The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

When the last installment of Marcel Proust’s “magnum opus” was published in 1927, it was the culmination of a writing effort that spanned a fifteen year period.  The work was translated into English as, “A Remembrance of Things Past”.

Those who long for the halcyon days of a kinder, gentler, smaller, more rational government already realize that problems which have been created over long periods of time cannot be remedied with short-term and short-sighted solutions.  Attempting to repair society by applying Band-Aids to deep, festering sores may staunch the flow of blood for the moment but this approach will not remove the cancer from the body politic.

It is essential that those who recognize the deadliness of the path on which America has set its footing (and by implication much of the Western civilized world as we know it) are not merely passing through time and history.  We are the ones who have the opportunity to take action and write history through the steps we take today to make ours a better country and a better world.

History provides us with a great deal of nurturing guidance.  And one of its most important lessons is that it takes time to unfold.  From Plymouth Rock to The Declaration of Independence, 156 years of history had to pass.  If we embark on a path of real change today, many of us who start this process will not live to see its fulfillment.  But we will leave, as did the Founding Fathers, a legacy which those who come after us will enjoy.

Those of us who are educated, rational and pragmatic have spent far too much of our time and resources in an effort to convince those of a different opinion that we offered a better way than the one to which they subscribed.  Underlying our arguments was the assumption that these people were also educated, rational and pragmatic.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

When Governor Romney made his famous “47%” remark he was immediately attacked and lambasted for telling it like it was.  His statement was, of course, correct – but the emphasis should have been that meant that there were 53% of the populace who still had the dignity, desire and self-esteem to work toward changing things for all of America’s population for the better.  We’re still here today, despite our war injuries.

So how do we regroup, rearm and begin?  The first thing must be to define our goals and to keep them in mind as our frame of reference.  If we don’t know our destination, it’s difficult to determine a travel plan.  And too many of us are buying into our opponents’ strategy of distraction, holding up minor issues as talking points so that we ignore the real, fundamental and root causes of society’s malaise.

We also have many talking points.  But if we waste our efforts critiquing the opposition on Benghazi, the economy, the general level of unemployment, or a myriad of other subjects we only serve to weaken ourselves and thus give aid and succor to our opponents.

While those criticisms might be valid and well-documented, they mean nothing to an uneducated or under-educated mob whose only concern is surviving today and hopefully tomorrow.  And they mean nothing to those who, through intention, have helped to formulate this permanent under-class so that they may continue their own agenda which is to rule and dominate.

Perhaps the simplest way to define the goals of our war is to say that most of us who are reading this believe that a return to limited, Constitutional government wherein the individual has personal freedom based on a moral code would be a desirable goal.  Implicit in that is our ability to elect people to office who share that view.  And this leads us to a practical way to approach our ongoing battles.

It’s many years since presidential candidates rolled into town on a train, gave a speech and took off for their next destination.  Campaigns were financed with a few dollars here and a few dollars there.  Today, getting elected is a function of how much money can be raised for advertising and whose content slams the opponent the harder.  “Media is the message,” to misquote Marshall McLuhan.

It should be obvious that if those who contribute vast sums of money to get our opponents elected were to have their incomes reduced, they would have less ability to fund them in the next election cycle.  This is nothing more than the boycott strategy which worked so successfully in the 1960’s and 1970’s for the migrant farmworkers under the leadership of César Chavez.

There is a reason that I do not insure through GEICO or Progressive Insurance, or buy See’s Candy or eat at Dairy Queen.  By choosing to spend my money with them, I am supporting those who have helped foster our present policies and contributing to those who want to advance them further.  Why would any person who shares my view, rationally and willingly support those who would make us target practice?

Obviously, this is hardly an inclusive list of companies or services which I avoid.  But it should give you the basic idea.  The fact is that there are alternatives, often better alternatives to these companies’ products and I would rather spend my money with those who share my philosophy.

One person boycotting a company’s products is a personal statement.  But hundreds of thousands doing so will have an impact.  And if that number escalates to the millions, even the most hardcore liberal businessman will take notice and re-consider his thinking.

