Category Archives: Government

An Optimistic Enemy of the State?

I picked up this quote through the Internets from Jeffrey Tucker via a friend.

Anarcho Capitalist

Anarcho Capitalist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Someone on Reddit asked about my optimism. My response below:

The state in all times and all places wants a population of despairing, dreary, hopeless, and weighted-down people. Why? Because such people don’t do anything. They are predictable, categorizable, pliable, and essentially powerless. Such people offer no surprises, threaten no change, destabilize nothing. This is the ideal world that the bureaucrats, the plutocrats, and the technocrats desire. It makes their life easy and the path clear. Today is just yesterday and tomorrow – forever. This is the machine that the state wants to manage, a world of down-in-the-dumps and obedient citizens of the society they think they own.
In contrast, hope upsets the prevailing order. It sees things that don’t yet exist. It acts on a promise of a future different from today. It plays with the uncertainty of the future and dares imagine that ideals can become reality. Those who think this way are a threat to every regime. Why? Because people who think this way eventually come to act this way. They resist. They rebel. They overthrow.
And yet look around: we see progress everywhere. What does this imply? It implies that non-compliance is the human norm. People cannot be forever pressed into a mold of the state’s making. The future will happen and it will be shaped by those who dare to break bad, dare to disagree, and dare to take the risk to overthrow what is in favor of what can be.
I realized all this some years ago, and then when you begin to look around and see how the power elites do not and cannot rule, you discover the whole secret to social order. It turns out that they are not really in control, not finally. Then it all becomes fun. It is a blast to see the powerful topple from the thrones they want to sit in so badly. It is a thrill to use and hold technologies that no one among the elite ever gave permission to exist. It is a kick to see how the market — meaning human beings acting with vision toward the future — is so constantly outwitting the arrogant planners who want to freeze history, control our minds, and wreck our world.
To defy them is so simple: just imagine and future better than the present. You become a enemy of the state, and you begin to love every minute of it.
I thought it was a fascinating read. I didn’t realize that Jeffrey A. Tucker was a contributing writer to LewRockwell.com. I’m not a big fan of Lew Rockwell’s Anarcho-capitalist ideology. I will give Tucker credit for having lived in Auburn, AL (War Eagle!!!) and being the former editor for Mises.org. I am a fan of the works of Ludwig Von Mises and mostly agree that governments ultimately have a negative effect on society: they have to selfishly serve themselves if they are to remain in existence.

I think Tucker is correct in how all States view optimism. Reference The Jungle, Anthem, 1984, Stranger in a Strange Land, etc. All of these authors were giving us fictional versions of Optimism played out. In Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, optimism plays an implied key role as part of the John Galt pledge, “I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” The Pledge implies that man can imagine and create a world of self-sufficiency if left unfettered by governments. 

While this looks great on paper, it is true only if you allow God to guide your steps. In Jeremiah 10:23  the Prophet Jeremiah states, “LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.” The research of Neuroscientist Daniel Siegel, et al. has been proving this to be true due to the natural wiring of the power of the fast part of your brain (limbic) overpowering the slow part of your brain (Pre-frontal cortex) where logic and reason occur.
Pessimism, usually driven by the limbic system being trigger by some form of fear or the memory thereof, has shown to be 5x more powerful then Optimism in controlling how we think and view the world. This is likely by design as it provides a natural defense mechanism if you are a hunter/gatherer/farmer living in nomadic tribes.
Additionally, optimism has a nasty side-effect of making us puffed up. If you can find ways to temper your pride, such as mindfulness and daily reading of and meditation on the Holy Scripture, you can mostly avoid the trap of pride while enjoying your new found status as non-pliable Citizen.
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A Soldier’s Welcome Home

I approached my gate at O’Hare today and there was a large crowd gathered looking toward the aircraft and tarmac outside. There I saw a ground grew unloading luggage, and two fire trucks with lights blazing. Upon closer glance I realized what the crowd had stopped to watch. The firemen were lined along the baggage ramp from the plane at attention presenting arms. What came from the craft’s belly, was a soldier returning home. The casket, draped in Old Glory, was accepted by the Color Guard and quietly was carried to a carriage. They blew thier air horns in a long call, then raised thier sirens and raced away with the Colors flapping in the wind.
An honor guard from the 1st Special Forces Gro...

