Why Doesn’t Congress Enact Obviously Necessary Reforms?

Observe American politics for more than a few minutes and you’ll notice something interesting. For the amount of lip service that politicians give to “common sense reforms,” our government just won’t fix its most obvious problems. The national debt is a prime example. Our national debt, at the time of this writing, is roughly $16.7 trillion. In light of that stratospheric figure, the amount of money we give to other countries is jaw-dropping, the amount we spend on ridiculous pet projects and wasteful bureaucracy mind-numbing. The solution is so obvious it’s painful: just stop the flow of cash. What’s the problem, Congress?

In spite of the simplicity of the problem, the solution is complex. Of course we need to persuade our leaders that cutting spending is indeed the problem, but sometimes the only way to do that is to force them to walk their talk. However, finding the best places to apply pressure to the politicians in charge of the federal purse strings can be a tricky, multi-faceted undertaking.

Many people point to the excess of lobbyists and “special interests,” wh0se deep pockets project their siren call towards the capitol. With such large sums of cash tempting politicians, remaining committed to the common sense reforms they talk about in front of the cameras can be difficult. The obvious solution to this problem would be to severely restrict lobbying.

But what if it’s your organization that’s the one doing the lobbying? Doesn’t seem like such a good idea anymore, does it?

Okay, so how about we limit the ability of lobbyists to throw cash at politicians? Now we’re cooking with gas, right? If only. That would raise this important question about First Amendment: Is money speech? Consider this quote from University of Chicago professor Geoffrey R. Stone:

Even though an object may not itself be speech, if the government regulates it because it is being used to enable free speech it necessarily raises a First Amendment issue. Thus, a law that prohibits political candidates to spend money to pay for the cost of printing leaflets, or that forbids individuals to contribute to their favorite political candidates to enable them to buy airtime to communicate their messages, directly implicates the First Amendment. Such laws raise First Amendment questions, not because money is speech, but because the purpose of the expenditure or contribution is to facilitate expression.

Professor Stone’s opinion doesn’t touch on aggregated money, such as that spent by PACs or corporations, but the principle is still there. If one person can give money towards a cause, why can’t people pool their funds to flex some extra muscle?

My opinion on this is simple, if idealistic: If politicians had any integrity anyway, we wouldn’t have to worry about external funding of any kind weakening their resolve to do the right thing. Ergo, we have greater problems than a severe financial deficit. We have an even more severe character deficit. But then, if being in power didn’t sow a field ripe for corruption, then the Constitution wouldn’t require limits on power.

Have we reached a point where we need to put limits on people’s monetary freedom in order to keep politicians honest? To borrow George Bush’s terminology, do we need to abandon our commitment to freedom of speech (in this case, lobbyists’ speech) in order to maintain financial sovereignty as a nation (in other words, to keep from going broke)?

I say no. A corrupt nation is doomed to fail at some point anyway. The cost to liberty isn’t worth the trade.

Advertisements

“Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities” by Glenn Beck

Agree or disagree with Beck, I believe his thoughts here are quite timely. In our frenzied rush to maintain our rights and forge a path for new ones, we Americans have neglected the importance of our adherent responsibilities. Consider this declaration:

As the American Declaration of Independence clearly states, when in the course of human events it becomes necessary for people to band together and collectively declare their rights and responsibilities to which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitle and bind them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should disclose the causes which impel them to such.

Therefore let us declare that we still hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But with those rights come responsibilities.

In order to continually experience life, liberty and happiness as promised, nature’s God demands obedience to His law to protect those rights. This is where we have fallen short and therefore, in order not to lose the blessings of freedom, the people of the world must turn from the sole focus on rights, and recognize the inherent and required responsibilities that we have.

Among the responsibilities to which we must adhere to maintain our God given rights are honor, courage and vigilance.

Over time, we believe that these basic human responsibilities have been trampled, and replaced with degradation, fear and apathy.

