Birth Order

Does it make a difference if someone is the oldest or youngest in their family?  Sure, I’ll buy that.  Does it make a significant difference?  That’s where the debate comes in.  Much is said about the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution.  It’s often said that it is the first amendment because it’s the most important freedom.  If that reasoning is true, then that same reasoning would have guided the framers of the Constitution throughout the document.

Article 1 lays out the framework for the Legislative Branch.  Hmm, that seems significant.  Article 2 addresses the Executive Branch.  Hmm, that seems significant, too.  Apparently, the Founding Fathers viewed the Legislative Branch as being more important that the Executive Branch.  I wonder why that might be?  What does an executive do?  He executes.  What does he execute?  The laws passed by the legislature.

Before the ink was dry on the US Constitution the three branches were vying for power.  The Founding Fathers understood human nature, and certainly anticipated that, so they built in checks and balances to hopefully minimize the concentration of power by one branch.  Unfortunately, the Legislative Branch has yielded more and more authority to the Executive Branch over the decades.  Also, tragically, the States yielded their authority and voice within the federal government when the 17th amendment passed.

The vision and blueprint that the Founding Fathers gave us was that the people, through the House, and the several States, through the Senate, would pass legislation that the Executive Branch, headed by the President, would carry out.  The office of the President was designed to be the servant of the Congress, and thus the servant of the people, not the master.

During this crisis, much of it self-imposed and imaginary, where has the Legislative Branch been?  Basically, on vacation, leaving the Executive Branch to deal with the mess.  Hopefully, this crisis will have repercussions at the voting booth in November, and voters will remember those who ran away from their responsibilities and vote them out.  Also, let’s hope that those who chose authoritarian measures and suppression of our rights will be ushered out.

Covid-19 and the Electoral College

So, Governor Cuomo of New York is seizing medical equipment from upstate and relocating it to NYC.  That disturbing action raises several red flags.  I’m not optimistic that our dumbed down society can grasp the messages that it sends.

Let’s focus on the thuggish behavior of the Governor.  His priority is to rescue the urban center at the expense of all others.  Commandeering equipment from the rural counties, that possibly planned better and were prepared, Cuomo demonstrated that he is more interested in the area of the state with the most reliable voters.

That, in a nutshell, makes the case for the electoral college.  Ramp up Cuomo’s actions on a nationwide scale.  Imagine all the medical equipment disappearing from Iowa, Delaware, Maine, the Dakotas, Utah, and other sparsely populated states to be used in NYC, LA, Chicago, Miami, and Washington DC.

Cuomo’s self-serving actions are exactly the type of behavior our Founding Fathers were trying to guard against when they set up the electoral college.  Sacrificing the welfare of the less populated areas of the country and ignoring the plight of those with a smaller voice are the predictable tactics of tyrants.  Cuomo is the prime example right now of what they knew would be the result of a national popular vote.

Sacrifices

We’ve willingly sacrificed unknown future prosperity to save lives now.  Businesses have been shut down, both voluntarily and involuntarily, and many will not reopen once we begin to venture out from our homes and attempt to reboot the economy and a semblance of normal living.  For the most part, people have willingly–although somewhat grudgingly–accepted this extreme reaction for the good of society as a whole.

What we’ve unveiled is the willingness of Americans to sacrifice today for our children’s future tomorrow.  Whether it’s constitutional or not, and whether we agree with it or not, the government did take the lead in demanding these sacrifices.  We’re all hoping that we weren’t too late.

It’s late, hopefully not too late, but we must sacrifice to deal with the national debt.  By far the largest expenditures are entitlement payments.  We’ve sacrificed producers in our economy while trying to combat this virus.  It’s time to sacrifice consumers while trying to combat the debt.  It will take some brave politician to step up, take the lead, and point out the obvious economic truth of what lies ahead.

We have shown that we are capable of great sacrifice in the face of an unknown threat.  Continuing to add to the national debt doesn’t just threaten us;  it will ruin us.  The sacrifice to avoid that is simply that our governments live within their means.  Balancing federal, state, and local governments would disrupt the economy less than what we’ve done to it in the past two weeks.

It’s time to stop sacrificing our children’s future for our comfort today and to begin sacrificing now for our children’s future.

The Nagging Question Going Forward

The 2009 pandemic known as the Swine Flu resulted in 12,469 deaths and 274,000 hospitalizations stemming from 60.8 million cases in the United States alone, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).  We don’t know the final tally for the current pandemic.  Much has been written already comparing and contrasting the reactions by President Obama and President Trump to the threats of each pandemic.

This is not going to address that.  Hindsight is often (not always) 20/20, and there are too many “what ifs” when dealing with complex situations such as these to confidently state what should have been done or what was the correct course of action.  We are still in the middle of the fight against the Coronavirus (Covid-19), making analysis even more questionable, especially by amateur internet sleuths.

The nagging question going forward is this:  How are we supposed to react to the next potential threat?  Not just pandemics, but any and all threats.  What are the criteria for determining whether to wait and see or to act quickly?  When comparing numbers to previous pandemics, this one is far less destructive thus far.  How will it compare in the final analysis?  Well, we have to wait until those numbers can be tallied.

