Love and Hate

Love and hate are both four-letter words.  Sometimes they have other similarities.  Love can turn into hate and hate can return to love.  How can this be?

Well, both of them are extreme emotions that many times spring from relationships.  The most basic explanation is that love occurs when the relationship is good and hate develops when the relationship sours.  So are we talking about the same emotion, distinguished by whether things are going well or not?

It’s not quite that simple.  Some people love and hate from afar.  A stalker may be initially attracted to a beautiful lady, thinking of his feelings as love for her.  But the stalker may eventually realize that he can never have her, so his feelings turn to hate.  The poor lady may never even know anything about this guy until he appears out of the dark and kills her.

Some people hate others based on race, creed, or religion.  If you are poor, you can hate the rich without knowing them.  Thus, these forms of hate are not based on personal relationships that have gone bad.  Many times, hate is a way for the oppressed to compensate for their positions in life.  Hate also can become a super-glue for political parties, gangs, and peer groups.  What better way to cement individuals together than by hating another group?  Hitler understood this very well.

Love and hate, although very powerful initially, typically are very temporal emotions, because extreme emotions can burn out fairly quickly.  They can disappear as quickly as they appear.  But there are exceptions to this.  The hate between Arabs and Jews has been going on for hundreds of years.  This is not going away because the Bible makes the Jewish people the chosen ones and the Koran does not.  The hate leads to terrorist acts that beget more violence.  It has become a “never-ending story” of hate.

However, these problems can be resolved over time when reasonable leaders are in charge of Arab countries and Israel.  An example of this was Northern Ireland and England.  The terrorist killings had gone on for decades without any end in sight until the leadership of those countries recognized how the acts of terrorism were tearing the economy of the two countries apart.  Reasonable leaders found an economic compromise that has held the peace for many years.

Does that mean that the leadership in the Middle East is unreasonable?  Well of course it does.  But which comes first:  reasonable leadership or stopping the terrorist attacks?  The leaders say that they must respond to the terrorist attacks, and since the terrorists are not reasonable, they cannot be reasonable.

There is a problem with extremist thinking.  It is important for moderates to exert more control in the world.  Generally, moderates do not choose to get involved with extremists.  They patiently wait for the extreme positions to dissipate.  But moderates must take a stand against terrorists and extremists before they polarize the world.  The thing that makes moderates apathetic is that they believe that since terrorists and extremists are in the minority, they can never take over the world.  Hitler is the ultimate example of why this is the wrong way to think.  Many extremist minorities have taken over countries throughout history.  Stalin just killed millions of people who didn’t do what he demanded.

There are many countries in the world who do not want terrorism to expand into their areas, so they should be willing to form a worldwide coalition to eradicate terrorists and extremists throughout the world.  The terrorists and extremists cannot stand up to a worldwide force that joins hands to crush them.

Perhaps we would be better off by not emphasizing extreme emotions like love and hate and instead by becoming a more thoughtful, moderate world.

Politicians Are More Dangerous than Terrorists

It is a very sad comment that today’s politicians are more dangerous than terrorists.  Politicians are much more likely to destroy the American system and our way of life than any terrorist organization.

One of my favorite jokes around springtime tells the rest of the story.  Towards the end of March, I would state that it was time to clean out the house… but don’t forget to also clean out the Senate.

So both Democrats and Republicans are guilty.  They may have good intentions early in their careers, but they get sucked into the corrupt system within a few months of arrival in Washington.  When I worked at the Pentagon and the Navy Yard as a fraud attorney, I had occasion to work with NCIS, the Department of Justice, and the FBI.

I was constantly bringing up good fraud cases against Senior Executive Service civilians and high ranking officers of the military, but these cases never went anywhere.  Why?  Because the culture in Washington was corrupt from middle management up to the top.  Everybody wanted to look the other way when federal managers did something unethical.  The only cases I successfully prosecuted were against lower managers and regular employees.  There is a double standard in Washington.

And this is even worse with politicians.  I asked an FBI agent why we never prosecuted Congressmen who were taking bribes every day.  He told me that it was difficult proving that the amounts given were not campaign contributions.  He also told me that there was a wicked culture in DC that was entrenched.  Anybody attempting to change that would lose their jobs or disappear.

