Monday, May 28, 2012

How Did We Get toThis?

Students have been staging riots for the last few weeks in Quebec over a proposed rise in college tuition costs.  While the fees would nearly double, tuition in Quebec is the lowest in Canada.  Here in the US, students recently gathered on the grounds of Sallie Mae (the leading guarantor of government backed student loans) not to protest the proposed rise in interest rates on student loans, but to demand that their college debt be forgiven in full!  How did we manage to raise a generation (some may say two) that has come to see their wants and desires as the obligations of others?

The reasons for the rise in college costs' out-pacing the general rate of inflation are many and varied.  However, I believe one of the largest factors is the great impact of government guaranteed loan payments.  You've got a perfect storm of naive (ignorant) students that have been led to expect a career paying 6 figures upon graduating with a degree of any kind (Major is irrelevant) racking up huge amounts of government guaranteed debt, you've got universities leveraging their status (claiming that having Yale, Harvard, Cambridge, etc in your pedigree will enhance employment prospects) to simultaneously justify their high tuition and attract high school graduates, and you've got the government guaranteeing payment to these universities while promoting the fantasy that everyone has a "right" to a top-level education.  All of this is compounded by the financial illiteracy rampant in our society.

I actually hope they are successful in getting their debt forgiven.  It'd be worth the price to see their collective faces when the IRS informs them that the $100,000 of student loan debt they had forgiven is treated as income, subject to taxation (as well as penalties and interest if not paid).  I wonder what the IRS is gonna say when these students refuse to pay "their fair share".  The hard economic lesson would be worth it.

Our children, and to some extent we, ourselves, no longer know what our parents knew: "There is No Free Lunch".  After the deprivations of the Great Depression, followed by WWII, the prosperity of the 50's & 60's led to an explosion of consumerism.  While this also led to the expansion of the middle class and an improvement in the over-all standard of living, many went overboard in embracing the new prosperity at the expense of the hard-won wisdom of their parents and grand-parents that advised "saving for a rainy day" and the concept of delayed gratification.  Today, it's "I want it all; and I want it NOW".

We can't hold these young people completely at fault.  They only know what they've been taught (or not) and what their life experience has been.  They've been raised by parents who, with all good intent, have done their best to soften all of life's hard edges and sharp corners and to shield their children from the "trauma" of failure.  As a result, their children grow up lacking the ability to cope with difficulty and disappointment when their expectations aren't met.  As all young children do, they lash out.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Struck a Nerve?

Well, now.  It seems that my early post commenting/warning about the encroachment of government in our personal lives here in Vermont via "Smart Meters" and the "Smart Grid" technologies has generated a bit of a buzz in certain quarters, after being published in my local paper as a Letter to the Editor.  The comments range from  "He's got a point" to "He's a right-wing conspiracy nut case".  Just what I was going for. Heh.  It's particularly illustrative of the deep blueness of my state that the negative comments focused on the hyperbolic endgame argument that the State could shut off a private individuals access to electric power if they failed to adhere to the government program of rationing and conservation.  While I wish I had included the alternative (or interim) step of the State levying an increased charge on those who used more than "their fair share" of electricity in the published letter or confiscating power people generated for themselves, I'm astounded that the so-called (and self-regarded) intellectual elites so completely missed the point.

The point of the hyperbole was to illustrate the increased potential for State control and monitoring such systems provide, along with the slowly constricting boundaries of what was once considered inviolate personal privacy.  As an aside, I have to wonder what the critics of my cautions would have to say if these same technologies were being imposed by a Republican/Conservative, George W. Busch-type governor?  After all, these are some of the same people who were most vocal in opposition to the Patriot Act and almost any piece of legislation proposed/supported by Republicans.

What many fail to see, on the left and the right, is that we have experienced over the past 100 or so years of Progressivism the fulfillment of the warnings of the founders.  The warnings that it is in the nature of all governments to grow larger and more intrusive and that it is the primary obligation of free citizens to safeguard themselves against loss of liberty and freedom.  Such threats are never openly displayed.  They're usually couched in soft-sounding terminologies such as, "It's for the children", "We need to do this for the 'common good'", or "It's the only fair thing to do", and yes, even "It's in the interest of National Security".

