Saturday, July 24, 2010

Federalist No. 5: Operation Clean House

I was never very politically active as a child. I understood very little about the importance of civic duty, the political process, or what made this country so unique. I have yet to even participate in the voting process. In fact, my views when I was much much younger were so skewed I used to want the government to take of everyone. My mother used to jokingly call me her "little communist". Chalk it up to the naivete of a 10-year-old. I didn't understand where the money to pay for those things came from, or the measures needed to enforce those programs. Now that I understand a little better I see the world in a whole new light.

Fast forward to 2008. I guess it all started for me this past election with Obama vs. McCain. The funny thing was, the one time I was looking forward to actually being able to vote (I was too young for the 2000 elections, and out of the country for 2004), I couldn't bring myself to do it. As far as I was concerned, my choices were between someone who would destroy this country, and someone who would destroy this country a lot faster. I did not, for one second like or trust McCain. I had no confidence in Palin or Ron Paul (I still don't). I despised Huckabee for using anti-Mormon sentiment to oust Romney, and now that I know a little more about Romney's political history, I'm not so sure I would like him as President. (Secretary of Treasury definitely, but I digress). Hillary Clinton scared me, but Obama scared me even more.

Fast forward to today: with no help from me, Barack Hussein Obama is President of the United States. And look where that has got us today: corruption, oppression, and fear, as our Constitution hangs by a thread. He promised us hope, he promised us change, and all he demanded in return was our silent, obedient consent. I seek to end that silence. The Constitution may hang by a thread, but at the end of that thread is Damocles' sword. The question remains as to over whom does the sword hang? We the People? Or our political leaders?

America finds itself in a dire situation. While today modern military technology and tactics have made literal sieges obsolete, America finds itself under siege even today. While we may not see the trebuchets and battering rams of ancient warfare, or the gunships and heavy artillery of modern, America finds itself threatened on two fronts. The more obvious front is that of radical religious extremism and despotic governments from foreign countries that wish to not only strip their own people of liberty and sovereignty, but put an end to us as well by any means necessary. Understand: such powers do not feel threatened merely by the possibility or reality of our economic dominance or military might. It is our existence as a free and prosperous country that is an affront to tyranny, and a constant reminder to the peoples under such governments that they can and should be free! The difference between the old European model and the new American model is that the American model does NOT function on the principle that there are essentially two classes of people: those who govern and those who should be governed. Tyrants and despots around the globe are slowly but surely realizing the benefits of putting aside their differences and conspiring against what they see as a common threat to the status quo.

The second front is far more subtle and insidious, and thus in many ways far more dangerous. Over 200 years ago our nation was founded on the Principle that ALL men are created free and equal. Our Government was designed to ensure that men maintain that most hallowed condition by protecting them from the whims of those who overindulge the basic human drive to power and dominion. Our Founding Fathers knew that to trust individuals to always do the right thing was folly, and designed a system of government that relied, not on man’s ability to always do good, but on his desires to do that which is good for himself. They understood that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and that the best measure against one faction obtaining dominion over another was to simply give them all enough power and independence to resist each others' will.

And so it is -while calamity and crisis wear on the American spirit, and while enemies both foreign and domestic howl at the gates of American sovereignty- that groups of ambitious and self important individuals see an opportunity to make their bid for power and control a permanent one by undermining any attempts by the People to exercise their independence. These individuals hide like cowardly hypocrites behind ideals like justice, equality, and unity, all while executing more heinous injustices, promoting even greater inequality, and causing the country to be divided into unproductive and contentious factions. As many Americans make a stand against the immoral, the unethical, the unfair, and the unjust, these self-proclaimed “champions” of justice and equality cry afoul against such brave individuals with accusations of racism, homophobia, intolerance, ignorance, and hate-mongering. Rather then take advantage of their right to free speech in this country to try and persuade their opponents on the merit and truthfulness of their argument, (which should tell you something) they prefer instead to shame the People into silence via public humiliation, guilt, and ad hominem attacks. These so-called “defenders” of self-styled “victims” are in reality the greatest and vilest of hypocrites and tyrants, and will not stop until they have subjugated the American People to their will.

