I’ve been thinking.
An American 13 year old has never seen the United States not involved in some form of war, combat or violent act. Welcome to the USA children!
It would seem that we, the people, are more than willing to spend enormous sums of our money on military weapons. We are willing to use our military power all of the time all over the place.
We weren’t always like this. Nor do we have to be.
That’s what I’ve been thinking about.
I heard that we recently fired something like 40 cruise missiles at a secondary Al Qaeda organization. A cruise missile costs over a million smackeroos. That’s a lot of smackeroos!
The overthrow and execution of Saddam Hussein has cost at least $1.7 trillion dollars.
Benjamin Franklin observed that “Wars are not paid for during wartime, the bill comes later.”
That’s just money. How about the price paid in blood? What is that cost?
I am very much in favor of limited government, but if I must have Big Brother looking out for my best interests, then I say to Big Brother, and I mean it – I know that my best interest is living peaceably with everyone through social interaction and commerce.
The cool thing is that we have the resources and capability available in quantities large enough to effect some real change …
…So back to what I’ve been thinking: Instead of destruction and violence, how about bombing people with love? How about covert random acts of kindness? How about special ops teams committing senseless acts of beauty?
I have a feeling that the results would be much better for all concerned.
We are, after all, One Planet, One People.
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?
The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance
The Declaration of Independence
The Constitution of the United States of America
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:
Libertarian Party website:
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
I find myself more and more often in the midst of unhappy and uncivil people. There’s a certain element of being a good American and being abrasive, but there are reasonable alternatives too. I prefer common courtesy and civil politeness.
Fundamentally, we are all orbiting the sun together on the planet we call Earth. There are very big things out there more worthy of our time and consideration than the pettiness that we all too often spend our valuable time on.
Some specific observations:
It is never a good idea, under any circumstance, to piss-off the cook or waiter before you get your food. Anyone who has ever worked in the food service industry knows this. Trust me. And please tip your service staff generously if they serve you well.
All too often I have an idiot driver in front of me. More often than not it is an elderly person. Just remember, that could be your parent or grandparent and how would you like them treated by others? Once it actually was my parent. People of all ages have bad days and do stupid things while driving. I have, tell me that you haven’t…cut some slack.
If you go to a drive-thru window, expect to be screwed. That’s just the price we pay for convenience.
I’ve lived through the Modern Feminist Movement. I believe in equal pay for equal work. I know that there is a difference between men and women. Personally, I like that difference and respect it. Therefore, treating a woman, as a lady does not nullify any equality under the law, it just shows a respect for the other gender. Furthermore, I do not understand why women are more willing to be subjugated by popular culture today than they have in the past. As a man, I find it embarrassing. Makes no sense to me, but maybe I’m getting too long in the tooth….
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, never, ever, underestimate the power of a random act of kindness or a senseless act of beauty. It’s such a selfish thing to do because it feels so good. The “Pay it Forward” and “The Butterfly Effect” of doing something nice for someone – you just never know what good it will produce.