It’s about two weeks since Clint Eastwood gave his allegedly impromptu (1) speech to the GOP convention in Florida, aided by a debate with an empty chair, thus I’ve had enough time to address it, and the fallout therefrom, in the tempered, reflective voice I prefer to speak in. If you are laughing at my assertion that I can actually be either tempered or reflective, remember these are preference of mine, admittedly not ever present ones, and sometimes passion for a debate point reads a bit louder. Consider it a punctuation defect of a sort.
I’ll start with the notion that I don’t really give a crap what any Hollywood movie-maker thinks about anything political or philosophical, even the one’s I agree with. “Why?,” you ask. Well, because, frankly speaking, in my view of reality, the ability to read lines off a cue card, or hit a mark during filming; or, for that matter, to direct a camera lens to capture the actors in the scripted performance of a movie scene, doesn’t offer much in the way of an exercise in the kind of critical thinking that would lead me to give much weight to their political or philosophical views. I don’t say that to denigrate any of the members of the profession; only to note it takes a significantly greater bit more of applied gray matter and skill to take a scalpel to someone’s body and fix what’s broken within it; or, to take the problems of a client and resolve them through the cauldron of a jury trial, than it does to make a movie, critically acclaimed or otherwise. I’ll add to that notion, it takes more focused gray matter and perseverance to guide a child from exit from the birth canal to productive member of society than it does to make a movie too, but the doctors and lawyers get paid for what they do, parents don’t.
Perhaps you still have doubt and are of a mind to consider my remarks mere effete snobbery on my part. Okay, consider this. Pick a problem, any problem. Say, for example, you have a pain in your side, that persists for more than a day. Do you consult with your auto-mechanic for advice on what is causing it, or what it might be? I don’t think so. Do you consult with your tax accountant instead? Likely not. Your lawyer? Nope. I posit, if your body is in pain, logic and experience dictates, your consultant of the first resort is your doctor. Alternatively, if you are arrested for DUI, do you really consider calling your dentist first? I think not. If you won the lottery or inherited a few million dollars, would the first, second or third person you consulted with to decide how to manage the proceeds of that windfall be your bartender, barber, veterinarian or local priest? Hopefully not.
It is a testament to how much we have collectively learned as humans that it is no longer possible for any one human to know everything about everything. That we develop careers that specialize in some aspect of some single class of something is a tacit acknowledgment of that notion; and, one’s ability to be discerning about who and to what extent one consults with an “expert” in one or more aspect of life is a rough guideline to how successfully we are navigating our course though it. That one has a diploma and a certificate attesting to his or her “expertness” in a given field is a good start in establishing credentials, but it is not a guaranty of actual expertise, that only comes from using the book-learned knowledge in actual practice, and getting it right. I am fond of noting, to any who will listen, that half of all the doctors and lawyers out there graduated in the bottom half of their class. Does that mean the bottom half doesn’t do well in actual practice? Not really. Most of what you learn in law school has nothing to do with actually practicing law. The emphasis in law school is on learning to “think like a lawyer,” in seeing there are always at least two views of any given issue, that it is important to be discerning about what is a “fact” and what is a mere “opinion;” and, how the law has adapted to and effectuated social change over time. Left out of the training process are the essentials of how one actually pleads a claim; makes a motion; deals with hostile clerks, judges and courtroom staff; or gets a client to tell you the truth, so as to avoid surprise at trial. You learn to do these things on your feet, and if you have some grit, you learn to stand in and keep punching while you’re learning. Needless to say, some who excelled at book learning in law school weren’t up to, or interested in, the street fight of the actual practice of law; and, some of the bottom dwellers academically, turned out to be very effective litigators and commercial transactions lawyers. I suspect it works the same way in the medical profession.
