Thoughts on Memorial Day

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Memorial Day, a national holiday in the United States was originally known as Decoration Day and set aside to commemorate the Union and Confederate deaths from the U.S. Civil War. It evolved through the 20th century as a day to commemorate all of the War Dead of the United States.

It is not a day to thank veterans. Continue reading

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Quote

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“We must have no carelessness in our dealings with public property or the expenditure of public money. Such a condition is characteristic of undeveloped people, or of a decadent generation”–Coolidge

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I am “For The Troops!”

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I was a career solider for the empire.  I started this career before I learned.  If I hadn’t been a state soldier, I may have never learned.  I fear that I would have been one of those “flag-waving” chickenhawks who think that everything the U.S. Empire does is for our freedom (ha!) and for peace.  Ironic how the loudest voices for violence are those walled up in the fortress.

Gassing up a death machine

Gassing up a death machine

Further, my status as a retired soldier rebuts the idiotic claim that you can’t fight for peace “if you’ve never served.”  Think of that, just for a moment.  Somebody [else] who discovers that war is nothing but organized mindless death before they ever even consider entering military service, thus they never become a trained killer for the State.  Somebody who puts their action with their beliefs gets some knucklehead who tells them, “it’s a good thing there are those wiling to fight for your right to be a hippie/commie/coward” or just “you’ve never served.”  …and yet, many lend credibility to those who have “served” (the State).  It’s like saying how can you know rape [or insert any sin here] is wrong unless you’ve tried it.  All the while, countless cowards sit in the fortress (see above) beating the war drums, calling for more cruelty.

While having committed a sin definitely is not a requirement to speak against it, those with a conscience that have recognized their wrongdoing do have a lesson to teach others.  It is my hope that my experience can do this.  As a teenager, I felt compelled to serve a higher calling.  I thought the U.S. Air Force would allow me to serve, that is, to defend freedom.  I entered the Academy already infected with the belief that I was protecting liberty, but I think the four years of indoctrination successfully planted the seed that would eventually lead me to the truth: that war as logical had to be forced on the mind.  The military academy did everything it could to convince me that the State was the ultimate defender of freedom.  That I was “better” because I would give up my life for its interests.  This teaching was effective in suppressing the truth, but it did not brainwash me.   In short, the “over the top” re-education provided by the military, starting with my Academy days, had the opposite effect of what was intended.  It took me years to work this out, but war after war after war helped me see the ludicrosity (yes, I made that word up special, just for this moment) of the State.

Yes, I have “served” and I think of war not as a last resort, but as a tumor on human thought…it is no resort at all, and its root is the State.  I am not so naive as to think war will be eradicated from our existence.  Humans are masters at violence and power, and when these combine there will be the smell of death to innocents in the air.  So what is one to do?  How does one build speed bumps on the road to war?  As alluded to, I am convinced it is to reduce (i.e. divide) the power first, rather than the violence, and the State is where the monopoly on power resides.  My only route is to persuade, and to persuade, and to persuade that power concentrated over so many subjects is how tyranny prevails.

A Warplane Graveyard: Imagine more of these here.

A Warplane Graveyard: Imagine more of these here.

Those who think that “war is not the ugliest of things” (vis-a-vis John Stewart Mill, read the full quote here), have given up.  There are so many more options available before violence is an option.  However, the State has us convinced that war is the way, way too soon.  Why?  When all you have is a hammer, then everything is a nail.

It is my hope that by thinking this through together, by continuing the dialogue about liberty, the individual will gain power at the expense of the State.  Then, when there is a call to war, nobody will come.  The effort of liberty-lovers will require persistence.  The belief in true liberty has to be so strong and pervasive, that action (or rather inaction) will be required.  It’s a grand goal, but certainly worth the effort.  Eventually, we may hit a tipping point of thought, where liberty trumps nationalism…one can hope, no?

You see, I am “for the troops.”  For their liberty, their sanity, and their safety.  Bring them home.

“We who have touched war have a duty to bring the truth about war to those who have not had a direct experience of it.  We are the light at the tip of the candle.  It is really hot, but it has the power of shining and illuminating. If we practice mindfulness, we will know how to look deeply into the nature of war and, with our insight, wake people up to that together we can avoid repeating the same horrors again and again” –Thich Nhat Hanh

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John Stuart Mill…On War

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Here is a quote, by John Stuart Mill, that I was required to memorize as an 18 year-old in basic cadet training:

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. …A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

But here is the full quote, that was NOT shared with me (notice the part that was deleted…hmmm):

“But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer.  War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse.  When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people.  A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration.  A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.  As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.”

