Thursday, August 25, 2011

Legalized Plunder

The USA was founded on the principle that government would guarantee individual freedom, thereby ensuring life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

In 1776, the word “liberal” meant an advocate of individual rights -- those who followed this principle were known as liberals.

After the Civil War, the central government became an instrument of special interests by creating a mercantile system that suppressed free markets and created monopolies. Those who had once called themselves liberals now called themselves conservatives because they opposed this change.

Eventually, the mercantile system became abusive thereby creating a movement toward socialism in an attempt to redistribute income. Those leading this movement were referred to as liberals because they were not bound by the orthodoxy of the time.

Since then our federal government has become an ever-growing apparatus where politicians exchange political favors for votes.

It’s basically a form of legalized plunder where one group of voters plunders the earnings of another group in order to benefit themselves.

This is the primary flaw of a two-party democracy.

The Democrats use government as a social tool. They tend to lean toward a collectivist viewpoint where the good of the society is more important than the rights of the individual. It's an insidious attempt to redistribute wealth by force by plundering those who succeed and rewarding those who don't, far beyond a reasonable safety net for those truly in need. Unfortunately, government generally creates more problems than solutions, stifles innovation and incentive, adds layers of suffocating bureaucracy and is almost never cost-effective.

The Republicans use government as a tool to maximize productivity. They tend to lean toward a materialistic viewpoint where the growth of the economy is of primary importance and being a global power ensures our dominance over other nations. Their creation of a massive military-industrial complex, whereby the USA spends more money on military strength than all other countries in the world combined, has turned us into unpopular interventionist global elitists and an intrusive domestic police state.

Both of these political forces require massive amounts of public funding to achieve their goals, whereby each side "compromises" with the other side thereby allowing both costly objectives to be met, creating an unmanageable federal government of colossal size with no end in sight.

A "closed" two-party political system, which has made it nearly impossible for a third party to compete, guarantees that one political party will always be the majority.

And any political party in the majority can run amok with impunity.

Since there is only one other party to keep the majority party in check, a single minority party that may someday once again be in the majority, the minority party can also run amok by mutual consent. The majority party extends government favors to its constituents and, in turn, allows the minority party to do the same, within negotiated limits, to its group of supporters.

Basically, the two parties conspire to confiscate and spend vast sums of public earnings for dual purposes. In a two-party system, there is no one to keep them in check.

Contrary to common sense, two political parties rule over a populace with more than two points of view.

Just prior to the American Revolution, one-third of the people wanted to go to war with the British, one-third wanted to remain under British rule and one-third didn’t give a hoot because they knew they would be abused no matter who governed them.

The same three-way spilt was true for the Civil War.

We have a similar three-way split today. One-third of the population tends to support Democrats, one-third supports Republicans, and one-third prefers a leaner unobtrusive government, which is exactly what the so-called Tea Party movement is all about.

Without a political base, those who oppose the two parties in power must vote for the lesser of two evils, or stay at home and bang their heads against the wall.

A two-party system has brought this country to the verge of financial self-destruction. Taxes are far too excessive, the national debt is obscene, freedom is being eroded and our quality of life seems to be deteriorating.

Voting for the lesser of two evils ensures an evil outcome -- more of the same. We desperately need a strong third political party that will keep a lid on federal spending.

On the positive side, banging your head against the wall burns 150 calories per hour.

Quote for the Day -- "The worst government is often the most moral. One comprised of cynics is often very tolerable and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression." H. L. Mencken

Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where head-banging is a competitive sport.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Advice to Young Male Dimwits

A recent article in a local Sunday newspaper asked several teen-agers what they would include if there was such a thing as a “Teen Bill of Rights” -- confirming my suspicions that most young people are about as clueless as a bag of horse feathers about the real world.

The girls in the survey all came up with clever thoughts, while most of the boys gave cutesy-pie answers, no doubt meant to amuse one and all, revealing their underlying fear and loathing about having to someday confront the dire reality of adulthood.

As a semi-responsible adult (except during full moons), I felt obligated to share my vast wisdom with these young male dimwits.

ANSWER from a 17 year-old male from Maryland – “No cruel and unusual punishment, such as cleaning up what the pet left behind or throwing out the garbage.”

ADVICE TO LAZY BONES -- If you can’t take care of a pet, you don’t deserve a pet. If you need a pet to get through life, I suggest a pet rock. And if you think throwing out the garbage is a big deal, just shove it under your bed or stick it in your closet. Most of it will rot and disappear over time, much like your first three marriages.

