Monday, April 19, 2010

Feb 25th 2009

Personal Response to Barack Obama’s first address to Congress

The debate before us is an ages old one dating back to our founding fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, to the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists, to the Union States and to the Confederacy, to every Presidency and every Congress in our history.

The eternal question it seems in American governance is to which side the scales of power will tilt. Wise founders like Jefferson envisioned a union of individual states that teetered precariously close to controlled anarchy, others in history, such as FDR imagined a country in which the federal government guided, protected and influenced nearly every aspect of our daily lives.

Our job, our sacred duty as citizens of this incredible country is to instruct our elected representatives and provide guidance; dictating to them exactly which course we (as a nation) shall take. Whether that course be one of Capitalism or Socialism, government control or restraint, expansion or contraction we, as American citizens control that destiny.

As a nation built upon capitalist philosophies, or economy is intricately woven into our democracy, to address one aspect while ignoring the other is not only naive, but inexcusably foolish.

In any form of government, (but most predominately in ours) there is a perverse but undeniable version of a golden rule – whomever holds the gold makes the rules.

So it is even in a republic such as ours. When the Federal Government holds the gold and lends the gold, it can place strings, restrictions and controls on how that money is spent. And with each string, with each restriction and with each control the liberty and freedom of the recipient is compromised.

It is every American’s right to place the power and responsibility into the hands of their government if they so choose, but please, do not do so without a full understanding of everything it entails. Freedom IS a zero-sum equation; the more gold, the more power a citizen relinquishes to the government, the less they retain for themselves.

I had a friend when I was younger whose parents bought him a car, paid his insurance and faithfully filled the tank with gas. In exchange for their generosity, he had to run errands for them, couldn’t drive the car beyond a certain distance, and had to have any venture he took approved in advance; after all… it was really their car. They paid for it and had every right to dictate how it would be used. If he wanted the freedom to drive where he wanted, how he wanted, and when he wanted he would have to purchase and maintain his own car.

Many of us as parents have uttered those dreaded words “while you’re living under my roof you will abide by my rules.”

Every cent of tax we allow our representatives to strip from our paychecks is one more step we take back into that environment of parental dictatorship… only we have exchanged the warmth of a loving and concerned parent for the dictates of a cold and self-interested machine called the government.

Most of us don’t even grasp just how controlling and dictatorial this intrusive parent already is in our lives. You brush your teeth with a toothbrush that has gone through months of scrutiny before it is approved by our ‘parent’ the government, the fuel we place in our gas tank must meet an inordinate number of examinations and regulations before we are graciously permitted to use it.

To the extraordinarily wise founders such as Thomas Jefferson, this subtle intrusion into our liberties would be unconscionable enough in and of itself, but realize that with every inspection, every regulation and every invasion into our freedom comes a bureaucracy that sucks even more of our personal income in order to maintain itself.

Our local sales taxes are obvious and evident on our sales receipts; seven, eight, or even ten percent of our purchase is added directly to the cost and printed clearly for us to see. But what isn’t noticed is the sneaky and insidious ten or twenty percent that is already covered by the cost of the item. You may think a shirt costs twenty dollars quote-unquote ‘before tax’, but how much of that twenty dollars goes to the gas tax paid by the trucker who brought the shirt to the store, or the tax the shirt maker paid when they bought the fabric, the property tax the store pays, or the employment tax each and every person involved with making that shirt pays? All of those taxes are lumped into the twenty-dollar cost of that shirt. The cost you think is ‘before tax.’ Again, I remind you… wherein lies the gold, lies the power.

Many may think that government oversight keeps us safe, and is worth the various taxes, the costs of those oversights and regulations… they contend that without government regulations companies would be selling snake oil and unsafe or even deadly products. They will loudly protest that without such government oversight toys would be covered in lead-based paints, toothbrushes would suddenly become unsafe and poison would instantly appear in household products. Ignoring the fact that these horrendous events have taken place even with government regulations in place, keep in mind Consumer Reports and Underwriters’ Laboratories are NOT government institutions, and yet they do more on a yearly basis to keep us safe than billions of dollars of ‘government oversight.’ Furthermore, in this day and age of massive and instantaneous communication, word of mouth is no longer just neighbors talking over the fence… it is blogs, websites, text messaging, and untrammeled sharing of warning and opinions never before seen in history. Ask Cathy Lee Gifford what devastating effects ‘word of mouth’ can have. Her reputation and business were destroyed with unfounded accusations, and all the government oversight in the country didn’t defend her.

