Pride

I am having my 42nd birthday and my wife and mother think I may be experiencing an early “mid-life crisis.”  I don’t know if that is what this is, but for those of you who haven’t experienced whatever this is yet, it is quite an interesting time in life.  I don’t call it a mid-life crisis though, I call it a “mid-life enlightenment” — that’s what it feels like to me anyway.  In my humble opinion, here’s how Life goes:

1.  You know nothing.  (Age 1-3)

2.  You Realize you know nothing.  (Age 4-6)

3.  You Learn some things… and grow.  (Age 7-12)

4.  You think you know a lot.  (Age 13- 16)

REPEAT STEP 2 (Adulthood)

2.  You Realize you know nothing.  (Age 16)

3.  You Learn some things… and grow. (Age 17-22)

4.  You think you know a lot. (Age 23-40 for me)

REPEAT STEP 2 (Mid-Life Enlightenment)

2.  You Realize you know nothing.  (Age 40)

3.  You Learn some things… and grow. (Age 41-?)

And that’s where yours truly is on the journey of Life.  For any of you further along, can you do me a favor?  Tell me, at what age did you reach #4 again?

The ancient Oracle said that I was the wisest of all the Greeks.  It is because I alone, of all the Greeks, know that I know nothing.” – Socrates

When I look at our political discourse, I certainly can see that we make the same mistake again later in life, I’m just not sure as to what age that occurs… tell me, at what age do you think you got it all figured out and run for re-election every year?

He knows nothing and thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.” – George Bernard Shaw

I tell you the truth, I sure wish we had some mid-forty somethings running this country.

“He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.” – Thomas Jefferson

I wonder sometimes who will figure it out first, the Democrats or the Republicans… or will some third party usher in the solution we all know must come?  In my view, it is Pride that prevents it… and some Fear thrown in.  But mostly, what keeps us from realizing the answer, is Pride.

Democrats are too proud to admit that their “War on Poverty” vision of the Great Society, one under the notion that if we “help” our citizenry by giving them welfare checks from the federal government, that if we just take from our working and give it to those who aren’t, that if we just follow this game plan a little longer, then we’ll all grow – we’re too proud to see that this is a political vision destined for failure.  And Republicans are too proud to realize that their “Trickle-Down Economic” model, with the notion that if we just cut taxes on our wealthy we’ll be able to “grow” our way out of debt, that if we just give the wealthy lower taxes and go more in debt just a little longer, then the rich will employ our poor and we’ll all grow – we’re too proud to see that this is a political vision destined for failure.  We the People are too proud to admit the simple truth that they don’t work.  We Americans hate to be wrong… so we resign ourselves to arguing about how we are right.  No wait, we don’t even do that anymore, we don’t look at us.  No longer comfortable with our position, we now only argue that the other side is wrong...

“Errors of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.” – Thomas Jefferson

Pride with a little Fear thrown in, that’s a tough nut to crack.  And then of course, Greed and Envy – it’s why we don’t want to see the flaw in our logic, why we don’t want the truth to be true.  It’s election time again America – time to pick our poison, time to choose Greed or Envy, time to rally behind whichever wrong answer we prefer, and then cast our vote…  Makes me think that there must be a better way.

Greed is what tells us that a “fair” tax would in fact be fair.  “Abolish income taxes!” we argue, even though we know that this would shift a greater percentage of the tax burden to our poorer citizens.  But we choose to believe that doesn’t hurt the collective Us.  We lower taxes on capital gains and dividends so as not to count it in income tax, expand tax “incentives” for corporations, and reduce the maximum income tax bracket from topping out at those making over $80 million/year in 1936 to topping out at 0.38 million/year today (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_tax_in_the_United_States) .  We stop asking our wealthy to pay more and instead, we lower the highest rate from 79% in 1936 to 35% today, reduce the taxes on capital gains and dividends (things our poor don’t experience), and keep our corporate tax breaks in place… We’ve replaced higher taxes on our wealthy with lower taxes on our wealthy, refusing to raise taxes on even our multimillionaires and billionaires.  And as we bankrupt our nation, we argue that our actions are actually helping “Us.”  For to do otherwise, to admit that we’d be better off with a capitalist system that taxes our wealthier citizens to achieve a balanced budget, to admit that our forefather’s vision of the 16th amendment was actually right… to admit that… well, that would mean that we would also have to admit we were wrong.

“These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert, to fleece the people.” — Abraham Lincoln
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And Envy.  Envy is what tells us that our government welfare programs are in fact promoting our general welfare.  In our delusion, we somehow convince ourselves that if we extend unemployment benefits to 99 weeks we can put people back to work.  And if we provide free food, housing, and healthcare to our poor they will then magically decide to put their nose to the grindstone, apply themselves, and reach their potentials.  It is Envy that causes us to take from our successful and hand it to our unsuccessful.  For to do otherwise, to admit that we’d be better off providing a path out then a hand out, to admit that our founder’s vision of limited federal government in the Constitution was actually right… to admit that… well, that would mean that we would also have to admit we were wrong.

I have no respect for the passion of equality, which seems to me merely idealizing envy.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Which party do you think will see our path forward first?  There are people on both sides that are starting to move away from the 15 thousand thousand million dollar debt plan… this could be encouraging.  Sometimes I still manage some optimism and keep up hope.  After all, FDR said:

In politics, nothing happens by accident.  If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.

So maybe this is all happening on purpose.  Maybe going bankrupt is how we break free of our wrong course.

“To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.” – Leonard Bernstein

The Constitutionalism movement within the Republican party is promising.  With candidates like Ron and Rand Paul, maybe the Republicans will be the first to figure out that Limited government is still the right answer.  That Constitutional amendments “defining” marriage, morning after pill legislation attempts, No Child Left Behind agendas, Drug laws, and “Patriot” acts… maybe the Republican party will finally re-discover that these government intrusions into arenas it has no business being are not in our collective self-interest.  If these Republicans can also re-discover that taxes need to come from our wealthy, they might just be the ones to bring us into tomorrow.

“I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion.” – Thomas Jefferson

And the Democrats show a little promise too – they got those “Blue Dog” democrats – fiscal conservatives they say.  Maybe they will be the first to couple their plan to tax our wealthy with a complete overhaul of government “welfare” to remove federal check disbursing from the plan.  If the Blue Dog democrats can let go of the power of the government welfare program, if they can instead fund private enterprise to train and employ people, and if they can re-discover that Keynesian Economics demands that we use our borrowed money to invest in our children rather than our seniors, they might just be the ones to bring us into tomorrow.

My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy

So what do you think, who will figure it out first?  Or should I say.. who will figure it out again?

Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse.” – George Washington

Man I tell ya, I love that quote – says everything in one sentence.

I’ll tell you who I think will re-discover our course… In my humble opinion, I think neither.  I suspect that we actually will go bankrupt first.  That’s my bet – I’ll take even money if you’re interested.  I’m not sure you’ll be able to pay me after I win the bet though, so let’s keep the wager light.  Most regrettably and with a broken heart, this is the future I see.  I am one of those “dooms-dayers” who actually believes that if we borrow more than ever before in our history, if we have more debt than the rest of the world combined (http://www.usadebtclock.com/national-debt-facts.php), if we borrow over $50,000 per head on every grandpa, grandma, dad, mom, boy and girl that we have, and then have an economy that relies on even more borrowing to meet our future obligations…. that yes, we will fail.  I’m “crazy” I know.  I must be.  Or else…

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Yes it’s true, I suspect we will follow the likes of the Ottoman Empire, the Soviet Union, and present day Greece — broke, hungry, and desperate and asking our government “Why?”  I look in the mirror… and I see why.  We are too proud, too greedy, and too envious to allow a course change.  Or maybe we just have to actually experience it in order to even care.  Whatever the case, we just keep voting for one of the wrong courses, and hope things will change…

Who’s more foolish; the fool, or the fool who follows him?” – Obi Wan Kenobi

It is interesting to me, my political perspective these days.  In fact, it has changed my entire outlook on life – not necessarily worsened it, just changed it.  Politics never really mattered to me until now.  And my Dad’s stories about farm life in Minnesota during the 1930’s and 40’s, struggling to eat and stay warm, they take on new meaning now.  I have a greater respect for my ancestors today, those who still managed life the last time We the People bankrupted ourselves.  Thank the Lord, I have a 1960’s house that I own outright and rent out – my family can move there if need be.  Also, my wife’s family has a small home in the mountains that has a well, a generator, and wildlife around – that could be a good fall back plan too, we love you MeMe!

Yes my friend, that’s how my mind works these day.  I ponder what America’s next chapter will be like – not with an attitude of Fear, but with a mind toward reason.  I think about my kids and how best I can provide for them in the next America.  I imagine that national bankruptcy is our future… because most of the time and with a healthy look at the reality around us, I think it is.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.” — Dr. Seuss

I wonder if we’ll call it the “Great Depression II” or if we’ll find a different title for the history books this time.  I do feel like FDR is calling Us from the grave, telling Us to abandon Government Welfare and Trickle Down Economics, begging us not to go bankrupt again, and we just can’t stop arguing long enough to hear him…

“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another.”Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

“It isn’t sufficient just to want – you’ve got to ask yourself what you are going to do to get the things you want.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

“One thing is sure. We have to do something. We have to do the best we know how at the moment… If it doesn’t turn out right, we can modify it as we go along.” – Franklin D Roosevelt

Verily I tell you, I hear those words. 

He that have an ear, let him hear.

I remember a story I once heard about an Island Civilization that destroyed itself because it removed all of its forests and, without the trees, the civilization could not survive and died off.  And I remember the storyteller commenting, “I wonder what they were thinking when they chopped down that last tree?

Maybe it was that book “The Tipping Point,” or Al Gore’s movie, or maybe it was a sermon I heard, I can’t remember.  Whatever the case, I still remember the image I had in my mind when I heard the story.  I pictured some islander, doing what he and his generation had been doing for as long as he could remember, chopping down trees.  “No, no” he would say.  “I know we will be all right.  Don’t give me your ‘doomsday scenarios’ – I’m quite certain everything will be all right.”  Chop, chop, chop…  like a scene out of “The Lorax.”

That’s how I feel about America today, we just forgot how to do anything except chop trees.  And so we borrow, borrow, borrow and spend another year voting for the same political platforms.  I am trying to prepare myself best I can for the day when the last tree falls – the day when they stop lending us money.  To be fair, that day is pretty much here.  I should say, the day we realize that we can’t just print more money and continue like nothing’s wrong…

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.” – Winston Churchill

And then I think, “What is it going to look like after the bankruptcy?”  Makes for interesting discussion – interesting to me anyway.  I realize that, for the most part, I’m alone on wanting to discuss it… thus the blog.  At least here I can tell my Creator and my society, “Hey, I care…”

All that’s necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

My new enlightenment makes the Bible take on even another meaning for me… for the Bible speaks of failing societies continually.  It is the message of the Prophets.  I’m paraphrasing here I know, but the Prophet’s message always goes like this:

Hey Goofballs!  Hey You!  Hey Dumby over there in the red coat – stop for a second and listen up!   You see, I got a message that, if you want your civilization to continue, if you want your kids to be able to prosper, if you want your people to live, you must hear and heed!  I know you don’t want to hear it but, you see, that doesn’t matter because it’s here just the same.  So here it is:  I assure you, if you don’t change your course, your civilization will fall. 