It was difficult for me to watch all the politicians… and let me repeat… ALL the politicians accept compensation from special interest groups.  The real compensation for politicians is not their salaries, but it is the tremendous amount of money they receive from organizations who bribe them to do their bidding.

Several decades ago, Congressmen were only dangerous to our country because they did not represent Americans, but only their self interests.  However, today there is a new breed of politician who is even more dangerous.  These new politicians are interested in creating a world order that will be totalitarian in nature.  But don’t think for a second that it will be beneficial to you.  It will benefit these new leaders because they will rule the world.  They can then take anything they want and leave the rest of us in the cold or dead, which is very typical of all totalitarian leaders throughout history.

You can see the political posturing in the news, but please try to think what a politician’s real motivation is.  For example, when President Obama promised executive action that would give nearly five million illegal immigrants temporary work permits and amnesty, this really is designed to add more voters for a Democratic president who will continue pushing for a new world order.  The White House was spinning that Obama’s unilateral action was not “amnesty” and that it would “ensure that everyone plays by the same rules.”

Republicans are pushing for comprehensive amnesty legislation in order to avoid losing the next presidential election because of these potential voters.  Some of these five million immigrants may find ways to vote at the polls, but the real increase in voters who will support the Democrats are the families and friends of these immigrants.  Also, new Democratic supporters may rise exponentially in the next two years as Americans may become frustrated by the “gridlock” that could be caused by the actions of both parties.  The Republicans will take the greatest part of the blame.

Executive Agreements and Executive Orders have been used for decades and the Supreme Court has never ruled any of them unconstitutional.  The best option for Congress is to exercise its control of the power of the purse.  However, we have never had the executive branch so intent on using its agreements and orders for political purposes to create a new world order or worldwide totalitarian regime much like in Huxley’s and Orwell’s books.

Because of the nature of the political beast that exists in DC, it is not likely that America will avoid being drawn into the giant totalitarian whirlpool that awaits it.  I predict that millions of people will be sent to concentration camps and murdered until only weak-minded citizens remain behind to be enslaved by the new world order.

It is interesting to note that history has not been kind to the original leaders like Lenin, who might have had a genuine interest in helping the people.  The only survivors will be those who are completely evil and those who are completely dominated and offer no resistance.  Where will you fit in this new scheme of things?

 

 

Individual Freedom or Society’s Common Good?

Although we have had third parties in America, we typically have two major political parties, representing opposing sides, usually the conservative and liberal side to issues.  As a general rule, we could say that today’s Republicans champion individual liberty and the Democrats protect society from greedy capitalists whose selfish ambitions take priority over what is best for our country.

Even though this is a contemporary political debate, the origin of this dichotomy dates back to Plato who, hating Athenian democracy, destroyed the individual to create a perfect state.  On the other hand, many early Greek philosophers were Sophists like Gorgias, Hippias, Protagoras, and Prodicus, who looked inward for answers rather than out upon the materialistic world.  Many of these early philosophers believed that individuals were more important than man-made governments and laws.

So since these issues have been around for about two-and-a-half thousand years, surely one side has proven itself through experience and usage.  But that is not the case.  And you might think that Americans clearly land on the side of individual freedom over social restraints, but that is not true either.  In fact, Americans talk out of both sides of their mouths.  They indicate that they believe in a free market and the importance of individual rights, but they also want to promote the welfare of society as a whole.

It seems this dichotomy is more complex when you actually attempt to apply it to a society.  For example when Hurricane Katrina battered New Orleans in 2005, there were some businessmen who overcharged for products and services since the residents had nowhere else to go.  Was this a case of a willing buyer paying a fair price based on the market or was it a buyer under duress who was being fleeced by a greedy seller?  In other words, should the seller be able to charge whatever the market bears or should there be a law that prevents a seller from taking advantage of somebody in distress?

Quite frankly, it would be a mistake to argue that the rights of an individual are more important than the rights of society or vice versa.  A more pragmatic approach utilizes both doctrines as needed based on the circumstances at hand.  Such a blended government will permit the flexibility to adapt to the needs of society.  For example after Katrina, the government was needed to respond quickly and efficiently to the needs of the people in New Orleans.  Allowing businesses to take advantage of people in dire conditions would have gone against the grain of our notions of right and wrong.  But after getting past the emergency conditions, then the free market would return.

