The Truth About Truth

Time Saving Truth From Falsehood and Envy, by Francois Lemoyne (1737)

Time Saving Truth From Falsehood and Envy, by Francois Lemoyne (1737); in retrospect, perhaps it’s a bit of political irony that the day after completing this piece, the artist tragically committed suicide

Last night, while channel surfing, I happened upon a documentary about the flooding of Venice, Italy. According to one city official interviewed on the program, about 100 times a year the tide rises higher than normal and floods the city. The waters of Venice are beautiful when they stay in their canals, but troublesome when they visit themselves upon homes, businesses, and historic cathedrals. Never mind that the Venetians have had problems with their lagoon for centuries or that their city rests atop wood pilings. The producers of this video claimed to know the cause and they proclaimed it passionately. Venice is undoubtedly flooding, they said, because of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming. It’s worse than that, however. In their own words, “the world is sinking.”

I sympathize with the good people of Venice. But they’ll find an answer to their water problems as they always have. Their history is loaded with past examples of flooding (and taxation to pay for its remedy). In great part this is because its underwater foundation slips a bit lower every year. Even those who believe in human-caused global warming have to admit that “the greatest threat to the city” for most of its history has been “earth subsidence.” In other words, its wooden foundation is slipping deeper and deeper into the mud below.

As a popular science-fiction program once reminded us with the start of every episode, “the truth is out there.” Yes, it certainly is. But to get to it there are a few things you need to understand about the truth. In other words, there is some truth about truth that you need to know–truly!

First, let’s realize that we humans are “wired” to find explanations for things. That, along with our advanced brains, has given us a biological advantage over the other species on the planet. They may be bigger and stronger, but we’re smarter. We’re driven to find answers.

Before you become too proud of your genetic superiority, remember a second important point. We humans are also, in a sense, sociological herd animals. We move in psychological “packs.” Rather than doing the hard work of thinking for ourselves, we often accept what others believe. This can happen for any number of reasons (affection, political preference, religious belief, admiration, physical attraction, etc.). I confess to having a strong distaste for this tendency. As a child, when I did stupid things, my father wisely challenged me. His challenges stuck with me. When I see a parade of others following a “Pied Piper” of any sort, I shy away to watch … and to learn.

A third truth about truth that we must recognize is that money changes everything. Even truth–or what is presented as truth. There are plenty of people who would sell their souls for money. There are even more who would manipulate data for money or accept funding with “strings” attached. When billions and billions in government funding is involved, there simply is no way to know how deeply the influence and corruption have drilled themselves into a search for truth. Big money can come from big government or big corporations. Sometimes both.

Finally, let’s remind ourselves that there is no such thing as pure objectivity. Perhaps Leonard Nemoy’s Mister Spock came close, but even he was half human. We humans are motivated by all sorts of things, and not all of them are bad. Please don’t interpret my words to suggest that I’m a pessimist or misanthrope (a people hater). I’m not. But I am a realist. Call it sin, or imperfection, or simply human reality–but let’s face it. We humans aren’t perfect. Sometimes we respond to our base instinct for self-preservation. Sometimes we’re selfish or greedy. Other times we act with real generosity. Quite often we are a mix of “good” and “bad” at the same time. (As an aside, it strikes me as odd that when government starts doling out money to those “in need,” our human failings are no longer suitable for discussion.)

Lack of objectivity isn’t a bad thing. It’s a very human thing. The problem isn’t that objectivity is lacking. The problem is that we’re not honest about its absence. Wouldn’t it be nice if people claimed their biases so that when they speak of their greatest beliefs and philosophical commitments we can understand where they’re coming from?

Imagine a Fox News broadcast beginning like this:  “Good evening. We here at Fox believe that Barack Obama is the devil. Now on with the news.” Or imagine that CNN begins its nightly programs in this way: “In the interest of honesty, the broadcasters of CNN wish to remind you that we believe that conservatives, Republicans, and Tea-Party people are selfish bastards who want to screw Mexican immigrants and the poor. Here are this evening’s highlights.”

I always find such honesty to be quite refreshing, actually. It’s one of the reasons I named this blog “The Liberty Professor.” If you’re looking for absolute objectivity, you won’t find it here. The truth is that you won’t find it anywhere. But I’m honest about that. Get it?

With all of these caveats in mind, here are a few of the so-called “truths” that I have rejected. I speak only for myself, but I do so after reasoned reflection and research. Each of the issues described is what Patricia King and Karen Kitchener refer to as an “ill-defined problem.” If you’re a teacher or have a philosophical bent, you might enjoy their book entitled Developing Reflective Judgment. In it they argue that an ill-defined problem has more than one possible outcome (as opposed to a well-defined problem with an easy solution).

Let there be fanfare and the blast of trumpet … here are some “truths” that I robustly reject!

1. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) was intended by its creators to lower healthcare costs and “fix” what’s wrong with America’s healthcare system. Nope. Not even close. It was designed to move us toward a single-payer healthcare system in which the federal government is financier and supervisor. Promises were made about how much it would cost and how much freedom would be granted to those who already have health insurance. Guesses, estimates, and even lies were offered to us for our mental consumption. The most recent estimate I heard is that it will cost three times as much as promised in the first ten years. In addition, its thousands and thousands of pages of regulations are going to cause premiums to go up for nearly everybody, especially young men. Remember the promise of Barack Obama about your own health insurance? “If you like it, you can keep it,” he insisted. Maybe. If you can afford it. Most of us won’t be able to. We–along with our employers–will be forced to drop private coverage to move into the single-payer (federal) system. The entire law was designed with this in mind. As they say, “out with the old and in with the new.” Don’t forget the words of Barack Obama to the Illinois AFL-CIO in June of 2003: “I happen to be a proponent of the single-payer, universal healthcare program.”

2. Federal gun-control initiatives are being designed to reduce crime and protect our children from violent criminals. Even I have to say that this sounds nice. It’s a feel-good proposal if ever there was one. But that’s not the primary factor for the unconstitutional gun grab taking place before our very eyes. (It has hit some temporary road blocks, but as with Obamacare, its proponents won’t stop until they get what they want.) The real goal is to have a nation in which guns are in the hands only of government officials and to outlaw them for everyone else. When that happens the government will have little to fear from dissenters, and only outlaws will be armed. Everyone with a weapon, whether it’s used in a crime or not, will be subject to arrest and punishment. In addition to maneuvers in Washington, international pressure is being put upon Mr. Obama to sign the UN Arms Trade Treaty. That treaty, like all treaties, will require Senate approval. We can look for one heck of a mud slide when that battle comes. Obama is widely expected to sign the treaty since it moves us one more step toward his goal, and since it provides cover for the confiscation of many types of civilian-owned weapons as well as a UN-supervised, international gun registry. That’s right. According to the president of Iowa Gun Owners, if allowed to keep my .38-caliber pistol I’ll have my name on a UN list as well as a US list.

3. IRS officials did nothing wrong when they targeted conservative groups,Tea-Party organizations, and groups favoring Israel for special scrutiny. Oh, really? That must be why IRS division director Lois Lerner invoked her Fifth-Amendment right against self-incrimination when called to answer questions before Congress. That’s a constitutional perversion of the highest order. Here’s why: She is a government employee called before the people to answer for her actions. The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution was enacted to protect the people from the government, not the other way around. She and her minions at the IRS have the power to pry, to search, to seize, to confiscate, and to order the arrest and imprisonment of citizens. They carry guns. When we, the people, call her to an accounting she suddenly wants to invoke her constitutional rights. She needs to be held in contempt of Congress and the investigation into the matter must continue. Without a doubt, the trail will end in the Oval Office. White House visitors’ logs already demonstrate this.

4. Global warming is a rising disaster caused by human industrial and economic activity. Look, I reject this proposition. But I don’t reject the idea that we should be responsible stewards of our environment. Another of Dad’s witty and wise sayings recognizable to many fellow Southerners is that one should never put fecal material on the handle of the water pump! But the global-warming hype isn’t being controlled by reasonable people who care for the environment. It’s being directed from the upper echelon of government for the sake of raking in more tax money, penalties, and fees to fund bigger government. The “science” behind human-generated global warming is tainted with government money. As some very bright but mistaken academics have argued, the scientific consensus is that human-caused global warming threatens the planet (not just Venice). They insist we need severe limits on economic activity, travel, and energy production; we need more taxes and government-controlled carbon credits. My own research brings me to the conviction that global warming is entirely natural and that the recent warming trend is tapering off. We are probably entering a new period of global cooling. It wouldn’t be the first time, as historians recognize from recent history. Perhaps our children and grandchildren will be subjected to overblown predictions of a new Ice Age!

5. The solution to our economic problems and social injustices is to be found in more government activism. So said Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-tung and a veritable host of central planners. But when central planning fails it fails big. Guns are needed to keep people in line. Perhaps you’re seeing a pattern? American constitutionalists do not reject all centralized government activity. The Constitution makes provision for the activities of the federal government. But once it’s engaged, the power at the top tends to be centripetal. In other words, it exerts a pull toward itself. Power exercised at the top tends to increase and multiply toward the top, or toward the center of power. The founders of the United States recognized this fact. They had overwhelming historical precedent for it. That’s precisely why power was invested primarily in citizens organized by states, not in the federal government. It’s also why they chose a federated system and not a national government (there is a difference). Only a small number of powers were granted to the federal government. Was it a perfect system? No. It didn’t recognize the rights of slaves, for instance. But its inspiration (that everyone is “created equal” in rights, not abilities) would eventually blossom to repair this immorality as well as other defects.

