The Power of the State.

English: President Barack Obama welcomes Israe...
English: President Barack Obama welcomes Israeli President Shimon Peres in the Oval Office Tuesday, May 5, 2009. At right is Vice President Joe Biden. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza. Français : President Barack Obama accueille le président israélien Shimon Peres dans le bureau ovale mardi 5 mai 2009. A droite, le vice-président Joe Biden. Photo officielle de la Maison Blanche par Pete Souza. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have read and heard many stories in the last day about President Obama’s visit to Israel, and have been struck by a thought which should be disturbing. There are so many stories that I will not directly reference any, as they are being spread quite widely.

The President’s speeches were met by cheering crowds in a country where the consensus usually seems to be distrust rather than acceptance. Wherever our position falls in regards to Israel, we must all admit that they have a great deal to fear.

It seems that their response to the President’s visit, cheers and gratitude, has more to do with a reaction to the state of fear they experience so frequently in their daily lives. There is indication that this response is less gratitude than a desire to turn to any source of hope available rather than to face their fear directly.

There is a tendency inherent to human nature to turn to help instead of taking on the individual responsibility of facing the uncomfortable situation yourself. This is the true power of the state. Not the obvious force of arms, but the willingness of the people to subvert themselves to a higher authority because it is easier and more comfortable than facing the problem themselves. It also affords them the opportunity to ignore the problem entirely, because it is now in someone else’s hands.

Armies, police, taxes, and regulations are all tools of the state, but it is the willingness of the people to seek comfort in subjecting themselves to a supreme power which fuels the engine.

Barack Obama
Barack Obama (Photo credit: philomythus)
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The Meaning of “Is”

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That is a question which will certainly live in infamy. How do you define a two letter word?

Then President Bill Clinton felt the need to ask exactly that when confronted with questions pertaining to his alleged affair with an intern. He apparently did not feel that it would be legally safe to answer that simple question without first having the inquisitor precisely define even the very simplest terms.

This may be viewed as either a political stunt or a careless blunder, but it would be wiser to explore it as a symptom of our modern day difficulty in communicating with one another.

So what, exactly, is the problem? It is a specific and rigid definition of words having gained a higher precedence than the meaning of the statement as a whole. One result is what some of us refer to as double-talk, and another is the capacity being realized for someone to claim we meant something other than what we did when making a statement.

An example of how deeply this problem has infiltrated out language and communications happened a few days ago when I was mildly chastised for using the word “understand” in a comment which I had entered. I was politely informed that the judicial system had assigned a very specific definition to that word, and that I would be better off not using it. While I appreciate the warning, and commend the intention of a complete stranger attempting to provide me with useful advice, the time has come for me to state my true opinion on this matter. I, quite frankly, do not give a rat’s ass what kind of convoluted linguistic tricks someone wants to use to change my meaning by redefining the words I choose to use. If one does not clearly understand my meaning, I have no objection to clarifying it, but I will not play semantic games with one who  has no better argument than to attempt to change my meaning by swapping definitions.

Back to the point. The doubletalk which we are daily subjected to is enabled almost exclusively by these multiple definitions. Those who do not wish to be held fully accountable for their words select those words which have many available definitions. In this way, if their words cause them later discomfort, they can usually escape by claiming a different set of definitions. Politics is a perfect example. Using this formula for their speeches, politicians can guarantee that their listeners will almost never be able to ascertain their true meaning, and they can seek to escape the consequences of unpopular speech much like a chameleon evades the predator.

The other problem which we are occasionally subjected to is that of being accused of saying something which we did not. Even if we say something with what appears to be indisputable clarity, such as using the word “is,” the unscrupulous will find a way to redefine our choice of words, and by so doing assign a completely different message than that which we wished to convey. This is an increasingly large problem in the legal and judicial systems, but it has also infected the rest of our lives in virtually all areas.

What is the solution to this problem? Mine should be obvious. I solve it by using the words which best suit my meaning at the time, and by largely viewing anyone who would insist on my use of any definitions not closely similar to those one would expect to find in any reputable dictionary which came off of the presses in the last 200 years or so as one who can not prevail in a debate by any other means.

Possession or Ownership?

This is probably a question that should not have to be asked, but I find that many people I have encountered do not seem to really understand the difference. Many people believe that they own an item, when in reality they are just allowed to possess it for a time.

