What Do Women Do?

I was reading a post by Peggy Noonan (http://online.wsj.com/articles/peggy-noonan-the-nihilist-in-the-white-house-1416533660) wherein she infers that men are defined by what they do.  She says about the Keystone Pipeline:

“If it is done right, the people who build the pipeline could be pressed to take on young men—skill-less, aimless—and get them learning, as part of a crew, how things are built and what it is to be a man who builds them.”

It occurred to me when reading this that if we can generate a large construction project sufficient to generate the thought that building is what men do, what is it that we can point to in order to question what women do?

We all heard no shortage of rhetoric concerning the “war on women” addressed to both sides of the political spectrum.  We also see all stripes of feminists.  Its as if these differences and vague notions of constant discrimination against women has resulted in a confused notion of what a woman does, who a woman is.

I don’t know the answer to that.  It used to be that a woman was the caretaker of the home, and was once accepted and praised.  That was rejected long ago.  I certainly do not think anyone should be pigeon-holed into a lifestyle and vocation.  Everyone should be able to do what they wish to do (within reason, of course) as to a career.  However, one wonders if the fairer sex is not sure who it is anymore, and until it figures it out, groups will continue to use various definitions of a woman to divide and conquer.

Excitement and Big Ideas

It is occuring to me that our nation has become infatuated with with “big-ness” in a way I had never before considered.  Not only are whopping portions of food, gigantic houses, huge cars, and drinks you can swim in a part of America, but so are big ideas.

I heard the refrain a few times last night from Democratic leaders about how there was nothing big in Romney’s speech– as if a big idea is necessary for it to be a good idea.

A few members of the public were interviewed on CNN that said they found Romney’s speech OK, but that there was nothing in it to wow them, as if being wowed is a requirement from a politician.

I have to wonder if simple common sense is being completely replaced by a need to be impressed.  I have to wonder if people are more excited about the size of an idea than its utility.  I also have to be scared by this development.  A society that is more moved by glitz, glamour, and size is not one that will last long.  Soon, like lemmings, people will follow its leaders, who offer these grandiose promises and claims, will run themselves off a cliff.

Frankly, I am not the most ardent Romney fan out there, but I do think his simple ideas are what we need.  A promise to simply help is enough– we don’t need to worry about big things.  We need to look at home and change there.  Washington can only help so much, and real change happens at home.

That is not a big idea– its really rather plain, simple, and boring.  But its importance cannot be understated.

What is going on?

I sometimes post at Media Matters.  Why? Because it is interesting to see what the left is thinking and how they defend themselves.  I often get accused of being a flat out troll, of lying, of being brainwashed by Faux News, etc.  If I only I actually were a paid troll…  It could make my efforts there more than the waste of time they sometimes seem to be (probably are). To those that know me, I am the same there that I am anywhere.  I try to be respectful and honest.

I was there today, and we got to talking about Obama’s comments, “You didn’t build that.”  The thread is found here:  http://mediamatters.org/blog/2012/08/23/who-built-that/189528, and it was one of the most illuminating discussions I have had online.

I had brought up the distinction between freedom and independence, framed more as an idea differentiating comfort and freedom.  I was advocating that comfort and freedom are different concepts, and if we substitute freedom with comfort, the nation is in trouble.

I got this response: “And as to your statement about comfort, comfort is always better than discomfort. You can’t say freedom is better than comfort because it’s not a choice between one or the other. You can be free AND comfortable.”

It occurred to me in this statement that people who are more concerned with comfort than they are freedom really exist.  “Comfort is always better than discomfort.”  Well, yeah, but comfort and freedom are different things.  And I can say that freedom is better than comfort.  Sure, they can exist separately or together, but when the focus is on comfort, not freedom, our freedom is at risk.

After a lot of time on that issue, the poster, who I believe goes under the name “Solon” never got the distinction between freedom and comfort, and never saw a danger in focusing on comfort.  Others even stated that they prefer comfort and want the government to make their lives more comfortable.

The discussion even went into the Declaration of Independence.  I posted this quote from the Declaration: “…accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer,
while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to
which they are accustomed.”

I posted that to demonstrate that the Founders recognized that people are willing to put up with some crap before taking action, but that action is necessary.  The response:

“Your quote from the Declaration of Independence omits the important words preceding it:

“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;

The authors of the Declaration did not say that people are simply willing to put up with sufferable evils, but that they SHOULD put up with them, while they can, rather than abolish a long established Government” (italics in original post).