My reflections after more than 20 years.  This quote was pummeled into my brain, without the full context, to reinforce the fact that I am not to ask questions, but to accept that the State’s reasons for war are just.  We need more people to ask, if “people are [being] used as mere human instruments…in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master?”

Cannon Balls

Incidentally, this was written by Mill to persuade the the public to support the Union in the U.S. Civil War.

Essentially, this quote is useless in justifying war.  It is an oblique statement that says, “I hate war, but you know, this war is OK because the reasons are right.”  However, it is the reasons that are the hard part, and as long as the bar is kept low to justify war, as they are today (and drones count, by the way) then this Mill piece is nothing more than reaffirming evidence.

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The Evil of Plural Pronouns (We & They)

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There is a real problem with plural personal pronouns.  It is embedded in our culture and our language, and it slips by the common observer without so much as a pause.  These are words like we, they, our, us, them, and their.  Today, I want to discuss the words “we” and “they.”  These words need to be discussed in depth because they matter in the deepest sense of how each of us frames our life.  In short, I think “we” and “they” have been a source of great and pernicious evil in society, and most importantly in breaking down the mind of the individual.

Whenever someone says something like, “We just need a sensible policy on this,” or “We all just need to stick together,” or “They’ve decided that some racial slurs are OK, but others aren’t” I shudder to think what this person means by “we” and “they.”

Let’s take my first example.  What if someone were to say, “We need to have a sensible drug policy.”  Well, this may be a cliche, but “what do you mean by WE?”  Do I have a say in the matter?  Is someone going to ask me to sit down and offer my ideas on a drug policy?  Do you mean the State of Texas, the elementary school down the road, the U.S government, the UN?  It is a very dangerous game to use the word “we.”  What really should have been said, and what is going to happen is “Somebody with power should force a drug policy down our throats, and I hope it will be reasonable because frankly, you and I will have no say.”  Government officials use the word “we” on purpose to imply their legitimacy…to enforce that they speak for you, and make decisions for you, but most of us just let that “we” slip by.  This is dangerous.  You give your tacit approval when you let others say “we” without asking why they want to include you in their logic, and in what group you are included.

We can do this together!

We can do this together!

One of the most tyrannical uses of the plural personal pronoun is when someone wants to speak for over 300 million people living in the geographic borders of the United States.  This implies that everyone must submit to whatever a small group decides…even if it is the majority of voters (which in fact represent a non-majority of the population):

  • We need tighter gun control
  • We need safer food
  • We owe our freedom to them (that’s 3 plural pronouns..woohoo!)
  • We need to lose weight in America
  • We all need health care
  • we, we, we…

A related aside:  it is a geographical accident that you or I were born anywhere.  Even though there is a need to belong, you were not born an American, a German, a Russian or whatever.  From my perspective, belonging to any group is voluntary.  You should not be forced into this group, and if you have to play along to get by, then so be it.

Now, on to “they.”  I have a specific example for this one.  A twitter friend was recently upset at how the slur of “cracker” was used on MSNBC (which they have done more than once:  here and here) seems to go unpunished, while other slurs get the hammer (I think THE example of this is when a non-black person uses the word “nigger,” in any context…I’m bracing for the hate mail).  Anyway, in her dissatisfaction she mentioned that “they” don’t allow some slurs to be said, while others were just fine.  I was confused by her term “they.”  Because I am so used to this word being said to refer to those who make the regulations, I thought that is what she meant.  Note:  Mentally, I usually make no distinction between the mainstream media and government; they are essentially 2 branches on the same tree. It got my feathers ruffled, because I thought she was calling for more regulation on the words that are said in public.  Of course, I will have none of that.  It is a slippery slope when those who are outraged by some or another behavior complain that “they” are not policing this enough.

Be careful what you say.  (Photos by (C) STROINSKI.PL)

Be careful what you say. (Photo by (C) STROINSKI.PL)

In the end, I think she simply meant all of those of the “politically correct” nature, rather than those in power who create tyranny (although these are often the same people, unfortunately).  However, it scared me.  It scared me because enough people might get outraged that they think “they” should do something (for all of “us,” of course).  It scared me that a government crony might take advantage of this outrage and issue more of “their” control.  It is for this reason that plural personal pronouns should be used precisely, and those who do not wish to be included in the collective should speak out, when these pronouns are bandied about.

