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We Can Trust Us November 25, 2011

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics.
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Listening to the lies of the politicians as presented by the prattle of the biased it is easy to lose hope in a secular sense.  My hope in an eternal sense is founded on the rock of an unshakable faith in Jesus and so it cannot be shaken.  However, in the secular resting, as it must upon the shifting sands of man in America today, hope as a measured commodity is all too often hopeless.  Seeking for hope in current events, a diamond among the discards and a point of light in a sea of darkness, is seeking something positive among the gathering gloom of an empire in eclipse.

I don’t know about you but I cannot focus on the negative trends of our current situation for long without at least contemplating depression and I don’t mean the economic kind.  I am thankful I have a peace that passes all understanding and a hope that cannot be taken away, and I am also glad that I have a sense of History which gives me a context to frame the Now.  For if all we have is the Now it can always be changed with the next headline, the next news bulletin or the next press release.  Having a historical context brings things into focus fitting the events of today into flow of time from yesterday to tomorrow.

Truth often becomes the victim of expediency.  For what seems true at the moment may end up as the lie of the hour.  Politicians bend truth like gravity bends light: the heavier the perceived need the greater the unperceived distortion.  Lies can become so widely believed that truth is swallowed in truism. As lies become the accepted wisdom of professional pundits chattering endlessly supporting that which ultimately must fall for those who seek to surf a tsunami into a safe harbor.  The news is filled with half-truths and as my second favorite philosopher, Anonymous once said, “Beware of half-truths, you may have gotten the wrong half.”

We live in a twilight time.  Twilight by definition is a time when two sources of light pierce the gloom, that quivering moment when both the sun and the moon hold back the darkness.  The darkness of confusion is dispelled by the brightness of the sun of truth but it is disputed by refracted light of the moon of opinion masquerading as truth.

Casting about for something solid in the midst of the swirling fog of conflicting facts, shifting observations, and contradictory visions in the secular sense I must focus on one thing: the people.  I trust the American people.  I trust them to make the right choice when presented with unvarnished reality.  I trust them to do what must be done to preserve the bequest of our forefathers for the inheritance of our posterity.

The Declaration of Independence was written to proclaim the righteousness of the actions of “One people” with the courage to declare to a world sold into bondage that our liberty was founded upon truth. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

We the People wrote the Constitution in order to perfect that which had been founded upon the truth.  “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

It is to this one people, this “We the people” that I look for secular hope, political peace, and the eventual solution to our current cultural conundrum. The popular definition of a conundrum is a problem without a solution.  However it also has another meaning, a riddle whose answer is or involves a pun.  Since I am referring to the second meaning I will present the riddle, “How is liberalism the solution to the problem of liberalism?”

In our through-the-looking-glass world politicians use actual truth to obscure the obvious truth.  Congressman Joe Early (D-Mass) at a press conference to answer questions about the House Bank scandal said, “They gave me a book of checks. They didn’t ask for any deposits.”  While I’m sure it is true he was given a book of checks, obviously one needs to make deposits if one is to honestly write checks.  In this same manner the leaders of our free country promote socialism as the solution to the problems socialism has caused knowing that you cannot honestly write checks if you don’t make deposits.  Capitalism makes the deposits and socialism wants to write the checks.  As Churchill said “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

We are awash in polls.  Every campaign and every major news source constantly trumpet polls many of which contradict each other.  No matter what the polls say I believe that the American people still believe in freedom.  I believe they still believe in the equality of opportunity and the opportunity of equality.  We all aren’t the same.  Each of us is born with a particular set of talents and each of us uses those talents in a certain way.  It is my belief, that given the level playing field of individual liberty and economic freedom, the vast majority of Americans will work hard to earn what they deserve.  This is my secular hope. Heaven on earth is not possible but given individual liberty and economic freedom inherently promised in the perfect union we the people sought to create we can at least avoid remaining in the hell of socialism the Progressives are currently foisting upon us, and as Churchill also said “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Oh, by the way, the answer to the riddle is that Classical Liberalism promotes the general welfare by promoting the limitation of government and the liberty of the individual in order to better serve the whole. Welfare Liberalism erodes the general welfare by expanding the government at the expense of the individual in order to better serve the individual.  Thus Classical Liberalism is the solution to the problems caused by Welfare Liberalism.  And that’s the truth which brings me to one last Churchill quote for the day, “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it. Ignorance may deride it. But in the end, there it is.”

