Archive for October, 2010

Solemn Patriotism

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

For all of you folks who remember “Give-a-way Don” on late night television in the 1950s and 1960s, cutting prices on used cars was a given. The blackboard sat mid-stage with “original” prices scrawled to the left. Don, with his trademark flourish, would strike that chalk across the figures and slash them “to the bone,” as he put it.

Well, take a deep breath and lean back, for the newest version of that old personality is at it again. Voices rise in fervor as they cast out across the waters and seek support of those who want the government to take care of them. This has never worked. It won’t work now, but they banter away incessantly as if repetition equates results. Working folks know better. For want of a better explanation, use the old adage that remains as valid today as when it first surfaced: “There is no free lunch!”

Labor yields capital. Anyone heard of that mantra? Well, it seems that the 48% of Americans who paid absolutely no federal income taxes in 2008 haven’t been exposed to that credo. Undoubtedly, this figure is even higher today. And what of the rest of us — employed and retired? Well, we foot the bill and nobody in the federal government seems the least bit concerned that there are soon to be more folks in the wagon than pulling it.

Oops! Where has America failed? It all began with the dismantling of the nuclear family. Three generations ago, single mothers were widows. Families were close knit and worked together. The only debauchery flaunted was that of the characters described in The Great Gatsby, where money fueled bad behavior and poor moral habits. Sadly, such philandering is still common among some of the upper crust. But don’t judge all by a few. There are a lot of families who have worked their way up the corporate ladder and still held to traditional values.

The franchise is the keystone of our republic. I am reminded of Benjamin Franklin.
When asked what type of government the American people were going to participate in, by a well-meaning woman, a stern Benjamin Franklin warned that our new government was going to be “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.”

Recently, I booted up a site called Freedom’s Phoenix. You remember Phoenix, the bird that rose again from the ashes. Well, we’re not in ashes yet, folks, but we are smoldering and it should alarm you to such a degree that you encourage others to go to the polls and vote people into office that ascribe to the tenets of the Founders and rebuff the current attitudes that border on outright Socialism. Like the famed “Trojan Horse”, government promises sound good, but they hold a dark secret — they aren’t free. If you work, you will pay for them and so will your children and grandchildren!

Freedom’s Phoenix asks a simple question of readers: Can we preserve our great country or will the American government be irretrievably lost to the special interests who would dare to use our country for their own ends, regardless of the cost. Consider this Robert Hutchins’ quote:

“The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.”

The site goes on to expound on basics that guided those educated and determined men who fashioned this nation so many years ago. America has indeed been living on momentum which began with the Founding Fathers and has been perpetuated by successive generations of American people, until recently,

Increasingly, the American people witness the abrogation of their political rights, their economic futures and the heritage of its children. Yet, the events that would have plunged America into the throes of a bloody revolution only a couple of generations ago are met with notable indifference today.

To which I add this. That indifference should not accompany you to the ballot box. Despite what the majority in Congress thinks, they do not know what is best for you. You do. Clear the board. I saw a wonderful slogan on a tee shirt at one of the rallies earlier this week.

We the people…. Are coming. Are you? I hope so. Think about it. You need not take up arms. Use your vote. Some of the most famous freedom fighters in the world never held a gun. One came from India.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight
you, then you win.” Mahatma Gandhi
My, my, how things stay the same. They ignored us. They laughed at us. They called us names. Now they must fight us. The end will come swiftly. We will win.

Take up your flag and hold it in your heart and you enter that booth on Tuesday next week. The future is in you hands. Forge it well.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Genesis or Doomsday?

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

For all the pundits who prognosticate on the upcoming midterm elections, perhaps it’s time to look a bit further — to 2012. Aha, you say, the presidential election cycle. No, not that…

It is compelling to read the forecasts of the Aztecs — yes, the same people who built the impressive pyramids in Mexico’s interior. They claim the world will end on December 21, 2012. Some historians look at this as a cultural date set in stone, so to speak, a date that reflects the very incisive elements of a civilization that predated present-day America by centuries.

When Native Americans hunted for food and scalped their enemies, the Aztecs built monumental structures that dovetailed so closely with astronomy that their calendar was more precise than any set by any other people on earth.

