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Thank God, it’s Almost Over!!!

San Diego – I was beginning to think today would never arrive and that I would have to endure the idiotic, verbal manure being hurled around by people I would expect to know better and have more than a coincidental and more frequent connection with the facts!

The damage is unfortunately already done; I have learned that people I initially respected are willing to throw their intellect and their country onto a midden pile in order to rationalize their often one-issue obsessions and blindly partisan perspectives totally unburdened by the slightest concern over whether or not the invective and venom they spew towards not only the other side’s stalwarts but anyone with the temerity to suggest perhaps on occasion the other side might have a point is accurate.  I find NOTHING to respect in such activities and behaviors and had this gone on much longer I fear my view of some of my so-called “friends” on the social media (some of whom I’ve never even met) would suffer some irreparable damage.  Now it is just a case of damage control.

There are no good sides here.  There is no side with a pipeline to truth and none seemingly interested in even a pipeline to fact.  No side seems willing to withhold wild promises impossible or impractical to keep so long as one more simple minded voter can be swayed in their direction.  No side is willing to be specific about plans to implement their vague objectives, but both are being more than specific, truth be damned, about the ills and evils of the near demon on the other side.

But most importantly, no one is willing to admit and address the woeful truth that we have let the country and the state get so far out of whack fiscally that any plan remotely likely to put us back on solid ground will be so painful to ALL citizens, even if that pain is temporary, that to propose it seriously is political suicide because there are simply too many parasites feeding at the government trough.  That they think so little of the voting public is probably the one accurate assessment they have made.

On the upper end are parasites feeding off of an impossibly complex tax code with so many loopholes one could pilot a super tanker through them.  And at the lower end are parasites feeding off of an impossibly corrupt group of politicians buying votes with taxpayer funded pabulum.  And in the middle are the country’s backbone folks who both sides claim to want to save but who, in fact, are wantonly being used in order to pay for the feedbag used to keep their real constituents in line.

I don’t see any good choices among those presented to us.  The incumbent side wants desperately to tear down the country so it can be rebuilt along the lines of his father’s dream world, a social utopia, a world that has never successfully existed on its own merit and productivity.  And the challenger side would seem to favor a world of the late 19th century where abuses of power became legendary, clichéd, and spawned the start of the socialization process with Woodrow Wilson.

I’m sorry, I don’t like either of those choices yet shortly i will find myself having to vote for one or the other.  Upon what can a decision be made other than the lesser negative?  Well, perhaps there is something…

I think that within the next term, or two terms at the most, several technologies and events will happen that will reframe our world regardless of who is in office though that person will ride its coattails to extreme power or to political perdition depending on how they play those cards.  But the stakes will be enormous and extend way out into the future.

On one hand there is the very real possibility that in the short term, say in the first two to three years, a dedicated transformer such as the incumbent can, with the help of the Fed and the fiat currency, so induce massive inflation via continuing the debauching of the currency as to hasten our economic collapse.  On the other hand, I’m not sure or confident that the challenger, if he wins, will be able or interested in bringing back our connection to the political ideals that motivated this country’s founders or if he will simply turn the dogs of the other kennel loose on the people.

At best the challenger may buy us some time by slowing the engine hauling us down a transformative path I openly despise and at worst won’t continue to rush headlong down it.

But within 3-7 years I think we will see something amazing happen that will give us the opportunity to revisit the same levels of growth and prosperity that happened in the late 1800s and again in the late 1940s through the 1950s and from the same resource: energy… oil and gas.  Based on proven reserves we have more oil and gas locked up in the Bakken shale fields and surrounding areas than the rest of the world, including the middle east, EVER had; and it is primarily on U.S. territory (with some substantial areas also in Canada containing oil sands.)

If, and here is the big “IF,” the government supports the research into the technology to extract oil from the huge shale deposits (over 20 known deposits with each having over 20 times the reserves of the giant East Texas fields that funded and fueled those two giant spurts in our economy in the past) we have the potential of seeing a jump in productivity and economic health not seen for nearly a century.

Even now, with limited efficiency, we are extracting so much oil from those areas coupled with more traditional oil fields that we are on our way to becoming a major oil exporter not a major oil importer.  But extraction efficiency for the shale is the key here.  And government support (or at least the lack of interference) to both developing and implementing that technology is the key to developing and deploying that greater efficiency.

