2015 November 11, Wednesday

  This is a long piece describing my personal
beliefs on pretty-much every political issue
in America. I think it's worth reading from
beginning to end, but I'll give the reader an
out from Tom Lehrer's "Irish Ballad."

My tragic tale, I won't prolong,
My tragic tale I won't prolong,
And if you do not enjoy the song,
You've yourselves to blame if it's too long,
You should never have let me begin, begin,
You should never have let me begin.
     Raised in a left-wing household where the words "Republican," "evil," and "racist" were synonymous, my political enlightenment came in three distinct phases:

     First, I read David Friedman's The Machinery of Freedom, subtitled "Guide to a Radical Capitalism." I was eighteen, it was 1975, the book was six years old, and it changed my entire understanding of political economics. I always assumed, somehow, that government was able to effect positive change in regulation and redistribution, but somehow we weren't doing it right. Milton Friedman's son, also an economist at the University of Chicago, explains that this isn't so. There is no right way to regulate our way to a better world. People, even ordinary, stupid, ignorant people, make better decisions for themselves than well-meaning bureaucrats. (I think that's what Adam Smith was trying to tell us.)

     Second, I gradually came to understand the vision that started with the Magna Carta in 1215 and resulted in my own United States in 1789. That the best result with ordinary people ("Laws of Nature and Nature's God" in Jefferson's words) is a free society respecting certain moral values which I summarize in a page on what is a libertarian. I realized that liberalism is expediency, ends-justify-the-means, immorality. How much hurting people and taking their stuff is okay? Who decides how much is okay?

     I had assumed they and I differ on our moral code, our scientific method, and our logic. Is it possible, I realized, that the difference is more profound? Is it possible they simply don't have or value things like moral codes, scientific methods, and logic? Is it possible that tag lines like "Is it so terrible to buy a kid breakfast?" really are as much as they see, that the notion that somebody's paying for that breakfast, perhaps with his own family's dinner, just isn't part of the equation? One liberal buddy pooh-pooh-ed my persistent pursuit of truth in my essays as pointless polemic pointing out that his quest for clarity was a higher calling, kind of like the high-school debating team where their words mean whatever they want them to mean. What is real isn't important, only who says it better. (The alliteration is mine.) Arguing for morality, science, and logic doesn't work when the other side doesn't think those things are interesting.

     Third, when Pete Seeger died I noticed in his biography his support for Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler, among other horrors. When I looked back at history I saw a long list of issues where American left and right strongly differed and where history made it clear the right was right. I already understood the moral connection between American liberalism and evil and now I saw it was more than a moral connection as the left actually supported most of the awful things in recent history. The political path from Slavery through Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan and forced segregation and forced integration to today's forced racial quotas has been a liberal cause since 1854, when the Democratic Party was formed. They supported eugenics as it evolved through an impending ice age scare and acid-rain hype and DDT and the ozone layer to today's global-warming frenzy. They supported Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, Castro, and Mao. These are all causes with strong liberal support at the time that the right opposed at the time that most of us feel are wrong today.

     This history is real, liberal support for the worst moments in the past two centuries is real, the terrible consequences of their ideas and their support for their ideas is real. Maybe their ideas are bad, maybe it's just bad luck, I don't know, but the history in the above paragraph is what really happened when the progressive liberals got their way. This should be exposed in every history class in America.

     So we have bad economics, bad morality, and bad history on the left. I understand why people believe them, but my mathematical insight and general smarts make it clear to me that we need a different vision than the left. I believe in American history and American values and American pride without accepting the religious-right that emerged during the anti-communism movement around 1950. I believe our schools have failed us utterly in their decision not to educate young people about those values and our history. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Ignorance dooms us to repeat the mistakes of history. What greater mistake is there than the liberal-progressive movement, especially since 1913 in the United States?

     What is especially an eye opener is how appealing the messages of despots and tyrants are to their supporters in America's liberal left. Stalin and Hitler didn't advertise gulags and gas chambers, they promised a clean, orderly society that takes care of its members just as progressive liberals do today. We want to believe, but that doesn't make it so.


     Gosh, it all sounds so negative, kind of like tirades against cancer. Isn't there some way to put my political position in a positive light?

     Let me put it this way:

     I believe in a community of productive, proud people doing well by doing good. I want to interact with people who take joy in their work, who take joy doing what they do, who take joy in their hobbies, who take joy in their achievements, who take joy in the people around them, and who take joy in the value of other people doing what they do.

     With the mathematical, logical insight and understanding available to me, I understand that a libertarian view uniquely does that, kind of like what Ayn Rand was saying in her books.

     This isn't some kind of hug-everybody love-fest. This isn't like children's day camp where every kid gets an award just for breathing. The price of accolade is achievement and the first step towards achievement is an attitude of respect and regard for effort. The second step is a commitment to give a helping hand towards anybody taking the first step who needs help.

     "I can't promise you will succeed if you work hard, but I can promise you will not succeed if you don't work hard."

     I can live with that.

     So we know what I don't believe. What do I believe? I believe in truth, justice, and the American way. I believe in motherhood and apple pie. I believe in human life, liberty, property, livelihood, and contract. If we respect these things in our political lives, then our country will run well again. If we respect these in our personal lives, then we ourselves will do good and do well. If we respect these in religious lives, then we won't have the horrors of crusades and jihads.

     Yes, it really is that simple.

     Now let me explore some of the hot-button issues and explain what I believe, why I believe it, and why you should believe it, too. (Yes, I'm a smart, logical person who has given all this considerable thought, but you shouldn't accept an opinion just because a smart person accepts it. You should consider my views because I'm a whiz at math and logic, but you should understand them for yourself.)

