On A Conflict of Visions

During times of political crisis such as these, I find myself reaching for two books that inspire me and help put things into perspective.

One of them is The Federalist Papers, a book which needs no introduction. Possibly the most important of our founding documents, it offers a glimpse into the original intent of the US Constitution as envisioned by those who actually wrote it. Hamilton, Madison and Jay published the these 85 essays anonymously in order to garner support for ratification of the Constitution. I was introduced to this book as a college freshman taking an Intro to Politics elective (taught, of course, by a self-described radical). It was pretty much the only book assigned to the class that made any sense to me. I ultimately switched my major from music to political science in large part because of this book. Perhaps more on this at a later date… For now, if you don’t already own The Federalist Papers, click here. Now.

My Number One go-to book, however, is Thomas Sowell’s classic, A Conflict of Visions. It distills all political debate down to two fundamental groups — those who have a ‘constrained’ view of human nature and society, and those with an ‘unconstrained’ view. It helps understand the dichotomatic worldviews held by conservatives and liberals, and why, as the author declares in the opening paragraph, “the same people line up on the opposite sides of different issues.”

Those with a ‘constrained’ vision believe that human nature is limited, that we are inherently selfish and operate out of self interest without regard to the well-being of others, and the societal good is derived through the unintended consequences of our actions. This is the cornerstone of Adam Smith’s economic philosophy as expounded in The Wealth of Nations, the founding document of free-market capitalism, and is at the root of libertarian-conservatism as it exists today. It holds that humans are flawed, that we are not naturally inclined to do anything other than what is in our self-interest, yet by doing so within the constraints of human nature we can (and do) benefit others by our actions.

The ‘unconstrained’ worldview is one in which man is inherently virtuous, that all of the unvirtuous things we do are a result of flaws in society, and that through actions that are designed to improve society we can approach perfection. Results and intentions are all that matter, and preferred outcomes can be accomplished by government policies with as long as they are enacted with good intentions. There is no limit to what we can achieve as long as our intentions are pure and we are willing to sacrifice our self-interests for the interests of all.

Sowell admits that no one really exists at either extreme; rather, people tend to occupy a place somewhere in between, possessing either a “more constrained” or “more unconstrianed” worldview. Yet A Conflict of Visions clearly illustrates the diametrically opposing worldviews held by conservatives and liberals, a brilliant analysis of the classic struggles between left and right, whether in the past, present or future. It puts all of our current policy debates into clear perspective.

This interview on YouTube was recorded just before the 2008 election. Sowell demonstrates how the two visions can be applied to concerns over judicial activism, the Iraq war, the economy, the election, Sarah Palin, and academic “intellectuals”. It’s just under 40 minutes long, but well worth the time.

Amazon.com Widgets

We Hold These Truths to be Self Evident…Part I

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The Founders of our country had it right.  They put forth that certain truths were self-evident, and truly needed no explanation. It became the core of who we were as Americans, part of the glue that banded us together as a people, regardless of what countries or faiths we had originated from. 

This was the first in many of things that would define us as Americans.

Abraham Lincoln argued that the Declaration of Independence was a statement of principles through which the Constitution should be interpreted. It was the looking glass through which the Law of the Land should be measured.

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”

Here it was outlined that the Duties of government was to Protect and Secure those rights; that they were just because the People had gathered together and willingly surrendered small parts of their Liberties to be governed so as to protect those rights as a whole. Putting it clearly that government served the people and not people the government for the sake of protecting those unalienable Rights.

So now we have he beginnings of a philosophy:

1) We have a right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That these are a few of the rights accorded to us by creation. All of those rights with roots in the concept of Liberty.

2) Man created governments to protect those Liberties. Notice that in the writings of the 18th century, during the Age of Reason, philosophers, emphasized on Man’s Liberties. It does not speak of the right to the State to provide for its citizens, but rather, to allow for man to provide for himself and to balance that power of government with as least damage to man’s Liberties as possible.

Whereas it may be acceptable to wear the Boot of Socialism (medicare, medicaid, social security), you cannot wear it without the Sock of Liberty else we chafe ourselves and bleed.

But more on that in Part II

~ Salvum fac Republic



Happy Thanksgiving from Liberty’s Torch

As the holiday season begins most Americans begin to think about family, friends, giving and the love they share with those they hold dear. The same goes for those of us at the Spitcracker Picayune, and we’d like very much to extend our wish of a peaceful and bountiful Thanksgiving to everyone.

Be safe and prosperous today! Happy Thanksgiving!

Before you get mad at Wal-Mart…

More stores are starting Black Friday early this year (since when is Thursday Friday?). Wal-Mart employees in particular have made a stink about it.