So, not only was I told that comfort is more important than freedom (or at least equal to), but that we as people should put up crap from the government.  The idea that we are willing to put up with some things is very different than that we should put up with them.  The difference gets to the heart of the extent of government we should allow.

I also learned that freedom can be created, rather than granted.  This particular discussion came up when I suggested that freedom always exists.  I was told I was wrong, because freedom is created.  Created?  By who?  And if it can be created, what’s the problem if people don’t have it?  I think it is a greater sin to deny someone a freedom than it is to say they didn’t have it to begin with (the reason is that if someone does not have a right that does not exist, they are deprived of nothing– since it does not exist.  But if they are denied something that does exist, they are indeed quite wronged.)  And another problem with the notion that freedom can be created is that it assumes that it is the governments role to create freedom.  In other words, the government is greater than freedom.

I probably spent far too much time there today, but as I said it was quite enlightening, and disheartening.  I strongly feel that freedom is greater than anything else we have.  I would rather be free than to be comfortable and dependent.  I think it is our duty as people to fight against any government abuse, and recognize when it is time to move for a change in government.  I also think that freedom always has existed, and it always will.  It certainly is not a concept that is granted by governments.

But that there are people who honestly believe that the government is seemingly the greatest power that exists in this nation lends credence to my fears about the future of it.  Our freedom cannot survive such a transformation.  We were born out of the idea that certain truths simply exist, and exist apart from any government or man.  When that idea fades, the nation must follow it.

I, personally, don’t want to go there.

Why Are We So Fascinated with Politics?

Its interesting to me how much we put into politics.  I know, I am just as guilty as anyone else, but it really seems we often go off the deep end when it comes to the subject.  This is not new, and it will go on long after we are here.

But why?  Why do we spend so much time on  topics that may or may not immediately affect us.  I believe it is largely due to the correct idea that the underlying positions a nation takes will affect us all, and when those assumptions threaten to change or to harm us, we feel we need to intervene.  It is human nature.

However, I often wonder if we simply go overboard with our reactions to every little detail.  We hyperactively scrutinize everything, and for what purpose?  What do we accomplish?  I am not sure the results are always positive– the other side is usually emboldened and digs in their heels, or they come out swinging the next time.  It becomes a tit-for-tat endeavor, and division grows.

Of course it is important to stand up for what is right, but isn’t it also important to know when to be quiet?

“The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool. When words are many, transgression is   not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth. The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.” (Proverbs 10:18-21, ESV).

But then again, Proverbs tells us to speak up for those who are destitute.  A voice is clearly needed in politics, but that voice must always be careful.  I fear that far too many are quite loose in what they say.  Wisdom is better served by ensuring our voice is strong, carefully considered, brief, and fair, yet all too often people speak far too much and with little regard for anyone else.  It is not isolated to one particular party, either.

What solution do I propose?  To all who may read this, I simply propose for us to slow down.  Be deliberate in your voice.  Understand that insults help little.  Know that there is always another side: whether that other side is right, or wrong, people believe it is right.  Be prepared to offer why they are wrong, and do so without judgment.

It will be a struggle to alter the tone, but I believe it can be done.  It is certainly worth trying.  It may take time, and a lot of heartache along the way– because it is almost certain the other side will not give in and will continue spouting their mouths.  However, with the appropriate strength and wisdom, I believe people will begin to see them as fools.

What is a Conservative?

What is a conservative? 

I have struggled with defining this question for a long, long time.  Several times I have begun to write a message on it, but have stopped, finding my definition to be lacking.  Even this one may not be perfect, but this is my attempt to define what exactly this political term means in today’s climate.

First, I must start off by saying that political monikers change through time.  What is progressive today will not be tomorrow.  What was conservative 200 years ago is something very different from what a conservative is today. 

The Founders of the United States of America may or may not be conservatives today.  Its impossible to imagine what Alexander Hamilton may look like today.  Would he reject the liberal points of view in terms of the reach of government, even though he was more a of a big government founder?  We cannot know this for sure.  What of Jefferson?  His beliefs were in some ways very conservative in today’s views, but then again, wildly liberal in others.  Libertarian?  Perhaps, but we simply cannot know with certainty on Hamilton, Jefferson, or any early leader.

