Conflating Ideas

  1. Certain police officers behave inappropriately, often resulting in injury or death to civilians. There appears to be a lack of appropriate punishment, or no punishment at all, many times. Raising awareness through peaceful protests and social media can help change this systemic problem.
  2. All police are terrible and can’t be trusted. They do no good, only harm.

Above are two completely different ideas, although idea #2 often gets used as a straw man by those avoiding a substantive debate about idea #1. It’s much easier to dismiss the “all police are terrible” argument than it is to confront the difficult and sensitive reality that some of those sworn to serve and protect are doing neither.

To frame this in a way that should appeal to traditional conservatives and Republicans, police are as “big government” as it gets. We give them the ultimate authority to use lethal force, with zero due process. What is more big government than saying “these people can take your life if they deem necessary”? With this authority comes an intense responsibility not to abuse it. Being that police officers are human, they’re going to make mistakes and abuse this authority or intentionally abuse this authority. At the very least, they should be relieved of their duties as a police officer and find another career. In egregious cases, they should face a court of law like any ordinary civilian would.

Ultimately this comes down to a balance. Some extra latitude should rightly be given to police officers because they are occupying a unique position. But that doesn’t mean infinite latitude. The productive debate to have is whether the pendulum has swung too far (it has) in favor of law enforcement, and how to fix it.

The challenge is knocking down the straw man. It doesn’t help when there are a good number of people screaming “all police are terrible” and acting out their aggression. Those who believe law enforcement deserves no scrutiny avoid a debate by lumping everyone else in with criminals. It is dishonest, but effective.


Is Obama really the problem?

The State of The Union speech was entirely authoritarian, central-planning rhetoric. Like many continue to note, it was full of policy prescriptions that undoubtedly would make our founders roll over in their graves. Consequently, “Obama Derangement Syndrome” is again exacerbated. But does getting more furious with our current president do anything constructive?

Like it or not, Obama is president until 2016. Criticizing him personally will not change that, nor will it make any difference in 2016 when others are running for president. Think about it. When Hillary Clinton wins the nomination for the Democrats, Barack Obama’s reputation will have no bearing on her success. They are unique “political rock stars”, even though they are both members of the Democratic Party.

Too much energy is being spent trying to bring down Obama personally, rather than bringing down the ideology that has become mainstream. A president just announced to the country that separation of powers is no more, and that the executive branch will now make laws as well as execute them. Too many people are now open to the government working this way. That is the problem, not Obama. There have always been individuals like Obama, and there will always be individuals like Obama. The people are supposed to be wise enough to reject the notion of having a king.

Is the tide turning?

Today a House Oversight Committee will hear testimony from three whistleblowers concerning the Obama administration’s handling of the U.S. consulate attack in Libya last year. Particular scrutiny is being placed on Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State.

Many Republicans are charging that Sec. Clinton played a role in preventing an adequate defensive response when the attack began, and subsequently directing a misinformation campaign after the attack.

While the goal of many will be to destroy the future political aspirations of Hillary Clinton and bring down Obama along the way, there should be more that we care about. There is a possibility that the attacked consulate played a role in funneling weapons to Syrian rebels by way of Turkey. These rebels likely include Al-Qaeda. The CIA and other government agencies profess that they take care not to let weapons get in the hands of the “wrong” rebels. Chances of that being successful? Slim. And that opens another can of worms that you can follow. But long story short, it’s clear that when we meddle in complex foreign conflicts thousands of miles away there are situations that upset certain groups. As a result,  blowback is possible.

Clinton has so far deflected all questions concerning the possible weapons-transfer program and cover-up, but hopefully this once again becomes front and center. If the public at large becomes aware of this, the opportunity will present itself to change our foreign policy from one of interventionist meddling and perpetual war to one of peace and prosperity. If we do not change we will continue to become poorer and also suffer from violent retaliation at home and abroad, left with the absurd explanations that we are poor because “the rich don’t pay their fair share” and we are attacked because “they hate us for being free and wealthy”.


There’s a great opportunity in the latest buzz over same-sex marriage. It’s an opportunity to advance the idea that government is a necessary evil, but should be very limited.

First, the conversation must be altered. People are being forced to pick their side. It’s generally been a binary choice: either you are FOR or you are AGAINST. Like so many things we argue about, it doesn’t have to be that way.

It is entirely reasonable, and I’d argue correct, to personally have either belief but remain indifferent to whether others are legally obliged to follow what you believe.

