Peter B. in Indianapolis “Bread and Circuses”

guest-commentaryI have received many different articles over the last two months from readers who have strong opinions on different subjects. I truly appreciate all of them. In an effort to allow many different voices to be heard, I have decided that I am going to start publishing them. I don’t always agree with their points of view. Sometimes I completely agree with them. But as you are all well aware by now, agreement with me is not my goal, nor is it the purpose of the site. I am more interested in getting people to think, to educate themselves, and to take action, whatever that may be. So to that end I am committing to making an effort to publish someone else’s commentary at least once every week.

Some weeks I simply won’t have one as no one is forced to write anything. But people are thinking and taking the time to put their thoughts into a well thought out article to send to me. And I think they should be rewarded for doing so, regardless of whether I agree or disagree. Obviously I have my standards, but overall the authors of the articles you see will be able to tell you that I don’t change their thoughts or words. I am interested in feedback on doing this. A quick email from folks letting me know whether you do or don’t like me publishing these articles from others would be great at:    usweapon@gmail.com

Peter B. from Indianapolis

“For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death…”

                           Robert Heinlein, To Sail Beyond the Sunset

colliseumAmerica has already fallen, but most people are too stupid to realize it yet.  For somewhat more than 40 years now, the public schools have programmed our youth (some of whom are now old enough to hold positions of power in this country) to believe that the Government is the answer to all of our problems.

Never mind that prior to the 1930’s people somehow got along with help from their churches and their neighbors.  Back then (as it still should be now) Government was expected to keep the country safe and keep out of people’s lives.

As Rahm Emanuel has said (and I may be paraphrasing just a bit), “No good crisis should go to waste.”  The financial crisis of the 1930’s gave the Government an excuse to intrude on the lives of every-day people and begin to control the economy of the country.  The financial crisis of 1999-Present has given the Government even more of an excuse to intrude on the lives of every-day people and exert even more control over the economy.  Soon the government will control the banks, the hospitals, and all of the key infrastructure of this once-great country.  This is all in the name of improving our lives.  You see, most of us are now too stupid (thanks in large part to our indoctrination into stupidity through the public schooling system) to know what is best for ourselves anymore.  That’s fine, the Government will help.  Government knows what is best.

gladiator-tigerThe Roman Republic was run by the Senate for the good of the Roman people.  It was not a perfect system, but it was a very advanced idea of government for its time.  Eventually Rome was taken over by the Caesars and the Senate was reduced to largely figurehead status.  The Emperors of Rome kept the people happy by giving away food and providing endless entertainment at the Circus Maximus.  Over a period of time, the great Roman Empire fell into decay by rotting from the inside.  It was not the Vandals, the Goths, and the Visigoths that caused the fall of Rome, it was the internal decay of Rome that allowed the Vandals, Goths, and Visigoths to be able to sack what remained of a once-great nation.

This is exactly what is happening in our once-great country right now.  The masses of the people have been taught to be stupid, and are provided endless entertainment with movies, television, the internet with its millions of celebrity gossip pages, etc.  If you don’t have a job or have a very low-paying job and can’t afford food (even though you can somehow afford cable television)?  No problem, the Government will provide you will food stamps so you can go feed yourself and your family (with foods that are mostly devoid of any actual nutritional value).

kids-playing-video-gamesSo, the people have their bread with a quick trip to the store, and they have their circuses without ever having to even leave home.  Man is no longer a truly social animal.  The Government has encouraged forms of entertainment that lead to social isolation.  No need to go outside and talk with the neighbors, we can have fun without even leaving the house.  No need to actually get to know anyone or aspire to anything anymore, we have cheap entertainment and cheap food and relatively cheap basic comfort.

You see, social interaction encourages the exchange of ideas, and that would be dangerous after all.  We wouldn’t want the people to actually THINK now, would we?

There were precious few Presidents from 1930-present that understood that it is the people that make America great.  The Government is supposed to be BY THE PEOPLE, OF THE PEOPLE, and FOR THE PEOPLE.  Instead now, we have Government BY THE GOVERNMENT/CORPORATION, OF THE GOVERNMENT/CORPORATION and FOR THE GOVERNMENT/CORPORATION.  And, the Government will soon be taking over the majority of the corporations, so it will end up just being the Government.

Thus concludes Peter’s article. I like the article quite a bit. I had never before equated the bread and circus argument to the modern day world. But it certainly makes sense. I also think that there is inherent value in understanding that the erosion of the community aspect of our local worlds has greatly aided the federal government in being able to accomplish what they have. 

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Comments

  1. Good article. Brief and to the point. Simple in its explanation.

    I find it very interesting that many science fiction writers of our past have predicted our future in some way or another.

    An Acronym from Robert A. Heinlein’s “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress”; TANSTAAFL = There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. The reference was to the inhabitants of the moon having to pay for everything, including the air that they breathed.

    CAP and Trade anyone?

    • esomhillgazette says:

      G.A., I don’t know how much you read or what your interests are, but if you do read then you and anyone else at the site need to read “The Last Centurion” by John Ringo. Even though he writed mostly SF, this is not. It is a very Realistic scenario of the near future and is very similar to some events going on right now. It is also written like a blog. It is also a Military fiction as the main character is in the Army. It is written in first person as if he is telling his own story. When I read it Obama was onlt in office for a month and it sent chills down my back. Another is the books by Micheal Z. Williamson. Particularly “The Weapon” (SF).

  2. USWeapon says:

    G.A.

    I have always loved TANSTAAFL. I thought the article was interesting and also to the point. It is a problem in today’s America that we now have moved to such solitary existences.

    And obviously no thanks to the cap and trade BS

  3. Vinnster says:

    Though I am personally an optimist (goes with the perspective, I have controlled my destiny in spite of government), I believe history will show America hit is peak and started its decline in the early 1970s. History reveals, usually a single event marked the point of decline, but at the time that event was not particularly noteworthy. Before reading more take a moment to think about what event occurred in the early 70s that marked America’s peak. It went almost unnoticed.

    If we look at Rome and many other Empires/Societies, they rose to power by expanding their influence around the world by conquering new lands. At some point they reach an equilibrium between the ability to expand and the ability of those fighting the expansion to hold their ground and prevent further expansion. The fuel that fed the expansion was currency/wealth/money. As long as the expanding Empire had the money to support the expansion it continued, when the money dried up, the expansion stopped. In every case the ruling government decides to stop, or more accurately realize they can no longer afford the expansion costs and fund “other projects”.

    What were the “other projects”? Social spending, in the broad sense of the word. In Rome’s case the money was diverted from military spending to social spending. That is the point in time that marked Rome’s peak. From that moment on it started its decline, that took hundreds of years complete.

    America was never in the business of conquering territory to expand its Empire. It expanded its Empire (or influence in world) intellectually, by inventing millions of new things and using those inventions to explore uncharted areas of our space (ocean depths, outer space, and subatomic).

    In the 1970s America (and the Government) moved a major move away from the belief of individual freedoms and self determination with the massive expansion of social spending. The spending was so massive it dried up all the money to fuel further exploration and conquering understanding of the world and space around us.

    I believe the one single event that marked America’s peak and signaled the beginning of a very slow decline was…the cancellation of the Apollo Project. At that time we were exploring and expanding into space. We were going to put colonies on the Moon and eventually Mars, but, just like Rome, our leaders made decisions to funnel so much money into social spending it dried up any monies to fuel continuing exploration and expansion. America’s space exploration was stopped, we settled for a space station.

    American will never lead in space again, China will most likely be the first to put a colony on the Moon and Mars.

    • USWeapon says:

      Vinnster,

      I don’t know if I have seen you post a comment before. Welcome to the site. Great insight here from you. The cancellation of the Apollo program was a bad thing for our country. The ways that you mention are one aspect of why. Another aspect is that the changes in government since have dampened the American spirit.

      We used to be a country of dreamers. We dreamed of space exploration. We dreamed of business success. We dreamed of everything and worked to make those dreams come true. Now that ability to dream is fleeting. We do it occasionally, but not for long. I believe that this is in direct proportion to the amount of class warfare that has been propagated in America. What is the use of getting rich if the government is going to punish you for it?

      • Vinnster says:

        Well said USWeapon.

        Success and prosperity are teachable. As well as an attitude of setting goals and achieving dreams. Once Liberalism took over the schools, that was all replaced with class envy and victimhood. Instead of our teachers pointing to a successful persona and saying, you too can do that by working hard and avoiding bad choices. Teachers and Liberal leaders like Obama, teach kids they can’t get ahead today and those that did get ahead did it by cheating others out of their fair share.

        It is truly tragic seeing young children with the potential to great things be robbed of the opportunity by being taught such anti-success attitudes.

        The class difference will expand with Liberals teaching what is someone elses is yours for the taking on one side, and on the other side, people who still understand you can control your on destiny to be successful.

        Unfortunately that old saying, “If you rob Peter to pay Paul, you always get Paul’s vote.” coupled with the Paul’s reaching a voting majority of 51% pretty much dooms a society to a diminishing supply of producers and a expanding entitlement class always taking more from the producers.

        Add to that the paraphrase, “Once the people in a democracy realize they can vote themselves funds from the public treasury, it ceases being a democracy.”

        America has passed both mileposts.

        • esomhillgazette says:

          I was taught in school that when you came to America, you had the “Opportunity” to become anything, improve your life and could go as far as you were willing to work for. But you weren’t guaranteed anything. Now, it’s you “deserve” everything, and the govt will hand it to you. IMO, you don’t “deserve” a damn thing. You have to get off your butt and work for it!

      • You know, one of these days, maybe when I really retire I am going to write a book. USW, for your information, the underground economy is thriving. I see it every day in the outer boroughs of NY City. I sometimes think that Americans invented the con.

        That is the really impressive thing about us. We adapt, innovate and overcome. To paraphrase Eli Wallach in one of his bandido roles “we done need no stinkin govermen.”

  4. There is much truth to the article, and how Government has become overbearing and controlling, and getting more so very quickly. The dumbing down of our schools, very true. But the very thing you complain about as isolating us (TV & Internet) is the ONLY defense against that. Imagine our schools as our ONLY source of knowledge and information, and our neighbors. And perhaps the local library, perhaps small and limited.

    Affordable food and technology is not some Government conspiracy to ruin the masses. They are the products of a wealthy and successful society. Nearly everything has a good and bad element, TV, the internet and even “bread”, included. I think the good far outweighs the bad.

    TV and the internet have expanded our knowledge of just about everything. We have multiple, diverse INSTANT information resources at our fingetips. Compare that to say, 1900. How did people get their information? Likely by ONE local newspaper. If that. Mingling after church, “neighboring”, and school functions. All mostly LOCAL gossip, news, rumors, & community happenings. The world was pretty small back then, for the individual.

    Of course people back then didn’t have time for TV or the Internet anyway, they were busy working hard to survive. People for the most part raised much of their own food (a LOT of work right there), pumped all their water by hand, heated it on the wood stove, had one bath a week (on Saturday night). They made everything from scratch (including bread), cooked 3 big meals a day, and fought the weather to get the crops in, and farmed with horses. A loaf of “store bought” bread was a luxury.

    It was a good life, but left little time or energy to deal with much else. Many people, especially children, died of common illnesse that today are easily cured (take a walk through an old grave yard some time, lots of young ones there). One of my Grandfathers died for the lack of a simple antibiotic.

    Progress has a price, as we well know. But what is the alternative? To still have us living like we did way back when?

    We have only traded one form of isolation, for another. And the isolation today is voluntary, there are plenty of social events if one chooses to attend. On the other hand, you can build friendships far from you, right friend? You say “social interaction encourages the exchange of ideas”…That is what we are doing right here, en masse. NOW that is dangerous….lol

    Now the trick is, how do we rein in our Government so we can keep what we have?

    • USWeapon says:

      Dee,

      Thanks for the alternative viewpoint. I liked the article for its comparison to Rome. But you are absolutely correct that the very thing that we say is bad in the article is what allows this forum. And that is important. The one aspect of the argument that I disagree with is that it is entirely a better way.

      You stated that, “All mostly LOCAL gossip, news, rumors, & community happenings.” That is true. Ideally, the expansion of the internet would have given greater access to information while still preserving the discussion between people. That was taken away by the government’s moves to make discussion of politics taboo. Now we are discouraged from discussing it with our neighbors, friends, and family. That is one of the major changes that needs to happen.

      • USW,

        I take it you mean we are discouraged from having political discussions, by the nature of our lifestyle, not by the government? (Not that I would put it past them!) I don’t see anything making the discussion of politics taboo here in any way. Matter of fact, I have never, in my entire life, heard so MUCH discussion of politics, among my family and friends, as I do now.

        Not that I would put anything past the government, I know it is sneaky, shady and manipulating, but could you provide an example of how it has made talking about politics “taboo”?

        I suppose we all bring the sum total of our life experience with us, so we see the issues from that view point.

        From my vantage point, TV and Internet allows for and ENCOURAGES major discussion of current events, political and otherwise. It keeps politics front and center in my family. We have “Glenn Beck” conversations with our dentist at every visit. (As much as we can with his hands in our mouths!)

        Back when I was a kid, we had two local papers, from different cities. 4 TV stations (ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS).

        No internet, the word “internet” didn’t even exist. If I really wanted to research a topic in depth, it meant going to a library, spending significant time, and much of the information was outdated. And we thought we were “informed”.

        What we “knew” was just what the MSM allowed us to know. Now we have cable/satellite, and SO many more choices. We listen to several different news channels, but have to admit, the only one we can stomach is FOX. On the internet, I can pull up newspapers worldwide, thousands of them, if I wish. I can research any topic. I can be here:)

        I can learn on a level far beyond anything I had ever imagined.

        I think the Government considers the internet a threat, a real pain in the a**, where people can gather and conspire against it. (The internet was blamed for the fast organization of the “anarchists” protests last week in London).

        The only downside I see is information overload. Because we know more, we have more to ponder and worry over.

        • USWeapon says:

          Dee,

          However if you decide to have a political discussion at work you will usually find that it is not only discouraged but not allowed by the rules. I personally received a written reprimand for doing so a little over a year ago. In turn I have had to do my best to keep my superiors from knowing that I write this blog, for fear that they will reprimand me yet again. How sad is it that I have to hide something that I am so happy doing?

          Rule number one in etiquette is never discuss politics or religion. It is a long standing rule, and one enforced by the politically correct everywhere. It is unfortunate, but certainly planned. The people in power have perpetuated this “rule” because they know if we talk we learn, if we learn we compromise, if we compromise we unite, and if we unite they are screwed….

          • Oh, sure, I see where you are coming from. You are correct, it is also a rule of one of the companies I contract with, even though we have an online environment.

            That is what makes sites like this even more important.

            I know you can’t say who you work for, but it is unnerving that you feel you can’t express your views on your own time, away from work.

            That would make an interesting court case, if you were to be discovered and fired for your views and involvement in political discussion away from your job. I imagine they would invent some other reason. Not that I would wish that on you!

            I have always had the impression that discussing politics and religion was a no-no (at some companies), because they are such emotional hot topics, and can cause hard feelings among co-workers, thus affecting productivity and harmony.

            I once worked at a place without that rule, and an employee that was deeply into “saving” our souls was downright obnoxious, to the point of harassment.

            • esomhillgazette says:

              Dee, try working at a public school like I do. I have to be VERY careful what I discuss. And I live in a Conservative area!

              • I can imagine, it is getting ridiculous.

                I did work at a public school, for 16 years.

                I had one girl, had her for 3 years from 5th to 8th grade….she was a total lunatic, took after her welfare queen mother. There were 4 girls in that family….2 he** on wheels, and 2 pretty decent.

                This one in particular would push the limits of anyone’s patience, and I’m not the most patient person to begin with. One day she was just being a holy terror…

                So she says, “You can’t touch me”…and I looked her in the eye and said, “I can get you once.”

                Should have seen the look on her face…lol

  5. Chris Devine says:

    “The Roman Republic was run by the Senate for the good of the Roman people”

    If by ‘people’ you mean property-owners, men, and non-slaves then maybe I’d agree with that point. I am absolutely tired of people hearkening back to some imaginary good ole days when:

    religious folk were nice to everybody (and women and minorities knew their place),
    schools weren’t run by the government (and education was reserved for people who were worthy enough to pay for it),
    plenty of ‘good’ jobs and food were available (to those who didn’t mind working for a robber baron or finding a finger in a can of Hormel),
    America didn’t try to expand it’s empire (it only put business friendly juntas in power in the banana republics),
    and corporations were benevolent (and smart enough to put the 14th Amendment to its first use breaking strikes instead of helping former slaves).

    America didn’t suddenly get screwed up due to government meddling in the 1930’s. America, while a wonderful civil experiment in many ways, has always been a place where the rich and powerful scheme to increase their influence. Read Upton Sinclair’s novel, The Jungle, or any of the muckrakers’ works. Read ‘War is a Racket’ by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC (the highest decorated marine of his era). These works were written long before the depression and paint a less than ideal picture of America.

    America’s strength has always come (despite the best efforts of its founders to prevent it) from dedicated individuals using the democratic process and the government to fix its problems. The rabble, though capable of being mislead and “amused to death,” are the only ones who will be able to change things. The only fair and democratic mechanism for this change is the government. We must stop looking at this as an us or them, all or nothing proposition. The government is all we have unless we want anarchy. Is that what you want?

    • I think most who post here are in favor of a government, just not the one we currently have. Obama has gotten a tax plan that “refunds “income tax to people who did not pay income tax. That is income redistribution. Our founding fathers intended no such government to exist, and tried very hard to insure it could never come to be. They favored charity. They were against the government having the power to take from Paul, to give to Peter.

      I would like to see our government change back to something similar to the founders vision, instead of a parody of Karl Marx.

      • Chris Devine says:

        Income redistribution is nothing new. When mining companies paid their employees in scrip and forced them to buy all their goods from company stores, that was income redistribution. When farmers are forced to make a choice between selling their crops and livestock to keep their land or feed their families and face eviction, that’s income redistribution. I’m sure once you see the theme here you will be able to recognize all the forms income redistribution takes.

        The only problem that people like yourself has with Obama’s form of income distribution is that it takes from the rich and powerful and gives it to the poor and powerless. You might say that both forms are wrong. However, once you realize that people don’t get rich through hard work alone you will see that being rich doesn’t mean you necessarily deserve to be. Behind every great fortune is a great crime.

        I’m all for people being able to keep what they earn, but that’s not the same as keeping everything you’ve taken.

        • Chris:

          You make several good points then slip into the muck of lazy thinking with…
          “Behind every great fortune is a great crime.”……

          “Every” is infinite in its trap. I guarantee you that my great fortune has no crime behind it. I know of several others as well. It only takes one to destroy “all” “every”, “always”, “never”, etc etc.

          Don’t let emotion take over, keep the brain in charge.

          You also miss the point of the original comparison to Rome and the Senate, at least that is my opinion. I think the point is that a govt created by the people to protect the people was eventually corrupted to benefit a monarchy, oligarchy.

          Another real question should be….Why do so many humans always seem to seek a King? Is it built into our DNA?

          Keep up the good work
          JAC

          • Chris Devine says:

            While I grant that my choice of a platitude is a form of hyperbole and that every universal claim can be disproved by a single instance, I think you miss my point in that retained wealth not created by your own labor should be a crime. Manipulation of market forces for individual or institutional profit, while being an excellent way of accumulating wealth, is not productive in the strictest sense and has caused nothing but trouble for our nation and the world at large. The greed of short-sighted speculators has always caused more harm than good (I do mean ‘always’).

            As far as missing the point of the original article goes, where in my original post do I disagree with the assessment “that a govt created by the people to protect the people was eventually corrupted to benefit a monarchy, oligarchy?” My response to your post was directed at your claims regarding redistribution of wealth. While I have no knowledge of how you acquired your great fortune, I suspect it was not through your superior ability to personally produce and sell widgets.

            • Then you would suspect wrongly my dear antagonist.

              I did not miss your point. I suspected from your comment that you were just who you have proven yourself to be.

              Interesting concept, that those who fund enterprise are not entitled to any wealth from it because it was not achieved by their “labor”. Oh, but Mr. Flag pointed out so long ago that money is just a means to store our labor, for future use.

