Thursday, August 28, 2008

Shirtsleeves to Shirtsleeves

Ann Coulter has a column out today about Joe Biden in which she characterizes his family as an example of the “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves” phenomenon. She points out that his roots were not that humble. Although his parents had modest means, his grandfather was an executive with Standard Oil.

One of the characteristics of the free enterprise system in America is that there is not an automatic landed gentry. There are numerous examples of families that have risen from economic obscurity to wealth in one generation only to lose it all two generations later. The theory is that the generations after the first one that bootstraps its way up through hard work and sacrifice are spoiled and piddle it all away, to put it gently.

Listening to Barack Obama and the rest of the Democrats present their “change” agenda to the American people over the past few months has had a naggingly familiar ring to me. At the same time, I’ve been shocked that one friend after another is actually thinking of voting for what amounts to a socialist/globalist agenda. In a word, they’ve gone liberal.

These folks have good jobs and nice homes and have attended schools far better than their parents knew growing up. To a man (and woman), they all live these nice lives because of the free enterprise system and the individual hard work and sacrifice of their parents, enabled not because of government entitlements or social programs, but because the government stayed out of the way. Their parents lived through the Depression, fought in World War II, and then came back and built private businesses, usually from scratch.

Only when I thought this morning about the “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves” phenomenon did the source of that naggingly familiar ring of the Democrats’ message become clear to me. It was I. It was I twenty years ago before I started and by the grace of God and hard work built my own business.

See, I used to think I was privileged. And I was right. Thanks to my parents I had a great head start on most people in this world. Not that I thought about it as deeply as I should have, but I assumed that it would pretty much always be that way because I was born into privilege. But God intervened. Once my father passed away, his company bit the dust. I had to step up to the plate. And once I did that, my worldview changed. For the past twenty years, it has come home to me every day that I, and my employees, might be one customer, one bad receivable, one economic slump, one lawsuit away from economic ruin. It has been a sobering and motivating and at times an exhilarating experience.

And it has dispossessed me of the liberal views of my youth. The Democrats of this world, at least today’s elite Democrats who run the party, have missed this experience. They are living in a bubble. Not all of them, but more than realize it, for I know this to be true: they are closer than they think to returning to the shirtsleeves life their parents escaped. And if their agenda of further diminishing the free enterprise system through yet more oppressive taxation, regulation, and entitlement wins this election, we’re all in for the shirtsleeves experience again.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Barack Obama, Abortion, and Euthanasia

Recently WLAC radio reported that there will be some 600,000 one-hundred-year-olds living among us by the year 2040.

I won’t be one of them. I’ll only be 82 in 2040. Rather, that crowd of centenarians is going to be mostly my generation’s parents—and in-laws! Imagine! I’ve always thought it was pretty special when anyone lives to 100, but when there are that many, and especially when most of them are mothers-in-law, what we have is not a few quaint old people, but a social problem.

In-law or not, do you know how much of a pain it can be to take care of an elderly relative? Especially if, as is often the case, they have dementia or incontinence or some other handicap? Let me tell you, even when healthy our elders also tend to be less diplomatic and more stubborn as they age. They’ve figured out they’re never going to win the popularity contest anyway and besides, they’ve earned the right to bitch, whine, and moan all they want.

It is, to say the least, very inconvenient for those of us just trying to deal with middle age, especially if we happen to be doubly cursed by having teenagers at the same time.

All of which makes me think of Barack Obama.

Back in March, community organizer and presidential candidate Barack Obama told a crowd in Pennsylvania that he was pro-abortion because he didn’t want his daughters to be “punished with a baby” if as teenagers they “make a mistake”.

Now that makes sense, doesn’t it? And as long as that’s a justification for the millions of babies whose lives have been snuffed out thanks to Roe v. Wade, then what about all those danged aging parents and in-laws?

Forget about figuring out at what point does life begin. Let’s talk about at what point life ends. Actually, we’ve already covered a lot of this ground in the Terry Schiavo case, right? But let’s not make it that difficult. Let’s find a cutoff point for aging just like we split pregnancy into trimesters in order to find the point at which life begins. So, at what point can we euthanize our elders legitimately? 70? 80? 90? 100?

