Monday, December 15, 2008

Inciting Change

Change is not just something you get at the grocery store. It's how society and individuals grow, progress and learn. Unfortunately change also includes moving the other way into decay, corruption and ruin.

Let's assume for a moment that you want to be an agent of change. What's involved?

You can decide on your own that you want to change something about yourself. You may want to lose weight, earn a degree, buy a home, earn a million dollars, read a book, whatever.

Changes of a local scope are those that influence those around you. Of course that comes down to a question posed in the New Testament: "Who is my neighbor?" It really depends on what you're changing. Some changes will effect your family, like deciding to go on a vacation together, or to all learn to speak Pig Latin fast enough that the neighbors can't tell what you're saying. If you decide your home owner's association needs to be reformed, it takes a bit more effort since a few hundred people could be involved. The local scope can grow to encompass just about everything.

When the scope of a change covers everything, you get to global change. Everything we do has some global impact, but the strength of that impact is almost always negligible in the big picture. Based on chaos theory, there could be an extra butterfly in South America this winter because I left for work fifteen seconds late one day in 1995. The vast majority of change is small and untrackable. A relatively small number of changes or actions have a clear global impact.

The interesting thing about the spectrum of local to global change is that the large changes depend upon the individual scope as a driving force. Cities, states and countries don't make laws. The people do, through whatever government they have.

The usual method to produce change is to follow the established rules. The legislative branch of government is responsible for writing the laws that we will follow. If you want to change something, there's a well defined process that works fairly well most of the time, whether at the level of city, state, or federal government. An idea is turned into a bill which is discussed. Some are deemed important enough to proceed to a vote, and some of those bills become law. Citizen initiatives are a similar process.

Another method of inducing change is to be a conciencious objector. Some time you may feel a law (or entire government) is oppressive or archaic, and the usual method of following the rules of the current system doesn't work. To change the way things work may require breaking a law in a particular way. Being an objector means you break a law publicly, announce your personal intention to the appropriate authorities, and subject yourself to the full consequences. Personally, I don't have any call to be a conciencious objector, but I maintain respect for those who honestly have no alternative.

The third method to incite change is to break laws without accepting full responsibility. This group actively tries to avoid the consequences of their actions. This group includes the scum of the earth. Deadbeats. Thugs. Thieves. Murderers. Terrorists. People who roll through stop signs. This method, rather than creating something new, seeks only to tear down and destroy the existing value system. Those who use this method of change think might makes right, and that they can do whatever they are strong enough to get away with. Theoretically, this method could be used to do something good, but those who try to get away with breaking the law aren't usually out to help others, now are they?

Now that you've decided this "change" thing is what you want, what sort of change do you want to make? Change ain't so hot if you just put a different pair of dirty socks back on. Change for the worse is just as likely as change for the better if you don't look before you leap.

If you're used to sitting back in your comfort zone, you can take things two ways. First would be to take some area where you already have some expertise, and to make some change using that skill or knowledge. Second, you could decide you need to change yourself, and gain a new area of expertise. If you decide to change something beyond the personal scale before you know what you're doing, you'll be like famous actors who use their well developed skills to weep or rant at congressional hearings on subjects they only peripherally understand. All show, no substance.

So, remember that order. Learn skill then use skill. That way, you'll know what you're doing, and it will show. I may not agree with you, but you'll have the respect of those who value knowlege used well.

So What Now?
I already mentioned that whining isn't the answer, but there are infinite ways of changing for the better. Whether you learn something, create something, or serve someone based on what you already know, the world may just be a better place because of you. Don't like your mayor, school board member, or Congressman? Run against him. Don't want to run for office? Support someone who will. Use what you've got however you can to become an agent of change, rather than a victim of it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What is This Thing?

Government Sponsored Entities are something that most readers of blogs are not really familiar with reading about or having to talk about. In the Washington belt they are called “GSE’s” for lack of an imagination. A Government Sponsored Entity is the end result of the old New Deal legislation that had to put on a new face after the populace discovered what the older meaning was.

They are, in fact, taxpayer-funded and tax-payer promised “free-market” enterprises that are really socialist endeavors of the federal government. By all means, allow me to explain.

