The first soccer game that made me cry

May 25, 2010 12 comments

The first soccer game I cried over wasn’t one I was playing in. It’s somehow different when you are in the game. Different emotions are involved. When you are playing, you are more engaged in the battle. And if the game is close, as a player you never give up hope. But if you are watching a game, involved as a spectator, you are trapped. Your emotions rise and fall with every missed opportunity, close call, and bad referee decision. It’s a completely different experience, and it can twist you into knots, sometimes making you unable to watch what happens next.

The 1986 World Cup was the first World Cup I watched. My brother and I were insatiable. For the opening rounds, our family was in Canada for the 1986 World Fair in Vancouver, but we couldn’t be bothered.

Mom and Dad “We are going to see the Expo now, c’mon boys”
My brother and I “Aw, but Spain is about to play Denmark!”

I seriously think my father was considering throwing the hotel TV out the window.

I had grown up listening to Alan Fountain commentate the TV show Soccer Made in Germany. This show would broadcast 50 minutes of a 90 minute match, with 10 minutes of “this is how life is in Germany” to round out the hour. While other kids were following the Dallas Cowboys, I followed teams like Schalke 04, 1. FC Köln, and Borussia Mönchengladbach. Sure I followed the NFL too – I am an American after all – but since I actually played soccer, it was somehow better. And since I have ancestors of Prussian extraction, plus the TV show, I grew up a fan of Germany’s national soccer team. Now I could have chosen to follow my long-lost relatives from Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Denmark, England, or Sweden – but there were no shows called “soccer made in Switzerland” that I knew of. I knew the German players from watching them each week, and so the die was cast.

The 1986 World Cup Final was West Germany vs. Argentina. For the record, Argentina won, and I think Toni Schumacher (Germany’s goalkeeper) forgot to eat his Wheaties that day. He couldn’t save a goal to save his life, and he was at fault for at least one of the goals, maybe more. His performance that day still makes me angry.

(Getty Images)

By early second half, Argentina was winning 2-0, and it appeared they were going to easily win. Argentina was bossing the game, and had taken advantage of Schumacher’s mistakes to build their lead. At this point I was bummed, but tears were not even on the horizon. If it’s not a close game, and no tragedy or near miss had befallen your team yet, there’s no chance of tears.

By the time the Final was played, we had returned from Canada. My family was sharing a Sunday dinner at my Grandmother’s with other relatives. I’m not sure how many of them had heard of the World Cup, but my brother and I risked the wrath of our Mother to skip dinner and go to the cramped TV room to watch the Final. Then – finally! – Germany scored their first goal, late in the 2nd half. I let out an extra loud WAHOO! Aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, and parents filtered into the tiny room. Could Germany complete the comeback and tie the game? We all held our collective breath as Germany poured forward, looking for the equalizer. Only 6 minutes later, they had done it! Germany had scored the equalizing goal! We were jumping, hugging, hollering, and yahooing as if we were actually from Munich. Just one more goal and the comeback would be complete!

You know how sometimes you get so wrapped up in what you are doing that you forget about other people around you? Maybe you are so into a project that you don’t hear that it’s time for dinner, or you are reading a great book and can’t hear your daughter crying in the other room? I think that’s what happened to Germany. They were so interested in going forward in search of goals that they forgot about Diego Maradona, the best player in the tournament.

Well, there was one more goal all right, but it was for Argentina. The little wizard beat 5 German players with one pass, and took advantage of Schumacher’s horrible day yet again. The game ended. The trophy was lifted by Argentina.

Now, if Argentina had just won 2-0, or even 3-0, I would have been fine. No tears. We all would have made our way back to the roast beef and mashed potatoes muttering things like “well that’s too bad”, or “it just wasn’t Germany’s day.”

But the fact that Germany had come back from the dead, and scored two goals to tie the game with 10 minutes left, somehow changed the equation. I was full of hope. The sun was brighter. I wasn’t hungry. Maybe, just maybe, my Saturday afternoon heroes like Klaus Allofs, Olaf Thon, and Lothar Matthäus could win the trophy and become the best team in the world.

1986 W Germany Team (Getty Images)

Everyone left, and I sat there, alone in the TV room at my Grandparents’ house. I cried. I admit it was a little embarrassing, but I couldn’t help it. I had witnessed the effort, the urgency, the frustration all play out in 100+ degree heat with no time-outs, no huddles, no coaching strategy sessions to call a final play. Just 11 men working together as a team, carrying the hopes and dreams of their entire country. And witnessing their struggle – it drew me in.

