SEPTEMBER, 11, 2009
• Fundamental Beliefs in a Nutshell
Today many of us are looking back and remembering the deaths of over 3000 people: We are looking back and remembering the citizen heroes who, by fighting back and dying in a field of wreckage, prevented the further loss of unimaginable numbers and devastation.
Perhaps in the days that follow this I will actually review those tragic images—I certainly haven’t forgotten them or that surreal day.
But today I will not reiterate here what so many others are able to do in more personal terms or in more gripping commentary. Instead, I’d like to focus on what has become of us since then—and more particularly—what has become of us recently. And I will do this by merely simplifying the two opposing views of what our country is, and then follow-up that by quoting a man who recognized the greatness to which the United States of American used to aspire.
Now, about those two opposing views... My very good friend Larry Farr recently sent me the text of a news feature entitled Bargaining with Thieves by Bojidar Marinov.
In this excellent article the writer recalls being in Eastern Europe in 1989: It seems that when the morally justified citizens rose up against the communist political party for taking their lives, liberty and property, the communists called the protestors “extremists” that “refuse to come to an agreement,” didn’t want “constructive dialog, “wore “swastikas and brown shirts” and were “nothing less than fascists.”
Wow. That’s pretty brazen talk for communists.
But Bojidar’s point was that he is seeing the same thing happen here in America when the majority of Americans are rebelling against the current administration (and our arrogant, elected representatives).
This truly insightful article by someone who knows of what he speaks got me to thinking. The problem, when you get down to brass tacks, is one of fundamental beliefs.
Regardless of whether you have been conditioned by circumstance of poverty (needs), wealth (guilt), political office (power), ignorance (you don’t know history) or stupidity (you think you are better than history), you will have one of two mindsets.
You either believe someone else should help and/or owe you OR you think you yourself is (are?) the only person responsible to help and/or owe you. If it’s the former, then you promote government that takes other people’s money and freedom on your behalf. If it’s the later, you’re scared to death of people promoting the former.
UPDATE 2019—An above-referenced off-site article was link in this paragraph but is now unavailable. The following link points to the text of the article saved on this website: Click Here For Bargaining With Thieves by Bojidar Marinov.
In Reason in Common Sense, George Santayana, wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” You may more readily recognize the misquote that runs along the lines of, “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.”
But the truth of the matter is some of the most intellectually superior people have had to re-examine history in order to learn from it. One man in particular started out his career as a Keynesian supporter of the New Deal and staunch advocate of government intervention in the economy. But then he about-faced and in the 1950s and 60s led the figurative charge rejecting government micromanagement of the economy. This man was probably one of the most influential economists of the last half of the 20th century. I won’t rattle on about him since you can do your own research. Suffice it to say that he himself has become an important lesson in history.
I refer to Melton Friedman, who had plenty to say that remains applicable to the economic environment of today. So impressive are his observations that I have actually transcribed a few of his comments made during a 1979 interview with Phil Donahue. What follows are those comments (and links to the YouTube videos).
What is greed? Of course none of us are greedy—it’s only the other fella who’s greedy.
The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interest. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein did not construct his theory under order from a—from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way. In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the grinding poverty that you are talking about—the only cases in recorded history are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worse—worst off—it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear: That there is no alternative way—so far discovered—of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a Free Enterprise System.
You think—excuse me, if you’ll pardon me—do you think American Presidents reward virtue? Do they choose their appointees on the basis of the virtue of the people appointed or on the basis of their political clout? Is it really true that political self-interest is nobler somehow than economic self-interest? You know, I think you’re taking a lot of things for granted. Just tell me where in the world you’d find these angels who are going to organize society for us?
But there is a case for the government protecting third parties: Protecting people who have not voluntarily agreed to enter. So there’s more of a case, for example, for emission control than there is for airbags. But the question is, “What’s the best way to do it?” And the best way to do it is not to have bureaucrats in Washington write rules and regulations saying that a car has to carry this, that or the other. The best way to do it is to impose a tax on the amount of pollutants emitted by a car and make it in the self-interest of the car manufacturers and of the consumers to keep down the amount of pollution in that way.
That’s it for today, kiddos. Unless I blow my top about something in the news—like healthcare—the new blog entry will be an announcement concerning the Lighthouse Press release of my new e-book novella, Socials.
JUNE, 8, 2009
• Why Don't He Write
A few minutes into the film Dances with Wolves, a human skeleton is encountered out on the frontier of Post-Civil War America. Partially obscured by tall grass and sun-bleached a bright white the rib cage of the skeleton is riddle with arrows. Seeing this one of the characters jokes, “Somebody back east is wonderin’, ‘Why don’t he write?’”
I expect the same has been said of me: Why don’t he write?
Well, now I have.
I’ll get the obvious out of the way first: The website.
It has expanded. It is still the basic Lighthouse Press layout but with my choice of black and white colors and the additional content, it looks different. And not everything has been added yet. In the days and weeks to come there will be more book and film reviews (both older and more recent titles), more commentary topics, more poetry and short stories.
This has been a pretty large undertaking and what you see on the web constitutes only a small portion of the work that has gone into the site expansion. Gathering the text, transcription, coding, creating logs and a ton of correspondence are all examples of contributions to the expansion that you don’t see (we’re even still waiting on copyright permission for excerpts from a book I discuss in the new Gray Literature section).