Thank goodness the fields are not on public land or the current administration would have already shut them down as it has the more traditional well sites and refining capability across the country!

If the government then will take steps to remove that energy’s marketing strategy from the world market pricing, or even just allow it to drive the supply-and-demand cycle without interference nationally, there is the potential for a huge – HUGE – and positive impact on our economy, our living standards, our employment figures, our national productivity, and of course our national economy.

It was John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil and its offshoots and increasing competitors, using the Vanderbilt railroads as transportation, leveraged by Morgan’s banks using Carnegie’s steel that combined to fuel the industrial revolution and pushed us into the forefront of world economy. It made those giants wealthy but it also raised the standard of living across the entire country and made us ALL much better off with a productivity jump unprecendented in human history.

And it was oil from the so-called “Stickleback” fields in East Texas that fueled the engine of industrial and manufacturing victory against the Axis powers and underwrote the post WWII re-growth that FDR took the credit for.  Without the products and use from that incredible oil flow, none of those “New Deal” projects could have happened.

But, again, the positive outcome for our own future’s exploitation of the Bakken and similar fields will happen only if the government allows it.  If the current administration is still in power it will face a horrid philosophical dilemma.  To allow that oil to be extracted and used will mean acting like the leader of a republic not of a country sized commune.  It will mean creating a comprehensive environmental policy that allows resource development while safeguarding the environment and planning for environmental recovery when needed.  And that is a compromise rabit environmentalists will oppose along with the potential lowering of the price of fuel and its commensurate improvement in productivity from farms to factories. Therefore, to do that will put the president afoul of his base.

On the other hand, if he allows it, when the country sees a huge growth spurt, then like both Wilson and FDR, he will become so popular, and powerful, that he can slip in all of the Czars and extra-Constitutional activities he wants and the people will all applaud him.  I would predict that if our current leader is re-elected and this technological leap happens in the next four years (I’m betting on about three years for it), and if he plays his cards wisely, we will see him toss the XXII amendment out the window, with rabid voter approval, and ride in for even more terms and a free hand to reshape the country as he wishes.

But regardless of who wins today and will be President for at least the next four years, technology will continue to advance either above or below the table.  I think that next big spurt will come regardless of politics and policy and the only issue will be over who is allowed to benefit from it; our country or another.  Because of that potential, even though I think in the short term voting choices are little better than Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum, what may happen during this next term is so important and powerful that the person in leadership at that time and their likely policies toward it cannot, by me at least, be ignored.

Since I believe Obama’s approach is up in the air but in the end, if he allows the technology to flourish it will only give him the power to accelerate our rush into a deeply socialistic state, whereas Romney’s seems at least a little less likely to aim his and our future in that direction, I am forced to come kicking and screaming to the position where I will vote against Obama and only tacitly for Romney.

But what a pathetic place in which to find ourselves!  The only candidate with a real vision has a vision to which I am profoundly opposed on political and philosophical grounds.  We as a country are sitting on the greatest find of important resources the world has ever seen.  We got to where we were in the first place because we had, what appeared to be unlimited resources while the rest of the world had depleted or were in the process of depleting theirs.  Now we have under our feet more oil potential than we could use in 100 years.  If – IF – we used that to power a major growth spurt while, at the same time, exploring all of the alternatives that could be used to actually run the country and allow those reserves to be extended way out into the future, we would have just insured our long term position as THE place in the world to come to.

But it is one gigantic “IF!”

Oh well, I guess I need to get dressed, and get on down to the polling place where I can hold my nose and once again, vote for the lesser of two (to me) awful choices.  Here in Kalifornia it is probably a true throw-away vote but the process is important and its retention is vital to us as a country.  So get out and vote for whatever you believe in.  It is your right to do that, a right purchased with blood.  So don’t ever take the process lightly even if the specifics of a vote, at the moment, seem less important.  There are still countries and places that are amazed and jealous that we actually can choose our own leaders.  Whether those choices are wise ones or not, is another matter entirely.

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Posted by on November 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Bottom Line: It’s About FREEDOM, Stupid!