It is my opinion, that the “they” in the media can say whatever they darn well please.  In fact, anybody can say just about anything they want to, legally.  That is what freedom of speech is.  It is up to the listener to exert his or her influence through their own choice.  This could be simply not listening/watching, sending the corporation responsible a communication of disapproval, or it could be exposing them to the public via their own communication.  Of course, I am speaking of how things SHOULD be rather than how they are.

In any case, I am very careful about those plural pronouns, and I do not think we should make them do anything.

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Democracy Numbers: 2012 Presidential Election

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According to this link, voter turnout was down in 2012 Election (article is a few months old, but I needed it for my math below).  A quote from the article:

“University’s Michael McDonald put the 2012 turnout rate at 60 percent of eligible voters. That figure was expected to be revised as more precincts reported and absentee votes were counted.”

Let’s see, time for “back of the napkin” math:

  • 50% of 60% = 30% for Obama and his ilk
  • 48% of 60% = 29% voted for Mitt and his cronies
  • 1% for Gary Johnson

So, 30% Democrats,  29% Republicans  41% None of the Above/Libertarian

That is of ELIGIBLE voters (not even registered eligible voters), which my source says (good enough) is about 207 million (of which, according to this only 150 mil are registered).  There are over 300 million in the United states.  I’m just saying.

Hmmm…so who has legitimacy?  I’m going with you…only you can govern yourself.

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Why Traffic Regulations Matter

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My last few posts have been about calls for government to make us safer on the Antelope Valley Freeway (AVF), as a result of a hypothetical multi-car tragedy.  You can read about it here.  

The final three calls for safety from that article are as follows.

  1. We need higher traffic fines.
  2. Let’s tax fuel to reduce traffic.
  3. If we build a monorail between Palmdale and Burbank, it will reduce traffic.

While my intent was to break these down individually, I realized that would get laborious so I decided to generalize: all calls for government intervention are to ask for less liberty, and to delegate away property from one person to another.  Period.

Are you a drone?

Are you a drone?

There are prominent thinkers and many others who think libertarians should stick to domestic civic issues such as traffic laws and drugs.  To some, talking about traffic laws on the AVF is exactly the lane (hey, that’s a pun!) libertarians should stay in.  To others, explaining how less State action would make for better foreign policy and less war is where I should be expending my time.  I really don’t want to get bogged down on this particular local matter, but the AVF illustrates a microcosm of a larger problem.  Separating domestic and foreign issues when it comes to liberty is a very tenuous game.  In short, the way people think about domestic issues should affect how they think about whether a nation-state has the right to reach out and kill children far-away with drones and missiles.  I know too many cannot make the connection, but it is important to bridge that gap, I think.

A libertarian mindset is a holistic one.  It is my opinion that to be “kind of” libertarian is like being “kind of” pregnant.  When you invite the State to control you, you certainly allow it to control everything.  Allowing the State to gain more and more power is based on fear:  fear of a car crash, fear of a terrorist attack, fear of poisoned foods, fear of being fat.  Eventually, you get sloth on top of the fear.  Actually, it might be a learned helplessness.  Eventually, not only do more and more people become accustomed to not looking out for themselves, those who may have wished to do so find it impossible because of the regulation, taxation, and legalized theft of property.

But the violence begets more violence.  Drone attacks on foreign soil produce enemies of the U.S. (see Blowback).  Contrary to the propaganda, they don’t hate us for our freedom (which is absolutely ridiculous), “they” hate “us” because “we” (words used cautiously) collectively approved (supposedly) our government’s interventionist foreign policy.  In essence, too many have bought that without the State, we would not be safe, we would not have justice, and people could not coexist.

Another type of drone.

Another type of drone (USAF Reaper).

As government creates more problems, it claims it needs more power to fix them…this is regardless of whether it is traffic laws or drones attacking foreign lands.  That’s why hacking away at its power one mind at a time is of the essence.

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We Need Lower Speed Limits!

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In my “News Flash: Nobody Crashed on The Antelope Valley Freeway” entry, I mentioned a single episode where a multi-car accident could be the catalyst for drastic measures in highway control.  The next of these measures to “fix” the crash crisis is one of my favorites:  to lower the speed limits to make it safer.

We Need Lower Speed Limits!

This government regulation invites argument in absurdium writ large, which by the way is one of my favorite ways to illustrate the ridiculousness of some things.

If lower speed limits make us safer, then why not reduce the speed limit EVERYWHERE?  If we travel at zero miles per hour then we will have no collisions and no risk.  Of course, we would not get anywhere either.  That’s the thing…to have progress, you must have risk.