So which is better:  individual freedom or society’s common good?  My answer is:  it depends.  But don’t eliminate either one of them from your box of political tools.  

Life Cycle

1.    1. Immature Individual Selfishness

2.    2. Mature Individual/Family Selfishness

3.    3. Doubting of Descartes

4.    4. Social Acceptance

5.     5. Hegelian Religion

6.     6. Kierkegaard’s Beyond Faith

7.     7. Individual Virtue

 

There are seven basic steps that are available to take during our life cycle.  They are not mandatory for any particular development in life, but it is possible that a person could progress through all seven steps and reach a pinnacle that is closest to God, preparing for an afterlife.  Skipping some of these steps would not hinder your reaching the top of that mountain, step seven, but it might eliminate some of the experiences which would enlighten you, making you better prepared and focused for the final tests.

I call these seven steps a life cycle because if you fail the final tests, you might have to go back through the cycle again, assuming we are in a closed universe where everything is recycled.  What tests am I talking about?  The Bible is very clear about judgments that will occur.  For every choice made during life, there are consequences awaiting somewhere in the future:  in your life and/or afterlife.  There may be tests administered by God in the afterlife, as well.  The above Life Cycle is important to prepare you for making better choices during life and the afterlife.  By reaching step seven, you should be ready for whatever comes your way.  You should be prepared.

 

Step One.  Immature Individual Selfishness.

This is when an individual focuses on him or herself, typically in childhood, and demands everything that they want, no matter what the consequences to others.  As children mature, they may still think of themselves as the most important person in the world.  These spoiled children may turn into spoiled adults, but generally the experiences of the world make them change at some point and recognize the needs of others are also important.

 

Step Two.  Mature Individual/Family Selfishness.

This stage can evolve from the first step into a selfish desire to satisfy adult individual or family needs at the expense of others.  The greedy corporate executives and politicians make as much money as they can without feeling guilty about how it was done and who it hurt.  They may rationalize that they are doing this for their family, but this is the same mentality as you find in the Mafia families.

 

Step Three.  Doubting of Descartes.

This phase can occur in high school, college, or anytime you start thinking about things besides yourself.  You may start to doubt that you were on the right path when you were satisfying your every need without a conscience.  The doubting can actually come from the rising of the conscience from deep within you. 

Rene Descartes, a French philosopher and mathematician referred to as The Father of Modern Philosophy, started with a basic principal as the foundation for philosophy:  “I think, therefore I am.”  In other words, Descartes believed that his thoughts were the only thing that he knew existed. 

His senses could easily deceive him, so he did not rely on them.  He knew that he was thinking because even if he doubted that he was thinking, that would prove that he was, indeed, thinking.  Since experiences from the senses would not serve him, he relied on his thoughts and doubted everything else until he could prove it.  He was also Father of Subjective Thinking, emphasizing that things were known through deduction, a priori.

God is known by inference as our Creator since there is no physical evidence of His existence.  God is known a priori, not a posteriori.
Descartes is the philosopher who created this manner of thinking.

 

Step Four.  Social Acceptance.

Social acceptance is important to a great majority of people.  Being accepted by your peers, your family, your neighbors, your community members, your friends, etc. is extremely important.  Very few people choose to live alone and cut themselves off from everybody.  If you want to be accepted in society, you typically must conform to the prevailing standards and laws of the land.  Misfits of society are found on Post Office walls in wanted posters.  These individuals decided not to conform for whatever reason.  Sometimes it was because they were still in either stages one or two, attempting to obtain money without worrying about consequences to others.

 

Step Five.  Hegelian Religion.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, a German philosopher, who believed that every idea had to be related to other ideas or those ideas were meaningless.  We can think of something only by relating it to the qualities of something else.  Hegel’s writings were very comprehensive and difficult to understand.  But he believed that everything he thought led to the opposite thought.  The knowledge of opposites unifies them into one.  Thesis, antithesis, and synthesis lead to reality.  This comes very close to Aristotle’s “golden mean.”  For example, the opposite of individualism might be considered conforming for the common good.  A synthesis of these two might be found in politics that unifies the stimulation from individuals with a government like democracy that accepts and includes individualism in its governance. 

