For the Children

Today, in these United States, childhood suffering takes many forms: not having constantly new $120 athletic shoes when feet are growing a size every 4 months, mowing the lawn on Saturday, sitting in the truck with the windows down instead of having the engine running with the A/C going full blast, and the list goes on.

These are is the good (that is, useful) kinds of suffering. The kinds that bring knowledge and wisdom to those who pay attention. But, but, you say “Aren’t we supposed to be happy instead of suffering? After all, this is America!”

Apparently, there are many who agree with you:

On the East Coast, affluent parents of bright children explain that they absolutely must live in the best possible school district, and send their kid to the most prestigious possible college. In “flyover country,” parents explain that they have to have a nice new car for the kids, because safety. Also a bevy of very expensive activities, from travel sports to marching band, because otherwise their lives will be blighted. Auto accidents are declining, and bright, motivated kids are probably going to do OK no matter where they go to school. Yet parents can convince themselves to spend near-infinite amounts seeking marginal improvements.

Good intentions, anyone? Sigh.

Crushed in Carolina

That people disagree should come as no surprise. That the side with, literally, most of the power would use a false argument (backed by massive threat) to force compliance is a sign that of, by, and for is mostly history.

One reliable way to quash dissent and force moral codes on others is to liken your cause to that of the civil rights fight. Every liberal issue is situated somewhere on the great historical arc of “equality” and “justice.” If a person stands against even one of these causes—which were once great but are increasingly trivial—they have, according to the cultural imperialists of the Obama administration, aligned themselves with the Klan. Literally.

Bookworm Headed Upstream

In keeping with my thoughts from the other day, blogger Bookworm notes that:

We principled small, constitutional government conservatives can whine about the unfairness of it all, and about Trump’s despicable character, and about all sorts of other stuff, but the reality is that Americans have been indoctrinated to a level of ignorance that makes it impossible for a reasonable majority to understand Ted Cruz’s small government, constitutional conservativism. He is a prophet, but the people are deaf to his entreaties.

The answer to America’s woes doesn’t lie in the White House. It lies in the schools, and the movies, and the television shows, and the toys, and the universities. Ignore the White House. Turn your focus and your fire on the culture.

Aye, aye.

Hard to See How Venezuela Is Going to Make It

Things have become really, really bad in Venezuela. To any who might say “well, we wouldn’t have socialism like they do because they have a dictator and we would have Grandpa Bernie” remember that the end point of socialism is always rule by the very few (oligarchy) or by a dictator. After all, when people don’t voluntarily do things which are not in their best economic interest, the experts must have the force of the state behind them to constrain people to do those things which are not in their best economic interest.

Redirecting My Efforts

I realize that this space has been silent for the space of more than three months. After posting on some South Dakota budgetary matters, I realized that my heart wasn’t in it. Oh, I enjoyed going through the material and doing a brief analysis, but it didn’t seem to be of much value, either to me or anyone else who might have come across it. As I have personally come to know in a most visceral fashion, life is too brief to spend on matters of little consequence.

Being human, however, I fully admit to having regular trouble knowing the difference between those things which are important and those things which are not. And, I’m fully aware that importance is relative. As an example, being told that a medical procedure will cost me many thousands of dollars, but could arrest my life-threatening cancer — well, the cost is of secondary importance, and by secondary, I mean it came it at 2 on the scale of 0 to 9. 🙂 On the other hand, being told that continued quarterly checkups post-cancer will also cost me thousands of dollars, the cost itself ranks more importantly at present than the spectre of recurrent cancer, if only because one has to budget for these things more carefully now that the immediate crisis is past.

Where was I? Oh yes, matters of consequence.

As Andrew Breitbart has noted “Politics is downstream from culture.” Given that, the recent elevation of a bombastic blowhard to contention for the position of the President of the United states should tell us something about the culture. Having as his competition in the general election either a truth-challenged socialist-light, or a full-on socialist who still seems to believe that everything will work out if he can help us do socialism the “right way” this time should also tell us something about the culture. The list goes on, but the bottom line is would seem to be that we (conservatives) may be able to do some small good fighting a rearguard action at the political level, but the return on our efforts is much greater the further upstream we can go.