Do a little research. You will come away slack-jawed at their ingenuity and ability to scan the stars and build their temples to coincide with the sun. Odd, isn’t it, so many cultures around the world worship “up”? Earthlings look to the sky for an entity responsible for creation.

Yet, in retrospect, some scientists claim that the date of 12-21-12 (see the similarity among the numbers?) is not a designation for Doomsday, but something far different.

If, in fact, these scientists are correct, that ominous date heralds the beginning of a new era. Given the history of the past 60 years and the exponential increase in populations dependent upon government for basic needs, then one would hope that the change cited would be a massive swing in the pendulum toward self-reliance.

You remember that, don’t you? The ability to take care of one’s self. It’s dormant in a large part of society, but if sparked by actual need, it can right itself and sail into the future — paving the way for a better life for all of us.

When you teach a child to read, you open countless doors of opportunity. When you teach a man to work, you give him an identity and pride that no amount of aid can equal. Giving a person something robs the very real impetus to achieve. When you remove incentive, you weaken the species.
It is not lost on a lot of us that the year 2012 coincides with a major presidential election cycle in the United States. If ever we were in need of a sea change in attitudes and control, it is now.

History, again, is the best teacher. Nowhere on earth and at no time in history has socialism ever worked. Look at Russia. When the Bolsheviks took over in 1917, the first thing they did was to take all the intelligencia and remove them from society — crippling any chance of societal gain. Farmers were taken to Siberia and city dwellers were placed on farms. Food production nearly came to an end.

Years later, when hunger was rampant, those who worked the land were given small plots of their own where they could raise their own food. What happened was predictable, in purely economic terms. The harvests from the small plots outstripped those of the government farms to such a degree that even the most hardened Communist had to see the difference.

Did the system change? Hardly. The government boot remained on the necks of the people for decades. No competition fostered sad examples such as warehouses of size 9 brown shoes. No choice. No opportunity. No incentive. No progress.

When Lyndon Baines Johnson launched the War on Poverty, he began the only real war that America has lost. Contrary to those who criticize the war in Viet Nam, no American unit ever lost a battle there. It was pure politics that withdrew the troops and left the South Vietnamese people to be slaughtered by the North Viet Nam Communist troops.

Do we have fewer poor? We have more. Do we have intact families among the poor? No. Do we respect the institution of marriage and decry practices held in dim view for millennia? We do not.

It is time for us to expect — yes, and pray for — a sea change in our political system and a reinstitution of personal responsibility. The growing numbers of government-dependent Americans needs to come to a screeching halt.

Schools need to be in local control. Many government programs need to end. When the average government worker makes more than a worker in the civilian sector, there is something terribly awry in the wage system. Common sense needs to be the rule of the day.
We, as a people, need to relegate “Political Correctness” to the ash heap. No amount of justification can defend it. There is right and there is wrong. To err is human, and I — for one — am tired of watching liars parse their language and sincere people ridiculed for honest opinions.

Don’t despair and abandon the fight. There is light at the end of the tunnel and it emanates from a lamp held by a grand lady on Ellis Island. Freedom lights the way. Creeping socialism threatens that light, but it can be fueled once again by a simple ballot.

Do not allow those who seek “basic fairness” (what a crock!) for all. Equality for all is not only not achievable, but also unneeded. Take away incentive and a people become serfs. This nation was not built by a people that sat on its corporate backside. It was built on work, and it’s time we put work first.

To take a play on words from 1970s California — of all places — remember the call of Santa Monica: “Surf’s up!” Twist this a bit and you have the warning for our time: “Serfs up?” I hope not. Think about it.

Leadership or Needership?

Friday, October 8th, 2010

“Leadership or Needership?”

Every time an election rolls around, the words fly. Yet, not one of us is able to escape the repercussions of recent history. The following discussion is not a digression from the title of this column. Rather, it is a prologue to a clearer understanding of what we face and what we must do about it.

I had a fabulous professor of African-American History at Butler University in the early 1990s. Her name was Katherine and she was very young. Perhaps barely thirty, she had just earned her doctorate and was as enthusiastic as any person I ever had the privilege of having as an instructor in graduate school.

Of all the interesting and thought-provoking elements of her class was her explanation of how the demographics of the inner cities — and more succinctly — the wider society among the twelve or so percent of Americans who prefer to be called African American than the much older term Negro or its temporary, socially-acceptable newer term Black.