My point, and I do have one, is that the genuine expertise in these venerable and ancient professions is acquired more through actual practice than by just reading about it. More importantly, expertise is not restricted to the learned professions. In the days before electronic diagnostic equipment, a good auto mechanic could listen to your engine and tell you with great precision what the problem with is was. Many still can, only now they can confirm their diagnosis by plugging your car’s onboard computer into a diagnostic machine and read the results. A good carpenter can turn the humblest of abodes into a palace with the right materials and the skills to join them together in sturdy and eye-pleasingly fashion. Today’s carpenters might be aided by an assortment of power tools that their predecessors never had, but the essence of the craft remains the same, and requires practice to excel at. A good manager sets and realizes realistic goals for his or her staff and keeps them functioning through the vagaries of business cycles, personal issues at home and personality issues in the workplace. Most all of this “expertise” was acquired on the battlefield, not in the classroom. This is not a diss on book-learning, which functions to teach your mind what to look for and how to weigh what you’ve found. But no amount of reading will teach you how to meet a new client, who believes the world is about to end, because his or her spouse has decided to divorce them, and be able to gain enough of their confidence to get them to focus on what they need to do to get through the process successfully and make a new life. You can look at pictures of a cap plane, watch a video of one being used, read the instructions that come with the better ones, but until you actually hold one in your hand and run it down a wooden board, you don’t really know what it feels like to use one. At the risk of beating a dead horse, you can ride as a passenger in a car for a million miles, but until you actually get behind the wheel and try to steer one, you don’t really know what it takes to drive one.
So too it is with each of us collections of quarks and leptons (2) over the seemingly infinite array of what life has to offer. We are allotted varying degrees of intellectual capacity at birth. We spend from 8 to over 20 years of our early lives in classrooms, having a panoply of information thrown at us, some of which sinks in, and then we perpetrate ourselves onto society. Some of us marry or pair off, raise children and scramble to support our kith and kin. Others of us start out and fall back, or off the road completely. Let’s face it. Some of us are dolts, and will be, no matter how much education is attempted to be poured into their heads. Some of us are better at coping with the vagaries of life, and will succeed whatever the business and social cycles have in store for us. Such is life. But all of us have an ever growing degree of exposure to what is going on in the world about us. Today it is news. By tomorrow it is history. We all live in it, history, yet some of us garner a greater sense of what it means than others. I wonder how many of us actually reflect on what is presently transpiring in our society and can actually recognize the war between two vastly different socio-political philosophies that is being waged. Whichever side wins this war will dictate how we live our lives for generations to come. If you doubt this assertion, consider the following.
The central issue of the war is based on the role of “government” in our lives. I’ve written earlier diatribes on what that notion meant to those who brought about our nation, and do not repeat myself…okay, not at great length anyway. Suffice it to say, the Founders believed in a federal government of limited scope, with specifically iterated powers and the remainder of the possible powers being reserved to the member States and to the People. If you are wondering what powers are actually reserved to the “People,” I suggest you re-read the Declaration of Independence, as the key ones are all about self-determination and living as unfettered by governmental intrusion as is practicable…that is what the inalienable rights we were endowed by our Creator were all about…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The lack of further description or articulation as to precisely what those rights are was part of the point. To iterate them would be to restrict them to the list, and that is not what the Founders intended. The goal was to form a society in which each member was free to choose his or her own destiny — to pursue what they pleased, so long as that didn’t intrude on anyone else’s pursuit of their own happiness. By and large, it was left to the legislatures of the respective States to determine where the pursuit of individual liberty exceeded societal norms, thus the penal and civil codes of each State. There is but one crime defined in the Constitution itself — treason, because that is an affront to the entire nation.
If you, as am I, are a student of history, you can see how we have gotten far afield of the original notions put forth by the Founders; and, perhaps why. The Founders and our early federal administrations were wary of international relations and advisedly so. We fought a bloody war to secure our freedom from European colonialism and didn’t want to have to repeat the effort, although the English obliged us one more time in 1812, just 29 years after the actual end of the Revolutionary War. We also fought a bloody civil war to resolve forever the extension of the inalienable rights described in the Declaration to those who were still held in slavery. We managed to extend the voting franchise to women without the need for an armed insurrection, we did it through the ballot box and amendment of the Constitution in the manner it was intended to be amended. When we tried our hand at legislating morality to the extend of banning liquor, through Constitutional Amendment, we found we didn’t like it and reversed ourselves. I posit these actions by the electorate as proof that the system as conceived and implemented by the Founders actually works. Perhaps not as fast as some would have it, but the reversal on liquor is, in my mind, proof that popular opinion is no substitute for sound, if not sober, reflection and frankness in dealing with the human condition.