Don’t be discouraged by the blather of the pontificating politicians or confused by the conflicting ruminations of the professional talkers. When all is said and done we can trust us.  We the people will eventually come down on the side of truth, justice, and the American way.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2011 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens

 

Organized Anarchy Leads to One Last Question November 18, 2011

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics.
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In the topsey turvey world of 21st century America those who live by the kindness of strangers wish to dictate how much kindness they deserve changing the strangers from benefactors to victims.  We have reached a point where our national motto should be “Stand and Deliver” as a runaway government devours everything in sight in an effort to satisfy the growing demands of their pre-programmed supporters.

America has taken such a bizarre turn that oxymorons are the only things that make sense any more.  Organized anarchy has exploited militant apathy to create regulated liberty so that producers must provide for slackers and the informed must follow the dictates of the willfully ignorant. You can’t fix stupid but there is a cure for ignorance.  If we could just get these products of public education and sports hypnosis to take off the blinders long enough to understand the meaning behind the matrix perhaps we could garner one more electoral victory to stop us before we step off the cliff.  Except of course the Corporations Once Known as the Mainstream Media are working as hard as they can to make sure our choice comes down to Tweedle De and Tweedle Dum.

Our Progressive era seeks to change the old adage, “Those who refuse to learn from History are doomed to repeat it” to “Those who refuse to learn from History doom the rest of us to repeat it.”  The patients have seized control of the asylum.  The land of the free and the home of the brave is transforming into the land of the free lunch and the home of the knaves.  Symbiosis is the living together in more or less intimate association or close union of two dissimilar organisms as in parasitism. What we are witnessing today is symbiosis on steroids wherein the parasite isn’t merely along for the ride but instead demands the driver’s seat.

Looking at the almost bewildering explosion of reality we call today our minds behold the organized anarchy of the occupy everywhere movement that is spreading around the world.  We are now witnessing a government supported revolution akin to Mao’s Cultural Revolution. This isn’t a revolt of the 99% seeking to devour the 1% it is the 46% that pay no federal taxes seeking to increase the production from their 54% milk cows. To call forcing one segment of the population to work to support another segment of the population paying your fair share makes theft a contribution and bondage a responsibility.

The people involved express a variety of causes.  They want a bailout for home owners who are upside down or in foreclosure.  At the same time they want those who accepted the bailout on Wall Street prosecuted.  They want student loans forgiven, wars stopped, big corporations downsized, and an end to capitalism.  Many politicians and their major media publicity machine have embraced the movement labeling it the Progressive version of the Ta Party.  This is a window on the future.  Showing the silent majority what is to come: a shabby world where the Lilliputians have not only bound Gulliver they have harnessed him to the cart and forced him to be their beast of burden.

By seeking the destruction of capitalism instead of seeking to break the umbilical cord between the crony capitalists and their bought and paid for politicians what they really seek is to force us to worship the myth of free enterprise as we sacrifice the energy and inventiveness of the productive on the altar of the indolent.

It is time to lay our cards on the table.  It is time to call a spade a spade.  Capitalism is an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined by competition in a free market.  Socialism is an economic characterized by collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.  Fascism is an economic system that exalts the nation above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government with severe economic regimentation.  Essentially fascism is socialism pretending to be capitalism since private ownership exists in a government straightjacket.

Which of these systems do we have?  Which of these systems is staring us in the face every day?

I challenge anyone and everyone to take this test.   Watch the stock market for one month.  Watch its ups and downs.  What you will see is that the market does not move because of innovation or production it moves in response to government actions, statements, and policies.  While we still have private ownership the government is increasingly regulating and controlling the economy.  Take the test.  Review the definitions above and you decide.  Which of these systems do we have?  Or does it have us?

