Tag Archives: thoughts on life

Why We Should Think for Ourselves

Why We Should Think for Ourselves.

Since the inception of this blog, I have asserted that independent thinking and action is one of the most important facets of our humanity, and one of the defining functions of personality. This is because I understand a very old (and yet very true) adage that states that “….the best ideas are common property.” Stated another way, the best principles/maxims/rules of living are understood by a great number of people, and not by a select few (those in today’s society who consider themselves the “elite,” or the so-called “intelligentsia”). Of course, in today’s America, the exact opposite is the prevailing vision, and teaching in modern schools and universities reflects this to a great extent.

It is thus refreshing to see a real-life experience–a direct antithesis to the prevailing vision–documented that proves (yet again) the truth of this ancient maxim.

The best ideas truly are common property–common property of strong-minded individuals who understand the power of independent thinking and action.

Where, Oh Where Has “The Southern Voice” Gone?

For several weeks, I’ve been hearing from followers on both WordPress and Facebook, wondering where in the world I’ve been, and why I haven’t been blogging more often. I would like to take a moment to update all my followers with a long-overdue status update and outlook for the blog.

Most of the folks who follow this blog have been with me long enough to know that I’ve been in school on and off since the end of 2008. This past semester proved to be the busiest yet, with a full class load and a full-time job for the last month and a half of the semester. Nothing new for a self-financed college student, but this semester has been different.

The truth is, Facebook followers of The Southern Voice have an advantage over those who stick to WordPress. They’re in on the secret. And it’s a good one. That’s why I’m grinning like the cat that ate the canary.

Grinning like the cat that ate the canary

Grinning like the cat that ate the canary

There are many things that are cause for rejoicing. In the last year, I’ve gone from being unemployed, limping on a strained ankle, and without transportation to unrestricted ambulation (a medical professional’s term for walking normally, lol), owning a dependable, fuel-efficient vehicle, and working, not one, but two jobs.

But that’s not all.

After breaking my hip last June, I had to drop out of two summer courses at the school where I was enrolled. During the six months that followed, I spent a large amount of time reading, thinking, and pondering the ins and outs of life. It was during this time that a great number of this site’s post were written, including the series entitled, A Refreshing Pause. Instead of going off to Kings Point, New York, as planned, I stayed home, found work, and went back to school during the spring semester of 2013.

There are times in life when time seems to stand still, and nothing seems to be happening. The most amazing part of it is that these times are almost always directly followed by a time when life accelerates to a fever pitch, and everything begins to happen at once.

At the beginning of the semester, I re-enrolled in the math course I had been forced to drop, determined to follow through and finish the job this time. After sitting through the now-familiar orientation class period, I lit into the coursework with a vengeance. This time, I vowed, I would track the math down and kill it.

Okay, I’m becoming overzealous with my metaphors. Moving on…

I couldn’t help but notice that one of the tutors was a young lady about my age, but at first, I really didn’t think too much about that. I was fairly sure that she had a person of interest in her life, and I was preoccupied with school anyway, determined not to get distracted from my goal of finishing the educational course.

However, after two or three weeks in class, I began to notice that the young lady in question was not attached to anyone, as it were. Still determined to stay focused, I merely noted that fact and went on about my business. I could never have expected what happened next.

About two weeks after school started, I went into the math lab early to make up time for an absence. As I was sitting at the desk, with my nose in a book, I couldn’t help but overhear this girl telling another tutor about a “stalker dude” that was giving her trouble.

This “stalker dude” (he shall remain nameless, to protect the guilty) was nearly twice her age, and making all sorts of stupid comments, such that Hannah was feeling quite uncomfortable–indeed, threatened–while at her workplace.

At this point, I knew that I should do what I could to help, even if we never became more than acquaintances.

Having determined to do something, I “happened” to encounter Hannah in the hall later that evening. After a few nondescript pleasantries, I observed, “It sounds like you’ve had a rough day in the math lab today.” Her face fell. “Every day’s a rough day,” she said despondently. “I feel like I’m doing something wrong to draw that much attention to myself.”

(I should mention here that Hannah never did anything indiscreet that would have drawn attention to herself, and was always professional and modest, both in demeanor and attire.)

“No, not at all,” I told her, “It’s guys like that that are the problem. They paint targets on whoever they want.” She brightened a bit as she looked at me and asked, “Do you really think so?” I nodded, adding without hesitation, “I’m a guy, so you can take it from me: you are not doing anything to attract undue attention to yourself. Ok?” She nodded, and a smile crept onto her face as she answered, “Okay.” Then, just as suddenly, her face fell again. “That still doesn’t solve my problem…”

I nodded. “I know.” I knew that now was my only chance to take the plunge, so I drew a deep breath and bailed off, “If you want, I can walk you out to your car after work tonight.”

Her eyes widened; clearly, she was surprised I would even offer. “Really? That would be great!” “All right,” I said, “It’s settled then.”

If you have stuck it out thus far, thanks for your patience. I’ll move more quickly now.

Since my math class was the last one on the schedule for the two nights I was there, it fell perfectly into both our routines for me to escort Miss Hannah to her car, and for a week or two, that was the extent of our contact with one another. As time went on, we began to spend a few minutes together before my class (it just so happened that was when her break fell in the schedule). One day, about three weeks after we had begun talking to one another, her father and brothers walked into the hall where we were talking. They said they had come to “talk to” the other fellow, the one who was bothering their daughter/sister, but Hannah later told me they had come to meet me, too.