All the while we rode out these kinks in our political system, the individual members of our society were hard at work building an ever increasingly industrial and technological society out of the essentially agrarian one that we started with. Railroads were built to tie the country together East to West and North to South. The automobile and airplane were brought from conception to mass produced and commercially available in a single generation, not only changing forever our ability to travel, but creating jobs and wealth in the process. Were there poor working conditions, sub-standard wages and other abuses of power perpetrated on the early industrialized work-force? You bet — but comparison of those circumstances to today’s standards is nonsensical. There was no standard initially because the entire notion of industrializing had only just begun. In a free market society, there is a constant ebb and flow of power between those who supply the capital and those who supply the labor. In response to those early working conditions, trade unions were formed and strikes became a method of getting attention and serious negotiation. Importantly, the trade union movement was not brought about via governmental regulation — is was a natural development in a society free to find its own level of balance between the warring factions.
The notion of a fully unfettered society, free to live, work, worship and pursue happiness doesn’t sit well with some of our fellow conglomerations of quarks and leptons — they presume to know better than the masses and insist that government be used to provide something from a gentle nudge to an outright shove, or worse, to compel free spirited individuals to conform to their notion of what is good, right and just. These people detest individuality because it is unpredictable, and thus uncertain and largely un-controllable. That it is precisely this freedom that is largely responsible for the success of the society we do have is of no importance or consequence to their ends, except in the perceived need to crush it out.
If you doubt this assertion, consider the astronomical growth in the size and scope of our federal, state and local governments over the past few decades. You don’t need me to cite a bunch of statistics, just use your head and your memory — after all, you are a part of history. Start with the notion of health. Who is in charge of your health? If you think you are, guess again. You presently have some control over what you eat, when you eat it and how much of it to consume — but NY City has a Mayor that has what to say about some of what you consume and has imposed a ban on soft drinks over a certain size. That’s just the latest incursion into individual liberty. Want to smoke a cigarette? Not indoors anymore, except maybe in your own home, and it won’t be long before the activists on behalf of your children and neighbors ban that too! How about smoking a joint? That’s unlawful everywhere…except where you can get a script from a doctor saying it’s for medical purposes. What a joke. The evidence shows marijuana is more lethal than cigarettes. How about a drink? If you’re over 21 you can buy liquor (you only have to be 18 to die for your Country…blame the insurance industry) but if you get behind the wheel of a car with some liquor in you, you are in for the ride of your life. Feel ill? Want to buy a drug you found efficacious the last time you felt that way? You can’t if it’s a prescription medication, unless you get a script from your doctor first. Why? Because drugs are apparently not a right either, but a privilege, and thus subject to governmental determination of who and under what circumstances you can access them. Like to drink un-pasturized milk? Better own a cow, you can’t buy it. When you think about it, the government has what to say about many things you want to eat, smoke or drink— and asserts itself as the legitimate arbiter of whether and to what extent you can. Have you ever asked yourself why that is?
In an ordered society, one with automobiles weighing a ton or two, capable of inflicting serious bodily injury or death if operated improperly, it is logical for the collective “People” to assent to such regulation by the “government” as to ensure a would-be driver possesses the minimum skills to drive one; to set standards of the maximum amount of blood alcohol one might have in one’s system and still lawfully drive one; and, to set standards for the minimum steering and braking capabilities of the vehicle, subject to periodic testing, to ensure unsafe vehicles are kept off the road.
