Leave My Stuff Alone!

061815_0610_SocialJusti1.pngI want to get back to the basics this week. I thought I would take the opportunity of a slow news week to go over some of the basic principles that drive me, and a lot of people when it comes to politics. By the end of this hopefully you will be able to ask some basic questions when trying to sift your way through political speak. I written about this before, but it couldn’t hurt to cover it again.

I’m sure everyone has heard a politician make promises to provide a good or service, like healthcare or jobs. It sounds really good. “I’ll pass laws that will create jobs!” “I’ll make sure you get the healthcare you deserve!” “Your children should be able to go to college without being saddled with debt for the rest of their lives!” The never ending list of things our political leaders promise us to keep electing them is almost endless. It sounds great right? I mean, healthcare is expensive and so is college, who couldn’t use a little help with that? I know I could! It would be very easy to answer these things directly. I could tell you what is wrong with that, but I’m going to try to go a little deeper and tell you why it is wrong. I have always felt that if you know the “why”, then the “what” doesn’t matter as much, because you can apply a deeper thought process to most any situation and come out on top. So let’s jump right in.

Every human being is born with the right of self-ownership. Depending on the culture you are born into, that right may be cultivated or hampered, but that does not change the underlying fact of self-ownership. The most valuable thing we own is our time. There are only a finite number of hours that we will be alive on this planet. Each of our hours is precious and each belongs exclusively to us as individuals. We also own the intangible things about ourselves, our talents. If you are a good singer, you decide to show off that talent or keep it hidden for yourself. Hopefully, at this point I haven’t said anything outrageous. This is important because the next step involves a logical leap.

If you believe that you own your time and talent, and decide to trade your time and talent for things you need, like groceries, a car or a house, then by extension you own those things too. If you trade your time for the money to buy those things, for instance, by getting a job that pays X dollars per hour, then you also own those dollars. Those dollars become a physical representation of your time. Hopefully this makes sense. Let’s call these physical things “treasures”. These are called the 3 T’s, time, talent and treasure. This is not my original thought but I don’t know who to give proper credit to, sorry. I can tell you I first heard about the 3 T’s from Dr. Walter Williams.

I don’t think most people would say it is ok to take something that another person has earned without the permission of the person who earned it. Generally we call that stealing and it’s frowned upon. If someone takes something that does not belong to them and gives it to someone else, it is also wrong, even if that person really needed it. I think most of us would agree that if I have traded my time and talent for some treasure, I should be the one who decides how and if that treasure is consumed, or not, and by whom. I own it after all. This should not be too controversial an idea. If you do find it controversial I would ask how much of my stuff should you be able to take? And Why? Let’s put a pin in this idea. We’ll come back to it later.

Let’s look at the government for a second. The government is made up of us, the people. As an entity, the government does not earn money. It does not have any redeemable talent. Most of the money that the government gets comes directly from the people who live in the country. The rest of the money is borrowed against the future labor of those same people, and their children and grandchildren, etc… As a general rule, most people don’t have a problem with a certain portion of their treasure going toward things like a court system, police or the military. What has happened, in the last 100 years or so, though, is more than that. The government commits acts that would get you or I put in jail. They take from one person and give it to another, not for the security of the nation, but because they think it’s fair. I have news for you, it is just as wrong when the government does it as it would be if I did it to you. When the government prints money, they are not printing what they earned. They are printing what you earned and will earn in the future. They are printing your debt.

As the campaign trail starts to heat up this year, and you hear all these promises made by all these different politicians, ask yourself, would I steal from my neighbor to gain the benefit promised by the politician if he was not here to give it to me? If the answer is no, then do not support that politician. Free college? Would you steal from your neighbor to pay to send some other family’s child to college? No? That is what you are doing if you support legislation for free college. Legislation to help create jobs? Is it ok if I take a bunch of your money so a stranger can get a job? Don’t have any to spare in your checking account? No problem, just give me a few of your credit cards, you can pay it back later. Remember, that stranger is just as important as your own kids.

I truly believe that the person who owns the stuff should be the one who decides what happens to their stuff. If they want to give it away, more power to them. If they want to keep it, so be it. It’s their stuff. Their money. The government should not have more rights than the people. When you consume this “all you can eat” buffet of government goods and services, remember that someone out there worked really hard for that and it was stolen from them so that it could be given to you. That doesn’t make you a bad person for taking it, it’s coming from the government after all. We’ve been conditioned from an early age to not think of the government as a group of people, but as a benevolent entity that is there to take care of us. It is not. The government is there to ensure our natural rights are preserved, not to take care of us.