America has never experienced a truly capitalistic system.  We were born under mercantilism. We grew to power under Henry Clay’s American System of nationalistic paternalism.  We have flirted with socialism in a mixed system since FDR reshuffled the deck and institutionalized the New Deal.  And now we struggle to maintain some visage of freedom at the edge of a crony capitalism whose Progressive public-private security blanket has become the pillow that smothers all incentive.  We have morphed from a representative republic operating on democratic principles into a state wholly owned by a good old boy coalition composed of the perpetually re-elected, the unions, and the crony capitalists: the Outfit.

The over educated under informed lemmings that call themselves the 99% are being duped by the Outfit.  They are a collective battering ram assailing the last remnants of American individualism.  They are using the threat of social unrest to demand the final triumph of “I want what I want” over “I get what I earn.”

What’s the cure for the Great Recession?  Is it more government spending and more government control as the Outfit and their 99% fellow-travelers tell us?  Is it “Drill baby drill” and a return to a golden-age of pure capitalism that never really existed?

First we must understand our situation.  What is the cause of the chronic state of our anemic recovery?  Is it as our president tells us and the world: Americans are soft, arrogant  and lazy?  Or have we finally reached the tipping point?  Have we finally reached the point where all the Peters being robbed to pay for Paul’s vacation have decided to change their name to Paul? Is this a recession or is it a strike?  The central planners look at the wreckage of a once great economy that their programs have gutted and say, “You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs.”  They should be asking “How many omelets can they make if the goose doesn’t lay any more golden eggs?”

Which leads to one last question: “Who is John Galt?”

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2011 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens

 

Let’s Conversate about the Argubate November 11, 2011

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics.
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A negotiation is the formalized give-and-take side of a conversation. The blending of the two, a negotiation with the less formal tone of a family discussion, is aptly termed in the dictionary of the way we speak as “to conversate.”

A debate is merely an argument dressed up in its Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes.  So whether we should call our current national dialog a debate or an argument depends upon the sensibilities of the writer and the reader.  For the purposes of fairness and inclusiveness I will therefore coin a new term, “Argubate.”

Has there ever been a time in American History when everyone at least seemed to agree on everything?

Yes, there was a brief interlude forgotten by all save Historians, a moment of forgotten peace in our raging sea of political passion.

In the overwhelmingly nationalistic years after the War of 1812 there was a brief period which saw a dramatic lowering of the heat in our perpetual political strife.  In the Election of 1816, James Monroe a Democratic Republican defeated the last of the Federalist candidates. Monroe and his policies were so popular and so well received that he won reelection in the Election of 1820 facing no opposition whatsoever.  This brief calm in the political storm is the popularly forgotten Era of Good Feelings.

Ever since that one brief lull in the ideological conflagration the battle has flared.  First one side and then the other are in the driver’s seat while the other side plots its eventual return to power.  It has only been by compromise that we have avoided a series of fratricidal wars.

Compromise today has a negative connotation for those on the limited government side of the aisle.  100 years of compromise with those who wish to progress past the limitations enshrined in our founding document have brought us to the strangulation of regulations and the oppression of an overwhelming central government.  However, compromise is still the only way to avoid the abyss which lies beyond our current position on the precipice of mutually exclusive partisanship.

Compromise is the only thing that will preserve our country from either splintering into pieces all the king’s horses and all the king’s men won’t be able to put together again, a-la the USSR or sinking into the type of gulag from which the Russians are still struggling to escape.

Beyond the eloquent explanations and focus-grouped sound bites compromise is essentially everyone doing what no one wanted.  Compromise can also be the tactic of any group that seeks to move ahead one step at a time.  Gain a little here and a little there until one inch at a time you have moved across the street.  And therein lays the problem.  The Progressives have used this tactic so often and for so long that the silent majority finally woke up to find their elected representatives had sold the cow for some magic beans.  It is hard to trust compromise when it has bargained away our heritage one new interpretation at a time.  However, the looming breakdown in civil discourse prompts me to urge a renewed effort to find some way to preserve the peace while preserving our freedom.

Compromise has a long history in America for we were born in compromise.

