Posted in business, change, Mike Baer's Blog, politics on December 27th, 2010 by michaelrbaer – Be the first to comment
Whether you are conservative or liberal, rich or poor doesn’t matter much for this conversation. I just want to ask you to think about America. Our home. Most of us from any philosophical or political stripe would agree on this—America is in trouble and appears to be in a stall if not a descent. My question is why? Here are some of my random thoughts. Maybe some will resonate with you.
- First, it’s not the politicians it’s the people. We love to berate them and criticize them and threaten to throw them out of office (and Lord knows they deserve it) but let’s not forget who put them there and who keeps putting them there. Us. You. Me.
- Deficit spending—whether for war or welfare, guns or butter. You can’t spend what you don’t have. It’s economic suicide. And while most everyone wants “cuts” no one wants their pet priority cut; cut somewhere else.
- The public is generally ignorant—of science, math, and most regrettably, history. Americans don’t know their own history and certainly don’t know the full story. A people with no sense of history have no hope of making good decisions about the future. Indeed, they may have no future.
- The public is constitutionally ignorant. Few have read it. Few believe in it. Few know what its purpose was and is. As a country we have cut the lines to our stable moorings and are adrift on a sea of international relativism—sailing with no compass other than our own opinions. This cannot end well.
- The public is ignorant of the thoughts of the Founders. We don’t know what they meant because we don’t know what they thought. We don’t know what they thought because Jon Stewart and Sean Hannity don’t quote Locke or Gladstone or Cicero. Who? Exactly.
- Tribalism is the organization of societies into gangs, bands, parties, groups, and clans who think and talk alike. America has become a very tribal country (much like Iraq, sub-Saharan Africa, Indonesia, and other 3rd world nations) accelerated by 4G technology.
- Inclusion and tolerance (once virtues) have become tsunamis of moral indifference and ethical confusion. Yes, Virginia, there are some things that are wrong.
- The ugly twin of extreme inclusion is political correctness. When we hesitate to wish someone a Merry Christmas or get blasted for rooting for the Braves (whose mascot insults “native Americans” something is stupidly wrong. People with thin skins need to grow up. I’m a bald, middle aged, Welsh-Scottish-German-Swiss-Jewish-Southern male. If I was as sensitive as some people you couldn’t say “good morning” to me without a perceived slur.
- Niche focused media (Fox, MSNBC, etc.) preach their brand of data and news to their own choir. I never have to listen to anything I don’t already agree with because I’ve got a remote—the ultimate arbiter of truth—and a “news channel” that feeds my opinions.
- Americans have short memories. 9/11 wasn’t even a decade ago. My dad fought in WWII. Some of us can remember segregated schools and bathrooms. It’s a good thing to remember and not live so much in the sound byte of the moment or the latest tweet.
- The rejection of American exceptionalism is anti-historical. Other than Israel, no country has a history or sense of destiny like America once had. Conservatives abuse this and make it into American superiority; liberals dismiss it as pipedreams and insulting to the world community.
- www.who-can-I-sue.com pretty much says it all.
- Washington has become the center of our universe. More change and goodness is possible locally than we could ever dream of in DC.
- Good hearted people have been duped into thinking that government can do a better job of helping those in need than their neighbors—you and me. As a result, no one gets help.
- Where did we get the idea that rights were dispensed by the government? Where did we come up with the idea of “group” rights—white rights, black rights, women’s rights, Latino rights, students’ rights, left’s rights, gay rights; isn’t it about individual rights as human beings? Respect for individual rights and dignity is the only antidote to the rise of tribalism.
- And finally, and I believe this to be the root of everything I’ve outlined, we refuse to honor God as God. America has gradually turned her back on true religion—the fear and worship of God and the humble serving of others—in favor of church attendance, mystic experiences in the forest, and fuzzy use of the word “spiritual.” No nation can long survive the abandonment of its God.
