#SOTU in three words and a drinking game

Social media is amazing.

We can use it to show people what we are currently eating , who we are with and what we plan to do next. We update our families and friends on our vacations, sporting events or just lounging at home. Businesses hope to get free marketing from it while consumers can spread the word on deals (or bad service) almost instantly.

Part of social media is the use of the hashtag…the pound sign…the tic-tac-toe board…the #!

Any particular subject can be made searchable by adding that simple character in front. Discussions online can be categorized and followed using these hashtags. And, thanks to these user-created categories, I bring you today’s blog post.

state-of-the-union-296x222The State of the Union tradition arises from the following line in Article II, Section 3 of the US Constitution, “He shall, from time-to-time, give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” While not required to deliver a formal speech, every president since Woodrow Wilson has made at least one State of the Union report as a speech delivered before a joint session of Congress. Before that time, most presidents delivered the State of the Union as a written report. Since the advent of radio, and then television, the speech has been broadcast live on most networks.

George Washington delivered the first regular annual message before a joint session of Congress on January 8, 1790. However, in 1801, Thomas Jefferson discontinued the practice of delivering the address in person, regarding it as too monarchical. Instead, the address was written and then sent to Congress to be read by a clerk and this practice was followed until the early 20th century.

How I wish that were still the case. Even better, in our age of technology, just post the text version of the #SOTU online so we can read it in our Facebook news feeds or from a link on Twitter. Instead, we are going to be made to sit through a cacophony of over-the-top applause from the sycophants, arms-folded scowls from the obstinate and circus-like chicanery from the leads of both the House and Senate. We might as well queue up our favorite calliope music to play in the background the entire time the speech is going.

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in WashingtonWe are going to be treated to well over an hour of promises, edicts, vehement calls for change and a showcase of biological props in the gallery to illustrate all of the points being sold by the President of the United States of America. We then have to sit through the minority response, the alternative response, the off-the-beaten path response and the ever elusive who-gives-a-damn response. THEN we get to sit through hour after hour of political analysis. We’ll have the propagandist wing of the Democrat party, aka the Mainstream Media, telling us how brilliant and amazing the speech was. Many will even dare to predict that the current falling poll numbers will get a much needed bounce. Turn a channel or two either way and you’ll have the opposite view doing their best to convince the audience that the president has sealed his fate as a lame-duck and a pariah for any Democrats running in the 2014 midterm.

tumblr_lybfd7jwJC1qzx3jto1_1280Which brings me around to the point of today’s blog. If we must be forced to deal with this travesty of what our Founding Father’s envisioned, many have devised coping mechanisms to get us through tonight’s ridiculous display. Let’s all play the #SOTUdrinkinggame! Take a moment before tonight’s speech and come up with a list of terms/phrases/words that you believe will be used over and over again. Anytime you hear the #POTUS (President of the United States) utter anything on your list, take a drink. Here’s a partial list of what I plan to use tonight:

Items that result in taking a shot

  • Fair, fair share (or any variant of the words equal, equality or same playing field)
  • Government is a good thing
  • Global warming
  • Increasing the minimum wage
  • Economy growing (or any positive spin) based on my policies
  • Unemployment dropping (or any positive spin) based on my policies
  • It’s the right thing to do
  • Wage gap
  • Gender gap
  • War on women
  • Affordable Care Act is working (or any positive spin)
  • Healthcare.gov is working (or any positive spin)
  • Any stats that are used to backup any of the above
  • And for each guest invited by the administration who is called out in the gallery

Items that require only a sip (or you’ll be passed out before it ends)

  • I
  • Me
  • My
  • Mine

Another game that will be fun to play started this morning on Twitter by fellow blogger, Michelle Ray (@GaltsGirl) called, #SOTUinthreewords or State of the Union in three words. See if you can come up with a list of themes that will define tonight’s #SOTU in three words. Here is my current list:

  • Who needs Congress?
  • Why Socialism works
  • Redistribution is good
  • Still Bush’s economy
  • Not my fault
  • I didn’t know
  • Ready to rule
  • Executive orders ready
  • Shredding the Constitution
  • Spreading wealth around
  • Errr…ahhh…ummm

There was a time when the State of the Union had it’s purpose, but that has long since been forgotten under the heavily crafted showmanship it has become. And, under our current administration, it might as well be named the State of the Coup, since this president has no problem enforcing parts of laws he likes, changing parts he doesn’t, and ignoring others as he deigns unnecessary. It’s like the worries of Thomas Jefferson have come to life with this Administration when they made it clear they came to rule and not to govern. 