There are other threats that we face daily.  Death is part of life, and we accept that reality, generally without panic.  Obesity, sedentary lifestyles, poor diets, and smoking all contribute to avoidable deaths every year, yet we don’t shut down the economy, quarantine the general public, and suspend the 1st amendment right to free assembly and religion in order to save lives.

We have done that in reaction (I’ll go ahead and say overreaction) to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) threat.  Back to the nagging question:  what is the threshold for shutting down businesses and shackling our great grandchildren’s generation with additional debt?  How many lives are required to be at risk before we close restaurant dining rooms?  How many additional lives justify closing barbershops?  Those aren’t rhetorical or snarky questions.  What are the criteria to justify those actions?

Granted, we are in unchartered territory here in 2020.  But the unchartered area isn’t the threat; it’s the reaction.  Pandemics, natural disasters, wars, and the inevitability of our mortality are all familiar and universal not just to us, but throughout.  We’ve faced them and survived, even thrived.  Shoot, we even survived that time when God got mad and flooded the place.

We have never reacted to a threat in this manner.  We may never know whether or not it was effective.  We didn’t react this way in 2009, when we lost 12,469 of our friends and family, but we made it through.  We can’t ward off all evil or every threat.  As cold and impersonal as it sounds, we have to make decisions as to what are acceptable and unacceptable losses and investments to combat threats.  Like it or not, we do that already in countless areas of society.

There are limits to what we can do to eliminate the risk of living.  Let’s take school bus accidents for an example.  We could ban all traffic on the roads during the time school buses are running in order to minimize the risk that someone will collide with a bus and injure a child.  We don’t do that, even “if we saved one life, it would be worth it.”  As a society we’ve come to the conclusion that such a drastic measure is not worth it, even to save one life.

We still have to wait to see if life returns to normal after this panic.  Will we restore our right to free assembly and religion?  Will we allow the government to arbitrarily determine what industries and businesses are essential and allowed to engage in commerce or will we demand that markets be set free?  Will we allow the government to do this again?  What are the criteria to repeat this?

Largely ignoring the problem worked out in 2009.  Maybe it would have in 2020?  We’ll never know.  What about next time?  What will the government demand and what will be our response?  That is indeed a nagging question.

Power

Democrats appear to be panicked over the likely scenario of Bernie Sanders winning the nomination.  Why the panic?  It’s not the question of ideology, it’s the question of power.

Despite their distaste of Bernie as the nominee, Democrats are saying that they’ll rally behind the nominee, regardless of who it is.  Think about that.  They will willingly trade principles for power.

Rather than express horror that their nominee may very well be an advocate for communism and a cheerleader for the ideology that claimed over 100,000,000 lives in the last century, they will support him because maybe they can share the power if he happens to get elected.

They will happily vote for an insane communist rather than for the ideals that have shaped and enriched our nation.

We have Never Trumpers, but where are the Never Bernies?

Actors vs. Actions

We have created a world (or more truthfully, we have destroyed our civilization to the point) where actions no longer matter.  The actor is everything.  Left and right seem incapable of critiquing behavior without knowing the identity of the individual who acted.

Closely related is the “what about so-and-so?” defense.  Forget about the morality or appropriateness of what your guy did.  The other side’s guy did the same thing, so your guy gets a pass.

Eventually, we will get to the fringes of civility, where we will be forced to agree that there are some things that are beyond the pale.  As awful as some behavior has already become, it’s staggering to consider just how blatantly evil actions will have to be before we can agree on what is unacceptable.

Will we test the limits of human depravity before we come to our senses?  I hope not.  The 20th century offers plenty of examples of how fragile life is.  Wars, diseases, and despots all wreaked havoc on humanity.  If we can channel our ambitions toward helping each other rather than dominating each other, there may be hope.

 

Conservatism

The word conservative should prompt the question:  what are you trying to conserve?  In short, conservatives want to conserve what works.  One of the myths about conservatives is that they don’t want to change anything.  That’s completely wrong.  Take a conservative business owner and show him some cutting edge piece of equipment that will increase his productivity and lower his costs.  He’ll order one and throw away the equipment he’s been using.

It’s really that simple.

We all are conservative in that we keep doing what works in life.  Sure, we may tinker with details, but we generally don’t discard everything before we’ve found a time-tested replacement.  Look at professional athletes.  They do the same thing over and over and over.  What same thing?  The thing that works.  Sure, they make minor adjustments, but you don’t see a hockey goalie, for instance, decide he’s going to meet the attacking players at the blue line instead of staying in goal.  Minor adjustments to time-tested strategies.

That people find the concept of conservatism repulsive demonstrates how clueless they are about math, history, economics, science, and pretty much life in general.  They don’t see the level of conservatism in their own lives.  Do they drive to work the same way everyday, or do they experiment wildly everyday?  I’m guessing they’ve settled on a route that consistently gets them to the office on time.  Will they experiment with minor detours along the way?  Perhaps, but the emphasis is on “minor.”

We don’t need to reinvent the wheel or to discover fire every generation.