That’s why I love the World Cup. There is EVERYTHING to play for. Personal Pride. National Pride. Sporting Glory, Sporting History, and Sporting Immortality
. It is the greatest sporting event of the greatest sport in the world, watched by more people than any other event on earth. It might take a game or two to warm up, or it might explode from the beginning. If you watch the games, you will be drawn in. But be careful. You may laugh. You may exult. Your team may become Champions of the World. But you also may shed a tear or two.

And after all these years, Congrats to Argentina. There, I said it.

Loving Cup

May 19, 2010 3 comments

The Rolling Stones are re-releasing one of their best albums of all time, Exile on Main Street. This album was originally released in 1972. The band had to steal away to the south of France and record portions of it in Keith Richards’ villa due to drug allegations and tax problems back in England.

Do many of you know or like this album? Personally, I have always loved it. It’s one of my favorites.

But I have been a Stones fan for so much my life, that my favorite songs aren’t the ones that everyone knows. I’ve heard “Satisfaction“, “Get Off My Cloud“, and “Start Me Up“, etc. so many times that I sometimes forget how great these songs were when they were new.

My favorite Stones songs are the hidden gems – the 3rd or 4th on the back side of an album – the ones no one ever really talks about. “Indian Girl” on the back side of Emotional Rescue speaks of the civil war in Angola and Fidel Castro, and a little girl that has no food to eat cuz the soldiers ate it. “Highwire“, track 16 off of the 1991 live album release Flash Point speaks about watching the first gulf war on prime time while eating TV dinners. These are great songs.

Exile On Main Street has some of these hidden gems as well. Exile is a wonderful album that has songs ranging from gospel to blues to rock-n-roll. If you want to read more about the album re-release, check out this article here. Trust me, it’s worth the read.

As for me, this album has one of my favorite Rolling Stones songs of all time, “Loving Cup“.

“I’m the man on the Mountain, come on up
“I’m the plough man in the Valley, with a face full of mud
“Yes I’m fumblin’, and I know my car won’t start
“Yes I’m stumblin’, and I know I play a bad guitar

“Gimme little drink, from your Loving Cup
“Just one drink, and I fall down, drunk

I would love to have some excuse to dress up like Mick, in the old 1972 garb, feather boa, gangster hat, tight-fitting black pinstripe suit, ankle-boots, ruffled shirt, and a little eye make-up….and go sing some of those songs. That would be Sweet Virginia.

A publicity shot for “Exile on Main Street,’’ in 1972. (Norman Seeff)

Categories: Literature Tags:

Cicero still teaching us today

May 13, 2010 5 comments

Cicero was an ancient Roman Consul. He served in the Roman government for many years. John Adams said that “all the ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and philosopher united than Cicero“. In his works The Republic and The Laws, Cicero explains his thoughts on good government and leadership.

Two of my favorite points he makes are:
1. People should learn to do of their own accord what they are compelled to do by the law.
2. There is no other occupation in which human virtue approaches more closely the function of the gods than that of founding new States or preserving those already in existence.

In his time, many of his wealthy friends wondered why he would waste his time in politics. His answer is that good, brave, and high-minded men get involved in order to not be ruled by wicked men, and not to allow the republic to be destroyed by them.

There are so many people in our time that want to focus solely on making money and living “the good life.” For the most part, I have no complaints about this. But we also need to make sure and preserve the government that protects the freedoms and liberties we enjoy, not just try to get away with whatever we can and leave it to future generations to pick up the pieces.

When I read “good, brave and high-minded men get involved in order to not be ruled by wicked men”, it made me think of my brother Greg. He’s a guy like most of America: he has a family, a job, hobbies and interests, etc. But he also gets involved in protecting our republican form of government.

When the US Representative that represents Greg wasn’t voting the way most of the people in their district wanted based on their polls, he and his friends got involved. They made phone calls. They set-up websites and blogs. They called on their Rep for explanations of her votes. Their efforts were noticed by national media outlets and brought enough pressure on their Congressional Representative that she was finally forced to respond.

I asked him about the purpose of his involvement. Was he planning on running for office? Other political aspirations? His answer was that he just couldn’t sit by and let the elected officials keep doing whatever they wanted, and not be held accountable. He just couldn’t sit by and let it happen.