The inevitable question is, who should bear the burden of accepting risk?  As the imperial subjects continue to invite the government to reduce risk for the least common denominator, everyone’s liberty is torn away, and tyranny enters our life.   As an alternative, why not let individuals manage their own risk?  What if there were no speed limits?  I hypothesize that on the average, most people would simply drive a reasonable speed.   Admittedly, it would be nice to know what a reasonable speed is.  Does this mean we need a government to do this for us?  Most definitely not.  A private company could determine reasonable speeds, probably the same private company who SHOULD be building and managing the roads.  Hell, Google could do it and put on a navigation app on a smart phone.  Here’s the thing, if speed limits were changed to advisory speeds, the overwhelming majority of drivers would drive that speed or at most 10 MPH over that speed.

Be careful when you say "There ought to be a law"  They will watch you from then on.

Be careful when you say “There ought to be a law” They will watch you from then on.

We already have advisory speeds.  You know those yellow signs that have a car on a swerve with the speed posted.  Those aren’t speed limits, but are there to advise the driver of what a reasonable speed is.  Of course, these advisory speeds could be used as evidence of negligence, should a driver interfere with the rights of another by damaging another’s life or property.  For example, if you were driving over 30 MPH above the advisory speed, it could be one piece of evidence that proves you were negligent in the operation of the vehicle.

My main point is this.  Be careful when you say “there ought to be a law.”  The evidence continues to mount that humans manage and cooperate just fine without some authority threatening them to do so with force.

…and remember, government is always force.

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Musings on a National Review Article about Auto Regulation

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I was recently E-mailed a link to a National Review article on how federal mandates for better gas mileage are killing people.  Here is the link:  http://www.nationalreview.com/article.

It’s a well-written article.  It delves into how government-mandated MPG requirements make for cars that are less safe.  However, it left my wanting.  It seems like Robert Norton, the author, yearns for better policy, rather than none.  I could be wrong.  Maybe it’s my hot liberty-loving blood, but it is what is not written in the article that leads me to believe that this comes from a “your government hack is bad, but my government hack would be better” perspective.  Then again, maybe Mr. Norton is just going for a base hit rather than a home run in taking on the Federal monster.

All in all, the article goes for a tree rather than the forest.  First of all, the 54.4 MPG mandate was set by an an administrative dictate, NOT BY LAW signed by the U.S. Congress and the President (see this from http://majorityleader.gov/TheImperialPresidency/, for the sake of brevity only read the auto efficiency part, read the rest later and feel your blood pressure skyrocket).  It is certainly correct that government mandates destroy our lives, but that is because government destroys everything.  In essence, the author is pruning the man-eating plant.

The Smart Car.  Oh, the irony of a name!

The Smart Car. Oh, the irony of a name!

So today, we simply have unconstrained monopoly of force.  What is needed now are more people who simply say, “this is not law, so we will not follow it,” when there is an administrative edict not backed by law.  So who would that be?  It certainly would not be the poor chump buying the car; it would have to be the automakers.  What is not said in the National Review article, and needs to be hammered home, is that the auto company big-wigs probably love this regulation.  It creates a barrier to entry for any competition.  Only the big 3 can comply this mandate because:

  1. Who could possibly follow this mandate without loads of production (i.e. make lots of itty-bitty cars that get 60+ MPG, and then actually sell profitable large vehicles that get far less…as a result the average MPG meets the mandate)
  2. They get subsidized when they get in trouble by bailouts

This is a complicit arrangement between the Big 3 automakers and the centrally planned government.  The automakers are the bosses, the government are the thugs.

Robert Norton ends the piece by essentially blaming liberals, but says nothing of so-called conservatives lack of will to put an end to all federal regulation, as well as the subsidizing of preferred segments of the economy, like the auto industry.  Essentially, what is missed time and again in these ‘conservative’ pieces is that of 535 in congress about 533 or so are statists.  They all think that the state is the answer: as long as my guy is in charge.

Many (though not all) of the originators of the United States government felt that a divided government was a good one.  The U.S. Constitution was a compromise document that provided for a stronger union, while still holding the government in check because of how it limited its powers.  If the Executive branch can create an edict that must be followed as law, then that concept is LONG gone.  If all 50 States fall in line, without nullifying such edicts according to the 10th amendment, then there is no division of power.  Without division of power, there is no lesser evil of divided government.

So now as Mark of Free Talk Live fame (my absolute favorite audio show), often says, we have a government “of the lawyers, for the corporations, by the lobbyists.”

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