So it is through time.  What about Lincoln?  The first GOP president freed the slaves and fought a war to protect the union against the claims of states rights, hardly attributes that would be given to the party today (not to suggest today’s GOP wishes a return to slavery– far from it).  Even Eisenhower may not be the same leader today that he was in the 1950’s.  Would JFK be a Democrat, or a Republican?  His beliefs seem to line up more closely with today’s GOP than with the Democrats.

But the label “conservative” means something today.  It is not an empty word.  Some use it to deride their opponents, while others laud other conservatives.  The same can be said of liberals and progressives, but since I am seeking to define conservative ideals rather than liberal or progressive, they can be left alone.

What, then, does it mean in today’s climate?  Some use it to show a commitment to the ideals of the Founders, who may or may not have been conservative themselves.  Some use it to demonstrate the idea that the best government is small government.  Others still celebrate conservatism through religious commitment and purity.  The concept is expressed in other ways, too.  Further, conservatives can come in various levels.  To some, it is enough to be less progressive than liberals.  Others want no government at all, while still some allow a strong government to enact socially conservative ideals.  Some are only economic conservatives

And in most of them, there is truth.  Conservative can contain all of these things, but not all are necessary to be conservative.  There is only one attribute of conservatism that I think is necessary: a focus on iindependence. 

This might seem overly simplified, but that is it.  That is all a conservative is.  He believes nothing else in life except that our independence is what matters most.  Everything else stems from that simple idea.  The freedom to run a business; the freedom to use our own money; the freedom to worship as we please; the freedom to live our lives as we see fit; the freedom to accept or reject ideas without fear of punishment.  The conservative also recognizes that others share this vision and these same freedoms

Its ironic in that some of that has been adopted, although perverted, by liberals.  The freedom to do what we want is something the liberals live to hang their hats on.  However, that is tempered by the idea that while some can do what they want, it is simply wrong for others to push their views on those who are different.  That is not a conservative position, because a conservative would say that each is indeed entitled to his views, whether they agree or not.

Of course, there will be discussion of being right or wrong, because it is natural.  An exchange of ideas is key to a free society, and here again we see a difference between a conservative and a liberal.  While a conservative promotes discussion, and liberals seek to shut it down.  While a conservative may be appalled at a view, he will teach the person why that is wrong.  Just the same, the liberal will shut it down.

If a conservative’s main trait is independence, it is necessary to discuss what dependence is to distinguish the ideas and define what independence looks like further.  Dependence is relying on someone else to do something, whereas Independence is doing it on your own.  Dependence, then, is what liberals espouse.  While they claim it is for freedom and equality that they push for various policies, freedom and equality are different concepts than Independence.  Freedom is the ability or inability to do something, and equality means that the weight given something is roughly the same.  Dependence vs. independence is who can do what.

So, how to liberals espouse dependence?  They do so by stating that the people are unable to achieve certain goals on their own and require intervention.  Whether the goal is who to sleep with or how to pay bills, they need something, most often the government, to provide the means to do so.  The individual is dependant on something other than himself; the individual is therefore not independent.

Before closing, I’d like to point out one more thing.  There is another term out there that confuses the issues: libertarian.  Libertarians, in short, cover a wide range of positions– some are conservative, and others are liberal.  They essentially want the government out of their lives on whatever issue(s) it may be.  This is different from a conservative in that conservatives recognize and accept that the government has a positive role to play.  Where a libertarian would push the government out of any issue, the conservative would allow the government a role, albeit a small role.

A conservative believes the role the government should play in society is not to micromanage, nor to let loose everyone to their own devices.   A conservative’s government would be active in society promoting independence.  Most often, that means backing off, but it does leave open the prospect of it getting involved if it needs to.  When it does get involved, its involvement is to be minimal and narrowly focused to address whatever it is called to address.

Why does a conservative accept a government’s involvement?  Simple, because a government is necessary.  As tempting as it is to argue that a government-less society would be bliss, its result is nothing but chaos and the strong picking on the weak.  Stated differently, a ruling class would develop on its own wherein this class would make the weaker class dependant on the ruling class.  Rule and order are necessary, and that is what government provides.  Because rule and order are necessary, government is necessary. 

However, as I have emphasized, a liberal government that is too far reaching creates dependency, and one that does too little allows people to live in chaos wherein a system of the strong ruling the weak results.  Only a conservative government respects and promotes independence.  Regardless of too much intervention or too little, the result is the same– one group dependant on the other.

