Saturday, March 02, 2019

The Inaccuracy of the Right Wing/Left Wing Paradigm

The labeling of conservatives as "right wing" in America is a deliberate attempt to attach fascism to the modern American freedom movement.  It is a cynical attempt to affix a swastika to shirts worn by people who have spent lifetimes trying to defeat the tyranny of either a fascist or communist state.  It is the simplistic method through which a freedom warrior like Jordan Peterson, a guy who despises all forms of authoritarian government, can be gleefully mislabeled a fascist.

Don't accept it. 

As American (or western) conservatives, that is, as people who yearn for a small republican state answerable to the very people who give it its limited powers, we find ourselves in direct conflict with both ends of the European right wing/left wing paradigm.  Even though we despise all forms of socialism whether it is administered by totalitarian communists or authoritarian fascists, we get thrown in with evil tyrants like Hitler and Goebbels and that little dweeb from Italy.

The right wing/left wing pole in European history places communism on the extreme left and fascism on the extreme right.  This is a natural comparison in that for most of the past 100 years on that continent (and beyond) there has been a brutal battle between these two authoritarian models.  The communists want control of means of production through government or collectivist means while the fascists want the means of production to be controlled top-down through a government/corporate partnership. 

In either of these brutal movements the individual is sacrificed to groups of ever greater power with ever shrinking accountability.

But, while that conflict is also present in America where the KKK might clash with antifa, the KKK is not an American conservative movement, and as such is not a legitimate member of the right wing outside of a European comparison.

But where on this European right wing/left wing yardstick can you place someone who believes in a small republican government?  You cannot.  Its like trying to place a mammal somewhere on the amphibian scale between frog and salamander.

While most conservatives know this distinction, many on the left are so progressively indoctrinated that they have never even considered that there is a difference and many others actually believe that right wing conservatives are the same fascists of old, hunkered down in their bunkers beneath the bombed ruins of Berlin.

We are not.  We never have been.  We will never be. 

We believe in small government.  We believe that by the virtue of our natural being we are provided with natural rights that are not bestowed on us by a benevolent state.  We believe in private property rights and that the individual is sovereign.  None of these notions, notions that are at the very core of our belief system, are considered legitimate by authoritarian governments whether they are of fascist or communist or any other top down socialist ideology.

Point this out the next time some intersectional postmodernist calls you a right winger and hints that deep inside you is a latent fascist waiting to put on jack boots and a brown shirt.  Point out that you do not accept this narrative.

If they insist they will expose themselves for the liars and hopeless losers that they are.  And lets be honest, it is not the first time you have witnessed them acting foolishly.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Before There was a Green New Deal, Detroit had its Own Green New Deal

Ten years ago, long before there was a Green New Deal on the tongues and in the minds of impertinent school kids who would later accost Dianne Feinstein in her Senate office, there was a celebration of sorts in Detroit over the city's success in limiting its own carbon footprint.

A study that I wrote about at the time by the Brooking's Institute indicated that Detroit rated 37th best among America's largest cities in green house gas emissions.  It was a small silver lining behind a large rain cloud. 
The Detroit area did surprisingly well in a 100-city comparison of global warming gases, although it's not clear how much of that standing reflects economic doldrums and an increasingly older mix of residents in a place where the population is not growing. By most measures, including the degree of sprawl and lack of mass transit, metro Detroit hardly seems like a candidate for a city with a lighter carbon footprint than most.
It did "surprisingly well." I think a walk down memory lane might be useful here. 

In 2008 Detroit was not a vibrant place to do business.   Many large employers had already left the city and a few of those remaining were on the brink of exodus.   Factories closed, the epicenter of American automobile manufacturing had shifted southward and, while the Detroit Lions and Detroit Tigers had made major investments in the midtown area, most major area commerce, as a general rule, took place outside of Detroit in counties to the north and west. 

And the population of Detroit in particular and Michigan as a whole was shrinking.  According to the US Census Bureau the city lost over 200,000 residents in the years 2000-10.   Most of these folks wound up in suburbia but the state over the same time period lost over 50,000 residents, the only recorded decade of population loss in Michigan's history.  (Around here we like to call this the Jennifer Granholm effect.)

Detroit city schools were crumbling both physically and academically.  Parents, not wanting to see their children raised in the octagon, grabbed their kids and took them across 8 Mile.  (If you want to see a city's population shrink make sure a cornerstone of your strategy includes exposing the children to the dangers of violence, drugs and a disruptive learning environment.)  A child who entered the first grade in Detroit in the year 1996 had approximately a 30 percent chance of graduating in 2008, and those that did graduate were most likely in need of jump start courses if interested in college.

So people left.  They left in cars and in moving vans. For sale signs first dotted and then dominated the landscapes.  Houses went feral.  Sidewalks and side streets crumbled.  Street lights went dark.

The good news, we were told in 2008, was the smaller carbon footprint.

But maybe this is not so surprising after all. 

Carbon footprints are to a great degree a measurement of economic activity.  Fossil fuels, the major culprit in global climate change, is still inarguably the least expensive and most efficient energy source on the planet.  Wherever people live, wherever they congregate, wherever they travel, and wherever they produce, they consume energy and today that means they create carbon emissions.

The Green New Deal largely tries to combat these emissions by shifting away from fossil fuels and by choking off energy usage that benevolent (and all-knowing) bureaucrats feel is unnecessary. So, shut down the coal plant, erect some windmills and get granny to turn her thermostat down to 63 degrees. 

And yet, a growing and robust economy jumps existential hurdles as a matter of due course.  The wealth created by charging economies fuels solutions to problems that appeared almost insurmountable to those who previously lived in periods of crises.

A poor world cannot.

A poor world could not cure the plague.  It could not feed the starving.  It could not reliably raise its children into adulthood.  It could not tell the people of Galveston to flee the hurricane, and today's world, as wealthy as it is, cannot currently alter the carbon trajectory of this planet. 

But a more wealthy world, given time and motivation, could. 

And this is where the Green New Deal, for all its rose petals and sprinkles of promise, will fail.  For in its economy crippling efforts to combat a problem for which it cannot solve, it will crush the only mechanism on Earth that could possibly provide a solution in the future, that being the American free market.

The ballpark price tag for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal is on the order of $90 trillion dollars over the next ten years.  We don't have that much cabbage.

According to the St. Louis Federal Reserve, the GDP of Michigan in 2017 was approximately $509 billion.  (I made about half of that mowing lawns.)  In order to fund the Green New Deal it would take confiscating every cent of GDP in Michigan that year and then borrowing another 175 times that much from Al Gore.

Which brings me back to Detroit and 2008.

The most effective current way to control carbon emissions is to debilitate a society.  Detroit proved that.  Strip from its people the need to move, to congregate, to recreate and to reproduce.  Close the shutters and lock the doors.  While it was effective it was a pretty big price to pay for a society that for the first time in history had solved existential crises of disease, pestilence, hunger and conflict. 

