Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

What is a “fair share?”

“We have a system that increasingly taxes work and subsidizes non work.”

~ Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize economist

Was Friedman forecasting today’s reality? In one tax year reported in the Statistical Abstract of the United States, millionaires earned 100 times as much as people earning $30,000, but paid 300 times as much tax. The top 20% of wage earners now pay nearly 70% of all income taxes, leaving 80% of Americans to pay the remaining 30%; 46% pay no income tax at all. Is this a progressive “fair share” income tax or is this a redistributive, punitive income tax? Our politicians are finally nearing their ideal of 49% of the voters paying all taxes and 51% paying none, the perfect re-election guarantee.

The Welfare State

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”

~ George Bernard Shaw

Shouldn’t those advocating the United States continue its ever-expanding welfare state look more closely at what is happening in Europe under the staggering weight of its “cradle to grave” welfare mentality? Though it sounds charitable and caring, is “cradle to grave” welfare possible? How long can you sustain giving people more than they earn? When you pay people to do less, don’t they do less and continually demand more?

Roe v. Wade – Did we get what we wanted?

Recently, parents successfully sued for “wrongful birth” because their child was born with Down syndrome, claiming if it had been accurately diagnosed early in the pregnancy, they would have chosen abortion.

With Roe v. Wade, did well-meaning people start us down an unintended path to a child being worthy of birth only if the parents find him or her desirable? Are we heading toward designer babies, babies who come with guarantees of perfection? Was this the intent of those supporting Roe v. Wade?

Going home

For several months, I have been spending some time working in an emergency department in a suburb of Omaha, Nebraska; a few weeks ago taking a day off and driving 210 miles to the small town where I was born a little over 60 years ago, Holdrege, Nebraska. It was 52 years ago that we moved from Holdrege, and this was my first visit since that move.

Following my brother’s directions, I found the home where I was born and lived in during the first months of my life. I asked the owner if I could see the home and take a few pictures. It was a yellow painted cinder block house of about 500 square feet, little changed from 1950.

Spoiled, dependent, entitled, indentured, enslaved

Are spoiled children born that way? According to British writer Roald Dahl, “Some children are spoiled and it is not their fault, it is their parents.” Spoiled children have parents who give them everything they want instead of teaching them to earn what they want, instead of teaching them responsibility and independence. Quite simply, parents of spoiled children fail to heed the advice of “The Country Parson,” Frank A. Clark, who said, “The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them.”

“Things”

In the movie “Parenthood,” the family’s grandmother offered advice to her son who was distraught; he quit his job and his wife was pregnant. Of life she said, “You know, it was just so interesting to me that the roller coaster could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.” Steve Martin looked at her like she was nuts, but was she trying to tell him something important, something that more than 90 years of life taught her?

Rape-rape?

Whoopi Goldberg said of producer Roman Polanski and his rape conviction of the 13-year-old girl he drugged and sodomized, “It wasn’t rape-rape. It was something else but I don’t believe it was rape-rape.”

Have our values so deteriorated that we no longer recognize rape? Polanski is a free man, living in Europe where the cultures are more enlightened, progressive, understanding and tolerant than ours, the very words used by our progressives when they demand we accept each new debased definition of right and wrong.

Subject or citizen?

“Oh posterity, you will never know how much it cost us to preserve your freedom. I hope that you will make a good use of it.”
– John Adams, second U.S. president

Gratitude is a burden

“Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.”

Tacitus, 56 AD – 120 AD, Roman historian

Does this sound a bit too much like today, suggesting we may have progressed little this past 2,000 years? Is gratitude still a burden? Is revenge still a pleasure? Is complimenting difficult? Is complaining easy?

Think of the signs in stores pointing to the customer service department, the successor to the original complaint department. Have you ever seen a sign for a compliment department? I haven’t, and even if they existed I doubt people would stand in line waiting to offer a compliment.

Racism or common sense?

Reading about Arizona’s new law dealing with illegal aliens, I got the impression that Arizona had done something radical by requiring non-citizens to carry documents proving their legal status in our country. Not so. The new Arizona law only enforces existing federal law, the Alien Registration Act passed by Congress in 1940. Arizona is only enforcing federal law the federal government refuses to enforce. This is an act of necessity, of common sense and is Arizona’s latest attempt to deal with 450,000 criminals in the state. Remember, illegal aliens are criminals, not undocumented immigrants.

Michael, Tiger and Ed

Do you recognize these men? I suspect you know two of them. Michael is Michael Jackson, his death garnering more media attention than President Reagan’s funeral. Tiger is Tiger Woods, his philandering capturing near continuous media attention with each new girlfriend revealed.

But who is Ed? We know every detail about Michael, the little boys, the drugs, everything. We know every detail about Tiger, even which golf club damaged his car and the name of every woman he “encountered.”