For you have become a people of Envy, trying to take from your neighbor to provide for you, and you are not supposed to covet they neighbor’s goods.  And you have become a people of Greed, trying to hoard your money while neglecting the plight of the poor around you.  You are supposed to care for your less fortunate, to nurture them back to health, and you are supposed to understand that ‘to him who has been given much, much will be required.’ 

You have become a people of Pride, refusing to believe that this is true, and so you continue your doomed course.  If you want to live, repent!  Change!  Alter your course, take this heading over here.  Repent I tell you.  And here’s some Good News — the yoke is light.  You just need to stop taking from your neighbor and have your wealthy be generous.  It’s not that hard People!”

Like I say, I’m paraphrasing.  But it is the story of the prophets, Sodom and Gomorrah, Greed and Envy, destroyer of nations.  The Prophet’s story ends, and his words are interpreted as God will stop blessing the nation, or God will destroy it, or the people will destroy themselves… however you decide to translate it, the end is always the same:  If you continue traveling off course, you will not reach your destination.  There’s a quote from yours truly.

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” – Winston Churchill

We need a Prophet today America… and we need to listen to the Prophet.  For we are intertwined in a triad of Greed, Envy, and Pride that is destroying us.  Anybody else out there want to vote for a new course?  Anybody else ready to retry our “Roaring 20’s” course, but this time, embrace some necessary regulation of the banking industry?  Anybody else humble enough to admit our government welfare programs and trickle down economics theories should be abandoned for something different?  Because if so, I think it’s about time that We the People came up with a candidate – I’ll write him or her in I promise, just tell me what name to write…

Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us.  The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.  – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Maybe together, we can get the Us back on track…

“You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.” – Winston Churchill

Yours in Faith.

Old America

He knows nothing and thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.” – George Bernard Shaw

Years from now, if my grandchildren approach me and say,

“Grandpa, why did America fail?  Why would you allow it?  It seems to us that, if the People had the ability to vote their course, they would choose to vote for one that would allow the collective Us to live, to survive, to excel.  So why didn’t you do that?  Tell us Grandpa, what can we do to prevent making the same mistake?”

I know what I will say:

My young cherubs, this is a good question, and you are wise to seek the answer.  Make no mistake, the answer I give you today is worthy of putting in the annals of history.  For we must learn from our mistakes if we are to grow, if we are to be successful, if we are to live to reach our proper destiny.  Our individual lives are short and, as such, we must listen to our ancestors if we are to hear our soul… if the collective Us is to mature.  We must slow down enough to study them and then quiet ourselves enough to hear them.  We must acknowledge that we are but a child of them.  We must leave our arrogance, cast away our desire to be right, and admit that we are ignorant.  Only then will we see the light, the path forward… only then will we truly learn.  And lastly, we must have the courage to apply what we discover to our present.

These are not simple tasks, for they go against our nature.  I warn you, the odds of you being able to do this are set against you.

Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history.” – George Bernard Shaw
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My young cherubs, I will now give you what you seek.  The reason the America of old failed is that it’s political process was broken, and we refused to recognize it.  We were too proud to admit that our position was unsound.  And we were fearful – those who recognized the truth failed to act on the news.
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You see, Man naturally fears change – we always resist it.  It is why most of us refuse to listen to anyone who advocates it, even when our very soul knows that it is needed.
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This is what happened to old America, we succumbed to fear, we refused to live, we decided to believe the lies we were told…  because to refute them would mean not only admitting we were wrong, but to change.  The nature of man is pride, and man always resists change.
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Rather than following our soul, our spirit, our inner self, we accepted that we had only two choices.  Rather than acknowledging the nature of Man, rather than admitting our wrongdoing, rather than embracing the necessary change that would be required, we decided to argue that we were right.  Despite all evidence to the contrary, we held our course.
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Nothing so obstinately stands in the way of all sorts of progress as pride of opinion. While nothing is so foolish and baseless.” – J. G. Holland
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You see, every four years We the People were given a “choice.”  We went to the voting booths and they would ask Us,

“So which do you want to vote for this time, Greed or Envy?”

And instead of saying neither, we cast our vote…

Government Regulations vs. Government Programs

There is “good” government and “bad” government and, for us to move forward as a nation, we must recognize the difference.  As I look into the world and our country’s political history, there’s an axiom I discover:  Government Regulations are “good” government, and Government Programs are “bad” government – almost to a tee, it’s that simple.  Government regulations that intend to prevent us from experiencing another failure, the proverbial red tape that bridles capitalism and ensures a proper playing field, typically exist for good reason.  Like a red-guarded switch in a cockpit, we usually want to leave the red stuff alone.  An old pilot saying is, “If it’s shiny and clean and you haven’t touched it, touch it.  If it’s dusty and red, leave it alone.”

There are certainly exceptions but for the most part, when we take a look at red tape of government regulation, we want it there.  At a minimum, we want to keep the reason it was put there.  Government regulations which set the environment in which the capitalist operates, legislation like lending rules and regulations, equal employment mandates, workplace legislation, minimum wage laws, Food and Drug Safety laws, IRA tax legislation encouraging retirement savings, the Glass-Steagall act enacted after the financial collapse in 1929, repealed in 1999 before our 2008 financial collapse, and then re-instated in the resulting Dodd-Frank legislation  – these government regulations are “good” government.  Red tape is good, leave it alone.

“These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert, to fleece the people. – Abraham Lincoln

Government Programs, however, are just the opposite.  Time and again they prove their inefficiency, lack of worth, and destructive nature.  The government program loses to the capitalist one every time.  This should not surprise us – a system that monopolizes control to the government will lose to a system in which the government only sets the stage and private industry determines the best answer.  Call it “natural selection” or “survival of the fittest,” the simple truth is this:  Competition breeds excellence.  This truth should not surprise us.  America, better than anyone, understands the power of limited government and private enterprise – at least, we used to.  The resulting corollary is that non-competing Government Programs will lose.  This is why and how we won the Cold war – we used this Truth to our advantage until the government programs of communist Russia failed, until their people were standing in government bread lines with no bread inside the store.  Government programs are inherently flawed as they are a monopoly unable to adjust to the world around them, a service not reliant on good performance for its revenue, and from a party not accountable to anyone for their mistakes.  We should stay away from them whenever possible – Government Programs are “bad” government.

“A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.” – Thomas Jefferson

Case in point:  Let’s take a real look at our Social Security government program.  Initially designed as a part of the “New Deal” to assist the disabled and elderly who had lost everything in the economic collapse of 1929, it is now a glaring example as to why Government Programs are “bad” Government.  As with most government programs, the Government retirement program sounds good when you hear it:

“12.4% on every paycheck in your life is put away in a safe investment with your friendly government.  These monies will cover you with government provided disability insurance payments in the event you can no longer work, as well as provide a defined government benefit in retirement if you are able to work until your golden years.”

What a great idea, right?  All government programs sound nice – that’s why the Sirens were so alluring, they sounded nice.  The Vision of the 1960’s, the idea that we could fight our problems with a federal program to fix it, the notion that we should entrust government with our livelihood… I suppose We didn’t yet understand the difference between “Good” and “Bad” government – or more accurately, we forgot the lesson.  Oh America, how did you ever get seduced by that crazy lie and deception called Government Programs?  You of all nations should have known better….

“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” – Thomas Jefferson

But can’t we see it today?  Can we recognize the sweet sound of government programs as a Siren Song?

Today, our Social Security government program eats up 25% of our current tax revenue through payroll taxes.  Payroll taxes were raised in 1956 to 4% of salary (2% individual, 2% employer) and in 2012 the rate is 12.4% (6.2% individual, 6.2% employer) with Congressional “tax cuts” now and again because most of us realize that penalizing an employer who hires an American stunts job growth in America.  So we just go further in debt.  Here is where our Social Security program is today:  Dollars available in our government “Social Security Trust Fund:” $0.  Dollars owed to our account:  $2.6 trillion.  Debtor owing the money:  Us.

The end state of this course is completely visible if we but choose to see it.  In Greece, the employer’s contribution of payroll tax amounts to 28.06% of salary, and the employee’s contribution is 16%.  They have raised the taxes on their working and employers so much that they simply now have unemployed people and bankrupt businesses – and no money to give their retired to boot.  Their unemployment rate is 18.2%, their credit is junk, and their nation is bankrupt.  It is our eventual destination as well if we fail to change course.

History, in general, only informs us of what bad government is.” – Thomas Jefferson

As in Greece, our Government has slowly but surely indebted not only us, but our children and grandchildren, to the Government.  We are again enslaved.  Our government spent all of our retirement money, borrowed more on the “good credit” of our children, and continues this tack today.  What will it take for us to realize that borrowing for more Government Programs is not good for the collective us?  In 2011, as our working class no longer could support our obligations to our elderly, we had to draw $46 billion from the Social Security “Trust Fund.”  Next year the drain is projected to be $212 billion.  We pretend like there is a Social Security Trust Fund to draw from but there is not – our Government spent the $2.6 trillion dollars that were supposed to be in it.  Should we be surprised?  We were not meant to live this way — we aren’t meant to have a government take care of us.

“I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion.” – Thomas Jefferson

If only we would have been allowed to keep those funds away from the government, if we would have been able to put them into a retirement account and told to plan for our own retirement, we would be better off – after all, that’s how we’re supposed to live.  I would rather take care of myself than count on a government to do so – particularly when that government’s plan is for my kids to pay for me.  I wouldn’t mind being forced by the government to plan for my own retirement if we find that not enough people are doing so.  If “Good” government had forced me, through law and regulation, to put 6.2% of my paychecks into a private retirement fund, if said regulations defined the disability and unemployment insurance minimums that my fund must meet or exceed, if the private retirement fund had my name on it and no one from the government could touch it, if it was heavily regulated so that the private entity holding the funds could not invest it in risky investments, I would be well on my way toward paying for myself in my retirement – we all would.  But as it is, we have nothing.  And everything we give gets recorded as debt that we owe.  The government took our money, spent it, and then gave the bill to our children.

“I have no fear that the result of our experiment will be that men may be trusted to govern themselves without a master.” – Thomas Jefferson

This entire notion that my child will pay for me, that my government will ensure that I’m taken care of by my kids and grandkids, churns my stomach.  The suggestion that if we just raise payroll taxes more we can “fix” the government retirement program, makes my jaw hurt.  I see why some refer to Social Security as a “Ponzi Scheme” but, whatever you wish to call it, we must come to the realization that it needs to be replaced with a private sector solution – and the sooner the better.  In a private solution with necessary government regulation, the $2.6 trillion we worked so hard for might still be there for us – we may well have avoided a couple wars in the meantime.

