Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Civil Disobedience: Its Time Has Come

Now we've seen that despite what the people of Cyprus want, the Eurozone will have its way with them. At least any of them that have any money to speak of. And according to an article today in The Telegraph, the Euro-azis are using the end-around they ran on the citizens of Cyprus as a template for future thefts from individuals' bank accounts in Spain and Italy. It won't end there, either...

Perhaps the citizens of Europe didn't see this coming. Perhaps they didn't know what to do with their money but to keep it in bank accounts. Certainly the thought must have seemed preposterous to them, if they thought it at all, that some government entity they didn't even elect could come and just grab a bunch of money out of their accounts. But now they find out that even their own countries are like just puppets easily manipulated by the despots who run the money system in Europe.

But they were elected, sort of. It all started with the Common Market, the precursor to the Eurozone. Little by little, over years, the citizens of Cyprus, Italy, Spain, and the rest of them have given up their sovereignty by approving their countries' respective engagements in the Eurozone.

And little by little, and sometimes by large calving chunks of floe ice at a time, the states of the United States have been doing just the same thing vis-a-vis Washington. And now that federal government spending is completely out of control, we the citizens are about to get screwed big time with scant protection from our state governments. They have all been far too compromised, like the government of Cyprus.

But we do have a guiding light to escape their fate, if we have the guts to follow him.

Henry David Thoreau is most famous for removing himself from civilization to live alone by Walden Pond in Massachusetts where he could "march to the beat of a different drummer." But while still in his twenties nearly 200 years ago, when the country was still quite young, he recognized the dangers of too-big, unrepresentative government that can come about even in a democracy. He summed up his thoughts on the issue in his essay "Civil Disobedience".

Thoreau was deeply opposed to slavery and the Mexican War going on at the time and felt that the federal government was condoning or conducting both without the consent of the governed. In protest he had refused to pay his poll tax year after year and eventually spent a night in jail because of it, an act of martyrdom which was comically cut short when a well-meaning neighbor paid the taxes current, foiling Thoreau's great protest. But Thoreau had his day. "Civil Disobedience" has inspired historic figures as diverse as Tolstoy and Ghandi and stands tall today as we face the danger of being smushed like ants by the massive machine of the federal--and world--governments.

I took some time in Erintopia to re-read the essay after an adult lifetime away from it. I recommend the whole thing. But here are some gems from it to get your juices flowing...

I heartily accept the motto, - "That government is best which governs least;" and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, - "That government is best which governs not at all..."

...government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way.

Trade and commerce, if they were not made of India-rubber, would never manage to bounce over the obstacles which legislators are countinually putting in its way.

How many men are there to a square thousand miles in this country? Hardly one. (Emphasizing that too many citizens opposed slavery but would do nothing to stop it.)

Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.

A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority.

For my own part, I should not like to think that I ever rely on the protection of the State. But, if I deny the State when it presents its tax-bill, it will soon take and waste all my property, and so harass me and my children without end. This is hard. This makes it impossible for a man to live honestly, and at the same time comfortably, in outward respects.

If we were left solely to the wordy wit of legislators in Congress for our guidance, uncorrected by the seasonable experience and the effectual complaints of the people, America would not long retain her rank among the nations.

The progress from an absolute to a limited monarchy, from limited monarchy to a democracy, is a progress toward a true respect for the individual.

Respect for the individual??? Who ever heard about that in this world, where we're dictated to about everything from wearing seat belts to now more and more, what we eat!?

I am not, for the record, recommending anyone not pay their taxes. But I do especially like that part about being a counter friction to stop the machine. It is time that we all stop participating in the politically correct malarky, the over-regulation, and the legalism. In ways I shant disclose publicly, I'm already creating my own little frictions...

But here's a start for anybody: "Civil Disobedience." It's usually included in any collection headlined by Walden. Read it. Live by it. And pass it on before this coming generation has no idea what personal liberty is. And nothing left in our or their bank accounts, either.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Right Thinking

Sometimes paranoia is just right thinking when they really are out to get you. Case in point: This week's news from Cyprus.

In case you weren't paying attention, here's basically what happened. Cyprus, which is a tiny island nation off Greece, has overspent its resources on social programs like many other European nations. In order to shore up its economy and save the integrity of the Euro, the European Union has ordered "austerity programs" to suck more tax revenue out of the people and put it into the central banks. To do this, the government of Cyprus tried to confiscate the money directly out of bank accounts in Cyprus. When the citizens got wind of this, they rioted and there was a run on the banks. The government backed off. Cyprus is the canary in the coal mine.

Back in the '70s, a similar situation occurred in Mexico. Mexico has two out of the three things required to be a great nation on the world stage: a hardworking people and great natural resources. But it lacks the third thing: good government. So as each successive administration robbed the treasury before ceding power to the next administration, Mexico was getting upside down, unable to satisfy its debt to the U.S. and the World Bank. Meanwhile, some bright light bulb in the government had the idea to allow Mexican citizens to hold bank accounts within Mexico funded in U.S. dollars.