Shades of Cicero, perhaps?

Is this Cicero ... or my brother Greg?

Is this Cicero ... or my brother Greg?

What the Ruling Class is doing with your money

May 6, 2010 13 comments

One evidence of a Ruling Class taking over a country is when the rulers go against the wishes of the people who have elected them.

Roughly 90% of Americans rejected the $700,000,000,000.00 ($700B) TARP bailout plan, but the Ruling Class pushed it through anyway.

We rejected the $40B bailout of AIG and trading partner Goldman Sachs – which subsequently grew to a $180B bailout – but the Ruling Class hid what they were doing and illegally used taxpayer monies to perform the bailout anyway. (The guy in charge of this one? Current Treasury Secretary Geithner. Nice.)

We the people also rejected a government take over of GM and Chrysler, but the Ruling Class went ahead and used billions of our dollars to do it anyway, paying preferred creditors pennies on the dollar, and transferred huge proportions of the newly formed companies into the hands of the United Auto Workers union. Yet another Chicago-style cronyism move by the current administration.

If this isn’t going against the will of the people, I don’t know what is. This is government taking power into its own hands and doing what it wants against the will of the people, making huge transfers of wealth and often – like Geithner – feathering his own bed in the process. I don’t know what you call this type of government, but it is not a democratic republic.

Can the US Government actually run a program without bankrupting it?

  • Social Security ($17,500,000,000,000.00 underfunded; $17.5 trillion);
  • Medicare Part A ($36,700,000,000,000.00 underfunded; $36.7 trillion);
  • Medicare Part B ($37,000,000,000,000.00 underfunded; $37 trillion);
  • Medicare Part D ($15,600,000,000,000 underfunded; $15.6 trillion),
  • Government and military pensions ($2,000,000,000,000 underfunded; $2 trillion)

And we are going to let this same Government run Healthcare? Even the Office of Management and Budget is reporting that the United States government will experience massive, non-stop deficits for the next 70 (SEVENTY) years, requiring the issuance of tens of trillions of dollars of additional debt. The OMB does not project even one year of surplus during the entire seventy year budget period. Link HERE. (And don’t even get me started that these budget numbers are already including $646 Billion in tax revenues from 2012 to 2019 from Cap & Trade, which hasn’t even been passed yet!) Has your elected official talked to you about that? You don’t have to answer.

What is our Government’s response? Print more dollars. The US government has announced that during the fiscal years from 2010 through 2019, it will create an additional $9,000,000,000,000.00 ($9 trillion) in deficits, an amount that is almost certain to be understated by trillions given the country’s current economic trajectory. The government assumes that this vast additional deficit will be funded by others, such as the Chinese, as it is a statistical fact that the United States will be incapable of funding it. Link HERE.

What does this mean to you and me? That our wealth (if we have any) is being destroyed. Create enough dollars and they won’t be worth anything. It’s a simple truth: too much of something makes it worthless. The more our government creates money to cover their RECORD SPENDING, the less valuable your salary is, the less valuable your savings are, etc. Our government is bankrupting us through this spending policy. I know we sometimes think the United States is a blessed country and more immune to these problems than other nations, but let’s not be naive enough to think that somehow supply and demand doesn’t apply here! And that the value of our dollars won’t be adversely affected by the Government printing trillions and trillions more of them!

What can we do? Make a plan to protect yourself and your family. Don’t hold your assets only in dollars. Diversify into other things (land, gold, etc.) Even the Wall Street Journal is saying it’s a good idea to stockpile food. Link HERE.

And let’s get these big spenders out of Washington. I’m not talking Democrats vs. Republicans. Vote people into the House of Representatives that will work to put an end to this spending. The House is the easiest access we have to the Federal Machine. Find people you can support that will work to stop this spending madness. It won’t be easy to stand up to the current machine that is playing party politics as hard as anyone has in recent memory, but we might as well try while our dollars are still worth something.

Honestly, though, I’m not sure what kind of difference we can make at the Federal level until there is a massive reset (huge depression, market collapse, currency devaluation or failure, etc.) but this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. We can, however, make a difference at the local level. When our Federal government’s spending policies finally make it impossible to be the “be-all, end-all” throughout America — which it never should be trying to do — we will still need to make life work where we live. Getting involved at the local level will make a huge difference in how our communities adapt and move forward.