I don’t yet know in detail how I’ll turn my writing in that direction, but that is what I believe I should do. Does this mean that I’ll put forth dry and boring pieces on things like how little Johnny can understand the principles of capitalism by proper explication of the themes in The Velveteen Rabbit? I sincerely hope not. I do, after all, have to live with myself–and my family. At the same time, there is much that can be learned from rabbits–velveteen or furred, as the case may be.

But before I go, if culture is upstream of politics, then what is upstream from culture? I believe that the answer is the individual, and ultimately the heart (spiritually speaking) of the individual. Solomon addresses it here:

Keep (protect) your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

Czech out those Finns!

I know, I know. But it’s been at least a 4 hours since my last pun. In truth, this isn’t at all funny. It would seem that the EU is all in favor of making it hard for criminals to get firearms, though the firearms used in the recent terror attacks in France were not acquired legally, to the best of my knowledge. Nonetheless, the EU unwilling to let facts get in the way of passing more laws:

Europe is trying to make it harder for weapons to end up in the hands of terrorists. Hence, the European Commission’s November 18 call for a stronger coordinated European approach to control the use of weapons and fight against the trafficking of firearms.

The Commission proposes amending the EU Firearms Directive to make it more difficult to acquire firearms in the Member States. The EU Firearms Directive defines the rules under which private persons can acquire and possess weapons, as well as the transfer of firearms to another EU country.

Remember, the Second Amendment to the US Constitution came about because of a precursor to the EU Firearms Directive (aka King George).

However two countries, Finland and the Czech Republic, oppose the stricter measures, arguing that their unique national policy would be detrimentally affected as a result.

“We support the directive, but we have a national defence-related concern that should be resolved over the course of the process,” said Finland’s Interior Minister Petteri Orpo after the November 20 meeting in Brussels.

Finland and the Czech Republic have both submitted their reservations about the proposed amendments to the EU. The Czech Republic has a long history of permissive gun control, permitting citizens to carry a concealed weapon for self-defense.

Sweden has also said it would have difficulty accepting a decision that would limit the kinds of firearms people can use for hunting, a concern Finland also shares.

Finland is known for Sako, maker of Sako and Tikka firearms. The Czech Republic is known for CZ. I don’t currently own any Sako made weapons, but I do have a CZ or so. In light of this, I believe it would be good to invest in some Finnish hardware.

Despite what these two countries may do, the truth is that such a move is likely to cause some EU residents to feel safer, but it will do nothing to actually make anyone safer. Stopping the transplantation of the goodly portion of the Middle East population to the EU would actually increase safety, but doing that would require far more work by the EU leadership–work which it is currently unable to countenance.

Pearl Harbor Plus 74 Years

Today’s remembrance feels a bit different since I realize that my birth is further away from today than the attack on Pearl Harbor was from my birth. In truth, it changes nothing, but the realization somehow makes it seem not so far away and long ago. For years the black-and-white films of the era made it seem of another time, but that difference no longer seems as stark to me. Then again, I could just be getting older and more maudlin.

George Washington brings us the following well aged wisdom:

Among the many interesting objects which will engage your attention, that of providing for the common defence will merit particular regard. To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.

History. It’s not just for old dead white guys.

Brazilians Getting Back to Principles?

One might say that the right to protect one’s person and property is a right that’s been around as long as humankind. Here in the US, we’ve got a variety of perspectives on what that means. Of course, most of us don’t live in areas where the probability of uninvited guests is an increasing problem.

Though Brazil has come into the modern age via a differnet path than the United States, some of the leadership there are thinking that it might not be so bad to adopt some of what makes us different:

Congressmen in Brazil, one of the most violent countries in the world, are proposing to dramatically loosen restrictions on personal gun ownership, bringing the country much closer to the American right to bear arms.

The politicians say the measures are necessary to allow embattled citizens the right to defend themselves from criminals armed with illegal weapons.

And the article goes on to provide the arguments from the other side which pretty much come down to the final paragraph:

 José Mariano Beltrame, the state security secretary in Rio de Janeiro who is charge of implementing an ongoing plan to “pacify” the city’s favela communities [said] “We need to disarm the bandits not arm the people,” he says in an emailed statement. “I hope congress will have a little more clarity and rationality and we can prevent this law from passing.”

