Archive for December 2016

Christmas   3 comments

Blog Hop Topic – What your favorite Christmas present ever received? What’s the Christmas present you never got and wished you did?

WordPress:
<!– start InLinkz script –>
<a rel=’nofollow’ href=”http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=685555“><img style=”border:0px” src=”https://www.inlinkz.com/img/wp/wpImg.png“></a>
<!– end InLinkz script –>

Custom Blog:
<!– start InLinkz script –>

http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=685555” title=”click to view in an external page.”>An InLinkz Link-up


<!– end InLinkz script –>

Code for Link:
<!– start InLinkz script –>
<a rel=’nofollow’ href=https://goo.gl/eE0Bq1>get the InLinkz code</a>
<!– end InLinkz script –>

I actually have two favorite Christmas presents and I couldn’t choose between them, so here goes.

Image result for image of a girl's christmas wrapped presentOn December 21, 1992, Bri came fighting into the world. She had a hard time coming because she was a pretty good-sized baby coming out of a small mom, but she was fine and healthy and filled our days up with her bright presence from the very moment that she came home.

We celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve because my mother (and her father) were born on Christmas Day. Yeah … mysterious and curious, huh?

We took our little bundle of joy to my brother’s house that first Chrismas Eve. And every  year since she was born (until she “ran away” to join the gypsy bluegrass musician circuit), we’d been busy with birthday parties in the week before Christmas.

Bri is a big personality. She fills up any room she’s in and did pretty much since she was born. She outshines the tree. She sings and dances and presents you with incredible art projects. She’s an ongoing comedy act as well. She’s been a wonderful addition for every day of the year, but she came at Christmas, so she is my favorite Christmas present.

Except ….

Image result for image of a boy's wrapped christmas presentOn December 20, 1998, Kiernan came quietly into this world. (Yeah, there might be something weirdly genetic going on here). He was born in a hot tub, underwater, with far less stress and much more calm. Same midwife! He also went to my brother’s house on Christmas Eve, guarded by his fiercely loyal big sister, who ended up saving his life about four times before he was 10. Boys can be calm and collected and still be a danger to themselves.

Kiernan is more of an old soul (I don’t believe in the system behind that). He’s calm, collected, placid. If he witnessed the world blowing up, he’d take a deep breath and say “We should clean that up” and go get a bucket and rags to get started. For most of his life, he has watched his sister’s variety show with amusement. These days he’s the central event. He’s a little reluctant in that role, preferring to be backstage, but he’s taken to rock climbing like a star, determined to be as good at his sport as his sister was at dance or is now at musicianship. He became a legal adult this year and admitted it is way more responsibility that he wants it to be.

Two very different Christmas presents equally loved by their admiring parents. So how would I choose between the two?

Posted December 26, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

Tagged with , , , ,

My Favorite Christmas Song   2 comments

Oh Come, O Come, Emmanuel. I could not find an adult choir version of this. Sung by the a full voice choir … oh, my. It lifts my spirit to God.

Posted December 25, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity, Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

Anarchic Christmas   Leave a comment

This is Gary Kinghorn’s interpretation, filtered through an anarcho-capitalist lens, of the birth of Jesus. It has a lot of truth as well as some mistaken views, not the least of which is an apparent failure to realize Jesus was God Incarnate.

But, for the good parts, I am posting it for your consideration. Jesus did indeed point to a heavenly hierarchy that stood well above the government of Rome and even the Temple. But Jesus never said we were to be without rules, living in chaos. He revealed that there was a greater, more just, more sane government with God as King than anything Man had created. It was not a government-less society that Jesus pointed to, but a society ruled by God with humans in voluntary association through Jesus Christ. An anarchist society would eventually have difficulty remaining anarchist and peaceful outside of a submissive relationship with God. Lela

 

When Jesus was born, the world was not so different than the western world today.  Rome was the New World Order of that era. Julius Caesar had crossed the Rubicon decades earlier, and Augustus Caesar had been emperor/dictator for almost 25 years. Rome had become a failing welfare state whose legions relied on exacting tribute from citizens in exchange for benefits in the form of social services. Rome had gone from a free republic to an empire, while starting down a long path of debasing its currency, the known world’s reserve currency. A once independent and self-reliant society had become self-indulgent, apathetic and subject to the will of the dictators, who called themselves “Fathers” and the benefactors of the people.

Rome did not conquer Israel, but was invited in to administer a dispute between two brothers over who should be king. Rome was the world police force of the day, and by appealing to Rome, Israel fell under the tribute of the Pax Romana excise tax and mutual obligations in exchange for Rome keeping the peace of a pending civil war.

“The hand of the diligent shall bear rule, but the slothful shall be under tribute.” Proverbs 12:24

Image result for picture of jesus overturning tablesUnder Pharisee and Roman influence, Israel had become a vast welfare state with people looking to the government to take care of them, as in the days under Egyptian and Babylonian captivity. People were committing the sin of coveting thy neighbor’s goods, while electing benefactors to provide for their needs under the Roman system of Corban. Long gone was the system of government set up under Moses that depended entirely of free will offerings to support the needy, distributed by a system of charitable ministers that served the welfare needs of the society.

Jesus came along to lead his followers out of this ungodly Roman system, preaching an alternative form of government. He spoke of a jurisdiction outside of the Roman state, based on the perfect law of freedom, outside the tyranny of men who would rule over their brothers and neighbors. He unified the early Christian church in a system of charity, hope and respect for the rights of each other, requiring that each person love thy neighbor as thy self in a system of mutual, not governmental support.