What are your thoughts? What are other ways we can prepare for the inevitable problems facing the dollar due to government monetary policy?

The Geordies are Back Up!

April 30, 2010 2 comments

Like most Newcastle United fans, I feared the worst when we were relegated at the end of the 2009 season. We expected a fire sale of our best players, especially after top players like Shay Given and James Milner were allowed to leave DURING a season we were struggling with relegation. It appeared the club ownership didn’t care about the club anymore, and that it would be reduced to tatters.

In some ways this hasn’t changed. There are still many doubts about the seriousness of the ownership of Newcastle United Football Club. Are they in it for the long haul? Are they really looking out for the best interests of the club? Many doubts remain. Following Shay Given and James Milner out the door during the 2009 season, once relegation was certain, the likes of Michael Owen, Obafemi Martins, Sebastien Bassong, Habib Beye, and Damien Duff also were allowed to leave the club. Most of the players listed are starters for their Premier League or Bundesliga teams. With so many top players allowed to leave, the fear was that Newcastle would “pull a Leeds” and drop down to the 2nd or 3rd division of English Football.

But it was not to be. With a little luck and with a core group of committed players, as well as the improvement of players already on the team (I have Alan Smith and Steve Harper in mind here), Newcastle United has won the Championship Division – their first trophy in 17 years – and has made their way back to the English Premier League at first try.


And it’s no more than the supporters deserve. They have not stayed away, coming out in droves and setting new attendance records for the Championship. Hopefully we won’t pull a yo-yo and go back down straight away — it really depends on if the owner decides to spend some money and strengthen the club in the off-season.

Either way, we’ve done it at first attempt, and it’s great to be back in the Premiership once again.

The Geordies are back up! Howay the Lads!


The Power of Virtuous Communication

April 21, 2010 2 comments

Most if not all progress happens through conversation. New ideas need to be brought before colleagues. Concepts get discussed around boardrooms and back rooms. How we communicate with each other regarding ideas and concepts makes a big difference in their success or failure. How companies discover, discuss and implement solutions to problems ranging from implementing new technology to providing better customer service often makes or breaks the business. One could say that the most progressive companies can identify issues, and find solutions through communication and adaptation, quicker than their counterparts.

Successful communication is also the key to happy relationships. In a relationship with a spouse or significant other, the manner in which we resolve differences through communication can mean the difference between happiness and heartbreak.

The successful resolution of problems hinges on how we communicate. It is more than the words we say. What is the motivation behind our communication? What is our end goal as we communicate? Do we resist great ideas from colleagues because of petty rivalries? Do we undermine those around us because we want credit for new ideas and for finding the best solution? These kinds of attitudes are real and present in the workplace. It costs untold millions of dollars in lost opportunities and lost customers for businesses when company leaders remain focused on personal agendas rather than the ultimate good of the company. Do we resist honest communication with our significant other because we would rather defend our position to the bitter end than see it through their eyes and move forward together?

One definition of virtue is to fulfill the purpose we were created for. To help a company or spouse achieve their stated goals – their unique level of excellence – should be the end goal of our communication with those we communicate with. But how can this be accomplished?

Aristotle has provided a recipe to help us discover how to understand our world better, and achieve more progress, by communicating on a higher plane. This can be used to improve a relationship with a spouse, or to assist a particular company achieve new levels of success. Aristotle says that the best communication comes from those who can see things as they really are. And, the ability to see things as they truly are only comes to those of a good, moral character. The ability to contemplate things as they really are brings bad thinking to a stop, and lets good thinking begin. The key to this type of communication is to have what Aristotle calls “the beautiful” as our motivation.

The “beautiful” is not specifically defined by Aristotle, but he uses the Greek phrase “to kalon” (translated as “the beautiful”) to mean a certain moral rightness. It is what someone that has “right desire” and “right thinking” working together truly desires for himself and those around him. According to Aristotle, “the beautiful” is the end goal of virtuous actions. Therefore, those that can create the habit of virtuous action in their lives, keeping the end goal of the moral rightness and righteous desires – “the beautiful” – in mind, will be able to communicate on a higher plane. They will see things as they truly are, not through muddled, habitually bad thinking.