In the New Deal days, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were banking enterprises that were, at first, entirely funded by a market place of willing buyers. They did so under the guise that the feds would rush in, like the 7th Cavalry, and fight off evil doers and make sure that people that borrowed for housing or business loans could do so without those evil entrepreneurs coming in to make a profit. Under the LBJ administration, the definition changed to make sure that tax-payer money would underwrite all of these loans in spite of the fact that profit turned out to be in-dispensable to the markets at large. Go figure that?

Let a few years roll by, and beginning in the Carter administration increasing pressure was built on lending institutions to credit people that could not otherwise get credit. It sure sounds good if you are a local organizer for a certain political party, but it was built up under the guise, again, that tax-payer money is going to be there to back up bad loans. Enter the Clinton administration and you even have the Attorney General threatening prosecution to burn down institutions that would not lend to just about everybody. Janet was good at burning down places, and I reckon that it was just a hat-in-hand thing to extend that to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lenders that did not want to play.

The Bush administration is on record of having fought these GSE’s on more than one occasion, and they went so far as to have to fight the likes of Barney Frank for the right to place restrictions of the loans that were being imposed on an otherwise sound financial institution. They had to fight others as well. Does the name Franklin Raines ring a bell for anyone? That is right! The former CEO for Fannie Mae and now the economic advisor for the President elect.

Now let us go into another area, which will likely not make our Republican friends happy. What is a Government “bailout”?

Let me propose, ladies and gentlemen, that it is one and the same thing.

It is nothing more and nothing less than a government takeover of institutions that do not need to be taken over by the federal government.

For the sake of argument, let me say propose that I am a maker of the “widget.” For a while, the market is good and I am able, with the excess profits, good and fair labor costs and a lack of excessive international tariffs, to make enough money to pay for everything. My widgets are not necessarily the best widgets ever made, but they are nice enough and appeal to enough of the market that I can maintain at least a balance in what is otherwise a growing economy.

Then the world economy goes bad. The excessive union costs for labor come back to bite my company. Excessive tariff laws and federal tax structures that are designed to place my company in a position of paying a good part of my profit to the government also come back to bite my company. Now, let’s place into being the fact that my widgets are having a hard time in a global economy. They are not bad, by many comparisons, but other governments are understanding the tax structures here and the power of the dollar, and they make it even better by not buying dollars bills on the global market, reducing our buying power and so making their own products more competitive amongst our competitors. Further, the Unions are now complaining that I am not keeping up with what they think is our wage scale. I threaten to move overseas and they threaten to go on strike. Without a better economy, the result becomes inevitable.

Now the populace goes into a panic. They work for me and other capitalists like me, and they are told repeatedly by a press (sold into a leftist mentality) that all of us capitalists are bad. Not withstanding the fact that if I had not made these widgets, in the first place, then there never would have been unions or a tax structure or tariffs or salaries to worry about. Never minding any of that, now I go to the government begging for what I call a loan, or, in the case of banking institutions, not even that.

My own ancestors, as this point, do not know who the hell I am or what I stand for. They would have good reason to doubt me. My ancestors would never have dreamed of going to the federal government and begging for a single damned thing. My widget company has become a tool of the federal government and can barely be discerned from any socialist enterprise that has ever had the misfortune to breath upon this planet. My company’s doom has been visited upon me because of a series of bad decisions and an overgrowth of federal despotism. The “Widget Company” is now a tool of the federal government and a willing slave to their regulations and will.

I have a question now for this intelligent and responsible readership.

What happened to our balls? What happened to the idea of having a freedom to either gain or fail according to what we design or do not design? Do we not have any juevos at all now? Or, for the active female readership, what happened to the ideal of personal responsibility? We are in a place now that because we have allowed the federal government to outgrow its usefulness and Constitutional responsibilities that we now want that same overgrown bulk of inhumanity to become out overlords? What the hell has happened to us? Are we all now willing slaves?

I am the eternal optimist. I think not. I think that we have knowledge and can overcome the weaknesses that we have visited upon ourselves. Otherwise, I think, the intelligent among us have to walk the path of Cicero. We have to remember the place that put our Republic on the world map. God bless capitalism and God bless the Republic.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Have We Forgotten

A few weeks ago I attended an 80th birthday party for someone very dear to me. On the wall near the entrance in their home was a rather large American flag. Upon questioning the significance of that flag I learned that it had flown over Afghanistan. It was sent to them from Afghanistan by their only son who is currently serving there with our armed forces. This son has also served twice in Iraq.

