.

There is no more rudimentary example to illustrate the efforts of one individual (or business) over another and why some are more successful than others.  Sometimes, hidden attributes allow for one individual to perform better than another.  Sometimes those attributes are as plain as day.

Before you begin to look to the state to make sure everyone is “paying their fair share,” decrying how unfair it is for some to have more than others, take a long hard look at yourself and try to be as honest as you can.  Are you really putting forth equal effort?

What time are you supposed to arrive at work?  Do you strive to make that time + or – 5 minutes?  Or do you show up an hour beforehand?

What time does your workday end?  Are you the kind of employee who watches the clock, trying to figure out how to look busy for the last 15 minutes of the day while not actually taking the chance of opening another email or answering another phone call for fear it may keep you one second past your exodus from the office?  Or do you work until the assignments are complete, regardless of the hour?

Be honest, now.  How much time do you spend on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest during the course of business hours (we will exclude lunch for the time being)?  When you get a text message from a friend of family member, do you answer it immediately?  What about personal phone calls?

You smokers out there (yes, there are few of you left who are supposedly paying for our children’s healthcare, which seems to have been the golden pipe dream — sorry for the “pipe” pun — and will be left as a topic for another day), tell me if this sounds vaguely familiar?  You and the few remaining of your endangered species have formed a bond, a pack, if you will, and religiously make sure to hit the designated smoking area with each other 4-5 times a day.  You text or email each other: Camel run in 15.  You make sure not to take a call or open an email within five minutes of the preset rendezvous time.

You make your way to the bathroom first.  After all, you don’t want this one vice of yours to be interrupted prematurely, do you?  Then you head to the elevator (stairs/door/escalator) and meet in a clandestine manner at the one place around the corner and out of sight from the do-gooders and nay-sayers of the anti-smoking crowd.  (Doesn’t it tick you off when someone else wants to impose their views on you?  No one is forcing them to smoke, why should they force you to stop?)   You light up and begin to talk about how busy your day has been.  Within five or six minutes you all realize you should maximize your nicotine addiction and light up another.  Like you said, you’ve been busy and who knows when you’ll get a chance to leave your desk again?

Another five to six minutes goes by and it’s time to return to your post.  You casually walk together, knowing you need to give your clothes a few minutes in the outdoor breeze to air out a bit so no one will know what you’ve been doing.  By the time you make it back to your desk, you’ve been gone somewhere around 15 to 20 minutes.  Time to get back to work.  You’re slammed, remember?  Besides, you only take a smoke break four or five times a day.

That’s when your email notifier pops up with a note from one of your crew.  The subject:  Again at the top of next hour?

For a moment, add up that time.  Let’s give you the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe it’s only 10 minutes, five times a day.  That’s 50 minutes a day, or 250 minutes a week.  Using 50 working weeks (you do get your two weeks vacation, right?), that would equate to 12,500 minutes of smoke time, which is only 208 hours or 5.2 work weeks.

Do you think you should give back your vacation time?  Think how much more you could have accomplished had you been given just over a month more on the calendar to outshine your fellow employees.  But, hey, gotta feed the habit, right?

The examples could go on and on but the point has been made.  There are those who show up to work early, stay late, give up their lunch hour and take home work over the weekend.  They don’t spend company time browsing sales specials or downloading new songs to their iPhone to listen to in 1 hour 43 minutes and 15 seconds when they bolt for their car and the drive home.

Our Founding Fathers never promised anyone in this country equal outcomes.  They were far too brilliant to be that naive.  What they did promise, however, was a government sufficiently constrained to afford its citizenry equality of basic rights — chief among them the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

This means each individual has the freedom, unencumbered by the state, to pursue (or not) whatever industry they so choose, as long as those pursuits do not infringe on someone else’s life, liberty or property.  It means the state isn’t supposed to guarantee the success of one at the expense of another.

Now, there is a form of government whose principle consideration is founded on the idea of taking from each citizen, based on their abilities and redistributing to others, based on their needs.  However, that is not found anywhere in our Constitution, nor should anyone ever strive to place it there.

Equality of rights is not the same as equal outcome.  If you want or lack for something, earn it.  Work harder.  Change jobs.  Move to a different company.  Move to a different state. Don’t blame the guy in the next lane who managed to pull off a faster 4/40 or 100 yard dash.  You have no more authority to infringe on his rights than he has to infringe upon yours.  Work harder.  Work longer.  Focus.

And if you still believe the government exists to punish the achievers and reward the failures, then keep that other old saying in the back of your mind: be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.

It’s past 5pm on a Friday.

Now I’m wondering — will anyone see this before Monday?

