Wednesday, August 22, 2012
"Issues" or America?
There are some very serious issues at stake in this year's election -- so many that some people may not be able to see the forest for the trees. Individual issues are the trees, but the forest is the future of America as we have known it.
The America that has flourished for more than two centuries is being quietly but steadily dismantled by the Obama administration, during the process of dealing with particular issues.
For example, the merits or demerits of President Obama's recent executive order, suspending legal liability for young people who are here illegally, presumably as a result of being brought here as children by their parents, can be debated pro and con. But such a debate overlooks the much more fundamental undermining of the whole American system of Constitutional government.
The separation of powers into legislative, executive and judicial branches of government is at the heart of the Constitution of the United States -- and the Constitution is at the heart of freedom for Americans.
No President of the United States is authorized to repeal parts of legislation passed by Congress. He may veto the whole legislation, but then Congress can override his veto if they have enough votes. Nevertheless, every President takes an oath to faithfully execute the laws that have been passed and sustained -- not just the ones he happens to agree with.
If laws passed by the elected representatives of the people can be simply over-ruled unilaterally by whoever is in the White House, then we are no longer a free people, choosing what laws we want to live under.
When a President can ignore the plain language of duly passed laws, and substitute his own executive orders, then we no longer have "a government of laws, and not of men" but a President ruling by decree, like the dictator in some banana republic.
When we confine our debates to the merits or demerits of particular executive orders, we are tacitly accepting arbitrary rule. The Constitution of the United States cannot protect us unless we protect the Constitution. But, if we allow ourselves to get bogged down in the details of particular policies imposed by executive orders, and vote solely on that basis, then we have failed to protect the Constitution -- and ourselves.
Whatever the merits or demerits of the No Child Left Behind Act, it is the law until Congress either repeals it or amends it. But for Barack Obama to unilaterally waive whatever provisions he doesn't like in that law undermines the fundamental nature of American government.
President Obama has likewise unilaterally repealed the legal requirement that welfare recipients must work, by simply redefining "work" to include other things like going to classes on weight control. If we think the bipartisan welfare reform legislation from the Clinton administration should be repealed or amended, that is something for the legislative branch of government to consider.
There have been many wise warnings that freedom is seldom lost all at once. It is usually eroded away, bit by bit, until it is all gone. You may not notice a gradual erosion while it is going on, but you may eventually be shocked to discover one day that it is all gone, that we have been reduced from citizens to subjects, and the Constitution has become just a meaningless bunch of paper.
ObamaCare imposes huge costs on some institutions, while the President's arbitrary waivers exempt other institutions from having to pay those same costs. That is hardly the "equal protection of the laws," promised by the 14th Amendment.
John Stuart Mill explained the dangers in that kind of government long ago: "A government with all this mass of favours to give or to withhold, however free in name, wields a power of bribery scarcely surpassed by an avowed autocracy, rendering it master of the elections in almost any circumstances but those of rare and extraordinary public excitement."
If Obama gets reelected, he knows that he need no longer worry about what the voters think about anything he does. Never having to face them again, he can take his arbitrary rule by decree as far as he wants. He may be challenged in the courts but, if he gets just one more Supreme Court appointment, he can pick someone who will rubber stamp anything he does and give him a 5 to 4 majority.
Stressed? Are You Disabled?
Government worker: “Do you have a disability?”
Man’s wife: “What does he get if he’s disabled?”
Government worker: “His monthly payments will [double].”
Man’s wife: “Well, then he’s disabled.”
Government worker (to man): “What’s your disability?”
Man: “I’m stressed.”
An attorney friend of mine recently overheard the above conversation in a Florida government building. The man, who had just turned 65, was signing up for retirement benefits while his wife stood over his shoulder. I relay the story to illustrate how our government is expanding the definition of the term “disability.”
Howard Rich explains in his recent Wall Street Journal commentary: ‘Washington isn’t broke because the government is inefficient. It’s broke because it promises too much. …$125 billion in disability payments each year—a number that’s increased 17-fold over the past four decades (after adjusting for inflation). …[due to the] government’s increasingly malleable definition of what constitutes a “disability,” …workers who complain of “persistent anxiety” and “chronic fatigue” are now viewed by the government as being disabled.’