But when a long train of abuses of the people and conscience by the media and by other segments of society, pursuing the same path of reducing them to ridicule, scorn and even sub-human status, it is their right, it is their DUTY, to peacefully, but vehemently take a stand.

Men want to be king, and the more we concentrate on our rights and the more we are told not to worry about our responsibilities, the more we lose our rights.

Just as physics show, for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. The time has come to declare that at least for the western world human rights are generally accepted and moving in the right direction however a new movement is required a movement of human responsibility.

The media, politicians and large institutions both academic and political have been lying to us, and we must demand the truth be told.

With that demand, comes the responsibility that we tell the truth first, in ourselves. Too many of us delegate our responsibility to the media…and too many believe there is no personal responsibility at all.

Political correctness has polluted our language and clouds our every discussion.

What was once accepted as good and right, is now considered bad and evil, and that which was bad and evil is now presented to the world as good and decent.

Opposing thoughts or opinions are referred to as crazy, insane, non-factual and utterly without merit. Furthermore, we are told, they should not even be heard.

Now, the time has come to take a stand by exhibiting the traits – honor, courage and vigilance.

What is honor? It is being honest in all of our dealings. It is showing loyalty and fairness, and being a beacon of integrity in all our beliefs and actions. It is showing respect for others.

Ruth honored Naomi when she told her that she would not leave her. That she would go wherever Naomi went, that she would live where Naomi lived and die where Naomi died. Her God would be Naomi’s God.

Courage is the ability to face danger, criticism or scorn – not without fear, but while overcoming fear to deal with that which comes our way.

When no one else in the Kingdom wanted to face the mighty giant, Goliath, young David was willing. David must have felt fear at the sight of his foe, but overcame it, and courageously vanquished his enemy.

Vigilance is being watchful for all forms of treachery and tyranny, lies and deceit. The person in the watchtower, waiting all night, suddenly sounding the alarm that the enemy is coming. The careful observer of the markets and economies who proclaims to the world, all is not well, there is trouble ahead and the outspoken critic of the powerful, going against societies’ grain, warning that all is not as we’re being told. These are the vigilant.

We implore all people to stand with these characteristics – honor, courage and vigilance.

To that end, we must restore honor in our own lives. Seek after the truth. Declare right now, that no longer will we simply accept what is told us by the media or anyone else.

The media has the responsibility to tell the truth, we have the responsibility to learn it.

Stand with courage, even if it means the end of our jobs, the end of our positions in life…or even the end of our very lives.

We must have the courage to be peaceful, while recognizing the courage to defend and respond to threats and/or attacks when necessary.

Turn the other cheek when possible.

We must be vigilant. We must think the unthinkable. The holocaust occurred because no one could imagine it, but evil never sleeps, and neither must we.

As Edmund Burke said, “all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” We must DO something. Stand watch. Speak up. Become involved.

Thus, we the people do hereby declare not only our rights, but do now establish this bill of responsibilities.

1. Because I have the right to choose, I recognize that I am accountable to God and have the responsibility to keep the 10 commandments in my own life.

2. Because I have the right to worship as I choose, I have the responsibility to honor the right of others to worship as they see fit.

3. Because I have freedom of speech, I have the responsibility to defend the speech of others, even if I strongly disagree with what they’re saying.

4. Because I have the right to pursue happiness, I have the responsibility to show humility and express gratitude for all the blessings I enjoy and the rights I’ve been given.

5. Because I have the right to honest and good government I will seek out honest and just representatives when possible. If I cannot find one then I accept the responsibility to take that place.

6. Because I have the God given right to liberty, I have the personal responsibility to have the courage to defend others to be secure in their persons, lives and property.

7. Because I have the right to equal justice, I will stand for those who are wrongly accused or unjustly blamed.

8. Because I have the right to knowledge, I will be accountable for myself and my children’s education…to live our lives in such a way that insures the continuation of truth.

