Middle East vs America: Why They Fight Where We Coexist

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

As I continue to read about fighting factions, suicide bombers, and other coordinated violence in the Middle East, I couldn’t help but notice that here in the melting pot, we have different religions, races, sexual orientations, political parties, and any other separating qualifier one might think of, yet we don’t habitually have these problems.

The KKK and Black Panthers have not blown each other up. The Westboro Baptists haven’t open fired on a gay club. To my knowledge, a physical altercation hasn’t even broke out in Congress. There’s little doubt that many of these people are vehemently opposed to one another, yet they somehow find a way to coexist and get on with their lives instead of declaring jihad and strapping a bottle rocket to their petoot in a crowded square.

Black Panthers
Black Panthers

I am fascinated with human behavior and love analyzing people’s actions, and I think there are obvious reasons for the difference.

Our Constitution is a unique governing document in that it derives its power from the people. Most others grant power to the people. This philosophy has been taught in every American history class since America has had history.

There are instinctual behaviors, such as eating, procreating, avoiding pain; these do not need to be taught. I believe freedom is instinctual too. While many countries try to quash that instinct, in America, the instinct that we are free, with “inalienable rights” has been reinforced in all of us, and, for that reason, we expect a non-tyrannical lifestyle. If someone tries to deny you your instincts, you fight back. We know if you try to take your own life while holding your breath, the instinct of self-preservation won’t even let you harm yourself. Your instincts literally fight off your conscious decisions. So it’s little wonder why the oppressed are always fighting with each other.

If we don’t like our leaders, we just “vote the bums out.” Revolutions are not necessary. We tried it once and learned our lesson. As much as many of us don’t care for Obama, I doubt any sane detractor has considered throwing Molotov cocktails at the White House or taking up arms against our military. Tyranny is something our leaders dip their toes into on occasion but know well and good not to take a few laps around the pool. Such behavior has never been tolerated here.

Molotov Cocktail Thrower
Molotov Cocktail Thrower

People in the Middle East however, generally have no concept of what it is like to be free. As a result of this constant beating into submission, they eventually have to strike back with force or nothing changes.

When people are free, it is common sense to understand that such freedoms extend to all of us, including overtly ignorant and hateful people such as the Westboro Baptists, KKK, Black Panthers, Neo-Nazis, etc. While I think these organizations are deplorable, if I meet one, I generally just give them that “You really are an idiot” look and move on. Unconcealing my carry conceal has never entered my mind. We both just walk away realizing the other “will never understand.”

Science and skepticism play a huge role in our understanding culture as well. While America is largely religious, even those who are devout in their faith still often embrace science. For instance, many believers place their trust in doctors using proven science when they or their children are ill. The idea that maybe God has simply bestowed scientific understanding upon them allows science and religion to peacefully coexist for most of the faithful masses.

Skepticism is important too. If someone came up to you and told you that God wants you to kill your neighbor, most people would likely call 911 and ask them to send the white-coated tailors who always make the sleeves too long.

Straightjacket
Straightjacket

Religion may be important, but in America, we put a premium on human life, and since the Salem witch trials, we rarely kill in the name of any God. But in the Middle East, many are taught that killing for their God is honorable and justified; and they buy into it wholeheartedly.

The fact is that constitutionally-provided freedoms have gone well beyond just their written words. These paradigms allow us to have freedom of the mind, scientific research, and as mentioned earlier, the choice to be a moron. No one among us wants to be a hypocrite, and most of us know that if I allow you to be a Christian, you must allow me to be an atheist.

Freedom of the mind allows one to think whatever they want, no matter how stupid it is. A good example is the 9/11 truthers. Several college science programs, a myriad of science publications, and the majority of the science community, even many who REALLY detested President Bush, have come out and said that this conspiracy is the work of small minds with big imaginations; they’ve done the research to prove it. While those of us with intelligence know better, the fact is, sometimes you have to let an idiot alone with their beliefs, and Americans are largely OK with that. In the Middle East, you’d be executed for making such accusations about your government, but in America, you get an interview with Rosie O’Donnell.

Click Here for a great article about 9/11 conspiracy skepticism

Freedom of scientific research, while not in the Constitution, is still a product of our overall paradigm, and it’s the main reason human life expectancy has nearly doubled in just a few centuries. Radical faiths often prohibit scientific research because it brings the concept of their god into question. But now it’s a conversation intelligent minds on both sides of the fence discuss daily without incident. While some believers complain about specific research, it is more often settled at the voting booth than at the end of the sword.