              And, apprarently only those who make widgets or do labor are entitled to earn wealth. Exactly what is your philosophical base for this grand argument??

              JAC

              • Chris Devine says:

                I did not say that those who fund enterprise are not entitled to any wealth. However I do think that funding something does not give you the right to extract the majority of of the proceeds. At best you should get a return of your initial investment plus a reasonable profit. Once your initial investment is paid back your entitlement to continued payments should be limited whereas those who continue to provide labor should keep what they have now earned.

                You put the cart in front of the horse. While funding may be somewhat necessary for the creation of wealth, it isn’t sufficient. You can however create something through labor without much funding.

                The problem I have is that at some point for those who have acquired large sums of wealth (whether it is through hard work, inheritance, or theft) further accumulation of wealth becomes possible without any useful contributions to society. The accumulation of wealth becomes an end in itself. This is greed. This I have a major problem with.

              • esomhillgazette says:

                Brother, what you are referring to is capitalism at it’s best! If I earned a fortune inventing somthing, it is MINE, not anyone else’s. They didn’t do the work and have no right to any of the profits! Especially some A-hole who just wants to sit on his ass for a hand out!

              • Chris Devine says:

                Feel free to live according to Ayn Rand’s philosophy. I myself cannot believe in ‘The Virtue of Selfishness.’

              • Black Flag says:

                The question is:

                Will you allow him to live by his belief?

            • There is a good point in there regarding inherited wealth. Thanks to the pro Nazi Grandpa Joe and insider trading, not a single member of the Kennedy family has had to have a real job since. I am almost tempted to go along with you just to end that.

              How about giving credit to hard work and drive for creating fortunes? You give it 8 hours a day, five days a week, I give it 12 hours a day six and a half days a week. I make more than you, I invest, I get rich (maybe). Government however treats us equally even though my base hourly income may be the same as yours, I get no credit for the extra hours and am taxed on the whole, not only at the rate you pay but at a higher bracket. Is fair?

              You will get nowhere on this blog promoting class envy. Too many smart folks here.

              • Chris Devine says:

                I’m not promoting class envy, I’m promoting class warfare. Or rather I’m suggesting that those who have been taken advantage of should fight back and stop accepting that being poor is necessarily their fault. There are plenty of people who work very hard to achieve nothing but a subsistence wage. But I’ve also worked sixty, seventy hours a week in the past to feed people who spend more time on the golf course or ski slopes than they do in any office or workshop.

                What the hell does Joe Kennedy have to do with anything? Charles Lindbergh and Henry Ford were pro-Nazi too.

                As far as being smart is concerned “nobody cares what you know until they know you care.”

              • First of all, if I didn’t care, I never would have taken that route in life that I did. perhaps I could have gone into arbitrage or bond trading or something instead of saving neighborhoods. “Nobody cares what you know until they know that you care” has to be one of the dumber things I have ever heard. Not that it will apparently matter to you but if you dismiss me as “uncaring” because I do not agree with you, then you miss the opportunity to ever learn what I know. This is also stupid.

                Joe Kennedy, whose pro-Nazi leanings are rarely pointed out (I always take the opportunity) created a family fortune, through means that probably would have impressed Halburton, that has allowed his children and their descendants to live very well and high on the hog without earning their daily bread. I threw him in to see if you would go for the bait. You did. As an advocate of class warfare, you should have jumped right in and condemned them. Since they are your natural allies though, I did not think you would. Instead you obfuscated.

                Touche!.

              • Chris Devine says:

                What bait? I still don’t know what the Kennedy’s have to do with any of this. I never said that you didn’t care because you disagree with me. I meant that ‘being smart’ or ‘having all the answers’ will never be enough to get people on your side as long as you are perceived as uncaring.

                You are right on one account, though. I do condemn anybody who relies upon inherited wealth to live a life of influence and comfort. That’s why I’m in favor of inheritance taxes.

              • Just started reading The Fair Tax book. According to its authors, France is experiencing a growth period due to a tax reform. Workers are taxed for the first 35 hours a week worked, any additional hours are TAX FREE.
                The previous ideal of the more you work, the more you are taxed didn’t work very well.

              • Chris Devine says:

                See where you fit on this graph:

                Notice that the only groups whose taxes would be reduced are those making less than $15k or over $200k a year. Everybody else would actually see their taxes increase.

                Still sound ‘fair?’

                Before you ask, this data was prepared by the Bush administration President’s Advisory Council.

              • Black Flag says:

                Nope,

                By no definition is ‘fair’ when the top 25% of income pays over 86% of the taxes.

                http://www.ntu.org/main/page.php?PageID=6

                But of course, there can never be a ‘fair’ tax.

                Regardless of what tax, it is a taking from those that earn to give to those that did not.

                There is nothing just about that.

              • Chris Devine says:

                There’s a reason the top 25% pay so much, they own 90% of the country.

                Taxes are our dues for living in a civilized society. If you benefit disproportionally you should pay accordingly.

              • Black Flag says:

                We pay for whatever benefit we consume – being forced to paying for someone else’s benefit is immoral.

        • Galileo says:

          Income redistribution is nothing new? That’s not much of an argument. If I said the government was murdering people would you say, ” Murder is nothing new.” ?
          What is the “great crime” commited by an NBA star from the hood who earns millions playing basketball? It seems to me he just has a skill other people are willing to pay him a lot of money for. What gives us the right to take his money and give it to someone else?

          • Chris Devine says:

            Disputing an introductory comment to my argument is not much of an argument either.

            I granted that one might reject all forms of income redistribution as unfair, but still agree that wealth acquired without producing anything of value is bad for the economy and society.

            • Amazed1 says:

              Chris,
              I work 16-18 hours a day…I get to work long before my employees and leave long after they go home. They go home play with their kids, go on uninterrupted vacations and do not have to answer the phone after hours. I on the other hand spend hours at night and on weekends going over contracts, talking with contractors and never get an uninterrupted vacation. I miss my kids ball games and most of my dinners are cold. I worry about having the money to fix the truck my employees wrecked or replacing the $100000.00 machine they just tore up. I pace the floors when people don’t pay and wonder how I will pay the light bill.
              Where do you get the idea that I am making my money off the backs of other? I hire people for a full days work at a fair wage….if they don’t want the work for the wage I offer there are hundreds waiting line. I have never made anyone one work for me.
              The vast wealth I have accrued will go to my kids…maybe they can take time to teach their kids to play golf and go to their kids ball games. The point is I worked for it, it is my wealth not yours. I started with just my knowledge and no money…you can start the same way. Don’t steal what I worked for and give it to people to lazy to work. It takes about 20-25 years of hard work, blood, sweat and tears to make a corporation. Someone at sometime worked alot of long hours to enjoy what they have now. I personally do not know anyone who who amassed a hugh fortune doing absolutley nothing.

        • Being a grandson of those coal miners of the early 1900’s, I can’t say that I completely disagree with your premise. You do however, paint with too broad a brush. I don’t know that Bill Gates committed a great crime. There were also, even in the coal region benevolent despots (the Packer family comes to mind)and Henry Ford paid his employees fairly(enlightened self interest).

          I think the income distribution we worry most about is mine to someone who could have made the same choices as I but did not. My parents were blue collar, my immigrant grandparents blue collar and I was the first in my family to go to college. Earned a scholarship because there was no other way.

          I have always had a penchant to “give back” to society. So, for the first 21 years of my working career. I worked in what is referred to as the inner city, Central Brooklyn, South Bronx, Northern Harlem. I was a government worker who actually has a list of physical accomplishments I can point to. When I left Civil Service, I continued, in the private sector doing what I had been doing but at a much lower cost and bigger bang for the buck. What I learned, up close and personal, is that there really are people “too dumb to live” as my Sr. Drill instructor used to say. They have made choices that boggle the mind.

          Now, if there were consequences to those choices they made, I would not mind but, the government on behalf of you and I has bailed them out too. Be it Food Stamps, welfare or Section 8 housing subsidies. The government ensured that their bad behavior is rewarded and will continue. Not that anyone seems to notice, but it is my understanding that the stimulus package/budget has totally undone all the reforms in welfare that the congressional class of ’94 accomplished. Like Newt or not, I got to see just how effective those reforms were. people who were third generation dead ended on welfare, grumbled and went to work and succeeded!

          When I worked in the bad old Bronx, I was fond of pointing out to my clueless suburban neighbors that no society can succeed that produces 43 year old great grandmothers. Yes, that means having one at thirteen who has one at thirteen who has etc. This is not a good thing.

          Society is always a work in progress. What was acceptable behavior fifty years ago is no longer today. Same for a hundred or two thousand. If you study history, create for a moment a time line in your head of recorded human history on the planet. Find for me that minuscule bit at the end where slavery has not been the norm. It is about 140 years long and there is, in my opinion, no certainty that its elimination is permanent.

          Having had a classical education with Greece and Rome at the center, we studied the strengths and weaknesses of the Roman system. Yes, the guys at the top ran the show, but you could progress to the top based on skill and of course luck. Rome also extended the privilege of “citizenship” to non Romans, now that was and still is somewhat unique.

          • Chris Devine says:

            If you call eating government peanut butter and cheese and living in subsidized housing a reward then I don’t know how to respond. Personally I think we do have a moral obligation to provide a base level of subsistence to people either unable or unwilling to provide for their own support. Eating food that you enjoy and living somewhere nice are rewards and are only the result of work (which isn’t to say that all who work enjoy these comforts).

            I have to disagree with anybody who asserts that the majority of people on welfare are shiftless or part of some perpetually-dependent underclass. All the records clearly show that the overwhelming majority of people on welfare are white single mothers who through little or no fault of their own find themselves in a compromising position. The death or abandonment by a spouse and source of income is what puts people like this on welfare. Even prior to the so-called welfare reform most of the people spent a maximum of two years on public assistance before finding their footing. Read Barbara Ehrenreich’s ‘Nickel and Dimed’ to get a sense of what I mean.

            You make some valid points regarding Rome and Ancient Greece. However, women were never allowed to participate and poor people rarely achieved the status of citizen.

            • Whoa!

              My friend, you should have come to the Bronx when I worked there. Section 8 substantial rehab or new construction would surprise you with the amenities provided (playgrounds, daycare, color tiled baths, oak kitchen cabinets, central air in some cases). Going to the local Key food or C-Town store and watching what the food stamps are used to redeem would surprise you too. It ain’t crackers and cheese. You could even do better in the local bodega’s where they could be used for Colt 45 malt liquor or Marlboros, at a discount of course. For an even greater discount they are redeemable for cash which then goes to the local heroin/coke dealer. You, like my surburban neighbors are clueless. Sometimes, you just have to get out there and experience it.

              Are people on welfare through no fault of their own? Of course, but that does not answer the 43 year old great grandmother question which is not a fluke nor aberration. If the Roman comparison is accurate then it is accurate in the sense that the Government needs a perpetually dependent underclass. Even the Roosevelt administration rejected giving welfare without work. It would create a sub class which it later did. Roman emperors got their needed support by throwing bigger and bigger games and giving out more and more bennies. Are we any different?

              Please re-read my comments on human society being a work in progress. Am I to condemn the Romans or Greeks because of female suffrage? The mere fact that any poor person could achieve the rank of citizen demonstrates a society that is progressing.

              • Thank you, SK. you said that so very well.

                You don’t have to go to the Bronx to see the all you mentioned.

                I have seen it in a small Midwestern town, a next door neighbor that had a baby then collected a check every month until the kid was well into the teenage years. The welfare only stopped then because of welfare reform.
                She had a live-in boyfriend, perfectly legal in regards to her “benefits”. They had the audacity to call the cops on us because my husband starting the car at 5:00 AM to go to work “was waking them up”. Anyone who says that the kid needed a parent in the home…not really, the grandparents lived 4 houses away and the kid was there most of the time anyway. Same deal a block down the street, the Mama had 4 kids by 4 different Dads. We have a Swan Ice Cream truck that makes regular stops in our area….kind of a high priced item, and also sells lots of overpriced convenience foods. She could be seen on the regular delivery day, loading her AND her kids arms with the products and hauling them in the house.
                There was no shortage of decent paying jobs, employers were begging for help at that time.

                So, SK…I know just what you mean, and I STRONGLY prefer not to see our “wealth” redistributed that way.

                Being “unwilling” to work, just doesn’t cut it for me…”unable” is a different story.

            • Chris

              You actually said “those who are UNWILLING to provide for their own support”? So I am to continue working 50-60 hour weeks to support people who could work, but chose not to? Well COMRADE, you just identified the one issue you and I will never agree on.

              Its funny that most of the old USSR has moved away from communism and is embracing free markets and fair and low taxes, and the economic growth that comes with it.

              Das vadanya

              • Chris Devine says:

                It’s not just you. It’s you and everybody else working together to support the least-well-off. I expect people to disagree with me on this point, however my feelings in this matter do not make me a communist or a fan of the USSR. I prefer to think of myself following the example of President Bush’s favorite political philosopher, Jesus Christ.

                As far as the former Soviet republics are concerned, I believe most of them have been taken over by the mafia due to the resulting power vacuum after we won the military spending war against them.

              • Jesus spoke of love and charity, not taxes and support systems. Government charity has no heart or love in it, and it is taken by force from the true owners of wealth. Without a heart, those being given help gain nothing but stuff, material things. There is no love in a government check, no help, no faith in humanity, no example of how to succeed in life. The one who is paying for the charity feels only resentment for having his wealth taken by force. There is no choice, no ability to see the hurt in his neighbor, no compassion, no ability to perceive who is in need and who is a fraud. Resources that could have been given to a worthy cause are wrenched away to be put into a heartless and inflexible system, which can be easily manipulated by the willing, while truly needy persons fail to get help because they don’t happen to “qualify”. Government “charity” is not charity at all, but a bastardized version that destroys both the wealthy and poor by hardening both their hearts.

                If you want the Biblical reason for avoiding welfare, here it is:
                “the man who will not work should not eat” (II Thessalonians 3:10)

              • Chris Devine says:

                We don’t live in a Christian theocracy. While you and many others may find it inspiring to use scripture to lead your personal lives, using scripture to justify public policy and legislation is unlawful and irresponsible.

                Don’t kid yourself as far as religious charity goes. There’s a great deal of hypocrisy and forced tithing going on in churches all over the US. Furthermore, limiting one’s charity to only those willing to convert or listen to your dogma isn’t charity, it’s coercion of vulnerable people.

                The point of using the government to fix this country is that it must adhere to laws and make its services available to all those in need regardless of creed, ancestry, nationality, sexual orientation ,etc.

              • USWeapon says:

                Some good points here Chris. I agree with your statement that “using scripture to justify public policy and legislation is unlawful and irresponsible”. I submit that it is just as unlawful and dangerous to justify public policy with campaign rhetoric and class warfare.

              • Chris Devine says:

                Both campaign rhetoric and class warfare are used by all (notice I didn’t say ‘both’) sides to justify everything including policy, votes, etc. What do you honestly propose to replace them with?

                Also, since when is it a crime to lie to your constituents? Unethical, yes. Problematic, yes. Illegal, not really. If caught you might be voted out of office or recalled, but unless you lie under oath or actually break some other law you’re not going to jail.

                The phrase ‘class warfare’ is also just another euphemism for awareness that competing interests exist based upon relative amounts of wealth and privilege. The problem I have with such euphemisms is that they are inordinately used by the ‘haves’ to justify unfair advantages against the ‘have-not’s.’

              • Chris, Big difference between unable and unwilling…

                When we continue to provide to those that are merely unwilling, we are doing more than creating a group of followers. We are robbing them of their dignity and their ability to “think”. When you always have someone (govt.) to tell you where to live, what to buy, how to live, you eventually lose the ability to help yourself. Best recent example: Katrina.

                Increasing social entitlements does not help the poor and powerless as you call them; it only makes them more poor and more powerless. When you start the level of income redistribution that this administration has already done and is proposing even more of, you de-incentive another whole group of people that strive to keep their heads above water – the working class. Now you have set the perfect table for government to be the do all-be all to everyone.

                That is dangerous and that is what most of here are against.

              • Chris Devine says:

                I would agree that by allowing the government to give billions of tax dollars to groups of people and encouraging them to become dependent on such handouts is counter-productive. That’s why I think that handouts in the form of sweetheart government contracts and pork-barrel projects for individuals and corporations providing large donations to political campaigns is bad public policy. This is where the majority of ‘welfare’ dollars are going. Subsidizing risk and bailing out banks and corporations due to failure resulting from the lack of real competition or regulation is the biggest problem facing our country.

                Do I think that some poor individuals abuse the public assistance programs? Of course I do. Do I think the majority of them do? No I don’t. Furthermore, as long as we keep concentrating on the little fish, Jaws is going to continue chewing away on our boat until we all sink.

              • LOI – am curious – much of what I have studied in relation to the former USSR is that the oligarchs largely control much of commerce that occurs in those nations. Capitalism it is not.

            • RWBoveroux says:

              Sir;

              “Personally I think we do have a moral obligation to provide a base level of subsistence to people either unable or unwilling to provide for their own support.” (Chris Devine)

              I would greatly agree with you that we (human beings, NOT THE GOVERNMENT) have a moral obligation to provide a base level of subsistence to people who are unable to work for themselves. However, my disagreement is even greater to those who expect me to give them something because they just exist. If that person is UNWILLING to get off their duff and get them means to what they need/want, then tough ta tas! This is something that we need to instill into our children if there is going to be any hope for our world.

          • SK.

            Agree with all you said. My understanding of the spendulous is the same. That is why several states are rejecting parts of it, that it would permanently expand their welfare roles even after the fed money plays out.

            One of my main issues is public housing projects. Many are self made hell holes. The people who live there trash their own complexes, and bitch that no one cleans up or fixes their mess. Had a friend who took over as director and cleaned house by enforcing the rules. Before him, 70% of the 911 calls were from there, after, you could walk down the street at 3am in perfect safety.

            Another Roman comparison. How many stadiums or sports complexes are built with taxpayers money? They always claim its to “stimulate” the local economy.

            • NYC, to my knowledge is the only US city to run a successful Public Housing program. While the cost is sickening, the program runs well because it never was political. There are political appointees but they are not in control. Most senior staff positions that run the places are Civil Service (many friends of mine worked there). Also NY, has something that they don’t talk about informally called “21 rules that will get you a crash landing”. To this day, current drug activity or a family member in prison will keep you out. In the ’60’s and’70’s Mayor Lindsay tried to revoke the rules and failed. Having an entire police force of it’s own, since subsumed into the Housing Bureau of the NYPD doesn’t hurt either.

              In the ’90’s most cities blew up their high rises and replaced them with low rise (as if that would accomplish something)NY never did. NY, believe it or not has rules and rules work.

        • Chris:

          Another thought on your use of income redistribution. Your argument rings of those used by my friends on the left. Changing the definition in mid stream to diminish the original premise.

          The examples you provided are not income redistribution and you know it. You know we are talking about Govt confiscation of property to be given to others, “for the good of the whole”. If we were to subscribe to your definition as presented then all transactions between people comprise redistribution of wealth. Thus, in your mind, validating the concept. Once validated in this manner it allows you to use the others position to defend your own.

          I recognize the trick and I hope others start to see it as well. The first step to protection from the dark arts is to recognize the wizard before he can play his magic against you.

          JAC

          • Chris Devine says:

            I am not equivocating in any sense. Income redistribution is by definition taking the earnings from one individual or group of individuals and giving it to another. As you should plainly see my examples fit this definition.

            Where is the difference between my examples and the government “confiscating” the tax dollars of the middle class and then giving them back to corporations in the form of subsidies or billion-dollar purchase orders? If you take the amount of money Halliburton was proven to have over-billed the government we could all have free health care of our own choosing.

            I’m not playing any tricks and I won’t fall for any either.

            • Well, if it was proven, then I guess we got it back. Then of course sophist, it wouldn’t be available for health care.

              • Chris Devine says:

                Are you calling me a sophist? After giving me a non sequitur like, “if it was proven, then I guess we got it back. Then…it wouldn’t be available for health care.”

                I’m not even sure what your trying to say there. But rest assured, I’m more of a gadfly like Socrates then a sophist like Gorgias.

              • Twisty, twisty.