6. Fatty foods are making us fat and high blood cholesterol is putting us at risk for heart attack. So says an official US government blog and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC). There is even a new government push to monitor the cholesterol of children and to put them on statin drugs if necessary. Research is moving us rapidly away from this thesis. Fat isn’t making us fat. Carbohydrates and sugar are making us fat. They increase inflammation and cause heart disease. Among the scientists and medical doctors now arguing for a new approach to the matter can be counted Dr. Jonny Bowden and Dr. Stephen Sinatra. Check out their excellent and well-researched book, The Great Cholesterol Myth. According to them, the “four horsemen” of the cardiac apocalypse are inflammation, oxidation, sugar, and stress. Dangerous statin drugs, they insist, should be used only by those who already have heart disease. They show strong evidence that statins are useful only because of their anti-inflammatory properties and that lowering cholesterol isn’t the proper approach for stopping heart disease. In their opinion statins should never be given to children. To get the updated research full disseminated, the tie between big pharmaceutical companies and big government must be broken. And doctors who treat patients should never be paid advocates for particular companies or brands. The ties between these entities amount to a contemporary medical mercantilism or corporatocracy–similar to the military-industrial complex that guides so much of our foreign policy.

7. If you love someone you’ll never hurt their feelings. Well, you might not hurt their feelings intentionally–but that’s a whole different matter. Love isn’t a feeling. As Jesuit theologian William O’Malley has pointed out, love is a conscious and active commitment to the well-being of someone. I bring up this point because too many people these days, when arguing politics, seem to be guided less by intellectual consideration and more by emotion. They decide what’s right based upon how their proposals make them feel. The Christian virtue of love is shared by many religions. One doesn’t have to foist one’s Christianity on others to love them, but love nonetheless is a terrific guide for making political decisions. Too often our political debate is framed as if it’s a choice between the people who care for others (the “liberals”) and those who don’t (the “conservatives”). That’s just downright stupid. There are people on both sides of that divide who genuinely care to increase the well-being of others. My complaint is that we can’t decide what’s best based upon how it makes us feel. We need to think and think hard.

So there they are. Seven “truths” that I reject because I don’t think they are true at all. There are others, such as immigration reform (the real reason for which is to secure votes). Each of these is an ill-defined problem with adherents who passionately argue that I’m wrong. So be it. As Martin Luther is reputed to have said, “Here I stand. I can do no other.” But my stance isn’t based upon any attempt to be hard-headed or belligerent. It’s based upon my appropriation of the best information I can find. Don’t take my word on any of it. Do your own research. If I found the information, you can find it as well. I make my own choices and live with the consequences. You must do likewise. Gosh, we don’t hear that too often, do we?

In the final analysis, remember one thing, please. Only in a free society can divergence exist when it comes to values, beliefs, and ideologies. Wherever you stand on the issues, I beg you to be consistent and to be honest with yourself. Don’t give a pass to politicians or government bureaucrats just because they share your preferred political agenda–especially not if they have the privilege of carrying government-issued sidearms.

Avoid schadenfreude. That German word describes the human tendency to take pleasure in the suffering of someone else. If it pleased you to see certain groups targeted by the IRS, remember that it may one day be a group you admire. It could even be you. Political winds blow where they will.

Tyranny hurts us all. Even when it’s applied to our political adversaries.

A Frightening Double Standard on Gun Control

untitledIt never fails to amaze me when I see people arguing to limit the rights of other citizens while insisting on the preservation of their own.  It’s a putrid form of elitism that sadly infects journalists, Hollywood stars, and political leaders.

You may find it interesting that the etymological roots of our word “elite” come from Old French and Latin, specifying someone who has been chosen from among the rest. Based upon their high self-regard, elitists often tend to see their own contributions to society as more important than those of average citizens. It’s nothing more than an expression of the human tendency toward egotism and self-inflation.

Obviously, we are all susceptible to the temptation of thinking that we’re more valuable or more important than others. Perhaps we base this upon our social status or the amount of money in our possession, a leadership position we hold, or an excessive appreciation for a particular talent we enjoy. Whatever its cause may be it gives rise to a wide array of double standards.

Let’s take a look at a few examples that are particularly troubling as the nation engages the debate on gun control.

A couple of days before Christmas, NBC journalist David Gregory grilled an NRA executive on the television program known as “Meet the Press.”  During the exchange he displayed a thirty-round ammo clip from a high-capacity rifle. It appears that in doing so he violated a local ordinance prohibiting the possession of such an item within the city of Washington, DC.

Local police are now investigating; it’s possible that charges could be filed. NBC had requested permission to use the clip but this was denied by local authorities. They used it anyway.