Why mention all of this? Well, a lot of fingers were in this pie and that doesn’t happen without problems as well as things being overlooked. So if you come across a broken link, typos or something that is just outright and obviously missing, drop us a message via Mirabella (the e-mail link is in the navigation menu to your left).
You can also expect a few changes to start taking shape over at The Lighthouse Press site. They still haven’t got the distribution thing straightened out and so my novel at Amazon is still being offered for a whopping $500 (I address this on the Q&A page of this site). But they are supposed to start offering e-books and I expect to have a non-Stopgap related title available via the e-book medium. Look for a link to that on the Gray Literature page of this site, in the drop-down menu of the fiction tab.
As for the sequel to Stopgap… Well, I’ve had my hands full with the site changes, writing, and some freelance work. Hang in there a bit longer. In the meantime you can find some of my lesser known work now here on the web site.
Now, as for this web site, I plan on regularly updating this blog with commentary concerning current events as well as updates on my work. And believe me, I have plenty to say about the direction from which my country has come and is going. While I will doubtless end up going off on a rant every now and then, I will most usually underscore any claim by citing from sources appropriate to the topic at hand. Any person can “sound” great, but to be of any value one’s words must have meaning. Let me give you a couple of examples.
We have a new American President who some months ago said that we had to spend trillions of dollars in the short term to insure prosperity in the long term. Of course that doesn’t make sense and he got away with it because of the way he phrased it. His actual quote was, “...we must add to our deficits in the short-term to provide immediate relief to families and get our economy moving.”
When said that way, it sounds wonderful. The problem is that trillions of dollars in deficits provides precious little—if any—relief in the short term: None in the long term. We simply cannot get “our economy moving” by saddling ourselves, our children, our grandchildren and even our great grandchildren with a bill for trillions of dollars. That, dear reader, is not temporary, prosperous or economically viable.
And while I’m on the subject… I never thought I would live in a country where the government could tell a private company to ditch their CEO. That sort of thing was okay for the old USSR but in America? Unbelievable.
Don’t tell me we had to do something. That’s a crock. Two wrongs don’t make a right, either. Just because some monster company took a handout—granted a HUGE handout—from the government does not make it right that the government should start taking over. In truth, the government shouldn’t have been handing money out like it was freshly printed monopoly money. If a business has problems that it can’t dig itself out of it should go belly-up. I don’t care how big it is.
The problem with the economy is not one related to Free Enterprise or Capitalism. I know that sounds like a big horse pill to swallow, but it’s the truth. There were specific problems that the Bush administration tried to address as far back as the early 2000s. It was democrats that blocked those recommendations and the very things that are on record as being predicted, have now happened. Also, banks didn’t just decide to abandon sound lending policies and throw money at people who were unlikely to pay it back. The banks were practically strong-armed into making bad loans.
Oh, I’m sure some of you are about to blow your stack about now. I can just hear it: “Tolleson, you capitalistic pig, the problem with our economy isn’t a Democratic or Republican issue! We’ve let too many crooks get away with financial murder!”
Well, you’re partly right: It’s just that the crooks who got away with financial murder were the Democrats who now run the show by covering up their tracks with high and mighty sound bites.
And no, I’m not just pulling this out of thin air. Have a look at this news item: YouTube: September 24, 2004 Report.
Or this one: YOUTUBE: DEMOCRATS FIGHT REGULATION IN 2004. (UPDATE 2019—This video is no longer available.)
Or any of these more than sixty video clips of crooks in their own words: YouTube: 60 Plus Video Clips on Fannie Mae Hearings
And then on top of all of this came the bailout money. (The term “bailout” works only if you think of the economy as plane in flight and we just bailed out without parachutes.)
Here’s a simple truth: If you’re in debt up to your eyeballs, you don’t get out of debt by incurring additional interest owed on a new loan. Even though paper money has no intrinsic value, whenever it is borrowed, loaned or printed, it cost more of it.
If you really want to know the truth, then get your head out of the sand and stop listening to the soundbites thrown at you by the Washington crowd. Where to look? Well, if you avoid the goose-stepping mainstream media you’ll learn a lot. But pay attention when looking for the truth: The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth are three separate things and when one is absent, you are being fed an agenda.
The truth about the rich, for example...
Those rich fat cats get away with everything. For example, the filthy rich top 5% of wage earners pay over half (about 54%) of the taxes collected in this country. Drop down the pay scale a bit and include the nearly filthy rich and the top 10% of the wage earners pay about 65% of ALL taxes collected. Drop down the pay scale a bit more to include the “well to do” and we find that nearly the entire burden of taxation—roughly 3½ to 4% shy of the ENTIRE collection of taxes is paid by the top 50% of wage earners. Not 50% of everybody, but rather just half of the top wage earners are paying roughly 96% of all taxes. This group also includes mom and pop operations that hire employees while paying other business-related expenses, overhead, fees and taxes.
If you have Excel, you can look at the numbers for yourself at the IRS web site: IRS Excel 2003 Table Regarding Who Pays Taxes.
Those are 2003 figures released in late 2005. The current projections are equally staggering. In short, the so-called “rich” are getting taken to the cleaners.
I could go on but I’m sure you get the picture.
Next time maybe I’ll discuss the meaning of the words, “Obama tax plan.” Here a preview: The “rich” aren’t the only people being taken to the cleaners.