So what do we do? Violence is not the answer. Neither is revolution or secession. Our Founding Father's gave their lives fighting a revolution against the world's mightiest empire, so that we wouldn't have to. They fought to establish a system of government that would secure man's liberty. They paid a price so dear, that liberty and freedom to us should be as the air we breathe. So what do we do?

|[A]ll experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government." I do not believe for one second that we need a Second American Revolution. We have all the tools we need to right the despotic wrongs of a self-righteous and indifferent leadership. So what do we do?

The answer is simple, but not an easy one. It requires Americans to put aside their political and religious differences. It requires them to look past old grievances and work together towards a common cause. It requires We the People to send our leaders a straightforward and simple message. One man cannot do it alone, other than to cry out and rally the People together. What do we do?

I call the solution to our problem "Operation Clean House" and it is a very simple plan. Simply put: every incumbent in Congress and the White House MUST be voted out until every last one of them has been replaced with someone who has never served in before. We must impose our own term limits.

At this juncture I almost don't care who we vote for to replace them, though I offer the following recommendations as to who to look for. Seek good individuals with no history of corruption. Look for individuals who have shown thru their action the attributes of honesty, integrity, and thrift. Look for people whose political (and maybe even personal) lives are an open book. Let us replace our current leadership with better leadership. Let Americans take back their independence and sovereignty, and overthrow their oppressors, NOT by bloodshed nor violence, nor vain arguments and false accusations, but rather by the principles of democracy, truth and freedom that we must hold dearer than our very lives. Let us remind ourselves that we choose our destinies because we are FREE, and owe allegiance to no man! We are not Republicans, or Democrats, or Independents, or Libertarians, or Liberals or Conservative or TEA partiers. We are FREE AMERICANS, and as is our right let us vote out EVERY incumbent for their failure to adequately represent the interests of the American People.

The price of our freedom is eternal vigilance. It is the sacrifice of an easier, more secure lifestyle. I call upon Free Americans of every race, religion, tongue and creed to lay aside their differences and unite! Remember that what make us One People, "E pluribus unum", is our humanity, with all its foibles and virtues, our love of freedom and liberty, our understanding that despite our differences, we are all free and equal in the eyes of that Creator which made us free, and our capacity to succeed or fail according to our individual merit and our willingness to rise above our circumstance and accept responsibility for our choices. Let us raise the Standard of Liberty in our homes and in our communities in sacred memory of our Creator, our beliefs, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.

It is time to take back what is rightfully ours: our independence, our honor, our dignity, our integrity and our liberty. It is time for us to hang the Sword of Damocles over the heads of our leaders, starting with Congress. It is time for Operation Clean House.

Sic semper tyrannis


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Federalist No. 4: The times that try Men's Souls

These are the times that try men's souls. Those words, immortalized by the author of Common Sense, are as true today as they were some 230 years ago. In these troubled times, men and women find themselves turning to Him for whom the worth of souls is great. It should not be surprising to see an increased turnout in religious communities and places of worship. Whether you are Christian or Muslim or Jew, there is a peace and security that comes from turning to God and submitting one's will to Him. Unfortunately, that may turn out to be more of a problem than it is a solution.

If my experience in religious debate has taught me anything, it is that ultimately, people will believe what they wish to be true more than they will believe what is actually true. All too often, religion is used as a veil or justification to believe the things we want to, rather than the things we should; people believe what they want, irrespective of the Truth. This is true even amongst members of my own faith. One can believe the right things for the wrong reasons.

On both sides of the aisle are individuals willing to capitalize on this fact, in attempts to turn the People towards this political cause or that, simply by appealing to the spiritual wants and desires of individuals. We see various religions and their leaders propping themselves up as the solution to these times, while promising their congregants the low, low price of doing little more than singing contemporary-style music, clapping their hands, and making a meager contribution to the collection plate, in return for a placating sense of "feeling good" about one's beliefs and resulting lifestyle.

