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.