Any time a mass shooting occurs, the immediate aftermath always includes those who are opposed to gun ownership as a right making their arguments, and those who support such a right launch their counter attack. Since I believe in the principles of the 2nd amendment myself, I’m forced to point out the flaws in these arguments.
So why don’t we ban alcohol, since “No one needs to drink alcohol,” (remember, most people argue “no one needs an ‘assault’ rifle”)? Oh wait, we tried that, didn’t we?
During the dreaded Volstead act years, (aka Prohibition), crime went up, not down. While alcohol was banned, it was still quite rampant. Except all the people using it were now criminals. And the people selling it became murderers lest they be locked up.
On December 5th, 1933, then president Roosevelt announced the 21st Amendment had been ratified, a repeal of the 18th Amendment that was prohibition, and the worst violation of the U.S. Constitution’s principle of liberty was finally undone.
Decades later, in June of 1971, Richard Nixon, seemingly fully ignorant of the lessons of prohibition, announced the War on Drugs, and much like prohibition, it has also led to more violence while drugs are still readily available to nearly anyone who can afford them.
So what evidence do we have to believe that banning or restricting guns will lead to a different outcome? The aforementioned drug and alcohol bans have simply created black markets that aren’t nearly as selective about who they sell to, and increase crime doing so.
Many point out that other countries don’t allow guns, and they’re doing fine, but it’s important to point out that they didn’t start out with that right, as America did. So that’s one reason why it might work there when it wouldn’t work here. They don’t already have many guns in the marketplace, and there’s also a cultural issue that resides within the majority of American’s that owning a weapon of self defense is a right, that you would have to overcome.
I will continue to argue we have a mental illness problem, as much or more so than we have a gun problem. In principle alone, I do not believe in restricting the rights of millions of good people (legal gun owners like myself who have never, nor likely will ever kill someone) because of the actions of bad a few.
Instead, I’d concede that all firearm sales be subject to background checks, even private sales, such as the ones at gun shows. Many gun-rights advocates may part with me on that point, but the fact remains that someone who would fail a background check currently, could go to such an event, and buy from a private attendee (vendors at gun shows still do background checks, just now private owners who are looking to swap).
That person—leaving with a gun, was in violation of the law if they knew they wouldn’t have passed the background check, but the seller and the show itself were fully within the law, and our current background-check system, in that moment, has failed.
But if we look deeper, most of these mass shootings are from violent psychopaths, many of whom had a history of psychiatric care prior to committing their heinous acts.
If only their respective doctors were to convene, as doctors are sometimes known to do, and collaborate on a system to order further evaluation of someone they have diagnosed with a disorder that the doctor determines makes the patient a danger to others, then submit a suggestion of a firearms restrictions to the FBI so that person would fail a background check, maybe some of these mass shooting could be prevented.
But the fact is that bad people are always going to exist so long as we don’t find some magical way to genetically modify humans to a eliminate the qualities that lead one to be a violent psychopath. That of course assumes it’s a genetic defect versus a product of the person’s environment in the first place; a subject for another post.
So the real issue is that when one of these people does go on a killing spree, there can be no mistake that there are only three things that can stop them.
A change of heart. (I don’t recall an incident where this has ever happened)
Running out of ammo (Happens, but usually after a lot of people are dead)
Or a good person with a gun takes action to stop them.
In my opinion, the best way to end gun deaths of innocent people, is to promote gun ownership to good people, so that more good people are armed and prepared to deal with the bad ones when they go off on a rampage. Terrorists and spree killers aren’t going to snuff themselves out, after all.
The latest litmus test for politicians seems to be the idea of mandatory versus voluntary vaccinations. Even libertarians are somewhat divided on this, but the liberty-minded factions seem to support pro-choice, and the statist-leaning folks are going towards making them mandatory.
First, let’s point out that most people agree that vaccinations are one of mankind’s greatest medical achievements. Whether you’re pro-choice or not, I think we all agree that science has proven them to be overwhelmingly effective.