Hegel’s religion straddles the two extremes of good and evil, as well.  The opposites that we experience through our senses must be synthesized for religion to be successful.  In other words, we must have a faith that transcends the daily battle between two moral extremes, generally dictated by political and religious leaders.  This faith leads to a peaceful and moderate approach.  The Hegelian religion recognizes God as the system of relationships in which all things have their being and significance.  The design of God’s world is very real when your reasoning is based on a rational and reasonable faith.

 

Step Six.  Kierkegaard’s Beyond Faith.

Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher known as the Father of Existentialism, was one of the few Christian existentialists.  Kierkegaard departed from Hegelian faith to go beyond that faith.  His reasoning was radical and departed from a moderate course.  He did not require that we prove that God exists, since that was impossible.  Instead, he focused on preparing for God through faith on steroids.  Kierkegaard wanted Christians to swim in deep waters without having one foot touching the bottom.  Forget the senses.  His faith had to go beyond Hegel’s reasonable faith. 

He started by emphasizing the individual’s responsibility and integrity.  Kierkegaard’s individual was the singular entity that would come face-to-face, one-on-one with God.  There would be no family, friends, or ministers who would intercede and support that entity.  You were on your own.  It would be entirely between you and God.  Again, forget your senses.  They would be irrelevant.  Kierkegaard went beyond the “I” of Descartes and reached into the depths of choices and consequences.  He also passed over social acceptance.  In order for you to analyze yourself as this individual, you must avoid the distractions around you and isolate yourself from the crowd.  Only when you are alone, away from societal influences, can you examine your faith. 

In your self-examination, you must ask if you are ready for the leap of faith, which goes beyond faith.  If God asked you to sacrifice your son to Him like He did with Abraham, could you do it?  This is a leap that you probably had not considered since it involves committing a crime.  Imagine explaining to the police that you murdered your son because God told you to do it.  Abraham made that leap of faith, believing that God would resurrect his son, Isaac, in some manner even if he killed him.  Would you make that leap?  That’s the kind of faith that Kierkegaard believed in, distancing himself from Hegel.

 

Step Seven.  Individual Virtue.

Individual virtue is the ultimate step toward reaching God.  The Bible references both faith and works as being important in God’s judgments.  Even though Kierkegaard is concerned about choices and consequences, he does not show the nexus of works to God’s judgments.  Individual virtue is the combination of Kierkegaard’s ultimate faith with your lifestyle and actions modeled as closely to Jesus as possible.  All your works, all your thoughts, everything that is part and parcel of you must be improved upon each day.  If you move half-way closer to being like Jesus every day, you will never be like Jesus, but you will improve every day and get closer to that goal.  You, in effect, will be attempting to conform to Jesus.  Conformity is a virtue with God at this stage. 

Individual virtue will be guided by your conscience and the Holy Spirit.  As Jesus taught in the Beatitudes, even your thoughts must be cleansed.  When you stand before God, just like Kierkegaard envisioned as being “one-on-one,” your thoughts must be pure.  God will be within you, so your thoughts will also be His.  If you have hopes of passing His test, your thoughts must conform to His. 

If you are lucky, you will pass His tests and God may allow you to exercise your creativity and individualism on a small scale in His universe, where creation can only occur.  However, a small scale in God’s eternal universe would be unimaginable in ours.  Many scientists believe our universe is closed, making time (past, present, and future) an infinite cycle.  The Creator’s universe, where time does not exist, is outside the boundaries of our universe.  Even though we can imagine infinity, we cannot comprehend God’s eternity.  We have nothing to compare it to, so we will have to prepare for it, not knowing exactly what it is.  But we can infer that God will allow us to try our hand at individual creativity if we are fortunate enough to be accepted into His kingdom.         

