Free Corn, or “Where is John Galt?”

Saw this story on a blog.  True or not, the sentiment is genuine, so I thought I would pass it along.

A chemistry professor in a large college that had some exchange students in the class. One day while the class was in the lab the Prof noticed one young man (exchange student) who kept rubbing his back, and stretching as if his back hurt.

The professor asked the young man what was the matter. The student told him he had a bullet lodged in his back. He had been shot while fighting communists in his native country who were trying to overthrow his country’s government and install a new communist government In the midst of his story he looked at the professor and asked a strange question. He asked, ‘Do you know how to catch wild pigs?’

The professor thought it was a joke and asked for the punch line. The young man said this was no joke. ‘You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come everyday to eat the free corn. When they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming. When they get used to the fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of the fence.

They get used to that and start to eat again. You continue until you have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in the last side. The pigs, who are used to the free corn, start to come through the gate to eat, you slam the gate on them and catch the whole herd.

Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom. They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught. Soon they go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept their captivity.

The young man then told the professor that is exactly what he sees happening to America. The government keeps pushing us toward socialism and keeps spreading the free corn out in the form of programs such as supplemental income, tax credit for unearned income, tobacco subsidies, dairy subsidies, payments not to plant crops (CRP), welfare, medicine, drugs, etc. While we continually lose our freedoms – just a little at a time.

One should always remember: There is no such thing as a free lunch!

Think what you want about our economic mess, but when individuals, We The People, abdicate our personal responsibility to earn a living “by the sweat of [our] brow” in favor of having the government provide for us, the system cannot long survive.

Instead of asking “Who is John Galt?”, I find myself asking “Where is John Galt?”  Where is the man or woman who will stand up against this tide of complacency and, dare I say it, fascism?  One who will call a spade a spade, who will stand on principles regardless of how unpopular that makes them?  One who will extol the principles and virtues that made this country the greatest on Earth instead of castigating those same principles in favor of world opinion?

I pray for this country every night, but with each news headline I read, I feel my faith that this country can turn itself around slipping away.  “Where is John Galt?”

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Published in: on January 21, 2009 at 12:25 am  Comments (6)  
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Just Added – Critical News of the Day Page

In an effort to provide relevant content even when I don’t have time to fully analyze each article or news story, I have created a page with headlines I consider to be extremely important.  You will find the link under My Pages on the right side of my blog.  The first day’s post will be the longest (since I had a bunch I wanted to include from earlier in the week), but I really will try to keep up with it.  So even if you don’t see a new post on this page, check there in case there is a story you may have missed.

Published in: on January 9, 2009 at 11:54 pm  Comments (3)  
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Out of Town for an Astronomy Conference

Sorry I haven’t posted. I am in a hotel in Long Beach, CA for the American Astronomical Society meeting. As soon as I get back, I have grand plans to make sure I post something every day. Stay tuned til later this week.

Published in: on January 6, 2009 at 8:34 am  Comments (2)  

Suggested Reading List

I am going to post a section on the right column of my blog for a suggested reading list. Check out the books there as I think they shed a lot of light on where our country came from, where it is now, and where it is headed.

Published in: on January 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm  Comments (1)  

The Long Overdue Post

OK, so I never did get back to my blog that night.  Life is getting crazier around here.

So much has happened since I last posted that I don’t even know where to begin.  I am just going to briefly hit the highlights (in no particular order) and wrap up with some humor.

1)  Today, Governor Soon-to-be-in-jail-ovitch of Illinois decided to appoint someone to fill Obama’s vacated Senate seat, despite the fact that the Illinois Secretary of State refuses to certify his appointee and the fact that the Senate Democrats have refused to seat anyone appointed by the governor.  He chose Roland Burris, the former state Attorney General.  In a not-so-surprising move, immediately after naming Burris, who is black, Congressman Bob Rush (D-Ill) stepped up to the podium to play the race card.  “I would ask you to not hang or lynch the appointee as you try to castigate the appointer,” said Rush (emphasis added).  Rush said, “I don’t think that anyone, any U.S. senator who’s sitting  the Senate right now, wants to go on record to deny one African American from being seated in the U.S. Senate.”  Blagojevich claims he made the appointment because the legislature failed to enact legislation that would have allowed a special election to fill the vacant Senate seat; however, the seventeenth amendment to the Constitution states, in part, “When vacancies happen in the representation of any state in the Senate, the executive authority of such state shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, that the legislature of any state may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.”  In other words, the states are required to hold a special election – the governor is only empowered to appoint someone until the election can take place.

