Saturday, June 22, 2013

Government Should Exist Without Morals

Morals are a good and proper thing for a functioning society. They serve to govern the relationships between individuals, shared opinions among cultures, and provide structure for the discussion of the undefinable absolutes (right versus wrong). However, given their very objective nature, they do not provide a finite answer. What is deemed acceptable by one culture may be very objectionable by another. While there is nothing wrong with the differences in these objective definitions, conflict will arise between those that are overly invested in their version of virtue. Every religion, culture, or other definable segment of the population suffers from people that take the sentiments of their shared beliefs to the edge of considerations, and endeavor to force those views onto others. An individual, embracing the narrative of his ideals, is limited in what he can accomplish. A group, sharing the same viewpoint, while their voice is stronger, can’t inflict change, but only try to inspire agreement. A governing body, empowered by the consent of the masses with a monopoly on the use of force, can instill the viewpoints it agrees with.

Therein lays the threat of allowing a Government to legislate morality. Whose morals are going to be enforced? Such is the threat of a Democracy, where the whims of the majority reign. One group, with a shared belief of what is morally right, utilizing governmental might to enforce their view points and infringe the rights of those that disagree with them. Some public debates of the day that best reflect this problem are the issues of Abortion and Gay Marriage. Religious sentiments are that each is morally wrong, found in violation of the teachings they espouse, or at least the understanding that those opposed have adopted. So, they rally those that agree with their views around them and voice their objections, an activity protected by the Constitution. They vote for politicians and legislators that share their belief, that if elected will work to govern by these beliefs. These officials promote legislation that endorses and enforces these beliefs on the rest of society.

At that point, the limitation of Government Authority has been violated. For, much to the supposed chagrin of those that wish otherwise, the United States of America was constructed as a Republic, limited and governed by the rule of law, vice suffering the whims of the majority. The powers granted to the Federal government by the Constitution are finite, purposefully done to limit the overall power it can wield, for the stronger government is the less liberty the citizen can enjoy. Yet, despite those limits, our Federal Government has continued to enhance and extend its authority over the member States, taking actions that overreach the authority granted to it. Such activities have been allowed to take place because of the grand abdication of responsibility by the majority of the populace. In each of the mentioned arguments, and the many others that plague society, people view government as a tool to instill their ideals, doing so either in spite or ignorant of the fact they are violating the rights of those they object to. Government officials, eager to retain or gain authority in their office, follow the sway of the majority, placating the crowd. The crowd embraces the overreach of government, specifically in the areas that reflect and support their interests, surrendering more power to the behemoth.

Such is the threat of allowing the Government the power and ability to enforce morality on society. Creating social change, by bringing people into agreement with the merits of your belief, is an appropriate endeavor for any citizen. Using the Government authoritarian muscle to violate or subvert the rule of law is a perversion of its design. Everyone must be reminded, as often as it requires that there are things Government not only should not, but can not do.

Personal Viewpoint Corner:
I am opposed to Abortion, mostly because it is a demonstrated abdication of responsibility for actions taken. Past that it becomes a trickier issue that I haven’t completely settled on. At some point, the gestating parasite turns from a collection of cells to a life, with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That should be the defining line of any legislative protection for the ‘unborn,’ which brings its own level of subjectivity. When is the point when it can be considered alive?

Regarding Gay marriage, in their efforts to enforce the morals of one constituency, Government has served to violate the contractual freedoms of another. Government violates the sanctity of Marriage by taking any action at all. Marriage is solely the province of the religious entity that people seek to be wedded by. No matter the religious preference that people wish to be wedded by, that is a protected right to do so, up until it starts to directly conflict the rights of someone else. No one, however uncomfortable they might be, has the right to not be offended. The Governments sole role in this relationship should be to protect the contractual rights of each member, to include the realms of taxes, inheritance, custody, medical decisions, and other related matters. The only limitation the Government should be allowed to place is to ensure each involved party is of an appropriate age of consent and that they are competently entering into the contractual agreement. For clarity, note that I did not allow for any limitation on the gender or number of the participants in the contract. While it is my personal preference for monogamous relationships, why should my will override the will of those that would consensually participate in a polyamorous relationship? 

Friday, June 7, 2013

I support Universal Background Checks!