Working within this framework allows us to break out of bad habits. Instead of already having made our judgment based on our habitual way of looking at things, it allows us to wonder at the situations we find ourselves in. We wonder because we need to get away from our animal, instinctive responses of already knowing. With “the beautiful” as our motivation, there is no more defensiveness and self-preservation in our communication. It keeps us from forcing everything into supporting our self-serving opinions and our preconceived theories. Following Aristotle’s method frees us to stop thinking in a habitually bad way, and lets real thinking begin. We slow down our knee jerk reactions, and allow for time to find the communication that is truly lifting. Stephen Covey speaks about the short instants between environmental input and the response we choose to make. This means we have a reaction time in which we can choose to communicate in the best possible manner, reaching for “the beautiful.”

We can’t couch our communication behind hidden agendas of “what am I going to get out of this”, or “this will make me look really smart”, or “I’m going to prove I’m right no matter what.” When we have motivation other than “the beautiful” behind our communication, people can sense our lack of sincerity. Aristotle says that “the beautiful” is perceived by the senses: it is simply ‘just known’ when it exists or occurs. When we communicate within our hidden agendas, people can sense whether or not you truly have their best interests in mind. It doesn’t matter if you are using all the correct words. If the right motivation is not present, it can be sensed. Right reasoning and right desires both need to be present. The things we say and the stands we take depend on our moral virtue to make our aim right.

Following this pattern enables us to find the best path forward through our conversations. If our motivation is genuinely good, we will repair and maintain good relationships even if our choice of words is not always the best. We will also be able to find the intersection – the common ground – between different parties goals and purposes. Finding this common ground allows us to reach resolutions quicker, build bridges faster, and repair strained relationships that so often limit progress.

Russell Kirk says that order in the world starts with order in men’s own hearts. If there is right order in our own hearts – morally virtuous thoughts and desires – it will be manifest in our actions and communication because, as Aristotle states, virtue manifests itself in action.  Keeping “the beautiful” as the motivating factor in our interactions with our spouses and colleagues will allow us to reach new levels of progress and live happy, fulfilling lives.

A Ruling Class in America

April 12, 2010 20 comments

At its most basic level, government is a willing agreement entered into by a group of people to give up some individual liberty for the preservation of the group in general. Cicero called it a “partnership in justice.”

When we, as fellow humans, are in our most natural state, outside of societies and the reach of governments, no one person has rights or power over another. There are natural – or unalienable – rights that people have simply by being human. Some of these are the right to protect oneself, protection of property, right to life, right to liberty (not be enslaved), etc.

William Blackstone, British judge and author from the 1700’s said that the main purpose of human laws – the laws we create – is to maintain and protect these natural born rights. He called them “absolute rights.”

When people create a community or society, they enter into an agreement where certain liberties are willingly given up in exchange for things like safety, security, and order. For example, I have consented to be governed by the laws of my city, state and nation, even though that means I can’t do everything I may want to do whenever I want to. I may not agree with every law, but by not rebelling, it proves my consent to be governed.

The laws that we create to maintain order are secondary to our absolute rights. One of these absolute rights is the right of self-government. No one individual has the right to govern another person unless this person has willingly consented.

The United States of America has a republican form of government, not a democracy. Republican government means that we choose representatives from among ourselves to represent our desires and wishes within the government structure. As James Burgh, a British contemporary of the American founders wrote, we the people are the political body that retains the power to rule. Choosing representatives does not mean we have chosen rulers over us. He states,

“We have not so delegated the power to you, as to make you the governors of us and our estates. You are in truth but our procurators to speak for us in the great council. That of right we ought to have access to those, whom we have thus chosen, and to the house, as there shall be cause to impart our desires to you, and you ought not to refuse us. That by involving our votes in yours, we had no purpose to make you perpetual dictators.”

I am surprised that the United States of America has a constitution without term limits for its congressional representatives. This needs to change. The ability to be a lifetime legislator has led to the creation of a ruling class separate from other citizens. Members of this class have their own elite healthcare system as well as guaranteed salaries for the rest of their lives, paid for by public taxes. Being a legislator term after term opens the door to numerous opportunities to grant political favors in return for financial benefits that have enriched our congressional reps well beyond the norms of society.

Since before the ink was dry on the original Constitution, we have been warned of the necessity of term limits.  Why? Keep reading and find out.

The Duke of Buckingham gets credit for this famous quote stating the need for elected representatives to return to private life:

“They do not now think they are an assembly of men, that are to return to their own homes, and become private men again (as by the laws of the land and constitution…they ought to be) but look upon themselves as a standing senate, as men picked out to be legislators for the rest of their lives.”

