Pieces of Kurt Vonnegut

Posted by Frankly Francis on October 27, 2012 under Books/Authors, Quotes | Be the First to Comment

The waitress brought me another drink. She wanted to light my hurricane lamp again. I wouldn’t let her. “Can you see anything in the dark, with your sunglasses on?” she asked me. “The big show is inside my head,” I said.

I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.

All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies.

Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be.

I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.

All these people talk so eloquently about getting back to good old-fashioned values. Well, as an old poop I can remember back to when we had those old-fashioned values, and I say let’s get back to the good old-fashioned First Amendment of the good old-fashioned Constitution of the United States — and to hell with the censors! Give me knowledge or give me death!

Wake up, you idiots! Whatever made you think that money was so valuable?

New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become.

Many people need desperately to receive this message: I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.

People don’t come to church for preachments, of course, but to daydream about God.

A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.

Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you’ll look back and realize they were big things.

And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

I will say, too, that lovemaking, if sincere, is one of the best ideas Satan put in the apple she gave to the serpent to give to Eve. The best idea in that apple, though, is making jazz.

Perhaps, when we remember wars, we should take off our clothes and paint ourselves blue and go on all fours all day long and grunt like pigs. That would surely be more appropriate than noble oratory and shows of flags and well-oiled guns.

People say there are no atheists in foxholes. A lot of people think this is a good argument against atheism. Personally, I think it’s a much better argument against foxholes.

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.

To be is to do – Socrates
To do is to be – Sartre
Do Be Do Be Do – Sinatra

I was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all.

Unusual travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.

If you can do no good, at least do no harm.

Make love when you can. It’s good for you.

Ting-a-ling mother fucker.

There is love enough in this world for everybody, if people will just look.

Until you die…it’s all life.

Thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative.

We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane.

Life is no way to treat an animal.

The insane, on occasion, are not without their charms.

There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organization. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organized along the lines of the Mafia.

No matter how corrupt, greedy, and heartless our government, our corporations, our media, and our religious & charitable institutions may become, the music will still be wonderful.

A saint is a person who behaves decently in a shockingly indecent society.

What you can become is the miracle you were born to be through the work that you do.

My soul knows my meat is doing bad things, and is embarrassed. But my meat just keeps right on doing bad, dumb things.

She hated people who thought too much. At that moment, she struck me as an appropriate representative for almost all mankind.

And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.

Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.

The Fourteenth Book is entitled, “What can a Thoughtful Man Hope for Mankind on Earth, Given the Experience of the Past Million Years. It doesn’t take long to read The Fourteenth Book. It consists of one word and a period. This is it: “Nothing.”

A sane person to an insane society must appear insane.

And so it goes…

The Monkees’ Mickey Dolenz & Me

Posted by Frankly Francis on September 19, 2012 under Music/Musicians, Personal | Be the First to Comment

Having recently heard of the latest Monkees reunion tour, sans Davey of course, I got to thinking of one of the threads of my youth that came to fruition much later along my pathway.

It’s very important to take the space time continuum seriously… especially when you are not much of a believer in fate, destiny or that things always happen for a purpose, like myself.  For me things can be summed up pretty neatly with the words of Douglas Adams, “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.”

Back in the 60’s, music was exploding.  It seemed like every day there was a new sound or a new artist adding to ever expanding genres.  I tried to take it all in.  We all tried to take it all in.  I think we may still be trying to take it all in. It was an incredible time musically!

I love music in every form, but I have always been a sucker for a good pop hook. The Beatles were astounding.  They were everywhere.  They changed pop music with each new album, and they changed pop culture each time as well.  The rest of the English Invasion was a musical force to be reckoned with.

America had to respond.  And respond it did on every front. Admirably too.

One of those fronts was sheer profit. The Monkees were assembled as a money making business, pure Hollywood corporatism. Yet it was so wonderfully American.

And I loved the Monkees! Their job was making music! They had the Monkeemobile! They were hanging out and having fun! They got in (and then out of) the most ridiculous situations as a way of life!

My take on them, then and now: Davey had charm that was contagious, Mike was a serious thinker, but someone had to be, and Peter was just goofy. Mickey was just too cool and my undeniable favorite.

In the 60’s, when the Monkees came to town for a concert at the venerable War Memorial Auditorium, I heard on the AM wireless that they were arriving at the airport.  My brother and I convinced my mother to drive us over there so that we could meet them in person.  I was never more excited.  I tried to think of what I might say to them.  Maybe they would give me tickets to their concert.  Maybe they would ask me backstage.  Maybe they would ask me to be a Monkee. Maybe they would ask me to tour with them…

Of course we were at the wrong airport.  The Monkees flew into the private airfield right next to where we were.   Dreams dashed in the sad realization that we were not going to meet them.

But I knew one thing for certain from the Monkees – I had to be in a rock band.  As a result of that, I had the incredible opportunity to perform with musicians who, to this day, I am deeply honored to have shared a stage with – times I will always cherish and be thankful for.

Real good stuff.

Fast forward a few decades. I’m doing the corporate gig as CFO of a rapidly expanding Internet company. We make generous donations to “Computers for Kids.” We get preferential treatment at their annual gala fundraiser. Mickey Dolenz is the performer. I get a private post performance party invite.

