Friday, November 30, 2007

Nonintervention vs Isolationism

In honor of the recent Republican YouTube debate, where Senator McCain took the opportunity to increase the fictionalization of non-intervention being the same thing as isolationism, this post is dedicated to once-and-for-all explain that there is a difference.

I do this so that you, as a voter, can see through the rhetoric and smear being spewed by candidates who either don't know the meaning of the words they use (not a good sign for someone running for President) or are using such verbiage in a disingenuous manner (yet again, not a good sign for someone running for President). Those of you who are not voters, whether an American who does not vote or a non-American, this attempt at clarity is for you too, since both words cater to actions taken or not taken in YOUR countries.

To add some weight to my explanations, I have enlisted the help of Princeton University, as well as a former President of the United States of America. After all, we can't just simply take that pesky Ron Paul fella's word for it, right?

Allow me to introduce my first guest, Antony Lewis, creator of WordWeb, a dictionary-thesaurus-word database based on a WordNet project at Princeton University:

Nonintervention - n. A foreign policy of staying out of other countries' disputes.

Isolationism - n. A policy of nonparticipation in international economic and political relations.

Do you notice the difference? Let's hear what Ron Paul has to say about that difference, in his book A Foreign Policy of Freedom (located on my National/World links list):

"Noninterventionism is not isolationism. Nonintervention simply means America does not interfere militarily, financially, or covertly in the internal affairs of other nations."

That sounds suspiciously like the definition presented by WordWeb! Coincidence? I think not. Speaking of the Founders as Paul has, let me introduce my next guest, former President George Washington, and let's hear what he has to say about Paul's interpretation of what the Founders advocated:

"Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; "-- George Washington (Farewell Address, 1796)
Apparently, there are an awful lot of people, particularly 2008 Presidential candidates, who do not understand what they are talking about when they say nonintervention is the same thing as isolationism, with the exception of Rep./Dr. Ron Paul. On the GOP side, particularly, it looks like John McCain needs to be given a reading assignment just like Rudy Giuliani needed one.

Isolationism we don't need, for obvious reasons. Trading with other nations helps all who are involved. Talking to other nations and understanding their culture, while sharing yours, helps all who are involved. Visiting and spending time in other nations increases understanding, friendship, and even economic relations (tourist money) for all involved. Isolationism prevents all of that from happening. No one is advocating that.

Nonintervention we DO need. We can't be a free country if we conduct our foreign policy in a manner that is not consistent with being a free country. Examples of not being consistent with being a free country include nation building and intervening in foreign affairs that have no direct effect on us. Using force to tell others how to live is not the mark of a free country and that is the opposite of nonintervention. That's not freedom. That's tyranny. I want to be able to say:

It's a Free Country!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Bank's Monopoly Diminishes

The days where banks hold a monopoly on The People's ability to borrow money are now gone. The People are taking it upon themselves to step into the realm of lending and borrowing money.

Naturally, technology is helping to see this endeavor gain steam, through a website called . It's breaking the bank's power that it has over us, which is great news! If there's one thing that should not exist in a free country, it's having an institution yield the kind of leverage and control over The People that the bank does today.

The way this new, people-powered system works is like this: Borrowers log onto the network and post how much money they are looking for, the purpose of the loan, and at what interest rate they are looking for.

The reasons range anywhere from money to get married, to money needed in order to start a new business, and everything in-between. Posts are usually accompanied by photographs and personal narratives that explain the reason for the loan. A grade is assigned to each borrower based on the person's credit score so that investors know their level of risk.

Lenders (investors) then log on and bid on how much they can lend and at what interest rate. It's that simple.

Many of the lenders are indicating that the investments they have made are returning more profits than other forms of investment. Only 10% of all investments are failing to be returned. Considering how often we could see a lack of payback from borrowers, I think 10% is pretty freakin' good!

I see this as a huge opportunity for The People. It's a win-win situation all around (except for banks, ha-ha!):

1. We increase our freedom by increasing choices, by breaking the control and overbearing monopoly that the bank has had for so long. The People regain more control over their affairs.

2. We increase our ability to create wealth, with a new and different opportunity to invest, which also creates wealth for those who borrow. Borrowers can find better rates than banks traditionally offer and investors can get better returns than from a savings account at a bank.

3. We increase our level of humanitarianism. According to Prosper, "The opportunities for social connection appeal to users, said Prosper co-founder and CEO Chris Larsen...."When you’re dealing with people, it’s 'I want to do well but I also want to feel good about how I'm doing well,'" said Larsen.

