Morning interview with US Congressman Barry Loudermilk

I got a chance to catch up with one of our local representatives today on Bartow’s Morning News. 11th Congressional district representative Barry Loudermilk joined us from D.C. to talk about several current items being discussed in our nation. We discussed President Trump’s order to make the transgender bathroom issue a states-rights issue and not a federal one. We also discussed the protection of the press under the first amendment, about the press choosing sides and dishonesty in general. Additionally, the topic of immigration law was discussed and that Congress has not passed any new laws, the Administration is only enforcing existing law and working on immigration reform.

Trump hopes for the Hollywood ending

trump-press-conferenceHollywood tells all kind of stories. One of the staples of the “Hollywood ending” is when the main character delivers a speech that changes the course of events of the tale. It’s the Aesop’s Fables morality moment where we all come to the same collective understanding that whatever had been happening up to that point was wrong. At the conclusion of the speech, nearly everyone has their road-to-Damascus conversion, admitting the error of their ways and vowing to make a change for the better.

Those moments make for some of the best stories, because we want to believe if the characters in the story can make a change for the best, we all can. Unfortunately, for many, art does not reflect reality.

trump-quote-on-mediaDuring his first press conference since the inauguration, Donald Trump verbally castigated the vast majority of the national press corps and the mainstream media for their creation of fake news. He called them out, right to their faces, vacillating between charismatic humor and stern scolding. He told them how disappointed he and fellow Americans are with their tone and willful obfuscation of the truth. He acknowledged that he will make mistakes and would expect the reporting to be bad; conversely, he said when he does something well, he would expect the media to report something good. Instead, as he noted, the press will take something good and make it sound bad and then take something bad and make it sound worse. He called that fake news.

Then, in a surprising moment of both sincerity and clarity, President Trump stated, “I want to see an honest press. I started off today by saying it’s so important to the public to get an honest press. The public doesn’t believe you people any more.” Had this been a Hollywood movie, the violins would have swelled and we would have been shown a montage of faces all coming to the realization they have been wrong. They would have turned to each other with reflective expressions, before standing and applauding the president for reminding them of who they are. What would follow, after a slow fade, would be a voice-over from one or more reporters, reading from their latest pieces, apologizing to their readers/listeners/viewers for abdicating their duties as dispassionate reporters of facts. They would beg for forgiveness, hoping to convey their sincere change of heart over how they had lost their way.

Sadly, this isn’t a Hollywood movie. The reporters, who would likely gush over a similar scene on the silver screen, were completely oblivious to the message. The hurt feelings and bruised egos were on display across the dial following the press conference. All they cared about was playing out the infantile schoolyard game of, “Oh, yeah, well I think you’re a big, stupid, poo-poo head!”

Am not. Are too!

Beyond the content discussed in President Trumps presser, what he told the media about their role and responsibility was a bulls-eye. The Founding Fathers understood the need to have a free and unfettered press to keep government honest. They toiled for months to craft the Constitution, built on the concept of three separate but co-equal branches of government. These three estates — Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches — were designed to have a specific set of checks and balances to ensure no branch could overrule the other.

But, in face of major concerns from several states about the need for greater constitutional protection for individual liberties, James Madison went to work on drafting the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. The Bill of Rights, as they are now known, lists specific prohibitions on governmental power, with the first protecting, among others, the freedom of the press. Many misinterpret this to mean, the press must publish whatever someone wants heard. This is absurd. There is no “right” to be heard. What the amendment secures is the protection of the press to be free from harm or imprisonment for saying/printing material that might be unfavorable to the government. None of the amendments are there to give people privileges; they are there to declare unalienable rights, which cannot be infringed upon by any part of the government.

As it relates to the press, the framers of our Constitution recognized, even with checks and balances in place, politicians could collude together to avoid following those enumerated rules for how our government should function. By granting the press immunity from government prosecution, they created, in effect, a fourth estate, which exists outside of government. They reasoned, when politicians might be tempted to act outside of the bounds of the Constitution, the press would shed light on those actions and the American public would be informed. Knowing the press is free from government persecution, the members of each branch of government would feel the weight of the all-seeing-eye of providence pressing down on them, helping to keep them on the straight and narrow.

Unfortunately, we have been witness to the slow erosion of the line separating the press and government. It’s become more important to curry favor and keep getting the invites to the social events, rather than being objective with the facts. News is no longer reported. It’s crafted. It’s honed. Impressions can be made by leaving certain facts out while embellishing others. The purveyors of news have, for the most part, become mouthpieces for the sides they like. When members of the press choose the party they like over the party they do not, it is impossible to expect an objective reporting of facts. For all intents and purposes, the majority of the national press corps and the mainstream media has morphed into a propaganda wing for “their” side — the majority of which leans Left.

There is nothing wrong with writing opinion pieces, but that is not the role of the press. I do not classify myself as a “reporter” or a “journalist.” I am not just giving a chronology of events as they occurred. I do look at the facts, then I filter them through knowledge and experience. Once I have had a chance to digest the context, I provide my own thoughts and ideas, tempered with logic and reason, on the news of the day. Like a skilled debater, I am trying to convince my audience, through explanation and illustration, that my point-of-view is solid and above reproach.

This is the problem with the mainstream media. Too many have become covert op-ed writers, not interested in just laying out facts, but instead, creating a narrative, disguised as news, meant to sway the audience. The moment a journalist moves in that direction, they have willfully abdicated their role as reporters of the truth.

It’s not too late to hope for the Hollywood ending. But, as long as the press corps believes their role is to shape the news rather than report on it, they will continue to be manipulated into defending their egos when their machinations are revealed. The more the press loses their mind over the actions of Donald Trump, the less the public will believe anything they have to say.