Basically, if you’re stressed, the federal government now considers you to be disabled. But isn’t everyone (with a life) stressed? So are we all disabled?
Activities or activity levels that “stress” one person will energize or relax another. Stress is not only subjective but it is a natural byproduct of pursuing goals more challenging than watching soap operas while soaking in a bubble bath.
Man is a rational creature and so the highest enjoyment that he can achieve is that which fulfills his mind. In Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, the hero, John Galt, says: “Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values. …But neither life nor happiness can be achieved by the pursuit of irrational whims. …the torture of frustration is all he will find, unless he seeks the happiness proper to man.”
In other words, man will not achieve happiness by avoiding work because this will lead to a level of mental frustration (stress) that no amount of monthly stipend from the government can ease.
If you desire a career doing what you are passionate about, whether it is civil engineering, painting, teaching, writing, running a small business, software programming or neurosurgery, you must log long hours and encounter stress along the way. Even to achieve fun goals like lowering your golf handicap, completing a triathlon or climbing Mount Everest, you must first put your body through physically agonizing routines. So stress is not a disability. Stress is byproduct of living.
Dr. Lynne Tan of Montefiore Medical Center in New York City tells MSNBC.com health editor Jane Weaver: "Very successful people, rather than feeling disempowered, take the extra stress energy ... and make it into a high-energy, positive situation."
Weaver even cites studies indicating that: “…by keeping the brain cells working at peak capacity,” moderate stress could help prevent Alzheimer’s and breast cancer. Periodic stress can be good for you; with the right attitude, the hormone surges of stress can be channeled into higher levels of productivity.
Certainly, humans should reduce unhealthy stress from procrastination, depravity, inactivity and unwholesome foods.
But humans would be foolish to eliminate healthy mental challenges in exchange for a monthly “stress stipend.” I maintain that the human mind is happy when it is operating at full capacity—learning, doing and loving. As I’ve written here and here , man is rational and capitalistic behaviors help him achieve happiness. Socialism is irrational and anti-human and therefore causes mental pain (stress) in the form of apathy and envy.
If stress is a disability, why don’t we talk about Apple co-founder Steve Jobs as a disabled person? After all, Jobs was extraordinarily stressed at low points in his career, such as when he was ousted from the company he started. And when things went wrong, even as a grown man, he was known to break down in tears.
Yet, nobody thought Jobs was disabled. Everyone, including his competitors, viewed him as successful. Jobs made mistakes. He had some major regrets. But, as he grew older, he learned to channel the energy he got from stress into becoming a thriving entrepreneur and a loving son, father, husband and friend.
Jobs used stress as motivational energy to fulfill his vision of bringing amazing technology to the masses. Despite ample critics, backstabbers and cancer, he built the world’s most valuable company from the ground up. Jobs succeeded where other men fail (think Warren Buffett); he became a billionaire while maintaining his personal and professional integrity.
If you’re stressed, the federal government says: “No sweat! You qualify for cash from Obama’s stash!” But if you are relying on Obama’s cash to get you through life, please, start sweating. Word on the street is that Obama’s bank account is $16 trillion overdrawn.
Democrats for the status quo
What goes around seems to come around, such as an accusation Democrats are perennially thrilled to hurl at Republicans -- those fogies and Neanderthals, those reactionaries, those cave dwellers. What must we do with these change-hating fossils? is the recurring Democratic 'plaint. Drag 'em into modern times, kicking and screaming?
Oh, boy, does it ever come around! The shrieks and protests that fill American air space at the moment, the splutterings about change and whatever was good for Grandpa being good enough for me -- where do you hear it, on the right? Not for a minute. You hear it all on the left of the political spectrum -- the reactionary, status-quo-loving left.
Hands off everything! -- is the theme of the Barack Obama campaign and its intellectual enablers, whether based at the White House, Capitol Hill or in the press gallery. The Democrats like things as they are. Don't want none of them fancy boys from the Republican side meddling with Medicare, with Social Security, with the budget and/or with foreign policy. If it ain't broke, etc., etc.
The Republican emergence in 2012 as the party of reform and change -- arrayed against Democratic stale bread and stagnation -- has some precedent. In 1980, a year of economic wheel spinning, presided over by Jimmy Carter, a Democrat -- Ronald Reagan emerged as the candidate of change and innovation.