Jesus baptized people out of the welfare system established by the Romans and Pharisees and into the charitable system administered by the apostles. The Roman citizen ID stone that was part of their Corban was replaced with a white stone from the Jordan River laid upon the altar signifying the person’s baptism into the free Church society.

The ministers of the early church were to be servants of the people and administer the free will offerings of the community. They were required to take a vow of poverty to ensure they did not abuse their administrative privileges or siphon off the collective treasury. They took vows of celibacy to ensure they did not create heirs that could be entitled to the charitable contributions they ministered over.

Jesus was showing a way to unentangle people from the captivity of the social contracts they had made with the state of Rome and Judea, and the tribute and obligations they had become snared by. He proclaimed to call no man “Father”, as they called their Roman benefactors, but stated that “thou Father art in heaven”. The perfect law of freedom indicated that man’s unalienable rights stemmed from God and nature, and not governments of men. This was a system of anarchy, by strict definition, without the complex system of tribute that led to the decadence and decline of society, and the corruptible force of the state to back it up.

The early Christian church was not persecuted for their belief in a different God or a Kingdom in Heaven, but for their opting out of the mutual taxation system and seeking to live apart from the kings and overlords, the gods many, who demanded their tribute. Governments have no inalienable rights to rule over men. They obtain lawful authority through the consent of the governed. Understanding how that consent is obtained and granted is the key to understanding liberty and your own political status. Anarchy is merely that lack of imposed government, and the seeking of your own independent jurisdiction. According to Brother Gregory Williams, the term “Republic” actually stems from the pre-Caesar words “Libera Res Publica” (Free from things Public, i.e. heavy government). Starting with Augustus, they dropped the “Free” part. (http://www.newswithviews.com/Gregory/williams117.htm)

Having created his government-less society, Jesus  took on the Pharisees, essentially a political party at the time, who had passed an ordinance requiring the temple tax be paid or face the judgment of a civil magistrate of the Judean government. These taxes flowed into the government’s treasury within the temple whether it served the people or not. The central treasury that held the government funds could be abused by a greedy population or a corrupt bureaucracy.

The moneychangers required the temple tax to be paid in the denarii, and took their commissioned cut of the currency conversion for the people to worship. When Jesus overturned the tables of the moneychangers, he was really threatening the powerful elite’s ungodly way of life. This final insult could no longer be tolerated.

When brought before Pilate, Jesus declared, “My Kingdom is not of this world”. The word “world” was written kosmos in the original Greek, which is defined as “orderly arrangement”, “order” or “government”. What Jesus was really saying was that his Kingdom on this earth was not a part of the government of Rome, and explicitly not within their jurisdiction to rule over him. And Pilate generally agreed that he had no jurisdiction over Jesus’ Kingdom of non-government. Jesus had taken the Kingdom from those who would suppress and subject the people in sloth and servitude, and entrusted it to His loyal followers who were leaders in a Kingdom that set men free in spirit and in truth. Anarchy indeed.

The Pharisees appealed to Rome to get rid of Jesus, but Jesus would not appeal to Rome for protection. Had He appealed to Rome, he would have compromised the sovereignty of His Kingdom on earth.

Today, most of us find ourselves under slothful tribute to an emperor and a system that is not for our benefit. We have coveted our neighbor’s goods in a vain pursuit of “free” health care, education, welfare, unemployment benefits, social security and government protection. We have traded our inalienable God-given rights through social contracts both implied and explicit. Our churches are not ordained by God, but are 501(c)(3) corporations granted status by the state. As we head into this Christmas week, and into what is certainly going to be a volatile 2012, we are going to need to dig down deep and find that anarchist in all of us, with a little more loving thy neighbor as thy self to boot.

Posted December 25, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Anarchy, Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

Santa Needs a Legal Fund   Leave a comment

Attorney Harvey Silverstein explained that the average American adult commits about three felonies a day and doesn’t even realize it. That really shouldn’t surprise us because this nation incarcerates 1 out of every 100 citizens and 25% of us have had some scrape with the law beyond a driving violation in our lifetimes.

Basically, we’re all felons who just haven’t been caught yet.

So, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that Santa will violate at least five laws in flying his annual route this year.

 

Found on FEE by David Rosenthal

While most people know Jolly Old Saint Nick as a friendly figure, he too is not immune from the perils of administrative overreach and overcriminalization.

To get you in the Christmas spirit, here is a list of some of the potential crimes and violations of federal law Saint Nick as he prepares to take flight for 2016.

1. The Reindeer Act

Image result for image of santa's sleigh

Many have tried finding Santa’s workshop—without success—but children have long mailed letters to the Santa Claus House located at 101 St. Nicholas Drive in North Pole, Alaska. This office location is the first source of trouble for Father Christmas. Under the Reindeer Act, signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937, only Alaska Natives are allowed to own reindeer in Alaska.

While Santa has been operating out of the North Pole for many years, only Eskimos, Indians, and Aleuts inhabiting Alaska at the time the United States purchased the land from Russia are considered natives under the act, and Saint Nicholas is from the Greek village Patara in modern-day Turkey. Luckily for Santa, he might be able to avoid the $5,000 fine for violating this provision of the Code of Federal Regulations, but only if he applies for and is granted a special use permit to possess reindeers as a non-native.

(The author probably did not know that this special use permit is almost always only granted to a non-Native if he or she is married to a Native … or the University of Alaska.)

2. The Lacey Act

Even if Santa gets around the Reindeer Act, he may face civil and criminal penalties under the Lacey Act if his purchase, sale, possession, or use of reindeer—or any other flora or fauna— violates any state or federal law or the law of any foreign nation, no matter what language or code that foreign law is written in.