     Libertarian: My views are decidedly libertarian, summarized well with sound bites like "Don't hurt people and don't take their stuff" or the non-aggression principle rejecting initiation of force. I have summarized libertarian principles in a form that I believe includes rather than excludes just about everything libertarian that rejects most of what isn't libertarian.

     Ninety-five percent (95%) of the world has no libertarian foundation in their systems of government. There is a strong movement to tout Denmark as an exemplar of a well run country, mostly by people who have chosen not to live there. Instead they want to live here to enjoy the fruits of our labor and the consequences of our ideas, so we must be doing something right. Other than a couple of military excesses in 1914 and 1938, Germany has had tremendous success with a decidedly-socialistic system of government. Both India and China has been quite productive with governments that violate libertarian principles. There are alternatives out there.

     While libertarian thinking is not a global requirement for success, it is the basic founding principle of the United States of America. We came here for its values and the results of those values and I support both. Coming to my home to promote ideologies my great-grandparents struggled to leave doesn't sit right with me.

     While there may be two libertarians who agree on everything, I'm not one of them. So let's explore what I believe about other things.

     Race: No doubt there have been differences in how difference people perform and produce, in America and worldwide. Some of that difference in America correlates with race. Some of that race difference may be cultural, some genetic, and some historical. On top of that there's more than enough hate to go around.

     Blacks legitimately complain about "white privilege," where they are not treated the same under the same conditions. It's true, they're not. Neither were the Germans, the Polish, the Jews, or the Italians. These other groups worked their way up, their children learned to speak American without an accent, and they maintain the duality of their own culture at home and America's culture outside. They learned to prosper.

     Blacks then pointed out that these Germans, Polish, Jews, and Italians didn't look different. Then the Chinese, the Japanese, the Koreans, the Vietnamese, and the Indians came. They worked their way up, their children learned to speak American without an accent, and they maintain the duality of their own culture at home and America's culture outside. They look different and they learned to prosper.

     The issue is not racial, it's the expectation of a free ride. America has been, and should be, about making it with our own effort. The only color that matters, ultimately, is green, the green money we earn through our effort.

     What do you think is going to happen to a black community that rejects working hard and being successful in school as "acting white"?

     Government racial programs to help blacks have all failed, from slavery to Affirmative Action. (What do you think Martin Luther King would say about Affirmative Action? He would be horrified, that's what he would say.) It's time to end them all, now and forever.

     Some people don't like other people and some of those people don't like those other people because of skin color or ethnic background. A public institution should be required to put the same face to people of all colors and ethnic backgrounds (plus male and female for most things), but a private institution should be able to discriminate. I would ask they tell me up front, so I don't have a nasty altercation. My ethnic group probably has the longest and most severe hate against it. It's when somebody goes out and hurts somebody else that I have a problem and we all should have a problem with that.

     In spite of all the lies and vitriol from the left, the American right has believed in a race-neutral playing field all along, and I share that belief.

Some Facebook sound bites I agree with:

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity
by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for,
another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that
the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealthy by dividing it.

5. When half the people get the idea that they do
not have to work because the other half is going to
take care of them; and when the other half gets
the idea that it does no good to work because
somebody else is going to get what they work for,
that is the beginning of the end of any nation.
     Economics: Government economic regulation has been a travesty at best and a corrupt farce most of the time. "Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of production and trade." Is that so hard?

     Here's the good part. Any time an economy has moved towards this kind of freedom, every rung of the economic ladder has done better and, conversely, every time the economy has moved away, towards control and regulation, every level has done worse. The past eight years 2007-2014 in the United States is yet another example. We have descended so far that the minimum wage has become a stumbling block for heaven's sake!

     You may not like what I do and you may not want to work under the conditions some people have to deal with, but it's a matter of choice. A century ago in 1912 choice was impeded by lack of information and still our choice-disabled labor force lived better than elsewhere. People in 2015 have plenty of information to make their own decisions.

     Of course, little of the economic-intervention sentiment is about doing anybody any good, especially those who need it most. The object of power is power.

     Taxes: We should repeal the sixteenth amendment (the income tax). I won't cry if we replace it with a small federal sales tax, probably a value-added tax (VAT) is best, but I don't prefer it. Arthur Laffer (of Laffer-curve fame in economics) suggests a uniformly-applied carbon-tax as the sole federal tax, not too bad either. While I prefer a private solution (of course), I'm almost comfortable with targeted taxes (preferably state and local) like fuel taxes paying for roads and air-traffic services and property taxes paying for police protection.

     That means the dismantling of all the New-Deal and Great-Society bullshit. Social Security should revert to the states immediately and be abolished as soon as possible. Let the transition from income taxes to sales taxes, from productivity taxes to consumption taxes, create the incentive to save.

     Education: This is a big bomb in America. Everybody complains we pay to much for school and then people from all over the world struggle to come here for their education. We must be doing something right.

     Here's my plan: I base it on two things.

• Almost all the benefit of schooling goes to the student.
• The benefit of schooling happens after the expense.

Well, let's see, don't we already do that with houses? When we're young, many of us buy homes we can't possibly afford at the time we buy them, but we pay for them with projected future income. We call that a mortgage and we have the house as collateral.

     Since there is no collateral for education, we can't take back the knowledge learned or degrees earned, good education law should allow more "teeth" in education loans than in other kinds of borrowing. I would argue that the law should allow a school loan to be enforced with 10% garnishing of wages if it is not paid. If your school doesn't make you 10% richer, then you probably shouldn't have bothered with it, you should have gotten a job instead, or at least gotten an education that trains you for a productive job that makes money.