My purpose in writing this is not to add to the cacophony of political arguments in the US. In fact, I’m done with that. Instead, I’m going to concentrate my blogs, tweets, and other publications on three things: the presentation of true religion, the communication of positive, historical truth about America and the Constitution, and the sharing of stories of people around the country who are doing good. There are plenty of folks who can point out what’s wrong. By God’s grace, I’m resolving to focus on what’s right wherever I find it. I’m sure that many of my conservative friends will find things to disagree with; no doubt my liberal friends will also. I really don’t care. But if you want to dialogue on what’s true, and pure, and helpful, and praiseworthy, and good…then join in.
Posted in change, politics on October 6th, 2010 by michaelrbaer – Be the first to comment
This election is not about who cares MOST for the oppressed; it is about who cares BEST. I know of NO successful federal programs (let’s see, the War on Poverty is 45 years old and Washington is definitely losing); I know of MANY private and individual efforts that help the poor and create real jobs and personal dignity. If Obama’s program is right then why hasn’t it worked anywhere in the world; it’s not new: UK, Russia, Kazakstan, East Germany, Italy, ad nauseum. America is at it’s freest and most prosperous when government is the least involved.
Posted in business, change, small business on October 2nd, 2010 by michaelrbaer – Be the first to comment
My SEC team (Tenn) just got robbed of a clear victory. Robbed by the rules. Yep. They stopped LSU at the 1 yard line to win the game. As they ran off the field in exultation the referee signaled a penalty–too many UT players on the field. Granted one more play, LSU scored and won. All fair and all heartbreaking.
Some times good guys finish last. Sometimes you play by the rules and the rules cost you a win–a sale, a job, a contract, a profit. Nevertheless playing by the rules is the essence of ethics.
Posted in business, change, Free Enterprise, politics on September 18th, 2010 by michaelrbaer – Be the first to comment
A libertarian is a person – any person – who consistently advocates individual freedom and consistently opposes the initiation of the use of coercion by anyone upon the person or property of anyone else for any reason. (Coercion is here defined as any action taken by a human being against the will or without the permission of another human being with respect to his or her body or property. This includes murder, rape, kidnaping, assault, trespassing, burglary, robbery, arson and fraud.) Some libertarians (such as the late Robert LeFevre) not only oppose all forms of initiatory coercion, but also the use of retaliatory coercion (revenge or criminal justice). The vast majority of libertarians, however, maintain that physical force used in self-defense or defense of one’s family or property is fully justifiable.
But, all libertarians, by definition, at least oppose the initiatory use of coercion. They support the rational principle of the individual human rights of life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. This means that each individual has the right to keep what he earns for himself and his family, and this includes the right to use, trade, sell, give away, or dispose of his property as he sees fit. A person who violates the rights of others by initiating coercion, violence, or fraud against them forfeits his right to be left alone by government and may be arrested, charged, tried, and imprisoned, deported or executed if convicted (depending on the nature of his or her crimes). The basic, proper function of lawful government is therefore limited to protecting these rights of the peaceful individual from criminals and foreign aggression, and in not violating these rights itself, for if government is allowed to go beyond this legitimate function and itself initiates force in violation of the rights of peaceful citizens, it necessarily contradicts the only rational justification for its own existence by acting criminally itself.
Real libertarians take individual rights seriously – seriously enough to consistently uphold them against the initiation of the use of force by anyone (including government) for any reason. This means that government must be bound by the policy of “laissez faire” – which means that government has no business coercively interfering with the lives of peaceful (non-coercive) citizens in their private affairs and voluntary (market) relationships.
Libertarians may or may not approve of some of the things that some people may do in private or in voluntary relations, but whatever their own code of personal moral conduct is, they do not seek to ban any private or voluntary activities by the use of force, including the force of government action. To do so would be to violate the very principle of individual rights of person and property, and thereby undercut any rational argument in favor of freedom or defense of the free-market system. Those exception makers and outright coercive busy-bodies in our midst (referred to as “interventionists” or “statists” by libertarians) who do want to abandon government by principle and instead put Whim in charge of the use of legal coercion are the people who help set the stage for arbitrary and capricious governmental tyranny – leading in the direction of totalitarian dictatorship.