Never-mind that many of the adherents of these religions utilize logical fallacy and scripture-mining to support various untrue claims.Never-mind many of these contemporary religions and their members base themselves simply on the idea of "We are right because everyone else is wrong," or appeal to sentiments of anti-denominationalism and self-righteous hubris, denouncing traditional religious practices, norms, and values, while proclaiming themselves to be representative of "true" religion. Never-mind that many of these religions spend more time attacking and tearing down other faiths' practices and beliefs, than they do building up the kingdom of God.

Please bear in mind: I have nothing against organized religion. In fact, I am a staunch defender of organized religion, and readily defend the idea that man needs religion in his life to grow closer to his Creator. However, there can and should be room for healthy religious debate amongst the various sects, and even WITHIN the same denomination. Nor should this be construed in any way as a "my-religion-is-right-and-yours-is-wrong" argument. We all should worship Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, while allowing, and even encouraging, others the same privilege. And while I may disagree on key theological issues with Catholics, Jews, and Protestants, and other religions, I recognize and benefit from the merit of their arguments.

So how can religion do more harm than good? Traditionally, religion is a means of drawing closer to God; of learning His heart and mind and will, and learning how to better adhere to them. It is a community of fellow believers with the same goals and desires in mind. We attend the church we do because of our similar belief systems and anticipated outcomes as a result of our faithfulness to those beliefs.

In this lies the key in discerning "true religion". Not "THE true religion", but "true religion". The distinction here is important. The latter can never be satisfactorily answered except by individual experience. Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Protestants, etc, all feel the same way about their brand of religion: that is is THE true religion, while others are heretical or apostate in some way, shape, or form. The answer to that debate will never come to us except by God, and it is up to the individual to seek that answer for oneself.

The former, on the other hand, refers to the nature of religion, and its purpose to bringing us closer to our Maker, the Almighty Judge. "True religion" is defined by the types of behaviors it demands of its adherents, not the doctrines it expects them to believe. Indeed, doctrine is merely a tool of advancing changes in behavior. (This is where the original meaning of the term "indoctrinated" comes from -we are indoctrinated, i.e. instructed and trained to act a certain way according to certain beliefs.) Its value is derived from its efficacy in instilling life-changing behaviors. A doctrine or teaching that fails to do this is useless. True religion defines God in such a manner as to be in some manner approachable, whether it be by prayer, personal revelation, confession, saintly veneration, or sacramental ritual, so as to be better able to emulate Him. It encourages Godly attributes: humility, patience, faith, love, hope, obedience, meekness, and knowledge of the truth, and good works, to name a few. A sincere and devout Catholic who seeks these things is as much a part of "true religion" as a sincere and devout Mormon, Evangelical, Baptist, Jew, Buddhist, etc who sincerely seeks the same.

Where "true religion" become defiled or tarnished, is when it becomes a vehicle of political and ideological indoctrination. We are seeing this via a number of means: liberation theology, anti-denominational rhetoric, and the "mega-church" to name a few. Such churches focus less (if at all) on the things you do or the kind of person you are, and more on the things you believe. Theirs is a salvation by catechism, not a salvation by grace justified by faith and works. They promise much and ask little. All you need "to be saved" is clap your hands together, profess a certain belief (whether it be scriptural or not be damned), and you will have eternal life. These same religions will often attack more traditional religions for the good works they do, accusing them of faithlessness, Pharisaism, or self-righteousness. "All you need to do is believe", and by believe, they mean simply wishing it were so.

But wishing it were so does not make it true. As Gandhi said: "An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it". What is the truth? Well, that I leave to you the reader to discover for yourself. But beware of the group or community that demands blind adherence to politics and ideology. Beware the religion that teaches you to hear the word only, and not to BE both a hearer and a doer. And most importantly, beware of the religion that takes you away from God as an individual, and filters Him thru a collective relationship. It is the responsibility of the individual to draw towards His Maker, and develop a healthy relationship with his Creator. The collective cannot save you. The collective cannot bring you closer to God.