I don’t remember much of what we said that night, but for some reason, her dad took a liking to me, and told Hannah that if it worked out that we became more than friends, that was fine with him.

That was nearly seven months ago. Not only is she my best friend, but she is the one person in the world I feel like I couldn’t live without.

Hannah and Me

Hannah and Me

Today, I am thankful for the way that the Lord worked in my life, orchestrating circumstances and locations so that I would meet Hannah just when I did, and be in the frame of mind that I was when I met her. Although I didn’t set out to find a “person of interest,” I firmly believe that the Lord moves people as He sees fit, and that He had more than just a wonderful friendship in mind for the two of us, long before last semester.

All that being said, where does that leave The Southern Voice? Well, there are other things afoot. My work situation is still in a bit of a flux, so I’m sometimes pressed to find time to post. At the moment, however, it looks like I’ll be able to post at least once a week. As time permits, I’ll continue to post on a more regular basis.

I would like to conclude this rather lengthy post by thanking my readers who have stuck with me throughout the course of the last year, through both showers and droughts of writing. It is your patronage that encourages the heart of this writer, and helps to motivate him to write posts for your reading enjoyment and mental provocation (After all, one of the things I strive to do is stimulate thoughtful contemplation of life.). Although I enjoy writing for writing’s sake, it is even more enjoyable to know that other people are reading what I write, and enjoying–and perhaps profiting–from what I have written.

Here’s to many more years of blogging together! Long may reading–and writing–continue in this forum!

For writing’s sake,

David

The (Happily Taken) Southern Voice Writer

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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?

Can’t Sleep? Post…

Yes, it’s true. Time Change Sunday caught me prepared for a change…don’t everybody fall over dead at once, now. Instead of feeling dead to the world, tired, and ready for a good night’s sleep, I’m wide awake and suffering a mild case of insomnia. 😛

So, not wanting this time to be a complete waste I hop on the ‘net and find…..

A refreshing dose of sanity.

South Dakota is now my favorite state. Well, almost. NC is still my favorite.

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Go on…you know you want to…

Oh, and by the way, South Dakota Legislature? I came up with the idea.

Now, about those royalties….

That's right. I'm gonna ". . . make you an offer [you] can't refuse."

That’s right. I’m gonna “. . . make you an offer [you] can’t refuse.”

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?

Post-Sequester Whiplash

The sequester has taken effect, and the President continues to pitch a fit. According to a recent article, the White House will cease all tours after this week, citing the sequester as the reason for the cutback.

whitehouse_exterior_030413.jpg

Well, no tour for the kiddos this spring break….

Oh, please.

You can’t find any better way to deal with the situation? As the author of the above-referenced article correctly states, this brings to mind petty and childish behavior (“I’m gonna take my ball and go home.”). Instead of causing “alarm to the children” by closing the White House right before spring break, why not do something meaningful to help save the money the sequester is supposed to take out of the budget? Something like–oh, I don’t know–cut out a few rounds of golf? Or drop one of those garishly expensive vacations from the Imperial schedule? (Ahem! excuse me, the Presidential schedule.)

"If we're not playing my way, I don't wanna play at all!!"

“If we’re not playing my way, I don’t wanna play at all!!”

And as for the closure causing alarm to the children: really now? Because a few kids will have their feelings hurt because their every whim isn’t granted this spring break, we’re supposed to cave on fiscal responsibility and do away with this drop in the bucket of a cut to the projected spending increase?

What the sequester really looks like. Notice that the cuts don't even change the slope of the line.

What the sequester really looks like. Notice that the cuts don’t even change the slope of the line.

Mr. and Ms. Plutocrats of the Potomac, y’all remember something: you work for me. And your constituents. And we have a new order of operation for y’all:

Give us a break . . . We’re not as dumb as you think we are.

Here’s what the politicians have been screaming would happen if the sequester took effect: riots in the streets. Millions without proper food as meat spoiled for lack of USDA inspectors to verify its quality. Hundreds of thousands realizing that their children would not receive as much help at school as thousands of teachers would be laid off. Tens of thousands of first responders (police officers, paramedics, and firefighters) laid off, resulting in less effective crime control, accident response, and fire-fighting capabilities.

In short, the end of the world. Total chaos. Widespread panic.

I see dead people....walking!

I see dead people….walking!

Thousands rushed to the stores to stock up on bread, milk, eggs, meat, frozen goods, and tofu. The manufacturers of these commodities smiled and raked in the cash, silently thanking the Good Lord above for Obama’s imbecilic and childish portrayal of the sequester as the end of the world, laughing in their sleeves as they collected from the people foolish enough to buy into the hype.

You’ve heard of post-Christmas syndrome (when someone goes on a credit card binge and then gets the bill in January: “I spent HOW MUCH?!?!?”)? Well, there’s a new post- syndrome in town:

Post-sequester syndrome.

depressed

Good thing you bought six months’ worth of groceries, bro…

For those of you who may know someone suffering with this painful condition, remember: gentle compassion is the best antidote. Try to put yourself in the person’s shoes, see how the “extremely persuasive” rhetoric could have induced the panic, and sympathize with them as much as possible. I sure hope you’re not reading this post while you’re near them:

You need to do your laughing in private. Okay?

Here’s to surviving yet another crisis!

2012-06-09-Sky-is-falling

Uh-duh!

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. 😉

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.