Libertarians Are Not Conservatives
Libertarians are not “conservatives”; libertarians are radicals (principled advocates) for individual freedom and responsibility – and the pure free-market private-enterprise economic system which would result from a consistent application of that principle. A “conservative” on the other hand is one who wishes to preserve the status quo. The status quo in America today is the semi-socialist, semi-fascist mixed-economy welfare-state – a system inimical to personal freedom and responsibility. Libertarians do not support such a system, and oppose any and all measures to expand it while favoring the total repeal of interventionist laws and regulatory agencies.
Conservatives of the William F. Buckley or William Bennett variety are generally more concerned with imposing “order” than with allowing freedom. Although they often (and rightly) complain that government has got “too big” and too meddlesome in our lives, on some specific issues they themselves favor using the political power of government to legislate and enforce their view of morality upon the populace in “the national interest” or for the “social good.” William Bennett, for example, opposes the legalization and/or decriminalization of the sale and use of heroin and cocaine, and he continues to support the no-win “War on Drugs” which is causing violence to escalate in our society. Libertarians, on the other hand, realize that “enforced morality” (in such personal matters) is a contradiction in terms; without freedom of choice there can be no moral responsibility and personal growth.
Libertarians also perceive that freedom brings about a more complex, dynamic and harmonious order in society (co-ordinated by the market price mechanism) than any static view of order imposed by central political planning and regulations of our non-coercive behaviors.
Libertarians are for individual freedom – and this includes the freedom of people to do some things that we and other people may disapprove of. A person should be free (from coercive interference) to do what he pleases with his own life and property, as long as he does not violate (through coercive interference) the same right of other peaceful persons to do what they want with their lives and properties. (The second clause is logically implied in the first.) Libertarians do not oppose non-coercive persuasion, educational efforts, private advertising campaigns, organized boycotts, or even social ostracism as means of trying to effect changes in the private behavior of others. (Many people have stopped smoking tobacco in recent years partly as a result of education and persuasion by friends and family members.) What libertarians do oppose is the attempt by anyone (individuals or government officials) to impose their own views of “fairness” or personal morality on others through the initiation of the use of coercion, by either personal violence or political legislation and governmental action. This principled position sets libertarians apart from conservatives as well as other non-libertarians.
Libertarians Are Not Welfare-State “Liberals”
Libertarians are not to be confused with the so-called “civil libertarians” which typify the membership and leadership of the American Civil Liberties Union. It is true that the ACLU has come to the defense of freedom of speech for certain minorities (e.g., nazis, communists, and anarchists) and this is commendable – but the podium has often been at taxpayers’ expense, which is a “no-no” from the real libertarian perspective. Many “civil libertarians” believe that some people have a “right” to violate the rights of others; they claim there is a “right to a job” or a “right” to welfare payments or a “right” to “free education” or a “right” to free child care – all at the expense of the people (usually the taxpayers) who are forced to pay for these so-called “rights.” Real libertarians are for true freedom, not “freedom” at the forced expense of others. The only obligation that true rights impose on persons is of a negative kind: not to interfere with the rights of other people – i.e., to refrain from the initiation of the use of coercion. This is the core principle of libertarianism and is sometimes called the ‘Non-Aggression Axiom’.
Welfare-state “liberals” and “civil libertarians” speak of “rights” of people as members of specially privileged groups, such as “women’s rights” or “gay rights” or “rights of the handicapped” or even so-called “animal rights”! Real libertarians know that there are only individual rights, not group rights. There is no such thing as “gay rights” or “black rights” or “white rights” or left-handed Martian rights. Government must not be used to dish out special privileges to any group for any reason, since government cannot give anyone anything unless it takes it away from others by force, thereby violating their rights. There can be no such thing as a “right” to violate the rights of others.