One of the most consistently generous groups in their views and their financial support for the liberal agenda comes to us from Hollywood.  Arguably, their products are also contributors to the violence which has become so commonplace on the American landscape.

Setting aside the fact that from an artistic standpoint, Hollywood offers little in the way of output that appeals to me, this is an issue which every conscientious conservative thinker should examine for himself.  Do I want to support an institution that actively seeks both to erode my personal freedoms and expose myself and my children to prurient violence and standards of morality which do not meet my personal expectations and example?

Again, one person boycotting the movies is a personal statement.  But millions, committed to a boycott would not only have a financial impact but just might cause those screenwriters to create material that is actually worth viewing.

History is not merely something that has happened before.  Its pages are being inscribed even as I type this post.  But the question is will it be written by those people of conscience who believe in the freedom of the individual or by those who believe in the power of the state?

The answer to that will be determined by what each of us does because, at least for the moment, the power is still in the hands of the people.

Comments on: "WHO’S GOT THE POWER? (PART TWO)" (12)

  1. You’re correct. Hollywood (or Hollyweird as many say) serves absolutely no purpose, nothing useful, entertaining , or informative issues therefrom in quite a few years, with a few exceptions, which we need to support.

    • I know there are people who are firmly committed to overturning abortion in this country and they march to demonstrate their feelings. But if you think of what Holllywood (and its stars) promote, abortion is one of many subjects that these same people abhor. Can you imagine the impact of people outside movie theaters picketing specific bad films – which degrade women, men and life in general? And even more importantly, what would be the bottom line effect of people refusing to participate in the Hollywood “experience” by not patronizing their products? That would be a wake up call that every director on the West Coast would have to acknowledge.

      The problem is that too many conservatives feel it is too low class for them to go out and demonstrate. But what they don’t realize is that if they don’t do something that they view as “low class” – tomorrow they may have no class.

      • You have much right here. The other problem it seems sometimes is that conservatives have other things to do-like jobs and families. But even if the revenues dropped drastically that would have an effect, and if we could do the rest, I think it would make a big change, being kicked in the pocketbook is often a very good wake up call.

      • Sometimes I think that we conservatives need “to get over ourselves”, pare back some of the layers of refinement and realize that this war is being fought in the trenches – and it’s hard not to get a little dirty with all the mud slinging that’s going on.

        You are right that many who agree with our thinking do have jobs and families to support. That does restrict the amount of time that they have to fight against the current in vogue mindset. But in the final analysis, the amount of time that they are working to support themselves and their families is decreasing and the amount of time they are working to support those who either will not or cannot work is increasing. At some point, people will rightly say, (if they haven’t already), “Enough is Enough.”

      • And that is correct as well. I, personally, will not work to build the business to the point where I have to hire any more-there is little return and much make work involved in it. It’s time for a reformation, so to speak.

  2. What I like about your contributions to the internet is that while your primary focus is America there are principles which apply to countries like my own. Our countries may be different but situations are similar. We need thoughtful contributions like yours so people can pause from their hum drum daily activities and take a careful look at where we are and how present events can influence our future.

    • Thank you for your kind comment. Although I guess your first line is true, it’s funny that I never really thought of myself as writing for the internet – though that is obviously the case. Your statement gave me a new perspective.

      This is not to say that America is the be all and end all for Western civilization, but if we devolve into some socialist state, there will be few who will not feel the impact of that transition. I think most of our allies and a good portion of Europe would acknowledge that as fact.

      The biggest problem with my “thoughtful contributions” as you put it, is that only “thoughtful people” take the time to read them and, more importantly, to think about them. Those who are the “hum drum livers” have probably never realized that there is a big and exciting world out there that they have only to break down the barricades of their self-confining prisons to appreciate. Honestly, I have no idea how to reach them.

  3. There was a time when our fore-bearers regarded the condition of being ruled over and dominated by immoral application of force acting to suppress individual liberty and what they viewed as man’s natural rights. These are the driving principles that caused them to draft the Declaration of Independence. Only after the war was won and it became obvious that the Articles of Confederation would not grant either the freedoms won in battle or the liberty for which a nation was established in patriot blood was the U.S. Constitution written and ratified.