An honor guard from the 1st Special Forces Group transports the flag-draped coffin of Sgt. 1st Class Nathan R. Chapman just before midnight Jan. 8 at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. More than 60 Green Berets joined the Chapman family at the airport to pay their respects to the first U.S. soldier killed by hostile fire in Afghanistan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The moment was surreal for me and others. It brought back memories for me of never being able to say goodbye to two men from my platoon in Basic Training.
One, I had fought with both verbally and physically. He thought I was a goodie-two-shoes. I thought he was a stupid swamper from the bayou of Lousianna. Seeing the constant tension, the Drill Sergeant paired the two of us in every possible situation. We never became friends or much more than two guys together in the same situation, but we did learn to work together.
Upon graduation from Basic Training, I left for Fort Gordon. The Cajun remained behind to complete Advanced Indidividual Training (AIT) as an Military Policeman (MP). The other, my bunkmate for the next 12 weeks, became my brother in arms. Both, ultimately went on to Desert Shield and Desert Storm while I went on to monitor North Korea while we had our focus on Iraq.
Neither returned alive.
The Cajun, having saved a lot of his fellow troops, was awarded the Silver Star… postumously.
I wish I could have told him thank you for teaching me the true meaning of the phrase, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal”.
I turned from the scene at O’Hare and wondered who wasn’t able to say goodbye to this Warrior who paid the ultimate sacrifice…
… and for what?
Because all men, women and children are created equal and deserve an equal chance at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, even Afghans men, women and children.

 

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Dinner with a Stranger in a Strange Land

I had a random dinner with a stranger last Friday night while bellied up to the bar at the Legal Sea Foods mothership in Boston, MA. I was on my iPad. He was on his iPad. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed scribble on his screen, like cursive manuscript. This caught my eye. On a glance I noticed it looked like Arabic. Introducing myself, I questioned about how well non-English characters, particularly Arabic characters were rendered and how easy it was to read Right-to-Left. It was surprisingly easy.

After a bit of chit-chat, and upon learning he was studying at a local university, I broached the topic of religion. I simply asked, “I make no assumption about whether you are religious and if so if you are Muslim; however, I recently spent some time studying the [Holy] Qur'an as part of a study of World religions. I downloaded an electronic version of the Qur'an and didn't find the application and presentation very easy to navigate. Would you know if there is a iPad app that is easy to use with English-Arabic interlinear so that I might better understand what the Qur'an says?”

This led to a two-hour discussion of religion, the foolish Zionist movement and by extension the powerful Pre-Millennialist lobby affecting foreign policy decisions and the U.S. meddling in the affairs of other Nation States. It wasn't long until we began to discuss related current affairs, the inflammatory anti-Islamic video that caused the recent outbreak of violence, and then the subsequent attack on the Libyan Embassy, the Death of the US Ambassador to Libya, the Information Officer and their security detail.

My new acquaintance made two very sobering points as we sipped our iced tea surrounded by those imbibing. They were:

  1. Muslims abroad don't hate Americans. They hate our government.
  2. The U.S. Government has consistently and repeatedly allied with the “wrong side” of peace and civility, exploited that relationship to command or provide a presence in the region largely to influence trade relations, often for the purposes of consuming natural resources such as oil, precious metals, and rare earth minerals.

For me these were two painful truths.

There was a third painful truth that my Egyptian dinner guest had failed to grasp, or maybe that I'm naive about.

The truth is that because we are representative Republic, you can't separate Americans and the government of the United States of America. Either this is the truth, or we are no longer a representative Republic made of citizen officials, citizen soldiers and citizen servants serving an involved citizenry. If it is the former, then an attack on a U.S. Embassy, its Ambassador and diplomats is an attach on Americans. Or, we are no longer a representative Republic and our government is an organization bordering on authoritarian rule over its subjects. Of course this is two extremes of a condition and the truth lies somewhere along the continuum between the two extremes.

It does beg the question… towards which end are we currently leaning?

