Ideas have Consequences

 

US State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf caused quite a hoopla in stating, “We cannot win the war on terror, nor can we win the war on ISIS, by killing them. We need to find them jobs. We need to get to the root cause of terrorism and that is poverty and lack of opportunity in the terrorist community.”

Lots of people found her remarks to be surreal in terms of understanding what the nation confronts and how best to deal with the terrorists’ savage attacks and inhuman conduct.

Read more: Ideas have Consequences

The Internet, Freedom's Salvation by Evelyn Pyburn

Congress stands ever ready to threaten the freedom of the internet – if but given half a chance.

Yes, they talk about the need to "level the playing field" when it comes to taxation and wanting to make sure that all businesses function under the same rules, but be assured that that's simply a necessary ruse. It brings short-sighted business organizations on board and offers a more reasonable–sounding excuse than does the ending of free speech, which is the ultimate goal.

Most politicians, especially those with grand agendas, hate the fact that the internet affords commoners such ease of access to information and the ability to communicate so broadly. It makes any efforts of control almost impossible.

Tyrants, the world around, must surely be scratching their heads in puzzlement, at that lack of acumen on the part of any would-be US dictators. The uncontrolled spread of information and unrestrained communication among commoners is undermining the progressives at every turn. They should have taken some notes from Putin in Russia or Kim Jong-un in North Korea. Transparency in government, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, even freedom of expression in all artistic venues, must be brought under control, if not completely eliminated, for any attempts of absolute control to be successful.

Wouldn't it be great, after all, if the failure of the Obamacare website could have been kept under wraps and everyone was walking around in the belief that it had succeeded spectacularly? Of course, there would be individuals who would be facing serious dilemmas, but who would know, if they couldn't take their problems to media or talk about them on-line? Who would care? If no one knew about it, it simply wouldn't be true.

The fiasco of the Benghazi scandal would never have happened. With proper controls in place anyone wanting to go off-script would have had no place to go. How the administration portrayed the story would have been a fact of history. It would probably be no more than a footnote of history that an American ambassador and several soldiers were killed in an unexpected burst of outrage over an American generated video. Well maybe not – how could any kind of video be seen on the internet if it were reserved but for official things. OK, so the story line would have had to be different, but be assured there would have been an unchallenged official story.

Wouldn't being able to squelch the media be even better than taking the Census Bureau under control of the White House, to be able to manipulate economic numbers. It would more efficient to just control the media and to keep political opponents from making comments about such inconvenient realities as the low participation rate in the workforce?

And, who would really care about IRS abuses if they didn't know about it? In fact, if you think about it, keeping the citizens uninformed is actually an act of kindness, protecting them from knowledge that would only upset them. Groups like the Tea Party would silently twist in the wind as a good example of what happens to those who disagree.

If only President Richard Nixon had had such control over information, it would have saved him, and the nation, a lot of unnecessary anguish. In fact, US history would be very different at every turn if it were not for freedom of information – both in terms of what happened and in how the story was told.

It is quite ironic that just prior to a progressive surge to strengthen government in the US and to diminish personal freedom, the kind of media and information controls necessary to sustain a dictatorship, was lost. The Fairness Doctrine was rescinded. Part of that unraveling came because of market pressures and new innovations – most especially the internet. Those forces would have made a regulated media and regulated communication industries, as they existed prior to that time, irrelevant, were they not cut lose to compete. It makes one think that within a free society there are more checks and balances at work than just those spelled out in the Constitution.

It is astounding how greatly our founding fathers were in understanding what is necessary to sustain a free society. Freedom of Speech is the first amendment of the Bill of Rights for a very good reason. Without it, lapsing into tyranny is an absolute certainty for any country. But as visionary as they were, our founding fathers couldn't have imagined something like the internet. If they had, they would have readily understood how incredibly important it could be to assuring individual freedom, forever, not just for the US, but for the world – if and only if, it is left open and free and unfettered.

Actually, one has to have some hope that as a technology, it is beyond the realm of any government to control, every bit as much as it is beyond the realm of government to control the ingenuity of individuals. (We do see the evidence of how well they build a website.)

Any businessperson willing to sell out this freedom for the purpose of gaining some short-lived equity in taxation doesn't deserve either the freedom or the economic success it brings. There is an alternative to their approach, if they believe that unequal taxation is hurting their business. Rather than taking political steps to impose the burden on internet competitors, take political steps to remove the burden on themselves. Of course, that is the much harder battle to fight, since they won't find Congressmen eagerly lining up to help them out, as they do the quest to control the internet. But, because of such dynamics, the fight for freedom has never been easy. That doesn't mean it's not worth the effort – or the lost revenue, if that is what's necessary.

Such business groups ought to take measure of how much the unfettered internet has boosted their success. An entire era of unprecedented growth and wealth generation happened in the US (and the world) through the previous two or three decades because of it. At every turn the internet and improved means of communication has allowed business to do more at less cost. It's created whole new industries and millions of jobs and occupations that didn't exist before. It created a standard of living for all that was previously unimaginable. Such is the power of freedom – freedom of speech, freedom to communicate. Internet freedom is far more relevant to the well-being of the masses than wealth redistribution or entitlements.

