Bloomberg: The Capeless Crusader

Bloomberg: The Capeless Crusader

Bloomberg is a man who never sleeps, apparently.

His zeal for public health and safety is unabated, despite a resounding “No,” from the courts in response to his ridiculous legislation banning large cups and bottles of soda. Now, the “capeless crusader” has turned once again to the item which health crusaders attack most often and most viciously: cigarettes and other forms of smoking tobacco.

The Capeless Crusader: Tireless Defender of Everyone Else's Health
The Capeless Crusader: Tireless Defender of Everyone Else’s Health

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t endorse smoking, nor do I smoke. But neither do I endorse the government-funded war on smoking. My reason for this is simple: smoking is not healthy, it’s true. But neither is eating too much. And the zealots are already turning toward overeating as their next crusade, starting with a seemingly innocuous requirement that restaurants post calorie content of each menu item. Today, require caloric content to be posted. Tomorrow, completely ban the food items that are the unhealthiest.

All that aside, I think the Mayor’s actions speak for themselves. And they say . . .

And they say . . .

Well, what do you think?

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Poem: God Give Us Men!

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An American Statesman — Senator Rand Paul

In honor of Senator Rand Paul (and his recent filibuster), here is an incredibly relevant poem that is a prayer for men who aren’t afraid to lead. There are several lines that stood out to me as readily observable characteristics of this man among boys in Washington, but I will leave the entire poem in original form, invite you to read it (it’s quite brief), and then comment and tell me which lines you saw that reminded you of something about this statesman.

God give us men! A time like this demands

Strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands;

Men who the lust of office does not kill;

Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;

Men who possess opinions and a will;

Men who have honor; men who will not lie;

Men who can stand before a demagogue

And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking!

Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog

In public duty and in private thinking;

For while the rabble, with their thumb-worn creeds,

Their large professions and their little deeds,

Mingle in selfish strife, lo! Freedom weeps,

Wrong rules the land and waiting Justice sleeps.

— Josiah Gilbert Holland

Brief, but powerful–and laden with commentary on our day, even though it was written over a hundred years ago.

Do you see any characteristics of Senator Rand Paul in this poem? Do you disagree with my classification of him as a statesman?

Planning for Success in Difficult Times

Government intervention, the President and current administration tell us–daily–is the way that we will achieve our goals for the future.

There are many reasons to take exception to this statement. Some of the more obvious (at least to me): First of all, what happened in the years before the modern government existed? How did people even survive, let alone thrive, in the absence of the vast resources available from the current government programs? Second, why so many people telling us, to the point of shouting down any dissenters, that this is THE ONLY WAY to do business in today’s world? Third, toward whose goals are we pressing, again? Fourth, what makes you (the progressives) so sure that “everybody” wants what you do?

Just a Thought: Independent men built this country...not bureaucrats.
Just a Thought: Independent men built this country…not bureaucrats.

One of the email newsletters to which I subscribe is titled “The Morning Jolt” and features bold headlines and news that will “set your blood to simmer[ing],” as the author wrote in February 13, 2013’s edition. This daily imprint features Jim Geraghty’s thoughts on a number of subjects, and he is usually dead-on in his analysis of current events. He is committed to combating the pervasive influence of the lovers of the “progressive agenda” (read “retrogressive suppression of independence”) for America.

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Jim Geraghty is a conservative political pundit and a contributing editor to The National Review

(photo credit)

One of the subjects he addresses head-on in the 2/13 edition of Morning Jolt is the rising cost of employing full-time workers here in the US. Written by Charles Hugh Smith, this article is worth reading because it addresses several factors (one of which is the return on investment consideration for employers [woefully under-discussed in the current climate]) influencing the economic stagnation which is so prevalent, and because it does so in such a well-written format that there is no need for this author to reinvent the wheel. ūüėČ

Geraghty quotes extensively from the article cited above, and then offers a few words of his own on this subject:

“In short, the unemployed, the departed-the-workforce, the just-entered-the-workforce and soon-to-enter-the-workforce cannot be sufficiently productive to justify the expense of hiring them. And we know this pretty much has to be true, because corporations are sitting on¬†roughly $1.7 trillion in cash right now [according to a recent article from one of the blogs of the New York Times, apparently. I (Dave here) was not able to follow this link to research it.]. It’s not that they don’t have the money to hire people. They just don’t think that hiring people would generate more money than having it just sit there in their accounts, which is a phenomenally depressing conclusion.”

