Thursday, October 20, 2011

Two aging idealists....

Here is my friend's response.  The numbers after each paragraph are mine so that I can make individual responses to some of his statements, the rest is his.

Just as Sean is challenged by my logic, I too am challenged by his. Substitute a right leaning view everywhere he writes left and in many ways I feel as he does. Yet I know this man’s heart and I know he has always been contrary. He dared to go where I would not and I played it safe in many ways.  Yet I consider him one of my best friends. He has influenced my taste in music, my outlook on life and in many ways I wish we could go back and spend more time in our 30s together. His friendship has always meant something to me. How many can really say they have friends since 2nd grade? I don’t let my own philosophy detract from wanting to build bridges with my lifelong friends. It is just not worth the price. With that said here is my response to Sean’s (1)

I am that friend Sean writes of and I hope some of my thoughts hone Sean like diamonds hone steel. (lol).  I read through the comments about me here and I first must put a resume of sorts out there. I hold a degree in biology and masters degree in environmental planning. I spent 13 years as environmental planner both in the public and private sector  in Florida and policy analysis was part of my job. Unlike perhaps a few here while I am not attorney, I was required to take Constitution and Land Use Law in FSU’s College of Law to earn my degree. I also took environmental law as well. So when it comes to policy analysis I tend to think I am qualified to give an opinion or two.  When it comes to the Constitution I have read it and I understand it. I know, I know it is like something a 10 year old would say. (2)

My world view of the recent events have been shaped by a education, lifetime of events and experiences least of which are two things. A few years back I left my profession and bought a business. I now make chocolate and women’s dreams come true. I also have invested in a few vacation rental cabins in the Smoky Mountains. I once worked for the man and now I am the man. I employ people and I own a sub-s corporation. I understand now more than ever the costs of government as I pay those costs out of my bank account monthly and quarterly. I see the negative impact of fiscal decisions of  the government directly in my life and I now appreciate more than ever the Bill of Rights and the rights of the individual to own property. I understand how my time and labor are traded for dollars. I use my body and mind to generate wealth and that wealth is my property.  The Constitution protects my right to property from unlawful seizure from the Government and the founders new liberty is manifested through private property rights of all forms.  It is why we have private property mentioned specifically in the Preamble.  I am not entitled to anybody’s else’s property from Bill Gates to Sean’s. I do not demonize millionaires if they have  lawfully obtained their wealth. It is the fruit of their labor.  It is their personal property. (3)

I actually agree with Sean the collusion of government and business has led the way here in terms of the economic situation and I was a practicing professional city planner when Congress (Republican) and Democratic President pushed the Community Reinvestment Act of 1996. This ACT led the way for the housing bubble and financial collapse in 2007. It directed banks to lend money to those they would otherwise not normally lend money too.  Our government forced banks to open their wallets and removed all risks from banks in otherwise high risk loans. It was a boon to affordable housing planners, but it put banks on the track to do bad loans. As a biologist I see how the government violated the natural laws inherit in greed and the desire to obtain wealth in removing risk from a private capital source. They did what any living creature would do and that is to maximize their rewards in such an environment. Risks are like predators in the wild, like when a gazelle goes to the water hole but there are no lions around anywhere.  The gazelle will gorge itself, I know I would. Most folks reading this would too. Think about…get rid of speeding tickets on the interstate highway, how many would travel the posted speed limit?  Remember there is greed for money and greed for power. Government is not immune to either here. The government is THE CATALYST here for the economic and housing meltdown. (4)

Our Constitution clearly lays out the design of the Republic, yes we are a republic and not a true Democracy, that the Federal Government is limited in power. It is designed to be limited in power and it clearly states that the Feds have 18 enumerated powers with the rest of the unspoken, unwritten powers given to the states via the 10th Amendment.  So if the states want universal health care they can. If the states want to enact land use laws, they can.  If the state wants to regulate marriage gay straight what ever they can. None of these are the roles of the Federal Government. When the Federal Government engages in roles it is clearly not designed to,  we then get what we have today like crony capitalism.  The tax code is designed to invite corporate lobbyist to protect their interests from the tyranny of the tax code.  Meanwhile the citizens get left holding the bill to the tune of $16 trillion dollars national debt. We have a citizenry where 47% demand services from the government at the expense  to the 53% footing the bill. We are heading fast toward bankruptcy. (5)