     Primary and secondary education (K-12) can be settled similarly, except that the parent or guardian would have the legal ability to obligate the student up to some amount, say $100 thousand for all thirteen years with the same 10%-of-income limit for payback. It's a little stickier because a five-year-old child really isn't equipped to choose an education path. That's why it's important to limit the liability and consequences that parents or guardians can impose. My suggestion is an upper limit of $100 thousand with a maximum 10%-of-income payback rate. In a more-competitive market, we may find it costs a lot less than $8000/year for satisfactory elementary, junior-high, and high-school education, at least at the low end. I don't think we'll see factors of ten or one hundred for free-market over regulated education as we do in health care, but there may be economies that don't sacrifice too much.

     All of this is the safety net for those students whose parents haven't the means, or the willingness, to pay for their pre-employment education.

     Here's the part I thought was easy, but maybe it does take a Stanford Ph.D. to see it. Taking away government funding for something is absolutely, positively, emphatically not the same as taking that something away. Neither my state of Arizona nor my city of Scottsdale pay for Internet pornography. My company doesn't pay for it either. Nobody I know feels that we are somehow vindictively taking away Internet porn, simply that we don't choose to pay for it for somebody else. The same goes for education, health care, fine arts, or any other government service foisted on unwilling taxpayers. So many of the I-love-Bernie posts (as they did for other would-be tyrants in earlier generations) center on the message that refusal to take tax money to pay for something is the brutal removal of that thing. It's not, it's just that you can have it only if you pay for it. I just don't know why somebody seems to need my level of education to see something I think is utterly obvious.

     Health care: I'm happy to have high-end health care around, nice, fancy hospitals that charge $2000/day for the room and $25 for a box of fancy-medically-named tissues. In the world of unregulated health care, I paid $1600 for a bone cancer patient from diagnosis and second opinion through surgery and post-operative recovery, care I would have been happy to have for myself. Who doesn't have $1600 in the United States, or can't get it if they need it for major-medical expenses? Creating an infrastructure that costs $160 thousand and then creating a government boondoggle to tax people to pay that sure sounds like a big scam to me.

     Even in today's nutty, overpriced, overburdened health-care world, I had a plan for $70/month that paid for everything medical, after a $5000 deductible had been paid. Those who can't pay $5000 can get charitable help or can borrow it.

     Let's deregulate health care and let people choose a level of care. Let's change the role of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to an advisory one, red means they don't like it, yellow means they don't know yet, and green means it passed all the test. High end insurance would pay the extra costs for green medicine while the cheaper plans would settle for some yellow choices.

     Minimum wage: The primary effect of minimum wage is to keep low-paid people out of the job market, to remove the first rungs of the employment ladder for people first climbing up.

     Suppose I wanted to get a better-trained workforce for our economy. I would create 1.4 million entry-level jobs and train people who have no employment record, no skills, nothing. I would train these people to greet people, to stock shelves, to manage cash registers, and other basic skills. After a year, those people would graduate from the training and get actual, paying, useful jobs with their newly demonstrated skills. Not only does Walmart do that, they actually pay their "trainees" and get useful work from them. I may not love everything Walmart does, but converting 1.4 million people a year from useless to useful is a good thing they do.

     So, no, I don't believe we should have a minimum wage by law, but contracts with unions or employees can have them.

     Unions: Unions have two useful functions that I see. First, they can present certified, trained, proven candidates to an employer. If the union says this person is trained, then I can count on it. This is a useful, positive function. By actually training these people, the union can add value by turning less-qualified people into more-qualified people and getting them better pay for producing better work. They can also get extra wage money for their certified, more-qualified people.

     The union also can present a unified front in wage negotiations to match a unified corporation. They have one legitimate tool, the strike. They can have a lot of employees quit at the same time. But once they quit, they quit, and they have no claim on their jobs except to re-apply for them. The legalization and legitimization of their strike tactics where they claim ownership of a job that somebody else pays for is totally silly and should be abolished immediately, along with any form of mandatory membership. They're an agency like any other and should be treated that way, so I can join if they add value.

     Anything more for unions is political pandering rather than any kind of goodness for anybody and should be eliminated.

     Science: The science of politics has been silly for a century, from eugenics and an impending ice age through ozone depletion to global warming. With the last seventeen years of no-change data, any standard low enough to support climate change allows astrology to pass easily. All government backing for so-called science should end. It is a shameless pitch for despotism and our news media should be exposing that every day. That's part of their job.

     Let's go a step further. It's no accident that the dictatorships on this planet have seized control of academic science early on their list, from the communists and the Nazis to the American progressives. That has to end immediately. No college should be allowed to publish scientific results funded by government except under a big disclaimer that any recommendations are politically tainted. Shame on them for not doing that already!

     Am I the only one totally appalled at Princeton University's choice of Al Gore as their graduation-day speaker? Not only was he a more than a bit partisan (didn't he run for President for one of the major parties?), he represents highly-politically-charged science. When eugenics had the starring role global warming does today, major universities had the good taste not to invite the poster boy Josef Megele as their graduations-day speakers. The universities on the left appreciated and admired him, but it just would have been wrong to represent his work that way.

     Environment: We have cleaner air and water from regulation than before, but we have to remember what made before so dirty. The government took control of private claims to clean air and water sometime in the nineteenth century. Allow people to make legitimate claims against polluters, let's treat our air and water as somebody's property with claims against those who make them dirty. If government wants to certify some process or other is clean enough or healthy enough, then I guess I don't have too big a problem with it, except for the inappropriate (and unconstitutionality at a federal level) use of tax money for it.