    Those who fought that war fought on two fronts. They fought against the British military and they fought the Tories at home who were satisfied by the “blessings” afforded them by a benevolent tyrant king. The country was pretty much divided and polarized among Englishmen living in America.

    Modern day America is as polarized as it has been since the end of the Civil War between the States. There is no longer a willingness for members of the political class to honor the concept of comity and bipartisanship for the good of the nation. Most believe that what is best for the nation is the supremacy of the ideology that drives their politics

    Meanwhile, we are amassing a mountain range of debt that anyone with any common sense knows can never be paid down in full without starving the national economy first. In case you haven’t noticed from Greece, Spain, Egypt, Lybia, and many other nations of late, poverty and starvation can cause some fairly violent behavior. These are the sort of conditions that have led nations to war, populations to riot and revolt, and individual citizens to act to extremes against what anyone on the outside would judge to be their own rational self-interest, even to the point of suicide to end the sufferings brought about by government tyranny and propaganda.

    As you rightly point out, McLuhan taught us about how the soft influence of media invades and encourages behavior in just about every aspect of society. That influence now is much greater than his view from the 1950s and 1960s could every have imagined. This influence makes it incumbent on news media to identify soft influences that are harmful to individual responsibility and liberty and expose them to the general public as part of their duty to provide information and insight that helps explain new and developing phenomena that have been or can be harmful to the quality of life in a democratic republic. Indeed, it is our duty to help inform those among us in need of such insights and information which was one of the realizations that brought me back to blogging in short order after considering giving it up out of a sense of wasting my time and energy on an activity of dubious value.

    A boycott is one strategy that may or may not produce results and it may be worth a try. But, I can’t see a patient turning down a particular medicine essential to their health simply because big pharma donated millions to a corrupt, ill informed blowhard.who poses a real danger to individual liberty; especially to individual property rights, those exact rights that define a people as free owners of their own creativity, labor, intellect and accumulated prosperity. Without private property rights, in my view, there can be no rights worthy of the term. I have no objection to boycotts, but there is a huge difference between boycotting farmers and precursor “supermarkets” and boycotting Pharmacy, the Military Industrial Complex, Soros Fund Management, Koch Brothers industries or the Berkshire Hathaway companies. Even AARP is nearly untouchable simply because they are the most well known retirement group and their competitors are too weak to truly compete. And even if a boycott is successful, how are we to be sure that we are not silencing a voice and a partner who supports our political philosophy while strengthening the power of contributions by an opposing corporation of conglomerate?

    The only way I can determine to get America back to its small, impotent central government roots and its more powerful state government structure is to elect official with those beliefs. To do that will require Americans who’ve spent considerable time on the public dole, if not an entire lifetime, to suddenly grow up and assume adult responsibilities that they’ve here-to-fore shunned as an Amish Bishop shuns a profligate sinner from that society. I just don’t see that happening. The size of the political division between Americans fused to the size of an unpayable debt and mean spirited discourse leads me to believe that things will only get worse and more violent before there is any chance for them to get better. But, trying to stave of the beginning of this new period in American history is certainly well worth the effort. I wish I knew which person will appear on the stage to read the new Emancipation Proclamation that frees taxpayers from the slavery of working one half a year simply to pay taxes for a steadily declining quality of life.

    • Living a principled life is now and has always been a challenge. The only thing that is certain to me is that whether or not an individual’s life has a profound or even a small effect on the rest of society is secondary to the fact that a person who at least makes the attempt to be moral in his dealings with others has lived the best possible life he might.

      It is with that perspective that I would like to address a few of the excellent points you made in your comment.

      I agree with you that a patient who believes that he benefits medically by taking a particular drug is not going to discontinue its use as a way of protesting Big Pharma’s lobbying efforts. But I would hope that person would ask the fundamental question, “If these things are so good for me, then why would this industry need to lobby Washington in order to get them approved? Wouldn’t a “beneficent government” naturally want to ensure its citizens with products that promoted the general well-being?” That’s a question that liberals, who believe in nanny-government and conservatives who oppose should both be asking themselves. And if you, or any other reader can provide a reasonable response, I would love to hear it.

