Thursday, September 2, 2010

Amazing Video at the Restoring Honor Rally on 8/28

This article appeared this morning on The Blaze and it is amazing. I tried to embed the videos here but I had some trouble with them. They are worth the few minutes it takes to watch them.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

How free are we?

I read an article the other day that got the wheels moving in my brain. I've been thinking a lot about the freedoms granted in the Bill of Rights and how they are abused in many instances. Let me begin by saying that I support and fully believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as being divinely inspired ideas that have be misunderstood at times by the general population. But we must recognize that every action, no matter how free we are, has a consequence.

The gist of the article was that Target has exercised their newly legal right to contribute company funds to political candidates in support of a candidate who is "an outspoken opponent of gay marriage." Well, the gay and lesbian community sees this as offensive and immediately calls for an apology and a boycott of Target. So, thus far we have one group exercising a right which offends a second group, so the second group retaliates by exercising a right to harm the first group. The real kicker in the article for me was reading that the homosexual community expects Target to match the initial contribution towards another candidate who is pro-gay marriage. As they say, "The repair has to be consistent with the harm that was done."

This doesn't seem right to me. I have opinions and you have opinions, and chances are that those opinions will offend other people around us. That is a consequence of being able to voice out thoughts freely. It does not mean that we should change our opinions or that our views are wrong. It simply means that others see things differently. If we were forced to change our views every time someone was offended we would lose our freedom of speech and religion. If Target, as a company, has an opinion about who they want in government they have the right to show their opinion with the money they have earned. To force them into a position of supporting someone financially that they otherwise would not support is wrong. I have nothing against a boycott of companies that you disagree with in principle. That is also an exercise of free speech that has it's own consequences. Just don't trample on the freedom of others along the way.

Along these same lines is the Muslim community advocating a mosque be built near Ground Zero in New York City. Is it within their rights? Absolutely. Should it be done. No! It is disrespectful to everyone intimately connected to the attacks on 9/11, as well as to our country as a whole. There are numerous other mosques throughout New York City, which are a testament to the free exercise of religion we enjoy in America. I understand that the majority of the Muslim community is peaceful and we should not punish them for the actions of a splinter group who do not live peacefully, but they should be understanding of people feeling this is inappropriate. I could continue on this subject, but I will not.

I guess what I'm really getting at is respect and self-control. Respect for our freedoms by exercising them with careful judgment. Respect for others by not blatantly using our freedoms to do harm. Respecting the nature of consequences for actions and being willing to accept those consequences. It has become popular in society to just do things because we can, because it's within our rights. Judgment and restraint are all but gone from our minds. And the government feeds that mentality by telling us that we are entitled to everything under the sun and that they should be the ones to provide it for us.

Yes, we are the most free people in the world, but exercising our rights and freedoms does not absolve us of the consequences of our actions.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Recent Frustrations

It's been a while since I've blogged. I was without a computer for a couple of weeks, which meant that I was away from the internet as my source for information. Luckily, our computer was still under warranty for one more week, so we had our hard drive replaced completely for free. Thanks Apple! It's taken a little bit of time to get back into the swing of things and catch up on major events. I'm sure I missed a lot that I'm not even aware of yet. While I was away I did get to watch a number of documentaries thanks to Netflix. You can learn about some of the more interesting ones here, here, and here. That last link should not be confused with this, but you may see a correlation between the two.

Now that I am back in the saddle (figuratively), I would like to take the time to clear a few thoughts all at once. I'm frustrated and saddened by the some of the recent actions by the various branches of our government. It's seems apparent that the checks and balances system built into our original system has been overtaken and destroyed by our current government system. The initial intent of checks and balances was so that no one branch of government became so overly powerful that it could abuse and use the citizens. But within the last month we have witnessed each of the three branches of government abuse power, unchecked and unbalanced by either of the other branches. Let's review them, starting with the Executive Branch:

First, we saw our Executive Branch, which has the responsibility to enforce the laws passed by the Legislature and to appoint judges within the Judicial system, begin a legal struggle with the state of Arizona over immigration. Regardless of your opinion on the issue itself, when the Federal Government begins suing states over their right to protect the citizens we have a real problem. It's a divisive tactic to say the least, and one that I'm sure is being employed intentionally. You may have heard the old adage that a house divided against itself cannot stand. If the federal government can orchestrate a series of events that would pit state against state, and people against people, our country would be ripe for a sweeping change in government action that will put us on a quick path towards communism. In this instance, the Fed is saying that the people of Arizona don't know what is good for themselves, so it requires someone else to tell them what is good for their state. This is a blatant overstepping of bounds and powers as much as Obamacare is a blatant overstepping of bounds and powers. And when states, like Missouri, vote to exempt themselves from Obamacare we hear the White House respond by saying that five million votes mean nothing to them.

