Tag Archives: Ron Paul

A critique of “Southern Politics”

“Obama’s Black and Romney’s white. That’s all I need to know!”

That’s something I heard the other day from a guy in his early 20s. He was ignorant, uneducated, and an unpleasant attitude. When I questioned him about what he said he questioned my “Southern-ness”. Am I less Southern for carrying a more-educated opinion? Am I less Southern for dealing with the facts instead of bigotry? Of course not. I even suggested that a “real” Southern man is a “refined gentleman” – not an ignorant redneck.

So what does it mean to be a Southern Man and where is this obligation to vote Republican at any cost coming from? The answer to that is more complicated than one might think. There are a lot of ideas floating around and depending on who you ask – you will get different, very different, responses.

I hadn’t thought about my own ideas of what it means to be a Southern Man until recently. I was born, raised, and educated in the South, but my ideas and principals may very greatly from someone else with the same history.

I admit – being Southern does come with a certain amount of cultural phenomena. For example, the stereotypes about going out of our way to open doors for women, making eye contact and smiling to strangers on the street, our love affair with sweet tea and traditional southern cooking, and a certain amount of “countriness” certainly exists. Those are things I love about the South though.

What I hate is this illogical feeling of obligation many Southerns feel to the Republican party.

Southern Conservatism
What bothers is the Southern man’s apparent obligation toward an established “conservative” status-quo. What bothers me more is that most people have no idea what being conservative really is. Is being conservative advocating war, hating gays, outlawing abortion, being religious, or something else? It seems most of us have no gauge for ourselves, but rather take our cues from the “party leaders” that tell us what we should be doing.

Take my father-in-law for instance. He is without doubt a good man; however, he is among the worst when it comes to developing his political opinions based on Rush Limbaugh telling him so. Why do Southern men feel so obliged to follow party leaders even when their viewpoints are so obviously coated in hatred, prejudice, and ignorance? Where is their ability and desire to think critically?

For example, when George Bush passed the patriot act which grossly violated our privacy most Republicans supported it whole-heartily even though it was a gross expansion of Government powers. Isn’t this the opposite of the limited Government ideals conservatives claim to support? The lack of consistency is what I have a problem with, especially when lack of consistency becomes lies.

Generally, if you oppose the war “southerners” will argue with you. If you admit America should take any responsibility for having enemies, people say you are blaming America. If you support gay rights, aren’t religious, and think the life of an American is no more important than any other human life you are a liberal and a radical. Sure this phenomena exists outside the South, but here I think it’s magnified.

The Party
I have mentioned before that Party politics in the south are crooked and inconsistent with a true conservative message. Instead the “party” convinces us that we should align ourselves with a certain socially accepted moral code, a demand to keep the rich richer, to give the Government more power for our “protection”, and to use a book of peace to promote hatred and bigotry.

The worst thing is that if you are in the Republican party you are asked to do what’s right for the Party instead of what’s right for the people. Good men are ignored, great ideas are swept under the rug, and a few good ole’ boys who have all the power want to keep everything the same so as long as it continues to benefit them. We are to be good little slaves and stay in line. Everyone else is fired up and too busy hating liberals to realize they are being screwed by their own “team”.

Real Conservatism
Real conservatism, in my opinion, isn’t about following the party at any cost. It’s about engaging in thoughtful discussions, having an open mind, and educating yourself. It’s about maintaining and promoting the power of the people. It’s about demanding the Government be a steward of the people, not the other way around. It’s about upholding principals of personal and social responsibility and demanding the same from others. It’s about upholding natural rights, property rights, and liberty. That’s where the conservative movement should be going and those are the leaders we should be following.

A divide in the Georgia Republican Party – The fight for libery

Just in case you are interested in what’s going on in Georgia in the Republican party.

Why so much support for an establishment candidate it is obvious no one really supports?

Is the Death Penalty Wrong? A Conservative opinion.

I never cry in movies, but no matter how many times I watch “Dead Man Walking” I feel like a pregnant women I’m so emotional inside. It evokes emotion and forces you to question your very beliefs about religion, good and evil, the death penalty, and the nature of man itself. If you have never watched this movie I strongly suggest you get a box of tissues and give it a go.

I’m reminded that men, despite their most evil actions, are effected by factors one cannot understand unless they have gone through it themselves. Though their actions are not justifiable this movie does associate unique and human qualities with a person we may otherwise view as a monster.

At what cost should we put a man to death?  At the cost of losing our own humanity?  At the cost of emotionally damaging everyone involved the in the procedure?  I’m not sure and though I have never experienced the loss of a loved one at the hands of a criminal I can’t help but feel it is wrong.  Not the desire for revenge, not the desire for closure, but the fact that our Government – the supposed shining example of justice for planet earth – has the power and desire to put any human being to death.  Cooler heads should always prevail when given the option to preserve humanity.

