Interview with Congressman Barry Loudermilk on WBHF

Had a chance to welcome Congressman Barry Loudermilk to the studios of WBHF in Cartersville to be on my Saturday morning show, #WakingUpWithAlan. We spent nearly 30 minutes discussing the happenings in congress, the ongoing work to repeal Obamacare and how it’s not going to be easy when its tentacles have spread into so many areas. We also discussed Leftists who will not tolerate any differing point of view and are now willing to limit the First Amendment. We talked about Berkeley and other campuses with snowflakes unwilling to tolerate anything with which they do not agree. Barry Loudermilk represents Georgia’s 11th Congressional District in NW Georgia.

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.

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.