I am going to finally meet Mickey Dolenz. Did I mention that Mickey was my favorite Monkee?

It’s not that I am star struck, well maybe a little, but it’s that I like to meet the people who have had a profound influence upon me and thank them. And if possible, have as much conversation as the opportunity presents.

The show was great and it’s time to fulfill a boyhood dream. I’m cool, but yet I am as over-excited as a child. Finally, Mickey joins the party. He situates himself right next to me at the bar in the private room. I seize the moment and request a photo of me and Mickey.

As the photo is about to be snapped, I place my arm around Mickey, and in doing so, I push his drink right off of the bar. Horrors! Mickey looks at me and tells me that it took 20 minutes for the staff to find his particular drink of choice. He is not happy. Nightmare! I sincerely apologize. They replenish his drink.  It gets better. I get my picture.

We talk. I feel so good.  I tell him that “Shades of Gray” remains my favorite Monkees song. I tell him that Davey did a great job on the vocals. He tells me that it is his favorite too, but he sang the song. I am pretty sure that my memory is good in this regard, but this is Mickey Dolenz contradicting me here. I have to cede to him. Meeting summary to that point: Oh no, bad start that got better now taking a negative turn.

But things went back to good between me and Mickey, and as it turned out, I had the most delightful time talking with him.

When I had the later opportunity to listen to “Shades of Gray,” I realized that Davey did indeed sing most of the lead with Mickey singing along, but mostly harmonizing. Well at least Mickey and I consider it our favorite Monkees song.

Sometimes we get what we want in our childhood, when we are adults…

Frankly,

Francis

Who Actually Did Build It?

Posted by Frankly Francis on September 2, 2012 under In The News, Social Issues/Politics | Be the First to Comment

Here’s Some Orwellian 1984 Newspeak:

Candidate for Senate Elizabeth Warren Says:
“I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever. No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody.
You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did.

“Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

Frankly Francis Says:
After we each follow our natural compulsion to sing a verse of “Kumbaya,” let’s take a look at what is going on underneath those words.

To gender neutralize the common phrase – no one is an island. We all exist in society because of mutual cooperation. And I think even the dimmest of us knows, no matter what our circumstances, we all have had help along the way. But…

To Ms. Warren’s point, note that she repeatedly says “the rest of us paid for” throughout her argument. She never says “we all paid for” or “the rich along with all other Americans paid for.”   She, for some reason, excludes the rich as paying for anything that they utilized, while the rest of us subsidized their success.

Well then, who did pay for that?

Now considering that at least 46% of all Americans pay no federal income taxes at all, almost half of us paid for nothing she mentions but got the benefit of all that stuff.

According to the National Taxpayers Union, in 2009, the top 25% income earners paid 87.3% of all income taxes.

I think one might make a reasonable case that the rich that Ms. Warren castigates did indeed pay for almost all of what we collectively have. And they have already paid for the next kid who comes along too. Such inconvenient truths for Ms. Warren’s argument, I am almost sorry to mention it.

President Obama Says:
“There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.”

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

Frankly Francis Says:
First, I am pretty sure that Al Gore built the Internet, but regardless, and let us not re-write history here, it was built for the purpose of information sharing, not so that all the companies could make money off of the Internet. Entrepreneurs saw an opportunity to improve the market for consumers – they took significant financial risk and effort to provide that. Everyone has benefitted from the creation of new jobs, a more efficient economy, better processes and services for consumers, and that also includes the government receiving additional tax revenues.

President Obama says that there are a lot of smart people out there. I completely agree, but being smart, in and of itself, does not produce a successful business or riches. It requires much more than that.

And President Obama says that there are a lot of hard working people out there. Of course there are. Not to be callous, but if just hard work actually meant anything, I think you would find the rich furiously digging ditches with small hand shovels.

Success does involve hard work and smarts, but it also requires taking personal and financial risk, being innovative, being intensely committed to succeeding as a way of life, and being responsible to the people that you employ, amongst even more energy and time consuming things. A little old fashioned luck never hurts either as it is a highly competitive undertaking – 80% of small businesses fail within their first five years.

If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

Speaking of our public school system, there were a couple of teachers in my youth that were inspiring, but most were not. Most were just collecting their paychecks. And I am not saying that doing the job expected of you and being compensated is wrong, but that is not praise worthy either. Should we receive extra special attention for doing just what we are being paid to do?

You are right President Obama when you say “Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive,” – that somebody would be the Founding Fathers who risked their lives to publish the Declaration of Independence, the men and women in military service who gave their lives for our freedoms, and then to all of the working Americans who turned that into a reality through their efforts and drive, in spite of government’s corruption and its waste.

But hear this -

Matt Welch Says:
“Note here how all government spending is equated to roads, public education, and electrical power, which–despite massive spending increases–account for a very small fraction of federal spending. You could (and should!) lop the federal budget in half without touching these line items.”

“Note, too, how increased government spending has not noticeably improved the very areas of service Warren names. K-12 results are flat over 40 years despite more than doubling per-pupil spending. The electricity grid is inefficient, wasteful, and expensive. The latest federal transportation bill continues squandering money without building or maintaining anything near highway capacity, and is best described as “pathetic.” We are getting much less return on our “investment,” while being asked to pony up more.”