Though I am not religious this scene always evokes emotion.

I’ll admit it.  Years ago I was in support of the death penalty.  I thought that keeping an inmate on death row was a terrible drain on tax dollars and dangerous to other inmates and the guards.  That part is still true.  After watching this movie my ideas changed though.  I do not think killing a man helps anyone.  It certainly can’t do the families of the innocent any good emotionally, it destroys the guilty party’s family, and is cruel overall.  What should we do with people like this?  I do not know.  Maybe we should work harder to stop it happening in the first place.

Sure many of these men never become reconciled and never feel sorry for what they did like in this movie, but that changes nothing.  Why do we turn ourselves into murderers to punish one?  What is the right course of action – I have no idea.  I just feel like for our own humanity’s sake – the death penalty does us as individuals no good at all.  I know all the reasons to support it, but a lesson in humanity, forgiveness, and love is enough for me to feel like the death penalty isn’t worth it.

If you still disagree or just want to hear someone say it much better check out what Ron Paul has to say about the death penalty in his book liberty defined. Another great advocate of liberty who’s views about the death penalty changed over time.

As an advocate for Liberty I appreciate what Obama did today

Although he didn’t do it for exactly the same reasons I may have fully appreciated Obama made a great step as a leader and advocate of Liberty today. He openly supported the rights of human beings to engage in personal relationships without the intervention of the Government. He advocated for personal and private property rights, human rights – Gay rights.

Although there is a whole lot I find myself disagreeing (and sometimes agreeing) with Obama about I can and will always respect a politician who takes a stand, the right one, even when it is construed by many as unpopular.

Admittedly, openly supporting Gay marriage isn’t exactly political suicide for Obama or anything and Biden already tested the waters for him days earlier by openly supporting Gay marriage himself. Most of Obama’s supporters agree with him on this issue and most of the people that advocate a ban on Gay marriage almost certainly aren’t voting for Obama anyways – I still respect the steps he took today.

I can respect any man who is honestly trying to do the right thing and taking steps to get there – even if and when I personally disagree with them. It’s certainly better than shitting on the people or war-mongering. Which is more than I can say for most of the Republican candidates.

I only hope that Obama continues to take steps to advocate personal freedoms and common sense lawmaking. Giving the power to the people, protecting the individual, and empowering everyone to do the best they can for themselves and each other is a great way forward. I just hope Obama keeps making choices that keeps the Government out of our bedrooms, emails, personal lives, and personal decisions – especially when we don’t want them there.

Obama may be the first president to openly admit, while in office, that he supports same sex marriage. History was made today.

The Problem with the Buffet Rule

I follow Barrack Obama on twitter. Recently every tweet has been about the “#BuffetRule”. Reason after reason why the rich should pay as much or more as a percent of their income in taxes as the middle class and poor. On the surface I get it – but are we asking the wrong questions?

I mean I saw this push a mile away. When Buffet first published “his” article (or at least an article he endorsed that his secretary probably wrote for him) I knew a push for higher taxes was coming. All in the name of “the rich paying their fair share”. But why are we asking ANYONE to pay more taxes. The rich paying more taxes doesn’t mean the rest of us win, just that we all lose.

Instead of asking the rich to pay more taxes to catch up with the rest of us, why not lower taxes for everyone else? I know an increased tax on the rich will not benefit me. They’ll probably use it to buy more body scanners that I’ll have to opt out of in the airport. Or maybe they’ll find another country to invade in Africa.

If Obama wants this so bad why doesn’t he promise 100% of it to education or food for the poor? No one knows for sure where the extra cash is going. I mean, why are we trusting the Government with MORE or OUR money? Oh, all for Universal Healthcare and to “level the playing field.” Right? I doubt it.

Currently the US pays as much or more in taxes as any country on the planet. Notice how many of those countries have Universal Healthcare. In fact I just returned from Japan who pays about the same tax rate as us, but has Universal Healthcare. How can they do it, but we can’t? Maybe it’s because WE are the Japanese military!

So why are we agreeing to MORE taxes again?

Any good business man (even bad ones) will tell you that the easiest way to add to your bottom line is to cut expenses NOT add revenue (via taxation for the government). So why aren’t we focused on balancing the budget and maybe, just maybe, cutting back on the military. Why are we concerned about getting involved in Africa and staying involved in the Middle-east. I thought this was the “peaceful” democratic party!