I am in no way saying we don’t need any government, any regulations, or any oversight. What I am saying is that, like a patient that has been overdosed with a beneficial drug, too much will kill us. It will kill our economy, and thereby our country, in many ways it already has.

The perception that companies are flocking overseas so executives and CEO’s can merely pad their wallets and satisfy an insatiable sense of greed is disingenuous at least and class-baiting at worst. Companies flock to greener pastures just as any entity will migrate to a friendlier climate… friendlier work environments with lower tax burdens, less regulations and less government and union interference.

They don’t flee tax burdens because they are unpatriotic; many do it because the very survival of their company depends on it. When union shops are forced to pay ten dollars or more per hour than their non-union competitors, and when companies must pay millions to conform to government regulations it is not a question of greed, it is a question of unsustainable overhead. If there is a question of greed, it is one that should be asked of the worker who would prefer to see his employer go under rather than take a five dollar an hour pay cut… who has no problem with every one of his coworkers being thrown out of a job as his company goes bankrupt, but can not bear the thought of seeing a reduction in his pension. Therein lies the true greed! When union workers can not be fired or laid off, and must be paid overly generous pensions one can not lay the accusation of greed on the administration alone.

Many will say this is a country of the “haves” and the “have nots”; they will say it is a country of the “rich” and of the “lower and middle-classes.” They refuse to see it is a country of the employers and the employees, and it is indisputable that each group needs the other. Employers need to create work environments in which workers are proud to contribute to the goals of the company, they are compensated fairly, and their concerns are heard and addressed by the higher-up’s. In return, the loyalty and productivity of the worker rewards the employer. But as with every aspect in our lives, government intrusion does not help to build this amicable relationship, in fact it creates a situation where either side tries to influence the third party, the government, in order to gain an ally against the other. Managers and executives contribute to campaigns to gain favor, and unions do likewise. The candidates and the government make out like bandits by playing both sides against each other and reaping the benefits of the battle.

In every aspect of our lives, one must recognize that the heartless, cold, and calculating government serves little purpose except to perpetuate its own existence. It may dress itself up in the flag, in grandiose and benevolent facades of servitude and reverence to populace ideals, but the heart and soul of America are not in Washington DC! Our elected representatives talk of a two thousand dollar tax credit when most wouldn’t blink at dropping two thousand in an hour or two of shopping! Not one person in that chamber – Congressmen, Senators, or the President – would consider two thousand dollars anything but petty change in their own lives. How can they possibly understand our hopes, needs, or even our lives? They have valets, drivers, staffs, consultants, second houses and lavish two-hour lunches. Obama praised his $13 a week relief checks when he himself wouldn’t know what it feels like to thrill at finding thirteen dollars in a pocket. To him and the other millionaires in the chamber, bending over to pick up a ten-dollar bill would be a waste of effort.

The values, the ideals and the very essence of America will not and cannot be found within the beltway. Honesty integrity, courage, innovation, neighborly concern and self-sacrifice… those things are found in the farmlands from Ohio to Nebraska, the ranges of Texas, Oklahoma and Montana. They are found in the high altitudes of Colorado and South Dakota when perfect strangers help dig a fellow citizen’s car out of a snow drift. They are found in Kansas when you see scores of people gathering to distribute food and water to tornado victims. The spirit of America… that spirit of fellowship, of dreaming, of hard work and just rewards… the spirit that drives the American Dream (a spirit not shared by our illegal visitors from the south I might add), is found in Americans… those millions of unexalted and unrecognized American citizens that don’t consider themselves above the law or too important to play by the rules… those that aren’t in a Presidential Cabinet or sitting in a Congressional Chamber.

And so we must recognize that the solutions to our problems will not and cannot be found in Washington DC. The survival of our nation is now and always has been most assured when it is in the hands of the American people.

If we relinquish our money, and thereby our power and our freedom to the cold machine in Washington it will only spend that money to perpetuate its own existence, to feed its own unslakable appetite, and to claim more power for itself. The solution, the ONLY solution is to elect representatives who would return the gold, the power, and the control of this country to the people who the founders intended… us the citizens.

I only fear a day will come when the people can no longer ask for that return of power and will choose to wrest it by force!

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