I had this thought running in the back of my mind when I heard a song on the radio this past week. Now I am not much of a country music fan. The only country music I listen to is the kind that makes it to the pop music stations. I have several of these stations that have presets on the car radio. After exhausting the aforementioned presets and finding absolutely nothing that I could stand to hear I began to wander in the space between these stations. It was then that I found a song that made me stop and listen.

I leave only a link to the video because embedding has been restricted. Even if you aren't a fan of country music, take just a few minutes to listen.
Darryl Worley - Have You Forgotten? I can't hear it enough. As I listened I thought of the military son and the flag on their wall. My dear old friend and her family remember. They have not forgotten why he is there. Neither should we.

I have two pictures of me that help me to not forget. These are of me back when we didn't know that there was anyone named Osama bin Laden or where Afghanistan or Iraq were on the map.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

No Whiners Allowed

Actually, and equally valid topic, but one that might have made some folks wonder at my grammar would be "No Whiners Aloud."

I don't care for whining in our house. If a kid comes up and says "I'm hungry," my first thought is to say something like "well, that's too bad, isn't it?" Or maybe "That sounds like complaining." If I'm in a good mood, I'll just say "Hi there, Hungry. Nice to meet you."

Now if a kid asks what they can do to help with dinner, I'm all ears and willing to share information and jobs which can get us fed sooner. Those willing to actually do something will always win when pitted against whiners.

Political whiners are the same. I have no use for them. I don't appreciate it when things and people I vote for don't win, but I try really hard not to whine. I didn't get everything I wanted this last election. Very few people get everything they want. But how do you handle the losses you face? Rather than whining, learn how the system works, and what it will take to succeed in the future. Promote the good you see within the causes and people you support. Bypassing or subverting the system is cheating, by the way. You don't want to be a cheater any more than you want to be a whiner.

Are you currently a whiner? Do you wish for things to change that are unchangeable or in the past? Do you complain, rather than ask questions or correct things? Then stop it.

Once you've stopped whining, you're only half done because now you need to actually do something productive to make up for wasted time and to move forward on whatever you stand for. Don't know what you should stand for? You're in luck! You get to choose what you will devote the rest of your life to. I'd recommend faith in God, strong family life, upright principles and transparent ethics in case you are still undecided.

I can already hear the new whining bubbling to the surface. If that little voice in your head says that it would be hard, or that you don't have time, or that it sounds good for other people, or you wish things would just go your way instead, then stop it. Tell the little voice that you don't want to be roommates any more and move from whiner to mover and shaker. The world has enough baggage without you becoming part of it.

Don't just sit there. Do something. Be an example. Make something. Help someone. Take a stand. Leave a mark. Start now.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The state religion

I came across a video with the following message in it. It was written by Elder Neil A. Maxwell[1926-2004], who was in the leadership of the LDS Church. This address was given at Brigham Young University October 10, 1978 entitled: Meeting the Challenges of Today. Emphasis added.

I include it here because of how accurate it is. I think of the response the Mormons, Catholics and others received when Prop 8 passed in California--how they use the cultivation of freedoms of our Western civilization to shrink freedom. Those with religious motives are discounted by those who oppose them by claiming separation of church and state. This is a segment of that address.

We are now entering a period of incredible ironies. Let us cite but one of these ironies which is yet in its subtle stages: we shall see in our time a maximum if indirect effort made to establish irreligion as the state religion. It is actually a new form of paganism that uses the carefully preserved and cultivated freedoms of Western civilization to shrink freedom even as it rejects the value essence of our rich Judeo-Christian heritage.