Which brings me to our Legislative Branch. I just mentioned Obamacare, which was the dreamchild of the President, but put into play by the Legislature. We've witnessed the ill side-effects of the Bailout, which was started by Bush and finished under Obama. In recent weeks it is the Financial Reform bill that was passed that will cause more ill side-effects. These things, along with a number of other things like them, are reasons why California Representative Pete Stark would feel comfortable telling his constituents "I think that there are very few Constitutional limits that would prevent the federal government from rules that could affect your private life...The Federal government can do most anything." For a while I've been thinking how contradictory it is for us to expect honesty and virtue from our elected representatives when, by and large, we choose them from among the ranks of lawyers. Haven't we all heard jokes and generalizations about the dishonest nature of lawyers. It's nothing new and yet we continue to put lying and cheating lawyers in charge of creating laws that they can take advantage of in the future.

This leaves the Judicial Branch. It has long been a fear, even among our founders, that if a judge were given too much power we would find laws being produced in court instead of being interpreted. I've heard the term "Activist Judge" being used. I fully expect to see this now that we are getting Supreme Court Judges appointed who have no judicial experience at all. It's a scary thought to me that I would expect a judge to use the law to protect the innocent and punish the guilty, but in some cases the law is being interpreted and used to further a hidden agenda. Which brings me to the judge in California ruling that the constitutional amendment, now known a Prop 8, twice approved by the people of the state is unconstitutional. Gay rights is a topic for another day, but in this case the judge was being an activist for his own cause, as he is gay himself. In his response he mentioned that marriage is a bigoted institution used to put down homosexuals and that the people were voting for it based on morals rather than laws. I find this outrageous! Two times the people of California have voted on the issue in support of traditional marriage, and both time a judge has told them that what they think doesn't matter. Seven million people in California don't matter. Also, our legal system has its origins in Judeo-Christian law, which is a moral code and was so long before our government was established. And if a judge can somehow magically discern the motives behind peoples votes could we please get one of these judges to say that Obama shouldn't be President because most people voted for him because he's black and not because of his qualifications.

The three branches of our government have become three superpowers struggling for total control of the best country on earth and we, the people, are the ones being hit with the bombs while they fight. We should be aware, as were our founders, that government derives its power by the consent of those that are governed. We are watching our government take power unto itself, without care or concern for us. It is a virus that is spreading in Washington D.C. If we are not careful it will spread through the entire country.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Race Card

For starters, this video and the events surrounding it are the motivation for this discussion:

There are so many things to discuss from this video. What is clear is that for all of the progress that has been made from the Civil Right Movement there are still ignorant people reproducing. It is also clear that when these ignorant people have nothing better to do they will incite violence and hate by playing the race card.

Since the founding of the United States racism has been a real problem plaguing our progress. Slavery was a great injustice unwillingly tolerated from the same people who stated that "all men are created equal." Many of the Founding Fathers fought slavery but knew that, at least at that time, they would not be able to unite the divided colonies into a strong nation if the ratification of the Constitution were based on this one issue alone. It took less than 100 years for the leaders of our country to return to the issue of slavery, and it nearly tore the nation apart in the Civil War. Beyond that, it was nearly another 100 years before full rights of citizenship were given to those freed by the Civil War. Here we are, almost 250 years from the initial argument at the foundation of our country, and the hate, violence, and segregation are now illegal, but are perpetuated nonetheless.

After watching the video above some may think that the New Black Panther Party's acerbic message will be intended to draw attention and recruits only. Make no mistake, they do intend violence. They are anti-white, they are anti-police, and they are anti-government (please watch this video too). The Black Panther Party of the Civil Rights Movement was no different. And, while they do ascribe more to the doctrine of Malcolm X, they also would profess to believe the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. These same people would see no difference in their dreams of black supremacy and the dreams of brotherhood of MLK. These same people would see no difference in their dreams of violent domination and the doctrines of Jesus Christ that they hear from the pulpit every Sunday. The ignorant will continue to justify their wildly ridiculous claims by whatever doctrine sounds good to them, completely ignoring the facts all the while. And they will continue to play the race card because it creates a passive, sympathetic audience.