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.” – Thomas Jefferson

In my industry, the airline industry, every competitor has been forced to scrap its defined benefits retirement programs and shift to a retirement plan that pays into a separately managed 401k account.  Airline businesses did this, not because they wanted to increase their large profit margins and make even more money, they did it because they were going to go bankrupt otherwise.  They realized the truth that a business can’t survive if it is unable to determine future costs – they must pay those costs as they go.  Must our government actually die before we can apply this same truth to US?

Let’s honestly ask ourselves some questions:

Are we better served with a Government Postal Service program, or a contract with the private sector to determine whether Fedex, UPS, or some other up and comer should perform services?

Are we better served by no-bid government contracts to pre-determined businesses and union shops, or a system in which competitors are able to make their case and we contract the government-funded project to the most competitive bid?

Are we better served by a Government Schooling program, or by earmarked education funds to go to qualified private schools, regulated by government, that allow parents to choose which school best fits their child’s needs?  A system in which the schools compete to help you determine what one best prepares your child for life?

How come we can answer the question, “are we better served with a Government program providing us cell service or by private industry competing for our business?” correctly, but we cannot apply this same principle to our existing government programs?  It doesn’t matter where or when you ask the question, throughout the history of man, the answer is always the same and the political lesson is absolutely clear – Monarchy, Autocracy, Democracy, Fascism, Communism, Socialism, Liberalism, you name it because it doesn’t matter, the lesson is always the same:

If it’s ever possible for you to prevent your future well being from lying in the hands of the Government, if it’s ever possible for you to actually take control of your own future and well being,

if it’s ever possible to limit the Government solely to law and regulation that defines and provides a safe and fair system in which you can excel,

than by all means do so.

Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson
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America, we are not stuck to this course that we’re on.  There is no government bureaucracy that We the People can’t fix.  Because, in the end, after it’s all said and done, we vote.
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“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
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So let’s acknowledge the difference between good and bad government, between federal regulations and federal programs.  Let’s stop lumping the “good” government of Government Regulation and red tape in with the “bad” government of Government Programs and bureaucracy, for they are entirely and completely different things.  Their application is not at all the same, and their value charts trend in completely opposite directions.  This is the point I wish to make today, to highlight the difference between “Good” and “Bad” Government.  We knew this fact once, and this was why we were so weary of a large military…. but I digress.
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For today, the point is this:  The Great Depression, which ended our period of the “Roaring 20’s”, was not due to the lack of government programs, it was due to the lack of government regulations.  And we went off course when we responded with programs… and then further off course when we reacted to the socialist programs with “trickle down” economics and calls for a “fair tax.”  Good Government is the regulation and legislation that provides the red tape to define the environment in which private industry is to operate.  “Bad” Government is the program that prevents private industry involvement, stifles competition, and puts power into the hands of the government instead of the people.  It is the good government that keeps us from bankruptcy and self-destruction, and the bad government that attempts to bankrupt and destroy us.

 

Why America lost her Way

“My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place.” – Jeremiah 50:6

It’s apparent that America has lost her way – our treasury is worse than empty, it is overflowing with debt.  Our people are not only disenfranchised with their station in life, but with their lack of opportunity to better it.  Our national debt exceeds 15 trillion dollars, our Social Security Fund is bankrupt, and our citizens occupy the streets… filing for government aid to get them through tomorrow.  Our politicians are unwilling to balance our budget and, lacking Vision for what we are trying to achieve, they enact legislation to increases our debt even further.  But it is not enough to realize we are lost – recognizing the symptoms does not cure the disease.  Observing America’s current state of affairs does not reveal the solution, nor does it serve to change our course.  In order to affect positive change, we must understand why America lost her way.

“Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.” – Confucius

It is only when we look to why our founders insisted on a limited government and why our forefathers penned income tax as the 16th Amendment that we also discover why our nation is failing today.  We can witness the current downfall of Greece and remember the collapse of the Soviet Union… we can note that government welfare programs are ineffective, government retirement programs go bankrupt, government officials amass wealth and power… we can observe as individuals flock to register for government unemployment, disability, food stamps, housing, and other government paycheck disbursement programs… and we can see working taxpayers protest.  But it is not until we see why these things are happening that we can begin to chart a better course.

 “A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
 
The reason why federal aid programs fail is that they seek to replace goodness with government, love with law, charity with taxation.  And Man is not meant to live this way.  Throughout the annals of history, civilizations have always perished when they have tried such a thing.  Not simply because government is inept, inflexible, and corruptible, but because it is not the way of our creation.  For us to see why government aid programs fail to bring upon a “Great Society,” we must not only look to the statistics which display as much.  We must look to the fact that we are trying to eliminate “please” and “thank you” from our lexicon, trying to replace goodness with legislation, trying to replace charity with entitlement, God with government.  Instead of trying to better the course of man through mentorship, charity, and opportunity, federal aid programs try to alter the course of man via a faceless entity called government – and we are meant to experience the former.  We are supposed to encounter hardships, to learn from them, and then to emulate the mentors who help us to get back on track.  We need these things in our society.  Once we can accept this, we can see why our government aid programs are failing and perhaps, we may once again discover the courage to eliminate them – to remove them from our society, to repeal them, to walk away from this failed vision… and find our way forward.
 
“We have a system that increasingly taxes work and subsidizes nonwork.” – Milton Friedman
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Similarly, we can recall the days of extreme family wealth coupled with vast poverty and long for a better America… we can remember that this country has always had to fight for equal opportunity for its lower classes… we can observe the Occupy Wall Street movement of the 99%ers… we can recognize that in order for new entrepreneurs to bloom, old entrepreneurs must provide them an opportunity to do so.  But it is not until we see why.that we can embrace the notion that the wealthiest of us must give a higher percentage to balance our budget, to further our society, to promote our Body.

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” – Acts 20:35

The reason why “fair tax” structures are infeasible and undesirable to us as a society is because they seek to replace forgiveness with fairness, opportunity with equality, drive with circumstance.  And Man is not meant to live this way.  Throughout the annals of history, civilizations have always perished when they have tried such a thing.  Not simply because a people will revolt against perceived slavery, an aristocratic system, or a lesser lot in life, but because it is not the way of our creation.  For us to see why “fair” tax systems fail to bring upon a “Great Society,” we must not only look to the statistics which display as much.  We must look to the fact that such systems keep those of us who have erred in life, and those of us who have experienced misfortune, from ever being able to be born again.  They try to eliminate “you’re forgiven” and “new life” from our lexicon, to replace the land of opportunity with the land of fairness, a staircase with a room.  “Equal” tax structures work to prevent man from altering his course instead of trying to better the course of man  — and we are meant to experience the latter.  A society needs Grace – the ability to fail, to encounter the ramifications, and to try again.  Once we accept why our government’s “fair” tax codes and Trickle Down Economics are failing, we may once again discover the courage to reject them, to walk away from this failed vision… and find our way forward.

“No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.”– Adam Smith
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One must only investigate the statistics on poverty to see the lack of worth in government aid programs; One must only tour the mansions in Newport, Rhode Island to see the disparity caused by “fair” taxes; and One only need to stare in dumbstruck awe at the national debt accumulated as a result of combining the two.  But we must search our very soul to see our proper course forward.  We Americans like to view ourselves as caring, loving, and compassionate… and We are.  We Americans like to view ourselves as strong, independent, and industrious… and We are.  But to talk about us as a creation, well, we Americans are reluctant to do that.  We mistakenly feel that to do so violates our principle of separation of church and state – so we continue to deny our nature and look to Man’s principles of government and fairness to find answers.  This is the failure of our day.
 
“I have treated many hundreds of patients. Among those in the second half of life – that is to say, over 35 – there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life.”– Carl JungWe are right to have a separation of church and state – for our Creator has reserved the right to call each of us individually and our Government has no authority to dictate otherwise.  But we must also embrace the nature of man as a creation.  We misapply the principle of separation of church from state when we decipher it to mean that the state replaces our church.  For it is when we deny our nature, that is when we die.

 
“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”– C. S. LewisNot since Moses wandered the desert did our Creator provide food for the hungry.  Instead, He works through us, as individuals embodied with his Spirit, to take care of one another on an individual level.  Because this is the way of things.  The Good Samaritan is not a parable displaying the effectiveness of government, it is a message displaying our calling for goodness.  The Samaritan did not pay the innkeeper because his money was taxed to do so, but because he decided to.   He recognized and responded to his inner spirit – he discovered the value of charity.  We cannot attempt to legislate this discovery – to create government programs that distribute monies.  Our Creator does no such thing with us.  Instead, He gives us free will and directs, empowers, and shepherds us to respond individually to those in need.   Why would we think our government is best to do otherwise?  Most of us will be, at one point in our life, both the child and the parent, both the needy and the giving, both the bankrupt and the property owner.  And we are meant to be – for it is both through asking for help and in deciding to assist that We grow.  It is through receiving and giving that our soul develops.  Our nation will continue to weaken as we continue to ignore this truth.  Instead of asking for help, we register for benefits… instead of deciding to give, we submit our taxes.  It is not how we were meant to live — it is not how we were created to be.

 
“And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.” – Luke 20:25

Not since Noah and the Great Flood did our Creator implore us to pay our “fair share” for our life choices.  Instead, He works through Grace to allow us to achieve our potential, even when our individual station in life does not deserve it.  Because this is the way of things.  He provides an avenue for change, a road to success, a chance for redemption.  This is the message He gives us.  The parable of the poor widow who gives less than a penny in the collection plate is not simply a message of how good it is to give, it is a recognition that she gives more than the rest when she gives out of what she requires, rather than out of her excess.  Although tithing a flat 10% is given in the Bible, it was never the intended endgame.  For from those of us who have been given much, much will be demanded.  It is the meaning of the Parable of the Talents.  God’s world is not one in which everyone gives the same percentage of income.  Why would we think our government is best to do otherwise?  If we are to embrace a proper tax code for America in our world, we must embrace a disproportionate tax structure.  Our nation will continue to weaken as we continue to ignore this truth.  Instead of balancing our budget, we accumulate debt… instead of allowing for growth, we widen our wealth gap.  It is not how we were meant to live — it is not how we were created to be.

“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” – Luke 12:48

Such is the paradox:  For although we must strive not to make God into man through government aid programs, we must also strive to embody God via man in our tax code.  We must both resist the urge to legislate charity and resist the urge to legislate fairness – even while we are charitable and fair.  We must embrace a society that allows suffering and demands an unjust tax code even while we are a loving people who demand justice.  This is the paradox of our day and what our generation must rediscover.

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” – Carl Rogers
There was a brief time in our nation’s history where we have done this – a time when we had a lack of government aid programs, but a tax code that sought a higher burden from our wealthier citizens and corporations.  There was a time when America realized the Vision, a time when America coupled our founders’ notion of limited government with our forefathers’ realization of income tax.  It was deemed the “Roaring 20’s” so successful it was.  It was a time of great industriousness, great success, great wealth, great learning, great invention, and a large middle class.  It was a happy time, one filled with love and respect, and we danced.  It is a time we must return to if we are to prosper in our day.  Why must it be so?  Because this is the environment in which we were created to thrive…
 
“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

There is nothing to Fear

The only thing we have to fear is Fear itself.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

There is nothing to Fear – that is what I’ve learned in my journey of life.  And it’s a wonderful thing to discover.  But in order to throw away Fear, we must discover ourselves, our Self, we must open our eyes to what We are.  This is what the world and America in particular must do in our day, for the Us seems to have closed its eyes as to what We the People are.  Freedom of Religion is essential, but did we really forget who we are in the process?

Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” — George Washington

Before we can talk constructively about politics, before we can realize that we have nothing to fear, before we can even really begin to live, we must rediscover ourselves — we must remember the message.  So I take a break from the political posts in an effort to put us on the same sheet of music so to speak — or at least, to die trying.  After all, it is the Easter Season.  And we can’t talk about how best to govern in the US until we remember what We are — what you and I are, who the Us was, is, and will be for as long as We the People decide to exist.  Fear not, the message is good news!  For once you again understand what We are, Life becomes so much more enjoyable for Us.  I promise you.

But what is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.” – Edmund Burke

What I am about to write is by no means a new message.  No, it’s been with us since the beginning.  Philosophers, Priests, and Artists have been telling us it since our birth, and we invented Language, Song, and Writing because of it.  Educators, Scientists, and Mathematicians have been trying to reveal it ever since — Astronomy, Computers, Genetics are all a result of it.  And Politicians, Generals, and Great Leaders have been trying to ensure it through all of our generations, so vital it is that the Message is received by our children.  Our very life depends on it.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – John 1:1

There is a message so important that it defines us, our past and our future, our very existence.  A message that we, throughout all history, have ensured above all else that we passed on to our children.  For to ignore it is to die.  Are you ready?  Seriously, smoke something if you have to because it is imperative that We understand this.  Are you really ready?  Because my friends, my fellow cells, if you already “know” everything than you’re going to miss out on this discovery and We‘re never going to realize our destiny.

He who knows best knows how little he knows.” – Thomas Jefferson

I am going to, here today, repeat the message to you, the message of the ages, the meaning of Life in the communication medium of our day, the internet.  What we’ve been saying to our self forever, what our species, our civilizations, our Body of mankind has been fighting tooth and nail to say for so long, what the Enlightened know, what the Trinity means… are you now ready for the message?

Because here’s the deal World, little boy blue is awakening and is preparing to blow his trumpet:  What the Sumerians knew by the stars, what was written into our DNA, what our Prophets realized, what the Mayans, Persians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Mongolians, Americans, what all of us understood at one time in our past, what all of our Religions have instilled in us and what our conscience instinctively knows…  is this:

We are a LIFE.

We are ONE BODY.

And you are a CELL.

He who hath an ear, let him hear.

As I write down this “crazy” notion that we are all cells in one organism, that we truly, actually, and literally compose and make up another life form… that the circle of life, the way Life works, the meaning of Stonehenge, is that we are alive as cells in another Body… that atoms come together to comprise molecules, molecules come together to form cells, cells unite to create tissues, tissues working together form organs, organs come together to make up man, and mankind makes up… our Creator’s creation.  Us.

The ancient Oracle said that I was the wisest of all the Greeks.  It is because I alone, of all the Greeks, know that I know nothing.” – Socrates

As I humble what I “know” to the sum of “nothing” and eliminate my arrogance, my pride, my desire to be right… as I look to each religion as another road, another story, another attempt at telling us what We are… as I let go of myself in this world, as I begin to understand what existentialism and transcendentalism mean, as I see what the message was and is… as I search my soul, as I discover not only my purpose in life, but ours, I just have to sit back and think:

“Did it really take me this long to figure this out?  I went through 40 years and no one told me about this already!?  I know I can’t be the first one to think this, so how is it possible that I’ve never heard this before?”  Honestly, I asked my wife about it, talked with my brother, and scheduled an appointment with my preacher about it  — so sure I was that everyone around me knew this.  But no one seems to be jumping at the news.  My Dad said, “I don’t know about any of that,” and he is a devout Catholic, a great man, and a Knight of Columbus.  But my friends, my brothers, my sisters, We are One body.  Our very soul knows this to be true.

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” – John 20:29

That’s why we, as a society, have religions in the first place — to promote the Word.  At some point in the evolution of Life, an embryo becomes self-aware – at least, some of its cells do.  Although it has no mirror in the womb in which to gaze upon itself, it somehow still knows that is One Body.  It opens its eyes to what it is – a Life.  In some wonderful way throughout its growth, its cells respond to the Truth, and they do what they must do in order for the embryo to live… to grow… to form.  They respond to their DNA, their conscience, their soul, even if it makes no logical sense to them individually to do so…  and the embryo develops, the body grows, the cells unite and come together.  They do what their Creator intended them to do.  This is the message I bring to you, my fellow cells in this fetus called mankind.  We are One Body, the stars have told us this since the beginning of our time.  And this is why politics must become our passion again.

It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.” – George Washington

I thought my revelation would be more like the day I discovered that Santa Claus was really my Mom and Dad.  I remember my older brothers smiling in the Truth and saying, “Yeah, we wondered how long you would go before figuring it out.”  Just like when I discovered what I thought was the “true” meaning of Christmas last time, I expected that this time, after I displayed my new found belief that we are an organism, I would find a whole group of people, a whole group of cells, who already knew this and were just waiting for me to pop out of my shell.  Watching eagerly as I figured out the Truth… the Way of things… how Life works.  I actually googled Mankind is a Fetus and was surprised to see 0 hits.  Hurry someone, www.mankindisafetus.com is still available.

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” – John 3:3

In any case though, I tell you my friend, my brother, my sister, as I discover that we are One Body, I am astounded that I’m just now believing this.  Really?  No one told me that this is how Life works all these years?!  A college graduate, a math major, a self-prescribed God follower who has never heard that I am a cell, pure and simple.  How can that be?  And that’s when I realized it:  “Oh wait, they did tell me this. .. I have heard this — countless times.  I just wasn’t listening.”  In fact, since the beginning of time We have been telling Us that.  Well I hear the message loud and clear now world, and I for one am all-in for us.

All for one, one for all.” – Alexandre Dumas

The enlightenment, faith, belief, opinion, or philosophy is life changing for a cell — it changes everything you believe, but changes little in what you do.  It just better explains why you are doing it – at least that’s been my experience.  It has also caused me to become a universalist as far as religion goes.  When I say that I am a Christian, I mean that I discovered our Creator, I discovered who I am and what we are, I got in touch with my soul, through the writings and teachings of Jesus Christ.  But our past demonstrates both the value and the cost of religion, the passing down of goodness and the introduction of war, the ability for Us to survive and the ability for us to kill each other in the name of survival.  Life means the Word is passed along among generations and peoples, but Death accompanies it as one man kills another to please his god.  The horror of war is the message our ancestors passed on through campfire stories about Cain and Abel, this is what they meant for Us to realize, this is why they wrote it into the story of our creation.  Our enlightened knew that a body divided against itself will not survive.

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” – Matthew 12:25

And this was the paradox our founders faced.

My first wish is to see this plague of mankind, war, banished from the earth.” – George Washington

And so we, the Us, the ones who had figured out what We the People were, those who realized that the “Our” in the “Our Father” really did mean all of us had one Creator… well, We decided to just be peaceful with everyone until they figured it out also.

Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.” – George Washington

But that didn’t work out so well.  For Our Body warred with itself, tried to destroy itself, then tried to destroy the peaceful nation of Us we created.

All that’s necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

And, as they say, here We are.  Some may say its still too early to open our eyes, but my brothers and sisters, I think we’re ready.  I ask you world, are you ready to see that we are all one?  Are you ready to acknowledge our Self and find peace?  I ask you country, are you ready to, as Jesus of Nazareth did in the New Testament, sacrifice our power?  Are we ready to release our grip and see if the world is ready this time?  Because I believe We are.  I am not afraid of World War 3, for my soul tells me not to Fear.

I think that’s the message I’m meant to bring, that’s the good news, that’s what the Mayans somehow understood – 2012 is the beginning of a new realization, the year we become self-aware, the start of a new covenant with our Creator.  We are One Body, the age of Aquarius has arrived, the Great Commission is fulfilled, and it is now time for the fetus of Us to open our eyes.  It is now time for Us to see what We the People are, to embrace the notion that heart cells are not created to be skin cells, to stop trying to push ourselves onto others, to accept our Body for what it is, and to start enjoying Life.

Just as a man would not cherish living in a body other than his own, so do nations not like to live under other nations, however noble and great the latter may be.” – Mahatma Gandhi

I wonder if I was somehow picked to reveal this truth again in our day…  How does a Prophet realize he is one — like this?  He is just looking into Man, asking himself why our system is currently messed up, he just reads what Great people before him wrote, prays that God may lead him, and then the message is revealed to him?

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” – Dr. Seuss

I suppose I thought it would be more lights, bells, and whistles – like the Mary, Joseph, and Joe Smith’s encounters of our teachings.  Then I wonder, how will our Body respond when the prophet re-reveals our vision?  Will we open our eyes?  Are we an embryo, or are we a fetus ready to see itself for the one Body that it is?  If History is any indicator, the prophet won’t be treated too well by the Body, it hasn’t reacted well to the knowledge thus far.  But I have no Fear, for I have faith in us.  I think that maybe we just haven’t been ready yet, but we’re ready now.

My wife asked me not to “scare” the neighbors with my craziness, not to embarrass her, not to make a fool out of myself.  But I cannot keep my “craziness” inside.  For my hope this day is that We are finally ready to hear the good news — that We, as the body of mankind, are ready to accept what being a part of the body of Christ meant, the notion that we are a cell in something larger and We, the collective Us, are all one Being.  Somehow, in some way we haven’t figured out just yet, we are alive. How could I possibly keep this notion to myself?  That would be suicide.  So there you go world, that’s me.  That’s what I believe.  We are good, we are free, we are alive.  Amen.

“The right of nature… is the liberty each man hath to use his own power, as he will himself, for the preservation of his own nature; that is to say, of his own life.” – Thomas Hobbes

I look forward to our future together, my brothers and my sisters, my friends, my fellow cells.  Now it all makes sense.   One day we will be born into a New World, our Creator’s world, and life will continue.  Fear would tell us that we are an aging Man, and that this is how a Body dies… it’s cells forget who and what they are.  But I reject fear, I believe we are a fetus.  And Fear will cause us to be stillborn — for our cells to never take to the Message.  Instead, they refuse to understand that they are a Life, and they never come together as One Body.  I ask you my friend, which one are We?  Which one do you wish to be?

My brothers and sisters, that’s the Message, what We have been trying to tell Us all this time, what I believe the US is all about.  And I’m putting it on a blog that so far, the only subscriber I have, is my friend who helped me to set it up.  I don’t even suspect she’s been reading my musings so I have no idea who, if any of you, which one of Us, will read this first.  Nor do I know how you will react.  Will you even respond?  And if so, will you embrace the notion?  If you are like my wife, this will most likely be the last post of mine you’ll read.  But I have Faith that we are a good people, I believe that we were created in the image of our Creator, and I believe that, whatever that Entity is, We are good.