This life cycle is like sound or ocean waves, alternating back and forth, creating a ripple effect.  The cycles run between: (1) independence and conformity and (2) reasonable and radical, which can be repeated as we attempt to understand why we exist.  We may start out being a selfish, independent individual wanting his or her own way, but then, as we get older, justifying this selfishness as being done for your family.   When we start to question everything, we trigger cycles.  We may find wisdom in conforming to society, and then return to an earlier cycle when greed and ambition take control of your life.  You may see the value in having a reasonable faith in God, conforming to a group’s beliefs; while some embrace an extreme radical faith, which rejects church groups and leaders in favor of an individualistic approach to religion.  In the final cycle, you must conform to God’s way, perhaps allowing us to return to creative independence in God’s universe. 

Believe me; you will have no chance in God’s world if you do not rely on God.  I think, therefore God exists and He is within me.  If my thoughts are distilled, we will be unified as one, and He will lead my spirit to His kingdom. 

 

      

Is Our Dollar Being Stretched Thin?

On October 25, 2013, Forbes examined the strength of the American dollar, which currently is the primary world reserve currency.  It included the following chart, showing the dollar in green with about 60% of the reserves with the euro in red running a distant second at about 20% and the British pound sterling in blue coming in third with about 3% and the Japanese yen in purple not far behind.  The Chinese yuan is listed as “other” right now, but is becoming more important.

Just a few decades ago, the British pound sterling was the primary world currency and held that honor for about 200 years before it had a runaway deficit budget with the Labour party pushing high budget spending.  Unfortunately, this sounds a lot like what is going on the United States today.  

China is one of the countries looking for our dollar to be replaced as the world reserve currency. Liu Chang with China’s official news agency wrote: “. . . it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world.”

America’s budget and debt ceiling crises and the 2011 credit rating downgrade have created doubts about the strength of the dollar.  The quantitative easing of printing more dollars to pay our debts is disconcerting to the international community.  The current political environment is not conducive to making substantial cuts in our budget or to reducing our debt.  Let’s just “kick the can down the road” until it drops over the cliff.  The cliff is inevitable.  It’s just a matter of when we will run out of road.

What is a reserve currency?  The reserve currency consists of primary contributing monetary systems that are designed to provide stability for markets and currency throughout the world.  For example if a country were in financial difficulty, international speculators could sell their holdings of that country’s currency, thus depressing the value of that currency.  The country could allow the exchange rate for the currency to fall, but this would not be its first choice because it would make imports more expensive for that country.  However if that country had stable foreign currency reserves, speculators would not be interested.  In 1997-1998, a financial disaster was avoided since many countries had reserves of foreign currencies.  Most countries today protect themselves with extensive foreign exchange reserves.

The American dollar is still on top, but this may be changing much like a mud slide as water saturates the foundation of the soil until the weight carries the earth downhill.  One of the strengths of the dollar was “liquidity” in being able to be sold quickly.  As America’s financial structure shows weaknesses, the liquidity is more in question.  Also, the dollar is starting to lose its value because of the qualitative easing.  Printing more money is bound to devalue the existing dollars.  Other countries may start to obtain their reserves in other assets.  There are already agreements between China and South Korea to utilize their own currencies.  There even could be some ideological and political reasons why countries like Russia would want to convert to a different currency standard.

China’s renminbi could make significant strides toward obtaining a higher percentage of the world reserves, due partly to China’s huge economy.  The extensive foreign exchange controls by the government may make this currency look more dependable and stable than America’s dollar mismanaged by a “do nothing” Congress.

Countries have been increasing their total reserves at a strong pace. In the past decade, world reserves have quadrupled. With that growth rate, countries could greatly increase non-dollar reserves without having to sell any greenbacks.

About 30% of America’s debt is owned by foreign countries included in their currency reserves.  Our interest rates remain low because other countries are purchasing treasury bonds.  However, we are noting financial cracks that are exposing inflationary pressures within our country.  Of course, the way to offset the inflation is to increase interest rates.  Our countries may also increase prices for their imports.  Since our imports far exceed our exports, we would get hammered with this inflationary trend with an even larger trade deficit.  The current political response of printing more money will simply exacerbate the inflationary problem by increasing our money supply.  The dollar will be in the same position that the British pound was in years ago.  But who will bail us out? 

There are many distractions that have nothing to do with this issue.  For example, oil being priced in dollars is irrelevant because you can purchase oil in any currency.  Traders accept any currency at the appropriate exchange rate or you can have your bank covert to any currency.