Just as some unwitting Americans have been convicted of offenses such as the
“importation of Caribbean spiny lobsters from Honduras” in violation of Honduran packaging laws, Santa could be committing a crime each time he crosses borders to deliver flora or fauna.

3. Flying Without a License

Despite Santa’s many years of experience, there is no Mr. Claus listed in the Federal Aviation Administration’s pilot certificates database. If Santa is piloting his sleigh without an airman’s certificate, he is in violation of 49 U.S.C. § 46317.

Any pilot who operates an aircraft without a proper license is guilty of a federal crime punishable by three years in prison (the sleigh would almost certainly be deemed an aircraft under 49 U.S.C. § 40102(a)(6)). And that is only for Santa’s role as a pilot. If his sleigh is not deemed airworthy, Santa will be in violation of 14 C.F.R. § 91.7 and subject to additional civil penalties by the FAA.

If Santa’s sleigh is approved, he then must post “within” the “aircraft” a copy of the registration, airworthiness certificate, and other official documents, to be displayed “at the cabin or cockpit entrance so that it is legible to passengers or crew,” per 14 C.F.R. § 91.203(b); the sleigh’s baggage compartment must be installed subject to Subsection C with a copy of FAA Form 337 authorizing such installation maintained on board the sleigh; and all fuel venting and exhaust emissions must meet additional requirements.

Hopefully Santa has a good compliance team.

Image result for image of santa's workshop

4. False Statements

Any white lie that falls within the jurisdiction of the U.S. government could be a federal crime. As Heritage scholars have written elsewhere, there is one general federal statute for false statements that “should be broad enough to reach any fib or whopper that the federal government could have a good reason to prosecute.”

But there are dozens more specific criminal statutes that punish false statements regarding such minutiae as fluid milk products. If Santa parks his sleigh on federal land and encounters a park ranger while coming down the chimney, he’d better not tell a fib about what he’s up to or he could end up in big trouble. (He would also be violating another federal law if he parks his sleigh in a way that inconveniences another person on federal land, but I digress.)

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once observed that, under federal false statement statutes, “the prospect remains that an overzealous prosecutor or investigator—aware that a person has committed some suspicious acts, but unable to make a criminal case—will create a crime by surprising the suspect, asking about those acts, and receiving a false denial.”

Here, once Santa gets off the ground, his real legal trouble is only just beginning. A government agent need only ask Santa if he committed burglary, trespass, or larceny, or ask him, “Are you really Santa Claus?” In that case, Santa really would need a Miracle on 34th Street to stay out of the slammer for lying.

5. IRS Tax Gift

Even if Santa evades capture during his Christmas Eve flight, he then must deal with Uncle Sam upon his return to the North Pole. Under IRS gift tax rules, the giver of gifts above a certain threshold is taxed at a rate up to 40 percent of the value of the gift. While individuals are allowed to make gifts up to $14,000 per recipient without encountering any tax consequences—most toy trucks and dolls would probably fit under this exemption—gifts above the limit must be reported on IRS Form 709.

As such, each time Santa drops off a shiny new BMW for mom or dad, he will be on the hook for an even bigger tax bill on April 15. Willful failure to file a gift tax return can land Santa in prison for up to one year under 26 U.S.C. § 7203. Let no good deed go unpunished.

The List Goes On

While those are just a few examples of how Santa may be held criminally and civilly liable for violating U.S. law, there are several other ways in which he operates in legal gray areas.

For instance, how does Santa compensate all of his elves who are working around the clock to finish making toys before the big day? If they are not receiving proper overtime pay in a safe work environment, Santa will be in violation of numerous provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Finally, given the size of his operation, Santa must be complying with the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate.

If Santa cannot even stay in line with every single government rule and regulation, how is the average American supposed to keep up? Attorney Harvey Silverglate argues that the average American unwittingly commits three felonies a day due to vague laws and governmental overreach.

The American people—and Mr. Claus—deserve better. Heritage scholars have identified a comprehensive strategy to combat the problem of overcriminalization, which threatens liberty by using the criminal law and penalties to attempt to solve every problem in society and compel compliance with regulatory schemes.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Reprinted from The Daily Signal.

What It Really Costs   2 comments

My brother’s wife is a CPA and something of a fiscal conservative. My husband’s sister was a business major who works for a big Internet firm. I got into two separate conversions with them recently about the same topic. They’re approximately 30 years apart in age, which may explain some of the disagreement. The younger one lacks mature perspective and trusts experts more. One was raised all over the world in a different era when Third World countries really were Third World countries and the other was raised in New England, where she resides today, but I don’t think that’s the issue, really.

Are people better off or worse off than our parents?

The CPA says we’re suffering from a failure to know history. The Internet marketer says we’re sliding toward the poor house. Which is true?

Image result for image of 1959 televisionI grew up in a working class home, so I know that for myself, I’m better off financially than my parents were at my age … except they had their mortgage paid off, so maybe I’m living in a dream world. SIL #1 was raised by an engineer. She says she’s done as well or better than her folks did and my brother paid off the mortgage about 10 years ago. SIL #2 was raised by a middle-manager for a huge corporation, but her dad suffered a stroke in her early teens, and although he recovered, he never could work at the same high-pressure job again, so her teens were more working-class income. But she now makes an income twice what her father’s best year was.

There was a curious phenomenon in 2008. Up to that point, if you asked almost anyone (except people in the Rust Belt) whether they were doing better than their parents, you would have heard a loud affirmative. They lived in bigger houses filled with all sorts of gadgets their parents never even dreamed of, they owned better (and more) cars, they had more than one television, they enjoyed better health care, had closets stuffed with clothes, went on vacations to far-flung places their parents never imagined and had retirement accounts in addition to Social Security.