I am not a tea party member and I clearly blame our problems today on the national Republican party. It is the Republican party who lost their way. We are a little r republic and they over time bought into the false hopes of the Progressive Movement from the early 20th Century. They overtime bought into the idea of making us more like Europe which is facing financial collapse today. They sold the Constitution out to build their power base and they did not stand and fight or even articulate what our Federal Government is supposed to be or do as outlined in the Constitution. They offered no real alternative in palpable way. So by default and over time the Progressive socialist agenda crept in.  I am now at a point and see the problem and the problem is we strayed from original vision for the limited Federal Government. (6)

Perhaps one of the biggest influences on my life are the days I became a father. My second child, Kyle, contracted group b strep during labor and 18 days later he had group b strep meningitis. It destroyed Kyle’s occipital lobe. He is cortically blind, has epilepsy, cerebral palsy and is mentally retarded.  Kyle is an awesome 13 year old boy. I gave up my career for him. I took a risk by taking a second mortgage out on a cabin and bought my business. I took these risks so I could call the shots and be there for my kids.  Kyle has taught me what life is really about and that is relationships. It is about a connection of the heart and soul in this world. (7)

Kyle has perhaps sharpened for right or wrong my view of folks who complain. A great many of the Occupy crowd while practicing civil disobedience all have potential.  Many if not all can walk, talk, go to school, have a dream, get married, streak down the road, do stupid things and so forth. They have the POTENTIAL to do anything in this world especially because they live in United States.   They have it all and they don’t see it. Some of me feels sorry for them and some of me has a real disdain too as they are wasting moments in life. Sure they are acting to change the world, but the world many  seem to want to change to is one of socialism or even Marxism.  Many were never alive during the cold war or see the real down side of a communist based economy.  America is awesome and it is still the land of opportunity because we are free and we have the liberty to succeed and the liberty to fail.  They have a sense of entitlement.  Many say they went to college and there are no jobs and they were guaranteed a job. Really?   I spent 2 years working a night job as a janitor. I had a master’s degree and worked 2 jobs. I did what had to be done. (8)

Folks need to understand life is not fair. It is not guaranteed and nothing is given to us. There are prices to be paid for behaviors of all kinds and there are rewards for behaviors and actions of all kinds and it is not the government’s role to make it fair. The role of the government is to ensure liberty to either succeed or fail and nothing more.  It is there to make sure the football field of basic rights are level but its purpose is not to guarantee a win for any given team on the field.  Nobody needs to tell me how bad things happen to good people. Can anyone here tell me what my son did wrong to deserve his lot in life?    He will never be able to protest anything anywhere. He will never drive a car or ride a bike. He will never marry. He will never do the things like write a blog or debate the validity of the Constitution.  If not but for the Grace of God go I. It is my responsibility to care for him now and insure he has what he needs as an adult and not anybody else’s. (9)

I watch my son struggle to walk. I see folks complaining that they have no job yet have 2 good feet. I watch my son struggle to say words. I see others use their words to spread hate and anger. I watch my son trust everyone and I see a country where politics creates distrust on all sides. I am raising a human being who truly can’t while I see people on the left in particular who are complaining because they won’t.   I have a child who blames nobody for his circumstance and I see others blaming everyone else for theirs.   In the end I see liberty as the answer and others see the solution is more government.  I see compassion coming from one’s heart and through charity.  Other’s see compassion as taking the property of some by the threat of jail and giving it to others who did nothing to earn it or perhaps even deserve it. (10)

In the end this idealist throws his hat in the ring on the side of limited government and liberty.  I see my friend who will soon be a dad perhaps change some of his views the moment he holds his child for the first time. I see hope being born soon in his family and if it is a girl, I see perhaps a weird form of karma coming back to him  so he better watch out (lol)….. (11)


Bob Williams
Welcome to Smoky Mountain Time!
Mountain Bear Cabins

Sean's responses:

(1) - Boring

(2) - Boring

(3) - Boring, though Bobby did catch his mistake before we went to press. The Preamble does not mention property.  I assume that he was confusing the Preamble with the Declaration of Independence, though I'm not sure. Property and health were among Locke's original assertions, Jefferson added "the pursuit of Happiness" to his famous list of unalienable rights.

(4) - Boring again, though with one rebuttal:  Bobby sees the CRI as the catalyst to all that is evil in the financial world. I see it much more as being the 1999 Graham-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, the last and most finally damaging repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act.  Bobby seems to pursue his vision of a perfect nation in a hands-off approach to federal government.  I see the results of deregulation and unrestrained speculative investing as being the core of the problem and the CRI as being merely tangential. 