So the old axiom that when the government does it, “you pay twice as much to get half as much” may well in spirit apply here. And let’s see what happens to the cost of healthcare, the availability of healthcare, and the quality of healthcare in the future.

One might get the feeling from the foregoing that the government thinks it has been slighted for its efforts and deserves more credit…perhaps a lot more credit.

It seems that the government is really serious about this, and with the erosion of so many of our civil liberties, just to be personally safe, it might be wise to thank the government when you receive your Eagle Scout award, when you accept that Oscar at the Academy Awards, when you invent the next life changing advancement, when you graduate from an academic institution, when the government approves your marriage license…whenever you have the selfish notion that you actually did something.

Frankly,

Francis

References:

You Didn’t Build That History:

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/events/you-didnt-build-that

Hit and Run Blog –Matt Welch

http://reason.com/blog/2012/07/19/elizabeth-warren-again-nobody-got-rich-o

The Blaze – Tiffany Gabbay

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/elizabeth-warren-on-class-warfare-there-is-nobody-in-this-country-who-got-rich-on-his-own/

Who Pays Taxes:

http://ntu.org/tax-basics/who-pays-income-taxes.html

Who Does Not Pay Taxes:

http://blog.heritage.org/2012/02/19/chart-of-the-week-nearly-half-of-all-americans-dont-pay-income-taxes/

My Last Letter to My Dear Friend Eddy

Posted by Frankly Francis on August 18, 2012 under Personal | 12 Comments to Read

Edward Berezowski

Hey Eddy -

I’ve put on some obscure Iggy Pop from your collection and smoked a little to set the mood.

Your body stopped functioning yesterday, and you passed away a few days before that.

I am actually thankful for the deep cold virus that inhabits me right now and seeks to live at my expense.  It forces me to be more inactive, which gives me time to think of you and our times together.

So, I thought I would write you one last time.  Maybe you can read this, maybe you can’t, but there is little to come that you don’t know already.  Maybe this is selfishly more for me than it is for you.

How prophetic that you would die at the hands of the state.  How wrong.  How fucked-up.  This is going to have to work itself out within me in the future as I am not capable of dealing with it right now.  But I will deal with it, on that you can rest assured.

What a prequel it is that your father, of Polish nobility, would be killed working for the secret service of the allies during the Cold War while you were still in your mum’s womb.

You weren’t properly “schooled” because you couldn’t take them and they couldn’t take you, yet you were one of the smartest people I’ve ever had the opportunity to be around.

Oh, and Eddy (and I must say as trying as it was sometimes), I really like how you understood and looked for the Zen in everything.  In your occupations as a mason and plumber you were a magnificent craftsman. You raised masonry and plumbing to a form of art.  I wish others could better understand you in this regard.  As a chef, you prepared a private meal for the artist then known as Prince, and had your own audience with him.  I wish you had more of those experiences for a lot of different reasons.

Like virtually everyone in my life, your political views were different from mine.  But unlike virtually everyone in my life, your views came about from deep study and a real search to determine your position.  I would very much like to think that was one of our mutual traits.  Tears rise up as I realize that I will never be able to call you a “socialist twit” again during one of our thankfully many discussions.  You never had any idea how much I enjoyed calling you that, but on the other hand, perhaps you did.  It wasn’t that you were a “socialist twit” (as we both knew you weren’t), but that you would let me call you one.

As you well know, I have said for over 30 years that you are one of the few people that I would give my life for.  You didn’t give me the chance.

The world at large did not want you in it, my friend, but of course, you knew that.  It did not want to listen to the inconvenient truths you so readily spoke of.  It, metaphorically speaking, shut its ears as you raised your voice thinking that it was the decibels it should be avoiding instead of listening to your different point of view.  It could not tolerate your non-conformity.  By everyone’s standards, you weren’t normal, and that meant that they classified you in demeaning, negative ways.  The fools…

And it is because of all of the foregoing, that I knew that the world needed you in it.

I think I will take “a little one” now in your honor and to dull the sadness in me.  Na Zdrowie Brother.

You married a girl who even at her young age saw, as she describes, “the diamond in the rough” that you were.  How many people have missed what was obvious to her?  And though you have left, you added two daughters who I am sure, just like you, will make the world a better place.

You and your house were a haven for others that didn’t fit the mold very well – generally musicians or people who liked being around musicians. I find it ironic, yet wonderful that you, a guy who faced his own mental demons all the time, was able to “mother” them so well.  Each walked away the better in some way for the time spent with you.  You should be really pleased by that Buddy.

There is not a musician who received your help that did not appreciate your efforts.

Very few really ever knew how much of a musician you were.

I am glad that my children got to experience you in their lives – they are the better for that.  And just for the record Buddy, they are thankful for that too.   Biology never interfered with your being a true member of our families.  Holidays, camping, pinochle, talking, arguing, fixing stuff, music, hanging out together – these are times I will always remember well.

You continually referred me to interesting authors, Neal Stephenson being the latest.  As a source of music and literature, as well as philosophy, you added so much to my existence.

Who will take your vital place in my life? There are so few capable.  You were truly one of kind Ed.

Oh, and I have to mention that in the past, when someone close passes, I have felt an overwhelming blast of loss.  In your case, the blast of loss deepens as the days go by.  You always had to be different, didn’t you?

You fought the good fight Eddy – See ‘ya on the other side, Brother.