In reality, none of the “People” directly assented to any of this “regulation” — it was long ago determined by our courts and legislatures that “driving” is a privilege, not an inalienable right. One wonders what the Framers might have had to say on the subject had cars been around at the time of framing. Neither the Declaration nor the Constitution speaks to the ownership or operation of a horse and buggy. Be that as it may, the “government” has a lot more to say about your car and your driving of it. At the federal level, it purports to regulate emission standards; the amount of ethanol that must be infused into the gasoline you use to operate the vehicle; to require that every vehicle be equipped with safety belts; and imposes a myriad of safety regulations that apply to the plants where the individual parts are manufactured as well as where they’re all put together. Whether you realize it or not, the imposition of each of these layers of regulations adds to the ultimate cost of acquiring and operating your car.
You might think this all emanates from a simple assertion made in the Preamble to our 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.”
Interestingly, however, the Supreme Court has held, in Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11, 22 (1905) “Although that Preamble indicates the general purposes for which the people ordained and established the Constitution, it has never been regarded as the source of any substantive power conferred on the Government of the United States or on any of its Departments.” Thus, the authority to legislate on the subject must be found elsewhere in the Constitution.
If you’ve been keeping up with current events, you know that the Supreme Court recently visited the subject of “Obamacare” and found it to pass Constitutional muster, not under the late twentieth century haven for governmental intrusion, the “Commerce Clause;” but under its perhaps even broader sister, the “Taxing and Spending Clause.”
As recently construed by the Supremes, the “government” can, and does, use its power to tax to extract vast sums of money from the populace, to spend as it sees fit, and apparently may use that tax power to urge you to do, or to dissuade you not to do, almost anything. Chew on that a bit, and perhaps you can see my concern.
Our federal “government” is elected in two (Congressmen), four (President) or six (Senators) year terms, depending upon which branch and house the candidate is elected to. While an elected official, one gets to propose; and vis a vis legislators, vote upon, whatever cocktail of legislation is on tap. If you look at the iteration of what our Congress is supposed to concern itself about, that’s in the Constitution, you might expect things to be pretty dull in Washington. After all, how often is it necessary, or how complicated is it, to legislate to provide for Post Offices, an Army and Navy, coining money, punishing piracies, regulating patents and declaring war? I suggest you read Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution to see how truly limited the scope of the legislative power was at the time of the Constitution’s adoption. How it morphed from that notion of simplicity, to the gargantuan legislation mill it is today, is the stuff a future diatribe is made of. Suffice it for our purposes, anyone who has even the remotest sense of the million on millions of pages of federal legislation and accompanying regulations might recognize we have created a cottage industry of enactments that intrude further and further into the realm of that which used to be in purview of the exercise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
There are those who distrust big business and those who distrust big government, oddly enough for much the similar reasoning — too much power is corrosive. Which is worse? I vote for over-bloated government. Why? Because free markets can tame over-grown businesses, but over-grown governments are nearly impossible to reign in, short of rebellion. If you doubt that, consider this. Left to their own devices, business combinations could conspire to rig prices and drive up the cost of any commodity or service that might be on the market. But when they do, what happens? Demand dries up. If it’s oil, people drive less, postpone vacations that were going to be done by auto and lower their thermostats. It’s one thing to drive prices up, but if nobody’s buying, there’s no profit in the domination of the pricing end of the market until there are enough sales to earn one. Thus, the un-organized heard that is the denizens of the free market will ultimately bring prices down, without any legislation, price controls or open rioting. In the end, business exists to make money and there’s no money in pricing your market into extinction. Remember, all those oil company executives report to shareholders, who love profits, but hate downturns in revenue or profits. Those shareholders aren’t good buddies from the oil patch. In contemporary society, they’re pension fund managers, State Comptrollers, and individuals with self-directed IRA’s and 401(k) plans that want a return on their investment, not a pyrrhic victory over the price of gas.