Thomas Jefferson also spoke out as an advocate for representatives to be involved for a short time in the government, and then to return to private life. Jefferson said it would help representatives sympathize with the people. Without limits on the representatives’ time in government, they would lose this sensibility and their behavior would be quite different owing to their perceived independence. He stated:

“My reason for fixing them in office for a term of years rather than for life, was that they might have in idea that they were at a certain period to return into the mass of the people and become the governed instead of the governors which might still keep alive that regard to the public good that otherwise they might perhaps be induced by their independence to forget.”

Aristotle, who studied many forms of government, warned against perpetual legislators in this manner:

“It is not easy for a person to do any great harm when his tenure of office is short, whereas long possession begets tyranny … for the aspirants to tyranny are either the principal men of the state…or those who hold great offices, and have a long tenure of them.

Regarding our elected representatives, and their duty to conduct themselves according to the desires of their constituency, James Burgh wrote that:

“When we elect persons to represent us we must not be supposed to depart from the smallest right which we have deposited with them. We make a lodgment, not a gift; we entrust, but part with nothing. We have, therefore, a right to know what they are saying and doing. And should they contradict our sense, or swerve from our interests, we have a right to remonstrate, inform, and direct them. By which means, we become regulators of our own conduct, and the institutors of our own laws, and nothing material can be done but by our authority and consent.”

If representatives were to serve in the government for a term or two, and then return to be among the governed rather than a governor, they would be more inclined to pass laws that they are willing to live with as part of the citizenry.

Compare this with US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and her recent behavior regarding the healthcare bill before congress. Not only does the American public not know what is in this bill, according to her own publications she is deliberately trying to keep it this way. She is involved in hidden deals and spending millions of taxpayer monies to purchase votes in favor of the bill. This hidden legislation, back-room briberies, and strong-arm tactics are exactly the opposite of how the representative system of government is supposed to work.

The key is to understand and remember that we the people have an absolute right to self-government. We only give that right away when we do not remember it, or fail to use it. Our elected officials representing us in congress have a duty to vote our votes, inform us of the goings-on, and truly act as proxies of the American people they represent.

One way to do away with this ruling class is to pass term limits for congressional representatives. In addition, we need to be as vocal and vigilant as ever against politicians like Nancy Pelosi. The right to govern ourselves is an absolute and unalienable right that we have. When our elected representatives take power unto themselves like Pelosi is doing – hiding the contents of a bill from the public and doing back-room deals to pass legislation before publishing its contents – we need to exercise our rights and replace her. She and politicians like her are working toward the decline of the American way of representative government.

But we can fight back. We can get educated. We can familiarize ourselves with the documents regarding the founding of our great nation. We can attend any discussions on the Constitution or correct use of government in areas where we live. If there aren’t any, start one. Join social networking groups that discuss these topics online. When the grassroots ground swell is large enough, we need people to be educated on these topics and ready to make a difference in our country’s future.

Scenario for the President

March 29, 2010 2 comments
“QUICK!  Mr. President, bad policies for the past 20 years have dug us into a hole….and the brightest minds we have tell us we’re within 48 hours of the financial system freezing.  Make a decision:
1) Inject liquidity AS A LOAN to the system (Like we did for S&L crisis which turned a profit for the US Gov’t.  This was how the TARP plan was sold to the Administration – but it has clearly been hijacked since by Congress, Geithner, others.).
…or….
2)  Stand there and we’ll take a guess about just how far the market can crash.  But we’re being told it is as bad/worse than 1929.
QUICK…”

If you are standing on principles, the speed of the decision doesn’t matter as much.

I think the scenario sort-of makes one point: Government gets involved with “A” in mind (in this case the S&L loans or Financial Bailout.) First blush is positive. But as with most if not all government involvement, it gets hijacked, and turned into something not intended. Go back (choose the years) and we will see the examples. Income tax; FDR’s programs; Welfare; The Great Society programs; etc. etc. I don’t know them all.