President Trump challenged them to provide the truth to the American public. If it were a movie, that’s all it would take.

Where the Five Percent Dream Lives

When I was on college radio, we had no FM or even an AM band. This was before the Internet so traditional, over the air broadcasting was the only way to reach a wide audience. So due to our lack of any substantial tower or antenna, our only audience was on campus. But us disk jockeys played to the audience we wanted, the ones we imagined were out there, if only we could reach them. I know that’s what I did. I had CD giveaways, vinyl giveaways, poster giveaways. I had a partner for one semester and we did a bundle give away for any listener who could give us a good name for our show. That, was the only give away where any one answered. And yet, we continued to broadcast and ask for audience participation anyhow hoping one day, they’d be there. Our official unofficial tagline was “WOUX, Where the FM Dream Lives”. Our manager never let us officially use it even though we said it a lot on the air. He never stopped us. It never stopped us. The Dream kept us spinning the tunes.

Today, I have more important dreams. One of which, I’ve had longer than getting into the FM band in my college years. This particular dream, as of this year, goes back twenty years. And it goes like this:

I would like to see the United States government go back to its Constitutional level.

It’s not the dream of seeing my political party get into the highest office of the land. It’s not a dream of seeing a particular personality get elected. No, it’s all about the ideology. That ideology is currently understood as “libertarianism”.

The only political movement endorsing the libertarian philosophy is the Libertarian Party. There are people in the Republican Party who are quasi-libertarian, like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio but they didn’t make the cut in the presidential election. The GOP has had numerous opportunities to elect liberty minded Republicans but they pass them over. And in 2016, they chose Donald Trump, the least of them deserving the name of “conservative”. But there you have it.

No, if you, like me, want to see smaller government, you won’t find it in the two major parties. Your only choice is the Libertarian Party. And yet, it’s a long shot. I’ve documented the many road blocks to our small party’s road to victory. Most of them have been set in place by the Republicans and Democrats in order to keep their lead. With a regular, predictable one percent vote count after every election, the question remains: Why do we do it?

Because we in the Libertarian Party understand that losing battles in part of every war. It’s winning the war that counts. Winning a war requires a long term commitment with strong, committed soldiers and a message the people can want to fight for. Notice in this 2016 election the two major parties aren’t fighting over a message? They’re fighting over who’s the most scandalous, who’s mistreating the most pussy.

Because of this, the 2016 election has given the Libertarian Party the best chance to win its first major victory in American political warfare. 2016 could be our Saratoga. And it starts with just getting five percent of the vote total.

What does five percent give us?

Five percent gives us access to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund because we’d now be listed as an official “minor” party and five percent would also give us a near guarantee of being on the ballot in all fifty states. Let’s analyze this.

First, about that “near guarantee ballot access”. There is a mistaken belief that five percent is an automatic guarantee the Libertarian Party would be on all fifty state ballots in 2018. But this is not entirely true. It is the states that determine their ballot access. Since states control how candidates get on the ballots, states make up the rules of who gets on and how. Some states do grant access if five percent (or even less) is achieved during a presidential election. But some states grant access based on gubernatorial and/or senate races. So this is where the Presidential Election Campaign Fund comes in.

What we have historically done is chewed up a large portion of our funds just getting onto the ballot. Federal matching funds would near guarantee we would have the resources day one, to make all state requirements for ballot access, thereby freeing up money for advertising and outreach.

And this can propel us into the debates. As Gary Johnson noted this election, the debates are the presidential election’s super bowl. If you don’t get into it, you don’t get the trophy. The first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump scored 84 million viewers. Imagine what could have happened with the libertarian message if 84 million could have heard it.

There’s only one problem with this. Federal matching funds come from the same well as all federal funds. They are tax payer dollars. They are your dollars. And you may be reading this as a non-libertarian. This means if Gary Johnson scores five percent of the vote, you, a non-libertarian, would see some of your tax dollars going to a future campaign you won’t support.

Isn’t it hypocritical for a libertarian candidate to take federal funds since we’re the ones trying to stop government from taking your money for programs you may not necessarily want?

I say, it would be except for the fact that the Presidential Election Campaign Fund is voluntary tax dollars. These are voluntary donations. In other words, people putting their tax money in go into it understanding it can go to any candidate who qualifies. So it’s not like other tax dollars that disappear in Washington and show up on projects you weren’t aware or approved of.

Despite this, it still remains a sore spot for libertarians. The party is split on philosophical grounds on whether or not we should participate. But sometimes I wonder if breaking a rule is worth it. Maybe if the greater good comes from it, it is worth doing. But that opens the door for others to do whatever they want in the name of some greater good and that’s how the Libertarian Party could end up like the two major parties. I’m reminded of Thomas Jefferson, who made the Louisiana Purchase despite having no authority to do so. In a letter to John Breckinridge he justified it. He wrote, “It is the case of a guardian, investing the money of his ward in purchasing an important adjacent territory; and saying to him when of age, ‘I did this for your good; I pretend to no right to bind you: you may disavow me, and I must get out of the scrape as I can. I thought it my duty to risk myself for you.’”

The Libertarian Party will have to decide, should we get the five percent, if we’re willing to take the matching funds in the same line of thinking as Jefferson took the Louisiana Purchase. But I’m hoping we score that five percent so that instead of a hypothetical, we’ll really have to decide in 2020.

I write and publish this piece the night before the 2016 United States Presidential election. I’m hoping by tomorrow evening, the five percent will be reached. It will be a personal victory and such a payoff for being involved for so long. It’s an unprecedented opportunity that, if squandered, may not crop up again unless an unusual circumstance crops up again.

The Libertarian Party – Where the Five Percent Dream Lives. Let’s vote for it. Let’s win this battle.