Rand Paul recently weighed in that he supported a pro-choice position, but he got himself into trouble when he stated, “I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.”
If I were to give Rand Paul the benefit of the doubt here, I would like to believe he was simply arguing that some people are afraid of vaccines because children have been diagnosed with mental disorders after being vaccinated, as a means to explain why people might not want to vaccinate, even if this is anecdotal evidence, which is definitively not scientific.
To over-simplify things a bit, living things introduced into your body that don’t have your DNA will be seen by your immune system as a threat, and your immune system will go about trying to destroy it.
On a side note, as fantastic as this may sound, I don’t think I’m overstating this one iota when I say that this particular field of research will revolutionize the world of medicine forever; we are truly on the cusp of never needing organ donors again.
Think of the vaccine as a new first-person war-simulating video game you just bought. At first, you don’t know any of the levels, how to defeat any of the enemies, etc. So you play the game on its easiest mode until you learn the most effective means to slay your enemies. Once you’ve mastered it, you are ready for the more advanced levels.
This is what vaccines are effectively doing. Because the vaccine is a dead or weak form of the virus, it’s like the game on “easy” mode where it’s of little to no threat to you. In this state, your body can train itself to kill the virus so it’s better prepared to kill the full strength version down the road, if it’s introduced into your system.
So why does it not work sometimes? Well, what if the copy of the video game you received was Halo, but the real disease is Call of Duty? You’ve prepared for the wrong game. There isn’t just one influenza virus, there are various strains. So it’s important that the medical field do their research well and introduce a vaccine that prepares you for the influenza strain that is expected to be most prevalent.
Now, let’s also explore the effects on your body when you get a vaccine. Your immune system is not magic, it uses energy from what you consume—energy you would otherwise use to run, jump, and play.
So it’s not uncommon for some short-term effects as your body diverts its resources to the battle you’ve just entered it into with the vaccine. When you get sick, you get weak also, right? It’s because your body is diverting energy to fight the virus you have. Whether it’s a vaccine or a live virus, your immune system has a lot of work to do, and you will be affected in that moment.
Some people online have posted memes asking the question, “If vaccines work, and you’ve had one, why are you concerned if I get one?”
On the face of it, it seems like a fair question, but it’s one born out of ignorance. As I stated above, at best, they seem about 90% effective. So imagine a scenario that I am interacting with you, and you have the virus in question. If you haven’t been vaccinated, there’s a 1:10 chance I may get the disease from you. But if you’ve also been vaccinated, that means my risk now goes from 1:10 to 1:100 (1/10 x 1/10 = 1/100). The more people who get vaccinated, the more the odds go down.
If enough get vaccinated, the odds will eventually exceed the number of people in an area, and the disease will likely be eradicated. Meaning that if the odds of you catching it get to 1:1,000, but there’s only 900 people in your community, the odds would then favor eradication of the disease—basic math.
Assuming you’re not an anarchist, almost all of us believe government’s duties are to protect our rights. Statists think government has many more duties, but I don’t know of any non-anarchists championing government causes that don’t include protecting rights first. The most important of these rights? The right to life.
So if vaccines are anything less than 100% effective, which they are, government enforcing you to get one isn’t for your benefit, it’s to protect others from you if you catch the virus.
What so often happens is people want to create a paradox to sound smart, something no one should ever intelligently do. For instance, it’s like asking a Christian if God can build a wall so high even he can’t climb it—a purely nonsensical question.
Arguing that vaccines should be a choice creates a similar liberty-paradox. Because while you’re giving liberty to one person, you’re effectively taking it away from everyone else they’ll come in contact with, which mathematically, is a net loss for liberty.
It would be no different from arguing that slavery should be legal because it gives liberty to the slave owner, or as Greg Gutfeld pointed out (I don’t want to take credit for his argument), it would be like legalizing drinking and driving because you’re restoring liberty to the future AA member.
The only way you are truly for liberty is if you champion the view that gives the greatest amount of liberty. Giving one person liberty while denying the rights of ten others, is not a libertarian position, it’s a selfish one, in my opinion.