If you look objectively at the history of Progressive policies on the country, you will find little, or no, net positive effect for all of the trillions of dollars that have been confiscated for redistributive purposes.  The "War on Poverty"?  The percentage of Americans officially living in poverty today is virtually the same as when the anti-poverty measures were enacted.  The "War on Drugs"?  Please.  "Social Security"?  A well-intentioned plan to provide for the support of widows and orphans, it's been so expanded, bloated and changed to include nearly anyone who applies that it's been unsustainable for decades.  Don't even get me started on welfare.  You really think that's a compassionate program for the poor?  It creates and exacerbates the very problems it was supposedly created to solve!  What good has come from a program that enables single-parent households?  That has given support and validation to the idea that women "don't need no man" in order to have a "family"?  Welfare has done more harm to the traditional family unit (particularly among African-American and Hispanics) than any other single program and has actually increased the poverty count, resulting in greater demand for government handouts, greater dependency on government and a greater sense of hopelessness among the young, who have only the experiences of the poverty of their surroundings and the never-ending mantra that they have no chance to succeed because of some nameless, faceless "Man" holding them down.  This desperation leads directly to the increased incidence of crime in communities where there is the greatest reliance on these programs.

All of these programs, as well as the rest of the "Great Society" have created a massive sea change in what was once called "The American Way";  the idea that as an American you could work hard and provide for your, and your family's, success and future free from the overbearing hand of oppressive government; that you would be guaranteed the right to hold what you created/earned by your labors and the sweat of your brow;  that you could become anything you imagined (even a millionaire).  Instead, we now have raised 2-3 generations of people who have been "educated" to believe that the "deck is stacked against them" and that only the "lucky" or "greedy" attain wealth and have to come to see government, not as a protector of individual rights and freedoms, but as a provider and guarantor of personal wants.  These people's ability and incentive to provide for themselves has been intentionally atrophied by reliance on government handouts provided under the guise of "compassion" and "fairness" (there's that word again).  Where is the compassion in creating dependency?  Where is the compassion in crippling an individual's desire and ability to provide for themselves and their families and in punishing those who dare to succeed "too much"?

We now stand on the precipice.  The "point of no return" warned of by the great thinkers and scholars of the past who studied the new phenomena called "The American Experiment".  They warned that America would only succeed until the political class discovered that it could bribe the people with their own money; and when the people realized that they could vote themselves unlimited largesse from the national treasury.  The determinative point would come when those reliant on government payments exceeded the number of producer.

The current ratio is approximately 51% producers to 49% takers.  If the currents trends aren't reversed, and soon, we will enter the world referenced in such works as Orwell's "1984" and Rand's "Atlas Shrugged".  Only, with the loss of America, there will be no place left to escape to.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Great "Gay" Debate

Obama "came out" this week in favor of gay marriage.  Finally, we can be sure of his position on this vital issue (maybe, he's kinda like John Kerry: he was for it before he was against it before he was for it again).  Not only is this the worst kind of pandering in search of votes for a floundering incumbency, it's reducing segments of the population into warring factions instead of bringing the country together under a shared vision for the future.

You can see the same happening with other demographic groups: the "War on Women", "Republicans Hate Blacks (thanks, Rev Al)", "Republicans Hate Hispanics (thanks, Howard Dean)", "Republicans Hate the Working Man and only favor the Rich (the Democrat Party as a whole)", etc, etc, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

The fact that these are all bald-faced lies doesn't seem to matter a whit.  Neither to the Democrat politicians who spew this garbage, nor to the eager attendees in the choir.  They are comforted in their victimhood status and resist any notion that they might have the solution to their "inequality" in their own hands.  Robbing Peter to pay Paul has never been sound fiscal policy, however much Paul may want it.