     Gay marriage: It's nobody's political concern who marries whom. I don't know where the idiocy of regulating marriage came from. On the other hand, I stand by any institution, religious or other, that chooses not to participate, not to officiate, not to make wedding cakes, or anything else they don't want to do.

     There is one sticky legal point. Anything about homosexual marriage applies just as well to polygamy. If I can have a same-sex spouse, then why am I limited to just one? The only problem is we have a legal system that affords specific privileges to married spouses and those privileges probably shouldn't apply to more than one person. So it behooves the legal-enforcement agency (most-likely government for any time to come) to require a married person to designate a single "legal" spouse. Besides the obvious confusion in the hospital with two spouses arguing about medical treatment, legal polygamy would allow a community of people to declare themselves all married to each other to exercise legal privileges beyond their true community. (I'm thinking of "the mob" declaring that nobody can "rat" on anybody citing multiple-spousal privilege so they can commit crimes that their organization would not otherwise be able to get away with.)

     Drugs: It should be legal to take drugs, medicinally or recreationally. It should also be legal for an employer (or other cooperating person or agency) to know and to discriminate on the basis of what drugs somebody uses.

     Abortion: I'm pro-choice in the political arena. I don't have to believe abortion is right to believe that we shouldn't interfere by law with that decision. It isn't about life, broccoli is alive before we kill and eat it. It isn't about having a heartbeat, we kill meat animals and eat them. It isn't about potential humanity as every gamete (sperm or egg) has the potential to create a human being.

     It may be that the sanctity of human life begins at birth. The Bible's book of Genesis defines humanity at first breath, about the same time as birth. We could argue that the fetus isn't actually being killed so much as it's simply unable to survive without the mother making the choice to keep sustaining it, but that's a bit of a cop out. The decision to end a pregnancy is the decision to end the life of the organism within.

     But is society responsible for maintaining all human life? For a lot of good reasons, it's a bias we have in our law. The exceptions to laws preventing killing tend to revolve around people threatening others, people being punished on death row, or people terminally ill, but not people whose only issue is being an unwanted child. Still, I maintain it is not the position of government to force a woman to continue a pregnancy.

     My question is not does a fetus deserve to die but does some family she doesn't know deserve to lose its living so a woman can be forced to maintain the life of an unborn child? I have no problem with people exerting their own personal pressure to keep a woman from ending a pregnancy, but I have a big problem with using political clout to get somebody else to pay for it. Birth seems a reasonable line in the sand. My own personal take might be closer to when the fetus earns its own living and pays its own rent without government assistance, or even a government job, but I'll take birth or first breath without protest.

     Here's the other side, however. There are many people who feel strongly that a fetus is a sanctified human being to be accorded the public protection we give the sanctity of human life. While I may protect a woman's choice, I certainly would protect somebody's choice not to assist her in aborting a pregnancy. It's just wrong to make somebody pay for any part of any abortion, not no-way, not no-how, and not only if he's religious about it. Choice means taking responsibility for choice and I feel even more strongly about that than I do about the choice itself.

     Functus lege eadem extremum ad omnes: It means "the same law for all," but it sounds more profound in Latin. (At least it sounds more pontifical, doesn't it?) If it's a law, then we should all be expected to follow it. If I don't expect to follow it, or don't expect others to follow it, then it shouldn't be a law. "Everybody does it" and "I shouldn't have to" aren't acceptable excuses. Coming up with law we can all obey and live with is a seriously, useful, and important function of lawyers and legislators.

     One of the complex parts of morality and law is the gap between mindless obedience and respect for the law. I have no problem with folks bending and sometimes breaking the law for a good reason and accepting full responsibility for the consequences. I remember a strong, liberal, "maverick" view that touted doing things the wrong way for its own sake, and I don't believe in that at all. I follow the rules until there is a good reason not to follow them, and that reason can't be just that I get to take something from somebody else.

     A liberal doctor friend of mine was proud of his position in favor of federal regulation of medicine, but when he needed some medicine they didn't permit, he used his connections to get it from Europe. It never dawned on him that a law he didn't want to obey for himself might be wrong for other people who didn't have his connections. How much and how many has that attitude hurt?


     Morality: What is morality? Morality is what works, it's behavior that produces better living for a community. We all follow certain rules and we all live better, not killing, not stealing, not hurting people, not taking their stuff, that sort of thing. I don't defend my moral views with some kind of mysticism, religious or otherwise, simply the proven record over millennia of a pattern of behavior. The simple parts of my morality defend a person's physical person and the ability to defend oneself. I go from there to defending personal space and privacy. Things get more complicated when we define the institution of private property, an essential part of that morality. It starts to sound a lot like the United States Bill of Rights, funny thing about that.

     The Jews created 612 laws that define a basic morality (along with a bunch of other rituals I don't bother with) and extended that with some sixty volumes of Talmud elaborating upon the scripture and extending the law to new settings not envisioned by those who wrote the original Torah. That complexity isn't a surprise to those who have thought about it, law is complicated because it tries to define morality in all possible circumstances.

     In all this, I defend morality because we live better when we follow the rules. Whatever you want to do at home, there are ways we conduct ourselves in civilized societies. We open the door for people whose hands are full carrying stuff and we let people off elevators and trains before boarding them. These aren't hard things, but they make life better for all of us.

     So howcum, if I defend morality for the betterment of our community of mankind, I don't defend short-term morality breaches for the betterment of a community of people. Is there some kind of long-term "integration" of morality that breaks down in the shorter term?