My opinion? Given the above scenario, the President should choose 2, and let Lehman Brothers collapse. And he should have pressured the Fed to not get involved in helping bail them out. (Or maybe he didn’t know cuz it was secretive, but he could have found out, and fired the guy for doing it.) Also, allowing the Fed to facilitate JP Morgan Chase’s purchase of Bear Stearns for pennies on the dollar. Yes these banks should have failed. There’s no way that a banking system performing the kinds of stunts that they have been performing should have been bailed out with taxpayers money. You think laissez faire is adversely affected by uncertainty (absence of full information)? Absolutely it is. What about Keynesianism and other interventionist policies? Are they immune to the ails of uncertainty? Absolutely not. And the market forces will correct for any uncertainty a LOT quicker than a poor government policy that has become LAW and may take generations to overcome. We’re still paying for the ones from 60-70 years ago. In fact, the government injects it’s own uncertainty into the system, but more on that below.

We appear to have changed topics from Bush vs. the Constitution, and maybe for good reason after listening to Paul, Jeff and Deon’s points. One of the best conservative minds — possibly ever — was Edmund Burke. I bring him into the Constitution discussion because he advocated gradual change, but at the same time not destroying the pillars of freedom with our experimental Acts. I’m equating his mentioning of Experimental Acts of his time to the Patriot Acts of our time. Yes we have to change with the times as Burke says (e.g. we have to deal with terrorists), but according to him, it’s not worth destroying the pillars of liberty that we have built our society on in order to accomplish that change. If we do so, we are destroying the foundation upon which our nation is built.

In terms of the banking issues, absolutely let Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns fail. Don’t let the Fed get involved at all. The banks made bad business decisions. There is tons of evidence of corruption. Why inject loans into that? What is the economic principle that that decision is based on? In my opinion the decision was based on fear. Once again, we have a government trying — through their macro economic policies — to right the ship. “We can fix it. We can control the market forces.” And once again, the evidence is that they can’t. It might have stabilized some things for the time being, but anyone watching KNOWS with their gut that this glut of spending is going to have to be paid for at some point, and it’s going to be worse when it’s time to pay the piper. The Fear Move didn’t do anything but delay a market correction. Check out Karl Denninger if you’d like to read more.

AND, there are even some studies, like this one by the Stanford economist John Taylor, which purports to show (pdf) that the credit markets actually did not react all that badly to Lehman going under and that the crisis was really the product of market uncertainty about the effects of government action. So, the “market” reacted not all that badly to a market force of letting a bank go under, but the real market crisis started after the government decided to get involved to try to “control” the natural market forces? Add to this the fact that the bond market says it’s safer to lend to Warren Buffet than to Barak Obama, and I think we see what Keynesian fiscal policies bring to the table in terms of uncertainty.

See, now this makes sense to me.

Morality and Leadership; Pelosi is bad for America

March 19, 2010 4 comments

At it’s most basic level, government is a willing agreement entered into by a group of people to give up some individual liberty for the preservation of the group in general. Cicero called it a “partnership in justice.”

For example, I have consented to be governed by the laws of my city, state and nation, even though that means I can’t do everything I may want to do whenever I want to. I may not agree with every law, but by not rebelling, it proves my tacit consent.

Naturally, then, in government leaders will emerge. We need to pick sheriffs, judges, mayors, presidents, legislators, etc. But does it really matter what kind of people they are? I think it does.

We have recently heard of all kinds of votes being “bought” in order to pass the healthcare bill. A Utah Congressman’s brother is getting appointed to a judgeship in exchange for the Congressman’s vote for Obamacare. The Hill newspaper reports on some of the goodies, including $300 million in extra funding for Sen. Landrieu’s home state of Louisiana, and millions in extra Medicaid dollars for Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson. The public doesn’t want the bill to pass, so the Dems have to make these hidden deals in order to get it passed. Outside of Obamacare, the New Jersey government has been caught in corrupt contract scandals, awarding contracts and taking a cut of the money. Many state and national politicians are caught in sexual scandals. Our government leaders have been convicted of embezzlement, lying, and tax-fraud; implicated in the disappearance of interns, campaign fraud, and abuse of intelligence to rationalize war; and unconscionable waste of taxpayers money – basically robbing us, the citizens. It’s more like reading about pirates plundering a nation than its leaders preserving it!

Polybius, a Greek from around 200BC, watched the downfall of his native Greece and the emergence of Rome as the dominating power of the era. He wrote many books on Rome’s emergence and its history. He compares Rome to other contemporary nation-states like Greece, Carthage, etc. He says in The Histories, volume III that

“But the quality in which he Roman commonwealth is most distinctly superior is in my opinion the nature of their religious convictions. The consequence is that among the Greeks, (where belief in religion was deemed foolish) apart from other things, members of the government, if they are entrusted with no more than a talent, (a piece of money) though they have 10 copyists and as many seals and twice as many witnesses, cannot keep their faith; whereas among the Romans those who as magistrates and legates are dealing with large sums of money maintain correct conduct just because they have pledged their faith by oath. Whereas elsewhere it is a rare thing to find a man who keeps his hands off public money, and whose record is clean in this respect, among the Romans one rarely comes across a man who has been detected in such conduct.”