Now, you can rightfully argue I’ve created my own liberty-paradox by denying the right of the anti-vaccine person, but I have an answer for that. If they choose to self quarantine in some way, then by all means, let them not vaccinate. I’m perfectly OK with that—problem solved, paradox gone.
Otherwise, I think the only fair libertarian position is that you cannot own a slave, you cannot drink and drive, you cannot drive a car without insurance to cover me if you hit me, and as much as I hate government mandates, I feel you should not be allowed to introduce yourself or your children into the public arena unless you vaccinate.
Republican staffer Elizabeth Lauten was recently under fire for making a moral judgment about Malia and Sasha Obama’s chosen attire. She rightfully resigned her position at the GOP; it was a stupid thing to do and would only hurt her party going forward if she stayed.
Lauten stated that the girls needed to show “a little class,” that they should “act like being in the White House matters to you,” and that they should “dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar. And certainly don’t make faces during televised public events.”
Certainly Lauten has the right to her opinion, but that’s just it, it’s her opinion. I saw the outfits in question, (see pic below)and considered them not even remotely offensive or suggestive.
Elizabeth Lauten is everything that is wrong with the GOP in a nutshell, because she is behaving like the Democrats that her party rightfully condemns for sticking their nose into people’s personal lives.
Lauten attempted to make a moral judgment, but there is only one true moral—liberty. The rest of these issues are differences of opinion.
If you look at laws that we all generally agree on, they’re laws against assault, murder, theft, and other victimful crimes.
But if a moral judgement in question is deemed by some people to be perfectly moral, that’s a good sign maybe your “moral” issue is not in fact affiliated with morality in any way.
Things like homosexuality, drug use, prostitution, and clothing choices are matters of opinion and have nothing to do with morality, except in the context of a particular religion—a belief system a growing number of us are not encumbered with.
So when politicians and their staffers are considering making a moral judgment about someone, then opt to share via social media or interviews, they need to think about what they’re about to say before they say it.
So I’ve prepared a simple checklist for politicians to consider before spouting off:
Is the person I’m about to character-assassinate harming anyone in the act I’m about to criticize them for?
If the answer is no, stop and don’t say a thing.
If the answer is yes, have at them. Most people will agree if you can show causational harm being done. You’re on solid ground in such arguments
Can science back up the thing I’m about to present as fact?
If yes, cite sources. You’ve done your homework.
If science refutes it, are you educated in science?
If no, stop! Don’t say a thing. You don’t know what you’re talking about, so let it go. Debunking controlled studies is not in your wheelhouse and you’ll look stupid doing it.
If yes, unless you can cite a study as noted above, feel free to point out the flaws in the study as you see them, but be prepared for other peers to either side with you or against you. Good luck.
If neither you, nor scientists have done any properly controlled studies you can cite, it’s likely a matter of opinion, not fact, and you should present it as opinion with a clear omission of any intent whatsoever to impose that opinion on others. If you can’t handle that, then stop, don’t say a thing.
Sarah Palin was ridiculed for wanting schools to teach intelligent design. While as an atheist, I am not in favor of this in the science classroom (it’s OK for social studies), to her credit, she stated she was not pushing for this legislatively, it was just her belief. While I may not be Palin’s biggest fan, that’s how it’s done when speaking on matters of opinion—all credit to her.
The word moral is defined as concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character.
So if something is immoral, it must contain an interaction between two people, where one of them is harmed. Unless Elizabeth Lauten wants to argue her eyes were intentionally damaged by Malia and Sasha while looking at these pictures, she should have kept her opinion to herself.
I think the majority of us feel Elizabeth Lauten showed a far greater lack of moral character by verbally attacking the two daughters simply because she didn’t agree with their fashion choice than Malia and Sasha ever showed with their fashion choices.
The issue here is a simple enemy complex. Those of us who are not hip to the president’s policies are split into two groups.
Logical people like me, who can offer praise to the president when he does something I agree with, remain neutral on things that I could care less about, and disagree when I feel like we have a moral dilemma we can never agree on.