9. Because I have the right to pursue my dreams and keep the fruits of my labor, I have the responsibility to feed, protect and shelter my family, the less fortunate, the fatherless, the old and infirm.

10. Because I have a right to the truth, I will not bear false witness nor will I stand idly by as others do.

Unconditionally, while maintaining my responsibility to compassionately yet fiercely stand against those things that decay the natural rights of all men. And for the support of this declaration, and with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence we mutually pledge to each other our lives, fortunes and sacred honor.

 

– Glenn Beck

The False Identity Narrative

If you are anything but a straight white Christian male, Democrats are dumbfounded if you vote Republican.

Why?

Because they have successfully constructed and promulgated a narrative of false identity. If you’re a woman, you’re obviously voting with reproductive “rights” in mind. If you’re a Hispanic, you’re voting with immigration in mind. If you’re black, poverty programs. If you’re gay, the definition of marriage. If you’re Muslim, non-discrimination.

I didn’t decide on those labels and corresponding issues. Democrats did, and that’s a demonstrable fact.

Our differences automatically put us into distinct boxes (read: voting blocs). As a result, our identity as “Americans” is eroding. Being American means you are recognized as having immutable value that is derived from your creation as a unique individual human.

Increasingly, however, your identity as an individual is overshadowed by your specific traits that put you in a subgroup like the ones listed above. Your subgroup dictates your concerns and priorities, which therefore determine your voting preference. And since democrats have tailored the conversation on each issue to fit your specific subgroup, namely by assigning absolutes and red herrings to any change to existing legislation proposed by the republican candidate, the only logical choice is pressing the button for the candidate with a D beside his or her name.

Once you are in a box, you are not allowed to leave — peacefully. Yes, you’re technically allowed to leave, but you will forever be branded a traitor to those you left in the box — those who have your (supposed) best interest at heart.

We have lost our way, not because we choose to vote democrat or republican as a matter of conscience, but because we have bought into this false collective identity narrative. If you choose to vote democrat, I will respectfully disagree with you 99% of the time. But that is your right, and I am assuming you came to your decision with careful thought — as an individual. I ask that you do the same for not only me but my fellow Americans — white, black, Hispanic, Asian, lesbian, gay, Christian, Muslim, atheist, rich, poor — everyone.

Inevitable Confusion and Mental Reorientation After the Election

Leading up to the Presidential election of 2012, my hope for an end of the administration with which I had disagreed so fervently and persisently was growing shaky. But I held out until election day, thinking that America would learn from its mistake four years ago and opt for a better choice this time around. When I woke up Wednesday morning after the election, there’s no doubt I was shaken — but not with apocalyptic fears about what Barack Obama could or would do with another four years. I was shaken by a stark realization about my fellow Americans. Skip to the end if you want to know what it is. Or read on to figure out what made me see it.

Let’s look at the recent sequester: In 2013, the infamous sequester is set to cut $85 billion out of $3.5 trillion in estimated spending. That’s the same as cutting $85 out of a $3500 budget. Politicians like our President, as well as liberal media, have been gushing with tales of horror and doom that will most certainly result because of this meager 2.4% cut. Now that’s not to say that the sequester wasn’t poorly conceived, as evidenced by cutting things like the military’s college tuition assistance while leaving the Congressional salaries intact. But still, $85 billion was cut. And people flipped out. Are you kidding me? When the whole debt stands at $16.6 trillion?

Furthermore, we will spend about $3.5 trillion this year. About $1.6 trillion of that will be deficit spending. How is this not universally seen as problematic? Why would we reelect a man who brought us three $1 trillion+ deficits in a row?

And yet to bring this up to an Obama voter is to regurgitate a “Faux News” talking point. Excuse me for asking an obvious question, but how did we get here? Is the debt truly a problem, or do people in power give it lip service to make themselves appear concerned? Apparently the electorate doesn’t mind. Not only did we reelect a President who presided over the addition of twice as much debt as his predecessor in just half the time it took his predecessor, we reelected a remarkable 90% of sitting Congress members, despite repeated abysmal approval ratings of Congress generally.

