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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Liberalism, Ambiguity & the Art of War

“Language is the armory of the human mind, and at once contains the trophies of its past and the weapons of its future conquests”   

 ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

"It depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is…”

            ~President Bill Clinton

Ambiguity, a lack of clarity that can lead to confusion and misunderstanding, is one of the keys to the advancement of the Left’s agenda.  The less clear things are, the more they can be twisted to the advantage of those with the willingness to do so.  The brevity and simplicity which characterize the Constitution demonstrate that this fact was not lost on the Founders:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

That is Amendment I to the Constitution in its entirety.  It is a great example of how things were done prior to the infestation of modern–day progressivism.  Whether or not you agree with the Founders’ decision to incorporate the Bill of Rights with the Constitution, hopefully you would agree that the authors attempted to make this governing document clear, concise and unambiguous; although certainly they knew, even in their day, that there is no stipulation so clear that it cannot eventually be trespassed upon by determined liberals. 

The original Constitution, when viewed in modern format, is about ten pages long, about seventeen if you add in all of the amendments that have been added since the founding of the country.  This was the document, years in the making, which laid the foundation of government for the United States of America.  In seventeen pages!  By contrast, the monument to progressivism more commonly known as Obamacare is about 2,000 pages long.  But don’t worry. I’m sure there’s nothing ambiguous or unclear in it that might lead to the further erosion of our freedoms.

Lately, we’ve been hearing a lot about sexual harassment.  In defining what this now means, the standard seems to center around the notion of “unwanted sexual advances.”  Talk about ambiguity!  This is like a parent refusing to tell a child what time his curfew is until after he gets home.  One cannot help but suspect that the intent was to leave men exposed to charges that can be highly subjective, while giving women an undue advantage in extracting a pay off.  No doubt the liberal feminists who aggressively sought to define and shape today’s policies on sexual harassment never had any intention of applying it to liberal males like Bill Clinton.

One self-described leftist blogger whom I argue with from time to time often campaigns for the “living wage,” a progressive dream that represents the epitome of ambiguity.  I have attempted to make him see the foolishness of such a proposal, just from a practical standpoint, by asking, “What kind of ‘living’ must a wage provide”?  Should it be sufficient for one person or for a family of ten?  A basement apartment in a low-rent neighborhood or a four-bedroom home in the burbs?  Bugtussle or Manhattan?  Macaroni and cheese for dinner, or steak?  A subway ticket or a car?  Must it provide for luxuries like cell phones, TVs, cable, and computers?  The average 10-year old can see the problem inherit in attempting to institute something like the “living wage,” while the average liberal cannot or will not.  This is what makes him a menace to society.

I sometimes hear people quip that we are on the verge of a civil war between Left and Right, but in my mind there is no question that liberals have been at war for the soul of this nation for quite a long time.  They simply manipulate language into weapons instead using of guns, and this verbal form of guerilla warfare has enabled them to advance their agenda right under our noses.   

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Defining Stupid

Would someone please explain to me why we’re in such a hurry to corner the market on a losing industry?  That’s one of those 2 + 2 = 4 questions that Newt Gingrich spoke of in the great video posted the other day by Hardnox.

It would be one thing if China or other countries were raking in big bucks in the solar panel business and measurably reducing their demand for fossil fuel energies; but Obama himself apparently acknowledged that those countries are having to “subsidize” the industry to the tune of “billions” of dollars, and no mention is being made of any miraculous reduction in their demand for oil and coal.  By my definition that makes it a losing industry, at least for the time being. 

Obama’s premise seems to be that renewable energy is the wave of the future, a gold mine just waiting to be discovered.  He could be correct, but if he is then the next 2 + 2 = 4 question is, “If the renewable energy industry is such a gold mine….”  Fill in the blank. 

Smart investors understand that when it comes to exploring new industries, it’s smart to weigh the benefits of being first in the industry against the cost to get there.  Fast food stores will often locate themselves near McDonald’s.  Why?  Because they know that McDonald’s has already invested the resources to find the most viable locations.  Time and again we see new products hit the market only to eventually be overtaken by others who improve on their technology without having to make that initial whopper of an investment.  Sometimes it pays to be first.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  This is what private investors and entrepreneurs are good at figuring out.

China, with its massive population and relatively recent emergence into the competitive industrial world, might have vastly different incentives for investing resources in renewable energy production.  It also has a markedly different system of government in which the government is expected to take the role that we in the U.S. prefer to leave to private industry.  At least that used to be the case.  Theoretically speaking, when China invests billions of dollars of “the people’s” money into something like renewable energy production, then “the people” reap the reward because the technology and means of production belong to them (remember, I said “in theory”).  In the U.S., when the taxpayers are asked to subsidize private companies investing in trial technology, who ends up owning the rights to that technology and the rights to the profits?  It isn’t the taxpayers.  Maybe we’ll benefit in the long run if we’re able to avail ourselves of more cost efficient energy, but that would also be true if private investors put up the money to get this industry going.  So I see no real upside for taxpayers, but of course there’s a big downside if we subsidize businesses that fail. 