                My old Websters defines Sophist as one who argues skillfully but evades the truth, a fallacious reasoner. Part of that is picking and choosing the points of the question you will answer.

                I will give you the last point, I was too quick on the draw, if we got it back, it would be available for healthcare, if we wanted to spend it. Did we?

              • Chris Devine says:

                It’s called endless litigation. Companies like Halliburton have the resources to tie up disputes like this for years and often end up paying back a fraction of what they owe. Millions in legal expenses are a drop in the bucket compared to admitting you were wrong and giving back what you stole. That’s called cost-benefit analysis.

                I will answer anything you ask. I will not avoid any question because I don’t like the answer I find. Feel free to explicitly show me where I rely on fallacious arguments in any case and I will admit I was wrong. Now and forever.

            • Chris: I do not believe you are beign vague either. You are either deliberately changing a definition or can not see your examples don’t fit the one you just restated.

              The key is “take”. Neither of your examples is taking from one to give to another. In the first the employee gives money for goods and services. Just because the provider is also the employer neither makes it immoral or a crime. In the second the farmer took out a loan and signed a contract with the bank. So by your argument the banker is taking when he demands the contract be met?

              You are playing tricks. If your comment is honest then you apparently don’t know the tricks you are using. That means you have learned them from others. So……..

              Once again I ask you…What is your underlying philosophy that supports your positions?

              • Chris Devine says:

                How is requiring someone to give everything he earns (at inflated rates) back to his employer to provide for himself not taking, especially when there is no chance for a competitor to provide such services?

                Furthermore, how is forcing a man to give his crops and livestock to absentee landowners instead of feeding them to his family or otherwise face eviction not ‘taking.’

                Either your knowledge of history or understanding of law and economics is flawed. Ever heard of a contract of adhesion? It’s when you give someone with no bargaining leverage a ‘take it or leave it’ contract. By law they’re unenforceable due to their unfair nature.

                My underlying philosophy is based upon the works of John Locke, John Rawls, et al. Read Locke’s, Two Treatises of Government, or Rawl’s, A Theory of Justice, to get some idea of where I stand.

                Anything else you want know?

        • USWeapon says:

          Chris,

          You said “The only problem that people like yourself has with Obama’s form of income distribution is that it takes from the rich and powerful and gives it to the poor and powerless.” I have to strongly disagree with that statement. The portion of income distribution you mentioned is not the ONLY problem that I have with it.

          Income redistribution is inherently wrong. In any forced form. You seem to fall into the trap of believing the class warfare statements of this administration. They aren’t taking the money from just the rich and powerful. They are taking it from everyone to redistribute wherever THEY want to distribute it. At what point is what you have not ours, but part of the collective?

          • Chris Devine says:

            Did you not see where I granted that it is possible to disagree with all forms of income redistribution? Yes they are taking the money from all taxpayers, but this doesn’t mean that you personally (or anyone else in a similar position) are going to be taxed extra to pay for it. I do favor making the rich pay more taxes (and redistributing their wealth) because they benefit more from the economy and should accordingly pay their fair share.

            You may have noticed that I said ‘wealth’ this time instead of ‘income.’ Do not misconstrue this as an attempt on my part to equivocate. Phrases like ‘income redistribution’ are already loaded terms (just like ‘the death tax’ et al.) which are carefully designed to garner support from the middle class in the class war against the poor. I don’t need this administration to tell me how to think regarding class warfare, I can think and see for myself. My thoughts on this matter predate this presidency as well as its successors.

            If you don’t like how THEY are spending our money then do your best to change that policy. Taxes are the dues that we all must pay to keep our country working. Individually you only pay out what you pay in.

            • Another problem with taxes – so many that don’t pay in at all.

            • USWeapon says:

              And the rich are not paying their fair share? The majority of all taxes are paid by the rich. A fact that many who espouse your beliefs always seem to miss. And yes I am personally going to be taxed extra for it. All of the poor are. See the sin taxes post from a couple of days ago.

              • Calf Roper says:

                Also Mr. Devine,

                How do you explain the fact that lower marginal income tax rates leads to INCREASED tax revenue for the government? Everyone seems to gloss over this point but it is proven time and again. This simple proven fact negates your entire argument. Sorry.

              • Chris Devine says:

                I’m sure what you just said seems obvious to you. I, on the other hand, have no idea where I mentioned anything regarding marginal tax rates or increased revenue or where your “proven fact” has any bearing on my argument whatsoever.

                Keep your red herring to yourself.

                My argument is that “redistribution of wealth” is just a perjorative euphemism for ‘transaction’ in the economical sense. I don’t care whether these transactions occur as taxes or purchases or any other way. However, the only time you hear phrases like ‘income redistribution’ or ‘death tax’ is when conservative politicians and pundits are trying to garner middle class support for measures that disproportionally benefit the upper class.

        • USWeapon says:

          Chris, you stated “However, once you realize that people don’t get rich through hard work alone you will see that being rich doesn’t mean you necessarily deserve to be.” Wow, that statement says a lot. It is the victim’s mentality, I am not rich, therefore those who are must have had some evil upper hand that I didn’t have. So they should give it back to me.

          On the other hand you are right, it isn’t hard work alone that has made people rich. Intelligence, the ability to take risks, organizational skills, capital investment raising skills, all of these go into the process. Does that mean that there aren’t folks who did it the dirty way? Absolutely not. But to simply characterize the way that you have is one of the main problems in this country. It assumes an evil plan that you are not a part of.

          You are right there. There is an evil plan that you are not a part of. It is being carried out in Washington right now.

          • Well stated USW!

          • Chris Devine says:

            What is wrong with recognizing that you are a victim? Would you tell someone who was mugged to not feel like a victim? I contend that there IS an evil upper hand that makes people rich. Perhaps those who are in the merchant class don’t fit the bill, but I guarantee that most of the CEO’s and boards of directors getting golden parachutes and unearned bonuses look pretty much like crooks to me.

            With your comment I’ll now go even further: “Intelligence, the ability to take risks, organizational skills, capital investment raising skills,” in addition to hard work and luck still make no guarantee of success. However, seeing something that you want and using your influence and power to take it is as close to a guarantee as you’ll get. Doing so with impunity like most of the super-rich in this world do is what really irks me.

            • USWeapon says:

              We aren’t talking about being mugged. So don’t use something like that with an emotional undertone to attempt to make your point. It won’t work here. I ask you how many of the super rich do you know? And where is the line of super rich versus just rich? Because I know quite a few… good people worth say, 50 million, who didn’t do anything illegal or anything that would warrant them looking like crooks. That is what I meant by falling for the class warfare trap. And for the record the class warfare game predates you completely, so that point earlier about you believing that before it was ever a political issue is bulldookey. Your comments show that you ARE a class warfare guy. You have seen a few CEO’s getting golden parachutes and think that it applies to the vast majority of the wealthy. You have been trained to think that anyone who succeeds had an upper hand that you weren’t given. And that because of that they should pay for those that didn’t get the boost.

              The problem is that they are already paying the majority of the taxes in America. Yet you want more. Someone who collects welfare and food stamps is suffering and we have to save them. Interesting how many of those folks have an XBox in their home, $100 sneakers, and $150 jerseys to wear. It seems to me they are their own worst enemy. But you are afraid to tell them to shape up, so you instead argue that they should get a bigger piece of the pie that they didn’t help to bake.

              • USW,

                Excellent!

                Chris,

                What a leap, that everyone that ends up well off, somehow:

                1) Didn’t earn it honestly

                2) Doesn’t deserve to keep it

                3) Should become a victim of theft by a Robin Hood government

                So Chris…to you my Grandma that was a widow and raised 3 kids by buying a farm in the great depression (with a milk cow and $100 as a down payment) and through hard work, farming that land with a team of horses all by herself, but in later years invested the farm profits in other businesses she ALSO ran…and died a very wealthy women…she should give what, say about 50% in taxes to provide for those less ambitious? Do I have that right?

                Oh, don’t worry, her estate was taxed heavily, at 50%.

              • Chris Devine says:

                You’ve made quite a few leaps there yourself. I never said everybody who is well off didn’t earn it honestly. However I do maintain that the rich don’t get that way merely through hard work. Luck definitely plays a factor. In addition, the laws in this country are set up in favor of the wealthy. This creates a self-perpetuating system whereby the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. There are exceptions on both sides but for the most part upward mobility is a myth.

                Since the laws are in favor of those in power it is necessary to put checks in place to ensure that unfettered accumulation of wealth doesn’t destroy the middle class.

                Regarding your Robin Hood comment, why is it OK for corporations and wealthy individuals to use their influence and power to manipulate the supposed free market to their advantage, effectively stealing from the poor to feed the rich?

                As far as your grandmother is concerned, I’m glad to hear that she worked hard and succeeded in life, but she is probably the exception rather than the rule. What would you say to the multitudes who worked hard and failed through no fault of their own?

                Also, I’m curious how you expected her to spend all that wealth after she passed away. Would you have buried the other 50% with her? Why should her descendants get a free ride on her hard work? I suspect she would want you to work hard yourself rather than live a life of idle pleasure off of hers.

                People should stop believing in some mythical Cadillac-driving welfare queen and all her illiterate drug-abusing offspring. All the quaint anecdotes I hear about the shiftless guys you know or that lazy family down the block do not prove anything. Look at the actual numbers.

                The fact remains that the amount of revenue given to corporations and wealthy individuals in the form of tax breaks and subsidies are multitudes higher than the amount spent on public assistance for the poor. If you want to stop unnecessary government spending you can start by putting a tourniquet on the severed extremities and stop worrying about the nose bleed caused by welfare queens.

              • USWeapon says:

                Chris,

                My replies have been moved below. Too hard to read them at this point. They are comment #19.

    • USWeapon says:

      Chris,

      Welcome. I am glad that you have finally had the chance to come on over and check out the site. I was hoping that you would. In truth I like to have a differing opinion such as yours here.

      But I have to warn you. Waxing poetic on a facebook note it easy to do when the only replies you get will be those who know you and agree with your sentiments. A much tougher thing to do when surrounded by intelligent folks who have the ability to intelligently tear apart your premise. I hope that you will last and continue to come and debate here, but I am not encouraged that it will happen. Only a couple true liberals have come and stayed for any length of time. They usually realize there are no lemmings and move on to where their ideas will be better received and not challenged.

      It is a shame that this is the case. So as I said I have read your notes on facebook. You seem to be well thought out and well read on your topics. So I hope you will stay. You may learn some things from these smart folks. We may all learn some things from you.

      • Chris Devine says:

        I’ll take anything anybody has to throw at me. Don’t think I have any worries about being the only one on my side. It won’t be the first time. I worked for the DoD for most of my adult life and had plenty of opportunities to dispute the arguments of people who thought they could get the better of me through sheer numbers. I am quite capable of defending my side without resorting to knee-jerk cliches or half-cocked ideas. Consistency and a firm grasp on logic and reason have gotten me pretty far in this life.

        As far as those who have come before me I can only suspect that there is only so much you can do to get others to listen. Sometimes there comes a point when you have to prioritize and pick your battles. I’d be almost certain that those who were here didn’t shrink into some hole and cower or suddenly have an epiphany followed by a complete conversion. Most likely they moved on to battles they thought they could win, but are still fighting the good fight. I’m perhaps a bit more stubborn than most, but who knows?

        • USWeapon says:

          It isn’t about battles you can’t win, it is about fighting the battles with logic and reason. I think I can honestly say that this site is not littered with idealists. These folks have their opinions, for sure, but are certainly open to learning where they are wrong. A study of past posts and comments will show you that. All of those that you have been engaging with this morning are folks who will submit at any point if a logical argument is well stated and makes sense. Unfortunately for those in the past, these same folks will never back off when the argument uses any circular logic or improper premises.

          I don’t doubt your ability to last if you choose to. But I suggest a different frame of mind that goes along with the way the site works. We are not all here to tear apart your argument or prove to one another that “I am right”. We are here to find the best path forward for this country. Surely that will mean some ideas from the left and the right and the middle. We are willing to accept your ideas too, if you make us see how they benefit the country or move us forward.

          The one thing that never works is the political talking points of the two big parties. We have all seen through them and no longer accept them as true. It will take historical context and pure logic to sway an opinion here. You will find that every night I post an article. And every day I come in to read where my logic gets torn apart and dissected. I learn a lot from these folks taking the time to do so. I would like to think that they also learn a lot by doing the same.

          Given your propensity for writing articles on facebook notes, might I suggest that you take a few topics that you are passionate and knowledgeable about and formulate an article or two for the site. As you can see I like to take the articles from my readers and give them a voice and open the ideas up for debate. I have plenty of conservative voices, and certainly a very well established anarchist voice in BlackFlag, but no liberal voice. Should you choose to do so you simply have to send me the article via email and I publish one a week from readers.

          • USW and Chris,
            That’s what makes this site so good. Very good dialogue about certain issues, always showing respect for another point of view and not resorting to name calling and insults…..thank you!

    • Richmond Spitfire says:

      Folks,

      Ironic, but perhaps the “Best Course of Action Is…Nothing?”, specifically BF’s stance in this case.

      Gadfly:

      1: any of various flies (as a horsefly, botfly, or warble fly) that bite or annoy livestock
      2: a person who stimulates or annoys especially by persistent criticism

  6. Excellent article!!!

    I have been thinking the same thing for years, watching our culture erode while America shrugs and goes back to their soap opera. And all of us here wonder why the majority of the country doesn’t seem to get it, that when Pelosie gives welfare and social security to ILLEGAL immigrants, she is giving away our country, and our children’s future. The left’s agenda is nothing but buy and appease the masses to gain and keep power.

    • On the other hand, the same medium that gives us those soap operas, also gives us massive amounts of information, on which to develop our opinions.

      Without TV, would the average person even know who Pelosie is, let alone what her agenda is? Would she get the opportunity to make an a** of herself in front of the whole country? LOL…

      Think about this: How might our country be different today, had we had TV and the internet for the past 200 years? 100 years?

      Would the masses have been so easy to push around? Have we finally woken up to take advantage of the diversity of information at our disposal? Are many newspapers folding because they are no longer relevant, their once “in the know” staffs found to be lacking in objectivity and fairness? Their filtering of information manipulated to sway the masses?

      Questions for another day:)

      • Dee,

        You have obviously never had the misfortune of being the “lead” story on the 7 O’Clock news during sweeps week. Trust me you don’t want to be. I am glad we didn’t have TV 200 years ago. First, I don’t think we would be a country, second I don’t think we would have stayed a country. Third, we never would have gotten west of Pennsylvania.

        In the old days if you wanted to learn something you had to work at it (I still love libraries). Today, turn to CNN or NBC and they will do all your thinking for you.

        My Dad had a tenth grade education and yet was the smartest man I ever knew because he read, everything. He made up his mind for himself. While I agree that the internet is a wonderful tool (thank God for Al Gore), it’s really a big library, The drivel that comes over the idiot box is a substitute for thinking.

        • Chris Devine says:

          A minor note:

          Al Gore never claimed to have invented the internet. However he and other members of congress were instrumental in converting it from a DoD communications network (DARPANet) to one available to the public, their rationale being that it was designed and built using public funds and as such should be available to all.

      • Dee

        I think those are great questions for that day to come.

  7. Peter B:

    Thank you for the great article and thank you US for publishing it. If others have well constructed ideas on the topic at hand I like the idea of reading them.

    JAC

  8. On a slightly facetious note, yes, it was all television’s fault.

    In thinking back to when crime took over the city streets that I grew up on, I noticed a curious correlation between the closure of the neighborhood movie theater and the proliferation of “riot gates” on storefronts. Thinking about it I realized that in the ’30’s, ’40’s and ’50’s, even on weekdays, people, like my parents, routinely went to the movies for entertainment. After the movie, they grabbed a bite to eat and hung around waiting for the bulldog edition of the newspaper to be dropped off. In that time they spoke to and interacted with friends and neighbors. Older folks, parked their lawn chairs in front of their buildings
    and treated the sidewalks as their front porches.

    Once TV hit big in the mid to late ’50’s, that whole world seemed to change. Why go out? TV is free , right? You don’t need a newspaper anymore, the 7PM and 11PM newscasts take care of that. Well, the businesses that thrived on movie theaters closed early and the miscreants took over the streets. Old people became targets and the number of locks on apartment entry doors grew exponentially.

    Getting back on topic and trying to weave the above into the thread, the electronic revolution has created our circuses. We do not even have the benefit of sitting side by side and interacting in the arena. If you are in a crowded store today and trying to guide your way between folks, if you even say “excuse me” you seem to get a dirty look. People are no longer use to interrelating. Talking to a stranger, even the excuse me, is intruding on their space. Everywhere you go, the cell phone appendage is attached, soon, no doubt, they will be implanted. People cannot be alone, not even for a minute. In “1984” Orwell more or less predicted this. Those big screens with big brother on them were as close to human contact as people would come. That image last night of the President on the news, taking questions from a European audience was frightening. Those folks had no connection to each other but thought they had a connection to Obama. This does not bode well for the future.

    • SK,

      I grew up in the `50’s. I remember those times,the Saturday matinee at the local theater and then going to the soda shop afterwards. We did that as a family. Then as the `60’s wore on, after Kennedy was killed, the drug revolution began in full swing and the only thing people began to think about was themselves. Crime went through the roof. People lost touch with other people, then we let our responsibilities be legislated away from us – parental responsibilities are the most noted – and now it seems that everyone only cares about their own little microcosm world. We want only what pertains personally to us, and the next guy is on his own.

      Today, with this Internet connection, we have a chance to get back some of what being personable was all about. With the advent of the Tax Day Tea Party’s, with all of those people getting together for a single concern, perhaps we can start the healing. Perhaps we can drop this class distinction that the liberals have used to separate us and return to what we used to have back then. People interacting with people, and not just playing games together on computers.

      Those of us who attend church on Sunday’s do so mostly for the interaction (fellowship) with other human beings in my neck of the woods, rather than for the religious message although the latter seems to be more of a need to most now days(ref; the shooting tragedies this weekend and of late across the country).

      • I agree, those of us who still believe in interaction, should continue and teach our children. The beats back in the ’50’s may have actually had something when they talked about the feelings of isolation and alienation from society as a whole.

        I don’t know if there is a way to prevent that. When things are bad, people tend to stick together (think Grapes of Wrath). When things are good, then we become selfish and contemplative of our navels.

        After I got the news on September 11th, I stopped by my church. Surprisingly the doors were open and other folks were there, not something you normally see around here. Adversity begets the desire to link with others and something greater.

        My point about electronic media, starting with TV, is that it gives you a false sense of belonging. There was this older woman who with her husband, ran a small hobby shop here in town. While he dealt with the customers, she sat behind the counter, eyes glued to the boob tube. She actually interacted with it. She talked to it, agreed and disagreed with it. It was one of the more pathetic things I have ever seen. I used to laugh at my aunt and her addiction to the “stories” (soap operas) in the afternoons. I don’t laugh anymore. One of the reasons I think this society has so much bad behavior, is that role models are no longer Joe the cop, Frank the barber,Pete the fireman or Harry the teacher but some wise ass thug on the TV. Reality and fantasy are becoming interchangeable.

        • esomhillgazette says:

          SK, I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s. The adults spent a lot of time on the front porch or sitting in the front yard under shade trees talking with family and friends, while us kids played in the woods and yard. There wasn’t game consoles or cable TV, and we weren’t allowed in the house in the daytime anyhow (in the spring and summer). Life was simple. When your parents told you to do something, you did it. if you didn’t, you got your butt busted. We were poor, but so was everyone around us. My dad worked for everything we had. No govt handouts. No help from anyone but ourselves. In the Jimmy Carter Socialism era, we almost lost everything we had. But we still never thought anyone “Owed” us anything. Especially the govt. We made it with a little help from family, (who were pretty poor themselves) and what little work daddy and mama could find. My childhood I feel is what has made me the responsible man and parent I am today. We didn’t hate those who had more money than us and certainly didn’t think they should have given money to take care of us! That is one reason I have a serious problem with Chris Devine’s point of view. The Constitution guarantees you the “Opportunity” to live your dreams and get rich, not the guarantee. And spreading the wealth to those unwilling to even try is against everything and every value I hold dear. I don’t have to worry because I am a long way from rich. But I do have family that is at least wealthy if not rich who ALL fought scapped and worked for what they have. I wouldn’t accept money from them if they offered it. I, don’t expect any one to spread their wealth, no matter how they came by it.