No doubt there are some well-intentioned ACLU members who do promote true civil liberties and uphold human rights; however, the ACLU has not come to the defense of the rights of school children whose freedom is being violated daily by compulsory attendance laws and the tyranny of Federally-ordered forced busing. Nor do I know of any case in which the ACLU has defended the constitutional rights of businessmen who are being harassed by OSHA agents and other bureaucrats, or hounded by such arbitrary and subjective laws as the antitrust acts. Indeed, many “civil libertarians” seem callously insensitive to the victims of crime and legal plunder – while they defend known criminals from justice.
Because of their consistent adherence to the principle of individual rights, libertarians are the only true defenders of liberty — civil or otherwise. Real libertarians understand that freedom of speech and other civil liberties depend on the sanctity of private property – not its violation by anti-discrimination laws and other forms of government intervention.
Libertarians Are Not for Unlimited Majority Rule
Libertarians are not democrats. While majority rule may or may not be as good as any other mechanism for selecting the men and women who administer the offices of government, libertarians deny that anyone or any group has a right to rule over other peaceful (non-coercive) citizens – whether they are in the majority or minority at any given time. If stealing is wrong for an individual to do, it is still wrong when conducted by a large group or by a majority vote. The number of people involved in an act does not change the rightness or wrongness of the act. There is no magic number that turns an individual wrong into a collective right. In a libertarian republic, the basic policy of government (i.e., laissez faire) is set by reference to fundamental principle — the principle of individual rights — and not determined by a show of hands. Libertarians uphold the right of the peaceful individual to self-ownership and private property against any who would violate this right – even a majority.
Libertarians Are Not Anarchists
Libertarians are not anarchists. While it is true that some individuals favor a political system of competing vigilante committees, and refer to this position as “anarcho-capitalism” (a view formerly held by libertarian economist Murray Rothbard), this is a confusing misnomer based on an apparent failure to clearly distinguish between the nature of market institutions (which do not involve the use of coercion at all, either initiatory or retaliatory) and the nature of coercive entities (criminal or legal). Actually, libertarianism rests on the concepts of individualism, self-ownership, private property, & voluntary (market) exchange. Classical anarchism not only opposed the political state, but also some voluntary organizations of which it disapproved. Most importantly, true anarchists opposed private property – without which no voluntary relationships are possible. Today’s libertarians are in the classical liberal tradition of Algernon Sidney, John Locke, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Edmund Burke, Herbert Spencer, and Frederic Bastiat – not the anarchist tradition of Proudhon, Kropotkin, and Bakunin.
Libertarians Are Not Pragmatists
Libertarians do not advocate freedom or the free-market economy merely because “it works” (which it does better than any other system); they support it as the only non-coercive and just system – the system in which people are free to deal with one another on a voluntary basis as traders (exchangers of goods and services) instead of as masters and slaves – or as privileged class and exploited host. Others advocate government by whim. Libertarians adhere to certain principles, and without the guidance of principles and standards, all that is left is pragmatic expediency and the tyranny of government by whim. One might say that libertarians are “idealists” in the popular sense of that word; after all, libertarians stand for certain ideals – goals to strive for (e.g., less government intervention, more individual freedom and moral responsibility, free markets, etc.). Because libertarianism is based on man’s nature and the nature of reality, it is the most practicable social system. Libertarians are practical idealists.
Posted in change on July 31st, 2010 by michaelrbaer – Be the first to comment
Not sure who wrote this but it’s worth reading:
Think About This
Whether these changes are good or bad depends in part on how we adapt to them. But, ready or not, here they come!
1. The Post Office. Get ready to imagine a world without the post office. They are so deeply in financial trouble that there is probably no way to sustain it long term. Email, Fed Ex, and UPS have just about wiped out the minimum revenue needed to keep the post office alive. Most of your mail every day is junk mail and bills.