Some final thoughts before tonight. One subject the President will definitely not touch will be the success of Governor Scott Walker’s conservative policies in Wisconsin. I’d be shocked. He cannot afford to shed any light on policies that succeeded to which he is diametrically opposed. He will not waste a single breath on reducing the size of government. He may say he has a plan to reduce the debt, but when you go through the litany of new programs he plans to offer, it won’t take a mathematician to realize it’s just another lie meant to placate the low-information voter. He will play to emotions, but will not once employ logic. He will pull at the heartstrings, but he will not apply reason. In short, he will pander to his followers like the Pied Piper, playing a mesmerizing message to those who want nothing more than to be lied to and told everything will be all right.

And for that reason, I’ll be playing the #SOTUdrinkinggame with much gusto. It’s about the only way I’ll be able to make it to the end.


Healthcare is not a right

To delve into this topic, we first need to understand and agree upon the definition of “rights” as used and implemented by the Founding Fathers and the framers of our Constitution.  The first stop is the philosopher, John Locke, who put forth the theory 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.  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 it’s 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’s, 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.  By creating a false stampede, not only have the rights of individuals to their happiness been infringed, but also a potential infringement to their lives and property.

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 move to the subject of healthcare and health insurance (two related, but very different subjects), we must now 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.

Keep this in mind while we shift gears for a moment to provide an illustration.

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.  Now, we are both moved by the plight of the individual.  We both feel compelled to help that person.  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.  However, if you put your hand into my wallet, remove a $20 bill and give it to the homeless individual, this is called theft, because you have infringed on my rights — my property.

When I make the choice over what to do with my own property, I have not infringed on the rights of anyone else.  However, 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 property.

We are now equipped with the building blocks to understand why healthcare and health insurance are not rights, but, indeed, privileges and, therefore, wants!

When someone in this country 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 personal 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 ability to know 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 make the cost of healthcare more affordable.)  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, no where can anyone find 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 to get reimbursed for 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.

Thus, 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, it is a puerile statement at best).  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 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 that drives today’s topic — 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.

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?

A Man Bites Dog Story Should Not Set Policy

“There is no reason why anyone, other than military or police, need to possess an Assault Rifle.” Or, “There is no reason why anyone, other than military or police, need to possess clips that hold dozens of rounds of ammunition.” Or, “You don’t need an Assault Rifle to go hunting.”

These three sentences, in many variations, have been uttered a lot lately. In the news and in opinion pieces, on blogs and radio shows. Whenever I read or hear these sentences, I don’t even have to know what exactly happened, where or when. Even if I had been living in a box, I’d know that someone, somewhere just shot a bunch of people. And I’d know that it was horrific and massive enough that gun control advocates are ramping up again. These sentences are robotic reactions whenever someone abuses the use of an Assault Rifle and/or clips that holds lots of ammunition. They’ve been uttered before, they’ll be uttered the next time some goof ball abuses a Right. But are those three arguments accurate? Is there no reason a civilian should have an Assault Rifle with lots of ammo?

I used the word Right on purpose in that last paragraph. It’s because the Right to bear arms is the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is as much a Right as our freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to peacefully assemble and freedom to never have to see Cher in concert. And Rights are not granted by the government. They are above government. The government exists to secure these Rights and they can not be taken away en masse. Rights can, however, be taken away, by the rule of law, from a person who abuses a Right. (Keep this last sentence, in it’s entirety, in mind, it’s important. And there might be a quiz).

I’m not going to define the Second Amendment. I already did that a bit in a previous article here at Freedom Cocktail. And I’ve been in this game way too long to finalize an argument on The Constitution Says So! The Constitution also validated slavery. But that was eventually corrected. A good counter argument to The Constitution Says So! is that if slavery can be corrected, so can some other wrongs in the document. The Constitution Says So! always ends in a head meeting the tail in a circle that goes nowhere. I believe that the Constitution doesn’t even need to be involved to provide a proper argument against the three proclamations noted in our opener. Instead, I will use logic. It works for science.

When I was in Kindergarten, and some other levels of grade school, if the teacher caught a student or two goofing off, on occasion, the whole class was punished. All students would have to put their heads down on their desks, be quiet and think about what had occurred. The only other time I witness this type of discipline is when someone commits a crime so horrifying to the psyche that an Off With Their Heads mentality grips the public and new laws are called for. In the case of firearms with big ole’ clips, we get the repeated mantra of the three opening sentences of our current study.