This topic has been broached in regards to home ownership recently after the housing bubble of a few years past, principally because so many who had never considered the possibility were suddenly indoctrinated by the large number of foreclosures and the fact that the stories were drummed so heavily by the press. Even those not experiencing foreclosures, or being threatened with one, likely knew of someone who did. It became abundantly clear to all of us that the banks and lending organizations had a higher priority claim to our homes than we did, and there was little we could do about it.

But what if you have the title to your home “free and clear” and you owe no money for a mortgage and there is no lien against it? Can you say that you own it then? You can say it, but you would be wrong. You are subject to, according to your location, at least one form of government requirement.

If you live in an area where property taxes are charged, you must pay these taxes or be subjected to government mandated eviction from a home that may have been in your family for generations, at which point it will be auctioned off to the highest bidder so that the government can collect the revenue it had charged you for the use of what you considered to be your sacred and safe home.

You may also be subject to building and zoning codes. If you are not allowed to add something as simple as a garage next to your house because the building codes are so restrictive that the cost becomes excessively high, especially in areas where unethical governing bodies keep a list of “approved” contractors, who frequently become approved not by their record but by paying fees and buying licenses, then you can not be said to own that property, as you are not allowed to make the decisions regarding the development of it without government permission.

Two other situations you might face are eminent domain and annexation. In either case, the government has reserved itself the right in many instances to declare that “your” property must be used for some other purpose, and your home must be removed to make way for their progress. In lesser cases, you may be required to do something seemingly beneficial such as seal off your well and septic system and allow them to hook your residence up to city water and sewer. They will usually charge you dearly for this, and failure to comply will generally end up with the property being condemned and declared unfit for human habitation, after which you will no longer be able to use it, and will have to sell.

Now we move to the invaluable American automobile. You say that you have paid off the loan, so now you own it, right? It’s not quite so easy as that. Sure, you can own it and not have to be beholden to anyone, but only if it is never driven off of your property (something which we have already questioned).

First, whoever drives it must have a driver’s license, which requires one to agree to a government record check before you are given permission to have one. Then you must pay the applicable fees and taxes and allow the government to record your information in their data base.

Once this is done, it is time to get essentially the same done for your vehicle. It’s identity must be verified, in some areas it must pass a mandatory inspection, and then more taxes and fees must be paid in order to obtain permission to operate it in “public” in the form of license plates and registrations.

And we’re still not done. In 49 states, insurance is also mandatory, and if you have a blemished record, “high-risk” (expensive) insurance may also be mandatory. In addition, if you have borrowed money to obtain the car, full coverage insurance will also be required to satisfy the lender.

After you have gone through all of this, get careless and receive a citation for any one of a list of offenses, and be subject to having your vehicle impounded, which will cost you another hefty fee, or may even result in your car being sold at auction to recover the money which was charged you by the government for your offense. This could stem from something as simple as being delayed and being unable to return to your car to prevent it from being towed when the meter expired.

If you think that the above situations are rare and will never happen to you or anyone you care about, I invite you to simply check your local paper for sometimes voluminous lists of real estate and vehicle auctions. It happens all of the time.

There are also many other items subject to confiscation, even though we generally think that we own them. Two scenarios which immediately come to mind are TSA confiscations of items that they declare contraband, yet will not allow you to leave with once they have found them, and the recent flurry of gun confiscations in California perpetrated on people who did nothing wrong aside from finding themselves on the “not approved to possess firearms” list.

When the government, or any other entity, can freely charge you for the privilege of possessing something, and it can be confiscated for your failure to abide by regulations of which you may not even be aware, how can we claim ownership?

We have gradually allowed the government, over the course of many years, to gain the power to regulate our possessions, even our homes, to such an extent that perhaps it is time for us to admit that we no longer own these things, but the government does, and allows us to use them at their whim.

Government Turned Upside Down.