Then the economy collapsed and this narrative started about how the middle-class income was shrinking compared to incomes 30 years ago.

Is that true … and if it is true, why weren’t we aware of it in 2007?

I’m going to submit that it’s only partially true because even if our real money incomes never raise above what our parents made, what our incomes buy us is far more than what our parents’ incomes could buy them.

I ran across this cool chart and thought I’d share some of the findings. It looked at retail price in 1959, 1973 and 2013 and the number of hours we have to work to buy the item we desire. So instead of looking at inflation adjusted incomes, it looked at how much time we invest in purchases a consumer item.

A washing machine cost $210 in 1959. The average wage was $2.09. It took 100.5 hours to purchase a washing machine in 1959. In 1973, average wage was $3.95 and a washing machine was (on average) $285. It took 72.2 hours to purchase a washing machine in 1973. In 2013, that washing machine would cost $450, but the average wage was $19.30, so it took only 23.3 hours to purchase a washing machine in 2013.

A dishwasher cost $190 in 1959 (and few houses had one). The average wage of $2.09 meant that it took 90.9 hours to purchase a dishwasher in 1959. In 1973, a dishwasher cost $310 and the average wage was $3.95. It took 78.5 hours to buy a dishwasher in 1973. In 2013, the dishwasher cost $400 at a wage rate of $19.30). It took 20.7 hours to buy that dishwasher in 2013.

A color TV cost $267 in 1959 (and almost nobody owned one). With an average wage of $2.09, it took 127.8 hours to buy a color TV in 1959.  In 1973, a color TV cost $400. With an average wage of $3.95, it took 101.3 to purchase a color TV in 1973. In 2013, a color TV cost $400 (yeah, it hasn’t gone up). With an average wage of $19.30, it took 20.7 hours to purchase a color TV in 2013.

Image result for image of 2015 televisionAccording to the US Census Bureau’s 2005 figures on what households have, even the “poor” are increasingly able to buy common household appliances. In 1971, the number of houses that had a washing machine was 71.3%. In 2005, it was 84% of total houses. In 1984 (as far as the figures went back) 58.7% of “poor” households had a washing machine. Now it’s 68%.

In 1971, 18.8% of total households had a dishwasher. In 1984, 13.4% of “poor” households had a dishwasher. In 2005, 64% of total households had a dishwasher and 37.7% of “poor” households had a dishwasher.

In 1971, 43.3% of total households had a color TV. In 1984, 70.3% of “poor” households had a television. In 2005, 98.9% of total households had a color TV and 97.4% of “poor” households had a television.

In other words, Americans making less than the federal poverty standard today are much more likely to have these sort of things in their homes that the average 1970s American family considered to be luxuries. It cost people in 2013 far less time to purchase the same items as it cost people in 1959.  It’s what makes it so we can afford smart phones and air conditioning and better medical care … not to mention insurance.

AH, wait! Is it perhaps necessary to admit that a lot of our current financial straits has to do with rapidly increasing medical costs and insurance premiums and let’s remember that 2006 was when the cost of energy went nuts, a crisis that is now relieved to the extent that some states are suffering budgetary crises?

So hit pause for a second and ask yourself — would you want to live your parents’ lifestyle if it meant your inflation-adjusted income was better than theirs?

If you answered “No” to this question, you might want to reconsider whether to believe the doomsayer propaganda that insists that you’re not as well off as your parents were. Maybe it’s not about how much we make, but more about how much what we make will allow us to buy.

Posted December 24, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in economics

Tagged with , ,

The Numbers Are in and Cash Transfers Don’t Work   Leave a comment

Angela Rachidi (American Enterprise Institute)

Found on FEE

Government transfers of cash to individuals and families have received increased attention in recent weeks, possibly because the presidential election revealed a disgruntled working class and left policymakers scrambling to find solutions. Even before the election, scholars across the political spectrum were advocating for unrestricted cash transfers as a way to relieve some economic insecurity for those at the bottom. But a recent study shows, similar to past studies on the same topic, that unrestricted cash transfers reduce employment and have few measurable positive effects.

Treatment decreased the probability that participants work in a given year by 3.3%.

Image result for image of negative effects of basic incomeThe study by David Price and Jae Song studied the long-term (40-year) impacts of the Seattle-Denver Income Maintenance Experiment from the 1970s. Like other income maintenance programs during that time, the experiment provided unrestricted cash transfers to beneficiaries (quite sizeable if no other income was in the household), which provided a basic income no matter what other resources were in the household.

The contribution of this study is that it looked at outcomes for the adults who received the payments, as well as their children, 40 years after the experiment. From the study:

We find new evidence of significant effects on adults, decades after the experiment ended. On average, treatment decreased the probability that participants work in a given year by 3.3 percentage points (4.6% of the mean probability of working for adults in our sample), and decreased average annual earnings by $1,800 (7.4% of mean annual earnings). Treated adults were also 6.3 percentage points (20% of the mean) more likely to apply for disability benefits (either SSDI or SSI), but were not significantly more likely to be awarded benefits, or to have died.

The authors also found no long-term effects, positive or negative, on the children of families who received the cash payments.

Policymakers should consider the long-term impacts of cash assistance.

The experiment only lasted for 3 to 5 years, making it unclear whether a longer guarantee of basic income would have had the same effects. But consistent with past research, it showed that cash transfers without requiring work will lead to reduced employment and other possible negative outcomes.