Poetry may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves.” – T. S. Eliot

I think this is why the hippie movement dominated a whole generation of us.  The drugs helped them to think outside the box, imagine other possibilities, look at Life from a new perspective.  Peace and Love, what a mantra.  They figured it out before me anyway.  But then I think, wait, We figured it out a long time ago.  Heck, we made every song about it before we learned writing.  Then we wrote about it.  We have been enlightened in plays, stories, and books — all great works describe the nature of man.  Crazy nursery rhymes that would make no sense without it.  I read “Are you my Mother?” to my child the other night as a tribute to the great Dr. Seuss.  Yep, he had an idea of who we were and what was going on around us.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss

In any case, the idea has certainly opened up a whole new perspective for me and I wanted to share it with you.  I feel like it is something that everyone knew and I’ve pretended to know for the first 40 years of my life.  I can’t tell you how many times I heard, in my upbringing as a Catholic, that this is actually the Body of Christ as a priest gave me a wafer and I said “Amen.”  But today, even though I left the Catholic church many years ago, I get it.  We are actually a Body.

But this post is not only meant to express what I believe the US is, what We the People are, what the World must do, it is also meant to tell you the accompanying corollary — that we are not meant to Fear.  This is a great day… for it is free of fear.

The whole secret of existence is to have no Fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.” – Buddha

I understand that all I have to do in this life, however long it is, is to follow my God-given soul, be a good person to those around me, and my Body will grow.  We just need to follow the good heart, mind, and soul we were provided with and our Body will thrive.  The yoke truly is pleasant and light.  It’s that’s easy — I can strive for goodness..  I want to be a good cell, for I want Us to live.  I was programmed to be a good cell, it’s what I naturally want to do.

For my yoke is pleasant and my burden is light.” — Matthew 11:30

Being good is fun.  Being yourself is good.  Being free is fundamental.  It makes a person feel good when he does good, and we are all meant to do good in our own way.

I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.” — Thomas Jefferson

We are simply programmed that way – thank you… whoever you are.  I am so looking forward to our birth.  Philosophers, Astronomers, Priestly Sages, Biologists, Physicists, what say ye to this theory?

In the end, mankind will be all right if we want to live, if we are good, and if we don’t forget what We are.

Jesus Replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  Love your neighbor as your Self.” — Matthew 22:29, 37-40

Once we understand this, we also understand that we don’t need to worry about anything in this lifetime.  We don’t know how long we’ll be a cell, how useful we’ll be, and when or how we’ll end, but we don’t need to know — for we are free and we are good, and that’s all it takes.  The only thing We need is for us to be good while we’re a cell so that our fetus can grow and be born – that We can be born again.  That’s always been the message our Creator wanted us to comprehend since the beginning, that we are a Living Body – and the Way we were designed to live is without fear.

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:  Do not be afraid, Abram.  I am your shield, your very great reward.” – Genesis 15:1

It’s still His message today — We are a Living Body, we are cells of Him — a small but all important part in the circle of Life.  And us cells don’t need to worry about whether there will be enough money for us to retire, whether our kids will go to college, whether we’ll get that job we just tried so hard to get… we don’t need to worry about anything but being good-hearted, supporting the body, and having a great time while doing it.  He has always been telling us that.  I am living in this world, living in this Spirit, living a life free of fear — and I’d sure love it if you’d join me… if We’d join Us.

Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.” – Jim Morrison

I can’t speak for anybody else, but as for yours truly, I am still striving to ensure that I prepare for my retirement, give my kids a chance at higher education, find and maintain a good job that supports my family… but my motivation is no longer Fear.  I am doing them now solely because I want to — simply because I want to promote our Body.  God is Good — may We live forever.  Yes, it’s great to believe – for so long as I fear nothing, We have nothing to fear.

But Jesus came and touched them.  “Get up,” he said.  “Don’t be afraid.”  Matthew 17: 7

Some days living in the Spirit is easier than others, but here’s the deal World.  We are One Body.  Or, if that is simply too much to soak in, meet me at this — we are supposed to live this way.  I wholeheartedly believe that this is what our World, We the People, need to recognize again.  It’s time for us to get up, stop being afraid, and get onto the business of living.  Mankind was created to exist in a fear-free environment — I assure you, depressed and scared is no way to exist, and our Creator wants us to live better.  To be Free cells, happy cells, good cells — that is what He calls us to be.  We can live better.  At a minimum, we should be trying to.

“The enemy is Fear.  We think it is hate; but, it is Fear.” – Mahatma Gandhi

This is my passion.  This has been the passion of every Great Leader of every generation.  The idea that above all else — we promote the body of Mankind, we do what we are supposed to do, we serve Us.  I think this has to be what drove me to serve our country in the armed forces.  I can’t say for certain because the real reason I remember is that Top Gun looked cool – flying jet airplanes off an aircraft carrier sounded fun.  And it made me think, “Boy, it would be neat to fly… I bet girls would like it too.  For sure it would be an adventure and besides, what the heck else is a guy like me going to do?”  That’s how I remember it.  But whatever motivated me, the result is that I overcame the Fear of commitment that was associated with an obligated service of 9 years, I overcame the Fear of War, I believed in both myself and my country, the US, and I pursued my passion.  And that’s why I started this blog, I have a new Passion today.

My friends, I believe that we need to re-discover this Passion.  For Christ’s sake.  For Our sake.  We, the people, US…. We need to realize who We are, what We are, and start caring about the important stuff again.  Such is my new found interest in Politics.  And Religion.  And History.  And Literature.  And Art.  And Family.  And Life.  But for today, Politics.

There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live.” – John Adams

This is the concept that Great Republicans and Democrats, Great Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists, Good People — what any person who ever influenced us positively, white, black, gay, straight, rich, poor, east, west, male, female,…what all Great leaders have always known:  We are One Body, and We are not meant to Fear.

If you look into your own heart, and you find nothing wrong there, what is there to worry about?  What is there to fear?” – Confucius

It was with this epiphany revealed that a group of men started a movement in a New World, began to promote the Body through goodness, and started to work on Us.

The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.” – Thomas Paine

I believe our founders understood this principle when they created this great country of ours – their eyes were open.  And I believe that this is what America must understand again if we are to be Great in our day.  For it is Fear that causes us to create ineffective and counter-productive Government welfare programs to “ensure” we don’t fail.  It is Fear that causes us to bankrupt ourselves, borrowing money on the heads of our great grandchildren to “ensure” we have enough money in retirement.  Fear that causes us to store more money than we can possibly need in this lifetime to “ensure” we will have enough for whatever scary future awaits.  And it is Fear that causes us to lash out against our brothers for fear of what they might do some day.  Fear is surely of the Devil, if there is such a beast.  We knew this to be true when we formed this land.  The only “Fear” our founders had was that of Tyranny, the inability for the Body’s cells to act freely.  Tyranny results in a Democracy when we forget who We are, forget that we are supposed to live free of fear, and then appoint some man-made Entity to take away our fears.  We knew that such an Entity would enslave us, it always has.

I have no fear that the result of our experiment will be that men may be trusted to govern themselves without a master.” – Thomas Jefferson

Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” — Thomas Jefferson

“I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.” – Thomas Jefferson

So with faith in you not to crucify me, there it is, that’s what I believe.

My goal is for the following to be said about my existence in this Life:

“Here lies Christopher Hagen, his cells either forgot they were cells or they no longer wanted the Him to live.  While with us, Chris followed his soul, asked for forgiveness when he stumbled, and then tried to correct his path.  He was good.”

Hey Diddle Diddle, the cat’s in the Fiddle, the Cow jumped over the moon.  The little dog laughed to see such sport and the dish ran away with spoon.” – Mother Goose

 

Equally Free to Choose

I’ve been thinking of a title for my personal political party.  I started with Republocrat – the name captured the fact that both parties have some things right.  Now I’m thinking the “Equally Free to Choose” party.  For it is here, under the platform of “Equally Free to Choose” that Americans, regardless of political party affiliation, tend to agree… and it is under this platform that our reform efforts must be focused today.  It is an idea that inspired the Democratic-Republic party of our very beginning.  “Equally Free” describes the mantra of our Democratic party, and an idea out of which many great leaders emerged – people like Grover Cleveland, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy.  And Freedom to Choose – it continues to inspire our Democratic party today.  It is this exact idea, “Equally Free to Choose,” that founded the Republican party, as we fought and bled to ensure that all men are free to choose their future – and that slavery is abolished from our land.  “Free labor, free land, free men.” – 1856 Republican Slogan.  “Equally Free to Choose” – it is the principle that inspired such greats as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.  This notion that we are all free to choose – this is what I view as American, what makes us who We are.   Our great leaders of the past all knew that for us to become the best US, for us to form a more perfect union, we must all, every one of us, be free to choose in life.  This idea could unite us again in our day if we could but rediscover ourselves.

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” – Abraham Lincoln

If our nation could but pause for a moment in time… if we could then look at both our past and our hopeful future, we might once again recognize who we are, see where we are, and remember what we are doing.  We all have to do this sometimes – stop and remember what we are doing.  It’s why we have checklists in my line of work – people are forgetful.  In my home life, I set out downstairs in an effort to grab a flashlight from the junk drawer, warm up a bottle of milk, go to the garage for 2 more electrical caps, grab my phone off the counter, call and check in for work tomorrow, go back upstairs, give the bottle to Colton, and then over to the ceiling fan with the flashlight and electrical caps.  But somewhere in the garage after I wiped up the spilled juice and fed the dogs, as the bottle is heating up and as I’m walking over bike helmets, skateboards, and re-stacking the goodwill pile, I stop and I say “Ok, now what am I doing again?”  This is what America must do today, so as to remember our purpose and our mission.

Freedom to Choose America, that’s what we are doing.  We must take a pause in life and remember this Truth if we are to unite again as one People.  Our mission, what we are in the process of doing right now, is ensuring that we are a nation and a people in which we are all equally free to choose.  It is the why, how, who, and what we are.  It is everything that Thomas Jefferson and our founders envisioned when they wrote our Constitution.  It is the reason we exist and what our first president, George Washington, and his fellow patriots bled to ensure.

To say that any people are not fit for freedom, is to make poverty their choice, and to say they had rather be loaded with taxes than not. – Thomas Paine

     All of mankind is equally Free – that is the reason for our birth, the endgame that unites us, and the cornerstone of American society.  And here is a corresponding truth:  Freedom equals Inequality.  For if you are free to choose, than you are free to choose wisely and poorly.  You are both free to excel and by extension free to fail, for one cannot exist without the other.  In America, we help those around us who are struggling because we are free to do so and because we are good people who choose to do so… not because we have a federal government program that taxes our successful and redistributes their wealth to those who are failing.  This is why federal entitlement programs divide and destroy us, they attempt to remove both the personal freedom to “choose to fail” and the freedom to “choose to give” from our lexicon.  And we need those freedoms in America — because we need those in life, that’s how a man or woman grows, that’s how we are meant to live.