     The answer is "yes." We have found out over eons of history that following the big rules over time wins but making shortcut breaches doesn't work so sell. Let me give two examples from my own personal morality.
• I was a big fan of the ARPAnet back when it was the government-funded communication network we used to connect computers to each other. When ARPA threatened to defund their network, I had mixed feelings. ARPAnet, now Internet, was a powerful positive force whose possibilities were realized even back then. (Think of all the pornography it could carry!) I decided that my moral objection to public funding of private goods was greater than the benefit of all that communication, that my opinion is the Internet should have to fly on its own wings or not at all.
• I was a big fan of Bell Telephone Laboratories. It was a huge institution of research and knowledge depending on the long-term commitment of society (government, actually) to the stability of the telephone network as it existed then. Without the coordination of tens of thousands of bright engineers, all would be chaos and darkness. When the government threatened Bell Telephone, I opposed their destructive force, but decided it was essential that Bell survive on its own, without government support, or not at all.

     So here's the funny thing. Both institutions were good in their way, both were publicly funded and supported which was wrong, both evolved into something better when they were allowed to compete in the marketplace. I supported what I felt was short-term wrong for long-term right and it turned out better. Funny thing about that.

     Religion: There are many paths to righteousness, to achieving the moral objectives described in the above section. As I'm not afflicted by the God gene, I choose a secular one. Overall, I certainly don't see religious people doing better at morality by any standard. Today's Islam Jihad issues were preceded by Christianity's Crusades. The Spanish Inquisition went for one-third of a millennium, from 1492 through 1834. That means it was still in full force when our Constitution went into effect in 1789.

     It is my belief that, in human history up through one-hundred years ago, from 1,000,000 B.C. through 1915, organized religion is the single greatest evil humanity ever faced. The communists in Russia, the National Socialists in Germany, the purges in China, and ISIS in the middle east (all American-progressive, left-wing, Democrat-supported causes) give politics a good shot at replacing religion as the greater evil in the past century. "Religion is the right profile of the same monster whose left profile is politics."

     I don't know what made the American right-wing embrace religion. It certainly isn't part of the original heritage of our nation. "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." That's not too hard, is it? That's the way I've said it all my life and that's the way it was originally said every day in school. Our national motto was "E Pluribus Unum," one out of many.

     In a political setting, adding "Under God," or "Under Allah," or any other religious reference, pitching any religion over another, even pitching religion in any form, is wrong in so many ways.

     We are no more a Christian nation than an Islam nation. If anything, we're a Jewish nation because Christopher Columbus had three boatloads of Jews escaping the newly-formed Inquisition in Spain and what could be more Jewish than the colonial atmosphere of commerce and community, especially in the New York colony? But we're not a Jewish nation, not a Hindu nation, not any of those. We respect all faiths in my America with partiality towards none. (We don't just accept all faiths, we really, truly respect them).

     Does that mean I get in a snit when they put the Ten Commandments in the courthouse or a nativity scene in the park during the winter solstice? Most of our citizens are Christian and having a couple of non-threatening symbols of Christianity in public places shouldn't offend anybody. Adding a Hanukkah menorah is a nice touch, but it isn't necessary to make me feel included in America.

     In the movie "Contact" they cited that 95% of the human world believes in some kind of god and that's consistent with my own observations. Bright people tend to be less devout in that area and I have to suspect that most of the brilliant minds in the 1770s and 1780s who wrote our founding documents were probably as atheistic as most of the brilliant minds I meet today.

     Evolution: I don't know where the great divide came from between religious fundamentalism and scientific exposition. Let's take evolution versus the Book of Genesis whose first word (bray-shees, written with the vowels) was so well known to us in our education. Let's suppose God created the world in seven God-sized days from the big bang to the formation of the solar system through the first ocean plants and land animals to the present day. How would you explain it to people knowing what people knew 3500 years ago? Would it look terribly different from the Book of Genesis? So those who knew what they knew then didn't do such a bad job.

     Besides, I don't think Genesis was trying to give a precise, scientific account of the formation for the world as much as it was trying to show how one god (monotheism and all that) could create the world and all the joy and beauty in it.

     Why are we all looking for a fight here? We can believe in most of the things most religious people believe in without giving up any of the understanding of science. Look at it another way: Isn't our most sophisticated science a wonderful way to get the briefest peek into the eye and mind of God?

     No, I, myself, don't believe it, but I don't pooh-pooh those who do. As I said before, there are many paths to righteousness, and there are also many paths to understanding our world.

     Guns: First of all, America is a gun club, like it or not. It was founded on that principle, like it or not. While I don't think every citizen should be required to be armed, regular people carrying firearms is a part of American life. If only outlaws and police carry guns, then police become outlaws, or some such "sound byte" on Facebook. The statistics on school shooting and other such usually rely on the larger population of the United States in comparing murder deaths to other countries.

     The per-capita murder rate in the United States isn't particularly damning and, comparing apples to applies within the United States, the cities with fewer guns have more crime. Even if that weren't true, I think it's important to keep one haven for people being able to defend ourselves, and the laws of our country support that view. There are oodles of other countries with other views for those who don't want to live our way. (A German friend was all high and mighty about his country's gun and crime record for the past fifty years, but he got really quiet when I mentioned his country's record on guns and crime for the past eighty years, including the gas ovens.)

     History has told us that when guns are registered they are soon "infringed" and eventually confiscated, the precurser to tyranny. It worked that way in Russia, Italy, Germany, Cuba, and Russia, to pick a few examples.