So given, just the tiniest of toe-holds — the barest tip of a nose through the tent flap – given that, how quickly will any president, who can say "you didn't build that," shut down all those other avenues of wealth generation, once they have the means of control in their hands?

It is actually not too extreme to say that if everyday citizens lose a free and open internet, we lose the battle for all our freedoms.

Undeserving of Public Trust

From the very beginning everyone knew that what they were doing didn't have broad support. From the very beginning they knew it was wrong. From the very beginning they understood that they were ruling against the will of the people.

As they met behind closed doors and voted without allowing anyone to read the legislation, the legislators were declaring to the world that they knew people would not like it. They were admitting that they understood that they were doing wrong.

Nothing could have insulted the American people more, or could have more obviously abandoned the tenets of the Constitution more thoroughly, than to announce "We have to pass the health care bill so that you can find out what is in it." And while they were delivering a destructive blow to the Constitution, they were most starkly revealing the kind of individuals they are.

What the legislation was, is irrelevant.

That what they were doing couldn't bear the light of day would have raised doubts in the mind of an ethical person. For American citizens, the conclusion, about what kind of person each and every one of these legislators are, should have been an easy one, and apparently it was. It is appropriate that 29 of those who voted for Obamacare are no longer members of the august body that is supposed to represent the will of the American people. And, they now stand, unfit to serve any role in which honor, integrity and statesmanship is necessary.

That what they did is a colossal mess and likely to wreak more havoc and pain upon the American populace shouldn't be a surprise to anyone – why else would others have opposed it? Because they thought it would serve them well?

Besides being unethical and untrustworthy, these were people who did not understand the purpose and benefit of full public scrutiny – of open discussion and debate – when crafting legislation. The give and take, the research and scrutiny, involved in a big public discussion is meant to reduce the likelihood of creating of "colossal mess." If these Congressmen actually knew that and pursued the behind-closed-doors approach, anyhow – then whatever their purpose, it had nothing to do with actually helping the citizens they represented.

Any Congressman, whose arrogance, self-interest and/or ignorance supersedes their intended role in a representative democracy, deserves to be ousted at the very first opportunity available to the voters, and they should never again be allowed to serve in any public capacity that requires integrity and character.

If Graduation Matters, So Should Lockwood Issue

"Graduation Matters."

Does it? When does it matter?

Does it only matter for certain students? Does it still matter even when one district stands to lose money to another? Or, does not being part of the "right neighborhood" justify sacrificing the futures for some kids over others?

Does it make sense that a community of some 8000 people might have their own high school?

Read more: If Graduation Matters, So Should Lockwood Issue

Magna Carta, Marks 800 Years

The greatest constitutional document of all time has gone on display at the Library of Congress. The original copy of Magna Carta, on loan from Lincoln Cathedral, represents the most significant political moment in the history of mankind. When its wax was sealed almost exactly 800 years ago, the law was, for the first time, elevated above the government. "We're so used to that idea today that it takes a real effort of imagination to see how radical it must have been when it was first proposed. For thousands of years, the law had been whatever the biggest guy in the tribe said it was. The idea that an invisible, impalpable power stood above the king as surely as it stood above the poorest beggar, a power that was the property of the people as a whole, was utterly revolutionary. It was from that contract — Magna Carta was a contract, with an enforcement mechanism that was eventually to become a parliament — that most of our liberties eventually came: jury trials, uncensored newspapers, equality before the law, regular elections, habeas corpus, free contract, secure property."

 

Government Never Creates Jobs

It really is no wonder that President Obama can say "You didn't build that." Or, that prospective presidential candidate Hillary Clinton warned "don't let anybody tell you that...it's corporations and businesses that create jobs." Of course their words are about as untrue as any lie ever spoken, but how would their target audience, young people, know? They certainly weren't taught any differently in school – even in most economic courses in college – how the economy works is held as a deep dark secret.

Press releases from government agencies (and hence most media reports) abound with declarations of the success of various government agencies having created jobs. But, I guarantee, that not a single government entity created a single job. The fact is government creates NOTHING. Government has NOTHING which it doesn't first forcibly extract from someone or some company in the private sector.

There are many intrusions into the market that government has forged over the years that forces or entices businesses to deal with it. But, just because they do so, doesn't mean that without that interaction, businesses wouldn't start, grow or expand.

For example, with the advantage of being subsidized by taxpayers and being able to "guarantee" against loss because of the deep pockets of taxpayers, government loans for businesses have gradually squeezed heavily-regulated private lenders into many disadvantages, when it comes to lending. So, of course, many businesses take advantage of the lower costs of borrowing from the government, but the fact that they do so, doesn't mean that the success of the business, after that, is solely attributable to the government. But, yet, they will readily claim credit for every job that emerges.

The fact is most businesses would probably expand even without government-subsidized loans. And, just getting a loan doesn't assure the success of the business – that takes management skills and entrepreneurial vision that only happens in the private sector.