San Diego – We are pretty much launched into the Campaign “Silly Season” leading up to the next Presidential election in 2012.  There will also be senatorial and congressional seats being contested.  Now we will be inundated by blather from politicians far more interested in keeping their cushy and powerful jobs than in doing what is best for the country.  The old jokes about lying and disingenuous politicians will once again be shown clearly to have a solid basis in fact and we will be called upon to make choices based on rhetoric customized for the moment and distractions tossed in the way to keep us from actually trying to separate bloviation from behavior and determining not what they SAY but what they are likely to DO based on what they likely BELIEVE.  That is, of course, IF, in fact, they believe in anything other than the importance of their keeping their job.

Some of those Red Herring distractions will actually refer to real issues but issues which are not life or culture threatening no matter how passionately some follow them.  I believe, however, that our country is facing a truly existential crisis and allowing these distractions is like Nero fiddling while Rome burned.

Some issues, of course, will be quite important but are usually couched in language so complex and purposefully obfuscatory as to make a thoughtful analysis nearly impossible in a country peopled by folks who predictably cannot pass a 5th grade equivalency test or a high school civics test and yet who line up to select our leadership and by extension, in our republican form of governmental structure, our direction for the next several years at least.

The people in those “people of WalMart” internet collections, the morons who derive self awarded macho points for bucking lines, the people at the retail counters who cannot even count change, and the survey takers who do not know what country we fought for our independence or when that happened, will go to the polls to determine directly and indirectly matters of national economic and security and educational issues.  Worse, many are gullible recipients of the latest class warfare tactics designed to scare the bejesus out of old folks and tug on our heartstrings to care for “the children” (insert sound of s sniffle) and the “less fortunate.”

For the most part they are all lies.  We are now being purposefully frightened by the President about Social Security as he blithely overlooks the law that separates it from the budget process and mandates its benefits be paid no matter what or until congress changes the law itself.  But already people have fallen for it and are in a state of panic.

And to muddy the waters entirely, each candidate is calling the other candidates liars and evil people out to bring chaos and mayhem on us all.  While all too often that is true, the problem is how do you know which is which?  For the brain dead true believer, is it simple: whose party is the candidate affiliated with?  Some look back to a time or even a single incident sponsored by a party that worked in their favor and forever after closed their minds and eyes to subsequent actions and were never, in the first place, willing to look more deeply into the likely or possible consequences, intended or not, of those actions on our country as a whole.

I think, though, that is the kind of one-dimensional, abjectly stupid non-thinking that has gotten us in the mess we are in.  So, in my opinion, we need a much simpler way of looking at the behaviors and words of those telling us they know best how we should lead our lives and spend our money.  I would, therefore, propose a single, specific criteria because it is the one that permeates ALL of the others and is, in fact, foundational to the individual and collective discourse on all political issues.  And that is this:

Where do they stand on F R E E D O M?

I’m not talking about “Freedom” in some abstract, philosophical sense, but instead real, tangible, viewable, actionable freedom for the individuals that make up the citizenship of this country. (And no, I do not think non-citizens share our rights just because they are standing on our shores.)  It is the core concept on which we were founded and the value that was our guiding principle for at least the first half of our existence as a country.

But it is being undermined and outright attacked on both overt and covert levels, and in one way or another by both parties.  And this coming election may be the one that most defines how we will pursue that concept of Freedom into the future.  One side wants to have the freedom for themselves to tell us what is best for us and keep us in line by making us dependent upon their largesse and good will.  I am virulently opposed to the attitude and philosophy that supports such an outlook because I think it is anathema to any construct of “Freedom.”  When we toss away our freedom we will have ceased to become Americans.

However, to achieve the type of Freedom envisioned in our Constitution and in the writing of our founders, we actually need to embrace several constituent freedoms so let’s take a look at them and also a look at interpreting how politicians really feel about them, not from their words but from their actions.

Economic Freedom

The foundational freedom that determines the types and even existence of our other freedoms is really financial/economic.  And the political question boils down to a very, very simple one:  Does your political leader want you have the unfettered freedom to apply your efforts and skills to earn (whatever is passing for money at the moment) to the extent those skills and efforts allow?

There are a few corollary questions as well.  if they institute the programs they seem to support, will you have the freedom to apply those skills and efforts toward EXPANDING your capabilities and therefore expanding your return?  Are you being offered the freedom to determine how YOU wish to apply the results of your own labor and skills?  Will you or they determine how much of your own labor you can keep and how much of your labor will be used to support those who do not wish to labor as you have?  Will they allow and encourage your own philanthropy or will they impose it on you to carry those who will happily take it rather than solve their own situations (and thereby become very loyal voting blocks for those doling out the goodies to them)?