Mitt Romney's choice of reformer Paul Ryan for his running mate once again reverses stereotypes. The Democratic defenders of 8-percent-plus unemployment and accelerated decay in social programs seem to think they have a winning issue in "Stop! Take your filthy hands off!" By contrast, the Romney-Ryan ticket wants change.
What kind of change? That would be obvious, wouldn't it? They would change Washington, D.C.'s, bias in favor of government as the driver of growth and opportunity and the doer of all good deeds. They would pay overdue attention to the currently neglected virtues of the free market.
Many matters on this front need attention. I mention just two:
The tax system is out of whack. A near majority of Americans pay no net federal taxes, if indeed they pay any at all. America's corporate tax rate is the world's highest: a job-creation killer. The tax code is a crazy quilt of exemptions and loopholes, less noted for producing necessary revenue than for encouraging the wide employment of strategies whose purpose is the minimization of taxes. The Alternative Minimum Tax, AMT, designed to nick the rich, already hits the merely prosperous.
Never mind. Any good Democratic campaign spokesman will assure you all the Republicans mean by reform is cutting taxes for "millionaires and billionaires." No way.
No way, either, in Democratic terms, for overhaul of "Medicare as we know it." It's a nice stick-in-the-mud turn of phrase, don't you think? Just because there soon won't be enough money to finance "Medicare as we know it" doesn't mean reformers are, in essence, any more than troublemakers and Bolsheviks. The Democrats know good and well Ryan wants to voucherize Medicare, which he doesn't -- but so what; it sounds awful -- and jack up medical bills for seniors, like his 78-year-old mother.
It's wild stuff, but cave dwellers can get fairly wild when informed of the urgent need to clean up their domiciles and purge their diets of impurities.
That liberal Democrats, in the event Republican reforms actually work might vanish like the Brontosaurus, is from the liberal standpoint a truly appalling prospect. It would mean the labors of many decades led not to the promised land but to Okefenokee. That would be a horrible admission.
A truth about the reformers, themselves, needs recounting. If actually handed power, they wouldn't achieve half of what the cave dwellers fear most. Life and politics are too complex for that. Nevertheless, the present tone of the Democratic campaign -- eek! Make those bad people leave us alone! -- reminds us that dynamism is built into the human condition, and that those who get set in their ways get upset, at last, in ways hurtful to everybody.
A modern version of an old tale
"Who will help me plant my wheat?" asked the little red hen.
"Not I," said the cow.
"Not I," said the duck.
"Not I," said the pig.
"Not I," said the goose.
"Then I will do it by myself." She planted her crop and the wheat grew and ripened.
"Who will help me reap my wheat?" asked the little red hen.
"I'm on disability," said the duck.
"Out of my classification," said the pig.
"I'd lose my seniority," said the cow.
"I'd lose my unemployment compensation," said the goose.
"Then I will do it by myself," said the little red hen, and so she did.
"Who will help me bake the bread?" asked the little red hen.
"That would be overtime for me," said the cow.
"I'd lose my welfare benefits," said the duck.
"I'm a dropout and never learned how," said the pig.
"If I'm to be the only helper, that's discrimination," said the goose.
"Then I will do it by myself," said the little red hen, and so she did.
The smell of fresh-baked bread attracted all her neighbors. They saw the bread and wanted some. In fact, they demanded a share.
But the little red hen said, "No, I shall eat all the loaves."
"Excess profits!" cried the cow.
"Capitalist leech!" screamed the duck.
"I demand equal rights!" yelled the goose.
"Share with the 99 percent," grunted the pig.
And they all painted `Unfair!' picket signs and marched around and around the little red hen, shouting obscenities.
Then the farmer came He said to the little red hen, "You must not be so greedy."
"But I earned the bread," said the little red hen.
"Exactly," said the farmer. "That is what makes our free enterprise system so wonderful. Anyone in the barnyard can earn as much as he wants. But under our modern government regulations, the productive workers must divide the fruits of their labor with those who are idle."
And they all lived happily ever after.
But only in the President's fairy tale. In a real-world version, the little red hen never again baked bread and the farmyard suffered Greek-style chaos when the animals riding in the wagon suddenly discovered there was nobody left to pull the wagon.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 7:36 PM