     On the other hand, there are "gun nuts" and there are nuts with guns. I'm happy with the former, but we've had some bad experiences with the latter. We would like some way to keep guns out of the hands of unstable people without keeping track of the guns themselves.

     There is a nice answer to the problem of gun registration. How about registering people as being eligible to own a firearm, or to drive for hire, or any of a whole lot of things that require a stable personality? I got a Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) registration from the United States Department of Homeland Security that gives me certain perks when I travel on airlines. It doesn't tell them any more than not having the GOES card, but it certifies that I've had a background check of some sort. We could have the same for gun ownership: we could have some kind of mental-stability background check before somebody can own a gun or drive a school bus or pilot a commercial airliner or whatever else makes sense. They don't know who has a gun, whoever "they" are, but we know somebody tried to make sure gun owners aren't wackos. (That's a technical term, "wacko.") The only people who would be unhappy with that are people who are unhappy with the American culture of guns, and they have plenty of other places to be.

     War: I'm against it, both major parties say they're against it, both major parties act for it, war happens, and it sucks.

     Corruption: "Power tends corrupt and absolutely power corrupts absolutely." It says here on my web search that Lord Acton said it, but I heard it from my father all through my childhood. It has a tone of inevitability about it, but there is an out. If cancer is always bad, then we might try to make it better, but wouldn't it be best just to have less of it? In the same way, smaller government is less corrupt only because there is less of it.

     I have to admit the growth of government 2008-2014 has had a disproportionate growth in corruption as virtually all the growth has been corrupt, bail-outs and stimulus packages on a planetary scale. Maybe shrinking government will similarly shrink corruption at a faster rate. We can always hope.

     History: I think every American should be educated on the perils and pitfalls of our political process run amok. The political path from Slavery through Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan and forced segregation and forced integration to today's forced racial quotas has been a liberal cause since 1854, when the Democratic Party was formed. They supported eugenics as it evolved through an impending ice age scare and the ozone layer and DDT and acid rain to today's global-warming frenzy. They supported Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, Castro, and Mao. These are all causes with strong liberal support at the time that the right opposed at the time that most of us feel are wrong today.

     The political path on the right has its foibles, too. The emergence of the religious right spawned McCarthy witchhunt trials and an acceptance of ignorance that our nation should never tolerate. Meddling in people's decisions about marriage and childbirth is just plain wrong.

     Both sides of America's political aisle have supported too much legislation against drugs, prostitution, and pornography and too many wars.

     It's time to teach our children to be proud of America, its productivity, its freedom, its heritage, and its values. This leads me to my next subject.

     Immigration: Most of our success in the United States has been from our generous immigration policy. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddle masses yearning to breath free." The deal is simple, we provide more opportunity than anywhere else and you get nothing for nothing.

     So here's the deal I recommend: You pass a criminal-record background check and you can come here. Fill out some forms in English for who you are and where you're living and you can work here. Go fifteen years without any direct government aid and you're a citizen.

     If you come here illegally, then you should be sent home and not allowed to re-enter for fifteen years, for any reason, even to visit. If you have a baby here, then that baby can only be an automatic citizen if you reside here legally. There is nothing guaranteeing citizenship for those born here unless they are "subject to the jurisdiction thereof." Somebody not here legally or just visiting this country would not meet that criterion.

     The legal path to citizenship should be clear enough and easy enough that people aren't tempted to cheat. There's enough room for everybody, at least everybody willing to work for a living.

     Whining: I'm sick and tired of all the liberal whining about how they're sick and tired of things. People whine that other people live better than they do. Well, suck it up and work harder, and some people will still work harder or get luckier and live better than you do. "I want to live in a place where everybody has a Cadillac. Then I can earn enough from them to buy a Ford." Rich people create factories and jobs, rich people sign the front side of paycheques.

     I have nothing against whining per se. We whine and complain so that others can help us. In a bad mood with the needle on EMPTY I roll down my window and shout, "Hey, where can I get some goddam gas?" Somebody looks at me, points down a street, and says, "Two blocks that way is a Sunoco station." When we stop complaining and fretting and worrying, our lives degrade and deteriorate until we start whining again. That was always my argument about why a city of complainers like New York City was so much a better place to live than Los Angeles where nobody complained and those who did were told, "Mellow out." Whining is a fundamental part of making our lives better at many levels.

     My issue is whining about somebody else's success out of naked jealousy and greed, the Occupy movement. Liberals don't whine to make the world a better place, I don't think even their most devout thinks their policies make a better world for anybody but themselves and their followers. They can make the whole world 50% worse while they make the world 5% better for them by whining about it, and that kind of crying and sniveling we all can live better without.

     The other whining I can't stand is the whole Politically-Correct thing. My own experience in the workplace is that whining about offensive language is usually somebody who can't do the job using it as leverage for better treatment. If you're going to whine when somebody speaks honestly, then, honestly, don't be surprised if you're not invited to the table and you end up feeling like you're excluded. Roll with it and, if you're genuinely concerned or annoyed, speak to the speaker in private.

     Respect: A small dose of respect goes a long way in this world. True, there are some real assholes out there, but most people are decent enough, trying to make some kind of decency and order out of an indecent and chaotic world. We should be comfortable showing our appreciation when they are successful.