ANSWER from a 19 year-old male from Texas – “The right to start over. When people mess up, they are judged by that forever. Everyone deserves the chance to start again.”

ADVICE TO SCREWBALL -- You’re obviously a walking disaster. You have two choices in life. You can either move to another state every time you mess up, probably often, or remain where you are and live with a reputation as being a local screwball. The good news is that there are 50 states (unless you took the same Geography course as President Obama, in which case there are 57 states). Once you’ve been chased out of all of them you should consider living on a raft somewhere near Greenland. If you choose to stick it out in one place, you may automatically get a fresh start anyway by becoming an eccentric. Of course, you’ll need to grow a long beard, avoid bathing and talk mostly to yourself to achieve this status. By the way, very few people care if you mess up, unless you mess up on them. None of us are perfect, so don’t expect others (including yourself) to be perfect either.

ANSWER from 20 year-old male from Texas – “The right to have something to eat and something to wear, and have a helping hand when we need one.”

ADVICE TO HELPLESS -- Having a right to everything you desire will cost you everything you have. It’s called socialism, an insidious idea that enslaves everyone involved, especially people who think the world owes them something simply because they exist. If you believe others owe you, they’ll end up owning you. If you believe you are entitled to the earnings of others, you are a pathetic greedy thief. I suggest you figure out a way to survive, such as getting a job or starting a business, instead of hoping to attach yourself to the gains of others.

ANSWER from the same 20 year-old male from Texas – “The freedom of not worrying.”

ADVICE #2 TO HELPLESS -- You are a carbon-base form of random life residing on a large spinning orb rotating around a small sun in a far corner of an average galaxy. The decision to worry is up to you. To expect government to grant such a freedom is a form of insanity. Clearly you need someone else, like a wife or a cat, to do your thinking for you.

ANSWER from an 18 year-old male from California – “The right to have fun.”

ADVICE TO PARTY ANIMAL -- I suspect your version of having fun means lots of mindless juvenile activity accompanied by excessively loud music. Have all the fun you want as long as you don’t spoil life for others, such as neighbors. Fun for you may not be fun for those who are forced to endure your inconsiderate antics.

ANSWER from an 18 year-old male from Louisiana – “The right not to pay taxes until we’re old enough to vote.”

ADVICE TO PUZZLED TAXPAYER -- Congratulations. You’ve noticed that our national government is exceedingly costly and grossly unfair. On the positive side, it’s also very inefficient thereby taking forever to get things done. You have four alternatives. You can accept things as they are, or try to change things for the better, or ignore things and hope they go away, or remain frustrated the rest of your life. I’ve tried all four and none of them seem to work for me.

Quote for the Day -- "Maturity is to be able to stick with a job until it is finished, to be able to bear an injustice without having to get even, to be able to carry money without spending it, to do your duty without being supervised." Ann Landers

Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and the ghost of Abigail Van Buren.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Angry at the World

Someone recently asked me if I was angry at the world. I may be continually at odds with the world but anger is an ugly emotion I choose to avoid.

If an apple fell out of a tree and hit me on the head I wouldn’t allow it to anger me. I have no control over the falling of an apple. The best I can do is to try not to be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The same is true of any harm or injustice inflicted upon me by the rest of the world. I have no control over the forces of nature or the actions of humanity. The only thing I have control over is myself.

This is a harsh planet containing predatory animals, poisonous reptiles, voracious insects, lethal viruses, severe climates, lightning, volcanoes, earthquakes, psychopaths, perverts, serial killers and various misguided human beings who are driven to control, plunder and otherwise make life miserable for everyone else.

Those who seek to control others insist on a rigid set of rules to satisfy their individual sense of right and wrong. They require conformity on everything from what you can drink or smoke or shoot up your arm, to the height of the grass in your front lawn. And if you refuse to conform you must be punished. These are the people most active in government, continually creating more and more rules for the rest of us to obey. Invariably, they exceed the bounds of common sense and decency. One person’s set of rules is another person’s imprisonment.

Some of these control freaks carry their cause way too far. They believe their way is the only way and are willing to exterminate anyone who doesn’t feel the same way, even if they must perish in the process. These zealots will shoot people at random or blow up buses or fly airplanes into tall office buildings in order to make the world a better place. However, making the world a better place by making the world a worse place isn’t exactly a positive course of action. One person’s philosophy is another person’s nightmare.

The world is also occupied by selfish greed-heads who never seem to have enough material wealth and plunder from others in order to maintain a lifestyle they have neither earned nor deserved. They come in all shapes and sizes, from unethical corporate executives to money market manipulators to purse snatchers. They take from others by whatever means necessary with no regard for the welfare of others. One person’s illicit gain is another person’s loss.

