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The Nature of Things November 21, 2013

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics.
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When my grandmother was born a horse was the normal means of transport.  When my granddaughter was born the International Space Striation was the brightest light in the night’s sky. In other words, things change.   When I sat on the couch and watched the first man walk on the moon with my grandmother she didn’t believe it was real.  When I tell my low information neighbors that the International Space Striation is the brightest light in the night’s sky they don’t believe it is true.  In other words, human nature doesn’t change.

To allow our leaders, our fellow citizens, our own kith and kin the charitable label of misguided dreamers is the closest I can come to innocently explaining their roles as either accomplices or instigators of our national decline.  I try to tell myself they are as Lenin and Stalin are reputed to have called them, “Useful Idiots:” well-meaning people who genuinely believe central planning will help the needy.  I try not to let myself think the Progressives and their supporters are actually extremely corrupt and evil people who are actively attempting to transform our beloved experiment in freedom into another forced labor camp striving to achieve Utopia.

The problem with utopian dreams is that they always end in dystopian realities.  Lenin’s dream of a worker’s paradise transformed itself into Stalin’s nightmare of the gulags, starvation, and the eventual destruction of their nation.  Mussolini’s dream of a return to the glories of Rome led directly to the loss of the empire they had and the destruction of their nation.  Hitler’s dream of a Thousand Year Reich led directly to the Gestapo, the holocaust, the worst war in History, and the destruction of their nation.

How can we believe we can follow a dream of utopia to any other end than the one everyone else has arrived at: the dust bin of History?

Some may say, “But we are Americans, and we have always done the things others could not do.”  You will find no more ardent believer in American Exceptionalism than I.   I truly believe, not that diversity is our strength but instead that the blending of all into a uniquely American hybrid has created the most talented, most dynamic, and most successful nation the world has ever known.  It is not the will or the talents of our homegrown American collectivists that I question; it is the very nature of collectivism that I maintain makes the accomplishment of their utopian dream impossible.

People can have the best of intentions; however, if they believe they can take from Peter to pay Paul without making Peter resent the fact that he has less than he had before they don’t know Peter very well.  And if they think they can set Paul up as a perpetual recipient of the swag taken from Peter without creating a pool of Paul’s who constantly want more and who resent those who do the distributing they have never worked in a soup kitchen, a food bank, or a giveaway store for more than a day.

The vast majority of people are not by nature altruistic milk cows, and they resent it when that is how they are viewed by the nameless faceless bureaucracy necessary to make the machinery of utopia crank out the shabby imitation they deliver.  Conversely the vast majority of people are not by nature perpetual mooches content to stand with their hands out waiting for the nameless faceless bureaucracy to deliver the bare minimum needed to survive which is always the bounty that actually drops from the utopian extruder.

I contend that a collectivist redistribution Utopia whether it is called Progressive, Socialist, Communist, Fascist, or merely the right thing to do is contrary to the nature of humanity.

People by nature want to be self-reliant.  They want to make things better for themselves and their children.  People want to strive for something noble, and they want to feel as if their lives matter.  Yet in an industrial world divided into haves and have nots it is easy to understand how the frustration of being a have not can convince someone that there needs to be a more equitable division of the material goods which modern civilization abundantly provides.

Having come from a blue collar family and having spent the majority of my life as a self-employed boom or bust house painter I can well relate to not having health insurance because you can’t afford it, I couldn’t.  I can relate to having mornings where you don’t know what you will feed your family that night because I have had those days.  I know what it is like to be a high school dropout who can’t get anything except a menial low paying job, because I have been that person.  Yes, I can relate to the situations which might make a person believe we need to spread the wealth around.

I also know what it feels like to have to get food stamps and other things from public and private assistance just to make it through the day because I have done so.  I know how the welfare people make you feel, the way they treat you as if you are trying to take their personal money or the condescension of pity.

What I can’t relate to is either thinking it is a good thing to consign our fellow citizens to such a life or to being satisfied with such a life.

Not only does a welfare state corrupt both the dispensers and the recipients it carries the seeds of its own destruction. Eventually the recipients will want more than the dispensers are willing to give, and revolution or collapse will be the end result.

