Saturday, August 6, 2011

Candidate Selection

There is much discussion right now about who is going to run for Representative Dan Boren's seat in the Oklahoma 2nd Congressional District since Representative Boren has announced that he will not run for another term.  Both the Republican and Democratic parties will apparently have multiple candidates.  How does the average voter determine who is the best candidate?

I believe that voters should look for a candidate with a set of core or foundational principles.  Particularly for a candidate running for a US House or Senate seat those principles should be written and the candidate should know them by heart.  A candidate who is principled does not decide issues on a case by case basis and is not swayed by the expediency of the moment.

At this particular time in our country it is more important than ever to elect candidates whose principles are in line with the ideas upon which this country was founded.  A candidate should be familiar with the Founding Fathers and the ideas upon which they established this country.  He should be intimately familiar with the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and have a general knowledge of documents like the Federalist Papers.  He should have read John Locke, Thomas Paine, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Plato.  He should be familiar with the history of other Republics, particularly the Greek and Roman experiments with representative government and what brought about their downfall.

This sounds like a lot to expect but we, the American people, deserve no less.  Our children deserve no less.  Our decisions now about who to send to Washington to represent us will have a tremendous impact on our children's future, probably even more than our own. This has never been more important than it is now.  Our country is suffering under the crushing burden of an enormous debt that we must retire or it will be left to our children's generation to deal with.  It will take principled men and women to resolve this problem.

So, when you attend a candidate forum or read their comments in the newspaper look for the candidate that knows what his or her principles are.  What position to take on an issue will be simple for the candidate who is basing his decision on predefined principles.  He will be confident and direct in his response.  Many questions will be answered with a simple "yes" or "no" and a brief explanation of the principle that lead him to that position.  Long, convoluted, "politicial" answers will not be necessary.

You will know the right candidate when you see these traits.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Depth of Thought

Few people seek to understand.  Few people look for the answer to the question, "Why?".  Few people probe the depths of human nature and natural law to discover what is morally just.  Most rely on others to tell them and they trust what they are told or maybe they rebel against what they are told but they still don't look for the answers themselves.

Human nature produces this deficit of thought.  We would rather leave the work of in-depth thought to others and just trust their conclusions.  It's easier.

This is not a new problem. Throughout history this work has been left to a few inspired individuals who were willing to invest in the study or who had a desire to change the world around them through the introduction of new ideas for social management.  Some were good and some were bad.  They were able to wield such influence, whether for good or evil, because the people around them allowed it.

Today, the problem manifests itself in our society in the form of politicians who work only for self aggrandizement and a populace who continues to elect them even though they are producing an evil that will eventually cost that same populace their freedom and prosperity.  We vote for the politician who promises us a "free" solution to our immediate concern rather than a statesman who promises to create for us a free society where we are able to find our own solutions to our immediate concerns and work to provide for ourselves and our posterity.  We do this because we have not invested in the work of thought that would reveal to us the results of our current course. We don't teach our students how to think.  We don't read the works of the great minds that our Founding Fathers admired.  We don't study.  We are lazy and our idleness will be our ruin.

What can I do?  Read the work of John Locke, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Karl Marx, Ayn Rand, Plato, Marcus Aurelius, Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, DeTocqueville, The Holy Bible and other works of religion and philosphy and study what they say, look for the basis of their conclusions and see if you agree.  Try to be objective, invoke your personal observations but not so much your personal experiences.  They tend to compromise your objectivity.  We won't all arrive at the same conclusions but we will be better informed and better able to lead and ultimately build a better tomorrow for ourselves and our children.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Truth Shall Prevail

On Monday of this week an article appeared in the Muskogee Daily Phoenix in which I, along with another Fort Gibson Town Trustee, was accused of having illegally submitted a change order to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.  Now, first of all, let me say that this accusation is absolutely untrue.  The change order proposal was submitted to ODOT by the project engineer at the request of another Town Trustee.  I was not present at the time and only learned about it afterwards.  I certainly did not execute a change order without the Town Board of Trustees approval.  In fact, the change has still not been executed as of this writing.  So, the accusation was false but that is not the point of my writing.

The issue I want to address is the question of how to respond to a situation like this.  At first I was incensed that I had suffered public defamation of character and had thoughts of lawsuits and demands of a retraction by the newspaper and political revenge, but I have learned that it is always to best to be patient and let the better part of judgement have time to rise to the forefront.  I took no immediate action other than explaining the situation to people who directly asked me what was going on.  I am glad I delayed in my reaction.

I have arrived at the conclusion that not all accusations have to be refuted.  Especially not when they are politically motivated and have no basis in reality.  To make a vehement response to such an accusation only seems to give it credibility that it was previous lacking thus strengthening the public perception that there is some merit to the charge.  The accusers in a situation like this usually lack the confidence of the public they are trying to reach anyway.