      One of the contributors to our “healthcare crisis” and our debt is the cost of drugs. That is clear whatever your political perspective. The medical industry has conditioned us to a belief in drug-therapy dependency as surely as the educational industry has trained our kids to believe that exceptionalism in the classroom is a violation of the other kids’ civil liberties. Personally, I reject both those concepts.

      If a person evaluates the evidence (and as we both know few will), then he or she needs to ask, what is the most effective way to maintain my health? Is it by making good food choices and following a beneficial regimen of exercise and getting enough rest? Or is it by making poor choices and allowing drugs, with the risks involved in taking them, to attempt to compensate for the avoidable conditions that I have brought upon myself? By making what I believe is the rational choice, the primary objective of better health also accomplishes the secondary condition – depriving big pharma of additional revenue.

      The similar principles apply to a boycott of Hollywood’s output. The primary question is do we want to expose ourselves, our children and grandchildren to gratuitous violence, obscenity and a movie which promotes an alternative morality to the one to which we subscribe? If not, then that is sufficient reason in and of itself not to subsidize our liberal West coast friends. The derivative of depriving them of lobbying revenues follows as a natural consequence of the first. However, broadcasting to them why their revenues are declining – as the result of a concerted individual and collective effort – is, in today’s world of mass media and mass thinking, essential if we are to hope for them to change for the better.

      You are obviously correct in saying that those who have been taught to be dependent on the generosity of society are unlikely to have a mass awakening of conscience or consciousness. They will only see their peril if one day the checks and the subsidies fail to arrive – and it is hard to believe that day, which may well be coming, will not be accompanied with a great deal of violence – more than the civil autorities will be able to handle. That may be the real issue underlying not only “the right to bear arms” but “the need to bear arms.”

      The primary issue in the case of our “entitlements” is the degradation of the individual and advocating an attitude that it is “okay” if we have a permanent underclass. This is little more than the old caste system which existed in India. The secondary issue, stemming from it, is that we have a growing population of non-productive people whose very existence is dependent on the diminishing group of those who work and pay taxes and support them.

      So, to return to my boycott model, what if on April 15th, ten million Americans refused to file their tax returns and explained their reasons for doing so, until the government prepared a serious, workable plan for addressing our financial morass? Now that would be a shot that would be heard both in Washington and around the world – 2nd Amendment or not.

  4. […] Part two to a well written, thoughtful perspective on the state of our nation, its power bases, and what the American people can do is now available on […]

  5. You make many interesting points. I agree that so long as one lives as close to the ideal of a principled life, no matter the outcome in terms of riches, fame, power or position, one has most likely lived a life that in balance would be considered to happy, purposeful and fulfilling. For instance, Admiral Rickover, the father of the modern nuclear navy, could have removed himself from military service and made a significant fortune for himself in the private sector. He certainly didn’t remain in service into his 80s because he was independently wealthy or because the Navy paid him an above market salary.

    He remained out of love of country, his Navy and his ability to work with relative freedom and authority to assure the success of his program of putting nuclear reactors aboard submarines that as a warm up for patrol routinely dive to “test depth” and then to “crush depth” to test the integrity of the vessel – including its reactor. Admiral Rickover knew that one serious accident involving the reactor would put a heavy strain on his program, if it didn’t kill the program completely. He worked around the clock with very little rest to ensure that only the best officers were given positions on board his submarine. He expected verbatim compliance with all rules, regulations, operational policies and maintenance of his nuclear propulsion program and he got it by making a personal commitment to interview every officer slated for command beforehand to ensure competency in nuclear submarine technologies and in leadership. All members of all crews were expected to perform as the level that earned submariners the title of “the elite of the fleet” as a result of getting them to commit to verbatim compliance and acquiring a tested detailed knowledge of all systems on a given class of submarine to which they currently were assigned. Admiral Rickover fought many battles with Congress, with Presidents and within the Navy hierarchy. Some were brutal, but he held firm to his vision and his commitment and generally won the majority of those debates. Admiral Rickover lived the life he chose, a principled life that cost him dearly in other areas of his life, but which, in the end, brought him great happiness, success and admiration by every capable submariner who had the pleasure of serving under his command. I only speak about this to assure people who read this article and comments that it is more than possible to commit oneself to principle as a prerequisite to their pursuit of happiness.