The Green New Deal authors do not consider that they will separate man from his carbon by also separating him from his wealth.  Their minds are too deeply wrapped around setting up roadblocks and forcing behavior changes than to think about what the effects of these changes will have on the affected.  Then again, those "in charge" never have to suffer as perilously as those who actually live on the front lines of policy.

But today's Detroit is not in 2008.
The city is experiencing a stunning rebirth due to new business investment.  While the tendrils of this economic expansion have yet to reach every downtrodden neighborhood, work is now available in the city for nearly anyone who is willing to strap on a hardhat or swing a hammer.  We can predict that carbon emissions will rise with such growth but so will wealth.

The future technologies that a wealthy society can create will answer the daunting questions of today such as climate change and a mousetrap I can depend on, and will provide answers for crises of the future that we cannot yet envision.

Wealth in the hands of inventors and innovators will solve our problems.  The GND will make the ultimate solution impossible. 

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Value of Familial Political Discussions

After the dinner dishes had been cleared the family did what it always does during and after such events, it talked.  And while the poltergeists typically take the night off when we gather as such, on this night there was mischief in the air as images of an orange complected man swirled about the room and hovered for tense moments above that same space that just minutes before had been occupied by pizza and crisp, delicious salads.

We have been warned to avoid such topics for the sake of our mental health, for there is something about that particular orange specter that coaxes out of the best of us the worst of our natures.

Numerous articles are written prior to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays on how families should either avoid all such discussions or, conversely, can use the holidays as platforms to convince others of their transgressions and thought crimes.  Chapters of psychology books could easily be dedicated to either of these dysfunctions.

And so it was that warnings went unheeded and territory best left unexplored was invaded, first haltingly, and then in a stampede of words and emotions and histrionics that would make the press jealous were it aimed at a staged Windy City hate crime.

I've been thinking about this for the past few days.

I have historically been an advocate of avoiding these conversations altogether but I might become a supporter of these potential food fights even if we could gain something for a a reason other than the convincing of others. 

The importance of these discussions to an unraveling nation is not in the evangelism itself but in the context of that evangelism and that it takes place within the comfort of familiarity and acceptance.  When the dust and spittle settles we should be able to recognize that there are good and decent people on both sides of every argument (except the alt-right and hardened abortion advocates--they suck and should eat outside.)

Where else can we realistically and confidently be exposed to this evidence?

Outside of the family unit and the civil society it is almost impossible because we have to know people with some certainty before we can discern their character. At a distance this is not always possible.  An example is the talking head on television than can portray his decency and wisdom with measured words without any of his dedicated viewers knowing that he has installed a remote locking mechanism on his office door in a scheme to trap potential harassment victims inside the lair.

As such we put too much confidence in unknown professionals with advance degrees in influence and indoctrination while discounting those we know more closely.  It is only after we learn that the kind newsman on the tube is actually a sexual predator that we can give his opinions a worthy trust.

I'm not saying that Aunt Alice is a foreign policy expert or that Cousin Billy III has studied climate science.  What I am saying is that Alice and Billy(3) represent to us people in the flesh who we know to be decent people and whose characters cannot be dismissed or besmirched as evil because of their viewpoint on Al Gore's carbon footprint.

Their history of caring over skinned knees and bruised egos is more important than any political opinion on topics over which they have very little influence or experience. And yet they know at least as much as you or I do. What should shine through is the decency of those we know and love.

In an age where the family unit is ever more attacked and where politics is becoming ever more divisive, the family is ever more important for the glue it provides. The family proves to us that familiarity can transcend the division of politics and that forceful opinions, while often times delivered without the politeness we intend, do not place a value on our souls. 

Prior to the reign of King Donald most families across America were able to scoop peas and mashed potatoes into gaping maws without having to worry overmuch about them being coughed up again in a gale of political indignation and grievance.

Though the age has changed and the atmosphere is less temperate than it used to be, we should try to understand that those with differing political opinions are not by default the Hitlers of old. 

If the family and civil society can not accomplish this than nothing can.  And if nothing can accomplish it there are truly rough waters ahead. 

Monday, November 19, 2018

An Effort in Civility

The dust is still unsettled after our most recent election.  Several races have flip-flopped since election night and several more hang in the balance pending almost certain litigation or manual recounts.  Rarely do these flip-flops end in the favor of the GOP or conservatives
but we'll take Florida and Mia Love.

GOP loyalists in general and conservatives in particular should not be happy with the overall results, not only of this election but also with the successes of the past two years.  By historic standards the midterms were not disastrous but, oh, what could have been.

Those two years of unshared government control by the GOP have produced some benefits in certain specific areas, but overall they also contained real disappointment as the tag-team of Democrat Party operatives and never Trumpers thwarted much of what the once conservative party could have achieved had it not been fractured.

Key to this, of course, is that the now-standard bearer of the GOP is not a consistent conservative despite his occasional dabblings. 

I understand the never Trump movement. When the crowded GOP field contained 18 different candidates I figured Trump was about my 14th choice.  At that point he was bristling and bombastic and, well, very Trump like.  But, who among us took Trump the man seriously enough to take Trump the candidate seriously?

Not me.

But, as people on that long list of candidates fell aside week after week and the cream finally rose to the top, that cream turned out to be Donald Trump, John Kasich and Ted Cruz.  It was a three legged stool with three cracked legs.

Each of the three candidates was at least mildly appalled by the other two.  Kasich because he governed like a Democrat with his medicaid expansion and big government top-down expansionism.  Cruz because he appeared to be a quasi-plastic mannequin on those rare moments when he didn't appear to be a robot, and Trump because of, well, Trump. 

Most conservatives supported Cruz, as did I, while Trump gathered the populists and Kasich collected his closest relatives and those with low self esteem. In the aftermath Cruz and Trump established a rather fragile truce while Kasich and both of his supporters grabbed their toys and went home crying.

Those three men loosely represent the largest factions of the GOP.  The never Trumper establishment (Kasich) the conservatives (Cruz) and the Trump worshipers (guess who.) There is a fair amount of crossover particularly among the establishment and conservative never Trumpers.

Within the GOP, Trump's personality, his confrontational style and his inability to ever let an insult go unchallenged have poisoned him to many who could have accepted him if he were more unlike himself.  They would never and will never vote for Trump.  They would rather see Hillary in office than be associated with a bloviating Mr. President.  

But I'm not concerned with the 40 percent of Americans who get all their news through NPR and Jim Acosta. These people already worship the holy state and pray toward DC several times a day.  Conversely nothing short of a good pesticide will ever be able to pry Trump's most adoring fans from his train.

There are those though, who were in the 2016 never Trumper movement that were more than willing to assess Trump's first few years in office before reconsidering a vote for him in a next presidential election. They find Trump distasteful for many of the reasons already mentioned, but they were willing to hear him out.  This is the group that Trump needs to attract into his corner and it is among this group that he has failed the most miserably.  Getting these people on board should have been easy but within Trump's personality is its own self-contained bumper car pavilion. 