In fact, there is much evidence that getting free money (a grant) from government is often the death-knell of a business, because the infusion falsifies market perceptions. The business is duped into gearing up for a non-existent market, and fails as a consequence because of poor decisions that follow. When the private market rejects lending capital to a business, there is a message in that for a smart business owner. If that message is circumvented, reality isn't changed, just the perception of it has changed for the business owner, and his future decisions based upon it often leads to failure.

Governments, quite often, engage costly "studies" to show success where there is none. The economists who do these studies are hardly deserving of their title, given the eagerness with which they overlook what should be kindergarten-training for any economist – and that is, when calculating benefits, you must first deduct the costs.

The pseudo-economists readily calculate the real or imagined benefits of expending taxpayer dollars, but there is never a backward look at what would have happened in the private sector were those dollars left there. These economists accept the existence of the tax revenue as though it fell out of the sky. Business owners regularly decry that cost, pointing out that the high taxes they must pay to support such government activity, detract from their bottom line from whence they get the money they need to expand, buy new equipment, and hire additional employees.

There have been, little- recognized, studies which demonstrate that for each job that government claims to create, government must first destroy at least two jobs in the private sector. Some studies have shown that cost as being much higher. So if the true cost to the economy were ever demonstrated, government could never declare any net increase in "jobs created" through the expenditure of taxpayer dollars. A fact no politician will ever speak is that government interactions almost always destroy jobs.

There is an unspeakable audacity in government declaring that the private sector doesn't create anything, given the fact that government could not exist without the production and wealth-creation of the private sector. There is also unspeakable tragedy in the fact that so many do not know that, and it will be a tragedy that is our undoing.

Acquiescing to Evil by Evelyn Pyburn

 

 

I have always contended that evil is impotent.

Bad people do not create, they only steal, destroy and kill. Life, creativity and production require effort. It is essentially the rejection of having to make that effort that forges most evil.

Whatever evil people have in terms of power they must forcibly take from others, and that includes the tools of imposing that force, whether it be a tyrant seizing the earnings of citizens to fund marauding armies, or terrorists hijacking airplanes to destroy towers occupied by innocent people. For all the proclaimed power and superiority of such monsters, they are incapable of building so much as a washing machine or growing a crop of corn. They can however destroy those things when created by others.

Read more: Acquiescing to Evil by Evelyn Pyburn

It's Not Over

As one listens to the rhetoric regarding President Obama's power- grab as it pertains to the issue of illegal immigration, one has to wonder where thinking Democrats really are – after all, if such Presidential fiat is left to stand, what a wondrous tool for the next Republican President, not to mention the end of "rule of law" for commoners.

But then, in pondering where the "thinking" Democrats are, if one looks at the split in the Republican Party, it surely must be quite obvious – they joined the ranks of the Republicans a long time ago, bringing with them their progressive policies. Their infiltration of the party is what contributes to the existence of the "Tea Party," which is comprised of people who still adhere to that party's old platform of limited government.

Read more: It's Not Over

He Made a Difference

A friend recently passed away – Bruce Simon. Bruce was a former legislator and a very active community leader. The fact is, all of Billings lost a friend, most especially those stalwart advocates of private property rights.

I didn't always agree with Bruce, but I always knew exactly where he stood.

There was a time that I did agree and that was when he almost single- handedly, delivered one of the greatest gifts possible to property owners — he retrieved their rights from an over-reaching city government.

It started with his help in rescinding a state law – a most rare of achievements – which allowed for what was called doughnuts around municipalities. Within doughnuts city governments were empowered to impose fees and regulations, execute penalties and fines, in the aggressive control over what private property owners built. It was regulation without representation, since the citizens could not vote for their antagonists and would not have even been granted standing in a city court were they to file legal action. And, yet, city hall collected substantial funds from these folks and made their lives difficult.

Bruce joined a small coalition in the state who, on their own time and at their own expense, successfully challenged a machine of tax-funded lobbyists who fought vigorously to retain the law.

The revised law allowed the county to re-impose regulatory control in a new process, which Yellowstone County Commissioners were inclined to do, until Bruce demonstrated that this is not what the people wanted.

Against all odds, and some tricks aimed at thwarting him, Bruce at his own expense and considerable effort, informed property owners what was happening, and encouraged their letters of protest. Out-of-city residents and trade professionals packed the hearing room on the day that commissioners were to take action, telling them the horror stories of their past experiences. And then, to the astonishment of all, Bruce presented mountains of protest letters and petitions, in the impossible numbers that were required to defeat the proposal.

Most people today enjoy their property rights without ever realizing to whom they owe a deep debt of gratitude. Interestingly, many years have since passed without a single incident of the dire consequences – the portended death and mayhem, which were predicted by those who do not believe in the efficacy of the individual citizen, the forces of the market place, or the eminent supremacy of common sense.

Bruce Simon was a hero.

Bruce Simon had the courage of his convictions and never hesitated to stand for them.

Bruce Simon demonstrated for all, that one person can make a difference.

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