Banks are obviously not as humanitarian and can be cold, less forgiving, and rarely appeal to human need. Investors who fill that need step up the level of peer-to-peer connection in society. Investing directly in a person, as opposed to a large, corporate conglomerate, feels more human.

4. I can see the potential for this to go international, whether by Prosper themselves or by other companies similar to Prosper starting up in other countries.

It's those reasons, above, that display an exciting example of how:

It's a Free Country!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

$20,000 Bonus

The Army is offering a tremendous sign-on bonus these days. And people are snatching it up, lured in by big money instantly given to them if they are willing to become cannon fodder.
I don't think such a thing should be considered acceptable.

First and foremost, the need for such a bonus (poor recruitment) should tell you something is wrong. It should tell you that perhaps The People aren’t in agreement with the wars that we are in. If they were in agreement, recruitment would be through the roof.

So, instead of recognizing what people are saying (by not joining), the federal government has decided to entice people with more (of our) money.

Now before you think I’m anti-military, I’ll set the record straight and say that I support a strong military. A strong defense is how all of our united states are protected from harm. If the federal government is not protecting our states from harm, what’s the point of uniting in the first place?

What I don’t support is the massive waste of our federal tax dollars (which are taken against many people's will in the first place) to entice suckers into an unpopular war.

I’ve received mixed feedback from my stance and I often hear responses such as, “Military members need that money because they don’t receive enough compensation for what they do.” I’ve also heard, “For all that they’ve done, they deserve that bonus.” In both cases, I raise the bullshit flag.

1. This is a sign-on bonus. It’s not given to seasoned vets, “for all that they’ve done”. It’s given to brand-new recruits. It’s nothing more than bribery into an unpopular war.

2. Military members are VERY well compensated in America. The pay scale is slightly lower than civilian counter-parts, but most people fail to recognize that the military pay scale does not include 100% health care (including spouse and children), 100% dental care, nearly 100% education expenses paid for, free housing, guaranteed retirement after only 20 years, bonuses in the thousands every 4-6 years, yearly pay raises just for being alive, paid down payments on new homes, and reduced prices at restaurants, movies, parks, amusement parks, vacation homes, and countless other places. That’s not counting tax-free products and services at exchanges and commissaries around the world.

Factor in the cost of awesome benefits such as those and the pay-scale for military members is much HIGHER than the average civilian employee.

Any time you hear of a military member on food stamps, it’s because that member is not responsible, plain and simple. The military adequately takes care of it’s people and rightfully so.

My point? Members don’t need that $20,000 because they are living so poorly. They are not living poorly at all.

I don’t support a sign-on bonus for the military of any amount, much less one set at $20,000. We're talking about federal money that should not be used so frivolously. It's not like state money, which any state has a right to waste according to what its people want:

It’s a Free County!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm thankful for living in a place where I can say, It's a Free County!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Younger Generation's Interest in Ron Paul

It seems that the doctor known as Ron Paul who is running for President has quite the following from an otherwise apathetic bloc of voters, folks in the 18-22 range. Paul is stirring interest in voters of all ages, but it's rare to see such interest brought about from voters as young as 18-22.

College campuses are abuzz with Paul supporters. Even many high schoolers are chanting his name. It should be a dream come true for adults who are always complaining that kids don't step into the voting booth enough. Alas, the only thing most of us adults can talk about, instead, is why the young are so enchanted with Paul.

Well, in an effort to start getting us to concentrate on what's really important here - the fact that young voters are becoming involved, which is what we are always bitching at them to do - let me propose what I think is a sound reason for why young voters are so interested in Paul, in order for us to start focusing on the fact that they are interested in participating in the first place.

Personally, I think the answer is simple.

Young people, on average, have been attending 10 years of school ranging from middle school to college, during which time they have been taught to value the Constitution of the United States.
They are taught that the Founding Fathers were smart men who knew what was best for our country and that what they knew was that states with their own governments and ways of doing things can be united as a means to ensure protection, freedom, and justice, but only if united under a federal government that was very limited in power.

They are taught that America is a collection of states that are united under such a federal government, one that is limited in power by the Constitution, intended to make official our rights and freedoms. This information is hammered into them year after year.

Then, these kids see our federal government do the exact opposite of what they've been taught. They see the feds completely disregard the Constitution.

They see our Congress vote to give the President authority to wage a war in Iraq and Afghanistan without a Declaration of War and everything that comes with it from Congress (violation of Article I Section 8).

They see our President conduct domestic spying on Americans without support of Oath or affirmation, thanks to the Patriot Act passed by Congress (violation of Amendment IV).

