Free Election System

knowledge is power

Do you have all the knowledge you need to make an informed decision?

We think we have a free country here in the United States, but do we really? We vote for people to represent us, but is the deck stacked?

Consider this…how many people are running for a given seat in your district? Are there debates between the candidates? Are ALL the candidates allowed to participate? I know of one race where the incumbent was defeated in a primary election. This left the seat very much in contention. There is a debate scheduled and the Democrat and Republican candidates are participating. But there is a third, Libertarian candidate who is not allowed to participate. Strangely, the two candidates for the “accepted” parties both have affiliation with the college that is hosting the debate…but the college says that THEY didn’t make the decision, a private firm they hired to coordinate things set the ground rules that excluded the third party.

I ask you, if we are supposed to be a free society, how can we ignore the blatant bias so thinly veiled? This type of thing happens all over our country and people just blindly accept it. Perhaps it is too much trouble to maintain our freedom. I hope that the general public wakes up before we surrender what little liberty we have left.

Preparedness – Everyone’s Responsibility

A few years ago we had a strong line of thunderstorms roll trough our region.  There were wide spread

Do you know what these symbols mean?

Do you know what these symbols mean?

power outages that lasted for days in some areas.  To some this may be only a minor inconvenience, but for others it can be a real challenge.  Aside from the obvious food spoilage issues, if you live in a rural area and are dependent on well water you will not have any water without electricity. This also means you can’t flush!  Gas stations can’t dispense fuel, ATMs won’t work, credit transactions may not be able to be processed, and cordless phones are reduced to paper weights. What can you do to prepare for unexpected interruptions of our daily conveniences?  There are a lot of things.

1. Keep your car from falling below a half tank of gas.  If the power goes out for extended periods you may need it!  And once the power is back on be prepared for long lines and shortages.

2. Keep some basic supplies in your vehicle.  They are:

  • Water (at least a gallon)
  • Food; something with dense nutrition and long shelf life that is not affected by heat or cold
  • Flashlights…and remember to replace the batteries annually
  • Blanket/shelter.  You could be stranded for extended periods in cold weather.
  • Basic tools; you should have a hammer, flat and Phillips screwdrivers, a knife, plyers and/or adjustable wrench and a lug wrench at the bare minimum.  Consider adding a small hatchet and/or bow saw to that.  Also a small or folding shovel is a good thing to have.
  • If you live in a colder climate carry some cat litter or sand with you to help with traction if you get stuck.
  • Matches (waterproof is best) and/or flares
  • A backpack is advisable to keep these things together and useful if you need to hike to safety.  A change of clothes is not a bad idea either.
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Some form of personal protection
  • A first-aid kit

3. Keep some basic things in your home:

  • Water – you can use empty milk jugs (cleaned of course) or other things to store several gallons of water.  If there is flooding in your area there may not be potable water for a while.
  • Candles/oil lamps/battery powered light sources
  • A generator if you can
  • Canned food and dried food that is not dependent on refrigeration.  Also consider if you will be able to cook…is your stove electric?  Do you have a grill?  Do you have plenty of charcoal or gas for that grill?
  • A heater that is not dependent on electricity
  • A corded phone if you have a land line
  • Extra batteries for your cell phone…that are fully charged!!
  • A manual can opener
  • Fire extinguishers in the kitchen, garage and bedrooms
  • Chain saw/bow saw if you live somewhere where there are trees around your house
  • Emergency battery powered radio with weather radio function.  A two way radio is also not a bad idea.
  • Some form of personal protection
  • Medical supplies and if you take prescription medications don’t let them reach critically low levels.

These are not an all inclusive list, by any stretch, but they are some of the bare necessities to ensure you will get through an emergency with minimal problems. The one other thing you need is a plan.  Especially if you have family, you should have a meeting place, an alternate meeting place, and some planned escape routes.  If your family lives elsewhere you may designate a meeting place or a way to let each other know you are okay.  Communications may be interrupted or jammed.