The pursuit of truth is a life-long discovery, one that is culminated in a lifetime of experiences, analysis, and good old fashioned trial-and-error. It is also a painful discovery, one that forces us to learn from our mistakes, to admit that we were wrong, and become better than who we were before. We do not have all the truth, nor do I expect we will have it all in this lifetime. But that should never discourage us from seeking as much truth as we possibly can. We must, "Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear". We must hold to the Truth and all its eternal principles, and we must speak those truths with civility and love and without fear.

God did not stop teaching us with the lives of the Jews and early Christians over 2000 years ago. We must believe all the truth that God revealed to us, all the truth He now reveals to us, and all the truth He WILL reveal to us. He teaches us yesterday, today, and tomorrow, so long as we are willing to learn.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Federalist No. 3 "The Divine Beauty of Trade"

More and more every day, American find themselves being lead by those who hide behind the banner of “the greater good” and “charity”, all while demanding more govt control, more political power, and more of your hard-earned tax dollars. War, or the moral equivalent of war, is used to unite mankind under a common cause, to make it easier to push for greater authority and control. Fear is used as a tool by the left and the right to sway the opinions of men, and to blind them to reality. The way to combat that fear, is to expose it to truth, and to support one another with love and compassion, in that truth.

The truth of the matter is this: in a society that does not value individual freedom and private property, “…the reach of the herald is the sound of his voice” (Aristotle). Simply put, governments based on the concepts of common good or concrete communal aims, can only serve to govern small bodies of individuals without the use of fear. Reliance on commonly perceived aims and dangers fails to govern larger bodies, as the greater number of individuals you have in a group, the more diverse their varied interests are, and with greater difficulty does it become to effectively govern them. This is common sense, or at least should be. How then, do you sustain a government that rules over a large body of diverse individuals with varying wants and needs in a manner that is both fair and just?

First: a crash course in economics. We live on a world of scarcity. It dominates our lives, determines our opportunities, and shapes our experiences. If I have an apple, you cannot eat it by the simple fact of reality that I already have. The laws of Nature and physics simply dictate: you cannot consume a resource for one purpose, and then hope to consume it again later. In short: you cannot eat your cake and have it to. And yet, despite this pervasive aspect of reality, there seems to be those who would say, like the French Queen, “Let them eat cake!” Economics is merely the consideration of two consequences that are derived from the reality of scarcity: the problem of allocation, and that of coordination.

Scarcity forces us to make choices. There are only so many hours in a day, and that forces people like you to choose how, when, and in what manner you will spend your time. Time spent sleeping is time not spent working and earning a living. Time spent working is time not spent in preferable leisure and recreation. Scarcity forces everyday people like us to make choices about how we will allocate our time, what we will consume, and when, and whether you will save now so you can enjoy later.

Implied in all theses choices are of course the costs of such choices. Opportunities taken now naturally mean opportunities forgone at the same moment. The cost of work is the 8 hours you could spend doing something else. The cost of a choice is that which we give up when the choice is made.

In a world of scarcity, and the choices imposed by it, the question of allocation is a real and serious one. Who decides what goods and services go to whom, and why? Do we allocate on the basis of first come-first-serve? By random choice? Lottery? Tribal or political affiliations? Executive fiat? Perceived relative need? We can quickly reason out that no matter our choice of allocation, scarcity will STILL exist, and choices will still need to be made at a cost.

And thus we return to our original question: How, do you govern over a large body of diverse individuals with varying wants and needs in a manner that is both fair and just, especially now in light of the very harsh reality of scarcity?

All of human history will prove that where the idea of private, or several, property exists and is protected, along with individual freedom to use his property as he sees fit, civilization has prospered; and where such ideas have been stamped out by central economic planning (i.e govt control), such civilizations have withered away. Civilization is not merely a product of evolution –it is a process of establishing a sound and reliable framework of rules and laws that protect individual freedom and private property.