In addition, since redistribution as a state policy always means stealing from Peter to pay Paul, ultimately the thief will need a gun.  Though Peter may be a nice person and at first say, “Sure I can contribute something to help poor old Paul,” if poor old Paul never gets back on his feet sooner or later Peter will wonder why Paul doesn’t start providing for himself.  At that point the contributions are no longer voluntary and they must be taken one way or another.  There is also the question of how many Pauls can Peter carry without either shrugging like Atlas or becoming a Paul himself in self-defense. As Margret Thatcher taught us, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

Plunder empires always collapse.  Utopias always end up eating the goose that laid the golden egg.  Central planning and collectivism: the Progressive dream for a Great Society has never, can never, and will never succeed. It just isn’t natural.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

Step by Step Inch by Inch November 15, 2013

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics.
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How do you fundamentally transform a nation from what it has been to what a clique of ideologues wants it to be?  The easiest way is to convince the general population that what the would-be masters want is what the people want.  Those seeking to subvert a culture must take a long view.  They must realize that this will be a multistage project that will take generations to achieve.

As an example that will strike home and ring true to every engaged American let’s look at how the Progressives have incrementally moved us from the best educated, most politically engaged population in History to a flock of militantly apathetic fans.  Couch potatoes waiting for the next game or reality show unaware how our government operates and impatient with anyone who tries to explain it to them.  How did they nudged us from the most self-reliant people in the world to a line of people waiting hat in hand for the next transfer payment?

The first goal was the educational system.  Capture that and it was possible to raise up generations who either thought as they did or who didn’t think at all.  Dumb it down, exchange confused thinking for critical thinking and soon the people who once asked hard questions will swallow easy answers.  The best place to start is at the colleges and universities.  If you can convince a generation of teachers that the snake-oil you’re selling will cure everything you will soon have them indoctrinating generations that the sickness is really the cure.

A target of particular interest is of course was journalism schools.  Once these schools become factories churning out carbon copies it isn’t necessary to have an official propaganda ministry. The journalists themselves will self-censor anything that doesn’t fit the reality they imbibed along with the Kool-aide.  Once the editorial boards and the human resource departments are filled with clones none but clones need apply.  Today the portals of American media are filled with people who don’t even know someone who is pro-life.  They don’t know anyone who sympathizes with the Tea Party.  So those on the other side are always the other.  There is no understanding or compassion for thoughts and ideas they find foreign and alien even though they represent the thinking of the majority of Americans.  So as we cling to our Bibles and our guns the megaphones of the public discourse represent mainstream America as a fringe while holding up a cross section of the Jerry Springer Show or the Gong Show as the new normal.

The next target in America’s transition from a society built upon individualism, self-reliance and innovation into a centrally-planned experiment in utopian collectivism might have been the hardest or it might have been the easiest: capitalism itself.

As layer after layer of regulations entangled the economy there came a tipping point.   This was reached when government interference in the economy became the dominant feature.  Then business decisions were no longer made because they were right but instead because of how they intersected with government policy.  Look at the stock market today.  It no longer moves due to innovation or even speculation it instead moves like a marionette to the strings pulled by the Federal Reserve.  It reacts to real, perceived or imagined government actions.

No longer do we have Henry Fords or J. D. Rockefellers moving and shaking the economy to build industries.  Now we have crony capitalists who use their connections to get sweetheart deals, tax subsidies and bailouts.   Too Big to Fail has replaced Laissez-faire and it is no longer what you know but who you know that brings success in America.

The most insidious aspect of this incremental transformation of America is what it has done to truth.  Once thought to be an objective reality, in a centralized utopia truth must become whatever endorses and supports the efforts to reach the designated goals.  If necessary, good becomes bad, up becomes down and dark becomes light if that is what is required to make the assumptions and conclusions of the planners plausible.

War becomes peace.  Inequality becomes equality.  Pork becomes stimulus.   Stonewalling and taking the fifth becomes the most transparent administration in history and the destruction of the greatest health system ever known becomes affordable care.