This is the ultimate limited-government view. Individuals should be free to do what they want as long as it doesn’t affect the rights of other individuals. In general, that means as long as you aren’t committing violence against someone, affecting their property, committing fraud, or failing to uphold your end of a contract, you should be free from government coercion. It’s a very clear, consistent, and simple way to restrain the government.

Opening people’s minds to this idea in regards to this issue is an avenue towards applying it to other issues, as well. This addresses the problem of inconsistency. Many people claim to be small-government warriors but in reality they pick and choose where they want small government and where they want big government. It would do all of us good to think about what consistent, across-the-board small government would look like. Overwhelmingly, it has the potential to once again become a popular idea.

There is likely hesitation when each individual thinks about what would change if the government removed itself from certain things that are perceived as beneficial. But when you look at the big picture, I’d bet that each person would find many more positives than sacrifices.

Can you call something a law if following it is optional?

The John Kerry confirmation hearing provided an interesting discussion between Senator Kerry & Senator Rand Paul (watch it here). A big part of the discussion centered around the executive branch’s past and present history of going to war without the consent of Congress. Kerry talked about his support for presidents unilaterally going to war in some cases but not in others.

His explanation exposed a trick that politicians frequently use. When Kerry believes that the United States military should not engage in a conflict that a president is attempting to start unilaterally, he cites the law of the land. When Kerry believes a president should unilaterally begin an attack, the law of the land should not apply when the circumstances are (subjectively) sufficient.

Kerry exploits the Constitution when it is convenient. But he exposes that he really has no respect for the law by picking and choosing when to follow it and when to cast it aside. He believes that through persuasion the law should be subvertible. This is a great example of the difference between respecting “rule of law” or “rule of man”. If laws are optional depending on the persuasion of governing individuals, then we are really not a nation of laws. We are instead at the mercy of the political whims of an unconstrained government. Historically this brings terrible consequences, and we should be knowledgeable enough to reject it.


Violence and government

Gun control laws have become more strict throughout our history. Meanwhile, beginning with Columbine in 1999 there has been an alarming number of mass shootings. This contradiction should make us think deeper about what is going on.

We have a morality problem in this country. It has been growing for decades.

Does the government have a role in this problem? Government is not responsible for our morality. It simply cannot legislate morality, even though it tries. We have countless examples that prove this. But it is possible that government is unintentionally making us immoral.

As the government has evolved and expanded its influence and power it regularly participates in unnecessary violence.

People are arrested, jailed, harassed, spied on, harmed, and sometimes killed every day because of the “war on drugs”. In many cases these people have harmed nobody else or are completely innocent. Yet, we accept this because of the insistence that we are being protected. Meanwhile, drug use has not been diminished.

Innocent bystanders are injured and killed every day because of the interventionist “war on terror”. Exact numbers are unverifiable, but likely hundreds of children have died as a result of drone strikes in far away lands. It is very odd that we seem to not be bothered by this. At least not bothered enough to do something about it.

Could it be that those who have carried out these recent mass shootings have been desensitized because of what they have been observing? Guns have always been around. Gun laws in fact have been much more lenient or essentially non-existent in our past. Mental illness has always been a part of human life. We have progressively become better at identifying and treating the disease. It simply does not add up that we have failed to properly control guns or treat mental illness.

It is up to us as individuals to fix our morality problem. It’s also our responsibility to make sure our government is not a violent one that unknowingly provides a terrible example to those lacking sufficient morals.

Tax Insanity

The tax debate has reached a comically insane level. The proponents of “soaking the rich” argue that the economy will grow if the government can get its hands on more dollars. The justification soon revolves around tax rates under the Clinton years, the 1950’s and 1960’s, etc.

Needless to say those are flimsy, myopic, and incomplete arguments. Before even wasting time on disproving them, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. We are supposed to be wise enough to resist the idea that putting more of our resources and property in the hands of government will result in a more prosperous outcome. It is antithetical to a free society. It runs contrary to everything we should know about the economy.

The rhetoric about reducing our annual deficits and paying down the debt is pure fantasy. There is no real incentive or reason for our government to operate on a balanced budget while our currency is fiat. In fact, the exact reason why we have fiat currency instead of real money is so that the government can operate on a virtually infinite budget.

Maybe most important to understand is that raising top marginal tax rates will not soak the rich. The Warren Buffett’s of the world are insignificantly affected. Many that would be affected have the resources and lawyers to find ways around paying more, and it’s perfectly legal. Raising rates will impact the middle and upper-middle class. And because the mathematical reality is that raising rates will not increase revenue enough to even slightly put a dent in the deficit and debt, the poor will continue to lose the most because of inflation.