2)  The Republican National Committee accused George W. Bush of embracing socialism in his bailout efforts.  All I can say is that they are a day late (or months late, as the case may be) and a dollar short (or several trillion dollars short, to be more accurate).  Where was the RNC during the initial bailout vote?!?  Where were they when alarms were going off over Fanny and Freddie?!?  Where was their concern over being the party of smaller government and not nationalizing industries when they were supporting John McCain and his universal health care plan?!?  Hipocrites really tick me off!

3)  Israel finally had enough of the Hamas rocket attacks and began air strikes on military compounds and a tunnel network used to smuggle in weapons and militants into the Gaza Strip.  I keep hearing pro-Hamas people on TV and radio saying that Israel’s response should be “proportional” to the casualties caused by Hamas.  These bone-heads need to look up the word proportional.  One thing can be 3000 times as large as another and still be proportional; it simply depends on the proportionality constant.  You don’t win a war by killing one enemy combatant for every one of your soldiers they kill.  You win a war with an overwhelmingly superior military response that inspires, as George W. Bush put it, “shock and awe” in your enemies.  Also, I would like to point out that Hamas long claimed that they were fighting Israel because there were Jewish settlements in Gaza; those have all been removed.  This is nothing more than Hamas’s desire to inflict civilian casualties on Israeli citizens, so Israel is giving them a taste of their own medicine, just using a much larger spoon!

I was going to include a few more, but it is getting late.  Instead, I will wrap up with a bit of humor.  The Yale Book of Quotations recently released its list of the Top Ten Quotes of 2008.  However, some of these quotes are pathetic and do not rival some potential quotes that could have been used.  Therefore, I present to you my Top Ten Quotes of 2008:

  1. Joe Biden telling Chuck Graham, a parapelegic, to stand up.
  2. Barack Obama visiting imaginary states on the campaign trail.
  3. Biden needs to learn how to count.
  4. I’ll leave this one as it stands:  “It’s not based on any particular data point, we just wanted to choose a really large number.” — a Treasury Department spokeswoman explaining how the $700 billion number was chosen for the initial bailout, quoted on Forbes.com Sept. 23.
  5. Obama sees dead people (long clip, but he makes the statement in the first 15 seconds of the video).
  6. Again, this one is a keeper: “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.” — the Treasury Department’s proposed Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, September 2008 (emphasis added).
  7. Biden rewriting history (FDR wasn’t president when the stock market crashed – Herbert Hoover was, and television hadn’t been invented yet).
  8. Obama promising skyrocketing energy prices under his energy plan.
  9. For me, number 9 is a tie, but since the original article had a three-way tie for number 10, I feel justified.  For me, it is a toss-up between Jesse Jackson’s statement concerning Obama talking down to blacks and Obama’s medical perscription for asthma (breathalyzers are used to test for alcohol consumption, and there is no such thing as an inhilator – he means inhaler).
  10. John McCain has a Freudian slip that is more revealing than he would like to admit.

In case I don’t post again before Thursday, let me wish you all a Happy New Year.  And yes, one of my Resolutions is to post more often on my blog!  Let’s see how well I do.

Published in: on December 31, 2008 at 1:18 am  Comments (2)  
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Holiday craziness in my life

Sorry I haven’t posted in so long. Life has gotten very busy in preparation for … dare I say it in this politically correct environment? … Christmas. There has been a lot of stories in the news that I want to point out to you, so I will try to put together an informative post this evening. In the mean time, have a Happy Rama-Hanu-Kwanz-Mas!