Your Friend,

Fran

A Man Without A Country

Posted by Frankly Francis on July 1, 2012 under Social Issues/Politics | Be the First to Comment

Or…

Are We Not Earthlings?


Not long before his death, I had the opportunity to meet and have lunch with my favorite author Kurt Vonnegut.  It just so happened that his last published work, “A Man Without A Country” was released on that very day.

During the course of our meal, I said to him, “Mr. Vonnegut, I obviously haven’t had the chance to read your new book, but I do understand that it involves a lot of your belief that America has gone in such a poor direction, has become so gluttonous in its consumption of resources, and is generally an embarrassment from a global point of view, that you no longer feel as if you have a country.”

I went on with a certain amount of hopeful trepidation for how my comment was going to be received.  After all, I was speaking with Kurt Vonnegut…

I continued, “While I certainly agree with you in this regard, I would like to be able to say that I am a man without a country simply because I would prefer to be regarded as a citizen of the planet earth.”

Vonnegut ignored my thought completely, didn’t seem too pleased with my interpretation of his title, and immediately changed the subject.  I certainly didn’t score any points with the big guy with that.  So it goes…

But, I do think that many of our human troubles are based on human defined borders.

Think About It…

We all revolve around the sun together on the same planet.  We are all stuck on the same rock in a universe that is far too big for anyone of us to fully comprehend.  We cannot empirically answer the simplest of philosophical questions.

This should be enough to make us all realize the most common bond we share, that being that we are all in the same proverbial boat, but in our case, we have a paddle.

Humanity is indeed becoming more humane, but the pathway has not yet been linear.  We still have so much more to achieve.

I would be so bold as to suggest that when we lose the zeal of patriotism for our country uber alles, when we no longer are so convinced that God is only on our side against the enemy, when we can look at anyone and everyone and realize that they are probably just as confused about things as we are, then, maybe, just maybe, we will begin to live in a better place.

You don’t have to be John Lennon to imagine…

And seriously, to Elvis Costello’s question, what indeed is so funny about peace, love and understanding?

I think it might be prudent to judge our social evolution on how well we interact with our fellow human beings socially and in trade.  Interventionist military conflicts would be viewed as failure in regard to the foregoing, obviously.  If we are to talk the talk, then we need to walk the walk.

But, on its present course, America is not seeking that world.  America is seeking to be an empire.  I find that counterproductive and ultimately doomed (as all empires are) to failure…

I would suggest that our individual and personal life experience is far more important than nationalism in the big picture of things.  Let’s historically face it, America is much, much more of a philosophy than a country.

Do not think me naïve.  What I am suggesting is not realistic presently.  But that only makes the need for us to be thinking that way even more important.

I am a resident of planet Earth, as are we all.  I have become a free man living in an un-free world.

I just happened to be born in the USA.

For those of my national tribe, I am not disrespecting our country…I am, for fact, trying to expand the principles upon which it was founded.

And I think that Mr. Vonnegut, in his writing, is largely responsible for at least planting the seed of these thoughts in my head.  That is something that I will never have the resources to repay.

Frankly,

Francis

I, Libertarian

Posted by Frankly Francis on March 9, 2012 under Social Issues/Politics | Be the First to Comment

In the interest of full disclosure, and as a self diagnostic, I must start by saying that I am a pre-disposed individualist, never much of a joiner, always a rebel of the status quo, never politically correct, and always as true to myself as I can be.   And in spite of how my perspective may sound, I do not take myself too seriously.  Dear Reader, you would be well advised to not take me too seriously either.

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect” – Mark Twain

And I must also say that I enjoy freedom of thought and ideas.  I believe that diversity is the thing that makes us the strongest.  So while we may disagree in our beliefs, I welcome discussion that is contrary to my own values.  I am pretty sure that when we interact that way, we are all the better for it.

I was Once a Young Man

While the Vietnam War was going on, I began to suspect that the American ideal I had been trained to believe in was not being practiced.  I took particular interest studying the historical pathway of humanity in learning to live together.  I realized just how revolutionary the Declaration of Independence was.

What a lucky break for me to be born when and where I was!  But when I looked around at my fellow Americans, very few seemed to get it.  And “it” can be best described this way:

“There are those who would say that the liberation of humanity, the freedom of man and mind, is nothing but a dream. They are right.  It is the American dream“- Archibald McLeish

Such a powerful and wonderful thought.  How few of us that have ever revolved around the sun on this planet have had this opportunity?

Instead, I watched America reverting to a centrally controlled government with aspirations of ruling the world, while subjugating its own citizens.

“Don’t it always seem to go, they paved paradise and put up a parking lot” – Joni Mitchell

In the midst of this, I stumbled upon the Libertarian Party.

My first formal exposure occurred when I made an exploratory phone call to the office of the NYC Libertarian Party.  It started off this way:

Frankly Francis: “I’m interested in learning about the Libertarian Party.  What can you tell me about it?”

Libertarian Representative: “Basically, we want to do some good before we become corrupt.”

I appreciated the forthright honesty.

Actually, I was Intrigued

I learned that libertarians take the Constitution really seriously.  Seriously…really seriously.