As the meanings of words change it becomes increasingly hard to hold an intelligent conversation, because no one is sure what anyone else means.  This cannot be viewed as the natural evolution of language.  This is a direct by-product of the effort to centrally-plan a society.  Since all efforts must be bent to the centrally directed goals all thoughts must be shaped to conform to the politically correct thoughts of the leaders.  All other thoughts become suspect and are held up to ridicule.

The prevailing mood of cynicism and the general intellectual climate that this produces brings about the loss of even the meaning of truth.  Truth becomes relative.  It is wholly dependent upon political considerations as the spirit of independent inquiry itself disappears.   Under the constant barrage of the all-embracing central government and their willing allies in the media the belief in the power of rational conviction fades from view and only the official line seems to make sense to those who through either apathy or complacency swallow the party line and march in lock-step from freedom to serfdom.

The desire to force people to accept a creed and to salute the flag is nothing new.  What is new is the justification for doing so that lies at the basis of our current round of communal thought control.  It is believed by some that there is no real freedom of thought in any society at all.  The thoughts of the masses have always been and will always be shaped by what we now call propaganda or governmental advertising by the laws and regulations of the leaders and the example of the upper classes.  Those who wish to regiment thought and control opinion act as if since this is so it is incumbent upon them to direct the thoughts of the masses into a desirable direction.  Or in other words a direction that supports the movement towards the goals and objectives previously chosen by the central planners.

Incrementally, step by step, inch by inch the highly individualistic descendants of the pioneers have become a mob clamoring for bread and circuses.  Dependent upon government for their very livelihood a large portion, perhaps a majority of the electorate, eagerly embrace the thinking needed to justify robbing their fellow citizens through transfer payments to subsidize their lifestyle.  Society becomes rigid and any deviance from the proscribed way of thinking is ostracized.  Any attempt to break free of the stranglehold of political correctness on the thoughts and opinions of a once free people must be punished.   The best that we can hope is that since we have gone step by step and inch by inch eventually, slowly we will turn.

In George Orwell’s classic 1984 it was the thought police that monitored and directed the thoughts of an entire nation.  On a smaller scale the sadistic captain of the chain-gang in Cool Hand Luke phrased it this way when referring to people who tried to break out of the system, “You run one time, you got yourself a set of chains. You run twice you got yourself two sets. You ain’t gonna need no third set, ’cause you gonna get your mind right.”

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

Political Action Follows Political Philosophy November 8, 2013

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics.
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The vast majority of human action reflects the thoughts, beliefs, and feelings of the actor.  There have always been and there will always be those whose actions are erratic or divorced from reality.  The actions of this small minority are best ascribed to pathology not philosophy.  For the rest of us we think therefore we are.  What we think about today we act upon tomorrow.

In the realm of political action this holds true.  The philosophies propagated today may not bear fruit or even appear to germinate during the lifetime of those who share them.  However, if they resonate with the thoughts, beliefs and natures of others they will bring forth a harvest in due time.

The time and effort involved in producing a coherent and logical body of work in the field of political philosophy may feel like a fool’s errand or wasted effort to the author working away often without recognition and in seclusion, never seeing the validity of their thoughts acknowledged by their peers or their intended audience.  However, anyone involved in such an effort needs to have a long view and the fortitude to plant so that others may harvest.

Having prefaced my thoughts and illuminated my actions let me plant some seeds.

For my entire life I have had Progressive instructors, politicians, friends and relatives admonish me that the reason for subverting the greatest experiment in human personal liberty, individual freedom and economic opportunity in the History of humanity is that we need to provide for the less fortunate.  They often refer to providing some type of economic security for those who cannot provide for themselves.  They often mean the leveling of society so that there is a minimum level of economic security.

The problem with “economic security” is that the term is so vague how do we know when it has been achieved?  Much like a war on terror it is open ended and can be interpreted in many ways.  What is considered economic security to one may not be to another.

If by economic security we mean security with regard to physical needs and a minimum amount of food that is one thing.  If by economic security we mean the guarantee of a certain standard of living or a pre-assigned social status we are speaking of something else altogether.