Following the shooting at Sandy Hook, there was an understandably emotional, yet poorly reasoned, outcry for something to be done. President Obama put out a bold list of goals, matched with a hollow collection of executive orders telling components of the Executive Branch to do their jobs. In the legislature, the possibility of a renewed, stronger, Assault weapons Ban was dead on arrival, and every other ‘important’ measure the President called for fell flat on its face. Despite heavy doses of demagoguery from each side of the issue, the amendment moving to institute Universal Background Checks, heralded as a bipartisan compromise, failed. Represented simultaneously as a common sense measure and an effort to raise the cost of firearm ownership, it was burdened by the agitation of American Gun owners, derided by the anti-gun movement for not doing enough, and the target of massive dollars from both sides. Painted as an opportunistic attack on are freedoms, and defended as a long overdue correction to our countries loop holes.

Separately, the concept of requiring identification and proof of citizenship to vote, to the point of better defending the rights of citizens, is labeled as a sideways effort to disenfranchise the poor, elderly, and minorities. Multiple localities throughout the country have passed laws requiring identification, and are working to improve the requirements to get the identification, while the opposition cries it is a poll tax and will deny others the ability to exercise their rights, moving to challenge the laws in courts. The U.S. Department of Justice takes aggressive steps against locals that try to instill voter id laws, leaping to claims of racial discrimination.

So, the liberal side wants Universal Background checks for firearm ownership, which conservatives object to. Meanwhile, conservatives want a requirement to present proof of citizenship and identification to vote, which liberals object to. Having considered the costs and benefits of each ideal, weighed against constitutional limitations, I believe that there is a move that can gain approval from each side.
The legislature should revisit the Universal Background check legislation, and expand it. Let us make it truly Universal. Rather than just limiting it to the sale or transfer of firearms, make it a step in the application for government issued identification. Everyone would be required to undergo the background investigation as a matter of course, and could use the ID provided to then go forth and exercise the Constitutionally protected rights to vote or keep and bear arms. Rather than violating the 14th amendment to unfairly target one segment of the population, those that exercise the 2nd amendment, this law would apply to all parties. Also, there would be no exemptions for Law Enforcement Officers, Politicians, or any other connected party.

Much like the Individual Mandate of the Affordable Care Act, by requiring that each and every individual of voting/gun purchasing age underwent a background check, the costs for the bureaucratic infrastructure could be spread over the entire population, i.e. those who chose not to exercise their rights to vote or own firearms would subsidize the process for those that do. Overall, this would mostly be an amplification of the process citizens go through in applying for a Driver’s License at the DMV. Currently, most jurisdictions require: proof of citizenship, address in the issuing local, and proof of who you are. Following passage of the Drunk Cynic Universal Background Check, your criminal and mental history would also be taken into consideration, much like sections 11 and 12 of DD form 4473, that anyone who purchases a firearm from a Federal Firearm Licensee must fill out.

Tailing disclaimer: For any actively interested parties, the reason beyond the long delay between posts is that I just completed a massive move, and I didn't want to bother with the stress of diving political topics.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