My university was Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Almost thirty-years-ago, us disk jockeys at WOUX could only dream of reaching an audience outside the campus commons area. What if after a few years we gave up? Where would today’s students be?

Years ago, my alma mater did score that antenna. So today’s students have an FM station. Today’s students also have an Internet channel which reaches an audience far larger than we, back in the late 80s, early 90s, could imagine. Today’s disk jockeys at Oakland University reach every person on planet Earth. And they get to do that because those of us who started it, despite the odds, believed.

Maybe Congress will do its job if…

TrumpvHillaryI almost always try to choose my words carefully in any situation. Maybe it’s my background as a writer (both fiction and commentary). Maybe it comes from my many years behind the radio microphone. Perhaps it comes from being a husband to my wonderful wife and father to our four beautiful girls. Or maybe it’s a combination of all of the above, sprinkled with a healthy dose of rationality and reason.

I am not a #Trumpkin. But, I’ve never been #NeverTrump. Throughout the primary season, I was not a fan of Donald Trump. But, I didn’t feel the need to make ultimatums about him, either.

My hope is for everyone to read this article to the end before making up their minds about my reasoning, and I worry the only way to accomplish this is to put all of the aforementioned caveats in place. I’m not trying to alienate either side — at least, not yet.

The art of having a conversation is dying faster than teaching cursive in elementary school. It is becoming lost in the noise of all the hashtag-Never X (#NeverX), where X is someone’s rage du jour. A conversation does not mean you have to agree with the other party. It does not mean they have to change their minds after listening to you. It means each party is granted equal opportunity by the other party to present their thoughts and ideas. It’s an exchange. Each party takes time to listen and digest the words of the other before responding. Maybe common ground can be found. Maybe we agree to disagree. Maybe we learn some new perspective and it helps reform or reshape our own views. Maybe we do the same for someone else.

This has always been the underlying goal of every piece we publish here at Freedom Cocktail. A logical, reasoned conversation in order to educate and learn at the same time. When we shout others down and invent some new-found right in the Constitution of not being exposed to any contrary thoughts or ideas, there is no conversation. And, without the conversation, there is no growth. None.

Onto my topic.

Over the last 7+ years, the Congress of the United States of America has not functioned as the Founding Fathers intended. Not even close. Our Constitution created a unique form of government based on the principle of three, co-equal branches of government. Not one strong branch, one middle-ground branch and one weak branch. The checks and balances inherent were put in place to make sure all three branches remained separate but equal.

This has not been the case since President Barack Obama took office. The Executive Branch has given us countless examples of presidential overreach — from the gun-running scheme of Eric Holder’s DOJ with Fast and Furious, to the President picking and choosing which laws (or parts of laws) should be followed or ignored, to the IRS targeting conservative organizations and colluding with the DOJ, to the back-door methods of legislating through regulation via the EPA, the FCC, the State Department and more.

Congress, specifically the opposition party, though labeled obstructionist, has been unable or unwilling to stop the Obama agenda since he took office. Without a single Republican vote, Obamacare went sailing through the Congress on the eve of the Christmas holiday. The government (specifically the Executive Branch) now effectively controls 1/6th of the US economy.

In their quest to control or curtail the 2nd Amendment, through multiple executive orders, our President has unilaterally expanded background checks, closed supposed “loopholes” and tightened the process for law-abiding gun owners because, “Congress won’t act!” He has openly admitted he will take pen in hand because the legislative branch of government will not do what he wants.

President Obama is quite shrewd. He always sets the table with a negative before imposing his will, playing the part of the reluctant hero. He will paint the other side with words like, “they have failed to act,” or, “refuse to take action,” or, “continue to ignore the will of the people.” It is then followed by a pronouncement that he will somehow have to find a way to impose his will and make legislation happen without Congress. Hillary Clinton has often applauded this maneuver, stating, “Congress won’t act; we have to do something.” And now she is the presumptive Democrat nominee to become the next Commander in Chief. Why would she not want to have the same authority?

This premise that Congress exists solely to pass the laws demanded by the President flies in the face of how our country was designed to function. Congress is a separate but equal branch of government. Not a lesser branch or a powerless branch. Equal.

Obama asks Jefferson about Constitution flawThe fact the Legislative branch can stop the agenda of a sitting president is not a flaw in the design — it is intentional. Our Founding Fathers never wanted (nor should we) a king! No matter how much you may want the agenda of one president implemented by executive decree, are you equally willing to accept the same authoritarian form of governance when the opposition is in office?

The logical question to ask is why have legislators allowed themselves to be relegated to mere marionettes, attached by strings to the will of the President and the Executive Office? It’s fear. Fear of being labeled racists. Fear of being derided for opposing his agenda because of a false narrative over skin color. Fear of being mocked and scoffed by the mainstream media for being bigots and obstructionists solely due to the race of the President. As a result, the Republicans in Congress have refused to wield their Constitutional authority to be the check and balance against the will of the President. They have not exercised the powers granted to them to ensure a balanced and stable government, regardless of whom is in office. They have abdicated their role for fear of being painted as racist, bigoted, backward neanderthals, and have set a dangerous precedent, which must be reversed if we are to remain a Constitutional Republic.

Now imagine what this same Congress will do if Hillary Clinton is elected president? All of the same fears will remain because an all too-willing propaganda wing of the Democrat Party, the mainstream media, will just replace the word “racist” with “misogynist” and the word “race” with “sex”. Imagine four (or eight!) more years of a castrated legislative branch. We are already on the cusp of monarchical governance after almost 8 years of the current regime. How much longer can we go before the role of president becomes, for all intents and purposes, an actual monarch?