This is the middle 20 percent where Trump needs to aim his attention and it is here where his performance has been most disappointing.  There have been times when Trump's approval ratings have inched their way up to the fifty percent mark.  And then, shortly after climbing to the pinnacle, Trump suffers a self-inflicted bite mark that leaves him limping.

When it gets right down to it, that middle 20 percent is the most fickle.  Individually they are looking for specific reasons to support or to withhold support from the governing party.  And while they are willing to grimace and take sides with a president whose policies they largely agree with, they are not so willing to take sides with the most powerful person on the planet who decides to be a bully.  

This group was never likely to switch sides and make a revenge vote, but they were (and are) likely to stay home or vote third party.

And that is really the problem with the bullies I've known my whole life.  Its not that it isn't nice to have one in your corner when you're under attack, it is, because of their overarching needs to be in control rather than to be principled, that they cannot be trusted for their judgment.  

Try following that guy into battle.

As a Trump voter who is thankful that Trump's administration has not been nearly as bad as I feared it might be, I wish he was a better man.  Hey, I wish he would just go through the effort of trying to appear as if he is a better man.  

There are times when I think he wants to do that.  He has tweeted that Nancy Pelosi deserves to be House majority leader.  He complimented losing midterm democrat candidates for fine campaigns.  We all know these are contrived efforts, but they are efforts, and that is what most people want to see from the man.  


Effort to be civil.  Effort to be self-controlled.  Effort to be understanding.  Above all, effort to be presidential.

We've all been in those situations where, when we were attacked, our first instinct was to call our attacker a horse face or to tell the former POW, a man that sacrificed years of freedom and significant body function for his country, that he shouldn't have been captured in the first place.  

Most of us don't do this because we abide by a code of conduct.  This does not mean that we aren't tempted to be a jerk, only that on occasion we give in to base instincts.  But, in moments of failure, we apologize and try to do better next time.  If we, the common man can expect to control ourselves in these common situations, why cannot the man elevated to high office?

It is a good question, one that the middle 20 percent of the voting public will have to answer.   

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Trump: A Transitory President

There are two types of people in this world, those who have strong opinions on Donald Trump and zombies.  I am among the living. 

I am also a conservative who stopped voting in primary elections because I find most Democrats are outright socialists and most Republicans are strong warriors for conservative principles right up until the second they are elected.

I was a very reluctant Trump voter.  I changed my mind several times during the process but in the end I voted Orange over a write-in.

I voted for Trump because my badly bruised ego had (mostly) healed from all the verbal beatings he launched against Ted Cruz, Ted's wife, Ted's father, Ted's heritage, Ted's looks and Ted's personality. I also hoped that somewhere deep within a Trump administration there might be a lonely conservative that could rage against the machine.

By my way of thinking, a conservative had no positive reason to vote for Trump unless you consider voting against Hillary a positive reason.  He had no firm political record and only celebrity level musings on the issues of the day.  He had a lifetime of membership in the Democrat Party.  He was boorish, mean spirited, thin skinned and untrustworthy.  He and the truth had never been captured in the same photograph.

So, with gnashed teeth and a quick prayer for forgiveness, I blackened in the Republican circle.

Now we are a full congressional election cycle into his term and the White House staff seems to be in chaos, the press is absolute toxic in its coverage of him, Code Pink will be sending an Arizona senator to congress, postmodernists made gains in the House of Representatives, and rumors are that Trump is skulking about the West Wing like a kid kept in from recess.

Oh, and then there is his Twitter account which, it appears to me, makes a cell-phone in his possession at least as dangerous as the nuclear launch codes.

It is hard to take a seemingly objective conservative look at this president when he sits in swirls of both earned and contrived controversy and in multiple layers of both honest and idolatrous praise.  Somewhere in between the heavy petting and the poisonous vitriol there lies a more honest assessment of the man and his position in the GOP.

Here is mine.

If nothing else is evident, Trump has demonstrated to his fellow Republicans that spinal constitution can lead to victories on policy.  Democrats have known this all along but the deeply entrenched self-loathing GOP only elevates members into leadership when they've earned advanced degrees in the Capitulatory Sciences. 

We heard it from minority house members that they needed a majority before they could do what they wanted to do.  They were given that majority.  Then they protested that they needed a Senate majority to do what they wanted to do.  They were given that majority.  Then they whimpered that they needed to have the White House before they could do what they wanted to do.  When gifted with a Republican in the White House, self-loathing GOP office holders found the atmosphere to be too toxic to provide what they promised.  

Trump was not to be stalled.  

No other GOP president would have achieved tax cuts.  No other GOP president would have pulled out of the Paris climate farce.  No other GOP president would have moved the US embassy to Jerusalem.  No other GOP president would have jettisoned NAFTA (a mistake) and would have engaged in a global trade war (another mistake.)  

On and on it goes.

Yet, Trump is a fighter even in situations where he looks ridiculous.  He tries to stick to his public word even when video tape provides conclusive evidence that he's lying through his teeth.  He makes no apologies when he should be begging forgiveness.  He leaves no perceived slight unanswered.  One wonders what level tirade results on those late evenings in the Executive Residence when he has trouble slipping on a pajama shirt. 

Trump isn't just a mixed bag.  He's a multi-colored bag overstuffed with mixed bags. 

After two years of observation I believe his character flaws are worse than I thought they were on Election Day, but I find that his administration has pursued many more conservative policies than I thought would ever be possible.  My facial expression here could be described as a grimacing smile.

My hope is that Donald Trump is a transitional president for the GOP, one that bridges the gap between an establishment party that is not so dedicated to its professed principles as to actually pursue them once elected, and a party that has learned a lesson from the recent midterm losses--that character, words, honesty, temperament and founding principles have impact.

You don't have to be a jerk to stand up for yourself.  (This is not to be confused with not standing up for yourself at all as was George W. Bush's wont.)   

Unfortunately, being succinctly Trump means needlessly picking on people who are sometimes innocent, defenseless, sympathetic or all three.  This is behavior that cannot be excused when children do it, and a grown President of the United States should damn well refrain from it too.

The lesson of Trump for a conservative party is that the path ahead is rather straight and narrow but decidedly uphill.  The principles are already very well defined.  The individual is sovereign.  The powers of government are limited.  Our rights come to us from a higher order.  We are a nation of laws.  These conservative principles resonate with a sizable portion of the people and should be respected.

It’s going to take a future GOP candidate who is willing to stay on the principled road who also has the strength to push uphill.  

Trump has displayed to us a willingness to fight for what he believes in even if not the proper tactics for that fight.  That, if possessed by a virtuous candidate bent upon conservative ideals, would be a person worth voting for. 

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Wealth and Hurricanes

It was good news to hear that the Bransons were able to ride out hurricane Irma with neither injuries nor loss of life.  They survived the maelstrom by hunkering down in the family wine cellar surrounded by their Boone's Farm and MD 2020 collections.

Wealth can do that for you.

