The War On….[Fill In The Blank]

We as a nation have waged war on poverty, drugs, obesity, terrorism, illiteracy and much more.  Where has that gotten us?

Back in the 70’s the Department of Energy was created to combat our dependence on foreign oil and reduce the price of gasoline.  How is that working for us?  We are still paying around $30 Billion every year to support the DOE, which employs over 15,000 federal employees and over 100,000 private contractors.  Are we any less dependent on foreign oil than we were in 1977 when the agency was crated?  It doesn’t appear that we are.

OK, maybe to war on drugs is doing better…after all, if we get someone off of heroin and substitute (taxpayer subsidized) methadone for the “illegal” drug we are making progress, right?  There is obviously less of a drug problem today then there was in 1914 when the Harrison Tax Act was passed, right?  Oh, wait, maybe not!  But Pat Nixon’s “Just Say NO” program was highly successful…NOT!  Again, we are throwing money at a problem that won’t go away.  Humans have been chemically augmenting their consciousness since the first man ate a fermenting piece of fruit. Today we have millions of Americans locked in cages (that we are footing the bill for) because they were found in possession of a “controlled substance.”  But what is the difference between someone smoking marijuana or drinking alcohol?  Nothing, except that one is legal and the other is not.  One could argue that we are saving them from themselves, but freedom gives the individual the right to poison their body with chemicals if they so choose…provided they don’t endanger others in the process.  What the war on drugs has done is create an underground, a crime syndicate, that actually increases the threat to society instead of making it safer.  Look at what happened during prohibition!

How about the war on terrorism?  Are we safer today than we were 10 years ago?  How about 20 or 30 years ago?  We have freely given up our liberties in an attempt to make ourselves feel safer, but are we really more secure?  If a terrorist wanted to poison our food supply or disrupt our lives they would not be deterred by these “feel good” measures that only give the illusion of security. Does a gated community really keep criminals out?  No, it just makes us FEEL safer.  The reality is that we, each and every individual, are the ones responsible for keeping ourselves, our communities and our country safe.

There is no way to wage war on an idea, an object or an action.  There is no way to ensure that bad things won’t happen to good people.  There is, however, the ability to be prepared for unexpected or adverse circumstances.  In fact, it is your responsibility as an adult to do so.  We prepare by doing things like saving money for emergencies, keeping fire extinguishers in places where they could be needed, using smoke detectors, keeping gas in our car, being aware of our surroundings and what others in the vicinity are doing, etc.  So in essence, we wage a war every day.  We do things to prevent catastrophes and if the unexpected happens and we need to react we try to be ready.  That is the real war on….[fill in the blank].

Do The Ends Justify The Means?

It has been held by some as common knowledge that the end result, if for the “greater good” will justify doing things that would otherwise be classified as unacceptable behavior.  But is this really the case?  I was stopped in a sobriety checkpoint recently and from what research I have been able to do online this activity is deemed legal in many states under specific circumstances.  However, if one reads the US Constitution these  random traffic stops are no where near legal and violate the individual’s Constitutional rights.  Remember, the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution to reiterate things that were held to be God given or inherent natural rights that could not be granted or denied by man or government.

So how do the courts justify allowing this activity to transpire?  The guise is that it prevents traffic deaths due to drunk drivers and therefore the end justifies the means.  However the “studies” conflict and many do not back up the claim.  Some say that only 1% of those who are checked at DUI roadblocks are charged with driving while impaired.  By comparison, 2.5% are ticketed for “other infractions” which is still a very low percentage of those stopped.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s own data shows that the police catch drunk drivers three times more often while on routine patrol than they do in these questionable checkpoints.  It could be argued as well that the expense of setting up these roadblocks is unreasonable, especially given their lack of effectiveness.

So why do we tolerate this behavior?  No one wants to see injuries or death due to drunk driving or any other careless activity.  But is violating everyone’s right to unencumbered passage, freedom from unwarranted search or being detained without probable cause really keeping us safer?  Does the end really justify the means?  Would it not be more effective if we simply stopped those who we knew were driving under the influence ourselves before they got behind the wheel?  Freedom is, after all, a great responsibility and it is up to each and every individual to maintain it and to hold each other accountable for our actions.

Different states have different laws, but only 11 states stand by the Constitution and ban this highly questionable and intrusive practice.  They are Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon Rhode Island, Texas, Washington (state), Wisconsin and Wyoming.  If you live in one of the other states and want to live life as a free person perhaps you should petition your state legislature to change the law.  After all, they are supposed to work for US, not the other way around!

Conservative? Liberal? Libertarian? Independent?

I am always amazed at the way people tend to impose their ideals on others.  We classify ourselves into three basic categories…conservatives, liberals and libertarians with independents not “claiming” any affiliation.  But what does that mean?

Conservatives claim to be for freedom, but they still impose their values on others.  This case was recently brought to my attention.  There is a young girl in Front Royal, Virginia, who had a vision.  She made awesome pastries and decided to open a donut shop.  So she recruited backers and worked hard to make her dream a reality…this, by the way, is the true American dream, but that is another post.  She called her shop Naughty Girl’s Donut Shop and used posters of icons like Marilyn Monroe as decoration.  She and her staff continue to go to high school while running the shop!  But some think her name is too risque for the sleepy town of Front Royal so they are calling for a boycott.  So much for the concept of freedom!  Read about this young lady and her business here.