It seems clear that any society which has achieved the levels of sophistication and civilization that we have should be able to provide for the basic needs of our citizens who cannot take care of themselves without endangering the freedom of all.  There will be debates as to the levels of help which should be provided; however as to the belief that we should not allow our fellow citizens to starve or freeze I believe we are all agreed.

These questions will undoubtedly cause political debate and they may even cause tempers to flare; however that there is some minimum standard all will agree.  These minimum standards of economic security can be provided to those who cannot provide for themselves without endangering the wider economy and without unduly infringing upon the liberty of the productive members of society.

However, any attempt to guarantee the pre-assigned social status of anyone, or any group, the attempt to provide for those who can provide for themselves and choose not to do so will inevitably cause so many dislocations in the economy and require so many regulations both personal freedom and economic opportunity will be severely restricted.

This is where the debate heats up.  We have those who believe our society can and should protect and provide for those who cannot protect and provide for themselves and those who wish to use social welfare for social engineering.

The levels of taxation and regulation needed to support the minimalist approach can easily be borne by our society and our economy without compromising our freedom if they are applied evenly and fairly.  A flat tax without loopholes, subsidies or any of the other trappings of crony capitalism does nothing to inhibit innovation, enterprise, or competition.  Regulations requiring the equal treatment of individuals or the setting of safety or access levels likewise do not detract from opportunity as long as they are universally applied.

However, to attain the maximized levels of central-planning required to impose a Utopian vision of equality of outcome on any society require so many regulations and such high levels of taxation that they effectively strangle innovation, enterprise and competition.  Why couldn’t that gigantic prison house of nations, the USSR, compete with the United States?

Because they professed to seek a society wherein everyone was equal at all times.  Did they accomplish it?  No. The ruling Communists simply replaced the ruling hereditary aristocracy.  They killed millions to improve life.  They destroyed the incentive and creativity of their people in an effort to produce a more productive economy by fiat instead of freedom.  They eventually made working for the collective so meaningless that a common saying was, “They pretend to pay us so we pretend to work.”  Citizens ended up with worthless money, empty stores and services such as health care that only worked for the privileged government workers.   In any society that robs Peter to pay Paul eventually everyone changes their name to Paul.

As dire as the results have always been for Utopian experiments it is the morality of attempting to level society that needs to be questioned.  I contend that competition is a fundamental quality of humanity.  Striving to improve, to provide for one’s self and one’s family are basic instincts, and when governments interfere with these in an effort to ensure the success of some they have to limit the success of others.

This has a butterfly effect where a regulation for a positive action here about that affects something else over there about this negatively.  Multiply this many thousands of time and we have a cascading effect that restricts opportunity except for those who direct the effort to achieve the equality of all.  Or as the last remaining commandment at the animal farm eventually said, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

No one is as smart as everyone.  No set of central planners seeking the improvement of some can substitute their decisions for the millions of decisions made by free individuals seeking their own improvement.  It just won’t work.  It never has and it never will.  Therefore I contend that if it is inherently detrimental to society as a whole and since it is impossible to achieve it is immoral to attempt.

Man was created with free choice.  This is our fundamental nature.  Therefore what goes against that nature is contrary to the truth of who man is or is meant to be.

That the darker side needs to be restrained is generally agreed.  Every society condemns murder.  Even thieves have a code; at home they know theft is wrong.  Children should be protected and provided for as should those who cannot protect or provide for themselves.  No people has prospered or advanced by leaving their poor to starve or their sick to die.

Likewise no people have ever successfully built a society on the pipedream of equality of outcome.  All that has ever produced is the fever dream of a socially engineered stagnant society where the government picks winners and everyone except the choosers and the chosen few end up losers.

The idea that man is meant to be free birthed this country.  No matter how far we fall beneath the Progressive avalanche of regulation, taxation, and corruption this idea will one day once again take flight.  As long as there are those who will propagate the philosophy the action will one day follow.  Just as sure as a sunrise always follows the darkest night someday a free America will rise from the ash heap of History to which socialism inevitably leads.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Uncivil War November 1, 2013

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics.
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In American schools the Civil War is a one trick pony.  It was all about slavery and that is all it was about.