Those of us who grew up in Shelbyville had a false sense of society. Yes, there was discrimination to people of color, but to a far lesser degree than in the counties around us. The mindset of those counties was punitive, caustic and often spelled out in crude signs warning people of color not to stay beyond sundown. That signs were left up speaks volumes for the residents of the counties where such signs marked city limits of county seats.

Getting back to Katherine. She explained that from their first arrival on American shores until the mid-19th century, the African American culture was based solidly on the family unit. Think back on your youth if you are close to 60 or so. If you do, you will see the evidence here at home.

I cannot recall one friend of color who did not live with a mother, a father and brothers and sisters. Often, a family also included a grandparent or an aunt or uncle whose age made it difficult to live independently.

The statistics are high, and I’m not sure I can quote them precisely, but I think that Katherine said that the close Black family unit was not only the norm among the culture, but also nearly unanimous. Pushing further into the lives of those who lived in Black areas of larger cities, evidence affirms that there was a wide spectrum of occupations among the residents. Children grew up among their own people, but they had built in incentives to aspire to choose a career. Indeed, it was more difficult to enter a college, but even hurdles that would daunt some young people didn’t deter those who dreamed of a bigger life and were willing to work hard to achieve it.

Youngsters went about their daily lives and saw black doctors, dentists, lawyers, insurance agents, shopkeepers, barbers, hairstylists, and merchants in their neighborhoods. Sadly, the greatest movement toward equality brought with it a distinct downside for the poor unable to raise themselves to a middle class level.

Once integration took hold and housing opportunities opened up for Black families yearning for their piece of the American Dream, professionals fled for the suburbs. Doctors and dentists may have kept their inner city offices for a while, but little by little, they drifted away from the old neighborhood.

As a result, poor children marooned in the central cities gradually had fewer and fewer role models. When the stable elements left the area, the criminal elements gained a foothold. The saddest point of all this is that out of wedlock births skyrocketed among the poor the inner cities, fueled by government payments to women with dependent children. Suddenly, the social stigma of unwed mother disappeared. This, however, is not a condition specific to the Black population. It was society wide and cut across the economic and ethnic spectrum.

Parallel to it, and even larger in sheer numbers were white folk who were poor, plus other minority populations who struggled to make meager ends meet. Clearly, the consequence of handing out money to those without a father in the home and to those who were not working began a downward spiral that now eclipses the lives of nearly one in seven Americans. What a travesty! What a tragedy! Removing incentive draws us close to collapse.

It is hard to estimate how many children grew up in a home without a father. Black or white, Asian or Hispanic, the children suffer. This is not to say that a single mother who was abandoned, a divorced mother, or a widow could not rear a child well. Of course, they could. However, a solid family unit is a building block of priceless value that cannot be underestimated.

Now, to elections…. Alexis de Tocqueville warned of the danger inherent when the people realize that their vote can access the national treasury. Well, isn’t that special? (Shades of Saturday Night Live’s “Church Lady”!) Nearly fifty percent of Americans pay no federal income taxes and a very small number at the high end pay nearly all of them.

I’m all for a flat tax that closes the loopholes of the super wealthy, but I lament the fact that the growing numbers of those dependent upon the government for their existence seek “needership” with their franchise, not the “leadership” that will spark a new generation of schools that teach factual American and world history, explain that no study of great art, music, or literature can be done without the basics of religion — in specific, Christianity — and focus on what freedom means and that it is not, and never has been free. This “leadership” would engender ambition and inspire those with little resources to work toward a better life.

Not all kids will achieve the success of a Donald Trump or a Steve Jobs, but each of those kids can learn the rewards of pride in accomplishment and the good feeling of a job well done. Are these within reach of them? You betcha!

Those who champion food stamps and extended unemployment insurance as a cure all to today’s ills need to get a grip on reality. The path to economic freedom is a society built on jobs. Compare the salaries of government workers with those in the private sector, but do it before you eat.

What will it be for you? Are you ready to turn this country over to those who see the people as servants rather than bosses? November looms closer and the power is in your hand as you stroke the pen on a ballot, turn a handle, or press a button. “Leadership or Needership? It’s your choice. Think about it.