The growing Mexican middle class was all over that. Where they had never particularly trusted the peso before, they were all about putting their life savings into U.S. dollars. There was an explosion of savings, houses were built, cars were bought, life was good.

Only one problem. The Mexican government saw an opportunity. All that cold hard American cash was sitting in its country in citizens' bank accounts and it was plenty to get them out of their debt fix. So overnight they destroyed the lion's share of their middle class by enacting a law henceforth prohibiting U.S. dollar bank accounts and automatically converting all such accounts to pesos at a rate set by the government. And thus Mexico came up with cash it needed by robbing the life savings of its own citizens. Many families, professionals, small business owners were ruined by this.

Who cares.

You should care. Government spending in the U.S. is unprecedented and unsustainable. The power mongers running things now, even holding the presidency and the Senate, have not been able to raise taxes adequate to fund their profligacy because the House won't go along. So they will look for other ways to do it.

There are, and have been, serious proposals afloat to fund the United States' debt on the backs of its citizens' 401Ks and IRAs. Just search on "government seizing retirement accounts" to get a taste of what they're talking about. (Filter out the articles that are trying to sell you something, like gold, and look for the ones that quote Congressional reps who are proposing just this thing.)

Mexico's experience should be a lesson learned. Cyprus is a reminder. Be ready. It's coming.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

West Meade Traffic Calming: Finish the Job

Real people in Nashville scored a victory recently when the ugly, unsafe, hated chicanes were removed from Bresslyn Road. They were originally installed as part of a "traffic calming" project administered by comrade Karl Dean's administration. Score one for sanity.

Now let's get rid of these ridiculous George Jetson speed thingys. They are ugly and a nuisance. Surely the people who have them in their front yards didn't give permission???

It makes no sense to have thru-roads like Davidson and Brook Hollow marked at 30 m.p.h. The speed limit was 40 when I bought property over here and I don't recall any undue deaths or mayhem.

Now, dimwits who travel down this road at a reasonable speed, with me behind them, suddenly see the blinking signs and slam on the brakes. I suppose they think they're being filmed. They're likely to have a Jeep Cherokee bumper sticker if they don't quit it.

I would say this is a waste of taxpayer money, but in fact it is not. Instead it is another sort of extortion by Metro government. The developers of Nashville West were forced to fork over something like a $100,000 for the privilege of contributing to Nashville's tax base with their excellent shopping center. That money was then put in the hands of Public Works, who found a few traffic zealots in the Hillwood 'hood and they came up with this lame-brain way to waste the money. They would have done better to devote it to paving that pock-marked, uneven stretch of Charlotte pavement in front of the shopping center that makes it like driving through bombed out Beirut.

Come on, Metro. Rip up those ugly signs and set the speed limit back to where it should be.

(P.S. Here's a little known fact. Once you hit 50 on those signs, they black out! Try it, it's fun!)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Oh, brother.

Daylight savings time. It's hell on us early waker uppers.

What's wrong with zero dark thirty staying in the five o'clock hour where it belongs instead of at 6:30 a.m.?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A bad steward of a good country

We can all mark cancer's victory over Hugo Chavez as at least one good thing the disease has done. A holdover of the Stalinist mindset from the Soviet Union, Chavez enriched himself personally while preaching wealth redistribution to gullible voters among the poor in Venezuela, making a mockery of democracy and sending a fragile nation down the road to perdition.

I had the good fortune to attend a trade show in Caracas in the early eighties. There was plenty of poverty to be seen around Caracas. Ramshackle dwellings covered the hillsides for as far as you could see in some areas. And there was plenty of corruption and crime. I had my credit card and passport stolen in the wink of an eye soon after arrival. And I was lucky to get out of the country for want of the "exit tax" levied - twice! - at the airport.

But there was a vitality to the country, an optimism and a fire in the belly of the people in those days that was unmistakable. Venezuela was going places, and it had the richest oil reserves in the world with which to go there. It produced at one time (maybe the record still stands) more Miss Universes than any other country in the world. It is made up of  beautiful, ambitious, capable people.

And at that time, I could walk safely the mile or so from the horse track where the trade show was to my hotel without a problem. It was probably as safe as Mexico City was fifteen years ago when I worked there. You could get around, you just had to be prudent. Now both Mexico and Venezuela are largely no-man's-lands. One because of the drug cartels, the other because of the evil tyrant Hugo Chavez's squelching of private property rights and individual freedom.

We can all thank God today that the world, and especially Venezuela, is better off without the despicable Hugo Chavez. And wonder... why did Barack Obama like him so well?

That's food for thought, for the thinking...

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Why me, Lord?

Why do I always manage to get stuck behind this species of nitwit at red lights?