That’s pretty simple, and it’s pretty clear, too. Excessive and punitive regulation has driven the cost of adding new workers so high that it has exacerbated the underemployment of the younger and (usually) less-experienced members of the workforce. Why do I say that it has made this problem worse, rather than “excessive regulations have¬†caused underemployment of the young?” Because this underemployment¬†is caused by the understandable predisposition of employers to hire more experienced workers, rather than younger workers who require more investment (time to train, money to pay minimum wages, benefits, etc.) and less return for said outlay.

In other words, the employer is made slightly worse off by being forced to be more choosy in who he hires; or, alternatively, by being forced to buy machinery to automate what a minimum-wage worker would otherwise do. The potential minimum-wage worker, however, is made much worse off: not only is he robbed of the opportunity to work for minimum wage, he is also (often) denied the opportunity to work and gain experience that would qualify him for more appealing, better-paying jobs.

As one of the young and underemployed, I know whereof I speak. A six-month job hunt–during which I have aggressively sought employment by repeated phone calls, in-person submissions of my resume, and face-to-face introductions–has resulted in only one interview.

Am I complaining? No, I’m simply pointing out that I understand (from personal experience) how tough it is to find a job in today’s depressed economy.

While punitive (from an employers’ perspective) regulation is certainly a key factor, to say that it is the sole variable in this complicated problem would be to commit an unforgivable oversimplification.

I cannot in the scope of this article address every economic factor that contributes to the high unemployment rate among young workers; however, I believe there are two surpluses, surpluses that go largely unaddressed in the current discussion on the unemployment rate, that play a critical role in this phenomenon.

The first surplus is the result of education. More and more, we see students entering liberal arts colleges pursuing majors such as Twelfth-Century Poetry, Ancient Literature Interpretation, and Underwater Basket-Weaving. (Ok, I made the last one up, but you get the idea.) Even students in fields that, a few years ago, featured robust demand are seeing a dramatic drop in employment opportunities. This decrease has affected not only “soft” majors such as the ones above, but “not-so-soft” majors like liberal arts, communication arts, art, and others. Geraghty wrote a very insightful paragraph in his February 13 “Morning Jolt” column:

“Folks, the art world and publishing world are fiercely competitive even in the very best of times, so you’re going to need a backup career just in case things don’t work out. This also applies to those who aspire to fame and fortune in journalism, professional athletics, the music industry, most of the entertainment industry, and most of the jobs that the world covets. You’ve got to be really talented, and really hard-working. And yes, lucky. I realize I’m very, very, very, very lucky to have a job that I (usually) enjoy and that allows me to make a living. Of course, I suspect those outside those fields overestimate the role of luck. My buddy Cam — now on the¬†Sportsman Channel!¬†— will periodically hear from someone, ‘Boy, you’re really lucky to find a job where you get to host a radio show!’ and he has to bite his tongue and refrain from mentioning all the years he worked as reporter and assistant news director, driving all over the state of Oklahoma on any assignment he could get, long hours, lousy pay, and so on.”

He also makes a very pithy, observant statement: “Nobody just hands you a plum job in journalism.” Truth! It may shock some college students to realize that nobody “just hands you” any plum job. Most of the plum jobs in the world go to those who have busted their behinds for it.

Is that fair?

Before you answer that, stop and think about how you would feel if you spent ten years of your life working at any job you could find in your chosen profession, striving for that “dream job,” only to see it handed to some fresh-faced newbie fresh off the education assembly line because they “deserved it.” How would that make you feel?

Yeah, you’re right…there are two sides to every coin.

The second surplus is the result of a lack of practical education. Increasingly, college graduates are sorely lacking in portable skills that can only be obtained by personal contact and interaction with people. Why is there such a deficit of ordinary, everyday interpersonal skills? Again, the answer is too long and complex for a post of this length, but some contributing factors are the increasing obsession with screen media, the widespread revolt against traditional values, and the epidemic, not of illiteracy, but of a-literacy.

According to Susan Jacoby’s book The Age of American Unreason, published in 2008, only 57 percent of the American public has ever read a non-fiction book. Making a logical assumption that some people’s only non-fictional exposure is from required reading for school, the number of people who read non-fiction books from personal desire is quite possibly substantially smaller. This is relevant to the discussion at hand, precisely because readers are better equipped than non-readers to follow, evaluate, and process a complex train of thought in a logical fashion.

In education, as in many other areas of life, many Americans have forsaken personal responsibility for the convenience of “pre-packaged” curriculum. Some seem to think that if it’s not taught in school, or required reading for one of their classes, it’s just not worth the time it would take ¬†read about it.