    I agree fully that were people to take more of an interest in striving to become and to remain healthy that the influence of the pharmacy industry as a result of lower demand and lower profits might be diminished. But, no necessarily. As is the case with most industries, government has its filthy paw prints on the pharmaceutical industry and the cost of products in several ways; none of them good. For instance, at a certain point a drug with proprietary protections now removed by government mandate becomes eligible for generic production which devalues the original brand name by competing products that appear to be as effective coming on line at a much lower cost. The drug company that originally developed the agent is now forced to price competitively regardless of impact to its bottom and R&D efforts, or to stop producing the product altogether if it determines that the price has become too low to continue production when newer products cleared by the FDA could be produced by the same resources producing the marginal profit making “competitive” drug. Pharmaceutical companies, just as furniture makers, are in business to make money; not to be viewed as humanitarian non-profits. If you look at this occurrence industry wide happening too often, then it becomes more understandable as to how a nation once flooded in a particular drug can find itself facing a shortage of that same drug – some critical to the needs of patients suffering specific diseases. That is occurring now with many drugs in the United States and it has become apparent to manufacturers that they are thought of as evil for making drugs for profit and they are evil when they stop making drugs that are needed even when cutting production for similar reasons would be understandable in the furniture business and bring out nary a peep in protest because furniture, unlike drugs, have little to do with improving or continuing life. A principled view would be that if it is O.K. for furniture makers to cut back on output and costs to manipulate prices upward, that it is equally O.K. for pharmaceutical companies to do the same. If we can protest a lack of availability of a particular drug, then the pharmaceutical company should be equally allowed to protest a lack of freedom to risk their capital to develop a drug and to then price that drug based on demand and other market forces, such as competitors developing an even better drug over time, without government interference.

    We can only hope that people will wake up and act responsibly if we are to avoid a calamity of violence. However, reality tells me that acting responsibly is a learned skill as opposed to an inherent survival instinct grant to humans at birth. There was a time when Tuberculosis was all but gone in America as a result of a combination of institutionalization of the afflicted until cured combined with new drugs such as isoniazid taken in routine fashion over the course of a year. That progressed to outpatient treatment which meant releasing infected people taking the drug and getting followup evaluations and testing. And what was the result? Many people stopped the treatment too soon and began spreading the disease to the public once again. Only this time, they were distributing it via a superbug that had evolved immunity to the original anti-tuberculosis drug. The same is true with abusing antibiotics and antiviral drugs by not taking them as prescribed for the duration prescribed. Is this new onset of deadly pathogens the fault of pharmaceutical companies? Physicians? How about the patient or the patient’s parents? Where was the breakdown in principled administration and useage? Now, Isoniazid, a highly effective drug is in short supply partly as a result of a bottom line decision, but a decision influenced heavily by government interference in the market place. This government interference is an intrusion into the individual liberty of those whose intellect created the drug and their property right to sell the product at a price that interested people enough to make a purchase in numbers large enough to recoup investment and production costs plus a profit sufficient to cover the risk that will attach itself to the next attempt at a venture that may or may not succeed.

    The wealth of a company is no reason to punish them for success. From my perspective, the more effective way to get companies to end lobbying would be for Congress and the President to write laws forbidding members from providing access to lobbyists and that mandate punishing any member and lobbyist caught benefiting from lobbying efforts. Government has no role in business except to ensure that all markets are accessible to the same extent they are available to any other nation engaged in free trade. The more business is regulated by government [including local, State and the federal governments] the greater the temptation for businesses to lobby for “favors” that serve to corrupt both business and government.