It was only due to the Great Compromise reached in Independence Hall that we have a Constitution.  The New Jersey Plan and the Virginia Plan were wedded to produce a compromise satisfying the desires of both the small states and the large states by creating a House of Representatives based upon population and a Senate with equal representation.

The Union was preserved twice by compromise.

By 1820 the division between the slave-holding South and the emancipated North was growing bitter.  The debate hinged upon the even division of the senate.  For every state admitted on one side the other side demanded a counterbalance.  When it came time to begin carving states out of the Louisiana Territory the Southern side was the first to advance to that stage, but the North could not abide admitting Missouri as a slave state since there was no free state ready for admission.  So the Missouri Compromise solved the problem and kept the peace.

Missouri was admitted as a slave state. Maine was separated from Massachusetts and admitted as a free state.  A line was drawn along the southern boundary of Missouri. Everything North of that would be free, and everything South of that slave. Thirty years later a new compromise held off war for another ten years.

The Compromise of 1850 was designed to address the sectional rivalry over slavery which was tearing our young nation apart.  It was in reality a series of five bills.  The compromise brought in California as a free state.  It allowed New Mexico and Utah to decide the slavery issue through a popular vote and gave Texas ten million dollars to pay its debt to Mexico for which it gave up lands claimed in present day New Mexico.  It abolished the slave trade in the District of Columbia and the Fugitive Slave Act which made it a federal crime for any federal official not to arrest a runaway slave.

This compromise only lasted four years when it was effectively repealed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act which once again opened the northern territories to the possibility of slavery and leaving the decision in the hands of the voters.  This led to increasing hostilities between the two sides culminating in John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry and the Civil War: the ultimate break down of America’s process of compromise.

The Civil War did not end America’s use of compromise to avoid permanent division.  Reconstruction, the occupation of the South by Northern armies after the Civil war, eventually led to an impasse with the threat of renewed conflict.  War was averted when the Compromise of 1877 gave a disputed election to a Republican president, an end of Reconstruction, and various offices and political gains to the Democrats.

Except for the fleeting Era of Good Feelings and those unusual and brief times when the same side controlled all three branches of government, America has moved forward by compromise.  For compromise, true compromise, not surrender dressed up in a palatable name, is the sweet spot where any group that is in reality two groups must dwell if there is to be peace, progress, and harmony.  Make no mistake, since the beginning America has ever been the home of two sides: the Patriots and the Loyalists, the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists, the Democratic Republicans and the Whigs, and those two rabid beasts we all love to hate the Democrats and the Republicans.

Instead of just shouting our mutually exclusive slogans at each other what we need is a dialogue across the no-man’s-land which separates our entrenched positions.  This article is an attempt to urge both sides to realize neither side has the support to dominate the other long enough to legislate let alone legitimize total victory.  If we can get beyond shouting slogans at each other perhaps we can find our way to a compromise that will allow us to continue as the last best hope of humanity.  If not, we may well slide into the shabby collectivism which shackles the rest of the globe.

Is there anything we can agree on?  Is there any way forward?  Can we at least conversate about the argubate?  I say this realizing that in our current atmosphere of hyper-partisanship this call for compromise will probably make neither side happy.  However, I am willing to be dammed if I do and dammed if I don’t in an attempt to preserve the peace if we can do so while preserving our freedom.  Keep the Faith.  Keep the Peace.  We shall overcome.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2011 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens

 

Who Votes for Democracy? November 4, 2011

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Uncategorized.
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Democracy! Democracy! Democracy! This is the mantra that we hear from Tahrir Square to Yemen from Belarus to Wall Street protestors are on the march around the world demanding Democracy!

Democracy has long been the cover for all manner of despotic totalitarian regimes creating hellholes for their own people and nightmares for the rest of us.  One needs only to recall that even though the popular myth of Hitler being elected is demonstrably false, he lost the only election he ever ran in, he was however appointed Chancellor in 1933 after his Nazi Party became the largest single party through democratic elections.  His ghoulish regime achieved total power when 90% of the German people voted to make Hitler the Führer or undisputed dictator of their nation. And who can forget the many Democratic People’s Republics that have graced the world with their despotic presence, East Germany, Cuba, Laos, Vietnam and North Korea.  The cover of democracy and the votes of the people have been used to legitimize the most insidious forms of human depravity.