Published in: on December 18, 2008 at 2:40 pm  Comments (1)  

Bush Tries Again…

Oh, how my opinion of George W. Bush continues to fall.  I came across a story that deeply disturbs me in the Washington Post.  It is discussing how the Pentagon has trained the first of several brigades from the Army to be used in law enforcement capacities.  This is in direct violation of the 130-year-old Posse Comitatus Act, which specifies that the armed forces of the U.S. may not be used domestically as law enforcement personnel.

President Bush had tried to circumvent the Posse Comitatus Act once before.  In 2007, the President supported the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007.  This bill included a provision that would have expanded the President’s power to declare martial law and take control of state National Guard troops without the authorization of the state Governors.  However, this provision was repealed the following year.

Why am I so opposed to having up to 20,000 U.S. soldiers trained for “domestic peacekeeping” roles?  Why do I feel threatened by the presence of military forces who have been trained, not to fight a foreign enemy but rather to fight angry U.S. citizens?  Let me take you on a hypothetical trip into the not-too-distant future to answer that question.

Imagine, if you will, that the growing loss of personal freedoms that have become prevalent in the last 30 years or so continue.  As our personal freedoms (such as private property ownership, free enterprise system of commerce, right to bear arms, freedom of speech, etc.) continue to be eroded and limited by the federal government, larger and larger segments of the population begin to feel disaffected and disenfranchised.  As resentment grows at this move toward more and more federal control of our lives, eventually civil unrest would likely break out.  Who will the government turn to in order to quell the uprising?  You guessed it…our very own “secret police,” the U.S. Army.  Shades of the formation of the KGB.  We are moving one step closer to becomming the U.S.S.A.

I would like to point out that I am very much NOT anti-military.  I proudly served in the 82nd Airborne Division for three years and have a lot of respect for people who volunteer to serve their country for meager salaries and high risks.  However, I also know that expecting 18-20 year old kids to know the difference between lawful and unlawful orders, and to have the backbone to stand up in the face of superior officer issuing those unlawful orders, is asking an awful lot.  How many times have we heard the excuse, “I was just following orders”?  What happens when those orders involve shooting U.S. citizens instead of Viet-Cong?

Maybe, just maybe, President-elect Obama will reverse this dangerous course when he takes office.  However, given that he is retaining Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense (a move I applaud him for, not because I like Gates, but because continuity is very important during a time of war), I would expect that the program moves forward at least until Gates is replaced.  If he doesn’t, I truly believe we will have taken a major step toward creating Socialism at the point of a gun, literally.  It gives me a very sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Published in: on December 1, 2008 at 11:17 pm  Comments (2)  
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Our Alcoholic Economy

I am not an alcoholic, nor have I ever been addicted to anything more damaging than Massive Multiplayer Online Games, so take everything that follows with a salt shaker or two.  However, I have known a number of alcoholics in various stages of the spectrum, from denial to recovery.  Those that were actively working on their recovery had a common theme when asked when they decided to stop drinking:  they all hit bottom.  Not the “If I take another drink I am going to puke my guts out” bottom.  Most of these people did that nightly, spending many hours praying at the “porcelain altar.”  I am talking about really hitting bottom…the kind of place where you realize you have destroyed everything and everyone you held dear to you and there is no point in living another hour.  What does this have to do with the economy you ask?

Our economy is addicted to debt.  Ever since we went off the gold standard in 1933, our economy has been entirely based on debt.  Don’t believe me?  Think I am exaggerating?  Pull out a dollar and look at the inscription on the front: “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.”  Sounds innocent enough.  However, prior to 1933, it would have read: “Redeemable in gold on demand at the United States Treasury, or in gold or lawful money at any Federal Reserve Bank.”  Notice the difference?  What are our current dollars redeemable for?  Nada…zilch…nothing!  It used to be that if someone owed you money for a debt, you could actually require them to pay you in gold or silver instead of paper money.  However, that “legal tender” statement on the front of our current money means that you no longer even have that option.  Our money is not backed by anything.  Why does this matter?  And how does this relate to alcoholics?