  9. The mainstream media wouldn’t do it. So we are trying to get important messages to the American people. This post is a suggested read at, http://aresay.blogspot.com/

  10. “However I do think that funding something does not give you the right to extract the majority of of the proceeds. At best you should get a return of your initial investment plus a reasonable profit. Once your initial investment is paid back your entitlement to continued payments should be limited whereas those who continue to provide labor should keep what they have now earned.”

    Chris, Have you ever started or run a business where it was your idea, your risk-taking, your investment of time and money that started it?

    • USWeapon says:

      Furthermore Chris, Who is supposed to determine what a reasonable amount of profit is? If I fund it I get the profits. Period. How is that wrong? Those that “produce” in your argument are offered the prospect of a fair deal. I will pay you x dollars to produce x product. They can either accept or reject the deal. If our labor was forced labor at the point of a gun, your argument would hold weight.

      Perhaps the question you should be asking yourself is not why does the person with the idea and funding get a massive profit. Perhaps instead you should be asking why the government should get a single penny of any of this money? Why do people who had no part in the funding, idea, or production think that they are entitled to anything?

      • Chris Devine says:

        I’d like to refer you to my above comment regarding contracts of adhesion. Giving somebody with no bargaining leverage a ‘take it or leave it’ contract is not fair and unenforceable under US law. There are worse ways of forcing someone to do something besides holding a gun to his head. Making him choose between safe working conditions and feeding his family or making her choose an underpaid job to pay for someone to take care of her children instead of letting her care for them herself are perfect examples. Both examples happen everyday.

        Regarding your last comment, ever read anything by Robert Nozick? Read “Anarchy, State and Utopia.” You’ll love it (seriously).

        • USWeapon says:

          And I will grant you that those things happened in the past. But in today’s information age they are not nearly as possible. Surely there are still some instances, but not nearly as often as before.

          I have not read his stuff, I will pick it up when I next go to the book store. The last trip the other day cost me over $150, so it may be a month or so. I went a bit overboard after not having much time to read the last couple of years. Now that I have time to do so again, I am very excited to be back in the books I want to read instead of have to read.

          • Chris Devine says:

            That stuff happens today. A lot. The more desperate people are to find work the more likely they are to put up with breaches of US labor laws. Wal-Mart is one of the worst (and biggest) offenders. Read Barbara Ehrenreich’s ‘Nickel and Dimed’ if you get a chance.

            • If we shut the damn border and repatriated the 12 million or so illegals( as Eisenhower did with an admittedly smaller number), labor would be at a premium. Workers would have more options. Of course we would have to pay a bit more for things and forgo that fifth television in the laundry room or the cruise to Bimini.

              • Chris Devine says:

                Companies like Wal-Mart and GM are going to continue to ship those jobs overseas regardless of the undocumented immigrant problem here in the US. As long as we reward these companies by giving them our money they will continue to abuse its influence to accumulate vast amounts of wealth for a few knuckleheads in Bentonville, Arkansas or Detroit.

              • Kristian says:

                If the government would stop taxing these large corporations to death they wouldn’t move overseas. If you were a corporation and you had a choice to pay 38% of your profits in taxes or 11% in another country, what would you do? I know what I would do, I’d move my business to the country where I’m going to pay less taxes. Then that profit could be passed on to my employees and myself. The whole point of being in business is to make money, isn’t it? Since when did it become a bad thing to be successful? I don’t understand that mindset. As far as the mythical welfare queen, let me assure you she is alive and well and collecting those checks. I see them all the time, driving around in their fancy cars and nice clothes going to collect those food stamps and those AFDC checks. They have time to get their hair and their nails done, they have time to go out to the club and God knows they have time to go out and get knocked up again. Why do I or anyone else who works 40 hours a week for a paycheck, that does not by any stretch of imagination cover everything that you need it to cover, have to pay for this person? If my husband and I can go out and do what we need to do to take care of our family why can’t they?

              • Chris Devine says:

                So it’s OK if a corporation moves its jobs overseas to avoid those pesky labor, environmental, and tax laws? If those companies want to profit here in America they should do so under our rules.

                The point is not to make loads of profits, the point is to do so in a way that doesn’t demean and destroy us all in the process. It’s called fair play.

              • Kristian says:

                They are in business to make money, not be fair. Life isn’t fair! The Constitution doesn’t say anything about fair, neither do any of the other founding documents as far as I know. I could be wrong about that.

              • Chris Devine says:

                What is wrong with fairness? It seems like a pretty admirable thing to shoot for. The constitution doesn’t say anything about airplanes or tv, but we have the FAA and FCC.

              • USWeapon says:

                I have moved this down to start a new comment thread. Too tough to read at this point. My reply is below.

          • Black Flag says:

            Au contraire!

            Wal-Mart is a Saint!

            Wal-Mart deserves the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize.

            CONSIDER THAT WAL-MART:

            – Provides employment to 1.9 million people; the best defence against poverty is a job.

            – Creates thousands of job opportunities for people in developing countries like China and India; this keeps hunger at bay in many households.

            – Doles out hundreds of millions of dollars each year in dividends that help fund the retirement of millions of people; the company had sales in excess of $348 billion and a net profit of $11.3 billion in 2007.

            – Sells food, clothing and other necessities to Canadians, Americans and others at prices that are 15 to 25 per cent below what other supermarkets charge; this helps millions of low-income families stretch their dollars.

            – Pushes the inflation rate down and helps keep interest rates low; this comes in handy for millions of families when borrowing to buy a house or household appliances.

            – Disburses $415 million in cash and in-kind merchandise annually to 100,000 charitable organizations around the world.

            – Pursues environmental sustainability; sells more organic produce than most retailers; works with the Clinton Foundation to lower prices on sustainable technologies such as energy-efficient lighting and building materials; has opened the first in a series of high-efficiency stores that will use 20 per cent less energy than a typical Wal-Mart. And its proposed Vancouver, Canada store is more environmentally friendly than any building in the Lower Mainland.

            All of this was made possible by Wal-Mart’s innovations.

            The retail business is characterized by large inventories, big sales volumes and a thin profit margin. That means retailers must reduce the cost of holding inventory, so efficient warehousing and transportation becomes critical.

            A recent publication from Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania suggests that the key to efficiency at Wal-Mart is its distribution.

            The retailer integrated its data systems with those of its suppliers. This allows the company to watch what items are selling. This in turn allows the firm to keep inventory costs down, and vendors produce only what’s moving fast. Estimates suggest that almost 70 per cent of Wal-Mart’s merchandise is sold before the company has to pay the supplier.

            Improving business productivity is the sure-fire way of increasing living standards. Ask any economist of repute.

            While Wal-Mart’s primary intent is not to do all the aforementioned social good, what it has done and is doing is raising the living standards of millions of families around the world.

            So if we are concerned about consequences and not just intentions, doesn’t Wal-Mart deserve the peace prize?

            “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways,” Karl Marx said, “the point, however, is to change it,” Wal-Mart has done more to change the world for the better than most anti-Wal-Mart do-gooders in North America ever have or could.

            The company that Sam Walton established in 1962 in Arkansas is not without its flaws.

            Critics allege that Wal-Mart doesn’t pay a “living wage” or provide health care. As well, they claim that the company puts many independent small retailers out of business and destroys communities.

            Wal-Mart pays an average wage of $10 in North America and 90 per cent of its American employees have health coverage. In the past few years, Wal-Mart has been named the best employer in Canada. So much so for exploiting workers.

            There is not much evidence that Wal-Mart puts mom-and-pop operations out of business. In fact, studies demonstrate that if shopowners adapt to the ever-changing retail market, they can thrive after Wal-Mart comes to their town.

            As to the charge that it destroys communities, how come towns like Cranbrook in British Columbia and Miramichi in New Brunswick have petitions with 3,000 and 11,000 people respectively urging the company to set up shop?
            Last, but not least, Wal-Mart is able to provide low-priced goods because the company is positively parsimonious. Its executives fly cattle-class, share low-priced hotel rooms and empty their own trash. Every penny saved ends up in the pockets of customers, many of them on low incomes.

            How much more saintly can a corporate entity get?

            • Chris Devine says:

              Peruse this website and see if your claims for a Wal-Mart Nobel prize still seem reasonable:

              http://walmartwatch.com

              This is a source I consider reliable and honest. I suspect you will disagree and accuse me of being naive or gullible. If so, please don’t bother trying to discuss much with me. I’m not really interested in butting heads.

              • esomhillgazette says:

                If he doesn’t, I sure will Chris. NO company is perfect. My Company went out of business (buying and selling new and Used computers) because I couldn’t compete with WalMart. But Where I built and sold maybe 20 NEW computers a year, They bought them by the truckload. I can’t hold that against them! I also repaired computers, just couldn’t do that fast enough to pay overhead and still make a living. WalMart is a major source of jobs in my community. If you’re looking for a perfect company, try the government. I’m sure thay’re the perfect employers.

              • Chris Devine says:

                The only thing Sam Walton can be praised for is his ability to recognize a good idea and use it himself. By linking his inventory with his supply chain Wal-Mart made great advances in efficiency. Good for them.

                I have no problem with competition, but when a single firm gains enough power and influence to change the rules of the game to benefit only itself then we’re not really talking about competition, we’re talking about conquest (for lack of a better word).

                Wal-Mart, with its huge amount of capital and resources (acquired for the most part unfairly), uses its influence to bully its suppliers, competitors, employees, communities, etc. I have no problem with success, but when it is the result of bending, ignoring or skirting the rules that success hardly seems fair.

                Economies of scale will always provide a competitive edge with lower fixed costs and more available resources. However, when those advantages are used in such a way as to take a short-term loss for the sake of drowning your competition you can hardly consider that fair.

                What I advocate is fair play and a level playing field. Success should be rewarded as long as it is a result of fairness not ruthlessness.

                BTW, I worked for the federal government for a long time. They are a pretty good employer but the pay is a bit behind the curve in comparison to the private sector. Granted the benefits are good (which is why the jobs are desirable) but it has its flaws. But since any bureaucracy (public or private) is a human endeavor the key is to continually reform the process.

            • Black Flag says:

              Of course you aren’t.

              You offer a biased site, throw it in the air, and run!

              Nice argument, sir!

              • Chris Devine says:

                Where do you get your figures and arguments? Wal-Mart? Wall Street Journal, Fox News, CNN? You must get them from somewhere. Provide them and I’ll happily point out their bias as well. Bias is a given, but as long as you can document your sources (like the source I suggested does) then you can take into account all of that information when making up your mind on a subject.

                I didn’t run. I’m still here. I just prefer to discuss matters with those who will listen to reason. Some may think I pick my battles based on somebody else’s talking points. I’m here to tell you I don’t.

                I rarely watch television except for comedies and Discovery channel stuff. I am no big fan of the MSM and think I’ll get a fair amount of support here in that regard. My thoughts and opinions are based upon reading across the spectrum and choosing for myself what makes the most sense.

                I am not a knee-jerk liberal nor am I a doe-eyed supporter of the Obama administration. My support for this administration begins and ends where it overlaps with my own perspective of the world.

    • Chris Devine says:

      I write for a living. Everything I do is a result of my ideas, my risk-taking, my investment of time and money.

      Any more questions?

      • Do you hire others for research, editing, distributing or do you hire outside help that enables you to work (ie, daycare). If so, how much of your profit are you willing to share with them since they are providing the labor that enables you to perform?

        • Chris Devine says:

          Likewise I do all that stuff myself besides hire distributors. I do all my own research, editing and I take care of my two boys full time.

          How far do you want to take this line of reasoning?

      • Curiosity forces me to ask . . . Can you provide a small list (examples, if you wish) of what you have had published?

        • Chris Devine says:

          I appreciate your curiosity. However, I write under a pseudonym and would prefer to keep my professional life separate from my personal life. I consider politics to be a hobby (as well as a duty) and don’t care to mix business with pleasure. Rest assured my writings have no bearing on this topic.

          • Fiction, non-fiction, science fiction?

            None of the above?

            My hobby is science fiction. Many short stories, never been published. One started many years ago as a short story, but just seems to have no end.

            Politics is not a hobby for me, I seem to have unintentionally made it my duty. Don’t like Marxists or anything close to that ilk.

            In my humble opinion, the currant administration is headed up by a Marxist who has surrounded himself with like minded Marxists. This is not good for my country.

            • Chris Devine says:

              My least favorite question when I worked at a book store during college was, “where is the non-fiction section?” I felt like grabbing whoever asked it by the collar and saying, “See that sign ‘fiction?’ Everywhere but there.”

              For money I write fiction. For pleasure I write non-fiction.

              While I disagree with your assessment of the Obama administration as Marxist, I also doubt that our country ever was or will ever be considered strictly capitalist according to Adam Smith (nor should it be). Capitalism is amoral, meaning that the profit motive by itself does not take ethical concerns into account. It is our job as citizens and constituents to ensure that the profit motive doesn’t intrude on the other values we hold just as dear. Would you let a hard-working man starve if he failed through no fault of his own?

              The reason I believe it is the government’s duty to intervene in these matters is because it must obey the rule of law. Private charitable organizations, while admirable in many respects, can pick and choose who they want to help without regard to the law. Take a trip to Utah and see all the LDS employment centers, etc. They’ll help you as long as you join their club. Charity with such conditions is hardly charity.

  11. Black Flag says:

    I think guest posts are a great idea. If USWep acts as publisher – ensuring that the posts aren’t a personal rant of rubbish (which I doubt any will be!) – it would be a great opportunity for many of the articulate blogg’rs here to have the soap box to expose – without interruption – a piece of their mind and thinking.

    I, for one, still want USWep to post too! We’re here because of the thoughtful concepts he keeps kicking around and that essence is necessary here.

    • I second the motion.

      Oooops, that darn voting thing again, I can’t for the life of me get out of that habit, B.F….

    • Black Flag says:

      Voting for something is not a crime!

      But if it masks an intention, and creates an illusion that commits people to an action, then its a bad problem.

    • USWeapon says:

      Thanks for the support BF. Rest assured I won’t be shutting up any time soon. I so enjoy you ripping my arguments apart, LOL

  12. While Halburton may be able to engage in endless litigation, so does the government have that ability. Yesterday I wrote of a personal experience where a friend and employer was targeted, unfairly, by the government and their full resources were aimed at him. While they never broke his spirit, they did break him financially. The government could have picked up David Koresh while he jogged instead, they precipitated a war.

    Any legal tool any citizen uses to counter the power of government should be applauded, not condemned. Ultimately, if they were crooks they will be found out and they will be fined.

    I do ask you to keep in mind one thing though. Twenty or so years ago, my brother in law worked for the firm that charged the Navy $ 600.00 for the “toilet seat”. When I found this out, I took the opportunity to have some fun with him. Good natured ribbing. He didn’t think it was all that funny since he was a purchasing agent. What he pointed out to me was that it was not a toilet seat and not off the shelf. It was a molded, contoured unit. The molds had to be specially manufactured and the order was for 20. At $ 600 each, Grumman, I believe, lost money. What you never heard in the MSM was that they produced an additional 40 or 50 to keep handy. Several years later, the Navy needed more. Grumman was able to supply them at the same $ 600 per rather than the several thousand dollars it would have then cost to again create new molds. Government specs are a bitch.

    • The above is for Chris, somehow was not able to reply further up.

      • USWeapon says:

        SK,

        At some point the threads get too thin to read. I like the new concept of threading that is available as it allows a specific conversation to be contained. But this part of it getting too thin is somewhat annoying. I am debating turning the feature off and going back to the old way.

        • RWBoveroux says:

          Please do not US. I personally like it because it makes it easier for me to follow a conversation as well as respond to a specific point.

        • Black Flag says:

          Yes, it is annoying as they get deep-threaded…BUT…I simply restart the thread down lower.

          It does help a lot to follow arguments – and helps me not to have to re-quote everyone who posted prior to me.

          So, I’m getting used to it, and it does help a bit.

    • Chris Devine says:

      I worked at Edwards AFB for close to a decade watching how government contracts slowly bled our country dry. Furthermore, my mother is now retired after being a contracting officer for the US Army for many years. I’m neither ignorant about the difficulty of adhering to a government contract nor am I stupid enough not to believe that many defense contracts have more to do with pork barrel spending than national security.

      • Ah ha, at last points of agreement. As a former NYC worker, I too had the opportunity to monitor outside contracts. It’s not just weapons, it’s everything. When I left NYC in 1989, the City was approving $ 89,000 per dwelling unit to renovate vacant apartment buildings through Section 8. When I went, a month later to privately financed projects as a Construction Manager I was bringing them in at $ 35,000 per unit. True, we did not do all the bells and whistles but I never saw the need for replacing walls and floors and joists where there was nothing wrong with them.

        Another of my brother in laws beefs. When Grumman had the contract for the F-14 simulator which never left the ground, the Navy insisted on titanium bolts. He showed them how an off the shelf steel bolt would save a small fortune, they demanded he use the titanium. Ultimately he too left the business.

        Pork barrel spending? Yes always and everywhere. It’s just that I think the defense side of it gets singled out for abuses when a good audit would show the same problems in every agency. Ever try to build a school?

    • esomhillgazette says:

      SK, you said “Government specs are a bitch.” As someone who has worked on govt contracts, I 110% agree. A bigger nitpicker you will never find. Take for instance, in Obama’s Stimulus Plan, all those “shovel ready projects” are going to require Union or Union pay scale wages. Think how much that will add to the costs of these projects. From what i’ve seen so far, Obama is OWNED by the Unions.

  13. Black Flag says:

    Chris Devine

    I think you miss my point in that retained wealth not created by your own labor should be a crime.

    Wealth is property.

    Therefore you are making property ownership a crime.

    Manipulation of market forces for individual or institutional profit, while being an excellent way of accumulating wealth, is not productive in the strictest sense and has caused nothing but trouble for our nation and the world at large.

    I do not need your permission to dispose of my property in any manner I see fit. It is not yours to judge – least you want me to dispose of your property!

    Nah, you don’t want that … so leave mine alone 😉

    The greed of short-sighted speculators has always caused more harm than good (I do mean ‘always’).

    If they chose to dispose of their wealth ‘badly’ – (shrug). It wasn’t mine to even argue the point!

    Oh, but Mr. Flag pointed out so long ago that money is just a means to store our labor, for future use.

    🙂

    I did not say that those who fund enterprise are not entitled to any wealth. However I do think that funding something does not give you the right to extract the majority of of the proceeds.

    They do not. In 99% of profitable businesses, the “owner” extracts an average of 2%. I’m sure this does not qualify as ‘majority’.

    At best you should get a return of your initial investment plus a reasonable profit.

    With you, of course, the guy who will determine “reasonable”, right???

    Once your initial investment is paid back your entitlement to continued payments should be limited whereas those who continue to provide labor should keep what they have now earned.

    They do. They continue to get a paycheck. This is a good thing, right?

    You can however create something through labor without much funding.

    Ah! Here is your misunderstanding, sir.

    All wealth is created by an act of human labor.

    This is so important to understand, because the misunderstanding of this creates the ideas that there is a difference between capital and labor. T

    But, there is no difference except in its form. Much like matter and energy — matter merely being the coagulation of energy.

    To gain capital, there must be labor in excess of what is needed to consume. I create capital by saving the difference between my output (doing work) and my inputs (buying food/shelter/pleasures).

    But as soon as someone misunderstands the capital/labor causation, weird ideas of ‘money’, ‘wealth’, and ‘work’ start popping up all over the place – but completely unworkable in any rational society.

  14. Black Flag says:

    The Government is supposed to be BY THE PEOPLE, OF THE PEOPLE, and FOR THE PEOPLE

    The funniest things catch my eye….

    This was never supposed to be the American experiment. This was Lincoln’s warp of the USA, turning it into the unstoppable leviathan we have today.

    These United States were formed by these words:

    ..endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

    The American experiment was the restraint of government, and government’s only purpose was to guard human rights.