It is popular among conservatives to decry the nation-wide and world-wide demand for democracy as if it were something new under the sun.   It is also popular to point out that the United States of America was founded as a representative Republic not as a Democracy.  The representative nature of the Republic was enshrined in both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.  The difference is proudly pointed out that we are a representative republic which operates on democratic principles NOT a democracy.

It is not quite as popular to point out that though our representative Republic has always operated on democratic principles in the beginning that democracy did not spread out very far.  The franchise was restricted only to males of the Caucasian persuasion who owned a certain amount of property.   The dirty little secret teachers of American History Survey classes fought for years to keep from their impressionable students was that even though Wilson led America into fighting World War I to make the world safe for democracy and FDR led us into World War II as the Arsenal of Democracy the Founders of our country went to great lengths to protect our Republic from the perils of democracy.

Examples of the Founders distaste for democracy are easy to find:

James Madison said, “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

John Adams said, “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide” and, “The experience of all former ages had shown that of all human governments, democracy was the most unstable, fluctuating and short-lived.”

Alexander Hamilton said, “It has been observed that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity.”

The circle of American democracy was at first drawn closely around the ruling circle of intellectuals, lawyers and men of property because they feared the tyranny of those unable or unwilling to learn the rudiments of History, Economics or Governance.  However, as time passed spurred on by a combination of their desire to participate and the cajoling of those who wanted to rule them people began to agitate for an extension of the franchise and for one reason or another the circle began to expand until by the 1830s throughout the United States most Caucasian males could vote.  By comparison in Britain at the same time less than 10% could vote.

The watchword in America became democracy, not in the speeches of the first Progressives in the 1890s but in the voices of their great grandfathers in the second generation after our Revolution.  Within a generation leadership passed from Washington, Jefferson, Madison and other statesmen with grand visions of liberty and freedom to partisan leaders of political factions.  The stirring and deeply reflective tone of the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers was replaced by clever slogans designed to move the masses and win votes.

Alexis de Tocqueville is often quoted to show the high state of American involvement and participation in the democratic process.  He is less often quoted in his assessment of that process, “The most able men in the United States are very rarely place at the head of affairs.”  He pointed to the character of a democracy where people ignored important issues, disdained intellectuals who were informed of these issues and instead were moved by “the clamor of a mountebank [a demagogue] who knows the secret of stimulating their tastes.”

In the recent past President Bush in 2005 during his second inaugural speech declared the doctrine that bears his name by saying, ‘‘it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.’’ Since that time democratic elections have brought us Hamas as the elected representatives of the Palestinian People, Islamists have won the first post-Arab Spring election in Tunisia and who can forget that Hugo Chavez has won multiple elections in Venezuela and then there is our new partner in our latest military adventure Yoweri Museveni Uganda’s President-for-Life who was democratically elected as was his more famous predecessor Idi Amin Dada.

The democratic revolution which began in America a generation after the establishment of our representative Republic has grown through the roughshod years of Jackson, the tax, tax, tax, spend, spend, spend, elect, elect, elect days of FDR and has morphed into the Occupy Everywhere movement currently polluting our cities and clamoring for the predictable goal of pure democracy, “From each according to their ability to each according to their need.”

We are witnessing the tyranny not of the majority but instead of the majority of voters coming to fruition.  In America in a typical election only 50% or less of eligible voters bothers to cast their ballot.  Many congressional districts are gerrymandered into personal possessions, local counties, cities and states belong to good-old-boy networks and the Senate is the province of millionaire media stars.  The uninformed elect the unqualified to give them what is unearned.

Or as our old friend Alexis de Tocqueville also said, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”

The democratic revolution begun in America 200 years ago has circled the globe.  The leaders of the Egyptian revolutionaries have come to New York to join the protesters at Zuccotti Park to chant, the mantra, “Democracy Now!”  Looking at the paradise on earth replicated from New York to Oakland in these demonstrations supported by the unions, Democrats and the President I only have one question, “Who will vote for that?”

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2011 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens

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