Obama’s truth often happens when off-script

I have long been of the belief that when someone says something off-the-cuff, you get a true glimpse into who they really are at their core.  Though often mistaken as a quote from Shakespeare, the phrase, “Many a true word hath been spoke in jest,” comes from Roxburghe Ballads in 1665, (though Shakes did say, in King Lear, that jesters do oft prove prophets.)

This axiom has once again been proven true, following the latest gaffe by President Barack Obama.  When I use the term ‘gaffe,’ I’m not talking about the Bidenesque blunder of recounting having eaten at Katie’s restaurant recently when it had been closed for 15 years; or, speaking at a rally with a fellow Democrat who was wheelchair bound and asking him to stand up!  That’s the result of a lifetime of talking without thinking — something that comes extraordinarily easy to Mr. Biden.

In this case, when I say gaffe, I am referring to a major political, campaign-ending mistake:  a la Michael Dukakis with his goofy-faced grin and tank commander helmet poking out of the porthole of a tank.   That’s what I’m talking about.

Every politician is constantly surrounded with advisors and writers to help craft every word uttered and every gesture made in front of an audience or camera.  Isn’t the running joke, whether or not you are a fan of our 44th President, that he can’t speak to anyone without a teleprompter?  Maybe now we know now what his advisors always have — the President can’t be trusted to go off-script.

In a stump speech less than a week ago in Roanoke, VA, President Obama declared:

“If you’ve been successful you didn’t get there on your own.  I’m always struck by people who think ‘well, it must be because I was just so smart’. There are a lot of smart people out there!  ‘It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.’ Let me tell you something—there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there!”

Obama did concede that individuals matter, but rather than pull back from painting all business success as more to do with luck than hard work, he added, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

Wait, what?  If I have a business (which I do), I didn’t build it?  Someone else made it happen?

This belief is a radical departure from anything ever uttered by any president in the history of the United States — the American belief that hard work, effort, and determination are integral components to individual success.

But this concept isn’t new to the liberal left.  In fact, not that long ago, in a 2011 senate campaign speech, that Native American squaw from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, made a point of saying no one got rich in this country on their own:

“You built a factory out there?  Good for you.  But I want to be clear:  you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.  You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did…Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea?  God bless.  Keep a big hunk of it.  But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

Seriously?!  Marauding bands?  And no one has ever hired private security?  Who was that mall cop on the Segway that kept me detained the last time I was there?

It’s an amazing thing to see socialist and marxist principles in action.  “Social contract“?!  What is she talking about?  I researched all of the paperwork required to start a business.  I spent time talking to financial planners, attorneys, and other owners of businesses in my community.  No one has any idea what she is talking about?  Am I to understand we have all signed some agreement that requires us to take some arbitrary “hunk” of our business and give it to “the next kid that comes along”?  No wonder the Occupy crowd is angry.  They’ve been walking up and down the streets of America, passing one storefront after another, and no one seems to be running out their front doors with treasure in hand to give to them.  Guess that’s what leads them to take dumps on police cars.  But, I digress…

Does anyone know the purpose of a business?  Stop reading for a moment and ask yourself, why do businesses exist?  I mean it.  Why?

This should be easy and if we actually taught economics in our country, there would not be a single incorrect answer out there.  However, we know better.  Businesses exist for one reason and one reason alone:  TO MAKE MONEY!  It’s as simple as that.  From the mom-and-pop dime store to the medium-sized service industry to the multi-million dollar corporation, a business exists to make money.

When a business is small, the owner tries to make enough money each month to keep the lights on and the bills paid.  Eventually, through hard work and intestinal fortitude, that owner hopes to get to the point where they might need help to keep pace with demand.  But their decision to hire someone has nothing to do with being nice to a fellow citizen.  No business ever started with folks sitting around the kitchen table in the middle of the night saying, “Ok, we want to create a company, so let’s figure out how many people we want to hire?”  That’s just silly.

Yet, in this Candyland society of ours, there is a notion that somehow this is precisely why businesses exist.  It’s not.  Never has been and, God willing, never will be.  The business hopes to grow by first identifying a need and then providing a solution in exchange for payment.  If the business is successful, it will grow and a byproduct of growth is the need to bring on personnel.  But headcount will never be at the expense of profits because…that’s right!  Businesses exist to make money.  If the headcount is causing you to lose money, it has to be cut.

If you want to find employment, you have to hope someone, somewhere is being successful with their business, because that’s the only way it’s going to happen.  (We will address government jobs momentarily.)  In my experience, I have never been offered a job from an unemployed person.  For some reason, every time I have ever been hired, that offer has come from someone who is already gainfully employed.