We need the Legislative branch to start working as designed. We need legislators who revere and follow the Constitution. I know there is a sub-set of the body politic who believe being a “true conservative” means never compromising your principles. There are some who will vote for some third or fourth party candidate so they can feel good about #NeverCaving. If only it were such a black and white case to make.

Can a wall be built if Congress refuses to fund it?

Can executive orders installing backdoor legislative programs be implemented if Congress withholds the tax dollars necessary to make them happen?

Can Supreme Court justices be whisked through and appointed with wanton disregard for their backgrounds if Congress chooses to live by the advice and consent clause?

It should never matter the race, sex, religion, age, sexual identity or preference of anyone in office. Congress should have been doing its job all along, but they have allowed themselves to become irrelevant. It is going to take some time before the Legislature feels comfortable wielding their Constitutional authority again.

If you really want to help this Republic get back to it’s Constitutional roots, we need to get the Legislative branch to stop living in fear. Like it or not, putting Donald Trump in office, a white male, an unprotected class, may be just the shot of chemotherapy this Congress needs to shed the cancer of fear and inaction. It is not going to be pretty. It is going to make us sick. But, it is the only logical choice if you do revere our Constitutional Republic.

 

OMG, Like, Most Important EVER!

Since 1988, I’ve been eligible to participate in seven of the most important elections of our lifetime. And now, in 2016, I get to participate in another most important election of our lifetime. So that makes eight. Eight times I am going to have to make an important lifetime choice for the country. That’s what the ads are telling us. That’s what the chicken littles tell us every four years. What a bunch of drama queens.

I’ve often wondered why this is. Why are American Presidential elections talked about like this? Why are we so concerned who the president is?

The president is one person. He* has an advisory cabinet and a Senate and Congress and a Supreme Court to contend with. He has an enormous number of federal departments and levels of bureaucracy. He also has fifty governors with fifty other senates and congresses and state courts. And thousands of cities with mayors and local governments. The president is one person.

Now, it is true that the office of the presidency has nabbed numerous powers over the years. The Vietnam era brought to our attention we we’re developing an Imperial Presidency. But for all the gloom and doom I’ve heard over the other seven most important elections of our lifetime, the sky never fell, World War III never developed, mass starvation never occurred, martial law was never declared, concentration camps were never constructed and a king never arose. Alex Jones has made it his business model to warn that the Police State is just around the corner but I could pull a radio show of his from ten years ago and it was just around the corner then, too. If this is your first time concentrating on politics, I suppose it can seem like the most important election in our lifetimes. But it’s not. It never has been.

So why does the president matter so much? Maybe because he’s the figure head of all the promises of what government can do for (to) you. I’m certain it’s because government is so big and involved in every aspect of our lives that every four years we feel the need to get the right captain to steer the ship. Maybe human beings have had kings and queens so long, maybe we’re so conditioned to needing saviors that in America, that need is fulfilled by the presidency. This would make a good doctoral thesis to flesh out for sure. But for our purposes, let’s just note that the presidential election is surrounded by a cloud of unwarranted importance.

Can you name the president (or chairman) of General Motors? How about Apple? Maybe give a try with Unilever? Shell Oil? JP Morgan Chase? Monsanto? Google? Can you do it without using Google? I’m betting you can’t. Which isn’t a big deal. I don’t know the answer to any of these. And I don’t care. I don’t care because what is more important is what the organization does. As long as Shell oil does well in oil and General Motors makes quality automobiles and Unilever makes soft soaps and quality ketchup, I don’t care who’s at the helm. We judge agencies by their products and/or services. They have probably changed presidents and chairmen and other board members countless times and yet, we have no idea who’s come and gone. We only know the product. But when it comes to the President of the United States, it’s always the most important election of our lifetimes. Maybe if government could just stick to the Constitution as Shell sticks to oil and GM sticks to automobiles, it wouldn’t be so full of drama.

When it comes to General Motors or Unilever or Google, we don’t have to participate. If you don’t like their product or services, you can choose to not engage with that agency. However, in government, it doesn’t matter if you don’t like the product/service. You must participate. The presence of force is the difference. If you feel you have no choice, if your healthcare, education, employment wages, roads, water, safety, relies on someone else not of your choosing, voters turn into savior seekers.

George Washington was the first savior. And he sort of deserved it. He did save the States. And if it wasn’t for his courage and perseverance, perhaps there would be no United States. But after the war he went home. And then reluctantly came back to draft a Constitution. Then reluctantly returned, accepted the helm of first president. Then after those years of service, he did what he always wanted to. He went back home. He went back to Mount Vernon. He even opened a distillery. His letters on running Mount Vernon are longer than that of the presidency.

Washington

Consider also Thomas Jefferson, the United States’ third president. His self-designed tombstone lists three achievements. President of the United States is not one of them.

The presidency used to be seen as an office calling the person. And if that person accepted, it was begrudgingly. Now the person calls to the office, begs to be seated in that oval office. People seeking power will seek powerful positions.

So here we are approaching another most important election of our lifetime. I call bunk on that. We, in America, don’t need any saviors or kings or queens. We’re founded on the ability of each and every one of us to pursue our own happiness. Not to be running around every four years, looking to get someone into office to do it for us. If the United States government would return to the confines of the Constitution, we wouldn’t even care who the president was. If the government didn’t involve itself in so many areas of our life, the office holder wouldn’t matter.

So I’ll keep voting Libertarian and hope you choose to do so as well. Because the Libertarian Party is the only one not interested in running your life or telling other countries they’re going to have to build a wall. They’re the only party that wants to return the office of the president back to its Constitutional limits. Then we can stop being drama queens about presidential elections. And then when that happens, maybe I won’t feel the need to keep making political commentary. Maybe I’ll get around to writing the three other novels I have running around in my head.