The earlier the better. Just think of the money we’d save for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other government programs, not to mention how much more profitable private pension programs and insurance companies would be if they didn’t have to pay out seemingly interminable benefits.

And besides, I’m sure Mr. Obama would agree, taking care of all those old people is very inconvenient.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

When a shoplifter sets the moral tone for a city

Way out Charlotte Pike here, we have a Wal-Mart and a Lowes and a dollar store and a Super China buffet and other assorted strip stores surrounding a huge parking lot on land that used to be nothing but woods, all thanks in large part to our councilman, Eric Crafton. This happened several years ago. Despite neighborhood meetings where it was pretty clear that very few people supported the zoning change that allowed the stores to go in, he voted for it anyway. Now there’s a whole ‘nother sprawling shopping development on another big plot of land that used to be green and beautiful, again thanks to a zoning variance. Thanks to all that, Mr. Crafton is not my favorite person.

I know some of the people who were pushing for both developments, and they’re not bad people. They’re just trying to make a buck like anybody else and you can’t blame them for that. As long as the law allows it, so be it. But what’s the point of having a master plan for the city if every time somebody with dollar signs in their eyes wants to change it, the Council just lets it happen?

Despite the grimy feeling I get whenever I go in there, I’ve shopped at the Wal-Mart numerous times, eaten at the buffet, bought all kinds of stuff at Lowes. I was glad that if we had to swallow Nashville West, at least it offered a Target, which is far cleaner and better organized than Wal-Mart, and with BookStar gone from the Belle Meade Theater, it’s nice to know I can zip over to Books-a-Million whenever I want. I’ve been there two or three times. There's nothing to be gained from a one-man boycott. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

But every day, I have to fight my way through about a half dozen more traffic lights on the relatively short commute to my office near White Bridge Road. The traffic on my street has probably at least tripled from cut-throughs. And although I like seeing the occasional deer in my yard, I know they probably wouldn’t be bothering with my back yard’s kind of wilderness if their habitat on the other side of Charlotte hadn’t been disrupted.

That’s not what I started out to write about, however.

What got me off on all that was thinking about Ronnie Steine, which reminded me of Target, where he was caught shoplifting on a couple of different occasions, a minor scandal that led to his exit from his position as vice mayor a few years ago. But he’s back. Despite how everybody says we need to vote the crooks out of office, Nashvillians voted this one back in as a council member! Talk about the electorate being asleep at the wheel!

To add insult to injury, now Mr. Steine is grandstanding on the supposedly moral high ground, sponsoring a resolution by which the Council has voiced its displeasure at a voter petition spearheaded by none other than Mr. Crafton. Mr. Crafton wants to bring to a referendum a proposed law mandating that the city only do business in the English language except where required by federal law. The Tennessean has weighed in against the English-only measure, along with the mayor, various Hispanic groups, and the ACLU, all decrying the “unwelcoming” nature of the proposed law. Now that it’s clear that the 10% of the electorate required to get the proposal on the ballot has been reached, they’re trying to get it thrown out on a technicality. By all means, they’re saying by default, let’s be sure that the people of Nashville don’t get a direct vote on a compelling, timely issue affecting the very nature of this community.

Am I the only one who finds this whole scenario more than a little ridiculous? Where did the people of this city lose control of their government? If the axiom is true that all politics is local, what hope do we carry away from this experience for reform at the state and federal level?

I live way out Charlotte Pike, but given the high property and sales taxes I pay, not to mention the Hall tax in a state that supposedly doesn’t have an income tax, I think I may just need to move further out, like over the county line at least.

But maybe not. Maybe there are genuine democrats (with a small “d”) in our local government who will work to allow us to vote on Mr. Crafton’s measure. Maybe Nashvillians will make a statement about the sanctuary city trend that Mr. Steine and his buddies are promoting.

I never thought I’d say it, but I’m behind you 100%, Eric Crafton.