So why do we get along when they don’t? Short answer—Freedom…that’s why.

 

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Legislation Reform Act: Keep It Simple

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

Recently, the media reported that House Resolution 3309 was debated in the House that would prevent employers from asking prospective or current employees for their social network passwords as a condition of employment. Or did it?

When I heard the bill was voted down (later amended and passed) along party lines, I was furious with House Republicans. One of the few roles of government is protecting Americans from entities that would infringe upon our rights, and this certainly qualifies.

No one would be OK if an employer said, “I need keys to your house so we can have a forensics team go through it before we hire you.” So why are they allowed to see online private information?

While I enjoy networking, I have my account hidden from the public eye. I love sharing views and making new friends, but I choose whom to share that with. Prospective employers are not included.

If I wanted a technical job at the left-leaning NBC network, for instance, I certainly wouldn’t want them knowing I’m a libertarian who is big on gun rights, limited government, and entitlement reform. Since I wouldn’t be in front of the camera, my opinion shouldn’t matter. But I know their views are quite the opposite and would sooner kill a bunny rabbit than hire a conservative.maxresdefault[2]

I have written previously about the importance of skepticism. Don’t presume to know everything just because your favorite news agency told you “all about it.” Do your research from as many outlets available to you and inform yourself.

Practicing what I preach, I found the amendment and read it. Please read here.

(2015 Update: The next session of Congress passed HR 537, which did prevent this practice here.)

Now after reading that, do you see anything in there that prevents someone from asking for your private information? I don’t either. It was an amendment which merely allowed for a law to be passed preventing the practice as opposed to actually preventing it directly. The fact that there was no reason such a law would be prohibited in the first place, made the amendment redundant and moot. Such redundancy leads me to believe that the only purpose by Democrats was solely to slow up a Republican bill the Democrats didn’t care for. Worse yet, it was for a bill to reform the FCC, which has little to do with most private business practices anyway.

Why did Republicans vote it down? Because it didn’t accomplish what the legislators that wrote it proposed it would. So my apologies to those Republicans I cussed out under my breath when I first read the story. Carry on good sirs.

House of Representatives
House of Representatives

So why did it exist and what was its purpose then? I can’t know with complete certainty what Democrats were thinking. But this appears to be an attempt to make Republicans look bad by writing legislation that presents their opponents with a catch-22.

They propose a law and declare it serves a certain purpose, but when opponents actually read it and see that it doesn’t, they vote no accordingly. This then allows Democrats to say, “Those evil Republicans don’t care about you, and this is proof!”

Both parties propose catch-22 legislation which they know won’t pass for political purposes. It’s a deplorable waste of our money and certainly not the work of people who “serve” their constituents. Sadly, there are countless examples, all of which should be offensive to every American since we’re paying for this nonsense.

Let me propose a hyperbolic theoretical question to illustrate my point. Imagine Congress proposed a bill that would legalize cures for 90% of all deadly diseases, but it required the execution of homeless people. Would you approve it?

If you say no, these opponents would say you voted down a bill that cures 90% of all deadly diseases. If you OK it, they would say you’re killing homeless people. Either way, you are made to look bad, which was the only goal of your opponents in the first place.social_media_strategy111[1]

This is the problem with bills that have unrelated multiple components. If Democrats had really wanted the privacy violating practice to stop, it would have been a stand-alone bill that simply read:

No employer shall ask or require a prospective or current employee to allow that employer access to private online content, including but not limited to social networking sites as a condition of future employment.”

Such a bill would likely have easily passed. I know that single-sentence plain English legislation is rare, but it worked pretty well in our Constitution where each provision was largely straightforward and simple. My apologies to compliance lawyers who would need to repurpose their lives as a result, but maybe we should get back to that model.

Since Congress can’t seem to play nice, I propose the Legislation Reform Act:

No proposed legislation may contain multiple provisions that do not directly pertain to each other in a way that dictates one could not exist without the other. Any non-related provision must be proposed, written, and voted on as a separate and individual piece of legislation.

This simple proposal would end any attempts at attaching bad legislation to good legislation just for political gain. Earmarks and other such nonsense would fall victim to it as well.

It would ensure that all proposals are simple and effective in their design and that each piece be voted on based on its individual merits as opposed to the collective merit of countless unrelated parts as is currently done.