If it doesn’t bother you that our Government can find excuse after excuse to increase taxes instead of lowering them for the rest of us – then we have lost. We will continue war-mongering. We will continue deficit spending. We will continue giving more and more power to those who already have it.

If you really think that raising taxes on the “rich” will in any way benefit you, you’re crazy. If you think this isn’t benefiting the most powerful “1%” – then you’re wrong.

Do Laws Prohibiting Firearms Work?

After scowering the internet and a few of my favorite statistic gathering websites for data on the link between firearms and violent crimes/murder/and accidental deaths I quickly realized that this wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought.  The data is all over the place. 

When you look at JUST the data inside the United States its confusing enough, but when you begin looking at the entire planet the task become daunting.  There is WAY too much misinformation and bad data on both sides of the argument (pro gun/anti gun) to take almost any article at face value.  So after reading what seems like 100 articles and 100 data sets I finally came to a few conclusions that I think are worth sharing. Since this will probably be a fairly lengthy and boring article I’ll give you the conclusion first:

Conclusions

A.) Evidence shows that legislation (strict gun laws) is not the determining factor between firearm ownership and firearm crime.
B.) Evidence shows that there is a coorilation between gun availability and the number of firearm related incidents (sometimes, but not always realated to A above)
C.) Evidence shows that there is a coorilation between Government Oppression of the population and lack of legal gun ownership.
D.) Evidence shows that in any population most violent crimes involving firearms were almost always perpetrated by an illegally obtained firearm regardless of the strictness of firearm laws. (Laws do not prevent criminals from obtaining guns).
E.) Evidence shows overwhelmingly that Demographics (race, gender, education, income, ethnicity) play the KEY role in the link between firearms and firearm related incidents.
F.) The answer to ending gun violence in America and optimizing Liberty is by addressing education, income gaps, social norms, and behavior of the people – especially males between the age of 17 – 26.

What the Numbers Say

Statistics show that there is no real coorilation between strict gun laws and gun related homicides as countries with varying percentages of households with firearms are found all over the list.  I found this chart very interesting – the countries with the most strict gun laws (no households with guns) were found on both the top and bottom of the list for ranking by Firearm Homicide.  This tells me that there MUST be something else going on.  A quick bit of research in to these countries tells me that drugs, war, and demographics are the key to crime and more specifically gun related crime.

Death rates are per 100,000

 An issue of Demographics?

The link between demographics and firearm incidents was disturbing to me.  These statistics in and of themself are enough to tell me that we are addressing the wrong problem when we talk about gun control.  This shouldn’t be an issue of “should we have guns or not”, but rather one of “how do we fix the cultural problem” in this country.  Why the disparity? 

The fight against gun control is fighting the symptom, not the problem.

United States Only

  • In 2007, African-Americans represented 13 percent of the population yet accounted for 49 percent of all homicide victims.
  • In 2007, 80 percent of gun deaths among Whites were from suicide.
  • There is a strong link between race/class and education/test scores.  Furthermore there is a strong link between lack of education and violent crime indicating those in poverty and of specific ethnic groups are at higher risk of committing a firearm related crime.

Weapon Availability vs. Gun Legislation

There is certainly a link between gun availablility and firearm related incidents. However, “availability” is not always measured or coorilated to the legality of obtaining those weapons.  So we cannot conclude from that alone that the strict legislation prohibiting the pocession of weapons is the case.  Furthermore, in the United States we see other effects of gun ownership – such as the states with the highest levels of gun ownership actually have the lowest overall crime rates.  Is ther a link?  I don’t know, but it is important to remember that causation is not always coorilation.

To give an analogy – The United States has the highest percentage of population with availability to automobiles, thus we also have the highest number of automobile related deaths and crimes.  Does this mean we should create more legislation dictating how we use our privilage to drive? No.  As with gun ownership there are intrinsique benefits and risks associated with gun ownership as well as automobile ownership. 

Also, creating legislation around Gun Control implies that people intend to follow the law.  Studies show that most violent crimes related to firearms were made by people with guns obtained illegally in the first place.  Laws only effect people who intend on following them. 

Freedom and Gun Control

Something the Founding Fathers knew all too well was that for citizens to remain free from the tyranny of their Governments (or any other oppressor) it was necessary to have the ability to fight back.  In the most oppressed countries around the world it is no surprise that legal gun ownership is almost zero everytime.  To rule a population, first you must disarm them.

I certainly am NOT saying that the trick to ending oppression in these nations is giving every household a gun, but what I am saying is that there is a certain amount of liberty in RESPONSIBLY owning a firearm.  Furthermore, there is no evidence that further legislation in the United States would do an ounce of good toward disarming criminals.  Even at a global scale we see inconsistant data as to whether strict gun laws help or not. 