Hopefully I was able to convey why government spending is wrong. Even if what they are spending money on sounds good, they aren’t spending their money, they are spending yours. They are taking money that you would have used to feed your family and giving it to someone else. If you like the safety net, please sponsor a family and feed them. I’m sure you could do a better job than the government. Just don’t take money out of my kids’ mouths to feed other kids. True social justice is when everyone gets to keep what they earn and spend it any way they wish.


The Politics of Feelings

Watching the political coverage lately, I feel like I’m living in a bizarro world where the laws of common sense are completely the opposite of common and things that make sense. This is true on both sides of the political spectrum. I am not going to use this blog to condemn or praise either side. I will criticize both sides, and try to work through what I think may be happening though. I chose the below examples because they are the ones in the spotlight right now. Every other Facebook post is about one of them. These are guys you either love or hate. I hate both of them. That’s not a criticism, just an observation. Having said that, I think I get both of them.

On one side you have democrats like Bernie Sanders, who want to make everything “free”. College is free. Healthcare is free. Jobs for everyone at whatever arbitrary wage he deems “livable”. You want it? He’ll give it to you. Free. Unless you are one of those evil people who actually produce what the rest of us consume. If you are one of those evil people you will pay, oooohhhh you will pay. People love them some Bernie Sanders. Especially college students who by and large have never had to pay for anything. People love him because he “says it like it is”, and is not afraid to ruffle some feathers. He is a self-described socialist and is not afraid to admit it (unless he’s running for president, then he denies it). One compliment I can give Mr. Sanders is that I get the feeling he truly believes what he advocates. Honesty is a rare commodity, especially in Washington, DC. It’s easy to see young inexperienced people and old hippies could fall for the dribble that he spews. I mean really? Free college for anyone who wants to go to a state college? I guess the professors, textbook providers, school related businesses and everyone else related to public universities will be perfectly ok with providing their goods and services at no charge. No? Well how do those people get paid if the education is free? Oh, that’s right. Those evil producers who make everything and give everyone jobs will be forced to pay for your kids’ college. Free.

On the other side you have republican superstar Donald Trump dominating the airwaves and social media. Love him or hate him, he is saying what conservatives want to hear right now. He is riding the wave caused by his remarks about Mexicans a few weeks ago. Apparently, he thinks half the people coming from Mexico illegally are rapists and felons. Of course that is wrong on a variety of levels, but it taps into the feelings of American’s towards illegal aliens in a very Trumpesque over the top way that makes people scream, “He says it like it is! You can’t handle the truth!” Trump has the appeal of not being a Washington insider. To my knowledge he has never held any kind of office. What Trump is, is an opportunist. In the past he was a huge admirer and supporter of Hillary Clinton and universal healthcare. He calls himself a “big second amendment guy” and then advocates for outlawing assault weapons, because only criminals and cops need those. Now that it’s a popular position, he wants to repeal and replace Obamacare. He wants to reduce or eliminate corporate taxes, but advocates for a 14.25% one-time tax on the top 1% because they hold 99% of the wealth and can afford it (paraphrasing). He is really good at making general statements and platitudes without having an actual plan to back them up. He is the worst kind of crony capitalist in his own business pursuits. He at one time tried to take private property through eminent domain. He has strengthened the already dizzying array of necessary license agreements necessary to open a casino in Atlantic City to make competition against him harder. The one compliment I will give Donald Trump is that he is really good figuring out what people want to hear and then telling them that. In times past, I will remind everyone that “crony capitalism” went by a different, more sinister name. You can discover that name for yourself.

So what does all this mean? Why these two? My best guess is that these two guys fill a need. They are a voice that is getting overshadowed by the established leadership on both sides of the political spectrum. People are sick of hearing meaningless political talking points, stated in the same words by different politicians and pundits over and over again. They are saying new things, in a non-politically correct way that speak to the core belief systems of normal citizens everywhere. They are blunt and unapologetic in their commentary. Frankly, it’s refreshing to hear something different. Never mind what they are actually saying is nonsensical, ridiculous, without factual merit and utterly ridiculous in many cases. They make themselves seem to the average guy, with no political pull, just like them. They will work for you when they get to Washington. I would caution everyone to not only listen to what they promise, but to ask how they plan on doing it. Before you grab your pitchfork and cleverly worded poster and head out to the Mexican border or a mega-millionaire’s home, say to yourself, “I know I liked what he said, but does that make it true?” I would certainly personally benefit if all state schools were free, but can we really get enough new money from rich people to pay for it? No. Of course not. Sure, illegal immigration may be a problem in some areas, but are half of them really rapists and felons? No, of course not.

Bottom line, get past the feelings politicians give you. The worst thing anyone can do in politics is trust a politician. Americans love to cheer for their team and boo the opposition. Politics is not sports, it’s not professional wrestling with baby faces and heels. These are real people with real control over your lives, treat them as such. Like I said, I’m not condemning Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. If they weren’t in the headlines I would have used other examples. If you like them, by all means, you be you. I just think you are wrong, that’s all.