It is very important that we focus on the real issues and avoid the distractions thrown up by politicians and the media, who do not have your best interests at heart.  There probably is a tipping point on the printing of money and running up a deficit, where we will have gone too far with no way to survive the impending disaster.  But it is incumbent on Americans to push their Congressmen to do the right thing by protecting the stability of our dollar by stopping the quantitative easing and by living within our budget.  If your Congressman cannot do this, then do not vote for them.

Sub-objective Cycle

Philosophers and religious leaders have argued over the millennia whether we understand ideas, concepts, and religions either subjectively or objectively.  Some philosophers called it a priori, knowing something instinctively or subjectively, or a posteriori, knowing something through experiences or objectively.

Interestingly enough, few have examined the possibility that both have merit and can be used in a continuing cycle I call, “Sub-objective Cycle.”  It is an “east meets west” unification of eastern and western thought. 

Eastern religions emphasize subjectivism, while western religions focus on objectivism.  Zen Buddhists might say that, “All statements are absurd, so there are no moral objective principles.”  And some Christians might respond that, “The Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, and the Beatitudes of Jesus are examples of objective moral principles.” 

So what happens when we combine the two methods of thinking?  If we start with subjective principles, we could say that the Holy Spirit was working within us to bolster our conscience.  Then you can complete the circle by utilizing the objective approach to show that there are morals that are universally an essential part of our human fabric like the Ten Commandments.

But you do not stop at that point because it is a continuing cycle.  Any objective laws or moral codes must be given the subjective test to determine if it runs counter to our conscience.  Just because society or a religion has established a law does not mean that it is perfect.  And, by the same token, just because you think that something is morally wrong, does not mean that you are perfect in what you believe.  Subjective and objective thinking must be counterweights and balance or moderate each other.  Running ideas through this dual cycle constantly is the best way to improve ideas.  I call it Sub-objective Cycles.

In law, there are subjective and objective tests to determine consequences.  In criminal law, the prosecutor has to prove in many cases that the accused intended to commit the crime.  This must pass a subjective test.  But in civil law, the plaintiff’s attorney has to prove negligence of the defendant by showing that a reasonably prudent person, under the same or similar circumstances, would or would not have taken that action.  This is an objective test.

As a judge advocate in the Air Force, I taught the Law of Armed Conflict to airmen entering the war in Iraq.  When leaders make a decision to bomb a school, being used as a military headquarters, which test do they use?  The political leaders typically utilize the objective test to determine how the average person on the street will view the bombing, while the military leaders employ a subjective test to determine in their minds if they will accomplish the mission.  As you can imagine, the results of these two tests can come up with opposing decisions.

What happens when you utilize both tests?  In the case of the school targeting issue, the politicians decided not to bomb the building and the military wanted to bomb the headquarters.  If you first examined this problem from the subjective standpoint, you would see the military value in bombing the headquarters; but the objective test shows that the bombing of a school would land you on the front page of newspapers throughout the world, especially if you killed innocent school children. 

So, run it through the cycle again.  We reexamine the problem subjectively and our conscience allows us to bomb the school after school hours because we can destroy the headquarters without killing any children.  We would limit our collateral damage and still accomplish the mission.  Then we reexamine the problem objectively and discover that a reasonable person would understand and appreciate this approach.  By running this problem through the cycle, you can arrive at an improved solution.  Typically, the two sides argue their cases and do not give an inch.  Not only is there nothing wrong with using both subjective and objective tests together, but it promises a better result.      

Business in My Backyard (BIMBY)

Businesses in America have gotten big and bureaucratic just like the federal government.  In fact, there not only are many similarities between these two, but there are also alliances between them that enable each other to get even bigger.  They feed off each other, creating a monster that is destroying the capitalistic system by consuming the middle class and small businesses.

We must return to the Progressive policies of the early 20th century that can eliminate the corruption of big government and big business.  This can be accomplished with a focus on Business in My Backyard (BIMBY).  Local businesses will be more responsive to providing good customer service in order to get repeat business, while large corporations only look at the bottom line.  The big businesses are not as interested in the needs of local citizens since it is examining the profit line across America.