    It is a diametrically opposite idea than Lincoln’s rhetoric proclaims.

    • Chris Devine says:

      The United States were not formed by those words. The thirteen colonies seceded from Great Britain using those words from the Declaration of Independence, an inspiring but non-binding document. The supreme law of the land is in fact the Constitution:

      “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

      Read the Constitution. It’s a great piece of literature and it’s the law.

    • Black Flag says:

      Good sir,

      The Constitution, if you recall, was a replacement document from the Articles of Confederation.

      The Declaration of Independence, sir, is the founding document of These United States, as it was the basis for the Articles of Confederation.

      Further, I am no Constitutionalist, either, sir.

      A group of men with long hair sitting in a hot room for weeks and producing a written document that, somehow, I’m supposed to obey?? Sorry, no.

      What one man writes on a piece of paper holds no obligation upon me to obey.

      • Black Flag says:

        Opps … this was supposed to go here…

        And further, which was the point – “by the people, for the people” rant exists in no document of founding of These United States.

      • Chris Devine says:

        Those other documents, while inextricably linked, are not binding today. If you want to argue history feel free, but I prefer to discuss matters of practical importance (i.e., the law).

        As far as your problem with the Gettysburg Address goes, I’m not sure what you have a problem with. Are you mad because Lincoln wrote and delivered a speech that you were forced to memorize in school (I was)? Do you think that people confuse his words with statute?

        When you say that you aren’t a Constitutionalist you might as well be saying that you aren’t an American. The thing that separated this country from all those preceding it is that the commitment to the rule of law (one of the definitions of ‘liberal’) was the primary condition for participation in the political process among citizens. Is it your desire to abandon the rule of law? If so then you aren’t American, you are an anarchist. Best of luck. Let me know how that works out for you.

        Regarding the notion of human rights, they are not self-evident. Asserting your belief that they are is an excellent rhetorical device, however a lot of good work exists where people actually argue for these principles. I can point you to some if you’re interested.

  15. I love reading the comments on here. Everybody has so much to offer. Keep it up!

  16. I am continuing the post from above here, it is getting very hard to read as everything “moves to the right”….ironic on this site, huh?

    Chris Devine said
    April 4, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    “You’ve made quite a few leaps there yourself. I never said everybody who is well off didn’t earn it honestly. However I do maintain that the rich don’t get that way merely through hard work. Luck definitely plays a factor. In addition, the laws in this country are set up in favor of the wealthy. This creates a self-perpetuating system whereby the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. There are exceptions on both sides but for the most part upward mobility is a myth.”

    Luck plays a factor in everything. Every time you live to see another day, every time to return home safely, that doesn’t mean it should be taxed or punished, it just IS.

    “Since the laws are in favor of those in power it is necessary to put checks in place to ensure that unfettered accumulation of wealth doesn’t destroy the middle class.

    “Regarding your Robin Hood comment, why is it OK for corporations and wealthy individuals to use their influence and power to manipulate the supposed free market to their advantage, effectively stealing from the poor to feed the rich?”

    I see much more of the poor stealing from the rich, it’s called welfare.

    “As far as your grandmother is concerned, I’m glad to hear that she worked hard and succeeded in life, but she is probably the exception rather than the rule. What would you say to the multitudes who worked hard and failed through no fault of their own?”

    I don’t consider Grandma the exception at all. Anyone with grit and a few brains should be able to succeed on some level. Grandma didn’t succeed because of luck either, matter of fact, by most peoples standards, she had more bad luck than most.

    “Also, I’m curious how you expected her to spend all that wealth after she passed away. Would you have buried the other 50% with her? Why should her descendants get a free ride on her hard work? I suspect she would want you to work hard yourself rather than live a life of idle pleasure off of hers.”

    Grandma did expect us to work hard, and we all have, her kids and grand kids, bar none. But that aside, Grandma would have MUCH preferred if anyone was going to get a “free ride” from her hard work, that it would be her family, not some stranger, and definitely not the government. Had she preferred that, should could have left her ENTIRE estate to the government…and she begrudged them every cent til her dying breath.

    “People should stop believing in some mythical Cadillac-driving welfare queen and all her illiterate drug-abusing offspring. All the quaint anecdotes I hear about the shiftless guys you know or that lazy family down the block do not prove anything. Look at the actual numbers.”

    Mythical?!?…I really must stop bye and let the welfare recipient down the street know she does not exist…if i can wake her up from her drunken stupor long enough to pay attention. That is wonderful news! If she is “mythical” she cannot possibly continue collecting that real check she gets every month!

    “The fact remains that the amount of revenue given to corporations and wealthy individuals in the form of tax breaks and subsidies are multitudes higher than the amount spent on public assistance for the poor. If you want to stop unnecessary government spending you can start by putting a tourniquet on the severed extremities and stop worrying about the nose bleed caused by welfare queens.”

    What welfare queens? They are mythical, remember? Which delights me to no end, they can quit collecting my hard earned REAL money!

    • “Mythical welfare queens” what a joke! I have no idea where Chris lives but if he is so sheltered as to not have seen or know any….I have several around here I can shove that way.
      There are people that need a leg up and I am more than willing to help them. But to enable a lazy person to blood suck off the people who do work….NO WAY. Around my place you work or go home. I do not believe in hand outs. Now if someone is crippled and can not work at all sure I have a handout for you. But if you are a sluggard you really need to starve or work. Makes me no difference which one you do. But if you are to lazy to take care of yourself why should I work to take care of you and me to? My answer would be why work….if you get the same benefit by not working.
      Sure there are people who make their money illegally (drug pushers) there are people who have run sweat shops (don’t see them much in the US to many other places to work)and as far as Walmart goes….Sam Walton started as a nickel and dime mom and pop….no one has to work for Walmart if they are an unfair employer go some where else and shovel ditches or haul trash, or sweep streets, or pick cotton what ever you believe to be a better job.
      The “give me” the “I deserve” “it is owed to me” are slowly destroying our country with their free circus.

  17. Chris, somewhere in the mayhem above you threw out something about “real numbers” and “facts”. As I pointed out, I have experience in those nasty inner cities but, here are some facts for you. The numbers may be a bit off, but they are close.

    In 1965, New York City had about 400,000 people on welfare out of a population of 8,000,000. In 1966 John V. Lindsay became Mayor. By the end of his first term, the welfare population was over 1,000,000. The total population had shrunk to below 8,000,000. By the end of his second term, the welfare population topped 1,200,000 and the city population shrank to between 7,000,000 and 7,500,000. It pretty much stayed that way for twenty years.

    Rudy Guilliani became Mayor in 1993. The Contract with America Congress was elected in ’94. Welfare reform came soon thereafter. By the end of Guilliani’s second term, the welfare population was below 400,000. I really don’t think it was divine intervention and guess what? Nobody starved. Homelessness more or less ended in NYC too, except for the seriously mentally ill. You see, once the rules started being enforced, like the one about not burning down your building, we had enough affordable housing to go around.

    There are two quotes in life I live by. 1. Joe Goebbels said, “The only thing more dangerous than believing the enemys propaganda is believing your own” 2.is from my old pappy, “What I know trumps what you think or how you feel”. Having spent a life dealing with low income people in low income housing and loving almost every minute of it, I honestly think I know more about poverty than the hooples at Harvard. Some day, when I write the damn book, you can quote me.

  18. esomhillgazette says:

    US, great amd thought provoking article today, as always. Chris, don’t take offense at anything said today. Even though I don’t agree with your premises, we rarely agree even with each other totally and sometimes not at all. Discussing things calmly and rationally is what US’s blog is all about. I respect you for, if for nothing else, you hung in and argues your points when a lot would have cut and run. I have totally different views from you though. Our progression towards Socialism scares me deeply. As a free American, I want to remain free from government interference in my life. I don’t need, and don’t want, government to “give” me anything! If I was Unable, it would be different, but it’s not. I work for what I have and will NOT have the govt telling me what I will do with either my time nor my money. I DECIDE. NOT THE GOVERNMENT!

  19. USWeapon says:

    A couple of thoughts here. Because you are starting to sound like a Democratic campaign ad…

    However I do maintain that the rich don’t get that way merely through hard work. Luck definitely plays a factor.

    So we should tax luck then?

    In addition, the laws in this country are set up in favor of the wealthy. This creates a self-perpetuating system whereby the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor.

    What laws are set up in this country to favor the wealthy? The tax laws which tax them at a higher rate than those who don’t make as much money? All the welfare systems available to the poor that are not available to the rich?

    Why should her descendants get a free ride on her hard work?

    Great question…. better put, why should someone other than her decendents get a free ride off her hard work. If she wanted them to work hard and not benefit from her success, she had the opportunity to not leave the money to her family. It was her money, not yours, so get your hands out of her pocket.

    People should stop believing in some mythical Cadillac-driving welfare queen and all her illiterate drug-abusing offspring. All the quaint anecdotes I hear about the shiftless guys you know or that lazy family down the block do not prove anything. Look at the actual numbers.

    I suggest you do the same, my friend. Quaint anecdotes are stereotypes, and stereotypes don’t materialize out of thin air. Drop out rates among the poor are high. Literacy rates among the poor are low. You love to live in the land of the free lunch, and that is your right. It is mine to deny them. You did get one thing right though, the welfare queens don’t drive a cadillac, they drive a Lexus these days…. with 22″ rims. You sir, have crossed over the land of make believe where there are not people completely living off the system and doomed to the system by the continued mantra of folks like you who tell them it isn’t their fault and you will save them. You are welcome to save them, you are not welcome to use my money to do so.

    It is my choice whether I help those in need based on my observations. And I do help, all the time, those that need and deserve my help. I am done with handing it to people like you who will re-distribute to the masses because you hate those who have out-earned you. Get government’s hand out of the mix, and you may wake up to find people taking care of each other naturally, because they care. So long as you continue to think the government has the right to take our money and redistribute it, you will not have my approval because you are refusing to live in the land of common sense. Your blind allegiance to the liberal talking points means that you are refusing to think for yourself. Talking points from Colbert and Pelosi won’t get you far here.

    • Chris Devine says:

      Read Nozick. You’re gonna love it.

      What I’m arguing against with my views public assistance for the poor and inheritance taxes, etc. is what has been referred to as the birth lottery. Why should something so arbitrary and unchangeable as who you were born to and where affect your chances of success in life? You have no control over who your parents are or where you grow up. If your parents are wealthy you will likely enjoy moderate success because of the stable and affluent life you have lived. If your parents are poor (hard-working or shiftless) you will probably not have a fair chance in life.

      What I am advocating here is a set of laws and systems that serve to mitigate the amount of influence pure chance has in determining success. I want a system that rewards effort above all. Who are we to tell the child of two hard working parents (or even just one), who can’t get a leg up despite all their hard work, that he must just accept his suffering because it’s only natural. The point of joining into a social contract is that we can create a system of cooperation (in addition to competition) that cherishes and rewards hard work. We can have safeguards for people who busted their asses to get somewhere but through pure chance or bad luck (or whatever you want to call it) couldn’t make it. Their efforts alone should be rewarded, not the capricious effects of luck.

      Regarding stereotypes you’re right. They don’t appear out of thin air. Often they are carefully constructed to take advantage of people’s hopes and fears to advance someone’s perverse agenda. I contend that many of the fears you and others have are not totally devoid of rationale even if they are exaggerated for effect. It has been said that the real purpose of the middle class is to keep the poor from killing the rich. Joking aside there is much to be said about stereotypes and anecdotal evidence use to support the upper class by convincing those in the middle that the only thing keeping them from becoming rich is all those damned lazy poor people.

      On a final note I’ll tell you this once: I do not mimic the talking points of any political party or pundit. I think and read for myself. Assuming that I only think the way I do because I am gullible enough to swallow someone else’s agenda is an insult. If I wasn’t guilty of it myself sometimes I would probably tell you to go to hell.

      • I’ll get back to this later (hopefully) at length but your premise is wrong. The Greatest generation, that undereducated, depression ridden, war addled group of folks born between 1912 and 1927 not only pulled themselves out of poverty, they built this country into the richest, fairest most powerful entity that ever existed.

        Get yourself out of the time warp you are in. By your very premise about being born into a poor but hard working family, you actually manage to condemn both my parents and myself to a life of failure that we did not lead. Please don’t say that we were the exception to the rule. All of my friends in grammar school in NYC were in the same boat (This was the 1950’s, 48 kids to a class and split session until sixth grade). 50 years later as we organize the reunion, you ought to see where they are.

        Regarding statistics. After nine credits as an undergrad, the most important thing I learned was on the first day when the Prof said, “Statistics don’t lie, statisticians do.” I don’t care if it’s gun control or rural poverty, given the time and the phrasing of the questions I can prove anything. Actually, back in college I was able to have some fun by “Proving” Wyoming didn’t exist. Flag would have enjoyed that one.

  20. I don’t know if Chris will ever come back to this board, but I do have some answers about a few things he said . . .

    The Cadillac driving welfare queen is in jail – I am the cop who discovered her scam. Her criminal activities put her in jail, not me. Her Cadillac had a 14 karat cold trim. She bought it from her welfare maintenance money and the drugs she sold for twenty years. Her drug using children are in a state run rehab for about the umpteenth time, to no avail. I am retired now, so it will have to be another cop to discover their scam. She is not mythical by any stretch of the imagination. And she is not alone, because for every one we caught, ten others were created by a flawed and corrupt welfare system funded by all of our tax dollars. It is a never ending fight, and until our government decides to let people be responsible for their own decisions and actions it will continue to grow – I believe the correct mathematical term is “exponentially” – year after year until it consumes everything everywhere.

    What I have worked for will be given to my children and grandchildren. The land that I have accumulated will most likely still be rented for the annual fee the cattle rancher pays me. It is a source of income that is part of our retirement nest egg. My military retirement and social security also help, along with our investments in the stock market(don’t put all your eggs in one basket lest you drop one basket). I worked for it all my life. I will decide who gets it after I die. Not some snot nosed bureaucrat stuck in a cubbyhole somewhere.

    FYI – Where and when I was born into this world was considered to be a poverty ridden community smack dab in the middle of WW2. Of the six of us siblings, I, one older brother and one younger sister worked our way out of that poverty mess. Our mother raised all of us by herself all the while battling an animal of an abusive husband. Sometimes she worked two and three part time jobs to feed, clothe and house us. But she never took one dime of welfare money. That is all it takes to succeed, NOT blind luck. A good work ethic and a willingness to work some jobs that you may not like at all, but work whatever jobs you can find. I took her example and did my best, as did my other brother and baby sister. It works, not welfare.

    As USW does, we give a hand, not a handout, to those who do deserve it when we can. That is what makes this country unique in this world, the fact that we Americans give FREELY out of our own compassion of our fellow human beings. We are not forced to do so, as our new President wants to do with his so-called G.I.V.E. act.

    O.K., I am done venting.

    Goodnight.

  21. US, I like the articles idea, keep them coming.
    Chris, while I find no common ground with you on these ideas, I appreciate your defense of them, and respect your ability to “take the beat-down” you have recieved. You may consider yourself “jumped-in”, and welcome to the gang!

  22. Black Flag says:

    Chris Devine

    Those other documents, while inextricably linked, are not binding today.

    Of course not.

    The hallmark of liberalism is the lack of consistency in any belief. Once a belief gets in the way of totalitarianism, it gets tossed.

    If you want to argue history feel free, but I prefer to discuss matters of practical importance (i.e., the law).

    What is the basis of law, Chris?

    As far as your problem with the Gettysburg Address goes, I’m not sure what you have a problem with.

    It invokes into policy a design upon the United States for which was not intended for this nation.

    Are you mad because Lincoln wrote and delivered a speech that you were forced to memorize in school (I was)?

    I missed grade 6…

    Do you think that people confuse his words with statute?

    Only liberals.

    When you say that you aren’t a Constitutionalist you might as well be saying that you aren’t an American.

    Though I know the typical argument style of many liberals is to call those that do not believe as they do “Un-American”, I surely hope you have more argument style than mere ad hominem.

    The thing that separated this country from all those preceding it is that the commitment to the rule of law (one of the definitions of ‘liberal’) was the primary condition for participation in the political process among citizens.

    I do not agree.

    What separated this country from those preceding its proclamation to freedom and human rights.

    Commitment to law most certainly not unique to America. You must recall it was the hallmark of the British system well before the existence of the United States, as just one example.

    Is it your desire to abandon the rule of law? If so then you aren’t American, you are an anarchist. Best of luck. Let me know how that works out for you.

    Again, ad hominem is usually a sign of a weak argument – I certainly you offer more than this.

    My question to you, Chris. Do you obey all law?

    Regarding the notion of human rights, they are not self-evident.

    Of course they are. They are not granted by government, right?

    Asserting your belief that they are is an excellent rhetorical device, however a lot of good work exists where people actually argue for these principles. I can point you to some if you’re interested.

    I’m interested in your argument, Chris – hope you will supply one soon.

    • Chris Devine says:

      Liberalism is the commitment to the rule of law and the respect for the liberties of others. Keep your stereotypes to yourself, I don’t fit them despite your claims.

      Law, like any other aspect of human society has an historical aspect. However, history is not law. Law is codified and subject to application and change only in the present.

      Please show me where policy is invoked by the Gettysburg Address.

      Liberal is not a four letter word and conservatives, especially Republicans these days, are not exactly known for their consistency. Most people have a range of beliefs and ideals that they use to form a picture of the world. Stop feeling so superior because you think consistency is on your side. Often the hallmark of extremism is over-reliance on consistency.

      Regarding the Constitution and being an American let me set this straight once and for all: if you intend to say that you are a citizen of the United States of America then by definition you claim to support the constitution. Ask any veteran (like myself) or public servant on this board who was made to take an oath. That oath is not to support any political party or ideology, president or dictator. It’s to support the Constitution of the United States. Therefore if you have no interest in supporting the Constitution then you seem to have no interest in being American. Assuming an argument is ad hominem because you don’t agree or understand doesn’t make it so.

      Commitment to law in other countries, especially Great Britain, is secondary to allegiance to a monarch.

      Again, declaring your contempt for the Constitution (THE law of this country) is tantamount to rejecting law itself. This is anarchistic. This is not an ad hominem attack.

      I speed in my car, jaywalk, etc. I don’t steal, I pay my taxes etc. I’d say I’m pretty much in the norm and not much of a hypocrite in that regard (or any other in case you’re wondering).

      Everything you or I believe is a culmination of the things we’ve experienced, seen, heard, read, etc. My offer to point you to some arguments that argue for human rights is not a way of saying I don’t have any myself. I merely have no desire to reinvent the wheel. I can explain these arguments in my own words and will gladly do so at your request. I’m just not convinced that you care to hear anything worthwhile that I have to say as long as it contradicts your own belief.

      • Black Flag says:

        Liberalism is the commitment to the rule of law and the respect for the liberties of others. Keep your stereotypes to yourself, I don’t fit them despite your claims.

        I claimed nothing of you, sir.

        From this comment, it appears it is you who mis-applied such a label upon yourself.

        I do remind you that it was your claim that as I did not agree with your point of view that made me UN-american. I, again, hope you will refrain from ad homenien.

        Law, like any other aspect of human society has an historical aspect. However, history is not law. Law is codified and subject to application and change only in the present.

        I’ll ask again:

        “What is your basis of law?”

        Please show me where policy is invoked by the Gettysburg Address.

        Before Lincoln, the nation was noted as “THESE United States…”

        After Lincoln, the nation was noted as “THE United States…”

        Lincoln’s vision of Federalism won victory with the defeat of the South. By articulating his position – “the People’s will” to act upon the “People”, justified his centralization of power to Washington, and allowed the complete reinterpretation of the Constitution away from restraint on the government and into government unrestrained exercise of power.

        Liberal is not a four letter word and conservatives, especially Republicans these days, are not exactly known for their consistency.

        I most certainly agree. Inconsistency is the only consistent thing of all govrnment.

        Often the hallmark of extremism is over-reliance on consistency.

        Over-reliance? Hardly.

        If the universe is one thing, it is perfectly consistent. I suppose you can say the Universe is rather extreme regarding this feature.

        To act inconsistently is my definition of evil – as it contradicts the universe. And, of course, contradictions cannot exist in reality. Attempts to act with contradiction always creates evil.