But then there are people like Elizabeth Lauten who are so full of hate for the president, that they will latch on to any opportunity to bash the president, even going so far as to attack his children’s clothing choices. It’s as if she was going to make some brilliant argument about how the Obama’s are poor parents, but it failed miserably.
Such over-enthusiastic hate for the president, which results in an attack wherever one is seen possible, is no different than the nonsense Rev Al Sharpton brands as racism which usually isn’t. It’s the “crying wolf” dilemma where constant attacks from everywhere destroy your credibility, instead of targeted attacks when they are truly warranted.
Too often, those of us on the side of liberty forget that most voters are independent and could be swayed one way or the other. We will not help our cause be being the Al Sharpton’s of the right—people will run away from us in drives. Sometimes, it’s better just to shut the hell up. If you’re opponent is behaving in a way that many people do not like, let them harm themselves. Most people will naturally take notice, you don’t always need to point it out yourself.
Imagine a scenario where a middle-aged person of average health like myself gets confronted by a would be attacker who is much younger, fitter, stronger, and faster. I’m expected to make an attempt to flee in states where Duty-To-Retreat is the legislation du-jour instead of Stand-Your-Ground.
What happens in this scenario? Ultimately I run—hopefully to some place safe. But this creates a very unsafe situation for me instead of my attacker, because now I’m on defense and I have to hope I can run fast enough to get away. I also have to hope my attacker doesn’t have a gun, because I wouldn’t know once I started running; I have my back to them—a position that makes me as vulnerable as a person can be. Plus, like most people, I can’t outrun a bullet, if they’re armed.
In this situation, the victim is ultimately expected to put themselves in a more dangerous position because of the actions of a would-be attacker, but also they’re often expected to abandon their property as well. But why does the attacker get the benefit of having the upper hand or having their rights protected while mine are diminished?
With Stand-Your-Ground, I simply draw my gun, keep my eyes on my would-be attacker, and ultimately either they flee, or they get shot due to a scenario they created. I could flee if I thought it was the best way to protect myself, but I shouldn’t have the threat of 20-to-life hanging over me if I opt not to.
The problem has often been that politicians hear news stories about young attackers getting shot and killed and court voters as the compassionate one who feels it’s a tragedy a child is dead. While I agree it is sad on the face of it, I feel this is disgusting to act as if a young felon’s life is somehow more important than the life of the innocent victims they decided to attack.
Let’s dispel some scientific nonsense first. Nothing magical happens at 18 years of age. There’s no radical change that takes place in the human body. Making 18 the age of adulthood was something Americans decided via legislators, and it has little do with science. It is generally just that we know humans stop growing around that age, not their mental capacity to understand the weight of their actions; that varies from person to person.
To act as if a 16-year-old for instance, who is putting someone’s life or property at risk with malicious intent is somehow innocent or unaware of what they are doing, or doesn’t understand the heinousness of the act, requires a monumental amount of ignorance.
To act as if the victim should understand the person is under 18 is equally nonsensical. Attackers usually don’t show you an I.D. first.
I don’t want anyone to die needlessly, but whatever bad outcome happens to a violent felon caught in the act, up to and including death, is justice in my eyes. Whether they are 14, 18, or 40 is irrelevant. They voluntarily chose to create this situation, and they’ll potentially pay the price for it. If so, they will serve as a warning to others not to choose a psychopath’s lifestyle.
However, an often not discussed issue I want to delve into is the psyche of the victim. While I don’t profess to live in the middle of gangland, I have had the unfortunate honor of being attacked, robbed, and had a gun put in my face at different times in my life.
While it’s easy for politicians to pass laws that a rational person would adhere to, until you’ve been victimized, it’s impossible to understand the natural and sometimes uncontrollable rage that will fill every victim who is put into that situation.
In each instance, if I had been carrying a firearm, I would have emptied it into my attacker and then probably pulled the trigger at least a dozen more times to make sure there weren’t any bullets left that my gun just somehow missed.