Whether the moral code you adhere to comes from organized religion or not, Polybius makes clear that moral people — people who believe in and live in accordance to the natural principles of right vs. wrong; honesty is good, dishonesty is bad; fidelity and integrity are good; etc. — these are the people that make the best public servants and leaders in government.

A generation later, the Roman Cicero said that leaders that follow these moral codes are the only ones fit to govern.

Another generation or two later, approximately 160AD, Marcus Aurelius was Emperor of Rome. In his Meditations he lauds a moral character that works for the public interest in a manner that befits a ruler.

My point is that the morality question has very little to do with the Religious Right of the current political landscape. Oh sure they get their boxers in a bunch about it nowadays, just in time for the next one to fall from within their own ranks due to yet another “indiscretion.” We don’t need to look to these punters for direction, or assume when they fall that the belief in a moral code is incorrect. We have the writings and lessons of history before us. Some Roman guys from a long time ago set-up a mixed government system with an Executive Branch, a Senate, a legislative (popular assembly) body, and judges. Sound familiar? They were the world’s super power for centuries, and their system worked for over 500 years. America, by paltry comparison, is just above the 200+ years mark.

So it’s not like we haven’t been pointed the way.

James Burgh, involved in the creation of this great nation, wrote in 1774 that,

“When we elect persons to represent us we must not be supposed to depart from the smallest right which we have deposited with them. We make a lodgment, not a gift; we entrust, but part with nothing. We have, therefore, a right to know what they are saying and doing. And should they contradict our sense, or swerve from our interests, we have a right to remonstrate, inform, and direct them. By which means, we become the regulators of our own conduct, and the institutors of our own laws, and nothing material can be done but by our authority and consent.”

Compare this with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and her behavior around the healthcare bill. Not only does the American public not know what is in this bill, she is deliberately trying to keep it this way as it says on her own website. The hidden deals, millions of dollars for buying votes, and strong-arm tactics is exactly the opposite of how the representative system is supposed to work!

Pelosi and politicians like her are bad for America. Watch CNN say so HERE.

We need a way to get career politicians back into the real world – like thru term limits for Congress. And we need to be as vocal and vigilant as ever against her and politicians like her. The right to govern ourselves is a real and unalienable right that we have. When our elected representatives abuse it and take power unto themselves like Pelosi is doing – hiding the contents of a bill from the public and doing back room deals to get it put into law – we need to use our natural rights and get her and her cronies out of our government. She and politicians like her are working toward the decline of America. The history is before us.

Healthcare action YOU can take

March 18, 2010 6 comments

This is going to be a short one today. I have a couple of other posts partly written, but as we head toward the possible weekend vote on the ObamaCare national healthcare bill, I want to post a couple of ways that you can take action if you haven’t already. Personal contact from constituents can really influence how our representatives vote. And, since your congressmen and women are representing YOU in Washington D.C., you should let them know how you feel.

If you are for or against the federal government taking over the healthcare in this country, let them know. Let your representatives know how you would like them to vote in order to best represent you.

This is from Nancy Pelosi’s own website, speaking of the healthcare bill: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.”

Say what? Pass a piece of legislation into law so that (we) can find out what is in it? That is completely backwards, Ms. Speaker of the House! And it is completely wrong.

The people we have representing us in Congress (the House and Senate) should represent the will of the people. There are many, many polls that show Americans do not want this version of national healthcare passed…due to the trillions in costs and the fact that people haven’t even read it yet! We don’t know what is in the bill, and we don’t trust the politicians pushing it through “at all costs.” Whether you agree with me or not, take a stand and act on it.

Here are some places that you can go to send faxes to your congressional representatives. Jump in. Make your voice heard.

Human Events Grassfire.Org Citizens In Action

If you would prefer to phone your representatives, you can find their phone numbers on this website. Just call them up, and leave a message with the staffer that answers the phone. Tell them how you want them to vote on the healthcare bill, and wish them a nice day. It will make a difference, and you can do it.