Let’s not be as knee jerk and say they’re wrong. Maybe they’re right. Can we find a reasonable argument against the complaints above? Let’s not argue from emotions but work purely in reason and logic. I understand that I’m advancing an uphill battle, asking human beings to put their emotions aside, but let’s try. Again, it works for science. I suspect if we can give a reasonable defense to civilian possession of an Assault Rifle with big ole’ clips, we can show no basis for the three declarations noted above.

You don’t need an Assault Rifle to go hunting.”

The Right to bear arms, and gun ownership itself, has nothing to do with the sport of hunting. Nothing at all. Zero. Bearing arms has to do with securing your personal self defense and repelling invaders, domestic or foreign and; most importantly, repelling a tyrannical government should it arise. With this in mind, civilians would have every need to secure an Assault Rifle with lots of ammunition. Shotguns, pistols and crossbows don’t stand a chance against tanks and helicopters.

History tells us that we must be on guard for just such tyranny. Nazi Germany is the ultimate example where Assault Rifles among the people, the Jewish people in particular, would have been beneficial. Don’t try to argue that it can’t happen again or that it can’t happen in the United States. We can not predict the future but using the past as an indicator, the fact remains that no society ever went from tyranny to freedom without a fight. In fact, all societies that started as free eventually fell into tyranny. This is why Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Occasionally the tree of Liberty must be watered with the blood of Patriots and Tyrants.” He knew this. And we, as good students of history, must also know this. To forget it or claim it won’t happen again is to engage in the crime of child neglect on future generations.

There is no reason why anyone, other than military or police, need to possess an Assault Rifle.” Or, “There is no reason why anyone, other than military or police, need to possess clips that hold dozens of rounds of ammunition.”

I will give you two examples where civilian possession of an Assault Rifle with a clip with lots of ammo would have saved lives and property. And I’m not even gonna have to mention Germany. They happened right here in the US of A.

How about the LA Riots in 1992? That would have been a good time to be in possession of just such a firearm if you were about to fall victim to the lynch mobs. If you were unlucky enough to be pulled out of your vehicle by people who wanted to pound you into a pancake, that would have been a good time. If you were one of the store owners who were being looted and attacked by the raging mobs, that would have been a good time to have riot repellent. How about Louisiana, September 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina? That would have been a good time too if you had a home, property or just your life to protect.

I just listed two examples where an Assault Rifle would benefit the civilian, examples where the police could not possibly gain control and it was up to victims to protect themselves. And, granted, these are just two extreme examples where a skeptic might agree. But here’s the counter: “How often is this really going to happen?” Let me ask you, do you have a fire extinguisher in your home? How about auto insurance on your vehicle? Or insurance on your boat? Or did you buy a replacement plan on your latest purchase, like an I-Pad or oven? If you have any of these things, you probably noticed you never use them; or, you only had to use them once or twice. The Assault Rifle can be in the same category.

There are millions of gun owners and Assault Rifle owners in the United States. Most, so much so that I could say all, do not commit crimes with them. Most have them as insurance policies. Others have them for target shooting in sport. Some have them just to brag they have them. But that’s it. So why do angry nay-sayers jump up and down and call for banning Assault Rifles when one, ONE fool abuses their Right to bear arms? Because it’s how most people deal with horrific events. Let’s get government to fix the problem. Let’s pass more laws against “it”, that’s the answer. A recreational drug hurts someone and the story gets the run of the papers? Let’s ban it. A kid drowns in a two-foot deep swimming pool and Nightline spends a half-hour on it? Ban it. Every Man Bites Dog story gets into the papers. Why? Because it’s so unusual. And the illogical side of the human being reacts to the unusual event with an unusual, not reasonable, solution. Wouldn’t the news be boring if we read daily articles titled, “Millions of Gun Owners do Nothing Eventful Today.”

When someone does abuse their Right to bear arms, like breaking into a home and shooting the occupants or spraying a crowd of the peacefully assembled with bullets, that perpetrator deserves to have their Right taken away and then put away from society for a time. And that’s what we do, all the time. In a case of armed robbery, if the perpetrator used a six-inch knife and if the police can make the arrest, we lock the perp up and they lose all kinds of Rights. We don’t lock down the city, go door to door and take away every six-inch knife. Same in the case if the armed robber had a revolver. We don’t get the same action committees trying to ban revolvers. And when a drunk driver slides into a family of six, we don’t ban cars or alcohol. We rightly blame the irresponsible party and punish accordingly. It’s only in extreme cases, Celebrity Cases, that a call to action is made to ban and punish everyone. Celebrity Cases are Man Biting Dog cases and sound and reasonable policy should never be based on them. Otherwise, you’re making all the innocent put their heads down on the desk and get punished for what someone else did.