        Thus, consistency is what I demand of you, sir. Doing otherwise is irrational, and argument with irrational people would be futile.

        I sincerely hope our discussions will not be futile.

        Regarding the Constitution and being an American let me set this straight once and for all: if you intend to say that you are a citizen of the United States of America then by definition you claim to support the constitution.

        Defining my existence from your point of view is irrational. I do not define my existence by a definition formulated by government nor by words written by other men.

        It’s to support the Constitution of the United States.

        Blind allegiance tends to lead to evil.

        Therefore if you have no interest in supporting the Constitution then you seem to have no interest in being American.

        An often mistake of Liberalism is to confuse geography with politics.

        Assuming an argument is ad hominem because you don’t agree or understand doesn’t make it so.

        My understanding is clear. I do not agree with you. Therefore you feel you are right to change the geography. I find that rather strange, don’t you?

        This is anarchistic. This is not an ad hominem attack.

        I do agree – that is not a matter of geography, but of principle.

        I speed in my car, jaywalk, etc. I don’t steal, I pay my taxes etc. I’d say I’m pretty much in the norm and not much of a hypocrite in that regard (or any other in case you’re wondering).

        So, I ask, again:

        “You obey ALL law?”

        • Black Flag says:

          Allow me to rephrase:

          “Why do you obey SOME law, and not ALL law”

          • Chris Devine says:

            Because I’m irresponsible. Because I have a brain and can determine that I won’t be caught most of the time for the laws I choose to break. Because I see no harm in going through a red light at 4 am when there’s no traffic anywhere. There are lots of reasons why I break laws.

            However, I don’t break laws to avoid paying my fair share or because of my disdain for the current political climate.

            You seem to think you’re clever. You seem to think that you embody some true American spirit like some half-baked reincarnation of ‘the Duke.’

            I’ve got some news for you. You’re not. It’s easy to play to the cheap seats when you’re dealing with armchair politicians (like myself). Perhaps you can sense my frustration. You try to pick my arguments apart one line at a time but you fail to see the big picture. I do understand a great deal about politics and American history, however when dealing with people who are polar opposites of me on the political spectrum it’s hard to know where to start. With you I figured out where to stop. Right here.

            I’ll gladly continue to debate anybody else on this site who isn’t so argumentative and sanctimonious. My apologies to everybody who sees me on the same light.

            • Black Flag says:

              You, non-violently, break the law, based on your own beliefs at any time you chose.

              And then you complain about those who, non-violently, break the law based on their beliefs at any time they chose.

              As I see it, you’re very inconsistent with your theory and its application.

            • Kristian says:

              Chris,

              He isn’t sanctimonious he just wants to understand where you are coming from. He wants to know why you believe the way that you believe. He’s tough, I know. I’ve gone up against him a few times. Rather than get frustrated, think about what he is asking you. Why do you believe the things that you believe? What led you to those beliefs?

              • Chris Devine says:

                How many times do I have to answer the same question before he gets it? I’m not changing my answer and he isn’t interested in it. All he wants is to seem like he’s winning some debate. I have no desire to debate.

                He’s being thick, argumentative, obstinate, and pretentious. I have no intention of playing along with his nonsense anymore.

              • Black Flag says:

                Does that mean you don’t have an answer to my question above?

              • Chris Devine says:

                It’s a matter of scale. If I run a red light at 4 am when I can see that no other traffic is near then the odds of me doing harm are pretty slim. It’s not that I arbitrarily choose to obey or not obey. It’s that I take into consideration the effects of that choice and decide to break the law only if it causes no harm.

                However, when a company pollutes a river to save money in direct violation of laws just because nobody is looking then there is a big problem. Breaking the law with the full knowledge that it will cause harm to others is indefensible.

                So, I’m an asshole because I break traffic laws. Mea culpa. I do my best not to hurt others according to your own maxim, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

                Does that answer your question?

  23. Black Flag says:

    Chris Devine

    Where do you get your figures and arguments? Wal-Mart?

    Same place you do, Chris – SEC.

    Wall Street Journal, Fox News, CNN? You must get them from somewhere. Provide them and I’ll happily point out their bias as well.

    But isn’t the SEC’s job exactly what you demand, Chris – a government entity to determine right and wrong in the market place?

    I didn’t run. I’m still here. I just prefer to discuss matters with those who will listen to reason. Some may think I pick my battles based on somebody else’s talking points. I’m here to tell you I don’t.

    One of your first shots on this site was providing ‘talking points’ regarding Walmart.

    And your complaint about me is … talking points…on Walmart.

    So, your standard is “do as you say, but not as you do?”

    • Chris Devine says:

      They aren’t ‘talking points.’ Talking points are soundbites meant to discourage critical thinking and avoid analysis. All of the information on the link I provided is well-documented and gives you the opportunity to consider the sources before making up your mind.

      Regarding the SEC there are more government entities concerned: National Labor Relations Board, Federal Exchange Commission, Internal Revenue Service, Health and Human Services, Environmental Protection Agency, etc. Have a look at their figures while you’re at it.

      While I would commend Wal-Mart if they did all those nice things you talk about out of the kindness of their hearts, my cynical nature and better sense would have me see them as lip service and public relations campaigns. Feel free to disagree.

      • Black Flag says:

        Chris Devine

        All of the information on the link I provided is well-documented and gives you the opportunity to consider the sources before making up your mind.

        I did consider, sir.

        The lack of consideration comes from you.

        Where as you simply pointed to a source, I articulated them.

        You believe this makes a difference to a degree to insult me.

        Regarding the SEC there are more government entities concerned: National Labor Relations Board, Federal Exchange Commission, Internal Revenue Service, Health and Human Services, Environmental Protection Agency, etc. Have a look at their figures while you’re at it.

        And they do not contradict me, sir.

        Feel free to disagree.

        I hold no opinion one way or another – I do not see “Walmart” as anything but a company.

        I find it interesting to see those that are heralds of government existence and action demean companies.

        A corporation is wholly a government created entity – it exists solely in law – yet, it is assaulted by the strongest supporters of government.

        • Chris Devine says:

          So you cut and paste some ‘talking points’ (as you’re fond of calling them) whereas I only provided a link. Way to go that extra mile.

          You’re right, corporations exist due to laws passed by our government. However, their ability to influence our government and have laws passed in solely their favor are what I have a major problem with.

          It’s called a nuanced position or a sophisticated argument. I’m sure things are just peachy in that simplistic, black-and-white world of yours, but be sure that the rest of us in the real world understand how complicated things can be.

        • Black Flag says:

          Way to go that extra mile.

          …and yet you went out of your way to make that your complaint.

          You’re right, corporations exist due to laws passed by our government. However, their ability to influence our government and have laws passed in solely their favor are what I have a major problem with.

          As a supporter of government action, you complain about an entity solely of government creation working inside government to create government action and policy.

          Rarely have I seen someone use their own body as a punching bag with such great effect.

          …complexity…

          I have often found those that seek complexity have something to hide.

          • Chris Devine says:

            I have often found that contrary pricks are a nuisance. Take your elenchus and shove it up your cave.

            Complexity is undeniable and unavoidable.

            • Black Flag says:

              Interesting argument, Chris. Hoped for better, but (shrug), you are certainly not an unusual example what I’ve seen from your ilk in the past. Be that as it may…

              [..complexity unavoidable…]

              The universe says otherwise – quote “Entropy”

              • Chris Devine says:

                Look, you can quote a bunch of esoteric nonsense and claim that the second law of thermodynamics gives you the right to be an asshole, or that Occam’s Razor proves all liberals are naive imbeciles. The fact remains you have said nothing productive to me and have for the most part made an ass of yourself in my eyes.

                I’m just curious why you chose Black Flack as your moniker. Are you aware that it is an international symbol of anarchism? Perhaps you fancy yourself a pirate or are a Henry Rollins fan.

                I use my own name an argue from my heart and mind for the sake of making this world a better place. From what I’ve seen you hide behind a fake name and give fake arguments for the purpose of stirring up shit. Keep up the good work.

              • Chris Devine says:

                Look, you can quote a bunch of esoteric nonsense and claim that the second law of thermodynamics gives you the right to be an asshole, or that Occam’s Razor proves all liberals are naive imbeciles. The fact remains you have said nothing productive to me and have for the most part made an ass of yourself in my eyes.

                I’m just curious why you chose Black Flack as your moniker. Are you aware that it is an international symbol of anarchism? Perhaps you fancy yourself a pirate or are a Henry Rollins fan.

                I use my own name and argue from my heart and mind for the sake of making this world a better place. From what I’ve seen you hide behind a fake name and give fake arguments for the purpose of stirring up shit. Keep up the good work.

              • Black Flag says:

                There are symbols for peace and country and government – but there wasn’t a suitable symbol for freedom.

                I quizzed a rather well-known freedom-fighter what the “Flag of Freedom” would look like, and his response was:

                “Whatever is the opposite of the flag of surrender”.

                —-

                I do not doubt your intentions, sir – I question your means.

  24. Dear Mr. Flag: I once intimated that your display of arrogance did not serve your quest for teaching the truth very well. As I recall, you apologized and then we all moved on. Oh that seems like so many thousand miles ago on our journey. After reading our latest visitors comments I was reminded that I forgot to acknowledge your apology and wish to do so now. I know it is hard to keep that beast contained within.

    Now I see we have a new member who would benefit from a small bite of that sweet humble pie himself. It is so distressing to have someone attacking your intelligence and understandng of the world instead of putting forth a constructive debate.

    I apologize for taking so long to recognize your efforts to stay focused on meaningful discussions. I also thank you for doing so as I believe all have benefited much more since your awakening.

    I can only hope our newest member will make the same effort.

    Best Wishes
    JAC

    • P.S to BFlag

      Thank you for the kudos the other evening regarding the discussion of philosophy and where we find ourselves.
      It was appreciated.
      JAC

    • PSS to BF:

      Weren’t some of your anarchist ancestors around during the great war with England. I remember reading about some of them and I could have sworn they became “Americans” right after the King conceded defeat. Damn, my memory must really be fading. Keep smilin!!!
      JAC

      • Black Flag says:

        Indeed!

        I also have a history of piracy privateering. 😉 Though, as a good entrepreneur, decided to expand his business opportunities from just the Spanish to include the French and British.

        His new ‘suppliers’ of treasure were unamused and forced his ‘liquidation’ 😉

    • Chris Devine says:

      Just because I disagree with your view of the world doesn’t mean I haven’t been putting forth a constructive argument. The biggest difficulty is that we are starting from different premises. I guarantee you that all of my positions are well-reasoned and firmly grounded in reality. They are not ideological rants and knee-jerk assumptions.

      I am a humble man and I am willing to provide the basis for any of my arguments for you to accept or discard.

      • Chris:

        With all due respect, the biggest difficulty has so far been that you have not provided a constructive argument. I know you start from a differenct premise but you have not concisely stated what it is or presented a reasoned argument to defend it.

        I’ll give credit where do, you have made some good points but what I see in many cases is that you jump to a conclusion with no support then use comments to degrade the one you are talking to. You did this to me when you accused me of either having a flawed view of history or economics and law. The essence of that argument is if you disagree you must be ignorant. That is an arrogant argument when used consistantly.

        We are guilty of the same thing from time to time but do try and guard against it. If you can commit to the same you will find some stimulating discussion here.

        May your day be good
        JAC

  25. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    I am glad this article has been stimulating a lot of discussion. I thought that I would interject and clarify a few things just so people know where I am coming from on a few issues here.

    First of all, the Roman Empire, even under the rule of the Senate, was by no means an “ideal society” if such a thing even exists; however, it was an incredibly advanced political/social structure for the time, and it did degenerate from within after the Emperors were given essentially absolute power and control. It did not happen overnight. In fact, the first Emperors of Rome were considered great men, but eventually the system brought us the likes of Nero and Caligula. So, I am not saying that Rome under the rule of the Senate was ideal by any means, but I use it as an example to show that the greater control that the government exerts over a society, the more likely it is that that society will fail over time.

    Several people have also pointed out that technological advances like television and the internet have made possible forums like this one, where intelligent people can have intelligent discussions. It was also pointed out that TV and the internet have provided us much greater access to information than was available in the past. I do not disagree with that at all, but my point is that for every person that takes the time to find a site like this, there are probably 10 (or 25, or 100) people that simply believe whatever they see on the Nightly News, and then proceed to watch Entertainment Tonight with far more interest than they had in the “news”. The same goes for the internet. Many more people will go to a celebrity gossip website to get the latest on “Brangelina” than will find a site like this and participate.

    So basically, I am NOT saying that technology is bad. I like the fact that we have readily available food, and that we do have access to a wealth of information should we choose to actively look for it. What I am saying is that there is an alarming segment of the population that is far more happy sitting at home, eating their readily available food, surfing the internet for celebrity gossip and porn, and watching essentially “garbage” TV.

    My opinion is that technology and education have been used by the government to “dumb us down” and try to isolate us from each other and foster a feeling of mistrust for our neighbors, our churches, and any institutions that don’t conform to what the government thinks that we should think.

    I also agree with some of the comments that drive, ingenuity, inventiveness, and creativity have basically been stifled to a large extent in our society over the past 40 years or so. We have seen now that to a large extent, success is actually being actively discouraged, and in the education system there is increasingly no more right or wrong and no more competition.

    In my opinion, there have to be “right” answers, and competition needs to be encouraged. Most “great” people had to fail MANY times before they finally succeeded. Now there really is no “failure”. The problem is, that without failure there can be no success, just a vast pool of mediocrity.

    I have enjoyed seeing the discussion this article has stimulated so far.

    Peter B. Indianapolis

  26. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    I had to throw in another comment, mostly because I am feeling verbose today. (Can one actually “feel” verbose?) Anyway…

    ..endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

    Agreed. However, I do not think that Lincoln was warping this idea when he was talking about government by the people, of the people, and for the people. I believe that he was talking about a government by (of and for) poeple endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. I think that people later subverted what Lincoln had said into something “populist” I provide no citations which either prove or disprove that Lincoln felt/thought that way, simply my own opinion. I could easily be wrong on that one.

    Also, I find it interesting that the original drafts of the Constitution read, “Life, Liberty, and Property” and none of that vague “Pursuit of Happiness” crap. Someone back in the day must have been the equivalent of a modern-day liberal and would much rather have said that we have an unalienable Right to pursue happiness rather than an unalienable Right to own property. Now amassing wealth (accumulating property) can be seen as “Evil” because they were not defined as an inalienable Right.

    The first article of the Virginia Declaration of Rights adopted unanimously by the Virginia Convention of Delegates on June 12, 1776 and written by George Mason, is:

    That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

    This seems a bit more clear than the whole, “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness” thing.

    So by Mason’s argument, taxation of the “rich” with the intent of redsitributing their propery (land, money, goods) to the “poor” would not only be immoral, but would be against the rule of government. It would also be equally abhorrent for the “rich” to knowingly and wilfully deprive the “poor” of any of these rights in any way. If a man obtaines his property through means that do not violate the rights of others, then there is no inherent evil.

    America has had examples of people violating this on both ends of the spectrum. The “flavor of the month” seems to be the corporations abusing their power to amass property followed by the government abusing its power to take over the corporations. Flavor of the month #2 is the government illegally taking the property (wealth) from the people deemed to be “rich” through taxation, and giving it to whomever the government deems “worthy” of receiving it.

  27. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    I have to throw in one more thing here, because someone is sure to point this out. Many of the colonies had slavery, and slaves were “property”. Some people wanted this inalienable right to “property” in the founding documents of this country as a way of legitimizing slavery, so that was probably at least part of the reason that “property” was replaced by the much less defineable “pursuit of happiness”

    Slavery ceases to be defensible in any way once slaves are recognized to be people (and therefore in possession of inalienable Rights) rather than “property”.

    In the same way, abortion would cease to be defensible in any way if an embryo were to be recognized as a person. After all, if an embryo were recognized as a person, said person would have the inalienable rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, and abortion would certainly be anathema to those rights. Of course this leads to fabulously convoluted debates as to when a rapidly dividing cluster of cells (essentially akin to cancer) actually becomes a sentient being. Conception? Three months? As soon as the fetus would be “viable” outside of the mother’s body? Even later than that? How many of us that have/had a child go through the “terrible twos” secretly wish at at least one moment we could have had them declared “non-sentient beings”?

    That is (as we say in Indiana) “a whole ‘nuther can of worms” which I threw open just for the fun of it.

    You see, no society, no matter how well-intentioned, is going to have the “perfect” form of government. In my book, it is the responsibility of the people to try to make the government better (and hopefully this results in a minimalist form of government). It should not be the job of the government to try to make the people better, that is backwards. It is when the government starts deciding what is “best for us” that we get into really dangerous territory. As creatures possessing self-determination, it is up to us to determine what is best for ourselves and succeed or fail on our own merits and decisions.

    This is not to say I am against helping other people. If someone is truly in need, they should be provided with help. I would just prefer that that help come from family, friends, neighbors, churches, etc. Ideally, helping people in need should not be the province or purpose of government.

    Ok, enough for today 🙂

  28. Black Flag says:

    PeterB in Indianapolis

    A couple of things:

    1865 was the turning point of the USA – from “THESE United States…” into “THE United States….”

    The “Of..For…By…” statement embeds a serious implication.

    To offer something in favor of (..For the People..) requires it to come from someone. The question must be: “…From whom must we take from, in which to give to whom?…”

    It is from this rationalism that income redistribution (among other insults to freedom) derives – an act completely contrary with basis of These United States.

    • BF:

      I have often wondered about Lincoln’s choice of words here. Have you ever come across any hard evidence as to his intent?

      I had always thought Peter was correct in his intent at the time but his words were later twisted. The logic you present regarding the use of the words seems sound, and old Abe was a master with words so I wonder where he was really going.

      I think he may have been more of a pragmatist than ideolog and that may explain his continued change of views and poor use of logic. On the other hand maybe he was our first Magician President, heh, heh!!!

      • Black Flag says:

        I am sure he didn’t realize the complete implications of the changing of the intent of THE United States… the unintended consequences are usually ver wide and profound.

        He probably understood fully what HE meant it – indeed to apply the power of the people upon the people. How that would turn out, I’m sure, he had no idea.

        All actions create unintended consequences. This is why I believe all actions must derive from sold moral principles. As we cannot predict what may happen, the ‘means’ of our actions becomes vital.

        Take care of the means, and ends take care of themselves.

    • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

      The way I have always interpreted Lincoln’s remarks was within the framework of a Constitutional Republic:

      Government of the People (obvious, the people consenting to be Governed)

      Government by the People (the People are represented in Government by representatives that they have elected)

      Government for the People (The responsibility of the Government is the protection of the People whom it represents)

      Now, this could just be an extremely naive interpretation, and Lincoln’s actual intent could have been the sweeping Federalism that BF claims was his intent. I don’t completely deny the possibility. After all, the Civil War is still sometimes referred to as “the War of State’s Rights” which could be seen as accurate. The outcome of the war did allow the Federal Government to trample State’s Rights when it came to legality of slavery, and perhaps slavery was simply the excuse for the Federal Government to trample State’s Rights.

      There have been plenty of examples throughout history of a government using “the moral high-ground” as an excuse to get what they wanted, so it is possible that the Civil War was simply a giant power-play by the Federal Government using slavery as the excuse for their actions. However, the fact that Lincoln was concerned about abolishing slavery due to that being an interference with property rights makes me think he recognized that the powers of the Federal Government should be limited.

      We may have been able to form a much more informed opinion of his true intentions had he been around longer after the war.

  29. Peter B:

    Your insights are good although I think there was more to the change from property to pursuit of happiness. Somewhere,I recall Ben Franklin had something to do with that and he was an experienced politician type. Happiness is inclusive of property in all writings of the time but they had similar concerns, thus the amendment regarding taking.

    Interestingly, Mr. Lincoln expressed great anxiety about freeing slaves not due to the morality of the issue but because it would interfere with property rights. Of course his concerns didn’t last long.

    I apprecieated your article and follow up comments. Well done.

  30. Chris Devine says:

    Black Flag,

    what school of politics do you hail from? Utilitarianism (teleological or deontological)? Perhaps you’re Kantian and subscribe to his categorical imperative. You seem pretty fond of consistency and reliance upon a moral code.