What I find to be interesting is the complete lack of coverage in the mainstream media of this hate speech and promised violence. If it were the KKK patrolling at voting stations and promising violence so loudly you can believe the case would not have been dropped and the news would have in depth coverage.

At this point, I do think the intention behind the hate rhetoric is to draw out into violence equally ignorant people on the opposite end of the spectrum. This would only 'justify' any acts of retribution on the part of the Black Panthers. The best solution to this problem is counteracting it with intelligence. We need people to stay educated on the current issues and the history of it all. Intelligent dialogue would shed light on the subject that is covered in the darkness of ignorant hate. With that intelligence we can plainly see that this is parallel to the rhetoric used by Hitler to create an environment in which the Holocaust could occur. Will we allow that to happen again?

It is part of the carnal nature of man to be susceptible to greed, envy, hate, lust, and a desire for power. It has been that way since the beginning. Those who act on those desires have many times attained that power, but always at the expense of others' freedoms. It does not matter the reasoning we repress people, whether it is because of race, religion, sex, or political affiliation, it is all wrong. Hate will never end if we only try to counter it with equal and opposite hate. We will only find freedom and brotherhood among those who daily choose to ignore the carnal desires. These are the only people who will truly realize the dreams of Martin Luther King, Jr. These are the only people who will truly deserve it.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Words from the wise

"It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor." - George Washington

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." - John Adams

"And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever." - Thomas Jefferson

"I've lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: That God governs in the affairs of men. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We've been assured in the sacred writings that unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it." - Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Publik Edukashun

Education reform has been a topic Congress has danced around for years now and it's time something was actually done. I am a product of the public education system, so you might think that I would favor what I am accustomed to, but I don't. Honestly, I feel that I am a fluke of the system. Actually, any intelligent person who makes it out of public education is a fluke of the system. We are fortunate that despite years of poorly run government education we still have some sense left. How much longer can we expect our country to last when our government runs an education system that fails to teach and instill American values and ideals within our students? They don't learn about our history. They don't know why America is great. They don't pledge allegiance to the flag. They don't sing the national anthem unless they are at a sporting event. And they sure don't pray in school. Instead, they learn why America has to apologize to the rest of the world.

In tackling this topic I find myself pulled in so many directions that I'm not exactly sure how to keep all of my thoughts on this coherent. Like always, though, I think that anything that has the governments hands in it is being run less efficiently than it otherwise could be. Education is no exception. I prefer privatized education with pay incentives for teachers meeting benchmarks with their students.

One of the main reasons that I prefer private education over public education is the aspect of competition. Just as with the economy, competition will have a positive impact on the education of all Americans. Why are professional athletes so much better than a little league squad? Years of competition and training. Why are professional actors so much better than any high school play you've ever seen? Years of competition and training. Why are foreign students becoming smarter and winning jobs over American students? Years of competition and training. Competition brings out the best and brightest in everyone. As private schools compete for students parents will begin to differentiate between schools based on the education quality that is being offered. Think about it as if you are shopping for furniture. If all you are ever offered is a couch from Wal-Mart (public education) you might occasionally get a couch that is well built. But for the most part, each couch will be poor in quality and will break under minor strain. (And this is from the same government who wants to handle your health care.) If, on the other hand, you buy a couch from a reputable and respectable furniture store (private education) you might occasionally get a poorly made couch. But for the most part, each couch will be a quality product that will stand the test of time.

Another aspect that I find really frustrating is the strangle hold that teacher's unions have on education politics and politics in general. It is amazing how quickly a politician will give up on a good idea when a teacher's union threatens to remove their approval of that candidate. With the great power that they wield they are not standing behind candidates that will improve education. They support the candidates that will allow them to continue with status quo. And that status means that more and more kids are graduated each year who can't read, write, or do basic math. That status means that more and more unqualified and unmotivated teachers get tenure and seniority, essentially securing them a cushy position doing nothing for a paycheck for years to come. Teacher's unions don't promote improvements or competition. If you need more information or proof of the negative impact of unions you can read all about it here.

Under the current education system there is no motivation for teachers to improve. Good teachers, like intelligent graduates, are a fluke of the system. And they deserve a lot of praise and a lot more pay than they are getting. Doing the right thing when there is no reward is not always easy, but there are great teachers out there who go far beyond their duties and pay to reach out to students. Altruism is a rare, but needed quality. In Confucianism it is believed that the teacher is the most noble and honorable profession a person could attain. Teachers were highly trained and highly paid because they taught and inspired the rising generation. Teachers still teach and inspire the rising generation, but for the most part teachers will only inspire students in so far as they are compensated for that inspiration. Is it any wonder that societies based around the ancient teaching of Confucianism are the very societies that are surpassing America in all aspects of education?