One other thing to consider is protection.  I choose to carry a pistol with me wherever I go and I take the time to stay proficient with it.  It is not the right choice for each individual and there are other options available including knives, pepper spray, tasers, collapsible batons and more.  Some of these may or may not be legal in your area.  This is a personal choice, one to be decided by each individual.  But be aware that in a catastrophe, like Katrina or Sandy, law enforcement may be days away, not just minutes.  Criminals will take advantage of this and looters may not hesitate to take a life.  Again, your safety is ultimately your own responsibility.  Have a plan to defend yourself and your life-giving stash of supplies!  This includes getting proper training, practice and safeguarding your defensive tools from unauthorized access.

There are many web sites, classes and books on the subject of emergency preparedness.  I suggest doing some research, educating yourselves and taking positive steps to prepare for what could happen.  Think of it as a “self insurance” policy against potential disaster.  If you think it couldn’t happen to you, think again!  It can happen to anyone.

If you want to know what could happen in a real life situation, one book you can read is Zeitoun by Dave Eggers.  It is a true story about a man who rode out Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. I offer this information because I have been through both summer and winter storms that disrupted power and caused potentially life threatening situations.  We were prepared and came through fine, but had we not been ready thing could have been very different.  Sharing this with others can perhaps help them be ready in the event a disaster hits their region.

Guns Kill?

This gun never killed anything.

This gun never killed anything.

I read a post this morning under “Freshly Pressed” (even though the original post was from July?) titled Planes Don’t Fly and Guns Don’t Kill.  Being a proponent of freedom, including the right to defend ones self on equal terms with the attacker, I read the post.  It was a story of a man who has killed for the sake of killing on more than one occasion.  Granted they were animals and not humans, but this man took three lives, two of which were deliberate.

What struck me about the post was that the author blamed his actions on the tool used to carry them out.  He made a choice to kill a living thing.  He followed through on that choice.  While having the gun may have made the action easier, it was the man behind the gun that ultimately caused the death of the creature.  He says he feels remorse, but he repeats his actions, so how much regret is there really?

I suppose we should be glad that the person who made these choices selected birds as his prey and not humans…or will he take that step in the future?  I respect the man’s decision to devoid himself of firearms.  It appears to be a wise choice for him.  Perhaps he is one of the reasons that others should be armed!

This blog is about freedom.  Along with that freedom comes the responsibility for ones actions.  You cannot have one without the other.  Every living thing has an inherent right to self preservation.  Even plants develop defense mechanisms to level the playing field and insure their survival.  Man, being the inventive creature that he is, has created tools to make life easier.  One of those tools is the firearm.  It has been a tool used for both good and bad actions by humans.  The object is inanimate and will never do anything without human interaction.  Much like an automobile, medications, bathtubs, swimming pools and a host of other objects and substances that can cause death or injury to humans or other living things, a person must manipulate the tool to cause a reaction…that reaction can be good or bad based on the actions of the person.

So while the title of the blogger’s post was true, the premise of the body is a poor excuse for the author’s bad behavior.  I don’t buy into the theory that having a gun in your hand will cause your primal instinct to kill to surge forward uncontrollably.  If it does, perhaps you should seek professional assistance.

p.s.  I was going to comment directly on the post referred to above, but it appears that comments were disabled.

The Problem With Confidential Informants

We all want to catch, prosecute and convict violent criminals.  So when the police use investigative tools like confidential informants to gather evidence and develop suspects it should be a good thing, right?  But does the end justify the means? (Read my post on that subject here)  What could possibly go wrong with this concept?

Is justice blind, or is justice for those who can afford it?

Is justice blind, or is justice for those who can afford it?

I recently read a story about a man who stole a car.  When the car thief was arrested he told the cops that there was meth in the car when he stole it.  Based on that information the police busted down the door of the vehicle’s owner and, when the homeowner grabbed a gun to defend himself against the apparent home-invasion the cops shot him dead.

The Innocence Project estimates that 18% of convictions that are overturned because of DNA testing there was in informant who testified against the defendant.  Often these people receive some sort of incentive to provide this testimony, whether it be release from prison, reduced sentence or monetary compensation.  Some of them are witnesses in multiple cases, perhaps “career informants.”

Aside from the obvious concept that a criminal might not be the most honest witness, there is something inherently wrong with a witness-for-hire system.  One has to speculate that such practices would encourage false testimony.