It’s heartbreaking to see education of all types going to ruin here in the States. It’s particularly sad when one considers the historical successes of the “self-made man,” the man who educated himself–outside the scope of the marbled halls and manicured lawns of the university–at great expense of time and effort, and built a business, a trade, a living, and (for more than a few) a fortune. The current scoffing at those who have made their living in this way reflects the near-idolatrous regard many hold for the “almighty college degree.” Current disdain notwithstanding, self-education–as with many other forms of self-reliance–is a phenomenon that is disproportionately represented in the United States. Freedom to keep the proceeds of one’s efforts truly is the greatest encouragement to innovation and initiative.

In short, government intervention of all sorts into employment contracts is fraught with examples of stagnation following efforts taken for the (expressed) purpose of producing greater economic growth. In every case, more government intervention and regulation resulted in LESS growth, not MORE as the politicians predicted. The brighter tomorrow our elected officials pay lip-service to will only come about by a return to the truly American principles of independence, self-education, individual choice and liberty, personal responsibility, and self-governance.

 

Gun Owners Not Progressives, Refuse to Be Cowed By Psychological Campaign

[Owning] A smoking gun could be as bad for your social image as a smoking cigarette, if liberals have their way.

The¬†Christian¬†Science Monitor, the far-out publication of the Christian Scientists, has muddled the facts once again on an important cultural issue. The magazine, which recently classed Palestinian-funded terrorist attacks against Israel as “military action,” now insists that the way to curb gun violence is a public perception campaign designed to stigmatize gun ownership, much akin to the campaign that successfully stigmatized smoking.

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Cogitating Duck’s Profile Graphic

(Visit Stigmatize gun ownership like smoking? on Cogitating Duck to read another interesting article on this subject.)

Recent surveys, however, may indicate that such attempts are doomed to dismal failure. According to Dr. Rob Spurgeon, holder of the chair of¬†Aristotelian¬†Professor of Logic and Co-chair of the Department of Farming (yes, really) at Real Life University in Western North Carolina, gun owners belong to the group of people who still evaluate any line of reasoning according to the logical merits of its arguments, rather than its emotional impact. “Those who advocate this line of reasoning aren’t thinking clearly,” Dr. Spurgeon explains. “The gun owners the progressives seek to embarrass about their guns are much more emotionally robust than their liberal counterparts. What the stigmatizers fail to admit is that many of those same gun owners are employed in professions that bring them face to face with the harsh realities of real life and the real world.

“Not every animal that is born on the farm lives to see the next spring,” Spurgeon continues. “There are many factors that contribute to a high mortality rate among the animal population of the average agrarian establishment: storm, disease, fire, predators, and yes, some of them are slated to give up their lives to feed the humans that maintain the grange.” But what does this have to do with the argument he posits against a “public shaming” campaign targeting gun owners? He explains:

“Because of the high investment in the animals in terms of time, an unavoidable emotional attachment will form as a result. Furthermore, a farmer’s great compassion for animals–despite the stereotype to the contrary–gives him a desire to see all prosper under his care. He is not overly concerned with his animals’ comfort, but neither does he neglect them. Instead, he looks most solicitously after them, for their well-being is directly tied to his own success. Thus the death of a six-week-old lamb due to complications of pneumonia is not an event which takes place in a vacuum. Unlike city-dwellers, whose primary concern is that the animals from whom the meat they purchase derives did not suffer during the ‘manufacturing’ process, these folks have deep ties to their animals. When one dies, it’s a very real and significant event in the lives of its caretakers. However, the real world dictates that the farmer–after an appropriate interval–must dry his tears, bury the dead, and get back to work.”

Nor is farming the only profession which requires a realistic, grin-and-go-on mentality. Dr. David Crain, Sr., Vice Chancellor of Real-Life University, explains:

Our student body is unique. It’s diverse. There are many different backgrounds and origins represented. Many of our students are preparing for careers in business. Some spend their time volunteering in various non-profit organizations. Others feel the call to full-time vocational ministry. Whatever the course of study in which a student is enrolled, the core curriculum is the same…

We don’t discriminate, but we don’t worry about active recruiting (affirmative action) procedures either. We believe that the students who desire to study here will come of their own volition. If they don’t want to be here, telling them how great our campus is won’t change their mind, and neither will our curriculum. Does this mean that we don’t promote the University when people ask? Certainly not! That’s half of the mission of RLU…to engage with the culture and convince others of the truth of our beliefs and practices.