The complete opposite of Freedom is dependency.  Too often people think power is a result of money, but that is not true and never has been.  Money can be, instead, a by-product of power (as well as the result of intelligence and hard work), but power itself derives exclusively from dependency.  Think about it; if I can make you dependent on me for something important to you then I have power over you.

Machiavelli knew this and so does every actual or want-to-be autocrat who ever lived.  So the very first question to ask yourself about a politician running for office is this, “Are they trying to convince me that I need to depend on them for something?”  Or are they promising to give you the tools to become dependent only on yourself?  If it is the former then run from them as fast as possible; freedom is attached only to the latter approach.

And how is this Freedom taken away?  Simple, as history has demonstrated over and over: destroy the currency and enhance the debt until only bankruptcy or hyper inflation can keep things afloat…for awhile.  And how does that find explanation in various political philosophies?  Socialism allows private ownership of the means of production but has the government control it; in essence tell the nominal owners how to run their businesses.  Communism takes it one small step further and nationalizes (by fiat or purchase) businesses so that the means of production are both owned and run by the government.

So ask yourself what all those unelected “Czars” are doing to the means of production and apply it to the goals of the various political philosophies and their attached economic theories and see for yourself what the underlying if unspoken goals really are.

Remember, a benign dictator is still a dictator.  Solon and Pericles of Greece were benevolent but were replaced by not so wonderful regimes.  Some of Rome’s Caesars did some good things to be sure, but is that slave-based, war and tribute-based, arena sated world one in which you would enjoy living?

Personal Behavior Freedom

The old joke was that conservatives wanted to control your life in the bed room and and liberals wanted to control your life in the board room.   But we were founded by thinkers who gave us a Constitution that said we were free to do almost anything that did not harm someone else.  So long as we did not endanger others we should be able to control our own lives in ANY room, especially in the privacy of our homes or within the confines of our own businesses. You have an “absolute”right to swing your arms but that right stops at the end of my nose.  You have “absolute” freedom of speech but are not allowed to yell, “FIRE!” in a crowded theater.  You have the “absolute” freedom to openly worship any deity you want but you may not force that belief on someone else nor can you do harm to them because of their beliefs. You have a right to own a weapon and defend yourself with it but you do not have a right to carry that use to the point of becoming the aggressor yourself once the threat is stopped. And on it goes, all getting to the same point: you can behave pretty much as you want so long as it does not cause harm to someone else.

Or so it was intended…

But that freedom has been eroded by people who believe they should be protected from being offended as well as from being hurt.  it has been eroded by people who think they need to be even protected from their own stupidity.  Anyone who supports that idea is diminishing personal freedom and trying to create the dependencies of those who are hiding from potential offense or need to be protected from their own failures and errors.  And in my opinion are, with that purpose, killing our country and our ideals of personal freedom which also entails the costs of those freedoms.  We were, like life, all about choices and consequences.  But now we are suffering from the tyranny of so many who want the government to protect them from their own choices and behavior.  My advice to them is simple: get a life or go elsewhere!

So where do your political idols stand on this freedom?  Look to their actions and if they are already in office, their votes.  Listen to their speeches yourself, read their books yourself and do not rely on how other people interpret them good or bad.

Personal Thought and Expression Freedom

Only in the most egregious dictatorships was thought the subject of control.  Orwellian horrors accompany every story, real or fantasy, of dictators who attempt to control thought.  And yet it is done every day by politicians who cajole you into thinking as they want you to think and into giving up your rights and abilities to think, analyze, and draw conclusions for yourself.  Those people control thought as much as any fictional “Big Brother” and given enough power will soon quit being subtle about it.

We see this every time some self anointed enlightened person suggest the people do not or cannot “get it” so have to be told what to think or, better yet, simply allow the politicians to do the thinking for them.  King Barrack told us this just this week over the budget/debt issues. The sad news is he has every reason to believe that and in fact is a major beneficiary of it.  But if you are tired of it and want to prove him and the other politicians relying on your ignorance of the situation du jour wrong, then it is all in your hands.  and all you have to do is start researching the data — it is out there and easy to find.

We are supposed to be a republic, a representational form of government.  Not a pure democracy but one in which we elect a subset of us to represent us and pass laws to our mutual and collective benefits.  So are they doing as you want or expected or as promised?  Are things getting better as they promised would happen or are they trying to tell you that if it seems worse then you are just not thinking about it correctly or clearly and they know better?