“We may be tossed upon the ocean where we can see no land – nor, perhaps, the sun or stars.  But there is a chart and a compass for us to study, to consult, and to obey.  That chart is the Constitution” – Daniel Webster

The Libertarian Party motto is:

The Party of Principle: Minimum Government, Maximum Freedom

This suited me well.  Upon further study…

I Became a Libertarian

I remember back, over 25 years ago, when I spoke with people about my libertarian point of view, those little few who knew about libertarian philosophy laughed at me.  Those who didn’t laughed at me when I explained its tenets.

I was a real mirth maker back then, spreading joy to all of those around me.

And there is inherent off-beat humor in being of the libertarian persuasion – the Libertarian Party is an oxymoron.  As libertarians are, by their very core beliefs, individualists, I think that one of the biggest challenges libertarians face is being part of an organized group, even their own political party.

Some Libertarian Perspective:

If I were to apply Occam’s razor to libertarianism, I would describe it thusly:

“My right to throw a punch ends at your nose”

First and foremost, my life is mine to do with as I please, provided that my actions do not infringe upon anyone else’s rights.  Like most of our Founding Fathers, I believe that everyone is better off when the individual is valued over the group.

Government is a Necessary Evil

Libertarians are not as naïve as some claim – I know that there are no utopian solutions, but when government’s purpose is limited to protecting the rights and property of the individual, I believe that humanity will have made the next great leap forward.

“What’s so funny about peace, love, and understanding?” – Elvis Costello

I confess to being an idealist who would rather be considered a resident of planet Earth than an American.  But until such time as that is practical, I believe that our military should be so strong that no one would be stupid enough to attack us on our own soil.

“Let my actions speak so loudly that no one can hear my words” – Marv Levy

I don’t think that we need to evangelize ourselves to the world.  If we have a compelling way of life, our example will be enough for others to want to adopt it.  I suspect that this is where organized religions get it wrong; they spend too much time selling their product rather than living it.

We just need to be what we say we are.

The American Government is the Best Government…That Money Can Buy

We would be so much better off with a free market economy fairly regulated by government.  Don’t be deceived however; America has nothing resembling a free market economy.  And don’t be further deceived, the government does not fairly regulate the economy – it plays within it and gets bribed by big business.

I Love Competition

An even playing field of fair competition brings out the best in each of us and for each of us.  And as a consumer, I love competition because I get the best value for the least price.  It leads to new life improving developments…who isn’t in favor of new life improving developments?

Capitalism is the natural by-product of liberty that allows each of us to be whatever  we choose to be.

Live and Let Live

And we need to grow-up a bit.  While I do not advocate drugs, prostitution or gambling, none of these are criminal acts.  Nor is government the authority over marriage or civil unions.  Let’s get over it.  Government has never been able to legislate morality, nor should it; we each need to do that for ourselves.

More Government?

In recent times, we have endured the “War on Poverty,” “The War on Drugs,” the government’s intervention into healthcare, the bail-outs of government’s good time business buddies, undeclared wars that clearly violate the Constitution, government openly stealing from us by devaluing the dollar, along with foreign policy actions that breed terrorism, enabling the government to strip us of our essential rights.

“I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers to be feared.  To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.  If we run into such debts, we must be taxed in our meat and drink, in our necessities and in our comforts, in our labor and in our amusements.  If we can prevent the government from wasting the labor of the people, under the pretense of caring for them, they will be happy” – Thomas Jefferson

I confess that I am stupefied by the prevailing belief that more government is the solution, based on the actual results of government’s actions.

But We Digress…

Our founding was labeled “The Great American Experiment” and it did, for fact, produce the best standard of living in recorded history…until we somehow decided that the experiment was no longer worthwhile.   We chose the intoxication of other ideals.

We let our government take over the spirit and law of our Constitution.  That’s what governments do.  I am not saying that it is right; government can’t help it.  Like all other biological and social organisms, government lives to grow for its own purposes.  Its growth has become cancerous.

Using “The New Deal” of the 1930’s as a baseline, it has taken us about 80 years to clearly devolve from the intent of the Declaration of Independence.

If we could even possibly re-boot America, it might take even longer to dial back what has happened.

But I don’t think that is in the cards for America.  America has gone empire, and I am pretty sure that there is no coming back from that.  No empire ever has before.

Though humanity is becoming more humane, the pathway has not yet been linear.  And it has at times been downright ugly.  But if we do not socially evolve through America, I do believe that humanity will utilize American principles in some other place, in some other time in a better way.

But We Go Forward…

or

“You can say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one” – John Lennon

Unlike decades ago, hardly a day goes by when I don’t run into the word “libertarian” in the media.  There are now libertarians hosting national TV and radio talk shows.

Perhaps it’s not too little, too late.  In the past, due to the largess of my vanity, I have said that I look forward to saying that I was a libertarian before it was cool to be a libertarian.  Maybe I will get the chance.  It really doesn’t matter; vanity certainly never does.