* I say “he” from the old school of English which states that when the sex is unknown, you use “he”. I understand we’re looking at a possible first female president. But since we don’t know and this essay applies to any presidential election, I’m sticking with traditional English for ease.

America’s R(ev)olving Family

This Christmas card says everything you need to know about guns in America. Guns are part of the family.

Card

The relationship was set up right in America’s founding document. The right to self defense was so important it was made the second right, the 2nd amendment. We’ve already teased out whether or not the 2nd amendment was referring to individual arms ownership or just a militia. And we concluded the right to bear arms is an individual right. The Supreme Court came to the same conclusion.

So whatever you think about guns in America, they’re here to stay. It would be easier for you to relocate than try to get guns banned. Because to do so, you need to do the following:

If you want to ban guns in all fifty states, you’d have to get a majority of Congress to vote to repeal the 2nd Amendment. Then you’d have to get a majority of the States to sign off on it. And if you got all that done, there would still be guns in America.

From January 1920 to December 1933, the 21st Amendment was in effect, making alcohol illegal. But alcohol was still in America. People were threatened with prison and fines if they made it, drank it or transported or housed it yet, many people still engaged with it. Law enforcement and courts was subject to corruption while attempting to enforce the law by taking bribes or outright taking a drink themselves. When things are illegal, the money gets good and going to jail becomes an acceptable cost of doing business. Those who really want to still be involved with those illegal things will always find ways of avoiding the law. And this is where it gets dangerous because, as in the case of Prohibition, that “bathtub gin” was killing people. Killing from drinking it, transporting it and fighting in the streets over sales.

In 1933, it was clear Prohibition wasn’t working so the 21st Amendment was repealed. And now a days, you can go to the store where the alcohol manufacturers are still fighting it out but through fancy labels and advertising to win your business. Quite frankly, Budweiser and Miller are not shooting it out on the streets any more. They’re hiring hot women in bikinis. (Still not sure how this sells to women).

Well the same applies to the drug war today. We have all the problems regarding marijuana and heroin and cocaine that alcohol prohibition brought us and we’ve yet to learn the lesson that we should just legalize it all. But this essay is on guns. What’s the lesson?

If guns were like drugs or alcohol; in that, those participating in the sales and use were the only ones involved in a risk, then only busy bodies would want to make them illegal. (As only busy bodies do regarding drugs and alcohol). But what makes guns different is that it seems like a daily occurrence, and living just outside of Detroit it is, that a gun is used to harm and/or kill other people that have no say in that gun.

On December 2, 2015, a husband and wife shot and killed fourteen people in San Bernadino, California. All evidence points to a radicalization to the tenets of Islam and an allegiance to ISIS. But their radicalization has been set aside by some in favor of calls to ban guns. Perhaps this is just another straw, a last straw. Because there are plenty of mass shootings having nothing to do with religion. There’s James Eagan Holmes who shot up a movie theatre during a screening of the Dark Knight Rises in 2012. His motive seems to be a loss of reality, finding too much in common with the Joker. Then there’s all those school shootings motivated by bullying or just a wish to out do Columbine. So perhaps San Bernadino was a last straw.

Is banning the solution? Let’s recap:

Get Congress to overwhelmingly vote to repeal the 2nd Amendment. Then get the majority of the States to agree. Then…What?

Guns will still be in America.

There’s two solutions: You can either enact a buy-back program or have law enforcement engage in Prohibition style raids and door to door seizures. You could do both, but I’m betting like all other buy-back programs, you’ll get low participation. That means the only solution to truly rid America of guns is the door to door seizures. And that means…

Civil War II.

Look at the Christmas photo again. This is a family, like many other families and individuals, who identify so much with their firearms that trying to forcefully take them away would not be easy. It would be literal war. Remember the saying, “From my cold, dead hands”? Also consider that it wouldn’t be the military and police against the civilian. It would be the military and police who want to retain the right to bear arms against other military and police who fall in line with the seizure order. Again, Civil War II.

For fun, let’s assume that after the war the anti-gunners win and there are no more guns in the United States. Like when the prohibitionists won and there was no more liquor or drugs (uh huh). This doesn’t touch the manufacturing off shore, nor the smuggling in that would come after. It’s how heroin and cocaine get here. Guns would still come to America.

So banning is not an option.

Does this mean we’re stuck with guns and violence?

I say we’re stuck with guns, and violence will always be part of humanity. But gun violence is going down. In fact, violent crime in general is going down. Think of how much better life is, how much more civilized than just fifty years ago. One-hundred years ago? It’s almost as if it’s going to have to play itself out. Sort of, run a course. Maybe using guns for stupid reasons will just become as frowned upon as Speedos on men. No one looks like a hero like that. I don’t know.

You can’t separate a close family by force without a confrontation. Look at that Christmas card one more time. Then consider being smarter than banning something. It’s a lazy, feel good, do nothing solution. As I’ve said in essays before, I’m open to suggestions.

And please don’t come at me with the “We banned slavery, we can ban guns”. If you can’t see the difference between owning things (guns, drugs, etc) and owning people, I don’t think we can talk any more. And that was Civil War I.

The Left already has plenty of examples of their version of gun control

Obama-Angry1The typical knee-jerk reaction is already in full force. Less than six hours after the last shell casting hit the ground on the campus of Umpqua Community College, our President was at his pulpit, once again demanding the further erosion of our Bill of Rights. Beyond talking about himself at least 28 times in his 12 minute diatribe, he gave us a clear glimpse into the future he wants for America — to make it more like Australia. He used the phrase, “common sense gun control,” within the same breath of our allies like Britain and the land down under. It may sound innocuous, but Charles C. W. Cooke extols the danger of such a comparison. When used this way, the president is advocating the confiscation of guns.