Not so with big government. When the government bloats, the electorate can’t vote it out. The bloat isn’t in the size of the class of elected representatives, that doesn’t change. It is in the size of the entrenched bureaucracy, the suck-off of individual wealth in the form of ever more burdensome taxes and in the creation of an underclass of the electorate that has been made dependent on the governmental dole. If you think about it logically, to merely eradicate a layer of bureaucracy that serves no useful purpose, at the federal level, you need a President and both houses of congress to agree to eliminate them, propose and pass the legislation to do so, have the President sign that legislation into law, then ride out the District Court, Court of Appeals and Supreme Court decisions as to whether the eradication passed Constitutional muster. Are you joking? Tell me the last governmental agency that has been successfully eradicated through the combined legislative, executive and judicial process? You can’t name one, because it never happened. The notions of Social Security and Medicare might have been high minded and noble, but what did these programs really do, other than create a significant portion of the electorate beholden to the political party that pushed them through? People didn’t starve to death for lack of food at any greater rate than they do today, before Social Security. The slack was picked up by charity, a Christian notion that antedates the Declaration and the Constitution. Before the government became the public teat, the People understood it to be their Christian, not civic, duty to take care of the less fortunate in society. If any of my Jewish or Moslem or Hindu brothers and sisters take umbrage at my assertion, kindly reflect on your respective numerosity here, before the turn of the Twentieth Century and admit your presence here was statistically negligible. Our Country, without imposing any official dogma, was founded by Christians, whose core values permeate the Declaration and Constitution, without shackling our government with any specific dictates of any branch of Christianity whatsoever. The words in the Declaration speak to our Creator, not Jesus Christ, Budda, Allah or Vishnu — by design, not forgetfulness as to whom that meant in the minds of the authors.
As originally propagandized, Social Security(3) was supposed to be a “trust fund” into which the taxpayers’ hard earned dollars were to be deposited and repaid on their retirement. Some of the early contributions were calculated to cover the cost of covering those already too old to fully contribute their fair share of what they’d withdraw. The notion is fundamentally Christian at its base. So what happened? Somewhere along the line, our elected officials determined that there wasn’t a need to maintain Social Security as a “trust fund” — instead, they allowed the Treasury to withdraw the “trust funds” and substitute in their place, government bonds, backed by the general revenue. Think about that for a minute. At conception, Social Security was formed to be a stand-alone fund, into which the electorate paid their taxes and from which the electorate drew their pensions, so to speak. The cumulative taxes would be invested and earn some rate of return and the vagaries of the mortality table would even out the claims of those who didn’t pay in as much as they took out. So far, so good. But what happens when you take out the investable funds and replace them with mere governmental IOU’s? Don’t stop there. Create a new class of claimants, who never paid in for benefits, and call it SSI. Any actuary worth the designation would cry foul. The contribution rates and payout rates were calculated on the publicized assumptions, not the new pitch. Who’s going to pay for this? Do you need to guess it is you? When originally enacted in 1937, the Social Security tax was a whopping 2% of wages, paid half each by employer and the employed. Self-employed persons weren’t covered and didn;t pay in.
How does a government with a tax power get more revenue? One way is to tax more people, the other is to raise the rate. Our federal government did both vis a vis Social Security. In 1950, they bumped up the employer/employee contributions to 1.5% each (yes, a 50% increase if you do the math.) In 1951, they added the self-employed’s and gave them a discount, a 2.25% rate. There being no one else to tax, since then the rate only has been increased. But one way to increase the rate and call it something different, is to allege you added a program and attribute the additional taxes to that. Thus, by 1966, the base Social Security tax contribution rose to 3.85% for each employer and employee and a new tax was added, for medicare, starting at a mere 0.35% for each employer and employee.
Ask yourself something. If in 1937, when Social Security was originally formulated, and it had actuarial integrity, inclusive of accounting for all those old people who would claim benefits, but never paid-in, how was it that by 1966, not only had the contribution rate have to be increased 10 times, but the program expanded to the self-employed and a new tax added? If you’re guessing the need to fund an ever bloated Treasury to cover government spending,, having nothing whatsoever to do with Social Security, give yourself a gold star. But keep in mind, by expanding the number of citizens on the dole, who are now beholden to those who put them on there, do you think that might tend to entrench the political party that made it happen? If you do, good for you. The reality is that the Democrat President, Franklin Roosevelt, aided by Democrat majorities in both houses of Congress, delivered Social Security. Was it coincidence that the Democrat President, Lyndon Johnson, aided by Democrat majorities in both houses of Congress, delivered Medicare?