Personal Security Freedom

Are you feeling safe in your homes and person?  The constitution guarantees that.  But like all freedoms there are limitations: you can lose it by threatening the security of someone else.  As noted before we have the right of self defense but that right does not allow us to cross the line into becoming the aggressor ourselves.

Be very, very wary of any politician who asks you to trade freedom for security.  It is always a bad trade.  They are usually building dependencies.  if you are truly free you have the freedom to make yourself secure in a world where when seconds may count the police can be there in mere minutes…

Following the French Revolution, Robbespierre wrote a brilliant and impassioned essay showing how, for the good of the state and the security of the revolution, citizens needed to give up some freedoms.  THe result was the infamous “Reign of Terror” with people marched in full carts to Madame La Guillotine because they did not think in accordance to proscribed philosophies.  The National Socialist parties of Germany and Italy and the Communist parties of Russia and China routinely executed people wholesale for thinking wrongly.  do not for a moment think it can not happen here.  Already people can be ostracized or even fired for politically incorrect thinking.  There are not that many steps between firing and firing squad.

So where does your favorite politician stand on that issue based on actions not on rhetoric?  Do they attempt to stifle opposition, clamp down on dissenting voices all the time mouthing platitudes about free speech and intellectual freedom?

The Freedom to Fail

Several times I’ve mentioned the freedom to opt out — to fail — and pay the consequences.  It is only when that Freedom to Fail is alive and well that the other freedoms find any real motivation and reward and personal growth.  in a frightening way, Marx was right in some ways.  Human nature is such that human behavior rapidly reverts to its infantile attitudes of ego-centric world views after a fairly short period of being taken care of by the parent or State.  Democracy, and its underpinnings of capitalism, form a very fragile system maintained with difficulty only by the strong because it is under constant attack by the accumulated masses of the weak.

Freedom is so precious because we also have the freedom to kill it or toss it away.  Ronald Reagan said,

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free… for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”

I personally believe we are headed in that awesome and horrible direction towards loosing freedom because our nature is such that too many soft sheets and safe nights have passed and we have forgotten, as a culture, what the lack of freedom was like, what it costs, and perhaps even, to some extent, what it means.

We seem to like and, if recent polls are correct, gravitate towards the public trough because we do not truly understand what we are giving up to get it.  We are soft, afraid, unwilling to stand for anything and so, as the song says, we then fall for anything in order to maintain the flow of goodies.  In short we are making ourselves dependent on people who have only their own interests at heart and neither ours nor the country’s apart from how it serves their own interests.  And that problem crosses party lines with ease.

Of course they would never phrase it like that because then we would all instantly “get it” and push back.  so rather, under the sweetest most patriotic rhetoric they lull us into granting them the powers that once were embodied in our own freedoms to think, do, and work for ourselves.  We are now facing upcoming choices that will have a direct effect on our retention of freedoms.  At this point we have gotten far off of the path of freedom but we can return to it with only some figurative bloodletting politically and some serious sacrifice by the citizens.  But if we continue to lose it, we will soon reach a point where it cannot be recovered except by action, if it can be recovered at all.  And then it will take what it took in the late 1700s; a real revolution.

Nothing could be more unsettling than that thought because no one ever knows how revolutions will turn out even if they are successful.  Our own revolution, which was really less a revolution than a war of independence, concluded with a virtually unique result in the world’s history of revolutions.  Without the leadership of those founding thinkers it is impossible to have high hopes that we could do it again.  We can maintain our freedoms easily at the voting booth.  But once lost, they can only be recovered by the same price that  gained them in the first place, blood; and by the same people: soldiers.

In 1970 Charles Province wrote a few lines that expressed it well.  (Historical note: his poem was submitted to  “Dear Abby” by a marine Chaplain who was given (but never claimed) credit for authoring it.)  No matter who really wrote it, the message is important and vital for us to understand, not only to give thanks in the right direction for our Freedoms but to understand what the price will be should we throw it away politically and then want to reclaim it.

It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

It is up to us now.  Time alone, and not very much of it, will tell if we are still strong enough or wise enough to reclaim the freedoms that once were ours.  if you want to retain freedom you will have to put some energy and time into it.  That is tough, but not nearly so tough as having to put your blood into it.

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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