The fact is, the renewable energy industry has thus far not solved a free market problem like  successful industries typically do, nor has it given us something that we don’t already have.  We have energy now.  It’s not a perfect market system (thanks to our government, largely), but neither is the “green” market system.  Oil and gas aren’t cheap, but neither is green.  Unless and until renewable energies can improve upon what we already have in terms of cost, efficiency and delivery, it will continue to be a loser industry.  Our wonderful government, which should be letting the free market resolve this situation, is trying it’s best to stack the deck by throwing obstacles in the way of oil, gas and coal and using our money to subsidize “green” energy.  For them, 2 + 2 will never = 4.

Finally, the money that supposedly is lost on deals like Solyndra isn’t really lost.  It’s simply been transferred from the pockets of taxpayers to the pockets of people involved in one way or another with the “green” energy agenda.  In other words it’s been transferred into the hands of the leftwing constituency.  Maybe these people aren’t so stupid after all.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lessons Learned

One evening last week I attended a “meet and greet” hosted by a neighbor of mine who’s running for a local republican precinct chair.  The event, held in a neighborhood coffee shop, was to introduce one of the republican candidates running for state representative for my district.  For this post I thought I would share some of my astute (ha!) observations from that event.  Please note that anything resembling lecturing here is directed at myself, because I need it.

First thing:  the dismal turnout.  Now, in defense of my fellow Texans I think it’s only fair to point out that game six of the World Series had been re-scheduled to that night and it featured, of course, the Texas Rangers.  In addition it was raining, and many Texans have forgotten how to drive in such alien conditions after a long summer of drought (plus they were never good at it to begin with).  Nevertheless, I would generously estimate the turnout at about ten people.  This in a city with perhaps 40,000 residents.

That lackluster attendance underscored the uphill battle we face as republicans.  We talk about restoring this country to the vision of the Founders, yet many are unwilling to invest a little time to vet and support the candidates and, sadly, to even exercise their right to vote.  I’ve heard that a 5-6% turnout of the electorate is not uncommon in many elections.  In the meantime, thousands of dimwits are literally camped out in our cities to fight for their right to ruin this country.  Complacency is our worst enemy, and if we cannot overcome that when we are on the verge of disaster, then it’s doubtful we ever will.  It is not enough to have our hearts and heads in the right place.  We must act.

The next thing that struck me about the event was the fiery divergence of opinion in this small group supposedly gathered for a common purpose.  During his talk the candidate extolled his success in spearheading the failure of a ballot measure that would have allowed liquor stores in his city (which, by the way, borders my city which also has no liquor stores).  This evidently struck a raw nerve with one lady.  She demanded to know why a conservative would be “anti-business,” and then proceeded to berate him rather than letting him answer a good question.  This raised the ire of another lady who was clearly on the anti-liquor store side, and the two gals proceeded to hotly debate the issue.  For those of you hoping to hear a blow by blow of the ensuing wrestling match, I’m sorry to disappoint you.  Instead, one charming woman (okay, it was just me) opined that she would like to actually hear the candidate’s answer to the question, and the meeting was restored to order.

What I found disturbing about the exchange, aside from the rudeness of co-opting the speaker’s venue and turning it into a debate over the sale of liquor, was the sense of entitlement people can have about getting their way.  After all, we live in a society where we routinely must deal with the fact that citizens have competing interests.  There was, in my view, no constitutionally protected right at stake (no one necessarily has the right to convenient access to liquor; nor do others necessarily have the right not to be exposed to behaviors associated with easy access to liquor).  Each lady had a valid position.  The purpose of having a system where we exercise our wishes through elected representatives or, in some cases, by direct vote, is to resolve these types of issues peacefully.

My final observation has to do with the candidate’s answer to the “anti-business” charge.  I am naturally suspicious when people appear overly anxious to micro-manage their towns and cities, and besides that my husband likes whisky and complains when he has to drive 30 minutes to buy it (you can buy wine and beer in the grocery store here so I’m all set).  The candidate’s reasoning was this:  when a city in Texas votes to change its charter to allow the sale of liquor it then becomes the state’s sole privilege to issue licenses.  The city then has little control over how many licenses are issued and, except for a law prohibiting liquor stores from being 300 feet from a school or residence (I’m paraphrasing from memory here), they have little control over the location of these businesses as well.  So it was, in his view, an issue of local control versus state control.  Furthermore, the issue was poorly worded on the ballot so that people weren’t likely to clearly understand all of the ramifications of what they were voting for.

I was impressed with his answer.  It showed him to be a thoughtful man who was well-informed on the issue and who understood the necessity of looking at the broader picture.  The important lesson I took away is this:  principled positions do not go along well with knee-jerk assumptions, and we should not allow convenient formulations (i.e.: conservatives = pro-business) to be a substitute for thinking or for doing our homework.  The secondary lesson comes from Stephen Covey (“The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People):  “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” 

Just before she left the angry pro-liquor store lady shook hands with the candidate, and she was smiling.