The Justice System Needs An Overhaul

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

Imagine our justice system is an old sports car. It was sleek, fast, full of bells and whistles, and a blast to drive—a triumph in modern design for its time. However, like an old sports car, it has been abused, laden with aftermarket junk, the maintenance neglected, rusting away in the yard, and most of the electronics are reminiscent of the infamous Lucas Electronics (jokingly referred to as the Prince of Darkness because the lights rarely worked) whose switches are said to have three positions—off, dim, and flicker.lucas[1]

This description reminds me of our justice system. Over the years, it has gone from a system seeking justice to a system of winners and losers with little regard for justice.

We have people like Gloria Allred, who just want money and recognition instead of justice. We have prosecutors who get so enthusiastic about a high-profile case that they ignore exculpatory evidence just to improve their conviction rate. There are justices who don’t seem to understand that the legislative branch is separate from their own, and we have litigants who look to get rich at the expense of the innocent.

A free market allows lawyers to compete, but the system has done little to penalize those who abuse it. I want to see our LEGAL system be a JUSTICE system again.  So, I’m proposing a “Common Sense Legal Reform Act” which includes, but is not limited to the following:

Scales of Justice
Scales of Justice

Some states have “Loser Pays” legislation; this should be nationwide. Loser pays prevents civil cases where people are unjustly enriching themselves.

For instance, when I was in the insurance industry, we often paid claims that were properly denied because the cost of defending our position in court was more than the cost of the claim, and it did not make fiscal sense to fight it. If these leeches are lawyers, or have one in the family, it often doesn’t cost them anything other than the filing fee, and they end up getting something they do not deserve.

“Loser Pays” legislation would help immensely in reducing such frivolous lawsuits as it would both deter individual from suing unjustly since they would pay if they lost the case as well as encourage victims to fight them regardless of the cost. Many businesses have failed, jobs lost, and bankruptcies incepted because of such unjust litigation. If you are curious, read more about it here.

Manhattan Institute on Loser Pays

Proper management technique entails recognizing the difference between an innocent mistake and a purposeful wrongdoing when disciplining employees. If I had an employee make an innocent mistake, a little coaching was often all that was needed. On the other hand, if someone knew it was wrong and did it anyway, it was potentially a firable offense.

The legal system is composed of legislators, lawyers, judges, police, and a myriad of other trained professionals. Most people don’t take an oath to uphold the law when they start a new career; but these folks sure do, and they should not only know better than to violate those laws, but should be penalized more severely if they break them.

Chief Justice Roberts Being Sworn In
Chief Justice Roberts Being Sworn In

“We the people” trust them to be supremely honorable in their duties, and if that trust is broken, the belief of a government serving its people is lost in a cesspool of distrust. Children used to want to become cops; now they hate them. Why?

While most are invaluable servants of the community, there are a few rogue officers who commit serious felonies. The less than severe penalties they often receive for such corruption infuriate those of us who trusted them. While I may know most are good and honorable, it often only takes one bad apple to ruin the tree for those who are not so fair and optimistic.

Lawyers and judges should be disbarred, police should be removed from serving, and legislators should be impeached for what, in a normal workplace, would be “fireable” offenses. They must hold themselves to the highest of standards and police themselves even more vigorously than they police us. If a doctor purposefully does wrong, they lose their license to practice.  But when Charles Rangel does wrong, he gets nothing more than a glorified tongue lashing and it’s deplorable.

Liability is a term that is often abused and should be redefined to protect the innocent. If someone slips on the ice on my sidewalk because I didn’t shovel it, I’m liable? Give me a break! Let natural selection run its course. If someone is not intelligent enough to exercise caution while treading ice, then they deserve a bump on the head. I should be charging them for the education. Ice-slip-drink[1]

While good Samaritan laws currently exist in some states to protect doctors, it wasn’t long ago that if a doctor stopped to help someone dying on the side of the road, he could be sued if the person died because the doctor couldn’t scrub up, sterilize equipment, etc.

Liability should be restricted to an action where the defendant knew what they were doing was wrong and put people at risk with no mitigating circumstance to excuse it. The idea that I can be held liable because I didn’t anticipate someone getting hurt as a result of my inaction is ridiculous. People should be responsible for damage from their own ignorance, not me for not foreseeing the results of such idiocy.

I’m sick of warning labels on kids bikes that say, “Warning: experienced riders” or labels on paper respirators that say, “Warning: Does not provide oxygen”. FYI, both were featured on an episode of Stossel and are a result of our overly generous definition of liability.WWL2011_blue_bicycle-400[1]

America must get back to basics with the justice system, prevent “get rich quick” schemes, and worry more about the spirit of the law than the letter of it. Until we force Congress to ignore the campaign-generous trial lawyers and address the issue, innocent people will be financially raped by those who have done nothing to deserve such wealth. Where is the justice in that?