Let me take one more detour before I finally tie all these things together.  What causes inflation?  The Federal Reserve is tasked with keeping inflation in check, and I know we have all heard that they do this by adjusting interest rates up or down, but how does that really affect inflation?  In a fiat currency system (one where currency is not backed by anything of intrinsic worth), inflation is the result of too much cash being in circulation.  When this happens, the value of one unit of currency (henceforth, I will just say dollar, but understand it works the same way in other currencies as well) declines.  When the supply of money flowing into a community or country outstrips the supply of goods, merchants will have more people than ever before looking to buy their goods.  However, they do not have the supplies to meet the demand, so prices will inevitably go up.  When the Fed sees signs that this is happening, they know there is too much money in the system.  Therefore, they raise interest rates, which in turn makes it more expensive to borrow money, and thus there will be less money pouring into the system.  They can also buy or sell Treasury bills on the open market, thus increasing or decreasing the amount of money in circulation directly.  There were four measures that the Federal Reserve would publish to let people know how much money was in circulation.  The M0 rating was just the number of dollars the Federal Reserve had directly printed and were in circulation.  The M1 measure was M0 plus checking account deposits, the M2 measure was M1 plus savings accounts and money market funds held by personal investors (things which could readily be converted to cash).  In 2005, the Fed decided to stop tracking the M3 measure, claiming no one used it anyway.  However, Congressman Ron Paul claimed that “M3 is the best description of how quickly the Fed is creating new money and credit. Common sense tells us that a government central bank creating new money out of thin air depreciates the value of each dollar in circulation.”  What did M3 track, you ask?  Among other things, the loans made to large corporations, like the ones receiving bail-out money.  I believe the Fed stopped reporting the M3 statistic because it knew what was coming…not in a conspiratorial sense, but rather in a “we have our fingers on the pulse of the economy” kind of way.

Will you get to the point about the alcoholics already?!?

OK, not-so-patient reader, you have endured enough of my A.D.D. moments, I will finally get to the point.  I believe that our economy, just like an alcoholic, must hit bottom before the federal government will be forced to make the painful changes.    I believe a lot of companies are going to fail and a lot of people are going to be out of work.  While I will point a lot of the blame in the direction of George W. Bush, this problem started much earlier.  In my opinion, it traces its roots back to the Great Depression.  What were some of the milestones along the way that should have sent up warning flags?

  1. Going off the gold, and later the silver, standard.
  2. The founding of an unconstitutional national bank, the Federal Reserve.
  3. The rampant, uncontrolled government spending placing us further and further in debt.
  4. The growing power of labor unions driving U.S. companies to become less competitive on the world market.
  5. The shift from America as a land of production and innovation to a land of consumerism.

The governments (both the Bush administration and the incoming Obama administration) are trying to soften the blow.  They are trying to give us just enough of the picture to get us to take the next step without realizing the full extent of the danger we are in.  They don’t want us to actually hit bottom.  Instead the government is hoping that we can cushion our landing.  What’s wrong with that, you ask?  Everything!  Without hitting the bottom, the problem just gets worse.  All of the well-meaning friends of the alcoholic who try to convince him that he doesn’t have to quit drinking just cut back, that try to find him a new job, or introduce him to a girl they know, are not letting him hit bottom; they aren’t letting the drunk see that the only way for things to get better is to CHANGE!!!

The government doesn’t want to have to change.  They started off with the bail-out of AIG and news that they would offer funds and loan guarantees to help with the buy-out of Bear-Stearns.  Then came the mind-blowingly large $700 billion bail-out bill in Congress.  But, as some of us warned, that was just the tip of the iceberg.  How much are we really on the line for?  Please sit down before reading this link (and for those that skipped it, please go back and read it…it will likely make you feel sick, but again, it is part of hitting bottom).  That’s right folks, $7,700,000,000,000.00 ($7.7 trillion)!!!!!!!!!  And the truly frightening part is, we aren’t done yet.  Today, they announced that Citibank was receiving bail-out money.  Why is that significant?  Because Citibank was considered one of the most solvent banks (one least likely to need a bail-out).  If they need cash, the rest of the banks are only a question of when, not if.