What should we do about firearms and violence?

The data points in one direction.  The ONLY way to decrease gun related crimes while maintaining our liberty is to via education, closing income gaps, and altering cultural norms.  Just like we knew all along – to change the world, first you have to change the heart and minds of the people living there. 

Resources

The Trouble with Legislating Morality

This post was edited for factual, logical, and grammar errors on 3/9/12.  Every effort was made to keep the overall point the same.

There is a fine line between creating strong and sensible laws and creating legislating to dictate one’s moral behavior.  The theory is that if you present people with a serious consequence for their misbehavior it will discourage them from taking said action is plausable; however, sometimes the Government takes that theory too far by infringing on our rights and ignoring the inadvertent consequences of said legislation.  We can examine a few cases:

Prohibition

In the 1920′s the consumption of alcohol was judged to be immoral so the Government created legislation outlawing the distribution, sale, and consumption of alcoholic beverages.  Since demand remained high for alcohol the law inadvertently created a secondary market in which only criminals would take advantage of – and they did.  As a result of the illegality of alcohol sales several things happened: violent crime increased, legitimate businesses lost revenue or went out of business, criminal organizations became rich, crime bosses became famous, and normal men who wanted a casual drink became criminals to do so.  Looking back on it now most of us realize prohibition was a horrible idea and the legislation did absolutely nothing to change the moral compass of the nation.

Drug Use

Today we see the same effect regarding laws outlawing drug use.  Although the law is aimed at keeping people off addictive and harmful substances those same laws have inadvertently created a secondary black market identical to the days of prohibition.  Criminals capitalize on drug sales and distribution to become rich off the proceeds.  Additionally, non-violent drug users who are sent to jail often become hardened criminals and even gang members after their stint in prison has ended.  Our prisons are overcrowded – over half of individuals in prison today are there for a drug related crime.  Despite our tough drug laws the US incarceration remains rate is the highest in the world.

To contrast the American strategy, Portugal recently decriminalized all drugs.  It has been a resounding success.  Drug use actually dropped, the number of violent crimes fell, and so did the overall incarceration rate.  We see a similar effect in Holland where marijuana is legal. 

Today the US Government spends about 15 billion dollars a year on the drug war – and it’s obviously failing.  There are more drug users than ever before, more people in prison for drug related crimes than ever before, and drug profiteering is at an all time high.  With all the evidence (and experience with prohibition) it would seem obvious to end this drug war – seems like someone in charge must be making money off of it. Why do we still believe that legislation behavior works?

Gun Control

Everyone agrees that harming another innocent human being is the worst of crimes, but it may be a giant jump in logic to assume creating further legislation to restrict the way law abiding citizens obtain guns will help.  Yet we have allowed the Government to once again intervene in the way we live our lives – what’s even worse is some people want more intervention.  In theory, the tougher the laws the less likely a criminal or child will have the ability to access a weapon.  Again, this is false.

When you make weapons illegal or create non-sensible laws around weapon control it only serves to prevent those who intend on following the law from obtaining weapons – not criminals. (Hint: Criminals break the law)  By outlawing or restricting weapons you effectively disarm the public and without effecting criminal organizations.  In addition another black market is created in which only criminals will profit.

The data shows no evidence that legislation alone prevents firearm related violence. Rather other factors such as education and cultural norms dictate behavior – not because the Government said you can or cannot do something.

The change in behavior doesn’t come from the legislation – it comes from the people.  The moral behavior of on developed nation isn’t been caused the strict gun or drug laws, but rather because the population has collectively agreed to do the right thing. 

If you want to correct a moral flaw the answer is not to make a law that infringes on the liberty of the people, the answer is to change the hearts and minds of the people. 

Legislating Morality Just Doesn’t Work

There are many dangers associated with legislating morality.  Worst of all this type of legislation usually involves on group imposing their will on another – and making everyone pay for it – whether they agree or not.  

 When the Government creates a business by legislating morality no one wins.  On one given day legislators decree that one man cannot marry another despite their love for one another. The next day the Government further restricts gun laws preventing private and law abiding citizens from being able to protect themselves.  In both cases personal freedom is infringed upon to impose some sense of morality another person has declared law.  What one believes is right is a personal decision and nothing more.  It is important to take care to never blur the lines between liberty and sensible laws intended for the nation.

Evidence proves time and time again that just because an issue may seem morally beneficial for society it does not necessarily benefit society for Government to make a law prohibiting that activity.  I plead with all the readers of this blog – next time you think something is wrong – PLEASE do not request that the Government creates another law, paid for by tax payer dollars, that will attempt to legislate our behavior.  We can’t afford it.