Image result for image swiss reject universal basic incomeCurrent proposals to provide unrestricted cash transfers to families fail to acknowledge this reality. Proposals to provide assistance not linked to work, such as a basic child allowance (here and here) or basic income may only make things worse without considering the long-term consequences. As Price and Song conclude:

Guaranteeing a minimum income above the poverty line ensures that a family is not in poverty while the guarantee is in place, but it alone may not be a panacea to break the cycle of poverty. Taken together, our results suggest that policymakers should consider the long-term impacts of cash assistance. In [the Seattle-Denver Experiments], assistance does not cause large observable benefits for children, and may lead to unintended consequences for adults.

Source: The Numbers Are in and Cash Transfers Don’t Work

By the way, the Swiss were asked to vote on this earlier this year. Only 23% thought it was a good idea and it was rejected in all cantons. The Swiss are extremely practical and liberty minded and the entire country favors limited government.

Posted December 23, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in economics

Tagged with , , ,

Progressive Thinking Errors   Leave a comment

Have you noticed that Democrats … really progressives in both parties … are freaking out lately? In a way, it’s fun to see. The media was so focused on the alleged extremism of the “conservatives” in the Republican Party that the extremism of the progressive Left in the Democratic Party was mostly ignored. Watching them trash cars and smash windows would be entertaining if it weren’t for the fact that people own those cars and windows. The dramatic impact of Democratic extremism on our economy and culture continue. Now that they’re showing themselves as the emotional adolescents some of us suspected they were, hopefully we’ve stopped living in denial, but I doubt it. Denial is so seductive.

Image result for image of speech codesModern progressivism perplexes me, mainly because of adherents’ intolerance to alternative viewpoints. Consider campus speech codes. When I was a student on campus in a pretty conservative/libertarian state, we used to gather around and debate different positions in the student union. Nobody got really mad (well, the huffy ones usually just walked away in a huff), sometimes we learned something, and occasionally we strengthened our own arguments for the next time. There was an unwritten rule that everybody had a right to an opinion and to state it, but everybody also had a right to disagree and to state their case. This wasn’t just a group of my friends. The entire campus understood that University of Alaska Fairbanks was a good place to test your intellectural, moral and philosophical boundaries.

Today, it appears that my children’s generation has adopted the utopian vision of an offenseless society where politically correct speech codes ensure that hypersensitive young people will never be confronted with angst-inducing dissent. Both of my kids, raised in my home, say they were amazed at the uniformity of their friends’ philosophies until they realized that any of them who disagree with the unitary view simply had been driven into silence. Statistics bear out their observations.

By a margin of 51 to 36 percent, students favor their school having speech codes to regulate speech for students and faculty. 63 percent favor requiring professors to employ “trigger warnings” to alert students to material that might upset them.

According to the same Notable and Quotable piece in the Wall Street Journal, one-third of the students polled could not identify the First Amendment as the part of the Constitution that dealt with free speech. Thirty-five percent said the First Amendment does not protect “hate speech,” while 30 percent of self-identified liberal students say the First Amendment is outdated.

Does that scare you? It scares me.

Silly word games are now the object of intense study at many of our leading colleges and universities. As a parent who pays tuition, you pay for this pseudo-intellectualism. It’s time to remind our coddled children that a great big competitive and often nasty world awaits them. We need to expose the intolerance and stop indulging the idiocy. Time to make freedom cool again!

Now that the election is over and the US electorate has shown that the demographic tide theory of recent elections is not as strong as once supposed, there is no better time to start talking about liberty and principles again. Yeah, your kids need to hear you talk about it. Our son, like our daughter before him, doesn’t always agree with us, but he at least gets to hear that there’s more than one side to the discussion. He also gets to disagree and make his case, because that is a part of freedom. And maybe, some day, when he gets a little older, those discussions will bear fruit. The similar discussions I had with my parents eventually did.

Russians Revealed Truth   2 comments

At this writing, it appears that the Electoral College has settled the matter in favor of the Constitution and Donald Trump will be the president … like it or not.

This entire electoral incident should warn us on just how insane the American elite has become. Presumably, they have access to the same Constitution that I have access to, so why is it that they seem unable to understand this very simple truth?

Image result for image of election interferenceThere has never been a national popular election for United State President. The Constitution provides for the states to elect the President and allows for states to decide what procedures to follow to do that. Theoretically, they could vary the procedures from state to state, but that isn’t the reality. Since 1836, the states have held statewide popular elections for President. Three states allow votes to be counted proportionally. The rest apportion electors according to the winnter of the statewide popular election. Additionally, 30 states require electors to vote with their statewide popular election. The media (and I suspect the public schools since I graduated) has put forth this fantasy of the national popular election, but it is a fantasy. It doesn’t exist. In fact, states should probably just stop giving their vote totals to the media until after the Electoral College meets. This might help with some people’s Electoral Delusional Complex.

On November 8, 2016, the voters in 51 states held popular elections (in accordance with the Constitution) and Donald Trump won 30 of those states. Hillary Clinton lost in a landslide. He may not be the best president we could have gotten. It’s entirely possibly he will not do what needs to be done. I suspect he’s better than Hillary would have been, but I don’t think that’s saying a whole lot. But he won the election and it’s time to move on.

Image result for electoral delusional complexBUT …

 

American elites are working to create a constitutional crisis as I write this, building up an immense head of steam that the Electoral College did not defuse.

Why? Because the Russians allegedly “intervened” in a US election. How did they do that?

They revealed the truth.

Yeah … shocking, right? How dare they!

But … wait … they told the truth and America’s elite overlords are upset about that?

 

Hmmm … maybe that tells us something about the elites that we really ought to pay more attention to.

The leaked emails were true and the truth they revealed ought to be huge news, talked about around every dinner table in America. Instead, the elites are trying to distract us with the revelation that RUSSIANS may have “interfered” with the election.