It can provide access to not only the private tropical locations that most of us can only dream about but also, in the event of an anthropologically caused climate warming event, can provide an alcohol stocked club house from which to experience the challenge.  Juan and Francoise, unfortunately living in poverty along the northern coast of Hispaniola, will spend their day clinging to a palm tree.

That is the way of the world.  Wealth enhances life while poverty lays bare its fragility.

From the Branson subterranean compound, billionaire Richard Branson's son Sam tweeted out his thankfulness for survival but also cautioned the world that it must tackle the issue of global climate change.

It is a lofty goal to be sure and many people on Earth, and perhaps an even higher percentage of the wealthy certainly counting among them the Bransons, are highly motivated to make the change.   Fossil fuels and their spewing of carbon are the targets for most of these concerns.   As a result the entire ethanol industry has been born, refinery development has been all but stopped, pipelines carrying the fuels are protested, delayed and cancelled, drilling moratoriums are put in place, punitive taxes are put in place, the evolving coal industry is shuttered in many places, all the while alternative methods of energy are being explored...which might bring us right around to ethanol again.

The designs of all of these programs is to do one thing...raise the cost of energy consumption.

As it was explained to us by President Barack Obama, "energy costs must necessarily skyrocket."  As Hillary Clinton explained during her hapless limp toward the highest office in the land, she wanted to bankrupt the coal industry.

Of course these are negative things to those who work in the coal mines, but they also have negative impacts on the users of electricity and, gasp, this includes most people who cannot afford to buy their own private islands.

Richard Branson is the kind of guy I admire for the most part.  His vision has provided tens of thousands of jobs and paid million and tens of millions of dollars in taxes.   He is not an enemy of the poor, or shouldn't be, because the wealth he has generated has paved the way for a better life for many of those who don't even know who he is.

To a point.  

However, when the Richard Branson family attempts to increase the costs of energy consumption it also without exception retards the ability of millions of those less fortunate to generate the wealth that they will need in the future to do such things as pay electric bills, generate wealth, and hopefully someday, buy private islands.  

Al Gore, owner of multiple private estates, charterer of private jets, producer of motion pictures, and perhaps the foremost proponent of AGW science, declares himself to be carbon neutral because of the carbon credits he routinely purchases.  I can't help but ask myself "wouldn't he be carbon negative if he just bought a bunch of carbon credits and left his bug butt at home?"  Maybe if he would try to be a positive influence instead of bragging about his neutrality he'd cut a more sympathetic pose.

A buddy of mine, an embracer of Al Gore's reasoning, was adamant that the wealthy can afford to pay the price necessary to make the energy switch over.  One wonders (or I did) which rich person is going to step up to the gas pump and pay the $100 it takes to fill up his truck when gas goes to $5 per gallon?   Perhaps it is Al Gore himself, or might have been before he blew his budget on all the carbon credits.  Current global warming theorists demand a reduction in energy consumption and the only way to force that result is by making that consumption punitive to every person pulling up to the gas pump.

When energy consumption falls, as it always does when prices get high, more than just gas purchases wane.   Fewer road trips are taken, fewer restaurants are visited, fewer hotel rooms are booked, fewer automobiles are purchased.   Too, fewer people work in those industries.  And then the industries that rely on those industries show weakness.  (Of course the oil companies, the number one targets of AGW warriors, get accused of gouging.)

There is no efficient way to produce wealth without readily attainable energy, and there is no more efficient energy source today than carbon based fuels.  That does not mean it will not change in the future, but these changes can only be financed by societies with sufficient capital to bridge that gap with discoveries that are yet on the horizon or beyond.  Capital, incidentally, that will get sucked out of the economy if AGW believers have their say.

More and more it appears to me as if today's climate science favors those like the Bransons while turning its back on the Francoises and Juans. Sam Branson has nothing to apologize for when it comes to his billionaire family status.

It is AGW theorists who are willing to deny wealth to those clinging to palm trees during hurricanes that should apologize.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Driver's Licenses: A Progression

Does a driver's license have more than one purpose?

Certainly a license, issued by the state and earned by a driver proves that the holder has passed all the requirements to drive a vehicle in the state in which it was issued.  Endorsements on that license help to prove the holder's qualifications for operating different kinds of vehicles, their ability to haul cargo, and their capacity to understand all the applicable rules.

Too, the license helps to substantiate the holder's identity should he want to prove his legal age to purchase alcohol, enroll at a college, write an out of town check, or buy a casino's buffet with valuable earned credits!   (Of course, to prove a voter's identity with a driver's license would be too discriminatory.  Let's not go there.)

Driver's licenses also help to identify unconscious and deceased accident victims while indicating too their organ donor status. 

The purpose then, for the driver's license, is multifold.  None of the purposes of the driver's license have ever been arbitrary, though now its usage is beginning to waver on that front.

The People's State of California is considering a change to their driver's licenses that would include an X as a sex indicator.  This is one of the first of many steps being taken today to blur the definition of  the sex that was "assigned" at birth by God and that pesky swirl of chromosomes that make up our being.

Thankfully most identification cards eschew color photos of our junk and a person's sex is taken at the word of the holder.  However, when it comes to identifying the body of a person badly injured in an accident, in the absence of a junk shot, paramedics might have to rely on something a little more concrete than the fluidity of gender choice.

It is true also that in the years that elapse between the times that a driver's license picture is taken a person's looks can change.  Glasses are changed or discarded, hair color and length (and thickness in my case) change, older people shrink, and everybody lies on their weight anyway.   The blond haired, blue eyed, physically fit devil portrayed in the photo might actually look, well, a lot more like me when current events are taken into consideration.  (My junk is still M.)

The natural progression at play here makes identification potentially misleading in many situations and without purpose. 

In a woefully inadequate speech class (instructed by a woefully inept graduate assistant) we were given an assignment to speak to those in the rest of our class about who we were as individuals.

Wait for it....yes!  Collage time.

Beside the fact that I felt I had outgrown such an exercise by about 8th grade, we college frosh spent several class periods explaining to each other why some of us were going to be so successful (in pictures) while the most discerning among us figured out rather quickly why, despite the fact our building was covered in Virginia Creeper, we weren't actually attending an Ivy League school.  The collage was our identity and our junk could be whatever we wanted it to be.

I'm pretty sure that is where we are least until driver's licenses become completely obsolete and autonomous vehicles dominate the roads.  We won't need a license to ride in a self driving car, will we?

Still, identifications will remain relevant for the other purposes mentioned above, but the farther we wade into identity fluidity, the more a collage might actually be the better route for those negotiations at the casino buffet counter.   

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Detroit, the Movie, Shoehorned into an Undeserved Context (Because I'm Like That)

Today I went to the theater and watched the movie Detroit.  It occurred to me after watching the film that we should painstakingly drag up historically ugly incidents, regardless of how they make us feel, in order to remember them and learn from them. 

The movie attempts to document one of the ugliest of the incidents that took place during the riots of that hot summer of 1967.  It is one of many ugly stories contained within those several days of smoke and fire and bullets and bricks.  And blood.

But why make such a film when the producers and director and actors must have known that delving into such a project would open old wounds?   The 1960s, we hope today, are far removed from today's modern society where, more or less, people of different skin tones and hair textures can mix and mingle with one another without creating great tension, fear and violence.

If that is the case, and most people would say that it is, then why make it?  Would it not be better to just move along?

What then is to be gained?

I'm certain people of different proud races and of different experiences could have different reactions to the film.  A swastika wearing hammer skin might cheer for a racist and corrupted police officer while a BLM sympathizer might become ever more motivated to distrust police and call for the frying of more "bacon."  These are fringe people in fringe movements and do not speak for a vast majority of individuals in this country.

I too came away with my own thoughts.

During that summer of 1967 I was but nine years old and had not yet entered the fourth grade.  Northern Michigan, where I grew up, was 180 long miles from the tendrils of smoke that trailed across a sky easily visible to fans at Tiger Stadium. 

I'm not certain I even have any direct memories of the '67 riots as it occurred.  We didn't have 24 hour news channels in those days and I'm not even sure if we had a working television at that time in my life.  It was summer, I was probably playing Wiffle Ball or catching crickets. 

So, all I know about it today is what I've gathered from reading, listening to other people talk about it, looking at some of the blackened storefronts many years ago, and now watching this movie.  Many of the landmarks of the riots were destroyed in the riots themselves, and many others, such as the Algiers Motel itself, have been removed in the time since.  Memories fade, oral history dies, and soon enough only the hardened documentation remains. 

Now, ratcheted up by the Charlottesville incident where some Nazi goons who supposedly demonstrated to protect monuments that honor heroes of the old south, we have many others demanding that these same old monuments (and others with much more dubious attachments to racism) be relocated to museums or destroyed outright--their existence and location seemingly a cause of great discomfort for those that view or visit.

I certainly understand this sentiment and perhaps some of this relocation (only) could still serve the purpose of remembrance and knowledge.  However, I'm not so certain that discomfort is altogether a bad thing here.

Monuments themselves become a part of history.    Nathan Bedford Forrest, a southern general and an early member of the Ku Klux Klan, has had dozens of monuments raised in his honor over the years (not to mention a few pointed white hats.)  Should they be toppled and destroyed, or simply relocated to a museum that documents the Civil War? 

My opinion might not be worth a lot given my age, color, and ignorance, but an art historian might use this occasion to say the fact that such monuments might have been erected to honor Forrest as late as the 1920s or 1930s or 1940s, (or even 2013!) could also tell us something about certain people in this country who were alive in the 1860s and afterward feeling Forrest worthy of honor. And why they honored him.

Rail against these statues and monuments all you want, but if every one of them is removed I don't believe one person's life will be enriched except for those perhaps who might enjoy a beautiful flower bed or park bench that occupies the space in its stead.  But expose us to a monument and the history of the monument and we all might learn a little bit.  Ugly facts are still ugly, and the whole story, from beginning to end, is still the story.

Perhaps this could be the reason behind the making of a movie like Detroit after all--intentionally looking for old wounds and poking them to see if there is still associated pain and discomfort.  Perhaps poking particularly hard to cause pain and discomfort. 

It is a good movie but it is not a movie that makes you feel good. 

Don't destroy it.   Watch it for what it is.


Friday, August 18, 2017

An Honest Discernment of Hatred

The last authentic episode of hate speech that I heard in my life was screamed by a young lad with a cavernous mouth toward his mother who had had just about enough of the whole opened yap thing.  It was embarrassing for her, the child's father, for me, and hopefully, after several years of reflection, for him.

How do I know it was hate? 

It was the intent, the volume, the passion.  And I, as the third party, a direct witness of the event, feel I am qualified to divine what the little snot was thinking at the time he expelled his snarling.  An hour later, of course, the rather volatile beast was once again settled down and interacting with those around him in a rather fragile but subdued truce.

Perhaps it wasn't hate so much as it was immaturity and emotional trauma.  Who is to say?

In today's political bump and run it has become solely for the listener to decide.  This is why the categorization of "hate speech" and "hate thought" and "hate crimes" are so dangerous to a free society--not because we embrace the hate that might be behind them, but because we do not want third parties to pass judgment on what might be the intent of such expression.

There is no doubt that we have hate speech in today's society.  (We always have had.)

Enter the likes of Charles Murray, Ben Shapiro, Heather MacDonald, Robert Spenser (not to be confused with Richard Spenser who hates to his heart's content) and Donald Trump.   Or, to today's progressives, anyone who might possess a conservative position or two on any number of difficult contemporary political issues. 

As an example, there are few Americans today who are more honest about their beliefs than Ben Shapiro.  I've been reading his columns since he was an undergrad at Harvard.  I've been listening to his podcasts at the Daily Wire for well over a year.  His debates are reasoned and well documented, as is his history.  He is, according to some, the person most often targeted by the alt-right in its march toward a more regulated and homogenous society.  Ben, to his credit, refuses to shut up.  He is no hater even though he is cynically labeled as such by others.

But the alt-right, perhaps the most pervasive spewers of hate in this country, is not a group who worries overmuch about the hate speech of others.  It is the progressive left that uses the terms of hate as tools to wield in attempts to silence their adversaries.  Both sides are illiberal and seek top down governments with the power to alienate and persecute those whose beliefs differ with their own. 

While the alt-right totalitarians and their bird of a feather sympathizers are properly relegated to the outmost political fringe, their well-armed antifa totalitarian adversaries are granted wide berth by most politicians, a nearly uniform press, and by an entertainment establishment too afraid to be vocationally black-balled to stand up for freedom.  

Donald Trump is a bumbling politician.  He is a woefully inept speaker.  His methods and tactics are ill advised.  His thin skin and quick temper make him an easy target for an activist press and his political adversaries, regardless of which political party they might belong to. 

He is being criticized these days, and properly to some degree, for his seeming reluctance to disavow the actions of the Nazis in Charlottesville.  He claims to have no sympathy for those wearing jack-boots and driving vehicles into milling crowds, but his early statements tried to spread the blame equally in the one area where equality is not welcome. 

And Trump is wrong about this.  There are those who weep at the destruction or removal of monuments to their southern heritage.  To my knowledge they were not the planners of this demonstration.  The groups behind this weekend's demonstration were dedicated not to their southern heritage so much as they were dedicated to a segregated south, and a yearning to return to those times where uppity people of color sat in the back of the bus and drank from their own fountains.  They were a mob of uniformed and weaponized Nazis and they came well prepared for a fight.  They also chanted anti-Jewish messages that I'm sure left Louis Farrakhan beaming.

The counter protesters belonged in one of two categories.  The first group and perhaps majority were those people who showed up with no weapons other than their voices to protest against Nazi hate.   The second group was populated by antifa (anti-fascist,) Communist or anarchist thugs who showed up with axe handles, mace, shields, helmets and facemasks.  They too were combatants prepared for war. 

Gasoline, meet fire. 

Sadly, a 32 year old paralegal as well as two law enforcement officers (none belonging to either armed group) lost their lives.  The Nazis celebrated their rally's success.  The media castigated while a bumbling president opined. All the while an empowered antifa movement, every bit the totalitarian sympathizers that the Nazis are, was able to sneak away under a strictly enforced media blackout, for future battles and greater glory.  

The purpose of this particular rally is ultimately irrelevant because the antifa movement seeks out to attack any rally with which they disagree.  Violent protests at Berkeley, in Chicago, in Philadelphia, in Cincinnati, in Washington, in Portland, in Seattle, etc., prove this.  So, whether the rally in Charlottesville was called by Nazi sympathizers or some obscure historical society is largely irrelevant--the antifa movement will be there to engage their enemy.

 Already the Nazis are petitioning for future events, one of them at Michigan State University.  My hope is that the university makes a wise decision that refuses to provide a battleground for axe handlers and mace sprayers.  They have no responsibility to provide a landscape for battle. 

Sadly, should Ben Shapiro try to speak at that campus he might very well be shut down by the university for the same reason, even though Ben Shapiro, regardless of how much you (love or) hate him, is not himself a purveyor of hate, nor will he ever show up for such an event with the weapons of war.  Universities, much like the antifa movement itself, care little for that important distinction. 

When I was in elementary school there was an out building on the school's grounds.  It had been many years previously a one-room schoolhouse--the school where my Dad spent several years.  When the larger school district was formed and the small school houses were abandoned, this school, The Grandview School, was taken from its foundation and relocated to an area behind the high school where I received all of my disappointing grades.

It was painted white and was called, aptly, The White House. 

The White House was famous for two things.  First, it was where all the old desks and tables and track hurdles were stored. Secondly, it provided a portion of school ground property not visible to snoopy teachers and administrators who might want to survey the grounds for trouble.

As early as middle elementary school the challenge of "I'll meet you behind the White House" meant only one thing.  There was going to be a fight.  It was not going to be a poetry reading.  I was never a party in one of these fights.  I was, however, several times blessed with a good observation point. 
When antifa protesters show up at a poetry reading or any other non violent expression of free speech the blame should be easy to discern.  When they show up at a Nazi rally, however stupid their intercession is, the total blame is more difficult to cast--why Mr. Trump wants to walk that line is hard for me to fathom. 

Perhaps it is simply too difficult to explain in one minute sound bites or while arguing with a gaggle of reporters.  Some topics cannot be set aside wish wispy arguments regardless of how honestly they are spoken.  Perhaps Mr. Trump should spend more time making certain his words are appropriately vetted before he spouts them.  Perhaps, too, he should stop being so steadfast in his dedication to self. 

How hard could it be, really, for President Trump to call out the evil that is Nazi?  Their message is neither spontaneous nor screamed by a child.  It is a thought out political stance based on hatred. 

Too, how difficult could it be for the media to accept that Communist sympathizers and anarchists are just as evil?  Why do they get a pass?

This is how we arrive at a narrative.  Ill prepared statements issued by a leader trying his best to toe the line, and a cacophony of reporters trying their best to take down a bumbling leader regardless of his intent or beliefs. 

We should demand better from both.  I know we deserve better.


Monday, August 14, 2017

A Christian Comments on the Country's Fraying Fabric

After watching another open incident of murderous idiocy display itself in Charlottesville this weekend, I have a few things to say.

But first things first for a little context.  I am a Christian and therefore believe that violence for the sake of violence is wrong.  I care not who perpetuates it.  I am not a pacifist so I believe there are times when violence might be called for, but having grown up in the Mennonite tradition I find nearly all forms of violence in nearly all contexts to be wanting for justification. 

So, who to blame for the latest carnage? 

The roots of this calamity lie in progressivism in its many forms.  Progressivism has a large umbrella that casts a shadow over many movements, and two of these movements are Marxism/communism and national socialism or, as a historical progressive coined it, Nazism. 

Nazis are not communists and vice versa.  Yet, all communists and all fascists are socialists.  The roots of these political philosophies lie in the shepherding of a small group of elites into positions of great political, economic and social power.  They each thrive by dividing the population into identity groups that can be pitted against one another and by design then, must levy the governing powers for restitution.  Both systems are tyrannical and oppose individual liberty.

The individual is secondary in progressive thought.  Capitalism is anathema.  Personal property rights are attacked as standing in the way of "the greater good" or in opposition to "the will of the people."  The operational vehicle might differ between these socialist groupings, but their intent is to subvert the individual to the larger group.

The communists/Marxists wield their power through a top-down and heavy handed government control over the means of production.  A bigwig thinks that black pants are suitable "for the people" and soon every person is wearing stylish black pants.  The government owns the factories.  It owns the cotton fields.  It owns the dye, the thread, the buttons, the zippers.  It transports these chosen components in its own trucks, driven by drivers in the government's employ, to the factory that it owns, and then has the components unloaded at the dock by black slacked government workers.  Everything works great until some enemy of the state wants a pair of blue jeans. 

A good ruling fascist might also want his subjects to wear black slacks (they are a good match for the jack-boots.)  But, rather than try to direct every individual move along the chain of production, he merely rewards the companies or corporations who are most likely to toe the line.  He regulates those he dislikes and rewards those who seek favor.  Companies that cannot compete against well capitalized competitors drop out of the system and those that are left standing enjoy the high life. 

Companies that operate in a fascist framework produce products more efficiently than those operating in a communist country might, but they also tend to produce private sector wealth disparities that are largely absent in communist countries,  The ruling classes are wealthy in either system.  They both redistribute wealth.  They both adhere to top-down thinking.  They both stomp on individuals who are trying their best to live lives of independence and prosperity.

So, why the hate between these two groups that both seek the same top down power?

We see today's leftist groupings standing side by side organizationally even though they oftentimes hold opposing (and often explosive) viewpoints.  This is how NEA members can stand beside African American parents at a rally when there is no organization in American that has damaged the educational system in the inner city as badly as has the NEA.  This is how wall-street bigwigs can by and large belong to the same political party that also boasts as members most left leaning college professors.  This is how the rainbow coalition can generally stand in unity with the Muslim community at Democrat Party functions when, in the old country, one of these groups would be pushing the other off a tall building. 

No, the neo-fascist and neo-Marxist movements of today are largely populist ideological movements that are impenetrable to either hypothetical reasoning or blatant proof positive examples.  So they line up with brass knuckles and jack boots on one side, and axe handles and bandanas on the other.

Much of this boils down to the unchallenged propaganda being taught in today's universities, promoted by today's entertainment industry, and justified by today's news media.  Leftist ideology in all of its forms has produced an American political consumer largely ignorant of the roots of its movements, and largely uninterested in hearing any opposition to those movements. 

If Donald Trump was a fascist (and let's be honest, his rhetoric has done little to dispel the fears of those who accuse him of such) he would not be trying to dismantle the regulatory state that favors corporate cronies.  If he was a fascist he wouldn't allow himself to be torn apart by a free media, wouldn't be thwarted by the political party he supposedly leads, and he wouldn't be badgered every day by a "dark state" inside the government he sits atop. 

His major sin, other than being terribly disorganized, terribly inarticulate, terribly thin skinned, and terribly impulsive, is that he operates within the confines of a popular culture that is optically terrible for a politician. 

The same Hollywood that produces endless sex and language gratuities hates that their current president seems to abide by the rules of their most popular productions.   The same news media that hates Mr. Trump for his supposed strongman lawlessness seem to have little problem with the lawlessness of cities and states that embrace lawlessness.  The same universities that embrace radical professors like Bill Ayers and (the late) Tom Hayden, and on a daily basis provide them with a lectern behind which to speak, have major problems with people like Heather McDonald and Ben Shapiro making one-time appearances at the podium.  That Heather is a woman and that Ben is a Jew does not provide them with adequate credentials to avoid being anti-woman and anti-fascist.  So, shut them down!

A peace vigil today can be attacked by fascists.  A free-speech assembly can be attacked by anti-fa goons.  Both groups of attackers seemingly ignorant of the sins they commit and the unrest they create.

Getting back to my heritage as a Christian and a believer of non-violence.  I cannot control all things and I'm not the kind of guy to hold my own anti-fascist/anti-communist rally.  So I watch news clips and videos of others who are shouted down by radical opponents who know little of the wonders of this great experimental country whose fabric is ripping at the seams. 

I haven't seen it yet but what I hope to see one of these days, only because I am blessed in my inability to control such things, is an anti-fa protestor (using fascist tactics) striking a Nazi-goon upside the head with an axe handle at the exact same moment that the skin head Nazi hits the anti-fa fascist in the jaw with his brass knuckles. 

As they both fall to the ground some sense penetrates their now slightly loosened screws. 

Monday, December 05, 2016

A Winning Sales Pitch

It would be foolish for conservatives to ignore a demographic momentum that does not favor conservatism. While many celebrate the latest victory by a non-conservative on the national stage, it is this victory in itself that should leverage some caution with many of the celebrants.

When the GOP gave primary voters a choice between several conservative presidential contestants and Donald Trump, it was The Donald whose scepter was raised in the end. Indeed, in a charging herd of pachyderms it could be said that Mr. Trump protected the left flank. And yet this leftward position was used as a springboard from which to attain the top rung of America’s historically most conservative party.

In a Democrat Party election exercise that by design favored the Clinton royal family, the most energetic portion of that long lost party was in the camp of the neo-Marxist Bernie Sanders. Hillary may very well have ended up the victor of her party’s primary process on an even playing field, but the youth, the next generation of economically illiterate voters, favored Karl Sanders in huge numbers despite party insistence, machinations and propaganda.

Finally, the popular vote in the presidential election went to the most progressive big party candidate remaining in the field.

At the end of it all we cannot say that Mr. Trump will not govern with some conservative principles and I have been impressed with some of his appointments and comments since those sad moments in which he called Ted Cruz a liar, Ted’s wife an ugly addict, and his father a communist conspirator and political assassin. At least now we have a positive trend. Whatever Trump’s conservative positions might be at this particular point in time they seem to have been arrived at through whim rather than philosophy.

Trump’s voting coalition was cobbled together in much the same way a windstorm throws debris on my front porch. Many traditional democrats voted Donald in an effort to stem the loss of American jobs. Many conservatives felt the tide of the party was sweeping too far leftward because of entrenched establishment party operatives and preferred a non-political candidate that at least had one foot outside the party’s corral. Many millions more felt a vote had to be cast for Trump because his loss would mean a corrupt career politician with no morals, ethics or honor would assume the highest office in the land. Finally, alt-righters voted for Donald because they have shit for brains.

What resulted was a coalition of evangelical Christians who stood beside Neo-nazis who stood beside union workers who stood beside libertarians who in turn stood beside many nervous looking conservatives peering out of the corner of their rapidly blinking eyes. It was a tent just big enough to produce a victory.

We must be a ‘big tent’ party say those strategists closely aligned to the party. But what big tents might provide in terms of the ability to enfold a larger divergence of opinion, by definition, it would also necessarily be willing to sell off chunks of its founding principles.

For instance, a cohesive and coherent conservative party cannot promote both free markets and protectionism; the former having provided for more created wealth in the history of mankind than under any other type of system, while the latter has helped enslave the impoverished for centuries. The two positions are mutually exclusive and should not be part of the same big tent.
The message of conservatism should be the selling point, not a position we are willing to parcel off in order to attract more voters. When we do this we end up with a larger party led by candidates with no investment in conservative courses of action. I give you Donald Trump. And before him Mitt Romney. And before him the (now) six times elected senator from Arizona, John McCain.

Republicans in general and conservatives in specific are not good at selling their wares. In a world where conservatism and free markets produce wealth and high living standards, socialism the world over produces poverty and shortages. Yet the vacant fields message of socialism sells while the full cupboards of free market capitalism are found wanting to more and more voters.

Satellite imagery of the Korean peninsula displays to the world the inability of a socialist north to light up the landscape. While South Korea is bright and visibly prosperous from space, the depth of northern darkness is not the result of just a shortage of electricity, though that is an issue. Along with their inability to produce the electricity there is also insufficient infrastructure to transport it if it were ever generated. There is also insufficient manufacturing ability to produce electrical devices and components that would use the electricity if it could be produced (it cannot) and transported (it cannot,) and not least, it suffers a horribly impoverished people lacking the basic wealth to consume the electricity, if it were produced (it isn’t,) transported (it isn’t either) and if devices were available (they’re not.)

In America spoiled consumers place night lights in cramped hallways to avoid kicking cats and table legs on our late night journeys to rooms wonderfully blessed with indoor plumbing. On the Korean peninsula those same night lights, if that miracle were even available north of the DMZ, would more likely be used to look for what the cat might be eating so it could be enjoyed over a fire kindled with the table legs. It beats eating tree bark.

On the other side of the world, in Venezuela, a country sitting atop some of the world’s largest energy reserves, the people do not enjoy ample food, medicine or toilet paper. Or energy. Gasoline is rationed and brownouts circulate the country. Meanwhile, political opponents are prevented from leaving paradise or are jailed while state controlled broadcasters proclaim the national wonder.

This is what socialism sells and what, increasingly, American voters are willing to buy. The only difference is that today’s socialists or, as Bernie describes the movement, the “democratic socialists” sell their wares from a perch of economic success erected with the ideas and innovations that their political corner could never produce.

Ms. Clinton’s shrill pitch carried a long way having been buoyed by the $150 million she and Bill reaped by selling off the US State Department. She left the White House dead broke in 2001 but managed to enter the 2016 presidential race with a purse well fattened with graft. No wonder she hates capitalism. But compared to the now mouldering Fidel Castro she was a mere piker. The now horizontal former Cuban leader left this world a billionaire though his people, living in the soft glow of a socialist state, shared little more than poverty together.

The central ideas of conservatism need not be tossed aside in order to attract the ignorant. Rather conservatism must be sold completely and vigorously so that the ignorant might become informed.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Rougblog Reboot

I’ve been away for a while as the struggles of aging and the demons of electronics conspired to force my silence.

My absence was neither easy nor intended to be permanent despite anything my former one-time reader was praying for when I dropped off the planet. So, I’m back but this return will be closer to an easing onto the service road rather than a break neck plunge onto the Autobahn. I don’t even have reliable internet at home yet.

It is my intent to take this sight as seriously as I ever have with posts on economics, politics, culture, current events, things that humor me and, of course, my total contempt for socialists.

One thing that makes it difficult for me to consistently power away at uncompensated writing is the feeling that I do so and no one listens. I know when someone travels to the site because the hit meter registers each solitary voyageur. However it is the commenting, either positive or negative, that provides the sole reward, at least until such time as I can leverage this free squawking into a paying gig.

I do encourage commenting but I’d prefer it not be dedicated to the assassination of my character however much my character deserves a good butt-kicking. I try to treat people respectfully in the comments but in my posts themselves a promise of restraint is off the table. I will only excoriate those who are public figures or those who wade into the pool first.

I talk the way I want to talk in my posts because I feel public officials and personalities are pretty much fair game. Don’t take it personally that I feel the wife-beater Sean Penn is a low life. Don’t get too insulted because, after all, you have the exact same right to start your own blog that no one reads too, just like this one.

I really enjoy input even if it is contrary to my own opinion. I’m also one who is willing to agree to disagree until I get personally insulted at which point I will either cry like a baby or come at you like a poo-flinging spider monkey. I don’t like it when those who comment refuse to play nice with each other.

Welcome back to the site. I’ll try to keep it interesting.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Michigan Entrepreneurs Still Active

Imagine my thrill at watching a wonderful lady several years my senior seek to make her fortune at an advanced age.  I’m a chicken whose spring passed many years ago and this lady was scratching worms from the summer soil long before I ever witnessed my first equinox.

I discovered the spirit of America knows no age limit.

I truly appreciate inventiveness and the entrepreneurial spirit because, among other reasons, I verily appreciate America and the American spirit.  America embraced the free market and capitalism at its founding and was willing to suffer decades of transition from the cash-poor/barter heavy society at the founding to one that burgeoned a slowly developed wealth as its first century waned.

And wealth is a wonderful thing for it is wealth, principally created by those who had a better idea, process or product, that produced a society largely capable of eliminating hunger, homelessness and disease.  This is not to say that there are none who suffer hunger or homelessness or disease in this country, but only that those who are willing and able to interject themselves into the mainstream economy are largely capable of living lives today that completely avoid toothless scurvy ‘neath a cardboard box.

Yet America’s embrace of the free market has done more than simply reduce malnourishment, homelessness and disease.  It has also helped to produce an American population entitled to a basic education, a very modest retirement, passable roads, protected landscapes, parks, libraries, and now, a disgustingly inefficient, impersonal and expensive heath care benefit.

Even beyond these supposedly deserved entitlements, we Americans have grown to expect reasonable access to groceries, health clubs, gas stations, auto parts stores, insurance agencies, pharmacies, theaters, restaurants, florists and the ever-necessary tattoo parlor/piercing studio.  (The former benefits, of course, made possible by the producers of the latter.)

We should not forget that it is the government skimming of cream off the surface of privately produced milk that makes all entitlements possible but it is the milk itself that is, it seems to many, an ever-flowing stream of torrential mammalian nectar.

Assumed limitless production of this magic elixir makes the vision of entitlements also nearly limitless. Teddy’s progressivism begat Wilson’s socialism begat FDR’s New Deal begat Johnson’s Great Society begat Nixon’s HUD begat Clinton’s CRA begat W’s prescription drug benefit/NCLB which begat Obama’s everything under the sun which will sire the…what can we imagine…exactly?

A little pushback, I feel, is in order.

So, I stood in admiration of this woman at a local BP in northern Michigan who was working to create the wealthpot from which future generations might enjoy what is, even to this day, a yet unimagined entitlement. Like the industrialists of old she was willing to take her hard-earned capital and invest it wisely in an economy where capital is king and industry, both personal and collective, is royalty.

She marched to the counter and used her Bridge Card to buy the most expensive gallon of milk she could find in the county but wisely saved her start-up capital to buy herself 10 Michigan Lotto tickets (all the state enjoyed profits of which will go to Michigan schools!)

It is the wealth the free market created that makes such shenanigans possible.  It is the unabated shenanigans that will lead to the collapse of our free market, one poor investment at a time.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An Employment Lament

Tens of thousands of physically able persons of employable age left the Michigan workforce during the age of Obama. While it isn't entirely fair to blame this all on Obama (lets face it, Jennifer Granholm did a reasonably good job of pushing them toward the employment door) it does seem peculiar, does it not, that the unemployment rate can actually fall as fewer jobs are created? Yet this is what happened for many months.

Indeed, the national and state unemployment rates have been on a slow decline over the past couple of years even though slogging job seekers were enjoying little success looking for employment. And, while I'm thinking about it, many of those lucky workers who found work found themselves underemployed by education and fractionally employed when measured against a forty hour work week. Yet, the unemployment rate fell.

And the press celebrated.

Wannabe workers wore out shoe soles beating the pavement. Their distant relatives developed carpel tunnel syndrome filling out their unemployment claims. Businesses that hired did so reluctantly. Many other businesses reluctantly didn't hire as they waited out the uncertainty brought on by a burgeoning regulatory bureaucracy.

None of this did the unemployed much good and they tired of looking for work. They became qualified for disability in record numbers. They retired early in record numbers. They decided they actually could survive on government benefits in record numbers. They started watching Alice reruns.

While the falling unemployment rate was celebrated by the media and helped a benevolent government lay plausible claim to a warming economic climate, people suffered. One hundred thousand newly created jobs month after month became "positive evidence of an expanding economy for the country." First time weekly jobless claims of 350,000 or so were again signs of a strengthening economy. Neither of these numbers is at all positive yet they were represented as such by a left leaning media adherent to government worship.

Unemployed Masters of Business Administration became Masters of Burger Flipping. Former sales managers became sales clerks. On the bright side, those with Women's Studies majors remained unemployed but now have more leisure time in which to protest a paternalistic society's war on women.

Now we are seeing the flip side. The underrepresented unemployment rate is beginning to rise even though a relatively larger number of jobs are being created, all this because the discouraged are once again seeking work.

Obama has already been reelected and many of his policies still aren't done damaging the work force. Obamacare is going to be disastrous, the EPAs war on coal and oil is going to be a brutal punishment for anyone trying to pay the bills and buy food on his own dime, while overarching intrusions into other formerly free markets will (and have) needlessly chill profits and their greatest byproduct--private sector jobs.

More people are already on public assistance than at any other time in American history and poverty rates are rising even as that unemployment rate begins to creep up again.

More road signs than ever point to Greece.