War of Words

In the ongoing battle of ideologies, Liberal versus Conservative, as currently defined, Conservatives continue to lose ground when it comes to definitions. In some fights, they simply surrender the fight without even firing a verbal volley. The lead cause for the hesitation to properly express their convictions, while working to strengthen the definitions and ideals that are used to portray them, is fear. Political Correctness censors them, concerns about being labeled a racist, homophobic, bigot, or any other expression of villainy by the thought police stills their tongues. People are forced to walk on egg shells, or risk being persecuted and vilified by the press. The mainstream media has made an art of sensationalizing the statements of conservatives, while down playing those of liberals. The bi-polar nature of their actions is a sad example of cognitive dissonance. However, while the media acts like the town crier, and is not without blame, the true tragedy of the situation is the utter lack of moral fortitude from our supposed Conservative leaders. By allowing liberal ideology to control the conversation, determining the wording and definitions that form the substance of our society, they have abandoned the field.  The populace mast gather behind them and either hold them to task, or replace them with better candidates.  The following are an examination of a few of the current talking points about which the representatives of either side bicker, presented for consideration and debate.
Affirmative Action
Affirmative action is not equivalent to equal opportunity. In an effort to assuage guilt for past atrocities, and create a statistic which can be brandished with glee, the government has created the unintended consequence of replacing emotional bias with a persistent government enforced bias. With threats of force, our government has instilled the idea that the work force should be mathematically comparable to the entire population. If the ratios do not coincide, then charges of discrimination are levied. Heavy legal action follows, the mysteriously infinite funds of the government brought to bear against the finite pocket of the accused. Quite aware of the possibility of financial ruin, institutions go out of their way to meet the invisible quotas. When comparing the qualifications of two individuals, the one of lesser merit may win out if they serve to improve the institutions statistical appearance. This decision isn’t made because it will improve the company. If they had chosen the better qualified applicant, they would have been in a stronger economic position. No, this choice was made solely to placate the beast that our government has become.
Through force, government has lowered the bar for acceptance that must be met, not just for those who enjoy a favored minority status, but for everyone. Why strive to be better if less is accepted? Efforts of favoritism serve to discredit the work of everyone. We have arrived at a point where it is considered appropriate to judge people by the color of their skin, or by their gender, before considering their character.
Illegal Immigration
If someone entered the country without official documentation, they have broken the law and are here illegally. While credit should be given for their attempt to improve their lot in life, their willful violation of the laws of this country is an affront to everyone who abides by them to enter. Companies that employ these illegal immigrants, often at rates much less than they could pay a legal citizen, should be held accountable. States and local governments that abide the invasion, either by ignoring their presence or actively funding them through social services, must be held accountable for those choices. For the Federal government to ignore the porous nature of our nation’s borders, to the point of near abdication of its responsibility to protect them, is inexcusable. However, by employing illegal immigrants, companies can maintain the price of their product or service artificially low, since they can pay the workers less. Further, since the preponderance of illegal immigrants are of Hispanic origin, and the continued growth and importance of the Hispanic voting bloc, our Politicians generally view the situation as a venue for personal gain. Talk of amnesty of is applauded, while direction for state and federal agencies to not enforce the law is quietly ignored. The foremost impact of unregulated immigration is an increased demand on social services, without the corresponding tax dollars to fund it. Swaths of our country are surrendered to drug and human trafficking. American citizens suffer trespasses, theft, and destruction of property, yet when they attempts to mount a defense are confounded with litigation and liberal outcries. States that move to respond to the Federal government’s abandonment on the issue are suddenly confronted by with claims of pre-emption, the federal government defending its continuous inaction by claiming only it can take action.
Despite the financial and sociological ruin wrought by this invasion, it would be a legislative and economic disaster if we attempted mass deportation.  For all the evils it causes, there is a strong subset of the illegal alien population that provide a positive contribution to the American society and economy, aside from their willful violation of immigration law. Their sudden withdraw from the workforce would have an abrupt impact: assuming that the positions these people hold provide a lower wage because illegal immigrants are available to fill them, the salaries would have to be raised to attract citizens. The resultant rise in salaries will give rise to the prices seen at the consumer end, echoing through the economy. Even if the assumption is false, and there is a sudden increase in available jobs, that doesn’t address the feasibility of detaining and deported the untold millions of illegal aliens. It is not logistical supportable; there are not enough personnel in the state or federal agencies combined, not even considering the social outcry that would rise in response to the images of government agents going door to door in their search. Rage would flow from the entire ideological spectrum, Liberals claiming human rights violations, Conservatives claiming it is a warning of future government encroachments on the rights of citizens. Even if they could be identified and arrested, where would we detain them for processing? How would we arrange for their return to the country of Citizenship? Even more confounding, what would we do with the ones that were refused re-entry, detain them from now to eternity?
Considering the nigh impossible task of removing all of them, against the mammoth burden some have placed on social services, we should address the latter, given its higher chances of success. Turning from the subset of illegal immigrants that are industrious or demonstrate a will to be productive members of society, we should target the rest of the population: the dregs, those with qualities more akin to parasites.  Hardened predators that delight in the suffering of others, oppressing their communities through fear.  It is this subset that inflicts the overt destruction from the illegal immigrant community and society at large. Aside from the villainous nature, the worst consequence of their existence is the manner in which they propagate. Through their action, the promise and opportunities for prosperity others might have had is disrupted, a wake of broken dreams left by their passing. For every feel good story of personal triumph over adversity, there is a though of what more they could have achieved if unhindered, of the others that weren’t even that lucky. Amongst the pestilence, there is the weed, those that produce no benefit and cause little harm, but exist as a continuous drain on society. They thrive in their dependency and subsist on charity and hand outs stolen from the efforts of producers by the government under the threat of force. So that the industrious may flourish, the pestilence must be eradicated, and weeds starved out. A focused effort of policing to disrupt the pestilence where it festers, strengthening the community so that it may be more resilient in the future. That sense of community must be fostered, so a chorus of voices will stand in response against the spread of the pestilence, and each individual is better secured in their personal liberties. For the weeds, sever them from the government provided hand outs. They have no entitlement to the services of government as illegal immigrants, no claim to the wealth generated by the labors of another. Bereft of the gentle succor, they will either develop into a productive member of the community and prosper, or descend into criminal acts and suffer. The analogy of pestilence, weeds, and blossoming prosperity is not the province of the illegal immigrants solely. The same can be said of humanity and its entirety, with the same resultant recourse.
In parks and forests nationwide, there are prominent signs prohibiting the feeding of wild animals. The basis is the accepted, and demonstrated, fact that visitors providing food to the animals will lead to a condition of dependence forming. They cease to be self reliant, focusing instead on the easy meals provided for them. Why hunt when it is easier to wait to be fed? Further, the animals will associate humans with easy food, and engage them for more food. Then there is the shift, when the easy meal supply slackens. The now dependent animals, hungry yet bereft of the skills to provide for themselves, will follow the association of humans with food, and strike out.  This demonstrated cycle of dependency has been seen several times over, yet people fail to make the connection to the impact of welfare and similar entitlements.
It is appropriate to assist the down trodden in their time of need. However, this period should not be allowed to continue uninterrupted to perpetuity. It cannot progress to the point where they wallow in dependency, turning from ambition and initiative. For those that devour without production, allowance can be made for private charities, where an individual gives freely of his production, for that work is his by the right of his labor and he can dispense with it as he deems appropriate. However, the use of government force to redistribute the worth of his efforts into the hands of the unproductive is a violation of his property rights, and not within the scope of a just government. When it is understood that wealth can be more easily gained through accruing government favor than personal effort, the louse will take the gentler road, exchanging his vote, his voice, and eventually his liberty. Politicians who promise such trinkets will gain the blind support of the dependent. Seeing the easy reward offered under government favor, sloth will spread throughout the populace, until the receivers outnumber the producers. It will be at that critical juncture that the system established by government favor and the redistribution of another’s wealth will begin to collapse. Then, the shame of government will erode, replaced by anarchy and tyranny, the calm of despotism within a storm of upheaval.
As recently demonstrated, our society has passed the point where this malfeasance can be corrected promptly at the national level. The uninformed are far happy to exchange long term suffering for short term joys. The reigning politicians reflect this reality, sharing the same short sighted perspective as there constituents. Before the whole can prosper, the rot within must be corrected. Conservative ideals must be reintroduced to the country, personal responsibility must be rewarded, and utter dependence is shamed.
All of mankind’s great advancements can be attributed to the work produced by an individual, or the concerted efforts of many individuals. These efforts created wealth, enriching the community. Conversely, those that produce nothing are a blight on society.
What proceeded were concepts, ideals that I hold as conservative beliefs on a couple of issues that are currently facing the country. Sadly, there are several more issues facing the nation, so there will be more commentaries to follow.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Social Lesson - Rape is Wrong!