M. J. Sobran wrote recently:

"The Framers of the Constitution . . . forbade the Congress to make any law "respecting" the establishment of religion, thus leaving the states free to do so (as several of them did); and they explicitly forbade the Congress to abridge "the free exercise" of religion, thus giving actual religious observance a rhetorical emphasis that fully accords with the special concern we know they had for religion. It takes a special ingenuity to wring out of this a governmental indifference to religion, let alone an aggressive secularism. Yet there are those who insist that the First Amendment actually proscribes governmental partiality not only to any single religion, but to religion as such; so that tax exemption for churches is now thought to be unconstitutional. It is startling [she he continues] to consider that a clause clearly protecting religion can be construed as requiring that it be denied a status routinely granted to educational and charitable enterprises, which have no overt constitutional protection. Far from equalizing unbelief, secularism has succeeded in virtually establishing it.

[she he continues:] What the secularists are increasingly demanding, in their disingenuous way, is that religious people, when they act politically, act only on secularist grounds. They are trying to equate acting on religion with establishing religion. And--I repeat--the consequence of such logic is really to establish secularism. It is in fact, to force the religious to internalize the major premise of secularism: that religion has no proper bearing on public affairs. [Human Life Review, Summer 1978, pp. 51–52, 60–61]"

...irreligion as the state religion would be the worst of all combinations. Its orthodoxy would be insistent and its inquisitors inevitable. Its paid ministry would be numerous beyond belief. Its Caesars would be insufferably condescending. Its majorities--when faced with clear alternatives--would make the Barabbas choice, as did a mob centuries ago when Pilate confronted them with the need to decide.

Your discipleship may see the time come when religious convictions are heavily discounted. M. J. Sobran also observed, "A religious conviction is now a second-class conviction, expected to step deferentially to the back of the secular bus, and not to get uppity about it" (Human Life Review, Summer 1978, p. 58). This new irreligious imperialism seeks to disallow certain of people's opinions simply because those opinions grow out of religious convictions. Resistance to abortion will soon be seen as primitive. Concern over the institution of the family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened.

In its mildest form, irreligion will merely be condescending toward those who hold to traditional Judeo-Christian values. In its more harsh forms, as is always the case with those whose dogmatism is blinding, the secular church will do what it can to reduce the influence of those who still worry over standards such as those in the Ten Commandments. It is always such an easy step from dogmatism to unfair play--especially so when the dogmatists believe themselves to be dealing with primitive people who do not know what is best for them. It is the secular bureaucrat's burden, you see.

Am I saying that the voting rights of the people of religion are in danger? Of course not! Am I saying, "It's back to the catacombs?" No! But there is occurring a discounting of religiously-based opinions. There may even be a covert and subtle disqualification of some for certain offices in some situations, in an ironic "irreligious test" for office.

However, if people are not permitted to advocate, to assert, and to bring to bear, in every legitimate way, the opinions and views they hold that grow out of their religious convictions, what manner of men and women would they be, anyway? Our founding fathers did not wish to have a state church established nor to have a particular religion favored by government. They wanted religion to be free to make its own way. But neither did they intend to have irreligion made into a favored state church. Notice the terrible irony if this trend were to continue. When the secular church goes after its heretics, where are the sanctuaries? To what landfalls and Plymouth Rocks can future pilgrims go?

If we let come into being a secular church shorn of traditional and divine values, where shall we go for inspiration in the crises of tomorrow? Can we appeal to the rightness of a specific regulation to sustain us in our hours of need? Will we be able to seek shelter under a First Amendment which by then may have been twisted to favor irreligion? Will we be able to rely for counterforce on value education in school systems that are increasingly secularized? And if our governments and schools were to fail us, would we be able to fall back upon the institution of the family, when so many secular movements seek to shred it?

I include a video of this on the sidebar.

"A law professor at the purportedly Catholic Georgetown University, who is also a gay activist, argues that the cause of gay marriage is simply in conflict with religious liberty; he's "having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win." (Never mind, again, that the victory of Proposition 8 in California was not the result of an edict from Salt Lake, the Vatican or any one religion, but the free and fair vote of California citizens, some informed by their religious belief, as they are free to be so motivated.)

Surely we don't have to be Mormon to be outraged. I make no statement about their recruitment strategies when I say, watching California, "We're all Mormons now." Next time the violent backlash may be in response to a brave Catholic bishop teaching responsibility at the voting booth. Next time it could be an online evangelical dating service hauled into court by a state "civil rights" office for not providing same-sex matchmaking. Oh wait, that already happened in New Jersey."