People may argue with my idea of the complete privatization of the education system saying that there is no way they could afford to send their kids to private schools. On the surface this may be a valid argument, but we are all paying for kids to go to public school and get a poor education. Public education is funded from our taxes, mostly from state income taxes, property taxes, and federal taxes. The amount of money the government spends per student annually is phenomenal in some areas. And yet the number show that students don't do any better when more money is spent on them in public schools. If we eliminate the public school system, even if only at the high school level, we will free up thousands of dollars in tax money for parents to use towards a private education. And if that's not enough, then maybe parents will be forced to take a more hands on approach to educating their kids. When the parents are involved the kids are more likely to take education seriously and compete for scholarships at private schools. Paying for public education out of tax money has separated many parents emotionally from the system because they are not physically writing out a check for their child's education, unlike with private education. Education will never succeed without the involvement of the parents from start to finish.

I will admit that this is a big step to take at once, but I certainly feel it is the right step. But if we must move in small steps, the we must reconsider the topic of school vouchers. These vouchers would provide government funds for parents who want a private education for their kids. The funds would not fully pay for the education, but it would supplement the parents' funds. Also, I am encouraged the many charter schools that are being opened up around the country. These school focus the curriculum towards the interests of the students with the end goal being an intelligent and skilled graduate. I am sure there are many great ideas out there for improving education and I have not even touched the surface as to the many reasons we have a need for reform. But we must be sure that reform happens soon or we will have a rising generation that will be less intellectual that the one previous.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Economy

Let me preface this by stating that I am no expert in economics. But, I feel, based on the current economic situation, that being an expert may be part of the problem.

America is a land of ingenuity and advancement. The entrepreneurial spirit is more alive in American than anywhere else in the world. This spirit is the foundation of what we refer to as the "American Dream" and the reason why so many people from all over the world seek out our shores.

Our economy is founded on the principles of capitalism, which essentially means that the people control the economy by how they choose to spend their money. Businesses thrive because they are better able to provide a service or a good to the people with money. Businesses that are unable to generate customers fail. Hence the need for ingenuity and creativity when starting a business. And Americans have done very well. America is the birthplace of electricity, light bulbs, television, computers, automobiles, airplanes, the internet, etc. American companies are recognized the world over - Wal-Mart, McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Ford, Chevy, etc. And family owned and operated businesses build a strong backbone within our market. I worked in a family owned small business all through my childhood and it helped to teach me the value of work, money, and creativity.

The driving force behind capitalism being a success is that the government does not control the market. When government controls the market or even over regulates a market we move away from capitalism and into socialism. Some would argue that this might be a good thing, especially in the light of the dishonest actions within the housing and lending markets that have led to our current troubles. I would say that you should ask Russia how it turned out for them having a government run market. And yet, this is exactly the route we are taking. The government is reaching its greedy hands into the market, taking over businesses in the financial sector and even the auto industry. In my opinion, the government, behind a sneaky liberal agenda, is trying to expand ever further to slowly swallow our economy to pay off our enormous debts. It won't work because the more the government interferes or controls the market the less entrepreneurial spirit we will see.

Businesses come and go. It is the way of free trade. When a business is no longer relevant someone will replace it with something better. With the government stepping in to bailout hundreds of businesses over the last couple of years we have seen our debts rise and our economy crash. The Fed interfered with the natural flow of capitalism and we are seeing the devastating consequences that cannot be escaped so long as politicians continue to meddle in affairs that they understand less than I do. What should be happening in stead is the American people should be changing their spending habits. We were all hurt by immoral lenders over inflating home values and home builders feeding into the climate it created. These businesses deserved to fail. These businesses would have failed and been replaced with smarter, better solutions if not for our leaders. It is corruption preserving corruption, and when that happens we all lose.

Our economy can recover. Our economy should recover. But whether or not our economy actually does recover will depend on the people regaining control of the market. There are many factors at play within our capitalist foundation and none of them can be ignored. Education is one key component. Without highly educated and skilled people many businesses will never get off of the ground. Work, hard and honest work, is also necessary. More and more people are neglecting work and looking for the next government handout to sustain them. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness will never be handed out in a welfare line. These things are earned with blood, sweat, and tears. When we combine education and hard work we can become productive. And productivity is exactly what we need right now.