    I like your suggestion of millions withholding paying their taxes until the government agrees to make tax policy simply, direct and transparent. However, I suspect the end result of such a protest would be a few people being indicted on tax evasion and a majority of those voicing support for such a protest having actually filed their taxes out of fear. What is needed is an unambiguous and realistic threat to remove members of the government who fail to work towards limiting the federal government to it primary role as defined by the constitution including rescinding unnecessary amendments that have robbed states of their essential powers and emboldened the federal government to acquire sufficient power as to negate the will of the people. Boycotts may be of some symbolic value, but if they are endangering the interests shared by the media; they will get little coverage and, therefore, be of little true effect.

  6. It might be ironic but the last item I read before seeing your comment was an article in which researchers have made a connection between taking an aspirin a week and the increase of blindness and other related sight issues for the elderly. (The study also concluded that its findings were based on a limited group at this point and that people who were advised to take aspirin by their physicians should continue to do so).

    I agree with your statement about how government interferes with the whole pharmaceutical industry process (as it does with other industries as well). Consider the drug approval process. It takes between 7 – 10 years to have a new drug approved. Which means that we have 7 – 10 years experience to see if it is effective in treating the symptoms of the disease for which it is intended. (I say symptoms because 90% of our pharmaceuticals do nothing to cure the underlying condition). If you doubt that ask you doctor, or better yet your pharmacist.

    So what are the implications for the health effects of that drug on a person who is on a lifetime regimen of taking it – say 20 or 25 years down the line. This is not to fault either big pharma or the FDA – but we simply don’t know. Sometimes those long-term effects can be as deadly as the original condition. If you doubt that, just watch all the ads for trial lawyers who are pandering to us to allow them to sue on our behalf for taking a drug or having had a surgical implant used on us which has been recalled for safety reasons.

    Of course, as you know, most new drugs are based on plants and vegetation which exist naturally and which are then synthesized with chemical additives. There are many holistic alternatives to our medications which are available at a fraction of the cost, many of which are as, if not more effective, and have virtually no side effects. But there is no money in selling these because they can’t be patented.

    I’m sure those in the Board Rooms in Big Pharma and on the panels at the FDA know this – just as those who manufactured asbestos and who sold tobacco with addicting additives knew what their products contained. But as you say, it comes down to personal responsibility and investigation and that is not something most people are willing to undertake – even if it is in their best interests.

    As you well know, I am not an advocate of government intervention in our private lives – unless it is absolutely necessary. By that I mean that the actions of the many impinge negatively on the right to life and liberty of the individual. With that in mind, if we were to impose a twenty-five cent excise tax on each serving of soda containing sugar and those containing sugar-substitutes we would probably do the greatest thing we could to improve the long-term health of the nation and, at the same time, greatly resolve our mounting debt.

    With 800 Million servings per day as our current rate of consumption we would raise $200 Million a day – or $73 Billion per year. Because this was a “voluntary tax” just as paying an excise tax on tobacco products is a voluntary tax, a person would have the right either to pay it and continue using the product or choose to find alternative, more healthful beverages. Should he choose the latter, not only will he benefit but so will society because we should, over time, be able to rein in the explosion of chronic, medically costly illnesses, such as diabetes and coronary disease. Thus not only would we raise revenue but we would reduce the cost of our healthcare, one of the fundamental problems contributing to our burgeoning debt. That sounds like a win-win proposition to me – and probably, for that reason, will never go forward.

    I’m all in favor of simplifying our tax code so that even the Secretary of the Treasury can understand it. However, that was not my thrust for suggesting the potential of a tax “boycott”. A refusal by a million taxpayers to file and to publicize that (and I believe that the liberal media would have no choice but to publicize that) would be of such enormity that even the extensive resources of the Treasury Department could not cope with it. And the estimates of the revenues that they projected receiving (and had probably already spent) would be thrown out the window.

    While it’s optimistic that we will be able to elect true leaders in the future, our history does not suggest that will happen without some cathartic moment both for those in politics and for those who put them there. I can think of nothing more cathartic than the victim who suddenly realizes that he can escape his assailant who is taking small slices out of his flesh with a scalpel, turning to him and saying – “No more”.

    If as you suggest the scenario were to play out with a lot giving lip-service to the idea but actually filing because of personal fear – I would suggest to them your excellent mini-biography of Adm. Rickover.

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