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.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Veteran's Day Speech

I gave this speech on Veteran's Day 2010.  I just finished reading Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose and wanted to post something to recognize our Veteran's  and I thought of this.  I hope you will read it and remember our Veterans and maybe post a comment in support of them.  Thanks.

Veteran's Day Speech

Fort Gibson School Assembly
November 11, 2010

Good Morning. It's an honor to be here with you this morning. The last time I spoke to a group in this building it was for the celebratory occasion we call graduation, ... for the Class of 1989. The occasion that brings us together today is of a more solemn character. That occasion, as you are aware, is the observance of Veteran's Day. Veteran's Day, which started out as Armistice Day, the day that the Armistice Agreement that ended the bloodbath now known as World War I was signed. Since that time the day has become Veteran's Day and is now observed in remembrance of all Veterans who have served the United States in the defense of Liberty.

Liberty, a term we have all heard and casually used but which has a power to move men to do extraordinary things. In 1775 Patrick Henry made a speech before the Continental Congress which he concluded with the words, "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" So why is liberty so important? Why would a man make a statement like, "give me liberty or give me death!" Why would men fight and die to defend liberty? I submit to you today that it is because they truly believe and understand that liberty is worth the price. The freedom to decided for yourself what you will become and to achieve anything that your talent and determination make possible. To live without the encumbering bonds of a tyrannical government or dictator.

These are the core values that motivate people to enlist in the Armed Forces and dedicate years of their lives maybe even their lives if called upon to do so to defend the United States and the liberty and freedom that she embodies. When John F. Kennedy said, "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty." He knew that it would be men and women who were willing to commit themselves fully to the preservation of freedom who would actually fulfill such an audacious promise.

Men and women, who give without expecting anything in return. They write a blank check to the United States of America and they back it with their lives if necessary. And when the task is done, the ones who survive go back to their homes and they raise their families and do their jobs and they live next door to us and we don't even know their stories. Take for example PFC Toby Braveboy from Coward, SC. Private First Class Toby Braveboy was a Creek Indian with Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th US Cavalry. On November 17, 1965 PFC Braveboy was walking point for 1st platoon in the Ia Drang Valley of Vietnam when the first shots of what turned into a three day battle rang out and Toby was shot in the left hand and thigh and his M-16 rifle was destroyed. Weaponless and in extreme pain he crawled into thick brush and hid. When night fell he left his hiding place and started trying to find his way back. He quickly ran into 3 more wounded American soldiers. They're wounds were too severe for them to crawl so Toby set out again to try and find help. He soon came upon more wounded American soldiers just as they were discovered by a Vietnamese patrol. Toby was already covered in blood so he played dead and was taken for dead by the Vietnamese soldiers who over the next few hours executed the other wounded American soldiers. Finally when the Vietnamese patrol moved on Toby set out again, but by now he was totally disoriented and he crawled through tall elephant grass toward what he though was his company but he was going in the wrong direction. At daybreak the next day he hid in the underbrush along side the Ia Drang river. Still bleeding from his left hand and continually tortured by mosquitoes, ants and the chill of the night air he stayed hidden until on November 22 a Vietnamese patrol was passing by very near to his hiding place and the last soldier in the column just happened to look into the brush and see him. Toby later recounted, "Four walked by me and the last one looked me right in the eye. He stopped and pointed his rifle at me. I raised my wounded hand and shook my head no. He lowered his rifle and walked away. So young. He was just a boy, not more than sixteen or seventeen." Two days later the US Air Force began bombing the area around where Toby was hiding. Desperate, he wrapped his shirt around his hand that had already begun to develop gangrene and staggered out into a clearing to try and flag an American plane or helicopter. A helicopter pilot saw him and he was rescued, seven days after he was shot. The local newspaper in Coward, SC had already run his obituary, but he had survived and he was honorably discharged from the Army and returned to his hometown where he went to work as a roofer.