And what about the rest of the economy?  What about the automakers?  Should the government throw cash down that rabbit hole?  In my not-so-humble opinion…NO!  Did you know that the average assembly-line worker at G.M. makes over $70 per hour?  Did you know that the person doing the same job at the American Toyota plant makes less than $45 per hour?  Is it any wonder that G.M.s cost more than Toyotas?  Also, G.M.’s pension liability for 2004 was $89 billion.  Again, I consider this a major problem with labor unions, especially in the auto industry.  If G.M. could file for bankruptcy, no matter how painful that might be, it could give them a way to renegotiate some of these burdens.  However, I don’t expect that the government will let that happen.  Instead, I predict that Obama will bail them out (if Bush doesn’t beat him to it).

How much longer do you think this downward spiral of endless government spending can continue?  How much longer will it be before China and the rest of the world refuse to buy any more Treasury bills that are only backed by “the full faith and credit of the U.S. government”?  How long before the credit rating companies downgrade our government’s credit rating, making it vastly more expensive to borrow money?  Guys, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but the plane is losing altitude and there is a mountain range looming ahead of us.  All of the government tricks are only postponing the inevitable.  The plane is going to crash, the only questions are when and how hard.

Published in: on November 25, 2008 at 1:15 am  Comments (5)  
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What Happened to “Change”?!?

So I was looking over a list of people President-elect Obama has been naming to cabinet positions, and one thing has really struck me – the names are all familiar.  Obama ran on a platform of change…promised the end of “politics as usual” in Washington…and yet, when the rubber meets the road, he brings to the White House the same faces we have seen in Washington for decades.  The mixture of ex-Clinton cabinet members and current and former legislators reeks of yet another broken promise.  A rundown of the cast of charachters follows:

  • Chief of Staff:  Congressman Rahm Emmanuel – While Emmanuel is often listed as a moderate Democrat, he is also known for extreme partisanship.  He has a quick temper and has cussed out minority members of Congress.  He is also an ex-Clinton staffer.  The only up-side I see to his appointment is that Al-Jazeera (the Arabic TV station) was concerned that because he is Jewish and his father was born in Jerusalem, he would be “too pro-Israel” for their liking (I read the piece on their English website this morning, but now when I search for it, it appears they have taken it down).
  • Attorney General:  Eric Holder – A Deputy Attorney General during the Clinton administration.  He supported the District of Columbia handgun ban during the 2008 Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller.  He was also instrumental in obtaining a last-minute pardon from outgoing President Bill Clinton for Marc Rich, who had been on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list for years for tax evasion and illegal trading with Iran while that country was holding Americans hostage.
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services:  Former Senator Tom Daschle – Former Democratic Senate Majority and Minority Leader.  He was one of the most ardent supporters of Clinton’s failed universal health care system.  Served in Congress for 27 years.

Other potential cabinet picks:

  • Secretary of Homeland Security:  Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano – OK, finally someone not connected to Washington.  She has taken a tough stance against businesses that hire illegal aliens, signing a law that would strip them of their business licenses.  She also took her state from a $1 billion budget deficit to a $1 billion budget surplus without raising taxes.  Sounds like we could use a few more governors like her!

I could go on, but those are the more prominent picks being discussed so far.  So, out of five picks, only one is not a “politics-as-usual” Washington hack.  20%….yeah, that’s the kind of “change” we were hoping for…NOT!

I have to say, the hypocrisy of politicians from both parties really irks me!  A lot of people voted for Obama because he promised to change the way the government worked; instead he brings in a team that epitomizes the “old boys network” of Washington politics.  I am very disappointed.  But then again, the politician’s lips were moving, so I should have known he was lying.

Published in: on November 20, 2008 at 11:58 pm  Comments (2)  
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Obama’s Plan Back Up

The Obama transition team has reposted his agenda on http://www.change.gov/.  It is listed under the Agenda tab.

Published in: on November 19, 2008 at 3:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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