Now, government jobs are a different beast altogether because, by its very nature, a government job will never be about making a profit.  The income is already guaranteed, via taxes, regardless of output.  Think about this:  when is the last time a fire department went out of business due to lack of performance?  When did the public works department find themselves squeezed out of the market from another competitor?  How many P&L statements have been sent to the stockholders of the county board of commissioners?

An argument for a different day is whether many of the services relegated to government should even belong there.  In my estimation, without competition and the threat of failure, the best you can hope for from the public sector (monopoly) is mediocre performance and, more than likely, you will get far less than that.  But, let’s get back to the original topic of this piece.

When President Obama stopped reading the teleprompter and went off-script, he told us exactly what he thinks about the private sector.  He has absolutely no respect for the entrepreneurial spirit.  He has never been in the private sector.  Never made a payroll.  Never had to risk any of his wealth or assets.  Maybe the reason he said what he did has far more to do with his own upbringing and far less to do with the American dream.

Raised in an environment where capitalism was despised, colonialism was the root of all the world’s problems, and constantly surrounded by radical socialists, communists and even, later in life, domestic terrorists, it’s no wonder he cannot wrap his mind around the spirit of the American entrepreneur.  How can we expect him to embrace an economic philosophy that runs diametrically opposed to his entire world view from birth through college?  (By the way, these statements come directly from his own autobiographies — Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope.)

His handlers know this, which is why he is so rarely out of sight of the plexiglass prompters showing his speech staring back at him.  It is also why so many in the mainstream media have been in spin mode for the last five days.  They aren’t stupid.  They know this is a huge political gaffe because it gave the American populace a brief glimpse at the truth that exists deep within his core — that he is fundamentally opposed to the concept of individual success and to the ideals of the American dream.  He is committed to the principles of big government, which, by its very nature, means less freedom and individual liberty.  He is a statist.  And individuals cannot be allowed to succeed in such a worldview without the magnanimity of the state.  That would run counter to the agenda of today’s social progressives.

We saw his true, core beliefs during the 2008 campaign when, off-script, he said we, “needed to spread the wealth around.”  He did it again when he told an audience, “At some point, you’ve made enough money.”  He has been caught making these same statements over and over again, adding that the rich simply need to, “pay their fair share,” knowing full well that 86% of all income taxes are paid by 25% of the income earners in our country.

In actuality, President Obama is simply playing a numbers game with the electorate during an election season in full swing.  He knows there are far fewer business owners as compared to the general populace.  As long as he can continue to foster an environment of class-envy with a plurality of voters, it doesn’t matter if there is any merit to what he is saying.  After all, a logical and reasoned reply to Obama’s argument would state, the only way you received the money you needed to pave the road, pay the teacher, or hire the police or fireman was due to the existence of successful businesses and their employees in the private sector who were already paying their taxes in the first place.  This is not a chicken versus egg conundrum.  Business has always come first.  You didn’t need a road, bridge, or government agency to exist to make a business.  All you needed was a willingness to work hard and invest your own sweat equity into your dream.

But, it doesn’t work that way in the reverse, much to President Obama’s chagrin.

Without successful businesses and entrepreneurs, where would the tax money come from to pave that road, build that bridge or create that government agency?  Who built the trucks used in laying down the asphalt?  How many private sector contractors were hired to construct that bridge?  Logic and reason should always rule the day, but in our current, self-entitlement climate, too many instead choose to embrace the emotional and the irrational.  It’s so much easier to wallow in envy at the success of someone else, especially if you are being told it’s not your fault you don’t have as much.  The smallest of children on the playground learns fast that it’s no fun to take personal responsibility for their own actions.  It’s so much easier to blame someone else.  The application of reason requires effort and a modicum of intellect, whereas reacting emotionally is simple and primal, on par with our Cro-magnon ancestors, requiring no thought whatsoever.

So ask yourself, which are you?  No where in any of our country’s founding documents is it written that you are guaranteed an equal outcome.  All our framers wanted was to ensure that the government they conceived would not be allowed to place undue obstacles in their way; to give every American a chance to pursue their dream, unfettered by bureaucracy and over-regulation.

When I grew up, I was told, when looking at someone successful, if I worked hard and paid my dues, I had a chance to become successful, too.  A chance, in this great nation of ours, to pursue happiness, but never a guarantee of it.   This is what our Founding Fathers wanted for all Americans.

Now, I see children being raised to look at those same successful people and say, you’ve made more than enough, more than your fair share, and it’s time to spread your wealth around.  After all, we’re the ones that made that happen, right?

Only if you’re playing Candyland.