The Social Security tax rate today stands at 6.2% for each employer and employee, and the Medicare tax rate stands at 1.45% for each employer and employee, or a total of 15.3% of wages and self-employed income. Somewhere along the line, our government discovered that when you can’t add any more bodies to the tax pool and when it’s politically inexpedient to increase the rate, you can increase the level of wages and self-employment income on which to levy the taxes and still get more money.
So what happened? Did we suddenly trip on an unknown and undiscoverable pool of retirees that we never knew existed? Don’t be a moron. What we did is broaden our definition of what it is to be disabled, such that a serious lot of people who would find a way to get a job if SSI wasn’t there, can stay at home and collect checks. We also took Medicare, added on Medicaid and provided free health services to the bottom third of the electorate, by charging the upper two-thirds. If you think about that for a moment, and consider Obamacare isn’t really to cover the bottom class of the socio-economic system, then what the Hell is it for? Since it is officially designated as a tax by the Supreme Court, my idea is that it’s there as yet another means for government to raise revenue — for spending on the whims of those elected to dole out the funds.
Perhaps you, as have I, have had enough of this subterfuge. Our present occupant of the White House has spent more in his first, and hopefully only, administration, than all those who preceded him. You should be scared, if not outraged at that notion. Has the cost of living or doing business as a government gone up so dramatically in under four years? The notion is absurd. What is really going on, to the greatest extent, and for as long as it can be done, is a monumental effort to shift wealth in our society, without a vote by those affected by it, without a genuine consensus and without the knowing understanding of the electorate as to what is really being done. When legislators are asked to vote on a bill, such as Obamacare, without reading it, or understanding its full implications, and entreated to figure what it really means out, after it’s passed, your hackles as a citizen should be on edge.
All of what I’ve expounded upon has been on the net, and in other sources of information as the events have transpired. Thus my assertion, you don’t need any more qualification or expert opinion to evaluate the likely consequences than what you already possess. If you are a dolt, and really believe the solution to our economic problems is to simply extract more taxes from the “rich,” guess again. Expand your scope of news. Look at the Drudge Report. France has proposed that as a solution to their ills. Guess what? The great side benefit of having great wealth is that it’s highly portable. If you doubt this, do some searching on the internet and see who, such as the individual Beetles, abandoned England when their tax rates became confiscatory. Now France’s wealthiest citizen is leaving for Belgium. A miscreant with money can always find a country willing to take them in — witness Julian Assange, an alleged rapist and assaulter, who has been offered refuge from his legal travails by Equador. Why? Because Equador doesn’t recognize rape as an offence? Or doesn’t convict without a trial? Let him stand trial, then when convicted, offer him asylum — at least we’ll know it really is all about the money.
It is easy to be a pessimist about the “masses.” Popular opinion has time and again proven itself wrong or misguided. The national snapshot of the Left portrays us as overweight, ill-educated and clutching Bibles and guns. Yet, if you look back, our masses always figured out a way to step up to the plate. Was a healthy diet, college degree and fear of confrontation the norm at the time of the Revolution? I think not. Was the average American so bigoted that the notion of fighting a civil war to free the slaves rendered un-appetizing? The history books seem to refute that too. When the Europeans got bogged down in a war they couldn’t resolve on their own, who bailed their asses out? Egypt? No. China? No. Russia? No. Equador? No. We did. True to form, our European forebears couldn’t keep themselves from having another war. This time the Japanese bailed them out, right? No. We did, again, and chastened the Japanese too. These were all great military undertakings, and to my mind, what is memorable and a testament to the American fabric, is that although there were draft dodgers and AWOL’s in each conflict, by and large, the “masses” reported for and performed their duties to distinction, not for personal gain, but for the greater good. If that’s not exceptional, what is?