Basic Economics, Politics 101, Public Speaking, English Grammar, Critical Thinking, Logic, and The Fine Art of Growing Thick Skin are courses that are non-negotiable. Here at RLU, we believe that if our graduates are to succeed, then they must learn and apply to their everyday lives the principles imparted by the dedicated staff in these departments. Our purpose is not to educate people into uselessness, but to educate them in useful disciplines that will make them profitable citizens, informed voters, critical thinkers, rational parents, and stable adults…

Dr. Crain founded Real Life University in early 1997, at the time that his oldest son, David Crain, Jr. was in the 7th grade. “I knew,” he later reminisced, “that I didn’t want my boys going out into the world without understanding where the progressive professors in the state-run education system got their ideas, and how patently false the assumptions behind accepted modern thought really are.”

Operating on a shoe-string budget, and in spite of overwhelming disapproval from his peers, Dr. Crain hand-selected his own textbooks, supplemental reading, and spent countless hours writing and re-writing tests, quizzes, and course notes, many of which are still used today in the core classes at RLU. “Despite the many hours of sleep I lost,” he said in a recent interview, “the ultimate reward was in seeing my boys grow up to be clear-eyed, level-headed thinkers who, actively refusing to imbibe the pleasant (but mind-numbing) wine of progressive socialism,¬†entered into debate with those who espoused the progressive worldview. Above all, it was a joy to see them do so–not arrogantly–but fearlessly, regardless of the academic or political stature of their opponent.”

On hunting down one of these boys, we found young Mr. Crain, a lanky six-footer with a ready grin and a shock of curly brown hair, to be as ready a commentator as his father. He took a full two hours in the middle of mowing a pasture to answer our questions and talk politics. Wearing faded Wranglers that were dark¬†stonewashed¬†when new, a Ford¬†ball cap,¬† and a plaid flannel shirt, he jumps off the tractor and grips the author’s hand like a steel trap gripping a coyote’s paw.

“I grew up on the farm, and it’s easy to forget that not everybody shakes hands with country folk everyday,” he offers apologetically as Scribens rubs his tingling digits. A clear speaker, his voice is nevertheless tinged with an authentic Southern burr that softens the pronunciation of some words. His years of public speaking experience are evidenced by the overemphasis of certain syllables when he’s making a point, however.

“I loved living out in the country…still do,” he continued in our January 24th interview. “There’s an atmosphere of peace and safety that’s refreshing and comforting, and I’ve yet to be in a city where that same sense of security prevails. Of course, there are things that happen out here from time to time in the way of crime, but nothing like the big cities where people are stacked up in¬†cracker-box¬†penthouses and apartments. Out here, there’s a little more space between houses, and people are more relaxed.”

Broach the subject of politics as it relates to logical thought, and you’ll get a glimpse of what makes this young man tick. He sits up a little straighter, his voice grows a little stronger, and his eyes gleam, not with the wild light of the lunatic but the passion of an to informed man eager to guide others on the road to truth.

“Eisenhower said it, and he said it well: ‘Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.’ Granted, he was talking specifically about the military-industrial complex, but America has ignored the deeper and broader implications to her own peril.

“We live in a nation today that is convinced that truth is something that can only be obtained by a renunciation of all that has gone before, and a disinterested search through the uncharted wilds of the relativistic ether for an equally elusive concept of relevant truth for this postmodern world,” he elucidates. “The classic interpretation of truth as objective and relevant to all ages is a concept that is no longer embraced by the culturally enlightened. Objective truth has gone the way of the dinosaur, and they hope it stays there. But only by a return to this paradigm, now a pariah in the very society that gave it its greatest expression, can we hope to turn this country back to its founding principles and documents.”

At this point I mentioned the¬†Christian Science Monitor¬†article, and asked him what he thought of the suggested “public perception” campaign to “stigmatize gun ownership.”

He laughed. “You’re kidding, right?” Then his grin disappeared and he looked thoughtful. “It’s going to take a lot more than that, quite honestly. I mean, they compare it to smoking, but that’s just foolish. Do I agree with the stigmatization of smoking and smokers? No. I believe there’s enough evidence to convince people of the harmful effects of smoking. I have personal reasons for abstaining that¬†include¬†(but are not limited to)¬†the health concerns, but I don’t believe that the government should tell anyone: ‘Thou shalt not smoke,’ or, ‘Thou shalt smoke only here, and only under these circumstances.'”

“Before you stone me as being anti-health, stop and think about it for a moment. How consistent would it be for me to lobby for the government to restrict the choice of some folks to engage in activities that I don’t like, but don’t necessarily harm others, and then scream when those same people use that same government to take away certain of my rights with which they do not agree?”