Here’s the thing: They wouldn’t be open at all if they didn’t think they could make money. And the only way they can make money is if you and I shop. On Thanksgiving.

Try this: Instead of inhaling turkey with an eye on the clock, slow down and relax a little. Take a day off from chasing the latest gizmo or whatsit. Spend some time with friends and family; if you don’t have any of either, go take a walk, or play a game, or watch a marathon if your favorite show on Netflix. Do something other than shopping.

It’s easy to want to blame our culture of consumerism on the greed of Evil Corporations. Fact is, we enable them. Don’t be an enabler.

It’s Thanksgiving. Find something to be thankful about.

Also, Beastie Boys.

Conservatism Explained

There isn’t a lot of push within what most Americans would think of as the bastions of Conservatism to actually express what being a Conservative means. I believe the GOP’s biggest problem over the course of the last 30 years and more has been a blurring of morality; a penchant for personal gain, regardless of means, if you will. Politicians find very shortly after election that they’re able to amass a vast amount of power and wealth in a relatively short amount of time if they only go along to get along inside the Beltway.
Conservatism isn’t about one aspect of one’s life; Conservatism it is a lifestyle. People who are Conservative believe what they believe to be true because over the course of history and the expanse of observation of human nature the core aspects of Conservatism have been proven over and over again. To espouse Conservatism isn’t the be all and end all of what it means to be a Conservative. It is simply a beginning. One must live their lives within the confines of moral and ethical purity; to do the right thing every time, especially when no one is looking. What one does when no one is there to witness their actions is the simplest measure of the quality of one’s character, and the willingness to hold oneself to being ethically and morally pure even when temptation would cause human nature to prompt us to take care of Number One at the unknowing expense of humanity, in whole or in part, is anathema to Conservatism.
Once the ethical and moral litmus test comes back positive for Conservatism there are a few Core Values that Conservatives apply to their lives. These Core Values, much like the Core Values of our military services, shape the lens through which a Conservative views the world around them, and guides them through the tumult that invariably stands between humanity and prosperity.Conservatism’s Core Values are:

  • Constitutional Republicanism, or the preservation of the true representative republic under which all Americans are supposed to be governed by, as outlined in the Constitution
  • Limited Federalism, or the intentional hobbling of the Federal Government so as to purposefully prevent a totalitarian tyranny from springing up within the centralized aspects of government that are necessary
  • Sovereignty of the States over the wishes of the Administrative State, except where the Constitution outlines enumerated powers held exclusively by the Federal Government
  • The Right to Ownership of Personal Arms, or the right to own a means of protecting oneself from assault, regardless of source
  • Fiscal Conservatism, or the application of proper and just stewardship of the public trust that is accumulated by the Government through taxation and tariffs as a means to fund the necessary functions of Federalism
  • Peace Through Strength, or the forming, training, supplying and sustaining of a strong military force as a means of deterrence to aggression to enemies foreign and domestic as well as a means to stand by and defend our allies from the same
  • A Strong Currency, made and kept strong through the application of all of the other Core Values.

Our Nation lives and breathes these Values in some shape or form. Although not every American is able to identify with more than a few of Conservatism’s Core Values, most will find that they believe in at least one of these keystones that make up what it means to be a Constitutional Conservative. Sadly, temptation, always the enemy of every man, woman and child in this great nation, pulls the attention of even the most devoted Conservative away from the application of these values to their lives. Diversion of attention isn’t a failing. Allowing for temptation to spur action in the hearts of man, at the expense of others, is a severe failing, and can be traced as a direct causative factor in nearly every detrimental aspect of American life.

The path toward solving the problems that face America today is very much the same as it was during the founding of the United States following the Revolutionary War. Many of our problems stem from what temptation causes man to do unto his fellow man. Application of Conservatism, Constitutional and otherwise, is a spectacular first step down the path toward restoring America’s greatness, and protecting it for generations to come. Many have already begun taking this step.

Will you join them, and us, in starting down the path toward restoring America?

The Basics: Goals, Strategies, Tactics

Ever get lost in a discussion?
Ever end up disagreeing with someone when you thought you were on the same side?
Ever get caught helping someone to achieve something you really didn’t want to help them with?

Sure you have, we all have.

Usually, it’s because we didn’t really start out understanding the basics of the situation we were in. We get into the details and lose the overview.

So let’s start with the basics.

You may be familiar with the goal/strategy/tactic model in business, or in the military. You use the same structure with everything you do, you just haven’t thought about it formally.

Bottom up:

Something you DO is a tactic. Why do you do it?
To accomplish some part of your strategy. Why did you formulate that strategy?
To achieve a goal.