In this regard trade is almost supernatural in its ability to generate wealth and prosperity. Suppose for example you and I both wanted the apple I had in my possession. Among the various methods of obtaining my apple (guilting me into giving it to you at my expense, stealing it, or killing me to obtain it) by far the most civilized manner is to merely offer me something I value more than the apple itself that is yours to give (perhaps an orange or banana that you have in your possession that you value less than the apple). Thru engaging in such transactions, each of has taken something of value from someone else, something that has been given freely, and yet the net result is that we are BOTH BETTER OFF in terms of personal gratification and happiness. When both of us acted in self-interest, we both mutually benefited, despite the claims of self-proclaimed champions of altruism (i.e. your Marxists, socialists, communists, etc).

In the real world, a safe assumption is that everyone acts out of genuine self-interest. Altruism, while a nice ideal, is not a reliable means of predicting human behavior, and is not a dependable means of governance (you cannot govern a large body of individuals with nothing more than the hope that they will "do the right thing" simply because). Self-interest, however is both these things. People will always act in their own self-interest, unless adequate (and often tyrannical) incentives are provided to encourage otherwise.

Govt control, or central planning, does not work for this very reason: either it will ignore self-interest, and pretend that everyone (or at least, the ruling elite), acts out of selfless altruism, which then results in corrupt and self-interested politicians rising to power and receiving a blind eye to their selfish and destructive behavior; or self-interest is viewed as a threat and in diametric opposition to Utopian altruism, and thus ever-increasingly Draconian measures are exercised in order to provide the aforementioned incentives towards altruism.

Opponents to what Friedrich Hayek called the extended order of economics (capitalism) will argue that such exchanges lack charity, as you are giving something only in exchange for something you value in return. However, such arguments overlook the very obvious fact that even philanthropists are engaged in a willful exchange, for clearly they value the warm-fuzzy feeling that comes with the charitable act of giving more than they value what they have given away. Thus, an exchange has occurred, albeit a less tangible or visible one. In many ways, this is no different than paying money for services rendered to please us such as having our food prepared for us, or our car washed. ALL individuals, even the humble and sincere philanthropist, act in self-interest, for if he did not benefit from such an act of charity, why do so at all? That as outsiders we cannot perceive the benefit obtained by the act, does not diminish that he still benefits from the act in some way, whether it be obtaining the fame and notoriety that comes with philanthropy, or a "feel-good" sensation taught to him by the traditions and morals of his upbringing.

In making such arguments, one should not suppose that I lack certain altruistic tendencies or desires, shared by proponents of social planning (socialism). If anything, my support of the extended order only demonstrates my own altruism and compassion, for without the civilization that would clearly cease to exist without the extended order of free markets, millions of human beings would find themselves subject to poverty and death. There is a distinction to be made between unenlightened self-interest (selfishness or greed), and enlightened self-interest. The former is a character failing that inevitably leads to human suffering if left unchecked. The latter is simply the humble recognition that our our needs and wants should be met first in order that we might be more suited to satisfy the needs and wants of our neighbors. Even Christ found himself needing time away from the masses, begging him for healing and food, so that he could draw closer to His Father in Heaven and recharge His capacities to do good unto them.

The free market system is able to govern large bodies of diverse individuals with varying wants and needs, and to do so without "breaking my leg, nor picking my pocket". The divine beauty of trade allows one to seek his own wants and needs, as he satisfies the wants and needs of others.


Federalist No. 2 "Our Indpendence"

Growing up, my parents -my father especially- tried to instill in me a sense of self-sufficiency and the skills necessary to care for myself. My father would always say "I'm not always going to be there to help take care of you". This ominous warning of the inevitable served to teach me a valuable lesson about the importance of independence.