“Now, I’m not equating smoking to bearing arms as a right; I’m just drawing a parallel. A much more equal comparison would be between free speech and bearing arms; or between right to protection from unreasonable search and seizure and bearing arms. These are all rights as granted by the Constitution and the Amendments thereof, and they are not, as the Second Amendment states, to be infringed.”

“So do I think the progressives will be successful in their campaign to stigmatize guns? No, I don’t. The people they seek to bully into cowering submission are largely well-educated, familiar with real life, accustomed to hardship, and are pretty set in their convictions on these matters. They’re not doing something that is harmful to their health, something that they took up years ago because everybody thought it was cool…that’s what smoking is for many people. But gun ownership is different, and ingrained in the DNA of every conservative father is the drive to pass on the safe use of, and love for, guns.”

“Despite any attempts to stigmatize the owners, guns are part of the American way of life. Their ownership is protected by our Constitution, their safe and responsible use is encouraged by countless thousands of conservative parents, and their presence–in the hands of well-trained civilians who know where and how to use them–is part of the reason my home town has a relatively low crime rate. Yes, evil men use them to commit evil deeds…but good men use them just as often to¬†prevent¬†evil deeds. In a gun-crime situation, the problem isn’t the gun…it’s the man behind the gun.”

“That’s the central message behind our stance on weapons and the Second Amendment.”

Text for this article is taken from interviews with the gentlemen listed and is the ¬†proprietary intellectual property of¬†Excogitatoris Scribens‚ĄĘ.

Excog Profile Pic

(graphic credit)

© 2013, all rights reserved according to the copyright policy of The Southern Voice.

Friedman: Greed, the Free Market, and the Constitution

Having recently finished the excellent book, Capitalism and Freedom, by Milton Friedman (and at the further urging of a good friend), I was spurred by my insatiable curiosity to hunt up more of what Friedman had to say. In the course of obeying this impulsion,¬†I found this video on YouTube of the late Dr. Milton Friedman answering the three-part question of an espousee of the progressive mindset. Very informative, and I thoroughly agree with the title: Friedman does indeed crush this man’s doubtful disputation with the facts.

Incidentally, near the end–where he speaks about using the Constitution to control the government–is particularly telling.

And this video, though brief, demonstrates Friedman’s ability to totally disarm an opponent’s entire method of attack by addressing, in a series of questions, the inconsistencies in the underlying ideology. Also notice how he turns the very same questions the host asked around and requires him to answer them (or try to do so). This is from an interview on Phil Donahue’s show, from 1979. Fascinating!

An Invitation: Get the Facts, Join the Debate

Have you ever visited Townhall.com? This liberty-minded website carries articles by many well-educated and articulate authors whose views are the exact opposite of many in the mainstream media. And yes, for you conservatives who are convinced that such a person cannot exist, they do, and their numbers are surprisingly high.

If your primary source of news is the television, reading the articles on this site may be quite a shock to your system that’s been acclimatized to the bias and spin the major networks put on their stories; therefore, I recommend that you consider easing into this new routine. Read an article or two a day as a beginning. After a week or two, increase your intake to four or five. After a month, go to ten if you have time. After a couple months, consider signing up for the Townhall Daily email, which will deliver ten to fifteen columns on subjects you specify.

You may have to step out of your comfort zone to begin this process of considering alternative views. Will it be easy? No, probably not. Listening to those who disagree with us on points of opinion is always hard. I’ve addressed people with whom I come in contact on this issue for nearly two years now, and I still struggle to allow someone who disagrees with me have their say in a debate. Reason tells me, however, that doing this is the only way to engage someone in a rational debate and have a chance of changing their mind.

The truth is, while some seem to think that everyone is as set in their ways and opinions as they are, many people haven’t given some of these topics a whole lot of thought. To be successful in engaging and winning over the culture, we must go out and kindly encourage people to consider both sides of an issue before coming to a conclusion.

I’d like to recommend one article as a jumping-off point. Larry Elder has written “‘Gun Culture’ — What About the ‘Fatherless Culture?’” This extremely insightful article that delves past the surface and addresses one of the major issues of American society, and is an example¬†par excellence of the rational and thoughtful analysis behind the columns on this site.

So, my fellow Americans (undecideds, moderates, and liberals alike), let me invite you to consider another point of view: the logical view.¬†Visit Townhall.com today, and let’s begin a journey toward rational, reasoned, logical thought and debate.

I’ve already stepped out on this path…will you join me?