They see our Congress continue to allow a private entity (the Federal Reserve) control our money-system (violation of Article I Section 8).

They even see our President threaten to create new amendments that are in direct violation of amendments that already exist, such as an amendment to outlaw flag burning (violation of Amendment I) or an amendment to make gay marriage illegal (violation of Amendment IX).

Powers not delegated to the federal government are also failing to be reserved to state governments or the people, with such issues as affirmative action, education, and health care (violation of Amendment X), among many others.

Those are only a few examples. The list of blatant disregard for the Constitution goes on.

Young people are more recently exposed to the Constitution than many adults are, since they are in the midst of learning about it in school and college, and they not only see our federal government tossing it out the window, they also see a group of 2008 Democratic and Republican presidential candidates (some of whom have been responsible for what I mentioned above) whose policies do not reflect the Constitution, with the exception of Rep./Dr. Ron Paul.

Ron Paul is the only candidate who stands out as one who bases all of his decisions on the Constitution and his over-a-decade-long voting record proves it to anyone who wants to see for themselves. Ron Paul respects states rights and the freedom that comes with 50 different possibilities of levels and types of government, all living under the same roof of protection and justice.

When the younger generation sees Ron Paul cut short by the mainstream media and ridiculed by a large portion of older voters as being "nuts", "loony", or "wacko", they wonder when it became "nuts", "loony", or "wacko" to respect the Constitution and limited federal government, especially after they have been taught to do exactly that.

We expect our kids to learn the Constitution, to value limited federal government, and to understand how multiple states can provide us with multiple possibilities, and then we wonder why so many of them strongly support Ron Paul, the only candidate who actually pays attention to any of those things.

Those of us who are older would do well to remember what we expect our children to learn and to start practicing what we preach.

It's a Free Country!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Phrase

We've all heard the phrase before, at least most of us who are over the age of 25. In fact, those of us over the age of 25 used to hear it all the time. I can personally vouch for that. What phrase am I talking about?

One that I used to hear frequently and randomly dropped as a remark or comeback in a conversation: "It's a Free Country!"

I remember people used to say it all the time. It was the standard response when someone would make a remark about something that they refused to tolerate, forgetting what country they lived in...the USA.

Ever notice that you seldom hear it now? I've noticed.

I don't remember the last time I actually heard someone use that term as a response. Frankly, I think that means something. I think there's a reason why we seldom hear people say it and I don't think it's because the phrase was just a fad since long faded out.

It's easy to assume that perhaps I am worrying about nothing. But if you live in the USA, take a good look around you. Take a good look at what the evening news shows us every night. Take a good look at what the newspapers say. Take a good look at what's on the Internet. Take a good look at our Constitution and the limited federal government it designs. And for those of you living outside of the USA, take a look yourself because the same fate is heading your way, if it's not already there.

We're losing freedoms left and right, by the Left and Right. If our federal government isn't squashing our economic freedoms one by one, their trying to obliterate our social freedoms. And they have no business doing either. Such things are to be left to the states. When left to the states, we have exactly (by today's standards) 50 possible variations of government to choose from. But that can't happen when the federal government controls too much, which is why the Constitution limits its power.

Back when the states could provide us with more freedom of choice, we could easily say "It's a free country", because if you didn't like the way things were in one state, you could always carry your ass to a different one and live the way you wanted to live there. But if the federal government controls too much, it doesn't matter what state you live in because too much power at the federal level makes all of the states nearly the same.

I never hear "It's a free country" anymore. I think that's because we are heading in the direction of no longer being a free country of united states. Sure, sometimes we take a few steps forward, but we always end up taking a few steps back.

I think it's time to reverse that trend. It's time to bring back that famous phrase which many of us know and love and use it vigorously! Perhaps part of the reason why we often lose site of the freedom we are supposed to have is simply because people stopped saying that phrase on a regular basis. Or, maybe we just became too apathetic and let our freedoms erode.

Either way, we need to start saying it again. This blog is a dedication to repeating the phrase, "It's a free country," whenever you can. The more people that say it and the more often they say it, the more it will happen, and the more we will be a free country. I think a lot of people simply need to be reminded of this simple fact that we are, in fact, supposed to be a free country.

This message is for those of you on the outside of America, as well, because that is how American freedom is supposed to spread through the world...not by the barrel of a gun, but by EXAMPLE (more to come on this later).

I plan to start using "It's a free country" in my everyday speech, talking to people on the street, on the phone, in email, and most certainly on this blog. And, I'll be pointing out facts and opinions that give meaning to that phrase. Some of you might not agree with the various points I will make regarding freedom, but that's okay:

It's a Free Country!