I’m Offended!!!!

I want to talk about the disturbing trend lately of being offended. Well, not so much the being offended, but trying to outlaw offensiveness. Whether we are talking about the confederate flag, words, a football team name or mascot, someone’s political views, religious views, lifestyle choices, comedy, or anything else people are being offended by this week. It’s all nonsense. All of it. I guess I’ll use the rest of this blog explaining why, although I wish I could just stop right here.

First of all, there are tons of things that are offensive. Too many to list. There are words I won’t say, and there are offensive words I love to say. People are social creatures and like to make each other laugh. They like to make fun of each other. People like to point out faults in a comical way. People can be mean. I don’t think this will ever change. The easy targets, or low hanging fruit, if you will are: looks, intelligence, attitude and physical ability. So we call each other “retarded”, “gay”, and any of countless other, more creative ways of saying the same thing. I know several people with children on the autism spectrum and can certainly understand how referring to someone as “retarded” would make them angry. But here’s the thing, before the word retarded was used, the technical terms for the different levels of low IQ were idiot, moron and imbecile. The word “retarded” was created as a way to replace those words as they became known as derogatory terms. Now “retarded” is derogatory and we can’t use that. Guess what, whatever replaces “retarded” will soon be used to call people stupid and will then need to be changed. It all means the same thing. It’s a never ending cycle!

By all means be offended, nobody can take that away from you. Just realize that whatever you change the word to, it will also be used in a way that is offensive. Instead of trying to change the language, try creating an argument that would persuade people to be nicer to each other. Better yet, understand that when you hear one person call another one “retarded”, they are not making fun of your child or mentally disabled people in general. A literal comparison is not being made. If I were to call someone a “scumbag” or “douche”, I’m just calling them a jerk in a slightly more creative way. There is no literal connection between jerky behavior and used condoms or vagina cleaner. When the vast majority of people call other people “retarded”, there is no literal connection between the victim of the insult and mentally handicapped people, in their minds. The few for which there is a connection are scumbags. (See what I did there?)

The other currently trendy way to be offended is through symbolism. Specifically in the news right now is the confederate flag. Ever since a racist, white moron shot up a black church, and we found out he loved the confederate flag, there has been a concerted effort to eradicate that flag from human existence. This is the same flag that previously represented southern pride, or pride in being from the south. It was proudly worn by white people and black people alike. Sure, it was one of the flags of the south during the civil war. Yes, the south had slaves. Yes, at one point the confederate flag represented a system that endorsed slavery. I live in the south. My relatives, for the most part live in Georgia. You can’t get more southern that that. I have met many a racist in Georgia and not one of them would advocate for the return of slavery. The meaning of the flag has changed over time. What I believe the racist moron who killed those people, and the people I hear making racist comments when visiting family in Georgia mostly complain about is the perceived preferential treatment for black people over white people by the government. What the flag means to these people is a solidarity against northern aggression, (Washington, DC). In and of itself, this is not racist. Their racism is a completely separate issue. While their logic is maddening to say the least, it’s not the flags fault.

Again, eradicating the confederate flag from Amazon.com, Walmart and the television will not take away the history of the civil war. It will not end racism. It will not even change the attitude of racist people. If anything, it will make it worse. The civil war was a real thing that really happened. The other thing is that it’s a slippery slope when you cave in to mindless, mob mentality, pop culture rage protesters. There are very few flags or symbols that don’t offend someone. How can Walmart sell Che Guevara t-shirts, but not confederate flag t-shirts? He was a sociopathic killer and communist revolutionary! How can you want to eradicate Chic Fil A from existence for supporting traditional marriage, but freely fill up your tank with gasoline made in Saudi Arabia where being homosexual is illegal?

There are tons of arguments against the banning of books, symbols, words, etc… They are all good arguments, but apparently they are not working. We are raising a generation of people who are perpetually offended. My guess is that this mentality is mostly coming from college campuses where social justice warriors are castrating the minds of young people. When these young people graduate and enter the real world, they are not prepared for what they see. Catering to the mild sensibilities of these people is enabling in a way that is not only harmful to their perception of the real world, but dangerous to our freedom. These young people will be the next generation of elected officials. They will be in a position to make laws. They will be in a position to redefine what free speech is. If we let them define the terms of our language now through private means like social media, is it a stretch to think they won’t define those terms through legal means later?

At any rate, supporting free speech means defending offensive behavior, but not necessarily agreeing with that behavior. I firmly believe that words and symbols only hold the power that we give them. Please give me your best offensive term in the comments below so that we can laugh at them and remove some of their power.