Getting back to the impetus of this post, gay marriage, Obama is blatantly politicizing his stance purely for electoral gain, NOT the deep, personal introspection he claims.  Those who listened closely to his interview will note that he said that he wasn't mad at (VP) Joe Biden for bringing the subject up, stating that "We had already decided that we were going to take this stance in the future and were going to make the announcement later in the year before the convention"!  Gee, if this is how he has decided he truly feels, why wait?  The LGBT community has been clamoring for years for him to take a stand on this issue (although, if they listened to his interview, they'd notice that he said nothing about advancing the gay rights/gay marriage agenda.  What he said was that it should remain a states rights issue, quite a different thing altogether, no?) and he has resisted all of their demands.  Now, suddenly, he's openly for it?  The timing is curious, at the least.  The fact that he has admitted that he had planned on making the announcement at a later date can only lead to one of two conclusions: one, he was caught by surprise by Biden's statement and felt pressured to respond in such a way as to not drive away part of his base and only said he had already come to this position as a way of saving face and denying that his statement was coerced; or two, he and his re-election team had politically calculated the optimum time for the President to make the announcement so as to have the biggest impact on his re-election chances.

It's a mystery to me why the LGBT community continue to allow themselves to be played like this.  I'll say right here that I am most definitely NOT in favor of gay marriage.  I think so-called "Civil Unions" are sufficient to protect the legal rights of same-sex couples.  Even without civil unions, any couple can guarantee themselves the legal rights of inheritance, powers of attorney, child custody, medical visitation, etc. by going on line and downloading the forms for just a few bucks (no attorney necessary) and, if necessary, filing the paperwork with the county clerk or the county court.  Done.

Marriage, on the other hand, should be preserved as an institution.  Supported by literally thousands of years of human history.  Marriage is primarily a religious institution, co-opted by the State, not the other way around.  All of the world's major religions have provisions for marriage that are universal in at least one aspect: the Union of Man to Woman.  This follows the natural, biological order of creation.

One of the reasons that the institution of marriage has survived the test of time is that it has been proven that the family unit of Father & Mother coming together for the purpose of raising children is the optimum.  Optimum for the well being of the offspring, optimum for the health of the community, and by extension the State and Nation.  Being optimum doesn't mean it is always perfect, it simply means that it is an ideal to aspire to.  It is for this reason that government(s) have an interest in the politics of same-sex relations.  Governments have an interest in stable societies and a happy populace.  Opening up the institution of marriage to "re-interpretation" will lead to the elimination of any formal recognition of a family unit.  The fabric of social civil society would begin to unravel.  Some things should simply not be altered for no other reason than the whim of children who want something they can't have.

For any who might be reading this who are gay, or have gay friends or relatives, I am not in favor of leading a march on your homes denouncing your chosen lifestyle.  Contrary to popular misconception, conservatives don't really care what you and you partner do in the bedroom, although we'd rather not be subjected to the sight in public (don't get your knickers in a twist, we find gross displays of hetero affection in public similarly offensive).  However, I would like to pose this question, so far unanswered: "Why do you feel the need for your lifestyle to be given the approval of the rest of society?  By force of the court, if necessary?"  I mean, if you are truly devoted to each other and firmly believe your relationship is proper, why do you need my stamp of approval?  You're not gonna get it.  It doesn't matter how many judges and politicians you gather together to declare you and your partner "married".  Those of us who hold a traditional view of marriage will never see you so, whether we say anything to your face or not.

So, why?  All of the legal rights you say you want can be gotten easily and cheaply.  What are you gonna do if they pass a law recognizing "legal" gay marriage with a carve-out for religious objection?  Are you going to be satisfied with a ceremony performed by the Justice of the Peace?  Or are you going to sue the church, demanding that they abrogate their deeply held religious beliefs in favor of your hurt feelings of "2nd class citizenship"?  The point is, if you want your relationships to been seen as equally valid with traditional male/female marriage, demonstrating and marching and filing lawsuits against those who don't agree is not the way to go about it.  Live your lives, show your fidelity to your partners, get along with your neighbors (even if you don't like them too much), participate in your local community.  Living the example will go a lot farther to changing public perception that trying to do so by force.

UPDATED 6/2015:

Well, here we are.  SCOTUS has (again) delved deeply into the Constitution and come up with a heretofore unknown "right", in the process, upending literally millenia of human history.  Once opened to redefinition, especially under the reasoning of Justice Kennedy, the author of the majority opinion, there is little or no legal basis for redrawing the lines that delimit the bounds of what will comprise legal "marriage" in the future.