The inference is that the Russians did more than just reveal the truth at the worst possible time in the campaign for Hillary Clinton. I know people who are absolutely convinced that the Russians hacked the voting machines … even though that would be virtually impossible in 51 separate statewide elections, especially since some states use different systems at the district level … resulting in hundreds of different systems that would all need to be hacked. Yeah … can you say “Conspiracy Theory”?

Image result for electoral delusional complexBut, truthfully, they are mostly upset that the American people learned the truth about Hillary Clinton from her own camp and then voted based on that truth.

 

I didn’t vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. My decision was made months before the emails confirmed what I already knew, that Hillary Clinton is a lying warmonger who hates ordinary American people. But, for half a second in the voting booth, I almost filled in the oval for Donald Trump because I feared Hillary Clinton might win. Why was I more worried about it than I had been since March? I’d read those emails. I suspect a lot of people who read those emails filled in ovals for Donald Trump … because they had seen the truth about Hillary Clinton and they were voting against her and all that she stands for.

Democracy is supposed to be about allowing the people to self-govern through the ballot box. This time around, we rejected a candidate who had revealed herself to be an elitist snob, warmongering liar and enough of us embraced a candidate some of us don’t like. When it was Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012 there was no call to set aside the election results. Why? Because everybody … even the losers … accepted that the US system works and doesn’t need to be “fixed”, but also because most people recognized that Romney’s “49% of the electorate” comment was him opening his mouth to insert his foot by revealing himself to be an elite. So, why is it different now with Hillary?

 

I suspect a lot of Hillary supporters have refused to read the emails. Maybe none of our elites have read them. I did … well, a sizeable chunk of them. They were … damaging. If I’d liked Hillary before, I probably wouldn’t have liked her after reading them. And, I know people who did change their votes after reading them. The emails, because they were truth revealed, had that effect. Yet, the entire elite class, including nearly all major media, doesn’t seem to have read them. Or maybe they didn’t have that effect on them because they already knew that was the prevalent Democratic attitude toward the American people.

So, to my point of view, the Russians did us a favor by revealing the truth. They didn’t tell us their version of the truth. They released elitist emails that revealed the truth about the elites in their own words. So much more damaging than if the Russians had concocted lies.

 

Thos emails are a massive condemnation of American governance, especially in the Obama administration. The voters, now thusly informed, voted in their own better interests to pivot away from DC elites. I still doubt that Trump will “drain the swamp” or “make America great”, but I don’t fault my fellow voters for voting against Hillary. That is how democracy works … like it or not.

The Russians didn’t “interfere” with the election by enlightening the electorate with actual truth. Would we be having this conversation if the New York Times had released the information? I doubt it. We’d be excited to see real journalism back from the dark maze it has been wandering in. Can someone please lower a lantern into that sewer? Really, it would be wonderful to see the return of real journalism.

If you want to know what interference in an election looks like, go back and review what the elites have done to forestall the inaugaration of the people’s choice for President. Remember the riots? Remember the calls for Electoral College electors to disenfranchise the voters of their states and vote for Hillary? Do you hear the continued calls for Congress to step in and overrule the EC?

Yeah, THAT is interference in an election and you don’t have to love Donald Trump to recognize it.

Totalitarianism in Many Flavors   Leave a comment

Way back in college, I was fascinated by totalitarianism. In retrospect, I was probably a budding libertarian even then, so the idea that people would submit to a system that took away all their freedom at the threat of being shot in the head was perplexing to me. That which perplexes me also amazes me.

Image result for image of centralized control of societyThis election season saw that word “totalitarianism” thrown about a lot. According to Kevin Williamson at the National Review, it was the Democrats’ theme for 2016. He had a salient point. John Kerry (who almost won the presidency 12 years ago) told Rolling Stone that he looked forward to seizing Exxon’s assets for the “crime” of questioning global warming. The Democrats had recently voted in the Senate to essentially repeal the 1st Amendment, proposing to imprison people for holding the wrong view on global warming. At the time time, they were seeking to prohibit the showing of a film critical of Hillary Clinton. They had filed felony charges against a Republic governor for vetoing a piece of legislation. They had used the IRS and ATF as weapons against political critics. They had gone to the Supreme Court to argue that they should be empowered to ban books, films, magazines, and newspapers when they desire to do so for political reasons.

Williamson’s article showed that the Democrats are energetic suppressors of free speech. Lovers of freedom and conservatives cannot be indifferent to this — that’s our speech they intended to prohibit first, and it is us that they were attempting to imprison for our political views.

“Americans might want to think a bit about whether they wish to invest an openly totalitarian political party with the power of the presidency.” Kevin Williamson, National Review

I suspect that may have given some wishy-washy “independent” voters pause and they voted against Hillary Clinton because of it. There is no doubt the Democratic Party has taken on a distinctly totalitarian tone, but we can’t absolve the Republicans of the taint either. The Republicans talk of carpet bombing a borderless enemy, rounding up millions people without the right papers and deporting them, religious tests for national entry, closing parts of the Internet, preventing companies from opening overseas plants, ramping up the drug war, and tightening security all around. Just as you can do many variations on a good white sauce, totalitarianism has variations of flavor, but it’s all the same basic recipe.

The key to understanding totalitarianism, whether fascist or socialist in practice, is to understand that it is an ideology that admits no limits on the power and competence of the state. There is no aspect of life that is conceptually beyond the reach of the political sphere.The state is potentially master of the totality of society.

Image result for image of centralized control of societyWhere do we stand today? Each side in the great ideological divide of our time admits some limits of state power, but they don’t agree on what those limits should be. Working together in a great political exchange, each pretending to resist giving what the other wants, they creep slowly toward that total state, keeping us distracted by the swing pendulum that ultimately means nothing.