There can be no doubt that slavery was a blight upon the History of the United States.  It was incompatible with the inspiring words of our Declaration of Independence, “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.”

The very idea of chattel slavery wherein one person can own another and their children, and their children’s children unto the furthest generation is an abomination.   The South saw this as their peculiar institution, and they had built an entire culture upon slavery as an economic necessity. For a variety of reasons even the Southern Churches supported and attempted to justify the practice.  However, all of this being said slavery was not the only issue at stake in the Civil War.

There was one other that took center stage in the minds of many: State’s Rights.

In the decades that had passed since the ratification of the Constitution slavery had been steadily abolished in the Northern states while remaining prevalent in the South.  This inexorably led to the issue of slavery becoming intertwined in the issues of States Rights, Federalism and the growing power of the Federal Government.

The proponents of States rights appealed to the 10th Amendment which states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  This had been added to the original Constitution due to the intellectual and political pressure from the Anti-Federalists.  This Amendment was meant to reassure people of the limited nature of the Federal government and that with the few exception specifically delegated to the Federal Government by the States the States and the people were free to continue exercising their sovereign powers.

President Lincoln did not see the Civil War as a war to end slavery until that became necessary to stop European powers from recognizing the South.

Lincoln said in his 1st Inaugural Address, “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”

Lincoln was on record as saying, “”My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause.”

Lincoln also said, “Do the people of the South really entertain fears that a Republican administration would, directly, or indirectly, interfere with their slaves, or with them, about their slaves? If they do, I wish to assure you, as once a friend, and still, I hope, not an enemy, that there is no cause for such fears.”  Obviously his object was to maintain the Union at all costs and ending slavery (or not) was to him merely a means to that end.

That Lincoln himself was on record as believing that the invasion of the States was unlawful is shown by another quote from his 1st Inaugural Address, “That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend; and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.”  Yet in this same address he proclaims his belief that the Union is perpetual and the he has sworn an oath to preserve it.

However there were very basic and foundational problems with the entire effort to preserve the Union.  For one thing it was known by all that it was a voluntary union entered into by sovereign States.  It was also known that the Federal Government only has those powers which are expressly delegated.  Nowhere in the document does it say the Federal Government has the power to force States to remain in the Union.

In addition, three states—New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia included “resumption clauses,” which would allow the states to leave the union to “resume” their status as independent states.

New York declared, “That the Powers of Government may be reassumed by the People, whensoever it shall become necessary to their Happiness.”

Rhode Island said, “That the powers of government may be reassumed by the people whensoever it shall become necessary to their happiness.”

Virginia stated, “Do in the name and in behalf of the People of Virginia declare and make known that the powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the People of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression.”

Everyone loves to quote Lord Acton when he says things like, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Or, “Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end.”

Most are not aware of the correspondence that took place between Lord Acton and Robert E. Lee after the Civil War.  In that correspondence Lord Acton said, “I saw in State Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy. The institutions of your Republic have not exercised on the old world the salutary and liberating influence which ought to have belonged to them, by reason of those defects and abuses of principle which the Confederate Constitution was expressly and wisely calculated to remedy. I believed that the example of that great Reform would have blessed all the races of mankind by establishing true freedom purged of the native dangers and disorders of Republics. Therefore I deemed that you were fighting the battles of our liberty, our progress, and our civilization; and I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo.”

To which Lee answered, “I yet believe that the maintenance of the rights and authority reserved to the states and to the people, not only essential to the adjustment and balance of the general system, but the safeguard to the continuance of a free government. I consider it as the chief source of stability to our political system, whereas the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.”

I know that States Rights has been tarred with the broad brush of racism; however, I reject that attempt to restrict the speech of a free people along with all of the strangulating impediments of political correctness.

America was designed to be a federal republic which operates on democratic principles.  The continuing attempts to curtail the freedom of actions of the States and to transform the United States into a centrally-planned democracy run counter to our founding documents, our History, and, our nature.

Here’s another Lord Acton quote people seem to overlook, “Socialism means slavery.”

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

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