So We Close…

But don’t kid yourself, there is a real battle going on right now:  Will we be a centralized corporatist state or the land of the free and the brave?  Will we continue on our empire course or will we be good neighbors to the rest of the planet?  Will the government continue its quest to control every aspect of our lives or will we reclaim our unalienable rights, among these, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance

Frankly,

Francis

Suggested Reference:

The Declaration of Independence

http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/

The Constitution of the United States of America

http://www.constitution.org/constit_.htm

Be careful of this – if you answer the 10 questions you might find out you are a libertarian too.  The World’s Smallest Political Quiz:

http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz

Libertarian Party website:

http://www.lp.org/

Suggested Reading:

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds – Charles Mackay

The March to Folly – Barbara W. Tuchman

For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization – Charles Adams

Free to Choose – Milton & Rose Friedman

How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World – Harry Browne

Libertarianism in One Lesson – David Bergland

Libertarianism: A Primer – David Boaz

The Revolution: A Manifesto – Ron Paul

It is Dangerous to be Right When the Government is Wrong – Judge Andrew P. Napolitano

Why Government Doesn’t Work – Harry Browne

What It Means to Be a Libertarian – Charles Murray

The Libertarian Reader – David Boaz

The Great Libertarian Offer – Harry Browne

(Re) Legalize It

Posted by Frankly Francis on December 3, 2011 under Social Issues/Politics | 4 Comments to Read

OK, it’s time for my periodic plea for us to come to our senses when it comes to our never ending “War on Drugs.”

But before I begin, it is essential to state that my beliefs on this topic stem from the knowledge that the right to my life is mine and mine alone.  Along with that comes the right to make choices for myself, the consequences of which I also bear full responsibility for.

The Declaration of Independence clearly states that I have inalienable rights, among them the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Most, if not all, of the major religions are based on the concept that people have free will and therefore must make decisions for themselves of eternal consequence, which is a pretty heavy responsibility.

I concur with the words of one of my favorite authors:

Now what I contend is that my body is my own, at least I have always so regarded it. If I do harm through my experimenting with it, it is I who suffers, not the state – Mark Twain

Back in the early 1970’s, I thought it only a matter of time before marijuana was re-legalized.  A short matter of time.

A Couple of Serious Facts:

Marijuana has never been proven to be addictive.

There has never been a documented death due to marijuana use.

Could we say the same of widely accepted alcohol use, which is arguably the most dangerous drug of all?

The Social Cost

It has been said that smoking marijuana is a victimless crime.

As I understand criminal acts, there needs to be a perpetrator of the crime and a victim of the crime.  This makes sense, right?

So when a person goes to jail for smoking marijuana, then the person is both the perpetrator and the victim.  This does not make sense, right?

In fact it makes as much sense as the tabloid headline I once saw in a supermarket checkout line:

Siamese Twins to be Executed for Murder – One Says, “But I Didn’t Do It!”

American jails are filled, and many in them are incarcerated for non-violent drug use or possession.

It’s like sending children to live with pedophiles.  They live with and make friends with murderers, rapists, muggers and robbers.  They probably forfeited their personal property to the government in the process.

It’s costly to house an inmate in a jail.

And they come out with knowledge and skills they didn’t have when they went in…

As a society we pay a steep price because trading in drugs, due to demand and its illegality, is very profitable.  This leads to organized crime syndicates and violence in our communities, along with police and government corruption.

The organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) has this to say:

We believe that drug prohibition is the true cause of much of the social and personal damage that has historically been attributed to drug use. It is prohibition that makes marijuana worth more than gold, and heroin worth more than uranium – while giving criminals a monopoly over their supply. Driven by the huge profits from this monopoly, criminal gangs bribe and kill each other, law enforcers, and children. Their trade is unregulated and they are, therefore, beyond our control.

History has shown that drug prohibition reduces neither use nor abuse. After a rapist is arrested, there are fewer rapes. After a drug dealer is arrested, however, neither the supply nor the demand for drugs is seriously changed. The arrest merely creates a job opening for an endless stream of drug entrepreneurs who will take huge risks for the sake of the enormous profits created by prohibition. Prohibition costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars every year, yet 40 years and some 40 million arrests later, drugs are cheaper, more potent and far more widely used than at the beginning of this futile crusade.

We believe that by eliminating prohibition of all drugs for adults and establishing appropriate regulation and standards for distribution and use, law enforcement could focus more on crimes of violence, such as rape, aggravated assault, child abuse and murder, making our communities much safer. We believe that sending parents to prison for non-violent personal drug use destroys families. We believe that in a regulated and controlled environment, drugs will be safer for adult use and less accessible to our children. And we believe that by placing drug abuse in the hands of medical professionals instead of the criminal justice system, we will reduce rates of addiction and overdose deaths.

This comes from an organization of individuals involved in law enforcement…

I suggest you read it again.  And maybe once more.

The Economic Cost

These are tough economic times.  Our government has run up debt that our children and grandchildren will not be able to pay back.  Some gift to our kids.  Cutting expenses and adding income should be of paramount concern.  We could achieve significant budget cuts to law enforcement agencies, the courts and the prison system, not to mention increased tax revenues from users and sellers if marijuana were re-legalized.

What About the Trees and Our Environment?

It has been widely speculated that marijuana became illegal at the behest of big business.  This is not the result of capitalism; it is the result of corporatism where business connives with government for control of a market segment.  I maintain that the American government is the best government…that money can buy.

Jeffrey Blum, an associate professor of law, in response to a request from a federal judge, contends that a significant reason for making marijuana illegal was to protect the interests of the paper and synthetic fiber industries from competition with hemp producers.

It has been calculated that hemp can produce, acre for acre, four times as much paper pulp as trees.