There are veteran's like Private Braveboy who's stories we will never know in every small town and every big city in this country. They don't ask for recognition for what they do, they put their medals in a drawer and they cover their scars and they go about their lives and we remain unaware of the heroes among us. But once a year, we dedicate a day to recognize the Veterans living and dead who served and fought to defend liberty. We can never repay the debt we owe to them and they wouldn't allow it if we could so we just set aside this solemn day, we dedicate some time and we say Thank You. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you and God bless you and God bless America.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Position on Federal Grants - Practical or Principle

As mayor of a small town I regularly make decisions about applications for federal government grants.  I have long struggled with whether or not to stand on principle and oppose the application for federal grants or go with the practical wisdom and make the application on the basis that if we don't get that money someone else will.  I took me a couple of years to arrive at the following conclusion.

I was elected to represent and serve the best interest of the people of Fort Gibson, OK.  So I apply for the grant programs because that serves my town.  My refusal to make that application only hurts the people of my town.  The Congressmen and Senators, who created the unconstitutional grant program, take no note of my refusal so I have had no positive effect on federal government policy.

I am also a United States Citizen and patriot so I have an obligation to speak out against these federal grant programs that are typically beyond the constitutional scope of federal government.  It is this type of spending that is bankrupting the United States and gradually eroding the sovereignty of our state and local governments.  When the federal government gives us money it always comes with strings attached.

So my conclusion may seem to be hypocritical and strict constitutionalists may argue that I should refuse to paticipate in such programs on the basis of principle but I have found that sometimes the practical trumps the principle. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Basic Principle - Natural Rights

Principle: Natural Rights. I believe that all human beings have inherent natural rights bestowed upon them by their creator which are inalienable. Natural rights are those rights we are born with. We are endowed with these rights by our creator or by virtue of our humanity. These rights are inherent to our being. What are these natural rights? Thomas Jefferson succinctly listed them as the right to life, liberty and property.

Life: We have a right to live.  Our life is our own and we have a right to live it according to our own will as long as we do not infringe on the natural rights of others.  This does not mean that we have a right to the sustenance of our life, that we have to earn, but our right to our life cannot be denied.

Liberty:  We have a right to liberty.  We have a right to do as we please as long we do not infringe upon the rights of other people. Liberty is the freedom to act according to our own free will without undue coercion or restraint.

Property: We have a right to own property.  The right to property means that we can retain the fruits of our labor and enjoy the benefits of the property that we are able to acquire through our own enterprise.

I believe in the concept of natural rights because I believe in the innate value of each and every human being.  God created men to be free, to achieve, to create, to build, to risk and to love.  These natural rights are what allow us to freely work to reach our potential. They are what make us human.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What's Going on in Fort Gibson, OK - March 2011

Thought I would write a post with an update on what's going on in the Town of Fort Gibson.

1.  The ODOT Downtown Enhancement Project is underway.  This project will replace downtown sidewalks, curbs and lighting with new more decorative sidewalks and light fixtures.  Should take about 5 months.
2.  The Town is working to raise money through grants and in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce to do a complete renovation of the Firemen's Park behind the post office.  The new park will include a splashpad, skatepark and new playground equipment.
3.  The state and county are preparing plans to replace the old bridge across the Grand River down by the fort.
4.  The Historical Society got a grant to do major renovations at the fort including building new restrooms and having an educational video of the history of the fort made.  This work should start within a year.
5.  The Town is in the process of getting DEQ approval of a new type of aeration system for the sewer plant that will save thousands of dollars a year in energy costs.
6.  There is an election in April for three of the members of the Board of Trustees and the Town Clerk.
7.  There is a project in the works to improve drainage and build sidewalks on Wiley Road from Poplar to the high school baseball field.
These are just a few of the things going on in Fort Gibson that you may not have heard about.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Gov't Regulated Citizen

My FCC regulated alarm clock goes off and I reluctantly roll off of my FTC and state gov't regulated mattress. I stumble to the bathroom and turn on the DOE regulated showerhead which is what really wakes me up. In the shower, I wash my hair with my FDA regulated shampoo which conveniently has a "Drug Facts" label on the back so I know what I am putting on my head. After the shower I get dressed and pickup my FCC regulated cellphone and head to my DOT regulated truck. On the way to work I stop and fill the truck up with DOE regulated gasoline, which I hope doesn't contain ethanol as I really like my truck. Next, I stop at the local diner and have some FDA regulated bacon and eggs. When I get to work my first task is to spend a couple of hours trying to figure out if we are properly following a particular OSHA safety requirement and then I review the Certified Payroll Reports required by the Davis Bacon Act before I spend some more time updating our labor burden calculator which is complicated by the fact that businesses are required to be tax collectors for the IRS. And that gets me to noon and lunch.