     I don’t think anyone, no matter which position they choose to take in the political debate, can deny that we have serious problems with the functioning of our government these days. I contend that most of our problems stem from the fact that our government, in its current form, is nearly the opposite of what is necessary for our system to work.
     In its present incarnation, our government is a highly centralized federal system in which the federal level is viewed as supreme, followed by the States, with the local governments picking up the scraps, so to speak. Many mistakenly believe that this is the best system based on their belief that they can not trust the local officials to do what is best for the people, so they prefer to have a single, central presence to do this. This, however, is a completely flawed argument, no matter the justification, for if we can not trust elected to properly run something as small as a city, how does it follow that they can be trusted to properly run an entire nation?
     Let’s reverse the system and see what it looks like.
     Starting with the federal level, what was it intended to do? First, protect us from foreign entities and handle relations with these entities, including trade and treaties. Second, make sure that the various States respect one another’s laws and people, and to ensure that States do not interfere with each other’s trade or internal affairs. This is essentially the end of the assigned federal authority.
     The role of the States is much more involved, and diverse. Each State is expected to enact its own Constitution detailing its responsibilities with regard to, and in accordance with, the wishes of the citizens of that State, and that State alone. the majority of the governing currently taking place at the federal level was intended instead to be done at this level. In this way, the State would, and should, each be unique, with the people of that State selecting the form and structure of their own governance, or failing that, relocating to a different State according to their preference.
     It is the local governments which should be supreme. It is only at this level where the people of a community can actually control directly how the government conducts daily business. It is not the fault of the system that the local government so frequently do not work, but the fault of the residents of that local area. They must, whether they like it or not, take an active role in this local structure, or resign themselves to be ruled by the wishes of their neighbors.
     The very idea of restructuring things this way leads to opposition based, in my experience, on two questions. What about taxes, and who would provide services?
     The answer to taxes is simple. The local communities would collect revenue from those who reside there in whatever form they select. This could range from voluntary contributions, to tolls, to sales taxes, or any other of a myriad possibilities. The important thing is that the local community would decide for themselves. As this would cause each community to have its own unique system, a person who didn’t wish to be involved in a particular system would be able to move to an area which had adopted a preferable one. In the initial stages of development, this would be quite inconvenient for some people, but in time it would begin to run much more smoothly.
     The States, in their turn, would collect needed revenue from the local communities and from activities exclusive to that State, but not directly from the people. The federals would do likewise, drawing revenue only from the States themselves, or from sources such as allowable tariffs.
     What about services? Where will these come from? Since the people and the communities will not be sending an unduly large percentage of their wealth to a higher level of government, they will immediately have the option of directly selecting and paying for whatever services that they decide upon. If they decide to have a fire department, they will have the wealth available by virtue of not having to support a top heavy government to either hire a contractor for this or to create a department of their own. Likewise with law enforcement. Who will build the roads? Those who will use them. They will either build them or do without. If the need is legitimate, the roads will follow, paid for by those who use them, not by wealth confiscated from hapless individual who will never see this road, let alone use it. Here too, the means will be determined by the community itself, not by mandate from on high.
     This is just a brief view of my position in this, but it should provide a fair glimpse of my concept of government. Hopefully it will also provide content for further thought.
   

"Buy American" Back Again.

     A new bill is on its way to the House Capital Investment Committee in St. Paul. The chief author is Carly Melin, DFL Hibbing. It would require the State of Minnesota to purchase only American made steel for public works.

     The idea sounds pretty good on the surface. It is intended to bring business, unions, and government together to strengthen the economy of Minnesota by ensuring demand for the ore from the Iron Range. 
     It won’t work. Yes, it will ensure demand and help the production side in the short term, but in the long term, it will further damage the economy and create more problems as time goes on.
     First, it will ensure a demand, but it will not do this by increasing the demand for the product, it will do this by restricting competition. Disqualifying some of the potential bids will allow the remaining bids to possibly be quoted at a higher rate, and it leads to the situation where the government decides which companies will be allowed eligibility to be awarded a contract. This gives rise to the opportunity for a company to either influence the government to either add them to the list or exclude their competition. It is obvious where that can lead.
     Second, by arbitrarily excluding bids which may be at a lower cost, it necessarily drives the price of the product up. Those who support this theory would have us believe that the price would be worth paying to make sure jobs are available in one area, but who pays the price? All of us. This is just a well camouflaged redistribution tactic in which the government forces us to pay taxes, then takes those revenues and sends them to corporations of their choosing, in this case domestic steel. In spite of the beautiful, rainbow colored appearance, this is the definition of crony capitalism, which most would vehemently oppose were it in a different setting.
     This bill will likely pass into law. When it does we can expect the price of the projects the State of Minnesota decides to make us pay for will be maintained at an inflated level. I doubt that it will create any jobs, as it can not possibly change the overall demand that much, but it will benefit the unions (although probably not the union members), the industry lobbyists, and the politicians they influence. The rest of us will bear the cost in the form of higher prices for these building projects that the government selects for us.

When Did "Allow" Become a Word to Fear?