    What are your thoughts on Hobbes’ state of nature or the social contract?

    I’m curious to hear about your political theory and its implications.

    One last thing, what color is the sky on your planet? (That’s ad hominem, jackass!)

    • Yesterday, Palm Sunday, I went to Church. One of the readings was the one where the woman washed the hair and feet of Jesus with the expensive perfumed oil. She was rebuked by the bystanders who said the oil could have been sold and the money used to feed the poor. Jesus then rebuked them with the line, “you will not always have me around, but THE POOR WILL ALWAYS BE WITH YOU”. Get that Chris, the big guy himself actually said that the poor will always be with us.

      The big guy had a better sense of human psychology 2,000 years ago than most people have today. The rich are not always with us either. Sometimes they become poor. May take a few generations of bad choices but it happens.

      There were a very large group of really rich people out there recently until they came in contact with Bernie Madoff. I have watched the sob stories of how their houses, cars and jets have had to be sold off. Do I feel sorry for them? Frankly no. My no has nothing to do with class envy but rather with the adage, cavaet emptor, even more than that, these were not dumb folks and they had to be aware that the proffered return, in excess of 10% meant the “investments” had to be shady. In communication with my friend the narcotics cop, we both came to the conclusion that the Madoff investors probably figured they were involved in some offshore money laundering scheme.

      On the same note, years ago I remember reading the bio of Gloria Vanderbilt. Now that crew really knew how to blow a fortune. The point of the story was that Gloria was dirt poor. Necessity being the mother of invention, she created the Jeans Company. Did it help that her name was Vanderbilt, probably, but until it was trademarked, anyone could have used it. So, you, I or anyone else have the right and ability to make it big. I admittedly blew it twice. While in the service I came up with an easier and safer way to blow a path through a minefield . Put it on the back burner and somebody else came up with it later. In my 25 years of Boy Scouting always thought there should be a relatively easy way to make an external packframe that converts into a lawn chair. Actually talked to a bunch of engineers and mechanics. They never showed much interest. Saw it in the sporting goods store two weeks ago.

      I have read Kant, Spinoza, Berkley, Locke, Aristotle and Plato. Got some great ideas from them. The way my mind works though is that I don’t constantly pigeonhole something for later attribution. I just kind of remember the gist of it and when its appropriate, it pops out. Damned if I could tell you who said it though.

      If I were to point to a weakness in your admittedly fervent belief system it would be your failure to connect the dots. You certainly are not the only one guilty of that. Let me pass on some of my father’s wisdom. “Life is like a Chess game, you have to be three moves ahead at all times.” That does not mean 1, 2, 3. it’s 3 to the third power. Every action we take can have three results, yes, no or same. That makes 27 possibles. Nobody is that good but, we can try. Well, actually, Flag may be that good.

      • Chris Devine says:

        I agree that I may skip a few steps here and there. It’s not that they don’t exist it’s just difficult to know where to begin when you’re dealing with others from different and unknown backgrounds. I’ve made a few assumptions regarding the obvious nature of some of my unstated premises, but I’ll always be willing to explain things further. Please accept my apologies for the consequences of my haste.

        I don’t share your opinion regarding ‘Black Flag.’ I find him to be argumentative at best and a downright condescending ignoramus masquerading as an intellectual. If this is how I also appear then I am truly sorry.

        • I annoy people precisely because I try never to skip a step. It was that damn logic course, you know, If A then B etc.

          To keep it simple, I try to stay with the same line of inquiry until I get an answer, affirmative or negative. Sometimes, I am actually incorrect. By the way, my heirs and assignees have the instruction to have the following engraved on my tombstone:

          “He was not always right, but he was never wrong.”

          In any event, I have postulated several things above,

          1. The poor will always be with us. This holds true because of both bad choices and status. Both are subject to change and that’s why the USA is a pretty nice place.

          2. The rich don’t always stay rich. same reasons.

          3. Status can change quickly, either through invention, extraordinary effort, or, on the negative side, laziness/greed. Remember when your Mom told you your eyes were bigger than your stomach?

          Can you honestly disagree with them? See, to accomplish anything we have to get to some common ground.

          I’ve thrashed it out with Flag a few times. It’s frustrating, entertaining, makes me think harder and makes me sorry we can’t offer the cup of hemlock in this country for “corrupting our youth” or something.

          • Chris Devine says:

            Black Flag wouldn’t drink it. Socrates chose to drink his poison even though he could have fled the country. Nobody would have chased after him, they just wanted him out of their lives. He drank the poison because he chose not to be a hypocrite. I can’t say the same for this interlocutor.

            • Black Flag says:

              Socrates logic was flawed, and he made a mistake drinking the poison.

              One of the few times he made a logical mistake, and it cost him.

              • Chris Devine says:

                Have you even read the Apology? How many of Socrates’ writings have you read? Your pseudo-intellectual drivel is paper thin.

              • Chris Devine says:

                Just in case others see this I’d like to point out that I know Socrates never wrote anything (just like Jesus).

              • Black Flag says:

                Again, sir, my disagreement with his logic is not a cause for your insults.

                If you have an argument, make it. Otherwise, you’re wasting a lot of energy.

              • Chris Devine says:

                Make an argument for me that shows the flaws in Socrates’ logic that caused him to knowingly drink poison.

              • Black Flag says:

                Ask USWep to start such a blog – perhaps it would be interesting to others.

              • Chris Devine says:

                It was your assertion. If you want me and others to believe it you should provide those answers.

              • Black Flag says:

                If USWEP wishes to make it a blog, so be it.

            • See, you did it again, I asked if you could at least agree in some way shape or form with the three items I postulated so that we could find common ground. I know Flag annoys you (and frustrates me)but, you jump over three very common sense things I think to get back to attacking our favorite pirate.

          • Black Flag says:

            “we can’t offer the cup of hemlock in this country for “corrupting our youth” or something.”

            ROTFLOL!

            Nice one….

          • Black Flag says:

            Speaking of hypocrisy;

            You, non-violently, break the law, based on your own beliefs at any time you chose.

            And then you complain about those who, non-violently, break the law based on their beliefs at any time they chose.

            • Black Flag says:

              PS: You don’t have to drink the hemlock.

            • Chris Devine says:

              My complaint is not about others who break the law non-violently. My complaint has to do with cases where the consequences are violent. Polluting our natural resources, stealing from the community chest, abandoning the people who made your success possible in favor of finding a new place to exploit, to me these are acts of violence. When these violent acts are committed solely in the quest for individual profit, I find them more than illegal. I find them immoral.

              • Black Flag says:

                My complaint has to do with cases where the consequences are violent.

                So, you disagree with self-defense, as this is a consequence of violence?

                Polluting our natural resources,

                Pollution that injures humans

                stealing from the community chest,

                How did the community gets its treasure?

                abandoning the people who made your success possible in favor of finding a new place to exploit

                Freedom in action.

                Everyone has the right, non-violently, to exercise actions in their best interest.

                to me these are acts of violence. When these violent acts are committed solely in the quest for individual profit,

                Profit is simply the my ability to supply a product or service more efficiently and/or effectively they you can do it yourself.

                This hardly can be defined as violent.

                Imposing upon the free choice of non-violent people is my definition of immoral.

                It will be interesting to see which one best survives the consistency test.

      • Chris Devine says:

        “If you’re studying Geology, which is all facts, as soon as you get out of school you forget it all, but Philosophy you remember just enough to screw you up for the rest of your life.” -Steve Martin

        I don’t remember everything I studied in philosophy, my major in college. I had to read all those guys too (and a bunch more even less famous than the ones you mentioned), but for the most part I can’t recall whose argument for the existence of god was more underwhelming. The most important thing I learned in college wasn’t what to think but how to think. It is of more use to me to know where and how to find a particular piece of information than it is to try and remember every nuanced argument for why my act of thinking proves my existence (or doesn’t).

        I will forgive anybody who honestly makes a mistake based upon something long-forgotten. I can’t forgive those who choose to avoid answers because they are inconvenient. Nor can I tolerate people who try to subvert knowledge by using rhetorical tactics (rhetoric was my other major).

    • Black Flag says:

      what school of politics do you hail from? Utilitarianism (teleological or deontological)?

      Hey, I asked first!

      You seem pretty fond of consistency and reliance upon a moral code.

      Yep

      What are your thoughts on Hobbes’ state of nature or the social contract?

      He was resounding refuted even in his own time; however, his argument is inconsistent with moral principles, so I don’t accept them.

      I’m curious to hear about your political theory and its implications.

      I’m a simple man.

      Do unto others as ye have them do unto you.

      The law of Mutuality of Action at its finest.

      One last thing, what color is the sky on your planet? (That’s ad hominem, jackass!)

      Yeah, that is. But so is calling someone UNamerican when they disagre with you.

  31. Chris Devine,
    My references to scripture were in response to your statement that you were following the example of Jesus Christ. I was simply stating that your understanding of his example was erroneous. I do not base my policy or thinking on scripture, and neither do you. So was your reference a manipulation tactic or just a typing error?

    • Chris Devine says:

      Do you write policy? Are you a legislator? No? Neither am I.

      Your quoting scripture in defense of a particular view on public policy lead me to believe that you condone religious rationale in support of US laws. If I misconstrued your motives I apologize. Please don’t accuse me of manipulation and I’ll do my best to keep the typos at a minimum.

      • Understood. I apologize if my accusations were false, I was merely confused by your statement of following the example of Jesus Christ, then turning on my statements as foolishly religious seemed inconsistent, as if you were baiting a religious response in order to attack it, or using a religious reference to placate what you thought were a bunch of religious right-wingers. If I misinterpreted your actions, I apologize.

  32. Kristian says:

    Chris,

    I have always believed in “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”, Pursuit being the operative word here. No where in the Constition does it say anything about fair. Sometimes life isn’t fair, but all of those that you deem worthy of having my hard earned income and that of others redistributed to them had the same oppotunities that I did. To say that they didn’t because of where or who they were born to is just wrong. I was born into poverty and worked my tail off to make something better for myself and my family. Those that are on welfare can do the same thing. They choose not to because it’s easier to let someone else take care of the hard stuff. I have 2 brother’s, raised in the same household as I and they have absolutely no problem letting someone else take care of them. I personally think that’s the easy way out and the Constitution didn’t say anything about life being easy either.

    BTW, BF is a consumate debator. I would suggest that whatever you throw at him you be able to back it up. Think about the basis for your argument, be able to explain why you believe the way that you believe. He’s not trying to change your mind, he’s trying to understand it.

    • Chris Devine says:

      The Constitution was written by property owning white guys who did their best to fit enlightenment principles with their own desires for a system where the odds would be stacked in their favor. However, those enlightenment principles slowly won out after 200 years and changes were made to include all those who were disenfranchised in the beginning. Given the chance why shouldn’t we try to build some fairness into our system? Wouldn’t it be better if we tried to mitigate the effects that pure chance plays, thereby rewarding effort and initiative?

      Regarding Black Flag, I’m not interested in debate. I’m interested in argument in the pursuit of the truth. He doesn’t give a shit what I think and only cares to find insults where none exist. If he wants insults, I’m good at that too. But I’m pretty much done with that guy. If that makes me less of a man, c’est la vie. I don’t need the hassle and his ego seems to be inflated to the brink of bursting anyway.

      • Kristian says:

        Chris,

        If you aren’t interested in debate, then maybe this isn’t the best place for you to be because that is exactly what we do here. And if I’m not mistaken, argument in pursuit of the truth is debating because everyone holds to a different truth. Not everyone here believe the same things. If we did, this would be a pretty boring place to be! What we do have here is respectful debating and insulting each other isn’t the way to accomplish that. I’ve said this before but it obviously bears repeating, he isn’t looking for insult where there is none, he is trying to get you to think about why you believe what you believe. He’s very smart and sometimes may come off as pompous, but that isn’t his intent.

        • Chris Devine says:

          Debating as I see it is picking a side and arguing for it regardless of how you actually feel on the issue. It is the essence of sophistry. Winning for the sake of winning. Winning an argument by attrition instead of logic and reason is counterproductive and malicious in my view.

          If he’s not looking for an insult then why can’t he understand that I didn’t call him ‘un-American.’ I said several times that if chooses to dispute the authority of the Constitution, the supreme law of the United States, then he doesn’t fit the definition of a law-abiding citizen. If you choose lawlessness then you are anarchistic. I didn’t just start off by asserting that he is an un-American anarchist, I argued for it. If he doesn’t agree with my argument let him refute it himself or honestly ask for clarification and stop claiming to be a victim of ad hominem attacks.

          • Black Flag says:

            “..that you aren’t an American…”

            You are aware that we can go up and re-read you post, right?

            Because I do not agree that I am bound by the mere writings of other men does not constitute me to be “not an American”.

            Your choice of labels upon me are your choice, but a confusion of geography does not a principle make!

            My question remains:

            Why do the writings of one man obligate the obedience of another?

            • Chris Devine says:

              What then, wise sage, does it mean to be American? A resident of the middle portion of North America? A descendant of other citizens? Those might be part of it but they aren’t sufficient.

              How does a non-resident become American? It happens through allegiance to the U.S. Constitution (I know my wife took that oath a few years back). What do you propose that makes you American in the absence of any legal criterion? Do you just feel that way? Is it part of your soul? What claim do you have to be an American if you discard the sole basis for citizenship?

              Obligation is voluntary. If you want to renounce your citizenship feel free.

              • Black Flag says:

                See Map. Find America. People living there are called Americans.

                If you wish to expand the definition, I don’t see much harm in that.

              • Black Flag says:

                My question remains unanswered, sir:
                Why do the writings of one man obligate the obedience of another?

              • Chris Devine says:

                Your question was answered: obligation is voluntary. If you choose to live in the US, then you give your implied consent to obey its laws. All laws are writings and you either agree to obey the law or you don’t. If you don’t, expect to pay the consequences.

              • Black Flag says:

                There is can be no implied consent just because I live.

              • Chris Devine says:

                Your quaint notion of what it means to be American (i.e., a U.S. citizen) won’t get you very far in a court of law. Telling that same court that you don’t recognize its authority won’t do much for you, either.

              • Black Flag says:

                The court of law bears no matter to me. An irrational, inconsistent confusion of terms and logic maybe enforced by violence does not suddenly make it logical nor reasonable.

              • Chris Devine says:

                You seem to claim that the Constitution has no authority over you and that laws do not apply unless you explicitly give consent to them. Do you recognize any governmental authority? If not, then you are an anarchist.

                If you disagree with this assessment please provide a definition of anarchy different from: a political philosophy encompassing theories and attitudes which consider the state, as compulsory government, to be unnecessary, harmful, and/or undesirable

          • Chris:

            Perhaps therein lies the difference between you and some of us. A problem I run into with others who wish to discuss “fairness” and “justice” from what I think is your perspective.

            To me and most I know, debate is a civil discussion using logic, reason and all their relations to support a position. If in the end you can’t defend it then maybe its wrong or your defense was poorly constructed.

            The debate definition you refer to is limited to academic exercises. Something most of us left behind a long time ago.

            Now for something good to work with:
            You said “Given the chance why shouldn’t we try to build some fairness into our system? Wouldn’t it be better if we tried to mitigate the effects that pure chance plays, thereby rewarding effort and initiative?”

            These questions infer to me that you hold some value, philosophy, ethic, etc that leads you to believe gov’t should play this role. I would like to see you build the case for that position first.

            Otherwise, I disagree then you disagree and eventually someone gets insulted. So you start and I, and others, will follow.

            Please start a new thread or we’ll be reading some skinny little column of letters on the right.
            Thx
            JAC

            • Chris Devine says:

              The invisible hand of economics is not going to make things fair. Advantages, however they are accrued, will not be distributed fairly. The purpose of government is to ensure that these advantages don’t turn into a self-perpetuating system of privilege. Checks and balances are needed to make sure that hard working people don’t fall through the cracks.

              The invisible hand doesn’t care if a hurricane destroys your livelihood and community. It doesn’t differentiate between those who make a fortune from stolen property and those who build their fortune through hard work. How else are we to ensure that the effects of theft and acts of nature are mitigated?

              It seems to me that the only mechanism for keeping things like that under control is through government involvement. Do you think that we should just let the chips fall where they may and let ‘might make right’ or let innocent people suffer? If not, what other way do you suggest to fix these problems?

          • Debate is a learning process. Arguing is picking a side regardless of the truth. Debate in high school might be about winning and technique. Debate in the real world is about pitting fact and opinions against each other so that a reasonable conclusion may be reached in the process. True persons of debate leave their minds open to the opposition’s side in order to learn. I find holes in my own arguments and good points in my opponenets arguments all the time. It helps me to strengthen my arguments and learn from my opponents. In some cases, I have had to modify my position when I discover errors in my own thinking or in the facts upon which my conclusions are based.

  33. Black Flag says:

    Chris Devine
    April 6, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    It’s a matter of scale. If I run a red light at 4 am when I can see that no other traffic is near then the odds of me doing harm are pretty slim. It’s not that I arbitrarily choose to obey or not obey. It’s that I take into consideration the effects of that choice and decide to break the law only if it causes no harm./

    So, as long as it causes no harm breaking the law is ok….

    What do you define “harm” to be?

    However, when a company pollutes a river to save money in direct violation of laws just because nobody is looking then there is a big problem.

    When someone pollutes the river, it is wrong – not because it breaks a government law.

    Breaking the law with the full knowledge that it will cause harm to others is indefensible.

    Causing harm to others is wrong, not because it breaks government law.

    So, I’m an asshole because I break traffic laws. Mea culpa. I do my best not to hurt others according to your own maxim, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    Does that answer your question?

    So you would have no issue with anyone else breaking any law they wish at anytime they wish, as long as it causes ‘no harm’ – (pending your definition of ‘harm’, of course).

    • Chris Devine says:

      Even if you grant that pollution is wrong in the absence of law, what mechanism do you propose to rectify such matters?

      It’s not a matter of anyone doing anything anytime he wishes. That’s anarchy and precisely what I’m arguing against (and what you seem to be arguing for). I fully expect that if I break the law and get caught that I will be reprimanded. I’m not advocating prior restraint, just due process of law once apprehended and accused of a crime.

      • Black Flag says:

        ARRG! Lack of an editor….

        A lack of a negation does indeed reverse a meaning!!! 😉

        Even if you grant that pollution is wrong in the absence of law, what mechanism do you propose to rectify such matters?

        Absence of government law, Chris – adjectives are important.

        It’s not a matter of anyone doing anything anytime he wishes. That’s anarchy and precisely what I’m arguing against (and what you seem to be arguing for).

        That is NOT anarchy – regardless, I do NOT advocate “doing anything, anytime he wishes” either. It seems the word I’ve repeated many times – “moral” – missed your reading.

        I fully expect that if I break the law and get caught that I will be reprimanded.

        Government does hate those the refuse to obey it.

        I’m not advocating prior restraint, just due process of law once apprehended and accused of a crime.

        I think we agree in very general principles – I do not agree to concepts of punishment, nor revenge. I, however, believe we will significantly disagree on the means of process, rights, and use of legal violence.

        • Chris Devine says:

          On a practical note, I’m curious how you propose that 300 million people of differing beliefs should manage the infrastructure of America without some form of government and its laws.

          Since you’re so good with definitions, what does utopia mean?

        • Black Flag says:

          The same way we manage delivering food to your table –

          – free people delivering services and goods for a profit.

          • Chris Devine says:

            Good luck in the ‘nowhere’ of Freemarketland. It’s right next door to Candyland.

            • Black Flag says:

              Wow!

              How many years of (probably public) education did it require for you to come up with that zinger?

              • Chris Devine says:

                All of them.

                I’ve got some news for you regarding my (partially) public education. The public university I graduated from has three chemical elements named after it and countless Nobel laureates. There is nothing wrong with public education.

                The issue you and others seem to have with public education is that it provides (at public expense) the tools for the rabble to see how they’re being screwed by the people in power and their apologists.

            • It is true that no free markets exist anymore, but when and where they did, they did quite well. I cannot say the same for governments who tried to manipulate an economy.

              As to the quality of yoru schooling, I cannot comment. I can say that your obviously emotional response to BF’s market reference lacks credibility.