Now maybe you’re thinking I’m a violent guy, but I’ve genuinely never instigated a physical altercation, so the evidence indicates otherwise. These three instances are the only ones I’ve been involved in since 5th grade, and all of them were unprovoked on my part.
It is a fool’s mission to expect a reasonable person to behave reasonably when they are thrust into a situation that puts them in mortal danger. It’s hard to predict what a situation like that will do to someone, but assuming they’re not an emotionless sociopath or a trained soldier mentally equipped for such an act, it will affect them in a way they’ve never been affected before, and a controlled outcome should not be expected.
Putting innocent victims in jail because they overreacted to a violent attack is one of America’s biggest atrocities it commits on its own denizen.
Not only do I believe that the Constitution should be amended to include Stand-Your-Ground, I also believe that the law should clearly state two things:
Attackers have no rights during the commission of, or while fleeing from a felony. Nor shall they or their family have any legal right to civil damages incurred by their counter-attacker later.
If the victim, or an innocent bystander harms the attacker in any way during the commission or fleeing of a felony, the person acting against the attacker should be immunized from all criminal prosecution.
(In both instances, I emphasize during the act—I do not condone hunting them down later in an act of vigilantism)
I understand that people may think my idea is radical and heartless, but you shall not convince me I’m on the moral low ground.
While I do value life, I only value the lives of people who respect the rights of others. If you opt to attack, rape, murder, or rob another person, I feel your early and untimely death will be to the benefit of humanity.
It not only protects society from your future bad acts, but if sociopathy is genetic, which some in the psychiatric profession suspect it is, the genes of a sociopath are removed from the gene pool as well. From a purely logical standpoint, my argument makes the most sense to advance society as a whole.
So what about the Edmund Burke quote? My plan would hopefully encourage the good men from the anecdote to do something instead of nothing. If a victim is killed because a good person who could have helped opted to do nothing out of a fear of prosecution for intervening, then evil will have triumphed, and the right to life isn’t nearly as Constitutionally protected as it should be.
I call myself a libertarian with a small L. This distinction is pretty simple. It means I believe in the idea of libertarianism, whereas a large L would signify I’m a member of the Libertarian party. Since I believe in the idea of a constitution; technically, I’m a republican with a small R as well.
So why do I draw these distinctions?
Libertarianism and constitutionalism are principles I hold quite dear. Politicians from the Democratic Party occasionally champion libertarianism; usually on social issues such as marriage rights for the LGBT community. Republicans champion libertarianism on fiscal issues such as lower taxes and deregulation. Libertarians of course, champion libertarianism on both counts.
As such, since libertarianism can be found in all three parties at times, I don’t feel it is justified to stand silent when a member of a party other than the Libertarian Party does something good just because I don’t want to “promote the enemy.” When a politician is on the right side of liberty, no matter what party they’re affiliated with, they deserve to be recognized for it. Such respect when common ground is found helps to unite us all and gets things done. Partisans who can’t bring themselves to stand with their opponents when they agree are putting party-loyalty before the greater good.
When someone claims to be part of a party, they often feel it necessary to toe that party’s line as well. As such, on an issue where they might be prone to take a counter-opinion, they somehow lose their moral compass in favor of loyalty to their party.
For instance, when I was a member of the Republican party prior to understanding what libertarianism really was, I was against big government, yet was OK with The Patriot Act.
Am I ashamed of that? Ultimately, I have to say yes, I made a mistake.
I feel that George W. Bush believed he was doing what was best for the safety of our nation. I also saw that he expressed reservations about such power and was hesitant to use them unless he felt it absolutely necessary to save ‘Murican lives. So I trusted him with this power because I trusted him as a person, and therefore expected he would not abuse it.
But seeing the NSA abuses (among others) that have ensued since he left office tells me that the current ruling party are not encumbered by such reservations.
As such, I realize that even if I think a sitting president will serve the greater good with powers that are proposed to be bestowed upon them, such powers are bestowed upon successive presidents as well, and I must take that into account.