If the “masses” have historically had the common sense to know what to do in times of crises, they will know what to do now — without the aid of Hollywood movie stars, talking heads on cable or broadcast news or a barrage of PAC sponsored hit pieces from either side. Common sense has historically prevailed in situations such as ours. If you are older, you might remember an earlier apologist President in the form of Jimmy Carter. He hated big oil, gas guzzling cars, exploitation of our natural resources and self-determination. He was a one term wonder who gave way to Ronald Reagan. You have to be a lot older to understand that the Berlin Wall, was the epitome of the political divide between the Communist East, in the form of the now defunct USSR, and the capitalist West, in the form of the good old US of A. Anyone who lived though the Cuban missile crises and the Vietnam War, would never in a million years believe the Berlin Wall would come down without a single shot being fired — but that’s what it did. Why? Because Ronnie Reagan convinced the Soviets that we were building a “Star Wars” missile defense system, and goaded them into spending so much of their GPA on defense, they went bankrupt.
In early September of 1980, Jimmy Carter was leading in the polls against Ronald Reagan. If I recollect accurately, Fritz Mondale lead George Bush Sr., and David Dukakis lead George Bush Jr., in similar polls in their respective races. That should summarize for you the worth of early polling. The only one that matters is the one in November, on election day. By that time, a lot of thinking has clarified.
I admit freely President Obama wasn’t my choice in the last election, not because of his skin color, but because of his politics. I believe what he’s expended his enormous political capital on, and what he’s clearly defined as his view of America’s path to the future, sufficiently proves the rightness of my rejection of him as a leader for this great country. Nevertheless, in an open and free election, an American electorate elected to that high office a man of color, and that alone should be some basis for abandoning the notion that our Country is somehow racist at its core. Whites were in the majority when he was elected. If he goes down now, it is for no other reason than that he failed to deliver what we want as a nation — peace, prosperity, near full employment and the unfettered pursuit of individual happiness. Bear in mind, for the first two full years of his presidency, he enjoyed majorities in both houses of the legislature and could and did, enact everything he was of a mind to enact. You Hispanics out there, who applaud his recent swish of the Presidential pen, to deal with immigration, ask yourselves, why, when he could have done it with the force of law through the Legislature, did he hesitate? For all the compassion he alleges he has for the lower tiers of our socio-economic society, why does he make us suffer $4 a gallon gas when we have enough oil reserves to cut that in half or better, merely by exploiting the reserves we have sitting under our own land? Don’t smirk. Who are most of the smokers in our society? I’m one, but can afford it. The reality is that many of those whom Obama and Mayor Bloomberg purport to champion, as part of the under-class of our society, are smokers, perhaps because they need the nicotine jolt to keep them going — yet they are taxing their pleasure into oblivion. Why? Because they don’t want to really pay for any medical complications that are alleged to develop from it.
What am I saying? Am I actually defending smoking? Yes!!!! Use your head instead of the non-smoking media frenzy. No matter what you do, or how healthful you live, at some point you are going to die. Does smoking have the potential to shorten your life expectancy? I’m sure it does. But in my mind, that’s not the end of the inquiry. When you get to the bottom line, most people die from cardiac failure or cancer — both of which are acknowledged to be stress related. Well, what if smoking helps you dissipate the stress that would otherwise kill you? Does any scientifically acclaimed group of scientists ever investigate that issue? Not that I know of. If you are in the front lines in combat, and might take a bullet to the head, to preserve liberty for those who are at home, does the long term effects of smoking have anything whatsoever to do with the temporary pleasure of inhaling a cigarette? I think not. People who never smoked died of lung cancer and not a statistical number of them from having lived in a household in which they were exposed to second hand smoke. In my opinion, when you worry too much about anything, you are setting yourself up for a heart attack or cancer. Don’t like the whole smoking issue? Fair enough. Let’s do gas prices at the pump. Obama has managed to double those during his tenure. Whom among us are hurt most by that? The upper-crust? I think not. I see I have digressed.
So from whom does the average citizen get the best advice on whom to elect and what political philosophy to follow? The talking heads on television? I think not. Tenured academicians who’ve never actually ran a business using any of the rules of engagement they teach? Hopefully not. Cab drivers? Possibly, at least it is likely they’ve over-heard better critical thinking than the academicians espouse. In my mind, the first person to listen to is yourself. Noone knows better than yourself what you like, dislike, want and don’t want.