Whether we like it or not, we saw totalitarianism on display in the Trump-Clinton standoff. There were gigantic differences between these two candidates in their tone, emphasis, cultural signaling, targeted constituencies, and priorities for the use of power, but they totally agreed that the power of the state should always predominate over individual liberty. Neither of them sees a separation between society and the state. There is no sphere of life that they recognize where politics dare not tread. You never heard either on of them talk about individuals and their right to be left alone.

F.A. Hayek (Road to Serfdom) observed the urge to dominate is usually a multi-party phenomenon. Hayek saw that the right and the left in Europe in the 1940s were really two flavors of the same poison. They offered competing versions of a total state. They were united in their mutual opposition to liberalism  and that created the conditions for a full-scale embrace of top-down servitude.

Image result for image of centralized control of societyNeither the right nor the left can institute totalitarianism on their own because they have to appeal to their particular constituencies which are built opposition to the other. The right warns of the egalitarianism and cultural alienation of the left, and the left warns of the police-state tactics and nationalism of the right. Their disagreement concerns the priorities and purposes of state power, not its general expediency.

Hayek notes that the road of the total state is marked by “the increasing similarity between the economic views of the Right and Left and their common opposition to the Liberalism.”  Socialism and fascism fully agreed that the competitive market economy of free enterprise had failed and must be destroyed.

The doctrines which had guided the ruling elements in Germany for the past generation were not opposed to the socialism in Marxism, but to the liberal elements contained in it, its internationalism and its democracy.  Hayek

And as it became increasingly clear that it was just these elements which formed obstacles to the realization of socialism, the socialists of the left approached more and more to those of the right. The anti-capitalist forces of the right and the left unified, radical and conservative socialism fused, driving out everything that was liberal in Germany and ultimately creating the fascists.

Back then, the respective constituencies of the right and left were led to believe they were opposing something dangerous that would otherwise claim victory. In that contentious atmosphere, it was easy to overlook the points of unity within the whole structure.

  • that all production must be regulated by the state
  • the institution of money belongs to the state and must be managed by the state
  • the health and education of the people is primarily a state responsibility
  • the management of the macroeconomic environment is mainly a task that falls to the state
  • an individual’s primary duty and responsibility is to society (through the state)

In previous campaigns Republicans at least made some attempt to promise dramatic cuts in government. They didn’t follow through, but they at least paid lip service to the need. This time we heard vague calls for “reform,” and hopes that the existing systems can be made to work better. The GOP once promised to repeal Obamacare. Now they’re discussing “tweaks”. Budget cuts? Candidates fear being specific. Tax cuts? They fear being called partisans of the rich. Deregulation? That would surely cause chaos.

Hayek identified a number of features of the totalitarian mind.

  1. The totalitarian mindset does not fear the coming of totalitarianism. That was then with those people over there. It’s not now with us here. We can handle it.
  2. It rules out economic liberalism as a solution to economic crisis. No one is willing to say that letting the market work is the best way forward. Letting the “unseen hand” work would lead to chaos.
  3. It venerates the state and its symbols, admires power, and celebrates “leadership” as the answer.
  4. It has enthusiasm for organizing everything; nothing is beyond the power of the rational mind to manage and improve.
  5. It disparages institutions and processes that are organic to the social order, rather than those that are designed, imposed, and supervised from above.
  6. It values expediency over principles; indeed, it avoids any talk of the application of fundamental principles to political life. That’s not practical and would lead to chaos.
  7. There is a disappearance of the liberal intellectual tradition, so that there is no more talk of historical proponents of liberty or great resistance to state power.
  8. In political rhetoric, the distinction between society and state evaporates to the point that the state is assumed to be extension of the will of individuals. “We” are prosecuting a war in the Middle East … forget that “I” didn’t ask for the government of our country to interfere in the internal workings of another country.
  9. There is a penchant for “scientific management” of the social order, so that specialists in management and measurement overtake moral philosophy and liberal arts.
  10. Political forces imagine the creation of a unitary society: we crush terrorism, we stop greed, we create equality, we participate in the creation of greatness. And if you disagree, you’re a force for chaos who must be opposed.

 

It’s not hard to be pessimistic about the future of classical liberalism. We’re surrounded by the signs of totalitarianism on the rise and our light seems so small. Fortunately, not all of life is politics. Thanks to the emergence of a vast and infinitely complex and global information infrastructure of limitless communication and creativity, the world is far too advanced to be truly controlled from the center. But hang on because getting through this mess may be a very bumpy ride.

Posted December 22, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Political Philosophy

Tagged with ,

Deep Point of View   1 comment

Hey, writers. Perhaps you’ve heard that deep point of view is all the rage. Agents and editors want it and readers, supposedly, are begging for it.

Deep point of view is intense. It not only represents the sights, sounds, and actions filtered through a point of view character, but goes deeper into emotions and the character’s unique worldview. The character owns the page and the author becomes nonexistent, which allows the reader to live vicariously through the actions, reactions, and emotions of a character.

Image result for image of deep point of viewIf you’re like me, you don’t instinctively know how to go deep.

The key to deep point of view is understanding the rules, the tricks, and the tips for getting deep and then using deep point of view to empower your story.

Make your tags disappear

While speech tags clarify a speaker, they are blips on the deep point of view radar, reminding the reader he is reading and not living a story. In deep point of view tags are often replaced by action, body language, voice description, and emotion.

Replacing your tags makes the story feel genuine. How the words are said and the actions behind the words act as subtle cues to reveal more about a character, his emotional state of mind and the story.