     Some of my favorite moments are when somebody with a small responsibility doing a mundane task does it marvelously. "If it's worth doing, then it's worth doing well." Take joy in the occasion when that happens, and make sure you communicate respect for that person. A buddy walked into a store for the first time ever in his life and the guy says, "I have your shoes." How did he know? My friend called a few hours earlier asking if they had size-eleven Hush Puppies and, as the fellow put it, "How many people walk into my store wearing a worn-out pair of size-eleven Hush Puppies?" It's not world peace, or even ending hunger, but it's doing something useful and doing it well and the least I can do is show the person some honest respect.

     This doesn't sound very political, but I believe basic respect for people doing their work well is a fundamental difference between Us and Them in American politics. If what I call respect sounds like charity to someone, then I think that person needs to rethink a few things.

     Contract: Ayn Rand called it "the sanctity of contract." Somebody says something's going to get done sometime, then it should happen then and there. Sure, things go wrong sometimes, but somebody who's always a few minutes late blaming the traffic or never gets the job done because it needed some extra stuff isn't getting it.

     The big picture isn't any different. We cut big organizations big breaks because they're going to do big things for us. I worked for a foreign company whose American accountants billed our American client in the Czech language for work our American office did for them. How dumb is that? We wouldn't tolerate that from a small company and, I think rightly, this client didn't tolerate that from a big company either. They took their business somewhere else.

     The flip side is there are some institutions that just seem to get things right. They don't necessarily exceed expectations (post-modern buzzwords), but they meet their promises and our expectations with amazing reliability. These are the people I want in my life.

     Again, it may not sound political per se, but it really is. I've had too many associates promise things they had to know weren't going to happen and, with alarming regularity, they were on the other side of the political street from my views.

     Tenth amendment: As I said before, I'll let P. J. O'Rourke speak for me here: "The Tenth Amendment sends a message to all the jerks who want redistribution of wealth, higher taxes, more government programs, more government regulation, more government, less free enterprise, and less freedom. And the message is clear and concise: Go to hell."

     Our founding documents in the United States are clear: no federal handouts, no federal health care, no federal banks, no federal savings plan, no federal drug laws, no federal highways, no federal environmental regulation, no federal controls on energy, no federal trade restrictions within our country, and no federal laws on birth control or abortion. I don't believe the states should be doing much of these either. We all live better with less government. Once it gets a foothold, it metastasizes to new areas all to quickly and it never lets go.

     Pride: As I said before, I'm proud of my work, I'm proud of my beliefs, and I'm proud of my what my country was meant to be. However well I live, I've earned it, I haven't forced anybody to pay me, and I haven't taken from others to make my living. My employers have earned considerably more from my work than they have paid me. That seems to be a right-wing value in America today and I'm all for it.

     I needed a ride, "in the worst way," from Beaverhead, New Mexico, to Truth or Consequences, formerly Hot Springs, also in New Mexico. The fellow who gave me a ride was in the cement business, emphasis on the first syllable, "SEE-ment." On the way, he pointed to various structures that his cement had built with glowing pride and, as an American, as a belief-in-hard-work-conservative American, I found myself glowing with reflected pride in what this fellow had accomplished.

     "They used to say once in your life you need a policeman, a doctor, a lawyer, and a preacher, but every day, three times a day, you need a farmer." So why can't we take pride in farming?

     Whatever you do, if it's legal and good, then I'm proud of it, and of you. That's a rock-solid, American, conservative value I'm happy to share.

     Ivory: Governments worldwide, especially African governments, have done a great deal to preserve endangered animals. A common example is the poaching of elephants for ivory. They kill elephants for ivory the way we kill cattle for beef, but somehow we have more cattle than there were a century ago and the elephant population is dwindling.

     I believe the path to elephant population perpetuation is private property. (I've tried to explain this to the save-the-wolves group in Michigan, but I have no idea if my ideas got through to anybody. They are relying on keeping their 52% majority votes to save the wolves not realizing a hunting lobby could persuade 5% of their majority and reverse the vote.) Suppose every elephant belonged to somebody, or some institution. Some might be owned by ivory merchants while others might be owned by environmental groups and others might be owned by people like me who think it's cool to have a genuine certificate of elephant ownership on the wall at work. If some person harms my elephant, then I'm going to make sure bad things happen to that person. I'm even likely to have people hired pre-emptively to watch my elephant and to ensure that elephant comes to no harm.

     This has worked spectacularly well in the United States with cattle. We had our "cattle rustlers" and, when they were caught, they were given "necktie parties" to discourage the practice. There were no repeat offenders. We have plenty of beef and plenty of cattle, more of both than we did a century ago.

     So what should we do with endangered species in Africa? I think every animal we find should be radio-tagged and owned by somebody. In my perfect, harmonious, love-everybody vision of what should be, no human should kill these animals for sport or any part of them. When an elephant dies, the owner gets the ivory, when a rhinoceros dies, the owner gets the horn, and when a leopard dies, the owner get the skin. Some owners may get greedy, just as our cattle don't live out their natural lives, but it is in the interest of all that our animals live long enough to have progeny, presumably owned by the owners of their parents.

     Before you pooh-pooh the idea, can you think of anything that might work nearly as well? (I am all too aware that Africa's legal and social infrastructure of private property is nowhere near what we have (or had) in the west. That's the source of many of their problems, maybe all of them, but wouldn't saving the wildlife be a good place to start? From the four countries in Africa I've visited, I see enthusiasm from both their governments and their people for preserving their wild animals.) Give it some thought.

     Hair: The faction in America that gave us horrible history and terrible economics, that has cost us respect and tens of millions of jobs, that has reduced us to a bitter, divided, racist nation where half our population doesn't earn a minimum wage, that elected a candidate whose name we don't know, is making fun of another candidate's hair. What have we come to?

     The left-wing posts I see on Facebook have two consistent patterns. First, they're full of vitriol and hate, those who believe in racial equality are racist, those who believe in economic opportunity and paths to success are greedy. Second, their facts are totally wrong and made up. Bush did not inherit a five-trillion-dollar surplus from Clinton, Democrats didn't expand the job market, and the economy didn't do worse under Republican leadership. (Mars didn't look as big as the full moon and months with three Sundays, three Mondays, and three Tuesdays come more often than every 832 years (in case you missed those posts).)

     Roads and Safety: They always ask who's going to build roads? Private industry built roads just fine a century ago and could do a fantastic job in the future. Two of the safest roads in America are the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway, both private efforts that were turned over to the State of New Jersey. I'm told the Parkway was built entirely without eminent domain and it's a beautiful piece of highway engineering. (I think one morning a year should be set aside for drivers with fast cars to enjoy that extraordinary engineering driving its 172 miles in an hour and a half, or less. You register your car and pay $2100, leave Montville no earlier than your assigned time, and get $2000 back in Cape May if you get your car there no more than ninety minutes after that. It would be great.) In reality, methinks roads would be built by a combination of state, local, and private enterprises, even in a world close to my dreams.

     The more important question is who's going to keep us safe? In the immediate physical world, we have police today paid by various taxes. I'm more-or-less comfortable with property tax paying for protection simply because those with lots of property have more to protect and it costs more to protect it. That proportion wouldn't change much if some of the burden were placed on the consumers, or their insurance companies.

     Let me explain something about police (and air-traffic controllers for those who are also pilots). You do what they tell you to do, but they work for you. I'm sitting a long line of cars because a road is closed for repair and I'll roll down my window and ask the police officer supervising how I can get where I want to go. I'm nice about it, he's an officer and I'm a citizen, he's got a job to do, but helping me is part of his job. The secret password to get assistance without consequence from law enforcement is the catch-phrase "Can you help me, please?"

     The other kind of safety involves consumer products. Today the government regulates medicines and foods and stuff. Without that we would have to depend on private companies. I believe those private companies would be less corrupt than government because we consumers have the choice to go elsewhere. The Underwriters Laboratory (UL) is a good example and agencies like Consumer's Union (the Consumers Report magazine) increase the footprint of private, citizen-funded consumer protection.

     In this sense a free America will look similar to what we have now. We'll pay somebody some amount per month to make sure we have good roads and safe consumer products. The difference is it will be voluntary with scandals being scary for the protectors and with a strong motivation for honesty. Who knows? Maybe a free press will start doing a better job than our left-wing-allegiant version of Pravda.

     America: I always end my diatribes with a positive note on America. I came here, okay, my great-grandparents came here for what America represented. Ninety-five percent of the world is one way and we were another. I'm not feeling terribly positive these days.

     Nearly half our population wants something other than what we are. All it takes is a little electoral rounding and some voter fraud to put terrible people in office who have done terrible things, especially since 2008. Even if we're successful in switching majorities so only 49% of voters are leeches sucking the life out of America, its people, and its values, is that really the way we want to live? Is it okay to have nearly half our population constantly wriggling and struggling to find ways to cheat our system? Short of a major switch in media focus, so the evil is constantly exposed to all Americans of all political persuasions, we have no path to political or social salvation.

     In 1789 we didn't try to fix England, we just established our freedom-based country somewhere else. Maybe it's time to do that again. Maybe the best way to separate ourselves from the greedy grabbers is to make a new country, just like we did last time in 1789. We will need a new name, a new flag, a new national anthem, and a new independence day to celebrate. People who feel American-valued Americans are nasty and mean can stay home while those who feel we need a fresh start for freedom now have someplace to go.

     Maybe we can buy the vast empty space in Namibia and put a million millionaires there. It has natural resources, good weather, and a coastline.

     Maybe we can use a more-local resource, the Republic of Texas. Right now it's more of a drinking club than a real country, but most of the piece-parts are already there and Texas has a long history of being friendly to independence. There are enough civilian guns in Texas to take it over just as we did to the thirteen English colonies back then, and that may not be the case in another decade of anti-gun legislation and freedom-killing liberalism.

     We're not supposed to be a democracy, that's another liberal myth, and our press isn't doing their job of protecting us against it. "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner." We are a republic with rules.

     Just as we will not accept a community using democracy to decide whom to kill (Shirley Jackson's story "The Lottery" comes to mind), our constitutional construction forbids us from using democracy to implement federal relief programs, federal race legislation, federal energy regulation, federal housing programs, and so many other federal programs. "The republic for which it stands" stands for all that, and I pledged my allegiance to it with my hand on my heart.

     I think we need a new, revitalized version of America where our values can ring true and our people can flourish again.

     Hate: Today's left-wing in America doesn't want what they have elsewhere. If they did, then they would just move there. If they didn't want to move, then they would establish communities that do things their way, like the voluntary-communist Kibbutzim communities in Israel. Like tens of millions of my friends I like socialized payment for car accidents, so we all created State Farm insurance. It's a mutual insurance company which means we all own it and I even got a dividend cheque one year when the executives couldn't spend all the profits on junkets to tropical paradises. If 67 million people want socialized healthcare, then they'll get together and make it happen.

     Those on the American left don't want liberalism, they want the extermination of conservative values. They don't want to live, they want us to die.

     When liberals love themselves more than they hate conservatives, we will have peace. When they love all humanity and not just themselves, we will have freedom such as we have not known for a century and prosperity beyond all our dreams of avarice.




If you like what you read here (Hah!), then here are my other American-issues essays.

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