Today we live in a world that more and more sees dependence as a virtue, rather then a vice. The value of teaching a man to fish has been replaced with the ease of simply giving him the day’s fish. This is to be expected in a world where instant gratification is no longer viewed as impetuous or immature, but instead prudent and sensible. Why bother taking all that time to teach the poor man to fish? After all, he is starving now, and I can afford it. And besides, he probably can’t even learn how to fish. It is so much simpler to just give him the fish. And if he becomes dependent upon me to keep giving him fish, well, than that is just the sacrifice we have to make. Too often is this a common trend seen in well-intentioned, albeit misguided, individuals who advocate dependency as an unintentional, but necessary, byproduct of charity. Such advocates focus too much on what such dependency means for the depended and very little (if at all) on what it means on the dependent. Dependency is a spiritual ill. It weakens the faculties of the mind and soul. Dependency will corrupt a man and make him incapable of providing himself the simplest of needs. It is a debaser of humanity that puts him on the road to serfdom and slavery. Teach a man to fish, and you will feed him for a life time. Feed a man a fish, and not only will you merely forestay his starvation for another day, but you will enable him to become dependent on your subsistence. Which of the two outcomes seems more charitable?

Our Founding Fathers created a system of government designed to preserve our independence by declaring their own independence from a system of government that viewed them as subjects, not citizens, and that demanded their submission and obedience in exchange for the protections of the crown. Freedom cannot exist without accountability, and accountability does not exist without independence. This may explain our natural tendency towards dependency, given our natural aversion to accountability. But to give in to such tendencies results in the ultimate loss of freedom. Dependence on any body of government is the true opiate of the masses. It deprives us of our God-given liberty and agency, and like real opium, addicts us to its promises of security. To become dependent is to become a slave.

This does not mean that we cannot or should not help each other. We all at some point find ourselves depending on a helping hand to lift us up. Be it as children under the loving guidance of our parents, or as students receiving mentor-ship from the more learned and experience professor, or even the simple dependency of friends and loved ones in times of need, we ALL depend on someone at some point in our life. However, if anything, this should encourage independence so as to be able to become that hand that lifts the heavy heart, and strengthens the feeble knees. That dependence is as natural a state for man to be in from time to time as are death and illness make it no more desirable than either. In our quest for charity, we should diligently seek to banish dependence from our own lives and from those we would benefit. We should teach the man to fish.

A system of government that taxes one group to pay for the benefits and needs of another is not charity, but rather legalized looting. “Justice denies that the loss of freedom by some is made right by the greater good of others.” (John Rawls). Such systems appeal to our baser natures, by giving us cause to blame the wealthy and the prosperous for their wealth and possessions, and thus lay claim upon them. They allow us to hold someone else accountable, all for the simple price of submitting to their rule. And they are doomed to fail at some point for the same reason my father insisted I work towards complete and total independence –because someday, our benefactors will no longer be there.

All dependent, or dole, states will one day eventually find themselves deprived of their patrons. Even the wealthy grow old and die, or far more likely, tired of working for fruits they can never reap. Long before they die, those who provide to those who consume will eventually grow tired of their labors, and then demand that they be given the same recompense they doled out in life. With dependency comes the temptation to become more dependent, and with it, the incentive to give up one’s independence for the security of dependence. Why work when someone will provide for you, guaranteed, as they have for others? The number of taxable providers dwindles, and the government that so early promised the fruits of someone else’s labors finds itself with three choices: 1) Taxing the poor, (counter-productive to the dole society; 2) Forcing people to work so they can be taxed (slavery), or 3) diminishing or denying benefits (look at Greece and see how well THAT one takes…) None of these choices is desirable to a society dependent on the government to care for it.

In a society that adopts the doctrine of independence, will there be those who abuse it to justify their own selfish tendencies? Will there be men of such a callous nature as to deny someone in sincere and dire need, and hide behind the pretense of encouraging independence and self-sufficiency? Of course. But we can no more punish society with slavery for the selfishness of a few than we can punish a child for the sins of the father. To do so is a greater injustice than the one performed by the heartless miser who turns the beggar out at doors.

Charity is not the role of the government, but rather the role of its citizenry. If we truly wish to be charitable, let us, as individuals, donate our time and our resources to teaching the man to fish.