Herein lies the problem. Many decades of outlawing guns in Brazil have not changed the reality that Brazil has a horrendous murder rate. “Bandits” are not going to be disarmed short of imposing a police state. And, in the event that such were to occur, the state would probably be no better than the bandits which are the current bogeyman.

No, allowing everyday people to be legally armed will not solve the crime issue in Brazil overnight, or even over-decade. But it will allow people who are currently living in fear to assume personal responsibility for their own protection. That would seem, all other data aside, to be something worth doing.

Veteran’s Day 2015

According to the VA, there are about 72,000 veterans here in South Dakota. Out of a population of 850,000, that would mean that roughly 1 in every 12 people is a military veteran.

If you are like me, you probably interacted with at least a dozen people today, if not several dozen. Chances are there were veterans among them. It may surprise you to know that veterans are real people, too, usually indistinguishable from the general population. For every Zamperini, whose story has become known around the world, there were scores of men and women who simply did their duty with minimal grousing, bore up under difficult circumstances, and thanked God when the war or their deployment ended and they were able to return home.

And, while it’s common practice to thank a veteran on Veteran’s day, you’re free to thank them when you see them, whatever day that might be.

To any veterans reading this, I will likely never understand the sacrifices you have made and the scars which you forever bear, but that only increases my gratefulness. May God bless your present and your future.

ShowMe The Money

The last few days have been challenging for the man who was the figurehead of the University of Missouri. I say “figurehead” because I’m not certain he had much power, based on what the curators have decided to do:

Missouri’s Board of Curators also announced Monday it would appoint a systemwide chief diversity, inclusion and equity officer, offer additional support for students and staff who experience discrimination and create a diversity and inclusion task force. It also mandated diversity, inclusion and equity training for faculty, staff and future students at the Columbia campus.

“Diversity, inclusion, and equity.” One wonders if anyone realizes that this person will be the DIE Officer?

It would seem that President Tim Wolfe was penalized for 1) failure to wholeheartedly support those who held up Michael Brown’s demise as a cause célèbre, 2) a failure to see certain incidents on campus as being indicative of systemic racism, and 3) a failure to understand that if a person goes on a hunger strike, one is supposed to give in to those demands, because, well, the children.

Leaving aside such failures (or perceived failures–it matters little now, seeing that Mr. Wolfe is already at the door), does not this whole kerfuffle really come down money? After all, when it comes to removing the president under this set of circumstances, cui bono?

According to this article on recent earnings and expenses, the U of M athletic program brought in $83.7 million in 2014. That’s quite a bit of coin, even for Mizzou.

One might think that the job of the curators was to support the mission of the University system:

Our distinct mission, as Missouri’s only state-supported member of the Association of American Universities, is to provide all Missourians the benefits of a world-class research university. We are stewards and builders of a priceless state resource, a unique physical infrastructure and scholarly environment in which our tightly interlocked missions of teaching, research, service and economic development work together on behalf of all citizens. Students work side by side with some of the world’s best faculty to advance the arts and humanities, the sciences and the professions. Scholarship and teaching are daily driven by a commitment to public service — the obligation to produce and disseminate knowledge that will improve the quality of life in the state, the nation and the world.

One would probably be wrong.

The job of the curators is to keep the University in the black. And, if the school attracts too much negative attention, well, ticket sales are going to fall off, recruiters will have a hard time filling slots with excellent athletes, and the University’s overall rankings and ratings will drop (at least in athletic terms). In the light of such dire possibilities, the curators determined that a bold move in the direction of “diversity, inclusion and equity” would trump a more traditional approach which would seek to uphold an “obligation to produce and disseminate knowledge will will improve the quality of life in the state, the nation and the world.”

In simple terms, the curators must needs destroy the University of Missouri in order to save it.

UPDATE

But the University of Missouri is not besieged by the Ku Klux Klan. It is besieged by hysteria. Hysteria needs to be stood up to, not cravenly fed with acquiescence.