This is what We realized nearly 12 score ago when we created this great land, and this is what we need to realize again in our day.  The environment in which mankind functions best as a species, the one where We reach the absolute potential of our existence — it is in a limited-government environment, where one is both prepared and challenged to succeed.  An environment in which, if ever you choose to respond with good character, honest work, and strong determination, you will excel.  For no other environment is better for Us.  That’s why our country was founded – our forefathers had seen the great light, and that’s what our country needs to return to today.  This is the grand bargain, the answer, the solution:

Our government provides an equal environment in which we plot our course… Our drive, courage, and good fortune determines our heading… and Our God-given soul provides the necessary means, mentorship, and assistance to others like us on the journey.  That is how we are meant to work, how we were created to live.

The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.” – Thomas Paine

That’s how we survive, thrive, and excel.  We embrace a government that ensures our freedom to choose, and we try to be the best person we can in our community.  We are a society in which the government ensures freedom, the community promotes charity, and we freely let everyone peacefully pursue their vision in life – that’s who we are.

Freedom to Choose, that’s my political platform.  “All of mankind is equally Free,” let’s never forget that.  Its why, even in the face of abortion of the innocent, we preserve the legality of a woman to choose not to have her baby.  We know that in order to embrace a society in which people are free to choose, they must be free to do something that we would never do.  Instead of trying to legislate what we deem as good choices, we attempt to promote what we believe is the right choice through mentoring, education, and love – that’s who we are.  For Life and Liberty go hand in hand.

“The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.” – Thomas Jefferson

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Uh-oh, he just said ‘abortion.’”  More than any other issue, abortion pits Liberty and Life in a justifiably highly charged environment.  Whatever your views, I support your freedom to have them.  But as this is not meant to be a paper on the topic of abortion, as I understand we all have strong opinions on this fundamentally important issue, and as I am not trying to dissuade you from any of your beliefs, let me just offer a quick story and then press on.  Because as important as the abortion issue may be, it is by no means our only defining issue – for America has plenty of issues for government this day.  Quick aside on Life and Liberty:

I have a best friend, I lived directly across the street from him for over 5 years, who I hang out with regularly, and who is a staunch Republican.  His daughter babysits my kids, has two kids of her own, and she is getting married to their father this summer.  Yes, they’ve been living out of wedlock since high school, they have two children, and they will marry for the first time in a few months – I am excited for them.  And I remember, some years ago now, when my friend told me that his daughter, just out of high school and on her way to college, was pregnant.  I remember talking to him about his daughter’s life situation and choices – it was wearing on his soul and I wanted him to be able to voice his feelings.  Now I have my ideas on abortion – I think anybody who sees a sonogram of their unborn child knows that something in there is alive and beautiful – they can see that a precious life is forming.  But I kept my thoughts to myself, and I asked him what his were.  He had similar views on abortion and said that, although his plan was for his daughter to go to college, marry, and then have kids, he believed that was no longer an option.  He couldn’t imagine terminating a pregnancy, he hoped that she would not abort the pregnancy, and he was determined to be the best Grandpa he could be… but the choice was hers.  You know the end of the story, she chose to keep her child, her son now plays with mine, and she gets married this summer.  But this isn’t a story about abortion, government aid, or taxes.  I brought up this story because I was at my friend’s house the other day, we were talking politics, and this difficult issue of abortion surfaced in the conversation.  My friend said something that I felt was as “American” a statement as one can make, and it made me ponder for some time afterward.  He said, “I personally believe that Life begins at conception.  And I am pro-Choice.”  Life and Liberty, we must treasure them both.

For other issues affect America and our politicians in Washington DC should be focusing on them… and choosing the right answer.  They should be running a responsible government and balancing our budget.  That’s what we need to talk about America – how do we provide a secure working environment through government regulation that promotes equality in opportunity and ensures freedom of choice?  We need to rediscover ourselves, answer this question, and promote the right political answer for our great nation.

History, in general, only informs us of what bad government is.” – Thomas Jefferson

I personally voted for Ross Perot back in 1992 because I knew, even at 22 years old, that we needed a balanced budget for long term health.  I voted for the Republicans under George W. Bush  in hopes they would usher in responsible but limited government to balance the budget and minimize government intervention in our daily lives.  I felt we needed to bring a hatchet to our government welfare programs.  But instead, Republicans focused on a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage.  The Republican party, borne out of a “free men” slogan and the notion that all who were created equal must be treated free and equal by government, now sought to divide the community through federal legislation.  “Freedom to Choose” means just that – a freedom to choose yourself and how you are going to live, and a realization that others must be free to do something that we would never do.  I don’t know why our Creator made us left and right-handed, black and white, homosexual and heterosexual, and I won’t know in this lifetime.  But in the desired endgame of “All of mankind is equally Free,” I know that I embrace our differences.  The churches can handle who can and cannot marry – this is not an issue for our Federal government.  After the constitutional amendment push faltered, then came the Iraq war… and more “Reaganomics” even as our debt continued to balloon.  Instead of a Limited Government whose costs were supported by our successful, I was given a Value-imposing Government whose size was expanded, whose tax base was shifted more to the lower and middle class, and whose wars went unfunded and unsupported in the international community.  And to make matters worse, a Government which completely failed to respond in the one place that it was supposed to, an obvious mortgage bubble causing an impending financial collapse of our banking system.  Even history’s biggest proponents of limited government recognize the need for government to interject in the banking arena and to impose taxes to balance the budget.

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.” – Thomas Jefferson

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.” – Thomas Jefferson

So I abandoned the Republican party… or more appropriately, I discovered that they had abandoned me.

I voted for the Democrats under Barack Obama in hopes they could end the wars, perform the necessary cuts to our Government Welfare programs, and modify our tax code so as to return to a time of balanced budgets and responsible, limited government.  President Obama’s foreign policy has been in line with our all of mankind is equally free principle, but domestically our debt and government programs have only expanded.  America will no longer have foreign policy decisions to make if we bankrupt ourselves from within – and I assure you, we are doing just that.  Instead of a Limited Government whose costs were supported by our successful, I was given a Tax and Redistribute Government whose reach was expanded, whose welfare programs were extended, and whose debt was made monstrous.  We must remember that Freedom to Choose means that there will be inequality.  In the endgame of “All of mankind is equally Free” we will have hungry, we will have drug abusers, and we will have unemployed – for people will choose differently and experience different results.  Personal welfare resulting from your personal choices is a place where our limited government should not get involved.  Rather, this is where our soul, our goodness, our character interjects.  For those of us who succeed in this life, those of us who through hard work, luck, and the Grace of God are able to excel in the American experiment, we owe it to ourselves, our Creator, and our fellow man to help in our communities as well as to fund the American experiment for our next generation.  Even history’s biggest proponents of government intervention recognized the need for government to stay out of the charity business and not impose taxes to redistribute wealth.

“It isn’t sufficient just to want – you’ve got to ask yourself what you are going to do to get the things you want.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy

So I abandoned the Democratic party… or more appropriately, I discovered that they had abandoned me.

We can unite again America.  If our nation pauses for a moment, takes some time to reflect… and then asks our self, “Ok, now what are we doing again?”  Maybe then We-the-People can rediscover who and what we were created and meant to be… we can remember the answer to the question – Freedom to Choose” America, that’s what we are doing.  This principle is why we embrace the United Nations in foreign policy even when it disagrees with us – because we embrace the notion that all of mankind is equally free to choose.  Although our heart aches when people suffer and our nation trembles when neighboring countries act in defiance of America’s core values, we respect the Freedom of Choice whenever possible and refrain from trying to impose our will.  So long as a country is not attacked, we peacefully do our utmost to guide the world, through example and good will, to what we believe is the right choice.  That same principle is why our federal government stays out of personal affairs, defers business to the private sector, and does only that which is required to set a level playing field – because all of mankind is equally free to choose.  Although our heart aches when citizens suffer and our body trembles when neighbors act in defiance of our core values, we respect the Freedom of Choice whenever possible and refrain from trying to impose our will.  So long as our family is not attacked, we peacefully do our personal utmost to guide the community, through example and good will, to what we believe is the right choice.  A limited Government, a small standing army to defend ourselves, and an unwavering platform of free speech, free religion, and equal opportunity – that is who We are.  We must collectively embrace the Freedom to Choose in government policy and individually embrace the Need to Give in personal life decisions.  That is who we, as a nation and as an individual, were created to be.

“A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.” – Thomas Jefferson

Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

Yours in Faith for a better America and a better World

Defense / National Security

Full disclosure on the “Defense” issue from yours truly – I have a bit of experience here other than my usual “I’ve been reading books, investigating things on the internet, engaging in a personal quest to see what’s going on with us, and I think I’ve found some answers.”

I am a member of the Department of Defense, a Navy Commander and 20 year veteran.  During my time with the Navy, I completed courses at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I to include “Strategy and Policy,” “Joint Military Operations,” and “National Security/Decision Making.”  I mention this so you will be aware of my background, as it has had a significant influence on my opinions regarding this topic.  I believe my War College courses helped me to discover some right answers for America… but you may believe they tainted me in some way.  I’ll let you be the judge of that.  In any case, with that disclosure revealed, here are my thoughts:

Grand Strategy:  Before we can talk about our national security, our defense budget, our withdrawal plans, our “War on Terror” tactics, any of it, we must first remember our Purpose – we must re-discover who we are.  At the largest level, the political ideological level, we must agree as to what we are trying to accomplish in this world.  Only then can we begin to drill down to determine what we should do in this day.  Without acknowledging our purpose, our overarching course, we can’t talk logically about the issues.

“The political object is the goal, war is the means of reaching it, and the means can never be considered in isolation from their purposes.” – Karl Von Clausewitz

So with that in mind, I would like to share with you my opinion of America’s Purpose:  America, at its core, is simply an experiment in this world.  We are a country formed to help mankind in its never-ending quest to discover the “best” way to govern – to help discover how to form a “more perfect union.”  We are a People who want to discover the best way so that we can then vote it in – it’s that simple.  We have never been out to “win” in a military sense, because the only real “win” for mankind is the discovery itself.  Once We, as a world, discover the best way to govern, then we will have won… and America wins even if someone else discovers the best way to govern first.  The only thing we need in order to discover the best way to govern, to properly conduct our experiment so to speak, is a peaceful environment in which different countries can try out different ideas.  Peace is all that we desire.  America does not war with anyone or with anything – we only respond when others war with us or attempt to taint the worldwide experiment by invading peaceful neighbors to enslave, steal from, or control them.

Conquest is not in our principles. It is inconsistent with our government.” – Thomas Jefferson

Kings have tried to lord over us, nations have gone to war with us, and people have attacked us, but since the beginning and this very day, America only longs for peace.  We always despise war and military action, and we only go to war in defense – either in defense of ourselves or when the worldwide experiment is militarily compromised by an aggressor.  We are not trying to push our ideas upon the world because, in all fairness, one or more of our ideas might not be the best.  Once America can agree on this overarching purpose, once we can re-discover who and what we are, then our proper way forward becomes apparent.  Our foreign policy Grand Strategy becomes this:  “If you are a peaceful nation, then you are our friend.”