So now I’m committed to the notion that I will not support a legislative power given to someone I trust that I wouldn’t support with someone I didn’t trust—lesson learned.
But let’s look at my polar opposite; political pundits on TV who were furious about the Patriot Act during the Bush administration who seem to have few qualms with Obama’s abuse of those powers now. It’s clear they’re exhibiting a cult mentality where their leader can do no wrong—or they’re just plain hypocrites.
I was a person who simply failed to see the slippery slope, which admittedly was my ignorance, but they saw it as problematic from the word go, yet somehow decided it was good now that their guy is using it.
Libertarians aren’t immune to this nonsense either. Like any other political-party zealots, they can be very cultish and don’t deserve any less ridicule for doing so. They’re no better than a Debbie Wasserman Shultz for instance; a woman who takes lying and double-speak to an exquisite art form to defend her beloved Democratic Party.
If I tweet one role of government I agree with, I often get anarchist-libertarians attacking me with vitriol, name calling, and the “you so-called libertarian” nonsense.
A fundamental part of libertarianism is the idea that people should be free to think independently, yet espouse a different belief from some libertarian zealots, and you’ll find they often seem to forget that principle. Zealots from all parties are often incapable of separating opinion from fact, and understanding that only factual information has a right and wrong answer. Agreeing to disagree is the adult-like way to handle differences of opinion.
So instead of pledging allegiance to a party made up of people who will inevitably disagree with me at some point, I champion ideals and the people who share those ideals with me when we agree. When they don’t, I attempt to respectfully critique them by explaining my grievance with logic and reason. Whether their part of the Democratic, Republican, or Libertarian party is irrelevant to me.
For instance, I make no bones about believing Rand Paul is the best hope to shift our country towards libertarianism despite him being a Republican, yet I don’t agree with him on his stance against gay marriage and abortion. Once I discovered he differed from me on these issues, I didn’t start insulting him as if somehow he had unforgivably betrayed the cause, or become the Antichrist. I accept that we simply don’t agree on these particular issues, but that we still agree on most of the others.
If you endeavor to find a candidate who is entirely in line with your beliefs, you’re on the most foolish of missions. Getting enraged because the candidate you like suddenly espouses a belief you’re vehemently against only serves to needlessly increase your blood pressure, and frankly, if you’re the type to do this, you deserve it. It’s time to put on your adult-shoes and accept that no one is your ideological identical twin—get over it.
It is inevitable that at some point, those you place complete trust in will disappoint you. From your sweet & innocent little baby that destroys your prize lava lamp to see what’s inside, your spouse who accidentally forgot your birthday, or your favorite politician who is pro-life when you’re pro-choice. If you’re not going to put your kid up for adoption, or divorce the forgetful spouse, why crucify your favorite politician?
So while people and parties will occasionally disappoint, ideals never will, and frankly, no one outside your party respects a party zealot anyway. If you want to get things done, put aside parties, and stand with those who champion your ideals. The rise of independent voters is well noted. So I’d like to think I’m not the only one thinking this way.
If I were to run for office, I’d proudly run as a Libertarian or a Republican just as Ron Paul and Gary Johnson did, there’s nothing wrong with identifying with both if you care more about ideals than parties.
We’ve all seen them; and we may have gotten a friendly letter in the mail from our local government as a result of them as well. Those infernal speed and/or traffic light cameras.
The people who advocate for them say that they are a deterrent to dangerous driving and therefore reduce accidents, but when scientists actually tabulated the results, it turns out those making the “deterrent” argument are often mistaken.
I’m not completely ignorant of the potential benefit of these devices. During the investigation of an accident, all that is truly desired is the truth; these cameras can provide that. If for instance, an accident occurs, and in an attempt to determine who was at fault, the police wish to review footage from a camera, then this is a very good and fair use of such devices.
But when these devices trigger legal action, this is what changes such machines from a technology advancement in investigation towards the ominous Big Brother. George Orwell’s 1984 was not a heart warming story where Big Brother was a robotic June Cleaver after all, I suspect people from almost all political sides were bothered by it.