The social problems of this country are numerous, but they are vastly outnumbered by the failed attempts to solve them. There are people alive today only because I valued my own life more than theirs. Such is the nature of a polite society, where actions, such as morally justifiable homicide, have consequences. Being of sound mind, I understand that if I chose to murder someone, I would also have to deal with the consequences. I think that way because I had the benefit of being raised by responsible authority figures.

The dark opening was inspired by my immediate guttural response to a news story an associate forwarded. The short summary is that a high school student celebrated, drank to heavily, and after she was incapacitated, she was molested and raped by peers. While that is damnable in of itself, this wasn't an act committed secretly in a dimly lit bedroom. She was violated in full view, witnesses abound, with videos and pictures beaming her defilement straight to social media. No one stepped to her defense, no one rescued her from a bad situation, and no one called the Cops.

Addressing the problem from the inside out, lets first critique the actions of the victim. Call me callous, a heartless ass, but I hold her at fault. Disregarding the underage drinking, she drank past the point of being conscious of her surroundings. Her choice to lose control of the situation lead to her downfall. Then there are her aggressors, the un-evolved neanderthals that gave not a wit for the girl they violated. While it may have crossed their minds that their actions were wrong, that thought didn't stop them. Their attacks on her person continued, and grew ever bold over the course of the night. Finally, there are the witnesses; those who watched and did nothing. Those who recorded the attack, allowing it to escalate through out the night. These dregs of humanity that lacked the moral fortitude to do any thing proactive. It was this point in the tale when I thought my anger reached it's zenith.