2. The Check. Britain is already laying the groundwork to do away with checks by 2018. It costs the financial system billions of dollars a year to process checks. Plastic cards and online transactions will lead to the eventual demise of the check. This plays right into the death of the post office If you never paid your bills by mail and never received them by mail, the post office would absolutely go out of business.
3. The Newspaper. The younger generation simply doesn’t read the newspaper. They certainly don’t subscribe to a daily delivered print edition. That may go the way of the milkman and the laundry man. As for reading the paper online, get ready to pay for it. The rise in mobile Internet devices and e-readers has caused all the newspaper and magazine publishers to form an alliance. They have met with Apple, Amazon, and the major cell phone companies to develop a model for paid subscription services.
4. The Book. You say you will never give up the physical book that you hold in your hand and turn the literal pages. I said the same thing about downloading music from iTunes. I wanted my hard copy CD. But I quickly changed my mind when I discovered that I could get albums for half the price without ever leaving home to get the latest music. The same thing will happen with books. You can browse a bookstore online and even read a preview chapter before you buy. And the price is less than half that of a real book. And think of the convenience! Once you start flicking your fingers on the screen instead of the book, you find that you are lost in the story, can’t wait to see what happens next, and you forget that you’re holding a gadget instead of a book.
5. The Land Line Telephone. Unless you have a large family and make a lot of local calls, you don’t need it anymore. Most people keep it simply because they’re always had it. But you are paying double charges for that extra service. All the cell phone companies will let you call customers using the same cell provider for no charge against your minutes.
6. Music. This is one of the saddest parts of the change story. The music industry is dying a slow death. Not just because of illegal downloading. It’s the lack of innovative new music being given a chance to get to the people who would like to hear it. Greed and corruption is the problem. The record labels and the radio conglomerates simply self-destruct. Over 40% of the music purchased today is “catalog items,” meaning traditional music that the public is familiar with. Older established artists. This is also true on the live concert circuit. To explore this fascinating and disturbing topic further, check out the book, “Appetite for Self-Destruction” by Steve Knopper, and the video documentary, “Before the Music Dies.”
7. Television. Revenues at the networks are down dramatically. Not just because of the economy. People are watching TV and movies streamed from their computers. And they’re playing games and doing lots of other things that take up the time that used to be spent watching TV. Prime time shows have degenerated down to lower than the lowest common denominator. Cable rates are skyrocketing and commercials run about every 4 minutes and 30 seconds. I say good riddance to most of it It’s time for the cable companies to be put out of our misery. Let the people choose what they want to watch online and through Netflix.
8. The “Things” That You Own. Many of the very possessions that we used to own are still in our lives, but we may not actually own them in the future. They may simply reside in “the cloud.” Today your computer has a hard drive and you store your pictures, music, movies, and documents. Your software is on a CD or DVD, and you can always re-install it if need be. But all of that is changing. Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all finishing up their latest “cloud services.” That means that when you turn on a computer, the Internet will be built into the operating system. So, Windows, Google, and the Mac OS will be tied straight into the Internet. If you click an icon, it will open something in the Internet cloud. If you save something, it will be saved to the cloud. And you may pay a monthly subscription fee to the cloud provider.
In this virtual world, you can access your music or your books, or your whatever from any laptop or handheld device. That’s the good news. But, will you actually own any of this “stuff” or will it all be able to disappear at any moment in a big “Poof?” Will most of the things in our lives be disposable and whimsical? It makes you want to run to the closet and pull out that photo album, grab a book from the shelf, or open up a CD case and pull out the insert.
9. Privacy. If there ever was a concept that we can look back on nostalgically, it would be privacy. That’s gone. It’s been gone for a long time anyway. There are cameras on the street, in most of the buildings, and even built into your computer and cell phone. But you can be sure that 24/7 “They” know who you are and where you are, right down to the GPS coordinates, and the Google Street View. If you buy something, your habit is put into a zillion profiles, and your ads will change to reflect those habits. And “They” will try to get you to buy something else. Again and again.
All we will have that can’t be changed are Memories.