Top down:

Something you WANT is a goal. How do you get it?
Formulate a strategy to achieve that goal. How do you accomplish the strategic objective?
By executing the tactics you defined as part of the strategy.

Same Tactic, Different Strategy, VERY Different Goals

Two people can agree on a tactic, even though they have different strategies, and different ultimate goals.

This is where co-opetition happens, This is where politics makes strange bedfellows.

Leftist and Anarchists work together to create Occupy Wall Street – raising awareness, getting media attention, making “the system” of capitalism out to be the enemy. They shared the same tactics.

Anarchists’ ultimate goal is NO government, the leftists’ goal is top down big central government. They’ll separate at some point, but they worked together quite well. Note that even though they had different GOALS, they actually shared the same STRATEGY in addition to common tactic. The strategy of defeating the right is one they share.

Same Goal, Different Strategy, Different Tactics

Two people can have the same goal, but be executing completely different tactics, and not need to know anything about what the other person is doing.

This is how two people on the same side can work at what may seem to be cross purposes, or, more common, neither know nor care particularly what the other group is doing.

Pro-lifers don’t need to know who Objectvists are. If they took the time to talk they’d realize they agree, but given time constraints, they don’t really need to even be aware of the existence of each other.

If both groups keep executing their tactical plans, they’ll accomplish their strategic objectives, which would be more closely related, and then they’ll reach the goal, which they share.

How is This Insight Helpful?

Awareness of this structure, and the questions that provide the movement and direction (how and why) really will help you understand where you are, where you’re going, who can help you, and who is hurting you.

It can keep you from wasting time on unimportant things.

It can keep you focused.

Why Are We Conservatives?

Paradigm shifts. New beginnings. Dramatic change.

All of the above should lead one to revisiting their belief systems. With the re-election of Barack Obama, the conservative movement in America faces all of the above, and should take a long, hard look at what we stand for.

Since 1980, we have theoretically (if not practically) been the party of smaller government, lower taxes, and strict constructionist view of the constitution. The questions that face us therefore are quite clear: do these positions make sense in what appears to now be a center-left nation?

The role of government has been integral to our political debate from the beginning. The original Democrat, Thomas Jefferson, wisely said,

“A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor and bread it has earned – this is the sum of good government.”

Pretty unlikely to hear that from any Democrat in this day and age. In actuality, Democrats of today sound more like Jefferson’s opposition. Just one note, from Alexander Hamilton:

A government ought to contain in itself every power requisite to the full accomplishment of the objects committed to its care, and to the complete execution of the trusts for which it is responsible, free from every other control but a regard to the public good and to the sense of the people.
–Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 31, January 1, 1788

This debate largely frames where the two parties were in 1789, and are still today. We are simply in a new iteration of a two and quarter century struggle between a stronger, more centralized federal government, and a more diffuse, more localized government.

In the past decade, the philosophical shift has been toward more Federal power, culminating in Obamacare, the largest expansion of Federal power in decades. With President Obama’s re-election, and following the Supreme Court’s affirmation of Obamacare’s constitutionality, the momentum to greater and greater centralization of the role of government is quite clear.

So in that environment, what are conservatives to do? Are we even relevant? We all know what liberals would prefer: They would prefer conservatives largely disappear. That is why their onslaught of trying to marginalize the entire movement with steady claims of bigotry, misogyny, and tyranny will continue.
But the country deserves better. Conservatism is just the newest incarnation of the belief in a true federal system, with both states and the central government playing co-equal goals in achieving public prosperity, best outlined in the 10th amendment. This amendment has been the bane of liberalism, and they have been successful in marginalizing its relevance over a long period of time. Liberalism will continue to try to marginalize those facets of the constitution and law that limit federal power, because to liberals, that is the primary hindrance to achieving all the glory that can be achieved by an all powerful central government. Liberals may not view the world in the way I describe, but ultimately, what is factually erroneous about that description?

But history teaches us a clear lesson: the pendulum swings both ways. In much the way that liberalism became the laughingstock of American politics after Reagan’s ascendance, conservatives have become the extremists and demagogues of our time. All the major social pillars of the country, whether you talk about the political sphere, the entertainment industry, or the mainstream media portray us in that light.
It is within that environment that we fight a rear guard action against the overbearing expansion of federal power that stands before us.

So why are we conservatives? Why not admit defeat and move on? Simple: America’s founding ideals, namely engrained in the Constitution, drive us to keep the fight alive. In the truest Jeffersonian sense of American, we fight for less centralized government, greater state and local control, and above all else, the rights of the individual over the presumed rights of the masses.