Pandering to the emotions of the moment, it’s hard not to get caught up in the zeal to “do something” to prevent another gun-involved tragedy. Rather than spend a lot of time showing how the data of Australia’s great gun grab of 1996 shows a negligible, if non-existent, improvement in homicides and suicides by gun, as demonstrated by Mark Antonio Wright, let’s look at how the Left’s policies are already in place in tens of thousands of locations here in the United States.

The Left has already begun to implement their desired goal of removing all guns. Unfortunately, in all but 8% of the public mass-shootings in this country (defined by the FBI as 4 or more killed in a public space) in the last decade, their solution fails. Much like Australia’s goal, to eliminate the citizenry from owning firearms, the creation of the gun-free zone is the penultimate step to a repeal of the 2nd Amendment. However, 92% of these mass-shootings in the last 10 years have all taken place right where Leftists believe they will not.

No-GunThe purpose of the gun-free zone is to prohibit any unauthorized individual from knowingly possessing a firearm at a facility or location so designated. Many of these are schools, but there are thousands of businesses, both public and private, that have adopted this policy to insure safety and security. They post the familiar sign of a gun with the red circle and slash on walls, doors and hallways, designating firearms are not allowed. And, as law-abiding citizens are wont to do, those who normally carry or posses a firearm leave those weapons at home or, at the very least, in their vehicles parked outside of these marked zones.

It’s Nirvana. Ambrosia flows through the drinking fountains and manna falls from the heavens. Never again will anyone within these magic zones have to fear the threat of coming face-to-face with a gun-wielding perpetrator.  The power of these signs, coupled with strongly worded regulations and policies, proves as effective as a John Kerry speech. It doesn’t matter how many adjectives, adverbs and interjections you include, just saying something out-loud (or in print) does not make it reality. I’m reminded of my old middle school history teacher’s favorite phrase, “If all the if’s and but’s were candy and nuts, what a nice world it would be.”

Often with the policies of the Left, it’s all about the intentions and never about the results. They always want to “do” something, but they never look at the consequences of their actions. They simply pander to the tyranny of the emotions of the present, slap themselves on the back for “doing” something and then they move along to the next issue, never looking back at the damage left in their wake.

In November of 2013, Interpol’s secretary general, Ron Noble, noted there are two ways to protect people from mass-shootings: “One is to say we want an armed citizenry; you can see the reason for that. Another is to say the enclaves [should be] so secure that in order to get into the soft target you’re going to have to pass through extraordinary security.” At issue, how do you put enough armed security forces around any possible soft target? He made those comments following the terrorist attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, where 68 people were killed. (One should not that Kenya bans both open and concealed carrying of firearms by civilians. Apparently that ban didn’t apply to terrorists.)

We can look back at all of the recent mass-shootings and see the pattern. They plan their attacks months (sometimes years) in advance. The perform detailed surveillance over the targets they choose and in 92% of the cases, they pick places where they are comfortable knowing no one will be able to shoot back.

How many remember the shooting at Clackamas Town Center Mall in Portland, Oregon in December of 2013? A shooter opened fire during one of the most crowded times of the year, killing two people before a concealed-permit holder stopped him by drawing and pointing his own gun at the assailant. That simple action halted what was sure to become a scene of mass-shooting. The national media, as they typically do, ignored the event. After all, it goes against the narrative that guns are bad.

These incidents share the same modus operandi. A crazed, mentally ill individual chooses a location where the odds of armed retaliation are small and proceed to immortalize themselves in the annals of mainstream and social media. Yet, when they do come across one of the “good guys,” the human toll is always mitigated if not eliminated. I could list instance after instance where a licensed and armed citizen in recent years prevented a mass-shooting tragedy.

We’ve seen the results of the gun-free zone. We see how these locations succeed at doing just one thing — disarming those who then line up to be perpetual fish in a barrel. Criminals, by their very definition, do not follow the law. A sign is not going to stop a criminal from following through on their designs. Einstein once said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. We know what will happen to a disarmed citizenry. History is replete with the machinations of dictators whose first task it to remove the threats of the people. It’s why our Founding Fathers were adamant about the Bill of Rights, including the 2nd Amendment. As Thomas Jefferson noted, quoting the 18th century criminologist, Cesare Beccaria:

False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that it has no remedy for evils, except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.

I could not have said it better. The experiment of the gun-free zone has run its course. If we are ready to face this issue with a serious, logical and reasoned disposition, it is long past time to bring this practice to an end and focus on the treatment of the mentally ill and insuring adequate training of law-abiding citizens. Banning guns is not only a facile argument, but also one meant only to pander to the low-information crowd in hopes of political gain. After all, that’s what President Obama himself said was his goal — the politicization of this issue, not it’s actual solving.

Happy birthday, America!

declarationofindependence

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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The Declaration of Independence

July 4, 1776

Over the months and years since the inception of Freedom Cocktail, we have covered a wide range of subjects — some topical, most philosophical. None of us are clones of each other but one trait we all share in common is a reverence for the Constitution of the United States of America and the principles inherent in our Republic. While each of you enjoys your holiday and the 239th celebration of the birthday of these United States, remember, deep down, we are all Americans, united under one flag. Our national motto is E pluribus unum — out of many, one. We may argue and disagree and fight passionately for our voices to be heard, but, in the end, we are strongest when we are together.

Today there exists, simultaneously, two conceits that are taken as absolute truth, yet are both completely devoid of anything of the kind. The first being, if I disagree with your point of view, it must be because I hate you and therefore it is incumbent on you to hate me back. The second is, if I like (love) you, I must conform to every one of your beliefs in total blind allegiance, forgoing any unique or individual views of my own. Both of these ideas are poisonous to debate, to communication, to understanding and to our nation. The co-founder of this site, Eric, and I have been diametrically opposed on a handful of subjects, but we could not be better friends. And, though I dearly love my wife, there are days when we don’t see eye-to-eye. (Does anyone agree with their spouse 100% of the time?) Those disagreements do not turn my affections into hate or anger. I admire their tenacity and the degree to which they fight for their points of view. And I know they feel the same toward me. We call each other on our BS and we applaud a point well made. We always strive for intellectual honesty, couched in healthy doses of logic and reason. Yes, there is passion, but always tempered by fact and we are all the better for it.

So, on this celebration of our independence, let us all take a moment to recognize we are all unique individuals and not cloned automatons following each other off the cliff like a herd of lemmings. We are Americans and its time we get back to acting like it. We can fight to have our opinions heard, but, at the end of the day, we are still family.

Shakespeare wrote in The Taming of the Shrew, “And let us do as adversaries do in law, strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.” Now that’s something worth raising a glass to while watching the rocket’s red glare tonight.

Happy birthday, America!

Schrodinger’s Other Cat

During, and in the few days after CPAC 2015, I found myself engaged, again, in what it means to be a Conservative. I’ve been identified as one and I don’t hate it. But I don’t feel like it describes me. (More on that in a bit).

What brought on the renewed discussion was the presence and short presentation of the American Atheist organization at CPAC2015. A lot of fellow atheists covered social media with gasps of how a humanist organization, one seeking scientific solutions, could be at a Conservative convention. So, being comfortable in both swimming pools, I did my own reaching out. “Hey, fellow atheists! Look, I’m one too! You probably didn’t know this but now you do and we’ve been getting along forever. Isn’t that cool?” And the reception has been just fine. Its fine, because some assumptions were realized and broken. There’s still some head scratching over why I’d want to align myself with such a group (most atheists are of the Liberal persuasion). I believe the problem is because of what the popular definition of a Conservative has come to mean verse what I take it to mean. So let’s examine that. First, let’s examine what the definition of a Conservative is. Then the popular definition. And where else to start than to simply google the word, “Conservative” and see what comes up.

Via Google, the noun definition is: “a person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes, typically in relation to politics.”

Well, that’s a lot. What exactly is “traditional”? Is it a good thing? Slavery was traditional. So was polygamy. It was also traditional not to allow women to vote. Also traditional to burn heretics and witches at the stake. Yet I don’t know anyone who identifies themselves as “Conservative” and wants to bring back slavery and witch hunting. Hmmmm…

The adjective definition per Google is: “holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion.” So it’s about the same as the noun. Again we’re with the “traditional”. Yet here there’s also “cautious about change or innovation”. And it’s in relation to politics and religion. So you could be a Conservative Russian Communist pro-slavery, Hindu. But I’m probably the first person to put those identifiers together. No, the popular definition, which we’ll get to, is so far away from that. Hmmmmm…

In the Wikipedia entry for Conservative, we come across more of what’s noted above. Being Wikipedia, there’s deeper analyses and there’s this: “There is no single set of policies that are universally regarded as conservative, because the meaning of conservatism depends on what is considered traditional in a given place and time. Thus conservatives from different parts of the world—each upholding their respective traditions—may disagree on a wide range of issues.”

There ya have it. Sure does look like “Conservative” is whatever the hell you want it to mean. So it’s no wonder that when I’m having a conversation about politics with someone who says they can’t back a Conservative agenda, I’m having such a hard time wondering why. We may have different ideas in our heads. We may be talking about different things. Everyone is a conservative and everyone is not. The word is practically meaningless. Or, better yet, the word means whatever the speaker considers traditional.

Example: A Christian conservative may feel that one man, one woman is a proper marriage. Their conservative view of marriage goes back to a time when polygamy was no longer welcome.

Example: A Muslim conservative may feel that one man, many wives, as young as nine, is a proper marriage. Their conservative view of marriage goes back to their religious history when that was practiced. (And it still is in many parts of the Muslim world).

Now we come to the popular definition of a Conservative. It has some baggage and I think this is where the problem comes in, and where American Atheists found their comrades wondering why they were there.

The term has been hijacked (in part, intentionally and, in part, unintentionally) by a small subset. This subset is summed up as heterosexual, white, Bible loving, Christian, primarily from a southern state, possibly anti-vaxxer, climate change denier and white with a side of white and more white with old, white money. The current trend is to assume that this person wants to hold marriage to one man, one woman. This person wishes to keep women’s wages lower than a man’s. This person also wishes not to grant the LGBTQ equal rights. These people, for all intents and purposes, wish to keep America divided and unequal, with themselves at the top. They love their guns. They love their “traditional family values”. They are pro-death penalty but anti-abortion. And, first and foremost, they have a tighter grip on the United States Constitution than their Bible. Have I missed anything in the stereotype? Please add in the comments.

Of all the descriptors noted above, only four of them are something the person had no choice in. The only four that qualify as “not my fault” are being white, being heterosexual, being born in a southern state or being born into old money. Other than that, the rest are matters of opinion formed after birth. So unless the anti-Conservative is a racist, I’m sure the problem is more with the other descriptors.

How did all those other descriptors get in there? That’s a whole other study, too big for the present piece. Regardless of how it happened, it happened. And we’re living with the stereotype today. And when, for the sake of brevity, I identify as one, all that baggage comes with it.

I addressed that in a prior piece here and here so I won’t get into it again. And I asked my fellow Conservatives to review their histories and policies and see the flaws. So clearly, I’m not in the stereotype because I’m trying to clean house. And, quite frankly, other than being white and heterosexual, I don’t have any of the other traits. Yet, again, for the sake of brevity, I use the term, “Conservative”.