Is this definition perfect?  I wouldn’t think so, but I think it does capture the essence of what makes a conservative.  Its the independence to pursue whatever we want regardless that we find the most freedom.  It may not be the most equitable system, as some will fail when others succeed.  But all have the same opportunity to do either.  In our independence, we have the freedom liberals want, and we avoid the reality that society can never, ever, be fully equal. 

Let me know what you think conservatism means.

Some Thoughts on the United States

Having discussed the idea of putting federal judges up for term limits today at BrianR’s place, theviewfromtheisland.worpress.com, I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts on how I view the nature of the law in the United States.

This is a huge topic, and I won’t even pretend to cover it all.  No, I will merely write a few paragraphs on how I view its very nature and application in this nation.  I maintain that the United States is really quite amazing in how it treats the law– it always has, and continues to do so.  I will also throw a warning out there that this application is in jeopardy if we continue to allow the government to grab ever more control of our lives.

However, what this nation was founded on is truly astounding.  To my knowledge, 236 years after this nation was born, there have been few, if any, nations born out of a pure desire to be free, void of any specific national identity.  Yes, the French had their revolution, but they are French, and not a conglomerate of people wishing to form a more perfect nation.  So it is with most other nations.  The United States of America are different because of the English, Germans, Dutch, etc. who make up the background of the Founders.  No Africans, you say, fair enough, but slavery was in 1789 and earlier an uneasy topic, as if many were ready to free the slaves and view them as fully human.  It is unfortunate that many were still quick to demean them, but freedom for all mankind was indeed the rule.

And freedom for all mankind won.  The world had never seen a nation born out of such an idea, free from any monarch or single ruler, or small group of rulers.  No other nation had been created wherein people were free to do what they want, and the government let them at it.

Of course, it is an overstatement to say Americans were completely free.  No society is ever completely free.  There are always rules, written or not, that its members must follow or face exclusion or punishment.  So it is with the United States.  It has never been different.  However, what made the U.S. different was not the existence of rules, but their application and what they were based on.

Starting with the basis, the U.S. based its rules not on some special person, but on the idea that all men deserve some modicum of equality.  It was never, and is still not, a perfect equality, but there is a goal, an ever present desire for all to be equal, and a recognition that no man is inherently better than the next simply by way of birth.

Our laws reflect this desire, and though the wealthy will always have more options, the poor have every opportunity to amass wealth and property to gain the same benefits as the wealthy.  This basic desire has set forth the greatest society ever to have graced this earth.  More wealth has been created and more influence has been generated from one nation than ever before– yes, I include the Roman Empire in that.

Why?  Because hope for freedom and equality will always to attract people.  It should attract people.  Power is found in freedom.  The U.S. has always been free, and its people have been free to discuss virtually anything without restraint.  Its people have been free to amass wealth, and to lose it.  Its people have been free to create, do, and fulfill most any desire.

This desire has been limited only by the recognition that others are free to do the same.  Our laws have reflected this, and to sum it up, only outright cheating has been outlawed.  As long as everyone was on the same page, this nation thrived.

However, what we are seeing now, I fear, is the influx of a new idea: that not everyone is equal.  I see the idea that some people, because of their wealth, are no longer equal to the others to retain what is theirs.  According to a growing segment of people, the belief is shifting that equality no longer means the equal opportunity for growth but the equal ending point.

The result is that people are no longer free to amass wealth.  The penalty is sharing it with others, who for whatever reason have not exercised their freedom to amass wealth for themselves.  This is inherently not-free.

What is perpetuating this trend?  Its not the idea of power in the people.  No, it is the idea that people can get wealth not through hard work or honest effort, but by manipulating our system which guarantees freedom.  Freedom has also been redefined to mean equality, not the ability to do what one wants.

Instead of a nation of people who are all striving to better themselves, they look around them, at others, and demand that unless they have what they have, they are not free.  This is being reflected in our laws, too.  John Roberts just opened a huge door for the government to act in such a way to encourage this belief when it can tax to alter behavior.  A tax can always be used to redistribute wealth, so the door is wide open for the Robin Hoods to take over.

We must be very careful to ensure that we retain not the everyone-is-equal-freedom, but the everyone-can-pursue-freedom-freedom.  How do I think this is done?  It is not done by changing the structure of the system, but by electing the right individuals to lead this nation.  If we cannot do that, then the structure will change on its own and the reactions will be in kind.

I have to believe that freedom will always win in the long run, but the race is long, and we can choose now which course to take.  I choose freedom.