Arguing in favor of the civilian possession of an Assault Rifle may not be politically correct. It’s never been popular in my forty-two-years on this planet, especially if it’s made just after an extreme case gets publicity. But keeping quiet when the drums of war are beating is not a time to lock your door and hope for the best. It’s time to get involved or others will decide for you. None of this should be construed that I am heartless and don’t show sorrow for the victims of the fools who abuse their Rights. I don’t even feel the need to justify an attack like this. Of course I wince when I see someone abuse their Rights and cause harm. But I’m, we’re, not in grade school here.

George Orwell said that the prime responsibility lay in being able to tell people what they did not wish to hear. (1) Whether you wished to hear this now or twenty years from now or never, the defense rests.

1) Orwell in Christopher Hitchens, “Letters to a Young Contrarian” 2001

Car insurance analogy is wrong and demonstrates an uninformed citizen

What’s the big deal about making healthcare insurance mandatory?  The government already makes us buy car insurance.  Why not make people insure something far more valuable than a car?

This is what I have heard over and over and over again from so many people as justification for their support of (if not all out fawning love for) the Affordable Healthcare Act, aka, “Obamacare.”  They argue this point with passion and vigor.  They are emotionally invested in this analogy because, on the surface, it sounds like an identical situation.

That’s one of the main problems with the average American citizen today — the lack of ability to delve below the surface and question the underpinnings.  Many will accept what has been cut up into easily digested sound bites as absolute fact.  News sources have to package the news in these small nuggets, devoid of depth in favor of a sexy headline or a bottom-of-the-screen crawl that fits in a Twitterish 140 characters or less.

Let’s take a bit of direction from one of our Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson.  When asked about his position on skepticism, he said, “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.

Since reason is one of the primary ingredients here, let us scratch below the surface of this specious assertion that being forced by the federal government to buy healthcare insurance is the same thing as having to buy automobile insurance.

First, there is NO law mandating that everyone must own car insurance.  Look it up.  In all 50 states in this great nation, there is no law, statute, ordinance or ruling that says, as a citizen of the United States of America, you must buy car insurance.

This is when the cradle-to-gravers interject, of course, if you don’t own a car, you don’t have to buy insurance.  But the moment you buy a car, the state mandates insurance.

Onto point two!

Second, even if you own one or more vehicles, there is still NO law mandating the purchase of insurance.  You can buy 100 vehicles today and you will not have to show anyone your proof of insurance — unless you plan to drive those cars home on the public roads.  You can have those vehicles delivered to your home and drive them back and forth in your driveway all day long and not a single police officer can cite you.   Moreover, if you own a ranch or a farm or just have a larger piece of private property, you can drive those vehicles all over your property and never be in danger of being ticketed for lack of insurance.  In fact, you could have thousands of square miles of land and make your own racetrack and drive as much as you want and never once pick up the phone to purchase auto insurance and the state cannot do a thing about it.

You can see the furrows now in the brows of the zealots.  Then they say, that’s an extreme example!  Everyone has to drive on the roads.

Well…not “everyone.”  Let’s delve further into this observation.  We have taken the sum of the population of the United States and backed out anyone who does not own a vehicle or anyone who does not drive on the public roadways.  We have effectively demonstrated that the comparison of health insurance to auto insurance cannot hold water by simply showing auto coverage does NOT apply to everyone.  But, let’s continue to play the game to its final conclusion.

This is where we need to remind everyone that there is no right to drive.  It is a privilege.  Should you receive too many infractions or break the laws of our land, you will lose that privilege.  There is a relationship — a tacit agreement —  between the state and the private citizen in order to use the public roadways .  The citizen agrees to enter into this relationship of their own accord and agrees to adhere to the confines established by the state.  Obeying traffic laws is one of these confines.  Purchasing automobile insurance is another.

A ha! I hear the audience shout.  See?  The government can force you to buy insurance!

The failure of most citizens to understand the meaning of words astounds me (and will likely be the subject of a separate blog).  Does it take a college education to understand the difference between a citizen who enters into an agreement ‘of their own accord’ and a citizen being forced against their will?  Do we honestly need to break out Webster’s?

