A Shanty Town Called “Obamaville”

Symbol of hard times: Nickelsville, a tent city located in Seattle WA

Symbol of hard times: Nickelsville, a tent city located in Seattle WA

“Shanty” is a word that has fallen into disuse these days.  You seldom hear it in the US.  According to Etymonline (a delightful etymological dictionary), it’s derived from the Canadian French word chantier, referring to a rough wooden cabin used by lumberjacks.  During the economic upheaval of the Great Depression, the shanty came to represent the plight of the average American who had lost home, work, and all but the most basic of sustenance.  Using whatever they could find, homeless families built their shanties while waiting for the economic turnaround that would make it possible to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.

During the depression years of the 1930s, shanty towns peppered the American landscape.  They were often known as Hoovervilles, a derisive way of referring to the man who sat in the Oval Office at the start of the depression:  Herbert Hoover.  Even the powerless in our society have their way of getting a small bit of revenge.  In this case, who can blame them?

What you may not know is that makeshift homeless communities are back.  Only this time they’re not composed of wood and metal shanties, but inexpensive camping materials.  Tent cities have emerged across the nation, inhabited by homeless families and even their pets as they endure the same economic waiting game faced by earlier Americans seventy-five years ago.  For two stories about this sad reality (one from the east coast and the other from the west), click HERE and HERE.  These stories stand as bookends of shame, marking just how low our financial and economic strength has deteriorated.

As a child, I read of the plight of depression-era Americans.  I heard the stories my father told of those difficult times.  A nickel or a fresh egg was something to be cherished.  To this day, Dad doesn’t feel he’s had a meal unless it includes at least a little bit of meat.  That sense of loss goes all the way back to his experience of the Great Depression.  It marked him forever, and I suspect in part that it turned him into the successful and compassionate businessman that he became.  Hearing those stories as a child, I never dreamed I would live in an America where it’s happening again on a large scale.

Is it any wonder so many of our nation’s citizens are turning to government for help?  Franklin Roosevelt promised help rather than pushing free-market reforms that could have ended the depression.  Barack Obama does likewise.

Our choice is not between the average American worker or the rich tycoon.  That’s a false choice that has been proposed to us by the politicians who get rich on the arguments that divide us.  Our true choice, the one we must make and that we must use to help us choose elected leaders, is between more government interference in the market or a genuinely free market where people decide for themselves how to use their economic power.

Government is a bed where two lovers sleep.  Their names are Power and Money.  They can always be found together.  This has always been true and it will always remain the truth.  Power needs Money to get into office and to remain in office.  Money needs Power in order to gain an unfair advantage.  There are only two ways to prevent their relationship from damaging the economy as a whole.  First, we must elect truthful representatives of the greatest integrity who tell us what we need to hear, not what we long to hear.  Second, we the people must take back the power that has been amassed at the top by self-serving politicians who feather their nests while throwing crumbs to the rest of us.  The federal government must be cut in size, scope, power, and spending.

Power belongs to the people only when it’s diffused.  And there is no greater way to exercise your personal power than to make your own choices about where you’ll live, where you will work, and how you’ll spend your earnings.  There will always be those among us who will sacrifice leisure time to work harder.  There will always be those who prefer to relax more, drink more wine, spend more days at the beach.  I say that with no moral judgment because I recognize both to be good options.  But the choice belongs to those who make it.  The choice for others is not mine to make, nor does it belong to the government.

In this world there are no perfect economic systems; the closest thing we have is the free market.  A truly free market is nothing more than personal liberty exercised in an economic way.  (Do yourself a great favor and read Liberalism by Ludwig von Mises.  It will change you forever.)  What made America the economic power house that it used to be?  Invention, new ideas, creativity, ingenuity. Where do we find these unleashed in such a way as to build strong nations?  Only in the free world.  Countries with centralized, socialized planning are weaker for it.

Our jealousy that someone else might have a bit more than we have has turned us into slaves who are willing to give our government masters more control.  They wield that control gladly, evidently convinced of their moral superiority, and they are well paid for it with salaries, perks, pensions, healthcare services, and speaker’s fees.  Occasionally, a liberty-minded candidate invites us to emerge from that slavery, to walk in the golden sunshine of economic and personal freedom, but the bright beams of liberty frighten us back into our shanties.  “No,” we cry, “it is better to take the certain crumbs of our government overlords than to face the uncertainties of our own decision making.”

We no longer have Hooverville shanty towns in America.  Today we have Obamaville tent cities.  A review of the economic times might demonstrate the accuracy of my point.  Barack Obama, a believer in centralized planning and former member of the socialist New Party, was elected in November 2008.  Where have his leadership and his policies brought us in four years?

Well, let’s start with the prices you’re paying at your grocery store.  In 2011 alone they increased dramatically.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, coffee went up 31% in price.  If you paid $3.00 for your pack of coffee, it went up to $3.62.  Here are some other increases for 2011:  peanut butter 22% increase, margarine 18%, flour 16%, potatoes 14%, orange juice 12% and bread and pasta 10%.

When it comes to the average price of a gallon of gasonline, the increase is more than 100%.  That affects not only your ability to get to work, but the cost of public transportation for those who use it, and the cost of every single item that is moved by gas-powered vehicles or farmed with gas-powered vehicles.  In response, President Obama has doubled down on the very policies that are causing gasoline prices to increase.  He is waging a war on the producers of our energy and that energy is costing more at every step of the production and delivery of the items we need every day.

At the Democrat National Convention this summer, Obama said that America is not in decline.  Oh, if only that were true.  To be fair, the decline began before he took office.  But the big-government, massive-bailout, vote-buying policies that started this mess have only increased under Obama.  We’re standing in an economic sinkhole.  Our government goes deeper while telling us that we’ll somehow see light of day if we just keep digging.  A disastrous third round of “quantitative easing” recently began (QE3).  An already deflated dollar will sink further.  Nations will increasingly avoid the dollar, even as they are already doing.

Are we really that stupid?  Or are we just blind and fearful?  The blinders must come off.  And when Mitt Romney takes the oath of office we must keep them off.

America isn’t a shanty town after all.  It’s a tent city.  Either way, it’s the middle class and the poor who are moving into those tents among the ruins of their former lives.  The buck stops there, Mr. President.

Welcome to Obamaville, everyone.

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Bad Omen For Democracy: When Truth is Less Important Than Power

Enshrined on the crest of Harvard University and many other educational and religious organizations is the Latin word Veritas, “Truth.”  Nothing matters more than truth.  That which is true is also good and holy.  It is authentic.  It inspires, builds, transforms, and makes it possible for the human species to advance.  The search for truth is the very foundation of all the sciences, from mathematics and physics to philosophy and theology.  Nonetheless, it is not a new phenomenon to see people in positions of authority sacrificing truth at the altar of power.  This has been going on since the first time that one human was given–or seized–authority over another.

This is why the Founders of our nation wrote into the Constitution that all powers not specifically given to the federal government must be understood to belong to the states and to the people.  Basically, they wrote in that sacred document–the Contract of Liberty–that the national government is authorized to do only a few things.  Regarding all other things it was construed to have no authority whatsoever.  Thomas Jefferson could probably have been speaking for all of the framers of the Constitution when he wrote the following:  “Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms [of government] those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”  How prophetic!

In the interest of discovering the truth, let’s analyze the recent comments of President Barack Obama concerning the high cost of gasoline in this country (now twice what it was on the day he took office).  Two weeks ago Mr. Obama scoffed at the notion that he wants higher gas prices.  Like all psycho-social bullies, he’s an excellent scoffer, by the way.  He doesn’t have to physically threaten his opponents because he uses his carefully-crafted rhetoric to portray them in ways that make them seem like idiots to his willful listeners.

In his mocking tone, Obama asked Fox reporter Ed Henry, “Do you think the President of the United States going into re-election wants gas prices to go up higher? Is there anybody here who thinks that makes a lot of sense?”  The comment came at a time when Newt Gingrich and others were making the accusation that Obama actually does want to see higher gas prices in the interest of pushing his radical and uncomfortable energy policies.  He refers to those policies as an “all-of-the-above approach,” but the “all” is actually weighted by power and funding against fossil fuels and more toward the green-energy industries presided over by his political cronies (the ones who are bankrolling his re-election campaign).

So how are we to find the truth here?  That’s easily done.  Mr. Obama’s past comments betray his current falsehoods.  He does want higher prices and he has wanted them for a long time.  It doesn’t matter how much those higher prices hurt the poor, or the middle class, as long as his one-sided, extreme agenda is rammed into action.  My assertion deserves evidence.  I duly offer it here.

Back in June of 2008, then-candidate Obama told a CNBC interviewer that the US has been “slow” in implementing necessary energy reforms.  Obviously, what he meant was that powerful people with radical energy agendas must force reform upon the nation by causing gasoline to be too expensive to afford.  When asked if high prices help the nation, Obama replied that he prefers “a gradual adjustment.”  So, yes, he wants higher gas prices–he just wants them to come at a pace that will allow us to get used to them.

Now let’s take a look at the man who serves as Secretary of Energy.  He was appointed by Obama, of course.  They are birds of a feather.  In 2008 Steven Chu commented that he wanted to see gasoline prices in the US as high as those in Europe.  Though he has publicly backed down from the remark because of recent political opposition, he refuses to say that he regrets it.

The simple fact is this:  while Obama and Chu claim that they aren’t happy with current gasoline prices, it’s not true.  They may regret that they are high at this moment, with the presidential election looming in a few months, but in the long term they want to see gasoline prices continue to spike in order to make it more painful for average Americans.  In their world of political idealism and control of the masses, they believe they know what’s best for the nation and the world.  They care not how painful, or difficult, or stressful it is to ordinary working people.  They care only about renewing their control of power.  Clearly, they’ll tell us what we want to hear now.  If re-elected, their policies will reflect what is in their hearts.

Obama says there is no “silver bullet” for gas prices.  That is pure, unadulterated nonsense.  A pro-drilling policy that doesn’t undercut the fossil-fuel industry will result in lower oil and gas prices.  It’s a simple fact of economics.  While it is true that prices spiked under George W. Bush, he took action to loosen up restrictions on the industry and prices dropped back to bearable levels.  Obama has done the opposite.  He is strangling and damaging the oil securement industry and it’s costing us all.  Gas is going up.  Food is going up.  Durable goods are going up.  Everything that is moved or produced by way of the consumption of oil must increase.  It’s simple economics.

The liberal press continues to take the side of Obama, against all possible expressions of common sense.  Time magazine (which would be better titled Time to Make Obama President-for-Life) has proclaimed that it’s not Obama’s fault that gas prices are high.  Others, those same others who tried to crucify Bush, are rushing to Obama’s defense.  They think we have forgotten the past.  Sadly, many of us have.

Make no mistake.  The truth is that Obama wants higher gas prices.  He just doesn’t want you to know that he wants them, and he doesn’t want them at this exact moment as people are deciding how to vote in November.  Go back to the comment to the Fox interviewer, above.  Obama gave himself away when he inferred that no president wants high gas prices “going into re-election.”  He spoke truth in that moment, but for the long haul he needs higher gas prices to force his agenda upon the nation.

He’s still on the political stage and his most pressing need right now is to ensure that he gets to direct Act Two of The Remaking of America.  Truth be damned.

Dick Durbin Does the Democrat Two-Step for Barack Obama

I happened to catch a bit of an interview this morning with Dick Durbin on CBS This Morning.  “Trickie Dickie” is the senior senator from Illinois, the bastion of political purity and honesty.  (OK, now I’ll take my tongue out of my cheek.)  Dick is also the Senate Majority Whip, responsible for keeping Democrats in line with the marching orders issued by Harry Reid and Barack Obama.

Let’s face it:  Democrats have long been better at the political game than Republicans.  I’ve been a Democrat and I know that from the inside.  As a master politician and an avoider of truth, Dick did such a good job of peddling dishonesty this morning that I quickly lost my appetite and I failed to eat breakfast.  Here are a couple of gems from his commentary.

He lashed out at Paul Ryan (R-WI) for his budget-cutting plan entitled A Roadmap for America’s Future.  In my estimation, it should be entitled A Different Roadmap for America’s Future because the Obama regime already has a map and it includes a sharp decline as the nation goes over a financial cliff.  That being said, there is much in the Ryan plan that is admirable.  But Durbin criticized it for its lack of balance.  You know the complaint:  Republicans don’t want to increase taxes. 

What Durbin failed to say is that the solution must be proportionate to the problem.  The nation does not have an income problem … what we have is a spending problem.  This is precisely why the Democrat-controlled Senate, under Harry Reid’s frightening and irresponsible leadership, refuses to pass a budget (it’s been more than 1,060 days).  Any realistic budget will have to make cuts, and cuts always anger somebody.  So the Senate dodges the problem in order to give the Democrats an edge in the next election (Obama included).

Honestly, when it comes to taxes, I understand that they’re necessary.  Any community of persons that spends as a corporate body must have a system for the financing of community interests.  What we have now, however, isn’t healthy.  Spending choices have more to do with keeping large blocks of voters happy so that politicians can be re-elected.  It’s dangerous.  It will be the end of the nation as we know it.  As we move rapidly toward socialism it will mean less wealth for most of us, but more for the powerful elites in office and more for their cronies in industry and in Hollywood.

Durbin really showed his dancing abilities when the CBS interviewer asked about gas prices.  In line with the Obama mantra, he talked about alternative fuels and efficiency.  That’s all fine and good, but it’s tough to pay almost $4.00 a gallon for gasoline while you’re driving on top of enough underground resources to provide fuel for the next 100 years.  Oh, Durbin also got a chance to get to mention the re-election line that is destined to go down in history:  Obama can fix all our problems if we just give him another term.

God help us if this becomes the case.  I suspect that the 2012 election is our last chance to slow the economic blood-letting.  Make no mistake, dear reader, the election of Mitt Romney (which I predict will take place) will not change our course dramatically.  But it will slow the economic death march on which we’ve embarked.  What I fear, however, is that it’s too late to avoid some of the most difficult consequences of our past mistakes.  If the economic chickens come home to re-roost after we put a Republican in the White House, the popular tide may change again and we may quickly return to Democrat control of Congress and the Presidency.

An honest plan of real cuts to spending is our only hope.  It’s not enough to talk about cuts to future growth in spending–we need cuts now.  Many Republicans are afraid to say it, and this includes my own congressman, Steven Palazzo (R-MS).  He calls himself a conservative and certainly appears on track to be re-elected now that he has taken the Republican primary victory.  Compared to Obama he is a conservative.  In the court of common sense and national salvation … not so much.

I suppose such realities are the reason that I voted for Ron Paul in the Mississippi presidential primary.  I still harbor concerns about his foreign policy.  He’s not a perfect candidate; none of them are perfect.  But I suspect that Paul’s sense of urgency is so overwhelming that he would make immediate changes upon assuming office.  Those changes would be much like a U-turn on the interstate.  One way or the other our Ship of State has to come about.  At some point the plug in the tub will pop and the ship will sink if we remain on our present course.

Friends warned me that a vote for Paul was a wasted vote.  Perhaps.  But it sends a signal.  Nearly 13,000 of us in Mississippi cast our vote for Ron Paul.  I think we’re trying to send a message:  “it’s time to change course.”  With every passing day I am more confident that my prediction of a Romney nomination will come to pass, but signs of disappointment abound.  Illinois Republicans turned out in very low numbers.  They are not excited about Romney.  Interestly, though, Ron Paul received twice as large a percentage of the vote in Illinois as he did in Mississippi.

Our nation is at a “hinge moment” in its history.  Let’s follow the course over the next few months and let’s remember to pray for our country.  Feel free to offer your own comments on this blog, even if you disagree.  I don’t have all the answers.  Please invite your friends to join us here as well.  I suspect we’re going to be surprised by some of the things that take place between now and November.  We need a place for reasoned debate on the significance of those events.