Bye-Bye Trees, Bye-Bye Rain Forests…

Hemp has many uses according to Hemp USA:

Hemp can be used to produce a very large variety of products from clothing to paper to building supplies to cars to fuels to food products to much, much more. Some people have called hemp the plant of 30,000 uses because it combines the utility of the soybean, the cotton plant and the Douglas Fir tree into one green package. Hemp is an environmental, renewable, reusable and recyclable resource.

Notable People Are More Openly in Favor of Re-legalization

While it goes without saying that many in movies, music and the arts, such as Tommy Chong, are publicly calling for the end of pot prohibition, there are a growing number of people, such as television host and activist Bill Maher, former US Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders, mega-businessman Richard Branson, author Stephen King, and congressman Ron Paul, who have joined the ranks.

Eve Conant writes:

Certainly, the Republican Party is a long way from becoming the Pot Party. Although a handful of conservative thinkers like Milton Friedman, George Shultz, and William F. Buckley have argued the merits of legalization over the years (Buckley even mocked those who called marijuana a gateway to addiction, saying it was “on the order of saying that every rapist began by masturbating”), most Republicans still oppose the idea.

These are influential people even if most Republicans still oppose it.  And to be fair, how many Democrats are openly calling for re-legalization?  Only the growing Libertarian Party openly supports re-legalization.

She continues:

Pundits like Fox News’s Glenn Beck and former judge Andrew Napolitano have also joined in the debate, on the pro-legalization side. “You know what, I think it’s about time we legalize marijuana. Hear me out for a second…” Beck told viewers in April. “We have to make a choice in this country. We have to either put people who are smoking marijuana behind bars, or we legalize it. But this little game we’re playing in the middle is not helping us, is not helping Mexico, and is causing massive violence on our southern border.”

I can’t say I am a fan of Mr. Beck, but he has that right.

In Closing

We each have a right to what we put into our bodies – will you continue to be told what you can and cannot do with your body?

You can bet that the mob and the cartels don’t want to see marijuana re-legalized – will you continue to support them?

Allowing hemp to be grown is much better for the planet than cutting down trees – will you continue to support environmental destruction?

American drug policies defy every sensibility when you look at the big picture.  They cause so much harm in so many aspects that I think future generations will be puzzled by our point of view.

Let’s change this.  Let’s grow-up.  It may not be a great leap forward, but a leap forward nonetheless.

Frankly,

Francis

References and Reading:

http://norml.org/

http://www.leap.cc/

http://franklyfrancis.com/?p=217

www.hempusa.org/hmps/articles/hemp-uses.html

http://www.voteindustrialhemp.com/

http://www.squidoo.com/famous-people-who-support-marijuana-legalization

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/10/25/the-conservative-case-for-legalizing-pot.html

http://www.friendsofcannabis.com/directory/

Hey Occupiers – Where’s the Beef?

Posted by Frankly Francis on October 23, 2011 under In The News, Social Issues/Politics | Read the First Comment

Photo by David Shankbone

“Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!”

What to Do
Here’s my suggested demand, specifically to Occupy Wall Street, but to my fellow Americans as well:

Investigate and Prosecute the Criminals Who Are Responsible For This Financial Mess!

Background
It is my understanding (from a radio broadcast) that there were 1,000 successful felony prosecutions during the Savings & Loans crisis in the 80’s.  The speaker then went on to say that in terms of the net worth lost by Americans; the current economic situation is 70 times worse than that…

YIKES!

Remember this, Dear Reader: Americans were massively opposed to the government bailing out its good time business buddies in the first place.

And try as you might, you really cannot rationally blame capitalism or free enterprise for this debacle because America hasn’t seen the true likes of either of those for a very long time.

Wouldn’t it seem logical, in light of all of this, that the prosecutors would be salivating?  I mean, where’s the beef?  Release the hounds!

Alas, it turns out that “Yes We Can” really means “No We Won’t.”

There has been no investigation or prosecution to speak of.

But why?

The Situation
As the constitution is currently interpreted, the government is responsible to create regulations for the conduct of business, and then to enforce those rules.

The Problem
By way of an analogy to sports, government is the officials, the referees.  Business is the players.  Without referees, common sense tells us that the players will not play fairly, just as common sense tells us that without rules business won’t play fairly.

Here’s the hitch: government is not satisfied with only being the referee.  It wants to, and does, play in the game too.  This creates an obvious conflict of interest problem.  How can the referee make impartial calls while also playing in the game?  How can the referee be a good player while having to officiate the game?

The Possible Outcomes of Investigation

  1. The government properly enforced its rules, but the financial sector committed fraud – then those responsible should be prosecuted.
  2. The government did not enforce its rules – then those responsible should be prosecuted.
  3. Both 1 and 2.

I’m all in with my money on 3.  Government and big business are in cahoots with each other at the expense of We, the People.  While we’re at it, the Federal Reserve should be thrown into the line-up as well.  Quantitative Easing, QE2, and Operation Twist have been elegant smoke screens.

I have truly come to believe that the American government is indeed the best government…that money can buy.

And that is why there has been no investigation or prosecution.

I’m not above being intrigued by conspiracy theories, but this is no conspiracy – it’s all been done in plain sight.  We are being fleeced openly on the street.  And so far, we’ve done a good job of taking it.

So I urge my friends of the Occupation to at least demand prosecution before you tire of your work.

Fight the Power Brothers & Sisters!

Frankly,

Francis

Here’s some interesting analysis for further reading:

http://money.msn.com/investing/what-wall-street-protesters-have-right-brush.aspx

The OWS website:

http://occupywallst.org/

When Rome, Decline as the Romans Do

Posted by Frankly Francis on July 30, 2011 under Social Issues/Politics | Read the First Comment

Where are we going and why am I in this handbasket?

…where indeed.

I have been watching with rapt attention as the economy, domestic and international, does a strange dance.  One that I have not seen in my lifetime.  It is fascinating to study.

History tells us that cultures rise and then they fall.  To our credit, we are putting more of the humane in our human development along the way, but it is apparent that we still haven’t licked the adage of “that which goes up must come down.”

The Glory that was Rome

The course of the Roman Empire is an interesting parallel to our own in America.  Most Americans do not think it, and many wouldn’t admit to it even if they knew it was true, but America is certainly more of an Empire than it is not.  It is my understanding that there is American military presence in over 100 countries.  American soldiers are fighting throughout the world.  America possesses the world’s reserve currency.  America influences the operations of countless numbers of countries.

Yes, Virginia, America is an empire.

Rome grew and grew, extending its influence to the reaches of the world.  Following the time old pattern, it established a bureaucracy and system of taxation that grew and grew.  Following the time old pattern, eventually, it grew to the point that it imploded upon itself.  That’s how it goes for empires.  So far, at least.

I’ve read that it took the Romans 200 years to devalue their currency by 95%.

Get This: America has been able to turn the purchasing power of a dollar into a nickel in less than a 100 years.

No government backed currency has ever stood the test of time before.  Never.  Ever.

How about some inconvenient truths:

- The U.S. national debt is growing at 4.1 billion dollars per day.

- On a per capita basis, each American is responsible for $ 46,660 of the current national debt.

- Worse yet, on an unfunded liability basis, each American is liable for $ 368,400.

- 48% of Americans earn so little that they do not pay any income tax.

- Neither of the political parties is offering a reasonable and realistic fiscal management plan that addresses the unsustainable debt and programs at all levels of government.  And they won’t.

- The European Union is an economic powder keg that could blow at any time.  The potential negative impact of this on the American economy should not be understated.

- U.S. states, cities, towns and localities are in growing economic distress, with no solution in sight.

- That’s not to mention rising consumer costs, that 1 in 4 children receive their food from the government, that the housing market is and will continue to be a disaster, and “real” unemployment is sky high.

“You can avoid reality.  But you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality” - Ayn Rand

Bleak, yes.  Hopeless, no.  Perhaps business and technology can get ahead of the government.

Perhaps.  But, in my opinion, what is necessary is for government to back down.  From my point of view, government has become the threat, not the solution.

Here are a few words from Bill Bonner:

“Bush didn’t tell Americans the truth about the terrorists. They were over here because we were over there, not the other way around. I mean, we’re not over there because they were over here.”

“The obvious and fastest way to balance the federal budget is to renounce the imperial agenda. It costs about $1.2 trillion a year to maintain troops all over the globe, to run Homeland Security, participate in 3 wars…and all the other things that go into being an empire. Congress and the president could simply announce that they no longer believed the empire was a worthwhile project. Presto, the budget would be balanced. Problem solved.”

I like the idea, as a first step, of solving our money problems by returning to our shores and concentrating on our own well being towards continuing the American Experiment.

From the song “These Boots Are Made for Walking,” I close with these prescient and profound words – “You keep samin’ when you oughta be a changin’”

Are you ready boots?

Frankly,

Francis

Let Kids be Kids

Posted by Frankly Francis on June 25, 2011 under Social Issues/Politics | Be the First to Comment

The problem with youth is that it is wasted on the young, to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw.

But does it need to be that way…in today’s age?

I think that most of us who survived our youth have said something like, “If I only knew then what I know now.”

Ah, there’s nothing quite so compelling as 20/20 hindsight.

Perhaps, just perhaps, today’s youth can have a better opportunity to enjoy their youth, if we let them.

In 1910, about 100 years ago, average life expectancy was 49.2 years.

If you were born in 2009, your average life expectancy is 78.7 years.

So, in a century we’ve added about 30 more revolutions around the sun to the average person.

It wasn’t that long ago that it made sense to be married and have a child by age 16, but those days are fortunately behind us.

Luongo - "Young Mother With Child"

We are living longer.  We should thoughtfully consider letting our kids grow-up longer.

I think that with the exponential advances in technology, we will soon be able to add another 30 years of life expectancy to newborns.  Could well be more.  Seriously.

But the exponential rate of technology is not without its cost.  There is a lot more to learn now than there used to be.

Yet, it seems that we are trying to push all the new knowledge into the same time frame that older adults were subjected to when they were kids.

That doesn’t make sense to me.

I see parents today vying to get their kids into the best pre-pre-school.  I know that they mean well, but it reminds me of the horrible images I have seen of children’s beauty pageants.

As a parent I find this painful

Frankly Francis suggests that we should let kids be kids a little longer than we used to.

With longer life expectancies and more to learn today, let them take the time to absorb it.

And give them the time to enjoy the process.  We have it to give.  We will all be the better for it.

Frankly,

Francis