The reason this is wrong is that it defies the purpose of our government, which by design, exists solely to protect our rights. As such, the point of traffic laws is to ensure people drive safely so as not to harm other motorists, violating their right to life and/or property. The financial penalties should be to help pay for the people to do the work of enforcing traffic laws and to serve as an incentive not to do it again. The government is not a business intended to make a profit, so revenue generation outside the tax structure violates the core of our nation.
So how is a real police officer doing a traffic stop any different from one of these cameras? There are two very important distinctions.
Every day, people manage to drive safely along the highway using the unwritten rule of 5-10 m.p.h. above the speed limit, and they often do so in front of police who rightly determine that as long as people are driving safely, they don’t need to be hassled. But machines cannot make such judgment calls, they are purely indiscriminate.
The second issue is that if an officer on duty sees someone driving unsafely, they will pull them over in an effort to stop them before they harm someone; something I think is often abused, but is necessary nonetheless. There’s never any way to know of course, but it likely saves lives.
A camera doesn’t stop anything however, the motorist continues on their merry way until days later when they receive a letter with their picture on it, if they were driving so dangerous as to likely kill someone, the deed was already done.
So if we understand from the study mentioned above that they are not an effective deterrent, and we know they don’t physically prevent someone from driving unsafely, then their only purpose left in life is investigation, and revenue generation—only one of which should be acceptable.
My idea? A “No Big Brother” constitutional amendment. The verbiage would go something like this:
The right of the people to not be policed, fined, or governed by an inanimate object shall not be infringed. Inanimate devices either owned and/or operated by government may not be used as an impetus for legal action.
Governments have already spent millions of taxpayer dollars on these devices, so I’m not suggesting they be scrapped altogether; that would be wasteful. But while 1984 may be fictional, that doesn’t change the fact that these devices are a fairly accurate representation of how something like Big Brother would start if left unfettered. If we endeavor to remain a free country versus a policed-state, that means at some point a line must be drawn.
Our forefathers couldn’t have accounted for this, 1984 was not written or even imagined back then, electricity wasn’t even understood. But this is why they left open the amendment process so that in the future, new restraints on government could be added to fit the times and protect our liberties from an oppressive government, which is the underlying point of the U.S. Constitution.
The line I’m drawing is fairly simple. If an occurrence needs investigated, use all the technology available to do so. However, if there has been no crime or incident reported, these devices should just be recording information that will be forever ignored.
Our forefathers may not have been able to anticipate a surveillance state, but every ounce of recorded history shows that they certainly didn’t expect nor want the government to be making the king’s ransom.
For many, an interest in politics, who our leaders are, and which political side we’ll choose to stand on is sparked by single events. For me, as a pre-teen adolescent, it was the Iran hostage situation. I could not fathom how one of the world’s two superpowers was allowing a little 3rd world country to hold our people hostage. It was troubling, and I detested Jimmy Carter for not sorting it out. To be fair to Carter; being so young, I was blissfully ignorant of the behind the scenes actions that were being attempted—all I saw was the big picture.
The long lines at gas pumps, thanks to Carter’s poor handling of OPEC, were hurting adults trying to make a living as well, but as a kid, I simply didn’t understand economic issues yet, so it didn’t really affect me like the Iran hostage situation. As we all know, Ronald Reagan took office, and our hostages came home. From then on, I was a Reaganite.
One of the things that upset me this past election was the notion that the economy was still so horrible because of what Obama inherited. While we all mostly agree he did inherit a poor economy, four years later, is it really an acceptable excuse?
As Reagan took office, he inherited a misery index of 20.76. It was the highest recorded misery index in history going back to that statistic’s inception in 1948—it hasn’t been to a higher level since either. Carter may have been a nice man and a brilliant scientist, but as a president, he failed miserably at maintaining America’s economic strength, much less growing it.
By comparison, Barack Obama inherited a misery index of 9.65. Less than half of Carter’s benchmark. While I agree G.W. Bush’s handling of the economy at the end was poor, it was a far cry from the disaster Carter presided over.