Then there are those inconsiderate nitwits who thoughtlessly plow through life as if no one else exists. They come in all shapes and sizes, from housewives to hooligans. They drive carelessly or tear around in their ATVs and Jet Skis or toss their cigarette butts anywhere they please or make too much noise with their loud music or destroy things for kicks or whatever. One person’s recklessness is another person’s bane of existence.

If life were perfect, it would be called heaven -- instead we call it earth.

The world is a perilous place, full of self-centered people, disturbing the tranquility and/or imposing their will upon others. Being angry at inconsiderate or evil jerks only adds to the turmoil.

Most people deal incorrectly with anger. Some people try to get even by striking back, but correcting a wrong with a wrong is simply another wrong.

Others believe the anger should be released through harmless outlets such as sports or primal screams or beating a pillow. However, venting anger in a harmless direction is still indulging in anger.

The proper way to deal with anger is not to get angry in the first place.

If some jerk disrupts your life, don’t get angry -- when you become angry, the jerk wins.

The jerk wants you to be angry and bring you down to his level to justify his existence. He gets a thrill out of making you react, thereby controlling you. If you rise above it and remain noble, you’ve won.

If an apple falls on your head, don’t get angry -- you’re in control, not the apple.

It’s easy to be at odds with an imperfect world but being angry at the world is an exercise in futility, making it that much more imperfect.

You can’t change the world -- you can only change yourself.

Forgive the apple and move on.

Quote for the Day -- "Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured." Mark Twain

Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and the ghost of Jasper Lamar Crabb.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Global Pie

What would be your fair share of the global pie if everything was divided equally among everyone on this planet?

If all the land on Planet Earth was divided into equal parcels, each person would have slightly less than five acres.

This would include many uninhabitable areas, such as Antarctica, Greenland, high mountain peaks, swampy lowlands, areas preserved for wildlife, recreational parks, hostile deserts, water systems (lakes, rivers), military bases and other restricted areas, further reducing reasonable inhabitable land masses to approximately three acres per person.

And if you add the amount of land required to grow food crops and raise livestock for the ever-increasing population, it's down to about two acres available per person.

As the world population continues to increase year after year, less land is available for each person. There is only so much land on this planet and they aren’t making any more.

A more startling statistic is how much money each of us would have if divided equally.

If all of the currency in circulation in the world was converted to US dollars and divided equally among everyone on the planet, we would each have approximately $450, give or take a few dollars depending on fluctuating factors.

Currency in circulation means all the money you have in your wallet or purse or cookie jar, plus all the cash businesses, including banks, have on hand. Basically, all the paper money and coins that have been printed or minted in all the countries in the world and are in public circulation, even if it’s sitting in a vault in a bank somewhere.

This does not include accumulated wealth, such as stocks, bonds, real estate holdings, net worth and so on. This is not currency; it's a paper trail. Most banks only have enough cash on hand to cover a small percentage of customer deposits.

So if you own a couple of acres and have $450 in your pocket or cookie jar, you have acquired your share of the global pie.

If you’re content with what you have, I salute you. Peace of mind is far more important than land or money.

And if you have more than your fair share, so much the better. Through effort or good fortune, you’ve exceeded the norm.

But if you’re dissatisfied unless you have more than your fair share, I pity you. More for you means less for others.

We live on a planet of credit and consumption, where more is better and endless growth is encouraged.

We work far too many hours to acquire far too many things, and governments bleed us dry while keeping the insidious cycle of excessive taxation and expansion of power (more government, less individual freedom) going full throttle, even if it means continually borrowing more and more against the future thereby creating enormous public debt to be passed onto future generations.

There’s a difference between having as much as you want and having as much as you need.

If you want more than your fair share, you suffer from envy.

If you need more than your fair share, you suffer from greed.

If you believe you are entitled to the earnings of others, you are a thief.

Your fair share of the global pie isn't so far out of reach -- if you lust for more than your fair share, you have an inflated sense of self-importance.

The best things in life aren't things. Happiness is about being content with what you have, not with what you seek to have.

Like it or not, we're all in this together. Life is not about winning or losing, or accumulating more than others -- success only occurs when everyone succeeds.

Quote for the Day – "He who knows enough is enough will always have enough." Lao Tzu

Bret Burquest is the author of 7 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and ORB OF WOUNDED SOULS (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and has his fair share of the global pie (barely).