Look, I’m not here to bash Obama, liberals, or Democrats. Everyone in Washington bears their part of the blame. I’m just aghast that anyone, anywhere, of any political stripe, would vote for people who perpetrate this kind of reckless irresponsibility upon our country, no matter what letter stands beside their name. And the deficit is only one of many problems towards which Americans have developed a dangerous level of apathy. I’m literally shocked into silence that our country could see what is happening and still say, “Four (or two, or six) more years, please!”

When a problem of this magnitude stares you in the face and you simply cast your ballot for more of the same, then we can no longer blame the person in the White House. We can only blame ourselves.

The New Republican

Ever since the Obama reelection landslide last November, the Republican party has been trying to establish a cohesive creed. What should a Republican look like now? Is it time to abandon the way the party’s always done things?

The country I know and love was founded on several immutable truths stemming from the reality of a Creator who governs the affairs of men. There are natural laws that the government must respect for a republic such as ours to be successful, such as the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, private property, etc. As of late, however, our country is increasingly taking on the appearance of a democracy. Not so much in the apparatus of government, but in that popularity of an idea trumps the moral value of that idea. Polls dominate the punditry. Majority opinion is the stuff of talking points. Sweeping election victories are seen as mandates. Principles are now, in many cases, subject to whims of increasingly degenerate constituencies.

And so it came to be that the names of the two American parties are now at war for the heart of the nation: Should our government be a democracy or a republic?

The GOP is filled with the vestiges of tradition and, in some cases, virtues of an era gone by. Some of those traditions and virtues are as old as our founding documents, such as defense of the right to life. Some came about later, such as championing civil rights in the 1960s. But the Republican platform has remained more or less steady in its virtue by focusing not on people, but principles. That is a strength that cannot be overstated.

The Democrats, on the other hand, shape-shift in order to mirror the shifting tide of morality in 21st-century America. True to their name, if a sea change occurs in the citizenry, the Democrats will have charted it and adjusted their target voter demographics accordingly. In stark contrast, the Republican party has sat like an old boulder on the shore. It has held firm on many of social issues now considered jurassic by the far left, and at the very least, fatally outdated by a strong majority that includes the moderates. It appears that sacrificing the principles of the republic in favor of receiving votes of a democratically minded majority might be the only move left.

Amnesty for undocumented immigrants, legalizing gay marriage, and “reproductive rights” (code for unlimited abortion) comprise the vanguard of the war the cultural movers and shakers are waging to try to relegate the GOP to the history books. It’s becoming clear that the only way to retain any sort of political clout in the future is for the party to embrace the “clear wisdom” of these issues and adopt them into the party platform.

Doing so will officially mark the end of our republic as we know it. Our republic was not built upon majority opinions (the very definition of a democracy), but upon the truth of the Bible and the rights that naturally follow from accepting its truth. That is a fact, not an opinion. What does the GOP have if not truth? Will it stand up to the great danger of our lifetimes, moral relativism, or bow down to it? Pay close attention to upcoming elections. The campaign lines you will hear from Republican candidates will indicate which choice they have made.

A Government of Laws

In recent discussions with at least two different liberals, I have encountered variations of the following assertion after a discussion about federal individual assistance programs: “Government is you and me, not some nebulous, inherently ‘other’ thing.” Oh, really. And this supreme tidbit of insight was where, exactly, from 2000 to 2008?

John Adams once added the idea of “a government of laws, and not of men” to the Massachusetts constitution. Adams, who, along with thousands of others in his day, lived under the subjective edicts of King George, grew to realize that laws are universal, and (ideally) not at the whim of the current ruler. This idea became the very crux of our system of government. Laws must reflect the fact that all men are created equal. Preference cannot be made in the heat of the moment or based on temporary circumstances.