What follows will have to be presented in a subsequent blog, but this might be enough to make the point that government intrusion into our lives is extensive and generally in violation of the limited powers granted to the federal gov't by Article I of the US Constitution. Most of these have been allowed by the courts based on a VERY liberal interpretation of the commerce clause. Until we reverse this trend, we will continue to see our standard of living decrease and we will continue to struggle to compete in a global economy where the competition doesn't suffer from these burdensome regulatory requirements.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Congresssman Dan Boren Town Hall Meeting

I attended Congressman Boren's Town Hall Meeting at Bacone College in Muskogee this week. I did not vote for Mr. Boren but I was none the less impressed with his presentation at the meeting. He did an admirable job of explaining where the federal gov't revenue comes from and where it goes. He also demonstrated quite clearly why we have such enormous budget deficits. He was very clear that gov't spending will have to be reduced in order to ensure a prosperous future for our nation. While he did a good job of presenting the problems facing our nation he fell far short of proposing any real solutions. The gov't cuts that he said he supports would hardly put a dent in the overall budget deficit.

I was disappointed that he never questioned the constitutionality of any of the programs that the federal gov't spends money on. But the most disappointing part of the meeting was the question and answer period. After the Congressman had spent 45 minutes explaining that we have to cut spending to survive one person after another got up and asked for continued financial support of their particular program or agency. This is why gov't continues to grow and cannot resist the urge to increase spending even when there is no money left. A man who tells his constituents that, "We cannot afford that" or worse yet, "The gov't is not constitutionally empowered to do that" will not get elected or re-elected.

We must return to constitutionally limited gov't or we will fail. We will collapse from within, the weight of our own gov't will be more than we can carry. We must educate our population. We need to understand that we are not a democracy. We are a constitutional republic with democratically elected representation. It has been said that, "A democracy cannot last, for as soon as they people realize they can vote themselves money from the public treasury their greed will kill it." This is why we must get back to the constitutional republic that our founding fathers gave us.

So, while I was pleased to see that Congressman Boren has a good grasp of the problems we face, I think we need to look for a statesman that understands why we need the limited gov't that the founding fathers invisioned.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Limited Government

Limited Government seems like a long lost dream these days. The federal government has become so incredibly bloated and invades every part of our lives so extensively that it seems the "genie" can never be put back in the bottle. So the question is, can the size of government be reduced in any meaningful way? Probably not without major disruption to our way of life. As we've seen in Wisconsin over the last couple of weeks, the people who benefit from bigger government are not going to be willing to give it up without a fight. But, the day is going to come and in many ways is already here when the producers can no longer pay the bills. What can we do. Begin by voting ONLY for candidates who promise to reduce the size of government at all levels. Second, contact your current Representatives and Senators and encourage them to vote to reduce government. We have to reduce ALL of government, nothing is sacred. Current wisdom seems to indicate that if all government spending was eliminated except for Social Security and Medicare we still are in a deficit situation. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS BROKE! The spending has got to stop no matter how "worthy" the cause may seem. Third, be prepared for the time when civil disobedience becomes necessary. The Founding Fathers were the perfect examples of civil disobedience which of course evolved into a war because of the response of the despotic government which they felt compelled to "throw off" at risk to their lives, fortunes and sacred honor. We may be able to turn things back peacefully but the possibilities of that diminish with each passing day that the government continues to grow and deny its citizens their natural rights. The time to act is now. GET INVOLVED!!!