More importantly, when you enter into this agreement, what are you actually buying and why?  To answer the former, you are asked to buy liability insurance.  Nothing more.  As to the latter, you are being told to buy liability insurance because of the possibility that you will inflict harm on someone else.  There’s a distinction worth repeating.  You agree to buy liability insurance in the event you hurt a fellow citizen.  So, in actuality, the product you are purchasing, at it’s core, is not intended for you.  The state, in an effort to protect its citizens, wants to ensure you can provide adequate financial compensation in the event you harm, either accidentally or willfully, another person.  Again, it’s not for you, the policy holder, but to protect someone else.

With that being said, how can this be applied to government mandated health insurance, a product that is meant, at it’s core, just for you?  We have shown that the privilege to drive on the public roads is granted via an agreement to purchase liability insurance and follow the rules of the road.  So, what privilege are you gaining by entering into an agreement with the state when they deign the need for health insurance?  Diane Auer Jones, columnist for The Chornicle of Higher Education ponders, “…the mandatory health insurance proposal would essentially require that, in exchange for the privilege of … citizenship? Residency in the U.S.? Life? … one must procure health insurance for herself and her family. Can pedestrians ‘opt out’ of mandatory health-insurance coverage…?”  Are we really supposed to believe that we must enter into an agreement with the state, predicated on a requirement to purchase health insurance, in exchange for citizenship, residency, or life?

A reasoned and logical understanding of these two very different scenarios reveals the inherent and tragic flaw in trying to use one to define and justify the other.  At face value, it sounds like a solid argument.  In reality, it is no more useful than a screen door on a submarine.  Sure, it’s a door and can be closed and, on the surface, acts like any other door…but when you delve just below the surface, it’s easy to understand that it will not hold water, any more than the car insurance argument can, when applied to mandatory health insurance.

Interpreting the United Stated Constitution

It is argued that the United States Constitution is open to interpretation, thus implying that the words on the paper are not an end in themselves. This suggests that the Constitution is flexible and not concrete and indirectly suggests that it needs supporting documentation in order to explain itself. That supporting documentation would be made up of well-defined comments regarding each of the various points and rights laid out in the Constitution. Without such defining tools to consult, we may end up interpreting away our very liberties that the Constitution guaranties. In order prevent such measures, we must examine how we should go about interpreting the Constitution.

At this point, a brief look at interpretation is necessary. There are basically two ways to go about interpreting something. Either you can do it by seeking the truth about what it was originally intended to mean, as created; or, you may go looking for an explanation that fits your viewpoint, in other words, the one that makes you feel best about the subject in question.

First and foremost, interpretation is only necessary when the piece in question has not been explained by those who created it. Stated differently, if the creator of the piece in question told us exactly what it meant, then there would be no need to engage in the art of interpretation. If that author is kind enough to tell you exactly what it means, then there is nothing to discuss after that. But if the creator is unreachable, and did not leave any supporting documentation behind, then interpretation becomes a requirement for understanding.

When you are reviewing a poem or piece of music, or even a painting on the wall, you will most likely never know what the author intended unless you ask him or her directly. With art forms, there is rarely a time when misinterpretation leads to something tragic. Therefore, it does not matter in the case of art whether or not you ever get the chance to question the designer. In fact, part of the enjoyment of art is to come to your own conclusion regarding the piece in question and no harm is done when your wrong.

This liberty is unacceptable when considering more important matters such as the Constitution. If we want to understand it, we would be in error to read it with modern eyes and modern thoughts. If we want to know exactly what the founding fathers intended, then it is required that we read the Federalist Papers and other supporting documents prepared by those who constructed the Constitution. We would be poor scholars not to consult their commentary on the document they helped create. Only by reading their own words can we know exactly what they were saying when they wrote things like “A well regulated Militia…” and “…regulate commerce with foreign nations…” Therefore, documents like the Federalist Papers are as important as the Constitution itself. These secondary documents act like a glossary for the Constitution and must be consulted along side it. Luckily for our understanding of the United States Constitution, we do not have to engage in intellectual jousting to find meaning in it. The founding fathers were kind enough to leave papers and speeches to explain exactly what the words in the Constitution meant.