I think Adams’ concept has a second meaning. Government is comprised of men, yes, but only in the capacity to enforce laws that ensure liberty for all men. We drift towards dangerous waters when we think of the government as some organic, emotional creature like a human, or a group of humans. Men have a subjective bent and need constant magnetization to the truth. Has the decadence of great empires not taught us that cultures fade into complacency over time as men begin to accept gifts and subjectively-granted rights from their government? It is imperative that the federal government of America is not viewed as a collective gathering of men who seek to pool their resources for the common good.

Cliche as they are in today’s political discourse, the Constitution and its companion, the Declaration of Independence, still provide not only an excellent legal basis for our federal government, but also serve as a compass for our notion of government. What we have is a system that designates a necessary but highly dangerous entity to hold together individual and otherwise independent states. We have a system of restrictions on that entity, not empowerment of that entity for the very subjective idea of “greater good”. It’s vital to the long-term health of this republic that we do not succumb to our emotions and sympathies by consenting to an excess of “compassionate” programs.

“Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” – George Washington

Lost in Translation, Part 1: The Entitlement Mentality

American politics is a different animal. If you’re not careful, you might start believing, as many do without realizing it, that our state and federal governments are above the laws of human nature, economics, and finance. A lot of politicians and political aficionados might seem pretty normal talking about the weather or a recent doctor’s visit, but start discussing the federal government and you’re likely to witness some pretty amazing mental gymnastics. Somewhere in the development of a political philosophy, principles generally recognized as “common sense” begin to give way to what some call “Washington speak.” These next few articles will highlight just a few widely-accepted laws of nature governing personal and family issues that get “lost in translation” as people distort or simply ignore them when trying to reinforce their political argument.

The first is an entitlement mentality.

If you had even halfway decent parents growing up, you know that they sometimes said “No.” Ever considered why? At some point, we all came to realize that their refusal to give us everything we wanted was actually for our benefit. If you get what you want, when you want, every time, you come to expect immediate gratification in all areas of life. Your life becomes increasingly egocentric and artificial. And when you hit the real world and the gravy train stops, you’re left with lots of unanswered questions and an incredible sense of loss. Of course, the preventive cure is delaying pleasure and working hard throughout your formative years.

Do these principles hold true for people already out on their own? We all know they do. If that guy’s rich daddy bails him out every time he partied a little too hardy over the weekend, what would we say about him? “He hasn’t grown up yet.” If that girl’s credit cards keep getting maxed out and she runs to mom for a new one every time, would we think she was a well-rounded individual? Of course we wouldn’t. With a good upbringing that emphasized diligence and self-respect, it’s likely you’ll turn out okay, no matter your place in the rat race we call the American economy. You will probably be a self-starter and won’t view government entitlement programs as desirable. However, anything that comes free has the potential to addict. Money, especially, is no exception.

More food stamps have been handed out in the past couple of years than at any time in American history. Does this trend negatively or positively? Are entitlements now desirable? Politicians’ claims that unemployment benefits are the best stimulus for the economy still cannot change human nature: people will gravitate towards what is easy and free. Even the best of people. Those without the tools to deal with hardship and want will gobble up such benefits without a second thought. Those with a good work ethic will slowly be corrupted by the allure of entitlement. This irrefutable fact of life is crucial to a child’s upbringing, yet is routinely lost in the clamor of competing political worldviews. Does the passage of money through the hands of Washington politicians cleanse the currency of its addictive nature? If not, then why are there so many otherwise clear-thinking adults who favor a more robust social welfare net?

Entitlements make people of any age feel entitled. Obviously, people can fight off this crippling mentality, but the danger is nonetheless there. With the number and scope of federal entitlement programs on the rise, we must honestly assess the path that our nation is on. Will an entitlement mentality overcome our desire to help ourselves, or will we keep hoping that welfare programs will give us just the push we are looking for to get us out of economic malaise before the detrimental effects of free money fatally infect us?