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them? – Abraham Lincoln

The experiment continues.  As of this day, I whole-heartedly believe that democracy and free speech is the “best” answer – I think it will be proved so in the end as well.  But we can never say this with certainty, for the best answer is never achieved, it is always sought after.  Even Winston Churchill added a sometimes deleted end to his quote about democracy:

It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried. – Winston Churchill

China is a peaceful nation advocating a different avenue as the “best” way to govern – a democracy, but a one party system and a government that does not allow dissent.  I don’t think that wins in the end, and I look forward to the peaceful competition.  America does not set out to enforce what we believe because that defeats the whole experiment.  We are right to support our fellow man, to encourage international rights and liberties, and to challenge all nations to honor the will of the people – but we don’t do that through military force.  Instead, our intent is to show the world, to prove thorough industry and happiness, that free democracy, peace, and liberty are the right answers for mankind.  We believe that competition breeds excellence – and I believe that eventually a society with only one political party is going to stifle ideas, oppress its people, and begin its journey down the wrong path.  We will beat that society not through military engagement, but through a peaceful system encouraging a transfer of ideas, opinions, and innovation.  That’s our strong suit.  We were once united in our common cause to demonstrate to the world our system’s worth.  And regardless of what side of aisle you fall down on in the political arena, this is still our overarching cause.

In defense of our persons and properties under actual violation, we took up arms. When that violence shall be removed, when hostilities shall cease on the part of the aggressors, hostilities shall cease on our part also.” – Thomas Jefferson

I realize some of you may be thinking me a bit naïve at this point and saying to yourself, “That’s all well and good on an ideological worldview level, but I’m a realist.  In the end, these guys are going to try to destroy us, so America might as well bring the battle to them.”  Let me offer you this then, if the moral high ground is not enough:

It doesn’t work!

War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong; and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses.” – Thomas Jefferson

This was the enlightenment of my Naval War College experience, what I walked away with after reading Clausewitz and Sun Tzu, investigating the history of warfare, and evaluating the various strategies employed.  Not only is military aggression morally the wrong answer, but it is historically the wrong answer.  Time and again this is proven to be true.  Although, at the tactical level the aggressor has the advantage, history demonstrates the precise opposite is true at the larger strategic level – the military aggressor loses.  We must not lose sight of this truth.

“If there is one principle more deeply rooted in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest.” –Thomas Jefferson

Look at our own history.  In 1775:

A small resistance begins in one of the British Empire’s thirteen American colonies, Massachusetts, in one of its cities, Boston.  Boston is located on a harbor where the mighty British Navy can blockade, control all sea lanes, supply logistics, reinforce, and operate at will – the rebels have no navy whatsoever, none.  The people of Boston are a community of Brits, all of whom speak English, and most of whom are “Loyalists”— most Bostonians agree that the British crown is the recognized, appropriate, and proper authority in the land.  The resistance is termed a “band of rabble rousers,” for they have limited numbers, no outside funding, limited local support, with minimal weapons, war skills, and experience.

On the other hand, the English military is the mightiest the world has even seen.  Its army contains the most feared combatant known to man, the “British Redcoat.”  He is war-proven and war-hardened.  Coming off several victories in war, he is an experienced veteran of the field of combat and a feared member of the mightiest military force ever assembled.  Not only is the “British Redcoat” undoubtedly the finest warrior in the world, the British Navy is undoubtedly the strongest armada in history, unparalleled in size and strength.  The British Generals and Admirals are not only experienced in the art of war, they are the masters of it.  Britain dominates the entire globe, and it is said “The sun never sets on the British Empire,” so vast and all encompassing its presence.

So with this backdrop, the most experienced and dominating military force in the history of man – in the most favorable arena an aggressor could possibly envision, in a battle-space where their strengths can be best employed, against an enemy unsupported by the majority of the populace, in a familiar land inhabited by loyal British subjects – the British military sets sail to travel across the world and enforce their will.  And they lose.

Time and again history shows that military conquest is a failed strategy.  We know this to be true.

We learned that when you use land combat power in the peacekeeping or peace building role, you can’t achieve an end state of long term peace – of stability and prosperity in the area.  In general, a military element can only bring about the absence of war.” – Major General William Nash, U.S. Army, Commanding General of Task Force Eagle, Bosnia

So with that “Grand Strategy” presented, with an understanding that we are not to engage in military conquest, I offer my thoughts on our proper national security strategy in this day and age with consideration to the environment we currently face.

National Security Strategy:  Our published National Security Strategy, submitted by President Obama in May of 2010, is in line with our proper Grand Strategy.  Although I respectfully disagree with our President on the effectiveness of domestic social welfare programs, I believe his Foreign Policy approach has been superb.  If we can indeed follow his National Security Strategy, exit both Iraq and Afghanistan, rely more on our allies and regional powers to enforce United Nation charters, eliminate our dependency on foreign oil, and reduce our military expenditures to allow for a balanced budget and economic growth, then we will certainly be heading in the right direction.

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.” – Thomas Jefferson

America’s largest threat to national security is not the military force of one of our neighbors, it isn’t even the proliferation of nuclear weapons; it is our recent economic collapse, our immense debt, and our continued deficit spending.  Our country was founded on the principle of a small standing military capable of defense of our borders – and this is still the proper Vision.  Although we were dragged into two world wars, a prolonged cold war, and a war in the Middle East after Saddam invaded a peaceful neighbor without cause, we cannot continue to live in a day that has passed.  “The World is Flat” and pure isolationism will never achieve our desired end state.  But we must also realize that our ‘mightiest military force ever assembled’ presence appears as a threat to some of our friends around the world and it is not furthering our overarching political purpose.  We must now let go of the world policemen role, dramatically downsize our military, and focus once again on our domestic issues.

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” – Abraham Lincoln

We have a monstrous budget deficit that is bankrupting our great nation.  At the same time, we are engaged by non-state enemies that utilize irregular warfare tactics and avoid traditional encounters.   We are allies or friends with nearly every state and certainly with those presenting a significant military threat to America.  This is not the time for a massive military force that can arguably take on the entire world.  Yet we fuel the fire of the extremists by employing a strong traditional military force against them and we hasten our economic demise by allocating over $700 billion dollars to our military budget.  We have 10 aircraft carriers when no other nation has more than 2 – and they are our friends.  We spend more than any other nation on defense and over 5 times as much as China, the #2 spender.  This is not helping our cause.  I would advocate a reduction in military forces even if the state of our economy was the best it’s ever been – in my humble opinion, a dramatic military downsize is simply the right answer for this moment in time.  Such a move is not only needed for our budget but is beneficial to our world image as well.  In today’s era of multi-national corporations, worldwide internet, camera phones, and intertwined economies, the notion of a Hitler-style world conquest is distant.

How much pain they have cost us, the evils which have never happened.” – Thomas Jefferson

As such, America’s image today can return to what it is meant to be – a peaceful, honest broker, a beacon of hope and freedom, and not an immense military might with which to be reckoned.  We can ramp up if conditions change, but we simply cannot and should not dedicate vast resources to remain the world’s upmost superpower.  Rather than 10 aircraft carriers and forward deployed military forces, we must focus our defense efforts on Special Forces and intelligence gathering to combat extremism.  We must draw down and empower the United Nations and regional powers to enforce international charters and preserve the peace. The League of Nations was unable to hold it together after World War I, but I believe the United Nations can hold it together today.  In any case, it’s high time we test the theory.

More than ever before in human history, we share a common destiny. We can master it only if we face it together. And that, my friends, is why we have the United Nations.” – Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General

The Elephant in the Living Room

I used to get frustrated with our political system, our political parties, our political process, even the individual politicians.  “What a mess!” I would say.  Then, to see if perhaps I was missing something, I made it my mission to get smart on the issues.  Initially that didn’t help, the more I discovered about the issues, the messier our political discourse seemed.  You see, I had yet to see the Elephant in the Living Room.

I would look at issues affecting our nation, I would see the common sense solution, and then I would wonder why our politicians couldn’t come together to implement the proper answer.  Politicians would push to lower income taxes – and it seemed some were always pushing to lower taxes, even when the economy was up and our debt monstrous, a time when we should pay our bills, these politicians would still be looking to cut taxes.  I would ask, “Why?  Do they really think that lowering taxes and going more in debt right now is the proper answer for us?”  It seemed like an honest question and a valid criticism at the time.   I would look into Keynesian Economics, listen to experts, and try to form a proper opinion.  “If anything, we need to raise income taxes and pay our bills at this juncture.  We can’t push this debt onto our children!” I would say… but I had yet to see the Elephant in the Living Room.

When Congress would argue over who should pay the brunt of our tax bill and many would argue for an elimination of tiered income tax and a shift to a flat or sales tax – I would ask, “What?  Do they really think that putting the same tax burden on everyone is good for us as a whole?  99%-1%, is that what they really think is the right answer for America?”  My heart was with the Occupy Wall Street movement and the plight of our hard-working and struggling Americans.  I didn’t realize that the 1%er’s heart was also with them, but that they had acknowledged that there was an Elephant in our Living Room.  Somehow, I still had yet to see the Elephant.

And, after the financial debacle of 2008 demonstrated that we obviously needed better regulation of our banking industry and Richard Cordray was thankfully selected to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – as politicians fought to prevent his appointment – I would ask “Why?  Do they really think that less government regulation of the banking industry is what is needed to prevent these bubbles?”  It made no sense to me – for I still hadn’t noticed the Elephant.  My fellow Americans, my fellow Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, I now see the Elephant in the Living Room… and now all of it, all of you, every single bit of it, makes perfect sense.  I understand the Truth:  We need to get rid of the Elephant, and then we can once again address our nation’s issues.

“He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.” – Thomas Jefferson

With crystal clear clarity, I now see not only where our nation is, but I see how we got here, I see what we must do to break free, and I see why we will wander around aimlessly until we do so.  I see why we used to be united as one country, and I see why we are bitterly divided today – I see the Elephant.  I realize what we did wrong, and I understand that today’s political result is simply a reaction to that erroneous heading.  We have discovered so many things:

– That Democracy, Liberalism, and Freedom of Religion are paramount to any society

– That our tax burden should be accorded as envisioned by our 16th Amendment

– That our Government has a duty to better regulate the banking industry, a lesson we have learned multiple times, particularly in 1907, 1929, late 1980s, and 2008

– That government regulations and policy should seek to promote a strong middle class and that a large wealth gap is not in our collective self-interest

But I also see the Elephant now, the place where we got it completely wrong, and I see why, without confronting this Elephant, none of our other issues can be effectively addressed.  You see, we once believed that government’s role to promote the general welfare should be limited to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”  Then we expanded government so as to play an active role in ensuring that our nation had no homeless, no poor, and no hungry – we decided to test the theory of “Limited Government” envisioned by our founders.