An even more interesting question is what cognitive bias are you bringing to the opinion rolling around in your head. My dinner partner was bringing the cognitive bias of an outsider looking while being inside the very object he was attempting to articulate from an outsider's perspective. Myself, I am an insider looking out through the perspective of someone that has clients and associates in the U.S., Europe, India and China.

I think the jury is out and likely with return with a “hung jury” verdict. There is a part of me that wants to come down on one side or the other, but for our Nation to stop its obvious duplicitous message to our fellow sojourners on this special ball in space.

I dedicate this post to the late Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith and Ambassador Chris Stevens. Two visionary servant leaders who never gave up hope that the People of Libya could rule themselves peacefully and provide a beacon of stability in an ever-destabilizing region. My heart goes out to their loved ones. I can't imagine the pain they must be feeling. For me personally, I do feel a loss having served them in their work.

 

Thoughts on Engaging U.S. Citizens In Their Government

I’ve been mulling this topic over a lot lately. It really hit home when I traveled from my insulated community in the DC suburbs back down the I-81 “technology corridor” through Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia to the rural community where I grew up… 18 miles from the nearest town in rural Alabama. The average income is $18K. The average household income is ~$36K. There is little to no cell service much less broadband service. The number of citizens with computers that actively use the Internet for anything more than a little shopping or Facebook is limited to those households with kids ages K-12. Beyond that, much like the inner city or tribal Afghanistan, governmental decisions occur at community’s epicenter: the marketplace. In Alabama, it happened to be the local diner. In the inner city it’s usually something else.

So how do we service all of these citizens with OpenGov and Gov 2.0 initiatives? I think it all comes back to providing the same infrastructure that Gov 0.1 started from: the post office. Today, most Official Government correspondence is communicated via Post. In order to move to the next generation of Official Government correspondence we should consider the incentives to do so. Maybe Internet Cafe-style kiosks that run on a dedicated network for accessing local, state and Federal Government websites would be a start?

Overall, the solution is going to be multi-faceted: infrastructure, sociological shifts in the levels of acceptance of engaging the Governments via electronic mediums, education, and then the incentives for “doing business with the Government online” instead of via paper. One such example that is gaining ground in N. Virginia is that the cost of paper based processes is being tagged onto the filings and taxes as a separate line item. Once I saw that it was going to cost me extra to do my business with the local Government via paper, I switched to online transactions where, originally fee subsidized, the fees are now waived.

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Government 2.0 Radio is a talk show devoted to all things related to Government 2.0, government transparency, and uses of social media marketing to engage citizens in the their government.

Never forgetting

On September 11, 2001 I watched the world change in front of my eyes, just as my father saw the world change when Sputnik went up on October 4, 1957, and his father listened to FDR’s "Day of Infamy" speech on December 8th, 1941. I have an edited version of Jewel’s "Hands" with all the sound bites from Sept. 11th on my iPod just to remind me how important eternal vigilance is.

Wikipedia entry accepted

UPDATED 25-May-2016: I noticed that Wikipedia deleted the phrase “Culture of Entitlement”. Recalling that I spent a considerable amount of time taking the political bias out of the entry, I’m frankly unimpressed. So I offer up a CPA Journal article titled, “Changing a culture of entitlement into a culture of merit

I don’t know whether to rejoice or cry at the fact that Wikipedia just accepted in whole my edits to the entry “Culture of Entitlement”. They also upgraded the validity of the entry from being biased to valid.

I was compelled to edit it after running into several people in Florida, and then one trusted source in DC that says they are increasingly seeing people that are basically expecting President Obama to solve all thier problems, including employment. One lady from Indiapolis, who is currently living in her broken-down car on Connecticut Ave. has told authorities that she is expecting a job from the President on the January 21st because he told her so on television.

This is scary stuff because there is an entire sub-culture out there that is expecting to either have a job provided for them or have a check written to them because they voted for Barack Obama. Forget personal responsibility or common sense. One official in Florida told me that people are acting like the Thessalonians. I hope that isn’t the case. If so what is going to happen when these same people wake up and realize that Obama isn’t the Messiah and that “Obama’s [NOT] gonna’ take care of that”.