Back at the turn of the 20th century, businesses were out of control as the greed of industrial captains went unchecked and monopolies drove out the competition.  It wasn’t until Progressive politicians came onto the scene that these corporations, like Standard Oil, were broken up into smaller companies.

Competition, not government regulation, is the key to controlling corporate greed and control.  This competition can occur not only from other companies, but also from other commodities.  For example, oil prices can be moderated through competition by other energy sources, including batteries, oil shale, natural gas, wind, and solar. 

When Walmart spread throughout America, it destroyed many mom & pop stores in small towns.  Competition can be resurrected with favorable treatment provided to small businesses by government.  Tax incentives and lower costs can revive this market.  Local governments should work closely with local businesses to make them stronger and more robust in communities.  Both local government and businesses will be more responsive to their communities and their development. 

Large government and businesses are not only extreme in their sizes, but they also become extreme in their direction and focus.  These extremes carve America into the “have’s” and the “have not’s.”  The middle class disappears as the extremes polarize the country into a small class of wealthy government employees and business tycoons and a huge class of poor people.  This is not what America is about.  In fact, there is no America without the middle class.

The two extremes are:  (1) over regulation by big government and (2) unbridled greed and control by big businesses.  Either of these extremes can destroy the middle class and our American way of life.  We can avoid these two extremes through Politics in My Backyard (PIMBY) and Business in My Backyard (BIMBY). 

PIMBY focuses on local politicians who, as a general rule, are more interested in supporting the community where they live.  Even if they selfishly spend money on themselves, they typically will be improving their neighborhoods.  PIMBY will also reduce spending of taxpayer dollars by eliminating the excesses and duplicated efforts of state and federal governments.  

BIMBY, on the other hand, is local businesses leading the charge to not only keep prices down through competition, but also to do the right thing for their communities.  Local businesses, just like local politicians, will have a vested interest in supporting the communities because a robust community will provide more business and will buy more commodities.  Large businesses do not want competition and keep their prices lower by buying overseas, thus further destroying our middle class.

Only by thinking differently and employing both PIMBY and BIMBY can America remain strong, allowing the middle class to survive.  A synergy develops when these two are working together.  Local politicians and businesses should form coalitions throughout America that reduce the size of non-local government and businesses.

Americans should vote out all the incumbents in Congress and find representatives who will give taxpayer dollars to the local governments, substituting them for the federal and state governments.     

  

Politics in My Backyard (PIMBY)

I have a theory that many local politicians have a vested interest in making life better in their neighborhoods.  I call it Politics in My Backyard (PIMBY).  This, of course, is not always true, but PIMBY is more likely to be found in local over either state or federal governments.

Generally, federal and state politicians get bogged down in self-serving, partisan voting.  This has caused the dysfunctional gridlock in DC.  I don’t see that much gridlock in city government, perhaps because many cities have managerial mayors and city managers, who treat city government more like running a business.

I suspect that even commissioners are less interested in partisan voting, but are more interested in what is best for themselves and hopefully the city.  But even if they vote for what is best for themselves, part of that is what is best for their backyard and community.  Some of them certainly must think about what is best for their children and grandchildren.

An undercurrent in all this is the nexus between city government and businesses and the local economy.  I believe this is different from the federal and state government where politicians work closely with special interest groups to obtain contributions to their campaigns.  Even though city politicians are enticed by businessmen and local power brokers to vote for specific actions, I see this as generally being beneficial to the community.  At the national and state levels, the special interest groups generally are not doing things that are especially helpful to citizens in local communities; while the actions by the city government, even if done for the personal gain of politicians, many times have a local benefit of some kind.

Congressmen have attempted to do things for their states in the past.  The term “pork barrel politics” usually refers to the type of spending which is intended to benefit supporters of a politician in return for their political support, either in the form of campaign contributions or votes.  “Pork” is a derogatory term since the expenditures generally are more focused on a special interest group within the state, rather than on the citizens of that state.

We need to think differently in order to turn our country around before it goes over the cliff, joining the other civilizations that have fallen.  Because of PIMBY, it makes sense to downsize the federal and state governments, providing more taxes and revenue to the local governments.  The local governments are closer to the issues that need attention and that actually will benefit the public.  Substituting the  local government for federal and state governments will avoid duplication of expenses at the higher levels and will allow the city government to focus on local issues, which they do better than anybody else.