              I personally support the existence of government, unlike BF. However, in economic arenas, I see no place for government other than to protect against fraud and theft, which are violations of a right to property.

  34. Black Flag says:

    Chris Devine
    April 6, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    You seem to claim that the Constitution has no authority over you and that laws do not apply unless you explicitly give consent to them. Do you recognize any governmental authority? If not, then you are an anarchist.

    Label me as you wish – making labels hardly constitutes an argument.

    Obviously, I do not subscribe that words on paper, written by other men, obligate me to do anything.

    Thus, I do not recognize any authority over me – that is why I am not a slave.

    If you disagree with this assessment please provide a definition of anarchy :

    -archy = “right to rule”
    -an = “no”

    anarchy = “no right to rule”

    • Chris Devine says:

      Are you dense? That is an argument. Here it is spelled out for you:

      BF recognizes no authority.
      By deifintion, all people who refuse to recognize authority are anarchists.
      Therefore, BF is an anarchist.

      You remind me of a kid I went to school with who asserted that anything he didn’t agree with was ‘just your opinion.’

      For example:

      “Steve, this dictionary clearly shows that there is no word such as ‘thery.’ It’s pronounced, ‘very.'”

      “That’s your opinion.”

      Is that you, Steve?

    • Black Flag says:

      It is a sad sign that you start nearly every post with an insult. Do you have another style?

      BF recognizes no authority.
      By deifintion, all people who refuse to recognize authority are anarchists.
      Therefore, BF is an anarchist.

      I guess you didn’t read my post. I care not your labels – you can jumble any number of letters in any order you want and call me that too, for all I care.

      I gave you MY definition – you can accept it or not.

      You remind me of a kid I went to school with who asserted that anything he didn’t agree with was ‘just your opinion.’

      You remind me of children in school too.

      • Chris Devine says:

        One more for good measure and I’m done:

        You are an ill-informed, argumentative blowhard whose only concern is to appear wise and knowledgeable by continually asking for clarification on matters that couldn’t be clearer (see: elenchus). Your insistence that all I do is affix labels to you shows your inability to accept both criticism and reality in general. I’m sure you are the smartest person you know and that each time you think of a better way to say, “I know you are but what am I,” you sit on the verge of climax. Feel free to speak backwards like Yoda and continue your ‘through the looking glass’ rants into perpetuity.

        May you someday be forced to recognize the illegitimate authority of government and end up in a court room gagged for your insolent tone. Best of luck. Go fuck yourself.

        • Black Flag says:

          You are certainly a master of insults but most certainly demonstrated a lack of argument and consistency.

          I’m surprised you have no answers to my simple questions. I was hoping for better. Oh well.

          You certainly are representative of people on ‘that side of the fence’.

          As far as government, I hold no fear of your master. Yes, government is very dangerous, and I do take care around its claws. But it is as predictable as a violent child.

          As far as luck, sir, the way I play the game, I don’t need luck. 😉

          • Chris Devine says:

            What do you want from me? You say you want answers to your simple questions, but every time I answer them you call ‘foul’ and claim to be insulted. You don’t want answers. You want to maintain your own air of superiority.

            I’m sure you’re real popular in circles like this where your persistent and annoying tactics to reduce an opponent to a quaking mass of pure frustration is great fun. However, I’m here to show that you can’t win an argument through attrition. I think given some time people here will realize that my answers to your questions are provided and that my frustration with your bullshit is warranted even if my outburst are not.

            • Black Flag says:

              What do you want from me?

              A consistent argument. Game?


              You say you want answers to your simple questions, but every time I answer them you call ‘foul’ and claim to be insulted.

              Oh, dear boy, come on now.

              It was only ONE TIME where you muddled geography and principles together. Let’s not hype it up beyond that.

              You don’t want answers. You want to maintain your own air of superiority.

              I want consistent answers. Anyone can rattle of irrationalisms ad nauseum.


              I’m sure you’re real popular in circles like this where your persistent and annoying tactics to reduce an opponent to a quaking mass of pure frustration is great fun. However, I’m here to show that you can’t win an argument through attrition. I think given some time people here will realize that my answers to your questions are provided and that my frustration with your bullshit is warranted even if my outburst are not.

              My questions are simple, Chris. My insistence is genuine. As I said above, consistency. Otherwise, you’d be merely a hypocrite.

  35. USWeapon says:

    Chris,

    Yes it is OK Chris. And those companies that are moving their manufacturing overseas ARE playing with our rules. You make a bullshit rule saying that they have to take the fruits of their labor and give to those that don’t deserve it, and they accordingly take whatever legal steps they can to mitigate their losses, and moving overseas is WITHIN THE RULES.

    It is interesting to listen to you talk about fair play. It seems that the liberal point of view is only interested in THEIR version of fair. It is fair to steal someone’s money and give it to someone else, according to you, but not fair for a business to find the most cost effective legal way to operate their business.

    Suppose that company makes baby formula. They can move overseas, produce it at $2 a bottle, or stay here and produce it at $6 a bottle, because of your legal rules, taxes, and environmental nazism. They go overseas and the the poor masses end up paying $3 dollars a bottle at the store, or they stay here and the poor masses pay $7 a bottle. Which course of action helps the poor to survive? See how you liberal logic falls apart as soon as you take your “feelings” about “fair” out of the equation and apply common sense.

    • Chris Devine says:

      We make the rules. We decide whether we should punish companies who send jobs overseas or reward them for staying. But when those companies think they should be able to sell their products here after leaving communities like Flint, Michigan in ruin, we should be able to tell them to kiss our ass. They put hard-working people out of their jobs and families out of their homes so they could make a few more dollars. Skipping town because you don’t like the rules we made is like the kid who starts losing and takes his bat and ball and goes home.

      There is more to life than cutting costs. There are concerns that are more important than profits. Which isn’t to say that profits are bad, but increasing profits by causing human misery here and abroad is not only unfair it is immoral.

      You need to brush up on your economics. Read about things like ‘elasticity of demand’ and adjust your notions of common sense and how the market responds to regulation.

      Next time you drink some clean water or breathe some clean air you can thank those environmental nazis.

      • Black Flag says:

        I’m unclear what you are intending between ‘demand’ and regulation?

      • USWeapon says:

        And you do have the ability to tell them to kiss your ass, by not buying their products. But that isn’t what seems to happen is it? And since the consumers don’t rally around what you would like to happen, you look for another way to punish those companies. You can’t really call the police on that kid taking his ball and going home, can you? That is because he is within his rights to do so. And so are the companies that leave because environuts put regulations in place because of global warming. The only thing man made about global warming is the myth that it is caused by man.

        That was a nifty little elasticity of demand comment. Please don’t continue to make the assumption that I don’t know as much as you do or you will continue to get embarrassed. Price elasticity of demand doesn’t really apply to baby formula does it? It is a needed item, not one where price regulates demand. Nice try, maybe you should go back and re-read what you are talking about.

        • Chris Devine says:

          Your choice of terms like ‘environmental nazis’ or ‘environuts’ speaks volumes about your level of maturity and your political leanings. You claim to be interested in the truth and in favor of real debate on issues, yet time and time again you espouse some extreme right-wing position. Do you think all regulations meant to protect natural resources are part of some conspiracy to enslave the people or is it just the ones that prevent people from making money?

          The problem that you and many others seem to have is the failure to recognize that private profits made from the use and exploitation of public resources is itself theft. It’s not a matter of ‘if you don’t like it you should have thought of it first.’ It’s about realizing that using what belongs to everybody to make profits and not sharing that with the other owners is stealing.

          Your clever use of the baby formula example didn’t prove my ignorance of economics. Your assumption that baby formula is a necessary expense shows your own. It is entirely possible to nurse an infant without formula. Furthermore, the insistence upon telling people the only way to nourish their offspring is by giving them a man-made substitute for a woman’s breast milk has caused whole generations of infants to be killed in the third world due to the unsafe water needed to reconstitute the powdered formula, all for the sake of the profit motive.

          • Kristian says:

            Chris,

            I’ve had 2 children and I’m here to tell you that not all women are able to breast feed. So, yes, formula is necessary. You talk about extreme right wing positions, what is your position but extreme left? If I am incorrect about your political leanings then I apologize, but from what I have read that is what it sounds like to me. US was right, stop looking at all of this so emotionally and maybe you can see where some of us here are coming from.

            • Chris Devine says:

              I have two children also and know that breast feeding is problematic. However, the inability of some women to breast feed doesn’t make formula universally necessary.

              I apologize for my emotional outbursts. I just don’t appreciate being poked in the chest by people pretending to put forth a constructive argument. If I am guilty of the same I apologize and will do my best to avoid doing so in the future.

              You are correct in assuming I am left of center, far left of center. But my comments regarding conservative viewpoints are directed at those people I know who call themselves dittoheads and their brethren. If I am wrong about some individuals here or if appear the same way I also apologize.

              • Kristian says:

                Chris,

                Just because we don’t believe the way that you do or think the way that you do doesn’t mean that our arguments aren’t constructive or even valid as far as that goes. It simply means we disagree. It’s nothing personal, I don’t know you. So why are you taking it all so personally?

      • Clean water and clean air are the result of efforts made by those of us who were around and taking action before environmentalism was main stream.

        The Greens of today use the environment to push a fascist/socialist program with global govt as their end game. Of course they believe they can control it once they create it. I assume this is who was referred to as environmental nazis. I don’t think that term should have been used, at least just yet.

        The organized environmental movement has gone way past common sense in so many areas. Most of them view humans as a blight on this planet. And, yet we still have significant problems to address. So catch phrases on both sides are less than helpful, they perpetuate division on meaningless differences in those values held by most of us.

        • Chris Devine says:

          Where you around when Thoreau wrote ‘Walden?’ Were you friends with Teddy Roosevelt? The environmental movement has been in the mainstream for a long time. However, organized attempts at convincing the public that the real motives behind environmental regulations are to put in place some evil plan of global domination. A little application of Occam’s razor wouldn’t hurt here.

    • Chris Devine says:

      Just because China and the third world are desperate for jobs of any kind and therefore willing to pollute their countries and exploit their citizens doesn’t make it right. Nor is it right for companies to skip the country for the sole purpose of avoiding regulations designed to prevent such exploitation.

      • Black Flag says:

        That is up to them, not “US” to determine their right or wrong.

        It is perfectly right for organizations to seek whatever locale and means they deem necessary for the exercise of their freedom.

        • Chris Devine says:

          If ‘freedom to pollute’ or ‘freedom to exploit’ is what you consider freedom, then we have no common ground (but you knew that already, didn’t you). Good luck convincing others that your version of freedom is worth pursuing.

          • Black Flag says:

            I think we walked that path already, Chris, regarding pollution.

            IF it harms a person, its wrong.

            But you have to prove the harm first.

            “Exploit” – that’s fuzzy. The question will work out to be – where’s the violence?

  36. Chris:

    “We make the rules. We decide whether we should punish companies who send jobs overseas or reward them for staying.”

    I was about to respond to your other comments when I saw this so I had to jump in quick. “We”???? Who is this??? You eloquantly defended the Constitution as the law of the land to BF. Surely you are familiar with the concept of the tyranny of the majority that concerned our founders. Your eventual outcome of your implication is that as long as “we” decide “we” can do anything we want. Surely you don’t mean this, do you?

    Of course that is how we got where we are, so maybe you do support the notion. If you support the Constitution then you accept the premise of individual liberty. Do you recognize any conflict between our founding documents and your stated beliefs regarding the govt’s role in assuring fairness of income distribution?

    JAC

    • Chris Devine says:

      The tyranny of the majority wasn’t a concern for our founders, it is a phrase taken from Tocqueville’s ‘Democracy in America,’ which was published almost fifty years after the Constitution was written. Our founders were concerned with keeping the rabble from interfering in politics (for fear of the propertied interests losing their disproportionate influence).

      As a matter of practicality, yes we can do whatever we want provided there is enough support for it. However, some measures would require amending the Constitution itself which is no mean feat. The point of our representative form of democracy is that change comes slowly and with compromise. I doubt we’ll see the day when both houses of congress and the president are controlled by the rabble. Odds are for the time being our government will continue to be run by rich white guys for rich white guys, with a few notable exceptions.

      Regarding individual liberty I think this sums it up the best: your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose. The purpose of law is to maximize liberty and resolve conflicts.

      • In my 62 years I’ve read a lot, thought a lot and learned a lot and Chris, after reading your outbursts I have to agree with Bill Buckley, I would rather be governed by the first hundred people in the Boston phone book than a hundred educated people like you.

        • SK

          Me thinks you would get the same result. Pick a phone book from Texas, Idaho, Utah or Montana and you might have a chance.
          JAC

        • Chris Devine says:

          I never even met Bill Buckley, how would he know that I wouldn’t make a good leader? I wouldn’t have minded smoking a few joints with him, though. He seemed like he would have been a blast to hang out with.

          Joking aside, I apologize for my outbursts. After dealing with my two toddlers all day and the one calling himself Black Flag, I must admit that my patience was worn thin. It should be plain to see that Black Flag has no desire to see what or how I think. He has seen that my conclusions are different from his and he has done everything in his ability to place stumbling blocks in my way to make it seem like my reasoning is flawed or illogical. His insistence upon feeling victimized by my ‘insults’ is not constructive. Nor is his style of argument where he picks a line and comments on it after taking it completely out of context. His childish antics (and the recognition of my own frustration at them) is what prompted me to lose my patience. It’s not because he was in any way successful in shedding light on my inconsistencies. But I guess that’s not for me to judge, is it?

      • Chris:

        And what measures do you feel would require amendment?

        You are flat wrong on the tyranny of the majority comment. I have read it in many of the writings surrounding ratification of the US and state constitutions of the time. They were also concerned with tyranny of a minority. I guess tyranny in general.

        Your view of individual liberty is interesting since you wish to dicatate to me how I must live, particularly how much of my property I should keep and what I should be allowed to do with it. Seems thats beyond the point of my nose. You still see no conflict???

        • Chris Devine says:

          I didn’t propose anything in particular, I only meant that there is a limit upon what can be changed. Anything that would violate the Constitution would require its amendment.

          I do not propose to tell you how much property you should keep, nor is that the purpose of regulation. The purpose of regulation is to establish reasonable guidelines on the marketplace to ensure that other concerns (e.g., desires to prevent price-fixing, pollution, theft, etc.) don’t take over.

          I may grant you that the founders were concerned with the tyranny of England, but only so far as it was necessary to garner support for a revolution that require help from people of all stations in life. The founders had every intention of going back to business as usual (i.e., letting the rich white guys run the show) once the Brits were kicked out.

  37. Chris Devine says:

    I see a lot of romantic notions held by posters on this board that pretty much sum up the conservative position on any given issue. Here is where I stand:

    There was no time when upper class property owners did not run this country solely for their own benefit. Even if they required the support of the middle class or poor whites, those in charge had no benevolent intentions to do the right (meaning proper or moral) thing. Any changes this country went through in its 200+ year history that gave rights to the disenfranchised came about through political necessity from the bottom up and not the other way around.

    Pure laissez-faire capitalism (like pure communism) never existed and never will as long as we have concerns that conflict with the profit motive. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that the laws of economics are like the laws of physics or biology. Economics is only a way of describing and predicting collective human behavior. Whereas physics and biology seek to find why small scale changes in the physical world give rise to atoms, molecules, and chemical compounds or cells, organs, and organisms, economics tries to explain why the market as a whole behaves in a certain way as a result of collective behavior. It’s a magical explanation at best and the only reason we keep it is because it works (sometimes).

    Poor people are not the problem. People don’t stay poor because it’s easier than working. Rich people don’t get rich because they worked harder. I do not mean to imply that some poor people do not prefer to live in squalor at taxpayer expense. Nor do I suggest that some (or even a great deal) of rich people never worked hard. All I suggest is that people be honest with themselves and see that competitive advantages in life are not available to all in the same way. Some people will have an easier time succeeding because they had a head start and some people will never succeed because they were chained to the starting line. This is not justice or just natural. Nor is it whining that “life isn’t fair.”

    • Life is indeed not fair. Some who work hard never break out of their “class”. Some are born into great wealth and squander it in revelry and yet die rich. Some talentless fools attain great power, riches, and fame. Some talented geniusses with great work ethic struggle their whole lives. These are factual statements. They are frustrating as well. We have, as a society, a reprehension for unfairness, and thus we are frustrated by the above facts.

      A government cannot fix these things. The comparisons to nature arose out of the stark similarites between the two conditions. Superior genetic versions of various species can still be wiped out by natural disasters. An antelope that is genetically and physically healthy can still die because a cheetah targetted it when it was very young. A thriving ecosystem can be annihilated by a hurricane, a drought, a volcanic blast, etc. Despite this fact, life goes on. There is a self-balancing manner to laizzes-faire in nature. Also, according to evolutionary and genetic theory, there is actually an overall improvement and upward progression in this natural system. It is the most flexible system and the most stable system in the face of chance.

      Chance cannot be removed from life. The forced equalization of an economy in the face of chance will simply cause a different reaction. In many cases, the reaction is far more violent and unfair than if no counter action to chance were taken. Justice is a human concept, so if fairness. Survival of the fittest, on the other hand, existed long before us, and it is indeed natural.

      Humanity has the ability to rise above our base instincts, but I do not believe we have the wisdom to outthink nature on a scale that reaches beyond our own lifetimes. The founding fathers devised a number of freedoms that did not garauntee them power. In fact, the freedoms they granted limited their own power and opened the door for competition against them. Certainly there were self-serving things done as well, but in their time their thinking was revolutionary and a great deal was done to open the door to the changes that later came about.

      The only way to break out of one’s class is to have an opportunity to do so and take it, and escape a negative result of chance. In a land where there is no freedom, there is also no opportunity. You cannot seperate the two. The only way for those with great power and resources to lose their station is to have a competitor siphon their ability to continually replenish that wealth. A law that strips the resources of the wealthy will only drive the wealthy away, not actually take their resources. That is the real reason for the loss of our manufacturing jobs. No one will stand by and be robbed if they have the resources to prevent it. Thus, only those too poor to escape government will be robbed of their wealth, leaving the super-rich free to continually expand their position. Free markets have done the most to create middle classes and reduce the power of the super-rich and high stationed. Trade was the beginning of the end of royalty in the middle ages, the end of feudalism. Now, with trade restriction and taxes, the very rich excape using their resources, and the middle class suffers. Thus, by using government to try to fix the class “problem”, we have actually began a march back to feudalism, with super rich and poor being the only classes.

      I don’t really care whether you are right about fairness and justice. I care that wealth redistribution and legal enforcement of fairness is a path to even greater injustice and unfairness, and that is why I argue against you. It is not a lack of caring for the poor, or a lack if indignation for the undeserving rich, but a lack of faith in any government or legal system to fix the issue. I have far greater faith in myself and my fellowman than in a centralization of power.

  38. PeterB in Indianapolis says:

    Ok a few people have started mentioning the boogey man. That boogey man is “fairness”.

    What the hell is fair? Who determines it?

    Is it “fair” that some guy invented “Tickle Me Elmo” and made millions? Well, it WAS his idea… I didn’t think up the idea, I didn’t implement it, I didn’t produce it. I just bought it for my 3-year old to play with ’cause he thougth it was cute!

    Is it “fair” that the guy that invented “Tickle Me Elmo” has it mass-produced by some toy company that probably pays pitiful wages to some factory wokers in Malaysia and both the guy that came up with the idea and the company that mass-produces the toy rake in the profits? Is it “fair” that they choose not to mass-produce the toy in an American factory where they would have to pay the workers higher wages thereby either making less profit or having to increase the cost to the consumer for the same toy?

    Is it fair that the only benefit that I derive from this toy is that it keeps my 3-year old entertained while simultaneously driving me nuts and praying for the day when my destructive little tyke will break it so I can finally throw it away? Is it fair for me to sue the company that produced this toy because it causes me to have a phychotic break?

    ANSER ME THESE QUESTIONS! THESE ARE THE QUESTIONS THAT KEEP ME UP NIGHTS!

    LOL, actually I sleep quite well, thank you. All of the above is “fair”; oh, and None of the above is “fair”.

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