In order to have unity in the federal government, as well as to ensure the liberties provided by the Constitution, we can not approach the Constitution in the same manner we approach art. We must consult the writings of those that prepared the Constitution and observe their explanations. Only then will we know exactly what they expected of the United States Federal Government. In a letter to William Johnson, Thomas Jefferson remarked, “On every question of construction let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning can be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one that was passed.” (1)

Let us take a look at what happens when the supplemental documentation is not consulted. The Second Amendment states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. Modern day gun control advocates claim that this amendment applies only to the modern day National Guard and that it does not apply to individuals when it comes to owning firearms. But when we examine the writings and speeches that were taking place during the debates on the Constitution, we find that this amendment refers to every American citizen who owns personal firearms. It does not apply to a standing army of any kind. It refers to people as individuals. Space does not permit me to quote every possible source but one from Alexander Hamilton says everything necessary. He remarks, “Little more can reasonably be aimed at with respect to the people at large than to have them properly armed and equipped;…This will not only lessen the call for military establishments; but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights and those of their fellow citizens.” (2) Here, Hamilton is clearly calling for the right of each individual citizen to own firearms in case their government attempts to suppress them. But why then did they refer to the Militia and not “the people”? Les Adams, who has examined the documents relating to the issue, informs us that the Militia was the term used to represent all the people, or at least all full citizens of the community. (3) Adams quotes George Mason, a Virginian who refused to sign the Constitution because, at that time, it lacked a Bill of Rights. Mason observed, “Who is the Militia? They consist now of the whole people”. (4) The reason the founders did not say “the people” and said “Militia” is because the people were the Militia, and everyone understood that so no explanation was necessary at the time. This has become confused in modern times because many critics have failed to heed the words of Thomas Jefferson when he said, “…let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted…”

Some may disagree with Jefferson’s argument and complain that if we are always required to go back to the time when the Constitution was created, then this means that the Constitution, along with the United States Government, is unchangeable. They may argue that we will never “move ahead” and they may say that Jefferson’s argument is an egotistical remark concluding that the Constitution is next to godliness in design. Usually, an argument like this comes from those wishing to rewrite or revise government to suit their own needs and desires. The Constitution was created with great care to respect the individual liberties of the people and to restrict the power of government. This must be preserved at all costs and I believe that this was Jefferson’s intention when he said what he did. The Constitution, along with the supporting documentation like the Federalist Papers and other writings by the founding fathers, does not need to be changed. These documents secure our rights and liberties perfect without need for reinterpretation. If we heed and implement their words, we will maintain our liberties and fear not an obtrusive government. Therefore, despite objections, I believe that Jefferson was right when he said what he did about the matter.

Now a time may come, as it did in the past, when the Constitution does need to be revised. Clearly, when the Constitution was created, the horror of slavery was not prohibited. However, in keeping with the spirit of individual liberty, the Constitution was eventually modified.

It may also happen that an entirely new event or situation, which was unforeseeable by the founding fathers, will arise whereby the Constitution and it’s supplemental documents fail to help solve. During the process of reviewing the Constitution and it’s complementary documents, if it is found that the writer’s were in error or mistaken on an issue, or a matter need be added or deleted, then those parts must be re-written through the process of amendment. Although the Constitution is indeed flexible in the sense that it can be changed, it should not be flexible to the point where no one is right and no one is wrong, like in the case of art criticism. By this I mean to say that if there are many interpretations offered to explain a new situation, it is best kept in mind that the best interpretations, will always be those that keep closest to the spirit of the Constitution, to preserve the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

1 Thomas Jefferson cited in: Les Adams, The Second Amendment Primer, P. 71: Palladium Press
2 Alexander Hamilton cited in: Les Adams, The Second Amendment Primer, P. 101: Palladium Press
3 Les Adams, The Second Amendment Primer, P. 200: Palladium Press
4 George Mason cited in: Les Adams, The Second Amendment Primer, P. 200: Palladium Press

Federalist Resurrection

We don’t need another political blog! Yep, I heard ya yell it when you clicked the button and fell upon us. But I disagree. We DO need another political blog. We need one in favor of the American Republic as envisioned by Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and all those other old dead guys. There are numerous Socialist, Democrat and Communitarian (my personal favorite of the rename-game) out there that the more the merrier when it comes to comment to the contrary.

Let’s recall the Federalist Papers. While the Founding Fathers were debating whether or not to ratify the Constitution, those in favor wrote opinion pieces that were meant to persuade the public. Consider Freedom Cocktail to be a continuation of those Papers, an attempt to get the United States back to it’s roots, it’s freedoms and personal responsibilities.

If the message gets repeated, the chances are greater that change can be accomplished. (Damn, my first post and I used the word “change”).

As a note, us Contributors quibble sometimes on certain issues but note that no one anywhere ever will agree on 100% of topics. Each of us Contributors is his own entity and what one says doesn’t necessarily reflect the exact opinion of the other. However, we desperately wish to get back to the Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness the Founding Fathers envisioned and we’re working together to assist in it’s return.