“A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.” – Thomas Jefferson

Now that I see the Elephant called Government Welfare, now that I understand that, in many ways, the political maneuvering is only about the Elephant, our entire political process takes form.  The drive to shift the tax burden away from our wealthy to a “fair” tax is a reaction from the workers who see their monies given to the non-workers.  The steadfast determination to prevent universal healthcare is a reaction from those who understand that government is already too involved and are fearful of more government intervention, even if this time it is in the right place.  The push to eliminate inheritance tax is a reaction by our successful to become their own stewards to help society, as they see the government is ineffective and bureaucratic.  The vast flows of money into our political process, the Tea Party’s insistence on keeping taxes low, the reluctance to balance the budget and “lock in” this wrong answer, the Occupy Wall Street’s reaction to the 1%ers, the filibusters, all of it, are simply reactions to the Elephant – they are what naturally occurs when our nation strays off track.

“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.” – Winston Churchill

We cannot attempt to compromise, debate, evaluate, criticize, or accommodate until we first acknowledge and address the Elephant in the Living Room.  The political stalemate, the unimaginable debt of 15 trillion dollars, the impending bankruptcy on the horizon – they are not the root cause of our problems, they are symptoms and reactions to it.  If We, as one People, are ever going to proceed on our proper course to prosperity, We must address the Elephant in the Living Room.  We must acknowledge and admit that Government Welfare is a philosophy destined for failure… and reject it summarily from our Vision.

“The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” – Margaret Thatcher

My fellow Americans, we must acknowledge this Truth and re-chart our course.  We were One nation under Franklin D. Roosevelt and FDR was the initiator of the “New Deal” – but I submit to you that FDR would never advocate our present heading.  His “New Deal” was meant to be a temporary heading change to get us through the Great Depression, not a permanent course to get us to our destiny.  His Vision for America was never this, I assure you.  If FDR had known his “New Deal” would usher in an “Unconditional War on Poverty,” would be the impetus for the creation of government programs intent on creating a “Great Society,” and if he could see the Elephant that is in our Living Room today, he would be leading the charge to kill the beast.

“It isn’t sufficient just to want – you’ve got to ask yourself what you are going to do to get the things you want.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

My fellow Americans, I believe it’s time to admit that we’ve taken a wrong turn.

“Errors of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.” – Thomas Jefferson

The “War on Poverty,” the experiment of government intervention to create a “Great Society” – these were noble and inspiring quests, and we were right to try them.  But the experiment of government intervention is just that, an experiment.  We aren’t supposed to blindly assume that, because we tried it, they must be sacred truths that are forever a part of our DNA.  Not even FDR, the initiator of the “New Deal,” had that in mind.

“One thing is sure. We have to do something. We have to do the best we know how at the moment… If it doesn’t turn out right, we can modify it as we go along.” – Franklin D Roosevelt

I implore you America, for the sake of all of US, let us now examine the results.  We continually evaluate the results of our “War on Terror” and rightly question choices and directions to see if we are indeed marching toward our desired end state.  We look at the facts surrounding the “War on Drugs” including our enforcement methods, penalties, drug usage numbers, monies to cartels, monies spent on enforcement – all in an effort to see if we are achieving our goals.  We are able to see through labels like the “Patriot Act” and “Jobs Bill” and instead, examine the legislation on its merit.  Can we now do the same of our “Great Society” and “War on Poverty” experiments?

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” – Winston Churchill

For too long now, our political discourse has discouraged the honest evaluation of our system.  Instead of answering questions and engaging in an honest search for the Truth, we put words in the questioners’ mouths, make assumptions about what they believe, call them names for “believing” the assumptions we made about them, and move on to the next topic.  The advocates for a policy shout out the answer, say “yes it’s true,” call the nay-sayers names like bigot, racist, or idiot, and then tell them to tune into the other network.  But my fellow Americans, this will never get us to our rightful destiny.  For us to move forward, we must not label those who question our immigration policies as “racists,” those who question whether or not we should have higher tax rates on wealthier Americans as “class warriors,” those who want to alter the pledge of allegiance as “Godless,” nor those who question government intervention into welfare programs as “heartless.”  This kind of labeling is counterproductive and insulting, not to mention often times flat out wrong about the individuals posing the questions.  We must pursue the Truth.

“I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led, and bearding every authority which stood in their way.” – Thomas Jefferson

So now let us ask ourselves, has it turned out right or do we need to change course?  It’s been more than 40 years that we have been engaged in our “unconditional war on poverty,” and it is high time we reviewed our tactics.  With a debt of 15 trillion dollars, we owe it to ourselves and our children to ask, “How is it going?”  It’s time to put Government Welfare Programs – Social Security, Food Stamps, Section 8 Housing, Unemployment Insurance, etc. on the table, shine the light on their results, and knowing what we now know, honestly ask ourselves:  “In what environment does Man best excel?  Is it an environment where the person is forced to ask for help and a community responds?  Or is it an environment where the community is taxed and the recipient files with the government to receive his or her payment?”

“Take a method and try it.  If it fails, admit it frankly, and try another.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

My fellow Americans, I submit to you that Government Welfare Programs for able-bodied Americans are not in the best interest of our society and must be terminated.  I am not heartless, nor does such an opinion mean I advocate the Republican platform – I do not.  It is simply the discovery that is revealed as I take an honest assessment of the last 40 years’ “War on Poverty.”  Please do not label me and shut down at this point, we need to be better than that.  Like you, I believe we need to help those in our community who are struggling, so let me make a case without immediately labeling me as some rich guy who doesn’t care about our less fortunate, for that would be untrue.  I work every day just to pay my bills, and I do care about those less fortunate than me.  I just whole-heartedly believe that America is on the wrong course in her efforts to “help” them.  I believe our refusal to talk about this, to even acknowledge this Elephant in the Living Room, is creating disastrous ripple effects throughout our society.  I believe we need to stop the experiment, we need to see the Elephant for what it is, so that we can once again resume our journey of discovering what policies truly create the “Great Society” we all seek.

“Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

The fact is that poverty rates have not gone down as a result of our “War on Poverty.”  Poverty rates in 2007, at our “low” just prior to our economic collapse, were 12.5% – whereas 30 years earlier they were 11.6% (http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/historical/people.html).  This is not some fluke 30 year look back – the answer of “no benefit” is consistent as you examine the data.  There was an initial decrease in poverty rates as the Civil Rights Movement finally gave us equal rights and opportunities, and the Labor Movement gave us better pay and managed to shrink our vast wealth gap.  These were great advances to be sure, but these were, and still are, our only advances toward eliminating poverty.

The empiric result of all of our government programs, the spoils of our “War on Poverty,” is not a decrease in poverty at all.  If anything, the result is an increase of it.  Please, those of you who argue that government welfare programs are good additions to our country’s Vision, present me the metric you use to reach your conclusion.  Defend your position with something other than “I care about the less fortunate” because so do I, and I think we help them much better through private charities, non-profit organizations, and community outreach programs.  I don’t think government welfare programs are helping us – quite the inverse, they are slowly and systematically destroying us.

“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” – Thomas Jefferson

Tell me how many Americans died of hunger in 1963, before our “War on Poverty” began, and I will tell you how many Americans who are currently enrolled in our food stamp program died this year due to diabetes and obesity.  Please America, I implore you, ask yourself the honest question, “Are our government programs accomplishing their intended purpose?”  There is no shame in answering a question truthfully.

“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.” – Abraham Lincoln

My fellow Americans, if we can but see and acknowledge this Truth, if we can kill the Elephant in our Living Room, we can once again set course for our destiny.  We can set out to limit our government to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – Healthcare, Military, and Education.  If we can but remove Government Welfare Programs from our Vision, I believe we can also find unity in raising income taxes to balance the budget, implementing universal Healthcare for all citizens, and improving our Education system for our children.  If we can learn to, once again, serve our needy at the local level (where they are best served) by non-profit organizations (who best serve them), we can begin to heal as a society.  We can once again embrace a common vision for a better America and a better World.

Yours in Faith.

Saving America: From Bankrupt and Broken to Solvent and Strong

$15,000,000,000,000 dollars worth of national debt… meaning a family of 5, like mine, owes over $250,000 in government debt – as does yours.  $2,500,000,000,000 of social security obligations – government’s bill to me and my children now $300,000.  And that’s before we even talk about future Welfare, Medicare, and Medicaid obligations, the burden our baby boomer’s retirements will place on the system… or the rest of it.  Our credit rating has been downgraded and soon we will be struggling to pay just the interest on the debt we’ve accumulated.  To pay our bills, we raise taxes on our employers, causing the outsourcing of jobs and the worsening of our economy.  How long are we going to proceed on this course and pretend like everything is just fine?  How long are we going to pretend that we can advance in darkness?

“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” – Carl Jung
 
Now is the time America.  Now, 2012.  This is the year we must vote in our proper course forward – we must re-engage politically and act.  We must step outside of the Republican-Democrat box, step outside of ourselves even, and ask, “If I were that country, if I was more worried about me as a whole than about any of my individual members, if I wanted to treat my members fair but, first and foremost, ensure I was healthy for years to come and shepherd my next generation to reach their potential, what would I do?”

I recently embarked on this mission, a quest to discover the answer to this fundamental question.  I abandoned my pre-conceived biases, ideas, and opinions, threw away what I’ve heard, turned off the TV, and accepted the God-given premise that it isn’t about me, it’s about us – We the People.  Then I gathered only what I could read, learn, investigate, and determine, opened my mind to contrary viewpoints, and sought to discover the truth.  I believe that, in this process, I have re-discovered America’s Vision… and with that, our proper path forward.  I submit the following two discoveries:

1)  We are not meant to have federal government social welfare programs that tax the working to pay for others – this runs counter to our vision and is not what was intended for us.  We’re supposed to help the needy through community, charity, mentorship, and giving – not through government programs.  This is the Truth that we must all see and act upon.

2)  We are not meant to have a federal “fair” tax, where our system’s tax burden is shared equally by all – this runs counter to our Vision and is not what was intended for us.  We’re supposed to ask our wealthiest to pay a larger share of the burden and have a middle class – not a 99%-1% large wealth gap.  This is the Truth that we must all see and act upon.

Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion.” — Thomas Jefferson

My New Year’s pledge is to continue this journey and engage the political field of my beloved country –  I urge us all to do likewise for our country needs us.   I am ready to investigate and find the full story, even if the discovery of the truth reveals that I was once mistaken.

Errors of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.” — Thomas Jefferson
 
 
We are at a crossroads in our history.  We can continue down this path toward bankruptcy and despair or we can choose a different tack, the right tack.  I believe it is time for We the People to get back into government.  Our great country needs us – our political system is broken, our debt is monstrous, and our future is dim.
 
Thankfully, our forefathers provided us a path out of the darkness, a constitution allowing a vote from the People.  Our path forward will not be an easy road, but it is the only one.  Most all of us will see our established standard of living decrease, but a standard realized by accumulating debt is a facade from the outset.  If you, like me, are disillusioned with the status quo, if you are looking for a solution-minded candidate to lead our nation back to solvency, if you are ready to roll up your sleeves and fix this great nation, then please join me in a quest to save America.
 

Yours in Faith for a better America and a better World.

Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.” — Thomas Jefferson