Liberals call themselves “liberal” which would imply a more tolerant outlook, but it seems they only take that stance if you agree with their outlooks and phobias.  As a general rule they are for a Utopian world where everyone is given everything that they need and everyone is equal.  The problem with that concept is that if everyone is equal there is nothing to strive for, no goals, no success and no failure.  In essence, no advancement.

Libertarians are more in line with freedom than the first two groups, but still believe that we are not trustworthy enough to make our own decisions, therefore we must have a higher “authority” telling us what we can and cannot do.  This is still not freedom.

Independents…true independents…will hold that we are each responsible for our own actions and accountable for our deeds.  There are very few true independents, although there are some.  When you meet them you may think them odd because they embody a different perspective on life and freedom.

Most of us fall into more than one category.  Most of us THINK that we are all about freedom and liberty, but we have lost sight of what those terms really entail.  Where do you stand?  Are you willing to allow others to embrace their own values even when they don’t agree with your own?

When The Safety Net Becomes The Snare

Many years ago my mother told me a story about a child walking along a woodland path.  This sweet child came upon a butterfly struggling to break free of its cocoon.  The youngster was fascinated and stopped to watch the insect.  The emerging butterfly seemed to be in a life and death battle to free itself from the silken shell that had concealed the metamorphosis from caterpillar to winged beauty.  Concern overcame the child and so she made the decision to help this creature free itself…but much to the dismay of the young girl the very act of helping had sealed the fate of the butterfly.  You see, it is the struggle that gives the insect the strength to fly.  The butterfly was unwittingly killed with kindness. Continue reading

Special Class of People

Many people think that because someone does a certain job it sets that person apart from the rank and file.  Take, for instance, law enforcement.  Many cops are given special discounts (in fact they often expect them in some situations), they are regarded as somehow more honest or trustworthy, and they are often given a pass when they do break the law.  The same holds true for those who hold political office, certain athletes, actors and a few other “classes” of people.

I have been told by some that we, the rank and file, are not as smart as those who have been selected…hired…by the voters to represent us.  I have heard people say that police are more proficient with firearms than civilians.  Neither of these things are any more true than saying that a redhead has a hot temper or that one ethnic group is less intelligent than another.  Just because someone has a job doesn’t make them better than anyone else…or even qualified for the position that they hold! Continue reading

What Is Freedom?

Most of us think that we are free.  We have the ability to make decisions, choose where we live, work in occupations of our own selection, etc.  But are we really free?  Let me ask you a few simple questions.  Then you decide for yourself.

Do you keep the fruits of your labor?  Here in the USA, where I live, we keep a portion of the money we earn, but we also are required by the governments (note the plural syntax) to surrender a portion of our earnings to fund public projects whether we agree with them or not.  We are also required to pay for the privilege of owning assets, even after we have paid a tax when we purchased them and the people who made them were taxed for the right to make them.  So are we really free?  Do we really have the right to own and retain the fruits of our labor?  That doesn’t appear to be the case.  Do you think you own your real estate?  Go without paying your taxes and see if you do. In fact, look at your deed…it names you as a TENANT!

Let’s move on to the family unit.  Surely we are free there, right?  But wait, if you want to get married, you need permission from…you guessed it…the government!  Suppose they don’t like the choice you make; can they deny your right to get married?  Nah, they would NEVER do that, right?  Or would they?  There was a time when interracial marriages were outlawed, but we have moved past that, right?  What about gay marriage?  It may not be my choice, but if you don’t have the right to choose for me, how do I have the right to choose for you?  And why do we need permission from the government to select a given mate anyway? (Hint, it goes back to the taxes thing, but I digress)

Surely there is freedom of speech, at least in the USA, right?  Really?  And what exactly IS freedom of speech?  Some say that we have the right within limits but the public good trumps our right to yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater.  Others say that we have the right to speak freely as long as we don’t practice “hate speech.”  I say, you have the right to say whatever you like….BUT you are responsible for the result.  That is what freedom is…it is a proverbial double-edged sward, with responsibility being the other side of the blade.  Whatever you do, you own.  Whatever you say, you must take the credit for.  Words have domino effects.  They are the seeds of ideas.  You can plant beautiful flowers in the minds of others or you can plant noxious weeds.  As an individual, it is your choice to make.  But if you yell “fire” in the middle of a crowd and people or property get hurt, it is your fault and your responsibility to atone for your actions.

So the point of this blog is to inspire free thought, to share ideas, to reflect the concept that our Founding Fathers believed in.  In fact, their conviction was so deep that they risked their lives to cross an ocean for the chance to think like free people.  If the posts inspire you to rethink your concept of freedom then I have planted the seed.  You may end up where you started, believing that the application of freedom is limited based on the “greater good” or you may alter your outlook.  Either way, the choice is yours in your reality, just as it is mine in my world.  I don’t ask you to agree with me (or to disagree), I only ask you to look honestly at the world around you, question everything, take nothing for granted, and make up your own mind.