Then I learned about the response from the authorities, and I was proved wrong. My emotions shifted from righteous anger to city burning Old Testament Biblical Fury. Her claims were first dismissed, excused with attacks on her character. Her attackers were local sports heroes, destined for high school greatness and life long mediocrity. Can't allow the truth to tarnish such an image. When calls for justice continued, and the details of the attack spread to the internet, those raising the rallying cry were charged with defamation of the attackers. It took continued actions of the family, a crime blogger, and others to motivate the authorities into action.

After I got past the initial feelings of rage, and images of wrathful vengeance they inspired, I defaulted to thinking about the core problems and methods of prevention. Obviously since twenty five percent of American Women have experienced rape or sexual assault (conservative value), and half of those have involved alcohol, we should re-institute prohibition. Wait, no. Instead, how about some life lessons in understanding your lines of defense.

First line: Be responsible for your own Safety. Don't drink, or use other substances, to the point that you surrender the awareness of your your surroundings. Being observant of the activities around you will enable you to escape a bad situation for it develops and fully encompasses you. Further, if you are a 105 lb female, unless you are built like River Tamm, the 240 lb guy will be able to snap you like a twig. Even if you are, that may not be enough for the four guys that see you as a quick grab. Arm yourself, within the letter of the law. If that means pepper spray, buy some and join the fight for stronger self defense options.

Second line: Don't hang out with opportunistic rapist douche bags. Watch for the signs. In the event you at some point let the first line fall, minimize your risk of it happening around the type that would take advantage of your mistakes. The office tool that makes your skin crawl, the odd guy on the bar that hits on every lady. As an extension, don't trust any drink you didn't watch get made yourself.

Third line: Don't go into battle alone. The victim of this tragedy had no one that would raise a voice in her defense, no shelter from the onslaught of predators. If you have ignored the first two, then don't neglect this one. Even if you haven't, there is the potential for the wolf in sheep's clothing to sneak past. Two person integrity, at the least, will greatly raise your chances of staying safe. If one person had called the cops, or even the victims parents, at the start of her molestation, the destructive impact of the night would have been limited.

When I started reading the story of this girl's suffering, my initial response was an urge for violent action. I wanted nothing more than to find the predators that so impacted her life, and end theirs. Upon learning that people stood by and did nothing, my ever diminishing faith in American society grew even dimmer. I grew up with lessons of chivalry and integrity. From Arthurian legends to the modern tales of Drizzt Do'Urden and Malcolm Reynolds, the gentleman must be ready to come to the defense of the lady (not to discount female empowerment, it is just in my nature to protect). While I understand there are villains in the world, such folk that verge on sociopathic, the existence of people that are so ambivalent turns my stomach.

Past the rage and critique, I felt concern. I will blame it on a mix of animalistic and learned instincts, but my thoughts turned to friends and family. To the women that have positively affected my life falling prey to such crimes. Specifics turned general, and I started looking into rapes and sexual assault statistics. As I looked, I kept finding anecdotes where either action by the victim, or interference from a bystander, would have prevented tragedy. I realized long ago that I was among a dying breed of people raised by responsible figures and blessed with a sense of morals and decency. Yet every where I look, I find more examples of societal decay, peers unaware of the social contract they are beholden to as supposed citizens of the Untied States of America. This is not a declaration of surrender, or an intention to sequester myself in a cloister of the like minded. Quite the opposite; I intend to fight for the country of values that was bequeathed to me by my fore fathers. As Thomas Jefferson said:
God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ... What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.
As a citizen of the USA, I have an inherited responsibility to maintain and strengthen the values that made this country great. It is lapses that has allowed the societal decay that creates predators and miscreants such as those that perpetrated the crimes against the victim of this tale. If I fall, it will be violent, bloody, with me fighting to my last breath, surrounded by the bodies of my enemies (speaking metaphorically of course, unless circumstances dictate otherwise). I urge you to do the same. Be aware of threats to yourself and your loved ones, and stand prepared to respond with sufficient force to not only defeat the threat, but to deter future attack.

(Links to the story that soured my mind: NY Times Sports Page and Crime Blog)