So the difficult fight goes on, because it must. An America without conservatism is not much of an America at all. The political balance that has maintained individual freedom from the time of the Founding to this day relies on the fight for limited government versus those fighting to expand political power. From our founding, it has been an integral part of what we are. So that is why we are conservatives…not to enrich ourselves, but to allow the Republic to endure, to focus on its core ideals, and prevent progressive extremism to take us to a place our Constitution never intended.

And so I leave you, ironically, with a liberal lion’s words: “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

An Introduction – Holster

Allow me to take a moment to make an introduction and give a bit of a feel for what y’all will be seeing out of me as a contributor to this humble effort. I’m Holster. In part, I’m one of those responsible for this foray into stepping out of the micro blogging/social media muck of truncated thoughts, links, re-shares, memes, and assorted comment thread pissing matches that soils the digital intellectual landscape.

I can’t speak for anyone else here, nor would I attempt to do as such, but over the course of the last few months it made more and more sense to assemble a small group of individuals to present a more cogent presentation of the average American “right wing” perspective on what is going on in our contemporary political, social and cultural landscape. It’s easy enough to spit out 140 character screedlets and other bite sized morsels of one’s take on any given incident of the day, to become engrossed in flinging feces from a slingshot in comment threads over the minutiae in interpretation of what some empty vessel pop media guru or DC careerist said on a talk show or quibble over how some 15 minutes of fame chucklehead said or did something that fueled a riot at the water cooler. Not interested, not interesting, not intellectually stimulating nor entertaining. Not from where I sit. Personally, I require more.

I will never claim any greater status than that of armchair sophist – I’m an average Middle American with an average lifestyle in every way and by all standards of demographic categorization. With that status, the status of being firmly planted in the middle most of average, I have hit a wall. A wall of tired chagrin of being “spoken for” by various pundits, politicians, snake oil salesmen and the random jackass that chooses to foist their thinly veiled bigotry of [perceived] intellect upon the being of me, mine and my “right wing tea bagging Neanderthal” associates. Through the wonders of these here Intywebz, the common ridge runner like myself can do just that. So here we are and there you have it, this scratches the surface of why I chose to participate in this foray into the realm of digital expression. First Amendment – use it or lose it, right?

Oh yes, there will be sarcasm. No, I will not be terribly polite. As a matter of personal protocol I won’t be in the comment threads of my posts much, anything I have to say on the topic will be in the body of the post – I’m not here to entertain your exercises in debate or see your side of things. With that said, welcome to The Spitcracker Picayune. I truly hope you enjoy the reads.
             

Explain Again How Taxes Create Business?

So, someone, anyone, explain to me how this helps. Forego the graphs and 10-year charts on gains and domestic growth. Let’s get to the core of it, shall we?

Let us say that I own a flower shop. I have say, 6 employees. I pay them about…oh, I don’t know,  $28-$35,000 a year. so that’s what? $168,000-$210,000? Now, let’s not forget my income from this. It is, after all my business: $45,000. Does that sound fair for a business that I had to take a risk on a loan with? So that brings me up to…$255,000. Ok. This doesn’t include the overhead for:

Electricity
Supplies
Insurance
Rent
Marketing

A whole bevy of other things…so let’s just make that a nice round number of oh, I don’t know, $300,000? Now, the objective of a business boys and girls is to what? Say it with me; make profit .Such a dirty word now….The other objective is to…grow.

I’m a single business owner, who lists my profits as about $310,000 not subtracting for all the above.

According to the statist: I’m wealthy, and I have needs to pay that 38%.

In fact, I need to pay just a little more.

After being wallet-raped, I can’t:

1) Expand to another building: I need money for that.

2) Hire more people: I need money for that.

Can someone explain why I am not the 99%

Flame away, you statist lap-dogs…

Gardens

I went to the Japanese Gardens in Ft. Worth today. It was enlightening. I walked around, looked at the Poi, watched people as they interacted with each other…lovers, mothers and daughters, businessmen/women, children. They were relaxed, fluid…
…I sat down, rested, meditated without forethought to do it, it just came upon me. I looked down at a tree from a raised position, and saw a lizard trying to balance from one leaf to another. I saw her falter and sway, pause and then reattempt to climb to another limb. At one one point she just stopped, remained motionless. She then continued, moving until she was out of sight.
I saw a dragonfly. I haven’t seen one since I was a kid. She seems to have found a favorite Maple tree. She just stayed in the vicinity.
I’m blabbering, I know. I feel like being random. There is no rhyme or reason to this blog, just…typing. I think I am asleep.
I went to the Japanese Garden today. You should go, you might find a breath of fresh random rambling.