But who is Ed? Do we know anything about Ed? Do we care? Should we care? How does the media decide who is newsworthy? To whom do the media answer?

Elite universities – principled?

Some of our nation’s elite universities, including Harvard, Columbia, Brown, Yale, Dartmouth, Stanford, Cornell, Princeton and Penn, produce many of our nation’s leaders. But, do they model the values we want in our leaders, the principles we aspire to as a country? Are they the principled guardians of the academic freedom and independent thought they claim to be? Do they really represent the best of America?

Many of these defenders of academic freedom ban ROTC and military recruiters from their campuses, even though they once educated large numbers of military officers. In past decades, Yale actually produced more Navy officers than the Naval Academy.

It’s our choice

“The real problem is in the hearts and minds of men. It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil spirit of man.” Albert Einstein

Larry Echohawk, the assistant secretary for Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of Interior, recently commented on the mistreatment of the “first Americans” by the United States government. Mr. Echohawk described “very dark chapters” of United States history, including “government atrocities against the Indian people.”

Because of the strong emotions that accompany such statements, exploring these remarks could lead us through a bed of hot coals. But, it’s worth the risk because this topic deserves more discussion.

It’s our Constitution

Contrary to the wishes of Congress, the Supreme Court and the lower courts, “we the people” in our capacity as jurors and state legislators have the power to nullify laws we find unconstitutional.

Did the founding fathers opine on this power? In 1790, James Wilson, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and one of the original six Supreme Court justices said, “Suppose . . . a difference of sentiment takes place between the judges and the jury with regard to a point of law . . . . What must the jury do? The jury must do their duty . . . . They must decide the law as well as the fact.”

Supreme Court – Constitutional guardian or Guardian Council?

Does the  Supreme Court submit to the authority of the United States Constitution, as it should?  Or, is it complicit with Congress, functioning beyond its constitutional powers?

In 1803, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Marshall, trying to preserve the checks and balances in the Constitution said, “To what purpose are powers limited, and to what purpose is that limitation committed to writing, if these limits may, at any time, be passed by those intended to be restrained.”  He was addressing Congress, explaining that Congress could not decide if a law it passed was constitutional, that checking power reserved for the Supreme Court.

The Consitution v. the federal government

The Declaration of Independence states, “. . . these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States.”  This sentiment was reaffirmed in 1781 in the Articles of Confederation which states, “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States . . . .”  

Six years later during the 1787 Constitutional Convention, delegate Luther Martin affirmed states’ rights saying, “At the separation from the British Empire, the people of America preferred the establishment of themselves into thirteen separate sovereignties, instead of incorporating themselves into one.”  

The Bill of Prvileges

The Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution, was ratified by three-fourths of the states in 1791. The Constitution was ratified four years earlier in 1787.

Our Bill of Rights came into existence amid debate and deliberation. Many anti-federalists who supported it previously opposed ratification of the Constitution because that document did not provide many of the individual protections that would be guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.

But the federalists, voiced by Alexander Hamilton, considered the Bill of Rights unnecessary, believing “the people surrender nothing” in the Constitution, and offering protections of specific rights would imply that any unmentioned rights were not protected.

“Humans are more important than hardware”

On Christmas day, a Nigerian man boarded Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit with a bomb he planned to detonate over the United States, his success prevented more by luck than skill.

The President responded saying there were “human and system failures” and the United States will do “whatever it takes” to defeat the terrorists, a few days ago adding that we need more body scanners in airports.

Could the President be focusing on the wrong solution to the right problem?  Is he correct assuming we need more scanners, more technology and more congressional appropriations?  We react to each new threat with purchases of ever-more expensive technology, determined if we spend enough money and buy enough equipment we can find anything. 

Politically correct bad science

The accuracy of environmental science research is critical because decrees by the United States impact the world, along with the consequences of that science.  So, shouldn’t we question environmental science?  And, if that science is solid, shouldn’t questioning be welcomed, rather than feared?

One of the problems with  environmental science is that it can become politically influenced; leading the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and international organizations to conclusions  and rulings with too little questioning.

Moreover, the likelihood of reversing an erroneous EPA ruling is slim because hell can no longer freeze over now that global warming is “fact.”

What is public and what is private?

Does the public have a right to know everything?  Does freedom of the press have any limits?  Is anything private?  Is everything fair game?  How might Tiger Woods answer these questions?   “Yes, no, no, yes.”  Moreover, these questions have little to do with any claimed right to privacy, and all to do with the Constitution. 

As it turns out, most anything the media reports is constitutionally protected by “freedom of speech” and “freedom of the press.”  You would assume this scrutiny is reserved for a public figure, whatever that is.  But public figure is a legal term used when suing for defamation of character.  Moreover, if the court decides you are a “public figure,” proving defamation is not enough, you must also prove the media acted with “reckless disregard for the truth,” acted with malice.

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