     I read the following article as soon as it was released and viewed it, as one would expect, as good news. From what I observed shortly thereafter, many other people did as well.

South Dakota approves guns in the classroom — RT USA

     Later on I thought about this for a while, and realized that there is something far more important to consider than whether or not guns will be allowed in some schools. What we are facing today is a fundamental flaw in our way of thinking, at least for most of us. It is the acceptance of the fact that we must ask the government permission to do something. This is an all to common way of thinking which evidences itself in nearly all typical conversations about laws and regulations.
     “You’re not allowed to park there.”
     “You’re allowed to have a rally only with a permit.”
     “You’re allowed to build only according to our code specifications.”
     “You’re not allowed to run a business without a license.”
     “You’re allowed to possess a registered firearm of an approved type in your own home.”
     “You’re not allowed to drive until paying the fees and receiving a license.”
     “You’re allowed to reside in your home only if the property tax is paid.”
     I could continue on almost indefinitely. My point has been made, though. We are now at a point where instead of allowing the government to administer only those tasks designated by the Constitution, which is the way it was intended to be, in which system the government would be powerless to do anything which we did not specifically allow, the relationship between the government and the people has been inverted.
     When the original colonies broke away from England, it was not because they wanted their independence. Although I am sure many people did have that as their main goal, the status quo would have prevailed but for one thing. The government of England at the time was a government which granted the citizens permission to engage in each aspect of their daily lives, or restricted their ability to do so. Leading up to the beginning of the Revolution, the combination of the King’s complacency and Lord North’s heavy handedness led to a situation in which the government had rapidly become far more oppressive than was their wont. When petitions for redress failed, falling on deaf ears, insurrection began, rapidly growing into full rebellion, then separation.
     When our current government was formed, the intention was for it to be allowed privilege to do only what we allowed, and nothing more. In the intervening years, that has been almost completely reversed. Now, with few exceptions, the government does what it will, allowing us to do only what it grants us specific permission for, frequently through the means of licensing and registration, for which it charges us the highest tolerated rate. It also prevents us from doing many things which neither harm ourselves nor our neighbors, merely because someone, at some point in time, decided that their version of how we were to live our lives was superior to our own version. Our fundamental rights to life, liberty, and property are now only a picturesque facade. These rights are now fleeting privileges either granted or removed by the will of the state.
     It is time for us to take back these rights, or forever lose them, never to be regained. We must be dedicated to this task, and also dedicated to causing as many of our neighbors as possible to join us, or we will live to witness the expiration of the American Experiment, never to be resurrected.

Political Correctness. Should We Surrender, or Have We Just Begun?

     After reading several reports on Rand Paul’s notable filibuster yesterday, I should be fully encouraged by the noble stand he took against the march toward destruction on which we, as a nation, find ourselves. Unfortunately, I am still filled with a sense of dismay when I view numerous comments on the results of the filibuster. How many times in the last twelve hours have I read or heard statements which all seemed to follow the same pattern: Someone finally forced the administration to admit that they believed that drone strikes against US citizens on US soil without due process are unconstitutional!
     Hallelujah! What a victory! They actually said that they believed it was unconstitutional. This is a fine example of an empty victory. How many times have they said what we wanted to hear when they obviously believed something completely different, and how many times have they said one thing only to do precisely the opposite? Will we really be so quick to bury our heads back in the sand that we have only just recently began to extricate ourselves from?
     It is not time to relax after hearing what we wanted so much to hear. Rather, it is time to turn the heat up even higher, and scrutinize their activities with even greater magnification. It is not the time to force them to say the correct things, but the time to force them to stop doing the incorrect and dangerous things.
     Where do we go from here? I sincerely hope that we have managed to find a few real leaders in Washington who can steer us back toward the proper path. Even if they don’t go far enough in the restoration of our liberty, pointing us in the right direction will be a refreshing change.
     That being said, it is not their responsibility to lead us back down the path toward freedom. It is theirs only to lead the forum in which they exist. It is our responsibility to walk the path to freedom, bringing as many of our neighbors along as we can convince to take up the journey. True, we are individually responsible for our own welfare, as our neighbors are for theirs, but in this no individual can stand against the reckless might of a power hungry state.
     Now is the day that all of us who value our individual rights must work together to humble the state, so that later we will still have the freedom to go our separate ways.
     Let us not meekly accept the answers given and return to our daily routines as if satisfied, but instead let us voice our questions and complaints with an ever louder condemnation of the misconducts of those who would control us.