Derided as "alarmists" and "bigots", those who have warned that this will lead inevitably to a loss of actual Constitutional rights under the 1st Amendment have been ridiculed.  Proponents point to the language of the decision that purports to defend the 1st Amendment rights of those who hold religious opposition to SSM to continue to promote their beliefs and practice the tenets of their faith.  However, we've already seen attempts by individuals and local government officials to punish those who refuse to go along with this radical redefinition of society:

Without even going to trial, a judge ordered that both the state of Washington and the same-sex couple can collect damages and attorney's fees against  both a woman's business assets and her personal home and savings (guilty until proven innocent?).  "The message of these rulings is unmistakable: the government will bring about your personal and professional ruin if you don't help celebrate samd-sex marriage," said her attorney.  [From]

Aaron and Melissa Klein refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, and now they must pay for their "crime".  An Oregon administrative law judge ruled on Jan. 29 that the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa did, in fact, discriminate in 2013 when they declined to provide a wedding cake for a lesbian couple because it would have violated their Christian beliefs (they face a fines of up to more than $150,000). [From]

Coeur d'Alene, Idaho:  City officials have laid down the law to Christian pastors within their community, telling them bluntly via an ordinance that if they refuse to marry homosexuals, they will face jail time and fines.

Many have denied that pastors would ever be forced to perform ceremonies that are at odds with their faith, but that's what is happening here, and it's happening this quickly. [From]

During oral arguments in Obergefell v Hodges, [White House] counsel told Justice Alito that if the court found a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, then religious institutions' tax exempt status is "certainly going to be an issue".

And so it begins....................

Saturday, May 5, 2012


It's finally happened.  KSM and his terrorist colleagues are finally beginning their "date with destiny" in the US court system.  Talk about a waste of time and (our) money.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't KSM already confess (brag about) his role as principle planner to the 9/11 attacks?  Didn't he also ask to plead guilty and be put to death so he could be a "martyr"?  Fer crissakes.  Take his word for it, grant his last wish and hang the bastard already!  His fellow "jihadists" can all have front row seats.  After seeing first hand the rewards they can look forward to for their fidelity of "faith", they can be given the choice of following their comrade into the arms of Allah and the 72 virgin(goats) or of cooperating with the court proceedings and with US military authorities in return for a lifetime of being fed, clothed and sheltered, along with unlimited opportunity to contemplate Allah to their (black)hearts' content.

<sigh> This wouldn't be such an issue if we were still a country that allowed itself to make moral judgements of good and evil, promoting the former and swiftly chastising the latter, as opposed to a country that has allowed it's tradition of tolerance to be corrupted into moral relevancy; where all beliefs are equally worthy of respect and the judgement of right and wrong "depends on your point of view".

War is seldom to be sought, never to be applauded; but if it is to be waged it should be waged as a WAR, where the only just method of conflict is to seek the swiftest, most complete defeat of the enemy possible.  Wars waged in such a way ultimately result in fewer civilian casualties and collateral damage.  The notion of "proportionality of force" in war is nothing more than a Progressive's desire to handicap the forces of justice, and give evil a "fair chance".

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

They're baaaack

Well, it's May Day.  Kinda like the international version of Groundhog Day.  If OWS comes up out of their hidey-holes and the stench doesn't offend too many people, we'll get another 6 months of riots, public masturbation/sex/intoxication/defecation/urinating/etc., damage to public and private property, illegal encampments and demands for greater government largess.  All of the above aided and abetted by a cabal of lefty interests (including, but not limited to, ACLU, AFT, SEIU,, Socialist Workers Party, SDS, American Socialists, Americans for Progress, the Democrat Party).

On the bright side, I haven't heard of any bodies being tossed from the deck of the GWB, or dragged feet first out of the tunnels.  Guess they decided against attempting to block the bridges and tunnels into NYC.  Maybe they realized that preventing the trucker's (part of the real 99%) from being able to earn a living for their families wasn't the best idea.  Not that I'm advocating violence.  However, if the OWS punks wanna dance........?