If you take the time to peruse it, there’s an abundance of information out there to enable you to form an opinion as to who is better qualified to attempt to run this country. I say attempt, because real leadership requires not only conviction, but the wherewithal to accomplish it. Put Romney in the White House, and leave the Democrats in charge of the Senate, and nothing of consequence will happen in the next four years. Put Obama back and leave the Republicans in charge of the House, and the outcome will be no different.
So, after this long diatribe, where exactly does Clint Eastwood’s empty chair fit in? Here’s my take. I like Clint. Yes, he’s a movie actor/director and thus not noted for his prodigious intellect, yet, I appreciate his body of work as both an actor and as a director. His characters as an actor have run the gamut from cowboy (Rawhide, spaghetti Westerns and Paint Your Wagon) to cop (all Dirty Harry films) to all-American roustabout (Any Which Way but Loose, Any Which Way You Can) to soldier (Kelley’s Heroes and Breakheart Ridge) to reflective American pugilistic trainer (Million Dollar Baby) and to loveable curmudgeon ( Gran Torino.) Clint directed a few of his iterated classics. But the reason I put his political voice ahead of all those screen credits, is that he also served as the elected mayor of Carmel by the Sea for a few years, giving hin actual elective experience — something the Sean Pitt’s, Susan Sarandon’s, Jane Fonda’s and Samuel Jackson’s of this world are missing. At least Clint stood in, lo, but for a couple of years, but that’s more than the others I’ve iterated have combined.
Clint’s remarks to the chair are apt. In a country such as ours, why are there 26 million of us looking for a job, and a few million more who’ve given up the chase because of perceived hopelessness in finding one? If opening up domestic exploration for oil would create a million jobs and drive the price of gas down to half of what it is, why in creation would we resist that? Because such endeavors are not “green?” We (the taxpayers) lost over a half-billion dollars on Solyndra, in pursuit of “green”energy, and yet we can’t drill, because some over-nervous environmentalist is worried about the long term effects of carbon dioxide? If Obama is so concerned about the underclass, why doesn’t he worry about what they pay at the pump?
Long ago, before the internal combustion engine was invented, dinosaurs roamed the Earth. It was considerably warmer then, even by the standards of the climate change alarmists. The spin urged to reconcile this to contemporary scientific theory, is to allege the dinosaurs farted themselves into a carbon-dioxide heat trap. Of course, the historical record proceeds to display the Earth thereafter proceeded through successive periods of global cooling and warming, all unaided by the footprint of man — or dinosaur farting, go figure. Perhaps, an unenlightened mind, such as my own, might perceive this yang and yin of global warming and cooling as being symptomatic of the Earth’s condition, affected, as it appears to be, by variations on the polar ice caps, sea levels and the solar wind. Pure science, if there can still be such a thing today, in my mind would strive to explore these issues, not seek billions of dollars of wealth transfers between allegedly developed countries and allegedly under-developed countries. Call me cynical, but I never considered economics to be a part of the hard sciences.
This movement, along with many others that promise noble purposes and results, but require you to part with more of what you’ve earned, to bring it about, are inherently suspect in my book, and should be in yours.
In brief (I admit that’s a laugh after 11 pages of diatribe on my account) the best faculty for determining whom to vote for, in any election, lies within yourself, but only after you’ve open your mind to be critical and have done your homework. You’ll feel better for the exercise and will sleep soundly for having done so. If it doesn’t work out, drop me a line and I’ll see what I can so.
(1) I use the term allegedly to note that despite assertions from both Eastwood and the RNC that the empty chair bit was a spontaneous one, given how tightly scripted modern political conventions are, we don’t really know if that is so. In the end, it doesn’t really matter, as the significance of the bit turns on what was being said, not on whether it was scripted or spontaneous.
(2) For those unfamiliar with my reference, see my Backward Thinking diatribes.
(3) If you are a codger, such as myself, you know that Social Security was originally enacted as the Old Age, Survivors and Disability Act, better known on your pay-stub as OASDI.