So approaching the “Inherited a poor economy” argument, let’s see how Reagan and Obama handled what they inherited:
After four years under Reagan, the misery index improved from the aforementioned 20.76 to 11.81—a significant improvement. After four years of Obama, it went from 9.65 to a slightly worse 10.15. Reagan wins this battle; one point for the Gipper.
But let’s delve further. If we look at GDP numbers, at the end of the Carter administration, dividing our total GDP by our population, we have approximately $11,433 per person in 1979. After 1983, that number improved to $15,171; an improvement of 25%.
Now let’s look at Obama. In 2008, the average GDP per capita was $47,363. At the end of 2012, that number grew to $49,494; an improvement of 4.3%. Reagan wins again; two points for the Gipper.
All that being said, one of the fairest tests of a president in a democratically-elected contest is how he is judged by the people he governs during a reelection. After four years of Reagan, he resoundingly beat Walter Mondale 49 to 1 states—Minnesota the lone stand out. He won 525 electoral votes compared to 13 for Mondale, and a popular vote of 58.8% vs 40.6% (54,455,472 to 37,577,352 votes). This means that a Republican actually won the left-wing bastions of California and New York! It was the greatest election defeat in history.
Barack Obama against Mitt Romney on the other hand was 26 to 24 states; 332 to 206 electoral votes; 51.1% to 47.2% with 65,910,437 votes to 60,932,795. We’ll call that an easy Reagan victory as well—three to nil; the Gipper.
It was a long time ago, but when questioned about the state of the economy, I don’t remember Reagan blaming Carter his complete first term; he was too busy making his case for the future. He lowered the top-tier tax rate from 70% to 28%, gave people their money back, and just as planned, the economy took off like a rocket. So well in fact, that we reduced the world’s superpower population by half as Russia crumbled while attempting to compete. It was capitalism versus communism; capitalism won.
So why am I promoting Ronald Reagan if I’m a libertarian? Because not only do I believe that the GOP should be the libertarian party, I believe Ronald Reagan was my generation’s closest thing to a libertarian president, and this excerpt from a 1975 interview with Reason Magazine should illustrate why:
If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals–if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.
Now, I can’t say that I will agree with all the things that the present group who call themselves Libertarians in the sense of a party say, because I think that like in any political movement there are shades, and there are libertarians who are almost over at the point of wanting no government at all or anarchy. I believe there are legitimate government functions. There is a legitimate need in an orderly society for some government to maintain freedom or we will have tyranny by individuals. The strongest man on the block will run the neighborhood. We have government to ensure that we don’t each one of us have to carry a club to defend ourselves. But again, I stand on my statement that I think that libertarianism and conservatism are traveling the same path.
One of the constant knocks against Reagan by libertarians and liberals was his massive spending on defense—a criticism he fairly leveled at himself. But people seem to lose sight of the fact that for all of Reagan’s spending on defense, every succeeding president has put more troops in harm’s way than Reagan did. Contrary to belief, he avoided conflicts as well as any president could.
What he did do however, was ensure that America was deemed to be so powerful, that any nation endeavoring to threaten us would understand it would be assured destruction. And with the exception of Russia, it wouldn’t be mutual. He referred to it as peace through strength.
When America was founded, there were many superpowers—we weren’t yet even one of them. But by the end of 1988, in no small part thanks to Reagan, we were the only one left standing, and remain as the only one still today.
If you lead by example, others will follow. America was a leader 200+ years ago in adopting a principle of liberty, and as a result of our success, there are free nations all over the world who followed our lead; including the monarchies we rebelled against so many years ago. Sadly, they may never give us credit for inspiring them, but true greatness doesn’t need acknowledgement, it’s content in the knowledge it is great.
log·i·cal: capable of reasoning or of using reason in an orderly cogent fashion lib·er·tar·i·an: an advocate of the doctrine of free will; a person who upholds the principles of individual liberty especially of thought and action