I also realized that there has not been a single decision made since I became a member of the Fort Gibson Town Board of Trustees which would even tempt me, more less compel me, to do anything illegal or unethical.  My personal reputation, word and character are far more important to me than any political contrivance could ever be.  I am on the Board to serve the community of Fort Gibson to the best of my ability.  I have devoted many hours to researching and learning everything I can about the legal requirements, financial systems and governing principles associated with municipal government.  To that end, I feel that I have been quite successful.

In conclusion, I will not demand that the Muskogee Phoenix retract their article, nor will I sue the person who has falsely accused me.  I will instead devote that time to the work for which I was elected which is the governance of the Town of Fort Gibson.  I am grateful for the confidence of those who voted for me and hope that I can continue to serve their best interest and the best interest of the town as a whole for the next two years.  Fort Gibson is a great community and it is my honor to live and serve here.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Employers as Agents of the Government?

Why does a person who decides to go into business for themselves and hire employees automatically become an unpaid agent of the government?  All employers are required by to withhold taxes from their employees paychecks and submit the same to the government.  In almost all small businesses the employer is just an individual like any other but because he took the initiative to start a business he has to devote his time to seeing to it that other people's taxes get paid.  Now their is an movement in government to make employers responsible for determining whether an employee is an illegal alien or not.  If an employer hires an illegal alien, even if the employee submits all of the required paperwork, the employer will be held responsible.  If the employer suspects that a potential employee is illegal and refuses to hire him he can be sued for discrimination if it turns out the employee is legal.

Why does the burden of these government functions fall on the back of the employer?  Why do we allow the government to treat an individual who decides to employ other people different than everybody else?  In what way does this encourage hiring or employment?  As a nation we have become so accustomed to this way of doing things we have lost sight of the fact that it doesn't have to be this way.  Let's return to free enterprise, unencumbered by government regulation and interference.  Let's let the United States once again become the free nation that introduced freedom and free enterprise to a dark world.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Atlas Shrugged Movie - Get Involved

Atlas Shrugged Movie - Get Involved

Equal Opportunity Gives Way to Equal Outcomes

In the 234 year history of the United States of America there has been a major transition in what people expect from government.  At the conclusion of the Revolutionary War the 13 colonies had won their independence but now what to do with it?  They formed a Constitutional Convention to write a plan for governing this new nation.  They debated the best ways to form a limited government that allowed maximum freedom to the citizens.  They believed that the legitimate purpose of government was to protect the rights of the individual and they worked to establish a system of government that would serve that end.  They succeeded in creating something that the world had never seen before.

For the next 100 years immigrants flocked to this country because of the opportunity that it offered.  They understood that there were no guarantees and they didn't ask for any.  All they wanted was a chance.  They desired the freedom to dream, to attempt, to fail and try again.  Competition created winners and losers but everybody had the opportunity to try and live their dreams.  Some succeeded and some failed but all were free.  Our form of government guaranteed each man equal opportunity.

Then dawned the era of the Progressive movement.  A societal shift begin to transform the face of America.  The rugged individualism and sense of strict personal responsibility that defined the first century of life in the United States gave way to a dependence on government provision and an expectation of government intervention to protect us from the common pitfalls of life.  We gradually traded our freedom for a sense of security delivered by a government big enough and powerful enough to protect us from any catastrophe.

Now we have reached a point where we commonly accept the idea that it is a proper role of government to guarantee equal outcomes.  We blindly ignore that fact that in order to provide equal outcomes for all groups of people it is inherently necessary to deprive some groups the product of their industrious labors so that we can provide an equal benefit to groups who are less skilled, less motivated and subsequently less productive.

The end result of this transformation will be economic collapse and poverty for all.  It's happened before.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Measure of a Man's Life

What defines a man's life?  Is it the titles he holds, the wealth he accumulates or some other symbol of status that his contemporaries hold in high esteem?  Sometimes, but in the final measure of a man we find more than that.  As I remember my Grandfather, Dale Hill, I think that the measure of a man is in the legacy he leaves behind in family, friends and the good he has done for others.

A man's life contains so many events and experiences that it is impossible to compile into a few paragraphs or even an entire book the total of what made the man and what he contributed to his community.  In the case of my Grandpa he grew up in rural Oklahoma in the 1930s while the events that inspired the Grapes of Wrath were unfolding all across the state.  He served in the Navy Seabees in the South Pacific during World War II where he contracted malaria and suffered from appendicitis but always maintained that he didn't want any recognition for this service because so many gave so much more.  He returned from the war and started a family.  He worked hard to provide for his family but eventually found time to help start a church in Fort Gibson and begin missionary work in Mexico and Haiti.  His work in Haiti has transcended his own efforts because he had a firm belief in what could be accomplished there.

A man's life is measured by the mark he leaves on the time in which he lives.  If he leaves the people he influences better off for having known him then his presence has improved the lot of mankind.  So his measure can only really be made by those who knew him and who were effected by his presence.  While he never achieved fame or recognition beyond his own community the impact he had on those who knew him was profound.  I hope to live up to the measure that my Grandpa set.  If I can do that I know that I will the the world a better place than I found it.