(5) - We are not truly in a republic, the words republic and republican are not synonymous. Our government is not controlled by the people but rather the opposite is true.   We are in a representational democracy, based largely on the liberal ideas of John Locke.  Do not let the word liberal mislead you here either.  John Locke would hardly recognize the use of the word liberal as it is applied to today's standards of the concept. We agree on the iniquity of the tax code, but we perhaps disagree on what should be done about it.  The wealth has already been shoveled away disproportionately and the government was an accomplice in the act.  This was not just good old-fashioned industrialists making an honest living for their families, this was collusion in defrauding a nation and enslaving its citizens in tax indebtedness to the crime, dear comrades.....

(6) - The "Progressive socialist agenda" "crept in" through democracy. People voted representatives into office that would advance the ideas that they embrace. If states were able to govern themselves then we might still have slavery. The thing that makes The Constitution so powerful is its adaptability.  I'm not entirely sure that the nation would be better off with such a limited role of the federal government.  So much of what makes us what we are in the world today came about by the development of that strong federal government guiding a nation through a civil war and then two world wars. We emerged out of the 20th century as a world leader because of our federal government, not in spite of it.   

(7-10) - Kyle's position is unfortunate, to be certain, but the circumstances of his birth should affect our thoughts on society in perhaps the opposite way than how Bobby has asserted. This example reveals a disingenuous position on Bob's part and if we are to follow his reasoning through to its logical conclusion then its weakness is revealed.  "It's not the government's role to make it fair."  Were he truly to believe that each person is responsible only for themselves then he would argue for the removal of any and all societal modifications for the disabled.  I find it difficult to believe that he would argue for such a thing. Of what use is the government's forcing an establishment to build a ramp so that all can enter a state building in his brave new republic?

It is here where the lie of the right often reveals itself most fully.  They wish to be the sole arbiters of where the line will be drawn between civility and welfare. There are those on the left who would argue for the flattening of all benefits and enjoyments in life, taxing the rich out of existence and distributing their wealth evenly.  There are others, even among us, who have long argued for the opposite form of society, in which all government aid to assist the disabled, or anybody else, is entirely removed.  Most of us would not wish to live in either of those two states.  It is easy to see why the first is preferable to some, much more difficult to understand the second. Though I suppose that is what makes me a liberal, the leaning towards a more evenly distributed pattern of wealth, a society based upon both civility and the welfare of its citizens through education and well-maintianed assistance programs.

It is the cost of unnecessary war that I mostly object to.  If one looks carefully at the reality of those costs then it is difficult to understand why so many of the right are not more "up in arms" about it.

I only use his example because he offered it.  I have nothing but empathy for the very difficult position that he and his family are in with his son, Kyle.  I trust that Bobby knows this.  He named his son Kyle because of a song by Bruce Springsteen that we both loved, "Reason to Believe."  It is perhaps through Kyle's struggle that I hope one day Bobby will in fact shift his views a little bit back towards the left.  Should not a society offer some meager assistance, through education and perhaps aid in the raising of children, when they are born disadvantaged?  Bobby seems to see all people as being born equal, and being given the same chances, though his own example reveals that such a thing is simply not true.  Not all are born equal and we are often blind to the struggles of others, though rarely do we concede blindness in our judgement of those same struggles.  It seems to me that most people want their societies to be a better place to live, they disagree greatly at how to accomplish such a thing.  I simply can not believe that what is truly destroying our society is the attempt to help and educate those who need it most.   

That being said, public education needs to either be improved or abandoned.  

(11) - The concept of karma as you've used it here seems somewhat inconsistent with your determined views of cosmic constitutional connections.  Karma is universally misunderstood and misrepresented, there is no support for it in the sciences.  You should be ashamed....  If not now, then perhaps you will be in a future life...

I have enjoyed arguing with Bobby for 35 years, off and on.  I have watched his shuffle to the right from an early age.  I don't pretend to understand it but I concede that he makes some good points, though often as mired in constitutional idealism in the same way that I am plagued by societal idealism, sometimes even socialist idealism.  Most of all I am disappointed that he believes that his government does not have a greater role and responsibility in protecting its citizens more fully, that the natural laws of commerce are all that are needed to return his republic to grandeur, and that genuine equality has already been achieved, and there is nothing more to struggle for in that regard.  

I agree with him that it is the government's responsibility to protect the property of its citizens, but what is to be done when they are the ones involved in the systematic misappropriation of it? There is simply far too much evidence to support that many of America's citizens are regularly cheated out of their property by government and big-buisness alike through taxes and anti-consumer legislation.  The laws have been skewed in favor of the few for far too long, a flattening of the playing field is precisely what is needed, in his view of the republic he would have you believe that we are already there.