This is even more relevant since the passing of the Patriot Act (see my post on this subject here), giving the federal government the power to detain American citizens without due process based on the suspicion of terrorist activity.  This can be as innocent as someone saying they heard you talking about wanting the current administration out of office.

While I am all for holding people accountable for their actions, I am vehemently opposed to paying or otherwise compensating potential witnesses.  Since 1973 over 130 people who were on death row have been exonerated.   This is just the death row data…how many more convictions have been overturned?  How many innocent people could not afford to continue appeals or the court would not hear them?

Our system is broken.  It will not be fixed until we, the people, demand it from our elected representatives.  I hope and prey that you and your loved ones never face these issues, but if you do, I hope you are more fortunate than those who are currently behind bars…or dead…because someone SAID they did something wrong!

Free vs. Freedom

EBTMany of us are quick to take free stuff. However are these things really free? Most (if not all) of the things that are given away must be paid for by someone.

Let’s take a look at some of the more common things that people are quick to take advantage of. There are many, including businesses offering incentives, charities, food stamps (now called EBT which stands for Electronic Benefit Transfer or SNAP for Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program), there is unemployment, welfare, heating subsidies and housing subsidies and the list goes on. Who pays for these things?

Free perks offered by a business are funded by the customers, as a general rule.  Often there is a requirement to purchase something…free toothbrush with purchase of XYZ toothpaste.  Sometimes free things are offered in the hopes that you will purchase something, but again the expense is factored into the items for sale.

Charities (private organizations) are funded by donors who willingly give money to the group.  But they are also funded in part by your tax dollars, if only because they do not have to pay taxes on their income.  Now I am not saying this is a bad thing, only pointing out the fact.  Actually, I think that income tax is theft and anti-freedom, but that is for another post.

In the case of unemployment, I hear many say that they paid into this so they deserve to collect it. Well, in most states this is not the case. The employer pays a tax based on past claims and on an average for their region. So an employer who has never had a claim will be paying into the pool as long as they have people on staff.  And if they are in a “high risk” pool they will pay higher rates even if they never had a claim.  This cuts into the net pay of every employee at those companies

Welfare, EBT and other subsidies are slavery in disguise.  Those who work are forced to give the proceeds of their labor to others…who may or may not NEED the funds, but did not EARN the funds.  Make no mistake, this is not charity.  Charity is voluntary, not forced and the donor can select the beneficiary.  The other insidious effect of these programs is the theft of the self respect of the recipient.  There was a time when no honorable man (or woman) would take a handout except under the most dire circumstances.  If they were forced to accept charity it was paid back as quickly as possible.  Today, there seems to be a race to see how many “free programs” one can participate in!

In Virginia former Governor McDonnell gave an award and a promotion to a Social Services director for growing the department and exponentially expanding the number of recipients.  Isn’t the goal of such programs supposed to be helping people to become self sufficient?  Or is it to “create more jobs” by expanding government and requiring those working in private industry to give up even more of their hard-earned dollars?

The concept of freedom is that if you work hard you will be rewarded by accumulating wealth which you can use to make your life, and the life of your heirs, more enjoyable.  The practice of penalizing success is counterproductive to that goal.  There are many lures to entice us to take these give-away programs, but there is always free cheese in a mousetrap.  Even if we don’t have to pay for these things, our children and their descendants will.  Perhaps we should think long and hard before we give up our freedom and theirs in exchange for a little bit of “free” stuff.

How To Find Happiness

A friend of mine has a saying that happiness is not having what you want, it is wanting what you have.  Many of us think in terms of…stuff.   While having material things can and does make life easier (assuming you could afford those things when you purchased them), the real secret to happiness is around us all the time.  For example it could be a quiet moment with someone special or catching a glimpse of a beautiful sunset.  We often take for granted the endearing moments like when our toddler breaks several dozen eggs in the kitchen floor and laughs hysterically as each one smashes.

In fact, many of the things that irritate us in day to day life become the moments we hold on to when a loved one has left this world.  Sometimes we never get a chance to say the things we really mean.  Sometimes we hold grudges until it is too late to let them go.  And sometimes we just overlook the obvious.

I was fortunate that life showed me the real value of family and true friends.  I hope that those reading this post will also take a moment, smell the roses, hug a loved one and simply…want what you have.