Consider the more familiar distant point of view. A character is upset about something:

“Let’s not talk about it,” he said.

You really can’t tell much about the character’s state of mind. He could be serious. He could be lying. He could really want to talk, but wants to be convinced. We just can’t tell.

In a deeper version on distant point of view, the character might say:

“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said, shredding the napkin.

 

Shredding the napkin gives a clue that whatever he doesn’t want to talk about is upsetting him. However, that he said isn’t only a blip, reminding the reader he is reading. He said also becomes redundant. Reading rules tell us that if dialog is in the same paragraph as the character’s action, then the action character is also the speaker. You don’t need both.

But we can go even deeper:

“I don’t want to talk it.” He tore a long strip from the edge of the napkin, turned it 90 degrees and tore another strip from the new edge. He did this repeatedly until a pile of paper curlicues rested on the tabletop.

This POV tells a lot more. The character is focusing on something other than the person he’s talking to. He’s creating a mountain between them. Time passes in silent contemplation. It sets a mood and a pace.

Make your thought  and sense words disappear

Everyone tells you to get rid of those filter words, but they rarely say why. Thought and sense words are telling words. They pull bac the curtain of author string-pulling. They also create a distance between character and reader. They are disingenuous to the “real life experience” of deep point of view.

Most of us never think I’m thinking or I’m wondering if I’ll get a raise. If you’re truly in deep point of view, your character won’t either. He will think. He will wonder. He will see, hear, feel, but he won’t add the filter words. He’ll just do it.

In the distant point of view, a character feels the pain shoot through his gut and wonders if he was going to die. The reader remains distant. He hears what the character’s thoughts are but doesn’t feel what the character feels. He doesn’t think what character thinks. He is told about these feelings and thoughts and as a result there is a filter between the reader and character … hence, they’re called filter words.

Deep point of view would put the reader inside the character’s head.

Pain shot through his gut, and he clutched his stomach. This was it. He was going to die.

There’s no thinking or wondering. The reader knows what’s happening and is pulled in deep.

Understand your POV character

This is the best trick at all. The writer knows their character better than anyone else. We know our character’s voice, their favorite phrases, their unique worldview, their body language and their trademark rabbit-chases. Make use of that. Sit down with your character and see if you discover anything new.

How does she carry herself? How does she walk? What chair would she chose? How does she sit? Note her body language. Think about what this is telling you about the ‘who’ of this person.

Is she approachable? Will you dive into your questions or ease into these questions? How does she make you feel?

Ask her the following questions and write down her answers. Try writing the answers in her voice, capturing her words, her phrases, her syntax, her unique world view. Pay attention to her body language as she speaks.

  • Who are you?
  • What do you want more than anything?
  • How far would you go to get it?
  • Why is what you want so important?
  • How do you feel about the people in your life? This could be story time people or past people. Both will reveal a great deal about the ‘who’ of the character.
  • How do you feel about the people in your life?
  • How do you feel about yourself?

Understand your POV character’s worldview

 

A worldview is shaped by experiences and expectations of self, life, and society. In any given situation a person/character brings those aspects to life in facing a new situation. How he will face or describe each situation or place will be colored by his worldview.

Let me give you an example. Several years ago, my husband and I went to dinner with my sister-in-law in Boston. He and I had two distinctly diffrent experiences that night based on our different backgrounds.

I was thoroughly captivated by the city — the colors, the tall buildings, the lights, the crowded sidewalks … it was a thoroughly fun experienced until we neared the MTA station and a group of about seven men were hanging around in the shadows. The man sitting out in the light asked Brad for some change and he reached into his pocket and realized that he didn’t have anything to give him. Suddenly, the dark shadows moved toward us and for a moment, I thought we were going to die.

Brad, having grown up in New York City, actually spent most of the evening with his head on a swivel, concerned about the dark corners and people who had absolutely no sense of personal space. As we approached the MTA, he saw panhandlers … not thugs. And when he realized he didn’t have any money to give them, for a moment, he thought he might have to fight for our lives.

He looked right at the leader of this squad and said “I don’t have any money, but you really want to let us go.” At that moment, I felt the energy of the little plaza turn. The leader of the panhandlers had his power taken away and somehow Brad became the commander because he knew that projecting an image of the willingness to go kamikazi would be enough to scare away a group of panhandlers.

 

My worldview was one from a society of politely armed individuals. Muggings are rare in Alaska because you never know who is concealed carry. We worry more about bears and wolves. My husband exists quite happily in this environment, but once in the big city, he dredged up his more jaded, paranoid persona and viewed many of the exact same things completely differently than I did.

Similarly, each character comes to a page with a particular worldview and by knowing that worldview you can manipulate the reader’s emotions and reading experience.

Keep in mind there are many more ways to explore deep point of view and there are many reasons to break the rules. That’s the great thing about writing. There isn’t just one way to tell a story. Explore the tips and tricks, discover more and then use what works for you and your story.

 

Posted December 21, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in writing wednesday

Tagged with , ,

The Libertarian Ideal

Voice, Exit and Post-Libertarianism

CRAIN'S COMMENTS

Social trends, economics, health and other depressing topics!

My Corner

Showcasing My Writing and Me

The Return of the Modern Philosopher

Deep Thoughts from the Shallow End of the Pool

WordDreams...

Jacqui Murray's

Steven Smith

The website of an aspiring author

thebibliophagist

a voracious reader. | a book blogger.

cupidcupid999

adventure, art, nature, travel, photography, wildlife - animals, and funny stuff

Republic-MainStreet

The Peaceful Revolution Liberate Main Street

%d bloggers like this: