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.
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.
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.
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…
“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?
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.
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.
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.
I had a real good idea what this book would say – I figured it would be preachin’ to the choir. Mostly because of that, I really took my time getting around to reading it. Published in 1979, I let it languish in my library for almost 30 years. Well, as it turns out, it was indeed preachin’ to the choir. And this choir really enjoyed the preachin’ it got.
Not to exclude Rose Friedman, but…
Here’s my take: Milton Friedman valued our individuality. He felt that the collective acts of individuals pursuing their own interests would provide much more, in terms personal satisfaction and economic resources than the results of individuals acting in a collective. It follows then, his basic tenet that without economic freedom, there cannot be political freedom.
The fusion of economic and political freedom becomes the optimum result. Note, Friedman was much too realistic to advocate utopia – he certainly knew that there was no perfection in any approach, but held firmly to the value of recognizing each individual life as having a value that exceeded that of the state. Frankly Francis says: True That!
A few thoughts directly from Friedman:
“A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both”
“One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results”
“I think the government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem and very often makes the problem worse”
“I say thank God for government waste. If government is doing bad things, it’s only the waste that prevents the harm from being greater”
Here’s a quote about Friedman by George Schultz that I think is worth aspiring to – “Everyone loves to argue with Milton, particularly when he isn’t there.”
Milton was philosophically a libertarian. Politically, he was a Republican, but that, he explained was for expediency, perhaps much the same as Congressman Ron Paul.
During his lifetime he was recognized with the John Bates Clark Medal (1951), the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics (1976), and in 1988, both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Science. Big Stuff!
I must say that as reading Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” strengthened my existing perceptions, reading Freidman solidified my existing beliefs.
It is distinctly your own unique and wonderful life – Do yourself a real favor and read this book.
There is no greater priority; Energy Independence is my Number One issue. Actually, now that I think of it, Energy Abundance would be even better. We could trade our surplus energy to a world in fast growing need of it. Trade balances would quickly swing our way for a long overdue change.
And let me give you my point of view straight-up: Energy self-sufficiency is more important to me today than clean emissions. I’m willing to gamble that if we can develop the technology to become energy independent, we will have no trouble developing the proper ecology cleansing technology as well.
Note also that I strongly believe that we should be a good neighbor on the planet that we inhabit. I hope it won’t be too long before we all readily agree that throwing pollutants into the planet is just as dumb as throwing waste on the streets where we live.
Nietzsche said, “From chaos comes order,” which I consider a semi-no-brainer. I would counter it with, “From chaos comes profit.” One person’s waste may profitably be another person’s living.
Lack of geographical frontiers can be potentially deeply vexing to our species – this is really the first time in recorded history that there are no more readily available lands to explore and inhabit. So we must change our focus to other frontiers. This may be the most wonderful time in our history to be American.
T. Boone Pickens is sure behaving like an American! And I’m glad that he is fundamentally a cowboy, whether he is right or wrong. Let’s bring on more Yankee Ingenuity.
President Kennedy boldly asserted in the early 60’s that we would land a man on the moon before 1970 – a goal that was pretty far fetched at the time. The nation became properly challenged and powerfully motivated. We did it.
Lincoln asserted, “No man stands still, he either moves ahead or falls behind.” I believe Honest Abe was correct in that observation. So it is true with nations.
In conclusion, I do not suggest the foregoing to push for an isolationist future; I just think that we should not be dependent upon other earthlings.
I’ve been suspicious about the sage financial advice provided by the media, especially from people that yell a lot. The Daily Show’s segment (above) confirms my cynicism.
I am amazed that the media, and the government as well, can so easily get away with such abuse of fiduciary responsibility. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem that the American people really care about it either…Could there be a connection?