Trust Me

Trust Me was a television series that began airing on TNT on January 26, 2009, which was not renewed for the second season.  “Trust me,” is a famous one-liner used by many individuals and groups, but my favorite is:  “Trust me, I’m with the federal government, and I’m here to help you.”  Americans have not renewed their trust in their government just like the producers of the show.

Over the last few decades, trust of the federal government and politicians has deteriorated to a very low point.  I doubt if “trust me” is very effective anymore.  Some people even worry about anybody who says, “trust me,” since it may be evidence that if there were no reason to distrust them, they wouldn’t have said it.

The sequester, which leads to automatic budget cuts, was a failure by both Congress and the White House, much of which occurred because they don’t trust each other either.  Trust is lacking pretty much across the board.  More than half the federal workforce could be furloughed over the next six months, according to Federal Times.  The strategies to handle the furloughs vary from agency to agency.  The Department of Defense plans to furlough primarily civilians, while other agencies are targeting furloughs to retain critical activities and offices.  This probably could have been avoided if the legislature trusted the executive branch and vice versa.  And the automatic requirements in the sequester might have been modified if the drafters trusted the government to monitor itself.

The sequester will apply cuts across the board:  about 8% for defense and about 5% for other programs.  This is expected to cut $85 billion from the federal budget, but even though it is a fraction of our debt and the entire budget, it is a start in the right direction.  It is past time to turn down the spigot, running up about a trillion more in debt each year.  Even if the forced cuts are painful, they have to be made.  Perhaps, trust can return within and outside our government if we start reducing the annual increase to our federal deficit.  If we turn the corner away from excessive spending, the taxpayers may be more receptive to increasing taxes.  The sequester may be a start to bringing trust back into the federal government.

Only time will tell whether “trust me, I’m with the federal government” is accepted by American citizens like it was decades ago.  The government culture has to change along with decreased spending.  Federal employees must consider taxpayers as their customers and start focusing on providing good customer service.

Totalitarianism is the End Game

The older generation typically is unhappy with subsequent generations, labeling each one in succession as being more liberal than the last. When Elvis Presley came onto the music scene, the older generation thought that the younger generation had “gone to the dogs.” Of course, Elvis is an angel when compared with heavy metal musicians and today’s rappers. So should we dismiss the older generations as all being out of touch with the current reality? Or should we analyze this as an evolutionary process, where each follow-on generation has to go further to the left in order to shock the latest older generation?

As most civilizations develop, like democracy in America, it starts with Founding Fathers who are wrapped in a very radical cloth. These early Americans were willing to die for freedom from England, and branded this new country with a Bill of Rights that guaranteed these newfound freedoms. These revolutionary leaders were on the cutting edge of new-age thinking, and they went way outside the box to form a republican form of government.

As time marched on, conservatives took control of government, corporations, and the culture. Everything ran like clockwork with work and family life becoming a consistent daily activity. Any radical tendencies were suppressed by peer or societal pressures.

But as each day became like “Groundhog Day” with a certain degree of monotony, the younger generations started to rebel against the old guards. At this point, each generation became increasingly bold in an effort to distance itself from the prior generations. This was indeed an evolutionary process headed down the road to a more liberal destination. We can certainly recognize this, looking back over the last six decades. The traditional standards of politics, religions, movies, music, and family-lives have all been modified substantially.

So where does this trend toward liberalism end? Well, unfortunately, it ends with the death of that system. In our case, the democratic experiment will implode as liberalism is pushed to its socialistic extremes where you don’t have to work, you don’t have to study, and you don’t have to do anything in order to be entitled to live in America. Everything will be free… except suddenly your freedom will be gone. All your freedoms will evaporate into thin air, replaced by a repressive slavery imposed by a totalitarian government. And then you, now a slave, will have to do whatever the government tells you to avoid being sent to a death camp.

But it is truly an evolutionary process from a radical concept of freedom to a conservative style of living to a progressively liberal lifestyle and finally to slavery under a totalitarian rule. Even if you know it is coming, you probably cannot stop it from happening. But if we were smarter, we definitely could slow it down. But unfortunately, that is not the case.