From the manner in which Gregory responded to the NRA representative, it’s clear that he favors increased gun control–the type of control that will force law-abiding citizens to surrender their weapons of self-defense. In his interview he seemed to mock NRA’s Wayne LaPierre for proposing that armed guards be assigned to schools. Yet his own children attend the famous Sidwell Friends School in DC, an institution with a large security department in which many of the employees are known as “Special Police Officers.”  These officers are obviously armed since this designation requires training in the use of weaponry.  This is the same school attended by Sasha and Malia Obama, accompanied by armed agents of the United States Secret Service.

I’m sure Gregory doesn’t wish to be prosecuted for breaking the law, but he certainly favors harsher gun control and that means the prosecution of law-abiding gun owners who refuse to surrender their weapons. Perhaps the good of the nation depends upon the ability of journalists to receive special status when it comes to possession of gun-related items. Not being among the nation’s elite, the rest of us don’t get that privilege.

Rosie O’Donnell is another example. On more than one occasion she has pushed an anti-gun agenda, even going so far as to propose that gun owners should be imprisoned. Yet she enjoys the protection of armed bodyguards and pushed to get permission for an armed bodyguard to accompany her children to school.

David Brock is the founder of Media Matters for America, a left-leaning organization that claims a mission to monitor and counteract conservative commentators. The group has enjoyed considerable funding from Democrat financier George Soros. The organization has consistently attacked those who support permits to carry concealed weapons and has wrongly argued that carry permits do not decrease crime levels.  Despite all of this, or perhaps because of it, Brock feels he may be in danger from right-wing conspirators and snipers.  One employee of Media Matters insists that he has “more security than a Third-World dictator.”

When it comes to these people defending themselves and their families, I have no words of condemnation. On the other hand, if they and their loved ones are kept safe by the ready presence of a loaded weapon then my family can–and should–enjoy the same right. That’s the whole point, after all. In a nation of misguided excessive regulation, however, such rights end up being taken from the average American who builds a peaceful life of work and leisure. Then the ability to defend oneself becomes the exclusive prerogative of criminals and elites.

My own experience is suggestive of this fact. I never owned a weapon until I ran for public office in 1989. At the time a not-too-veiled threat was published in the sound-off column of a small newspaper in Gulfport (it’s now out of business). The next day I purchased a double-action .38 revolver. It seldom sees the light of day except for an occasional practice round and cleaning, but I sleep better knowing that it is within reach. It is nothing more than a tool.  Like all tools, it is available if needed.  I hope never to need it.

In the wake of the terrible tragedy of Newtown, level-headed and rational discussion is necessary about how to keep weapons out of the hands of those who are mentally ill or have been convicted of a violent crime. Banning a weapon simply because it fires rapidly or because its magazine holds more than a few rounds won’t accomplish these goals. An overreaching agenda such as that being proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) might be called a knee-jerk reaction except for the fact that it represents a long-time goal of those on the left who wish to put severe limits on legal gun ownership.  Should it become law, peaceful citizens will gain nothing but vulnerability while outlaws gain more power to loot, maim, and kill.

When I argue such things some of my friends ask searching questions such as why a law-abiding citizen should need this or that weapon. We hear too many such questions these days: “Why does anyone need a gun like that?” “Why should anybody have so much money?” “Why would someone want to drive an expensive car like that?”

The answers to these questions, and many others, are found in the hidden recesses of the human heart. As the wise have always said, there really is no accounting for taste. In a nation that has claimed to revere liberty such issues are left to the heart of the individual person, guided by conscience, religious conviction, and personal philosophic orientation.

Debate, argue, discuss, and compare values if you wish. This is what an open and free society should do. But at the end of the day, allow your neighbor to return home unmolested to live by his or her own values. Barring mental illness or conviction for violence, the kind and number of weapons your neighbor owns is his business and his alone. Be grateful that he owns those weapons. There may yet come a day when you and your neighbor must support one another in defense of your homes and your lives.

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution plainly reads:  “the right of the people to keep and to bear Arms shall not be infringed.” There are reasons for this. At the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven we can do away with this guarantee because we’ll no longer need it. Until then, it remains a right guaranteed by the Constitution–no matter how often and how severely it is curtailed by lack of wisdom among our elected elite.

Gun Laws: One Tragedy Doesn’t Justify Another

untitledThe tragedy in Connecticut is unbearable.  I cannot begin to describe it.  Even attempting to do so seems disrespectful to the parents and families who have lost children and cherished loved ones.  Emotionally troubled, Adam Lanza of Newtown killed his own mother, stole her weapons, and perpetrated a horrendous and evil act of cruelest proportions.  Then he turned a weapon on himself and took his own life.

Hoping to turn tragedy into a political opportunity, gun-control advocates immediately increased their assaults on the constitutional right of a citizen to bear arms.  One group chanted outside the White House.  Politicians are taking the opportunity to make points with their more liberal constituencies.  President Obama has promised “meaningful action,” terminology so vague that it means little in reality except for the fact that his adoration of government regulation makes it clear what he hopes to accomplish if given his way.  With his tyrannical tendencies and his distaste for genuine democratic debate, one can imagine the executive orders he would like to implement.  As former Obama advisor (now Chicago mayor) Rahm Emmanuel once said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”  

Yes, we do have a serious crisis.  But let’s not go off track by imagining that taking away the rights of peaceful citizens is going to stop the perpetration of violence.  Law-abiding citizens aren’t the problem.  Limiting their rights won’t repair what’s wrong with the nation.  Norway has some of the toughest gun laws in the world, but last summer at least 17 people were killed in two related events that included guns and bombs.  As one writer has pointed out regarding Norwegian gun regulations, those regulations are easy to ignore. Yep.  That’s the problem with laws.  Those intent upon illegal activities won’t be deterred by laws.

Need more proof?  Prostitution is illegal in most states, yet one legal resource estimates that 80,000 Americans are arrested annually for soliciting paid sexual activity.  All across the United States, thousands of people every day use illegal drugs despite some of the most outrageous consequences (including government confiscation of property).

In addition, those who can’t get guns can use other weapons instead.  On the same terrible day that Adam Lanza attacked a school in Newtown, Connecticut, Min Yingjun stabbed 22 children in a school in central China.

The problem is violence.  The solution is self-defense.  Perhaps you remember the 1992 Los Angeles riots, four days of senseless violence and theft that erupted after the acquittal of police officers involved in the beating of suspect Rodney King.  As he stopped for a traffic light at the corner of Florence and Normandie, truck driver Reginald Denny was pulled from his cab and beaten senseless by rioters.  As helicopters circled helplessly above, Denny’s tormentors pounded his skull with pieces of concrete and even a cinder block.

Paramedics later said that Denny nearly died.  His skull was cracked in nearly 20 places and was pushed into his brain.  Shortly afterward, at the same intersection, Guatemalan immigrant Fidel Lopez was dragged from his truck.  His head was sliced open when a rioter beat him with a stolen car stereo.  Another rioter nearly cut off his ear.  As he lay unconscious in the street his torso and genitals were sprayed black with cans of paint probably stolen from local retail establishments that had been looted.  Both attacks can be seen on video by clicking HERE.

Although these victims survived, there was no guarantee that this would be the case when they were violently attacked.  If they had access to a loaded weapon at the time of their attack, one can easily imagine that these two innocent men would not have suffered as they did.

There are all sorts of urgent questions we should be asking in light of yesterday’s ugly events in Connecticut.  How to diminish the rights of law-abiding citizens, however, is not an appropriate topic for debate–especially when those rights are guaranteed plainly and clearly by the Constitution.

If you’d like to know what questions are appropriate, I encourage you to visit the site of my fellow political blogger, Prof. William Jacobson of Cornell Law School.  His blog is known as Legal Insurrection, and I believe you’ll find his comments on the tragedy to be insightful.  Those comments will arm you with reasonable responses to those who are making unreasonable demands upon the rights of peaceful citizens.  The article can be read HERE.

Two Reasons to Vote for Barack Obama

Someone recently accused me of having a hidden agenda.  Nope.  You’ve got me confused with someone else.  I’m an extrovert.  I have to say what I really think or I’ll explode.  That’s the predominant reason I started this blog.  The other reason was that if I ever decided to run for public office, my agenda would be out there for everyone to see and understand.  Disagree with me if you wish, but at least give me credit for being honest.  I’d rather die in obscurity than as someone who has no integrity.

My agenda and my values are on the table for all to see.  I’m a constitutional conservative.  When it comes to government, what I want to conserve is not any particular political party.  What I want to conserve–what I want to be faithful to–is the Constitution.  Not only that:  I want to interpret that Constitution as our Founders did.  In other words, I understand its purpose to be to limit the power of the federal government in order to guarantee the liberties of we the people.

Ours is not a nation-state.  It is a nation of states.  And this idea is not out of date.  It’s more important than ever.  The presidency of Barack Obama proves it.

I say all of this as a preamble to the rest of this post.  Now that the final presidential debate is done, I’m trying to understand exactly why someone would vote for another term for Mr. Obama.  I can only think of two reasons, but of course, I’m not objective.  I see and understand all politicians not as they present themselves, but as they compare to what I understand to be the vision of the Constitution.  I’m not afraid to be critical of any of them, no matter what their party.

As I search my poor brain I have to confess that I can find only two reasons why someone would vote for Obama.  Others that have crossed my mind seem either to be hyperbolic or related to these two.

If you’re an Obama supporter, I heartily welcome your criticism and your comments.  Please feel free to offer them by replying to this blog post (below).  Perhaps I’m blind.  Maybe I’m too limited in my understanding.  I may never agree with you, but I will at least try to consider your criticism.  And let me be clear, please:  it is my assumption, unless I have evidence to the contrary, that all of my debate partners are sincere.  I don’t know how anyone can approach political dialogue unless we grant such an assumption.

If you’re voting for Barack Obama, I assume you believe him to be the best candidate.  It also seems to me that you must agree with one or both of the following positions.

1.  Perhaps you are voting for Obama because you believe that the United States is more of a problem for the world than a solution.  Note the way I have phrased that.  No country is perfect.  Every patriot should be a critical patriot.  In other words, we simply must be honest enough to search out and to identify the mistakes our country has made in the arenas of politics, military, and society.  There are things about the US that I find objectionable, and my issues run the gamut.  The question at hand, however, is whether we have brought more to the world that is positive than negative.  I believe we have.  From our Constitution, to our pluralistic religious society that respects people of all faiths and none, to the fact that Europe might not be free today if not for our efforts–I believe that, in spite of our moral failings, we have done more for the world that is good than bad.

If you disagree, then perhaps you are happy that Mr. Obama has dropped us down a rung or two with regard to our defense and our international standing.  Perhaps you want to be more like Europe.  If so, I remind you that Europe has had more money to spend on socialist-type programs because we’ve had them underneath our nuclear umbrella.  As Mr. Obama scales back that umbrella of protection, Europe will either be more vulnerable or they’ll be forced to spend more on defense.  Even worse, more nations in Europe may feel the necessity of obtaining nuclear warheads.  Object if you wish, but  you should at least realize that there are consequences to the fact that America is taking a back seat or playing “second fiddle” on the world stage.  There are others who are happy to assume the position we seem to be vacating.

2.  Or, if international issues aren’t your interest, perhaps you’ll vote for Mr. Obama because you believe that the way to make our nation stronger and more fair is to take money from some for the purpose of giving it to others.  I’m not talking about reasonable federal taxation.  I’m talking about the forced redistribution of wealth.  Remember Joe “the plumber” and his encounter with candidate Obama in 2008?  Obama said that when we spread the wealth around “it’s good for everybody.”

Redistribution of wealth is a good thing–but not the way government does it.  The really important question is how wealth is distributed.  I strongly opposed the practice of politicians picking and choosing the distribution of wealth.  It should be distributed through the free exercise of economic liberty.  In other words, by the free market in which you and I get to decide how it’s distributed, or spent.

Joe the plumber wanted to buy a company that made just over $250,000 per year.  Sounds like alot, huh?  What you need to understand is that the dollar amount mentioned by Joe was the company’s income, not his profit.  What do you think would happen to most (or all) of that money?  It would not go to Joe.  It would go to his employees, his suppliers, his insurer, and multiple other providers and services he desperately needs in order to make his company viable.

Let’s imagine that, to bring in an income of $250,000 a year ($20,833) a month, Joe needs five plumbers on his staff (a typical small company).  Let’s also imagine that he wants really good plumbers because he hopes to build a company that is solid and made for the long haul.  He hires the best workers because he doesn’t want people to be disappointed in his employees and the work they perform.  He pays them $20 an hour.  In a forty-hour week that’s $800 per week, per employee.  So his salary costs are now $4,000 per week–$280,000 per year.  Plus, if he wants to take good care of his employees and to give them reasonable health insurance, his costs are even higher.  Let’s say he finds a bargain and pools his employees into an insurance fund for just $400 a month each (a remarkable bargain if he can actually find it).  With five employees, now he will spend another $24,000 a year.

As a business owner myself, I can tell you that the proposed numbers above are very reasonable (in fact, they are probably low–but that will help me make my argument even better).  If Joe bought a business that takes in $250,000 a year and has only five employees besides himself, and if he wants to pay them reasonably and give them reasonable benefits, look at the facts:  the company will spend more on salary and benefits than it takes in.  The math I’ve proposed, which is reasonable, gives Joe a salary and benefit cost of $304,000.  That means he’s losing $54,000 a year before he even starts … and before he pays himself any salary at all.  He would do this in the hope of building something that would give him an income later, and for the long term.  He would be taking a tremendous risk.  He’d be building a business.  He would be helping not only himself, but others as well.

See my point?  We can argue all sorts of numbers, but if businesses don’t find it possible to succeed, why bother?  Every dollar that government takes from someone else costs something beyond the actual dollar amount in question.  It’s nuts to imagine that the only way to assist the poor is by taking from Joe and his employees in order to give to someone else. 

So, if you’re voting for Barack Obama, which of these reasons is most attractive?  Which inspires you?  Are there others?  I’m all ears, as they say.

For the sake of argument I’ll recap here a few of the reasons I’ve been hearing that just don’t seem to make much sense to me.  When I say “they don’t make sense,” it’s not because they are bad aspirations.  It’s because Barack Obama has had four years to show us what drives him and his agenda, and the reasons below aren’t being addressed in a way that should cause voter confidence.

1.  Some say they are going to vote for Obama because he’s helping Americans of African descent.  I suppose if this is your reason for voting Democrat, you might have a point if by “helping” you mean giving African Americans a sense of pride because the president shares their ethnic heritage.  If you mean economic help, then you need to vote for Mitt Romney.  At least he has a record of creating jobs as an experienced businessman.  As for Obama’s employment record for blacks in America, unemployment is over 14%.  Clearly, Obama’s policies aren’t creating jobs for the black community.  You can chant the silly mantra that the fault lies with the previous administration, but four years is enough time to begin to make a difference.  There is no light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to unemployment for African Americans, at least not yet.  Changes in policy can make a difference under a new administration that wants to inspire growth rather than tax it at a higher rate.

2.  Perhaps you plan to vote for Obama because of his stance toward immigration and the way he seems to support the Latino community in America.  Think again.  Obama has put the breaks on sending some people back to Mexico who are here illegally, but he hasn’t done anything of substance to advance the nation toward responsible, comprehensive immigration reform.  All he has done is to enact a few executive orders to win Latino votes.  If you or a loved one has been affected by such an order, you may wish to reward Obama with your vote.  But don’t accuse Americans of being anti-immigrant.  We’re not.  We are a nation of immigrants … but we’re also a nation of laws.  We will support generous immigration levels, but we want immigration programs to be operated fairly and within the bounds of the law.

Obama has reached out to the Mexican government, so perhaps you’re impressed by that.  But he has been duped by Felipe Calderon, the Mexican president who came to the US to lecture us about our immigration policy.  Our policy is more humane than his own.  Fixing the immigration problem on our southern border will require putting pressure on the corrupt Mexican government for reform.  Rather than doing that, the inempt Obama allowed Calderon to put America’s problems in the spotlight rather than the problem of extreme Mexican corruption.  Our immigration problem on the southern border starts in Mexico.  That’s also where the cure will start if any of our politicians get serious about it.

In terms of Hispanic support of Obama, the real concern should be about how many Mexicans have been murdered by drug lords armed by the failed Obama Justice Department policy known as “Fast and Furious.”  Thousands of weapons were unloaded on the unsuspecting people of Mexico at the expense of the US taxpayer.  If I were of Hispanic or Latino heritage, I’d be among those who are angry as heck.   I certainly would not give my vote to a president whose justice officials have used innocent Mexicans as political pawns to advance an ideology.

And as far as unemployment is concerned, among Latinos living in the US, the unemployment rate is still over 10%.  There’s another proof that the Obama administration isn’t doing much to help that segment of our population.

3.  Lots of folks say that they want to support Obama because he’s helping the poor.  I’m not sure how, other than the increase in government handouts.  There is a place for safety nets in our society, but Obama isn’t solving the problem that’s sapping our economic strength.  His policies are making the middle class poor and sending the poor into destitutionAs I pointed out in a post last week, grocery costs are rapidly increasing.  Simple things like coffee, peanut butter, and potatoes are rising quicker than the average inflation rate.  It is becoming more and more difficult to feed our familes, and for now there is no end in sight.  The government is creating more money–meaning that the money in circulation is worth less.  The laws of economics will force the value of the dollars in circulation to go down even further.  In our society that means the poor are going to be hurt even worse by the long-term effects of Obama’s policies.  Even Romney will find it hard to turn this trend around, but for heaven’s sake, why support a president who has demonstrated that handouts are the only way he knows to help the poor?

Obama knows how to “feed a person for a day,” but he has no clue how to “feed a person for a lifetime.”  As his bureaucrats increase the temporary government help to record numbers of Americans, our debt is rising too quickly to be counted easily.  The debt clock isn’t just ticking.  It’s spinning.  As government aid is increased and abused through fraud we can ignore the debt, but it won’t ignore us for much longer.  At some point our debt will be so high that our credit rating will be dropped again.  US credit is now three notches below the high rating it once held (it was downgraded again by a major credit agency last month).  You didn’t hear much about it in the pro-Obama press, did you?

Just like a person’s credit card that reaches its limit, the world will eventually refuse our dollars because they are going to be worthless.  At that point the poor will be hit harder than anyone else.  The potential for disaster is alarming.  To understand this you only have to look at the elderly eating from garbage cans in the hard-hit, debt-ridden nations of the European Union.  Do we really think that it can’t happen here?

In terms of true improvement to their lives, Obama has done nothing for those who are poor except to increase the depth of their poverty and to make it harder for the economy to lift the poor out of misery.  Granted, he has met some of their immediate needs, but he has done nothing to establish a long-term solution.  In fact, for the long haul, he and the Democrats in Congress have so damaged our economy that recovery may take a decade.

4.  Some people say they’ll vote for Obama because the Democrats truly care for the middle class.  He speaks a good game, but the same factors putting the poor into absolute destitution are chipping away at middle-class economic stability.  There is no economic recovery because the Obama regime is pro-tax, not pro-recovery.  Business owners don’t trust that the government has their backs.  They trust only that any corporation or business owner might be next for criticism and increased taxation.  Investment seldom occurs in an environment of uncertainty.  Obama and his minions have done nothing to sponsor an attitude of trust among the businesses that make our economy hum. 

I can go on all day, especially in light of the false manner in which Obama presented himself last night.  I’m no longer angry … instead, I find myself laughing outloud at the television when Obama begins his laundry list of ways he has strengthened America and its international image.  But mine is nervous laughter.  There is nothing funny about what’s happening to our country.

Vote for Obama if you want America weaker, less influential, and supposedly “put in her place.”  Vote for Obama if you think America’s immigration policies are better than those of Mexico.  Return him to the Oval Office if you believe we can spend on the government credit card without disastrous consequences.

For many, Obama is their man because “he’ll make sure I get mine.”  When it comes to the very real possibility of economic collapse in the US, there is no “mine” and there is no “yours.”  There is only ours and we don’t have forever to begin making the necessary corrections to save what belongs to us all.

ABC Demonstrates (Again) That It’s “Anything But Credible”

What happened in the early hours of the morning yesterday in Aurora, Colorado, is nothing short of repulsive.  It sickened me–and that is no stretch.  Hearing that unsuspecting, innocent lives were cut short by an armed madman–small children included–brought me to the edge of nausea.  In the midst of that inhumane brutality there were assuredly many acts of personal bravery that we will never know because the heros and heroines who performed them now lay among the dead.  “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for another” (John 15:13).

The story of one hero, however, has emerged.  Jarell Brooks appears to be a typical 19-year-old, but yesterday morning he showed the courage of a lion when he saved the life of Patricia Legarreta and her two young children, one of whom is only four months old.  While trying to escape the hail of bullets echoing through the theater, he took time to assist the young family as they attempted to flee the building.  As he did so, he was shot in his right thigh from behind.  Patricia was also hit.  That’s when they fell to the floor, but Jarell continued to push the family to safety.  “I was thinking, I have to get this family out, without getting hit myself. I managed to do one,” Brooks told ABC News.  Their injuries turned out to be minor, and both adults were treated and released from medical care.  We can all be comforted that, as Patricia later said, “in times of trial, there are good people out there.”

Not everything from ABC yesterday was so uplifting–or so accurate.  As live coverage was aired of Aurora police peering into the assailant’s booby-trapped apartment yesterday morning, ABC anchor George Stephanopoulis cut to reporter Brian Ross.  Rather than demonstrating any type of professional journalism, Ross announced that he discovered the name “Jim Holmes” on the webpage of the Colorado Tea Party.  Stephanopoulis set it up by stating that Ross was “looking into, investigating the background of Jim Holmes” (whom police had just identified as the accused shooter).

“We don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes,” Ross intoned, but one wonders about the point of this stupidity nonetheless.  Does this simply represent the poor state of what passes as contemporary American journalism, or as I suspect, is something much more sinister at work here?  What kind of prejudice controls a person who imagines implausible connections between a daranged rifleman and the Tea Party activists whose protests have never been marked by violence?

ABC later apologized.  Again, one is given pause to wonder.  Was it sincere or was it an automatic gesture extended because of the outcry against the ridiculous misconstrual of the Tea Party movement?  Either way, the damage was done … again.  I suppose if you’re blinded by self-righteousness, anything goes and anyone can be an ideological victim.

19-Year-Old Jarell Brooks: Real-Life Hero

We go to the movies to escape for a while.  In the anonymous darkness we can be asbsorbed into fantasy, excitement, and action.  We leave behind our cares to enjoy a couple of hours of pretending.  Perhaps we revert to the innocence of childhood at these moments as the images and sounds of Hollywood fill our heads.  Fixed in a short time of enjoyment, we’re no longer political adversaries.  Our physical and ideological differences aren’t even of concern as we sit together in the dark.

As on-screen fantasy turned into real-life horror yesterday morning, the darkness of entertainment brought its participants to the edge of absolutes.  Ideology and politics didn’t matter.  Only life mattered.  Jarell Brooks responded with a generosity that could have cost him his life.  The pundits at ABC simply continued down the path of a political bigotry firmly planted in fallacy.