 

 

 

PEP Amendment (Privatize Everything Possible)

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

The government shall engage in no service that private enterprise is able and willing to provide not specifically designed to protect the rights of others. – My proposed Constitutional Amendment.

Recently a Michigan woman named Amanda Clayton was discovered to have been using food stamps after winning a million dollars. Once the story broke, her assistance was quickly cut off, but apparently her actions may not have been illegal. (update: She pleaded No Contest for fraud, and eventually was found dead of a drug overdose.)

Amanda Clayton
Amanda Clayton

 

I liken government to a loving three year-old who draws their parent a picture. Sure they mean well, and the picture was drawn with love, but let’s be honest; the kid is not Picasso, and it’s a picture only a mother could love.

Government tries honorably to help the helpless, but if you put food outside for the local feral cat, it’s probably going to get eaten by a raccoon, opossum, or a myriad of other local scavengers because self-enrichment is in every animal’s nature. Whether it was intended for them is irrelevant.

Imagine if I were to put a million dollars in a town square, leave it unguarded with only a sign that reads:

Money for the needy. Take ONLY what you need.

Most understand that money would be gone in seconds, and much of it would be going towards “wants” not “needs,” and not necessarily taken by the needy either. It may seem like they are bad people, but they are not—they are simply doing what comes natural, either by squirreling away every nut they can in case winter comes early and ends late, or just improving their own standard of living.

The government should try to prevent this type of behavior that leads people to take advantage of government programs they don’t genuinely need, but why would they? They do not fear going out of business nor have a bottom line to meet. They have no motive to improve because they don’t have a competitor coming up with more innovative methods they could emulate such as private companies in a free market.

I want America to go crazy with privatization! For example, statistics show charters and private schools predominantly outperform public schools. Some fail, just like any other business, but they will be replaced with newer and better ones, just like any other business.v2002-44a[1]

I’m 40 years old, childless, and sick of paying to educate the children of others. If you’re going to produce children, it’s your fiduciary responsibility to educate them, not mine. I’m even sicker when young people don’t understand why I give them $8.14 for my $7.89 Taco Bell order because they apparently don’t teach mathematics in public schools anymore either. All I want is a freaking quarter, kid!

With my new PEP amendment, the government would be banned from education altogether. Give every citizen their money back from school taxes, and let the parents deal with their children’s education how they best see fit.

The post office loses money like a gambling addict in Vegas. Let Fed-Ex or UPS buy up that business. Their balance sheets show they’re clearly better at it, and if the USPS went away, one of them would certainly pick up the slack more cheaply and efficiently. Some might argue that if this were true, Fed-Ex and UPS would already do it, but since 1845, federal law prohibits any organization from delivering 1st class mail outside USPS.uspslogo1[1]

Private jails have proven to be far better economically than government-run ones. Privatize them all!

Ever watch a public road crew work? There are five supervisors watching one guy do all the labor. You can just feel your tax dollars burning, and you can’t even make s’mores with the fire. When the government allows private companies to bid for these jobs, they are almost always done ahead of schedule and under budget because companies get rewarded for doing so. The quality of the work is often better as well.

Back to the lottery person and entitlements in general; I used to work for an insurance administrator overseeing the claims process. We were literally in charge of a third party’s checkbook. We processed claims using our expertise on contractual law, parts resource knowledge, ability to detect fraud and waste, and so on. There are many similar administrators–some good, some bad. The bad ones failed, but we grew strong because we paid every legitimate claim possible while guarding the checkbook like our life depended on it. Oh wait, it did.

If the government had paid us to do so, I have no doubt we could have protected your tax dollars from Welfare, Social Security, Food Stamp etc. fraud and waste far better than they do themselves.

A friend argued that if we got an incentive for saving money, we would just avoid paying claims altogether and deny everything. However, we would still answer to our claimants as well as our employer. If we didn’t pay legitimate claims, we’d open ourselves to lawsuits which are more expensive than just paying the claim, public outrage, our auditor’s ire, and the people with the checkbooks taking their business elsewhere.

The one shining example of our government doing something right is our military. Ever notice that the military doesn’t build much? They get planes from Northrup Grumman, weapons from Colt, vehicles from AM General, etc. It’s a great example of the government utilizing the private sector whenever possible, and it works damn well as evidenced by our dominant military might.

I’m sure many of you could think of more instances where government could turn services over to private companies. I’m also confident most of our legislators could as well. It’s time we Americans demanded it of them.