The only position from the descriptors noted above that I hold dear, is a grip on the Constitution. But it’s not a holy grip. The Constitution is amendable and rightly so. It has been amended, for better or worse, twenty-seven times. In most cases, it’s amended as Thomas Jefferson suggested, always keeping in mind the original spirit of its making, always choosing the position that grants the most individual freedom. The Founding Fathers recognized there was a future they couldn’t predict and allowed for measures of change. I’ve already covered this here. A desire to see my government run closest to the boundaries of the Constitution is why I use the term Conservative. Everything else is baggage I’d just assume do away with.

So maybe I could use something else. Maybe Conservative doesn’t serve it’s purpose for people like me. So, let’s drill down again.

In the Wikipedia article on Conservatism there’s numerous camps under the umbrella, too many to get into. But there’s this entry for Libertarian Conservatism. Hey, I do call myself a Libertarian. So let’s look at that. In part, it defines as, “Its five main branches are Constitutionalism, paleolibertarianism, neolibertarianism, small government conservatism and Christian libertarianism. They generally differ from paleoConservatives, in that they are in favor of more personal and economic freedom.”

Oh geesz, more big words to define.

For fun, let’s look at the first: Constitutionalism. The Wikipedia article says, “Constitutionalism is “a complex of ideas, attitudes, and patterns of behavior elaborating the principle that the authority of government derives from and is limited by a body of fundamental law.”

Sheesh. It’s complex and has patterns. More things to dig into.

How about Paleolibertarians? This form is based on the policies and philosophies of Murray Rothbard and Llewellyn Rockwell. So now we have a breakdown based on two personalities.

How about Neolibertarianism? Also known as ring-wing Libertarianism. Sigh. Please define “right wing” now. And this contrasts to left-Libertarianism.

And if this wasn’t bad enough, in the Wikipedia side box of the Part of a Series on Libertarianism, under Schools, are the following:

Agorism, Anarchism, Anarcho-capitalism, Autarchism, Bleeding-heart libertarianism, Christian libertarianism, Collectivist anarchism, Consequentialist libertarianism, Free-market anarchism, Fusionism, Geolibertarianism, Green anarchism, Green libertarianism. Individualist anarchism, Insurrectionary anarchism, Left-libertarianism, Left-wing market anarchism, Libertarian communism, Libertarian Marxism, Libertarian socialism, Minarchism, Mutualism, Natural-rights libertarianism, Paleolibertarianism, Panarchism, Right-libertarianism, Social anarchism and Voluntaryism.

My brain hurts.

Maybe it’ll help if we look at what is currently considered the opposite of a Conservative: Liberalism. Back to Wikipedia and the opening paragraph reads, “Liberalism is a political philosophy or worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. The former principle is stressed in classical liberalism while the latter is more evident in social liberalism. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally they support ideas such as democratic elections, civil rights, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free trade, and private property.”

Sigh. That sounds like Libertarianism. That even sounds like Conservatism.

It sounds like the only way to really describe myself is to use more identifiers than any person could ever understand in polite conversation. It might take twenty different isms to get to the bottom of it. And imagine saying, “I’m a Libertarian, equal rights, social anarchist, voluntarily, liberal on speech and natural rights, conservative about the Bill of Rights except that embarrassing 18th one”. It’s rubbish.

After looking into these and tossing some dice on others, it breaks down to is this: I’m Eric. I’ve lived on this planet for almost forty-five-years now and spent a good part of it sampling much of what life has to offer. I’ve adopted policies and philosophies that seem the best. And they clearly come from different pools. So when someone calls me a Conservative, well, they’re right in part. When someone calls me a Constitutionalist, well, in part. When someone says I practice the Socratic method, yes, but I also like the scientific method, find it a better way at getting to the truth. When someone says I’m White, maybe. But I like peach better.

In essence, part of the problem is that in the United States, we have a two party system. Of course there’s other parties. I belong to one. But the deck is currently stacked against them. So for all intents and purposes, we’re dealing with two. And there’s no possible way to encompass all the different ideologies and life choices in two parties. In fact, everyone is pretty much there own party.

Should we drop labels all together? No. A label gives the frame. Despite this bunch of confusion, I accept being called a Conservative because it’s a frame that I’m closest to. It doesn’t mean I don’t share some opinions outside of the frame. In fact, I share quite a bit. But we just don’t have the time in a day to drill everyone down we meet. Ideally, the best thing to do if you have enough time in conversation is to not bring up a defining label at all. Start with issues. Ask where a person stands on this or that. Bet you’ll find out, as stated above, that no one fits perfectly into a box.

Remember, Schrodinger’s Cat could be either dead or alive in that box. That’s extraordinary polar opposites. Yet, both are as capable of being true until you check. You have no idea what its status is until you open it and check for yourself. I say, labels are convenient. They’re a starting point, hardly a finish. But before you generalize about someone, open the box.

So because of this, I’ll also have to revise my own policy to never argue with Democrats or anyone in the “Communitarian” pool. Maybe someone is in that pool but more like me and I didn’t even know it. Maybe I’m using the label Libertarian and they’re using the label “Communitarian” but were both in favor of the same things and the same way of getting to them. The labels are what’s getting in the way.

And by the way, if you google the word, “argue”, you’ll see two definitions. One reads, “give reasons or cite evidence in support of an idea, action, or theory, typically with the aim of persuading others to share one’s view.” and the other reads, “exchange or express diverging or opposite views, typically in a heated or angry way.” Don’t do the latter. Do the former. Because in the former, there’s no “heated or angry way”. Angry hats never look good and no one learns anything. In fact, angered, heated disputes on politics usually ends up reinforcing a stereotype. And what we want to do, is break them. Bet we’ll find we want much of the same thing and that some of it just might be details.

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.